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We Made It!

By {screen_name}
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. 3 comments

Margaret’s quilt

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 last month. 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: Mar%20quilting.jpg When she had it all sewn and quilted, I trimmed out the edge. quilt.jpg 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. 7 comments

Good intentions on fun Monday

By Robin Dearing
Monday, April 30, 2007

We Haute Mamas had the good intentions to play along with the Mama Drama gals to participate in Fun Monday with all the other Fun Monday players. We failed. So instead, I'm making my own Fun Monday. I read about this meme on this nice gal's blog (how do I know she's nice? I operate on the fact that all the people I steal things from are nice, it buffers the guilt). This meme goes like this: You google the following phrase with your name filled into the blank: "Last I heard __________ was" and then you see what gossipy things are out there on the Internets about you. Here's what I found: 1. Last I heard Robin was being kept in protective custody by the FBI for safety reasons. Oh, FBI protective custody. I wonder if they are trying to protect me from eating all those donut holes. 2. Last I heard Robin was working in the Twin Cities ... Yeah, that's not gonna happen. That's a little too cold for this cold-blooded girl. 3. Last I heard she was in Portland, Oregon and still in the game. Good news, I'm still in the game. I wonder what game it is? 4. Last month I heard Robin on Public radio introducing her new CD. How I wish this were true. But alas, my band is not quite done with our new CD. Maybe it's a harbinger of things to come. 5. Last I heard, her brother still worked there. And you know what? He still does work there. Although, we're currently try to convince him to not work there anymore and move here instead. Ha! That's fun. Try it with your name and lemme know what funny things you find. Happy Fun Monday! 4 comments

Bookworms Unite!

By Richie Ann Ashcraft
Friday, April 27, 2007

I had a different post in mind but this article that appeared on yesterday's editorial page by Kathleen Parker inspired me to take this post in a different direction. Parker says that bookworms are a dying breed as are newspaper readers. The Atlanta Journal Constitution recently eliminated their book editor position from the newsroom. Parker says eliminating such jobs contributes to the dumbing down of American society. She notes that "fewer than half of Americans read literature" although more and more books are being published each year. The whole article is just sad. I've loved books ever since my grandpa and I dug out an old Dick and Jane book that belong to one of my uncles. My grandparents came to the United States in the 50s as Ukrainian refugees of WWII. They took a English as a Second Language class and learned to read at the same time I was learning to read in first grade. So we sat after school and picked out the words of simple books together. Most times my grandpa would cheat and ask me to read to him. I'd look over and see him dozing in his easy chair, a habit that remained throughout his life. I love to meet people who read. Often times when I'm at a loss for my next book I just ask around to see what others are burying their noses in. We had a book club for awhile here at the Sentinel but ultimately it failed because the groups interests were too diverse. "Blindness" by Jose Saramago was the best book the group ever read. A close second was a comparison we did between "Catcher in the Rye" by J.D. Salinger and "The Bell Jar" by Sylvia Plath. It sparked a great conversation about teenage angst and depression. I'd love to hear what others are reading. Recently Robin and I finished "The Kitchen God's Wife," by Amy Tan. I'd never read anything by Tan until Robin loaned it to me and I'm so glad she did. Tan has a great voice and is an excellent storyteller. The plot tells the story of a WWII refugee telling her daughter about her life during the war, something I can relate to based on my family's history. I'm currently reading "Exile and the Kingdom" by Albert Camus with my friend Velvet. It's great to have a friend that likes to eat lunch and discuss philosophy. Previously we read "My Sister's Keeper" by Jodi Picoult. You can read my review here. I'm always in the mood for new books and I couldn't agree more with Kathleen Parker that not having book reviews in the paper is a great loss to our culture. Let me know what you've read by leaving a comment or feel free to email me anytime with suggestions. 12 comments


By Robin Dearing
Thursday, April 26, 2007

Just before Margaret's first birthday, she got a box from her Pappy and Gramma Fran filled with presents. One of the presents was a Beanie Buddy birthday bear. It was soft and cute and little Mar Mar (as we used to call her) loved it. She carried it around by the ear and hugged it to her neck. I, too, loved the bear — but in a different way. I loved that it commemorated her first birthday. I wanted to keep it forever as a reminder of her first year of life. So I did what any more-than-slightly neurotic and probably OCD mother would do, I took it away from her. But first, I took her to the store and let her pick out another Beanie Buddy. Her little 1-year-old self, chose this one: Ears.jpg I put the birthday bear on a shelf and she permanently attached herself to this brown rabbit. Margaret would nap with the rabbit and take him to daycare. It quickly became the toy of choice. She would go to sleep at night rubbing his ears. Originally, we called the rabbit "Ears" as that was the name that the manufacturer called it. But then she started calling it "Bunny Rabbit" as that was what her lovely daycare gramma called it. Eventually, it was shortening to just "Bunny" — "Brown Bunny" if there was a need to distinguish it from any of the many other rabbits in her arsenal of stuffed animals. Bunny has had a permanent place in Margaret's life since that first birthday almost six years ago. And he's been through a lot, including several trips to the washing machine. Perhaps his most tragic experience was early on when Mar was about 2, she carelessly flung him on to the stove top and his face was burned on the electric burner. She would touch the burned rings on his face and say, "Owie!" I remember one evening getting a frantic call from the babysitter. The first words out of her mouth were, "I can't find Bunny." Back then, those were words that could ruin an evening out in that there was no way she would be able to go to sleep without those ears between her fingers. Now, she doesn't have to have Bunny firmly tucked under her arm to go to sleep, but more often than not, he is the one that gets dragged along with her when a nightmare or a bump in the night causes her to climb into our bed. If I had a penny for every time I woke up to see this face staring at me ... Bunny.jpg 4 comments

