Who says what?

Novelist, mother, minister, and yoga teacher muses on books, babies, motherhood, and what matters with reverent humor.

Friday, September 17, 2010

The Joys of Mediocrity

Having just finished Mary Pipher's (of "Reviving Ophelia" fame) book "Seeking Peace," I can absolutely recommend it to make you feel better about the ordinary mediocrity of your own life and successes. And not to talk about you, but it sure made me feel better about me--or more than better, grateful and relieved that my first novel didn't bring me incredible wealth, an interview with Oprah, or a cross-country book trip with adoring fans throwing themselves at me.

Yes, riches and fame can be a very bad thing as Pipher points out. Can't recommend the book highly enough for that reason. There's nothing like been thankful for life as it is. Byron Katie teaches that when you don't get what you want, you ought to say: "I've been spared." We don't know from what--or sometimes we do. In either case, sometimes not getting what we imagined would be best is the true blessing.

And to hear it from Pipher, whose book is subtitled "Chronicles of the Worst Buddhist in the World," wealth and celebrity suck. Better a small life. That's what we're enjoying here as the season changes, one green leaf becoming red at a time, the last tomatoes to pick, and the almost here-ness of baby number three, who won't bring me any money or fans (and who will probably make me very tired, right, even more tired than I am sleeping nine months pregnant), but who is still, and very much, what we here have wanted, some of us for a long time (me) and some of us only more recently converted to the idea of a "bigger" (I don't know when three kids become big, but it has) family (my very cool husband who swore he only wanted two until he changed his mind and decided out of love for me and the children we already have that I could have my bonus kid). In the end, I'd rather have children than fame, and when I think of the higher hopes I had for my novel, I get to remind myself where the real riches are without having to go through the trouble Mary Pipher dealt with to get there.

If you're at all feeling poor, in any way, the book may well make you feel richer and it's a quick, easy read.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Ah, The Triumph

Having returned from our grand overseas vacation, six whole weeks on the sunny island of England (no irony there, actually, as it only rained three days and we went to the beach several times a week and got TANS), I can finally relax into preparation mode for baby number three--closet reorganizing, furniture shopping and listening assiduously to my hypnobirthing CD.

Well, relax is a relative term. After the birth of my daughter, more than two years ago, the universe delivered me some growth opportunities (um, yes, irony there), in the form of one debilitating case of anxiety, a popular malady in my family, but one I had gratefully been relieved of having in heavy doses--until then.

After two years of what I think of as particularly funny post-partum woe (much harder to laugh at your own post partum depression, but the post partum anxiety? Waking your husband at three in the morning convinced you're having a heart attack (heartburn)? Now that stuff is very funny. In fact, I have a whole routine worked up that someday, I'm sure, I'll be able to perform to large masses of women in huge theaters around the globe. But anyway, I digress), I had to face my ultimate phobia, flying on a plane. I have flown on many planes over the course of my life. I flew frequently between my two divorced parents as a child and for pleasure as a teenager and adventure in my twenties, but over time grew more and more afraid of it.

It would be hard to underestimate the sense of bravery I felt once I'd clicked my seat belt for our flight to London. To even sit there, going on a trip that was almost entirely for my husband, and therefor lacking any personal motivation, six months pregnant, with a four and a two year old, so frightened my knee caps were shaking, drew to mind Eleanor Roosevelt's famous quote: "You must do the thing you think you cannot do." Well, I did. And I'm better for it.

The truth is, I have called upon the same thing over the years of my life when in trouble or pain or fear, and I did it again as I've worked with healing from this post partum anxiety. My spiritual practice has sustained me, even when I have felt it ebb almost completely away. There is no doubt in my mind that God, as I understand God, got me on that plane and delivered me safely back. Now as to the matter of how I understand God...

That's a much longer and undoubtedly more boring post. I just wanted to send a word out to all the mamas who endure the same anxious days and nights, often in the first few years after children come along, that you are not alone--in any way--and peace is more possible than we even know--if we believe. Well, I believe, anyway. Sometimes with each breath I've got to believe again for the first time. Which is a good practice, entirely like motherhood, beginning again every time you think of it, to be more like the mother you'd like to be, courageous and kind.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Is It Just Me?

So your husband takes you on a lovely English vacation with trips to London, to see castles and for cream teas, and all you care about is: a) where the nearest toilet is b) the source of your next meal c) when the children will go to sleep so you can go to sleep and d) where you can put your feet up.

I'm sure some more sophisticated, interesting human being would care about more than these four things. Alas, I am not that person. Something about pregnancy, inparticular third trimester (although morning sick first trimester too), reduces my interests to two simple things: rest and food. Am I the only one to feel this way? Is it hormonal? I have been, for most of my life, more in love with my backyard than any foreign country. What wanderlust I had got spent in my early twenties traveling across the country. I've always felt that Americans should see more of their own homeland before they ventured off to Paris and Italy and when asked--recently by my husband--if I'd like a day trip to Paris, I merely shrugged. (Thinking: No, I'd like to have a few hours by myself to sort the children's clothing and make room in our tiny house for a third baby. Actually.)

More than being a homebody, I've become more sure over time that whatever is over there, wherever there may be, is probably not much better than what's over here. In fact, despite not being totally in love with my current home town, I have been known to head over to the town beach, take a swim, and return home saying, "There is no more beautiful place on earth than here." I feel that about where I live.

Of course, England has some amazing hedges. I've been on the hedge tour. Every now and then you can peak through them to see the views. But I'm hardly a good travel guide with my hot, swollen, feet and my lusty cravings for a mattress and a good pillow. I would like to know if any "hard" research has been done on the travel habits of the pregnant female. I'd venture to guess that most of them are keen to nest and wait a few years on the Eiffel Tower trip. Anyone got studies to back me up?

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Go TO Sleep!

Now that I have had the opportunity to witness first hand the long-term (and short-term) effects of cumulative sleep loss in the persons of my two very tired children who on average have lost between 2-3 hours of sleep a night over this vacation, I can personally affirm the research I've read and believed all along. Children must sleep. They must sleep a lot.

I have a son who, since infancy, has done best with tons of sleep. Most recently, twelve hours at night and a good hour nap, sometimes two hours. My daughter's natural appetite is somewhat less, as she tends to be need about 11 to 1.5 and a similar nap (and at 20 months younger).

But the fascinating chapter from Nurture Shock (a book I highly recommend) on the correlation between mood disorders, IQ and obesity (to name a few) with sleep loss in children coupled with seeing my two so compromised, makes me feel even more fervently that we should all, well, go to sleep! For longer.

I've been known to say, jokingly, that all the world's problems would be solved if we could all get a good night's sleep. Apparently, I have been right.

In my parenthood, I've been determined to uphold night time and nap time. Two books that I worked with, The No Cry Sleep Solution, and Healthy Child, Healthy Sleep Habits, educated me about the critical sleep need for infants and toddlers (while also making me feel better about my own sleep habits and why I feel so cranky when I don't get enough). I can't recommend them enough. And for mothers who are having trouble with their young children, maybe more sleep is the answer--or an earlier bedtime, or more incentive for a mid-day nap.

There are so many worthwhile statements in Nurture Shock, I don't have time to record them but leave you with this thought: "Sleep is a biological imperative for every species on earth. But humans alone try to resist its pull. Instead, we see sleep not as a physical need but a statement of character. It's considered a sign of weakness to admit fatigue--and it's a sign of strength to refuse to succumb to slumber."

Long live the truly strong among us, who, like myself, are keen to admit their fatigue!!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Travels with Children

Since I've gone out of my way to complain about my traveling woes, I'd like to spend some quality blogging time detailing some of the more lovely aspects of being abroad with my just four and two year-old.

Or perhaps you can think of these as pointers. If you plan to hike/walk with children along the many public footpaths in England definitely do bring chocolate and candies so that you can, in Pavlovian fashion, train your children to continue to walk by feeding them. Do not, however, bring along your stroller. It will not fit over, around or through. Anything.

Some might believe that there is no good food in England. This is not so. We have enjoyed a number of culinary products, chief among them: cheese. No food is enjoyed more by my two children, my eldest in particular. However, like most indulgences, it has its down side. "Sweetie, can you say constipation?" Some of the other foods we have loved: milk chocolate by Cadbury (nothing like the way it's made in the states), fresh peas in a pod, every kind of berry, grown here locally in Kent, carrots and broccoli (even the brown broccoli tastes good), beer (I'm not drinking but my husband claims it's excellent), and bread. You can buy delicious bread here from the grocery store for the equivalent of less than two American dollars. Amazing.

Finally, there is the wee issue of translation. As my husband instructed me on the plane over, do not ask for a napkin when you want to wipe your hands or they'll give you a maxi-pad. (Apparently the word "napkin" is coming into favor more, which I appreciate, since I felt silly asking for a serviette.) If an old man approaches you and says, "Hello, love," he's not a pervert, he's merely British. My son was asked the other day by a school age child, "Do you speak English?" Clearly we don't. In this country, your backyard is your garden. The mailbox is the postbox. The garbage can is the dustbin. And that diaper, it's a nappy. I have, on occasion, resorted to baby sign language (the only kind I know), with sales clerks in the hopes of conveying my meaning.

