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By Richie Ann Ashcraft
Wednesday, June 27, 2007
Here's something you probably don't know and wouldn't have guessed about me: I grew up in an off-the-grid A-frame in southwest Colorado. If I had grown up in Sante Fe or northern California I'd be pretty cool...but in southwest Colorado in the 80s it made me a big dork. Some nights I was lucky to have enough electricity to finish my homework much less enough solar to watch Alf or curl my hair. The only heat source was a wood burning stove. We even had a solar shower in the back yard to maximize our energy use...and you know...to defeat the stereotype of a dirty hippie... which is what most people stereotype an environmentalist to look like.
Needless to say, environmentalism wasn't just a passing fad but a lifestyle. It's so ingrained it's almost like religion...I just don't question it, I just believe.
And now it's back into style with everyone discussing ways to save energy and help save the planet. Everyone's doing it...or are they?
I'm gonna say most people are all talk. For example, an SUV with a Kerry/Edwards sticker from 3 years ago. It kills me. But I'm not going to discuss the politics involved, you can get your politics from Denny
, or Bobby
...I'm just bringing up the issue of personal responsibility.
Soren's doctor recently said that he is the only baby she's seen in cloth diapers. The only one.
We all know that diapers take 500 years to break down in the landfill not to mention they are full of feces. Just think about how gross that is and now you know why we choose cloth.
Then there's all the packaging marketed toward parents with children. Serving sized peaches, string cheese, little tiny baby food jars, juice boxes, and on and on. It equals trash, trash, and more trash. There is only one other family on my street that I see put their recycle bags out. It costs $1 a month for curbside recycling and most people don't do it.
And this trend of putting a battery in every single toy in the toybox has got to be the number one overlooked faux pas on all the go green with kids lists. How long does it take for a disposable battery to break down in the landfill? My last toy shopping trip intentially skipped all toys battery operated.
It doesn't take much to make a difference. I'll admit that due to the very fabric of our society, I do plenty to increase my carbon footprint. I use one disposable diaper a day; I drive a car; I eat food; I use some chemically based products like hairspray that breaks down the ozone. But I try to make better choices and actually follow through on changing lightbulbs, recycling my tuna cans, taking Navy showers and using grey water on my lawn.
Our company kicked off a new program called Cox Conserves
in an effort to make a difference in the environment. Here is a great list they've complied of 99 Things You Can Do To Save The Planet
has compiled this list
of kid specific ways to green up your home.
If your family has tried some innovative way to save the planet lately...please let me know. I'd like to be a good example to my kids and whittle our footprint down to a four tiny thumbprints.
By Robin Dearing
Tuesday, June 26, 2007
Seven years ago today, Bill raced me over the St. Mary's just before 3 p.m.
By 4 o'clock, Margaret was born — a tiny, plucked-chicken little nut with a piercing cry.
Now, seven years later, my baby isn't really a baby at all. She's a kid ... and not even really even a little
Even though I've said this about every stage in Mar's life (I took to heart the warnings by other parents, "Enjoy them while they're young because they grow up so fast."), I really love this age.
Margaret is such a fun person to be around. She's light-hearted and funny. She's learning the fact that sometimes you just have to go along to get along. She's smart and quick witted.
She can do so much for herself: comb her hair, dress herself (even though she'll still let me pick out her clothes), make herself breakfast and keep herself entertained.
Because she's such a good kid, we let her decide how she wanted to celebrate her birthday this year: She could either have a small party with a couple friends at one of the notorious birthday spots (Chuck E. Cheese, Bananas, etc.) or she could have our family's traditional white-trash, everyone's-invited, front-yard extravaganza.
Margaret, of her own accord, chose the front-yard extravaganza, which we had on Saturday. And everyone had a blast.
It started with the kid party at 3 which included party games, smacking the pinata (which is really quite disturbing — especially when the children rip the poor pinata bull to pieces and wear the pieces on their heads like some kind of war trophy), cupcakes and snow cones.
At 5, the rest of our adult friends showed up for one of our famous pot-luck dinners.
Yes, most people provide food at their kid's birthdays, but we are potluck connoisseurs.
Our friend Rob had this to say about the famous Ouray Avenue potlucks, "It's a lot of pressure bringing food to these things. You can't bring your 'B' food. You have to bring your 'A' food."
