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May 21, 2007

Mother Talk Blog Tour - Mamasource.com

Today on Three Kid Circus Auditions, I'm trying out a great new site for moms - Mamasource.com. When the hot mamas over at Mother-Talk were putting together this blog tour, I jumped at it. I've checked out a lot of community sites for mothers over the years, so I was eager to see if Mamasource.com had something new to offer.

From the "About Mamasource" page:

Mamasource is a safe and easy way to connect with other moms in your local area. Find the advice, referrals and insight you need, in a supportive community of moms helping moms. As a Mamasource member, you can:

Ask other local moms any question you need help with.

Read the questions other moms have asked- and see what answers they have received.

Share your own advice and practical referrals with other moms who need your help.

Mamasource is a free service, but to protect our members we are an invitation-only community. We have a strict no-spam policy and your personal information will never be shared with advertisers.

Well, that's refreshing. So many of the other mom-communities exist to sell advertising dollars or promote products from the sponsors to the highly desireable mom demographic. And while there's nothing wrong with that approach, it is cool to see a site that is not riddled with ads and flair.

I like the local focus, too. Mamasource.com allows users to review local services and recommend everything from hair stylists to restaurants. Personal recommendations on great businesses are always helpful, and when you have kids, hearing it from another mom has extra clout.

I also really love the "a little about me" footer that is inserted after any request. This is a snippet from your profile that can be customized with each post you make. So, you could be asking for advice on great travel tips, and in your "a little about me" footer, you could mention the ages of your children and your frequency of travel, so that you are more likely to get appropriate suggestions. As a long-time discussion board user, I think this handy feature will cut down on "ass-vice" that can result from commenters who don't know the whole story.

Mamasource.com makes finding peer advice easy and supportive. Even their great FAQ page gives 'insider' tips on netiquette to help new users feel like old pros - because let's face it, at one time of another, we've all stumbled across a discussion board or blog where it is all caps, all the time, or full of abbreviations that defy logic. These simple suggestions will take the mystery out of it, and keep everyone happy.

Mamasource.com is still fairly new - my local area includes moms from all over California, for example. I'm sure as the member roster grows, the regional focus will be enhanced. I'm looking forward to seeing this community flourish. Take some time and check Mamasource.com out!

Want to hear what other bloggers have to say? Check out Mother-Talk's reviews.

May 1, 2007

Mother Talk Blog Tour - Writing Motherhood

Today is Three Kid Circus's stop on Mother Talk's latest blog tour, featuring Writing Motherhood by Lisa Garrigues. It is four o'clock in the morning here, and I've been up half the night with scattered thoughts. I've had a rough couple of days with my kids, feeling irritable and easily annoyed. They seem to have a endless supply of energy while my tail is dragging. I haven't wanted to write about it, because it seems self-serving and whiny.

And yet, it is also my experience, my right now. As a blogger, I've become mindful of "my audience" and will often avoid writing about the negative, the heavy, the self-pity. As a writer, I've learned that the best way to send those demons packing is to write them away. And as a mother, I've experienced the guilt and doubt associated with writing my own story - I'm justamom, right? I am wasting time on writing, when I could be folding laundry. Right?

Lisa Garrigues has wriiten a powerful and empowering guide for mothers who feel the urge to write. Writing Motherhood is a roll-your-sleeves-up-and-prepare-to-get-dirty workshop in a bright orange slipcover. Lisa doesn't just tell you how she writes - she shows you how to capture your own stories, one prompt or invitation at a time.

Central to the Writing Motherhood method is the creation of your Mother's Notebook. I cracked up when I read Lisa's recommendation that you start with a disclaimer:

Almost every time one of my students prepares to read aloud a passage from her Mother's Notebook, she offers some excuse for her writing: I haven't slept in days. I had a root canal. My children were screaming bloody murder when I wrote this. The inclination to disclaim our writing has become a running joke in my classes, but we can't help ourselves. Apologizing before reading our writing, it seems, is as automatic as clearing our throats before speaking.

Joking aside, I tell students to reserve the first page of their Mother's Notebook for a Disclaimer, and overall apology for their writing...Title the first page of your notebook "Disclaimer" and write down - in list or paragraph form - every excuse you can think of to explain the lack or lackluster of your writing...

Get it all down - the excuses, the self-doubts, the self-incriminations. Then whenever you feel discouraged about your writing, read over your Disclaimer and recognize the sniviling voice of your self-critic for the wimp he (or she) really is.

