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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.


Best friends

By Robin Dearing
Friday, March 20, 2015

I've always been the disciplinarian in our house. I was the one who laid down the law, who enforced the rules, who did most of the yelling (both when it was needed and sometimes just because I'm a jerk who yells too much). 

Bill has always been the fun parent. He was the one who made the jokes, who was silly, who wrestled and laughed at fart jokes while I stood by like a disapproving rabbit. 

Bill still is the fun one. He makes my days so much better. He's an eternal optimist and helps me to see that everything will be OK even through sickness and sadness. He does so with a joke and a hug. He's been my best friend since I met him over 15 years ago. 

He and I have been a good parenting team, too. Our kid is a full-on teenager now. The teenage years are difficult for all those involved, but our kid is really taking it easy on us. She's doing great in school and will even be seen with us in public. We actually spend a lot of time together. We're so lucky.

Now that Margaret isn't a little kid anymore, she and I have forged a friendship underneath the blanket of our mother-daughter relationship. She and I have our own jokes and little dances, now. I love it. She and I are two peas in a pod. I love hanging out with her. She's funny as hell.  

Here's a picture Bill took last night, nothing terribly unusual for us:

Can you read Mar's comment? It says, "That moment when your mother is your best friend."

She's the best ... a best friend a momma could ever want.


Wordless Wednesday: Photo illustration

By Richie Ann Ashcraft
Wednesday, March 18, 2015


A few kid-movie reviews

By Richie Ann Ashcraft
Wednesday, March 11, 2015



I took Jonas and Marek to the "The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water" movie last weekend.

I tried so hard to get out of seeing this movie in the theater. So hard. I've been asked nearly every day since the beginning of the year until I finally caved. I am not a SpongeBob fan. He's annoying. I hate his laugh and I hate that the storyline is basically the same thing over and over again in each and every episode. But mostly, I hate his laugh.

Regardless, I figured it couldn't be that bad and much to my regret I ponied up $40 to see it. I can't even believe I actually spend $40 on SpongeBob. The things I do for these kids, I swear.

In this movie, like every other SpongeBob episode, something happens to the crabbypatty secret formula. Movie twist though — the Chum Bucket didn't steal it. Whoaaaa. So, SpongeBob teams up with Plankton to prove his innocence.

It took about half an hour to lay-out this truly complicated twist in the plot for kiddos. I'm pretty sure SpongeBob laughed about a million times. I ate my fill of popcorn, went to the bathroom a couple of times.

Then there was some more plot stuff. And I passed out. Cold. Right there in my seat. I never did see SpongeBob get out of the water. Most expensive nap ever! I woke up to clapping children who apparently thought it was the fantastic because they were having a spontaneous dance party front of the screen. Well, good for you SpongeBob, hope you like my $40.



I wouldn't have minded paying for this movie in the theater. Or, rather, I would have minded less.

Of course, I made the boys read the book first. The movie was very, very loosely based on the book. I mean, as in the main character has a bad day and he likes Australia.

This movie fit perfectly into the "family-movie" format. Crazy situations, resolve of those situations in a really good way. Everybody wins and everybody is happy. I'm not Jennifer Garner's biggest fan, but I actually thought she did a pretty good job playing a stressed-out mom. Steve Carell, of course, funny. This movie made me laugh at times and I stayed awake for the whole thing. That's a thumbs up in my book.


The "Book of LIfe" is okay. It's not thumbs-up the best or thumbs-down the worst ... it's okay. I've seen it twice because Marek convinced me to buy it because he thinks it's AWESOME!!!!

In this one, the main character, Manolo, sets out to find his true love through a series of fantasy worlds. It has excellent graphics and animation. Really pretty at times and I love all the references to Spanish culture, especially the Day of the Dead scenes. But, the story itself is kind of boring. The writing is not clever and basically just leads through plot.

And, there's this thing about the music. This show incorporated every single popular Top 40 tune whether it fits the movie or not. It's very song heavy and after awhile I found it annoying.

But, I watched it from the comfort of my couch and was able to distract myself with something else when the songs started playing, again.

It's worth a rent but not a buy.


‘Normal’ is becoming a thing of the past

By Robin Dearing
Friday, March 6, 2015

This week was supposed to be an easy one for me. Margaret only had to go to school one day for standardized testing. I only had to get up early once. I had planned on sleeping in, working, exercising, hanging out with Mar.

It didn’t work out that way. Instead, I had one of the most stressful weeks I can remember.

At band practice Tuesday night, I started feeling dizzy and weak. I couldn’t remember songs I had just practiced. Two days into the week and I was already stressed to the point of becoming ill.

Too much stress, not enough cortisol.

I should have known that the stress of dealing with all the crap I had to deal with on Monday and Tuesday was too much. I should have known I needed to take more medication. I should have …

I’ve been living with Addison’s disease for almost two years now and I still feel like I have no idea how to control it. I’m still always surprised when I start feeling sick.

Then once I am feeling sick, it’s too late. All I can do is double up my doses and hope it’s enough.

But the reality is that it’s not always enough.

I’m a member of several support groups for people with Addison’s and adrenal insufficiency online. Two women from these support groups died from this disease recently. One was 21, the other 45.

21 and 45 are too young for a disease that the textbooks say is easily managed with oral steroids. Obviously, those textbooks never had to live with this disease — neither did the people who wrote those textbooks.

Our little disease is so ill regarded. We have no celebrities with it. Just us regular people trying to live our regular lives.

Normally, Addison’s is just one part of me. “Normally” meaning the easy days when everything goes right and life is a breeze. “Normally” is becoming a thing of fiction.



By Richie Ann Ashcraft
Monday, March 2, 2015

I hate grounding just as much my kids do because it means that I'm grounded too.

But, what else to do? Grounding is the final weapon in my arsenal of discipline. I hate to use it, but at some point a kid does something that requires a stiff punishment. In our house, grounding means no television, no social activities, no family outings, and a slew of chores. This time it also included a letter of apology to a teacher for acting up in class.

Most of the time grounding is pretty effective in our house. The boys understand that when we ground someone, we mean business.

To tell the truth though, I'm terrible at the discipline thing. I let stuff slide. I've giggled when I should have been serious. I've threatened and then never followed-up. I've handed out light-punishments for harder crimes. And, I hate to use grounding because it means I've just grounded myself.

Can't my kids just be good? Or, is there a more effective form of discipline that I'm missing?


Wordless Wednesday: New Specs

By Richie Ann Ashcraft
Wednesday, February 25, 2015


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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