Thursday, January 31, 2008

Sesame Street For The "Kids"

Is it me or does Sesame Street seem a little 'adult' these days? Not in the sex blog kind of way, or anything like that.

Some of the sketches strike me as a little-to-way- beyond a kid's understanding, using references to adult shows such as Law and Order, The Apprentice, and others. Was it always this way?

Then it occurs to me-holy crap-they're marketing to those kids who grew up with the damn show in the 70's and 80's, and now have kids of their own.

**Ack! That would be me!**


What happened? While there are still segments of the show that are truly kid-friendly, etc., the magic is gone, inspiration is gone, simplicity is gone.

Is it time for Sesame Street to just bow out? Possibly. Gracefully or not.

Just a thought....

And, yes, I've vented about the sad situation of Sesame Street before.....

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

New Book On Anne Boleyn

There's a new-ish book (released September '07) on Anne Boleyn, Da Capo/Perseus Book Group- Anne Boleyn: A New Life of England's Tragic Queen by Joanna Denny.

The debut of Showtime's series The Tudors back in April last year and the start of the second coming up in March '08 as well as the adaptation of Philippa Gregory's The Other Boleyn Girl, is sure to spark renewed interest in Anne Boleyn and the Tudor legacy. Indeed, it already has.

The description claims to "forever change our perception of this much-maligned queen". I'd like to see if the book lives up to its claim. This just went on my To Read list.

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Monday, January 28, 2008

Short Comment on No Evil Star, Anne Sexton

No Evil Star: Selected Essays, Interviews and Prose
Anne Sexton

Edited by Steven E. Colburn , 1985
Softcover, 206 pages
University of Michigan Press

I had originally received this book as a Mother's Day gift a few years ago and never read it through in its entirety until now.
I started reading Sexton shortly after I discovered Plath-it seemed the next logical step, I suppose.

In No Evil Star, you can really hear Sexton's voice, get a glimpse of her personality through her words in the interviews, prose, poetry excerpts, etc. Now, whether she was actually telling the truth is another matter entirely.

Still, it's an enjoyable book and is, I think, a necessary read for anybody interested in Sexton's work.

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Saturday, January 26, 2008

December-Into-January Post Round Up

Better late than never....

Jillypoet is back after a brief hiatus.

Green Mom Finds is here!

New Site: Non Toxic Kids

Just wanted to bring this to your attention. I don't think any words could suffice. Originally found it via Mothering.

Top 12 Web sites for Health Advice via Mother Earth Living (a division of Mother Earth News magazine)

Skin Deep: Cosmetic Safety Database and Free Shopping Guide (find out which veggies and fruits should be bought organic) via Environmental Working Group

Friday, January 25, 2008

Reading Dadditude: How A Real Man Became A Real Dad

Dadditude: How A Real Man Became A Real Dad
Phil Lerman
Da Capo Press/Lifelong Books
Hardcover, $19.95
245 pgs.

I have to admit, when I found out the author of Dadditude is the same Phil Lerman of America's Most Wanted fame, I was a little surprised. I just didn't know what to expect. What I found between the cover was real..and hilarious.

In Dadditude, Lerman lays it all bare from the Dad's point of view, all with raucously sharp humor and keen insight: the perils and pleasant surprises of being an older parent, the infectious nature of Disney, Dora and Barney-and the unexpected occurrence of....nipple pinching, among many other things.

It's very likely you'll find a laugh-or at least an amused chuckle-on nearly every page. I found myself busting out a laugh here and there, nodding in agreement: The Whys? Endless rounds of Nos? Oh, yes, been there, done that on the Mom's side of things.

It was great to see a book by a Dad so involved in his child's life. So often you see the Dad's point of view overlooked, not taken as seriously, or in some cases, just not there.

Lerman certainly doesn't take himself too seriously, as evidenced by the book; but takes the job of being a Dad honestly and with humor intact, a trait, admittedly, hard to hang onto when life can become ''.

Visit for more info on Phil and his book. See his guest post here. Cross-posted at MotherVerse Blog.

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Thursday, January 24, 2008

Guest Spot: Phil Lerman, author of Dadditude

I am pleased to present Phil Lerman, author of Dadditude, as the next Guest Spot on Writing In The Mountains. Discussion of the book coming soon! Stay tuned!

