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By Richie Ann Ashcraft
Wednesday, April 4, 2007
I was invited to lunch last week by coworkers who claimed I had been doing the mommy thing too well and neglecting them. Just to prove their point, they made name tags just in case I had forgotten. A buncha wise-guys!
We spent the hour interviewing each other in true journalistic fashion. I was the interviewee for the most part and tried to rattle off as much information about myself between slurps of hot-n-sour soup.
"What do you think this baby is going to be?"
"I think it's going to be a girl," replied I.
"Oh, I hope it's a girl....I have the cutest little dress to her!"
But, their were some skeptics at the table giving me the raised eyebrow and bragging about their all knowing baby guessing capabilities.
As the meal wrapped up the plate of fortune cookies was passed around.
"You have to read it out loud and say 'In the bathroom'."
I waited for my turn grinning from ear to ear.
My fortune said "Son."
Turns out Confucius was right!
Tuesday, April 3, 2007
I don’t know about ya’ll, but for me, cooking is great therapy. I love looking in the pantry and fridge and creating a meal out of odds and ends and bits and pieces. When I’m stressed I love to slice and dice and chop and pound and beat. Needless to say, last week we ate pretty good at my house!
Tis the season for asparagus, or as we called them as kids “spareguts”. They are so lovely and delicious right now and I’ve been buying up the little skinny ones for a buck a pound! They’re not everyone’s favorite vegetable, especially kids. But I’ve been successful in getting lots of kids to try them by telling them that asparagus makes your pee smell funny. This fascinates them and they gobble them up.
We had asparagus this many ways last week:
Start with about two pounds of cleaned, trimmed asparagus for any of these.
Number One: Wrap about three or four asparagus with a slice of bacon cut in half lengthwise and secure with toothpicks. Place in roasting pan, drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper and roast at 425 for about 20 minutes or until bacon is crispy, flipping halfway through. Make a dipping sauce of about ½ cup low fat mayo, 2 tablespoons of lime juice, some chopped cilantro and about 1 to 2 teaspoons of sirachi chili sauce. This dip is great with the asparagus or on green beans too.
Number Two: Mix about ½ cup pineapple juice, 1 tablespoon or more fresh grated ginger, one or two minced garlic cloves, 2 tablespoons soy sauce, 2 tablespoons olive oil and about a tablespoon of sesame oil. Pour over lightly steamed asparagus and marinate for a few hours.
Number Three: Get yourself a vegetable grill pan. It has little holes in the bottom and you set it on your outdoor grill for veggies and such so they don’t fall through. Bed, Bath and Beyond
has them for about ten bucks. Drizzle the spareguts with olive oil, coarse salt and fresh ground pepper. Grill on your veggie grill for about ten minute until you consider them done. I like them kind of crispy. A squeeze of fresh lemon juice and that’s it.
In between the asparagus frenzy I’ve been shuttling Alex and his cousin Forrest back and forth to LACROSSE!!! Yippee! Yes, ladies and gentlemen and lacrosse fans around the valley - the Lizards are back with a vengeance.
Except this year they are now called the Spartans and there are four times as many as last year. Ninety kids from 5th to 12th grade. Their first match is this Saturday in Aspen. Alex’s team plays at 7:00 p.m. under the lights! Who’d a thunk it? It will be a late drive home but I get to spend all day in Aspen! Dang, I love that game!
So happy Spring everyone, happy eating and GO SPARTANS!
By Robin Dearing
Monday, April 2, 2007
Yesterday was the first Sunday of the month — and that means it's free day at the Western Colorado Botanical Gardens
Being one that loves to take advantage of all the free stuff I can, Margaret and I joined a bunch of our neighbor moms and daughters for a bike ride down to the botanical gardens.
We've ridden our bikes down there many times, but this time was different. Margaret rode her own two-wheeler, all by herself. In the past she's been attached to my bike or Bill's bike by her tag-along bike
I watched her like a hawk as she pedaled along the bike lane, being mindful to stay with the group and not dart into traffic. It was a bit more stressful for me, but Margaret did great and she really enjoyed the independence of riding alone.
The gardens inside were in full bloom and we saw many stunning flowers and butterflies.
Just as we entered the gardens, Margaret and I saw these two smiling faces:
Yep, we ran into Richie and Soren, who were also taking advantage of the beautiful weather and free-day at the botanical gardens.
Soren was having a grand time watching these guys as they darted around the koi pond:
Soren sure is a happy little guy. Look at his little self as he tried to convince the koi to come home with him:
After having our fill of the flora and fauna of the inside gardens, we strolled around the desert gardens that are just now coming to life. It always amazes me the beauty and variety of plantlife that grows in our high desert landscape.
Gorgeous weather, beautiful gardens, great friends — just three more reason why I love the Grand Valley.
Friday, March 30, 2007
After Alex and I finished dinner I turned on the TV while I cleaned up the kitchen. There wasn’t much to clean up - the remnants of a spinach, tomato and feta cheese pizza, some carrot sticks with low-fat ranch dressing and skim milk.
