Monday, August 31, 2009

The Show Update

Horses: When we made the decision to compete in breed shows this year, specifically APHA or American Paint Horse Association shows, we knew the competition would be tough, especially this being Equestrian Girl's first year cantering. We had no expectations of even placing - just showing up and they'd do their best. We were pleasantly surprised at the first show we went to on Memorial Day weekend - a very big regional show - when Equestrian Girl and Stanley actually did pretty darn well even getting a couple of blue ribbons.

Saturday was their 3rd APHA show and this one was fairly small - usually 7 riders in her 13 and under classes and about 11 in the Novice Youth classes. But the competition was still tough. And the weather was even tougher. The morning was brisk, really brisk. Almost all the horses were feeling pretty frisky including Stanley. The wind picked up and brought short but frequent rain showers making for just a lovely cold, wet afternoon. But my girl stuck it out and had placings in almost every class and quite often middle of the pack placings with both judges. We had a lot of fun, met some new people and are really looking forward to the fall shows!

I should probably mention that Equestrian Girl and I took Stanley on a little trail ride tonight. Well, she took the horse and I hoofed it on foot. It was good exercise! And ol' Stanley loved it!

Motocross: Well....if Motocross Boy doesn't get his buns in gear this week, he might not be going to the Baja Brawl. He's been walking a pretty thin line and it got even thinner today. Scott is ready to throw in the towel and not take him for a very strong lesson. My bet is that they'll still go. But we'll see.

Homeschooling: That K12 curriculum I've been eyeballing is on sale for 3 days - up to 40% off though I can't figure out if what I want will be the full 40% off or not... I'm still not desperate to buy it and I'm pretty happy with what we have going right now so we'll see. I don't exactly have money burning a hole in my pocket!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

One down...

I'm running on low...really low so pictures and maybe even video will follow tomorrow with the report on yesterday's horse show. Today got consumed with unloading the trailer and a 4-H Party and I still have school stuff to prepare for tomorrow along with having to leave for work early - darn paying job!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Next Three Weekends

Horses: Tomorrow we leave for an APHA show on Saturday. Our plan is to get there around 5:00 and have plenty of time to bathe and band before dark. The problem is that it's supposed to rain pretty much all day tomorrow and this place has shed row barns - so no real "inside". This isn't the end of the world - just means having to band in Stanley's stall I guess. But the good news is that Saturday should be partly sunny and cool - a high of only 65. Great weather for a horse show! And this will be the last show for quite a while...we don't have another one until October 3 & 4!

Motocross: The boys are hoping to go practice on Sunday but that will depend on the weather and how wet it is from the weekend rain. But then it's race, race, race Labor Day weekend!! The Baja Brawl is one of the biggest motocross events in the state - trailers start pulling in on Thursday to get a good spot and they don't even start racing until Saturday. But there's lots more than just motocross with stuff like golf cart races, bmx bike tricks off the ramp into the pond, etc. Considering this place has no running water and just port-a-potties I'll leave it to your imagination what everyone looks and smells like by the last day. Equestrian Girl and I will probably sneak home a few times for showers and real toilets. Motocross Boy won't even notice he's dirty. And boy oh boy will he be dirty!

Homeschooling: We are almost back to full swing after this week and it's been a good one. Not too much complaining, the work is challenging but not too hard. Both kids really like our new writing program through Vantage Learning and that's a plus. Equestrian Girl has taken to watching and listening her Spanish lessons on a little DVD player before she goes to bed. I've heard that studying something and then sleeping on it is a good way to remember we'll see if this works for her. Considering my Spanish is pretty limited, I might have to call my Mexican sister in law to test her for me!!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

On being organized

I like to think I'm organized but I'm usually not.

Horses: This weekend before we left for that show on Sunday morning I had everything we needed right down to plenty of drinks and food. What I didn't have was Equestrian Girl's White cowboy hat for her Western classes. Oops. I have created check lists for other people to use on what they need for shows but do you think I could use them myself?

Motocross: Hubby isn't so organized in packing his motocross trailer and he usually forgets ONE thing every single time. Once he forgot their pillows. Oops. And he almost always forgets to bring warmer clothes for those chilly Michigan evenings.

Homeschooling: I'm doing better staying organized in this arena - it probably helps that I spent a LOT of time getting that way before we started schooling again this summer. I'm still on the fence about the K12 curriculum but what we are doing now is working just fine so I might not mess with it until Equestrian Girl says she bored with it.'s been a rather stressful couple of days for a variety of reasons and its amazing how stress saps my energy level. I'm just drained.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

A Big Day for the Small Fry

I'm not sure how I'm even calling my kids Small Fry when one of them is at least 6 inches taller than me right now....

