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By Richie Ann Ashcraft
Tuesday, March 27, 2007
Other possible titles include: "Thank God Alex is Over That," "Aaawww....Remember when Margaret used to....," or "I Just Can't Wait Until My Baby Does That!
I've recently learned that toilet paper is the coolest toy ever! Luckily, it's digestable.
These things are everywhere except on his actual feet.
This will be the "Summer of Smeared Toes." I really won't have to worry about this much longer because pretty soon I won't be able to reach them anyway.
Know what this is? I know it's hard to tell but this is a Spider Man Band-Aid. We don't own anything that doesn't have some kind of Marvel Comic character on it anymore.
It's blurry because a mysterious tiny fingerprint showed up smack in the middle of my camera lens. I wonder how that happened?
By Robin Dearing
Monday, March 26, 2007
When my family and I wheeled back into town a week ago Sunday, we were surprised to see that our apricot tree was in full bloom.
Normally, as spring starts to slowly invade the valley, we notice new growth on the roses, the grass starting to green and the buds on the trees. This year, it seems, we didn't have the time to notice that spring was on its way. Instead we blinked and our yard had awoken from its winter slumber.
Maybe we didn't notice because it happened earlier than it has in the past. Last year our apricot tree bloomed on March 25, this year it was March 18. And it seems that I'm not the only noticing trees blooming earlier.
Whether it's the effects of global warming or not, spring is here early this year and with it came the spring yard cleaning.
As I've mentioned before, my parents are visiting. While my mom and I have been working on making a quilt, my dad has been spring cleaning our yard, garage and shed.
And let me tell you, they have never looked so good.
Anyone who knows Bill and I, know that we are ... ahem ... not the most fastidious folks — but my folks are.
My dad recently acquired a leaf blower and sucker, which he has used on every inch of our yard. Then he raked and cut back all the dead growth on our perennials. Then he organized all the junk and non-junk in our garage and shed. He even organized the pile of garbage we intend on putting out for the city's annual spring clean-up.
Yes, we have the more organized garbage pile in the city.
Bill and I are thrilled and a little embarrassed. My dad worked (non-stop) for a day and a half and now our yards look really nice. We have promised ourselves that we are going to keep them looking nice.
Let's hope we keep this promise.
The only bummer about the whole thing is that we realized that while we were in Denver a week ago, someone "borrowed" the picnic bench that has been in our front yard since before we even bought our house.
It wasn't new or even really that nice, but that picnic bench has supported the rears of so many of our friends and families and was a staple of our front-yard seating. We are very sad that it is gone.
I hope whoever borrowed it gets a big ole splinter where the spring's joyful rays of sun don't shine.
Friday, March 23, 2007
Three days of extreme teenage angst and drama has left me completely drained and exhausted. I’m not even gonna go into it here.
So last night was Bunko Barbie night. Yes, in spite of my initial misgivings I still go. But last night I was just so not in the mood. I was crabby, grumpy and generally ticked off for good reasons. I really wanted a couple martinis, but I decided to be mature (ha!) and go for a nice long walk to let off some steam and get those endorphins going and all that crap.
I headed down to the river trail - you know, the one by Blockbuster thinking I would pick up a good chick flick after my walk. I set off at a brisk pace muttering to myself and having a good time at my own pity party. I turn the corner on the trail and encounter about 4 or 5 young adults (and I use the term loosely) coming towards me. The young man (again, I’m giving him credit) has a large stick that he is hitting the other ladies (?) with. They are laughing, sort of, so I assume it’s all in good fun, sort of.
As they approach me, I give the male dude my best hairy eyeball, thinking he has been raised by something other than wolves and assuming he would get the message that his behavior was inappropriate. He responds by giving me some sort of smart-ass response. Wrong.
Thinking I was six feet tall, bullet-proof and forgetting I was in a place where my body could be easily disposed of, I respond, “Dude, you so do not want to **** with me right now.” And I continued my walk that was supposed to be making me feel better.
I admit - there’s probably one or two things wrong about this scenario. But the most wrong of all was that I had foolishly forgotten my pepper spray that I am almost never without when enjoying the great outdoors. Then I really started to regret that even though I took the class, I never did apply for my concealed carry permit.
It made me sad that I don’t feel safe in this town anymore. Not walking the trails, not in the area of downtown in which I work, not on Main Street after dark, not in our parks, not even driving the streets where some meth-crazed maniac can kill me or my family in an instant. I don’t even think our schools are safe.
It’s depressing and indicative of the wrong kind of growth this valley has experienced and the miscreants we’ve allowed to take over like kudzu. Or tamarisk to be more geographically accurate. So, what’s a mother to do? Not walk the river trail when she’s in a bad mood? Sing Kumbaya? Wear a WWJD bracelet?
Time to re-think the concealed carry permit.
I can use it for my water pistol.
