Bathtub therapy for a rough SPD day

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On days like this, I really wish I could just snap my fingers and make the Sensory Processing Disorder go away.  I wish I could take the pain and the struggle away from my daughter and take it upon myself.  I would do that in a heartbeat for her, as I know most moms would.  The day started like any other with my sweet 7 year old daughter bounding down the stairs to say good morning to me and our new puppy, even if I did have to remind her to greet people before animals. What can I say? She’s an animal lover to the core!

After breakfast she went off to do her morning chores – getting dressed, feeding her pets, brushing her teeth, etc.  About 30 minutes later, I went upstairs to check on her and found her in tears sitting on the floor in her room surrounded by a dozen or so pairs of pants.

She looked at me with her sad eyes and said “None of these pants feel comfortable today!”.  Her favorite blue jeans (with the patched knees) are in the laundry after being worn for 2 weeks straight.  If I didn’t wash them today, they were going to start walking themselves. I was hoping she’d find a pair of comfy sweats to throw on until I can get the jeans washed & dried.

No such luck.

She was doing all the right things, and was working hard to solve the problem herself without getting angry.  She was rubbing her legs in an attempt to desensitize them & doing her exercises, but her body was failing her.  She was heartbroken and dejected, looking to me for a solution.  A solution I didn’t have.  I can’t magically make the clothes that felt fine last week feel fine today.  I wish I could.  All I can do is offer options. 

“Did you try the brown sweats?” – The seams were itchy

“How about your light blue jeans that you love?” – They didn’t feel right today

“Let’s try your thermal pants because those are tight and snug and can provide pressure while you watch a movie” – Those almost worked, but then her feet felt funny.

Suddenly it hit me! It’s BATHTIME! 

(She needed one anyway, and a benefit to homeschooling is that we can take one in the middle of the day.)

Water ALWAYS works for her! I wish we could afford a house with a pool in the backyard because she is a different person in the water, but the bathtub will have to do for now.  We ran her a nice warm bath with some bubbles, gave her some toys to play with and shampoo bottles for ‘experiments’ and she was good to go! As of this moment she’s been in there for almost an hour, and she’ll likely stay another hour if I let her (and add more warm water). 

After she gets out, I bet the clothes will feel better and we’ll relax with a snack and a movie.  Homeschooling can wait until the afternoon today.

Lovebug was published!

Several months ago, Lovebug came to me with a joke she had written and wanted to submit to Highlights, a magazine for children.

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We mailed it off and then today, almost 10 months later, we received this in the mail:

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Sure enough, on page 38, her joke was published!  Look at #7!

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So proud of my girl!

Handwriting has always been her hardest subject due to fine motor skills and her perfectionism, so this is HUGE!  She did this all on her own & actually had FUN writing!  It makes my heart happy!

Fall Fun Times

AUTUMN IS HERE!!! 

I’m sorry I’ve gotten behind in here.  I didn’t even do a post expressing my excitement that my favorite season is here! It’s just that we’ve been so busy having fun this past month.

At the end of September we had a wonderful time with my parents when they came to visit us here in North Carolina!  It was so nice having them stay with us and being able to show them our life and some of our favorite places here. 

After my parents left, Lovebug and I headed off to Pennsylvania to stay with some friends for a few days.  We had a great time, and even came away with great educational opportunities for homeschooling since we were able to see (and play in) one of the Great Lakes (Lake Erie) and take a side trip to Niagara Falls.

Since we returned from PA, we now have Hubby’s Granny staying with us for a month.  In fact, we picked her up at the airport on her 85th birthday! How special that she got to spend her 85th birthday with one of her great-grandchildren (Lovebug)!

I’ll catch up and post pictures of all those fun times soon, but for now I wanted to share a few pictures of the cutest bat you’ll ever see!

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I have to brag….I made the wings! :)  Lovebug had a very specific way she wanted them.  She didn’t want anything tied around her neck.  She also didn’t want the typical wings with the elastic bands to hold them on her arms.  She wanted them attached to her shirt so she could lift her arms and show them or put them down and hide them. 

