Thursday, February 24, 2011

Riding in the Sunshine

It was nice to ride outside when the weather was warm.  The sunshine was nice.  The warmth was nice.  The horses were happy to be out and so were we.

Haley did exercises when she was on the horses.  They were mostly stretches.  She got really good at listening to the owner. 

She would tell her to twist and sometimes point to a side of the horse or to the back and Haley would twist.  She sometimes used the horses tail or mane to get her attention.  I don't have a picture of it, but she would even tickle Haley's nose with the horses mane.

Here Haley is bending backward for a stretch.  She would also give the horse a hug and pat them on the neck from the saddle. 

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Riding Outside the Arena

After riding around the arena for several years Haley got to ride out in the open.  The owner walked Haley around the lot where the stable was located when it was nice.  Haley loved to walk under the trees.

She liked to touch the branches and the horses liked to eat them.  This was taken in March so the leaves were young, later on on the year she really liked it when the branches were covered with leaves.

The owner had her reach out and grab the branches as part of her therapy.  Occasionally she would lean a bit too far and move in the saddle.   She would have to be adjusted several times.  The pad you see in this picture was belted on to the saddle, it was a bath mat with a non-slip surface on it.  It served to keep her in place on the saddle, notice that she is no longer tied on with rope.

I adored this riding helmet.  Haley did wear a motorcycle helmet for several years and then one day the owner brought this helmet out for her to wear.  She was just so darn cute in it.

This was Chelsea.  Chelsea was built a little differently from Lady.  She had a much different gait.  This was a cool day, but I remember when the sun would shine Haley's legs would get really warm in the sun.  She would let us know that she was done by rubbing her legs.

Notice that her feet are in the stirrups, but those hands are still not on the horn.  She still would not hold on to the reins.  I wonder what that is about, remember she won't hold the steering wheel on Grandpa's tractor either.  Hmmmm.

This is a horse that Haley loved to visit, Haley never rode this horse.  He was an old timer that was allowed to live out his days in relative idleness.  He died shortly after this picture was taken.  I explained it to Haley, but I don't know if she understood.

She missed him.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Are We Having Fun Yet?

I think Haley liked to ride horses.  I don't have that many pictures of her doing it.  Like I said, she rode horses at the stable for years, but I didn't always have my camera with me.  In all of the pictures that I took she looked like she was having a great time.

Notice how she was tied on to the saddle.

She didn't always enjoy herself.  It took a long time for her to get used to riding.  We went once a week.  Just like her other physical therapies it was work.  The movement of the horse made her body move.  It made her body work.  She didn't like it when her body worked.  She cried.  Sometimes she screamed.  The horses were so good, it didn't phase them.  Sometimes she would get on the horse and ride around the arena once and then want to get off.  We didn't let her.

Occasionally she went about half of the session and then she wanted down.  Sometimes if she had been good and she asked to get down without screaming and crying we would let her get down.  It was on those days that she would visit the other animals that lived at the stable.  There was a dog, a great big pot bellied pig, several pygmy goats, some chickens, some ducks and some cats along with all of the horses.  Haley loved to visit each one.

This is Cajun.

Haley would ride around and around on the lunge line.  The owner/therapist would stand in the middle holding the lunge line talking to the horse as well as to Haley.  These pictures were taken after Haley had been riding for a while.  When she first started the therapist would walk alongside of the horse the whole time.  Notice how Haley has a good seat on this horse even at such an young age, I was so impressed by that.

Haley would always ride over to the water barrel so that Cajun could get a drink.  Cajun didn't always want a drink, but the owner would have her do it anyway.  It gave everyone a little break and it taught Haley to think of the horses needs.

Haley always thanked the horses for letting her ride.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Little Girl, Big Horse

Haley was very tiny when she first started riding horses. 

She had no fear.  Even before she could walk Haley could climb.  She would climb up the stairs, onto chairs and even up on the kitchen table.  She didn't have a problem being up high on top of a tall horse.

The first horse that Haley rode was Lady. 

Lady was a very gentle horse. 

