Tuesday, September 23, 2008

No, I don't want to be a tree!

Okay, so this past Saturday, I went on another butt-kickin' trail ride with a small group of folks from the barn. There were 4 of us, and we've ridden together before. We have a total blast on these rides; they're at a state park-type area about an hour or so from the barn. You pay $20 at the gate, park and tack up, and then take off on the morning ride. This particular ride was anywhere from 5-6 miles, maybe more. I am NOT a good judge of distance! The ride is tough; both horse and rider MUST be in shape, or you'll both have a really tough time. There is a lot of up and down, lots of hills, rocks, fallen trees, streams, bridges, roads, etc. to negotiate in this very wooded area.

We were about 2/3 of the way through the ride, and Ranger had just about had it with going down hill. He'd get to the top of the hill, look down the other side, and I could just hear him saying "you've got to be kidding". We took a lot of breaks, and I always let him choose the pace he wants to travel at. He's older...24...and in fantastic shape, but he's the one doing all the work so I try to let him make some of the decisions. That kind of backfired on me...

We were last in line to go down a hill...because he was pouting at the top of the hill...and I finally encouraged him enough to head down. Well, there are a lot of trees in a forest. We had smacked into a few throughout the day, but mostly they were little skinny saplings that just moved out of the way. Not this time. So, Mr. Forgot I Have Someone On My Back starts going down this hill, and he's too far to the right on the path. There's a tree on our right side...about 6 inches in diameter...and it's flush with his shoulder. Incidentally, his shoulder is right in front of my leg. Which means that freakin' tree is about to whack me in the leg. I distinctly remember thinking "oh, crap, that thing is NOT going to move out of the way". It didn't. SMACK. Right into my leg, from the knee, through the shin, to the outside of my ankle. Something in the ankle went POP, and I said "OUCH!". It threw my balance off...remember, we're still in forward motion headed down the hill...and the next thing I know, I'm bounced up out of the saddle, thrown forward onto Ranger's neck, and I'm screaming "Help! Help!". Everyone stopped their horses, and told Ranger to "whoa". He did. He found a relatively flat spot just to the left side of the path.

So, the best way to describe how I looked at this point in time is to direct you to the movie "Toy Story". Remember when Woody had to get outside to the yardsale to save Wheezy the Pengiun? Well, he hitched a ride on the dog...the weenie dog...by hanging on to the collar and laying his body flat against the right side of the dog's body. This would be me and Ranger. The only points of contact I had with him were my left foot, over the top of the saddle and digging in to the saddle, and my chest over the top of Ranger's neck. My right leg was out of the stirrup and hanging almost to the ground, my right hand still had a hold of the reins, but was under his neck, my left hand was dangling down the left side of his neck, and I was looking at the ground thinking "hey, there's his front left foot!". Ugh.

I VERY CLEARLY heard Anna (the barn owner) yell to me in her "instructor's voice": Shannon! Reach down and grab the reins! I did as instructed with my left hand, pulled toward his butt, and that's how he came to a stop. At that point, I took a mental "inventory" of my body parts, everything was attached, and I looked behind me. There was Ed, Anna's hubby, smiling. I started laughing and asked "How the HELL did I stay on this horse???!!!!". I lowered myself to the ground, where I promptly had to "take a knee" due to the pain in my shin and ankle. I sipped a Propel, shook it off, mounted up, and off we went.

So now, I have a lovely bruise on my right calf, a swollen bump on my right shin, a "rug-burn" on my right elbow from the bark of the tree, and the outside of my right ankle is slightly swollen. I can walk on it today, though, without limping. I'm pretty sure I broke a teeny tiny something in there...but it's nothing that's serious enough to go get an xray done. The pain is gone, and for the most part if feels fine. There are a few positions that elicit a small scream from me, but not many.

Aside from the "episode" with the tree, the ride was a blast. There's a lot of flat areas to get in a good gallop, and lots of cleared forest areas to trot and canter through. The scenery is awesome, and the trails are very well marked. At the end of the ride, we wind up at the bunkhouse, where a stew or chili is waiting for us, along with homemade German sourdough bread, drinks, and cobbler with ice cream. Now, one thing about the cobbler. There are people who go on this ride specifically to get the cobbler...no kidding. It's homemade in cast-iron kettles and cooked in an open campfire in front of the bunkhouse. This time it was apple cinnamon...yum!

After lunch, you can either load up and go back home, or do the afternooon ride...which is a trail that goes in a different direction than the one you just completed. We don't do the second ride; our horses would scrape us off on the first tree they could find and run for the hills if we tried to do that. They would NOT be pleased with us!

