Sunday, January 30, 2011

Finally got to ride my horse again!

It's been a coupla few weeks since I've been out to ride my horse so I made a point to go out for an hour this afternoon even though it's hard to leave the house in such a state of chaos. I was burning out though and feeling like there was just no way I was going to be able to open another box or put anything else away. Or maybe I could but I would cry very hard about it.

I was surprised that Girlfriend was not mad at me for not being around much. In fact she seemed very happy to see me and let out lots of big, happy sighs and gave me some nuzzles. She also gently put her nose in front of my face a few times which she does when she wants me to kiss her nose. She didn't do any of her usual pushing me with her nose to test me that she tends to try and do when I'm grooming her.

When we got in the arena as soon as I got on her she started to bolt and she was all sorts of bouncy, trotty, ready to run. But she kept letting out these big happy sneezes and shaking her head and giving little happy bucks. I thought after a couple weeks (or three? however long it's been) of not riding I'd feel very out of practice but I just felt like I sank right into the saddle and was back home again, even with her little jerks to try and bolt and her excitement. After she warmed up we did a little canter work that devolved into galloping a couple times and at one point it took me half way around the arena to get her to stop. She just was so excited she was having trouble hearing my signals above her wish to run. I didn't feel like she was running away with me, I just felt like she was being slower about stopping than she usually is. It was nice to work with her even if it was short and I can't believe she is going to be 27 years old this year! I can see how her back is getting really swayed and I worry about the soundness of her legs, but so far she's holding up well and still enjoying being ridden.

Ah coffee ... sweet elixir of life

We have almost all our stuff in our new house and everything out of our old house. I do like this new house a lot. I think I'll like it more when I can find things and all the boxes are out of the living room. My friend, Cheryl came over yesterday with lunch and other food (since our kitchen was only partially unpacked) and she walked in and said, "Wow!" and I said, "Wow it's nice or wow it's chaotic?" and she said, "Both."

I've been very tunnel-visioned on getting moved and that's only been challenged by needing to get stuff done for big the fundraising auction for work this coming weekend. So I haven't been out to see my horse at all except for five minutes to drop off her senior feed last week. I'm hoping to be able to go out and ride her this afternoon for about an hour today. IH emailed me and said that Girlfriend and her pasture-mate, true love, Ziggy gave Ziggy's owner a run for her money the other day by galloping gleefully around her while she was trying to catch them. I wish I could've seen that!

We had until Friday at 9pm to have everything out of our old house and I was on the freeway heading out to take our daughter to a playdate in our old neighborhood and help my husband pack the last of our stuff and clean the house - when my phone rang and my daughter's new school was calling to remind me I had until 4pm that day to get her registration in so she can start school on Tuesday. So, I dropped her off, picked up a car load of stuff from our old house and headed back to our new neighborhood. I managed to get all her registration paperwork filled out and in on time and a wonderful coincidence - while I was filling out the paperwork a little girl sat down at the table in the office next to me. I asked if she was waiting for her mom to pick her up and she said yes. She asked what I was doing and I said I was registering my daughter to start school next Tuesday and she got all excited and said that she's been assigned to be my daughter's "buddy" and will be showing her around the school on the first day. Then she told me all about their classroom and teacher and how the teacher had made an assignment for all the kids to draw pictures and make welcome cards for her. I have a good feeling about this change for her.

I went back to our old house and helped finish packing and cleaning the house. We managed to get everything done by 9:15pm just as the new owners showed up. I tried to write it off that they were just excited and weren't checking up on us to make sure we were out on time (even though our transactions with them so far have been that they are incredibly nit-picky and controlling and treated us from the get-go like we were sheisters trying to take them for a ride. I didn't talk to them because I was busy collecting our daughter from her playdate and getting ready to head home because we were all completely exhausted.

A week or so ago their agent had asked our agent if the buyers could have our email addresses to ask us questions about the house after they move in. Our gut feeling after how they'd acted during the buying of the house was no, we didn't feel comfortable with that so if something comes up they could just email their agent who would contact our agent who would contact us. That's what we are doing with the people we bought from. And my agent said that was completely normal to ask that they contact us through our agents - that's part of the agent's job.

So, yesterday morning I get up in the morning and there is an email from the buyers straight to us asking if we wanted any of the couple things we'd left in the house (which we didn't). It was a valid question, but it was weird because we had specifically said they could not have our email addresses so they must've lifted them off the escrow documents. That is just such a lack of boundaries. Sure it was a valid question but why didn't they just contact the way we asked through our agent? I'm just glad we are (hopefully) done dealing with them.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

New neighborhood!

So far the opinion of the new neighborhood seems to be good. I've only met one neighbor so far but she was friendly and she likes to sew and seemed happy to tell me where the good fabric stores are. She's very different from me I can already tell but I hope that will not be a point of stress seeing as she lives right next door. Maybe we will even be friends. Who knows.

