Wednesday, January 14, 2015

My Most Favorite Painting

Now that I say that… there are other paintings my girls have done that I really really like.  But today I'm going to say my most favorite is the one we commissioned a friend of mine to do.  I saw one she painted for someone else, and just loved it.  So I contacted her about doing one for us, and she did!  She is just so cute about it, she came over and we measured the space above the fireplace to figure out how big it should be.  She painted it pretty quickly, a mutual friend told me she fusses over them and works on them for a long time, but I think she did this in a couple of months.  I really love it, I love that it's impressionistic, and colorful, and that it's aspens that we see up here a lot.
Her name is Shelly Peters and her youngest son is Blondie's age.
She makes it very personal, and hides your initials in the painting.  Mine I can pick out easily, everyone else's I have to hunt for.  
She asked the girls to come paint on it.  They put a lot of the red in it.  She told me after that they are just the cutest, sweetest, loveliest girls ever… very complimentary of each other and just so darling.  :-)


Shelly told me she touched it up after the girls finished, she said there was A Lot of red in it and she had to take some out.  
She said she didn't want it to be obviously sunrise or sunset, and so it's either.  Which I like…
I am very tickled with it!

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Holiday Break

It's been a great Christmas and the whole holiday has been wonderful!

First - I ordered Hubby's Christmas cards early.

Then I was on top of his chocolate - what he sends out to clients.  Yay!  I feel like that got me started out right and I didn't spend the rest of the holiday trying to catch up.  Instead of laboriously writing our regular Christmas card, which combines a short humorous paragraph about each of us with a photo and a drawing done by one of the girls, all carefully squished into the required space and painstakingly printed by me, I slapped a couple photos into a Costco template, wrote a little sentence blurb about each of us, entered my credit card number and sat back to wait for someone else to do the work. It wasn't nearly as charming and personal as our usual card, but it was SO MUCH LESS WORK!

We got a live tree this year for the first time in about ten years.  I decided with the high ceiling of our house our fake tree (which is about 7 feet tall and I really like okay under other circumstances) just looks squatty and inadequate, so while Hubby was in Australia I took Blondie tree shopping and we picked out a lovely 11 footer in Salt Lake.  The trees in the Park City lots were approximately three times as expensive.  Getting it home up the canyon was an adventure, but Blondie and I prevailed and we got it up that night.  It took three trips to Home Depot to get lights, with the brand new strings burning out, and me changing my mind about the size of bulbs we should have, but eventually we got it all up and it was just what I wanted and it is the prettiest tree we've ever had.

Our Christmas was the usual exercise in excess.  The girls have moved from toys to … I still haven't totally figured that out yet.  Blondie is easier because she likes clothes, but needs a ton of horse stuff.  So it's not hard to get stuff for her.  Red is harder. She doesn't really like clothes, though she's getting more flexible about what she'll wear.   I don't hardly remember what she ended up with, she was happy, it was roughly the same amount and exactly the same number as Blondie's (I work pretty hard at that) and her favorite gift was the XBox from Santa anyway.

About that… Hubby told me I need to have The Santa Discussion with the girls.  My family have always been Believers.  Long before we came into the picture my mother made it eminently clear to my father that Santa would fill her stocking every year or else!   So I am in the Believer Camp… But it was getting to be problematic that the girls would be shopping with me and I needed to pick something up, and I needed to not have to be so absolutely careful about what ended up in their stockings.  Also Red is 13 and she is very earnest and I don't want her to be mocked by her friends.  So when I was tucking Red into bed I started up the conversation and asked her what she says when her friends talk about Santa.  She told me they don't.  I told her a good thing to say if it comes up is that in our house Santa comes if you believe, and she's not an idiot.  Just like that, I made her practice.  She seemed to remain pretty earnest. So I took it a step further and I told her a round about way that Santa has helpers.  Moms and Dads fill in because, you know, that's a lot of houses.  She nodded and accepted this readily.  But I kept getting the impression that she wasn't buying it, or rather she's not letting go.  She's farther into the believer camp than I sort of intended to leave her.  I avoided coming right out and getting up in her face with the harsh reality, and she avoided letting go of the magic.  So I let it stay there.

