Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Close Call With (Ninja) Turtle Pancakes

So, this having the grandkids overnight on Fridays is starting to get routine.  They arrive, they want to play with puzzles, K3 wants to listen to music and dance, they plan to make pancakes with me for breakfast on Saturday. . .

The pancake making might be getting a little out of hand, though.  I have made 'regular' pancakes, Mickey Mouse head pancakes, snowman pancakes.  I'm keeping the bunny shaped pancakes a secret until closer to Easter, and haven't even done any of the additional ingredient pancakes yet, like chocolate chip pancakes (where the chocolate chips form a smiley face), or blueberry pancakes (or even strawberry  pancakes, if the strawberries are cut fairly small). My pancake repertoire is probably unusually large, as I like to cook, and I was pretty young when my kids were little, (not to mention most of the time I didn't work outside of school hours) so it was fun to get creative with breakfast.

This past Friday night, as the grandkids were going to bed, Toad requested ninja turtle pancakes.  He is in a (Teenage Mutant) Ninja Turtle phase right now.  Somewhere, in the recesses of my memory, I vaguely remember making turtle shaped pancakes when DS1 and DS2 were little. Twenty years ago? I told Toad I wasn't sure if I could make ninja turtles, but I would give it a shot.

I was awakened (for the second time, since I'd gotten up with DH at 4:15 a.m. to make sure he got off to the airport on time for a work trip) just after dawn on Saturday by a little voice coming from the hallway:

"Grandma, it's morning!  We have to make ninja turtle pancakes!"

So, still in our jammies, Toad, K3 and I went downstairs to the kitchen, donned our aprons, heated up the griddle, and mixed up pancake batter.  I again told Toad that I wasn't sure I could make the pancakes look like ninjas (I was sure I couldn't, short of a mold that would define their eye-masks, etc), but that I would make him some turtle pancakes.

Taking a large spoon and a small one (teaspoon), I poured a spoonful of batter onto the griddle with the larger spoon.  With the small spoon, to this I added a small circle of batter for a head, and on the opposite end, just a little triangle of batter for a tail.  Then came four small dribbles of batter for the legs, two on each side of the 'shell' body.

At which point Toad informed me that it didn't look like a ninja turtle.  I apologized, telling him it was the best turtle I could make. He acquiesced that it did look like a turtle, but it wasn't a ninja turtle and he didn't like it.  So I started making Mickey Mouse heads with the remaining batter, since K3 had requested Mickey Mouse pancakes.

When the turtle had cooked through on the bottom and was ready to be flipped, it suddenly became an acceptable turtle to Toad, and he asked that I make a second one just like it.  Since grandmas are suckers for doing things to make their grandkids smile, I painstakingly created another turtle with the last of the pancake batter.

Life looked great.  Toad had his turtle pancakes, K3 had her Mickey Mouse pancakes, we all sat down to the table and said grace.  That's when things began to descend into chaos.

I went to butter Toad's pancakes, and he immediately protested.  He did not want butter on his turtles.  Okay, I put the butter on K3's Mickey head instead (thank goodness she was being easy and not as opinionated as her brother that morning).

Then I started cutting up Toad's pancakes into bite sized pieces. The kid went ballistic. You'd think I was torturing him.  Killed his dog (had he a dog) or something.  He howled.  He nearly jumped out of his chair.  He had actual tears popping out of his eyes.

"NO, Grandma!  Don't cut my turtles!"

Oh shit. Here are these decapitated turtle pancakes with amputated appendages and there is this two year old grandchild having a nuclear meltdown at the breakfast table.  Think fast, Grandma, or your morning is going to suck.  And Grandpa is blissfully unaware, on his airplane ride to Phoenix.  No one can help me now. . .

Toad insisted I fix his pancakes.  He wanted them uncut.  I'm not about to reheat the griddle, mix a new batch of batter, and hold off breakfast while I fashion and cook two new, whole, turtle pancakes.  Think, think, think, think.  How to remedy this?

In a flash of brilliance (and a ton of desperation), I dropped the knife and used my fingers to line the cut up pieces back into recognizable turtles. As I'm putting legs back to bodies and heads back where they belong, I cheerfully say "Look!  It's like a turtle puzzle!"  Because Toad absolutely loves puzzles right now.  And he's really good at putting puzzles together, too (almost better than his sister who is nearly 5 years old).

