Sunday, December 30, 2007

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year 2008!!

Ok... so it's actually after Christmas now! BUT we DO hope that you had a great Christmas this year! ::big grin:: We had a very nice Christmas.

We celebrated with "Charlie Brown's" family last Saturday. After a meal, stockings & presents, we all relaxed and had some great laughs over stories from the brothers' growing up years. Oldest brother-in-law has topped the historical stories with his lacerated tongue via deadly sharp Dorito! Seriously! The man ended up in the ER two years ago and he will NEVER, EVER live it down! This year, we decided that Frito-Lay should print the "Joe-clause" on all bags of Doritos. "Warning! Contents in bag may be sharp and have the potential to cause injury. Eat with caution!" I swear this story provides a great abdominal workout from the laughter!

We also celebrated Christmas at my parent's house on Christmas day. We had a very relaxing time together. The girls were most excited to get to wear their pajamas to Gram & GDude's house. The day was complete with good food & great fun! Everyone has their own Nintendo DS lite and we had a blast playing DS games! Um... Brain Age 2... that's addictive! There's a "relaxing" exercise called Virus Buster! Hahaha It's a bit like Tetris and is oh, so addictive! GDude holds the current high score record among us all. But look out GDude! I'm on your tail tonight (1152 pts).

We're still in the midst of the Christmas- New Year break. We've done a lot of NOTHING. We've also accomplished a few small projects-- but they were truly small. Although my good man Charlie Brown did install light fixtures upstairs, repaired a bad circuit breaker, and repaired a "blown-out" electrical outlet. He IS a "good man Charlie Brown", after all! And he and I did spend a while outside in the C-O-L-D repairing some fencing damage too! (That's good fodder for another blog post soon ::wink::) So we haven't been completely lazy- just mostly!

2007 has been full of adventure- or maybe it would be better to say "exercises in character development". Either way, we're glad it's over but step cautiously into 2008. In 2008 we will be working on going debt-free! (Currently reading Dave Ramsey's book "Total Money Makeover"-- HIGHLY RECOMMENDED READING FOR ALL!) It won't be easy. I told "Charlie Brown" yesterday that we must continue to trust the Lord to provide. That doesn't mean God will make it easy for us. It may mean He provides what we need "to-the-penny". But we can trust Him. He IS Faithful!

For those of you who enjoy the occasional ramblings from our world, or who are simply curious and maybe even "nosy" (hehehe), you now know where you can peek. Please DO post freely in the "comments". It's more fun when this isn't just a one-way stream. Still, feel free to Nibby Nose here.

Have a GREAT New Year! Stay safe!

Lots of Love,
Watching Woman

ETA: I'm still figuring out this blogging system! Forgive the oversized picture!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Feinding Wisdom- in a story (2)

If the 11 months of waiting weren't exhausting, the first 24 to 48 hours after a foal is born certainly can be. The foal must stand to nurse, find the "milk bar", successfully figure out how to work the "milk bar", consume enough colostrum for his immune system, and all systems- including plumbing- must be working properly. Being a prey animal, foals are born ready to run so all of this should be accomplished in a short period of time.

We had a hot chocolate party in the barn after Solomon was born! Pholly & Solomon bonded well and we watched to be sure that all systems were "go".

Long legs are great! But they are hard to navigate when you're a horse just out of the womb. He'd spent months all folded up and now he had more room to spread out than he knew what to do with. I've learned over time that Jason has a great way with foals. He is patient, gentle and has the strength to support them while they figure out their legs. Solomon was particularly challenged by his long legs. So much so, that we had some concerns. Jason spent a LOT of time helping him figure out how to stand. Once a foal figures out how to stand, they typically don't have further trouble. This wasn't the case for Solomon. He could stand, but wasn't getting there on his own. Untangling and lining up those legs seemed to give him the most trouble. We took turns going down to the barn, lining up his legs & encouraging him to stand up. He could do it once his legs were in the right place. The vet found nothing wrong and just encouraged us to continue our diligence. My alarm woke me up in the recliner around 36 hours later to find Solomon standing on his own. Challenge conquered!

In a few days, we were able to let Pholly & Solomon outside. At first we turned them out in a small area so Solomon could learn to follow mom and so neither could run endlessly which could bring physical exhaustion to both. After a few days of confined space, we then allow them time in a regular pasture. We were so excited to see Solomon really use those legs!

Our dreams were furthered fueled by Solomon's movement. He was obviously destined to be a talented horse and we felt he would be well suited for dressage- just what we had hoped for! We felt he would shine just like that star on his head!

The dreams all came crashing down right before Easter (April '07). Solomon was just now 7 weeks old. Of course, we didn't know that it had all crashed down. Not at first.

The accident is still a mystery to us. We don't leave halters on our horses for many reasons. One
good reason is so the horse doesn't get caught on something and hurt himself. The exception we've made is for foals. When we first begin halter training them, we leave the halter on while they are outside. Wrestling a halter on a foal in a wide open pasture can be difficult, if not futile. And who wants to risk the wrath of an angry mare?

