Friday, April 30, 2010

A New Roof!

Our roof was long over due in needing to be replaced.  We've lived in this house about 16 years and the roof was probably close to that old when we bought it.  But it hadn't leaked!

A month or two ago we entered a contest to win a new roof with Rapid Roofing.  While we didn't win first place, we did win second place which was free shingles.  We were pretty happy since replacing the roof wasn't exactly in the budget.  We met with one of the owners, figured out what we needed to do and low and behold, we have a new roof!

The guys that showed up this morning were incredible.  They got to the house about 8:20 and were done by 4:00.  The pictures don't do the job justice - the house was covered in guys working like crazy.  I was totally amazed at how fast they had the 2 layers of old shingles tore off and the new ones on.  It was all the detail and trim work that seemed to take the longest but they were FAST!

The Sign
This is the skylight into Equestrian Girl's room.  Had to remind her to keep her blinds closed today!
We also have a section of roof that is flat with no access to the ground from outside.  The guys had to climb up there with ladders or come through the house.  They used ladders.  They also fixed that roof.
Here's how it looks now - all done!  We still need to paint some trim pieces that were replaced.
The other side.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Great Big Book of Everything to do with Horse Shows 2010 Version

Horses:  We were a couple of years deep into horse showing when I was introduced to having a "show binder".  We were at one of our first "bigger" shows and I noticed all the mom's carrying around binders and a new friend asked me where mine was.  Ummmmm.....what is it and why do I need it?

She explained it was a place to keep all your horse's papers and anything you else you might need at the registration desk including copy of the Coggins, registration, numbers, show bills, ID cards, and most important - your check book.

We've now call our show book "The Great Big Book of Everything".  It's now my horse show bible and I'm totally lost without it.  I'm probably a little extreme in how mine is organized and in what it contains but I'm a bit of a binder queen...I find peace at the local Staples.  

The cover of our horse show book is just a copy of Stanley's registration paper - with a cute baby picture of our Stanley!

Inside is another copy of his registration in case I actually have to give it to someone along with several copies of his current Coggins - in a plastic sheet protector of course!
Next are copies of Equestrian Girl's ID cards for Paint, Novice Youth, and PAC (Paint Alternative Competition where you can track points at open shows)
On a nicely color coded chart we have our show schedule for 2010.  On my office wall this chart is greatly expanded to also include all our motocross races.  I kinda have a thing about color coded charts too... (I'm sounding nuttier by the minute)

After the pink tab are show bills for all the Paint shows with the classes EG will be doing.  There are several copies of each in the plastic sheet protector since I can go through 3-4 of them over a long weekend as I fold them up to stuff in and pull out of my pocket several hundred times per day.
Next are a bunch of copies of a chart I use to track EG's placings at the open shows and how many entries there are.  I need this information for the PAC forms and it also lets us see how she might be doing for high point for the day.
After the next tab, we have an entry form for each of the 5 open shows we will do with the Spur of the Moment Horse Club .  In each page protector with the entry form is the form that must be filled out and signed to send to APHA for the PAC points.  We messed up on this last year and waited until the end of the year to send them all in together not realizing they had to be mailed within 30 days of the show!  Oops.  EG lost out on a lot of PAC points because of that mistake.  This year all the forms are filled out as much as possible so we just have to fill in the results.
In the back of the book I keep extra copies of show numbers since we use the same two sets all summer long.  In the front I keep a set of blank checks and a couple of pens.

And this is how a slightly nutty homeschooling/horse show mom keeps organized.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Homeschooling thru Summer and Curriculum

While so many other homeschooling families are starting to slow down for the summer, I torture our kids with year 'round schooling.  We scale back some - only 3 days per week for a few hours - but I have found that by forging ahead, with just a few week long breaks, we maintain a better momentum and don't have any back sliding.  It's what works for us and being able to do what works for us is why we do this!

Alpha Omega Publications came out with a new online curriculum.  It's called Monarch.
Monarch is similar to the Switched on Schoolhouse programs but it's all on-line so it can be used from any computer including a Mac.  This really appealed to me for a few reasons.  First, I use a Mac.  It makes me crazy when companies create software that isn't compatible for both PC and Mac.  Second, I am annoyed with having to haul in each kid's laptop to check work and schedule the next week's lessons.  Third, my daughter's laptop "blew up" and we lost several weeks worth of school work because we had failed to do a back up recently. (Luckily I had all her grades in MY grade book but they won't show up on the software created report card now).

