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Living Well: 1, 2, 3 Delivery! — MRH offers new What to Expect series

There are plenty of books and websites about how to prepare for childbirth and delivery, but nothing can replace sitting down and talking with an expert or being in a group of other expectant parents asking questions. That's why medical providers at MRH are offering ongoing, no-cost classes for expectant moms and dads/partners to attend.

The past What to Expect classes were held quarterly on a Saturday and covered everything from morning sickness to breastfeeding. The new series breaks out classes by trimester, covering all three trimesters and postpartum care each month. The classes are offered once each week, on Wednesdays. The first Wednesday of each month covers first trimester topics, the second Wednesday covers second trimester topics, and the third Wednesday covers third trimester topics. The final Wednesday is for moms' post-delivery. If you are expecting, it's easy as 1, 2, 3 to remember which class to attend!

"Those who come say they love that they can ask any question that's on their minds. We have lively discussions on topics driven by those who attend," said Liz Kilmer-Sterling, RN, MSN, CNM, certified nurse midwife with Memorial Regional Health.

Another benefit of attending a childbirth preparation class is that you meet people who are in the exact place you are in your pregnancy. Sometimes, you form lifelong bonds.

"It takes a village to get through pregnancy. Making connections with other parents-to-be is especially important for young families who don't have other family nearby," Kilmer-Sterling added.

The class is led by Kilmer-Sterling and labor and delivery nurses. The third trimester class proves to be the most popular, partly because it offers a tour of the birthing center, but also because the end is drawing near, and moms want to make sure they understand what will happen during labor and delivery and also have established pain management techniques.

Preparing for childbirth

According to Kilmer-Sterling, one of the best ways to prepare for childbirth is to learn everything you can about pregnancy, labor, and delivery. That way, you can limit the surprises, and if you are surprised, you'll know what to expect.

"When you have the information you need, you can make good decisions for you and your baby. Remember, no question is silly," she said.

Next, she advises learning about different pain management techniques often used during labor and delivery and what might work best for you. For example, maybe you are soothed by warm water, so taking a bath or shower during labor would help. Or, maybe you are calmed by rhythmic breathing or imagery and visualization. Maybe you would like someone to rub your back or give certain words of encouragement.

"Identify how you best cope with stress and pain, and then practice those things before labor and delivery, so they'll be easy to use when the day comes," Kilmer-Sterling said.

Lastly, if you plan to breast feed, Kilmer-Sterling advises that you consult with someone about technique before delivering. That way, you'll understand about proper latch on and milk supply, making it easier to manage.

"Breastfeeding may look easy and like it comes naturally, but it can be something women struggle with," she added.

If you don't have a nursery or a new crib, consider signing up for a free Baby Box — a safe sleep space for infants up to six months — made possible by the Rocky Mountain Children's Health Foundation. The Baby Box is portable, contains a firm, yet comfortable mattress, and boasts Colorado-themed designs. The Women's Health & OB/GYN office at MRH has plenty to hand out to new moms once they sign up online and complete a short education program on safe sleep habits.

"Our moms who have recently delivered love their Baby Boxes, because they are easy to move around the house, easy to set up, and they feel reassured that they have a safe space for their baby to sleep," Kilmer-Sterling said.

Free Baby Boxes for safe sleeping

If you are expecting and want a safe sleep space for your newborn, look no further. MRH has partnered with RM Children's Health Foundation to provide Best Start Baby Boxes to expectant parents. Reserve your baby box at babyboxuniversity.com/register, and present your code at the OB/GYN office at Memorial Regional Health, 750 Hospital Loop, Craig to pick up your box.

What to Expect Classes 

Expecting your first? New to the area? Attend a What to Expect class during each trimester and after delivery. Classes are ongoing, so each month, you'll find a class that speaks to your stage of pregnancy. Specific topics are covered, followed by open discussion. Birthing Center tour included with third semester class. The class is led by a nurse midwife and labor and delivery nurses. Partners are welcome, and snacks will be provided. RSVPs are preferred at 970-826-8230, but walk-ins are welcome. The class if free of charge.

