Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Sima's Home

I posted back in January about finding Sima for the boys to have a kid-friendly horse.  We did a three month free lease to make sure that he was the right horse for us (and that his owner, who loves him dearly, felt he was going to be the right semi-retirement home for him).  I think everyone involved has been thrilled with the situation, and this week we are making it official.

Sima is enjoying a slower, rural lifestyle.  He no longer is part of a show barn life, or spending his weekends doing eventing.  He has fully embraced this muddier, lazier way of living.


The boys adore him.  He's a gentleman for their rides.  They are practicing the basics right now, like trying to learn how to post to the trot.

And I enjoy him, too!  I've been taking him on trail rides, and sometimes do a little jumping.  Last week I showed Pierce how to use the good camera, and he worked on getting action shots.  I took three fences, and Pierce caught two of them just right. 


It's been a long time since I've jumped much, or worked with a trainer.  It's good for me to see the pictures to pick out my flaws.  I got a tad left behind on this one.

Compared to Francie, he's an easy going, straightforward ride.  He's very sensitive to cues - like changing diagonals or asking for leads.


Riding him makes me feel like a teenager again.  It's such a treat to ride a more finished horse. 

But this is the best part of it - he's gentle with the boys, trustworthy.  And here's my photographer.  Didn't he do a wonderful job?

We all look forward to more rides with Sima.  Once the boys are more balanced, I'm hoping we can even do some trail rides on our land.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Singin' in the Rain

Last December, Cort auditioned for a part in Singin' in the Rain.  It had been a while since he'd done any tap dancing, but he was thrilled to get the part of "Young Cosmo" despite that. 

The production ran for three nights last week.  It was put on by a local performing arts high school.  I cannot begin to tell you how impressed I was by the teenagers in the show.  They could sing and dance and act with the best!  The grand finale was spectacular!  Even after all the practices and performances, I never got tired of it.

 
 
And all the teens were extra nice to Cort and helped showed him the ropes.  He sure had a good time.  His new friend, "Young Don", who danced with him in the show, told him about another audition for a different musical coming up.  Cort is interested in doing another.  Me?  I may just need a couple of months to recover...but I certainly did enjoy seeing Singin' in the Rain!  

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Odyssey of the Mind 2018

 I've blogged before about Pierce participating in Odyssey in the Mind, something I did myself as a kid.  If you haven't heard of it, Odyssey of the Mind (or OM) is a creative problem solving challenge in which teams of seven kids choose from one of five problems and create a skit or structure or vehicle.  There is also a portion called "spontaneous" where they have to do a short term problem the day of competition that they don't know about beforehand.  Pierce was on a primary team in first grade (they present their project/skit, but don't compete), but has been on a competitive team the other years.

Last year Cort and Reid saw how much fun he was having, and asked to be in OM as well.  I talked to the teacher coaching Pierce's team last year, and she was nice enough to coach a primary team with the twins if I would coach that primary team with her. She has a lot of experience, and the kids all love her. This year Pierce migrated to a different team of mostly 5th graders (everyone else on his team from last year left for middle school), but Mrs. Harden and I stuck with the primary team from last year - only they progressed to being competitive this year.

The kids chose the problem of Stellar Hangout.  They had to create a space relay station with aliens.  There had to be a human worker, space food, entertainment, and a quest for treasure.  The kids have been working on this since October.  The last couple of weeks we were meeting for a couple of hours after school every single day to try to tie it all together.  The coaches are only allowed to give guidance and provide supplies - the kids have to create everything and write all the lines.  The more creative and outside the box, the higher the score. (Pierce's team chose a problem where they made a Mockumentary of a children's classic - they chose Peter Pan).

Saturday was the regional competition.  Here are Cort and Reid in their alien pop star costumes:

The teams worked really hard and had so much fun.  What energy!  What creativity! 

At the awards ceremony, we found out that Pierce's team placed second in their category.  They were thrilled - they really did have an adorable skit.

And then came time for the Stellar Hangout awards.  They were up against 13 teams total.  I think Mrs. Harden and I were both a little shocked when they won first place.  They have a wonderful skit with very creative elements, crazy costumes and unusual props, and a catchy and hilarious song, but they're a young team (all 2nd and 3rd graders).  I just never expected it to happen, especially their first year.  So they get to go to the state competition in Newport News next month. 

So it looks like I have a few more weeks of OM practices in my future.  I'm happy for the kids - they really worked hard for this.  It's going to be a fun adventure, and I'll let you know how it goes! 


Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Running Recap 2017

I don't know how it got to February and I still haven't done a running recap for last year.  It was a good year, in spite of an injury in October that almost shut down my running.  I ran more than ever before, for a total of 1850 miles.

I also did a running streak.  This is where you don't take any days off.  So you must run every single day, for at least one mile.  I had two days that I found this exceptionally challenging.  The first was in January, when I was sick with a fever and sore throat, and had to run on the treadmill at 5:30 am.  That was rough.  The second was in November, on the day following the CR24 (in which I covered 33 miles) when my IT band was really hurting from injury and the rest of my body was very sore.  That was a rough mile too.  But I stuck with it.  This was the first time I ever attempted a running streak.

So it was a good year.  My favorite run was the 9 miler I did in the desert in Arizona, around 4:30 am last summer.  It was amazing!

I don't have any recent pictures of me running.  So here's a picture of Pierce hanging from the ceiling.  Because that totally makes sense, right?


Wishing you all a Happy Valentines Day! 

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Francie's DNA Results

I have often mused over Francie's background over the past four and a half years.  Recently I discovered that I could send off her DNA to Texas A+M, where they have a horse breed registry.  So I shipped off some hair samples and waited with great curiosity.  Here's a recent picture if you want a reminder.

When the results came back I was surprised!  The primary breed that came back was Holsteiner, which is a type of warmblood (a draft breed mixed with a more athletic breed, often thoroughbred). Holsteiners are known to be good jumpers.  I could really see the Holsteiner in her head, and they are often bay in color with minimal white markings, so this isn't what surprised me.

The secondary breed that came back was Caspian.  This is a breed native to Iran, and I wasn't familiar with them, so this was very surprising.  Indeed, they are rare in the United States.  They are small horses, but known to be good jumpers.

The third breed that came back was Arabian.  Francie doesn't look Arabian to me at all.  But sometimes she gets a wild hair and does stick her tail straight in the air like an Arab while running in the pasture.

It was exciting to find out a little more about Francie's background.  I'm still as baffled as ever about where her origin may be, but I'm happy to know a little more about her breeding.  DNA is so interesting, don't you think? 

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Snow Hike

We got a few inches of snow, and the boys talked Paul and I into hiking up the mountain.  The snow was blowing all over.  At the top, we found three black dogs.  Not ours, and wearing collars without names.  They were friendly and well-fed though.
 
 
I bought snow shoes with my Christmas money this year.  They strap onto my snow boots.  The are long and grip the ground.  Excellent for going up steep mountains in snow.  I didn't slide once.
 

As I write this, I'm getting a little tired of winter.  I'm looking forward to garden season!

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Welcome, Sima

I've been looking for a beginner horse for the boys since last summer.  Pierce really wants to learn to ride.  I got preapproved with a rescue for adoption, but they never got in the type of horse we needed.  Finally I placed an ad on an equestrian site for Virginia.  I got great response, but immediately fell for Sima, and formed a friendship with his owner.  We were chatting back and forth online for weeks.  I could tell how much she loved him.

He's been doing eventing (a combination of jumpers, cross country, and dressage) up in Northern Virginia, and became sour with all the jumping.  He is 18 and ready for a quieter lifestyle.  I reached out to my old riding friends from high school that are still in that area, and was able to make a connection through one that vouched for Sima, and reassured us that he would make a good horse for a beginner.  We were so happy the day he arrived.

He's affectionate.  He loves head rubs.  And he's so calm.  I gave him a couple of days to settle in and then took him for a test ride.  He was a perfect gentleman, with a big bouncy trot.  He's very responsive to the rider - the slightest shift in weight or turn of my head would change his direction.  He has one of the softest mouths of any horse I've ever ridden, and on a long rein at the walk was practically dragging his nose on the ground. 

The next day I looked at him and told him to take care of Pierce for me.  Then I stuck him up there.  He took a few turns on the lunge line, and then I let him loose.  Sima was happy to just walk calmly around the arena.  Pierce kept saying, "Mom, this is so fun!".  And the kid hasn't even trotted yet!

I'm enjoying riding Sima once in a while myself.  Although Francie gets jealous and throws temper tantrums in the pasture.  So I have to make sure I ride her too! 
He looks so much like my show horse in high school, Chico, in the above picture that I have to do a double take every time I see it.  It was so cold on this day that I had on three layers to stay warm.

We look forward to many more rides with Sima.  I'm excited for when Pierce learns to ride enough that maybe he can ride Sima and I can ride Francie and the two of us can head off on the trails around our place. 

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.