My Year

This year I had made a New Year resolution that I would do things for myself.  As a mother and wife it’s easy to get lost.  I want to make everyone  happy.  Honestly, the past 22 years I made my purpose to nurture my family.  I kept our home neat and organized.  I worked in the garden to have beautiful flowers that changed each season.   I woke up at 5am to enjoy the peaceful silence in the morning.  I enjoyed my cup of coffee and would plan my day.  By 6am I would be watering and weeding my gardens.  7am I would make sure the kids had breakfast, made their lunches,  and were getting ready for school. While Izzy and Sophia were at school I cleaned up, made beds, and did errands.  After school we made a snack, did homework, and then I prepared dinner. When I went back to work things changed a little, but I still strived to be the best mother and wife.

This is what I learned from my mother.  She is the most loving, wonderful, and without a doubt the strongest/bravest person I know.  She made me who I am today.

When Izzy and Sophia started riding horses,  I went to all their lessons.  We would spend our whole Saturday at the barn. We made life long friends, and we found a community we wanted to be a part of.

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Comandible, Izzy and Sophia’s 1st horse

Our routine changed as Izzy and Sophia started to get serious about horses.  We were at the barn 7 days a week.  They sacrificed a lot for the sport. When looking back did they have a “normal” childhood?  Sometimes I feel that their sacrifices made them miss out on so much.  I wish they went on more sleepovers or maybe explored other interests.  Who knows…sigh.. maybe it’s just my parent/Catholic guilt talking.

I do know one thing I would change.  During this time Nick had to cook dinner to help us.  I don’t know how we survived those meals. Ha! I was back on dinner duties when we moved.  The first thing Izzy and Sophia said to me was: “Thank God you’re making dinner again!” Hahaha! Still makes me chuckle!!  I do love him for trying:)FullSizeRender

A lot changed when we moved to our farm.  So much to do, and so much to learn.  It’s hard work to care and maintain  animals and property.  I now know why farmers start their days at 4am.  I could spend every waking hour working outside, and there is always more to do.  I would say weed control and fence repair seem to be never ending.  Would I do it differently? I say no. I love it! But if I hit the lottery, look out! I’m hiring a gardener and handyman.

our goats helping with weed control

None of us were prepared for me to be diagnosed with cancer.  That was a huge set back.  I don’t talk much about that time.  I do have survivor’s guilt and ptsd from my experience.  With time I heal, but I’m forever changed.

This past September 11 marked my 3rd year of survivorship.  No one tells you what the effects of radiation and the drugs do.  There are times when I am frustrated because I can’t do all the things I once did. Sometimes it’s difficult to handle the daily pain and my groggy brain.   I still have days that I’m just too tired.   It took me to have cancer to learn how to ask for help. It took me to have cancer to be ok with living in an imperfect world.  I accept that sometimes there is a sink of dirty dishes or that I will put off dusting and vacuuming for another day.   I accept that I have more weeds than flowers growing in my garden. The things that I could get done in a day can take me weeks, and the past 3 years I have worked on accepting that it’s totally ok if it takes me longer.

Needless to say, while I was struggling so was my family.  I think these past years we were all a little lost.  Now, we have to all figured out what our new roles are. So, this is why I made the New Year resolution to have a me year. When, Izzy and Sophia were little I did so much for them and with them.  Now at  17 and 19, they are finding out who they are.  Just like I am.  My role in life has also changed.  Yes, I’m still a wife and mother, but they don’t need me the same way.  I need them more. They are my strength when I need it.

It’s been challenging to have a me year.  I have felt selfish and guilty at times.  So far, I’ve been on 3 trips with Nick and we did not bring the girls.  I shopped for new clothes and shoes in stores other than at Costco or Tractor Supply.  I’ve spent time at the spa, and  I’ve been learning how to relax with essential oils.   I have made time for friends, and have even rekindled some old friendships that I have missed dearly.  I begged, begged, and begged and we now have a new horse trailer that is easier for me to manage.IMG_4160

I love, love, LOVE this trailer!!

