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Contact!

By {screen_name}
Friday, July 21, 2006

Last Monday evening I’m sitting in a board meeting. Actually I’m supposed to be running this meeting, but someone’s cell phone started ringing. And kept ringing. Nobody made a move to answer it. I was getting irritated because I find this quite rude. Then it dawned on me. It was my phone that was ringing. But it wasn’t the usual ring tone. It was the kind of ring from an “unavailable? number. You know, like when the police call, but that•s a topic for another blog. I don’t normally answer my phone during board meetings, but I just had a feeling about this one. And sure enough it was my long, lost, only begotten son! “Alex! Where are you?? •Uh, Alaska.? •When did you get there?? •Last Saturday.? •How was the trip?? •Good.? •What’s Alaska like?? •They have really big mountains.? This is about as much detail as I got. But at least I have a phone number to call him back! I restrained myself from doing just that until yesterday morning. It was early there still so I talked to my brother for a bit. He was grumpy because it was raining and he couldn•t get to some of the chores he planned, but relayed a few of their adventures to me. Then Al got on the phone. “Hi honey. How’s it going?? •Good.? OK. I know you•re supposed to ask open-ended questions, but I figure anyone who just traveled 2,800 miles would have a LITTLE more to say! After more prodding I learned they had visited a wild life sanctuary and saw wolves, and mountain goats and lots of birds. On the way home a black bear walked across the road in front of them. It had been raining, and one of the windshield wipers broke off. “And there’s a lot of trees. In all three directions.? Three directions? What happened to the fourth? I•ll try to find that out on the next phone call. 3 comments

Talk about Nipple Confusion!

By Richie Ann Ashcraft
Thursday, July 20, 2006

We received a press release concerning women with pierced nipples and their chances of breastfeeding successfully. Here it is: FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Heather Noonan Blackwell Publishing Phone: (781) 388-8540 Professionalnews@bos.blackwellpublishing.net Nipple Piercing and Breastfeeding – Are They Compatible? July 19, 2006 –Until recently, the option to breastfeed after birth was not offered to women with nipple piercings. While there may have been assumed implications to breastfeeding when pierced, limited documentation exists. Now, there exist organizations that promote breast-feeding for those women and teach nurses how to deal with them on an individual basis. “The challenge for perinatal nurses becomes how to intervene to maximize opportunities for breastfeeding success in women with nipple piercings,? says Dr. Armstrong. While nurses are now encouraged to offer breastfeeding as an option, there are still reservations regarding the results. In the past, breastfeeding supporters have said it is safe for pierced women to breastfeed, but noted there could be serious risks involved in doing so. Infants can aspirate on the jewelry and the metal of the jewelry can cause trauma to an infant•s lips, palate, tongue and gums, according to an article in the June/July issue of AWHONN Lifelines presenting findings from research about women’s breastfeeding success when the nipple is pierced. “Careful history taking and physical assessment of the breasts at {prenatal} time affords the opportunity for nurses to provide pierced women with factual information about nipple piercing and breastfeeding,? says lead author Myrna L. Armstrong. By considering the piercing as an integral part of the breastfeeding decision process, prenatal nurses can help foster breastfeeding success. At first I thought the piercing must damage the nipple making breastfeeding difficult. Not so it seems. Instead the concern is the actually jewelry itself. My question is: What mom would leave her nipple jewelry in and stuff it into her kid•s mouth? I mean really…can you be more selfish or vain? 2 comments

