Monthly Archives: July 2012

Swimming Lessons Round Two: Annabelle is a Fish

If you look at the picture below and take in the body language of my two little swimmers, you don’t even need to read the following story.  Unless you want to.

This is a picture that tells a thousand tales.

For the second round of lessons, Summer of 2012, Annabelle was going to advance to the “Big Kid’s Class” (in her words).  Both kids had loved their Pre-School class in July, and Annabelle was clearly ready to move up to the next level.

Batman had passed the Pre-School session too, but he didn’t meet the height requirement to go up to the next class, so he was enrolled in Pre-school once again.

He was not at all happy about this.

SL Day One

The kids sat with anticipation waiting for their names to be called to meet their respective teachers.  Annabelle was thrilled when she got Grant as her instructor.  The Level One class was held right next door to the Pre-School class, so she had gotten to see Grant in action during the last session, and she knew he was super fun.

She jumped up happily and followed her class to the side of the pool to get started with the first day of instruction.

SL Grant (2)

My little Batman is a creature of habit, and he was not happy to hear that he had a different instructor this time around.  He had loved Miss Hannah from the last class, and he looked dubiously at his new teacher, Tenaly.

SL Tenaly

When the kids got in the pool Batman relaxed a little, but it was apparent that this class was much different from the July session.  There were all different kids in the Pre-School session this time, and the overall age was much younger.  The kids in this group didn’t listen as well, and Tenaly was constantly being pulled off to one side to snatch someone climbing out when they shouldn’t be, or running along the side of the pool, or splashing the other kids.

Still, when Tenaly was able to give the kids one-on-one attention, Batman had fun.  He remembered everything he had learned from the last session, and performed each maneuver as requested.

SL Z Tummy Float

Tenaly reviewed most of what Batman already knew, but I don’t think he learned anything new this session.

He did get plenty of time to practice his dunking.

SW Z Dunking Practice

Batman spent a lot of time alone during this round of lessons.

I felt kind of bad for him.


His sister, on the other hand, was in her element.  Grant was the perfect combination of coach and cheerleader, and she absolutely loved the challenges he threw at her.  She was the youngest in her Level One class, and she worked hard to keep up with the other kids.

She did lots of things on her own that she had needed help with in her previous session.  For example, she went down the slide with no one to catch her.

SL Down the Slide A

After Grant helped her get the hang of it, she did both tummy floats and back floats with no assistance.

SL A Back Float

She practiced swimming in the deep end with her life jacket, and found she could get around quite easily.

She was learning so much in this new class.

SL A Swim LJ

Meanwhile Batman languished in the Pre-school class, waiting patiently for his teacher to have time to help him.

SL Z searches ring

Don’t get me wrong, Batman did have fun in swimming lessons.  He looked forward to going every day.  But he definitely wasn’t learning as much as his sister.

This became even more evident when the much-anticipated “Diving Board Day” arrived.  On Diving Board Day the Pre-School and Level One classes were combined, and the instructors teamed up, with one helping the kids get to the end of the high dive and the other catching them in the water when they either jumped or were dropped down from the end of the board.

Annabelle ran to the diving board and got right in line.  Batman walked slowly with me to the side of the pool near the diving board and sat down on the ground beside me.  I told him he’d better get in line so he didn’t miss out on jumping.  He told me he wasn’t jumping this time.

I reminded him that last time he had waited until the last minute and missed out on additional jumps. “Don’t you remember how sad you were when you didn’t get to jump again?” I asked.  He didn’t care, he told me.  He wasn’t jumping.

He apparently got tired of me nudging him toward the board, so he got up and moved to the side of the pool and sat.

Tenaly and another instructor came over and tried to talk him into trying just one jump.  Batman flatly refused.  He is a stubborn little thing.

SW Z Watches Diving

In the meantime, his sister was having the time of her life.  She walked confidently down the diving board and jumped into the water.  After a couple of jumps she said she’d like to jump alone with a noodle.

She made sure that the instructors knew she did not want to be caught.


Annabelle jumped into the water three or four times with her noodle, swimming back to the side by herself each time.   The instructor never caught her once.

Batman sat by the side of the pool through the entire lesson.  Finally, just as the class was over he stood up and said “I think I’ll go jump.”  He walked slowly to the back of the line.

SL Z Finally LInes Up

Just as he got to the line Grant helped the next little girl up to the board and said “This will be out last jumper today.”  Batman looked over at me uncertainly.  I knew how much it had taken for him to get his courage up to jump, so I asked Tenaly if they could do just one more trip so Zach would get a turn.   “Of course!” she said.  She is a good girl.

Grant helped Batman up to the board and walked him to the end, where he dropped him into Tenaly’s waiting arms.  Everyone watching cheered.  Batman was so proud.  All the way home he talked about his jump.  Annabelle was excited too.  She couldn’t wait to tell her dad that she had jumped off all by herself.

The next day was play-day, and the last day of class.  Annabelle’s class all voted to go to the diving board.  She grabbed her noodle and jumped again and again, running the length of the board and flying into the water.

I got a couple of cool pictures.

SL A Big Jump

I thought she was totally amazing.  Really.

SL A Flys

Batman stayed with his class, floating around by himself on a little boogie board.

SL Z Floats Playday

When class was over that day, the teachers handed out certificates.  Annabelle had passed Level One, receiving her certified Red Cross card to prove it.

Batman’s teacher took me aside and said that she thought Batman would be ready to move up to Level One next year.

I just hope I can get him to go back.

Categories: Kids Are Funny Creatures | Leave a comment

Nothin’ But Net

Desperate Hubby’s confinement after foot surgery this spring has been relatively painless for our family.  We all adapted pretty quickly to his short-term inability to participate in most family activities.  When you know something is temporary it makes it much easier to adapt to a situation.

The person who suffered the most (beside DH, of course) with the “absence” of Desperate Daddy in his life was little Batman.

Batman has, from an early age in life, loved to play ball.  I distinctly remember him standing in his diaper at age one shooting a little basketball into a cardboard box  in the kitchen.

