Tuesday, September 27, 2016


Most people know both of my kids are adopted from Latvia but not everyone realizes  my niece was born and adopted from Russia.  She's such a cool kid and an amazing artist!

I'm not sure why but I think she looks somewhat like my mom, who is modeling the jean jacket she customized recently!

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Up North

A couple of weeks ago I had to take a trip up to Boyne for a meeting.  I made a few side stops at interesting shops.  This one was in Gaylord...after winding through the store there was this back stair case leading to a basement filled with more fun junk!

This cool dragon made from steel and rebar was hidden among all the other weird goodies!

After dinner, I found a bench on the beach at the park and enjoyed the sunset and mild breeze.  It was one of those absolutely perfect weather kinds of evenings.  This is right in downtown Boyne City.

I spent a lot of my youth in Boyne City with my cousins.  My uncle owned the Dairy Queen there.  It's changed so much over the years and is much more "upscale" than in the old days.  I don't remember this park being here nor this many nice boats at the marina.  Either way, it was a nice side trip for work!

Monday, September 19, 2016

My Abby

My Abby is here to visit again!  I can't believe how much she has perked up since we started bringing her over.  Maybe she was depressed?

Sunday, September 18, 2016

And they are off!! First ride on the OTTB, Vince

After a month of letting Vince figure out how to be a NON race horse and doing lots and lots of bond strengthening ground work, it was time to mount up.  As a mom, letting your kid, even if she's an 18 year old with tons of riding experience, get on a new horse is always a little nerve wracking.  Getting on one that has never done anything but run like the wind...even more so I guess.

When the day came, I wanted reinforcements around - at least a team of two on the ground.  We enlisted Maggie to help out since she has the most experience in this area and I stepped back to just take pictures.

It was pretty uneventful.  Vince stood perfectly still while Madison mounted up.  He walked off nicely and was a perfect gentleman!  They even did a tiny bit of trotting with nothing to get excited about.  They called it quit after about 10 minutes and we all celebrated a successful start.

I think it's obvious from the smile on Madison's face that she was very happy with how the first ride went!

Hugs and kisses for this big goober were in order.  Now we just need to get some more weight on him so doesn't look like such a little horse under Madison's long legs.

This pair is going to be doing some great things in a couple of years!

Saturday, September 17, 2016

End of Summer

Since I'm not a hot weather person, I have a lot to love about the end of summer.  I love when the weather starts to cool off at night and even when the temperature is in the 80's, you can feel that slight chill to the air.  Love it.  

I also love end of the summer watermelon!  YUM!  It's hard to find these big daddy seeded watermelons any more since the trend it to the smaller seedless variety but OH MY these are the best!  Sweet, sweet, sweet!  Nothing better!  This baby weighed about 30 lbs picked up from a farm market on the way home from the barn one afternoon.  Along with some incredibly awesome beefsteak tomatoes.  BLT's for dinner with watermelon dessert.  Heaven.

I picked up this purple/pink mum at Costco and then we brought home the yellow one from a baby shower.  They add so much color to this north side of the house by the front porch. Just in time since my bright orange zinnia's are fading pretty fast.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016


I think like most middle age mom's of my generation, I'm not all that comfortable with getting my picture taken and even MORE uncomfortable with "selfies".  But as I have looked back over the pictures I have taken, there are so few with me in them and I see the same phenomenon with my own mom, sister, friends.  What's there to be afraid of?  Shouldn't my kids be able to see pictures of me some day and say, "WOW, I'm so glad I have these pictures of my Mom"?  So I might not look all that great to me (and I may still need to erase a few wrinkles before publishing!) but I'm going to make an effort.  I need to be in more pictures in all my glory - even if it's sitting at my desk in the office.

My beautiful niece seems to have the same phobia but for totally different reasons, no doubt.  This is her back to school picture.  Love this kid!

Tuesday, September 13, 2016


For people who aren't familiar with "barn life", there's a certain serenity about being around one that just relaxes you and makes you smile.  The little noises, the warmth, the smells - they all make for a feeling I've never felt anywhere else.

While chickens are way noisier than most would imagine, their constant babbling is oddly comforting.

Maggie has three little ones.  Her farm is a crazy mess of kids, toys, and animals.

The farm next door, where Mata Hari will be living, has a totally different feeling but just as serene.  This farm is neat as a pin with just horses.  And beautiful views of the sunset from the arena.  This pic doesn't do it justice at all.  Better ones to come in the future, I'm sure!

This farm has beautiful flowers that glowed in the setting sunlight.


Monday, September 12, 2016

Holiday Weekend

Madison and I spent the weekend mostly being lazy and hanging out with the horses at the new barn (she was also farm sitting so she had to be there twice a day to feed anyway).

We had beautiful weather.  The new OTTB, Vince, started his day long lining and did great!  Unlike the Princess Pony, he's not a grass diver so working out on the soft grass doesn't make him crazy.

I also made friends with the resident barn cat.  She took over my spot on the wagon when I got up.

Mata Hari, better known as the Princess Pony, is still in rehab from the suspensory injury and is  now up to 15 minutes of riding at a walk.  Madison rode her first for 5 minutes and then I took my turn for the other 10 minutes.  The next day we split it 7 and 8.

