Summer Happenings

Well hello friends! It’s been a while, and I had a few minutes – for the first time in what seems like ages – so I figured I’d give you a quick update on what we’ve been up to this summer!

If my lack of presence on the blog doesn’t give it away, we’ve been rather busy this summer! Here’s a sneak peak at some of the highlights!

At the beginning of June, we took a trip back to Minnesota, and what a wonderful trip it was! In a matter of ten days I got to watch my brother get married… jason_wedding

We hung out with the Sendelbach family at Jellystone…

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And I got to stand by one of my college roommates as she married the man of her dreams.

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After we got back, we had just a few short weeks to get the house put together enough for visitors. That’s right, Steve’s brothers Ryan and Nathan decided to drive out to visit us and spend fourth of July weekend with us!

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And what better way to spend the fourth of July then by watching fireworks at our Nation’s Capitol!

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We also took the boys to Steven F. Udvay-Hazy Center, a hangar associated with the Air and Space Museum. The hangar included tons of planes and space items. We got to see an SR-71 Blackbird, the Enola Gay, and an actual space shuttle!

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Ryan and Nathan weren’t our only visitors this summer; Steve’s other brother, Phil, and his wife Emily came to visit just a few weeks ago.

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And somehow in the midst of all the trips, visitors, and adventures, we managed to get some home improvement projects done! Like our guest bedroom… spare_room

As summer winds down, we’ve been hitting the home renovations hard. We’re currently in the process of finishing our stairs, and we’re hoping to have most of our current projects finished by October. Stay tuned for updates!

Until our next adventure,

Amanda

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Kitchen cabinets and a weekend with dad {renovation update #8}

We’re finally starting to get back in the swing of home renovations. After all the moving and unpacking, we needed a little bit of a break. Not to mention that the weather here has been gorgeous lately making it hard to focus on renovations inside.

Our goal at move-in was to have a fully functioning kitchen, and I am glad to report that we achieved exactly that. The kitchen may not be 100% finished yet, but it is definitely usable!

When we last left off in the home renovation saga, we had just finished installing the hardwood floors, and we were finally ready for kitchen cabinets! As with some of the other projects that we’ve tackled in the house, Steve and I had no idea how to install cabinets. Usually we resort to YouTube and the internet, but we got lucky this time; we had an expert carpenter who was going to come help us! That’s right, my dad, who used to be a full-time carpenter, flew out for the weekend to help us set all of the cabinets!

We actually began the kitchen design process back in November before we even closed on the house. When we were doing our home inspection, we took measurements of the kitchen and started talking to a few kitchen design centers to see what options we had. We knew we were going to put in a brand new kitchen and we had a pretty good handle on a logical design for the space, but we definitely wanted some expert opinions. A new kitchen is a pretty big investment!

After talking with our buddy Jim over at Cabinet Discounters, here’s what we came up with.

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We had decided on maple cabinets that were a toffee color with a more traditional door style. We ended up purchasing cabinets that were pretty middle of the road price-wise. We weren’t willing to shell out a lot of money for total custom cabinets, but we weren’t really impressed with the options available with the cheapest cabinets.

Even though we did our designing in November, we didn’t actually order the cabinets until February. We wanted to make sure that our load bearing wall could be taken down and our water lines could be relocated before placing the final order. After placing our order, it didn’t take more than a few weeks, and they were sitting taking over our living room!

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Luckily, my dad came only a few days after the cabinets were delivered. Even though we weren’t living in the house at the time, they took up an awful lot of space that we were ready to reclaim. So with everything in place, the cabinet fun began! Step number one, take the cabinets out of the box.

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We hang the upper cabinets first. After locating and marking all the studs and determining the height at which we wanted the cabinets to be, it was time to hang the first one in place.

We started in the corner and worked from left to right. We had snapped a chalk line at the appropriate height, so we just lined it up and attached it to both the wall and to the cabinet next to it.