Because I am totally inept at playing sports (though I do try) and usually cannot even catch a ball thrown by Batman (because he throws too hard for me….  really) the role of sports-companion has mainly fallen on Desperate Daddy. (I hope it isn’t too confusing if I refer to him as both DH and DD.  Same person, different role).

About a month into DD’s confinement into his recliner, Batman was feeling a little lonely.  Annabelle and I had included him in our horse activities as much as we could to try to distract him, but I think he participated in those mainly to humor us.  It wasn’t really his idea of fun, at first anyway.

Fortunately we had just the solution for his sadness right next door.

Grandpa Vernon.

Starting the Show

Grandpa Vernon is our friend/next-door neighbor/adopted grandpa and also the world’s nicest landlord.  We adopted him and his beautiful wife Kay into our family even before we moved in a couple of years ago, and we have been grateful to have them in our lives every single day since.

Grandpa Vernon was a basketball star of some accomplishment just a few years ago back in high school, and he has passed his love of the game down to his lucky grandsons.  Over the past two years Batman has watched in fascination as Grandpa Vernon coached Caleb and Gabriel in basketball.  Grandpa Vernon has helped Batman too, from time to time, and Batman just thrives on the attention.

I think that Grandpa Vernon, being the wise and benevolent person that he is, sensed that Batman was a little down. He came over one night in early July, took out Batman’s little plastic basketball  hoop and set it up on the back porch, adjusted to the just the right height for Batman.

Then he gave my little boy some shooting lessons.

This is How

Grandpa Vernon told me to stop taking pictures because he didn’t want to end up on “that damned blog.”  I gave him a big glass of wine and that sort of calmed him down.  I am constantly plying Grandpa Vernon with alcohol to try to get him to hang out with us, but he is a busy man.

He made time for Batman though.

There Ya Go

Just seeing that big smile on my baby’s face brings tears to my eyes.

And I think Grandpa Vernon had fun, too.

Thats Form

The boys played quite a game of ball that night.  Grandpa Vernon taught Batman how to play H-O-R-S-E. Batman narrowly won the first game of the tournament, but creamed Grandpa the second game.  Curious.


Just a few days later we received a much coveted invitation to Kay and Vernon’s for a 4th of July dinner.  We were thrilled.  Grandpa Vernon’s skill as a basketball player is second only to his wonderful ability as a chef.  And the hospitality at Kay and Vernon’s is that of legend.

As good as the food was, though, what the kids really wanted to do was play.

Fortunately, there were a couple of other kids there to play with.

First was Jerry.  The biggest and most playful kid at the party.  Batman took an immediate shine to Jerry.

Baman Loves Jerry

Also in attendance was Dr. Danny and his girlfriend Dee.  Both kids love Dr. Danny, of course, and he was recruited to play too.  He was more than happy to comply.

Danny Winds Up

With the other kids there to play, Grandpa Vernon actually got a little break to sit and visit.

Grandpa Vernon

The kids played and played throughout the course of the night.  They took turns out in the yard playing football.  Jerry can move pretty well for a big kid.

Better Run

And he wasn’t a bad passer either.

Batman Out for Pass

He could even catch!

Jerry Catches

Dr. Danny seemed to get tackled a lot.  Especially by Annabelle.

Ball from Danny

Eventually, the big kids got thirsty, so everyone retired back up to the porch.  Then the real fun began.

Look at Jerru

Jerry regaled everyone with his very impressive ball-spinning capabilities.  He says he acquired them from so much time sitting on the bench, but I’m not so sure.

Batman was completely and utterly enthralled by this skill.  Jerry gave him some lessons.

Zach Learns

Batman felt bad that Desperate Daddy was kind of left out, sitting over in the lounge chair, so he tried to include him in the action.  Spinning was harder than it looked though.

Daddy Reaches

Even the girls got involved.  The funnest girl kid there was Shirley.  Shirley tried to teach Annabelle how to balance the ball on her nose.

Girls Game

Jerry spun and spun the ball. We all watched with fascination.

Jerry Spinner

The brightness of the fireworks we watched later that night paled in comparison to the fun the kids had with their friends at the party.  They talked about it for days afterward.

Until Grandpa Vernon gave them something new to talk about.

He showed up a few days later with a new basketball hoop.  It was the hoop that Caleb and Gabriel had used at his house until this year.

The kids were ecstatic!

Hoop Setting Up

The first step was to add sand to the base so it would stay upright in the wind and hold up to Batman’s vigorous shooting style.

Ready for Sand

I am certain that it took at least twice as long to let the kiddos help set up as it would have been to just do it himself. And as I said earlier, Grandpa Vernon is a busy man.

But he let the kids help every step of the way.

Adding the sand

Grandpa adjusted the net to just the right height and angle.

Getting Ready

Batman was ready to go.

Batman has practiced with the basketball hoop nearly every day.  Sometimes he shoots five baskets.  Sometimes it seems like 500.

It is awesome.

He’d never have made it to his first swish without Grandpa Vernon’s help.

Ya Got It

As a parent it is humbling and awe-inspiring to have people who will spend their time, talents or resources to help your children learn a new skill,  achieve their goals,  or even just help ease a lonely day, week or month.  We are fortunate to have many of these angels in our lives, and we appreciate each and every one of you.

We’ll play with you anytime.

Categories: Kids Are Funny Creatures, Life in the Country | Leave a comment

Bumpy Grumpy

Last week the kids and I were rushing to feed the horses after swimming lessons so we could go run a couple of errands before bedtime.  I drove out to the pens and left the kids playing in the car while I dashed over to throw some hay to the hungry critters.

As I approached Grumpy’s pen I noticed a very definite problem.

Grumpy Was Bumpy.

Very Bumpy.

BG Side

Annabelle’s wonderful old horse was broken out in hives from head to toe. 

And his head was swollen all over in an alarming manner.  He could hardly open his eyes.

BG Head

He still seemed very hungry though, so I gave him some hay before I ran back to the car to call Dr. Danny.  Grumpy proceeded to eat as though there was nothing in the world wrong with him.  He’s a champion.

