Mounted Archery for the fearful rider – HaliPawz

I had my first mounted archery lesson last week.  I had talked about it in a previous blog sharing how I’m not a great rider but I wanted to change that this year.  It was a freezing cold day for April in Missouri so I was happy to have half of the training inside the wedding barn at Von Holten Ranch.  Complete side note; if you are planning a wedding or need an event space near Sedalia / Mora, Missouri and want a beautiful venue ran by two really great people, definitely check them out!

Brandy Von Holten is a GREAT educator.  She has a way of making everything fun, she’s down to earth, but she makes sure you truly understand what it is she is teaching.  The first half we did classroom type training where she broke down the basics, not only of mounted archery, but of archery in general.  She put in a ton of time to make it easier for us to acquire the items needed for this sport and when something wasn’t available the way she thought it should be, she just designed it herself and had them ready for us.  I admire anyone who can think a couple of steps ahead to make a solution of a problem because I feel I have those traits in areas I excel in.

Luke and Beau waiting for their turn

Luke and Beau waiting for their turn to learn Mounted Archery

When we broke for lunch, I won’t lie, I was apprehensive about continuing.  I’m not sure if it’s because it was starting to get real and we were going to be putting our education into practice, including involving our horses or if it was because it was all so overwhelming in general.  To qualify for the beginning student level in the international division, you have to be able to make all your shots in a full canter (for non horse people….a run).  Ummmm, I’m the fearful rider!  I don’t even canter my horse in general, let alone dropping the reins and shooting a bow and arrow!  All I kept thinking is…..nope, this isn’t for me.

We started eating lunch and I openly discussed my concerns with my friend who was also learning this sport.  I knew Brandy would do everything in her power to keep us safe.  I knew she was passionate about the sport and truly believed it was something I could do, so I sucked it up, finished my lunch and pushed past the nerves in my stomach to go out and start the second half of our training.

One thing we learned QUICKLY is our “mounted archery bow” we purchased on Etsy WAS NOT going to cut it for this sport.  Brandy had a bow for us to try as well as she tried ours and we laughed at how different they were.  We initially chose them because we didn’t want to put a lot of money into something we might not enjoy.  Needless to say, it was a good thought, but was a true fail.  The style of shooting was almost impossible with the bows we chose.  We learned to shoot off our thumb, a very traditional style of shooting, but also very difficult if you have the wrong bow.

Archery Target

Not the right bow for Mounted Archery

The bow is cute and would probably  be good for a young girl learning archery so I might put it up for sale after I get my correct bow, but I can guarantee I will not be using it to shoot from my horse.

After some clear instructions from Brandy, it came time to shoot from the ground.  Without even thinking, when we had been practicing at an archery range, not once did I think….”hey, you’re gonna be on a horse, so you should probably stand facing one direction and shooting to the side!”  I also felt a little crazy because Brandy said to wear our hat or riding helmet if we were planning on wearing them when we were riding our  horse.  I ride with a helmet, so here I am, freezing cold, gloves on, hoodie up to cover my ears from the cold wind, and then my crazy riding helmet!  I say crazy because, let’s face it, if you’re a plus size rider with a round face, you know there is NO good helmet for you.  Even the “low profile” helmets look bad on a round face.

It came my turn to shoot having switched over to using Brandy’s bow instead of my Etsy one and I discovered something.   I’m a decent shot!  Please understand, it’s painful to shoot off the thumb and it’s difficult to shoot the right way but thanks to great explanations from Brandy, I was able to get off some pretty good shots.  I was proud of myself!  A lot of it is hand positioning and shooting based on a feeling but it was a lot of fun watching the arrow fly from the bow and hit the target!

First attempt with a Korean Recurve Bow

My FIRST attempt at shooting a Korean Recurve Bow with off the thumb shooting. Do you see the RED??

We had a lot of fun goofing around, trying to stay warm, while everyone had a shot.  The nice thing was, every woman there was encouraging each other, it didn’t matter if we knew each other or had met for the first time, we encouraged, we worked with each other to help each other understand the techniques, and mostly, we laughed.  We laughed a lot.  We laughed at how many times we dropped the arrows, we laughed when we were being silly, and we were all comfortable being ourselves.  We ranged in ages, we ranged in riding disciplines, we ranged in riding abilities but none of it mattered.  We were all there because we were excited about learning something new.  Something we could do with our horse.

Mounted Archery Practice on the ground

My second attempt at shooting

We had “mastered” (and yes, I use the term very loosely) the art of shooting on the ground, so it was time to tack up our horses.  I am not quick at tacking up my horse (for the non horse people, it means putting the saddle on them) in general, but when the nerves kick in, I feel like I’m even slower.  Luke was antsy and kept pacing, which made me more nervous, which made him pace more….do you see the pattern?  My stomach was doing flip flops so I had to run to the restroom.  By the time I was done tacking up, everyone else had been tacked up and already on their horse.

I went and brought my mounting block over and had a little panic attack.  I was so excited to try this and panic just hit me.  I couldn’t bring myself to throw my leg over.  Thankfully, Brandy, sensing my concerns AND having worked with me and Luke in the past, walked me through it a few times, showed me Luke really could care less about the arrow flying from the bow near him, and, in time, I mounted my horse.  The irony is, the minute my butt is in the saddle, I’m usually good again.  It’s just the swing over that sets my heart racing.  I took a couple of spins around on Luke to get familiar with him and the arena, then it was our turn to go through the pattern and shoot.  I have NEVER been led on my horse, so I was a little nervous about it, thinking I would panic, but I was handed the bow and we set off down the lane.  I came to the first shot and I wasn’t thinking about not having the reins in my hand, I was thinking about shooting this bow and arrow correctly.  I didn’t shoot it correctly the first time.  I held it too long and didn’t shoot great.  The second time I had to pause my walk, get reset, and then shoot.  My second shot wasn’t great either.  Third time was the charm.  I started my walk, I pulled back and let the arrow fly.  It HIT!   I shot a bow and arrow FROM MY HORSE AND  HIT the target.  The pride I felt was a little crazy.  I did it.  I fought past my fears and did it.

