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Wednesday, August 2, 2006
One more week before Alex returns to the continental U.S. Below is a mostly unedited version of our e-mail correspondence to date. Trust me - this is a pretty lengthy and detailed conversation for us!
Date: Mon, 24 Jul 2006 06:58:20
Wow! I'm having an out-of-body experience! I turn on my, I mean our,
computer and there's a message from you on the blog! And a darn good
one, too! Tell me more about what's happening! It's hotter than blazes
here. I'm sad to report that the basil got burned up, but the tomatoes
are doing great. I miss you. Say hi to Uncle Mark.
Mother of The Alex
Sent: Thursday, July 27, 2006 3:15 AM
Subject: RE: Dude!
first of all it is MY computer not ours. so it is like not too hot
like 75ish here and we went fishing and berry hunting which was fun and i am going go hiking tomorrow
P.S. your computer is the white one in the office which i will set up
for u then we can have passwords and privacyem>
Subject: Re: Dude!
Date: Thu, 27 Jul 2006 17:12:44 -0600
You're right. It is your computer.
But it's MY internet access. And MY electricity.
You can certainly use YOUR computer without MY stuff though!
Still hot here. Got some stuff to fill out for PHS and they're having freshmen orientation August 10. I know - blah, blah, blah. Enough about school.
Did you catch any fish? When do you go down to Juneau?
I painted your room while you were gone. I hope you like pink.
P.S. Why are you sending e-mails at 3:00 in the morning? Is it light all night?
Sent: Friday, July 28, 2006 2:26 AM
Subject: Re: Dude!
we•re two hours behind and we were just finished watching a movie no i
hate pink and yes we caught some trout and ate them for dinner
To: "Alex "
Date: Fri, 28 Jul 2006 12:06:52 -0600
Sorry about the pink. You'll get used to it. Trout sounds good.
Did you get to gut and clean the fish?
P.S. Dan says hi.
Sent: Saturday, July 29, 2006 12:28 AM
Subject: RE: Whatup?
no i didnt do it mark did.....................and tell dan i said hi too
Subject: Re: Whatup?
Date: Sat, 29 Jul 2006 18:45:12 -0600
OK. Wrestled any grizzlies yet?
Sent: Saturday, July 29, 2006 11:56 PM
Subject: Re: Whatup?
no grizzlys. but here is another one for the blog we were building a bear cage and mark gets a huge pole and slides it up on the chain link fence in the back of the pick up and it accidentally went through the back of the windshield shattering it. then as we are pulling the fence out he decides he needs a rest and says ready? and i start to say no but before i got to that part he drops all 200+ pounds on my foot. hows that for blog material
Subject: Re: Whatup?
Date: Sun, 30 Jul 2006 17:50:46 -0600
Good blog material!
All I can say is ...... OUCH! That'll leave a mark.
Did Uncle Mark make you pay for the windshield? :)
Did you get it replaced or do you get a shower every time it rains when you're in the car?
Most important - why are you building a bear cage?? Holy cow. That's not something you do every day!
Sent: Monday, July 31, 2006 12:29 AM
Subject: Re: Whatup?
no we built a new windshield. and there is this guy named steve who has this really cool zoo thing but not really a zoo. c it is like u go in and there are pens but he brings the wolves and porcupines and lynxes (among loads of other stuff) out and lets them walk around and then u can touch them. and he is getting an abondined ear cub
Hmmmm, not sure what an "ear" cub is. Waiting for a response on that.
There you have it. Think he's ready to host his own show on the Travel Channel?
By Robin Dearing
Tuesday, August 1, 2006
Introducing the newest member of the Smith household — Ava.
By Robin Dearing
Tuesday, August 1, 2006
Three weeks until school starts and my kid will start the first grade.
It’s been a great, albeit hectic, summer. Our plans to finally finish painting our house went out with the bath water. So another summer has come and gone and our white-trash slip is still hanging below our skirt.
We really have no excuse, Bill is an instructor at the campus formerly known as UTEC (now called WCCC) and has summers off. So theoretically, he had the time. But the theoretical world doesn’t seem to apply to us.
We never had a minute to spare; most weekends were devoted to one obligation or another. And we filled our “free? weekends with activities designed to mend my always-fraying nerves.
As I sit and reflect on the last two and a half months, I can•t even remember what we did that took up so much of our time. How does that happen?
But there’s no time to lament the summer past, as we still have three weekends left.