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Attaching cabinets to each other

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Measuring and then measuring some more

The uppers were smooth sailing until we got to the very last cabinet, and even then, nothing went wrong, it just got a bit more complicated. Due to the length of the wall and the bulkhead, we had to do a little bit of detail work. First, we had to use what they call filler strips to properly space the cabinets.

We also had to notch a corner out of the cabinet for the bulkhead. Of course this bulkhead wasn’t a 90 degree corner so the cut we had to make wasn’t a right angle, but luckily for us, it was no match for our master carpenter.

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With the uppers in place, it was time to tackle the lower cabinets.

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The first thing we did was get all of the cabinets out of boxes and set up in the correct order.

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This was after one day of work…not too shabby considering we had installed the floors in the morning and only spent the afternoon on the cabinets!

Despite what you may think, the lower cabinets were actually much harder than the upper cabinets to get started. With the uppers, we simply placed the cabinet in the corner and attached it to the wall. However, with the lower cabinets the corner cabinets were lazy susans, which were round and didn’t fit snugly against the wall. Let’s just say there was lots of measuring and leveling involved.

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We learned that the most important tool when installing cabinets is a level!

Similarly to the upper cabinets, once level and in position, the lower cabinets were screwed to the wall, if possible, and to each other. We also screwed the cabinets in the peninsula to the floor to ensure they didn’t move around before the granite was delivered.

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After all the uppers and lowers were in place, we had one last cabinet to install. There was a cabinet and a wooden panel to install over the refrigerator.

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It makes me so happy to see my two favorite boys working together!

With the cabinets all in place, it was time to start putting on the finishing touches. First up, crown molding! It didn’t take my dad long to admit that he wasn’t exactly thrilled that we had crown molding, mainly because he had never worked with it before. However, after putting all our heads together and a few many, many tries we were able to get the angles correct and the molding nailed in place.

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It was fun to get a chance to work with my dad again!

The next finishing detail was the toe kick, which was really pretty simple. When the cabinets arrive, they do not have the toe kick finished, and after you put all the cabinets in place it looks a little something like this.

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To cover all the gaps in between the cabinets then sent us a thin strip of wood that matched the color of the cabinets. All we had to do was measure the appropriate length, cut it, and attach it with the brad nailer.

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The final task we had left was to fill in all of the holes we had just made. With the cabinets we got a wax stick that was the same color as the cabinets. Then it was time to pull out the rusty crayon coloring skills from Kindergarten. That’s right, you literally just colored the holes until they disappeared. It was a lot of fun!

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And with that we had a kitchen!

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Don’t get me wrong, we still had some work to do, like getting counter tops and tiling a back splash, but it was starting to look like a kitchen! We had a great time with my dad, and we are incredibly grateful and thankful for all of his help! Next time he comes to visit I’ll be able to cook him some tasty food!

Until our next renovation update,

Amanda

Hershey Park {round 2}

Spring is finally here!

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The view off our deck

And springtime means our annual trip to Hershey Park! If you recall, every year Steve’s company rents out the entire amusement park. We still have to pay for our tickets, but they are at a discounted price, and the best part is that because tickets are limited to Northrop Grumman friends and family, the lines for all the rides are really short!

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Welcome to Hershey Park!

We carpooled with our friends Andrew and Felicia, and we met up with some of Steve’s co-workers for lunch and a few roller coasters.

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Steve and Felicia don’t really like roller coasters, so they found their way to the arcade while Andrew and I (and others) were out riding the coasters.

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Skee-Ball!

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Steve and Felicia showing off their winnings from the arcade!

I was able to get Steve on one roller coaster called the Trail Blazer.

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I’ll take any chance I can get to ride a roller coaster with this guy!

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We also made sure to go on some rides that weren’t roller coasters. First up, the Kissing Tower!

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A view of the park from the top of the Kissing Tower!

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We also hit up the ferris wheel.

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What this picture doesn’t show is the cold rain pelting us!