What: What to Expect class

When: 5 to 7 p.m. Wednesdays

More information: 970-826-8230

Prather’s Pick: Picture book teaches meaning of love

This week's picture book will have readers feeling good all over. "Love is Kind" was written by Laura Sassi and illustrated by Lison Chaperon. If you're a parent, you will enjoy sharing this book with your children.

The central character is cute Little Owl. His feathers are a mixture of brown and orange-red, and he has little black eyes and pointy ears.

It's autumn, and red and yellow leaves are falling all over the place. Other animals peer through windows in their tree trunk homes as Little Owl passes by. In one hand, he carries a green animal toy; in the other, he has some coins. Little Owl is on his way through the woods to Chipmunk's Chocolate Shoppe to buy a heart-shaped box of chocolates for Grammy's birthday.

All of a sudden, Little Owl trips over a tree root, and the coins go tumbling down a hill. They land near Beaver's Dam. Mama Beaver is pounding nails into a bunch of sticks that make up the cutest beaver house. The house has a window, and the reader can see furniture inside.

Young Beaver is paddling his canoe in the water when, all of sudden, with a "wobble ping," Little Owl's coins land in the grass right next to the canoe.

Boy, is Beaver excited! He tells Mama Beaver the tooth fairy left him silver coins after all.

Little Owl starts to tell Beaver the coins are his, but he can't hurt Beaver. So he just wishes Beaver a good day and goes on his way. Printed in the water is a message: "Love is patient."

Back home, Little Owl gets a surprise. He finds a dollar bill right there on top of the leaves. Oh, boy! Little Owl can buy the heart-shaped box of chocolates for Grammy after all. But then, he notices a sign above the door at Mrs. Mouse's house. She is missing the dollar.

Little Owl can say nothing the dollar and keep the dollar. He really wants to buy the chocolates for Grammy, but Little Owl does the right thing. He returns the dollar to Mrs. Mouse, who needs to spend it to get ready for her expected babies.

A message for the reader is printed above the stove in the house: "Love is kind. Love rejoices in the truth."

Little Owl gets another chance to buy a birthday gift for Grammy, but that doesn't work out, either. Not to worry. There's a great message for readers in the book. The story is based on 1 Corinthians 13.

The hardcover book, published by Zonderkidz (2018), costs $16.99, or you can find the book in the children's room at the Craig branch of Moffat County Libraries among the new books.

Lance Scranton: So what?

Within the margins and between the lines, we find the meaning. As teachers continually try to instill an analytical approach to reading in our young people, it is those of us who should know better that make analysis difficult. Each work of literature presented in Advanced Placement Literature classes is packed with intentional meaning, which we identify as theme — the author's intended message. It is the "why" or "so what" of the literature, and it guides the reader's purpose.

Students demand to know the "why" when you discuss just about everything, and reading with this purposeful intent allows them to discover something about themselves in everything they read. As we look around our country these past few weeks, we see the meaning behind what is being written and spoken about otherwise exemplary citizens. The search for truth and justice are the hallmarks of our system of laws, but these days it's enough to simply assert without having to substantiate or prove.

Movements abound that take the word of one over the other, without the objectivity of justice being consulted even for a second. Lives are ruined and reputations forever damaged for reasons students are all too familiar with when we discuss each in class: money, power, and status.

Money is the easy one, because the green allows people to wield power, which, in turn, garners status. Our country has never been perfect in this regard, but the blind eye of justice has historically kept things in check.

Our politicians gather money to gain power in order to get re-elected and too often erode their moral code in acquiescence to the whims of political expediency. Rationalizing the destruction of people's lives to further a political mandate is the epitome of the power-status relationship. Students are quick to point out that it seems obvious that the truth really doesn't matter in these types of relationships, and I can't disagree, because the value of reasonable analysis is jettisoned for the garnering of status.

Students understand that the ability to gather money is something that our economic system allows and generally rewards for the efforts of those willing to work the hardest. But the money-power-status relationship has gone horribly wrong when it is used to destroy people's lives in an attempt to justify the gathering of power and status.

Too bad our politicians don't have to sit in classrooms and explain to emerging adults why they do some of the things they do while hooked up to a lie detector which sends out a shock when they "misstate the facts."

Lance Scranton is a teacher and coach at Moffat County High School.

