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By Robin Dearing
Friday, June 16, 2006
We're all going to take a turn paying tribute to the men in our lives for Father's Day:
My dad is a quiet man.
So quiet, in fact, that the standing joke in the family is to ask, “Where’s Dad?�? and answer, “In the basement!�? whenever we’re all in the midst of some get-together, and Dad is clearly present, yet silent, in the room. We joke that he spent a lot of time at his basement workbench when all six of his kids were growing up. Can you blame the guy? The din in that house had to be unbearable at times, and it was his only sanctuary.
My dad thought, and hopefully still thinks, that his children walk on water. Growing up in the ’60s and ’70s, we watched a lot of those corn-ball variety shows like Carol Burnett, Tony Orlando and Dawn
and The Osmonds
. My dad was very puzzled about all the fuss over The Osmonds.
“You kids are WAY more talented than any of those kids. I don’t understand why they’re such a big hit.�?
While it really wasn’t a goal of any of ours to emulate the Osmonds, we thought it was pretty cool that our dad believed we would get better ratings.
My dad is a serious patriot. He was in the Army during the Korean War and spent his honeymoon on a ship bound for Germany. I’ll tell you one thing — do not mess with this man and his United States flag. Some young punk tried that once and my then-70-year-old dad took out after that punk like nobody’s business. He flies his flag every Flag Day, Fourth of July, Pearl Harbor Day, September 11, Veteran’s Day and for no particular reason other than he believes it’s the right thing to do. Right on, Dad!
He’s also a Native American. For Show and Tell we got to take in really cool stuff like genuine arrowheads and corn-husk medicine man dolls. He occasionally took us to visit relatives that lived on the reservation in Ontario. It was kind of scary because his great aunt had a bull that I swear tried to break out of its pen and stampede us. Dad assured us that no bull was any kind of match for the six of us kids.
Those six kids went on to give him 14 grandchildren. On the rare occasion that the whole famn damily is together, the din really is unbearable at times. Dad doesn’t have his basement workbench to retreat to anymore, so now he takes on the task of cleaning up the kitchen in solitude after the family feast.
My dad and Alex, one of his favorite grandchildren
My dad is like a lot of other dads when it comes to having deep, meaningful conversations about very emotional issues. Like, “How’s the car running?�? and “Did you put new batteries in the smoke detector?�? or “How’s the stock market treating you?�? Of course we realize that this is how our dad expresses his love and concern for us. “Be safe, be careful, be happy and prosperous.�?
My dad is a quiet man, but his love for us has always been loud and clear.
Happy Father’s Day Pops!
Ride a bike, hit a baseball, tie my shoes, work hard, laugh out loud, help a stranger — these are just a few of the things that I learned from my dad.
My dad worked hard during the week to provide for our family. Then he would play hard with my brother and I on the weekend. I don't ever remember needing anything as a child (now, there was a whole lot of "wanting" going on — I'm still holding out for that pony — but that's a different story.)
Growing up, we spent most of our summer vacations in the same place, a heavily wooded campground on Highway 49 nestled in the Sierra Nevadas. It is a glorious place with a creek and lots of rocks to throw into the creek.
We would spend our days Jeeping around the Sierra Nevadas exploring abandoned mines and generally enjoying the California wilderness.
My favorite part of camping was after the dinner dishes were done and the sun had gone down, the four of us would sit quietly around the campfire, expertly built by my dad, and listen to the pops and sizzles of the fire and the rush of the creek nearby.
Now my daughter is lucky enough to have a dad who loves camping and the out of doors.
To honor my dad (who we'll be visiting in a couple of weeks — yea!), we're packing up our sleeping bags and marshmellows and are heading up to do some camping.
This has the makings of a great weekend — it could've been perfect if I was spending it with my dad.
Happy Father's Day
By Robin Dearing
Thursday, June 15, 2006
I've had a couple of my adult friends tell me that when they were kids their parents would force them to stop spending all their time reading books and go outside to play.
I know how their parents feel.
My kid is a reader.
She just learned how — I mean, she started kindergarten knowing the reading basics, but couldn't actually read alone — and now she'd rather read than anything else.
