I have this wonderful pair of black boots. They’re big and mean. They’re comfortable and tough. They’re Doc Martens. And I love them.

A few weeks ago, the weather turned cool and it was time to retrieve my boots from the wardrobe where they’d been hiding all summer. I smiled. I was looking forward to pulling on my shiny Doc Martens, sniffing that beautiful leather smell, wriggling my toes…

I grabbed a boot and thrust in my foot. I took hold of the zipper and yanked it up, but… the zipper got stuck before it reached the top.

“Either this boot has shrunk or my leg has got fat.” I was alarmed. “This boot is much tighter than it was the last time I wore it.”

“It’s all those muscles in your legs, Mum,” consoled Callum. “You’ve done so much exercise since last winter. You've got runners’ legs.”

I thought about it. Muscles?  Runners’ legs?  Doesn’t that sound much nicer than fat legs?

“But what am I going to do? My favourite boots are far too tight,” I wailed.

“Tell your leg to breathe in.” I pulled a face at this silly idea.

“They might stretch just by wearing them,” suggested Andy.

“I know!” cried Callum. “You should soak the leather in water and then wear the boots. That will really stretch them.”

“I’m not wearing cold wet boots in the middle of winter!” I protested.

“Do you remember when we were younger and everyone used to put on their jeans and then sit in a really hot bath?” asked Andy.

“That was to shrink them, not stretch them. I don’t think wearing my boots in the bath will help at all.”

“What about stuffing something inside the boots?”

“Does the shoe repairer have some kind of machine for stretching leather?”

Everyone had a suggestion.

As I wanted to wear the boots straight away, I decided to wear them with the zippers at their not-quite-at-the-top position. It didn’t really matter. No one would notice. I was wearing a long skirt.

A few days later, the solution to my boot problem suddenly shot into my head. It was a real light bulb moment. The answer was obvious… so obvious that I suddenly felt very foolish.

I looked at my boots. They have zippers up the sides. I use them to get my boots off and on. But…

I didn’t need to soak my boots in water, or stuff something inside them. I didn’t have to take them to a repairer with a stretching machine or tell my legs to breathe in. I didn’t have to wear them with the zippers at a low tide position. I didn’t even have to give up running. All I had to do was loosen the laces... the laces that run down the fronts of the boots.

Why didn't I think of that sooner? I am sitting here still feeling very silly.

"Hey! I solved my too-tight-boots problem," I announce to my family. 

"You did?"

"I just loosened the laces!"

"Why didn't we think of that?"

Yes. Why didn't they?

A friend asks me, "How's the homeschooling going?"

"Oh great! I'm not stuffing my children's heads full of facts. I'm teaching them how to think!"

I don't tell her my fat legged mother story. I don't think I'll tell anyone. I wouldn't want everyone to think that I can't think. It's the kind of story best kept to oneself... don't you think?


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  1. Maybe, Einstein had problems with laces, too;-) Actually, looking at those big, mean boots, I'm not surprised you got confused! Did they come with a manual?

    By the way, what do you do if your muscles keep growing? Would that be a good excuse not to exercise? It sounds like a reasonable excuse for watching TV and eating chocolate, I think...

    1. Vicky,

      When I first saw the boots I was a bit dismayed by the laces and the number of lace holes. I could just imagine it taking me half an hour to lace and unlace them every time I wanted to put them on or remove them. It was a relief to find out they had quick release zippers as well as laces. They simplify everything... as long as your legs don't get fat!

      What if my muscles keep growing? I'll just have to put up with them. I'm afraid I have become addicted to running! I still like eating chocolate though. Did you know there are 20 calories in a small block of Lindt chocolate? Today I used up 333 calories during my run, so this means I can now enjoy almost 17 pieces of chocolate this evening! Or perhaps I should use some of those calories sipping a nice glass of red wine...Yes, running is good!!

  2. You'll be proud of me, Sue - I've just been exercising! My fingers have been running up and down the piano - they're aching, now, and I'm exhausted! How many pieces of chocolate do you think that earnt me?:-D

    1. Vicky,

      I am impressed! But I've remembered something. Aren't you on a sugar free diet and doesn't chocolate contain sugar? Perhaps you better reward yourself with a nice healthy piece of fruit!

  3. What a great story. Sometimes we focus on the problem so much that we fail to see the solution.

    Sitting back a little and thinking over a piece of chocolate, or chocolate cake, works wonders for me. It doesn't solve my problem but it's an excuse to have chcolate.

    So far today I've thought deeply over seven different problems.

    God bless.

    1. Victor,

      I like your way of thinking! I am sure chocolate makes all the difference. At least if the problem isn't solved, something is still achieved: a nice satisfied feeling from all that delicious chocolate! I must think up some more problems to solve...

      God bless.

  4. Hi Sue, sometimes the most obvious answers are right in front of our noses!! We all do that~ look over the obvious solution and then think to ourselves "why didn't I think of that sooner?" What's the story behind sitting in a hot bath with your jeans on to shrink them? Was that a fashion trend across the pond?

    On a different note, critical thinking skills is something that is not taught much in the public schools, in my opinion. I'm picking up books today from our local library for my son to work on this area. The schools seem to do so much of rote memorization to prepare the kids for state standardize testing. This past year my son has been in a Catholic school and I don't get the same sense of that but to be on the safe side, I want to work on it with him at home this summer.

    1. Noreen,

      You must be younger than us not to know about jeans and hot water! Or maybe it was a UK thing and not a US thing. When we were at university (in Wales), skin tight jeans were all the fashion. Apparently (I am quoting because I never tried it!) if you sit in a very hot bath wearing your jeans, they will shrink to the required size. I can't remember if you have to wear them until they are dry. Probably not as that would have been torture in the cold winter weather!