Dr. Danny answered my call promptly, and with the promise of a steak dinner and a cocktail, he said he’d be right over.  He’s also a champion.

We reconfigured our plans for the evening, which made Annabelle happy.  She loves Dr. Danny better than most people.  Probably including me.

Dr. Danny arrived an hour or so later.  He said this time of year was rife with hives and swollen-ness, and that oftentimes it was impossible to figure out what caused the problem.  He gave Grumpy a shot of steroids, and we all headed into the house to eat dinner. 

Danny’s new girlfriend Dee joined us for the evening, which made the kids even more excited.  They love her too.

After dinner we went back out to check on Grumpy.  He had made a remarkable improvement already.

BG Improved

His bumps had gone down, but not disappeared entirely.

BG Better

The next morning Grumpy looked completely normal.  Not a bump or swelling in sight. 

Today is the last day of his medicine.  We’ve put him on a total grass hay diet, which he’s not too thrilled about, but he has stayed bump-free.

Keep your finger’s crossed for him!

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Batman and the Bike

Batman came home from his summer pre-school program one day last week and announced that he would like to have the training wheels taken off of his bike.

Actually, it was more along the lines of he demanded to have the training wheels taken off of his bike.

I will never be sure what brought about the request to remove said wheels, but Batman was adamant.  He would not listen to my attempts to educate him on the fact that he was too small to ride without training wheels.  He was not interested in the fact that I don’t really know a wrench from a hammer.

I put him off for an hour or two, but he was not to be appeased.  “Bring your bike in,” I finally said, “and I’ll see if I can figure out how to do it.”  Batman brought his bike into the kitchen.  It was a pathetic little red metal number that had been cute when I bought it at a garage sale two years ago for $15, but now it just looked sad.  A long-banished puppy had chewed the black plastic seat cover off of the bike, and tattered remains of the un-eaten padding stuck out around the edges in tufts of dirty white fluff.  The bike had a mostly flat front tire and multitudes of scratches and dings on its body.  Despite the bike’s drawbacks, Batman still rode it all around the place, patiently straining his little legs to move the flat tire through gravel, dirt or mud.

I took a look at the bike, and though I’m not mechanically inclined, I immediately saw a major problem.  In addition to the cosmetic flaws that littered the small frame, the bike really was a trike.  Although it  had front and back wheels with “training wheels” on each side of the back tire, the peddles were attached to the front wheel.  The bike was not made to be ridden without the training wheels on it.

It was a trike.

I tried to explain this to Batman, knowing in my heart where the conversation would lead.  Big crocodile tears rolled down my little boys face.  He wailed.  He literally collapsed on the ground in despair.  He was certain I did not know what I was talking about.  He told me that if I wouldn’t take the training wheels off, then he’d get daddy to do it.

When Desperate Hubby got home from work, he was tired.  And hot.  And Batman immediately started in on him.

If you have never seen Batman in action, let me just assure you there is nothing to rival it.  Once he makes his mind up about something, he is like a pit-bull with a bone.  He is focused and completely un-distractible.  There is no changing his mind.

“Daddy, will you take my training wheels off?”  “In a minute buddy.”  “Can you do it now?”  “Let me get a drink first and sit down for a minute.”  “How about if I bring the bike in?”  DH sighed and said he’d take a look.  A quick examination by Desperate Hubby/Daddy confirmed what I already knew; Batman’s bike could not be ridden without the back wheels on.

My son was inconsolable.  He carried on so much that DH sat down with him at the computer to look at bikes in his size that might be available at the local Wal-Mart.  He told Batman that he would take him to look at bikes the next day.

The last thing Batman said before he went to sleep was not “Goodnight Mom, I love you,” like usual.  Instead it was “Remember Mom, Daddy’s going to take me to get a bike tomorrow.”  The first thing Batman said in the morning was not “Good Morning.”  It was “Mom!  When is daddy going to take me to get my bike?”

When I picked the kids up from summer program the next afternoon, the first words out of Batman’s mouth were…..”Mom!  Dad is taking me to get my bike tonight!  He promised!”

You get my drift.  He is extremely focused.

That night I had a PTSO meeting  for Annabelle’s new charter school.  DH had forgotten about the meeting, and arrived home with an aching foot and a surly temper.  He had not stepped one foot out of the truck when Batman attacked him.  “Dad!  Dad!  Let’s go get my bike!”

DH is a wonderful man, a loving husband, and a generally tolerant father, but on this particular day he just wasn’t in the mood.  I reminded him that I needed to leave shortly, and told him I’d take the truck so he could more easily drive the kids in the SUV to Wal-Mart.  This alarmed Batman.  As DH limped toward the garage door to change his clothes Batman threw himself in front of his daddy and said “But DAD!  We can’t take the Durango!  Will my bike even fit in the Durango?!!!”

DH snapped.  He pointed out something along the lines that Batman didn’t even HAVE a bike yet, and if he kept hounding him he might not ever get one.  It wasn’t pretty.  Batman’s small face collapsed in despair.

I did the only prudent thing I could think of.  I told DH we’d be back shortly, and put the kids in the car.  DH protested, saying I’d be late for my meeting.  His protests were half-hearted at best.  I knew he didn’t really want to get the bike that night, let alone that moment.  I also knew that if Batman didn’t get the bike he would probably require professional counseling to make it through the evening.  I had the kids’ preservation in mind, and I was pretty sure I had just enough time to pull it off, so I headed out.

The bicycle section at Wal-Mart looked pretty scanty.  Annabelle immediately found a pink and purple girl’s bike with a little bag on the front.  She climbed on the bike and started riding it around the bike section and in front of the people trying to go by with their carts.  Although we were not shopping for a bike for Annabelle, it didn’t seem fair to get one for Batman and not her, so I caved and told her she could get a bike too.  Incidentally, that has been pretty much her only ride on the bike so far.

Batman found two bikes he loved.  One featured a Spiderman motif, and he was very disappointed when I said that bike was too small.  The other bike he liked was actually a little big for him, but he seemed to ride it just fine.  I told him he could have the bigger bike, but the training wheels had to stay on.  His feet were too far off the ground for him to learn to balance.  He was so eager to take a bike home that night that he concurred.  We added some knee and elbow pads to the purchase and headed back.  The whole process took less than half an hour.

