To Bolt or Not To Bolt?

April 30, 2012 at 8:45 pm | Posted in Horses | 3 Comments
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I had such a breakthrough recently with Locky! He’s my 10-year-old Canadian Warmblood gelding who, in the 5 years I have owned him, has somehow managed to stay pretty green. Probably has something to do with the fact that I bought him for my husband (who promptly decided he no longer wanted to learn to ride), when Michael was an infant and when Brady was just diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety disorder and needed lots of additional care and appointments. Excuses, excuses, I know, but at any rate, this horse has a lot of potential that I have yet to tap into. He also has one little teeny tiny issue that we are still working on getting over. He’s a bolter. Mostly he’s a lazy, plodding, “don’t make me” introvert, but when he’s threatened or overly frightened, he’s a double-barrel, don’t-look-back BOLTER. Yikes.

I discovered this in the first month that I owned him, when a routine mounting up turned into Locky getting a traffic cone (used for basic riding exercises) caught in his hind legs while I was throwing my right leg over his back. I never made it all the way into the saddle and though I remember holding onto both reins and pulling as hard as I could – the worst thing I could have done – I don’t remember apparently flying through the air and landing on my head/back/tailbone. This lovely episode resulted in a broken helmet, nasty concussion, bruised tailbone, and partially dislocated collarbone, which has never actually re-located. One ambulance ride to the hospital and a number of unconscious hours later, let’s just say I was a little bit afraid of Mr. Locky.

Now don’t get me wrong. I am not a timid rider. I have been riding since I was 7 years old, and I’ve done it all. Hunt seat, balance seat, saddle seat, Stock seat, jumping, barrel racing, trail guiding, competitive and distance trail riding, you name it, I’ve done it. Ok, I’ve never gotten up the guts to run a cross-country course and I’ve never had the chance to ride a reining or cutting horse, but otherwise I’ve pretty much ridden it. And my geriatric gelding (he would run me down if he knew I called him that), Diablo, has always been an absolute pistol. At 25 spankin’ years old that horse is still trying to buck me off and gallop all the way home – just for fun, of course. And although he has certainly dumped me once or twice, it seems that for the most part, no matter what he throws my way, I have the ability to stay with him. We’re talking head-throwing, crow-hopping, sideways-cantering, running-walk, pop-straight-up-in-the-air-unless-you-let-me-run-all-the-way-home kind of stuff. And it doesn’t really phase me. My body knows what his body is going to do and I just follow along, laughing at him as he tries to get the best of me and insisting that I get my way instead of vice versa.

Then here comes Locky. Big, slow, lumbering, Locky. Thump, thump go my heels into his sides. He just stands there. Push, push goes my seat. He’s a rock. Slap, slap go my reins and now he thinks, ok, maybe I’ll take a few steps, but only a few. Until just the wrong thing happens. I don’t know, the moon is full and the sky is blue and the leaves flutter just so, and suddenly, we’re bolting and I’m hanging on for dear life wondering what the heck just happened. How do you handle a horse that won’t move… until he DOES??! So Locky-Lou and I have been taking it slow. Learning some Parelli philosophy and groundwork. Taking things one step at a time. Building trust.

Then the other day, something happened that confirmed that I have been doing the right things with him. We rode briefly in the ring – Locky was unimpressed – and then we rode down the driveway, something we’ve done a few times in-hand and a few times under saddle. This time, as we neared the end of the driveway, I was careful not to touch the reins or his sides. I tried not to hold my breath and just be a passive passenger. And Locky took the lead! He walked boldly right out of the driveway and down the road – no hesitation, no looking back! So simple and stupid, really, but so exciting for me! We only went a short way, then turned around on a dirt road and headed back. I did the same thing with my seat and reins as we approached the driveway and, lo and behold, he bypassed the driveway and kept going the other way up the road! So brave! Meanwhile, I was trying not to shake in my stirrups as I kept waiting for the inevitable horse-eating chipmunk to rustle in the leaves and cause that all-too-familiar bolt. But no, we made it to the field next to the farm and began to ride the perimeter that would bring us back up to the barn.

