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By Richie Ann Ashcraft
Thursday, December 12, 2013
I don't know what it is about the holidays that makes people decide they need to launch a huge home improvement project two weeks before Christmas. Mostly, I guess, it's because at some point you look around and think "OMG, how can people possibly come over and see this dump we live in." At least, that's what happened to me this year. I'm not alone in this crazed pre-Christmas madness either ... I know at least three coworkers who have launched their own household insanity.
Everybody knows how have hated my white carpet since the day we moved in to our new house three years ago. I complain about it all the time. It's been a struggle to keep it clean with three kids, a puppy, and a cat. And, it's not just their faults. My tendency to spill red wine at times doesn't help. So, two weeks ago, I decided that the time had come to bite the bullet and have new hardwood installed. My living room was moved into the kitchen. The furnace and gas stove is off. Why did I wait until December, who knows. Who cares because I have actual real oak hardwood with mahogony accents. I'll even get to walk on it soon.
I'm embarrassed by this "before" picture but am including it for dramatic purposes. So ...
MY VERY FAVORITE PART: DETAIL AROUND THE FIREPLACE
Heck yeah! How's that for dramatic effect? Is is wrong to want to stay home, open a bottle of wine, and gaze at your hardwood all day? No, not at all and you know what I'll be doing this weekend.
Now, on to the Christmas tree, the stockings, and the cookies. Merry Christmas everybody!
By Richie Ann Ashcraft
Wednesday, December 11, 2013
By Randee Bergen
Wednesday, December 11, 2013
My daughter, the senior, spent the snow day doing homework. It’s an activity I rarely see her engaged in. In fact, seeing her on the couch, laptop on lap, books and papers spread about her… it almost threw me for a loop.
“What are you doing?”
“Trying to pass my classes, one essay at a time.”
“Oh. Awesome. I’m proud of you.”
“Yeah, and mama, do you want to help me with some extra credit?”
“Sure. Love to.”
“Okay, read this and do it.” She handed me a letter on goldenrod.
Dear Precious Parents of AP Literature Students,
As you doubtless realize from all the weeping and wailing about the house, we are reading Shakespeare’s Hamlet.
Hmmm, I haven’t heard any weeping and wailing. At least not about Shakespeare. I wondered if my daughter was aware that her class was reading Hamlet.
As the mother of three former seniors, I know how desperately you want your senior to graduate and get out into that wide world out there.
God, I love this woman, I thought. She’s reading my mind! My daughter liked her, too. She even made a ceramic whistle of her persona in art class.
So, here’s the deal. In Act I, scene iii, Polonius provides advice to his son Laertes as Laertes is about to leave for France. Here, there was a paragraph of advice in Shakespearean, a paragraph that I started reading, happily, thinking that now that I was 47, I might get Shakespeare, I might like it. After a few sentences, I was withering, no, cringing. I finished reading it, then summarized to myself: okay, so that was some advice. Yeah. Moving on.
Emulate Polonius by giving your student the benefit of your parental wisdom in one of the approved forms below.
There were several options, the most appealing, to me, being to email the advice I have for my daughter to this teacher, to let her know that my daughter I did the assignment.
I am providing you a platform to dispense advice about life, college, reality, the wide world out there, or whatever you see fit. The burden of this assignment rests upon the shoulders of your offspring who should make an appointment to interview you, asking advice about a major decision.
Yes! This will force her to listen to me. I believed this assignment was God’s answer to my prayers of the last several months. Prayers about that fine line, the fine line of holding your child’s hand and making sure everything gets completed, correctly, and turned in, and just leaving it all up to her. Though I am concerned about whether she’s going to get all of her credits, whether she’s going to complete her service learning hours, and that she is not working up to her potential, I concluded, after much praying, that I must go with the latter. I must leave her to her own devices and let her learn from her mistakes, her struggles, and her many successes as well.
And that is where we’re at. Where we’ve been for the past six weeks. And now there are only three weeks left in this semester.
The advice may be as simple or as elaborate as you choose. You may provide advice from personal experience, family precedents, or literature. By doing so, you may earn up to 50 test points for your student in AP Lit.
This sounded fun, so I got on it right away, and this is what I came up with.
My daughter who art in your senior year,
Hallowed be my advice.
Your future comes,
Your childhood be done,
On Earth as in my mind.
Give us today your best effort.
Forgive me my high expectations
As I forgive you your mediocrity these past few years.
Lead yourself not into homelessness
But deliver yourself into prosperity.
For your grades,
Your graduation and your future are yours
Now and forever.
I don’t know why I went with The Lord’s Prayer format. Maybe because God’s been involved with this whole thing, because the assignment is a gift from him. I hope no one finds it offensive. My daughter listened to it and laughed. And, I pray, she’ll do something with it.
I’ll keep you posted on that graduation thing…
By Robin Dearing
Tuesday, December 10, 2013
Last week, I had a horrible day full of fruitless work and frustration. Instead of retreating to the warmth of my bed and sulking over episodes of "Justified," I asked Bill to help me get out the Christmas decorations.
