Well the holidays are over (hooray!) and its back to the grind for all of us. We're settling back in to our work and school schedules. The holidays were good for us, though for one reason and another we weren't able to visit anyone. The boys did have a chance to go see Grandma and Grandpa for a few days which was nice.

On the sports front we'd tried to keep Austin in wrestling after he took the initiative and signed himself up for it, but due to the development of a pyogenic granuloma on his scalp, he had to drop out. Hitting or rubbing it would make it bleed profusely, kind of a big no-no. I'm taking him in to the dermatologist today to have it removed, but the stitches will take two weeks to heal and in that time he'll miss out on too many practices to stay in wrestling. Better luck next year I guess. :(  However, he's excited about getting in to football later this year, so he has that to look forward to.

Gus will be getting in to track this spring! At 14 (almost 15, eek!) the boy is now taller than Michael and thin as a rail. He's accompanied me a bit on my training runs and easily out distances me. No endurance yet, but he'll learn. Not sure how I'll feed him enough to keep him going haha.

Isaac is adamant that he'll be playing soccer this spring. With the amount of energy our youngest has, he needs something! Time to start looking for a team.

As for me, I'm currently training for a half marathon. I run most evenings, even in the cold, brrr, in addition to weight training 3 to 5 days a week. I'll be doing the Austin Marathon's half marathon on February 15th (eep!). Its coming up soon and I'm very excited about it! The longest competitive distance I've done is a 5K. After the Austin half, I think I'll do the "Remember the 10" 10K in Stillwater in April. Gus might do that one too.

Michael is also on the ball trying to get in shape, though his work schedule often cuts in to his exercise time. He's thinking about doing the 5K at the "Remember the 10" but hasn't yet decided.


A story

I recently had a request to start up my blog again. I'm not sure if I'll be able to maintain it, but I realized I had a story to share that I wrote up over the summer. Thought some of you might enjoy it. :)

Adventures in mowing, a story.

First off, technically, I can mow, but I do it so seldom because of hubby and boys that my mower operation skills leave much to be desired.

Saturday night, hubby is deathly ill, food poisoning. Its now Sunday afternoon. The yard is in desperate need of mowing, he's unable to do it, and the older boys are gone with Grandma and Grandpa. Time for me to step up.

So I slog my way through what feels like knee high grass (it might be that tall on me), out to the shed where we keep the mower. This mower is something else. With two acres to mow, we needed a good one. And it is. Its a nice ride-on, zero-turn model, you know, with the handles? Rather than a steering wheel? For someone like me, its utterly un-intuitive lol.

I sit on the seat and peer doubtfully at all the controls. Levers and handles, buttons and dead grass, everywhere. I find the key, put it in and turn it. Nothing. Aha, thats right, the choke. Set it. Try again. Nuthin. Sigh. I will not try to find the users manual, I can do this dammit! Meanwhile the dogs, who had followed me happily into the shed, are sitting in there looking at me quizzically. Aha! Someone forgot to set the parking brake! Set it. Check the choke. Turn the key. SUCCESS! Move the levers before releasing the parking brake and it dies. Facepalm. Glad no one can actually see me right now. Start it again and realize now that I've done that, I have to back it down the shed ramp. After a few hilarious and life threatening tries, I have it in the yard. Now to mow.

I head out into the yard and choose my starting point along the fence. That sounded really simple didn't it? It was not! I am the worst at steering this thing! Comically bad in fact! To make matters worse, I didn't think about wearing appropriate clothing. My skort flips up in the wind, showing everyone the hot pink shorts underneath (oops!). The hot sun is baking my arms and legs to a crisp. Yes, I'm the idiot mowing in flip flops (What?! Its a ride-on mower!). I tuck my skort under my legs and perform a couple mowed laps around the back yard, managing to not run into about a third of the fence posts. I'm getting good at this! I go inside and change. Long cargo pants, work boots, borrowed a huge long sleeve shirt from hubby's closet, put my hair in a braid and added a ball cap. No. There is not a picture of this vision of mowing goddess.

