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By Robin Dearing
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
Several weeks ago I was walking Margaret over to her school to attend our parent-teacher conference.
As we were kicking leaves along the sidewalk, Margaret was asking me what kinds of things we'd be discussing at this conference. I told her we'd be talking about how she was progressing in all her subjects and her behavior and we'd be going over her report card.
Margaret looked down and moaned, "I'm going to get a terrible report card. I'm not good at anything."
I knew this couldn't be true and tried to assure her that as long as she's trying her best and working hard, it would all be OK.
Well, it was better than OK. She is doing exceptionally well and we couldn't be more pleased. Her teacher is very happy with her progress. Margaret is doing well in all her subjects.
She has always advanced well academically, but her behavior has been less than stellar in the past.
When we got to the behavior part on the report card and it was all good news, I was relieved and said as much. Her teacher said she couldn't understand why in that Margaret was exceptionally well behaved.
At first we thought she was joking. She wasn't.
More great news indeed.
However, there is one thing — one big, huge important thing — that was brought to our attention.
In addition to meeting with her teacher, Bill and I also met with the school's gifted-and-talented teacher and the school psychologist. The psychologist had administered a Reynolds Intellectual Assessment Scales test to Margaret and she wanted to go over the results.
Again everything was very good, but the discussion of the test sparked talk about Margaret's self-esteem. She gets frustrated quickly and then sees herself as failing. If she's not perfect at something immediately, she thinks it's impossible for her.
Mar's comments about her probably getting a bad report card on the way to the conference were just one example of how she tries to sabotage herself. I've witnessed this many times, so it was helpful to hear professionals discuss the importance of dealing with this issue.
It was also pointed out that she believes that she's under a lot of pressure to be perfect — mostly from me.
And it's true that I am the one who does most of pushing. And I know I have made mistakes when my own frustration gets the better of me, but I've never insisted on perfection. I only insist on working hard. I also stress that learning is fun and rewarding.
But it still sucks that she doesn't realize how smart she really is or how proud I am of her. We try all the time to point out all of her goodness, yet we see her doubt herself again and again.
Over the weekend, Margaret participated in a piano festival designed to allow students to be critiqued on their playing and their knowledge of theory in a positive and fun environment. She and I had worked hard on the four pieces that she played and she studied to make sure she knew all the theory. She even decorated a cloth bag to be displayed with the other children's music-related artwork (Thanks Tracee!).
She did a fine job, performed well and got lots of positive feedback from her judge. But she still asked me on the way out, "Do you like my piano playing?"
Do I like her piano playing? I am in awe of her skills. I know enough — from paying attention to her lessons — to be able to help her, but I can't play the piano at all. There are times with I think the music is too hard, but she figures it out and plays beautifully.
But with every new challenge, we hear, "I'm no good at this."
And it breaks my heart every time.
By Richie Ann Ashcraft
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
I spent the weekend frantically doing odds and ends that I just knew wouldn't get done now that I'm back in the world of the working class. I even whipped up a fabulous meal of lasagna and blueberry pie to tide my family over the famine that was soon to hit the house.
On the eve of my great postmaternity debut here at The Daily Sentinel, Soren puked mac-n-cheese all over my bed. I had three months off and he picks the night before I have to return to get sick. That Murphy is a real jerk.
Right out of the gate I had to stand over my deathly white child and debate the "How sick is he?" argument.
Day one at The Daily Sentinel was overwhelming. I needed training before I could even begin doing my work. I was behind before I even walked in the door. Between well wishers, customers, and my own guilt of leaving my sick child with a sitter I was clearly exhausted by 5 p.m.
Day two faired a little better on the work front, but both babies were crying when I hit my front door. I've never seen anything like what happened that night in my house.
Soren had a complete breakdown crying nonstop for over two hours. He was a mess of contradiction�"I want juice," only to throw the cup across the room then scream "I want juice!" Any choice given to him was met with the same irrational behavior. He stomped through the house like a mini King Kong knocking things over and hitting everything in sight. He was absolutely inconsolable.
