Monday, September 23, 2013

Shaking Things Up

This year in school Austin is loaned a book each week that is “just right” for his level.  He is suppose to read it several times throughout the week and on Friday he takes a test on the content.  If he gets 80% or higher he passes and moves on to the next book.  He has to pass a fiction book and a non-fiction book from each level before he moves on to the next level.

Last week his non-fiction title was “How to Make Ice Cream”.  I remember churning ice cream at my Grandma Smith’s house with all the cousins when I was younger and I also remember it being delicious so I told Austin the night before his test that he could read the book out loud to us and we’d do everything he said to see if we could make good ice cream.

We all took turns shaking the bag.  That bag gets COLD so it was passed often.  My kids’ “shaking” faces were cracking me up.




It was an intense job.

But their efforts were worth it.  The ice cream, though extremely low in volume, was delicious!  There were immediate requests to do it again some day soon.

I hope Austin brings home some other instruction books for us.  “How to Win the Lottery” or something along those lines would be nice.

Friday, September 13, 2013

My Little Equestrian

It’s no secret that Riley loves horses.  I don’t know why some girls love horses and others couldn’t care less, but Riley definitely fits into the former category.

Right before the end of summer I was able to snag a Groupon deal for private horse riding lessons.  Four 45-minute lessons for $50.  I called and talked to the owner to learn more about the lessons and ask some questions regarding safety and then went ahead an purchased the lessons.

Last week I called to set up her first lesson.  The owner of this place is very gruff on the phone.  She definitely doesn’t leave me feeling all warm and fuzzy about leaving my daughter in her hands so I figured I would stick close by during the lesson to make sure Riley’s well-being was top priority.

Riley and I arrived at the stable and, as I was sort of expecting, by all appearances it was a dump.  I had confided in my sister and mom that I was nervous about the place because it was almost too good of a deal but I was willing to take the risk.  Shortly after we arrived (and were greeted by no less than 4 rather large dogs…thankfully Riley loved them all) Riley’s instructor, Morgan, introduced herself.  She had a Flock of Seagulls hair cut with a bleach dye job that was growing out.  Again, based only on stereotypes, I was worried.  But, she was very  nice with Riley and led her into the barn to pick up her horse to be groomed.  As Morgan was getting ready to get Cherokee out of the stall the owner showed up and said that Lucy would be a better horse for Riley because Cherokee was not patient enough.  Morgan explained that she thought Lucy’s eye was still swollen from being kicked in the head by another horse.  The owner looked at Lucy’s eye and deemed her well. 

My anxiety went up a bit….what kind of mean horses was she boarding here?  Kicking each other in the face?

Meanwhile, as Riley and Morgan were leading Lucy out of her pen, Lucy stepped on her empty, upside down, feed pail.  Her hoof went right through the bucket and now poor Lucy has a bucket stuck on her leg and cannot get it off.  She, understandably, is freaking out.  Truth be told, internally, so was I.  Riley was oblivious to the whole ordeal playing with the goats and dogs big enough to take riding lessons on.  Meanwhile, back at the ranch (Ha!  See what I did there!) the owner showed up angry as can be over an empty feed pail left in the stall and summoned Morgan to go get the stable hand Travis.  She then said “Mom, come hold this horse”.  I obliged but as I was holding on I said “Here’s my dirty little secret.  My daughter loves horses, but I do not.  Unless I am on top of the horse riding it, I am scared.  So, I will hold this horse’s reigns for you, but if she makes any sudden moves, I’m outta here!”  The other stable hand showed up and I handed over the reigns and took Riley outside because the owner warned me that she would try not to swear at him but she wasn’t promising anything. 

Once Lucy’s foot was extracted from the bucket (Lucy almost passed out twice…it wasn’t pretty), they put a giant glob of eye medicine in her eye.  So, now Riley is about to get on a horse that was recently kicked in the head, traumatized by a bucket stuck on it’s leg, and is half blinded by thick medicine in one eye.  Nice.

Fortunately for my anxiety level, the lesson improved from this point on. 


