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Francine Graff, MH Columnist


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Lily Williams, Movie Reviewer


The latest on unconditional love 

When a Parent’s ‘I Love You’ Means ‘Do as I Say’

Don't miss this article in the New York Times. What am I supposed to do about all of the time-outs I gave my kids? Another dollar in the therapy fund jar!


“I never drank before I have kids”

Dear Mothering Heights,

As a stay at home Mom, just how early can I start drinking?

Laguna Beach, CA

Dear Francesca,

It depends on whom you ask. Jimmy Buffett sings, “It’s five o’clock somewhere” while comedian Stephen Wright asks, “24 hours in a day, 24 beers in a case. Coincidence?” When I polled my girlfriends, one confessed that she often starts her day with a coffee and Bailey’s Irish Cream. Another friend shared, “I never drank before I had kids. Now I don’t want kids and drink every day.”  But let’s face it, the whole Mommy drinking thing isn’t funny anymore. Ever since the Long Island mom high on pot and vodka had a horrific accident killing her and family members, I have been put off mommy cocktail humor. Even the author and queen of mommy drinking, Stefanie Wilder-Taylor (Naptime is the New Happy Hour), has given up drinking. How early is too early? No drinking and driving and when you are responsible for other people’s kids. Put the kids to bed early, and enjoy a cocktail in the peace and quiet of bedtime.


Dreaming of a children's book: Advice from Todd Parr

Dear Mothering Heights,

I have an idea for a children's book inspired by a dream my daughter had. I don't have a clue how you start doing this and then get something published.  Do you know how I can learn more about this?

Los Angeles, CA

Dear Lucy,

I love that you are honoring your daughter’s dream by turning it into a book. Since I have no idea about the children’s book industry, I contacted Todd Parr, one of my favorite children’s authors, who just launched Planet Color, a line of toddler clothing at Nordstrom’s.

“Start by creating a few pages of what you want the book to look like and then an outline. Consider if self-publishing is right for you.  At the same time, try to find a literary agent. (There are several resources on the web to help you find an agent.) Consider other creative ways to get your story or characters noticed. In my case, I was having a difficult time exhibiting my original artwork in the galleries and decided to approach restaurants. That worked, eventually leading me down the path to children's publishing. Getting your work seen or published is not easy, and you'll want to give up. Remember you never know where your path will lead you.”

Good luck, Lucy with your creative adventure.


Relighting the Burnt Out Mom

Dear Mothering Heights,

It is the end of summer and I am burnt out. What is a mom to do?

Los Angeles, CA

Dear Lee,

I hear your call for self-care. We all need it after a long hot summer of theme parks, water fights, and in our case, the camp spread flu virus. (Thank you to the mom who sent her kid with the 102 fever.) For in-home care, I would recommend some DVD babysitting with one of these just-released flicks:  Hannah Montana: The Movie, Race to Witch Mountain, or Pete’s Dragon. After the kiddies are situated, find a quiet corner away from housekeeping chaos and cuddle up with The Passion of the Hausfrau: Motherhood Illuminated (Villard, $22). I laughed so hard reading this masterpiece that I almost fell out of bed. Once the kids are in school, try the Intro to Pole class at OC Pole Fitness ( I did it this summer and had a blast. There is nothing to make you smile like twirling around a pole. The work out was also quite intense. The owners Collette and Natalie make it not only fun, but also worthwhile for your butt and abs. Finally, schedule a cocktail with your girlfriends to regenerate your mojo. Celebrity gossip, laugh and even sing. Just make sure you don’t start too early. Nothing like a hangover to put a buzz kill on the joy of back-to-school days.

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