Saturday, December 29, 2007

Books Added To My Library Recently (December)

Pushed, Jennifer Block: any woman who has given birth or is contemplating giving birth must read this book! A real eye-opener. Expect some discussion on this one! First heard of this amazing book here, and just had to get it. It's along the same lines as Overtreated (Susan Brownlee), but is mainly focused on women and medicalized childbirth.

The Almond, Nedjma: erotica written by a Muslim woman under a pseudonym

Sweet Ruin, Cathi Hanauer

Nickel and Dimed, Barbara Ehrenreich: expect some discussion on this book at some point.

A Cook's Tour, Anthony Bourdain


Well, I think this might become a semi-regular feature on the blog. So, stay tuned!
Here is the post that started it all.

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New post up at MotherVerse and another at Moms Speak Up about Mothering Magazine and the Maryland Vaccine Situation.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Recovering

Argggg....recovering from the holidays, specifically Christmas. I don't know. This year Christmas seemed more exhaustive than last.

Will be back to writing shortly...

In the meantime, check these things out:

Just Out: Mom Writer's Lit Mag Winter 07 Issue

A Writing Year is coming to a close, sadly.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Finished Lady Chatterley's Lover, After Thoughts

Lady Chatterley's Lover
D. H. Lawrence
PENGUIN BOOKS
Paperback
314 Pages


Finished Lady Chatterley's Lover sometime early Saturday. That's right, finished in just three days. I am always so moved by this book, yet so very disappointed by the time I get to the end, simply and precisely because it ends. I always feel as if I am never truly done with the book.

Lawrence may have been a prick and whatever else, but goddamn it, he wrote well! You could say that about most any author with a few substitutions-Plath, for instance. She may have been 'suicidal' and 'depressive'-or more likely, a woman well before her time-but goddamn, she could write!

Virginia Woolf? Same thing.
Thomas Hardy? Indeed.

And the writers of our time? There are some who fit the bill.

Lawrence makes the statement- in nearly all his books, actually-of how This is a time of crisis, or words to that effect.

Isn't every age in some crisis? Doesn't every generation have a 'time of crisis'? Of upheaval, restlessness, unsettling action? We are never without crises.

We are now, here in the 21st century, in a time of crises. Every decade has been proclaimed as a 'time of crisis'.

On another thought: Somebody PLEASE make a decent movie of Lady Chatterley's Lover! It is common knowledge that when you see a movie after reading the book it inspired, mostly the movie hardly lives up to the book. There are a few exceptions: Howard's End was a great movie. The Remains of the Day-great. Sense and Sensibility was a great movie. Cold Mountain-of course. All of these lived up to the book for me. Lady Chatterley, in all its movie versions, did not.

So, Anthony Minghella, James Ivory, Lasse Hallstrom, would any of you care to make Lady Chatterley's Lover? It would be much appreciated.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Spreading Christmas Cheer In The 21st Century

Coming out of the coffee shop, Mocha Latte in Mama's hand, banana bread in the Girl's hand, getting on our way-slowly, slowly-

Two men passed us by, said 'Merry Christmas!' and kept on walking. It seemed so ominous-I thought: yeah okay, aren't You full of Christmas cheer. Then I turned around and there was a mysterious bag with poinsettias all over it, tucked in the sled we'd been toting around. Upon inspection, I found it to be filled with chocolates and some crazy crafty-with-a-'K' snowman decoration.

Now, perhaps these men were just in the spirit of Christmas, perhaps they were of the church, good Samaritans, whatever. But, I found it almost intrusive that these people would do such a thing. More so that it was two men gifting a woman and child. Christmas cheer, good chocolate, or not, I still found it intrusive.

You just can't trust anything these days.

Needless to say, the bag got 'lost' along the way. It's a bit sad that it has come to this: there can't be good cheer, even at Christmastime without suspicion.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Reading Lady Chatterley's Lover


This is by far one of my favorite books. I come back to it time and again. Neither of the movies made (the one with Sean Bean and the French version) do the book any justice whatsoever.

I started it the other day after I finished watching the French version. I just had to. I wanted the real thing. Again...it's the language-gorgeous!-that holds me. Also, the intricacies of the mental and physical lives we lead-I love how that particular aspect plays out in the book. More to come....

The Omnivore's Dilemma is temporarily back on the shelf.....

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Mothering Magazine Takes Note

Mothering Magazine picked up my Parents post at their site under 'What People Are Saying About Mothering' : 'Why I Have A Love/Hate Relationship With Parents Magazine'.

Thanks for taking note!

Monday, December 10, 2007

New Link On Sidebar

Perhaps you have noticed there is a new link on the sidebar-underneath the 'About Me' section-called Reviews and Services . That's right, I am now open to product/book reviews as well as offering manuscript preparation.

I encourage you to check it out if you've not done so already.

Any questions? Have something you'd like to see reviewed here? Check out the link, email me, or leave a comment.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

New Posts Up At Moms Speak Up and MotherVerse

New posts at Moms Speak Up, including rants about Wal-Mart, McDonald's, Parent's Magazine and Jesus. Also, new sites and recalls.

Over at MotherVerse, language crafted in a particular poem moves me to awe.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Keeping Up On The Recalls

I keep up with the recalls, mostly. I scour the net on occasion and subscribe to the recall feeds (much easier than scouring, really).

According to the U. S. Safety Product Commission, there have been a rash of recalls concerning children's clothes with drawstrings on them. They apparently cause a strangulation/entrapment hazard.

First of all, why are there drawstrings on children's clothes? Oh, but wait...These look as if they are made for children around 7-10, maybe? Perhaps they should just go ahead and recall all the adult clothes with drawstrings on them too.

I'd be more concerned if there were drawstrings on infants and toddlers clothing. Or if they contained lead.

I mean, can we not discern between what really isn't safe and what is?

Another recall concerns a children's wooden storage shelf that tipped over onto a child and caused its death after he pulled on it.

