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By Richie Ann Ashcraft
Thursday, October 17, 2013
Jonas finally lost his first tooth. It's monumental because he's been waiting and waiting, checking and wiggling, ever since Soren lost his first tooth more than two years ago.
He could not be more proud or excited. The best part? It happened at school which shot him into instant Kindergarten popularity.
By end of school Tuesday, every kid knew that Jonas had lost his tooth, and in knowing, they also learned his name. By Wednesday morning's drop-off, the parents had all heard of the infamous loose tooth as well, and I was met with the lost tooth fame. "So, I heard Jonas lost a tooth AT SCHOOL!"
Sometimes, it's just such a thing that can help shy kids and their sometimes shy parents break the ice. Who would have guessed that this teeny-tiny tooth would lead to new friends.
By Robin Dearing
Tuesday, October 15, 2013
Saturday, Bill and I had our very dear friends over for dinner followed by a good long chat around the fire pit on our giant boulder in our backyard. As we are wont to do, we laughed a lot and eventually decided that we need to shoot some guns.
What? You don't get together with friends for dinner and then decide to shoot guns? We never did either, until Saturday night. But make plans to shoot guns, we did.
Sunday, we loaded up a bunch of the guns I inherited from my dad along with the re-usable grocery bag full of ammo and headed to the convenience store.
What? You don't stop at the convenience store for soda and candy before you shoot guns? OK, this was also a first for us. But it seemed more 'Merican to have a giant vat of sugary drinks to accompany our shooting of the guns.
Finally equipped with the accountrement of a shooting day, we bumped our way into the desert to the rifle range.
The range was full of like-minded folk (sans soda; I guess it's just how liberal academics shoot guns), but we found a spot and set up. As we were getting out of the car, Kristen said with a straight face, "If shooting is anything like archery on the Wii, then I should be good at this."
And you know what? Apparently shooting is just like archery on the Wii. Kristen had never shot a gun before, but hit the target with the rifle on her first round. We proved that in fact video game skillz do translate to real-world activities.
Even though I decided to not shoot (I'm still have trouble not flinching every time someone fired a weapon), it was a beautiful afternoon of watching people shoot stuff with guns which we followed with beers at Hooters.
As an aside, I would like to say that the costumes the Hooters girls wear are so sadly outdated. Who wears suntan pantyhose with shorts and scrunched up socks? No one since 1987. I think the fine women of Hooters need to stage a pantyhose protest.
Yes, so guns. Here are some pics of the gun shooters. Notice the gorgeous fall light on the Bookcliffs. Oh, Grand Valley, I love you so.
I love this one with Kristen and the shotgun. She's pretending to shoot zombies.
By Richie Ann Ashcraft
Monday, October 14, 2013
The Ashcraft's spent much of the weekend sick and holding down the couches.
So in my best Brtish accent, I said to them "What you need is The Doctah!"
Ha ha. Okay, I really didn't say that, but now that I think of it, I totally should have.
We did, however, snuggle down and watch hours and hours of "Dr. Who."
We're hooked to this B-rated British show. We're only on season 3 of 7 in the modern series. We're enjoying it so much that it doesn't look like we'll be stopping anytime soon.Words like Tardis, dialect, half-arachnid have entered our daily vocabulary.
A new favorite game around our house is for Marek to chase Jonas, while yelling "You must be eliminated."
I started watching the show on and off several years ago, but was pleasantly surprised to find the whole modern incarnation listed on Hulu Plus. So, we started with the introduction of "The Doctor" and our beloved "Rose Tyler."
Then the doctor switched bodies, and that was weird, and then Rose and the doctah were separated, and that was sad ...
But, the plot of the very long story is beside the point. What's great about Dr. Who is how it has spanned the generations. We haven't found many shows that capture the interest of our entire family — from 4 to 42.
We were worried that maybe it would be too scary for the boys, but they informed us "Even the scary parts aren't really that scary."
