Thursday, June 2, 2011

Birthday cakes made easy

I love the fancy birthday cakes. And there are some truly talented and artistic people out there who can make the cutest cakes. But that just isn't a talent of mine. I hate even frosting a cake. Every year, I'd try to make my kids a special birthday cake and just get frustrated with the simplest designs. This year I stumbled across something that changed all of that. Edible icing images.

Rachel with her Dora cake

Owen had requested a John Deere cake for his birthday. I was looking for cake decorations that I could place on top, maybe even cute cupcake decorators, so I searched on ebay for "John Deere cake decorations". Up popped some edible icing images. These are pictures printed on special sheets of thin icing with edible ink. They were really cute and you could personalize them. How fun! But would they be easy to put on? I googled it and found that you just have to frost the cake and use a lot of white frosting (the secret to easily frosting a cake is to use lots of frosting so the cake doesn't peel up and to do it when the kids are in bed or outside). Then you peel the image from the wax paper and gently place it on the cake and lightly press down. The image absorbs into the frosting and becomes the top layer of cake.

Owen's John Deere cake

I was so excited! There were so many pictures to choose from. Rachel wanted Dora and Owen wanted John Deere. No, a drum set. No, John Deere. I waited until he knew for sure what he wanted and then ordered them. I found out they really should be ordered more than 2 weeks ahead of time because that was cutting it close - they actually arrived the morning of the party and I had already purchased some other edible icing images from a local place that I didn't like as well and they weren't personalized so I scraped those off and put the other ones on. Lesson learned- order about a month ahead of time just so you don't have to worry.

Tori's Taylor Swift cake

Tori picked Taylor Swift (kind of strange cutting a cake and hearing - "I want her hair!") and Brendan picked the Detroit Lions. They looked delightful and were fabulously easy and inexpensive. My children thought they were the best cakes ever. And I have to agree. Whoever came up with this idea is a genius.

Brendan's Detroit Lions cake

13.1 miles, anyone? part 2

After getting back into running and then not running for a few months, I "overheard" a facebook conversation between a couple of friends talking about getting together to run. It was during the kids choir practice time at our church. One of my kids was going to that choir practice and I had planned on taking her there and was hoping to be able to leave the others at home with Josh and maybe read or visit with some other parents. My first thought, when seeing their conversation, was "No way would I be able to ever keep up with them." I started thinking more about it and decided to ask if I could meet with them and figured if I couldn't go that fast, I could go at my own speed and at least I'd be running again. I added a comment to their message and they immediately encouraged me to come with them.

It was tough. I couldn't talk the entire time. We were running for 5 minutes and then walking for one. After 3 intervals, I had to walk an extra 5 minutes. I ran another interval with them and then decided to head back. Another friend said she was done, too, and ran back with me, encouraging me to keep up my pace and finish strong. I was exhausted and completely out of breath but was motivated - I wanted to get better and be able to keep up with them. I envied their conversations and the ease with which they ran. They said they'd run every week when the kids had choir practice and I decided I'd be with them.

I also decided I'd start running during the week. Suddenly, it was important to me now. I had a goal - to keep up with those girls - and I was motivated. I got up early sometimes, I ran at 8:30 at night if I had to, I ran during nap time. My regular speed on the treadmill was 5 mph, or a 12 min. mile pace. My goal was to get to 6 mph, or a 10 min. mile pace. I started setting it at 5.2 or 5.3 and by January, I was running at 6. Then I started going farther. I'd finish 5 miles and still feel great. I had never gone more than 3 miles on the treadmill before. The next week I did 6. The next, 7. I felt unstoppable. Powerful.

A friend asked me about running a half marathon. That seemed a bit excessive. 13.1 miles? All at once? I was excited about running 5ks this summer now that I was in shape but I didn't know about that long of a distance. I started to wonder if I could do it and felt a little excited by the possibility. That's when I realized I really did want to run a half-marathon. I wanted to be able to say that I trained for something and completed it. So towards the end of February, I made the commitment to run a half marathon. I had run 8 miles at this point.

My friend was planning to run a half in Kalamazoo and wondered if I'd like to train with her. Yes, I did, but this race was the same weekend as our annual garage sale. I knew I didn't want to train on my own so I decided to try to fit the race in that weekend. We started planning our training program and coordinating our calendars to make sure we could find times to run together. We even paid for a babysitter to watch our kids one afternoon so we could run 12 miles! That is something I scoffed at a couple years ago and even said out loud, "I can't imagine ever paying someone so I could go run!" And now, here I was, paying someone so I could go run. And totally loving it.

I looked at the sign-up page for the race in Kalamazoo and decided to see what other races there were. I saw one close to where my parents live and it was a couple weeks before the Kalamazoo one. We had started training early enough that we were actually ahead of schedule so I'd technically be ready. It was during Easter weekend so we could stay at my parents and Josh could run that race or a difference distance if he wanted to participate and my parents could watch the kids. It'd be nice to get it over with before the garage sale weekend. There were too many positives to not run this particular half. So I signed up.

This seems ridiculous but it appears there will be a part 3!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

what if?

I know, this isn't part 2 about running. I'll get back to that, I promise. But I've had a thought rattling around in my head the past few days and wanted to get it out and write about it.

A few weeks ago, our church had the Life Action team come and do a week of revival services. The pastor was talking about the Word of God and how we should obey it completely and not think that it's not important. He also talked about obedience being better than sacrifice. So when God tells us to love each other, that's what He expects. He doesn't want excuses or a lame attempt.

I've been working on developing a loving spirit towards others. And I've discovered that there are some people I really like to not like. They irritate me and I enjoy going on rants about how much they irritate me. I have been trying to take captive those thoughts and turn them into prayer requests - both for that person and myself.

A verse has been popping into my head often lately - Ephesians 4:29. Actually, I had to google the verse to find the reference. The verse says, "Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen." What would happen if I took this verse literally? How would my speech change? My interaction with others? What would I do when I get annoyed or frustrated with others? Pray about it? Hmm. Maybe, just maybe, I would find myself getting frustrated less and loving more.

You know what I really like about this verse? The "why" is included. It's so complete. It's straight forward and there are no exceptions. It says, "don't do that, do this instead, and here's why." It's for my own good and for the good of others. It won't be easy but it will be worth it. So, this is my personal challenge. To start a habit of not letting any unwholesome talk come out of my mouth.