I resume mowing and finally start to get a handle on the steering. I have to pause to move things out of my way every once in a while, but its going pretty well otherwise. Its amazing what you can find in your own yard when you're examining it so closely. After circling the yard a couple times, I switch to back and forth lanes. My left turns are good, right turns, eh, not so much. I loop jaggedly around trees and yard obstacles that can't be removed. An interesting moth settles on my leg and I let it rest until I can leave it in a tree. Wasps fly up from the grass and I increase my speed, or attempt to run them down. I managed to not get stung somehow.

I'm mowing around a tree that is just steps from the back porch. The dogs are sitting there watching me. As I edge my way around the tree, a HUGE, fat, black and brown patterned snake slithers out in front of me. Rattlesnake? I don't take any chances, grit my teeth and run it over. I finish mowing around the tree, stop the mower and go examine my grisly handiwork. Yep, its dead. I pull on my gloves and look closer. The end of the tail is gone and I can't find it. No clue there. The head (most of which is still there) is not shaped like a viper head so I'm still not sure. The snake is about 5' long and is fat through the midsection like a rattler, kinda has the pattern. I'm thinking it may have been a bull snake (non-venomous). However, with kids and dogs in the back yard, I'm not gonna take chances. I walk the snake to the back fence and toss it into the greensward behind the house. Don't want the dogs to eat it, bleh.

I get back to mowing. Find a rabbit skull. Must be the missing piece of the headless rabbit body found by one of my sons a few weeks ago. Mowing continues on and on and on. We have a really big yard. I think I may have hit a turtle that I didn't see. I feel really bad about that. But not about the snake.

Mow so long that I run out of gas. Uh oh. At least I'm now in the front yard. Do we have any? Yep, in the garage. All the time I've been mowing, I notice my neighbor out doing the same thing. It almost becomes a competition. We run out of gas at the same time, but he recognized it earlier and made it to his garage to refill. I ran my mower until it burbled and stopped. By the time I get the gas can to the mower he's already back at it. You win this round neighbor! *shakes fist* (not really, lol). This gas can has a me-proof nozzle that I cannot seem to get around, so I finally just take it off and pour the gas directly into the tank with only minor spills. It was the wind! Really!

By the time I'm finished mowing, I'm covered in grass. My clothing is soaked with sweat and I'm pretty sure some sorta bug has taken up residence in my belly button. Thankfully it turned out to just be more grass.

I survey my realm with pride. I have accomplished this! Surely all men in the neighborhood will bow to my mowing prowess! Unwanted marriage proposals will be forthcoming! I AM QUEEN HERE!

This concludes adventures in mowing, part 1. Will there be more? Stay tuned!


Isaac's Eyes

I'm sure all of you who have met Isaac have noticed the slight problem with his left eye - how it has a tendency to turn in when he's focusing on something close to his face. I finally had an opportunity to take him to a pediatric ophthalmologist last Friday and we now know what the problem is.

Isaac's appointment went well, though I'm sure if you ask him, he'll tell you all about how he DID NOT like the 'white stuff' they put in his eyes (they had to dilate his pupils). We found out that the problem is actually a form of farsightedness caused by muscles in the inner corners of both of his eyes, not just the left one. These muscles are too tight and unfortunately the problem can't be fixed with glasses or time (he was really hoping he would get some cool glasses like his brother Austin!). He is scheduled for surgery to correct the problem on November 29th, a quick out-patient procedure. He's going to go in at 6:30 am, so we'll probably spend the night before in a hotel near the clinic. He shouldn't need any special treatment after the surgery and the doctor has assured me that except for a little bit of blood in the whites of Isaac's eyes (which will diminish slowly), he'll be just fine to run around and play as usual shortly after the surgery. The doctor also said that Isaac's condition is not too unusual and he usually does 12 to 15 of these corrective procedures a month. I'm glad we're getting this done now, before the issue really begins to affect Isaac's learning process.

For those of you who got my email, this post is really just the same email re-posted. I put it up here for those of you that I don't have an email for, or who might only keep in touch with me over Facebook.

I'll keep everyone posted on how things go.



Our Saturday, in pictures...

I finally got all my tack together, so we went to visit Polor on Saturday.  I'm so ready to bring him home!

He wanted to ride all day.

Michael and I traded off with Polor.  He did really well for his first time in an English saddle.

Blaze is 29 years old!