And they did bring their "A" food. While Bill and I grilled the gratuitous dogs and burgers supplemented with yummy cheddar and beer bratwursts.
Instead of a cake, this year Bill and I baked cupcakes — two kinds: strawberry and chocolate in heart and star shaped tins. Everyone got to top their frosted cakes with an array of candy.
Margaret got a really lovely array of gifts that were thoughtful and really fun (Bill, Mar and I have already enjoyed the Monopoly Jr. — I think I like this version better than the original — and Twister. And Mar has been making custom cards and coloring pictures with her new art supplies.)
My favorite part of the gifts were the cards, especially the home-made cards:
The party lasted well beyond her bedtime ... even well beyond mine and while I was exhausted, Margaret's party was such a lively and fun celebration of her seven years, that I'll happily wear the bags o' no-sleep under my eyes knowing we did her birthday up proper.
Click over here to see a slide show of pictures from her party.
By Richie Ann Ashcraft
Monday, June 25, 2007
The only way to be an Alpha Mom
is to multi-task. (I so wish I were an Alpha all the time but I'll admit I slack into beta on occasion.) Any given day I'm slaving away at my cubby but in the meantime I have my headphones wrapped around the ever expanding bobbie. (That's Soren talk for belly.)
Sure there's the argument playing music for your unborn child will make him smarter, perhaps giving him the talent of musical genius in womb, but I do it for good water.
Let me back up a bit. During my last pregnancy Robin and I had several conversations about a new book she was looking at by Masaru Emoto called "The Hidden Messages of Water."
If you have ever wondered what Robin and I do at work all day...well there ya go...we talk about Japanese new-age scientists and their very interesting study and photography of frozen water crystals. Yeah...so???
These scientists took samples of water from all around the world and subjected it to a variety of things like different kinds of music, words and prayer. They they took pictures of the frozen water crystals and studied the effect on their pattern and clarity. They discovered that water indeed was effected by positive and negative influences.
For example this is a crystal which "listened" to classical music:
And this water 'listened" to that offending heavy metal music:
I KNEW there was a good reason not to listen to that death metal junk.
How about unpolluted water from a fountain in Lourdes, France:
And water from the most polluted river in Japan:
Here's my favorite this is Love vs. I hate you-You make me sick!
So Robin and I deduced that unborn babies float in WATER!!! Therefore people should be really really nice to pregnant women. Only speak of nice things like flowers and puppies. And whatever you do don't ever ever play heavy metal for a baby!
Keep that in mind people when you come talk to me...not only am I incubating an unborn child, I'm nurturing the very water in which he sits and I only want good water for my babies!!!
More pictures are available here
While you're at it check out my new favorite food blog Pioneer Woman
. Her food looks so good, made with real butter and sugar and meat, that I just want to jump through a portal into her kitchen and devour her food like a rabid dog. Thanks Blondemom
for the great link!
By Robin Dearing
Friday, June 22, 2007
*shuffle, shuffle, slide*
*shuffle, shuffle, slide*
Mar skated around the glossy concrete floors at Old Navy on her flip flops.
*shuffle, shuffle, slide*
She wasn't hurting anyone or anything, but instead was keeping herself entertained while we looked for a new pair of swim trunks for Bill. But it still drove me to distraction.
*shuffle, shuffle, slide*
"Look mama. Look I'm skating," Margaret cried out enthusiastically.
"Look mama, a pretty orange dress."
"Look mama's head is exploding."
OK, it didn't explode, but it felt like it just might.
Everything everyone did annoyed me. Mar's flip-flop skating routine, the gal who asked me if I wanted save 10 percent by applying for a credit card, the cashier who made great concessions to let us buy our items with both a gift card and bucks-back coupons.
No one was doing anything wrong, except breathing in my general vicinity.
I'm tired, exhausted, lie-my-head-down-on-my-keyboard-and-sleep-the-sleep-of-the-dead tired. And when I'm tired, I'm crabby (understatement), I'm irritable and impatient (two more understatements).
I need my sleep, but I just can't seem to get any.
I went to bed early but couldn't get to sleep because I knew that Bill would be stumbling in any minute and would start bugging me.
*Bang!* goes his leg against the end of the bed.
"What are you doing?" I foam.
