Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Pioneering a Summer of Quality Time

Engage. Enjoy. Teach. Love. Build.

Those are the goals that I set for myself this summer. The time has come to step away from the computer- away from technology- and get back to the good stuff in life. Quality time outdoors with my kids (and Brock, when he is available) is my overall goal for the three warm months of June, July and August, and by golly, I mostly* reach my goals.

*I never did grow to 5'9"

Aside from a handful of projects, I have given myself a pass from most computer-related work until September 1. My boys are only 4 and 7 once and I intend to take full advantage of every day with them this summer. I am grateful for these ages, when they actually like me and still want to hang out with me.

In May, I adopted an almost childlike attitude of "I can't WAIT until summer break!" and thus far, it truly has been magical. Already one month into break, and our days have been filled with almost nonstop fun and learning. Sure, we have had some bumps and tears (and a nasty pony bite- thank goodness that was me), but the majority of our time has been wonderful. Not once have I heard, "I'm bored!" and I really doubt I will because I have shed my boring, winter self and morphed into a tanned, denim clad, mostly unwashed, great facilitator of AWESOME. I will not lie, the kids' ages make activities so much easier (and more enjoyable) than they have been in years past.

I am having more fun being a mom now than I ever have before.

Because... tiny cowboys on ponies.  I mean, seriously, this shit is ridiculously cute.

It also helps that I have my horses back and no longer feel as if I have a giant void in my chest where my heart once lived. So there's THAT.

Also, the fridge stocked with Omission beer is nice. I like the Pale Ale (blue label).

In all seriousness, one of the main goals for this summer was to build up Thing 1's confidence, which had been hacked away during the school year. I painfully watched him struggle in school with his peers as he navigated the choppy waters of playground conduct and social structure. So many days he came home from Kindergarten with stories of kids excluding him, taunting him, and even punching him. It was heart wrenching to watch my beautiful, sensitive, sweet boy feel tentative about socializing, even with kids that he called friends. While he was succeeding beautifully in the classroom, my bright-eyed child's light was fading a bit. We had many too-advanced conversations about not allowing others to victimize you, standing up for yourself and treating people as you want to be treated. I tried my best to listen and give him sound advice, but it is always hardest to coach someone when you are only getting one side of the story, and you happen to be the mother of that side. In short, I was ready to get him home and under my Mother Hen wing for a little rebooting and recharging and a lot of love and snuggles.

We had tried Karate for confidence, personal awareness and responsibility. While he seemed to enjoy Karate when he was there, he didn't really seem passionate about it. Half the time, he didn't even want to go. In all honesty, neither Brock or I have any connection to Karate, so we were ill-equipped to stir that fire. But there was something that I am passionate about that builds and develops all of those qualities: HORSES HORSES HORSES!

The arrival of Thing 1's pony, Clyde, brought the horse interest to the forefront of his mind. He seems to share my passion and the joy on his face when he is with that pony is unmatched. Every day, Thing 1 slips into his cowboy boots and heads out to the barn, where he halters both ponies and leads them out to the pen for the day. He has overcome many pony handling challenges (i.e. they are as stubborn and strong as donkeys) by implementing Posture, Position and Energy. His eager attitude, persistence and patience have made him successful. He is listening as I teach him proper horse handling and care, and even repeats things I have said about it to his little brother. He grooms Clyde, saddles him and mounts without assistance. And he LOVES to ride. The first time he cantered that pony, his smile was a big and bright as a full moon. It has been amazing to witness. His light is shining bright again. This mama's heart is full.

Thing 2 is having a wonderful summer as well. I've watched Thing 2 gain focus, determination and listening skills as he and his 27 year old pony, Duke, develop a wonderful partnership. Of course, he insists on keeping up with his big brother, which includes cleaning stalls, carrying his own pony saddle and a lot of very bumpy, fast trotting. So much trotting. So bumpy.

When the kids and I aren't in the barn or on the trail, we can be found doing one of the following: bike riding, playing baseball, making art, fishing, hiking with the dogs, gardening or reading through the Little House on the Prairie series in the almost completed Zen Den. Hot damn. Life is good.

Right now (aside from the screaming of Thing 2 from the backyard- I'm sure he'll be fine) I don't want summer to end. We are living in love and relishing the warm summer days. This is how life was meant to be lived and I intend to take full advantage of it.

