Friday, October 30, 2009

Mojo Mom Podcast, and Courageous Parenting

This week I am kicking off a series of Mojo Mom Podcast interviews with my Courageous Parenting anthology contributors. The goal of this book is to give parents the skills and strategies they need to raise independent kids, with courage and confidence rather than worry and fear.

On the podcast we can have further conversations about Courageous Parenting. The angles explored by each author are so different that there is plenty to say! Check in next week for the announcement of the final list of contributing authors.

So listen in to this week's Mojo Mom Podcast with Cooper Munroe and Emily McKhann, founders of, the most intelligent, creative and friendly social networking site for Moms:

On The Mojo Mom Podcast, this week Mojo Mom is joined by the founders of the social networking site for Moms,, Cooper Munroe and Emily McKhann. This dynamic duo returns to the podcast to talk about how community support can empower us all to be more courageous, and how they plan to transform a chat we had about Courageous Parnting at TheMotherhood into a chapter for the new book.

You can register to receive a free e-book copy of "Courageous Parenting" by signing up to receive the newsletter and Party Kit, so stop by and sign up today!

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Monday, October 26, 2009

What Paris taught me about American health care

Earlier this month my family traveled to Paris together. It was the first time I had been there in thirteen years. So last time I was a newlywed, and this time I saw the city through the eyes of a Mom of a ten-year old. I am sharing this not as a travelogue, but because the experience of spending time in a country that has universal health care really struck me at this moment as we, here in the United States, are debating the future of our current flawed health care system.

Today as the Senate is taking action on their bill, I want to tell you what I learned on my recent trip, but first I want to mention that today I heard a fantastic interview on The Story With Dick Gordon [listen through their website or by iTunes podcast] about a French woman who lived in America for many years, and became an American citizen. She was married to a doctor and and worked as an administrator in his medical practice, but even so they could not afford health insurance for themselves or their employees. So when she became seriously ill, she ended up returning to France for hospitalization and stabilization. Then she came back to America, and was able to get insurance and continued her treatment here. She sees the good in the American system but also the gaping holes in coverage that can leave people untreated, which she says just would not happen in France.

On our recent trip to Paris, I was immediately struck by how family-friendly the city seemed. Our first full day there we happened upon a massive Family Sport Fun Fair, designed to promote healthy living. It was a huge festival taking place in the field next to the Eiffel Tower. The FREE festival featured dozens of activities, from a little Circus School, to boxing lessons from the police, to Aikido demonstrations, a rock climbing wall, badminton courts, wheelchair sports for all to try, and a cool obstacle course. There was even a scuba-diving tank trucked in, which you had to see to believe.

We passed on the scuba diving lessons but did just about everything else we could fit in. I was really proud of Mojo Girl as she scaled the rock-climbing wall and careened down on the huge zip line attached to the top. Here she was in a brand-new city, and she doesn't speak French, so it took all the courage she had to try out these adventurous activities. (At the rock climbing wall we waited in line for an hour and saw about 50 kids do it ahead of us, so we helped translate the instructions for her as we all observed.)

Being in Paris and doing family activities for a whole week I really felt that there is a French esprit de corps that we are lacking here, at least in American suburbia. I don't know if I am capturing the exact term the French would use, and if anyone can direct me to a more accurate term I am all ears. But I felt like the Parisians are really used to being together, in public. Instead of being in a car, for the whole week we walked, or took the Metro subway or bus. The city is crowded and we were surrounded by lots of other people the whole time. But with the exception of one jam-packed subway ride with suitcases, it wasn't uncomfortable. People didn't feel like "strangers," they felt like people. They were generally not overtly friendly but they were not intimidating either, and any time we needed assistance we were able to find it.

So when it came to Parisian kids, I got the sense that they are used to crowds. Take a look at the playground on a Wednesday afternoon when there was no school:

That is public spirit!

We spent a lot of time on the playground (roughly one park visit for every musuem or church visit) and it really and truly struck me to the the core of my heart as I looked at the diverse, playful crowd: every one of these kids has health care. And it felt different. It didn't feel like us versus them, my group versus your group, rich versus poor. It was just KIDS at the park and they all had health care.

American kids deserve no less and we need to keep pushing our leaders as they take tentative steps in the direction of providing options that will make health care for all a possibility.

How to get there is still a matter of great debate and one piece of good news is that there is more than one way to do it! I recommend the Fresh Air interview with author T. R. Reid talking about different health care strategies around the globe, also detailed in his book The Healing of America, and the Frontline special Sick Around the World.

We HAVE to figure out a better way to provide health care in the United States and ensure that everybody has basic coverage. I am afraid that our great American Individualism has become our great flaw: we assume that what we have do it here is the BEST when it's not necessarily so. When it comes to health care and related social/family issues like maternity leave, we can no longer afford to stick out like a sore thumb as the big, rich industrialized nation that has failed to provide the basic protection that we need.

