Thursday, April 30, 2009

My After the Ecstasy, the Laundry moment

April has been a whirlwind, or maybe I should say that last year, since I started revising Mojo Mom, has felt like an extended spin cycle. Now that the new book is out, my mind is insisting on coming to a full stop.

This doesn't feel good. In fact, it feels a lot like losing my mojo. But I think it's important to listen to my mind and body. The past three weeks have felt like sprinting a marathon. I've done 26 radio interviews, one bookstore event, and co-led a 40-woman retreat. The radio tour was a wonderful opportunity to reach people across the country, and it was a singularly exhausting experience. I called in to more than 20 interviews in a three-day span, so it felt like the world's longest cocktail party, having between 5 and 50 minutes to discuss my work over and over again. I drew upon all my extrovert powers to keep going (and I tackled the interviews one at a time rather thank thinking about how many I had to do), but by the end of that week my brain was fried.
The daylong Recharging Your Mojo Retreat on April 18 was fantastic--the realization of a plan that the ten women in my own Mojo Mom Advisory Circle had been working on for over a year. During the retreat I felt energized and honored to share the room with 40 amazing women. But as soon as everybody left, my energy level crashed, and it has not yet recharged. I had spent the whole week leading up to the retreat sweating the details, poring over my to-do list, trying to figure out everything from how many sandwiches we needed, to what kind of sign to make to help people find the retreat center. That was all on top of figuring out what to say during the parts I led! Thankfully, my assistant Patty was in town and she helped out a lot, (saving my sanity, in fact) but even so, my mind was consumed for about a week ahead of time. It will be easier for the next retreat, now that we have had our successful pilot event.

But still, the fact is that since then I've been trying to decide whether to rest, or to fight my inertia. I am definitely having an After the Ecstasy, the Laundry kind of week, literally and metaphorically. This is a book by Jack Kornfield that talks about getting back to reality after having an intense spiritual experience. I've also been thinking a lot about Momma Zen and her "Hand Wash Cold" themes in her Cheerio Road blog, and I was turned on to the book A Broom of One's Own by Nancy Peacock, a memoir of a critically-acclaimed, North Carolinian writer who still has a day job cleaning houses. I resisted reading this book for a long time because when my husband Michael recommended it, saying "it's about writing and cleaning," I heard "writing and CLEANING, hint hint." But the good news is that this week I picked it up (borrowing it from our piano teacher, reading during Mojo Girl's lesson) and discovered that it's about WRITING and cleaning. This is the perfect time for me to read it, because Nancy Peacock talks about the writer's life, and how three hours a day writing and keeping a day job can be more effective than writing "full time." Cleaning allows her mind time to rest and wander, so that her characters are more willing to show up when she sits down to write. Plus, it's steady work that gets the bills paid, which helps because even a successful writer's paydays often come in irregular chunks.

Writing Mojo Mom required a lot of enlightened thought plus putting in the hours at the keyboard. In the process of focusing intensely to meet my deadline, I left a lot of real-life details undone.

So Michael and I have talked about the need to get back to the tasks in front of me. I aam open to this discussion and agree with his point, but I also said "this can't just mean that Amy does a ton of housework now!" So I need to find other nourishing things to do as well. I am loving cooking, still hating organizing and cleaning, and tennis is saving my sanity. I am spending more time with my family and really looking forward to a mellow summer. I will have a week by a lake in July all by myself for the first time in years. I am probably addicted to stress and rushing, because my biggest fear is that if I relax too much, I won't be able to get my creative engines revving again when I need to. But I know I do need to relearn how to relax, and trust that it will be good for my writing in the long run.

But I have realized that the laws of physics do apply to me, and it's time to take my own basic Mojo Mom advice--back to square one almost like I am back in those early days of motherhood. The other day I was literally doing laundry, piling it higher than the top of the laundry basket, and the whole thing toppled over. I didn't get mad or frustrated, I just realized, "Hmmm, if you pile it that high, it falls over." It was so basic and elemental. Then I realized that if I don't eat, I'll be hungry, if I don't sleep, I'll be tired, and maybe I should be patient with myself and accept the fact that my mind is spinning, and it will take a little while to figure out what's next for me.

