Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Day #2 of Blog Book Tour

This Woman's Work said: "The book has tips, inspiration and stories — the kind of book that you give to a new dad-to-be) to make him get a little verklempt and a lot more excited about the upcoming baby. Or give it to an old hand at fatherhood and watch him sniff a little bit, too. But really I think of this book as the absolutely perfect gift to bring to a baby shower where dads are WAY too often neglected. You can see, it has a reasonable price point so next time you’re heading to a new daddy’s house to welcome the recent arrival, make sure you have this in hand."

Cindy LaFerle wrote that: "This is a handbook after my own heart, emphasizing the ordinary moments and sweet epiphanies of daily parenthood.

"Margulis and di Properzio are married and have three kids of their own — which partly explains why their affection for children shines through every essay in the book. “Bonding with a baby or small child is about the small moments that you spend together, looking at each other, talking, taking walks. It’s not something that happens instantly,” they explain in the book’s preface. While the text is instructive, it’s also entertaining and accessible — and can be read between naps. Illustrating the text, Christopher Briscoe’s beautiful black-and-white photos of adorable babies and handsome dads will surely melt your heart. Few books are available on this topic, so this is a welcome addition to your parenting library, and an absolutely perfect gift for new dads and fathers-to-be, anytime."

ReadingWritingLiving called the book "humorous and appealing" and said, "I personally do not think that Motherhood should have ANYthing over Fatherhood, especially in these early months/years, and this book was a great validation of that idea."

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The blog book tour stops at the Joy of Sox and Full Soul Ahead

Check out the Q & A at THE JOY OF SOX about the Baby Bonding Book For Dads. The comments--from hardcore Red Sox fans--are really interesting! (Jennifer's a longtime Red Sox fan and used to think she was Jim Rice, and the Red Sox come up several times in the book, in case you were wondering.)

Thanks to Allan Wood for kicking things off on the blog book tour!

Our second stop on the tour was with another of our favorite bloggers, Michelle O'Neil at Full Soul Ahead has this to say about the book:
Most parenting books are fear based and lean toward "what not to do." This book is different. It encourages "baby wrestling," and singing a modified version of "Super Freak" during diaper changes, "She's a very stinky girl...."

While the book is written with great humor, it's also poignant. An example being the section where the author writes a few paragraphs to his unborn baby while his wife sleeps.

If you know any new or expecting daddies out there, this would be the perfect book for Father's Day. And for seasoned dads, it might be a beautiful stroll down memory lane.

Three cheers for good fathers!

May you never underestimate your value to your children.

* adorable photos in The Baby Bonding Book for Dads by Christopher Briscoe. Warning...they may make you want to reproduce.

I'm not having any more babies.
I'm not having any more babies.
I'm not having any more babies.
Say it with me......

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Writing Meets Motherhood book event

This morning (it's Sunday), Toni Klym McLellan, Meagan Francis, and I talked to a small audience in the very lovely store, Read Between the Lynes, in Woodstock, Illinois about the intersection of writing and motherhood. Meagan talked about her two books, The Everything Health Guide to Postpartum Care and Table for Eight: Raising a Larger Family in a Smaller Family World, Toni talked about newspaper writing and travel writing (she had a piece in FamilyFun Magazine about dogsledding with her kids), and I talked about the Baby Bonding Book for Dads -- why we wrote it, who it's for, how a book gets written in the first place (it's often the one you are looking for on the shelf but can't find), and why dads and moms might want to read it. The audience was all women, except for Toni's husband who came in with her three bright, boisterous, and kind boys towards the end, but lots of books were sold. Toni's friend took pictures and promised to send some, which I will post when they come in.

After our talk, the lovely owner of the store, Arlene Lynes, stood up to say that when she opened the store three years ago, she and her husband disagreed about whether it should be open on Sundays. Arlene insisted that the store be open on Sundays so that women with small children, who needed a break, could come in and browse, read, and relax in the store.

(The huge stuffed lion under the table at the front, and the store's friendly dog Jake, also make it a nice place for children of all ages, any day of the week. And the comfy chairs throughout the small store are just right for tired folks to relax in.)

Arlene also said that independent bookstores are on the rise, again. She believes that since the Enron scandal more people really are trying to stay local and buy local, and that that has been reflected in the growing popularity of indie bookstores.

