Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Cold Season

Homeschooling: One of the things that has been a true blessing with homeschooling is germs. Or I guess I should say the lack of germs. We used to bring home tons of bugs from school and spread them around the family like soft butter. There was hardly a week in school year that SOMEONE didn't have a runny nose or sore throat. Over the past 18 months we've had so few colds floating around our house that I was positively shocked when Equestrian Girl announced she had a sore throat yesterday! What?!?! How dare she? But on hind sight what I thought was just another flare up of his allergies in Motorcross Boy was quite likely a cold several days ago. I'm gargling my Listerine like crazy and hoping that it doesn't hit me before the show this weekend. No doubt Equestrian Girl will be mostly over it by then.

I had to haul out the big guns today and put a very robust parental controls software on Motocross Boy's laptop. Sigh.

Horses: Stanley is such a good boy. He had been brought in from the pasture just before we got there. He knew dinner was slated to be delivered any minute and did in fact begin to be served just as we tied him up. All his friends were getting their grain when he had to get saddled and taken into the arena to ride. In spite of that supreme disappointment, he was as good as gold for Equestrian Girl as always. Last night they practiced a pattern that included a lope, stop, pivot on the haunches. All three require a pretty firm application of the spurs and Equestrian Girl was hitting those buttons pretty close together. Poor Stanley just got confused. "Do I stop, lope, or turn?" We had to back off and do each independently and then slowly start combining the three with distinct pauses between each cue. Stanley figured it out right away and Equestrian Girl was close behind. They tried it again tonight and nailed it the first time!! They are soooo ready for this show!!

Motocross: Scott asked me to send him some of the 300 pictures I took last weekend. I told him to write down which ones he wanted...he narrowed it down to EIGHTY-EIGHT!! Maybe I'll just delete the rest. If I take 400 pictures at every event I'll blow up my computer.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Motocross Mania at MPX

Motocross: It was a wild weekend of motocross with just about every kind of weather Michigan can bring on in 24 hours. I just downloaded over 400 pictures I took with the new camera...after deleting any that were even a little bit bad, I still have over 300 to sort through!! Yeah, I was a little bit trigger happy but got some awesome shots. I love this first one - it's almost a silhouette of Motocross Boy and the silos in the back are from the Pioneer Sugar factory. We were told they are processing sugar beets right now but I sure couldn't smell anything sweet!

The next one is Motocross Boy with someone hot on his tail in the 85 race and then the boy talking to Dad after the last race while putting the bikes back in the trailer. It was a fun day but no trophies...

Horses: We went over to ride Stanley today...he has a couple of new scrapes on his face that I'm not sure are from Sunday or today. Luckily they aren't real deep so they should heal up pretty quick. I had the Barn Owner keep his blanket on him today since it stayed so chilly. That was good - it kept him warm - but the top of it got pretty wet and it leaked a bit on his withers. I had brought a rain sheet and fleece under-blanket with us so we put those on and brought the other blanket home to dry. I need to spray it with water-proofing stuff too...

Only a few more days until the Sapphire Classic paint show in Mason. The forecast isn't great - high 60 and showers. I'm okay with 60 but I could do without rain. The arena is indoors but the practice rings are outside. Ick.

Homeschooling: Motocross Boy just lost another trick. He had been telling Dad he couldn't do stuff because I hadn't "approved it" on the computer so he was stuck and couldn't move on. Well Dad now knows how to do the approvals so we took away another excuse!

I read an interesting article today about some professor who thinks education could be improved if there were less students in the classes and the teachers had fewer papers to grade. I have only two students and grade very few papers since most of their assignments are on line and are graded for me. Guess my kids ought to be geniuses!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Our Creative Juices are Flowing

Homeschooling & Horses: One of Equestrian Girl's favorite online activities is playing Howrse. It's a community where you breed, care for, buy, sell and all sort of other stuff with horses. You can make money, create horses including the elusive unicorn, etc. While I was aware that my daughter was making a lot of money on Howrse making and selling banners and avatars, I hadn't paid all that much attention to them. Today she was creating a horse for someone that would look like a horse I've long admired at Pinto shows. As she worked on it I realized how much talent it takes to do what she was doing! She was shifting between using GIMP and Photoshop and her ability to "color" electronically was amazing. The result is on the left. I think he's amazing! On the right is my creation. I stole her horse and "colorized" it with black marble. I love the silhouette it creates!