We’re going to be doing some more camping, swimming and bike riding. There will be more grilling and it’s finally time to eat peaches … ah, those glorious Palisade peaches.
And then the heat will lift and fall will come. We will settle into our school-time routine and make plans for next summer.
Monday, July 31, 2006
I’ve noticed since Alex has been away that I’ve been eating healthier. It could be coincidental with the abundance of fresh fruit and vegetables at the farmer’s markets, but I’m also not buying Doritos, chips and that stuff that he gobbles up and I can't resist when they're in the house. Another plus, I have 4 tomato plants in my front yard which are going gang busters right now. I love the smell of the plants - total summer time!
Getting anyone, especially kids, to eat more veggies is hard. But there are quick, easy ways to do it. These recipes are some of Alex’s summer time favorites and they’re perfect right now.
These really are quick. A day or two in the fridge and you’ve got a real treat.
Slice about 5 or 6 pickling cucumbers. Either in rounds or spears. Place in a shallow container.
1 cup hot water, 1 tbsp. kosher salt, 2 tbsp honey, and 3 tbsp cider vinegar. Add about 1 tbsp dried dill and pour over pickles. Stir to combine, cover and refrigerate for a day or two. You can also add a sliced onion, sliced garlic and a sliced, seeded jalapeno.
Coarsely chop about 5 large fresh home grown tomatoes, 2 - 3 cucumbers, 3 peppers (red and green), 1 small sweet onion and a clove or two of garlic. Soak 2 slices of bread in about 3 tbsp. balsamic vinegar.
Add all of the above in batches to food processor with a drizzle of olive oil, kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to taste. Process just until smooth. If needed, add some V-8 juice. Chill for a few hours and yummy!
Summertime Pea Soup
In blender or food processor, place 4 cups frozen peas, slightly thawed; 2 cups low sodium chicken broth; 3 – 4 roughly chopped scallions, 1/3 cup fresh mint leaves, 1 tsp. kosher salt and 1 tsp. sugar. Blend until smooth. Serve chilled with a dollop of sour cream or yogurt.
Grilled Veggie Packets
Coarsely chop your choice of zucchini, sweet onions, red or green peppers, mushrooms, garlic, tomatoes. Place in large pieces of aluminum foil and drizzle with Italian salad dressing. Fold up foil and pinch edges together (just so stuff doesn’t leak out) and place on grill. Grill for about 15 minutes over medium high heat, flipping packets every now and then. Any leftovers can be whirled in a blender with chicken broth for soup the next day.
Grilled Vidalia or Sweet Onions
Peel onions and cut out core. In the hole left from the core place some butter, salt and fresh ground pepper. Wrap tightly in foil and grill for about 15 - 20 minutes, until tender. These are really sweet because they caramelize while they’re grilling. Great along side steak or chicken or anything.
All these are best done with local produce, of course. Palisade has a good downtown farmer's market on Sundays from 10 - 2. Also don't forget the one at the mall on Thursday evening in addition to the Main St. Grand Junction Market. If you have some ideas on how to get more fruits and veggies into your family meals I want to hear them!
By Richie Ann Ashcraft
Friday, July 28, 2006
Before kids I'd hear people say "They grow up so fast" blah blah.....but just this week I've come to fully realize just what people have been talking about.
Yesterday, my baby was sitting on my lap (he can almost sit up all by himself without support) and his cousin was sneakily sipping my soda. Soren reached out and grabbed the cup and started to pull as hard as he could. Being nine-months larger, she wrestled the cup from his bear hug pretty easily but not before he successfully snagged the straw. That made her cry in protest and him smile in glee. But then he poked himself in the eye and he started to cry too.
The whole scene delighted me despite the crying of two babies. When did he learn to do that???? He's never had a drop of soda but he's figuring out that food tastes good. Plus to see him socially interacting with her amazed me. And, wow, did he ever have that cup in a two fisted wrestle hold. The one-year-old really had to work to get her way. I can see this is only the beginning of many wrestling matches between these cousins.
Of course, they both lost the soda after that because frankly it was mine.
Everyday my baby becomes more of a kid and less of a baby. It's bittersweet really.
By Robin Dearing
Thursday, July 27, 2006
Last summer we took the kids to Disneyland and California Adventure.
This vacation was a big deal for us. Normally we visit family or go camping around here. So flying to Anaheim and staying in a hotel for a week was a big departure for us.