Next time you think of ordering off Amazon, check your local bookstore first! Often they will give you an Amazon discount (or some kind of discount), if you ask. If you're hesitant, or just want to save the money, think of this: When is the last time Amazon hosted a local author reading?

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Read to Your Baby

A BBC article from April 10th called Dads Don't Read Bedtime Stories cites a new poll that found that only 42% of dads read to their kids before bed. In the Baby Bonding Book for Dads we tell dads it's never too early to start reading and we even suggest you read to your nearsighted 3-month-old! But reading to older kids is where the real fun begins. When our son was 3 he wanted us to substitute the name of all the main characters with his name. We no longer read Curious George, we read Curious Etani. The Runaway Bunny was The Runaway Etani ... you get the idea.

You get to re-read your childhood favorites when you read to your kids, and also discover some of the books you missed as a child (The Light Princess, anyone? A strange chapter book by a contemporary of Lewis Carroll's; Chronicles of Narnia; The Hobbit. Kid lit is so rich and amazing, how could you not read to your kids just to have an excuse to read it yourself?!).

Maybe it's an English thing? Hey American Dads, it's time to stop surfing the net and go read a book with your kid(s).

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Win a Free Book

BostonMamas calls the Baby Bonding Book for Dads:

"a sweet little gift book that – in a gentle, friendly dad voice - offers simple, straightforward ideas for how dad can bond with baby at home and on the go. Interspersed throughout the book are artful photos. Yes, there are a couple of buff, bare-chested daddy shots, but otherwise the photos are – like the text – representative of what many of us feel joy seeing at home; regular dads enjoying time with their babes."

They are giving away five free copies of the book!

You can win one by:
1) first visiting our blog (you're already here--hooray! Please leave us a comment to tell us you stopped by!)

2) then emailing (with ‘Baby Bonding’ in the subject), and naming another place – other than Amazon – where you can buy the book.
One entry per person, US only, and you need to email them by midnight EST TONIGHT

Monday, April 21, 2008

Join us This Sunday in Woodstock, Illinois

This one is a live event, not just in cyberspace.

Jennifer Margulis will be giving a reading with two other writers: Meagan Francis and Toni Klym McLellan, at Between the Lynes in Woodstock, Illinois (outside Chicago) THIS SUNDAY, APRIL 27th at 11:30 a.m.

129 Van Buren St.
Woodstock, IL

A write-up of the event is on their Website: click here to read about it.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Baby Bonding Blog Book Tour Starts April 28th

Stay tuned for the Baby Bonding Blog Book Tour, which starts April 28th. We'll be visiting Red Sox fans, snarky dads, nice dads, working dads, stay-at-home dads, some Mom-oriented blogs, and cyber readers as far away as South Africa. We've got more than 30 bloggers lined up to be "stops" on the tour.

See you soon in unexpected places in the blogosphere!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Keeping a Journal for Your Baby

You don't have to be a writer, or even like to write, to keep a journal for your child, even before he or she is born.

Christopher Briscoe, the photographer for our book, writes letters to his son every year. That's a nice way to do it.

Another wonderful way to chronicle your child's life is to keep a family journal -- a collective journal that you, your partner, your friends, and your family contribute to. When your child gets old enough, he can write in it too. In the meantime, you can put in scrapbooky things like:

first footprints and handprints (this is fun to do with a stamp pad and a cooperative newborn!)
birth announcements
photos of the baby
updates on world events
hair from a first haircut (put it in an envelope and tape the envelope in the journal)

We keep our family journal in the bathroom. The rule is whoever spends a lot of time on the john has to write in it! This almost never works but the idea is a good one.

To read an entire article by Jennifer Margulis, from the Medford Mail Tribune, on family journaling, click here.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Don't fall for this scam!

While James was on a field trip to the art museum with Athena's class, he received a call on his cell phone from the credit card company. His card had been defrauded and someone was trying to make $1,000 purchases all over the country. They cancelled the card and issued him a new one. What's worrisome is that he only used the card once, to make an on-line purchase at a secure site.

Yesterday morning we received another call: our other card from the same credit card company had also been defrauded and the thief (or hacker?) had tried to make a $500 purchase that morning that was picked up by security screenings and blocked. Twice in one week, and this has never happened to either of us in all the years we've both been using credit cards.

