Follow the Haute Mamas on Twitter by clicking HERE.
By Richie Ann Ashcraft
Monday, August 19, 2013
Here's the obligatory first day of school picture.
Notice Soren's not in it. That's because apparently 2nd graders can't be bothered with these things. He wouldn't get in the picture. Nope. No Way. No How.
Jonas refused to wear his new cute outfit.
Marek insisted he wear his new baseball cap with a football shirt.
Why did I bother to buy cute first day of school outfits?
Fine whatever — get in the dang car.
When we hit the parking lot, Soren jumped out and met up with his friend and started to race away. What? I called after him:
"Soren, I love you."
He ignored me.
"Soren, have a good first day of school," I called loudly.
"STOP IT MOM!!!"
I held Jonas' hand all the way down to the Kindergarten. I got choked up when I asked if he knew which backpack pocket I put his snack in.
"Yes, mom ...."
Fine whatever. At least he allowed me to kiss and hug him before I left.
Well, there's always Marek.
I asked him to hang his hat up on the hook. Which he did. He held my hand, he kissed me, and he ran back and whispered "I love you mommy."
Awww — love them when they're four.
As I walked out of the school though I realized that I was leaving all three of them at the school at the same time. I had a whole hour to myself. Why hadn't I realized that?
I am going to have a whole hour to myself twice a week. Oh, the beautiful things I can do with a whole hour to myself. I could walk, outside, without supervision. I could get a latte. Try on shoes. Go back to bed.
I'm rejoicing my new found freedom. Any suggestions?
By Robin Dearing
Thursday, August 15, 2013
It’s been eight weeks exactly since I was diagnosed with Addison’s disease. I’m still very happy to have survived the whole ordeal — I doubt that will ever go away. I know I’m very lucky. On most days that is enough.
On others, not so much. Sometimes I’m completely overwhelmed.
I’m suffering side effects from the oral steroids. My GI tract is all messed up. Never having suffered chronic GI maladies, I feel stupid not knowing how to manage it. And there’s an issue with my insurance covering the meds. Blah, blah, blerg.
And then, there’s a giant rainbow zebra sitting on my chest.
See, I don’t just have Addison’s disease and thyroid disease. According to my endocrinologist, I have Autoimmune Polyendocrine Syndrome, either Type 1 or Type 2. Type 1 means it is hereditary and I could have passed it to Margaret (that is quite the weight to be carrying, let me tell you what). I’m waiting on the DNA mapping to find that out. Type 2 means that my autoimmune system is a jerk and is killing off my endocrine system for no good reason.
The med student at the hospital when I was diagnosed called mine a rainbow zebra disease. Zebras are the rare diseases a doctor looks for when all the routine ailments have been ruled out. My zebra is so rare (one website said there are 500 people worldwide with this syndrome), they call it a rainbow zebra.
Well, ain’t that just peas and carrots.
I can’t even pretend this first week back at the school routine hasn’t been rough. Not enough sleep, too much going on, my kitten keeps stealing my pen when I’m trying to write curriculum (OK, that part isn’t so bad, she’s pretty dang cute). I’m desperate for some decent rest, but my classes aren’t going to write themselves.
So onward I plow, trying to take stock in all that is good, remembering what could have been. Fetching my pen from the kitten once again. It could have ended up so much worse.
By Special to the Sentinel
Thursday, August 15, 2013
Post by Randee Bergen www.randeebergen.wordpress.com
My brother recently posted this Life is Good picture on my Facebook wall. “From one morning person to another,” were the unwritten words, “ with love and understanding.”
When I was a kid, my mom would call my name tenderly from the kitchen, as she went about her business, and I would pop out of bed, instantly awake, straightening the sheets and covers behind me. As an adult—despite working full-time and being a (practically) single mother of two kids who are 17 months apart—I have been up at 4:30 a.m. five mornings out of seven, for nearly two decades, to exercise or get caught up on work or household chores. And, believe it or not, I didn’t experiment with the snooze button on the alarm clock until I was in my forties. I don’t know what finally possessed me. My significant other tells me that I should have been a firefighter because I can be up and ready to go in just a few minutes.
But I prefer to take my time and ease into the morning. The alarm beeps at 4:30 so I have plenty of time to get ready, have a Diet Coke and some breakfast, and take a look at the newspaper or get online. Yes, I drink Diet Coke and not coffee and yes, I eat at 4:45 a.m. and then, most days, have a second breakfast around 7:00.
