Friday, December 28, 2012

You have a small child in your house if you . . .

This is a personal list compiled from the experiences I’ve had with my children.

You have a small child in the house if you:

- step over the pots and pans spread over the floor and which you had just put back in the cabinet five minutes prior
- have to hop over a gate at the bottom and/or top of your stairs
- have a child safety lock on every floor cabinet in the house
- put your chairs on top of the table instead of tucked underneath
- your blinds look as if they’d just been dragged through the street (assuming you have any  blinds left)
- have taken the knobs off your oven/stove, placing them in a makeshift container on the counter
- have to store away the coffee table for a time
- put your Christmas ornaments on the top half of the tree only
- vacuum your floor at least once a day (and sometimes more) to get all the Cheerios, crumbs and other spills from underfoot - or just say, “forget it, I have more pressing matters like laundry, dishes, helping with homework, fixing stuff, going to the store, preparing meals . . .”
- keep recharging the dust buster for all those little spills
- place a barricade around your computer desk or have to put the keyboard and mouse on a shelf higher than the desk
- drape blankets or towels over the book shelves (out of sight, out of mind)
- keep the bathroom door shut, even when unoccupied
- have to re-roll the toilet paper when you forget to close the bathroom door
- have to clean up the toilet water from the toilet seat and floor when you forget to close the bathroom door
- have to wash and sanitize your child’s hands after he/she has played in the toilet water when you forgot to close the bathroom door
- have sanitation available in every room of the house
- continually tell your other kids to “HUSH!” so your infant/toddler won’t wake from his/her nap too soon thus shortening your time to finally get the laundry, dishes, cleaning, cooking and everything else done
- take five hours to watch a two-hour movie
- wake up several times a night to make sure your child is covered
- wake up several times a night to put a restless child back to sleep
- wake up several times a night wondering why your child is sleeping so well
- keep a large supply of plastic grocery bags on hand for those soiled and smelly diapers
- consider a trip to the grocery store without your child a relaxing vacation
- frequently stick your finger in your child’s mouth to check if the item he/she found on the floor is edible or not - if edible, you let it ride
- occasionally find that missing bottle or “sippy” cup with less than fresh juice or milk in it, causing you to either soak it in bleach or simply throw the container out and buy a new one
- have become proficient at doing chores with one hand while holding your child in the other
- you don’t bother folding the laundry anymore because your neat little piles will invariably be destroyed within seconds anyway
- find that the folds in your vehicle’s seats contain more Cheerios than the cereal isle at the grocery store
- feel a little abandoned if there aren’t tiny hands tugging at your pants
- feel like pulling your hair out at your child’s tantrum, but then steal a kiss on his/her soft cheek when he/she finally falls asleep in your arms

Saturday, December 8, 2012

"Educational" posts, e-mails and tweets

The following post was taken from an e-mail sent to me by a friend. It's meant to be humorous, not for the unfortunate fact that some of these things have happened to a select few, nor that we shouldn't remain cautious and aware of our surroundings, but that the warning of the populous about them has been somewhat blown out of proportion:

As we progress into 2013, I want to thank people for their "educational" posts, e-mails and tweets over the past year. I am totally messed up now and have little chance of recovery.

I can no longer open a bathroom door without using a paper towel, nor let the waitress put lemon slices in my ice water without worrying about the bacteria on the lemon peel.
I can't sit down on a hotel bedspread because I can only imagine what has happened on it since it was last washed.
I have trouble shaking hands with someone who has been driving because the number one pastime while driving alone is picking one's nose.
Eating a little snack sends me on a guilt trip because I can only imagine how many gallons of trans fats I've already accumulated over the years.
I can't touch any woman's handbag for fear she has placed it on the floor of a public restroom.
I should use a wet sponge with every envelope that needs sealing because of rodent feces found in the glue on envelope flaps.

