Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Comfort AND fashion? Really?

I think you all know by now how I feel about comfort and fashion.

I am perfectly fine with the fact that sometimes fashion hurts. It is not easy to be stylish. It takes work. Commitment. Dedication. And often, sore toes.

I have no problem admitting that when a fashion item describes itself as "comfortable," I usually run the other direction. This mostly happens with shoes. You know the ones. (I was going to name names, but then I remembered what happened when I brought up the U-G-Gs. So, don't worry S-A-S, you are safe. THIS TIME.)

I have accepted the fact that fashionable footwear can even be dangerous. It's worth it to me to walk perilously on icy sidewalks in high heels. I have been known to trip over sidewalk cracks in my platform flip flops. And yes, my toes have been frozen for a good month straight now because of my determination to wear open-toed shoes in this so-called spring weather.

So, that is why I think it is not only blog-worthy, but somewhat earth-shattering news to report the following: I BOUGHT A PAIR OF COMFORTABLE SHOES. And. They are cute. (I hope.)

I found this experience so strange and out of the ordinary that I stood staring in the mirror at the shoe store for about 20 minutes, trying to be sure that the shoe on my foot really was stylish. Could it be? I could feel the padded comfort under my foot. And yet, as far as I could tell, the toe sticking out from under my jeans really. was. cute.

My suspicion was confirmed when another shoe shopper stopped in her tracks, looked at my feet and said, "Those are cute!" Then she added with a puzzled tone, "Are they comfortable?"

And for pretty much the first time in my life, I answered, "Yes! They are!"

(I later spied the same woman putting down a box of white pumps and checking out the same shoes I was trying on. I wanted to ask her to be my best friend, but, wisely, I resisted the urge.)

OK... So, please tell me if you think these shoes are not totally cute? (Or, have I officially hit middle age and I have lost all fashion sense?)

But I actually did not get the blue suede, even though that was my favorite.

Or the pewter... even though those are cool.

Instead, I was much in need of some type of shoe to wear in what is becoming a dreadfully long season between the two main seasons of the year: "Boots" and "Flip flops." So, I went with the clog. And can I tell you that my toes are so warm I can barely stand it?

I'm still in amazement. And I will confess that when I wake up in the morning, feeling groggy and dreading the start of the day, I think about putting on my comfy shoes, and I jump out of bed.

How about you? Do you have a favorite fashion item that is both comfy AND cute? Please share.


Monday, April 25, 2011

Chinese food, ham and other life lessons

Sunday morning the kids and I got dressed up in our Easter outfits and headed out to church. We said good-bye to my husband who was going the opposite direction: Asia. I think it's safe to say that is the opposite direction of anywhere we might have been going.

I guess there's something about the expectation of what a holiday SHOULD be that makes it so much worse when it's just a boring, lonely day at home. Or a boring, lonely day on a plane.

The kids and I enjoyed an awesome church service, but then had to face the sad reality of heading home by ourselves. I had been fighting a sore throat and runny nose on Saturday and never even made it to the store to stock up on diapers and milk. So, cooking lunch was out of the question.

With a tired baby ready for a nap, we decided to hit the drive-thru at Culver's. At least we could get custard for dessert, right? But Culver's being the intelligent, God-fearing restaurant that it is, made the smart decision to close on Easter.

The kids started begging for none other than Panda Express. I was too tired and my nose was too runny to argue. And there was just something so ironic about CapableDad on a plane to China and us eating Panda Express for Easter dinner. I had to go along with the plan.

I think it's safe to say that Panda Express is now on my list of the last possible foods that I ever want for Easter dinner. That was my first lesson learned.

The second is that when you are spending a quiet holiday at home eating drive-thru Chinese food, you shouldn't check Facebook. All the posts about ham and mashed potatoes and stuffed tummies were making me hungrier by the minute.

