March 31, 2009

Beautiful Horses: I-JIN

I am not your typical 'morning' person....I would prefer to be woke up, on most days, by the sun shining through my window, warming my covers...causing the temperature to rise until I either succumbed to heat stroke of finally got my lazy booty up outa my bed! On mornings like this, though, I wouldn't trade all the extra rest on earth for the sight of morning dew, happy horses, and sun rays beaming though the trees! On mornings like this, I am definitely a morning person!

This purty little lady is our long time boarder, I-Jin....I-Jin is a paint mare, and also has the distinction of being our longest term resident here at Westwood...She got the first stall that opened here in our barn over a year ago, which makes her pretty special to us...She is also sweet and talented, which makes her special to her owners...being a mare, she can have her nutty moments, but I would be a hypocrite not to admit I've been there myself! These dadgum HORMONES! Such a cruel and unbearable burden for us girls....we manage though....we have an understanding, us girls.....we're here for each other.....mare-power!
Hoping your mornings are just as enjoyable as these....
Happy Trails!

March 30, 2009

Bullying at Daycare?

What would you do if you witnessed 3 and 4 year olds bully your 3/4 year old? What if one of the bullying children's parents was in the room? What if that parent was the teacher?

What would you do if your toddler came home and told you the other kids 'did not like the bow in her hair'?

What would you do if you were talking to your toddler about her day at school, and the friends she made, and she states that one of the girls (not the ones mentioned above) told her she did not like her, and your toddler could not tell you why?

My Little Brat started attending a new learning center 2 weeks ago....she has been attending a center near where we work since she was 8 months old...about 3 years total! She made a lot of great friends, male and female....dropping her off was always a treat....her friends would run up and give hugs, yelling "RANDI!"....all the kids seemed so accepting and caring and well supervised, although at times, chaotic....the teachers seemed to be in the middle of everything tho, and were pretty strict about complete acceptance of EVERYONE...there was one boy in particular that comes to mind that was not as well developed as his peers, and on the aggressive side, and the teachers did all they could to be sure he fit in with his peers...whether it was adjustments to his behavior, or to the other children's attitudes....

We made the decision to move her to a center closer to home with heavy hearts...we knew it was necessary though, because she needed to be at a center that could transport her to kindergarten....we were also hoping she would make friends with some of the same kids she would be going to school with....I toured the school and it really seemed top of the was a new center, with a 'school' type approach to daycare...the kids all have home-rooms, and then travel to various classes throughout the day...they have an inside gym, an outside gym, and even a pool where they all get summer swim lessons! The only drawback, it seemed, was that we have to pack her lunch each day, and she has to wear a uniform shirt....both of which she is COMPLETELY ecstatic about! LOL

Day 1 concerned me though....When I went to drop her off, neither teacher in the room made any effort to introduce her to the other children...they were already broken off into their groups, playing, and none of them even acknowledged her....awkward! So, like any good parent wanting to ease their child's discomfort, I took the initiative to walk LB around and introduce her to the other children as the teachers talked btwn themselves....not a good start, but I tried to let it go....

A couple days later, I am tying a pink bow in Randi's hair for school....Normally, this is something she likes very much.....but now she was concerned....she confesses the other girls teased her about her heart all her time at her old daycare, she NEVER told me about any teasing going on, and I certainly never witnessed any.....

A few days after that, I drop her off, and again, all the kids have broken off into play groups....there were 3 girls dancing to music, and Randi wanted to join she approached the dance area 2 of the girls scowled at her and said "you can't dance with us!"....GASP! My heart sank to the bottom of the ocean! How COULD they??!!! So I glance over at the teacher (also the mother of one of the two girls), and she is I encourage Randi to go ahead and dance "the dance floor is big enough for everyone"....but she was obviously unwelcome, and just sort of stood at the edge of the area wiggling her sad little was heart wrenching....finally, the teacher looked over and saw Randi on the outskirts and told her to go dance with the other girls....I left at that point, as I couldn't bare to see any more rejection that day....

A few days after that I am talking to the LB about her friends at school, and asking her their names and what they like to play....she goes on to tell me all about ANOTHER girl that "doesn't like me", but can't tel me why?!?!?!