I have to scrub the top of every can I open for the same reason as above.
I can't use cancer-causing deodorants even though I smell like a water buffalo on a hot day.
My prayers only get answered if I share a post or e-mail and make a wish within five minutes.
I should feel guilty, unpatriotic, insensitive or selfish if I don't "share" a post marked "share if you agree."
I can't drink cola because it can remove toilet stains and will so the same to the enamel on my teeth.
I now keep my toothbrush in the kitchen because I was informed that water splashes over 6 feet out of the toilet. 
I don't buy fuel without taking someone along to watch the car, so a serial killer doesn't crawl in my back seat when I'm filling up.
I no longer use plastic wrap in the microwave because it causes seven different types of cancer.
I can't boil a cup of water in the microwave anymore because it will blow up in my face, disfiguring me for life.
I no longer go to the cinema because I could be pricked with a needle infected with AIDS when I sit down.
I don't go to shopping centers because someone will drug me with a perfume sample and rob me.

 And I no longer answer the phone because someone will ask me to dial a number for which I will get a huge phone bill with calls to another country.
I can't use anyone's toilet but mine because a big black snake could be lurking under the seat and cause me instant death when it bites my bum.
I can't do any gardening because I'm afraid I'll get bitten by the Violin Spider (Brown Recluse) and my hand will fall off.

If you don't share this post with at least 149,576 people in the next 5 minutes, a large bird of prey will land on your head at 5:00 p.m. tomorrow afternoon, and the fleas from 120 camels will infest your person, causing you to grow a hairy hump. I know this will occur because it actually happened to a friend of my next door neighbors ex mother-in-law's second husband's cousin's best friend's beautician!
Oh, and by the way...

A renowned scientist, after a lengthy study,
has discovered that people with insufficient brain activity read posts with their hand on the mouse.

Don't bother taking it off now, it's too late.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Third Grade Apple Recipes

Earlier this year, my mother was organizing and cleaning her home when she came across an apple-shaped cookbook filled with apple recipes. I’d given it to her when I was in elementary school. The book was compiled by the students of Mrs. Cerioni’s third grade class at Oakhurst Elementary in Oakhurst, California. (I think it was 1985, or there about). The recipes obtained from our parents were copied down in our own handwriting. I’ve typed them out UNEDITED as they were written. I left punctuation and spelling as it appeared in the book, making for some cute and precious writing. They are listed in alphabetical order by the student’s last name. Words in italics are my own comments. Despite the spelling flaws and sometimes confusing directions, all the recipes sound yummy and fun. I hope you enjoy them!

Debby Anne Adams
Applesauce Fruit Bread
2 cups golden raisins
1½ cups flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 tsp. ground cloves, cinnamon, allspice + salt
1 cup hazelnuts or walnuts
1 tsp. baking powder
4 tbs melted butter
1 cup cool thick applesauce
toss raisins in flour add the sugars, seasoning, nuts and baking powder. Beat the butter into the thick applesauce, pour into other ingredients. butter and flour and place waxpaper on bottom of pan Bake at 300 1 ½ hours
(In the years following third grade, Debby became a grammar QUEEN despite these humble beginnings with punctuation - LOL)

Sarah Belle Andrews (Sarah’s recipe was the only one with no mistakes – way to go, Sarah! A+)
Apple Crisp
                        4 cups sliced pared tart apples (about 4 medium)
                        2/3 to 3/4 cup brown sugar (packed)
                        1/2 cup flour
                        1/2 cup oats
                        3/4 tsp cinnamon
                        1/3 cup butter (softened)
Heat oven to 375. Grease square pan, 8x8x2”. Place apple slices in pan. Mix remaining ingredients thoroughly. Sprinkle over apples. Bake 30 minutes or until apples are tender & topping is golden brown. Serve warm & with ice cream.