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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Raleigh: Mojo Mom at Quail Ridge Books, Thursday evening

Hey y'all. It's been a slow blogging week here. I finally hit my low-mojo wall and I am in the process of bouncing back, which I'll write about later.

I plan to be fully recharged in time for my author event at Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh, this Thursday evening at 7:30 pm. I'll talk about what I learned by writing the new Mojo Mom, and how that knowledge can benefit you.

This is an important appearance for me, so I hope you'll attend, bring your friends, and help me spread the word. I've created an open event listing on Facebook if you'd like to RSVP! If you really want to be one of my angels, it would be great if you'd share the event listing by posting it to your Facebook profile.

Meeting the real women who are reading my book is one of the most rewarding parts of being a writer. Thank you for your support throughout the entire book release process!

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Friday, April 24, 2009

Mojo Mom Podcast with Free-Range Kids

This week has been a blur in many ways, but we managed to get the podcast produced. Sheryl was on the run between class and a presentation, so she called in from her car, which reminded me of The Jeannie Tate Show. (Actually, Sheryl is the opposite of Jeannie Tate, but that video still cracks me up.) Sheryl is about to finish her Masters' degree and we're all so proud of her!

This week's podcast guest is Lenore Skenazy, a very interesting writer and the author of the Free-Range Kids book and blog. Lenore is all about giving kids independence and freedom to explore. Her book is a really interesting corrective story to all the scary stories we hear about the worst-case scenarios of child abductions and deaths, the rare and awful tragedies that make headlines. Lenore points out that we don't need to lock our kids up to keep them safe, and in fact we are not doing them any favors by doing so.

Here's this week's episode of The Mojo Mom Podcast.

Listen to the podcast now:

Amy and Sheryl are really on the go this week. Amy is recovering from last week's successful Mojo Recharge Retreat, and Sheryl has many end-of-semester balls in the air, but still finds time to call in to do the podcast!

Then Mojo Mom talks to Lenore Skenazy, author of Free-Range Kids. Last year Lenore became (in)famous for her article describing letting her 9-year-old son ride home by himself on the New York Subway, and now she has continued to explore the issues of giving kids freedom and responsibility in her book and blog.

As Lenore writes, "Do you ever let your kid ride a bike to the library? Walk alone to school? Take a bus, solo? Or are you thinking about it? If so, you are raising a Free Range Kid! At Free Range, we believe in safe kids. We believe in helmets, car seats and safety belts. We do NOT believe that every time school age children go outside, they need a security detail. Most of us grew up Free Range and lived to tell the tale. Our kids deserve no less."

I really enjoyed Lenore's book. Whether or not you agree with all evderything she says, she does us a service by starting an important conversation about what we should expect our kids lives to be like. She wrote a brief investigation of the things we can do to teach our kids to stay safe.

In the other side of my own professional life, I teach whole workshops on these skills as a Kidpower instructor. If you are looking for resources on how to teach your kids to be safe and independent I recommend that you check out as a starting point.

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Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Redbook features Mojo Mom as Best Parenting Advice Ever

The whirlwind of the past two weeks has caught up to me this week and I have not written as much as I'd like the past few days. But I wanted to share a quick piece of news, which is that the May issue of Redbook features Mojo Mom in the slide show Best Parenting Advice Ever.

Mojo Mom is #5 in the slide show. It's a lot of work to tell the world about my book, so this is an honor and a big boost!


Friday, April 17, 2009

Mojo Mom podcast with the founders of

It's been a busy week! I had a great author event last night, and we still managed to get this week's Mojo Mom Podcast produced. We took off last week because my book release schedule was too jammed, (I hope you heard me as a guest on The Manic Mommies), but we plan to bring you new shows weekly until school gets out for the summer.

I love this week's guests. I've gotten to know Cooper Munroe and Emily McKhann as organizers, writers, activists...they are Mojo Moms through and through who have been a real inspiration to me over the years. Here's this week's episode.

Listen to the podcast now:

The new edition of Mojo Mom came out last week, and Amy is back this week with guest co-host Patty Ayers to talk about her book release, as well as Patty's adventures traveling back and forth between Mexico and North Carolina.

