Still not a big fan of water

Jack and water aren’t the best of friends.  It took a long time before he warmed up to baths (he likes them now), and it was only two or three days ago that we were able to rinse shampoo off his head without dealing with the shrieking.  Last summer, we went to the beach a few times, but he was NOT going to get in the water.  The first time, we dipped his toes in and he snatched his knees all the way to his chest.  A couple of other times, I carried him in to the waves.  He didn’t cry, but he did his monkey cling and hid his face.  Definitely didn’t enjoy it.

This past January I signed him up for baby swim lessons at URI, hoping he’d get more comfortable in the water.  We only had maybe five lessons before everything shut down because of the pandemic, but he was making a tiny bit of progress.  There were parts of the class he hated and parts he enjoyed.

Then, last week Mom sent us a water table.  I was pretty sure Jack would like it, but (happily) he loves it.  Yay for playing with water!  He splashes, he pours water into and out of it, and he doesn’t seem to mind when his clothes get soaked.

Jump to today.  It’s been hot, and we have two sprinkler-type splash pads.  You hook them up to a hose, turn the water on, and they’re like those fountains you sometimes see in parks with water spouting up all over the place.  I put one of them out in the yard on the north side of the house, hooked up the hose, got Jack into his swim diaper, and then…Jack wouldn’t let John put him down.  He wouldn’t go near it.  Dip a toe?  No.  Put a hand in it?  No.  I turned off the hose so water wasn’t spraying anymore.  Try it when it’s just shallow still water?  Not a chance.  Even when Mama is standing in it?  Nope.

And that was that.  Maybe he’ll come around on a really hot day.  Maybe he’ll be willing to try it if he’s playing with the water table next to it.  Maybe he’ll never be a fan of sprinklers and water spraying at his head.  Maybe I should just buy a normal kiddie pool.

Experimentation

Today’s theme was “Empty out the freezer”.  In support of that goal, I made a berry pie for the very first time ever!  I bought a crust (let’s not be crazy here – I don’t have the time or inclination to experiment with crusts right now) and unloaded probably about half of the frozen fruit into it.  I had been warned by multiple recipes that using frozen fruit would add liquid to the pie, but those recipes didn’t prepare me for reality.  Folks, I made fruit soup in a pie crust.  It’s delicious fruit soup in a pie crust, don’t get me wrong.  But still, you can basically drink this pie.  Maybe it’ll firm up in the fridge.

Next up, frozen vegetables in a casserole!  It’s basically Thanksgiving’s green bean casserole, but with green beans, broccoli, peas, some cauliflower, and a few carrots.  And cheese.  And some sour cream added to the cream of mushroom soup.  I used almost all of my frozen vegetables, so it’s just as well that the glass pan I had available was the one a size up from 9×13.  (My 9×13 has the rest of the brownies in it.)  Guys, it’s so good.  And I made SO much, so yay leftovers!

The freezer is full again, but now at least there’s room for the ice cream (because pie), the frozen waffles (Jack loves them), and the popsicles (they’re going to blow his mind).

I can see for miles and miles

I MADE INDIAN FOOD!!!

For someone who professes to love Indian food (that would be me), it sure did take me a long time to try cooking it myself.  To be fair (to myself), I’m not exactly an enthusiastic cook.  I would much prefer Indian takeout but the nearest one is not that near.

I found an instant pot recipe for butter chicken, had almost all of the ingredients (I had to make two minor substitutions – so minor they basically don’t count), and it turned out pretty well!  I am super excited about the leftovers.

I took zero pictures because by the time it was ready, I was hungry.  Also, you know, it looked like tomato sauce and chicken over rice.  Oh, yeah, I made basmati rice in our rice cooker, which hasn’t seen the outside of the cabinet in, let’s see, when did Corey and Christine give us that instant pot?

My horizons, they are expanding.  Figuratively speaking.

I baked cement

I got this new lotion that smells like the best, creamiest, sweetest lemon dessert you can imagine, and every time I use it, I want to eat my hands.