Then just before Christmas I was shopping with Blondie and we walked by a table that had candy at a very low price… and I was thinking, Dang, now I have to come back to this store when she's not with me and get some of that candy.  We went deeper in the store and I saw something else I wanted to put in Hubby's stocking and I picked it up and I was looking at it, and I was looking at her… and I said "Honey, so Santa has helpers..."  And she said "Mom, I know you help out Santa.  You've told me that like eight times."  So I said "Go get that big bag of M&Ms off the table by the door.  And a hand full of those candy bars."  She doesn't seem nearly as entrenched as Red.

Hubby did some of the basic stocking shopping this year, which explains the appearance of of the Cheese Elf.  The Cheese Elf, who left everyone a wheel of Laughing Cow or some other dairy like non-refridgerated cheese spread product, seemed to confuse the girls.   They handed over their cheese wheels with looks of "I don't know what this is doing in my stocking," and "I think this was given to me by mistake."  He traveled with is friend, the Sausage Elf, who left some jerky and a vinegary little sausage in our stockings.  The girls were not impressed but never questioned the source of these bizarre new stocking items.  They just passed them into the family pile.

We had a very relaxed and magical Christmas.  It turned out mostly by accident that Hubby and I each had the same number of gifts as the girls.  We open in a regulated order one at a time, and usually the girls have more than the adults and we skip a few rounds at the end, but this year we all somehow had the same.

We have been relaxing and playing over the break.  Lots of just pajama days and playing on the XBox.  Hubby's been doing quite a bit of snowboarding, just going up for a couple of runs most days.

This year we decided to put both of the girls on skis.  Two years ago when Red broke her wrist snowboarding she decided to abandon snowboarding and went to skis last year.  Blondie stuck it out on the snowboard another year, some of it was solidarity to her father but in general she was afraid of it and she and I spent a lot of time last year on the bunny hill just going slow and getting her comfortable.  Which also worked with Red as she was basically teaching herself how to ski while I was busy helping Blondie.  I thought they both had improved a lot, especially under the circumstances of being taught by me, then Blondie broke her arm in March, right at the end of the season.  So this year we put them both on skis, and decided to put them in a lesson over the break.  So on New Year's day we all went skiing (Hubby snowboarded) and put the girls in full day lessons.

We got to the mountain about the time we should have, but I didn't realize I had to check them in at the ticket window.  I'd bought everything on line, I thought I could just march them up to the ski school.  Blondie was very nervous.  Very very nervous to the point of making herself sick.  Red seemed pretty calm, she had enjoyed skiing the year before and was mostly worried she'd be older than everyone else.  But once I got them signed in, most of the other classes had left.  We told the people there that despite Red having a year of skiing over Blondie, the two of them wanted to be placed in the same class.  We left, hoping the two of them would be attached to a smaller class of older kids and not a big class of kindergarteners.  As we were leaving we saw the two of them were just standing there alone, and then a woman came over and we watched for a little bit as she helped them struggle to put their skis on.  We figured there's nothing more we could do, so we went off to have as much fun as we could. 

Around lunchtime we got a text from Blondie that said; "Having a ton of fun!  can't wait to tell u all about it :) "  Whew!!!  It was much easier to enjoy ourselves after that.  We had three hours left to ski before we picked them up at 3:00.  Hubby and I like similar runs, though he likes powder and I don't, so we do pretty well together.  We had quite a bit of fun, though I wiped out bad once and I think cracked my left thumb.  It will now match my right thumb, which I broke a chip off of skiing in high school and it doesn't bend all the way anymore.
When we went to pick the girls up, it turned out they had had a private lesson, just the two of them with the teacher.  The teacher immediately started telling us how precious and what treasures the girls are.  She told us what a joy they are to teach,  how they listen, and respond, and are way ahead of a lot of kids that just start.  It made me wonder what sort of little hellions she usually has to put up with.  She said a lot of new students have a hard time grasping the fact that the skis slide on the snow.  We suggested that their history of snowboarding might have helped with that, she added that they also have great balance and body sense which might be attributed to the horse back riding.  I didn't feel it necessary to interrupt her gushing about how marvelous our kids are to point out only one has spent much time doing that. She said because it was just the two of them and because the girls listen and respond so well, they were able to advance through two full lessons, and the girls are now level three skiers.  They are working on "linking turns" and can go on gentle green runs.