"Uh, getting ready for bed," he whispers, like he doesn't want to wake me up or something.
I'm annoyed again. Then he climbs in bed and instantly falls asleep. Now, I'm more annoyed.
It's hot and the sheet is turned. Then Margaret needs someone to walk her back to bed. Then Bill's getting up because he can't get back to sleep. Then my pillow turned stupid and lumpy. Then it's hot again because I turned off the fans because they were whirring too loud. Then Bill's back breathing all over me. Then my alarm goes off and I have to get up for work.
Now, my neck hurts, my face looks like the top of a lemon meringue pie and I'm even more exhausted.
I quietly get ready for work as I don't want to disturb Bill or Mar as they sleep the sleep of those with no place to go. Darn summers! When do I get a bunch of weeks off so I can sleep in and lounge around in my undies all day?
Thursday, June 21, 2007
“So Mom, I was thinking about maybe getting a job this summer,” Alex says to me a couple weeks ago.
What?! My heart be still! A real job? A worthwhile way to pass the time and save money for college, a car, groceries?
“Dude, that would be great! But at age 15 it might be a little harder since most employers like you to be 16. Let me know when you want to go fill out applications.”
Somehow that conversation got tossed back to me as “Well, you’re
the one making
me get a full-time job this summer and I’m not going to have any time to hang out with my friends!”
Let me borrow a phrase from the teenage hand book: “whatever.”
Be that as it may, Alex has his first “real” job. “Real” as in THE MAN
will be dipping into his paycheck to help himself to a little of his hard-earned money! Welcome to the world of taxation without any real representation, my son.
Alex’s new status as a member of the working class really has me tickled. He is working in the restaurant at one of Colorado’s finest golf clubs. So far, he has worked three days in a row and the best part - for me - is that he can ride his bike to and from “the office.” The best part for him is that he eats for free. And he got a fifty-cent an hour raise after his first day! That’s my boy!
It has really changed the dynamic at home. He works the afternoon-to-closing shift so when I get home from work he’s gone and when he gets home I’m about ready for bed. I love calling him before he leaves and saying, “See you after work, honey” and it refers to his
He’s got big plans for his first paycheck and amazingly they don’t include college, a car or groceries. Hey, I’m fine with that right now. But I confess I’m gonna love saying, “You want what? What happened to your paycheck?”
Congratulations Alex - ya done good and I’m proud of you!
By the way, you owe me thirty bucks for the headlight and taillight I bought for your bike.
By Richie Ann Ashcraft
Wednesday, June 20, 2007
I'm not usually a prude but my pysche is deeply rooted in traditional American Victorian values as well it should be. Sometimes things embarrass me...those things that are best kept private and talked about behind closed doors...being blurted out in a certain mix of company will make me blush.
Case in point:
I'm watching a John Wayne movie with my 84-year-old grandmother last weekend. She's telling me how they just don't make good television shows anymore. She longs for the days of Bonanza and Rawhide, among a whole list of shows that I've never even heard of. This particular movie had something to do with John Wayne dressed as Davey Crockett and some people were shooting at the Alamo with a big cannon and of course there's a buxomy but fully dressed woman of virtuous flirtation in the background. I wasn't really following the plot because I'll admit that like most Gen-Xers my eyes glaze over when focusing on anything involving TechniColor.
The big shoot-out was interrupted by commercials and just as I'm dozing I hear the word "erection." My eyes popped open.
"Cialis...for those suffering from erectile dysfunction," blah blah....to give you an erection when YOU need it...blah blah.
I see my grandma looking at her feet. I look at the ceiling or the floor or my fingernail...anything to not look interested in this product. I pretend I don't see the white haired woman giving her husband the come hither look with her wrinkled eye or to even look like I know what this product is for or what that word even means. Disregard the fact I'm pregnant...I do not know anything about that sort of stuff.
"For erections lasting more than four hours....." OH MY GOD...I think...DO NOT SAY THAT WORD AGAIN!!! I"M SITTING BY MY GRANDMA....HELLO...MY GRANDMA!!!!! SHUT UP SHUT UP SHUT UUUUUPPPP!!!!!
Phew....that was 30 seconds too long if you ask me.
Then the next commercial is that annoying Kotex commercial with the floating pad and the weird hovering red dot. I had to go get a very long drink of water in the kitchen.
