Using The Internet To Find Balance

At a recent conference, I met a young woman who didn't have kids. She works at a public relations company and her card indicated she was an expert in "social media," a fancy word for...blogging, Twittering, IM-ing and chatting online.

"When I have kids," she said. "It will be so different from my mom's experience. I'll just be able to Google 'how to get rid of diaper rash' at 1 a.m. and have thousands of other moms' advice at my fingertips."

How right she is. The Internet has radically changed parenthood. Access to health information, practical advice and emotional support has dramatically reduced the isolation that most new mothers and fathers, whether we work or stay home, often feel.

For me, of course, my favorite online support site is right here. In addition to regular doses of criticism (not necessarily a bad thing), On Balance has given me dozens, and sometimes hundreds, of faceless friends, teachers, mentors and proteges. I'm never alone in my ongoing struggle to balance working, raising a family, and keeping my sanity.This community has proven more valuable to me than I ever could have imagined two years ago when this blog got going.

Beyond On Balance, the range of online support is impressive. Within seconds, you can link into thousands of working moms via Mommy Track'D Survival Kit or Worst Working Mom Moments. You can compare pregnancy notes with other moms who share your due date via Baby Center. When the pediatrician's office is closed you can find facts about common health problems at Revolution Health. Without leaving the crib you can get politically active at Moms Rising or save hours driving and shopping by buying everything from car seats to groceries online. There's even a place where you can write your own sitcom about motherhood. There are conferences now, like BlogHer and the At-Home Dads Convention, for mommy bloggers, daddy bloggers and others who have used the Internet as a lifeline to parental sanity, and even a bridge to a new, more family-friendly career.

This is definitely not our mothers' or fathers' version of parenthood.

How has the Internet helped you feel less alone as a parent? What are your favorite Mommy (or Daddy) sites, blogs and other virtual support groups? Does the Internet help you be a better parent or a happier parent? Why or why not?

By Leslie Morgan Steiner |  April 25, 2008; 8:00 AM ET  | Category:  Free-for-All
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Most of the time, I don't need it -- my SIL has a daughter a year older than my girl, and she is the research queen, so when I need to know what carseat to buy and that sort of thing, I just call her. :-)

But I do like having a resource when I run across more unusual problems. When I was worried about some issues my girl is having in school, I thought I'd have to go to North Carolina to have some testing done at a place I know of there, but found out through the internet that Hopkins does just what I was looking for.

My favorite was the night my boy was struggling to breathe and we took him to the emergency room: the nurse said it wasn't wheezing, it was "strider"; I had zero clue what that was, but my husband whipped out the blackberry, and before she even got back, he had found out what it was, discovered that it was a symptom of croup, and read about the treatment. So we went from huge scary fear to clearly-defined problem with easy treatment, in 2 minutes flat.

Posted by: Laura | April 25, 2008 8:25 AM

Laura -- didn't it bug you that the nurse, who was there in person, didn't tell you what "strider" meant, and you had to use a Blackberry? Isn't a full explanation the least you get after the hassle of an ER trip?

Posted by: Arlington Dad | April 25, 2008 8:45 AM

Ah, Leslie we knew you loved us! ;-)

Even as childless person, the internet does aid in balance - it saves tons of time on every day tasks. Mmy personal fave of late was using CVS online refill system and picking it up at the 24-hour pharmacy before work the next morning. This blog and others have given me lots of good tips and information.

Posted by: Product of a Working Mother | April 25, 2008 8:51 AM

I'm very active on one BabyCenter thread. We send pictures and Christmas cards and ask for advice and vent. It's very personal. Those are my online "friends." Even if we lived close, we would probably never be friends in real life, and it's really nice to have perspectives from such different people. Amazingly, there is never any drama, and we've had no fall-outs. It's no On Balance blog!

And, of course, the internet's a huge resource.

We still call my husband's sister, though. She's had 4 kids and seen it all, and her husband is a physician. I LOVE THEM! She's also my source for books. If she loves it, I'm going to love it. I just finished 'The Time Traveler's Wife' and 'A Thousand Splendid Suns.'

Posted by: atb | April 25, 2008 8:51 AM

Arlington Dad -- sorry, guess I wasn't clear. Basically, they rushed us back, she took one listen, said "strider," and ran off to make the calls to get someone to take us back, page the doctor, etc. So no, I wasn't upset -- I was just glad they were taking care of him! She got back about 2 minutes later, and explained everything then. Which was why I thought it was funny -- because in that teensy little break, we went from clueless to knowing the complete diagnosis and treatment. But we absolutely did get a full explanation and all our questions answered before we left.