The neighborhood itself is freakishly nice. I'm wondering why I swore I'd never move to the suburbs. The neighborhood grocery store is so swanky I swear I was walking around in awe the whole time we were looking for yogurt. In fact, we turned one corner and there before us was a giant wall covered from floor to ceiling with hundreds of bins of candy. I don't actually like to eat candy, but I do like to see huge glass bins filled with bright colors. Of course my daughter's reaction was stop and exclaim, "Wow!" They also had an excellent deli and really great produce and amazingly low prices compared to the city stores like Ballard Market and Whole Foods in Seattle.

I came out to the house earlier than the movers so that they wouldn't be tripping over my daughter. So, while we were waiting we took the dog for a walk down some trails and a boardwalk over a protected wetland and then around a big creek. The trees just went on and on in the swampy area and I was hoping to see a coyote roaming around. We're probably too close to town for deer. And definitely for elk (sigh). My daughter has declared that she loves this place and it is the best place in the world.

Our new house is a bit overwhelming. We came from an 85 year old Craftsman and although it is really cute, it is small and the rooms are small and it's a cute, small city house. Our new house is huge (comparatively - it's definitely not a McMansion though) and the rooms are big and the windows are big and the ceiling are super high. And it's two stories which is going to be good exercise for me having to fun back and forth up and down the stairs all day. And what blows my mind is we are saving money by living in this house because it cost less than what we sold our cute little city house for. The movers kept exclaiming how beautiful our new house is and could not believe it when I said it is actually financially downsizing for us to move here and part of my motivation was it is a way for us to save money.

Willow the pitbull loves it. She went tearing around the house, running up and down the stairs, and then ceremoniously ran into each room and rolled on the carpet. BuddyCat (who is about to turn 16) just walked around, checking things out, seemed to think it passed muster and found a chair to sleep on that wasn't covered with boxes. Diamond the kitten was a lot more freaked out, but she's calming down a little bit.

I'd be jumping up and down with excitement but I'm exhausted. In my head I'm jumping up and down from excitement. I was on the mend yesterday until evening and then my stomach rebeled on me for eating "real food" too soon after being sick. So, I went to bed feeling crappy and extremely anxious about moving day and extremely anxious I would not be well enough to move. Plus, I was just feeling anxious about the unknown that is completely changing where one lives. I was lying in bed feeling like hyperventilating and having quite a stomachache and thinking that there was no way I could calm down when it occurred to me that, "Oh, yeah, I could pray. That always makes me feel better." So I did. And it did. I just said a a little prayer asking for comfort and I immediately started to relax. This is why I choose to believe in God. It gives me great comfort. I'm not one that will ever say I know God exists because I know full well there may be no God and it's all part of our human mind's way of making order in a complex universe. But it works for me. Ok, so I don't think Jesus was born of an immaculate conception, and I'm convinced that the reason he "died" so quickly on the cross is because he drank the zombie poison (most commonly heard of in Haiti) and then was administered a remedy which is why he "rose from the dead" ... but regardless of what really happened to the guy named Jesus way back when, I can relate to him on how he spoke of God and even if he was just some radical freak, it doesn't negate that believing in God makes me feel better and it doesn't hurt anyone so I can't quite see why the fuss by my athiest acquaintances that it's a bad thing.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Less than 24 hours ...

The "less than 24 hours" applies not only to when the movers are coming, but to how short the nasty nasty stomach virus was. My husband was feeling better in about 18 hours and eating again and my daughter was queasy, threw up at school and then wanted to drink lots of water, which thankfully she kept down. She was eating as much as she could by yesterday morning. I got sick night before last and was laid out all day yesterday so I didn't get anything that needed to be done worked on - not packing or stuff for work.

So, today my daughter is back at school, my husband is back at work, and I'm dragging my tired butt around getting some packing done and taking frequent rest breaks. My stomach is feeling better but I don't have my appetite back yet. Part of that is probably from lots of anxiety about moving. Plus, I'm fascinated by the routes that my mind will take when anxious. For those of you who may read this and not know me personally, one of my hobbies is writing stories. And most of those stories - whether they be short stories or novels - are dark. Dark humor and usually some aspect of horror. I try to keep them fairly tame now after writing a story back when I was 18 that a friend started to read and said, "God, this is truly horrific! I can't read something that horrifying and grotesque." I decided after that I don't need to be putting out so much negative energy into the world so everything I write now has a happy ending ... in a dark humorous twist sort of a way.

Anyway, it's a good outlet for me to write these stories because my brain is very imaginative at scaring me. The latest thought-process today that I had to nip in the bud was, "Ok, you didn't actually throw up so you haven't actually caught the stomach flu yet ... it's going to hit today or tonight right as you're going to have to move." I told my husband what I'd been thinking and he laughed and said, "Oh no, you weren't sick. You were just laid out in bed moaning for 12 hours and popping anti-nausea pills like candy because you were nervous. I don't think so!" Good point.

