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Wednesday, November 22, 2006
The only thing as powerful as sex is money.
OK, an icy cold vodka martini is up there too. In fact, shake or stir all three together and empires could topple. Probably have.
As responsible, involved parents, we’re hopefully having on-going discussions with our kids, especially teens, about how, when and if to get involved with sex and alcohol. But how many of us are having those same responsibility-themed discussions with our kids about money?
Personally, I like money. I like earning it, spending it, investing it and just plain having it. I understand it and feel comfortable with it. Above all, I’ve always been responsible with it. (Sometimes more so than with other members of the power trilogy.) I’m not sure where this responsibility and understanding comes from. It’s certainly not a family trait.
For her 65th birthday, my father got my mother a checking account. “It’s about time she learned how to use one,” he muttered. Mom just had no use for it what so ever, and if she could have returned it, she would have. She continues to pull out the credit cards when she buys something.
One sister has no concept of money. Fifty cents or fifty thousand, it’s all the same to her. One sister married into gobs of it, so she’s off the hook. My brother has the first dime he ever made and will most likely never part with it. Another sister constantly whines they have none, even as they board the cruise ship for the Bahamas.
So how do you start teaching your kids about the power and responsibility of making and handling money? I talk to Alex about things like interest rates, compound yields, the stock and bond market, and the bulls and the bears along with birds and the bees. He likes money too. Mostly to have it to spend on paint ball “bullets”, snowboard stuff and candy and gum he’s not allowed to have. And he likes the idea of earning it, but is not too crazy about the whole job thing that goes along with that.
I admit I’ve been pretty sporadic about doling out allowance. Right now he gets $40 a month that is supposed to cover all the “extras”. Some of that also should go into his savings account, but doesn’t make it unless I take it there. Did you know that if you save $1,000 a year from age 16, and put no other money aside, you will have over a million buckaroos when you reach age 65? Yeah, I know what the future value of that is, but tell a teenager he’ll have a million bucks and you get his attention.
So are our concepts and feelings about money part of our DNA? Or are they learned? Do you talk to your kids about money? Do they get an allowance? How much and what do they spend it on? Do you ever veto their purchases? I’m interested to know how other families handle the power of the green.
By Richie Ann Ashcraft
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
I'm still recuperating over a particularly stressful Monday. You know it's bad when that frazzled feeling lingers into Tuesday morning.
It actually started Sunday when we noticed that the crusty patches of skin on the baby's legs were starting to spread. "Maybe he has some flesh eating disease," my hubby joked. Um....see you should never use the words "flesh eating disease" and a mother's child's name in the same sentence. Especially not to a mother like me who worries that kid may eat glass or fall down imaginary stairs or any other number of outrageous scenarios that play in my head on a daily basis. Yeah, the apron strings are tight, I know and I should work on that.
So Monday started with an urgent phone call to the doctor. "You must see my son right away as he has a flesh eating disease!" I can be quite demanding and they fit me right in.
In the meantime, I had a whole day's work plus some to make up for the upcoming holiday in front of me. I wrote at a furious pace pounding out two articles for the Charm page and completing numerous other tasks. I worked well into the lunch hour leaving myself 15 minutes to drive home, load up the baby, and make it to the doctor's office.
Where we waited and waited and waited. Then we went into the examination room and waited some more.
Turns out his flesh eating disease is just eczema. Phew—we dodged that (only happens in third world) bullet!
I reversed steps, inhaled some cold Taco Bell, and sped back to work. Where I pounded out some more work before the next doctor's appointment.
Turns out I really do have a flesh eating disease that needs to be dealt with, but that's a whole other story.
Next we loaded up the kid again and hit the grocery store. I threw whatever into the cart and I still don't really think we gathered anything to eat.
Went home, made dinner and finally kicked off my heels at 8 p.m. By nine the whole family was snoozing.
I guess my point is that the hardest part of being a working mom is just having every single minute of every single day booked solid. There's just no down time either mentally or physically. It's HARD to be the mom!
By Robin Dearing
Monday, November 20, 2006
As I was backing the car out of the driveway to run some errands Saturday, I saw this face:
So inspired by it's mopey nature that I stopped the car and pulled out my camera.