Plus, several times we've revealed our "Dr. Who" dork love in public. Once, in Cedaredge's Pioneer Town, Jonas and Soren entered an old phone booth and screamed "Look Mom, I'm in the Tardis." Then they made very loud whooshing noises. Instead of looking at us weird, the older woman next to us said "Oh my God! Are they talking about Dr. Who? That's hysterical ... but doesn't it come on pretty late?" I had to throw out the HULU defense, but still ...
It happened again in Barnes and Noble where they embraced the plush Tardis' with love to the delight of an older man. "I love those shows. Did you know there's a whole bunch of Dr. Who's"
My poor boys. Sometimes I think they have no chance of not ending up the biggest geeks ever. But at the same time, I see they're in good company because "Dr. Who" is loved by everybody no matter how old you are. And sometimes, it's okay that there's nothing more going in life than watching tv with your family.
Long live — The Doctah!
By Richie Ann Ashcraft
Friday, October 11, 2013
Post by Randee Bergen (www.randeebergen.wordpress.com.)
The pole on the street corner concealed her body, her hands the only evidence of her presence as they clutched the rounded handles of the umbrella stroller before her.
He sat, seemingly complacent, his two little mitts steadying a small cup in his lap, the straw protruding almost to his lips.
Traffic zoomed by as I sat in the left-hand turn lane.
Abruptly, he squirmed, then contorted his body up and back, upsetting his drink. His right arm reached high, toward his mom. Something. There was something he wanted. He twisted further. Stretched. Tried to get his knees into the seat for leverage to push himself up and turn around.
The hands, well, one of them, immediately shot from the stroller handle to his arm. Slender, yet powerful, fingers encircled the smallest part of his upraised wrist, grasped it, squeezed.
Oh no, don’t you dare. Don’t you dare jerk on that child’s arm, don’t yank him back into place. Talk to him. Have you talked to him? Asked him to sit back down and stay safe? Come out from behind the stroller, from behind that pole, look into his eyes, explain your thinking to him.
Don’t do it, lady. Don’t push my buttons.
But she did.
I cringed, as if that grip was tightening around my wrist. My muscles clenched, anticipating the discomfort of the wrenching at that peculiar angle.
As the little body rose from the stroller, losing all contact with it save for the thin strap that was now across his knees, she forced his hand—open wide, fingers reaching, eager —against the pole. Into the big round button.
Mission accomplished, she released him. He landed squarely in his seat, righted his drink, and beamed with satisfaction. For he was The Button Pusher.
By Robin Dearing
Thursday, October 10, 2013
In an attempt to shake the cobwebs out of my fuzzy brain, Bill and I decided to ride the motorcycle to Cedaredge for their Apple Fest on Sunday.
It was a bright sunny day and I desperately needed to get out of the house. We bundled up in our riding leathers and took off. It was glorious. I love riding on the back of Bill’s Triumph. There’s nothing to do, but still and enjoy the ride. The western Colorado landscape is so beautiful and our fall has been spectacular.
Cedaredge is a quaint little burgh. Everyone was out having a good time, eating fried food and listening to homespun music. I had a cinnamon roll followed by a Navajo taco. I’m regretting the extra pounds showing up on my scale, but I needed some fatty comfort food. Plus, what’s a festival without splurging?
We walked around the entire festival a couple of times. There were many vendors selling all sorts of crafts and what not. I wandered into Marianne King’s craft booth (MK Designs out of Montrose). She crochets various items and I was drawn to her ponchos. I touched the soft yarn and I knew I had to have one.
Yes, that’s right. I bought myself a crocheted poncho and I love it. I’ve been wearing it all the time and it’s so cozy. I especially like to wear it while I’m waiting for my mom to get her daily radiation treatment. Those hospital waiting rooms are chilly and my new poncho is like wearing a cozy, little blanket.
Take a look:
Cute, huh? Funny how a little thing like a homemade poncho can lift one’s spirits.
