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By Richie Ann Ashcraft
Friday, September 22, 2006
At one of the many baby showers I’ve attended recently, I was asked by the new mom “What things can’t you live without??
My first answer was the Boppy
. Whoever marketed this little miracle pillow was a genius. It seriously is the perfect pillow. It raised my baby up to breast level when he was newborn, saved my tired arms after he grew larger, and was the perfect back support when he was learning to sit up. Every new mother should have one.
Other things all new moms should have are:
1. The baby scrub brush•&cradle cap doesn’t stand a chance with a little olive oil and a good scrubbing.
2. Pajama bags…sticking newborn feet into onesies is unnecessary and impossible. All newborn clothes should be shaped like sleeping bags in my opinion.
3. The all over body wash…one bottle gets it all done. And, I’d suggest spending the extra dollar on a good bottle of lotion. I like Aveeno
. Newborn skin can be really sensitive and dry.
4. My diaper service is indispensable. They are dependable, friendly and economical. Plus, my money goes where my mouth is when speaking of the environment and supporting local small business. I’ve eliminated the need for extra cream because there is never any diaper rash. I pay $15 bucks a week. Check them out at ABC Diaper Service
5. Baby Cubes
. These little plastic trays have made preserving my own baby food a snap. Another really great must-have.
6. I love my Baby Einstein exersaucer
. Not only is it a learning toy, but a really convenient place to put the baby if I have to pull the trash from the curb or move a car from the driveway.
7. The swing.
8. The child first-aid kit including the thermometer, (I keep buying thermometers and have noticed that more expensive isn’t necessary any better. I like the underarm one.) nail clippers, and the nasal aspirator.
9. Infant Tylenol.
10. My Medela breast pump
. Any new mom serious about committing to breastfeeding needs to spend the money on a really great pump. Mine is a champ and without it I think I would have quit.
There are literally thousands of baby products out there. Some I really thought I needed prior to delivery and now I find they weren’t necessary. Like changing tables and baby shoes.
I’d love to hear about other products out there. Drop us a comment about your favorite baby products.
Thursday, September 21, 2006
Warning: this entry contains anatomically correct language.
“I get it Mom, I get it! Geez, do you have to go on and on about everything? Just say what you mean and just say it once. You don’t have to explain for half an hour. I’m not stupid.?
Venus and Mars. Male and Female. Mother and son.
We were driving back from tennis practice and talking about the •morning after pill?. I don•t remember what brought the topic up - I think it was some billboard about child sex abuse, which then led to the topic of unplanned pregnancy and abortion, which led to the morning after pill.
Alex, somewhat to my surprise, knew what the pill was for because he looked it up in English class last year at a teacher’s request. Not that I have any issue with him knowing about it, I was just surprised it became part of an 8th grade language arts class discussion. This led to my “lecture? about how he didn•t need to worry about the morning after pill or any of the thousand different sexually transmitted diseases out there because he was smart enough not to engage in behaviors that would give him (or his mother) cause to worry.
I then also took the time to “lecture? him about how even though that pill was available it was still interfering with the creation of life which is a God-given gift. And as Catholics we believe (along with others) that only God has the right to determine when and if a child is created. And so on, and so on and apparently so on, until finally Alex yelped!
•Mom, you don’t have to beat the point to death! I know, I’m just saying that the sperm is prevented from reaching the egg. It’s like that stupid movie we had to watch in 5th grade. Ohmigod, it went on forever. All they had to say was the penis goes into the vagina and sperm comes out to fertilize the egg. It should have taken 5 minutes!? (Okey, dokey. Good to know. It was actually kind of a dorky movie, with the girl in the white dress floating through the field in some poor adolescent boy•s nocturnal dream.)
“Just bottom-line it! You and dad do the same thing. You make the point and then keep making it. Just say it once! You guys tell me the same thing over and over until I fall asleep with my eyes open.?
Hmmmm, say it once? You must be joking. I•m a female, and a mother. We’re supposed to discuss things ad nauseam. That’s what we do. Especially concerning things that have to do with our child’s well-being, whether it’s academic, physical, spiritual or sexual.
But OK. I can be brief. I can make the point once and then stop.
I’ll just have to do that 50 times in a row.
