Monthly Archives: September 2012

Off to the Circus

Week before last, the kids and I joined our friends Kade, Kampbell and Kari for a trip to the circus.  Barnum & Bailey and The Ringling Brothers were performing at the Idaho Center, and it was a rare opportunity to take in some great entertainment without having to travel far.  I knew the kids would enjoy the circus, and thought I probably would too, but it seemed like an awful lot of work to get the chores done, kids picked up and changed, and drive over to Nampa on a Friday night after a long week of work and school. 

Of course by work I mean Desperate Hubby getting up early every morning and heading into the office, and by school I mean driving Annabelle and Batman to their respective places of education and then picking them up again that afternoon, but it is tiring watching them go through all that effort.

After meeting for a quick dinner at TGI Fridays, we traversed to the Idaho Center, made our way through the PETA protestors outside (seriously, people) and found our  seats.  We were right in the middle of the aisle, just a few rows up from the bottom, and had a perfect view of the ring.

This might be a good time to mention that I forgot my camera in my hasty rush out the door, and had to take pictures with my cell phone, which apparently leaves much to be desired in the photography department.  Sorry. 

From the very beginning the kids were mesmerized by the activity.


When the lights went out to start the show, Batman climbed on my lap and leaned into me.  I kissed his cheek, and he smiled in delight.  

“This is soooo cool Mom!  I LOVE the circus!”  he stated.  It was a phrase he was to repeat over and over during the course of the night.  

The first animal act was horses, ponies and camels, performing an intricate and beautifully choreographed dance routine of sorts, each interacting with the other in perfect timing and showmanship.

It struck me how well taken care of the animals seemed.  The horses were fat and shiny, and the camels were, well, camels.


This horse danced by himself, and even did the moonwalk to a Michael Jackson song.


After each trick the handler gave the horses and camels a little treat. The treat looked like baby carrots from where we were sitting.  The animals seemed to truly enjoy their jobs.

There were all the usual suspects you would see at a circus, including the trapeze artists, which greatly impressed Annabelle.


My very poor picture quality makes this next picture look like something that does not belong on a G-rated Blog, but it actually is of a couple of gymnasts who performed various acts of strength on top of a platform on stage. 

Wait, that didn’t sound any better. 

Suffice to say that Batman was very impressed by this act, and he kept whispering “Mom!  Look how strong they are!  She is so strong!! I bet she is even stronger than you!”  Ah, the misconceptions of youth.


The act that really stole the show for us was the elephants.  These majestic beasts were truly amazing to watch.  They were impeccably trained and again, really seemed to enjoy their jobs.


During a break we went outside and bought toys from the circus toy people.  Annabelle picked out a bright spinning light flashlight thingy with an elephant on top, which lasted just long enough to practically blind me in the car on the way home and hasn’t worked since.

Batman picked a lighted sword which, although plastic, turned out to be quite intimidating in my four-year old’s hands.  The dog hid behind the couch immediately upon seeing the toy and didn’t come out for two days.  The lights in the dagger were apparently not any more well-made than the ones in Annabelle’s toy, and they were totally dead by the next morning.

The sword has since mysteriously disappeared.

The end.

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Rest in Peace, Lonnie Skeen

Our earthly realm lost a good man on Tuesday.  My brother-in-law, Lonnie Bruce Skeen, passed away peacefully at home in Caldwell at about 3:00 pm.  Lonnie had battled a rare form of blood cancer for the past few years, and while his death was not unexpected it still came as a shock to all of us who knew and loved him.

Lonnie was born on December 21, 1947 and spent his youthful years growing up around the Treasure Valley.  He enjoyed telling stories about his antics as a young man.  He had seen many changes in our area over the years and it was delightful to hear him describe how things used to be, each story flavored with his flair for description and dry sense of humor.

My brother-in-law was a certified genius, qualified to be a member of Mensa, though I don’t think he ever was, and a person who truly enjoyed life.   He followed many pursuits and hobbies over the course of his journey, each embraced with a tenacity and droll sense of perspective.  He enjoyed everything from horseback riding to playing guitar; fly fishing to restoring old cars.  He spent time flying small airplanes and loved going out on a boat.

