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Going for broke

By {screen_name}
Thursday, December 28, 2006

I’m using up the last of my vacation time this week, but I came into the office yesterday to pick something up and dragged Alex along with me. We stopped by the front desk to say hey to Mary and while I was there I went quickly through my mailbox and lo and behold found my cell phone bill. Flash back about two months ago when I added Alex to my cell phone account and gave him his own phone with stern and explicit warnings about how not to use up minutes and absolutely no text messaging. Any overtime charges or text message charges he incurred would be paid out of his limited income, which amounts to just his monthly stipend that Mother Scrooge pays him. “Oh good Al, our cell phone bill.” I said as I opened the envelope. I glanced at the balance due and saw it was $20.00 over what it should be. “Twenty bucks! How did that happen? Al! You have twenty bucks in text messaging charges! At ten cents a piece that’s 200 messages! Two hundred! How do you send and receive that many?! Wait! It had to be during class time when you should have been listening to the teacher!” I kinda screeched. At this point, Robin bursts out laughing and makes a beeline back to her desk. Mary looks at Alex like a man who is about to have his last meal. Alex gives me the classic shoulder-shrugging-innocent-who-me? teenager look. On the ride home I reiterated to my offspring that he was financially responsible for those charges. I inquired as to how he now planned to go bowling, and to the movies and ice-skating since the bills in his wallet now belonged to me. Or more accurately to Verizon. “Just take me to the bank and I’ll get money out of my account.” “Uh-unh” I said, as in no. “That bank account is your car and college tuition money.” “Yeah, but it’s my money I can spend it however I want to.” “In theory, yes. But in reality, you have a mother who’s job it is to teach you that you don’t make bad decisions and then run to the bank and cover them. You’ll be bankrupt in no time. You are not using that money to pay for something you are fully aware never should have happened.” Anyone who has a teenager (or has ever been one) knows how the rest of the conversation went. To his credit, he isn’t quite old enough yet to get a “real” job but he can certainly work it off. And as I told him, at fifty cents an hour it shouldn’t take him long. But he had bigger plans. He walks out of his room wearing this: backmassage.jpg I had to laugh! But like a cat enjoying swatting around the mouse I remarked, “That sounds tempting, but I’ve already got plans for the hot tub so I’ll be relaxed. For free.” One last observation – how do you go from no text messaging charges to two hundred in less than a month? In a word – girls. Well, just one girl presently. Hmmmm, more on that later. In the meantime – contact me for cheap labor! 3 comments


By Richie Ann Ashcraft
Thursday, December 28, 2006

Due to current circumstances I've had start considering daycare. I just don't want to think about it really. The whole idea makes me cringe. I've been lucky enough to have family watch the baby thus far but now I'm going to have to seek outside help and it hurts me. I mean how do you trust people you don't know to look after your baby? And all you have to do is read The Daily Sentinel to know that there is a perv of the week just about every single week and it scares the holy hell out of me. I've been asking my most trusted friends about their providers and started weighing the pros and cons of in-home vs. parochial and other daycare providers. To tell the truth I'm just flat scared to leave my kid with someone I don't know. It's that simple. And, I'm worried about how he will adjust to a change like that....new place, other kids, strange adults. It doesn't sound good. Then the guilt sets in. How could I be such a terrible parent??? Considering leaving my only son with a stranger? Sticking him out there on his own??? This sucks. 8 comments

A quirky Christmas

By Robin Dearing
Wednesday, December 27, 2006

'Twas a merry — albeit quiet — Christmas for our little clan. Santa brought goodies for all of us with Margaret getting a brand-new, never-had-training-wheels, two-wheeler bike complete with kick stand. Schwinn.jpg So, as you can imagine, Bill and I spent a fair portion of Christmas day standing outside in the cold watching our dear little one ride around and around the block with a beatific smile carved in her cold, pink face. Two years ago Santa brought Mar a Barbie bike that lost its training wheels this summer. Yesterday we handed down that bike to our next-door neighbor who will be turning 5 on Friday (I won't mention that we traded it to our neighbors for beer because that just seems wrong). Bill and I were watching Kate while her folks were at work and decided that we'd done enough sitting around for this holiday season. We took Kate out for a venture into the land of Bikes with Two Wheels. Riding a two-wheeler is a tricky thing and often requires some sort of adult to run along side, holding the seat and encouraging the little one to steer and pedal and balance and all those things that are necessary to ride sans training wheels. We took turns running and holding and saving Kate from plowing into fences and dormant rose bushes. She did great. By the time her folks got home, she could make it all the way down the block without assistance. So winded and sore from running around the block again and again, but grinning from the satisfaction of helping our dear friend reach an important milestone, we flopped back on the sofa for some more holiday TV time. It was then that we discusses all the nice things that we received as gifts this year. I confided in Bill that one of my favorite presents he got me this year was this: Dwight.jpg Those that watch the TV show, The Office, know that it's the Dwight bobblehead. Those that don't watch the show now know that for sure that I am a quirky girl who enjoys arcane objects from TV shows about people who work in an office. Bill said that he felt like it was a strange and decidedly unromantic gift for his wife. I disagree, there is nothing more romantic than a man buying his love the exact gift that she was hoping to get. 1 comments