I took a few horse lessons so I could learn more about properly handling horses.  I have been getting out there and practicing my photography.  I’ve been reading the manual and books about my camera to learn all the features on it.  I love how my camera forces me to go outside and do something I enjoy.

Nick and I did whole30 .  I learned  what I eat affects my body.  I am vegetarian, and I thought I was a healthy eater.   Whole30 made me realize I can make better choices,  and when I do I feel better.

Another thing that I learned in my me year is that my kids really need me.  My friend, Elise brought to my attention that my kids still looked for my support.  They sought my approval in their decisions.  This took me back. I’ve been taking a step back these past few years.  I wanted them to start making the decisions with their horses.  Of course I wanted to be there for them, but let them take the lead.  I had Nick take them to lessons without me while I was working.  I also didn’t take the time off when they were showing, and would only go to their events on my days off.  I thought they wanted to be independent.  What happened was they started to show less and less. IMG_7314In my defense, I was going through my own heavy journey.  I was terrified of dying, and not seeing my kids grow up.  I was heartbroken thinking Nick would become a single parent and widower.  I feared the pain I would cause my kids, spouse, parents, and siblings.  I was also afraid of taking time off of work.  I was afraid of losing clients.

Looking back I should have taken time off.  Obviously, I was not in a good place.  I only took 4 days off after my lumpectomy.  The holiday season was starting, and that’s my busiest time.  I went to work after radiation treatments.  I was in survival mode.  I was afraid if I stopped I would realize I was sick.

I had to be strong for my family.  I had to show everyone that I was fine.  Thinking about this time I shake my head.  I was foolish.  I still lost clients, and the world did not end.  I just couldn’t keep up with my old pace, but I got through it all.  Honestly,  no matter how hard I tried to be “normal” it did not fool my family, friends, or clients.

No one tells you what is the aftermath of cancer. I will never be the same. I had to learn that I do have limits, and the fatigue… I never knew I could be so tired. Ugh! and why is my brain scramble eggs?  It’s just so frustrating!

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Sophia and Poni

Anyways,  I focused on listening to Izzy and Sophia, and have been working on being present. Sophia was wanting to get back into eventing.  It has been 5 years since her and Poni competed.

So I agreed to help her find a new eventing horse.  Sophia wanted to find an Irish Sport Horse. She felt that Delilah ( her horse she competes in the jumper ring with) was not the right fit to do cross country. The sport can be dangerous, and the partnership and trust that one needs is a must.  I love Delilah! I love all our horses, and I knew finding a new horse would run the risk of Sophia selling Delilah. I cried, but I had to get over it because this was not about me. I needed to do what would be best for Sophia and Delilah.

First thing I found out is that there were not a lot of Irish Sport Horses on the West Coast. Fewer in California, and fewer in our price range.  Sophia was sending me ads for horses all over the United States.  How do you shop for horses that are so far away?

It was nice to spend time with Sophia. I will take any positive communication from my then 16 year old daughter.  We were talking and we were doing something together. We found a couple horses that were promising after watching many, many videos.  We planned a couple road trips together.

First, we went to Southern California and visited a beautiful mare. Sophia liked her, but she did not want to make any quick decisions.  We were going to take our time, and Sophia was going to find her perfect match.

It was nice to spend a couple days together talking and having fun.  I was trying to encourage her to trust her instincts.  She knew what she was looking for, and I was here to support her.

A couple weeks later we planned a trip to Idaho to meet and ride a couple horses.  I do have to say my friends and family thought I was out of control.  Yes, there are a lot of horses for sale closer, but they were not an Irish Sport Horse.  I did not want to influence Sophia, and have her compromise.   She was looking for her dream horse.  So, in Melinda fashion we had to just go for it….what ever it takes.

