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Wednesday, August 8, 2007
It’s very quiet at my house. Alex left Friday with his dad to visit his grandparents and other relatives in the Boston area. It’s a good time for him to be gone, because the old house and the new house are in ruins right now during the move. I’m not really even sure where Alex’s bed is right now!
I have resisted the urge to call to see what they’re up to. Not that I would get much out of him in the way of information anyway. But I miss him just the same. You know how it is - when they’re gone you just remember the good stuff.
The hardest part is realizing the whole dang summer is just about over! It happens every year - you think you have all kinds of time to plan and do stuff, and then you don’t, and you’re thinking about Labor Day weekend. I console myself by remembering that fall is my favorite time of year, and that with luck it can stay warm through the end of October. Which is good, because the first so-called “teacher work day” is at the end of October so it’ll be a perfect time to go camping with no crowds.
Oh wait! I forgot to tell you all that Alex got his learner’s permit! Wow, talk about out-of-sight out-of-mind. Ha! Those of you who know me may find it ironic, if not terrifying, to think I am teaching the next generation how to drive!
More on that whole topic in my next blog . . .
By Robin Dearing
Tuesday, August 7, 2007
One of the things that Margaret asked for for her seventh birthday was a swing. It took us a while but we finally got around to granting that wish.
Over the weekend Bill and I worked on our long-neglected backyard and created a play area for Margaret.
This was a Herculean effort for Bill and I in that we had to clean up our entire yard which had sat and festered with weeds. We tried over the years to grow a garden and a lawn, but the weeds and heat overcame all of our efforts (I should disclaim that we're pretty pathetic when it comes to watering on our own — our front yard only thrives because we installed an automatic sprinkler system many years ago).
We started bright and early Saturday morning by rototilling the entire backyard. We rented a nice big rototiller that didn't yank my arms out of the socket. I was able to do most of the tilling while Bill dug out a laundry-line post.
The rest of the day was spent installing weed barrier, railroad ties and securing enough pea gravel to fill the area.
Sunday we built the wooden swing set. Yesterday Bill and Sean (there's nothing like teenage labor to help get the hard work done) moved the gravel.
Margaret helped by coming out back frequently and asking, "Is it done yet?" Yeah, she's definitely her mother's daughter.
This is what I found when I got home last night:
That bright smile made every backbreaking minute worth it.
By Richie Ann Ashcraft
Monday, August 6, 2007
Here's the most recent pointless study
I've come across regarding family dynamics. For those too lazy to click it basically says that a first child brings happiness to a home while the second child makes a mother less happy and a father has nuetral feelings. What is the point of even studying that? Am I supposed to do something with this information? I wonder if just by reading it it will predisposition me into feeling less happy when this baby comes.
We get bombarded with useless studies like this all the time. There was the one recently that said that second and third siblings didn't have as high of IQs
or that people who live together before marriage
are more likely to have their marriages fail and on and on and on.
I can tell you one thing....studies like these are really pointless in our daily lives. There a complete waste of time and money. I'm done with them. I'm going to happy regardless of what some dumb statistic says about me.
By Robin Dearing
Friday, August 3, 2007
Margaret has a brother that is 10 years older than she is. He's 16 and has little interest in spending time with his 7-year-old sister. I wish it were different, but it isn't.
With such a great age difference, Margaret is more like an only child. She doesn't have to share her toys or her room. And being that the teenager would rather eat his eyeballs with a spoon than spend time with his family, Margaret's often left to her own devices at home.
But that doesn't mean that she's alone.
She's got Quincy:
She's our 7-year-old Italian greyhound.
Quincy's like a dog, only skinnier.
When Margaret is scared to go somewhere around the house by herself, she'll get a dog treat and call Quincy. She'll be a willing dance partner, will always "get the ball" or Frisbee or whatever and she's a toasty bed companion as well.
If she's not in the mood for doggie play dates, then she has Frida:
Frida is the tortoiseshell calico that we got last Christmas
and she's the perfect pet for a little girl.
Frida is fearless and loves to be fussed with. Margaret will snatch Frida from whatever she's doing (usually attacking some sort of lint or balled up wrapper) and toss her into her baby carriage. And the cat stays in there and happily lets Mar push her around the house at a high rate of speed.
I've had a lot of cats in my lifetime and have never known one to be so willing to ride on chairs, carriages, in bags or where ever a little girl can think to carry around a cat.