It could be shoddy manufacturing ( after all, it was made in China), but could it be a possiblity that directions were not followed and it was not entirely put together properly?

Some of the recalls today seem so extreme to me. Would you recall coffee because somebody got severely burned? Oh wait! They did! They did! I can't believe it! Well, the coffee mug. Just wait till the coffee cools down a bit.

I don't know, while there are real, legitimate recalls, it seems there is an equal amount where it seems as if companies are just covering their asses for the people who can't figure out how to put something together or that the coffee is, you know, HOT.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

November Post Round-Up

This poem from Literary Mama will rock you with language.

Love and Tea Co. has added some new teas and other items to their menu. Yum!

There's a new blog on The Toxic Toys Front.

This caught me by surprise, and this made me laugh towards the end...sort of-via IzzyMom. I mean, don't you find a little (dark) humor in this-

Personally, I think buying Dolce & Gabbana for children is the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard and any parent who raises the bar to that level for the rest of us should be publicly flogged with a D&G belt — in the middle of a Walmart!

YouTube joins the ranks of MySpace and Facebook in banning "inappropriate material", via League of Maternal Justice.

In that same line, this post from Moms Speak Up just lays it all out, particularly with this statement:
One type of video is meant for men’s amusement and pleasure and the other isn’t.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Finishing A Woman In Berlin by Anonymous

A Woman In Berlin
Anonymous (2006)
Softcover $14.95
PICADOR
261 pages


I finished it about a week ago, and I still cannot get parts of it out of my head. Images that stick to your brain like maggots. Disgusting image, yes? Well, an apt one I think, considering no image in the book was very pretty.

The book itself was written quite well. I somehow thought it would be worded differently. How? I don't know. Perhaps more staccato than it was. It definitely was real and in the moment, written feverishly in a feverish time.
This woman makes amazing commentary on the state of humankind. She talked about insects that eat their own young at some point in the book, comparing it to how we (civilization) are treating our own kind-we are eating our own kind, and care nothing of it. Paraphrasing.

What intrigued me most about this and the woman who wrote it was the fact that she wrote only this and nothing else. Towards the end of the book, she says something to the effect of-I'm done writing.

I kept thinking you won't find any of this in the history books. You just won't. The dirt, the slime, what went on after the war, the things women had to do to stay alive. Another thing I thought of was this is probably no different than Afghanistan or Iraq or (insert any country in which our troops have invaded).

I am glad to have read it, to have seen a different perspective of what went on, but won't be reading this again for a long time. It was exhausting to read of so much destruction.

This Cake Has Beets In It.......

That's right, this cake has real beets in it. And it tastes delicious.
This came from a little experiment with Deceptively Delicious by Jessica Seinfeld, recently reviewed on Mother Talk.

I confess, I didn't make it entirely from scratch. It's a mix. Just cooked and mashed the beets up, and threw them in the mix. Still, delicious and quite unexpected.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Mother Talk Review: The Daring Book For Girls


My daughter isn't old enough for this book yet, but as I was browsing through it, I found a bunch of things I did as a kid-God's Eyes, all those hand clap games, jump rope rhymes, friendship bracelets. Who could forget Bloody Mary and the old Light as A Feather, Stiff as a Board trick-a requirement for any sleepover?

One thing in particular I found interesting-the Explorers section. All of the women listed (except for Amelia Earhart, of course), lived to be nearly 100 years old. Amazing.
Perhaps we all need to get out of the house a bit more and explore?

There were a few things that irked me a bit-Every daring girl should know the constellations-at least the basic ones. There wasn't anything on the planets and solar system. I realize it's impossible to include everything daring, the result would be too unwieldy, both in weight and information. Another thing-there's an Arts and Literature badge in the back of the book, but I found the Literature side to be a bit scant-to my mind anyway. Shakespeare was included in The Dangerous Book For Boys, why not Sappho for The Daring Book For Girls?

However, I was glad to see sections on 'How to Change a Tire' (something every girl should know), ' Queens of the Ancient World' and 'Knots and Stitches'.

Overall, this is a book that is packed with great stuff to do that doesn't require texting anyone on your cell phone or downloading anything off the net. This will stay in the hands of girls everywhere and be passed on down the line.


Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Parents Magazine: Why I Have A Love/Hate Relationship With You

(Note: This was picked up on Mothering Magazine's site in December for their 'What People Are Saying About Mothering' section.)

(That sometimes tends to gravitate towards the I-Really-Don't-Like-You-At-All end of the scale)

Occasionally, I'll read Parents Magazine. It's a little bit too mainstream for me, but it's the only parenting magazine at the library that stays current in subscription issues. It comes in handy when I just want to flip through something quickly.

As a side note, the library also has a Mothering collection, but that seemed to stop around 2005. A shame, I think. But-that's a whole other post in itself.

There are several reasons why I have a love/hate relationship with this mag. I love the recipes and craft ideas. I definitely enjoyed the Groceries Go Postal Review in the November 07 issue. I've actually been considering this.

I don't love how incredibly mainstream it is. I wouldn't subscribe to a magazine that uses Shrek as an advertisement on the FULL COVER of their November 07 issue. That's a little disturbing to me.

I'm certainly not too thrilled with their Best Toys of 2007 List (Nov 07), particularly when I saw that this made the list.

I have a problem with it. The Smart Cycle is marketed to 'combat obesity' in children. Yeah, that is smart marketing. This from Fisher Price, a company that has recalled more than 1 million toys back in August, and the number keeps rising.

Eh...why don't you have them run around outside? Too cold, weather bad? Puzzles? Reading? Laps around the living room? Also, the fact that it comes with different cartridges portraying 'their favorite' TV characters (Dora, Sponge Bob, Barbie, Hotwheels, etc.) is incredible-extreme target marketing. This could well be another post in itself as well....You'd think the TV would be enough...

Another thing I don't love is their advertising onslaught both in the magazine and on their website. I'm not too keen on advertisements for pharmaceuticals, including Keppra and Vyvacse in a parenting magazine. I'm all for birth control, but Mirena is not something I would ever consider using. Seems as if Parents subscribes to the Medicinal Culture in a way that I just cannot.

