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By Robin Dearing
Friday, December 1, 2006
Don't know what to give those that have everything and need nothing? Click on over to Shutterfly.com
where you can make great quality photo calendars, card and even books.
I love to give presents, especially to my husband. When his first Father’s Day rolled around I spent a lot of time thinking of that perfect gift. I thought, “what if I could make him a book or something.” So, I Googled “make my own book” or something like that and came up with Shutterfly.com.
It looked simple enough to upload pictures, add captions and the price was right. I spent the next few days sneaking pics and uploading them onto the Web site. I spent a lot of time choosing my words and pics carefully. I pushed the check-out button and crossed my fingers it wasn’t going to be junk.
And it SO wasn’t. I had it shipped to work and showed ALL of my coworkers. I had the book in one week from the time I ordered it. The pages are glossy, the photos are beautiful, and it is one of the best presents I have ever given to anybody.
He was flabbergasted. Tears flowed I tell ya. I doubt that I will ever get that reaction from a gift again. Yeah, it’s that good!
So good I’ve told all my friends. My book started a Shutterfly frenzy here at The Daily Sentinel as coworkers began making their own books for family reunions, new babies and best friends.
I also made Christmas cards using Shutterfly this year with pics of our family. They turned out lovely as expected. Today my sister-in-law called to tell me how beautiful she thought the card was.
Following Richie's lead, I went to the Shutterfly
Web site to create some Christmas gifts for my hard-to-shop-for in-laws.
I found the site very easy to navigate and uploading pictures is a breeze. I was able to upload a whole bunch of pictures that I organized into a book.
The site has lots of nice backgrounds, fonts and colors to personalize your project. They even have a feature that will autoload your pictures into the book template, if you don't have the time to organize it yourself. You can personalize it as much or as little as you want.
Richie is not exaggerating the quality. They sell a really nice product.
And they don't just do books. You can get calendars, cards and photo prints (for .19 each!). When I opened my account, I got 15 free 4x6 prints! Plus you can host your photos so you can share them online as well.
Shutterfly is a user-friendly, affordable, high-quality shop. I highly recommend them.
I hope I get a digital camera for Christmas this year ...
Thursday, November 30, 2006
OK, so I have this “friend” who has a son the same age as my son.
Her son, like many teenagers, is plagued with what one might call severe, persistent acne. Her son has been on different prescription medications for about 6 months now to no avail. Her son claims the acne doesn’t bother him, and indeed it doesn’t seem to. However, it really bugs my friend. She thinks people will think badly of her for not taking her son to a dermatologist for treatment, when in fact she has. She is also concerned about the long term effects like permanent scarring, infections and the like. So she took her son back to the dermatologist who, after a lively discussion amongst the three of them, recommended the prescription drug Accutane.
Her son was thrilled. “One pill once a day and that’s it? Yeah baby, I’m all over that. Let’s do it!” My friend was a little less enthralled and became slightly alarmed when the doctor ticked off the possible side effects.
“Yes, Accutane is great because you’re on it for 4 months and then virtually done. But the side effects include pancreatitis, liver failure, stroke, muscle and joint pain and weakness, psychosis, depression, suicide, slowed bone growth, vision impairment, hearing impairment and long term diarrhea. Plus, you must have blood tests to check for liver function before and every 30 days during treatment.” The doctor then went on to explain the drug is only dispensed, by law, in 30-day doses so people are sure to get their required blood work done.
They let this stuff on the market? For god’s sake - heroin is less dangerous. And a lot
less expensive, too.
Oh, and just so you know, if you’re female it can cause serious birth defects should you become pregnant during and for a short time after treatment. Well, at least my friend and her son didn’t have to add that to the list.
After weighing the “rare but potentially severe” side effects, my friend and her son decided to give it a go. Her son was only concerned about the liver failure but figured it wasn’t going to happen overnight and that’s why you had the blood tests. My friend was concerned about all of it. I mean the whole purpose of the drug is cosmetic and you’re potentially risking life and limb? My friend did a lot of research and even looked up the clinical trials. Is 1% statistically significant? Chicken pox vaccines carry a higher potentially dangerous risk than that. But what if you’re the 1%? Is the upside of being “cured” of acne and all that it carries with it through your formative-in-every-way years worth the risk?