He stopped his brokenhearted wailing, and looked from me to his plate.  I finished reassembling his pancakes.

"See?  Now you have puzzle pancakes that are turtles! And when you eat the pieces, you'll have a turtle puzzle in your belly!"  I told him with a big reassuring grin.

His look of skepticism changed to one of delight.  He even smiled as he requested syrup for his turtles.  Then he ate every single bite of his pancakes.

Phew.  Crisis averted.  Grandma lives to enjoy another day.


Thursday, March 23, 2017

We Made a Snowman

Again last Friday, K3 and Toad came to stay overnight.  We had a snowstorm. I guess you could say the last official one of Winter, since Spring began three days later.  I know better than to think it was the last snow I'll see for months, as here in this part of Michigan it's not unheard of to have a random snow squall until shortly before Memorial Day.  April snows, in fact, are what greens up the grass so well and seems to make the early blooming flowers more vibrant.

Anyway, on Saturday morning there was about an inch and a half of snow on the ground, although the air was warming quickly. So right after breakfast we bundled the kids into their snow gear--more for keeping their clothes dry than for warmth--and took them outside to play.  DH got out the 4-wheeler and hooked a sled behind it and gave them sled rides around the yard for a little while.  Each one got a faceful of snow on a sharp turn where their rear end separated from the sled, but it didn't dampen their enthusiasm for climbing back on the sled and being whisked away again for more smiles and giggles.  Later, he confided in me that he'd purposely upended them, so they could see that playing in the snow often means biffing it a time or two but is no reason to not play at all.  Plus, he has plans for when they get older and bigger. . . longer ropes and corners with a little more snap to them when the kids are stronger and can hold on better (and will love playing crack the whip on a sled).  I don't know, maybe I need to add the caveat that when you live where there aren't many sled-able hills, you have to get creative in your sledding endeavors. . .


We also built a snowman.  It has been years since I built a snowman, and I think this is the first one the kids have built, so he came out a little rough.  And, being a very sticky late season snow, more than a few dead grass pieces got picked up by the snow during the rolling process.  He's definitely not your pristine white stereotypical snowman.  But, he was just Toad's height, and the kids were delighted with him.  They reminded me that a snowman needs a carrot nose (I think, due to their familiarity with Olaf from the movie Frozen.) so we had to retrieve one from the refrigerator crisper drawer in the house.



Then Toad informed me that our snowman had no mouth (due to the lack of small stones in the yard or driveway).  So I found a young, flexible stick that just happened to be red (and on a branch I was planning to prune anyway) and we gave Mr. Snowman a mouth.  That made him happy.

 

He smiled until after the kids went home, and the fog lifted and the sun came out to melt him away.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Yarn Along 2017.12 (Sort of)

Happy Wednesday to you!  For the first time in nearly a month, it is not a windy Wednesday at this little place here.  Instead, the sky is a flawless blue, and the sun shines brightly (even so, we are having the 'coolest' day of our week here with a noontime temperature of 32 degrees Farenheit!).

I was going to join Ginny this afternoon for the weekly Yarn Along.  But, she has thrown a curve ball (see her post here if you wish) and it seems today I am yarning along with just me.  What a surprise! But yet, I can totally relate to where she is coming from.  Been there and done that.  I will miss the Wednesday ritual, but yet, setting myself free to talk about knitting on any day of the week, not just saving it for Wednesdays (and, inversely, not feeling like I can only talk knitting if I blog on Wednesdays) really is just what I need right now too.

But, for today, I will continue with my original plan of showing off the knitting progress I made in the past week.

I present to you a one-armed sweater!  I finished the body portion of Toad's Little Shore cardigan late last week, and knit the left arm (as it would be if on a person) at the beginning of this one.  The weekend was knitting-less, with time spent with the grandkids and with doing some outdoor work with DH for most of Sunday after church.


Also featured today is a Peru sock (as I've taken to thinking of them since they are intended for DD2 to take to Peru with her later this spring when she does her Study Abroad trip that will fulfill her minor in International Spanish). It is almost ready for me to start working the heel flap.

