Tuesday, February 22, 2011

We have joined the cult!

So, fiiiiiiiiiiiiinally, after way too long of having dumb, non-intuitive, non-functioning cell phones, we made the plunge into the cult following of the iPhone.  I am pretty excited, but also pretty nervous of holding in my hands something so expensive and so breakable on a daily basis.  And I am also up late figuring everything out about it, but it's so much fun, I can't stop. 

Today when we first got up, JJ announced that he wanted some candies.  I told him, "You can't have candy until you eat your sausage."


"Okay then, you won't get candy or sausage and you can go hungry."

He thought for a second and then let out a big sigh.  "That's not good," he moaned.  "That's dumb."

I went to Plant City to get hay and run some other errands.  We stopped first, of course, at Starbucks for a frappuchino, and then went through the bank drive-through.  JJ was trying to talk to me as I was filling out my checking deposit slip, and I couldn't get him distracted onto anything else so that he would quit trying to call for my attention as I was working on my deposit.  So I asked him, "Do you want some of Mama's coffee?"  He said yes, so I handed it back to him, and all was quiet in the world.  After a while, I was done with my deposit and I asked him if I could have my coffee back.  He said sure, and as he handed it back up to me, I was in shock when I saw that he had consumed exactly half of it.  Not that I am unwilling to share, even half my coffee, but the first half is the best half because the coffee and the flavor is the strongest, the second half is more like ice and foam and the blander side.  I could NOT believe it.  See if I ever use my coffee to shut him up again!!

We went to the Hay Depot to get all my hay, and then to Tractor Supply to get flyspray.  When we got back to the barn we started on chores, Eryn came first and then Magdalene.  They had good rides.  Kendall G. was a little bit later and her ride was great, too. 

I did not take any meds today for my back pain, and I could move around and do most things.  Climbing in and out of the truck was the worst, and the lumbar support in my seats put pressure exactly on the injured area so I tried to sit off to the side as best as I could.  There were times when I would move a certain way and the pain would shoot up to a 10 on the scale, but it was just for an instant.  Otherwise, it was better.  Still very injured, very painful, and I'm still moving quite slowly, but it was possible to function. 

I bought these shoes last night at Dick's Sporting Goods, and I looooved wearing them around the barn today. They are the Siren Sport Gore-Tex XCR by Merrell.  I honestly don't think I've ever worn a more comfortable, correct shoe.  I could feel instant relief on my knees when I put them on and walked around the store, because of the way the soles are designed to be correct for the conformation of a woman and our "Q-angle".  I hope they come out with a running shoe with this same technology soon, because I will be getting them if they do. 

Because Ariat, I'm sorry, but your barn shoes/sneakers that I got last year just didn't hold up, they were brutal to break in, and they were destroyed within just months.  These may not be decidedly "equestrian" but they are going to do the job, nevertheless. 

Saturday, February 19, 2011

It's my birthday!

Facebook is a grand thing, especially when it comes to getting well-wishes on your birthday from people you know, who otherwise might not have gone out of the way to say hey. 

Other than that, it was a normal day around here, where I didn't do too much of anything.  Which, I suppose, is not normal for me not to be working my butt off, so in that sense it was nice, too.  JJ and I got up, had breakfast, I went outside to bring in the horses for their breakfast, and then went inside and did some little stuff here and there.  I tried for most of the afternoon to find a hair salon that would give me an appointment on such short notice, and at first some of them said they could do it, but when they asked how long my hair was they switched to saying they wouldn't have enough time to do that much hair.  So I have an appointment set for Friday.

So just when I decided that I was going to go out and go bra-shopping or something, I got JJ all dressed up, our little bags packed for going out, got myself ready to go, and the little stinker decided to conk out on me across the couch.  Of course, I didn't have the heart to wake him up and drag him to the mall, so I let him sleep, and I took a nap myself.  Which maybe wasn't quite as needful as new bras were for me, but just as nice for the time being.

JJ, who only takes a nap when it isn't helpful. 

Anyhow, that night when James got home from work, he took me out for sushi, which was amazingly amazing.  This was a place we had never been to before, and after going, I asked him if we could go back EVERY Friday night.  I could not get enough, and it was so good. 