By Richie Ann Ashcraft
Wednesday, September 20, 2006
Sadly, we’re nearing the end of the first chapter. Last week, I wrote of my baby and this week I have to write of my nearly little boy.
Soren made a huge leap in his development. He sprouted his first bony white shard of glass along his gum line. It was the first sign of big leaps ahead.
The next day, he advanced from a reclining triangle pose to a complete sitting position. After learning this new skill, he delighted his parents prior to bed by showing them repeatedly how easy it was to lie down, roll around, and then sit up. We clapped enthusiastically as if we had just witnessed a feat of shear magnificence and strength by the Strong Man at the circus. Soren beamed with delight fluttering his arms in the air like a baby bird ready to take flight.
In the morning, he learned to reach high with his arms, find a good finger hold, and push with his baby quads into a standing position. He discovered the world of the LeapStart Learning Table
giving the toy the good pounding it deserved for having been hidden from his line of sight for so long.
His crawling skills advanced from “I think I can? to •Wow, Mom we have a kitchen!? He discovered each room of the house from a Tom Thumb level. He also found every scrap of fallen food, trodden mud, or spare string. At any given moment, some unbaby friendly item was either heading or already in his mouth. He practiced climbing onto couch cushions, stacks of books, and the hallway table.
He watched Kenny slink under the bed lifting the bed skirt to see where he had gone. This led to his understanding of object permanence. A door is closed, but it doesn•t mean that Daddy isn’t behind it. He’ll wait patiently on the other side while babbling “da da ma ba razz spit.?
And so, the chasing of the toddler has begun. Mostly, I just watch for road hazards as he explores our home. I locked away the Drain•O, took some plants to the office, and bought a baby gate.
When not sharing a room, I keep a vigilant ear. Every so often, a residual thud echoes as his precious head repeatedly hits the floor. Yesterday, he tried to muscle his way onto his cousin’s lap for a bite of her cookie. To her delight, she yanked her leg out from underneath him leaving him with his first fat lip.
I try hard not to coddle him with every bump but watching him tumble is really hard. I could live without the fat lips, but I remind myself that he is a boy after all. The next milestone will be a black eye. Then we’ll be on to the broken arm….I cringe in horror of the thought.
Watching him leap from skill to skill is often hard but I couldn’t be prouder of his new independence. I’m seriously considering a helmet
By Robin Dearing
Tuesday, September 19, 2006
Last week I wrote about having sick kids (by the way, one is much better but one still has that horrible elementary-school crud oozing out all over the place).
What goes perfectly with sick kids? Sick parents.
Bill and I seem to have gotten something, probably from one or both of the kids.
Bill's been coughing so he's probably got the dreaded elementary-school crud. I'm feverish and ready to close my eyes and take a nap right now as I type this.
I hate being sick. I've neither stoic nor adult about the matter. I'm indignant and crabby. I have no patience for not feeling well.
It annoys me with its constant nagging headache and lethargy. Always reminding me that I don't feel well. The only thing that makes me feel better about the whole ordeal is sleep. And, of course, sleep is something of which I never get enough.
I'm dreaming of leaving the office this evening and crawling into my glorious flannel sheets (yes, people, fall has officially arrived) and sleeping the evening away.
But that will remain a fantasy. My kid has to be picked up, I have to eat some sort of dinner before I dash off to teach my evening class. But then, I can don my 'jams and rest my aching bones, but it won't be without the guilt of neglected mom duties.
There needs to be some kind of "sick mom" service that comes and does all my mom chores when I'm sick. Margaret needs supervision when she pracitics her piano and there's the laundry (Bill will do the laundry but it's such a nuanced activity best left to the truly anal-retentive like myself) and the general tidying and straightening of the house. I think I can, however, continue with my role as household crab.
But for now, I'll stay slumped at my desk, feeling sorry for my sick self.
Monday, September 18, 2006
You know, sometimes our kids take on surprisingly different personalities when they’re not around their oppressive parents. For instance, when your kid spends the night with a friend and the friend’s mom (or dad) reports on what a thoughtful, respectful, helpful child you have. The same kid who can’t put his dirty clothes in the hamper that sits two feet away from the pile on his bedroom floor is the kid who apparently clears the table, loads the dishwasher and does the dishes at someone else’s house.