One thing I realized last year that I try to remember to do, is to flip all that creativity around. Sure, terrible things *could* happen and I can think of all the various possibilities in vivid, imaginative, technicolor - but I can also think of all the wonderful things that could happen in vivid, imaginative technicolor. Like how my co-worker stopped by Monday night (without me even asking!) to bring yummy chicken soup from PCC and some green tea. Or how even though my husband and daughter were so sick we couldn't go to the Escrow signing, the notary actually came to our house so we could close on the house we're buying. Or I can keep imagining what my garden will look like especially now that I've found out for sure that the treated fence posts were treated with copper azole and if I do raised garden beds anyway it will not be an issue at all - so we don't have to replace them. Or I can imagine what our little community garden/pea patch will be like in the area the HOA owns that isn't anything but overgrown grass right now - and what a cool community project that could be.

In other news, I've been watching the History channel while packing in our bedroom and learning about tuna. Apparently, the safest way to fish for tuna so that other species are not caught and killed in the process (like with long-lining which is one of the ways huge companies like Bumblebee catch their tuna) is bait boat poling which is similar to traditional fishing. And there is one one company I know for sure gets all their tuna like that so I may have to only buy their tuna from now on.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Very hard day

We are packing up and moving out of this house in three days and with the grace of terrible timing my husband was up last night throwing up and I had to pick my daughter up from school about an hour ago because she threw up. I'm trying to get some packing and work done just in case I'm the next one who gets sick. But as my mom said on the phone today, it will still get done even if the movers end up having to do some of the packing.

Other stuff has been going on too though which has been much more painful and is too personal for this public blog. Thank goodness for good friends but I need a lot of hugs right now. And a vacation.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

My inner Tiger Mom

We have until 8am Thursday morning to get everything packed and ready for the movers. And we both have to work this week except for Thursday and Friday. Am I panicking? Well, kind of, but then I have been for the last few days. And I'm having insomnia. It's amazing what one can think of while lying in bed for hours with nothing to do but think.

Yesterday I dug up the bamboo that the buyers don't want and put them into big, temporary plastic pots to take to our new house. I also dug up the Mountain Ash my friend, Libby gave me a couple years ago - that I told the buyers I'd be taking. I'm concerned about both plants and how well they'll do with the transition. I always err on the side of treating my plants like they're the most delicate things in the world, but after working one day with my friend, Michelle, filling in to help with landscaping I'm not quite as worried. But still, I don't know how much damage or trauma the roots can take with transplanting, or if they'll get too cold in the pots between now and next week when I have time to plant them. I guess we'll see.

I was complaining to my mom about being neurotic about the treated wood fence and steps from the porch at our new house and she said, "Wait, let me ask your dad if they still use arsenic," then came back and said, "He said it's very unlikely that they used arsenic treated wood on a residential deck within the last five years." To which I said, "But are the other treatments safe?" and I heard her say, "Are the new treatments environmentally safe?" and I heard him in the background say, "No," and my mom said, "Well, there you go then." See, honestly, when I'm this stressed out I always find something to obsess on and this is apparently that issue.

A topic of conversation amongst moms on the internet these days is the whole Tiger Mom thing from a recent book by Amy Chau. I haven't read the book but it sounds a lot different from how I parent because I'm all about letting my child grow into who she is and decide what it is she is interested in. But at the same time a part of me sees its popularity and even having a niche in our society right now because of the popularity of treating children like if we discipline them they'll shatter and if we give them direction it will repress them. It's like the extreme backlash to the extreme backlash of not parenting that is popular at least in my city.

So, I'm seeing where in ways I have my own Tiger Mom ways - even though I would never insult or demean my child on purpose (yes, once or twice like all parents I have snapped and yelled, "Stop it! What is wrong with you!" and then immediately had to apologize for saying something mean and explaining I was cranky and should've expressed myself better by saying, "That's not appropriate and I want you to stop.")

Anyway ... when I get in large groups of kids I realize that I expect a lot more self-control than most parents do and will go out of my way to teach and expect that and sometimes I think it is offending other parents because it seems like I expect things that are beyond age appropriate abilities or something. I'm not sure if that is because my daughter naturally has a lot of self-control and is advanced in that area so I'm spoiled and have gotten used to that or if it's because I've been having high expectations of her from the start and showing her how to do it. When I say self-control I mean not throwing tantrums in public and when I say "stop doing something" she stops doing it instead of stopping for a second and then starting to do it again.

Usually it's around safety issues but sometimes it's around etiquette issues. But it's also very important in our family because of the things my daughter wants to do. At seven years old she can now make pancakes (under supervision of course) all the way from measuring, mixing, pouring the batter onto the griddle and flipping the pancakes. Without self-control that would be way too dangerous for her. But I was thinking this morning that in our society teaching that level of self-control to a first grader is generally frowned upon as "too repressive".

