Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The amazing Mojo Circle and an upcoming Triangle event

Networking is such an important activity for Moms. When you meet cool people, it's important to "capture" them into your network, whether that means developing friendships, connecting people into social networks like LinkedIn or Facebook or getting to know people through traditional business-oriented groups like the Chamber of Commerce.

Whenever you meet new people, project your whole self--including your Mom identity--making sure that you include your professional accomplishments, hopes and aspirations as well. You never know when the person you meet on the playground or at a classroom meeting could become your next client, boss, or business partner.

A couple of years go I was meeting so many amazing women through my work as Mojo Mom that I decided I needed find a way to bring them together. It was as though I was finding dazzling gems on my path and I needed a mechanism to connect them into a necklace. The Mojo Advisory Circle was born, a group of ten women meeting monthly to advise each other on life and business, and it's been a fantastic success. The cross-pollination among the members is amazing. Each of us are solo entrepreneurs or in business partnerships. When we started, most of the women did not already know each other, and I did not know all of them well--just well enough to know that I wanted to get to know them better.

There is an event coming up in Durham NC on September 17th that has strong Mojo Advisory Circle connections: the Carolina Parent Women @ Work event featuring a morning keynote talk by Opting Out? author Pamela Stone. I love her research and I can't wait to meet her in person.

After the breakfast event, your can sign up for the optional Career On-Ramping Workshop offered by Balancing Professionals principals Kella Hatcher and Maryanne Perrin. This half day workshop, running from 11 am to 2:30, including lunch, is for anyone who wants to sharpen up their rusty work skills to get back out there on the job market. Kella and Maryanne are true pioneers in this field and I highly recommend their workshop. This is a great opportunity to tap into their expertise, and you'll notice that the day wraps up in time for school pickup.

I am not presenting in any official capacity but I will be attending the event, so I hope to see you there. If you are reading this blog, you are in the extended Mojo Circle, so I hope you'll come up and say hi if you see me.

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Monday, August 25, 2008

American Prayer video

Choreographer Twyla Tharp said, "Art is the only way to run away without leaving home," which is such a great insight for mothers.

Earlier this year I considered traveling to Denver for the Democratic convention, but ultimately decided that this week was too busy and I really needed to be at home with my family.

Today a friend sent me musician Dave Stewart's (of Eurythmics) new video supporting Barack Obama, American Prayer, and Stewart's artistic collaboration gave me a taste of the goosebumps I might have experienced had I made it to Denver.


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Today my life snaps back into place

I feel re-energized today. I made it to 40. No more 39.997 and holding--I have made it to the big milestone. My thirties were fantastic but I truly do feel ready for something new. It's interesting that this coincides with the first day of school, as my daughter starts fourth grade. She's a different person, too, all of a sudden. She has a new classroom & teachers, and new responsibilities. I drew a line in the sand that set the expectation that she would make own her lunch starting this year. We practiced in third grade, but she had not really taken ownership of the task.

So this morning, she set her alarm, got up on her own, and got dressed. We ate breakfast together and then she did make her own lunch and got ready to go on time. It was so civilized.

This was an incredibly simple family moment, but I mention it because this is a new phase of parenting, as I am sure that anyone with toddlers would agree!

My forties begin with my daughter's growing capability at age nine, and will conclude with her independence as she turns 19. We are at the start of a whole new season.

I am so grateful for school starting as I push to finish revising Mojo Mom. When I negotiated my deal with Gotham I said that I absolutely needed two to three weeks to work after school started, and that was the smartest request I've made so far.

During the summer our whole family felt completely untethered. That may sound freeing, but it was actually disconcerting to try to work without the support of our normal routines. Even with a fair amount of day camp (which we were privileged to have), it just wasn't the same. Today we snapped back into a satisfying framework that the school day creates for each member of our family, right down to our dog's walk schedule.

The feeling of new beginnings is in the air, and I even had a school anxiety dream last night. I dreamed that I was back teaching at my old school, and I walked in to the classroom to teach Chemistry without preparing. I opened my notebook and expected to jump right in, but found that I couldn't! Then I realized I had been away for nine years, so of course it didn't come back to me all at once.

I'll take the energy from that cautionary tale and put it back into something I do know how to do--finish my book!

For all of you Mojo Moms waiting for school to start, whether it's next week or next year, it is coming, and it's a good thing.

