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By Robin Dearing
Tuesday, February 27, 2007
I could hear the excited giggling as soon as they got off the elevator. It got louder as they raced across the floor to the door of our hotel room. As I opened the door, I saw Margaret’s glee-filled face as she careened down the hotel corridor clutching the speeding luggage cart with all her might.
“Daddy let me ride on the luggage cart all the way up the elevator,” she announced so everyone on the floor could here. They were both breathless as they maneuvered the cart into our hotel room.
As we stacked our luggage onto the cart, Margaret began recounting her favorite parts of the trip:
“I loved the museum,
especially the kid’s activities.”
“I liked eating at the fancy restaurant.”
Of course, she loved eating at the fancy restaurant, we let her order a genuinely caffeinated Coca-Cola — which turned out to be Pepsi, but she didn’t let that dampen her spirits. She’s had her share of non-caffeinated sodas, but never the dreaded soda with caffeine, so this was a big deal for her.
She spent the time waiting for our meals to come by meticulously and enthusiastically coloring her clown-adorned placemat and claiming, “ This is the best restaurant ever!” — ah, the powers of caffeine.
Bill and I revealed to the other restaurant goers that we truly never learned to act right, as evidenced by these photos:
The food was oh-so good, I’m still dreaming about it.
The last thing on her list of things Margaret loved about our trip to Denver was the hotel room itself.
“I sure am gonna miss this place,” she said mournfully as we headed down the elevator to check out.
This was our view out our window. Originally these giant double-hung windows were made to open. Even though they were hermetically sealed shut, just the idea of having a giant perforation in the wall of our 12th-floor room made my head swim with vertigo. I required that none of us get too close to the window.
But it was a nice hotel, nestled downtown a block off the 16th Street mall. The staff was helpful and friendly and most important, the beds were so comfortable with lots of pillows and nice linens.
We might always look like a family of bumbling hill-billies who dun gone off to the city, but we sho’ did appreciate all the niceties it had to offer.
By Robin Dearing
Monday, February 26, 2007
Needing a little break, we planned a trip over the hill ... to the big city. As much as I love the Grand Valley, I like to visit large cities regularly. I like the hustle and bustle, I like the variety, I love the culture.
We decided to plan a quick trip to Denver in order to see the continuous scroll of paper on which Jack Kerouac typed his first draft of "On the road."
It's on display at the Denver County Public Library. I wasn't allowed to take any pictures but if you click the above link, there are pictures on that page.
Seeing that literary artifact was really cool and we were glad that we took the time and effort to see it. While we were at the library, we decided to take a look around.
I am really impressed by what a wonderful facility Denver has in its public library. The children's library was huge and comfortable and loaded with fun activities. It made me realize how important a good library is to a city.
After the library, we walked across the way to the Denver Art Museum.
The museum has been greatly expanded by the additional of the Hamilton wing on the south side of the museum. Having studied art and architecture in the past, I was very interested to see how they expanded an already nice museum. I was pleasantly surprised.
The new wing is very interested in its angularity. We enjoyed spending a little time just walking around the exterior, watching its point of view change with every turn.
But the interior is even more wonderful.
The filtered light is subtle and the galleries all have strange angled walls and floor plans. The walls would angle inward and outward and form a variety of geometric shapes that seem like an engineering nightmare. It was perfect for the display of the modern and contemporary art displayed there.
This was the first time we've taken Margaret to any major museum. I've dragged her to exhibits around town and other places we've visited before, but this was her first experience was a major museum. Let me tell you that the Denver Art Museum is a truly wonderful place to take a 6 year old.
They had so many children's activities that she was eager to go from floor to floor to see what she could do and see next.
(This interactive display would reveal more and more portions of a picture projected on the wall whenever Margaret would step and burst one of the bubbled projected on the floor.)
In the orignal portion of the museum, they had family activity backpacks that are geared toward different displays. We chose the Pre-Columbian backpack which found us sitting on the floor of the Maya gallery looking at snakes, birds and jaguars (glad we didn't go to the zoo that day to see the real jaguar
Margaret made a bird mask and learned about how animals were represented in these ancient Mesoamericana cultures.