When I haven't been knitting, working, cooking, doing housework, doing yard work with DH, minding/entertaining/playing with the grandkids or riding horses this past week, I've been reading book #2 of The Dressage Chronicles series. This one, A Matter of Feel, is every bit as good as the first book was.  The horse handling and riding descriptions are so vividly accurate I can almost feel myself in the boots of the characters.



Thursday, March 16, 2017

To Create, Or To Clean?

That is the question.  Consciously, subconsciously, that seems to be my internal struggle more often than not. It's no wonder that I am so constantly fatigued any more, and that my brain seems to be in a near permanent state of fogginess.

Scenario:  I'm done working at the horse farms for the day. I have my riding gear with me, I could just zip into the barn bathroom and change, then grab my horse and ride.  Yet, I'm tired from working since the sun came up hours and hours ago, and I know more work awaits me at home. Do I ride (create a horse that is a little more athletic, a little more polished in it's training and a rider who is also a little more of each) or do I skip riding and go home to tackle the laundry, sweeping, dish washing, bed making, etc etc etc?

Scenario: I'm home from work (whether I rode or not), I've had my lunch, and there are three to four hours between now and when DH will be home from work (and dinner needs to be on the table, ready to eat).  I have knitting projects, sewing projects, and a counted cross stitch project I could quite happily spend the entire time span working on.  Yet, there are dust bunnies creeping out from under the couch (despite just being evicted last week), a pile of shirts in need of ironing, a cruddy stove top that needs to be cleaned and scrubbed, and muddyfoot prints on the mudroom floor again. (Could we please be done with the freeze/thaw mud cycle of the season?!?) Do I relax my brain creating something lovely with my hands or do I stuff my creativity in the closet for another day and use my hands in less enjoyable pursuits?

Scenario: I have a book calling my name that I've been wanting to read since early January but have made myself finish several library books first, as they have a due date and the book with the siren call is mine all mine.  I know once I start this book, it will be a fast read and that I could finish it in a weekend. Yet, this weekend is also the monthly (FREE!) trash collection at the township hall and I could cut down on a lot of clutter if I rounded up some of the no longer useful/worn out/unrepairable items around this little place here.  Do I grab that book and spent a blissful couple of days in an alternate life as the main character, or do I avert my eyes from the bookshelf, plug my ears, and get down to the business of locating junk to take to the township hall?

Now, this one is really bad.  Scenario:  I have several pair of hand knit socks (some of the first ones I made in 2013) with  worn out spots on heels or balls of the feet.  All they need is to be darned, and they will give me a few more years of use.  I love my hand knit socks.  They fit so well, and they are so warm and comfy.  I have never darned a sock before, but I did look it up last year and the concept seems simple enough.  I'm sure I can do it.  I even acquired a darning egg from one of the local antique malls for a few bucks.  Darning socks could be seen as a chore (fixing something) or as a creative outlet (learning a new skill and 'creating' a usable pair of socks).  Yet, I am the only one who benefits from the repaired socks, and doing a deep cleaning of our bedroom benefits both DH and I.  Do I darn the socks, or do I gut the bedroom, clean it thoroughly, and replace all the furnishings (and closet contents) to their places (and pitching junk into the bin to be taken to the township)?

Most of the time, I automatically choose the less fun option, the chore, the cleaning.  (Oh man, how I hate housework!  I was once offered a job at $10 an hour-- back when minimum wage was $5/hr--cleaning houses and I turned it down because my dislike of cleaning is that strong.  Except stalls; I love cleaning up after horses.  But cleaning up after people sucks.)

It's part a feeling of responsibility and part a guilt reaction (Who doesn't work full time?  Who therefore is in charge of cleaning and running the house?)  This line of thought and action is like torturing myself!  It's like constantly punishing myself by withholding the fun stuff from my life until the not so fun work is completed.  And I have to say, anymore, its like the work will never be completed.  Just when I think I start to get ahead, when I can forecast the ending of the mountain of cleaning, something happens and more is piled on.  DH's work schedule picks up and he is no longer cleaning up after himself, let alone being around to help with heavy household tasks.  A holiday or school break comes and I have a houseful for several days or a week, exponentially multiplying dirty dishes and towels to be washed and food to be purchased and cooked.  We get the grandkids for 24 hours once a week, making not only more things to clean (toys, bedding, dishes, shoes and coats on the mudroom floor. . .), but also taking out pretty much two days from my time that should be spent cleaning.