I used to get a little upset with the amount of time she spent on Howrse until I really figured out what she does on there. A lot of it is good life lessons...and she has learned a lot about marketing, and making money. The kid has always been good with cash and wants MORE but this game has taught her a lot too.

I've been reading a lot about the national education standards that are being developed. Since they have been largely silent on how these might affect homeschoolers, I'm watching very carefully. I'm really not against standards in general. I remember being amazed when I became aware of the difference between states. I forget what curriculum program I was using but you could see the standards for various states and apply them to what your child had learned/would be learning. Alabama had next to nothing compared to Michigan. That doesn't seem right but I don't like the idea of a national blanket either. I'd also be curious to know if they have any homeschoolers helping to develop their standards. We seem to do a pretty good job educating our children...

Motocross: It's finally time for the big race this weekend!! The trailer is packed and ready to go. Motocross Boy got his school work done and is more than ready to go. The boys went to pick up the 85 today and it's ready to go again. We'll watch the rain and weather forecast and pray that the thumb area gets minimal rain so we can go racing on Sunday!!! Besides, I have that new camera I have to test out!!

National Mustang Adoption Day

Saturday is National Wild Horse Adoption Day. While I wish like crazy I had the ability and facility to adopt a wild horse, it's not gonna happen. But I do support the cause and wish like heck that they meet their goal of 1000 horses. One of my favorite Blogs is "Mustang Diaries" and I so admire what they've been able to do with the horses they've adopted....

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

On a design roll...

Horses: I've been on a design roll today! Photoshop is so much fun...impossible to master but the potential is endless. The first design will be on a 12"x5" plastic license plate to be used on a stall. The second one I'll be putting on a rust colored hoodie. I wish I didn't have to have any background but the way this particular transfer works for colored fabrics it will create a white background if I don't give it one. Bummer. Still looks kinda cool but not exactly what I wanted to do.

Motocross: I have to create a cool design to wear this Sunday for the last MPX race...I have some ideas...so much fun!!!

Homeschooling: It was one of the rare "ideal" days where both kids got all their assigned work done with little argument and no fuss. I was excited!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


Horses: I love these pictures. I love how Equestrian Girl looks to be wrapped between the two horses and all their heads are so close together. Both were taken with my new Nikon...I'm so pleased with it!

Motocross: This Sunday is Motocross Boy's last race at MPX...but the forecast is for rain the day before, the day of, and the day after. Not good.

Homeschooling: So a nationally recognized education expert hired by the government to diagnose why our schools are failing says something to the effect that, "There's no cure. You need to do it yourself." Huh. Sounds like that's exactly what all us homeschoolers are doing.

And ponder this as I have recently. My boss was very upset that his 18 year old wasn't going to graduate with his class - he'd need to take a summer school class and would get his diploma in August. Where did we get this notion that ALL kids must graduate high school by the time they are 18? I think the majority of parents would agree that there are many 18 year olds that are just not ready to go off to college on their own and I think many Freshman college grades would support that. So why does our public school system push that? I realize keeping them longer is going to cost more but at what TRUE cost? Why do we need to have such a stigma about graduating at 18? Could our public schools do better if kids spent 5 years in high school? Many of our college students take 5 years...so what's the big deal? Maybe if we gave them 5 years in high school they wouldn't NEED 5 years in college..but so what if they do? What's the rush? I'm quite sure Equestrian Girl will be done with her high school curriculum before she's 18 and ready to take some college level classes. Motocross Boy...I'm not going to rush him. I really don't care if he's 21 when he graduates from college. But when he does, he'll be ready.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

My Family

Equestrian Girl: Equestrian Girl is 11, almost 12, trapped in the body of an 18 year old super model.

