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By Robin Dearing
Wednesday, August 16, 2006
I love my kid.
I realize that kind of goes without saying, but there are times that I feel like she was sent to test my patience, self-control and sanity. (The results of these tests are always the same, I have little of any of these admirable traits.)
It is at these times that I remember my perpetually even-tempered mom mumbling under her breath, "I hope you have a daughter just like you someday." And I remember the Christmas when Margaret was two. I called my mom moaning that Mar wouldn't open her presents. She laughed at my frustration and said, "She so much like her mother."
But then there are those moments when I am like a teacup overfilled with pure unadulterated happiness over the fact that Margaret is my daughter.
This past weekend I experienced, not just a moment, but days full of that overfilled feeling. It was glorious.
We had the opportunity to spend some time at a friend's cabin. And while she had times when she claimed to have nothing to do, for the majority of the weekend, she delighted in just being … and so did I.
Margaret, whom our friend nicknamed Midge, spent time digging rocks out of the dirt and digging rocks out of the “crick.? We talked about the different qualities of the rocks and she learned the word •igneous.?
We scrambled over the long grass and through the brush in search of mushrooms • not to eat, but just to look at. We enjoyed the fact that there are so many different shapes, colors and textures of those strangely spongy growths.
We sat on the porch at dusk and waited for deer to come down the mountain. We watched our dog frolic through thick foliage in search of mice and chipmunks. We danced while making dinner. We listened to the rain thunder on the roof.
We ate peaches and toasted marshmallows over the coals left in the grill. We read and watched movies.
We did nothing, yet it felt like everything.
Tuesday, August 15, 2006
The great Alaskan adventure is over, but I think the memories will last a long time.
I picked Alex up last Wednesday (the day before his freshmen orientation and my melt-down). I took his cousin Forrest along for company - he just moved here from Italy, but more about that later – and I knew Alex would enjoy seeing him.
After a quick review of Alex’s trip, the two teenagers launched into a conversation that went something like this:
One long continuous stream of speech passed back and forth at a rapid-fire pace between the front and back seats
Dude, thatisthelamestnameever. CanyouimaginebeingontheFriendlyHands
weonlygetlike3channelsinEurope . . .?
OK. You get the picture. This went on for miles, and the two of them only paused occasionally to make snide comments about my driving ability. Something about the noise from the rumble strips really disturbed them.
When I could get a question in edge-wise Alex relayed that he had a great time in Alaska. Camped out two nights along the way in a tipi, got to work as a lumberjack, went salmon fishing from a canoe in the shadow of a glacier, removed porcupine quills from Cheena•s nose, saw herds of buffalo, stone sheep and caribou, and admitted to sipping hot buttered rum around the campfire.
And so we enter the last week of summer vacation. The coming year promises to be full of challenges for everyone. But dude, like, I think it will be, like, awesome!
By Richie Ann Ashcraft
Monday, August 14, 2006
The other day my niece said she feels like a mother dog with ten pups who finally has to get up and just let the puppies fall where they may.
She couldn’t have put it better in my opinion.
The mother dog always has this expression of “Kill Me Now!? on her tired canine face as she steps not so gingerly over her mewing offspring.
At baby•s bedtime, I breathe a sigh of relief as I gently place him in his crib. I know that I have a least a couple of hours to myself. He won’t be kicking, poking, or suckling on me.
I like that Soren can sleep in his own bed. Just for the reason that I get a little bit of time off from being the mother dog. My hubby on the other hand loves to cuddle the baby while he sleeps. He likes to have his whole family in the nest within arms reach.
I love to cuddle our baby too. But Soren treats me like an all night smorgasboard on the Vegas Strip when he cosleeps.
I sleep with my arm at an unnatural angle and always on my side. My heightened mothering sense keeps me from flipping unconsciously in my sleep for fear of throwing an elbow and cracking the baby’s skull. I hate that there is a baby barrier between my husband and I because to be perfectly honest, sometimes I need a little cuddling too. When he sleeps in our bed I wake up feeling terribly unrested and literally drained.
Cosleeping is a another of the many parenting styles hotly debated. Some say it’s better for the child’s emotional well-being and others say it depresses a child’s sense of independence.
In my family, we have to strike a happy medium because I just want to sleep.
By Richie Ann Ashcraft
Saturday, August 12, 2006
Just in time for elections:
The Wig Party!
By Robin Dearing
Friday, August 11, 2006
“Sup Tyrel? Sup foo’??
That was the first fake phone conversation Margaret ever had on her little-kid, fake phone.
She was about three. She was pretending to talk to our friend Ty.
She used to call him by his full name, Tyrel. There was something about the way that she pronounced it, like she had a southern accent, •Tah-rel,? that always made me laugh.
