Ready to Relay?

Jordyn with the red cap before starting backstroke.

Some of you may have seen that my granddaughter, Jordyn, at age nine, tried out for swimteam and made it.  I was a swimmer for most of my youth, swimming on summer and winter teams in the Chicagoland area.  I was actually shocked when Jo made the team.  She could swim but wow, to get in and compete against kids who had been doing this for a few years already, is hard.

First meet, Jordyn did not have a quality dive or a good turn but she got in and won a second place and some other ribbons.  Excellent start.  Her coach clearly believes in her and pushed into the relay space (filling in for an absent swimmer) at this last meet.  Oh, goodness, barely a dive and now has to wait for the other swimmer to touch and dive off into the pool to swim the relay race.  She was worried sick and having a panic attack but she listened to her coach and focused on what to do.  Guess what, the relay won first place!!

Jordyn ended up with three firsts (swimming freestyle in two relays and 50 yard free) and a second place for the day! I can’t help but think where she will be when that dive becomes routine and those turns are flip turns.  Wow, this lean, tall girl is going to be (or has become) a swimmer!

I love Seth Godin on any day but this blog about relays was certainly appropriate for me (and Jordyn).  I hope you enjoy it too!

http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2017/06/mental-load-and-the-worry-cache.html

Mental load and the worry cache by Seth Godin

It’s well known that the team that wins an Olympic relay isn’t the fastest at running or swimming—it’s the team that handles the handoffs the best.

The same thing is true of your job. The tasks could be done by many people, but someone who is great at your job embraces the mental effort necessary to do task switching, to read between the lines, to keep many balls going at the same time. Strategy and tactics both.

Sometimes, we think that these are the things that get in the way of our work. In fact, they are the work.

Writing a sentence is easy. Deciding what to write in the next sentence is hard.

Making decisions is exhausting. It involves perception and analysis and most of all, taking responsibility. Pretending to lead and manage is a trivial task, because there’s no, “what if?”

It turns out that the mental load of management is primarily around experiencing failure.

Actual failure, sure, but mostly potential failure. Imagining failure in advance. All the current things that could go wrong. And more important, the things you’re not doing that will be obvious oversights later. Our brains work overtime to cycle through these, to learn to see around corners, to have the guts to delegate without doing the work ourselves (even though that creates more imagined points of failure). Scan, touch, consider, analyze, repeat.

The other thing that’s a huge load: Worry. Unlike all the things I’ve already mentioned, worry isn’t actually part of your job. Worry (expressed through non-productive pessimistic cycles over things out of your control) is antithetical to the work you’ve agreed to do.

Clear your cache of worry.

It’ll free up your processor to focus on the useful stuff.

Grandkids

I have four grandchildren. The oldest, Jordyn, is nine. Next, my only grandson, Riley is seven. Then, is Lexi who is five. And last but certainly not least, is Kendyll who is four.  

Their parents, God bless them, give their children opportunities to excel in sports and in school. All four of the children are doing well in their sporting events this spring. I thought I would take just a moment to brag on all of them. 


Getting ready to Canter with trainer Nancy

Away they go!

Canter away

First, Jordyn, is really getting used to her new horse Poppy.  Poppy is to be the grandchildren’s horse but Jordyn is the one taking the first rides. By this weekend she was cantering over and over, picking up the correct lead and perfecting her style within just a week.  The little Poppy horse has entered all of our hearts.

Next out in Brighton, Colorado seven-year-old Riley has been tearing up the baseball field. He has had a hit at every single game he has played this year I know his grandpa Dave is very proud of him.

Baseball/softball was such a huge part of our life with Amber as she grew up playing with her dad coaching. Seems like her son has the same genetics.

As we all know it is hard especially in varying weather conditions, extremely cold days, warm days, windy days, to always get up and hit that ball. But that is exactly what Riley has been doing being one of the most consistent hitters is on his team.  I am very proud of him myself.
Lexington, pretty much the queen of her kindergarten class, ask anyone in the class- I’m serious, is also preparing for a dance recital right now. Lexi loves the costumes, the music and her simple ability to just dance her heart out. I wish I could be there for the recital. But I’ll look forward to seeing it Lexi on video when I can.