Of course, all of this is just my opinion, and perhaps the readers of Parenting Magazine feel the same way about Mothering Magazine. And that's their opinion.

Still, I don't see any insane, overboard Shrek advertising between the covers of Mothering Magazine...



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Monday, November 26, 2007

Harper's "Perilous" Request



I got this in the mail the other day. I almost threw it away, but at the last minute, decided to see what it had to say. It was not what I expected.

"The perilous state of your subscription."

I don't think my subscription is in any sort of "perilous" state. If anything is in a "perilous state", it's the publishing industry. With the advent of e-books and on-line publishing, it's possible that the printed book, magazine, etc. will be on its way out. Culture and time might slow down the process, but the possibility remains intact.

As for the "Renewal Index", the data collected does not make me want to renew anything from Harper's.

I'm going to burst the bubble and say Harper's is not the only publication delivering "Intellectual stimulation". The general intellect of America may be on the slide, but that doesn't mean you can't find a decent magazine to get the mind going. Some examples: Women's Review of Books, The Nation, Literary Journals such as Hunger Mountain, Indiana Review and Bellevue Literary Review.

I guess the percentage that chooses not to renew their subscription isn't as clever? How insulting. Could you get any snootier?

I'll get 5 additional reminders to renew my subscription (not including the 5 I've already received)-what a waste of paper! What happened to Eco-consciousness?
Also, badgering your existing subscribers to renew is not the way to go about it.

I thought Poetry's renewal forms were bad!

Harper's just lost a renewal.

Perhaps Harper's needs to revise their approach in getting their readers to renew their subscription.


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Saturday, November 24, 2007

An Unofficial Guide To All The Holiday Guides Out There (Well, Some)

Cool Mom Picks Holiday Guide


Another holiday with the Moms at Cool Mom Picks: These felt ice cream play foods are awesome. So are these masks. Check out the lion, elephant and bird too. I think they may go on the list this year... Also, great stocking stuffers -$10 or less-towards the bottom of the page.




All sorts of fabulous stuff for mom and dad, kids and baby as well as an amazing give-a-way...

Eco-friendly Treehugger.com-Check out their Holiday Gift Guide and a Just-because gift guide (useful for any holiday, really).

The Under $20 Holiday Gift Guide @ Absolutely Bananas

Holiday Gift Guide @ In The Trenches of Motherhood

Friday, November 23, 2007

Post Turkey Day Post

This year was the first time in about.....Oh....10 or more years that I've watched the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. It looks as if I haven't been missing much.



Here's "Healthy" Mr. Potato head:




Eh..."Healthy"? And Santa Claus is TOO GODDAMN FAT!!!!!!!!
*Originally heard of this from Mama- Noire*
This is so ridiculous. The Healthy Mr. Potato Head and Santa being "too fat". What the hell is wrong here?
By the way, Mama-Noire makes an excellent point of culture attitudes needing to be adjusted instead of the need for "Slimmer Santa's". Well Said!


And the "Spirit of America" float:


Not the clearest picture, but good enough. My thoughts on this: It's a huge, garish, golden eagle, wings spread wide-looking as if it's in attack mode, about to swoop down on its prey and devour them whole-being pulled by a massive, gas guzzling SUV.

Yeah. That's the spirit of America, all right.


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Thursday, November 22, 2007

Currently Reading


I'm currently reading A Woman In Berlin: Eight Weeks In The Conquered City by Anonymous.

I've barely cracked the surface-only about 20 pages in. The real horrors have not begun yet. Still going back and forth between bomb shelters and home, and the identity of people Anonymous shares "The Cave" with.

I'm sure this will be a hard read (another hard to swallow: Overtreated, Susan Brownlee, just finished a few days ago) , but will also hold my interest.

Expect more unofficial discussion here at WITM when finished.

I have finished this book-expect something on this soon, officially or unofficially.




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Sunday, November 18, 2007

Safe Mama

It seems as if everyone is gathering their own 'safer toy guide' this year. And why not? 2007 has been labeled as the 'Year of the Recall' by many and it has barely begun. The more informed we are, the better choices we make, right?

Have you visited Safe Mama yet? If not, you should.

What they're all about

Safe Mama should serve mothers, fathers and all parents as a resource to find information to help them protect their kids. With the onslaught of toy problems, lead paint and other health concerns popping up in the news, I wanted to create a site where parents can go to find what they need to make educated and informed decisions.

So, be sure to stop over for another fabulous resource, a "One-stop child safety, product recall, health and well-being resource for parents" and say hello.

Interested in contributing? Have an article to share? Or a product you'd like to see reviewed?
Drop them a line.

Grab a button to show your support and pass the word along:



SafeMama.com!

Books Added To My Library Recently

Deceptively Delicious, Jessica Seinfeld (Recently Reviewed on Mother Talk)

Catherine the Great: Love, Sex and Power, Virginia Rounding

The Unraveling Archive, Essays on Sylvia Plath, Edited by Anita Helle
Expect More discussion here.

Death Warmed Over: Funereal Food, Rituals and Customs From Around the World, Lisa Rogak

Mama Knows Breast: A Beginners Guide To Breastfeeding, Andi Silverman (Recently Reviewed on Mother Talk)
My review here.

Virginia Woolf: An Inner Life, Julia Briggs
My unofficial review here.

What Mothers Do, Especially when It Looks Like Nothing-Naomi Stadlen (Recently Reviewed on Mother Talk)
My review here.

The Daring Book For Girls, Andrea Buchanan and Miriam Peskowitz (Currently Being Reviewed on Mother Talk. )
My review here

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Review of Virginia Woolf: An Inner Life by Julia Briggs

cross-posted from Motherverse Blog: Mothering Out Loud

Virginia Woolf: An Inner Life
Julia Briggs (2005)
Hardback $30
HARCOURT
527 pgs.

