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Flat Stanley reaches India

By Richie Ann Ashcraft
Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Jonas was getting a little worried about Flat Stanley because we hadn't heard from him since he left for India last month. Imagine his excitement when I finally announced he had received his first email from Rachel explaining that Flat Stanley had gotten a little misplaced in the Move To India shuffle. He had been placed in her Kannada book.

Don't worry, we had to look that up too. Here ya go: (Wikipedia: Kannada /ˈkaːnədə/[7][8] (ಕನ್ನಡ kannaḍa, IPA: [ˈkʌnːəɖɑː]) or Canarese/Kanarese /kænəˈriːz/,[9] is a Dravidian language spoken predominantly by Kannada people in the South Indian state of Karnataka, and by linguistic minorities in the states of Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Kerala, and Goa. With roughly 40 million native speakers,[10] who are called Kannadigas (Kannaḍigaru), Kannada ranks 33rd in the list of most spoken languages in the world. It is one of the scheduled languages of India and the official and administrative language of the state of Karnataka.)

After she found him though, they went out on an adventure and found some goats in Devegere village where she lives: 

Then, they contemplated taking classical dance lessons together in Gollahalli village. Jonas wonders if the writing is Kannada? Kannadian?

Then, Rachel introduced Stanley to this boy:

He was heading home from school on a Saturday afternoon wearing his white school uniform.  Jonas was pretty glad he doesn't have to wear all-white to school or go to school on Saturdays.

The project is off to a good start and we can't wait to see what other adventures the Rachel and Flat Stanley share with us.






Fun at the Fair!

By Richie Ann Ashcraft
Tuesday, July 21, 2015

I had never been to a fair as far as I can recall until I moved to Mesa County. I'm not a farm kid and as far as I knew, fairs were for farm kids.

But in the past several years, my children have made me appreciate the Mesa County Fair more than I ever have and now I know that you don't have to be a farm kid to enjoy the sense of community and some old-fashioned fun.

I like to take the boys to see the animals. If you're not a farm kid this is a great and maybe only opportunity to get an up-close look at farm animals. My boys loved petting the goats and marveling at the size of the pigs. Marek saw a milk cow for the first time and was both amazed and disgusted after learning exactly where milk comes from.

This year they decided to enter one of the 'eating' contests, then went on to eat corn dogs and giant sno-cones, and huge lemonades. Eating stuff in really big portions is par for the course at the fair!

Another first was our presence at the PBR Bull Riding event. My boys tried their best to find cowboy clothes; choosing pearl snap shirts and camo shorts, they fit right in.

They were pretty impressed with the bulls and their riders once they figured out what the rules and the buzzer was for. We watched it clear through until half-time (is that what it's called in bull riding?) but then Brown's Carnival turned on the lights. (A huge thanks to our friend Danny Brown for letting us enjoy is spectacular show!) They had never seen the carnival at night and no bull rider could keep them from resisting it's siren call.

They rode rides for hours. It was the first time that all three were tall enough to ride anything on the midway. They were thrilled and kept testing their bravery with every new ride. I stood around kicking dust and guarding the giant lemonades. I kept looking at my watch because I was bored and tired and I suck like that. But, the look on their kid faces as they'd roll out of the Gravitron for the 15th time was priceless. It was a beautiful summer evening and we were at the carnival. It's the stuff they write country songs about and I finally let it go. So they go to bed really late. So I was tired. So what. It's summer and it's all good.

Nearly 11:30 and the boys exit the Yo-Yo and I see the man operating the ride say something to Soren. He's shaking a finger at him. Turns out Soren kicked his shoe off one too many times and he was told he couldn't ride it anymore. It made me laugh (secretly) because it was all too appropriate for the evening to end with an Ashcraft getting kicked off a carnival ride.

Yeah, it was a great night at the fair! Thanks Mesa County — see ya next year!







Marek’s Birthday, with words

By Richie Ann Ashcraft
Thursday, July 9, 2015

I keep trying to say something about Marek's birthday but I just can't get any words out about it.

He's my baby afterall and to see him turning six just reminds me of how quickly it is all slipping by.

Marek would get this. He's wise beyond his six years often giving me words of wisdom instead of the other way around.

His cake is the perfect example. We searched the net for the cake he wanted. He decided on a Spiderman cake with buildings and red fondant frosting.

