The Story of Dancer

The night before my beloved horse Dancer was scheduled to be euthanized, I came home to a deep freeze that had been mysteriously unplugged.  Normally this would have sent me into a panic or at least given me a reason to go on a twitter rant for a few ranging “how the hell did this happen!” tweets.  Instead, I was thankful to have something I could follow a logical path and methodically fix.  Piece by piece, I picked the warm and soggy food out and placed it into garbage bags.  Scoop by scoop, I took out the liquefied lemon and cherry juice that had leaked out of the bags and dumped it down the drain.  Wipe by wipe I cleaned out the remnants of food littering the bottom and sanitized the inside.  But when I was done, there was no feeling of accomplishment. Instead the sadness crept back in.  Logic had helped me to clean the freezer but there was no logic that would help me heal my heart.

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I got Dancer when I was 25 years old, newly married and newly owner of 5 acres on the side of a hill. While I knew when I married Steve that kids were in his “marriage contract”, he knew that a horse was in mine.  We were property rich but trying to scrimp and save to build our house so cash poor.  When my friend mentioned that her friend had a horse for sale I mentioned it to my parents.  My mom, a horse lover herself, told me she would buy it for me.  How lucky could I be?  When I rode him, I was hooked.  Dancer was a Peruvian Paso and they are one of the smoothest rides out there.  It’s like sitting on a flying carpet.

Of course, being the ignorant 1st time horse owner I was, I didn’t think to ask questions when the horse I rode was dripping with sweat even though it was in the middle of winter.  When I got him home, I quickly found out that this horse didn’t want to be caught for his life, hated to have his foot picked up, and was hugely barn/herd sour.  BUT, his sweetness couldn’t be denied.  He loved to be loved on and loved to be with people.  Up until the day he passed, when the family wasn’t home, I would go down and just sit with him in the pasture.  He would hang his head by me with his eyes half closed and we would just breath.

Over the next few years he and I would create a huge bond.  We never did end up doing a ton of riding but when we did it was wonderful (after we worked through the barn/herd bound issue).  Then he went a little lame…  After some off and on healing/not healing, he was diagnosed with DSLD (Digital Suspensory Ligament Disease), a hereditary disease common in Peruvians (and other breeds).  I was devastated.  No more riding and a possible short time frame before it would get too bad for him to go on.  I stopped riding, used the recommended supplements, changed his diet, and generally allowed him to be a happy pasture potato. That was 10 years ago.

At the ripe age of 22, he started to once again seem stiff and not move as much as before.  Even with joint supplements, slowly over the next few years, his quality of life decreased as the DSLD got worse.  Finally, a few weeks ago he dislocated his pastern bone and despite my best efforts to help him, I knew he would never get better.  This is where the logic of medical options did not help me and only my heart knew what to do.  This is the responsibility we take on as animal caretakers as hard as it is on our hearts.

Dancer was my companion for 14 years.  He was my friend and my confidant in a way only he could be.  I can only hope that I gave him the life he deserved and the pain free ending he needed.

My view on so many lovely evenings

 

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For My Girls: #4

No man will love you like your Dad, but try and find one that treats you as well as he does.  Strike that, don’t try, DO.

Dad

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For My Girls: #3

Your being smart should be a turn on for the guy you’re with.  If it’s not, dump him like yesterday’s trash.  He’s not worth it.

Dump

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For My Girls: #2

You are intelligent.   Don’t EVER let anyone convince you otherwise.

Smart

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For My Girls: #1

This is the 1st in a series I’m planning on posting each Monday morning.  It’s taken from an ongoing list I’ve been keeping in my diary over the last year detailing advice from an “old, experienced, married lady” to my daughters.  It was started for slightly morbid reasons as a way to give my daughters advice about life on the teeny tiny horrible chance I’m not around to see them grow up (told you it was a bit morbid).  The other reason is I figured as teenagers they would most likely sneak peeks at my diaries and it was a possible way to get them to actually listen to me.  😉  I’ve included my slightly cheesy stick figure drawings because, why not?

High heals are pretty and can make your legs look great.  BUT, they also kill your feet and limit your movement.  Keep them for special occasions only.  It makes them special and will save your feet when your older (trust me).

High Heals

 

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Just the Two of Us…

 

Rose and I attended our 1st “Two of Us” camp at the Girl Scout Camp Menzies last week.  It was Rose’s 1st experience at camp and the 1st in a looooong time for me.  The only thing I really remember about the bible camp I attended as a kid was the stomach flu that swept though the campers. Ew.

I’m fairly sure that my outgoing, older girl loving, friend gathering, kid would do fine on her own but I selfishly wanted to share in her 1st camp experience.  Luckily our local Girl Scout camp has a parent/child week where you can come and have the camp experience with your daughter.