I was in a terrible mood and taking on a big project was the last thing I wanted to do, but I knew getting the tree up and our decorations out would allow me to cross something off my to-do list and make an otherwise wasted day better.
As we took the ornaments out of their boxes, we talked about where the ornaments came from, who gave them to us or where we bought them. Our tree is full of memories from our 14-plus years together. And now we have ornaments from my parents' collection, too.
I don't know why I'm surprised. Every year, I love having our Christmas tree up. Every year I try to figure out a way that I can keep it up all year. I've thought about just changing the ornaments with the seasons. In Februrary, it could become a Valentine tree. In March, an Easter tree ... Yeah, no one else thinks it's a good idea either.
I spent several hours Sunday wrapping presents while watching "Fast Times at Ridgemont High" and "Napoleon Dynamite." Bizarre movie choices, I know, but it seemed fitting since the gifts I wrapped will be opened on our fake Christmas/Festivus celebration this Sunday.
As beautiful as the snow is, these bitter cold winters we've starting having here on the Western Slope make all the argument we need to continue our new family tradition of flying south for the winter. Some may think we are not festive people. I say we are festive in a sandy beach kind of way.
By Robin Dearing
Friday, December 6, 2013
Thank you to everyone who participated in our contest. And a very special thank you to Road ID for the gift certificate and for being such a cool company providing great products.
And without further ado, the winner of the $35 Road ID gift certificate is:
For those who cannot read my crumby handwriting: BETTY COLE! You are the winner of the Road ID gift certificate.
Betty, all I need from you is your email address (you can email me at email@example.com).
Easy peasy, just like the Haute Mamas like it. Happy Friday everyone!
By Robin Dearing
Wednesday, December 4, 2013
In October, I wrote about how I was struggling with my Addison's disease. I began that post complaining about having to wear my medical-alert bracelet and how I struggle to get the darn thing on. Immediately, my Addison's peeps* suggested that I get a Road ID bracelet.
I like the one I had made for myself from a lovely Etsy shop, but I can't wear it in the water and the clasp is a challenge to get on. I decided to follow my fellow Addisonians' advice and ordered myself a new bracelet.
The interesting thing about Road ID is that while their prodcuts work great for medical alerts, they are not a medical-alert company. They focus their products on active people who are out in the environment. They market to runners, climbers, rafters, anyone who might be caught without their identification on them. And they created a line of products that are not only functional and personal, but are practical and wearable at the same time.
I ordered the Wrist ID Slim which is a comfortable narrow band, but still allows for five lines of text. This is important because I was able to include not only my name and disease, but the treatment, as well (it's so rare, not every medical technician will know what to do) and my husband's name and phone number. It comes with a silicone band that you can order in a variety of sizes and colors (I ordered an extra red band which I can easily swap out). To finish off my order, I included a medical-symbol badge.
While my Road ID is custom for my disease, you can include any information and a vareity of badges. They also have badges to wear around your neck or on your shoe. They have small sizes for children, too, which is so smart, especially if you are traveling.
But there's something extra special about this company that made me want to contact them. Their website it easy to use, as one would expect, but their customer service is completely unexpected. After I placed my order, I received not just a comfirmation email that included my name, but a personal note, as well. When my order was shipped, I received another personal email. I was expecting the form-letter emails you typically get from companies, but my contact with Road ID was different. It was more like an exchange with a friend ... a friend I didn't even know I had.
It was such a nice touch that I decided to contact the company and see if they were intested in doing a little Christmas giveaway for our dear Haute Mamas readers. They agreed, of course; they are awesome. But they are also generous. They have offered a $35 coupon to use for any of their products. Considering that my custom bracelet, badge and extra band was much less than that, you will be able to get yourself a really nice Road ID.
I will be picking a winner on Friday, Dec. 6. All you have to do is leave a comment here or leave a comment on our GJ Haute Mamas Facebook page. If you leave a comment for us and "like" Road ID's Facebook page, I'll enter your name twice.
*Thankfully, there are two Addison's disease support pages on Facebook where I've not only been able to meet other people with this crazy rare disease, but get valuable advice as well.
By Randee Bergen
Wednesday, December 4, 2013
Beep, beep, beep. I had set my alarm for 4:30, mostly to get up and check the weather.
It was raining when I went to bed and was supposed to turn to snow overnight.
If it didn’t look too bad outside, I would get up and go swim laps. If it did look bad, I’d go back to sleep for a while.
There was a soft glow coming from the living room. The white lights of the Christmas tree. The same soft glow was just beyond my bedroom window curtains. The white Christmas lights running along the front side of my house.
I pulled the curtains aside and peered outside. Snow. About three inches. And still coming down. Sleet-like.
I turned alarm number two on – 6:00 a.m. Alarm number two was the lazy alarm or, for today, the bad-weather-can’t-really-be-expected-to-get-up-and-exercise alarm.
Back into bed. I wrapped my down comforter around me like a sleeping bag. Oh, what a feeling.
And then visions of accidents started dancing in my head.
