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

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.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

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.

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.

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
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,

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.

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 ...

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.

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

Edited to add: the breastfeeding icon and blogHer icon

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Friday, September 07, 2007

Tea and Space

I wanted to take a moment to thank Love and Tea for their lovely especially-made-for-me teas.

Thanks! You know they will be enjoyed!

You may have noticed that "My Other Work" page is missing. I moved it onto the opposite sidebar under the heading '...And Publications'. I created a whole space for everything I am involved in-sort of like a resume of my writing activities. As of now, it is an evolving thing, so check back often to see where I've been recently!

Publications and Other Contributions

Kris writes somewhere in the woods of Vermont.

Some of her work has appeared in The Whole Mom, Mom Writers Lit Mag and MotherVerse.

Here you will find all of Kris’ work, including Poetry, Essays and different blogs she contributes to.

If you would like to contact Kris about any of her work, please email:
krisunderwood (at) gmail (dot) com



Swimming (Stretchmarks)
Literary Mama, May '08

Nap, October 28, 2007

MomWritersLitMagazine, Fall 2007

The Mystery
Realizations Of Identity
MotherVerse, Issue #6, May 2007

Snippet At 5 Months

1 a.m., nearly 2, Late Summer
The Whole Mom, March 2007

Mom Writers Literary Magazine, Winter 2006

“All The Birds Say Caw Caw”
Poetry Midwest, Fall 2006, #17

Mama Says Newsletter, 2005

(as the interviewer)

Katy Farber of Non-Toxic Kids at MotherVerse Blog

(Previously at the Original Moms Speak Up)

Vicki Glembocki, author of The Second Nine Months..., MotherVerse #8. 2008

(review mentioned on Vicki Glembocki's site)

Annie Downey at Hip Mama, Summer '08....See an excerpt at Annie Downey's blog!

Andi Silverman, author of Mama Knows Breast, Mom Writer's Lit Mag Fall/Winter '08

Caroline Grant & Elrena Evans of Mama, PhD, MotherVerse Magazine & WITM
You can also find the interview at Mama PhD site. as well as a mention at Elrena Evans' site

Mom Writer's Literary Magazine

Writer's Resources Fall/Winter '08
Writer's Resources Summer '08
Writer's Resources Spring '08
Writer's Resources Winter '07

Cover Story: Melissa Stanton

Review: National Security Mom, Gina M. Bennett
(Full review here)


Putting Myself on Boyfriend Probation
Crazy Hip Blog Mamas, May 2007

Maybe someday I will meet a nice fellow that’s not into drugs or absolutely, legitimately crazy, but for now, I am perfectly content with being on self-appointed Boyfriend Probation.

Mosaic Minds, December 2006

I can’t remember my dreams worth anything these days. I know I do dream: upon waking I can recall snippets of the night’s dream, until it quickly vanishes completely from my fuzzy brain.

"Poetry and Mothering"
Mama Says Newsletter, 2005


Writing In The Mountains
My Personal Blog

Imperfect Parent Blog

Mom Writer's Literary Magazine(Blog)
MotherVerse Blog: Mothering Out Loud

Moms Speak Up
Moms Speak Up is collaborative blog of writers from various backgrounds. We’re talking about the environment, dangerous imports, food safety, toy recalls, education, health care and many other topics of concern.

“When Mothers talk, great things happen.”

The Green Mom Review
Scours the net for environmentally sound products so you don't have to.

My Review Page
Featuring reviews from Mother-Talk, sponsored and non-sponsored reviews, of books and products on the site.

All material (articles and poems) is copyright Kris Underwood (2010) unless otherwise noted.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Spotlight: Seventh Generation Diapers

Not all spotlights shine so brightly....

When it came to choosing diapers in the beginning (ages ago it seems) the most logical choice to me was Seventh Generation Disposable Diapers. They are chlorine-free, hypo-allergenic, and most importantly, contain no fragrance, latex or TBT (tributyl tin)-

Disposable diapers contain traces of Dioxin, an extremely toxic by-product of the paper-bleaching process. It is a carcinogenic chemical, listed by the EPA as the most toxic of all cancer-linked chemicals. It is banned in most countries, but not the U.S..