And what is a trip to an amusement park without some junk food!

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Bacon Ranch Cheesy Fries…DELICIOUS!!!

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This picture pretty much sums us up.

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Felicia searched far and wide for a funnel cake…and she finally found one!

We had great weather until about 4:00, when it started to rain. We had been there since it opened at 10:00, so we decided to hit up Chocolate World and then head home.

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The infamous singing animatronic cows!

We had a great time with some great friends, and we can’t wait to go again next year!

Until our next adventure,

Amanda

Fall fun

Fall is finally upon us! There are some really great things about fall – the leaves changing color, visits to apple orchards, and finding the perfect pumpkin to turn into a carved masterpiece. However, fall also means that winter is right around the corner, which I’m not quite prepared for yet. So instead of jumping ahead, let’s take a look at some of the fall adventures we’ve had out on the East coast.

Fall means football, and even though we’re out in Maryland, we’ve managed to catch all of the Packer games. Luckily for us, many of the games have actually been on national television, so we’ve been able to watch them right at home. For the games that aren’t aired on the local station due to one of the bazillion teams within the viewing area of our house, we go to the Packer bar that we’ve discovered. I hope to write a post about the bar sometime in the future because it honestly feels like being right back in Wisconsin.

Speaking of the Packers, they were my inspiration for pumpkin carving this year. We were watching the Sunday night game against the Vikings while I was about to begin carving our pumpkin, and I was stumped about what to carve. It didn’t take me long to realize that the Packer G would make a GREAT pumpkin.  After about 15 minutes of working my pumpkin magic, we had this beauty glowing in our living room!

APPLE13In addition to pumpkin carving, I also had an itch to make a trip to an apple orchard. I had been craving some fresh baked apple crisp! One of my co-workers, Kaitlin, also wanted to hit-up an apple orchard, so we decided to make an adventure out of it.

APPLE4It was about lunchtime when decided to head out, so we had found a raved about restaurant to stop at. The restaurant was called Town Grill and was known for its BBQ. What was didn’t know, was that the restaurant was attached to a gas station. A restaurant like this can usually mean one of two things – the restaurant is really sketchy or absolutely delicious. I am happy to report that this restaurant was the latter, absolutely delicious!

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And this is why Kaitlin and I get along so well! 🙂

I ordered an open face turkey sandwich – Turkey, mashed potatoes, and gravy all on top of a piece of bread- and it was amazing! I’m a little sad I didn’t try the BBQ while we were there, but it was one of those cool fall days where all I wanted was something warm to eat, and BBQ just didn’t sound like it was going to hit the spot. Plus, they didn’t have as large of a selection of BBQ due to the end of summer. Steve and I decided that we are definitely going back next spring to check out their ribs.

APPLE1Then it was off to pick some apples! We went to a farm in Western Howard County called Larriland Farms. This farm is absolutely massive and everything is pick-your-own. They had everything ranging from pumpkins to apples to flowers to tomatoes to beets. If it weren’t for Steve keeping me on track, there’s a good chance I would have come home with much more than just apples!

The apple orchard was located at the very back of the farm. When we finally got back there, we had to make a decision about what type of apples we wanted. At the time of fall when we were there, they had Braeburn, Fuji, and Stayman apples in season. We decided upon Stayman because they had the tart taste that Steve likes and they were all-purpose for my baking.

APPLE3We could tell the orchard had been pretty busy because the trees had been pretty picked over at the front. For a while I was worried that there wouldn’t be any apples left for us, but as we reached the end of the rows there were plenty of apples left.

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See, no apples!

APPLE6The trees at this orchard had been pruned so that they were short and the top of the tree could be reached by almost anybody. This made picking apples very convenient, especially for us short people!

APPLE7After we finished filling our bags, we headed to check out. They had cute little check-out stands set up right in the orchard. It was pay by the pound, so they simply weighed your apples and you paid them right then and there.