Christine Bonnel (I love the “short and sweet” approach – my kind of recipe *smile*)
Fresh Apple Cake
                        1/2 cup oil, 2 eggs
                        2 cups sugar, 2 tsp vanilla
Mix and add
                        2 cups flour, 1 tsp salt,
                        1 tsp baking soda, 2 tsp cinnamon
Mix well fold in 4 cups of unpealed apples and 1½ cups of chopped walnuts. Spread evenly in greased 9x13”pan bake in 350 oven for 45 minutes or until done.

Jamie Lynn Burtle
Apple Pizza (Pizza of ANY kind is a good thing – great idea, Jamie!)
                        apples, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg.
Double pie crust
                        1/2 cup sugar
                        1 teaspoon cinnamon
                        1/2 teasoon (teaspoon) nutmeg
(Crumb to go on top)
                        1/2 cup margaine (margarine)
                        1/2 cup sugar
                        3/4 cups flour
            mix it and crumbly topping, sprinkle over pizza cook at 450 for 30 min.

Rori Cerioni (it wasn’t until I went to Italy that I REALLY learned how to pronounce Cerioni)
            Fruit Torte
                        1 16 crushed vanilla wafers (probably means 16 crushed wafers makes 1 cup *grin*)
                        2c powdered sugar
                        1c butter or margarine
                        4 eggs separated
                        Desired Fruit
                        Small carton of whipping cream or cool whip
Line 9x13 inch pan with ½ the crumbs. In bowl beat together until fluffy, powdered sugar and butter add beaten egg yolks. Beat egg whites until stiff, add to sugar and butter mixture. Spread this over crumbs. Next add a layer of fruit, any fruit is good if using canned or frozen drain well, sugar if unsweetened. Top this layer with either whipping cream or cool whip cover with remaining crumbs and chill several hours.
(not bad for being in her mom’s class – love ya Rori! )

Joshua R. Ellis (sweet little Josh switched his fraction numbers throughout the recipe - 2\1 should be 1/2, but it’s the thought that counts *smile*)
            Apple-Orange Brownies
                        6 Table spoons butter
                        1 cup brown sugar
                        2\1 cup applesauce
                        1 teaspoon shredded orange peel
                        1 beaten egg
                        1 teaspoon vanilla
                        4\1 cup flour
                        1 teaspoon baking powder
                        2\1 teaspoon salt
                        4\1 teaspoon soda
                        2\1 cup chopped walnuts
cook till butter melted – brown sugar, applesauce, orange peel, egg + vanilla. Sift together flour, baking powder, salt soda. Stir into sauce pan. Stir in walnuts. Spread in greased 15x 10x inch pan. Bake at 350 for 15 minutes. While warm top with orange glaze: combine
1 2\1 cup sugar
2\1 teaspoon vanilla
2 Tablespoon orange Juice
Ty Fletcher
            Apple Chip Coffee Cake
                        *2 tbsp sugar    *1 egg
                        *2 c bisquick    *3/4 c milk
                        1/2 c brown sugar         *1 c chopped pared apples
                        1/2 c chopped Brazil nuts
                        2 tbsp vegetable oil
                        1 tbsp bisquick
                        1/2 tsp cinnamon
Heat oven to 400. blend ingredients marked with * spread batter in greased 9” pan sprinkle with mixture of 1/2 c brown sugar packed, 2 tbsp bisquick 2 tbsp vegetable oil, 1/2 c cinnamon (I’m sure he meant 1/2 teaspoon, not cup that would be a TON of cinnamon – LOL) Bake 20 to 25 min. 8 servings.