Even after spending the majority of the day at the museum, we still didn't see all of the kid's activities nor all of the art. We left that afternoon, tired yet rich with all the things we saw and did.
And for me, the best part of the trip was sharing with my daughter my love of art and helping to build a foundation of interest and interaction in the cultural realm that hopefully will last her a lifetime.
By Richie Ann Ashcraft
Friday, February 23, 2007
It's that time of year again....Spring...where the great naming game begins.
It took my loverhubby and I months to find a suitable boy name. We tried everything to find the perfect word to describe our new arrival.
We have had a girl's name picked out for over ten years. I'm not very happy that the name found its way on to the top ten most popular baby names list but that's the way it is. If this next baby is a girl, her name is an easy done deal. But boy's names are extremely difficult for us.
We tried everything. We made lists. We thought of our loved one's names (sorry everybody but your names are really uh...bland.) We walked up and down the aisle of the bookstore looking at author's names. Our ears were on high alert listening for that perfect boy name. We'd find one we sort of liked, use it awhile, then discard into the reject pile.
Of course finding something unusual is the trend nowadays. Long gone are the normal names of Jerry and Joe. It's great for me as people seem to question the name Richie less but bad for the kids these days.
Now, thanks to Gwyneth Paltrow, kids have names like Apple or Bannana. I'm seriously not making that up.
Then there's the unusual spelling...Jay'Den orJaz'Min.
I hate to critisize, but changing the spelling doesn't really make it anymore unique...it makes it um...normal. Your kid is still going to be called Jay'Den M. or Ky'Lee R. because every little person in the kindergarten class was given the same name.
And naming your kid Peapod is seriously just wrong.
I guess parents these days just try too hard, myself included.
The thing with the boy name is it needs to be manly and respectful. How is a man to be taken seriously when he's named Jaxx'son?
Two weeks before my baby boy was born my husband came up with Soren after Kierkegaard. I liked that it was unusual but not made-up. I like that we could tell him that he was named after a smart man. And I liked that it went so well with my late grandfather's name Josef. Who, by the way, really spelled his name in the old style. I wasn't being creative with the spelling.
I fell in love with the name Soren Josef and still love it today. I can't imagine him being named anything other than our precious SoJo.
So, any suggestions as to picking the perfect boy name? It's a lot harder you'd think and I figure I'd better get started now just in case.
By Robin Dearing
Thursday, February 22, 2007
The gym at Dos Rios Elementary was packed at 5:00 Tuesday night, filled with parents and grandparents of 1st graders from around the district. It was the annual Battle of the Books.
The Battle's participants qualified for the competition by reading at least 10 books from an assigned reading list then writing three questions for each book. Each school could have a team of up to three qualified students. The district’s gifted-and-talented teachers organize the event.
Margaret and her classmate/neighbor friend, Cora, both qualified to represent their school. There were 10 other teams three.
Bill and I sat nervously along side Cora's parents and siblings and waited for the battle to begin. We watched the girls fidget and squirm with excitement and nerves.
The rules were announced then each team was asked one question in a practice round. I zoomed in on the girls' faces with the video camera as they tried to answer their practice question. They didn't know it. We all got a little more nervous.
We didn't care about them winning so much as we wanted them to do well enough to be proud of themselves.
The competition began and the teams began answering questions. Then it was the girls' turn. They answered and were correct. We congratulated ourselves and braced ourselves for the next round.
Again and again the girls answered their questions correctly.
As they entered the final round, they were tied with five other schools for first place. They were read their final question and they gave an answer. It was incorrect.
They missed one question and that moved them back to second place.
First place or not, they are both winners in my eyes!
Battle of the Books was a wonderful experience for Margaret and Cora. They were disappointed they didn't win (the winners got pencils, after all!), but they were really proud of themselves and so are we — immensely so.
You can watch the girls answer their questions here
Wednesday, February 21, 2007
It’s 6:30 a.m. and I’m at work. I’m entering one of my slightly manic phases where I wake up before the crack of dawn and can’t go back to sleep. At least the traffic negotiating the 4,875 detours in the three miles between work and the Sentinel is much lighter at that time of day.