Then Mojo Mom interviews Cooper Munroe and Emily McKhann, founders of the social networking site Amy got to know this dyamic duo when they all worked together on activism, and Cooper and Emily are interviewed in the new Chaper 10 of Mojo Mom, "Spreading Your Wings: Mothers as Leaders." is an amazing site with cool technical features, a ton of integrity and goodwill, and a heaping dose of mojo, so we hope you will stop on by and say hello.

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Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Check out Linda Criddle's 12 Things You Can Do Today to Be Safer Online

I haven't seen today's Oprah episode about internet crimes's recording on my TiVO right now. I am concerned about the tone of the show because it looks pretty sensational. I'll write more about that later, but I am very happy to report that is featuring my friend (and most recent Mojo Mom Podcast guest) Linda Criddle's 12 Things You Can Do Today to Be Safer Online.

Linda's the real deal, a mother of four herself, an experienced former Microsoft executive, and an expert who has worked with law enforcement to look into the dark side of internet crime, so that we don't have to. Her information is consistently excellent, and her goal is to empower us to use the internet as the great resource it is, while being smart and safe about how we browse, and aware of what information we share about ourselves online. Linda's website is

Linda was in town recently for a conference, and we had dinner together to celebrate the release of her new book, a new addition to the Dummies series, Using the Internet Safely for Seniors, for Dummies, and the new Mojo Mom. Somehow, all roads lead through Chapel Hill sooner or later.

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Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Is the True Mom Confessions trend already over the top?

Wow, after last week's Oprah about "The Secret Lives of Moms," it seems like everywhere I turn there is a new development in Bad-Mommy-lit or True Mom Confessions.

I'll confess, The Wall Street Journal article, "Bad Parents and Proud of It: Moms and a Dad Confess" gave me the creeps:

When her two young sons first started walking, Lisa Moricoli-Latham, a mother in Pacific Palisades, Calif., would gently push them over. For the sake of their development, she thought it would be better for them to crawl first. A physical therapist had told her so. She kind of enjoyed it, she says. "It gave me this sort of nasty thrill..."

Okay, they lost me at "nasty thrill." A ton of books seem to be coming out in this genre, including Heather Armstrong's It Sucked and Then I Cried: How I Had a Baby, a Breakdown, and a Margarita, Ayelet Waldman's Bad Mother: A Chronicle of Maternal Crimes, Minor Calamities and Occasional Moments of Grace and a compilation of True Mom Confessions.

It raises questions about what it means to be honest about motherhood. Do we want to or need to share all of our dirty laundry and bad feelings? Are there some things better said to a therapist than to the world wide web? If I were ten years younger and had grown up on with the internet, would this all make sense to me?

I haven't gotten into these websites or read these specific books. Maybe someone who has can explain their allure.

While it would be cooler to align myself with this trend, I've never gravitated toward this style of writing, ever since Perfect Madness came out. I thought I'd really like that book, but it left me feeling frustrated. I believe that continuously rehashing the difficult parts of motherhood can keep us almost as stuck as ignoring them.

I read a comment yesterday, and I apologize because I can't remember where, that expressed the concern that some of this confessional approach ends up infantilizing Moms, like the woman on Oprah who told the story about peeing into a diaper when she didn't want to wake her sleeping kids on a cross-country road trip. Those zany Moms, no wonder we never get anything else done!

I've also heard from a number of mothers of older kids, say age 9 and up, who validate my personal experience that even though parenting is still intense, when the kids get older it's easier to "mother while multitasking," developing creative, career, and family aspects in one's life.

As for my writing, I get as real as I need to in Mojo Mom. My best venting is done through tennis and improv comedy rather than Bad Mom lit.

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Monday, April 13, 2009

Chapel Hill, Raleigh Mojo Mom bookstore apperances

Everyone's back from Spring Break, and all the Moms I know who have school-aged kids are experiencing serious re-entry shock. Chapel Hill felt very strange last week because despite the basketball championship celebrations at UNC, the town felt deserted.

So now that we're all getting back on track I wanted to remind you of my two upcoming Mojo Mom author appearances in Chapel Hill and Raleigh.

This Thursday, April 16, I'll be at Market Street Books in Chapel Hill at 7 pm. Market Street Books' owner Kathryn Henderson has been incredibly supportive throughout my writing career and I am happy to have the Chapel Hill book release party at this fantastic bookstore/community center in Southern Village. Your taxes will be completed--stop by and join me for a wine & cheese reception!

