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.

Monday Museletter May 14 – Drowning


I feel like I am drowning in the realities of being a stay-at-home mom to a two year-old.  I can’t get anything done, except clean the house when I am motivated enough.  I wish I could stop the chatter in my head and the CONSTANT need to achieve, but I can’t.  Writing keeps me alive inside. Otherwise, I just am a mom. It is not enough.  I am mom enough though.  I want an agent to sweep in and hold my hand through the writing process. As if an fairy godmother agent will fly through my window and offer child-care (of course on the dime of the agency), pay me a big ripe advance, and then here is the kicker — the agent will ask me what other projects are you working on?

Seriously.

I know.  Too bad I can’t afford therapy, otherwise, I’d be there right now.  So, here I am at my free therapy — writing on my blog.

I worry that an agent will read this post and say, “Too high maintenance.”  I am so sick of trying to impress someone I have never met. In fact, I am sick of trying to impress people I don’t even know.  Geez.  How about trying to impress the people I do know, like my own son.  Today, I am leaving an impression of exhaustion on him.  I managed to deep clean the living room and it is the only clean room in the house.

Elmo is singing about imagination.  My imagination is on vacation.  She bought a one-way ticket outta my mind after I got an email from an agent that is not interested in reading my collection of essays about the first year and half of motherhood, which is a collection of journal entries and essays, coupled with anecdotal Attachment Parenting information.  I am an Attached Parent, aren’t we all attached.

The recent cover of Time magazine has everyone is a sh$tstorm.  Enough of the clotheslining and headbutts.  I saw this posted and thought it was well put:

“API Advisory Board Member Isabelle Fox puts it so well.
The question should not be, “Are You Mom Enough?” The questions should be:-Are you responsively parenting your child in a timely way?
-Are you attuned to his or her individual needs?
-Are you providing a safe, protected and predictable environment?
-Do you understand and respond to the developmental differences between infants, toddlers and older verbal children?
-Are you available and empathetic when your child needs you or is under stress?If the answer is “yes” to these questions, you are practicing attachment parenting. You can reasonably expect that your child will become emotionally secure, will be able to give and receive affection, and will lead a productive and successful life.

~Isabelle Fox, Ph.D., author of “Growing Up: Attachment Parenting from Kindergarten to College”

I don’t even care about the cover or what people are saying.  It just doesn’t interest me anymore.  Well, maybe it does, as I am trying to jump on the opportunity of the media storm to let agents know, “Hay, I have a thesis all about Attachment Parenting, from the trenches of motherhood.”  I didn’t even know I was practicing Attachment Parenting until I posted an essay I wrote in a mom forum, trying to get enough clicks on this essay, Love is Not Always Flood Lights and Fireworks, But Sometimes It Is, at Mamalode to get $30.  The Executive Director of Attachment Parenting told me to submit the essay to the Attachment Parenting International website.  I’ve been a regular contributor for API Speaks ever since.

I was asked to write a post on motherhood for the API Speak blog, well before the Time cover came out.   Mother: I Was Desperate for the Title was posted on Mother’s Day.

I thought, yippee — instant fame.  Well, it got some attention, but the phone isn’t ringing off the hook.  Remember in the movie, Julie and Julia when the agents and publishers call her after she is put in an article in The New York Times?  I want that to happen to me.  But I want them to call and tell me, “We will help you with the editing and organizing of your book.”

I know — head in the clouds.

Photo by Megan Oteri © All Rights Reserved

Anyway, I’m exhausted from motherhood, and life, that I just am not finding the balance I need to write a novel.  I hate this.  I am burning inside to write.  But the chatter in my head gets in my way.  And the fact I can never find any of my notebooks because my toddler grabs them and hides them.  I didn’t understand when my mom told me I used to hide her valuable jewelry because I would wrap it up and lose it in the process of wanting to give her presents.  I was like, How could you lose track of valuable jewelry?  I think the term two year-old toddler has to be learned by experience.

Blah blah blah.  I don’t even know if I want to post this as I feel like I sound like a whiner.  Then again, here I am trying to impress people I don’t know.

I met several deadlines in the past couple weekends.  Two of them were the API Speaks blog post about Motherhood and a food review I did for Dassant at Grocery.com: Dassant Vanilla Bean Cake.

I know part of the writing process is dealing with the rejections from agents and publishers, but it stinks.  I did see this quote today that shed some light and I have to reread it every ten minutes. ha ha

“One must avoid ambition in order to write. Otherwise something else is the goal: some kind of power beyond the power of language. And the power of language, it seems to me, is the only kind of power a writer is entitled to.” – Cynthia Ozick
She also said, “The engineering is secondary to the vision.”  That particular quote makes me think of my book project, The Original Journal, where I ask random people and strangers to sign my journal.  I want to create a website that mimics actually signing a real journal with pens, markers, crayons, and paint.  I just don’t have the Graphic Design or web skills to create it.  SO if you are a graphic designer, and you want to design the website pro bono, give me a shout. I am putting it out there in hopes the magic will come.  “If you dream it, you can achieve it.” Didn’t Walt Disney say that?

The Original Journals — filled with signatures of “Original Journal” signers
© Megan Oteri – All Rights Reserved

The thing about The Original Journal is that if it gets published or a left brain fairy comes to my rescue (to create the graphic design elements needed with the hand written signatures and to create the website where you can turn the pages and write in the journal) I am going to set up a foundation to benefit artists, creatives, and eco-activists that will help people get their “wish” granted to make their dreams come true.  So many artists struggle with the publishing process because of the left brain skills that are needed (marketing, computer skills, and all that razmataz).

I’d love to have the resources to be a fairy godmother to artists and creatives. The world needs creativity and it is not being fostered in school as it should be.  It is the foundation for brilliance.

Anyway, that my Monday Muse.  I hope you are having a good day.  I actually am feeling like I am doggie paddling now because I fired out another query letter to an agent, pitching my Attachment Parenting memoir of motherhood (the first year and half).  It is actually my thesis I wrote in grad school.  Of course (this is for agents trolling my blog) it would include more than just the first year and half.

This is me and my favorite horse.