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By Richie Ann Ashcraft
Tuesday, July 17, 2007
It's funny how memories are made. You'd think that big events would be committed to memory easily and in some part are though often our brains lack the details. And then other flashes of days gone by are exactly that...a brief second of your life forever committed to the hippocampus.
Sometimes just as it is occurring you know that you will remember it forever and unconsciously decide to pay extra attention so that you remember it just right.
A moment like this occurred on Shipwreck Beach
last week. My husband and I had a moment of privacy on the shore and shared a gentle smack on the lips while the waves lapped at our feet. Soren was in his dad's arms beaming and clapping for his parent's show of spontaneous affection.
We tried to kiss him too but he answered with a stubborn "no" and shook his head back and forth so that planting him with some lips was impossible. He reached out grabbing the back of both of our heads and pushed our faces together so that we would kiss again. We did and he laughed in delight, repeatedly pushing us together until all of us were laughing happily. It's as if he has an innate sense that this kissing between his parents is a very very good thing.
Setting him on his feet he chased a seagull making a "baa baa baa" noise in mimick of the irritated bird. We watched him silently, our arms around each other, wondering how we ever lived without him; how lucky we are to have each other and such a sweet little boy.
I know I won't remember the car ride or the screaming or the random hotel rooms, but I hope I always remember those few minutes on the beach and that memory brings me comfort and happiness sometime in the future.
By Robin Dearing
Monday, July 16, 2007
Just in time for us to go camping next weekend, we sold our camp trailer
(thanks to The Daily Sentinel classifieds!)
What? Yeah, I know that it doesn't make any sense to have sold our camper just before our camping trip, but that's how Bill and I roll — without much logic and a whole lotta flyin' by the seat of our pants.
I loved that trailer and we always had a great time "camping"* in it. But we never used it as much as we wanted. So now we're back to tenting it.
* Because it really isn't camping if you have running water, a bed and a bathroom.
In order to stave off regret, we're going to invest in some good sleeping mats ... the idea of sleeping on the ground, or even worse an always de-inflating air mattress, is not something that would serve anyone who had to deal with me the morning after well.
But I am actually looking forward to camping in a more Spartan manner. Just taking our truck, tent, dog and ... oh, the kids ... and enjoying the simplicity of Mother Nature.
We here in the Grand Valley are so lucky to be surrounded by so many places that make for great camping all within a couple hours drive. Ever since we hiked to Hanging Lake
earlier this year, I've wanted hike around to some more of the wonders our region has to offer. And now we're not restricted by where we can get our trailer.
Plus, it's been so golly-gee-willickers hot in the valley, just idea of not having to sleep with 16 fans pointed at me, seems pretty wonderful.
By Robin Dearing
Friday, July 13, 2007
Recently our basic cable package was upgraded to expanded basic cable.
And. It's. Awesome.
So awesome that I've threatened to cancel it numerous times recently.
But I really don't want to because I love. Love. LOVE. it so much. Before we mostly watched a little of the three network channels and the Discovery Channel and more often than not, we didn't have the TV on at all.
Now, I can't wait to turn it on at lunch time and again when I get home from work.
Last week, I turned on a marathon of last season's VH1's World Series of Pop Culture
at lunch then came home after work and finished watching the season. World Series of Pop = Awesomeness.
And now there's a new season with new teams and new awesomeness. (Note to the young girl who got the category about ’80s music: Just because you weren't born yet, doesn't mean that your ears are immune to the joyous sounds of ’80s music. Please next time you're in a contest and don't know the answer, spare us all the rise in blood pressure and avoid saying, "I wasn't born yet" over and over. Oh, and buy yourself a CD or two from those ancient days before 1993.)
Do you know that you can watch Emeril Lagasse on "Emeril Lagasse Live!" hosted by Emeril Lagasse (that neckless dude is in love with saying his name)?
Bam! We like watching the Food Network. There are people cooking awesome food on that channel all the time.
And if regular food isn't your thing, then you can click over to the Travel Channel and watch Andrew Zimmern eat bizarre foods on his aptly named show, Bizarre Foods
I saw the dude eagerly eat the raw heart from a freshly killed kingfish with just a little salt and lime. Bizarre ... and awesome (but so not for me.)