Riley and Lexi are also working on their upcoming Spartan race as they prepare to race across varied terrain and over and under many obstacles.

Lexi and Riley practicing the obstacle wall. It’s up and over folks.

Finally, four year-old Kendyll has been playing soccer this season. At first it didn’t go so well. It was really a lot of work running up and down that field and working the ball wasn’t too easy either. But Kendyll,  I think, is a natural athlete and bit by bit she got the idea of what was supposed to happen on the field.

It is also helped that I have been out of commission the last couple of weeks. Kendyll would come over while I sat in a chair to defend the garage entrance and Kendyll will try to kick the ball past me as I sat in the chair.  That should be pretty easy right? Actually Kendyll learned a lot from the exercise,  doing it over and over again till she got it right. 

 At her game this weekend she got her very first goal! I am very proud of her performance as well.  
It is amazing what happens when you give kids goals and opportunities to meet their goals. 

I love these babies so much and I’m so proud of them. 
As always, thanks for riding along.

From the mouths of babes (or in this case Kendyll)


It’s that time of the year for too many commitments and even less time. My daughter Ally found herself having to regretfully tell her four year-old daughter, Kendyll, that she would not be able to attend the pre-schooler’s Christmas party.  Guilt got the best of Ally and she took off halfway through her work at our family farm today to attend the party.
Surprisingly, she was greeted as she walked in by a couple of staff members.

“Kendyll said you were working at the barn today and couldn’t come” the one teacher said.

“Well, as long as you are here-we have some questions for you” chimed in another.

“Does Kendyll really have her own horse and ride all by herself?” was the first question.

“Yes, she does. She has been riding since she was little” Ally told them (most would think four was young, but I digress).

“She said that her granny, aunt and you ride as well” came the next question.

“We do” Ally answered.

“Kendyll says her granny is the best rider because she can ride in snow, jumps and does dressage” (what four year-old knows that word?)

But then came the best question of all!

The teacher leaned forward intense on Ally’s next response, “Kendyll says her aunt Lauren rides with the Marines!”

“Is she in Afghanistan?” the other teacher eagerly asked.

Ally was a little confused.  Lauren and the armed services are not things that go together naturally. Then the light came on.

From the mouths of babes, Kendyll had heard us talk about Trapp (Lauren’s trainer) being a Marine.  In her head, she had put together that Lauren was in the Marines!! Wow, that is the best thing ever.

Lauren might argue that training with Trapp is like being in the Marines.  Everyday is boot camp.

And just as an aside, while my step-father was proudly in the cavalry, what exactly would Lauren being doing in Afghanistan on a horse?  Maybe she and Feather doing reconnaissance missions in the mountainous regions?  Leading patrols through the shattered streets?   Just asking…

Anyway, precocious, articulate four year-olds are always listening and picking up way more than we think.  Guess we better watch what we are saying because Kendyll is on a listen and tell mission.

rose

These roses are blooming next to the barn right now.

 

Anyway, I hope you all are staying warm as this cold front descends on the nation.  Slow down and enjoy the season.

Thanks for riding along!

Positano & a BIG Surprise

 

back-handIn 1953, John Steinbeck wrote, “Positano is dream place that isn’t quite real when you are there and becomes beckoningly real after you have gone.”  Positano is my word for having my family home for the holiday.    It was amazing after so long (maybe two years) to have everyone from the grandkids to son-in-laws all together at once.

This is what Amber wrote as they headed south for their visit (this is not about me helping them to get home but about how badly we all needed the love of our family so much).

