Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Smiling Family

We went to Stillwater Grill for the second time in a month to celebrate Scott's birthday this time.  Stillwater is yummy so it makes everyone smile!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Hair Cut!!

Motocross Boy/Man had been growing his hair out since early summer.  It was amazing how long and thick it was in just those few months but last week, he decided he'd had enough of the Justin Beiber look and came with me to have our old friend Beth buzz it off.  I like my handsome boy with short hair!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Homeschooling While Working Full Time

I have had a lot of people lately asking me how I manage to homeschool the kids and work full time.  I thought I'd spend a few minutes explaining it since this blog IS supposed to also be about homeschooling which is a HUGE part of our lives.

I'll be the first to admit it takes some time and dedication and I surely couldn't have done it well when the kids were little.  We were fortunate to begin our homeschooling journey when we were able to piece together a network of babysitters and ourselves being home during the day when they were pretty independent but not quite able to stay home alone for a couple of years.  Now they are both quite responsible and we just seem to make it work.

One of our big keys to making it all work is this chart:

This is actually Equestrian Girl's chart from last week.  Although I have the columns labeled Monday through Friday, neither of the kids ever follow it like that.  My only rule is that all the work has to be done by the end of the day and I really prefer that at least 1/5 gets done EACH day so it's not all piled up at the end of the week.  Giving due dates for assignments was an epic fail.  It was much easier to dictate how much needs to be done each week and then let them plan how to get it done.  That's probably a pretty good skill to learn anyway in managing time.

The other key to being able to homeschool while working is the software we use for most subjects.  I've written about Switched on Schoolhouse before.  This software allows a lot of independent learning and does almost all the grading for me!  It also tracks all the grades and provides a multitude of reports include a report card.  That used to take me a LOT of time.  Now grading takes just a few minutes every day (unless a long essay needs to be graded).

Basically the kids work on their school subjects during the day and when I get home from work, we review anything that was a problem.  That's not much different than what most parents do when they get home from work - they help with homework instead.  Sometimes I am able to work from home and we can tackle a problem as it comes up.  A few times, Motocross Boy has packed up his laptop and headed over to the next door neighbor's house where Jeff ends up giving him a lesson in something totally unrelated to what he's studying but a lesson in SOMEthing valuable!

So what does a typical day look like?  It's fairly different for each kid.  Motocross Boy is a late riser and it takes him a while to get motivated.  We're talking close to noon or later.  But once he gets going, he is all work and can crank out 1/5 of the week's work in just a couple of hours.  More often than not, he'll do 2/5's worth so he can take a day off later but this also means he might work well into the evening.  Since he didn't get up all that early, this isn't a problem since he's still wide awake and motivated.

Equestrian Girl tends to get a much earlier start.  She'll be up by 8:30 and eat a little breakfast before getting started.  But she tends to do one subject then take a little break.  Then another one and another little break.  She can spread those 6-7 subjects into 8 or 9 hours or more.  But that's her choice.  She can also buckle down and pump out the work if she finds she's fallen a little behind the 1/5 per day plan and needs to get it done on Friday.

We don't get to do as many field trips as some homeschoolers but no less than what they had in public school.  It's difficult to participate in homeschool co-ops unless they have a drop-off fee (meaning I don't have to teach or work in some way) and I absolutely need someone who can drive and pick up when I can't do it.  But the thing is, where there's a will there's a way and we find it.  I will match up my kid's education to anyone in our local public school any day and am confident when the time comes, they'll be ready to go to college or enter the work force as good, valuable citizens.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Horse Show Planning vs Motocross Race Planning

The difference in planning for horse shows vs motocross races kind of cracks me up.  For months Equestrian Girl and our friend Sheri have been scoping out last years attendance numbers in their respective divisions to see which shows give the best bang for the buck.  Big numbers mean potentially big points.  They scour the APHA website and map out how far for each show.  Last weekend, we got together to plan a big out of state show.  The only way we can all afford it is to go together to save on gas and camping and share the driving.  We started off with a big show in New Jersey in late April.  Hmmm, might be too early to have the horses in great shape.  How about New Jersey in late June?  Noooo, that's back to back with the IEA Nationals.  Missouri in late July?  Welllll, that would overlap with the last part of 4-H fair but...... So basically we have planned the whole show season out before the end of January.

Motocross?  I'm not even sure they have all the races listed anywhere yet and when they do...they boys will pretty much decide week by week if and where they might want to go.  ACK!  No list?  No plan?  No cost analysis?  ACK!!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Too cute!!!

Our friend Sheri got a baby mini donkey for her birthday a couple months ago.  This little guy is just too cute for words!

He thinks he's a dog and just goes and does what he pleases.

And he has the tiniest little feet!

And the ears.  You have to love the ears!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

North American International Auto Show

Motocross Boy and I spent an afternoon at the Auto Show.  Some of the displays were over the top this year including this first one for Ford where he's standing on this platform that transforms into a video screen where he's IN the action.  I'm supposed to get a YouTube video of it later...

This is a Shelby Cobra - you can't quite see him in the drivers seat because of the lights.

A very cool concept car - no side view mirrors - it uses cameras instead!

Cadillac Escalade - take to make his sister jealous since that's her favorite car.

A very red, very shiny Dodge Truck decked out with Detroit Red Wings Logos.

And the best?  A white Porche that "fits me just perfect!"

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Looking Smart!

