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By Richie Ann Ashcraft
Thursday, August 31, 2006
I bought some Gerber baby food
for our recent camping trip. I know…I know. I said I would avoid buying commercial foods but the convenience and nonperishable qualities seemed unmatched when facing three days of cooler storage.
Upon returning, there was still a jar of chicken and gravy left which I popped open for the EDL. As I’m feeding this thick meaty sludge to the baby, my cat, Kenny, suddenly appeared from his closet hideout and began rubbing my legs frantically. He could smell it a mile away and SO wanted some.
I dished up a dollop…then another…and before I knew it there was more in Kenny’s tummy than the baby's.
Kenny has cost a small fortune. He crawled up half dead on our downtown doorstep one winter. He spent a couple of years frightened in kitty rehab under our couch and is now a finely adjusted pet. I even include him on our answering machine..."You've reach the Ashcraft's, Marty, Richie, Soren, and their cat Kenny..."
Last Christmas, he had surgery for hyperthyroidism…then a few weeks later another surgery for bladder cancer. He now has half a bladder shaped like a hot dog. Poor Kenny Kinkaid. It is apparent that he is on his last life. He’s been starving all summer refusing to eat but the most essential wee bit of soft or hard cat food. This makes me really sad.
That being the situation, I’ll feed this cat just about anything. Seeing him lap up that meaty goo makes us very happy pet owners.
I tried to make him a healthy version by boiling and blending a chicken breast. He liked it but didn’t dive in with nearly the zest he does for Gerber.
So, my plan to save money by making my own baby food has been foiled by the damn cat.
Yesterday, Soren and I trudged up to the corner store to buy 12 tiny jars of various meat products at a cost of .82 cents apiece. That’s per ounce and on sale! Talk about gas prices.
I was horrified wondering what the clerk must think as I deposit the jars like a little rock collection all over her counter and then reach down to adjust the tie-dye hat on Soren’s head.
I overzealously explained that I have a very hungry cat that needs this potted meat so she wouldn’t think Soren was on the Atkins baby diet. She smiled flatly because she obviously didn’t believe me nor care.
Yes, Robin, there is irony in every day and very normal lives. I guess those baby food companies are going to worm their way into my cupboard after all.
Wednesday, August 30, 2006
It happens every school year. Kids go off in the morning on the first day and return that afternoon with 4,982 forms for mom to fill out.
There’s the Rules of the Bus
form. The Medical History
form. The Free Lunch
form. The Can You Help in the Classroom?
form. The Parental Custody
form. The Who to Call in Case of Nuclear or Biological Weapons Attack
form. And then the Expectations in My Class
forms from every teacher.
Good grief. It’s way too much homework for me. I’m a firm believer in spreading the joy, so a couple years ago I asked Alex to help fill in the blanks to the best of his ability and then turn the forms over to me to complete and sign. He was happy to do this, and within the hour had them on the table for me to finish up.
I started reviewing and somewhat automatically signing off, when one particular form caught my eye. It’s the one where they ask the usual name, address and phone number, and then ask you to select your race and ethnic background from a series of boxes. The choices are along the lines of Caucasian, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, African American and so on.
My son had carefully drawn another little square and wrote next to it: American.
And then he had made a big black X
in that box.
I asked him, “Al, what made you do that??
•Well, I’m an American. I didn’t see that choice there, so I wrote it in.?
I thought it was so cool and I was really proud of him for recognizing this. My son is a mix of almost all of the above choices, and as such, does not fit entirely into one box or another. What kid in America does anymore? And more importantly • why doesn’t the school district recognize this and adjust their form?!
So now when we get this form to fill out we have a little fun with it. My son has been Romanian-Australian, Indonesian-Liberian and Brazilian-Tlingit.
We’re probably wreaking havoc with the school district’s computer system, but some things are bigger than the little box you’re supposed to fit in.
By Richie Ann Ashcraft
Tuesday, August 29, 2006
I have a bad mom confession to make: I almost dropped my kid…on his head.
It gives me a newfound respect for poor Britney.
Last week I was lounging on the couch while Soren got himself a little “boobie action?. He was nearly asleep and I was totally engrossed with Grey•s Anatomy
It’s the first medical drama I have ever liked. It is less about bleeding patients and more about the private lives of the interns. There’s just something about it that sucks me into a suspension of disbelief. This particular episode featured a patient who was suffering from…um…well, let’s just call it “little deaths? and leave it at that.
So, needless to say I was totally engrossed by the subject matter when suddenly SoJo flung himself backward across the Boppy
. He had so much power behind that fling that he continued to roll from sheer momentum and was heading straight for the floor.
An exaggerated intake of breath reserved for only the most horrific situations escaped me. In that split second, I reached out and grabbed my baby by the leg and torso, holding his perfect unblemished face two inches from the carpet. I just held him upside down for a second because I was absolutely stunned.
I actually caught him.
I•m stilled amazed. It’s not like people say, “That Richie, she has catlike reflexes!? I pretty much never catch anything much less in a split second.