So I had good reasons for being quite interested in Monarch.  We use an online Math curriculum and I LOVE it.  I had chatted a few times with Emily Dorr - the best AOP Customer Service Rep bar none - about the Monarch and that I wanted to place an order during the big April sale.  I scoured the catalog and website picking out both what we needed NOW and what I wanted to have ready for the next step up.  I was planning on all Monarch based curricula.  And then I found out two major things about it that stopped me in my tracks.

One, it can't be used for more than one child.  Two, your purchase only allows you to use it for 18 months.  Ewww.

I only have two kids and in spite of the fact they are only 4 months apart in chronological age, they are very different learners and in the core subjects, one is at least a full year behind the other.  It saves me a lot of time and energy (as most homeschooling moms) to have the second kid use the same curriculum as the first kid.  Not to mention money.  I can have one kid fly through World History in 6 months while the other might take 2 years so restricting me to 18 months isn't so good...and it totally prevents you from buying ahead when it's on sale.

After some quick talking with Emily, I decided I still wanted to try Monarch and ordered 7th grade social studies for my son and Secondary Spanish for my daughter.  Daughter is already done with 7th grade SS and son isn't ready for the Social Studies she's doing now.  Daughter is very interested in learning more Spanish and son is very unlikely to ever want to learn a second language.  Both curricula won't need to be passed down and both SHOULD be able to get through them in the 18 months, especially if we school in both subjects through the summer.  For the other subjects...I think I'll have to stick with SOS even though I'm frustrated they won't run on my Mac or the Macbooks I hope to get the kids next year.

I really wish AOP had offered a subscription based enrollment for the new Monarch.  Aleks, the math we use, lets me enroll both kids for a base price per month (or pre-pay annually) with a discount for the 2nd child but both can be in different levels and we can move them around as needed.  Since Monarch's core subjects all cost the same, wouldn't it be cool if you could register for 1, 2, 3 classes and then have your choice of which ones to use?  Same for the electives!  Sign up for 1 and then maybe work on some health for a few months then switch over to consumer math for a few more all the while the grades are kept track of on line....and can be done on a Mac!!

Ah, in my perfect world.....

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Horses, horses, all horses!

Horses:   It's been all about horses around here lately.  Some of that might have to do with the fact that I've been in horsey boot camp for the past week.  In an odd turn of events, Equestrian Girl got grounded from riding a week and a half before her first show.  In the spirit of "teaching a lesson", it was decided that I would do this show and she would do all the things I normally do for her to get ready.  Gulp.  The good thing is that was this to be a "hair" show meaning no show clothes, no clipping, no banding, etc.  That made things a tad easier but my lack of riding in the hunt seat saddle for over a year didn't.  My thighs have been on FIRE all week.

Sadly enough, the forecast for this weekend is horrible.  Rain all day today and then even more rain with thunderstorms for tomorrow.  I decided we weren't going.  I want my first show to be fun and showing in the rain isn't.

In the mean time, we've been getting this season's show stuff together for Equestrian Girl.  The big deal of the year was a new showmanship outfit.

We had the jacket made by Wright Place Show Clothing  but I made the pants.  I love the way it turned out!  Next year I'll have chaps made to match so she can wear it for riding classes.

Our other big purchase was for tall boots.  Equestrian Girl is obviously very tall and very thin.  I was having a heck of a time finding boots that were both tall enough and narrow enough for her skinny calves.  I talked to a shoe repair guy and he said if I found good leather boots that were tall enough he could probably take them in a little if they had zippers.  But I still couldn't find any tall enough unless they were 3 sizes too big in the foot!

Then I happened upon a pair being sold on TackTrader.  They were custom made Der Dau boots and from the ad, they sounded perfect!  They had never been worn...After some negotiations we settled on $225 and when we got them...they fit perfect too!!!  They need to be broken in a little since they are stiff on the ankles but from what I've learned, these are very, very expensive boots.  Like $800 expensive to buy new.  Hopefully they last her a very long time now.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Google Bible

Homeschooling:  A few months ago we began using a Christian based language arts curriculum even though we are not especially religious.  We all really like it but we do get surprises now and then.  Today Equestrian Girl called me at work with a question/problem.