Teaching James how to use Chopsticks, so far, unsuccessfully. 

James, now getting the hang of chopsticks. 

The spread, a feast for the eyes, along with the mouth. 
Then we went to get coffee, and then to a movie, "Just Go With It", which was very funny and worthy of laughing out loud. 

The Valido's had taken JJ for the evening, so when the movie was done, we went to pick him up, came back home, and crashed. 

Friday I decided to cancel my hair appointment, because there was just too much to do around here.  Rhonda picked JJ and I up from the house and we went to the Fair with the girls for an hour or so this morning.  Most of it was lamer than I ever remember, but JJ had a good time riding some rides for his first time.

JJ rode a race car, was very concentrated on driving this car the whole time, even turned the steering wheel with the car's direction on the track. 

JJ and I are on this ferris wheel, somewhere...

JJ, trying to race his car

JJ riding down the big slide with "Big Izzie"
Cotton Candy for the first time, of course he loved it. 

 I also decided to ride Big Bird later in the afternoon.  He was not standing still for me mounting him, so I decided to work with him about that, in an effort to help him to understand what it was I wanted him to do.  Part way through the lesson I had let go of the reins while I was standing there messing with the saddle, and he started walking away, which is when I made a grab for the reins and missed, and then he trotted off and then spent a good few minutes running around the pasture like a maniac, not sure where to go or what to do.  Eventually I caught him back and and resumed my lesson, but he was all riled up and worked up over his little thrill of blasting around the pasture.  So there I was, trying to stand on a chair with one foot in the stirrup and mounting him halfway up and then back down so that he would learn not to move.  Well, one of the times I went ahead to throw my leg over him, he took off and bolted out from under me, which landed me on his butt instead of in my saddle, and so there I was, in an instant of carelessness, I found myself riding a nearly 18-hand ex-racehorse on the BUTT, I immediately knew the ground was coming hard, and fast.  Make that very hard, and very fast.  I pushed myself off from his butt as he galloped away, prayed a quick prayer that he wouldn't double-barrel me in midair as I was falling behind him, and then landed flat on my back.  It knocked the wind out of me, which almost always happens with me, so as I rolled up to my knees I could only make that wretched groaning sound like slowly deflating balloon until that precious first gasp of air could be inhaled and life, as I knew it, could again continue.  But oh, my back.  I simply could. not. move. 

Magdalene and Ashlee came running to my rescue and I asked them to try to grab Big Bird, just in case he decided to run over top of me amidst his frenzied free-for-all, but he ended up running into the cow pasture and the girls locked the gate on him and resumed trying to catch him.  I was still sitting there, unable to move anything without severe, sharp pain in my back, but I thought at any minute the pain would start to subside and go away like it usually does.  But, it did not.  Rhonda and Anthony were now over there by me, and I laid back on the ground for a while, still sort of hoping the pain would go away, but still, no.  They helped me get back to the barn and Ashlee and Magdalene finished with Big Bird by longing him because I was unable to do anything.  I could tell that the pain wasn't in my ribs or on my spine, but on the muscle just left of my spine.  Don't know how I hit that exact area so specifically to make it hurt there and not just a general all-over, but if I tried to move, lift my leg, breathe too deeply or anything like that, my back would just start spasming and sending very sharp jabs of pain throughout the rest of my body. 

Once the girls were done with Big Bird, Ashlee had time to ride Sammy, so James helped me out to the arena to sit in a chair and talk to her via walkie-talkie for her lesson.  And then I had to be helped inside.  Rhonda gave me a very strong dose of Advil which didn't seem to do anything, and eventually all I could do was to get in bed and lay on my side. 

JJ was very sweet to me, because I had to keep explaining to him why I couldn't pick him up and hold him.  He would try to kiss my back to make it "all better".  Then he wisely said, "Mama, need to ride Starbucks, he no fall on you."  :)  I love it when kids instinctively pick out a trustworthy equine. 