Yesterday at lunch, Bill and I watched a replay of the July 4th Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest
After eating 60 hot dogs (that's right people 60), Takeru Kobayashi, the five-time champion, threw up in his hands and then ... well, it's just too gross to recount here. I actually had to leave the room, as I have an uber-weak stomach.
Needless to say, it was compelling on the grossness scale but only marginally awesome.
Oh man, the things I missed out on before I had expanded cable.
How did we ever survive before?
Thursday, July 12, 2007
Years ago during a job interview I was asked how I handled stress. My reply was a sincere “I don’t believe in stress.” It was true at the time.
Really, if you look back, the whole concept of “stress” was unheard of until it became popular in the early ‘80’s. Before that I think we just called it “life.” Now we have what must be literally a gajillion dollar segment of our economy built around stress and stress relief.
I’m thinking about this right now because I am pretty stressed. Being a single mother of a currently high-maintenance 15-year-old son is pretty stressful on a good day. And there haven’t been many of those lately! So rather than kick back for the summer I decide to buy and sell houses.
I got myself into it kind of by accident. We were thinking of moving to Palisade and started looking at houses there last April. It became apparent that all there was to buy were 850 square foot fixer-uppers and multi-million dollar estates. So I thought about just looking for a two-story house with a yard near where we live now. I put an ad in The Daily Sentinel classifieds for one day - one day! - and sold my house. Call classifieds at 242-1313.
So now I had to find a place to live. Which I did. About a quarter of a mile up the road. So now I’ll spend my summer packing, moving, painting and dealing with sprinklers and a lawn mower. Oh, did I mention the high-maintenance teenager? Yes, I promised him that if we found a house with a yard we could get a dog.
Shoot me now.
And it has to be a puppy. I know nothing about puppies except they pee on your carpet and chew up your furniture. What does my son know about puppies? Even less. But we’re still getting one and any suggestions on how to raise it (or the teenager) are welcome!
With all this happening, I am admittedly a little stressed. But all things are relative, as you know. I am grateful that all my needs and most of my wants are taken care of. Compared to huge segments of the human population I live on Easy Street. And I don’t want to be moving from there anytime soon.
By Richie Ann Ashcraft
Wednesday, July 11, 2007
If you really want to irritate me, come up and say "It must be nice...."
You can finish it anyway you want, "It must be nice to have a big house or it must be nice to be skinny." It doesn't really matter to me how you finish it ... it's an irritating phrase because it implies that the person you're talking about is somehow undeserving of what they have or some sort of elitist who couldn't have possibly worked and saved to get something.
But whatever you do ... do not come up to me and say, "It must be nice to take maternity leave," because that is the ultimate in irritating.
To be honest the first time around I thought the same thing many of my single friends think about maternity leave so I don't really blame them for their jealousy.
I had a list of things a mile long that I was going to do while off of work. I was going to spring clean my house, organize my kitchen, clean my closets, read a few books and spend some warm hammock time cuddling my new baby in the spring sunshine.
I was so so SO wrong. Let me just remind everyone what really happens on maternity leave.
First there's the whole hospital stay. There's a reason you're in the hospital ... because it's a very physical thing this having a baby business. Maybe you'll stay one day or four. You won't sleep in the hospital because you have a new baby, you have visitors, you have doctors and student nurses pushing on and looking at you. You have papers to sign and drugs to take. It hurts during and it hurts afterwards. The nursing nazis will come and feel you up. And all of your attention will be focused on this new baby.
Then you finally get to go home. You think it will be relaxing and it is for a second until everyone finds out you're home. Then the phone rings off the hook. The doorbell rings with flower deliveries. People come over. There's no cleaning because every single muscle you have hurts from pushing. Besides you're not supposed to lift anything; not that you care to. When you're not taking care of the baby you're spending time in the bathroom taking care of yourself and your stitches in the nether regions.