I don’t really want to eat my hands, so I started looking up lemon desserts, and what the hell?  They’re so complicated!  Or they require kitchen tools I do not have or kitchen skills I have not acquired.  So when I saw a baking mix for lemon bars at the store, I grabbed it.  It said it had real lemons in there somewhere and only needed a little butter, two eggs, and some water.  I make and enjoy lots of things out of boxed baking mixes – how could I go wrong?

I don’t know how I went wrong, although I have some suspicions. First, there’s the flour mix and the butter.  Melt the butter, combine it with the flour mix to make a crumbly dough.  It was super crumbly, like I’m not sure butter actually got to all of the flour mix.  Suspicion number one: maybe it needed a little more butter, and maybe I should have been smart enough to know by looking at what I had in the bowl.

Second, press the dough firmly into the bottom of a greased pan.  I did that, pretty darn firmly, maybe too firmly as an overreaction to the dry crumbliness of the dough.  Suspicion number two: pressed too firmly.

Third, bake the dough by itself for 12-14 minutes.  I know my oven bakes fast (runs hot?), so I typically pull anything I’m baking out before the time on the box/recipe.  I went for 11 minutes this time.  No idea here.  Suspicion number three: 11 minutes in my oven is still too long for this mix.

Fourth, pour the lemon/egg/water mix on top of the hot crust and bake for another 24-26 minutes, or until the edges start to brown.  I pulled it out of the oven around 22 minutes.  I don’t think I screwed anything up at this step.

Cool, then chill, then eat.  Eating is where I realized I have a problem.  The knife will not cut through the crust to the bottom of the pan.  It just won’t, and if I try any harder, I’ll cut up my pan.  If I really work at it, I can get a very light layer of crust to come up under the lemon topping, but that’s as far as I can go.

The result is that I’m eating chilled lemon topping.  That part is delicious, so it’s hitting the lemon dessert spot, but I’m not up for chiseling the crust out of that pan.  Once I’m done with the topping, I’ll have to see if I can dissolve it in the sink.  Otherwise I’ll have to throw out the pan.

I should have done this weeks ago

Our grocery cart/high chair cover came weeks ago, and I FINALLY tried it out at the store with Jack the other day.  He did great.  I still have to work on getting it in place quickly and with one hand.  For this outing, I put the car seat in the cart, got the cover on, moved Jack into the seat, and then piled groceries on top of the car seat.

Plenty adorable, right?  It got so much better.  I turned back to the cart after picking up milk, and found this:

Poor sad baby chicken.  Not quite 9 months old and already completely done with grocery shopping.

Just call me Dharma

I’m a science person, right?  Not a holistic medicine person.  I don’t believe that apple cider vinegar can cure everything from blisters to cancer, and of COURSE we’re vaccinating Jack.  I don’t plan to change my mind about any of that, but I AM willing to try just about anything to make sure I can continue to feed Jack.

A couple of weeks ago, maybe three now, Jack started to behave strangely while nursing, and without going into all the details (because I’m tired and that takes too long), I’ve asked for help, and two other moms, his doctor, and two lactation nurses (one of whom witnessed him nurse) all think I have low milk supply.  Jack is still gaining weight, so no one is seriously concerned about him, but I’m not ready to give up on being his sole source of food.

Solution #1: pump constantly.  Sharon (the visiting lactation nurse who looks and sounds like John’s Aunt Toni – it’s eerie) suggested pumping after every feeding for 24-48 hours.  I haven’t managed EVERY feeding (sometimes I let him nap if he falls asleep eating), but I’ve been pumping a lot and not seeing a lot of improvement.  We’re coming up on 96 hours, and MAYBE making some progress.  We’ve replaced the bedtime feeding with a bottle because that late in the day I’m producing practically nothing and both Jack and I are very not happy about it.  Anyway, the pumping is supposed to be telling my body that the baby needs more so, damn it, produce more.  We’ll see.

Solution #2 is the one I want to talk about.  After suggesting pumping all the time, Sharon asked, “Have you tried any herbs?”  Part one of the answer: I haven’t tried ANYthing because I didn’t know what the problem was.  Part two of the answer: um, what?  What kind of herbs?  Like, parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme?  Or, like, herbs?  What is happening here?