I know he•ll eventually be sporting black eyes and skinned knees. But, I’d like to be the kind of mom who doesn’t drop her kids on the head. I’m not trying to be mom of the year…I’m just trying to master the basics here.
I feel terribly guilty for it, but when relating the story to my girlfriends they all laughed at my “oops? moment. Seems these incidents just come with the mommy job. Everyone had a story to counterpoint mine and often it ended with a baby indeed knocked on the head. So, I should forgive myself, but still•&..I’m sure Britney would understand.
By Robin Dearing
Monday, August 28, 2006
Today I’m going to write about something that normally falls into Lynn’s realm — raising a teenager.
When I married my husband almost 7 years ago, I became a stepmother to a then 9-year-old boy … now a 15-year-old (almost 16) manboy.
A while back, my band started a myspace page to network with other bands and for promotional use. We linked our page to other bands' and to people that were interested in keeping track of our band.
A couple of months ago I learned that Sean had his own myspace page. I didn’t think much of it. I knew that a lot of kids had pages and used them to chat with their friends in cyber world.
Recently I started really looking at his page.
I did not like what I saw (ahem ... understatement). Actually, I was really freaked out about it. Being the step parent to a teen is tricky (I can only imagine what it's going to be like when Margaret becomes a teenager ... Heaven have mercy on me).
I mean, he's got two loving parents who have done a fine job raising this boy. He's a great kid who gets great grades, does excellent in school and doesn't get into trouble ... for the most part.
I see my role as an ancillary one. I provide encouragement and support, but in our household I'm the disclipinarian and he learned early on that I am a might unpleasant (cough ... understatement) when things are not to my liking. Being a smart kid, he found that doing the few things that I ask is way easier then dealing with my wrath.
But I'd also like to think that we're friends on a certain level. I'm not one of those parents who needs to be one of the guys in lieu of being an authority figure. But he's got a mom, so I've had to carve another niche for myself.
So when I saw his myspace page, I decided I would be the one to act. Embracing the tecnology, I sent him a message on his account telling him that even though myspace is mostly populated by teens, that the rest of the cyber world could, indeed, see what he was putting out there.
Do kids really think that we, uber-dorky parents, can't figure out how to find their pages ... especially when they leave them open on their computers?
I suggested that he might want to rethink the message he was trying to send via his page.
I was surprised at the reponse I got from him.
He was thoughtful and honest.
When I asked him to do me the favor of removing some objectionable banners from his page, he did so quickly and wasn't even the hint upset that I'd looked at his page and hoped he'd make changes.
He acted in a mature manner. He not only granted my favor but did so sans drama.
I also talked to him about the benefits of being a teen (like not having to pay a mortgage or gas bill) and how despite many teens' desire to grow up too quickly, that this was a time to savor.
I am just thrilled at his reponse to my parently meddling, but more importantly, we've opened a dialogue that probably wouldn't have been otherwise.
And now when I gush about how great he's doing in school and what a handsome young man he's become, I can add that he's mature and responsible to the list as well.
But I'm going to keep monitoring his page. It's not a trust issue, it's for the reason that teens are impressionable and prone to gross lapses in judgment and if I can head off a problem before it starts then we're all better for it.
By Richie Ann Ashcraft
Saturday, August 26, 2006
That's right Marlys...as our #1 commenting fan we are sending a dedicated copy of this:
See lurkers...it pays to comment.
Maryls is always good for a supportive, knowledgeable, and friendly bit of her two cents. Thank you Maryls and we hope you continue to enjoy our blog.
The Haute Mamas appreciate all of our readers no matter what their parenting styles may be and encourage everyone to comment.
Don't forget about our "Other People's Kids" category. You can post the latest pic of your child and share it with friends. Just send it via email to Robin Dearing.
By Richie Ann Ashcraft
Friday, August 25, 2006
I’m the diaper cake queen! Look what I whipped up for a baby shower I’ll be attending tomorrow.
I stumbled across the cake “recipe? while planning a baby shower last year. It•s the trendy baby shower thing lately.
Making one couldn’t be easier. Here’s my recipe:
Big Bag of #1 Diapers
Basically, you roll the diapers into little logs and tie them with string. You make two layers, tie each with a pretty ribbon. Add some flowers and toys and ta-da…a diaper cake.
I’ve been to three baby showers this month! I don’t care what they say about the national trend…there is a baby boom on!
And obviously a lot of love in the Ashcraft family as there are four consecutive babies each nine months apart from different couples. The third one is due any day now and the fourth is just getting started (no, it’s not mine).
My husband comes from a BIG family and the babies seem to come in waves. I think it’s cool because at family gatherings everyone has someone of their peer group to hang out with.
I just couldn’t be happier in knowing that my son will have cousins that he can become best friends with.
By Robin Dearing
Thursday, August 24, 2006
With the start of the new school year, so starts the extracurricular activities.
Being that Margaret has never shown any interest in playing team sports (unless you consider tag a team sport), we’ve had to look for her talents elsewhere.
