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Product Review: Tum-E Yummies

By Richie Ann Ashcraft
Thursday, February 13, 2014

In the fall, the boys and I went hiking at Rabbit Valley. When were done, we rewarded ourselves with cold drinks and chips from a Fruita area gas station.

Jonas chose a blue Tum-E Yummies drink. How do I remember it was blue? Because he always chooses blue and he always chooses Tum-E Yummies.

There was a contest on the bottle with a secret code for winning secret cool prizes. All you had to do was go to the website (http://www.yummiecode.com) and enter your secret code.

My boys LOVE these games. My personal email is filled with messages from Doritios, Coke, Pepsi, etc., that say thanks for playing but try again.

Jonas would NOT recycle his bottle until we had played the code game — again.

So, we played yet another gas station marketing game, but this time when we rolled the secret dice, it said "YOU WIN!"

What! That never, ever, ever has happened.

Jonas won like 15th prize, which is not an X-Box has he hoped, but a pencil set. It was going to take 6-8 weeks to deliver.

He was SO stoked! He checked the mailbox the very next day, then waited and waited and waited ......

Every once in awhile he's remind me that a Big Prize was on it's way.

And then, one day, last week it came. There were 5 official Tum-E Yummies pencils.

Jonas paraded them around for awhile. Then he said: "Mom, I want you to get on Facebook and say 'Tum-E Yummies are RADICAL!"

If that's not a good review, then I don't know what is. Thanks Tum-E Yummies. You've made one little boy in Colorado very, very happy.


Presidential birthdays: Fillmore, McKinley, Roosevelt, Harrison, and Reagan

By Richie Ann Ashcraft
Wednesday, February 12, 2014

I've never sang "Happy Birthday" so much in my life. Pretty much every other day.

On the other hand, we as a family have learned a lot about presidents from Soren's resolution.

In order, let's start with Fillmore. He liked eggs. So, at the suggestion of my aunt via Facebook, we had breakfast for dinner.

Of course, it was a big hit. Liking eggs is one of the most interesting things about Fillmore, we learned. He made the list of "10 Most Uninteresting Presidents" ever. He's also been called boring, unispiring, and being compared to him as president is one of the greatest political insults. Maybe I'll try that sometime, like "Ugh, he's SO Millard Fillmore." In the right company, it might work. On second thought, it would probably work better on the "Big Bang Theory" and I'd be the only one in the room laughing.

Moving on. We accidently skipped Roosevelt. But, we picked him up a week later with McKinley. I justified it by telling Soren that of all the presidents, Franklin Delano Roosevelt would understand the need to conserve our birthday celebrations in terms of saving money on desserts. Soren liked that his middle name is his mother's last name and he's pretty sure that he does not want another depresssion. Who does?

McKinley was our first assassinated president which was interesting to explain to an 8-year-old. It led to defining words like anarchist and gangrene. Who doesn't like to talk about gangrene around the dinner table? Or electric chair?

Yeah, that was a good night.

Next came Harrison. We like Harrison. He liked squirrel stew so I made stew and biscuits with honey. I tried to convince the boys it had squirrel in it, but they didn't believe me.

Poor Harrison. He got pneumonia and died just one month into his presidency. What a total bummer to finally reach the top and keel over. After we sang, Soren added a little "may he rest in peace" prayer. God Speed Harrison, the strawberry sundaes we had in your honor were fabulous.

Phew, and if all those weren't enough, Soren shares a birthday with Ronald Reagan. In honor of the occasion, Soren bought jelly beans at the candy store to share with his class. That night, we sang "Happy Birthday Soren and Ronald Reagan ...." which cracked us all up. I don't think we researched a single thing about Ronald Reagan that night though because in our world nobody, not even the "The Gipper," is more important than our son. Sorry Reagan.


With a little help from our friends

By Robin Dearing
Tuesday, February 11, 2014

As I’ve written before here and here, my little family has been through the wringer a couple of times recently. But we have picked ourselves up and dusted ourselves off. We’re doing OK and that’s just fine.

One thing became abundantly clear during our trials and tribulations and it’s that we have an amazing network of friends. Of course, I knew that before all of this, but it was made more than abundantly clear in the last month and a half.

As soon as our friends learned of Bill’s mom’s illness and passing along with both my mom’s and my illness, we were inundated with love, support and offers to do anything we needed.

When I was in the emergency room worrying myself sick about getting Margaret from school, Bill sent out a couple of texts and immediately we had a list of friends that were ready, willing and able to get Mar, get me, get us dinner, whatever we needed or wanted.

Even though I walked out of the hospital in good enough condition to not only drive myself, but also get Mar, a dear friend insisted on coming to see me at home. She wanted a second opinion on how well I really was. I knew I was OK, but that sense of being taken care of was much needed.