In all honesty, Solomon learned very quickly and haltering him was soon a matter of routine. You know what they say about hindsight! It is 20-20.

Our best guess is that Solomon caught his halter on something and a wrestling match followed. One which left Solomon with a gash on his nose. In true horse form, we now had to make an
after-hours, emergency trip to the vet clinic. The vet was the first to notice the swelling in Solomon's right hind leg. His stifle joint was swollen. We returned home with Solomon's nose stitched closed and instructions to watch the swollen leg & return to have stitches removed in 2 weeks.

His nose healed wonderfully. But I was left with a SICK feeling in my gut during that return visit to the vet. Solomon's leg was still swollen.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Feinding Wisdom- in a story

Usually at this point in the year, I've finished or am close to finishing our Christmas letters. They are sent out with the intention of saying "Hi" but also with the hope that the receiver will smile, laugh and still be a part of our lives 'tho distance sets us apart. This year... I began avoiding the task late in October. I know why. There hasn't been one moment when I haven't been fully aware of the reason. I still haven't written the letter. It's just not going to happen this year.

Writing the letter involves sharing the large details, events of our year. I attempt to make it a fun look back. Truthfully, it involves opening "the window" for all to look in.

This year, I don't want to open "the window". Opening that "window" involves an area of my heart that --- well, it just hurts. It's opening myself up in an area where a wound exists.

I've contemplated different ways to share this story. I even began putting together a web page last month, but quickly abandoned it. I guess I have a desire to tell the story. By telling the story, I can express the emotions that can't be expressed in a page full of facts and photos. And so, I'm opening "the window" here. I will lose some of you right from the beginning. Your eyes betray your distraction. They glaze over and I realize you're not interested and have wandered away mentally and emotionally. There's nothing wrong with that. In this format, you can simply navigate away and I'll never know. ;)

This is the story of a horse.

A dream that was tangible for only a short, short 7 months.
But that's the end of the story.

The beginning takes us back over a year. My dream horse. We set out to purchase her in 2005. A warmblood mare named Pholly (pronounced Folly, not polly). She is the kind of horse I've always dreamed of owning. Not only is she talented but she's consistent, smart, kind and willing. However, this isn't her story. Nope. This is the story of her foal- a colt named, Feinding Wisdom.

Part of our purchase agreement included a breeding to one of several stallions. We put a LOT of thought and energy into making the decision about which stallion to breed Pholly to. We talked about it at home. We discussed it with those knowing the horses involved. Our trainers and owners of the stallions gave us a picture of the likely results from each stallion. Finally, we settled on the picture we thought met our needs and dreams best. He is a son of a well known horse named, Feiner Stern. So in April of 2006, we set out in pursuit of our dream foal.

Now, breeding horses may seem like a straight forward, simple process. Put the stallion & mare together-! Ba.da.boom! A foal is conceived! Right? Well... maybe... sometimes. Sometimes that's the process. In this case, the process was more involved. We're talking about two valuable animals who already have years of training invested in them. Simply throwing them together is risky. Horses are social creatures just like you and I. They have personalities. Those personalities don't always go together-! Ba.da.boom! Ba.da..... BANG! Mare kicks the full-of-himself stallion and suddenly you're out a stallion. Or determined-to-be-THE-MAN stallion is too aggressive and suddenly you have a severely injured mare. There's all kinds of bad scenarios.

So to be safe, Pholly was bred using a method called insemination. This involved several ultrasounds to determine when the best time/times to inseminate her would be. Then the stallion would breed a dummy with Pholly standing near. After collecting from the stallion, Pholly was immediately inseminated. Another ultrasound several weeks later confirmed it. Pholly was in foal. Her due date was March 2007. That's right! Eleven months! So right away, we've already invested almost a year into a foal that hasn't hit the ground yet.

Some of you already know this, but I'll be the first to tell you that I am dedicated, obsessive, zealous, deeply invested, crazy- it's all a matter of perspective- about my pregnant mares. I watch and monitor them constantly. The last two months of their pregnancy, I drive my family nuts. I am determined to be there when they foal in order to try to avert disastrous results- losing a foal, mare or both- that can be avoided simply by being there to fix and/or help the situation. I sleep in the recliner with my alarm clock next to me. I peek regularly at the monitor where I can see inside my barn via camera. This goes on for weeks! (sometimes months! )

So after months of planning and decision making, months of good care and monitoring, a good year of dreaming, the moment arrives! On February 28th, 2007, at 1:10 am (that's right! I was THERE! And I wasn't alone either ;) ) a foal is born. The very first thing that caught my attention... before he was even fully born- just a head had emerged... was that STAR on his face! It was beautiful! Wow! We didn't even know at that point if the foal was a colt or a filly but that STAR- just wow! What a beautiful head! What a beautiful face!