 She only deemed to sit once with me at the campfire.  Then it was all about the friends.

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We did crafts (Rose’s only breakdown was when I told her she couldn’t make her lanyard while walking down a steep rocky trail), canoeing (and canoe water fights), horseback riding (I got the ex packhorse that didn’t want to go unless nose deep in the horse in front of him), slept under the stars (and woke up drenched with dew), sung songs (and more song and even more songs), ate good food (except the one night the cook must have had off and everything was burnt/dry), and made friends (both of us).

Holding my coffee cup to get warm after sleeping under the stars

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I learned how to make a friendship bracelets, lanyards, lots of new songs, how easily little girls are distracted when there are tiny frogs hopping about in the grass, and how to accidentally soak your daughter’s back during a canoe water fight.

Soooo many lanyards…

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The other moms (and the few dads) there formed a sort of comradery as our daughters reached various stages of exhaustion/over stimulation and broke down.  It was a little heartening to see just about all of them reach that point and know it’s not just my daughter that had to cry it out in the shower stall because “mom’s mean”.  It must be tough for these little girls to have to be “on” all day for 4 days.  So many kids and counselors and adults to impress is exhausting.  Luckily for me, Rose reached the breaking point after the 1st full day and was fabulous the rest of the time.  I did have to tell her a few times that when she goes back next year without me, the counselors WILL tell her what to do and keep her on track and make her go to bed.  I’m still not sure she believes me.  lol!

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In the end, I think Rose liked me being there about 70% of the time.  I call that a win and can’t wait to go back.

 

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Will the Live Action Beauty and the Beast be an Inspiration to Young Girls?

I saw the teaser trailer for the new live action Beauty and the Beast this morning (shown above) and it’s twinged my feminist radar.  Regular readers of my blog know that after the birth of my daughters I’ve become more and more of a feminist.  Not the exactly the bra burning type but more towards making sure the influences in my girls lives don’t subtly tell them they are less than a man.  This extends from the toys they play with, the books they read, and the movies they watch.  I don’t need to be a research scientist to know that watching a princess wait around to be rescued over and over again will give any girl a complex.

Two years ago I saw an advanced screening of Disney’s live action Cinderella movie.  After I got past the beauty of the set and costumes, I realized that poor little Cinderella was still stuck in the Dark Ages in terms of using her own strengths to rescue herself.

Then I heard about Emma Watson staring in a live action version of Beauty and the Beast.  The cartoon it’s based on already has a lot more going for it in terms of strong female characters.  Belle is surprisingly independent for an early Disney princess between staying strong to her beliefs and fighting to save her father and the beast.  On top of that, the fact that Emma Watson is Belle will hopefully guarantee that the writer/director will not be allowed to make her character too subservient/helpless.  Emma is a outspoken feminist herself having helped launch the UNs HeForShe campaign.  It would be hard to imagine that she would tie herself to a movie that was anti-feminist in any way.

So Disney, please don’t let me down again.  Please have listened to people like me that complained about the message Cinderella was telling our young girls.  Please have Belle be the strong independent woman I know she can be portrayed to be.

And while your at it, can you make the new live action Tinkerbell movie have an engineering minded Tink and not just a funny fluffy headed fairy?  Pretty please?

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Engineering is Cool #2: Rube Goldberg Devices

Girl Scouts Rube Goldberg

I recently had my daughter’s Girl Scout troop build Rube Goldberg devices as a meeting activity.  They utilized an assortment of toys I’d brought from home to shove a little ducky off the table.  The activity counted towards the Brownie’s Inventor badge and I was able to find a very cute fun patch for everyone that participated.   The ingenuity of the the girls when it came to creating something was fabulous.

I had made a very simple device as an example and was very happy to see that they didn’t just copy me.  The group I was “coaching” didn’t need any coaching at all.  They put things together, tried it, then made modifications to make it better.  The engineer in me was so proud!  When we do this again (and we will definitely do it again) I’m going to make sure we have the entire meeting to create because the girls were all very bummed when we moved on to a different activity.  I also need to come up with lesson verbiage that they can understand which describes the transferring of forces that occurs.  A teacher I am not!  The most difficult part was keeping the younger siblings from running off with all the toys.  They didn’t understand why they couldn’t play with them all.  😉

Rube Goldberg devices are fascinating to watch.  The physics behind the transference of forces without additional outside stimulation is so cool to see.  I think I’ve watched the one in the video above about 20 times.  Magnets are fascinating and to see them implemented like this is awesome.  The use of balls of different mass mixed with the magnets is so simple yet so clever.  I highly suggest clicking to this guys You Tube site and getting lost in the videos he’s posted.

