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Page 6 of 174

Reading the same book

By Richie Ann Ashcraft
Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Soren and I are reading the same book. It didn't really occur to me how cool that is until I had a few minutes to read by the pool as I sort of watched the boys during swim lessons. We're sharing "The Maze Runner" by James Dashner.

Soren chose this book at his school's book fair because it is the most popular book in the third grade right now. All the kids are reading it, he said.

I was a little hesitant because as he puts it "it's a novel you know" and I was suspicious of letting him read a novel that I hadn't read before. I told him that I'd buy it as long as I got to read it too. I figured I'd read really fast to make sure there wasn't anything inappropriate in it. I just wanted to make sure that his reading capabilities didn't over-match his maturity level.

So, as I sat by the side of the pool, I realized that hover reading was a whole new genre for me. When I read about a kid getting chopped in half, I thought "Hmmmm .... is that okay for Soren to read?" Then, they introduced a girl into the mix of prison boys and I thought "Um, where is this going?"

I need to read faster.

When Soren got out of the pool the first thing he said was "How far did you get?"

"I got to where the kid got chopped in half and the girl came."

"Whoa .... wasn't that cool? Later they find out he's buried in the cemetery. Don't read too far ahead mom, we're reading it together."

Then, Soren and I talked about the book nonstop on the ride home. It's a super cool new experience for us, this sharing of a "novel," so I'm hoping that it stays PG and I don't have to cut it short. No spoilers please!


Thank you, Veterans

By Robin Dearing
Tuesday, November 11, 2014


Just one day

By Robin Dearing
Monday, November 10, 2014

I would love to have a vacation day from this wretched disease — a day when I wasn’t constantly reminded that I am no longer in control of how I feel, what I eat, what I can do, how I can spend my money.

I would love to not have to worry about the medical bills and not feel guilty that my family has had to sacrifice so much because the medical insurance company needs their cut … with interest.

I would love to be able to eat a sandwich with real bread and drink a regular beer … even a shitty, domestic beer would be awesome without it making me so sick and ruining my gut.

I would love to be able to make it up the two flights of stairs to my office without having my legs feel like lead and worrying whether today was going to be the day I couldn’t.

I would love to not have to take archaic drugs that rot my bones and completely disrupt my metabolism.

I would love to have a day, a single day, without knee and hip pain and fatigue so sincere I feel like I have the flu — everyday.

I would love to feel, act, seem, be the way I was before my own body turned on itself. I would love to be treated the same way as I was before, too.

I would love to have the energy and ability at the end of the day after dinner is done and work is completed and errands are run to do something I enjoy, like play my guitar, make a quilt or even read.

I would love to have a day when my kid didn’t have to worry about whether I was physically able to take care of her, get her where she needs to be, do the things a mom does.

I don’t want more than I had before, just the same.


Halloween night

By Richie Ann Ashcraft
Monday, November 3, 2014

Check out Kip's spooky extra set of ears! It's bat-Kip and his trusty clan of tough guys!



By Robin Dearing
Friday, October 31, 2014


The joys of working at home

By Robin Dearing
Monday, October 27, 2014

It's Monday. That means I'm at my desk upstairs writing lectures for my art history classes surrounded by piles of books, a dog and a cat or two.

I was startled by the doorbell when it rang about 10 minutes ago. I trotted downstairs thinking that we hadn't ordered anything and wasn't expecting anyone. I was muttering about being bothered while I was working as I approached the front door.

I noticed a man and a woman looking toward the street standing on my porch. They were nicely dressed and carrying pamphlets and a thick book.

Church people, or at least, religious people of some sort.

They hadn't seen me yet, so I quickly crouched down on the tile floor next to the door. 

I heard them talking. I waited.

I considered taking a nap. But the tile is cold and hard. 

I waited a bit longer. While I didn't want to talk to them, I also didn't want to hurt their feelings. I'm sure they were lovely folks only trying to offer some form of salvation or atonement. But I just wasn't in the mood to: A. Disappoint them. They must get so much negative feedback. B. Listen to what they had to say. It's Monday, not a day I want to take time from writing my lecture on Islamic Art to discuss whichever religion they were touting.

I started to laugh. I didn't owe them anything. I didn't ask them to ring my bell. But there I was a fully grown, middle-aged woman scrabbling around on the hard, tile floor because I didn't want to have a conversation with strangers at my door.

Finally, I picked myself up and got back to work. 

I do some strange things sometimes and I'm glad I don't have coworkers around when I do.


Pinterest is bad slash good for party planning

By Richie Ann Ashcraft
Thursday, October 23, 2014

Yup, talking about Pinterest again. What can I say? It has become an encyclopedia of sorts for homemaking. Or cooking. Or party planning. So of course I went there first when I started planning Melinda's baby shower. You can read about it here!

I started a board called "Melinda's Baby Shower" and I started looking around at baby shower things. I fell in love with this orange and pink picture:

I love the orange and pink baby shower and decided it was the perfect thing for an October baby shower for a little girl. I spent a long time, and I mean a looooong time, amusing myself with orange and pink pinning. I had so many ideas for the perfect shower from candy buffets to cheesecakes to favors.

I had done so much pinning that when it came time to shop I found myself a bit overwhelmed. As much as I'd love to throw the perfect shower, (like the kinds of very extravagent parties that are shown on Pinterest — wow — have you seen some of these parties?) I also knew that I'd better get a little more realistic. I had to talk myself out of the world of Pinterest and back into the reality of Big Lots.