And then it happened. Locky kept eye-balling a rusty old trailer on the edge of the field, and sure enough, the ghost of farmers past must have risen up just then because he threw a HUGE spook off to the left. Here, I have to congratulate myself. I did NOT grab both reins and pull. I held on to ONE rein and prayed.

And Locky stopped. Not only did he stop, he basically pulled himself together and did not spook again! OR bolt. He just continued on up the field and over the little stone wall into the barnyard. It seems like nothing to most horsepeople, but for us, it was a HUGE triumph! We had ventured out on our own, with no side-pounding from me or panic-stricken gallop from him. We both lived to tell about it. And I think even Locky was carrying his head just a little bit higher.

Until our next riding adventure….

xo

What is Wrong with My Mirrors?

April 23, 2012 at 8:42 pm | Posted in Beauty, The Real Housewives | 4 Comments
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Is it just me, or does everyone get dressed, look in the mirror and think they look pretty good leaving the house, only to be shocked by their later reflection in a door or window that gets them thinking, “Do I really look that fat today?” or “My pants are too short!” or “These shoes totally don’t go with this outfit!” or “Why does my hair look frizzy?”

What is wrong with my mirrors?? Why don’t I see that before I leave the house? Is there some “thin magic” in my mirror that prevents me from seeing that those pants paired with that top make me look like a kumquat? Do I think that just because I can see the bottoms of my pants that this means they are actually falling below my ankles? And does it really take just a whisper of wind to completely destroy my carefully coiffed hair? I just don’t get it.

I suppose trying to keep up with the looks of the ladies of the Real Housewives of You-Name-the-Place isn’t helping my self-image, either. Those chicks must spend 40 hours a week in the salon/spa/dentist/plastic surgeon’s office. It must be a full-time job to maintain it all. I think I’m high-maintenance, but I can’t hold a candle to those girls. I even got some veins done in my legs last year (I just couldn’t stand the look of a large varicose vein on my right leg – thank you pregnancy – so I had it removed along with a few smaller ones) and the damn things are coming back!! Those ladies must either slather their legs in make-up (spray-tans appear to be mandatory in California) or they are seeing their vascular surgeons on a weekly basis.

It’s disheartening. We’re all supposed to keep up with the Kardashians but really, who has the time? Besides, those girls give new meaning to the term “falsies”. Fake eyelashes, lips, hair, boobies and both sets of cheeks. How are the rest of us supposed to ‘keep up’?

All that said, I’d like to share a few of my favorite beauty products – some new finds, some old stand-bys. Not that I’m so fabulous, but I do work hard at this stuff and hey, I’m always looking for new ideas and recommendations, so perhaps you are, too. Feel free to add your own tips in the Comments section 🙂 .

  • I always love a good Spanx foundation garment. They are the savior of many a dress and pair of pants in my closet. But let’s face it, you can’t wear those puppies every day, and sometimes not even all day. But I have finally found a Spanx product I can wear all day and love. It’s called “Bra-llelujah”. And it is. A wonderful, stretchy, yet supportive full-coverage bra that actually holds the girls up while feelin’ fine and lookin’ good. Love it. Getting some more.
  • Bare Minerals Make-up. My love affair with this mineral foundation and eye shadow began 6 years ago when I was up in the middle of the night nursing my first-born and watching infomercials. By the way, that’s also when my love affair with the Real Housewives started, as the OC was in its first season and there were midnight and early a.m. re-runs. But I digress… It takes a little time to learn how to apply this foundation, but once you get it right it is flawless. And GOOD for your skin! So many make-up products have so much artificial and harmful junk in them, but not Bare Minerals. I am also in love with their eye-brightening eyelid foundation product called “Well-Rested”. Makes you look wide awake and alert, even when you’re not. And we all know that those of us with small children and/or high-octane careers more often than not, are not.
  • Vitamins, fish oil, and other healthy stuff you put in your body. Ok, I’m a junk-food junkie, I admit it. It is a daily battle for me not to live on Double Dutch chocolate muffins and pizza washed down with diet soda. I try to put the good things in as often as possible, but I still eat way too much sugar, salt and melted cheese. SO, I try to balance this out by taking excellent vitamins and other supplements, among them MSM (joint health and inflammation – too many falls of my horses over the years!), Coenzyme Q10 (heart & cell rejuvenation), fish oil (Omega 3’s, etc.), and spirulina (a blue-green algae with TONS of health benefits).
  • While it is important to work on beauty from the inside out, don’t skip the sunscreen and moisturizer, ok?