Apparently, some herbs are galactagogues, meaning they’ll help produce milk, like fenugreek, alfalfa, and, I kid you not, something called blessed thistle.  I feel hippy-dippier just typing that.  So Sharon suggested I try those herbs, in addition to the constant pumping, either in pill form or in Mother’s Milk Tea.  (I can’t believe this is a real thing.)  I like tea, so I ordered some of that, and it arrived today.  I was worried about the fenugreek (I really don’t like licorice), but the tea tastes pretty much like a basic chamomile (I don’t drink much herbal tea, so give me a break here if I’m totally off base), and I can deal with that.  Of course, I have to deal with it 3-5 cups a day for it to be effective.

The tea has been in the house for 90 minutes, and I’ve had two cups already.  I’ll get at least three in tonight.

THIS HAD BETTER WORK.

This will be…interesting

Tomorrow morning we head for PA for Christmas.  This will the first time we’ve driven more than half an hour with Jack, the first time we’ve spent a night somewhere other than home with Jack (not counting the hospital), and the first time he’ll be around more than five people at once.

I’m not terribly worried about the drive.  He’ll probably sleep much of it (although I most likely just jinxed it).  And the people – he’ll be fine.  It’s the nights away from home that have me a little worried.  No, I’m not worried.  I’m resigned to the likelihood that we won’t get any sleep.  He’ll be in a new place, in an unfamiliar crib (or something), new noises (including another baby), so he’s likely to have trouble settling down, and since he’ll be in our room, I think I’m likely to have trouble settling down.

Maybe he and I can tire each other out during the days enough to sleep like logs at night.  That’s actually pretty likely.  🙂    And maybe, just maybe, the experience of sleeping somewhere other than home will make sleeping at home that much more attractive to him and he’ll go down for naps easier.

I can dream.

Zannah’s first art class

I took my first art class EVER (well, since 5th grade) last night, and it was pretty neat.  It’s the first of six sessions, Monday nights, and there are five of us.  Okay, there are nine of us, but four people are returning students who are well ahead of the rest of us.  And based on what I could see of the other newbies, they’re all better than me, but hey – that’s why I’m taking a class.

The instructor is this old guy, Don, who shuffles across the floor, has a fairly dry sense of humor, and is pretty blunt.  He had us all fill out some basic information about ourselves – what experience we have, why we’re taking the class, whether drawing has anything to do with our jobs, what level we think we’re at – and then he read them out loud to everyone.

“Zannah…she thinks she’s a beginner…NO experience since elementary school?!?  Not in high school?”  “I took the music path.”  “Hmph.”  Similar for the others, although at least one has more recent drawing experience.  The others apparently just have more natural talent.

Favorite line of the night:

“I’ll ask you to tape down your paper.  I will rip the tape for you because I teach children.  I will repeat instructions multiple times because I teach adults.”

He started by asking us to draw vertical lines an inch apart, all across the page.  Then he said to erase the worst ones and fix them.  I erased all of mine.  Then we progressed to drawing things we could see – angles, shapes, flower pots.  He very briefly showed us shadows and then it was 9pm and time to go.  But I get to go to an art store this week and buy stuff!

Exciting.

Testing the sunrise

Mom and Dad got us the sunrise alarm clock thing that wakes you up by simulating the sunrise next to your head, a thing I have wanted to try for YEARS.

Trial: Day 1

We tried it the first morning we got home, but that wasn’t really a good test.  We set the alarm late enough that the room was getting bright anyway.  Didn’t get the full effect.

Trial: Day 2

The NEXT morning, we set the alarm for 6am like usual, and it works!  We woke up gently, the room was lighter, and since it was only 5:59, I turned off the alarm before what is described as “gentle beeping” could begin.  But then, we were so comfortable and happy that we didn’t get up.  Went back to sleep for an hour, woke up too late for the gym, so we shut the light off and slept for another hour.  It was a lovely morning, but maybe the gentle beeping is necessary to get us out of bed.