This is a problem that I'm very happy to have.
Last weekend, we signed her up for the Mesa County Public Library's summer reading game.
The goal of the game is for children to read 50 books or spend 5 hours reading. For every 10 books they read, they get a prize.
Monday when I met my daughter and husband for lunch, they had just come from the library. Margaret had earned three prizes for the 30 books she had read so far.
She had also received her very first library card inscribed with her name in that unmistakable almost-6-year-old scrawl. It is a beautiful sight.
She had also checked out a huge stack of new books from which she could complete the book reading program over the next couple of weeks.
After dinner that same day, I asked Margaret if she wanted to ride her bike with me around the block. She looked up from her book with an annoyed glare, carefully pointed to the book program score card and said, "Um, I need to read." Dramatic pause, "So I can finish the program." Then she went back to reading.
Yeah, she just had
to finish the book program in three
Don't get me wrong, I love that she has found a place in her life for reading. Finding joy in books is a gift. But I hope that I don't end up having to punish her by sending her out to play.
By Richie Ann Ashcraft
Wednesday, June 14, 2006
Advertising is a powerful tool. Propaganda can shape the societal norm very easily by using national ad campaigns. If you don’t believe me, just finish this sentence, “Never, Never……..?.
A national ad campaign to promote breastfeeding is causing quite a stir in the news today. I saw it this morning on the TODAY
A set of new commercials are scheduled to run that show pregnant women engaging in risky behavior like riding a mechanical bull and getting bucked off. Another has two pregnant women log rolling with one being flung into the water. It is obviously playing on the ridiculous. Paraphrased campaign says something like you wouldn•t put your baby at risk while pregnant, so why would you put them at risk by not breastfeeding. Followed by a statement "Babies are Born to Breastfeed."
It then lists the benefits of breastfeeding including the fact that it prevents diseases such as diabetes.
Apparently, these commercials have found opposition from formula manufacturers because they believe they are too negative and will hurt their business.
Here is one they especially opposed:
NBC compared the debate to that of the tobacco companies opposition to public service announcements denouncing smoking.
They also said that these types of campaigns would negatively affect women because those who choose to formula feed will be frowned upon by society furthering the guilt they already feel about their choice not to breastfeed.
The other side said the commercials will help women choose to breastfeed making it more acceptable in society. They hoped women would not be criticized for breastfeeding in public and workplaces and other businesses would provide women with places to pump or breastfeed.
A Google search will bring thousands of sites discussing this ad campaign.
The Early Show
has featured the debate. This is one HOT topic at the moment. 20/20
featured the ad debate last weekend and most major news stations have had featured segment. These ads haven’t even run yet.
I assume for formula makers, this is a PR nightmare.
But I do see the relevant comparison to tobacco companies.
Ads like this will hurt their business, but is their business more important than the health of our nation’s children? Will we pay or are we paying now for choices made by mother’s choosing not to breastfeed with the added healthcare costs accrued as these children become adults? Is the generation of formula fed babies (myself being one of them) adding to the rising (out-of-control) healthcare costs?
I wonder if formula companies are frightened of lawsuits from disease ridden people who could blame formula made them diabetic. Seems far fetched, but maybe not.
Trends in childcare change all the time. What was done last decade is WAY wrong in this decade. This debate isn’t likely to be resolved by public service announcements, but does that mean they shouldn’t be run? Thoughts anyone?
Monday, June 12, 2006
My son is at his dad’s for a week and a half. That’s fine and good and they’ll have a great time. They’ll run with scissors, eat real bacon, watch TV in their underwear, stay up way too late, and rent movies where everything gets blown to smithereens.
BUT WHAT ABOUT ME??!!
Do they care about my aching heart? Will Alex call me every day, think about how much he loves me when he wakes up, send me post cards? Ha! About as likely as me ever voting for a tax increase.
Whenever Alex has “left the building? his absence leaves a void. Yes, the house stays clean, I don•t have to buy snack food that I end up eating too much of, nobody sasses me or criticizes my choice of clothing/music/vocabulary, no dirty socks are left on the living room floor or kitchen counter, and I get complete control of the remote. So why am I whining?
