Posts Tagged With: motherhood

Puffy

On Friday night Grandma Kay and Grandpa Vernon came over for an impromptu dinner of Desperate Hubby’s perfectly barbecued tri-tip steak along with roasted red potatoes and bacon-infused garlic green beans.

Did I mention my husband is a really good cook?

In the course of conversation Grandpa casually mentioned that he’d noticed a couple of brave pigeons had returned to the barn after the much-touted Pigeon Patrols had scared most of them off a couple of weeks back.  (See Batman’s Pigeon Patrol 2013:  If It Flies It Dies, if you are interested).

Batman was all over that information.

When I left for yoga yesterday morning at 10:00, he was dressed in full camo and crowded into the recliner next to DH, who was trying to catch an early football game or something equally compelling on TV.  I asked the boys what was up.

“I’m waiting for daddy to get dressed.  We’re going to go out and shoot those last two pigeons” my little sportsman matter-of-factly explained.

When I came back home about an hour and a half later, the kids were nowhere in sight and DH was waiting for me in the garage so he could leave to run some pre-whitetail-hunting-trip errands.  My question as to the whereabouts of the little people was answered with “they are out in the horse pens skating on ice puddles.”

I changed my shoes and coat and went out to check.  Sure enough, there was an ice puddle about 5” by 3” that was strong enough to hold the weight of the kids, and they were sliding about it on their boots, holding two very unenthusiastic cats that were apparently participating in a “dance contest”.

I wandered around petting the horses and looking at the water holes that had NOT been strong enough to hold the kids, which now were sloppy puddles with a few remaining shards of ice clinging to the mud around the edges.

My meandering took me near the entrance to the covered barn area, which reminded Batman to tell me that he and daddy had “shot a pigeon but we must have only got him in the bum because he flew away.”

Nice.

Winston accompanied me on my rambles, as usual walking right beside me with his head held at the precise height that allowed me to pet him as we strolled along together.  In the darkest corner of the little barn he left me, suddenly dashing to the fence and running out into the sunlight at full speed with a dead bird hanging from his mouth.  Instead of the usual pigeons we had been seeing in the barn this bird was a (long) dead starling.

In life they look something like this.

The one we found looked like this (well, it did after I pried it out of poor Winston’s mouth and gave it to an ecstatic Batman).

By the Head

I hadn’t seen my little boy so happy since he had flown the last dead pigeon around by its poor lifeless wings.

He held it by the head.

He held it by the tail.

By the Tail

He flew it merrily about by the wings.

By the Wings

He showed it to Winston (who no doubt thought “Wait a minute boy!  That’s mine!”)

Look Winston

He showed it to Freckles, who showed far more interest in a dead bird than I thought a horse would.  Or should.

Look Freckles

It was unclear what had caused the demise of the small speckled bird, but whatever it was made my macabre little hunter very happy.  His exact words were “Mom! At least I got to have one dead bird in my day!”

Nice.

When he was finished socializing with the bird he walked happily over to the Bird Cemetery (I think he would have whistled if he knew how (Batman, not the bird)), where he buried the starling next to Perry II, Hunter and Tougher.

Gravedigger

I asked him what the name of the new occupant was, and Batman answered without hesitation.

“Puffy,” he said.

I don’t know.  I didn’t ask.

Once the bird was properly buried in the barely thawed mud and covered with dozens of small rocks Batman came in the house.  He was cold and wanted to put his snow pants on so he could go “ice skate” some more.

About that time Desperate Hubby came home.

“What have you been up to?” he asked.

“I found a dead bird dad!  His name is Puffy and I buried him next to the other birds.  It is so cool how many birds I have now.  When we move to a new house someday I am going to dig all those birds up and take them with us for a Bird Graveyard!”

Nice.

I’d like to add two things for the record:

1)  We are not planning on moving to a new house anytime soon, and I sincerely hope that Batman finds another fascination before that time arrives.

and

2)  It sure does seem like I have been writing a lot of bird stories lately.

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

The 25¢ Goldfish

It all started out so innocently.

The wonderful charter school that my children attend held its Annual Fall Harvest Festival yesterday.  This is a very fun family event that we participated in last year with great enthusiasm (read my blog “The $120 Cake” if you want the details).    The event raises money for various school supplies and features games in every classroom as well as beautiful custom baskets designed by each class which are sold at a highly competitive silent auction in the library.

You purchase tickets at the door in the form of those little cardboard tear-apart coupons when you arrive, and a variable number of tickets allows you to play games in the classrooms or purchase pizza or other treats in the cafeteria.  It is a remarkably well-planned and executed event that makes money for the school and at the same time lets the kids have some fun with their classmates and teachers in a more informal setting.

This year Desperate Hubby would be joining us for the first time at the festival, and the kids were looking forward to playing all the games.  Each teacher had a basket of small toys or candy that they awarded for winning the games in their rooms, and Batman in particular was intent on collecting as much loot as he could.

We had just walked in the front door, our 84 tickets in hand, when I spied a child walking by carrying, of all things, a goldfish.  Yep, a live goldfish, in a plastic bag expertly tied on top just like when you purchase them at Pet Smart.  The kids didn’t see this at first, but as we headed down the hallway toward their respective classrooms we saw a few more children carting around the tiny orange creatures.

The bags of goldfish soon enough caught the dedicated attention of my pet-loving children, and there was nothing to be done but to immediately find the source of these remarkable prizes.  We located the goldfish game on the other side of the school and it was easy to discern just where the fish were being awarded by the line that snaked out of the room and into the hallway, ending in a milling mass of parents, strollers, and children holding clear wet bags of fish.

We entered the room (where the line was not as long as I feared) and got in queue.  You could purchase three tries at each go, and the children stood behind lines of tape on the floor at varying distances from a table with several fishbowls on it trying to toss little rubber fish into the bowls.  A fish in the bowl won you, well, a fish to take home and put in a bowl.