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Friday, August 22, 2008

Mojo Mom Podcast: Positive Discipline

I can't be the only Mom burned out at the end of the summer, can I? I've had a looming manuscript deadline and very little child care for the past three weeks. It feels like a 24-day weekend, and as great as weekends are, that's a little long!

We are back to school on Monday and I am back to work, hooray!

I did manage to get a Mojo Mom Podcast episode recorded this week.

Listen to the podcast now:

We're reaching the end of summer and co-host Sheryl Grant is already back to school, so Amy's friend Aparna Desai Brown is filling in. Aparna shares her family's story of recently relocating from Silicon Valley in favor of a saner and more sustainable lifestyle in Pittsburgh.

Then Mojo Mom switches gears to talk about Positive Discipline with Amy McCready, founder of Positive Parenting Solutions in Raleigh, North Carolina. We have more democratic families these days, but how can parents maintain their leadership role? Positive Discipline operates on a foundation of respect and responsibility for all family members to help parents bring up capable, competent kids.

I highly recommend the Positive Discipline training that Amy McCready's firm offers. They teach throughout the Raleigh area, and will start offering online classes soon. Amy helps fill a niche of training offered to address normal, everyday parenting challenges--as opposed to remedial parenting or family therapy. Her course has been very helpful to me personally and resonates with much of what I say in Mojo Mom, especially when it comes to sharing power between both parents.

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Monday, August 18, 2008

Last chance to get Mojo Mom until Spring 2009

We are reaching important publication milestones for the new and revised edition of Mojo Mom, and the original edition is going to go out of print very soon. This means that it will no longer be available from retail outlets including bookstores and My new work will be published by Gotham Books in Spring 2009.

So if you were thinking about getting the first edition for yourself or as new Mom gifts, please order books now. As much as I love bookstores, at this point we are so close to taking all copies out of print that Amazon is probably the best bet since Mojo Mom is currently in stock there.

The new book is going to be great--I am so excited to have the chance to update my work. But the first edition will always have a special place in my heart. I love the original cover, because I think it's an inviting image that captures the essence of mojo.

Coming up with images for Mojo Mom has been a challenge. In fact, I wrote about the process I went through when designing my website, even before the book was finished, in my very first blog post, "What Does a Mojo Mom Look Like?" way back in 2003. When it came time to publish the book, I got pretty far into cover concepts with one designer, but those drafts were not coming close to hitting the mark, so I switched gears to work with Dunn + Associates Design.

Collaborating with Kathi Dunn, I felt like she was able to conjure up an image that was in my mind that I did not even know existed. It's hard to describe, but it was truly one of those rare experiences that felt like a synchronistic mind meld! For example, Kathi used an unusual font for the words "Mojo Mom" that very closely matched the words "Honor Your Dreams" etched inside a ring I had chosen for myself as a commitment to finish the book. That connection gave me a chill given that we had never met in person, and all of our design meetings took place over email and the telephone.

So as I think about the close of the first edition of Mojo Mom, it's been fun to look back at the steps I've taken to get here. And I am up to my eyeballs in ideas for the new book. The hardest part will be choosing a stopping point where I feel good about the book being done, because I always have more to say. Fortunately, I still have my website, blog and podcast to ensure that our conversation continues!

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Friday, August 15, 2008

Mojo Mom Podcast: Equally Shared Parenting

There is some positive mojo flowing today, and not a moment too soon--just in time for our last weekend of summer "vacation."

Did you hear that Utah is experimenting with switching state employees to four-day, ten-hour per day workweek in order to save money?

Many workers seem to like the change that makes every weekend a three-day weekend. My first reaction was, hmmmmm, how interesting that parents (and others) who want a 4-day schedule are often denied because employers think it would be too much of a hassle to allow people to change schedules, and yet the state of Utah has switched over 17,000 people.

Makes me think that we should keep making a business case for alternative work arrangements. Don't make it a personal favor; show your boss how it can save the company money. And it would be wonderful if bosses would meet us halfway with workplace flexibility by taking a "Let's see if we can make it work" approach rather than "Absolutely not."

Here is one of my brainstorms: telecommuting saves costs of gas, utilities, and rented space if it's done systematically. It could even help businesses stay open during a major flu outbreak or natural disaster. Why not get some experience with flexibility before a crisis hits?

So I was thinking about this and then I went to the Equally Shared Parenting website and saw that Marc Vachon had blogged on a similar program in Alabama as an opportunity for equally shared parenting (ESP).

Marc and Amy Vachon are my guests on today's new episode of The Mojo Mom Podcast, so it really felt like synchronicity.