Batman rode the bike outside that night for most of the two hours I was at my meeting.  The next morning he was outside at eight o’clock riding again.  In his pajamas.

BB By Bushes

The next evening, we arrived home from swimming lessons to find that Desperate Hubby had come home early and removed the training wheels from both bikes.  He can be kind of crabby, but he does love his kids.  Surprising them with the newly reconfigured bikes was his way of apologizing for being short-tempered.

Annabelle and I were getting ready to go to the rodeo, and since I had forgotten to tell DH that Batman wasn’t allowed to ride the bike without trainers there was nothing to be done for it.  Batman was beside himself with excitement and immediately headed outside to give the bike a try.  DH went to monitor him

You can probably predict what happened next.  Batman ran into the kitchen about fifteen minutes later, just as I was getting ready to walk out the door. Tears streamed down his chubby red face.  He was dusty

“Mom!  I can’t do it!  I really thought I could do it!  I really, really thought I could ride without training wheels.  Now I can’t ride AT ALL!!!”  he sobbed, his head hanging.  He was completely unwound.  DH had followed him back in the house and stood there looking hot, thirsty and a little tired.

I knew what was coming next.  “Mom.  Do you think daddy could put the training wheels back on my bike?”  He was obviously afraid to ask the question of DH directly.  I didn’t blame him.  “Well, buddy, maybe he can do it tomorrow.  He looks kind of tired right now.”

I saw DH give a visible sigh.  Then he pasted on a pretty fake-looking smile.

And he said “You want the wheels back on buddy?  No problem.  Let’s go out and you can help me put them back on.”

I do love my husband.

BB with Glasses

And Batman loves his bike.

BB Smiles

He has ridden for hours every day since we bought it. It is probably truly the best $49 I ever spent.

Even better than the pool.

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Oh What a Weekend!

It was one of those rare, relatively unscheduled weekends around the Desperate Household.  We had a couple of fun things planned, but weren’t so scheduled that we couldn’t enjoy some down time too.  We have been so busy lately that a relaxing interlude sounded perfect.

This is how it all shook out.


Annabelle and I started out the weekend by going to the Friday night performance of the Snake River Stampede.  The first person we saw when were entered the Idaho Center was our favorite friend Kathy the Coffee Lady.  It was like our own Snake River Stampede welcome party.  She is so wonderful. 

Then we made our way our seats.  Our tickets were right by the bucking chutes, which gave us a great view of the cowboys putting their rigging on the bareback and saddle bronc horses, which Annabelle found just fascinating.  A big thanks to Grandpa Vernon for the awesome tickets.

SRS Mom and Annabelle

Annabelle was naturally quite enthralled by the Mutton Busting, where kids between the ages of about 5 and 8 ride bucking sheep.  She said that since she can ride Reno with no saddle or bridle she was pretty sure she could ride a sheep too.  I agreed.

SRS Mutton Busting

Another big highlight was the Snake River Stampeders riding drill team.  When the lights went out and the lighted riders entered the arena Annabelle just said “Wow!”

SRS Stampeders

My pictures didn’t turn out very well, but you can get the general idea.

Annabelle was completely engrossed in the rodeo as she sat patiently waiting for the event she was most excited about – the barrel racing.  That girl does love speed.  After the barrel racing we watched a couple of bull riders and then headed out to beat the crowd from the parking lot.

We had to get home and get to bed so we could wake up early the next morning and go ride our own horses.


We tried to get an early start, since it was going to be a hot day, but somehow wrangling three horses, two kids and one wild puppy always seems to take longer than I think it will.  By the time we caught a recalcitrant black pony, got the dog kennel in the pickup, and persuaded the dog to get in the kennel instead of the kids’ booster seats, the temperature was already pushing 80 degrees.  We drove to the Eagle Foothills, and proceeded to get ready to ride.

Annabelle was in charge of the grooming chores.

TR Brushing Grumpy

Batman and Winston hung out together and watched sissie and I do the work.

TR Batman an Winston

Finally we got mounted up and headed out.  I was pretty tired and a little crabby by the time I even got a-horseback, what with the pony-chasing, dog-wrestling, kid-herding and heat exhaustion I had already faced that morning, but I was determined to make a go of it. 

Batman looked pretty cool in his Spider Man sunglasses and hat.  That cheered me up a bit.

TR Spidey Rides

Annabelle of course loped up ahead and waited for us to catch up.  Over and over again.


After a few minutes on the trail I started to relax, and the hectic morning fell away from me. This attitude improvement was greatly aided by the spontaneous bursting-into-song of my little Batman.  We were riding quietly along, and suddenly out of the blue my baby started belting out Barney tunes, followed by a rousing rendition of “Wheels on the Bus.”  It was the cutest thing I ever heard.  He just rode along, smiling and singing.  It almost made me cry, it was so precious. 

After about 45 minutes we made it to the top of the first hill.  This is the place where Batman normally demands to turn around and go back to the truck.  For some reason, though, this day he wanted to keep going. 

His sister even convinced him to try to ride with no hands.  He was game for that.

TR Look Ma No Hands

He even tried it going down the trail.  This was a major accomplishment!

Especially since he doesn’t use stirrups.

TR No Hands Down Trail

We stopped after another half hour to give Winston some water and take some pictures. 

This is my posse.  Am I lucky or what?

TR Whole Gang

We eventually made our way back to the bottom of the hill, with one hot dog and two tired kids.  We had ridden for over two hours, which is a long, long time for Batman, especially in the 80 degree plus heat.  I was so proud of him!

We made our way home, and rinsed the horses off with the hose before we turned them loose.  Of course, the first thing they did was roll in the dirt, covering themselves with a fine layer of dust that clung to their wet coats.

After five hours wrangling, driving and riding their ponies, the kids now wanted to play horses, naturally, so they turned on the slip n’slide and hosed themselves off too.

Then they rolled in the dirt just like Spice and Grumpy. 


