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Ending a decade of fun

By Richie Ann Ashcraft
Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Regular readers have probably noticed that the Haute Mamas have been less than consistent at posting lately. Our enthusiasm and exuberance has been slowly waning in the past year. It’s come time for us to admit that we are done blogging.

Like a really good book, the last page is bittersweet. We’re very proud of the work we have done in the past 10 years to make it as successful as it has been. It became more than we ever thought it would or intended it to be.

Our first post was weird and awkward, so here’s a quote from our second post:

May 3, 2006: “And I counter her tales of teenaged angst with anecdotes about my precocious, 5-year-old daughter, Margaret — how she has blossomed into an amazing reader in kindergarten, how she is more concerned with being funny then being good, with her confusion between Jesus and the Easter Bunny.
Our daily momfest now includes the sleepless stories Richie tells us about her newborn, Soren — how she was misguided by the parenting books, how sleeping for three hours gets her really excited and how she never knew she could love someone so much.
We’ll never run out of topics to discuss and stories to tell. When we pitched this idea for this blog to the managing editor, I assured him that my daughter is a veritable fountain of entertaining stories. Richie chimed in, “My kid … he’s just a fountain?”

And that’s all it was ever about — just cracking ourselves up. We thought we were so funny that others surely would laugh along with us.

Laugh we did, a lot. Sometimes we even cried a little bit too. And the kids just grew and grew until writing about them no longer seems appropriate.

It was good enough at times to attract a bit of celebrity attention. Never in our wildest dreams did we imagine that we would laugh with Rachel Ray or get parenting advice from Joan Lunden. Richie interviewed football player Jerry Rice — if ever it needed to be said — the ‘hell?

There was really cool swag like Heelies for adults (NOT allowed on Sentinel premises anymore BTW) and less than awesome products like poop straps and exploded head lice remover. (EWW!)

In between all the lines, it has been obvious that the most important thing behind this blog has always been friendship. Rest assured, we will never stop debating about whether pie or cake is better. We will never stop laughing about retro recipe cards or tell you why they are so funny. And, we will always be grateful to the people who read this blog (and wrote too; Lynn and Randee) and made it a success.

That second post ended by saying: “What we hope to accomplish here is to give our perspectives on the condition that is being “mom?”

It took us nearly 10 years, but we have finally accomplished that one simple objective.

Let’s leave it at that.

Robin and Richie
Haute Mamas



The fun of foraging

By Richie Ann Ashcraft
Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Speaking of trying new things, we've been out foraging in the forest for free food the past couple of weekends.

It's time to harvest pinyon nuts, in case you didn't know, and the trees are loaded this year. Some Native Americans say that hitting the trees with sticks will cause an early and harsh winter. Sorry if we caused that but these little babies are just SO good. You can learn more about harvesting pinyon nuts here — http://www.motherearthnews.com/real-food/pinon-nuts-zmaz77jazgoe.aspx

Unfortunately I don't have a picture of the pine nuts because we eat them as fast as we find them.

I do have this picture though of some prickly pear cactus fruit we gathered.

When I was a kid, we went to the Grand Canyon and I remember buying some cactus candy that looked like Turkish Delight. So, we figured cactus fruit was probably pretty good. Well, guess what, it's not. After juicing these, we realized that cactus juice is pretty gross. I'm over it.

What's not gross though are chokecherries. Two weekends ago, we joined the many others picking chokecherries on the sides of the Grand Mesa. We came back with just enough juice to make six jars of chokecherry syrup. It is delish! If you want to forage for food, I say skip the cactus and focus on the chokecherries. And, leave the pine nuts for us.



Trying new things

By Richie Ann Ashcraft
Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Soren is a fourth-grader now and in the height of his kidness.

This is the year that he's decided to try new things. I've always loved Soren's sense of adventure and fearlessness in the face of something unconquered. He's got determination, to say the least, and he uses it to his advantage. Most the time, he's the smallest kid on the team. He's not the fastest runner or the most coordinated. But coaches and teachers notice pretty quick that whatever he may lack in body, he makes up for triple-fold in listening and effort. It makes him a good player.