The old familiar quote “A room of one’s own” most certainly applies to all writers, but takes on special significance when you are writer and mother.

That room of one’s own becomes essential. A place to get away from the kids;a place where nobody is allowed but you and your writing, and perhaps, on occasion, your literary agent.

Woolf has survived into the 21st century as a literary great, holding her place among the men of her time and still, among the writers of today.

Briggs focuses more on the writing itself: the process of it, the woman who wrote it, etc., a biography of her words, if you will, rather than churning out well-known biographical content and the social aspect of her life, familiar to Woolf readers.

What’s interesting about this book is how the individual chapters chronologically correlate with each book published by Woolf, following events and ‘inner thoughts’ concerning the book of that particular time. Throughout the book, copies of drafts, letters and dist jackets are dispersed, offering revealing glimpses into Woolf’s writing processes.

Scrupulously researched and well laid out with a fresh perspective, Virginia Woolf: An Inner Life should be on every woman’s bookshelf, in a room of her own.



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Tuesday, November 13, 2007

New Post Over at Moms Speak Up

Looking for shopping alternatives to Wal-Mart, plastic and imports, etc. this holiday? Try these.


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Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Friday, November 02, 2007

An Overdue Discovery via Poetry Magazine

I got my November issue of Poetry a few weeks ago. I open it and find Kevin Young's From "Book Of Hours" on the first page. I had heard of him throughout the years, but never fully read his work.

How is it that I never read Young's poetry until now?

He handles language quite well, to say the least. I think it's time to pick up a book or two....

Hear excerpts from Jelly Roll here.

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Thursday, November 01, 2007

Winner of WITM's First Giveaway!


The winner is Caryn!

Congratulations!


Thanks to all who participated and to Andi Silverman for offering a free copy of her fabulous book!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Some thoughts on the Sept/Oct 2007 Issue of Women’s Review of Books

Edited to Add: I recieved an email from Carol Bere and the editor of Women's Review of Books, Amy Hoffman, in regards to this post. There will be a correction in the November/December issue.

In the Sept/Oct 07 issue there is an article-review, actually-on a book about Assia Weevil: The Other Woman, Lover of Unreason: Assia Weevil, Sylvia Plath’s Rival and Ted Hughes’s Doomed Love by Eliat Negev and Yehunda Koren (reviewed by Carol Bere).

What I found even more interesting than the article, and even the book itself, were the photographs chosen for the article and the captions that went along with them.

The pictures chosen are two very well known images of Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath.

When I first read (eh, skimmed) the article I thought, how strange that there would be no pictures of the subject of the book herself, and gave it no more thought than that.

Later, after reading the paper in more depth (when I didn’t have a toddler clamoring at my side), I noticed upon closer observation, the captions underneath the pictures-the first: “Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes” and the second… “Ted Hughes and Assia Weevil”.

The second picture is obviously not of Hughes and Weevil, but that of Plath and Hughes.

My first reaction was, Wow. Even here, 40 + years after Plath’s death, in a review on the first book published of her so-called 'rival', she asserts her position as the Alpha Female within the Plath-Hughes story.

Then again, take away the romanticism (or whatever you want to call it) and it’s just an
editorial mistake, something that slipped by the proof reader’s eye.

Other articles to check out in this issue:
-Reinterpreting the Ancients: Portrait of a Priestess: Women and Ritual in Ancient Greece.

-The Bush Countdown: George W. Bush and the War on Women: Turning Back the Clock on Progress


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If you haven’t already, check out this publication. It is very much worth it.

So many “women’s magazines” –those geared specifically at women- are, more often than not-slightly condescending towards women. Surely we have interests beyond the latest fashion and beauty tips (i.e. 10 ways to stay hot, How to keep the fire going in the bedroom, etc.) which apple is the best for pie. Not to mention the women’s publications that seem ‘empowering’, intelligent and going beyond the norm, yet miss the point entirely (We’Moon…..).

As for review mags (well, let’s face it, most main stream mags and papers), they have a tendency to write to the ‘general public’, mostly viewed as male. (Hello, The New Yorker, The Atlantic, etc). Yes, this is the 21st Century, but we still have a bit to go concerning bias of audience gender.

The Women’s Review of Books does not fall into the category of the traditional “women’s magazines” nor does it make it into your traditional review magazine. It is geared towards women, but is certainly an accessible read.

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Wednesday, October 17, 2007

The New Yorker-Subscription Department

Recently, I got a 'Professional Discount Subscription Rate' for The New Yorker, 'cause I'm a....professional.

It is tempting. It is a ridiculously small amount to pay.

However, I will not be buying a single issue, much less a whole subscription, until there are more women featured throughout the whole magazine, particularly the poetry and feature departments.

Paul Muldoon-will you be addressing this?


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Sunday, October 14, 2007

MotherVerse #7 Available


MotherVerse #7 is hot off the press and it is good!



Pick up an issue here, subscribe digitally or by mail; or give the gift of MotherVerse! All sorts of options!
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Don't forget to visit the blog--

Also, MotherVerse is actively searching out visual art for our cover and inside pages as well as book reviews and interviews. See submission page for more details

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Word Orgasms

Hm. Word Orgasms. Wordgasms?

Words/phrases in literature that make you scream out in full love of language, making you wish you had written such a thing.

Some examples of books containing the wordgasms (for me):

Lady Chatterley's Lover, D.H. Lawrence

The English Patient, Michael Odaatje (as mentioned before)

"The moon is on him like a skin, a sheaf of water."

The Most Beautiful Woman In Town, Charles Bukowski (Mentioned before here)

Tender Is the Night, F. Scott Fitzgerald


More titles to come later. More word- specific- orgasms to come.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Mom Writers Lit Mag Fall 07

Just got my issue in the mail today:


I'm quite impressed with the print version. Very well laid out and organized. Very aesthetically appealing, very slick. It was (is) excellent on-line, but even better in print!

My poem, Inside, is featured on page 36 in the print issue and here on-line.