    This looks good, right?

Try a few of these things and I promise you’ll look even better than you already do. Or at least my magic mirrors say so.

xo

Things You Can Do

April 17, 2012 at 2:14 pm | Posted in Kids | 4 Comments
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Things you can’t do when you have a kid with anxiety:

  • Watch the news (although I wouldn’t do this in front of a typical kid, either, these days)
  • Listen to loud/raucous music
  • Turn on the radio when you are cleaning the house after he goes to bed (you might not hear him call down to make sure you’re still there for the 4,637th time, resulting in extreme panic and an unexpected visit from said child)
  • Talk about Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny before the age of 5 (“WHAT???!!! A strange guy (or giant talking rabbit) breaks into your house while you’re sleeping and brings things in and moves stuff around and you’re not supposed to see him and then you just pretend everything is ALL RIGHT???!!!”)
  • Sign them up for any type of performance (this just might be accomplished if they can wear sunglasses for the camera flashes, headphones for the loud music/clapping, and a suit of armor for all other contingencies)
  • Expect them to behave appropriately when nice people in a store say hello to them (no, clinging to my arm with your head pressed into my side so hard you’re practically breaking my rib while whining “Mooooommmmmmyyyyy!” is NOT age-appropriate for a 6-year-old)
  • Go see fireworks
  • Run back into the house for 5 seconds with the car still in the garage because you forgot your phone (not without your little darling in tow, anyway)
  • Take a shower or use the bathroom with complete privacy (they might not be in there with you, but they are certainly very close by)
  • Let them play video games with their cousins (Where should I begin? The weird characters, the violence, the noise, the distressing storylines…)
  • Go to Disneyworld (Again, where should I begin? The costumes, the crowds, the overstimulation…)

Things you can do when you have a kid with anxiety:

  • Threaten to leave them alone when you can’t get them to do what you want (sorry, but sometimes you have to pull out all the stops!)
  • Turn your head for 5 seconds in a store (they would never dare leave your side or try to hide from you)
  • Trust that they will not jump into the lake/pool/road when you are not looking (heck, they won’t even do it when you ARE looking)
  • Be pretty sure they won’t get bitten by the neighbor’s dog (they’d climb a tree rather than let the thing within 6 feet of them)
  • Know they won’t become part of the gang of rogue 6-year-olds at school (they can’t let the teacher out of their site long enough to misbehave that badly)
  • Not worry about them falling off the jungle gym (seriously, they’d  have to climb up there first)
  • Enjoy a quiet house without the constant drone of TV, radio or video games
  • Snuggle on the deck and look at the stars
  • Read lots of books together
  • Have quiet talks about important things like where the moon goes in the morning, why you can’t see angels, and how horses talk to each other
  • Love them like crazy

I love you my sweet Brady James.

xo

Anxiety Boy

April 14, 2012 at 5:29 pm | Posted in Kids | 3 Comments
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“Mommy, you’re still here, right??”

I hear this phrase 20, 30, 60 times a day, especially at night when I have just put Brady to bed. Even if I am in the next room and he can hear me moving around, even if we have just spoken 2 minutes ago, even if I have coached and counseled and cajoled him through his fear of my disappearing off the face of the earth the second he can no longer see me and he seems ok, he still repeats this phrase almost constantly throughout the day.

That’s what it is like to have a kid with anxiety.

