I have officially survived a week (almost) at a real dude ranch. It was quite an adventure (see previous post), one I won’t soon forget. I decided this particular event was worthy of a top ten list. Here are the top ten things I learned from the dude ranch, in no particular order.

1. Horses are not prissy. They don’t care when, where,or what they poop. They also don’t care if they step in someone else’s poop. I kind of admire them in this, but I’m not ready to join them just yet.

2. It’s better to play dumb. Even if you have had a full year of lessons, I would suggest telling everyone you are a beginner. This will potentially make you look like an amazing prodigy, but definitely keep you from looking like a poser that doesn’t know anything.

3. Going up a rocky mountain on horseback is a lot more scarey than going down a rocky mountain on horseback. It makes no sense to me, but it’s true. Maybe it’s because going up is a choice and going down…well, you can’t stay on the mountain, can you? It has to happen so …..I don’t know.

4. Horses are like kids.They test your limits constantly. I am just as much a push over on horseback as I am as a mom. sigh. I’m pretty sure they had to retrain my horse after I left…and put him on a diet.

5. Horses stumble.I was nervous about taking my horse up the mountain because he had been stumbling the day before. The head honcho told me if I could find a horse that didn’t stumble,it would be a miracle. I wonder…would this apply to men? They all have flaws….hmmmm

6. Wooden hot tubs are way cooler (not in temperature) than tile ones. I don’t know what it was, but that wooden hot tub was just amazing. I felt like I was in the old west. I half expected Owen Wilson or Jacki Chan to walk in while I was there…

7. I take the beauty of the Arizona desert for granted. I grew up here so I don’t think it is anything special. Apparently, many other people are less blind than me. There are many movies, tv shows, songs, ballads, poems, and art pieces based on the Arizona desert hills I’ve looked at most my life.

8. Suckers with scorpions are not the sickest candy in the world. I saw suckers with worms in them for sale at the gift shop. Not sure how much you have to hate a person to give them a worm sucker, but that’s where you can get them. eww

9. My son can survive without technology. It was two days into our stay before I even noticed we had no phone in our room. There was no TV either. My son (13 yr old) had withdrawals, but he made it. I was impressed.

10. No matter what kind of sweet treat my daughter brings me, there is no substitute for potato chips. I had a craving the entire time and there were none to be found. Okay, so this one doesn’t actually have anything to do with the ranch, but it does explain why my keyboard has greasy finger marks on it……cause I said so.

Photo credit: me again…on the trail with wiley teenagers….yeehaw!

Howdy pantser


Tis the season. The statement means different things to different people. Some people shop, some people get bronchitis, some start singing carols, and some leave creepy little elves in random places around their home/office/classroom. To each his own I say.

For me, I like to enjoy the Christmas break in ways I hope my family will remember. Through the years, I have discovered that no matter what amazing, up to date, coveted gift I give my children for Christmas, they have forgotten it by St. Patrick’s day. Because of this, I started several years ago giving my kids the gift of ‘adventure’ for Christmas. We have gone sledding in the mountains, traveled to Colorado, and this year….dude ranching.

It’s funny….my parents and I have thrown the idea of a dude ranch trip around for years. It has always been on of those ‘way out there’ ideas we had. Lucky for me, I have a father in law that jumps at opportunities to do things with his grandkids. I mentioned it and he booked it!

What is a dude ranch? In a nut shell, it is an opportunity to get up close and personal with a horse for days on end. At this particular ranch, you are assigned a horse for your stay. Saguaro and I have been a good team. He is a pleaser, a snuggler, and the first in line to head home right before it is time. HE has come out of this unscathed. I, on the other hand, have trouble sitting without whimpering and feel as though my butt has completely disappeared.