Motocross Boy: Motocross Boy is 12 and has the ability to hyperfocus. I don't think he even noticed I took this picture.

Dad: Scott is 40+ and starting to admit it though not without protest.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Motocross Boy

Motocross Boy is very handsome. Especially when I Photoshop the dirt off his face!

This week is ADHD Awareness Week and we've been helping Motocross Boy celebrate his badge of honor. ADHD isn't something most of us would choose to have but just about everyone knows someone with ADHD whether its ever been diagnosed formally or not. Think of someone you know who can hyperfocus to the point of obsession, yet has a great personality. Someone who has a strong sense of what is fair but willing to take risks. Someone who is funny yet romantic. Someone who has compassion and persistence and can always provide a different perspective. Sure, there are a few less desirable traits such as being a bit disorganized but the good totally outweighs the bad leaving you with someone who is a very good person in general. Someone you WANT to be friends with. And Motocross Boy is all of this and more. He is the kid that motivates people to come up and tell me what a cool kid I have. He's my kid that has to try harder than most but when he succeeds...he does it big. He constantly makes me very, very proud to be his mom.

Horses: The vet was out to see Stanley today and give him his fall shots. He also got his first of 3 injections of Legend to help lubricate his aging joints. He isn't showing any real signs of arthritis or stiffness and his last x-rays showed his hocks to be remarkably clean but at 12 years old and having shown as long and as much as he has, I really feel that the Legend will just make things feel a little bit better for the ol' guy.

Motocross: One of the key items in the motocross trailer is the power washer. Seems odd but when the bikes race in heavy dirt and/or mud, they can get really weighed down by that mud and need to be cleaned between races. It's also a good idea to clean the air filter after each race so the motor can "breath"... A clean bike is a good thing. But last race the power washer wasn't working - no water coming out. Scott tore it apart top to bottom trying to figure out what was wrong. He came in this morning to show me a piece of it where two tiny pieces had gotten pushed down into the part...and the exits were too small to get the tiny pieces out. But being a resourceful kind of guy, he managed to break those tiny pieces into even tinier pieces to shake them out... I would have bought a new one.

Homeschooling: I have no idea how...Motocross Boy got all his work done for the week though I am having to trust him a bit more than I normally would since he didn't actually GIVE me a few quizzes and assignments. He supposedly did them on line but they wouldn't print and he didn't know how to email them.

Jury is still out on whether I like this new Homeschool Skedtrack...I can't figure out what happens to assignments when the kids don't mark them done but I go in and approve the day's assignments...they seem to get marked as done but shouldn't be...

I am really, really liking the Adaptive Curriculum for Science for both kids and math for Motocross Boy. Haven't heard a single complaint.

This afternoon the kids were watching something that was based in the White House but wasn't an education type of show. I hear Motocross Boy, "How did they get all those cameras in the White House to film this show?" Equestrian Girl replies, "That's not the REAL White House!!! It's just a made up house for this show!!"

Thursday, September 17, 2009


I'm off topic today. Mostly because I'm tired and grumpy. I work full time - something I've always done and always will do I expect. I like my job. I really do. I really like the company I work for as well. Truly. But I will never understand why they feel the need to bring us all together several times per year for ALL day meetings. Now, if we were a small, local organization this wouldn't be all that big a deal. But no, we are a state wide organization so to be "fair" they move the location around the state so not everyone has to drive a long distance every meeting. But 9 times out of 10 they are at least 2 hours from me. And 9 times out of 10 I choose to drive up the morning of the meeting that starts at 8 a.m. which means leaving before 6 a.m. and then they run the meeting until 5...giving me another 2 hour drive home. In other words, a 13 hour day. I think I deserve to be grumpy!!

But the good news is that I have both Friday and Monday off work. The bad news is that I'll end up working some of it. I have customers with needs that can only be met by me...I'm too dedicated.

Horses: Two seconds on topic. The vet comes tomorrow for Stanley's fall shots and to teach me how to clean his sheath. I should know how to do this...I should be able to do this...I really don't WANT to do this. I'm not sure I CAN do this....

