Saturday, October 22, 2011

Equating to the Equine Heart

In an attempt to teach Reagan how to better communicate and to grow her in confidence, we started her on horse lessons this summer. I don't think we could have chosen any better activity for her! Our goal was not that she actually learn to ride the horse well, but that she develop skills that one wouldn't normally see as having anything to do with horse riding, namely understanding the body language of another creature, learning to express her frustrations in a mature manner, building the confidence to direct something "greater" than herself, and learning that perfection is not the goal, rather it's the connection to another 'person' that matters.  She loves animals and so, is much less likely to revert to her typical 'raging' behaviors while around them. They soften her heart so that even when they don't behave she doesn't play the 'blame' game as much with them.

Most of the summer she rode with her teacher leading the horse and so there was no fear for her to deal with at first. She thoroughly enjoyed 2 weeks of summer days camps and learned about breeds, behavior, body parts, cleaning & care, tacking and riding. She began learning to read the body language of the animal both on and off of it (I'm hoping this will make her more observant of other human's body language). She got to know the different personalities of various horses and her confidence grew. She even got to ride in her first local horse show (still on lead) and was encouraged by the ribbons that she brought home.

Recently, her teacher has decided to push her a bit further by teaching her to ride off-lead, as well as learning to trot while working on her form. At this point her teacher gave her a more fidgety horse than the one she usually rode. It continually pulled it's head to the ground or around to look at various things which leaned the saddle this way and that, getting Reagan much more freaked out than she'd been in any other lesson. At one point the horse decided to neigh very abruptly and loudly and Reagan gave out a long scream in response. I almost died laughing (to myself of course) because I knew it was something she would laugh about later and something that she would be able to get over (she's much more forgiving of those horses than her human family & friends). Her teacher calmly told her that she was ok, the horse was only 'singing' and that she needed to learn to let the horse know who's boss. Later, as Reagan walked her horse back to the stable I saw her give it a good shove when it decided to stop to chew grass. I was so proud that she took that control back from the horse even though it had cost her a tearful lesson!

I find it strange how controlling a fidgety horse is actually a difficult thing to manage for my "strong-willed" child!  Even in her school work, I often see her express that she thinks herself incapable of doing things right.  But then I've realized that her strong-will doesn't actually equate to the confidence she'll need as she grows & steps out in the world.

But the horses?  That's *her* thing. There is no older brother to outshine her or little brothers to distract her or mama who doesn't always approach her correctly. It's just her and an animal with it's own mind but loving heart and a very patient teacher. She feels so good that she can care for it, talk to it, make it feel good, make it follow her instruction, and enjoy it all!

I love to watch her ride and plan to continue these lessons as long as we can!
 (With Mikimoto, her favorite Arabian)

(With her handler and her show ribbons)


Sunday, October 16, 2011

Update from the Silent HA

I feel so terrible about being gone from the blogosphere for so long!  I love posting here & journaling about my kids, even if just for future's sake. I haven't even been reading any of my favorite blog & I miss them - they are such a great source of encouragement & help as I travel this path. But I know I'm not the only busy momma around so I won't even bother to complain about all that's kept me away from here for so long - lol!
Baby I is already 8 1/2 months old!  She's a rockin' & a rollin' a ton of joy around here but also adding to the day to day chaos. She started crawling 3 weeks ago and is constantly giving me mini-heart attacks by pulling up all over the place and falling over & over again. Into everything, of course! Now she's starting up with the "cry until Momma picks me up" phase, which is oh, so lovely while I attempt to school. Or cook. Or anything else. Good that's she's so doggone adorable!

We are 12 weeks into the school year already! I can't believe how much the kids have learned already and I'm thrilled with how things are going.  Jefferson, now 10, is really learning how to work independently on his 5th grade work. He doesn't seem to have too much trouble with all that's on his plate this year and is making good mental connections in history, math & writing (new program - Institute for Excellence in Writing - we both LOVE it). He struggles with keeping out of the 'checklist' mentality and accepting what I plan for him to *learn* each day rather than just finish his assignment sheet.

Reagan (8.5 yo & in 3rd grade) is not working as independently or as quickly as *I* would like. But I am slowly realizing that I don't get to choose how she learns. She is doing very well at her own pace and I am seeing how wonderful it is to watch her grow! The joy on her face as she pieces together new ideas or something new clicks for her is so precious for me ... if I will just have the patience to enjoy it with her. We are still working on helping her to deal with her anxieties and her explosive behavior has slowly been decreasing (with much prayer & hard work).

Adam (almost 6) had finally started Kindergarden and at first was very excited. He still is actually - but that's only if I do everything EXACTLY as he wants me to - lol! I very much enjoy his enthusiasm at every activity. He always wants to do what Jefferson & Reagan are doing with their subjects too. He always wants to do something & gets irritated at the repetition that learning requires though. I try to tap into his creativity whenever I can - he could sit for hours coloring, cutting, & pasting!

Lincoln (almost 4) is headed to 'away' preschool 3 times each week. And this is what's keeping me sane! He is so cantancarous right now that I wonder if he'll ever grow out of his trouble making. I do believe that he is just too smart & gets bored easily. But he loves being an older brother and is still willing to help me as much as he can! He's very, very loud (we call him 'passionate' - lol!) but he's so doggone cute...

So!  On with the photos!

 (Our new 'student' computer)
 (Study of Bethoven)

 (Trouble with a capital T!)

Oh - and somewhere in the chaos of adding another baby to our lives, teaching another student, and dealing with food issues we decided to get a dog! Found her on crai*g's list and she is just perfect for our family!  No training required, very happy & friendly, and hypoallergenic (as much a dog can be anyway - she's poodle mix). We had to change her name since everyone was started to call Baby I the dog's name so now we call her Ginger - short from Gingersnap!

 Hopefully I will have a chance to write a little more at another time - as in before another 7 months pass! I really want to get hte blog updated and write more specifically about what we are covering in school this year.  But we'll see - it's kinda nuts around here!  ;-)