What an honor for a dad to be asked to guest-blog on a mommy site! I feel like I’ve snuck into the women’s locker room. Only no one’s called the security guard. Yet, anyway.

Kris asked me if I would write about how I’ve handled it when my son has an attack of the “No’s.” I can answer that question very quickly: How do I handle it?

Very, very badly.

In my book “Dadditude,” I wrote about one of those days that was – well, it was one of those days:

Max, here are your pancakes (“No no no! I want popcorn for breakfast!”). Sorry, you’ve got pancakes. Try to use your fork to eat that – “No no no, no want fork.” OK, you can use your hands. “No no no, no want hands.” Fine. Eat it any way you want. “No no no, I don’t want to do whatever I want.” Do you need to go to the potty? “No no no.” Read a book? “No books.” Nap? “Fuggedaboudit.” “Max, if you don’t stop arguing, you’re going to have a time out.” “No want time out! No no no!” “Max, look, here’s ten dollars, an ice cream cone, a new car, and a baseball bat you can smash in the television set with. Anything you want. Will you just stop saying no no no?” “No, no no.”

This was a tough phase (no it wasn’t!), a really tough one (no no no, it was an easy one!), and we tried to weather it as best we could (no you didn’t! You tried to weather it very badly!), with a combination of firmness and understanding (no! you can’t combine firmness and understanding!). But mostly we had no choice but to wait it out (no! You wait it in!)

What I did was what every parent does who reads those books that make you think you can control your children. I began giving him choices. “Max, you may eat a pancake or a waffle. Which do you choose?” Instead of arguing about whether it was time for shoes, I gave him choices: “Max, you may put on your blue shoes or your green shoes, which do you choose?”

This works, up to a point. Unfortunately, your child will test the limits of this, and you know that you must eventually reach the nuclear option. With Max, it was this: “Max, you may choose to put on your shoes, or I will take away your Lightning McQueen car. Which do you choose?”

This was Max’s favorite toy. He knew I had him cornered. He would collapse, in sadness, at this moment. He would succumb, putting on his shoes, choking back tears. I would win.

And I would feel awful. The joy and delight and noise and exuberence Max brings into our homes -- even in those difficult "no" moments -- was all sucked out of the room, replaced by sullen, silent obedience.

For me, that was not the best choice.

What moms can learn from dads is that consistency, and firmness, are important traits for your child to see you exhibit. What dads can learn from moms is that you have to pick your battles, and that, despite what Vince Lombardi taught us, winning is neither everything, nor the only thing.

What I have learned from Max:

It’s OK to be consistent. Just not all the time.

For more about Phil and his book, Dadditude: How a real man became a real dad, visit

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Everyday Toxic-a small follow up to Toxic Bathroom

Looking at those last two posts (and if you browse through the Skin Deep Database) do we really have to wonder why humans have infertility problems? And a host of other 'disorders' and diseases such as cancer? And what about things like Autism and Autism Spectrum Disorder? I'm only hypothesizing, I have no real, hard facts on that, but what if disorders such as these are related to the crap that is in products we use and consume everyday-from shampoo to cleaning products to the very food we eat- and the crap that is in our environment? Toxins that we are exposed to every single day? It's not just the Mercury in vaccines.

Maybe I'm just going off, Maybe this doesn't make much sense. But, what about it?

Monday, January 21, 2008

Toxic Bathroom, Part 2

As if all this weren't enough, there's more. Yep. It's amazing how much crap accumulates in the bathroom-no pun intended. Seriously.

To continue on from the shampoos. etc., I went through all the lotions/facial care, toothpastes/dental care, and other miscellany I could find. Again, I used the Skin Deep Cosmetic Database, run by the Environmental Working Group, to determine the level of toxicity.

This round, not as bad as the last actually. Although, I didn't include a few others, which are so toxic, they might cause your skin to melt off. Perhaps another round later?

One question, though: What are we doing with so many deodorants?