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Accidental Cool...

Horses: I had every intention of getting some pictures of Motocross Boy today...and these aren't even really photos. I was taking some video clips of Equestrian Girl and whenever I would turn into the sun or out of it, I'd get these really cool rainbows! I couldn't see them when I was filming - actually I can't even see the image on the screen except for a shadow because the sun was so bright. But it was also sinking fast and somewhere between these two shots it was straight dead ahead which I think is why I got the cool rainbows.

And since I have the pictures on here, we were working on transitions today. In the first shot he's trotting and in the second he's picking up a lope. We've been working hard on both transitions and his lope and doing very, very well. We've also started to work him at the lope longer and longer distances to make sure he can maintain it for those judges that make them lope forever and ever and ever before they can make up their minds. The next two shows in October should both be pretty big and when the classes are big sometimes the classes last a lot longer as the judges have so many more people to watch.

Motocross: Hmmm. Motocross Boy is working hard on not going to his next race....well, not really but attitude is everything you know!

Homeschooling: Hubby made me a cool t-shirt today....Get HOME Schooled. I love it!! Made them for the kids too so we'll all wear them when we go to the Detroit Science Center when I get our tickets - I won 4 free tickets!!

Speaking of our little field trip, this is one of the great things about homeschooling. You can take as many field trips as you want and YOU get to go on all of them!! It always bugged me when other parents beat me in line to chaperone the fun field trips because I wanted to go on all of them. And of course there were some I couldn't go because I had to work but now I can schedule them on the days I have off. I'm so lucky!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

On a Sunny Day...

Horses: Equestrian Girl makes such a fashion statement in her riding helmet. She's always worn one so it looks and feels totally normal to her. But the kid is so darn pretty she would look good in anything...

Motocross: I need to get some new pictures of Motocross Boy...sadly lacking.

Homeschooling: Day 1 of the FULL week didn't go so good for Motocross Boy. Day 2 he did better. Equestrian Girl was off to a good start until her laptop sound card died. It was already in bad shape with broken hinges...she had to keep the screen leaned up against something or it would fall flat. I ran it up to the guys at www.affordablecomputers.com in Ann Arbor. Love those guys. Though not as much this time as in the past when they've been able to fix the kids' laptops for free under warranty. This time I was told it was going to cost more to fix (warranty expired) than it was worth and to buy a new one. By new, they meant "refurbished". They of course know that I'm cheap-cheap-cheap and directed me to a sturdy, no frills, IBM laptop. I used to have one similar and I'm really hard on my laptops so figured it could stand up to a homeschooler. $318 out the door.

I think I've mentioned before that it makes me slightly crazy that our state government can't educate kids in spite of spending over $6000 per student. If I add up everything I've spent on curriculum and even include laptops I'm still WAY below that amount for two kids. Way, way below. I could buy them each a new iMac Powerbook and still be way below...Actually, I cannot honestly figure out what I could possibly do to spend $12,000 a year in educating our kids unless we took a couple of really awesome "educational" vacations!!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Monday Madness repeated

Horses: The leaves are starting to turn around here. You can just barely see the start of them in this picture of Equestrian Girl with Stanley...I'm hoping this stand of woods beyond the outdoor arena is a riot of color this fall - it will be a great backdrop for pictures!

Stanley apparently developed a small patch of "rain rot" in the middle of his forehead. Odd place especially when he has no forelock to speak of to hold moisture in up there! But we've been using a soft curry on it and some medicated spray we had actually bought for his legs and it's working good. Almost gone already which is good since we have that next show in only 3 more weeks!

Motocross: With only one points race left in 2 weeks it's time for Dad to overhaul the bike to make sure Motocross Boy doesn't have a repeat of yesterday - quite a bummer day. It's amazing how many tiny things can go wrong on those bikes. It seems they have a check list a mile long and one loose screw can shut them down...