Blondie said skiing is sooo much better than snowboarding.  She had more fun before lunch, afterward they started going faster and she got scared and started falling down more.  But all in all had a really fun day.  Red was very positive about it but doesn't bubble the way Blondie does.  She had fun, and was all smiles, and that's about all I got out of her.


I have been taking Christmas down for the past couple of days, today we took the tree out to the front yard to await its ride to the drop off point, and moved all the furniture back into place.  Only one more day of Christmas break, and the girls are just sick that school will start again.  Hubby leaves tomorrow for … somewhere.  He was going to take January off but has just been so busy, he'll only end up with about a week off.  The book is selling great, at one point this week it was in the top 6000 Amazon selling lists.  Which is marvelous.

Monday is back to normal, the next real break is the winter break in February.  It's hard to see the holidays end, but it helps that we had such a lovely holiday to look back on.


Friday, September 26, 2014

Just an "E"

I expect most people who read this blog are people I know.  But in the interest of internet privacy I am going to be cryptic anyway.

Blondie's real name is spelled with just an E at the end.  Let's pretend for a moment her real hame is Blondie but we spell it B-L-O-N-D-E but pronounce it like 'Blond-EE."  When she was born there was some discussion about how to spell it because while the way we ended up spelling it is the correct way for the word, it is popular to spell it with an EY at the end.  Hubby insisted the E is the correct way to spell it, and he is right, and we shouldn't cutsie it up and misspell it.  And he is/was right so that's what we did.

This morning she told me there was a little girl in her class who spells her own name with a pronounced E at the end.  We'll call her Trixe pronounced Tricks-EE.  She informs Blondie that her name BLONDE should be pronounced BLOND.  To really be "Blond-ee" she needs a Y at the end like other Blondeys she's seen.  Blondie says "So then your name is really Tricks, right?".  Trixe starts to argue.  Blondie says, "Do you know what Greek Mythology is?"  
"No."
"Do you know who Hercules is?"
"Yes."
"Hercules came from Greece.  My name is a Greek word which means "Life."  And that is how it is spelled in Greek.  If you change the Greek word it won't mean "Life" anymore, it will just be a plain old word."
Trixe was impressed, and informed Blondie that she likes her name spelled with just the E.

Score one for the Blondes of the world!!!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

A Horse, of Course

Right after school started there was a horse show for Blondie and Bones.

She was competing in the "Intro" level, which means the jumps were about 2 feet high, in the "Junior" division which meant 19 year olds and younger.

It involved missing a day of school to go down and practice doing the cross country phase, since there isn't a cross country field at the barn they ride at.  She and I camped at the fairgrounds with the rest of the people from the barn.
She got to take care of the horse all day and wake up and do it again the next morning.  She was in heaven.  The little girls all took their horses for a walk before they tucked them into bed that night.


The next day both of them - she and the horse - did very well.  I had worried about her Dressage, but to her credit she really had been practicing with him.  And the dressage field was out in the open - nothing to shy at. So they did great.

 She nailed the stadium jumping - and had a great time on the cross country.

They came in 2nd place in a field of about 20 kids.
She was so happy she nearly burst.

It was a good day for all of us.

Summer Wrap Up

Summer has come and gone!

The girls are back in school and I am looking around and taking a deep breath and it is so nice to feel like my life is not as hectic as it has been the past couple of years.  Don't get me wrong, the house is still and probably always will be something of a disaster, but I, Personally, am in a happy place.

Probably the biggest highlight of the summer -  our trip to Oregon.

This is the 2nd annual trip to this house.  It is an amazing place and when confronted with not getting the house when we wanted next year, we chose to come a different week rather than find a new house to come to.

We were watching summer slip away from us so we planned a quick trip down to Zion's Park.  This is the first trip we have taken the girls down there since Red was a baby.  We stayed at the Hampton Inn, which was nice, and hiked around.  The first day we sort of accidentally missed the turn off to the shuttle parking lot and ended up driving out the other side of the canyon without actually going up into it, so since that took up most of the day, we went back and swam in the very nice hotel pool until dinner.  The next day, though, we caught the shuttle and did a bunch of hikes and had a very nice day.



