Monday, September 29, 2014

A little teasing...

Sometimes I mess with my kids.  Just a little bit.  They always think it's funny. 

Usually when I move the kids up in size of clothing, I just do it all at once.  I take all the old clothes out of the closet, then grab my stash of the next size up, and restock the closet.  It takes a couple of hours to do all this, but I think it's easier than doing it in bits and pieces.

Last time I was doing this, and the floor was completely covered in clothes, Pierce happened to walk in the room.

I looked at him and said, "Pierce!  Why did you make this huge mess in your room?!"  His eyes got really wide and he looked shocked.  His jaw dropped.

I smiled.  Then he realized I was messing with him.  He started cracking up.  He loves it when I mess with him, once he figures it out. 

Readers, do you mind when you get teased? 

Friday, September 26, 2014

Baby Dinosaurs

Here are the boys, in a dinosaur egg sculpture at the NC Zoo (picture taken in August).
I could have done a big zoo post, but instead I've been straggling out the pictures in random posts.  A little easier on me, a little easier on my readers!

When I was in high school, I loved this 80s movie called Better Off Dead.  I hadn't thought of that movie in years, but recently remembered it.  I got it from the library, and Paul and I were both amused by the classic cheesy 80s humor.  I was surprised to find that I still remembered many lines.

This month I hit 1000 miles for the year with my running.  September is the earliest I have ever hit 1000 miles.  If I can stay injury-free, I should have a good mileage year.  Even if I am still not racing.

Everyone keeps saying this is going to be a another bad winter.  This gives me anxiety.  I worry about balancing the jobs with kids home from school and snowy roads.  I hope it all works out.  With one job, it isn't a big deal if I have to cancel (I just feel bad because my client relies on me so much).  But with the teaching job, if they don't close the school I need to be there if at all possible, so that's a little more tricky. I will just have to hope that if we do get big snows, it isn't on my teaching days! 

Linking up with Tanya's Willy Nilly Friday for the first time this week. 

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Desensitization in the Young Horse

I mentioned recently that Francie is very spooky.  She freaks out of birds flying by, the sound of my voice, cars turning in the driveway.  You name it - it might be spaz-worthy.

I decided some desensitization was in order.  I remember doing similar activities with Phoenix when I was training him twenty years ago.  I do this a little more gradually than some of the horse trainers, but I do feel gentle exposure to intimidating things is helpful later on.  Also, just going through the process of facing the monsters with a horse helps to strengthen the trust bond. 
I created some 'scary' obstacles in the arena.  Francie didn't have much trouble with my first creations, so I decided to up the scare factor.  I went out and bought....a scary blue tarp.  You can see - just riding by the blue tarp was terrifying. 

One thing especially horrifying about the blue tarp is that when you step on it, it makes crunchy noises.

Horses don't like the noise.  Or the color.  I just keep reassuring her.  This helps strengthen the trust bond between us.  Francie learns that I'm hear to support her when life gets scary.  She knows I am by her side to offer kind encouragement.

Francie wants to rush across everytime.   
On this day, it was raining, and the light drizzle made more noises on the tarp.

My brave girl.
After a few days of repeated blue tarp exposure, Francie finally let me ride her over the tarp.
Gentle, repeated exposure to intimidating things really does work.
You don't have to force them.
Just reassure, and keep trying.
A little each day is fine, in my experience.
What a good girl.
Next up?
A scary pool noodle contraption.
Fun times!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Young Farmer's Crossing

I took this picture at the Homestead Creamery this summer.  We went there when the boys earned free ice cream cones from doing a summer reading program.  Really, though, we don't need any reason to go to the Homestead.  Their ice cream is amazing.  Especially the peanut butter!
I think I could use one of these signs for my yard. 
Seen any young farmers lately, readers?

Friday, September 19, 2014

Francie the Rescue Horse Update

I think I'm way overdue for an update on the horse I rescued last Thanksgiving, Francie.  She is doing very well!  If you remember, she was starved, infested with worms, and completely untamed and unhandled when I got her.  She has made wonderful progress in the time I've been working with her. 