*scurries off to write Disclaimer*

In quick, fifteen minute bursts, Lisa teaches even the most reticent mother to capture her stories. Rather than rigid style guidelines and write-by-the-numbers lessons, Writing Motherhood is all about the journey. There is no universal mothering experience. Lisa gives each writer the freedom to find and explore their own path, while providing a solid framework to build on.

Each lesson is illuminated with Lisa's personal experiences, and those of her classes of writers. From the pre-baby years through empty nest syndrome and caring for aging loved ones, Writing Motherhood encourages women to capture the triumphs and heartbreaks that make up our lives.

The book is organized into two parts - the first is a step-by-step guide to building and filling your Mother's Notebook, and filled with suggestions on how to find the time and space to write. It is also full of inspiration and validation - something every writer needs.

*scurries off to buy notebook and dig moat*

The second part of Writing Motherhood focuses on the life-cycle of motherhood.

Part Two follows the chronology of raising our children from birth to adulthood, but motherhood does not follow a straight path. As mothers, we spiral back year after year to the same issues and emotions viewed from a different perspective. So whether you are raising toddlers at twenty or at fifty, whether your parents are agile or aged, you will find inspiration and relevance throughout the book.

On every single page, I found my eyebrows shooting up and my fingers wiggling, eager to put these wonderful writing lessons to work. I am very impressed with Writing Motherhood, and I highly recommend it. In fact, I think this would make a fantastic Mother's Day gift.

For more reviews from the mamas at Mother-Talk, click!

August 14, 2006

Passing It On - My Favorite Books From Childhood

From the moment I felt my oldest daughter quickening in my belly, I was already making plans and stockpiling favorite books and CDs to share with my kids. I had lofty notions about avoiding all televsion and movies until, say, college, but I was steadily filling a bookshelf next to the crib with classics - like Goodnight Moon - and not so classics - The Giant Jam Sandwich. Some of my fondest memories from my childhood take place on the couch, snuggled up with my mom and siblings as she read picture book after picture book. She kept them all safe, and I gleefully raided her stash of books from my childhood as I prepared for my daughter's arrival.

There is something magical about pulling my own children into my arms and cracking open the pages of a story so familiar that I can recite it from memory. The words fall from my lips effortlessly, and I watch their faces instead, reacting to the artwork, turning the pages with chubby hands and adding their own two cents on every illustration. My kids are fascinated by The Little House - like me, they pour over the simple illustrations, imagining the lives of the tiny figures, and tracing the orchards and roads with sticky fingers. Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel is another story that has captured all of our imaginations. I still want to kick mean Mr. Henry B. Swap in the shins on behalf of hard-working Mike. Pirates in the Park still gets me on the edge of my seat - who doesn't love a good pirate story starring a girl named Jenny?

Now that my oldest is seven, and starting second grade, we've finally begun to read the smaller chapter books that enthralled me as a young elementary school student. I devoured these little paperbacks, and searched the library for new series to read. The Littles still tickle my imagination, and we've just finished reading Misty, Stormy and Sea Star. We've made our way through the Happy Little Family series and have read several of the Little House on the Prairie series. I found myself as in love with Roald Dahl as I was in third grade as we read through The BFG and The Witches in one weekend. We've got my dog-eared copies of Beverly Cleary's Ramona books on the shelf.

Continue reading "Passing It On - My Favorite Books From Childhood" »

August 1, 2006

Hamusuta Madness!


Cute little fellas, huh?
See, they don't eat, poop or bite. I can totally get behind these kind of pets.

Hamusuta - The Happy Hamster
Indeed. The box tells us:

"Watch me scu rry across the floor inside my rolling exercise ball."


Realistic Running Actions!
Seriously, they weren't kidding when they put "The Carefree & Playful Pet" up there on the label.

They warn about the choking hazard - which is great. But they failed to mention the danger to get the hamusuta stuck in your hair.

When I saw a couple of these in some tourist trap store on San Francisco's Pier 39 yesterday, I had to pick a couple of them up for my kids. See, we've had sort of a bad track record with hamsters. So when the last of the royal line of Lauck hamsters died this spring, we just put the cage in the garage and ended a mercifully short chapter in rodent ownership. I've been over it for months. The kids never really let go, however, and will occasionally hound me for another small pet.

Continue reading "Hamusuta Madness!" »