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Like the print version of MWLM? Help keep it that way! Support the magazine by subscribing. The Magazine wouldn't be anything without it's contributors. Got something to say-submit.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Mother Talk Review: The Reincarnationist, M.J. Rose


The Reincarnationist, M. J. Rose
MIRA Books
Hardcover, $24.95 U.S./ 29.95 Canada, 464 pages
ISBN: 13: 978-0-7783-2420-1
ISBN: 10: 0-7783-2420-6

Reincarnation has always fascinated me, as well as anything having to do with the occult and metaphysical matters, since I was young. It's been a natural interest: I would check out every single book from the library on the subject and devour it, usually, in one sitting. It remains, to this day, an interest that holds strong.
So, when I heard The Reincarnationist was to be on the Mother-Talk Bookshelf, I immediately signed up.

This is Rose's ninth published book, and one she has worked on the longest. In The Reincarnationist, she fearlessly probes through the depths of reincarnation; always questioning the possibility: does such a thing exist? The premise of the book seems promising, if a bit worn:

Photojournalist Josh Ryder ( the main character) is suddenly having flashbacks to pre-Christian Rome after an accident as the high priest Julius. Josh gets involved with the Phoenix Foundation shortly after-a center that researches and documents reincarnation and past life experiences, and tries to makes sense of these ‘lurches’; He then begins to also have flashbacks to Victorian England as Percy Talmage-son of the founder of the Phoenix Foundation. It all interconnects in the present by the excavation of an ancient tomb in Rome, and the discovery of a well-preserved 1600 year old woman who holds "The Memory Stones"- ancient artifacts that are supposed to incite past life regressions- pulling in a few other important characters. Back and forth through the centuries we travel with Josh, in search of answers from a past that needs to be settled here in the present.

Fifteen pages into it and I’m thinking the writing itself isn’t very original, or exciting, even cliché in some parts-
“…the muscles in his thighs and calves screamed, and every breath irritated his lungs so harshly, he wanted to cry out.” (p.15)
Couldn’t the muscles do something other than ‘scream’? Something, they’ve no doubt, done a hundred times before? Couldn’t his breath do something other than ‘irritate’ his lungs?

“Grief ripped through him like a knife slitting open his chest….”
How many times has grief ripped through one like a knife?

The dialogue is really quite bland, and the story formulaic and somewhat predictable. "She shook violently" and "The mountainous waves beat against the ship endlessly" seemed to have been in a hundred different books, some that I have read recently.

When I read a fictional book, the language of the story really has to stand out for me to enjoy it as well as a story line that flows gracefully and coherently; making me scream out: OH! YES! at some word or phrase, wishing I had written such a thing. All the while I was reading this, I kept thinking of two books: The English Patient, by Michael Ondaatje and The Witching Hour, by Anne Rice.

I thought of The English Patient, simply because it was written so astoundingly well; it made me scream out more than once in pure appreciation and love of language, whereas The Reincarnationist just didn't.

I couldn’t help but feel as if I was reading a distant cousin, in plot, of The Witching Hour with The Reincarnationist. Rose does admit being influenced by early Anne Rice novels. Perhaps a little too much….There were actually several things that struck me as quite 'Witchy' : the racing back and forth through the centuries concept (done very well in The Witching Hour, I might add), The Phoenix Foundation reminded me too much of the Talamasca -"We watch and we are always here"- in various Anne Rice novels. It is a fictional order set up to watch over and record the paranormal. Also, the name Beryl Talmage, head of the Phoenix Foundation, too closely resembled that of Talamasca for me to take it as something original.


What sort of threw me was when the Rome story (Julius and Sabina) just kind of dropped off in the middle of the book, only to pick up again at the very end of the book. I know there wasn’t much left to tell at that point, but it seems as if it suddenly switched to another century and a different story (Percy, Etc) without any sort of transition, smooth or otherwise. Also, the fact that Josh would have flashbacks both to Rome and England just didn’t flow for me. Perhaps the stories will pick up in the next book more harmoniously?

It seems a great deal of research has gone into this book, thus making the stories themselves quite believable. At the back of the book, there is an extended 'Suggested Reading List' that I intend to hunt out as soon as possible. The concept of the memory stones was quite intriguing. If they had actually existed, that would be phenomenal. What a great idea! Also, the dust jacket struck me as very visually appealing. I would have bought it just for the cover and the title.


This just didn’t get me going as I thought it would. I think I may have to re-read The Witching Hour....

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For more information on this book, please visit: Mother-Talk for the story behind the book, Author's Website and Blog. Also, check out a podcast interview featuring M. J. Rose here. As always, check in with Mother-Talk throughout the entire month of October (and perhaps into November!) for additional reviews. This is a big one! No less than 50 bloggers will be participating in this review!


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Saturday, October 06, 2007

It Finally Arrived!!

After it not being available for a few months, I finally

I got a copy of this book in the mail yesterday:
(The Unraveling Archive: Essays On Sylvia Plath, Edited by Anita Helle)
You can expect lots of discussion on this in the future.....




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Friday, October 05, 2007

WITM's First Giveaway! Mama Knows Breast, By Andi Silverman

Exciting News!

Andi Silverman and Quirk Books are giving away a copy of her fabulous book Mama Knows Breast: A Beginner's Guide To Breastfeeding!

That's right.

Want to win it?

Leave a comment below telling me why you need/want this book and I will pick the winner at random on November 1st!

One more thing:
Please leave a way for me to contact you if you want the book! (i.e. email, weblink, etc.)


From the back cover:

"Breastfeeding may be natural, but it isn't always easy. Mama Knows Breast is the essential new mom's guide to nursing-full of friendly, frank and reassuring advice. Here is all the information you need to get through breast feeding's ups and downs...."

From Mother-Talk:

"Written by a mom who has been there, and packed with anecdotes by women from a variety of backgrounds, Mama Knows Breast is a beautifully illustrated gift for new mothers everywhere."

