Weekend Scoreboard

Short post tonight-busy time of year for all, I am sure! 

First, El Campo Ricebirds went down fighting-Stephenville was a tougher, bigger team and they dominated the scoreboard.  Still what a thrill it was to be at Cowboy Stadium-reportedly some 7500 strong (that’s a major percentage of the town!).  The boys of fall got all the way to the state championship and hopefully will continue to build a strong program in the future.  I am so glad that I encouraged Lauren to go with Jo Etta and Blake.  There are things you look back on in life and remember fondly and this will be one of those for Lauren.

Jordyn came down yesterday and helped me out around the barn with the chores.  I swear she could probably walk Ally through our routine of the cleaning, watering, feeding (including which horse eats what, how much and with what supplements) if we ever needed to call on them in an emergency. 

We got rain Saturday but we let Bruno just go out, get wet and get muddy.  Being a race horse most of his life he has not gotten to be “just a horse”.  We take him to Texas A&M for surgery Tuesday so he will not be getting out and muddy again for a long time.  He absolutely raced the wind from the far back of the arena to the barn, over and over, joyously running for the pure pleasure of the romp.  Little Mimi was a hundred yards behind him and would turn when he was half way back from the run down to the barn and catch him for a few yards before he lost her again in a blaze of speed.  Oh, I wish I would have seen him run on the track!

Today, Lauren was supposed to take Feather to Dev’s for a lesson and Jordyn would get to ride her beloved Snowney Pony. But a torrential downpour nixxed that plan, right after Lauren got Feather successfully loaded in the trailer (so that was good!).

Our gift to Dev-thanks Amy!!

Our gift to Dev-thanks Amy!!

We had Amy McCaffery make Dev a rosewood mounting block to       take to the horse shows.  It turned out beautifully and we were thrilled to give it to him at his Christmas party today.  It is kind of a selfish gift as Lauren needs it at the shows and will be glad to have there in the future.  It is always nice to have a step up when mounting your horse, but if we ever get big Bruno going, it will be a necessity.

I will spare you the Jordyn went to the nursing home with me story, except to say, Lauren, Jordyn, mom and I walked the halls last night to look at the decorated doorways of the residents.  By the time we made it around, several of the residents were in tow.  Jordyn was holding the hand of Miss Lou who had yelled for us to slow down and Lauren was hearing the tale of Christmas past from Miss Bernice.  The best part (okay, I am telling you the story) was having Miss Bernice show Jo how to Texas Two Step. 

I am thankful for the nice weekend. 


GO Ricebirds!

header_1384206505_Who/What are the Ricebirds?  Lauren graduated El Campo High School-home of the Ricebirds in 2010. Although our post office is Wharton, Texas, we are districted to El Campo, Texas.  When you live in the country, you spend some time on the bus getting to and from school. It is a little over 15 miles one way to El Campo.  But pride in Texas is with your high school and El Campo is our school.   At just over 11,000 in population, it is the largest city in Wharton County.

Wikipedi Defines Ricebird as follows:

Ricebird is a name for a number of different birds, especially those that feed on paddy fields or on various grains (not necessarily just rice).

I don’t know the history of the decision to name the team after the birds that fly over and live off the plentiful rice fields of our south Texas land, but I can tell you from experience these birds, while small, are persistent, stubborn and determined to get what they want.  And so I hope is our Ricebird Football team tomorrow night when they take the field at the Dallas Cowboy Stadium in Arlington, Texas to play for the state title-Division I-3A championship for the first time in 45 years.  The 14-0 (yeah baby, totally undefeated) Ricebird squad will take on the Stephenville Yellow Jackets (12-1).  Stephenville has made the trip to state championship game a few times in the last several years.  The Ricebirds have not. 

This great ‘youtube’ video was put together by Molly Kresta and I think the music by Kenny Chesney and the still photos portray a poignant scene. (As an aside, if you think nothing great comes from these little rural high schools, Molly’s son, Eli, is on scholarship at Harvard University.)


Lauren, Blake, his mother Jo Etta and many, many other dedicated fans from our little town of El Campo will make the pilgrimage to the big lights of the Cowboy Stadium.  I am sure the players, coaches and cheerleaders, along with all the fans will be a little overwhelmed with the huge, beautiful stadium.  But once that kick-off ensues, it will be Texas high school football, just played out in a big arena.  The El Campo team boasts three 1000-yard rushers which will at least give the Stephenville team pause when trying to determine coverage.  The one thing that El Campo has successfully done in each of its game this year is to win. And if they can manage to pull that off one more time, it will fulfill a lot of small town dreams. 