So, this morning, I started thinking about the ham my husband had put in the freezer a few months ago. He makes the most amazing ham in our convection cooker outdoors. It is moist with a smoky flavor that is perfect. I remembered a friend at church had told me she had put her Easter ham in the crock pot. Really? I didn't know you could do that!

I defrosted the 10-pound pig this morning, hoping I would be able to stuff its sad, sorry flesh in my crock pot for a mystery dinner of who-knows-what kind of pork. Loving self-torture, I didn't try the crock pot on for size before defrosting. Instead I spent the next 20 minutes sawing the flesh of the half-frozen pig, trying to stuff it in the crock pot. There is nothing I dislike more than cutting up meat, especially raw meat. Especially half-frozen raw meat that causes me to cut my fingers repeatedly.

It's in there, with absolutely no room to spare, which I'm fairly certain is the first rule of what NOT to do when using a crock pot. I remember reading something-something about leaving space in the crock pot for air to circulate or blah, blah, blah.

I'm sure my 8-year-old will be correct in his prediction: "You're going to have to cook that thing for DAYS if you ever want it to get done." (If I'm lucky.) I think that was when he ran off and cried, mumbling something about how much better the ham would be if Daddy was home to cook it.

I hate it that we experienced such an amazing weekend of Easter services, and yet I'm focusing on the mauled ham in the crock pot. I've been wanting to write a blog post about what I've learned the past few days. And hopefully, I'll be able to do that soon. But until then, I will leave you with these important life lessons:

1. Panda Express is not a good choice for a holiday dinner.
2. Measure the meat before putting it in the crock pot.
3. Don't check Facebook on a holiday when you are hungry.


Free spirit


Saturday, April 23, 2011


I wish I could somehow make time stop today.

I feel like I need to spend the day in quiet contemplation. I need to allow myself to feel pain. To experience the agony of today.

But it's the opening day of baseball. It's a day for soccer games. For many people, it's a day to decorate eggs and hide candy. It's a day to fill baskets. To shop for food. To buy gifts. To rush around.

Last night, our church had an amazing Good Friday service. We experienced the moments leading up to the crucification of Christ through the eyes of seven people. There were the crowds who yelled, "Crucify Him! Crucify Him!" There were the soldiers who gambled for his clothes.

There were friends and family. There was the criminal that hung next to him, challenging Jesus to save himself. Instead, he was mocked and beaten. He was brutalized beyond recognition.

Finally, there was the centurion who looked up at Jesus at the moment of his death. He heard the thunder. He saw the sky go dark. He felt the earthquake. He saw the rocks split. He saw the tombs break open and dead people raised to life.

"Surely, he was the Son of God," the centurion said. (Matthew 27:54)

The most staggering moment for me during that service was when Jesus cried out to God in his final moments. "My God! My God! Why have you forsaken me?"

I realized that would be my heart's cry, as well, if it weren't for Him. It is only because of His blood, his torture, His death, that I have life.

Well, that experience isn't really something I can tell anyone about with words. You had to experience it yourself. I know that many people experienced it last night where they were. Maybe in another way. But you either experienced it or you didn't.

The whole thing was compounded by the dark skies and rain that fell throughout the day. When we got home, we heard the rain pouring down in sheets. It was as if God was helping us understand the pain and the remorse of that moment.

I don't think I've ever longed so deeply for Sunday to come. I can only begin to imagine the grief that those who loved Jesus felt on that Saturday. What must it have been like to live in the presence of God in a tangible form? When Jesus walked into a room, people were naturally drawn to him. They wanted to be near him. For those who didn't believe, his presence brought out an overwhelming need to condemn and destroy.

When that physical presence was taken — killed, actually — right in front of them, it must have left a void in their hearts that was too great to bear. The sorrow. The pain. The agony. It's too much to imagine.

I'm sure they wanted time to stop. And yet, they had to cope with the human condition. Somehow, they had to figure out a way to live. They had to go through the motions of that day, not knowing what we know now. Sunday is on its way!