Horses: It was Equestrian Girl's last open show in the series she has been doing this summer and she ended with a bang getting High Point for the day for her age group! We won't know for a while if she won anything for year end but she's definitely in the running.

Motocross: Motocross Boy ended up with a 3rd place trophy in the open 65 class and had more than respectable finishes of 5th place in both the 65 senior and 85 junior classes! That's the best he's done all summer so he's a happy boy and Dad sounded pretty darn happy too - they aren't home yet.

Homeschooling: The kids probably think I should give them the day off tomorrow for their big wins and they'll tell me, "Mom, we know you have to be too tired to get lessons ready for tomorrow" but sneaky mom got it all together on Saturday....heh heh!!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Family Time

Last night we met my parents for dinner along with my sister and her boyfriend and her daughter (that's them on the left all sort of hunching over!). The "greeter" at the door agreed to take the picture so nobody would be left out. Our family is in the back and cutting up the middle and of course, my parents are on the right - they leave back for Florida this morning after being here since 4th of July.

Motocross: The boys are packed and ready to leave for MPX this afternoon. The weather forecast for today is perfect - 70 and partly cloudy. Tomorrow will be a bit warmer and sunny which still isn't all that bad. Sure beats 80 or 90! Practice with the rebuilt bike went good so they are pretty pumped and hopefully for a good race.

Horses: Today is beauty parlor day for Stanley. We'll go over to the barn later this afternoon to give him his bath, trim him all up nice, and band his mane. He'll have to suffer the indignities of wearing his pink sleazy hoodie in front of his barn friends for the night until we pick him up in the morning. Madison is hoping for a great day - she's in contention for year end high point and really, really wants to do well!

Homeschooling: A few days ago I was immersed in reviewing Switched on I'm stuck on K12 Curriculum. My oh so traditional schooling of self is rearing it's ugly head and shoving me in this direction. I just have to read 300 more reviews to make sure it's what I want to do!!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Decisions Decisions

Homeschooling: I really can't explain why I have avoided looking into the Switched on Schoolhouse curriculum but I have. Until a few days ago. There are so many things I like about it and so many things that scare me. I've read opinions on it until my eyes crossed and some people love it and some people hate it. I really don't NEED another curriculum for this year. I'm pretty happy with what we are using but some pieces of it require a lot of work on my part. Since I work full time - that's not so good. I just don't know...if there was any way to "perfect" SOS I'd be all over it...

Horses: We had Stanley moved out of the big pasture for the next couple of weeks to see if he stops getting so beat up. Also brought over a big water bucket for him to use in his little "isolation" pasture. Now we will know if it's happening in the paddock or pasture.

Motocross: The boys took the rebuilt bike to practice at Baja yesterday ran great!!! Everyone said Motocross Boy is going to be a serious contender at the MPX race this weekend.

Monday, August 17, 2009

A Weekend "Up North"

I took the camera but I'll be darned if I ever picked it up!

We drove north this weekend to our little cottage in the woods leaving most of our wired world behind. Well...I checked my email on my Blackberry and Equestrian Girl snuck her laptop into the golf course restaurant for their WiFi connection and Motocross Boy did the same with my IPod. But mostly it was just rest and relaxation!

Saturday we went golfing with one of Scott's friends who was up alone for the weekend. Equestrian Girl drove my cart and was chauffeur and the rest of us golfed. I'm not much of a golfer - this was only my second time this year - but I did remarkably well as did Motocross Boy. After golfing we had some snacks and drinks in the restaurant. I also finished the book I brought to read.

Sunday was a slow start but we ended up at one of the lakes with a cooler of drinks and sandwiches. Motocross Boy had bought worms and went fishing until he tangled his line to the point of no hope. Scott and I spent most of the time observing the people around us - mostly the teenaged girls, their boyfriends and their toddler children and praying that our kids have more sense.

Motocross: Scott brought the Boy his bikes so he buzzed around the track in the yard and on the trails behind the house. Later, playing golf with Equestrian Girl in the yard, he wacked at a bees nest a few too many times and got stung 9 times from head (literally) to toe. Kinda ruined his night.