I can't turn a blind eye, either, because my very nature is that of someone who craves order and organization.  To try to operate in chaos, in clutter, drives me nuts.  So, the more things pile up, be it dust, or DH's unopened mail on the counter, or clean clothes on the laundry counter in need of folding and putting away, or cooking detritus on the stovetop or footprints on the mudroom floor or even couch pillows out of position, the more stressed I feel.  Somebody has to clean this up!  Somebody needs to make order!  Unfortunately, by default that somebody is me.


I dream of a week of vacation. Not the kind of vacation where I go away and then when I get home have to catch up on all the work that didn't get done while I was gone, like every vacation I've ever taken my entire adult life.  A vacation where someone else does the cleaning and all I do is creating.  Whether it's in the form of riding, or reading, or sewing, or knitting, or cross stitching, every waking hour is spent in something enjoyable that lets me satisfy my need to be creative.  I don't even have to do the laundry, because someone else will wash, dry, and put away my clothes for me that week.  I just have to eat (preferably awesome food made by someone else), and create.

Wouldn't that be nice.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Yarn Along 2017.11

I am joining Ginny's Yarn Along this afternoon,

Toad's sweater is starting to look like, well, a sweater!  I think I am about 2/3 of the way through the body.  After the body comes all the 'other' parts like the collar, sleeves, buttonbands.  I have to confess I'm sort of wishing I could just take an entire day and do nothing but knit on this sweater. I'm pretty sure if that were actually possible I'd have it finished by the end of that day.


Sock #1 of the surprise socks for DD2 is also coming along.  I am through the third of eight pattern repeats for the leg.


Monday, March 13, 2017

Overnight With The Grandkids

For the last three weekends, we've had K3 and Toad overnight on Fridays.  It was a conscious decision on our part, DH & I, to request time with invite the grandkids to come visit, since we've rarely seen them (on average, less than once a month) since DS1 moved his family into their own home in February 2016.  Fridays became the night of choice in reaction to an observation we'd made, and DD1 backed up (with a poor opinion of this person that she had actually known in high school) that on Friday nights while K2 was at work and DS1 was finishing his shift at his own job that K2 was just kind of leaving the kids with whomever of her friends was available to come to their house, usually a friend that is also from our little hometown and is about the age of DS2.  So, after discussing it amongst ourselves, DH & I asked if perhaps we could have the kids stay overnight with us the next Friday.  And, so far, that has turned into three Fridays in a row, with K2 actually inquiring this past Friday if we wanted to have the kids again.

I have to confess, having the kids overnight wipes me out, as I've all ready been in a frequent state of fatigue for many months, and neither one of them sleeps through the night.  Which means when they are here, I get a very fragmented night's sleep (and really feel like a zombie by the time they go home the next day).  But, it is nice to see them so often, and I also think that it is good for them to have regular contact with DH and I.  It's a much more structured environment and more attention than they typically get at home.

Since they've been helping me to cook dinner on Fridays (as much as a 4yo and 2yo can), and making pancakes seems to be the Saturday breakfast routine now, last week I sewed two aprons for them to keep here and wear when they help me cook.  Until then, I'd been trying to jerry-rig and pin up adult sized aprons when they requested to wear an apron 'like Grandma' during our cooking sessions.

just the right size aprons

This weekend, we got creative with our pancakes and made a few shaped like the head of Mickey Mouse. Needless to say, K3 and Toad were amazed that Grandma could make pancakes that weren't just circles!  (Even though it's really three circles in each pancake, LOL.)



Another activity that's become a 'must do' when they are here is put together puzzles.  They absolutely love getting out the puzzles and showing me how fast they can put the pieces together to make the picture.  (Little do they know they are building logic and problem solving skills, as well as improving fine motor skills!)