By Richie Ann Ashcraft
Thursday, March 22, 2007
First, and it has very little to do with this post, I'm happy to report that I no longer consider my hair to look like Ugly Betty.
I mean...seriously...what was I thinking when I cut these bangs? I was thinking that 80 percent of the time I have my hair pulled into a ponytail, or more like a big nesty thing on the back of my head, because my kid pulls it with his sticky fingers. I wish I had a better picture so I could show just how Ugly Bettyish my haircut really is.
brought up the subject of our society lacking in manners and I couldn't agree with her more. It only takes a second to either ruin or make someone's day with our social behavior.
For example, I wore my hair down yesterday in all its large Ugly Bettyness. I gathered a salad at a local deli and the checker said "You have the most beautiful hair I've ever seen!" I nearly leapt over the counter and hugged her! I replied..."Wow, nobody ever tells me that!" She said I should feel lucky to have naturally beautiful hair. I guess if I had to wear a hairnet all day behind the deli counter, I'd think my hair rocked too!
Anyways it just goes to show you that it doesn't take much to be nice to people and maybe someone like me would really appreciate a compliment from a stranger every once in awhile. (Or STOP and let me cross the street when I'm out walking so my kid doesn't learn how to flip the bird to oncoming traffic before he turns two.)
This post isn't really about my hair though. It is about how much I love my job, how much I love being a mom, and a very cool lady I met yesterday.
Dana Nunn, from Mesa State College
, made a visit to the newsroom yesterday. As she was leaving, she remarked that getting out of the building was a whole lot easier than getting in. It was countered by jovial laughs from the staff and a catcall of how many years each of them had been employed by The Daily Sentinel. "22 years, 26 years, 19 years and I'm just getting started." I almost piped up with my own "9 years" but you know, that would draw attention to my hair so I kept quiet.
But it made me think...why do we have such a long running dedicated staff here? It's because we love our jobs.
I've held all kinds of positions in the Sentinel
from answering phones to selling ads to testing lip gloss
. They actually pay me to write this blog and test lip gloss...it just doesn't get any better than that!
Yesterday, I took my stunning hair to Sherwood Park to interview Nora Luoma, founder of the Grand Valley Active Moms group. Probably the very best thing about my job is that I get to meet a lot of new people, which cuts way down on the amount of paper pushing time I have to spend in the office.
Nora was really nice, has a beautiful and well-behaved little girl, and she gave a great interview that I'll be writing for next week's Charm page. One of the things she said was "Any moms of all ages have similiar things in common no matter what age their children are." She is so right.
I thought about what she had said before bed last night. This thing called motherhood bonds women together. Only another mom can understand the ache in our hearts for our children when we are seperated or the happiness a silly smile followed by a toot in the tub can bring to our faces. I realized after talking with Nora that I finally have become apart of this network of women that spans generations, ethnic diversity, and social classes. We are continuing the human race together and are bonded by this title of Mom. That is the common thread between Lynn, Robin, and I, and that is the thread we throw out to our readers.
I'm so glad I met Nora yesterday. She's got a lot of experience at this mom thing (she has four children) and she seems like a person that would make a great friend. It's meeting people like her that keep me hanging on for the ten-year-pin at the Daily Sentinel. It's the interviews that makes us love our jobs so much.
Wait, isn't that sort of like Ugly Betty anyway? Crap, I so AM her!
GVAM meets every Wednesday at 10 a.m. for a stroller walk and talk at Sherwood Park. All moms are welcome. Learn more about the group at Meetup.com
Wednesday, March 21, 2007
Did I miss something in the parenting classes for the current generation of children and teenagers that said common courtesy and manners were no longer important or even worth a second thought?
I admit there are occasions when I am less than the Emily Post-er child, but on those occasions I am least aware that I am being impolite. Doesn’t excuse it, but awareness is at least the key to change. I have a friend, ahem, who recently confided in me that she hopes that along the road somewhere, somehow, she has instilled in her son better manners than she has witnessed lately in his peer group. She cited these examples:
Example #1 - She drove a car full of children 20 miles to their friend’s house, after picking these children up at their own homes. She drops them off at the friend’s house and they get out of the car without so much as “good-bye”, “thank you for the ride”, or even a chauffer’s tip!
Example #2 - Numerous of her son’s friends came to her home one evening. Being the alert yet mostly out of sight mother that she is when friends gather, she emerged from the back of the house just often enough to keep a watchful eye on things. At one of these emergences, she saw three girls actually going through her kitchen cabinets. In response to her incredulous, yet polite, question regarding their purpose for so blatantly violating her cupboard space, they informed her they were looking for food and saw some instant oatmeal they proceeded to make and eat. She had already set out drinks and snacks for the kids so they could have helped themselves, appropriately, to those.