Yeah, I can't make that. I aimed for something a little more realistic that just included spidy's face. He wanted to help. The more we decorated, the uglier it got. A Spiderman cake is really, really hard to make! When almost finished I laughed and told Marek that our cake didn't look anything like the picture on Pinterest. (And thought to myself, this cake is downright ugly!)

Just matter-of-fact, he replied, "I think it's awesome! Not everything has to be perfect mom!!"

He's right, of course. He helped decorate his own birthday cake, with is mom, and the cake itself really wasn't all that important.

At six, Marek still says those cute little boy things, only his comments are getting smarter. Things like, "Mom, we'd better cover the pool so the world's water doesn't get in it. We don't want to swim in world water."

 He still crawls in my bed nearly every night and he always has a hug and kiss ready for me when I get home. He's an easy boy to take care of and despite my best efforts to be firm, he knows how to melt his mom's heart.

Happy Birthday Marek — I'm fine with letting you stay little for as long as you want. And, you're right, it doesn't always have to be flawless to be perfect.




Wordless Wednesday: Happy Birthday Marek!

By Richie Ann Ashcraft
Wednesday, July 8, 2015


Flat Stanley goes to India

By Richie Ann Ashcraft
Thursday, June 25, 2015

Exciting news — Flat Stanley is hitching a ride to India!

Our Features Reporter Rachel Sauer announced a few days ago that she is going to India to teach journalism for awhile. Yay Rachel!

I got to thinking — hmmm — would she consider taking Flat Stanley? It never hurts to ask, so I did, and she said yes, and then I told Jonas and HE WAS SO EXCITED!!!!

He really enjoys reading the Flat Stanley book series and wrote a couple of book reports while in first grade. This sort of project is just up his alley!

We looked on the globe for India and he was amazed that it was exactly on the other side of the world.

We printed the draw-your-own template from www.flatstanleyproject.com

Jonas set to work immediately drawing in Stanley's body, adding a camera, a pen, a notebook (uh, journalism school) and a pocket knife. He worked for a couple of days before declaring Stanley ready for his trip.

This morning Jonas came into The Daily Sentinel and gave Flat Stanley to Rachel. I'm not sure which one is more excited about this project.

I'll be blogging about Flat Stanely's adventures with Rachel, of course. And, Jonas is hoping to rock the Show and Tell when school starts!

Have fun Stanley and Rachel! We can't wait to hear from you!


The downside to reading

By Richie Ann Ashcraft
Monday, June 8, 2015

"Mom," Jonas whispers, "Do you know what it says in the boys' bathroom?"

(Oh GAWD!) "What?"

"It says Justin Bieber is an idiot."

PHEW ... "You shouldn't read the bathroom walls."

"Okay, mom, bye."


Thoughts on 45

By Robin Dearing
Wednesday, June 3, 2015

"You're 45? You're old," that's what my beloved daughter said to me at my birthday dinner on Tuesday.

Yes, I'm 45 and I'm old, but let me assure you that old is better than dead. Having said that, right now I feel every one of my 540 months.

The last three weeks have been a perfect storm of illness, frenzied activity intermixed with kick-ass travel and fun. 

A week ago Monday, Bill and I joined Margaret's choir group on a red-eye flight from Denver to the Big Apple. Margaret and her group visited pretty much every important and/or touristsy site in Manhattan. She saw Wicked on Broadway and the Blue Man Group off Broadway. Mar went to the top of Rockefeller Center and even got to go to the top of One World Trade Center on the second day the observation deck was open.

Bill and I coughed and blew our noses as we walked over 31 miles of Manhattan over the same week. We sought out many gluten-free meals and had cocktails at Fraunces which is one of the oldest buildings in Manhattan. We visited the Metropolitan Museum and walked Central Park. Every evening we'd lay our weary heads on our pillows utterly exhausted.

Being literally sick and tired did not stop us, but it did take it's toll.

Notice how my dark, under-eye circles go nicely with my new shirt. Luckily, we were there to see and not been seen (except in the million selfies I felt compelled to take — see above pic).

Sick or not, Bill and I had a great time made better by the fact that we got to see Margaret and even share some experiences together.

By the time we got back to Happy Valley, we celebrated our exhaustion by embarking on a harried house cleaning followed by deck repair. Yes, I chose to spend my 45th birthday at the home-improvement store buying lumber. See, I knew Bill didn't want to start the deck work, but since it was my birthday he had to agree. Yeah, I'm sneaky like that.