Most Improved?

By Richie Ann Ashcraft
Wednesday, April 25, 2007

This morning my toddler was being a little cuddle bug. It's a rare minute when he'll sit on my lap holding a toy car snuggling his head under my chin while I gently rocked my knee. Needless to say I love it! We were enjoying the moment so much I postponed the drive to work for ten more minutes. While we sat I watched the TODAY show. They had a segment titled Best Improvements for Moms in the past 20 years or something like that. I'm not finding it offhand on their website but feel free to take a look around. Basically their list included working from home and redefining the workplace to be family friendly. And of course the gadgets. The one I agreed with most was the fact that men are so much more involved in their families than they used to be. It think this has to be one of the best things that has ever happened for women these days. Long gone are the days when men showed up at the hospital, looked at their kid in the nursery, then went to the local pub to hand out cigars. I think it's awesome that most men want to be a part of their child's birth, helping the mom through labor and helping get breastfeeding started. I can't imagine not letting my husband experience the birth of his children. I'd feel like he missed one of the most incredible experiences he could ever have. It is definately something to bring a couple together. On top of that he plays a crucial role in keeping our household functioning. He is just as likely to lay dinner on the table, change a poopy diaper, or kiss a baby boo-boo. It's what is expected of men these days and families are so much stronger for it. His friends don't think twice about his role as father. Some have opted to let the woman work while the man stays home with the kids. Nobody is looking down on stay-at-home dads anymore. I'm voting involved dads as the biggest improvement in a mom's life in the past 20 years. What do you think has improved? 3 comments

Monthly Budget

By {screen_name}
Tuesday, April 24, 2007

I was in the grocery store at 6:42 a.m. today. We’ve been out of milk for days and that was the only time I could schedule grocery shopping. I turned down the aisle marked “feminine hygiene products” and wondered, not for the first time, why they called it that. The “feminine” part I get. I’m good with “products” too. But why “hygiene”? It indicates that the whole monthly process is somehow dirty and needs to be cleaned up. The term itself just seems like a hangover from the late 60’s when it was OK to start talking in public about things like your “monthly visitor” or your “friend.” I think that’s when discreet, very discreet, TV ads started to appear for feminine hygiene products. I remember girls in floaty dresses skipping through a meadow of flowers and we were supposed to make the connection to tampons. I could use a little of that discretion today. Now we’re bombarded with images of blue liquid poured into little pads with wings! Girls in class passing feminine hygiene products to each other like we used to pass notes. And what’s with the comparison to absorption and women twirling around in skirts? As I pondered my choices this morning, it occurred to me that just because I’m a woman, I’ve spent a small fortune hosting my friend every month for over 35 years. At close to ten bucks a box for tampons, plus Midol, chocolate, wine, potato chips and Tylenol, the tab has got to be close to ten grand! I’m aware that the end of this particular friendship is close at hand. Part of me is soooo ready to say goodbye. And part of me is really dreading our last get-together. I feel like I’m trading one necessary evil for another. But hey, there's a silver lining. With the money I’ll save on tampons, I can buy better wine! 5 comments