I expected Batman to be a whiz at this game with his exceptional hand/eye coordination, but in their first three attempts it was Annabelle who actually won a fish.  Which she promptly named “Goldie.” (Remember, these are the kids who name the succession of Betta fish (that we already have at home, thank you very much) either Bluey or Reddy, depending on their hue).

She was ecstatic of course, but Batman was devastated.  He sobbed as quietly as he could as I steered him out in the hall, and he begged me to wait in the (now longer) line with him so he could try again.  I sent Desperate Hubby off with Annabelle to find the face painting, and headed back inside with Batman to try again.

Alas, my poor son had no luck at all the second time around either, and we had to exit the fish room empty-handed.  For the rest of the evening, though, as we navigated game room after game room and ate pizza at the folding tables in the lunchroom, we packed around the fish that his sister had won.  At first Annabelle insisted on carrying it herself, and after she tired of that the fish was handed off to one family member after the other, with carefully monitored instructions as to the amount of motion allowed in the bag of water to avoid upsetting her new pet.

After two and half hours of great fun, an entire pizza in the lunchroom, pockets full of prizes and candy, one incident of accidental fish abandonment and subsequent rapid recovery by DH, and lastly the purchase of a beautiful marzipan cake from the cake decorating contest (I had not gotten it together to make a cake this year, and frankly I spent way too much time anyway trying to figure out how I would put the school logo (a new requirement this year) onto the pony cake, should I make one) we headed homeward.

When we got there the first order of business (even before cake eating) was to settle Goldie into his temporary home.

25 Cent Fish

I sort of hoped thought that the fish might not even make it through his first night alive anyway, after all the jostling, and I thought the disposable tupperware dish was a fitting habitat for a fish that cost a quarter, but Annabelle disagreed. As for Batman, he had recovered enough from his disappointment at not WINNING a fish that he brought up the fact that I had promised him if we went to buy the new fish a bowl we could just BUY him his own fish (hey, I was trying to quiet him down), we all agreed that today we would visit WalMart and pick up both an additional bowl (to go right beside the one that already housed Bluey the Betta) and a fish for Batman.

Fair enough.

This morning I got up pretty early because I wanted to write a story about the Red Tail Hawk that Grandpa Vernon had rescued yesterday.  I was in my office happily typing away and working on my second cup of coffee.  The kids and DH were having an animated discussion down the hallway in the living room, but with my office door mostly closed I couldn’t really hear the subject.

The first hint of trouble came when Annabelle came bursting in the door, excitement gleaming in her eyes, and asked where she might find a measuring tape.  This could not be good.  “For what, my love, do you need a measuring tape?”  “Because Daddy said we could get an aquarium and whole bunch of fish!  We’re trying to figure out where to put it!!”

For this I got up out of my chair.  I only had to look at my husband and he knew how I felt about the aquarium idea.  He had floated (sorry) the idea of getting an aquarium for our home several times, but there was not a perfect place in our cozy house for one, and besides that I was already pretty busy taking care of the dog and the rabbits that he had procured for the children in previous instances when I wasn’t paying attention.

There are times in a marriage and as a parent, though, when you realize that this might very well be a battle you may not win, and that it is better to acquiesce and have some control over the outcome than to haplessly go to yoga and return to find a fifteen gallon fish tank set up in the middle of the kitchen table (I decided this morning was one of those times when DH actually suggested in all seriousness the table as a possible spot for the aquarium).

I looked around the living room and found a spot that I thought might work, next to the corner cabinet where I kept my small collection of handmade glass plates and bowls.  I took the tape and measured it.  If I moved (to where, I wasn’t sure) the basket that held a collection of folded blankets with which to snuggle on chilly nights, and pushed the cabinet over as close to the bookshelf as it would go, I could just get  a scant two feet of space.

“That will be perfect” said DH.  “I’ll find just the right thing.”

I said I’d unload and move the corner cabinet when I got home from the gym and headed out.

I went to yoga and stretched and lunged, hung upside down and breathed deeply, trying to focus on something other than my imminent future spent cleaning a smelly fish tank.  (By the way, a shout out here is required to Dalee, a fellow charter school mom and the instructor of the 10:15 Saturday yoga class at the local Y.  If you, like me, have wanted to try yoga but have been too nervous or intimidated to seek out a place, go to her class.  It was wonderful and inviting, and I didn’t ever feel one bit out-of-place.)

I returned home to find the fish aquarium assembly well on its way.  DH had purchased a serviceable little metal stand for the aquarium that measured a full 30 inches from leg to leg.  Unless I managed to either somehow shorten the couch or moved my red plates and bowls outside, I would have to find another spot.

I looked around, pacing in what I hoped was an angry fashion (I wasn’t actually mad, but sometimes you have to maintain the balance of power in a relationship).  Finally, with a deep sigh, I walked over to the coat rack on the wall next to DH’s recliner where I hang my custom-made leather show chaps when I’m not using them and took them down.  I threw them on the couch and said “Well, I guess I can find another place for these.”  DH looked at me a little anxiously.  “Do you want me to move the hooks for them?” he asked in a helpful tone.

I told him no, I’d just move around some other stuff and put shorter things that wouldn’t interfere with tank placement there and put my chaps somewhere else.  I ended up relocating a trophy halter and some tiny chinks that Annabelle had outgrown and putting my chaps in a few other spots around the living room and in my office.  I wouldn’t admit it to DH, but everything looked better in their new homes than the original anyway.

In the meantime, the kids and DH had been busy getting started on the assembly of the new fish residence.  Batman had been sitting patiently with his (seven) new goldfish in a bag on his lap and he was eager to get them in the tank.

Seven Fish!

DH moved the table (which fit perfectly in the new location, by the way) and placed the tank on top.  He carefully measured, cut and taped the ocean background over the back of the glass.  Then he washed and arranged the rocks and Annabelle helped get the plants in.