So, yeah, I’d say I’m a morning person. That early hour, 4:30 to 5:30, is my time. It was the only hour I had to myself for a decade worth of days when the girls were young. I wouldn’t miss it, or sleep through it, for very many reasons. Now that the daughters are teens, I have more time for myself, but the early morning is the only guaranteed time for me. Life wakes up soon after and starts demanding all of my time and energy.
This is true in the summer, too, albeit, being a teacher, it seems I could get up whenever I desire. Still, most days, I choose 4:30 and exercise while it’s still cool. I’ll take a nap later if I need to. Napping is not, of course, an option during the school year and so I must be in bed by 8:00 or so every night.
Whatever I end up doing, I’m usually done by the time most people are waking up to start their day. And I fall right into the rhythm then of a typical morning—shower, spend time with the girls, have my (second) breakfast, and, if school is in session, be on my merry way to teach.
I like to think that I’m adding time to each day, to my life. But probably not, once I've added in the naps and having to go to bed earlier. Still, though I may not actually gain time, I know, as a result of the exercise, that I have more energy to commit to each day. And because I wake with an attitude of wanting to be up to take advantage of this hour, I’m sure I am more passionate about life and more appreciative of the inestimability of time than I may otherwise be. And this is why it makes sense to me to wake so early. Because life is good. Every hour of it.
Rise and shine.
By Richie Ann Ashcraft
Monday, August 12, 2013
I can't say I'm super excited to send the kids back to school. Mostly, because it means I have to get up early, cook breakfast, make lunches, oversee homework, swim lessons and baseball.
I've done a good job this summer of using that extra time for myself.
I've had a lunch hour that I've used it to paint my toes and get my hair fixed. Our dinners have been simple, the laundry semi-done and I've made no apologies for it.
Most importantly though, I've found time to play with the boys. We've invented pool games with dangerous names like "drowning" and "undertow." We've made suncatchers and watched movies. We dabbled our toes in the ocean and ate fish n' chips out of a boat.
I've been the good guy and not the bad rule-setter that comes out when school starts.
It's time for me to get not only the boys together but myself as well. I'd be happy if the summer were neverending.
Goodbye lunch hour. Goodbye painted toes. Goodbye summer of 2013. It was good while it lasted.
By Special to the Sentinel
Friday, August 9, 2013
Post by Randee Bergen www.randeebergen.wordpress.com
It’s Back-to-School time. I know, not because of the date on the calendar; I can just sense it. First, I’m starting to feel a bit worthless, feeling like I’m not contributing to society as I should be. I miss my work, my purpose, my colleagues, the kids. And, my body is sufficiently confused about whether it’s nap time or night time. It’s no wonder. Summertime means goofy sleep patterns—staying up writing until 12:15, then waking at 3:10 a.m. (Is the nap over?), playing racquetball at 5:00 a.m., and then returning home to sleep some more. Yes, it’s time to get back to a regular schedule.
There are two unique things about teaching that I wish applied to all employed people. And, no, I’m not going to say June and July. The first does involve time off, but it’s not just those summer months and it’s more than not having to go to work. And the second has to do with the cyclic nature of my profession.
Of course, as a teacher, it’s nice to have a couple months off from work. I appreciate the time to pursue other endeavors—increased exercise in hope of losing at least a few of the those pounds I gained over the winter; painting a couple of rooms in my house; working closely with my editor to get the last little details in place for my book to be published; and, building two websites and starting to blog. And, as a parent, it’s nice to be a stay-at-home mom, at least for a short period of time.
In addition to the summer break, there are the occasional three-day weekends, Thanksgiving week, two weeks off around Christmas, and Spring Break. In my opinion, everyone—no matter their profession—should have similar breaks built into their work schedules. Perhaps, with some jobs, there could be the choice of working instead of having to take the time off. If that were the case, it would be important that the built-in breaks didn’t automatically affect the overall annual salary (as it does with teaching).
I believe it would be mentally, physically, and emotionally healthy for everyone to have the time to explore new avenues, start and finish projects without the stress and time constraints of regular work days, and tend to other requirements in life—yard work, cleaning closets, being there for aging parents or friends in need. It’s disconcerting to me that some people have to devote all of their hard-earned vacation time to obligations. The extra breaks, if one chose to utilize them, would afford the opportunity to try new activities, go places, and spend more quality time with loved ones.