A news report caught my ear and I listened as the reporter talked about the results from a new study that was just published in the New England Journal of Medicine
. It was not good news. The study found that this generation (our kids) is projected to have the first-ever shorter life expectancy than the previous generation due to the rising incidence of childhood obesity.
In other words, our kids are expected to die 2 to 5 years sooner than their parents because they are too fat!
Check out these reports here
or just Google “childhood obesity and life expectancy” for more.
It should come as no surprise to anyone that America is getting fatter. Not just fat, fatter. Remember when you were in grade school and there was maybe one or two kids at the most who were fat? They got teased and definitely chosen last for kickball. Today, what’s the big deal? The fat kids don’t even stand out from the crowd anymore.
Don’t start squawking that I’m mean and insensitive and all that. People who are fat, know it. Like me, for instance. I’ve been trying to lose the same 5, OK 8, pounds for three years. My goal is to eventually weigh what my driver’s license says I weigh. But being fat is no longer a self-esteem or “value” issue. It is a serious health issue and now we have passed it along to our kids.
There are a gajillion reasons why and I’m not going into them all here. But the biggest reason of all? Yep, the common theme this week - parents who are not paying attention to their kids and what their kids are eating! Kids do not have a lot of control over what kind of food is in the house or what kind of food is put in front of them to eat. That’s their parent’s job. And there are plenty of resources available to parents who want to make some changes so their precious children will live longer than they will.
One of those resources locally is the Mesa County Health Department’s new Shape Down program for kids and their parents. You can call (970) 683-6650 for more information on that one.
Anybody know of other resources? Post a comment to tell us. Gotta run because today is Cookie Day here at work and there are about fifteen varieties calling my name!
By Robin Dearing
Thursday, March 29, 2007
My mom and I made a quilt.
OK, it's not quite done yet but all that's left is to quilt it and put the binder on (yes, I realize that those are pretty huge things, but still ... we've got the top done!). My mom and I worked on it, off and on, for most of their trip here and we're really pleased with how it came out.
Quilting is something that my mom and I have been doing together since my dear friend — and frequent Haute Mamas commenter — Marlys was married ... um, I wanted to put "a long time ago" but that makes us seem so old ... anyway, when we found out that Marlys was getting married, we decided to make her a gift.
While visiting a craft fair, we saw a demonstration of the Quilt-in-a-day
method for making log-cabin quilts. We were inspired by the ease of the method and off we went.
Since, then we have made quilts on our own and have collobrated on others. And have even moved beyond the easy, Quilt-in-a-day, log-cabing quilts. Margaret has this lovely pink and white quilt patterned with hearts that my mother hand quilted and gave to her when she was born. Margaret has used that quilt for her entire life.
Then when Margaret was about a year and a half old, my mom and I made this quilt that Bill and I have been using on our bed for five years now:
Look at all those triangles. My mom said, "No more triangles!" after that one.
While we were working on our most recent quilt, she asked, "Why don't we just do log cabin for now on?"
We may not be in Sherida's quilting league
yet, but we sure are having a good time trying to get there.
Wednesday, March 28, 2007
To help soften my tirade below, I wanted to post this picture of my nephew engaging in the toddler toilet-paper-caper, like Soren.
Wednesday, March 28, 2007
This post is kind of like the people who write in to You Said It
complaining about “the blonde woman in the blue SUV who cut me off.” Dude, they’re not reading and they don’t care anyways. I know that the people to whom this is addressed are not reading it and they don’t care anyways. And all you parents who are good, responsible parents can just skip it.
Urgent message to Mesa County Parents:
Hello? Hello? Is there anybody out there? Hello?
Yeah, that’s the feeling I’m getting this week from a lot of you. Well, not you because YOU’RE NOT THERE!
It’s the feeling I’m getting from your kids. They know you’re not there and lots of parents who are doing their job as parents and paying attention to their own kids are paying the price for YOU not doing the same.
Let me just clue you in on what your kid might be doing while you’ve decided to take a leave of absence from your parental responsibilities.
Heard of Myspace? Ever been there? Ask your kid to take you on a guided tour. I don’t care what its original purpose was, this Web site is being abused right now and is one of the most dangerous places in America for unsupervised children. And that would be most all of them using it. Lovely messages going around this week posted by a kid in Mesa County from another kid’s Myspace account giving specific and graphic descriptions of sex acts between other Mesa County kids - complete with the anatomically correct use of “sex toys”. Real special. Did your kid write it? Would you know? I discussed it with two attorneys and they confirmed that posting sexually graphic crap like that is a crime in Mesa County. One local kid has already been found guilty of misusing Myspace and has a criminal record that will haunt him the rest of his life. Could your kid be the next one? It’s not that hard to track down who posts stuff.
Do you know where your kid was last night? Could they have possibly been running through my neighborhood throwing eggs at my house? I know there’s probably not a parent of a teenager out there who hasn’t been the victim of an egging. But I don’t think it’s cute or funny or a rite of passage. I think it is what it is - criminal mischief, vandalism and trespassing. And if and when the cops find out whose kid it was, you can bet I’ll press charges. And you might want to read up on the Make My Day
Hey - if I become known as the crazy mother of the neighborhood, I’m totally OK with that. I’m sick of the absentee parents who are too lazy and too irresponsible to raise their own kids. But most of all I feel very, very sorry for their kids who are allowed to do, say and act however they want because there are no consequences for them and they know their parents aren’t paying attention and don't care anyways.
