Friday, August 28, 2009

RIP

I'm going to apologize in advance that I look like crap and my face is all red and blotchy. This post is very hard for me to write, though I knew it was coming--I just didn't expect it so soon. So please, keep your eyes on the screen and don't look at the blubbering mess that's writing it.

Today, I lost someone who has been a part of my life longer than most people I know. This someone has been around longer than my kids, my husband, most of my friends, a lot of my extended family...we've been "together" for 20 years. Now, I don't know what I'm going to do.


This is Cookie. She belonged to my aunt and uncle as a part of their trail-riding business. I began riding her when I was about 9 and I quickly fell in love. Most people didn't like or understand her because she was always cranky, moody, and kicked at other horses. She was also unpredictable and would spook at one thing but be completely fine with another, generally scarier thing. But I saw through all of that. I saw the huge heart she had and all of the potential that some TLC would give her (I'm talking emotional TLC, my aunt took excellent care of her)

Cookie in July

I bugged my aunt for years. I would ask her several times each year if she was ready to sell her yet, if I could buy her, if she'd give her to me. I never gave up. The summer that I turned 13, they gave in and told me I could buy her. I was completely over the moon. I counted up all the money in my savings (I wasn't kidding!) and promptly handed it over the next day. She was mine.

Alayna on George, Lilly and I on Cookie in Sept 2007

Cookie and I spent hours riding together. We lived a few miles from my aunt and uncle, and I worked there in the summers, so I'd get up early and I'd ride Cookie to my aunt's to help out for the day. Then I'd ride her home. We'd go for rides with friends on the trails around their house. A bunch of us trained for a distance ride at the end of each summer and we'd all trailer up to Washburn for the weekend--Cookie and I went 3 times and we got one 2nd and two 1st's! To this day, I would ride her whenever possible , though that possible was harder to find because of kids and busy schedules.

For the last month, Cookie has been losing weight rapidly. I don't know what was wrong, as I couldn't afford extensive vet bills and testing. And to be honest, Cookie was old (28 or 29-ave lifespan of a horse is around 24) and though I wanted to, I knew that anything like that would only prolong her life by months, or maybe a year or two, not several. So we did what we could to make her comfortable and try to put weight back on her. But today, she took her last breath. I had been preparing myself, but I knew it would be hard and I thought I had more time. And it hurts. Bad. But we had a great run and a great life together. She taught me so much and I will miss her and think of her with every horse I see.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Peace

For the past several months, Emily over at Chatting at the Sky has hosted a weekly event called Tuesdays Unwrapped. She encourages people to take notice of the little things and unwrap a moment or event or something that us moms and dads and adults might normally not notice, or take for granted because we're so busy working and cleaning and paying bills. She's decided to take a hiatus for a few weeks, but when I saw this, I knew I wouldn't take a hiatus this week.



After working out yesterday during quiet time, I came down from my shower to see the girls playing Sorry! together. They were laughing quietly and being kind to one another when I wasn't there to "put a show on" for. It was wonderful.

My girls have been experiencing a painful stretch lately. Alayna is just old enough that she's too old to play with the little kids, but still young enough that she sometimes wants to. She lashes out occasionally because she gets frustrated, and then gets angry at herself because she knows better. Lilly is just old enough that she's realizing she doesn't have to do everything her older sister says, so she's starting to break out of the shadow and speak up for herself more. It's made for some crazy, moody, emotional days around here--for them and me.


I'll admit that I could handle most of these issues better than I do. I won't spout off excuses about being tired or overwhelmed. I'll take the blame like a big girl. I've been working hard to take a deep breath before I yell or punish, to try to understand where they are coming from and why they are reacting as they are before I react. But it's hard, and I'm human. I ask God for guidance and advice each night before I go to sleep, and oftentimes during the day as well. I admit to the girls that I'm not perfect, and ask them to do the same.


I think it's been working. They still fight and argue and threaten, but finally, I believe it's starting to sink in. They've been working harder to understand how their actions affect others. They're trying to live in the Golden Rule frame of mind. They are understanding that even though we are family and will always forgive and love one another, that doesn't mean we can take advantage of one another. At least I hope they are. But for now, we seem to have a moment of peace. I like peace.

How's that feel?

I loved my previous blog design, but lately I've been working on decluttering things and keeping it fresh. I decided that it was time to do that to the blog as well. Time to take away the glitz and glitter and let the clean, sharp lines shine through. And who knows, I may change my mind in a few weeks and go completely over the top. I'm a woman, so I can change my mind without justification. But in the meantime, it's going to be like this. And I think I like it. I hope I'm not throwing anyone for a loop here. It's not my intention. I just wanted a change for the clean and fresh. And I think that's how it feels now.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Nearing the End

Today is August 24. If you look at a calendar, the 24th is near the end of every month. But in August, it seems to signify more. Not only does the 24th mean it's almost the end of August, but it also means it's almost the end of summer. There is one more week until school starts, until September starts, until things start to go back to a set routine. But before it all ends, we have to party.