Then of course there's the mental taxation of keeping a brand new human alive. It's not that hard right???? Yeah, it's hard to keep a little person alive. They scream; they poop tar; they won't eat; they won't sleep; they won't wake up to eat. They might be turning yellow from jaundice and you have to go to the doctor. A nurse stops by to see if the baby is gaining weight and to discreetly make sure you don't live in a meth lab. You had to clean the house that morning so the nurse doesn't think you're a bad mother.
At night everybody goes to sleep except you and the baby. You might doze for a 1/2 hour or you might stay up and read some more about treating jaundice. Doesn't matter because it won't be enough sleep to live on. The baby will scream like you're sticking him with hot pokers. Somehow nobody hears it but you. A long sleepless night later, you'll fall asleep just as the phone rings for the first out of a hundred times that day. I never knew a person could live off of 10 hours a week of sleep but it can be done. Just ask any new mom.
Then you have to set up a pumping schedule to make sure you have enough milk for emergencies when you do return to work. You pump yourself like a dairy cow every half hour for two weeks.
This state of perpetual zombie-ism (nice word huh?) goes on for weeks. In my case it went on for months. There is no way a new mom can work prior to six weeks after delivering a baby. It just seems impossible to me to think that a person could have the mental or physical strength.
There's no cleaning house, no matinees or poolside cocktails. There's just screaming, and pooping and feeding.
An occasional fuzzy thought of love for your new baby and a hug from your husband as you admire this beautiful person that you are working so hard to keep alive is all that keeps you going day after night after day.
Maternity leave isn't "nice" in the way people think ... it's essential to a new family and to a new mom. It's a far far cry from a vacation. Remember that when you see my empty seat and think, "It must be nice ..."
By Robin Dearing
Monday, July 9, 2007
I realized I've been writing a lot about my family's sleep habits (or lack thereof) lately, but it's a big issue in our household.
See, Bill and I are used to getting many hours of uninterrupted sleep a night. So all this non-sleeping just doesn't seem fair to us. Especially since we worked so hard to help Margaret become a good sleeper.
When she was a newborn, we attached a co-sleeper bassinette to our bed and intended on doing the happy family bed thing. Yeah, that didn't work for us.
For the first six months of Margaret's life, no one slept for any extended period of time.
It wasn't until we started putting her down in her own crib that she finally started sleeping for four and five hours at a time. By the time she was eight months old, she was sleeping through the night and happily taking two naps a day.
We had a routine and a schedule and if we kept to it, everyone slept. If we didn't, no one slept.
If she was sick, or if we kept her up too late, or skipped a nap, she's get fussy (understatement) and would cry and not sleep. Bringing her into our bed at that time was not an option. She'd throw a fit with the kicking legs and failing arms.
She had to sleep in her crib, or not at all.
And sleep in her crib she did ... until she was well over 3 years old.
She never tried to climb out, so we just kept her in the crib and we all slept. She'd probably still be sleeping in that crib if we hadn't broken the sliding mechanism.
It was all OK, until she grew old enough to become scared at night ... scared of the dark, scared of monsters, scared of her room, scared of being alone.
Then we moved her out of the tiny nursery room that adjoined our room and into a full-sized bedroom about 20 feet from our room. She acts like it full of venomous snakes, vampires and lima beans, for all the fuss over how scary her lavender, stuffed-animal-filled room is.
Now Bill and I go to bed and bet on how soon it will be until our rapidly growing beanpole will sneak under our covers.
Since school's been out, I make Bill sleep on the outside of the bed, so he can deal with the 7-year-old knees and elbows that lash out in a frenzied manner each night. He doesn't have to get up for work in the morning.
And each morning when I get up for work, I see this in my bed:
Last night Bill and I had a long conversation about Margaret's sleeping habits. We agreed that it sucks that she brings her pointy self into our bed each night, but we also agreed that she's only going to be little for right now. Soon enough she's going to be too big to want to sleep with her mom and dad — that seems even worse than a nightly elbow to the eye.
By Robin Dearing
Friday, July 6, 2007
Because it's PEACH
season already and anyone who's ever tried eating a peach right off the pit knows that the juice is gonna get everywhere.
And what a wonderful thing that is.