Posted by: Laura | April 25, 2008 9:03 AM

Laura -- gotcha! Two minutes is a loooong time when you've got a sick kid and a scary-sounding term lingering there. Glad the Blackberry and the nurse took good care of you!

ATB -- I thought "Time Traveler's Wife" was stunning. I hear the movie is in production -- but how can it match the book?!

Posted by: Arlington Dad | April 25, 2008 9:10 AM

Always remember that there are quack sites (& worse) on the Internet too. Don't automatically assume that just because advice & claims are posted that they must be true. This is especially true for medical quacks, where the results could be potentially tragic for your child if you follow bogus claims.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 25, 2008 9:15 AM


quack sites (& worse) on the Internet

Not only are there 'true-believers' but those out to fleece unsuspecting people at their most vulnerable times.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 25, 2008 9:34 AM

I think it's a double-edged sword. There is definitely a lot of good information for parents on line. At the same time, there also seems to be an attitude of looking down on people who don't do things the "right" way. If a person isn't careful, it can really make them feel like a crappy parent (especially new parents) because they aren't perfect. The best way I can describe the attitude is "smarmy".

Posted by: Anonymous | April 25, 2008 9:36 AM

The internet has absolutely changed everything. I use it for many things but my favorite has to be online bill pay and account checking. I've even been able to use it to stop the stress after getting one of those D.C. camera tickets! I was fretting that I might have 30 more but I was able to go online, enter my license plate and be calmed instantly. The only problem I have is now I'm sure I have 15 active diseases that I never even knew existed! :) The anonymous person who said not to take it all seriously is definitely right. I once based a school project on erroneous information I found on a website I thought was legit. The internet has its balance too.

Posted by: FloridaChick | April 25, 2008 9:37 AM

Arlington Dad- I hope they don't try to make it all sci-fi. Sure, there's a bit of "science" in it and to it, but it's such a lovely drama.

Posted by: atb | April 25, 2008 9:38 AM

My favorite:

It was started by graduate students in computer science at UC-Berkeley, but it now has 10 years of archived advice (from all sorts of people who leave near that university), and it's a useful general reference

Posted by: E | April 25, 2008 9:40 AM

Nice meeting you at the Camp Baby event.

Beyond adivce and support from the Internets, I've made real-life friends. Blogging has opened my world so much- new friends, travel and even business opportunities.

I will admit, though, sometimes I feel like my online life takes aways from my everday existence. It's all about balance, right?

Posted by: Kim/hormone-colored days | April 25, 2008 9:44 AM

Indeed, one must really pay very careful attention to the source when taking internet advice, especially when it relates to health. There are lots of uninformed folks out there passing off bad advice. Having said that, the internet has been a great tool for parenting for me. A favorite site of mine is Parent Hacks, which always has a useful tip or trick. And when my son was diagnosed prenatally with a kidney condition, I found an online group of parents who had been through the same diagnosis - their combined experiences were invaluable in calming me down and letting me know what to expect.

Posted by: Jill in NC | April 25, 2008 9:45 AM has been invaluable to me. I'm a breastfeeding mom, and didn't have a ton of resources to draw from. The women there are fantastic.

I also rely on the Internet to get all the errands done that I can no longer get to now that I have a baby.

Oddly, the most helpful resource for me when I was home on Maternity leave was Facebook. It helped me keep my sanity. I could get on there and reconnect with old friends, or just serf around. Five minutes on facebook was all I needed to feel like I was part of the world again.

Posted by: h | April 25, 2008 9:48 AM

My favorite blog is:

Moxie does a lot of parenting questions and some other things, like book reviews.

Posted by: michelle | April 25, 2008 9:55 AM

my favorite is It is a good site with information about how to get your mojo back after having a child.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 25, 2008 10:05 AM

Gee, I always thought is where are the answers are!

(or was that

Posted by: Fred | April 25, 2008 10:11 AM

FYI: "strider" is really STRIDOR, and is indicative of extreme swelling in the upper airway, especially the epiglottis and vocal cords. If your child has stridor, call 911, and do not try to transport the child to the ED on your own. And I'm not the nurse who gave you whatever advice you got about it previously.