APPLE10We ended up with a total of 24 pounds of apples, but I had plans for each and every one of those pounds – apple crisp, canned homemade applesauce, and apples for lunches.

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Ever wondered what 24 pounds of apples look like? Well, now you know!

With our apples in hand, we decided to check out the barn they had on the main part of the farm. We weren’t sure what was all up there, but figured it was worth checking out. The barn was full of pre-picked apples, pumpkins, gourds, and anything related to baking with apples. We ended up with a half-gallon of fresh apple cider and an apple corer/peeler/slicer. With 24 pounds of apples needing peeled in my future, I figured it would come in handy.

Then it was time to head home. We had a great day enjoying the fall weather, and I was anxious to start baking! Here is a peek at a few of my baked goodies!

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Apple crisp! This picture definitely doesn’t do this justice…it was DELICIOUS!

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My first canned applesauce!

What’s your favorite apple treat?

Until our next adventure,

Amanda

Glass blowing with the birthday boy

I have officially decided that from now on October is to be known as ‘the month of the birthdays’. I have so many friends and family members with birthdays in October that I can’t even count them on all my fingers and my toes! While all of my friends and family are important, the most important birthday in October is Steve’s. This year he didn’t just get to celebrate any old birthday, but this year was the big 3-0!

Since this was such a big birthday, I wanted to do something really special for him. I tried to think of something really neat to buy him, but he is one of the hardest people to buy something for. After banging my head against the wall for a while and researching the one idea I had only to find out it wasn’t really feasible, I decided to focus my attention towards an experience rather than a gift. Steve and I have always enjoyed doing things together way more than buying gifts for one another, and I had come stumbled across something in the past that I knew would be perfect!

Steve has always been fascinated by the art of glass blowing due to it’s roots in physics and chemistry. A lot of the fancy equipment that he works with in the lab used to be blown by professional glass blowers. We’ve seen glass blowing demonstrations before, but Steve has always talked about wanting to learn how to blow glass. When I stumbled upon a glass blowing studio in Baltimore that had do-it-yourself date nights, I knew it was something we had to go do.

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Check out the fountain the studio had created!

McFadden Art Glass Studio is a glass blowing studio located in Baltimore. I had heard about a date night that they offered, which involved a demonstration by one of the artists followed by a chance to make your own glass masterpiece. I wasn’t really sure how “hands on” the make your own part would be, but I decided it would be worth checking out.

GLASS4The date night supposedly started at 6:30, but we got there at 6:20 and it had already started. We were a little confused at first, thinking the demonstration going on was part of a different event, but it didn’t take us long to figure out that the date night demonstration had already started. At that point we grabbed some seats and enjoyed the show.

The artist doing the demonstration was Tim McFadden, who is actually the owner of the studio, and he was awesome! He was very knowledgeable about craft of glass blowing, he was great about explaining exactly what he was doing and why he was doing it, and he was just overall fun to watch. He really made glass blowing come to life! We were surprised when we talked to him afterwards and found out that he was only 29 years old!

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At first we weren’t sure what Tim was making during the demonstration, but he eventually mentioned that he was making a bowl. We never would have guessed that was what he was making just by looking at what he had when he showed up, but as the evening progressed it began more clear. Here’s what his finished product looked like.

GLASS3After Tim finished his demonstration, we had the opportunity to make our own piece of blown glass artwork. Only one person was able to make a piece at a time, so we had a little time to kill before it was our turn. This was great because it gave us a chance to step outside and cool off (90 degree weather + Furnaces heated to thousands of degrees = REALLY HOT!), as well as go check out Tim’s gallery. He had some pretty cool pieces that he had made!

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Coolest Bathroom Faucet EVER!

After what felt like forever, it was finally our turn to try our hand at blowing glass. The birthday boy got to go first, and he decided that he was going to make a green and gold tumbler.

