Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Special Delivery

On Monday, I was delighted to get a little package from ALACE containing four copies of the newest issue of their journal Special Delivery. My birth story about Z's birth was published in this issue, titled Birthing With Intensity. I am so utterly thrilled about this! I am a writer! I've known this since I was a little girl and wrote "The Blue Book" when I was six, but haven't "claimed" it until this very year. I also got the most recent FoMM newsletter, of which I am editor. Of course, I noticed several typos right away and one article has some funky font things going on that were not my fault--I think it must have happened when the file was converted to a pdf. I think overall it is a nice issue though and I'm pleased with it. I hope I receive a lot of contributions for the summer issue as well!

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Talking to a Battered Woman, etc.

A few months ago, I made the decision to convert the three short books I wrote into pdfs and make them available on my website as free "ebooks" (I also still have professionally printed copies available, but I felt like having them available as pdfs would help me share with with many more people than just whoever manages to stumble across them at Amazon)! Anyway, Talking to a Battered Woman, Talking to Someone Whose Child is Dying, and A Quick Guide to Successful Volunteering are now all available on my own site. Actually, they are not strictly ebooks--rather they are printer-ready pdfs. They can't actually be read on screen, but have to be printed out (double sided) in order to have them be in a readable order (this is because of the way they are originally laid out in the publishing program). To request a pdf of any or all of the books, visit my website.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

The Birth House

On Thursday, I stayed up too late finishing The Birth House. While it kept me turning pages and was an interesting story, I was left feeling a little disappointed. It wasn't really what I expecting, I guess (most notably, there was not as much content about birth or midwifery). Also, I didn't necessarily click with the "literary scrapbook" style--it seemed a little "dramatic" and improbable at times or otherwise disjointed. The author's style reminded me of Catherine Cookson--lots of downtrodden women, rape, abuse, etc. The story was set during WWI, but I kept feeling like it was earlier--like 1850 and so my mental images of the women were "off" a little--i.e. some of the women got their hair bobbed and I was thinking, "hey, aren't they wearing bonnets on the prairie?" That wasn't the author's fault though! Some of the characters form a women's group called the "Occasional Knitters Society" and I really enjoyed the sections about that group--it was a strong core of women that pulled together to support each other.

Of course, I was reminded of our current efforts in MO to legalize midwifery, in the book's portrayal of the doctor arriving nearby and building a "safe, clean maternity home" with "pain free childbirth" and encouraging all of the women to stop receiving midwifery care ("not safe" or "hygienic"). Ugh! Sounds all too familiar! The main character, Dora, apprentices as a midwife with the elderly Bay midwife in her small community in Nova Scotia. However, as I referenced earlier, Dora only ends up attending like 5 births in the book (382 pages). The rest of it is about other elements of her life, her marriage, etc. While this isn't *bad*, it just wasn't what I was expecting from a book called The Birth House and the jacket copy that leads one to believe that it is a book about a birth house (save one, the only births that actually take place in the house happen in the epilogue or in foreshadowing, but no detail/story).

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

A Pocket Guide to Midwifery Care

I forgot to post that on Monday I finished reading A Pocket Guide to Midwifery Care. It was pretty basic, but had good safety info and stats and good basic information for consumers. I kind of skimmed through it, because it just wasn't anything "fresh," but that is probably because I read too much, not because there is anything actually wrong with the book.

Why We Buy: The Science of Shopping

This afternoon I finished reading Why We Buy. It was a bit of a detour from my usual fare--I actually bought it thinking it was going to be an "exposé" type book about commercialism and marketing (a little like Born to Buy) , maybe with simple living undertones even. It was from the JC book sale also. Anyway, it was actually more like a study of the culture of shopping, the mechanisms of shoppers, how stores can be more effective, mistakes companies make that are costing them lost shopper dollars, how to "seduce" shoppers to spend more, etc. So, in a few ways it was the polar opposite of the kind of books I like to read--this one was supportive of the work-to-buy, pro-consumption lifestyle that I steer away from. The early chapters also seemed excessively self-referential--i.e. I did this and I did that.... and I had this great idea, etc. I almost talked myself out of reading it several times, mostly because it wasn't really contributing to my self-development, inner peace, and so forth.

However, criticisms aside, it was just plain interesting! Not only does the author have a knack for hooking shoppers, he has knack for hooking readers as well! His writing style was engaging and kept me turning pages (fairly rapidly too!). When I went to Wal-Mart yesterday afternoon, I felt much more conscious of my "shopping" elements--his book gives new insights to consumers about why we buy the way we buy. Another insight I gained was about the local health food store. I always feel like getting out of it quickly and also am often surprised when I take the time to look around and see how much they have in such a small space--his book made me realize it is because of the cramped, narrow aisles. It makes me feel like escaping. Also, it gives me the perception of a lack of variety or something, when there really is an amazing amount.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Growing Seasons

Yesterday I finished a cute little book called Growing Seasons, by Annie Spiegalman. The subtitle is "half baked gardening tips, cheap advice on marriage, and questionable theories on motherhood." I thoroughly enjoyed it--it was funny and just really good. It is sort of a journal-to-my-son chronicle of the author's experiences during her first two years of motherhood, her job as a film director, her conflicted and volatile relationship with her mother, her changing relationship with her husband, and her experiences with becoming a Master Gardener. These glimpses of her life story are interspersed with her experiences in her garden and her plans for redoing her lawn and back yard.

