Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Dreaming About Horses

I got to go to SEP conferences at school today - what used to be called "parent teacher conferences" - now they're Student Educator Parent conferences. (I don't think the student used to be involved.) I got good reports from all my kid's teachers, which was very nice.

Jaxon has an extremely high words per minute reading score. He's also doing well in his other subjects and has been teaching his teacher about Greek and Roman mythology. Whenever she doesn't know how to pronounce a name or something, he's right there to help her out. (And she's a real good sport about it.)

Luke's first grade teacher has 25 years experience and is the perfect teacher for him. She understands that little 6 year olds sometimes need a hug. She makes learning fun and she made a big fuss over him and how smart he is. I wish I'd had my camera to record the trying-to-be-grownup/slightly embarrassed/very pleased look on his face as his teacher was telling me how well he's doing and what a good student he is. I just wanted to freeze him in that moment forever. (I've actually been wanting to freeze him for years.)

Brynn has been struggling a little in 4th grade. She's such a smarty pants and is a fantastic reader and speller, but she hates HATES math, even though she's really not that bad at it. I'm afraid she got that from me. She really has a hard time keeping her mind on math. When her teacher sees her daydreaming, she tells her she must be thinking about her boyfriend. Well the truth came out in SEP conference today. She said, "I'm not thinking about my boyfriend, I'm thinking about horses!"

She's got it bad for horses. She also gets that from me.

And her eyes - I never liked them on myself, but I really love them on her. Although I'm not sure my eyelashes were ever quite this good.

Maybe if math were only taught in horse related story problems we'd be okay. **Sigh**

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Ranch House

A few weeks ago, I blogged about our wood gettin' trip to our friend's ranch called Sink Valley. Marty has worked for this family since he was a kid - hauling hay, fixing fence, running the saw mill, welding equipment and helping with the cows and horses.

One of the things that makes this ranch special is the ranch house. Back in the olden days, (I'm not sure exactly when that was, but a really long time ago) the family ordered this house out of a catalog - it was either Sears or Montgomery Ward. The house was shipped - in pieces - by train from back east somewhere until it got to Utah where it got on a wagon and came to the ranch. It was then assembled like a jigsaw puzzle.

I've just always thought there was something really cool about this house and it's story. I've always wanted to take pictures of it. I love the little details - it's got metal shingles and pressed tin interior walls.

Isn't this roof beautiful?

And then there's the living room ceiling:

And this is one of the bedrooms:

Here is the pantry/storage room with some cool old bottles on the shelves:

As you walk through the front door into the tiny kitchen, the first thing you see is the old Arcadian wood burning stove. When Marty was a kid, his friend Darlynn's mother, Coleen, made all the meals for the ranch hands on this stove. From all accounts, she was a great cook and managed to put out some pretty excellent cuisine. How many women do you know today that could still produce a great meal for a crew of hungry cowboys on a stove like this?!

I totally love it, what a great old character. (And notice the pretty patterns on the wall behind it. There are several different patterns throughout the house.)

And speaking of character, hows about this old relic ~

I can just about guarantee it's boiled up thousands of pots of water and never, EVER been washed. I don't think it needs it, do you? Washing would totally ruin it.

Here's a view from the outside of the house. The brown section on the end is the bathroom which was added on much later. Yes, that's right, this house came along before indoor plumbing. I told you it was the olden days.

It still feels like the olden days anytime you step into the Sink Valley Ranch House. No electricity, no running water, no telephone. That's what I love about it. And this old International pickup is still a daily driver from town up to the ranch. Darlynn has a whole fleet of antique International trucks that still do their part to help him keep the ranch running.

And an old International tractor, as well.

I feel like we're lucky to get to go the ranch and enjoy things like this that a lot of people will never get to see. I hope it never changes.

Phoenix the Supermodel

During my photo lessons with Molly, we're always on the lookout for photo subjects and since my Hanoverian/Thoroughbred colt, Phoenix, is so in-your-face handy, he has been our model on more than one occasion.

