Tuesday, February 17, 2015

#172 He is My Valentine

Weekend I’d Forget
Somewhere over the last two or three years, I decided I liked Valentine’s Day. For so long I had decided to down play it that I suppose in the end I forced myself to like it. The last time I had been out to eat on Valentine’s Day was back when Hubby and I were dating. We waited at least two hours for a table he had reserved weeks in advance.

No, wait. That sentence doesn't do that experience justice. We waited in the entryway of a little Italian restaurant in South Jersey crammed up against what felt like every other couple in South Jersey. The restaurant was open enough that we could see other couples sitting and enjoying their dinners, but the waiting area was close enough to the front door that we needed to keep our coats on or else endure cold winds every time the door was opened. We stood for so long that at some point, probably around the two hour mark; one of the employees came around and gave every woman waiting a tiny gold heart pendant wrapped in a velvet envelope as some sort of peace offering.    

After that experience, Hubby never wanted anything to do with restaurants on Valentine’s Day again. During the rest of our dating years, we would go out a few days before or after, noting that the day really held no significance. After we were married we began taking turns being responsible for dinner. One year, he ordered food, picked it up on his way home from work, and served it to me on china. Other years, we cooked for each other. You might recall last year, and the surprise trip I planned to Baltimore.

Hubby didn't fail to live up to last year’s standards. He planned an entire weekend in my favorite place: NYC. Though the temperature was somewhere in the not-at-all-human degrees, we still enjoyed ourselves in my favorite place on earth.


Originally, he wanted to get us a room at The Plaza. There is a tiny dork inside of me who desperately wants to one day stay there because of one of my favorite movies, Home Alone 2: Lost in New York.

Don’t judge.

However, the prices were enough to make you scream, so he booked two nights at the hotel directly next to The Plaza: Park Lane Hotel. Same view of Central Park, same exact block, only it was a hunk of cash cheaper.  

We really let our inner foodies shine this weekend. For all the times we have been to NYC we have never had a NYC bagel or pizza.

Take a moment to recover from the shock. It’s overwhelming, I know.

So they were, obviously, two important stops for us to make.

Then, for the first time in over ten years, we went out to eat on Valentine’s Day. I’m not sure how Hubby researches or discovers such awesome restaurants, but our Valentine’s Day meal was out of this world. We had an eight-course dinner that at first made me afraid, then in the end made me want to experience it again and again.

It would only be right to discuss our foodie ventures over at The Orange Strainer. So that is where you will find them.

When we weren't eating, we were shopping. When we weren't shopping, we were rushing to catch the Subway before we started to frost over. Despite the bitter temperature, most of NYC was wide awake and hustling to and from as if it was any other weekend. It made me feel good that we weren't the only people daring enough to take on single digit temperatures with a negative Real Feel.


The food was certainly my favorite part of the weekend, but a close second was sleeping in, sharing champagne with my Hubby, and sitting back and enjoying our view.


I can’t wait to go back in the spring.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

#171 He Loves Chocolate Mousse

There's an empty spot in my heart tonight.

Because tonight I took down my Christmas tree.

The good news is, that Christmas 2015 is just a little more than 10 months away.

So start that shopping!

Okay, I kid.

This winter has been pretty chilly. And what goes better with chilly weather than chili--the food? Every year, Hubby's work holds a chili cook-off. I forced his coworker, Drew, to enter. So he forced me to come over and cook it with him.

I guess it was a fair trade.

Drew has a TV in his kitchen.

It was the highlight of my day.


Drew wasn't impressed with my excitement.


I'd post a picture of the chili, but the pictures I took weren't so flattering. I was more concerned with getting a bowlful to test taste.

The recipe we used was Pioneer Woman's (who else's?!) Chipotle Chicken Chili. It was delicious, but didn't take first place. A traditional beef chili did, so I don't truly consider it a loss, especially since one of the judges voted us for first, and especially especially since Drew took last place last year.

Anything above that is definitely improvement in my book.

The next day some of our favorite people came over to watch the Super Bowl with us. 

Before the game, we watched the movie Gone Girl. If you haven't seen it, all I'll say is, it was crazy.


Hubby had to leave the movie half way through to start making game day snacks.


He may or may not have given me a little lip about missing the end of the movie. But then I reminded him that he was the one that chose to make rotisserie chicken wings, homemade potato skins, and queso instead of buying frozen apps.


He did an amazing job. I made sure to save his Snapchat of it all since I was almost too eager to take this picture:

The potato skins were amazing. I probably could have eaten half the platter. The wings were a little too spicy for me, but the meat was incredibly tender. Hubby is a perfectionist and hates his queso, but I loved it.

This past weekend I went shopping with Drew and while we were chatting with a salesperson I saw this:


Naturally, I needed to take a picture of it.

The next day, my sister-in-law and I made a family dinner to celebrate my Gram's 82nd birthday.

Doesn't she look good for 82? I keep crossing my fingers that it's hereditary.

Gram loves strawberry desserts, so I made her my strawberry trifle

Almost half of my family are babies when it comes to fruit in their desserts. Thank goodness I have been delivered of this. For the nose wrinklers, I made chocolate mousse.

