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Review: Grand Valley Climbing Center

By Richie Ann Ashcraft
Tuesday, February 24, 2015

This crazy weather. One day we're hiking in the sun in shorts and T-shirts and the next huddling next to the fireplace in our fleece pajama pants. Best of both worlds I guess. 

The cold days brought us to the new Grand Valley Climbing Center.

My boys absolutely LOVE it there. Yes, that's LOVE with capital letters and shouting emphasis.

I was reluctant at first because I thought it meant I would spend hours tethered to the boys, belaying them until my hands bled. I envisioned the fights over whose turn it was, how long they got to climb, etc., etc.

So, imagine my mommy joy when they showed us the auto-belay system. Oh, how I fell in LOVE with auto-belay. It's basically a giant pulley that does the belay work. It eliminates the need for a climbing partner.

It means that all three boys can climb wherever they want without the heavy oversight. And I can sit on a comfy bench sipping water, or assisting minimally with a stuck carabiner here and there.

Next to that though, the staff is great. I appreciate a really good staff. Super friendly, laid-back young climbers more than happy to assist us in putting on shoes or adjusting harnesses. They stop to chat, introduce themselves, give the kids climbing tips.

One price allows the kids to climb all day. All Day! Last weekend, the kids climbed for nearly 3 hours, took a break for dinner, and came back for 2 more hours in the evening. We certainly got our money's worth.

Climbing is a great activity for three boys. It tests their strength and their courage. My boys leave the gym feeling more confident ... and tired.

It looks like the snow and dreary weather might be around for awhile. Take advantage and try climbing with your kids. Auto-belay I tell ya, is a wonderful thing!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Who’s the jerk?

By Robin Dearing
Friday, February 20, 2015

Today was the second day in a row that I was stuck behind the same very-slow driver on my way to take Margaret to school. I commented on how slow the car was driving and even thought some bad thoughts about the driver as I tailgated him.

When I had the opportunity to pass, I made sure I looked into the car to see who was being such a jerk.

Turns out it was me who was being a jerk. The driver of the car was a kid, probably just turned 16 and was driving to school alone for the first time.

If I was that kid’s mom, I would be so happy he was taking his time and using his blinkers and obeying all the traffic laws properly. But I’m not that kid’s mom, I’m just another asshole driver who is more concerned with my own convenience than thinking about anyone else.

But isn’t that the way it is? Someone cuts you off, someone is driving too slow, too fast, someone waits too long at a green light … why won’t everyone just drive perfectly all of the time? What is wrong with people?

What is wrong with people is that we are people, flawed, imperfect beings. Sometimes we’re just assholes for either no good reason or sometimes because we have an excellent reason, but the result is still the same, assholery.

I make mistakes when I’m driving. I feel bad when I do, but it’s not like I follow the person home, make a formal apology and offer to buy them lunch. I’m just another one of those jerk drivers.

So, I’m going to work to become a more forgiving driver. If you have your blinker on, I’m going to let you over instead of speeding up. If you cut me off, I’m going to write it off as a mistake. If you are driving slow, I’m going to assume you have a reason.

As I mull this over and over, I can’t help but think there is a bigger lesson here. Something about the fact that people can never be perfect and we’re always going to make mistakes. From the outside, those mistakes make us look like jerks. But I think that’s all in one’s perception.

In the grand scheme of things, I want to stop immediately assuming everyone is a jerk. Instead, I’m going to give the benefit of the doubt and assume that the people I come into contact with are just people doing what I’m doing, trying to get through their days.  

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Until we get some snow ...

By Robin Dearing
Sunday, February 15, 2015

Mar wants to go skiing. It hasn't snowed in a while, so we did this on Sunday:

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Happy Birthday! Now that’s enough.

By Richie Ann Ashcraft
Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Soren turned nine-years-old last week.

Notice I was silent about it last week. I tried. I stared at this blank blog screen a dozen times and tried to find words for how it feels to have been a mother for nine years. I thought about just saying "Happy Birthday" with a picture. I thought about a Throwback Thursday to show you'all how much he's grown. I tried to write just an update post about what plans we had for his birthday and what kind of cake I should bake.

But, I just couldn't get anything out.

What I really want to do is bundle him up and keep my nine-year-old as close and safe to me as I possibly can. I want to protect him from all the things he's learning about and from outside world. I want to keep the teenage years at arm's length. I want this growing up stuff to stop.

But, it's not going to stop. So, I have to suck it up and just celebrate all the things that are wonderful about Soren being 9. So much wonderful, actually. He's a smart, funny boy who is willing to try anything and works hard at everything he does.

And I just so hope that he remembers these kid years as some of the best in his life. Happy Birthday SoJo!

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Hey February, where’s your winter?

By Robin Dearing
Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Sunday was February 8, a mere six days after good ole Phil saw his shadow and decided we'd be having six more weeks of winter.

I don't mean to be cruel, but I don't think that rodent knows what its talking about.

Look at that picture above. I took that on Sunday while Bill and I were scrabbling around the Colorado National Monument. I wasn't even wearing a jacket.

Sunday we hiked, we rode the motorcycle, we even stood around outside drinking cocktails with friends at Peach Street Distillery. It was glorious.

It was a beautiful spring day ... but it's not spring, it's the dead of winter. Only winter didn't get the memo or decided to take off early because we aren't having a winter anymore.