The owner of the stable wanted Haley to learn how to care for the horses as well as how to ride them.  When we would arrive at the stable Haley would help the owner put the saddle on the horse.  Once the horse was ready I would lift Haley get up on to the horse and the owner would guide her foot over the saddle.  She would then lead her out into the arena and I would stay on the outside of the gate.  I stood there and watched.  I occasionally answered questions, but I basically stayed out of it.  I wanted Haley to get her instruction from the owner. 

The stable owner adjusted the stirrups as far as they would go for Haley, but Haley would pull her feet out of them.

We had a hard time getting Haley to hold on to the horn or the reins.  She had a little figurine in each hand.  I wanted to take them from her but the owner/therapist thought that they were a comfort item for her and so she wanted her to keep them.  She seemed fixated on them most of the time.

The therapist would guide Haley through several exercises while she was on the horse.  I was already a bit nervous that Haley wouldn't hold on to the horn and then here she was with her arms up over her head.

At the end of her ride I would lift Haley down from the horse and she would pet the horses nose and say "Thank You" for the ride.  We would lead the horse back out of the arena and Haley would help brush the horse after the owner removed the saddle, then she would put the brush away.  Sometimes Haley would help them feed the horses. 

Just before we left Haley would say "Goodbye" to the horses and the owner.

Friday, February 18, 2011


I have been thinking about the years that Haley rode horses lately. 

Not only was I reminded of them by her Yoga sessions and her superior core strength, but at Confirmation class this week we talked about horse riding.  Haley had with her two of her Schleich horses. 

No surprise there. 

Pastor asked Haley if her horses had special meaning, did they represent actual horses?  One of them she was carrying did.  She had Chelsea and Shire.  I told him about Chelsea, about how she had ridden a horse that looked just like her and that she was named after that horse.  That got us into a discussion about Haley's experiences with Hippotherapy. 

Kids asked questions, they were interested.

We also talked about the Shire horse and the fact that Pastor had experience with big draft horses when he was a kid.  We found out that his grandpa had a tree farm too.  It was kind of neat, Haley shares something with everyone in the class.  They had all ridden horses at some point in there young lives, but none of them had ridden as much as Haley.

Haley's physical therapist had suggested to me that I try Hippotherapy for Haley to increase her core strength when she was about three.  I started taking Haley to a stable that was just getting started in Hippotherapy, they had several clients and they were building their business.  During the time that we took Haley there they improved the stable and built a ramp so that kids could get on the horses easier. 

Haley was very small when she started and the horses were very big.  I was a bit worried that she might fall off of the horses or get bucked off.  I didn't need to worry, that never happened in all the years that she rode. 

I have decided that the next several blogs will be about Haley's Hippotherapy.

Thursday, February 17, 2011


Haley's Yoga Instructor Jennie is amazed by Haley.  So am I.

Haley had another Yoga session this week and she did really well.  Her instructor has picture cards that she uses to show Haley each pose.  They are very similar to what they use in school with her.  Haley's Yoga instructor has some experience teaching kids with specials needs.

Jennie showed Haley five folders at the beginning of her class.  Each folder had four or five poses in it.  She would show Haley the picture of the pose (hand drawn stick figures) and explain what the pose was and then ask Haley to try it. 

My favorite was the cat.

She showed Haley the drawing that she had made.  It was a person doing the cat pose, but she had drawn on cat ears and a tail.  It was cute.  The word cat was written above it.  She pointed to the picture and asked Haley what she thought it was. 

Haley was answering, but oh so quietly.  I think that the instructor could hear her, but I couldn't. 

Haley immediately went in to the cat pose.  From what I could tell it was a perfect cat pose.  Jennie said "Haley, you are amazing!"  She said "That was such a good cat pose, can you do a cow pose?" 

A cow pose is very similar to a cat pose.  In a cat pose the back is arched and the belly is brought up, in a cow pose the belly is brought down and the back is concave. 

Haley did it.

Like I said, it appears that Haley has done Yoga before, I just didn't know it.

Jennie asked Haley to do another pose later on in the session and Haley did it, but a little differently than she had intended.  Haley had chosen to do a more difficult pose.   Jennie just kept saying that she was amazing.  She said that a lot of adults can't even do what she was doing.  Jennie said she was a bit jealous of her flexibility and her trunk strength.  That amazed me.