Plants

The trio had purchased what seemed to me to be an awful lot of stuff for one simple aquarium.

Lots of Stuff

Slowly, though, the tank came together.  I had purposely removed myself from the proximity, making beds and getting laundry sorted, but toward the end I did help DH get the water into the tank (it takes a lot of big mixing bowls full of water to fill a fifteen gallon tank, even with two people working at it).

Just as we put the bags of fish (one bag with the seven goldfish; one bag with a really cool looking plecostimus) into the tank, our friends Shawny and Sierra arrived to spend the afternoon and night with us.  We went ahead and netted Goldie out of his tupperware and released him in the tank, and the kids watched anxiously as the other fish swam in their bags and got acclimated to the water temperature.

Fascinating Fish

After about fifteen minutes of listening to the kids ask “When can we turn the fish loose?  When can we turn the fish loose?” I finally gave in an told them to go ahead.  DH had explained to me that due to the nature of the tank water stabilization the goldfish were likely temporary anyway. We’d get cooler fish in a couple of weeks when everything was all established.  He is smart about that stuff.

When it was all said and done, I had to admit that the tank looked really nice.

We did, after all, have just the perfect spot for it.

Not so Bad

I didn’t ask for, and was provided with, no details, but I imagine it was a pretty expensive home to build for a 25¢ goldfish. I wondered if any other parents had been going through the same new-pet assimilation challenges we had this morning.

But not to worry.

I have a plan that will make everyone appreciate just how big a commitment the purchase of a single 25¢ paper ticket can be.

I’m going to have my own booth next year at the Harvest Festival.  It’s going to be centrally located and I’ll find a game that even the youngest and most uncoordinated child can win.

I’m thinking of giving away kittens.

Categories: Kids Are Funny Creatures, Life in the Country | Tags: , , , | 4 Comments

A Perfect Seven

My little Annabelle recently celebrated her seventh birthday, and though I had not planned to orchestrate a multi-day extravaganza it sort of turned out that way.  In the end, it was obvious that the variety of events commemorating her milestone were oh-so-fitting for my first-born’s multi-faceted personality.

Celebration Day One:  A Real Birthday, Sans Stirrups

Annabelle’s actual birthday fell on a Wednesday, so after a day at school we had a quiet family (and by family I mean Batman, Annabelle, adopted-sister Kristi and me) at the Texas Roadhouse restaurant, or as Annabelle refers to it “That Restaurant by the Freeway Where You Throw Peanuts on the Floor.”  Desperate Hubby was practicing with his band that night, so he didn’t get to join us for the meal.  We managed to have fun without him, though, especially the birthday girl, who squealed with delight when she was placed on the decorative saddle for her birthday picture.

Until she said “Waaaait a minute!  Why doesn’t this saddle have any stirrups!?”

The kids’ school had thoughtfully given us a four-day weekend for Annabelle’s birthday, (well, actually I’m not exactly sure that was the reason for it, but we had a long weekend just the same) so we had plenty of time to continue with the celebrations.

Replete with birthday dessert, we headed home to we could get up early and try out Annabelle’s birthday gift from her dad and I, which was this snazzy new bridle for Pony Reno.  The bridle features a beautiful leather headstall complete with shiny crystal brow-band conchos (thanks Bob Bean for putting it together), a cute little pony-sized correction bit with silver detailing on the shank, and brand new pink and purple roping reins which were a gift from our friend Jacki.

Annabelle was thrilled with her new bridle.  Reno maybe not so much.

New Bridle

Celebration Day Two:  Grandmas Make the Day

We woke up to a cold and rainy day on Thursday, and since it was not a good day to break in the new bridle we headed out for some birthday-party shopping preparations, arriving home just in time for our next two birthday events.

We started with an afternoon shopping trip with Grandma Becki (who successfully braved not only a drenching rainstorm, the new traffic roundabout down the street AND her Canyon County Social Immersion Class at our local Wal-Mart – bravo Becki!) where Annabelle got two fantastic gifts, including a very authentic-sounding and noisy battery-operated kitty.  Batman was thrilled to get a few things as well, and Becki was nice enough to bring home a roasted chicken from the deli “just because.”  It was probably that chicken that got me through the rest of birthday prep!

The afternoon shopping trip was followed by a Thursday night birthday dinner with Grandma Kay and Grandpa Vernon, along with friends Shawny and Sierra, which was held at the mecca of fun in our neighborhood, the Arctic Circle (or the “Place with the Blue Play Fish,” as my kids refer to it.)  Annabelle got presents from all, and the kids played like only free-ice-cream-cone-fueled elementary students can.  After a couple of hours I dragged them away, protesting all the while, to get some sleep in preparation for the ongoing events of the next few days.

Celebration Day Three:  A Mystery Door Locker

Friday was meant to be a quiet day, spent cleaning, decorating and finishing preparations for Saturday’s planned birthday party.  After a morning spent shopping and organizing a few things around the house we decided to run over to the barn where Freckles, my show horse, lives, to go for a ride.  I had a lot of things left to do, but the kids were restless, so I figured we could spare a couple of hours for some outside time.

Batman has had a renewed interest in riding of late, (look for my blog:  Zach in the Saddle, coming soon), so we saddled Grumpy for him and Annabelle rode Pony Reno (who performed fantastically in his new bridle, by the way) while I loped my mare.  We finished up in an hour or so, fighting a chilly breeze and more than ready to head home.  Batman was a little whiny and very hungry, so he climbed in the car to forage for a snack.  When he couldn’t find something satisfactory, he climbed back out, disgruntled and wanting to know how soon we were leaving.

Unfortunately, while Batman was in the pickup, somebody inadvertently locked all of the vehicle doors (I still don’t know who the culprit was, since Batman insisted vehemently that it wasn’t him).  Since my cell phone was also locked securely in the truck (along with all of our jackets), we had to borrow a phone to call Desperate Hubby for rescue.

