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Merry whatever you want this season to be

By Robin Dearing
Tuesday, December 16, 2014

For the last few years, I've written about how we celebrate fake Christmas/Festivus. Now that Margaret and my neice and nephew are older, we all like to travel for Christmas ... somewhere warm with sand and all-inclusive cocktails. 

This year is no exception.

Since we won't be in town on the actual holiday, we get to pick a day to celebrate that suits our schedule. Saturday was the day we held our annual, fake Christmas. It was wonderful. The best gift was spending time with this little bundle:

That is my precious granddaughter, Miss Averi Jean. Adorable, I know.

Averi was born Dec. 3, well over a week past her doctors-have-no-idea-when-a-baby-is-going-to-come due date. Her mama, Lacie, was amazing through a very challenging, induced labor and Averi was born with no complications. I bawled my eyes out. It was the most amazing thing I've ever witnessed.

Sean and Lacie have eased into parenthood with so much grace and aplomb, you'd think this was their third kid, not their first. It's so fun to watch them with their baby. They love her so much and are so happy to have started their family.

With Averi's arrival, I also made an immediate transformation. I went from doting mom full of middle-age malaise to insta-grandmother. Ask about the baby, I have many, many pictures to show you. Many. I bought groceries and made casseroles for the new parents. The only thing that has stopped me from taking up permanent residence on their couch is a terrible cold I came down with during finals week.

My illness didn't allow for my regular scheduled fake Christmas festivities. Instead, this year (for the first time ... ever), Bill did a bunch of the shopping and errand running. It was so wonderful. Bill also started getting up with Margaret, making her lunches and breakfasts and taking her to school. Even though I've been very ill, it was like a mini-pre-vacation.

So now that our presents are opened (I got exactly what I wanted a Scrub Daddy and a Kindle Paperwhite) and Hickory Farms sausages are eaten, I'm just floating this week. I still have a bit of a cough and I get tired and sweaty cleaning the house, but it's so lovely to have a bit of time when I'm not rushing to the next thing I gotta do.

I think this is my favorite part of our fake Christmas, the time I get to slow down and relax and focus on feeling better. I've cut back on a lot of things I used to do around Christmas. I no longer send out Christmas cards or make ornaments with Mar or bake. We've cut back on how much we spend and what we buy. And I breath a lot easier for it. 

I'm running all the time and I'm exhausted all the time. I was sick three times this semester. I've worn myself down to a nub. Cutting back is a wonderful feeling and I'm going to make it part of my holiday season every year. 

I hope all of our wonderful Haute Mama readers have exactly the holiday season they want or at least need ... and if not, I hope your holiday season is full of delicious cocktails and meat sticks.

Merry Christmas!

13 comments

Peekers

By Richie Ann Ashcraft
Monday, December 15, 2014

The boys are starting to get very excited for Christmas. And they've tried hard to convince me that it is safe to put wrapped presents under the Christmas tree because this year they are mature enough not to peek.

They've been peekers every since they were little and I'm smart enough to know that this Christmas is no different than any other.

Jonas bought a couple of presents on Saturday that we wrapped up. We didn't have a box for one item, so I put it in a small Tupperware.

About an hour later I hear Marek yell "The top is red!"

Then silence.

Then — "Soren, it's a Tupperware!"

Uh huh. But, they insist they can do it and I trust them. I trust them enough that I wrapped a few more presents and put them under the tree. If they get through the paper, and I know they will, they're going to discover a box of Cheez-Its, spaghetti noodles, and fruit snacks. What's in the box will remain a Christmas mystery.

Any other Christmas tricks to prevent peeking that I should be aware of? I love to know.

1 comments

Our Christmas tree

By Richie Ann Ashcraft
Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Here's the 2014 Ashcraft Christmas tree:

Last Sunday, I made gathered up the family and took them on an adventure to the Covered Bridge Ranch in Montrose. I know that driving all the way to Montrose just to get a Christmas tree seems a bit ridiculous. and, I know there are plenty of trees in closer lots that support local nonprofits and such. But, I wanted the cutting experience. I wanted the adventure more than the tree. Mostly, I wanted it to be an enjoyable family experience.

This farm delivered, starting with the beautiful covered bridge entryway decorated for Christmas. This picture is from their website, obviously, since there hasn't been even the tiniest snowflake in the valley yet.

Upon arrival, we were directed by very friendly folks to get on the hayride. Much to our happiness, this included Kip and on a side note, this is one of the most dog-friendly places I've ever been to.

(This picture is also from their website. I was having so much fun I forgot to take any pictures. Doh!)

So, we rode the tractor-trailer down to the field of trees where another friendly guy gave us a quick lesson in Christmas trees. He suggested we get a Spruce-Pine because they are kid-friendly (meaning not poky,) pretty and the most economical. He said they were "America's Christmas tree" because they are the most popular tree sold in the United States.