In the meantime, Joji was in his normal witching hour. I didn't know which child to take care of first and alternated between the two. There was no cooking dinner or even slipping out of my constricting pantyhouse.
I didn't know whether to spank Soren, rush him to the emergency room or call a priest to come exorcize him.
Then, at 8:30 p.m, it just stopped. I hugged Soren while he whimpered on my shoulder. I cuddled both boys on the couch until bedtime, careful to not move or even blink wrong.
Then we ran out of juice. "Marty!!!!!!" I screamed from the couch..."Juice Juice Now!!" Luckily he saved the day just as Soren's eyes began to get that teary panic look.
Day 3 the sitter calls to say that Joji won't stop crying. I have to come home...NOW. He REFUSES to take a bottle and it leaves my sitter frazzled by 5 p.m.
By Day 4 I was ready to call it quits but luckily the two boys finally seemed to settle into a new routine. Soren ate some rice much to my relief and our evenings began to quiet down.
I still haven't caught up on sleep but things are finally right back to chaotic normal on both fronts.
Monday, November 12, 2007
For some reason Alex decided he wanted to bring a lunch from home this year rather than take his chances with the school cafeteria food. It may have something to do with the fact that for the entire school year last year he ate pizza and french fries for lunch. Even he
determined this was not the best course of nutritional action.
Even though it’s far cheaper to have him buy lunch at school, I like packing him a lunch. I even get up ten minutes earlier to do it. In my quest to find something different I stumbled upon Kraft “Cracker Cuts” cheese. It cost about the same as regular cheese and I thought, OK, since I often pack cheese and crackers for him let’s give this a try.
So I unzipped the package and was puzzled by what I saw. It was layers of cheese separated by a piece of paper. “What kind of crackers are 6 inches long?” I mused. “Rather odd.” Then I lifted a cheese layer out and realized that each layer was perforated into three separate squares of cheese. Each separated by a piece of paper. For some reason, this really irked me. I saw it as yet another symptom of how we have lost touch with . . . . something better.
What kind of culture have we become that we can’t even cut our own cheese?
And when some machine is cutting our cheese for us, are we also contributing to global warming by having the cheese-cutting machine insert a piece of paper between each layer?!
It made me long for the good old days when we went to the market every morning and purchased cheese fresh from the dairy farmer, along with that day’s fruit and vegetables.
OK - we never did that, but it made me want to do it.
It made me want to bake bread (something I actually really did do), and grow my own bean sprouts (yep, really did that too), and actually touch the food I feed my child. You know, infuse it with love and homemade goodness. It made me sad that we’ve become so insanely convenience-oriented and everything has to be one big speed race to, what? The land of instant everything.
So from now on, I’ll cut my own cheese.
It may take an extra six seconds, but I’ll be better for it.
By Robin Dearing
Friday, November 9, 2007
It dawned on me earlier this week as I was RSVPing to a "princess" theme makeover party later this month that it’s finally happened. My kids have a more active social life than I do.
This fall has been a whirlwind of school activities and weekend obligations, from soccer games to birthday parties. There are permission slips to sign, checks to write for milk money and yearbooks, field trips to chaperon and Halloween cupcakes to make lovingly from scratch (if you count Pillsbury white cake mix straight from the box.)
It seems that nearly every week this fall my 5-year-old has had an activity or party to attend. In the past week alone she attended her first sleepover (which was literally right next door or I would have never let her go), she was invited to a fall farm party, and she had an end of season soccer party at our local pizza parlor. Halloween also wore me out with both my girls having parties at daycare and school, trunk or treating with their cousins at a church in our hometown, and hitting the ‘hood on Halloween night for even more candy. Unfortunately mama is a stress eater and I scoured their treat bags for my favorite candy, Laffy Taffy and Reese's peanut butter cups.
The funny thing is that my husband and I have made a point to not sign our girls up for too many activities. In fact, the only extracurricular activity we have going on now, and it’s ending this Saturday, is soccer.
I’m sure this is good practice for the pre-teen and teen years.
