Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Annual Fall Photos

Boy, do I remember it well. Standing in line, waiting for school pics. Wearing something I hated, that mom picked out. A teacher moving swiftly down the line, combing each of our bangs straight down, and telling us to straighten our clothes. Then, it was the dreaded moment. Climbing up on that torture device, otherwise known as a stool. With some stranger grinning stupidly at me and saying cheesy things to get a cheesy smile. The stool was too high, I could not touch the ground. My feet dangled awkwardly. Everyone else in line was watching. I tried to sit up straight, but geez! How do you sit up straight and SMILE, under such conditions?

And oh boy, do I ever remember the day we got our pictures back. Ye gads. Everyone getting that little envelope, with the clever "frame" cut out, so you could see your hideous self right away in the plastic window. Trying to hide it from your friends. I never liked them! It never even looked like me, I swear.

Then it was climbing in the car after school, hoping Mom would not notice that all the other kids coming out of the school were carrying that flat white envelope. But, she would. Then she would excitedly ask to see mine. I would hand them over, waiting for that dreaded word to come out of her mouth. RETAKES! So yeah, the whole bad experience could then be repeated. Lucky me. :)

My kids are so lucky! To them, "school" pictures means putting on their favorite clothes, grabbing some snacks, and heading out for a walk in the woods, with their mom, their dogs, and maybe a kitty or two along.

Of course, they do have to smile like, 317 times in a row. Did I mention that?

I started with Penelope this year. She's 10..and so much fun to photograph. She just sparkles!

This is my Penelope!

Loves- banana chips, flowers, spelling bees, riding Daddy's dirt bike, baking, buying presents for her friends, 4-H, her pen pal, riding and training her horses, collecting small treasures, pockets, her bunnies, bible verses, Mukluk the mini, and her dogs. Actually, all things to do with dogs! Training, agility, showing, all breeds, everything!

Hates-raisins (likes the texture, hates the taste) getting up early, wearing socks, barn chores, going outside in the dark, cleaning her room, sudden changes in schedule, soda pop, super long chapter books...

Favorites- the color green, vacationing in Hawaii, cookies n cream icecream, American Girl movies, science, just- cheese pizza,

Especially good at- writing poetry, spelling, training animals, identifying dog breeds, making guacomole, baking cake from scratch, organizing drawers, being thoughtful of others, sharing, designing doll clothes, using Power Point

Friendship qualities- fun-loving, generous, enthusiastic, easy-going, sweet, kind, playful, HAPPY.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

My Neighbor's Dog

This is Buddy. He is a big part of our life, but he's not our dog. He belongs to our neighbor. He was her husband's dog, and his best "bud" too. Her husband died of a heart attack last winter, and oh boy, was Buddy ever sad. He grieved for months, and searched everywhere.

Chena walks him for our neighbor, so three times a day he comes to play with us, and we love him alot. I decided to "sneak" him out in the woods and take some photos of him, as a gift for our friend, his owner.

He posed pretty well, and he is such a handsome boy. I printed the picture and gave it to her, and she was super excited. We are always looking for ways to bring a bit of a smile to her face.

Good boy, Bud.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Jump for Joy

Mukluk jumping "at liberty" in our new round pen. He can fly!

Monday, September 21, 2009

And So Goes September

Can you believe its so far into September? My husband could be home tomorrow! We have not seen him for a month, and he will only be home a few days, then gone again. But I shall enjoy him while I can.

Last Monday we had riding lessons for Penelope, and Chena spent some time riding our own horses, then it was off to my nephew, Oliver's bday party. He turned 9! We got him a giant checkers game, and he was immediately challenging everyone to a tournament. Such a cutie. My sister designed a fun party game called "WWOS" or What Would Oliver Say. We all had to answer questions to show how well we knew Olly.

Tuesday the girls had to be in Soldotna (45 minutes away) by ten, to get started with a brand new year of Geography Bee study, at our local homeschool office. Its such a fun group, and the girls learn so much..which is good because I am their teacher and I am geographically challenged. I can lose my car in the parking lot of a restaurant. Hee hee. After Geo Bee, they have lunch, then its right on to Math Olympiads, which is another wonderful program we take advantage of. I went to visit a friend at her gift store, did some errands, and had a lovely break.

