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By Robin Dearing
Thursday, August 24, 2006
With the start of the new school year, so starts the extracurricular activities.
Being that Margaret has never shown any interest in playing team sports (unless you consider tag a team sport), we’ve had to look for her talents elsewhere.
It wasn’t hard to find where her interests lie (at this point, anyway — much like the winds in western Colorado, the passions of a 6-year-old are fleeting and erratic). She loves music.
I’m not at all ashamed to admit that this delights me. We’ve been hoping that Margaret would have a love for music since … well, long before she was born.
My husband couldn’t wait for Margaret to grow old enough to hold drumsticks and for her third birthday she got a tiny, but very real, drum kit.
Much to Bill’s chagrin, she didn’t really take to the drums. Now the minuscule set sits in our basement next to our amplifiers played occasionally by Margaret but most often by our adult friends/drummers (and believe me, you’ve never lived until you’ve seen an adult-sized drummer kick it on a microscopic drum kit).
This past June for Margaret’s 6th birthday, we let her decide which instrument she wanted to play.
I was hoping she would pick the guitar and even went so far as to repeatedly show her the Hello Kitty Squier guitar Hart Music carries.
She decided on the keyboard, stating that she wanted to play piano like her kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Bainter (who, in my opinion, is an institution and who Margaret thinks walks on water).
Yesterday after school, Margaret had her first piano lesson with Mrs. Chavies (another Western Slope institution).
I sat nearby and listened and watched and beamed and tried not to cry. She did great. She listened intently. She sat up straight. She showed enthusiasm and an understanding for what Mrs. Chavies was teaching her.
As we walked home from her lesson, Margaret proudly shouted to the neighbors that she had just come from her piano lesson. She was very proud of herself.
I was, too.
Wednesday, August 23, 2006
“So, how did the first day go??
•Oh man, it was great! My Spanish teacher is so cool! And they have the best food! Taco Bell, Domino’s pizza, McDonald’s french fries and I swear the biscuits they had were Chick-Fil-A!?
I breathed a sigh of relief and knew that it would be a good year.
Later that evening I get a cell phone call as I was driving my visiting-sister back to our other sister•s house. (More on the whole sister invasion thing later.)
“Mom, can you stop at Albertson’s and buy some book covers??
•No, we can make book covers out of brown paper bags.?
•OK. Then can you buy some brown paper bags??
•Uh, no. We have them at home.?
Two minutes later:
•Mom, we can’t make book covers because I left the books at school.?
•Well, then we’ll do it when you bring them home.?
•But it’s worth ten points to bring them in tomorrow!?
•Then you’ll need to remember to bring stuff home next time. Tell your teachers I think that it’s unrealistic to expect parents to get it together that fast and they had a whole summer to make us aware of book covers.?
•Mom, that kind of attitude is soooo middle-school.?
Yeah. Pass the Chick-Fil-a biscuits, please.
By Richie Ann Ashcraft
Tuesday, August 22, 2006
Before I had Soren, I used to say that my baby would never cramp my style. I’d just throw him in a back pack and keep on camping and hiking.
My friends who were already mothers would raise their eyebrows in the “you’ll see? style.
Well, it took six months but we finally took Soren camping. I didn•t exactly stuff him in my bookbag the way I had once imagined…but he was introduced to roughing it in a favorite secret spot in San Juans over the weekend.
Aside from the car ride, he loved it. He was super excited when we arrived watching his dad put up the tent. He was introduced to all sorts of new and interesting things we own like laterns and flashlights.
Sleeping on a thin little mattress wasn’t really his style and took some getting used to. He arched his back in protest throughout the night. We used our bodies as bumper pads and each of us took a few kicks to
In the morning, the chatter of a squirrel woke him up. He lay real still and listened to the foreign noise with wide eyes.
We hiked and relaxed by the fire. Just giving him an aspen branch would entertain him for hours.
I was so pleased to see us getting back to doing what we love to do. Having grown up in Colorado, I can’t imagine my life without weekend getaways to the mountains. They are reason we call this state home and I hope that Soren grows to love it as much as we do.
By Robin Dearing
Monday, August 21, 2006
I did better this year. I got a little weepy on the drive back to work, but I didn't actually cry.
But I wanted to. I still do (I might still).