1. Almay concealer, rating of 4

2. Almay antiperspirant deodorant, clear gel, fragrance free, rating of 1-yea!

3. Sally Hansen Hard As Nails series, rating of 6

4. Sally Hansen Nail Polish Remover, rating of 6

5. L'Oreal Men's Expert Comfort Max After Shave, rating of 6

6. Mitchum Deodorant, clear gel, rating of 1!

7. Kiss My Face Deodorant, Fragrance Free, rating of 1

8. Arm and Hammer Whitening Toothpaste, rating of 3/4 (thought this would be higher)

9. Listerine Mouthwash, rating of 5

10. Tom's of Maine Deodorant/toothpaste/fluoride free toothpaste, ratings of 2, 2, and 2, respectively.

11. Queen Helene Mint Julep Mask, rating of 4

Want To Get A Little More "Green"? Stop by here for tips, finds and resources.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Toxic Bathroom

You learn new stuff everyday-like which shampoos are so toxic, if you took a lighted match to them, they'd explode. Or which of your baby's shampoos has the potential to cause cancer and a host of other nasty things.

So, I took a look at my bathroom shelves: shampoos, lotions, conditioners, etc.

With the exception of two or three shampoo bottles and a few (very few) odds and ends, it can all get thrown out on the grounds of some form of toxicity. Disgusting.

To determine the level of overall toxicity, I used the Skin Deep Cosmetic Safety Database, which is a safety guide to cosmetics and personal care products brought to you by researchers at the Environmental Workers Group. They rate products on a scale of 0-10, 0-2: Low Hazard; 3-6: moderate hazard; 7-10: High hazard.

The biggest offenders?

1. Pantene Pro V Shampoo (basic) with a rating of 5

2. Suave for Kids, with a rating of 5

3. Suave Professionals Series, rating of either 5 or 6

4. Neutrogena Triple Moisture series, rating of 5

5. Aussie Shampoo and gel, rating of 5/6

6.Fructis Shampoo/Conditioner, rating of 6

7 Aveda Color Conserve Conditioner, rating of 7!

8. Desert Essence lotion, rating of 6

9. Nature's Gate Lotion, rating of 3! Yea!

10. Basis Clean Face Wash, rating of 6

Hmmm...That doesn't look so good.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Sleep "Schedule"

It seems as if the Girl has "suddenly" switched her sleep schedule around, going on about a week now.
Going to sleep-yes! sleep!- by 7:30-yes, that's P.M.-and then...waking at the crack of dawn the next day-about 7:30. Early, considering 9a.m./9p.m. was the norm for months.

This, of course, has its benefits and drawbacks.
The benefits being: she's in bed by 7:30! And asleep! I have glorious time all to myself!

Eh-What do I do?

Watch the 'grown up' movies and write, mostly. Take time to relax, take a break from The Little Mermaid. The Tudors, anyone? Season 1?

The downside-(I'm) we are up at 7 a.m., where it used to be a reasonable 9 a.m./p.m. time. It's fine, though. Change is inevitable. It'll most likely change yet again at some point....though, hopefully, dare I say it, not at 4 a.m.

Cross-posted at MotherVerse Blog
Another book review coming up shortly! Stay tuned!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Reading Pushed, Jennifer Block

Pushed: The Painful Truth About Childbirth and Modern Maternity Care
Jennifer Block (2007)
Hardback $26.00
316 pages
DeCapo/LifeLong/Perseus Book Group

It's no secret that the modern maternity care system needs a major, complete overhaul. But will we get it? Will it ever happen in this society that generally views birth as 'medical' , 'something to be treated' and not as a 'natural occurrence'?
How can we repair a system that is so detrimental to women and children? How did birth get this way?

These are a few of the many penetrating questions Block poses to the reader throughout the book.
She has made this subject accessible with incredible wry wit, thorough research and compelling narrative.
This is a book every woman needs to read. If you are a woman who has given birth, even contemplating birth and pregnancy, you need to read this.

I have whipped through this thing. It's been hard to put down, admittedly. While reading this, I got a lot of looks-looks that said 'Why are you reading that?' I got the same looks when I was reading Overtreated: Why Too Much Medicine Is Making Us Sicker and Poorer, by Susan Brownlee. I like to dig under the surface.

There are some crazy situations going on in between the cover of this book and behind the doors of hospitals. As I said in my review of Overtreated by Susan Brownlee, you need a strong stomach for a book such as this. Not only that, be prepared to become quite agitated, and thoroughly informed.

Something I found interesting (among a hundred other things) was the point that since OB’s simply won’t attend breech births-mainly for liability reasons: they don’t want to get sued if something goes wrong-the mothers are going to the midwives, who are then, consequently, surpassing the medical OB’s knowledge of breech births.

How’s that for irony?