The reality was it is really hard to buy things that are orange and pink. I know it sounds so easy but not so much. Most the orange this time of year is a fallish type hue or a Halloween-type hue, both of which aren't exactly what I was looking for. And pinks this time of year tend to be more maroon rather than fuchsia. I ended up with some orange candle holders that I filled with bright pink carnation.

I found pink fans and white laterns to hang from the roof over my patio area. The game prizes were simple manicure and nail polish sets.

The food table was covered in white with a decorative jar filled with pink candy, a subway art sign, orange plates and napkins. We forgot to take a picture of it. Maybe because the end was filled with wine and champagne.

Was it Pinterest perfect? Nope. But we did have a good time on a beautiful day in my backyard. And most importantly, we showered Melinda with love and support and gifts for her new baby. That's all that really matters.


It’s a girl!

By Robin Dearing
Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Last Friday was my mom's 71st birthday. We decided to celebrate by taking an impromtu trip to Denver. 

Saturday, we visited the Denver Botanical Gardens to see the Dale Chihuly blown-glass exhibit.  It's really something beautiful. If you are going to be in Denver before the end of November, go see it, you won't regret it.

Because it was her birthday weekend, Shirley got to decide where we had dinner. She loves crab and had heard about Joe's Crab Shack, so, off we went. We were met by my Aunt Cynthia and Uncle Rich. Also, my stepson, Sean, was in Aurora for the weekend drilling with the Air National Guard, so he joined us, too. Lookit Sean and his dad in their crab-eatin' bibs:

At dinner, all I wanted to talk about was the impending arrival of Sean's baby girl. Yep, Sean and his lovely wife, Lacie, are expecting their first child in just a few weeks.

I'm going to be a grandmother, people.

And I couldn't be happier. I've been known to cradle baby outfits in my arms and get teary-eyed thinking about holding my grandbaby.

It's been such a delight watching Sean and Lacie through this pregnancy. They've been married two years and have been trying for a baby. It didn't happen as easily as they had hoped, but this pregnancy has gone smoothly. Thank goodness for that.

Seeing Sean light up when talking about the arrival of his baby girl is really touching. Watching Lacie take meticulous care of herself has been quite inspiring. She's one of those beautiful pregnant women that you see in baby magazines. Here, take a look:

What a gorgeous baby they'll have, eh?

With all the illness and death we've suffered in the recent years, it's so wonderful to be able to focus on the joy of watching Sean and Lacie embark on the incredibly journey of parenthood. I'm excited for all of us grandparents of this baby, not to mention the aunts and uncles. She will be so loved.

So, yeah, Margaret will become an aunt at 14 and I will become a grandmother at 44. I relish the role and can't wait to hold that baby in my arms. 

Really, the only thing I didn't immediately love about becoming a grandmother was the idea of being called, "Gramma." 

I started looking through lists of grandmother names and coudn't find anything that I thought suited me. Then, while camping over the summer, my dear friend, Pam, came up with "Birdy," a nod to my name, but still distinctly gramma-ish.

So next month, I'll be taking on a new role and yes, you can call me Birdy.


Movie Review: “The Boxtrolls”

By Richie Ann Ashcraft
Wednesday, October 15, 2014

We don't go to the movies much, frankly because it is really expensive to take a family of five to the movies. We're pretty picky about what we're going to see on the big screen and what we can wait to see on Apple TV or Netfix.

The boys wanted to see "The Boxtrolls" for months. We relented and went as a family to see it on opening weekend.

Jonas in particular loves these dark looking cartoons like "Coraline" and "The Corpse Bride."

This one did not disappoint. It had enough action and sophisticated jokery to keep Marty and I entertained as well as the kids.

But, this villian:

He gets weirder and scarier as the movie goes along. Marek edged closer and closer to me, until he finally ended up in my lap whispering "what's wrong with that guy?"

Even the good guys, the trolls, have bugs crawling on them. As a matter of a fact, pretty much every character is bit scary, as is the scenery, and so is the overall premise of an orphaned boy being raised by trolls in the sewer. It's because of this that I'd not recommend this movie to young children or those easily scared.

My boys loved it though and Jonas, in particular, declared it "the best." It has a greatly happy ending and if you stick around after the credits it pays tribute to the stop-action animators.

It gets a two thumbs up from the Ashcraft boys, well, maybe one thumb from Marek, but still — it's worth the box office prices.



Lunches for men

By Richie Ann Ashcraft
Monday, October 13, 2014

Robin was talking about lunches last week and my comment to her was that I struggle with the exact same thing every single morning.

I'd like to think I'm not too bad at the lunch thing. I always vary it from day to day, include utensils and a napkin. I've also been trying some new things, like chicken nuggets in the Thermos. (Eh, on that the boys said.)

This morning I packed Healthy Choice chicken and noodle soup, saltines, pineapple tidbits, and a cake pop. It was Marek's snack day at school so made sure to include a cake pop for each of the boys.

I saw Soren just after lunch and asked him "How was lunch?" He gave me an embarrasses slash horrfied look. "What?" I asked.

"Mom, no boys eat cake pops," he whispered. "I'm not eating it. "

"Oh. Ok."

Apparently cake pops are not manly enough for third grade boys.

Got it. No cake pops.

It reminded me of the time Marty came home from work and said "Richie, I really like your lunches but please don't put butterfly crackers in them. I had to hide in my truck and eat my lunch by myself."

Apparently butterfly crackers with a light egg salad are not something men like eat in public on a construction site.

Time for me to manly up the lunches I guess.

Page 6 of 174


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