Pappy’s in town

By Robin Dearing
Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Sometime in July we are usually visited by my husband's father, Bill Sr. Although he's later than usual, Sunday saw the arrival of Margaret's Pappy. Mar and Pappy.jpg He comes to Grand Junction from Barker, New York, which lies north of Buffalo. Pappy drives through Grand Junction on his way to his gold claim in California ... really, I'm not making this up. He really has a gold claim outside of Yosemite. And Margaret really does call him “pappy? • a McCracken family tradition. (The term “pappy? reminds me of the old Popeye cartoons, so I have my own nostalgia about the name.) Margaret•s excitement over having her grandfather here reminds me of the importance of grandparents in a child’s life. I grew up with both my grammas within bike riding distance. One always had a fridge full of Pepsi in tall glass bottles (a memory that was revived over the weekend while in Salt Lake City. It seems that some Mexican restaurants will import soda from Mexico in those same glass bottles … I had two sodas because I love the bottles). The other gramma had a swimming pool. Needless to say, I saw a lot of my grammas growing up. I would ride my bike to their houses and hang out with them, go shopping and, of course, spend all holidays together. Margaret won’t have those memories. We don’t have family here. The closest family we have are in Denver and while it seems like we would make the trip more often than once every three years, we don’t end up over the divide much. So for Margaret, her time with her grandparents is during those intense trips when we try to pack all kinds of fun things into too short of a time, trying to allow her the chance to know who her parent’s parents are and give her a sense of who she is in terms of her own family. But we’ve also created an adopted family of friends with whom we share holidays and birthdays. We’ve created our own — mostly unorthodox — traditions that mostly revolve around good food and lots of laughter … just like a real family (OK, there’s way less yelling and no crazy uncle). I would love to live closer to our families, but we’ve decided to raise our daughter here in the Grand Valley and we just can’t get our bi-coastal family to follow us. But I’m thankful that my daughter has gotten to know all her grandparents on special occasions and that she has an adopted family for everyday use. 2 comments

Phone home!

By {screen_name}
Tuesday, July 18, 2006

There have been no Alex sightings since Saturday, July 8. No sightings, no phone calls, not even a post card. But really, I’m not worried. Maybe they struck gold in Yukon Territory and are busy panning and weighing nuggets the size of your head. Maybe they found an awesomely beautiful piece of country and decided to hang out for a couple extra days to explore. Maybe they met up with some Tlingits and are learning how to make boots from walrus skins. Maybe my brother’s truck broke down and they’re wandering across the frozen tundra breathing their last breath . . . . But really, I’m not worried. I’m pretty sure their travel route did not cross any tundra. But the truck breaking down is a distinct possibility. My brother bought a new truck just for this trip. “New? is defined by him with anything less than 125,000 miles on it. This one had 124,468. But really, I•m not worried. In fact, I’m so not worried that I watched an entire Animal Planet special last night on Alaskan Wildlife. I was hoping I might catch a glimpse of my son but he was nowhere to be seen. Plenty of cuddly little polar bear cubs watching their mamas rip the heads off baby seals, lots of Trumpeter swans treading water to avoid becoming lunch, and a wolf pack of starving females being pursued by males in heat. But no Alex. I’ve left several voice mails for my brother on his cell phone, with no return calls. I’ve decided I’m going to quit calling. What the heck. They’re either having a great time, or they’re miserable, or they’re dead. Whatever. They’re big boys and can take care of themselves, right? Who, me? Worry? 0 comments

High Needs….Hmmmmppff!

By Richie Ann Ashcraft
Monday, July 17, 2006

The first time I heard the expression “high needs baby? was from the well-baby nurse who dropped by two weeks after Soren•s birth to see how our little family was coming along. I described to her a typical day in baby’s life: crying uncontrollably between 6 and 8 p.m., up every two hours, refused to sleep anywhere but in mommy’s arms, screaming in the bathtub, nursing around the clock. I told her I was exhausted and hardly wanted to play with the baby when he was happy. I was just content to sit on the couch and admire him from afar while my tired arms rested. I told her all this with tears brimming. When she said “I think he is a bit of a high needs baby,? I was totally offended. In my crazed postpartum mind I thought, •What the hell? There’s nothing wrong with him…my brain shouted….he’s perfect…Now Get Out!? What I actually said was •What does that mean?? She said it meant he just needed extra attention. Hummmppff! But, as the weeks wore on I realized that perhaps she was probably right. I compared notes with every mother I knew to see if their children behaved the same way. Apparently, not all babies are quite as demanding as mine. And some are even more needy. Oh, how sorry I am for those mothers and how I loathe those who have nice hair that brag about how their angel has slept through the night since day one. My baby fits a lot of the 12 signs of a high needs baby. He needs held a lot; he still hasn•t slept through the night; he’s vocal; he’s serious; he clings to a routine; and he’s in constant motion. He moves so much it has actually alarmed members of our family. His temperment has earned him the nickname the Evil Dark Lord or EDL for short. Luckily, I fully went into motherhood expecting it to be just like this because I really thought all babies were this way. I’ve tried not to make a big deal out it as I’m not altogether convinced there even is such a thing. But I finally took a look at what the oracle Google had to say. Most websites make it seem like these babies are just evil. One article is titled “Loving the High Need Baby? . Come on! Get over it already! When my baby isn•t being the EDL he’s the most sweetest, cutest little booger you’ve ever seen. And nobody on God’s green earth could help but fall in love with him. Perhaps he's a handful and will continue to be as a toddler. But my "Book of Lies" also says that high need babies walk and talk earlier, are leaders, and have higher IQ's. It's probably a lie, but I like to think he needs all of this attention because he's smart. 6 comments