Posted by: babsy1 | April 25, 2008 10:23 AM

So last summer a friend tells me I need to learn about blogging. I get a book out of the library and it introduces this radical notion that blogging is about creating *communities* so I figure from this I should do more than lurk; I should participate. And since blogging is potentially relevant in my professional field and I can't risk making statements that would impact my job, I decide to pick a blog that's completely unrelated to my work to make my first foray.

Jump ahead to now. I've been posting and reading On Balance since last summer and hey, I think I get it! This is fun and I love hearing from the same people and beginning to get a picture of who they are in my mind. Gosh, I'm gettin' fond of y'all. So thanks Leslie. I still justify doing this on slow days at work by saying it's *research!*

Posted by: anne | April 25, 2008 10:35 AM

Capitol Hill has a fabulous yahoo group-- MOTH. Use it constantly.

I used to enjoy dcurbanmoms, but yahoo won't let me receive it anymore and I haven't gotten around to updating.

It wasn't nearly as helpful as MOTH though-- with MOTH you know the people are close by so the free baby items are a breeze to pick up, etc. also knowing that the posters really could be our next door neighbor I think keeps the snide comments to a minimum.

Posted by: capitol parent | April 25, 2008 10:35 AM

Yep, Babsy1, we learned that the hard way, after our pediatrician diagnosed him as having a "viral infection that will clear up on its own in a few days," nothing to worry about. After 5 days of listening to his breathing getting worse and worse -- including a repeat doctor's visit where we were told the same thing, and 2 calls to the nurse line -- I finally pulled out the mom card and said screw it and took him to urgent care, where they took one look and sent us to the ER, even calling ahead to let them know to expect us. Where, luckily, he was treated within minutes (fastest intake I've ever seen), and responded immediately -- as in, within 5 minutes on the nebulizer, it was gone and he was sacked out.

This also shows the limits of the internet -- because the doctor never mentioned the magic words (e.g., croup, stridor), I wasn't looking for the right things. I thought it was wheezing, so I was doing all the stuff my mom used to do when I had pneumonia as a kid -- hot, steamy bathrooms, expectorants, etc. All of which are precisely WRONG for stridor. If the doc had even mentioned the word "croup" -- even if he didn't tell me specific treatments -- I'd have been able to look it up myself, and saved us all a lot of trouble.

As you can tell, that particular piece of medical advice is still a pretty sore subject with me.

Posted by: Laura | April 25, 2008 10:44 AM

I find the internet good for everyday tasks. Ordering birthday presents (Amazon) and responding to birthday party/party date invitations.

I also can look at web sites either late at night or early in the morning for fun things for her to do. I also keep in touch with the elementary and religious school events via the web. If I want to volunteer I RSVP if I don't I don't respond.

Posted by: shdd | April 25, 2008 10:44 AM

I find it a blessing and a curse. Being able to look information up is great, and getting used items on craigslist or eBay is a score.

But at one point during a particularly err, neurotic phase I found myself sitting on the 'net researching the best toy, and my son was playing with wooden spoons next to me. Hello? I and my kitchen were my son's best toy right then.

So I have been trying to get off the information junkie train and breathe and just raise my child in the sunlight. Not easy when a lot of my job is on the info junkie train. :-)

Best sites besides those above, for me:

kellymom for breastfeeding, hands down
Ask Moxie for best community
Parent Hacks, definitely
Mothering Dot Com for weirdest look into the things that worry some people (and a nice community too)
Dr. Sears & a few other sites that come up when you type in 'croup' :-)

Posted by: Shandra | April 25, 2008 10:44 AM

I have found internet parenting/childcare sites a mixed bag. Definitely good for find fast answers to many questions. But, I have really tuned out many of the sites in recent months (as in not visiting at all) b/c I found the folks on many of the boards -and one in particular- to be very, very nasty. People telling each other to "get cancer and die" -yes, that was quote- and people being sooo judgmental and vicious. Usually, this stems from simple differences of opinion re: hot button topics daycare/stay at home, breast feed/ bottle feed, attachment parenting/"cry it out" folks . . . even minor topics escalate out of control sometime. (One the one site, some of the things I've read make the nasty comments you see here appear to be child's play).

The best, imo, site is the Ask Moxie blog. The parents are usually very respectful -even with differencnes of opinions- and it is a great way to get support and just share experiences on a variety of topics. Highly recommend.

Posted by: Jen | April 25, 2008 11:22 AM

I like and - particularly when my kids have an unexplained rash or minor medical issue and I'm trying to get some more info - or trying to figure out when a fever is high enough to call the doctor.