Click here to watch a hilarious video of my first shot…..my helmet looked crazy but wait until the end, you’ll see the pride in my final shot. Thanks Brandy for the fun video!

I know I’m a long way from my goals but I am taking the first steps.  Not only am I learning mounted archery but I’m agreeing to compete with friends in a country tough challenge at Von Holten Ranch.  I’m setting up lessons with Brandy as well as another great trainer so I can focus on my skills, my nerves, and now, archery.  Until this year, I would always say I owned a horse, but I never felt like I had the right to use the term “equestrian”  This year is going to change.  By the end of the summer I hope to proudly say I am a rider, I am an equestrian, and I am a Mounted Archer!

Psychological WARdrobe of weight loss – HaliPawz

Losing weight has its benefits, and here is no doubt about it.  I think sometimes though, we forget that our body is going through more changes than just the loss of fat from our body.  As the pounds come off, we have to address a variety of things, things other may not completely understand.  For me, one of the hardest areas is my wardrobe.  I know this is more psychological than anything, but it is something I’m sure others losing weight may have an issue with as well. It’s like waging war with yourself, but no one is the winner.

I’ve lost 50 pounds so far.  While I am happy with the weight loss, I am still very overweight and I’m back on track trying to lose another 40-50 pounds.  I will share more about the “getting back on track” part later.  Today I want to address clothing.  I wear black pants and button up shirts with our company logo on them every day at work.  Seems pretty simple.  When I started the job a year ago, I paid close attention to the sizing chart Lands End provides with their business attire.  I made sure I selected shirts matching my measurements.  When I first started wearing them, they fit fine, they buttoned up ok, but when I sat down, I HATED the way they fit.  I do not usually wear button up shirts and I’m sure this is the reason.  They would pucker in the belly area, reminding me, and everyone else, I am overweight.  As I lost weight, the shirts slowly started to lose the visible pucker.  It was nice.  The only problem is I now look like I am swimming in my shirts when I’m standing up.  When I heard they were placing a Lands End order, I went ahead and had them order me one new shirt.  ONE.  Not five like I currently own, but ONE!  My rationale was, I’m not done losing weight so I didn’t want to use up my uniform allowance on shirts too big for me.  It sounded good.  I knew the truth though….I knew I didn’t want to go back to wearing a shirt which would pucker in the belly.  The shirt arrived, I took it home, I tried it on, and, yes, if I was being honest, I would say it fit me EXACTLY like the first set of shirts fit me when I first started losing weight.  The only difference is, I have five BIG shirts so I don’t have to wear the tighter shirt.

We were taking pictures for work so I wore one of my baggy shirts and brought my new one along to put on for the picture.  Again, my reason for the second shirt was because I knew we were doing the pictures later in the day and I have a propensity for spilling something on me and I wanted a spare shirt.  Let’s face it, we all know the real reason, I wanted the baggy shirt for comfort then change into the tighter shirt for pictures and THEN change back into my baggy shirt for the rest of the day.  It is a little ridiculous, I know.  I admit it.  Typing it here and now reminds me how silly it is, but it’s something I have to get past.

I own two pairs of black pants I wear to work every day.  I do a load of laundry every other day throughout the week.  I have one other pair in the same size, but they don’t have pockets, so I will only wear them when I truly forgot to do laundry.  The sad thing is, over a month ago I bought a pair of pants in my new size.  They fit great.  You can actually see my legs.  They don’t look like they are two sizes too big and dragging on the ground…..which, by now, I’m sure you can imagine is EXACTLY how my current work pants look.  I’ve worn them ONCE to work.  They weren’t baggy.  They weren’t loose.  They weren’t comfortable.  I felt like I looked fatter in them.

Please understand, body image isn’t really an issue with me.  I openly admit I’m overweight.  I’m not the type of person to wear a bikini the size I am, but I don’t feel it would be wrong to do so if I wanted to.  I just don’t want to.  I’m happy with myself and who I am.  I just can’t let go of the baggy clothes to wear clothes to fit my new size.  I’ve gotten used to the comfort of the ones I’m wearing and when they are tight, it bothers me.  I try to convince myself to wear them, because then they would be tight and it would motivate me to keep losing weight and I TRY to do it.  I look at them in the morning and think to myself, just wear them.  It’s how your clothes USED to fit you before you lost the weight and then I grab the more comfortable clothes.

I use other excuses as well, such as, I don’t have the money to buy a bunch of clothes in my current size only to have to buy more when I finish losing my weight.  Another one is, maybe I’ll like the smaller size and then get frustrated because I only have one pair.  The funniest one, to me, is well I can’t find the exact same pants I’m currently wearing and I don’t like the material of the new ones as well so I just don’t wear them.  I know it is all psychological.  I know the clothes fit me now like my old one’s fit me when I was 50 pounds heavier.  Perhaps just putting this down in words, sharing the craziness, will help me to realize it is time to start wearing some of the clothes to fit me today.

What are some of the psychological obstacles you face in your weight loss?  Has anyone else had trouble giving up their larger clothes?  I have given up a few pairs of jeans because they just would not even remotely stay up anymore and with my weird build, belts don’t really work.  Baby steps I guess.

No matter where you are in your weight loss,  remember someone has gone before you and someone is coming behind you with the same, or similar struggles.  Don’t give up.  If you get off track, just plant the seeds to get back on.

