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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!
By Robin Dearing
Friday, June 29, 2007
And if mama ain't happy, then nobody's happy.
At least that's how it would be in my world.
Also, in Robin's world, the school district and city wouldn't think it's OK to require an entire school full of children to cross a busy street several times a day in order to play outside at recess.
That would be a crazy plan, right?
Not according to the city of Grand Junction and Mesa County Valley School District 51.
Yesterday afternoon, I attended an open house where the school district was sharing with the community plans for the new, not-yet-named elementary school to be built on Columbine Elementary's campus — which sits between Gunnison and Chipeta and 9th and 10th.
There were six plans displayed and we were asked for our comments.
One included a big courtyard surrounded by classrooms. I asked if that was going to be the location of the playground, as there was no playground noted on the plan. The architect said that they are working with the city on getting the playground moved across Gunnison to Washington Park.
Their plan is to have students walking back and forth across a major artery several times a day?
Gunnison Avenue is a busy street. The idea of my kid being carted back and forth, again and again, day after day, it is terrifying.
One representative from the school board assured me that Gunnison was going to be closed down during construction
. Then someone from the city said that only one lane would be closed. I love getting conflicting information, it makes my blood pressure rise so nicely.
Right now, Columbine has a very large field and playground area. But the architect doesn't have room in the new plan for much outdoor area for the children. Why is that?
The staff and faculty have no parking lot available to them at Columbine currently — they must park on the street around the neighborhood. So the architect's plan is to incorporate a parking lot into the site plan, thereby eliminating a safe playground for the children.
My sympathies to the staff and faculty who are forced to park their cars on the street and walk to the school, but isn't the safety of the children more important than convenient parking?
It would be in my world and I aim to see that it is in the real world as well.
By Robin Dearing
Thursday, June 28, 2007
As I whined
recently, sleep is a precious commodity in the Dearing-McCracken household. Not much has changed in the last week.
Margaret is still coming into our bed (last night when I asked her why she couldn't sleep in her own bed, she whispered, "Because I'm so far away from you guys."), Bill is still snoring all over me and it's still hot.
Regardless, I have been sleeping a bit better ... well as least well enough to have dreams — much to Bill's chagrin. Twice in the last week, Bill has been riled from his deep slumber by someone hitting him.
That someone is me.
It seems I've been having strange dreams that have caused me to lash out in my sleep — with Bill being the unfortunate recipient of my nighttime karate sessions.
Last night I was dreaming about something and Whack! Bill received a backhand smack to the gut.
Bill: "Why do you have to hit me in your sleep?"
Robin: "Zzzzzzz. Huh? What? I hit you?
Bill: "Yeah, right in the gut."
Robin: "You should proly stop whatever you were doing."
Bill: "I was sleeping."
Robin: "Well then, mission accomplished."
With that I went back to sleep and back to my bizarre agro-dreams that cause me to partake in nighttime ninja moves.
At least I’m getting some sleep.
By Richie Ann Ashcraft
Wednesday, June 27, 2007
Here's something you probably don't know and wouldn't have guessed about me: I grew up in an off-the-grid A-frame in southwest Colorado. If I had grown up in Sante Fe or northern California I'd be pretty cool...but in southwest Colorado in the 80s it made me a big dork. Some nights I was lucky to have enough electricity to finish my homework much less enough solar to watch Alf or curl my hair. The only heat source was a wood burning stove. We even had a solar shower in the back yard to maximize our energy use...and you know...to defeat the stereotype of a dirty hippie... which is what most people stereotype an environmentalist to look like.
Needless to say, environmentalism wasn't just a passing fad but a lifestyle. It's so ingrained it's almost like religion...I just don't question it, I just believe.
And now it's back into style with everyone discussing ways to save energy and help save the planet. Everyone's doing it...or are they?
I'm gonna say most people are all talk. For example, an SUV with a Kerry/Edwards sticker from 3 years ago. It kills me. But I'm not going to discuss the politics involved, you can get your politics from Denny
, or Bobby
...I'm just bringing up the issue of personal responsibility.