It started back in 2005, the first summer we owned our home. We had friends and family over for a big BBQ and yard party to show everyone the house. It was such fun that everyone said we should do it again. So we have, every year since. We invite our friends and family, only asking that everyone bring a dish or treat to share to go along with the provided brats and dogs. By the end of the evening, we have tables full of delicious salads and snacks and yummy treats. We have Walla Walla Ball (aka Ladder Ball) and bean bag toss tournaments. We have a bon-fire. We have a ton of kids running and playing. It's So. Much. Fun

This past weekend we hosted our 4th annual End of Summer Party. The weather was a perfect 75 and sunny. People started showing up about 3:15 Saturday afternoon and the last people left about 11:15 yesterday morning. Yep, some people set up their tents or campers in the front yard. We'd rather them camp out than attempt to drive home when they are not fully capable. And really, we don't care. They are our family and friends. We love having them here. That's why we host this party.

Andy and I are always curious how many people show up--it's crazy and we're simply unable to talk for long with everyone that's there. Andy may get to talk with someone for 20 minutes, while I can only wave hello to them from across the yard. Some people pop in and leave 30 mins later; other people are there for the whole time. We sat down yesterday afternoon and thought of everyone that was there. Including kids, we came up with 91 people. That's who we remember, so it may be more than that. We LOVE it. There is nothing like being surrounded by family and friends.

So to those of you who came--Thanks for making it a great night! To those of you who couldn't come--Hope to see you next year! And to all of you--Thanks so much for being our friends and family! You all mean so much to us!

A handful of the kids, playing on our newly-added-onto swingset



This is Chief, Andy's old co-worker. He's like a surrogate Grampa to us all and we love him dearly (that's who we named our horse Chief after!) He has been telling this joke for years and though we've heard it a million times, it's still funny. And probably, no one else could tell it but Chief. It's his thing. This year, I finally got it on video. There is some language in the joke, but it's "not a really bad word, just a bad-bad one" as Alayna says.

video

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Congrats Kerri & Emi!

We had a super busy weekend, but the highlight of it all was the wedding reception for Kerri & Emi. Kerri is the older sister of my very dear friend, Karla. I have known them both since the 4th grade (I believe) and Karla and I were inseparable for every summer from then through the teen years. Why only the summers? Because they grew up in the Twin Cities, but had a cabin near our home and the resort I worked at. That's where we would spend hours and hours riding together, having sleep-overs, working at the store, swimming, camping, etc. Then Karla and I went to college together, and she met a man and married him and now lives only 2 miles from me! It's crazy, because as younger kids, we always dreamed we'd one day live near one another and raise our kids together, go riding together, etc. Now we do.



Kerri has always been like a surrogate older sister. She was always kind to me, we would all play hours of Peanuts while listening to Simon & Garfunkle, she let Karla and I stay a weekend with her while she was in college--she was like my 2nd older sister. Then she moved to Argentina. Yep, that's pretty far away. She has been there for several years now, coming home here and there for visits and family events. And when she's home, we all get together and have family game nights and dinner. Though now, those families include our own spouses and children.
The only pic I got of Kerri & Emi
And now, Kerri has a spouse as well. She met Emi in Argentina and they will make their home there. But this past weekend, they had a reception here in the states for Kerri's family and friends. It was so great to see her and to finally meet Emi, as well as see their extended family. Even though it rained, it was a beautiful night to celebrate their love and commitment! So, congrats to you both! And here are some pics from that great night...
The girls and Tyler in the bouncehouse



Mikayla wearing my shoes (and me helping her out so she doesn't fall)


And a video of our darling Mikayla, who was dancing away until she noticed I was taking video. Then she cracked her funny face...

video

Monday, August 17, 2009

Puppy Play

It's been awhile since I've done a Marley update. Well...she's big. Her back is about to my hips and her nose hits right about my belly button if she's holding her head level. She's finally starting to fill out a bit and put her food into filling out instead of growing up. I'm glad for that because when we bring her out in public, people always comment on how thin she is. The general public (read, non-big-dog owners/lovers) just isn't aware that big dogs put their first year's worth of food into growth and the second and additional growing years into filling out.

Our good friends (and Andy's cousin) recently got a mini dachshund puppy. Toby is 10 weeks old and the size of Marley's ear. Okay, maybe the size of both her ears put together. At softball last night we had both dogs there and it was night and day. So funny. Marley and Toby played and played throughout the game and had so much fun! We all had fun watching them, David and Goliath, while they play battled all evening.


Another of Andy's cousins, Amanda, is holding Marley

video

Monday, August 10, 2009

You Know You're a Redneck When...

