Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The origin of fieryboots

The last couple of weeks have been really busy for me and lots of stuff is swirling around in my head, but most of it I can't really talk about here yet, for various reasons. So, I figured I'd take this time to explain what the heck are "fieryboots."

Years ago, I was really into ska music. And, by "really into," I mean obsessed. Luckily, at that time, there was a big ska scene in the Boston area to feed my obsession. Sometimes, my friends and I would go to see ska bands play three nights a week. We had a lot of fun and that's how I met A.

A key part of enjoying ska is dancing. And, it's a particular style of dancing just for ska called skanking. I think a friend of a friend described it as something like crazed bowling. It involves lots of arm-swinging, shoulder-lowering, knee-bending, jumping, and head-bobbing. You could probably use it as a form of self-defense because there are so many limbs flailing around at high speed that you can cause some bodily damage. (Actually, sometimes we did use it that way to clear out people who were blocking our line of sight of the band - isn't that awful?!?) But it's so much fun and I loved doing it for hours on end.

When you're doing that kind of aerobic activity for three and four hours a night, with only a few breaks for water and adult beverages (always making sure someone saved your place right in front of the stage), you need some good, sturdy shoes on your feet. And, my friends and I generally relied on our Dr. Martens boots. My preference was for my vintage 8-eyes. I wore those boots every day, everywhere. To work, out at night, on dates, with pants, with jeans, with skirts, etc. I still have them today, and I love them immensely. I can't bear to throw them away.

But after a while, the leather wore down and they got pretty sad-looking. Plus, Dr. Martens and other companies were coming out with so many cool new colors and designs. One night, I spotted a pair of these amazing boots that were covered in flames. The flames were made of leather and were wrapped around the toes and the heels of the boots. I really, really wanted those boots - enough that I mentioned them to A the next day (he wasn't with me when I discovered them). But they were way too expensive for me in my recently out-of-college job.

A few weeks later, A and I were going on a date (we were still dating! *sniff*) to see a zydeco band, C.J. Chenier and the Red Hot Louisiana Band. When A came to pick me up, he was carrying a box. Inside were my beloved fiery boots!

This picture does not do them justice - I'll have to take one myself

Not only had he tracked down the store and the boots, but he somehow figured out my shoe size without my knowing.

I've taken really good care of my fiery boots. They don't see the light of day too much anymore, though. A and I don't get out to see bands much these days and it wouldn't be appropriate for me to wear them to work like I used to. So I let them live on in my username, which is a constant reminder to me of that fun time in my life and, of course, the thoughtfulness of the man who later became my husband.

So, that's the legend of fieryboots!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


On Sunday night, we had dinner at our friends' house. Our friends with the sweet, beautiful twins that I just can't get enough of. And, R can't get enough of them either. Although his favorite is the little girl twin, M.

I'm really amazed by how sweet and loving R is with the babies. Yes, I would love for him to be a real big brother someday, but I'm leaving that in God's hands. For now, it's so nice to have our friends' babies to snuggle with and sing to and be silly for. The little boy twin, D, is the fussier of the babies, and it's fun for A and I to take turns trying to make him smile and to soothe him. A was very proud that he got little D to fall asleep on his shoulder.

Wow, I could just eat them up. They're so sweet it makes me weepy!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Town Day

What a great day! We woke up late, had a leisurely breakfast, then headed out to Town Day. It was an absolutely beautiful fall day - bright, sunny, and cool with the bluest blue skies. We wandered through some of the booths, but once we ran into R's friends from school, we all ended up just hanging out together while the boys ran around, climbed on walls and rocks, found big sticks, and played with their balloons.

A, R, and Bobby the horse

R did stand in line for half an hour to ride a horse, which was really cute. He and the other boys also spent a lot of time exploring the fire engines and they took two tours of the fire safety house, which simulates a room filled with smoke. The fun part for the boys was that they got to climb out through the window.

I love this pathway behind our library

Later, we found more friends camped out listening to a Celtic fiddle band behind the library, and R and his friend Z set off to explore the fountain and reflection pool.

