31 May 2015

Any Given Weekend

Kate waiting her turn to practice before her first horse show.
Weekends are especially precious to us. They're not only a break from the work week but a chance for us to have (usually) uninterrupted family time. Of course, we still work and get things done but there's an added element of enjoyment when we can work together. That being said, we still have a lot of fun. Any given weekend, we can be found...
...watching ant turf wars...
...chopping more wood for winter...
...running road races...
...taking a rainy afternoon nap...
Picking strawberries in her strawberry dress.
...working outside together...
...making delicious concoctions in the kitchen...
Such a pretty bug! And he also cleans up manure!
...rescuing dung beetles from water troughs...
...swinging...
...grooming Raven...
...or watching rainstorms roll by, among other things.
Hanging out with our favorite New Yorkers, Kristin and John.
We love our family time!

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30 May 2015

Snake in the Grass

Our new friend.
It's not often that Claire is scared by things so when she comes running to me, crying and whimpering, I take her seriously. Yesterday, she asked to go outside to the playground and retrieve a ring she'd left near the swings. I gave her permission and about two minutes later, she was back at my side, trembling and telling me not to go out. When I asked why, she didn't mince words: "There's a long snake out there." I got right up and went to investigate.

In two years of living in Indiana, we'd had yet to see a snake. I thought they'd be incredibly prolific with all the forested areas they could hunt and hide or the fairly temperate climate. Really, there probably are a lot of snakes and for those reasons, they're rarely seen. As much as I love animals, it's always a little unnerving moving to a new rural area because there are new critters to learn about. Thankfully, most are benign but there's always the chance they're not.
Watching each other.
Claire showed me where she'd seen the snake and sure enough, a surprisingly lengthy constrictor lay motionless in the grass. After some research, we've decided she was a black rat snake, thankfully not poisonous but with the potential to be aggressive nonetheless. Our visitor though, did little more than lay motionless and when we stuck it in a bucket, surprised us as she faked a rattling noise by flicking her tail against dry leaves.
For how slender the snake was, she was surprisingly long--about two feet or so!
Eventually, our snake escaped the bucket and wriggled behind some bricks. I wouldn't be surprised if we see her around again but because she's A) not poisonous and B) eats mice, C) cool to look at and D) the girls know to ask before picking up snakes, she's welcome any time.

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29 May 2015

Homemade French Onion Dip

Dip isn't one of those things I ever remember to purchase at the store so when Jack casually mentioned he'd prefer to have something to dip the leftover potato chips we had from a party in, I decided to whip something up. Easy and I had all the ingredients on hand...and delicious.

Ingredients:

1 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 Tablespoon dried minced onion
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon parsley
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon tumeric or cumin (optional)
1/4 teaspoon celery seed

Stir all ingredients together and refrigerate four hours. Stir once more before serving chilled with chips, veggies, pretzels or crackers.
Enjoy!
Thanks to  Naturally Loriel for the recipe inspiration!

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28 May 2015

Happiness Is...

Kate running back after feeding the horses an early morning carrot.
Happiness is going out early in the morning, while your kids are still in their jammies and the sun is still rising to go give your horses, who live in the back yard, a treat.

Among many, many, many other things.

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27 May 2015

Darling Evelyn

Evelyn and her birthday cake Belle.
Evelyn recently celebrated her sixth birthday--how time has flown! It seems like only yesterday, we were over the moon, finding out we were expecting her after a few years of trying to have children while at the same time, it seems like it's been hardly any time at all. Children have a tendency of doing that to their parents.
Evie helped pick out a perfectly ripe watermelon for her birthday.
We had a small gathering of friends come over the previous week to ride Stoney, jump in the bounce house and have cake and ice cream. But on her birthday, we celebrated Eliker style
Eating her birthday lunch at school with grandma.
Lucky for her, she had the day off of school and visiting grandparents, so between sleeping in, watching her favorite show, baking and decorating her cake and playing and swinging outside, we got in a few chores. We spent a beautiful afternoon cleaning tack for the horse show the day after her birthday, took care of the animals and watered the plants.
Soaping up the western saddle.
Evelyn helped get her birthday dinner ready and taught her younger sister how to shuck corn. Then she helped grill her steaks and salmon, make deviled eggs, steam the corn on the cob, chop watermelon and mix up some lemonade.
Showing Kate how it's done.
Of course, the pinnacle of any kid's birthday is the presents. Evelyn was about to die waiting so long to see what was in her pretty wrapped packages. Once we got to open them and she saw all of nice gifts she was given, she was content to eat her cake and ice cream.
She about burst having to wait to open presents. Thankfully she survived.
It has been such a blessing to watch Evelyn blossom into the intelligent, beautiful, athletic and tenderhearted daughter we know today. She is a loving sister with an incredible imagination and is already a wise, observant friend and student who makes the world a better place. Though she's still a child, we can see glimpses of who she will grow to be, and we couldn't be prouder of her.
Happy Birthday, darling Evelyn!