Every day is a new day, embrace it, and move forward! Paula Halifax Optician

Mounted Archery – What AM I thinking? – HaliPawz

Towards the end of last year I made a decision I was going to try Mounted Archery. What the HELL was I thinking?!?! Don’t get me wrong, I think the sport looks amazing and I’m looking forward to trying it, but seriously, me? The one who still competes in the walk – trot division at the fun show? Me, the one who has a panic attack before throwing my foot into the stirrup EVERY time? Now I think it’s smart for me to attempt something where I have to let go of my reins and trust me connection with my horse, trust my ability to balance without falling (yes, I know balance has nothing to do with holding the reins but in my mind it does!), trust myself to do this at any speed faster than a walk? I cannot believe I’m thinking this is a good idea.

I love my horse, Luke. He is an wonderful boy.

I adopted him November 2011 from an amazing horse rescue, Crosswinds Equine Rescue, Inc, and have loved him from the moment he arrived in Kansas City. I took lessons, I worked with him, I try to get him the best feed, I do what every good horse owner should do, except deal with the mental block that keeps me from becoming a better rider. Luke has never done anything to make me feel like he isn’t there for me. Just the opposite really….when I’m in the saddle, he’s different. He’s slower, he’s steady, he seems to sense I want calm, and for the most part, gives it to me. When a stronger rider is on him, he goes into a more spirited version of himself and responds accordingly.

I made a decision last year. I decided I was going to STOP saying “I’m a bad rider” and figure out a way to change it. The first thing is to figure out what I would enjoy doing with Luke. I have learned I don’t truly enjoy trail rides with my friends but I do enjoy the controlled environment of arena work. Now this may be a “what comes first, the chicken or the egg” situation, meaning I might not like trail riding because I’m not confident in the saddle, but if I get better in the saddle, I might enjoy trail riding. Time will tell. The second thing is, I have to pick something or some things to do which will result in me wanting to be in saddle more. I had taken a tracing lesson last year with Brandy Von Holten and truly admire her as a person as well as an equestrian. I saw where she was going to be doing a ground zero archery clinic this spring and my curiosity was piqued. I liked archery as a child, hadn’t done it as an adult, but thought it sounded interesting. A decision was made. I was going to try mounted archery!

I started where every decision seems to lead; the internet. I searched everything I could find on archery, mounted archery, equipment, techniques, etc. I didn’t want to put a lot of money into it in case it wasn’t something I enjoyed and, let’s face it, budget always has to be a factor.

I found a bow for a reasonable price and asked my mom for it for Christmas. Since I’m her favorite daughter (ha ha, now I’ll know which sisters read my blog. I know I’m not her favorite, she loves us all equally….blah blah blah 😂) she, of course, said yes. The bow took a LOT longer to arrive than expected, I won’t go into details but it was ordered the beginning of December for a Christmas delivery and I didn’t get it until February. Once I had it, I needed to find arrows and other items just to get started. I read where real feathers for the fletchings are better but they are also more expensive. I didn’t even know if I was going to be able to shoot this thing! Oh yeah, let’s talk about this bow for a second. Mounted Archery requires you to use a traditional bow, similar to the Mongolian style….with no shelf! It’s bad enough you have to shoot at a target while you are moving, on a horse, but you have to do it with a complicated bow! Again, what am I thinking?

After a long search, I decide to order some arrows off of Amazon. I always make sure to use smile.amazon so a portion of my purchase goes to a rescue of my choice. I have Crosswinds Equine Rescue as my rescue I support. I figure they are too far from me to give of my actual time, so it’s only fitting I give back to them this way. I chose the arrows I did because they were reasonably priced, bright colors, and would be good for basic ground practice in the beginning.

I watched a few YouTube videos to help me understand exactly how to shoot this crazy bow with no shelf. I appreciated BackyardBowyer for his simple approach to teaching how to hold the bow and shoot it. I watched a few of his videos and decided I was going to try the off the thumb method because it made the most sense for grabbing and positioning the arrow while moving. I ordered a leather thumb ring when I ordered the arrows and waited patiently for the to arrive.

My plan was to practice from the ground first before even attempting to add Luke into the equation. Let’s face it, dropping an arrow on my horse would not be a good thing. I found an archery target at Wal-Mart marked down to $8.50 and went to pick it up. I now had everything I needed to attempt to shoot. A friend of mine is also trying this and said we could go out to her dads to try but I was excited so I set the target up on top of my outdoor trash can, walked back about 10 feet (I figured I’d start simple since I live in the city, didn’t want to risk my neighbors) and drew back my first arrow. THUNK! It totally missed my target and bounced off my privacy fence. Oops. Arrow # 2. Repeat of 1. Arrow #3….another repeat. This isn’t looking good for me. Arrow #5 HIT!!! Yes! I could do this! Arrow #6….repeat if 1-4. In total, I hit the target twice. Not a complete fail but not good either. I decided for the sake of my arrows, my privacy fence, and my neighbors safety, I would stop practicing in my back yard until I’m better and find a more suitable place to practice.

I’m nervous beyond belief of this endeavor but also very excited. My archery clinic is in April so I have some time to practice before then.

I’m hoping this is the year I go from “I’m not a great rider” to “I’m looking forward to riding” I’ll still do the fun shows in Oak Grove, MO each month like I have every year. I’ll stay in the walk – trot division this year and I’m ok with it. I may even consider doing some obstacle competitions this year. I just want to enjoy time with my horse ON my horse. I want to focus on moving forward and not letting fear or nervousness keep me from doing something I believe I will truly enjoy.

Have you tried Mounted Archery? Have you ever been nervous mounting? What are some things you enjoy doing with your horse? I’d love to hear your stories. Feel free to share in the comments.

Wish me luck on this new adventure. I’ll keep you posted!

Revitalash Advanced Eyelash Conditioner; my review – HaliPawz

I recently had the opportunity to review the Revitalash Advanced Eyelash Conditioner.  I had tried the Latisse in the past and was curious about how Revitalash compared to it and did it really work.

Revitalash Advanced Eyelash Conditioner tube

Let’s start with what Revitalash really is.  Revitalash Advanced Eyelash Conditioner is just what it says it is.  It is an eyelash CONDITIONER.  The company claims, by using it daily, you will have healthier-looking, luxurious lashes as a result.  It was formulated and designed specifically for healthier looking lashes.  It was designed to enhance NATURAL beauty.