The good news is that you have raised a kid who at least knows the importance of those things and will do them eventually, just not at home.
Kids are definitely full of surprises and take on different personalities when you least expect it. Just check out this video link below from the downtown Farmer’s Market last Thursday. My son was hired by the RedBird chicken company to don a chicken suit and hand out chicken recipes at a contest The Daily Sentinel sponsored. But the Chico de Gallo
did a spontaneous little funky chicken boogie at the end of the video. Where did that
By Robin Dearing
Friday, September 15, 2006
The phone rang one day last week. Margaret answered it
"Helloooh!" she cheerfully cried into the reciever in that endearing 6-year-old voice of hers.
"Hi gramma!" the conversation began. After hearing a lot of "yeeaaahs" and "nooohs" and one "I can ride really fast!" Margaret calls out to me, "Mom, your mom is on the phone."
Yeah, it's strange but whenever Mar references her maternal grandmother to me she always calls her "your mom." It's never "Gramma's on the phone" or " I wanna talk to Gramma." Nope, it's always, "Your mom is on the phone" and "I wanna talk to your mom" — like she's gonna tell on me or something.
I take the receiver and greet my mom.
"I'm calling to chew you out," my mom states. "I have to read about my granddaughter learning how to ride a bike on the Internet?"
She was referring to this post
from last week.
I don't think I called her when Margaret got her teeth pulled either.
My parents and I are pretty close. We talk often on the phone and visit each other as often as we can. But I still can't help but wish we lived near them.
I had both of my grandmothers within bike riding distance while growing up. We would go shopping and to the movies and we'd play games together. It was something that I always cherished.
Margaret knows her grandparents well and has spent a lot of time with them, especially my parents. She loves when they visit and loves visited them even more — which makes me happy. Grandparents are so important for children — from them they get a sense of history and permanence that is invaluable.
And the love of a grandparent for their grandchild is a love unlike any other.
My mom used to tell me — only partially tongue in cheek, I'm sure — that the reason she had kids was so that she could someday have grandchildren.
Well, my brother and I made my folks sweat on that one, as neither of us had children until we were in our 30s. Now they have four grandkids to spoil.
By Richie Ann Ashcraft
Thursday, September 14, 2006
It took seven months but I finally reached my pre-pregnancy weight. Sounds good right?
It is except for two things:
First, I have convex curves that used to be and should be concave. I guess that is Soren’s little present to me…the belly pooch. I had a flat stomach prior to pregnancy and now my silhouette looks less like Betty Boop and more like The Born Loser.
Secondly, this is the weight I was when saying I wanted to lose ten pounds before becoming pregnant. Meaning I still have ten more pounds to lose. I am not at GOAL weight.
Losing weight is hard for most people and I’m no exception. It has been harder for me this time as I feel a delicate balance between feeding myself and breastfeeding Soren. Too few calories may rob him of essential nutrients while too many will rob his mama of self-esteem.
And how long can I really use the “I just had a baby? excuse while downing a double cheeseburger, cheese fries, and a chocolate shake from Clark•s Big Burger? I mean really, it’s so lame to use your kid as an excuse after a certain point.
Standing in line at the grocery store last April my eyes cruised the tabloids for something of interest to preoccupy my wait. They showed post-pregnant actresses like Gwyneth Paltrow looking stick thin three days out of the hospital. How is that even possible I wondered? I had my baby nearly three months prior and I didn’t look nearly as well.
Okay, so comparing myself to Gwyneth Paltrow is totally stupid but still…admit it ladies… you’ve done the same.
I know the only way to lose is to eat less and exercise more. But when? Finding time to exercise, as a new mom is completely impossible. Every minute of my day is booked from the second I wake up to third or fourth time I go to bed.
It just boils down to time and lack thereof. There is no time for at home exercise videos, trips to the gym or Baby and Me yoga. I wish there were. For now, I’ll just have to be satisfied with smaller portion size (something I’ve always had trouble with) and walks to the park to swing the baby. It’s working albeit slowly.
By Richie Ann Ashcraft
Wednesday, September 13, 2006
This week has been uneventful in the Ashcraft household. We’re just plodding along; baby shuttle, work, baby shuttle, dinner, bed. I’m finding that on weeks like these mundane things count as “events? and here•s my latest.
