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By Robin Dearing
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
My days as a stay-at-home mom are now numbered. I've vowed to spend the next few weeks playing with my boys more and spending less time cooking and cleaning.
Going back to work after maternity leave is hard and this time even more so as I'm leaving even more behind. I'm a bit of a control freak (understated) and if it weren't for a trusted family member there is no way I could return to The Daily Sentinel. With her help, I can monitor both of my kids' well-being, be home for all meals, still breastfeed Jonas and bring home the bacon. I have never left them for more than 4 hours at a time and I'm hoping to keep that the status quo until kindergarten.
Now that I've seen both sides the decades old debate of who has it better, the stay-at-home mom or the working mom, the pros and cons of each are continually running in my head.
SAHMs deserve all the respect in the world. From the outside it seems so easy. No boss, no deadlines and endless amounts of time to get things done and spend time with the kids.
But the reality goes something like this: Wake up and feed the kids, change the diapers, get them dressed and perhaps run an errand before returning home to start the cycle all over again. Often by 1 p.m. little else is done other than meals and clean-up. At nap time, a SAHM runs the vacuum and begins planning dinner. Perhaps she pays some bills or makes a few phone calls to schedule appointments. She picks up the house. She writes her blog.
Then there are those damn gorillas. A SAHM spends a lot of time discussing gorillas, the noises they make, the dances they do and how they say goodnight. Or maybe she discusses how Elmo uses the potty or that the cow says Mooo.
At dinner time she may find herself having very little to say except what cute things the kids did today or the new recipe she saw on America's Test Kitchen. Maybe she'll comment about how skinny Kelly is and wonder aloud to the hubby about why Regis doesn't do something about it. Yeah, the hubby doesn't care but listens politely as he devours this new pork chop recipe.
Isolation is very hard and now I know why there are so many mommy groups out there. Moms have to get out sometimes to discuss grown up things. But, there aren't a lot of people to hang out with because most are at work. Besides, if I were truly a SAHM there wouldn't be any extra income to spend in order to pass the time.
I will say staying at home is much less stressful than working. Being stressed about missing socks or scraped knees is much easier than the worries of lawsuits and the responsibility to the public to convey accurate and timely information. Perhaps it's unique to the media business but hearing about fatal car accidents and child molesting clowns all day really gets to a person sometimes. Working at a newspaper is stressful.
In some ways going back to work will be a nice break from my boys. But on the other hand leaving my boys at home with someone else is stressful too. I worry about them when we are apart.
A working mom has more money but less time to pay bills or schedule and attend appointments. Cleaning, laundry and meals are all still waiting to be done when a working mom gets home.
Working moms have to make sure their kids still know all the nuances of the gorilla.
And they have to feed their babies at 3 a.m. and still perform well in the office without anyone knowing how truly truly tired they are.
Being a SAHM is a 24-hour job but being a WM is 24 minus 8. Conclude what you will.
See ya'll soon!
By Robin Dearing
Monday, October 22, 2007
Bill, Margaret and I just got back from a trip to Washington D.C.
Bill had a conference, so Mar and I decided to tag along ... definitely one of the best decisions we made in a while.
I'd been to D.C. many times while I was in graduate school at Penn State — a mere three-hour drive away. Bill had visited before, too. This was, of course, Margaret's first time.
I love D.C. for so many different reasons. And I was hoping Margaret would love her time there as well.
That fact that it's our nation's capitol makes all my patriotic tendencies come bubbling to the surface, especially when I think about how our country was founded and all the things that I've been able to accomplish because I live in this country. Knowing that my daughter will have opportunities that are not afforded women in other parts of the world is something of which I'm very proud.
Plus there's a sense of history that is made palpable by the grandeur of the architecture. The monuments that line the mall are on such a scale as to remind us of the great accomplishments by some truly great Americans.
The dot on the exclamation point that is the dramatic power of Washington D.C. has got to be the U.S. Capitol
building. It dominates the skyline with its impressive dome and colonnaded facade.
Luckily for Margaret and I, Bill had the foresight to call Sen. Ken Salazar's office in D.C. and set up a tour of the building.
I knew that tours were available, I just never figured out how you got one. It's as easy as calling your elected representatives. Did you know that? I hadn't a clue.
