Friday, January 6, 2012

Living in the moment

It's a new year, and full of new hopes, new dreams, new aspirations.  I haven't made resolutions per se, for this year, although I do have a few goals in mind.  Of course to continue my Ironman training.  I looked in the mirror yesterday and said to myself, "Yup, it's time to hit the treadmill again!"  Sadly it's been a while since I've done any serious working out.  Time to start it up again. 

Another, is I'm to be taking an actual riding lesson for myself once a month, starting this month!  Karen Sykes has agreed to work with me, and I am very excited to have someone on the ground yelling at me, instead of the other way around. 

Once I get myself set up with new boots and some other necessary riding apparel, I will also start competing again.  I have two USDF shows in mind, one in March and one in June.  Coming up right around the corner. 

I had excellent rides tonight.  Big Bird brought a huge smile to my face, and I'll explain why.  Yesterday I had begun work in the counter-bend exercise, and it is a very difficult thing for him for several reasons.  One, a horse can bend to the inside with a false or fake bend through the neck, never softening the shoulders.  However, the counter-bend requires a deliberate softening of the shoulders to successfully execute the exercise.  This requires the vulnerability of the horse and a willful setting aside of his control over his own body to the rider.  I don't take this for granted with any horse, but there are a lot of horses out there who find this, and many other far more difficult exercises, fairly easy or straightforward to learn.  But when learning becomes tangled up with emotional and psychological garble... the issue becomes complicated.  Big Bird has repeatedly struggled with yielding control of his body and no, this is nothing new.  Yes, he has made strides, and he has learned a few things and then he has learned how to cheat through a few things, too, this is all a part of his unique process.  But the counter-bend brought out some of that into the light yesterday as he very determinedly fought to go down the road to a power struggle with me about it. 

It is very delicate, that line of going head-to-head in a full outright battle of the wills, or carefully staying consistent with the goal in mind, while setting up the horse for ultimate success, but not backing off because of negative reaction.  I did my best to stay on the latter side of that line. 

The "Battle of the Wills" puts me against you; strengthens me while tearing you down.  It doesn't communicate a message of "I believe in you", but rather, "I will dominate you at any cost". 

The "Careful Construction of Achievable Goals" allows me to maintain the proper boundaries necessary, but it puts me in the position of serving your needs, understanding you, empathizing with your struggles while believing in you and your ability to achieve and setting you up for success.  It also takes a hefty commitment on the part of the goal setter, because I have to see it through until you achieve success. 

That line, my friend, is fine.  I notice that I switch sides when I become frustrated or impatient.  When I get to the point where I want to say, "I'm tired of sacrificing for you.  I'm tired of being attacked.  I'm tired of hurting.  I'm tired of spending all this time and effort and not getting any benefit from it.  Now I am going to make you pay for all the trouble you have caused me."  But when I stay objective and I train my eyes and heart to see the small things, the tiny little trys, and purpose to see the needs or the hurts through all the behavioral bombs, I can keep on the better side of that line. 

The counter-bend brought out this power struggle in BB yesterday, and he pulled out his repertoire of negative behaviors, even the ones we haven't seen in a long time.  New layers being peeled back to reveal deeper wounds.  More pain.  So he put out the flares and the fireworks in a desperate attempt to preserve his rights to his body yet again.  At some point he quit reacting long enough to seek out what I was asking, just for a second.  When I found him asking "why?" I rewarded him.  Soon we made it through several steps of a decent counter-bend and it only improved from there.  His entire demeanor changed, his body softened, and he was peaceful. 

But today, back to the smile across my face part.  Today he was willing to try right from the beginning.  We only had less than a half a minute total of any part of resistance, and even it was m-i-l-d.  Whenever a certain scenario would present itself where BB would typically chose resistance or anxiousness, I was so tickled when I experienced him emphatically yeilding  in response instead.  You could see that every fiber in his being that rallies up for a good fight was now giving instead! 

Another observation, I have never been able to ride him on a completely loose rein, because as soon as I set my hands down on the buckle, he takes off into a trot or something else, very chargy.  Yet after the counter-bend exercise, I would release him from it and set the hands down on his neck at the buckle, and he would walk.  He walked briskly, even where I, a few times out of sheer conditioning, almost winced because I felt the, "Oh, here goes the charging off!" part, but he never did it. 