Today is Ash Wednesday and the beginning of the Lenten season for Christians. This evening I am faced with two choices. To go to Mass with Alex or to go with him to an equally important event that will be held here in Grand Junction at the same time. The event will be held at Canyon View Vineyard church (736 24 ½ Road) and features a free presentation by Barb and Rick Wise of Wise Choices www.wise-choices.org
from 7:00 - 8:30 p.m. in the middle school youth building.
Theirs is an interesting story and their message is one we don’t hear often. They encourage kids to abstain from sex until marriage. OK, this is not a lecture from the radical Christian right wing conspiracy. It’s just some encouragement to keep this issue on the front burner and to talk to your kids about it. It’s a tough message to sell and parents can feel like they are swimming upstream and against the tide. I am grateful for any help I can get from outsiders on the topic and want to pass that along to other parents as well.
Back to Barb and Rick Wise. When they started dating, they agreed to be tested for the HIV virus. Her test came back positive even though she had no current or prior symptoms of the virus. Long story short, they ended up getting married and now share their life and love story with teens across the country. If you can, be brave and go with your kid. They deserve to hear it and you deserve to treat yourself to resources like this.
Yes, they talk about sex and its’ place in the adult world. And yes they tell your kids its best to save it until they’re married. And yes they talk about the negative consequences of having sex while you’re too young and with too many people.
Obviously, you can deal with the whole subject however you want to with your own kids. Personally, I put it on the same plane as drugs and alcohol. I really don’t want to tell my kid that he probably won’t be able to resist having sex so here’s a condom. Just like I wouldn’t want to tell him he won’t be able to resist doing meth so here’s a clean needle. Or he won’t be able to resist getting drunk so here’s your own bottle opener. We tell our kids all the time not to do drugs or drink alcohol or smoke cigarettes. Why do we get all skitchy when we want to tell them not to have sex? Or at least wait until they’re adults to engage in adult behaviors?
Our teenagers have a lot more to negotiate these days than I do on my drive to work. Hopefully we’ll help them take detours that keep them safe physically, emotionally and spiritually.
By Richie Ann Ashcraft
Tuesday, February 20, 2007
Finally the sun is shining in the Grand Valley. The sort-of-warm 50 degrees feels pretty good after a dang cold winter.
This weekend we ventured out into the sun, took in a partial Mesa State baseball game, then stopped at the park.
Soren was happy the cold had finally lifted too. He immediately toddled his way toward the playground. He followed a few older kids to see what they were doing. But, if they paid any attention to him, he smiled shyly and ran back to orbit dad.
We sat under a tree and watched him dig. He loves dirt. I smiled as a big handful connected with his tongue. He spit and sputtered then looked up at me with a mud mustache. I just had to laugh.
It doesn't really bother me when a stick or a handful of dirt finds it's way into his mouth. I guess I'm pretty laid back about such things and I figure there's not a whole lot you can do about it.
Afterall, he is a boy. It won't be long before he's daring some kid to eat worms and lighting his own farts on fire.
I was happy to see him get down and dirty in the park as little kids should.
By Robin Dearing
Monday, February 19, 2007
That was the sound I heard over and over again all weekend long — thwack, thwack, thwack — the rhythmic sound of Margaret's jump rope hitting the ground.
Margaret and her neighbor friend played outside all day Saturday. They jumped rope and hula hooped.
Kate is a decidedly better hula hooper and Margaret jumps rope like a champ.
It was charming to see the girls play outside with simple toys without a care in the world. They invented games and ran around and screamed.
I, on the other hand, stomped around the house full of frustration. I was so filled up with energy-eating emotions that I could barely enjoy the first truly glorious day of the year.
I could feel those awful emotions bouncing off the inside of my skull — thwack, thwack, thwack — the familiar dull-pain of a migraine building. I struggled to enjoy the day, enjoy time with my family.
It was a losing battle from the beginning. I got as much work done as I could then I slumped on the couch with a dose of migraine medicine, a tall glass of water and the TV remote.
Thwack, thwack, thwack — it eventually began to subside as the medicine took effect.
Margaret eventually came inside for the evening smelling like dried grass. She was exhilarated and exhausted from her day of sun and fresh air.
She was happy to snuggle with me on the sofa as we watched a movie. I was happy to bask in her healthy glow of childhood — a cure for all my ills.