Got milk?

By Robin Dearing
Friday, July 14, 2006

I know it sounds like I’m bragging when I talk about how bright my kid is — and I am, I’m very proud of my girl — but I can honestly say that having an overly smart kid isn’t always what it’s cracked up to be. I’ve joked before that if I got to choose, I just might pick a kid that is a little less bright, if it meant that she was easier to manage. I mean, nothing strikes fear in the heart of a parent quicker than having a well-seasoned and much-respected kindergarten teacher tell us that if we didn’t keep our child properly challenged and hold her to high expectations that we’d likely end up with an unruly discipline case. And not only is Margaret bright, but she’s funny, too. This is a lethal combination for us … especially me. She quickly realized that her dad does not embarrass easily. I, however, am very awkward and tend to embarrass very easily. Margaret preys on this weakness in an unrelenting manner. She started making a certain request of me. She only asks when we are surrounded by a group of people. She asks for milk. She dons a mischievous grin that strikes fear into my heart. To those unaware, it seems like a benign request. It isn’t. She doesn’t want a glass of milk from the fridge. Nope, she wants milk from … um, me. Milk that I haven’t had for 5 years. But she doesn’t believe me. She thinks I’m holding out on her, that she could be slurping from the mom milk dispenser if only I weren’t so selfish. She’ll implore, “Come on, let me just try.? Meanwhile, everyone in earshot had dissolved into fits of giggles and I•m left trying to convince my kid that this well is dry. I try to act casually and not be embarrassed. She knows she used to nurse and that it’s a healthy thing for babies. I try to act like an adult about it. But my feeling is that once Margaret was weaned, my bosom — though now much more droopy for wear — became mine again. The suggestion that she has some kind of claim to it … well, it just doesn’t jibe. I just can’t seem to explain that to my overly bright little girl. 1 comments

How I’m Spending My Summer Vacation

By {screen_name}
Thursday, July 13, 2006

It’s been four days since I last heard from my son. I knew this would be likely but for crying out loud – it’s the 21st century! No cell phone service? Across 895 miles of the Alaskan Highway and British Columbia? They could have put a tower or two out there. Really, I’m not worried. I guess since nobody has shown up at the front door with a telegram, I can assume all is well. While Alex is off on his summer vacation adventure, I’m sure you’re wondering if I’m lonesome, and how I’m passing the time. Well, here’s the short list so far: 1. I’m perfecting the art of cooking beets. They look so old-fashioned and appealing at the farmer’s markets I can’t resist. So far, I’ve baked them (really easy); sliced them into a dressing of OJ, olive oil, shallots and rice vinegar (yum!); sautéed the greens with garlic and fresh lemon juice (tastes like swiss chard); and boiled little baby beets and made a salad with feta cheese, capers and balsamic vinegar. Trust me, these are not your grandma’s beets! 2. I’m practicing blowing smoke rings. Seriously. I have developed this odd desire for Swisher Sweets in the last year or so. Not in a Clintonesque way, and like Bill, I definitely do not inhale. I guess there are worse vices to have. I only ever light one up when my son is at least 250 miles away, generally on the privacy of my back deck. But I have always admired the skill of smoke ring blowing, so I figured what the hell? But, duh, it leaves the nastiest taste in your mouth for hours. 3. I’m borrowing my sister’s kids. My little nephews are 5 and 8 and they absolutely kill me! They are good for laughs and they’re a constant source of entertainment. Sammy plays a mean game of tic-tac-toe. Max is a great story teller who can not wait for the fire ban to lift so he can set off the $400 worth of fireworks he’s been hoarding. My sister rarely says no when I ask to take her kids off her hands for a few hours. Usually I can hear her squealing into my driveway before I hang up the phone. 4. I’m not shopping. Nope, not even at Wal-Mart. It’s unusual for me to have spare time and not spend it doing a little retail therapy. Maybe I’m at a point where I just don’t need or want any more “stuff?. More likely, I•m waiting for the retail season to change. Okay – not a real exciting list I know. But it’s been less than a week that I’ve had the house to myself. When your life is so generally focused on your kid, there’s bound to be an adjustment period during which you realize you can do whatever you want! I’d love to know what’s on your “if I had four weeks to myself this is what I’d do? list. 8 comments