Lonnie’s lifelong profession was welding.  He started out with a five-year apprenticeship in the Plumbers and Pipefitters Local #296 in Boise and remained a member of that union for the next 42 years.  His work took him all around the United States, and he was responsible for everything from helping to build the infrastructure of Micron Technology to constructing the natural gas mainline that traverses much of our great nation.

Lonnie had only been a member of our family for a few short years, but he fit in with everyone as though he was born to it.  The way he embraced my sister’s children, and their children, was a wonder to see.  He gave my sister the type of stability and lifestyle she had always craved, and I loved him for that.

Lonnie was the type of person who could talk to anybody.  And I mean anybody.  My sister would tell about going to a diner with her husband, and before lunch was over Lonnie would know the entire life story of the server as well as any passing busboy, and probably the people at the next table too.  My brother-in-law was a very opinionated man, and though I didn’t always agree with his opinions I could always appreciate them.  He was intelligent and well-read, and never took on a cause lightly.  What he believed in he believed in for a reason, and you could not help but respect that.

My brother-in-law was generous, loving and gregarious.  He never failed to greet me with a hug and a truly interested “How ya doing, Sis?”  He loved to talk about horses and dogs and kids, and politics.  When he found out he was dying he was very open about it.  You never had to feel uncomfortable around him; he talked about how he was feeling and readily admitted that he knew his time here on earth was short.

Even with his openness about, and preparation for, his own passing, Lonnie continued to embrace life.  He bought a new guitar and loved to play it whenever he had the strength.  He had recently completed restoring an old boat, and then purchased an aging motor home to start renovating that.  He spent Monday morning, the day before he passed, working on the motor home.  He took a turn for the worse that evening, and when the hospice nurse told him she would see him the next afternoon he said gently “No you won’t, Sis.”

He knew.

My sister said Lonnie was tired, and I know he was.  His greatest frustration with his illness was that he had only a few good hours a day, and that was on a good day.  He was ready for the next realm, and he had complete and total faith that he would be going to a much better place.

I am so grateful that this good man was able to do what he wanted to do with his time right up until that time was over.  His biggest fear was that he would linger in bed for many long days or weeks; being unable to do what he would like to do and waiting interminably for the next phase of his journey.  I am glad he was spared that.

Lonnie even got his wish about the services he wanted.  He planned every detail of the Rosary and funeral months ago, and he told my sister that he hoped his Rosary could be on a Friday and his funeral on Saturday.  Being the pragmatic man that he was, he wanted people to be able to attend without having to take time off of work.

Lonnie’s Rosary will be this Friday and his service Saturday morning.  I know there will be many well-wishers there who feel just as I do, that our world is a little less rich without Lonnie in it.  I can just see him up there in heaven though, spinning yarns and making new friends.

Happy trails Lonnie.  You will be missed.


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Western Idaho Fair 2012

The kids and I took a free Saturday and visited the Western Idaho Fair just before Annabelle started school a couple of weeks ago.  I have not been very timely in my blogging, but I wanted to capture a few moments from that day before they flew forever from my scattered stream of consciousness.

We met Auntie Kris at the fair, with the idea that we would have some lunch and then watch some of the horse show events being held as part of the program. 

Our first stop was the Idaho NAACP booth, manned by one of my very favorite people, Jerry Baber. 

Fair Jerry's Booth

I’ve known Jerry for years through the horse showing crowd, and tales of his prowess with the barbecue are legend among anyone who’s been lucky enough to try them. I had never partaken of any of my friend’s BBQ specialties until that day, but I can say definitively that it was worth the wait.

The kids and I ordered one of almost everything on the menu, including Jerry’s fantastic smoked and barbecued chicken, corn on the cob, watermelon and to top it off, the best Banana Pudding I have ever had in my life.

Fair Everybody Eats

After we gorged ourselves, the first order of business was, of all things, the Pony Rides.  I suggested to my two little cowpokes that perhaps we should let the other kids in (the long, long) line ride the ponies, and that we find an alternative attraction, since we could ride anytime we wanted at home. 

Annabelle asked me if the people who ran the ride would have any way of knowing that we had ponies of our own that we could ride anytime we wanted to at home.

