Sunday, November 27, 2011

Best. Face. Ever.

That's how good my turkey was.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanks before Give.

So many years ago these two people go married. On Thanksgiving, I have to stop and reflect on their marriage, because it so aptly illustrates what this day is about.

What is Thanksgiving about?
Life shared.

Through the last two years or more, my parents have been walking through a severe trial. My father is struggling against depression; and my mom is right there fighting alongside him. This year we are thankful that the worst of the depression has passed. But it doesn't mean it is over or easy sledding.

Their marriage is still strong. It has been difficult to walk together through the worst years. I have watched them closely. As I approach my own anniversary, I have learned a little of what this looks like in my own marriage over six years. I see that in my parents and my own marriage, you cannot give to another unless you start with thanks. Without a grateful heart, it is very easy to focus on all the "little foxes"--the hurt, the disappointment, the anger, the loneliness. If you see first the gift, the bounty, the kindnesses, the family, the life shared, you can easily forgive and give thanks.

As I sit around my table tonight, I am going to give thanks for how God uses marriage to teach us about thankfulness and giving to others. I have just started this journey of marriage compared to my parents. I have learned so much from watching. Happy anniversary Mom and Dad. Thank you for living the truth-- to give thanks, and to continue to give to each other.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Just for fun

If you are heading to New York City anytime soon, I thought I would share some of my new favorite spots from my trip this past weekend. And just in case you are confused-- we really only do three things on any vacation: exercise, eat and shop :)

We started out at lunch at Toasties. Our nose drew us in and our mouth confirmed how fresh their food was. Travis reported it was the best Rueben sandwich he has every had. This is great compliment coming from a connoisseur of that particular sandwich.

We then wandered through Rockefeller Center fighting our way through crowds of people looking at them decorating the Christmas tree, which was unveiled today, I think. We showed my mother and sister Travis' and my favorite chocolate places-- Teucher and La Maison du Chocolat--but settled for a cup of the best hot chocolate at La Maison. As if it was settling. It's the best chocolate in the world, some say.

After fighting the crowds at Rockefeller and checking out the new couches my fabulous uncle made for Michael Kors new store, we wandered down Fifth Avenue. Here's a picture of Mr. Kors, sitting on those very couches. Because who else is going to brag about him, unless it is me??My uncle is so modest, he doesn't even have a website, so you can read about him here. The same fabulous uncle also made us a fabulous dinner that night.

A new spot that we happened upon was this store, Rain, of which there is only one store in the US. Don't you just love the elitism of NYC? It makes the average woman feel so special and privileged.  I fell in love with their scents as well as their bath salts.

The next morning we went to brunch at ABC Kitchen. We also had a celebrity spotting, where Jesse Tyler Ferguson sat at an opposite table behind us, enjoying the same kind of awesome brunch foods. The best part was that it was all hot. I burned the roof of my mouth hot.

After breakfast we wandered through the ABC store's, where I saw some very inspiring jewelry by St.Kilda, especially the piece she carved out of Victorian rubber into a chain on a silver necklace. Not to mention that her name happens to be Nora. No wonder we are in sync.

These are pictures from our long walk after our brunch on the Highline. I just loved all the textures of the buildings and architecture in contrast with the soft grasses and trees. It was super fun to walk through Chelsea Market as well... I think that it didn't even exist five years ago when Travis and I were there last.

Overall, my mom and sister and I had a wonderful time reinventing our "Shopping Trip" started so many years ago. It was a joy to spend time together uninterrupted and rejoicing in all that God has kept us through over the past five years. Here's to more eating together, exercising together and shopping together!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Off to the city!

My favorite city in the US. My favorite people. My favorite weekend (it's my birthday on Monday).
Here I come.
Off on a plane by myself. It has been years since I've had eight whole hours to myself--not since our trip to Italy. I am looking forward to trying out some of the places that she recommends, eating here, and enjoying my family and this guy.
Here we were on our first anniversary trip. It will be five years ago come December. How time snowballs faster and faster, gathering speed and growing our love stronger and bigger.  I've missed him, even in 48 hours since he left. Especially since there was no freshly brewed coffee awaiting me this morning. He was kind enough to leave me some already ground in the coffee grinder though. What a guy.