Because my baby is gone. At least temporarily.
And he won’t even realize how much he misses me!!
Since he’s been away, it’s strangely quiet in the house. There are no more Doritos, and only enough laundry for half-loads. I haven’t seen a single episode of Whose Line is it Anyway
, and I’ve worn jeans that come all the way up to my waist.
What’s a bereft mother to do?
Clean his bathroom? Check.
Discuss aiming? When he gets back.
Go through his closet and get rid of clothes that don’t fit him? Check.
Have the carpets cleaned? Check.
Once the housekeeping is done, there’s the reality of dealing with the reason for all the busy work. I miss him. Even though he can be a total pain in the butt, he’s my sonny-boy. So much of my life is dedicated to protecting him, taking care of him, and teaching him ways to take care of himself. And that’s what good moms do. But in four years, he’ll have to take care of himself, all by himself. And he’ll be protecting other people if his dream of becoming a Navy SEAL comes true.
BUT WHAT ABOUT ME??!!
What am I supposed to do for the next ten days? Host the next Bunco Barbies party? Have only roasted vegetables and Pinot Grigio for dinner? Go see the movies I
want to see? Hike Escalante Canyon with Dan? Come and go as I please?
On second thought, ten days really isn’t very long.
By Robin Dearing
Monday, June 12, 2006
We've got pictures of our kids — now we want pictures of your
We created a category, Other People's Kids,
so we can show off your kids for a change.
You can find all of the categories for this blog on the left-hand side, below the newly added pictures of us and our kiddos.
So e-mail pictures of your little darlings and devils to Robin Dearing
and we'll post them daily.
By Robin Dearing
Friday, June 9, 2006
Here's my Friday afternoon conundrum:
Does my kid have the right to be annoying?
I mean if she isn't doing anything really wrong, isn't hurting herself or anyone else and is enteraining herself, does she have the right to be annoying to me?
Recently we were downtown eating lunch at the bagel shop. Margaret was enjoying a jug of strawberry milk. As she reached the bottom of the jug, she began using her straw to blow bubbles in the milk.
I made her stop.
It's gross to blow bubbles in your milk, plus it's annoying.
Should I have let her?
She wasn't hurting anyone. She wasn't making a mess. But still I made her stop.
Or how about when she's playing with her best-friend, Kate, and they start making all those annoying little girls noises that are loud and unpleasant.
If they aren't being overly obnoxious, shouldn't I just let her be?
I never know when I should be molding her into a well-behaved, obedient, darling of a child and when to let her be a wild, raving banshee. Is there some sort of balance I'm trying to seek?
I can't believe I left my "How to be the perfect mom" handbook at the hospital the day after she was born.
By Richie Ann Ashcraft
Thursday, June 8, 2006
“I’m the worst mom ever,? I declared as I emptied the diaper bag and my overnight bag to no avail.
I lost a little white bear.
This is the bear that Soren got the day he was born. I cuddled it when I received my epidural and the bear lay next to me on the bed during delivery.
He likes this bear. It•s soft and big enough to get his fists around but small enough to fit into his mouth. He laughs when this bear “kisses? him. No other toys can hold his interest as well and so I•ve determined it to be his favorite toy.
The thing with favorite toys is they are more vulnerable to getting lost or damaged because they have to go everywhere the kid goes.
Soren, my dad, and this bear were my guests on an early Father’s Day trip to Denver to see the Rockies play the Marlins. The bear rode shotgun in the car seat. He crossed the street from the Sheraton Denver West
to Jose O’Shea’s
where we enjoyed a great meal at breakneck speed. He lived through a speedy cab ride downtown and stayed with the group as we navigated Coors Field.
He watched the Rockies get shamefully beat by the Marlins; 13-0. They had 8 hits most of which were foul. Once a guy got on base because he was hit by a pitch and he walked. If the bear could have joined in the booing that the hometown fans gave the team in the ninth inning, he would have.
After playing with the baby, he bedded down in a luxurious queen sized bed topped with crisp white sheets where he blended in perfectly.