Edward Packard: Desperate for diversion

When I read that Scott Tipton said it was "bizarre" that Gov. John Hickenlooper endorsed Diane Mitsch Bush in this year's congressional race, I thought, "Huh?" Given that Diane and the governor are both Democrats, that Diane had an admirable record as a county commissioner and in the Colorado legislature, that she has been praised for her bipartisan initiatives, and that she has a spotless reputation for honesty and decency, it's totally unsurprising Hickenlooper endorsed her.

Thinking about it, I realized Tipton's purpose was to insinuate that Diane was unacceptably extreme! He couldn't dare say that directly; it would be ludicrous, as anyone can see from Diane's website, dianeforcolorado.com.

Like a "tell" in poker, calling the governor's endorsement "bizarre" reveals how desperate for diversion Tipton is. It's understandable. He has so much he needs to divert attention from.

For example, his entire record of being lock-step with the Republican leadership in failing to provide Congressional oversight of corruption in the Trump administration; failing to condemn Trump's obsequiousness to foreign despots; failing to take measures to safeguard our elections from foreign interference; ignoring Congress's constitutional authority over war-making power; running up the deficit to give outsized tax breaks to the rich and super rich; undermining the Affordable Care Act, while offering no reasonable alternative; gutting environmental protections; failing to condemn Trump's taking innocent children from their families and sending them to detention centers. The list goes on.

Edward Packard

Durango

Memorial Regional Health: Aging and falling — falls among leading cause of injury for adults older than 65

About one in four older adults falls every year — with one fall doubling the chances of falling again.

Falling is one of the leading causes of injury affecting adults older than 65, resulting in more than 3 million emergency department visits per year in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"Many falls do not cause injuries. But one out of five falls does cause a serious injury, such as a broken bone or a head injury," the CDC reports. "These injuries can make it hard for a person to get around, do everyday activities, or live on their own."

Aging is inevitable, and part of the aging process includes the loss of some function in all vital organs, tissues, and cells. This breakdown greatly increases the chances of having a fall.

If you're concerned about falls — either for yourself or a family member — Memorial Regional Health is hosting a fall prevention class Saturday, Sept. 22.

Causes of falls

Gerontologists — people who study aging — report that aging is due to the interaction of many lifelong influences, according to the National Institutes of Health.

"These influences include heredity, environment, culture, diet, exercise and leisure, past illnesses, and many other factors," NIH says.

Poor eyesight or hearing can increase the chances of a fall, as can illness and physical conditions that affect strength and balance, according to the American Academy of Family Physicians. Poor lighting and slippery throw rugs around the house can also increase the chances of a trip or slip.

"The side effects of some medicines can upset your balance and make you fall. Medicines for depression, sleep problems, and high blood pressure often cause falls. Some medicines for diabetes and heart conditions can also make you unsteady on your feet," according to the academy. "You may be more likely to fall if you are taking four or more medicines. You are also likely to fall if you have changed your medicine within the past two weeks."

Preventing falls

If you're an older adult and you're concerned about falling, it's important to talk with your doctor about things you can do to prevent your risk. A physician can evaluate your risk for falling and review your medications to see if anything is making you dizzy or sleepy, according to the CDC.

Strength and balance exercises, such as Tai Chi, foot taps, head rotations, standing marches, and other muscle-strengthening exercises, can help reduce your risk.

Simple adjustments, such as wearing more sensible shoes and removing hazards around the home, are quick prevention efforts anyone can make. If you need help, ask a family member or friend to check your home for dangers to make your home safer.

Editorial: It is in giving …

We borrow today's headline from the prayer of St. Francis of Assisi, patron saint of animals and ecology and one of the most venerated figures in the history of Christianity.

And, though the prayer, itself, has been characterized as a declaration of intent and faith, the truth of this seemingly contradictory proposition — "it is in giving that we receive" — transcends the boundaries of mere faith. It is demonstrable, and about this time every year, it is demonstrated right here in Craig, Colorado.

On Sept. 14, Craig residents turned out with open hearts and wallets to support Moffat County United Way's 2018 kickoff event — $15K Day — when the nonprofit organization sought to jump start its annual fundraising efforts by gathering $15,000 in donations in a single day. Yampa Valley Bank once again buoyed this effort by matching up to $7,500 in first-day donations.