Despite the million-degree temperature (OK, I'm exaggerating ... a little) last evening, Bill, Mar and I saddled up and rode our bikes downtown to the farmer's market. The street broiled our feet right through our shoes but the lure of fresh peaches was too great to stay home.
We sweated down Main Street, taking full advantage of the free water American National Bank was giving away. Bill and I had burritos while Mar enjoyed a slice from Pablo's. Then we bought a couple pounds of peaches, which had just been picked that day.
Our intention was to take them home and enjoy them over the next couple of days.
Yeah, that didn't happen.
We ate most of them sitting right there in the shade. The rest of them were gone before we hit the sheets last night.
They were so sweet and juicy and delicious ... man, what I wouldn't give for one (or six) right now!
My favorite way to eat peaches — other than right off the pit — is to thinly slice them and arrange the slices on a piece of slightly buttered toast. Mmmm.... good.
How do you like your peaches?
By Robin Dearing
Thursday, July 5, 2007
What a holiday: A celebration of all things American. Seems these days we need more than just one day a year to pay tribute to our fair country and all that it's given to us.
It's such a pure holiday with genuine significance and, for the most part, without controversy. People happily don their red, white and blue, gather their friends and family and celebrate.
In the immortal words of Martha Stewart: It's a good thing.
We had a wonderful Fourth.
Margaret's day camp spent the day planning and preparing dinner for us parents, which left Bill and I both home alone for the bulk of the day.
And we took the day off.
We're always doing something: working on the house, getting ready for a show, cleaning and/or organizing something.
But not yesterday. Nope, we took full advantage of our day off and did our best to stay out of the heat.
That evening we were treated to a chorus of patriotic songs followed by a full-service dinner prepared and served by a group of giggily yet sincere day campers.
After dinner I was ready to roll off to bed, but I managed to stay up long enough to watch the city's firework display from my neighbor's yard.
How did you spend your Fourth of July?
By Richie Ann Ashcraft
Tuesday, July 3, 2007
Last week, I woke up in the middle of the night wanting this:
A grilled peanut butter and jelly sandwich. I don’t know why. I’ve never had one. It just suddenly sounded really good.
With both pregnancies I never craved anything in particular. Nothing weird or unusual. No pickles and peanut butter or salsa over ice cream. I do have this thing for chocolate cherry cordial ice cream but I could eat that anytime pregnant or not.
But I can’t get the thought of warm PBJ out of my head. It just sounds so good but so weird.
Just out of curiousity, I Googled
it and recipe
popped up for the warm PBJ. It seems to have been Elvis's favorite sandwich
. Only he liked to grill the sandwich in bacon fat, add bananas and wash it down with a glass of buttermilk. Eww...now that is taking it a little to far.
Speakin of fat, this recipe for horse fat fries
nearly made me vomit yesterday. My coworker and fellow foodie Daniel likes to send me links that will make me gag. It's not nice really. Where would you even buy such an item? I'm sure they don't sell it at our Vitamin Cottage
, which is always full of unfriendly people by the way.
Anyway, I'm going to give the warm PBJ a try for lunch today. Why not? Pregnancy is the perfect excuse to give into weird cravings.
Check back after 1 p.m. and I'll let you know how it was.
And...it was great!
Soren and loverhubby liked it too. Think peanut butter and jelly on a piece of toast. As a matter of a fact it would probably be easier to just make toast and slather it with nutty sweetness. If I ever get this craving again I think that's how I'll make it.
What was your pregnancy craving?
Sunday, July 1, 2007
It’s really hot.
It’s Cat on A Hot Tin Roof
It’s Hot Town, Summer in the City
It’s so hot I want to waller in a mud pit.
It’s so hot I want to stay at my desk and work and not go outside hot.
Now that’s hot!
Why does it have to be so hot? That’s a whine - not a request for scientific, meteorological or global warming information.
Really, after it hits a hundred degrees, we get it. It doesn’t have to go any higher.
Besides whine and take cold showers, how do you keep your cool? Where do you go and what do you do for relief?
Please tell me. I’ve got to get out of this office!