What would you do?
By Richie Ann Ashcraft
Wednesday, November 29, 2006
As mentioned Monday, Soren has been sick. It's been total hell at my house for days! Robin didn't mention here
how truly terrible a screaming sick child is. I was totally unprepared.
Saturday night his fever spiked to 103.4 degrees, which was really scary. I thought an emergency room visit was imminent but we stripped him down and gave him a lukewarm bath. A little more Tylenol and a whole lotta luck brought the fever back to a manageable 102 where it stayed for almost three days. The poor kid was tuckered out when it finally passed and so were mom and dad. We all breathed a sigh of relief as we thought the worst had passed.
Of course not! Then an angry rash started to spread over his entire body. He would squirm and moan whenever anyone touched him, but he didn't want put down. If I so much as had to set him down for even a second he would crumble into a pathetic mass of a little boy and scream his bloody head off.
It looked something like this:
The rash had spread to his face and at one point I really thought he may be going blind as he could hardly open his eyes to see. I know it seems irrational but these are things that run through a new mom's head when her son is sick for the first time.
I didn't know what to do...take him to the doctor so they could tell me he was fine or just ride it out to see if it would pass. I took him to the doctor after a couple days of rash.
I was embarrassed to show the doctor his mottled body as it must be a reflection of what a terrible mom I am. I mean who lets their kid be rashy for two days??? Not good mothers I'm sure!
I could just hear the scorn as the doctor said "Mmmm-Hmmm, I see."
His answer was it could be roseola
or it could be an allergy to either the virus which was likely or to any new foods he may have had.
Geez, hard to pin that one down as he just enjoyed his first Thanksgiving the day before he got sick. Regardless he prescribed Benedryl and sent us on our way. Well, at least he's not going blind. And the medicine is starting to work. He's looking and acting more like my happy baby every minute. Although I have this sneaking suspicion he may be milking this sick thing just to imbibe on the all night breast bar.
Needless to say I'm in need of a little relaxation. I jumped at the chance to interview Christine Gallagher, a certified Acutonics
practitioner, for our Charm page. She let me hop up on the table for a mini mom-rejuvenation.
She began by ringing a Tibetan prayer bowl. Then hit tuning forks against a rubber pad strapped to her leg. The vibrating forks were place at acupressure points on my legs, lower back, belly and head. I have to say it sure did give a much-needed pick-me up.
By Robin Dearing
Tuesday, November 28, 2006
We put up our Christmas tree this weekend.
So it seems only appropriate that mother nature would go ahead and drop a thin blanket of the white stuff just to make things look more Christmassy.
Growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area, I can count on one finger the number of times that I woke up to snow in the yard as a kid. But I definitely got my fill while in grad school in Pennsylvania.
I was 23 years old when I moved to the East Coast and didn't even own a proper coat or boots, let alone a snow shovel. I was horrified the first day it snowed and I realized that I was going to spend an entire winter walking, driving and living in snow.
I fell down every day until my parents took pity on me and bought me a pair of Sorel boots. I had to have the antifreeze changed in my car so it would protect down to 40 below. I bought a hat and scarf. But I figured out how to survive the winter.
Then I moved to Grand Junction, where I've seen people wearing shorts in the dead of winter. Of course, the dead of winter in Grand Junction is much closer to what I experienced in California than Pennsylvania.
I like winter here. It's charming. We get a little snow and we all Ohhh and Ahhh over it until it's gone around noon. But we can drive up to Powderhorn and I can watch my kids ski and snowboard.
Here's Margaret last year taking her first ski lessons:
I'll admit that I did get a little teary-eyed when I watched her ride the lift by herself the first time, but I'm so glad that we're taking advantage of our surroundings.
And it's not just the skiing or the mild winters, it's so many things about the Grand Valley.
I love that we chopped down our Christmas tree from a lovely Christmas tree farm on East Orchard Mesa that provides free hay rides and cider.
I love that most of the houses on our street put up some kind of lights or decoration. (Bill spent a good portion of Sunday putting lights on our house, but I think the house is either cursed or hates Christmas lights. No matter which string of lights Bill puts up, one or more strings will inevitably go out. This year it is the lights on the entire left side of the house. He has fixed them twice so far to no avail. I think it's a light conspiracy.)