Ruby Hammond
            Apple oat meal cookies (love it – oat meal, instead of oatmeal – so cute)
                        1/2 cup butter, 1 cup sugar
                        1/2 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 1 egg
                        1 cup oats, 1 cup flour
                        2 cup, shreaded apples (2 med Apples)
                        1/2 cup raisins, 1 teaspoon cinnamon
                        1/2 teaspoon cloves, 1/2 cup nuts (chopped fine If desired)
Mix together well, drop by wet spoon on ungreased Cookie sheet bake at 375 or until brown

Matthew James Hashim
            Apple-Celery-Peanut Salad
                        4 apples, cored & diced (preferably red skinned)
                        6 medium stalks celery, thinly sliced crosswise.
                        4 1.2 oz. packages of salted peanuts.
(not sure what the 1.2 means, but I'm guessing 1/2)
                        2-3 tablespoons lemon juice mayonnaise.
(He meant lemon juice and mayo as separate ingredients, unless, of course, there’s a lemon juice mayonnaise I'm unaware of)
Toss diced apples with lemon juice. Add celery and peanuts. Stir in enough mayonnaise to make salad moist (but not sloppy) (“sloppy,” that made me laugh)

Chas Milo Huston
            Apple Pie
                        Basic Pastry dough for 9-inch two-crust pie
Preheat oven to 425. Line 9” pie pan with half pastry dough. Mix 3/4-1 c sugar, 1/2 tsp salt 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/2 tsp. nutmeg and 1½ T flour in a large bowl. Peel, core, and slice 6 firm tart apples and toss them in the sugar mixture coating them well Pile them in to the lined pan and dot with the Butter Roll out the top cut and drape it over the pie crimp the edges and cut vents in the top. (WOW, that’s detailed! Great directions, Chas!) Bake 10 minutes them lower heat to 350 Bake 30-40 minutes more.

Julie Anne James
            Apple Cake
1½ c mashed cooked applis (cute spelling of apples). While still hot add: 1 cube (1/2 c) margarine or butter, 1c. sugar, 1tsp cinnamon, 1/2tsp nutmeg 1/8 tsp cloves. 1/8tsp ginger Cool & add :2 c flour, 1/2 tsp salt, 1 tsp baking soda & 2 eggs (slightly beaten) mix, then add: 1c nuts 1c. raisins or dates (optional) bake at 350 for 45 or 50 min in 9” sq. greased & floured pan. Frost with favorite icing.

Ricky Johnson (Ricky put periods at the end of every ingredient. What an efficient boy!)
            Danish Apple Pudding
                        1/2 cup graham Cracker crumbs.
1/3 cups of butter.
                        2 cups apple sauce.
                        1/4 tsp salt.
                        1 tbsp lemon Juice.
                        1/2 tsp cinnamon.
                        1 cup whipping cream.
saute (Wow, he used a sophisticated word! I didn't know the word sauté until about high school) gently until evenly browned. Blend the graham Crackers and butter lined greased 8inch square pan, With half crumb mixture and mix apple sauce salt lemon juice and cinnamon. Pour half of this mixture over crumbs and remaining applesauce. Top with sweetened whipped cream and cill (chill). Serves about 6

Jason Jon Kissee
            Apple Pie Crisp
                        4c. Sliced pared tart apples
1/4c. orange juice
                        1c. sugar
                        3/4 c. sifted all-purpose flour.
                        1/2 tsp cinnamon
                        1/4 tsp nutmeg.
Dash salt
Place apple in buttered 9”. Pie plate, sprinkle with orange Juice combine in butter till mixture is crumbly (I think he skipped the part about mixing the sugar, flour, cinnamon and nutmeg before working in the butter – but we’ll forgive him *smile*) sprinkle over apples. Bake at 375 for 45, minutes or till apples are tender and topping is crisp. serve warm with cream. Makes 6, serving.