Ohmygosh I love that horse. 

And then Drama's ride was also very exciting.  We have been learning the shoulder-fore and today he had a few moments of "I got it!" when we transitioned in and out of the exercise for a few strides each, with lift and

engagement.  He still wobbled a little, but it was marked improvement.  I was also listening to music on the iPod and then we played with walk to canter transitions when the music changed.  I nailed it once right on the mark and it gave me goosebumps, it was a lot of fun.  He was so great. 

A few moments during his ride, we were cantering a big 40m circle or so, I felt very together with him and he was very relaxed and accepting of all my aids, we rode around the corner of the arena where the sun was peeking through the trees on its decent, and the glare as we would ride around would temporarily blind me.  So at the canter, the music swelling, being blinded by the setting sun and having that moment to feel the brilliance and the beauty that surrounded me, was truly a moment to just relish.  To slow down time and to just feel every footfall, every note, every breath. 

Revel in those glorious moments, for they are so easily lost in the mundane.  <3

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Heart of a Champion

WHAT a good day I had today.  The inspiration I gain from being a part of the development of my students and my horses are just a pure shot of awesomeness, straight into my veins.

It's not even New Years yet but I have already made one resolution, for me to get lessons next year, starting in January, once a month.  For years I just keep telling myself that I need to get back into competition or do something with my horses outside of just schooling them in the arena, but since I never have an actual event that I work towards, I just never really get around to actually competing because I'm never "ready" in my mind.  So I figured I'd call my own bluff and make myself go out there and get a lesson, work on those things for the month and then actually make progress.  I have so, so, so much talent in my barn and I am such a fool if I let it go to waste while I wait for that "someday" crap.  So, I contacted Karen Sykes who is the girls' IEA coach, who is an Olympic Event rider and I'm going to take my first lesson with Sammy and work on developing my areas of weakness and discovering what I'm SURE has been in his heart to do since the day he was born.  More about him later. 

It's in the little things.  They make all the difference!  Magdalene has been riding Raz once a week on a day when Eryn doesn't come out, because he's the bomb when it comes to being able to ride a very correct horse while you work on you.  The stuff that the youngs or the greens struggle with or don't recognize, he can literally do in his sleep (and he doesn't mind letting you know that, either, haha).  Last week we did a little exercise where you ride a square, at a canter, and in the corners we collected the canter, rode a 90-degree corner and then rode out back to a working canter and then collected for the next 90*.  It takes an enormous amount of ability to coordinate all the aids and to juggle the transitions smoothly while processing a substantial amount of information along the way.  Your aids have to be available for use whether or not they are on the forefront of your mind and the other aids have to be working in the background.

Magdalene rides so much of her time in the saddle as a Hunter-style rider, so her idea of sitting up straight or riding with a deep seat is still more forwards and lighter than Raz would require of her in order to get his 90-degree corners accomplished.  So when I say for her to sit up more, you can see that she's like, "I AM!" and yet her back is not vertical.  Also when she got ready to collect the canter and ride the corner, she would sort of lean forwards in the anticipation of the corner, her shoulders would come forwards and her heels would draw up as she closed her legs on him, at which point he would promptly drop out of the collected canter because he couldn't maintain the drive-from-behind with his rider getting in front of him. 

And when I say that her shoulders came forwards or her legs drew up, I mean barely.  I can give you the names of 10 other random equestrians who would kill to have her "faults", haha.  (Which is how I feel of all my kids, although this particular story is about M, I watch ALL my kids show and ride and then I watch the other kids next to them ride and I just thank the good Lord above that my kids have their basics-and then some-DOWN!)

Eryn and Raz, accomplished pair!

Magdalene and Gallery, rocking the Hunters

Ansley and Starbucks, Pleasure!

But Raz knows these things and he can feel exactly when the rider's shoulders collapsed in, he feels like the rider is too forward on his neck and he won't do what is being asked of him until the rider gets themselves RIGHT, which is one of those things you just don't get from any other inexperienced horse.  He is SUCH a school master.  

So each time he collapsed down into the walk we'd go back through the list, shoulders back, stay behind him, keep him active, don't let your legs draw up which will then tilt you forwards.  Collected work has a center of balance that can be very finicky to find and it requires you to be behind, creating the energy into UP and while remaining active. 