____________________________________

Feeling blessed and excited! My momma is flying us ‘Newski’s down to Texas for Thanksgiving. It’s been a really tough year with broken bones, pain, loss of my beloved 13 year old dog, loss of income, and near loss of loved ones. I can’t wait to be with family and enjoy their spirit. My mom is always trying to bring me joy and I’m lucky to have her. She brought us our new Lola puppy girl full of love and joy and now she is bringing my Colorado family to Texas. I love you mom. Can’t wait to see you Cindy

_______________________________________

We were blessed with a Thanksgiving visit that started on the Saturday before Thanksgiving.  We had a lively schedule and yet plenty of time to visit, play games and re-connect. Ryan and Amber also got a chance to get to the Equestrian Center and watch Lauren compete.  Lauren has had several good months as she has learned the ins-and-outs of new mount KY but it was at this show where things really started to come together.

As the Denver family was only getting home one time, we had to combine Christmas and Thanksgiving (in that order) to spend it in person.  Our schedule included Christmas on Monday and Thanksgiving on Tuesday.  A little odd but no one seemed to mind (especially the kids).

I also was determined to re-enact the Holiday photo from two years ago (our last time all together) into a new photo for this year.  Previously, I had my steadfast mare Kalani who was great at standing still but this year the photo was going to be on my mare Nova while quiet-standing still is not her best thing.

Although you could not tell by this picture Nova is a bigger mare.  I was just glad no one fell off.  Nova started to move around.  Jordyn and Kendyll wanted off now!!  They have gotten pretty wise.  Lexi and Riley were like, no problem Granny, take some more pictures!

Moving on to Christmas Monday (Nov.21st), I felt the usual excitement around the kids and presents but there seemed to be more.  As everyone rushed to open presents (I felt like no one was giving fair attention to what was being opened) a huge box suddenly appeared in front of me. Clearly, this was about me and everyone was carefully watching my reaction.  I hate surprises.  At least most surprises.  I was scared opening this box.  I am not often caught off-guard but I had NO idea what was going on.  I thought something was going to jump out at me-like a llama.  But as I tentatively opened the box I saw a huge suitcase not an animal.  That surprised me even more.  I did not need a big suitcase.  I had not left the farm except for small suitcase adventures in years.

Then I had to open the suitcase.  That was scary too!  I saw this cleverly crafted sign inside.

WHAT??

Yes, the girls had been planning for some time (and I had no hint) to take me on a Mother-Daughters’ Cruise for my 60th birthday in February.  Oh my goodness.  I was shocked and SO pleased.  I know all three girls have struggled with finances these last years and to see they had done this for me was amazing.

They had even cleared it with my boss and set up coverage for the animals.  I am going on a CRUISE with my daughters!!  WOW!!

What a birthday, Christmas, Thanksgiving surprise.  What wonderful girls!


It was a wonderful time and here are some of the best pictures.  Enjoy.

pool

Texas Thanksgiving in the pool.

                          Lexi and Kendyll 

poo

Maui Jim and Kona sharing a stick

I hope all of you had a wonderful holiday whatever one you were celebrating.  Mine was totally unreal!

 


Oh, and I might have adopted two cats.  I know, I know.  But I am running out of time.  If I am going to be 60 and these are teenagers, then they might well out live me.  I had to help them when I saw their faces.  I intended to get the girl but the boy was wearing a bowtie so what was I to do?

They are settling in well and are totally beautiful.

Thanks for riding along!

Big Surprises!

We have another big surprise in store for Jordyn, my oldest granddaughter.  I am not telling what it is yet-it will happen on Monday.  But as I thought about Jordyn and her life and reflected on my life as well, I thought this little preamble to the surprise was in order.

Two of the biggest surprises in my life were first getting a dog when my mother absolutely forbid dogs or pets of any kind in our house.  I was obsessed with all animals.  It was an unfair match at best.  I was in third grade when my mom went off to spend a week in Oklahoma with her sisters and my dad took a highly suspect week’s vacation to watch my sister and I.

We had no more pulled away from O’Hare airport when my father made a turn that was not towards home. Yes, immediately after leaving the airport, the three of us went to pick up a four-month old Miniature Schnauzer puppy we named Scamp.  I was the happiest I had ever been.  By the time my mom got home a week later, my father had this dog housebroken and trained.  My life was complete for awhile until my push for a horse would begin in earnest.