She also wanted the wings to be purple to match one of her latest new friends, “Batty”.  Her purple feet match him too!

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The lines on the wings will glow in the dark too!

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Showing off her “fangs” thanks to the fact that she has now lost THREE teeth on top and only has about a half of one growing in.

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She was thinking HARD about something in this one…not sure what, but I love the way she sticks out her tongue when she’s thinking hard.  She always has.

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Can’t have a photo shoot without silly faces!

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Parenting should come with do-overs

Tonight my heart is tired.  You ever have one of those times as a parent where you wish you could rewind and have a do-over?  I wish I could back up about 2 hours and just do things differently.  My sweet Lovebug got in trouble for something tonight that she really shouldn’t have.  The worst part is, she got in trouble for one of the worst and highly punishable offenses in our home – lying.  The problem is, it turns out she wasn’t lying on purpose at all and instead was just a victim of being an extremely literal perfectionist.

She had a friend over to play today and they were going back and forth between her room and our school room playing, doing crafts, being super imaginative and creative and having a great time.  As the play date was approaching the end, the kids cleaned up (on their own, mind you) so that they could spend the rest of the time outside.

They came downstairs and told me they were all done cleaning up and were going outside.   I took them at their word (because I’ve never had a reason not to), and let them go. 

Tonight, when I went upstairs to help Lovebug get ready for bed I saw the school room.  Paper, yarn and craft supplies all over the floor.  This is not a problem in itself as we often make a big mess in there when we are being crafty. 

The problem was that she had told me she had cleaned everything up before they went outside.

Instead of assuming the best of my daughter and remembering that she usually doesn’t seem to have a defiant bone in her body, I immediately jumped to the conclusion that she must have lied in order to go outside sooner.  Sometimes it’s all in the wording.  Especially when dealing with an oh-so-literal Aspie child!

I went back over it with her and asked her “Did you tell me that you had cleaned everything up?”, and she said yes. 

I then said “Was that true?”, and she said “no”.

I said “What is that called when you tell me something that’s not true?” and she said “lying”.  Then she started crying, which I assumed was a further display of guilt.

BUT, does saying something that isn’t true ALWAYS equal lying?  More on that in a minute.

I admit, I was angry.  Instead of stopping to think about it from her perspective, I just let myself get so frustrated at something that was so out of character for her.  I was short with her, issued some consequences (no bedtime story because she spent the time cleaning up the room), and let her know I was unhappy with her and that other consequences would be coming.  My being upset with her just led to her being upset, which make the clean up job go slower, which also led to me being more upset.

It was a mess.

She was so worked up that she couldn’t talk without practically hyperventilating, and at one point when I threw away a paper craft that had been just sitting around for days, she reacted as though I had thrown away her most prized stuffed animal.

Needless to say, I could tell she was EXHAUSTED from our busy day.

As we walked back into her room to get into bed, she said something about getting distracted and forgetting they had stuff to clean up in the school room. 

WAIT a minute!  Distracted?  Forgot?

That sounds a lot more like a child-like behavior than an intentional, sinful lie to me.  This is a MAJOR deal because lying is not acceptable in this house and is extremely punishable.   However, distraction and forgetfulness are things she comes by naturally not only because she’s a kid, but because she’s MY kid!

So, I clarified things with her using different words this time.

I asked, “When you told me that you had cleaned everything up, did you know there was a mess in the school room?”, and she responded “No, we got distracted cleaning up in my room and weren’t thinking about it because we were focused on going outside”

Ahhhhh!  The light bulb went off in my head!  Then I said, “So, then did you lie to me on purpose?”, and she said “No, I just forgot about it”.