But don't think I didn't spoil myself a little bit on my birthday. I totally bought myself some fine-quality, under-eye concealer. Go 45!


‘Welcome to Subway’

By Richie Ann Ashcraft
Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Last weekend Jonas announced that he was going to cook dinner and it was going to be called "Make your own Subway Night!"

All we needed was to go to the store and stock up on bread, meats and vegetables. The best part, he informed me, was I didn't have to do anything! (Except all that going to the store stuff, and cutting vegetables, and stuff like that.)

It only took me a second to decide it sounded like a pretty good idea. If my children are spoiled in any way (and they so are) it is in that I indulge their ideas like this.

So, off to the store. Turns out, Safeway sells just the right kind of bread. And, all the fixin's. Sticking true to theme, we also bought individual lunch-sized bags of chips like those at Subway and apple juice boxes. Two things that are rarely in our house. And, we needed parchment paper to wrap the sammies in.

Jonas had one last request. We needed some plastic gloves just like the sandwhich "artists" wear. Um. So, indulge away, I asked the deli clerk at the store if we could have a couple of pairs. She thought it was weird until I explained our dinner plan, then she thought it was SUPER cute and gave Jonas a whole handful. SCORE!!!!

We had three sandwich choices. Ham, turkey or the classic spicy Italian. There were all the usual fixins, plus ketchup, mayo, Miracle Whip, Siracha mayo, oil and vinegar with salt and pepper.

Our family had a great time choosing their sandwich and watching Jonas fix it. He's say "Would you like a meal deal?" and point to the chips and juice boxes. Then, he put the wrapped sandwich, chips, drink, and a napkin into a plastic grocery bag. Then he'd say "Eat Fresh!" which made every single one of his customers smile. :)

Definate thumbs-up to Subway night Jonas-style!


Freshman year is one for the books

By Robin Dearing
Thursday, May 21, 2015

I'm not sure who is happier that school is out for summer, Margaret or me. 

Getting up at 6 a.m. to get breakfasts and lunches ready for Bill and Mar and then driving Mar to school and then working my full day has really worn me down. But I know that Margaret is equally exhausted.

Margaret's freshman year has been quite the challenge. On top of a full class schedule, Margaret has been taking guitar and drums lessons and ballet and jazz dance lessons. Phew, I'm tired just driving her around.

But it was all worth it. 

Margaret pulled a report card of all As, including three A+ grades.

One of the A+ grades was in her Honors Literacy class. Bill and I had to fight Margaret and eventually had to give her an ultimatum to get her to take Honors Lit. She was sure it was going to be too much for her. Turns out it wasn't too much, she excelled and kicked all kinds of literacy ass. 

I am so proud of her and, honestly, I'm in awe of her work ethic.

We never have to remind her to get her work done. Ever. I have no idea when or how she does her homework. All I know is that she gets the work done and that work earns her As. So, I just keep making lunches and driving her to lessons. 

I've become a Margaret cheerleader which is quite possibly the funnest job a mama can have.

But now it's summer. Bill is done with school and so is Mar. I'm still working and will be for most of the summer. Regardless, "summer" for me means no more early mornings. And means one happy haute mama.


The List: Keeping kids busy this summer

By Richie Ann Ashcraft
Thursday, May 21, 2015

Each week, our Trending page runs a list. It can be and has been about pretty much everything. But, often it's hard to keep bringing fresh ideas to the page and editor Ann Wright calls upon those around her to help. Here's The List that I rattled off the top of my head Monday afternoon and appears our print edition today. Enjoy!

School’s out! Some ideas for keeping kids busy this summer:

1 Play HORSE or PIG

2 Play hopscotch

3 Go fishing

4 Catch bugs

5 Read about bugs

6 Ride bikes

7 Make ice cream

8 Create an obstacle course

9 Go for a picnic

10 Put together a time capsule


11 Hike

12 Make a bird feeder

13 Paint toenails in bright colors


14 Make a movie

15 Chalk Twister on the lawn and play

16 Wash rocks

17 Paint rocks

18 Build a working volcano

19 Camp in the backyard

20 Go on a scavenger hunt

21 Make mud pies

22 Play at the swimming pool

23 Blow bubbles

24 Build a derby car

25 Wash the car by hand

26 Make homemade pizza

Source: Richie Ann Ashcraft, Haute Mamas at GJSentinel.com.

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