I won’t be with them physically but I will be watching the night sky to the northwest and thinking of them playing under the big lights.  I know I will pause and think I can hear the roar of the crowd on the light wind that will surround my farm.  I wish them success and hope they return home triumphant!  I will keep you posted. 


As you sow so shall you reap

Jordyn, at the nursing home today,  in the purple, near center with the black boots on.

Jordyn, at the nursing home today, in the purple, near center with the black boots on.

I pondered over the title of this post.  It is about Jordyn and nursing homes and doing what you do not want do, but doing it anyway because it is right.  So bear with me a few moments for my story of the day. 

From the time Jordyn was only a toddler, she would fly to Denver with me to see my mom and Jim.  She calls them Granny Nanny  and GGJim (Great-Grandpa Jim).  Since mom’s on-going mental deterioration the trips got more frequent and more often than not, Jordyn would come along.  Not only did she get to see her great grandparents but it was a time for her to get know her Aunt Amber, Uncle Ryan and cousins Riley and Lexi. 

Baby Jordyn on her first trip to visit Granny nanny.

Baby Jordyn on her first trip to visit Granny nanny.

On a complete side issue, I cannot get through airline security without setting off the alarms due to the hip replacement metal I have.  When Jordyn was traveling with me, the choices were, to have her go with the security guy or to be “wanded” and patted down with me.  If you have ever had a toddler, you know the choice was to stay close to me.  Stranger anxiety was at its height.  After a couple of trips, we were coming back through security at the big Denver International Airport.  Essentially, they have one giant screening area.  As Jo and I got to the head of the line and were directed over to the screening area, little two-year old Jordyn walked over, placed her feet on the foot marks, spread her legs, raised her arms and “assumed the position” for the security screening.  An appreciative, and unbelieving Denver crowd started cheering and clapping for her as she politely stood for her wanding.  Ally has successfully used “get in the security position”  to get Jordyn in the position to put sunscreen on for several summers now.

Anyway… the point is Jordyn has spent a lot of time of Nanny. Since my mom has moved to Texas, Jordyn sees her usually once a week.  Let’s face it, she is now a nursing home patient and not necessarily an inviting thing to hug and kiss, certainly not like a puppy or kitten.   And although it is clear that Jordyn does not really want to hug Nanny anymore, she does on each visit, usually several times, because Jo knows it means a lot to me and to my mom. 

Today Jordyn’s school went to another nursing home to sing Christmas carols to the residents.  The teacher made a point of telling the kids that they did not have to hug the residents although the residents would probably try to get a hug from the children.  They sang their carols brightly and at the end, Ally was there to watch Jordyn willfully make her way around the room to each interested resident and hold out her arms inviting a big hug.  Jordyn did not have many other students following her lead. 

I couldn’t be prouder of her.  She has learned a few valuable lessons.  First, is to treat her elders with respect, regardless of how they look, smell or act.  Second, she can set her own path and not need to follow in the footsteps of others.  Third, sometimes the hard thing is the best thing and brings great joy to others. I hope this is a situation where she will reap what she sows.  We could all learn something from this bright child.

Holiday Pictures

Mickey, Feather, me, Kid, Mimi, Lauren and Bruno in the one moment when they all stood still.

Mickey, Feather, me, Kid, Mimi, Lauren and Bruno in the one moment when they all stood still.

The last time I got the great idea to do Christmas pictures on the horses, it was 1999.  Amber was home from college, Ally was becoming a beautiful teenager and Lauren was six.  I didn’t have three horses so we borrowed a couple from our barn friends, the Detweilers. Lauren, in a certain odd foreshadowing, was up on the biggest, grandest horse, named Magnum.  He looked a lot like Bruno.

Ally on Soleil, Amber on Ginny and Lauren on Magnum.

Ally on Soleil, Amber on Ginny and Lauren on Magnum.

Despite all our plans that day to get a great picture, the one captured here was not that simple.  Amber is a superb athlete but not necessarily a horse lover.  She has ridden some but was not all that comfortable, bareback up on Ginny.  Lauren was way too small for Magnum and we are lucky she did not fall off during the photo shoot.  Ally was the only one confident and secure on her favorite ride, Soleil. 