Trunk strength is something that Haley has not always had.

Haley didn't walk until she was about two and a half.  She had a general lack of muscle strength in her whole body.  Her physical therapist recommended to us to have her try hippotherapy when she was very small.  The whole concept of riding horses as therapy is that the horses gait goes so well with a human that it strengthens the core muscles just by riding. 

Back when Haley started riding horses, before she could really walk very well, if someone had told me that at thirteen not only would she be doing Yoga, but that she would be impressing her intructor I certainly wouldn't have believed it. 

Here we are though and that is exactly what is happening.


Friday, February 11, 2011

First Confirmation Class

I am taking Haley to Confirmation classes at my church.

Our Pastor is happy to have her.  His former church had a very active special needs community and he has been very supportive of those with special needs.

The kids in her class are great.  There are about six or seven of them and they have seen Haley in the church and at different events throughout her life.

They had an ice-breaker that involved Skittles.  Skittles are some of Haley's favorite candies, so she was happy.

She is very shy so she doesn't talk, but it is my hope that she is listening.

The pastor handed out papers that the kids were supposed to fill out as he talked.  I wrote the words for Haley and she traced the letters.

She took a small wooden cross from the a box on the office desk on our way out.

Afterward I asked her if she liked the class at church.  She said "Yeah." 

"Do you want to go back next week?"


Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Purpose of Chores

I often ask myself why I want my child to do chores, especially when it is like pulling teeth to get her to do them. 

Do I need the help?  Do I think it is unfair that the adults in the house do everything?  Am I trying to teach her responsibility?

Yes, yes and yes.

I am not talking about Haley.

We don't expect Haley to do chores.  When she does something it is usually out of "the kindness of her heart" and we appreciate that.  We have tied chores to a reward.  It worked pretty well, but even the reward, although something that she wanted wasn't really the point.

I think Haley is at the age that she wants to help.  It makes her feel important.  It makes her like one of us. 

It makes my day.

Her Big Sis is another story.

One of her jobs is to set the table.  We generally eat dinner at the same time every night.  There are exceptions to that and when there are I usually let her know.  If she has plans to be somewhere at dinner time we let it slide, but if we are all home I expect her to set the table just before dinner.  I have even told her that she can set it as soon as she gets home from school, if she wants to get it out of the way.  I just want her to do it, because she knows it is her job and it needs to be done.  Every night I have to ask her to do it.

I usually have to ask her several times.

The other night Haley came up to me while I was cooking.  She looked in each pot and bowl and pan and wanted to know what I was making.  I explained our meal to her and I told her that it was almost done.  She seemed satisfied and started to walk away. 

I said "Can you ask your sister to set the table?" 

Her sister was sitting on the couch so I knew that she would hear me, I just thought that it would be a good way for Haley to practice asking someone else for something. 

Other than me.

I heard plates rattling in the cupboard and turned around.  She didn't ask her sister to set the table.  She was going to do it herself.

She tried to pick up a stack of plates.  I said "Pick up one at a time, please."  She did.  She took a plate out of the cupboard and put it on the table and then she came back for the next one.   She did that for each plate.  When she had put the last plate on the table her sister said "Put the forks on." 

Such a helpful child.

Haley went to the silverware drawer and started shuffling the forks around.  I said "You only need four forks Haley."  She kept shuffling.  "Count out four forks."  She grabbed  all of the forks and walked over to the table.  She put a fork next to each plate and then put the rest of the forks back in the drawer.

I said "Thank you Haley."

She said "Good job."

"Yes, you did a very good job."

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Yoga for All

On Monday night I took Haley to her first Yoga class.

Well, it was the first Yoga class that I had ever taken her to, but it did seem as if she had some experience with Yoga. 

Haley did really well.

The teacher told her what she was going to do before she did it and she asked her if it was OK to touch her before she touched her.  Haley didn't really talk much.  She kind of whispered her answers and the teacher took most of them as positive.  She listened to her teacher. She seemed completely relaxed. The teacher even touched her feet and Haley didn't flinch.

It was really kind of amazing to watch.

She had her rolling on to her stomach.  Bending her legs and straightening them again.  I think I even could tell that her breathing changed. 