As of Thursday morning, Annette Norton, United Way executive director, did not have the final tally on how much the Sept. 14 event raised, but based on the turnout we observed, we can only conclude this year's fundraising effort is off to a strong start.

United Way will continue raising funds through the end of December, with an ultimate goal of raising $460,000 to benefit local nonprofits. The organization set the same goal last year and — thanks to the overwhelming generosity that has always characterized this community — it surpassed that goal by $146.

While specific motivations are individual, at its heart, we are convinced that behind Moffat County's steadfast altruism lies an honest desire to help — an ineffable sense of empathy that intuitively informs us we are always stronger when we work together in a spirit of community.

Hence, our agreement with St. Francis' assertion: It is in giving that we receive.

Consider the causes United Way is able to support through our generosity: Bear River Young Life, the Boys & Girls Club, Interfaith Food Bank, Craig Senior Citizens, Freedom Hooves, Northwest Colorado Health, Reaching Everyone Preventing Suicide, Mind Springs Health, Love INC, Horizons Specialized Services, Moffat County Cancer Society, Northwest Colorado Legal Services, the Community Budget Center, Humane Society of Moffat County, and Bridges Out of Poverty, the last of which is an internal program of United Way.

When we consider the work done by these fine organizations — much of which is made possible by United Way and the funds it administers on behalf of us all — it becomes clear that, through helping such organizations, we help ourselves.

These nonprofits function as stabilizers. They offer those in need assistance with the basics of life many of us take for granted; they reach out to those in crisis and offer a hand up, and through helping others to help themselves, we better our community as a whole.

It's been said that a rising tide lifts all boats, and whether you believe such a sentiment or not, the results can be seen in the contents of your wallet. Investing in prevention and assistance pays dividends in the form of a more functional society, and that's good for everyone.

So we salute the Moffat County United Way and all the businesses and individuals who give so selflessly to support its vitally important work.

This year's fundraising drive will continue through the end of the year, and Norton said donations may be made at the local United Way office, on the organizations website, or, in many cases, through payroll deductions.

We thank those who have already given and encourage those who wish and are able to pledge their own contributions.

It is in giving that we receive.

And in this case, what we receive far outweighs the gift that prompted it.

Prather’s Pick: ‘Toaff’s Way,’ a novel about a squirrel

"Toaff's Way" was written by Newbery Medalist Cynthia Voigt. The book's black-and-white illustrations were created by Sydney Hanson. This 2018 novel for young readers is published by Alfred A. Knopf.

There's one thing about this novel — the author knows a thing or two about squirrels and other animals, too.

Toaff is a small gray squirrel and the central character of the novel. He lives with his family in a dead pine tree beside two young fir trees. The trees are on a sheep farm next to a road. A young couple and their baby live in a nearby house, known as a nest-house by the squirrels. Two dogs, Sadie and Angus, live at the farm, too, plus some cats.

There is a wooded area across the road, but Toaff's family never goes there. First of all, there is enough food right where they are. Second, the road is dangerous, because of all of the machines (cars) that run up and down it.

Toaff is a bright and curious squirrel. He has all kinds of questions about the world. As the novel opens, Toaff is sitting on a branch of a horse chestnut tree. He's feeling especially adventurous that morning, so without giving it a lot of thought, he takes a leap and lands on a branch of a nearby maple tree. That answers his question about being able to leap from one branch to another.

Boy, is Toaff proud of himself. He decides to go a little farther and leaps from one maple tree to another — four of them in a row. The fourth tree has a branch that stretches across the road. Toaff leaps and lands across the road!

He hears the quarreling voices of squirrels, and pretty soon, he gets a look at one of them. The squirrel is a rusty-red color with white circles around its eyes. Then, he sees the other squirrels. They notice Toaff, and they warn him to get out, or they will bite.

Toaff takes off running back across the road. Alas, a car is approaching and nearly runs over the squirrel. Boy, does Toaff feel weak, but he manages to get back up to his den, where he gets a good "talking to" from his mother, brother Braff, Old Criff, and others. His sister Soaff is more understanding, because she's adventurous, too. The family tells Toaff the squirrels are Churrchurrs, and they're vicious. The family hates these squirrels.