My friend said we should call this picture, "Boys Who Don't Listen"

We had good food - pizza, chicken tikka masala for me (although R ate most of it), and Brazilian BBQ for A. We almost bought a pet hermit crab from one booth, we picked up raffle tickets for a Red Sox-Yankees game from our neighborhood elementary school's booth, and we managed to avoid the booth with sand art, which R enjoys doing but shakes up immediately after finishing it. And, as everything was shutting down (we missed the fried dough - *sniff*), R spotted an ice cream truck and snagged a Spiderman ice cream with gumball eyes. Then we sat in a shady spot while he ate his ice cream and encased himself in a layer of red sticky goo.

R and I had the night to ourselves, and we had fun reading stories, playing board games, and making a space ship out of a giant cardboard box. It was a nice, relaxing end to a super fun day.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Town Night

Tonight, we headed out to our town's annual Town Night celebration. There's food, pony rides, a bouncy house, music, kiddie train rides, fireworks (the best part), and this weird town tradition where all the middle school kids have a giant shaving cream fight. Usually, we just go to the fireworks and watch them from a nearby field, away from the main festivities. But tonight we checked out the scene, which was fun because we ran into lots of R's friends from school. And, we saw the results of the shaving cream fight: those kids were covered from head to toe! Blech!

It was a beautiful, cool fall night. We headed back to the other side of the pond and found a perfect fireworks-watching spot right on the water, complete with stone steps for sitting on. We huddled together and oohed and aahhed. I had fun playing with the fireworks feature on my new camera (Bob: It's a Nikon Coolpix S210).

This one looks like a sea anemone to me.

I love the squiggle effects.

That big flash is from the lower fireworks going off right above the boat. I like the reflection in the water.

When we got home, we took some time to let R unwind a little bit. We played with some paper airplanes and then A and R had a tickle fight. Hmmm, so much for unwinding.

Looks like A is winning...

But R, with his limitless energy and flying feet, wins in the end!

Tomorrow is Town Day, where the big main street running through town shuts down and fills up with booths and bands and food and gazillions of people. The library holds a book sale, there are hot air balloon rides and pony rides, there are fire trucks to climb on and explore, and the older kids run around throwing snappers and spraying silly string. I'm very excited that this year it will be fall-like instead of the 90+ degrees it's been the last few years. Can't wait to take more pictures tomorrow!

Thursday, September 18, 2008


Tuesday was my birthday and a particularly bad and stressful day at work. But the kindness of friends and family made it all better. A and R gave me a new digital camera (woohoo!!!) and took me out to dinner.

My friend and co-worker surprised me with this gorgeous bouquet. Purple and yellow is my favorite color combination.

My sister-in-law sent me this sweet butterfly bag full of tea and cookies.

And, on the way out to dinner, A spotted a rainbow in the sky. Except that it hadn't actually rained, so it was a sunbow! It was really amazing. R was thrilled because it was the first real rainbow he'd ever seen. On the way home from dinner, there was a HUGE orange full moon. How nice of God to send those big reminders of how much He loves me. ('Cause of course it was just for me, you know...) ;-)

I've been enjoying my new camera a whole lot. I can't wait to use it this weekend because it's our town's Town Day and Town Night, complete with fireworks.

In the meantime, here's an example of the high-quality shots I've been getting around the house. :-)

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Looking on the bright side

I went for a second visit to the church I went to last week, and I enjoyed it again - the music was good and God really spoke to my heart during the sermon. People weren't as friendly this week, but it was a rainy, humid, yucky day, so that may be part of it. Or, maybe they needed God to lift them up today. I certainly have those days!

When I got home, we decided to go the Museum of Science for a couple of hours before my birthday tea. (Thanks for the birthday wishes, by the way!!!) We knew that we needed to get R somewhere where he could run around and burn some energy before teatime. And, he did. There's this great exhibit at the museum where kids can run the entire length of the room and try to beat the flashing lights, and R ran it over and over again. He climbed tons of stairs and ran from exhibit to exhibit. Oh! And, we just happened to be there on the day they had a special NASA exhibit about the Mars rover and the upcoming Orion/Ares lunar missions - woohoo!