I love having pets — even though they really do know how to dirty and stink up a house — but I love that Margaret has learned to love animals and knows the joy of always having a playmate.
Thursday, August 2, 2007
I woke up and it was hot in my room. Not so unusual for a summer night. What struck me as odd was that my bedroom door was shut. I always leave it open a bit so the swamp-cooled air can circulate. I glanced at the clock and noted it was 1:47 a.m.
I got up to open my door and noticed that sonny-boy’s door was open. Now that was really odd because he always shuts his door. I glanced at his bed and found it empty. Hmmmm, maybe he fell asleep watching TV. But no, the TV wasn’t on and as I began to awaken from my slumber it dawned on me that the little goober was NOT IN THE HOUSE!
So I call his cell phone and wished I could see the look on his face as he realized he was about to be busted.
“Where are you?”
“With (name changed to protect the friend I fully intend to blackmail).”
“Get. Your. Butt. Home. Now.”
As I waited for his arrival I stepped out into the front yard. Man, what a gorgeous night! Full moon, bright as day and still warm. I had to admit that if I was 15 I would want to be outside too. In fact I couldn’t help but experience a brief moment where I silently congratulated my son on his escape.
Upon his arrival I quizzed him about where he was (the neighborhood playground) and if his friend’s parents knew he was out (“Doubtful”).
“We’ll talk about this in the morning,” I told him dismissively.
I’d like to think he spent a sleepless night awaiting his fate and dreading my wrath the next morning. But neither of those things happened. When we finally caught up with each other (our work schedules are such that we only cross paths about 9:00 p.m.) I asked why he thought it was a bad idea to leave the premises.
“I know, because it’s dangerous, but it’s not like we were going to t.p. anyone’s house. We were just hanging out.” was his response accompanied by the world-famous-teenage-eyeball-roll.
So I gave him the standard “nobody out at that hour of the night is doing anything of redeeming social value. They’re all drug-crazed maniacs or drunks looking to cause trouble, yadda-yadda-yadda.”
Given that I still have his friend with the unaware parents that I intend to blackmail along with my son into helping me move, do you think I let him off too easy?
By Richie Ann Ashcraft
Wednesday, August 1, 2007
Do you remember the show Malcolm in the Middle
? I used to really like that show and I remember one particular scene where the parents flashed back to their pre-kid days. Their apartment was decorated in all white, they dressed in all white, and there were glass decorations everywhere. Flash forward to their modest lower-middle class house with the constant mess and kids breaking everything in sight. I thought it was super funny at the time.
Little did I know how truly true that was and how it would one day forshadow my own life.
Soren is destroying pretty much everything we own with his insatiable toddler curiousity. Everyday there is a new mark on the wall, a fresh stain on the couch, a page missing from a book, etc., etc.
One day I find him naked on the bed gripping a $7 tube of Clinique lipstick that he had been using to paint his favorite boy part. I had to warn the hubby not to be surprised by his colorful region at the next diaper change and then I promptly threw the lipstick out because it had been all over my kid down there. I would never be able to use it again without thinking of that.
Yesterday he emerged from the bedroom holding a compact of eye shadow that apparently had exploded all over his face. He looked like a young Tammy Faye.
In just under a year, he single handedly ruined the living room carpet with his sippy cup and bodily fluids. We ripped it up, put down a cheap rug and called it good.
Every CD has been removed from its case and gunked up with grubby fingerprints. Once organized lower level shelves are now a jumble of tupperware and various items that don't belong there. Books are shoved willy nilly in the shelf because it is a daily game to see how many he can pull out. Every room has a toy basket which he empties daily. My house is clean but far from impeccable.
And you know what? I don't really mind. I used to have nice stuff...big deal. It's just easier to resign myself to the fact that this is just how it is. Besides, I'm so over trying to impress people with my lovely home decorating. The sign next to my door should read "My house is...hell, let's just go to your house."
In ten years or so, I'll follow Lynn's lead
and buy myself a new house with new stuff. By then, the furniture will pretty much be a broken mess and the style will have changed anyway. In the meantime, washable crayons are this mom's best friend.
By Robin Dearing
Tuesday, July 31, 2007
Whenever we asked Margaret what she wanted for her birthday last month, her reply was always the same — "Heelys!
And our reply was always the same — "No way!"
I don't like the idea of kids wheeling around on these things. Plus the wheels in the heels provide an unstable walking surface and an odd gait. You can always tell a Heely wearer by they way they walk around on their toes.