      Critical thinking skills? That was very interesting. Can you recommend any books in particular you are using with your son? I have read a number of Edward de Bono books and tried some of his thinking exercises with my children.

      At the moment Immy is doing a university unit called Critical Thinking! I remember Callum doing the same unit and I learnt a lot looking over his shoulder. Unfortunately it didn't help with my boot problem!

  5. Great story, Sue. I wonder why no one thought of loosening the laces? Plus, why do they have both a zipper AND laces? I've never seen any boots quite like them. They do look big and mean - I don't think anyone would dare harass you in those boots ;) I cannot tell you the "exact" American name for boots like those because it contains a swear word. I don't know why this name became connected with certain boot types. Because of farmers maybe? But they are made well and I've owned similar boots in the past except they didn't have both the zipper and the laces.

    1. Mary,

      The laces are really for decoration only though they are functional too. I guess laced up Doc Martens are a traditional design. But someone must have finally realised that laced up boots take a lot of time to get on and off, and so a clever person thought to include a zipper too. I always use the zippers which is probably why I didn't immediately think of loosening the laces. I haven't touched those since the first time I did them up, on the day I bought the boots.

      Perhaps I shouldn't speculate over possible names for these boots in the US!! We just call them Docs (as far as I know, but then again, I am not aware of half that goes on outside my own little world!) Whatever they are called, I like them because they are comfortable. Big and mean? Well, I don't suppose they add much to my image because I am rather a small person to start with and my boots are usually hidden under a long skirt!! But I feel strong and invincible in them!

  6. Oh Sue- you DID think! You figured it out, just not right away. Sometimes we have to give ourselves a little time to work things out the best way and there are lessons in that too, I think.

    BTW- I love your boots. I had a pair of Doc Martens back in high school but, unfortunately, after having children my feet got too big for them too, even with the laces loosened!

    Thanks for sharing your story. It made me smile :)

    1. Kari,

      You are so encouraging! You are quite right. The important thing is solving a problem not how long it takes. This applies to our children and their own problems too, I'm sure.

      Doc Martens seem to have been around forever, a real classic. In my teenage years I seem to remember only tough punks and other such people wore them. (You are younger than me which explains why you had a pair when in high school!) These days they are a fashion item and even an ageing homeschooling mother like me can wear them!

      I'm glad my story made you smile! Thank you for sharing it.

  7. You are cracking me up! I can imagine how relieved--and horrified--you were to think of loosening those laces. Although, I'm not sure I would have thought about it. You automatically think they are there for show and aren't functional.

    I can't believe how many blogs you're writing. I have a hard time keeping up with one blog. Do you know how many miles (or kilometers) you run in a week? We should keep tabs on each other. (Meaning you could push me into being more diligent!) I'm hoping the Rosary Workout book will do some of that for me too...

    1. Holly,

      I do have a lot of blogs but I'm no longer writing for all of them. I couldn't keep up! You are quite right: one blog is hard enough to write for. I decided to post everything here on this blog rather than have separate blogs for homeschooling, grief, family... Much more sensible! I occasionally add links to the other blogs but the posts are here.

      I tried really hard to stay sensible but I failed and created one more (and hopefully the last!) blog several weeks ago. It's our homeschool journal where I am posting interesting resources we come across that others might find useful.

      Running? Yes we should encourage each other along! I'm sure you are a lot fitter than I am. I know you cycle too. I went back to running only a few months ago after a break of many, many years. And it has been so difficult regaining fitness. All those years makes a lot of difference: I'm feeling old! But I am determined and I've been thinking 'it's now or never'.

      We (my girls and I) ran outside along the bush trails during the summer and autumn. Now the cold weather has arrived we are running on a treadmill which isn't so exciting but it will take us through to the spring when we will again run through the bush. I am aiming for a continuous 5 K but have only worked my way up to 4.2 - 4.5 K so far. I was running a little further outside but that was because I took a drinks break and a breather which helped enormously. On the treadmill I hate to stop. My eyes get fixed on those numbers and it doesn't feel right to hop off! I run 4 or 5 times a week. Not a great distance overall but I'm getting there! How about you? I'd love to hear more about your workout.

      I have to admit I haven't used my Rosary Workout book for a while. I found it difficult to say the Rosary and concentrate. Then I decided to listen to an online Rosary while I exercised and that worked better. I shall have to have another look at the program. I'm sure that this would be an excellent way of reducing some of the inevitable boredom of running on a treadmill.

      Holly, I have enjoyed sharing with you. Thank you for stopping by. I will look out for your next fitness post!

  8. Haha, I just love reading your family dialogues. =) (And your new header is BEAUTIFUL!!!!)

  9. Elisa,

    Thanks for sharing my story! So many of our family conversations turn into blog posts. What would I do without my family? I wouldn't have anything to write about!

    We were just discussing this post over lunch. My children protested the idea they can't think. Callum said, "We are creative thinkers. The obvious solution is too simple for us. We looked at the problem and we came up with some possible solutions. That's thinking!" I agree!

    My new header? Thank you for your kind words! I did some experimenting last night. I decided it was time for a change. Maybe I was inspired by your own beautiful header! Now am trying to decide what to do with my side bars...

    God bless you!

  10. Hee hee. I loved this story.

    1. Amy,

      I'm glad you enjoyed my story!

  11. Hilarious post - love this story! I needed the laugh! Thanks!

    1. Dana,

      I am glad you laughed. Sometimes things seem to be very funny to us but when I write about them, they lose their humour. It's worth exposing my silliness when we can all laugh together.

      God bless!


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