DH was in the middle of finishing up a loan package that had to be submitted, and he exhibited less-than his usual amount of enthusiasm about my phone call.  Nonetheless, he arrived about thirty minutes later, and after quickly figuring out that he could not magically open the truck without keys he used his cell phone to call a locksmith for us.

About ninety minutes after that, I was on the road again.  The kids, being the opportunistic little creatures that they are, had hitched a ride with Grandpa Vernon and were already home playing with Shawny and Sierra while I waited with the horses for help to arrive.

Desperate Hubby got home shortly after I did, and after a quick dinner he took the kids to football practice by himself.  I was considerably behind schedule by that point, so I spent until nearly midnight finishing sweeping the garage, hanging pink crepe paper  and happy birthday banners and making lists for the next day.

Celebration Day Four:  The Real Birthday Party

I kept a nervous eye on the weather as Saturday dawned, which was the day of Annabelle’s official party and what was slated to continue an ongoing fall-like weather pattern. Desperate Hubby headed out early with both kids for their flag football game, though Annabelle balked at the cold and wondered why she had to go since it was, after all, her birthday.

As it turned out, the birthday girl had a fantastic game, finally hitting her stride as one of the fastest members on the team, pulling flag after flag on defense, then running the ball deep into the opposing team’s territory time and time again on offense.  DH was all smiles when he came home, recounting with glee the frustration of the opposing team’s (Redneck, he said) coaching staff at their inability to stop the progression of a girl, of all players.

Annabelle does look pretty fierce in her football regalia, no?

No.  Not really.  But she is fast!

Scan0006

With the rest of the birthday team home, we finalized preparations for the party and soon welcomed our guests.  Last year we had invited the entire kindergarten class for what turned out to be the most wild, raucous and memorable birthday party ever, but this year Annabelle had decided to make it a lower-key day, inviting “Girls Only” and limiting it to just a handful of her friends from class.

Just as the guests began to arrive the chilly overcast weather took a turn for the better, and with sun intermittently shining and breeze quieted we were in for a blissful afternoon.  We had the requisite bounce house, which was most notable for the upside-down “Happy Birthday” banner installed by the teenage delivery boy (and then reinstalled by DH in its proper format).  Though I actually had the time this year to walk around, converse a little with my fellow parents and enjoy the party myself, I apparently did not have the time to take a picture of the bounce house.  It was red and yellow and blue (with no slide this year in case you were wondering).

I had experienced a flash of craftiness in planning our activities this year, and decided to have the kids make their own party favors.  I purchased a bunch of plain wooden frames for 97 cents each, and coupled them with a big table stocked with paint, glitter, stickers, and other decorative items.

The first thing I had each child do upon their arrival was go to the table, pick out a frame, and paint and decorate it so it would have time to dry before the party ended.  I curiously did not get any pictures of the actual decorating process, but this is what the table looked like after the party.

And no, I don’t know what I was doing all that time either.

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After the kids were finished decorating their frames, they were free to roam and bounce, eat pizza and candy, pet the bunnies or the cats or dogs, and ride the pony or the horse or the four-wheelers.  They seemed to have a good time.

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At some point during the afternoon I did force each of them to each sit individually on the pony for a photo, something like this.

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Or, in Annabelle’s case like this.

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Batman was the lone holdout who took advantage of Grumpy’s decorations.  He had chosen to remained dressed in his white football shorts throughout the day, pairing them with a white t-shirt which gave him the look a tiny wandering pool boy traversing the party of (almost completely) girls.

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Once everyone’s picture was captured, I ran into the house and printed them out individually, enlisting the help of adopted-daughter Kristi to get them cut out in a size that would accommodate all three frame shapes we had ended up with.

When that was done, Kristi and the other sissies all pitched in to assemble the finished favors – a custom picture frame showcasing the cutest little party-goers imaginable sitting on the decorated pony.  Some of the kids (and a few mothers too, ahem) had gotten amazingly creative, writing their names on the frames and creating elaborate detail with their colors, jewels and stickers.  All of them were cute.

This is Annabelle’s.

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And her brother’s.

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I was really surprised and delighted by how well the whole project turned out.  In the end we had thirteen beautiful little frames and photos of (drum roll please) thirteen smiling children.  It was a whole lot of fun, and about the simplest party project you could imagine.

You are welcome to copy the idea for your next party.

But you’ll have to come get the pony yourself.

Party favors all wrapped up, we turned to the next order of business.  The obligatory pinata.

Sister Sami was in charge of swinging and raising/lowering the cardboard horse, creating a level of difficulty matched roughly to each child’s hitting ability.

Sami Raises

In my experience, there are few things that kids love better than a good pinata beating, and this afternoon was no exception.

They swung.

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And swung.

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They laughed.

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They became enraged by their inability to break the pinata, swinging again and again in an apparent testosterone-fueled rage at the inanimate object.

Oh wait, that was just Batman.

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Finally the pinata was broken, and children scrambled like chickens to pick up the scattered candy.  I let them gorge themselves for a few minutes, then herded them in to provide some more party sugar.

Since it had been the other three sissies’ birthdays over the past month and we hadn’t gotten to celebrate with them,  we put all of the girls’ names on the cake.  (Editor’s note:  a beautiful bunch, yes?)

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Annabelle and her inimitable brother Batman got the honor of blowing out the candles.

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We passed out cupcakes and ice cream cups to the throng of party-goers, saving the decorated cake to send back home to BSU with the older sissies.

Then came the moment all the little ones had been anticipating.

Present time.

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Annabelle was thoroughly spoiled with the largesse she received.

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Present after present, each special and oh-so-fitting for the birthday girl.