So on that blessed moment where all her aids came together at the right time and he completed a beautiful 90* corner, or more loosely a quarter pirouette, and she felt where it was at, she GOT it.  And this week we went back and did more 90's and then one successful 180 or half pirouette.  It's the little things! 

I worked Drama today mainly on the counterbend canter circle, about 30-40 meters.  And when warming up and then cooling off we focused on keeping the walk active, because oh does he love to do the "bom-buh-de-dum" meaaaaaaaandering... even I know and fully realize that walk work can be quite boring and frustrating because it is so hard to get impulsion at the walk, but geeze, he just would looove to fall asleep.

Big Bird was a total ham tonight and gosh he was good.  I did a few rides a couple of weeks ago about the overbending to the inside and when I added my inside leg waiting for his ear to come back in recognition and for him to have bend through his barrel... tonight, he was all over it. He was so full of energy (as always) but I could really relax and I did not have to work hard to communicate to him, he knew exactly what I was asking for and he was totally eager to receive and execute my requests.  He demonstrated enormous self-restraint too yet never hiding his silly humor... I get so encouraged when I see that at least something I do every once and a while is right!  When a horse is able to be fully free to be themselves at the same time enjoying the harmony in relationship to the rider, this is exactly my goal with training, as well as in parenting, based off of why I adore Jesus so much, because of how perfectly he allows me to be who he made ME while I live in understanding with who he is. 

Big Bird on the longe this past weekend

Because after two rides my legs are fairly toast anyhow, but that coupled with having ran for the first time last night in about a month and a half, three horses just wasn't going to happen today.  So I went out to longe Sammy, and since he is excellent on the longe and I have nothing to do besides stand there and watch him do his thing, I had time to reflect on him.  He moves with such inexplicable power, yet he glides across the ground in absolute effortlessness.  I thought about the circumstances with which he came to me and how he never had been meant to actually be my horse, it was more like one of those things that I just happened to be that person there at that moment and at that time... and now here we were.  I haven't always liked him; he's not the type of horse that immediately grew on me and he certainly wasn't in love with me either, me forever erring on the "type-A" dominating personality-style and him being of the more delicate and sensitive nature, who, when pushed or bullied or emotionally terrorized, uses all his power against you.  Unstoppable force meets immovable object, type of thing. 

Even though I have this personality type and I am not embarrassed or ashamed of it in any way, and I love God's passion for individuality and rejoice in my strengths, I still also recognize that for every strength there still are plenty of weaknesses, and Sammy definitely needed me to address my areas of weakness of listening to him, empathizing with him and learning how to live with his personality, strengths and weakness. 

In all fairness to him, I realize I have spent the last few years, regardless of how well-intentioned it was, trying to conform him in various ways to my idea of excellence instead of asking him what he thought about it.  Sounds about like a marriage, huh?

So here he is, going around and around me tonight while I mull all this over in my mind, and even though over the years I have learned bits and pieces of this, it sort of became more of a solid conglomeration to me tonight, as far as a plan of action goes.  This links back to my resolution for lessons, having someone who understands horses like him so much better than I do, working on addressing my areas of weakness so that I can be better able to help him achieve what has been in his heart to do all along.  I know very little about eventing but the more I see in Sammy and the more I put it all together, I really think this horse was simply born to excel at doing this and he has been dying for someone to help him achieve his potential.  If I can see anything but him absolutely killing it out there... I don't know what I'm talking about.  :) 

Sammy on a hunter pace, anticipation and excitement!

He's something around 16 years old next year.  This whole time he's been putting up with me and arena work and whatever else we've concocted for him to do... generously serving, while inside having the heart of a champion, patiently waiting for someone to help him reach his potential. 

Ashlee and Sammy, who believe in each other!

I pray we all will have a person in our lives who will help us reach our individual potential despite the odds AND that someday we will be a person who helps another reach thiers, too.  

Can't wait.  This next year is gonna be GREAT!!

"Hold firmly to the word of life; then, on the day of Christ's return, I will be proud that I did not run the race in vain and that my work was not useless." Phil. 2:16

Gallery and Drama, full speed ahead!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Published Author Status!

I sent copies of my article on horse slaughter to two major national magazines, and just days ago I received an email from one of them, Horse Illustrated, asking permission to use my submission for an article they wanted to do on the subject.  And they paid me for it too!  So I will soon be able to say that I am a published writer/author!  One more step in the right direction towards getting my book about Blazer on track, and a definite boost in the arm. 