I have no desire to decorate eggs in pretty pastels today or to fill baskets with chocolate. But I'm eagerly awaiting tomorrow. I hope the sun will shine brightly! We will put on our best clothes and celebrate with all of our hearts. "He is risen!"


The words to this song have been playing through my head as I think about Easter.

Savior I come
Quiet my soul remember
Redemption's hill
Where Your blood was spilled
For my ransom
Everything I once held dear
I count it all as loss
[ Lyrics from: http://www.lyricsmode.com/lyrics/h/hillsong_united/lead_me_to_the_cross.htm
Lead me to the cross
Where Your love poured out
Bring me to my knees
Lord I lay me down
Rid me of myself
I belong to You
Oh Lead me, lead me to the cross

You were as I
Tempted and tried
The word became flesh
Bore my sin and death
Now you're risen
Everything I once held dear
I count it all as loss

To your heart
To your heart
Lead me to your heart
Lead me to your heart


Friday, April 22, 2011

My day

I love birthdays! I love celebrating friends. I love parties. I love surprising my kids with special gifts. And, yes, I even love my own birthday!

I have definitely made an impression on my family with my belief that birthdays should be special days. They all went out of their way to shower me with love and kindly cooperate with all of the things I wanted to do on my day yesterday.

My husband had to head to the office at a very early hour, but somehow he managed to get to Dunkin' Donuts and back first. The kids had decorated the house with drawings of Angry Birds wishing me a happy birthday. (We HAVE to have a theme, you know!)

And check out a few of my wonderful gifts... A hand-made purse, created with duct tape and yarn... It says, "Rock out, girl!" and "My mom rocks!"

And money straight from the piggy bank!

We cancelled school and headed out for a place that was warm and sunny. I was totally blessed by the bright sunshine and warmer temps in the middle of a week of rain and cold. I have been wanting to go back to this horticultural center, but the kids don't love it as much as I do.

It's the same place where we took the Christmas photos at the top of my blog. But when we walked in this time, I was overwhelmed by the sights and smells of beautiful spring flowers. Ahhh... This is my happy place.

The kids all let me take their photos...

All except one. She was too busy running!

I did get her to sit down for a minute beside me. But all of the other group photos involved her struggling to get away!

A dear friend offered to watch all four of the kids for the afternoon while I enjoyed doing whatever I wanted to do. I didn't have to think long. I embarked on my favorite activity: SHOPPING! And mixed in a few of my favorite foods: Andy's Custard and Panera Bread. YUM!

I was smiling all day long with the gazillions of Facebook notifications from so many friends wishing me a happy day. Even if you don't like Facebook every other day of the year, you have to love it on your birthday! How fun to hear from friends near and far!

We finished off the day with a nice evening out. It was great to sit and relax at dinner with my wonderful husband. (And yes... my toes FROZE him my spring sandals. I'm trying to stay committed to spring fashion, but it's getting a little ridiculous when the temps drop to 30 degrees every evening!)

I'm sure I've said this many other times, but it was my BEST. BIRTHDAY. EVER!


Friday, April 15, 2011

Because this makes me smile

Hey there! Remember me? I'm your long-lost blog owner, just popping in to share a laugh.

So, this week we had a lot going on. Part of the problem was that I was under a self-imposed deadline to clean the house from top to bottom, including all of the closets and hidden spaces that never get cleaned. Unfortunately for everyone who lives here, cleaning makes me grumpy.

After several days of me cleaning like a mad woman and mumbling various diatribes about why I'm the only person who can pick anything up and does anyone else in this house know where anything belongs and blah, blah, blah, why do you have 20 pairs of dirty socks stuck in your bed, the kids did what only the best kids in the world would do. They made me a video.

I really couldn't believe it when I saw it. Each of them took turns singing songs of thanks to me for cleaning their rooms. This last song from my 10-year-old is so funny that I've starting watching it first thing every morning, just to get my day off to a good start.

I hope it will make you laugh, too. Oh, and by the way... if you want to know about the birds pecking me in the head, you can read about that here.

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