There is one thing I have noticed the English do very well. Strollers. They are so sexy, so fantastic, so stylish, I may well pay to bring one home. They have these cute little umbrellas that attach and old-fashioned style pram tops with jog-stroller type wheels. Luckily, I am having another baby or how else could I justify such an indulgence? I will buy one, load it up with cheese and chocolate, and bring it home.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Bad Lit, Good Chick? Or Bad Chick, Good Lit?

I read an interesting review of my novel the other day, picked up by my Google notifier that tells me anytime anyone mentions my book (so be careful!!). It was a fine review, but one part of it struck me. The author wrote about how, since she was happy with her husband during her child's first year of life, she couldn't identify with the protagonist in my book. Because of this, she didn't love the book.

Now what fascinates me is the criteria for judging books among the chick-class. We decide whether or not we like a novel based on whether or not we can directly identify with the main character. As someone who reads voraciously, who spent four years getting a higher education in English, I can assure you that I have loved many novel with a nasty protagonist I could not imagine myself into.

With all serious literature (and much of men's fiction), there is no need to read only what you can directly relate to as if it were one's own life. Why the limitation among women?

I've had countless women who have NO children tell me how much they liked my book. Is it possible that while many people read novels about life in Iraq or Italy, people who live in Ohio or Utah, that while many women read novels with male main characters, and many men read novels with female main characters (in fact one of my friend's husbands stayed up until one in the morning because he couldn't put my book down, yes, my book about a new mother), that CHICKS who read lit are so limited by their own experience they can't judge a book if they aren't the main character themselves?

Because where does that leave Shakespeare and Milton and Grisham, for that matter? Oh, I think chicks may be able to do better, stretch themselves out. After all, I'm a chick and I just finished a book about a Buddhist man. It was very funny. If you're feeling like a Buddhist man, you may even enjoy it: Breakfast with Buddha.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Interview with Self

Enquiring minds want to know: what's the hardest part of being nearly seven months pregnant and in England with two young children?

You want to know what it's like? You want to KNOW, is that it? In the first place, I'd like to take a deep breath and do a sun salutation but in the place we're staying but the ceilings are too low to raise your arms up over your head. And while my dear offspring have yet to settle into a rhythm after these weeks, and still are getting up at seven and not falling asleep until nine and only occasionally nap and then usually in the car, and when I have to sit with them in the car while they nap the sweat drips down my back and pools near my bottom, this is not the hardest part.

Here's the hardest part: I adore them. I love to mother them. I love to feel like I'm doing a good job--and to see them reflect this. Alas, on this trip I have felt like screaming: THESE NASTY BEASTS DON'T BELONG TO ME. In particular this is true of my son who has taking to either hitting me when I demand he do something, or threatening to hit me, usually in the neighborhood of twenty-seven times. Yes, please tell me this is a phase.<

Okay, enough with your complaining. What's the best part?

Good question. Maybe the times I've walked down the high street (what they call the main street with all the shops) in a town near us called Whitstable where there still exists a baker, a butcher, a cheese shop, a veggie/fruit store, a fish market, and a sweets store. It reminds me of the sweetness and simplicity of how life may have been in the way long ago...and also could still may, may still be in the future. And too there have been a few truly joyful moments with the children, when yesterday my boy got on a big jumping pillow at this adventure playground and tears came to my eyes at the sight of his pleasure. You know it hurts my heart to feel so distant from them--to be the disciplinarian so ceaselessly. Now that's the hardest part.

Well, no one asked you to be so serious.

You're right. The hardest part is the cheese. Cheese at every meal. Cheese every day for lunch. Don't make me explain why this is hard.
On the other hand, the best part is the cheese. Cheese at every meal. Cheese every day for lunch. Tasty cheese.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Olympic Vacationing

A brief list of where we've visited in our week and a half in Kent.

Leeds Castle
New Romney
Royal Tunbridge Wells
Sutton Valence

(This does not include the many, many, many towns we have driven through giving the children their naps.)

Today we went for a second time to Leeds Castle, a gorgeous place with not just a castle but ponds and walks and open lawns and play structures and swans and peacocks wondering around as well as ducks and geese and birds of all kinds.

Adeline, who has inherited my keen delight in babies, strolled around after a gang of four ducks this afternoon calling them "baby ducks," even though they were full grown. As they approached an enormous, beautiful male peacock, resting in the shade, she said: "There's your mama, ducks. There's your mama." I didn't bother to correct her. I could see how it would make perfect sense to a two-year old mind. Little bird is baby, big bird is mama. Never mind that the pretty peacocks are all male.

We've succeeded in moving up bedtime. From 10:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Oh, the luxury in that last hour of the day!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Comforts of Home

Clearly, I'm not a good traveler and while I expected to be homesick on this trip, I did not anticipate exactly what I would be homesick for. I thought I'd miss the comforts of home, but I actually miss the comforts of home.

Well, it's England, and things are smaller here. Like cars and houses and bathrooms. That's fine; it will keep me trim. But what about the small amount of hot water? Or the lack of dishwashers? These people are so evolved they charge a pollution fee if you drive into London. You can drive for eight years on a tank of gas. We're working so hard in America for this kind of enlightenment? It's terrible.

Give me the endless American cars fit to the endless American buts and the wasteful, negligent consumption of everything. It's so, so, so...comfortable.

The children love it. Every time we go into a public bathroom, Adeline squeals with delight: "A little sink!" All the sinks are the right height for the children to wash their hands. We even went for a ride on the world's smallest passenger steam train the other day. Very relaxing, especially compared to the driving which requires constant vigilance and a keen sense of the length of your side mirrors.

I'm not complaining, of course. I would never complain. How can you complain when it stays light until well after ten p.m. in a place where people, in all sincerity, call you "mate?" I don't miss all those awful, rude Americans. Just their very big rental houses with room to turn around in the bathroom. (While helping Ellias in the potty today--wipe his backside if you must know--I heard Daddy say, "You need to move forward a little," to which my son replied, "You have to go out into the hallway so there's room.")

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Travel Delights

I suppose one question might be: how many hours do you spend attempting to get your child to nap before you give up? Is three two many? Because really, at a certain point, you lose track of the goal (sleeping child), and find you've arrived in a twilight zone of repetitive Twinkle Twinkles and monotonous rocking and while you've put YOURSELF to sleep, the child is still awake.

Hmmm, yes, life after jet lag in a new country in a new place with a two year old who's never been in a twin bed before! Most of the past few days has been spent getting the children to sleep, being infuriated that they aren't, and resorting to pathetic methods of bribery because my own coping skills are so poor due to the time change and lack of sleep and the fact that my children will not go to sleep! (You see the terrible circle in all this.)

I'm sure it will get better. In the meantime, my son has been threatened with nothing to eat for a day but cucumbers (my husband's idea), and my daughter, who doesn't have any idea what one is, has been threatened with a spanking. When asked: do you want a spanking? She replied: Yes, and started to giggle.

These are parenting methods that don't work. But what does? Day by day we try things out.

On the upside, it's fifty degrees here and windy and rainy. Maybe there's not just a time change, but a season change as well. This is good for a pregnant woman, I guess. I don't have to worry about swollen feet from the heat, but isn't it June?

Anyway, enough complaining. They have castles here. That makes up for a lot.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

European Vacation

Last time I got back from a trip that required airplane travel, I spent many months saying, in response to the generic questions "How are you?", as long as I'm not on a plane, I'm fine. Because, as it so happens, I would rather be pretty much anywhere but on a plane.

Yet, I will be on a plane in two days for SEVEN (count 'em) hours with my ever-expanding baby belly and my two children all of almost four and two. Does this sound like fun to anyone out there? If it weren't for the pregnancy, I'd sign on for enough medication to get me seriously drooling and out of commission for every last second of that flight.

On the bright side, I've taken this opportunity to go shopping and acquire everything imaginable for the comfort of my plane ride. I'm usually a Salvation Army kind of girl, but for this trip, it's been brand new all the way. There is some therapy in shopping I've realized. I only wish I could shop on the plane. (And don't tell me I can virtually. I want the distractions of the store.)

Who know how much blogging will get accomplished while we are in England. (I should say: whilst we are in England), though I will certainly try.

In the meantime, send me your good thoughts to keep the plane afloat, free of maniacs-on-board (my children being the exception), and as peaceful as a yoga class. Ommmmmmmmmmm.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Dancing on the Cervix

You know what I'm thinking of? Lionel Richie, of course. And oh, it is such a feeling, when the little two pound baby tap dances across my cervix. The beauty of a third pregnancy is that, as I no longer have any muscle tone, I get to experience all the wonders of pregnancy a little bit earlier.

Like baby kicks on my cervix. And Braxton Hicks contractions. Which I have been feeling since month four! Imagine that. I keep telling my husband how strong this baby is. I've been able to visually see the kicks for weeks now. Only to find out, after I talked to the midwife, that the reason my next child seems like a Sumo wrestler is because I'M ALL STRETCHED OUT.

Let's hope this comes in really handy during labor when the baby simply falls out of my lax, lazy pelvic muscles. Apparently, no amount of Kegels can combat the taxed muscles of my upper pelvis, not that I don't try. I am a constant Kegel-er.