Now, to some of you that might sound like a cop out, but I assure you that with my child it isn’t.  She was so upset because she thought she had lied to me.  Her tears earlier were because she was broken-hearted and completely torn up.  She was devastated at the thought of lying to me, but she knew that she had said something that wasn’t true.  She knew that literally a lie was something that wasn’t true, and she felt trapped because she couldn’t say “I wasn’t lying” when she knew she had said something that turned out to be untrue.

So then we talked about the differences because forgetting something, or making a mistake versus deliberate lying.  The example I gave was if I told Daddy that his favorite coffee cup was on the second shelf, and when he went to get it he found it on the first shelf – was that a lie? 

Her answer was yes. 

My answer is no – it was a mistake and I remembered something incorrectly.  Just like she made a mistake and forgot they had another room to clean up.

To me, a lie is more about just being not truthful, it is about intent.  She didn’t tell me something untrue on purpose, but instead she told me what she thought was true at the moment. 

Sometimes I am right on top of seeing things through her eyes, and other times I really wish I could have a do-over.   I could have said something as simple as, “Did you forget about this room when you were cleaning up?”, instead of getting upset.  Hindsight is always 20-20, isn’t it?

Thankfully, we cleared it all up and ended the night with lots of hugs and kisses before bed!  This is something that is very important to me and Hubby!  Hubby and I never go to bed without saying “I love you”.  Even the couple of times we were upset about something, we talk it out as much as possible and when we go to bed, we always – ALWAYS – touch feet to let the other know that everything is ok, we love each other, and we are in this together forever.

We’ve carried that through with Lovebug too.  I never, ever, want her to go to bed thinking I’m still upset with her or disappointed in her.  I never want her to have that feeling.  We want her to know that even if we don’t like her choice or behavior that we always – ALWAYS – love her and are proud of her.  We make sure to end the night on a happy note with hugs and kisses, a song, a tickle – or whatever she needs. 

My love for her can’t be as perfect as God’s love, but hopefully though us as parents, she will get a taste of what it’s like to have someone love you no matter what.  I want her to grow up knowing that there is nothing she can ever do to make her Mommy and Daddy stop loving her.  I want her to know that we are proud of her and the person God made her to be – just the way she is. 

I want her to know:

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. (Psalm 139:14)

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. (James 1:17)

Children are a heritage from the LORD, offspring a reward from him. (Psalm 127:3)

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart…” (Jer 1:5)

Field Trip Friday – puppies, friends & frozen yogurt

Yesterday I had a long list of errands to run.  I had been saving up several random errands that all took me to the same part of town so I could knock them all out in one swoop.  I was planning to do them the day before, but then the truck window threw a wrench in my plans (will write about that later), so now Field Trip Friday was going to turn into Errand Day.

That’s ok! Lovebug and I make a great team and can make anything fun with the right attitude and a couple treats thrown in.  She is at a great age and can really be a wonderful helper to me, plus she’s just fun to hang out with.  That kid is funny!  Of course, I did have to plan well and take snacks with us in the car.  Taking Lovebug anywhere for more than about 10 minutes without food is just asking for trouble.  She moves, thinks, and talks so much that she must burn 1,000 calories an hour just living.  As a result, she eats often to re-fuel her body and her energy tanks.  So, we packed up several (healthy) snacks and hit the road.

First stop – Starbucks!  We were picking up some instant iced coffee to send to Hubby.  Someone had sent him some in a care package (my parents? Thank you, whoever it was – he loves it!), and he had requested a refill.  While we were there, I decided to get an iced tea, and treated Bug to an organic chocolate milk.  I was a little nervous we’d deal with the sugar crash in the middle of my errands, but she was determined to show me she could handle it.  I figured it couldn’t be too much worse than the juice, which was the only other option I was going to give her.  I have a self-imposed rule that I don’t take her to Starbucks with me unless I’m willing to get us both something.  If I want to have a treat without giving her one, then I go alone.  Sometimes she even offers to spend her own money!

