Chinese food, ham and other life lessons

Sunday morning the kids and I got dressed up in our Easter outfits and headed out to church. We said good-bye to my husband who was going the opposite direction: Asia. I think it’s safe to say that is the opposite direction of anywhere we might have been going.

I guess there’s something about the expectation of what a holiday SHOULD be that makes it so much worse when it’s just a boring, lonely day at home. Or a boring, lonely day on a plane.

The kids and I enjoyed an awesome church service, but then had to face the sad reality of heading home by ourselves. I had been fighting a sore throat and runny nose on Saturday and never even made it to the store to stock up on diapers and milk. So, cooking lunch was out of the question.

With a tired baby ready for a nap, we decided to hit the drive-thru at Culver’s. At least we could get custard for dessert, right? But Culver’s being the intelligent, God-fearing restaurant that it is, made the smart decision to close on Easter.

The kids started begging for none other than Panda Express. I was too tired and my nose was too runny to argue. And there was just something so ironic about CapableDad on a plane to China and us eating Panda Express for Easter dinner. I had to go along with the plan.

I think it’s safe to say that Panda Express is now on my list of the last possible foods that I ever want for Easter dinner. That was my first lesson learned.

The second is that when you are spending a quiet holiday at home eating drive-thru Chinese food, you shouldn’t check Facebook. All the posts about ham and mashed potatoes and stuffed tummies were making me hungrier by the minute.

So, this morning, I started thinking about the ham my husband had put in the freezer a few months ago. He makes the most amazing ham in our convection cooker outdoors. It is moist with a smoky flavor that is perfect. I remembered a friend at church had told me she had put her Easter ham in the crock pot. Really? I didn’t know you could do that!

I defrosted the 10-pound pig this morning, hoping I would be able to stuff its sad, sorry flesh in my crock pot for a mystery dinner of who-knows-what kind of pork. Loving self-torture, I didn’t try the crock pot on for size before defrosting. Instead I spent the next 20 minutes sawing the flesh of the half-frozen pig, trying to stuff it in the crock pot. There is nothing I dislike more than cutting up meat, especially raw meat. Especially half-frozen raw meat that causes me to cut my fingers repeatedly.

It’s in there, with absolutely no room to spare, which I’m fairly certain is the first rule of what NOT to do when using a crock pot. I remember reading something-something about leaving space in the crock pot for air to circulate or blah, blah, blah.

I’m sure my 8-year-old will be correct in his prediction: “You’re going to have to cook that thing for DAYS if you ever want it to get done.” (If I’m lucky.) I think that was when he ran off and cried, mumbling something about how much better the ham would be if Daddy was home to cook it.

I hate it that we experienced such an amazing weekend of Easter services, and yet I’m focusing on the mauled ham in the crock pot. I’ve been wanting to write a blog post about what I’ve learned the past few days. And hopefully, I’ll be able to do that soon. But until then, I will leave you with these important life lessons:

1. Panda Express is not a good choice for a holiday dinner.
2. Measure the meat before putting it in the crock pot.
3. Don’t check Facebook on a holiday when you are hungry.



  1. I'm so sorry, Emily! If it's any consolation, you make me feel less alone in my struggles. Thank you for that. Happy belated Easter, friend.

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