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After the gifts were opened, guests were thanked and some clean-up was accomplished, we had a hearty dinner with adopted-Uncle Danny and headed off to an early bed-time.

This birthday wasn’t over yet.

Celebration Day Five:  We Burn All That Sugar Off

In my infinite wisdom I had scheduled Annabelle and I to run the “2013 Wine Race” 5k the day after the birthday party.  We had to be over on Sunny Slope near the tiny town of Marsing for our 10:00 start time.

I was excited about the race.  Back a couple of years ago, before Annabelle and I had started filling our weekends with trail rides and then horse shows, we used to race all the time. Though we hadn’t done many 5ks in the past year or so, both my daughter and I remember each of the runs fondly, and I wanted to encourage her to continue to view exercise in a favorable light.

When I sent our entry in for the Wine Race, though, I had not taken realized that we would be on day five of birthday celebration activities,  following a full day spent celebrating with a dozen little friends and their (and our) families.  Nor did I foresee a cold, windy morning, intermittently spitting rain on our under-dressed bodies.   I just saw an open day, a new race for us, and signed us up.

Boy am I glad I did.

Despite the fact that I made a rookie error in parking, going along like a lemming with others who left their cars at the bottom of a steep mile-long hill that had to be climbed to reach the starting line,  my newly seven-year old daughter and I had a wonderful time at the race.

Ready to Run

We joined hundreds in our wave who ran, jogged or walked (we did mostly the latter) a moderately hilly three-mile course through our own Idaho wine country, passing under the beautiful iron arch of the Ste. Chappelle winery as we set out.

And we're Off

Cresting the first hill was a bit of a challenge for Annabelle (after all she had already hiked a mile uphill just to get to the start), but she never complained.

Well, not much anyway.

Top of First Hill

We were both happy to finally hit the home stretch, a gravel field road winding slowly down to the finish line below.

The Home Stretch

We hung around the after-party for a brief period, listening to live music and watching all the people, but we were tired and ready to head home.  I didn’t even take advantage of the free wine tasting, so you know I was done in!

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On the way home we stopped for Annabelle’s favorite lunch, a Quizno’s turkey sandwich, and headed home to settle in for a relaxing afternoon.  It was a school day the next morning, and I had no trouble convincing Annabelle or her brother to hit the pillow early that night.

It had been an action-packed birthday celebration, as varied in activity as my lovely daughter is in her interests.

A very fitting celebration if you ask  me.

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

A Beautiful Baby Boy

Two weeks ago a little angel joined our family.  My brother Rob and his wife had a gorgeous new baby boy.  His name is Rex.

(Editors note: I don’t know who this chubby-looking woman is holding the baby next to Annabelle, but she is wearing my wedding ring.  And necklace.  And belt.)

Baby Rex

Annabelle and I were en route to Paso Robles, California for the NRCHA Derby when Rex made his entrance to this world.  I could just hear Rob beaming with pride over the texts when he sent the first picture of little Rex out into the world.

Because we were gone for a whole week, we didn’t get to meet Rex until he was a eight days old.  Annabelle took to him right away, being the confirmed baby-lover that she is.

Annabelle and Rex

I took Rex at the beginning of our visit and held him for almost two hours, walking around cooing and swaying until he went to sleep.  Rob and Mel tried to take him from me several times (I think they were a little worried I wasn’t going to give him back), but I just kept on holding him until I was forced to relinquish him to my daughter and his big sister, Emma.

A, Emma Baby Rex

I was most surprised by the level of interest that Batman displayed in his tiny cousin. He even forego an extra helping of chocolate syrup on his ice cream to hold Baby Rex.

Unfortunately, by that time Rex was getting very hungry and not a little mad, and he didn’t exhibit the same level of enthusiasm as Batman did.

I am sure they will be best buddies someday.  But not this day.

Baby Rex is Mad!

Yesterday we joined several friends and family members in throwing a little welcome party for Rex.

I made this really yummy cake for the party.  Oh wait, did I say ‘made’?  I meant I bought it from Pastry Perfection.  They do a good job on cakes.

Doesn’t Mel look beautiful as a new mommy?

Mommy Baby and Cake

I did briefly channel Martha as I made these little pineapple boats and filled them with the cut pieces of pineapple and some freshly sliced peaches.

Fruit Boat

Baby Rex was passed around plenty at the party, because of course everybody wanted to hold him.

This is pretty much how he handled the entire afternoon.  He is the sweetest little baby I have met in a long time.

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After we all visited and ate some snacks, we watched Mel open the big pile of presents in the living room.

So many presents

She got lots and lots of nice stuff for Rex.  Clothes and blankets; diapers and even a changing table.

But what we all waited for was this:

Giant Present

Mel saved the giant present in the middle of the table until the very end.  Then she was kind enough to let the kids help with the unveiling.

Lots of Help

The box held a, if not life-sized, then very large, soft stuffed bear.

Giant Bear

The kids were enthralled, but Baby Rex slept right through the whole thing.  I’m sure he’ll grow to appreciate the present before too long though.

The best part of the party for me was getting to finally meet my sister-in-law’s mom, sister and brother-in-law, who are all visiting from out-of-state to get to know the new baby.  Although I didn’t have the presence of mind to take photos of them (or to take my camera at all, hence the sub-prime images from my phone) you can trust me:  they are the warmest, funniest and most down-to-earth people you will ever meet.

Just like Mel.

I couldn’t be happier for the new parents.  Like me, Mel waited until a bit later in life to have her first baby, and I think that makes the appreciation of the miracle even a little more poignant.  I can’t wait to watch Rex grow and flourish under the multitudes of love that I know he will enjoy.

Welcome Baby Rex.  We love you.

Categories: Kids Are Funny Creatures, Life in the Country | Tags: , | 2 Comments

RIP Perry the Pigeon

If you did not read the post from yesterday about Perry the Pigeon you might want to do that first, to give you the background on the following story.  Or not.

