Archive for August 2009

The Writer Mama Back-to-School Giveaway with Mama, PhD!

My friend and fellow mama-writer, one of the most savvy internet book marketing women I know, Christina Katz, is once again running her Writer Mama Back-to-School Giveaway where she gives away one book or magazine subscription every day in September. On September 25th, I’m delighted that Mama, PhD will be included in a trio of anthologies edited by Literary Mama editors Shari MacDonald Strong and Amy Hudock.

Our books — Mama, PhD: Women Write About Motherhood and Academic Life; The Maternal Is Political: Women Writers at the Intersection of Motherhood and Social Change; and Literary Mama: Reading for the Maternally Inclined–will be up for giveaway on September 25th. To see a complete list of what you can win, visit Christina’s Writer Mama blog. You can enter every day if you want, so bookmark her site and visit again and again. Good luck!

31 Hours Contest and Book Giveaway!

To celebrate the publication of her new book, 31 Hours, novelist and friend of Literary Mama Masha Hamilton is hosting a contest:

Email a paragraph or story (500 words max) about when your intuition has been right about your child.

The top five stories—selected by Masha and guest judges—will get a free hardcover copy of the book and have their stories featured on the 31 Hours site.

Entries accepted until: September 30, 2009
Winners announced: October 16, 2009

Don’t send your entries to me; forward them to mashaATmashahamiltonDOTcom


When I was about six months pregnant with Ben, Tony and I went camping up in Mendocino. It was part of our regular routine in those days, a couple weekends a year we would camp in Mendocino or the Anderson Valley, or the Santa Cruz Mountains. As I lay on my stack of thermarests that first night, thinking comfortably of the princess and the pea, I felt the clock ticking down a bit on this life, but I thought for sure we’d be in the tent again the following autumn with our new baby.

Flash forward seven years. Tony and both boys have camped overnight at Slide Ranch a couple times, and the Tony and Ben have also gone on father-son camping trips with Ben’s school. But I had not yet been back in the tent, and it was time.

So when a friend suggested that a group of us go camping, and actually pushed us to look at our calendars (and then even booked the campsite), there wasn’t much left for me to do but make some lists. Mine was on Google docs (natch; if you can organize 45 writers into a book this way, why not 4 families for a camp-out?), and listed everything from dish sponge to cocktail shaker. Ben’s was in his notebook: “Radio, Compass, Flashlight, All Available Snacks from Home, K. Kaplan Koala, Monkey, Racoony, Books I Will Choose Later, Drawing Pad, Markers.” Eli tucked patch blanket and Moosie into his backpack and we were, with a few other odds and ends, ready to go. I was surprised and pleased that all the gear, the food, and the children fit into the car.

And it turned out to be incredibly relaxing. 7 adults and 7 boys (ages three to eight). 4 tents and 2 picnic tables — one set aside for the boys’ art projects, one reserved for meal prep and cooking. The boys played with sticks and wooden airplanes, they slid down a dirt hill on their butts, they made up baseball games with the badminton set, they colored, they climbed up onto tall tree stumps and jumped off. They got very, very dirty. When they were hungry, we fed them.

Meanwhile, the adults read and talked and led the boys on a short hike while some others napped; we made several great meals, drank cocktails, and read some more.

We all ate many s’mores.

And we are already planning for next year.

Mama at the Movies: Rivers and Tides

I have unabashedly, and with great success, manufactured an interest in the artist Andy Goldsworthy’s sculpture in my children this summer; soon I’ll post pictures of our trips to see Spire, Stone River, and Storm King Wall. But in the meantime, here’s my latest Literary Mama column about watching the film about Goldsworthy’s work, Rivers and Tides:

My family has spent a lot of time in museums lately; both boys love to draw and paint, so we often take them to see works by other artists. We don’t stay long, but we’ll look closely at a painting or two, talk about what materials the artist used, wonder whether the painting was made outside or in a studio. I lift Eli up so he can see better, and we stop in the gift shop for a postcard of our favorite. But San Francisco is the home of a different kind of artwork, too: sculptures by a Scottish artist named Andy Goldsworthy that offer a quite different experience. The boys have reached their arms around his tall redwood Spire, climbed up and over Stone River, walked like tight rope walkers, arms outstretched for balance, along the path of Drawn Stone. We’ve sat in the dirt beneath Spire with a gathered pile of sticks and built our own miniature version; we did the same with pebbles at Stone River. These pieces are alive and accessible to them in a way a painting can never be; and for a pair of energetic kids, they’re just fun.

And so it occurred to me to show my kids the beautiful documentary about Andy Goldsworthy’s work, Rivers and Tides.

You can read the full column at Literary Mama; I’d love to hear your comments.

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I know, I have been neglecting this blog terribly of late; the other, younger, blog has been getting all my attention. So if you’re interested in what I’ve been doing with apricots or the various ways we’ve been eating ice cream, then click on over there. Soon enough I’ll be back here with posts about camping & cocktails, artwork and walks in the woods.