Despite some issues with the new tack, Polor was very good with Michael.

Gus got to ride Blaze after Austin.  He fell in love too!

I think he's decided that maybe these horse things aren't too bad after all.

Isaac had a difficult morning, but wouldn't get up on a horse.  He had a lot of fun petting them once he finished this melt-down session (he had to go into time-out right after this pic).

We had a really good day.  Polor was wonderful, even though it turned out he had an allergic reaction to something on his saddle pad.  It took us a while to figure it out, and even though it wasn't easy, Polor behaved very well despite the difficulties.  Three weeks until he comes home!

**Yes, I know I'm the only one wearing a helmet!  If the boys had been on any horse other than Blaze, they would have had my helmet.  We'll bring theirs next time as I've always made it a point to wear one.  Michael needs to find one that will fit him.  We'll plan better next time.


What's up?

Okay, I know I haven't blogged in quite a while, so I'll try to give an update of the big points from the past several months.

Of course, as you can see from one of the posts below, Sparky died on March 31st. Still not over it and never really will be. He was a very unique cat and we all miss him terribly.

Michael started working for ONG toward the beginning of May (sorry, can't remember exactly when!).  He's really enjoying the position and is excited about growing into the company.

After careful consideration of our finances and the housing market, we've decided to stay in Stillwater for another year.  We'd hoped to find a CNG truck to commute in but that didn't work out so well.  As soon as we started looking, they all disappeared.  So for the moment we're just relying on one vehicle and a borrowed car from Dad.  We're still looking for a CNG truck, but we're also considering hybrids or diesel cars - something with good mpg.

June was a really tough work month for me.  The office I'm in is already pretty small, but for one reason or another it shrank down to three geologists for the month - at the same time that we got an unexpected flood of jobs.  Lots of long hours and worked-weekends later, it turned out to be a good month professionally.  I'll be seeing the results of all my hard work throughout the next year.  Feels pretty good.

I've mentioned the chickens before, right?  I think so, if not, we have chickens!  Raised from chicks, we've had them since the end of February.  A mixture of Wyandottes and Araucanas.  Nice looking birds, there are eight hens and one rooster - which we didn't order but received with the rest of the chicks (if he gets mean, he's gonna get eaten).  Anyway, one of my hens started laying about a month ago and now it looks like several others are laying as well!  Wyandottes lay brown eggs and Araucanas lay tinted eggs (green so far), so our egg carton is very colorful.  We're just now getting to the point that we no longer have to buy eggs.  These are a bit smaller than store bought eggs, but as the hens get older the eggs should increase in size.  The smallest eggs are about half the size of a "Grade A Large" egg.  The largest eggs we've gotten, while the size of the store bought ones, are consistently double-yolked.  There is a REALLY big egg in there from last night - larger than anything they've given us yet.  Can't wait to break it open!

My really big news is that I NOW HAVE A HORSE!!!  LC Polor Express is an eight year old, 15.1 hand Arabian gelding.  As you can see below, I've included a few pictures of him.  If any of you have known me for any amount of time, you'll know that I've always been a horse nut - now I have a chance to satisfy that urge.  Polor will come home on Labor Day.  Its been too hot to do anything but lay in front of the fans inside, so I'm okay with not having him home yet.  I've visited him a few times and will be going again this Saturday - looks like the weather should be reasonable then, though I'm keeping an eye on it.  I'll have someone take a few pics of me riding when I go.

He has high withers and a narrow body - makes him a perfect fit for me!

The rider is the husband of the woman who sold Polor to me.

Look at those kind eyes!  He's a sweetie.

My main reason for getting Polor (other than the fact that I just love horses) is that I want to get into endurance riding.  I'll be doing my first 25 mile Limited Distance ride with him this fall, and maybe by this time next year I'll be able to move up to a 50 mile Endurance Ride.  It just depends on how well I'm going to be able to juggle work, family, and training.

A final big piece of news is that I'm being sent to Vienna, Austria at the end of August for a geological field trip - in the Alps!  Michael asked if I was going to bring any rocks back - of course I am!  They'll be all 'Alpy' - I have to add them to my collection!  :)

That's about it in a nutshell.  I'm sure I'll remember some other things later, and I'll have a big post (with pics) after my trip.