Back at the barn, everything gets unpacked and put away, horses get baths, fed and put up for the night. Ranger got liniment on all four legs, pain reliever, and an electrolyte replacer. Spoiled???????

While I was off cruising the trails, Marc and Tyler got to have a "Daddy Day". Tyler LOVES these days! He gets Daddy all to himself, and they go do guy stuff. This time, they went to Cooter's Pond State Park to fly their remote control plane...which turned out to have a dead battery...but was okay because there was a HUGE RC demo going on. Tyler got to see all kinds of RC planes and helicopters fly around. Then, they came home and went to the park by our house so Tyler could swing.

School photos are Wednesday; I can't wait! They'll be taken without his glasses, so we don't have to deal with the glare issue. I have no idea when they'll be back, but I've ordered the packages I need. Don't freak if you don't get one of them; we're sending out Christmas cards this year with a photo of the 3 of us, so you'll be able to see his cuteness anyway!

Well, time to get my achy-muscle bod to bed. I'm headed to the barn to ride tomorrow. Yay! See you next time...

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Conferences, Dr. Suess, and the paint

First, I have to report about our first ever parent/teacher conference. What a blast! We had a 15 minute time slot to visit with Mrs. Carlson about Tyler. We sat at a teeny tiny table, in teeny tiny chairs...I was cramped up, so I know Marc felt like he had his knees in his throat!! The visit went well...Tyler is doing amazing for a child his age. He's way above the average; his teacher said she was hoping he didn't get "too bored" in Kindergarten, since he knew almost all of the stuff already.

The statewide assessment testing was done in August, will be done again in January, and the last time in April (before school lets out in May). The testing is to see where the kids are academically, and track their progress throughout the school year. It lets the school know which kids are having difficulties (and in what area) and helps determine which kids will be ready for first grade. Anyway, the testing shows that the kids must have a score of "8" in two areas...letter sounds and letter recognition. Tyler scored a 15 in one, and a 36 in the other. The child blew the test out of the water!!!! In fact, the end of year testing goal is a 40, and Tyler already has a 36...wow!

Mrs. Carlson gave us a checklist of things she "grades" him on, since there are no real report cards for Kindergarteners. He aced the checklist. The only areas that she thinks he needs a little improvement is obeying conduct rules and demonstrating self control. In other words, Tyler likes to touch his buddies and constantly flap his gums. Unfortunately, these issues are actually genetic defects, passed down from me. :) So, he has to work on keeping his hands to himself and keeping his mouth closed unless it's time for playing and visiting. He's getting the hang of it.

On to Dr. Suess. Tyler has been learning to read. This child is scary. He and Marc sat on the couch every night for 3 or 4 nights, and read One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish. They broke it up into sections since the book is so long (63 pages). Marc read the harder words, and Tyler read the easy ones. There's a whole two pages that he read by himself..."Who am I? My name is Ish. On my hand I have a dish. I have this dish to help me wish. When I wish to make a wish, I wave my hand with a big swish swish. Then I say, "I wish for fish!" and I get fish right on my dish. So, if you wish to wish a wish, you may swish for fish with my Ish wish dish". OH. MY. GOD. The only word he got stuck on was "right", but he did try to sound it out. Marc and I are completely blown away. He's actually starting to read some bigger words, like "mouse" and some of the names of states.

I'll make sure everyone gets an invitation to his college graduation when he's 12 years old...

The paint. Ah, yes, the paint. We are taking on three house projects at the same time (accidentally). We are taking down the hideous border in the kitchen/breakfast nook, painting the trim, doors and window casings a fresh new white, and changing the paint in Tyler's room to prepare for the big boy stuff. Ugh. I do claim responsibility for the overload, though. I can't sit still, so I started painting stuff and one thing led to another. I've already repainted the trim and cabinets in Tyler's bathroom, and it looks awesome. I can't wait until the rest of the house is done...it'll be so crisp and clean looking.

We got Tyler his big boy bed...it's in the garage. We're making him sleep out there until his room is finished. Just kidding! We still need a headboard for it; our neighbors have a twin headboard that looks like a fence gate that they used for their daughter. She's now in a bigger bed, and they need to get her a bigger headboard, so they said we could have the old one for Tyler. It'll work out great, since we wanted to make him a headboard that looks like a fence gate at the barn. A little paint (yippee! more paint!!) and some authentic looking hardware, and it'll be ready to go. First I have to paint the lower 36" of the room denim blue, then add the red bandana border I found (think chair rail) and clean his carpet. Then we can put the bed in and change out all of the decor. His old Classic Pooh stuff will go in my craft room (aka guest room) since the colors match the stuff in there, and I can't bear (no pun intended) to put away the wall hanging of Piglet my mom made before he was born.