This morning was Saturday morning, and I freaking couldn't put on my jeans or my shoes because of the bending-over process.  Magdalene had a show at Sumpter County Equestrian Center so we were up pretty early.  As I tried to sweep out the barn aisle before leaving, I was pretty certain that by the time I had finished, it was Christmas, 2011.  I don't think I've been this much of an invalid, ever!

More advil, lots of it, a heated seat on the way to the show, and a venti Starbucks peppermint white mocha helped the situation somewhat.  Magdalene rode all three Training Level tests at this show, did well, stayed consistent with her scoring as with past tests, and improved her score each test by several percentage points.  Ashlee brought Sammy to school on the grounds and did a great job.  Very proud of both of them and how hard they work in their respective areas of challenge.   

When we got home I simply crashed on the couch for an hour or so.  I sort of heard people in my house doing some stuff but I was out of it.  We got some tree work done this afternoon and I helped Magdalene in the barn doing whatever I possibly could. 

Tonight I spent my whole evening playing with JJ, we had a good time.  He built this Tinkertoy creation all by himself.  I was so impressed!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

And the winner is...

Can I just say, there are so many of my days in life where I feel my head is going to explode and I want to bury my face into a pillow and just screeeeeeeeeeam in a feeble effort to relieve some pressure.

Days like today, however, make it all worth it. 

If you've ever wanted to know what it's like to stand in my shoes for a while, here's a good opportunity; I might fill you in on what you're missing.  And if you never cared or wanted to know, well, you're just gonna have to put up with it for a little while. 

The Lakeland Dressage Association had a show today, at Black Dog Farms in Plant City.  Drama and Magdalene, Eryn and Rasputin were signed up and ready to go.  They have both had some really good rides this week, so I was highly anticipating great things.  It helps also to add to the anticipation when we get to the farm, and get the horses out and ready to go, and they are in a calm/quiet state of mind.  Powerful, yet peaceful.  It's a good way to begin a day. 

Then in warm-up, watching how effortlessly they soften their bodies and yield themselves to their riders, who patiently take the time to warm them up and stretch out any stiffness, causing them to relax, to breathe, and then to yield even more deeply.  I also watch some of the others in the warm-up arena, you know, to check out the competition.  Some days it creates in me a feeling of anxiety; on others, it heightens the sense of anticipation.  And today was the latter.  My horses and my riders were so well turned out, so mentally sharp, so quiet and yet so full of presence.  Oh, yes.  Today was gonna be a good day. 

Magdalene and Drama were scheduled to enter the arena first.  As I called out the elements of the test to them, I had to force myself to quit watching them knowing I would forget to make the next call, so lost was I in the pure poetry of motion that was before my eyes.  It also creates such a sense of exhilaration for me, knowing what it has taken in order to get here, when it comes down to these five minutes in the arena, being judged by a person who doesn't know or doesn't care where you have come from or what you have done.  Just a mark on a piece of paper, followed by mark, after mark... based on what she sees before her eyes, put up against the standard of perfection in her head. 

Immediately following was Rasputin and Eryn, who also were breathtaking.  Raz's elegant body moves across the arena with resounding and cadenced, "thud, thud, thud" from his hooves pounding the turf, his massive body glides as if his age is of no consequence.  And Eryn, gentle and patient, brings out the unassuming dignity in him so well.  A smile on her face throughout the ride, in my opinion, is the best part of her ride. 

They each had two rides, we did test one and test three for this level.  And when the scores are announced, Magdalene had won two third places and Eryn a first and a second, which also brought her to Grand Champion.  They had such high scores, and it made me so proud, so happy of each of them and what they are all about. 

Here are some pictures so that you can enjoy my day as well.  Relish the beauty. 

Thursday, February 3, 2011

February: Bring out the tank top and shorts!

It has been magnificently "warm" for these first few, glorious days of my favorite month of the year.  For this year brings about the anniversary of when James and I started dating, Valentines' Day, and my (cough) 27th birthday... all within 6 days of each other!  MAN I am getting so old.  No wonder why running two miles for the first time in many months seems so brutal.  I kept thinking, seriously, it's only two miles, but re-start it is for me.  Again. 