It wasn’t hard to find where her interests lie (at this point, anyway — much like the winds in western Colorado, the passions of a 6-year-old are fleeting and erratic). She loves music.
I’m not at all ashamed to admit that this delights me. We’ve been hoping that Margaret would have a love for music since … well, long before she was born.
My husband couldn’t wait for Margaret to grow old enough to hold drumsticks and for her third birthday she got a tiny, but very real, drum kit.
Much to Bill’s chagrin, she didn’t really take to the drums. Now the minuscule set sits in our basement next to our amplifiers played occasionally by Margaret but most often by our adult friends/drummers (and believe me, you’ve never lived until you’ve seen an adult-sized drummer kick it on a microscopic drum kit).
This past June for Margaret’s 6th birthday, we let her decide which instrument she wanted to play.
I was hoping she would pick the guitar and even went so far as to repeatedly show her the Hello Kitty Squier guitar Hart Music carries.
She decided on the keyboard, stating that she wanted to play piano like her kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Bainter (who, in my opinion, is an institution and who Margaret thinks walks on water).
Yesterday after school, Margaret had her first piano lesson with Mrs. Chavies (another Western Slope institution).
I sat nearby and listened and watched and beamed and tried not to cry. She did great. She listened intently. She sat up straight. She showed enthusiasm and an understanding for what Mrs. Chavies was teaching her.
As we walked home from her lesson, Margaret proudly shouted to the neighbors that she had just come from her piano lesson. She was very proud of herself.
I was, too.
Wednesday, August 23, 2006
“So, how did the first day go??
•Oh man, it was great! My Spanish teacher is so cool! And they have the best food! Taco Bell, Domino’s pizza, McDonald’s french fries and I swear the biscuits they had were Chick-Fil-A!?
I breathed a sigh of relief and knew that it would be a good year.
Later that evening I get a cell phone call as I was driving my visiting-sister back to our other sister•s house. (More on the whole sister invasion thing later.)
“Mom, can you stop at Albertson’s and buy some book covers??
•No, we can make book covers out of brown paper bags.?
•OK. Then can you buy some brown paper bags??
•Uh, no. We have them at home.?
Two minutes later:
•Mom, we can’t make book covers because I left the books at school.?
•Well, then we’ll do it when you bring them home.?
•But it’s worth ten points to bring them in tomorrow!?
•Then you’ll need to remember to bring stuff home next time. Tell your teachers I think that it’s unrealistic to expect parents to get it together that fast and they had a whole summer to make us aware of book covers.?
•Mom, that kind of attitude is soooo middle-school.?
Yeah. Pass the Chick-Fil-a biscuits, please.
By Richie Ann Ashcraft
Tuesday, August 22, 2006
Before I had Soren, I used to say that my baby would never cramp my style. I’d just throw him in a back pack and keep on camping and hiking.
My friends who were already mothers would raise their eyebrows in the “you’ll see? style.
Well, it took six months but we finally took Soren camping. I didn•t exactly stuff him in my bookbag the way I had once imagined…but he was introduced to roughing it in a favorite secret spot in San Juans over the weekend.
Aside from the car ride, he loved it. He was super excited when we arrived watching his dad put up the tent. He was introduced to all sorts of new and interesting things we own like laterns and flashlights.
Sleeping on a thin little mattress wasn’t really his style and took some getting used to. He arched his back in protest throughout the night. We used our bodies as bumper pads and each of us took a few kicks to
In the morning, the chatter of a squirrel woke him up. He lay real still and listened to the foreign noise with wide eyes.
We hiked and relaxed by the fire. Just giving him an aspen branch would entertain him for hours.
I was so pleased to see us getting back to doing what we love to do. Having grown up in Colorado, I can’t imagine my life without weekend getaways to the mountains. They are reason we call this state home and I hope that Soren grows to love it as much as we do.
By Robin Dearing
Monday, August 21, 2006
I did better this year. I got a little weepy on the drive back to work, but I didn't actually cry.
But I wanted to. I still do (I might still).
Margaret was so excited when we left this morning to walk over to her first day in first grade.
Look at that face:
As we got closer to school, she became more quiet.
We walked through the halls of the big school (her kindergarten had been in a separate building); she held my hand more tightly.
As we found her classroom, I noticed some little faces that were familiar — some shone with excitement, some were dark with concern and a little fear.
After being introduced to her teacher, she lined up outside with the other kids.
One boy with a fresh buzz cut cried. I would have gladly joined him. Instead I reassured Margaret, who was now very timid, that everyone was in the same boat. It's a new experience for every child there.
I'm not sure who needed the assurance more, her or me.
Bill and I lingered, talked with the principal, took some pictures. We knew it was time for us to leave, but it was so hard to walk away.
Finally I mustered a smile and we waved.
We stood outside the fenced school yard and watched her a little longer. We huddled there talking about how she seemed so big and yet so little at the same time until she noticed us. And we knew it was time to go.