I took this one with Molly's camera and telephoto lens. She was teaching me about rim light - see that pretty light shining through his ear hairs? And around the edges of his face and that loverly strip along his back. Awwww.....

Molly took this one of him in silhouette. He was whinnying and it was cool how his mane was blowing up. Neat, huh.

This one was me again and we were going for some light in his eyes. I also like how he's got veins sticking out all over the place. What a fancy horse.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Fuzzy Head Boy

We've decided that our haircut of choice for Luke is a shave-it-clear-off kinda thing. It works best for him because he truly HATES to have his hair combed and when it grows, it stands straight out from his head. Luckily, he looks cute with his hair shaved off.

Just for the heckuvit, I gave him a temporary mohawk when I cut his hair the other day. It was fun for about 3 minutes - long enough for me to get the camera and take a picture - and then off it came.

(We only get silly camera faces out of Lukie these days)

But here's the funny part. We call him "Fuzz" or "Fuzzy" and fortunately, he likes it. Brynn especially likes to refer to him in a fuzzy kind of way.

Tonight, when they were going to bed, Brynn asked Luke to move out of her way. When he did, she said, "Thanks, Fuzzy Headed Boy" and without missing a beat, he said, "You're welcome, Beautiful Girl".

Awwwwww. So nice. Nothing makes me happier than my kids getting along and being sweet to each other.

(PS. I just figured out how to put bigger pictures on my blog - guess you already realized...)

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Another Baby Boy (and the quote of the day)

I had a quickie session the other day with my photo buddy Nanette and her new little nephew, Cash. He was only a few days old and such a cutie patootie! I loved his spikey dark hair and great big eyes, a totally handsome little man:

...and a really good baby - unless, you undressed him and tried to make him curl up on an old, hard saddle. For some reason, he didn't think that was very much fun. (We did try to put a heating pad on it, but no dice.)

Cute idea though, huh. This was about as close as we got. Brings to mind that great quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson,

"Infancy conforms to nobody; all conform to it."

That's one of my all time favorite quotes and I think of it whenever I'm in the middle of a newborn shoot and the baby just isn't going with the plan. It's no use getting frustrated, you just have to let the baby rule the session. Or just wait them out.

But we did get a few in our first few minutes before we managed to thoroughly tick him off. So alert for being only a few days old!

And I snuck one of Mama even though she really didn't want her picture taken. She was just too pretty not to get at least one of her. (Photo taken soon after failed saddle attempt. Can you tell? That's a very angry boy there.)

Oh well, these are pretty sweet even without the saddle.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Little Man Kurt

This handsome little guy is 3 weeks old.

He is the son of my son's 6th grade teacher. I also took pictures of his big sister Ellie when she was 2 weeks old. This is what she looks like now:

In the hour or so we were together today, she kissed him about 15 times.

He actually has 4 older sisters, and they all love him, so he'd better get used to lots of kisses from girls.

See what I mean?
It's so fun for me to get to spend an hour here and there with new babies who are so sweet and fresh from Heaven.

Someone accused me the other day of having a foot fetish. At first I denied it, and then I realized, yes, when it comes to these little guys, I do have a foot fetish. This one is cute because he was grabbing one foot with the toes of the other. I always forget how wiggly new babies are!

Welcome to the world, Kurt, you're a lucky little guy to be born to a family who loves you so much.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Miss Marlee

I took these 2 months ago and am just now getting them up on the blog. For no good reason, it just seems like sometimes I can't seem to get my act together.

This cute little gal is the first child of a lovely young couple who both grew up in our little community. Her name is a combination of both their names, which I love!

I have to amend my previous statement about Marlee being their first child - years before this baby came along, there was Miss Izzie...

she was the baby for a long time, but by all accounts is being a good sport about the new addition to the family.

Dad didn't want to be in the pictures at all, but we talked him into at least being a hand model.

When I took these, Marlee was already several weeks old, but her Mama didn't look like she'd ever had a baby. It's not fair.