MY conclusion, based on what I have seen and heard to date, is that there must be very little supervision of the children at this learning the last 3 years I witnessed many children corrected for bad attitudes or bad behavior, which created a warm an accepting environment for all the kids....the teachers were hands on and very interactive...I believe that is what this new center may be lacking....I have not witnessed, in the 2 weeks that I have been dropping her off and picking her up, any 'hands-on' interaction with the children....close supervision that would nip this bullying and bad attitudes in the bud....they are TOO YOUNG to be allowed to be so divisive.....

The center does have parent/teacher conferences coming up....I do intend on bringing up these concerns at that time....I am just wondering if anyone else has had similar issues??? I can understand that there is an adjustment time for everyone to make friends, but all this negativity? I don't see where that is acceptable at all....thoughts????

Happy Trails,

UPDATE: On good advice, I went ahead and spoke to the "Principal" of Randi's new school....I am happy to say she was very comforting, supportive, and stated that she would talk to the teachers TODAY!

March 27, 2009

You might be driving the wrong car....

...if your groceries outweigh it!

I should have driven the truck today...Randi would have appreciated the leg room!

Happy Trails.....

March 22, 2009

Fancy Update: Almost 90 days Training!

Gma Kathy, Jesse the reiner, and I made a trip up to MD to see Fancy today! Traffic was a breeze and the weather was great! It's been almost 90 days since we brought her up to Bob Laportas for training. We arrived to find Julian riding another horse, so we made our way to the track to watch Bob, his assistant trainers (Wayne, Billy, Stephanie), and several of his clients working their horses and getting them prepared for a show this coming weekend...
When Julian finally came back with Fancy, I could not be more happy...she has come a long way since our last visit...Julian has her looking very nice...he warned her up a little at the jog...

Then loped several circles in both directions...she is moving forward so nicely...her lope transition is looking great!

He's doing a lot of suppling and backing and that seems to be suiting her well...

She had a great ride overall....I didn't notice any crankiness or silliness at all! She just came out, did her job, and is still sweet as ever....I love this horse :)

We tagged along with the crew for lunch after all the horses were put away...what a fun group! I look forward to many more visits, and getting to ride Fancy myself in the near future...stay tuned for more updates!

Here's some video of Fancy loping:

Here's some video of her getting started on turns too:

Happy Trails!

March 21, 2009

I just burned the popcorn....

...please tell me I am not alone in this culinary failure!

Fire alarm just went daughter is crying...husband is trying to fan it to make it stop....just knock it down already!

Doors open, ceiling fans on....I think we'll survive....

If you think this is bad, you should see what a mess I can make of a pot of boiling water....I am hopeless!

March 20, 2009

Living the Dream! Or Not?

Not much has really changed about me since those hair is still a stylists worst fashion sense is still dictated by my work environment....and I still eat with my mouth wide open...

Our high school FFA program was very active...thanks to our super motivated and dedicated ag teachers, we were educated on all things aggie, and were also afforded the opportunity to participate in a lot of really great leadership conferences and activities (did I mention most of those activities were excused absences from school? That's right! Just one of the many perks to FFA membership!)...

I actually gleamed a lot of great experiences as a result of being involved in FFA....and look at me now! All earthy and organic and (as a good friend describes it) "Little House on the Prairie'ing" it up! I guess I am living that dream that FFA promoted to us back in the day....a life promoting the awareness of the land, livestock, and natural resources around us...well, as much as a person can be in a teaming metropolis, working 40-50 hrs a week for 'the man', and holding down a home business....we do have a tractor and lots of cool implements...we do contribute more manure for our land and our community than anyone within a stones throw.....we do bale the hay off our land for local cattlemen...and we DID get our garden started! We are even getting set up for chickens! Come on now, that has to count for something....I am not even a chicken-lover....they are MEAN....and pecky, and stuff....but I want those 'farm fresh' eggs in my fridge....and my mom says she'll keep them in line....she'll have to, I am incapable of interacting with them....the last experience I had with chickens was way back in the day....I was playing hide and seek and opted for the chicken coop as my hideout....did you know chickens get fleas? Well, neither did I....and I think ours must have been bordering on infestation...within minutes those little boogers were crawling all over my skin, in my hair, and up my nose! By the time I realized what was happening, my skin was burning like the dickens! And those chickens....clucking at me, mocking me, blocking the nearest exit! It was horrible! I busted out of that chicken coop like a man on fire and ran straight to the house....I jumped into the bath-tub...complete with ice cold water (no time to wait for it to heat up!), and attempted to drown away the prickly bites of a million angry takes quite a bit longer than you would expect...turns out, those fleas had gills...I swear it!....and to this day, chickens make my skin crawl....and fleas....