My co-host Sheryl and I were really under the gun this week, so I honestly didn't feel like this was our best first-half segment ever, but Amy and Marc's interview was a winner, so I hope you'll listen in:

Mojo Mom and Equally Shared Parenting

Listen to the podcast now:

Amy and Sheryl debrief their summers and look ahead to a hectic school year that starts very soon.

Then Amy talks to founders Amy and Marc Vachon. Mojo Mom had some questions about how shared parenting works in practice. Who better to answer than the Vachons, who practice ESP and write about it. Their family was even featured in Lisa Belkin's June 2008 New York Times piece, "When Mom and Dad Share It All."

Amy Vachon is a regular reader of the Mojo Mom blog, and I love that when I expressed some doubts about ESP in my recent podcast with Julie Shields, Amy jumped right in with a comment that led to this week's interview.

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Thursday, August 14, 2008

Infidelity isn't just about sex, it's about power

I've felt conflicted about writing about the John Edwards scandal. I supported the Edwarss '08 campaign, I have met them both, and I like Elizabeth a lot. I finally got my initial thoughts off my chest earlier this week. I don't want to get bogged down in the details of their situation, but reading the reaction to the news, I feel compelled to write once again.

One reaction to the news has been that the American people are too uptight about sex and we shouldn't be such Puritanical morality police. It seems to me that only men can afford to think that way. To me it's not just about sex but about power. The women I've talked to have all said "How could he do this to his wife, to risk what they have built together?" I am glad to see more female commentators such as Ruth Marcus at The Washington Post contributing their analyses, because it really does look different from our point of view.

Maybe not all women would agree with me on that, but this week I am revising the Mojo Mom chapter on financial and career planning. I have to get across the tricky message that each mother has to create her own safety net that will support her in the case of life's unexpected crises including unemployment, divorce, illness or death.

Not an easy topic to communicate! And in the context of the book I don't want to deliver it as a hammer blow, but rather a realistic, proactive heads-up that we each have to be ready to support ourselves and our families if necessary.

Marriage is an imperfect institution and yes, many marriages end. I have seen it up close and personal from the kid's point of view, as my parents and many of their cohorts divorced. But marriage is still the foundation that many of us have chosen to count on. When couples split up, men tend to do much better financially than women, who may end up with little support, no financial credit for the caregiving they've done for years, and primary responsiblity for the kids. The research documenting this effect is controversial, but even a corrective study said that women have an average 27 percent decline in their standard of living and that men have an average 10 percent increase in their standard of living after divorce. In my own experience, I saw that divorce was highly expensive and disruptive for both men and women, but often the wives were displaced homemakers who had to scramble to find a new job, while the husbands continued on established career paths. The wives has supported their husband's career paths in so many ways that yielded no reward once the marriage ended.

So if a wife cheats, she knows she may be pulling the rug out from under her own life--and obviously creating devastation for her husband and children--I don't mean to condone it in any way. But there is a power differential in many couples: when a husband cheats, he's throwing away her financial security for her. The Edwards affair illuminates this situation into high relief, as Elizabeth so obviously invested in and sacrificed for his ambitions for the benefit of the whole family. Yet he can throw it all away on a whim. This public explosion of a marriage we were invited to admire is a wake-up call for all married women: if it can happen to them, it could happen to me. It cuts through our blissful denial to remind us that we are potential members of a very angry First Wives Club.

Where does this land us? Back at page one of Feminism 101? Into a maze of policy reform to make sure that safety nets work in a way that makes sense in a modern world? Mothers & More reports that The minutes of the Social Security Council meetings held in the late 1930's reveal that Social Security was designed to discourage women from employment, to encourage men to work by linking benefits to income and years worked, and to send a message to women to stay married since their economic security was tied to being a dependent of a wage-earning husband.

I am still trying to process my feelings and thoughts and channel them productively, but honestly, for now I am just pissed.

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Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Getting new faces into politics

Today I came across two American Prospect articles that are timely companions to yesterday's blog post in which I yearned for new people to enter politics.

In the newest piece, Courtney Martin asks Are We Neglecting the Next Activist Generation? She reminds Democrats that the Obama campaign should not have a monopoly on youth mobilization. These efforts need to continue beyond 2008 and will require sustained effort and funding.

Then looking back to June, Ezra Klein wrote Beyond Hillary: By Invitation Only reporting on studies that investigated the roots of the gender gap in politics.