According to the children, the baby will come out of my belly button. Now THAT I would like to see (as if it weren't amazing enough to have an eight pound person emerge from the vagina). Luckily, my vagina is bigger than my belly button. I hope this is true for the rest of you. But, hey, if it's not, that would be unique and you could probably get your own show on TLC, so everything has an upside.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Mother? Or is it Housewife?

While I have many gifts, cleaning is not one of them. Nor is cooking. I don't consider myself particularly gifted at mothering, but I love it, and my desire to be good at it makes up for some of the actual imperfections (I think. Ask the kids in a decade). But what I didn't realize--apparently I was not paying attention--is that more than half of mothering is, actually, cleaning. (Or is it eighty percent?)

How can that be? I enjoy playing with my children, singing to them, reading to them, taking them to the park, to classes, on play dates, around the yard to look at slugs and other fascinations, so how is that so much of my job has nothing to do with these things? Instead, I am to clean the kitchen and wash the grimy, finger-printed, finger-painted table, and figure out how to vacuum while the children wrestle with each other at my feet, and how to do laundry (not just wash it, but have it dried and folded and PUT AWAY). But you know all this. You do all this: make the doctor appointments and the special shoe shopping trips and peel stickers off the floor and the car and your clothes.

I may be especially handicapped in this area. I have certain friends whose houses simply put me to shame. How do they do it? WHEN do they do it? WHY do they do it? How come I can't do it?

To Hell With All That, a fantastic book of essays, has a piece about the difference between a mother and housewife. (Mothers are housewives and housewives are mothers but the emphasis is different). I am definitely a mother, so why should my household failures bother me so? I mean, is it that bad to clean the floor with my bare feet? Have you done this? Walk around and once the cheerio or the sticker or the old noodle attaches to the bottom of your foot, you peel it off and voila, slightly cleaner floor. I have yet to find the equivalent to this method in cooking. Any ideas?

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Keep Truckin'

Wouldn't it be nice to have your own personal cheerleader? (Provided she also cleaned house, did laundry, cooked meals and gave professional, therapeutic massages?)

Because then someone would say to you: keep going. You're doing an awesome job.

Sometimes, because I'm like this, I tell myself what a great job I'm doing.

And you know what? I feel much, much better. And then I do a better job.

Now you won't believe me because I haven't been watching you, but I don't doubt that you're doing an awesome job too.

Think of the baseball players. What makes them great? Hitting the ball thirty percent of the time! Talk about setting the bar low. As my husband pointed out, you don't want a surgeon with those kinds of numbers, but a mother? Might be good enough.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Last Day

Today was my son's last day of his first year of preschool and while I was looking around at the playground afterwards searching for the champagne, no one else seemed to think it was in order. So much for marking the major milestones...

After all, aren't we the same people who posted online photographs of the kid the first time he a) clapped his hands b) peed on the potty c) picked his nose? Yes, we are!

And aren't we the same people who called up the grandparents the first time she a) rolled over without being gentle led into it by our hands b) sat up c) talked back to us in our own angry tone of voice?

I was thinking, on the drive home, oh, time goes so quickly! And then, getting unsentimental, I remembered how slowly some of these days have gone. I suppose they're both true. Just yesterday (it seems) he was a babe in diapers drooling on my shoulder, when actually, just yesterday, he ripped some buckets out of my daughter's hands and said: "No more bucket time! Bucket time is OVER!" What a lovely moment. I saw with perfect clarity just how I act when I attempt to discipline.

Now he's grown his four years as a child, and I've grown mine as a mother. This mothering thing has a steep learning curve; I'm happy to say I think I'm getting better. Very slowly.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Why This Blog Is Lame

I don't know if anyone else can claim this great title, but it suits me, so I'm taking it. I am the anti-blogger. I am the blogger who doesn't even like blogging. I am the blogger who doesn't do facebook, who will not tweet. In fact, in graduate school, I refused to have an EMAIL account (and I'm not that old so yes they existed back then and yes that's how people communicated). I was the only person in the entire school without one. I insisted on being PHONED for all communication. Can you imagine?

And now that I use the cyber world slightly more than that, I still will not bend the very few Luddite scruples I have left. (And after an enlightening program on the shameless privacy policies of Facebook aired on NPR which I heard, I am quite happy about my choice.) And then, to get to the point, my blog is lame because it's not a gushing confessional (think I'm going to write about my sex life, fights with my husband, and my worthless boss). Nor is it a political firework. (Although I have said before and will say again that writing about diapers and poop IS a political act.) And, I do not appear naked anywhere. I don't talk about celebrities. I don't date them either.

Alas for the six of you who read this. Where's the meat? Where are the goods? And for that matter, where's all the advertising? Am I the only blogger left who isn't hawking goods for a dozen companies? (Yeah, I am selling my own book. And if you click on it you'll get to Amazon, but really, you should be a better person than that and buy it at your local bookstore.)

Anyway, I'm still right. I'm as right as I was back in seminary when I refused email. Communication is always better face to face--if not then voice to voice. And the only world I want to be a part of isn't cyber. Call me old-fashioned. Call me lame. I want people for dinner and play dates. (And yes, occasionally, I do long for a few comments left on my posts, but not nearly as much as I long for company.) Now that I'm thinking about it, maybe I could start up a whole website about this, a whole network of people just like me, blogging and connecting and posting all about how much they don't like the internet. Think it would work?

Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Chocolate is Back

One of the saddest, sorriest, most devastating side effects of my pregnancies has been a total lack of interest in chocolate. In fact, just a month ago, my husband bought me some of my favorite chocolates. They sat in the house untouched for days. Then I gave them to my mother. (Never mind being too sick to get out of bed, not being able to eat all day, constant nausea, and an aversion to the smell of my own house.)

Begs the questions: who am I? Without my chocolate, do I even exist?

I am happy to announce that a very small, modest, controlled desire for chocolate has resurfaced in my life. Though it will not lead me to eat an entire box of Whitman's chocolates in one sitting, I do believe there is a light at the end of the tunnel and I may well become the person I used to be.

In the meantime, morning sickness, as usual, has proven to be my best diet and people cannot stop saying, "You look so thin!"

Amazing what happens when you take a daily chocolate regiment out of a diet. Still, colors weren't as bright, laughs weren't as hearty, sunsets weren't as brilliant without chocolate in my life. I'm so glad you're back, dear chocolate. But what a shame that you give me terrible heartburn; can we work on that?

Isn't it always the ones you love who hurt you?

Monday, May 17, 2010

You're Having a WHAT?

Now that it's officially, official (little baby ultrasound pics. and everything),I can start blogging and blabbing about baby number three due in October.

I thought I'd start with some of my favorite responses to this little announcement:

"I'm happy for you...I think."

"I can't believe you're having another kid!"

"Did you...make a mistake?"

"Was this planned?"

And these are no innocent strangers. These are friends! Yes, shocking though it may be, I wanted to have a third child in this age of only children. If I had it my way, I'd probably have a whole lot more; despite my imperfect parenting, I love it. You'd think from these comments I'd announced my 20th child! Like some crazy, quiverful movement fundamentalists! I'm AMISH folks, get it straight. Amish, feminist, liberal and religious. Geez. And yes, I'll give birth with a long dress on and a bonnet. So you can be happy for me, really. I am not merely at the mercy of my biology like all those poor babes a hundred years ago. I HAVE birth control. I just don't use it. :-)

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Hanging Out With the Food Throwers

I got a number of responses after blogging about loneliness and motherhood. Reading a a great essay, "Tell Your Secrets," by Ariel Gore, included in the book Your Children Will Raise You, I came across this:

"I'll never get used to the reality that motherhood is such an isolating experience. There's hardly a more common profession, yet many of us feel completely alone. Our individual homes and our time constraints keep us from one another. And labels--bad mother, good mother, stay-at-home mother, working mother, single mother, and the rest--not only encourage guilt and undermine our efforts but also divide us as potential allies."

I do wonder, often, if motherhood isolates as much in other cultures--or if it did in other times? Or if our time and place isn't a particularly isolating one, separated as we are by our technologies and our suburban privacy. My husband tells me that the idea of private property doesn't exist in the same way in England. They have walking paths that cross individual property all over the country. You just keep walking respectfully.

Sounds good.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Happy Mother's Day!

What else does Mother's Day make you think of but shopping?

Flowers, candies, chocolates...books!

New motherhood can run the gamut from simply exhausting to severe-depression inducing, and a card once a year makes it all worth while.

Seriously, now, there is no other time like that first year: intense, overwhelming, amazing, acute. That's the main reason I wrote my first novel--when my son was nine months old. I'd never known anything like it, despite what friends and family had told me. And every time I talk to a new mother, my heart responds in sympathy.

So I've concocted a Mother's Day challenge. For every person who gives a copy of my novel, THIS LITTLE MOMMY STAYED HOME, to a new mother (first year of motherhood) in her/his life, I will donate two dollars to MotherWoman. MotherWoman is an incredible local (to the Amherst, Mass) resource for mothers of all kinds and stage. If you don't know a new mother to give the novel to, you can simply blog about the challenge and the book, and send me the link, and I will donate two dollars to MotherWoman. (When you visit their link you can also see their mother's day fund raiser.)