And that is just the tip of iceberg. E-VER-Y-THING is a big deal. In Brady’s mind, a malfunctioning toy will never work again. A lost shoe is gone forever. A trip to the grocery store is enough to send him into hysterics on the off chance that he will see a neighbor whom he has decided is scary (for no reason I can see). All of these things result in instant tantrums, complete with screaming, kicking, wailing and throwing things or running away – all with absolutely no warning. We go from just fine to completely out of control in seconds flat. And once I get him through the tantrum and back on track, every little out-of-the-ordinary happening requires a lengthy explanation of what just happened and why, when it may or may not happen again, and whether or not it is truly threatening to him in any way.

Case in point: We just returned from a short trip to Maryland to visit the grandparents. On the way through the airport we passed a baggage carousel that was just about to start up, so a light began flashing and there was a loud beeping sound. Brady clapped his hands over his ears and with a contorted little face wanted to know WHAT, WHY, WHEN, HOW???????  Once I explained to him how the carousel worked, he just couldn’t let it go. He had to hear the explanation of how the lights and beeper warn people that the bags are coming off the plane over and over and over again. He couldn’t concentrate on anything else. Going through the security line was torture as Brady could not focus on taking off his coat or placing his bag on the belt or walking through the scanner. He just had to keep asking about that buzzer and light and whether or not they would go off again. Will it go off when I put my bag on the belt? No, Brady. Will it flash and beep when I walk through the scanner? (Please, God) No, Brady. Will I hear it again when we’re walking through the terminal? No, Brady. Will it happen when we’re on the plane? NO, BRADY!!!!!!!

The poor child. And his poor mother (me)!

Kids like him can sometimes be hard to love. They are constant and exhausting. Logic is of no use. The best you can do is try to re-program their anxious thoughts and give them baptism by fire – doing a little bit of the things that scare them until they realize they can manage it. But it takes SO MUCH more work than doing things with typical kids. Some days I just don’t have the strength or patience for it and I think I just can’t handle it anymore.

And then I look at his sweet little face sound asleep on his pillow, cradled against his favorite ‘blue blanket,’ and I know I just have to keep pushing on for that innocent little mind and body. Somehow we have to get through this stuff. Somehow he will make it through the scary pitfalls of riding the school bus, playing a team sport, applying to college. Somehow he will become a strong, capable, independent man. He just has to. And I just have to stay strong for him and for our family. There’s no other choice. And it’s too late to turn back now.

xo

My New BFF

April 10, 2012 at 10:48 pm | Posted in The Real Housewives | Leave a comment
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Can I just say, I totally love Heather. You know, HEATHER, from the Real Housewives of Orange County. That girl has class. And balls. And great taste. And, it appears, a great relationship with her husband. Kind of amazing for this group! She’s my current favorite. But that could change at any moment if Bravo decides to use their editing magic to suddenly make her appear to be the biggest bitch since Camille Grammar. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see…

And does anyone else have a little crushy-poo on Brooks? I know he’s no spring-chicken and probably has the saggy-man-boobs thing going on underneath his Tommy Bahamas (I have only HEARD about this from my 40-something friends currently in the dating world, thank God), but I just LOVE his southern accent (always been a sucker for Texans, too), and he seems so incredibly wrapped up in his infatuation with Vicki. The cards and the way he looks at her. It seems genuine. But Tamra thinks that he’s too perfect and can’t be trusted. So far I’m not seeing it, but then again, the accent is really getting to me so perhaps my judgement can’t be trusted!

Interesting episode tonight. Tamra almost looks good without make-up. Better than Gretchen, who I always thought was so gorgeous until I saw her going to a shoot early in the season without ANY hair or make-up done. I was really shocked – that girl is NOT a natural beauty, but she does clean up nice. And very photogenic, which is more than I can say for myself. And Alexis really surprised me with how pretty she looked without makeup when she was going in for her nose job. Of course, all the hair extensions were perfectly in place and what with the lips blown up like that, well, I guess it wasn’t a completely natural look. But she did look pretty good. I was impressed.

