Friday, April 29, 2005


Adventures with Ann

Yesterday, I was lucky enough to meet someone in person whom I feel like I have already been friends with a long time. I met Ann Douglas, famous (and infamous?) Canadian parenting expert, writing mentor and blogging queen, and let me start out by assuring you she is even sweeter in person than she seems in her books and blog. Hard to believe, isn't it?

My account could never be as exciting or detailed as Marla's story of her meeting with Ann in Toronto, although I think it would be a good contest to see which one of us could outlast the other for sheer verbosity some day!

Ann was giving her talk about four ways to help improve kids' health at a local Chapters store. I managed to get there a little bit early, and found Ann already looking poised and relaxed in the lecture area, chatting with some official looking people who I later found out are her "handlers". Hmmm, I could use some handlers in my life!

Just as I was about to approach her, I got a case of the shys, but Ann's quick smile and friendly hug put me right at ease. That, and she had a "present" for me - my free autographed Mother of All Parenting Books, plus lovely smelly bath salts and soap, that I won from my entry in her parents in the movies contest. I love presents! We chatted for a few minutes, but I figured I'd best stop completely monopolizing her time when a local TV news crew showed up and started setting up.

I met up with a couple of girlfriends (Hi Robin! Hi Anna! Hi Sharon!) and we settled in to hear Ann's lecture. She spoke about things you can do to help tip the health roulette wheel in your kids' favour - good nutrition, including family dinners together; regular exercise; practice good handwashing techniques; and, consider getting the recommended immunizations for your kids. (See Ann, I was paying attention!)

Here she is doing the Q and A portion of her lecture. Doesn't she look professional? She's a great speaker by the way, if you don't mind the fact that she gets distracted by cute babies (don't we all?)

The aforementioned news crew filmed most of the talk and the Qs and As. My not-so-subtle friend Robin kept poking me during the Qs and As, encouraging me to ask a question so the camera would turn our way and she could lean in and be on TV. Which I did, because I am such a good friend.

When I later related this story to Beloved, he was amazed that I in fact needed to be goaded on this. He said he was surprised I wasn't standing on my chair waving to get the camera's attention, thrusting my travel-sized photo album of the boys toward the lens. I am thinking maybe I am getting the reputation of being a little bit of a media whore. I'm going to have to work on that.

Here's a nice picture of Ann and me together that Robin took.

It was really great having the opportunity to meet Ann in person, and of course to collect my free stuff! I have a small collection of autographed Canadian literature, so Ann will take her rightful space on my shelf along with Douglas Coupland, Mordechai Richler, Margaret Atwood and others.

I was reading the first few pages of The Mother of All Parenting Books as I waited for Beloved earlier this afternoon, and having just chatted with Ann in person I was blown away by how well the books capture her voice exactly. I think that's what I've enjoyed about all the "Mother of All..." books - the friendly voice that makes it seem more tips and thoughts from your sister or best friend than pedagogic lectures from a self-important expert.

Thanks, Ann! I hope you enjoyed your brief visit in the nation's capital, and I hope you make it back this way soon!