Over the weekend while Bill was back East and my mom was in the hospital, another friend insisted on coming over early Saturday with a bottle of champagne and orange juice. She watched TV with me and made me laugh. Mimosas and true friendship go along way during the hard times.

Our little family of four is the only blood family we have here in the Grand Valley, but our friend family is vast and wonderful. There’s nothing like going through some hard times to be reminded that of what a beautiful life we have created for ourselves here.

Thank you to everyone who has been there for us.


Happy No. 8

By Richie Ann Ashcraft
Monday, February 10, 2014

Soren turned eight last week.

Geez, where has the time gone? Eight. EIGHT! How do you even describe eight?

Eight is smack in the kid years, and although I sigh often about how fast it's going by, I love having kids. 8-year-old ones in particular because it's such a great age. Do you remember being eight? I do and it was awesome.

Soren is the perfect 8-year-old boy. He's got big teeth he hasn't grown into, he's tall, he's strong, he's smart and he's adventurous.

This kid is not afraid to try new things, and once he does, he wants to be the very best at it. I love that about him. He might not always be the best at something, but he's guts and motivation and he pushes himself to his upper limits. I've always thought that it doesn't really matter how good you are at something. Wanting it enough and working hard to achieve it is often more important than skill. I hope this 8-year-old zest never ever leaves him.

For his birthday, I took him to a Japanese restaurant with traditional seating. He kicked off his shoes, was amazed by the lack of silverware, and dove into a pile of sushi.

Then, on Friday, his dad took him to Powderhorn to fulfil his childhood dream of becoming a snowboarder. He had a lesson, then met up with his dad later to shred the mountain.

He wasn't really laughing because snowboarding is hard and frustrating. But, hard and frustrating did not mean is wasn't fun. He picked himself up over and over, kept on trying and trying, and he loved cold every minute of it.

That night, he jabbered nonstop about snowboarding skills. He was much impressed with the ski lift, the lodge, the rental place, well, basically about every single thing he saw and did that day. Powderhorn, I think you have a life-long customer.

That's Soren for you. He's a full-blown kid whose ready to see it all, try it all, and master it all. (Huh, not unlike his mama?)

Eight is gonna be a great year!


Time to eRead (2)

By Randee Bergen
Friday, February 7, 2014

About a month ago, while dusting the book shelf, I came across the Nook Color my sister had so graciously packed up and given me once she was ready to move on to a newer gadget. It’s been on the shelf, unused, for about two years.

I wrote a post about my intentions to take a class and learn how to use it and see what the benefits might be. I am happy to report that I did indeed attend the class.

There were about 12 participants there, all much older than I, and two instructors, both of whom worked for the technology “department” of our county library. The class lasted for about an hour, the first half hour devoted to what ebooks are available and how one actually goes about accessing them and downloading them.

It’s a fairly simple process. I would go to the library’s website and either enter a specific title, a certain author, or just click on the ebook/audio book section. It is possible to “check out” five ebook titles at once, for a period of two weeks. “Check out” basically means download the title to my device. Though the books are digital, the library still has a limited quantity of them to “loan” at any given time. Therefore, a certain title may not be available when I want it and I might have to put it on hold (i.e., get on the waiting list until others “return” their “copy”). I have two weeks (or three, but the default borrowing time is two) to read the book, at which time it will “go away.” Yep, it will just disappear from my eReader. If I am not yet finished with it and want to continue reading it, I can go back into the library’s website and request it again, either getting it right away or being added to the end of the waiting list.

The second half of the class was devoted to setting up our various eReaders–Kindles, Samsung, Nooks, and a few others–so that we could access the library and start checking out titles. We were divided into groups according to which type of device we had and given a list of step-by-step instructions to download the app we needed. The two library employees floated among us and offered help when we got stuck.

We all needed them at once. For various reasons. And for more than a minute or two.

I made it through most of the steps on my own and got my device ready to download books. But then, when I was on the library’s site, ready to download my first title, my Nook Color went to a blank screen. It seemed to be trying to load, or download, something, but it just got stuck there. For too long. For several attempts in a row. Something wasn’t right.

I asked for assistance and the facilitator was just as confused as I was.

I asked him, “Could it be that this device is old and outdated? I think it’s about three years old.” I imagined myself attending a smartphone class a few years back. Back when I still had a flip phone. I probably would have had some difficulty in a smartphone class showing up with a device like a flip phone.

The library employee admitted that he hadn’t seen a model like mine and wasn’t familiar with it, but that that shouldn’t matter. It should work.

I kind of wanted to just give up. I mean, I can check out real books and hold them and smell them and turn the pages and love them. Giving up would give me permission to do all the aforementioned. I didn’t really need to figure out the eReader.

But I noticed that, though everyone else was having some difficulty, they weren’t giving up. They were just waiting patiently until someone could come and help them through the steps.

