Saturday, February 27, 2010

Movin' on up!

Motocross: Hasn't been much to write about motocross this winter with nowhere to practice...but a couple of weeks ago Motocross Boy made the decision to sell his KTM 65 and go full time with his Suziki 85. Scott found a second 85 up north for a good price and put a down payment on it...except to pay for it meant selling the little bikes. He put both the 65 and the 110 on Craig's List and today they sold the 65!!

We also had a talk with Motocross Boy about whether he was racing just for fun or if he really wants to be competitive in this sport. He's kind of at that point where he needs to start putting a lot more effort into it if he wants to be seriously competitive...but I'm not sure he's mature enough to make that kind of decision even if his age is dictating it. I have no doubt he enjoys racing and has fun 99% of the time but he also gets very frustrated when he doesn't do well even though it's usually because he didn't do what he was told and what he's been taught. His lack of impulse control gets the best of him.

Horses: At her last lesson Equestrian Girl worked hard on picking up the correct diagonal without looking or even peaking and we practiced it all week. She worked on it a bit today and was nailing it every time! Then Kim let them move out to use the whole arena at a hunt trot and then a canter. Stanley LOVES when he gets to move out like that and you could just see it all over his face! It's just too cute. But then the fun was over and it was time to lope but the ol' guy just wasn't in the mood apparently. By the end of the lesson he was doing great though and they ended on a good note.

Homeschooling: It was a quiet week for homeschooling. Both kids got all their work done without problem or complaint! We started using the Switched on Schoolhouse for science and Motocross Boy was very proud to announce he got 100% on the first assignment! I was very proud of both of them!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Snow is coming...

Horses: It started out sunny this morning but snow is coming. 5-6 inches from the reports. Yeah!! It's been melting fast the last week or so and the mud has been oozing up so this might cover it up for a little bit if it stays cold enough.

Equestrian Girl had a lesson yesterday with Kim. You can see her legs growing out of Stanley's belly in the second picture! They worked for almost a full hour on Equestrian Girl picking up her diagonals without looking. She'd get it and then loose it. Then she'd have it down flat in one direction but not the other. It was a painstaking process so I hope like heck she HAS it now.

We've now been at Superior Stables for 3 full weeks and love it more every day. The ladies there just "get it". They truly care about the horses and are always very understanding and accommodating. I love that they stop to give Stanley nuzzles and kisses when we have him in the cross ties and I love seeing Jennifer's 5 year old son running up the shavings pile playing king of the mountain or sticking like velcro to his mom when she needs space. He makes me smile.

Motocross: BIG announcement on the motocross front. Motocross Boy is going ALL 85 this summer. That's an 85cc bike for those that aren't in the know. Scott is selling his 65 and 110 and has put a deposit on a second 85 so he has a backup bike. They have also decided that he won't do the series at MPX like we had expected. Instead he's doing the Great Lakes series which will take us all over southern Michigan to various tracks. Some we've been to before and some we haven't. If he does ALL the races we have on the chart we'll have about 6 dates that overlap with horse shows but that's pretty good out of 6 1/2 month season.

Motocross Boy has committed to working out and eating well so he can be strong and fast this season. He'll need it. The 85 is a bigger bike and if he's not strong, it will get away from him, not to mention that it's hard to get up if he falls with it.

I think this is a 2009 model and I believe the new one is a 2010. I have no idea if there's any difference.

Homeschooling: Last week was our first week using Switched on Schoolhouse for Language Arts. Equestrian Girl loved it and did very well. Now I'm worried it might be too easy. My only problem is that the program did not record her actually doing 3 of the 5 assignments. I'm guessing WE did something wrong but for the life of me I can't figure out what. If I open the assignments I can see her answers and I can click on save and close but still nothing...

Motocross Boy started out liking it until he started getting answers wrong. Then he got a little frustrated. He can't cheat (or at least he hasn't figured out how yet!) and I don't think he thought he needed to "read" the assignment to be able to answer the questions. His scores were low enough that even though the program marked them complete, I have reassigned them for this week - well everything except spelling which he did well on.

This week we are adding the SOS Science as well. I hadn't planned on starting it this week but I think the kids are burning out on the "How the Earth was Made" videos. We've done half of them and I'm still planning on finishing this series this year - we might just need to space them out a bit more.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Facebook and Homeschooling

Homeschooling: I'm not a big Facebook fan. My husband and kids have pages and use them fairly regularly. I have a page but don't use it. I felt bad so many people were inviting me to be their friend and not being able to say yes. So now I can say yes and not hurt their feelings I guess.

Facebook doesn't really have anything to do with homeschooling. The reason I even connected the two was this ARTICLE about a student who was suspended for starting a...a..."anti-fan" (??) page about a teacher at her school that she didn't like. She took it to court saying it was freedom of speech and her 1st amendment right to speak out against the teacher.