True, there's some shameless self-promotion in here. I DO want people to buy the book. But it's also been powerful for me to receive the letters and emails from the mothers who have read it who feel that it is has helped them tremendously. Here are a few samples from a few of these--and keep in mind these are all people I do not know. (And I didn't bribe or pay them to say these things!)

It is 5:00 am, that terrible time you describe in your book when it's too early to get up and too late to go back to sleep - I've been up since 2, actually, and just finished your book - I cannot even tell you how much it helped me... thank you, thank you. --A Massachusetts Mama

Thank you for writing the book This Little Mommy Stayed Home. It was one of the best books I have ever read, honestly. Very truthful, very funny, very real. Reading your book helped me focus on something else, and laugh along with you. It was great, and I am so thankful that I found your book to help me through the hard times. I am just sad that I am done with the book now. --An Iowa Mama

I just wanted to write you to let you know how much I'm enjoying "This Little Mommy Stayed Home." I've been reading it non-stop (in my "free" time between working full time and taking care of my four year old daughter) and I am so amazed by how funny, accurate, and wonderful this book is! I just took it with me on my lunch break and almost started to cry (I am toward the end now). You've captured everything I was feeling as a new mom and it's really made me think about and remember how hard that first year was. --West Coast Mama

Thank you for the gift of this book. --NYC Mama

That's just a small sample!

Here's all you need to do: Give a copy to a new mom. Pick one up at a local bookstore, at Cradle, in Northampton, or online.
Blog about the challenge and the book (if you don't know a new mom) to spread the word to other new moms.
Then, drop me a line at wildemama@hotmail.com and let me know. I will donate $2 for every book given or blog posted. I would love to make more than a small offering to MotherWoman! (More than ten bucks, anyway!) They do so much good for women in a time when we really need it--when don't we need it?

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

The Way It Is

Now you'd think my single biggest gripe with motherhood would have something to do with the way the children gang up on me whenever I want them to do something and run for cover under the baby's crib where I can only reach them if I am willing to drag them out by their ankles. (Which makes me think of city and town "leash laws" for dogs that essentially say you either need to have voice control over your animal or put it on a leash. Hmmm. I think I need two leashes. No way can I direct these children with my voice.)

Moving right along from what is NOT my biggest woe to what is. And frankly, most times, it's a sense of isolation. Staying home with children, despite the many opportunities to go to parks and on play-dates and to playgrounds, is, essentially, a one-woman job. No chats around the water cooler. No conferences. No meetings. Who knew I would one day crave committee meetings?

Some days, I eat every meal alone with the children. Just the three of us. One with table manners, two who throw food. Makes me want to live in a commune.

Seriously, I am a community-oriented person. Last year we put in an offer on a house in a co-housing community (which sadly we didn't get). I think introverts are much better at stay-at-home mothering. Meanwhile, it makes me, on some days, long to be in a polygamous marriage so at least I'd have the company of the other wives during the day--and someone to chat with while I wash the dining room table for the seventh time. Not a bad trade off, I'd say. (I should forward this post to my husband. I think he might dig it.)

Monday, May 3, 2010

Who Knew It Could Be So Hard?

Just finished reading a fantastic memoir: Waiting for Daisy.

Peggy Orenstein manages to be heartbreaking and hilarious as she retells her SIX year saga to have a child. Despite the fact that my reality of child-conceiving has been completely different, I adored this book.

In the first place, it's a fascinating treatise on the idea of motherhood itself--choosing it, not choosing it, fear of it, delaying it, aching for it. In the second place, I had NO idea the real ins and outs of fertility medication/procedure, and it really blew my mind. (The urine of virgin nuns comes to mind as one surprising piece of the "get pregnant" recipe.)

If you have any mother friends who are struggling trying, or have in the past, give them this book. It's hard for me to imagine that anyone could have a harder time than Orenstein (though I'm sure it happens), and she has such a good perspective on her own craziness.

Maybe that's why I liked it. I like people who can make fun of their own neuroses. (Although lying in bed waiting for a thunderstorm this morning and NOT sleeping for worry was not very funny. But it is true that ever since I got electrocuted by the washing machine during a lightening storm, I've developed a touch of a phobia.)

Getting back to the topic, though, some of the questions Orenstein raises I really like:
Are women waiting too long to have babies?
Will a career ever fulfill a woman in the way a child can?
How far would YOU go to have a child? (A good, imaginative exercise for those of us who occasionally want to give our children to those virgin nuns who pee into cups.)
Did the feminists ruin us with too high expectations?
If you never had children, would that be okay with you?

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

New Mother? You Will Survive

A dear friend of mine recently had a her first child and sent me a tiny email about her labor and the first weeks post partum that brought me back to those glorious days of sore nipples, monster maxi-pads, and no-sleep induced crying jags. Since I love to give unsolicited advice, I gave some to her, and now I'm going to give some to you.

Actually, the truth is, whenever I see or hear from a first time mama, I want to wrap her up in my arms and hug her (after I clean her house, do all her laundry and settle her in for a nap, of course). But since I can't do that, here's a small slice of my new mother survival guide.

New mothers often suffer in isolation, thinking that they are the only ones who have a hard time with...(pick two, three or more) nursing/sleeping/emotions/marital relations/ healing/ bonding with the baby/ going to the bathroom/ adjusting to not being yourself any longer (I could go on for a long time). When IN TRUTH, most, if not all mothers, have had some if not all of these troubles. Some mothers will talk about it. Find some moms who aren't afraid to say how hard it is. There is great comfort in knowing THERE ISN'T ANYTHING WRONG WITH YOU IF IT'S HARD. It's supposed to be hard. Especially if you, like many moms, have spent a decade or more being an adult without children. You are not alone.

Vagina displaced? Breasts the size of small boulders (and just as hard)? Small, vulnerable, crying being placed in your care that won't let you sit down/ go to the bathroom/ talk to your husband, friend/ read a book/ eat a meal/ think a thought? If you love to read, you will find humor at the ready for the post partum period. I consider Operating Instructions a must read. Of course, This Little Mommy Stayed Home is sure to get you peeing in your pants (for a good reason). My short reading list includes:
Trisha Ashworth and Amy Nobile, I WAS A REALLY GOOD MOM BEFORE I HAD KIDS
Doesn’t the title say it all?
Naomi Stadlen’s, WHAT MOTHER’S DO: ESPECIALLY WHEN IT LOOKS LIKE NOTHINGRadical stuff, this book. Awesome, especially for a new mother with a small baby.

Nursing and reading is a lot easier than bottle feeding and reading, but if you love to read, sneak it in. Even one page and one laugh can be life saving.

I don’t make a habit of reading Dear Abby, but my husband reads the comics that get printed on the same page. I read an awful response she wrote to a new mother who thought she needed some post-partum meds because she was bored to tears playing with her infant son. I sent Dear Abby a long and not so dear letter that I reprint here, in case you too have experienced some boredom playing with your precious angels. (Who you love beyond reason, of course. But we KNOW that!)Needless to say, Dear Abby didn't publish it.

Dear Abby,
I am writing in response to the letter of 11/4/08 from the New Mom in Las Vegas. Whether or not you are able to publish my letter—in full or in part—I would appreciate it if you could pass it on to this new mother.

Though it may be possible that she has post-partum depression (although it didn’t sound like it from her letter), MOST stay-at-home-mothers (SaHM) are bored, at least sometimes, especially if they’ve left interesting, busy or creative careers to spend time with infants who don’t walk or talk!

Telling this mother that she has a condition that might need medication (as post-partum depression often does) perpetuates a dangerous myth about the stay at home mother. Staying at home with a young child is hard work, tedious, repetitive and often quite lonely. Our mothers may not have had the same experience; they may not have been raised to expect as much as we do in terms of personal satisfaction. Babies, meanwhile, don’t interact as adults do. They are demanding and not always interesting. I have friends, in fact, who love their daughter immensely and always have, who said “we didn’t even enjoy being with her until she was one!” This woman should know that by the time her son is walking and talking, her feelings may change.

Not only that, our ideas of child raising are so different from reality. Life with two children, 6 and 8, may have been what she imagined—school, games, fun times. Even life with a toddler can be more engaging—playground, play dates, singing funny songs together. Most women find that they enjoy certain ages more than others. That’s normal! Being bored is normal!

Here are some things that can be done to make the first year or so of life more fun for everyone.
*Find a family center where parents go during the day. These places are usually packed with toys and other mothers and fathers to commiserate with and enjoy.
*Join a local library story hour. This is a great way to meet other mothers.
*Join another class for babies—swimming, yoga, music. Check out the YMCA or town recreation center. This will be another place to make friends.
*Have play dates with other moms—once you’ve found them—at least weekly! If you can’t find one, start one.
*Read up on baby development. Some books have great ideas for playing that can make it more fun for mom, and an active mind, like this mother obviously has, might enjoy the playing more knowing about what’s actually happening in the baby’s mind
*Hire a babysitter—maybe a young neighbor so it isn’t too expensive—and take an hour every day or so to read, walk, have ADULT time. Many mothers find if they spend some time away doing what they love and what feeds them, they appreciate the time with the baby much more.
*Know that it will pass, soon enough. She might find she enjoys being the mother of an active toddler or even of several children more than the mother of one young baby.