When women do run in primaries, are they more likely to lose? No, actually. There are few women running in the first place. And researchers Jennifer Lawless and Richard Fox found something very interesting in their Citizen Political Ambition Study: women were far less likely than men to evince interest in running for office. Women were much more likely than men to cite family obligations, negative feelings toward the process of campaigning, and a belief that they weren't qualified. But the most powerful finding was that the women surveyed were one-third less likely to be recruited to run for office.

Klein's piece concludes:

Yet when women do receive this encouragement, they are just as likely to respond positively as men. "Potential candidates who receive the suggestion to run for office are more than four times as likely as those who receive no such support to think seriously about a candidacy," writes Lawless.

When it comes to convincing women to run for office, it turns out that among the most powerful things we can do is simply ... ask.

Now I am feeling motivated to read Lawless and Fox's book It Takes A Candidate: Why Women Don't Run for Office--after I get my new Mojo Mom book manuscript draft turned in. As much as I love to read, my writing milestones are looming large right now.

Start thinking about smart Moms you know who would be good leaders, and ask them to consider stepping up to the plate!

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Monday, August 11, 2008

Why the John Edwards scandal matters

Now that John Edwards has confessed his affair, the blogosphere has stopped talking about why the mainstream media wasn't covering the allegations, and started talking about whether and how it matters.

It matters to me, and here's why.

On a personal level, I feel betrayed as a campaign contributor. Edwards' 2008 campaign was the first I had ever been significantly involved in. I admired his ideas and respected his willingness to bring Progressive ideas to the mainstream Democratic table. Living in Chapel Hill, I had a chance to meet him on several occasions and I thought his charisma would help promote his important causes, ending poverty and establishing health care. Now I know that the money I donated and raised from others may have gone to support his mistress in a well-compensated, fairly bogus job, paying her over $100,000 to make four short campaign "webisodes." Score one for political cynicism.

Knowing that Edwards went forward with his Presidential bid after the affair had not only begun, but had been revealed to his wife, creating a situation that could have cost the Democrats the election had he been the nominee--score a million for political cynicism and anger.

A lot of bloggers say this scandal shouldn't be about sex, but as a woman I feel compelled to point out that the situation does raise every wife's worst nightmare, that her husband would cheat on her and she wouldn't even know it. I mean, this guy was publicly cultivating the image of the perfect husband, and using it to sell his political candidacy, at the same time that he was cheating.

Score one for life cynicism.

Hypocrisy obviously plays a big role in our judgments of Edwards. Edwards himself gave speeches invoking morality: "I want to see our party lead on the great moral issues - yes, me a Democrat using that word - the great moral issues that face our country," Edwards tells the crowd. "If we want to live in a moral, honest just America and if we want to live in a moral and just world, we can't wait for somebody else to do it. We have to do it."

Edwards said of President Clinton during the Lewinsky scandal, "I think this president has shown a remarkable disrespect for his office, for the moral dimensions of leadership, for his friends, for his wife, for his precious daughter. It is breathtaking to me the level to which that disrespect has risen."

If politicians are going to build their politcal platforms on moral issues, then their own internal consistency to those principles is fair to examine.

I find it ironic that I am pondering this story just as I wrote about how turning 40 makes me realize that life's rules do apply to me. John Edwards surely knows on a deep level that this is true of him as well, yet he has escaped into a zone where he has acquired such hubris and arrogance that he thought he could get away with his deception. This seems to be embedded in the very essence of politics, which is what I find truly disturbing. I perceived Edwards' Nightline interview as totally disingenuous, but I did believe him when he said:

Then I went from being a senator, a young senator to being considered for vice president, running for president, being a vice presidential candidate and becoming a national public figure. All of which fed a self-focus, an egotism, a narcissism that leads you to believe that you can do whatever you want. You're invincible. And there will be no consequences. And nothing, nothing could be further from the truth.

You do have to be pretty arrogant to run for President. Who could really know that they were qualified for such a job? But what will we get from leaders who believe that they can do whatever they want with no consequences--pretty much what we've had for the last 7 and a half years with George Bush. I had hoped that Edwards was a chance to turn the page beyond that kind of illegitimate leadership, but now it is clear that he is not immune to the narcissism and entitlement that comes with political power.

Many powerful men share elements of this core flaw, whether they are Bush administration officials promoting torture or forging intelligence to justify the Iraq war, social conservatives denouncing homosexuality and voting against civil rights for gay people while leading closeted lives themselves, Eliot Spitzer prosecuting prostitution while being a client, or Republican politicians promoting policies that will curtail reproductive rights for American women while knowing that if their daughter, girlfriend, or wife needed an abortion, they could always arrange to get one (see Vice President Dan Quayle and others).