We did not know what to expect in Idaho.  We drove straight to the barn.  Everyone that we met were very friendly, and made us feel welcome.  Sophia rode a couple horses, and one stood out.

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Sophia meeting Gwen at Parkwood Equestrian Center

Gwen, a 6 year old chestnut Irish Sport Horse.  She wasn’t exactly what Sophia was looking for.  Sophia wanted a horse with a little more experience.  Gwen had training and could jump, but she wasn’t finished.  She wasn’t perfect, but Sophia’s instincts were saying she was special.  IMG_4369We decided to check in a hotel and relax.  We made arrangements for Sophia to ride Gwen the following day.  We talked about all the pros and cons. We sent friends and our vet videos, and gathered all the information they gave us.  After we talked and talked and talked… we had to end the evening with a little ice cream.

vet check

The next morning Sophia made a decision.  She said Gwen was the one she was looking for.  A little background.  Sophia is the most indecisive person I know.  I knew she was serious when she told me her feelings for Gwen. I got on the phone to make arrangements for a thorough vet exam.  I felt good working with the vet hospital in Idaho and my vet at home.  I received 2 thumbs up after all the tests, blood work, and x-rays. A week later Gwen arrived to our home.

Gwen loving the water

Sophia spent her time getting to know Gwen.  Sophia took the risk with her.  We still did not know how she would be on a cross country field.  I signed her up for cross country camp, and we were  off again to Oregon House, CA.

At camp, the weather was great, Gwen was very willing with cross country, and we had a great time with some old friends.

Gwen was brave over the jumps

Now, we decided to prepare for their debut  horse trial.  3 day eventing has 3 different riding phases: dressage, show jumping, and cross country. There’s a lot of work involved.  I spent the summer taking Sophia, Gwen and Delilah to riding lessons.  I was so proud of her dedication.

Woodside Summer Horse Trials

We began our show season this year at the end of summer. We started late because I , as part of my me year,  went on a week long birthday vacation.  I didn’t forget to have fun!

Sophia and I laugh about this first show. Sophia was not prepared for this show.  We didn’t have time to school the cross country course, we ran out of time to ride Gwen in a dressage court, but Sophia just went for it.img_5771.jpg

And they were amazing! Yes, Sophia was nervous, but she tried her best.  They ended on their dressage score, and earned 4th place in their class. I was so proud of them.  I believe they will have a great eventing future.

We have gone to a few more shows and clinics.  Also, Jinxy was started under-saddle and taken to the Westphalen horse inspections.  Izzy spent most of her summer working.  She wanted to take some time off of showing, and just enjoy her horses.  Too much horse stuff to share. Keep a lookout for future posts.

I wanted to do a couple family activities as part of my year.  First, we raised 6 baby goats.  It was a lot of work, and all of us took shifts to bottle feed our babies.

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Nick and his little LeRoy Jenkins

These babies came from a local dairy. 4 were 1 to 2 weeks old and 2 were a couple days old.  It was a great experience.  We all bonded with these goats.  They are special to us.   When we first brought them home we had to feed them every 2 hours.  We all picked shifts. Izzy fed them in the morning and before she left for work.  Sophia took the after school shifts.  Nick and I did the after dinner shift and before bed shift.  And  I did the late night and early morning shifts.   We added an hour each week to the feed times and slowly weened them.  If I remember correctly, it was a 3 month process  for them to be fully weened.  Izzy and Sophia always talk about how much work it was, but they cherish that time.  They get very emotional when talking about the goats.  They will alway be their babies.

 

I decided to order day old chicks after the goats were fully weaned.  I never raised chicks so I thought it would be fun to do once. I like coop ready pullets. They are so much easier to care for.  They are fully feathered and ready to live outside.  But I wanted to experience raising chicks.  This was also a lot of work.  I was always concerned if they were warm enough. I ordered 14 chicks.  They were so cute.  I would sit with them and let them climb on me.  I watched them grow. They created friendships and bonds from the beginning.  Certain ones still roost together every night.