Margaret was 5. She was old enough and, more importantly, tall enough to go on most of the rides. She was very excited about her first Disney adventure ...
That is until we actually got on the rides.
After getting off of the Matterhorn, Margaret stood firmly, arms straight at her side and gasped, "Why do they scare children?"
And she was scared. Scared to tears. We literally took her kicking and crying on to some rides. I would smile and reassure the ride operators that she was just tired but very much looking forward to enjoying their fine attractions despite her pleas to be removed not only the ride but the entire state of California.
But she ended up enjoying many of the rides. But not all of them — she never developed a taste for roller coasters or any ride that had characters with "mean eyes." She did, however, find a passion for rides that moved in a circle ... slowly.
While exasperated at her fear, I remembered being scared of certain amusement park rides myself when I was her age. So instead of forcing her on rides she didn't want to go on, we repeated the ones she liked over and over again. And we had fun.
Margaret is not fearless; quite the opposite, she's probably more fearful than most. We know that about her now.
So we try to make sure she's prepared for new things. But most importantly we encourage her to overcome her fears and learn that trying new things and being brave is exciting and rewarding.
This summer those lessons have born fruit.
Every year we get season passes to Lincoln Park pool. Every year Margaret talks about going down the water slide.
She's been tall enough for a couple of years but she always chickened out of actually going. Last Sunday she decided enough was enough and she was going to conquer the waterslide.
Bill, Margaret and I climbed the (many) stairs to the top of the slide. We peppered her with encouraging words.
It was decided that I would go first and wait for her at the bottom. Her dad would stay with her until it was her turn.
I took my turn (this was also a first for me this summer, in that despite the fact that I go to the pool several times a week, this was the first time I'd actually gotten my suit wet this summer) and waited at the bottom, peering up the slide.
I was expecting that she was going to be, at best, scared and making her patented fearful grimace; at worst, she was going to be crying.
She surprised me.
Margaret was all smiles. She loved it and spent the rest of the day climbing the stairs and gliding down the slide.
It's one thing to see her growing taller and leaner with very speeding year. It's another thing to witness the emotional growth that is shaping her as whole person.
Wednesday, July 26, 2006
Among the many items they give you when you leave the hospital after pushing forth an eight pound bundle of joy from your loins, are Tylenol (TYLENOL? Where’s the damn Percocet?), pamphlets on the importance of breastfeeding, a little seat cushion thing just in case the 479 stitches they gave you cause any discomfort, and a benign looking pacifier strangely nicknamed a “binky?.
I•m telling you right now – don’t be fooled by the binky! It sounds so cute and innocuous but it will come to rule your life.
My son had two binkies. The everyday binky that rarely left his sweet little lips, and the back-up binky that was kept in a box on the kitchen counter just in case, horror-of-horrors, something happened to the everyday binky. We could not go anywhere without his binky. Its absence in a time of need created a crisis equivalent to the Bay of Pigs. Let me explain.
My son was born in Atlanta, Georgia. Atlanta is a very nice city surrounded by the rest of Georgia. However, there is a very lovely place in Pine Mountain, Georgia called Callaway Gardens. Absolutely gorgeous azaleas, dogwood trees, and all that Southern flora and fauna you associate with hoop skirts, fainting spells and mint juleps. We visited once at Christmas time when the gardens are decorated with a gazillion twinkling lights. Poinsettia sculptures are everywhere and it’s just a winter wonderland.
You ride on a little train at twilight through the gardens to get the full effect. Our son was riding with us, contentedly sucking away on his binky, when suddenly, out of nowhere, with absolutely no warning, he did the unthinkable.
And he sneezed the binky right out of his mouth! His father and I watched, horror stricken, as the binky, as if in slow motion, hit the floor of the speeding (OK it was 5 m.p.h.) train, bounced off, and rolled down the hillside into the dark of the night. We looked at each other and knew we were in BIG trouble.
That night, our son was beside himself as he tried to drift off to sleep. He whimpered, he moaned, he cried, he begged pitifully for his binky until we couldn’t take it anymore! We had to find a binky.
So we set off in the middle of the night in a two-kinds-of-water-fountains, back-woods, moonshine-producing, peanut-growing, Southern town. A white woman in her night gown, a black man mostly dressed, and a screaming toddler.
There are only two commercial enterprises in Pine Mountain. One is a grits factory, and the other is a small grocery store. We pulled up to the grocery store and debated which was safer – a black man going in alone, or a half-dressed white woman. So in I went.