So now the re-run of the episode I just watched is on, and a year ago I would have been tempted to stay up even further past my bedtime to watch it again, but this year I’m just not feelin’ it. I look forward to the new episode each week, but then I have no desire to see any of them again. Is it only me? Or is the show just not all that interesting anymore? Except for my new BFF Heather? What do we think, ladies?

xo

Morning Party

April 6, 2012 at 9:43 pm | Posted in Kids | 1 Comment
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Because I have time in the morning… I get to experience stuff like this:

And what I mean by “time in the morning” is not that I’m hanging around wondering what to do with myself, what with making spirulina smoothies for the family (more on that later), putting together Brady’s lunch, prepping breakfast, breaking up the occasional brother-fight, feeding the cats (and come summer the pony, too), and basically acting as referee and general manager for the 2 1/2 hours we are all up before we have to take Brady to school. What I mean is that I don’t have to get myself ready and out the door early to get to a real job. You know, one that would include grown-up talk and fingerprint-free computer screens and clean clothes. I gave that up so that I could enjoy perks such as this one:

This morning, the boys were cooking something up. They started by actually taking themselves upstairs after breakfast, something I usually have to coax them to do. But first, they both asked for bags of Cheerios to take with them. Strange, but I was just glad they were eating something, so I obliged. Then I made a third cup of tea and scooted up the stairs to take a 5-minute shower. I usually can’t manage this in the morning, but I REALLY had to wash my hair. So a shower it was.

That’s when I noticed that the door to the boys’ room was shut. Sometimes they do this when they’re playing “apartment”, so I let it go. Suddenly, the door bursts open and out pops 6-year-old Brady, looking for the cat. “Where’s Monty?” “I don’t know, probably on my bed.” Sure enough, our fat male cat is sprawled out on my bed, owning the comforter for the time-being. This cat is so, so gentle but SO, SO OCD and destructive, I generally vacillate between cloning him and feeding him to the local pack of coyotes. But for the purposes of today, he’s his sweet, gentle, patient self, especially with two rough and tumble little boys. Somehow Brady manages to corral him into his room, and shuts the door again.

5-minute shower complete, and suddenly 3-year-old Michael is in the bathroom. “Mom, do we have any cat food that tastes like cupcakes?” “Um, no.” “Oh, GREAT!” Michael sarcastically intones. “Brady!” he yells, running back to his room, “We don’t have any!” SLAM goes the door. I have told them A MILLION TIMES not to slam that door.

Door opens again. It’s Brady. “Mommy??!” “Whaaaat?” “Do we have any cat cookies?” “I don’t think so.” “Ok, we’ll just have to make some then.” Make some? “With what, Brady?” “Play-dough!” Oh no you don’t. I can’t handle that kind of mess first thing in the morning! So I put the kibosh on the Play-dough, but they still wanted all the Play-Dough kitchen accessories. FINE, just give me 5 minutes to dry my hair. And I still wasn’t sure what they were up to…

A few minutes go by, then another door opening and bare feet slapping down the hallway. Brady again. “Mom?” “Yeah?” “Do you have your make-up on yet?” “I’m working on it.” “Oh, well, you need to put it on, because we’re having a surprise birthday party for Monty, and you’re invited.” Aaaaahhhh, now I get it. A cat birthday party. So I got right to work on my Bare Minerals foundation (love that stuff) and some sparkly green eye shadow. Hey, I know it’s only Tuesday and I’m just going to school/gymnastics/playground/errands/home/school/karate/ ice cream, but I want to wear sparkly eye shadow and I’m going to!

Said make-up complete and bathrobe still on, I knock on the ‘apartment’ door. “Oh!” I hear from within. Door opens, “Hi, Mom! Welcome to Monty’s surprise birthday party! Would you like some cookies?” The room is a complete warzone, with partially deflated balloons from last week’s birthday party covering most of the floor and about a thousand play kitchen parts and pieces strewn about, flanked by the inevitable cars and trucks that infiltrate my everyday existence. And sure enough, in the middle of it all is Monty, sprawled out on Michael’s new big-boy bed just like the king of the world. I sit down on the floor in my bathrobe and sparkly green eye shadow and I am treated to rows and rows of Cheerios (‘cookies’) served on 2″x 2″ cooking trays straight from the Play-Dough oven. We munch each Cheerio individually, as is fitting for a ‘cat cookie’, Monty snores away, and I think, there’s no way I’m going back to work any time soon.