Because I dated a cowboy a few years ago, I foolishly thought I would qualify as an intermediate riders. This was not the best choice I have made in my life. I also decided I didn’t need a lesson until day two….after going on two slow rides and two fast rides. The slow rides were fine. Slow. The fast rides should  have been called something more appropriate like….’rides that will cause you to bounce around in the saddle so much you will want to cry but won’t for fear the tears would blind you and you will fall to your death in the God forsaken desert of Tucson.” Seriously….fast ride left a LOT of information out of the adventure.

I have to give the ranch props though. On the sign right outside the horse pen, it says very clearly that riding horses is an adventure that involves risks. There should be some fine print describing these risks….’risks to body, mind, spirit, self-esteem, tailbones, knees, hair, certain death, etc.’

The good news is, no one has died. No one has been seriously hurt or maimed. We convinced Ben to get on the horse THREE times (boredom and lack of all technology does wonders for motivation). The cowboys and ‘wranglers’ have all be super awesome.

Like most things, when I first start out and I’m having fun and all is well, I start daydreaming about changing my entire life to become this new adventure person. Sitting atop a mighty steed, I picture myself moving my kids to a ranch, buying horses, hiring capable(sexy) cowboys, planting fields of … corn?, living in a rustic, yet modern, log cabin….yada yada yada…..

Then, we try ‘loping’, which is fancy cowboy talk for barely getting close to a slow run, and I realize all my bones have changed their position in my body and I want more than anything to climb into a hot bath and read my book. It looks so easy and smooth when the cowfolk ride..I wonder why it hurts me so much. So, I take a lesson. After listening to the 67 basic things I need to ‘remember’ but not ‘think about’ in order to make my ride smooth and effortless…? I realize…maybe I am just a city slicker that isn’t meant to be atop a horse more than a few times a year.

The real clincher for me was at the end of my lesson today. My ‘wrangler’ told me, “don’t worry about it. You are doing fine. Just remember, if it feels good, you are doing it right.” Holy heck. I haven’t done anything right this week!  Cause I said so.

Photo credit: Actually me, iphone 5, selfie with a cooperative horse…not Saguaro…I feel like such a cheater….

Vent Elation

Colourful preschool numbers

The rumor is that everyone cries during their first year of teaching. I have witnessed this first hand as a new teacher fled her room, never to return. It wasn’t her cup of tea after all. It was sad and a bit scarey. I decided right then and there that I would not cry during my first year. If you know me at all, you know I’m not really one to cry anyway. Unless it is a really good doritos commercial or the end of most any good movie, I don’t cry.

I’m coming up on my first anniversary of being a real teacher. I began in the middle of the school  year last year and here we are again. I’ve loved it for the most part. I love the kids, teaching, decorating my room, learning…..and feeling like a real grown up most the time. I never had a real career like job before. It’s kind of exciting and terrifying at the same time. There are times when I’m walking down the hall of the school and I think to myself…..”I’m a real teacher!” and then I feel like breaking out into a hysterical, maniacal laugh. (and sometimes I do)

I know I’m new and I have a lot to learn, but I feel like I’ve been doing okay. My kids are happy and doing well. I have a few that make me want to beat my head against the wall, but I really like all of them.

The big buzz word these days is data. Everything you do is measured by data that shows test results and growth and achievement and blah blah blah. Data is really important and can make or break a teacher. This is how they figure out if a teacher is effective. So, my question is…do I resign now or wait til the Christmas break officially starts. I’m hoping someone tells me it isn’t as bad as it looks to me, but I’m afraid I’m going to get my butt handed to me in an old Kleenex box. How is it that my students can do great on homework and tests in the class and bomb the benchmark tests?

Oh, wait a minute….could it be because the benchmark tests are worded in something close to Chinese? These aren’t words we’ve ever used in math. When was I supposed to teach them these things? Use these words? I guess I could have done it between all the ‘extra’ projects I had thrown at me on a daily basis.