I am sad to report that Perry the Pigeon has Perished.  My much hoped for expungement of my dismal animal rescue record was not to be.  When I returned home this morning from taking the kids to D&B to pick up some cracked corn for Perry and then dropping said wee ones off at preschool, this is what I found. I don’t know if he succumbed to his injuries by the dogs and cats yesterday (likely) or the rigors of his photo shoot in the hands of Handsome Hubby this morning, but he was dead.

Dead Bird

Handsome Hubby suggested that I put Perry in a ziploc bag and freeze him to save him for training Winston the Maniac Birddog Puppy a little later in the spring, but I knew that wouldn’t fly with the kids (har har). When I picked them up from preschool a couple of hours later, the first question they asked was of course “How’s Perry?!”  I told them the truth, that Perry had passed away. Annabelle is my stoic one.  She shrugged and said “That’s OK Mom.  Pigeons are really dirty birds anyway and they poop all over everything.”  Zachary was very quiet.  I knew this meant trouble.

You see, Zach had gone into such a state of despair after the death of Bluey, the Blue Betta fish (we’re pretty clever with names around here) that I had to make an emergency run to PetCo that same afternoon to purchase a new, red, Betta fish.  That the kids named….wait for it…..Reddy.

Anyway, Zach was pretty calm all the way home until he walked in the door and looked in the box.  Then the hysterics began.  He was so upset that I almost started crying, and I believe that I made it pretty clear how I feel about pigeons in the original Perry story.  Zach wailed.  His little face turned red and big fat tears rolled down his cheeks.  He asked over and over again if I thought that Perry was *really* dead and if I thought he might come back to life.  He was beyond consolation.

I finally calmed him down a little bit by suggesting that he could choose one of his old baby blankets to bury Perry in. He chose a nice little blue and white cotton blanket (I would like to say right now that if the blanket that appears in the following photo is one you gave Zach as a baby gift….I’m sorry).  We put the bird down on the blanket and Annabelle came up with the idea of sprinkling a little of the cracked corn on the blanket so he would have something to eat on the way to heaven.  Nice touch, I thought.

Bird on Blanket

Then we wrapped Perry up in a nice tidy little package that dripped small pieces of cracked corn all over the hardwood floor.

Annabelle hold pigeon

Zach was still too upset to even consider touching the bundle, but Annabelle happily picked it up and carried it outside.

We had chosen a nice little spot in the orchard outside our yard where (most importantly for mommy, the digger) the dirt was nice and soft.  I dug the hole, every strike of the shovel punctuated by the wailing of my three year old son.  When I thought I was finished, he made me dig it deeper.  Twice.

kids look in hole

Finally we were ready.  I would like to say that Annabelle gently placed the poor deceased bird in the hole, but she actually just tossed him in.

Annabelle inspects package

I straightened the blanket before I took the photo.

Then we put the dirt on top and put some rocks to cover it so the cats and dogs wouldn’t try to dig it up.  Annabelle helped. Zach just watched and cried.

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When it was all said and done, Zach stood for several minutes just looking at the rocks.  And crying.  I felt so bad I almost offered to take him to get a hamster at PetCo.  He really wants a hamster.  I don’t.

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Then we went in the house.  Zach was still sniffling.  Annabelle is ever the helper in little brother management.  She said “You know Zach, it’s not that bad that Perry died.  Pigeons are very dirty birds and they poop all over the horses in the barn, and they even poop on your head.”

Zach thought long and hard about this.  Then he stopped crying, made a big face, and said “EEWWWWWWWW!!!  That is so gross.  I HATE pigeons!” and he hasn’t mentioned Perry since.

I am SO glad I didn’t offer up the hamster.

Categories: Kids Are Funny Creatures, Life in the Country | Tags: , , | 3 Comments

Perry the Pigeon

I would like to say in my defense that I thought it was a dove.  You know, cooing, chocolates……mate for life, that sort of thing.

The kids were outside playing happily, Batman was wearing the cowboy costume that he checked out from school (note in the second picture that he has added his sister’s pink spurs to the ensemble).

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I was in the house having a nice glass of pinot grigio (OK, who am I kidding.  It was the regular cheap swill I always drink).

Suddenly the back sliding glass door flew open in a dramatic fashion and Horsecrazy rushed in.  “Mom! Toby caught a bird!”  Now that WAS news.  Toby is our old man dog, almost thirteen, pretty much completely deaf and he can’t see that great either.  I rushed to the yard to see just what type of feathered creature was so frail that it could be caught by such a feeble old dog. Toby was settling in to his favorite spot on the yard with a small gray creature in his mouth.  It was the exact same spot he settles into when Handsome Husband throws him a raw beef bone or the kids throw one of the puppy’s chewies outside.  You get the picture.

I yelled at Toby to put the bird down, but as I said, he can’t hear anyway, and then I rushed to the house to get a pair of gloves. I removed the bird from his mouth and looked it over.  It was pretty much limp with a few small feathers sticking out in various places on it’s little body.  I was pretty sure a wing was broken. It seemed comatose, and death was obviously certain. What to do…..my two wee children were looking at me expectantly, like I could fix all this. Huh.

Inspiration flashed, and I said “Let’s just take the bird out and put it on the haystack!” in my happy voice.  “Then its friends will come and get it.”  The kids looked at me dubiously, but after I secured Toby on a chain (he was none too happy with me) they trekked out with me to the shed, where I placed the surely soon-to-be dead bird on the second bale off the ground.  The kids insisted on sitting there with it, so after a few token attempts to get them to come in the house I returned to my waiting glass of Pinot.

I forgot about the cats.

We have three barn/pet cats who are avid hunters.  Three minutes later a hysterical Horsecrazy came running into the house.  “MOM THE CATS ARE GOING TO GET THE BIRD!!!” We rushed outside to find Batman in a similar state of panic, jumping up and down in consternation as three hungry barn cats fished for the bird, who had managed to dive into a crack between the bales. I guess it wasn’t quite so dead as I thought it was.

