Attachment Parenting, Engorged Boobs, Women’s History, Moose, and Muse


I know I posted on Facebook (facebook.com/memomuse) and Twitter (@memomuse1) that I would post the Monday Mooseletter Monday night.  I just didn’t get to it.  I don’t like to make promises I can’t keep.  So, here it is on Wednesday.

Afterall, I don’t want a riot to start because I didn’t have a fresh post on my blog. Ha ha. Seriously, I wonder who are my loyal followers.  What I think about when I get a new like on Facebook is not about the number, but the actual number — the person. The fact that one person in this great big universe decided to go to the sidebar and hit like.  It means a lot to me.  It means you truly heard me and recognized and appreciated  my voice. And I thank you.

So, here are some moose:

Mama moose and her little one

Here is an update of what is going on:

1. Remember 35 mm film and photos you hold in your hand

This post will be short (this is an out right lie) because I have a photography deadline to meet. I am going through my photos (35 mm film prints) from Wyoming (my home state) to find color photos for a Wyoming tourism brochure I was invited to submit photos to.  I have so many photos (literally thousands) of film prints to go through.  I am so biased when it comes to Wyoming because my heart still lives there even though I live in North Carolina now.

Moose on the road in Yellowstone. They are enormous in size.

It takes my breath away and it makes my heart swell.  It also breaks my heart that there are so many wildfires going on in the West, especially Wyoming and Colorado.  My sister lives near the High Park fire and she is safe now, but it was frightening to wonder if she would lose her farm.  See — here I said this post would be short, but now I want to write about my sister’s farm.

I love Wyoming. Photo taken in 2004 on my honeymoon.  We went to Yellowstone for our honeymoon.

2. Working on Two Books

An agent in New York is reading over my motherhood memoir (proposal and full manuscript requested).  It is a creative nonfiction memoir about Attachment Parenting, as it relates to me, as a new mom trying to find her way.  It is NOT, I repeat NOT, a how-to book.  All I know how to do is be the best mother I can be to my son and write pretty well.  I can do other things too, but you get my point.

BlogHer CEO and c0-founder, Lisa Stone, recently declared Mamalode magazine America’s Best Parenting Magazine. Mamalode publisher, Elke Govertsen, has agreed to write a blurb and endorse my book.  She is such an amazing person and has really taken Mamalode where it was meant to go — a publication with subscribers in every state and many countries around the world.  Elke is a true trailblazer and visionary.  Check it out.  There is a link to the magazine on my sidebar too.

3.  More Details about Book Projects

I have to just hit enter and go to the next number or I will ramble on.  I have so many ideas for blog posts, but they require research, development and crafting.  I just don’t have the time right now to develop the blog posts I want to write about.  I have been thinking about turning them into articles for magazines, but then I am brought back to #2: my books.  I have to finish these projects.

These two books (AP motherhood memoir and historic food memoir) are my priority right now.  The Attachment Parenting motherhood memoir is a book about my experience as a new mom. I kept detailed journal entries in graduate school for an independent course on motherhood I designed. It was called,  Motherhood: The New Frontier.  I picked five books to read, and basically had free reign to write whatever I wanted to about motherhood.  Well, to say the least, it is raw, edgy, hopeful, honest, vulnerable, and loving (and about a dozen more adjectives).  One of those books on my reading list was Operating Instructions by Anne Lamott.  Read it if you are a new mom.

Anne Lamott and me at Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh, NC.

If you haven’t met Anne yet, let me introduce her.  Reader, this is Anne Lamott. She is a recovering alcoholic and addict, absurdly funny, and radically Democratic.  She is not afraid to speak her mind.  She writes as if in a confessional, and turns a phrase with the craftsmanship of a needlepoint artist.  Anne, this is my reader (feel free to introduce yourself to Anne in the comments — I’d love to know more about you).  You two should talk.