And this wasn't the first time that Pouty McPouterson's pernicious pout sent me running for my Nikon. Here's a snapshot from March of this year:
What's remarkable about this shot is that I didn't have my camera with me when she began her stone-faced protest. Nope, I had to go inside the house, root around in my bag and then return ... all the while Ms. Sourpuss sat like she was carved out of stone waiting for me.
My husband asked me why I take the time to snap photos of our little darling in this rather unflattering light. Honestly, I like the idea of having a record of as many aspects of my only daughter as possible. I don't want the same smiling-faced picture over and over again.
I like to capture the variety of her being. She's so dynamic. I'd hate to look back on her childhood as one, big, toothy grin.
By Richie Ann Ashcraft
Friday, November 17, 2006
Thanksgiving is next week (in case you forgot) and I’m starting to get excited about the holidays.
For years I’ve been daydreaming of holidays complete with children to plop on Santa’s lap. Christmas is just not the same when a bunch of adults who are tired of ham and each other sit down to the chore of an obligatory family dinner.
But children change everything. Suddenly there’s a comedian at the end of the table high on sugar cookies and the very thought of some new underwear or a stuffed animal under the TREE! They like the lights, the music, and the promise that Christmas is going to be a special day.
Every childless year I’ve climbed the attic stairs and hauled down the tree. (Except last year as I was pregnant and the hubby had to climb.) I play jazzy Christmas carols while decorating, arrange my nutcracker army, and then sit back and eat fudge while I admire my creation.
And nobody really notices but me. Still, I always do it.
But this year Soren is going to notice. He’s going to touch the pretty lights, poke at the packages, and eat cookies. I’m going to say “No, don’t touch the tree” a million times.
I’m gonna sneak presents in the house and this year….well, this year there will be no opening presents early like previous years. That’s right Marty! This year we’re going to play by the rules. I’m going to get up in the wee morning hours and help Santa.
This year is my dress rehearsal for big shows yet to come. I can’t wait and I’d love to hear suggestions of how to make my baby’s first Christmas a special one. I’m starting traditions here…help me out.
By Robin Dearing
Thursday, November 16, 2006
As Margaret walked toward me, I saw three inches of belly between the hem of her pajama shirt and the waist of her pj bottoms, accompanied by four inches of ankle and wrist. She's gone through a growth spurt recently and the shirts and pants that still fit her circumference, no long cover her length.
It's OK for her pajamas, but I wouldn't send her out in public with so much skin exposed. But that's exactly what I see whenever there are teenaged girls around.
But it's not ankles and wrists flapping in the breeze — it's 15-year-old bellies and newly sprouted cleavage that are on display. And I'm horrified by it.
As the stepmom to a handsome 16-year-old boy, I cringe whenever I see too many teenage body parts exposed to the elements. How is my stepson supposed to concentrate on learning or driving or walking, for that matter, when there's acres of nubile girl flesh dancing before his eyes?
I just imagine all that smooth, young skin taunting my hormonally charged teenager into ... gah, it's just too horrible to think about.
I wonder what the parents of these teenaged girls think when their precious little girls walk out the door with the crack of their rumps winking out the top of their too-low jeans and wearing decollete shirts so scant that the size, shape and model of their undergarments are available for everyone to see?
Of course, I would be remiss if I didn't mention the crazy things teen boys wear. What is the deal with boys wearing their pants so low that six inches of boxer puff out the top? This "style" started more than a decade ago, can't it go off to the land of neru jackets and die?
I realize that teens look to pop culture icons like Britney Spears and the Simpson sisters for the latest in fashion trends, but isn't is our jobs as parents to make sure our kids cover themselves up? Isn't it our responsibility to teach our children to respect themselves enough to dress with a modicum of decorum?
Wednesday, November 15, 2006
My sister sent me this yesterday.The author is unkown, but it could be any one of a million of us. I think it fits nicely with Richie's questions about what kind of mom she wants to be. I know Alex thinks I'm a mean mom at times (probably most of the time) and that is just fine with me. I hope he grows up to be a Mean Dad with a Mean Mom for a wife and mother of my grandchildren!
Someday when my children are old enough to understand the logic that motivates a parent, I will tell them, as my Mean Mom told me:
I loved you enough to ask where you were going, with whom, and what time you would be home.