A holiday well done

By Richie Ann Ashcraft
Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Soren’s first Christmas was a huge success. My will power held and Santa brought everyone much needed gifts like toothbrushes, dental floss and footballs. I know…I’m going to be on of those moms who give the kids new underwear and socks every year. Geez—I bore myself. Most importantly our family spoiled him. The past three days have been a nonstop funfest for the little tyke. There was always a spare pair of hands ready and willing to accept the wild haired baby. He had his piggies pinched, his nose hidden and enough airplane rides to last the rest of year. My proudest moment was watching him sit between his dad and I at the dinner table enjoying bits of bread, mashed yams, and stuffing. His smiling face searching the table trying to catch someone’s eye. He was a champ and probably the most polite baby I’ve ever seen. He didn’t spit food or throw anything. He babbled and laughed. My brother-in-law said “He’s really well behaved” and of course I beamed. (This really has nothing to do with me….although I’d like to take credit….Soren just has a great personality and is naturally well-behaved.) He ate so much that every time he’d toddle then fall on his butt, the snaps on his pants would burst. We had to change him into new 12-month pants. There goes our gift cards! 7:30 p.m. and my baby was begging to go to bed by rubbing his eyes and repeating “no no no nonoooo”. (Sadly, his first word seems to be no. I’m hesitant to say he’s talking as his babbling has been inconsistent but he’s working on it.) By 9:30, mom and pop crawled into their brand new bed. I’m sure that’s the sign of a holiday well-done. All those new toys and guess what I find him playing with this morning??? A trial size bottle of hairspray and a mascara he pinched from my make-up basket!!!! Santa could have gotten off a lot cheaper had he known! 0 comments

Mother’s Christmas Story

By Richie Ann Ashcraft
Monday, December 25, 2006

Unfortunately the website I found this on didn't give tribute to the author. I think it's a good story! Merry Christmas to mom's all across the world! Hug them tight because they only believe in Santa for a little while! "A Mothers Christmas" 'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the abode Only one creature was stirring, and she was cleaning the commode. The children were finally sleeping, all snug in their beds, While visions of Nintendo 64 and Barbie, flipped through their heads. The dad was snoring in front of the TV, With a half-constructed bicycle on his knee. So only the mom heard the reindeer hooves clatter, Which made her sigh, "Now what's the matter?" With toilet bowl brush still clutched in her hand, She descended the stairs, and saw the old man. He was covered with ashes and soot, which fell with a shrug. "Oh great," muttered the mom, "Now I have to clean the rug." "Ho-ho-ho!" cried Santa, "I'm glad you're awake." "Your gift was especially difficult to make." "Thanks, Santa, but all I want is some time alone." "Exactly!" he chuckled, "I've made you a clone." "A clone?" she asked, "What good is that? Run along, Santa, I've no time for chit-chat." The mother's twin. Same hair, same eyes, Same double chin. "She'll cook, she'll dust, " She'll mop up every mess. You'll relax, take it easy, Watch The Young &the Restless." "Fantastic!" the mom cheered. "My dream come true! "I'll shop. I'll read. I'll sleep a whole night through! " From the room above, the youngest began to fret. "Mommy?! I scared... and I 'm wet." The clone replied, "I'm coming, sweetheart." "Hey," the mom smiled, "She knows her part." The clone changed the small one, and hummed a tune, As she bundled the child, in a blanket cocoon. "You the best Mommy ever. " I really love you." The clone smiled and sighed, "I love you, too." The mom frowned and said, "Sorry, Santa, no deal. " That's my child's love, she is trying to steal." Smiling wisely Santa said, "To me it is clear, " Only one loving mother, is needed here." The mom kissed her child, and tucked her into bed. "Thank you, Santa, " for clearing my head. I sometimes forget, it won't be very long, When they'll be too old, for my cradle-song." The clock on the mantle began to chime. Santa whispered to the clone, "It works every time." With the clone by his side Santa said, "Goodnight. Merry Christmas, Mom, You'll be all right. 1 comments