Madison also gave me "lessons" while I was riding since I have a tendency to just let Mata Hari walk however she wants and don't actually "work" on anything including my own riding position.  Oops.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

IKEA Wannabe

I forgot to take pictures as we built it but Madison's boy friend Mitch and I built this little beauty.  That dark spot in the middle is actually an electric fireplace.  Another fine Amazon purchase!

Friday, September 9, 2016


Sometimes I think we are just destined to be "barn hoppers".  We spent several great years at Superior with Stanley.  When we sold him and got Mata Hari, we moved to Foxcroft and were there quite happily until exactly this time last year.  Since the owners were selling their farm, we had no choice.  We moved to Steppin' Up which was okay, but just not "us". When they raised the board fees in March, we decided to move on.  We thought we had found the perfect place in Hartland but alas, giving both of my kids alcohol and trying to molest one of them just didn't fit into "perfect".

So we loaded up the truck and moved to Maggie's.

Mata Hari is happy - her chicken friends aren't in this picture but she loves their company.

Vince is content.  Now he can gain some weight back under Maggie's nutrition plan and watchful eye.

Maggie has a farm-full right now.  She also has Jill's horse and three ponies in residence for another week until they move to western Michigan.

Luckily the weather has been good and they have good tree cover in the back pasture because the little barn only has 4 stalls.

But everyone gets lots of hay and is happy.  They also get the attention of the chickens and goats along with Maggie's 3 kids.

That's Madison riding Mata Hari in the distance.  The red barn in the background is the next door neighbor's indoor arena.  We will have free use of her facilities and will probably be moving Mata Hari to her barn at some point.

Here is a little closer up view.  It's a beautiful farm.

Vince loves getting groomed, just like Mata Hari does.

He loves the chickens, too!

And while he's still skinny, he is doing really well figuring out how to not be a race horse.  Within a week or so, Madison will be starting to ride him!

Here's a view of the other side of the neighbor's place from the road - excuse the window reflections.

She has an awesome old farm house!

And this is her outdoor arena.  This was about 1 pm - and still lots of shade from all the evergreen/pine trees!

Thursday, September 8, 2016

My Abby came to visit!

My Abby has been living with Scott.  She's old - 13 now.  She's very comfortable in that house with the doggy doors and fenced in yard, only three big wide steps to the door.  So while it broke my heart to leave her behind, I knew it was the best thing for her.

Labor Day weekend, Scott was going up north, Austin was away at school, and Madison had to farm sit so Abby needed to come visit me!  I don't have much of a yard but she mostly sleeps now.  She's been going out on the leash for short walks with me and we tied up a horse lunge rope to the deck so she can do her business "in private".

She was very nervous at first and spend the first couple hours just pacing around the house.  Then she finally settled down.  She's been okay ever since.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

A little DIY

Sometimes I get ideas into my head...and then just have to do them.

I started out with a piece of 1/4 inch plywood and some measurements.  I used my handy tape measure, a red pen, and a piece of quarter round as a "straight edge" to mark off planks.  I did this sitting on the deck.

Next I brought it back inside and painted it white. Same white as I have painted all the walls.  This was step 2 so I didn't have to worry about putting the painted side down on the deck to mark the lines.  I was actually thinking ahead!

I didn't get pictures of myself cutting the board with my little jig saw.  I didn't use clamps, didn't have anything to brace the wood, and my lines are wobbly as hell because of it.  I also didn't use the right saw blade - it wasn't meant for this type of wood but it was all I had and I was too impatient to go buy more blades before starting.

Some trim pieces on the outside edges cover up the fact that I cut the boards a tad too short.  Oops.  Measure twice, cut once and all that.    Just the same, I love the way it turned out.  Now to get one more stool, paint them lime green, and it will be all done!

Monday, September 5, 2016

Sending my boy off into the world...

This blog was started not long after Austin was expelled from school at 10 years old.  Expelled.  Kicked out.  As in, "you can't come back here".  That's when we started homeschooling.  It was the best thing that could have happened to him although it sure didn't seem like it at the time!  It was also when I became a undying advocate for special education in our pubic schools.  Kids like mine should NEVER be expelled.  But I'll stay off that soapbox for a minute.

Austin was accepted to the Michigan Career and Technical Institute.  It's a program run by the state of Michigan to get disabled kids ready for a CAREER.  They want them to become productive citizens - tax payers instead of tax burdens.

First step was a bank account with a debit card. GULP.  Thank you University of Michigan Credit Union for making this easy on both of us.  Linked to my account so I can put only X amount in his debit account so it works like a pre-paid Visa.  No overspending!  Plus he has to talk to his momma once in a while to get me to put more money in it for him!

Next step registration  and getting his dorm room with his best buddy, Jim.

The rooms are pretty spartan and being boys, they probably won't do much decorating.  I'm hoping he made his bed.  He was really more interested in the GIANT spiders living outside the window.

Moved in - with mini fridge and microwave!

And a big ol' bathroom to be shared by 4 boys.  And kept clean by them. Uh oh. :)