Anyways, we are trying to do our part...

Happy Trails,

March 13, 2009

It's been a reaaaaaaaalllly looooonnnnng week!

So I am packing up and heading home for a quiet weekend of absolutely NOTHING....except some studying....and mucking....and feeding....and cooking (breakfast anyways)....and playing with the Little Brat....and her Daddy......and, well, I guess doing "NOTHING" was wishful least we aren't GOING anywhere! Lots of rain in the forecast, so stay dry out there!

Happy Trails,

PS. Monday is the Little Brats first day at her new daycare.....I feel a blog post about that coming on! hehe....stay tuned!

March 12, 2009

Happy Birthday Travis!

22 years ago this handsome kid became my brother! On Thursday, March 12th, to be exact! Yes, the day before Friday the 13th...and after all these years history is repeating itself to the day!

A few random things I love about my brother...

  • He's a lover, not a hater.
  • He appreciates the simple things in life.
  • He is musically gifted and can pick up just about any instrument and play it better in a day than most could in a month!
  • He's an awesome Uncle to my Little Brat.

Travis is a pretty special guy....sending him good vibes all the way in California on his Birthday!

Happy Birthday!

Leah, JR & the Little Brat

March 09, 2009

Got Time?

As far back as my memory can recall, I can remember my mother (Gma Kathy) being crafty...she used to hand make Christmas gifts for everyone every year she crafted picture frames from fabric and lace...another year it was tag along wooden toys you pulled on a string....and another year it was hand painted book ends....those were one of my all-time favorites! Each end was half of a barn scene...tiny little horses filled the barn as did miniature saddles, ribbons and riders too! As a matter of fact, after all these years and all these moves, I have managed to retain a set of these book ends! As I was typing this, I just remembered I still had this particular Gma Kathy masterpiece and ran upstairs to take a few you can see for yourself the kind of shoes I have yet to fill! Let's be honest, I will NEVER be this good! Please excuse my tangent, but these need to be seen! Keep in mind these bookends are over 20 years old now....boy, did I just admit that????

Seriously though, look at the detail here....the girl in gray riding western was my best friend Lindy riding her fancy little chestnut named Tiny (Tiny Little Pistol)...look at those adorable little ribbons!

Here are the horses in the barn fussing at each other...

A view from the opposite side of a horse being walked down the breezeway...

I love this's a girl trying to get her horse clipped, or cleaned up, or something that it is not really all that enthusiastic about! LOL...again with those adorable little ribbons!

It seems this last side is incomplete...she must have ran out of time and shipped off all the complete sets to family and friends....I do remember there were quite a few! So do you see my dilemma here? I am never going to get this good...I am crafty deficient...I am thankful to have a mother that doesn't mind sharing her talent though!

Back to the original topic of this post, before my ADD kicked in and took us down a side path! Gma Kathy makes watches too! These particular watches are just a touch over 1 inch wide, but she can make them in several sizes, and many many colors!

These watches are made of safety pins and beads....she can make them in any color combination and in any pattern! Unlike my prized bookends above, they are FOR SALE! And like my prized bookends above, you will cherish yours for a very long time!!! Here's a watch in luscious lime!

Gorgeous Golds!

Magnificent Multi-Colors!

And Perfectly Pink, just to name a few!

Please shoot Gma Kathy an email if you would be interested in purchasing any of these watches, or if you'd like her to make one especially for you! She is more than happy to provide you more info:
Enjoy! I wear one myself! And envy her every minute of the day that I am reminded of my creativity deficit...boy, am I lucky she has enough for us both!!!
Happy Trails,

March 08, 2009

Breaking Ground!

I don't know if this is 'officially' spring or not, but we're going with it! One of JR's goals is to establish a family garden where we can grow a lot of our favorite fruits and veggies! We've committed to getting it done this year and are taking advantage of this lovely weather to get started on it! The location we chose used to be an old sheep pen...we pulled all the fencing down last year....JR got the box blade attached and I hit the hill to break some ground!

