22 April 2018

Color Me Green Dash

The first splash of green.
The girls brought home a flyer for a family fun run put on by our county's 4H and since running a family race to encourage my kids to be active their whole lives, I thought it sounded like the perfect opportunity to cross that goal off our list.
We showed up a little early to get signed up and spent the time waiting for the race to start, looking at all the animals who'd be brought in for a post-race party petting zoo. You can't have a 4H event without some sort of animals present!
The cool baby look.
Apparently, there was a discrepancy regarding the race start time. The paper said one thing, the internet said another...so, it turned out we were earlier than we needed to be (what is it with me and showing up to races too early?!). But, we amused ourselves until it began because with kids and a dog, there's never a dull moment. The race was on a track around the fairgrounds and started out well enough. We jogged together, laughing as we were pelted by green powder.
Though he was invited, Jack declined to join us. There are very few reasons that he will run and since there were no geese in the pond, he decided to cheer from the sidelines with Zoey.
Smile and wave for the first lap!
 As we racked up the laps, Claire ran ahead, Kate stuck with me, and Evelyn needed to take her time.
About halfway through, poor Kate's little legs gave out and I found her by Jack, crying that she was finished. So, I dumped out Henry and Kate and I were off to finish.
Not to brag or anything, but I totally whooped the girls and beat them by a longshot.
Jack's camera skills leave something to be desired. Let's just say I was happy to have finished.
Claire came in a close second...
 ...Kate finished strong once she caught her breath...
 ...and poor Evelyn was pretty convinced she wanted to quit at lap eight since everyone else was already done and she was tired.
Since I don't like quitters, I told her I'd make the last two laps with her and Claire and Kate agreed they would too. About halfway around the last lap, Henry decided he wanted to join the fun.

Run, Henry! Run!
For a two-year-old, he has impressive stamina. He ran and ran and ran, which encouraged his sisters to also run and run and run. Except Evelyn. She spotted an empty jogging stroller and asked if she could take a quick break. I obliged. It won't be much longer before she won't ask anymore. What's the harm in indulging her being a child a bit longer?
Look at them go!
But, still having some pride, she insisted on getting out and running on her own two feet across the finish line.
Nothing like the accomplishment of crossing the finish line! She was so happy to have stuck with it when so many other participants quit. 
 And then Henry came in close behind, all smiles.

19 April 2018


Claire was determined to do the splits if it killed her...
If Claire is anything, it's athletic. And competitive. Ever since she was little, I knew that gymnastics would be a draw for her. She's always swinging on the monkey bars, spinning cartwheels, and more than once, I've caught her trying to do backflips, even though I've told her that's a no-no. Solution? Sign her up for lessons.
Practicing back somersaults.
I took her to a trial class, where she got to test the waters. Er, balance beams.
Her first balance beam handstand!
To say the place was crowded was the understatement of the century. Apparently, gymnastics is an incredibly popular sport. So, after we figured out where Claire was supposed to be, I found a quieter spot in the loft and watched with great amusement as Claire participated.
After stretches (where Claire was DETERMINED to be as flexible as everyone else who's already been taking the class for months) and warming up, they rotated stations from balance beams to floor exercises to bars.
While she struggled to do basic movements, there were older girls who'd been taking lessons for years effortlessly flipping and handspringing and cartwheeling all over the place. It's amazing that people are able to do what they're doing with their bodies and to think, they go from wobbly cartwheels to perfectly executed triple twist back springs in a matter of years is incredible.
Balancing on the beam.
After class, I asked Claire what she thought and she eagerly told me she gave gymnastics all the thumbs up (because two was not enough) and asked when she could start competing. Seeing as that's about as high of a compliment as she can pay, she is officially signed up.

She can already see a shelf full of trophies now...

18 April 2018

Square One

That's not where I left Parton...
Even with the wonky weather, the grass has begun to grow and it was time to put Parton out to pasture where the horses have been grazing. He and Dolly have been separated since the vet came out and confirmed she was due to give birth soon. So, instead of feeding precious hay and cleaning up after him, we drug him outside.
Literally. He doesn't know how to walk on a lead very well.
Cows are naturally very curious, so he sniffed around his new surroundings, making sure he could see his mom the whole time.
 Then, he thought he spotted some cows in the distance and ran over to meet them.

Only they weren't cows, they were the horses and their way of saying, "Hello" is to run.
It's not like they've never met before.
Jack stayed out and played intermediary to make sure everyone got along. Satisfied that they were all playing nice, we left them for the night...
...only to wake up to Parton wandering the yard.

I know exactly where he escaped--he jumped over the fence by the waterer where there's a missing rung and went to pay his mother a visit.
 Back to square one!

16 April 2018

Feline Frolic

Boomer wants you to spay and neuter.
In a continuing effort to nurture my love/hate relationship with running, I make it a goal every year to do a few friendly-competitive races. Not only are they more fun than running on my own, it gives me the motivation to keep plugging away every day, with the possibility of a race looming over me. This time, I decided to rope Claire in with me. Not only does she love cats and anything to do with cats, she's also extremely competitive and naturally athletic.
Though the forecast originally had thunderstorms scheduled for Saturday, we were let off with a steady drizzle of chilly rain. We woke up, quickly ate, fed the animals, and tidied up a bit before we were out the door to make it to the 9:30am start.

