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By Robin Dearing
Tuesday, November 28, 2006
We put up our Christmas tree this weekend.
So it seems only appropriate that mother nature would go ahead and drop a thin blanket of the white stuff just to make things look more Christmassy.
Growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area, I can count on one finger the number of times that I woke up to snow in the yard as a kid. But I definitely got my fill while in grad school in Pennsylvania.
I was 23 years old when I moved to the East Coast and didn't even own a proper coat or boots, let alone a snow shovel. I was horrified the first day it snowed and I realized that I was going to spend an entire winter walking, driving and living in snow.
I fell down every day until my parents took pity on me and bought me a pair of Sorel boots. I had to have the antifreeze changed in my car so it would protect down to 40 below. I bought a hat and scarf. But I figured out how to survive the winter.
Then I moved to Grand Junction, where I've seen people wearing shorts in the dead of winter. Of course, the dead of winter in Grand Junction is much closer to what I experienced in California than Pennsylvania.
I like winter here. It's charming. We get a little snow and we all Ohhh and Ahhh over it until it's gone around noon. But we can drive up to Powderhorn and I can watch my kids ski and snowboard.
Here's Margaret last year taking her first ski lessons:
I'll admit that I did get a little teary-eyed when I watched her ride the lift by herself the first time, but I'm so glad that we're taking advantage of our surroundings.
And it's not just the skiing or the mild winters, it's so many things about the Grand Valley.
I love that we chopped down our Christmas tree from a lovely Christmas tree farm on East Orchard Mesa that provides free hay rides and cider.
I love that most of the houses on our street put up some kind of lights or decoration. (Bill spent a good portion of Sunday putting lights on our house, but I think the house is either cursed or hates Christmas lights. No matter which string of lights Bill puts up, one or more strings will inevitably go out. This year it is the lights on the entire left side of the house. He has fixed them twice so far to no avail. I think it's a light conspiracy.)
It's defintely a wonderful time of year.
By Richie Ann Ashcraft
Monday, November 27, 2006
Soren must think I can work miracles....
I got a call about 11 a.m. Friday saying he had spiked a temperature of 102 in the couple of hours I'd been at work. (Yeah, has it been a rough week!) I said give him the .125 dose of Tylenol and I'd be home in a bit.
Arriving home, I found the poor thing lying belly down in his crib with wide unblinking eyes. His little body was emitting heat waves into the sick aura above him.
I carried his limp body to my bed where we covered up and I let him nurse. I dabbed his forehead with a cool washcloth just like my own mother had done to me so many many years ago. I whispered words of encouragement and patted his sweating back.
Miraculously he started to stir, fondling the washcloth and applying pressure to his own head. Soon his flushed cheeks and eyes like a baby doe turned toward me with a look of genuine appreciation. His fever had broke.
A few more minutes and he began to jabber and wiggle. I cuddled him awhile longer before returning to work. That Tylenol works wonders but I'm sure my little boy gave me all the credit. I'm happy to let him think that.
By Robin Dearing
Friday, November 24, 2006
Just as the house full of people sat down to enjoy their Thanksgiving meal, my precious daughter stands up and proclaims, "Git. In. Ma. Bel-lay" a la the Mike Myers character from the Austin Powers movies.
She got a big laugh while I stared at my cranberry sauce with reddened cheeks. One of the friends with whom we shared the feasting holiday said, "Bill just said the same thing about 20 minutes ago."
She's so like her dad.
Earlier in the day while wishing my parents a happy turkey day via telephone, my mom asked me what I was bringing to the annual orphan's Thanksgiving dinner that we have with our friends.
"Me, specifically? You're asking what I'm
bringing to dinner?"
She paused and then said, "What am I thinking? What I meant was what is Bill making for the dinner?"
"Two kinds of potatoes, white and orange." Orange potatoes — some people call them yams or sweet potatoes. Bill makes them just like my mom does with lots of butter, brown sugar and marshmallows.
Just before Margaret waddled off to bed last night, she ate one final bowl of orange potatoes — they are pretty much our favorite Thanksgiving dish. But believe me, Bill's garlic, mashed potatoes coupled with our host's amazing turkey gravy came in a close second.
This year as I gave thanks for my wonderful friends and loving family, I placed a mental asterisk next to my husband's name.
I am so lucky to have a husband who can deal with all of my idiosyncrasies with such loving grace.
I am not an easy person to live with: I'm moody and difficult with a nasty temper. I have a number of irrational fears that prevent me from acting as a bona fide adult much of the time. I need constant supervision and someone to feed me or I'd end up eating Cheerios and American cheese sandwiches for every meal.
My life is so much richer now since Bill foolishly fell in love with lo those 8 years ago. I have my daughter and stepson who challenge me every day to be a better person and therefore a better parent for them. I have a partner in life who never lets me take myself too seriously and sacrifices so much so I can the things I want.
His selflessness overwhelms me. His biggest flaw is that he doesn't (or more accurately, choses not to) see my weaknesses as weaknessness; instead, he thinks of me as charmingly eccentric.
And that is something for which I am thankful every day of the year.
By Richie Ann Ashcraft
Thursday, November 23, 2006
I've been wanting to add some video to our blog but somehow can't find the time to figure out how to do it. But, here's a little video of this baby
that will make you laugh infectiously! Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!
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!