She always really liked Ty. She would cling to his legs and claim, •My Tah-rel!? • just in case we weren’t aware that he belonged exclusively to her. I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that he always treated her like a person and not a little kid; not everyone sees the distinction.
I met Ty 4-1/2 years ago when I started working for The Daily Sentinel. He worked in the pre-press department (I still really have no idea what he does exactly).
Today’s his last day. He put in his notice and is moving to the Pacific Northwest to learn to do cool stuff.
I’m glad for him.
I’m sad for me.
And for all of us who call Ty our friend.
Ty is a great co-worker. He’s hardworking and dependable and he’s fun. He has an arcane sense of humor that has kept me in stitches over the years.
And he would bring in donuts, which he would generously share. He learned that my favorite donut, really the Holy Grail of Donuts, was the glazed, chocolate old-fashioned. It’s an elusive donut here in Grand Junction and on those days when he found one, I’d inevitably receive an e-mail that would read only, “Mmmm … donuts!?
Richie and Lynn, my haute mama cohorts, also have benefited from Ty•s donut generosity.
Richie likes herself a donut but in an attempt to combat what she claims is extra post-baby weight (it should be known that Richie was wearing jeans — regular, pre-pregnancy jeans — a mere four weeks after Soren was born! I know, who can do that?), she only lingers around the donuts, enjoying them from afar, rarely allowing their sugary goodness to pass her lips.
Lynn on the other hand will actually eat a donut … well, part of a donut anyway. She’s one of those people who thinks it’s fine to cut a donut in half, inspect both halves, choose the half with the most cream filling and leave the cast-off remains for some other poor sap who didn’t get to the donuts quick enough.
Sadly enough, today is the day our donut gravy train leaves the station and we have to say good-bye to our dear friend.
Good luck, Ty. I’m going to miss you, you floornt.
Thursday, August 10, 2006
Somebody throw me a rope because I’m going down for the third time.
There are some things a mother should not have to do. Like take their kid to freshmen orientation like I just did. Ohmigod. High school. I parked the car and went inside with my son, pretending not to be his mother. I could pass as a teacher, or hall monitor or something. There were lots of kids milling around and most knew at least one or five or twenty other kids. The girls hugged and squealed, the boys engaged in their ritualistic 20-minute long handshake routine. My son knew . . . nobody. Not another single soul.
He’s going to a school of choice, so he doesn’t know the kids from the feeder middle schools. There were a few kids from his middle school who are also attending the same high school but they were nowhere to be seen. This bothered me a lot. High school is bad enough when you know everybody. How dreadful can it be when you don’t know anybody?! I don’t think it bothered my son much, and logic tells me that when I go pick him up in an hour or two, he’ll know lots of people. Right?
On the drive back to work I did what any mother in the same situation would do. I cried. Not just a little misty-eyed thing. No. I had the full-fledged-sobbing-tears-rolling-down-the-face-can’t-even-talk kind of crying. Probably should have pulled over, but I got on the cell phone instead and called his father. Sobbing that this was way worse than the first day of kindergarten, that I’m not ready for high school and why do I have to do this? I’ve sent my only begotten son into a dangerous world armed only with a new backpack and a student ID card? What kind of mother am I? I’ve been to high school! I know how awful it can be! There are drugs there. There are bad kids there. There could even be guns there. And don’t even mention what now goes on in the bathroom stalls!
Hand me a Kleenex, please. Thank you. Deep breath.
OK. I survived high school. I was even one of the “popular? kids. Prom queen and all. And my son is way smarter, more resourceful and gifted in so many more ways than I ever was. He•ll be fine, don’t you think? Maybe even better than fine?
Oh god, where’s the damn Kleenex? I am not ready for high school.
By Richie Ann Ashcraft
Wednesday, August 9, 2006
Soren Josef turned six months old last Sunday.
It was a significant day for me as I found myself reflecting on my experiences as a new mother.
In one of my prep classes, the nurse was discussing how our goal should be to breastfeed for six months to a year. I remember feeling anxiety grip my throat as the pressure of motherhood (impending doom) closed in and I was CERTAIN I didn’t have it in me. It just seemed like such a long time.
My “book of lies? said that not all babies would sleep through the night within the first six months and I remember thinking •I’ll DIE if I have a baby like that.?
I did have a baby like that. But, I•m alive and so is he.
I mean, WOW, I actually kept this little person alive for half a year. Not only alive, but also free of bumps, bruises and traumatic childhood experiences.
Six Whole Months!
It’s so short. It’s just a tiny fraction of our lives, miniscule really in a normal life span, even smaller on the evolutionary timeline. And yet, in that tiny amount of time my boy went from this:
Just look at how incredible that is! He’s gone from a nearly blind misshapen body to cognitive little boy.