At the time of our tour, our group (which included Bill's colleagues) headed over to the senator's office in a building near the Capitol. A lovely intern, Beatrice, took us over to the Capitol via a series of underground passages and even a mini subway system used to transport congressmen back and forth between the Capitol and their offices.
Again, I had no clue that congressmen get their own public transportation. Maybe I'm just slow.
Inside the Capitol we were presented with wonderful artwork and more amazing architecture.
I loved the Brumidi Corridors
on the Senate side of the building.
The level of intricacy and detail was astounding. A true feast for the eyes.
We all enjoyed by the statuary hall. Not just because of the lovely sculptures, but because of its acoustical properties.
Originally the statuary hall was location of the desks of the representatives. That was until it was discovered that it was a whispering gallery.
This is a phenomenon that allows a person to whisper on one side of the room and be heard on another side.
Despite the fact that the hall was filled with many tour groups, we were able to hear our tour guide as she stood on the other side of the hall. We were all pretty amazed when her voice seemed to be beamed down right on top of us from a very far distance and heard over the top of, at least, 75 other people.
But that's how the whole experience was for us — amazing. The elegance, remarkable detail and the utter care taken in the creation of our nation's Capitol is truly a wonderful sight to behold.
Thursday, October 18, 2007
"Why is the rum always gone?"
Captain Jack Sparrow, played by Johnny Depp
It's been a week. And that's all I have to say about that.
And when it's been a week, I think of a nice long hike followed by a nice glass of wine. Or a dirty martini. Last night's 50% off wine list dinner at Il Bistro Italiano helped. Thank you, honey!
I'm not saying that alcohol can solve your problems. It just makes them more distant, and they seem more trivial by your second glass. I wasn't driving and I'm big on responsible drinking, so please don't lecture me about all that. It's just that my Mojo is out of whack lately and so I turn to wine instead of whine. Everybody's happier.
In case you haven't checked it out yet, you need to tune in to Dave Buchanan's blog, WINE OPENERS
.The man knows what he's talking about and always has great wine suggestions. But he's never answered the question of what he does with all those bottles of wine he gets in the mail at the office.
Maybe he can answer the question about the rum.
By Robin Dearing
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
As much as I try to weasel my way into Margaret's psyche, she shuts the weasel hole and leaves me out in the cold. I would love to dress her in black turtlenecks and black Chuck Taylors, but she just won't have it.
So, I've stopped trying to force my way in and let her find her own way of expression. And the more I loosen the reigns, the more she's apt to follow. This revelation has been very fun for us.
Early in the year Bill bought Mar a cheap pair of slip on tennis shoes to wear to school. so cheap in fact that the insole has started to deteriorate and cause Mar no end of discomfort.
This weekend I took her to find a new pair of shoes. We looked through rack after rack of shoes, sorting through the shoes with all the rhinestones, silver foil and Bratz logos. My goal was a shoe that was most comfortable and too ugly.
As we walked down the aisles, I would point out ones that I thought she would like and some that I liked. She'd veto the ones I liked the most and try to talk me into ones with so plastic and things dangling off of them they looked more the an ornament for Liberace then a pair of athletic shoes.
Finally she picked up a pair of Vans
that were black, white and neon pink. I held my breath ... was she mocking me. They were adorably cute and exactly like something that I liked and knew her dad would love ... a skateboard shoe.
After trying on the size 2.5 pair and the size 3 pair about 15 times each, she assured me that the 2.5 was perfect.
I ran to the register, sure that she was going to change her mind at any moment.
I think her change in taste is due to the fact that she's inundated with the images and Bill and I love and it's just seeped into her impressionable brain.
For example, Friday I bought Margaret a little "Thanks for being such a swell kid" surprise gift. When she saw this gift, she proclaimed that I was the "best mother ever."
I was going for "coolest" mom ever, but I'll take the "best."
Cute huh? Yeah, they are cheapy stick on fake nails and lasted a total of 2 minutes once she actually started using her fingers for any activity other than fashion modeling.
Oh well, they were cute while they lasted.
Happy Birthday, Mom!
Thanks for everything. Hope you have a great day!
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
It’s been a sad week in our house because we’re missing Asher. Our little puppy made it through his ordeal but he is now living with some employee of the emergency vet clinic. I still think the way the staff handled things there was really pretty crappy but I’m dealing with that through other channels. We’ll get another puppy someday but we’ll never forget Asher. How could we?