By Richie Ann Ashcraft
Wednesday, October 9, 2013
Post by Randee Bergen (Randee.Bergen.wordpress.com)
I’m supposed to be selling raffle tickets, but I’m not having any luck. I walk up and down the aisles of the high school auditorium, raffle tickets in hand, money bag tied around my waist. I stop several times and ask people if they want to buy one to support the music department. Ninety percent of them reveal tickets just bought. Apparently, that other mom got to them before I could.
So I leave the auditorium, skip out on my volunteer work, and go backstage into the music hallway to find my daughter and her choir girls. The halls are thick with students, not only choir students, but orchestra students and band students as well, and most of them have their instruments in two, making it difficult for me to navigate.
Tonight is the Fall Preview Concert. Seven different choirs, two orchestras, three jazz ensembles, three concert bands, and the entire marching band and its color guard will give the school community a sneak preview of what to expect this year. All within an hour and a half. The logistics of moving so many different groups in and out of the auditorium in an efficient manner will prove to be more amazing than the music itself.
I estimate there are close to 400 students milling around in the corridors behind stage. It's noisy and everyone's dressed in black. Somehow, I stumble upon my daughter. She is standing in a circle with several other friends.
I hug each of them and tell them they look beautiful.
Then, the hall quiets. Just a bit. Enough to hear that the intercom was on and an announcement made. But no one heard the message. No one around us anyway.
And then it spreads, starting as a whisper but building faster, louder, like a wild-fire in dry timber.
“Did he say lockdown?”
“We’re in a lockdown.”
“What? A lockdown? Who would call a lockdown now?”
“Lockdown! He said lockdown!”
The mob starts to move, slowly, building momentum like a rivulet of water being pushed by far away precipitation. Choir students head to the choir room, band and orchestra students to the band room. No one goes in the opposite direction; no students try to get to the auditorium, to their parents.
I don’t want to return to my raffle ticket headquarters station in the lobby, where I know I’ll be herded into the auditorium. I’m not sure I could make any progress against the current anyway. “I’m going with you guys,” I say to my daughter.
I’m not new to lockdowns. I practice them two or three times each school year with my second-grade students. At staff meetings, we have lengthy, in-depth, what-if discussions about them. Some lockdowns last for a long time, long enough that I’d rather be with my daughter and her friends than sitting in the auditorium by myself.
And I know that some lockdowns are not practices, that they’re real, meaning there is a real threat in the immediate area outside the school. If this is the case tonight, then yes, I absolutely want to be with my daughter and her friends.
“Yah, mom, come on.” My girl grabs my arm and brings me along into the choir room. “Let’s go in the office.”
I find myself in a small space between the large choir and band rooms, maybe five by ten feet. I grab the one and only chair, leaving a small couch for the three friends. But the girls, in their dressy choir attire, sit down on the floor.
We chat for a few seconds before my daughter gapes at me. “Get to the floor, mom! Get away from that window.” The words are whispered, yet urgent. She nods to the wall—and window—just inches behind where I sit.
I expect her friends to giggle. I expect my daughter to be kidding, in a way, about me having to sit on the floor. But such is not the case. These girls are solemn. They knew to go directly to the choir room, to find a spot, to sit on the floor, to check and make sure that everyone with them made it, to whisper, to encourage others to follow the expectations for a lockdown. They knew better than I did. This is their milieu, where they’ve been trained and where they practice.
Within a few moments, there is an announcement that the school has been cleared, that the lockdown is over. I stand and open the door between the office and the choir room and I’m a bit in awe at what I see. Over a hundred students are on the floor, still quiet, hesitant to rise, and there isn’t a teacher in sight, as far as I can tell. No one told these students what to do. No one had to supervise them.
It’s ten minutes before show time, so I make my way back to my raffle ticket headquarters. Was this a real lockdown or a drill? I know that principals are encouraged to practice locking down their buildings at odd times—before school, after school, and possibly, maybe, even ten minutes before a standing-room-only concert is to begin. But it’s doubtful that any principal would choose a situation like this to practice and I comprehend, now, what the students realized right away—there was a genuine risk to their safety and well-being.