I’m in awe of him everyday. And what I didn’t know in class was how much I was going to love being his mom. I guess it just came naturally for me.
I didn’t know what I was capable of at all. Nor how much my life would change.
In six months, Soren has learned to do so many things. And I as his mom I’m just trying to keep up. We are learning together and it’s true that children teach us so much about ourselves.
But most importantly, I’ve learned that moments in our lives last for a fraction of a second. I just want to hold on…hold on to that one half birthday for a little bit longer.
Tuesday, August 8, 2006
In just 48 hours my son will be back in the continental United States. Twenty-four hours after that he will be at his high school freshmen orientation. Wow. How did that happen?
I remember his first day of kindergarten like it was yesterday. No tears of abandonment from him, no sir-ree. The only tears shed that day were mine. In fact, I distinctly remember him saying more than once, “Mom, you can leave now.?
Oh, the curse of raising a confident, independent child!
With less than two weeks of summer vacation left, I•m now scrambling to cram in a whole summer’s worth of activities in two weekends. Two weekends of 48 hours each. This is the time of year when being a “working mom? really gets in the way of your life.
And so I fantasize, only during my lunch hour of course, about what I would do if I had the rest of the summer off, and I didn•t have to use vacation days. I’d go hiking with my sister and her merry band of stay-at-homes, I would take my son and his buddies to the water slide at Lincoln Park and force them to have fun, we’d go camping in the middle of the week when you could get a campsite, catch a flight to a beach somewhere, rent a cabin and a canoe on a lake, sleep in and go out for breakfast at 11:00, get sun burned and bug-bitten while fishing, eat ice cream sundaes for lunch, sit around a campfire and tell really bad ghost stories, and just spend time with family visiting from far away and nearby.
The truth is, we do all that stuff - and more - now. We just do it in a compact period of time, like every weekend, for 48 hours. That’s when I get to be a stay-at-home. Those are some of my favorite 48 hours.
But you know, the rest of the week is pretty good too!
By Robin Dearing
Monday, August 7, 2006
To celebrate the impending arrival of my husband's birthday over the weekend, I decided Margaret and I would bake him a cake.
I'm not much of a baker, but I can follow the directions on the back of a cake-mix box like no one's business and I love cake (that is a huge understatement. Cake is one of my favorite foods. I like to start my day with a chocolate-chocolate chip muffin from the vending machine here at work because it's like eating a little cake for breakfast — and we all know that cake is the breakfast of champions)
But after baking the cake and dumping a can of cream-cheese frosting on it, Mar and I decided that it was missing something. It just seemed all plain and regular. Being that my husband is far from plain and regular, we knew that his cake should reflect that.
Ultimately we decided it was time to break out Mar's Easy Bake Oven
We used a package of store-bought chocolate-chip cookie dough (no, I didn't even make the cookie dough myself ... all that mixing, measuring and blending, it just didn't appeal to me. I'm a firm believer in the notion that the food that tastes the best, is the food cooked by someone else.) and pressed a huge spoonful of the dough into an Easy Bake Oven pan.
Ten minutes later we had a big, round chocolate-chip cookie. We made big, round chocolate-chip cookies all afternon long — one every ten minutes. Mar became quite adept at loading and unloading the oven with the plastic pan pusher and filling the pans half way with cookie dough. I became adept at burning my fingers on the extrordinarily hot baking pans.
We cut the round cookies into tiny squares and arranged them jauntily on the cake.
In the middle of the cookie-baking process, I realized that I could have smushed the entire roll of pre-made cookie dough into a cookie sheet and baked it for 15 minutes and been done with it. But it was the joy of the Easy Bake Oven that made the afternoon so much fun.
I had an Easy Bake Oven as a child. I loved it (yet, another understatement). Eating hockey-puck-like “cakes? made of dry cake mix and water is one of my cherished childhood memories.
I•m actually surprised that I even stopped using it. I mean, with the Easy Bake, you can have cake whenever you want without having to turn on the oven. And since it’s just a little cake, you don’t have to share.
I wanted to find a picture of what my Easy Bake Oven looked like (as it is markedly different from the microwave-oven-type Margaret has). I found this Web site
that chronicles the history of the Easy Bake Oven from when it was first marketed in 1963 until today.
The whole experience has made me nostalgic and I even considered bidding on the 1970s version of the Easy Bake I found on eBay. But then I realized that it's Margaret's turn to be the Easy Bake baker and handed over my oven mitt.
By Richie Ann Ashcraft
Saturday, August 5, 2006
Todd Powell shared this CNN story with me today. I guess I'm just surprised that people find this sort of thing offensive. I'm not saying breastfeeders should just pop one out whenever they feel like it but I do wonder when women say they hide a picture like this from their husbands. I'm mean what's the big deal?