Haley seemed to know what to do.  The teacher asked her if she had Yoga in school.  Haley said "Yeah."  I believed her.  She did some poses that I find difficult. 

She did a really beautiful cobra pose.

Haley seemed truly relaxed by the end of the session and to tell the truth so was I.

I hope to take Haley once a week.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Pedal to the Metal

We were at Grandma and Grandpa's house for a short visit this last weekend.  I knew it was going to be short.  We planned to leave their house early on Sunday morning so that we would be home in time to watch the Super Bowl.

It usually takes Haley several days to get comfortable at Grandma and Grandpa's house.

She didn't have several days.

I whispered into her ear a couple of times that if she wanted to ride Grandpa's tractor she had better go and ask him.  I knew she wanted to.  Whenever we go to their house she wants to. 

It's a big deal.

Finally I got her to come with me and walk up to Grandpa.  I asked her to repeat after me.  I tried to get her to ask him if she could ride the tractor.  This weekend she was the quietest she had ever been around them.

I think she left her voice in the Yukon.

I ended up asking him myself and then asking Haley to agree with me.

That was when Grandpa reminded me that it was really getting hard to have her ride on his lap because of her long legs.  I had forgotten all about that.  He said "I don't know what we we're going to do."  I reminded him that we had talked about Grandma riding with her.  He said he would try it one more time, but if it didn't work that we would have to talk about it.

He told Haley that he needed to get the tractor ready and then he would bring it around to the house.

We got her shoes and jacket on.  We put on a pair of gloves.  We saw the tractor come around the corner and Haley headed out the door.  Grandpa stopped the tractor.  He got off and put a pair of sound attenuating earmuffs on her.

Grandpa helped her up into the seat.  He adjusted it up for her.  I remembered that he had mentioned that the seat needed a certain amount of weight on it or it would trip the safety switch.  It looked like she weighted it down enough.  He sat on the wheel well on the brake side and tried to explain to her that she could push on the gas pedal with her foot.

She just sat there.

I grabbed my coat and put my shoes on and headed out the door.

I walked around to the gas pedal side of the tractor and lifted her foot up.  I placed it on the pedal.  I pushed her foot just a little bit and the tractor moved forward a few inches.  She took her foot off.  I looked at her face.  She seemed to understand that she had done that. 

I put her foot back on the pedal and pushed her foot again.  She smiled when the tractor responded.  I told her to try it again.  She lifted her foot to the pedal and rested it there. 

Nothing happened.

I told her to push and I motioned with  my hands to push down.  She pushed her hand in the air, just like I had.

I walked up and pushed her foot again.

This time she got it and the tractor moved about two feet before she lifted her foot off again. 

By this time the tractor was almost onto the grass.  Grandpa told her to put her foot on the back pedal.  She didn't move.  I walked up and lifted her foot onto the back pedal and stepped back.  She pushed and the tractor went about four feet backward.  After that Haley was able to make the tractor go back and forth several times. 

Grandpa steered.

Eventually she was able to make the tractor go down the driveway and back with me walking along side.  Every once in a while I would have to remind her to push or to move her foot to the correct pedal, but she was doing it. 

She even lifted her foot off of the pedal when her Grandpa said "Stop."  I let him be in charge of that. 

I was so impressed and so proud.

She still would not hold on to the steering wheel and so consequently wouldn't steer, but I am so happy that we found a way that she can still ride the tractor with her Grandpa.

Friday, February 4, 2011


My sister is going to have a baby girl.  We are expecting her in April.  I am very excited. 

I told Haley about her a couple of weeks ago.  She immediately went to the "magic white board" erased everything and wanted me to write Don, Grandma C, Amy and Baby Nola.

She checks it everyday.  She reads the names out loud, then she says things like "Awww..., cute, hug, love."

She has added other words under those names, and sometimes erases them and writes new things, but those four names stay.

I think she is excited too.

Haley doesn't have any experience with babies.  The last time she was around a baby she was pretty much a baby herself.  Our neighbors have a granddaughter that is around occasionally and Haley thinks she is cute, but she has never touched a baby or held one. 

I can't wait to share that experience with her.  I know she will be gentle, she is extremely gentle with animals.