Much to my chagrin, we arrived and I discovered the race didn't start until 10:30am.

Ugh. I hate wasting time.

(Don't tell Claire I said hate...)

So, Jack suggested we go get donuts, which we did. As far as I'm concerned, we were already winners at that point.
Starting on our second lap!
We got everyone out of the car a second time just in time for Claire and me to line up for the start with Raven on her leash. Gotta say, if I ever complain about Raven ever again, someone please smack me...after being around a hoard of other dogs, 99% of whom had zero training from their owners, I'm in love with that dog all over again. Not only does she not bark and lunge, bite, or growl at other dogs, she also sits on command, walks and runs on her leash without tugging me along, and gets along splendidly with all other creatures.
We started the course and within the first thirty seconds, TWO different dogs came out of nowhere and tried to start a brawl with Raven. Luckily their owners were able to yank them off fast enough and Claire, Raven, and I were able to outrun them.
This photo basically sums up our experience with other dogs at the race. ;)
Setting a good pace from the start, both Raven and Claire were able to keep a good tempo. We ran the first mile and a half without any trouble and separated ourselves from the pack. It was so fun to get to have some one-on-one time with Claire and to watch her squeal with delight as volunteers chucked colored powder at her. More than once I reminded her of the story of the tortoise and the hare, which didn't seem to make much sense to her until the second lap. When she felt like she couldn't take another step, we slowed to a walk. That lasted all of five seconds before she realized she was going to be passed by someone. She took a deep breath and sprinted ahead again.
Raven always puts in her best effort on a run.
We finished in really good time--so good that we started lapping people who were walking only half the distance that we were running. By the time we got to the finish line, volunteers were reminding us we needed to run our second lap, nearly in disbelief when they realized Claire had already made it around two times. So, we sprinted to the finish and enjoyed all the goodies they were handing out before jumping in the car and heading home.
Enjoying her donut as a post-race reward.
We survived!
Apparently, all the running Claire, Raven, and I did put Jack in a competitive mood, too. But since he hates running, he decided to tackle a burger and fry eating challenge a local diner offers when we went on a lunch date.
Oh, boy, was that a lot of food.
He started out strong...
...but in the end, the grease and enormous amount of food he'd have to eat was too great and he (wisely) called it quits.
Starting to feel it.
Better luck next time!
The walk of shame...having to box up the food you couldn't finish in an eating challenge.
Sort of serendipitously on the way home, we came across a snapping turtle in the road, who was also trying to race his way somewhere. Though I'm not a huge fan of the ornery reptile, I'm a sucker for stopping for crossing animals.
However, he did not appreciate Jack's help in getting him out of harm's way. Though turtles have a reputation for being slow, snapping turtles snap faster than most people can blink. He got in three quick attempted bites before trying another tactic: peeing all over Jack's raincoat. Luckily for the turtle, Jack is always willing to do a good deed, even if it goes unthanked.
Taking it far, far away from our pond.
So Saturday was full of races--some won, some lost--but all memorable!

11 April 2018

Without Winter Coats

Raven...about the only one who's glad to see snow. 
To say that spring has been bizarre this year is an understatement. One day, it's snowing and chilly, so we bring the animals in...

Thanks Evelyn and Jack for putting the horses in their stalls!
 ...then it warms up nicely, which means mud (and grumpy horses)...

 ...then, we get a deluge of rain and the girls practically have to paddle the school bus to get home from school...

(Kidding. Sort of.)
All the extra time inside isn't all bad, though. There's extra time reading together...
Thank you, Claire, for keeping your siblings happy!
 ...extra snuggly time...
 ...even extra time to do fancy hair.
We also do our best to find solutions to other problems that not being able to get outside might present. For example, if we can't get out and ride Stoney, then the penny pony at the grocery store works as a substitute.
Judging by Zoey's first time on the penny pony, she's going to looooove riding!
When the weather is kind enough to us that we can get outside without the risk of frostbite or sinking to our knees in mud or being washed away in a monsoon, we take advantage of it.
The kids blow bubbles, ride bikes, search for shells, play with the animals, do their chores (much more willingly anyway...they do their chores no matter the temperature), shoot hoops, or wander the property with Jack and me.
Claire is so athletic.
We even got the spring itch enough that we had a batch of chicks started inside (which, mind you, isn't as fun as it sounds...chicks are adorable BUT they stink like a rotting gym shoe that stepped in doggy doodoo, they're shrill and persistently loud, and they're messier than a college roommate).
Leghorns are always too flighty for their own good.
Finally, last week I couldn't take Mother Nature's mood swings any more and we went to buy our garden plants and flowers.
Half of them are cold weather crops, so we have plans to put them in the ground soon, and the rest will live inside until the time is right. Nothing wrong with a little green on top of the piano, on the kitchen island, on multi-teared plant stands...
The irony. My sign and the plants about sum up what spring's been like.
Soon enough, it'll be hot, we'll hit the pond, the hummingbirds will be back, the frogs will be croaking, the biting flies will be tormenting everyone, weeds will abound, and the garden will be flourishing. So for now, we're (trying) to enjoy the cool for what it is and take it all in stride.

Just hopefully soon, we'll be striding without winter coats on.
So desperate for fresh lettuce he's eating it right out of the planter.


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