The judge said it was legal so long as it didn't disrupt school.

I started thinking about my kids' teacher, what if they decide they don't like me and start their own "anti-fan" page about me? What if they say I'm a mean teacher and don't let them ride horses or motocross bikes if they don't get their school work done? What if they say the work is too hard? What if they say I make them write sentences 100 times if they mouth off (I don't - couldn't resist though)? I couldn't expel or suspend them from school - that would be sort of pointless (though it's really pointless for schools to do it too considering the kids are there for an education but I digress). Maybe I could give them even MORE school work!

And what if my kids sued saying it wasn't fair that I was giving them too much school work and told the judge it was because I didn't like their facebook comments. The the judge would have to figure out if the facebook comments had disrupted our that might be tricky!!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Grand Rapids Radisson Hotel - BAD Experience!

Looks like a nice enough place, huh? It wasn't.

So the hotel...well first it took over an hour to check in. After standing in line for 30 minutes we go up to the room to find it's a king size bed - for 4 of us. Back to the line for another 30 minutes. That was the hour that the kids had planned on swimming before they had to get ready for the banquet.

Then after the banquet it was to the pool for sure! When we got down there was a group of about 12 kids in the pool ranging from about 5 to 14 years old all splashing and having fun. Motocross Boy jumps in and asks two boys about his size if he can play too (he's a pretty friendly and outgoing kind of kid). They said yes and he starts splashing and jumping around too. Well I guess they didn't like the way he splashed because I look up and the one kid is round-housing him with a blow to the shoulder!! Of course Motocross Boy swings back and catches the kid in the side of the head while the kid's friend jumps on him from behind and starts beating on his head and trying to push him under. That's about when they all finally heard me screaming to stop. I made Motocross Boy get out even though it wasn't his fault - those 2 boys had "friends and family" of 10 other kids there. So then he goes up to the hot tub with Equestrian Girl. Two seconds later, there go the two little boys he had been fighting with. I knew what was coming and was headed that way before they even started swinging and Equestrian Girl started pulling them apart. When I told them ALL not to touch each other the one little boy confronted me and said he could do whatever the hell he wanted to do!! I'm sure my mouth dropped open. So once again I had to take my kids out of the water.

I sent the kids back to the room and went to the front desk. When I told them there was a group of unsupervised kids in the pool causing trouble they told me they couldn't do anything about it because they didn't know what rooms they were from and if they told them to go back to their rooms they would just roam the halls causing more trouble than they could cause if they let them stay in the pool!!!

Then the Sleep Number beds...OMG. Equestrian Girl and I had it set for a reasonably soft yet uncomfortable 35. I woke up about an hour later and we were smashed together in a crater!! I think all the air leaked out of ours! So I look over at Scott and Motocross Boy and Motocross Boy is literally UNDER Scott in their crater. I started laughing so hard I couldn't climb out of my hole! Luckily the kids didn't wake up but Scott did so he could pull Motocross Boy out from under him. I don't think either of us slept the rest of the night - we felt hung over the next morning and were out of there by 8. NOT a good hotel experience!

This morning I received a survey from Radisson. I filled it very honestly and fairly pointing out that the food and staff at the banquet were very good and that the housekeeping manager had been very nice when we discovered the room with the king size bed - he had been in the hallway. Below is the response I received:

Dear Michelle:

We appreciate you taking the time to complete a survey regarding your recent stay with us. Jon, our Manager of Housekeeping is grateful for your recognition. In addition, I shared your comments and details with my team. We take these very seriously and thank you. In addition, as we roll forward into our future plans, it is comments like yours that validate the renovation we have planned this summer.

On behalf of our entire staff here at the Radisson Hotels & Resorts we apologize for the concerns you have about your experience at this hotel.

We appreciate the feedback and will use it to fine tune our operations in the hope that upon your next visit, we can meet or exceed your expectations.


Todd Roesler
General Manager
Radisson Grand Rapids Riverfront Hotel

Seems like a nice enough response but what a bunch of "corporate speak"!! "We apologize for the concerns you have about your experience..." Not that they apologize for the bad experience, just for my concerns. Blech. Thorsten Kirschke is the Executive VP and COO of Carlson Hotels which owns Radisson. I guess I'll have to contact him directly.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

The Michigan Paint Horse Club Banquet

The Michigan Paint Horse Club banquet was a great success and we all came away with some nice prizes but especially Equestrian Girl! Here she's receiving her belt buckle.

Here she looks like she coming in for a fight and I think she was because her brother was taking the picture but it was the only one of her whole outfit - the one I had to convince her that was more appropriate than the prom dress numbers she was trying on last weekend.

Our friend Sheri with her big prize.