Riley enjoyed every second she was on that horse.  She will be riding without a saddle until she gains great balance.  So, her lesson mostly worked on Riley feeling comfortable on the horse.  To do this, they walked the horse in a constant circle and Riley had to lean forward and touch her left ankle with her right hand and vice versa.  Reach forward, reach back and basically twist and turn on this horse while it was moving and not use the handle at all.  At the end of the lesson they even had Riley standing on the horse!  She did try trotting but that needs some work (on Riley’s part…although Lucy wasn’t that into it either).  Riley was practically bounced right off the horse during their one attempt.

Riley has asked every morning when she wakes up if she gets to go to riding lessons.  It’s a nice change to have an activity one of my children actually wants to go to.  Hopefully the non-groupon rate isn’t too crazy once these four lessons are used up!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013


Ellie walked in the door after school yesterday and said “Mom!  Guess what happened?”

She was so excited I knew it was something fun and I knew immediately that she lost her tooth but I answered “A crocodile showed up at school and read your teacher’s favorite book and then joined you for lunch and sat right next to you and ate your apple but then got a stomach ache…..”  I went on for quite awhile because I knew she was just dying to tell me what really happened.  I’m nice like that.

Honestly, her tooth was not really all that loose.  I didn’t expect that thing to come out until closer to October.  Ellie wanted to lose a tooth so badly that I’m pretty sure she forced it out prematurely.


She is not sure how she lost, but it was at lunch.  She didn’t find her tooth anywhere afterwards so I’m guessing she swallowed it. 

So, maybe not quite as cool as a crocodile showing up at school but she was excited and that’s what counts.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Riley too

Today, officially, everyone is back to school.  Including Rob.  But, I didn’t take the traditional “back to school” photo in front of the tree for Rob.  I do have Riley’s though:


Last night she was sad; today she was excited.  I’m hoping that the excited feeling remains.  If you remember, last year she had zero interest in going to school.  None.  I don’t know if I can handle another year of tears almost every time I mention going to school.

We are trying something different this year.  We have a neighbor girl, Alia, going to the same class as Riley.  So, on Mondays Riley will be going to Alia’s house right after Austin and Ellie get on the bus.  Then Alia’s mom will be watching the girls, feeding them lunch, bringing them to preschool and picking them up.  I will return that favor on Wednesdays.  Therefore, every Monday I am free from 8:30-3:30! 

I am only 4 hours into this new set-up and it is amazing what I can accomplish.  The idea is that I spend the full 7 hours working for Cargill.  I think realistically I will get in about 5-6 hours.  I also reserve the right to spend an occasional day doing absolutely nothing.

I do miss her though.  She’s a pretty fun little girl.


Even when I ask her to brush her hair out of her face so I can take another picture and she complies, and then as I’m snapping the picture she says “I’ll also stand on just one foot, like this.”.

Okay, sweetie.  Whatever floats your boat.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Back to School

Yesterday our summer fun came to an end as 2 of the 3 headed back to school.

Austin had mixed emotions about summer ending.  I’d say he was about 90% sad and 10% excited.  At open house he barely talked, which is NOT like him at all.  He only has 2, maybe 3, kids in his class that he knows so I think that made him a little nervous.



Ellie was very excited!  She was excited about her teacher, Ms. Masters (whom Austin had last year in 2nd grade, and also loved).  She was excited that there were 2 kids in her class that she knew, and she was really excited to take part in both gym and art this year!  She’s had her outfit picked out for weeks.


And it was weird just having Riley home with me.  Riley enjoyed her solo time with me for the first 6 hours, but missed her sister (and I’m sure her brother too) after that.  She was less than impressed with our plans to run errands most of the day.  I did take her for a nice long bike ride but that was the extent of our “fun”.

Both kids got off the bus with big smiles and had great first days.  Austin was able to flip-flop his ratios of excitement : sadness and Ellie had a blast in gym.  Ellie was disappointed she didn’t make any new friends but did have her eye on a girl she thought looked really nice and she thinks she’ll ask her today if she wants to be friends.


I’m glad these two enjoyed their first day but I have to say, it’s a little weird around the house without them.