Margaret was so excited when we left this morning to walk over to her first day in first grade.
Look at that face:
As we got closer to school, she became more quiet.
We walked through the halls of the big school (her kindergarten had been in a separate building); she held my hand more tightly.
As we found her classroom, I noticed some little faces that were familiar — some shone with excitement, some were dark with concern and a little fear.
After being introduced to her teacher, she lined up outside with the other kids.
One boy with a fresh buzz cut cried. I would have gladly joined him. Instead I reassured Margaret, who was now very timid, that everyone was in the same boat. It's a new experience for every child there.
I'm not sure who needed the assurance more, her or me.
Bill and I lingered, talked with the principal, took some pictures. We knew it was time for us to leave, but it was so hard to walk away.
Finally I mustered a smile and we waved.
We stood outside the fenced school yard and watched her a little longer. We huddled there talking about how she seemed so big and yet so little at the same time until she noticed us. And we knew it was time to go.
By Richie Ann Ashcraft
Thursday, August 17, 2006
(This next entry by special request going out to TfP!)
It’s amazing what comes out of my mouth sometimes. Especially since I’ve had my lil’ booger.
Tammy is a the nearest co-worker in proximity to my desk. She’s great…hard worker….tight lipped….the whole honker…And she totally nose stuff!
About 100 times a day I call out “Hey Tammy….? And it is usually followed by some asinine question like •are you havin’ boog’rs for dinner?? I•m sure some days she wishes she could kick the snot out of me but sometimes I get a giggle out of her.
The other day I said loudly “Shoot, (yeah I use clean words like shoot now that I’m a mom) I broke my booker pickin nail!?
It cracked her up (finally!). Of course she knew I used that particular nail to pick my kid•s boogers more than my own for the most part. Breaking that nail really blows as it fit right up his mini nostril.
Tammy also likes a good pun and maybe someday I’ll make her laugh so hard she snorts. I hope she doesn’t think I’m too much of a snot.
By Robin Dearing
Wednesday, August 16, 2006
I love my kid.
I realize that kind of goes without saying, but there are times that I feel like she was sent to test my patience, self-control and sanity. (The results of these tests are always the same, I have little of any of these admirable traits.)
It is at these times that I remember my perpetually even-tempered mom mumbling under her breath, "I hope you have a daughter just like you someday." And I remember the Christmas when Margaret was two. I called my mom moaning that Mar wouldn't open her presents. She laughed at my frustration and said, "She so much like her mother."
But then there are those moments when I am like a teacup overfilled with pure unadulterated happiness over the fact that Margaret is my daughter.
This past weekend I experienced, not just a moment, but days full of that overfilled feeling. It was glorious.
We had the opportunity to spend some time at a friend's cabin. And while she had times when she claimed to have nothing to do, for the majority of the weekend, she delighted in just being … and so did I.
Margaret, whom our friend nicknamed Midge, spent time digging rocks out of the dirt and digging rocks out of the “crick.? We talked about the different qualities of the rocks and she learned the word •igneous.?
We scrambled over the long grass and through the brush in search of mushrooms • not to eat, but just to look at. We enjoyed the fact that there are so many different shapes, colors and textures of those strangely spongy growths.
We sat on the porch at dusk and waited for deer to come down the mountain. We watched our dog frolic through thick foliage in search of mice and chipmunks. We danced while making dinner. We listened to the rain thunder on the roof.
We ate peaches and toasted marshmallows over the coals left in the grill. We read and watched movies.
We did nothing, yet it felt like everything.
Tuesday, August 15, 2006
The great Alaskan adventure is over, but I think the memories will last a long time.
I picked Alex up last Wednesday (the day before his freshmen orientation and my melt-down). I took his cousin Forrest along for company - he just moved here from Italy, but more about that later – and I knew Alex would enjoy seeing him.
After a quick review of Alex’s trip, the two teenagers launched into a conversation that went something like this:
One long continuous stream of speech passed back and forth at a rapid-fire pace between the front and back seats
Dude, thatisthelamestnameever. CanyouimaginebeingontheFriendlyHands
weonlygetlike3channelsinEurope . . .?
OK. You get the picture. This went on for miles, and the two of them only paused occasionally to make snide comments about my driving ability. Something about the noise from the rumble strips really disturbed them.