Now, anyone who has known me for a long time knows I have a long history of animal rescue on my resume.  There was the baby pheasant rescued from the swather that I drowned trying to make it drink milk from a plastic cup, and the entire litter of kittens that I accidentally baked to death by placing them on top of a heating pad in a little box when their mother was killed by a tractor.  I said history.  Not successful history.  In my defense, there was no internet back then to look up proper procedures for animal saving. Nonetheless, nowadays I like to think of myself as reformed.

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Apparently not.

Horsecrazy Annabelle does know there is an internet.  She knows that you can look up most things on it.  And when we determined that bird wasn’t dead after pulling it out from behind the bales, she asked in her sweetest voice “Mom, could we maybe bring it in the house and look up on the computer what to do?” Ah, the wonders of technology.  And a five year old. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

We brought the bird in and settled him for the night, taping the box shut and placing it in a warm place, exactly as suggested on the wild bird saving web page we found.  I was sure he would be dead by morning.

He wasn’t.

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Handsome Hubby let me know that he was a pigeon, not a dove.  I hate pigeons.  Flying Rats.  Scourge of a Barn.  Good only for training bird dogs.  And target practice.  Then Handsome Husband said the following words…  “Annabelle, what do you think we should do with the bird?” I said he was Handsome, not smart.

Now we have a half dead pet pigeon living in a dog crate in the garage.  His name is Perry.  I’ll keep you posted on his recovery.

Categories: Kids Are Funny Creatures, Life in the Country | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

Organizing Batman

Before you proceed to read this post or look too closely at the pictures I’d like to say a couple of things.  First, I am not a hoarder.  Really.  Second, although I’d like to say otherwise, these picture are actual pictures of our playroom, which was formerly my three year old son, Zachary’s (aka Batman) room.  The pictures are not staged or retouched in any way.  This is really what the room looked like after Batman and his sister left for pre-school this morning.  Third, I keep a relatively clean house.  Most of the time you won’t find an errant shoe in the living room, let alone, well, this.

Batman made the decision a couple of months ago that he wanted to sleep in his older sister’s room.  Since his older sister is only five and doesn’t have a well defined sense of her personal space yet, she okayed the idea.

On a pre-school morning much like this one, I moved Batman’s toddler bed into his sister’s room and reorganized the toy cubbies neatly in its place.  It would be easier to keep both spaces clean, I thought, if the toys lived all in one room and the other was just for sleeping and watching Scooby Doo re-runs.  Unfortunately, I underestimated the destructive power of my two little angels.  Since the play room wasn’t very well set up for storing toys in specific places, stuff just got tossed around.  And tossed around.  And tossed around. Both Batman and his sister are very good at remembering that ONE SINGLE TOY THEY JUST HAVE TO HAVE which unfortunately is usually buried at the bottom of the pile, only to be unearthed by a major expedition involving tossing everything in the entire room.

So, after a few weeks of (sort of) trying to keep it clean and organized, and then a few more of trying to ignore the space when I walked by, this was the appearance of the room this morning.

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Seriously.  I didn’t do a thing but take the picture.  This is what if really looked like.  I’m not proud of it.  But obviously I have no shame.

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After dropping the wee ones at preschool this morning, I made a stop at the local Super WalMart for some supplies.

I bought six really big clear stacking bins, and a couple of little ones. And a box of black trash bags.  Then I went to sorting.  Once I determined the major categories of mess (Balls, Trucks, Dolls, Baby Blankets, Books and Stuffed Animals) I dug in.  It was a couple of hour long process. And very incremental in its momentum.

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I found some interesting things along the way.  Including but not limited to:

A fork

5 quarters

An empty (thank god) plastic bottle of chocolate milk

4 shoes with no mates

I filled a black leaf garbage bag to the hilt with broken toys and ripped out pages of coloring books,  and removed two empty boxes which formerly housed diapers.  When I was all done, it looked like this:

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Pretty spiffy if I do say so myself.

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And I am just certain it will stay looking like this. Because of the bins, you know.  The bins.  Now that there is a proper place for everything it will all stay in its place.  Right.  RIGHT?! I can just hear my friend Shane snickering from here.  And saying “Let’s just see it in a week!”

She’s probably right.  She always is.

Next I tackle the office.

Categories: Kids Are Funny Creatures, Uncategorized | Tags: , | 3 Comments

If I’d had my gun……I woulda killed him!

It was a windy, cold, nasty afternoon here in the beautiful country.  Annabelle, of course, was undeterred.  You see, although we live on a little piece of heaven in the country, the front of our property shares a border with a local park and soccer field.  When the fields are filled with players and their adoring parents Annabelle feels compelled to provide them with a free equine exhibition.

I was happily puttering around the kitchen, doing a little laundry and putting chicken into Handsome Husband’s favorite marinade, when my little darling trotted her sweet black pony over to the horse trailer.  I witnessed this from the kitchen window, and knew pretty well what would happen next.  She ran in, and said in her nicest voice, “Mom, would you saddle Reno for me?” I sighed, (I sigh a lot, as it turns out.  Zach recently asked me to “stop making that noise mom!”) Then I pulled on a jacket and gloves and went out to saddle the pony.  I had a lot of chores to do outside anyway, so I thought I might as well nurture my little girl’s passion while I was at it.

Anyway, if I didn’t mention it, it was very windy outside.  The pony was frisky and in no mood for a spontaneous “Pony Express Meets the Idaho Frontier” rendition.  I saddled him quickly, objecting but eventually conceding to Annabelle’s request to add her pink breast collar to the horsey ensemble (when she puts on a show she goes all out).  As I proceeded to bridle the little pony angel, I could tell he was not in the mood.  I put the pink reins around his neck before I slipped the halter off, and put my right arm over his tiny ears to pull the headstall up.

