The Day Before the First Day of School

Tomorrow is the day before the first day of school. Daughter has a morning of orientation and registration. Son has an afternoon meet and greet with his teacher, and a haircut and a fitting for glasses. I cannot believe that summer is over.

Where did the summer go? I had plans for weekend trips and camping with the kids; quiet excursions to coffee shops to read and to work on the stable. I did none of this.

For daughter, much of her summer was spent riding and not doing much of anything else. Riding did not fill her day, nor did she ride everyday. The rest of her day was spent drawing, listening to music and computer games with her friends. As for the riding, she would work harder and ride daily as time got close to competitions. She competed in several events this year, from The Eventing X Games at Goose Downs, the Coconino Horse Trials and the USPC Championships Central Region. She placed individually and as member of a team in some but not all of the competitions.

She was part of the Southwest Pony Club team and they managed several first place finishes last week at the USPC Championships (photo above) Riding will continue with the start of school and so we shall see how things go for the rest of the year.

But school comes first and in the case of daughter, she will be starting 9th grade. My teenager is starting high school.

For son, he spent much of the summer in several week day camps. They included art camp, two weeks of hiking and nature camp and two weeks of a computer game programming camp. The summer art camps were not as good as the school year Wednesday art camps, and we still had problems with him being challenged at the schools and being bullied. Still, he had a good summer, with four of his pieces getting into the end of year art show at Fuller Lodge (photo lower left). Unfortunately, he spent too much time on the computer playing games, but let’s hope that 6th grade will temper his game playing as school becomes more challenging for him.

I think if you ask him, his best day of the summer was when I took him to Dave and Busters for the afternoon (photo upper right). I had fun as well.

Summer is almost over. No trips, concerts, or even weekend getaways for me. I find myself still in my funk and think I need to just get away from work for awhile. Or perhaps a major change.

Weekend with the kids – part 2

Sunday starts early. I’m up before sunrise, doing some reading. Daughter is sleeping in but we must get going if she wants to feed the horse and get to Goose Downs by nine. Sadly, she is the slowpoke of the family and doesn’t have us heading out the door after eight to go feed Ruby.

Ruby is happy to see us. In her fly mask and sheet, she greats us like she does every morning. Leaning over the fence, a couple of hello whinnies, and then the expectation of a treat. Hay, grains, beet pulp and supplements; and she is fed and we are on our way. No ride for Ruby today. The 60+ minute drive to Goose Downs is in front of us.

I have brought the dog along for the car ride. Drop off daughter and finally get play date time and location scheduled for son. There I am, driving back. Passing through the McDonalds drive through in Santa Fe, I order a large coffee and a sausage with egg. Long line at the drive through, but as I get my order, the two people at the window are talking that the order in front of me left too quickly and were short on their order. I comment how I never leave without checking. I check and it looks good, at least the wrappers. However, I need to check deeper in the future. My sausage is not sausage, rather it is Canadian bacon. My coffee, which is black with two sugars, is coffee with cream and no sugar.

Back in Los Alamos I get son and get ready for his play date. His friend arrives after lunch and they proceed to play Minecraft for two hours. I try to nap as I am still tired and recovering from travel. And just like that, they are done and scheming for next weekend. I drop his friend off, taken son to his mothers and then back out on the road to pick up daughter.

I have divided the trip to Goose Downs has been into three 26 minute increments. Each increment becomes a race inside my head as I try to beat the time of 26 minutes. The first is Los Alamos to Pojoaque, one of the many reservations (and casinos) that exist in the state. The road is two lanes in each direction, the scenery is that of mesa’s and mountains, although they lack the vivid colors from a Georgia O’Keefe painting. The second segment is Pojoaque to the I25 interchange south of Santa Fe. This actually takes you through Santa Fe. Once upon a time, one could drive through Santa Fe at 38 miles per hour and never hit a red light. That changed with the New Mexico Rail Runner, which crosses at the intersection of St Francis and Cerrillos. The panhandlers are on these corners, with their signs stating their plight. It’s summer so there are many of them, although it isn’t as bad as the cities in California, Oregon and Washington state.

After the I25 intersection, you head north for the third segment, to Goose Downs. Staying on I25 for awhile, you then turn south on 285, passing Eldorado. Goose Downs is south of Lamy, just before Galisteo.

The scenery is like much of New Mexico. All in all, the trip is just over an hour one way, and probably could be described as the southern route like the scenery in the great book “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance”.

Before you know it, I have daughter and we are heading home. The race over the three sections plays itself out in reverse. Try talking during a car ride to a teenager who has her ear pods in and the music cranked up. Lastly, horse is fed, sone is retrieved and tonight we are having pizza. After 12 hours in the car driving back and forth, my ass is sore, the evening is soon upon us and tomorrow is another work day. The things we do for our kids.

Pony Club

If you spend time with horses, you eventually get introduced to the United States Pony Club. They aim to teach young and old riders the proper rules for taking care of a horse, as well as riding and eventing.

In preparation for my daughter’s next event, she has a mounted pony club meeting today. The have regional and location-specific clubs throughout the country. My daughter rides as a member of the Santa Fe Pony Club, which is one of the clubs in the Southwest Region.

So I dutifully took her to the place where they ride, which is south of Santa Fe. Santa Fe has several places in the area that offer riding and host events, including polo. Just past Lamy, on the way to Galisteo is Goose Downs Farm. This is the place where my daughter rides and trains often.

They offer training for dressage, show jumping and cross country for all ages. Indoor and outdoor. As you know, the weather in New Mexico is nice for most of the year. Today was sunny and low 70’s. I just love the blue sky. You can rent a horse or bring your own. Today my daughter road Wyatt, which is not her horse. We will transport Ruby down later in the week. I like to tell Ruby that she is going to the spa for the week.

Sadly, she was ill prepared for the mounted lesson today because she forgot her equipment, but practiced the dressage course for her ranking in preparation for next week.

Goose Downs has a riding event coming up next weekend (http://www.goosedownsfarm.com). You can board your horse there for a fee, and they even have a bunkhouse where you can stay if your coming from afar.

So while she practiced today, I helped groom the place in preparation for the dressage events this weekend. Thus I managed to get several miles in while pushing the mower.

Summer Break

This week starts the summer break for the kids, about three months off from school. For daughter, the time will be spent riding. What hasn’t been worked out yet is whether she spends the weeks here at the stables riding her horse, or splitting the week riding here and several days at the stables south of Santa Fe, where she gets her training. The great thing about the latter is that she gets to work with many different horses.

There are other advantages for splitting the week. She gets some professional training with people watching and coaching. This is something that she doesn’t get riding at the stables closer to home.

For son, his summer will be spent at several camps. The majority of the summer weeks will be spent at art classes. Interspersed between the art camps are camps for hiking and outdoors, and a two week robotics class. The hiking explores the landscape around where we live and the forces that shaped the local mountains, getting wet and dirty. The second week explores the creatures that live in the dirt, the water and the mountains.

Then there is robotics. There they will learn how to build, program and control basic robots. We thought this would be great since he likes computer games. Reading up on the subject, it looks like they use LEGO

kits. Hopefully this will allow him to learn basics, to be creative, and to have fun.

Anyway, this summer should be fun, busy and keep them outside.