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By Richie Ann Ashcraft
Friday, December 28, 2007
It was brought to my attention that I don't spend equal amounts of time on this blog talking about my two boys. It seemed to the reader that my baby Joji has sadly not received his fair share of blog fame.
Well, I suppose it's true but it doesn't have anything to do with unfair sibling treatment. It has to do with the fact that baby Jonas is a little cherub.
We're nearly five months in to his very long life and I can count the times of uncontrollable crying on one hand.
He sleeps, still in my bed, but he sleeps. I know he should make the move into his own bed soon but it's really very cold at the moment. Plus, I'll admit, he's the baby of our family so naturally we spoil him. He still loves to be cuddled and kissed, unlike his naughty brother, and we spend every spare second doing just that.
A parent can't help but compare children however wrong it might be and as Jonas starts to show his personality I am learning that he is very very different than Soren.
Being Jonas' mother is easy. He responds to my baby talk with giant toothless smiles. Tickle his tummy and he'll laugh out loud hysterically. Nurse him and he'll reflect the love he sees in mommy's eyes.
Jonas has a natural mohawk making him cute and stylish. He's got those kissable rolls of baby fat on his legs. He feels like your holding a small 13 pound turkey, one that sinks into your shoulder in the most trusting and peaceful way. He drools. He sucks his lower lip in contemplation. He's happy to move from arms to arms to arms in a social setting.
So, I guess the real reason that I haven't been sharing much about him with you, is I just didn't want to bore you by bragging about how cute he is. I know people hate it when other people brag about their kids. And with Joji, there are only good things to say.
That will change but for now, I promise to share a little more.
By Robin Dearing
Thursday, December 27, 2007
Growing up, my family would spend Christmas Eve eating my mom's delicious fudge, playing games and visiting family and friends. In years past, Bill and I have continued that tradition, but this year we decided on a more quiet Christmas Eve with just us and the kids.
It was nice to have some time to rest and contemplate and enjoy being together as a little family.
Margaret was beside herself with excitement. She couldn't wait for Christmas morning and kept asking, "Is it night yet?," "Is it time for tub yet?" and "Is it almost time for Santa to come?"
After too many games of Monopoly Jr., she and Bill were having a conversation about who might be on Santa's "Good" list and who might end up on Santa's "Naughty" list. She surmised that the man who shot Martin Luther King Jr. was most definitely on Santa's "Naughty" list (I'm not sure why she fixated on King's assassin, but I'm not sure of many of the things that she comes up with).
I guess that got her active, 7-year-old mind a-whirring, because then she ran off to spend some time on Christmas Eve doing research on James Earl Ray. She even wrote a report on Ray's upbringing which she began transcribing in Word and planned on sharing with her classmates once school is back in session.
Bill and I sat on the couch and watched bad TV this Christmas Eve. Margaret wrote a research paper on the assassin who slain Martin Luther King Jr.
I guess my own little family will have its own holiday traditions.
By Richie Ann Ashcraft
Wednesday, December 26, 2007
Yup, you just have to roll with it on Christmas Day.
Soren woke up grumpy grumpy as we all do sometimes but the difference is grown-ups squelch it down with coffee and two-year-olds just let it all out.
He had no interest whatsoever in presents much to my disappointment. He flung his new dinosaur across the room shouting "No, No disaur!" I'm like ... "Dude, but it roars!" I mean he's two, how can he not appreciate a dinosaur that walks and roars all by itself?
So Daddy and I took turns unwrapping things like Mr. Potato Head and barn puzzles none of which he found interesting in the least. He didn't even like candy. What kid says "no canny," on Christmas morning? He was killin me.
He ate three eggs over easy and a cinnamon roll and went back to bed.
Baby Jonas was oblivious to everything but oh so cute in his red and green flannel jammies and his Santa hat, at least we had that.
Things went better when Soren started again the second time. He actually opened a present happily, only one though.
He gorged himself on cheese and cookies. He only ate salmon for dinner. Just salmon but three helpings which is just bizarre when there was Jell—O right there on his plate. Whatever.
He cuddled up next to me in late afternoon with his overextended toddler belly poking out of his button down Christmas shirt. I ruffled his head and became totally grossed out by the crunchy grey substance that was matted in his hair. I think it was green bean casserole but I'm not sure. Ew.