Is it really necessary to advertise these kinds of products on T.V.? Do we really need to know the fine print on a bottle of Viagra? Should a word like dryweave be in my vocabulary? It's like I was just confronted by SPAM in my very own living room.
And what am I going to tell my kids when they ask me what that commercial means? Well honey, some men...um...well you see there's these birds and these bees...um...what do you think it means?
I'm just saying....these commercials are more embarrassing than necessary for most everyone. Let's leave these discussions to people and their doctors.
By Robin Dearing
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
Here's a statistic for you:
Two out of three Haute Mamas have been diagnosed and suffered through surgeries and multiple treatments for skin cancer.
Richie and I both have had basal cell carcinoma
. And just for the record, I'd like to say it sucks.
Basal cell carcinoma won't kill you but if left untreated can cause all kinds of problems. The longer it's left to sit, the deeper and wider is grows.
I've had to take time off work for doctor's appointments and for the surgery. Then I had to deal with having sutures on my face and having people ask me all kinds of questions about what was wrong with me. I'll have to live the rest of my life with scars on my face from cancer.
Then there were the bills.
I consider myself very lucky to have a really good insurance plan, but there are still deductibles and co-pays. Needless to say, it wasn't cheap.
But for now I'm skin cancer free ... and I'm on a mission.
My mission is to inform people on how to avoid getting skin cancer in the first place.
First, let's go over the basics.
The sun's UVA rays cause skin cancer. Whenever you are in the sun, cancer-causing agents are raining down on you. Not only that but it's the UVA rays that cause the skin to age, wrinkle and turn blicky.
When you are in a tanning bed, you are focusing the attention of potent UVA rays directly onto your skin in a most intimate way. Meaning that you are actively choosing to beam aging, cancer-causing radiation directly onto your skin all for allure of a tan.
So really with a tanning bed, you are just turning the clock forward by aging your skin and promoting the growth of skin cancer all at the same time — man, now there's a product that sells itself, eh?
If you think it's worth the chance, do keep in mind that melanoma skin cancer can kill you. The American Cancer Society estimates that in 2007, there will be 8,110 fatalities, 5,220 in men and 2,800 in women in the United States according to the Skin Cancer Foundation.
And according to the governor of Colorado's office
, incidence rates for melanoma, the most serious and potentially deadly form of skin cancer, are significantly higher in Colorado than in the United States as a whole. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment reported that the melanoma incidence rate among Colorado men was 38 percent higher than the national rate, and for Colorado women, 46 percent higher.
The reason being, of course, we get 300 days of sunshine a year and we're at a relatively high altitude.
So what are we to do?
Here's what the American Cancer Society suggests:
- Avoid the sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
- Seek shade: Look for shade, especially in the middle of the day when the sun's rays are strongest. Practice the shadow rule and teach it to children. If your shadow is shorter than you, the sun’s rays are at their strongest.
- Slip on a shirt: Cover up with protective clothing to guard as much skin as possible when you are out in the sun. Choose comfortable clothes made of tightly woven fabrics that you cannot see through when held up to a light.
- Slap on a hat: Cover your head with a wide-brimmed hat, shading your face, ears, and neck. If you choose a baseball cap, remember to protect your ears and neck with sunscreen.
- Wear sunglasses with 99 to 100 percent UV absorption to provide optimal protection for the eyes and the surrounding skin.
- Follow these practices to protect your skin even on cloudy or overcast days. UV rays travel through clouds.
- Slop on sunscreen: Use sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or higher. Apply a generous amount (about a palmful) and reapply after swimming, toweling dry, or perspiring. Use sunscreen even on hazy or overcast days.
Yes, our dear friend, sunscreen.
It used to be that sunscreen protected against UVB rays — which are the ones that cause burns, not the UVA rays which cause cancer. People could stay out in the sun longer without getting burnt which is good, but they were increasing their time with those nasty UVA rays, so that was bad.
But now you can get sunscreens that protect against both the UVB and UVA rays. Make sure when you buy sunscreen to the get the kind that protects against both and remember to slather yourself and especially your children in protection again and again.
Monday, June 18, 2007
It was going to be an early morning start but the three 15-year-old boys had little problem rising to meet the sun since it meant they would soon be soaking wet on the river.
