Sunday, January 25, 2015

Oh, Deer! A Weekend Surprise

So, we've been hanging out at home, today and totally enjoying some unexpected sunshine through our southward-facing living room window.

Jock had been lounging quietly, too, but had suddenly started whining and acting restless. Not unusual - maybe the Dachshunds next door were outside. Or maybe the wind was blowing just so. Who knows. 

All of a sudden, Livie shouts, "Hey, look! Deer! Deer! Look! Daddy! Mommy! Look out the window!"

When I looked out the window, I saw what she was so excited about. Three deer were just on the other side of our backyard fence, right here in suburbia!

The view of two of them, through our very dirty window!

At this point, Jock was barking and whining and getting at the sliding door that leads to our deck. He really wanted to get out there and chase them. It was at this point that they had gotten startled and started heading toward the elementary school's field right across the street. And it was at this point that I realized there were four deer (not three) out there. 

That was unexpected!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Royalty and Popular Songs

Liv and I have been keeping busy this month with all sorts of activities, from school/homework to Girl Scouts, swimming (at our local Y's indoor pool), riding, and Pony Club.

Liv and I are quite proud of her improvement this past weekend at her riding lesson. She's been working on learning how to post the trot, and yesterday while riding Prince, she was really getting the hang of it! (Posting is, in the simplest of terms, rising and lowering yourself to the beat of the trot - a horse's two-beat gait - up on one beat, down on the next beat, up on the next. . . .) Once you get the hang of it, it oftentimes seems easier than sitting the trot. This is very exciting, as it shows great improvement. Plus, she'll be able to get tested for her first U.S. Pony Club rating (D-1) within the next couple months!

Pony Club is a great organization that teaches kids proper horsemanship/maintaining horses' well-being/learning to ride in a safe, smart manner. D-1 is the beginning level. Each level is standardized and has certain expectations that they must meet or exceed in order to be rated at a certain level, and they build on the knowledge these young horsemen/women learned in the previous levels.

Here she is, mid-lesson giving Prince and herself a breather after having maintained a posting trot for a few minutes. This is the first time she has been able to use a couple gifts from "Santa" -  her new "children's length" (shorter) stirrup leathers (that are still a little long so we had to roll 'em, anyway) and safety stirrup irons, which have a thick "rubber band" type thing on the outside that will release if she were to fall off, preventing her foot from being stuck in the stirrup; if her foot were to get stuck in the stirrup during a fall, it's dangerous, as she could get dragged around.

Prince, by the way, has been enjoying the weather. It's been in the mid-40s F here in eastern Iowa during the day these past few days.

Needless to say, the paddock where Prince is kept has a muddy spot or two. And he thoroughly enjoyed rolling in a "nice" gloppy spot not too long before we arrived for Liv's lesson. When we got there, his neck and head were COVERED in mud. Her instructor had said he had been perfectly clean not two hours earlier!

So Liv and another young girl at the stables worked on getting the mud curried off of him (at least his midsection and rear end were covered by his blanket, and were relatively clean). If you click on the pic, you can see that he still has some remaining dried mud on his mane (neither girl was quite tall enough to get that part thoroughly cleaned).

Another fun thing she's done this month is art. She had received a gift card from "Santa" from the local art studio, The Dreaming Bear, where she loves doing artwork. A couple weekends ago, she made a fantastic piece of art (a winking fox). She based her paint scheme on a song that's been popular somewhat recently:
To tell you the truth, I'm still not sure what he says.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Just Remembering

Today is my grandmother's birthday. She would've been 90 years old today.

So, in her honor, I'm posting a few of my favorite pics of her and the Southwest.

In no particular order:
The street where she and my grandfather used to live. I took this pic when we were there for her funeral.
Near her house - these are the Franklin Mountains, which she saw daily.

Liv, near a yucca plant at White Sands National Monument.

A dune at White Sands National Monument. My first visit to White Sands was with my grandparents, when I was very little.

Oma's birthday, 2011.

Me, my mom, and Oma, right around my college graduation, May 1993.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Jock's Snowy Morning

Alright, so many of you are probably aware that the Midwest got hit by a snowstorm yesterday and  it lasted through the overnight hours. We ended up getting approximately 6.2" in my neighborhood.

Plus, we're going back into the deep freeze this week. When I headed out with Liv to take her to school this morning (after a 2 hour delayed start), the temp was -5°F with a wind chill of around -19°F. Let me tell you, she was bundled up. Long underwear, clothes, snow pants, snow boots, neck gaiter, winter coat, mittens, hat. She said her snow gear is SO WARM (thankfully!!) and the walk to school - 0.26 one way/door-to-door (we're literally right across the street) - is short.

We're supposed to be above 0°F for a high temp (though in the single digits, around 8°F). Tonight, though, it's supposed to be -11°F; who knows how cold the wind chill will get. Tomorrow? A high of -5°F and tomorrow's low expected to drop to -18°F. No wonder we've got a wind chill warning, huh?!

It really could be worse, though! Liv and I are reading The Long Winter, by Laura Ingalls Wilder. In this book, Laura describes blizzard after blizzard the Ingalls family endures in their house in the Dakota Territory during the winter of 1880-1881. She often mentions the bitter cold they were enduring this particular winter, and how, when she was in bed, she would look up at the ceiling and see how frost coated the ceiling board nails thickly in white. (They could also see their breath upstairs in their bedroom!!) 

And at one point, she mentions that, when Pa went down the street one day (they lived in town at this point) to find out the news from other townsfolk, he'd mentioned, upon his return home, that it was around 40° below!! 

A high of 8°F doesn't seem so bad, especially when the sun is making a weak (but hopefully not brief) appearance.

Anyway, I did entitle this post "Jock's Snowy Day." Yes, my original intent was to share a few pictures of Jock's enjoyment of the snowy back yard. He was born in August 2014, so last year was obviously his first winter. He LOVED it. He loved rolling in the snow, running around in the snow, eating, it, sticking his snout into snow drifts and rooting around . . . I was hoping that this winter, he'd be just as enamored of the white stuff as he was last year. 

Yep. He sure is. 


These were taken this morning, during Liv's two hour delay. She watched a bit from the window while I went out to take a few pics of Jock. I didn't get any of him while he was rooting around (SO FUNNY!) because he'd hear my camera's buzz while I focused on him, and he'd immediately whip his head around and look at me. But you can see the snowy effect of his rooting!

We didn't stay out long because of the wind chills, and the fact that his veterinary hospital posted about only taking dogs out for elimination purposes only while we're in this deep freeze. But I figured a few minutes here and there would be okay.

And then Liv had to go to school. I usually take her to the corner, and then the crossing guard takes over, but since we were a few minutes early, the crossing guard wasn't there, yet. So I walked her across the street onto school property, and she trotted off from there. 

When I got back into the house, I found Jock. Since both Liv and Andrew had two weeks off (one from school and the other from work, obviously), he grew accustomed to having all three of us around. But Andrew left for work after snow blowing the driveway and sidewalks, and then Liv was off. So he found his spot at the window by the front door (with his chew toy and the towel I use to dry him off after coming in from the snow) and began pining away for his two missing humans. 

Poor Jock. Hopefully he'll get used to the regular routine soon. (He's no longer at the window, but under my desk right now as I type.)

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