I haven't had a whole lot going on in my life besides the normal hum-drum of work and more work this week.  JJ woke up far too early this morning, I think around 7am, asking to go pee.  I took him to the bathroom and then told him he was going back to bed, just hoping he would go back to sleep for another few hours.  But while I was in the bathroom with him, I heard Tipper, outside, incessantly barking. 

Know one thing about my dog: she's a Border Collie, and as such, the smartest breed of dog in the world.  Trust me on this when I say, undeniably, it is true.  But one thing often accompanies being smart: deception.  And Tipper is well-versed in it. 

She barks at the mailman, the UPS truck, the garbage truck, the recycling truck, my neighbors going to and fro... yes, she's a dog, and yes, dogs bark, but she ONLY barks when I'm inside or far enough away from her not to be able to do anything.  Otherwise, all I have to do is give her a "look" and she averts her eyes and slinks away, barking ceased.  Yes, this is my dog, and back to my story about this morning, barking incessantly.  I put JJ back in my bed after his potty and went outside the front door to yell at her to stop.  I had to squint my eyes to see her, but she was over by our chicken pen.  Then I had to squint again, was she INSIDE the chicken pen?  Oh good Lord, yes she was.  I threw on James' rubber boots and marched out there, because all of a sudden it made sense.  She had been sneaking into our chicken pen on many past occasions to eat the eggs!  That's why one day we would get twenty eggs, and the next day, five.  Oh, I was so mad.  I let her out of the coop and marched her fluffy butt back to the laundry room and locked her in it.  She knew it was safe for her to go egg-hunting when she did, because I am never up at that time in the morning... it was her barking at the neighbors at the same time that got her in trouble!!

JJ had been watching me out the window the whole time so he was now wide-awake, and quite unwilling to lie back down in an effort to fall asleep again.  So he wanted pretzels, the cats were meowing to be let in, their food bowls were empty, then JJ wanted juice, then when I finally tried to close my eyes and pretend it all didn't exist, JJ started kicking me in the head and announced, "Mama!  The SUN is UP!  Need to go out and feed those horses!" 

Oh, sleep, where art thou? 

Eryn brought me a frappuchino when she came for lessons, around noon, I was outside by the water pump hosing the, literal, crap out of JJ's underwear, the remainders of his multiple accidents over the past few days.  She handed it to me with a smirk and said, "This is to help make up for that!" pointing to the significant pile of soiled underwear. 

Yes, crap happens.  We have all kinds around here; chicken, dog, cat, horse, cow and JJ varieties!  I should open a fertilizer company. 

Crap happens. 

So anyhow, after the frappuchino, my day started to get a lot better.  In fact, while I was hanging out the laundry, I'm pretty sure I could hear the angels in heaven burst out into song, "Glory, glory, hallelujah!"

This is how THIS woman does her laundry!

I have to watch out for this coffee-thief. 

I had a great dressage lesson with Magdalene and Eryn, working on the first few maneuvers of training level test 3 (which they will be doing for district 4-H); enter working trot, halt, procede working trot, and track left.  They worked on their entry line and halt being straight and square, the horse to transfer energy from the working trot, down into the halt, and then back up into the working trot with a nice flow and softneess, and for the turn from centerline to rail being "filled" and not to lack impulsion.  Both Raz and Drama did well. 

Then I had a great ride on Big Bird, he was very, very nice today.  He settled into his warm-up walk nicely and strided out with a good deal of relaxation and focus.  Then we went into the trot and with some help, he began to bend his body around my inside leg, which brought his head down and his back up somewhat, you could really feel his back start to soften and it was nice.  He liked it, too, you could tell, he was almost like, wow, this feels good!  Then Magdalene rode him, he was great with her too. 

Magdalene and Big Bird
We finished up chores, I came inside and made dinner, James and JJ wrestled and tortured each other for the rest of the evening until they went to bed, and I went on my run.  I then locked Tipper up in the laundry room for the night, no more egg-thievery around here. 

The main reason I do so much laundry!
It's been a day, a full day.  I don't even know why I say that anymore, because every day is a full day.  It was asked earlier in the week if I had any hobby I always wanted to pick up, something I've always wanted to do but haven't had time to pursue it, what would it be?  My reply: sleeping.  I've always been interested in sleeping but never seem to get around to do it.