Then at the end of the month, I'll be at Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh, Thursday April 30 at 7:30 pm. Quail Ridge Books is a top-notch independent bookstore and a really fun place to have an event. This one will be a reading/quick workshop to get your mojo going.

Please note the different start times. These are two fantastic independent bookstores, so it would be wonderful if you would come out to say hello.

I have Facebook events set up for these appearances if you'd care to RSVP, or share and invite your friends!

Mojo Mom at Market Street Books, Thursday April 16 at 7 pm

Mojo Mom at Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, Thursday April 30 at 7:30 pm

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Friday, April 10, 2009

My self-care tips for Moms on Beliefnet

In Mojo Mom I start with self-care as an important first step to getting your Mojo back.

Here's a new gallery of self-care tips for Moms that I wrote for Beliefnet. This was a good opportunity to share Mojo-Mom-in-a-nutshell with new readers.

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Thursday, April 09, 2009

Mojo Mom and the Oprah Mom bloggers

This week's Oprah episode about The Secret Lives of Moms made me think about where I fit in to the constellation of motherhood writers.

The Oprah discussion really caught my attention because Mojo Mom was originally inspired in part by two Oprah episodes in the fall of 2002, where Naomi Wolf talked to small groups of women about "What Mothers Honestly Think about Motherhood" and "What Your Mother Never Told You about Motherhood." I appreciated the catharsis and truth-telling that went on, and I was surprised to see a backlash develop in the audience from other women who thought Moms should never complain about motherhood. At the time I was craving an honest conversation about motherhood, because my daughter had just turned three years old, and I was just starting to recover from burnout and get my mojo back. I decided to write the guide book I had wished I had when my daughter was born.

Back then, when I started researching Mojo Mom, many of the other books about motherhood were quite serious and academic. With the exception of Vicki Iovine's lighthearted Girlfriends' Guides series, I was mostly reading books like Naomi Wolf's Misconceptions, Susan Maushart's The Mask of Motherhood, and Susan Douglas & Meredith Michael's book The Mommy Myth. All good books, rooted mainly in feminst writing and sociology.

I wanted Mojo Mom to be thoughtful and well-researched, but written in a more conversational Mom-to-Mom tone, a book you'd be happy to give your sister or best friend for her baby shower, or discuss with your neighborhood Moms' group.

So just as I've reached my book launch with the updated Gotham Books edition of Mojo Mom, Oprah comes out with another show that is in theory very similar to the 2002 discussions.

But you can see how much lighter the conversation has become. It's all about truth-telling ("hilarious and outrageous" True Mom Confessions!), the down and dirty details of a Mom who peed in a diaper because she couldn't get out of the car on a road trip with children in the back. Actress Cheryl Hines talked about motherhood as an identity crisis, which I could really relate to, then showed off her home, her nanny, and her 5-year-old daughter's birthday party, with the mandatory alcohol to keep the adults happy (the whole "Mommy needs a drink" angle could be its own literary subgenre). Dooce came on an was her irreverent self, accompanied by other writers and bloggers from Momversation.

The guests experts on stage were Amy Nobile and Trisha Ashworth, authors of several books including I Was a Really Good Mom Before I Had Kids and I'd Trade My Husband for a Housekeeper. These guides come across as sugary confections with the cupcakes and gingerbread men on the covers. I can understand why they are popular, because some days we all need a bit of commiserating. But in my view they only go so far--like the whole Oprah episode. The show never quite took that next step past the funny stories, to talk about how we might actually get beyond black humor to make our lives better.

That's the niche I see Mojo Mom filling. I write about a path that starts with self-care but keeps moving forward from there, to developing a partnership with your spouse, to thinking about your lifelong career path, and directing your mojo into a leadership and activism.

So dessert is fine, and you may even want to eat it first, but once you get your fill of cupcakes I hope you'll check out my book to think about your own life and how motherhood fits into the bigger picture.

Mojo Mom may be just right for you if:

You are a mother of reinvention, in your personal or professional life.

You are going through a life transition, such as kids going to kindergarten or leaving the nest for college.

You are willing to explore creativity as a way to jump-start your mojo, even if you haven't always thought of yourself as "artistic."

You'd like to develop a true partnership with your spouse and want to know where to start.