READ about how it is for other mothers so she doesn’t feel so isolated in her feelings. There are some great reads about being a new mother—funny, HONEST, and live-saving.

Most importantly, this mother is doing a wonderful job! She is an excellent mother. Not only is she doing hard, often dull work, in an isolated setting (no chatting at the water cooler for her), she is doing it despite the fact that it, as she wrote “bores me out of my mind.” It’s a myth that all mothers enjoy every stage of babyhood and have a great time. And it is long past time to shatter the myth. We can LOVE our babies and not love being with them—all the time, or some of the time. Some of us love it more of the time, some less, some find it harder than they thought, some easier.

This mother, and all who feel the same, ought to know that they are good mothers. Motherhood is much harder work than ever gets spoken about.

Yours truly,
Samantha Wilde
A mother of two

P.S. Did you have children, Abby? I am dismayed by your response. Motherhood is hard enough without having someone tell you that if you don’t find it fabulously fun you need Prozac!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Following Ellen Meister

One of the gals in the GCC network I am a part of (Girlfriend's Cyber Circuit Network for the uninitiated) is the very funny and very talented Ellen Meister, who in addition to being the author of The Smart One and the fantastic Secret Confessions of the Applewood PTA which I raced through, gave me a awesome quote for This Little Mommy. Her next novel is due in 2011. She's doing a cool promotion through her website about her newsletter and I wanted to share it here with you. (Cause I'm a sharing kind of gal.)

Ellen Meister has an exciting new book coming out next year and she wants to keep you abreast of the news. So she has a special offer ... sign up for her mailing list now and you will automatically be entered in a drawing for a $25 amazon.com gift card.
Just click here, fill out the form, and remember to click through when you get the confirmation email. That's it. Ellen only sends out a few updates a year, so you won't be bombarded. Besides, I think you'll want to hear about her breakthrough novel, THE OTHER LIFE (Putnam/2011), which is already getting great early buzz.

That's it for my public service announcement for the hungry readers of the world.
More later from the land of motherhood, where reading is for me as good as weekend retreat. (I am not even kidding. Okay...almost as good.)

Friday, April 23, 2010

Come see me!

If you are in Eastern Massachusetts or anywhere near by, or know people who are, please come on May 8th to the Danvers Literary Festival. My mother and I will be speaking at 4 p.m. about our books, our writing, and what it means to be a published mother and daughter. I promise to be utterly serious, not crack a joke, and act like a Pulitzer Prize winning novelist who spends her days drinking martinins and smoking heavily--alone in a room with a notepad.


Find out all about the Danvers Literary Festival.

Find out more about my famous mother who is about to publish her 20th novel, Nancy Thayer!

Please post around on Facebook and the like and share the word. It would be awesome to meet some of you who've read This Little Mommy! Even if you're far away, your cyber-friends are probably all over. Leave a comment if you tweet or facebook or put up a link on your blog so I can send you a free coffee maker. (Just kidding. This blog is totally un-commercial. I never try to sell anything except my novel, and I don't do a very good job at that, now do I? DO I?)

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Laundry

I did manage to get out of bed this morning and begin my laundry, propelled primarily by the fact that I no longer have any underwear of any kind to wear, including the variety I save for period days, fat phases, and times when I haven't been able to do my laundry. Which means that yesterday I wore the pair that falls down around my ankles.

I noticed as I was putting things into the washing machine, that other than underwear, I seemed only to be washing pajamas. Oh. Well, being so sick these past days, I have been wearing my pajamas. I've carried around a box of tissues, a cup of tea, now my antibiotics and my thermometer. The worst part of this sickness has been a violent cough that gives a nasty headache.

So why so many pajamas? I must have stuffed six pair in there. Unfortunately, this volcanic-erupting cough also made me pee. And this despite marathon like kegeling done for months on a regular basis!

Perhaps this is also why I have no more underwear. Go ahead. You can call me the leaky lady. Really, I wouldn't mind. I'll wear it as a badge of honor. So much childbirth...so much loss of bladder control. If we lived in a tribal environment, I'd probably get a special dance for this amazing rite of passage. (Sniff. Sob.) I am a real woman now.

Friday, April 16, 2010

April Henry's Latest

On a completely different note from feminism and motherhood (and books are such good escapes for mothers), April Henry's latest has just been released. Just after she toured with the GCC last year, she hit the NYTimes best seller list.
Here's the scoop on the newest in her Triple Threat Series, Hand of Fate.

When the host of a popular radio talk show is murdered, the only thing larger than his listening audience is the lengthy list of suspects glad he's dead. Outspoken radio talk show host Jim Fate dies when poisonous gas fills the studio during his polarizing show, "The Hand of Fate." In the ensuing panic, police evacuate downtown Portland.
FBI Special Agent Nicole Hedges, TV crime reporter Cassidy Shaw and Federal Prosecutor Allison Pierce begin piecing together what happened. And this time it's personal, since one of the women was secretly dating the host.
In the days following Fate's murder, these three colleagues and friends uncover the not-so-public life of Jim Fate. Together, they race of find out the stunning truth of who killed him, how close the killer really is, and the twisted motives behind the cold-blooded murder.

April's touring around now and I'm so glad to have her here to tell us what it's like to be famous! ;-)

If Oprah invited you on her show to talk about your book, what would the theme of that show be?
Unintended consequences.

What was the most fun scene in your book to write? The most difficult?
The most fun was the crazy mayhem when downtown Portland was evacuated. The most difficult was what happened with Allison’s pregnancy.

Do you have a muse, good luck charm, writing vice?
My vices are all not writing related. They usually involve food.

Have you had a "rock star" moment regarding your writing career? If so, what was it?
I was loading towels in the dryer when I got a call from our publisher. A bunch of folks were on a speaker phone yelling, “You’re on the New York Times bestseller list!” I jumped up and down and squealed and felt unreal - and then I kept putting towels in the dryer.

What do you do to celebrate your writing successes?
I am very bad about celebrating.

What is one thing you’ve learned about the publishing industry since getting your first book deal?
“Tireless self promoter” sounds ugly to everyone but your publisher.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
Run, go to kung fu class (the most fun ever! it is great to hit the bag really, really hard), read, try out new cookbooks.

Describe how you got your first book deal.
It was actually the fourth book I wrote. The first book got rejection letters from agents, the second got me my agent and some nice rejection letters from editors, the third got me curt rejection letters, and the fourth sold in three days. So it was my five-year overnight success.

What do you think readers might be surprised to know about you?
Roald Dahl helped me get a short story published when I was in grade school. It was about a six-foot tall frog named Herman who liked peanut butter. Alas, I have lost the story, but not Dahl’s postcard to me.

Can you share some particularly memorable fan mail you received about this or previous books?
With our last book, one eighty-something guy told us he had to live for another year so he could read our next book. Since we are contracted for seven total, we might keep him alive a long time.

Do you pay attention to book reviews? If so, has there been any particular review that made your heart do a little dance?
Reviews are just starting to come in - but I do like Publishers Weekly calling it “Excellent.”

I wish you many more rock star/laundry moments, April! (Makes me think of the Jack Kornfield book, After the Ecstasy, the Laundry--it's just the truth of life!)

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Mama, Are You Feeling Mediocre?

It did occur to me the other day that the cause of much of my angst (can I have angst being over twenty-one? Can I have angst if I neither drink nor smoke? I mean, I do wear black), has to do with a prevailing since of my own mediocrity. But here's how it happened.

I was visiting some blogs in an attempt to figure out what blogs would be best to review my novel (and the next one upcoming) when I happened upon the Most Famous Mommy Blog of All Time. The chick who writes this thing? Her husband QUIT his job because they make so much money from the advertising on her blog and she gets one zillion visitors every micro-second (or something like that). I'm savvy. I think to myself. I'll advertise on this thing. Then those one zillion people will buy my book. Only once I see the cost (think about $1000 an hour), I realized no way/no how.

Then a tiny bout of envy set in. Why don't I have all those visitors to my blog? Why can't my husband quit his job finding a cure for cancer and run my media campaign? Why didn't my book sell more/become a movie/make me a million?

Yes, the big, green monster of envy reared it's ugly head. And I don't even want to be a blogger! Certainly not a professional one. I'm not even much of an amateur blogger and I don't even know if I LIKE blogging, so why in the world do I envy the blogging Diva?

Well, because, not unlike many stay-at-home mothers (as well as working mothers and all the rest of the female race and possibly the entire male race too), I struggle with feelings of my own mediocrity. The trouble with feeling mediocre is that it never seems you are doing enough. If I play with my children all day, tickle them and go to the park, I feel I ought to have done the laundry and cleaned the house and made a better dinner. If I spend the morning working on the novel, I ought to have been playing with the children.

I love the feminists. I am a feminist. But one of the distinct downsides of the second wave of feminism (1970s), that pushed women into the work force by giving them choices, is that now it's nearly impossible to feel as though you've ever made the right one. Not only that, most mothers, whose time and attentions are divided, feel that they are doing many things, and not one of them to excellence.