Ok,  I just realized  why I’m so tired.  These past 10 months have been jammed packed! Izzy and Sophia hint to me about raising all different animals.  I think I get a daily picture of lambs, pigs, kittens, puppies.  You name it, but I think I’m good for now.

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I have 2 more months to complete my me year.  I have a couple trips in the planning stages, but I need to figure out what will be next for me. So far, I feel I’m growing.  I’m discovering who I am.  I’m figuring out what brings me joy.  For so many years I focused on Nick and my girls.  I didn’t think about what makes me happy.  I thought I was happy when they were.  I’ve discovered that doing things for myself didn’t change our family dynamics. We are all busy and doing our own thing, but we all still make time for each other.  I’ve discovered that the girls feel it’s important for me to still be a part of their journey with their horses.  I don’t have to be their groom anymore, but my presence is required.  It has always been our thing.  When I’m watching them ride at a show, clinic, or lesson.  I notice they first will look for where I am, and it warms my heart.

Chicken Craze

We have been raising chickens for the past couple years.  In the beginning I was really scared of chickens, and did not want them.   Currently, I am chicken crazy! I love them, and have gone out of control.  2 years ago we started with 6 girls. Over that past couple years I have been adding new pullets here and there.  I have been selling my eggs to family, friends, and co-workers to help pay for my chicken obsession.  These are my new babies that I can spoil. DSC_6347who knew they have personalities.  Some are playful, some  grumpy, some are very cheeky.  I have 1 that is always by my side.  She likes to help me clean, she follows me while I’m filling up water, feeding, or just hanging out.

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Betty my side kick

I spent a lot of time researching breeds and have carefully picked each chicken.  They are all so beautiful!  This year I decided to get day old chicks.  It took me 2 days to decide what chicks I was going to order.  So much pressure! So many breeds to choose!!IMG_5234It was fun, but so much work raising babies.  Thank goodness for Sophia and Izzy.  They were a great help

 

I also have 3 ducks: Georgina, Blaire, and Serena.  They get along great with the chickens.  I believe they are the protectors.  Well, maybe they are just the Queen Bees of the coop.

 

I mostly have heritage and rare  breeds.  I love the classic ones like the Orpingtons, Marans,  Leghorns, ect.. but I had to add some fancy feathered Polish girls.

Hey Hey is molting but she normally has a big feathery head

My 3 new ones remind me of nuns. I named them: Sister Luke, Sister Bernadette, and Sister Mary Margaret

This girl may not have a huge plume of feathers on her head, but she has a unique tuft of feathers

I love how each chicken has it’s own individual beauty.  I can spend the whole day sitting in the coop.  It makes me so happy when they all come running to greet me. Yes, they know I am the one who feeds them.  But I can believe they love me too! LOL!         I do spoil them.  I normally have a special garden that I grow fruits and veggies for them.  I’m in the process of expanding and moving my garden.  Since I have to buy produce for them,  I’ve been making them special feed treats with dried lentils, peas, barley, black oil sunflower seeds, mealworms, and such.  I would have to say their ultimate favorite treat is watermelon.  They always lay more eggs  to thank me for the watermelon:)

Although I must sound insane, many people have told me that my eggs taste incredible.  I’m a true believer that  happy chickens lay incredible eggs.  

I will accept that I am a little chicken crazy, but it’s a good thing.  We should all have something in our lives that bring us joy.  Life can be so stressful.  I see so many people are angry and self absorbed  in there first world problems.   My girls bring me to a place where I can slow down.  Where I can just breath,  and remind me of what’s important in life. 