James and I have been working evenings, after he gets home and after my stuff in the barn is done, up in the shop on some woodworking projects.  I really do like working on projects and it has been a good feeling to see some "to do" items being scratched off the list. 

As far as my horses are going, after having finally, mostly, gotten rid of this bug I've been plagued with, I've been able to squeeze in a few rides.  The cool front we had this week definitely spiced things up with BB, because he certainly felt the need to be self-expressive as he responded to the temperature drop.  I have found that literally counting to myself, "One... two... one... two... one... two..." in my head or slightly whispering it, has helped steady my body rhythm and has definitely influenced him to respond with stability in his own rhythm.  Which in turn helps him to relax.  I also find that my aids will seem clearer and my brain is more organized as I school him. 

Today as I rode, I began to overbend him to the inside as I added my inside leg, and I waited until he brought his nose/face to the inside (since he will try to turn his nose to the outside so as to avoid relaxation or vulnerability) and for his inside ear to come back as recognition of the aid.  I rode him like this both directions and at the walk and trot.  After about 20 minutes, with which he at first (typical) tried avoidance tactics and tossing out behavioral bombs as a distraction, he actually began to focus and respond, and when his neck finally over-bent to the inside, his nose came in and his ear came back, he softened, and his strides became softer instead of the jerking/jolting/pounding ones he always starts with. The counting thing kept me more rhythmic despite his attempts to throw me off rhythm in the beginning and then later he was just responsive to the consistency.  And then I noticed that as he began to get "up" or tight or to go back to his ADD-tactics, I just added my inside leg and overbent him to the inside and he settled right back down and went back to more elastic rhythm.  It was really a great ride.  The only major behavioral I got was during one of our trot circles; Rhonda, who was sitting beside the arena, went to crumple up her Chick-Fil-A bag and I made the mistake of looking over at her as we rode by.  He knows just when I take my focus elsewhere besides him, and had I not looked, and thereby suggested to him that it was something he should focus on too, he probably wouldn't have responded to it.  But because I did he went ahead and did a quick bolt for about two strides, and then it took about a half circle to re-settle him, and then a couple more circles to get him to pass that area again without any physical response to the frightening bag. 

He keeps me on my toes, this one. 

Drama also did well.  I did bend/counterbend circles at the walk and then the trot, and lastly the canter.  They helped really loosen him and helped to drop him more reliably on the bit. 

I spent yesterday trimming most of the horses, I still have Sammy and BB to finish and I did not get to them today. 

James got another job offer AND a "raise" (because a few weeks ago he had declined the offer on the account of not enough pay) but even after looking into it again, we figure that we'll be just scraping by because this new company doesn't offer health insurance at this time, and from what we've found with purchasing private insurance... it will nearly be rape.  Perhaps if I got a job at say, Starbucks, I could get the health insurance and he could work for the company because of it being a good career move and better hourly pay.  We don't know for sure what we are going to do.  I have thought about getting a PT job in the evenings long before this, because of how badly we are doing in the income department and how seriously stressed out we are because of it.  I just wish it wasn't like comparing apples to oranges and not being very clear-cut as a *definite* improvement of our financial situation.  So we mull it over and ask God lots of questions, add in a few whinings about why does life have to consist of such greyish matter instead of black and white lines and clear signs, and wait and see.  Actively wait, that is. 

Now this, this is something that makes me go crazy.   

This I would give just about anything to be able to go see, since so many of them are my absolute idols in the Dressage world.  But alas, tickets are $250 and that is a significant deposit into my boot fund, which I also absolutely need for next season.  Sigh. Because these are what I'm saving up for:  Sergio Grasso, the Imperia.  Custom-made that will last me for, probably, the rest of my life.  $800-900.  (*cough*)


While I agree with you that that is just way too much for boots, I have to also clue you in, that non-custom but decently-made boots that will *only* last 2-3 years tops if they are not worked in, but just for show, are around $500.  So it doesn't seem like that much when considered that they will fit like a glove, last for work and hold up for 20 or more years.  