Most of you who read this know that among my many assorted eccentricities, I love the Duggar family (and others like them). What I can see in communities that support, uplift, encourage, and call women into motherhood, is a greater sense of satisfaction for the mothers. I don't even know what it would look like--in isolation--to excel at mothering. Because the truth is--in isolation--we don't have a sense of ourselves. Communal identity is essential. If we live in a community that thinks more of working mothers than stay-at-home, the sense of meaning in taking care of children full-time falls apart. This is not theory; I can speak from personal experience. (And, of course, the opposite is true).

Not that I have a solution to this problem. Or I do, but it comes in the long run, in revising (again) our sense of the worthiness of mothering, it's value and place in the world--not simply in the family. And, of course, it can't be lip-service, but action that makes all the difference.

So for now, if you are a mother, working at home or working somewhere else, perhaps you will honor yourself for the outstanding job you do. My high school advisor famously said: "Maybe we should all be mediocre and live happily ever after." I think she meant, lower your expectations. Find the contentment and savor it; it's yours. Am I doing a good enough job? I don't know. I'll tell you one thing, though, when I am joyful, I don't care. I don't want to be some famous blogger. I just want to be me. Oh, yes, we are on our way to an affirmation here. Say it with me: I'm good enough, I'm smart enough, and dog gone it, I'm an awesome mom! (Did you say it? Or did you just laugh at me? Go ahead, say it. I bet it will make you smile. If it doesn't, you can have your money back. Woops. This blog is free. Never mind.)

Monday, April 12, 2010

Motherhood is so hard...

But it's the little things that make it all worthwhile.

"This is my brown baby," says the baby about her doll with the brown cloth body while I'm changing her poopy diaper.

"This is my brown baby. This baby is brown," goes her chatter.

"This baby is brown. Just like my poop!"

Oh, such sweet moments for the memory book!

And this baby is TWO today.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Spread the Word

A wonderful review just appeared for THIS LITTLE MOMMY STAYED HOME!

Novel Escapes has given the book 4.5 (out of 5) stars, and does a great job of wrapping up what's good about it. (And The Time Traveler's Wife which everyone--even my husband read--and that's been made into a movie, only got 3.5! Eat your heart out, Audrey Niffinger!)

"I loved this novel and laughed out loud from the first page right through to the end, and I haven’t even had a baby," writes one of the reviewers. And the other chimes in, "I absolutely loved the concept of this book! I just had my first child last winter so could relate to everything she was writing about first hand- however I don’t think that this book is only entertaining for a current mummy- it’s full of useful insights into marriage and finding oneself too so don’t be put off if you’re not right in the midst of the baby thing at the moment."

I'm still convinced that my novel hasn't made it in to the hands of all the mommies (and non-mommies) who would feel the same way as these two women.

And, since I don't socially network with anyone but my children these days, if you're reading this and you're also on Facebook or Tweeter or Goodreads, would you be willing to post a link to the review and mention the book? I think it's possible that most of us think books sell themselves, but there's a lot of work, especially with a debut novel, to get the word out, and I would be every so grateful! If you do, send me a comment about it. Maybe I'll even give out a free book to someone who helps spread the word!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Gone Crazy

I don't suppose anyone is particularly happy to say that they're crazy, although, as far as I can tell, the few unfortunate people who aren't crazy tend to run on the boring side. That said, of the many crazy mothers I know, who in the post partum whirl of life changes and hormonal side-effects have gone a little kooky, few of us wouldn't happily shed the madness for a boring afternoon or two.

After my daughter was born, I was able to come up with some truly crazy post partum anxiety induced forms of craziness that included a mortal terror of Tsunami (while vacationing on Nantucket), the conviction that a plane would fall on my head (as we live along the army base's flight path), griping fear that I would die of the Swine flu (never did worry about my children), and certainty that my ongoing heartburn could be none other than a heart attack (only about 400 times or every time I experienced it).

What is happy is that I am not alone. Mothers everywhere are telling me how crazy they are. Just what does happen when you pop out a kid? Luckily, I was saved from the post partum depression that is all the rage these days, but the anxiety is not a lesser problem, it's just much more funny.

What I most appreciate, since I have been teaching yoga for about a decade and practicing much longer, is when my doctors suggest I do some yoga.

As one of my dearest, wisest yoga teachers said to me once: "I teach all the time because I need this stuff more than anyone else."

At any rate, I would love to bond with all crazy mothers everywhere. Surely there is strength in numbers. In the meantime, please feel free to reassure me that I will not have an airplane land on my house.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Another Good Read

EVERYONE SHE LOVED is just out in paperback, so if you've been waiting, now is the time.

Sheila has more to celebrate than her latest release. Read all about it on her blog and be totally inspired.

Here's a peak at the origins of the book.

Books are born in strange places. Sheila Curran’s latest was conceived in the front seat of a car while her friend drove and their daughters chatted in the backseat. The women were discussing an article Curran had written about two young girls whose parents had died within months of each other.
While talking about the tragedy, Curran realized that choosing the perfect guardian for her kids—one that would raise them as she would--would be next to impossible. Even tougher to swallow would be the possibility that if she died first, her husband might marry someone awful, and then she’d have no control at all. Unless, she mused, she could get him to agree that if he remarried, her sisters and friends would have to agree to his choice of bride, just to prevent some wicked stepmother from moving in.

You can get a sneak preview of the book here in the first chapter. I guarantee if you read it, you'll want to finish it!

I don't know a mother who hasn't thought about these things. Can keep you up at night, actually, if you lean toward the neurotic as I do....

The author of Diana Lively Is Falling Down, Sheila Curran lives in Tallahassee, Florida, with her husband and children.

After you read the book, tell me what you think!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Let Them Potty-Train Themselves

While slaving over a hot stove the other day, my toddler called to me from the bathroom that she needed to go potty.

"Really?" I called back. "What do you need to do?" And kept on cooking. Generally speaking, if someone tells me they need to go potty, it probably has more to do with looking at the potty than needing to pee in it or possibly competitiveness (if say, her older brother has just peed), or jealousy (if I have just peed), and precious little to do with the bladder.

When I finished up my kitchen tasks, I headed to the bathroom. I found, in this order: my daughter standing on the stool, washing her hands. Pee, in the little potty. A diaper, lying on the floor. Then I went back to my daughter and pulled her pants down. No diaper there.

Like a good detective I put all the pieces together. My not even two-year old child went into the bathroom, took off her own button-down jacket and button overalls, removed her diaper, sat on the potty, PEED in it, pulled her pants back up and preceded to wash her hands.

Well, clearly, I'm not needed any longer except for cooking. I have successfully raised my children. Which leaves me quite a bit of time to finish raising myself. A good thing as I seem to need it.

(On the flip-side, I may be needed for the other variety of diaper change. As my daughter pointed out to me while I was cleaning up her messy backside.

"No work, Mama," she said, when I told her the following morning the babysitter would be there for a few hours while I worked.

"Mama can't work? What should I do then?"

"Change my diaper," she said, with a smile on her face.)

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Winging It

Here's Jenny Gardiner, author of Winging It, and fantastically subtitled A Memoir of a Vengeful Parrot Who's Determined to Kill Me.

Now do I need to say anything else? The book
screams buy me now. I'm always on the look out for humor and this is it.

But since Jenny's touring around, we'll let her say a few other things.

Have you had a “rock star” moment regarding your writing career?

Well, maybe a peripheral one. I had the wonderful fortune of having Winging It be selected as a Pulpwood Queen’s book club book for this year, and that meant attending their awesomely fabulous Girlfriends Weekend in January in Jefferson, TX. The keynote speaker was an author whose writing I revere, and I thought at best I’d get a glimpse of him. But instead I got to join the other 30-odd writers who spent the weekend in the company of Pat Conroy, who is one of the most talented authors alive today, in my opinion. He was charming, gracious and thoughtful, he regaled us and the Pulpwood Queens with fascinating tales of his life as a writer and just funny personal anecdotes, and he even made a point of purchasing and having signed books from each author there. How cool was that?

If Oprah invited you on her show to talk about your book, what would the theme of that show be?

Um, how about What Took You So Long??? Actually I think I’d be so overwhelmed with undying gratitude I’d have to bring along a carload of food treats because I know Oprah would appreciate some homemade banana cream pie, maybe some amazing pound cake, I make a kick-ass pumpkin bread, too. The theme would be about plying people with food to please them…

What was the most fun scene in your book to write? The most difficult?

I enjoyed writing the scenes about crazy things Graycie has done–and she’s done plenty. Like when she’d snuck off the cage and I was trying to get her back onto it and using a broom to sort of “direct” her and she kept biting the broom and my ankles while repeating (in my voice) “Hello, Gray chicken!” (a little term of endearment I have for her).

The most difficult had to do with things that happened along the way. In my mind this was a story about Graycie but her life and ours are inexplicably tied together, so it became a memoir of my family as well. And it’s tricky writing about family without invading their privacy, so that was hard for me to strike a balance. And hard to revisit some of the tough things we’ve dealt with over the years.

Do you have a muse, good luck charm, writing vice?

Peanut M&Ms used to be my writing vice, but then I gave them up last year for Lent. Somewhere along the line, Mint M&Ms became my writing vice this year, but I gave them up for Lent. Today, it seems that Thin Mints are my writing vice. Are you beginning to see a pattern here? (I should definitely write at coffee shops, rather than at my desk right in the kitchen!)

(A woman after my own heart!)

