Wednesday, February 26, 2014

What I Read Wednesday

Red Rising (The Red Rising Trilogy)
It's been a very long time since I've read an adult dystopian book, although the main characters in this book are all young adults, so I could easily see this read by a lot of older teens. Set on Mars, the Red Rising trilogy follows Darrow who sets out to break free of the complex classist system that rules Mars (yes, it's that kind of dystopia). Raised to believe that he's mining below the surface to make Mars livable for future generations, Darrow comes to learn that the surface of Mars has already been livable for generations and he's been toiling away as a slave for… what? This classist society is divided into colors (Reds--Darrow's people--are at the bottom and Golds are at the top). You cannot leave the color into which you are born, but after being rescued from the mines and taken to the academy, Darrow sets forth to change this world, venturing into a game that makes The Hunger Games look like child's play. This is only book one of the trilogy, of course, and I cannot wait until the rest are released.

The Book of Jonah: A Novel
The modern Jonah, Jonah Jacobstein, is a corporate attorney who loves alcohol, women and generally not caring about others. Until he encounters a Hasidic Jew one rainy night on the subway, and he begins seeing visions. Suddenly, he finds himself unable to do wrong things, try as he might. On the opposing side is Judith, introduced partway into the novel, who has her own tragedies to bear. At first, I struggled with the exposition and Judith chapters, but I quickly fell into this novel and Jonah's story and couldn't wait to read on and see what was going to happen in the end.

Innocence: A Novel
I love Dean Koontz because he often writes novels in which the real monsters are humans, which is all too true. Addison Goodheart lives by night, only going out under the cover of dark--and even then with gloves, a hooded jacket and sometimes a ski mask. Why? Because if anyone saw him, they would beat him to death like they did his father, like the midwife who tried to smother him at birth. One night, Addison comes across Gwyneth in the library, after closing, and their lives are irrevocably intertwined. Gwyneth also dwells away from people and is hidden from those who pursue her, though like Addison's "disfigurement," it's not made immediately clear why. This was a nice, easy read and one that, thematically, I really enjoyed.

The Boy Who Dared
Before you read on, of note: the world's oldest Holocaust survivor just died. Her life and how she survived the war was fascinating--take a minute to read about her.
Based on a true story, Helmuth Hubener is a young Mormon boy who initially envies the Hitler Youth with their snappy uniforms and their devotion to the Fatherland, but as time goes on and Helmuth watches the Third Reich rise around him, he doesn't feel quite right about Nazi Germany. As the book unfolds, it intersperses with a young Helmuth watching the fervor of Nazi Germany take hold and a young Helmuth sitting in his prison cell, awaiting execution for crimes against the Fatherland. Although Helmuth's crime is not made originally clear (unless, of course, you know the history), it is clear that he eventually dares to speak out on his misgivings about what the Nazis are doing to his home, to his neighbors, to his fellow human beings. This is a short book, but thematically, it is powerful and can teach a great lesson to kids. In Helmuth's position, whether it's facing down a bully or simply disagreeing with the crowd--whether through spoken means or written, would you dare?

What are you reading?

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

What I Read Wednesday

I only read two books this week! I feel like that can't be right, but I think I was trying to read multiple books at once and then I got distracted and then our furnace broke and I spent a lot of time whining about being cold. So it probably is right.

Three Wishes
Sometimes I just need to read chick lit. This was a good one. It centers on three triplets: Gemma, Lyn and Cat. Gemma is flighty, both in jobs and relationships. Lyn is type-A and focused. Cat is fierce. The novel opens on their 34th birthday, with the three sisters at a restaurant, seemingly enjoying themselves until a fight erupts. Then it flashes back to the year leading up to this event, as everything falls into place. For a debut novel, I thought this was great. It was an easy, fun read and the author did a great job switching between characters and making the voices unique. I was interested in each one and found the story lines believable. This is one of those reads where it's easy to lose yourself in it for awhile! Bonus, the Kindle edition is currently $1.99.

