Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Christmas Break Recap

Christmas break was super cold this year!  We didn't venture far from home.  It was nice to have some down time.

Pierce has suddenly become relentless about learning how to ride.  Francie is not a beginner horse.  But I did let him walk her around on the lunge line one day.

Cort spent a great deal of time in frigid temps riding this spinning big wheel on my parents' driveway (ours is gravel). 

Reid asked for a biohazard suit for Christmas.  Santa delivered.  He needs to grow into it.  They just don't make biohazard suits in kid sizes.

Twice we met up with cousins for some rollerskating.  Rollerskating is a great activity during the cold winter months.  I enjoy getting out there, too. 
Overall, we had a nice break.  It was over in a blink, and now back to school through May. 

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Favorite Reads from 2017

Usually I do the top ten novels I read over the year, but this year I had a list of 12 top reads from the 167 books I read in 2017.  And I realized that there were four that stood out from the list.  So I've narrowed it down to my top four. 

By far, my favorite book of the year was The Snow Child, by Eowyn Ivey.  It's a great fiction read for winter, so go get yourself a copy now!

I also loved The Dressage Chronicles by Karen McGoldrick (I also read one of the sequels).  This is probably not going to go over well with readers unless they are horse enthusiasts, but I enjoyed it so much.

I actually read a book for the second time this year, which is unusual for me.  Last time I read it I was about twelve years old.  My grandfather recommended it to me.  House of a Thousand Lanterns by Victoria Holt.  It did not disappoint.  I was surprised by what a great read this was.

Finally, a nonfiction read.  The Stranger in the Woods by Michael Finkel, about a hermit that lived in the Maine woods alone for over 20 years. 
Readers, do you have any books you want to recommend for me in 2018?

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

White Stuff

We got our first snow for this winter one Saturday a couple of weeks ago.  I put hay out for the horses in one of the shelters.  But Francie wasn't having it.  She preferred to play in the snow.  Of course she dragged poor Phoenix with her.  I suspect he'd rather stay in the shed and eat.

It was just a few of inches.  It kept us home for the day and Sunday we were back in business.  My kind of snow.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

James River State Park

After Thanksgiving, we stayed in a cabin for a couple of nights at James River State Park.  My brother and his family rented a cabin as well.  We saw in the cabin journal that many people saw bald eagles, so here is Reid trying to scout one out (we didn't have any luck).

There was a nice visitor center, a bit of a walk from our cabin.  Behind the visitor center was an observation deck and a long wooden boat.

The boys enjoyed playing chicken on a guard rail just outside our cabin.  We were getting ready to go on a hike.  We had decent weather, for November.

The boys introduced their cousins to the fun of geocaching during hiking.  We found four geocaches.  Reid also found a cicada, which you can see on the left side of his hat:

All five boys/cousins enjoyed the overlook of the Tye/James River.  We felt happy to be outside hiking about with family.  Virginia State Parks was having a photo contest over Thanksgiving weekend, and I submitted an edited version of the photo below.  It won grand prize, which was a gift card to the state parks.  Since we visit the state parks a couple of times a year anyhow, this was the perfect prize to win. 

There was also a playground that got much use.  My boys sure are better at the monkey bars than I am.
Claudia, at 12 weeks old, was too young to leave at home alone all weekend.  So she came along.  She's a good little traveler and a pro by the fireplace snuggler. 

The cabins were very nice, and offered amazing views of the sunset in the evenings.  It was one of our favorite things about James River State Park.

Overall, we had a wonderful time. It was nice to skip all the Black Friday madness (not that I ever do that) and just get outdoors for the weekend. 

Wednesday, December 20, 2017


Last summer I read the young adult book, Wonder, upon the recommendation of my friend, Ginger.  I loved the book.  It's about a fifth grader with a facial deformity, who has been home schooled his whole life due to surgeries.  But this year his parents are sending him to school, where he encounters bullies, but also makes friends.  It's a heartwarming story, that teaches us to be kind to those who are different.  When I heard the movie was coming out, I wanted to take my boys.  And then I thought I'd also like to take my class!  I was teaching Freshman Orientation, and it seemed like a message we all could use.

So the day before Thanksgiving my class took a field trip to the movies, and my mom met us there with my boys, who were already out of school.  The movie was incredible.  I almost cried several times.  One of my students was still crying on the way out.  It made a HUGE impression on my boys.  They talked about it for hours.  It opened up a lot of discussion at our house.  Especially Cort, who has a very empathic personality.  My mom bought him a copy of the book (the wait to get it from our library is several months).  Once he had his hands on the book, this is what happened over the next few days.

He says it is his favorite book.  Next up?  He's reading the sequel.  The film had a great message for anyone age 8 and up.  And the book is even better than the film.  I highly recommend both!
Wishing you all a Merry Christmas! 

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

CR24 2017

The only race I ran this year was CR24.  You may remember I ran it last year and had an excellent experience.  It's a 24 hour run on a one mile loop, and you stay out however long you can.  Last year I completed 46 miles.  I injured my IT band during a 20 miler, training for the race this year, about a month out from race day.  The IT band takes a while to heal, so I knew that I wouldn't be in good running shape for the race.  But I thought I would still show up and do what I could.

My friend, Trina, came this year.  It was her first ultra.  I ran the first few laps with her, but by mile 3 my IT band was really hurting.  So I switched to walking.  She continued running and was able to run 27 miles, and then walk enough miles to complete 50K. 

It's very humbling to just walk a long race like this.  Walking certainly takes a lot longer than running.  At 1:00, I was discouraged I wasn't near marathon distance yet.  But we had good weather, and the volunteers were supportive, and there was plenty of good food.  So I just kept at it.

This year was the first year they gave out medals if you made it to 26.2 (marathon distance).  It took a loooooong time, but I did grab my medal.

So I walked and I walked and I walked.  Turns out you can walk really far in a day if you just keep pushing.  In the end, I covered 32.98 miles (let's just call that 33 miles to console my mind that prefers whole numbers, shall we?).  I stayed long enough to do a few laps in the dark and eat pizza for dinner.  Then I headed home for the night.
It was a fun race again, and I enjoyed it even though I didn't get to run much.  I loved seeing how successful my friend Trina was with her first ultra.  Hopefully I'll be back next year, and in better running condition next time.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Meet Claudia

As you know, we foster kittens for the local humane society.  We had a total of 13 kitten go through our home from June - October.  I love it afterwards when I see the humane society post pictures of the kittens getting adopted with their new families.  Paul always says that we don't need any new cats, so we can't adopt them, but he doesn't mind how much I foster.

Then came a litter of two with a severe upper respiratory infection.  They even had to be on immune boosting meds on top of their antibiotics and eye cream.  Next thing I knew, Paul fell for this kitten named Brandi.  He kept saying what a great kitten she was.

Of course, Bobby was missing and we were all sad from that, and Paul said he thought we should adopt this kitten.  On Halloween, the day she got spayed, we made it official and renamed her Claudia (From the book From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E Frankweiler, which I read to the boys a couple of summers ago).  The shelter took this picture when I picked up Claudia from surgery.  I was in costume because we were headed out trick or treating.
Claudia and her sister had a reaction to the anesthesia from being spayed, so we brought her sister back into foster for a while longer so she could recover.  Her sister got adopted just days after she went back to the adoption center, by a family with two little girls (they also adopted another kitten we'd had in foster this summer).

Claudia, asleep on my lap.  She is such an affectionate kitten.  We are all thrilled to have her join our family.  If only Bobby would return, our hearts would be completely full.