In the mean time, I’m going to continue to party vicariously through my kids, check and recheck my calendar to make sure I haven’t missed anything, and figure out a calorie free way to get rid of the 10 pounds of Halloween candy I have stashed in our utility room.
Read more from Jamie on her blog, Blonde Mom Blog. Be sure to check out her blog the week of Thanksgiving as she's having a drawing for a Kodak EasyShare 5300 All-in-One Printer!
By Robin Dearing
Thursday, November 8, 2007
Because Tuesday was a school holiday, Margaret went to day care. Being that it was her day off of school, she decided to write a story.
Here is a transcript of the story, as best I can decipher:
Once upone a time ther was a prissus names Clrassera. She was soo budfull. And she livd in a budfull castil. And in that same castil ther lived a hasum priss named Hrald. And he livd on the fith flor. So the prissus whent from the 2nd flor to the fith.
But when she got to the fith flor she conn't get out of the elovarter! Soo she hit the door but that dinit work so she scrmd and of coses that worked the prisns came runing to the elovater. He said he was soo sorry the elovater got stuck it does that a lot you whana come in? Shere said the prissusis. when the prissusis whent in she conit got out! And thar was no food to eat she scremd and sremd and sremd. Are you out of your mind someone is going to hear you said the prinss. That's because I whant someone to heer me. But then I cant eat you. You whant to eat me? sruepoo (yeah, I've got no idea what that means) said the pirss. But I don't tast good. Thats OK. But whet if you don't my meat. I lick any meat. Soo she brok down the door and ran away and she livd huggly ever after.
I can't decide if she's a genius or just disturbed.
Wednesday, November 7, 2007
This foot should serve as a warning.
For all you proponents of getting out there in the fresh air and exercising - be careful
! You could end up with what we all affectionately call Franken-foot.
Yes, this is an untouched photo of one side of my mom's foot. Lovely, eh? Yes, she knows I took it and I have her permission to post it. She's hoping she'll get presents because of it.
And believe me, she deserves them So does my sister who is watching over her 24/7.
The other side of the foot looks much better. But the right side is troublesome and the doc sent her to the wound care clinic so they could put some kind of dead-flesh eating bacteria on it to help speed up the healing.
All I can say is eeeewwwww! Gross.
Sorry mom. But I got you a present!
By Robin Dearing
Tuesday, November 6, 2007
Maybe I need two nannies; one for Margaret and one for Bill and I — but that's a whole different issue. Right now I'll just settle for one nanny for Mar.
This past weekend, Bill and I traveled with my band
over to Denver to play a show. We were gone for a total of 28 hours.
We had planned on Margaret having a play date at our neighbor's house until early evening when our dear friend, Tracee, was to come over and spend the night and next day with Mar.
Twenty minutes before we were to be leaving town we realized our neighbors — where Margaret was supposed to be having a play date — were not home.
Panic mode set in, then I ordered Bill to start calling other neighbors who have kids Margaret's age. The gods of luck were with us, as one family was just heading out the door to do some fun kid stuff and we unceremoniously dumped our kid on them.
I felt bad about the short notice kid dump, but desperate times call for desperate measures.
When we stumbled home Sunday afternoon, our dear friend, Tracee, was waiting desperately to get the heck out of our house — not because Mar was unruly, but because she's highly allergic to pet dander, we've got three cats and a dog. Seeing Tracee all swollen up made me start thinking.
Margaret loves Tracee and she had a good time with her, but the fact is that Tracee's married now and will, at some point, be starting her own family. We've been very lucky to have Tracee as a friend who has been willing to care for Margaret over these seven years.
I decided that it's time to find a nanny that can help us out during the week, especially on Wednesdays when the school district has their early-release day (or as I like to call it "mess with the working parents" day) and on these rare weekends when both Bill and I go out of town.
I'm not the kind of girl that needs "girls night out." When I want some adult time, I want to be with my husband. And normally going out of town includes Margaret. But a couple times a year, I get the opportunity to travel with the girls in my band and I really look forward to those times. We like to swear and talk about inappropriate things and make each other laugh.