If any of you know us or have followed our blog for some time, you know that we like lawn-mowers. However, the mowers we like most are our "fun mowers" that we take camping. We have 7 or 8 fun mowers that run great but only 2 mowers that stay at home and are actually for mowing. And these mowers run mediocre, at best.

This summer has been incredibly dry (up until a few weeks ago, that is) and we haven't had to mow our lawn since Memorial Weekend. We finally got around to mowing it this weekend and we decided to mow with both riders to save time. Well remember how I said they run mediocre at best? First of all, neither one has a battery because all the batteries are in the fun mowers. So Lilly had to drive the PowerWheels Gator (which has a car battery instead of the PW battery...a whole other story) to each mower while Andy used her battery to jump-start the mowers. Then, we got about halfway through the yard when the drive belt on Andy's mower broke. It still ran, the blades engaged, but it wouldn't move. So what does my husband do? He calls me over to give him a tow. I thought he meant a tow to the garage. Oh no, he meant a tow around the yard. While still running. In neutral. With the blades engaged...

Yep, we red-neck lawn-mowed. I pulled him behind my mower while we each mowed the lawn. And wanna know what made it really red-neck? The tow-strap was baling twine. Oh yes he did. The only plus side to it? It usually takes about 3.5-4 hours to mow the entire yard--minus all the push mowing--and it took about 2 hrs with both mowers. But next time? I'll make sure he has a belt so we can still mow, but under individual power sources and farther apart than a 6' baling twine. I am just so grateful that the part we finished before the break-down was the front yard. No one saw us mowing the back and side-yard...I think.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Pronoun Proclamation

When one of my daycare moms came to pick up her kids earlier today, she noticed the new toy-box in the family room. I told her it had been in the basement toy room, but we had purchased a toy organizer (like this one, but not exactly, and it was at a garage sale in perfect shape!) in its place.

When she asked how the organizer worked for us, I replied, "It keeps everything nicely organized in one compact area--the Barbies, blocks, Legos, My Little Ponies..." when Mikayla interrupted me to say, "No, they OUR Little Ponies, not yours Mommy."

How do you not stare in amazement--and laugh in humor--at a 2-year-old that corrects your pronouns?! Most kids her age don't get them, but she not only gets them but corrects me! Of course, she doesn't understand that they are actually called My Little Ponies. She just cares that I apparently called them mine, when in fact, they are theirs.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

My Husband is Hot


I think that Andy is a very good-looking man. He's not a pretty-boy, but has what some people would call "rugged good looks." He's also fit, lean, tall and mine. Since he is mine, I'm inclined to think that about him. Does it make me feel good when other women notice him? Sure. But when teen-aged girls think he's hot? I laugh and laugh and laugh.

Andy and his sister coached their cousin's girls' softball team for a tournament earlier in the summer. The team was girls from 14-17 years old and varying levels of experience playing ball. Well, after the first game it became obvious that some of the girls had a crush on Andy. It was (and still is) so funny. "Coach, can you help with my batting?" "Coach, what did I do wrong out there when I missed the ball?" They hung on his every word like he was an inductee in the softball hall of fame. Since the tournament, we've run into some of the girls and the ones with the crush are still so painfully obvious. They talk, they flirt, they ask Andy's cousin or sister how he's doing, they even called him "hot for an older guy." And I just laugh.

Even funnier yet is that Andy had no clue. We had to point it out to him and even then he was skeptical. Well trust me, as a woman, I know when someone has a crush on my husband and especially with teen-age girls, they haven't quite learned yet to be inconspicuous. They follow him around, flirt, laugh at anything he says, shoot me dirty looks while still being nice to my face. It's quite funny. Quite funny indeed.

Monday, August 3, 2009

It's FAIR to say we're exhausted

This past weekend was our county fair. We look forward to the fair every year. Alayna participates in 4H (the other girls will when older) so she had projects to get ready and both she and Lilly had a calf to work with for Little Britches.

We went down on Wednesday afternoon, set up the camper we borrowed from Andy's cousin, settled the animals in the barn and went to enter Alayna's projects. Then we didn't leave. For 5 days. It's great to stay there and it's always fun, but by the end of the fair, we are SO READY to go home. This year, not only was it the normal exhaustion, but our entire club was dealing with head colds and the club we shared the cattle barn with had the flu. Good times. Thankfully, I had help with the girls from my mother-in-law and cousins, and my parents took the little girls for some of the time to give me a break and it was so nice!

So, like every other year, I know you all are begging for pics, right?

Alayna exhibiting her farm model, knit hat and stool she built with Daddy's help
Lilly and her calf, Cupcake
Alayna and her calf, Spot
Lilly & Cupcake


VERY sleepy by mid-afternoon Sunday, with cousin Amanda
Of course, we had to do rides. Mikayla was mimicking her horse
Mikayla's first roller coaster!






We all came home from the fair safe and sound. I got a horrible head-cold and Alayna was sick during the night, but we hope it's all soon gone and we can go about life again. Until next year, sweet fair...