Yesterday Haley got a haircut.  On the way home from her haircut, in the back seat, she said "Montana."  It seemed kind of random to me, but I let it go.  Later in the kitchen she went to The Board and wanted me to write Montana.  I did.  Then she jumped up and down and said "Yay!" 

I decided it was time to nip this is the bud.

I said "Haley, we are not going to Montana."  She gave me a look that said she was disappointed, but also that she was confused. 

I gathered that she had seen her Dad packing his camera gear.  Whenever Dad starts packing his camera gear she gets ideas.

I said "We are not going to Montana, but we are going somewhere.  Would you like to go to Grandma and Grandpas house?"


She started jumping up and down, then she ran over to the refrigerator and erased the whole board.  She got a pen and said "G. O. Grandpa. Grandma. Heather."  I wrote those things for her. 

Then she was off to start packing.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Get It Right, Mom

There was no school yesterday.

My oldest daughter and I both took advantage of that and slept in.

My husband works from home full time now, it started yesterday.  I knew Haley would get up and go about her business.  I assumed she would probably be on the laptop when I got up.

She was.

I decided to make muffins.  We waited for them to cool and then we ate some.  I sat down at the computer and sent a few emails.  Then my husband came downstairs and said he was going to go for a walk. 

Then the phone rang and he was once again engaged.

I told Haley that I was going to take my shower, kissed her on the head and headed upstairs.

When I came out of the shower.  Haley was standing there with a pair of jeans and a t-shirt in her hands.  "Walk," she said.

Oh crap.

She knew her Dad wanted to go for a walk and she assumed that she would go with him.  The thing was that I had figured out by then that he had already left.  I told her that I needed to get dressed and then we would get her dressed.

She wouldn't be denied.  We were going for a walk.

I got her dressed and put her shoes and coat on her and then went to the closet to get my shoes.  She got her purse and headed for the garage.  I told her that we weren't driving, we were walking.  I took her purse and set it down on the floor and gently pushed her to the front door.  We headed out.  She didn't complain, but I know my daughter and I could tell by her body language that she was not happy.

We walked around the block.  We saw a dog.  It barked at us, at first she jumped and was a little scared.  I said "Oh, look at the puppy."  She said, "Oh, cute puppy."  We laughed and had a little conversation about the puppy. 

She was carrying her iPod, a song came on that she likes and she started signing to it.  I sang along.  I deluded myself into thinking that she was enjoying her walk.  As we turned at the next corner she said "Walk." 

I said "We are walking."  She started protesting and said "Walk" about six more times.  Each time the volume went up just a little bit. 

Then she said "Road."  I turned and looked at her.  The look on her face was very serious. 

She said, "Road," again. 

"You want to walk on the road?" 


"Haley, you want to walk on the road by the river so that you can see the train tracks, don't you?" 


I knew that.  I wasn't just guessing, but I was really impressed by the choice of word.  Road.  That is really awesome!  She got her point across.  That is what words are for.  I was so proud of her. 

I didn't want to go to the river though.  I am not always accommodating to her.  I told her that we would walk down by the river after lunch.  She wasn't happy with me, but she accepted it.

We ended up going for that walk around 3:00 pm.  Her Dad went with us.  It was really cold, the wind was coming off of the water.  We didn't walk the whole way, we walked about half the distance we usually do and I gave up.  We headed back.

Haley got to see her train.

She was happy.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Timon, Pumba and the Goats

Back when Haley decided that we were going to the Zoo she had me write three words on the "magic white board."  Timon.  Pumba. Goats.

I knew that Timon and Pumba were the meerkats and the warthogs.  That was easy.  The goats I wasn't too sure about.  I told her that there might be goats in the barn - our zoo has a family farm exhibit that has rotating farm animals like sheep, pigs, cows and chickens.  It kind of cracks me up, but I guess it is the Big City and some kids may not get exposed to a farm.  I grew up on one so it seems weird to have them at the zoo.

The zoo is for exotic animals.

Sometimes the zoo has a petting zoo that has pygmy goats in it.  Haley has only been in the petting zoo once in her life and it was a long time ago.  I didn't think that was what she was talking about.