The extra days off, too, contribute to us teachers being more altruistic with our time. This summer I spent six days in classes, learning about the new Common Core State Standards and different lesson ideas and approaches for implementing them in the classroom. I also put about ten hours of time into creating a website for my classroom, which will assist parents in staying more informed about and connected with their children’s education. Then there’s the networking I do with other teachers and the hours and hours of time spent researching online, looking for new ideas. And, I have been to my classroom several times this past month, rethinking—as I do every year—how best to arrange the furniture and what instructional supports I can place around the classroom. For example, I change the word wall a little every summer, with the hope that it will be at least a tiny bit more accessible to my students. I am willing to contribute this time to my career because the breaks allow me to do this while still attending to other life matters as well.
Another neat thing about my job is its inherent cyclicity. There are distinct beginnings and ends with the work that I do. The beginnings provide the opportunity to do the same job over again but to do it better, while the endings are the perfect time to reflect and evaluate and think about the changes that will make that next beginning as good as it can be. Each spring, though the end of a school year is approaching, I start thinking about the beginning. The beginning of next year. What do I want to modify—in terms of the schedule and routines, the materials I use, or the techniques and strategies that I employ? The end of the school year also creates a concrete deadline for teachers; we know exactly how long we have to cover all of the mandated material and to ensure that our students are where they need to be. If school was ongoing, if kids and teachers didn’t have a summer break, it would not be as conducive to getting as much accomplished as we possibly can.
What if everyone, at every job, had distinct “start over and try to do it better” days at least once every calendar year? Every employee would be asked to reflect upon his or her performance over the past several months and come up with one or two changes or new ideas to try in hopes of doing their job better. Maybe there are structures like this in place within some companies. I surely hope so. I know that my effectiveness as a teacher is dependent upon these clearly defined beginnings and endings.
So it’s back-to-school time, something I welcome every year. I have been thinking about and getting ready for the 2013-2014 school year for several months now. I look forward to putting into practice the new things I learned in my classes this summer, the program changes I’ve thought through, and working with the new students I’ll meet in the very near future. I’ve been teaching for 22 years and I still absolutely love my job. Much of that love is created by the time off—absence makes a heart grow fonder—and by the desire to do it bigger and better than I ever have in the past.
By Richie Ann Ashcraft
Thursday, August 8, 2013
Jonas turned 6 this week (sniff) and I'm predicting it's going to be the year he blossoms.
Every year, he becomes more and more outgoing and gains a little self-confidence. In the past couple of years, he's come so far from the little boy who would hide behind my leg at every opportunity. He's becoming more comfortable talking to strangers and he's learning to rely less on his brothers to do his socializing for him and standing more and more on his own two feet.
We celebrated the big No. 6 with a bowling party. Wow, bowling parties are crazy. My advice to parents considering one would be to keep the guest list as small as possible. Getting 15 pairs of bowling shoes, balls, lanes, and bumpers, then pizza, and soda and cake and presents together at a bowling alley is pretty chaotic. But, a wonderful and very loud chaos that serves for awesome fun!
Jonas loved every minute of it and didn't notice my hair getting grayer by the minute.
He finally requested a guitar cake, so of course, I made him one. Actually, I made my mom decorate this one, but it still counts.
This was the easiest cake I've ever made. Directions are available here: THANKS BETTY CROCKER!
Jonas is still the rocker and he requested an iPod and a microphone for his birthday. He got both and is now happily jamming to AC/DC in the basement. I'm hoping the batteries die soon, but also LOVE his passion for music. Lessons are in his near future.
Yup, he's officially a big KID now, a fact he tells me about on a near daily basis. He start kindergarten in a few weeks and whereas last year I was hesitant, this year I'm excited for him to start because I know he's 100 percent ready and will thrive.
I can't wait to watch him grow this year and see him bloom. He's one awesome kid!
By Robin Dearing
Wednesday, August 7, 2013
Within the last month, I was finally able to cross two things off my bucket list: I saw a festival at Telluride Town Park and a big concert at the famed Red Rocks Amphitheater.
I know, I know, so many of you are shaking your head, asking, “What took you so long?” I don’t know. Those two shows might just be my favorite concert experiences ever. And listen here, I’ve seen me some shows: Nirvana opening for Red Hot Chili Peppers at the Cow Palace in San Francisco, The Rolling Stones, The Who, The Grateful Dead and Bob Dylan at RFK Stadium in D.C. on a hot night when Jerry made it rain, the first three years of the Lollapalooza festivals (including Jane’s Addiction, Siouxsie & the Banshees, Violent Femmes), Primus (11 times including front-row at our own Avalon Theater) … I can’t even begin to remember all the shows I’ve seen over the years.
