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Where does the time go?

It’s hard to believe we haven’t made a blog entry in over 7 weeks. Things have been busy, so I guess we should do a catch up post.

We have 2 kids in high school: Alex is a junior and Vicki is a freshman and Amanda is in 4th grade! All the kids are doing great in school. Alex and Vicki are participating with the Mystic YMCA Hammerheads swim team again this year and Alex is in driver’s ed class 2 nights a week.

In August, Eli came to the farm on trial. Vicki rode him at home, on trails, and in a lesson at Horse Power Farm. He did great in each endeavor, and after a pre-purchase exam, we bought him.
Alex loves Teddy and is committed to riding Teddy in endurance, but he takes some lessons on Mojo because Mojo is awesome as a teacher for Alex.

We went the West Greenwich Horseman’s Association (WGHA) Fall Fest. The kids won the junior division year end award for the country pace series and all got new jackets. Rob won the Open division and also got a jacket (tied with our friend LuAnn). We (Rob and Anna) were not on a team this year because Anna was injured at the first ride so we completed the series as individuals.

Life has been busy. We are still working on barn repairs (and probably will be until the snow sets in). We have been without a kitchen floor for 6 weeks. We hope to have a floor back before Thanksgiving.

I’ve been doing some trail running this year. Amanda loves to join me on the trails and has done runs of 2-3 miles without a problem. As usual, I jumped in by signing up for a race without training first. I had to back off some of my expectations and drop down some distances, but I have enjoyed the adventures. I ran the Macedonia 25k in Kent, CT. It was a 15.5 mile race with 3900′ of elevation. A few weeks later, I ran the Nipmuck Trail Marathon in Ashford, CT. That race didn’t go quite as planned due to some serious IT band pain, but I did finish the race (with a lot of hiking).

Alex rode Mojo in the final jumping derby at Horse Power Farm and got second in the derby and reserve champion for the year in the pre-elementary division.

This morning was the first day of bird hunting for the fall (we hunted chukar today). Amanda loves to go take Rusty out for a hunt and she was in my room at 6 this morning to make sure we weren’t late. Rusty did great finding birds and pointing.

Despite the busy schedules, we still try to carve out some time to ride as a family. So, this afternoon we went out with all five horses for a 6.5 mile ride in Pachaug. The weather was perfect (temps in the 60s) and the fall colors were spectacular.

Sometimes, when things are going just right, you have to kiss the one you love. Even if you happen to be riding on a horse at the time.

And the day ends, with another colorful sunset.

WGHA Country Pace #3

Sunday, we went to WGHA’s third Country Pace. It was a new type of ride this year, similar to a hunter pace, but there are no jumps. Also, instead of riding against an (unknown) ideal time, the ride times are averaged according to the division you enter and whomever is closest to the average, wins. It’s an interesting twist because there is no requirement to ride at any particular speed and the average can fall anywhere. In reality, the ride is a fun social gathering with a chance to win some prizes.

The ride went pretty well. Anna did get dumped when Amira spooked a little. It would have been fine if Anna had let go of the reins, but she decided to hold on and got drug a few feet. Luckily, she only lost a little skin on an elbow; her concussion from Maine wasn’t made any worse.

At the end of the ride, we enjoyed lunch until the awards. At the awards, we were pleased to find out the kids got 1st in the Junior division, I got 2nd in the Open division, and Anna got 1st in the Open division.

4H Fair

This past weekend we participated in the New London County 4H Fair.

The kids brought horses to the horse EXPO Saturday morning. The State 4H horse show is the actual points competition for the horse kids of New London county based on previous years lack of participation at the local fair show, so this is just for fun. There was jumping, trail obstacles, costume class and gymkhana.

Amanda also did some rabbit hopping with Pretty Paw and Winter Rose first thing Saturday morning.

We had our travel trailer on the grounds and Rob and Amanda stayed there all weekend.

Vicki and Amanda showed rabbits on Saturday afternoon, Vicki as a senior, and Amanda as a junior. They both got third place in showmanship.

Sunday was spent practicing for robotics (Alex) and actually competing in robotics. Alex got 2nd in the senior competition.

The girls helped with the ice cream social,did a pet costume class ( Vicki) and 4H Olympics on Sunday. And ate fair food.

Here are some pics.

Pony Club Camp

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Last weekend the kids spent some time at Barbara Kil’s house participating in the annual “Around 4th of July” Mystic pony club camp. While we decided last fall not to renew with pony club this year (for a lot of reasons-ask  us if you want to know), the kids have done this camp for 6 years so we decided to send them this year as well. The each had 7 lessons, lots of pool time and sunshine over the course of 4 days.

Amanda and Huey rode all 7 lessons together and Huey was, well Huey, sometimes he is great, other times he is stubborn and difficult. I came away with the realization that Amanda is becoming quite strong in her riding and knowledge, and her ability to handle Huey’s antics has definitely improved.

Vicki took two horses to camp, Duchess and Amira. Amira came to expose her to more situations, let Vicki lesson on her and to allow Duchess a break since she had a lameness pull at the endurance ride. Vicki rode Amira on the flat and did her jumping on Duchess. It was evident that Vicki’s swim team time this winter has helped her become a stronger rider and Amira helped show Vicki how riding with softer elbows is good.

Alex took both Mojo and Teddy to camp. The horses both completed a 50 two weeks prior, so we decided Alex could use lesson time on both of them and neither would be idle or overused. Alex rode Teddy on the flat and in the field, learning about pacing and he jumped with Mojo.

Prior to coming to camp we took the kids to the Horsepower Farm derby and Vicki got a 2nd and Alex a 6th in the pre-elementary division. Alex had an unfortunate refusal when Mojo looked at the “Flag Jump”.