I have not sent a horse Christmas card since then.  Lauren and I wanted to do that picture this year with our band of horses all together.  First, obviously we needed a photographer.  My dear friend Linda Potter volunteered and we started to seriously think we might be able to pull it off.  Have I mentioned that Mickey HATES Bruno?  Or that Feather kicks ol’Kid every chance she gets?  And the chance of getting them to line up, five horses with just the two of us to handle them, well, it was minimal at best.

First, we had to decide on outfits.  In our original picture we choose garland and red and green shirts but thought with standing in front of the horses, the garland wouldn’t really show.  Then we found Santa hats at WalMart and modified them with elastic straps.  The horses were not impressed with their hats and pretty much refused to put their ears forward in the desired position.  For little Mimi, we found a candy cane headband that was darling on her little head.

Oh, little Mimi, the devil wore candy canes!

Oh, little Mimi, the devil wore candy canes!

Lauren and I picked out matching shirts (what is a Christmas card without matching holiday wear?) .  I sewed the elastic to the hats, Linda agreed to meet us and we were ready to go.  Except we had a monsoon of a rain storm a couple days ago and everyone was covered with mud.   We spent an hour or so cleaning everyone up and finding old leather halters to fit all the horses so they would all match.  Thankfully, Mimi came with her own little halter or I could not have found one to fit her.  Through all this preparation we kept watching the sky.  It looked like rain was going to come down again.  Don’t forget the whole Bruno cannot get his foot wet thing.  If it rained at all, even if it cleared off, we were done.  

Linda arrived ready to photograph us.  I headed to the arena with Mickey and Feather.  Linda actually went and got Kid.  Just to get the three of them lined up was chaotic.  Kid had taken a couple of hard kicks from Feather earlier and wanted no part of standing by her side.  We were doing pretty well until Lauren approached the arena with Bruno and Mimi in tow.  We had put a stud chain on Bruno (a chain that goes through the halter and helps control the horse).  Why we did not put one on Mickey is unclear.  He is the bolting, pulling, bully and that’s just under regular circumstances.  Today, he was out to KILL Bruno and was going to do his best to get at him.  My nice little line scattered.  Lauren had her hands full with Bru and Mimi and I was getting pulled around by Mickey.  Feather just wanted to run away.  I dropped Kid’s leadrope and just let him fend for himself.

What a mess!!

What a mess!!

But in the end, we got a good shot.  I will get Christmas cards out this year!  When we finally got back to house after chasing Kid down as he wondered away in his Christmas hat, Lauren looked at me and asked why the dogs weren’t included in the picture.  Gee, I don’t know Lauren, maybe because we barely survived this photo shoot with just the horses.  Oh, holiday pictures, we will look back on this and smile!

Another Saturday Night

Been catching up with sleep and rest since the boys left on Wednesday.  I have been trying to get rid of pneumonia since before Thanksgiving.  I am better but still tired, guess it will take awhile. 

Mom has been overly confused since Jim and Jay left.  She thinks they will be back to take her out to dinner any minute and has been dressed and waiting in the lobby.  She keeps asking me why Jim isn’t spending more time with her.  I don’t have a good answer.  Tonight she told me that Jim had gotten a truck and was coming to get her.  I hope she forgets about all this soon. 

Ally and Lauren have been busy with finals coming up next week. It will be great when this semester is over for Ally.  It was a lot to take so many hours so soon after having Kendyll.  But she has gotten through it.  They both have.  I am proud of them.

Tonight I have my office Holiday party.  I was part of the organizing committee so know it will be nice.  It’s another Saturday and I am happy to have somewhere to get dressed up and go. 

Tomorrow Lauren and I will take some photos with the horses.  That should be fun!

So, Wow-what’s up now?

Mom and Jim  looking intently at one another

Mom and Jim looking intently at one another

Jim and Jay have spent the last couple days here in Texas.  Mom has been overjoyed to be with Jim.  Jim has been overjoyed to be with mom.  Last night, a group of us went out to dinner at the Mexican restaurant.  Blake’s mother, Jo Etta watched my mother and Jim cuddle and kiss for awhile and then said, “so do you think there is hope for us?” questioning if we, the two single ladies would ever find love again.  Who knows?  But Jim and mom make it look easy. 

We all had a fun time with Jordyn getting to see her GGJim as she calls her Great Grandpa Jim and Kendyll getting to meet him for the first time.  The food was good (even the Mexican connoisseurs, Jay and Jim, thought the food was good) the fellowship was great and the opportunities to be together were to be cherished. When Lauren and I took mom back to the nursing home, they had a live polka band playing in the lobby.  I texted Jay to suggest they come on over, but he just told me to have fun!  I think the busy day(s) had caught up with us all.