When I could get a question in edge-wise Alex relayed that he had a great time in Alaska. Camped out two nights along the way in a tipi, got to work as a lumberjack, went salmon fishing from a canoe in the shadow of a glacier, removed porcupine quills from Cheena•s nose, saw herds of buffalo, stone sheep and caribou, and admitted to sipping hot buttered rum around the campfire.
And so we enter the last week of summer vacation. The coming year promises to be full of challenges for everyone. But dude, like, I think it will be, like, awesome!
By Richie Ann Ashcraft
Monday, August 14, 2006
The other day my niece said she feels like a mother dog with ten pups who finally has to get up and just let the puppies fall where they may.
She couldn’t have put it better in my opinion.
The mother dog always has this expression of “Kill Me Now!? on her tired canine face as she steps not so gingerly over her mewing offspring.
At baby•s bedtime, I breathe a sigh of relief as I gently place him in his crib. I know that I have a least a couple of hours to myself. He won’t be kicking, poking, or suckling on me.
I like that Soren can sleep in his own bed. Just for the reason that I get a little bit of time off from being the mother dog. My hubby on the other hand loves to cuddle the baby while he sleeps. He likes to have his whole family in the nest within arms reach.
I love to cuddle our baby too. But Soren treats me like an all night smorgasboard on the Vegas Strip when he cosleeps.
I sleep with my arm at an unnatural angle and always on my side. My heightened mothering sense keeps me from flipping unconsciously in my sleep for fear of throwing an elbow and cracking the baby’s skull. I hate that there is a baby barrier between my husband and I because to be perfectly honest, sometimes I need a little cuddling too. When he sleeps in our bed I wake up feeling terribly unrested and literally drained.
Cosleeping is a another of the many parenting styles hotly debated. Some say it’s better for the child’s emotional well-being and others say it depresses a child’s sense of independence.
In my family, we have to strike a happy medium because I just want to sleep.
By Richie Ann Ashcraft
Saturday, August 12, 2006
Just in time for elections:
The Wig Party!
By Robin Dearing
Friday, August 11, 2006
“Sup Tyrel? Sup foo’??
That was the first fake phone conversation Margaret ever had on her little-kid, fake phone.
She was about three. She was pretending to talk to our friend Ty.
She used to call him by his full name, Tyrel. There was something about the way that she pronounced it, like she had a southern accent, •Tah-rel,? that always made me laugh.
She always really liked Ty. She would cling to his legs and claim, •My Tah-rel!? • just in case we weren’t aware that he belonged exclusively to her. I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that he always treated her like a person and not a little kid; not everyone sees the distinction.
I met Ty 4-1/2 years ago when I started working for The Daily Sentinel. He worked in the pre-press department (I still really have no idea what he does exactly).
Today’s his last day. He put in his notice and is moving to the Pacific Northwest to learn to do cool stuff.
I’m glad for him.
I’m sad for me.
And for all of us who call Ty our friend.
Ty is a great co-worker. He’s hardworking and dependable and he’s fun. He has an arcane sense of humor that has kept me in stitches over the years.
And he would bring in donuts, which he would generously share. He learned that my favorite donut, really the Holy Grail of Donuts, was the glazed, chocolate old-fashioned. It’s an elusive donut here in Grand Junction and on those days when he found one, I’d inevitably receive an e-mail that would read only, “Mmmm … donuts!?
Richie and Lynn, my haute mama cohorts, also have benefited from Ty•s donut generosity.
Richie likes herself a donut but in an attempt to combat what she claims is extra post-baby weight (it should be known that Richie was wearing jeans — regular, pre-pregnancy jeans — a mere four weeks after Soren was born! I know, who can do that?), she only lingers around the donuts, enjoying them from afar, rarely allowing their sugary goodness to pass her lips.
Lynn on the other hand will actually eat a donut … well, part of a donut anyway. She’s one of those people who thinks it’s fine to cut a donut in half, inspect both halves, choose the half with the most cream filling and leave the cast-off remains for some other poor sap who didn’t get to the donuts quick enough.
Sadly enough, today is the day our donut gravy train leaves the station and we have to say good-bye to our dear friend.
Good luck, Ty. I’m going to miss you, you floornt.