Latisse is only available through a prescription.  It is for people who grow inadequate eyelashes or not enough eyelashes.  It helps to grow more hair in the area it is applied.  It was discovered purely by accident.

Back in 2001, Allergan developed a medicated eye drop used to treat ocular hypertension. In addition to successfully lowering eye pressure (the only treatable risk factor for glaucoma), many patients using this medication experienced a side effect — they began to grow longer, fuller and darker lashes.

Latisse is FDA approved, but it has some complications associated with it as well.  Even on their website they warn you about the following

May cause brown darkening of the colored part of the eye which is likely permanent. LATISSE® may cause eyelid skin darkening which may be reversible. Only apply at base of upper lashes. DO NOT APPLY to lower lid. Hair may grow outside the treatment area. If you have eye problems/surgery, consult your doctor. Common side effects include itchy and red eyes. If discontinued, lashes gradually return to previous appearance.

Even with those warnings, I have to admit, I wanted to try Latiss so I had a doctor I worked with at the time write me a prescription for it.  The pharmacy at Sam’s Club had the best price on it, and I took it home to try it. The instructions where a little complicated.  You had to use a new applicator each time for each eye.  I started out doing it correctly and lasted about 2 – 3 weeks, but then I would forget, or I wouldn’t have the time.  Eventually, I just stopped doing it all together.  I did not have any of the side effects mentioned, I applied it correctly, it just became too much of a pain just to have nicer, longer, eyelashes.

Fast forward to recently when I had an opportunity to try Revitalash.  My first thought was, NO THANK YOU!  Been there, done that!  The person I was talking to stopped me.  He listed to me complain about Latisse and promised me this would be so much easier.  He said I would love it.  I reluctantly agreed to try it but in my mind I thought….this is going to be a waste.  FULL DISCLOSURE…..I was given the sample for FREE.  Now he knew I was already going to be against it and didn’t have high hopes, but I want to make sure it is documented I did not pay for the sample.  While I was waiting for the sample to arrive I googled some before and after pictures.  I tend to not believe before and after pictures all the time because I believe they can be photo-shopped too easily.  The pictures always seem to be on perfect faces!  My face isn’t perfect.  I’m overweight, I’m blotchy at times without makeup.  I knew without a doubt I would take REAL pictures to show the difference if there were any.

Revitalash Advanced Eyelash Conditioner Application Directions

When the product arrived, I read the instructions.  Seem’s pretty simple.  Of course, when I was starting out, I was so careful.  I would use some OCuSoft Plus Lid Scrubs to clean both eyes, wait for that to dry, and then apply the Revitalash.  I set an alarm on my phone to go off at 10pm each night, so I wouldn’t forget to do it.  As time went on, I realized I was making it too hard for myself.  Now I have the tube in my toothbrush holder.  I step out of the shower, I apply the Revitalash, then brush my teeth.  The lashes are dry by the time I’m finished and I can apply my makeup as usual.  It takes maybe 20-30 seconds to apply it the way I’m doing now, so much easier then when I was doing the Latisse.

When I started, my eyelashes were ok. They weren’t horribly short, but I think every female wants longer, fuller lashes.  If I can get longer, fuller lashes without dealing with fake eyelashes, I would be happy!

Eyelashes at the beginning before using Revitalash. February 2016

Over the months of using the product, I went out of town a few times and was pleased with how easy the Revitalash travels.  I just threw it in my makeup bag and kept the same routine, hop out of the shower, apply the conditioner to my lashes, then brush my teeth.  I always kept it close to my toothbrush, even while traveling.  There was a small time, around June where I didn’t do the Revitalash for about 3 weeks.  It was right before I switched to putting it by my toothbrush, I would just keep forgetting to use it.

Here are some pictures over the months…..As you can see from the splotchy makeup here and there and the mascara remnants, I did not use any filters on the pictures or touch them up in any way unless I indicated as such in the picture.Eyelashes after using Revitalash Advanced eyelash conditioner 993

Eyelashes after using Revitalash Advanced eyelash conditioner 0990Eyelashes after using Revitalash Advanced eyelash conditioner 0998

 

Eyelashes after using Revitalash Advanced eyelash conditioner 1327

March 31, 2016

March 31, 2016

Eyelashes after using Revitalash Advanced eyelash conditioner 1303

Eyelashes after using Revitalash Advanced eyelash conditioner 4333

Eyelashes after using Revitalash Advanced eyelash conditioner 4335

July 28, 2016

Eyelashes after using Revitalash Advanced eyelash conditioner 4362Eyelashes after using Revitalash Advanced eyelash conditioner 4320

 

July 28, 2016 with mascara

July 28, 2016 with mascara

July 28, 2016 without Mascara

 

 

October 11, 2016

October 11, 2016

Eyelashes after using Revitalash Advanced eyelash conditioner 5080Eyelashes after using Revitalash Advanced eyelash conditioner 5064

Eyelashes after using Revitalash Advanced eyelash conditionerEyelashes after using Revitalash Advanced eyelash conditioner 5067img_5125

 

Eyelashes after using Revitalash Advanced eyelash conditioner 5007

There was a filter used on this picture

Eyelashes after using Revitalash Advanced eyelash conditioner 5113Eyelashes after using Revitalash Advanced eyelash conditioner 5118

In every picture where you see the words “with mascara” I was careful to use the same type of mascara so the pictures would reflect true changes.  I used:

VOLUM’ EXPRESS® THE FALSIES® BIG EYES® WATERPROOF MASCARA

.  They have a different brush for the lower lashes and the upper lashes.  I am not the neatest when it comes to applying make-up, as you can see from the pictures.  I get the mascara blotchy at times, but I do try to be careful.  I found this mascara to be easy to use and had a nice effect when I used it.

 

Overall, I have to say I have been very happy with the Revitalash Advanced Eyelash conditioner.  I believe it does make my eyelashes longer, fuller, and I have noticed I don’t have as many falling out.  They feel great.  They seem to hold the mascara better when I do use it.  If you want longer, healthier, fuller eyelashes, available WITHOUT a prescription and without any of the negative side effects, I would recommend trying this.

If you do try it, let me know what you think about it!

The Bandits Went Up My Tree – HaliPawz

Last night was a crazy night.  I needed to run an errand that I had been putting off, so at 10:30pm, my niece and I head out of the house to drive across town.  The dogs had been driving us crazy going in and out of the patio door, so I decided to take both of them.  Cayla put the leash on Bella, I put one on Zipper, and we headed out the door.  I saw Bella almost drag Cayla down the porch steps and all of a sudden, Zipper started his high-pitched, excited bark.  I look over and see something scurry up my tree.  I’m used to seeing squirrels going up and down it, but these were bigger, and a lot of them.  I look over again and peeking behind the tree is a raccoon!  I have never seen a raccoon in my yard, let alone a bunch of them. All of them had run up the tree except this one, who kept peeking at me around the tree.  I was trying to get Cayla to come back near me to see him, but Bella was pulling her in a different direction.  I couldn’t help but laugh because the raccoon would peek around, see me looking, then disappear again behind the tree.  We did this game for about 2 minutes.  Cayla was finally able to make it back on the porch to see him while I held the dogs.  She saw the game we were playing and then it ended as he also went up the tree.

Raccoon peeking out from behind a tree

Thank you to  irissansfrontieres for this perfect picture to match my story!

 

We used the flashlight on my phone to try to look up the tree to see all of them, but had no luck.  I needed to get something out of the van, which was parked under this raccoon climbed tree, so I unlock it and cautiously approach.  It’s like I was waiting for a raccoon to swipe my ankle from underneath as I approached the van.  Cayla, laughing at me, had to remind me they were poltergeist raccoons, but for some reason, I was just waiting for them all to start launching themselves at me in an attack as I neared the van!  Luckily I was able to enter and exit without harm, other than my pride as I was being laughed at.

As we were backing out of the driveway, we saw something come down out of the tree.  Assuming it was the raccoon, we looked to see where he headed off to….only to our surprise, it WAS NOT a raccoon, it was something else!  It was long, skinny, and seemed to have a funny walk.  We drove in the direction to see what it was, only to discover it was just a very skinny cat.  Wait…a cat???  What the heck was going on up in my tree?  An animal party?  I have raccoons AND cats up there at the same time!  All we could do was laugh at the situation!

We headed across town, turned down a road leading to our destination, only to see another odd-looking critter go running across the road.  We still have no idea what it was.  We tried to find it, but couldn’t.  While I was stopped for a few minutes, something round hit the top of my truck on the moon-roof and then rolled down the windshield and was gone.  It would not have been a big deal, except for the fact I was nowhere near a tree!  Now things are falling from the sky?!?!  What was going on?

As we pulled out of the driveway to head back home, we see yet another strange critter running across the path in front of us, but this time, we were able to identify the creature.  It was my favorite stinky friend; a skunk.  We waited, wanted to be careful to allow extra time for him to get where he was going before driving past him, especially considering all the craziness happening with the various critters.

As we were going along Gregory in Swope Park, my niece says, “deer”  I look, I don’t see anything, she says it again and I see a doe in front of us, off to the side of the road.  I slow down, giving her time to decide what way she was going to go.  She sees us, and then turns…..but does she run?  Oh of course not, that would be too much like normal and the night was anything BUT normal! This crazy deer turns and walks directly in front of us, down the street, with ATTITUDE!!!  I’m not kidding!  Her tail was SWISHING back and forth…..we both started laughing.  It was too much.  We follow her a short ways and then she runs off to the other side, as if to say, thanks for playing…see you soon!

We arrived home, no sign of our masked bandits in the tree, no sign of any other crazy critters in the yard.  I guess our crazy night of animals gone wild was over.  It was a humorous night for the two of us, the dogs were happy because they got to go for a ride in the truck, and my errand was complete.  All in all, it was a successful, adventurous, humorous trip!

 

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Acceptance of self is just as difficult as acceptance of others sometimes – HaliPawz

 

don’t ask others to accept you until you accept you

 
In today’s society, where acceptance doesn’t always come easy.  Bully’s hiding behind keyboards, will attack anyone or anything not comfortable to them, make it difficult to always see the GREAT in ourselves. Stop! Be happy with who YOU are. Understand you are unique. It’s OK if you are different from the average.  Once you accept who you are, others will as well. Laugh at your differences.  Love your uniqueness. 

If you meet others who are different than you, embrace them.  My general rule of thumb is; as long as they don’t bring harm to children, animals, or other people, I can accept them. 

Acceptance isn’t the same as liking the person. You don’t have to like someone to accept them. You don’t have to be everyone’s friend. You should, however, accept yourself and like yourself! Try it. You’ll be surprised how much easier it is for others to accept and like you as well! 

I am fascinated by drones and their technology – HaliPawz

I am fascinated by drones and their technology.  Technically, a drone is an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAVs).  They come in various shapes, sizes, technology, and functions.  The original concept behind a drone was for them to do something unmanned that could potentially be too risky to do with a manned unit.  The drone can be controlled remotely or can fly autonomously through software-controlled flight plans in their embedded systems working in conjunction with GPS.  The military has been using them for years.  Some of them will amaze you on their size and capabilities.

Top Ten Military Drones

Drones aren’t just for military use though.  Back in 2013, Amazon introduced us to their concept of Amazon Prime Air where they would have drones deliver packages to customers within 30 minutes of purchase in some markets.  Their goal was to have this feature up and running by 2015.