Once I figure out how to do it, I'll upload some photos for you to see.

Otherwise, things here are status quo. The weather was AMAZING today...it was partly cloudy, a light breeze, and 76 degrees. Woo Hoo! I shut off the A/C and opened every window in the house. It was so nice to have the fresh air in here all day. We did have to turn the A/C back on before Marc went to bed, because he'd fry without it. I can't wait until the stupid thing is shut off all the time in the fall!

I have been riding Ranger at least twice a week, and he's doing so amazingly well that I'm almost thinking he was abducted by aliens and this is a different horse in his place. Wow! He's doing stuff I never thought we'd accomplish together, and I couldn't be prouder of the old guy.

On a nifty note, my best friend Stephanie (who sent Scout out here to live with me) is now less one horse...finally. The lady who owns the barn I board at (Anna) is taking Scout's momma Tequila to be a full time lesson horse. It's a great situation for everyone; Anna gets a well-broke sweetie of a horse to give kids lessons on, Tequila gets an awesome job with health benefits, free room and board, and all the love in the world from a bunch of little girls, and Steph gets the burden of one unused horse off her wallet, and into the competent caring hands of Anna. Win, win everyone! Anna and I are going to travel to OK to pick her up and haul back to AL. The drive will be about 14 hours one way; we'll go on a Sunday and Monday, within the next couple of weeks. It should be a fun trip!

Off to bed I go. I have to work tomorrow...by myself. It'll be fun, though. I'll have my MP-3 player, and I'll be working on the base so I can have lunch with Marc. ;) Talk to you later!!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Another one bites the dust!

Well, Tyler woke up this morning and reported that one of his bottom teeth was loose. By 7:30 tonight, that sucker was out! He wiggled it all day; it was really bothering him. He wanted Tylenol and a nap...you KNOW it was hurting if all the boy wanted to do was sleep it off! So, after dinner, he asked Marc to pull it out for him. It came right out, and Tyler is so relieved! We got it on video. This is his third baby tooth to come out in 6 months' time...wow!

I just read one of my best friend's blog...Leah's...and she posted a link to a Go Fish! video. They usually do a concert at the MOPS Convention. I've seen them twice, and totally love them. This year the Convention is in Dallas...I'm so bummed. If I was still living in Abilene, I'd still be with my beloved MOPS group, and going to Convention with them. Sigh. Maybe I'll just get in the car and start driving...

Today was the "spruce up the barn" workday where I board Ranger. I've never come home that filthy from the barn...EVER. It was gross. We took down cobwebs (and consequently killed lots of spiders), swept aisles, painted jumps in the arena, cleaned tack rooms and the bathroom, scrubbed water buckets...you name it, we did it. The owners provided pizza, potato salad and desserts. Someone was wonderful enough to fill a huge cooler with lots of ice and sodas. In all, the day went well, and the barn looks really nice and better organized. Lots of the 4-H girls were out there, so it was fun to listen to them chatter away all day.

Steph's horse, Scout, who is currently living here in Alabama at the neighbor's farm, has been recently renamed to "BRAT". The little creep jumped a four foot tall fence to get to the hayfield on the other side. What a punk! However, she just totally hosed herself...now we know she can clear a fence that tall with no problem...so in addition to her English training, she'll be trained how to jump obstacles, too! I think she'd make one heck of a nice Cross-country jumper. Those are the horses that go on the long courses and jump all kinds of cool things within a specified amount of time. She's not afraid of anything (unless it looks like a needle), and she looks built for speed. I cannot wait to get her to the barn and get her under saddle. She's trained to ride Western, but she has long elegant legs and a graceful neck so we're switching her over to English. She's gonna be gorgeous!

Not much planned this weekend. Last night we went to the football game; we bought season tickets for the local high school. We went with Deborah, George and Lydia. Tyler had a BLAST!! We were in the front row of the first elevated tier of bleachers, right on the 50 yard line; we have the perfect seats! Tyler really enjoyed watching, and rooting for the Mustangs, and has informed us he wants to play football. Then he got a hold of Lydia's pom-pom, and that's all he wanted to do after that...shake that thing! Go Mustangs, go Mustangs! He was a great cheerleader. The next game is the 26th, and we can't wait.

Otherwise, we're just watching Lydia for the night. George and Deborah are at some kind of a reunion dinner, so we took Lydia and their dog Pitty for them. They don't get too much time alone these days, and neither do we, so we're swapping babysitting duties. They're taking Tyler for the night next Friday; we're headed to see Bill Engvall perform in Montgomery.