On Saturday, the kids were up with before the sun, and full of energy.  They were literally bouncing around while standing at the sliding door in the living room watching the sun rise above the trees. So, after making our Mickey Mouse pancakes and eating them with homemade maple syrup (which 3 weeks ago they insisted they didn't like but now they clamor to pour all over their pancakes), we got them bundled up against the cold air and took them outside.  Both DH and I wanted to walk through our woods and see what kind of damage Wednesday's prolonged high winds had done out there.  With the sun shining brightly in a beautiful blue sky, and the kids needing to run, 8:15 in the morning seemed like the perfect time for a walk to and through the woods!


running through the field to the woods road

We found several trees down across our road through the woods, and many others that were down but not on the road.  Each time we came to a tree across the road, we consulted K3 and Toad on how we were going to 'get through'.  Sometimes it was over the tree, sometimes it was under the tree, and sometimes it was a combination depending on how big you were and if you could fit through the branches!

uh-oh, tree leaning over the road


how should we get through now?

Toad went under

K3 went over

We also saw a couple of trees that, instead of blowing over, twisted off and broke up high.



Our walk and tree inspection took about an hour.  We returned to the house with faces red from the cold.  Two hours later, however, we decided to go to the woods again, DH armed with the chainsaw to cut up the trees that were blocking the road, and me with a thermos of hot chocolate and a box of crackers for a snack.  The kids ran and played in the woods, and also helped clean up sticks on the road, while DH sawed the trees into chunks and I stacked the cut wood on the edges of the road.  The kids thought it was great fun to not only play, but to eat and drink out in the woods.

first time drinking from a thermos lid 'cup'


Overall, it was a pretty fun time.  These two certain look like they enjoyed it.




Thursday, March 9, 2017

If Horse For Sale Ads Had No Limits

I need to get serious about putting the Quarter Horse up for sale.  Last Spring, I found out he had navicular and amended my original "Keep Him For 2-3 Years Then Sell Him" plan that I had come up with in late December 2015 after putting my old Mare to sleep (as blogged about here) to a "Give Him One Year Then Sell Him" plan.  The thought process being that I wanted to have a chance to see if there was a magic shoeing fix for his sore feet--some navicular horses are comfy with shoes and pads--or if his future was best labeled as Companion Horse rather than a Horse That Could Be Ridden.  I knew that it wasn't just his advancing age that was making him unfit as a long term mount for me, he is also a bit short/skinny for my long legs, and with the navicular he wasn't going to hold up to the sort of intensive training I was wishing to embark on now that my kids are grown up and I have time to focus on the original love of my life: dressage riding.

Now here we are, nearly a whole year later.  He is wearing shoes and pads which do keep him comfortable for riding a couple times a week.  But if I ride him two days in a row and/or with lots of focus on lateral work, he's a bit sore.  He would definitely be happier in a home where he was ridden lightly or infrequently, and I would be less frustrated with a horse whose feet didn't inhibit riding three or more days a week.

So, it's time to write up that for sale ad.  I'm just not sure how to briefly sum up his awesome points, his personality, and his little niggling navicular problem.  If only a for sale ad could be composed without limits to length, or what you should or shouldn't say.  I'd advertise him with something like this:

Handsome Redhead Looking For His Person



The Quarter Horse is an irresistibly good looking chestnut gelding who is old enough to have been there, but young enough to give the right person years of pleasurable moments together.  18 years old with a youngster's heart and spunk. Standing approx. 15.3hh, with a lean build, he is just the right size for most ladies.  He gets along well with others in turnout and has no vices in his stall. Easy to handle, he becomes very loyal to his person and will follow them anywhere.  Can be a bit timid in new situations, so is best for a confident rider (yet not an overbearing one).  Has experience western, on trails (prefers to trail ride with brave buddies who will keep the bogeyman away), and most recently in dressage.  He is great fun to ride, with a cat-like walk and super comfortable trot & canter. Was diagnosed with slight navicular in left front April 2016, currently in bar shoes and full pads.  Shod, he is suitable for light or occasional riding (or possibly more often with a slimmer rider; I've gotten kind of chunky). Is comfortable barefoot in pasture.  Priced affordably at $3000.  





But, that's a bit too wordy and not nearly professional enough.  So, back to the drawing board, and don't put it off too much longer.  I need to get The Quarter Horse moved on to his next home before I can begin shopping for my Dressage Horse Extraordinaire (or at least as close as I can come to extraordinaire on a low budget).