Next stop was Petsmart, where I needed to pick up a filter for our fish tank.  Petsmart is like a free field trip all in itself.  She could watch the birds, mice, lizards and fish all day long!  Yesterday was a special treat because they had an “adoption center” tent set up in the parking lot.  Puppies and kitties galore!  She was on cloud 9 looking at all of the animals and talking to them.  She had to check the paperwork for each and every one to find out its gender, name, and breed.  I don’t know if I’ve ever known a kid that wants a dog so badly and is so well behaved and patient about it.  Mommy is coming around, and is hoping to move on this sometime this winter when we have time to focus on the training.

Next door to Petsmart is the Christmas Tree Shop!  If you have one of these in your area, you must go.  NOW.  It is amazing!  Not a lot to do with Christmas trees (although there were a few Christmas decorations out), but it is a huge discount store with everything you can imagine.  Home decor, picture frames, cookware, party supplies, yard decor, books, toys, health & beauty products, furniture, etc.   We stopped here because I needed to pick up some coffee candy for Hubby.  I found this the last time I was in the store (and it was cheaper than online), and sent him some.  Evidently it was a big hit because it’s one of a very few things he has actually requested that I send him.  YAY! I’ve been begging him for care package requests, but he’s so easily satisfied so he doesn’t ask for much so I was thrilled to get it for him.  While we were at the CTS, we also ran into our neighbor friends – another treat! Lovebug and I had fun wandering around with them for a while.  Oh, and I picked up a bucket of sidewalk chalk (glow-in-the-dark too!) in the summer clearance area for .66 (Reg $2.99) – I love a bargain!  Lovebug got a bargain too as she spent $3 of her own money to buy a new friend.

Let me introduce you to “Batty”

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We parted ways with our friends, and made one more stop to get ice on the way home.  While we were there, Bug asked if she could try a package of pork rinds.  Yep, we’re from the South!  Sure, why not?  You would have thought I gave her candy, she was so excited!  Must be like her Daddy – easy to please.  No wonder I love them both so much!

Once we got home, we spent the evening hanging out with our neighbor friends outside.  Lovebug and the girls (6 & 3) went inside to play in her room, while the grownups and the little kids stayed outside.  Bug and her friends ended up playing perfectly content for over 2 hours!  They were having a great time playing house, going through her marble collection, and just being girls!

Then we kept all the kids (5 of them ages 2-7) up late and took them out for frozen yogurt! It was a great time! Lots of laughs!  We got home around 10:00, and were so tired we forgot to try out our new glow-in-the dark chalk!  Guess we’ll have to stay up till dark again tonight!

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The kids were absolutely filthy from all the playing outside.  We didn’t even bother trying to clean them up before taking them out.  The frozen yogurt just made it worse, anyway!  See the blue chalk on her face and IN HER HAIR?

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We were all laughing because there were a few people there on dates, and I’m sure they were thinking “I’ll NEVER do that when I have kids…..” – famous last words!

Cleaning up after the meltdown

After Lovebug’s sensory meltdown a couple days ago, I decided what we really needed was some more time together.  Yes, as a homeschooling parent, I spend all day every day with her already.  However, we have been so busy lately that we haven’t had a lot of just one-on-one time.  We have been spending countless hours playing outside with friends, traveling to see friends in other states, going to meetings, the park, museums, camp, etc.  The last several months have been a whirlwind.  We’ve been having a lot of fun, but I can tell it’s catching up to her.  It really does make a difference.  Ever since she was really little she would need a day of downtime at home after being on the go a few days in a row.  As much as she loves people, she takes after her Mommy & Daddy and needs a break from the crowds after a while to re-charge her batteries.

I hadn’t been able to put a finger on what was bothering my daughter, but something obviously was.  Whether she was missing Daddy, or missing our routine (so important to her!), or missing doing crafts with me – I decided the best way to figure it out (or cure it) was to spend dedicated time with her away from other people.  So, we declared it “Mommy-Daughter weekend” and our only plan was that we would spend time together.  Not like some days where we say we will spend the day together but then end up surrounded by friends or out running lots of errands.  This would be JUST US.

