Archive for the ‘Blogging’ Category

Why do I care so much about the book The Happiest Mom?

May 8th, 2011

Happy Mothers’ Day! Except for asking (aka pestering, nagging, begging) everyone I know to buy the book The Happiest Mom (Parenting Magazine): 10 Secrets to Enjoying Motherhood ($8.22, 45 percent off at Amazon today). I’ve been mostly off the grid the past several months. Tweeting @bakingwithc, but not blogging (a story for another day). So why do I care so much about this book? I’ve edited dozens and dozens of books, but this one is different. The Happiest Mom published with Parenting magazine (the book includes a one-year subscription) struck a personal nerve with me. I’m going to cheat and share an answer I gave when Freelance Success, through which I met the author, Meagan Francis recently interviewed me for its newsletter.

Q: What makes this project so special for you—you say you really put your heart into it?

A: Heart and soul. I know from personal experience how powerful the support from other moms can be, especially when you have young kids (my son is 6). This book gave me the opportunity to counter some of the recent less-than-enthusiastic press motherhood has gotten and offer practical and emotional support to moms everywhere.

Meagan’s pitch was perfectly timed. I had just read I Was a Really Good Mom Before I Had Kids for book club. The book’s message is: motherhood is miserable, but we can get through it together. Worse, there was a growing trend of blogs and books with a similar message—and this was all before Tiger Mom!

Well, we book club moms disagreed. We like being moms. I felt the world needed a different message: being a mom is wonderful, but challenging. By sharing the good times and supporting each other in the not-so-good times, we moms can enjoy motherhood together.

Meagan’s message that you can say “happy” and “mom” in the same sentence resonated strongly with me, and I knew it would with a lot of other moms. The Happiest Mom offers realistic advice that can have an immediate impact on your happiness. This book also gave me a chance to inject some personal advice—how to say “no,” (politely) brush off busybodies, and make a don’t-do list. You know, all those things that nag at you because you “should” do them? Put some on a “never do” list and others on a “don’t do now, but might do later” list. You’ll feel instant relief. Also, look for the “two-minute” rule inspired by Dave Allen’s Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity. It will change your life.

my mother’s day: trauma! drama! and lack thereof, so do you care?

May 15th, 2010

cardsagainOutside of school assignments decades ago, I rarely wrote about my own life until I took a personal essay class from Adair Lara back in 2001. The biggest “aha!”—realizing that readers get bored if everything is going well. Conflict keeps their attention. You also have to show how your experience illustrates some universal truth without it being a cliché. It’s way harder to do than I imagined. I didn’t even attempt it again for years.

Now, I’m writing a blog, where the whole point is to share something personal that I hope will be of value and interest to other people. While I’ve been microblogging on Twitter (bakingwithc) lately, this is the longest I’ve gone without updating the blog. Part of it is I’m a perfectionist when it comes to writing. I just can’t dash out a blog and hit “publish.” To me, blogs are personal essays, so I hesitate to write unless I can deliver a fully-formed essay. (I’ve also been trading writing time for sleeping, but that’s a different day’s topic.)

Which is a very long way to get around to talking about Mothers’ Day, because mine was so nice.

Carter, who was supposedly going to let me sleep in, woke me up around 6 am, because he couldn’t wait to give me my cards. The only problem was he wanted to know where they were. I realize I’m his early-morning go-to guy, but this was one question I could not answer. Jeff got a rare wake-up call, followed by whispering.

The card that Carter made for me at daycare had his handprint on one side and flowers he drew on the other side. He also got me a baby pink Hallmark card pink decorated with chiffon ribbons and a gold seal. “Mommy, I know the bad guys took your jewelry and made you sad, so I got you this card that has jewelry on it to help you feel better.” Put that together with hand-drawn hearts and a signature with both his first and last name on the inside and who wouldn’t melt? (See it’s just not tension-filled essay material.)

Then miracle of miracles, Carter let me sleep some until Jeff brought me breakfast in bed: Mickey Mouse pancakes, grapefruit, cheesy scrambled eggs, and Whitman’s dark chocolate sampler. No complaints there.

And that’s not all! I went to yoga, and my shoulder didn’t hurt! (Thank you, thank you, Dr. George Thabit for ending my year and a half of pain with one shot.)

That’s still not all. I went to hear Anna Quindlen speak. I’m so in love, that’s whole other blog topic.

And to top it off, Carter insisted we go to Dave and Busters because that’s where we went last year. Not my scene, but after dinner, we stopped by Forever 21, a new store to me. Carter picked out an adorable, albeit short, blue polka-dot dress for me. I wore it with skinny jeans to work on Monday and got an unusual number of compliments. (This reminded me of Anna’s comment about how this is the first generation of mothers to dress so much like their daughters.)