Buckskin and Pony Love

It’s been a long while since I have written a new post.  I needed some time to heal. I felt physically fine after my breast cancer saga, but my brain was a little fuzzy.  I have missed my blog, and have felt pretty guilty that a year has passed.  So much has happened.  Honestly, there’s really too much to recap.  I can say life has been great!   We are all healthy and happy.  We completed some big projects around the house.  Nick and I celebrated our 20 year wedding anniversary.  Izzy is 18 and graduated high school. Sophia is 16 and learning how to drive.  The horses are all wonderful.  They  happily ate up green pastures this spring.  We added more chickens and also have ducks.  We also lost our little chihuahua, Bubbles and our Golden Retriever, Riley.  We still mourn the lost of our dogs.  They were loved and the memories will always be cherished.  I still tear up thinking about them.

Now,  that you’re all caught up…we have a new addition!!  Well, 2 additions.

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First we welcomed,  Castaneta.  We were not looking for a new horse.  It just happened.   I believe that she came to us because she was meant to be with Izzy.  Izzy discovered Cassie when she watched a video of her.  She was a gorgeous 10 months old  buckskin filly.  Izzy wanted her because she’s related to her horse, Zade.  Cassie is Zade’s full sister’s baby. Izzy could see that Cassie shared the same quality gaits as Zade.  Cassie is a little more petite, but she still has some time to grow.   Periodically,  Izzy would show me updates of Cassie. We looked at pictures and videos of her growing up.  It was just timing.  Nick and I were not ready to buy another horse.  One day Izzy was so sad.  Cassie had been sold.  I felt bad, but I just thought that it wasn’t meant to be.  Long story short, I came across and ad.  I recognized the name.  It was Cassie!  The owner needed to find a new home for her.   She had been professionally trained and started under saddle.  Cassie is smart, very sweet, and has been a nice addition to our family.  Our 2nd addition is Hijinx. A German Riding Pony filly.  Honestly,  I don’t know how or what happened.  One minute we had 5 horses and the next we have 7.  We really were not looking for horses.  I guess all the stars aligned, and it happened.  Sophia has always dreamed of owning a German Riding Pony. She came across a video of a fancy moving  pony.  It was love at first sight.  Sophia has always wanted to raise a young horse.   She wants to start from the ground up.  Hijinx is only 2, and Sophia has a lot of plans to make Jinxy her eventing mount.   I can’t wait to see their progress.  Sophia is so in love with this little filly.  She has not stopped smiling since she arrived.  Jinxy came from Texas.  It was a new experience purchasing a horse out of state.  Jinxy arrived at 2:30am 4 days ago on a 70 foot trailer.  I was impressed with the hauling company,  Equine Express.   There was a day driver and a night driver.  They drove non-stop from Texas to California dropping off horses along the way.  I’m amazed they do this route weekly.  The drivers called me with updates, and they were professional and very kind.   Hijinx had never been on a trailer before and I know they properly cared for her.  She came off the trailer happy and calm. I am looking forward to this summer.  I thought it was going to be different as my girls are getting older.  It ‘s exciting to see a new phase in their love for horses.  New inspirations.  They have discovered that there is more to riding horses.  I see a maturity in Izzy and Sophia.  They are sharing their experiences and knowledge with these 2 young fillies.  As I always say:   It’s about the bond, the love for horses, and having fun. To be continued….

Chickens!

Well,  I have to say the kids finally wore me down.  After 2 1/2 years of asking if they could have chickens.  I finally said yes.   We had fun building a coop together and Izzy and Sophia were enthusiastic to help.IMG_7807Honestly, I haven’t seen them so happy and helpful in a long time.  It really made me thrilled that we were getting chickens, and if anyone knows me I don’t like chickens. I wrote in blog post,  Animals about the Farmstead  about my thoughts on livestock.  Chickens scared me, but after listening to why the girls wanted them… I said OK.  Plus, they told me I would never have to step foot in the coop.IMG_7847

We found  a local 4-H club selling 5/6 week old pullets.  I thought this was great to support the 4-H kids, and they were raised and handled daily since they hatched.  Most importantly we didn’t come home with any roosters.  Izzy and Sophia were so excited to be able to pick out their pullets.  They woke me up at 5:30am because they wanted to be the  first ones to arrive.IMG_8133