Monday, November 14, 2011

I should call it....madness on Monday

What are you up to today, this Monday?

I am definitely in the "I am recovering and ignoring the millions of things I still need to do" mode. I am still in my Lululemon outfit. Which is really my version of pajamas. I am trying recovering from a busy weekend and trying to gear up for the next as well. I leave on Thursday for four days in D.C., also with a quick trip into New York City, my favorite city in the US. I work Tuesday, so that roughly leaves me with two days, including today (which if you didn't catch before that I am still wearing my pajamas, so I can't really say I have made much progress) to get it all done.

And if you haven't noticed yet, we have one week before Thanksgiving. Which means, Christmas is around the corner. O my goodness.

I love the holidays, but what I really enjoy is the activities-- the crafts, the baking, the visiting, the "holiday" experiences. NOT the shopping part. So I've got a gift stash working and I am working on my Christmas cards.

So I am going to try and get a few things done, without "making mountains out of molehills." If you haven't listened to Tullian's message on how to get perspective, listen here. He will help you get your madness right into perspective with a sobering reality of what really matters.

Here's one of the things I am trying to get done today-- holiday cards... I love sending them and believe that real, paper cards are an important tradition of love and care in an increasingly digital age. We already have the shot for our card and I am going to shamelessly promote my friend Megan for her glorious designs this year for her holiday collection, one of which I will be using.

Check out her slideshow of holiday cards here.
Here's our shot from last year....isn't it exciting to see how we have grown this year (some of us, I mean-- thankfully, not me and Travis)? A snapshot every year helps me to reflect on how much I have to be grateful for. So in the madness of this Monday, I am going to choose not to make my home full of molehills to trip on, and choose instead to celebrate the busy, but full, life I have.

Monday, November 07, 2011


On an aside, I grew up with a grandmother, Cobie, who inspired me to work harder than any one else. One of those ways she worked hard was to keep things clean. A friend of my dad's, who wrote this devotional, dedicated to her. After more than ten years of her passing, she is still fondly remembered by more than just her family.

Cobie-Clean by Ward Slager
For Monday, November 7, 2011

Today’s Readings:  2 Kings 20; Hebrews 2; Hosea13; Psalm 137, 138

Hebrews 2:3a  How shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation?

When I was a teen, I had a friend (well, he’s still my friend), Dennis.  Dennis’ Mom, Cobie, was a “Dutch housewife.”  If you’ve ever visited the Netherlands and driven, especially, through the small rural towns, you,ve seen the incredible order, tidiness that seems to be genetic in the Dutch, as though their 11th Commandment is “Thou shalt keep thy house clean” or Proverbs included “Cleanliness IS godliness (not just “next to” it).  When Dennis and I roomed together as Freshman in college, one of the rules of our room was to keep things “Cobie-clean.”   Frankly, it was and is a blessed way to live.  You may respond “you can have too much of a good thing” implying that such living can be unhealthy or obsessive . . . but that’s not what being Cobie-clean was and is.  We have an orderly God.  Just look at Creation.  We have been given dominion, stewardship over many blessings in His Creation.  How could we neglect, then, such great blessings?  Such striving to see that not one thing in the order of daily living is neglected, is, I think, one of the good things, the good work we have been given to do – arising from God’s intention before man’s fall.  Adam tended the Garden of Eden.

Even today, my wife, also a “Dutch housewife,” is similar to Dennis’ Mom.  They are both Proverbs 31:27 women, whose “Cobie-clean” ethic “looks well to the ways of her household” and for which, I and our children do rise up and call her “Blessed!” (31:28).

Yet, we all experience how easy it is to excuse neglect.  “I just didn’t have time to dust the shelves before our guests came.”  “The faucet’s been dripping like that for years . . . it’s just a little water, no big deal.”  “I know I should have changed the oil more often but, well, I just didn’t . . . is that so bad?”  Most often, it is so easy to overlook such neglect that it becomes invisible to us and the popular proverb, “Out of sight, out of mind,” though not intended as a compliment, is treated as though it condones our neglect and releases our consciences from guilt.