Soren has been staying with his Grandma Ashcraft this week. She loves her smallest grandson. They play and swing. Grandma spoils him rotten as she should. He can do no wrong as far as she is concerned. And when he looks at Grandma, it is obvious he loves her too.
The other day, she tells me they pretended he had just come home from school. Boys who come home from school get milk (breast) and cookies. (This is after the chocolate cake he had a lunch.) Aaahh…that’s cute. I don’t know how many Animal Crackers that baby had but he was riding his first sugar high that evening.
He was everywhere, rolling and army man crawling from one corner of the room to the next. If I so much as stuck out my tongue he would fall into a fit of hysterics laughing his buns off. His dad and I enjoyed it immensely as getting him to laugh is a chore sometimes.
Yesterday, he and grandma played all day and took a really long nap together. I’m so happy that she enjoys him so much. I love that he spends the day with family when we are away.
I left a bottle and prunes for his snack.
As I was cooking dinner, I stopped to change the baby. I heard a particularly loud spatter hiss from the oven. I left my boy bare butt and rushed into the kitchen.
When Daddy opened the front door bearing gifts of wine, he was shocked at the scene before him. I was on the floor holding a naked baby who was covered in…..well, we are talking prunes here. The living room carpet was doomed the day we brought this kid home from the hospital. Without being completely vulgar I can’t describe the mess. It was really bad.
As I realized this is not my most shining motherhood moment, I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.
Soren went directly to Daddy who plopped him the tub with a good natured laugh. I cleaned.
Twenty minutes later, our clean boy made a choking noise. Dad scooped him up by the belly and he threw up on the same piece of carpet he had just ruined with poop. I cleaned again. (Sick kids are a joy I see Robin!) That carpet has to go. And thank God we had wine!
By Robin Dearing
Tuesday, September 12, 2006
The phone rang last night. I sat on the sofa eating the remainder of the Moose Tracks ice cream right out of the container.
The phone continued to ring.
I was perplexed. The teenager was in the house and yet he was not diving for the phone.
Finally I hauled myself off the couch and answered the phone myself. It was for Sean.
I plopped back down on the sofa and called out, "Sean, phone."
I went to his room and found him asleep on his bed ... at 8:30 p.m.
He woke long enough to have a 10-minute phone conversation and then his room fell quiet again.
I asked Bill if Sean was OK. I mean what kind of 15-year-old would rather sleep then talk to his beloved girlfriend on the phone?
A sick one.
I've never seen him like that before. I began peppering him with questions: Do you have a cough? Fever? Are you congested? Sick to your stomach?
Mostly he said he was tired. So we let him sleep and eventually Bill and I went to bed.
Around 2, I woke up to find my 6-year-old coughing in my face.
"This isn't going to be good," I said as I tucked her into my bed and I trudged off to sleep the rest of the night in her bed (through the process of trial and error, we've discovered that the three of us cannot share a bed. And I actually kind of like sleeping in her room; she's got a fan that keeps her room nicely chilled. The only problem is that I have to excavate a mound of stuffed animals from the bed before there's enough room for a full-grown adult.)
This morning, Sean got up and prepared himself for school. Mar continued to sleep in our bed.
While I was in the shower, Bill came in to tell me that Sean had decided he was too sick to go to school.
He must be half dead, as that kid would go to school if he'd lost his nose to leprosy.
So now we had a teenager that could stay home by himself, but what to do about the coughing first-grader.
She's got no fever nor runny nose, just a cough. Do we keep her home? Would one day of rest cure the cough?
I'm never really sure what to do in these situations. In cases like these, I wish we were more like the Japanese in that they are often seen wearing protective masks over their noses and mouths while sick.
If I could just keep her from coughing all over the other kids, I would feel better about sending her to school.
As the morning progressed, her cough abated and her mood seemed fine, so off to school she goes.
Good, now I only have one sick kid to worry about.
Monday, September 11, 2006
I’m excited and happy today because my sister is coming to visit. Last time I saw her, she was hugely pregnant with her second baby. Today she is flying in from Boston out of Logan airport. Her carry-on luggage consists of Max, age 3, and her new 5 month-old baby, Sam. Their plane took off about 20 minutes ago.