Trial: Day 3

We set the alarm for 6 again and actually got up!  The gradual light really is nice, but “gentle beeping” my Aunt Sally*.  It’s not the all-out horrible alarm sound they always play on TV, but it’s not gentle, either.  The answer is yes, when it’s really that dark and cold outside of bed, the beeping is necessary no matter how nice the simulated sunrise.  It’s a shock, but it’s less of one.

Verdict after three days: I like the new alarm clock.

*Apologies to someone’s Aunt Sally.

Too sweet? Too dry? I can’t tell.

When we visited Seattle in May, we stopped in this sort-of-ice-cream-parlor for dessert one night because John had an ice cream craving.  He got a sundae, probably with peanut butter in it, and I got prosecco in one of those old-fashioned wide-mouth champagne glasses with a scoop of blueberry sorbet in it.  It was delicious.

Since it’s the perfect summer treat, I tried it at home tonight.  Burgers for dinner, sorbet and prosecco for dessert.

It didn’t turn out so well.  I mean, it was okay…sort of.  The sorbet (I got raspberry) was good with the prosecco, but the prosecco was not good with the sorbet.  I’m not sure what went wrong, and I’m not sure I want to find out enough to try it again.

It was a nice idea, though.

I sewed!

Washing my sweater/hoodie broke it apparently, since after it dried (gentle cycle, air dry) I noticed that one of the pockets was hanging half off.  Luckily for me, the thread was still attached at one end, so I unearthed my bag of sewing kits (I have four or five travel kits), figured out how to thread the needle, and FIXED IT.  You can’t even tell.  Then we went to see Dunkirk and I spent two hours crying.  I cried horrified tears, sad tears, tears of pride, a few more horrified tears, and then some happy tears.  Stupid emotional movie.

I also ate all the popcorn in existence, so I’m skipping dinner and going to bed early.  All that crying wore me out.

New skill

I’m toying with video editing for the first time in my life.  My first practice project was to edit clips out of half a dozen minute-long videos of a squirrel being super-weird in my backyard and string them all together into one two-minute video.  I think it was successful.  It needs a soundtrack, maybe, like Yakety Sax.  That’s a project for some other afternoon.

And because you so patiently watched that video for me, you get a bonus video of the squirrel eating a stick like it’s corn on the cob.

I hope my face doesn’t freeze like that

My facial person moved to LA last month, so I had my first facial with my new facial person (aesthetician is too formal) last week, and I’m not sure I like her.  I certainly don’t like her as much, but we didn’t click very well.  It was all awkward chitchat and too much of it.  She rallied at the end of the hour when she massaged my face.

No one has ever massaged my face before.  It’s a weird thing to do.  Rub temples, sure.  Gently move in circles while applying products, yes.  This was an all-out massage.  Both hands on, whole face covered, pressure added.  I could feel my whole face contorting as she rubbed and twisted and IT WAS SO GREAT.  I would never have put that on a list of things I wanted, but now I want it again.

So yes, very young person with the awkward chitchat, I will see you again next month.  And then I might cancel my membership because I have other priorities for that money.  But she doesn’t have to know that.

This is my way of helping others make a difference

I did a thing I haven’t told you about yet, but I can tell you about it now because it’s live.  It’s live and it’s out there and, like, real people can see it, and you know?  It’s pretty cool.

So.

At the first rally I went to at the courthouse, maybe five or six weeks ago, I met a woman who was taking email addresses for the local chapter of NOW.  They had just started up, didn’t even have their officers selected, and they were looking for members.  I went to the monthly meeting four weeks ago, and before I knew it, I had volunteered to be their tech person.

So.

In the last month, I have worked with the president of the chapter (the woman who was taking email addresses – more on her some other time) to create and manage the official website of the South Willamette Valley chapter of the National Organization for Women.

I really should just upload the official logo. Instead, this is a picture I took of a banner with the official logo. Please don’t let this affect your opinion of my technical skills.

I am the web master, I am a member of the PR team, and I am a member of the Budget and Finance committee (because, like Mom, I sometimes have a hard time saying no to things).

So.

The website is live as of today (www.swvnow.org), the March monthly meeting is tomorrow night (Monday), and the plan is to tell everyone about it then even though it still has a couple of placeholders.  Don’t tell me if you hate it, do tell me if something is wrong with it, and no, I’m not fishing for compliments.  In fact, let’s just stop talking about it.

