Sweet 16

February 18, 2011

Today is Tank’s 16th birthday, though as a registered Quarter Horse, he “officially” turned 16 on Jan. 1. Tank and Frenchy, another horse at our barn, share a birthday and we always have a special celebration for them and the horses of our friends. The birthday party will take place next week, but here are some photos from past years:




Glory--notice the stylish tiara

It may seem ridiculous to throw a birthday party for horses—and in the scheme of “serious life,” it is. They don’t know or care what a birthday is—but, hey, someone is handing out molasses cake and carrots, how can I get some? They’re very focused that way.

We obviously don’t celebrate the horses’ birthdays for the horses. We do it because we look for excuses to celebrate, to share food (because there is yummy food for humans at these parties, too) and laughter. It’s one of my favorite simple pleasures.

How did you celebrate today?

Happy birthday, Tank!

Everyday adventures

Hidden Hearts

February 14, 2011

A few months ago, inspired by The Enchanted Earth blog, I had the bright idea to take pictures of heart shapes I found as I went through my daily life, blog about it and call it “Hidden Hearts.” Since then, how many heart photos did I take? Exactly zero. It seems I didn’t see heart shapes around me. Maybe my vision was faulty--I am terrible at those puzzles where you’re supposed to find the pictures within the picture, and not once have I ever seen the image embedded in one of those optical illusion posters. 

Still, I wasn’t quite ready to give up. Remembering this post, I decided to give it one last shot. I took my camera out into our yard. If I found some hearts, great. If not, I’d give up the idea and move on.

As I stepped out the back door, I realized there’s a heart shape hidden in our outdoor table and chair set.

That was OK, but what I really wanted was to find hearts in the natural world. And then I saw this one:

And this one:

And this one:

And this one:

(I also discovered a face in our grill controls:

...but that’s beside the point.)

Now that I was completely focused on them, it took me only a few minutes to find all of these. Well. Is there a take-away lesson? If you know me, of course there is: You find what you look for. Looking for good in others? You’ll find it. Expecting your feelings to be hurt? They will be.

Looking for love? It’s all around you.

Happy Valentine’s Day—may your life be filled with love.

Bonus heart:

Everyday adventures

How to Take a Teenage Boy Shopping for Clothes

February 11, 2011

There comes a time in the life of every teenage boy’s mother when she comes to the following realization: my child looks like a ragamuffin/street urchin/orphan and I need to take him shopping for clothes. This realization will send dread deep into her heart, as she realizes she will have to 1) find a time when both mother and son are available for shopping, 2) find a store that stocks affordable clothing for the impossibly tall and thin young man her son has become and 3) convince said young man that shopping for clothes is a necessary and required activity.

If you find yourself in this position, here are seven tips to help you survive your next shopping trip with your teenage son (these tips can also be applied to husbands):

Choose a time when nothing more interesting is going on. This will be nearly impossible since clothes shopping ranks with household chores in level of interest. You may have to ground him just so you can pull him away from his friends/the Xbox/Runescape.

Promise him lunch at his favorite restaurant. You’re just going to have to put up with the fact that his favorite restaurant is one you hate. You will either have to eat beforehand or find someplace acceptable nearby where you can buy take out.

Let him drive.

Once at the store, don’t express an opinion about the clothes on the racks until he does. Be noncommittal: “Here’s a blue shirt. What do you think?” Heaven forbid he try on something his mother says she likes. Even after he’s chosen something, be judicious with your praise. If you like it too much, suddenly he won’t. (The reverse is also true: if you hate it, don’t express that opinion, either, unless you want it to become the one thing he absolutely cannot live without.)

Fortify yourself with Starbucks (or other favorite treat).

Don’t try to shop for yourself, too. Never mind that you see an adorable top just your size…

Confine your trip to one or two stores to avoid shopping overload for both of you.

Clothes shopping with a teenage boy is not for the faint of heart, but it can be done successfully. And remember, it could be worse. He could be a girl.

What was your everyday adventure today?


Three Little Words

February 07, 2011

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m learning natural horsemanship techniques so that I can be a better leader to my horse and have a closer bond with him. While watching one of the Parelli Level 1 DVDs recently, something one of the instructors said resonated with me. She posed the question, when someone asks you if you can do something you’ve never done before, especially something hard or scary, what should you say? Her answer:

“I don’t know.”

Not “I can’t.”

Because, really, you don’t yet know if you can do it or not, because you haven’t tried. You don’t know what is possible.

Some other alternatives she came up with included: I haven’t up until now. I haven’t done that yet. In the past, I haven’t tried that.

These phrases leave the door open, instead of slamming it shut with an “I can’t.” I’ve found “I don't know” very helpful when I’m offered the chance to do something that scares me. I don’t always rise to the challenge—but sometimes I do.

What are some things you say to yourself when faced with a challenge?

What's to be scared of?


Unscrew the Cap

February 04, 2011

“Before we are able to receive a gift, from a friend or from nature, we have to be open to it; a bottle with its cap screwed on tightly cannot be filled with water no matter how much water we try to pour into it or how often we try—the water simply runs down its sides, never filling it. It is only when we feel worthy of happiness that we open ourselves up to life’s ultimate treasure.” Even Happier, by Tal Ben-Shahar, Ph.D