Thursday, October 28, 2010


Today was the company Halloween party for kids at Ken's work.

Kelly's had half days this week, and I've been off-and-on in charge of several of her friends (and acquaintances) who couldn't make alternate child-care arrangements.

This is on the heels of Ken getting over pneumonia. Yes, the skies opened, and light shone down from heaven, and the angels sang, and the lyrics went something like this:

"Go see a doctor! Hallelujah Amen"

So Ken's spent the last 2 weeks on antibiotics and an inhaler, after actually taking some sick days, and asking me if it's unusual for your lungs to feel like they're full of bubbles first thing in the morning.


Why I even mention that Ken is getting over pneumonia, is because I came down with something pretty awful on Sunday afternoon while I was sobbing into my sleeve at every other scene in Secretariat. And i would have loved to crawl into bed and stay there for a week, but Kelly's costume wasn't finished, Skip didn't even know what he wanted to be, my tutoring schedule started on Monday, and I had a costumed Guitar Lady gig on Wednesday that couldn't be rescheduled. And I thought I had until Halloween to finish the costumes, but it turns out that today was the day for the Company Work Party, and it also coincided with me having two of Kelly's friends staying with us.

So, this is my day:

  • Skip leaves at dawn with Ken. Ken has a basketball game and an appointment with his knee surgeon (surgery's scheduled for next month, unless the pneumonia pushes it back a bit). He will drop Skip at school on his way.

  • I get Nate and Kelly up. It's 'wear purple' day at Nate's school, and "backwards day" at Kelly's. Couldn't the schools agree on the whole 'school spirit' thing? It would make life easier for me. But Kelly gives Nate one of her (many) purple sweaters, and he's happy.

  • I can't find my keys, Nate can't find his shoes, we're running late to get Kelly to her 'walk to school' rendezvous, so I drop Nate at the rendezvous point, so he can walk to school, and I take Kelly in.

  • I realize that I haven't eaten since lunch on Sunday (no. SRSLY) so I stop at Starbucks on my way to my Moms in Touch meeting, and get a slice of lemon loaf and a cup of tea. Break fast, in the truest sense of the word.

  • After my meeting, it's back to the house to start the dishwasher, and switch the laundry over. Oh, and I may have done one or two rounds of Bejeweled on Facebook. I confess. I'm an addict.

  • Time to head up to Nate's school to tutor until lunch.

  • Ding! Go home and hunt for the supplies to make Kelly's crown. She's 'Queen Lucy of Narnia' this year.

  • Phone rings. Kelly's still at school and can't find Gail. Whoops. Forgot to tell Kelly that only Adria is coming home now. We'll be getting Gail from another school where she's doing some community service this afternoon.

  • Go get Kelly and Adria.

  • Make lunch. While girls eat, I make the crown, and finish Kelly's costume. It is rough. really rough. A hack job. But I am sick. Yes, that is my excuse. And I tried to cut down a Women's size 6 pattern to fit a Girl's size 10. Not smart.

  • 2:30 Time to get Nate from school. Whoops. Go back. Get Nate's costume from his room. Start again.

  • 2:40 Get Nate

  • 2:50 Get Gail from her other school.

  • 3:00 Get Skip from the juice bar where he's been waiting for me. Whew. Still have my Guitar Lady costume stuff in the van. He can use that.

  • 3:30 Get Ken from his office, and drive over to the other part of the work campus for the Halloween party.

  • 4:45 Leave Nate with Ken, and take remaining kids for supper. Skip tells me what he wants to make for his 'real' Halloween costume, and i tell him I will get components while he's out at the youth event tonight.

  • 6:00 Drop Skip and the girls off at the Youth Chill night at our church.

  • 6:00-8:00 Cruise around Joanns and Michaels looking for Skip's costume parts.

  • 8:00 Collect kids from church.

  • 8:20 Drop Gail off at the half-way point to her parents' house

  • 8:40 Drop Adria off at her house.

  • 8:50 Arrive home. I would like to fall over dead, as the cough medicine wore off long ago, as did the fever reducer and pain reliever.

  • 9:00 Nate has a complete melt down. Apparently, his homework was in my car the whole time (he went home with Ken, so Ken could use the carpool lane, and i didn't have to detour on my way to get the kids to Youth). And when you don't hand in homework on Friday, you go to "Homework Workshop", which, to my mind sounds fine, but in his eyes, it is A FATE WORSE THAN DEATH. And he is inconsolable. You should see the tears! It took me until nearly 10 to get him into bed, with promises of getting up early to help him with the parts that he doesn't understand (apparently, the Friday homework involves 'creative writing', and we all know how much the boys in our family do with that. Ahem)

But I didn't start this entry to detail a day that really should have been summed up in one line

  • The kids took care of themselves, and I slept all day.

I really wanted to show you the Halloween Party.