"Can somebody help me up here?"
"A little nap never hurt."
Alex insists on keeping the crate in his room until he gets another puppy. He won’t even consider moving it to the garage. Fine with me. Asher thought it was pretty cozy.
Many thanks to all of you out there who called or commented with support and encouragement and righteous anger about the whole series of events. It was really uplifting to see so many nuggets of goodness in the people we know.
So . . . Alex went to homecoming this past weekend and I get no information from him, as you know. I pumped his friends for a few details and it sounds like it was the typical high school dance scenario - high on drama, low on actual dancing. Alex did a great job arranging the social agenda for the evening, complete with whose parents would drive who, when and where. Good job son!
His plans also included having about five of his friends back to our house after the dance for an evening of Halo 3. All I have to say about that is that any conversation you have with a group of teenagers that includes the phrase, “We didn’t think it would actually start on fire” does not bode well.
The fall weather is beautiful. I managed to fit in a hike with my sisters before the rain came this weekend. If all goes as planned we’ll be going on a long overdue camping trip this weekend. One of these days I’m sure I’ll have a working toilet in my master bathroom. So life goes on, and you suck up the bad stuff and remember there is, at the end of the day, a lot more good.
By Robin Dearing
Monday, October 15, 2007
This summer Margaret graduated from the little-kid pool at Lincoln Park-Moyer Pool to the big pool with the lap lanes.
I decided that rather than sitting next to the pool not getting the top of my bathing suit wet, that this year I'd take advantage of my kid's growth. While she happily swim around the pool or went down the waterslide over and over again, I swam laps.
It'd been years since I really swam for the sake of swimming and I'd forgotten how much I love it. It was great to be reminded of the joy of gliding through the water, getting a non-impact aerobic workout.
These past few weeks, I've been reminded once again of something that I once enjoyed quite a lot ... Major League Baseball.
I grew up just down the freeway from the Oakland Coliseum, home to the Oakland A's. When I reached high school, my friend, Jen, and I developed a love for the A's and baseball in general.
We started going to many of the home games. We always sat in the bleachers eating sunflower seeds and drinking giant tubs of diet soda. We invented our own names for many of the players and would run a constant commentary focusing on things that appealed to teenaged girls ... who was the cutest, who have the best arms and even sometimes we commented on their actual stats.
We both stayed home for college and we continued our trips to the Coliseum to watch our A's.
Then I moved to Pennsylvania to attend Penn State. There I was schooled on football which is practically a religion. I learned the fundamentals of the game and became not only an avid Nittany Lion fan, but a Pittsburgh Steelers fan as well.
After moving to Grand Junction, I didn't follow football as much and never rekindled my love for baseball. I haven't been much of a sports fan for the past couple years ... I guess I've been an avid kid watcher instead.
But that has all changed now that the Rockies are in the playoffs ... and not just in
the playoffs but killing
'em in the playoffs. Their games have been some of the best baseball I can remember watching.
So thanks, Rockies! Thanks for reminding me why I love baseball. Oh and let's finish off this sweep of the D-backs tonight, eh?
Onward to the Series!
By Robin Dearing
Friday, October 12, 2007
After Margaret was born I sat around nursing her non-stop for months. I wore elastic waisted skirts and Bill's t-shirts. Every now an then, I'd try on my pre-pregnancy jeans ... I guess I should say that I'd try one leg of my pre-pregnancy jeans on, because I couldn't get them up over my ginormous thunder tights. All those gallons of rocky-road ice cream that I ate during my first trimester really came back to haunt me.
Even after I miraculously lost all my pregnancy weight, I still couldn't get into my pre-pregnancy jeans. My body changed. I can't even complain that it changed for the worse, because it wasn't very good to start with.
I love being a mom and having a squishier body is just one of those things that I wear as a mama badge of honor.
But there are women who are born to give birth gracefully. Richie
is one of those women.
She stopped in the office recently with both her boys in tow ... wearing jeans ... two months after having Jonas.
It's a good think I love her so much, because otherwise, I'd probably hate her. She looks great and the boys are as cute and sweet as can be:
By Robin Dearing
Thursday, October 11, 2007
Yesterday's Breast Cancer Awareness entry was by Blonde Mom Jamie. I forgot to tag it correctly when I posted it.