Wednesday was the first day of the girls' book club, but as we were about to leave I heard thundering HOOVES (which is never a good sign when you have horses..or even if you don't I suppose!) and the whole dang herd ran right past my kitchen window. With all four horses on the loose, we ran for halters, lead ropes, and Honey Nut Cheerios to lure them in. We got them quickly, but we were too late for book club so we settled for board games and a trail ride.

Thursday was a busy school day, again. I have my classroom pretty well set up, still need a few organizers but mostly under way. I had to buy a new bookcase on Craigslist, or quit collecting books. Since that is NOT an option, I guess I will just keep finding new ways to keep them! We went to a two-day mushroom workshop, called Mushroom Mania, last weekend. So I bought new books from that, and we have been growing Oyster mushrooms in our shower. Great science project..and I love love love cooking with them, so its a win win with garlic and butter on top! That night Chena had her weekly vaulting team practice (which is trick riding on horses, but its the off season so its stretching and gymnastics on a vaulting "barrel")

Friday we had a bunch of friends, fellow homeschoolers, over to our house for the Mushroom Scavenger Hunt. I created a scavenger hunt, then the kids took offf with their clipboards, rulers, and gathering baskets through the wooded trails near our house. We moms went too, and we all had a great time, learning to recognize various species of fungi, gathering, testing, crossing off items on the scavenger hunt list, and examining discoveries. We all went home, did some spore prints (the "seeds" or spores from a mushroom falls onto colored paper and makes a print), and I made moose hot dogs for everyone. It was a really FUN time with our friends. Later we met up with my mom at our local pizza stop, and had dinner with her. Then we hit our favorite icecream shop for swirled cones, and then finally home to watch Bolt with my mom..who had never seen it. We were all tired but could not stop laughing. I love that movie!

Saturday my friend had a garage sale, so I scooted over there to steal all her treasures from her. She is feeling overwhelmed with junk, so like a good friend I brought her stuff over here so that I could feel overwhelmed with her junk for awhile. That's friendship, right?! Actually I found some neat books and things. End-of-season sales are best..just when you think there are no more garage sales. :) We came home and the weather was SOOOO beautiful. I could not go in the house, even though laundry beckoned with its dirty I got Mukluk out and did some training with him. We taught him how to do some free jumping at liberty in the round pen, taught him how to accept his new winter blanket, and started initial saddle training. We also clicker-trained him a bit, and then clicker-trained Summer too. It went great. I have been watching training videos to help me with the steps to clicker-training, and its really amazing and I love the challenge! I hope to get all of my horses doing three basic tricks by snowfall: Shaking hands, Nodding head, and Touching targets. Wish me luck....

Sunday was kind of sad. It was Joker's last day with us. After spending over a month with him, we made the hard decision not to buy him. He is a wonderful boy, tricky and a bit wild, but truly sweet and lovable as well. He has some special hoof issues, and we ride too much..he needs to go back to where he is only ridden very lightly if at all. So we all went out on a trail ride, our last one with him. It was a blustery crazy-windy day, but I loved it. The horses were feeling fiesty, and they thought every leaf was out to get them! It put me in high spirits as well, it did! When we got home from our ride, we hitched up the truck to the trailer, loaded Joker, and drove the hour to his farm. We hugged him, said our goodbyes, and then decided to go out for Chinese food, since we were so far from home. I was glad I didn't have to go home and cook, it was just too long of a day and I had to haul the trailer back home in the dark.

And now its Monday again. Wow. Call me nutty, but I actually adore Mondays. I love starting a new school week, getting my "lists" made (so I can ignore them...that's my MO) de-cluttering, figuring out the week's agenda and schedule, etc. We got our school week off with a bang, working on Scientific Classifications, Probability, American Revolution review, Mushroom Spore Print Art, work samples and more. Riding lessons were canceled due to rain, so I made some phone calls to finish up my Pampered Chef show. Then, the sun peeked out just enough to dry its hair, so I decided I'd better take advantage and do my "school pics" after all. I do annual fall photos of the girls in the woods behind our house, down by the lake, by the barn, etc. Chena wanted to go out riding instead, so I just took Penelope and headed out. I had the best time! I love fall photography! I'm not sure how much Penelope would agree, but she gave me over 300 smiles so she wins the award for patience today. I will post those pics soon! :)

Reading back over our week, no wonder I'm tired. Yawn. We are going to play a game of Blokus and eat some popcorn. Its getting dark so early now. I could barely find the Sparrow after Pluto chased her up a tree. I'm not ready for winter...but I sure do love fall.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

What's Cuter than a Miniature Horse?