I was forced to admit that no, they did not have any way of knowing that.

You can see what happened from there.

Fair Batman Rides

After the pony rides we were drawn into the “Petting Zoo,” where we paid $3 per Dixie cup for a penny worth of grain to walk around and feed the already mostly obese animals.

Annabelle was disappointed that the large Indian steer would not accept any grain from her, but she tried to pet him anyway.

Fair Annabelle Big Steer

Zachary looked in wonder at the huge horns on this goat.  After he stood there for awhile, he asked me “Mom, if I HAD been growing horns before, like I thought I was during the camping trip, do you think they would be this big by now?”

I didn’t really have a good answer for that.  But I laughed.

Fair Batman Big Horns

After we fed all of our food to the animals (which took a while since Annabelle was quite selective about which animals she thought deserved it) we finally exited and decided to go on a few rides.

Is anybody surprised that this was Annabelle’s favorite event of the day?

Fair Smiling on Bull

She rode and rode, and the harder the bull bucked the harder she laughed.

Fair Quite a Ride

She told me afterward that she was pretty sure that she rode so well because of all her experience with bucking her pony Reno out.

Our first real carnival ride was the Ferris Wheel.  At first Batman was scared to get on, but at the last minute he finally agreed to ride with me.

Annabelle and Auntie Kris were in the bucket right in front of us, and we could see them every time we went around.  You could really see the smoke from all the area fires when you got to the top of the ride.

Fair Auntie Kris on Top o World

Batman had a white-knuckled grip on the safety bar the whole ride, and he also insisted that I put my arms around him to hold him in.

By the very end of the ride he relaxed a little, and finally conceded that it was “pretty cool” to be so high in the air.


The kids went on a few rides by themselves too.

This particular ride was touted as being straight from Michael Jackson’s Neverland Ranch. 

For some reason I found that to be an odd and faintly disturbing claim to fame, but that’s just me.

Fair Seriously

The kids liked it though.  Well, until Annabelle figured out you could spin the little basket around, which caused Batman to wail in fear. He screamed so loud that we could hear him over all the fair noise.

Eventually he decided it was OK though, and he even kind of smiled for the rest of the trip.

Fair Spinning Ride

Once we got the rides out of our system, meaning that I refused to buy any more paper coupons (or let Auntie Kris do it either) we headed over to the horse show area.

They had a free-style reining competition and the themed horses and their riders were really fun to see.  After that they featured an actual costume contest where the horses were dressed in elaborate costumes, many featuring small children in complementing outfits being led around the ring by parents. 

It was really cute.  Too bad I didn’t take any pictures.

But I did get a picture of Batman’s favorite part of the day……an unexpected visit with his beloved girlfriend, Kristi. 

She took him to get a drink of water, and after all the food, the rides, and the excitement we had shared, that was his most favorite event of the day.

Fair Batman and Kristi

The fair was super fun, and Auntie Kris was a very good sport to hang around with us and go on all the rides.  Thanks Kris!

We can’t wait for next year.

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A Kindergarten Update

I have had several inquiries this week as to how my little Annabelle is coming along with her kindergarten career.  I have to say that the results are mixed.  Our drop off yesterday went much more smoothly than last week, with nary a tear when I left.  A small quivering lip was all that could be seen to show she was still a little uncomfortable.  At pick up time she said she had an excellent day and met some new friends.

Today was a different story.  I took her back to the playground so she could line up with her class, and we had barely gotten inside the gate when she grabbed my arm in a death grip and started crying.  I put her in line and tried to walk away.

She cried louder.  I told her I loved her and I had to leave now.

She clung to me.

I dragged her a few feet, then walked her back to her line.  She begged me to wait until her teacher arrived.  Mrs. Martinez arrived at just that perfect moment and I walked Annabelle to her.  She took my little girl’s hand and held her in line.

I could hear her quiet sobs as Batman and I walked away.   Annabelle’s, not Mrs. Martinez’s.

More updates to follow.

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GSSHA Show #4

A couple of weeks ago Annabelle had her final Gem State Stock Horse Association show for the season.  She was excited, even more so than usual.  We had just returned from our trip to Seattle, and my little cowgirl was anxious to get back in the saddle.