For more information on the book, visit the site.
Check out an interview with the author!
Just finished making the rounds, check out all the reviews at Mother Talk!
Direct Link To My Review Of Mama Knows Breast


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Review: Mama Knows Breast, Andi Silverman



Mama Knows Breast: A Beginner's Guide To Breastfeeding
By Andi Silverman

Published by Quirk Books
Paperback: $14.95, 160 pages
ISBN-10: 1-59- 574-165-4
ISBN-13: 978-1-59474-165-4

If we lived in a society/culture that truly supported women , breastfeeding and everything else that goes along with it (including women's support of each other, familial support and otherwise) there would be no need for this book. However, since we haven't quite reached that point, there is "Mama Knows Breast", by Andi Silverman.

This book is a quick read, yet informative and serious as well as humorous. That can be a rare thing to come by in this genre, the all inclusive 'Mommy Lit', where a majority can be found to favor one or the other school of thought.
Even though my daughter and I are at the end of the breastfeeding path, I did find this helpful and would pass it on to friends. It would make a great baby shower gift!

In her introduction she says "This is a collection of all the things I wish someone had told me when I was pregnant the first time."
Every possible question and situation is addressed with wit and candor; from breastfeeding positions and hold (yes, positioning really does matter) to tandem nursing, getting enough sleep to fashion (it's unrealistic to look like the celebs post-partum, even if they look fabulous) and taking care of yourself. There is also a whole chapter devoted to commonly asked questions. I particularly enjoyed the 'Responding To Critics' section under the Breastfeeding Etiquette chapter. I found I gravitated mostly toward the 'flip' answers.
It is also packed with informative lists, helpful tips, great historical info (under 'Mama Data') and snippets from real moms ('From the Mouths of Moms').

The only thing that bothered me was the illustrations. They were a bit too trendy and annoying to my eye. I mean, who looks like that?

Aside from that, the book and its content was very well organized and informative. I recommend this book to all mothers, but especially those who feel lost in a sea of well-meaning advice and don't have many 'motherly' resources to turn to.

Congratulations Caryn, Winner of Mama Knows Breast Giveaway!

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For more information on the book, visit the site. Check out an interview with the author! If you haven't read the previous reviews of this book yet, check them out at Mother-Talk!


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Thursday, October 04, 2007

MotherVerse Actively Seeking Artwork


MotherVerse is actively searching out visual art for their cover and inside pages.

Check out the submissions page for more information. Please, also, check out the "How To Submit" section on the submissions page as there are specific guidelines on format.
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Don't forget to check out the blog

Want to "Be Heard"? Send us a short piece (under 500 words) on what it's like in your corner of the world! We've set up a short 'Interview Guide' to help you along. If we deem it blog friendly, we’ll post it along with your name(aliases are ok), region, photos, and any website link you may have.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Review: Le Divorce-Book vs. Movie

Le Divorce, Diane Johnson 1997

I must admit, one of the main reasons I picked up this book is the fact that it takes place in France. I occasionally like to do a little armchair traveling. The others? It was something I hadn’t read before, the premise sounded good, and I picked it up for free at the library.
Oh, and the comparisons between the two cultures, French and American; how one can completely reject everything that is familiar and adapt to something that will, eventually, become familiar.

The plot itself had very nice and tidy twists and turns. It went along at a normal pace, not a huge page turner. Although, I was a bit taken aback at Roxy slitting her wrists. That seemed a little unexpected despite knowing the character was in distress. But, expatriate sisters in France, an unexpected affair or two, jealousies, meddlesome families and a fight over a painting of St. Ursula that turns out to be famous. Sounds good to me.

The language of the book is very conversational, easy to digest, light.

I’d recommend this as a light read in fiction and as an interesting take on society in general and, specifically, between the French and American societies.

I can safely say I will never see the movie again. I happened to catch it on the Independent Film Channel mere days after finishing the book.
I suppose if you had never read the book, the movie would seem like any other, not very extraordinary…and a bit flaky, run of the mill. What I am really getting at is, the movie, apart from the book, was okay. Yes, just okay.
It was as if the movie was the same basic story-kept the very basic elements-the situation with Roxy (Naomi Watts), Isabel (Kate Hudson) and Edgar, the crazy ex-husband, etc., but the element of place was in total contrast to the book. The crazy ex-husband had a very extended part in the movie, whereas he just didn’t in the book.

As usual, a lot of information from the book was just not there in the movie. Because of this, I thought the movie too choppy and sporadic, and often had the thought, ‘Wait- this is happening already?? But that’s not until way later.’ Or, even better, ‘That wasn’t even in the book!!!’
Such scenes, for example, like those between Edgar and Isabel, Roxy’s contemplations on St. Ursula-there was so much more on that in the book.

*Conclusion: Book better than movie. Read the book before watching the movie.


Technorati Tags: books, Le Divorce, Diane Johnson, Kate Hudson, Naomi Watts

Just A Couple Things--

*Pinks and Blues is having one their contest give-a-ways, and put together a Halloween Guide with cute costumes, apparel, tricks and treats! Grab a button to enter the contest! Deadline October 15


*Please read this. Facebook sucks and we all know this. Christina over at Moms Speak Up brings up an interesting point.

*Speaking of Facebook Sucking----presenting The League of Maternal Justice

Friday, September 28, 2007

Monday, September 24, 2007

Review: What Mothers Do, Especially When It Looks Like Nothing, Naomi Stadlen


What Mothers Do, Especially When It Looks Like Nothing
By Naomi Stadlen

Tarcher/Penguin
Paperback $14.95, 323 pages
ISBN: 978-1-58542-591-4



When I first sat down to write this up, I didn’t know where to begin. So much of the book affected me in such a personal way. I saw myself reflected in many pages, in the words of other real mothers.

In an age of mommy lit and the much publicized (though unfortunately named) 'Mommy Wars', where competition between ourselves, our doctors and our culture runs rampant, this book stands out. Finally, a book that tells motherhood as it is; a book that has truly cracked the surface of motherhood and digs down deep to the root: a culture that ultimately has very little respect for ‘what mothers do’.