The first step was to color the glass. We colored our glass by dipping the clear glass into little pieces of colored glass (Apparently there are other ways to color glass, but this is one of the easiest). You get different results depending on the size of the colored glass pieces. Steve dipped his in larger colored pieces, so he had clear glass with larger splotches of green and gold.

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Now that he had color, Steve had to heat up his glass some more so that he could begin to shape and blow it.

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When the glass was finally hot enough, Steve took a seat on the shapers bench and began to make it look like a drinking glass. The first thing he had to do was to blow the glass, which was a two person job. Tim helped Steve roll and shape the glass, and I did the blowing. I was actually pretty surprised at how hard it was to blow the glass. The main reason it was hard was because the pipe that I had to blow on was moving. You see, the most important rule about glass blowing is to always keep the glass spinning. This ensures that the glass doesn’t start dripping and become weird shaped.

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After blowing the glass, it was time to detach the cup. Using a little tweezers, Steve squeezed the glass where he wanted it cut off to weaken the glass. Then all it took was a tap by Tim on the rod, and it fell right off. Don’t worry, it didn’t fall on the ground; I got to wear some heavy duty insulated oven mitts to catch the glass before it hit the ground. The last step was placing the glass into an heated box to control the rate at which the glass cooled.

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GLASS15Then it was my turn! In the fall spirit, I decided I was going to make a pumpkin. I colored my glass in the same way as Steve, but the colored glass that I used was much finer, which ensured that my entire pumpkin would be orange, instead of just having orange splotches on clear glass.

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After heating my glass up, I had one extra step before having a seat on the shapers bench. In order to get the lines in my pumpkin, I had to use a mold. With Tim’s help, I placed my glass in the mold and blew just enough to expand the glass and imprint the lines, and then it was off to the bench.

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This time I got to roll the pipe and do the shaping, and Steve did the blowing. When I had what looked like a pumpkin, Tim helped me cut it off and then it was time to attach the stem.

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The paddle Tim was holding was to help block the heat radiating from the glass

While I was finishing the main part of the pumpkin, Steve had been preparing my stem. In order to attach the stem to the pumpkin, I got to play with a torch! The stem and the pumpkin needed to be about the same temperature when they were attached so that the glass wouldn’t crack. Since the stem was right out of the furnace and the pumpkin had cooled down while I was shaping it, I had to warm the pumpkin up with a torch. While I kept the glass hot with the torch, Tim attached the stem.

GLASS14Since our pieces needed about 12 hours to cool down at a controlled rate, we had to come back the next day to pick up our pieces. After seeing our finished products, I would have to say we did a pretty good job!

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GLASS2Overall we had a great time blowing glass! I would definitely recommend this place to anybody who is looking to try their hand at glass blowing!

Until our next adventure,

Amanda

Our first polo match

Hey everyone! Sorry I’ve been somewhat MIA lately and there haven’t been any new posts in a while. It’s not that we haven’t had any adventures, but rather that we’ve had so many adventures that I haven’t had time to get them all up on the blog!  It’s become so bad that I have adventures from back in September that I need to write about…and it’s now November. We’ve been experiencing adventures ranging from polo matches to birthdays to holiday parties at work to buying a house! Have no fear, they will all be shared on the blog, so I guess it’s best we get started!

Back in September we had the opportunity to attend yet another horse event. I know, you’re probably thinking that Steve and I are becoming quite the horse people, and I guess in some ways we are. We’ve been to a Steeplechase race and a show jumping competition, and about a month ago we had the opportunity to add a live polo match to our list of horse events!

A Catholic charity from Baltimore was hosting the match as a fundraiser, and it was supposed to be held back in June. However, due to bad weather and the difficulty of rescheduling, it got moved to September. We had no intentions of going back in June; we actually had no idea it was even happening back in June. Our friend Dusty, the horse guru from our church, had mentioned it to us that it had been rescheduled and we thought it sounded like a lot of fun.

