Saturday, March 31, 2012

Well... This Is Embarrassing.

T-Day (travel day) dawned yesterday morning (Saturday) and all the bags were packed. After a few normal morning scuffles to get the kids dressed we were ready and out the door. The passenger terminal is pretty close by so after a short drive we arrived and got checked in for a flight. We found out on Thursday evening that there were no less than 5(!) flights to the states. When we checked in we found out that we were FIRST on the list to fly! and between the 5 flights there were (at least) 48 seats available. We were definitely going to get on a plane.

And then something completely unexpected happened... I changed my mind! (ugh!) Okay, it wasn't completely unexpected (to me). I'd been having some jitters over the whole thing for the past couple of days. Basically there are still a couple of family things going on that I thought I was okay about missing but apparently not. So after sitting in the terminal for about 45 minutes we got up and left and went to the girls' final dance recital (the pictures earlier were from their dress rehearsal).

Also, my son is having a bit of a hard time with the idea of the girls and me leaving. He has to stay here with Dad until mid-May and school is out. Being the oldest he has experienced the hardest parts of being a military kid already with the overseas move, moving once a year and a deployment. Believe me being a part of the military really is hard at times and requires a lot of sacrifices no matter how old you are. But, we had a really good talk last night and I think he will be alright when we finally do leave. It will be hard, though, which makes it hard for me to go.

I don't regret not going this time. We had some great times yesterday and as a Mom there are always going to be things that come before my dreams/desires, etc. I'm okay with that. Being a Mom is the most amazing thing I've ever experienced. And being a wife ain't half bad either! Also, being a part of the military can be very rewarding in spite of the sacrifices it requires.

But I have to admit I've already started looking at the flight lists. There is at least one flight leaving this week (so far) that is CONUS bound. I don't know if I'll be on it but I feel comfortable saying I will make it to the states sooner rather than later. I'm seriously ready to ride off into the sunset! ...well, ride off to the xc course at least!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

How Do You Handle Pressure?

He's a Handsome Guy!
Happy Monday Everybody! My family and I had a very busy weekend. Saturday we had an early birthday party for my son who will turn seven in 2 weeks. We had the party early because I am going to be *hopefully* flying back to the states very soon! [insert squeals of excitement here.] Since we are flying space available it might not work out but just in case we wanted to throw the party early.

Sunday was recital day for my two girls. This is my husband's and my first experience with this kind of thing and it was certainly interesting. On the one hand both of my girls are completely adorable (and no I'm not biased at all!) but on the other hand they are both a little bit on the shy side so I wasn't sure how they would handle actually being up on a stage. They both were very excited about it but most of us know how easy it is to be excited about something only to find the reality to be a bit of a kick in the gut. How they both ended up handling it was really quite funny and made me think of how we, as riders, have a tendency to handle the stress of riding in a show where people are watching us and (Ahhhh!) actually judging us.

So how do you handle pressure?

Do you a) go into the fetal position and hope if you just ignore it it will go away?

Or b) Put your game face on?

I have to admit I've done both. But I am getting better about putting my game face on. And you know as a 5 year old it wasn't like my daughter's performance was step perfect (quite the opposite in fact!) but it really struck me how much it doesn't matter that it was perfect. She went out there and did her best and had an absolute blast and really it should be the same for us when we ride whether for a show or just "for fun."

(Oh and I'm not even telling you about their second performance. That was the one where Elaina took it a step further and instead of just sitting on the stage ignoring everybody decided to start kicking her sister in the back of the legs so that she fell... twice! They had to stop the music so I could go get her off the stage. Perhaps the stage is not in her future, lol! Evie handled it like a pro, though, completely ignored her... no tears, no fuss, just "the show must go on!" I was very proud of her.)

I might be scarce for a little while depending on what happens this week and when I actually get to fly. So happy riding and stay safe!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

A Day At The Beach

I had a great lesson today! Since this is possibly my last day to ride here until the fall I got to choose which horse to ride. For some reason (I'm not sure why) I decided to ride Mocha. I had ridden Sky the last couple of times so I guess I just wanted to spread the love or something like that.