Remind me of this post on August 22nd, when I have heard "I'm bored" 1,000 times, need to work again and am overly ready for the kids to go back to school.

Peace, Love and Summer Break,

Saturday, June 14, 2014

I found out what the Fox says.

Yesterday afternoon, Brock, the kids, and I drove up the mountains to head to our friend's cabins in Glen Haven. Mountains, fresh air, sunshine... it seemed like the right thing to do after I had experienced approximately four solid weeks of debilitating insomnia. In fact, I had been up since 3:30 a.m. that morning and was feeling about as sweet and cuddly as a rabid porcupine. As I loaded the cooler with the makings for ham sandwiches, I tried to focus on making it a nice evening and I thought to myself, I should grab my good camera. I love taking pictures in the mou... the Things disrupted my thoughts as they ran, screaming and hollering, through the room.

I yelled after them, "HEY! Go to the bathroom NOW because there is no water at the cabins, therefore no toilets!"

I got a, "I DON'T HAVE TO GO!" and a, "ME NEITHER!"

So I stuffed potato chips into a sack, grabbed everyone a sweatshirt in preparation for the cool Colorado night, and walked out the door... without my camera.

We intended to simply open up and clean two of the cabins, but we were in for a little something more memorable. We pulled the truck down the familiar dirt lane and crossed the bridge. There, at the Y-intersection on the left, was a beautiful red fox. She was sitting. Watching. She was calm, cool, and totally in control. After a minute, she stood up and slowly trotted up the lane we had just driven down.

As a family of animal lovers, we were all excited at this sighting. Somehow the moment seemed special, almost as if it were carved out for us to experience together, as a family. My mood started to lift.

We drove up the hill to the cabin, parked and headed into a cabin. Before we could even get into the swing of cleaning, Thing 1 proclaimed, "I have to go to the bathroom!"

I said, "We're in nature. Go pee on a tree!"

He replied, "No. I have GO."

Of course. Mr. Hankey was urgently knocking at his backdoor.

I looked up from the window sill I was scrubbing and said, "Well, you'll need to find a private spot, dig a pit, do your business, and then cover your deposit."

He blankly stared at me.

 Brock said, "Come on. I'll show you what to do."

He grabbed some toilet paper, a portable potty seat, and started on a expedition to find the perfect deuce dropping station. At this point, Thing 2 was also tagging along out of curiosity, so it was like a tiny poo parade.

The screen door had just slammed shut when I heard, "Well, look at that! There's another fox by the campfire ring!"

I quickly, but quietly ran outside. I didn't want to scare her!

I spotted her, a fluffy fox trotting up the mountain. I couldn't tell if it was the same one we had seen earlier or not. Then I saw a quick movement out of the corner of my eye. It was a kit! Then another one! And three more! They were yipping adorably and wrestling and playing chase at high speed! Mama positioned herself between my family and hers. In a way that only mothers can do, she calmly but firmly kept an eye on her kits and the blond human crew watching them. There was no scaring this fox. She was a mother of five. She'd already lived through more terror than most.

We all stood there staring with dumb smiles plastered on our faces. See my sleep-deprived one below. Dummy dumb dumb dumb. Apparently one eye gets squinty when I'm tired.


Ten or more minutes passed and I noticed Thing 1 making some awkward shapes with his body.

"Oh buddy! You really need to go, don't you?" I asked.

He nodded and Brock started to lead the poo crew once more. Then he said, "LOOK! A black fox!"

Sure enough, there was a sixth member of the litter and it was solid black! For a moment, I wondered if Smelly Cat stowed away in my truck and joined his tribe.

Smelly Cat: part black fox, part Ninja, part Pepe LePew, and part Toothless the Dragon.

Once more, we stood and stared like a group of gawking tourists. It was incredible! They were so beautiful... and hyper! And all I could say was, "Thank goodness Thing 1 had to go!" and, "WHY DIDN'T I BRING MY CAMERA???" and, "OMG, I actually know what the FOX SAYS!"

At least I had my camera on my cell phone. 

And for your information, the fox does say, "YIP YIP YIP YIPYIPYIP YIP."

Peace, Love and Fox Kits,