Megan Marquardt (Okay, the spelling throughout this recipe is just TOO DANG CUTE! Loved it, Megan!)
            Apple Crisp
                        1/2 cup quick cooking rololed (rolled oats)
                        1/2 cup packed brown sugar
                        1/4 cup all puipose (purpose) flour
                        1/2 teaspoon giound cinnamom (ground cinnamon)
                        Dash salt
                        1/4 cup of butter
                        6 mediuwn (medium) apples
In mixing bowl conbine (combine) four (flour) cinnamon and salt Mix in bown (bowl) till mixtuwu (mixture) is crumbly. Set uside (aside) peel and core apples then slice apples into bottom of baking dish. Sprnkle (Sprinkle) the flowr (flour) mixture over the top. Bake at 350 for about 40 min. or until apples tests done with fork. Serve with whipped cream. Makes 6 servings

Tammi Martinez (Tammi used semi-colons in this one – what an advanced little kid!)
            Baked apples
Core 6 large baking apples ; pared cut off top of each. Place in 10X6x 1½ inch baking dish. Fill apples with 3/4 cup raisins of chopped dates. Combine 1 cup brown sugar, 1 cup water, 2 tablespoons butter 1/2 teaspoons ground nutmeg ; bring to boil. Pour hot syrup around apples. Bake uncovered at 350 about 60 minuets, basting occasianally. (Yes, Tammi misspelled “occasionally” only getting one letter wrong, but I always slaughtered that word.) Serve with cream Serves 6.
Kelly Minkler (Kelly used more periods in his ingredient list than in his directions – NICE)
            Apple Crisp
                        1C. rolled oats
                        1 C. brown sugar packed
                        8T. floar (cute spelling)
                        1/2tsp. nutmeg.
                        Dash of salt
                        8T. butter (1 cube)
                        6C. sliced peeled apples
Mix together first six ingredients. Cut in soft britter (butter) Set aside Put 1/4 of oat mixture on bottom of buttered 8x8 pan. Place apple slices over oat mixture sprinkle remaining oat mixture over apple slices Bake at 350 for 45 minutes. Can serve warm with ice cream

catherine murphy (in the book, sweet Catherine didn't capitalize her name, so I didn't either – hey, maybe she likes it that way)
            Apple Sauce
                        4 medium cooking apples
                        1 cup water
                        1/2 cup brown sugar
                        1/4 Teaspoon cinnamon
                        1/8 Teaspoon nutmeg
Heat apples and water over medium heat boiling. Reduce heat, simmer stirring. occasionally 5 to 10 minutes or until tender stir in brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg, heat to boiling. makes about 4 cups

Farrah Powell (I love the“what you need” and “what you do” directions - so sweet and informative)
            Saucy Spicy Apple Sauce
            what you need
                        two 8 ounce jars of apple sauce
                        1/4 cup orange juice
                        1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
            what you do
put applesauce into large bolb (bowl) Add orange juice and cinnamon mix well sprinkle with nutmeg clean up (she’s the only one who mentioned cleaning up – LOL) chill and serve in small dishes to your buddies. Makes enough for your friends. (so amiable -  I love it!)

Elsie Rees (Oh boy, here’s mine . . . I had issues with capitalization, spelling AND commas *tsk tsk*)
            apple Dessert
                        four cups sliced apples
                        1 cup orange juice
                        3/4 cup flour
                        1/3 tsp. cinnamon
                        1/2 cup butter or margarine
slice apples in small pan add orange juice, mix dry ingredients and cut up butter until mixture is crumbly. Then scatter over apples. Bake 350 for 45 mixtire. (yep, that's right, I seriously misspelled minutes) Serve warm. Serves six.

Matthew David Sebastian (I love Matt’s directions – brief and to the point – LOL)
            Apple Pie
                        2 cups of flowr (my little girl spells it this way too – way cute)
                        1½ t. salt
                        1/2 cup of oil
                        5 t. of water
            Mix together into ball. Split in half. Roll out into circle. Put in pan.
                        10 cup of apples sliced
                        1 cup of suger
                        3 t. of corn starch
                        4 t. of cinnamon
                        2 t. of nutmeg
                        3 t. lemon juice
                        3 t. butter
            Put apples in pie Cook at 400 for 45 minutes