I feel bad enjoying our temperate climate and am thankful that we aren't suffering below-freezing cold and snowy driving conditions but there will be a price to pay. No snow = no water. No water = no good.

Instead of celebrating our lovely days, I feel like I should be doing a daily rain/snow dance and working on new compounds for seeding clouds. But since my dancing has only inspired pointing and laughing and my science is no better than my dancing, I'm just going to go ahead and enjoy the good weather while simultaneously worrying about what's going to happen this summer.

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Throwback Thursday: First Day of Preschool

By Richie Ann Ashcraft
Thursday, January 29, 2015

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The Book Report News

By Richie Ann Ashcraft
Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Soren came to me last weekend and said he had a great idea for his book report project. He wanted to be a TV newscaster and I should video it for him.

On the designated night, Soren came down in a suit and tie. He even found some dress shoes. I tried to keep my motherly guidance to a minimum. At one point though, he started going on and on about valium. I sat behind the camera, eyebrows raising and raising as he gave a very strange description of the mother in this book who apparently took valium a lot. I nixed most of that part of his speech. I mean, what the heck is his teacher going to think? He insisted it was an essential part of the plot so we compromised as you'll see in the video.

I let him help me do the editing last night. He really likes transitions and made sure there were many fancy extras. Who doesn't love a good transition to jazz up a newscast.

Anyway, here's Soren presenting The BRN (Book Report News).

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Throwback Thursday: Baby Kip

By Richie Ann Ashcraft
Thursday, January 22, 2015

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January update

By Richie Ann Ashcraft
Wednesday, January 21, 2015

January is so ... ew.

We're just plugging away at daily life in the Ashcraft household which doesn't make for interesting blog fodder. So, here's an update on the mundane at our house.

Swimming lessons

Swimmng lessons continue this winter. Soren has been stuck at the top level for months. He works on endurance now and fine tuning technique. I love to watch him swim. It's strong and graceful. He didn't mind being stuck at the top swimming laps, until Jonas made a sudden push toward the top. He passed two levels this winter until now he sits in just one below Soren. Which put them in the same class this session. Jonas is working so hard to out-perform his brother. With a little strength, he'll easily surpass Soren soon.

Marek has been in the last beginner level for months. He doesn't pass, over and over again, mostly because he often prefers to play rather than swim. He doesn't have much interest in reaching another level or trying harder. He just wants to laugh and play in the water. That's okay with me.

School

Of course, we have this daily school thing. Between the three boys, it seems we're constantly working on some kind of homework. There's reading logs, book reports, spelling words, math facts, and science projects. Times threeeeeee!!! I've never done so much homework in my life. Yeah, I know, I shouldn't be doing their homework. But, who do you think has to monitor all this at home schooling? Good parents. Last weekend, I was wondering around Home Depot looking for the right stuff for the famous "Egg Drop" project. I tried to keep their homework at arms length by handing over the supplies and telling them to create on their own. But still there's quite a bit of parental obligation when it comes to this homework thing.

Housework

All this time I kept thinking that when the boys got older my housework would get easier. That's because I'm an idiot. Housework does not get easier when your kids get older because having them help or teaching how to clean is a royal pain in the ass. It takes three times as long to empty and load a dishwasher with the help of an 8-year-old. A 5-year-old is great about bringing things like sticks inside and then adding duct tape and poster paint to them. Kids who are 7-years-old refuse to throw anything away and like to keep wrappers and school papers. All of my boys have discovered that sometimes shoving everything under the bed works, other times mom figures it out.

The Other Stuff

The other stuff is football, hiking, and too much television time. It is January after all. It's not stuff to write a blog about. Let's hope that life gets more interesting soon.


 

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Overprotecting

By Richie Ann Ashcraft
Friday, January 16, 2015

I've read quite a few articles lately like the one trending today, "Parents Under Investigation for Neglect After Allowing Kids to Walk to Playground," and of course they are worrisome to me as a parent.

I think a lot before I make a decision regarding the boys. And I always, always consult Marty to make sure he agrees with my decisions. I'd describe myself as the parent who errs on the side of caution. That being said, I don't feel as though I'm nearly as cautious as some parents I know.

The rules of parenting these days certainly have changed. Children don't walk anywhere by themselves. They aren't sent into stores to buy something on their own. They aren't left at home alone. They aren't trusted with sharp things or moving parts. They live on very, very short leashes.

And that's okay with me. I make my decisions based on my kids abilities and my own comfort level. What really bothers me about these kinds of stories is not so much whether or not I agree or disagree with someone's "free-range" parenting decision but that these parents are judged to the point of criminal offense.

These kinds of stories are bothersome to me because they undermine a normal parent's ability to make decisions based on their own judgment and not on the judgment of others. Parents should be able to call the shots. They should be able to determine when their child is capable of handling a certain situation on their own and when they're not. And they shouldn't have to worry whether or not their decisions about their child's independence will be judged so harshly.

I think most parents make reasonable and appropriate decisions regarding their child's independence. Those decisions should be judged on actual danger to a child, not perceived or potential danger. And, I don't think we should be so hard on parents who may believe in a different parenting style than our own.

This kind of media attention toward parents makes a momma paranoid — is all I'm saying. What do you think?

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