Of course, I’m still viewing my life through my “I’m not dead” eyes and that could be the reason why these two shows seemed so much better/more fun/generally awesome than other shows I’ve seen, but I know it had something to do with the venues, as well.
For years, I’ve had friends tell me that the Telluride Bluegrass Festival is the best thing next to sliced bread, saying the venue was a big part of the reason. I like bluegrass music, but not enough to have actually attended the festival. But this year we heard about the Ride Festival in time to get tickets to the Sunday show. I finally got to see the Drive By Truckers, Cake, Son Volt, David Bryne and found my favorite new band, Brother and Bones (who were playing for the first time in the United States. I warned them they'd probably never play a better venue, they agreed).
And can I just say … I TOTALLY GET IT! Seeing great band after great band was made exponentially more awesome because of the venue. Telluride Town Park which sits in a gorgeous valley at the end the town of Telluride is so breath-taking that each act commented on it. The weather never got too hot, nor too rainy, just the perfect amount of both. The people were there to have a good time and there were no strangers.
That Sunday at the Ride Festival had me repeating, “This is my best day ever!” And nothing happened on the whole trip to make it not so.
We stayed at The Peaks in Mountain Village over the mountain from Telluride. We took the free gondola which meant we didn’t have to drive and we could pull our wagon full of chairs and a cooler to the venue with no problem. It was easy, fun, awesome and the quiet ride over the mountain was sublime.
Why did I wait so long to see a show there? I decided I wanted to see every show at Telluride Town Park from then on.
Just like Telluride, everyone who has seen a show at Red Rocks Amphitheater in Morrison has said that Red Rocks is also the best venue ever and makes any show one of the best you’ll see. Monday night, we got the opportunity to see that for ourselves.
For Margaret’s 13th birthday, Bill and I bought her tickets to see Bruno Mars at Red Rocks. Mar listens to a lot of different music, but pop is her favorite genre. She’s not interested in classic rock, country and definitely not the ‘80s music I listened to at her age. She knows the words to pretty much every song played on Magic 93.1, but her favorite singer is Bruno Mars. Thank goodness.
Having been to so many venues, I knew immediately Red Rocks was different, the road looked like the entrance to Mesa Verde or the Colorado National Monument. There was a deer snacking on the wild grass among the beautiful red rocks projecting skyward along the road.
There are 23 flights of stairs from the parking lot road to the stage. I was carrying a bag with our rain ponchos and coats in it. Half way up I was reminded once again that I have only been out of the hospital for little over a month and that I need to ride my bike more. Once we got to the stage, our seats were 45 rows up. More stairs, but this time with beer.
Here's Bruno during sound check (OK, I stole this picture).
Our seats were dead in the middle of the stage. We had 20 minutes to just sit and enjoy the view before the show started. And it was wonderful.
27-year-old Bruno Mars put on a pretty awesome, old-school R&B-style show complete with dancing horn section and a kick-ass light show. He even commented on how he was so happy to finally get to play the fames Red Rocks stage. The sound was amazing. We could see great and everyone was having a good time. Bill, Mar and I were on our feet for the entire show, smiles on our faces.
Why had I waited so long to see a show there? I decided that I now want to see every show there … and in Telluride.
By Special to the Sentinel
Tuesday, August 6, 2013
Post by Randee Bergen (www.randeebergen.wordpress.com)
A few years back, when I had just gotten divorced and was looking at downsizing and living a (greatly welcomed) simpler life, I decided to splurge on one last luxury item before committing to my new budget. I wanted something that would create a lot of joy and happy memories for my daughters and me, despite the changes we were facing. And so it was that I purchased the 2-3 person $39 tent.
The girls were smaller then, of course, and we didn’t yet have our golden doodle, Trooper, so I went with the smallest, and least expensive, tent. The next size up, 3-4 people, was $64, and that was pushing it.
We’ve gotten a lot of mileage out of those 39 bucks. My philosophy, and what I tell the daughters, is “if you have a vehicle and a tent, you can go anywhere.” It’s true. Campground fees are minimal, but even if you can’t afford that, you can usually find a spot to set up your tent for free.