Soren's doctor recently said that he is the only baby she's seen in cloth diapers. The only one.
We all know that diapers take 500 years to break down in the landfill not to mention they are full of feces. Just think about how gross that is and now you know why we choose cloth.
Then there's all the packaging marketed toward parents with children. Serving sized peaches, string cheese, little tiny baby food jars, juice boxes, and on and on. It equals trash, trash, and more trash. There is only one other family on my street that I see put their recycle bags out. It costs $1 a month for curbside recycling and most people don't do it.
And this trend of putting a battery in every single toy in the toybox has got to be the number one overlooked faux pas on all the go green with kids lists. How long does it take for a disposable battery to break down in the landfill? My last toy shopping trip intentially skipped all toys battery operated.
It doesn't take much to make a difference. I'll admit that due to the very fabric of our society, I do plenty to increase my carbon footprint. I use one disposable diaper a day; I drive a car; I eat food; I use some chemically based products like hairspray that breaks down the ozone. But I try to make better choices and actually follow through on changing lightbulbs, recycling my tuna cans, taking Navy showers and using grey water on my lawn.
Our company kicked off a new program called Cox Conserves
in an effort to make a difference in the environment. Here is a great list they've complied of 99 Things You Can Do To Save The Planet
has compiled this list
of kid specific ways to green up your home.
If your family has tried some innovative way to save the planet lately...please let me know. I'd like to be a good example to my kids and whittle our footprint down to a four tiny thumbprints.
By Robin Dearing
Tuesday, June 26, 2007
Seven years ago today, Bill raced me over the St. Mary's just before 3 p.m.
By 4 o'clock, Margaret was born — a tiny, plucked-chicken little nut with a piercing cry.
Now, seven years later, my baby isn't really a baby at all. She's a kid ... and not even really even a little
Even though I've said this about every stage in Mar's life (I took to heart the warnings by other parents, "Enjoy them while they're young because they grow up so fast."), I really love this age.
Margaret is such a fun person to be around. She's light-hearted and funny. She's learning the fact that sometimes you just have to go along to get along. She's smart and quick witted.
She can do so much for herself: comb her hair, dress herself (even though she'll still let me pick out her clothes), make herself breakfast and keep herself entertained.
Because she's such a good kid, we let her decide how she wanted to celebrate her birthday this year: She could either have a small party with a couple friends at one of the notorious birthday spots (Chuck E. Cheese, Bananas, etc.) or she could have our family's traditional white-trash, everyone's-invited, front-yard extravaganza.
Margaret, of her own accord, chose the front-yard extravaganza, which we had on Saturday. And everyone had a blast.
It started with the kid party at 3 which included party games, smacking the pinata (which is really quite disturbing — especially when the children rip the poor pinata bull to pieces and wear the pieces on their heads like some kind of war trophy), cupcakes and snow cones.
At 5, the rest of our adult friends showed up for one of our famous pot-luck dinners.
Yes, most people provide food at their kid's birthdays, but we are potluck connoisseurs.
Our friend Rob had this to say about the famous Ouray Avenue potlucks, "It's a lot of pressure bringing food to these things. You can't bring your 'B' food. You have to bring your 'A' food."
And they did bring their "A" food. While Bill and I grilled the gratuitous dogs and burgers supplemented with yummy cheddar and beer bratwursts.
Instead of a cake, this year Bill and I baked cupcakes — two kinds: strawberry and chocolate in heart and star shaped tins. Everyone got to top their frosted cakes with an array of candy.
Margaret got a really lovely array of gifts that were thoughtful and really fun (Bill, Mar and I have already enjoyed the Monopoly Jr. — I think I like this version better than the original — and Twister. And Mar has been making custom cards and coloring pictures with her new art supplies.)
My favorite part of the gifts were the cards, especially the home-made cards:
The party lasted well beyond her bedtime ... even well beyond mine and while I was exhausted, Margaret's party was such a lively and fun celebration of her seven years, that I'll happily wear the bags o' no-sleep under my eyes knowing we did her birthday up proper.
Click over here to see a slide show of pictures from her party.