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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.


Betsy Ross flag cake and good riddance to preschool snacks

By Richie Ann Ashcraft
Monday, May 18, 2015

Last week I was celebrating the joy of the end of preschool snacks.

When Soren started preschool I was an over zealous mom who poured time into preschool snacks wanting nothing more than to blow those little tykes away with my use of green grapes and mini marshmallows. If anything, I impressed myself and thought for sure I was nailing it on every snack day.

As the years have gone by, six of them by-the-way, my enthusiasm for preschool snacks has waned. Often, (gasp), I brought fishy crackers and apple juice. A few times, I even forgot to bring snack at all. (I know.)

Marek brought his last preschool snack last week. We went with carrots, dip and crackers. Not fancy. But, I presented them to the teacher with a huge grin on my face. No more preschool snacks — EVER!! Good riddance.

That very day, Jonas came home and informed me that we need to make Revolutionary War cupcakes for his book report project.

Waaa — waaaa .....

How does one even make a cupcake to represent the Revolutionary War? They didn't even have cupcakes back then did they?

And Pinterest was no help. There is not a category called "Revolutionary War" baking. I checked.

But I did stumble on a few flag cakes and convinced Jonas that it would be perfect if we added some mini marshmallows to make a Betsy Ross flag.

He loved it.

I'm going to Pin it just in case some other poor mama is out there searching for how to represent the Revolutionary War with cake. I doubt it, but you never know.


Haute Mamas Day!

By Robin Dearing
Monday, May 11, 2015

Mother's Day was Sunday. How did you celebrate?

Us? We went out to breakfast. It was yummy. Instead of buying cards and candy, my mom and I usually get our annual flowers and plant our spring pretties. But our crazy, cold and rainy weather put those plans on hold until we we permanently thaw out.

But all was not lost ... not at all. The Colorado Mesa University baseball team was slated to play Metro State University for the Rocky Mountain Athlectic Conference championship at noon.

Considering that Bill and I have been quite obsessed with CMU baseball, spending the day watching CMU take the championship in a nailbiter that went to the bottom of the ninth was a happy way to spend a day dedicated to mothters.

Next to CMU's win, the best part of the game was seeing this mama:

Yep, Richie and I spent our Mother's Day on the bleachers. Well, actually, Richie and her family were on the bleachers on the home team side. Our little group insists on sitting on the visitor's side. Not because we enjoy cheering alongside the visiting fans, but because the visiting side has nicer seats. 

Yes, I sit on the visiting side because the seats are more comfortable. I'm old, I get it.

The worst part of sitting on the visiting side was suffering the disdain of Richie's boys. They were mortified that any true fan would choose comfort over loyalty.

Luckily, Jonas and Marek braved the visitor's side to come visit with us:

I loved having a little time to catch up with Richie and to see her boys in person. Add that to the CMU win and I call that a Happy Mother's Day!


Wa? Lawn Care

By Richie Ann Ashcraft
Monday, April 27, 2015

The boys started their own business over Spring Break. It's called Wa? Lawn Care.

But seriously, don't hire these guys. I've tried to hire them a thousand times to get yard work done at our house and they rarely show, are easily distracted, and leave the work undone.

If you need a cardboard sign though, they're all about it.


April is Addison’s disease awareness month

By Robin Dearing
Wednesday, April 15, 2015

“When you were sick two years ago, did you read that last Jane Austen novel you haven’t read yet?"

Margaret asked me this question out of the blue one afternoon when she and I were out to lunch.

It took me a while to figure out what she was really asking.

Years ago, when I was explaining my love for Jane Austen’s novels, I told Margaret that I had read all her books, except one. I’m saving that one last novel as a treat for when I was sick, old and/or dying.

“I didn’t think I was dying,” was my reply.

“I did,” she said plainly.

That was like a proverbial dagger to my heart.

Two years ago this spring, I was sick and no one could figure out why. For months, I went to doctor and after doctor, enduring test after test that revealed nothing that could lead to a diagnosis.

Luckily, my primary-care doctor admitted me to the hospital. When the admitting doctor heard my story, he immediately had an idea what was wrong with me. That doctor saved my life because he remembered the symptoms of a rare disease of the endocrine system.

I have Addison’s disease.

Addison’s disease is a rare disease that affects 1 in 100,000 people. That’s 10 in a million. Here in the Grand Valley, there are probably 3 of us.

My adrenal glands were attacked by my autoimmune system which destroyed my adrenal cortex. They no longer produce cortisol nor aldosterone.

Everyone need these hormones to continue living. I take oral steroids to replace them.

If I stop taking those meds, I die. That is a sobering reality.

Figuring out the  correct dosing and timing to take my meds is a giant guessing game. Getting it exactly right is close to impossible. This disease is rare and little research is done because there’s no money to be made from it.

Living with this disease is like having a hit man constantly on my tail. I’m savvy enough to take my medications, but I have to be constantly thinking about what I need to be doing to prevent my own death. I have to constantly be avoiding my body’s hit man.