We had a name for a filly already. I figured it would then be a colt. I was right! It was a colt! A gorgeous, stunning colt who looked like his handsome sire (father) with a great mix of Pholly's qualities too. It took some time to settle on a name but in the end, we couldn't pass up the opportunity for such a perfect combination of sire (father) and dam (mother)- Feinding Wisdom. Affectionately, we referred to him as Solomon.

The effort, time and money invested had paid off. This was the best foal we'd ever had born. He had promise, potential and OH! what a personality! He was a gem!

He was a dream come true for us. And we allowed ourselves to continue dreaming about the future for this horse.

(the laundry monster beckons! Responsibility calls!... to be continued)

Sunday, December 16, 2007

A New EXTRA Dark Chocolate find!

Have you seen the movie, Chocolat? I love that movie. While not appropriate for little eyes, the story is well done and the movie is quite rich.

I love chocolate!! I've always loved chocolate! Admittedly, my tastes took a turn toward chocolate snobbery in high school. I became an employee to Fanny Farmer Chocolates (now dissolved into the Fannie Mae company). Oh boy! Did that job ever do something to my taste buds!!! And to answer your question- YES!- We were allowed to sample the products. I was forever changed and have quite the discerning buds for chocolate. I still eat m&m's and such but what I crave and desire is for the REAL stuff!

Living in the rural midwest, my cravings for the expensive stuff can only be met by lengthy drives or via mail/internet orders shipped direct to my door. I do find other enjoyable chocolate delights nearby. Dark chocolate is my choice. EXTRA dark is even better!

I stumbled upon a WONDERFUL treat by Hershey's this week. I'd already discovered their 60% cacao products some time ago that have blueberries, cranberries, nuts in them. Also the option of just plain extra dark chocolate. A NEW product I found this week is Oooooooooo-LA-LA good! You must find it & try it! It's a new Hershey's Extra Dark assortment that includes EXTRA DARK chocolate with Cinnamon Spice. Oh MY!!! It is sooooo yummy! I want a bag of nothing but those dark chocolate cinnamon spice pieces! It's what my tongue imagines tasting when I watch the movie Chocolat.

So when we wake up snowed in tomorrow by the current winter storm, I may have to make my family hot cocoa with cinnamon in it! It's an adventurous taste sensation!

~Watching Woman

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

OH the uses for duct tape!

Duct tape! (That is what is called although I've seen some refer to it as Duck tape. Maybe that's a brand?) What a wonderful invention!! A work of pure genius in my opinion!

And sometimes it's a work of pure genius by the people who use duct tape to solve every day problems.

My children were intent on enjoying the first snow of the season last week. It was COLD and the wind was blowing. All three set out but two soon returned to the warmth of the indoors complaining that it was freezing outside. (LOL That would explain the snow! ;) )

One child remained outside. Being Mom means I am imparted with special insight into my children. I was sure that not only would this third child not enjoying continuing her play alone, but that she would also succumb to the freezing-ness of the great outdoors in less than 10 minutes.

Well, even moms are known to be wrong. And I blame it on duct tape this time!

Said child went on playing happily for another 15 or 20 minutes. I watched her from the window for a while and could even hear her on occasion- talking to herself. She was having a blast.

Finally, I decided that I had to be a good mom and call her in. Maybe in her immersed-in-imagination state she didn't realize how cold she was, I reasoned. So I opened a window and told her to come inside now and expressed my concern over her being too cold.

"Mom, I'm NOT cold. Can I play a little longer?"

"You must be cold. It's FREEZING out there!"

"I'm not mom."

And older sister, now standing at my side, suddenly explains, "No mom. I duct taped her mittens and boots on."

Oh my goodness! I laughed and laughed. Then I came to my senses and grabbed my camera! I mean, such genius has to be documented!

I did allow her a few more minutes outside before insisting that she come in. After all, her face was still exposed and we must protect that beautiful face!

And the state of her hands & feet? TOASTY WARM!

Who knew?

Initial thoughts on blogging.

It's taken me a while to get the idea behind blogging. I mean, why in the world would you post "your diary" online? Isn't that just opening yourself up in ways you don't really want to? Who wants to read the inner workings of another person anyway? ... Ohhhhhh! Wait!... Basic human nature! Curiousity!!

How often I find myself reading an article, another blog, or a thread on a forum because curiousity led me there! Yep! It's just a basic part of who we are. Whether we admit it or not, we love to learn! We love to know what's going on outside our windows.

So, I find myself reading other blogs online and feel like I'm nibby nosing. At least, that's what our family calls it. (Sometimes affectionately referred to as "nibbing" hehehe)

Thereby, starting my own blog, allows you to peek in on me. I can't promise it'll be interesting! In fact, as I ponder the list of people who have seemingly faded away to the background of my life, I speculate that I might just bore you. But for the few of you who might to be entertained, I'll open the curtains so you can peek into my window!

Stay dry & stay warm!
~Watching Woman~