We came home with 6 girls:

  • Buff Orpington, Pearl
  • Barred Rock, Betty
  • Ameraucana, Beatrice
  • Rhode Island Red, Lucy
  • Black Star, Scarlett
  • Ameraucana, Hazel

They were so little! Izzy and Sophia spent hours sitting in the coop… just hanging out with them.  It has been a wonderful experience for all of us.IMG_8128

The girls all seemed to get along.  It was a pretty neat experience to watch and raise these hens.    I admit… I like chickens.  They are pretty cool.  I love their personalities.  I worry about them and make sure the girls give them fresh fruits and vegetables.  I can’t help  to spoil them, and  I am already designing a run expansion when they get bigger. IMG_8226

It’s been about 5 months since we brought home the girls.  They have grown up and it was time to give them more room to roam.  So, phase 2 began on our coop.  We added  some picket fencing to give the chickens more space.IMG_9533

My chicken/garden area started to take shape.  I’m imaging my raised beds filled with veggies and beautiful flowers. This project had made me remember how much I love gardening.  Izzy, Sophia, and I went to the local nursery and picked out a tree that will bring much needed shade to the chickens and the horse pasture.  We all picked some flowers to plant in pots, and it gave the area some color and character. IMG_9534

Izzy and Sophia had been successful in raising some beautiful chickens. Most importantly they taught me not to be afraid, and to step out of my comfort zone.  I enjoy having the chickens, and no longer fear them.  They are not what I expected, and now I can’t imagine living without chickens.IMG_9495

This has been such a fun project for me and the girls.  I won’t forget the chickens.  They are so happy! So happy that they started laying eggs!!IMG_9530

Onwards and Upwards

It’s been months since my last blog post, and I  was feeling pretty guilty for my neglect.  I had to simplify my priorities for the last 6 months as I went through treatment for breast cancer.  I never thought I would hear my doctor say “you have cancer”. Especially at 43.  It was my second mammogram. I had no symptoms. No lump I could feel.  I didn’t walk into my appointment expecting life altering news, but when the nurse asked me to sit and wait in the private room  I knew. I texted my husband, and told him I have cancer.  He said I shouldn’t jump to conclusions, but I just knew.  I went back the next morning for a biopsy, waited a few days, and it was confirmed breast cancer.

I’ve had challenges in my life, but nothing can describe the overwhelming punch in the gut kind of feeling cancer gave me.  It was caught early.  The doctors kept saying that I was lucky.  I didn’t feel lucky.  I have cancer.  That’s not lucky.   I felt grateful. Grateful that I always go to my annual doctor appointments.  No matter how much I grumble about going… I still go every year.  I’m in my 40’s. The time of prescription glasses and meds.  I need to be on top of my health if I want  to live well into my golden years.  I try to eat healthy and live an active life. Cancer was something I never worried about.  I don’t have a family history of cancer.  I was thinking heart attack, diabetes, or stroke were the things I had to prevent…never cancer.

When, I found out my diagnosis,  the first thing I told my kids was I’m not going to die.  They were terrified and cried.  I was too.  I wanted to start crying myself, but I needed to show my girls that I was going to be fine.  I had so much going on in my head.  I was overwhelmed. My team of doctors moved quickly,  and I had many tests and scans.  I finally had a plan to move forward. Surgery, 36 radiation treatments, 5 years Tamoxifen.