This book was quite funny and I loved her descriptions of life with a toddler--so accurate and REAL. There is also a painful side to the book in her chronicle of the declining health of her mother. It was unexpected to me (because of how much I laughed through much of the book), to be left with a sense of melancholy and sadness at the end. This is not a criticism of the book. Indeed, it is part of what made her narrative so compelling--it was honest, real, and a true LIFE explored.

A quote I identified with (reflecting on the parenting of her parents):

"It's too bad you have to become a parent yourself to have the curtains open up in your fat, overly critical mind to preview a little movie called 'How my parents survived raising four children and why they did the things they did. Part One.' It's so easy to judge your parents harshly before you yourself have kids. After all my years of whining, analyzing, critiquing, and arrogantly advising my parents on how they should fix their own messy lives, now that I'm on the other side of the fence, I don't think they did such a bad job after all. In fact, the more I experience the 'challenges' of parenthood, the more heroic they look for even sticking around."

This is so true! I am constantly humbled my the experience of seeing some childhood experiences through a totally new lens--I am surprised by how clueless I was that my parents were actually *people* ;-)

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Your Three Year Old

This afternoon I finished reading Your Three Year Old. It is an older book (1976) that I recently got from Bookins after trying to "win" it on ebay several times (in a lot with the other Your X Year Old...books). The subtitle is "Friend of Enemy" which is somewhat apt. I have found three to be a difficult age with L (also has really good attributes as well--increased competence, funny conversations...*real* conversations, more creative play, playing interactively with other children, etc.) Anyway, though some of it was dated, a lot of it was relevant and helpful. Having Z has definitely made L seem so much older and I forget that he is NOT a "miniature adult" and I need to remember not to treat him like one and become exasperated when he doesn't respond the way I want him to! I will plan to read other books in this series as the time arises (I found Your One Year Old, Your Six Year Old, and Your 10-14 Year Old at the JC book sale, so that is cool :)

Compleat Mother

Got the Winter issue of The Compleat Mother on Wednesday afternoon and of course devoured it in one sitting (why don't I make things last? Now I won't have one for another three months!) It was good--I am so much more radical than I used to be. Earlier in my mothering career, I would have some of this issue's articles offputting. Now, I gobbled them down like I was starving. There was an interesting article about attachment grandmothering (her daughter was NOT parenting). Also, a long and interesting lament about circumcision (her sons were both circ'ed and she regrets it, is the short version). She made lots of good points, though it was the kind of article that I would not have "heard" several years ago and would have dismissed as extremist (though both my boys are intact, I just didn't use to see it as a major issue--I'm certainly more of an "intactivist" now than I used to be, but it still isn't my top advocacy priority or anything).

I also read two back issues (1998) of Midwifery Today--it is such an excellent publication and *nothing* seems outdated, even from "old" issues like that.

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Nurturing Spirituality in Children

Yesterday I finished reading Nurturing Spirituality in Children. I got it from It wasn't really a "to read" book--more of an open-up-and-find-an-idea book, so I ended up skimming it by the end. It had some really good ideas. Each "lesson" used normal, household objects to make a spiritual point (i.e. blown up and then deflated balloons for talking about the spirit in the body) and was followed by an affirmation to use in daily life. My critique is that most of the lessons seemed identical, just with a different illustration--though there were 50 lessons, there were only about 3 actual concepts (it seemed): "What's inside matters more than what is outside," "be kind to others--like attracts like," "we are more than physical beings." So, in that sense, it could have been a little booklet explaining each concept and then just a list of different ways to explore them!

Monday, April 2, 2007

Hirkani's Daughters

This morning during Z's nap, I finished reading Hirkani's Daughters: Women Who Scale Modern Mountains to Combine Breastfeeding & Working from my LLL Group's lending library. It was really, really good! In the mother-to-mother style LLL does so well, the book is mainly a compilation of women's stories about their experiences with managing breastfeeding while working (most often via pumping, but there were other creative managements as well!). I just love women's stories in general--their experiences of motherhood. I love reading and seeing all the commonalities and the differences as well. In a way, this book read like a really long issue of New Beginnings ;-)

The title of the book comes from a legend from India in which a milkmaid scales down a 1000 foot cliff in order to get back to her baby to nurse him (she is away delivering milk to the palace on top of the mountain and gets detained there). The modern women in this book also overcome many, many obstacles in their quests to continue to breastfeed their babies. This book is particularly special because it is international in scope--there are mother's stories from Pakistan, Mongolia, Tazmania, South Africa, Japan, Cambodia, etc. It was fascinating to read them all and see how many threads were *identical*, whether the mother was sharing her story from Ireland or from New York.