From minor signs like dog fur, shed and collected way back under the refrigerator to major signs such as homes where tension fills the air with silence that can be cut with a knife or churches where seating on a Sunday morning reflects more dislike than love, negligence in life’s details can have life-destroying consequences.  Such neglect can result in what I call “’If-only” regrets.  “’If-only I hadn’t _______ - this wouldn’t have happened.  If only I had smoked that first cigarette, I wouldn’t have _______.  If only we had sat down and talked, we wouldn’t have _______.  If only I had listened when my mother (father, pastor, etc) said _______. If only I had exercise more.  If only . . .

Such neglect is, perhaps, most glaring and, yet, most invisible to you and I in the life of our spirits.  Cobwebs collect in our minds when they are not being conformed to Christ though the spiritual disciplines – prayer, fasting, meditation on the Word, worship, etc.  Soon, so much dust has settled on our souls, our hearts are suffocating, far from Cobie-clean.

As we begin another week after what (for me and I pray for you) was a blessed weekend of worship, let’s not neglect our great Savior who has given us at the cost of His life, our great Salvation.

C. S. Lewis said that every step of our way on the path of life is either towards Heaven or towards Hell . . . we cannot neglect or escape the consequences of either direction.  Let’s “escape” toward Heaven, asking for and trusting God to recreate in us Cobie-clean hearts which gleam from the reflection of His grace and glory.  Take time each day to listen as God speaks to you in Spirit (prayer) and Truth (His word).

Creator, Spirit, by whose aid, the world’s foundations first were laid – renew a right spirit within us, removing every hindrance of apathy and neglect so that our passion flames and our delight in you displays clean hearts

Friday, November 04, 2011

Work at.. Working Out.

Exercise is hard.
Let's not lie.
Exercise is what we do because we have to do. Not because we truly love it.
I mean, I used to love it. Now, it just takes a scheduling miracle and a mocha to induce the feeling I used to have before kids. Life is busy and my kids give me a workout every day just trying to keep up after them.

But, then my dietitian voice pipes in. You know as you age, every decade after your mid 30's can mean a lean body mass (i.e. muscle) loss of ten percent....

Yup. So get back on the wagon. I am talking to myself. After an especially busy season, I have find a new resolve. We all have those months when weather and holidays or parties and children try to deter the most determined from exercise.

So here's my suggestion for working out, if you need some new inspiration (thanks to the best mother-in-law ever Janis for recently inspiring me!)

Try this new workout video
The Bar Method with Burr Lenard -- you can see my favorite move here on You Tube, called "The Pretzel".
And You Tube is a great source for new and inspiring workouts. I like using HITT training when I feel slow and old to kick me back into that feeling of being 17 and doing basketball workouts.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Halloween, repeat.

A couple days off the sugar high is still going strong.
Kate was climbing up the side of my pie cupboard towards the enormous glass jar that holds all the loot just this morning, while I turned my back for a moment during lunch service. Not to mention that Grant keeps screaming, "CHOC!!!"at every meal rubbing his chest in a concerted "please" sign while pointing at the jar.

You'd think I'd move it or something. But I need it close by, for, ahem, "decorative" purposes.
Hands down, the best part of the evening was watching Kate wiggle down the sidewalk in her mermaid costume.

She has some serious wiggle, if you know what I mean.

Another highlight was to meet and see all our neighbors in our fabulous neighborhood. Apparently, some of them said that this is what our neighborhood does best. My daughter got right into the spirit, saying, "I think we met you before!?" to every new neighbor she had never seen before. She's not the shy one; but I just love how she is so sociable. She didn't waver in her dedication, with a, "Let's go to the next house, Mommy!" until the very end of the night after she had walked all the way around our block collecting treats while we carried (I mean, lugged-- thanks Janelle) Grant around.

In those fire boots, I think he weighed 50 pounds. He is such a moose. Maybe we could do that next year.

Ps. Thanks Grandma for the yellow fabric for Grant's jacket.