Here is it, 2015, and Amazon was hit with a lot of concerns over the last couple of years.  U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) considers anything flying under 400 feet and in an operator’s line of sight to be a model airplane and you do not need a license to operate them. Since Amazon’s drones would not be within the line of site of an operator, FAA has been reluctant to allow this to move forward.  Other concerns Amazon faced were the drones getting caught in trees or poles, not being able to sense objects in their way quick enough, the drones being hacked into, and even theft of the package or the drone as it was in flight.

 These are all very valid concerns considering the drones would not be watched.  Another problem Amazon faces is the fact that, since FAA is so slow to make decisions regarding the drones, by the time anything is approved to move forward, the drone they had under consideration is already obsolete and the new one has to be considered.

Just recently, there were considerable new advancements regarding Amazon Prime Air.  The FAA granted Amazon an experimental certificate where they can conduct some tests and experiments with certain drones.  Is it a win for Amazon?  Not quite.  The certificate comes with a lot of rules attached.  The flights must be done during daylight hours, must stay under 400 feet, and has to remain in the line of sight of an operator.  What I find interesting about these rules is that it sounds like they are saying, hey, it’s ok to go ahead and operate a drone as a model airplane, which is not what Amazon wants.  But, that’s not all!  The FAA takes it one step further and has said the operator must possess a private pilot license and recent medical certification!  Amazon must also provide monthly updates to the FAA, breaking down the number of flights and any pertinent information regarding hardware or software failure.  Another policy, which I found to be very restricting, is that they drone is not allowed to fly over anyone who is not in control of it.  So not only do these LICENSED PILOTS have to stay within sight of the drone, be in complete control of the drone, they also have to make sure it doesn’t go over anyone’s head as it’s flying to its destination! It seems like a feature Amazon hoped to be able to offer to their customers just got extremely complicated. Amazon admits it is already offering drone delivery in some countries where the regulations are not so restricted.  It would seem to me the FAA would take some of those test studies into account, but it doesn’t appear that they are.

Amazon isn’t the only company experimenting with Drones for delivery.  Dominos tested drones in the London area to deliver pizzas with some great success.  The pizza’s arrived quickly and were still hot.

While I admire the technology of companies using them for delivery, I am even more fascinated with the advancing technology in drones available to the average person, well, based on the price, maybe not the average person, but still available for the private consumer.  The one I am currently in love with is the Airdog auto follow action sports drone.  This drone tracks you where you are.  You set the angle and height you want it to be and then take off doing whatever action you are doing and it stays with you!  It has built-in stabilizers to keep the video clear and crisp. All I can think about is the number of ways this technology could be used.  To be able to get a bird’s eye view of any activity or event you are doing would be pretty exciting.  Even a simple trail ride on horseback, you would be able to have a complete video from the day.  Here is a video of it in action.

Of course, the $1300 price tag is a little difficult to swallow!

A close second favorite of mine is the AscTec Firefly with Intel Real Sense Technology. Being safety conscience, I think I like it for its ability to avoid any obstacle, including humans.  German designed, it uses 6 Real Sense cameras to create a 360 degree view to provide autonomy and more safety.  This one is more fascinating to me because of the technology aspect, not necessarily as one for the average person to purchase.

The technology of drones continues to improve every year and I am sure we will continue to be amazed by them.

The FAA estimates private drones will be a $90 Billion industry within the next ten years.  Guess I’m not the only one fascinated by them!

This was originally posted on Randomocity Podcast Network’s Site March 26, 2015

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Crouton Cups gone awry, sorta – HaliPawz

I am not one of those beautiful hostess types. You know, the ones whom, when you walk in their house, you ooh and ahh over the splendor of everything? Yeah, I’m lucky if I get the house cleaned and food prepared before the guests arrive.  I love to host gatherings in my home though.  My friends know the house might not be picture perfect but they will get enough to eat and drink…isn’t that all that really matters?

I was having a wine tasting in my home this past Saturday.  I’ve never been much of a wine drinker, but went to a wine tasting at a friend’s house a few years ago and fell in love with a couple of PRP International wines! I went from not drinking wine EVER to ordering a case of red wine.  I still can’t go to a restaurant and order a glass, I won’t like it, but I do love some of theirs.  I will have friends and family say they aren’t much of a wine drinker, I tell them my story, they try it, like it, and we laugh about it.  I should probably start selling it as it is the only wine I buy.

As I was planning my menu, I decided I wanted cheese of course, but I wanted appetizer type food.  I had considered meatballs, but decided I wanted cooler foods. It is June after all! Pasta Salad!

Italian Dressing, Rotini, Colby Jack

Simple, Fresh, Pasta Salad with Bacon, Cucumber, and Cheese

I really wanted pasta salad.  Wait, pasta salad isn’t exactly “finger food”. My thoughts start spinning.  I know! What if I made an edible cup to put them in? I had made Parmesan cups for Caesar Salad before but they were pretty time consuming. They were good. I was thinking about putting in the recipe I used, went to look for it, and came across this one! I HAVE NOT tried this, but it makes sense and is a LOT easier than the ones I made, so try it. Let me know if you like it or not.  If I try it, I’ll update this post.

Back to my edible cup dilemma.  I’m racking my brain and it comes to me, crouton cups! What a great idea.  Except I have no idea how to even make regular croutons, let alone a cup.  Would it be big enough? Would it even work? I’m patting myself on the back for such a great idea.  Off to Google to look for crouton recipes.  I put in “crouton cups” and site after site pops up. I realize I’m not so inventive after all.  Cooks, real cooks, have already thought of them.  I decided to not to reinvent the wheel, so I read through a few to find one I think I can manage.  This is the one I chose to work make, never planning on making any changes. Now I had no expectation of mine turning out as pretty as hers did in the photo. She recommended to use a firm bread, nothing airy.  Off to Google again to find out which bread is densest. The problem with that search is I kept finding out how to make bread less dense instead of which bread would be the densest.  I wasn’t going to bake my bread, so I had to make do with what I picked up.

