Thursday, April 28, 2011


I bought a pair of shoes today. I don't plan on wearing them unless the rest of my flats wear out before the end of the year, but if you saw the heel portion of the rest of my flats, you'd understand why I bought a pair that cost a mere $5.64 as a bit of insurance. You might also laugh at my worry that I won't have appropriate footwear for our vacation, which is in...October. What? I need to look somewhat fashionable on the French Riviera*. Don't look at me that way. Now I am certain of having at least two pairs of flats to pair with my dresses, because I set aside that other pair that I bought in the last week of 2010. And if you're wondering why I need more than one pair of shoes for vacation, let me just say that we walk a lot when we are in France. And when you walk a lot, your feet sweat. And if you wear the same pair of shoes every day, it's not pretty. I know this from experience.

I am trying to feel a little bit bad about breaking my commitment, but I just can't muster it. I am hard on shoes, and I know that, and I didn't really think about it before I decided on my 2011 shoe and clothing fast. When I stopped buying things for a year before, I had a lot more quality shoes in my collection to start with. Apparently now I only buy crap shoes, so they're all going to crap.

Besides the financial aspect, another purpose of this year was to recognize my own wealth in terms of clothes and to come away with an honest look at what I really wear and use. I've discovered that I wear the same four stripey shirts much of the time, that the really cheap Forever 21 jeans that I bought are surprisingly comfortable, and that none of my leggings stay up properly (which is the curse of having a long torso). I realize that I miss having a nicely tailored pair of trouser jeans and that I really am too lazy busy to iron most of the time. In 2012, I see a return to jersey knits and a trip to The Gap, not to mention a perusal of all the nice flats that Zappos has to offer.

For now, though, I'll just tuck my new shoes into the closet and hope I don't need to wear them before the year is out.

*If I can figure out how to purchase the plane tickets, that is. Would anyone like to buy a kidney?

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


out our front window

It's a rainy, chilly day, and Zinashi is sleeping later for her nap than I'd usually like, but I can't be bothered to care. Frankly, she's probably way behind on sleep, and a day like this is the best day for her to catch up. I told her that if she does a "gobez tinyi" (good sleep), she can use her own money to get buna (coffee--but for her, really hot chocolate--don't tell her it's not coffee, though). Worked like a charm. I've had some quiet moments to update our Finding Magnolia blog, pay bills (drudgery), and eat a little something without someone clamoring for a bite. I'd say we all win in this situation.

Our old goal was to put our house on the market this month, but a lot of things have happened to make that impossible, the most noteworthy of which is the delay in processing of our adoption tax credit. We can't pay someone to do work on our house if we don't have money, so for now we are sitting tight and trusting that when the time is right, the money will be there, and we can put the house on the market, and all will work out as it was meant to. In the meantime, I am trying to get on top of my regular cleaning and do small projects along the way. The geraniums in the photo above are one of the small projects. Little by little, the house beautification will get done, and little by little I'll move on to other projects I'd like to complete, and little by little we'll make life happen.

So this is my work for now. Care of Zinashi always comes first, but after that there's work on the house, both of the usual maintenance sort and the making-it-nicer sort. There's work on our Finding Magnolia blog and work on our finances. It keeps me more than busy. Except for the part where I got paid, I don't miss having another job. I don't know how I'd get all the rest of this done if I did. I truly am in awe of all you single parents who manage to get everything done on your own. You are rock stars. Really.

And now, back to work.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Why Orthodoxy?

Today we were baptized into the Orthodox Christian Church at our little church on Troost. It felt good. I know that a lot of our Protestant Christian family/friends/acquaintances are curious as to why we would take this step, and the answer is both simple and complex. We took this step because it was right for us. Because we found the Orthodox Church, and it found us. For me, it has a lot to do with compassion and humility and gentleness, and maybe most of all, with mystery. I think I may have been looking my whole life for faith that allows for mystery, that doesn't ask me to figure out the answer to everything, that fills in the spaces of why and how with the sense that sometimes we're simply meant to accept the mysteries of God.

And then there was my growing disillusionment with the politicization of the Evangelical Christian Church, with my longing to bring some of what I was figuring out in yoga to my spiritual life as a whole. Maybe that's a strange way to put it, but there it is. I wanted something that was kind and gentle to everyone, that didn't disguise gossip as a prayer request or allow for resentment because it was "righteous indignation," both of which I was guilty of more often than not. I wanted to learn to be truly kind, to have my faith guide me in that direction. Going to my first confession last night, it came full circle for me. After confessing my own sins before God and my priest, the priest asked if I forgave everyone. My breath caught in my throat as I whispered, "Yes." After laying my own flawed soul bare, it suddenly became clear that I was no better than anyone, and forgiveness was indeed the only option. I have never experienced this kind of clarity on my own, on a level that was less than cerebral. Of course I knew that I did plenty wrong, but there was still a holding out, a sense that I was better than someone else (or, if I'm honest, a lot of someone elses). And then suddenly, I wasn't. I'm not. It opened up my heart to a new kind of gentleness.