What I witnessed tonight was the lockdown generation in action. These kids have grown up doing shelter-in-place and lockdown drills. They practiced them in elementary school, middle school, and now here at the high school. And they’re old enough, now, to be privy to the full details of school shootings that have occurred and mature enough to be included in discussions about all the unthinkable mayhem that could happen. This is their reality.
I compare this with my second grade students, with the way things are at an elementary building. At age eight, their understanding of lockdowns is in its infancy. They know that we have to stay inside for a while, they listen extra carefully during this time, and they stay away from the windows.
But they don’t get it. Most of them don’t know about the Sandy Hook school shooting, don’t know how many children were killed, that kids their age were shot to death, on purpose, in their classrooms, their teachers unable to protect them. We don’t tell eight-year-olds that we’re practicing just in case a crazy man with a gun comes to school because he feels like killing some kids that day. We tell them that we have to practice getting inside quickly and locking the doors and staying low and quiet just in case there’s a vicious dog on the playground. Or a gas leak in the area that makes the air unsafe to breathe. Or maybe a drunk person, who doesn’t know what he’s doing and is acting a little strange.
The horrible possibilities that lead to lockdowns are not a reality for second graders. They don’t understand that, when a lockdown is announced, their lives could be in danger. They’re too young, too innocent, too trusting. And, of course, they can’t know the finality of death.
What’s real for second graders is that they come to school to learn, to be with their friends, to spend time in a safe and predictable and happy place. As it should be.
If only we could keep it real for them, if only we could guarantee that their wholesome and innocent souls be chipped away at in small, manageable doses by the typical injustices of growing up and not worry that they might be hit with one giant atrocity, something that breaks apart their entire innocence, suddenly and forever. Soon enough they’ll grow up and into the real truth and into the reality of the high schoolers and, like the high school students, they, too, will know all too well what lockdowns are really about.
By Richie Ann Ashcraft
Monday, October 7, 2013
Last week, Marek insisted on wearing a ninja bandana instead of a baseball cap to T-ball. Of course, I said yes, because who doesn't want to be a T-ball ninja?
Come on — fer reals — we all do, but somewhere along the way we're told that something like that is inappropriate. I hate that about us. I love that children just do whatever they want to.
I also love that if he did get a second glance from somebody, all they said was "Aw, cute."
At what age does cute turn into weird? Cuz I hate that age. I want Marek to do his thing for as long as he can, so I say yes to T-ball ninja outfits, stripes and plaid, and kriss-kross pants. I don't care what anybody says, and neither should he.
Enjoy your kid freedom, Marek! T-ball ninjas rule!
By Robin Dearing
Friday, October 4, 2013
It’s been a blue kind of week. I hate writing when I feel like this because I can’t get around it. I’m run by my emotions. I can’t put aside the pressure on my chest. I can’t open the veil shrouding my outlook on life. I just have to let myself feel this way.
I have to think these thoughts and work through them. Trying to push aside my feelings is stupid and futile. My feelings are a not sign that I’m weak or a drama queen or anything said about people like me. My emotions are me, who I am, what makes me interesting.
But having said that, I hate reading stuff I’ve written when feeling down. I looked for anything I could post or link to instead of hashing this out. But the fact remains that I have to acknowledge how I’m feeling, put it out there, otherwise it won’t go away.
I keep trying to convince myself that it’s enough to just write this stuff and that I don’t need to publish this. Why not just show the sunny side of myself on my blog? Why not just bury this in my hard drive and be done with it?
Writing this blog is more than just putting words on a page. It’s the sharing. I prefer sharing the fun, positive side of my life, but into each life some rain must fall.
By Special to the Sentinel
Wednesday, October 2, 2013
Post by Randee Bergen (www.randeebergen.wordpress.com)
This weekend I went to Somewhere Else, Colorado. Somewhere I hadn’t been before. And then, shortly after, I went somewhere else. And then somewhere else.
It’s what we do here in the great state of Colorado. When we realize we have a free day, or, if we’re really lucky, an entire weekend to kill, we get in the car and go somewhere. It might be somewhere we’ve already been or it might be somewhere new, something we haven’t seen or experienced yet.
