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By Robin Dearing
Thursday, February 22, 2007
The gym at Dos Rios Elementary was packed at 5:00 Tuesday night, filled with parents and grandparents of 1st graders from around the district. It was the annual Battle of the Books.
The Battle's participants qualified for the competition by reading at least 10 books from an assigned reading list then writing three questions for each book. Each school could have a team of up to three qualified students. The district’s gifted-and-talented teachers organize the event.
Margaret and her classmate/neighbor friend, Cora, both qualified to represent their school. There were 10 other teams three.
Bill and I sat nervously along side Cora's parents and siblings and waited for the battle to begin. We watched the girls fidget and squirm with excitement and nerves.
The rules were announced then each team was asked one question in a practice round. I zoomed in on the girls' faces with the video camera as they tried to answer their practice question. They didn't know it. We all got a little more nervous.
We didn't care about them winning so much as we wanted them to do well enough to be proud of themselves.
The competition began and the teams began answering questions. Then it was the girls' turn. They answered and were correct. We congratulated ourselves and braced ourselves for the next round.
Again and again the girls answered their questions correctly.
As they entered the final round, they were tied with five other schools for first place. They were read their final question and they gave an answer. It was incorrect.
They missed one question and that moved them back to second place.
First place or not, they are both winners in my eyes!
Battle of the Books was a wonderful experience for Margaret and Cora. They were disappointed they didn't win (the winners got pencils, after all!), but they were really proud of themselves and so are we — immensely so.
You can watch the girls answer their questions here
Wednesday, February 21, 2007
It’s 6:30 a.m. and I’m at work. I’m entering one of my slightly manic phases where I wake up before the crack of dawn and can’t go back to sleep. At least the traffic negotiating the 4,875 detours in the three miles between work and the Sentinel is much lighter at that time of day.
Today is Ash Wednesday and the beginning of the Lenten season for Christians. This evening I am faced with two choices. To go to Mass with Alex or to go with him to an equally important event that will be held here in Grand Junction at the same time. The event will be held at Canyon View Vineyard church (736 24 ½ Road) and features a free presentation by Barb and Rick Wise of Wise Choices www.wise-choices.org
from 7:00 - 8:30 p.m. in the middle school youth building.
Theirs is an interesting story and their message is one we don’t hear often. They encourage kids to abstain from sex until marriage. OK, this is not a lecture from the radical Christian right wing conspiracy. It’s just some encouragement to keep this issue on the front burner and to talk to your kids about it. It’s a tough message to sell and parents can feel like they are swimming upstream and against the tide. I am grateful for any help I can get from outsiders on the topic and want to pass that along to other parents as well.
Back to Barb and Rick Wise. When they started dating, they agreed to be tested for the HIV virus. Her test came back positive even though she had no current or prior symptoms of the virus. Long story short, they ended up getting married and now share their life and love story with teens across the country. If you can, be brave and go with your kid. They deserve to hear it and you deserve to treat yourself to resources like this.
Yes, they talk about sex and its’ place in the adult world. And yes they tell your kids its best to save it until they’re married. And yes they talk about the negative consequences of having sex while you’re too young and with too many people.
Obviously, you can deal with the whole subject however you want to with your own kids. Personally, I put it on the same plane as drugs and alcohol. I really don’t want to tell my kid that he probably won’t be able to resist having sex so here’s a condom. Just like I wouldn’t want to tell him he won’t be able to resist doing meth so here’s a clean needle. Or he won’t be able to resist getting drunk so here’s your own bottle opener. We tell our kids all the time not to do drugs or drink alcohol or smoke cigarettes. Why do we get all skitchy when we want to tell them not to have sex? Or at least wait until they’re adults to engage in adult behaviors?
Our teenagers have a lot more to negotiate these days than I do on my drive to work. Hopefully we’ll help them take detours that keep them safe physically, emotionally and spiritually.
By Richie Ann Ashcraft
Tuesday, February 20, 2007
Finally the sun is shining in the Grand Valley. The sort-of-warm 50 degrees feels pretty good after a dang cold winter.
This weekend we ventured out into the sun, took in a partial Mesa State baseball game, then stopped at the park.
Soren was happy the cold had finally lifted too. He immediately toddled his way toward the playground. He followed a few older kids to see what they were doing. But, if they paid any attention to him, he smiled shyly and ran back to orbit dad.
We sat under a tree and watched him dig. He loves dirt. I smiled as a big handful connected with his tongue. He spit and sputtered then looked up at me with a mud mustache. I just had to laugh.
It doesn't really bother me when a stick or a handful of dirt finds it's way into his mouth. I guess I'm pretty laid back about such things and I figure there's not a whole lot you can do about it.
Afterall, he is a boy. It won't be long before he's daring some kid to eat worms and lighting his own farts on fire.
I was happy to see him get down and dirty in the park as little kids should.
By Robin Dearing
Monday, February 19, 2007
That was the sound I heard over and over again all weekend long — thwack, thwack, thwack — the rhythmic sound of Margaret's jump rope hitting the ground.