These were my favorite:

The light was a little iffy, so I took a couple with bounce flash:

Natural light:

What a cute kid, she did so well. Thanks guys for letting me come take her pictures. Congratulation - - a little late.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

What color is the Sky in your world?

This is the color of the Sky in my backyard.

In't she cuuuute?!

This is Miss Sky.

She's one. She's not mine, at least she's not actually mine, but her fuzzy little spotted butt is MINE for a few weeks. Let's just call it "Ann boot camp for heathen baby horses."

She's much less of a heathen than she was 2 weeks ago. Actually, she's one of the smartest horses I've ever met and I'm havin' lots of fun with her. Probably more fun than she's having with me.

But when your Mama is still nursing you at 18 months old, it's all down hill from there.

Poor kid.

She's super brave - which is sort of the good news and the bad news. She's so brave that I saddled her the other day and it was a total non event - which is great...

...the bad news is, she's so brave that she thinks she ought to be able to be able to be the boss of anyone and everyone she meets - and in horse world "being the boss of" translates to "kicking, biting and charging over the top of."

But all that is coming to an end. She's transforming into a horse who's every bit as sweet as she looks like she ought to be. And I'm sure she's much happier with structure and boundries in her life.

Right? Right.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Quote of the Day - by Pat Parelli

People keep asking me about my blog address and what it means. It's named after a man named Pat Parelli who is my horse training mentor. He is the founder of a horse/human training program called Parelli Natural Horsemanship - it's about learning to think, feel, act and play more like a horse. It's been a huge blessing in my life in so many ways.

And one of my other favorite things is great quotes. I love profound quotes by famous people, I collect them. One of my all time favorites is by Abraham Lincoln: "Whatever you are, be a good one." Which goes along with something my grandpa and hero, Howard Church used to always say: "Any job worth doing is worth doing well.

Anyway, Pat is full of great quotes and I've decided I'm going to post them periodically. So here's the quote of the day:

"What other people think of me is none of my business." - Pat Parelli

And here 's the man himself:

... taken at an open house at his facility in Pagosa Springs, CO which I attended with some of my good horse friends a few weeks ago.

It's Official, I'm a Domestic Goddess!

A couple of weeks ago, I threatened to make applesauce with the abundance of apples on our little tree. But I wasn't really serious, I never thought I'd actually do it. But when my friend, Jenna read about it on my blog, she told me that she was also interested in learning to do applesauce and her neighbor, our mutual friend Judy, had already offered to teach her.

In fact, Judy was all over it and set the date and FORCED Jenna and me to make applesauce today. For FIVE HOURS!

And this is how it went:

  • we picked..... (aren't they purty!)

  • we steamed....

  • we squooshed.........

  • and it was PINK! A delightful shade of "blush and bashful" (name that movie).
The color of pink grapefruit, actually, because the apples were red and we cooked them in their skins. Love it.

And then we put it in bottles - jars, whatever. I had a whole motley assortment of large and small and wide and narrow jars that had once contained some kind of homemade goodness that someone else had made and given to me. Just goes to show that you should never, EVER throw anything away.

So here is the final product. TADA!:

And the best part it - it's GOOD! It's tangy and sweet and zippy and oh, so much more yummy than the store bought stuff. I never knew what I was missing. And my pickiest kid likes, it. And Jenna's picky little guy likes it too!

We both ended up with 15 + bottles of the stuff. Jenna and I did do our share of the work, but we contributed absolutely none of the expertise. Nevertheless, we are inordinately proud of our pretty little bottles. We feel accomplished and excited, but most of all we feel empowered - we think that maybe we could even do this ourselves from now on.

And Judy, bless her lovely heart, gave Jenna and me a bunch of her extra canning equipment. It's kind of funny because between the two of us, we now have one whole set of canning supplies. We figure that means we'll just always have to bottle together. Which is okay, because one of the many things I learned today is that canning with friends is what make it fun.