Sheri and Dan - they are getting married in June. He's a good guy for putting up with all the horse stuff and the kids loved him.

Equestrian Girl showing off her belt buckle.

She really loved this embroidered halter bag too.

Motocross Boy got a watch as a door prize. We call it his Rolex.

Even mom got to share in the laughs apparently. Hohoho!

Daddy shares a moment with daughter.

A close up of the buckle. It says MPHC at the stop and at the bottom it says Champion: Standards Gold Watch.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010


I don't have any brothers. I grew up with one sister and very normal, average American parents. It wasn't until I got married that I started figuring out that males are...different. When my son was little I was forever asking my husband and friends that had brothers, "Is that normal?" when he would do "boy" things. The other day Motocross boy was instructed to clean his room if he wanted to go to a hockey game with Dad. He called me in the middle of cleaning to ask me "how good" it had to be. I wasn't really sure what Dad expected since he was the one that had given the instruction so I told him to do the best he could.

This is where the bulk of what was on the floor went.
There might be clothes at the bottom but they sure aren't on the hangers! This is a deep closet too - at least 5 feet deep.

His other big concern was cleaning up these little orange and yellow things. They are pretty much all over his room.

I'll get closer so you can see them better.
Yes, they are tiny balls. and I do mean tiny. They are plastic bebe's (how do you spell that anyway?) for a be-be gun (bb gun?). Don't ask me why they are all over his room. Don't go there. I won't discuss it.

Boys seem to leave little piles of treasures everywhere. This one includes a toy car, a Q-tip, more bb's, 6 clear glass marbles from my vase, a magazine, a pencil, a GameBoy advance, the cover for an old school recorder, and a fake cell phone. Why?
Look at Equestrian Girl's room below - so neat and orderly and...girl-like!!
Boys are different.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Princess for a Day

Horses - sorta: Next weekend we have the Michigan Paint Horse Club awards banquet for the 2009 season. This was Equestrian Girl's first year showing on the Paint circuit, first year riding canter (and not just walk/trot) and first year on Stanley. As I've said before, she had a phenomenal year and will be picking up LOTS of awards at the banquet.

As homeschoolers, we don't have reason to get dressed up much. I don't require uniforms for school. Heck, I don't even require clothes since 99% of the time school work gets done wearing pajamas! When we do get out of the house, we tend to be in jeans and sweatshirts to go to the barn. In other words, my kids don't have much in the way of dress clothes. So I agreed to take Equestrian Girl shopping for a DRESS! This kid hasn't wanted to wear a dress since she was about 6 years old. Prior to age 6 I could dress her in just about anything - and did. She very often spent the whole weekend wearing adorable coordinated outfits with matching berets and tights handed down from a friend who could afford to buy stuff like that.

Equestrian Girl has evolved. She's 12 now. She's aware of boys and likes to look nice. She worries about her hair and likes to wear a little makeup when we go out. So off we went yesterday to find a "simple little dress" to wear to the banquet which I've been told is "dressy casual". "The Princess" just HAD to try on some ultra fancy dresses...

A little black least she pulled off the white sweat socks.

Not many can wear yellow...

She loved this one and kept calling it a "Princess Dress". It had jewels sewn on all around the top of the bodice. It was really short...

This one was our favorite. Extremely elegant and simple. The one she would wear for the Miss America contest.
Alas, Equestrian Girl had to come back down to earth after playing princess in the Kohls and JC Penney dressing rooms and we settled on a very cute skirt and blouse number and some black patent leather flats. Much more appropriate for a 12 year old going to a horse show banquet!

Homeschooling: The math race is on! Both kids are closing in on completing their "pie" in Aleks math and want to move UP a level. Equestrian Girl was doing extra math yesterday and today Motocross Boy has told Dad he wants to get a jump on it (last week they did 11 topics when they only NEEDED to do 5!!!!). Yowsa!

We still haven't started the Switched on Schoolhouse Language Arts and Science curriculums yet - just haven't had time to dig in to them myself to see how they work. Hopefully this week I'll have time since it looks like we might get...SNOW!!!!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Where is OUR snow?

While the central eastern states get buried in snow right now, here we sit in Michigan without even enough snow to cover ALL of the grass. That is soooo not right. It's cold, windy and sunny. And no snow. This is just not right.

Horses: The Equestrian Team meeting the other night was a non-event. The people "in charge" had already made the decision to bring in an assistant coach and keep the guy who has been doing it until they find real reason to get rid of him. They let everyone have their say but it was a waste of breath. I was disappointed at some of the slanderous remarks made by some people that really weren't called for - this will get back to the kids and they still all go to school together (a very, very small school) even if there were to be no equestrian team. There was already some hard feelings and by letting the parents speak out like this it sure didn't help matters any. The parents who want the coach fired will still want him fired and the ones that don't will still support him. I think both sides were okay with bringing in an assistant coach, the role I sort of filled last year, but it didn't make the problem go away.