I have a long list of things I would like, and they are all grossly expensive, which is also why I would be considering the PT job.  :)

Thursday, December 1, 2011

After my post on the issue of horse slaughter here in the states, I've had 128 views and multiple re-posts from horse professionals I am friends of.  Feeling a little bolstered by some late-afternoon coffee and adrenaline from a subject that I'm very passionate about, I took the blog post and re-worked it and submitted it to two national equestrian publications.  I would really like to get a regular job as a writer or get paid to write or blog somehow in areas of my expertise and passion.  So I figured, let's start somewhere.  :)

I've had very little energy lately during the recuperation phase after being sick, so even the little things are exhausting to me.  I did spend time in the barn this afternoon getting some horses clipped.  While clipping Sammy one could almost sing, "Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!" for the sheer amount of white hair that the clippers were slicing away from the backs of his legs, fetlocks, and from under his chin.  Winter hair is a beast and I do not enjoy any part of it.

On the other end of the spectrum, Drama and BB who grow virtually no winter coat at all just needed some touching-up.  BB and I are still working through the clipping issues, and he's coming along marvelously.  

After my lessons with Eryn, Magdalene and Ansley I longed BB out in the arena and then the girls offered to help ride Drama and Sammy because my stamina was shot for the day.  Rhonda was out in the barn all day putting up a beautiful Christmas tree in the tack room and hanging lights and other decorations.  I'm not in any way a fan of the holiday festivities and decor, but as long as someone else is doing it, it's okay.  My one favorite Christmas t-shirt says, "Bah-hum-bug" on it.  :)

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Horse Slaughter

The ruckus that has emerged from every horse lover I know over FB and all across the internet, equestrian blogs, etc., about lifiting the ban for horse slaughter in the US is quite something else.  What makes horses so different than cows or chickens is their iconic symbolism they have provided for us in our country's development.  People are outraged over the legalization of horse slaughter and I would like to explain my opinion.

I am a lifelong horse lover, I spend tens of thousands of dollars a year to ensure my horses' (and the horses who belong to my clients) health, well-being and safety.  I care for every need... every physical, emotional, nutritional, educational, medicinal, psychological need... you name it.  I am a horse owner, trainer, riding instructor, coach, farrier, groom and clinician, and I personally have rescued or taken in unwanted horses more than I have ever purchased a horse, and rehabilitated them or re-educated and then re-homed to good homes or kept them personally.  I have had everything from OTTBs to geriatric warmbloods to ponies to BLM Mustangs to grade horses of unknown history to horses who nobody else could do anything with.  And I have held the heads of some of those horses as they were euthanized due to founder or puncture wounds through the skull.  I know the heartache of losing a horse, I have shed countless amounts of tears over the agony of such losses.  And I work 24-7-365 to care for these horses in my care without paid vacation or health benefits.  I do this because I want to do this and because I love it. 

So lest you think I haven't a heart, think again.

Yet, I am in 100% support of the legalization of horse slaughter.  How can this be, you ask?

It saddens me to know that horses are getting slaughtered.  Indeed it does.  It saddens me to put myself in their shoes, to be unwanted, uncared for, treated without kindness and have my life ended by someone else's hands without a say-so.

I have encountered thousands of horses in my career.  And most of these horses have had happy stories and successful careers.  But I have also come across the gross and unforgettable neglected ones, the ones who couldn't walk or stand due to gross malnutrition or injury, who were out in a small dirt enclosure without clean water or any edible food whatsoever.  I was one of those persons who helped physically hold up, along with six other adults, this starving horse to walk him across the street to my barn.  He was across the street the whole time in the neighbors' back yard, starving to death, and we never knew until one day by chance we happened to see him at exactly the right time through the bushes.  He was beyond skin and bones and could barely stand or walk.  We physically held up this horse and helped him move, step by painfully slow step, across the road into our property where he was finally properly cared for.

And this sort of thing is everywhere.  You people who are in outrage over slaughter; have you ever driven by one of these situations and wanted to end the lives of these miserable horses yourself?  It changes you.  It makes you realize the necessity of giving people an option to eliminate their unwanted horses.  And no, you can't save them all yourself.

I for one have done my part, and will continue to do my part, for rescues.  But many of you who would willingly put your name on a anti-slaughter petition won't go to an auction and take a horse off the slaughter-bound truck yourself because YOU KNOW how much risk there is and how much money it will take to rehabilitate one.  And if you won't, who will? 

