I grew up with only one sibling, a younger brother, so I have no idea what it would’ve been like to have had a younger sister. Tabitha is trying to make up for that. She is really and truly the little sister I never had. Tabitha is almost 10 years my junior, but we came from the same home town, and our families have known each other dating back to the flood. The two of us didn’t connect, however, until I’d already moved to Cookeville and was attending graduate school. A girl who was one of my riding students at the time gave Tabitha’s mom my name for riding lessons, so Tabitha joined my weekend group of riding kids at my grandma’s barn. Now she lives in Cookeville, attends TTU, and interns at one of my favorite places on the planet, but that’s another story that deserves a post all of its own.
I am blessed with many, many generous people in my life, all of whom I hope to write about. Tabitha is one of those very generous people. Sometimes I’m not sure I would’ve survived pregnancy without her. When I grew so large and uncomfortable that getting around was difficult, she was there everyday to help Brinn with feeding, blanketing, and grooming Bear and Reggie. Since it got less and less pleasant to take Mogwai and Chaco out for adventures (they are not the type of dogs to cope well with always being at home), Tabitha frequently came to pick them up on the days that she was baby sitting. She just threw Mogwai and Chaco in the car with the kids and took them all to Cane Creek Park. Mogwai and Chaco love their Aunt Tabitha 🙂
Before I had to hang up my riding helmet, Tabitha was my trail buddy. She helped me teach Bear, my silly OTTB to relax and enjoy the woods. Tabitha’s silly AQHA gelding, Juh-lap-ih-no (jalapeno pronounced phonetically) loved galloping the trails and was a point and shoot kinda horse. You just point him at a jump, and he would do his best to get you over. He was a great confidence booster for Tabitha, who hadn’t ridden many honest horses over fences. As honest as Jay was, Tabitha would still get a little nervous coming up to new fences, so from time to time, I would lie to her about the height, like in this “little” log I convinced her was barely 12 inches.
Tabitha loves Mogwai so much that she fights with one of our MSR kids about who gets custody of Mog in case something ever happens to Brinn and myself. She also insisted that she wants a puppy from Mogwai. When we finally let the MSR kid breed Mogwai to his Catahoula Cur, Tabitha was the first one to pick out a puppy. Almost from the birthday of the litter (leap day!) Tabitha knew that she wanted the little brindle. I’m not going to say it’s always been the smoothest relationship –from time to time Hobby was down right aggravating, but Tabitha persevered with her consistent training and Hobby (short for Habanero, are you picking up on the theme with Tab’s pets yet?) has finally turned into an extremely well mannered little girl. She is SOOOO much like Mogwai! Several hunters have tried to purchase Hobby, and Tabitha rebuffs every offer. She would be devastated if something were to happy to her little bundle of teeth. I guess now, in a weird canine in-law or adoption kind of way, Tabitha really is related to the Kisers!
From the moment I told Tabitha that we were expecting Ian, she has been a devoted Auntie. She helped paint his room, shop for his necessities, and take care of the fur-babies while we were at the hospital. Along with my mom, cousin Kristine, and friends from the ranch, Tabitha was among the first to meet Ian during his first few hours of life. I’m pretty sure it was love at first sight. He’s a pretty luck nephew. Tabitha treats Ian about the same as how she treats Mogwai and Chaco, which is a pretty high compliment to Ian. Tabitha will randomly show up at the house while I’m at work and load Ian up to go spend the day with her.
One of the many kind things Tabitha has done for us, was to cook dinner the first week we were home from the hospital with a little boy who woke me up every three hours. This dinner made me aware of how good cottage cheese, a nasty vile lumpy concoction, can be when cooked. Here’s the recipe for the fantastic dish Tab made for us almost 5 months ago:
Tabitha’s Meat and Cheese Manicotti:
- 1 box of dried Manicotti Shells
- 1 lb ground beef
- 1 Jar of Spaghetti Sauce
- 8 oz Cottage Cheese
- 1 egg
- 1 cup mozzarella cheese
- Cook Manicotti Shells, following package directions.
- Brown ground beef, draining all fat.
- Mix ground beef with spaghetti sauce, and spread thin layer across bottom of casserole dish.
- Mix Cottage Cheese with egg.
- Stuff Manicotti noodles with cottage cheese mixture, and layer in casserole dish on top of meat/sauce mixture.
- Spread remaining sauce/meat mixture across the top of the manicotti.
- Sprinkly with mozzerella.
- Bake at 425 degrees around 20 minutes, and voila! You get super creamy manicotti!
I’ll try to add a picture next time Tabitha makes this.