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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!
By Richie Ann Ashcraft
Thursday, May 3, 2007
An Ashcraft family conversation in the car.
: It's sort of stinky in here.
: Yeah, it is stinky.
: Blink at each other.
: That's right baby Stinky!!
: Hey what should we name your new brother?
I tell ya...it's the little stuff that makes my heart laugh!
By Richie Ann Ashcraft
Wednesday, May 2, 2007
It's the one year anniversary of the Haute Mamas Blog! This is entry no. 274. We've had 844 comments thus far, more than any other blog on this website. We hate to brag (OK we LOVE to brag) but until recently we held the No. 1 position for most read blog, too. Here's us at a recent photo shoot and what we have to say about becoming veteran mommy bloggers.
Lynn showing off the "eyes" in the back of her head!
One year already? It seems like just yesterday that Lynn, Richie and I
concocted this plan to douse GJSentinel.com with some mommy content.
In this last year, my daughter "graduated
" from kindergarten, started
playing the piano
, learned to ride a two-wheeled bike
, made a quilt
almost completed the first grade.
I have sprouted many more gray hairs, gained a bit more patience and learned
that it's helpful to share my hopes and fears with others.
Taking the good with the bad, I'd have to say that it's been a good year to
be a Haute Mama.
Richie's look of total pregnancy induced confusion. "Wait...what are we doing?"
When they say kids grow fast they sure aren't kidding.
I can't believe how my life has changed this year. I've gone from clueless mommy attached to a breast pump to newly pregnant mommy trying to figure out how to accommodate another one. Again, pretty clueless.
I'm starting to get a really stern mom voice down, learning that mixing applesauce with basically anything gets it to go down, and how to spend a little time on myself.
Blogging has been a great outlet for me. When things aren't going so well, I always think, well, it will make nice fodder for the blog. I've really enjoyed the feedback from our readers with their helpful suggestions and often witty comments.
Blogging is a new venture for GJSentinel.com. I always feel like Lynn, Robin and I are pioneers in a cutting edge industry. We are great examples of the "new mom" who uses technology and resources to our advantage.
Ten years ago I never could have imagined that I'd be juggling career, kids and sharing it all via the Internet, whatever that was. Or that the life of a normal mommy would even be interesting enough to share.
So, thanks for reading and making me feel like blogging is time well spent.
The Haute Mamas...Oh So Hot!
Blogging can be scary - you put your personal stuff out there for all the world to see.
You can only hope that maybe someone is struggling with the same issue and you find out you’re not alone, you’re among many moms trying to raise kids right, whatever that means.
I am always a little fearful that Alex will be embarrassed about what I write, but for the most part he could care less. Mostly because he really does not want to spend any time reading whatever it is his mother has to say! We made it through the first year of high school already, and now we look forward to a summer of driving lessons (!), certain boredom, summer camp somewhere, and trips back East or wherever he grudgingly agrees to go with his “mothuurrr”.
Thanks to Robin and Richie for taking up the slack when I had nothing to blog about, and to Robin for being my instant editor and patiently answering my stupid questions like, “Is driven a word?” And to the rest of my family - yes, I really do get paid to do stuff like this!
Tuesday, May 1, 2007
Grand Valley Lacrosse played a two-day tournament in Durango this past weekend. Geography whiz that I am, I knew Durango was close to Cortez, which is close to Mesa Verde National Park, which I have visited several times, which Alex has never seen.
So now you have the background to the rest of the story.
I had tentatively asked Alex a few weeks ago (tentatively, because that’s how you approach teenagers with something you want them to say yes to) if he might be interested in taking a day off from school and going to visit Mesa Verde before the tournament with his . . . .mothuurrr.
“Yeah, I guess.”
Whoopee! That was unbridled enthusiasm! I was psyched and immediately booked hotels. I walked on egg shells up until we actually got in the car and headed out, feeling almost certain he would change his mind at the last minute.
We had a very pleasant drive to Cortez via Moab and other parts of Utah. We discussed his school art project, why people have different talents, and the fact that throwing a pot on the wheel is way harder than it looks. We probably had about 20 minutes of real conversation before he plugged in his ipod and fell asleep.
We got to Mesa Verde about 8:00 a.m. on a beautiful day. We got tickets to tour Cliff Palace which Alex really seemed to enjoy. At this point, I would insert a picture of him in front of the cliff dwelling. However, something happened to my USB port when I tried to plug in my camera and some little black plastic thing fell out, so no picture. Probably no new computer on the horizon for me either.
At any rate, we toured some of the pit dwellings on top of the mesa and he seemed to like those as well. The highlight for him I would guess is that I let him drive through the park, even though he doesn’t have his permit yet. We were the only ones on a safe, one-way road and what the heck?
By the time we got to the fifth “ruin” he was done.
“They’re all starting to look the same. The Anasazis really didn’t change their architecture much in a thousand years. The ones that Dan and I saw last fall when we went backpacking were way cooler. They still had corn cobs in them.”
The tournament days passed quickly, and it was time to drive home. I had debated driving over Red Mountain, or Puke Pass as I call it. But after talking to one of the moms who had driven over it I decided to get some cajones and go for it. It pretty much sucked as much as I remembered it. Why do they build roads like that? And why, for God’s sake, do they let people ride their bikes on them? Dudes, buy a car.
So we made it. We made it over Red Mountain Pass, we made it through almost four days together without a single fight, screaming match or extended period of grumpiness. I really enjoyed our trip together. Hopefully someday Alex will admit he did too.
By Robin Dearing
Monday, April 30, 2007
Sunday Margaret and I carved a little time from our hectic day (that involved making cakes in Margaret's Easy-Bake Oven for four hours — FOUR HOURS!) to finally finish her little quilt that she began while my mom and I were making our quilt
Mar sewed all the pieces together and then quilted it together.
Here she is using the machine — she's pretty scared of getting her fingers sewn together so she's uber careful using the machine:
When she had it all sewn and quilted, I trimmed out the edge.
Notice the frayed edge? Mar requested that I leave that part showing. She likes fringe, so there it is. Just like she wanted it.
I think it's pretty great.