It's defintely a wonderful time of year.
By Richie Ann Ashcraft
Monday, November 27, 2006
Soren must think I can work miracles....
I got a call about 11 a.m. Friday saying he had spiked a temperature of 102 in the couple of hours I'd been at work. (Yeah, has it been a rough week!) I said give him the .125 dose of Tylenol and I'd be home in a bit.
Arriving home, I found the poor thing lying belly down in his crib with wide unblinking eyes. His little body was emitting heat waves into the sick aura above him.
I carried his limp body to my bed where we covered up and I let him nurse. I dabbed his forehead with a cool washcloth just like my own mother had done to me so many many years ago. I whispered words of encouragement and patted his sweating back.
Miraculously he started to stir, fondling the washcloth and applying pressure to his own head. Soon his flushed cheeks and eyes like a baby doe turned toward me with a look of genuine appreciation. His fever had broke.
A few more minutes and he began to jabber and wiggle. I cuddled him awhile longer before returning to work. That Tylenol works wonders but I'm sure my little boy gave me all the credit. I'm happy to let him think that.
By Robin Dearing
Friday, November 24, 2006
Just as the house full of people sat down to enjoy their Thanksgiving meal, my precious daughter stands up and proclaims, "Git. In. Ma. Bel-lay" a la the Mike Myers character from the Austin Powers movies.
She got a big laugh while I stared at my cranberry sauce with reddened cheeks. One of the friends with whom we shared the feasting holiday said, "Bill just said the same thing about 20 minutes ago."
She's so like her dad.
Earlier in the day while wishing my parents a happy turkey day via telephone, my mom asked me what I was bringing to the annual orphan's Thanksgiving dinner that we have with our friends.
"Me, specifically? You're asking what I'm
bringing to dinner?"
She paused and then said, "What am I thinking? What I meant was what is Bill making for the dinner?"
"Two kinds of potatoes, white and orange." Orange potatoes — some people call them yams or sweet potatoes. Bill makes them just like my mom does with lots of butter, brown sugar and marshmallows.
Just before Margaret waddled off to bed last night, she ate one final bowl of orange potatoes — they are pretty much our favorite Thanksgiving dish. But believe me, Bill's garlic, mashed potatoes coupled with our host's amazing turkey gravy came in a close second.
This year as I gave thanks for my wonderful friends and loving family, I placed a mental asterisk next to my husband's name.
I am so lucky to have a husband who can deal with all of my idiosyncrasies with such loving grace.
I am not an easy person to live with: I'm moody and difficult with a nasty temper. I have a number of irrational fears that prevent me from acting as a bona fide adult much of the time. I need constant supervision and someone to feed me or I'd end up eating Cheerios and American cheese sandwiches for every meal.
My life is so much richer now since Bill foolishly fell in love with lo those 8 years ago. I have my daughter and stepson who challenge me every day to be a better person and therefore a better parent for them. I have a partner in life who never lets me take myself too seriously and sacrifices so much so I can the things I want.
His selflessness overwhelms me. His biggest flaw is that he doesn't (or more accurately, choses not to) see my weaknesses as weaknessness; instead, he thinks of me as charmingly eccentric.
And that is something for which I am thankful every day of the year.
By Richie Ann Ashcraft
Thursday, November 23, 2006
I've been wanting to add some video to our blog but somehow can't find the time to figure out how to do it. But, here's a little video of this baby
that will make you laugh infectiously! Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!
Wednesday, November 22, 2006
The only thing as powerful as sex is money.
OK, an icy cold vodka martini is up there too. In fact, shake or stir all three together and empires could topple. Probably have.
As responsible, involved parents, we’re hopefully having on-going discussions with our kids, especially teens, about how, when and if to get involved with sex and alcohol. But how many of us are having those same responsibility-themed discussions with our kids about money?
Personally, I like money. I like earning it, spending it, investing it and just plain having it. I understand it and feel comfortable with it. Above all, I’ve always been responsible with it. (Sometimes more so than with other members of the power trilogy.) I’m not sure where this responsibility and understanding comes from. It’s certainly not a family trait.