Of course, on the flipside she does get to jump on the couch (one couch - not the good couch in the living room) and she does get to sing and make kitty noises and be loud as long as I'm not on the phone and no one in the house has a migraine. And she and her friends get to run around the house screaming at the top of their lungs on playdates and play the piano (horribly) if they want. So, hopefully I'm not actually a Tiger Mom. But I do see sometimes how I'm way more strict than the norm and I wonder about it. Is it beneficial because my daughter can do things that would otherwise not be age appropriate because she has good self-discipline - or is it going to come back and bite me in the butt when she goes totally wild as a teenager to rebel against me? I guess we'll see. And then again, it bodes to the question of "is it her upbringing or her personality?" if she turns out well-adjusted, independent and happy?

In other things I've been thinking about, there was apparently a suicide in my old neighborhood that was partially from angst over cyber-bullying. An old friend who still lives in that neighborhood has been emailing with me about it. I'm not sure if the internet makes bullying worse or if the impersonalness of it makes people's collective IQ's (and EQ's) plummet. For instance, there is an forum in my neighborhood for posting things (I think originally it was meant to talk about neighborhood events) but it has devolved into this small group of people who post things throughout the day every day and if someone new posts something that they can squeeze some sort of mockery out of they will. Doesn't matter what it is - it can be completely community related and these people will type something mean-spirited and nasty to try and ... I don't know. Look cool? Make people laugh at the stranger's expense? It is really disturbing on many levels because I know that most of these people are in their 30's and 40's and yet are acting online like bitchy little teenagers. The latest thread that popped up yesterday was one of the guys at an airport out of town making fun of an overweight prostitute. Everyone posted in response all their LOL's and all I could think was, "That is a human you're making fun of - someone's daughter, maybe someone's mother. Do you really feel so superior that if you can taunt someone so viciously with absolutely no remorse?" I think that is what finally convinced me I must not read internet comment forums. Especially not ones from my new neighborhood because they seem to attract the most immature of messed up people even if a few normal people try to read/post there. I'll have to keep an eye on what goes on when my daughter is old enough to be on the internet social networking sites. From the get go I want her to know that it is a great place for people to act their worst for some strange reason and never to take it personally.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Paper Houses

We went to visit our daughter's new school today and she seems very positive about the change. She definitely hung back and didn't want to go and look in the classrooms at first, but after about twenty minutes she suddenly started to feel comfortable and started chattering away to the principal about her current school. After a few minutes of that she looked at us and said, "She's going to be just fine during the transition." I hope so. The school she's at is such a good school that is has been really hard to think about leaving. But this new school looks equally nice and I do have to say that going to a school in a rich suburb has its perks. The music room was full to the brim with beautiful drums and keyboards and guitars. It was a bit shocking actually. I bet our current music teacher would love to have all those instruments.

After touring the school we went to our new house to do the final pre-close walk-through (basically to make sure the sellers haven't trashed it - although the people we're buying from are so neat and clean I don't think they'd have it in them to trash anything). We measured all the rooms so we could figure out where everything is going to go. I'm seriously thinking of making a big paper chart of the floor plans both upstairs and downstairs (to scale) and then cutting out little paper furniture (to scale) and then moving them around on the floor plan to see where things fit. If I have time seeing as the time to pack has descended on us and I can no longer put it off.

I've been stressing a lot about soil contamination in the backyard at our new house due to the pressure treated wood. I'm waiting to hear who the fence company was that put it in to find out what the wood was treated with. There is a chance it was a water-based treatment or a copper treatment which is not very toxic. But even if it is copper and not arsenate it is still too toxic to grow vegetables if it is leeching into the soil. So, while stressing about how to find out if what is in the soil I tried relaxing by reading this book about one of my co-workers. And then duh! It hit me that I can just send a sample to my co-worker and ask him if he would mind testing it. If of course it is not extremely expensive.

My husband had a wonderful idea too that I'm hoping we can do. There is an area by the storm drainage pond that is just overgrown grass and is owned by the HOA because there needs to be a certain amount of open space around the storm drainage resevoir. My husband suggested we see if they mind if we plant something there then that turned into the idea of putting raised beds there for a pea patch for the kids in the neighborhood. That would be really cool! Our house is the only house that has much of a yard and there are supposedly a lot of kids on the block. And if no one wants to tend it then I'd be happy to tend it and have a place for the kids to come and pick fresh vegetables in the spring and summer. So, we'll see. There may be some sort of code as to keeping those areas completely free of anything, but as long as there is access for trucks if workmen need to get in I think we may be able to do it.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

The anti-me career

This is a re-post from my private journal but I imagine it is a topic that may end up coming up more in my life if things go as my daughter would plan.

A little background: I have always been a tomboy, but I also went through a long phase in teen years and early adulthood of believing that my greatest worth came in how I looked and everything else was superfluous. I have finally outgrown that to such a degree that I think I may actually have achieved self-esteem based on who I am as a whole person, not how I look. But it took turning 40 years old, having an autoimmune disease and getting fat (and still having my friends and family love me) to really get it through my head.