It's time to put the "chitlins" to bed. I suppose I should wait until their movie is over. They're watching "Alvin and the Chipmunks". One of Tyler's favorites, and even I like it. The music is pretty good.

See you next time...

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Mystery solved...

Well, it appears that Marc's weird insoles he got in the mail are to "tide him over" until the completely custom ones come in. I guess because it takes so long to get the fancy-pants ones, they thought he'd appreciate something in the meantime. He's using them, and so far, so good.

Tyler has been having some issues at school...it seems he likes to dork around in line and visit with his friends...when he should be standing quietly. I'm ashamed to admit that this trait is probably from me; just about the only thing I ever got in trouble for in school was talking. Imagine that! :) So, we've been trying to give the boy some incentive to do his best at school. We've talked about how his teacher has 13 other kids, and it's hard to keep everyone on track at the same time. He needs to be helpful by respecting the rules and doing as he's asked. He needs to be a good example to other kids in the class, so they see how to properly behave in line. We talked about how upset some kid would be if they got in trouble for being silly in line because Tyler was being silly...and it's not a "friend" thing to do to the other kids. He seems to be grasping the concept really well, so we'll see how the next few days go.

On the flip side, he's been getting a lot of "Gotcha's!" for good behavior. Gotcha's are little slips of paper that a child receives from a teacher when they're caught in the act of being nice, helpful, or respectful. The goal is to rack up at least 5 Gotcha's in a month; this enables you to attend the Gotcha Party. The party is held at the end of every month, and they try to do something different for each party. The only example I can think of is the play area completely covered in those giant blow-up slides and bounce houses. Let me tell you...these Gotcha's are a BIG deal. Tyler is trying so hard to get a Gotcha every day; right now he has 8. I think he's tied for first place (although it's not a contest...it's just to challenge the kids to behave).

Maybe I need to snag some of those Gotcha pads....

We are currently hurricane-free. There isn't even a chance of rain in our forecast for the next 10 days. We have some clouds, but that's about it. This is good for us...we need to cut and bale the hay at the farm.

George and Deborah got a call from George's mom, who lives on the property right next door to their farm. She said the last goat...the big black one who escaped from us AGAIN...was at the pasture fence, ramming it with her head. Apparently she wanted IN with the other goats. What a doofus. If she had just cooperated to begin with, she'd be livin' La Vida Loca with the rest of the herd. I'm thinking goats aren't real smart.

I spent 3 hours tonight reorganizing my scrapbooking paper. I finally broke down and ordered some more organizing thingies, and they were delivered today. It was insane. I have enough paper to supply a small store. The sad thing is...I'm not done reorganizing yet! ARGH!! Oh well; I suppose that's why they call it a hobby...

Tyler has decided he wants to be Buzz Lightyear AND Batman for Halloween. I'm assuming it means we'll have to take him on two trips around the block...one in each costume! Ha!

We've been sucked in. Alabama has sucked us into its football grasp. We are now the proud owners of season tickets (first row on the second deck, thank you very much) for the local high school! Our not-so-bad price includes reserved parking at no charge, reserved seats, access to the hospitality tent (which provides food and beverages), and the forthcoming new bathrooms. Oh, and Tyler is free! It should be fun...we'll be going with the neighbors. I've always loved high school football games, and even the games at USAFA (mostly because those had fly-by's!).

Work for me is going well. I really am enjoying both jobs. I'm getting a ton of experience at the barn, working with different horses on different issues. I'm also getting a ton of experience caulking tubs and cleaning ovens! Seriously, both jobs are fairly easy, and it's stuff I like to do and think I'm fairly good at. Beats any job involving pantyhose, that's for sure.

Off to bed. I say that, then I get in there and read "just one more chapter", and before I know it, it's an hour later than I thought it was. Good grief. Yet I still try...

Monday, September 1, 2008


Well, we had an interesting weekend! We went to our neighbor's farm, which is about 35 minutes from our house. The drive is nice, once you're in the country. We had one plan for the whole 3 day weekend...catch the goats.

About 3 weeks ago, we were at the farm, and decided to go purchase 4 goats to put in the pasture with the horses. There are a LOT of things in the pasture that the horses won't eat, but the goats love. They're really good at keeping the fences clean and free of vines and weeds. So, we picked up four Briar goats...three nannies and a billy. The billy is Tyler's goat; his name is Leo. He's a cute little bugger, too. Tyler is in love with this goat. We had to get Leo brushes, a halter and lead rope, a feed scoop, and apparently Leo needs his own feed dish. Tyler likes to feed the goats dried corn, and the goats gobble it up like candy.