Snow is starting to fall, and Mother says there's going to be one big snowstorm. Sure enough, during the night, the old pine creaks and trembles, there's a loud noise, and the tree breaks. When Toaff wakes up the next morning, the tree is on the ground, and his family is nowhere in sight. He's alone, but he still has food and a place to sleep. There's more trouble, too, because as spring approaches, the human comes along with a machine (chainsaw), cuts the tree into pieces, and hauls them off.

Toaff faces lots of challenges but has good times, too, and he finds the answers to lots of questions.

This endearing novel is classified as "juvenile," probably middle school and above. It is shelved with new books at the Craig branch of Moffat County Libraries. It costs $16.99 in hardcover.

From Pipi’s Pasture: Dodging the little stinkers

Lately some young skunks here at Pipi's Pasture have been getting our attention. We're not sure just how many there are — at least two and maybe even three or four. They're rather small, so we think the skunks are from a litter of babies that were born here, maybe even under a storage shed in the yard. So far, these small skunks haven't raised a "stink," thank goodness.

It's not that we haven't had skunks around here before. I've written about how they have been brave enough to come out in the back and front yards and how they took cover under the patio, until Lyle filled in some holes with dirt. Their attraction to the house and corral area is probably due to the food and water I leave out for the cats.

During summer, the larger skunks were out at night, tangling with the cats and leaving their spray around the house, so the night air had a disagreeable odor, indeed. One night, before bedtime, our granddaughter Megan's dog Jewel was outside on her leash, which was hooked to a panel near the shop. We smelled skunk, and when we brought her inside, Jewel smelled a little like burned rubber — not enough to be really horrible but enough for us to realize we couldn't leave her alone outdoors after dark. She had apparently brushed against a place that had been sprayed by the skunk.

Then, suddenly, the larger skunk (or skunks) was replaced by the smaller ones. One night, Lyle went out to the shop, and when he came back to the house, a small skunk was standing on the porch, blocking the door. He was eating cat food from a container I leave there for Bud and Patches. Lyle had to wait until the skunk left before he could come inside. (Now, we put up the cat food before dark.)

Then, a couple of mornings later while we were doing chore at the corral, Megan called to me.

"Grandma, watch out for the skunk!"

The young skunk was happily eating food out of the cat pan. The cats sat around watching him. We worked around the skunk, and he finally ran into the corral and under a pile of lumber and tin left by the bulls when they tore down a shed.

Then, just a few nights ago, Megan and Jewel were outside after dark. When they got ready to come back inside, a skunk was sitting on the front porch, next to the door.

"No problem," thought Megan. "We'll just go around to the back door."

But when they got there, they found another skunk. They had to wait until the skunk left the front door.

And, so it goes. When we're choring, it isn't long until a little skunk comes along, tips the food pan to one side, and begins to eat. A skunk is often on the patio when I'm attaching the hose to the faucet, even backing up and moving forward as if he wants to charge me. (I've been making sure his tail is pointed away from me.) A skunk runs out from under my office cottage or a skunk runs out from under the shed, and skunks have been in the carport where we store the grain.

It's only a matter of time before someone gets sprayed!

Over a Cup of Coffee: One more rhubarb recipe

We've just finished picking apples off the two trees in our front yard, a bumper crop this year, as with the plum and apples trees at the Morapos ranch. Now, family members and friends are searching for recipes to use up the apples. Starting next week, this column will feature apple recipes, so if you have

a favorite recipe you would like to share with readers, please call me.

Meanwhile, this week's column features a recipe for using rhubarb. It sounds absolutely wonderful, but I haven't had time to try the recipe yet. It was sent to me by Mary Burnett, of Craig, who got it from her sister. Thanks, Mary!