Posted by: Cat | April 25, 2008 11:29 AM

The best use of the Internet is to expand your knowledge of your options, of different approaches, beyond:

the way you were raised;
the way your spouse was raised;
the way your sister, next-door neighbor and best friends were raised; and
the way your priest, counselor, therapist, parents or minister advise you to raise your kids.

It is quite freeing to know that you don't have to repeat the approach of your parents or your community on the next generation -- that there are other ways of raising your kids, organizing your time, and other value systems you can test out. With great knowledge comes a great responsibility because you can no longer chalk your mistakes up to, "I didn't know any better."

Posted by: Anonymous | April 25, 2008 11:50 AM

Its also a good place to find porn!

Posted by: Anonymous | April 25, 2008 12:35 PM

I am a SAHM in an area without many of them. The internet and listening to NPR gives me adult time in the midst of debating which Sandra Boyington book is the best and trying to persuade my kids (yet again) to eat their fruits and vegetables.

Posted by: SAHM | April 25, 2008 12:57 PM

Fred, Fred naughty boy you, picking on ArmyBrat like that. Well, I never....he he he

On topic: I nominate this blog. I like reading this blog to catch up with what concerns people. I'm continually amazed at how little things really change over time. What concerned me and mine 20 years ago still is a concern. As a corrolary, people seem to keep having to relearn the same thing over and over again because they don't want to hear a possible solution requiring a compromise. So maybe I'm really fascinated by the virtual trainwrecks here on OB? Nah, I've learned to value the opinions of people I've never met simply because of their very reasonableness. You know who you are out there, don't you?

Posted by: dotted | April 25, 2008 1:03 PM

Jealous because you did think of it first?


Posted by: Fred | April 25, 2008 1:06 PM

Fred, of course! But I do like AB's answers. They're on target. He takes it and dishes it out well. Where are you AB?

Posted by: dotted | April 25, 2008 1:09 PM

When I found out my nephews were sick yesterday, I was able to pull up dozens of different types of get well presents/gift baskets/balloon bouquets and price compare amongst all of them with shipping information and be able to get it to them that same day.

Specially when you're half a country away, having instant quick access can be very useful.

Posted by: Liz D | April 25, 2008 1:10 PM

Oh and I'll also point out this is another "only above a certain lifestyle level" issue. Only people with a fair amount of leisure time and money can learn and enjoy using the internet on a regular basis.

Posted by: Liz D | April 25, 2008 1:11 PM

what dotted said.

Liz D - typically, I'm with you in recognizing and highlighting economic disparities, but even consumer protection advocates and governmental agencies now take the position that the Internet is available to almost everyone. Sure, library access and access through friends and family might not be AS constant and/or easy for some as it is for others, but it doesn't take long to Google stridor or "getting babies to sleep through the night". Any disparity in Internet access and enjoyment is, at this point, a disparity between folks under and over 60 rather than a disparity between the haves and the have-nots.

Posted by: MN | April 25, 2008 1:19 PM

You know how Discovery is having Alaska week and NBC green week? Well on OB, this is dump on AB week!

(I am just glad that AB did not go to my most hated school, USC. The one in California!)

Posted by: Fred | April 25, 2008 1:20 PM

I'm heartened that it's moved on from dump on atlmom week . . .

Posted by: MN | April 25, 2008 1:21 PM

Liz D.

I was also going to point out that most anyone who wants it can have internet access on a regular basis. The public libraries in New Orleans and surrounding communities have access. Many people have access thru their employers as well as those who borrow from their friends, neighbors etc. Most kids down here have access thru their schools.

They may not have 24 hr access with a high speed line like I do but they have access.

Hey, this morning, even Frieda, yes you heard that right, Frieda was looking at children's books on Amazon.

Posted by: Fred | April 25, 2008 1:27 PM

(I am just glad that AB did not go to my most hated school, USC. The one in California!)

Whew! Glad you specified the one in California, Fred. Otherwise, I'd have to sic my baby brother up in Baton Rouge on you. He's a die-hard Gamecock! :)

Posted by: Lynne | April 25, 2008 2:00 PM

Frieda the luddite looking up books on amazon...the world is moving on in unimagined ways

Posted by: dotted | April 25, 2008 2:02 PM

Well Lynne,

AF dau is currently stationed in So. Carolina and we hope to visit that beautiful state soon!

And note that I am fine with Southern California, having lived there many years, just not the University thereof!