Nancy Shockley (There weren't many mistakes in Nancy’s recipe – Way to go! High five!)
            Apple Walnut cobbler
1/2 cup sugar
                        1/2 tsp cinnamon
                        3/4 cup coarse chopped walnuts
                        4 cups sliced apple
                        1/4 cup water
                        1 cup sifted flour
                        1 cup sugar
                        1 tsp baking powder
                        1/4 tsp salt
                        1 well beaten egg
                        1/2 cup evaporated milk
                        1/2 cup butter or margarine (melted)
Place apple in battom (bottom) of greased 8” or 9” baking dish. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup sugar cinnamon and 1/2 cup walnuts. Sprinkle over apple. Mix dry ingredients. Combine egg, milk & butter, add dry ingredients all at once and mix until smooth. Pour over apples, sprinkle with remaining walnuts Bake at 325 about 50 minutes. Servewith (Serve with) cinnamon topped with whipped cream.

Harmony Esta Stern (This one was great! Short but instructive – WAY CUTE!)
            Dried Apple Slices
Peeland (Peel and) wash apples. Slice into 1/4 inch thick slices. Place on small screen in direct sunlight. Ready in one day (summer). Takes longer in colder weather (LOL – I love it!). May be dried in oven (low heat). When dry, place in zip lock bags.

Sarah Marie Thacker
            Apple Muffins
            Blend: 1/4 cup soft shorting (LOL – I like “shorting”) 1/2 cup sugar then add: 1½ cups flour, 3 tsp. baking powder, 1/2 tsp salt 1/2 tsp cinnamon grated raw unpared apples. Fill greased or paper-lined muffin tins. Bake at 400 for 20-25 min. yields about 12 medium sized muffins.

Skye Whitfield (Skye’s recipe took up 4 or 5 pages in the little book,  and they were in the wrong order. It took me a while to straighten them out)
            Apple-Filled oatmeal cookies
                        1 cup all-purpose flour
                        1 teaspoon baking poader (powder)
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 cup butter of margarine
                        1/2 cup packed brown sugar
                        1 egg
                        1/4 cup milk
                        3/4 cup quick-cooking rolled (oats?)
Grease cookie sheet. Prepare filling. Combine flour, baking powder, spices and 1/8 teaspoon salt. Beat butter for 30 seconds; add brown sugor (sugar) and beat till fluffy. Add eggs; beat well. Add dry ingredients and milk alternately, beating after each addition. Stir in oats. Drop from a teaspoon onto cookie sheet. Make depression in center of each: fill with a teaspoon of apple filling
            apple filling
combine 1/2 cups finely diced peeled apple 1/2 cup granulated sugar 1/3 cup raisins 1/3 cup chopped pecans and two tablespoonswater (tablespoons water) Cook and stir till thick and apple is tender

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Adventures in Setting up for Christmas

Setting up for Christmas at the Park home is always an adventure, especially with infants and young children. First we retrieve our artificial, prelit, 7½-foot pine tree from storage along with all the other boxes containing Christmas decorations. From lights and ornaments to stockings and various Christmas statues, it all gets piled into the living room and deboxed. We place a Christmas CD into the stereo and commence playing jolly holiday tunes. The tree is pulled from its coffin, the misshapen branches mashed and bent at odd angles from its year long rest in the box. It takes a good 30 minutes to place the three pieces of the tree together, straighten the branches to give it some semblance of a real tree, and connect the outlets and cords in the right order so that all the lights come on at once.

We allow our 4 and 7-year-old girls to hang the ornaments on the outstretched limbs. The only stipulation this year: The ornaments must start at least three feet up to prevent our 1-year-old from pulling them off and destroying them as only a curious tot could do with a slobbery mouth, tiny pulling fingers and little stomping feet. This leaves the entire bottom portion of the tree bare. The tree is invariably decorated more on one side than the other, but as the task was given to the kids, I don’t interfere or correct the peculiar spacing. Though the snowflake ornaments lose a pound of glitter to my floor each year, they never seem to run out of the sparkly particles. I vacuum the floor three times before giving up on removing every bit from my carpet.

