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Throwback Thursday: Baby Kip

By Richie Ann Ashcraft
Thursday, January 22, 2015


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.


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.


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.




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?


New year, new cold

By Robin Dearing
Friday, January 9, 2015

Hey y'all! What's up? What are you doing today?

According to Facebook, Richie is delivering guitars and ice to school children. Never a dull moment with that Haute Mama.

Me? What I am doing?

Oh, I'm just lying here in bed with yet another cold.

If you are counting, that's four colds in five months. I haven't had that many colds in the last four years. Poorly done, immune system, poorly done.

I've been trying to figure out why this is happening. I wash my hands and eat my fruits and vegetables. I exercise. Well, there are a lot of stairs in and around my house and I walk fast whenever possible.

I want to cry about how unfair it is that I keep getting sick. But that seems futile and my nose is already on overdrive.

I want to get over this cold as soon as possible. In the past, I've tried powering through it. I've tried total bed rest. I've even tried over-the-counter cold medicine (which resulted in my nose becoming dry and arid like the Gobi Desert. I thought it was going to crack and fall off.) I've tried denial and then pure acceptance.

I've tried drinking lots of water. I've tried drinking lots of Vitamin Water Zero. I've tried drinking lots of gluten-free beer (with that I ended with a cold and a hangover — not recommended).

Nothing works.

I'm giving up. Today, this gorgeous Friday, I'm lying in bed watching "Broad City" on Hulu (those girls needs to move to Colorado) and eating Glutino bread and ham sandwiches. 

What would you do if you were me? What are your fool-proof, make-me-feel-better, common-cold remedies? Or at the very least, what should I be watching on Hulu or HBO Plus?


Wordless Wednesday: White Christmas

By Richie Ann Ashcraft
Wednesday, January 7, 2015


A Christmas that I enjoyed

By Richie Ann Ashcraft
Monday, January 5, 2015

We had a great holiday season at the Ashcraft house. There was something about this year that made it better than previous years — my attitude.

I didn't stress about much this year. I didn't put any pressure on my self to find the perfect present for anyone. (Ask Julie — easiest shopping trip EVER!)

I truly tried to enjoy the experiences of Christmas and not just the few hours of Christmas morning. I savored the tree cutting. I laughed when Marek accidently flung flour across the kitchen, then we ate warm cookies together. I sat down and watched Christmas movies with the family, ignoring a mountain of laundry to be done. 

Any stress that might have built up was released with a Christmas Eve soak at Glenwood Hot Springs Pool.

Of course, there was Christmas morning ... and despite my relaxed efforts at shopping — everyone was very happy with what they received.


All these year I think I've been doing it wrong. I was always so stressed. Pressured to find the right present for the children. Worried their Christmas dreams would be dashed and it would ruin their childhoods. I worried the cookies wouldn't be pretty. I worried my house would be dirty and people would judge me.

Somewhere along the way, I guess I forgot that I should enjoy Christmas too.

This year I remembered what it is all about — making the holidays a time for everyone to enjoy.


Merry Christmas to all the Haute Mamas!

By Richie Ann Ashcraft
Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Phew, I'm finally done. The gift shopping is done, the tree is up, the cookies are baked. Granted, I have the last minute house cleaning and the cooking left. Okay, face it, Christmas stuff for moms is never really done, until it's over.

Regardless, here's wishing my fellow bloggers Robin and Randee, and all our Haute Mamas readers a very Merry Christmas.


Merry whatever you want this season to be

By Robin Dearing
Tuesday, December 16, 2014

For the last few years, I've written about how we celebrate fake Christmas/Festivus. Now that Margaret and my neice and nephew are older, we all like to travel for Christmas ... somewhere warm with sand and all-inclusive cocktails. 

This year is no exception.

Since we won't be in town on the actual holiday, we get to pick a day to celebrate that suits our schedule. Saturday was the day we held our annual, fake Christmas. It was wonderful. The best gift was spending time with this little bundle:

That is my precious granddaughter, Miss Averi Jean. Adorable, I know.

Averi was born Dec. 3, well over a week past her doctors-have-no-idea-when-a-baby-is-going-to-come due date. Her mama, Lacie, was amazing through a very challenging, induced labor and Averi was born with no complications. I bawled my eyes out. It was the most amazing thing I've ever witnessed.

Sean and Lacie have eased into parenthood with so much grace and aplomb, you'd think this was their third kid, not their first. It's so fun to watch them with their baby. They love her so much and are so happy to have started their family.