Margaret and her neighbor friend played outside all day Saturday. They jumped rope and hula hooped.
Kate is a decidedly better hula hooper and Margaret jumps rope like a champ.
It was charming to see the girls play outside with simple toys without a care in the world. They invented games and ran around and screamed.
I, on the other hand, stomped around the house full of frustration. I was so filled up with energy-eating emotions that I could barely enjoy the first truly glorious day of the year.
I could feel those awful emotions bouncing off the inside of my skull — thwack, thwack, thwack — the familiar dull-pain of a migraine building. I struggled to enjoy the day, enjoy time with my family.
It was a losing battle from the beginning. I got as much work done as I could then I slumped on the couch with a dose of migraine medicine, a tall glass of water and the TV remote.
Thwack, thwack, thwack — it eventually began to subside as the medicine took effect.
Margaret eventually came inside for the evening smelling like dried grass. She was exhilarated and exhausted from her day of sun and fresh air.
She was happy to snuggle with me on the sofa as we watched a movie. I was happy to bask in her healthy glow of childhood — a cure for all my ills.
By Richie Ann Ashcraft
Friday, February 16, 2007
The first step is admitting you have a problem...or so I've been told.
My problem is I'm an information junkie. If I would have had kids ten years ago I would have been completely lost. How would I ever of had enough information to be a good parent?
Anytime I have a question or concern, I pop it into a search engine to get my answer.
Strange rash? I ask Doctor Google...which by the way I seriously do not reccommend. If you Google a word like hangnail it will tell you that you are seriously
ill and must seek medical attention immediately as you have some strange South African bacterial infection which will result in certain painful death. Then you'll walk around all day with your eye twitching because you just know this hangnail is going to kill you.
When I'm not popping random words into the Web I'm reading books like "What to Expect When Your are Expecting"
or "Your Pregnancy...Your Child."
Now, I've found a way to peruse the Internet and get FREE
reading material for my offline time. How cool is that?
I got every magazine for free...except the Parenting one which I had to subscribe to because my cousin solicited me to support the Girl Scouts. (Speaking of which, where are my cookies?)
It appears there is no catch to my online subscriptions. I just signed up and every few days a new glossy mag appears on my kitchen table.
On top of having my every question answered without having to admit I had such a stupid question to ask, I've found coupons for baby food, free baby lotion samples, and free baby cereal. If you formula feed there is no reason to ever pay full price for a can. Those companies are literally giving it away on the Web.
Here are links to free magazines:
I love this website! It compares your tiny fetus to fruit which I always have found strange but it is definately one of the best sites on the Web.
Pregnancy and Newborn
What's your favorite parenting website?
Thursday, February 15, 2007
With the exception of my mom having a strange and mysterious illness, it’s been a mostly uneventful week in the Lickers household. This is a good thing. My mom being sick is not such a good thing. We’ve made three trips to the ER in the past week and each time left with no more answers or a definitive diagnosis than the time before. The good news is that the gajillion tests they ran all came back normal. The bad news is because they all came back normal nobody has a clue what’s causing her distress. My mom is going crazy because she is not the type of person who likes to sit around on the couch because she has no energy to do anything more strenuous than that. They’ve ruled out stroke, hepatitis, heart problems, kidney failure, West Nile virus, brain tumors, and a host of other things. Now we’re down to testing for carbon monoxide poisoning, voodoo curses, and the mal occhio
At any rate, I hope they find out soon what it is and give her some magic cure. The fortunate thing is that she has three daughters in town along with her husband to fret over her, make jokes that most families would think insensitive, bring dinner and grandkids to cheer her up. And we know that we are blessed with good health in general and are mindful of those not so blessed.
All this makes me understand some culture’s custom of bringing as many children as possible into the world so they have a gaggle of people to look after them in their later years. It makes sense from that perspective. And it makes me ponder my own “elderly” years, several decades from now, when I might be in the same boat. Thinking of Alex’s current aversion to compassionate care, I’m starting to think the celebrity craze of adoption make sense. Maybe I ought to start thinking of that as a way to make sure I have more than one prospect for a ride to the hospital.
All kidding aside, I hope my mom gets well soon. She has a lot of stuff to do - cookies to make, quilts to finish, curtains to sew, worlds to save. In the meantime, she at least has her whacked out grandchildren around to make her laugh and her daughters who keep telling her a pedicure and a bottle of good red wine can work wonders.
By Robin Dearing
Wednesday, February 14, 2007
Yes, it may be one of those made-up holidays invented by greeting card companies, but that doesn't mean that you can't take the opportunity to remind those that matter in your life that you love them.
Valentine's Day at The Daily Sentinel office is marked by a steady stream of floral deliveries. We wander around the office enjoying the bouquets and oh-ing and ah-ing. It's a nice day.
Bill always gets me something lovely. This year was no exception:
Tulips. Oh how I love them. They're so elegant without being pretentious.