Equestrian Girl is taking Algebra and Spanish at a homeschool co-op this year.  At first she didn't like it at all but it started to grow on her.  When she got a 4.0 for the first semester in Algebra, she was quite happy.  When the teacher was asking questions of the students today and EG was the only one answering, she asked another and said, "Can someone answer this beside EG today?"  That makes her smile too!  Spanish doesn't make her smile as much as Algebra but it's all good.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

More Rewards from Showing

Equestrian Girl was very excited to get a FedEx package from APHA a few days ago. Inside was this embroidered halter announcing that she and Stanley had won their Versatility Award!  I don't remember the exact qualifications but you have to have a certain number of points in several different types of classes to qualify.

Surprisingly, the halter came with a lead too!

Here's the certificate that came with it and the one below is her Superior for Showmanship.

Monday, January 23, 2012

IeA Team Meet at Findlay - Reining

Next up was reining (after a long wait for all the other classes to finish).  Same scene - mount a few minutes before your turn and wait with your coach for any last minute instructions.

It was a pretty simple reining pattern since the horses weren't wearing sliding plates.  Two circles to the left, two to the right, back up the middle and around to the right then all the way straight down the long side, stop, roll back, back to the other end, roll back, just past the middle to a stop and back up 1 horse length.

Equestrian Girl had a nice little horse but he wasn't happy about being in the arena again and tossed his head and complained a little.  She rode him great and ended up in 3rd!!  Another great finish.

At the end of the day, my girl ended up having qualified for regionals under just 3 judges!  You  can show under as many as 5 to qualify but it only took her 3 to lock it in!!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

IEA Team Meet at Findlay - Horsemanship

Joining this IEA team has had so many good things come out of it besides just meeting new friends and having fun.  Equestrian Girl has shown she can have good equitation riding any horse and not just her own and her confidence in riding these horses has blossomed like crazy.  I know she's just as proud of herself as we are of her.  This meet was no exception.  It was tough competition with a lot of teams there to compete since it's one of the few northern meets in a heated arena!  University of Findlay has a beautiful facility and practically dust free.  It was amazing and they provided some really nice horses too.

EG drew this cute Paint gelding for horsemanship.  You only get to mount a few minutes before the class starts to have time for the handler to tell you a little bit about the horse and for your coach to adjust your stirrups.  It's just a quick consultation and then they are off to ride.

The stands on both sides of the arena were full. We had over 100 riders in this meet.

Equestrian Girl caught the judge's eye on her first pass and he kept a close eye on her the rest of the ride.

Always upright and looking confident even when the horse is going a little fast or acting up.

And especially when he's giving her a pretty little jog that would impress any western pleasure rider.

The girl on the horse behind her stuck to the rail pushing Madison off of it to stay out front.  It wasn't what she'd normally do in a western class but it worked.

Made her stand out from the crowd even though she did have a good rail position with most of the other horses clumped together on the other side of the arena.

And the winner was....Equestrian Girl!!!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Equestrian Girl Turns 14

Having my own birthday just before Christmas makes me know the importance of celebrating it appropriately as a BIRTHDAY and not as an extension of Christmas (NO Christmas wrapping paper for a near-Christmas birthday EVER!!).  Equestrian Girl's bday is just after Christmas.

It seems silly but she wanted these big royal looking curtain tie backs for her newly redecorated bedroom.

She picked out this sweater herself - very traditional and very warm.

And then the big gift that she wasn't expecting.  A new camera.

I love her smile.

My Hancock Horseman - IEA Team Rider

Equestrian Girl finally got her team sweats for IEA (Interscholastic Equestrian Team).  She was pretty excited about it and had to model them first thing the next morning.  The pants are even long enough!

 She also got a heavy parka embroidered with her name and the logo on the front and a big version of the logo on the back.  The coat is awesome - very long and very warm which is great since most of these IEA meets are in winter and not many are in heated arenas.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Baking? Me?

I had to bring something to the IEA bake sale for a fund raiser.  I don't really bake.  My mom and sister bake.  I buy.  Well I compromised on these fancy chocolate dipped rice crispy treats. I stole the idea from a blog that plans parties and I apologize but I can't give credit because I can't find it again now.  But the idea is to stick a rice crispy treat on a stick and dip it in chocolate and add sprinkles.

Knowing my talent for baking and that rice crispy treats often come out rather soft and "floppy" until they sit for a couple of days (time I didn't have), I hit Costco for a big box of the pre-wrapped kind.  All perfectly cut rectangles and just the right firmness.

I DID melt my own chocolate (admitting I messed up one bag of the white chocolate and burned it in the microwave! which explains why there isn't very many white or pink ones) and I did add the sprinkles and crushed heath bar stuff that looks like peanuts.

Then I had to wrap the darn things.  They were for individual sales at a horse show - so not the cleanest environment (though compared to other facilities we've been, this one is pristine).  I didn't have much ribbon so I had to split the ribbon in half and still ran out.  I had some white ribbon that was pretty wide so that got split into thirds.  Sigh.  But I got them done and they did turn out looking quite good!  Sales weren't as brisk as I had hoped but in the end they were all gone and I came home with just a bunch of empty mason jars.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Last of the Deeetroit Sunrises for a while!

I won't promise but I'll try.  It's just so hard not to try to capture this kind of magic on my camera.  I really should start bringing in the good camera instead of shooting these with my cell phone.

I think this one looks like someone did a quick rub with a black crayon in the sky.

This one they chose a red crayon.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

A very different sunset

I had to catch this one while driving and it wasn't my normal full of reds and oranges kind of sunset.  It was almost devoid of all color except a faint rainbow effect around the sun itself.  The first one I had the camera aimed a little too high but I loved the effect of the clouds.  So thick and ominous.

The "good pic" still showed those clouds but also the actual sun breaking through those thick clouds to create a pretty cool show.  Nature gives us so much to appreciate.