Horses: We had left Stanley with the boo-boo on his foot so I asked the BO's son to put medicine on it every day while we were gone. He did and it didn't look too bad tonight!! But the poor boy is still getting beat up - has a new scrape on his face now. Equestrian Girl wants to keep him isolated for the next two weeks - no big pasture for sure and preferably not in the paddock with his buddies either. I hate to do that to him but I have to agree he's looking pretty ragged lately. I might try his fly sheet first and see how that goes and then ask to have him separated. The next two shows aren't all that important but the two in October are so we have a while to get him healed up.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Horse News

Horses: Our Stanley is almost famous! A while ago I sent in a picture and short story to Platinum Performance, the supplement company we use for Stanley's supplements, as part of a contest to win some free product. A couple days ago they informed me they were sending me a t-shirt and some free canine supplements and then today they let me know they posted Stanley and Equestrian Girl's picture and our story on their blog.

In less happier horse news, Stanley has ANOTHER new boo-boo. He managed to cut the back of his hoof/heel including the coronet band. He didn't seem to be lame on it and it wasn't particularly deep but it's in a bad spot. Of course, this is right after we took off the bell boots because he really didn't "need" them. Dang.

Motocross: Tomorrow is Motocross Boy's 12th birthday!!!!

Homeschooling: I'm truly amazed but I think both kids finished all their school work for the week. Equestrian Girl did some extra reading and Motocross Boy popped over to an educational website to "learn a bit about knee replacement surgery". Go figure.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Equestrian Girl

Horses: Before anyone thinks badly of me, Equestrian Girl ALWAYS wears a helmet. She only took it off for this picture and was actually in my hand.
Just to prove it, here's another one taken a few minutes earlier in the arena when she's wearing it!! While Stanley is a very good boy and in the 9 months that we've owned him he's never done anything stupid, he is still a horse with his own brain and I'll never dismiss that.

Ol' Stanley was not too interested in having to work today after several days of rest and relaxation and really no serious riding since the last show on August 2nd! Tomorrow Equestrian Girl has a lesson with Eliza so both of them will get a work out by the time she gets done with them!

Motocross: Motocross Boy really, really wants to take his bikes up north with us this weekend and we really WANT to bring them. School work and chores that haven't been done are looming over his head....

Homeschooling: There's a big sale at the Scholastic Warehouse tomorrow. I'm going to go and try to refrain from spending too much. But how much is too much when it's for your children's education? Dare I get up to the amount that is spent per child in public school???

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

More on Motocross Boy

Motocross: My boy is a blast. Nearly everyone who meets him thinks he is a good kid and so much fun to be around. He can have a conversation with anyone (so much for an anti-social homeschool kid) about anything. I snapped these pics this morning. We realized the other day we had NO recent pictures of our boy's face. Sure, we have it inside his helmet wearing goggles but none where you could actually SEE him!!

Homeschooling: I was speaking with an attorney today that I am acquainted with through work and he asked how my kids were doing in school this year. I explained that we've been homeschooling for going on 2 years...and started explaining how successful we've been and how it's been such a blessing to our family and just how passionate I've become about the whole topic!

I just read about a new study that found that not only are homeschoolers testing higher on standardized testing than public school kids but that they are doing it with no regard to socioeconomic status OR how much their family spends on their curriculum. The average family surveyed spent less than $600 per year per student. We probably spent close to that the first year but have since reduced that amount dramatically by utilizing online curriculums and the public library. But what is amazing about that amount is that it is so significantly less than what the government spends annually on EACH public school student. The amount varies but from what I've read it's around $5000 per student per year here in Michigan. And look at the number of schools and students that are failing even with all that money to spend...amazing. I can teach my children for less than 10% of the money and in less than half the time and with better results than the government run public schools.

Horses: It's been a decidedly non-horsey day. Equestrian Girl hasn't even asked me about going to the barn or riding... But we are once again remodeling our master bathroom (about the 3rd time in 17 years - no moss growing under our toes!) and I'm going to maneuver for a western/horse theme. Hubby doesn't know it yet though. Shhhh!!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Motocross Boy

Motocross: One of my goals this year has been to do more with Motocross Boy's motocross pictures. First of all, it's very difficult to take good pictures since 1) he's generally moving very fast and 2) he's usually quite far away. Since I've been messing with Photoshop quite a bit I thought I should work on some motocross pics. I might have even posted this one before in a different form. I learned how to remove the background from a picture and just keep the "object". In this case it's the boy on his 65 cc KTM. Then I used a cookie cutter to cut the arrow out of some black and white checkered background paper. I added some "style" to it and voila! A groovy new picture! I also created a little motocross border to use on another picture when I get around to it. I've been lucky enough to find whose website is Scrappy Pony Designs. She has lots of horsey type stuff to use for digital scrapping but I can't talk her into creating motocross stuff and nobody else seems to do it either. Might have to be MY niche if I ever get around to mastering this stuff...