We started yesterday and will continue through tomorrow.  It has been awesome!

We’ve watched movies, read lots of books, colored, painted, ate snacks outside on the patio table, crazy danced to music, and had a lot of fun!  We even had a sleepover on the sofas in the living room last night.  Tonight we’re in our own beds because I prefer to sleep without feet in my ribs, but it was so worth not sleeping well last night to have her beside me!  We’ve laughed & talked, and I think this is all she needed. 

Tomorrow we’ll read another stack of books, do some baking, take a walk, do some art, watch a movie, and be silly together.  Good times!

In just a couple days, we officially start “First Grade”! That also makes her happy because she thrives on routines & plans.  In fact, I think she’s more looking forward to getting a routine back than she is anything else about school at this point.  Crazy summer days can only go on for so long!

 

A little look at the last couple of days….

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(Ignore my bandaids…I just had a couple moles removed)

 

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De-stemming a million grapes!

 

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Ready for our sleepover!

 

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Watching a movie while squished in the sofa pillows

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Looks comfy to me!

 

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Playing with chalk

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Lovebug’s really great bunny drawing!

 

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Enjoying some grape flavored water – isn’t she cute?

 

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Bike riding

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Love that smile!

I’ll share more pictures after tomorrow too!

It’s a heartbreaking meltdown kind of day

It started like any other day.  Lovebug coming downstairs to greet me with a “Good morning, Mommy!” when she got up.  Then it went downhill in a hurry.  She wanted oatmeal (gluten free, of course) for breakfast.  Simple enough, right?  Since we are working on her motor skills & coordination, it provides a great way for her to practice independence.  Measuring the oats, pouring them into the bowl, measuring the water, pouring that into the bowl, and then pushing the right buttons on the microwave.  It’s rolled oats (not the quick kind), but we still often cheat and cook it for 2 minutes in the microwave.

So far so good.  A little trouble pouring the oats into the measuring cup and I could tell she got more frustrated than usual, but I let it go.   Then, she wanted warmed up strawberries in her oatmeal too.  No problem.  I throw some frozen strawberries in a bowl, heat them up and that’s it.

She wanted to pour the strawberry “sauce” into her oatmeal herself.

Fine.

Only she couldn’t.  If I didn’t know how truly hard it really was for her it would have almost been comical to see her trying to pour this little bowl into a bigger bowl.  She was twisting her arm in ways like she was trying to perform an underhanded trick or something.  She just could not get her brain to make her arm move the way she wanted it to.

She got very very frustrated.

Evidently, I made it worse when I tried to help her and have her practice it a couple times because I was “making her do it over and over and over and over!”.

We took a break and sat on the sofa hugging as I consoled her.  In the middle of that she had a meltdown over some bug bites that were itching.  I’ve seen that before.  The kicking, the jerking, the “GET IT OFF OF ME NOW” movements that look like she’s being attacked by fire ants.  That’s how she used to be with her panties and socks.  Finally, I got her to use some words and we put medicine on them to stop the itching.

Once she was calm, we went out on the patio to have a nice breakfast and enjoy the cool temperatures.   I thought we were good.  I knew she was extra tired today, but I thought we were going to be ok.

NOPE.

Our neighbor friends came over for a while, and Lovebug was playing with the little boy.  No big deal  – happens all of the time.  After a while, I told her we need to clean up and go to the grocery store.

Usually, she would have been happy to, because 1) she loves going to the store, and 2) she knows we’ll see these friends again later.

NOT TODAY.

Today, she came inside and fell apart crying like she was never going to see this friend again.  Seriously.  On the floor crying and everything.

At that moment, I declared it “one of those days”, and I knew we needed to get some extra rest today as well as some sensory input.  Maybe she didn’t sleep well last night, but something set her off and even she knows she is extra tired and sensitive today.