A miniature SADDLE, of course!

I wrote about my fantastic find at the state fair, in my last post, so thought I would share my progress getting my mini to actually wear it. Ha.

I have been clicker training Mukluk lately, for all kinds of things but working up to some tricks and jumping. So, to get him started with the saddle, we got some Honey Comb cereal, the clicker, and his winter blanket. I had not tried the blanket on him yet, so it was a good place to start.

We clicked and treated him for touching the blanket with his nose, having it brushed by him, and eventually put on him. He did just great! So the next thing was his little saddle blanket. Same thing..we clicked him and gave him the cereal for each motion he made, first touching the blanket, then having it close to him, and then on his back. He didn't care, he just wanted his Honey Combs!

After those two things had gone succesfully, we were ready to move on to the saddle. Its a bit heavy, and he has never had anything on his back before now, so I wasn't sure how he would do. He barely flinched at all! He touched it, sniffed it a tiny bit, then reached back out for his treat. I settled the tiny saddle on his back, timed it for just two minutes, then removed it. Of course I did not cinch up any straps or anything. That step will wait for a few more days, maybe even a week.

But LOOKIE! Its on his back! I'm so proud of my little Mucky-Boy.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

For Now

Do you ever have so much to blog, you don't know what to post so you get kind of stuck? Life has been zooming by and everyday stuff happens..and I have not blogged due to exhaustion and stuck-ed-ness (yes of course its a word, I'm a TEACHER, remember? Heh heh) So anyway, I am going to just ramble a bit now, and then you can go back to your reality tv shows or dirty dishes, or other blogs where people are not quite as lazy. I forgive you, in fact, do YOU forgive me?? Why thank you! I knew you would. :)

Michael has been gone since August 5th, except for a few days. You would not think I would post that, since you could hunt me down and come in and steal my silverware. Oh well, if you do take that awful set, I can get myself some good stuff, right? Besides, I know how to shoot. (Pictures, that is but at least it sounded threatening) But I digress. Lets just consider this whole thing a digression and keep those expectations nice and low. I told you its a bum post.

So he has been gone and as is my habit this time of year, I try to make up for missing him by having a wonderful time pursuing fun with friends and going on road trips. Road trippin is what I do best!!

So I drove up to Anchorage, and a friend flew in from Fairbanks, and we all went to see the Lion King play. It was FANTASTIC. We don't get professional theater up here very often, and this was the first of its kind my children had ever seen. I think their jaws dropped open from the opening scene on, and my eyes actually filled with tears a few times at the magic of it all. We had the time of our lives.

After that, we stayed at a B & B, and the next day we drove to Palmer to the state fair. It was a hot day, and we moved quickly and covered a lot of ground and were able to see so much! I think I'm used to my honey slowing us down, he eats his way through the fair, gets a new goodie at every booth, and then has to lay down and nap it off. Me, I only had to hit my absolute favorites, bacon-wrapped scallops and crab cakes, and Pioneer Peak stuffed breadsticks, and I was good. No napping necessary!

I was going from booth to booth, and rounded a corner and there it was. Shiny and rough, and smooth at the same time. It glistened. It gleamed. It was as cute as a bug's ear. And the words from an old movie came into mind "You will be mine, oh YES, you will be mine!". What is this fascinating object you ask? Only the thing I had been looking at and dreaming about on Ebay for months. Only the thing I had checked into at online stores but never "added to cart" because I could not find the perfect specimen. Only the one item that shipping to Alaska was totally outrageous for....a miniature saddle!!!!!!!! For Mukluk! I swooned. I think I caught myself from falling by grabbing onto the tiny perfect saddle horn and lowering myself on a cloud of nine. I was smitten. It took no time at all for me to decide I didn't need to eat or buy a smidge of anything else that day except my prize. And I carried that sweet little baby right to my van with a huge grin on my face.