Equestrian Girl and I have a lesson later this afternoon! We didn't do one last weekend because of the move and all. I don't want to cut back on lessons to make up our increase in board but we might have to do that sometimes. I am talking to the barn owners, who also own a feed store, about getting my dog food for me. If they can get something similar for a better price, then I'll switch and that will be another savings. I feel like we are cutting corners left and right but still never have enough!

And I think we have another expense on the near horizon. Stanley has been getting really cinchy lately. I have to believe it's that dumb synthetic saddle that doesn't fit all that great since he doesn't seem to mind the cinch on the English saddle or the show saddle... Sigh. Always something when it comes to horses.

Homeschooling: Motocross Boy continually amazes me. This week he banged out more than a week's worth of math in about 2 hours and got every single assignment done with very little argument. Some stuff he emails to me so I can see his grades and all day at work I had them popping up telling me he was getting it done! I LOVE that! And Equestrian Girl is really close to finishing her grade level math so now she's on a mission to finish it TODAY. How many kids "want" to do school work on Saturday even though it doesn't mean they have any less to do on Monday?

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Expert Witness

Tonight I have to go to a meeting of parents for the Junior Equestrian Team...I'm sort of an "expert witness". We aren't even on the team this year because of a scheduling conflict that would put us at a Paint show the same day as the one and only meet. But one child's parents have made it their mission in life to get the coach "fired" because he asked them to put a red ribbon on their horse's tail because of it's history of kicking (my daughter suffered one of those kicks last year). Without a doubt we have way more show experience than any other family and while I don't agree with everything the coach does, I've never met two trainers that would EVER agree on everything! Horse people tend to be pretty opinionated and have their own way of doing things. This coach is no exception. But he has enabled a whole lot of kids to learn to ride and show that would not have otherwise had such an opportunity - and for that I admire the guy and owe him respect. His heart is in the right place. So in a few minutes I'll stand up in front a bunch of people and say that Coach Bob deserves to remain coach.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Another Horsey Weekend

Horses: Sunday was a big day. We loaded up our Stanley horse and moved him to a new barn. There were a lot of reasons behind the move but one of the big ones was the quality of care. When we started out at Legend Land we were very happy but as time when on and they brought in more horses, little things started cropping up. The list kept getting longer and my frustration greater. Just before Christmas we made the decision to go "barn shopping". We are lucky to live in an area that has a LOT of boarding barns but once you eliminate the breed specific and discipline specific barns and ones that have an in-house trainer, there aren't many left! Oddly enough, one of the first ones we went to see ended up being our favorite. It's not a brand new barn but had been empty and in foreclosure for a long time. The new owners are doing a fantastic job getting it up and running and in only 6 weeks with no advertising have filled 22 stalls!

The day we moved in, 7 other horses had arrived earlier, so I think Stanley thought we were at a horse show since there were so many new and confused horses there.

After he had checked out his stall and seemed comfortable, we tacked up and took him for a ride in the HUGE arena.

Every stall has a big window like this so the barn is really light and airy. There will be great ventilation in there this summer!

Stanley loved the hay they feed! It's much nicer than what he had before though he does have to transition to the new stuff so the old is getting mixed in for now. Same with his feed.

On Monday I was supposed to help Erin move her two boys to a new barn. I had to be somewhere at 1:30 and we were getting short on time when AT&T was late getting to her house. I ended up not being able to help so she took her mom... I feel so bad that I wasn't there. Her Morab, Casey, backed up in the trailer before her mom got the door closed tight knocking her down on the ice and gravel. At first they thought she had just scraped up her leg where Casey's hoof grazed it but later in the truck she started talking non-sense. Erin's a nurse so she knew right away that she must have hit her head and had a concussion. They quick dropped the horses at the new barn where the wonderful horse people there totally took over to take care of settling in her horses while she took her mom to the hospital.

It did turn out to be a concussion and she now has complete memory recall except for the actual accident itself (which is just as well). Last night I helped her move the big tack closet that I was supposed to help with the day before. THAT was comical! I'm small. Erin's smaller. Laurie was at the barn and helped - she's smaller yet. Lindsay pitched in and isn't any bigger than any of us. All of them are young - very young. Not much experience moving big things! I was laughing - so much it made it hard to move that big thing. But we finally got it loaded and drove over to the new barn where Erin will be boarding her boys. We got it out without much even and loaded back onto the dolly and wouldn't fit through the door!! Apparently Miss Erin hadn't measured...

After some wiggling and jiggling and juggling around we found a corner where it fit relatively well without being too much in the way of anything else and I bid the lovely ladies there farewell to get home for some much needed dinner!