Do you have experience with health care around the world that allows you to see the American system in a different light? Please tell us about it in the comment section.

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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Three chats on me tomorrow!

I'm one of the co-hosts for a live chat on tomorrow from 1 to 2 pm ET to discuss our new Courageous Parenting anthology. founders Cooper Munroe and Emily McKhann are going to use this chat as the basis for their chapter and we would love to hear your thoughts about what Courageous Parenting means to you.

Their three talks this week are so great I wanted to share them all. I love Rosalind Wiseman's work. She is a colleague of my recent podcast guest Rachel Simmons on issues affecting adolescent girls.

And on Thursday, the chat about Growing Up Online will feature none other than my former Mojo Mom Podcast co-host Sheryl Grant in her new role as a Director of Social Networking for the Digital Media & Learning Competition, supported by the MacArthur Foundation.

So I encourage you to consider participating in one or more of these chats. Just sign up as a member on and then follow the links at the chat time to join in.

TheMotherhood Talks this week!

TODAY at 1 pm ET: Rosalind Wiseman - author Queen Bees & Wannabes
We're talking about mean behavior, in our lives and our daughters' and how hurtful it can be. Join the conversation here.

Wednesday at 1 pm ET: We're writing the chapter of a book together, live.
Be a part of Amy Tiemann's anthology on Courageous Parenting! Share your life experiences, thoughts and tips! The book comes out in March 2010, and contributors receive a copy. We're talking here.

Thursday at 1 pm ET: Social Media and Our Kids
Join the MacArthur Foundation and The Online Mom to talk about our kids growing up online - your approaches, experiences and fears. We'll all take away great information and ideas on how to deal with our kids online. Join us all here.

We look forward to some GREAT conversations. See you there!

Emily and Cooper

The chats are also archived, so if you can't stop by during the live event, you can come back later to follow the links, see how the conversation unfolded, and add your comments.

Sign up for my e-newsletter on to receive a free e-book of the new Courageous Parenting anthology when it comes out in early 2010!

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Friday, October 16, 2009

What's next for Mojo Mom? A new anthology and free e-book giveaway!

Mojo Mom sets her sights on new horizons....

The time has come for me to ask "What's next?" Now that Mojo Mom: Nurturing Your Self While Raising a Family, has been released in its revised second edition, that book really and truly feels complete. So what's next for me?

As my daughter grows up through her tween years, I myself am moving beyond the questions of new motherhood to the next phase of discovery for my life, and my parenting questions have become more focused on her growing independence.

So I wanted you to be the first to hear that my next big project is a new anthology written on the theme of Courageous Parenting, to be released in paperback and e-book form next March. We'll explore from many angles how we can live our lives with courage rather than fear. To enable our to kids grow up and away from us, rather than hovering too closely as "helicopter parents," we may need to develop some new knowledge and skills to approach our kids' growing independence.

I am the editor of the project and I had the pleasure of inviting the anthology contributors who will serve as our expert guides along the way.

This is a really cool opportunity to bring together many of my favorite authors into one book. You've heard them as guests on The Mojo Mom Podcast: Maya Frost of The New Global Student, Melissa Stanton of The Stay-at-Home Mom Survival Guide, personal safety expert Irene van der Zande of Kidpower, and Jamie Woolf of Mom-in-Chief, to name just a few.

Next week I will announce the complete list of anthology contributors here on the Mojo Mom blog.

But in the meantime I wanted to let you know that we'll be kicking off the book announcement with a live online chat next Wednesday, October 21, from 1 to 2 pm ET on

Cooper Munroe and Emily McKhann are the co-founders of and they'll be writing a Courageous Parenting chapter based on this chat, which will bring in their community members and I hope, YOU.

All you have to do to participate is to sign up as a user on and then click on this link at the chat time to join in:

Courageous Parenting: We're Writing the Book Chapter Here!

You can drop by any time between 1 to 2 pm ET to add your voice to this conversation and tell us, what does Courageous Parenting mean to you?

There is one more really exciting thing to tell you about the anthology: thanks to the gift of modern technology, I can offer every member of the community a free copy of the e-book version of Courageous Parenting. By signing up to receive the free Mojo Mom Party Kit and Quiz on, you'll also receive an invitation to claim a copy of the e-book when it comes out. New people who sign up to join the community before the book is released will also be eligible. This is my way of saying thank you for your interest in my work. Your support has meant a lot over the years as I have grown into a writer!

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Mojo Mom Podcast and Remodeling Motherhood

We're experimenting with a new show format on The Mojo Mom Podcast, focusing on one segment to give us more time for our expert guest interviews.