Lordsy Mercy, just look at that beautiful black soil! You'd have to pay a pretty penny for dirt that purty in town....thank you sheepies! We are going to grow lots of fabulous stuff in that there dirt....We are planning on planting corn, green beans, tomatoes, strawberries, cucumbers, carrots, watermelon, pumpkins and blackberries just to name a few of the yummies on our list!

So round and round I went until the top layer was sufficiently broken up...

And finally called it quits once we had an area about 100ft x 80ft dug up....We may need to expand a little yet, as corn can take up a lot of space, but we're done for this round...we've made our mark and shown that hill we mean business! Next, we'll follow up with a disk and turning that soil over until it's ready to plant....

The goal is raised beds for everything except maybe the we'll need to get those built soonest. JR's really the gardener here, so my 'assistance' will probably be restricted to constructing boxes for the raised beds and fencing to keep the undesirables out...that's OK ...I just don't have a good track record with things that grow in the dirt....He has Gma Kathy here to assist him in the gardening department....she's cultivated some pretty elaborate gardens in her day...not sure why that talent was so lost on me....oh sure will be rewarding to stock our fridge with fruits and veggies from our own land....can't wait!
Stay tuned for more garden updates!
Happy Trails,

March 07, 2009

The Princess & her Prince...

Lordsy Mercy, this weather is certainly something for the record books! 10 inches of snow to tank tops in a weeks time! Amazing!

Of course weekend+great weather=lots of outside time for the family! JR and I went down to the barn early to start chores...Oldest Brat headed down shortly after to get her horse ready for their riding lesson....As JR and I took a seat at the arena to watch her riding lesson, we see this dynamic duo headed down the hill....

This Little Brat just adores her big brother...and what an outstanding big brother he is! You may have taken notice of her choice in attire this day....she gets to dress herself every's empowering for her, and always entertaining for us! This is the new and improved farm formal wear from's called "Princess of Westwood"....LB just loves the freedom of the fit....and of course the PINK....I mean, this is the same LB that named her puppy "Pinki" just suits her ;)

Anyways, this punky pair decides they are going to start their day with a few laps around the they are off to the races!

Running around an arena? Fun? Absolutely! Just looks at those smug mugs!

LB was feeling especially froggy today though....I don't blame her, the super great weather had everyone feeling good! So, she took a couple more laps on her own....Oh no! Looky there! That's what happens when your big brother isn't there to hold you up...OOPS!

Silly girl...

After their warm-up, it was off to football camp for this sporty see, this Princess isn't all fluff and puff...her favorite teams are the Packers and Dolphins and she'll take football over basketball any day! Much to the despair of her big sister....LOL

So, after a few catches with her face, she finally gets her fingers on the ball! You can just see the determination in her little face...and maybe a little bit of fear too...that ball is pretty hard...and her face? Not so much!

Suffice it to say the "Prince of Westwood" is a pretty special guy...not just to us, but especially so to this little Princess...I think she's one lucky punk to have such a fine big brother...

Happy Trails!

March 03, 2009

Bye Uncle Travis!

My brother Travis left Virginia today....he is headed back home to California for a while...we are sure going to miss having him around here...he has been helping out a lot around the farm, hanging with the family, and meeting lots of new friends....the Little Brat is especially sad though....they've been jamming together for a couple months on the harmonica he gave her and the guitar he tuned up for her....I guess Gma Kathy is going to have to pick up the slack! Lord knows mommy is musically challenged, even to a toddlers standards!

Happy Travels!


...the horses have been kept stalled over the past couple days to protect them from the inclement was nice enough to turn them out today, and EVERY one of them went straight to making snow angels......I have no explanation...

Happy Trails!

March 02, 2009

Under cover of snow....

We averaged about 10 inches over the last day and a half...some areas more, some areas just can't deny how peaceful and serene the landscape becomes under the cover of snow...Enjoy!

This is why we have to keep an eye on the forecast and ensure all the water troughs are filled prior to a cold spell! As you can see, the freezing temps make our water spiggots useless, albeit interesting to look at :)

Happy Trails,

The ugly side of snow....