One of  the themes of my motherhood memoir is the fact that I was practicing Attachment Parenting without even knowing it.  AP is flexible and you can adapt the 8 principles to fit your family’s needs.  People are up in arms about AP and the recent Time magazine cover.  I really don’t understand all the hoopla and outrage, but the Mommy Wars are a real thing. I’m a lover, not a fighter.

Motherhood is beautiful, ugly, difficult, easy, complicated, simple, textured, smooth, heart-breaking, heart-pounding, and one of the most complex relationships.

My road to motherhood was not easy; I struggled with infertility, postpartum psychosis, postpartum depression,  breast feeding, co-sleeping, and anxiety.  As they say in the South, I was a hot mess.  The thing is, nobody really talks about how hard motherhood is.  In fact, it is a taboo subject.  I guess it easier to talk about the joys and blissful moments instead of talking about nipple scabs, cracked nipples, sleep deprivation, and all the other little dirty secrets mothers live through.

My little miracle. Hard to believe something as wonderful as being a mom can be so downright terrifying at times.

I remember calling my friend, Debra Elramey in tears saying, “Debi, my boobs hurt.”  My milk had just come in.  I was not told it would feel like the lower falls of Yellowstone were dammed in my breasts.  I was parked in the parking lot near the super strip mall and my husband was getting me a Subway sandwich.  I was trying to be strong, and the baby blues were coming on something fierce.  Ben was sleeping peacefully in the car seat, probably a week old.  Debi said, in a voice only a good friend can emulate, “Honey, you’re engorged,” she paused while I cried, then said, “you need to get a pump.”  I was like, “What is engorged?”

She explained the situation and what I needed to do. I got a free hand pump from the lactation consultant that spent ten minutes with me the next day.  She said, “Yep, you got this, you’re doing it right,”  as if I was some tick mark to check off on a list.  I wanted to call her out and say, “Lady, I think you are mistaken — I have no f#@&ing idea what I am doing! Please sit your a$$ back down on my couch and please don’t leave.”  Instead, I just kept a stiff upper lip until she left and then I cried.  My next call was to the La Leche League and that is a story for the memoir…

Historic Food Memoir — The Community Kitchen

My other book is a historic food memoir about women in the kitchen and history in the making.  It is about my great-grandmother’s (Elizabeth Hawley Odell) food business. The Community Kitchen started as a food conservation project in the basement of the Evanston’s Woman’s Club in the summer of 1918, during WWI.  Read this blog,  to find out more about it.  I am working on the book proposal for this book.  Two agents have expressed interest in this book already.  The history is incredible, as it spans 1918 – 1951.

The Community Kitchen store front (600 Davis Street, Evanston, Illinois)

My grandmother, Elizabeth Odell Welch, was an executive chef for Alice Foote MacDougal, Schrafft’s, Birdseye, and General Foods.  “In 1926, she joined the staff of Alice Foote MacDougal in the tea shop business in New York. Later she did experimental recipe work for Schrafft’s and before she returned to Evanston in 1947, she was on the staff of General Foods preparing foods for advertising photography.” – The Evanston Review — May 31, 1951

Juney was a 1930’s version of Peggy Olson from Mad Men.  In fact, she had the beauty, style, and sass of Joan, the sense of humor and charm of Roger, and the creative vision of Don.  She was a trailblazer.

My grandma, Juney (nickname), was something else! She was a Taurus, athletic, smart, sassy, and beautiful — honest and funny too.  She loved New York so much that when her husband bought a home in Long Island when they were newlyweds, she said, “Take it back! We’re going back to the city.”

She loved my sister, Kathleen and me dearly, as we were her only grandchildren. She adored her nieces, Mary Liz Price Hunt and Virginia Price Ware and her grandnieces, Harriet Hunt Brown and Mary Hunt Newcomb, and nephew, Lewis G Hunt.  She loved her daughter (my mom) more than anything in the world.

I know this story is powerful: women’s history, food history, American history, and most important — family history! Did I mention how excited I am about this project! I am the sieve of this story.