Jim and Jay had another full day.  They had found a place to hit some golf balls.  Then they headed over to my place to see the horses and meet the dogs.  Dr. Criner was there working on the horse’s teeth so Jim thought that was all pretty interesting.  I guess at one point he was standing on a plastic chair looking over my fence at big Bruno.  He asked Lauren if Bruno wasn’t 16 hands.  Lauren told him no, actually over 17.  Jim thought he was a big guy.  I just wish I had a picture of 95-year old Jim standing on the plastic chair gazing at the horse.  How great would that have been?

After that the “boys” went down to Bravos Bend State Park in search of the alligators.  They got to see  a lot snakes and enjoyed the park, but didn’t spot any alligators. Jay told me they had lunch at a little diner in a gas station where a Cajun women was presiding over the menu.  He said the food was great.  Gas station diners in south Texas are the best!

In other news, after much soul-searching and professional veterinary opinions, it has been decided that Off the Track Thoroughbred (OTTB) Bruno’s hoof problem needs the attention of the surgeons at Texas A&M Vet Hospital.  It will be tough but the consensus is that there is an on-going infection in the hoof so they will go in and clean out the infection so the hoof can grow out safely and strongly.  I would rather do the surgery now  instead of starting him in training and needing it later.  It will be over six months (if all goes well) before Bruno will be back under saddle but that will give him some time off to just be a horse.  Most thoroughbreds start into training right around January of their second year (so Bruno was about 20 months old).  Bruno went from the track to hunter/jumper training so this will be the first time for him be a part of the herd and just have downtime.  Seems ridiculas but it is important for their minds and development as well as ours to have some time off.

Lauren will continue with Feather and we will plan to sell Mimi to right home.  Mickey may try to find a young rider to serve as a jumper or equitation horse for, if we could find the right match.

When Jordyn was down this weekend we got the Christmas decorations up and she had fun with all the ornaments.  However, she kept taking ornaments and asking if she could take them home.  She wanted to show them to her parents. 

Amber’s family is coming in Christmas day and it is the first time my immediate family has been together for the holiday since 2007.  It has been over a decade since my mom has been with us so we are looking forward to a joyful time.  They will stay with Ally (more room) but young Riley says he is not staying with Aunt Ally.  He is staying with Granny and the horses.  We will see how that works out.


Reunited-seeing each other for the first time in three months.

Reunited-seeing each other for the first time in three months.

The kiss!!

And it feels so good!

And it feels so good!

Today mom’s 95 year-old husband, Jim, came from Tucson with his son Jay.  I wasn’t sure how it would go.  When we left Denver she was very mad at him as she felt he had abandoned her by moving out of the assisted living and leaving her on her own.  Actually, because of the amount of care she needed, she was better off here with me and he was fine to live with his family. Honestly, who knows really what she thought but she had built it up to be a pretty big deal.  She refused to even say goodbye to him when we left.  That however, did not stop her from speaking of him frequently and wondering where he was.

Now, three months later (has it really only been three months since she came here?) everything has changed in her mind.  I didn’t think she would know either Jim or Jay but we talked about them coming.  When I spotted them pulling into the parking lot, I asked her if she wanted to go out to meet them.  When we got to the lobby she and Jim would have run to each other if they could.  Jim was absolutely overwhelmed with seeing mom again.  He told her he loved her so much and had tears in his eyes as we walked to her room.  

It was not clear if she realizes that Jim is her husband or what the relationship is, but she was ecstatic to have the attention of these two nice men.  Then as all the excited talk went on between them mom pulled out of her memory somewhere that Jim had been her doctor.  (For those of you that missed that part of the story, my dad died in 1991.  Jim’s wife had passed away as well.  They reunited then while walking in a Denver park.  Jim was the OB/GYN that had delivered me as a baby.  They have been married for 15 years.)

It was really one of the greater things that I have witnessed in my life to see the love Jim had for my mother.  She was a little confused and a little unsure but Jim had enough love for both of them.  It was not unlike the south Texas version of “The Notebook”.

When we had talked about their visit before they came she was worried about her usual litany of things, her hair (she was convinced that her old Denver hairdresser Betty Burke would come fix it for her), what she was going to wear (did she have the right clothes?) and where they would meet. I assured her that I would be there to help her get ready and she was okay with that.