I’m going to jump all the jumps

After I recovered from my fall yesterday, back on Tigger, back in charge, right back into cantering, it was time to jump.  We did this thing I’ve never heard of* called gymnastic jumping.  It’s lining up a bunch of jumps together, and it’s meant to help me focus on my jumping form.  There are probably other reasons for it, too, but that’s the one Wendy told me about.  So she set up the jumps in two long lines.  The first time, there were only two jumps, one stride in between.  Horse goes over the first jump, takes one stride, goes over the second, and then we come back around and do it again.  Then she added a third, another stride away, then a fourth.  The fifth jump was four or five strides past the fourth.  That’s the top row in the sophisticated diagram below.

Not to scale, duh.

All of that went pretty smoothly, 1-foot jumps, way fun.  We took turns running through it, Daisy and Dobby first, then me and Tigger.  There was one incident…Wendy set me and Tigger up to go through that set of jumps after Daisy and Dobby, but Tigger could still see Dobby at the far end, and since we’ve already learned that Tigger wants to be near Dobby all the time, you can probably imagine the speed at which we barreled through that set.  It was exhilarating and scary and fun and TOO FAST FOR ME, especially since it happened maybe 10 minutes after I fell off.  We adjusted so that Dobby was well out of eyesight before Tigger lined up for the jumps for the rest of the lesson.  That helped.

Oh, and then Daisy, wunderkind, jumped that set on Dobby with her arms held straight out from her sides.  Like she was flying.  It was AMAZING.

I did not try that.

Then we switched to the second line of jumps (the bottom line in that diagram), and in addition to setting up the jumps in a close row, Wendy raised two of them to 2’3″.  TWO OF THEM (the ones with the double x).  I’ve jumped that high twice only, in one lesson weeks ago, and it was a single jump.  Like before Christmas, so months ago, really.  It was SO COOL.  Exhilarating again, but in a less scary way.  I can’t wait to do more of that.

So, yeah. My lesson was exciting.  I’m curious to find out how afraid I’ll be of getting back on Tigger next week.  Right now I feel okay, but when I’m standing in front of him, knowing how he gets, knowing that I can fall off, will I be scared?

*It’s safe to say that nearly everything I’m learning is a thing I’ve never heard of.  Even if I’ve heard of it (dressage, for example), I probably don’t really know what it means or what it is, and I certainly don’t know how to do it.

I got it over with

Well, today was exciting.

I shared my riding lesson today with Daisy, which was helpful for me in a couple of ways and a bit of a hindrance in just one.  She’s the 14-year-old I’ve mentioned before.  Having Daisy ride with me teaches me about sharing the arena, riding etiquette, and other small things I won’t pick up riding alone.  Watching Daisy ride shows me what I can look forward to doing as I get better.  It’s actually Daisy’s horse that causes the one hindrance.  She rides Dobby, who shares a pasture with Tigger, and who Tigger always wants to be with.  So if we’re trotting around the arena, Tigger trots faster to keep up.  If we’re cantering around the arena, Tigger canters faster to keep up.  Tigger is pretty lazy most days, so faster is usually what I want, but I DON’T want to deal with the traffic jam that will occur when Tigger tries to run up Dobby’s butt.  So that part was a little stressful.  Manageable, thanks to Daisy’s experience (she peeled off to cross the arena the one time we got really close), and I learned from it, but still a bit stressful.