You can see a great video of Graycie and enjoy her gift as a mimic!

Jenny Gardiner is also the author of the award – winning novel Sleeping with Ward Cleaver. Her work has appeared in Ladies Home Journal, and the Washington Post. She writes a column of humorous essays for Charlottesville, Virginia’s newspaper, the Daily Progress. She lives in central Virginia with her family.

I love things that make me laugh. Can't wait to read!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


My "baby" has weaned, and practically effortlessly. She will be two next month, and while I am a champion for breastfeeding, especially the health benefits of a year +, I have to say, I was ready to be done. And, apparently, so was she. I had a conversation about it with her one morning, and that was it! So, there are upsides to nursing until your child can understand language very well.

Today, as I rocked her and sang to her before nap time, she moved my shirt out of the way so she could place her head on the skin just below my neck. This is exactly what my son did when I weaned him. He would seek out the one little square of exposed flesh and place his head there. Skin to skin is clearly a comfort. I found it infinitely touching, as well, her little endeavor to be as close to me as possible.

She's a big girl now.

(We told her that stopping nursing meant all kinds of exciting things like: now she can ride on the merry go round and eat peanut butter. Totally unrelated? Not in a child's mind.)

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Hey Fans!

Don't forget to tune in to my blogtalk radio interview tomorrow night with the amazing feminist breeder, a.k.a. Gina (who was just featured on a Discovery Health program).

We'll be chatting books and chicks and literature and MOTHERHOOD!

If you miss the live show, you can always download. Just link to set a reminder!

Can't wait to hear what you think.

In the meantime, for all you social networkers, if you can tweet about the show or post the information to facebook, I will be forever in your debt! (God knows I won't ever get on Twitter of Facebook.)

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Everyone Else's Girl

It's hard not to love this title and gorgeous cover.

Or the woman behind it, who like me, is a gemini, and (unlike me) uses her many talents to write for both adults and young adults.

USA Today bestselling author Megan Crane has written five women’s fiction novels, many work-for-hire young adult novels, and five category romances (under the name Caitlin Crews) since publishing her first book in 2004. Her novel, Frenemies, was a BookSense Notable in July 2007. She teaches various creative writing classes both online at mediabistro.com and offline at UCLA Extension’s prestigious Writers’ Program, where she finally utilizes her MA and PhD in English Literature. Megan lives in Los Angeles with her comic book artist/animator husband and too many pets. For more info visit her websites.

I've got the book on my next read list. Here's the scoop:

Meredith does things for other people. She irons clothes for her boyfriend, she attends her ex-best friend’s horrendous hen party for her brother (who’s about to marry the girl) and she moves back to her parents’ house to look after her dad when his leg is broken. She’s a good girl and that matters. But when she gets back home, all is not as Meredith remembered. Especially Scott, that geeky teenager from her old class at school. He’s definitely different now. And so, it seems, is she. One by one, her family and old friends start to tell her some home truths and Meredith begins to realise she’s not so perfect after all. Maybe it is time she stopped being everyone else’s girl and started living for herself…

And here's Megan herself. Prettier than her book cover even.
Tell us Megan, if Oprah invited you on her show to talk about your book, what would the theme of that show be?
The unrealistic expectations women place upon themselves because they think others will only love them if they are the perfect friend, wife, mother, daughter.
Do you have a muse, good luck charm, writing vice?
I am pretty sure my extremely fat and ill-behaved cats feel that they are both muses and charms; they are not. I don’t really have either, I don’t think. Though I have written every single one of my books on this very same desk, and I’m kind of attached to it, if that counts.
Have you had a “rock star” moment regarding your writing career?
If so, what was it?I’m not sure what a “rock star” moment means, but it was pretty cool to hit the USA Today Bestseller list. That still feels great!
(I say that's a definite rock star moment.)
What's your favorite thing about being a writer?
I get to make up stories in my head, and then tell them, and make my living that way. It’s more than a dream come true. And I don’t, in fact, need algebra, as I told my math teacher in high school long ago!
And what's your least favorite thing?
The blank page is usually filled with all my doubts and fears, and that’s not a whole lot of fun to sift through to get to the words I need to write. And you can never really take a vacation, because the work is always in your head. And I become a little bit of a crazy person as a deadline approaches. But I wouldn’t give any of it up.
Here's some of the praise for her Everyone Else's Girl just released in the UK.
“Megan Crane rules! Cancel your evening plans: You won’t want to stop reading until you’ve devoured every delicious word.”—Meg Cabot
“Amusing, heartfelt and emotionally sophisticated chick-lit.” —Kirkus
“Crane prevails with refreshingly real human emotions and reactions. In this book, actions have consequences, and no one gets off easy, despite appearances.” —RT BookClub
I know the Brits will love this book, and the rest of us can pick up the US version.
Thanks, Megan!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Working Hard?

It's amazing how writing a novel can get in the way of more important activities, like blogging.

I am hurrying towards the goal of finishing the revisions on book #2 with some combination of exhaustion and lust. Lusting for it to be over, that is. Lusting to see the thing done. There is some point, in the process of novel writing, when you begin to worry that the book will forever be incomplete. I start dreaming about the last sentence. I see it in my mind's eye. I charge towards it with utter hunger.

The end is very satisfying. Quite unlike the end of reading a novel. I always feel a touch lonely when I finish a good book. I just re-read LADDER OF YEARS by Anne Tyler. I read it so many years ago that I couldn't remember the end. I read it quickly, taking it up whenever I had it a minute. It was even better the second time. I've also recently finished off SHOPOHOLIC AND BABY, which is like a box of chocolates. I decided to bring out some of my old, favorite feminist literature the other day as well, looking into SEX AND DESTINY by Germaine Greer. I adore that woman. The book's outdated now, but fascinating, and reading it reminded me that once upon a time I did things like study and write academically. Blogging couldn't be further from that. In the first place, I'm never required to write complete sentences. Cool.

In between all that reading, I really am trying to finish a book. But it's amazing how many things can get in the way of novel writing.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Hear Me, Hear Me!

Talking is definitely one of my favorite things to do. I prefer it over sitting and typing at a computer, that's for sure.

In a few weeks I'll have the chance to talk to one of my favorite blogging Mamas, the Feminist Breeder (a.k.a. Gina) during her blogtalkradio show. How cool is this!

Please mark your calenders. You will simply not want to miss this show.

You can link directly to the show to set a reminder to yourself to listen in on March 14th (10 p.m. cst., so you'll need to adjust for the part of the country you live in.) You can also get the show from itunes.

She's calling the program, Chick Lit: Too Legit to Quit? With that kind of a title, how can you NOT listen!

You can find out more about Gina and blogtalkradio. It should be interesting and FUNNY, and who doesn't need funny. (I need funny. I need a lot of funny.)

Monday, February 22, 2010

Hank Phillipi Ryan's Latest and You Can Win it HERE!

Hank Phillipi Ryan is out with her latest mystery, DRIVE TIME. If you haven't read her yet, you better set aside some reading time. This is the fourth in her series and the previous book, AIR TIME, was just nominated for the 2009 Agatha Award for Best Novel.

In addition to being an award winning novelist, she is a real investigative journalist with Boston's NBC affiliate. She has won 26 Emmy's for her investigative work. You know, some people couldn't get any cooler if they tried.

"Buckle up and prepare for a wild ride...Ryan once again channels her Emmy-winning investigative reporting expertise to craft a realistic and compelling mystery, full of hairpin turns and dangerous intersections at breakneck speed. Verdict: Placing Ryan in the same league as Lisa Scottoline...her latest book catapults the reader into the fast lane and doesn't relent until the story careens to a stop. New readers will speed to get her earlier books, and diehard fans will hope for another installment." —Library Journal on DRIVE TIME (starred review!)

Best of all Hank is giving away TWO copies of her books. So leave a comment and you'll be in the running. (That's right, you can't just READ this blog. You now have to INTERACT!!)

Tell us about your Drive Time.
DRIVE TIME is about secrets. TV reporter Charlie McNally’s working on a story about a dangerous scheme that could absolutely happen…and let me just say, if you own a car, or rent a car, you’ll never look at your vehicle the same way after reading DRIVE TIME. In fact, after writing the book, I now get a bit creeped out when I go into a parking garage. That’s all I‘ll say.
Charlie’s also drawn into another frightening situation—this one at the prep school where her fiancĂ© is an English professor. When Charlie learns a secret that might put her step-daughter-to-be in danger, and might also be an blockbuster investigative story—how does she balance her loyalty to her husband-to-be—with her need to protect the public?
So this is a tough one for Charlie. And she must make many life-changing decisions. Just when she begins to think she might be able to have it all—a terrific career and a new husband and a new life–revenge, extortion and murder may bring it all to a crashing halt.

You’ve got four books under your belt, you’ve won an Agatha, and been compared to Lisa Scottoline. Will there come a time when you say goodbye to journalism to focus full time on your fiction?
Ain’t that the question! I still smile in delight every time I see my Agatha teapot. And when the starred review in Library Journal for DRIVE TIME compared me to Lisa Scottoline, well, I burst into tears. But I still love my job in TV. So–you could ask me that question every day, and every day I’d have a different answer. And I guess the bottom line is: who knows?