TR Rolling After Bath

We spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing and doing a few chores around the house.  Desperate Hubby had his first real band gig on Saturday night, so he left around 6:30 to go set up.  The kids and I were asleep early.  The ride had worn us out.


We got around slowly on Sunday morning, cleaning up the house and listening to tales of Desperate Hubby’s return to Rock Stardom.  He was very happy after his first band performance in almost five years, and it made my heart smile to hear him so excited.

The kids and I headed out to do some shopping for a dinner date we had with our dear friend Tami.  Annabelle doesn’t totally understand the idea that I have known Tami since I was just a little older than she is now, but that is how long we have been friends.

She still looks exactly the same as she did in high school!

Tami Smiles

Batman wasted no time in convincing Tami that she should play basketball with him.  Despite the fact that it was blistering hot outside she happily agreed.

Batman immediately started showing off with his one-handed throw.  He actually made quite a few of these, which was amazing. 

Batman Shoots

He learned the shot from his father, Batman, Sr.

DH Shoots

Batman pulls out all the stops when he’s trying to impress a pretty girl.  You gotta love his form.  And his basketball uniform.

Batman Form

Desperate Hubby cooked us an awesome dinner of Black Pepper Seared Ahi, Garlic and Bacon Potatoes, green beans and perfectly cooked steaks. 

Then Tami and the kids did the dishes.  By hand.

My kids didn’t even know you could do dishes without putting them in the dishwasher.  But they thought the whole thing was super fun.

Tami and Kids Dishes

Tami had brought homemade peach/berry cobbler and ice cream. It was fantastic! After eating about a pound of that, the kids were all sugared up and ready to play. 

DH and I sat comatose in our recliners and listened to our dear friend count to ten over and over again, then say “Ready or not, here I come!” and race around looking for the hidden children in closets and under beds, until the kids were finally tired enough for me to brush their teeth and herd them toward night-night.

She is a gem.  Thanks for coming over Tami. We love you and you can move in anytime.

Oh what a great weekend it was!

Categories: Horse Adventures, Kids Are Funny Creatures, Life in the Country | Leave a comment

Desperate Hubby Walks Again!

Yesterday was Desperate Hubby’s milestone check-up for the foot surgery he had done April 26 of this year.  For the past twelve weeks he has been confined to the use of crutches. While he has been a really good sport about the crutches for the most part, we were both ready for this episode in our lives to be over.

I watched him walk on his crutches into the doctor’s office for what I hoped would be his last visit, and reflected on the fact that if the x-rays showed that he wasn’t in fact ready to walk again I would run as fast as I could to the car and drive away.  That would not make DH happy and I wanted to avoid the immediate aftermath.

Last Crutch Walk

Once we got inside the wait was interminable.  The doctor was way behind, and the x-ray technician had people waiting in every chair outside her door.  We waited nearly two hours before we got anything done.

Still, we were happy to be there.  DH didn’t even get impatient.  Well, not TOO impatient.

Waiting for XRay

Finally the x-rays were completed and Dr. Hirosi came in to give the results.  First he did a physical exam of the foot.  He felt and pushed and prodded, saying “Does this hurt?  Does this?”

Desperate Hubby answered no to each question.

Dr Hirosi

Then the big moment arrived.  Time for the x-ray results.

Good XRay

Dr. Hirosi pulled them up and said…..drum roll please…..”Your x-rays are DYNAMITE!”  The joint fusion had fully calcified, and the bone density appeared stronger than even the bones in the rest of the foot.  Hurray!

DH is back on his feet in a regular shoe.  The doctor gave him the option of physical therapy, but said that he could also just……start walking.  Of course DH chose the latter.  Wouldn’t you?

DH immediately went home and put on his right tennis shoe, loaded up his guitar and headed off to band practice.  When he got home he said his foot had given him no pain whatsoever.  He can’t wait to get on the treadmill.

It is good now and again to have a reset in your life that reminds you not to take the little things (like walking and having your husband to the dishes) for granted.  We’ve had our reset for the year, and are certainly thankful we are on the other side of it!

I’ll keep you posted on DH’s progress.

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GSSHA Show #3

After our busy several days of reining shows last week, this Saturday’s Gem State Stock Horse show crept up on us pretty fast.  We had barely gotten show shirts washed and jeans starched and it was time to go show again!

We didn’t mind though.  All the great help we have around on show day makes a very fun and social event out of every competition. 

For this particular event, Annabelle had an exciting addition to her gear.  The super-sweet Jacki Massimino had offered to let her borrow a new little saddle for the show.  My baby girl has grown so much this year that she will soon need a larger size saddle, so we were happy for the chance for her to actually ride in a bigger seat so we could make a more educated purchase.

Jacki bought this little 13” beauty for her grandkids, and it was so generous of her to offer it to Annabelle for this show.  We met Jacki out at the Lucky Run Arena on Friday so that Annabelle could practice riding in the new gear.

Jacki and Saddle

Of course, Batman had to sit in the saddle first.  Don’t you love his cowboy outfit?

Batman and Saddle

Once we got into the arena, Annabelle got to riding. 

Batman had brought an old camera of mine that he had found in my desk drawer and which, to both of our surprise, still worked.  He busied himself taking pictures of everything.

Batman Pics Arena

Annabelle got to ride around with Jacki and she thought that was very fun.  The little saddle fit her perfectly.

Girls Ride Around

After Annabelle was finished riding, Batman got it into his head that it was his turn to ride.  Alone.  That doesn’t sound like such a big deal, but Batman has never held the reins before.  He usually just sits there while I lead him around and around or up and down hills or whatever.

Not today though.  He wanted to ride.  Alone.  With Jacki.

So he did.

Batman and Jacki Head out

He thought he was pretty cool stuff.  Chic just walked slowly around the pen, keeping pace with Jacki’s horse Chexi.  He is one awesome pony.

Batman and Jacki

After we were finished, Batman gave Chic a bath.

Washing Chic

We helped a little, but he did pretty much all of the spraying. Needless to say, we were all clean by the end.