But when we stopped home to change for tea, R melted down. He was tired and hungry, but he was also just a big pain in the butt. He didn't want to go and, as he got crankier and crankier, A and I realized it would be a huge mistake to try to go. So A called to cancel our reservations and I went to lay down in my room to be alone. I have to admit - I was really sad and disappointed. Eventually, though, R apologized with angelic sincerity and A told me that he was going to have to pay for the tea anyway(!), so we decided to go. (I decided not to bring the camera - I didn't want to document the potential disaster, especially with all of us in a crabby mood.)

It ended up being fun. R was SO WELL BEHAVED. He even initiated polite conversation, asking me how my scones were, if I liked my tea, etc. He kept saying what a nice time he was having and he kept apologizing for his earlier beastliness. He was wonderful, the sweet boy.

The tea itself was, well ... interesting. We were the only ones having tea and the only people in the inn's dining room. They sat us right next to the wait station - and I soon realized why: our waitress was about to collapse from heart failure or something. She was an older woman and super nice, but she was already limping, and she almost fell over from carrying the three-tier tea stand and trying to hoist it up and place it on our table. Then, the poor woman was out of breath while explaining what all the sandwiches and pastries were.

When we arrived, she explained that she was about to get R's cocoa all ready - "I have the packets right here!" The packets were Swiss Miss cocoa. Um, if a fancy inn is going to use packets of commercial cocoa (and charge a fancy price for it), at least hide the packets and let us assume that it's homemade when it comes to the table in a china pot!

There were a lot of other things like this that made A and I chuckle, but I don't want to focus on that stuff. Overall, everything was very nice - the food was delicious, the tea was hot and soothing, and the imperfections actually put my slightly grumpy and not-at-all fancy family more at ease. We came home stuffed to the gills and didn't need dinner.

And, the best blessing of all, R went down tonight without a peep! No crying, no stalling, no begging me to stay with him. And, even with all the sugar he consumed at tea (hot cocoa, two BOWLS, YES BOWLS of whipped cream, peanut butter & jelly sandwich fingers, and a brownie ice cream sundae!), he fell asleep on time. You can be sure I'll be thanking God for that tonight in my prayers!

Friday, September 12, 2008

More new things

R had an exciting week. On Tuesday, he started swimming lessons at our local Boys & Girls Club. He LOVED it! It's just him and one other boy in the class, and A said that R pretty much jumped into the water from the get go. Our vacation in FL gave him a whole week of time in the pool, and he was frighteningly fearless (can I say that?) of the water then - even diving in the deep end without the arm floaties on. So, we figured he was ready for swimming lessons. I'm so glad he had such a good time. He talked about it non-stop for days.

R in pool in Florida (thanks, Shaun!)

Yesterday, I took R to his first music class, which is really piano lessons and voice lessons combined. It's a group lesson (10 kids total), but everyone sits at their own keyboard. He was a little tired when I brought him, so he spent part of the time laying on the piano bench and sucking his thumb, but afterwards he kept talking about how much he liked it. It's really cool how they do it - there is time at the keyboard, but then the teacher breaks that up with time up at the big piano at the front (for singing) and sitting down in a circle to learn about reading music (they learned what a line note is yesterday), so they keep the kids engaged and don't force them to sit still at the keyboard for 45 minutes. Plus, the parents are involved, which I enjoyed a lot. Every parent sits next to their child at the keyboard and joins in on the activities. There are a lot of hand movements and singing and silliness.

The absolute best part, though, was that the kids get their own music school messenger bag full of books and workbooks, the CDs and DVDs of the songs from class to practice with at home, and a "laptop," which is a magnetic board of a mini keyboard and the musical staffs, complete with magnetic notes, sharps, and flats.

R has not stopped playing with it since he opened it. He is very proud of it, and he looked so grown up carrying his little messenger bag over his shoulder. *Sniff.*

The only weird thing about the classes is due to the school being part of a major Japanese music company. I didn't notice anything during the class, but when we watched part of the DVD last night, the actual lyrics to some of the songs are downright strange. If you've ever seen the episode of The Simpsons where Homer discovers that he's the logo for some Japanese cleaning product ("I am disrespectful to dirt!!!"), you know what I mean. (Here's a link if you haven't seen it.) Even R noticed the weirdness. After a few minutes, he said, "What IS this?!?!" But, overall, thumbs up on the music class.