Despite my vain confusion for years on what is important in life as a woman, I still have never particularly liked wearing make-up and generally don't, and I'm far more inclined to wear jeans and sweatshirts as opposed to dresses and I almost never wear high heels because wearing them a lot will shorten your soleus muscle and wreak havoc on your back. I've jumpstarted cars for more damsel in distress acquaintances than I can count and I am more inclined to go do manual labor in the rain and mud than my husband. An old roommate once asked me if I wasn't worried about not being feminine enough and I said in surprise, "How could I not be feminine? I'm a girl!"

So, this is what my daughter announced to me the other day:
My daughter has announced that she really wants to be a fashion model. Oh joy. What a wonderfully anti-me career! Could she choose anything more anti-Mom than that? Well, maybe a fundamentalist Christian carrying God Hates Fags signs at children's funerals. Not only does she want to be a fashion model when she grows up, she wants to be one now. I told her there are kids who are models but also told her that it is hard work. And I don't think kids get to walk on the catwalk, which she found very disappointing. Despite that she still wants to do it. So, I sent in some information to The Seattle Model's Guild (one of the only legitimate ones I could find seeing as I have limited knowledge of legitimate modeling agencies). They sent back a polite letter saying that unfortunately they are saturated by clients in her age group but why don't we try this other agency (who's name I can't think of off the top of my head). I looked them up and they looked fairly harmless so I sent some information to them. I explained to EJ that whether or not she gets an interview with them has NOTHING to do with whether or not she is pretty or charming or a good person. It has to do with what "look" is popular and selling these days and that is totally just a wild card. And if they don't want an interview with her then it has NOTHING to do with her value or attractiveness as a person. She seems to understand this so we forge ahead with our new anti-me adventure.

Friday, January 14, 2011

WTF = Why the Face?

I've gotten completely hooked on this show. I'm now going to get all the seasons from Netflix and drive my poor husband crazy. I think the most disturbing part of the show though is that the "narcissistic cool dad" reminds me of a couple of my ex-boyfriends and makes me roll my eyes at my incredibly bad taste. One in particular named Brad comes to mind. He was one of those boys I dated for three months or four months and I was so sure we were meant to be and now eighteen years later I've no clue whatever happened to him. But I have a feeling he's kind of like "cool dad". =shudder=

So, a silly tv show is helping me relax as it hit me this morning that in exactly two weeks the moving van is showing up for us to move out of our house. I told my daughter's school when her last day is and set up a tour with her of her new school next week and am making lists of everything we need to cancel and all the places we need to change our address and it's kind of overwhelming. We've lived in this house for over ten years and so much has happened here. It's the only house our daughter has ever known (except for two months when we lived in "temporary house" while this house was being remodeled when she was two years old). I starting learning about organic gardening in my garden and I've spent god knows how many hours working on the yard. We did HUGE amounts of work to this house - building retaining walls and bringing in trees and plants and creating my big organic vegetable garden, and finishing the entire basement (which I taped, mudded and sanded almost all by myself when I was in my third trimester of pregnancy). We have really loved this house. So it is bittersweet to be selling it to a couple who has complained endlessly about what horrible shape the house is in and how much we're not doing for them and how they're paying way too much. Since we've never met them I'm really hoping that outside of buying/selling negotiation they are telling their friends how excited they are because all we've heard is how negligent we are and that we're trying to pull something over them or something (???). So, I'm feeling a little bit of guilt for the house that it may not be loved by the new owners like we have loved it. Then I have to remind myself that it is a house - not an animal or sentient being.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Already planning my new garden

I am already planning what I'm going to plant in my new garden. I've made a couple of little maps, but it is hard to completely design anything because I don't know the dimensions and am not quite sure how much space I'm working with other than what I remember from being on the property three times (both for only about a half hour at a time). Originally, we were not going to have chickens at the new place, but now as moving time gets closer I'm rethinking that and thinking if the two close by neighbors are not bothered by it I would like to again. I figure the more of our food we can have that is from our own local sources the better.

I'm trying to figure out whether or not it would be more cost efficient to buy some cedar plants and build my own raised beds or to buy them pre-made. I've also been planning what to grow and where.

The people who are buying our house want our little cedar playhouse taken away (I'm thinking they are not planning on having kids because it is such a cool playhouse!) and I'm actually kind of happy about that because my dad bought it for my daughter and it is really cool. Even if she doesn't want to keep it as her playhouse or "art house" which is what it is right now, I could easily make it into my potting/garden shed. Maybe even put our old windows from the house in on one side and make it a semi-greenhouse? Hmmmmm ... that would be so cool! I've been wanting a green house. Must look into what it takes to make one.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

The 19th Wife and Lifetime sucks

I actually decided to sit on my butt and watch t.v. this afternoon despite that I usually feel guilty doing that. But I wanted to watch "The 19th Wife" on Lifetime because it was such a great book. The acting and the script with its dialogue and blocking were actually pretty good.