Once the Chicster was all washed up, we headed into town to have lunch.  In addition to Kris, the kids and I were happy to have Nicole from Lucky Run join us.  Batman though she was very neat indeed. 

We were up bright and early Saturday morning to head to Ontario, Oregon for the show.  Despite still enjoying his last few days on crutches (not), Desperate Hubby came along for the ride. 

And he wasn’t the only fan there.  Annabelle was beside herself when she found out that Grandma Becki and Uncle Mike would be coming to watch.

Gma Becki and Mike

She was in the warm-up pen when they arrived, going through her typical pre-show loping around.

Warm Up Pen

When she spotted Grandma Becki, though, it was a whole new ball game.

She spun. And spun. And spun. Sorry Chic.


She ran down.  Hard.  Look at that smile on her face!


We finally put her hat on, and she stopped so hard that she broke the string that went under her chin to hold it on.  I knew it wouldn’t last long in the show pen and I was right.

There were two other little kids in Annabelle’s class on Saturday.  They were so cute I just had to show them to you. 

This little boy is an awesome hand.  He rode that little black pony like he stole it.  In fact, even when the pony bucked right in the middle of his pattern he just held on and kept a kickin’.

Black Pony Rundown

This girl is a few years older than Annabelle, but they hit it off right away at the last show when they bonded over the fact that they have the exact same cowgirl boots. She did an excellent job on her big paint horse.

Paint Pony

Finally it was Annabelle’s turn.  You can watch her run below.

Annabelle and Smart Chic Dot Com 7/14/12


I was happy with her run.  She had a couple of mistakes, but had improved so much in a couple of key areas.  She is very, very fortunate to be able to learn on such a great horse. 

When the show as over my little girl was happy, too.  In fact, everyone in the family had fun.  We hung around and watched our friends for a little while, then headed home to go to the cousins’ birthday party at Aunt Susie’s.

It was a perfect day.

Annabelle on Chic

A special thanks again to Jacki for letting Annabelle try the little saddle.  We are much more well-educated shoppers now.  And, though I say it often, I can never say it enough.  Thank you to Kris for sharing Chic, and to all the other helpers who make it such a fun experience to come out and show. 

And Grandma Becki?  Annabelle was so thrilled to have you there.  We hope to see you at lots more shows in the future.

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Luc McGregor Memorial Show July 7 & 8, 2012

Horsecrazy Annabelle had her first NRHA competition this past weekend. She was excited to get to show in the “big pen” at the Idaho Center Horse Park.

We bought a couple of schooling slots on the first day of the show so that she could get in the arena and get the feel of the pen.  I thought she might be a little nervous, sharing the little warm-up area with a bunch of trainers who were getting ready to school their horses, but she wasn’t.  She loped around with everyone else and stopped in the middle to practice her turn-arounds, just like they were all doing.

Then she sat at the in-gate and watched intently as she waited for her turn.  It was hot that day.

Watching Schooling

She practiced her patterns a couple of times and then we gave Chic a good bath.

The morning of the show the little rider was all smiles as she waited at the gate for her turn.  She was wearing a new outfit that Auntie Shane had gotten for her and she was so excited.  It’s hard to see in any of the pictures, but the back of the shirt has a rhinestone steer head on it. The saddle pad was a perfect match.

She looked fantastic!

New Outfit 

Batman was along for the show, and he entertained himself happily by playing in the dirt next to the warm up pen.  I had to keep an eye on him as he would occasionally try to wander into the path of a loping horse as he searched for the largest dirt clod he could find to put in his dump truck, scurrying in and out of the riding area as he played.

Zach Plays

It was hard for Annabelle to wait for her turn, but fortunately our friend Kristi from Lucky Run was there to provide some distraction and advice on running her pattern.  She walked Annabelle around and around in the warm-up pen while she waited for her turn. 

And they walk

Kristi is really a gem.  The kids ADORE her.  I haven’t had the heart to tell Zach that she is too old for him.

Kristie and the kids

Finally it was Annabelle’s turn in the pen.  She had a blast out there.

Her spins were good.


Chic ran down fast……

Rundown Day 1

and stopped so hard he almost threw her off a couple of times.  She had never sat a stop like that before.

First Day Stop

He was just awesome.

Stoppin Day One

You can watch the run here.

Annabelle and Smart Chic Dot Com, NRHA Short Stirrups July 7, 2012

Annabelle was beyond thrilled when she finished.  She was all smiles as she rode out of the arena to the cheers of the people watching.  I was astounded by how supportive everyone was of the young riders. 

After we put Chic away we stayed around to watch the kids in the next class. Annabelle stood at the in-gate and watched them ride.

Watching Sophie

Day Two started early.  The Short Stirrups Class was the first class of the day.  Kris had shown Chic the night before, so she had had a brief night before it was time to get up and come to the horse show again.  

Annabelle had several fans in the audience who had come just to watch her, and she loved having all the support.  She told me “I don’t get nervous out there until I hear all the people cheering for me.  Then I get a little nervous, so I tell myself “Just ride the horse!.”

So cute.

We got to the arena at about 6:45 am and got ready.  Auntie Kris helped get Chic all shined up.

Auntie Kris

And Annabelle climbed on board.

Climbing On

Chic was his usual awesome self. 

He ran down even harder on Sunday.

Runnin Down

And Annabelle had the stops all figured out this time.

Great Stop

Seriously, all I can say is Wow!

That's a Slide!

You can watch her second run here.

Annabelle and Smart Chic Dot Com NRHA Short Stirrups July 8, 2012

Desperate Hubby and Batman arrived in a nick of time to watch Annabelle’s run.  Batman insisted on putting on her hat and riding Chic out to the trailer when she was finished.

Batman Rides

Thanks to my long-time friend Tami, we even got a picture of Desperate Hubby and me together.  That almost never happens. 

That we get a picture I mean.  We are usually together.  DH is sooooooo happy that he is almost off of his crutches!

Thanks for all the great pictures, Tami!

Me and DH

Annabelle gave Chic a big smooch to thank him for all his awesomeness.  Those two really do love each other.

