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Wednesday, May 16, 2007
My brother has a dog named Cheena. Cheena is named after a river in Alaska, where she was born. She’s the result of a night of passion between her mother, an Alaskan husky, and her father, a golden retriever. Examples of family values her parents are not. Her mother systematically dropped every little pup on my brother’s door step and was never seen again.
Cut to the present - my brother needed someone to watch Cheena while he was gone for the weekend and my parents volunteered to dog-sit. That was two months ago. Lest you think my brother takes after Cheena’s mother, he actually returned. But mom and dad still, by their own choice, have Cheena.
Cheena, after an encounter with an Alaskan porcupine
Cheena thinks she is now living in Buckingham Palace. And why wouldn’t she? That’s how my parents treat her. My mother calls daily to give Cheena reports. What she ate (never just plain dog food, but mixed with hamburger, or chicken or sausage) and how she spent more on Cheena at the Canine Beauty parlor than she does on her self. My dad gripes about the dog, while rubbing her belly and sneaking her bread dipped in homemade stew.
Really, my siblings and I are puzzled, yet pleased, by this behavior. They don’t even let most of the grand kids in the house, but Cheena has carte blanche to plop anywhere she likes, shedding dog hair and all. One of my sisters, the baby of the family, is experiencing some sibling rivalry over this. She called a few days ago and said somewhat peevishly, “Yeah, mom made Cheena eggs benedict for breakfast.”
I will say that Cheena is a very sweet, well-behaved, friendly dog. She is happy to see just about anyone, especially if you have food anywhere about your person, or you just pet her, rub her ears or scratch her belly. She’s very patient and lets the little kids do just about whatever they want. But don’t go near her food. She gets really cranky then.
Being part sled-dog, she is strong and likes to pull on her leash. Her twice, and sometimes thrice, daily walks have resulted in my mom losing about five pounds. It also resulted in a dislocated ring-finger on my sister which resulted in a trip to the ER to have her ring cut off. But that’s another story in itself.
How long this love affair with the new great-grandoggie will last is unclear. Right now, it seems everybody is happy with the arrangements, especially Cheena.
Oh. Did I mention the pink bows they put over her ears?
By Robin Dearing
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
We spent the Mother's Day weekend with my brother's family in Glenwood Springs. Instead of a long, dry explanation of what did and saw, I'm going to grade the major elements of our trip in honor of the end of the school year.
The town of Glenwood Springs:
The area in and around Glenwood Springs is beautiful. Their downtown is nice (made even nicer by the obliteration of the reverse-angle parking — Hello Grand Junction City Council! Many people have a hard time backing into a wide-open street, why make it harder?). The drive is short enough, but I would have awarded the town of Glenwood Springs an "A" if it was even closer to Grand Junction and connected by bike path as to avoid expending umpteen millions of dollars on gas.
Glenwood Canyon Resort:
B+ given with the squinty eyes of skepticism
Apparently the newish Glenwood Canyons Resort used to be a trailerpark, but now is a nice RV campground which includes camper cabins and "resort" cabins.
My brother reserved a "resort" cabin which their Web site said would sleep six comfortably. We had seven, but the three little kids slept up in the "loft." By loft, they meant an area that Margaret and Colby could stand up but the rest of us feeling a little claustrophobic. The cabins are newish and the kitchens have nice appliances and are stocked with cookware and dinnerware. The pull-out sofa upon which Bill and I slept wasn't horribly uncomfortable, so we slept well enough.
The downside was we didn't have a place to have a fire, so we cooked marshmallows on the gas grill provided on the attached deck.
Because they are still in the process of finishing the "resort," there was no playground or other things to keep kids occupied, but we took advantage of its closeness to the riverfront trail and walked along there in the evening.
Overall, we enjoyed our time at the "resort," but I found that even with the Mother's Day discount, the cabins were more than a little expensive. If my brother hadn't been paying, I doubt we've stayed there. And they seemed a little stingy on some things like towels and charged $15 a day for maid service.
Cave are cool — literally. Glenwood Caverns are a really nice set of caves. If you like that kind of thing at all go see these. The tour is about an hour and requires some stair climbing but I think it's worth it.
Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park
The caves are part of the "adventure park" but I separated them out, because the caves are cool. The rest was a disappointment.
First, it was expensive and you can't bring your own food into the park. Also you have to take the tram up to the park and caves which is cool, unless the weather is bad.
And guess what? The weather turned bad while we were there. They closed down the few rides they had open and the tram to get down. A couple of things advertised on their Web site that would've been a lot of fun for the kids were not going to be open until later in the season.
Because of the weather we had to wait for a van to get off the mountain, which is not fault of the owners and operators of the park, but it was annoying since we'd forked out a large chunk of change to basically get a tram ride up the mountain and the cave tour.
Luckily, Bill heard someone else ask for a refund on the ride tickets that we purchased at $2.50 a pop, so we got some of our money back which made us feel better.
Eventually I think this will be a fun place to take the kids, but they've got a long way to go. Oh, I should mention that the one ride we did get to go on, the Alpine Coaster, was really fun.
I took this picture by putting the camera behind my head on the way back up the hill.
Hike to Hanging Lake
My favorite part of the trip was the hike up to Hanging Lake. It was great in so many ways. I wrote about it over here
if you're interested.
I would highly recommend this hike despite the warnings and all. It's only a mile and it's shady. You won't regret it.
By Richie Ann Ashcraft
Monday, May 14, 2007
gave me a virtual make-over today!!! I have long red hair and I love it! I was hoping to be a beautiful blonde like this one
but oh well....
Contestants have to guess three bloggers and the winners will have their blog featured on Mama Drama
. Trust me, you want this because they have tons of viewers and commenters daily.
These ladies are often raw, edgy and always funny. Once they posted a pic of testicles hanging from the ceiling! The Houston Chronicle
must be very very relaxed although they do refer to their boss as Dwight from The Office
I don't think that my boss
would truly appreciate a good testicle picture. It makes me uncomfortable just to use those two words in the same sentence! Eeek-Hi Denny!
Go ahead and drop by...you can reveal my secret identity here
By Richie Ann Ashcraft
Friday, May 11, 2007
Several times over the last month or so strangers have referred to my son as "she." He by no means looks like a she nor does he dress like one but regardless it occurred more than once.
It was the hair.
I just couldn't bring myself to cut one single precious hair on his head. He has hit so many milestones this year, few of which I actually had control over, except this one. So I postponed it wanting to keep him in this pristine baby state just a little longer.
I loved to bury my nose in his fine blond hair and smell the top of his head. I loved to stroke it and tuck it behind his ear before he went to bed. I loved to wet it down and comb it into the perfect Donald Trump 'do complete with a side part. And it always made me laugh when the hair at his crown stuck up in a classic Dennis the Menace rebellion a few minutes later.
But I had to suck it up and let it go.
At first he didn't seem to mind.
And then he did. Oh My God...he so did!!!
But what can you do? Stop? So, his torture had to continue and so did mine as lock after lock of his beautiful baby hair fell. I collected them all into a little white box of sentimentality.
And sure enough...that sealed it...he's not a baby....he's a little boy. And nobody calls him "she" anymore. They say "Oh, what a beautiful boy you have." Of course, I couldn't agree more but I think I'm always going to miss my baby.
I recieved this piece of anonymous mail yesterday. It was addressed to the Daily Sentinel from a Mom in Grand Junction. We don't publish unsolicited anonymous poems in our print product...but I post it here in honor of Mother's Day. I think the anonymous Mom would love to share it with all of you. Have a Great Weekend!
By Robin Dearing
Thursday, May 10, 2007
Today marked the beginning of the end. The beginning of the end of Margaret's first-grade year of school and with that comes the parent-teacher conference.
It was a year of ups and downs for our family, but it was a year of profound academic success for Margaret.
Despite the concerns we have about Margaret's school (which I wrote about in this column
this has been a good year for her.
She is achieving at a high level. She's a great reader, as witness by her and her partner, Cora's, success at the Battle of the Books
. She doing well in math and all other subjects in school.
Her teacher assures us that Margaret is ready to move on to the second grade.