Stadlen stresses throughout the book the need of creating a spoken language for motherhood that is more positive. She also states that ‘We live in an articulate society’ yet we cannot conjure a language befitting motherhood and what is spoken, takes on more of the negative than the positive.
Motherhood itself is a wordless language. It is nearly impossible to put words to such a thing that requires numerous subtle actions. But, if we could find those more positive words for such actions, instead of labeling the mother 'nervous' when she is just looking after her baby, just simply mothering. Early on in the book, she makes the observation that "...we don't seem to have a problem when it comes to finding fault. We have plenty of words to describe what mothers do when they relate badly to their children..." (p. 21) and goes on to list these words-they take up almost half a page.

The subject of language is just one in this many faceted book. Drawing on the words of real mothers, she lays bare what sleep deprivation is really like, feelings mothers have towards their children-both sides of the coin: she is not afraid to take on the darker side of motherhood, why it seems as if you will never be able to go to the bathroom unaccompanied again, and much more.

She takes on the old (though tiresome) question: What Did You Do All Day?, and tells us through short interviews with real mothers, revealing the good, the bad and the ugly.

We seem to live in a society where mothers are ‘damned if they do and damned if they don’t’ regarding decisions they make for their own child; where Doctors and Experts overrule our Mother’s Instinct, making us doubt our natural instinct towards our children, making us believe we need a second opinion (perhaps in some cases we do, but not all); where there is so much competition in all areas of our lives, but especially with our Doctors, Experts and ourselves. We have lost our ability, as a society, as mothers, to really trust ourselves.

There is a great statement in this book: “The baby may tire her, but we, if we aren’t careful, may exhaust her.” (p.105)
"We" being society and peers. I don’t believe I’ve heard anything so true.

Just because a mother looks as if she is doing nothing, does not mean she isn't.

This is a book every mother has been waiting for and needs to read. It is a book everyone needs to read. Just about every mother can relate to this book; see themselves in some aspect, in some other mother’s words.

I had a pen in hand at all times while reading this book. There was so much in this book that deserved to be emphasized by the black mark of my pen. Needless to say, it is already well-worn and dog-eared after just one reading. A sure sign of a great book.

This book is encouraging, excellently written and researched, and most importantly, doesn’t tout a right or wrong way of doing things.

Read this book, then pass it along to your friends! They'll thank you for it! This is a book I recommend.


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Be sure to check in throughout the week for additional reviews as they are posted!

As a side note, the new MomWritersLitMag just came out today-Their second print issue! I have a poem featured in this particular issue.


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Sunday, September 23, 2007

Spotlight: Cold Hollow Cider Mill: It's About That Time


Here in Vermont, the leaves are beginning to change to their brilliant shades of red, orange and gold; a cool, brisk wind begins to creep in; the leaf peepers come in by the bus load-always good for a laugh and a grumble as you hear 'Oh, it's such a quaint town' for the hundredth time in one day; and-one of the true signs of fall-Cider Mill Cider doughnuts are appearing in the bakeries and coffee shops.

A must-see-and-do event is the Cold Hollow Cider Mill. Fall just doesn't seem complete without a trip here.

The Mill is one of the top producers of cider in New England. Situated in Waterbury, Vermont, it is open to the public year round. They have free complete tours where you can get samples and watch the entire cider milling process, done with the old, traditional rack and cloth press technique. It might be a good idea to get reservations if doing a group tour, but it's not necessary.

Although well-known for their Apple Cider, they have many other tasty goodies such as cider jelly (very tasty, highly recommended) , Mustards (Maple Horseradish, Honey, Maple, and Cider Mustard), Apple Butter!! (Spiced and Unsweetened-I live on this during the fall!), delicious jellies (Wild Rose Hip, Wild Elderberry, Wild Strawberry, Wild Beach Plum, and Gooseberry, just to name a few) and, of course, the cider donuts. I hear you can get the dough mix for the doughnuts these days so you can make them for yourself.

A good trip for the kids, adults, out-of-towners, and locals alike, Cold Hollow Cider Mill is sure to have something for everyone.


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The new Mother-Talk Review is up: What Mothers Do, Especially When It Looks Like Nothing (Naomi Stadlen)

Volunteering For LeLeche League and OtherThings

For the past three or four years, I've been volunteering (and shopping) at my local Le Leche League sale. It is just about the best opportunity to get great clothes and equipment (strollers, swings, etc) for really cheap. And, of course, it all benefits Le Leche League.

While sorting through the clothes on the size 6 table- (Izzy, you're going to LOVE this)- I was finding girls tank tops with shelf bras. At the 6 year old table. What the hell do 6 year olds need shelf bras for?

That shit just makes me fucking crazy!!!! Ack!

Anyway, aside from that, a good time was had at the LLL sale. Got to see a few people I haven't heard from in awhile.

*****
Consider donating to Le Leche League via Le Leche League International

Or, find your state here and consider donating your time
-

Onto other news:
Have you heard of another recall, this time concerning Simplicity Cribs-

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is announcing today a voluntary recall with Simplicity Inc., of Reading, Pa., of about 1 million cribs. The drop-side can detach from the crib, which can create a dangerous gap and lead to the entrapment and suffocation of infants. CPSC is aware of two deaths in Simplicity manufactured cribs with older style hardware, including a 9-month-old child and a 6-month-old child, where the drop-side was installed upside down. CPSC is also aware of seven infant entrapments and 55 incidents in these cribs.


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Don't forget to check out the new guest blogger at MotherVerse!


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Friday, September 21, 2007

Seventh Generation Update: The Follow-Up Email and Coupon Vouchers


I received these coupons and free voucher for a package of diapers today, along with a hand-written note from Jason, the same customer service person who handled my Product review.