xo

About Me

April 2, 2012 at 5:11 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Welcome – you’ve found Michelle Draghetti’s blog! This is the place where I’m going to write about my passions and pastimes: my kids (ok, maybe they’re not an actual “passion,” but they do take up most of my waking hours these days), horses (I have 3), beauty (to Botox or not to Botox?), eating and living healthier (if you take enough supplements, does that offset the pizza and martinis?), wildlife and animals in general, life in Maine (yes, including mud season) and, of course, Bravo TV’s “Real Housewives” franchise. Don’t pretend you’re not addicted to it, too. Oh, and most recently, my endeavor to write and self-publish a series of children’s books about my sweet, sweet pony’s ordeal through neglect and recovery and her new-found friend, a super-calm kitty named “Decaf Cat”.

I’m going to put it all out there, including my struggles with my oldest son’s anxiety and social issues, our good days and our bad days, and I’ll even tell you about the times I fall off of my horses instead of staying on. I’ve been riding for over 35 years and I still fall off the damn things. Some things never change…

I hope you’ll follow, enjoy, and laugh and cry with me. This is going to be fun 🙂

xo

The Real Housewives of Anywhere

April 2, 2012 at 2:07 pm | Posted in The Real Housewives | Leave a comment
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Ok, let’s discuss my fascination with Bravo’s Real Housewives of (you name the location) TV shows: basically, in a nutshell, I used to have a LIFE. I mean, I have a life, but I used to have a life filled with clients and business meetings and beautiful clothes and high heels and GOSSIP. Sweet, sweet gossip. Now I have a life filled with lunch-making and juice-pouring and toy-fixing and fight-breaking-upping and horse brushing (I’m ok with that part, really) and basically, outside of “He took my toy!” “Did you?” “NO!!” “Well, he says you did.” “I did NOT!” there is really no intrigue anymore, so in desperation, I turn to these wonderful, juicy, bitchy, gossipy shows. When my husband tries to talk to me during any episode of pretty much any Real Housewives franchise I stop him with a “SShhhhh!”, a talk-to-the-hand gesture, and a “I’m watching my girls!” This completely baffles him and he generally leaves. On bad days he sits down and tries to watch and wants to know why everyone is yelling and who’s mad at who and “What’s wrong with these women?” but really, how can you explain this to a man? So I don’t even try. He just gets another “SSShhhhhhh” followed by, “My PROGRAM is on!” and so eventually he leaves. Poor thing. But I digress…

Since this week’s episode of RHOOC was a re-run, I’m just going to resort to general questions about some of the darlings on these shows. Perhaps someone out there can help me understand some truly perplexing concerns:

  • Why doesn’t anyone tell Lisa (RHOBH) that her false eyelashes are much too big – you can totally see where they begin and end – and make her look ridiculous?
  • Why does a gay man who appears to be in it just for the fame want to marry Tamra? (Ooooh, wait, I might have just figured that one out on my own a la Kim Kardashian. Hmmmmm.)
  • Two words: Lip Implant.
  • Two more words: Tinsel Hair.
  • Is Kyle the mean girl or is it Camille? Seems to me one of them simply got a better publicist.
  • Is “Smiley” really his last name??
  • Does Vicki only employ her children and friends of her children? How much is she paying them in Kool-Aid and Ring Dings, do you think?
  • Is Heather a freak in the bed?
  • Is Phaedra a freak in the bed? Oh wait, I think we already know the answer to that one…
  • Is Nene a freak?
  • What Would Jesus Barbie Do?

If you can help feed my addiction in any way, that would be great. As always, looking forward to the next episode/re-run/marathon. And by the way, it’s very important that we get my BFF, Paula, to start watching these shows. It’s KILLING me to not be able to discuss all this with her. See what you all can do to help me out.

xo

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