Saturday, January 30, 2010

Horsey Winter Weekend

Horses: Tomorrow we'll hitch up the trailer. That's a rare event in the middle of winter! But we'll do it anyway and go pick up Stanley from where he lives now and move him about 20 miles south to a new barn.

This is Superior Stables.

They have a huge arena. This picture is taken from about the middle looking back towards the observation room.

Every stall has a window so the barn is really bright and airy. That's Stanley's stall on the right - the first one. He'll have a nice view of everyone coming and going since it faces the main door.

But before we do all that tomorrow, today we head out to our first tack sale of the season! Those are always so much fun - especially the good ones where there are lots of people selling their old stuff. I rarely find much of anything but it's fun to dig around and you almost always run into other horsey people you know. I'm thinking about taking the camera today and playing photographer/reporter...

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Rainy Sunday

Horses: It's not supposed to rain in the winter. It's supposed to snow. It's also supposed to be cold and stay cold. Mother Nature isn't cooperating much today. It's relatively warm at 45 degrees and raining. Tonight the temperature will drop freezing up all these lovely puddles which will then get covered lightly with a dangerous layer of snow making them invisible. Stanley's paddock will become a skating rink filled with bumps and ruts of frozen mud and ice. This is when I think I should have opted to put snow shoes on him for winter.

Equestrian Girl and I have been sharing a lesson for the last several weeks. Today was no exception and all three of us (including Stanley) got high marks from Kim today for doing so well. Equestrian Girl worked on using a very collected counter canter to get a better lope. I did something similar but had Stanley bending to the outside while circling to the inside at the trot to get that collected lope. Both of these exercises were very hard for all of us and I'm quite sure I'm going to be sore tomorrow!

Homeschooling: I spent part of this rainy afternoon writing a quiz on Loch Ness. Here's a sampling of questions:

1. True or False: Lock Ness has more water than any other lake in Scotland or England

2. True or False: The old yellow limestone that is found on one side of the lake was used to build castles in Scotland and to build brownstones in the USA.

3. Loch Ness is very straight because of:

a. the san andreas fault

b. the icebergs

c. the great glenn fault

d. the tectonic plates

e. the monster

4. True or False In the time of the dinosaurs Scotland was still attached to America and was located close to the equator.

5. What kind of dinosaur could have possibly have lived in this area that resembles what people think the Loch Ness Monster looks like?

a. Tyranasaurus

b. Plesiosaurus

c. Brontosaurus

d. Triceratops

e. Pterodactyls

6. Why do most experts think it’s impossible that the Loch Ness Monster is an ancient dinosaur that has managed to survive?

The actual quiz has 14 questions and the kids will take it after they've watched a 45 minute movie about Loch Ness. I'm not sure who learns more from these though - me or them!

Saturday, January 23, 2010


Horses: Equestrian Girl had her first saddleseat "lesson" yesterday. Our friend Laurie has offered several times to let her ride Kiss, her saddlebred, and yesterday we finally made it happen. I think we created a monster. She had a BLAST!! Afterwards she said our kind of riding was 'boring' and that this was much more fun.

Riding saddleseat is very opposite of what we do riding western pleasure with Stanley so it was quite a change for Equestrian Girl. A few weeks ago she got to ride saddleseat on our friend's Morgan so she had a tiny bit of experience but this was much bigger and faster and no doubt, quite exhilarating. I sense a change in disciplines in our future....

Homeschooling: I'm doing it again. I'm changing curriculum for Language Arts for both kids next week. Actually, it's a definite change for Motocross Boy. For Equestrian Girl, it's sort of a side track. She's finished the curriculum we were using through 9th grade. She just turned 12. I really don't think she's ready to move up to the next level so we are going to "review" 8th and 9th grade again. She agreed so I don't think she sees it as moving backwards. She admitted she probably doesn't remember a lot of what she learned and it wouldn't hurt any. It's supposed to come on Tuesday or Wednesday next week but I probably won't be able to start using it until the following week.

I also ordered the science curriculum from the same company. It looks really interesting...we have a pretty good thing going right now with the "How the Earth was Made" shows and we are all learning a lot watching them. The new stuff will be for after we are done with those. Maybe. Maybe we'll mix it up. This is why I love homeschooling! Get bored and change!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Winter Days

Homeschooling: We have been really struggling with Writing for Motocross Boy. He just HATES to write. Doesn't even much like thinking up the story. I've tried a variety of ways to motivate him using every book I could find for teaching writing. Nothing much works. I think part of it is just the physical act of writing - it's not something he likes to do. Typing isn't all that much better. He DOES like to write single words on index cards or blank sheets of paper when he's "playing" but if I try to incorporate that into "school" he balks.