And the sky! Oh, it was wild. It was all glowering and dimply, and if it had even THOUGHT of turning that sick color of green that people talk about, I would've been taking shelter faster than you could say "Auntie Em".

(this was looking in the 'good' direction. Still a bit of sun, and some breaks in the cloud cover)

And then we went to play with Stan.

Here you go, Stan. Have a flamingo.

And I would write more, but my daughter just came down to say "remember when you said you might be able to make Beaver Tails for my first period Halloween party tomorrow? Is it too late to remind you?"


Saturday, October 23, 2010

Juice in the City

Two weeks ago, a friend of mine sent me a link to this new deal-finding site in our area, called Juice In The City.

She probably wouldn't have shared it with me, if it hadn't been for the fact that the 'juice of the day' was a beach ride at Seahorse Ranch out on the coast.

We've never gone to Seahorse, but I know that Kelly has been hoping to get to know the Seahorse horses some day, because she's been introduced to one of the horses that's supposedly a Morgan horse, and that has a special historical cachet in Kelly's mind.

The price was pretty reasonable for what you got, so I pulled the trigger, sight unseen, and ended up with a coupon for two beach-and-trail rides.

Kelly decided to take a new friend out to ride last week. I think this is part of an ulterior motive to get this girl to come to horse camp next summer. She's never been on a horse before.

Here they are, waiting to see what horses will be taken off the line for them.

While they both look pretty happy, Gail is looking just ever so slightly apprehensive, no?

Fiesta is brought off the line for Kelly. Fiesta is the ranch manager's niece's favorite horse. If Kelly can't ride Typhoon, the Morgan horse, she's happy to have Fiesta.

Gail is a little bit nervous, being her first time on a horse, so the ranch manager gives her a private lesson before they head out onto the trail.

"Steer her like this, make her slow down like that, and when you're not steering, leave your hand right here on her mane, where she likes it. Sit back, not forward, and point your toes up and your heels down."

I wish I'd had a lesson like that before I went on my ride with the kids last summer. Would've saved me a world of hurt, I bet.

Anyways, they get all saddled up and ready to go...

And Nate and i jump into the van and see if we can cut them off at the pass (where the ranch trail heads out to the beachward trail).

Yup. here they come...

Gail is looking a little bit more confident, and Kelly is happy atop Fiesta, who finds it her job in life to lead, and make sure no other horses get in front of her. Kelly wondered for a brief moment if she should have brought her lead rope, just in case Gail got really nervous, and asked for a bit more security, but Gail was starting to relax, and everything would turn out fine in the end.

Off they went down the trail, and Nate and I jumped back in the van and headed for the beach.

When we got to the beach, there was an older guy dumpster-diving at the parking lot, and he let Nate toss pieces of an old baguette up into the air for a flock of seagulls that had gathered.

It was rather Hitchcock-esque, with all the birds flying around our heads.

But a whole lot of fun for Nate.

We pretty much had the beach to ourselves, that Wednesday afternoon.

Nate was only sharing with the flock of seagulls and a few willets, or yellowlegs, or godwits, or whatever those little critters were at the water's edge.

Here come the girls...

Gail looked a little bit more confident, until Daniela broke into a trot on the sand.

Uh oh. Sitting forward, and your toes are pointing down... you're losing control...

But soon she settles back into a walk, and the girls head up the beach.

Nate and I spend a little bit more time playing in the sand and waves.

And then we headed back to the ranch.

Nate asked if he could take some photos, so I hung the camera around his neck, and told him to do whatever he liked.

Ah, there's that 10 pound bag of carrots, coming in handy again.

And here come the girls, back to the ranch.

A fun way to spend the afternoon.

Thank you, Fiesta.

And now it's time for ice cream.

(cross your fingers that this saves. I've not had much luck today)

Toady and Superman

Last year, Nate's class had such a good time watching the toads in the classroom, that I told his teacher I would set up a toad tank for this year's group of students, too.

This past week was Toad Time.

Meet Superman:

You can't see it in this photo, but he has a little S on his back.

Oh... here's a shot of his back.

And this is Toady.

Here he is in the spoon:

And already, they are easily twice the size that Poison and Toxanne were.

And they have appetites.

And they're eating big crickets, rather than the puny small ones.

Hunting them, in and around the vines I've planted in the toad tank...

At least one of them is a male. We've heard the 'calling' sounds coming from the tank when it's quiet, but so far, we don't know which one is the male. Both of them might be males, turning the tank into a toadful bachelor pad.

Maybe I'll spring for a few more toads after Christmas.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Pony Windfall

Yesterday, after a frantic start where we forgot to set our alarms, and nearly slept through waking up in time to get Skip to school (High School was in session, Middle and Elementary schools were off), I realized that our whole day stretched ahead of us, and it was only 730am.