This weekend, my boys are taking me out to high tea for my birthday. I love "taking tea," and I usually do it with a girlfriend or my mom. But R keeps getting excited about having a tea party with me, so I thought we'd try it out. I mean, what's not to like? Mini sandwiches and pastries, chocolate, and hot tea in a lovely inn in a very historic MA town. And, it's supposed to be rainy and chilly this weekend. A asked me if there are ever any men at these things, and honestly, there are usually one or two. I didn't mention, however, that those men are usually over the age of 70. :-) They have a kids' tea for R, complete with hot cocoa or tea, a peanut butter and banana finger sandwich, a chocolate chip scone, and a mini brownie sundae. If we can keep R in his seat, it'll be fun. I'll try to take pictures.

Today, I worked from home because my allergies have kicked into super gear and are wearing me out. I feel like I've been run over by a truck even after a very good night's sleep. I also feel jittery and dried out as if I've taken my beloved Claritin, but I haven't taken any, which makes me nervous to actually take one. But, usually my allergies are year-round and they've gone easy on me this summer, so I can't complain.

What's up for the weekend, everyone?

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Quote of the day

[Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ESA/Harvard-Smithsonian CfA]

R: Mommy, how long is space?

Me: [Some flubbed answer in which I used the word infinite]

R: I wonder where it stops. I bet the astronauts know.

Monday, September 8, 2008

This week's menu plan

I should really post these on Saturday because that's when we create the list, and Saturday ends up being the first day of the plan. Maybe next week!

My mom's pork chops, rice, and mushroom gravy recipe with steamed broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots (R had peas and corn)

Sunday: From the grill - hamburgers and hot dogs, corn on the cob [Ended up being hot dogs and corn on the cob from the stove - we were exhausted after the antiques fair]

Rosemary and garlic linguine tossed with olive oil and freshly grated parmesan, sauteed spinach with garlic and mushrooms

Spaghetti and meatballs with garlic bread (can you tell we're big on garlic in our house? you can probably smell our breath from where you are, but I swear it helps keep mosquitoes away - and, of course, vampires)

Wednesday (Mommy-R night):
Chicken tenders, Annie's mac-n-cheese, pear or nectarine slices

Out or take-out

Teachermom's Chicken Enchiladas

I also need to figure out when to have the asparagus we bought on Saturday. Any suggestions?

Sunday, September 7, 2008

New things

Today, I went to a new church. Well, new to me anyway. I've been eyeing it for awhile now and finally got up the nerve to attend services this morning. (I hate going to church by myself, so I've definitely been putting it off because A doesn't go with me.) I liked it quite a bit and will go back next week, maybe with R. But I don't want to get too excited about it yet in case it's not the right fit for me in the long run.

When I got home, we decided to head out to western MA to go to the Brimfield Antiques Fair. We took R a couple of years ago, and he really enjoyed himself, so he was up for going back. It was a beautiful day here after a night of crazy rain and wind, leftover from Hurricane Hanna. So it was really nice to be outside and walk around all afternoon.

R found a booth with old toys almost immediately. He bought three little cars and was pretty much content for the rest of the day. As much as an energetic four-year-old boy can be content walking around looking at antiques. LOL.

A was looking for antique chocolate molds. The last time we went to the fair, he found an entire booth that specialized in them. We couldn't find that booth this time, and it's possible they had already packed up and gone home because it was the last day of the fair (it started on Tuesday) and a lot of the vendors were already gone when we got there.

So, A did a lot of browsing but finally found an Apollo 11 keychain for $2. He was happy.

Usually, when I go antiques shopping, I find lots of things that I like, but nothing that makes my heart jump. Nothing that I simply must have. So I usually find a piece of kitchenware at the last minute and head home. But not today!

In a beautiful "booth" that was dedicated to garden statuary, I found my must-have item: an angel statue. The booth itself was all outdoors and decorated so beautifully. It was like a little paradise in the middle of the fair. Lots of fountains and beautiful, lush plants and statues of all kinds of birds, squirrels, turtles, rabbits, fairies, angels, etc., and a lot of architectural pieces, too.