Please tell your foodie and history buff friends about it. Word of mouth is a powerful tool in marketing. I hope you enjoy following The Community Kitchen as it evolves.

The photo below is a photo of my grandma, Juney — isn’t she just something else?  She was the only grandparent I ever met.  She passed away when I was ten.

This is my grandmother; her nickname was Juney.

4.  Moving on, as I am rambling on.  I am thinking about self-publishing a lot lately.  I have the motherhood memoir written and am working on final editing.  To be or not to be.  That is the question. I do like the glamour of a publisher and agent from New York, but the more I read, the publishing process is not very glamorous.  My grandma was a New Yorker and my mother was a New Yorker.  There is something magical for a writer to think their manuscript is traveling like a tourist in New York.  I hope that both my books not only travel New York City, but become residents, ultimately securing a book deal and publishing contract.  For now, I am enjoying the cab ride, gazing up  at the tall skyscrapers of possibility with wonder filled eyes.

5.  Artist in the Schools and Writer-in-Residence

I was selected by the United Arts Council to be an Artist in the Schools and a writer-in-residence.  If you are a teacher in Wake and Johnston County (North Carolina), you can apply for a grant to bring me to your school to conduct residences and workshops on Poetry (The Bicyle of Poetry: Riding through the Senses), Memoir, Poetry Slams and Spoken Word,  Photography (A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words) and any other writing program.  I am more than happy to tailor it to meet your classroom needs.  Email me directly if you are interested.  Don’t worry, I can tone it down for the public school setting, as I was a teacher for thirteen years (Special Education, Elementary Education, Middle School, and Residential Treatment Center).  There is nothing more powerful and rewarding than helping children and teenagers find and hear their own voice.

6. Brain Tumor Thursday

I have a profile for Brain Tumor Thursday, which will be posted tomorrow.  It was submitted by a man named John. He was an archeologist and his profile is moving.  I don’t find these profiles sad, but then again, my mother has brain tumors and has lived with them for the last twelve years.  They were diagnosed in 2000; she most likely had them longer. Brain tumor survivors submit their profiles to me, using the template I created.  They fill in the blank:

I hope…

I wish…

I dream…

I am…

And then they can share their diagnosis, treatment, photos, and three things about themselves.

Well, I should be wrapping this post up.  I do have that photography deadline to meet. Have a great day.  I hope to see you here tomorrow for John’s post.  It is whimsical, funny, hopeful, and beautiful. The photos he submitted are quite magical.

Find me on Twitter (@memomuse1 or @600DavisSt).  You can find me on Facebook too (facebook.com/memomuse).  I would love to chit chat with you there.

I leave you with one more photo, as you have been reading a rather long post (thank you for reading the whole post, even though I said it would be short). If you click on the photo it will take you directly to the food memoir blog.  If you are interested in this book, read the about page, as the history is fascinating.

This is a photo of my great-grandmother. She is the woman on the far left. The three women pictures founded the Community Kitchen.

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So Much Depends…


Ben in Basinette (C) Sarah Turner - All Rights Reserved

The Red Wheelbarrow

William Carlos Williams

so much depends
upon

a red wheel
barrow

glazed with rain
water

beside the white
chickens.

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Poem written 2011

Sleeping Baby

Megan Oteri (memomuse)

So much depends

upon

A sleeping, happy

baby

Covered with

baby drool

Laying in

a basinette

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

“Blue Wheel Barrow” (c) Megan Oteri – All Rights Reserved

Light Sparkle

Megan Oteri (memomuse)

A circle of light pierced the room,

as if a sparkly star, pinned like a bull’s eye in Ben’s room,

has chosen his room to shine

Both of us lying down for nap time, my son twisted and continued to play

while my eyes

danced like merry-go-round

The intensity of this small luminary

on the periwinkle blue of his room wall

moved me

I stayed still though

engaged in this tiny fractured moment

this light still shines in memory

Poem (Light Sparkle) written 4/3/12

"Light" (c) Sarah Turner - All Rights Reserved

This is a photo of my son at ten days old. A good friend and wonderful photographer took these photos. Her website is http://www.sturnerphotos.com.  She is very reasonable and great to work with.  This photo appeared in Natural Living magazine with an article about home birth written by my good friend, Debi Elramey.  You can read all her wonderful writing at her blog, Pure and Simple.  You can also read the article, The Gentle Art of Birthing at Home and see my son’s magazine debut.