Horses: I have decided our horse is just prone to thrush and I have to deal with it. It's been so dry around here the past couple of weeks his heels were actually TOO dry and were getting hard and cracked so we started moisturizing them (I take better care of my horse's feet than my own by a long shot). By the time the farrier came last Thursday they were looking pretty good and he made them look awesome. And then it rained all weekend and the ol' boy stood around in a muddy paddock for a couple of days and we ignored him because it was raining and hotter than blazes. Last night his feet were packed with mud. When I finally got it all picked out - the thrush was back. Not bad, but starting. Sheesh.

Homeschooling: The kids were invited over to my parent's place yesterday to go swimming with their cousin. That was followed up by a 2:00 eye appointment for Equestrian Girl. By the time they got home after a stop at Costco with Dad, there was little time for school work. Equestrian Girl was actually upset about it - she wants to get it ALL done today. Motocross Boy never even mentioned it. No surprise.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Smokin' Hot...

Today is about one of the hottest days we've had in this unusually cool summer. And since I'm posting a picture of my refrigerator most would probably think I stood in front of it to stay cool. Nope. I cleaned it.

Homeschooling: I literally spent hours and hours Friday night and Saturday getting us organized for the school year. I created over 20 spreadsheets - one for each kid for every subject that gives that state standards and is linked to the curriculum that will be used to meet that standard. I covered Math, Language Arts, Writing (yes, part of Language Arts but I treat is separately), Social Studies, Science, Arts & Music, Health & Fitness, Technology, Spanish and American Government (and I do realize this is part of Social Studies but another one I want to treat separately since it's not really supposed to be taught for 6th & 7th grades). I also created chore charts for everyone. Hehehe...told the kids there is a new sheriff in town!!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

We need the rain but....

The radar is showing the whole state covered with rain...and it is likely to last all day. We had planned on doing a heavy duty "summer" cleaning today with no horse shows or races to attend so we turned on the A/C last night along with all the ceiling fans. I awoke this morning to lots of little black dust dog hair rolled into balls with the help of the ceiling fans! Good thing I realized what they were right away or they could have been pretty scary since it was still quite dark with the rain.

Homeschool Buyers Co-op
#1 Way to Save

Above is the logo and link for the Homeschool Buyer's Co-Op. I'm not sure where I first found out about it but I did join last week and have since purchased "My Access Writing" and "e-Tap" curriculums through them. Both were a great deal over what I could have purchased on my own. I saved $140 on e-Tap and about $50 on My Access Writing. I doubt I could have found coupon codes anywhere else to save that much and the Co-Op made it really easy since everything was in one place and you purchase the curriculum directly through them too. They also have great deals on online curriculums like BrainPop - which I paid full price for last spring! That one bums me out since I have a son that really does well with BrainPop but maybe I can renew through them? Tis the season for curriculum shopping and the Co-Op just made it a little cheaper for my strained budget!

Horses: I took a picture of the cut on Stanley's side with my cell phone camera but can't figure out how to get it on my computer. There are limits to my tech abilities! It is looking much better as of last night. Equestrian girl hasn't ridden him with a saddle since I think the pad will rub on it but she did bang around on him the past two nights bareback. The first night was truly just messing around with some barrels and low jumps. Last night they worked on a little equitation too since she was using a bridle and not just a halter and lead rope!

Motocross: Good news on the bike repair - even better than getting free labor. The part that broke and left pieces of metal throughout the engine is being replaced by the manufacturer for free and the sum total of other parts needed is only about $200. Yea!!!

Thursday, August 6, 2009


Homeschooling: I've ignored this topic more than planned the past month as we sort of "slacked" on the school work. But this week we are back to a scaled down schedule of lessons (about 3 days worth). Next week will be the same since it's Motocross Boy's birthday on Friday but then we'll be back up to 4-5 days per week.

When we first started homeschooling I was overwhelmed with all the curriculum choices and almost felt like I needed to use something different for each subject and was very intent on using "hard copy" stuff like I used as a student. As time went on I started using more and more online resources, both free and subscription. I have a zillion bookmarks of various websites but have a hard time actually USING them by incorporating them into our weekly plans. I keep contemplating some of the homeschooling "planners" for sale and can't just make myself take the plunge. I'm a good planner and don't know why I can't plan this better myself. Perhaps it has something to do with not making long range plans FIRST. I'm more of a week by week type of planner. Philosophically I know this is wrong - you should make long range plans first then break them down to more manageable plans and goals. Realistically, this doesn't work for me.

Thus far some of the online curriculums we have used have all been sort of "cartoonish" if that's a word. I've been browsing around this website: . I really like that is uses "real" stuff and I personally love the Discovery Channel's educational shows. Their "curriculum", if you can call it that, isn't cheap. $265 for the year...though I think I have found a way to get it for $199. (More on that later!) If I use public school's 180 days per year it's $0.73 per kid per day. Not that bad I guess.