That was my second big surprise.  My dad and I had gone to look at some nice Quarter Horses.  I loved the buckskin one (still love buckskins).  But I was told we would have to wait until spring when Chicago thawed out enough to pull trailers and move horses.  On Christmas morning of my seventh grade year, one of the last packages I opened contained a model horse.  I thought it was just a promise of a horse to come.  My dad told me to look under the horse.  I was amazed to find the registration papers for the buckskin, lying inside.  Despite  the bitter cold Christmas morning I was riding “Hilltop Dunny” soon after.  One of the best surprises and days of my life.

brandy

At age 16, with my horse Brandy (Hilltop Dunny).

When Jordyn was younger, we let Snowboy go off to our trainer’s barn where he could be used more.  Jo wasn’t old enough for regular rides and Lauren and I had our hands full with training and riding what we had.  Some of you will remember this, but on Jordyn’s sixth birthday, we brought Snowboy back to the farm.  We had him all tacked up in the arena for her to ride after she arrived.  I am inserting the link to the video.

https://exechorseluver.com/2013/08/21/the-snowboy-reveal/

 

Come Monday, I will have a new video of a new surprise for Jordyn.  It was meant to be a Christmas present (and it will be) but sometimes you just can’t wait for Christmas.

Enjoy this link-I hope it puts a little smile on your face!  And maybe makes you remember a special surprise you got-the day you got what you wanted most in life.

 

Check it out!  And as always thanks for being a part of the farm and riding along with us!

September

 

We are suddenly half way through September.  As far as things go around my place it still feels like June or August.  September has yet to really differentiate itself from the rest of summer, at least until I thought about it a little.

September always seems more like the start of the new year than New Year’s.  Things begin again.  School, clothing changes (even if temps do not), new TV shows start, days become shorter bit by bit and the horses either start growing that winter coat  or at least shedding out the summer one in preparation for the new one. There are two in the barn with their new winter coats already grown that are miserably sweating out the last of summer days.  

As an aside, coats are grown by horses in a response to decreased daylight, not temperature, so a horse in Montana starts growing a winter coat when his friends in Florida do. But I digress. 

ril

I wish i would have been around for this cake Amber made!!

I also have two grandchildren with early September birthdays so that always starts off the month in a fun way.  Lauren got Riley (7) a Lego-type kit of the PETRONAS Twin Tower building in Kuala Lumpur.  He is quite accomplished at these but this one is proving a bit challenging. 

Jordyn (9) had a fun swimming party this year with a Texan theme.  How great is that?  Two of her favorite things at one time.

tex

And although it is 90+ degrees my friend Caroline and I, she has bought horses from me and I have bought horses from her, had our yearly blanket talk. We both have a variety of horses, old and young, small and big.  We both blanket all our horses when the days got cold (okay, cool) but with horses growing and changing we try to trade off with one another.  This year I am trading her Betty Sue’s blanket which she has out-grown to her for use on my old Piper pony that she now owns and she is giving me a horse sized blanket for Betty Sue.  Hard to think about all this while the sweat drips down your face, but one day soon it will be important. 

My favorite flower, the Hawaiian plumeria


My summer flowers are looking a little tired at this point, all that growing and blooming. I think they are ready for a rest too.  But with all the rain and then sun, everything has grown well this summer. I like this shot taken through the jasmine I planted, which is now vining the fence as you look across to the arena. 

September was always a favorite month for me in both Chicago and Colorado.  I loved fall.  It was a time for change.  I have always loved change.  I loved starting a new grade, the new weather, the new clothes, the colors of the trees. It was a favorite time to go with my dad to Colorado for the family Aspen ride. Nothing is a breath-taking to me as the mountains on fire in their fall glory. 

I wish I had pictures still of those rides on my golden buckskin through the golden Aspens. I wish I had been able to save more of my family history. 