Round three was the highlight of the day, a welcome refreshing change of scenery at a hotel pool, the perfect place for our little quartet to play and a nice denouement to a not so perfect but oh so perfect Christmas Day.
By Richie Ann Ashcraft
Tuesday, December 25, 2007
"Santa Claus is comin' to Town ...."
"Ant Cause COMIN (big breath) Toon"
"He's making a list and checkin' it twice"
"Gonna find out who's naughty or nice,"
"Ant Cause COMIN!!!!"
Aw, it's finally here ... Christmas with my kids. I've waited a long long time to hang something special made by my kid on the tree.
I've waited a long time for the milk and cookies.
I've waited a long to time to experience Christmas as a mommy. I'm so excited.
Merry Christmas everyone ... I hope you're family is as blessed today as our is.
By Robin Dearing
Monday, December 24, 2007
I've been out of town for the past couple of weeks. Before leaving, I made a detailed list of all the things that Bill needed to take care of on his own. It included what Margaret needed to wear to all of her Christmas programs, who was going to be watching her when he worked late, what Christmas gifts still needed to be purchased and a list of people to whom we send Christmas cards.
Yes, it was a very detailed list which helped everything run smoothly while I was away.
During one phone conversation, I asked Bill if he had time to send out the Christmas cards that I had hastily made before I left town. He said, "Yep." And then he added that he had some extra cards made.
Why would we need extra cards?
Bill revealed that he had some special cards made that he intended to send to some of his friends.
I pressed him, "What kind of special Christmas cards?" He went on to explain that because the cards I had made featured a picture of just our kids, he made one with a picture of me and and a picture of him playing our guitars.
No kids. Just a picture of me (taken two years ago) and a picture of him. On a Christmas card. That he sent out to people.
I was mortified. What kind of mother sends out a Christmas card with only a picture of herself and her husband and doesn't even mention the children?
I impressed upon him that this was not something I would ever do in a million-trillion years. He sighed and said, "Fine. I won't mail out anymore."
A week later, Bill called me. A dear friend of his called from San Francisco stating she knew what Bill looked like and looked forward every year to seeing pictures of our kids every year and what was he thinking sending a card with a picture of him on it?
I know I'm lucky to have a man that thinks to do such things on his own, but on some things a woman knows best.
By Richie Ann Ashcraft
Friday, December 21, 2007
Last week I drove to three different stores looking for phyllo dough. I could feel my heart starting to pound and my brain's wheels were turning at a furious rate. How dare everyone in this town buy all the phyllo dough and not leave me any! How was my family going to have a good Christmas without baklava? What would my coworkers say when I showed up empty handed on cookie day?
I cussed and muttered under my breath driving inconsiderately and proceeded to do more cussing at the other drivers unable to merge properly in the roundabout.
And then it hit me. What was I thinking? This isn't what Christmas is about. Nobody cares if I make the baklava. Nobody cares if the tree is perfect, if there are enough lights twinkling, if the best present ever is under the Christmas tree.
And right there as I turned into the parking lot of the third store, I just let it go.
I told myself it didn't matter. I let myself be imperfect. I took the pressure off.
It's the best present I've given myself in a long time.
When we put up the Christmas tree a few ornaments tumbled to the ground. My favorite Christmas CD kept skipping and wouldn't play. Soren ripped off the beard of nearly every nutcracker. Oh well.
And you know what? It was great! There was laughter in my house. My family had fun because all of these things that cause stress during the holidays just weren't there. Our tree isn't perfect but it's still a beautiful symbol of my faith and my family.
There will be presents, maybe not the most presents, maybe not even anything anyone wants, but it doesn't matter. Our bellies will be full of good food and our hearts will be full of love.
I know it sounds cliche but really that's all that matters. It's just not worth the family arguments, the who got what or the stress of creating a perfect Martha Stewart meal.
We are having a great Christmas so far and I encourage everyone to keep in mind that none of the things that "make" Christmas are very important.
Thursday, December 20, 2007
Is there anybody out there who can clue me in on how much lower we can go?