Thank you to the Kil’s for hosting and for keeping Amanda a few extra days.

No more uniforms

I have a DD214. For those not familiar with the military, that means I have my discharge papers. Today was my last day in uniform. While I am still technically on active duty until June 1st, I am on terminal leave and my naval career is over. No more morning musters. No more duty days. No more PRTs. No more uniforms.

My first day in uniform, June 30, 1995

I still remember the first time I really thought about joining the military. I was on a camp out with my Boy Scout Troop at Camp Sequoya in 1992. One of the leaders on the camp out was telling stories about his time in the Navy and how Scouting prepared him for military service. While I didn’t really tell everyone, that was when I first knew I would go into the military. It just seemed right.

I have been to 15 countries on 6 continents. I have surfaced a submarine through the ice at the North Pole. I have been to the crossing of the Equator and Prime Meridian. I have spent time at sea on 12 different submarines. My career path was different from some of my peers. About half way through my time, I shifted to a staff officer role. While that impacted my upward mobility for promotions, it gave me opportunities with my family that we wouldn’t have otherwise had. We spent 13 years in the Groton, CT area. We have a herd of horses. I have been working as a part-time farrier for 7 years.

My last day in uniform, February 21, 2019

I am excited to start the next phase of my life. In a few months, Anna and I will celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary. Next week, I will start at Sonalysts, Inc in Waterford, CT. Next fall, we will have 2 kids in high school. Life moves on and things change. I’m happy to have served in uniform. I’m proud to be a veteran.

Family Fitness

Sunday morning long runs with Rusty are one of my guilty pleasures. This morning, I knew a couple of different groups were getting together, but I decided to stay home and run in Pachaug. Alex has a desire to run a half marathon, so we decided I would come by the house and pick him up for a couple of miles before I finished. When Amanda heard that, she immediately declared she was going with us. So, after the first 11.5 miles, I swung into the house and and Alex, Amanda, and Mack joined Rusty and I for another 2 miles.

Mack went swimming (as in, up to his neck swimming) 3 times in 2 miles.

Along the way, Amanda said “I need to do more running to improve my stamina.” I replied “OK, what are you training for?” Amanda’s reply “Triathlons.”

Later in the afternoon, the whole family went out for a short trail ride. It was a great day.

Traveling thoughts

I’m sitting in the Atlanta airport on my way home from Chile. It was a very short trip that included 2 red eye flights in 4 days. This was likely my last international trip on active duty. There are a few things that are glaringly obvious to me after each of these trips:
1. Americans are in extremely poor health. The percentage of people who are fit vs obese is essentially inverse in the US compared to other countries. The lack of fitness and health crisis is disturbing and makes me more and more committed to a better diet for my family and participating in fitness activities (running, biking, triathlon, etc). I did get 1 short run in during the 2 nights in Chile.

2. Americans are overly focused on material acquisitions and not appreciative of what we have. Riding around in these countries and seeing how much of the world lives in poverty is eye opening. It doesn’t mean I am going to give everything away and move into a tiny house, but I want to ensure I raise my kids to appreciate their advantages in life and be respectful for the opportunities we have in life.

3. While traveling for work is nice to a degree, I miss my family and being involved in the lives of my kids.

4. As my military career comes to an end, I understand with more clarity how different my life is compared to the average submarine officer. The direction my career proceeded has given me opportunities in my personal life that I am very grateful for.

5. Work to live. Don’t live to work. There are more important things than the bottom line. I have yet to meet traveling businessman who regrets the time he spent with family, but the number of regrets for lack of family time is amazing.

6. I love my family and look forward to spending the holidays with them with focus on relationships instead of things.

Horse Power Farm Derby

Vicki and I headed out to Horsepower Farm’s cross country derby tonight. It was 4.30 pm by the time we made it, but we made it work. Duchess was great, and Vicki had fun. Vicki decided that having a successful ride was more important than trying the next level up. She turned the wrong way after one of the jumps, but didn’t jump anything out of order. The pelham definitely is working for more control and they had a good partnership today.

Here is a video:

New London County 4H Fair

This past weekend the kids participated in the NLC 4H Fair at the North Stonington Fairgounds.

Friday we arrived and checked in rabbits into the rabbit barn and exhibits into the exhibit hall. Amanda had a k’nex model and submitted her record book. Vicki submitted two pictures of King from last year. Rob stayed at the fair with the kids in the travel trailer and Anna traveled back and forth to home to take care of animals at home. Turbo stayed at the fair all weekend and showed on Sunday.

Saturday Anna brought three horses to the fair and there was a showmanship and trail clinic, followed by a costume class and some games in the arena. Then horses went home mid afternoon and rabbit showing commenced. Amanda showed as a novice (first year) and won, Alex and Vicki are both seniors this year, and got a third and fifth respectively. Amanda’s friend Olivia spent the night at the fair Saturday night.
Sunday brought dog showing in the am for Vicki and Amanda both showing Turbo, who was a good sport in the heat. They did showmanship and obedience, both earning blue ribbon scores for obedience. The kids participated in rabbit hopping and 4H Olympics and Alex did the robotics challenge and placed third.

Sunday Anna brought Huey and Duchess back for Huey to be used in the Premier Showmanship competition. Duchess was along for companionship. Huey had to do the same pattern for 8 senior 4Hers. A few competetitors held on to him a bit like a cow, pushing his head up and holding the reins too tight, which he wasn’t a fan of, but overall he behaved himself and it was pretty clear which kids were more horse savvy.

The fair ended Sunday afternoon wit awards and Amanda won a best in show award for her model.The kids and adults were exhausted. Enjoy a heap of pictures in no particular order…