I looked at the man behind the counter and asked in a desperate plea, “Do you sell binkies?? He replied in an agonizingly slow drawl, •Well, ah ought to.? My heart leapt with joy! Until he finished with, •But, ah don’t.?
Needless to say, we left the next morning, bleary-eyed and cursing the hold the binky had on our lives.
Fast forward thirteen years. We just spent $5,000 on orthodontic work to correct the problems I•m sure had nothing to do with heredity and everything to do with the addictive nature of the binky.
My advice - when you leave you the hospital, trade the binky for extra Percocet.
One tired little cowboy after a long day on the trail.
By Richie Ann Ashcraft
Tuesday, July 25, 2006
My horoscope today says I’m a provocateur and it would be wise for me to be more sensitive to others. It says I should be a kinder, gentler version of myself.
So, here it goes:
I’m not going to bring up any debatable arguments or current mother-news issues. Today, I’m going to talk about guilt.
I’m riddled with guilt and always have been. But my latest episode of this mental defect came when I had to call in “sick? with my baby. It seriously is the first time I•ve stayed home from work when I wasn’t physically anguished.
The guilt set in as soon as the sun came up. Soren was crying for no apparent reason, as he had been the day before. His perpetual screaming had exhausted my sitter. I knew she couldn’t handle an encore and we’d all be better off if I just stayed home and tried to comfort him.
I called the boss and felt like a schmuck. Ran the day’s agenda over in my head and made a few more calls to make sure my story reached its final destination. Then I carried a crying baby around on my shoulder all day.
He cried and cried. I tried Orajel, I tried blowing bubbles, I tried singing, I tried dancing, I tried music, I tried the jumpy chair, I tried rocking, I tried outside, I tried inside, I tried warm clothes, I tried nakedness (his not mine), and the screeching just went on and on.
Finally we tuckered out and took a nap.
When I woke up I felt really bad. I knew my coworkers were at the Sentinel slaving away while I was at home napping. I switched on Oprah and watched her give a guy $100,000 for reporting the whereabouts of a convicted child-molester. GO OPRAH! I was enjoying the show so much that the guilt really set in.
I had to call my coworker Tammy and profusely apologize for making her day extra busy. She told me not to feel bad that I was “right where you should be.? But, still•&
The point is: being a working mom is hard even when you aren’t at work.
By Robin Dearing
Monday, July 24, 2006
Last week, Richie asked why I was holding out on you, our dear reader; why I wasn’t writing about what some may find to be the more interesting aspects of my life as a working mama.
I never had a compelling reason or really good story. That is until now.
See, I’m not just a secretary here at The Daily Sentinel, but I also play guitar for an all-girl rock ‘n’ roll band around town, Riveter
It’s fabulous fun and a great way to let off steam and work out the tensions that build from being a full-time mom and from working outside the home full time.
I love that my daughter is being raised in a house full of music. My husband and his son, Sean, started the whole thing. Bill has been playing bass guitar for many, many years and his son began following his footsteps in middle school. For Margaret’s 3rd birthday, we bought her a drum kit.
I was the only one who didn’t play an instrument. One day while I was sitting at my desk, I decided to change that.
Now, three years later, I’m playing guitar in a band with three other very talented musicians and I love it.
Margaret is only marginally interested in the fact that I play in a band. It’s not about her, so she doesn’t really care.
But she’s getting to do things that most kids don’t get to do.
For example, Friday night, my band opened a show at the Mesa Theater and Club
, which featured the legendary ’80s ska band, The English Beat
Margaret and Sean came with me when we loaded in our equipment before the show. There they got to meet, not only the Beat’s original singer/guitar player, Dave Wakeling, but also touring with them at this time is Lynval Golding, guitar player for the Specials.
This was going to be neither an ordinary show nor an ordinary experience for the kids. We had given them the opportunity to meet and watch these amazing musicians warm up and jam together.
Margaret seemed nonplussed by the whole situation and instead of watching these famous musicians do their thing, she organized a spy hunt with my band members which led us to hop, skip and jump around the Mesa Theater.
During our sound check, Margaret sat at the Sky Bar with Bill and watched us from the top of the club.
This is not something that every mom can offer to her kids. And I love that I’m able to share these things with mine.
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??
•When did you get there??
•How was the trip??
•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??
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.