All of us here in the office got an early Valentine's treat yesterday in the form of a just-turned-one-year-old little boy who stomped around and delighted us all:
Soren is such a sweet little boy. His sunny face lit up with every new toy he discovered as he made friends across the office.
I even took a little video of him.
Sweeter than chocolate, that one is.
By Robin Dearing
Tuesday, February 13, 2007
Considering how sick Margaret was last week, the fact that she has just a random cough and a bit of a runny nose today is amazing, but so goes the immune system of a healthy child.
Margaret attests her rapid recovery to the vast amounts of Sierra Mist Free
that she drank over the past week.
Normally soda of any sort is a special treat beverage, but she suffered six days of fever and claimed that the soda had some sort of healing power. So we let her drink it. It has no caffeine or sugar and it made an otherwise miserable child happy.
After drinking a can of the diet "pop" (as some like to call it) myself, I was lead to ask the can of Sierra Mist Free, "What is the point of you? You have nothing of value. Bubbles are nice, but what do they add to the world, really? Gah!" It responded with a gentle fizz and said nothing else.
I think I was a little delusional at the point as we'd spent the last week up many nights with a coughing child. And instead of resting on the weekends, we ensconced ourselves in the world of home improvement.
It seemed that everything that we attempted to do was thwarted by either my own stupidity (enhanced by the Dearing gene that suggests one should never read the instructions on anything until after it's broken) and bad luck. But we are pretty much done with the kids' room shuffle and the transformation of Mar's old room into a little office/TV room for Bill and me.
Here are couple quick (and blurry, for some reason ... I'm gonna say that it's to add an artistic flare) pictures I snapped this morning of Mar's new room and our "office":
When Margaret was just a few months old, my parents came for a visit. At the time we only had a crib and a changing table in her room. My mom asked me one day, "Can we buy Margaret a dresser?"
Never being one to look a gift horse in the mouth, I quickly agreed. We ended up buying an unfinished chest of drawers and then my mom and I painted it ourselves. I will always love that dresser.
This room isn't a really a "room" at all, but a converted service porch. It's attached to our bedroom and worked wonderfully as a nursery and then as a tiny bedroom for Margaret. Bill commented last night how strange it is to not have our little girl right next to us.
We agree that it's best for everyone, but we always loved having her so close. And once again I'm having trouble remembering just why it is that kids need to grow up anyway.
By Richie Ann Ashcraft
Monday, February 12, 2007
The second and third weeks of Febraury are really busy ones. There is birthday after birthday and then of course Valentine's Day.
When Soren was due last year I kept telling everyone that I hoped he'd get his own birthday and not have to share with his uncles, grandma or even his dad. Somehow he picked the one day in February not already being used by someone else.
His birthday was a huge success. The people here at Birthdays Without Pressure
would have been proud of me. I made chocolate and strawberry cupcakes out of a box with homemade cream cheese frosting. We had some pizza, a salad that I bought from the store, a few decorations and that was it. Even with the day off I was still busy running errands from store to store to pick it all up.
A huge lesson learned was that cupcakes
are HARD work. It is so much easier to make a cake and put frosting on it. I can kiss my cupcake business dream goodbye because after the first dozen I was pooped. And to think I thought I could make a career of that...whatever.
All said and thank goodness done I'd say it was a succussful run of February birthdays. I got the cards out mostly on time, a nice dinner on the table for loverhubby's B-day and even an extra special surprise in Saturday's paper for my two main men.
You can sign the guestbook here
I'm glad February's a short month. And...Happy Birthday Mom!
By Robin Dearing
Friday, February 9, 2007
That was Margaret’s temperature this morning and I had to take it with her mouth open since it’s been six days since she’s been able to breath out of nose. And six days since she’s been fever free. And six days since she’s done more than lie on the sofa and cough.
The doctor said it is a bad cold. We’ve heard this particular cold called the respiratory flu. And that’s pretty appropriate. It’s got a hold of my little girl and it’s not letting go.
Margaret perked up last night to the point of being almost annoying while my dear Tracee and I tried to watch the season premier of Survivor (it’s embarrassing how much we love that show — I won’t mention that we play a game every week that involves ballots and accumulating points, because some might find that sad. We’re not sad, we’re enthusiastic!).
We had even thought that she might be able to go back to school today. But that fever this morning meant that it was not to be. She’s missed an entire week of school.
Believe me, you do not want to get this cold. Just to be on the safe side, I keep Richie at arm’s length so she doesn’t breathe up one of these uber-germs and get herself sick while she’s all busy growing another person and all.
Neither Bill nor I are particularly interested in getting this cold either so we’re trying to eat well, drink lots of fluids and get enough sleep (which are all difficult to do with our hectic schedules, but we’re making the effort).
I started feeling poorly yesterday so I started using Zicam to help fend off this scary monster virus. I hope it works. If it doesn’t you’ll be reading a lot more complaining about this illness next week.
Here’s to a happy — and healthy — Friday!