Rhubarb-Ribbon Brunch Cake

• 3/4 cup sugar

• 3 tablespoons cornstarch

• 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

• 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

• 1/3 cup cold water

• 2 1/2 cups sliced fresh or frozen rhubarb

• 3 to 4 drops red food coloring

Batter:

• 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

• 3/4 cup sugar

• 3/4 cup cold butter

• 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

• 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

• 1/2 teaspoon salt

• 1 egg, beaten

• 1 carton (6 ounces) vanilla yogurt

• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Topping:

• 1 egg, beaten

• 8 ounces Mascarpone cheese

• 1/4 cup sugar

• 1/2 cup chopped pecans

• 1/4 cup flaked coconut

In a large saucepan, combine the first five ingredients until smooth. Add rhubarb. Bring to a boil. Cook and stir for two minutes or until thickened. Add food coloring. Set aside. In a bowl, combine the flour and sugar; cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Set aside one cup for topping. Add baking powder, baking soda, and salt to the remaining crumb mixture. Combine egg, yogurt, and vanilla; stir into batter until smooth. Spread into a greased, 9-inch spring-form pan. Then, combine the egg, Mascarpone cheese and sugar; spoon over the batter. Top with rhubarb mixture. Add pecans and coconut to reserved crumb mixture; sprinkle over the top. Bake at 350 degrees for 60 to 65 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack for 20 minutes. Remove sides of the pan. Cool completely. Serves 12.

Recipe courtesy of Mary Burnett of Craig. Thanks again for the recipe, Mary!

If you have apple recipes you would like to share with readers, please call me at 970-824-8809, or write to me at PO Box 415, Craig, CO 81626.

Dave Ulrich: Positive academic achievement

We have good news to start the school year and yet another reason to choose Moffat County School District! Our district earned the rating of Performance (Accredited) from the Colorado Department of Education for the 2017-18 school year! This is the second year in a row our students and staff have earned this rating.

The district's rating is a combination of many elements, including the Colorado Measures of Academic Success, or CMAS, Assessments; Post-Secondary Workforce Readiness; PSAT; and SAT. In English Language Arts/Literacy and Math assessments, the district performed better than last year. While math saw a slight increase, the district English Language Arts/Literacy scores increased by 7 percent in the top two levels of performance.

Each element is measured in two ways. First is Status Scores. Status is the percentage of students who score in the five levels defined by Colorado Department of Education (Did Not Yet Meet Expectations, Partially Met Expectations, Approached Expectations, Met Expectations, or Exceeded Expectations). The second way each element is measured is Growth Scores. Growth Scores are the measure of students' expected growth compared to their Colorado peers. I refer to this as the "value added" of our teachers.

For Status Scores, districtwide, fourth-grade students exceeded the state’s average percentage of students achieving in the top two levels in English Language Arts/Literacy. This is the first districtwide, whole grade level to top the state average on status scores since we began taking CMAS Assessments!

The 2017-18 Growth Measures showed gains, as well. Combined, as a district, students exceeded the state average growth in English Language Arts/Literacy. This is the first year for a whole subject, districtwide, that MCSD exceeded the state average growth! Gifted and Talented students exceeded average state growth by 19 percent!

While it is clear we still have much work to do, I want to say congratulations and thank you to the staff, students, parents, and community members who contributed to this result. We will continue working to ensure our teachers have the resources and professional development necessary to keep student achievement moving in a positive direction and give everyone a reason to continue to say, "I Choose Moffat County Schools."

Smooth start of school

Given the changes that marked the start of this school year, I want to highlight that we have had another smooth start. Throughout the 2017-18 school year, we went through a process of closing East Elementary School and creating a new Early Childhood Center on the East campus. The MCSD staff worked throughout the summer to ensure our spaces were ready for our teachers and students.

Members of the MCSD maintenance staff, as well as central office administration, were present at Craig Middle School and Sandrock Elementary School to monitor the new drop-off procedures. After a couple of days, it appears parents and staff have settled into a routine that is an improvement over previous years.

The maintenance staff and administration also helped with the drop-off procedures at the Early Childhood Center. After a couple of days there, I can report that parents have settled into a routine that is quick and safe for our youngest students. The new, flexible drop-off time is proving to be a popular addition to the Early Childhood Center day.

Our, students, parents, staff, and community deserve positive achievement news and a smooth start of school. I am proud of everyone's efforts to ensure we are living the district's mission statement: to educate and inspire students to thrive in an environment of change.

Dave Ulrich is superintendent of the Moffat County School District.