Disposable diapers contain Tributyl-tin (TBT) - a toxic pollutant known to cause hormonal problems in humans and animals. -Real Diaper Association

Since I didn't have a washer or dryer at the time, disposables seemed the most logical thing, the next best thing to cloth.

I used the diapers for about 2 1/2 years. Around September/October '06, every once in awhile I began to notice a package would have one or two diapers that were defective in some way; i.e. the closure tabs had lost their elasticity or they would just be missing entirely, making it difficult to actually use them. At this point, though, I didn't think too much about it because it was only one or two. Nothing a little diaper tape wouldn't fix. But then, as the weeks went on and more diapers inevitably needed to be bought, I noticed three, four, five defective; and twice, half the package (15 diapers if using the size 5, 13 if using size 6) had the same affliction (shoddy elastic all around, no closure tabs and/or tabs but lack of elasticity).

At some point the store I usually got the diapers from began not carrying the size my daughter wore for lack of shelf room. No problem, I'll just go online at This was great-I got the diapers delivered to my door for the entire month, each month, as a result of good planning.

The thing I did not expect, however, was the increasing regularity at which these packages would arrive with-you guessed it-defective diapers.

The problem, then, wasn't contained within the store I usually bought them-no matter where they came from (Internet:, the other grocery store), it was the same thing.

I also came to notice that all this 'defectiveness' coincided with their 'new look' they promoted so heavily. Perhaps they were working all the kinks out, but try and do that before selling your product to the public.

Rather than put more money into this company, I switched to different diapers (Tender Care) and have been using them ever since. I am aware that this was a year ago, and that the diapers may have improved yet again since then. But because of this experience, I would never go back to their diapers, and it's very likely I won't recommend these. I do not, however, have any problems with their detergent or baby wipes.

I wrote a letter to the company but never sent it. At the time, more dominant and important circumstances came up and took precedence over a piece of paper. But now, better late than never, I suppose-here it is:

November 19, 2006

To Whom This May Concern:

While I enjoy the fact that the diapers are chlorine free, absorb well and are some of the more decently priced ‘natural’ diapers around, I found myself increasingly disappointed with the product over the last few months.

I bought a package of diapers earlier this month and found them defective in the way that the elastic tab closures have actually lost their elasticity and by the time morning rolled around, the elastic tabs had actually come off, leaving half the diaper on my child.

This is not the first time I’ve had problems with this brand of diaper. About two months ago, I again bought the diapers. The elastic tabs weren’t attached properly and would, in fact, come right off while trying to fasten the diaper.

I noticed this change when the company came out with the new and improved look recently, with new, better fitting elastic tabs. I must say, I was disappointed in the newly tabbed diapers from the beginning. The original diaper seemed sturdier then the new and improved. With this new product, it seems, is when the problems with the tabs falling off and not fastening properly, began.

I love and trust the Seventh Generation products and would choose this brand’s diapers over any other. But, if this shoddy manufacturing continues, I will surely move on to another. Also, the fact that I will have to pay postage to mail my complaint doesn’t make me too happy.


Kris Underwood

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Saturday, September 01, 2007

New Blog: Moms Speak Up

I'm blogging pretty regularly over at Moms Speak Up these days.

Go check it out.

Moms Speak Up is collaborative blog of writers from various backgrounds. We're talking about the environment, dangerous imports, food safety, toy recalls, education, health care and many other topics of concern.

Orchestrated by the wonderful IzzyMom, with contributions from Moms who are fed up about the government, recalls, etc.

Be sure to check in often as we all have lots to say!

Also, buttons are available-Spread the word!!

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket


Also, I've added a WidgetBox for MotherVerse Blog on my sidebar.

Grab one for yourself and let everyone know you read and support the blog!! Just click on the 'Get Widget' button.

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