EG:  MOM!!  There are THREE questions in my assignment today that require me to read a certain bible passage and we don't even HAVE a bible!!  (said with much drama)

Me:  We do too have a bible.  It's upstairs in one of those cupboards.

EG:  It's probably really old.

Me:  Well of course it's old but the story hasn't changed in a few thousand years.

EG:  I meant dusty old.

Me:  Oh.  Just Google the passage you need and see if you can find it that way.

A few hours later...

Me:  Did you find the bible passage you needed?

EG:  Yes, it popped right up on Google.

Me:  Want me to get the real bible out for you when I get home so you can get the 'big picture'?

EG:  No.  I can just use the Google bible when I need it.

Sigh.  I guess blowing off vacation bible school was a mistake...

Sunday, April 11, 2010

The Kids take Charge!

HORSES:  A couple of weeks ago Equestrian Girl's 4-H club hosted a little horse show for members, family and friends.  While we didn't bring Stanley to show, we kept plenty busy!  We were the "show photographers" as well as high point secretary, ribbon distributor, announcer helper, etc.  While all the classes were fun to watch, I loved that so many kids talked their parents into doing the lead line class!

Kelsey has been showing for years with her mom tagging along as a good show mom should.  They coordinated their outfits for this class and won!
Athena is only 9 but has lots of show experience too as does her mom but she elected to take dear ol' Dad in the class - I think they got 2nd place.

Katrina hasn't been showing all that long but her mom rides so she also got her Dad into the act and brought him into the show ring!

Kari is another one with a mom who does some riding so step-dad was her choice and they looked great!

The show was a fund-raiser for the club and ended up being a huge success.  Everyone had a great time, the weather turned out good, and EG and I got some great photos!

Saturday, April 10, 2010


A few weeks ago Equestrian Girl got braces.  Here's a picture of her modeling them for the first time.  Can you see them?

What an amazing thing.  They are called Invisi-lines.  You can barely see them when they are on - you have to get pretty close.  And they can be taken off when she eats and to brush her teeth.  As I understand it they aren't for major orthodontic corrections but EG has a pretty good bite already so she totally fit the requirements!  Wish I had been so lucky when I was 12!!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Spring Motocross!

Motocross:  It's spring so that must mean motocross!  The new Suzuki 85 was decked out with the graphics and ready to GO.  Last Friday we did just that - packed up the motorcross trailer and hit the road for Log Road in Coldwater, MI.  We had been there once before 2 years ago but back then Motocross Boy was still on the junior track.  This time it was big track all the way.
 We had partly sunny skies and WARM weather but it was windy enough that I kept my sweatshirt on most of the time.  My ankles got sunburned in my capri pants!  My guy got out there and got faster and faster each lap of practice - it was a good day.
 This section of the track would come back to haunt Motocross Boy Saturday morning - looks innocent enough, doesn't it?
 Not a lot of spots for a relative beginner to catch air on this track but he managed here.
 The kid loves it when I get pictures of him "roosting" dirt.  For those not in the know that means making a rooter tail of dirt.
Alas, all that great practice didn't do Motocross Boy a lick of good the next day.  He had a good first lap and a tremendous second lap - I was timing it and and it was his best time yet.  But no more than I had hit the stop button and he hit those innocent looking bumps...and got a little squirrelly.  He held it together and the next one got him.  He went flying over the handle bars and landing hard on his upper back and shoulders.

After a few anxious moments the paramedics announced him "okay" and he walked off the track.  He wasn't quite okay YET but he came around and had no lasting damage.  He did, however, announce he wanted to take the rest of the year off from racing.  Uh oh.

We talked a lot about it on the way home and that night.  We absolutely do not want to push him if he's not comfortable or scared.  Those are the kids that get hurt and get hurt bad.  We know he's not the strongest or most competitive racer out there - he doesn't have that total lack of fear that the best riders have nor the win at all costs attitude.  By the next day he had scaled back his "want to take the year off" to just racing at MPX where the track is relatively easy and the competition isn't quite so tough.  But the minute he wants to quit or is too scared - we're done.