Homeschooling: I read an interesting article today about Obama's education speech from last Tuesday. http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2009/09/16/03speechflap.h29.html?tkn=PRXFVy51NVi2%2Bdsk0LxShR2nsZtdJTLzgZ1r
Apparently it's being seen as a much bigger public relations nightmare than anyone expected. It was also very poorly planned considering it was a lunch time and on the first day back to school for many kids. What teacher has time for that? The end result was that far fewer children ended up watching than anyone expected. Oh well!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

A Horsey Kind of Day

Horses: It was a beautiful day - a late summer blessing kind of day in the upper 70's with plenty of sunshine. And a new camera to play with. After a tough work out we turned Stanley out to the pasture to graze and play with his buddies...

Motocross: Motocross Boy went out to MPX for his second to last race up there. The day didn't start out too good when his bike started bogging out before finishing the last moto. They pushed his bike across the finish line so he didn't get a DNF (Did Not Finish). That was the 65 Open Class. While trying to figure out what was wrong he missed the first moto for the 65 Senior class...but then someone came through to lend them the parts they needed and he was back. I think he'd lost his momentum by then and while he ran and finished those last two motos he didn't do very well....

Homeschooling: I feel like I've been making this decision forever but I finally settled on Adaptive Curriculum's Science for Equestrian Girl. She tried it out last week on a free trial and really liked it. You do online experiments by dragging and dropping test tubes, beakers, scales, etc. It's pretty cool. So cool that I thought I'd let Motocross Boy trial their math curriculum this week. I still REALLY love Aleks math but if the Adaptive Curriculum math is more engaging and he likes it better, I'm all for it.

I'm also trying out a new online scheduling and tracking program at www.homeschoolskedtrack.com It's free so I have little risk. It took me a few hours this weekend to get it all set up but if it works out the way I hope it will, it should be really helpful in keeping track of grades and being able to produce reports.

We are finally back this week to a FULL week of school. Through August we gradually built up to 3 days per week and then September 1 we pushed to 4 days per week so this will be our first 5 day week. I'm sure I'll get some backlash but the new scheduling system only gives them one day at a time so hopefully it won't look like so much!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Gotta Brag!

I normally only brag about my own kids but I have to make an exception tonight. This kid, the star QB for University of Michigan who just threw the winning touch down pass against Notre Dame with 11 seconds left in the game, is my cousin. Technically second cousin - his dad Mike is my first cousin.

Except for a few years spent in Georgia, Mike grew up in Michigan playing football. He raised all three of his sons to be quarterbacks and Tate is the youngest. When the oldest, Jason, first came to UofM in late June of his Freshman year, he spent the 4th of July weekend with us...he didn't really know anyone here and though he hadn't seen me since he was about a year old in California, we were family. He told us then, when Tate was only a Freshman in high school, that Tate was the best player of the three brothers and was really going to be someone if he could hold his grades together and stay out of trouble. He was right. The kid is well on his way to being someone!! Even if Equestrian Girl calls him "Tater Tot". LOL!!!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Motocross, Motocross, Motocross

It was an amazing weekend at the track! The Baja Brawl is one of the biggest regional races with over 900 bikes competing. There were soooo many people there. Motocross Boy and Dad left on Thursday evening and practiced on Friday afternoon. Motocross Boy took one lap on the big track, that had been completely rebuilt that week, and said "no way". I was proud of him for that. It's a tough track on a good day and they made it harder than ever. He entered the trail class and Dad was going to tear down his pit bike to put his stock equipment back on until a friend offered up his daughter's Honda for him. Turned out to be a very lucky bike! He pulled two firsts on Saturday in very close races. Then Sunday-Monday was a 3 moto race and Motocross Boy took a 1st, 2nd, 2nd but for a 1st Place overall win!!! The photos show how he took an early lead but was neck in neck with a LOT of racers close on his tail coming into an early turn. Later on he pulled out leaving only two guys in hot pursuit but it was a battle every minute of the way. The result was this SIX FOOT TALL trophy!! Holy smokes I don't know where we are going to put that thing but isn't that awesome?

We are all so tired but we've showered and gotten the laundry started so all is good and I have one very proud little guy in my house!