I walked away from the booth and kept thinking about the little angel. So, before we grabbed lunch, I went back and bought it. We picked it up later on our way home since it weighs probably 40 pounds, and our car wasn't too close to the booth. A strapped her into the back seat and we headed home.

I placed her in my little garden in the backyard, although I'll probably move her next spring so that I can see her through the window over my desk - and to get her away from the horrible chain link fence that separates our back and front yards for now.

Then, R covered me in cars. And made me wear his goggles. I give you - Mommy Parking Lot.

Note to my family: To clarify something from my previous post, no one reading my blog is the family member for whom God has asked me to pray. Of course, I pray for all of you anyway, but none of you is the secret person. Apparently, I caused some kind of flurry of concern and mystery. Sorry about that.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

I've been rebuked!

Okay, I know that I'm a little odd, but I'm actually excited about this: God rebuked me this morning! On the subway, I was reading Having a Mary Spirit and found the following in a list of ways to experience the Holy Spirit's leading:

"Beware the Spirit's withdrawal. Our disobedience grieves and hinders the Holy Spirit's work. If He is insistent that you obey in some area, do it--or you'll feel a lack of the Spirit's presence."

Oh boy, was that like getting hit between the eyes with a two-by-four. I've felt that lack of the Spirit's presence recently and I know exactly why.

Two times this year, God has laid on my heart to do three things: (1) Give up after-dinner snacks, (2) Go upstairs to bed earlier at night, and (2) Pray for someone specific in my family (who shall remain nameless here). The first time God spoke to me about these was at the beginning of Lent, and I followed through. The second time was more recent and was kicked off for me by Trish's Forty Days of Faith project. The second time, I wasn't as faithful to following God's directions. I did great at first, but then I fizzled out when events in my life and in my loved ones' lives started to get stressful.

In the last few weeks, I've been floundering and questioning and asking God to bring me closer to Him and to let me hear His voice and, although my desire is sincere, I see now why my concentration and efforts have been half-hearted.

I don't know why God asked me to do these very specific things. Well, that's not entirely true. Some of it is easy to figure out. The after-dinner snacks aren't good for me health-wise, and I know that I use food as a crutch and comfort when I'm stressed out, angry, depressed, etc. Going upstairs to bed earlier gives me time for prayer and devotions, plus helps me get a good night's sleep, which makes me happier and better equipped to be a good and patient mother, wife, co-worker, etc. Praying for this one person in my life is less clear because I don't know exactly what I'm supposed to pray for, but the act of doing it has done wonders for my relationship with this person.

And, when I was following God's directions for me, I felt REALLY GOOD. Physically, mentally, spiritually. I was hearing God's voice and seeing prayers answered in wonderful and unusual ways, and I felt very close to Him. I was really trusting Him.

Ever since I messed up and stopped following his directions closely, I've been moody, felt uncomfortable physically in my own body, had less patience, and entered the lovely cycle of eating to make myself feel better, which then makes me feel bloated and gross, which then makes me feel guilty for doing it in the first place. And, I feel distant from God, like I'm just grasping at little wisps of of Him here and there.

Reading that excerpt of the book this morning made me realize that God didn't just ask me to follow those directions for Lent, he meant always. And, here I've been rationalizing to myself: I'm a generally healthy person, I'm not overweight, I don't need to be so strict about this diet stuff. I'll just stay up to watch one more episode of fill-in-the-blank silly sitcom because I need to veg out and relax. I'll pray for him/her tomorrow morning.

I know that God knows best. He knows the reason why I should stop my unhealthy habits, even if relative to other people's addictions, they don't seem that bad. Maybe he's keeping me from a heart attack down the road or getting my body and spirit ready for a trial of some kind. I just can't know.

But any time I get a message from God like I did this morning, I get excited. I love those moments when my eyes bug out in my head and my mouth drops open from surprise at how God can speak so directly to me. Because it means He still loves me. A lot. He hasn't given up on me, even when I'm not really paying attention to Him.

And, just in case I missed it, He threw me another aha! moment. Over the last week or so, I've been singing in my head Psalm 51:10: "Create in me a clean heart, O God; And renew a right spirit within me." Well, here are the last three sentences of the chapter I read this morning on the subway:

"For God's Holy Spirit can create in you a clean heart and a right spirit. Restoring to you such joy in your salvation, such compassion in your heart, that you won't feel the need to call down fire from heaven.