A man got left behind and I feel terrible for it. It’s almost as bad as being sent to the burn pile
Or to the land of misfit toys.
So I called the hotel and reported my sadness to the lost and found. The customer service rep said that people call ALL the time trying to reclaim lost toys. Seems it’s a common traveling mistake made by parents and the most common of items the hotel returns. I felt better.
The hotel happily dropped the little bear in the mail. He may have taken a detour, but he should be in the baby's mouth soon.
I have to give a huge cudos to this hotel. They made our stay really nice and the return of the bear put them into the outstanding customer service category for me.
Wednesday, June 7, 2006
This past Sunday was a great day. I got sunburned, bitten by horse flies, dehydrated, and endured hours of intense physical activity that left me battered and bruised. In other words, we went rafting.
We being me, my son and my S.O., Dan, who is the owner of the raft. It was my idea to go, so I’ll take all the credit and the blame. We starting loading up all the stuff at 9:30 a.m. and by 10:30 we were on the road. Hauled it all up to Whitewater, then drove the truck and trailer back down to the Gunnison boat ramp by the DOE which come to find out is welded shut. But more about that idiotic happenstance later. Around noon we were actually on the water.
Soon we were all enjoying ourselves and the solitude of the river. Alex jumped into the inflatable kayak and after a few awkward attempts really got the hang of paddling it and maneuvering through little eddies and whitecaps. Being the nervous Nellie mom that I am, I kept asking if he needed something to drink, if he was too hot, if he was getting tired, did he want some sunscreen. Dan told me to leave the kid alone and assured me if he needed something he would ask for it. In other words, cut the apron strings.
Pretty soon we heard the sound of rushing water up ahead and knew there was fun to be had. By this time Dan was in the kayak and Alex was rowing the raft. I looked back at Dan and told him to get in the raft to get through the rapids. (Note: OK, they were not rapids, but extremely large boulders barely under water, and enough to make me a tad concerned about serious damage to the raft or its occupants.)
Dan had his back to us and I believe was purposely ignoring my request.
So it was Alex and me alone against the forces of nature. I had visions of being ship wrecked at sea for days and eaten alive by whatever lurked beneath the surface of the murky Gunnison River. I did what any reasonable mother would do and started shouting detailed technical instructions, “Look out for the rocks!?
Well you could have knocked me over with a Blue Heron feather with what happened next. My river rat son negotiated that boulder field like he•d been doing it for twenty years. He steered us right through and never hit a rock, kept the Doritos dry and whooped for joy the whole time! I was open-mouthed with amazement until a horse fly hit my tongue and I snapped my jaw shut.
“Wow! Alex, that was awesome. How did you know what to do??
•Mom, I’m not stupid.?
I already knew that, but it had nothing to do with surviving the •rapids.?
•He’s been listening.? said Dan who was now paying attention and had caught up to us in the kayak.
•You ignored me on purpose because you knew he could do it.? I accused.
No response except an •I told you so? smile.
I saw my son in a new light that moment. He was strong. He was capable. He could be counted on. He could row! The apron strings got a little looser, but they•ll never be completely cut.
By Robin Dearing
Tuesday, June 6, 2006
A while back, Margaret began to complain about a mysterious pain in her gut.
Being the kind of mom that I am, I noted her ailment then promptly ignored it.
She didn't seem sick. Oh, and it was bed time. So I was pretty skeptical. She didn't have a fever, cough, diarrhea or any other symptom, so I let it ride.
But she continued to moan about her gut for a couple more days.
She still played and ate and did all the things that she is known to do. Yet still she complained.
I called her doctor. He examined her and said that I had the right amount of concern and skepticism. But just to be sure, he scheduled an x-ray.
As we waited Margaret's turn to get x-rayed, I assured her that x-rays were painless and involved no kind of poking whatsoever.
She didn't believe me.
As we entered the x-ray room, she began to revert to her 1960s hippie-protestor persona. She went limp and refuted anything that was said in a loud, screechy tone.
The very calm and kind x-ray technicians explained that x-rays were painless. One technician said they were simply pictures and made the rookie mistake of asking, "Does it hurt to get your picture taken?'