The Berlin Boxing Club
I was without a book the other day and wandered into the Media Center to ask the librarian for a recommendation. She recommended this and when both copies were gone, she brought in her own copy for me to borrow the next day. Good librarians are amazing. I was immediately drawn in. I love historical fiction that takes place during WWII, but what I really liked about this one is that it began shortly before WWII and did an excellent job of detailing the slow, creeping rise of anti-Semitism in Germany. As a reader, you know it's coming, but you can understand why the characters in the book are so slow to believe it: as the Hitler youth uniforms become more prevalent, as Karl Stern--the main character--is beat up at school for being Jewish, then forced to leave school for being Jewish, as his family cowers inside their house during Kristallnacht. It was incredibly believable and very well-written. The story itself was also engaging. Karl is taken on as a boxing protege by famous boxer Max Schmeling and the history intertwines with Karl's boxing and Max's career. I didn't realize until the end that some of this was based on a true story, which made it all the more fascinating. This isn't the lyrically beautiful read that The Book Thief is, but it's still just as good in its own right.

What are you reading?

Monday, February 17, 2014

Random and Cold

I had all these best laid plans for today. I was going to clean. I was going to run because I don't have school today! Shane was going to make fajitas for dinner. Then I woke up at 5:45 to him grabbing the phone, which was really confusing. He was all, "The furnace is out. Aren't you cold?" Well, no. Because I'd apparently cocooned myself in all the blankets, which explained why I was still sleeping comfortably and he wasn't. Our furnace has been making ominous clanking noises for awhile, but we were hoping we could make it through the winter, then call someone to come look at it. Alas, it did not survive the polar vortex constant usage of the winter of 2014.

The boys and I are holed up in our bedroom with the space heater. Tommy is lining up his superhero squinkies and making them have battles (I just bought us tickets to Marvel Universe Live next January--a long wait, but he is going to be SO EXCITED). Luke is texting a friend using my phone, which is adorable. I'm sure the relative calm will be shattered any minute now, but it's not so bad right now. Except that it's less than 50 degrees in the rest of the house, but I'm trying to ignore that--as well as how much fixing this might cost.
As I finished that sentence, Shane just walked in to let me know that the HVAC guy, who just arrived, determined that there is no fixing other than getting a new furnace. So fixing it will cost us approximately 8 million dollars. It was good to know you, any extra money we had.

I am not a winter person, so this winter has been really draining. Usually I can get through winter by running because I'm still outside and still getting sunshine, but it's been too cold to run outside often. Or too snowy. I'm starting to feel a little trapped and more than a little antagonistic about the weather and the four snow days we have to make up in June, when I would much rather be enjoying myself outside. And just life in general. This whole furnace situation? Not helping. (Reminder that I'm giving away waterpark passes if you need to escape this winter, too!)

Other than this never-ending winter, life is pretty good. Luke turns SEVEN on Thursday. Sometimes he behaves like an absolute fool, but maybe that's just seven year olds. And I hear he's pretty awesome at school, so I take it. Sometimes through gritted teeth. Tommy is doing so well at preschool. He's start to become more social, which is crazy from my shy kid. Any time he responds back to a store clerk without my prompting or sometimes even initiates the conversation himself, my jaw drops.

Morgan is settling in with us really, really well. She went through a little separation thing after we went away to the waterpark for a night, but after two nights of realizing that we were back with her, she was fine. She is so sweet--she loves to be near us and has her spot on the couch.

She also loves to go for walks, and I'm really looking forward to when the weather is warm and taking her for a walk doesn't hurt my face. Actually, I could've ended that sentence after the word warm. I'm just looking forward to when the weather is warm. How about you?

Friday, February 14, 2014

Win 4 Day Passes To Castaway Bay [Giveaway]

As I blogged earlier this week, we had a great stay at Castaway Bay last Friday. I am honestly wishing we were headed there again! I am thinking I am not alone in this wish.

This trip was a great way for us to recharge during this long, LONG winter.

If you're interested in staying at Castaway Bay as a family as we did, they do have some great family packages. The best, in my opinion, includes 4 color your own activities, a pizza dinner, a family photo with a Peanuts character, 2 arcade cards and free kid meals at TGI Fridays and Mango Mikes. Often times, a lot of the cost of traveling is eating, so cutting down on kid food would be a huge help--not to mention that Castaway Bay also has rooms with refrigerators, so this helps, as well.

But what if you live close enough to travel in a day or you're staying nearby? Castaway Bay also offers day passes to the waterpark.