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23 May 2015

Leadline

Kate  headed to the show ring.
We're hot, tired and spent the day in the sun and on our feet, but we're all incredibly happy...
Getting Stoney groomed and ready.
Since finding out I was expecting another baby, my riding has taken a back seat. However, I've had my eye on fulfilling another goal this year: taking the girls to their first leadline classes at a horse show.
Waiting their turn to ride.
Lucky for us, there's a facility and a horseman's club that has such classes for the girls, and they're only about a twenty minute drive from us. Our sweet neighbor, who's also a horse lover, agreed to trailer our old gelding, Stoney. So, we arrived about three hours too early (novice mistake--oh, well) and enjoyed watching other competitors and waiting for Stoney to calm down.
Evelyn warming up.
Well, Stoney never did calm down. He shrilly neighed like a frantic young mare in heat the entire duration of his time at the show. I can't really blame him though. This was the first time he'd been away from Dancer since we brought her home seven years ago. I don't think Dancer knew he was missing though--she wasn't upset when we arrived home again. Stoney forgot the entire ordeal as well once he was off the trailer and eating grass in his favorite pasture at home.
Claire showing off her winning smile.
The girls all had a fantastic time. Evelyn and Claire were in walk/trot classes and though it wasn't the fastest or furthest I've ever run, I'm glad that I'd kept up running while pregnant as long as I had. Stoney jogged along gently (while shrilly neighing to everyone who would answer him) and Evelyn and Claire beamed the entire time. Kate was in a walk-only class and since it was full of first-time riders, everyone was "tied" for first and all won a blue ribbon.
Her first blue ribbon!
It was an exhausting day for sure but it was awesome to take my girls to their first show! They loved the atmosphere, Stoney received his fair share of compliments (he is a gorgeous horse, and he knows it) and we're already looking forward to another leadline show and the day when the girls are able to ride themselves.

(Jack...we need a pony!)


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19 May 2015

Indoor Bouncy House

We had a small gathering of friends for a pre-birthday party for Evelyn. Of course, just about everything we'd planned was going to be outside until it decided to downpour all day. Solution? Indoor bouncy house!

Take that, Mother Nature!


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18 May 2015

Poor Man's Pasta

Any meal that's quick, inexpensive, delicious, filling and makes for good leftovers (even when frozen!) is a winner at our house!

Ingredients:

1 pound ground beef or turkey
1 Tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 large onion, sliced
1 cup water
4 (8 ounce) tomato sauce
Salt and pepper to taste
12 ounces pasta, uncooked
Parmesan cheese, fresh herbs as garnish (optional) 

In a large skillet with a lid, heat olive oil and cook garlic and onion until translucent. Add beef and brown (draining when finished, if needed). Add remaining ingredients, excluding garnish. Cover and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes or until pasta is tender and excess liquid is absorbed. Serve hot with garnishes. Refrigerate or freeze leftovers.
Enjoy!
Thanks to Food.com for the recipe inspiration! 

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17 May 2015

The Cowboy

Starting with groundwork.
Jack came home about a month ago to find me sobbing in the middle of the paddock while Dancer pranced arrogantly around me, as she'd been doing for the last two hours. Crying while pregnant comes as natural as breathing and our mare's shenanigans finally tipped me over the edge (that day, anyway). She wouldn't let me catch her, which led to our battle of wills for two hours and me eventually giving up because I couldn't spend all day taming the beast. Then I became all introspective, wondering why she didn't trust me after she'd had a wonderful life with us for years. The answer is really because A) she's a mare, B) tis the season for mares coming into heat and thus acting like terrors and C) she's stubborn. Well, I can be stubborn too.
Stoney happy that he gets to watch instead of being ridden, for once.
I vowed to gentle Dancer despite everything else I've got going on but Jack's been the one spending frequent training sessions with her. He's become the cowboy at home and for the most part, he's making good progress. Sometimes I hear him yelling, "Whoa!" and bailing off her back (it reminds me a lot of the awesome land rush scene in Far and Away where Tom Cruise gallops around on an ornery black horse), but we've had some really miraculous progress with her.
Far and Away's land rush scene. That could've been Dancer playing Tom Cruise's horse.

Where Dancer and I butt heads, Jack knows just how to get her to do what he wants, usually without any obstinace on her part. Then, he ends their training, gives her a treat and Dancer's following him around like a lovesick puppy.
Getting a mouthful of grass as a reward for a good ride.
Once he was done riding her around one evening, we took the chance to test Dancer as a kid's pony. After all, that's what I'd really like her to be. Eventually, I'd love to breed her and produce a horse that would be suitable for me when I (hopefully) get back into competing when I'm done having kids. But someday--and probably sooner than later--she's going to have to replace Stoney as the go-to horse for birthday parties, pony rides and lessons.
Taking Claire for a spin.
Thankfully, Dancer was all meek and mild and did a great job. The girls thought it was such a novelty to get to ride Dancer and Stoney followed Dancer around, probably heckling her and laughing the whole time since he wasn't the one with the saddle on.
Evelyn practicing for a horse show!
I'm looking to take the girls to their first horse show this year and every time they get in the saddle, they practice and get a bit better. It's nice that Dancer is will be usable for them, with a bit of guidance.
A big thanks to The Cowboy for taking the time to work Dancer and to Dancer for finally being submissive and rideable, at least for an evening.


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