I wonder what teaching was like for teachers when I was a kid. I don’t remember having loads of homework or big projects or seeing my teacher go to the back of the room to cry and pull at her hair. Of course, I don’t remember much of anything after dropping that huge cutting board on my toe in third grade. It’s all kind of a blur……

Don’t worry, I’m not going to really throw the towel in or run down the street with tears streaming down my face. I will face this challenge like any other and start doing it MY way. Yes, I’ve played by your rules long enough and it has kicked me down. Time to step it up and make it work for me and my kids the way I know it will.

Playing by the rules is for losers……cause I said so.

Photo credit: http://www.yalazi.org

I digress….






Music is my soul food. I’ve heard some really great songs lately, all of which have been discovered in my own music library. I don’t know how they got in there, but I have to believe my guardian angel is one of the Beatles…or possibly Jimi Hendrix himself. Here is one of the songs that made me stop in my crazy day tracks and listen. My soul feasted, my breath slowed, and my homework waited.

Listen…..cause I said so.

“Back To Forever”

If I had my way. We would stay golden
Frozen in frame. Never get older
Days pass and time just slips away

The summers that came. Lasted for ages
Drinking coke in the shame. Sunburnt faces
I grew up and I.. went away
But I always said that I’d come back someday
To be laid down

Take me back to forever
That’s where I was born to be
How’d I end up in this land of never
Only memories

It used to go slow,
But now it’s so fast
It melts like the snow,
Christmas midwest
Time lapses years just drift away
But I always said that I’d come back someday
to be laid down
Take me back to forever
That’s where I was born to be
How’d I end up in this land of never
Only memories
In this spot.
This exact spot
Is where I’d hide until I got caught
And this place, this is my place
And homes all I got so

Take me back to forever
That’s where I just long to be
How’d I end up in this land of never
Only memories
Oh my memories,
they come back to me.
Oh my memories.

Wanna hear it? click here….
Photo credit: http://www.google.com/url?sa=i&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=images&cd=&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0CAYQjB0&url=http%3A%2F%2Ffractalenlightenment.com%2F25206%2Flife%2Fseven-ways-how-music-benefits-your-health&ei=13llVJeBF6P3igK81IBw&bvm=bv.79142246,d.cGE&psig=AFQjCNHr6lVkDRcaYe1RphHjGcCCa2RcOw&ust=1416022785678009

Reality Snow


They aren’t really friends. They aren’t even what you would call acquaintances. Yet, they are always there when I need someone to make me feel better. We laugh together, we cry together, we even do stupid stuff together. I say together, but in reality….I’m just watching.I’m a spectator in this relationship. At times it can be a bit frustrating to know that I mean nothing to them. I mean, if it wasn’t for me and others like me, they would have nothing, but still….they don’t even know me.

It’s the sort of relationship that some say is unhealthy. An intervention could be needed. Or maybe I could find a hobby or better yet, use my time to do homework or laundry. The problem is, when I do those things…I feel lonely.I need my friends, as shallow and un-fulfilling as it may seem, I need them. They don’t judge me, they don’t send me epic long texts reminding me of every mistake I’ve ever made. They don’t care. They really don’t care.

School was out today.I spent the day with my daughter and she actually thanked me for a fun day. That was the highlight. It is rare that 17 year old girls say thank you for much of anything. It made me smile. It was a good day. I could go to sleep, but I need these people just for a while…

My friends stare back at me through the glass. They are frozen in place…scared I’ll turn away or even disappear. It’s time. I’ve got to disappear….if only til tomorrow night….cause I said so.

Photo credit: http://www.ecouterre.com

I’m Batman

jack on the corner


HALLOWEEN is not my favorite holiday. There is something about parents taking their kids around to strangers’ houses and asking for candy that just doesn’t seem quite right. Especially if they have been teaching these same children not only to never talk to strangers, but to never ever take candy from said strangers. Hmm…. The logic of it all escapes me.

When I was a kid, we didn’t do Halloween because my mother said it was the Devil’s holiday. As David Spade would say….”it kinda is…..” but it doesn’t have to be.