For her 65th birthday, my father got my mother a checking account. “It’s about time she learned how to use one,” he muttered. Mom just had no use for it what so ever, and if she could have returned it, she would have. She continues to pull out the credit cards when she buys something.
One sister has no concept of money. Fifty cents or fifty thousand, it’s all the same to her. One sister married into gobs of it, so she’s off the hook. My brother has the first dime he ever made and will most likely never part with it. Another sister constantly whines they have none, even as they board the cruise ship for the Bahamas.
So how do you start teaching your kids about the power and responsibility of making and handling money? I talk to Alex about things like interest rates, compound yields, the stock and bond market, and the bulls and the bears along with birds and the bees. He likes money too. Mostly to have it to spend on paint ball “bullets”, snowboard stuff and candy and gum he’s not allowed to have. And he likes the idea of earning it, but is not too crazy about the whole job thing that goes along with that.
I admit I’ve been pretty sporadic about doling out allowance. Right now he gets $40 a month that is supposed to cover all the “extras”. Some of that also should go into his savings account, but doesn’t make it unless I take it there. Did you know that if you save $1,000 a year from age 16, and put no other money aside, you will have over a million buckaroos when you reach age 65? Yeah, I know what the future value of that is, but tell a teenager he’ll have a million bucks and you get his attention.
So are our concepts and feelings about money part of our DNA? Or are they learned? Do you talk to your kids about money? Do they get an allowance? How much and what do they spend it on? Do you ever veto their purchases? I’m interested to know how other families handle the power of the green.
By Richie Ann Ashcraft
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
I'm still recuperating over a particularly stressful Monday. You know it's bad when that frazzled feeling lingers into Tuesday morning.
It actually started Sunday when we noticed that the crusty patches of skin on the baby's legs were starting to spread. "Maybe he has some flesh eating disease," my hubby joked. Um....see you should never use the words "flesh eating disease" and a mother's child's name in the same sentence. Especially not to a mother like me who worries that kid may eat glass or fall down imaginary stairs or any other number of outrageous scenarios that play in my head on a daily basis. Yeah, the apron strings are tight, I know and I should work on that.
So Monday started with an urgent phone call to the doctor. "You must see my son right away as he has a flesh eating disease!" I can be quite demanding and they fit me right in.
In the meantime, I had a whole day's work plus some to make up for the upcoming holiday in front of me. I wrote at a furious pace pounding out two articles for the Charm page and completing numerous other tasks. I worked well into the lunch hour leaving myself 15 minutes to drive home, load up the baby, and make it to the doctor's office.
Where we waited and waited and waited. Then we went into the examination room and waited some more.
Turns out his flesh eating disease is just eczema. Phew—we dodged that (only happens in third world) bullet!
I reversed steps, inhaled some cold Taco Bell, and sped back to work. Where I pounded out some more work before the next doctor's appointment.
Turns out I really do have a flesh eating disease that needs to be dealt with, but that's a whole other story.
Next we loaded up the kid again and hit the grocery store. I threw whatever into the cart and I still don't really think we gathered anything to eat.
Went home, made dinner and finally kicked off my heels at 8 p.m. By nine the whole family was snoozing.
I guess my point is that the hardest part of being a working mom is just having every single minute of every single day booked solid. There's just no down time either mentally or physically. It's HARD to be the mom!
By Robin Dearing
Monday, November 20, 2006
As I was backing the car out of the driveway to run some errands Saturday, I saw this face:
So inspired by it's mopey nature that I stopped the car and pulled out my camera.
And this wasn't the first time that Pouty McPouterson's pernicious pout sent me running for my Nikon. Here's a snapshot from March of this year:
What's remarkable about this shot is that I didn't have my camera with me when she began her stone-faced protest. Nope, I had to go inside the house, root around in my bag and then return ... all the while Ms. Sourpuss sat like she was carved out of stone waiting for me.
My husband asked me why I take the time to snap photos of our little darling in this rather unflattering light. Honestly, I like the idea of having a record of as many aspects of my only daughter as possible. I don't want the same smiling-faced picture over and over again.
I like to capture the variety of her being. She's so dynamic. I'd hate to look back on her childhood as one, big, toothy grin.