So we are going back to basics. How important is creative writing anyway? Isn't the goal to be able to write a good sentence and know how to form paragraphs? I'm also a believer that the more you read the more naturally writing comes to you and almost by osmosis you are able to write in paragraphs and even spell better. Motocross Boy is going to be writing single sentences for a while. We'll drill that back into him until he can consistently write a full sentence. Then we'll add detail to those sentences. And before he knows what hit him they'll be paragraphs. I hope.

The other thing we've been doing is watching the History Channel's How the Earth was Made series. I'm finding them pretty interesting but disappointed that the History Channel doesn't have anything to help me review the material in each episode. I watch them, take notes, and then make up a short 10 question quiz of True/False and multiple choice questions. I wonder if they'd be interested in buying my quizzes when we are all done?

Horses: Our heavy weight Schneider's horse blanket is about 5 years old and up until fairly recently was in excellent condition. Unfortunately, Stanley's best friend, Chip the TWH, likes to grab hold of it and usually forgets to let go when Stanley walks off. There's no trim left on the shoulder pleats and now there are a couple of rips in the fabric over his butt. While I'm very impressed that the blanket held up so good this long, I hated to spend the money to buy another one. I ordered the new on on Friday and it's HERE!

Motocross: The race schedules for this year are posted! MPX will have 8 races. Baja will have 9 if you also count the one up north at Otsego Club. When I match them all up with the horse shows we only have 4 overlapping weekends. This also means exactly 3 weekends with no racing and no horse shows between April and November....gulp.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Winter Riding

Horses: I like riding in the winter. I really don't mind bundling up to the point I look like I gained 50 lbs or that my arms are so stiff with clothes I can't reach the reins. Stanley doesn't seem to mind too much either. Or at least he doesn't tell me he does.

Motocross: Still no practicing.

Homeschooling: We have a new game for Language Arts. The kids have to review Craig's List ads and the child to find the one with the most grammatical and spelling errors receives a prize. Of course, then they also have to correct the errors to prove to me they know what was wrong and what was right. Some day I'll post the best ones - they really are amusing to read!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Who can homeschool?

Homeschooling: I'm often asked how I can possibly remember all one needs to know to be a teacher to my kids. The secret don't have to remember much at all. I was thinking about that this morning as I watched a 45 minute movie on the Marianas Trench, took notes, and wrote a quiz. The Marianas Trench is the deepest place on earth. Earlier today I had no idea where that place might be. Had no idea there was a place called the Marianas Trench. And certainly had no clue that it's nearly 7 miles beneath the ocean floor! It's a mile deeper than Mt. Everest is tall.

Next I moved on to American Government. I do have a vague recollection of that subject and it's kind of hard to ignore how it's working lately but to make sure I don't mess up, I'm using an interactive DVD by Standard Deviants. After watching the first chapter I decided to take the quiz. Here's the first question:

I answered TRUE.

There were 4 more questions about Chapter 1 and I got the rest right. I should have taken notes and studied! My kids will. They'll also take the quiz on paper so they can't cheat.

I actually really like how the information on government is presented by young actors using both serious points of fact and humor. I laughed out loud at the name they made up for The Articles of the Confederation before explaining that our forefathers didn't really use that.

I'm even kind of enjoying my recycled 6th and 7th grade education. Probably more so than I did when I was doing it the first time. I highly recommend it.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Baby it's COLD outside!

Horses: I think it hit a whopping 11 degrees today. It's 6 degrees now at 7:20 pm. Brrrrr. I haven't left the house but around 8:30 we are going to take Stanley some hot water to thaw out his water bucket. He has a heated bucket but it's not hooked up yet. He is wearing his fleece jammies under his heavy winter blanket so he should be warm enough but in this weather I'm glad I'm not a horse.

Last week we met up with 18 year old Saddle Seat Girl. She came over to ride Stanley since she's hoping to be on the MSU Equestrian Team next year and needs to practice riding a stock horse. First I helped get her stirrups the right length. She's in-between my holes and Equestrian Girl's.
Next she worked hard on using her lower legs and figuring out how to ride with a loose rein. She was amazed that Stanley would turn the direction she looked with no other cues but it drove her nuts that his head was so low!

In the end though she was all smiles - even wearing my helmet which was a tad tight on her!

Motocross: The boys were going to head down to the indoor track in Ohio today. But it was just too cold. They thought about going tomorrow but it might snow. Now they are tentatively planning on Wednesday. Next weekend is ArenaCross in Grand Rapids. Motocross Boy really wants to race there but Dad is leaning towards a no. Maybe we'll just go watch??

Homeschooling: Vacation is officially over on Sunday night and a full schedule awaits for Monday morning. Oh boy. Coming back from time off is never easy for Motocross Boy. I had good intentions of having him do at least some math almost every day but that didn't happen. They did watch the first episode of "How the Earth was Made" which was about the San Andreas Fault in California. Only 12 more episodes to go! I bought the whole series just before Christmas for $20 which I thought was a steal. Great science lessons so long as I take the time to watch and learn first!! Geology was never my strong suit.