That’s just the way it is when you live here. You never run out of amazing and unique places to go. Plop me down anywhere in this state and, regardless of whether I’ve been there before or if I have no agenda or what the weather is doing, I can easily find plenty to do.
Setting up base camp at this lovely cabin at the Crystal River KOA in Carbondale.
Exploring the Grottos (also known as the Ice Caves) east of Aspen.
Hiking to the viewpoint of Independence Pass in 35 degrees and sleet on September 14, 2013.
Exercising my dog on the Crystal Valley Trail beneath Mt. Sopris (12,953 feet high).
The Night Glow portion of the Snowmass Balloon Festival on Fanny Hill (a ski run in Snowmass)
Sunrise launch in Snowmass Village.
Checking out the coke ovens near Marble, Colorado.
Shopping at Walmart in Glenwood Springs. (Yes, it’s true; my friend Jim forgot his duffle bag and needed clothing, shoes, and a toothbrush.)
So, yes, though I’ve been around this state and done all sorts of activities, I can now say I’ve been to Somewhere Else, Colorado. Actually, make that Several Somewhere Elses, Colorado.
I can’t wait for my next free weekend.
By Richie Ann Ashcraft
Tuesday, October 1, 2013
Last week, I met Robin downtown and told her about my upcoming plans to attend a work conference in Colorado Springs. It meant three nights in a hotel room without the hubby, children, the dog or the cat touching me while I slept. I've fantasized about a hotel key of my own for a long time. Needless to say, I was pretty excited.
As we parted ways, she said, "Enjoy not wearing any pants!"
Taking her advice, I didn't pack any of my usual sweat or pajama bottoms for lounging. I packed a nightgown. Stopped at the store and bought myself a number of luxury deli items like gouda and salami. Then, I shopped for my own minibar at the liquor store. It included cheap mini bottles of champagne. Oh, and did I mention it was my birthday? Not that I need an excuse for mini bottles of champagne but it seemed like a good justification to do-up this hotel fantasy right.
After six hours on the Interstate, I arrived in the hotel lobby just ahead of coworkers, Melinda and Rachel. You can read their blog here. The road had beaten us down. Our hair needed brushed. Melinda declared "I'm freakin' starving!"
I invited them to a pseudo-classy cocktail hour in my room. Did I mention that my room had a couch? Cuz it totally did and it was awesome! That's where I declared my intentions to not wear pants while watching copious amounts of TLC all weekend. Best quote of the whole weekend probably, Melinda said.
During the day, we sat in training.
At night, we headed downtown to an Irish Pub. But, not so secretly, I really couldn't wait to get back to my room to take off my pants and watch cable. I know, lots of people like to use work conferences to have a few drinks and cut loose. Maybe catch a show in a bigger city or check out the local shopping scene. I just wanted to use it as a momcation. A chance to enjoy some silence, some uninterrupted sleep and complete control of the remote. Maybe it's lame, but I don't care. At a point in my life where solitude is rare, I was going to enjoy every minute of alone time I could get.
On the final night, I found a Walgreen's where I bought myself some nice tweezers and a Cosmo. My room was cozy, the cable was streaming, and I hadn't drank all the wine yet. I painted my toes dark gray.
Then I called all my boys. I missed them. I told them I'd be home soon and I couldn't wait to hold them in my arms, every single one of them, including the dog and the cat.
It sounds lame, but three nights was too many. The first one, awesome. The second one, okay. As soon as the toes were pretty though, I was done.
This quiet is not my life anymore. It once was, but it's gone now. My life is chaotic and loud. There's crying and arguing and loud noises. There's sounds of building in the garage and football on the T.V. The dog barks. And, although it hurts my ears some days, the sounds of a bustling household are welcome. I love most of them. And, I missed all of them.
I didn't linger long on the way back home.
As I tucked Marek into bed he hugged me and said "Mommy, don't ever go to Colorado Springs again. I missed you."
Aw, it's good to miss each other every once in a while, but it's good to be back home too.