Anyways, we worked on changing leads over a jump and on rollbacks. I was only able to get Mocha to switch leads once but he doesn't really have an automatic change so I don't feel too bad about it. The rollbacks were fun. I've never set out to purposely work on them before and after the first two or three tries I really got it. You know what I love about riding? It's putting things together. You start out with something simple like just learning to jump over a cross rail. You practice and practice until you get it and then you add another fence or maybe a vertical or an oxer and then you start putting courses together. The rollback was a great lesson b/c it made me keep riding after the fence and really turn my head to look for the next fence. Riding is like building blocks. The more solid your foundation the better it gets and no matter how great a rider you are there are always new pieces to learn or parts to perfect. When you "get something" it is unbelievably satisfying!

After my lesson I stuck around to go for a beach ride. It was a last minute invitation and my wonderful husband graciously agreed to come home a little early from work to pick up the kids so I could go. It was a lot of fun and I have a bunch of pictures. I'll let them tell the story!
Riding down the road to the beach.
 As we were riding to the beach one of the instructors said to me, "oh by the way, Mocha loves the water. He loves it so much he sometimes likes to lay down... just so you know!"
And Lay Down He Did!

The Posse
What, you think we were done with the water?
Famous last words: He just likes to lay down. He won't roll! Uhuh, right! Thankfully my boots are just my synthetic everyday ones!

And I'm Off!
Wet or not it was a blast!
I ended the day with my kickboxing class. Needless to say I am a little sore and lot tired! I think I'll probably sleep pretty well tonight!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Returning From Geekville

Wow, sorry it's been a while since I've written anything. I have a bit of a confession to make. You see every once in a while I turn into a big video game nerd. Yep, that's right. The past week I've spent just about every waking hour playing a new game, Mass Effect 3.

Oh my gosh it was so awesome! Well, except the end sort of sucked but the other 40+ hours were pretty amazing. Okay, I thoroughly blame my husband for this sad little addiction of mine. I'm not a huge gamer or anything but there are certain games that when I start playing them I just can't stop until they are done and it is definitely the husband's fault! He's the one who introduced me to video games in the first place. True fact: Jay and I are high school sweethearts. Another true fact: Our very first "date" he took me to an arcade so I could watch him play video games. Yeah, it was as fun as it sounds, lol.

But on the flip side he has been to a heck of a lot more horse events and has learned how to handle horses on the ground in almost any situation. He doesn't ride but he has a great pair of eyes and can usually tell me helpful things when he watches me ride. So I guess it is a fair trade off that I sometimes partake in his world of video games.

In other news. I was able to ride on Thursday before the show and I had a much much better lesson. No heels problems so whatever that was about it seems to have been just a freak thing. I was still a little disorganized but overall a huge improvement.

The show was on Saturday and I only rode in one class. Since all of the students have to share the same horses you can only do one jumping class. It's just too much for the horses otherwise. I literally only rode for less than 10 minutes. Get on, go over a little vertical once or twice to warm-up and then go out and ride your course. It was great, though. It was the opposite of my lesson last Saturday. Sky and I just went out and clicked over every single jump. It wasn't a high course, just 2'3" to 2'6" but it was fairly technical. A double combination to a single vertical on a diagonal followed by a bending line to another double combination a fairly tight turn to another vertical and then around the outside to a triple. One thing I am very happy to say is I am no longer having any trouble remembering my courses. I used to freak out at shows afraid that I would forget my course but now it seems really easy.

And the best part: I got first place! My trainer emailed me to let me know that I actually got the highest jumping score of the entire day. So I was pretty happy. :)

My girls displaying my ribbons.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Happy White Day!

What is White Day you ask? It is a holiday over here in Japan that falls on the 14th of March every year. You guessed correctly if you realized the one month exact correlation to Valentine's Day. In Japan Valentine's Day is celebrated just a little bit differently. Over here women give men Valentine's Day gifts instead of the other way around. That's right! I can't tell you how strange it is to walk through a department store and see all the red; red hearts, red streamers, red balloons, all in the MEN'S department!