One of the parts that gets me agitated is toward the end where Block is talking about the women who ended up tangled in the court system (and for some, jail!) for not agreeing to a cesarean in the hospital or ‘endangering’ their unborn fetus by doing a home birth, etc. That is irresponsible on the behalf of the hospital.

One big vicious cycle, it is, modern obstetrics.

Something else that struck me, and I admit, something that never occurred to me, is when Block is talking to the various midwives and one of them brings up abortion and birth choice-how NOW and all the other women's rights groups are all about abortion, but don't touch the issue of birth choice and the rights a mother has while pregnant, in labor and in the hospital/at home.

Hospitals used to be houses for the dead and dying-medical advances have turned this around so that they are viewed as houses of healing.

What needs to be done so that the process of birth is viewed as a normal occurrence and not that of 'something to be fixed'? The 'view' needs to change somehow.

Next on my list? Probably Born In the U. S.A. : How A Broken Maternity System Must Be Fixed To Put Women and Children First, Marsden Wagner

Jennifer Block's website

Pushed, the blog

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Reading The Unraveling Archive: Essays on Sylvia Plath

The Unraveling Archive: Essays on Sylvia Plath
Edited by Anita Helle (2007)
University of Michigan Press
277 pgs.

Sylvia Plath is probably one of the most mythologized and scrutinized women poets of our time.

There was more to this poet than her death and the manner in which she died. This book attempts to see the woman behind the myth.

With the exception of two or three essays, this book caught my attention. The Unraveling Archive explores familiar and not so familiar avenues of the poets life, each author (with different levels of knowledge and experience on the subject of Plath) offering a fresh perspective.

One essay that particularly caught my attention was The Political Education of Sylvia Plath by Robin Peel. No biographer has delved into this aspect of Plath quite as Peel has. If politics were such an integral part of Plath’s consciousness (as were poetry, art, etc.), why hasn’t it been given more consideration in the past? Peel even states, on several occasions, that much (if not all) of Plath’s political musings were not included in Letters Home. Peel also makes note of how her political involvement-how she was suddenly not so involved- coincided with the meeting (and eventual marriage) of Hughes.

Motherhood is perhaps the most prevalent of subjects (if not the most) in Plath’s later writing. Ariel’s Kitchen delves into this aspect with unique insight.

Others include Marsha Bryant’s Ariel’s Kitchen: Plath, Ladies’ Home Journal and the Domestic Surreal, Lynda K. Buntzen’s Poetic Arson and Sylvia Plath’s Burning the Letters as well as Diane Middlebrook’s Creative Partnership: Sources for ‘The Rabbit Catcher’.

Plath was a woman who colored outside the lines in the literary arena, as well as the domestic, in an era where models and molds were to be strictly adhered to. She was just 'before her time', trying to survive in the cookie cutter 1950's.

This is a very accessible book. Whether you are a Plath fan or not, readers are bound to find something of interest in this book, for example, the intricacies of a creative literary relationship between husband and wife: the competitions and jealousies as well as rewards.

New Post at Moms Speak Up

New post over at Moms Speak Up: An interview with Katy Farber, founder and editor of the site Non-Toxic Kids. with discussion of recalls, China, regulation standards and a whole lot more!

Monday, January 07, 2008

Green Mom Finds: Official Launch

Today is the official launch day of Green Mom Finds- the project I hinted at earlier.

Here's what's going on at GMF:

Going green just got easier! We're bringing you the best in safer, eco-friendly alternatives for you and your family. Stay tuned for new products, tips, resources, and some great giveaways!

I'll be posting along with these fine Mamas.

So stop by, check it out and grab a button to show your support!

Friday, January 04, 2008

New Year-2008

Hello 2008!

Lots of things are going on around here-

I was recently appointed Writer's Resource Editor at Mom Writers Literary Magazine. I'm very excited about this opportunity and am looking forward to working with all the fabulous women writers!

I'm also involved in a project just about to launch on the web-mere days! You'll just have to wait and see about this one. Although, I will say it involves some other women from Moms Speak Up.

Rang in the new year watching a Kathy Griffin stand up marathon on Bravo, briefly tuning into Times Square to see the twinkly ball drop, and dodging a stray champagne cork heading straight for my head, even though it was pointed in the opposite direction.

It feels as if this year will bring about big things, big events. Not just personally, but globally.

Oh-I finished PUSHED....Jennifer Block, and will be posting about that shortly.......