You want to end the Mommy Wars and debunk the myths of Opting Out.

You have an entrepreneurial spirit.

You are a social or political activist, and you want to work for causes that will help all families.

Who do I count as my writing peers now? Some of the women I read or interviewed for Mojo Mom include Karen Maezen Miller (Momma Zen); Cooper Munroe and Emily McKhann, founders of; Joan Blades and Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner, founders of; Zainab Salbi, founder of Women for Women International, Amy and Marc Vachon of Equally Shared Parenting; and Dr. Pamela Stone, author of Opting Out? Why Women Really Quit Careers and Head Home. And I want to thank kindred spirit PunditMom for blogging about the Oprah show today, which inspired me to sit down and write out my thoughts, rather than go take a nap this afternoon!

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Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Reminder that I've already succeeded

I've made many wise friends through my work as an author. During the ramp-up to book release week, I asked my friend Jamie Woolf for the wisdom she's gleaned from the experience of her Mom-in-Chief book release this past February.

Jamie reminded me that it's important to decide what I specifically hope to get out of a book release. What are my goals, in addition to selling a lot of books? I think it's important for every writer to come up with at least 10 definitions of success that have nothing to do with getting on Oprah (as much as we'd all love that, too!).

This morning I saw that another of my friends, Momma Zen's Karen Maezen Miller, wrote a blog post that moved me to tears and made me realize I have already succeeded, just by having the experiences that came with the writing process and getting to publication. Right now my brain is as frazzled as my vocal cords are frayed, so I will let Karen's eloquence speak for itself by linking to her Cheerio Road blog post, The Mother at the End of My Block.

Karen, thank you. And I can't wait to see you in California in June...

...dear blog readers, you are invited to join us at 7 pm on June 23 for a Mom's Summer Reading Salon at Sierra Madre Books. Our first ever Momma Zen & Mojo Mom event!

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My carbon-neutral book tour

I'm doing a 25-city radio tour for my Mojo Mom book release this week, which has been just wonderful.

After 15 interviews in two days I am a bit burned out, even though I love radio. Doing fourteen interviews in two days is like a cross between the best cocktail party you've ever been to and Groundhog Day (the Bill Murray kind). I try to make each interview a little bit different, and of course the hosts have their own angles and personalities, but I do find myself explaining "What is mojo?" again and again.

I've been calling this my carbon-neutral book tour, because I am so grateful to be able to do this cross-country outreach by calling into the radio interviews from home. I can be in Jacksonville, Florida one hour, then Dallas, then San Francisco. So my husband Michael suggested that I actually use the Terra Pass carbon footprint calculator to see how much carbon dioxide would be produced if I flew to all these cities.

Yowza, just to cover the cities I "visited" yesterday and today, I would have had to fly over 17,000 miles, which would have generated over 12,000 pounds of CO2.

So long live radio, for so many reasons. It's the most effective form of outreach in my opinion. Even though I get tired in between segments, I get pretty fired up during the interviews. There is a real element of being in the moment.

And now, I can appreciate that I am saving wear and tear on the planet, as well as myself.

I'll also be doing several in-person events over the next few months, and I'll post those in a separate blog. I will also post links to archived copies of my radio interviews as they become available.

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Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Mojo Mom on BoMoms and Manic Mommies

Last week Erica Noonan named Mojo Mom a "Book We Like" on the website for Boston Moms. In her review, she brought up one of the more provocative points I make in the new book, namely my view that motherhood is not the most important job in the world. Not because it's not important, but because motherhood is not a job, it's a relationship.

[I blogged about this back in January 2007, The biggest mistake Moms can make, and adapted it for the new book.]

The comment boards lit up as readers grappled with that idea. It's a point that does push people's buttons at first but I hope readers will take it in the spirit it is intended. Motherhood is rewarding but not in the same way a paid job is rewarding. When you apply a career-ladder model to motherhood you set yourself up for disappointment by expecting something motherhood cannot deliver.

Being a Mom is a lot more like being an artist or a monk, making a beautiful sand mandala each day that is swept clean each evening. There is great joy and meaning in that, but not always tangible results or reward to demonstrate our accomplishments.

I had a chance to talk about these issues further with Erin Martin Kane on the Manic Mommies podcast this week, so I hope you'll listen to the show!