Posted by: Fred | April 25, 2008 2:06 PM

Oh, I'm here. It's just that sometimes that "work/life balance" thing sometimes tilts in the direction of! (shudder!)

"Dump on AB week?" Hah - I can take it. It's just a matter of cobbling together a couple of scripts to pre-process the blog so that the offensive stuff never shows up on my screen. Like I used to do when the b-person used to be here.

Fred, that's pronounced as the "University of Spoiled Children" (or so sayeth my friend, from UCLA).

And I agree that this blog can be very useful - in addition to communicating with neat people, I learn things. The other day, when the Anonymous Coward posted the diatribe about husbands having no input into breast vs. bottle, I figured he was probably mostly right. I was surprised at the number of women who posted otherwise. Interesting to learn!

Posted by: ArmyBrat | April 25, 2008 2:19 PM

"pay your registration fee and get your SC degree. dadadadot, dadadadot!"

I am just sorry that I cannot find the rest of the "real" USC fight song!

One of my fond college memories was being in the Coliseum and watching UCLA defeat USC that year!

Posted by: Fred | April 25, 2008 2:25 PM

Fred, I've forgotten where AF bases are in SC since Donaldson closed down a long time ago (it was in Greenville). Is she at Shaw? (Sumter) Regardless, have a wonderful time. You've missed the azaleas by now, I'm pretty sure, but it's still a nice time of year there. And while you are there, hop over to Columbia and check out USC. :)

Posted by: Lynne | April 25, 2008 2:54 PM

Hi y'all.

I use Revolution a lot -- just to get basic info on stuff like exercise-induced asthma, which my son has, and advice on how to get rid of warts the size of cucumbers on an un-named child's foot. Also helpful to address a little snoring problem...Found it to be good.

Also just went to the DC gov website to get a rat inspector to come check out the garbage on our street. Free and took three minutes. Gotta love it.

I love a bunch of mommy support sites, like Mommy Trak'd and Baby Center and Urban Baby and DC Moms and even ones that are not mom-specific but women-central like

And I would could not, would not be a mom if I couldn't shop online. It saves so much time and aggravation. I think "shopping with mom" is code for "torture small children."

I disagree with the comment disparaging the internet because only moms in a certain income bracket can make use of it. The more people use it, the more accessible it becomes, and it provides a ton of invaluable information for free. The internet is actually a great equalizer in many, many ways. So click away!

Posted by: Leslie | April 25, 2008 3:00 PM

"pay your registration fee and get your SC degree. dadadadot, dadadadot!"

Aren't you thinking of Gov. Manchin's daughter, who got her EMBA that way at WVU, and now has to give it back? Her boss is WVU's biggest donor, just to thicken the plot.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 25, 2008 3:06 PM


The internet is actually a great equalizer in many, many ways.

What do you think about protecting Net neutrality?

Posted by: Anonymous | April 25, 2008 3:08 PM


Never heard of Donaldson. Not even my brother who was stationed at Shaw in the early 1970's knew of it. But Wiki filled in the info. Donaldson closed in 1963.

AF dau is at Charleston.

Posted by: Fred | April 25, 2008 3:09 PM

Charleston! That is the showplace of South Carolina! (Yes, yes, there are other gorgeous places, too. I grew up in North Augusta, which I think is nice, but Charleston is fabulous!)

You will enjoy Charleston, especially since you live in New Orleans. It has charm, just as the Big Easy does, and food that will definitely please the palate. "South of Broad" is the historic area with the old homes and secret gardens, so I hope you get a chance to visit that area. Friday afternoons the Citadel used to have a parade march on the grounds and it was open to the public. Gardens are lovely, beaches nice, etc., etc. Have a great time!

Thanks for finding the closing date for Donaldson--I thought that it was around the time I finished high school, so you confirmed it.

Posted by: Lynne | April 25, 2008 3:21 PM

Lynne, does Charleston still have the Spoleto Festival?

Posted by: Anonymous | April 25, 2008 3:28 PM


I am SURE that you are still quite youthful but gee I though that I was about the (chronologically) oldest person around these here parts!

Posted by: Fred | April 25, 2008 3:30 PM

BTW, today is the first day of Jazz Fest here in N.O.

Posted by: Fred | April 25, 2008 3:31 PM

The last I heard, Charleston was still having the Spoleto Festival. I just "googled" it and found that this year it is May 23-June 8. Go to to find out what's happening.