So, the goats settled in for their first night, and did fine. They were in a pen seperate from the horses, but could see the horses, and were interested in them. The next morning, George and Deborah attempted to move the goats from their pen into the pasture with the horses, and the little creeps escaped! They got spooked by the horses suddenly appearing from down the hill, and off they went...across the street and into the 3000 acre ranch over there. Ugh. Now we had goats on the lam. Hee hee...

Deborah and the guys went out looking for them, and managed to catch the biggest nanny, whom we think is pregnant. We shoved her skinny furry butt into the horse pasture, and set out to get the other three. They had by then buried themselves deep in the woods, we think. They were probably really hiding in the brush watching us walk around calling "here goats! Here goaties!". Creeps.

So, the project this weekend...the only thing we HAD to accomplish...was get the two youngest goats back...Leo and Lucy (who is Lydia's goat...she's Deborah and George's daughter). George was serious about this mission...he came out of the farmhouse completely clothed in camo. He said he even had his facepaint out! We loaded the kids up in the truck, and drove up the street a bit to the last place they'd been spotted. Deborah and George know everyone in the area, including someone in the Sheriff's department, so there was an APB out in the community regarding these wayward beasts.

After about an hour in the sun, LOTS of running and diving to the ground, we managed to get the two little ones rounded up against a wall of dirt in an excavation pit. Deborah body-slammed the female and got her in a head-lock, and I managed to shoulder the little guy in the ribs and knock him off balance...and into George's legs. George snatched him up off the ground, and that was that! It sounds kind of violent, but let me tell you...the littlest one is about 30 pounds, they're experts at escaping, and they have four sharp little hooves. You have to be aggressive when you want to catch one, or you won't catch anything but a hoof in the face.

So, here's Deborah holding the female, George holding the male, and Marc in the middle holding the rope that's tied around each goats back leg, in case they break free of the human's grasp. We're about a quarter-mile from the truck, where the kids are locked in the air conditioning. I'm standing there, out of breath and amazed that we actually caught them. We were going to walk the goats back to the truck, but everyone was so blasted tired from being a goat wrangler that it was decided to bring the truck to the goats. Quickly, lest they escape again. Guess who had to go get the truck???

Yes, I ran a quarter-mile, without stopping, over uneven terrain and down a hill with a sharp left turn in it. I'm surprised I didn't trip and kill myself, and I'm really surprised I was able to run that far without passing out for lack of air! When I got into the truck, Tyler was asking me questions, that I couldn't answer, because I had no air in my poor screaming lungs.

We drove the goats back to the farm, put our hands all over them to get them used to humans, put a neon-rainbow halter on Lucy (we didn't have one small enough for Leo!), and released them into the pasture. They quickly found the farthest back corner possible, and stood there staring at everything. They saw the horses, and that there was another goat in there, so they started bleating a little. The older goat (Bessie) bleated back, and then everything was fine in the pasture. As of our departure today, all three goats are hanging out with the horses, the horses could care less about the goats, and the goats know that people bring corn. It's all good.

Tyler is happy because Leo is back. My thighs are sore from my quarter-mile sprint. George is hurting from the roll he took on the ground. But dammit, the goats are back!!

In other news, the hurricanes are currently NOT predicted to hit Alabama. Our 10-day forecast on the weather channel shows nice weather and very little chance of rain. Yay! Maybe our mud at the barn will dry up...that stuff is sticky and nasty.

Marc got his new arch supports for his chronic foot pain. The doctor thinks the pain is coming from the main tendon on the underside of his foot being pinched and irritated. When he lays in bed, there's no pressure on the tendon, and that's when the swelling starts and wakes him up with extreme pain. That's the theory, anyway. We both still think it's something else, but what do we know?! The doctor made custom molds of both of his feet, and he was told that the orthotics would take quite a while to come in. That didn't surprise us, because Marc's had custom orthotics made before. What did surprise us is that they showed up in the mail less than two weeks later. When we opened the box, there were two pair of what appears to be off-the-shelf shoe inserts. What's custom about that? They came in plastic sleeves with labels on them saying "Mens 10-10.5". Sounds like off-the-shelf to me. So, Marc took a pair in to his doctor's office and left them with a note asking if this is what the doc wanted for him. We're still waiting to hear back from the doctor. Of course. I'll let you know how it comes out, but let me tell you what...someone needs to figure this out and fix it. Poor Marc has been through the wringer with tests and doctors, and still has this horrid pain that wakes him up most nights. Not good for a guy who has to get up early and go to work in the morning...

Well, it's time to turn off "Animal Cops" and shut down the computer for the night. I'm bushed. And my thighs are still protesting this weekend's Olympic trials...