But the first BIG glaring defect is that they completely ignore a huge part of the story which is that the main character, Jordan is gay. There is a lot of the book focusing on his coming to terms with his identity and his upbringing and reconciling those within himself. The second HUGE defect is the ending. In the book Queenie is in on the murder with her husband and they escape the country together, but in the movie they make Queenie the innocent victim of her husband's "weaknesses" (like all the other men except the exception Jordan who is a strong hero unlike literally every single other man) and Queenie prevails by leaving with Jordan although she professes that her values will keep her always married to her now felon husband. It kind of pisses me off that they made Queenie a naive and innocent victim in the film as though that would somehow make her "better". I think it's insulting to the complexity and wonderful story in the book and makes the character of Queenie far less interesting and is kind of an insult to women.

Or it just dumbed down a really great story. That's probably more like it. There is a reason that people say every Lifetime movie is about stupid men and victimized women.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Excellent - but cold - horse day

My daughter had a sleep-over at her friend's house across the street last night so it was hard to get up this morning when the bed was so warm, the kitties were sleeping on us and the house was so quiet.

I'm trying to get into the mode of taking a weekly Saturday morning lesson with JG because we're about the same level (intermediate) and we're the same age and both moms and really click. It's going to be easier after we move to motivate to go out first thing on a Saturday morning when my drive is 10-15 minutes as opposed to 40-45 minutes.

JG and I were also joined in our lesson by S. and the horse she leases, Scandal and a younger girl who is still somewhat a beginner, I think. JG and I are both about the same level (intermediate) and even though S. is only 14, she is a lot more advanced than us. But it still worked out fairly well even with the differences in skill level.

One thing S. and JG and I ended up doing after our lesson was swapping falling off our horses story. We were all sitting on our horses at the end of the arena while the younger girl was "getting picked on" (meaning she was getting instruction from our instructor on canter work) and JG said she wished she could put glue on her boots to keep her feet in the right position in the stirrups. I said that she should try the opposite - just letting her feet float in the stirrups (or a better way to put it is just forget they're there) or our instructor was going to go after her and make her start riding without stirrups like she'd done with me. Then I told her about the time last summer when Girlfriend fell and I should've taken my feet out of the stirrups and rolled off, but I stubbornly pushed me feet as hard as I could in the stirrups to stay on and ended up getting thrown around with Girl as she fell and then stumbled back up again, and ended up really pulling a bunch of muscles.

That got JG and I talking about how much harder it is to be in our 40's now and riding, then it was when we were S.'s age. It wasn't just that we were braver when we were young because we "didn't have so much to lose" (like family, jobs, so much responsibility we need to be able-bodied for) but things just didn't hurt as much. Once again making me think about my previous post about maybe children are not as fragile as I feel like they are. Maybe it really is us parents who are so much more fragile? Well, in some ways. As far as facing fears goes I'm much better at that as an adult than I was as a kid/teen but that's a totally different tangent.

But riding wise today was good. All four of us had quite a bit of time to warm up our horses before our lesson and Girlfriend started out trotting fairly well, but then when we tried to canter I thought I'd signaled pretty well (not over signaled) but she got a few steps at a canter and next thing I know she does a little series of bucks and puts her head down and bolts. I got her to stop fairly quickly but she was pissed. I tried again and she cantered a little ways, bucked then tried to run. So, I did a lot of trotting with her until the lesson started.

Our focus for all of us on this lesson was cantering and JG and S. both went before me and I just walked Girlfriend and tried to concentrate and watch their instruction but for some reason my head was spinning with horror stories ... "this could be your last few moments and when you try to canter Girlfriend will buck you again and it will break your back and you will paralyzed for life and you'll wish you hadn't taken this lesson ... oh shut up, that's so mean to even think about ... but maybe it's a premonition - I've been feeling anxious all morning about cantering in this lesson and last lesson went so well so this one will be awful ... that's ridiculous ... but what if it's a premonition???"

Finally when S. was done our instructor yelled, "Who's my next victim?" and I said, "Me!" because I didn't want to drive myself crazy waiting through another student's instruction. Girl was riled up and our walk/trot and trot/canter transitions were not going so well so we had to do them over again a few times. We did a lot of cantering and Girl was going so fast that I felt like I had to constantly be pulling back on the reins. I'd do a half halt and the second I'd let up she'd speed up. At one point my instructor yelled, "At some point that half halt will have to end and you'll have to give her back the rein!" so I relaxed her reins just a little and she started to gallop and my instructor yelled, "But not that much!" and that loosened me up a little because it made me laugh.

We were going so fast and I was having trouble not bouncing in the saddle from the rough gait of Girl's fast canter and my instructor was yelling "Sit down! Stop holding on with the stirrups. Be willing to lose your stirrups!" and I thought, "Crap, that's what she says before she tells me I have to lose my stirrups," so I leaned back as best I could and focused all my energy in a line down my butt bones imaging it going down through the saddle and through Girl like I'd be stuck on top of her like a peg in a hole and my feet let go of the stirrups. It was very cool! My balance got better and it just felt right. But we were still going really fast which was scary. But then we got to work on starting to do flying lead changes and the third time we tried it actually went smoothly and I could feel how it is supposed to be done. After all of this when my instructor said, "Good job, take a walk break," Girl was so amped up from cantering for so long that even though I did my usual quiet, "Whooooa," and sit back and gently give a half halt on the reins, she did one of her stop on a dime, skidding reining stops. Not too extreme so maybe my instructor didn't see it because she didn't admonish me for over signaling, but I could tell Girl was feeling like she was six years old and ready to race again.