Also, the follow-up email (9/18/07):

Hi Kris,

Thank you for following back and you are most welcome. I have put in a refund
request for 51.96 for 4 pkgs. I have also sent you a voucher for a free bag of diapers
that can be used at any local retailer that sells the diapers or at www.1800diapers.com.
You should see the voucher in about a week and the refund in about 2-3 weeks. In the meantime
I thank you again and wish you and your family well ...

Take care,
Jason


Again, nice. Plain and simple -And quick service. Have not received the package of diapers yet, but will update as soon as they arrive.

Again, Thank you Jason and Seventh Generation for excellent customer service.

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In case you missed it, here is the original Seventh Generation Spotlight Feature

here is the Seventh Generation Response

The post over at Moms Speak Up about Seventh Generation

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Monday, September 17, 2007

Seventh Generation, Response

About two weeks ago, I posted this, featuring Seventh Generation Diapers in the Spotlight. In that post, I included my letter I never sent and put forth my frustration.

Today, I got a response from Customer Service at Seventh Generation:

Hi Kris,

Thanks for being in touch with us about the diapers and I want to apologize on behalf of Seventh Generation for not responding to you sooner. I read the info on your blog and I appreciate you letting us know about this matter. I am a diaper user with my toddler and although I have been fortunate not to have issues I am more than aware of the defects we have had periodically with the diapers. We had several
large batches of tab issues around the 1st of the year which have since been rectified aside from the occasional package showing up in the marketplace. Our issues are manufacturing related and more importantly are around the parameters in which we catch mistakes early enough. The issue is we have not caught them in time and thus we continue to have these unfortunate dialogues around quality. In the current model they are not being caught early enough. The fact that we have had a "new and improved" label was purely coincidental as we have had that same packaging design for over 2 1/2 years since we changed from a German based manufacturer to one in the United States. At the end of the day we are still putting out a quality diaper, the issue is as prior mentioned tightening up parameters around quality issues and that is something that is paramount as we move forward. With all that said, I can not take back your frustration to date rather let you know how valuable your patronage has been as well as your feedback. I would like to refund you for the equivalent amount of a case of our diapers (4pkgs) and provide you with a voucher for a future package. If you would e-mail your complete address information I will send that along accordingly. Lastly, I would appreciate you referring consumers to contact us if they to have issues as this is something we do not assume the consumer to accommodate our shortcomings. Thanks again ...

Take care for now ...
Jason



Consumer Relations
Seventh Generation

I have to say, I was quite pleased with a few things: the response-it was quicker than I would have thought it to be; The overall tone of the email message was considerate; I didn't quite expect the refund and voucher, but I'm not going to refuse it.

Thank you, Jason, for doing your job well.

Great job in customer service!

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Saturday, September 15, 2007

Family Tries (Note The Word) To Live Off Of $105/Week In Food Stamps

So, I came across an article from the local paper a while ago-a week ago, actually. It's been going on for that long.

The basis of it is this family of five will try and make it on $105 /week for food via the state Food Stamps Program.

Now, while I realize they are trying to prove the point that the amount is not really enough to live on, there are plenty of other people on Food Stamps getting half of that with the same amount of people in the house.

I would liked to have seen them live on $50 or, at the most, $75/week.

As I said, I realize there is a point to all this, but I think it is more than a 'bit condescending' that this was done. After all, that family gets to go back to their 'normal', while all the other families who ARE on food stamps continue to get their $75-80/week, go to food banks and wonder if they will have enough food to last the rest of the month.

Oh, if we all had the opportunity to just 'try it out' sometime......
"I would have a very hard time thinking about food, and the cost of food (all the time)," added Taormina. "There's a luxury to not being able to think about it."

There are millions of people who do that every singe day.
Check out the comments, too, at the end of the article.



Food Stamp Article Via Times Argus, Montpelier, Day 1

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Tuesday, September 11, 2007

The Moms Rising Logo: Racist and Archaic?




The other day, I came across a post over at Mama Noire (one of Jennifer James' blogs) that got me thinking, opened my eyes a little more. Let me just say there are few posts that really truly do that. She also posted something on Black Breastfeeding Blog, Check out the comments. Pretty great.

The Moms Rising logo, as Jennifer James points out
"The image of Rosie the Riveter bears no healthy significance for me as a woman, and especially as a black mother."

I can very much see her point. Perhaps it was completely unintentional on the part of Moms Rising in choosing their logo, but it seems to me they could have done better.

Rosie the Riveter is iconic in our culture. But that doesn't mean everyone likes her. It was conceived at a time when World War II broke out, when the men weren't at home to fill the factories among other jobs and when being patriotic actually meant something. It may have increased the number of women in the work force, but what happened when the men came home from the war? Most went back home and kept house. They were expected to. Some did stay in the workforce, but they certainly didn't get paid much and conditions usually weren't very accommodating. And, as Jennifer James so aptly points out:

When Rosie the Riveter became a powerful icon for women, black people still had to drink water from separate water fountains.
When Rosie the Riveter became a powerful icon for women, black women war workers had to live in separate dormitories.

Personally, I don't find Rosie the Riveter empowering, or even positive these days. I find it archaic. It screams to me that WOMEN CAN BE JUST LIKE MEN TOO!!!!! (among other things) And while that may appeal to some women, it does not appeal to me. Why would you want to be just like the men? The kicker is, to get ahead in the world of work, to get to those high-end jobs and fields dominated by men, women most often have to act like the men. Does this make sense?


Such organizations like Le Leche League and the International Breastfeeding Symbol managed to come up with a logo that wasn't offensive, racist or archaic.

The International Breastfeeding Symbol


So, what's going on at Moms Rising?



Even Code Pink came up with some decent buttons:



And BlogHer: (For all my issues with them, at least they had the sense to come up with a decent logo)



Thank you, Jennifer James, for making me see another side of the coin.

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Mama Noire post on Mom's Rising Logo

Post from Black Breastfeeding Blog with lots of -lively-comments

By the way, Jennifer James was recently Guest Blogger on MotherVerse Blog.

Mom's Rising site


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Edited to add: the breastfeeding icon and blogHer icon



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