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It was a pay-by-the-car kind of event, so we bought our parking pass, filled our car, and headed to check out what polo is all about. I knew it involved horses, mallets, and balls, and that was about it. Luckily the announcer at the event was great about explaining all the rules, plays, and traditions of polo.

A polo team is comprised of four riders, each on horseback. The goal of the game is to score goals by hitting a little white ball through the goal of the opposite team by using long handled mallets. Think something along the lines of croquet on horseback. In some senses polo is similar to almost any other sport – soccer, football, hockey – and it is, until you remember that the players are riding animals that weigh almost 1,000 pounds!

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The playing field for a polo match can be as large as 160 yards by 300 yards. When playing on a field that size, you begin to see the necessity of riding a horse. It wouldn’t take very long to become exhausted running back and forth on a field that massive. In fact, the horses get switched out throughout the game to give them a chance to catch their breath. In smaller matches, the horses may return to the field after taking a breather, but in championship matches the rider has a new horse for each portion of the game.

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At the beginning of the match, the players line up and are introduced

A typical polo match lasts about 90 minutes and is comprised of six 7 minute periods which are known as chukkers. When there are 30 seconds left in the chukker, a horn is sounded to let the players know that the end approaching. After each chukker, the players have a chance to swap out horses and grab a quick drink of water.

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To start a chukker, the horses all gather around and the ref tosses the ball into the middle

Almost all the rules and strategy in the game of polo are based around the idea of “the line of the ball”. The line of the ball is referred to as the imaginary line that follows the path of the ball and extends in the direction of the trajectory of the ball. The biggest rule in polo is that a player cannot cross this line. This is mainly for the safety of both the players and the horses. Can you imagine what it would be like getting hit in the ankles by golf balls? I can’t imagine it would be fun, and I bet this is what it would feel like for the horses to be hit by the polo ball. If a player crosses this line, the opposing team gets a penalty shot. The players that we watched were incredibly good about this. We only saw one or two fouls the entire match!

POLO1Just like every other sport, there is a halftime. For polo players and horses, halftime means that they get a little bit of recovery time. For the spectators it means partaking in an age old polo tradition – divot stamping. All the spectators are invited onto the polo field to essentially help fill in the divots created by the horses. That’s right, you just walk around the field and stomp on the divots to fill them in. We got the opportunity to partake in the tradition, and I have to say, it’s actually rather therapeutic.

POLO3Seeings as this was a charity match and not an official match, we got a little bonus at halftime. There is a sport in the horse world known as polocrosse. That’s right, if hitting a little ball with a croquet-like mallet while riding a horse wasn’t hard enough, try throwing the ball using a la crosse stick. Polocrosse is exactly what it sounds like – a cross between polo and la crosse. I have no idea how the players were able to catch a ball while riding a horse; needless to say, I was impressed.

POLO6Polo is an absolutely fascinating sport to watch. If you ever the the opportunity to attend a match in real life, I strongly recommend that you do so. It’s so amazing how such large creatures can be so graceful while playing such a competitive sport!

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Until our next adventure,

Amanda

A second Grand Prix, but this time with horses

You’re probably thinking to yourself, “Didn’t I just read a post about an adventure at a Grand Prix?” And you would be correct. However, in September we had the opportunity to attend not only one Grand Prix, but two of them!

Grand Prix literally means grand prize in French. That being said, it would not be unusual for any type of competition have a Grand Prix of sorts. According to Wikipeda, there appears to be a Grand Prix in competitions ranging from film festivals to chess to horses to car racing.

Our second Grand Prix was a horse jumping competition. It was being held as a fundraiser for the Howard County Community College. My company, Merkle, was one of the sponsors of the event, so I was able to get my hands on a few complimentary tickets to the event.

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Again, this was one of those events where we really didn’t know exactly what to expect. We knew it was a show jumping competition, but that was about it. Luckily for us, we had our friend Dusty along with us, who happens to have his own horse and do a little bit of show jumping himself.