This year, a friend of his wooed him away from baseball and into Flag football. He's spend the last three weeks learning the game from the ground up. Offense, defense, fakes .... He walks around wearing a mouth gaurd most days so his speech is jumbled and slurred. He wears cleats in the house and now considers himself an expert at NFL rules.

He's becoming a guy — through and through.

Imagine my surprise when my football player came home and announced that he was going to audition for a play. He told me he likes plays and he wanted to give it a shot.

He doesn't typically dance. Or sing. Or act for that matter and I wondered if he really understood what he was obligating himself to do. So, I asked him if he was okay with projecting, and memorizing lines, and wearing a costume. In front of a large group of audience members.

And, he says he is. So, the next couple of months, he will be switching from football practice to play practice.

I think it's great. Anytime is a great time to try something new. I can't wait to see him make his first touchdown, then bow at his first curtain call. I also can't wait to see what he'll choose next.




Cabinet organization obsession

By Richie Ann Ashcraft
Friday, September 18, 2015

A couple of weeks ago my coworker asked me if I'd seen anything new or interesting on Pinterest. I paused because I didn't want to confess the things that I had been looking at and pinning.

I have two new boards: Pie and House Stuff.

Pie — well, we all know that I like it a LOT! I've pinned all kinds, from a sugar cream to blueberry peach. But, I haven't made pie in at least a month, so there's that.

Under House Stuff, you'll find a pile of pins regarding kitchen cupboard organization. Don't look at them. Trust me on this, looking at kitchen organization will cause an obsession with drawers and dividers and tension rods.

But, my kitchen was a mess! It had reached the point where I just couldn't function in it anymore. The other morning, I was searching for three small containers for the boys' lunches in this mess —

Obviously, I couldn't find anything much less match a lid. Things were falling out on my head. So, I consulted Pinterest and found that many people like to organize their plasticware lids with simple plate racks. Uh, duh, of course! I bought one yesterday and before I left for work this morning I changed this mess into this —

Did you just hear angels sing? 'Cuz I did.

It doesn't stop there. I've added plastic lining to the drawers, cleaned out and paired down my "tool" drawer, then folded my kitchen rags into neat rows. Pinterest peeps suggest rolling all of your dish textiles but nice stacks is good enough for me.

And, some of the pins are just so dang simple and I kick myself for not thinking of them myself. Who spends time thinking about this stuff? Not me. So, I'm grateful for the bloggers who offer very simple solutions to things such as  rubber bands to keep those pesky messy boxes of plastic in place.

My spice drawer is my best accomplishment so far. I say so far, because I haven't even tackled the food storage space in my kitchen yet. That same coworker suggested I put all of my spices in a drawer instead of stacking them in an upper cabinet. Duh! I did it, but the bottles kept sliding around. My addition of plastic drawer liner solved all my problems (Hint: I fastened this liner down with four sticky picture mounting squares from my junk drawer.)

I'd love to hear your kitchen organization ideas, especially how I'm going to tackle the food related parts of my kitchen. Should I tackle the fridge next or those weird to store appliances such as the crockpot? I'd love the advice.


Savoring these last days of summer

By Richie Ann Ashcraft
Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Fall officially begins Sept. 22 and we Ashcrafts have been savoring every last bit of summer that we can.

As I was laying in our new tent last weekend listening to the snores of my boys and the steady drumming of rain on the roof I was thinking about what a great and long summer we've had. I was counting my blessings. Thankful for the many nights we've had in our tent, for the fish we've caught and ate, and even thankful for that big one we let go. I was feeling thankful for the balance between getting out in nature and finding time to spend with family and friends in the city. I was thinking about the birthdays that slipped by (Marek, 6, and Jonas, 8).

And I was thinking about what else we could cram in before the snow flies. September certainly hasn't slowed us down yet.



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!

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