For one reader, I have four day passes to Castaway Bay to giveaway. These passes are valid through October 26, 2014 and will admit four people to one day of fun at Castaway Bay (you can take me). As I commented in my last post, there are many fun things to do in this area. Go in the summer and you can hit up Cedar Point and then spend the next day cooling off on water slides. Or go now and spend an entire day warming up in the hot tub! All you need to do to enter is comment on this post and tell me what you do to recharge during the winter.

Giveaway closes Tuesday, February 18th. Good luck!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

What I Read Wednesday

The Invention of Wings: A Novel
By chance, I was once Sarah Grimke for a project in high school, so I was aware of her history as an abolitionist and one of the earliest feminists. The Grimke sisters are incredibly fascinating and if you don't know their history, I would definitely urge you to read more into it. This book spins together fact and fiction, inspired by the author recently learning of Sarah Grimke. The novel is told from two different point-of-views: Sarah and her slave, Hetty. Sarah struggles through her whole life with the tribulations of the times--she wants to be a lawyer, but her father laughs at her. She wants to work toward freeing the slaves, but southern society recoils at her. Hetty, too, struggles even more, living as a slave in a troubled and turbulent south. This was an engaging, easy read, and I enjoyed that I already knew some of the history behind it.

Silence Once Begun: A Novel
This was an interesting novel, the likes of which I've never read. A man who refers to himself as the Interviewer, sets out to unravel the mystery of Oda Sotatsu, who signed a confession for a crime, then refused to speak of it at all. Through his trial, through his prison stay, up to the moment he was executed for this crime--a crime he seemingly did not commit, yet says he did. Why did he do it? Why was he willing to die for this? And who was willing to let him die for this? Each interview adds another piece to the puzzle that was Sotatsu's life, until it all clicks together in the end. This was not a flowing read because of the format, but it was really unique and really fascinating.

Hold Me Closer, Necromancer
One of my students recommended this series. Sam is a normal, burned out 19 year old kid working at a fast food place, until he's discovered by an angry necromancer one night and his world is turned upside down. Unbeknownst to Sam, he is also a necromancer. This is a fun book. There's some drama, but mostly, it's just witty and cute, like Twilight with a sense of humor. It was a quick, enjoyable read, and I definitely know a lot of middle school students who would love it.

Necromancing the Stone
The sequel to the above book. It was cute, another good read and further exploration into Sam's world. The author is really great at giving comedic descriptions into the magical world--lawn gnome and gladiator fights, for example. Again, these are just enjoyable, easy fun reads.

What are you reading?

Monday, February 10, 2014

Castaway Bay: Our Favorite Winter Escape

Two years ago, we went to Castaway Bay and the boys have been asking to go back ever since. We intended on going back last year, but there was the whole thing where I drove an awful, unreliable Ford Focus that broke down on a moment's whim and we didn't go anywhere for awhile. So, I was definitely excited when we received an invite to this year's mom blogger event at Castaway Bay. Almost as excited as Luke and Tommy, but it was hard to match their excitement! As soon as they found out about the trip, they immediately began discussing their favorite parts of the waterpark. Since it'd been two years since we visited, Tommy wasn't old enough to do everything that Luke did, so Luke begin filling him in on all the things he would be able to do now. Needless to say, it seemed like February 7th would never arrive.

For us, Castaway Bay is the same driving distance mileage-wise as the Dells, but we avoid Chicago traffic. This is a huge perk, especially with recent weather conditions. The interstates have been awful, so going just a straight shot on the Ohio turnpike was a welcome, easy relief. When we arrived, check-in was quick and simple, and the boys were thrilled to find these goodies waiting for us in our room.

They changed into swimsuits pretty much right away, and we headed to the waterpark before I even had a chance to look around, but I did a quick moment to notice what a nice view we had.

I can imagine the water view and balcony our especially nice during the summer, but it wasn't all bad during the winter. There was just no way I was venturing out on the balcony with single digit temps!

We headed down to the waterpark, where the 82 degrees was honestly the most welcoming temperature ever. I don't think I've felt that warm once this entire frigid winter. Tommy played it safe and went on the smaller slide in the toddler pool, but I told him he was now tall enough for the Rendezvous Run which was Luke's favorite ride two years ago and convinced him to go on it with me. Since it's a water coaster, I thought he might feel more comfortable on that than a waterslide right away. As we went down the first hill, then into a dark tube, he was quiet. Then he started yelling, "This is awesome!" Then he made me go on it seven times in a row, and I regretted suggesting it and passed him off to Shane.
Luke, meanwhile, discovered that he is now tall enough for the Cargo Crossing and was busy making his way across the rope over and over again.