I am excited about this week's show. My guest Kristin Maschka has written an important new book that explains the big picture of motherhood in our current society, illuminating the structural level, as well as the ways we can improve our lives on an individual level.

Listen to the podcast now:

This week's Mojo Mom Podcast guest Kristin Maschka is a great person to help kick off this new format, because Mojo Mom and Kristin sure have a lot to talk about. Kristin is a past president of the national advocacy group Mothers & More, a successful businessperson, and the author of the new book "This Is Not How I Thought It Would Be: Remodeling Motherhood to Get the Lives We Want Today."

So tune in to learn how you can put more energy into all the facets of your identity, and find out how Mothers & More helped Amy Tiemann take a step forward on the path that eventually led her to write "Mojo Mom: Nurturing Your Self While Raising a Family."

You can learn more about Kristin Maschka's work and sign up to receive her free "remodeling tools" at

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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Is savoir faire the French version of mojo?

Lightbulb moment today: savoir faire just might be the French version of mojo.

I am going to check out Women, Work & the Art of Savoir Faire: Business Sense & Sensibility, the new book by Mireille Guiliano, who is a successful businessperson--the former President and CEO of Cliquot, Inc.--in addition to being famous for writing French Women Don't Get Fat.

Here is her interview discussing "How to Savor Your Life" on The Today Show:

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Friday, October 09, 2009

Jim & Pam's adorable "Plan C"

I am a huge fan of The Office, so I watched Jim & Pam's wedding episode with great anticipation last night. They did a brilliant job with it, and I was surprised to even find a Mojo Mom connection.

[Spoiler alert, show details to follow. You can watch it online here.]

I've talked for a long time about how in motherhood we set ourselves up for disappointment by making such a big deal about pregnancy and birth, while not planning much for what happens next after we actually become parents. As new mothers, we can get caught up in the "big day" just like brides focusing on a magical wedding, rather than the rest of their lives as a married couple.

Fanfare, parties, how can the day after, when real life begins, and goes on and on, live up to that?

Of course, the tension between expectation and reality also shows up on the Big Day itself. We see Pam break down into tears as her wonderfully nutty family and friends turned her wedding day spiral out of control into something less than the perfect fantasy she imagined. Heck, even her perfect fiancee Jim spilled the beans about Pam's pregnancy, much to grandma Meemaw's disapproval.

So as Jim comforts Pam in the Sunday School room before the ceremony, he pulls out his "Plan C," and they run away. Just as the guests wonder whether they've called it off, Pam and Jim return to the church to go through with the ceremony, which gets further hijacked when the wedding party springs the YouTube "boogie down the aisle" procession dance on them. Rather than getting mad, Pam and Jim take it in stride, smiling at each other and making classic "Office faces" across the church. Pam looks truly happy and relaxed for a change, even as the procession gets sillier, with Kevin knocking over the candles with his Kleenex-box shoes, Andy using a walker to support his splits-bruised scrotum, and Dwight getting carried away and accidentally kick-box kicking bridesmaid Isabel in the face.

Through intercutting scenes, we see why Pam is able to laugh it off: Turns out that Jim had "Maid of the Mist" boat tickets in his pocket in case they needed to escape. They went off by themselves to get married, had their perfect moment alone by the waterfalls, then came back to go through with the ceremony their family wanted.

The wedding weekend was totally crazy, but they made it work. The wedding scenes by Niagra Falls were truly gorgeous and romantic. Pam and Jim looked like they were in perfect bliss together, even soaking wet! The church ceremony started out ridiculously but ended well. I think the tears in the actors' eyes were real (especially Steve Carell's proud papa look) as this beloved couple finally got the happy ending they deserved.

As Jim said, the boat was Plan C, the church was plan B, and plan A was, "marrying her a long long time ago, pretty much the day I met her." It took five years, but his patience finally paid off.

Throughout our lives, we have to make compromises to keep our family and friends happy. Real life is crazy, and things don't go as planned, but if we can let go of our perfect fantasies, and accept a reality that includes Plan B, Plan C, and a lot of laughter, we can write our own happy endings.

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Mojo Mom Podcast will return next Friday with Remodeling Motherhood

I'm back from my two-week break, which I truly needed. And yes, I did recharge my mental and physical batteries.

Just wanted to let you know that The Mojo Mom Podcast will return next Friday, and we have a great guest lined up. I know I'll have a lot to talk about with Kristin Maschka, past president of Mothers & More, and author of the brand-new book This is Not How I Thought It Would Be: Remodeling Motherhood to Get the Lives We Want Today.

So I'll be talking with Kristin next week. In the meantime I encourage you to visit Kristin's Remodeling Motherhood site. She has a lot of great free tools to share with you.

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