Currently,  I am physically healed and moving forward to enjoy time with my family and friends. I’m ready to open the next chapter and leave 2015 in the past.   Everyone knows that cancer sucks! The treatments suck too, but I survived it all!  I don’t feel it necessary to dredge up every detail of my cancer experience.  I think everyone can imagine what I went through.   Right now, I’m happy, full of energy, and feeling great! I’m looking forward to what this year will bring to me and my family.   We are stronger.  We are closer. IMG_7897

 

 

 

 

The little things that matter

I am so excited! I finally have a real camera!! It’s been a long time since I have used a camera instead of my phone.  I have always loved  taking pictures and my girls have a bazillion baby pictures of them.  11 years ago, someone stole my camera out of a hotel room and I have been shy to purchase an expensive camera again. I was more devastated to have lost so many wonderful memories that were on that camera.  Those photos were irreplaceable, and I will never have them back.IMG_6631I hesitated to buying  a camera for a long time, but since starting this blog I have been finding a need for a camera again.  I am not a professional but a hobbyist.   My iphone takes pretty nice photos, and I have been able to capture the moments I wanted.  Until this summer… I got frustrated at the horse shows.  I was very limited to how close I could get.

So, I decided I was going to buy a camera.  I did some research and I knew I wanted a Nikon because  Nick has a Nikon.  I thought we could share lenses and we could spend some time together taking pictures.  Quality time with Nick is always a plus in my book.  IMG_3824I still have fears of my camera getting stolen. Photography equipment is thousands of dollars.  I decided that I would buy used equipment.  I thought I wouldn’t be so stressed if something happened to it.  I went on the internet to do some research on what camera and lens I need to photograph horses. I spoke to many friends too. I decided on the Nikon d300s.  It can also take video.  It seem to be everything I needed, and I could find a used one for a reasonable price.  For me,  I have a modest budget.  It was the best camera in my price range.

Nick is sneaky. Once I made the decision that I wanted the d300s.  He asked Izzy and Sophia to make sure I spend all my money that I was saving.  He was going to surprise me with the camera.  And they were happy to cooperate.  It was pure luck to have found the lens I wanted soon after my camera arrived.  I just happen to be looking at the right place at the right time.  I could not believe how lucky I am.  It was meant to be.IMG_6612

I still smile every time I look at my camera.  It’s so surreal. I feel so lucky.  It’s  been a lot of fun. I am still learning how to use it, and using everyone as a model.  It will take me a while,  but I will be ready for next year’s show season.  IMG_6496Something funny that I’ve noticed.  Izzy and Sophia suddenly want me to take pictures of them.  They use to get annoyed when I would try to take pictures  with my phone, but now something has changed since getting the camera.  They want me to take pictures of them. IMG_6579I love that they will let me shadow them.IMG_6572Having my incredible lens lets me keep my distance, and capture something special… without interrupting. DSC_7993I’m still working on the action shots, lighting and making sure things are focused.  I’m finding out what aperture, iso, and bokeh mean.  Most importantly,  I’m enjoying the support and fun that we are having as a family. DSC_8193Stay tuned.  Life just got better.  I’m so happy and grateful that what I was wishing for came true.  I definitely will be paying it forward to keep the good karma. DSC_7801One thing I’m still researching.  I want to get a photo editing program. Trying to figure out what’s better? Lightroom or Photoshop?

 

 

A Summer to Remember

Summer vacation is officially over.   School began last Thursday for Izzy and Sophia.  On the first day of school, I have a tradition to clean the summer away.  I dusted, vacuumed, mopped, and organized.  Then, I made myself lunch and put on a movie.   It was nice to have a quiet day in a perfectly clean house.  It’s impossible to keep a  house clean while the girls are home all day.  I don’t miss the piles of dirty dishes.  Who knew 2  girls could use every cup, dish, and bowl in a day.  The dishwasher had to run twice a day! But now my house is back in order.  I enjoyed a couple hours of my clean and quiet home.  It helped me recharge.FullSizeRender

I also wanted to work in my yard and pull some weeds, and finish up on some much needed maintenance.  We are in a drought.  The grass is yellow. The ground is dry.  How do these weeds survive with no water!  Of course, it decided to be the hottest week of the summer.  Too hot!  Oh well,  I guess I will have to do more relaxing.