Low and behold, the little son of a buck pulled back.  Thinking I would give him a quick tune up, I whacked him gently on the off side cheek – a “come back to me sweetness tap” really.  Reno objected to this mightally, reared back, pulled the bridle out of my hands and proceeded to drag me about twenty feet by the neon pink roping reins which were looped around his neck.  I finally let go over by the propane tank, and the little sweetie proceeded to buck like a saddle bronc across the open grass area where we park the trailers.  He dragged between his legs the most expensive pieces of tack I have purchased in some time, a cute little hand tooled headstall supporting a very nice pony bit which cost at least 20% of the price of the pony himself.  And he wasn’t a cheap pony.

Although my  wee children were delighted by the escapade, I wasn’t, and I am pretty sure I said some words that would not be acceptable at the fancy Charter School next door to us, should they ever deign to admit us in the first place.  I chased the little bronco across the field, and by that time we had attracted the attention of several of the soccer parents, and even a few bored players.  I caught up to him by the neighbor’s old horse, and thought the game would be over quickly at that point when he lowered his head to indulge in some leftover alfalfa that had blown from the feeder.  As soon as I approached the little sucker he peeled right, mashing his expensive bit with a hind food and bolted for the haystack.  The next attempt to corral him was less pretty. I was yelling at Annabelle to get in front of him (after a quick check of the wind to make sure the soccer moms couldn’t hear) and we nearly had him before he was off again, running full tilt around the corner, the carefully tooled headstall being ground to a pulp beneath his horrid little feet.

He stopped around the corner this time, close to his own pen, by a small stack of alfalfa hay.  That is his weakness.

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I was really mad at him.  But I refrained from doing anything really diabolical, because the kids were watching. I calmly bridled him and boosted Annabelle aboard.  Zach was still laughing when he went to board his own ride.  They had a good day after that, pursuing their respective passions.

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But as I believe I mentioned before……it was a good thing I didn’t have my gun.

Categories: Horse Adventures, Life in the Country | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

First Horse Show for a Horsecrazy Girl

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It was a much anticipated event.  After months of preperation it was the day of my five year old daughter Annabelle’s (aka Horsecrazy’s) first horse show.  She had been practicing non-stop, both on the back of her horse Grumpy (every single day, rain or shine, cold or colder….she was out there….just ask me, the groom and saddler.) and in the evening she practiced by running around the house with a large red halter strapped to her torso, wielding dog-leash reins as she did sliding stops on the kitchen floor and spins in the living room.

She was very very excited, and I was very very excited for her.  And nervous.  Because a horse show is a very fun and social event, but there is a lot of waiting around. And it can get pretty boring even for those of us consumed with catching up with friends we hadn’t seen since last year and scoping out other people’s new horses. And did I mention Horsecrazy is five?

We started out early on that sunny Saturday morning.  It was the usual horse show morning rush to get out the door, and I was glad I had taken the time to get things organized the night before.  We had spent the previous evening getting the trailer cleaned out and packed, and laying out our clothes so that all we had to do was get up and load Grumpy for the forty five minute drive to the show.

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Once we got there, we had to groom.  Annabelle insisted on taking Grumpy’s tail out of the wrap and brushing it out.  His tail was wavy from being braided in the bag and reminded me of a 4H steer tail at the fair – all fluffy and teased looking. She thought he looked grand.

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We saddled up and went inside.  Annabelle sat on Chic since I was going to ride Grumpy in an early class to school him. Did I mention that there  is a lot of sitting around at horse shows?  Annabelle was just one of the girls.  Well, one of the girls who sent people at her beck and call for “Hot chocolate please!”  and “Could I have another doughnut?”  By the end of the day she had eaten four doughnuts. Good thing my friend was running concessions. I’m pretty sure she didn’t put all the doughnuts on my tab.

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Of course she couldn’t resist a little pre-class spinning.  And spinning.  And spinning.

As it turned out, Grumpy was a little, well, grumpy, and didn’t behave himself in the show pen at all during my schooling class.  So adopted auntie Kris decided that Annabelle should show her horse Chic instead.  Did I mention that Chic is an NRCHA World Champion Bridle Horse? Yeah, well he is.  Kris had formerly (and very kindly) offered to let me show Chic in a small local series of shows since I was without a show horse this season.  I have been very excited about that for weeks.  Somehow during the day that all changed, and I was bumped off the world champion by my own daughter, who will now show Chic in the small local series of shows.  She did tell me that I could show Grumpy if I wanted instead. Sigh.

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Annabelle’s excursion into the show pen went very well.  I ran into the ring with her and stood in the middle, giving her directions with which to execute a short and simple pattern which vaguely resembled the pattern the rest of the people in the class were doing.  I wouldn’t recommend this sort of approach during a regular horse show, but in this small “Wooly Mammoth School ‘Em and Fool ‘Em” show everyone was very indulgent.

When she was finished everyone cheered and clapped.  I believe she felt it was only her due.

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Chic was leaving for a horse show series in Arizona the next day, so after the show was over he needed a bubble bath.  Annabelle was up for the challenge.  Even when he stepped on her boot with a hind foot and she fell over flopping like a fish until I could come and rescue her by pushing him over a step.  He didn’t even realize that he was standing on her or why she was squalling.  He is calm that way.

After Chic was all cleaned up and drying in the sunshine, it was time for more socializing.  And who better to visit than the nice concession lady with the puppies!  She offered Annabelle some free chili, but my little darling politely declined.  Thank heaven all the doughnuts were gone.

The drive home was filled with excited conversation and many questions about “Who won mom?”, and “I really think that I was the best one out there and I was definitely on the nicest horse, wasn’t I”?”  Ye gods, I have created a monster.  Well, Kris has.

Categories: Horse Adventures | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

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