And of course fall is always the time to get back to the horse show ring. I am excited to see what the fall shows will bring to us. Lauren has been riding several horses a day and working hard at her trainer’s. So here is a riddle- Lauren will be back in the ring on a horse that Jordyn has ridden ( or at least sat upon) at a horse show but Lauren never has.  Huh, wonder who that can be.  I will post a picture of Jo on the horse in my next blog. Change is good. Change is upon us all. Embrace what you can and keep riding along!

———–

Congratulations to my daughter Amber and her family on their newest family member, Lola. She is a German Wirehaired Pointer. 

 

 

Return in time

This weekend I returned to Breckenridge where I had not been in 19 years.  Back then, my mother was marrying Jim and we augmented the trip to Denver with a family ski trip. While the pictures are not reproducing very clearly, Amber has a collage of the photos from that trip hanging in the guest room where I stayed.  It was one of our last family trips before we were a family no longer.


First picture is of Amber and I skiing exactly where the Spartan Race was. The second is young Amber and the last is Amber, Ally and very young Lauren. (apologize for the low quality)

Then, I was married with children. At the risk of spinning off song lyrics, I got a divorce and chestnut horse.  Ally, Lauren and I started life over in Texas.  Years, miles, family lost, family gained have rolled on by re-setting my life.  It was quite interesting to find myself back on the Breckenridge slopes.

There I was, standing once again, on the same slopes of Breckenridge that we had skied all those years ago, now as a mother-in-law and a grandmother, watching Ryan, Riley and Lexi compete in Spartan Races was quite a trip for me to take, literally and mentally.


It was weird in many ways to me.  First, I was standing on the lush summer green grass where before in the same spot I had stood on 30 or more inches of snow. The lifts standing still in the soft summer breeze.  I looked up and down the mountain, taking in the view, remembering the many ski trips here. Now, I was here to watch and support a crazy new kind of race.

The Spartan Race is a leader in the sport of obstacle racing, offering open heats for all fitness levels, as well as competitive and elite heats for those with something more to prove. The first of its kind to feature timing and global rankings, Spartan Race provides a proving ground for beginner and professional obstacle racers looking to test themselves in new ways across the world.

In Ryan’s race Saturday, he ran over 14 miles but faced daunting obstacles the whole way.  It was super compelling to me as we watched the runners approach the finish line.  I am almost lost my voice cheering them on.  Anyone that has heard me at a horse show is no stranger to my yells and cat calls.  This group was made up of serious athletes and I wanted them to hang on and finish their race.

Prior to rolling downhill under barb wire, the contestants are dumped in a tank of icy water.  Ryan is in front.  Good times!

Ryan jumping the fire pit (seriously!)

Ryan after he crossed the finish line with Amber, Riley and Lexi.

Riley headed off in his own Spartan obstacle race!

Lexi conquering the web.  She told me it was easy for her because she is a gymnast!

 Riley and Lexi will their medals post finish!

I spend a lot of time with Ally and Lauren.  I cheer on Jordyn’s riding pursuits.  I acknowledge four year-old Kendyll’s reported wins in the Grand Prix ring (that’s what she tells me anyway).

I was so happy to be back in Colorado with this set of my family cheering them on.  Especially for something so difficult.  Riley had no problem with his race at all.  He paced along, conquered the obstacles and headed to the finish line.  Lexi was one of the smallest competitors.  She mastered the balance beam, hauled herself over any solid walls that came her way, but drew the line at the mud hazard.  Although she lost points, she told me clearly, “Granny, I am not going in the mud!  I don’t like to get dirty!”  We will need to work on that!

I enjoyed a wonderful weekend with my Denver family.  It was nice to feel the cool air and mountain breeze.  Wearing jeans for the first time in over six months was kind of nice, too.  The mountains will always be first love and my home.


Amber and I made a trip to the cemetery as well.  I had not seen my mother’s head stone before.  It was sad and a little overwhelming to see the headstones of my entire immediate family laid out before me.  I saw my final resting spot.  I don’t know when I will join them but plan to live my life to fullest in the meantime.

As always, thanks for riding along.

Here’s a link to my chestnut horse.

 

https://exechorseluver.com/2012/04/23/meet-the-horses-mr-kid/