Fred, I'm a geezer. There, I said it. A rather youthful one, I might add. :) Good healthy eating, yoga, and trying to keep an open mind make me feel around 30 years old (unless I look in the mirror or do a lot of yard work at one time--then I am reminded that I'm not 30 anymore).

There's also that pesky fact that I have two sons who are 26 and almost 29.... :)

Posted by: Lynne | April 25, 2008 3:38 PM

Lynne graduated from school precociously young, and was a child bride. Right?

Posted by: Anonymous | April 25, 2008 3:46 PM

Yes, Lynne was a child bride, that's the ticket!

Our oldest will be 29 this year also.

Posted by: Fred | April 25, 2008 3:48 PM

Lynne graduated from school precociously young, and was a child bride. Right?
Whoever you are, you are my kind of people! As we who grew up in the South say, "Your mama raised you right." :) I'm utterly charmed!

Posted by: Lynne | April 25, 2008 3:49 PM

Was Fred a child groom?

Posted by: Anonymous | April 25, 2008 3:50 PM

Child bride indeed--I was 25 when I married my husband, but thanks for the kind words. Our eldest will be 29 on June 6. I still see him as about three feet tall with light blond hair, although he's now 6'2" and his hair is a very dark blond, almost brown. Sigh...they grow up so fast.

BTW, high school graduation in 1963, college in can do the math. :)

Posted by: Lynne | April 25, 2008 3:52 PM

Was Fred a child groom?

Nah, just got married too young!

Posted by: Fred | April 25, 2008 3:53 PM

I will agree that pretty much anyone CAN access and enjoy the internet these days...but in real life practical terms, I really still think this is a class specific problem.

Posted by: Liz D | April 25, 2008 3:55 PM

Who would recognize geezers Christian Adolph Jurgensen III and his partner-in-crime William Orland Kilmer Jr. by name unless we called them Sonny & Billy?

Posted by: Anonymous | April 25, 2008 3:57 PM

Who would recognize geezers Christian Adolph Jurgensen III and his partner-in-crime William Orland Kilmer Jr

Hey, I did not even know who they were until I looked them up on the internet (sorry Liz D)!

I now recognize them!

Posted by: Fred | April 25, 2008 4:02 PM

And Billy went to UCLA!

Try this one (not too hard though)

Elisha Archibald Manning III

Posted by: Fred | April 25, 2008 4:04 PM


Posted by: Anonymous | April 25, 2008 4:08 PM

Did you have an answer Duhhhhhhhhhhhh?

Posted by: Fred | April 25, 2008 4:09 PM

...I really still think this is a class specific problem. -Liz D

Liz, in large part I think you are correct, at least as far as having access outside of a school or library setting. Computers, like televisions, are not just few and far between as they were when they first went on the market. However, even those of limited means who might have a home computer still may not have the money to pay for online access. You are also limited in how much time you can use a computer in a library because of the high demand.

Posted by: Lynne | April 25, 2008 4:10 PM

I recognized Sonny J and Billy. But then, back in the mid 60s, the only team in the south was the Redskins. Atlanta wasn't around until 66 or something.

But then, I also remember going to RFK stadium to watch the Mick play against the senators.

Posted by: dotted | April 25, 2008 4:15 PM

Elisha Archibald would be easy even without the Manning. Some people, especially outside DC, might have a harder time with Christian Adolph III and William Orland Jr. minus their last names.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 25, 2008 4:15 PM

Elisha Archibald would be easy even without the Manning

OK, what is the answer?

Posted by: Fred | April 25, 2008 4:17 PM

Dotted, don't forget Hondo.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 25, 2008 4:17 PM

Archie. Sigh.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 25, 2008 4:18 PM

Yes Archie. I think that many would think is it Eli who is Elisha Nelson Manning.

Posted by: Fred | April 25, 2008 4:21 PM

Eli Manning, brother of Peyton.

Posted by: Lynne | April 25, 2008 4:21 PM

Yes Archie. I think that many would think is it Eli who is Elisha Nelson Manning.

Including moi. :) My bad!

Posted by: Lynne | April 25, 2008 4:22 PM


Without looking it up (too much) What are the middle names:

John S. McCain
Harry S. Truman

Posted by: Fred | April 25, 2008 4:34 PM

I cheated and looked them up, so I won't play.

Harry S. Truman did the same thing my grandfather did with his middle name, though. :)

Posted by: Lynne | April 25, 2008 4:43 PM

But Fred, you cheated: there is no S. in Harry S Truman. :-)

Posted by: Laura | April 25, 2008 4:46 PM

OK, Laura for you!