The next couple of days, Jim and Jay will visit with mom, do some sight-seeing (that shouldn’t take too long in Wharton) and tomorrow we will have a family and friend dinner so that Jim can see Ally, her new baby and Jordyn.  Blake and his mom, Jo Etta, will come along as they are just like family.  We will all go to the Mexican restaurant that mom and I visited before.  I know mom will enjoy the attention and diversion from the usual nursing home activities.  I just hope when Jim leaves she doesn’t miss him as much as she did before.


Caitlyn with Ky-her partner and friend.Photo courtesy of Morgan German Photography

Caitlyn with Ky-her partner and friend.
Photo courtesy of Morgan German Photography

I want to celebrate some goals set and reached by a couple of my favorite people. Goals by definition should be attainable but require a stretch, a reach out of the norm to allow for them to come to pass. If a goal is simple, it does not mean anything once you reach it.

I have talked before and sung the praises of Lauren’s and my friend Caitlyn.  She is the one that as a youngster struggled to find her place in the world, struggled to make the world make sense, but once she started riding, it gave her motivation to try harder with everything else in her life.  My second goal achiever has much the same starting story, but we will get to that.

Caitlyn qualified for the top equestrian national finals this year in a process that requires skill, stamina, determination and seemingly being in multiple places at the same time, all while mounted on a spectacular bay horse and jumping jumps.

Caitlyn is a senior this year and has only the regret that she didn’t get to do the national finals sooner,  only that she wished she had tried sooner and harder to reach her goals.  Not a bad regret to have.  Who of us, don’t regret the passing of time and opportunities, but at least Caitlyn got to make the run at nationals one final, glorious year.  And it will pay off for her.  While it is still unclear exactly where, at what school, Caitlyn will make her NCAA debut, I am certain that she will.  She has talked to a few schools, one in particular that has already told her that they want her on their team, and who knows who else may come along and ask her to the big NCAA Collegiate Equestrian dance.  She will reach her goal (Lord willing) of being on a college equestrian team. 

So, again I say Bravo, Caitlyn!  Way to ride and way to reach your goal.  I also know Cate has a few more big things on her list of goals like riding a Grand Prix.  It is inspiring and exhilarating to watch this young woman stretch her limits and reach the big stars.

Luke, proud with his family- wife Ally and daughters Jordyn and Kendyll

Luke, proud with his family- wife Ally and daughters Jordyn and Kendyll  Photo courtesy of Memories by Elvia.

My daughter Ally was in college, it was Christmas time, and she and her new boyfriend (of just a couple of months) sat me down to tell me they were having a baby.  Not the way you dream for your daughter’s life to unfold.  I was devastated that night for the loss of Ally’s dreams (in completing school), my fear that she like I would be a single mom and mostly because neither Ally or Luke had any idea what they were getting in to with having a baby. 

Their plan was to have the baby and then see if their love was still strong enough to support a marriage.  Turned out to be a good plan.  Jordyn was born in 2007.  They were married in 2009 and had baby Kendyll this year. 

Luke is five years older than Ally.  He had an entry-level job with a big utility company.  He had never really had to work too hard at anything.  He got by.  Luke decided to make some changes in his life for family and for himself.  He put some goals on paper and committed himself to completing them. 

I watched as he progressed up the line at his job.  He was accepted into the advanced training program.  He committed to it and completed the physically and mentally difficult course with the best of his group.  Luke set some new goals.  He and Ally bought a great house after saving money sharing houses and apartments with other families.  Luke made some lifestyle changes as well.  He knew with his new responsibilities and family he had to run the straight and narrow.  And he has.

This year-2012-he set his own goal for how hard he would push himself and how hard he would work-to meet a monetary goal that was WAY out of the reach of the young man who sat across from me at Christmas six years ago.

Certainly, Ally has supported the goals of this man who is her husband in caring for the family and being alone more times than she would have liked but knowing that her family would reap benefits from the time her husband was working.  Most of this year has been spent with Luke working nights and missing out on family dinners and the lively evenings with his two adorable daughters.  It is been a hard year.

Tonight we surprised Luke at a local steakhouse to celebrate him bursting past his annual goal with some of 2012 still left to go.  He made a goal to support his family, he put a number to that goal and he worked literally sometimes night and day to achieve it.  I did not know the man who would be my first grand baby’s father would ever even be my daughter’s husband, much less that I would grow to love and respect him.  I applaud his goal setting, his hard work and his love for his family. 

To Caitlyn and Luke, keep setting the goals, keep reaching high and thank you for letting me be a part of your journey.