These times are made even better if my husband can come so he can carry my heavy guitar equipment and get me drinks. Plus he likes to swear and talk about inappropriate things and make people laugh, too. So it's always more fun with Bill.
So I need a nanny. If you know of anyone looking to care for a smart, funny, toilet-trained but slightly wacky 7-year-old, please, tell them to contact me. Oh and Margaret doesn't bite (that much anymore).
Monday, November 5, 2007
I think that all teenagers should have some kind of job. There are numerous good reasons for this which you can probably figure out on your own. In the Grand Junction area economy today, there are plenty of jobs available that are perfectly suited for teenagers.
Alex got himself a job this summer in the kitchen of a local high-end golf course restaurant. He really enjoyed it, and managed to bank some good money while also buying some new electronic gadgets and gizmos. He also bought himself an expensive high-quality kitchen knife to use because he wasn’t satisfied with the tools-of-the-trade they had there. In spite of some broken promises regarding wage increases on the part of management there (and shame on them), he continues to work there every weekend, both Saturday and Sunday for upwards of 8 hours each day.
This means he never gets a day off, since he is obviously going to school Monday through Friday. This also means that I rarely get to see him, or spend any mother-son quality bonding time with him. Yeah, you know, those Hallmark moments where I bring him his clean, folded laundry and he tells me how much he loves me and appreciates everything I do for him. And then we talk about school and his friends, and how wrong it is that the latest MTV videos just contain gratuitous booty-shaking, and agree to go see a movie together later that evening. Uh, huh.
But really, I think he is working too many hours. He doesn’t really seem to mind it. He likes getting the paycheck. I like him getting the paycheck. But I worry that he’s burning the candle at both ends. His grades were not totally stellar this last quarter, but I chalk that up to too much time with the electronic gadgets and not enough time with the books.
So, do I encourage him to take some time off and just chill or should I just chill and not worry about it?
Friday, November 2, 2007
Seems like bad luck comes in waves at times. Or maybe the rest of life is just so good that the bad stuff sticks out like a sore thumb.
Or in my mom’s case, a sore ankle.
Not just sore, but broken in two places and hinged together with some mighty hunks of steel.
I was on vacation last week in Mexico with Dan who has connections there. Yeah, not those connections, but a guy who knows a guy who gives him a free week in the penthouse of Hotel Playa Mazatlan. Trust me, it couldn’t be more legitimate.
Anyway, I have no clue about how to pick up or make calls from a foreign country from my cell phone, but I kept getting voice mail messages that I couldn’t retrieve. I finally figured out how to call Alex who said Grandma fell and broke her ankle and was having surgery. That was all I could get from the King of Details so I called my sister. Long story short, they were hiking in McInnis Canyon somewhere last Friday when mom fell and snapped her ankle. She was in the hospital waiting to have surgery the following day.
Fast forward to yesterday when she came home from the hospital. Actually she came back to my sister’s house where she will be imprisoned, I mean staying, for some unknown amount of time until she regains some mobility, of which right now she has absolutely none. Wow. I’m not sure who I’m more worried about. But since the accident happened on my sister’s watch, it seems only fair . . . .
So I went over there last night and got the true story of what happened. Seems there was a group of my sister’s friends and their assorted dogs who were merrily hiking through some ravine and climbed back up onto a ledge. When my mom climbed back up, her one foot slipped and she caught a toe between two rocks. Her body fell about four feet, and her ankle quite logically snapped under the pressure. Good lord, the poor woman. She showed me a picture of the x-ray taken after the surgery and her ankle looks like it came from Aisle 13 at Ace Hardware. I'm thinking it will probably put a serious crimp on her rock climbing adventures for a while.
She is completely at the mercy of my sister now, and her other two daughters, oh and our dad of course. Yeah, more to come on all this.
So any suggestions on how to keep everybody happy during the recuperation period would be extremely appreciated!
By Robin Dearing
Friday, November 2, 2007
Terry, one of our co-workers here at the Sentinel, shared pictures of her boys doing their best to scare the bejeezus out of all those princesses and fairies this Halloween: