10 December 2017

Who She Is

The week that our membership was due to expire at The Indy Children's Museum, the girls also had a break from school and I decided to treat them to a trip there. One of the first things we usually do is go up to the carousel so we can get a ride or two in before continuing our visit. Several of the horses are immobile so younger kids can ride without being jostled too much but the unfortunate downside is that more often than not, a kid that ends up on an immobile carousel horse isn't particularly happy about it. It's a carousel, after all! As luck would have it, the girls ended up at the very front of the line and were guaranteed their first pick of horses. Right behind them was a girl, who was obviously very excited about the prospect of going on a carousel because, as she told us, it would be her very first time. She'd budged her way to the front, leaving her dad far behind because he couldn't walk very well due to crutches. When we were let on my kids all found a horse and immediately jumped on (it's all that family training time, I tell you). Right before the ride was about to start though, the girl who'd run onto the ride right after my kids was still wandering the carousel, very close to tears at being unable to find a horse that went up and down. Without a second thought, Evelyn called her over, slid off her carousel horse--the one she'd picked first and loved the most--and offered it to the girl, so her first carousel ride would be a memorable one. I helped the girl onto Evelyn's horse, choking back a few tears of my own while the girl waved to her father on the sidelines. Evelyn quietly climbed onto one of the horses that didn't move and gave me a shy smile. I think she understood the magnitude of what she'd done for the girl.
Forever the attentive big sister.
It was a small, perhaps not world-changing event but to me, Evelyn taught me a memorable lesson on charity. It's who she is and I'm so happy to have her shining example to remind me that even the simplest act of service can make all the difference.

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09 December 2017

Training Time

Today, we got snow. There's no denying that we're on the way to winter and, as much as I'd like, that means a reduction in time outside with the animals and in particular, riding. So last week, knowing that the weather was going to take a nose dive, we took advantage of the warm temperatures and sunshine.
Jack doesn't usually get home until the sun is well on its way below the horizon but at the new school, the girls step off the bus a whole forty-five minutes earlier. So, we hurry and get outside so we can have a little family training time.
First, I get on. It's not totally out of selfishness. I mean, I invented horse obsession in our family BUT it's also a matter of safety. As good as our old Stoney is, he still has a few bucks and gallops in him. So, once he's had a solid workout and he's gotten over feeling his oats, it's the kids' turn.
That has to be one of the weirdest things Stoney has ever seen. A girl training another girl? Uhhhh.....
Of course, the whole time I'm riding, they're doing some training of their own, complete with helmets, lunge lines and whips. Stoney is sure he's hallucinating when he sees them racing around, neighing and snorting while the other gives commands similar to what he hears when we're ground training. Weird to him, hilarious to me.
They have to ride in my saddle so they get a lot of training time without using stirrups. Good for the balance.
We have a small round pen and though it's a bit small for me to really do any hot and heavy training in it, it's perfect for the kids. Stoney knows he has boundaries and the kids get their own turn on the horse.
For the most part, Zoey helps out by being extremely happy watching all the action from her stroller. It's her own version of farm TV.
We haven't forgotten about Dancer, either. Someday soon, she'll be our go-to horse to ride, so she gets equal training time. She's lovingly brushed and has her hooves picked out and when she's all groomed...
Henry's favorite part: brushing the tail.
...she gets exercise. She works up a decent sweat but she really seems to enjoy herself. Dancer is quite smart and picks up quickly on what I'm asking. Whether or not she wants to comply is another question. But, that's the name of the game when working with a creature with a mind and personality of its own. That's part of the challenge and fun of it all.
I've always loved Dancer's trot.
I'm trying hard to enjoy the season, which means a break from hot weather, torrential rains, and biting insects, but I am sure looking forward to when we come out of the cold and we can get in more training time!