To all a very good night

By Richie Ann Ashcraft
Friday, December 22, 2006

Let the holidays begin! I did all my shopping with one big trip .The tree is up, the presents are wrapped, and my nutcracker army is locked and loaded. I just have to get through this last working day which I expect to be exceptionally and even torturously uneventful. In previous years the hubby and I never lasted until Christmas to open our presents. We always tore into them with zeal a week, maybe a few days before. This year I made him promise that no matter what we’d wait until the official Christmas morning. We almost made it, except…. Except I came home for lunch yesterday and my Christmas present was smack in the middle of my bedroom floor…unwrapped no less. It was a brand new mattress and box springs. Sleeping in a taco bed most of my adult life was starting to take its toll. I was starting to get all hunchbacked and haggard. I was and still am giddy. It has memory foam (the best invention ever!)….my butt sinks down three inches and glorious NASA foam swaddles me like a little newborn homunculus. So, in exchange for the early gift I let hubby open one of his presents. It was a brand new pair of pajama pants…’cuz I don’t want any dirty old pants in my new bed. Then we swore again that there would be no more present opening before Monday morning. Awhile later, I dug the chocolate dreidel Daniel gave Soren out of his stocking and we ate it. But I swear…that was the last one!!! Will power….will power. I went to bed at 8:30 p.m. and didn’t stir until 4 a.m. Maybe this year Santa can leave my presents at the foot of my new bed so I don’t even have to get up Christmas morning. I could just lean over the side and fish something up. That’d be awesome!!! Merry Christmas everyone and to all (especially me) a very very good night! 3 comments

Always room for one more

By Robin Dearing
Thursday, December 21, 2006

We've all been pretty sad over the passing of our dear kitty. But I was surprised at how hard it hit Margaret. She took the news a lot harder that I imagined. She's an emotional, sentimental little girl who, like her mama, easily finds the tragedy in such events. We talked a lot about the cycle of life and how death plays an evitable role. Again, Margaret amazed me at how she seemed to grasp these difficult concepts and even seemed to be comforted by them. Even though we were all getting along fine and coping with our grief, Bill and I couldn't leave well enough alone. Last Saturday we added to this little bundle of fur to our family: Frieda, Robin.jpg Her name if Frida Kahlo (let me correct that, Frida Mary Kahlo — Margaret insisted that the kitten have the name Mary somewhere in her name). She's been a most delightful distraction. She's two pounds of vim and vigor and embodies all those things that kitten are: cute, little, fearless, playful, goofy, uncoordinated ... I could go on. But as much as Bill and I have delighted in our new little furball, we've enjoyed watching Margaret take care of her even more. Margaret has taken the lead on the kitten care with exuberance. Whenever I thought it was time to feed Frida, Mar would jump and shout, "I'll do it, because it's my responsibility." We never suggested that it was her responsibility, but were pleased at her newfound sense of duty. She even volunteered to clean out the kitty's litter box. First, I had to explain the importance of cleanliness when dealing with cat boxes and then stress repeatedly that one should never, ever use one of our tablespoons for such an activity. Fortunately, Frida is an incredibly social little thing and is most happy when she's in someone's lap either napping or enjoying a good book. Mar, Frieda.jpg It's great to have a distraction from my grief over losing my companion of 12 years, but it's even better to see that my daughter — at 6-years-old — has developed tenderness and a sense of responsibility. 3 comments

Pre-dawn Awakenings

By {screen_name}
Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Maui wowie! It was great! And sunny and warm and beachy-keen. As I look out my window with snow pouring down and covering up my car and everything else I wonder, “Why am I here and not there?” Actually, as awesome as it was, thank you Dan, I was ready to come home at the end of a week because yes, I missed my son. I suffer no delusions that he missed me too, but I like to think he thought of me fondly once or twice while I was gone - in between spending some quality time with his dad who got to be the full-time chief cook and bottle washer and homework hound for the week. On another topic. Occasionally, just before I am fully awake in the morning, thoughts will drift through my semi-conscious mind. They are like waking-dreams and I’ve learned that there are important messages in them. This morning I woke to some internal voice asking me how I would describe, from a mother’s point of view, what teenage boys are like. Loud, large, and messy. That’s not very positive. Hmm, you’re right. Big-eaters? Try harder. Intense, swaggering, passionate, moody. What else? Struggling, adventurous, competitive, blooming. You’re getting there. Mercurial, exaggerated, expansive. And expensive. Not bad. Keep thinking positive! And have a great day! I have a very friendly conscience. And I have been thinking about it. How can you describe a teenager? They’re all about everything one minute and all about everything else the next minute. They make you laugh and they break your heart. They make you think about your self at that age and how wonderful and dreadful it is. They make you realize that nothing, and everything, has changed since you were in high school. They make you realize that they have to face a big, scary world that seems way bigger and scarier than ever. But they’re brave, and smart and resourceful. And since they’re teenagers and know everything, we “old people” need to listen to their ideas. Because they don't know about failure yet. They’re truly exasperating and awesome creatures. Now you got it! 2 comments