After the fair we raced out (as fast as you can race in fair traffic) and headed out toward Hatcher's Pass. I had an appointment to see a horse for sale there, an Andalusian/Thoroughbred cross that I had been dying to see. Since its four to five hours from my house, this was my only chance to meet him. So I was able to see him, and ride him, and fall for him. I'm not sure in that order but I told you this blog post was full of digressions. (and confessions it seems). I'm not sure he is going to be our next horse, but I am certainly interested and I will keep you in the know. He's sweet, and beautiful, and needs training. I love to train, and love a challenge, and am very fond of Andalusians and Thoroughbreds, so it looks promising....

We got home quite late, I only stopped once to take a picture of the beautiful full moon. It was gorgeous, just stunning..and was so gracious to light my way home when I knew I should have left much earlier. Its a dangerous highway, has claimed so many lives this summer alone, and I hate to drive it in the dark. I always try to leave the city in time to drive home before the sun is down, so I can manage the tricky curvy roads through the mountains safely, and so I won't be too sleepy.

As it turns out, I owe the full moon more than casual thanks for shining so brightly. We found out the next day that right at the turn-off to my road, there had been a terrible fatal accident. My friend's teenage son had a head-on collision and lost his life early Sunday morning. When I saw what time the accident had happened, my heart raced, and I had to sit down. It was less than five minutes from when we had turned down my road. He was less than five minutes behind us, following the same bright moon. He crossed the center line, his fiance asleep beside him, and another younger teen in the backseat, and hit a lone taxi cab head on. The cab driver is going to be okay. Jeff's fiance is going to be okay. The teen boy is still fighting for his life. And Jeff, 19, a motocross racer, a future stock car driver, a brother to his 15 yr old sister and 11 year old brother, was killed on impact. He was a sweet kid, his mother adored him, worried about him, and fussed over him. He was a dare devil, he had broken his arm and both legs racing motorcycles before. We don't know the details about what happened, did he fall asleep? Get distracted by something in the car? Send a text? Search for a CD? Details will come later.

I guess I didn't know where this post was headed, I saw it more as random thoughts about all the things we have been doing lately. I didn't want to be sad. I didn't really want to dwell on how close we came to disaster because I drove home way too late. I didn't want to talk about another boy who is gone from us forever.

But since that's where I ended up, please offer up two prayers. A prayer for Jeff's family and their comfort, as they grieve. And a prayer of thanks that God still has plans for me, my two precious girls, and my dearest friend, Janet, and he sent the moon to light our way.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Locks of Love

Chena had been asking us all summer if she could get her hair cut, short. I tried to hold her off, told her how beautiful it was, how much she would miss it, etc. I gave her a waiting period, so she could see if she really really wanted to do it. (can you tell I loved her hair??) Sure enough, she was completely determined, and told me she wanted to cut at least ten inches off, so she could donate it to Locks of Love .

So we made the appointment, and she was so excited, bouncing up and down and eager to have it gone. No second thoughts at all, unlike poor Mom! :) Everyone at the salon gathered around when they made the cut, and there it was...a gorgeous looooong thick blond ponytail. The ponytail that got swished at me when I made her mad, the ponytail that hung down below her riding helmet as she won blue ribbons at the horse show, the ponytail that hangs over her pillow and off the edge of the bunkbed when I tuck her in at night, the ponytail that I can barely glimpse through the leaves of her favorite climbing tree...when she is playing tree fairy, the ponytail that flies in the wind as she gallops bareback up the driveway on the way back from a trail ride, the ponytail that I see last as she rides off on the motorcycle with her daddy, the ponytail that comes in the house and shakes hay all over my clean livingroom carpet after barn chores, get the idea. Sigh. A mommy has to be willing to let go and move on, even with the little things that mean so much to her....if they mean equally as much to her child. :)

A few pics from this summer (because I know we all love "before" and "after" pictures!)

And here is Chena's new look!! (I have to admit, its pretty cute..but I wish she didn't look so (((((shhhh)))))) old!) I'm going to have to face it, she's growing up. I know it, but I don't have to love it. Hee hee.

I took these outside right when we got home. I think she kind of glows with pride and happiness!

She told me she feels so much lighter and she basically danced around the first few days. Silly girl. Who knew so much gravity was in 11 inches of hair?

Bye bye ponytail, off you go!