Identity theft aside, here's a much more serious scam that lady readers of our book should make sure they don't fall for! Thanks to Tertia Albertyn at So Close for sending it our way. What would we do without Tertia to watch out for us?

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Food and Sex

Since sex is the way we make babies, we figure articles, news, advice (tee hee), and anything else about sex is relevant to the Baby Bonding Book for Dads, right?

Among our favorite sex videos, check out this Dad Labs rerun from season two.

And then there's The Midwest Teen Sex Show...

Wondering why you were so randy after eating that strawberry shortcake the other night? Read Jennifer's column about food and sex in this week's Tidings, "Can Food Really Put You in the Mood?". Here's an excerpt:
Annie told me that she fell for her boyfriend over a plate of fish. "He seduced me with catfish," she laughed, ""...this great meal of delectable juicy catfish with Thai pepper."

Though they broke up eventually, Annie still makes that recipe.

At 38, Annie's recently realized how food enhances her sex drive. "As I get older I've definitely had times of not being in the mood, where I've just gone, 'What's wrong with me?! I haven't even thought about sex!' Then I started eating healthier, and it got me more in the mood."

Annie "went on a health kick," eating mostly organic fruits and vegetables, cutting all the refined sugar from her diet. She also stopped drinking caffeine and alcohol. Two months later she perceived a big change. "It all hit at once. Not only did I feel sexier but I noticed men looking at me more too."

Friday, April 11, 2008

Detecting Bull and DNA: An Article About Jennifer's Mother

A long article came out in the Daily Collegian yesterday about co-author Jennifer Margulis's mother, Lynn Margulis, a famous microbiologist who won a presidential medial of honor under Bill Clinton and who numbers Al Gore among her admirers and Carl Sagan among her ex-husbands.

Here's an excerpt:
Her list of accomplishments alone, however, is not what makes her one of the most prominent microbiologists in the world. It's her straightforward attitude and unrelenting spirit - the same qualities that propelled her down the winding and sometimes controversial road to where she is today.

Read the full article here.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

The castle of my 4-year-old, the pictures

Here it is, made of matching boxes from a washer and a dryer, covered with $2 worth of craft paper, painted on by the resident, with a sliding roof over the 'courtyard' in the corner. There is one external door on the leftmost face; from that box another door leads to the courtyard, and the other box can only be entered from an internal door through the courtyard. Low on the very left edge you can just make out the padlock he put on the door.  Right above that is the mailbox, which opens with a drawbridge--pull the rope in front and it opens, pull the rope in back and it draws closed.  Tools required: tape, box cutter, string. Total cost: 2 bucks.

The Maternal is Political-review in Publisher's Weekly

from -- Publishers Weekly, 4/7/2008

The Maternal Is Political: Women Writers at the Intersection of Motherhood and Social Change Edited by Shari MacDonald Strong, foreword by Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner. Seal, $15.95 paper (280p) ISBN 978-1-58005-243-6

In a raw and emotional literary anthology, 30 women express their frustrations about motherhood, their disappointment with unsupportive work environments and their deep desire for social change. In her debut effort as an anthology editor, Strong brings together voices of veteran and first-time writers in a cacophony of cries that mothering isn't just personal, it's political. The stories include Annie Downey, a struggling mother on welfare ; Jennifer Margulis and her husband who, unable to reconcile full-time work and parenting, quit office work and begin a home business; and Helaine Olen's horror stories of “mean moms” in playgroups who look down on stay-at-home mothers. Anne Lamott writes of the difficulty of espousing a pro-choice position before a largely Catholic audience. This book has a liberal bent, and happy, content mothers don't get much airtime. Young women considering motherhood may be taken aback by the rage and unchecked anger in some of the essays and the lack of solutions presented. But if shock spurs action, this anthology has done its job. (June)

Monday, April 7, 2008

Best Carrot Cake Ever--Healthy & Sweetened with Agave

Have you ever heard of agave?

No, not the hip new Mexican restaurant that opened down the street.

Agave is a plant that grows in Mexico and out of which tequila is made. But agave nectar, which comes from the sap of the plant, is a natural sweetener that tastes a lot like honey but is healthier for you.

Since your body digests it slowly, it doesn't cause low blood sugar, it's low on the glycemic index (though this varies by processing method, etc.), and is becoming increasingly popular among diabetics. It's also great for baking.

To read much more on agave, read Sweet Savvy's post here.