Dan had somehow convinced me again that it would be a great time to spend the day in the hot sun for hours where the only means of escape was jumping into freezing cold water and risking a terrible, watery death. But that’s my paranoia at work and really this is about how much fun the boys - young and older - had, and how much fun I had watching them have fun.
We arrived at Westwater ranger station just before 8:00 a.m., hauled the gear off the trailer, did the car shuttle thing and got back to the put in point about 10:00 a.m. There were three rafts and enough experienced oarsmen to go around.
After about an hour and a half of leisurely floating we pulled over and Greg gave us a little preview of the class 3 and 4 rapids that lie ahead. The boys were excited as heck and I was fighting the urge to walk back to the car. My mood wasn’t helped when Dan insisted on giving me a blow-by-blow of what was coming.
“OK, first we go through Skull
, and there’s a huge rock on the side that we need to miss or we’re dead. Then we go through Sock-it-to-Me
and if we don’t hit it right we go into the Room of Doom
and we’re dead. After that there's the Rock of Shock,
which is always the worst of all. Then we go through Last Chance
and this is where the raft can “taco” and if it does that we’re dead. If we make it through all that we could still be dead.”
He didn’t say it exactly like that, but that’s what I heard. I asked him in a voice way past the edge of hysteria, “Where’s the safest place to be?” and his reply of “On the shore watching,” earned him a look that made the Room of Doom
seem like a welcoming place.
For better or worse we set off to meet our fate. The three stooges were on the bow of the raft sitting as close to the action as possible. As we dropped into Skull
their screams and whoops of absolute flat-out delight could be heard for miles. We got drenched and the raft was almost swamped which of course added to their enjoyment. They bailed and pumped as fast as they could before the next rapid, which of course swamped us again which led to more bailing and whooping. They were shouting with so much delight it made me forget I was panicked and I just started laughing at them having fun. Nick kept encouraging Dan, “Keep rowing! I know how this is done. I’ve seen it on TV!”
I must say here absolutely that Dan is an excellent oarsman. He got us through those rapids with impeccable timing and skill, with minimum risk and maximum fun!
Eventually we were back in calm water, and the boys asked if we could circle back and do it again! If only! The rest of the trip was in mostly flat water and the three boys were joined by another kid for the rest of the trip in an inflatable, supposed-to-be-two-person rubber-duckie. As you can see, Alex had the King Tut position on the front of the boat while the other kids worked the paddles. They had a great time and all of them are now bona-fide river rats, talking about getting their own rig and spending the rest of the summer on the water.
All in all, it was a fun day with a wonderful bunch of people. And other than a few gnat bites, and sun burned foot-tops, nobody was worse for the wear!
By Richie Ann Ashcraft
Friday, June 15, 2007
I think Soren would shake his head emphatically up and down if I asked him if this guy was his best friend.
And I'd have to agree because he's mine too.
A very Happy Father's Day to all dads this weekend!
By Robin Dearing
Thursday, June 14, 2007
I was on vacation ... did you miss me?
Our big family vacation this year was to visit Bill's family in and around Buffalo, New York. Bill and the kids are staying for two weeks, I was there for one.
I'd only been to the Buffalo area one time previous when Margaret was 6 months old and Buffalo had just been hammered with a monumental snowstorm which virtually crippled the city. Needless to say, we mostly stayed indoors.
The beginning of June is a much better time to visit Buffalo. I guess I should clarify that for the most of my stay I wasn't really anywhere near Buffalo but was way, way out in the middle of farmland that abuts Lake Ontario in Barker.
But we did a fair amount of traveling around to see the sights, including Niagara Falls.
These falls are amazing. The amount of water pouring over the edge is truly remarkable. The mist will soak you in about three seconds.
We did the touristy thing and took the Maid of the Mist
out into Niagara River, along the American and Bridal Veil Falls and up to the base of the Horseshoe Falls.
And as part of the admission price on to the boat we got these lovely rain ponchos.
Even though we diligently wore our ponchos (and took a little too much enjoyment in wearing them), we got soaked. But we had so much fun enjoying the falls that wet shoes didn't seem to matter so much.
if you're interested in seeing more photos of the falls.
Visiting Niagara Falls: A
Eating awesome Greek food at Granny's Family Restaurant
in North Tonawanda after visiting the falls: A+ (I'm still having dreams about their labni!)