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06 December 2017

Busy Birthday

Well, another year has come and gone, so I get to add one more candle to the top of my birthday cake. It's interesting that as I age, birthdays don't mean as much though they are still special. There aren't any birthdays of mine that I'm looking forward to (does anyone ever get excited about turning forty??) but I really do enjoy celebrating, especially with my kids. Everything's exciting to them--it's practically like reliving my childhood via observation.
Though the day started out the same--dishes, laundry, feeding animals--there were several handmade notes and cards for me to open while I ate breakfast.
The biggest flower Kate's ever seen!
 Then, we went wild and crazy and ran errands...
Henry's turned into a frog. An adorable one at that.
 ...then we ate lunch with Claire...
 ...then, with Evelyn. We headed home, worked on editing my Nanowrimo novel, took a nap (a very short one because Henry kept poking me to ask questions and sing randomly composed songs), made some cookies, hung some pictures, and tidied the house.
When everyone returned home, we ate, Jack brought home a red velvet cake and raspberries, then when Jack couldn't contain himself anymore, he shuffled everyone downstairs so we could open presents (and yes, I mean we...no mother ever opens her gifts without her childrens' help).
Zoey wants a bite!
An elf costume! Yes, a genuine elf costume! It was sort of a gag gift to distract from the real gift but still, an elf costume is pretty hilarious. And surprisingly, quite comfortable. I just might wear it everywhere I go. It seems to make people smile.
My in-laws sent a nice card and my parents sent me a new bread machine and just in the nick of time. My old garage sale find was on its last leg. Tomorrow, I make bread!
As usual, Jack took the cake. Though it wasn't a trip to the Bahamas like last year (I'm not sure he can ever top that), he did get me a swanky new treadmill so I can run to my heart's content, even if it's too cold to take the kids outside in the enormous jogging stroller. So, let it snow 'cause I'll be comfortable jogging a mini-marathon inside!
It even comes with a FAN.
Of course, along with presents, come excellent playpens.
Though the day was busy, there was still time to decorate some sugar cookies with the young women at church...
 ...and donate a pint of blood for a good cause (and thus crossed off a goal on my 2017 list). Though I'm not a youth anymore, I am told my blood pressure is as good as a teenager's. I'll tell ya, that's about the nicest thing I heard all day!
When I was younger, I used to resent my birthday being so close to Christmas. It always felt like my individual birthday celebration was forgotten but now, I rather enjoy being a December baby. Everyone's more kind, more willing to serve, and are singing of and thinking about our Savior. It's the most wonderful time of the year...to celebrate a birthday!

As usual, it was a busy birthday but I like it that way. So, thanks for all the well-wishes, it was a wonderful day!
The best present--a cute baby!

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04 December 2017

NaNoWriMo 2017 Winner!

This year has been busy to say the least! I started a new romantic comedy, entitled When A Star Falls, after finishing the first draft of the sequel to The Midnight Slaves during the 2016 NaNoWriMo. Before finishing a draft of my romantic comedy or editing the Slaves sequel, we had a new baby and moved to a bigger farm, which meant a new milk cow, planting an orchard, moving schools, unpacking, home renovations, etc. It was an adventure to be sure but come November and another round of NaNoWriMo, I was itching to get my book written!
It took a lot of work, some days more than others if I wasn't particularly diligent the previous days (because playing catch up is HARD). Also, I'm very proud of those zeros every Sunday because quite literally, that is my day of rest.

It is in very rough draft form but it is finished! So, truthfully this time, When A Star Falls coming soon!
Check out RachaelEliker.com for information on new releases and promotions!

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26 November 2017

Counting Your Blessings

Thanksgiving is usually one of those quiet holidays we enjoy at home because we aren't always able to make it back to Nebraska to celebrate with family. The time off work is a welcome reprieve (although honestly, we end up doing work around our property, like putting up pasture fencing) and we still make a traditional Thanksgiving meal. However, this year, our house was bustling with visiting family and friends.
Zoey enjoyed having a cousin her age visit.
The canoe and paddle boats got lots of good use.
We can't help ourselves and ended up doing a bit of work. Tractors make everything so much easier. This time, we set up a garden plot for next summer, right next to our fruit trees.
Stoney gave plenty of pony rides.
Raven has a new friend named Geo. They ran themselves silly chasing each other and running through the forest.
Jack tried to explain just exactly what he does in layman's terms.

Not as easy as it sounds when you're a rocket scientist.
We may or may not have snuck out of the house sans children to get shakes and onion rings.
We had our first bonfire, burning the last of our moving boxes and scrap wood from the chicken coop.
The weather was particularly beautiful and we enjoyed a lot of time outdoors.
 The girls made tie blankets with Grandma.
We escaped a volcano...
I tried to work on my nanowrimo goals but let's just say, there were a lot of distractions.
The day of Thanksgiving, I figured it would be a good idea to go out and burn off a few calories before stuffing myself silly.
So, I was able to cross another goal off my list and run a 5k this year. Not my best final time ever but I did complete it in half an hour.

(I was in a hurry to get home to eat some pie)
 Henry showed his friends around the farm while we were finishing up Thanksgiving dinner.
The meal was satisfying and the company was enjoyable.
Then came the crash.
Cramming everyone at our giant table.
The entire week of Thanksgiving was one to remember!
Pacifier twins.
We hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving, counting your blessings and being grateful for this beautiful life.
All the Eliker grandkids with Grandma and Grandpa.

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