So thanks, Jude, you're a great teacher and an even better friend. Next week.... apple pie filling!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Windowsill Over My Kitchen Sink


Sunday, September 13, 2009

She's beautiful, but we don't tell her.

Everywhere we go, people tell Brynn she's cute or pretty or beautiful. They're just being nice and we appreciate that, (and in fact, I always tell other people's children the same things), but we kind of wish people would quit telling her. We're afraid of her getting a big head. or perhaps putting too much importance on outward physical beauty.

We never tell her those things ourselves. And when I say that to my friends, they usually are somewhat alarmed by it - they don't agree.

It's not that we don't give her compliments. We tell her that she looks nice, or that she did a good job picking out her outfit or combing her hair. We especially compliment her when she's been kind to someone or has gotten her homework done or cleaned her room without being asked. We try to acknowledge her accomplishments and her goodness. But we definitely don't make a big fuss about how beautiful she is.

Our mantra is "It's better to be good than pretty".

Are we wrong?

The other day, one of her friends said something interesting to her. She said, "I'm prettier than you, " and Brynn came to me and was really bothered by that. I told her I was sorry that her friend hurt her feelings, but that not only was it not true, but that it wasn't important who is prettier.

I hope I'm getting my message across in the right way. I hope she understands the spirit of what I'm trying to teach her.

But she is beautiful, there's no doubt about that.

I'm sure thankful to have her for my daughter, she is a light in our lives. This parenting gig is tough.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Happy Anniversary Mom and Dad

I was sitting in a marriage workshop at the Women's Forum today and realized that today is my parent's

40th wedding anniversary

Wow, that really snuck up on me and I feel totally guilty for not doing something great and milestone worthy to celebrate it. And since I'm 4 hours away and too late with a card or gift, I'm going to blog about them. It's the best I can do, I guess, at the last minute. (Followed by a phone call as soon as I get this post up - sorry Mom and Dad!)

My parents have one of the best marriages I know. I think they've had some not-so-great moments and rough patches over the years, (who hasn't!) but these days they've really got this whole marriage thing down pat.

My Dad has had both of his legs amputated due to diabetes and is on dialysis 3 days a week and has a host of other serious health problems. Mom is his primary caregiver and takes better care of him by herself - at 66 years old, no less - than a hospital staff has ever been able to do. And she's happy to do it. And Dad doesn't go very many minutes of his day without telling her and/or anyone within earshot how wonderful she is and how much he loves her. In fact, he's always done that. I don't know of another husband who's so good at telling everyone he comes in contact with that his wife is the best woman in the world.

When we were kids, he would come through the door at night and yell, "Where's your beautiful mother?". Everyday. I always knew that I wanted a husband who loved me as much as my dad loved my mom, he was a great example in that way for my sisters and me.

And Mom really is the best wife in the world - in the top five, at the very least. If I told you all the reasons why, you would totally agree with me, but there just isn't enough time left in the day to do that. Suffice it to say that she is unfailingly kind and selfless and loves Dad unconditionally. She sees only the good in him, which is something that if every wife (and husband) did, the divorce rate would drop to like .001%.

When they were dating, they both received a strong spiritual witness that they should get married and it's helped keep them strong over the years.

Here they are as a young married couple - I love this picture.

And when my sister and I were little. That's me on Mom's lap. (I never noticed before, but Mom and I must have had the same barber.)

This one was taken a couple of years ago and I put it in a scrapbook album I made for them for Christmas that year.

And these were taken last year at our little family reunion. Dad had just had an eye surgery. I could have taken the bruises out in Photoshop, but I decided that it was better to remember them as part of his life.

With all their grandkids - July '08

So happy 40th Anniversary Mom and Dad - YOU MADE IT!

Thanks for everything you've done for me and for setting such a good example of how to keep working at a marriage and how sweet it can be. I love you!

(Oh, and that reminds me, my 40th birthday is 9 months and 3 days from now.)

(Do the math.)