Then we introduced the polo mallets to the three horses that are going to be in the polo class tomorrow. I thought Girl would be just fine with it but as soon as our instructor walked up to her with a mallet she tried to turn her body into a "C" in order get the middle part where I was holding the mallet as far away as possible. And she started jigging away from it and exuding terror. Now that I think about it, this is the same horse that I have "not a monster towel" and "not a monster sweater" and who earlier in the lesson spooked when Texas snorted behind her. She is a very sensitive girl.

With my instructor holding on to her reins along with me and with some desensitizing exercises she did calm down a bit about the mallet. But then came hitting the balls. She had seemed uninterested and unphased by them until they started moving. Then she was very concerned. But she did calm down some and start to get used to it. The other two horses were not at all concerned about the mallet, the balls or anyone hitting or kicking the balls. I did walk around with Girl holding a riding crop and she wasn't concerned about that at all. And I rode around at a walk and tried to hit the ball with the riding crop and that was actually kind of fun. A little frustrating because the crop was too short, but still kind of fun. I think it's probably a lot of fun with the mallet.

I was planning on going to the big polo clinic tomorrow but I just got an email from work with stuff I need to have ready for Monday morning. I said to my husband that I could do it tomorrow afternoon/evening when I get home and he said, "Do you really think you'll do that?" and sadly, I have to say that I don't think I'd do it. So, I'm wondering if I should go or not. I may not go this time and hopefully they'll have another one because it sounds like most of the barn is going if they are intermediate riders or better.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Fragile children

I was talking to another mom today about something ... I can't remember exactly what it was but I think it had to do with stress about moving and how that has been showing up in our family with us yelling at each other and having short fuses. Then I said something without thinking about it much, but it got me thinking. I said, "I think kids are not as frail as us parents."

Now, in some ways I don't know if that is true. But in others it seems to be true. My daughter is worried about moving but after she talks a little about it she seems to pep up and start thinking about how exciting it will be. When she thinks of going to a new place with strange kids her usual response is, "Cool! I can make new friends!" Whereas I fret and worry and can't sleep and obsess in my head about how people won't like me or I won't like them and isn't there a crystal ball I can look into? Like with Woodinville, I've been trying to figure out if all the moms are going to be "spa moms" and I'm going to be lonely and have no one I can relate to. And I find myself trying to figure out how I can know this ahead of time. Can I tell from the photos on the PTA website? Aren't there any blogs from the moms at my daughter's new school? How can I find out beforehand??? Eeeek! Whereas my daughter is sleeping fine, eating fine and just wanting to talk about how things will change once in awhile.

I think too about my friends, S. and H. who lost T. about a year and a half ago. T. was one of my best friends and S.'s wife and H.'s mom and H. was five years old when she died. I saw S. and H. over the summer and was comforted by how well they were both doing and I was proud of S. for how he seemed to really be dealing with his grief while still continuing to life and move forward (just like T. would want). And H. was a happy, well-adjusted kid. And I thought how I had been afraid it would totally devastate him to lose his mother so young. But he's surviving and in fact not just surviving but thriving. I can't even tell you how relieved that makes me!

It makes me think about when I was pregnant and all the ways people told me I had to really be perfect or my baby wouldn't be healthy. I had to eat perfectly and never be in smokey rooms and not even smell alcohol. In fact, I was even told not to watch horror movies (I love a good spooky movie ... although I don't like gore ...) because the stress of watching a scary movie would harm my fetus. Nowdays I hear about not saying "No" too much and not stifling the child with discipline and all this crap. And I think that children are not as fragile as our modern society thinks of them. It's good for them to hear no and get in trouble when they act out of line. And I ate nothing but mac & cheese and beefalo burgers for months when I was pregnant because everything else made me throw up and my baby came out fine. But it's hard as a mother not to feel like my child is incredibly fragile and I have to be there all the time to deter any blow that could come her way. Even now just thinking about her new school I shudder to think of "what if it's full of bullies?". So, I just need to intellectually keep reminding myself how strong and resilient children naturally are and keep slowly letting her go and find her way little by little as she learns how to be an independent person. Damn that's hard though!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

What the day brings

This is one of my favorite songs and always makes me feel better even when I'm stressed out. And this whole house selling stuff is very stressful. Lots of deadlines and hassles and not being able to sleep well because I'm thinking too much. Add to that all the stress at work because we have a big fundraiser coming up and lots of deadlines and stress for that and extra hours of work ... Blah.