John S. McCain

Harry S Truman

Posted by: Fred | April 25, 2008 4:50 PM

But Laura, then again, maybe not!

Posted by: Fred | April 25, 2008 4:54 PM

When I got pregnant with younger son and was terrified of having to go through another C/S, I found ICAN, International Cesarian Awareness Network. I spent about two years during and after the pregnancy on their email list. All those other women who'd been through the same trauma, and who understood exactly how I was feeling on a day-to-day basis! Not everyone has a traumatic experience when they have a cesarian birth, but mine was, and I desparately needed those on-line friends who understood. They helped me not turn into a screaming, raving maniac when non-traumatized coworkers would say things about, "just go ahead and schedule this one." And finally, after I had my VBAC, I got the chance to give back to that community sharing my success story with everyone, and encouraging new members who'd come looking for the same things I'd found there.

The other really valuable thing was learning everything we could about autism after older son was diagnosed. We thought we were knowledgible because DH had worked with emotionally disturbed adolescents in a residential treatment center (20 years before) and had dealt with autistics in his work. Turned out that he was well versed in the DSM-III, but there had been huge changes in the DSM-IV regarding autism spectrum disorders. We learned so much about what could be done for our son, and what the school district should have been telling us, but didn't, what they should have been doing for him, but didn't, and how to prepare for IEP's. We also found out that we'd been, luckily, doing some of the most important things right all along, just because it seemed like the right thing to do, or because it had worked. That really helped with not feeling guilty or like failures as parents - really important to feel good and right and strong when dealing with school district adminstration that doesn't want to spend any more than they can get away with, and try to run guilt-trips or lying to us or anything else to just make parents give up and go away.

There are more (including this blog), but those are the two biggest for my life's balance.

Posted by: Sue | April 25, 2008 5:10 PM

Sue -- I've heard a lot of stories like yours and I feel the same way. Internet groups and sites can provide community at times when you most need it. And from my perspective, the anonymity can be very freeing, and paradoxically, supportive. You feel free to reveal stuff you might not face to face. Thanks for sharing.

Posted by: Leslie | April 25, 2008 5:14 PM

In case you missed the point from Couric's article, we're NOT "mommy bloggers." We are women who blog who also happen to be mothers. I would hardly call a BlogHer business conference a "mommyblogger" conference.

Maybe the J&J one you attended was, but many others aren't and it's time to set the record straight.

Posted by: PunditMom | April 25, 2008 5:17 PM

Frank Oliver Howard (okay, so I used the internet to get the middle name, but his baseball card was one of my all time faves...along with Harmon Killibrew)

Posted by: Anonymous | April 25, 2008 5:20 PM

OK, I know that you all have been dying to know this.

John Sidney McCain III


Harry S Truman

(Harry S did not ever have a middle name!)

Posted by: Fred | April 25, 2008 5:33 PM

One of my fave baseball nicknames Pokey Reese! Pokey played for Cincinnati among other teams. His given name, Calvin.

Posted by: Fred | April 25, 2008 5:36 PM

PunditMom -- You make a good point. Which is why I included the last part of this sentence:

"There are conferences now, like BlogHer and the At-Home Dads Convention, for mommy bloggers, daddy bloggers and others who have used the Internet as a lifeline to parental sanity, and even a bridge to a new, more family-friendly career."

I specifically included "and others" because you're right, it's not just mommy bloggers.

I'm curious though -- why does that term seem to bother you? Or am I reading irritation where none exists?

Posted by: Leslie | April 25, 2008 6:19 PM

Posted by: Fred | April 25, 2008 4:54 PM,

Oh, most excellent, Fred! And here I thought I was so clever. :-)

Posted by: Laura | April 25, 2008 6:19 PM

I lived in Charleston for 2 years while working at the Medical University of South Carolina, and I agree that it is a lovely town to visit. However, as a place to live, you must be aware that it is still largely segregated. Of the 60 nurses who worked for me, all the LVNs were black, and the all RNs were white, save 1. And all the "recommended" restaurants were full of white faces only. I think the kicker for me was seeing a blue-haired woman in a Chanel suit walk into the gym, followed closely by a small African-American child carrying her gym bag. I could not get out of the state fast enough.

Posted by: babsy1 | April 25, 2008 6:30 PM

Henry A Kissinger has no middle name - the A is usually added as a placeholder for official documents such as passports. Hence no period after the initial, as in Harry S Truman. There is nothing abbreviated, so no period is required.