All women and men who love the women in their lives should be reminded that breast cancer can strike anyone regardless of family history.
By Robin Dearing
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month
and while many of these type things blip right by my mental radar, this year it's personal, and not just because I have boobs.
During my annual pap smear early this year I told my OBGYN about a pea size lump I had found in my right breast. He surprised me by immediately sending me to see a breast surgeon. Now while I would love to tell you that I was strong and unwavering in my faith, I was filled with doubt and anxiety after I was then sent for a routine mammogram and the radiologist seemed gravely concerned and told me I needed both an MRI and a biopsy. I didn't tell my family about any of the tests because it was all so uncertain. I am blessed with great health, as well as great health insurance, and fortunate in that I've never had to go through any type of medical testing. There is no history of breast cancer in my family.
Thankfully the results from the core biopsy I had on my right breast as well as a lymph node back in March showed that I had nothing to worry about.
The pea size lump disappeared and turned out to be nothing but fatty tissue and the larger fibrocystic mass that the radiologist I had seen (after the breast surgeon I'd seen had said everything looked fine) was concerned about turned out to be benign. I sported one scary looking bruised Frankenboob for a month or so, but it was a small price to pay for knowing I was healthy.
I did a lot of research while waiting for all my test results. I read about breast cancer risk factors
and was surprised to find out that having your first child after age 30, as I did, is a risk factor, as well as is taking oral contraceptives.
I have a six-month follow up mammogram this month. Am I looking forward to it? Not really, but getting felt up by a total stranger is worth knowing that I am in the clear and that I will be here for a long time to drive my family crazy, not to mention love them like crazy.
Help spread the word about breast cancer awareness. Early detection is key (and eight out of ten breast lumps are benign!) Who knows, you might even help save a life.
Some facts and links:
From the Breast Cancer Site
: If detected early, the five-year survival rate for breast cancer exceeds 95%. Mammograms are among the best early detection methods, yet 13 million U.S. women 40 years of age or older have never had a mammogram.
Check out Think Before You Pink
or this great USA Today article
for information on how you can shop for a cause!
Horchow's website features fun think pink kitchen items
so you can cook and entertain for a cause.
Coldwater Creek has several "In the Pink"
Design-Her-Gals has also launched the first ever virtual walk
to raise money to help those diagnosed with Stage IV breast cancer (with a minimum donation of just $3.)
Read more from Blonde Mom Jamie on her blog, Blonde Mom Blog.
Tuesday, October 9, 2007
When Alex got his puppy Asher I made it clear to everyone, especially to myself, that this was not my dog. I griped about him, even as I l went home three times a day to check on him. Even as we built him a fence in the back yard so he would have lots of room to play, and run around and be a happy little puppy. I apologized when I called my sisters and asked them to please come over and visit Asher so he wouldn’t be lonely during the day because after all, he is very much a people-person dog.
In the morning as I drank my coffee and tried to read the paper while Asher nipped my leg for attention, or when he stopped eating his breakfast and came over for some hugs and love before he finished, I told him (in baby-talk of course), “Don’t think that just because you’re the cutest little puppy in the world that means I’ll miss you if we ever give you away!”
That was the biggest lie I ever told.
Last Friday Alex took Asher over to his girl friend’s house. About 9:45 Alex called and said Asher had fallen down while they were walking, and his tooth went through his lip. He was bleeding and they took him to the breeder's house. She said that mouth wounds bleed and Asher would probably be OK.
About 15 minutes later Alex called back and said they were taking Asher to the emergency vet clinic and to meet him there. You know, the same place we were two weeks earlier.
When I got there I was beyond shocked when I saw the amount of blood covering the kids and their clothes. They looked liked they had been stabbed. Alex was wearing borrowed clothes because his own had become too blood soaked to wear.
What on earth? What now with this dog? I muttered to myself as I signed the paperwork guaranteeing I would pay the $500, at least, and the DNR papers, etc.
The rest of the night passes in a horrific blur. The vet came out to tell us that Asher had lost a tremendous amount of blood and was in shock. His tooth had punctured the only artery in his tongue and it wasn’t clotting. She asked if the puppy could have eaten rat poison.