Example #3 - Although my friend is irritated and distraught by these examples, she understands that the parents of these kids are really the ones to be held responsible for this lack of common consideration. And who can blame the kids for it when their parents show up 45 minutes late to pick their kids up from her house?! Manners beget manners, and it seems there’s not a whole lot of begetting going on.
My friend has raised her son to say “please” and “thank you” and god forbid - “yes ma’am” and “yes sir”. She’s aware that this doesn’t always happen, but again, awareness is the key to change. There are still standards of behavior that we all should follow called manners. All of us as parents need to be leading by example. Manners help us to peacefully and respectfully co-exist.
Thank you, and have a wonderful day!
By Robin Dearing
Tuesday, March 20, 2007
I hate to be a blog hog, but I asked Richie if I could cut in line so I could write a brief update on Bill since he was diagnosed with diabetes.
All the test results are back and it's confirmed that my husband has Type 2 Diabetes
. His body makes insulin but it doesn't use or process it correctly.
He's on a really low dose of Metformin (brand name Glucophage). It lowers blood glucose levels primarily by decreasing the amount of glucose produced by the liver. And we've really started watching what food we buy and how we eat.
A breakfast of cereal is no longer an option — nor is any meal that is predominantly carbohydrates. Now he eats eggs with fewer yolks and hearty whole-wheat breads. We're now eating fake butter and we've banned cookies and ice cream, regular soda and fruit juice.
Three meals a day are a must. This can be tricky especially when you're traveling with a group of people. Fortunately for us, our recent trip to Austin was with great friends who understood Bill's situation and never complained when I said, "Bill's gotta eat" over and over again. Bill even earned the nickname "DiaBilly."
Before the diagnosis, Bill and I had already decided that we needed to eat better and had begun buying pre-made dinners from Supper Solutions.
These ready-to-cook meals are healthy and most are very low in carbs. Because we're so busy, these meals have been a lifesaver for us.
As a result of the changes we've already made in these two weeks, Bill's blood glucose has been very good, often falling into the "normal" person's range. Follow up meetings with the diabetic counsellor and our family doctor left smiles on everyone's faces as they were very pleased with his dramatically reduced blood sugar levels.
He's doing so well that with maintaining the diet and adding a regular exercise program, there's a chance he'll be able to control his diabetes without medication at all. It's a lofty goal but one we're hoping to achieve.
Margaret and I are adapting eating a carb-conscious diet, but we are total cheaters. My parents are visiting and they parked their dessert-filled RV right next to the house — so it's easy to sneak out there for an after-dinner goodie. It's going to be difficult for Mar and I once they go home.
Considering how difficult this disease is to manage, we feel very lucky that Bill is responding to it all the way he is. He never complains about having to test his blood over and over again throughout the day and rarely is bothered by having to forsake sugar.
Instead he's looking at this as a way to actually improve his health with a balanced diet and plenty of exercise.
So we thank everyone who called, expressed their concern and sent their well wishes. As we adapt to our new lifestyle, we know that it's all going to end up OK because we're surrounded by friends and family who are here to support us.
By Robin Dearing
Monday, March 19, 2007
Margaret spent the weekend in Denver visiting my mom's family. Even though I grew up in California, I have more family in Colorado than anywhere else. And I'm ashamed to say that I don't visit them often enough.
I jokingly say that I come from hearty peasant stock, but really I just come from good people. And Margaret just loves them and had a great time playing with all my cousins' kids and visiting with my aunts, uncles and my gramma.
Last time we visited with them, my cousins and I remarked how it used to be that we were the kids — now we're the parents ... and our parents are the grandparents and my gramma is the queen of it all — the great gramma (she's even great-great gramma to some).
Jeeps, we're the parents now? How did I get old enough to be of the parental generation in my family?
Old or not, I'm lucky to have the family that I do, especially for my parents who were willing to come all the way from California to watch Margaret for us while Bill and I flew to Austin, Texas for the weekend.
Even though I'm more of a "late-summer chicken" now, instead of "spring chicken," I'm not going to pull out the polyester stretch pants and clip-on earrings just yet.
played the Invasion of the GoGirls festival
which is just one of numerous unofficial showcases that go hand-in-hand with the famed SXSW festiva
l in Austin.
It was a quick trip — we flew out Friday morning and back in Sunday — but it was long enough for us to see more bands than we could ever imagine seeing in one weekend. It seemed that every musician in the country descended upon the uber-cool Austin for this weeklong festival.
There were literally bands playing in every imaginable space available. It was incredible. And there I was, this 36-year-old secretary/mother/wife, taking it all in. I almost forgot I was old — that was until the arthritis is my neck perked up to remind me of my "late-summer-chicken" status.
We opened the GoGirls.com's
line-up Saturday night and were beyond pleased (understatement) with the response we received from the generous crowd.
Two adorable girls greeted us as we ended our set. They were the singer and keyboard player for another GoGirls band, Waiting 4 Wyatt.
