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October 25, 2006

Mother Talk Blog Tour - Momfidence!

Three Kid Circus is one of the stops on the Mother Talk Blog Tour for Paula Spencer's spot-on parenting book: Momfidence! ~ An Oreo Never Killed Anybody and Other Secrets of Happier Parenting.

I've read a huge pile of parenting books in the last eight years. I picked up a lot of conflicting information on the proper way to raise a child. I also developed a sense of frustration with parenting experts. Rather than build my confidence as a mother, most of these books offered proof that I was doing it wrong.

Enter Paula Spencer. Momfidence! is based on Paula's popular columns that have been featured in Woman's Day and Parenting magazines. From her opening pep-talk, it becomes clear that this is no ordinary parent-right-or-risk-years-of-expensive-therapy book. Paula's personal stories are woven throughout, serving as charming, real-world illustrations to the guilt-releasing suggestions she offers.

Momfidence! offers twenty-four chapters of hilarious insight into such burning hot parenting topics as appropriate toys (Happiness Is a Gun and a Naked Bimbo), discipline ("Please Don't Jump on the Dead Whale!") and control (You Can Lead a Child to Carrots, but You Can't Make Him Crunch.) I found myself snorting with laughter over her attempts to create a family tradition via gingerbread house construction, and sighing with recognition as she shares her experiences with family outings that don't live up to the hype, behavior that falls short of expectations, and conducting phone interviews "...while hiding in the pantry and tossing out cheese doodles with my free hand to keep a pesky toddler sated."

Rather than insist that we can reclaim our inner sex-goddess, or have it all if we just organzied ourselves, or attain sainthood by never allowing a negative thought to cross our minds, or an oreo to cross our lips, Momfidence! focuses on ways that we make ourselves (and my extension, our families) happy. Not perfect. Happy.

In my early motherhood mania, I am not sure how I would have received this book. I was so involved in chasing the dream of 'perfect' motherhood that I might have scoffed at Paula's relaxed approach. I believed with every fiber of my being that there was a right way to parent, and if I looked hard enough, I would have all the answers. I also assumed that mothers who "winged it" were slackers, and weren't educating themselves on the best things for their child.

For the record, I would love to go back in time and slap a copy of Momfidence! into my twitching, neurotic hand. Paula demonstrates that parenting is often exasperating, exhausting and full of humorous situations. There isn't a one-size fits all way to parent, and by believing in our own abilities to figure it out as we go, we can release the guilt, and enjoy the adventure of raising a family. Most of the time.

October 18, 2006

Mother Talk Blog Tour - Sleep Solutions for your baby, toddler and preschooler

Ann Douglas has a sterling reputation as the author of The Mother of All Pregnancy Books. I've long admired her blog, but haven't had the opportunity to actually read one of her books - until now. Three Kid Circus is one of the stops on the latest Mother Talk Blog Tour for Ann's newest book - Sleep Solutions for your baby, toddler and preschooler.

I yanked the book out of the shipping box the moment it arrived, and did what I always do with this sort of book - flipped directly to the resource section in the back. I wanted to see if there was a quick reference guide, a place to jump right in and start solving. Us sleep deprived mamas don't always want to read through the entire book to find that one nugget of wisdom that might help, you know.

Sleep Solutions doesn't disappoint. Right off the bat, I loved the comprehensive index, and the fantastic, no-bull approach to navigating. Ann provides clean, simple charts that compile sleep solutions, and address possible reasons for sleep disruption, providing simple explanations on appropriate actions for the different age groups she addresses. Ann gives helpful summaries of challenges and methods, and provides the location of additional information within Sleep Solutions.

Satisfied with the ease of getting directly to the advice, I turned to the first chapter. Ann is friendly, engaging and real, and her advice and information feels like it is coming from a friend, not an expert.


...I'm not going to do a guilt number on you in this book. Your sleep choices are your own sleep choices. Enough said. It's my job to provide you with the most accurate, unbiased information I can and to present it in a non-bossy way.

On the bottom of page 5, there is a section called The Sleep Deprived Parent's Quick Guide to This Book
which, when you turn the page, leads to another brilliant chart that tells you how to quickly find the information you need for your particular situation.

Brilliant.

Sleep Solutions is a quick, entertaining read, full of real-life questions and answers from Ann's extensive research and interviews. I was tickled to read quotes from blogging mothers. Most of all, I appreciated the even-handed, unbiaised approach, presented in a way that even the most sleep-deprived of parents could easily find ideas and form a plan of action.

Even as an eight year veteran of the Sleep Wars, there was new, reassuring information in here for me. I particularly enjoyed the relaxation techniques for preschoolers. We've already put the "sound of silence" into action, and it is working like a charm!

For more on Ann's fantastic library of pregnancy and parenting books, visit The Mother of All Blogs. To see what the other Mother Talk bloggers think of Sleep Solutions, check this out.

October 17, 2006

Can Be Fun

I've been battling lousy manners and bad attitudes around here for the last, like, forever, which sucks. Granted, I'm not the best of role models, so there's that. But still.

I've enlisted the help of author Munro Leaf in my attempt to march my little monsters down the righteous side of the street. I love these books, and I seriously can't stop laughing about them. These books don't mince words, and the bluntness is shocking in this day and age, but it strikes a chord with my kids. They get it.

Safety can be fun (out of print) - featuring kids being ridiculed for putting plastic bags on head and playing with fireworks, among other, slightly less dramatic safety violations.

Manners can be fun - "The Noiseys - They shout and scream and yell until I can't even think. They make so much noise they make me tired." Amen, Munro. Amen.

And of course, How to behave and why - which explains that you have to be honest, you have to be fair, you have to be strong, you have to be wise. Or else. Stupid Nitwit.