Look at that eye

Later that day we lounged in the stands, eating breakfast from the concession stand.  We had no idea they were planning on an awards ceremony, so we had to rush down the bleachers and run across the arena to get Annabelle’s first plaque.  Chic was already unsaddled and in the trailer, so we didn’t get a real award photo.

But the plaque was super cool.

Annabelle was thrilled with it.  But not so thrilled that she didn’t almost drop it on the concrete as she flipped it over and over in her hands while we walked back to our seats.  I snatched it back from her and put it in a safe place.  I know she will treasure her first award someday.


As always, it took a village to get us through the show.  A big thank you to all of the people who helped us out.  Special thanks to Kris for sharing her wonderful horse, staying late and getting up early; and to Shane, without whom Annabelle would not be nearly so well-dressed, not to mention that she’d be riding bareback.

We are so fortunate to have lots of angels helping us, and we appreciate each and every one of you.

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4th of July Parade 2012

We had so much fun doing parades last summer that we jumped at the chance to join our friends the Points at the Middleton 4th of July parade this year.

As usual, this horse activity started several days before the actual event with the purchase of various red, white and blue accessories.  I even tried my hand at making yarn pom-poms like I learned at 4-H camp all those summers ago.  They turned out pretty well.  This picture gives a sneak peek at how we decorated the horse’s, well, nether regions for the event.


Of course, the decoration preparation pales in comparison to getting the equine himself clean and presentable for the big day. The night before the parade I sent Annabelle out to get the pony for his bath.  She was all ready to get wet in the process.

Nice Outfit

Batman was not to be left out of this fun, of course.  They both happily participated in the bubble bath application.

Plenty of Soap

And took turns spraying the soap off after Reno was all scrubbed.

Any guesses about what happened right after I shot this picture?

How did this go

Once he was all cleaned up, we tied the pony in the sun to dry.

Annabelle applied about a half-gallon of Show Sheen to his mane and tail and brushed them out until they shined. To keep his tail clean we braided it and tied an old sock around the braided end.


Sock the Tail

Which brought us to the next little problem that Annabelle had been nagging me about all week.

How would we keep the rest of the pony clean overnight before the parade?

Last year we had just turned him loose in his pen and hoped for the best, but that wasn’t going to fly this year.  With her newfound horse-show experience and her observations about how Kris keeps Chic clean for horse shows, my daughter was convinced we needed a sheet to keep Reno clean.  That was all well and good but for two problems:

1)  We didn’t have a sheet for Reno.

2) I was pretty sure that no place in town carried a sheet small enough for our tiny pony.  Even if they did, I wasn’t really up for spending $75 or so for an item we would use only once or twice a year at best.

It had been earlier in the afternoon, as I waited in the check-out line at Wal-mart, that I had a sudden inspiration.  This inspiration was prompted by my perusal of the many items on the rack right next to the check-out belt.

I spotted a roll of pink duct tape.  “Hmmmm”, I thought.

I remembered a, well, sheet, that we had at home that had been purchased for Annabelle’s bed when she still slept on a twin size.  Since she had graduated to a queen mattress that sheet was just sitting in the laundry closet.

So I re-purposed it.

First I cut a pony-head sized hole in one end of the sheet and tried it on for size.  Looked like it might work!


I cut a couple of slits near the hind legs, and tied them loosely around his hocks.

Sheet the Legs

A little pink duct tape around the girth to keep it in place and we were in business.

In a Sheet

I had no idea if the sheet would stay in place overnight, or if we would go out to find a dusty, green-stained pony dragging around some small remnant of pink fabric when we prepared to leave for the parade the next morning.

To my happy surprise, my idea worked.  Well, mostly.  When we caught Reno early the next morning we did have a holey-sheet.  Sorry, I just had to say that..

A Little Worse For Wear

Clearly Reno had spent at least part of the night rubbing his behind on the fence to try to get the sheet off, but it stayed put.  And when I ripped it off the rest of the way before we loaded him in the trailer I was delighted to see that he was still clean.


Glad That's Off

We loaded up and drove to Middleton, arriving right at our planned time of 9:30.  The judging was going to be at 11:00, so we had plenty of time to get ready.

Annabelle set about getting Reno’s tail out of the bag and brushing it.

Getting Tail Out

The Points arrived a few minutes later, and just as I was finishing my first mane braid at 9:45, we were visited by a parade official.  Who told us that judging was in fifteen minutes.

Holy Batman!  How were we gonna pull that off?  There are no more preparation pictures. The next few minutes were a flurry of activity.

And this is the end result.

Ready to Go

Yep, that’d be first place.  Yep.

Not that it matters, because we just do it for the fun.  Yeah, that’s it.  The fun.  Rrrright.

Of course, our first place finish was a joint first place, with our wonderfully appointed cart-companion Mae, who pulled Batman and Kade and Kampbell along the route.

Pretty cute, huh?  Don’t you think Kari looks like my sister?

Everybody Ready

I have no idea how my friend pulled off all the decorations for the cart and pony in about twenty minutes, but she did.  That girl can move!

All Loaded Up

After the judging we sat around cooling our heels for about two hours.  It was hot.  Yes.  But the kids maintained their composure by getting off the pony and out of the cart and playing in the park next door under the watchful eye of Kari’s awesome husband Tom.

Finally it was time to go.  We were thrilled that we got to be right in the front of the horse section.  Here is Annabelle ready to lead the way.

Leading the Horses

The parade was super fun.  All the kids on the sidelines just love to see the ponies, and I always feel like we are  sort of  ambassadors for the horse-lovers of the world.

We were so glad to participate.

Reno Ribbon Waiting

Even as, about two miles into the parade route, I was jogging up a small hill with Reno trotting beside me to try to keep pace with the floats in front of us.  A man from the sidelines (which was packed, by the way) yelled out to me. He said:

“Hey Mom!  So how’s the parade working out for YOU?!”

I just smiled and tossed my head, trying to flick him with some of the sweat dripping off of my nose.  I said something to the effect that it seemed a lot like the gym.

But the truth was, I was really happy to be there.