Yes, it's pretty, and pristine, and I'll have all the pics to prove it when I get home tonight....until then, I thought I'd post a few pics of the ugly side of's the side you will only see if you have to actually accomplish laborious tasks in an area that once and most frequently is NOT covered in snow....

Take this hill for example....a simple stroll down this hill from the house to the barn on any other day is not even worth noting....however, when snow happens, you take your life into your own hands making that same trek!
Moving the hay and grain by wheelbarrow to all the hungry horses? No big deal any other day! TODAY....after the biggest snow-fall in years, not such an easy task! It's a good thing my brother, Travis, is here to help my poor skinny mom out....she doesn't have a lot of weight behind her, ya know....I bet that wheelbarrow felt 100 lbs heavier than usual!

Here's a view from the inside of the can see how the snow blew in sideways into the breezeway thru the tiny crack in the doors....Gma Kathy and Boomer have the right idea....let the young buck handle the heavy duty this morning! Thanks Trav!

Seems like the horses are the wise ones...staying inside and out of the snowy misery! Clementine doesn't have a lick of snow on her! She's a smart girl...the rest got to stay in today too....Pony Snow Day!

Stay warm out there! "Pretty" pics to follow this evening!

Happy Trails,

Leah and my super great, all weather, get 'er done barn staff (Gma Kathy & Travis)

Holy Snow!

The weather service wasn't far off...we have close to 10 inches of snow on the ground this morning, and it's still coming down! I couldn't even get any pics because of the cold, white, blurry mess....The wind howled all night long and sounded like a freight train making continuous circles around the house...I don't even recall a storm this bad in recent history....I am hoping it lets up by this afternoon so I can get some good pics of the snow cover....

All that said, after I cleared the snow from the Durango, Randi and I hit the road to school/work. After all, I learned to drive in this kind of weather...I got my license in the winter in Northern California (Modoc County)....even the school buses drove in blizzards!

I have learned that to successfully navigate the cold and icy roads, you really have to commit to the following:
  1. ALWAYS USE 4x4...if you don't have 4x4 (or at the very least front wheel drive), STAY OFF THE ROADS! You are a danger to yourself and those around you! Navigating the most subtle of inclines, declines, or turns can put you in a world of trouble without the extra traction.
  2. SLOW DOWN...the normal speed limits do not apply! I cruised at a comfortable 35-40mph this morning all the way into work without a single issue....except of course the stress of the 2 or 3 speed mongers that just had to whip past everyone at dangerously close proximity and speeds.
  3. INCREASE YOUR FOLLOWING wet and slick conditions, you need more distance to stop...even if you are able to stop on a dime some of the time, plan for the worst...the one time you think you are fine, is when you'll lose traction and get yourself and possibly those around you in a cannot predict when the driver in front of you will brake unexpectedly..increase your following distance so you don't have to guess!

That's all I have to say about that....I think the snow scared off the majority of the drivers this morning....there were vehicles out there, but not a single accident between home and work...just a single stalled truck on the highway....

Stay safe out there!


March 01, 2009

Back in the day....

On lookout...protecting our world from the forces of evil....

As you know, I was enlisted in the USMC from 1995 to 2000. It was a great experience, and I am proud to have served. I was listening to President Obamas recent speech about the withdrawal of our troops from Iraq over the next 18 months. I was enlisted during a time of very little conflict, so I never had the responsibility to be in combat, let alone on an exercise for an extended length of time....I was of my lengthiest duties was an exercise in 29 Palms, California called CAX. I was there for 49 days....sleeping in a lean-to hooch on my canvas cot....Despite the -5 star living arrangements, I actually have a lot of fond memories from these days...of course not having to deal with the actual threat of injury or death helped!
My first roommate out of boot camp when I arrived at school in Pensacola, Florida, was Dena Stone....this was the beginning of a trend that would extend thru today, when Dena and I would never work or live more than a stones throw apart! This is the inside of a communications van that we matrix printer and all!

Here is my graduation from Pensacola, after which I (and Dena) would be permanently stationed at Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii.
Check out the cool duds...see how I blend right in with the background? Does wonders for a girls self-esteem ;) That and the "one-size fits all genders" fit of my uniform.

I wish our troops the safest wind-down possible to the war in Iraq and a speedy trip home to their friends and families!
Semper Fi!