To pick up the story where I left off, we got out of the elevator and walked to the Zoo.  Haley got excited again.  This is where she wanted to be.  There was no line so we went up to get our tickets.  My husband took Haley into the entrance, there is a whole section that you can walk around in before they will check your ticket.

I caught up to them and I finally realized what she was talking about.  I had totally forgotten about the Mountain Goats at the entrance.  Haley didn't.  That is what she came for.  She was so excited.  We were lucky because the mountain goats were out walking around.  It was the first of many animals that we would see in action.  It was cold.  All of the cold weather animals were happy.

We tend to go to the zoo in the summer.  A lot of the animals just lay around in the warm weather.  Today they were very active.

When Haley goes to the zoo she has an agenda.  She knows what she wants to see.  She usually names an animal like the giraffes and then won't stop talking about the giraffes until she sees them.  Today of course she was interested in seeing Timon and Pumba.  She took off like a shot.

The bears were active.  Haley's Big Sis and I wanted to stand still and watch them.  Haley was on to the next thing.  She didn't stand still and look at anything.  Her Dad and I took turns following her around the zoo.

At every animal we stopped at she would announce the next animal she wanted to see and she was off again. 

We almost lost her in the bats.  We were all watching the bats and next thing I knew Haley's Big Sis yelled "Haley!" and took off.  I looked around and didn't see her at all.  She was around the corner and gone.

Those long legs of hers were going to be the death of me.

Haley finally got to see Pumba.  Timon was in another area of the zoo.

Then there was the other thing, besides the animals that Haley has to see.  The Zoo Train.  We could here it.  We saw it pass in the distance a couple of times.  We had tickets to ride it. 

After we saw all of the animals that Haley wanted to see the only thing left for her was to ride the train.  Once that was done, she was done. 

We wanted to go see a couple of the more active animals again, but Haley just wanted stand and stare at the train, so her sister and I let her do that while we visited a few more animals.

Then Haley had a fit. 

I couldn't really figure out what she wanted.  She started yelling random things like, "Leopard." "Train."  "Animals."  It went on and on. 

I didn't understand. 

Her Dad said that he thought she had just reached overload and it was time to go. 

She heard that and said, "Store."  We can't leave the zoo without visiting the Gift Shop.  Haley had brought some of her Christmas money and she wanted to shop.

She was prepared to buy every small plastic animal they had in the shop, but I helped her narrow it down to a lioness and a baby zebra.  She wanted to get the mama zebra too, but her sister reminded her that she already had one.  She still wanted it, but I asked her sister to put it back.

Then we got back on Max and headed home.  She seemed to like the ride back a little better than the ride down.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011


There is a whole lotta kissin' goin' on around here.

For a long time Haley didn't really know what a kiss was.  She confused hugging and kissing.  I would ask her for a kiss and she would lean into me for one of her famous side or back hugs.  She never kissed me of her own accord.

She received a lot of kisses and she never complained, but she didn't give them.

A little while back she started giving our cat Shadow kisses.  She would say "Kiss" and then put her face into the fur on his side.  It still resembled a hug.  Then one day I heard the smack.  She had actually put her lips together and made a kissing sound.

Now Shadow gets kisses all the time.  She visits him in his room (the laundry room) I hear the smack and then as she walks out of the room and closes the doors she says "Kiss.  Awwww."

I have to kiss Haley's little animals.  She will hold them up to my face.  If they are facing me it means I need to give them a kiss.  I usually don't touch the animal, I just make a smacking sound and she is happy. 

Her Dad doesn't participate.  If she holds an animal up to him he gives the animal a fist bump, which means he holds his fist up to the animal's face.  The fist bump thing is something that goes on between Haley and her Dad.  I give Haley high fives when she does something well, her Dad gives her fist bumps.

Haley loves her newest acquisition, a lioness that she got at the Zoo gift shop.  We call her Nala.  Nala gets kisses.  Haley will actually kiss Nala over and over again.  Smooch, smooch, smooch.  Smack, smack, smack. It is the cutest thing.

I will hear the smooching going on from another room.

I heard it a little earlier and I looked in.  Shadow was on the receiving end of those kisses.  I asked her if I could have one. 

She leaned in with lips pursed. 

I kissed her.

It's a start.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...