With Averi's arrival, I also made an immediate transformation. I went from doting mom full of middle-age malaise to insta-grandmother. Ask about the baby, I have many, many pictures to show you. Many. I bought groceries and made casseroles for the new parents. The only thing that has stopped me from taking up permanent residence on their couch is a terrible cold I came down with during finals week.

My illness didn't allow for my regular scheduled fake Christmas festivities. Instead, this year (for the first time ... ever), Bill did a bunch of the shopping and errand running. It was so wonderful. Bill also started getting up with Margaret, making her lunches and breakfasts and taking her to school. Even though I've been very ill, it was like a mini-pre-vacation.

So now that our presents are opened (I got exactly what I wanted a Scrub Daddy and a Kindle Paperwhite) and Hickory Farms sausages are eaten, I'm just floating this week. I still have a bit of a cough and I get tired and sweaty cleaning the house, but it's so lovely to have a bit of time when I'm not rushing to the next thing I gotta do.

I think this is my favorite part of our fake Christmas, the time I get to slow down and relax and focus on feeling better. I've cut back on a lot of things I used to do around Christmas. I no longer send out Christmas cards or make ornaments with Mar or bake. We've cut back on how much we spend and what we buy. And I breath a lot easier for it. 

I'm running all the time and I'm exhausted all the time. I was sick three times this semester. I've worn myself down to a nub. Cutting back is a wonderful feeling and I'm going to make it part of my holiday season every year. 

I hope all of our wonderful Haute Mama readers have exactly the holiday season they want or at least need ... and if not, I hope your holiday season is full of delicious cocktails and meat sticks.

Merry Christmas!



By Richie Ann Ashcraft
Monday, December 15, 2014

The boys are starting to get very excited for Christmas. And they've tried hard to convince me that it is safe to put wrapped presents under the Christmas tree because this year they are mature enough not to peek.

They've been peekers every since they were little and I'm smart enough to know that this Christmas is no different than any other.

Jonas bought a couple of presents on Saturday that we wrapped up. We didn't have a box for one item, so I put it in a small Tupperware.

About an hour later I hear Marek yell "The top is red!"

Then silence.

Then — "Soren, it's a Tupperware!"

Uh huh. But, they insist they can do it and I trust them. I trust them enough that I wrapped a few more presents and put them under the tree. If they get through the paper, and I know they will, they're going to discover a box of Cheez-Its, spaghetti noodles, and fruit snacks. What's in the box will remain a Christmas mystery.

Any other Christmas tricks to prevent peeking that I should be aware of? I love to know.


Our Christmas tree

By Richie Ann Ashcraft
Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Here's the 2014 Ashcraft Christmas tree:

Last Sunday, I made gathered up the family and took them on an adventure to the Covered Bridge Ranch in Montrose. I know that driving all the way to Montrose just to get a Christmas tree seems a bit ridiculous. and, I know there are plenty of trees in closer lots that support local nonprofits and such. But, I wanted the cutting experience. I wanted the adventure more than the tree. Mostly, I wanted it to be an enjoyable family experience.

This farm delivered, starting with the beautiful covered bridge entryway decorated for Christmas. This picture is from their website, obviously, since there hasn't been even the tiniest snowflake in the valley yet.

Upon arrival, we were directed by very friendly folks to get on the hayride. Much to our happiness, this included Kip and on a side note, this is one of the most dog-friendly places I've ever been to.

(This picture is also from their website. I was having so much fun I forgot to take any pictures. Doh!)

So, we rode the tractor-trailer down to the field of trees where another friendly guy gave us a quick lesson in Christmas trees. He suggested we get a Spruce-Pine because they are kid-friendly (meaning not poky,) pretty and the most economical. He said they were "America's Christmas tree" because they are the most popular tree sold in the United States.

Sounded good to us. We walked all through the field, discussing the flaws of every tree until we found just the right one. Not too big, not too small, not too wide, but just right.

It took the boys about 20 minutes to cut it down. Marty and I didn't help at all. They took turns and bossed each other then yelled "TIMBER" at just the right time. We carried it to the road and waited to be picked up by the hayride for the return journey. As we waited, Kip took a little tinkle on the top of our tree. Guess it was ours.

When we got back to the main area, the friendly guys wrapped our tree while we petted the animals, browsed the gift shop, and watched the boys roast free marshmallows over the open fire pit.

On the way out, the tree was tied to the top of the car and we were back on our way. Everyone LOVED getting our Christmas tree this year and talked enthusiastically about returning next year.

If you haven't gotten your tree yet, I highly suggest a trip to Montrose. We love the Covered Bridge Ranch!

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