Happy Birthday America.  We are lucky to live in the greatest country in the world.

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Swimming Lessons 2012, Round One

Annabelle and Zachary have just finished up their first round of swimming lessons for the 2012 summer season.  We are once again doing our lessons at the Caldwell Municipal Pool through the Caldwell Parks and Rec Department. The kids love swimming in the outside pool, and I have found the staff to be unfailingly cheerful, professional and well-trained in their duties.

The lessons last for two weeks, and the kids go Monday through Friday for a half-hour each day.  The first day of lessons this year was kind of on the chilly side, and the kids sat huddled on the green steps waiting to meet their instructor.

First Day

Their teacher this session was Hannah, a college student from the University of Idaho, who combined the perfect mix of fun and education for the pre-school class.   Hannah was absolutely adorable, and the kids just loved her.  It was obvious that she truly enjoyed her job.

Hannah and Kids

Every day started out the same. The kids would sit on the steps of the kiddie pool waiting for Hannah to come and tell them to get in the water.

SW Side of Pool

The first few minutes of each day would be spent playing “animals” while walking/running back and forth across the pool.  Each kid would take turns picking an animal, and all the other kids would make the noises and hand motions of that animal while crossing the pool.  This was the time for much hilarity and horseplay in the pool, but Hannah kept everybody on track and moving along.

Playing Animals

We discovered right from the beginning that Batman’s ultra-sensitive eyes didn’t handle the chlorine very well.  I have tons of pictures of him doing just this.

Z eyes

After a couple of days I broke down and bought both kids a pair of goggles at Walgreens.

Z New Goggles

Pretty cute huh?

Big Smile all Teeth

Each day had a new type of activity designed to get the kids comfortable and having fun in the water.  Several days they got to go down the big yellow slide at the end of the lesson.  Annabelle particularly loved this.

A Down the Slide

Batman was a little slower to warm up to the slide. In case you haven’t met him or read this blog before, Batman is a very methodical thinker.  He likes to analyze everything before he (literally or figuratively) jumps in.

The kids had lots of fun on “Noodle Day.”  Hannah gave each kid in the class a noodle “floatie” and instructions on how to hold them in the water.

Noodle Day

The kids tried their noodles out in the little pool for a while first.  Then Hannah hooked all the kids together by having them hang on to the noodle in front of them, and she towed them over to the deeper water.

Noodle Chain

She lined them all up on the side of the pool.

Noodles Line Wall

And they each practiced their floating.

Noodle Floats

After everyone got to do a front- and a back-float, Hannah set them all up on the side of the pool and they jumped in, one-by-one.

Noodles Jump In

Guess who waited until last?

Last Noodle Jumper

Another fun day was “Life-Jacket” day.  All the kids were fitted with a life-jacket for the lesson.  Batman was thrilled beyond belief that he got a Scooby Doo vest.

ZachLife Jacket

Annabelle got a blue jacket that matched her Hello Kitty two-piece swimsuit.

A Walks Life Jacket

The kids had lots of fun floating all around the little pool.

Kids Float

And then they formed a chain and Hannah pulled them around in the deep water.

Chain of Floaters

Batman loved life-jacket day, and he was the last one to reluctantly take off his Scooby Doo flotation device.

Ready to Jump Edge

Mid-way through the second week of swim lessons Annabelle experienced a BIG EVENT. She lost her first tooth.

All she could talk about was going to swimming lessons the next day to show Miss Hannah.

Missing Tooth

The highlight of the two weeks was definitely “High-Dive” day.  On “High-Dive” day each kid jumps off the end of the diving board into the waiting arms of the instructor below.

Last year both kids had to be lifted up and dropped off the edge of the diving board, but not this year.  Annabelle went right out and jumped off into Hannah’s waiting arms.

A on Dive Board

She landed with a huge splash and swam with Hannah to the side with a big smile on her face.  As soon as she climbed out on the stairs she said “I want to go again!” and rushed back to the end of the line.

A Lands Dive Board

Where she stood all atwitter with excitement over her next jump.

A In line 2nd jump

Batman was a little more cautious.  He stayed at the end of the line for quite a while, and several kids jumped twice before he finally got up the nerve to get on the board.

Zach on Dive Board

I almost thought he’d have to be dropped in again this year, but at the last moment he took a big breath and jumped right off.  I was so proud of him.

Zach Water Dive Board

His reaction afterwards was a little different from his sister’s, though.  He climbed up the stairs and walked over to where I was sitting on the side of the pool.  “I’m not going again!” he said with a definite tone to his voice.

We sat together and watched as all his little classmates jumped again and again.  His sister jumped two or three more times before Batman finally decided he’d try it once more.  He walked back to the end of the line, his swim trunks a little askew from his initial jump.

And at the back of the line he stayed.  As each child circled around from their jump, Batman just backed up a little and let them get in front of him.

End of the Line

He finally did make it to the front of the line, and he jumped one more time.  I was even more proud of him the second time.

There was one place the Batman really excelled in the pool, and it was the area of dunking.  For the first several days, because of his problem with the chlorine in his eyes, Batman was reluctant to put his head under the water when the kids were practicing blowing bubbles or dunking.

But once he got it, he got it.

Floatin and Dunkin

And that’s all he wanted to do. While the other kids were practicing floating or being animals across the pool, Batman dunked.

He dunked and dunked and dunked.

Hannah often had to call him back to join the others, because he would get so pre-occupied with diving down under the water.

Zach Dunker

The two weeks flew by, and before we knew it the last day of the session arrived.

The final day of lessons is the much heralded “Play Day.”  The pool is filled with a plethora of toys, including squirt guns, floaties and diving rings.  The kids are allowed to have a free-for-all for the entire lesson.

They had a blast!

A Shoots Z

I wasn’t in the pool but I think I had just as much fun watching them.

A on Noodle

There is something so contagious about watching your children laugh.

Both Kids Noodles

We sure did love our first session of swimming lessons.  We have two more weeks scheduled in July, and Annabelle is so excited that she is going to graduate to the “Big Kids” class for the next round.

Stay tuned for more!

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