By Richie Ann Ashcraft
Friday, February 16, 2007
The first step is admitting you have a problem...or so I've been told.
My problem is I'm an information junkie. If I would have had kids ten years ago I would have been completely lost. How would I ever of had enough information to be a good parent?
Anytime I have a question or concern, I pop it into a search engine to get my answer.
Strange rash? I ask Doctor Google...which by the way I seriously do not reccommend. If you Google a word like hangnail it will tell you that you are seriously
ill and must seek medical attention immediately as you have some strange South African bacterial infection which will result in certain painful death. Then you'll walk around all day with your eye twitching because you just know this hangnail is going to kill you.
When I'm not popping random words into the Web I'm reading books like "What to Expect When Your are Expecting"
or "Your Pregnancy...Your Child."
Now, I've found a way to peruse the Internet and get FREE
reading material for my offline time. How cool is that?
I got every magazine for free...except the Parenting one which I had to subscribe to because my cousin solicited me to support the Girl Scouts. (Speaking of which, where are my cookies?)
It appears there is no catch to my online subscriptions. I just signed up and every few days a new glossy mag appears on my kitchen table.
On top of having my every question answered without having to admit I had such a stupid question to ask, I've found coupons for baby food, free baby lotion samples, and free baby cereal. If you formula feed there is no reason to ever pay full price for a can. Those companies are literally giving it away on the Web.
Here are links to free magazines:
I love this website! It compares your tiny fetus to fruit which I always have found strange but it is definately one of the best sites on the Web.
Pregnancy and Newborn
What's your favorite parenting website?
Thursday, February 15, 2007
With the exception of my mom having a strange and mysterious illness, it’s been a mostly uneventful week in the Lickers household. This is a good thing. My mom being sick is not such a good thing. We’ve made three trips to the ER in the past week and each time left with no more answers or a definitive diagnosis than the time before. The good news is that the gajillion tests they ran all came back normal. The bad news is because they all came back normal nobody has a clue what’s causing her distress. My mom is going crazy because she is not the type of person who likes to sit around on the couch because she has no energy to do anything more strenuous than that. They’ve ruled out stroke, hepatitis, heart problems, kidney failure, West Nile virus, brain tumors, and a host of other things. Now we’re down to testing for carbon monoxide poisoning, voodoo curses, and the mal occhio
At any rate, I hope they find out soon what it is and give her some magic cure. The fortunate thing is that she has three daughters in town along with her husband to fret over her, make jokes that most families would think insensitive, bring dinner and grandkids to cheer her up. And we know that we are blessed with good health in general and are mindful of those not so blessed.
All this makes me understand some culture’s custom of bringing as many children as possible into the world so they have a gaggle of people to look after them in their later years. It makes sense from that perspective. And it makes me ponder my own “elderly” years, several decades from now, when I might be in the same boat. Thinking of Alex’s current aversion to compassionate care, I’m starting to think the celebrity craze of adoption make sense. Maybe I ought to start thinking of that as a way to make sure I have more than one prospect for a ride to the hospital.
All kidding aside, I hope my mom gets well soon. She has a lot of stuff to do - cookies to make, quilts to finish, curtains to sew, worlds to save. In the meantime, she at least has her whacked out grandchildren around to make her laugh and her daughters who keep telling her a pedicure and a bottle of good red wine can work wonders.
By Robin Dearing
Wednesday, February 14, 2007
Yes, it may be one of those made-up holidays invented by greeting card companies, but that doesn't mean that you can't take the opportunity to remind those that matter in your life that you love them.
Valentine's Day at The Daily Sentinel office is marked by a steady stream of floral deliveries. We wander around the office enjoying the bouquets and oh-ing and ah-ing. It's a nice day.
Bill always gets me something lovely. This year was no exception:
Tulips. Oh how I love them. They're so elegant without being pretentious.
All of us here in the office got an early Valentine's treat yesterday in the form of a just-turned-one-year-old little boy who stomped around and delighted us all:
Soren is such a sweet little boy. His sunny face lit up with every new toy he discovered as he made friends across the office.
I even took a little video of him.
Sweeter than chocolate, that one is.