Then the news reports
starting coming out touting the dangers of these skate shoes. Kids are falling all over the place, smacking their melons on concrete floors and getting concussions.
But Margaret's desire for Heelys was fueled this summer when her older cousin came to visit and wheeled herself everywhere.
"But they're so cool! And so much fun!" she'd cry after Bill and I repeatedly denied her request for Heelys of her own.
Then I got a text message from my sister-in-law, asking for Mar's shoe size, so they could get her Heelys for her birthday.
I called Bill. We had to decide what to do. Do we let her have the Heelys as a gift from her aunt and uncle? Or do we put our skateless foot down?
She now has Heelys of her own. Margaret was beyond excited when she opened the box. She put them on and proceeded to fall all over the house.
We were hoping that she would grow tired of the challenge of learning how to skate on the things, but by the second day, she was wheeling around like a pro.
She understands that they are explicitly banned from school. She knows that we get final say in when and where she can wear them. So far she's complied without complaint. But the whole thing still leaves me feeling a little spaghetti spined.
Monday, July 30, 2007
I have found that when I least expect them, and most need them, I am gifted with what I call “Moments of Grace.” They are moments that to an outside eye would appear rather ordinary, but in truth they are quite extraordinary.
One moment happened when Alex was about 18 months old. I was bustling about doing chores while Alex was happily chattering away doing happy toddler things. I was pretty tired when I finished and plopped down on the floor next to him. He toddled over to me with a big smile, climbed into my lap, put his arms around my neck and hugged me tight. I wrapped my arms around him and slowly rocked us back and forth.
Neither one of us said a word and I was filled with the most incredible feeling of peace and contentment. It was truly other-worldly and almost palpable. The rays of morning sun came through the window and bathed us in warmth as we rested in the quiet moment. I remember it in exact detail to this day.
Another such moment of grace occurred the other night.
It was about 9:00 at night and I was in bed reading when Alex got home from work. Usually we exchange greetings and he goes into his room, shuts the door and talks to the friend-girl until the wee hours.
Since it has been a tumultuous summer for us (to say the least) I was surprised that for some reason he decided to talk to me instead. And - get this - he actually came into my room and sat next to me on the bed! We chatted for a good ten minutes about things of no great consequence, but of great importance. His friend’s tendency to always wear a hat, the fact he is the only one at his job that doesn’t have blue eyes, the proper way to peel shrimp, and the number of pages in the latest Harry Potter book.
It was another true Moment of Grace. It came at the end of a stressful week and during a tense period in our mother/son relationship. The fact we were having any civil conversation at all was so refreshing!
I had that same feeling of being watched over from above, and being sent a message that love for our children really does bear all things.
By Richie Ann Ashcraft
Friday, July 27, 2007
Here's your chance to officially guess my new baby's time and due date. Unlike most pools these guesses are free and there is no limit to the number of guesses you can make. Just leave each guess in an individual comment so it doesn't get confusing for us.
Not that it will because Robin has plans to make a spreadsheet and everything. I was just gonna scribble it down on a desk calendar but she's all fancy so it's gonna be totally fair!
We'll scrounge up a small prize for the winner which Robin will happily drop in the mail. (Yes, I'm an alien and I've sucked Robin's brain and made her my slave....eeeek eeek eek...or whatever evil noise aliens make.)
My official due date is Aug. 20.
Guess Away Folks!
By Robin Dearing
Thursday, July 26, 2007
On our way home late one evening last week, Margaret started talking about how much she loved cars and how easy they made our lives and how they protect us from brain-sucking aliens ...
Screech ... what? Brain-sucking aliens?
I had only been half-listening to her ode to cars, but became fully engaged once the idea that my SUV would save me from having my gray matter Hoovered out of my skull by green, space aliens.
I decided that this would be a good time to dispel the myth that there is such inherent evil in our universe and that aliens would gain little from partaking in some homo sapien cranium tartare.
Me: Why would the aliens want to eat our brains?
Mar: Because they're mean and bad and they want to suck our brains.
Me. It makes no sense that a group of aliens — who don't even know us — would want to be so mean to us.
Mar: You know, it's like how it used to be a long time ago when white people had black people as slaves.
I was stunned. She used a horrific example from history to bolster her argument about brain-sucking aliens. Needless to say, I had no reply. Her analogy was watertight.
I was humbled by my child once again.