I settled on Sara Lee Honey Wheat Bread. I wish I could tell you why, but no clue.  It just sounded the best for my pasta salad.

I get home and as I’m about to start making it, I’m trying to think of what seasonings to use to complement my pasta salad…and then it hits me.  The olive oil or butter from the recipe are both liquids.  The Italian dressing is a liquid. Why not change the recipe a little! It made sense to me until I put the pan in the oven.  Then I panicked as I started smelling the Italian dressing.  Can you cook dressing? Will it start on fire?!?! Am I ruining my oven?!?? All these thoughts! Now you see why I say I’m a messy cook, I normally follow recipes to avoid scares like this!

They were done!

Italian Dressing

Baked Italian Dressing Crouton Cups

And they looked croutonish! Success! Well, at least in appearance.

They didn’t look anything like the beautiful picture In the original recipe I used for a base. They looked edible, which is a start.

I let them cool while I finished preparing my other items.

I ended up serving gourmet cheese,

Gourmet Cheeses on Michigan Chalkboard Serving Tray

my pasta salad with crouton cups, deli spiral sandwiches, assorted melons, strawberries, and for my chocolate; brownie bites with cream cheese frosting available and peanut butter / Hershey kiss cookies.  As you can see, I rely on Sam’s Club for many of my hostessing items! It’s easier and less time consuming.

Now, full disclosure, my guests opted for putting my Italian Crouton Cups on their plate and then putting the pasta salad over top, they didn’t really use them in the finger food style I had imagined….but they would have worked and they tasted great!

Great food, great wine, great friends….roll it up and you have success!

For the recipe for the Pasta Salad, click here

For the recipe for the Italian Crouton Cups, click here

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The Dryer welcomed a visitor I did not invite – HaliPawz

Yesterday, as I was waiting for mom to get ready to leave the house, I remembered I had thrown some towels in the washer. Running downstairs, I opened the dryer and saw some clothes in there.  No surprise.  I’m horrible about emptying it. I hang all my shirts up to dry, so there is never anything in there that can’t be.  With mom here, I’m always finding Kleenex remnants in the laundry. She always has a Kleenex with her and I am always missing them before I wash, no matter how hard I look.  As I’m folding the clothes, I see a rubbery thing near the zipper of one of her jeans.  I’m thinking….what in the world did she leave in her pocket this time? I go to pick it up and as my hand hits the rubbery thing, I scream (a small one), pull my hand away, and do the “icky” dance.  It is a SNAKE!!!

 

jeans, washer & dryer, dead snake, baby snake, snake in home

Baby Snake in Dryer

Yes, I freak out.  I don’t deny it.  I hate snakes! Albeit, this was a very very tiny one, but still I’m freaked.

Wait, it’s not moving.  Is it dead? I stare at it. Do snakes pretend to be dead when they are frightened? I stare some more.  No, they slither away.  Yes, conversations are running through my head rapidly.  Still staring.

Ok, take a breath.  You can do this.  I grab my trash can and move it next to the dryer.  I’ll just pick up the jeans and then dump the snake into the garbage. Simple.

I start to reach in, being careful as to not put my hands or arms anywhere where this vicious snake could come up and strike me and kill be.  The snake slips a little and ends up between the zipper opening and is now touching the dryer! I jump back.

Ugh! Now what to do.

I close the dryer door.  I’m done. I can’t do it.

I HAVE to do it.  I can’t leave it in there.  Ok, I go upstairs looking for something to help me. I shut the door on the dryer to make sure the 50 other baby snakes I can’t see don’t slither into my basement while I’m gone.

I tell mom what’s going on.  She starts talking about the guy eating the snake on Naked & Afraid the night before and then she thought about snakes and now there’s one in my dryer.  She hates snakes.  Yup, right there with you mom.

I grab a plastic Wal-Mart bag so I can pick it up like scooping poop.  I’ll lift it out and throw it away.

I open the dryer door and, for some reason, freak out all over again.  I quickly run through the list of friends I could call to come help.  NO! It is a DEAD baby snake.  I CAN do this!

Oh wait….take a picture.  No one will believe me.  Plus they’ll laugh at me over how small it is.  I still have to take one.  Carefully…so as not to get bit…line the phone up.  Turn the flash on because it’s too dark. Got it.

Now to scoop it up.  I can’t tough it.  My finger is still giving me phantom “icky” vibes where it touched it before, even though I’ve washed my hands three times already.  I look around.  I see a mitt I have for wiping the dogs paws when they are wet / muddy.  I put it on.  Grab the bag. I go in. Quickly reach down, scoop, squeeze, throw.  I honestly couldn’t tell if I connected with anything through the thick mitt or not.

dog paws, clean, muddy paws
Success!!!! The snake was no longer there!

I threw the jeans on the floor, looked all over the dryer, and then threw the towels in.

The jeans immediately went into the washer along with some other dark clothes.  Had to wash them.  They were filthy from dead, rubbery, snake.

Phew! I did it.  With limited freak outs and lots of deep breaths.  Did not matter.  I did it!

Went upstairs to show my mom the picture.  Her first question….did you put it on Facebook? Well not yet! I was too busy trying to catch it! Well throw it away.

Of course I posted it. I had to. I still have no clue how it got there. I really don’t want to think about it.  All I know is, next time my dryer wants to invite a visitor into my home, I hope it asks for permission!

 

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When Christians believe the Apostles spoke English – HaliPawz

I have stated in more than one post about my frustration with Organized Religion.  I don’t like the judgement so many Christians have for others, when they, themselves, are not sin free.  I think it is just an example of the time we live in, everyone wants everyone else to believe and think just like they do.  I am opinionated, I don’t deny it, but I try to be respectful of others as long as they are respectful of me and my thoughts.  I have actually had a change of opinion because of a healthy conversation with another person on more than one occasion.  What I don’t have tolerance for is when someone argues with me about my beliefs and they, themselves, not only have a difference of opinion but, in fact, have no concept of reality!