The whole vomit-inducing nationwide media fascination with Britney Spears is horrific enough. Now we are doomed to be subjected to more seemingly endless voyeurism with her baby-sister's pregnancy. My God, help us.
Why do we have to listen to this crap day after day after day? Wasn't it enough that we had to endure every detail about Anna Nicole Smith, her fake boobs and who was or wasn't the sperm donor? Then it was Lindasy Lohan, Paris Hilton, Jessica Simpson, Pamela Anderson - the list is endless. What the hell did these people ever do for the good of society at large that they deserve ANY attention at all let alone endless, infinite amounts of it?
Surely there must be somebody, somewhere that is doing something decent, morally corrrect, unselfish and something we can hold up to our children as a shining example of how to live? Especially this time of year? I know they're out there. Why can't we hear about them at least as often as we hear about the trash?
Yeah - I know. It doesn't sell. It's boring. We're jaded. It's not news. Nobody cares.
Rome is burning. I can smell the smoke.
By Richie Ann Ashcraft
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
I really love the library. Just the whole idea of it, borrowing on the honor system, the fact it's free, and of course the miles and miles of my very favorite thing ... books.
It was in the library that I discovered a whole world outside of the rural Colorado town I grew up in. I remember spending hours looking at books about the Egyptians and their pyramids. I couldn't wait to touch them and eventually did. What a glorious day!
It was in the library that I learned how to say Ramona the Pest's
favorite cuss word, GUTS
It was in the library that I learned about making maple syrup candy in the snow by Laura Ingalls Wilder
which led to my brief love of bonnets. I'm seriously not joking, I had a bonnet phase because of that book.
It was in the library that I learned from Sweet Valley High
how to attract a boys' attention. It never really worked, probably because I wore bonnets as a kid and boys remember that, and no, I don't still read the books or wear bonnets anymore.
When it's time to vote on how our tax dollars are spent, it's me who's voting for a new library. The thought of books becoming digital like this Newsweek article
suggests makes me sick. I for one do not want to cuddle up to a nice Ipod.
I'll admit I haven't used its services that much in the past few years but Soren's insatiable desire for books has caused me to tighten the bootstraps by whipping out the library card instead of the debit card.
I hadn't stepped foot in the children's section of the library in at least 20 years. Our first trip was a delightful and positive one.
"Itchy Pider," Soren told the librarian.
"Do you have any books about the Itsy Bitsy Spider
," I interpreted for her.
"Yes," and she took him by the little hand, which is amazing in itself as he has a huge fear of strangers, straight to his favorite subject of the week, the itchy pider. Then she filled my arms with ten more books that were age appropriate.
Awesome! In fact we've been back every two weeks to restock. I get really tired of reading Rainbow Fish
and The Very Clumsy Click Beetle
over and over again. We both enjoy trying something new.
Last weekend we attended the puppet show, "Santa's Helper." There weren't that many kids there and the show itself wasn't that interesting but Soren enjoyed it. The show was about Clifford helping Santa deliver presents and Soren screamed DOG DOG pointing from the puppet of the red dog to the picture of him on the wall. He left with a coloring page and a gingerbread cookie.
Then we checked out some books about Santa and his elves, and a copy of The Night Before Christmas, the creepy version, as I discovered when I got home. It is illustrated by some dressed up dog heads attached to human bodies. It's creepy because these dogs have man hands sticking out of their pajamas but it's the version I'll be using on Christmas Eve nonetheless. Bootstraps.
His favorite part of the library is the water fountain. And I guess he thinks the books are okay. I'm hoping he discovers all the places it can take him at an early age.
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
On a recent episode of Grey’s Anatomy
, Dr. Bailey was faced with saving the life of a white supremacist. Before she took a scalpel to the swastika tattoo on his stomach she raised her eyes upward and muttered to herself, “I am rising above, I am rising above.” She proceeded to perform the operation with her oath to do no harm at the forefront of her mind.
I am no Dr. Bailey.
Then again, I never took that oath.
UPS recently delivered a box to my house for the guy that used to live there. (Trust me, this will tie together at the end.)
Even though I have plenty of my own UPS-ing to deal with this time of year, I made it a point to call UPS last Thursday to ask them to pick up the package and deliver it. After navigating the usual button-pushing labyrinth I got an actual live person, with an American accent, who said they could have somebody out on Monday to pick up the box. I was a little disappointed that BROWN would take 5 days to get there, but so what? I’m not the one waiting for the box.