Friday, September 4, 2009

The Speech


On Tuesday next week President Obama will address the nation's school children. Schools across the country are being encouraged to broadcast his speech in their classrooms and lesson plans for both lower ed and upper ed have been developed around the speech. There is a LOT of controversy around this speech and rightfully so. I haven't made up my mind yet about the content of the speech since it won't be posted on the White House website until Monday...Labor Day. I just find it really curious that whole lesson plans (and they are quite detailed) have been developed around this speech yet nobody has seen it yet. Some schools are giving parents a choice whether or not their children will watch at school. That's great for schools that started last week or earlier who have a chance to contact parents with this decision but what about the many schools that have their first day on Tuesday - the day of the speech?

I'm not a particularly political person. I have a few pet topics that can usually swing my vote to one party or another and of course, education is one of them. It began with Special Education and has broadened to homeschooling rights. My children do not need to watch this speech. They don't need the president telling them to work hard in school and think of their futures. That's what they have parents to do. That's what they've been taught since they were old enough to understand what the future was and what it could hold for them.

Maybe I should turn the TV on to CSPAN at noon next Tuesday though just in case...someone might be watching.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Better Late....

Horses: This picture is from last weekend's HUS class for Novice Youth at the Paint show in Allegan. I was having downloading troubles and finally found a work-around.

Tuesday we had the distinct pleasure of meeting one of my on-line horsey friends! Shannon and her husband Don came down from near Mt. Pleasant to help us with Stanley. A few weeks ago I posted that he had gotten his lope back...but it didn't last. I think it was a combination of not reinforcing it long enough and Equestrian girl just not being so sure what to do. Shannon reminded Stanley how to lope which he loudly protested with the tiniest little bucks - it was hilarious. Then her and Don had Equestrian Girl doing some very specific exercises with him and he looked awesome! Three cheers for Shannon and Don! We had so much fun and left the barn to have a great lunch at their favorite restaurant which just HAPPENS to be a few miles from us. Great encouragement for them to come back often!!

Over the years I've been able to meet a few online friends here and there and it's always been such a pleasure to put a real person behind that email address. Shannon was no exception and I hope she'll be able to help us more in the future. She was very impressed with both Equestrian Girl and Stanley so we felt pretty good about that!

Motocross: It's BAJA BRAWL weekend! Scott just finished making 150 t-shirts with a very cool logo on them - I bet the sell like hotcakes. This is one of the biggest race weekends at one of the biggest tracks in the region. They expect over 900 bikes...and with every bike is usually at least 2-4 people. It's crazy out there. RV's, bikes, golf carts, dogs and kids everywhere. Rock and roll music blasting 15 hours a day. Bikes racing 12 hours a day. And we are supposed to have 77 degrees and sun for all but Monday. Perfect!! Motocross Boy is totally geeked and they JUST pulled out to head up. Seems kind of silly to get there this afternoon when practice doesn't start until 3:00 tomorrow but I know they are excited. Equestrian Girl and I won't go up until tomorrow night - we like our beds and running water.

Homeschooling: We had such a great homeschooling week with today having the big highlight of the week. Motocross Boy still had two math assignments to get done before Dad would even consider leaving for the Baja Brawl today. He needed some help (or so he said) but I was busy trying to churn out some work for the paying job and Dad was busy finishing up the t-shirt job. I suggested he ask Equestrian Girl for help since she's so good at math. At one point I was laughing so hard I had to leave the house in search of Scott. They were working on estimating sums - very easy stuff. Motocross Boy was just totally guessing at the answers and after each one Equestrian Girl would say, "No, you have to look at it this way...". Then he'd blurt out another answer and very patiently she'd again say, "No, you have to do this first...". I would have been losing patience long before she even came close. They finished the two lessons and Motocross Boy came in to show me that all his work was done. I suggested he thank his sister big time. I thought I heard what sounded like a hug (and don't ask what a hug sounds like other than an "umph" from the person getting hugged too hard) and managed to peak around the corner fast enough to see Motocross Boy giving his sister a huge hug of thanks!!! THAT is why we homeschool.