I am not completely against finding a new church home.  When I am invited to a church, I will do some research and sometimes I will even go visit it.  I received a note on social media from a man and he was inviting me to his church.  This was new, I had never had a church invite from a complete stranger before, but I messaged him back, thanking him, and asked him some more questions about the church.  He explained he was an associate pastor at the church and I discovered it was close to my house.  I wouldn’t mind finding a good church close by, so I wanted to learn a little more. I have a few standard questions I always try to find answers to before I even decide to go to a church.

Here are a few of them:

  • What is the doctrine of the church?  This is the written body of teachings that is generally accepted by the church.  I have to know what their doctrine, is it something I can support? Is there anything in it I don’t believe in?  A church is like any other organization you are going to be part of, if you don’t support their teachings, you shouldn’t be part of their teachings.
  • What is the church’ statement of faith?  This is a statement of shared beliefs.  This is, in my own words, the doctrine rolled up into a pretty statement to be understood easily.  Again, if their statement of faith isn’t something you can support or get behind, it might not be the church for you.
  • What is the Mission Statement? This is the Church’s purpose, reason for being.  Who they are and what they do
  • How does the church feel about women in leadership?  What roles do they allow women to be in?  This may not be important to everyone, but it is to me.  I had a friend invite me to her church and when I went online to look into the church, I realized they didn’t allow any women in leadership roles.  I asked her why and she said it was because it was Biblical based.  I asked what verses in the Bible stated that and she couldn’t tell me.  I have a problem with that.  If your church takes such a stand like this and says it’s Biblical based but does not share HOW they came to that conclusion, how based is it?
  • What is the ethnic makeup of the church?  Again, it isn’t for everyone, but I want a multi-cultural Church.  Sadly, in Kansas City, there isn’t a lot of multi-cultural churches.
  • How many offerings does it collect during a normal service?  I get annoyed at churches that take two and three different offerings.  It’s a preference thing.

Once I have those answers, then I will proceed.  I started asking the questions about this potential church.  He asked if he could call me to discuss.  Sadly, I was still thinking this was about the Church invite and nothing more, so I agreed.  He seemed annoyed by my questions right off the bat.  He asked why I needed to know the Mission Statement and Doctrine.  He was telling me it was a good church and that should have been enough for me.  I should have stopped the conversation right there, but I didn’t.  I kept talking to him with the thought I could help him understand the importance of these questions for future conversations he has with others.  I was trying to help him!  I decided he probably just didn’t know the answer and didn’t want to admit it, so I moved on to ask about the ethnic makeup and activities of the church.  He answered them with no problem.  Then he started asking me a couple of questions.  Did I believe in following the words of the Bible?, he asked me.  I thought it was an interesting question but wasn’t sure where he was going, so I answered it honestly.  I explained how I believed in the original writings of the Bible but felt it had been adjusted and changed to fit the needs of the man commissioning it, so you had to study before accepting the words as Gospel.  I then pointed out study was important anyway because the Bible said:

“Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth” – 2 Timothy 2:15 NASB

Accurately handling the word of truth is the key!  You can’t take words that fit where you want them to and ignore other words.  As I was breaking this down to him, he sorta blew my comment off and asked if I believed women should be submissive to men.  What the h*ll???  Where did that come from?  Ahhhh, he wasn’t about inviting me to Church, he was trying to get a date.  It was all coming clear to me.  Again, I should have just hung up, but now I was prepared to just have some fun.  A small part of me was disappointed though because now I knew I wouldn’t be checking out this church.   It also was a chance to argue about “wives submit” as it is understood in the Bible.  I started to explain to him that in the Greek writing, submission has different meanings depending on the context in which it is written because the language is a pictorial language, very different from English.  You have to understand it based on the surrounding text.  I tried to explain submission, hupotasso and hupakoe, can mean “listen attentively to”, it can mean “to lift one up”, but it has a military base, meaning that, even if there is a hierarchy of power, we still need to think things through and not just comply because someone said so.  Yes, I know I broke this down vaguely and perhaps, one day I will put it in more understanding words for everyone, but for the purpose of this blog, I’ll leave it at that, because the sad part is what was to follow.

He told me he didn’t care what the Greek bible said, he followed the King James Bible.  I was confused.  I paused, then tried to point out it wasn’t the “Greek” Bible, but the actual writings in the Bible.  The King James Bible was commissioned by King James back in 1604.  He replied, “I speak English and I follow the English Bible, The King James Bible!”

I was lost.  Was he serious?  Maybe I was just doing a poor job of communicating, so I decided to take a different route.  I tried explaining the Bible was originally written in a different language and then translated to English.  I explained King James is just like the other translations, just written in Old English.  I know different churches follow different editions of the Bible.  Almost every predominantly black Church I have ever been in tends to follow the King James Version, so I understood why he was loyal to the King James Bible, but I didn’t understand why he was arguing with me about the writing of the original Bible.

I was just about done with the conversation, realizing we were just going back and forth, when reality dawns on me…..I paused for a minute.  I asked him the following question:

Hey, you know the twelve apostles?  Matthew, John, Simon, etc….when they were walking around, talking to Jesus, what language do you think they spoke to each other?

His reply was one of the best I have ever heard in my life……

English of course

I lost it.  I couldn’t help it.  I think I laughed the loudest I have ever laughed at the time.  Then sadness hit me.  Here is an associate pastor of a good size local church who honestly believed the Bible was written in English.  He believed the apostles spoke English.  With such a myopic view of the world, how biblical based could any teachings of his be?  This is a true example of one of the things wrong with organized religion today.  We have uneducated, uninformed, leaders who have just blindly followed the teachings of those before them and teaching those behind him to blindly follow as well.

So now, in addition to the above questions…..when someone asks me to visit their church, one of my first questions I ask, “What language did the apostles speak when they spoke with Jesus?”

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