What goes on in another couple's personal life may not seem like our business. But the fact that we are governed by leaders who think that the rules don't apply to them is something that should concern all of us. The consequences of that kind of thought can affect our lives, all the way from most personal decisions we make, to the United States' role on the world stage.

One solution is to get more women and more regular people into leadership positions. I know that is a hug challenge as long as it takes millions of dollars to run for political office. But organizations such as Emily's List and our own amazing Lillian's List here in North Carolina have made a real difference. We have to keep going. National office might be out of the question right now for some Moms, but what about state or local leadership? We need excellent school board members, town council leaders, mayors, and state legislators. And those positions create experience that can leader to higher office later.

For some women, I suspect that the question about entering public life is not so much "Can I do the job?" but rather "Can I stomach the political process?"--the insanity of it all: the money, the media, and the pressures and temptations of power that affect not only men but women as well.

I have House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's new book Know Your Power in hand. I have not read it yet, but I did hear her interviewed on NPR when she talked about how Congress seemed like the ultimate Old Boys' club--Congressmen around the table even had a conversation about childbirth without inviting input from the women who were present! Ultimately though, Pelosi ultimately learned that there is no "secret sauce"--despite the aura and mystique the men tried to create, there is no secret recipe for success.

I wrote in my book Mojo Mom that the world needs your leadership. That was true when the book was new and I believe that is more true than ever now. So I ask each of you to look at what we can do to cook up your own recipe for public engagement.

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Sunday, August 10, 2008

On Turning 40: The View from the Top of the Hill

I am not normally one to obsess over birthdays, but I'm turning 40 later this month and I've given a lot of thought about what that means. My first reaction is that it seems unreal to reach that milestone. I am no longer the ingenue, the cute young one anymore. On the one hand, thanks goodness, let's move beyond that! However, there are some harsh realities that become more apparent when you reach this age.

But before I get to that, first I want to share some positive observations about where I am on the journey into motherhood. My daughter is almost 9, which means that we are halfway to 18. So as I reach "the top of the hill" as a person, I am halfway through the childhood years as well. The view is nice from here. I can still vividly remember the baby days, and empathize with the challenges of adapting to motherhood. I attended a lovely baby shower today and had a great time hanging out with new Moms, Moms-to-be, and their friends. I can still channel those early days, which is a good thing as I revise Mojo Mom.

At the same time, I can look ahead and just about see 18. That may sound crazy, but I can wrap my mind around 9 years of motherhood and project another 9 years into the future. My daughter is growing up quickly, but she's still a kid, and I am really enjoying that. Big changes are just around the corner, so I appreciate where we are at the moment. I have taught fifth grade Sunday school, mentored a sixth grade girl through her ninth grade year, and I taught high school and college, so now I have worked with just about every age from birth to adulthood. I know that I can't predict exactly what is ahead for us but I've seen the landscape. Life experience is a good thing.

So what sucks about turning 40? Well, the blissful denial that envelops and shields most teenagers and twentysomethings has pretty much fallen away. You might call that wisdom, but it's sure not a lot of fun at times. By the time we reach 40, we've all lost someone dear to us, we've seen relationships fall apart, and our parents may be reaching some challenging years. I've faced one family crisis or another pretty much continuously for the past two or three years. I've crossed over the threshold of the "before" and "after" time, when you realize that the rules really do apply to your life: we won't miraculously and exceptionally escape aging, illness, loss and death after all.

Not so much fun, eh? I can see why magazine headlines are all about escaping this--how to stay young, fit, beautiful, sexy and rich forever. While I am on this line of thought though I'll share another hard truth: Even if you do everything right, if you are the best girlfriend/wife/mother/friend/employee ever, you can still get screwed over. Just look at what Elizabeth Edwards is facing. I'll collect more thoughts on that for a separate post, but she is pretty much the model of an exemplary wife, and yet that didn't inoculate her life or relationship against heartache.

If I unpack that thought a little more--many of our "good girl" thoughts are deeply ingrained and require unpacking--it's obvious that shit happens and we can't prevent all of it. To believe otherwise would be to endorse a shadow flip side that implied that when husbands strayed it must be because the wife had done something wrong or contributed to it somehow, and I certainly don't want to say that. But girls are socialized to believe that if they are just good enough, they'll be rewarded, and that strategy make work really well for many years. But by age 40 you've seen enough to know that there are no guarantees, and that each of us needs to be prepared to take our future into our own hands.