I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this before, but Tigger can be…difficult sometimes.  Willful.  And I’m still learning to assert my will when that happens.  Today, we were cantering around the edges of the arena, after I’d managed to put some distance between us and Daisy and Dobby, and I lost the stirrup on my left side.  It happens occasionally, and Wendy swears it happens to everyone.  Usually, it happens to me while we’re trotting, and I’m enough in control that I can either get it back or slow Tigger down and get it back while we’re walking.  Today, while cantering, not so much.  So I lost my left stirrup, we were going faster than usual, I started to lose my balance a bit because my seat isn’t steady without that stirrup, and Tigger decided he didn’t want to stay on the edges of the arena anymore.  When he does that (it’s his preferred method of acting out – going where he wants), I’m supposed to yank hard on the rein in the opposite direction.  Well, two things: first, I’m not good at the yank hard thing because I don’t want to hurt him, and second, I wasn’t secure enough in the saddle to have any leverage.  I pulled instead of yanked, and I pulled again, and I got him to slow to a trot mostly, but he was in the middle of the arena, so I concentrated on steering him around the jumps.  I was still trying to regain control of the steering, of course, but the last thing I wanted to do was go over a jump with one foot just dangling.  I was totally failing to regain control of Tigger, and Wendy headed my way and reached for his bridle.  He jerked sideways and spun around, and I didn’t go with him.  It’s like he stepped to the side out from under me.  I’d say falling was about 10% my decision – there was a point where I was like, “well, I’m going to fall.  Go with it,” which I think helped my landing.  I fell off to the right, just sort of leaned over and out, and I landed on the meaty part of my right thigh and hip.  It was jarring, but otherwise didn’t really hurt.  Tigger ran away, I got up, and Wendy caught him and corrected him, and before I knew it, she had him back at the mounting block and I got back on the horse.  (I’m sorry – I had to say it.)  I was still shaking a little, but I got over it, and after a few steps walking, I got him to canter again and it was all over.

My first ever fall off a horse is behind me, and it wasn’t so bad.  And that wasn’t the only exciting part of the lesson!  But I’m exhausted, so come back tomorrow for the conclusion to our tale.

You’re gonna make it after all

I am a goddamn wizard.  CELEBRATE ME.

Today, I was driving home from my riding lesson in the rain, and the windshield wiper came loose.  Driver’s side, naturally.  The wiper was wiggling all over the place in the wind and the rain and NOT doing its job of keeping the windshield clear.  I pulled over, of course, stepped out into the rain, of course, and tried to figure out how on earth I could fix this.  I’ve never replaced a windshield wiper, but I know they’re replaceable.  At first glance, I thought there might be a piece missing, but I spent the next five minutes (in the rain) switching from one side of the car to the other, inspecting the working wiper and then fiddling with the broken one, and FINALLY I figured out how to snap it in place.

I PERSISTED.

I got back in the car, turned the wipers on, and gazed on my handiwork.  Which appeared to be upside down.  Or at least bent in a weird direction.  But it worked!  It wiped rain away.

I got back on the road and got on the interstate to go home.  Not five minutes later, still on the highway, the wiper came loose again and wiggled and waggled all over the place.  I pulled over on the side of the highway, still in the rain, keeping my distance from the trucks hurtling toward me, and fiddled with it again.  I tried to put it on the other way, since it had looked upside down before, but I couldn’t figure out how to attach it that way.  Maybe it was just bent.  I managed to click it into place, still possibly upside down, but firmly attached, and got back on my way.

I AM WOMAN.  HEAR ME ROAR.

I roared with the intermittent wiper speed a little slower than I was comfortable with considering the amount of rain coming down, but I made it home without having to fix it again.

BECAUSE I FIXED IT.  Without a manual or Google or anything.  BOW DOWN TO ME, PEONS.  I humbly accept your adulation.

Not it

No jury duty today!  On the one hand, I’m happy because I don’t have to disrupt my life for it.  (Where “disrupt” means what?  Not work for the day?  I probably could have handled that.)  On the other hand, I’ve never done it, and I might enjoy it.  I’ve never even gone to the courthouse to possibly get chosen for one.  I’ve only been summoned twice, and both times I’ve found out the night before that I don’t have to go.  Maybe next time.  I do think it’s a little weird that I got one summons in VA over the course of 12 years and then got my OR summons in less than a year.

I did decide to put my “I can’t focus on work” minutes to learning ukulele chords instead of playing sudoku online.  If I just do that for a few minutes every day, I might actually be able to play a song without fumbling through chord changes one of these days.  I will consider that a major accomplishment.  The next step will be singing and playing at the same time (!).

Doing it during the work day, using time I wasn’t working anyway (everyone needs a break!), makes me happy.  Banjos might sound happier than ukuleles, but I think it’s a close race.