I loved you enough to be silent and let you discover that your new best friend was a creep.
I loved you enough to make you go pay for the bubble gum you had taken and tell the clerk, "I stole this yesterday and want to pay for it."
I loved you enough to stand over you for two hours while you cleaned your room, a job that should have taken 15 minutes.
I loved you enough to let you see anger, disappointment, and tears in my eyes. Children must learn that their parents aren't perfect.
I loved you enough to let you assume the responsibility for your actions even when the penalties were so harsh they almost broke my heart.
But most of all, I loved you enough to say NO when I knew you would hate me for it.
Those were the most difficult battles of all. I'm glad I won them, because in the end you won too.
And someday when your children are old enough to understand the logic that motivates parents, they will say...
Was your Mom mean? I know mine was.
We had the meanest mother in the whole world!
While other kids ate candy for breakfast, we had to have cereal, eggs, and toast.
When others had a Pepsi and a Twinkie for lunch, we had to eat sandwiches.
And you can guess our mother fixed us a dinner that was different from what other kids had, too.
Mother insisted on knowing where we were at all times. You'd think we were convicts in a prison.
She had to know who our friends were, and what we were doing with them. She insisted that if we said we would be gone for an hour, we would be gone for an hour or less.
We were ashamed to admit it, but she had the nerve to break the Child Labor Laws by making us work.
We had to wash the dishes, make the beds, learn to cook, vacuum the floor, do laundry, empty the trash and all sorts of cruel jobs.
I think she would lie awake at night thinking of more things for us to do.
She always insisted on us telling the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
By the time we were teenagers, she could read our minds and had eyes in the back of her head!!
Then, life got really tough!
Mother wouldn't let our friends just honk the horn when they drove up. They had to come up to the door so she could meet them and ask questions.
While everyone else could date when they were 12 or 13, we had to wait until we were 16 or 17.
Because of our mother, we missed out on lots of things other kids experienced.
None of us have ever been caught shoplifting, vandalizing other's property or ever been arrested for any crime.
It was all her fault.
Now that we have left home, we are all educated, honest, hard working adults.
We are doing our best to be Mean Parents just like Mom was.
I think that is what's wrong with the world today.
It just doesn't have enough mean moms!
By Richie Ann Ashcraft
Tuesday, November 14, 2006
I've asked myself quite often, "What kind of mom do I want to be?"
Having just started I feel as though I have a clean slate from which to begin the relationship with my son.
After a particularly hard knock to the head I picked Soren up and kissed his boo-boo. Not just that, I riddled his little face with smacks and filled his ears with high pitched Muppetesqe gibberish that only a mother and child can understand.
"You're gonna turn him into a mama's boy," I heard from a spectator loitering in the corner of the room.
"No I'm NOT," I replied defensively, "That's what moms are supposed to do!"
I think. I mean honestly I don't want to raise a wussy whiner. It's just not becoming of a child to be frightened of everything to the point of paralyses. I've seen it and it's not pretty.
I'm 100% about some parenting choices. I tend to uphold the traditional in many ways, like family dinner being mandatory, college education being of utmost priority, and anything but politeness and manners unacceptable.
But what else? Do I want to be the "best friend" mom or the "I hold high expectations" mom? The mom who works too much, the one who dotes too much, the one who goes out all the time, the who never sits down, the one who lets herself go, the one who NEVER lets herself go......the question could go on and on.
I often put my mind through the mental gymnastics of how I'll handle this situation or that.
And how much of it do I really have control over? I mean, I am who I am and he is who he is and that dynamic is going to play out all by itself.
As much as I'd like to imagine myself to be like Brie I'll admit I'm more of a Lynette. (Man, am I embarrassingly hooked to that show! You can find out which one you are here.
But still, I can try right?
By Robin Dearing
Monday, November 13, 2006
We all sit down at the restaurant table and decide what we want to order. Immediately afterward Margaret asks, "Can I read my book now?"
Sure you can read your book, little kid — what a crazy thing for a 6-year-old to ask, especially when she could be coloring the kid's menu or eating bread and butter while drinking her elusive soda (that she never gets anywhere but the occasional restaurant), but I'm thrilled about it.
We've got a reader on our hands. You want my secret to raising a reader?