So what does this have to do with babies?

Babies don't need refined sugar of any kind. Ever. Neither do kids (of any age, though it gets harder to have your say as they get older and obsessed with candy, gum, lollipops, chocolate ... you get the idea.) Interestingly, breast milk is very sweet, and many parents choose to feed babies mashed yam or banana -- both which contain lots of natural sweetness -- as a first food. The natural sugars found in fruits and vegetables is perfectly healthy for babies. White sugar, though, is not.

What do you do when the tiny creature born yesterday is turning one (already!) and you want to have a party (for you, not the kid) and bake a cake? Make this healthy agave-sweetened carrot cake recipe, adapted from one by Andrew Weil, and both the babies and grown-ups will be delighted.
2 cups firmly packed finely grated carrots (do this with the S-shaped blade in the cuisinart and it's ready in seconds)
Juice of 1 large orange
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 cup olive oil
1 cup agave nectar (found in the bulk section of most natural food stores, near the maple syrup)
1 Tablespoon Brewer's Yeast + 2 Tablespoons of bran + enough unbleached white flour to make one cup
1 1/2 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt (optional)
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger

1. Preheat oven to 350°F.

2. Combine the carrots, orange juice, vanilla, olive oil, and agave.

3. In another bowl or big measuring cup, stir together all the dry ingredients.

4. Add the dry ingredients to the carrot mixture, stirring until just mixed. Do not overstir.

5. Pour the batter into a greased 8-inch-square baking pan and bake at 350 for 45+ minutes until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Natural Birth and Baby Care Reviews BBBD

While moving across the country, being 10 weeks pregnant, working (from home), and caring for three kids, Kristen Burgess of Natural Birth and Baby Care, managed to find time to review our book.

Here's an excerpt:
I'll admit I was charmed by The Baby Bonding Book for Dads the minute I picked it up - the high quality construction and gorgeous illustrations had me right away. But I was completely impressed by the time I got through it. A book that gets right to the point and is full of up-to-date information that real dads can use. I promise you, the Daddy, and your baby will be glad you picked this book up!

You can the entire review here.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Sibling Rivalry

Co-author Jennifer Margulis's most recent column in the Ashland Daily Tidings is about how much her children hate each other.

“I Hate Him!”

By Jennifer Margulis
Tidings Correspondent

Yesterday my 7-year-old dissolved in a fit of tears and anger. “I hate him! I hate having a brother! I wish he were never born! Why can’t you send him to boarding school?”

“Or chop his head off or something?” Her 8-year-old sister suggested.

You can read the rest of the column here.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Skip the Sunscreen on Your Baby?

The Environmental Working Group issued a press release on March 25th that the CDC has a new study showing that 97% of Americans have a toxic chemical from sunscreen, oxybenzone, in their blood streams.

Not good news for babies, as the chemical has been linked to cell damage, hormone disruption, and allergies.

Worst still, another just-released medical study shows that mothers who are exposed to it during pregnancy have lower birth weight baby ... girls. (An important aside: female endocrinology is much more complicated than male endocrinology and females, born with the total number of eggs they will have throughout their lifetime, are vulnerable to estrogen and other hormone mimickers, the harmful effects of which may not show up for years. Remember DES? Science writer Barbara Seaman fears we may see effects of fertility drugs like clomid on young girls whose mothers took it to get pregnant when they themselves reach childbearing age). Without reading the Mt. Sinai School of Medicine study in its entirety, it's impossible to evaluate its accuracy but it gives one pause, doesn't it?

What should you do?

1) Protect babies from harmful sun rays by using sun blocking clothing and staying in the shade.

2) Buy only natural sunscreen (preferably organic. Anything that you put on your baby's body is getting into his system. That means, really, he shouldn't have anything on his skin that would not be safe to put in his mouth) and check the ingredients. If it has oxybenzone in it--also called benzonphenone--don't buy it.

3) Know that many other products, including anti-aging creams, moisturizers, and lip balms, also contain this harmful ingredient. Read labels before buying any of these products, and think twice before putting them on your child. Organic olive oil or organic avocado oil is a perfect baby moisturizer.

You can read the original press release on the Environmental Working Group's Web site.

Here's a list of the 582 sunscreens containing the harmful chemical.

Here's a PDF of the 28-page scientific study about oxybenzone.