We have had our challenges though.  Like last spring, when Francie had her first heat cycle, became aggressive, and bit me while my back was turned opening a gate.  For that, she was separated from my gelding and spent some time in isolation (and I yelled at her immediately when it happened - the bite left a bruise for 3 weeks!  Thank goodness I was wearing a thick sweatshirt, otherwise it would have been much worse).  Once I was assured that this would not happen again, I moved her back in with Phoenix. 

We also ran into trouble when Francie started bolting her food without chewing.  I suppose this was because of her starvation days.  Twice she choked.  When a horse chokes, it can still breath, but it cannot swallow.  They stand awkwardly, cough, and buckets of slime (saliva) run out of their mouth.  It can be rather scary.  Luckily, I had seen it before, and I knew it wasn't generally fatal.  One of the times I did have to sedate her to get her throat to relax enough for the clump of food to pass.  Since then, I've put some large rocks into her food dish.  Now she has to nuzzle around the rocks to eat, and it takes her 20 minutes to eat instead of 5.  So far, this has been effective.

Francie and I have been riding a couple of days a week.  She has made great strides over the past month or so.  She is very spooky, but we are working on that (more about that in a later post).  I am able to ride her without assistance now, and we are walking and trotting.  I feel like we will canter in the next month or so.  I'm focusing on trying to get her to relax and bend and move away from leg pressure.  This will give her more 'power steering'.  It's slow going, but she is trying, and every ride to me is amazing, simply because I know how far she has come.  I'm so proud of her efforts!
I do wish I had more time to work with her, but the time I can put in has to be enough for now.  I'm looking forward to seeing what the next few months bring.  It's so nice to be riding again. 

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Mega Moist Chocolate Pound Cake with #Idelight

Even if the leaves aren't quite changing color yet, September means Fall to me, and Fall always inspires me back to baking. And so, the other day I was craving something chocolate and moist and delicious. It seemed like the perfect day to make a Southern style pound cake.

1 cup butter
1/2 cup shortening
2 3/4 cups sugar
5 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
3 cups flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
4 tbsp. cocoa
1 cup Sweet Cream flavored International Delight coffee creamer


Cream together butter and shortening, add sugar and mix well. Add eggs, continuing to mix. Add vanilla. Alternate adding dry ingredients with creamer until well mixed. Grease and flour bundt pan, pour batter in. Bake for 1 hour and 30 minutes at 325*. Cool for 20 minutes before inverting onto cooling rack.

This cake turned out so moist and delicious - the International Delight creamer really gives it a little something extra, taking it to the next level of pound cake. In fact, next month, when the boys' school has their Fall Festival and asks for cake walk donations - I know just what to make!

Stay tuned for a pumpkin recipe for next month! International Delight's pumpkin spice creamer (Pumpkin Delight) is hitting the grocery shelves, and I can't wait to test it out in my kitchen. For more excellent Fall baking ideas, check out the International Delight community.  Happy baking! 

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of International Delight. The opinions and text are all mine.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Life with School Aged Kids

So the boys have been in school now for over a month.  Life is busy.  I've been doing my mental health support job - meeting with the same client I've been working with for the past 18+ months three times a week.  In addition, I've been teaching psychology classes at a local college.  I adore teaching.

Both of the jobs are part-time.  I do not have as much free time as I thought I would (indeed, I've barely been reading at all, and am just meeting the bare minimum with my running), but it's good to be productive. 

Picture taken at the NC Zoo last month.

I am home for the boys when they get off the bus at the end of the day.  I am not working all those nights like I was during the summer, for which I am extremely thankful.  The hardest part comes when the boys are sick - then things can get a little hairy.  And there will be times that I will still need to work nights, but at least I'm getting a break from that for the time being.

Back in 2002 when my employer started a program where they would match the finances put into a masters degree, I was the first person at my job to jump on board.  It was hard working a full time job and doing my masters at the same time.  It took me 2 1/2 years, and my last semester I made a big push to finish it - working full time and being a full time student. 

Today, I'm thankful I made that choice.  It opened the door for the types of jobs I am doing now.  I never would've guessed at the time that the choice would be so important to me years later.  A good reminder that when an opportunity arises, sometimes the best thing is to jump in.

Readers, what choice did you make many years ago that you are thankful for today?