The nativity scene is strategically placed above the entertainment center, reminding us of the true reason for the season, the birth of our Lord, Jesus Christ. Other statues and holiday décor are also set around the living room, kitchen and dining area.

My husband heads up the construction of the train tracks around the base of the tree, propping the branches up so the battery-operated Thomas, Arthur and Rosie tank engines won’t derail when passing underneath. The tracks don’t last five minutes in their completed state, however, as they succumb to the crawling infant’s inquisitive touch. We allow her to have her fun, and then rebuild the tracks after she goes down for a nap. I fear, however, that this pattern of destruction and rebuilding will be a daily ritual for the next five weeks.

The final touch of Christmas in our home is in the dividing up of the bag of cinnamon scented pine cones around the house. Knowing the cinnamon oil on the cones is strongest when warmed, we lift the heating vent covers upstairs and place two pine cones in each vent. Downstairs we hang a cone beneath each ceiling vent. As expected, the spicy aroma of cinnamon wafts through the house each time the thermostat signals the air to turn on, creating a truly festive atmosphere.

I never look forward to the work involved in setting up for the holidays, but seeing the finished product after its done, I always feel joyful as I anticipate another merry Christmas.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Thrift Stores ROCK!

Two months ago I bought a bunch of t-shirts for my husband for $1 apiece at the local thrift store. One of them had a Hostess Twinkie on the front that said "It's what's on the inside that counts." Little did I know that the Hostess company would soon close it's doors and that today the same Twinkie shirts would be selling on e-bay for over $35 each. I love thrift stores! *HUGE GRIN*

Wednesday, November 14, 2012


From Page to Knight
A future knight started training at age 6 as a page. A young page was often sent to a knight’s castle for training. As a page he learned simple household skills and basic fighting skills with wooden swords. He served the lord and lady of the castle. Some learned to read and write as part of their training. At about age 14 the page became a squire. He often lived in a group with other squires and learned to use real weapons. They often got used the heavy armor by running around in chain mail. Squires looked after the lord’s horses, practiced swordsmanship, hit targets with lances, and helped dress his lord in the heavy armor, which could sometimes take up to an hour.

Full knight training, from page to knighting, could take as long as 15 years to complete, depending on how well the participant learned and applied his training. Generally after age 21, they could be knighted, though some could be knighted earlier if they fought well, especially during times of war when fighting men were in need. Only the king or another knight could knight another person. Upon being knighted, a knight was given a sword and spurs (spurs were worn at the knight’s ankle). These were most always worn as symbols of his knighthood. If his knighthood was ever taken away for disloyalty or other reasons, so were his sword and spurs. After a knighting, celebrations including tournaments, feasts, dancing and music took place, sometimes lasting for days. Some squires were knighted quickly without ceremony before or after a battle for showing great courage.

At first, anyone who had been trained, and could afford the mount and armor, could be a knight. Later in history, only important men of title could be knighted. This ensured loyalty in high places as well as continual funding. A knight’s armor, being very costly, could only be afforded by rich nobles, a wealthy sponsor, or as an expensive gift from someone. Some squires remained squires because they lacked the funds to buy the required horse and armor.

Armor, Weapons and Tournaments
Heaviest suits of armor weighed about 50 pounds with the chain mail weighing about the same, but the mail seemed heavier because it hung on the knight, but the plate armor sat on the waist and was more evenly distributed over the body, so it seemed lighter. Each type of armor was generally considered a separate suit for different battle tactics. Chain mail might have seemed heavier, but it allowed for more movement than plate armor. Full chain mail and full plate armor were not worn together, but pieces of each could be added to the other to create a hybrid suit for efficient protection and mobility. Example: Plate armor was sometimes placed over the mail at the shoulders and neck area for added protection. Since stainless steel didn’t exist at the time, chain mail rusted easily, so it was regularly rubbed down or rolled in sand to keep it clean and free of rust.