After an hour and ten minutes, I had to get going. I hadn’t been home yet that evening and I had children to feed and other things to do.

The library guys reminded me about the weekly technology classes, where anyone could show up with any type of technology and get some help with it. Good to know. But those classes were during the day, during my working hours.

“And,” said the guy who helped me, “you can also get a half hour appointment with one of us if you’re still having trouble.”

Hmm, that sounded pretty good, I thought, as I walked out. Maybe I’ll do that. Because I don’t want to give up on the idea.

Next step: half hour free private lesson. Gotta love the public library!


Wordless Wednesday: Learning about presidents

By Richie Ann Ashcraft
Wednesday, February 5, 2014


What Brenda said

By Robin Dearing
Tuesday, February 4, 2014


What’s Coo5king?

By Randee Bergen
Monday, February 3, 2014

Without much effort on my part, I have found myself chairing a committee to put on a 5k race.

The PTA at my school started kicking the idea around last fall. I happened to mention, at one of the meetings, that I was on the board of the local running club—the Mesa Monument Striders—and could find out a lot of good information for us about timing runners, insurance, advertising, choosing a date that didn’t conflict with other races in the community, and other considerations.

Shortly after my kind offer, I was holding a large pot and a recipe card with nothing on it except 5k: preparation time three months, actual cooking time two hours.

And now, I can feel the heat of a burner set to high.

I must say that I did take the pot and the recipe card willingly. Though I have plenty of other commitments, I will move them to the back burners for a while to simmer. And I’ll stick a few others in the oven to keep warm. Organizing a 5k race sounds like a lot of fun. A small race like this is all about the kids, their families, the joy of moving, and building community. How could it not be fun?

(I say that now.)

Since we’ve never held an event like this at our school and since I’ve never been involved in planning a race (let alone taking the lead) this 5k will be produced (almost) from scratch. I say almost because my experience with running several 5k’s will help tremendously in thinking through the hosting of one. The first night that I felt the heat, I awoke at 1:30 a.m., realizing I needed to start listing my ingredients. Now. The burner is on high, the blue flame visible, licking the air, in my face, because the pot is not yet on the burner, not yet on the burner because there’s nothing in it, nothing in it because I hardly know, at this point, what’s required, nothing in it because I’m just starting to train, just starting to think of a long list of ingredients and preparations, a long list that does not yet exist.

By 2:30 a.m., I had a three-page planning chart.

Me? Cooking? Cooking from scratch? Who’d have thunk. What I know at this point is that I want my 5k to turn out way better than most of my cooking endeavors have. Thank goodness for the great team of ancillary cooks–fellow teachers and parents–that will be in the kitchen with me.

So, that’s what’s cooking—I’m planning a big event from scratch.

If you’ve ever thought about running, or walking, a 5k (3.1 miles), you might want to put this on your calendar. Our 5k will be held on Saturday, April 19, at 8:30 a.m. at Lincoln Orchard Mesa Elementary School. Preparation time three months—just the right length of time to build up to a 3.1 mile walk or run.

You know what I’ll be doing during those three months. Preparation. Preparing a great run for you, you and your kids, or you and your friends.

For more information, click here.


Trying for perfect love

By Richie Ann Ashcraft
Thursday, January 30, 2014

I love Pinterest as much as the next girl. I use it for two things, recipes and kids crafts, because as mentioned before, I have to work hard to keep up on Marek's passion for art.

I always look at those crafty Pinterest pictures and vow to make my house a perfect collage of paper mache letters, burlap wreaths, and hand-painted cupcake holders. I always fail miserably. My cupcakes have brown edges, I forget to buy the wreath, and my pictures are always just slightly askew. I don't why, but I can't reach the perfection, and I'm okay with that but I keep trying anyway.

We started our Valentine crafts a couple of weeks ago, beginning with this PIN on shaving cream hearts. Basically you put dots of food coloring in shaving cream, swirl it around, dip paper hearts in it, then scrape it off. Marek and I spent several days cutting hearts, dying them with the shaving cream, gluing, and stringing them across the fireplace. We LOVED this project and I was feeling rather successful as a cutesey Pinterest mom.

I searched more and decided that a simple decorating of the letters L*O*V*E would be the perfect accent to our heart banner on the fireplace.

Jonas and Marek woke up early Saturday to start painting letters with metallic red and black paint. After they dried, they added Valentine stickers and we proudly decorated the fireplace. They both really enjoyed this project too.

So much so, that this week Marek requested more letter painting at his babysitter's house. He chose the letter R as a present to me. Awww ...

Then, he came home and proudly put it right next to our other letters.

And, poof, we went from Pinterest perfect back to slightly askew again.




Wordless Wednesday: Cat dog

By Robin Dearing
Thursday, January 30, 2014

Page 9 of 167


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