What I love about this is that there's a lifeguard posted at the entrance and only one kid is allowed in at a time. We've been at other waterparks where they don't limit the number of kids and the rope/float area can get kind of frantic and hard to watch. He also discovered that he is now tall enough for the biggest tube slides, so he drug me down those a few times. They are definitely fast!

After a few hours of play, it was time to get dried off and head to dinner (this was accomplished with the promise of arcade and more waterpark time later). Dinner was all-you-can-eat pizza and salad, both of which were delicious, but the highlight was obviously a guest appearance by Snoopy.

After dinner, we headed across the hall where the boys got to do some really neat crafts. They were able to decorate their own beach towels, paint picture frames and meet Lucy!

Peanuts Meet-and-Greet and Castaway Crafts are all fun activities offered to Castaway Bay guests (some crafts may cost extra). My boys definitely love the ability to meet and hug the Peanuts characters. And of course, the crafts were a blast. They always want souvenirs everywhere we go, so it's nice to have souvenirs that they have put time and effort into creating themselves.

After crafts, we headed to the arcade, where Tommy either wanted to play the games with the giant guns or ride on anything that moves. Of course.

The boys managed to win a combined total of 550 points and scored themselves a bunch of fun goodies. Like everyone else in the resort, the girl at the arcade was incredibly helpful and beyond patient as the boys took approximately 800 years to choose how to redeem their points. We let them go back to the waterpark for another hour or so after the arcade, then they were good and worn out for bed. And I got to head out to taste some local wines, which made my husband jealous.

With good reason… I'm still thinking about the smoked salmon and cream cheese. Being from the Northwest Indiana area, I'm mostly familiar with Southwestern Michigan wineries. However, it appears that the Lake Erie Shores and Islands area is not without its own celebrated wineries, either. We were able to sample several different wines and choose a bottle of our favorite to take. Second to spending time with my family, of course, this was definitely my favorite part of the weekend. I love the celebration and highlighting of locally owned businesses and while we pass signs for wineries on our drive in, it's not easy to stop with two small kids in the car. So to get the chance to sample these wines was really unique and a lot of fun. I chose a bottle of riesling from Firelands Winery and after looking at their website, I hope to get there someday soon to sample more! Although it was a family event, I liked that an adult event was planned after bedtime--it was definitely nice to get out and chat. It's hard to talk to other adults when you're helping your kids with crafts or dinner, so this was a nice way to make it work out so the attendees could visit with one another. I had a great time meeting a few new people and stayed out a little later by the fireplace in the lobby, chatting with and getting to know Theresa of Theresa's Mixed Nuts. It was definitely a fun night!

Saturday morning, the boys slept in a little, then Tommy and I went to get donuts (and coffee--Starbucks!). We ran into Snoopy in his nightshirt on the way to get breakfast. While we were waiting for our coffee, the girl at the register overheard me talking to Tommy and addressed him by name, asking him to come back and let her know how much fun he had at the waterpark. Again, I can't stress enough how great the staff is at Castaway Bay when it comes to dealing with children. After eating breakfast, we packed up, then headed back to the waterpark as soon as it opened. Tommy, of course, wanted to ride the raft over and over, but I convinced him to try the slide at the top of the Lookout Lagoon funhouse by promising him I would go down first and meet him at the bottom. Despite recently being terrified of even getting bathwater in his eyes, he loved it!

After about five times of my going up with him, he told me could do it by himself. What I like about Castaway Bay is that most of the areas are wide open so that you have the ability to stand and observe without losing sight of your children. So while Tommy went all the way to the top, I could keep an eye on his bright red swim trunks from the bottom of the slide and see him every bit of the way. Of course, he was moving so fast that he was pretty much a blur until he got to the top of the slide!

I lost count of how many times he went down the blue slide, but it must've been close to 20. Suffice to say, by the time we got him out of the park and into the car, he was exhausted. Happily exhausted.

Neither boy wanted to leave, but we've promised we'll go back--sooner this time. Of course, about two hours into our drive, we were headed back into more of our lovely Indiana winter, so we were missing the waterpark more than ever.