Most of our nights in the tent have been spent right here in our backyard—the Colorado National Monument, Highline Lake, Glenwood Canyon, Ouray, the Moab area, and several repeat trips to the Crested Butte/Gunnison area. We have mastered the art of loading up in less than an hour and a knack for packing, driving, arriving, having a blast, returning, and unpacking, all in less than 24 hours, if that happens to be all the time we have to get away.
I wouldn’t call what we do with our tent camping per se, not in the sense of how a lot of families camp. We don’t get to our destination and set up the tent and then hang out there, cooking campfire meals and sitting around the fire. On the contrary, our tent is often just a base camp and a place to sleep and we’re usually off doing other activities—hiking, riding bikes, swimming, going to hot air balloon festivals, strolling the main streets of our little mountain towns.
It’s hard to measure the effect that the $39 tent has had on us three over the years. It’s brought us together, physically, of course, but emotionally as well. It’s been the impetus behind our weekend plans and our ever-growing list of shared experiences. We Bergen girls know the power of the tent. We know when we need it, when we need to not get away, necessarily, but come together.
The $39 tent got a lot of use and is still in remarkably good shape, but, as the girls grew and we added a dog, we did eventually upgrade to the $64 tent. And now it serves to keep us three corralled and connected.
Amy, my 15-year-old, really wants an old SUV as her first vehicle, despite several intimations from me that one big gas guzzler per family is enough. “But, mom, I just want to grab a couple of friends and throw my tent and my dog in the back and go camping for a few days.” I do appreciate that line of thinking.
And Addy, my oldest, told me just the other day, “Mom, I don’t have to work this Friday. We should go camping.” She’s always off on Saturdays, so that gave us from Thursday afternoon to Saturday afternoon, almost 48 hours. Just the right length of time.
A $39 tent. Get you one. The simple life. Get you some.
By Robin Dearing
Saturday, August 3, 2013
Several times over the last seven years I've tried to get Margaret interested in this blog. I've asked her to pose for pictures, write entries and even just read Haute Mamas. She could not have cared less. That was until last week when I told her that I was going to be interviewing Jennette McCurdy. Her eyes got all big and she gasped, "But she's really famous."
Finally, I impressed my 13 year old!
Jennette McCurdy became "really famous" for her portrayal of Sam on Nickelodeon's popular show "iCarly." Now, Jennette has reprised her role of the spunky, street-smart Sam on her new show "Sam & Cat." Lucky for us moms, Jennette uses her fame to help us out. She has partnered with Nickelodeon and Bird's Eye to help promote healthy eating habits for families. I love when celebrities use their powers for good!
I had a great time chatting with Jennette. Not only is she a beautiful, bright young woman, but she is a great spokesperson for developing life-long, healthy eating habits. The video below is Jennette being interviewed by me via phone.
By Robin Dearing
Wednesday, July 31, 2013
We just got home from being out of town for a week to attend my grandmother’s memorial and visit with family. We spent the majority of our time at/near Lake Pueblo.
Have you guys been there? There’s a reservoir which is pretty cool and a campground which wasn’t terrible. But it isn’t a place that I’d probably go again. There was too much vast expanse of dirt and low scrub and not enough trees and other pretty things.
But having said that, now that I'm living my post-Addison’s-Disease-diagnosis “I’m not dead” worldview, I was never happier to see all my family and to be anywhere at all. Just being out of the house with Bill and Mar was awesome fun.
My mom’s family is big … in every sense of the word. My gramma had six kids, five girls and one boy. There are 14 of us grandchildren. Of the 14, there are only four of us under 6-foot tall. At 5’8”, I’m one of the short ones. All the cousins except for one have at least two kids. I think the total of my gramma's great grandchildren at this point is 35. Three is the number of great-great grandchildren.
So yeah, big family … and loud and awesome. We like to play games, drink beer and gab. I had some of my favorite conversations with my family on this trip. I loved seeing everyone’s kids and babies and hearing what everyone is doing.
My grandmother’s memorial was poignant and to the point. I learned things about my gramma that made me miss her even more. The whole process brought up a lot of emotions for me. But it was comforting to be with my family and for that I’m thankful.
How I react in stressful or emotional situations is different now that I’m living with Addison’s. In general, I’m much less anxious. But when my emotions do get ramped up, they stay there. No amount of deep breaths or yoga gets them back down. My inability to cope or calm myself is part of this disease. Thank goodness a nice, cold beer doesn’t hurt. Being able to have that nice, cold beer with my family, knowing that we were all there to celebrate and remember the fine lady we called mom/grandmother/great grandmother/great-great grandmother was the best part of all.