Well White Day is the follow up to Valentine's Day. Today some large number of Japanese Women can expect to find white chocolate wrapped in white heart boxes or some similar gift from their spouse or a boyfriend or even just an admirer. I asked my husband what I was going to get for White Day. He just laughed.

Oh and don't worry if you are single. There is always Black Day!

I'm very behind right now. Behind in getting my house cleaned, behind in reading my various blogs. Honestly, my kids are lucky they are getting fed right now! I'd love to tell you all about what is keeping me so busy but it will have to wait until I'm, well, less busy!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

One Of Those Days

I had a lesson last night and I rode like crap. You know, one of those rides where everything just feels off. I had a full 2 weeks off of riding so I'm sure that was part of it but I don't know if it accounts for all of it. I got to ride Sky again which was nice but he also seemed to be having one of those days or maybe it was just the way I was riding b/c of the day I was having. The hardest thing about riding Sky, for me, is that he just does not want to go forward and he gets very snitty if you ask in what he deems to be a rude way. I'm not sure if it was because of that or what but I had the absolute worst time keeping my feet in my stirrups. It was very very weird. This is not a typical problem for me but my feet kept sliding forward in my stirrups. This was certainly a sign that my heels were coming up but like I said it is not an issue I've had to deal with for a long time. It was very much a WTH thing. But my entire ride my feet kept sliding forward with the stirrup ending up right in front of the heel of my boot. Eventually I just had to ignore it and keep riding.

What Am I Doing???

Normally I would not have tried a bunch of jumping while feeling so discombobulated but we have our spring horse show this coming weekend and there might not be a chance to ride again before hand so I needed to get some jumping in. It was alright. I managed to have some pretty nice moments but overall it just felt very disorganized. I sat down a little too quickly over one jump and caused Sky to bump the rail pretty hard sending the rail scattering. Sky used this as a very good excuse to spook and buck. He almost got me off but at the last minute I managed to save it with a French lift. That was really the only really bad moment. [REALLY!]

I'm hoping I can get a lesson in on Thursday so that I have a chance of having a nice ride before the show on Saturday. We'll see how it goes. I'm so looking forward to getting back to the states where I can start riding at least 4 or 5 times a week. Riding just once or twice a week just doesn't really cut it when you are trying to improve. It's like I told my hubby. Imagine trying to train for a marathon but only getting to run once a week. That would seriously suck! And this feels about the same to me.

Friday, March 9, 2012

All I Need Is A Little Patience!

I got a big surprise in my inbox a few nights ago when I looked and saw that Horse Junkies United had commented on my itty bitty blog. I can't tell you how cool that was! You'd think I'd gotten a message from Boyd Martin himself or something, lol. Seriously though, I've been reading HJU since it got started so it was a little surreal to suddenly have the situation reversed and someone from HJU reading my blog.

Speaking of Horse Junkies, my trainer back in Ohio occasionally contributes to the Junky blog. Back in February she wrote this: The Day I Lost My Mind and Bought a Lame Horse... And Two More. Horse D is the same horse I wrote about when I first started this blog. (pictured left and below). He is the horse that I'm supposed to be looking at when I get back to the States. He might be my "Low Key" someday. It was very interesting to hear about how she got him in the first place. My favorite thing she wrote was this: "[Horse] D, the afterthought, is a star.  He has the talent to succeed just about anywhere and the brain to do it with an amateur." Here's hoping that amateur might be me someday soon! And if for some reason it doesn't work out I know Lori will find him an excellent home and I'll find my partner sooner or later. I have to keep reminding myself to be patient.