Tonight when I was looking up some things, I came across this quote, from a write only identified as "An Orthodox Priest."

"Ours is the way of compassion and humility. Ours is the way of personal, interior transformation. Of sacrament. Ours is the way of minute particulars. If we must, we will suffer gladly for the truth, but we will not be the cause of suffering for others. Because we are called to love our enemies, we have no enemies, only neighbors."

I think that right there sums it up. I hope that this is the truth my life will speak every day.

Monday, April 11, 2011

The Little House on the Prairie Workout

When I was a kid, my very first chapter book was Little House on the Prairie, and for my entire life--teenhood, adulthood, and all--that series of books has never gotten old. I'm not sure why I still love them, but I do. I can pick up those books and enjoy reading them even now. I love me some Laura Ingalls Wilder. I suppose it's no coincidence that when things are getting busy or I really don't feel like doing the dishes, I think about how the pioneers did it. "Mary," I say to myself, "Ma Ingalls heated water on her wood stove to wash her laundry and then scrubbed them on a washboard before drying them on a clothesline where they'd freeze in the winter; you can surely fold the things you just got out of the dryer." I think along the same lines when I'm whining about figuring out what to make for dinner or procrastinating doing the dishes. And lately, I think along those same lines when I consider working out.

My workout routine has pretty much evaporated into thin air. Let's start there. In the winter, when Zinashi was napping for an hour and a half, and we were stuck indoors anyway, it was easy and mostly fun to work out to DVDs indoors. But now she's napping for a shorter time, if at all, and once she's up, I don't feel like keeping both of us inside, so I just haven't been working out. I felt guilty about it, but then I thought, "Did Laura Ingalls ever work out? Did she come home from school and hit the treadmill while Ma cleaned the kerosene lamps?" No, she did not. Such a thing would have been ridiculous. Laura Ingalls got all the exercise she needed by living her life. So I decided that I should do that, too.

Now, I'm not going to start washing all my laundry by hand every Monday, but I am going to take the opportunities my life affords me to get exercise without it being formal exercise. We've been walking when we need to go to Target, bicycling when the destination is farther. I've been trying to sit less and do more physical work around the house. So far, so good. My arms have yet to wither and develop pronounced bat wings, and I am pretty much the same size as always, if by "always" I mean since we came home from Ethiopia. It feels good to be moving in a way that is purposeful as opposed to moving for the sake of formal exercise, using time I could spend in ways that are more enjoyable to me and ultimately more productive.

That I will return to some sort of formal exercise regimen is probable. If we are still in Kansas City next winter, I will be hard pressed to figure out ways to expend energy that don't leave both Zinashi and me shivering. And I do love to run. If someday we live in a space that allows me to feel like I can just slip out the door and let my feet go, then I will surely return to it.

For now, I am enjoying the way things are. I get a lot done around the house, and am catching up on things I'd long put off. I'm a lot kinder to myself in regards to how I feel about my figure, too, and that has been the greatest benefit to come out of this. I don't know if it's a Lenten miracle or what, but suddenly I see my body for what it is: a gift. It is healthy, it is strong, it is good. I've got cellulite. I've got a smooshy bit at the base of my belly. And I'm okay with that. Maybe there will be other days of my life when it will matter, but right now, it just doesn't. I am healthy, and I am happy, and that is absolutely enough. I'm pretty sure it was enough for Laura Ingalls, too, if she thought about such things at all.

(She probably didn't.)

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

The Great Caketastrophe of 2011

So we had a little birthday party for Zinashi. Her assigned birthday is Wednesday, and we wanted to do a fun little something with family and the kids she knows well (three total). Even with limiting the number and having a few people unable to attend, there were still twenty people in our house. Which was just fine. I don't think anyone ended up in the emergency room due to a claustrophobic incident, and Zinashi didn't seem too bothered by so many people at once, though it did wear her out. It wore me out. Or the preparations did, at least. It would help if I hadn't had to make two cakes, one of which will primarily be eaten by coworkers of my husband when I force him to take it with him to work tomorrow. (Given the option, I would eat cake and only cake all day, so I am removing the cake option.)

I set out to make a rabbit cake like I'd made before, but using my delicious chocolate cake recipe which everyone loves. Such a cake would look like this:

Hoppy Easter!

But it turns out that even if you modify your delicious chocolate cake recipe to be similar in egg and flour content to the recipe that came with the rabbit cake pan, your rabbit may end up decapitated. Like this:

it was getting so cute until the head fell off

Which ultimately isn't good for photos and/or video of your small child blowing out her birthday candles. So you'll dash into Target and buy an alternate rabbit pan, then stay up past midnight making an inferior cake that looks like this:

the boring replacement cake

The day after the party, you'll be so tired that you will see small bits of chocolate cake ground into your dining room floor and go, "Oh. Huh." And you won't bother to clean it up at all.