The event started at 10, but we were in no hurry to be there the second the gates opened. We’ve learned from a few past adventures that an all day event is exactly that, an event that will last all day and if you show up when it starts you will be absolutely exhausted by the end of the day. Having learned our lesson before, we showed up at 11, right as the amateur woman’s class of jumping was drawing to an end. We watched them finish up and then decided to wander and check everything out.

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The competition was being held at the Marama Farm, a big horse farm in Clarksville, Maryland. There were vendors set up selling everything from horse themed home goods to make-up to food. We took a look at all the different booths, but we didn’t see anything we couldn’t live without.

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There was also a car show going on, sponsored by Ford. The most popular car at the show was the Mustang, which I thought was rather appropriate seeing as the Mustang symbol is a horse. Some other neat cars we saw included a 1950’s ladder truck and a car from the 1920’s.

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They also had a kid’s zone, which of course I wanted to check out. They had horses you could pet, mini jumps the kids could jump over pretending to be horses, and a pumpkin patch where the kids could pick a little pumpkin. Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus also made an appearance, getting an early lead on collecting Christmas letters for the upcoming holiday season.

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They saw me taking a picture of them from afar, so they asked me if I wanted a picture with them…of course!

We grabbed a quick bite to eat and headed back to the jumping arena. We could tell that they were getting ready to begin because there were riders all over the course. I have to admit that it looked a little silly at first, and I really didn’t understand what they were doing. It turns out that before all jumping competitions, the riders get a chance to walk the course. They do this to not only be sure that they know the order in which they are supposed to jump the fences, but also to get an idea of at what angle they need to approach the jump and how to take some of the corners.

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After the singing of the Star Spangled Banner, a quick showing of some of the cars from the car show, the introduction of some of the featured guests, one of whom happened to be a former Baltimore Raven’s player, and the introduction of the competitors, the competition began.

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Really wish I remembered his name…

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Note the ear covers that some of the horses are wearing. These are to help prevent bugs from flying into their ears while jumping.

One by one each horse and rider entered the arena. After they had entered, a buzzer would sound. The buzzer signified that the rider had 45 seconds to start the jumping course, which may not sound like much, but almost all the riders started within 25 seconds.

A rider started the clock by riding their horse between two motion sensors. They then proceeded to ride through the course, jumping all of the appropriate jumps, and at the end of the course, the clock was stopped in the same way.

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There are two different components to scoring a show jumping competition – time and penalties. The ultimate goal for the riders is to make it through the course under a specified time without knocking down any of the jumps.

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If you look closely at the jumps you will notice that there are often several different rails that make up a single jump. For every rail you knock off, you receive a penalty, in the form of extra seconds, added to your time. At this competition, every rail knocked off added four seconds to the final time. Similarly, every second you take over the goal time gets doubled and added to your time. One final way to incur a penalty is for the horse to refuse to jump over the obstacle. If a horse refuses a jump once, the rider gets a second chance. If the horse refuses the same jump or another jump again, the rider is disqualified from the competition.

At the end of the competition, all riders who made it through the course under the desired time without knocking any of the jumps down are invited back to the arena for a jump-off. In a jump-off, the course is changed and the jumpers all compete again. A similar scoring system is used and in the end, if multiple riders successfully complete the course without knocking any rails down, the fastest time wins.

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In this competition, six horses made it to the jump off and the tie breaker came down to the fastest time.

Between the qualifying round and the jump off, the local hunt club made an appearance. Since Maryland is horse country, there are a lot of these clubs around. They are very prestigious and belonging to one is similar to belonging to a country club. These clubs get together, release a bunch of hounds who chase a fox, all the while the club members follow the dogs on horseback. Fox hunting was originally used to catch and kill foxes, but now it is simply done for sport and the dogs and fox are trained to chase and not catch.

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The horses we saw jump at the Grand Prix were truly amazing! It was so beautiful to watch such large creatures jump with such grace.

Until our next adventure,

Amanda