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How TV Movies and Moms Have Changed Over the Years (Guest Post)

Today’s Guest Post by the bloggers over at Sheri’s Berries is a fascinating study on the evolution of TV moms and is perfectly times for Sunday’s celebration of mothers. 

For many, the idea of a perfect family was quite simple, especially if they grew up watching shows like Leave it to Beaver and I love Lucy: a stay at home wife who took care of the household duties. But as the years went by, mothers started to take on new roles. By the 90s most of the TV and film moms were employed while still taking care of their household.
Shari’s Berries got really curious on the subject and researched the evolution of TV and movie moms starting with the 20s. It includes data about marital and employment status, the average amount of kids and even some fashion trends.

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It was common to see stay at home moms in the 1940s, as their primary duties were taking care of all the household and making sure kids got a delicious home cooked meal. Few such as Doris Walker in A Miracle on 34th Street stood out as a working mother.  As the years went by, there was a rise in the amount of mothers who held jobs—and even those who owned their own business—while still maintaining a household.

There is one trend that hasn’t changed much: martial status. Although we started seeing more divorces in the 1970s (along with widowed and single mothers), it seems seeing a pair raise children is still very popular in TV today. Of course, it’s important to note that some of these moms’ marital status changed as the show or as the movie progressed.

Perhaps the most interesting data we came across was the changing roles of moms in TV and movies. While being a housewife remained popular in all of the decades, by the 2000s we saw a large number of full time lawyers, doctors, talk show hosts and some in the process of retiring. Let’s not forget that there were also witches, vampires, fugitives, which of course fall into the “other” category.

How many kids can a mom handle nowadays? It seems as though the years have stuck with one or two as the most popular. But in the 80s we had mothers with a lot more kids. Carla Tortelli in Cheers had eight, while Claire Huxtable had five and still held full-time jobs. Talk about a super mom!

It’s never a good idea to ask mom what her weight is, but thin was very popular in the 40s. As the decades went by, we saw a rise in average-sized women on TV that continues today. Cheers to curvy women! Our favorites include Good Times’s Florida Evans and Maria Portokalos from My Big Fat Greek Wedding.

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Have you ever dressed up as your favorite TV or movie character? If so, you’ll realize that one of the most important part of the costume is the hair. So many iconic characters are recognized for it: Marge Simpson, Peggy Bundy, Katie Bueller—the list is endless. As time goes by, we see more of a classic, long wavy look.

Which era did you grow up in, and what TV and movie do you remember most?

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I Wasn’t a Feminist Until I Had Daughters

You would think as a advanced degree holding Mechanical Engineer I would also automatically be a card carrying feminist. Well it may be true now, but it wasn’t a few years ago.  Sure I chose a profession that was predominantly male but it was only because I always liked finding out how things worked.  Sure my classes in college (*cough* 20 year ago) were on average 15% female but the male students never treated me differently (ok there was flirting but hey it was college).  Sure, I still go to conferences or work with larger companies and I’m surrounded by mostly men.  BUT, I can’t say I ever felt strongly discriminated against.  The men have treated me like what I am, another engineer.

Now, working at a tiny company and not having to deal with hoards of male engineers and managers all day I can say that I’m lucky.  I know women who have had to deal with a lot of crap STILL in this industry so I’m not saying that discrimination isn’t out there, just that I haven’t had to deal with it.  Plus, I married a man who I feel truly thinks of me as his equal.  This meant that I could stay in my little bubble and not have to think about it.

Then I had daughters…

Having daughters changed everything.  Suddenly all the sexist things that I had ignored were a big deal.  The parade of pink useless toys down every “girl” toy aisle was appalling.  The movies marketed to my kids were full of anti-feminist messages.  I discovered a shortage in good STEM books that would appeal to and inspire young girls.  The older my daughters got, the more of an outspoken feminist I became (and the more my blog posts moved away from the fluffy kid stuff).  I knew to ignore the often subtle sexist messages but would my daughters?  Or would they grow up feeling just not quite as smart/strong/funny/equal to a man?

So I’m not actually a card carrying member of the ACLU but I am one of SWE (Society of Women Engineers) and I’ve started a Girl Scout troop (with my awesome husband) where we focus on more than crafts and fluffy stuff but throw in a lot of science and girl power lessons.

And most importantly, I tell my girls every day how smart and strong and clever and funny and wonderful they are.  They are our next generation of leaders and I want to see them excel.

I wasn’t a feminist before I had daughters, but now I would proudly shout it from the roof tops if it helps them to be successful both in their professional and (almost more importantly) personal lives.

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Filed under Engineering, Female Empowerment, Girl Scouts, Motherhood, parenthood, STEM