They are a plucky young band with a fun sound and a song currently being played on MTV. Their genuine enthusiasm was contagious and made me forget I'm old enough to be their mother — instead I just felt like another musician playing music.
Some moms scrapbook or play tennis. I play guitar.
Some married couples spend weekends away from their kids by relaxing on a beach or going out to shows. We go to music festivals and play rock 'n' roll.
I never thought that getting older could be so much fun.
By Richie Ann Ashcraft
Friday, March 16, 2007
And so it begins...the terrible two's. I'm assuming it's plural because the behavior graph begins on both sides of the second birthday.
My baby boy has gone from "high needs
" baby to "spirited
" toddler in just a couple of months.
He's began testing me to see if throwing a howling tantrum while crumbling into a ball on the floor will make me cave enough so he can eat rocks in peace.
The "Book of Lies
" says to pick the toddler up when he's getting into something and distract him with a new activity. Yeah right! My kid will make a beeline right back to the thing he shouldn't be touching as soon as his feet hit the floor. He'll do this over and over and over again because he becomes fixated on things.
Any thing that seems off limits is his favorite thing to touch. Daddy's bike is a particular favorite. He'll touch the chain getting grease on his fingers and rubbing it in his hair. Lovely!
He'll turn the television on and off either via remote or manually, he really has no preference. He'll open cabinent doors and pull all the contents out. He'll take my folded stack of laundry and drop each piece off the side of the bed while erupting into 1-year-old giggles.
He'll poke the radio, poke mommy's eye, poke the light switch, poke the stove, poke the lamp. When he's not poking he's pulling...pulling the baby spinach sprouts from the garden, pulling his toys out of the toy box, or a particular favorite...pulling mommy's hair or biting my toes.
Sometimes the pulling backfires. A particularly strange cry came bellering from the living room. I rushed to find that a lightweight lamp had wrestled and pinned him by the back of the neck digging his face into the carpet. The lamp doesn't work anymore but the kid is fine.
He eats well enough and is starting to "fatten
" up, but he loves to throw food off the side of his high chair while watching my reaction. Or he'll spit milk into my face...my particular pet peeve.
Every single night, the howling begins at his bedtime. Then it stops and begins again around midnight. Then it stops and begins again around the time my eyes are too blurry to focus on the clock. This kid is never going to sleep...I've just accepted that being his mom is a 24-hour job!
And, I didn't even mention the head-banging!!!
Somebody pour me a glass of wine....oh wait....nevermind....
Thursday, March 15, 2007
It’s a scary world out there for parents of teenagers. And apparently it gets worse when they leave for college. There is an alarming new report
out about binge drinking and drug abuse. Although I might argue with myself about “new”.
College and drunken stupors go hand-in-hand. But I think the stakes are higher now, the drugs more addictive and dangerous and the consequences more severe. Or maybe it just seems that way because I’m on the other end of it now. Regardless, I don’t like it and it bothers me a great deal. What’s a mother to do? Or a father?
We talk to Alex frequently about the dangers of over-indulging in alcohol or recreational drugs. He's been told that too much is not fun and can kill you. And that death is a pretty permanent condition. I’ve told him about kids from my high school who drove drunk and one was killed and one is living in a wheelchair hooked up to machines that feed him and breathe for him. Not pretty.
And let’s face it. If you went to high school or college, chances are you drove drunk (or at least impaired) or were probably in a car with someone driving who was drunk or impaired. Statistically, you were just lucky if you made it home in one piece.
I think the statement in the article that college administrators say there is little they can do about the problem is total crap. Isn’t the legal drinking age everywhere in the U.S. 21? And aren’t most college students under that age until the year they graduate? I bet a couple of big busts would get their attention. And I’m not talking about the ones being flashed at spring break . . . that’s a whole other topic for another day.
By Robin Dearing
Wednesday, March 14, 2007
My parents are here for a visit and to watch Margaret for us while Bill and I travel to Austin this weekend. Monday I took the day off work so we could make the gorgeous drive through Gateway Canyon and to John Hendricks' car museum.
Anyone who's made that drive knows its splendor. It is so beautiful. I love that drive. It so characterizes the Western Colorado landscape with its diversity and utter beauty.
Then there's Hendricks' Gateway Canyons.
I have mixed emotions about the development out there. I feel for the people who have lived their lives peacefully among the statuesque spires. But I also love having another reason to go out there to visit ... and believe me, the car museum
is a great reason to make the drive.
My dad has always loved cars and I developed a love of cars, too. The history of the automobile is a history of innovation and speed and glamour ... and I could go on and on.
The collection that John Hendricks gathered is exceptional, with the $3.24 million Olds concept car
being the cherry on an already delicious cake. Each car in the museum is special and the way that they are displayed is wonderful.
It's a great place for an afternoon getaway.