What to do... what to do...?

I made a quick, executive decision, and we rushed into the van and headed over to the coast to see if the weather was any good at all for a beach ride.

As sunny as it was at our house, it was even more brilliant at the coast, even though the evening before, it had been thick with cold, biting fog:

(why yes, I did take Kelly and a friend back over to the beach on Sunday afternoon to check on the decomposing whale... why do you ask?)

But look at the sunny day yesterday!

I dropped Kelly off at the ranch, and after an initial breakdown in communication (my Spanish stinks) where I thought the first ride of the day had already gone out, when really, Kelly was the ONLY person that showed up for it, Kelly got kitted up for a solo ride.

Samurai was sleepily standing on the line, not even saddled up. Oh, but that would change.

And in the early morning light, they headed off.

Nate and I ran a few errands before we headed down to the beach. First, I bought him a Starbucks breakfast (as a bribe, because really, the trip to the coast is most fun for Kelly), and then we went to the local drug store, hoping to find some beach/sand toys. Fortunately, they were clearing out all their summer stuff, and we got two actual REAL garden trowels for $0.29. gotta love 90% clearance.

When we got to the beach, we discovered that they're turning the parking lot into a pay-to-park lot. Oh well. But how, exactly, do we pay?

There were very few people on the beach that early in the morning. we pretty much had the place to ourselves.

But before we could get down to business, here comes Kelly and her guide.

"Mom! He's letting me lead the way, and he keeps asking me if I want to go faster! This is great!"

And then the guide cantered off down the beach, and Kelly had to race to catch up.

It was nearly high tide, and the waves were nearly up to the crest of the beach. Good thing Samurai doesn't really care if his feet get wet.

And then Nate and I got down to the business of digging in the sand and chasing the waves.

Apparently, the water is colder than it looks.

Oh, and look, here comes Kelly and the guide. He is such a mystery man.

Oh, but he's taken off, and now she's got to race to catch up to him.

A pair of little stubby bulldogs came along the beach at one point. They were so cute. The boy waddled up to me, leaned against my leg, and took a nap. The little girl was more adventurous, and went exploring the waves.

We almost had to rush into the waves to rescue her, as she kept chasing the outgoing waves, and then not having enough time to get out of the waves' way when they came back up the beach. One of the waves actually tumbled her, but her low center of mass (and great mass) probably helped her not to get towed out to China.

She found Nate thoroughly enchanting, and I think he was only a little bit afraid of her.

Because of the little adventure with the bulldogs, we stayed at the beach a little bit too long, and had to rush to get back to the ranch.

Whew, no sign of folks, so we must have beaten them home, I thought, as we pulled in to the parking area. But then I saw the guide toting a wheelbarrow around behind the barn. Um... Kelly? Where are you?

I quickly got out of the van, and went over to the guide, who was now with the ranch manager, and apologized for being so late. "Oh, they were early. They must have raced home." said the ranch manager, Your daughter is back breaking down alfalfa bales and feeding the working horses. I put her to work. She's a good worker."

And there she was, behind the tack shed, feeding a few horses that needed extra attention.

I broke out the carrots (I always travel with a 5 pound bag. Don't you?) and we gave most of the horses a little surprise treat. It was VERY quiet at the ranch. So far, Kelly had been the only customer, so I guess they didn't mind the company.

After the carrots were all doled out, we were getting ready to leave, when the ranch manager came up to us, his phone to his ear. "Hey, can Kelly stay?" he asked, "There's a girl coming down to ride, and they don't want her to ride alone." I hesitated. While the early-bird special is affordable once in a while, the regular rides are pretty pricey, especially after just shelling out two weeks' pay on the ride she just finished. "Um, I don't know... we can't really..." I began, and he must have read my face, "Oh, it would be free. She'd be doing us a favor, actually."

Kelly's face lit up like a Christmas Tree. Even I couldn't believe her good fortune.

And so that's how she ended up getting Samurai ready to go out again, not half an hour after returning from her first ride of the day.

(yup, it was much warmer the second time getting on the horse)

And that's how Nate and I ended up on the beach... again.

The surf was a little higher. The waves a little bigger. The wind a little stronger. Above, Nate is just running over the crest of the beach. Everything to the left of him had been completely dry sand, but you can see that a big wave has just pushed over the crest, soaking the dry sand. I should've taken a photo of the people sitting on the picnic blanket just to the left of this frame. Hah! Surprise!

Anyways, look! here comes Kelly... again.

And just as I took this shot... I turn around, and...

But he is not fast enough, and we look down to see Nate's shoes being washed inshore by the wave's foamy push.

Oh well. Kelly and her new friend ride off into the breeze.

And when the girls got back to the ranch, they "got to" make the oat/hay/molasses porridge for the horses before they left.

Once again, in her eyes, the best day ever.