Monday came and went and nobody picked up the box. So this morning I called UPS again to have them pick up their stupid box and deliver it to the right person. After the button-pushing-for-English fiasco I get disconnected.
Now, I should have taken a deep breath and risen above. But no. I am in considerable pain from my accident, and I haven’t slept more than two hours a night since. I am grumpy and I’m sitting with an ice pack on my back and my neck and they’re cold. Did I mention my boiler is freaking out and the heat in my house won’t turn OFF? Yeah, so I’m cranky by the time I dial again and get some snotty little doofus from Newark.
“What is the tracking number on the package?” She has a voice like nails on a chalkboard.
“I have no idea. But I can give you the address.”
“I need the tracking number.”
“I don’t have it. How about I give you my address and you can tell the driver where to pick up the package.”
“Well, I can’t do that without the tracking number. I have to have the tracking number to tell anybody anything.”
“So you can’t just take my address, look it up, and then get a driver to pick up the box?”
“Why can't you call us back with the tracking number?”
I should have risen above.
“This is the third damn time I called, and really I’m just going to throw the stupid box out and then YOU can deal with it.”
“Well, that’s certainly at your discretion. But I can’t look up the hub without the tracking number.”
IF I HAD RISEN ABOVE, I would have said, “Look, Jersey girl. I know this is a busy time of year for UPS. You’re stressed out. You probably got in a fight with your boyfriend this morning. You probably don’t make a lot of money and you’re thinking you’re doomed to stay in Jersey forever. I understand and I am really sorry about all that. I will keep you in my prayers. I am also sorry that the guy who is waiting for this package to be delivered and won’t ever get it. His children will wake up Christmas morning to nothing under the tree. He will feel awful, his wife will divorce him and he’ll end up in rehab or on the streets. But don’t worry. You can blame it on the tracking number.”
Instead, my two-word response before I hung up on her sent the same message and will achieve the same results.
Next time I will try to rise above. OK Dr. Bailey?
Friday, December 14, 2007
Only nine more days until life takes a turn for the better. Yep, that’s when the days will start getting longer! Yippee! I will no longer come home from work, make dinner, eat dinner, clean up from dinner, think it must be time for bed, look at the clock and see it’s only 6:15.
I mean there is only so much restraint I can practice. One glass of wine per hour watching junk TV until it really is bed time makes it hard to get there! But what else are you gonna do when it’s dark and cold outside?
I used to use that time after dinner and before bed to go for my (mostly) daily hike/run. Now there is a very narrow window of opportunity, like 13 minutes, and it’s not worth changing into sweats for. So my favorite-once-again sister Deanne lent me her Pilates DVD.
“This is great,” I thought. “I can do it my living room in front of the TV, on my groovy little yoga mat I only used once.”
So after dinner Sunday night, pre-accident, I poured myself a glass of wine and popped in the DVD. It gave me several menu options but it makes you review the caution and disclaimer first. So I sat down, sipped my wine and listened to them tell me all the blah, blah, blah about consulting a physician, etc.
OK, that took up 7 minutes. Then you are told to go to the menu item called “BASICS TECHNIQUES.” The Pilates lady said to make sure you watch every routine before performing it. Great! I pour more wine, and watch her twist around in her little black leotard demonstrating the basic moves. Pretty easy so far!
That took up about 12 minutes, and then you can go to the first actual routine. I am warned again by the Pilates lady to watch the whole routine before doing it. Awesome! I open a new bottle of wine, grab a pillow and lie down on my yoga mat, and watch Pilates lady do her thing again.
At the end of the first basic routine, which took 15 minutes, I remembered Pilates lady said not to do any routines after eating. Since I had recently finished dinner, I figured I better be careful and just watch the next routine. Besides, I had been at this for 34 minutes now.
Needless to say, at the end of the DVD, I had finished most of the wine, and the Pilates lady was starting to get on my nerves. Besides, she had kind of a big butt to be the star of an exercise video. So I turned off the TV and went to bed.
It was 7:30.
Here’s to the coming of the shortest day of the year and the beginning of more daylight!