It’s been a nice change.  Things have finally slowed down.  This summer there was a lot of Go!Go!Go!  We spent nearly every weekend from mid-May thru July at a horse show or some horse event.  We even made time for a vacation to Boston.  As soon as we landed back in California,  we were off to another horse show.  There was no time to think.  We kept moving to the next scheduled event.

Boston 2015

Boston 2015

The entire summer we  switched from Dressage show to Hunter Jumper show.  It was a lot of fun to watch the girls competing,  but honestly I am exhausted.  Keeping up with their schedules,  getting their show clothes clean and ready before the next event, and waking up early to be at the show grounds at the crack of dawn wore me out.  This was the first year I thought to myself… I think I’m getting too old for this.

The girls were pretty successful this summer, and they both achieved their personal riding goals.  I was very proud of both Izzy and Sophia.  In my last blog post, A heart of Gold for Sophia,  I wrote about Sophia and Delilah’s noteworthy summer.  These two are exciting to watch.  I know I’m bias,  but they are a wonderful pair, and I’m very proud of them.IMG_6239Izzy and Zade’s hard work paid off.  Over the 4th of July weekend, they were awarded Jr. High Point Champion for the show and show series.  It was unexpected as we were not paying attention to the score board. We sat down to watch the award ceremony, and heard an announcement.  They were looking for Izzy.  We ran to the office, and they informed us she had about 5 minutes to change back in her show clothes and tack up her horse.  I think we set a record! Izzy changed in to her show attire,  Sophia tacked up Zade,  and I re-braided Zade’s mane.  It was fabulous for the pair to be recognized. IMG_3367We ended  the month of July’s shows with Izzy and Zade  participating at Junior Championships.  She worked all show season to qualify and prepare Zade for Junior’s.  It would be a great experience for Zade.  It was an unfamiliar show ground for her, and would be nice to get Zade familiar to traveling out of the area for horse shows.

I also had achieved something this summer.  I spent this year learning how to drive the horse trailer.  I hauled Zade for the 3 hour trailer ride to Junior’s.  It was time for me be able to take my girls to a  show.  If we plan to have a  heavy show schedule it will take pressure off Nick to take time off of work.  (Someone has to pay for these expensive shows 😉 ) IMG_4610It was nice to have a little road trip with Izzy.  It made this show special.  I could just focus on Izzy’s needs.  I saw a difference.  She slept better, since she didn’t have to share a bed with Sophia.  Izzy seemed relaxed and able to focus on the task at hand.  I’m thinking it’s a start of a new trend.  IMG_4639There seems to be added pressures participating in a championship show.  Izzy could easily be intimidated by the talented horses.  Especially when green horse Zade would be competing against many veteran horses.  Since Izzy’s a veteran,  she would show Zade  that being there was no big deal.  At first, Zade was a little tense in the dressage court, but Izzy never gave up.  By their last ride, Izzy came out of the court in tears.  Tears because she had the best ride of the weekend.  She was so proud of Zade.  She had that moment of clarity where they both connected.  At that point it didn’t matter what the judges thought of her ride.  She felt the connection, and that to me,  was bigger than any score or ribbon.  It was a perfect finale to their show year.

Izzy and Zade's award ceremony victory lap. Training level 3rd place

Izzy and Zade’s award ceremony victory lap. Training level 3rd place

For now, the kids are back in school.  There are a few shows that we may possibly attend in the next few months, but it’s time to focus on school.  Izzy is a Junior and Sophia a Freshman.  We all miss the summer, and all the great memories we made.  Things are definitely changing. My girls are growing up. They are teaching their young horses to be proficient in dressage and jumping, and eventually their horses will be masters.

I too am guiding my girls to be strong, smart, and independent women.  Someday they will be ready to start a life of their own, and I hope the memories we make as a family will stick with them.  I hope they always remember to go for their dreams, be humble, and pay it forward.  As much as it saddens me to see my girls growing up, I can’t wait to see what amazing women the will become.