OK, um, yeah, I don't have one. Because that's the kind of mom I am — the kind with a few good ideas and no plan.
It's not as if we never read to her or she doesn't see us reading, it's just that we never pushed her to read. She just likes to read and she good at it. She's currently reading at a 3rd grade level (sometimes I just can't help myself but brag). Right now, she's all about the Junie B. Jones chapter books.
We've gotten into the routine of getting Margaret to bed early so we can spend 20 minutes with her reading aloud to me. While she reads well, she will try to guess at unknown words lazily instead of sounding them out. Our evening reading sessions seems to be helping her to be more diligent and less hasty.
And she's not just happy being a reader alone. Nope. She's been working with our very-soon-to-be 5-year-old neighbor on reading.
The other evening, the adults were in one room looking at pictures. When we moved back to the living room, we found this:
Margaret reading to Kate.
They could have been doing anything they wanted and this is what they picked.
Sometimes I feel like I must be doing at least one thing right.
Friday, November 10, 2006
“Hey mom, can I buy myself a razor?”
Geesh, the kid is actually kind of shaving every couple weeks, and he has a Gillette Mach 3.
“You don’t need a whole new razor, I’ll just buy you some new blades.”
“No, I mean a RAZR cell phone.”
This whole cell phone thing has truly revolutionized the way that this generation communicates. Back in another life, I did technology briefings to executives from Fortune 50 companies. One day we had the CEO of Motorola in. He showed us this device about the size of a women’s shoe. It was black and clunky, kind of like a Doc Maarten. He explained that it was a new technology his company was working on. It was a telephone that you could use from your car! Very space age!
“We think it might really catch on,” he said.
Doubtful, I thought. I bought Microsoft stock instead.
So Alex has a friend who lives up the street. She calls him yesterday to ask what kind of battery he has in his cell phone. Long story short, her battery died, she couldn’t find her charger and she wanted to use Alex’s phone to recharge her battery.
“Dude, I’ve been text-ing all day, and I really need my phone tomorrow”, she told him. For what, I wondered? So you can send messages to your friends instead focusing on math lessons?
So she drops off her battery and tells Alex she’ll call him on his cell phone in an hour to come pick it up. Good plan, right?
Alex and I go out and she calls him to say she’s on her way over to get her phone. Alex says OK and hangs up.
So I gotta ask, “Is that her battery in your phone?”
“No, her battery is on my desk.”
“Do you think you might tell her it’s not charged?”
So he calls her from his cell phone to give her the news. She’s kind of incredulous that her battery is not charged yet. Slowly, it’s kind of dawning on them that they didn’t really think this plan through. It was very amusing to watch the little light bulbs go off as they realize it’s kind of hard to call someone on their cell phone if it’s supposed to be at home charging your battery.
It was a classic teenage moment. I chuckled all night.
And it makes me wonder if they realize that technology doesn’t just happen. That somebody needs to write programs for all the stuff they take for granted. That the geeks that are paying attention in math class will truly define their future.
Too bad I sold the Microsoft stock.
By Richie Ann Ashcraft
Thursday, November 9, 2006
After nine months, I'm finally getting some sleep....it's heavenly.
I've been hesitant to blog about my shuteye in case it was just some fluke but it's been over a week and Soren has slept in his own bed every night. I wouldn't say he sleeps through the entire night but it's pretty darn close.
I have to give all the credit to his dad who has been home with him during the day. He makes sure that the baby stays on a fairly routine schedule with naps at 9:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. plus breakfast, lunch, snack. He ALWAYS puts him in his crib for naps no matter how long the crying ensued.
Something just clicked finally. The repetitive routine of dinner, bath, bed finally got through to my little boy. He fusses for just a few minutes and then he's visiting the sandman.
It's been better for all of us including the baby. He seems to be getting a lot more sleep on his own as he can flip and flop and groan all he wants in his little cage.
Dad and I have time to pick up toys, talk about politics and watch movies. I even painted my toenails the other night! I love Soren but I really need some time for myself. I mean, no woman should have to give up toe maintenance just because she's a mom.
My mental clarity is returning and I no longer dread the 8 o'clock hour. As a matter of fact, I can't wait to fall into bed every night. I have A LOT of catching up to do!