So no drama, just a really nice day.

If stuck with me this far, despite the lack of conflict, thank you. I owe you a pithy wrap-up that ties my Mother’s Day to a universally understood experience. But I’m not coming up with it. So, instead, I’ll simply sign off by sending my best wishes to all mothers out there. I hope you, too, had a wonderful day.

remember me? catching up

January 3rd, 2010

treenew cousins

Hello, Blog, My Old Friend. It’s been too long. It’s not that I haven’t thought about writing, just like I think about baking and exercising. Doing, however, is a whole different thing than thinking about. Starting is the hardest part. And, I know, when I show up, the rest takes care of itself. (I’ve been trying to say and—not but—a brainstorming lesson learned at Stanford.)

Whether blogging, baking, or exercising, I resolve to show up more this year. And getting more organized is always on my list. Started out on the right foot (and left) today: yoga class at the Y this morning and Wii Fit (thank you, Santa!) this afternoon. If Wii Yoga classifies me as an “amateur,” what does it call people who haven’t taken a dozen years of yoga classes? At least, I bowled a 181 (Carter had a 183) and lowered my WiiFit age to 33, down from 56 (!) on Christmas. Hope I can keep it up better than all the other people with good intentions who will pack the Y this month.

karateDecember was busy. We went to Charlotte to meet my newest niece and nephew (now 6 months old); Carter and their 5-year-old brother, Conor, adore each other and had a blast. Carter earned his green belt in karate. He picked out a “Carter-size” tree (almost 4 feet tall) at Target and waited to trim it with my father- and sister-in-law, who came for Christmas. A lot of presents for Carter fit under that little tree. Jeff and I want to play with his new toys—Lincoln Logs,  Lego helicopter transporter, etc.

Continuing a bit of an unlucky streak, three UPS packages were stolen from our front porch, so having a Crayola Glow Station from Santa under the tree  required a Christmas Eve dash to Target. Also taken: a smoked turkey from Jeff’s dad, a rocket place mat that says “Daddy,” and another (still a surprise) present for Jeff. Also, unfortunately, Carter came down with pneumonia during a quick post-Christmas trip to visit my family in Illinois. He’s recovering well, and needless to say, it’s good to be home for a quiet weekend before it’s back to the normal weekday commute-work-daycare routine come Monday.

I look forward to 2010 being a better year, and I wish you and yours a happy, healthy new decade.

BlogHer directory debut

August 28th, 2009

I feel like an official blogger. As of today, Baking with Carter is listed on the BlogHer directory! It’s in both the Food and Drink and the Mommy and Family categories. BlogHer is the community site for women bloggers. While the requirements are not onerous (I’m female who has been regularly blogging for more than a month, so I pass), you still need to apply to have your blog added to the BlogHer directory. Then you wait a few weeks for an editor to review and approve it. Today the stamp of approval came through.

Being considered an actual blogger is exciting, but making a commitment to blogging is also unsettling. Why have I voluntarily added to my perpetual, long, and unending to-do list?  As if being a working mom weren’t keeping me busy enough. Time with Carter and my job almost never get short shrift; sleeping and eating (not to mention exercising and spending time with my husband) almost always do. 

I don’t know the answer. But maybe blogging will help me figure it out.

The big reveal

August 2nd, 2009

I’ve been writing posts for a couple of months now and have been telling people that I’m working on a blog. After I write this post, I’m going to start to tell people where to find this so-called blog by posting a link on Facebook, where the inspiration began.

As I say in my About section, the idea for a blog came from the realization that 95 percent of my Facebook posts were about baking with my son, Carter.

I usually spend my time editing other people’s writing, so it feels odd to share mine with anyone who comes here or stumbles upon it. Thanks for coming—please let me know what you think.

Tag, you’re it!

June 29th, 2009

My assignment: the perfect tagline for Baking with Carter.

While I started writing this blog more than a month ago, it’s still not live. I didn’t want it to be empty at launch, and I’ve been waiting for a pro bono design spot with Rare Brick, the marketing firm my very talented friends Dawn and Adam own, which specializes in creating websites for high-end hotels, bed and breakfasts, and the like.

I wasn’t getting anywhere coming up with a tagline until I talked to my sister Kathy. When she said, “Something like: ‘Everything tastes better with chocolate chip cookies.’” It took just a couple of tweaks to personalize it for my favorite little baker whose favorite color is red (!) and frequently and convincingly makes the case for adding sprinkles. Who can argue with that?