"Yeeessss!" she bleated out like a wounded lamb.
They began to look worried. I began to get angry.
Firmly, I said, "Mar, you're getting an x-ray. Stand still." And she did and they clicked the x-ray.
She immediately looked relieved that we hadn't been feeding her a load of horse puckey and that she was, indeed, still intact.
She smiled and looked at me. "Why are you wearing that thing?" Margaret asked while pointing to the sky-blue lead apron I had donned so I could stand next to her while she underwent her ordeal.
Before I could answer, she brightly sang out, "It makes your boobs look huge."
The technicians laughed. I blushed. And Margaret beamed. She loves making people laugh ... even if it's at her mom's expense.
By Robin Dearing
Monday, June 5, 2006
First, we’d like to clarify that there is no such thing as a “non-working? mom. But we•ve taken the title of “working mom? to mean a mother who works outside the home.
We•ve each contributed to this entry as it’s such a compelling topic and, obviously, one with which we all can relate.
So here are our thoughts on being working moms:
Workin’ 9 to 5, what a way to make a livin’. Somethin’, somethin’ somethin’, it’s all takin’ and no givin’.
Dolly Parton made a great movie about the life of working women. But that’s Hollywood. This is real life.
I’ve been workin’ for a livin’ since I was 11-years-old. The money I made babysitting, waiting tables and working in the kitchen of a commune outside Woodstock put me through college with a very small loan at the end of it all. I tell you this because I think work is good. Work is your friend. We should all do work of some kind because there aren’t enough cardboard signs for everyone.
The only time since age eleven that I wasn’t employed was during the latter part of my pregnancy and for the first two years of my son’s life. I was blessed to be able to stay home with him for those first two years, and grateful that his dad paid the bills. I wouldn’t trade it for the world. Staying at home raising your kid is hard work. It is often boring, lonely, exhausting, tedious and it’s the most rewarding time you’ll ever put in on planet Earth.
Eventually the time came for me to start bringing home the bacon again. That meant putting my toddler in daycare. The image I am left with is my son grabbing on to the side of the door as we walked in and screaming as if someone was ripping out his toenails. Of course, Miss Carol told me that by the time I made it to the parking lot he had forgotten all about me and was happily playing with the other abandoned children. Alex and I were lucky to have had great daycare. We owe many thanks to Miss Carol, Miss Rachel and grandma and grandpa.
I have a great job. In fact, I have two great jobs. My Monday through Friday and then some is at The Daily Sentinel where I’ve been happily employed for over seven years. My every other weekend more or less job is at Plum Creek Winery where I’ve been happily sipping with customers for a couple years. Both jobs are different, but alike in that they pay me cold, hard, cash to buy things like braces, sporting equipment, vacations, college and lots of other wants. The paychecks also take care of needs like a house, gas for the car, clothing and food.
I am very fortunate to work for a company that is family friendly. I wouldn’t — couldn’t — work here if that were not the case. Even with the flexibility to leave for doctor’s appointments, orthodontist appointments, parent-teacher conferences, sick calls from school and other such occasions, the guilt of being a working mom never leaves and after twelve years it hasn’t gotten any easier to deal with.
It’s a constant, nagging worry that sits on my shoulder all day. The little voice inside my head that asks, “Why am I not at home with my kid? Why am I not making cookies instead of buying them for the class party? How am I going to juggle the work I need to do today, shop for groceries, make a decent dinner, clean up, run off to practice/school activity/insert one of a hundred things here and then get home, put a load of laundry in, nag about homework, insist on a shower and a reasonable bedtime?? And let•s not forget the volunteer time I put in, too.
I’m not bitching or bragging, and I have never asked for a pity party. (However, if you want to throw me one, I’ll bring the beer.) But I gotta tell ya being a working, single mom is damn hard, and I think I’ve done a pretty stellar job of juggling it all. My kid is healthy and as happy as a 14-year-old ever is. We have all our needs and the majority of our wants taken care of. He’ll have money in the bank for college, and I’ll have some left for a hopefully long and happy retirement.
And you know what I’ve discovered? A lot of the stay-at-home moms bring store bought cookies to the class party.