Sounded good to us. We walked all through the field, discussing the flaws of every tree until we found just the right one. Not too big, not too small, not too wide, but just right.

It took the boys about 20 minutes to cut it down. Marty and I didn't help at all. They took turns and bossed each other then yelled "TIMBER" at just the right time. We carried it to the road and waited to be picked up by the hayride for the return journey. As we waited, Kip took a little tinkle on the top of our tree. Guess it was ours.

When we got back to the main area, the friendly guys wrapped our tree while we petted the animals, browsed the gift shop, and watched the boys roast free marshmallows over the open fire pit.

On the way out, the tree was tied to the top of the car and we were back on our way. Everyone LOVED getting our Christmas tree this year and talked enthusiastically about returning next year.

If you haven't gotten your tree yet, I highly suggest a trip to Montrose. We love the Covered Bridge Ranch!

0 comments

Teach them to dance!

By Richie Ann Ashcraft
Friday, December 5, 2014

I know this video is supposed to be about a cute little girl dancing on the subway platform. But, I clap for her green-haired mommy (?) who not only let's her dance on the subway station, but teaches her to dance like it's the Telluride Bluegrass Festival.

15 comments

Hello Santa!

By Richie Ann Ashcraft
Monday, December 1, 2014

Nope, I'm not done shopping. I haven't even made a list yet. I haven't baked cookies or addressed any Christmas cards. Some would say I'm a holiday slacker, followed by a detailed description of all the stuff you bought on Black Friday and how you're all done. Followed by the sad "poor you" look.

Whatever, I'm Gen. X. I'll get to it.

We did, however, check this one thing off the list yesterday.

Notice that list Jonas had to share with Santa. I'm pretty confident that he'll take care of everything before Christmas Eve.

2 comments

A Thank You Letter for Thanksgiving

By Randee Bergen
Monday, December 1, 2014

Giving thanks at Thanksgiving is customary; giving gifts is not. But a gift is exactly what I got from my daughter.

Addy wrote me a thank you letter and, really, what better gift could anyone ever ask for?

Dear Mom,

Thank you for giving me the gift of life and exposing me to the most beautiful parts of it. Thank you for protecting me. Thank you for accepting me. Thanks for my perfect little sister. Thank you for the most beautiful, magical childhood I could have ever asked for.

Thank you for being so strong for us when I know it was hard for you. Thank you for showing me how to not only survive excruciating pain, but thrive through it. Thank you for being such a good example.

Thank you for teaching me that nirvana is a twenty-dollar campsite and some breakfast burritos in a beautiful place. Thank you for teaching me how to read and write English and music. Thank you for teaching me how to teach. Thank you for teaching me how to love. Thank you for teaching me how to truly live.

Thanks for singing to me. Thanks for taking me to the beach. Thanks for dinners at your house even though I’m in college. Thanks for the hikes. Thanks for the ukulele. Thanks for finding Jim. Thanks for all the Christmases. Thanks for taking pictures. Thanks for having dogs.

Thanks for being you.

Love you,

Addy

2 comments

Wordless Wednesday: Little brother armor

By Richie Ann Ashcraft
Wednesday, November 26, 2014

0 comments

Wordless Wednesday: Lego Land

By Richie Ann Ashcraft
Wednesday, November 19, 2014

27 comments

Four Sons Plus a Sister

By Randee Bergen
Tuesday, November 18, 2014

 

Six-foot-four walks through the door

In fatigues, fatigued

Fists tight, jaw clenched

Tears in eyes

Looks down on three-foot-ten

Counts to ten

One son, one of four

Plus a sister

Looks up to his father

Tears in eyes

Sorry he swung at a teacher

This son, one of four

Plus a sister

Angry, on the edge

Because dad went to war

Mom lost it, lost the kids

Four sons

Plus a sister

Then needed to be fostered

Dad came home

PTSD in his bags

No wife, no mother

For four sons

Plus one sister

Two sons

Plus one sister

Back with dad

No job, little income

Parenting experience near none

Another son, a toddler

Back home now

One father, four kids

Trying, struggling

Dads Group, therapy

Coping strategies

Visitations with the mother

Until this mother

Becomes another

No show

One father, four kids

The littlest son

Is yet to come

Fatigued father

Breathes now

Uncurls fists

And scoops up

His son

This one son

And hugs him

To his fatigued chest.

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Old-school learning

By Richie Ann Ashcraft
Monday, November 17, 2014

Double-take? Yup, that's Jonas playing with my old school Speak-n-Math from the early 80s — and it still works.

I begged my parents for a Speak-n-Spell because I LOVED spelling. But what you want and what you need are not always the same thing. My parents bought me the awesome (not) Speak-n-Math.

SPELL — I said — SPELL!

Probably no wonder why it survived 30 years in great condition and I became a reporter.

Jonas loves it and plays it often. I'm happy to pass it along to him.

2 comments
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