Living cross-country from my family means I've missed a lot of milestones, adventures and thrills with them, especially my ten nieces and nephews. (Ages 12 - 28) But I fly home to Ohio as often as I can, usually 4 or 5 times a year, and try to cram as much time together as I possibly can in my always too short visits.
Over the years I somehow managed to time trips around the birth of several of the kids, and as they grew, checked schedules for special events and activities they'd be participating in so I could cheer them on in person from the sidelines.
One of those events was a horse show my baby sister's oldest daughter, Cee, participated in when she was 8 years old. She'd taken English and Western riding lessons for a while when the instructor arranged for a show competition complete with ribbons and judges so the kids could get the experience for future 4-H riding programs.
Yes, I'm a bragging Auntie, so you won't be surprised when I tell you Niece Cee won her very first blue ribbon-- 1st place in her 1st horse show! That was in 1998 and I have still this picture on my office bulletin board because it was such a special day that I was thrilled to have witnessed.
Fast forward to last week when Cee was in town for Spring Break from college and for the collegiate Semi-Final riding competition with her Midwestern university's equestrian team-- which just happened to be held in Los Angeles over the weekend. (Lucky me!)
We spent five great days together taking in all the usual tourist attractions and girl-talking before I dropped her off with the team to buckled down and prepare for their big competition on Saturday and Sunday.
I'm at the age when I regularly feel "the changing of the guard" so to speak, as the younger generation matures into adulthood and I step back and watch them spread their independent wings taking them to college, into marriages and even parenthood.
It seems like just yesterday I was knitting baby blankets for them. Now we're discussing career plans, life goals and baby names while I'm in awe of their many accomplishments.
And speaking of accomplishments-- Cee's team won 1st place in the Semi Finals competition which qualified them for the National Championship competition next month in Kentucky! Not bad for a little girl who's first horse show was in a small pasture wearing a pair of too big riding boots and a very proud smile.
Watching Cee ride, seeing her success and her team's victory was a blue ribbon moment for me.
Have you had a blue ribbon moment lately?
Welcome to The Fifty Factor - Joanna Jenkins
PS I'm back from Spring Break vacation (and resting up from vacation!) and will be making the rounds to catch up with you all this weekend. xo jj
Photo Credit: Joanna Jenkins