I brought some of that practical perspective into the first edition of Mojo Mom and I will continue to do so, with more personal perspective on what is at stake. I think I understand a little better where Leslie Bennetts was coming from in her book The Feminine Mistake, but I also believe that these important strategies need to be delivered in an empathetic form that all women can take in. There is no need to panic, just some really important groundwork that needs to be laid by each woman to build her own safety net. This will protect not only herself, but also her children and potentially her spouse, in the case of a Mom who finds that she unexpectedly needs to become a breadwinner or care for a family member.

So, after all that, Happy Birthday? Maybe that's not the right question any more. I've already had enough birthday sizzle to satisfy me, courtesy of my wonderful cousins who knew that I needed to mark this year. Beyond that, I feel content that I am in the right place, in relationships with the right people, doing what I need to be doing to be happy on the home front and in my writing career. That in itself is a fabulous reward.

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How Northwest Airlines nickled and dimed me

I know the airlines are hurting these days, but their efforts to squeeze a few more dollars out of their customers are getting ridiculous. Yesterday I made a return trip home on Northwest Airlines and ran into something new. On the commuter flight to Detroit, our party of three was seated together. Then on the larger flight from the Detroit hub to Raleigh, our family was assigned seats 10E, 11E, and 12E--three middle seats stacked up in front of each other.

We were checking in at our departure airport, about 22 hours before our flight, so we thought no problem, the kiosk will let us choose new seats (we were #16 to check in for this flight on an airplane that held over 100 people). The kiosk did offer us new seats, 11D and 11F, for a charge of $15 each. This option was labeled as a "Coach Choice Seat Fee" on my receipt. These were not special seats with extra leg room -- the plane was a standard 3x3 airbus with pretty equal seats throughout. But apparently it's now a premium "choice" to sit in an aisle or window seat next to your child.

We could have kept the original seats and asked people to switch once we got on, but at the end of a long trip we were exhausted and just wanted to get home together so we sucked it up and paid the fees.

I fly Northwest through Detroit on a regular basis and I love it when it goes well, but they've delayed or canceled flights so many times on me that I don't have a huge reservoir of goodwill to draw upon. The airlines must really be desperate to undercut their customer service this way. I bought these tickets, which were over $500 per person, more than four months in advance, and it is just plain annoying to get hit with random last-minute charges like this one for something that should have been automatically arranged for free. It is of course just one more airline fee to throw on the pile, along with luggage fees, fuel surcharges, snack fees, even blanket fees (that one courtesy of Jet Blue).

Here's what Northwest Airlines says about their Coach Choice Seat fee program: "For a modest fee, customers can confirm reserved exit, aisle and window seats at or Self-Service Check-in Kiosks 24 hours prior to departure." Guess that means that they can scatter family members throughout the airplane and then charge you to put you back together again.

I suppose I am supposed to be grateful that I wasn't bumped off an oversold flight, which almost happened to us on our way out!

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Friday, August 01, 2008

Mojo Mom Podcast: How to Avoid the Mommy Trap

We've made it to August and I bet I am not the only Mojo Mom who is burned out! This is the first time in a long time that I have not blogged for a whole week. Fortunately, I have a new podcast to share with you, Mojo Mom and How to Avoid the Mommy Trap.

Listen to the podcast now:

In this week's show:

Amy and Sheryl discuss the recent NY Times article about parents who just can't seem to let go of their children while the kids are at summer camp.

Then we meet Julie Shields, author of one of Mojo Mom's favorite books, How to Avoid the Mommy Trap. Julie's strategies help couples lay out a roadmap for truly shared parenting.

You can learn more about Julie's work at her website,

The article that Julie and I discussed that emphasizes equally-shared parenting was Lisa Belkin's New York Times Magazine feature, When Mom and Dad Share It All.

Sheryl and I talked about the NY Times story, Dear Parents: Please Relax, It's Just Camp, and then yesterday Judith Warner wrote about it in her latest blog post, Camp Codependence.

This week my kid went to sleep-away camp for the first time and there was very little drama, certainly none of the kind reported in the Times. I have to say, sometimes it's a relief to live outside the New York hothouse. Down here in North Carolina, as far as I have seen, camp really is just camp.

I am planning to blog lightly over the next couple of weeks, and we plan to have the podcast return on Friday, August 15.

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