Practice makes pretty close to perfect

By Robin Dearing
Tuesday, December 19, 2006

It was just five months ago that Margaret started taking piano lessons. When her teacher told us in August that Margaret would be playing Christmas songs in the holiday recital held every year, we were skeptical. I remember snarking to Bill, "I can only imagine what that's going to sound like." But over these few months, Margaret has diligently practiced every day — some days she practiced with joy in her heart and others she played through tears of anger and frustration shooting deadly looks at her mean, old mom who shackled her to her keyboard until her lesson was complete. But I made one thing abundantly clear, piano lessons are her choice. If she doesn't want to take lessons, she doesn't have to. But if I'm gonna be shelling out my hard-earned cash, she was going to practice. Every time I've given her the ultimatum of "practice or no lessons," she always picks to practice. What I didn't realize when she began taking lessons was the amount of parental oversight that is involved. Not only has Margaret learned to read music and play the piano, but I've learned to read music and play the piano, despite the fact that I never touch the keys. I know the proper hand and finger placement, I know the names of the keys and I know the difference between quarter, whole and eighth notes. I've stood at the keyboard and helped guide her through her lessons for, on average, an hour a day, every day for the last five months .... phew, no wonder I'm tired. But it has been worth every minute. She is progressing so fast now that I can barely keep up. She keeps having to correct me when I'm trying to help her. I'm becoming useless to her — except for the constant stream of encouragement that Bill and I provide. So as December approached, Margaret began to play Christmas songs and I was amazed at the beauty of her playing. She and her teacher selected two solo pieces and one duet for her to perform in the recital. She played those songs over and over and over and she knew them well. But we were all a bit nervous on the day of her recital. Bill and I sat in the pews of the Methodist Church and awaited Margaret's first public performance. I could tell that she was scared. She'd had a bad experience with her singing solo in her kindergarden graduation and was a little gun shy. The students played in order of age with the youngest going first. Margaret is the youngest. She was dwarfed by the gleaming, black grand piano. I sat with baited breath as she sat down before the keys. If you are interested in seeing how she played, you can click here to see a video of her performance. (Oh, during Mar's second piece you'll see the reporter from Channel 5 News park herself right in front of Bill. So there's a couple seconds of the back of her head followed by some gripping video of the church's carpet before Bill got repositioned — it'll make you wonder why Bill didn't become a professional cameraman.) 4 comments


By Richie Ann Ashcraft
Monday, December 18, 2006

I never thought I could breastfeed for a whole year! It seems like such a long time to have milk coming out of my chest. But, I did it among the other many things I didn't think I was capable of....like never sleeping. Being that Soren is six weeks away from the big #1, I thought weaning should be on the parenting agenda. He nurses only three times; right before bed, ALL night long, and first thing in the morning. I thought we should probably start by eliminating the All night long feeding. First, I bought a bag of disposable diapers for him to wear to bed. I know...the shame of it. But, cloth just wasn't cutting it at night. He's wet and he can feel he's wet. He'd wake up soaking at least three times a night and each time he woke he thought he needed fed. That had to stop. We just had to tough out the other nighttime squalls. I know, we've tried this before but our success rate was hit and miss. This time we figured it out.....a pact between parents that no matter what, no matter how tired, no matter how loud, no matter how our heartstrings hurt....we would not get him out of his bed. Three nights with the pillow over our heads and we have success. He sleeps All night long. So much so that now I check him to make sure he's okay and put the blanket on him. Last night I didn't hear a peep from him. And daddy and I are getting the best sleep we've had in a long time. Two more feedings to go and those I hear are the hardest to quit. I think I'll start with the pre-bed nursing as it seems the one he'll most likely give up easily. The nurse at my office suggests supplementing with a little formula at meal times to make sure he's getting all the iron he needs. Seems when they say 1 year before cow's milk they mean Exactly one year. Not a week too soon!! I'm hoping the weaning process goes slowly and smoothly over the next couple of months. I find myself sad to be giving it up but relieved of the burden at the same time. 2 comments
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