And it breaks my heart for those kids.
For the rest of us parents - thanks for caring and good job!
By Richie Ann Ashcraft
Tuesday, March 27, 2007
Other possible titles include: "Thank God Alex is Over That," "Aaawww....Remember when Margaret used to....," or "I Just Can't Wait Until My Baby Does That!
I've recently learned that toilet paper is the coolest toy ever! Luckily, it's digestable.
These things are everywhere except on his actual feet.
This will be the "Summer of Smeared Toes." I really won't have to worry about this much longer because pretty soon I won't be able to reach them anyway.
Know what this is? I know it's hard to tell but this is a Spider Man Band-Aid. We don't own anything that doesn't have some kind of Marvel Comic character on it anymore.
It's blurry because a mysterious tiny fingerprint showed up smack in the middle of my camera lens. I wonder how that happened?
By Robin Dearing
Monday, March 26, 2007
When my family and I wheeled back into town a week ago Sunday, we were surprised to see that our apricot tree was in full bloom.
Normally, as spring starts to slowly invade the valley, we notice new growth on the roses, the grass starting to green and the buds on the trees. This year, it seems, we didn't have the time to notice that spring was on its way. Instead we blinked and our yard had awoken from its winter slumber.
Maybe we didn't notice because it happened earlier than it has in the past. Last year our apricot tree bloomed on March 25, this year it was March 18. And it seems that I'm not the only noticing trees blooming earlier.
Whether it's the effects of global warming or not, spring is here early this year and with it came the spring yard cleaning.
As I've mentioned before, my parents are visiting. While my mom and I have been working on making a quilt, my dad has been spring cleaning our yard, garage and shed.
And let me tell you, they have never looked so good.
Anyone who knows Bill and I, know that we are ... ahem ... not the most fastidious folks — but my folks are.
My dad recently acquired a leaf blower and sucker, which he has used on every inch of our yard. Then he raked and cut back all the dead growth on our perennials. Then he organized all the junk and non-junk in our garage and shed. He even organized the pile of garbage we intend on putting out for the city's annual spring clean-up.
Yes, we have the more organized garbage pile in the city.
Bill and I are thrilled and a little embarrassed. My dad worked (non-stop) for a day and a half and now our yards look really nice. We have promised ourselves that we are going to keep them looking nice.
Let's hope we keep this promise.
The only bummer about the whole thing is that we realized that while we were in Denver a week ago, someone "borrowed" the picnic bench that has been in our front yard since before we even bought our house.
It wasn't new or even really that nice, but that picnic bench has supported the rears of so many of our friends and families and was a staple of our front-yard seating. We are very sad that it is gone.
I hope whoever borrowed it gets a big ole splinter where the spring's joyful rays of sun don't shine.
Friday, March 23, 2007
Three days of extreme teenage angst and drama has left me completely drained and exhausted. I’m not even gonna go into it here.
So last night was Bunko Barbie night. Yes, in spite of my initial misgivings I still go. But last night I was just so not in the mood. I was crabby, grumpy and generally ticked off for good reasons. I really wanted a couple martinis, but I decided to be mature (ha!) and go for a nice long walk to let off some steam and get those endorphins going and all that crap.
I headed down to the river trail - you know, the one by Blockbuster thinking I would pick up a good chick flick after my walk. I set off at a brisk pace muttering to myself and having a good time at my own pity party. I turn the corner on the trail and encounter about 4 or 5 young adults (and I use the term loosely) coming towards me. The young man (again, I’m giving him credit) has a large stick that he is hitting the other ladies (?) with. They are laughing, sort of, so I assume it’s all in good fun, sort of.
As they approach me, I give the male dude my best hairy eyeball, thinking he has been raised by something other than wolves and assuming he would get the message that his behavior was inappropriate. He responds by giving me some sort of smart-ass response. Wrong.
Thinking I was six feet tall, bullet-proof and forgetting I was in a place where my body could be easily disposed of, I respond, “Dude, you so do not want to **** with me right now.” And I continued my walk that was supposed to be making me feel better.
I admit - there’s probably one or two things wrong about this scenario. But the most wrong of all was that I had foolishly forgotten my pepper spray that I am almost never without when enjoying the great outdoors. Then I really started to regret that even though I took the class, I never did apply for my concealed carry permit.
It made me sad that I don’t feel safe in this town anymore. Not walking the trails, not in the area of downtown in which I work, not on Main Street after dark, not in our parks, not even driving the streets where some meth-crazed maniac can kill me or my family in an instant. I don’t even think our schools are safe.
It’s depressing and indicative of the wrong kind of growth this valley has experienced and the miscreants we’ve allowed to take over like kudzu. Or tamarisk to be more geographically accurate. So, what’s a mother to do? Not walk the river trail when she’s in a bad mood? Sing Kumbaya? Wear a WWJD bracelet?
Time to re-think the concealed carry permit.
I can use it for my water pistol.