We met Auntie Kris out at Lucky Run for a little practice on Friday afternoon. Batman was very excited to see the lovely Ms. Kristi, who he blushingly calls his “girlfriend.”  She was sweet enough to let the kids “help” her do some of her chores.

Check out Batman’s outfit.

No, I did not dress him. But apparently I did let him leave the house that way.

hs Helping Kristi

Once the wash rack was clear, the kids started in on Chic.  When he was all scrubbed up Annabelle wanted to clean his feet.  Look how he is standing there…..his foot resting so the kids can work on it.

hs Wild Chic

It took them quite a while, but Chic never moved once.  What an awesome horse he is.

hs What a Good Boy

Saturday morning dawned bright and clear.  We were up early and started our drive over to Ontario by about 6:30.  The kids ate McDonald’s pancakes in the car on the way over, so they were all fueled up for the day.

Batman burned off a little of his extra energy by doing an Olympic Gymnastics impression on the rails of the warm up pen.

If they ever let four-year olds who wear “Disney Cars” pull-ups and cowboy boots into the Olympics, Batman has a great shot.

hs Batman Swings

Annabelle calmly trotted Chic around the warm-up pen.  She is getting pretty comfortable with this whole horse show scene by now.

hs Warming Up

I tried to talk my little diva through her pattern one last time, but she just said “Mom, I know what to do!”

Famous last words, but we’ll get to that in a moment.  She didn’t really want her picture taken either.

hs Pretty Picture

But I had to keep taking it, because she was wearing another beautiful new shirt that Auntie Shane had gotten for her.  It was pink snake-skin, with a rhinestone collar and French cuffs.

I don’t think I have ever seen a cooler horse show shirt.  I’ve sure never worn one.


When it was finally her turn, Annabelle walked Chic calmly into the pen.

hsReady to Go In

And then she did her pattern.

Well, half of it.  She forgot one circle.  Other than that little detail, though, her performance really was great.

Chic ran down and stopped like the World Champion he is.

It was beautiful.

But short.

You can watch it here.  It only takes a minute.

Annabelle and Chic, Gem State Stock Horse Association Show #4

When Annabelle came out of the pen she was beaming.  She didn’t realize that she  had forgotten part of her pattern.  I told her she did great, with that one little hiccup.

She thought long and hard about it.  Then she said “Well, that’s not that big of a deal is it?  They will still give me a good score, right?”  I told her I wasn’t sure about the Little Buckaroos Class, but in the big kids’ classes they would give you a zero for missing part of the pattern.

Annabelle was horrified. “A zero!?  Just for forgetting a circle? That doesn’t seem like THAT big of a deal!”  I laughed really hard, then told her not to worry about it.  I have messed up more patterns in various types of horse shows than many people will ever run in their careers.  “It happens to everyone,” I told her.

She was relieved.

After the show as over we hung around for a while.  We chatted with Auntie Kris, who was kind about the mishap and reassured Annabelle again that pattern hiccups happen to everyone.

Kris was showing her pretty bay mare Sally, who seemed to enjoy her new role as a hackamore horse.

hs Auntie Kris

We stopped by Jerry Vincent’s tack trailer to check out a different saddle for Annabelle, since hers wasn’t fitting any of the horses very well.  We didn’t bother getting Chic undressed all the way for his fitting.  His fly sheet hung around his neck like a scarf.  He didn’t care though.  He’s very secure in his manhood.  Well, gelding-hood I guess.

Chic is Draped

Jerry very kindly let us trade the saddle in for one that fit both Annabelle and Chic better.  Of course, I forgot to take a picture of it.  But it’s really cute.

We drove home from Ontario happy.  Although Annabelle did not win her class on this day, she still took first place in the Gem State Little Buckaroo Division with her three first place wins in the previous shows.

She doesn’t know that though.  She thinks it is all for fun.  I am trying to postpone for as long as possible her realization that she is actually competing with her friends out there.

Because it really is all for fun.

Thanks again to Auntie Kris for sharing her awesome ride Chic, and Auntie Shane, who once again contributed most everything that my daughter was wearing.

You guys rock.

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