Not me. I’ve been driving in this stuff for decades. Not my vehicle. It’s a big SUV with four-wheel drive.
My daughter. Seventeen, and responsible for getting both her and her younger sister to school. In her tiny, old Honda CRX. With no experience driving on roads like these other than once last winter.
I had talked to her last night about quadrupling her stopping distance. Her response was, “Yeah. Yeah, mom, I know.” Actually, you don’t know. No one knows, really, until you smash into the back of the car in front of you. Or, you slide right on through an intersection because you didn’t start braking a half a block ahead of time. That’s when you get it, when you say, “Oh, so that’s what my mom was trying to tell me.”
Maybe I would just drive them to school. The thing was, Addy had to work after school so she’d need her vehicle to get there.
The other thing was, she needed the experience. Even if it resulted in a wrecked car, she had to learn at some point how to drive in such conditions.
Back and forth, back and forth. Drive them and keep them safe or send them out into the snowy, slippery world?
Just one of many fine lines to walk as a parent.
I wasn’t getting back to sleep. I wasn’t enjoying my last hour in my cozy bed.
And then my phone rang. My cell phone. Right there on my night stand. 5:23 a.m.
The call was coming from a number in my contacts and I recognized the name. A colleague of mine. It could only mean one thing…
I quickly called the next teacher on the telephone tree, texted my daughters to not get up, and then, no, though the stress had run out of me like a bucket of the melted white stuff, I did not snuggle in and go back to sleep. I was wide awake, celebrating the gift of a day, embracing it, joy emanating from me like the glow from the Christmas tree just beyond my bedroom door.
The gift of a day. A free day. No obligations whatsoever. There’s nothing quite like it.
By Robin Dearing
Tuesday, December 3, 2013
My little family was lucky enough to be able to spend our Thanksgiving holiday down south in New Orleans. Actually, we barely made it out of the French Quarter our entire trip and that was fine with us.
I loved being in a city founded in the 18th century. We are such a relatively new country, I enjoy being surrounded by a city that wears its aged patina with grace and elegance (it helps that they wash down Bourbon Street every morning).
We had a delightfully fun and delicious Thanksgiving supper at Arnaud's where the champagne was bubbly, the food was savory and the service impeccible. We drank amazing cocktails — several times — at the Irvin Mayfield's jazz club which just happened to be part of our hotel. I had an amazing muffaletta at Cafe Amelie. Our final dinner in Louisiana was at the renowned Commander's Palace. I could go on and on, but instead of boring you with tales of delicious creole food and cocktails, take a look at a photo essay of our trip.
Most of these pictures were taken by Margaret who is proving to have a good eye when it comes to capturing texture, detail and finding interesting angles.
By Randee Bergen
Thursday, November 28, 2013
Today my daughters and I drove seven hours to my hometown where 84% of my relatives still live. We weren’t in town but an hour before everyone started gathering at the swimming pool.
It’s what we do. We’re a family of swimmers.
My mother is partly to blame. She did synchronized swimming at some point in her younger years. And when I was a kid she used to have my siblings and me swim around an island every time we were out for a day at the lake. My dad contributed, too, with comments, while we were young, like “Go play on the highway” and “Go play in the riptide.” Later, it was, “We didn’t come all the way out here for nothing! I don’t care if it’s 55 degrees and raining, you will water ski!” as he picked us up and threw us overboard.
My sister and I ended up on the high school swim team by default. We couldn’t run, but man, we could swim in anything and do it for forever. And I lifeguarded back in the day, the most coveted summer job in town. My sister’s three children all grew up with USA Swimming and were outstanding high school swimmers. My girls were raised at the pool, too—USA Swimming for many years, high school swimming and diving, and now lifeguarding during the summer. My brothers’ boys, who are about the same age as my kids, were excellent on USA Swimming, too, as well as on their high school team. And they also lifeguard.
Often times we’ll meet at the pool to swim laps or just visit while treading water in the deep end, but this time it was mostly about the next generation. My sister’s kids are all grown and married now (and all three have returned to the hometown) and are starting families of their own. There are three young ones so far with another due in a couple of weeks. The main purpose for being at the pool this time was to play with the kids and ooo and ahhh at their nascent swimming skills.
I went to the pool a bit early to swim some laps before the relatives arrived. I thought my sister might appear and do the same and that we’d meet in a lane, totally unplanned. It wouldn’t be a coincidence if she had; it’s just what we do.
Soon my niece was there with her two little ones, the youngest of whom—Owen Daniel—I met for the first time tonight. Then everyone else trickled in. 14 of us. (A few stayed home.)
I was in the water for two hours, swimming laps, playing with the little girls, treading and visiting with my nieces and nephews, and then holding my easy-going, mellow grand-nephew for about 45 minutes in the baby pool. He was fascinated with the lady with the purple head (I had a cap on) and four eyes (goggles up on my forehead ).
We stayed not until the kids got tired but until closing time, catching up on everyone’s lives while hanging out in the water.
It’s just what we do.
By Robin Dearing
Monday, November 25, 2013