I love all the create costumes that wandered through my candy stash last night. We had the typical witches, mummies, zombies that you get every year, but there were a few gems. Two teens that live in my neighborhood rode up on their scooters looking completely normal. Not to be judgmental, I asked them what they were dressed as. They said they were dressed as each other. The make up was amazing…I was completely fooled. It was only enhanced by their quirky responses to my questions. Well done girls.

I love seeing little girls embracing their feminine side with crowns and ruffles and fairy wings. My girls totally gipped me in this area. They were never frilly girly girls. But I love who they are. Last night my own girls were dressed as a very tall fairy and a blue haired ….. creepy clown? I’m not sure what her official title was, but her make up was….extreme.

I have to say that my favorite costume from last night was the little girl who was dressed as a princess with a hard hat and tool belt on. Now, that is the kind of princess I could be. Pamper me, give me diamonds, and let me use the power tools. Can we do it? Yes I can!

I didn’t really dress up for the holiday. I had to wear something for school, but I mainly embraced the option of wearing jeans to school. I added some really red lipstick, a bandana around the updo, and a cardigan and called myself the 50’s. It was a stretch, but at least I didn’t make anyone cry (that I know of) and I didn’t need paint stripper to get the make up off my face.

Maybe next year I will go all out and do something amazing. Maybe I’ll find a WonderWoman outfit that covers my…assets….or I’ll dress up as a Rock Star with pink hair. Who knows? I’m pretty sure I won’t be like the kid down the street. He had a scary mask, rumpled clothes, and walked around dragging a shovel behind him. It’s amazing how much the shovel added to the scariness of his costume. I don’t know what movie or show or legend he was trying to convey, but I’m pretty sure he wasn’t a gardener……cause I said so.

Wanted: BFD

best-friends-iWhat did we do before Pinterest? I really don’t think my life had meaning before this amazing little site came along and organized everything in the world for me. No matter what I’m looking for, I can find it on Pinterest. It’s like the new Google, without Justin Bieber.

I was looking for a quote the other day to send to someone and I ended up reading a lot of really inspirational, gooshy, completely depressing quotes about friendship. Why, do you ask, would friendship quotes be depressing? Well, mostly because I don’t have friends. I mean, yes, if you look at my Facebook page(s) you will see that I have many many people listed under the ‘friends’ tab, but….they are not the kind of person I can call to eat chocolate in the middle of the night, bemoan about my love(lack of) life, or to move a dead body. How did this happen?

I have pondered about this for quite some time. I look at others people and their best friends from high school or elementary school or childhood neighbor, and I think….where was I? It’s true, my family moved around a bit as a kid, but we didn’t move far once I got into high school. After I got married, we continued the tradition of moving around until I moved home five years ago.

Somewhere along the line, you’d think I would have made a lasting friend I could call and talk to in the middle of the night when I’m afraid I’m being stalked or gaining weight. But alas, I have not.

I have decided it is because of two possible reasons. Number one, I was married to my best friend for 19+ years. Maybe I felt like I just didn’t need anyone else? Number two, I’m too chicken to share my life with anyone. By chicken, I mean, I’m too afraid to show any weakness to anyone in fear they will use it against me, call me stupid, or somehow destroy me with their subtle, subconscious death ray. Issues? Yeah, I got those…..

Now that I am single, the fact that I have no best friend is really getting to me. I’ve decided to hold auditions/interviews. I will put a list of ‘requirements’ on here and if you are interested in applying for the job, just contact me. May the odds be ever in your favor.


Must not be easily offended, must laugh at my jokes, must not judge me by my messy house/hair/face/waistline/etc., must be able to support me even when I do stupid things, must also do stupid things, must honestly desire to be my friend and not just be using me for research for their psychology paper, must live close enough to go for walks when I want to jump off a cliff, must have a sexy male friend they can introduce me to (okay, that one is optional), …..must be able to tell me what a best friend does cuz I really don’t have a clue. Maybe this is a mythical creature like the hydra….? Maybe I’m safer on my own? Maybe I’ll go back to watching Netflix…..where my real friends are….cause I said so.

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