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Monday, April 06, 2009

Mojo Mom on blog this week

One of the cool things I get to do for my book release is to blog over at this week. It feels very authorial and official!

I hope you'll be intrigued by today's blog post, How to End The Mommy Wars.

I'll still be blogging here as well throughout the week. Tomorrow is Mojo Mom's big on-sale date, so it feels like Christmas Eve to me tonight!

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The Double-Daring Book for Girls

It's the first day of Spring Break here in Chapel Hill (go Tar Heels tonight!). Anyone else already hearing, "Mom, I'm bored"?

We're home this week because I am busy with my book release. So wouldn't you know that this is the first year my daughter has been acutely aware of "Spring Break"? Bad timing--she's pretty bummed out that I am working all week long.

But, just in time, I've found something to vanquish our spring break blues--The Double-Daring Book for Girls, sequel to the fun bestseller The Daring Book for Girls.

The books (Girls and Boys versions) have tons of activities to keep kids busy exploring classic activities, from making pinatas, to slumber party fun. (Both series are nostalgic, but for me the Boys books feel more old school, like Rudyard Kidpling or Teddy Roosevelt, while the Girls books have more of a Dynamite Magazine, Judy Blume, classic 1970's vibe--right up my alley).

Authors Miriam Peskowitz and Andi Buchanan are accomplished writers in their own rights, and they are the perfect women to write the handbook for the next generation of girls.

Let me know which activities your kids enjoy the most!

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Saturday, April 04, 2009

Follow Mojo Mom on Twitter

I've decided to jump in and join Twitter. I have lots of news to share this month, and once I started thinking about Twitter as "micro-blogging" rather than "navel gazing" it started to make sense to give it a try.

I love sharing links, for one thing, and Twitter allows me to post cool things I've found that I don't have time to develop into a full blog post.

I am concerned that my online life is getting fragmented as I keep blogging and podcasting and now do Facebook and Twitter as well, but I am trying to juggle all those tasks while remaining committed to this blog! (If you are wondering why I am linking to my own blog here it's because lately my blog has been scraped and reposted quite a bit.)

So here's my current online profile. In addition to the information I provide on this blog and, you can find new insights shared daily:

Follow Mojo Mom on Twitter

Listen to The Mojo Mom Podcast
(you can also subscribe via iTunes--see the link to iTunes on my blog page).

I'd love it if you'd become a fan of the Mojo Mom Page on Facebook--home of free giveaways.

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Mojo Mom Podcast and Internet Safety

Phew, this ended up being a crazy week and I got behind in blogging, but I did manage to get The Mojo Mom Podcast produced.

In this week's show, after Sheryl and I talk, I am joined by Internet Safety expert Linda Criddle.

Listen to the podcast now:

Linda addresses Internet Safety for all ages--kids, parents, grandparents. I have had a chance to get to know Linda well and I am an admirer of her work. Her book Look Both Ways provides detailed, understandable information about how to stay safe online. Here's an article by Linda about eight safety tips for blogging. Linda provides a solid framework, and if you choose to share more public information than the basics she suggests, you'll be doing so out of a conscious decision and not as a habit or default.

Here's this week's podcast, Mojo Mom and Internet Safety expert Linda Criddle:

Amy and Sheryl are able to easily integrate the first and second halves of the show today since the topic is technology and internet safety.

Then Mojo Mom interviews Linda Criddle, world-renowned expert, former Microsoft executive and mother of four. Linda's highly informative website is Using the Internet Safely For Seniors (For Dummies).

Linda and I got into a pretty intense, detailed discussion as we talked about the research into internet safety. I left the whole discussion intact, because it provided an important opportunity to go beyond sound bites and sensational headlines into a substantive examination of these issues.

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Wednesday, April 01, 2009

The final week of the Mojo Mom Quote-A-Day Widget

This is the final week for the Mojo Mom Quote-A-Day widget. Next Tuesday I'll be putting a whole new book out there, instead of a Quote of the Day!

I learned a lot by going through the process of making a widget, and it's been surprisingly enjoyable for me to see the new quote revealed each day. Even though I chose the quotes, they always took on new meaning the day they were revealed.

So enjoy the widget, and next Tuesday we'll have a new homepage design for to celebrate the book release.

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