It's helping to hear other people's woes about house selling, either how stressful it was for them when they sold their house in the past, or the current woes they're having. Every two months I need to go the rheumatologist to have blood tests and make sure my medication is working and I'm not having any organ damage from the medication. Today most of our talk though was about how my doctor's house has been on the market for nine months and hasn't sold and how hard on her that has been. My neighbor across the street even said, "Hey, if these buyers don't work out for you send them over to us, ok?" I wonder what it is about other people struggling too that makes one feel better. It's not like it helps me that others were super stressed when they sold their house. Maybe because it means I'm not "special" in my stress.

=side note= The song that just came up on my iTunes Show Me by Mint Royale just had the lyrics: "Sometimes a body needs to feel stressed to appreciate the joy."

I took the pitbull to work as usual today and my boss had brought in his son's lab puppy, Beatle. Needless to say it was chaos. Beatle and my dog chased each other around the conference room table until one of them would slip and spin out and the other would crash into him and they'd both fly into the wall. Then they would collapse on their sides next to each other, panting and immobile until my boss answered an important phone call, then they'd jump up, start barking and chase each other around the conference room table again. It was pretty cute. I had trouble getting work done today.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Big day in horse land

I finally had a chance to go riding today after three weeks of not getting to because we have been dealing with house selling stuff. I thought I would do worse than I did. I also didn't think I'd be able to squeeze in a lesson but I got there right as one of the teens was starting a beginner lesson and they said it was OK for me to join in. IH said she didn't want a lesson but ended up having one anyway somehow. Not sure how that happened. She was having an off day and her horse, Dallah was not helping and being bratty. Girlfriend on the other hand was being really good.

I was doing pretty well at the beginning of the class when we were walking and trotting. Then we started trotting in serpentines and Girlfriend was getting very excited about that because we were trotting in a pattern similar to the barrel pattern and there were three other horses and she apparently started to think that we were going to race. She kept breaking the canter and I was getting unbalanced trying to hold her back and doing the sharp curves. Finally one curve I lost my stirrup right as she turned and tried to break a canter and slipped to the right and lost my other stirrup and was actually starting to slide off and somehow I caught myself and scooted back on her back. But we had to stop and walk in order for me to compose myself. Of course I had the embarrassment of our instructor saying, "J. what just happened there? What *was* that???"

So, I wasn't very confident by the end of the lesson when she wanted us to all do some canter work. Plus, it was really cold. The thermometer in the barn said it was 30 degrees which made sense because the ground was frozen solid and wasn't even melting in the sun. Everyone was bundled up but our fingers and toes were still cold. And the pipes to the toilet in the barn bathroom were frozen so I had to get a bucket of water from the outdoor pump to flush the toilet. But there was a sponge frozen in the bucket that IH had to get out by stomping it out.

Anyway, I was the first to do canter work and Girl has a really bouncy trot and canter and I was having a lot of trouble sitting while she was cantering because my butt kept bouncing up and down. I was trying to just sit but was not achieving it. My instructor said I had to stop standing in the stirrups and using them for balance so I tried relaxing my legs and sitting back in the saddle but that still wasn't working so my instructor said, "Are you willing to let go of your stirrups?" and I said, "No," and she said, "Why?" and I said, "I'm scared. I'll fall off." This whole conversation was going on while I was cantering around in circles way too fast and having trouble slowing Girl down. Sheryl said, "You're holding yourself back. You're keeping yourself from moving forward and moving forward in your riding," but I was kind of blocking her out because I was concentrating on trying to keep Girl steady and trying to relax my legs. Finally I heard her say, "Repeat after me! Yes!" so I said said (well yelled because you have to yell back and forth while riding in the arena) "Yes," and she said, "I am willing to give up my stirrups,' and I yelled back "Fine! I am willing to give up my stirrups!" Knowing full well I was not.

Then the weirdest thing happened. I looked at her as we were cantering by and thought, "You are bringing me coffee and movies every day when I end up in the hospital!" and suddenly my feet were out of the stirrups and I was sitting back in the saddle and not bouncing at all and my legs were firmly on Girlfriend's sides but she wasn't speeding up at all. In fact she seemed to calm down even more and we cantered around the circle a few times in a much better rhythm. Then all the sudden I came out of my fog and thought, "Oh my god! I'm cantering on Girl without stirrups! Aaaack!" and stopped her. Then I had such a rush and yelled, "Oh my god! I did it! I can't believe I actually did it!"

It felt so good to be able to achieve that. I really didn't think I could do it but something in my carried me through to try and I am so proud of myself! I know for you non-horse folks it doesn't sound like a big deal but it really was. And I was validated that it was a big accomplishment when I told a couple advanced riders who have also ridden my horse and their eyes got big and wide and they actually looked surprised and said, "You did? Wow! Good job!" In fact JG's eyes got wide and she said, "I would've fallen off!" and I said, "No you wouldn't. I totally thought I would too but I didn't!" That did so much for my confidence! I'm hoping this is a sign of what 2011 will hold for me and my family - having the courage to move forward and prove to ourselves how much we're able to achieve if we believe in ourselves!