On the drive home, I read through some of the information that Shores&Islands left in our hotel room and realized that this area has much more to offer than we've realized. The Blind Perch is a new gastro-pub that specializes in local farm-grown meats and produce, as well as Lake Erie fish. Volstead Bar, housed in an old winery and brothel, and crafts classic cocktails hearkening back to the Roaring Twenties. I could go on and on, but suffice to say, between the list of unique restaurants and wineries, Shane and I are definitely considering the Lake Erie shore area for our anniversary get-away this June. I mean, provided we don't have any more snow days and we're actually out of school by June 25th!

As always, I can't say enough good things about Castaway Bay and would definitely recommend it as a fun, affordable family vacation. My kids would agree!

Although Castaway Bay provided us with this visit, all opinions are my own

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

What I Read Wednesday

Thanks to yet another snow day, I was able to finish another book before writing this post. Hooray. I guess. I'd rather be reading in June.

Paris Trout
As Barb, who recommended this book, said the title character of this novel is "one mean SOB." On the surface, this is the [fictional] story of the murder of a young black girl in the post-WWII south by a white man and how white class and privilege reacts to that. But it's more than that, because Paris Trout isn't *just* a bigot (and I use the phrase just lightly, obviously). He's a man who truly, deeply believes that he's in the right to take a life, and he cannot fathom why anyone would think otherwise. Beyond that, as the book unfolds, Paris Trout becomes a truly vile human being, at times committing acts and thoughts that are painful to comprehend, all in the name of what he believes is his own personal righteousness. I really enjoyed this book, though it is, truly, not a happy book. The voices of the different characters are strong and well-written, each telling a different tale and showing the ripple effects of Paris' careless act.

The Wind Is Not a River
I love it when historical fiction enlightens me to something of which I was previously unaware. This book is about the Japanese takeover of the Aleutian islands during WWII and the subsequent relocation of the native islanders, which was an actual event in our history. One more, a journalist, sets out to investigate the takeover which has been all but censored by the US government. Unfortunately, while on a plane over one of the islands, he is shot down. What follows is his attempt to survive and his wife's attempt to head north into Alaska to make her way to the Aleutian islands to find the husband that she still strongly believes to be alive. This was one of those slow stories that really gripped me and was full of details of not only their relationship but of war and survival. I thought of for quite awhile after I finished reading.

Carthage: A Novel
I am a Joyce Carol Oates fangirl. One of my biggest regrets is not seeing her years ago when she spoke at a local university, but it was at night and no one wanted to come with me and I was at a very anxious stage in my life. So. I'm still sad about that. Anyway, what I like about Oates is that she doesn't gloss over the ugliness of humanity. It's there. It's real and she writes in a way that readers can say, "Yeah. That's not a Hollywood reaction, but that's a HUMAN reaction."
Zeno Mayfield has two daughters: Juliet and Cressida. Julie is the pretty one. Cressida is the smart one--and the homely one, who lives awkwardly in her sister's shadow and her own insecurity. Cressida goes missing and the #1 suspect is an Iraq war veteran and Julie's ex-fiance, Brett, who struggled with the demons of PTSD. This is a difficult book to review without giving away spoilers, but suffice to say, it's not a murder mystery novel. It's more complex than that, but within the layers of Cressida's disappearance lie many issues: Brett's mental instability, sibling relationships and how hard it is to love someone who can't love herself. I loved this book, especially the ending, which I read twice because it was so real and honest.

Hollow City (Miss Peregrine's Peculiar Children)
This is the sequel to Miss Peregrine's Peculiar Children, which I've been waiting for FOREVER (not exaggerating). It did not disappoint. If you haven't read Miss Peregrine, do so now! Best is the author's use of vintage, bizarre photographs to enhance the story. Hollow City continues where Miss Peregrine left off. I enjoyed this one even more than the first, actually, because you explore so much more of the peculiar world and Jacob learns more about himself. And with another cliffhanger ending, I wonder how long I have to wait before the next book?!

What are you reading?

Monday, February 3, 2014

Lovin' It

I really enjoy it when people do blog posts about items or things they're really enjoying because it's like personal shopping without a personal shopper. So, without further ado, here are five items or things that I'm really into lately (affiliate links ahoy).