A garrison consisted of a team of knights and other soldiers protecting a castle. Knights (soldiers on horses) only made up about a 5th of a medieval army, with the rest being soldiers on foot using bows and arrows, crossbows, lances, pikes, axes, maces, flails, etc. Some knights thought archers were cowardly because they shot from a distance and it was safer, but I’m sure there were other knights who didn’t think so and were quite good with the bow and crossbow. Bow archers could shoot at a rate of about 12 arrows per minute (1 every 5 seconds).

The size of warriors’ shields, from full body length to the size of a man’s torso, grew smaller with the advancement of sturdier armor.

Most knights had about three horses: One for battle, one for carrying his gear and one for traveling on. A knight’s war horse was specially bred and weighed almost twice as much as an ordinary horse.

Firing stones and iron balls with cannons and gunpowder weren’t widely used until the 1300s. Trebuchet’s (giant catapults) and giant crossbows were more widely used.

Medieval enemies sometimes got into a castle by bribing a guard to open the gate or by climbing up the drains. Through the plumbing? Ewe! Stinky bad guys!

Tournaments were a way for a knight to practice and sharpen his skills with sword and lance. A decree from King Edward I stated that tournament blades and lances must be blunted or protected at the tip to prevent serious injury and death. No use killing off his army of good knights and soldiers during practice. Edward once banned tournaments for a time because knights were participating in those rather than fighting in Edwards battles with the Scots.  During long sieges, knights sometimes held tournaments with enemy knights to relieve the boredom of waiting.

God Speed! by Edmund Blair Leighton, 1900
People expected knights to stick to high standards of conduct: Bravery, loyalty, generosity, and being truthful. This was the code of chivalry. They also treated noblewomen with great respect and were expected to be completely devoted to the lady he loved. Sometimes ladies tied a scarf or ribbon on a knight at a tournament. His wearing it showed the dedication of his performance to her.

Knights killed enemy knights without reserve, unless an enemy knight surrendered, then the surrendered knight was treated with respect, and not thought less of for having surrendered.

A knight loved to hunt and did so for entertainment, sport and to provide meat for the family. He hunted large prey on horseback with the use of dogs, and smaller animals on foot with the use of birds. Sometimes he paid peasants to run ahead and make noise to scare the animals out of hiding.

Coat of Arms
Medieval Times knights line up
The surcoat/surcote that went over the chain mail or armor was decorated with designs and pictures that represented the family or region in which the knight was from. This was known as the coat of arms. The coat of arms was also painted on shields and often made into a cover that was placed over the horse as well. This allowed people to recognize the knight. A son could wear his father’s coat of arms while the father was alive, but had to add an extra symbol to indicate the son’s place in the family. Upon the father’s death, the eldest son could remove his indicating mark and fully inherit the father’s coat of arms. If a man had no sons, the daughter could inherit his coat of arms and she’d be known as a heraldic heiress. Sometimes women created a coat of arms by combining her father’s and husband’s symbols.  These coats of arms were often bisected with a different symbol represented on each side.


Knights began to be phased out around the mid 14th century as kings began hiring year round mercenaries working for a wage instead of knights to fight their wars. Many knights also preferred to stay at home and look after their estates. Even as early as 1300, knights began to lose their advantage on the battlefield as technology and weapon engineering became more powerful, such as the cannon, longbow shooting arrows right through armor, the use of pikes that forced a knight to dismount and have to fight on foot, and different tactics used by foot soldiers. With the ascent of more powerful and wealthy merchants, kings looked to them for financial and political support rather than knights. Kings even began to knight the merchants, though this was more of an honorary title than anything, for they weren’t expected t fight. Some countries today still knight people as a reward for a service rendered to their country.

(Tidbits taken from a great young-readers book, Knights, by Rachel Firth with wonderful pictures and illustrations by Lucy Owen