Chocolate mousse is Hubby's favorite. So really, I made chocolate mousse for Hubby. I used Bon Appetit's Classic Chocolate Mousse recipe. I expected the mousse to be much harder to make. The only thing that surprised me was that it calls for 1/4 cup of espresso or strong coffee. I've never noticed a coffee flavor in any classic chocolate mousse that I have tasted before. It wasn't a horrible flavor, but if you aren't expecting it or if you aren't a coffee lover, you might not like it.

Chili not chilly, good friends, good food, and a birthday celebration--yeah, my last two weekends have been pretty wonderful.

Friday, February 6, 2015

#170 He Would Never


March for Life was a few weeks ago.

I really wanted to post something on that day, but the words just weren't there.

Because while my heart breaks for the children who are murdered by their mothers because they are not wanted, my heart breaks even more for the children who are murdered by their mothers because they aren't good enough.

Amniocentesis testing has for years now been giving mothers an excuse to terminate their pregnancies. This prenatal test checks for any fetal abnormalities such as cystic fibrosis, spina bifida, and Down syndrome. The possibility that their child could be born different than a 'typical' child apparently is a good enough reason for murder. I hear it again and again and again, instances where the test showed a fetal abnormality and the doctor immediately suggested an abortion. But here's the kicker: Regardless of the fact that abortion in and of itself is wrong, in many cases the child presumed to be not good enough for life because of an apparent disability in the end is born with no disability and perfect health. I know personally of two mothers who were told their child WOULD, not might, WOULD have Down syndrome and when that baby's birth date came that extra chromosome somehow disappeared.

I could go on and on about this and my strong feelings towards amniocentesis testing, towards doctor's practically forcing abortions on mothers, and towards wanting to help women who feel lost when given a Down syndrome diagnosis. But I'll save that for later.

Ordinarily, I try to keep the mood of this blog light. I try not to take any stances, or say anything that might offend.

But today I'm offended. 

Today I read an article about a woman who dared to say that she wishes every day that 47 years ago she had aborted her son with Down syndrome. (This was after I'd read the highly popular article today of the man who had to choose between his wife and his newly born child. Spoiler alert: The baby was born with Down syndrome).

If only I could meet this woman.

First, I would have to resist the urge to let out a bunch of unintelligible shrieks meant to be words. Then I would tell her the truth of the matter.

She doesn't deserve her son.

She says that her life would be so different, so much better, without her son.

But goodness, I could say that about the fact that I was born the only girl in a family with three boys.

There are so many men and woman who recognize the value of any life. There are countless numbers of men and women who would have loved and cherished her son for who he is, regardless of his diagnosis, that I can only see her statement as ignorant. 

Great. She toughed it all out, she put her life on hold for him. But as the article's author states, "Would you want to spend time with someone who wants you dead?"

In addition, such a statement mocks those who have stood up to say what a positive impact their child, brother, sister, etc with Down syndrome has had on their lives. If you follow this blog, you've heard about my brother, Jonathan. Are there things about my life that would be easier without Jonathan? Certainly. Then again, there are things in my life that would be easier if I was an only child, or if I had been born to Queen Elizabeth. Are any of them worth it? No. Flipping. Way.

I'm going to end this post with a confession. 

My heart doesn't just break for this; my heart is shattered over it.

In my perfect world, I'd be able to adopt and care for each and every baby born with Down syndrome who wasn't wanted. Abortion wouldn't need to be an option, because at the diagnosis of Down syndrome to a mother who ordinarily would immediately sign for abortion, I'd be there to sign for care of their child.

A few years ago, I dreamed up this community where children with Down syndrome could be adopted or fostered. Then I learned that a community, not exactly but in the same vein as my vision, actually exists. Pathfinder Village is a community where individuals with Down syndrome live. They "promote a healthy, progressive environment that respects the individual, supporting a life of value and independence". 

But this still isn't exactly my vision. At first, my dream was to have a place that would essentially be like an orphanage or foster village for children with Down syndrome. But it would be more than just that. It would be an outreach to women. It would be a place that educates and helps women to recognize that a prenatal testing should never be the end of the road. After visiting Pathfinder, I realized that though there is an issue regarding abortion of children with Down syndrome, there are generally no issues among mothers who choose life (the woman from this article being the exception). The issues occur in adulthood when parents are either too old to care for their child or their child needs more activity/community available to them. As Jonathan gets older, I recognize more and more that he needs more opportunities to be out and about utilizing his personality and love for people.

This may all sound a jumble, because that is my reality. My heart is burdened for those with Down syndrome because my heart has been impacted by someone with Down syndrome. I know I want to start a nonprofit benefiting those with Down syndrome, but I also know that means I need a business plan, I need money, and I need others who will be equally as committed to this cause.

So why expose my dreams if there is nothing currently being done? 

Because this article I have shared got me heated. It sparked inside of me the aggravation I feel every single time I hear that a doctor suggested aborting a child simply because a test showed they would have Down syndrome.

And though I need a plan, money, and supporters, more than anything I need prayers. I need direction. I need a focus. I need clarity.

I don’t think God would place something on my heart to have me fail, or worse, never even start