By Robin Dearing
Monday, April 23, 2007

After picking up breakfast at the bagel shop downtown Saturday morning, Margaret and I walked down to the toy store. Mar had some allowance saved up supplemented by Tooth Fairy donations and she was itching to spend it. Mike, the owner of Toys for the Fun of It, greeted us as we entered and immediately asked me where Bill was. I explained that he was on his way home from taking a group of students to the state SkillsUSA competition in Colorado Springs (Bill teaches machining and math at WCCC at the college level). Mike wanted to tell Bill that he had the opportunity to see some of the work coming out of WCCC's machine shop and was impressed by it. I knew what he meant. I am amazed over and over again by what a good machinist can do. A couple months after we bought our house seven years ago, the plastic knob on our washing machine broke off. I brought the broken parts to Bill and said, "We need to buy a new washer." He laughed and took the broken pieces to work with him the next day. That night he brought home a new knob machined out of aluminum. He made a new knob. Then a couple years later, the drummer in my band stripped an important screw out of her drum kit. Bill brought the kit to his shop. He made her a new screw. He. Made. A. Screw. You don't make screws. Screws are bought from screw farms where they grow lovingly cared for by screw farmers. Right? Needless to say, I'm mystified by what my husband does for a living and even more amazed that he can teach others to do it, too. And he does one heck of a job. This year at the SkillsUSA state competition, one of his WCCC students won first place in precision machining technology. This student will now go on to the national competition. The winner of that will move on to the international competition — last year's international competition was held in Helsinki, Finland. It's a big deal for Bill, his student and WCCC. It's so nice when hard work pays off. Congratulations to all the WCCC students who participated and did their best in SkillsUSA state competition. 1 comments

We try to eat healthy but….

By Richie Ann Ashcraft
Thursday, April 19, 2007

All kinds of statistics about what we should or shouldn't be eating are available on any slow news day. The information is impossible to keep up with. One day we should be eating lots of fish for their Omega fatty acids and another day we should avoid fish altogether due to mercury levels exceeding acceptable standards. Eat more vegetables but don't drown them in dressing 'cuz then you might as well be eating a cheeseburger. Eat eggs...no don't...eat salt...no don't. And on and on. Most of the time I choose to ignore the information but I think this article is probably really true and I see it happening in my own house. It basically says that parents with toddlers in the home eat more fat than childless people. Now that the babyfood making is done (for the moment anyway) we've moved on to setting kid friendly meals on the table. By kid friendly, I mean something that is physically possible for a kid with six teeth to eat. It's unreasonable to think he's going to sit down to a steak dinner because it just isn't physically possible for him. My meal planning has definately changed. I wouldn't say drastically but the changes are evident. I don't think toddlers should have special meals prepared for them but I do have to put some thought into what SoJo can eat and make sure the meal centers around that entree. My cooking has become rather bland whereas it used to be spicy. I love to cook with full robust flavors and I've had to tone that down considerably. And, I'll admit I'm guilty of a buying some prepackaged kid friendly food just for convenience like ravioli's, mac-n-cheese, and fish sticks. It's not often but I've done it. I'll also admit that I pop a few fish sticks in the oven for myself or finish off a disgarded hamburger. Prior to Soren I'd never have had those temptations in the house. But the article overlooks the fact that I think a lot of parents still try to eat sensibly despite their limited food choices. We always have a starch, meat, and vegetable on the plate. If the kid eats it...fine...if he doesn't...well, he'll just have to wait until the next snack or meal. We never make something special just for him. And, thanks to my hubby, this has been our saving grace: garden.jpg For six weeks we've been eating fresh spinach, mustard greens, and mixed lettuce. Those who say it's too early don't know anything about gardening. Soren loves his spinach and mommy is growing a whole other person so she needs it too. Everyone in our house is getting fatter except for daddy which is exactly how it should be at the moment. There are 30 heirloom tomato plants, 20 various peppers, and two rows of peas in the ground. A variety of herbs are waiting in the cold frame for a warm planting day. So despite the tendency to serve fattier foods for Soren's sake, we are trying to put quality food on the table. Oh, and if you're in the mood for salad....we have enough to share! 6 comments

30 seconds

By Robin Dearing
Wednesday, April 18, 2007

We didn’t make Margaret finish her dinner Sunday night. Instead, we tried to pretend like everything was OK, like everything was normal. And it had been normal up until the point when Margaret’s airway became blocked by some candied carrots. She started to choke, sitting right in between her father and I, while we ate our dinner. She stood up hunched over and tried to put her fingers down her throat. Her mouth was gaping and her face was red. I immediately recognized that she was choking. I don’t remember saying anything, but Bill says that it was my actions that made him realize what was going on. He grabbed her away from me and quickly used the Heimlich maneuver to dislodge the small clump of partially chewed carrots. Margaret coughed and cried for a while. We held her and told her that everything was OK. Bill and I tried to pretend like it wasn’t the scariest 30 seconds of our lives. It happened so quickly, but I knew that we had to act fast or … well, you know what could have happened. That night before we went to sleep, I thanked Bill for saving my daughter’s life. According to emedicinehealth.com, it takes four to six minutes for the brain to begin to die from lack of oxygen. Four to six minutes! What if she had been eating alone? What if we didn’t notice? What if … The “what ifs” are more than I can think about. Instead, I focus on the fact that both Bill and I had been educated about administering the Heimlich maneuver and that we stayed calm and that it turned out OK. While anyone can choke, it’s a real threat to small children who have small airways. Click over here to read about the best way to prevent chocking hazards. 3 comments
Page 148 of 175


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