Patience is certainly the hardest lesson to learn. Just when I think I might have learned how to be patient I find out just exactly how little I have. And believe me there have been plenty of opportunities to learn a little patience over here. For instance, there was the time when the Commissary ran out of chocolate chip granola bars... for two months! Now, you have to understand the only thing I ever eat for breakfast are my chocolate chip granola bars. I'd like to say that I handled their absence with cool aplomb but that would be a downright lie. Oh no, I threw a fit! Thankfully my very thoughtful and smart husband found out you can order them from Amazon otherwise I would have had to wait even longer. Now I have them delivered once a month so I don't ever have to run out and wait for them again.  And of course there is the fact that I'm going home two months earlier than planned b/c I just CAN'T wait to get out of here. I really do try, though, to have patience, surely that counts for something!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Plans and Shuri Castle

Plans have been set in motion. We've found a sitter for my son while I'm gone and the girls and I are on "the list" to fly home. It could be as early as April 1st but there is no way of knowing. In fact we won't know until the day we actually fly. We're flying "Space A" which means space available. It is a military program where we can fly for virtually free but only as there is space for us. It will involve getting up around 4am on the day a flight leaves, going to the airport and then just waiting to find out if we can get on. I'm hoping we don't have to do this very often. If it were just me it wouldn't be so bad but when you have to bring three kids with you it turns into quite the ordeal. Still, I'm so excited at the possibility of getting out of here in just three weeks. Possibly, just three weeks... I have to keep reminding myself... possibly.

Rainy season is on its way to Okinawa, or so I've been told. It rains so much here it is hard to imagine what rainy season will be like. But for now we have had a few really nice days, weather wise. This past weekend we got out and about and went to see Shuri Castle. It's a pretty big tourist attraction out here.

The castle itself is not at all like what we are used to seeing:
No Shoes Please!
I'd love to give you more info on some of these pics but there was very limited English so mostly we just enjoyed the view.
The Throne
The grounds outside the Castle where amazing
I apologize I haven't had any horsey posts in a while. I am supposed to ride this Saturday, (YAY!) and next Saturday they are going to put on a Spring Show at the barn. They have two shows a year. It's pretty much just for the students at the barn and we all share horses but it is something to look forward to and it gives the new riders an idea of what a "real" horse show would be like. The instructors put a whole lot of time and effort into it. They are letting the students do a freestyle dressage class if they want and they've had clinics and extra sessions to help students coordinate their tests with music. I'm just going to do a jump class but it sounds like fun and I'm looking forward to seeing how everyone does. So hopefully something "horsey" soon!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Could It Be?

I haven't written anything for the last few days because not a whole lot has been happening. I've been on a riding hiatus due to bad weather and my trainer out for a few days for a wedding. I'll hopefully be riding on Saturday and maybe even on Thursday but until then...

I do have some news (sorta). My hubs and I are working on a plan to get me home sooner than we originally thought. The plan has always been that I would go back to the states for the summer. Summer time is super busy for him and because I have a super understanding and supportive family going home for a couple of months works for us. However, (duh da da duh!) I might be going home in 6 weeks!!! Really it's hard not to start shouting and jumping up and down right now but I'm trying not to get too excited because we don't have all the details worked out yet and things could fall through but still 6 WEEKS!! And of course you know what one of the best things about that is, right?

I could be going to ROLEX

Have I mentioned how excited I am???

I can almost taste the funnel cakes now. And the trade show... I need to start making a list. 

But the best thing about Rolex is sister time. A few years ago my sister and I went to our (or at least mine I think it was hers too) first Rolex together. It was seriously fun and the best sister bonding we'd done to that point. Ever since then we've tried to go together every year. I even flew home from Washington (state) the year before last so I could go. We've gone when I was pregnant and when she was pregnant and we've lugged babies around the entire XC course. Last year was the first time we got to go all by ourselves and we had such a blast! I didn't think it was going to happen this year but now that it might I am literally beside myself (what does that mean exactly?) with excitement. We probably won't be able to go to the show jumping portion this year and we have not yet made it to the Dressage portion because of work schedules but it still beats not going at all! If you've never been it is hard to explain but watching the top horses and riders in our country and others compete on the Kentucky Blue Grass, hearing them thundering past and seeing them fly over obstacles that make your eyes turn into saucers by their hugeness is utterly breathtaking. I mean literally it will take your breath away!

So keep your fingers crossed for me! I can definitely handle living in Okinawa for 6 more weeks if it means being home for the next four months!