Red and Blondie are in the same school now, catching the same bus and on the same schedule.  They were both put into groups of students without many of their good friends this year.  That is kind of normal for Blondie, but for Red she's always had at least one really good friend in most of her classes.  This year all of her good friends are in another group, she's mostly alone in this one.  Same with Blondie, who was bothered by this more than Red.  They are having good days and bad, but for the most part things are going well.

The week after school started was Blondie's biggest horse show to date.  It was a schooling show, still, but required her to miss a day of school and she and I camped over at the county fairgrounds where it was held.    But I haven't uploaded pictures from that yet… it will be for next time.

Oregon Again!!!

We stopped at a recreation of Stonehenge on the Columbia River on the way over.




 The Stonehenge looks out over the Columbia river


 My brother's girls - they were an hour or two behind us on the drive.

Hubby and I and our girls made it to the house first, and picked up the key from the rental agency and then headed to the house.  Just walking in the door of that lovely home and looking out to see the ocean from the back windows made me happy.  It is a lovely place.

Grandma, Papa, and 3 nieces
We went for a hike but it was so foggy we couldn't see the view

My cute niece on the swingin' tree
 My brother-in-law (on the right in the red shirt) is famous for his huge hamburgers.
Blondie and my youngest niece spent two solid days boogie boarding

 We celebrated Blondie's birthday while we were there.

We went to the maritime museum in Astoria.

We relaxed, we slept, we read, we ate, we walked on the beach, we collected sand dollars, we ate and slept and relaxed some more.

My brother created a treasure hunt this year, on three planks of wood, one containing a map and two scribed with a very clever poem.  He wanted to do the "Take ten steps to the west" sort of map which  follows the pirate stereotype but totally stumped the girls.  Which way is west, anyway?  We say "The sun sets in the west."  They look at us blankly.   It took quite a lot of help to get them to figure out where the treasure was buried, with the older girls looking on saying "There should be a time limit!  If they can't get it in 10 minutes it's our turn!"  I am curious if the older girls could have figured it out.

Last year most of us went deep sea fishing.  My mom and dad and sister opted out.  Hubby and my sister's husband were horribly sea sick, and my brother's wife and two of his daughters were moderately sea sick. We brought back so much fish we ended up feeding it to the seagulls because it was going bad and stinking up the house fridge.  Even though he spent a lot of the time leaning over the rail, Hubby said it was something he really enjoyed doing and looked forward to doing this year.

This year the only ones willing to go fishing were the four of us, my brother, and his youngest daughter.  I bought some different nausea medication for Hubby, and he was not sick at all!  That was probably my favorite part of the fishing trip.  My niece and I caught a bunch of fish, this year Blondie didn't get nearly as many fish as she thought she should.  She was standing right in between me and my niece, but just didn't get the bites.   Red was on the other side of my niece, she caught quite a lot.  Mostly we were catching black sea bass, but my brother and I both caught a ling cod, a big ugly fish that fought a lot harder than the bass.  All in all we had a really nice trip, and a great fried fish dinner that evening.  This year we were smarter, too, and we packed all the fish we didn't eat in ice and drove it home.  We probably got 12 fish dinners out of it, and that was just 1/3rd of what was left.

 Red would catch 'em, but she wouldn't touch 'em.  The captain came out to help her reel that one in.
 My brother, on the right, pulled in a crab trap.

When Blondie FINALLY caught her first fish of the day, the woman deckhand helping told her she had to kiss it to make sure she'd catch more.  She did catch more eventually, though she did not kiss that first fish.

Thank you Grandma and Papa for a most wonderful trip!!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

6th

So the woman who 1/2 leases the horse we now own took him to an event in Wyoming last weekend, and the two of them took 6th place!  She is a really nice lady and she just couldn't stop saying nice things about Bones.   She said he didn't refuse anything, and obviously performed really well.  It was her first real competition.  She did the Intro level, someone told me that means she won't be nationally ranked, but she was still thrilled.   She sent me this picture.

Awww they are so cute!!!!

She is leasing Bones until her own horse comes in, sometime in August.  But she loves him very much.       I hope she likes her new horse a lot, but Bones will be a tough act to follow!