Your husband’s a criminal defense attorney. Does he read your work or give you any tips or even ideas for plots?
He’s the most patient man on the planet. Yes, he’s really the only person who reads my pages while they’re in process. When I first started writing PRIME TIME, I’d give hi my five pages or so a day, and I’d hear him laughing and I was so delighted! And he would tell me every day how terrific it was. Then, about fifty pages in, I went in for my daily pat on the back. And he had a funny look on his face. “Honey?” he asked. “Is something going to happen soon?” So I knew I had some work to do.
Ideas for plots? Ah, no, not really. I’m always running ideas by him, to see if he thinks they’re plausible and believable. And sometimes he’ll come up with just the perfect little thing I need to pull something together. But we think very differently. He’s much more–wedded to reality.

What’s next for you?
Exactly what I’m trying to figure out. DRIVE TIME came out February 1, with fantastic blurbs from the much-missed and iconic Robert B. Parker and Suzanne Brockmann and Margaret Maron and Carla Neggers and a rave starred review from Library Journal. So I’m hoping people love it. (And I’ll be visiting lots of places across the US–hope some of our readers come visit!) And then…we’ll see. I can’t tell you how excited I am.

Thanks for visiting us here on your cyber tour, Hank. And congratulations on your latest Agatha nomination!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

One, Two, Three

Apologies for the lazy blogging of late. I am hurriedly trying to finish up revisions of book #2 for an end of February deadline, an enormous endeavor that requires new writing and lots of cutting and pasting of things from page 300 onto page 50. In the midst of this, I find I don't have anything to say that would interest anybody. My mother has a great phrase: "Put it in your work." Well, I have.

But I will say that my husband and I are talking about baby number three, which puts me in this odd place among my friends--most of whom are parents of one and intend to stay that way. I realized about half of my friends are single-child families. However, one of my favorite cyber friends is also working on number three and, unlike boring me, is writing all about it. The feministbreeder also has many other wonderful, entertaining, and interesting things to say, but if you know someone who is wondering about family size, it might be worth taking a look at what she's writing.

As for me, we'll see. I used to want six children. I guess I should write: I used to want six children until I had two.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Big Top

Well, I've finally made it to the big time. If the German publication of my novel were not proof enough, it seems I have made it to ebay.

That's right, you can buy the book on ebay. And to think all this time I'd imagined it's when I saw my novel in the "bargain price" pile at the Barnes & Noble that I'd have officially made it. How wrong I was.

Monday, February 8, 2010

I Am Awesome

Some really good news: THIS LITTLE MOMMY STAYED HOME has just been bought in Germany! This means in about a year's time, you'll be able to buy my book in Germany and read it in German (provided you can read German).

Some good news: Samantha Wilde is also a female wrestler. If you have been confused about my identity, I can assure you, I do not wrestle. (I'd link to a video, but I think this kind of wrestling is naughty.)

And on the lighter side: Since the birth of my daughter, I have been not-so-happily enduring a bout of post partum anxiety, compounded by the unfortunate genetic predisposition towards anxiety that all of my family members have managed to enjoy. Such lucky people! On occasion, my anxiety can be very funny.

Take the other day. I'd been having some trouble sleeping because my pulse was beating in my head, arms, neck, etc., quite loudly. I decided to see if it was blood pressure related and went to the local CVS to use their blood pressure machine. I got a reading of 133/122.

After running my morning errands I called the doctor, knowing that /122 is awfully high. (My usual reading is 100/70). The nurse I talked to agreed it was high but said she had to talk to the doctor first to see if I ought to come in. She said she'd call back. (And she did. Five hours later. When she urged me to get myself to the ER.)
In the meantime, I decided to do a little internet research. I searched for diastolic blood pressure and quickly learned that a high diastolic pressure is a strong sign of heart attack and stroke in young adults.

Well, I immediately realized my death was imminent. (Only later did it occur to me that I am NOT any longer (this being another terrible shock) a young adult!) I headed over to the rapid care clinic where I was told by the doctor that CVS must have had a faulty machine as no one's blood pressure could read 133/122. Why didn't the nurse I spoke with tell me this! I'd already planned my funeral. I had an accurate reading of 146/76--not great but not terrible.

I was instructed to buy a blood pressure cuff and take my own pressure once a day.

Now, whenever I get near the thing, my blood pressure sky rockets and my pulses races. This is called white coat high blood pressure.

On the upside, it appears that while I am terrifically crazy, I probably do not have high blood pressure.

I would appreciate any similar stories of how motherhood has made you mad.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Romance is Not Dead

It's been awhile since I've blogged for the GCC. I've been in a bit of a book funk, so I'm relieved that Judi Fennell has a new one out and is taking a blog tour here with me.

My mother has been on a mermaid kick this year, which makes Fennell's new book perfect for her too. Catch of a Lifetime is the latest in her Mer series. Check out the hunk on the cover. Wouldn't you like a total escape? (Actually, if you really want a total escape, take the book on a vacation with you. To celebrate the release of each of her books, Judi Fennell and the Atlantis Inn and the Hibiscus House bed and breakfasts are raffling off three romantic beach getaway weekends. All information is on Judi's website.) Yummy. And just in time for Valentine's Day.

Tell us about your latest release and the inspiration behind it.

Catch of a Lifetime is the third book in my Mer series, this time about middle sister and Human-loving, Angel Tritone. She's determined to convince her brother Rod (hero of Book 2, Wild Blue Under) that she's perfect for the Director position of the Mer-Human Coalition he's establishing to help curb the pollution and global warming issues facing the entire planet. Things don't go quite as planned when she has to outrun a shark and ends up on Logan Hardington's fishing boat and is seen by his six-year-old son, Michael.

Logan Hardington, who ran away from the circus as a teenager, wants Normal in his life. But when a surprise son he never knew about shows up, Normal starts falling by the wayside. Then a beautiful naked woman shows up on his boat and it's all he can do to keep Normal part of his vocabulary. But when she proves to be a mermaid and his son goes missing, Logan realizes that Angel definitely is not the catch of a lifetime.

Or is she?

If you weren't writing, what would you be doing instead?

Probably reading way too much and saying, "I bet I could do that." It's always been a dream of mine. I wrote my first book in 9th grade. Pretty much staying in the proverbial drawer (or steamer trunk), but it did get written. So I'd say this was destined. It just took me a little while to realize it.

What is the most memorable first line you've ever read in a novel?

No clue. I'm not one for remembering first lines. Plus, "It was a dark and stormy night" is the quintessential opener, along with "Call me Ishmael," and I don't think I've actually read either of those. I'll go with the opening of my (as yet unpublished) story: "There's a naked man in my kitchen." Which is not to be confused with the opening of Catch of a Lifetime of "There was a naked woman on his boat."

When deadlines hit, what happens in your house?

Chaos reigns supreme. And so does the laundry. That's my area of expertise in the house. The dishes will (eventually) get taken care of, the pets will definitely get fed, and Hubs will get the vacuum cleaner up and running, but the laundry? It grows legs.

Judi Fennell has had her nose in a book and her head in some celestial realm all her life, including those early years when her mom would exhort her to “get outside!” instead of watching Bewitched or I Dream of Jeannie on television. So she did--right into Dad’s hammock with her Nancy Drew books.

These days she’s more likely to have her nose in her laptop and her head (and the rest of her body) at her favorite bookstore, but she’s still reading, whether it be her latest manuscript or friends’ books.
A three-time finalist in online contests, Judi has enjoyed the reader feedback she’s received and would love to hear what you think about her Mer series.
Thanks for another great read, Judi!

Monday, February 1, 2010

What's the Hurry?

Every since my son started preschool, mornings (the three that he goes) have become a harried, stressful, flurry of angst. In the first place, we are not early risers. And even if, by unhappy chance, the baby wakes us up early, we'll stay in bed for as long as possible. My son often won't wake up until 8 a.m., which, I think, is perfectly lovely.

But not so lovely when you have to be somewhere at 9 a.m. The sense of pressure (notes from the school to BE ON TIME), and also some internal pressure no doubt, make for an entirely unpeaceful experience. And the kid is just going to the local preschool! This isn't his Harvard interview. He's not late for his own wedding.

I have said to my yoga students: please do NOT hurry to class. Come late if you need to. I'd rather they came late than sped on the way to their relaxation. I'd rather they came late than scurried anxiously with shallow breath to get there on time. I am often amazed by the yoga studios that insist on coming early, that insist on NO distributions (including, horror of horrors, a cell phone ringing during class).

Is this how we want to raise our children? To be so tight-assed and anxious that they'll go into paroxysms of stress in order to get to yoga class early? Honey, I think it ain't worth it.

A dear, beloved friend called today. Her partner of eight years died suddenly of a massive heart attack.

So what's the hurry? What's the hurry with these precious children? In the scheme of things, I'd rather be late and happy, than on time and stressed. Does it matter? Yes, I suppose, a little. It matters a little to be on time. But a lot? Like life or death? Not even close.

As the great writer Evelyn Waugh wrote: "Punctuality is the virtue of the bored."

This is the one life. Perhaps we should not let a little cell phone ring get our relaxed panties in a bundle? Or maybe that's the sign that we aren't so relaxed after all, eh?

Time to buy new panties. The slow down and enjoy variety.