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Learning new tricks

By Robin Dearing
Thursday, July 27, 2006

Last summer we took the kids to Disneyland and California Adventure. Mar disneyland.jpg 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. 7-23 Mar waterslide.jpg 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. 2 comments


By {screen_name}
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. He sneezed! 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. Alex and binky.jpg One tired little cowboy after a long day on the trail. 2 comments


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. 4 comments

The gifts we give our children

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. 1 comments


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
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