For heaven's fiery love will fill your soul."
I put the book down at that point just to let it all sink in, to thank God for reaching out to me, and to tell Him that I heard Him loud and clear. God is the best! :-)

And, thank you and blessings to Joanna Weaver for her amazing books (cool - I just found her blog!) and to my mom for lending this particular one to me.

This week's menu plan

Since I mentioned it earlier, I figured I'd post our menu plan for this week, which we are again sticking to so far - woohoo! Apparently, this is Chock-full-of-Chicken Week.

Saturday: Spaghetti, meatballs, and garlic bread

Sunday: Grilled pork tenderloin, veggies and dip, corn on the cob

Monday: Grilled chicken wings, veggies and dip, spicy noodles

Tuesday: Chicken in marsala cream sauce, sauteed spinach with mushrooms and garlic, rosemary and garlic linguine

Wednesday: Chicken nuggets, Annie's macaroni and cheese, fresh pear and peach slices (Can you tell this is my night alone with R? A usually does all the cooking, what with his culinary school background and all)

Thursday: Dinner out or take-out

Friday: Steak, steamed broccoli and cauliflower, starch TBD

Monday, September 1, 2008

Labor Day 2008

This has been the best weekend. The weather has been amazing and we had the quintessential holiday: fun with friends, time outside, delicious food from the grill, and time to relax. Oh, and rockets. :-)

On Saturday, we ran a gazillion errands and stupidly forgot that it's the weekend that the college students converge back on Boston, which means AVOID GOING TO TARGET AT ALL COSTS. We forgot and, worse yet, we went to the Target closest to Boston proper, so it was a madhouse. But, on the bright side, the toy section was a ghost town. I guess Hot Wheels aren't high on the shopping list for students decorating their apartments.

The day was supposed to be rainy, and R was excited to make popcorn and watch a movie at home. So we did that even though it was nice outside.

On Sunday, we woke up late (woohoo!), had a delicious breakfast of fresh strawberries, pancakes, and sausages, cleaned up the yard, filled the pool, and then took a walk down by the river. In the afternoon, R and I cooled off in the pool and then our friends came over with their wee twins for dinner (grilled pork tenderloin, corn on the cob, and veggies and dip). We had s'mores for dessert - yay! The babies are so sweet, and we had fun taking turns cuddling them. R was very excited to see them again and brought out his toddler bicycle to give to them. He was very upset this morning to see that it was still in our house, but I explained that the babies will take it when they are old enough to use it.

Today, we slept even later (until 9:30!). R and I made a batch of chocolate chip muffins together (although I made them with whole wheat flour, so no one wants them now except me - part of my evil plan to keep all the chocolate in the house to myself - mwah ha ha!). We made a quick trip to CVS, during which A purchased several unnecessary end-of-summer items simply because they were 75% off, came home and packed up our stuff to go launch rockets with our friends.

The rocket launch was great! A designed a logo for our rocket "club" and we had t-shirts made. Dorky yes, but it was fun to wear 'em. Our friend even had a banner made up and staked it into the ground at the field, so we look all official now. That same friend brought a huge canopy today, which was wonderful because there is no shade at the field, there were no clouds in the sky, and we were there for 3+ hours. I slathered R and I in sunblock, but I still burned my face a bit. We had lots of snacks (chips, watermelon, grapes) and water. And, we had our biggest turnout yet: 18 people, including the three of us! And, that was with three families missing. It was a bit breezy, so we lost a few rockets in the woods and the nearby corn fields, but the fun is really watching the kids race across the field to recover the parts after launch, hanging out and chatting with friends, and being outside all day.

Then we headed home for chicken wings from the grill, more veggies and dip, and more s'mores. R and I played Trouble outside on the patio while A cooked.

R and I playing Trouble in our rocket tees

I have this same shot from Labor Day two years ago

A and me - R took this all by himself!

I sat there in the warm breeze in my lovely backyard and watched my two boys and the birds visiting my birdbath and silently thanked God for all of it.

I hope your weekend was just as blessed and fun and relaxing as mine!