Making parenting decisions is hard but defending those decisions is even harder.
At times I feel as though all womanly eyes are casting a scowl of scrutiny my way. I feel as though my decisions are being analyzed, questioned, then spat in hissing whispers behind my back.
Worse yet, point blank statements make me the center of timeless debates and often times, outdated unsolicited advice.
Examples include: cloth diapers: “why would you want to use them??; cradle cap: •you should give him a bath more often? and breastfeeding: •I think he’s just hungry?.
The worst of which is, •Are you going to work??
This is a loaded question. There is no •right? answer.
If I say •yes?, then I•m selfish. I must not care if “other people raise my children.? I must not really love my son if I could leave him for eight hours a day in the hands of a probable child molesting caregiver. These are paraphrases of actual things that have been said to me.
If I say •no? then I•m a free-loading gold digger who just has children because I’m too lazy to do anything else. Homemaker is not a title that commands respect.
I usually answer yes to this question followed by a blanket statement like: “We need the insurance? or •I like my job.? Sometimes, when I just don•t want to deal with it, I say “I don’t know? and just walk away. Yeah, I•m like that.
The truth is I never considered not working for a lot reasons. I really do like my job. I’ve seen lots of successful women who combine work and family. I’ve always worked and really don’t think that staying home would be enough for me to feel satisfied. I put myself through college so that I could stand on my own two feet independently. I have a student loan. I like the sense of equality it brings to my marriage. I’d like to retire. I’d like to go to Disneyland. I want more kids and I’d like to feed them without tapping the taxpayer. I like having a car and a house.
Often, my blanket comment is rebuked with a high pitched sarcastic, “It must be nice.?
(Note to everyone: Don•t ever say this to me. I think people who use this phrase are idiots.)
Know what? It IS nice to have a car and a house. AND, there’s nothing wrong with both parents earning an honest living for their family. We work hard for what we have and sometimes our choices do bring us NICE things.
My baby is not being “raised by someone else.? He•s never been away from me for longer than 4 hours since his birth. He’s not left with a babysitter at any other time then while I’m working. He’s taken care of by family.
I feel as though my priorities have never been straighter. My son and husband are at the top of the list. Working helps my household pay the bills and I make it a point to spend quality time everyday with them.
I know working is not the “right? decision for everyone, but it•s “right? for us right now.
Back before I had kids, I thought that when the time came to start a family, I would stay home with the kids (I also thought my kid would never take a bottle, pacifier, wear disposable diapers or eat canned baby food • yeah, I didn’t know squat).
But then I had Margaret and I realized that nothing that I had thought I wanted was going to happen in this reality.
I was working full-time when I became pregnant. Bills had to be paid and we had to eat. I had to work.
After Mar was born, I went back to work at a previous job for a while. I quit when Mar was about 9 months old. I stayed home until I came to work at The Daily Sentinel when she was 18 months old.
I was glad to have the time with my baby and I will never regret that time. It was wonderful … for the most part. But the part that wasn’t wonderful was truly awful.
We couldn’t afford for me not to work. Every month I grew more and more depressed as we went further and further into debt. It felt horrible.
I felt stuck and helpless. My husband was working as much as he possibly could so we could pay the mortgage and feed ourselves. I never saw him and when he was home, he was exhausted.
It was no way to live. So we made a change and I came to work for The Daily Sentinel.
It was hard taking my toddler to daycare knowing that she was going to be spending her days without me. Comments like, “it must be hard to leave your baby for someone else to raise? rang out in my mind.
I felt guilty.
But a funny thing happened •& Margaret thrived in daycare. Our daycare lady was wonderful. Mar still calls her Gramma Julia. We are forever indebted to her. She potty trained Mar, kept her on a great schedule that included naps and loved her. It was wonderful.
Margaret got to play with kids her own age in a postive environment.
Then she went to pre-school. We made a good selection and Mar was in another great environment where she was prepared for kindergarten and received all the stimulation that a growing pre-schooler needs.
I couldn’t have done for Margaret what they did for her.
I no longer feel guilty. I made the right choice for my family.