This is, of course, a great relief to her father and I. But we still have so many questions — like are we doing enough? Are we involved enough? Should we be working with her at home more? Is she being sufficiently challenged?
We can't even decide if we should let her walk to school by herself yet (we live, literally, around the corner from the school). When is a kid old enough to cross the street by herself anyway?
As Margaret grows up, I feel simultaneously pulled by feelings that I'm finally getting the hang of this whole parenting thing and feelings that I'm not doing enough to help her achieve and be a happy, successful person.
I wish there was a parent-teacher conference for my performance as a mom.
Wednesday, May 9, 2007
So I get a letter in the mail last week telling me that my son will be receiving an academic recognition award. Wow, pretty cool. I ask Alex about it and he has no idea what it’s for. I call the office and they tell me it’s because he has earned a 3.5 or better GPA and he’ll be getting an academic letter. A great big fuzzy “P” I tell him.
So I ask, “Do you want to go the awards ceremony or lacrosse practice?” He decides lacrosse practice. Then yesterday afternoon he tells me. “Mom, I’m getting an academic letter.” Uh, yeah. “Maybe I should go to the ceremony. I can go to lacrosse for the first part and leave early. But I’ll be sweaty.”
“So will I, since I’m getting in a bike ride first too.” I pick him up and he strips off his practice jersey, does a quick parking lot shower with his water bottle, puts on a clean shirt and asks, “Do I smell?” Like I’m gonna sniff him!
We get to the school parking lot and I tell him, “OK, my turn to change my shirt.”
“What? Here? With me in the car?” He’s panicked.
“Just don’t look. I’ll be quick.” I park way in the back of the lot where nobody else is around, and proceed to change out of my sports bra and damp t-shirt into dry clothes. Now, girls can do this without exposing any body parts other than an elbow. Alex doesn’t realize this and is freaking out.
“Ohmigod. This is so wrong. On so many levels. Ohmigod. If you were Jessica Alba, this would be really cool. But you’re not.”
See, the kid deserves an academic brilliance award!
At any rate, he recovers from the trauma and we proceed to the auditorium. He found some of his buddies to sit with and the ceremony begins.
He begrudgingly allowed me to take a few pictures of him, only after I told him they were for his Mema, who is paying him for A’s and B’s. Yes, Mema, we’re on to you, but it’s totally cool!
Alex on stage getting his letter
Alex’s dad and I are both quite proud of him. I also told Alex I look forward to the day three years from now when his name is listed as the recipient of every scholarship they doled out last night!
Alex (with lacrosse-helmet hair) and his friend John
Congratulations to my kid and all the kids graduating this upcoming week!
By Richie Ann Ashcraft
Tuesday, May 8, 2007
When it comes to art my mom kept all the talent to herself. Click her page
to see what I'm talking about.
The thing is I really can't draw, haven't ever had the interest in learning, nor the patience for something that might take days or months or even years to complete. I like things to be done already so I can just hang it on the wall and feel satisfied.
But every once in awhile the need to express myself arises. Maybe my kids will be lucky enough to take after their grandma and their dad when it comes to art.
I dug out the watercolors and introduced Soren to Art 101. He had a great time but couldn't figure out how to actually apply paint with an oversized brush. He opted for the finger painting method which worked out really well for us. He licked his fingers while I opted to sip iced tea. Together we created this masterpiece:
This is the coolest painting I've ever done and I have to give Soren most the credit for his avante garde style. Seriously, I'm totally in love with it and plan on framing it soon. In the meantime, it is hanging in our bathroom. Soren just didn't get that the fridge was the place for good art and it had to be moved before it was destroyed.
I was so inspired that a few days later I dug out the watercolors again and made this growth chart:
Turns out my rudimentary skills are great for decorating my kid's room. Who would've known?
By Robin Dearing
Monday, May 7, 2007
There are so many things I love about having house guests. One of the great things is getting to show off the beauty that is the Grand Valley.
Saturday afternoon, my brother, Roger, his wife, Lisa and their two kids, Mackenzie and Colby came for a visit.
Sunday we decided to take a drive over the Colorado National Monument.