Breaking habits

We went out for New Year’s Eve last night, back to that arcade bar we like.  The DJ played 20s music with techno beats (which was kind of awesome, actually), and more than half of the games (Mario Bros, Galaga, Donkey Kong, Tron, Asteroid, Pacman, Missile Command, some racing game, some of the pinball games, others I can’t remember) were set to free play, so we drank and played and danced until midnight and then walked ourselves home.

I can’t remember the last New Year’s Eve we were out.  Like, OUT, out.  In public, with people we don’t know.  That’s not how we do New Year’s Eve.  Last year, we rang the new year in at Emily and Sean’s house, with them and Molly.  The year before that, we were at home with Jess and Chuck, and the seven? eight? more? years before that, we were at home in Ashburn with most of our friends over.  That was before we became the total hermits we are now.  We used to have actual grown-up parties at our house with food and drinks and friends.  I used to throw Derby parties and New Year’s Eve parties, have the occasional cookout, host Friendsgiving (maybe that was only once…)…  Now, I think about all of that and wonder how I did it.  I’m not a natural hostess.  It feels like a completely different life.  Fun, but far from how I feel now, which is totally weird because it hasn’t been that long.

Eh, that’s enough navel-gazing for New Year’s Day.

Learning quickly

My horseback riding lesson is the highlight of each week.  I started on Willow, learning to catch her, groom her, saddle her, etc.  Around week 4 or 5, I switched to Tigger, a younger and occasionally more difficult horse.  He has opinions, and I’m learning how to show his stubborn ass that I’m in charge.  I switched back and forth between the two for a few weeks, re-learning how to post, learning two-point (prep for jumping), and trotting courses through and around the jumps in the arena, with all the horizontal poles on the ground so I could get better at directing the horse where I want him to go.

All of that was going well, and I was really enjoying it.  Then one day, lesson #9 I think, I had just finished a course with the poles on the ground, and then Wilhemina (name changed to protect the innocent) set one of the jumps up to one foot and said, “How do you feel about jumping today?”

SUPER EXCITED was the answer.  So I did, and it was awesome.

jump-one-foot-high

The middle of that X is a foot off the ground.

From there, she set up all the jumps like that, and my courses around the arena have included LOTS of jumping, and I just can’t tell you how much fun it is.  (Hint: SO MUCH FUN!)

A couple of weeks ago (lesson #11, maybe), she had me pick up the speed a little so Tigger starts to canter when he lands the first jump, and the week after that (or maybe it was the end of that week?) I could canter the whole course (starting after the first jump).  It’s incredible.

So then this week, she was describing the course she wanted me to take, no different than the others that I noticed.  She had me going over two jumps straight down one long side of the area, making a wide turn, and then taking the jump at the far corner on the way back and angling diagonally across the arena to another jump, then stopping at her end.  It’s about half the course and pretty typical of what we’ve been doing.  I did the long side, took the one in the corner on the way back, and when I was about a horse-length in front of the last one, my brain went HOLY SHIT THAT ONE IS HIGHER.

It looked kind of like this one, except not nearly as picturesque.  No uprights on either side, just kind of a dirty white low wall.

jump-two-feet-high

The jump went fine, and weirdly, it didn’t feel any higher than the other jumps, which is the first thing I said after stopping.  She swears it’s 2 feet high, double the size of the jumps I’m used to.  So then I did it again, and THIS time, it felt higher, which is also the first thing I said when I stopped.  Turns out I’m not crazy or imagining things just because I knew it was higher.  Wilhemina said that the first time we went over it, the distance perfectly matched Tigger’s stride, so he just cantered over it.  The second time, the distance wasn’t perfect, so he jumped it, and yes, I actually went higher that time.

I’m jumping two feet!  Okay, Tigger is jumping two feet, but I’m not falling off!  It’s so cool.

Also, I’m riding Tigger all the time now because he loves to jump, and I guess Willow doesn’t.  It means I get more practice enforcing my will, which is something I really need to be better at.  There was one point last week where we took a jump because he wanted to, not because I wanted to.

This past week was lesson #13, and it’s wonderful, and I love it.