Unfortunately, it means I also had to cancel plans to go to another friend’s house tonight for a cookout.  On days like this, it gets worse before it gets better and I knew taking her to another situation where she would be overstimulated and up late would not be a good idea.  Thankfully, my friend totally understands and we quickly made plans for a playdate at the park to feed the ducks & have a picnic in a few days.

I spent an hour laying on my bed holding Lovebug and letting her cry.  She was a mixture of emotions.  Tired, disappointed about not seeing her friend, upset with her body for failing her, not knowing why she was so upset, and just plain worn out.  She was crying so hard and nothing could console her.  I did my best to “manage” it and reminded her to take deep breaths so she didn’t end up making her tummy hurt.  Often when she cries this hard, she swallows so much air that her tummy ends up hurting.

I finally needed a break.  I told her she was welcome to be tired – even to cry because she’s tired – and I would hold her as much as she wanted today.  I would not, however, continue to listen to her be upset about not seeing her friends.  I tried to explain to her that she was upset about not seeing people that we will see again soon – the neighbor, probably the next time we step outside, and the other friend in a few days at the playdate.  I reminded her she isn’t missing out on anything that will never happen again.  I told her she needed to spend some time in her room alone.

At this stage in the meltdown, there is no reasoning with her.  She was now getting upset about “being all alone”.  I stayed calm and sweet as I explained to her that she was going to go into her room and have some time to “get it all out” and to get rid of being upset about her friends.  When she was ready to come out and “just be tired”, then I would be happy to help her all I could.   I turned on her soft music, put her in her sensory swing, gave her a couple of her favorite stuffed animals, kissed her and told her I’d be back in 30 minutes to check on her.

This is a classic example of a meltdown versus a tantrum.  She is not in control of her emotions right now, and that just makes her more frustrated.  It breaks my heart when she’s like this because I can’t help make it go away any faster, I can just love on her and wait for it to pass.  We haven’t had a meltdown like this in a very long time, and for that I’m thankful.  I’m also thankful that God has given me so much compassion for times like this.  It took a long time for us to understand what was happening during these moments, but now I recognize it right away.  Oh, how far we’ve come….and how far we still have to go!

Horse Riding in Delaware

This past week Lovebug and I spent some time in Delaware.  We stayed at my friend’s house, and another friend came in from another state to join us.  It was a great time!  Lots of girlfriend time for us grownups, and lots of fun play time for the kiddos.  There were 2 girls (both 7 years old) and 2 boys (5 & 11).

I’ll post about the entire trip tomorrow, but first I have to get these pictures & videos posted (for the grandparents mostly!).

On our last day there, Lovebug got to go horseback riding!  Our friends that we were staying with have a place they take their daughter for horseback riding lessons, and Lovebug was allowed to not only go along, but to join in!  She has ridden before, and took lessons as part of her occupational therapy for about a year.  She LOVES horses, and is so comfortable around them.

She was on cloud 9!! She got to meet Suade the horse and was instantly in love!  She even got to meet a real barrel racer!! One of the horse owners is a teenager that has been barrel racing since she was 8 years old.  Lovebug was star struck!  “Miss Brittany” did a barrel racing demo for us, and WOW is she fast!

See for yourself…here is the demo:

 

 

Now, here is our Lovebug…

Getting on the horse (without a ramp like she’s used to) 

 

Walking the horse in the barrel pattern (Mute your speakers – we were talking a lot while waiting for her!)

 

 

This one is REALLY long, but she was doing “Pole Bending” weaving in and out of the poles – great steering!!

 

 

She got to “jump” the horse, which is really funny because the horse just had to step over the pole – gotta start somewhere!

 

 

Here they let her trot (and they thought this would be fast for her – so cute!)

 

 

Later, Lovebug went back and asked if they would let her canter (faster than trotting, slower than a gallop).  They said if it was ok with me (which it was!), so back on the horse she went, and here she goes!

On the way down…

 

 

On the way back…FAST!

 

 

Here is a slideshow of pictures from our time at the “ranch”.