1. Winix WAC5500 True HEPA Air Cleaner with PlasmaWave Technology
Before we got Morgan, Shane claimed that he'd developed an allergy to dogs. Since he lived with a [yappy, annoying] pug for years, I largely ignored him. Until Morgan came and he actually started sneezing. A lot. And he couldn't breathe. Oops. Sorry, Shane. I suggested he move out of the house, but that didn't seem to be a good suggestion, so I started researching air purifiers. I did a lot of research and Winix had the best reviews--especially from pet owners. Truthfully, I've wanted one for awhile because in the fall, when they harvest the field behind our house, our air is thick with pollen and dust, to the point that our cars are coated yellow. This is when Tommy's breathing problems really amplify. However, the cost always seemed prohibitive for a just once a year thing.
Anyway, I have to say this purifier is amazing, to the point where I'm considering purchasing another one for the upstairs of our house. But probably not right away because $200 is a lot of money (Amazon was the best price I found--unless you have a Cosco card, which I don't). It has definitely helped with Shane's sneezing, but it really cleans the air in a lot of other ways, too. When it senses that the air is dirty, it kicks into a higher cycle to clean it. I've noticed that it always kicks up when something is being cooked and that causes cooking odors to be removed from the air sooner. Not the yummy, during cooking odors, but the aftermath of lingering food odors that don't smell so good. Shane made bacon the other night and while the delicious bacon smell stayed, the lingering grease odor that usually comes with bacon was gone as soon as he was done. A few reviews said they've had to dust less since getting the air purifier. I dusted right when we got it, but I haven't had it long enough to notice yet. And let's be honest, I'm not really a diligent enough duster to weigh in on that, but that would be a great benefit!

2. Thermos Stainless King 16-Ounce Food Jar, Midnight Blue
Luke started asking for a thermos a few months ago because he really wanted soup in his lunch. Usually after my kids ask for something for a few months without letting up, I cave and buy it--especially if it's practical. My biggest worry was that I'd buy a thermos that wouldn't keep the soup warm, but the first review on Amazon was from a mom who said her kids used this for lunch and the soup was still steaming. Sold! On our first run with chicken noodle soup, Luke said soup was as hot as if it'd just been poured out of the pot--almost five hours after I put it in the thermos. Since buying it, he takes soup in his lunch at least once a week. It gives him a welcome change from sandwiches, and it doesn't take me any more time in the morning to prep. I have access to a microwave at work, but if I didn't, I would definitely get one of these for myself! The amazing thing is that when he comes home at night with unfinished soup, it's *still* warm.

3. Monthly (or sometimes twice a month, depending on how my schedule/finances work out) manicures. I've gotten monthly pedicures for awhile now because I am a runner and my feet deserve pampering, but I started getting no-chip manicures this fall. I've never been a nail person before because it chips really easily, which I guess is the bonus of no-chip. I can go 3-4 weeks in between manicures and the only part that shows that it's been that long is the very bottom because my nails have grown. My natural nails are generally pretty healthy and strong, so I have no need for gel nails and it's been really fun to get glitter and different colors (and currently, rhinestones) on them. And at $34, it's not really breaking the bank. If you're in the area, I love Nail Studio for manis and pedis (ask me who I see!). Oh, and the hand massage as someone who uses my hands a lot for writing and typing at work? Definitely worth it.

4. Aveda Volumizing Tonic with Aloe.
I don't often buy hair products, but last time I got my hair cut, I needed shampoo and hair spray and the salon had a buy three products, get one free offer, so I asked my stylist for product recommendation. She recommended this volumizing tonic. I quickly fell in love. Two or three squirts on wet hair, then blow drying leaves my hair with much more volume than usual, even if I do it the night before. It also doesn't feel like I have any product in at all, which is great.

5. Orthaheel Women's Nell Tall Boots, Black
Thanks to my constantly temperamental feet, I can't wear normal shoes. But I also would not be able to make it through this winter without boots, so I splurged on a pair of Orthaheels boots. They don't have heels and they're not the sexy black boots I used to wear, but they keep my feet warm and most importantly, they have arch support and don't leave my feet in pain at the end of a long day. They zip over skinny jeans, jeggings and leggings, too, which is great and they also fit easily under other kinds of pants. I wish they were a little taller, but they go up to my calves so they're tall enough to still look remotely stylish, despite being orthotic.

Anything you're loving lately?