My friend, Debi is a writer and poet.  I just adore her.  She lifts my spirit and gives me comfort.  Some people are just walking poems.  She not only walks, she dances as a poem.  Who is your writer comfort friend?  Who in your life is your walking, breathing, dancing poem?

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

What image has struck your fancy today?  That could be the kernel of a poem.  Write about it and post it in the comments (if you’d like to share).

Or fill in the blank  — “So much depends…”

I will fill in mine:  So much depends upon a happy toddler engaged in an activity!

Happy National Poetry Month.

If you live in Wilson or near by, come on down to the Teen Poetry Slam at the Wilson Public Library today, April 3.  It starts at 7 pm and snacks and refreshments will be served.  Food and poetry — what more do you need!  I am a judge for the slam.  I think poetry is a great way to give teenagers a voice for expression.  They have so much to say.  Come on down and listen tonight! Here is the website for the Wilson Public Library.

Come on Irene


There is a certain easiness to living life off the grid.  The power is out as Hurricane Irene charges up against the coastline of North Carolina.  This certain easiness is highlighted with a quiet and peacefulness that comes when you are forced to turn off all electric devices.

I am in fact typing this on my laptop with the remaining charge that is left on it. 

Photo by Mama

My son is napping on the bed, with the freshly washed and dried white down comforter I was smart enough to wash and dry last night when electricity and modern conveniences, such as washers and dryers were ticking away with the midnight oil.  His body rests so peacefully.  My milk, his muse, for sweet mid-morning nap dreams.  His arms are outstretched and his calm poise pushes me up against this thick line of beauty. 

I wonder what his adulthood will be like, as he perhaps types an essay on what kind of electronic device. Perhaps it will type itself when his son is sleeping and he is watching peaceful as a parent.

I wonder will there even be energy and what kind.  Mother Nature, what will she have destroyed and what will she have restored.  The wind howls above me in my home. 

my porch - do you see the lizard in the negative space. those them lizards have been here weathering many storms since 1880

The sturdy wood of my historic home has been here since 1880 and has weathered many storms.  I wonder where my son will be when he is my age, 37, in the deep forest of adulthood, stained with poopy diapers, messy floors, and chaotic schedules that just don’t allow for scheduled order.

As I embrace motherhood today, I feel the warm arms of Mother Nature comfort me, and I acknowledge my own struggle. And accept that life does have its storms, just as nature does.

But today, there is peace. Peace as I watch Benjamin sleep and make tiny fairy movements with his toes, as if they are dancing in their own electric storm of beauty.  I am comforted that the fridge is full and food is ready.  My husband cooked lots of spaghetti, mac and cheese for Ben and a chicken marinara sauce so delicious you wouldn’t mind eating it cold.

Life off the grid seems appealing right now.  I hung the wet laundry, damp and stagnant from loss of power in the dryer.  I felt powerful and resourceful that I could get the days chores done without power, without the electric churn of modern conveniences such as vacuums and blenders and stoves.

My family, my power

I have the power of family: my husband, son, myself and two dogs, warming this house absent of artificial light.  The curtains are all open and natural light streams in.  Opening another view to reflect on my life.  Windows are open to allow the heavy, fast, surging breeze (if you can call it that – more like vortex sucking wind gusts but it does indeed whisk a breeze through the house).  A sound and movement like teams of witches on brooms, magical in their delighted fury. 

I sit here and pause.  Elegant in my own reflection, illuminated by my own mother muse: Mother Nature and her daughter Irene.