Horses: Equestrian Girl stopped at the barn on her way home from a friend's house yesterday afternoon and Stanley's cut on his side looked much better. We will go back over today and see how he's doing and possibly ride if it doesn't look like it will split open.

Motocross: The boys are heading to a friend's tonight who has offered to help rebuild the transmission!! Yipee!!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

This & That

Horses: This is Equestrian Girl's English Equitation pattern at the show on Sunday. The pivot at the far corner is a forehand turn. Stanley stepped into it a bit which was probably the biggest flaw of the pattern. And yes, he's on the wrong lead for the canter, it was supposed to be a counter canter and you can see him fighting it by not wanting to turn! Luckily they have been practicing counter cantering quite a bit because at first he would insist on switching his lead back to the correct one. This is the class where one girl fell off just after her pattern lining up for the rail work and the judge placed her 3rd. Nobody quite understood that - we all though falling off was an automatic DQ.

Motocross: Messed up clutch a
nd blown transmission. But if there is good news its that a friend volunteered to help Scott fix it for FREE. He just has to buy the parts. Whoohoo!!! Happy Dance for that little gift. This guy has two sons that used to race but now one is at college and the other is focused on golf. He misses messing with the bikes apparently.

Speaking of golf...Motocross Boy is at his 3rd lesson today. He left here looking so handsome in his khaki shorts and golf shirt!! I never knew he had such nice clothes...

Homeschooling: They didn't believe me but this morning both kids had assignment sheets waiting for them! Equestrian Girl has already done a good portion of what I assigned her for the week. Motocross Boy hasn't even started. He's going to end up missing out on something as he struggles to get back in the groove of school again...happens every time!

OT: I've been playing around with digital scrapping and slowly learning Photoshop. This is a layout I just did of Equestrian Girl that I thought turned out pretty good.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Recovery Monday

It was a crazy busy weekend!

Horses: Equestrian Girl competed in her 3rd SPUR open show on Sunday. In spite of a rather "unusual" judge, she ended up doing well and getting reserve high point again. Of the 3 SPUR shows she's done at this facility, she's had one high point and 2 reserve high points. But it was a LOOOOONG show and we didn't get home until after 8 last night. We were all in bed by 9:30 and slept like logs.

Motocross: Motocross Boy raced on Sunday too at MPX. Dad forgot the camera so we have no pictures but he did relatively well considering he wasn't really riding his own bike in the 65 classes. It was a rough day for other riders there though. I think there were 3 that ended up in the hospital and one was really bad - they air flighted him from the local hospital to a trauma hospital - probably Hurley or UofM. After that Motocross Boy rode rather cautiously but none of us were complaining...and rather glad to be honest.

Homeschooling: After our rather unscheduled 3 week summer break I told the kids last night that we would start school again on Tuesday this week (Mom needed today off). Motocross Boy says he can't start tomorrow because he has a golf lesson at noon. Equestrian Girl ignored me but I have a feeling she will be glad to get going again.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

A Summer Saturday

Motocross: Report from the track - Motocross Boy blew the transmission on his KTM 65. It just turned into a $1000 trip to the track. Gulp. Another Dad we hardly know came through and is letting him use his son's extra bike. They swapped out the plastic (has his race number on it) and are good to go now. We hope. High winds are turning the area into a dust bowl. They've been watering the track to keep the dust down but not the roads and parking areas so it's getting bad. Scott had to close all the windows on the camper or risk sleeping in a sand castle by tonight.

Horses: We will be heading over to give Stanley his bath and get him banded a little earlier than originally planned. Storms are heading in and I want to get the trailer hooked up and parked before they hit but the forecast for tomorrow is BEAUTIFUL! I'm so excited and Equestrian Girl is getting more than a little antsy. She's only 10 points out of the lead for high point for the season for her age group...and she missed that one show!

Homeschooling: My list of lists includes making a "seasonal cleaning checklist". I won't even comment because that is so hilarious on it's own!

Off Topic: While putting our water bottles on ice this afternoon in the trailer I smelled something bad. While Equestrian Girl went to find the Febreeze, I followed my nose. Big mistake. Sort of. I found a container of taco meat that I had somehow missed removing from the long since turned-off refrigerator. I'm still gagging 2 hours later and wondering why I didn't just toss the tupperware bowl but instead emptied it in my sink and put it in the dishwasher...which of course meant I had to turn the dishwasher ON even though there wasn't much in there because I could bear to wash it. Blech!