Over 3,000 Miles Round Trip

By Richie Ann Ashcraft
Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Warning: I’m cranky today and you shouldn’t talk to me. I have a post-vacation hangover I guess. I wish I were still lying on Shipwreck Beach. It was among the nicest beaches I’ve ever been on. I’m sporting a little sand rash on my knees and my head from a particular gnarly wave that planted my face in the sand and then pushed me several feet face first. (Microdermabrasion!) It was awesome! The waves were nice once my body went numb. The Pacific is COLD in July in the Northwest! There were pelicans flying so low over the water I thought I could touch them and tried. Babycakes smooshed sand between his baby toes and tasted the salty sea. Mostly he slept because he didn’t like to subject his eyes to such brightness. He still has leftover sand in his ears that I can’t get out. beach.jpg Notice the actual ship carcass in the right hand corner. Aaarrgh! That’s the Peter Iredale, now home to barnacles and mussels. It is a favorite plaything of young children who like to climb on her hull and pretend to fight pirates. It also makes a nice landmark when you are trying to find bearings after pulling your face out of the sand and choking on seawater. This is what it used to look like: pi_anchoring_300.jpg A tourist kiosk in Astoria informed me that guiding ships in the mouth of the Columbia is one of the hardest of sailing feats. Something about opposing currents. Unsuccessful navigation brought the Peter Iredale where it rests today mostly buried by sand and odd looking tourists. The first family vacation was a roaring success. The baby slept for a good chunk of the way; waking for food or a diaper change. We quickly learned to slow down, relax, and resign ourselves to slow travel. I learned my husband has a remarkable ability to quickly find the city park in any town in the USA. Most of them were really nice especially the one in Boise. Knowing that my family can travel so well gets the wheels a turning about future trips. I can’t wait. 2 comments

A king worth waking up to ...

By Robin Dearing
Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Jack.jpg Check it, Soren. Jack has your back! 1 comments

Road trips and the power of TV

By Robin Dearing
Tuesday, July 11, 2006

We all made it back from our road trip to California, not really worse for the wear. The 800-mile drive went well, thanks to the portable DVD player that streamed episode after episode of the Simpsons directly into the impressionable brain of my 6-year-old. In the past, we split the drive up into two days, staying at the lovely resort town (insert sarcasm here) of Wendover, Nevada, which marks the half-way point for the drive. This time we decided to try to drive straight through. It was the right decision. Margaret is old enough now that she's content to color, solve problems in her math workbook and play with her beloved stuffed animals for hours on end. But really the success of the trip is firmly pinned on that DVD player. Being able to watch her favorite movies or TV shows staved off the boredom and kept her giggling — and sometimes even laughing out loud — for the majority of the trip. The concept of television as babysitter has been discussed in terms of infants here before, but what about for older kids? I wonder at the damage I am inflicting upon my daughter as I let her watch TV and movies. Her favorite shows are the ones on PBS Kids, but she also loves the Discovery Channel's Dirty Jobs — for those unfamiliar with Dirty Jobs, the host, Mike Rowe, joins the average Joe on the site of jobs that are considered for one reason or another to be dirtier than most, often involving the ickiest forms of grease, dirt and poop. Margaret is an incredibly bright girl. She’s a great reader and sometimes can be found curled up with no less than 18 stuffed animals and a stack of books. But the question remains, am I ruining her chance at an Ivy League education by letting her spend some of her time watching a guy shovel poop out of a flooded basement? … I wonder. 2 comments
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