Posted by: babsy1 | April 25, 2008 6:31 PM

Best baseball names ever: Night Train Johnson, Oil Can Boyd.

Posted by: babsy1 | April 25, 2008 6:32 PM

In the military, if you did not have a middle name you would be Fred (NMI) Farkel. No middle initial.

Posted by: Fred | April 25, 2008 6:44 PM

My mother dated an Elmer Farkel! No idea about the status or lack thereof of the middle name/initial.

Posted by: babsy1 | April 25, 2008 6:55 PM

Whereas I, having both a middle name and confirmation name, had to choose which to use. There's no allowance for the multi-initialed except in Britain, where you may have as many names as you like, as long as you are royal (Charles Phillip Arthur George = Prince Charles).

Posted by: babsy1 | April 25, 2008 6:58 PM

My dad's best friend got a serious dressing down from his army drill instructor for putting X for his middle initial after the instructor was very explicit about how to handle the no-middle-name on the paperwork.

When he finally stopped for breath, "uncle Frank" informed him that he had followed those instructions. His middle initial is X because his middle name is Xavier. "Uncle Frank" has always been such a barrel of laughs!

Posted by: Sue | April 25, 2008 7:03 PM

Monograms can be difficult with or without middle initials. My initials are BAR. My monogram is either bRa or bar, neither of which I want to put on a towel or luggage tag. Sigh...

Posted by: babsy1 | April 25, 2008 7:11 PM

As to Elmer, as Forrest Gump said "No, we are not relations, sir."

Posted by: Fred | April 25, 2008 7:18 PM

As to Elmer, as Forrest Gump said "No, we are not relations, sir."

Does that relate to:

Scarlett: "Sir, you should have made your presence known. You are no gentleman!"
Rhett: "And you madam, are no lady." Ducks as she wings a vase close to his head.

Posted by: babsy1 | April 25, 2008 7:23 PM

"(I am just glad that AB did not go to my most hated school, USC. The one in California!)"

Ouch Fred, why the Southern Cal hatred?

Posted by: kate07 | April 25, 2008 8:09 PM


Because I went to UCLA for a while.

But fear not too much because my deepest hate has all the consistency of a frozen bowl of Jello!

Posted by: Fred | April 25, 2008 8:23 PM

Harry S Truman, without a period following the S.

Catfish Hunter. Mudcat Grant. Hammerin' Harmon Killebrew.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 25, 2008 8:32 PM

Goose Gossage. Christy "the Christian Gentleman" Mathewson. Gabby "Old Tomato Face" Hartnett. Leo "The Lip" Durocher. Casey "The Old Perfessor" Stengel.

Posted by: babsy1 | April 25, 2008 8:47 PM

The Booger! (Oriole John Powell)

Posted by: Anonymous | April 25, 2008 9:06 PM

George "Doc" Medich. Willie "Say Hey Kid" Mays.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 25, 2008 9:08 PM

Both of Harry Truman's grandmothers had last names starting with S, so his parents gave him only the letter S for a middle initial so each grandmother could think it was for her name.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 25, 2008 9:11 PM

only the letter S for a middle NAME

Posted by: Anonymous | April 25, 2008 9:12 PM

Excellent post! I often have thought to myself, "what did parents do before the Internet?" I've Googled everything from "how to cure sore nipples" to "fast family dinners" to "safest car seat" - and never walk away empty-handed. It's wonderful to connect with other parents on the web and in the blogosphere. I absolutely am thankful that I live in the 21st century.


Posted by: Stephanie | April 26, 2008 12:32 AM

Yes! Email, blogging, twitter, etc. have become an integral part of my child-rearing approach. Whether it's emailing friends for playdates, blogging about the latest challenges, or twittering news, the internet has been a great tool in my life as a mom.

I always enjoy your column, Leslie, and all your recent guest posters too!


Posted by: WhyMommy | April 26, 2008 12:13 PM

I have turned to all of sites you mentioned at one point or another. I get my mommy tips from ParentCenter, I commiserate with other moms via the mommy blogs, I get my latest female social commentary from BlogHer and I advocate for work-life balance issues via They're all amazing resources, but the downside is that I'm getting sucked in to the cyberworld for hours on end when I really should be doing other things around the house. I'm hooked on blogging (reading and writing) and now I'm trying to wean myself off!

Posted by: Amy@UWM | April 30, 2008 10:39 PM

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