We just moved into the house and I didn’t put any anywhere. Then we recalled on Tuesday we came home and found Asher under the deck. We thought it was funny he squeezed under there to hang out when his comfy crate was on the top of the deck. If that’s where he got into it, it had to be under there.
The vet called us into the consultation room and gave us the news. It was one of the suckiest moments of my life and probably Alex’s too as she said that Asher required a transfusion, was in critical condition and was basically bleeding to death.
She rattled off a bunch of numbers about his blood levels being half of what they were supposed to be, his temperature was dropping, blah, blah, blah. Then she asked what we wanted to do. “Do? How much is our decision going to cost?” About $1,800 just for the critical care and the first transfusion. Then of course we don’t know, maybe another transfusion, hundreds of dollars more, don’t know what his outcome will ultimately be.
I wanted to throw-up, I wanted to melt in the floor, I was sure I was going to hell at this moment as I turned to Alex and told him, “I can not pay for this, Alex. I’m still recouping from the last visit. What do you want to do?”
How could I ask a 15-year-old to make that decision when I can’t even make it myself?
After much agonizing deliberation, we sobbed as we told the vet to put Asher down. Then the vet starts babbling about how we could put his body in the landfill, and more blah, blah, blah. “For god’s sake,” I thought. “How do you drive home with your dead puppy’s body?” Then the vet said. “Or you could pay for his care up to this point which is just over $600 and sign him over for adoption.”
Why the hell didn’t she say that in the first freaking place? We went in to see Asher and to say good-bye. That sweet puppy raised his head and looked at us with those beautiful brown eyes as if to say he understood. I paid the bill and we left knowing we wouldn’t have Asher but hopefully somebody would.
It sucked. It sucked. It sucked. It sucked.
Alex was silent on the way home. I began to tell him how sorry I was. “Just don’t say anything mom. I know it’s not your fault but I don’t want you to say anything.”
I sobbed all night. He wasn’t my dog you know, and I wasn’t going to miss him. I was sorry for Alex. Yeah.
Alex got up early the next morning. “Mom, can we get him back?”
“I don’t know honey but we can try.” I called the clinic. Well, once you sign a puppy over you can get him back if nobody else has adopted him yet, and you pay for his care which by now was multiple thousands.
Did I mention how much this sucked?
The vet called early Saturday to say that Asher had his transfusion and was resting comfortably. He was still critical, but still alive. Saturday afternoon the clinic called to get some info about Asher for his adoption and said he was due for another blood test in a while which ultimately showed he was still bleeding internally.
I didn’t have the guts to call for an update on Sunday so I asked Rick to call. The clinic told him that Saturday night, after a second transfusion, he still wasn’t doing well and they had decided to put him down after all. But one of the employees at the clinic said she would foot the bill for a third transfusion if they would let her adopt him. Which I guess they did, and she did.
What? How do you reconcile this? She gets to pay for just the transfusion and gets to keep my dog? I mean Alex’s dog? How come I don’t get that choice? I’m out over $2,000 in the three weeks we had this dog and Alex has no dog at the end of it?
How come she gets to see Asher grow up and run trails with her? Or catch lacrosse balls? In God’s grand scheme of things does she need this dog more than Alex does? How come Alex waits ten years to get a puppy and only has him three weeks? Or should we just be grateful that Asher is still alive as far as we know? (I don’t have many good things to say about the alleged “caring and compassionate” treatment of people from this clinic, I must say, and I can give you those details if you want off-line.)
It sucks. It sucks It sucks.
I miss Alex’s dog. I can’t go out in the back yard because he’s not there. I refuse to vacuum or mop the floor because he was just there on it looking up at me with those brown eyes. I read the whole paper this morning without having to deal with the puppy and it sucked. Every time I open the pantry or the fridge (“It’s the land of food, Asher”, Alex would tell him) there is no puppy to scoot out of the way. The crate is still in Alex’s room and I can’t bring myself to look at it let alone do something with it. Alex has it covered with a blanket. I wish I had taken more pictures. I hope I can stop crying soon.
As of now (Monday), Alex doesn’t know the rest of the story. He was at work all day Sunday and then went out with some friends. Rick is picking him up after school to tell him. I’m not supposed to be there because I’ll add too much emotion. Me? It’s not my dog.
There’s a song that says only love can break your heart.
They forgot to say it was puppy love.