It's amazing how infrequently we go visit the Monument and how truly beautiful it is.
We had a great time scrambling around the rocks:
Do you see Bill, Colby and Margaret in that picture? Bill looks like a tiny x-marks-the-spot guy.
Margaret loves her cousins and the three of them are thick as thieves:
Rog and family are looking to move out of hustle and bustle of the Sacramento Valley and we're hoping that they'll like it enough to move here. So if you see these people roaming around town:
Make sure you're really nice and offer them jobs and money and houses.
Friday, May 4, 2007
I ran across this article today on MSN.com. With Mother's Day right around the corner, you can forget breakfast in bed, foot lotion and a Hallmark card. Show me the money!
The price of a mom: $138,095
A new report assigns a salary to a stay-at-home mother, based on the jobs she does in a normal week.
By MSN Money staff
What's a mom worth?
According to one new report, $138,095 a year.
That's the figure in a report by Salary.com, which calculates the wages that would have been paid a stay-at-home mom in 2007 if she were compensated for all the elements of her "job." That total is up 3% from 2006's salary of $134,121. Moms who have jobs outside the house would earn another $85,939 for their mothering work, beyond what they bring home in existing salary.
The job descriptions that Salary.com used to determine a mom's salary includes 10 jobs that moms do on an average day: housekeeper, day care center teacher, cook, computer operator, laundry machine operator, janitor, facilities manager, van driver, CEO and psychologist.
In calculating a mom's wages, Salary.com looked at the "overtime" that both working and stay-at-home moms put in each week.
"Mom works multiple jobs and rarely gets a break from the action, working an average of 52 hours of overtime," said Bill Coleman, senior vice president at Salary.com, in a statement.
According to the Salary.com survey, stay-at-home moms work a 92-hour week, with more than half the workweek spent in overtime. Working moms, meanwhile, logged more than nine hours of "overtime," with an average 49-hour "mom" work week -- on top of their full-time paying jobs.
For the Salary.com survey, more than 40,000 moms quantified their hours per job description; Salary.com benchmarked the median salaries for each job to the national median salary for each position as reported by employers.
The final salary was calculated by weighting the salaries and hours worked in each role.
By Richie Ann Ashcraft
Thursday, May 3, 2007
Grand Junction has a public works program called Spring Clean-Up. Every year residents are invited to throw their junk in the curb and a payloader will come pick it up for free.
Grand Junctionites love it for a number of reasons. First, if you have junk like old carpet or tree limbs it will save a trip to the dump. Secondly, it's like a giant free yard sale the whole town participates in. Throw out anything...I'm serious...anything...and in a few hours a truck loaded down with old windows and broken dishwashers will come around and pick it up.
I wonder how much of it really gets to the dump and how much is just moved from garage to garage year after year. This year we threw out a perfectly good rocking chair that needed a cushion. Gone. Last year I threw out an old bike without handle bars...Gone. Once the Sentinel ran an article in which they decorated a whole room in Shabby Chic style just with junk they found on the curb. I swear it's true!
As you drive through the streets you just can't help yourself and you have to look. Looking at other people's junk is fun. We sort of have this rule that if you dig something up it better be good and practical and work.
This year I dug a little kid plastic wheelbarrow that was totally new complete with sand shovels and a plastic snake out of my neighbor's trash. The neighbor informed me that his exgirlfriend left that for him in the break-up. Guess he's moving on. Good for my sandbox.
Yesterday I found this picture on the Internet:
This is a picture of Robin's junk pile that she posted on her other blog
. Seems her hubby and her each pick a piece of discarded refuse, add it to the top of the pile, then compete to see who's junk will get snatched first.
You see that booster seat? I IM Robin and say "Dude...what are you doing throwing out that booster seat when you know that I need toddler stuff?" (See this baby in me is the fifth baby born to the Ashcraft family in a little over two years. Five toddlers...who all need stuff! Geez what is she thinkin?)
"Oh, I'll dig it out for you tonight if it's still there," she said.
And it was. How cool is dumpster diving your friend's trash pile from the comfort of your work computer? The Internet is useful in so so many ways.
Check out Robin's other website
...you never know what you might find!