But that’s not even the worst part of this disease.

The worst part is that Margaret had to witness my illness and decline. My daughter has to watch my daily struggle with this disease. The best I can hope for is an almost-normal remainder of my life.

For more information, click here.


Update: Another girl named Richie!

By Richie Ann Ashcraft
Wednesday, April 8, 2015

I was at CMU today walking along minding my own business when a guy yells out — "Hey Richie!"

I don't know who he is so I'm sure I smirked. A girl walks up to talk to him for a sec, then turns away. He calls out again "Hey, Richie." And they chat again.

Uh, the 'hell?

So I caught up with her and asked if I had heard right, that her name was indeed Richie just like mine.

And it was. Spelled the same and everything.

Of course, we were both blown away because I'd say it's probably one of the most uncommon names for a female ever. I've never, ever met another girl named Richie. I've even searched Facebook and only found a rodeo cowgirl named Richie Ann who lives in Canada.

This new Richie gave me a HUGE hug, and then we took a selfie. We were mutually excited.

Here we are : Two gals honestly named Richie.

What are the odds of intersecting paths with another girl named Richie right here in Grand Junction? It makes you wonder how the world works, don't it?


15 years and counting

By Robin Dearing
Tuesday, April 7, 2015

On this day 15 years ago, I made quite possibly the best decision of my life. I married this guy:

We've had our ups and downs, our highs and lows, but we've also had a whole lotta laughs. I know that I've laughed more days than I haven't over the past 15 years thanks to Bill. 

Happy anniversary, Bill. Here's to at least 15 more!


Moab just gives and gives

By Robin Dearing
Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Not to let y'all think I just sat in our camper crying over my dead pup, I wanted to share the highlight of our trip to Moab over the weekend.

I've been to Moab several times in my 18 years in western Colorado. I've visited Arches National Park and finally made the hike to Delicate Arch and we've driven through the Island in the Sky portion of Canyonlands National Park. But I had never made it down to the Needles section of that beautiful national treasure. We fixed that last Saturday.

It's a longer drive south to Needles, but there are two very cool things to see on the way. The first is the Hole N" the Rock which is a delightful roadside tourist stop. 

The Hole N" the Rock was the home to a couple who carved their house out of the bottom of a rock cliff with dynamite. They even ran a diner out of the front portion of the hole. Along with the interior of the house, you can also tour the kitsch-filled grounds where you can see bigfoot and a spaceship. For another entrace fee, you can visit their little zoo.

Not only can you view their menagerie, but you can feed them as well:

Looks fun, huh?

Trekking south from Moab to the south entrance of Canyonlands is a stark, desolate landscape dotted with the rock formations that makes the area famous. Just outside the park's entrace, we stopped to visit Newspaper Rock. I love looking at remnants of bygone civilizations. Petroglyphs fascinate me and this rock wall it pretty impressive.

I would like to take this moment to apologize for the giant glob of mayonaise that I left in the parking lot from where I dropped our jar and busted the lid while trying to make myself a sandwich.

From Newspaper Rock, it's just a short jaunt into the park. 

The views are fabulous. And I have to give my husband credit. When Bill saw this above-pictured rock formation, he said it looked like a shoe. I poo-pooed him and said it looked more like a train engine. Then we came around the corner to see the sign pointing out the Wooden Shoe overlook. You were right, honey!

While Needles has less scenic roadway than Island in the Sky, it's a different type of landscape. Worth the drive. I give it my two thumbs up.


My dog days are over

By Robin Dearing
Tuesday, March 31, 2015

When our friends invited us to join them camping in Moab last weekend, we jumped at the opportunity. Spring is the best time to visit Utah's desert landscape.

Last week was our spring break, so we had plenty of time to get my mom's rv out of storage and get it ready to go for the first time this year. 

We made the quick trip across the Utah border on Thursday and found our campground. As we began to set up camp, we put out our chairs and lantern and our campstove. Among our gear, we came across the long leash and corkscrew we used to keep Quincy from roaming into neighboring campsites. Her bowls were in there, too. 

It was bittersweet camping without our dog for the first time in 14 years.

We had to have Quincy put down last November. The one truly terrible thing about having pets is their short life span. 

Since I work mostly at home, my pets are my constant companions. In the months since Quincy's death, I've missed her marble-like eyes staring at me, begging for attention and treats. I miss the way she'd lie behind my chair while I worked or sought out any spot of sun to warm her old bones. 

She and I walked countless miles around our neighborhood. I knew exactly which shrubs and curbs at which she would insist on stopping.

We've been asked if we were going to get another dog. No. I don't want another dog. 

Yes, it would be nice to have a walking campanion and to have a dog to take camping, but I have no desire to start all over with the training or to deal with a dog in general. I would be very unhappy if we ended up with a dog that barked or bit or shed all over the place. I'm over the dog smell and the dog poop and the idea of having yet another responsibility.

Quincy was not a perfect pet, but I loved her just the way she was. My dog days are over.

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