In a few minutes I have to rouse Alex from bed to get ready to catch the bus for another day of 5th grade. I’ve already showered, and I’m pouring my coffee when the phone rings.
•Did you see the news?? my mom asks. •Turn on the TV.?
I click it on and struggle to focus. When I do, the world as I know it comes to a screeching halt.
My family is from •back east?. I went to college in Albany - just a couple hours drive from the Big Apple. Another sister lived in Yonkers and worked in Manhattan, as did many of her friends and husband•s relatives. A couple of my friends were working in Manhattan too.
“What the hell? It’s the Twin Towers!?
•They don’t know what happened yet.?
•Geez, it looks really bad! What time are you and dad leaving to pick up Deanne from Denver??
•In about half an hour. Their plane doesn’t get in until this afternoon.?
•OK. Have a safe trip.?
We used to go to New York at least once a year. Never went to the Statue of Liberty, though. Too touristy. We hung out at Rockefeller Center, went to Little Italy for real cannolis, cruised Chinatown, stood in line for cheap tickets to Broadway plays, avoided Times Square and taking the subway.
I dial my parent•s phone number.
“Hey! They think somebody flew a plane into the building! Oh my God! Did you see that? One just went in to the other tower!?
•Oh my God! Oh my God!?
•I’m gonna call the newsroom to see if they know anything.?
My heart is beating so fast. I can•t breathe. My hands are shaking so badly I have trouble dialing the number.
“Hey Kathy. It’s Lynn. Do you guys know what’s going on? My sister is flying in from Boston this morning with her babies.?
This can•t be happening, I think. This doesn’t happen to us. Not stuff like this.
“OK,? she says slowly, deliberately. •Do you know what airlines she was on??
My stomach lurches. Why would that be important? Why is she asking me that? Think, damn it, think.
•I think it was United.?
I will always admire and be grateful for the way Kathy sensed my mounting
hysteria and struggled with answering my question. I will never forget what she said next.
•They think some planes were hijacked by terrorists. They’re not sure which airlines, but one of them left out of Boston at about 9:15.?
About the time Deanne•s plane left.
I hang up and stand in the middle of my bedroom. I am numb. Almost paralyzed. “This can’t be happening,? I repeat over and over.
My sister. Her babies.
In the few minutes it takes to get Alex to the bus, the news is coming fast and furious. We had a vague idea of what happened. Two planes, two towers. Another plane crashed into a field somewhere.
•Mom, did you try and call Deanne??
•I tried her cell phone. There’s no service. What did they say at the Sentinel??
How do you find the words to say it? If you say it will it make it real? How do you wrap your mind around believing you just saw your sister and your two nephews blown into tiny pieces across the Manhattan skyline?
•I’m coming over.?
Somebody please! What the hell is happening?
My mom calls and says she•s going to a neighbor’s. I meet her there. She and dad are dressed and ready to leave for Denver to meet the plane.
“Oh my God! The tower just collapsed! Oh my God! What is happening? Where are my babies?
Those words came out of my mother’s mouth. They were ripped out of the mouths and hearts of more than 3,000 mothers that day.
Where are my babies?
Many, too many, left behind babies they never saw, didn’t even know they were going to have.
By the grace of God, my sister and her babies were not on that plane. They had seats on the next one out, scheduled to leave twenty minutes later. She finally got a call out to say they were safe. The kids were okay. Max was eating pizza. Twenty minutes.
A few days later the e-mails started coming. The first college classmate missing. The second, a third, then a fourth. The messages kept coming. Then they got worse. Remains identified. Bodies recovered. Funerals pending.
The chaplain at my college and the chaplain then for the F.D.N.Y., Father Mychal Judge, the first to die when he was struck by debris. The best man at my sister’s wedding, Lt. Joseph Leavey, from Ladder 15, F.D.N.Y., the first unit on the scene.
The World Trade Center. The Pentagon. American Flight 11. American Flight 77. United Flight 175. United Flight 93.
“Mom, is the outside light on??
•No, honey, why??
"I just think you should turn the light on.•?
It will help him. To have the light on. Those bastards robbed him, robbed us all, of so much. Of feeling safe. Ever. Again.
I will never forgive. Some things are beyond the capacity of human forgiveness.
And I will never, ever forget.