Horse rescues across the US are full.  Horse rescues (some, not all) are some of the worst with cases of neglect because they simply cant afford the cost of care!  This is what happens when the supply exceeds the demand.  And unlike cars or other objects, they can't just be stored in warehouses. Obviously there are other answers out there for helping to not increase supply.  However, this is also assuming that people should be responsible and reasonable, and we know that just isn't always the case. 

And for those of you who have done one rescue, can you do two?  Or three?  Any more and you run the risk of not being able to adequately care for the needs of your animals yourself.

The bottom line is that people need a means, an effective, legal means and a right to choose how to dispose of their animals.  Having a vet humanely euthanize a horse costs money.  I know.  There aren't many places where you can properly or effectively bury a horse.  I know.  Having a horses' carcass hauled away or incinerated costs money.  Again, I know.  And trust me, very few people who do love their horse and want a humane means to end a horses life wouldn't go out and put a bullet behind the ear themselves.  Again, I know this.  I held a horse late one night whose owner ended his life with a shotgun due to a injury that could not be healed.  It's not that I'm an extra-tough person; it's because I knew it was the right and humane thing to do regardless of how painful it was to experience.  We as responsible owners need to be prepared to make these tough decisions, and to help the people who might not be responsible to also make the right decision.  And people who already don't have money to care for this horse in their backyard certainly can't afford to go down the road of euthanasia or incineration.

Where there is a law or ban, there is a way around the law or ban.  Last year statistics were shown that just as many horses were sold in the US for slaughter; however, they were shipped across the borders to our neighbors.  I don't know about you but I would think that having access to horse slaughter locally would cut down on a lot of this inhumane business we're always hearing about, especially in the hauling/shipping process.  And Canada and Mexico don't have near the regulations that we have in the US as far as where "humane" treatment is concerned.  Think about it. 

So make it available for them to sell their horse for meat value and we now have people who might do the responsible thing instead of leaving a horse to slowly die out in the backyard.  But if we make it illegal for these people then we sure as heck won't have anybody being responsible out there. 

Legalizing slaughter still won't completely solve the neglect issue, but it will certainly help.  For we all know that there are just sick, sick people out there who cannot do right by their own families and children, or even another human being, let alone an animal, regardless of what is legal or illegal.

If horse meat is legalized in the US it will also cut costs down on care for other pets and animals, such as zoos and dog food.

I never plan on eating horse meat myself.  If I were truly starving at any point later in life I might consider it, but as it stands now, I choose not to.  Horses are too close to my heart.  However, I can't afford to rescue any more horses right now and I can't tolerate the gross neglect I have seen growing due to the economy and the lack of means of disposal.

So I vote YES to the legalization, bottom line!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Sick again!

JJ has left with Pop and Goey for Indiana for the entire month of December and are still en route.  They left early Sunday morning, soon after which I fell sick with the bug that everyone else has had and that I already had a few weeks ago, although this time it was far more brutal including a fever and pressure in my head so great it felt as if my ears were bleeding at times.  So I am inside alternating between sleeping, watching movies and posting items we want to sell on craigslist. What a life. 

We have a number of plans this month to get a lot done and try to pull ourselves out of this pit we find that we occasionally trip and fall into.  Mass household purging and organization is the name of the game.  I am also going to try to get some writing done and work on my dressage presentation for Feb. 

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


It's the day before Thanksgiving.  Joe and Macy are coming over early tomorrow morning, James and I will do chores and then leave for my sister's in Melbourne.  JJ is already over there with Goey and Pop.  Since he has been gone I have had the house quiet and to myself for the last two days and it has been a welcome break from all the craziness that is holidays.  Although we have the smallest house of all, we find that we can fit an incredible amount of people inside, who happily trip over each other on their way to and from and shove things around to make themselves comfortable.  It's amazing. 

I have this ability to push and push and push, but then when I find myself crashing, it comes on hard and fast.  Today was one of those days.  I wrestled with myself for a substantial amount of time about getting outside and getting some horses ridden, or, to sit inside and watch movies.  The movies almost won out, the TV was even on and ready to go, but I did end up getting Drama and Big Bird ridden today, with whom I had really good rides all the way around.  I finished chores with Eryn, and then came inside and watched movies.

I have a gigantic pot of leftover spaghetti that is calling my name.  And some eggnog.  And possibly more movies.