Thursday, December 02, 2010

Every Woman Needs a Wife!

You've heard this expression, right? "Every woman needs a wife."  I believe it's never more true than during this time of year.  Oh, if I just had a wife to help me through the holiday season!!  Can I hear an "Amen" here?

Here's the thing about December: until the week before Christmas, nothing that is on the regular weekly schedule actually stops to make room for all the extra holiday stuff!  We still go to soccer practice, Kumon, Kid's Quest at church, etc.  The kids still have homework and spelling words.  Not to mention the fact that the family still needs to eat, wear clean clothes and live in a somewhat clean environment.  Right?  So where is the time to help the kids make their Christmas lists and then send them to family?  When do I shop for the exact gifts the kids want and then hide them until it's time to wrap them (also my job)? How am I suppose to shop for and mail gifts to out-of-town folks?  What about the baking and food prep?

Do you see where I'm headed with this?  A wife would be a great addition to the month of December.  The amount of babysitting I need to accommodate all the parties and activities, alone, could keep my wife busy 1) taking care of the kids or 2) booking the sitters!  Splitting everything with a wife would make the work manageable, don't you think?  She could drive the kids around town to their activities, and I could hit the mall (and I haven't even discussed the time it takes to make a list, figure out which store coupons I have and can use, plan my trips according to which stores are close together so I can accomplish more with each outing, etc...).   While I baked, she could load the dishwasher and wipe down the countertops (or vice versa, honestly, I'd clean if she wanted to bake!). She could make the trips to the post office, or just sit in the car with the kids so I wouldn't have to get them all out.  And she could definitely help keep the kids from finding their gifts, and help me remember which wrapping paper is used for "Santa gifts" and which is safe for regular presents.  (Maybe, just maybe, she'd also be really good at making chocolate martinis, for those nights when even two moms didn't feel like enough!!)

Ah, a wife, just what I need this Christmas, but she'd have to be free, of course, because who can afford to PAY for help in December???

Monday, November 01, 2010


This year we experienced Halloween from two different perspectives! The big kids (at 7 & 9) have gotten to the place where it's just really all about the candy.  They cared less about what costumes they wore.  They wanted bigger bags that held more candy, and they wanted to run from house to house.  I remembered these days, so I tried not to get frustrated, and I accommodated them if I could.

On the other hand, Mary is just starting out in this whole Halloween process.  She loves candy, and this year she seemed to understand that this night was about getting it. She also loves people, so the socializing was also great fun! G & R taught her how to say, "trick or treat" and spent the day quizzing her: "Mary, what do you say if you want candy?" or "We ring the bell and then what do we say?" Mary: "Twick o tweet!" (with enthusiasm).

Mary seemed up to the challenge, but just before we left we decided to do a trial run.  She and I went outside and knocked on the door.  The kids opened it, and I said, "Mary, what do you say?" Mary looked at me and looked at them, and then very excitedly said, "Gimme some candy!"

Well, she ended up doing fine.  She said "Twick o tweet" at almost every house, and sometimes she got "pease" and "tank coo" mixed up, but for the most part she was a very polite ladybug.  The big kids were a little frustrated with her, though, because she took the whole thing at her own pace.  She LOVED the pumpkins, and wanted to touch and talk about just about each one that she saw. "Oo, that's a big punkin!" "Look at that punkin!" At several houses, when the bowl  of candy was extended to her to pick a piece, she said things like, "Umm.  I don't know.  What's this called?" (showing a piece to the kind person holding the bowl).  And at one house, when a man with a very scary mask was passing out the candy, rather than be scared, she went right up to him and said, "Hi! What's you name?"

It was a fun night, and the kids ended up with plenty of good candy! Mary had us laughing all evening, and even though she doesn't really know it, she's also turning out to be a very, very good candy-sharer!! ;)

Thursday, October 14, 2010

You Came Back!

Mary is very outgoing, and she enjoys going to the Mom's-Day-Out program that she attends twice a week.  She also likes the nursery at church and the childcare at the gym.  It sure makes things easier for me!!  I know she likes being with me too, though, because when I return, I'm always met with an exuberant "You came back!" This exclamation is often followed by lots of running around the room and exclaiming to everyone, "My mommy's back!" "That's my mom. She came back." (I am not  exaggerating!).

Lately, the "you came back" routine starts when we pull into the parking lot.  I say, "Here we are.  Are you ready to go play with the kids?"  She usually says "Yes.", and lately she's started adding, "And you'll come back." Of course my answer is,"Yes, I'll come back."

There's a psychological term for this.  The psychologist, Mary Ainsworth, coined the term "securely attached".  This aspect of Attachment Theory is explained as: "Securely attached children exhibit distress when separated from caregivers and are happy when their caregiver returns.  Remember, these children feel secure and able to depend on their adult caregivers.  When the adult leaves, the child may be upset but he or she feels assured that the parent or caregiver will return." (

So, there you have it -- making my kids feel securely attached is part of my job (a big part!).  Being with them is a blessing, but being away from them can be too.  What I'm trying to do is to make sure that they feel the security necessary to be sad when I leave and happy when I return.  And, according to attachment theory, the attachment that they feel to me as kids will transfer to how they relate to others as adults.  This parenting stuff -- it's so important -- it really matters.  And while I'm so far from perfect, I know that when I do my very best to love and care for them, then (Lord willing!) I'm raising them to be securely attached adults, who are able to love and care for themselves and others.  And, really, isn't that what it's all about?

For now, I'll just do my best each day, and...

"Yes, Mary, I'll always come back."

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

These are the kinds of problems to have!

When we first moved into our condo (last month), I posted a status update on Facebook about how much I missed my DirecTV and DVR.  Watching local channels, without the possibility of pausing or forwarding through commercials was just too much for me.  One of my friends commented in response to this complaint, "These are the kinds of problems to have!" And I thought, "Isn't that the truth? How lucky am I, and yet I complain?"

For the last few weeks, through the postings of a Facebook friend, I have been following and praying for the precious little life of Baby Ewan.  His parents started a blog (, documenting Ewan's fight for life.  He was born with a heart problem. His mom, Kirsten, explains that, "Ewan has been diagnosed with a congenital heart defect called Tetralogy of Fallot with Pulmonary Atresia, which consists of a combination of four defects in the heart. It is estimated that Tetralogy of Fallot occurs in as many as 5 out of every 10,000 births. There are several forms of Tetralogy of Fallot that range in severity. Ewan is diagnosed with the most severe form." Each day he lived was a miracle, but also wrought with pain for Baby Ewan and his family.

Ewan went to heaven on October 3rd.  As I read Ewan's mom's daily account of happenings in his life, and then her varied responses to the loss of him (which you can read here and here), I began to think about my own blog (this blog)!  When thinking about the posts I've written lately, I couldn't help but think, "These are the kinds of problems to have." Somehow the fact that I am not in a book club seems almost laughably unimportant.  If the only thing I have to say goodbye to is my house, I am amazingly fortunate! And I know that Kirsten would give anything for Ewan to be two like Mary.  You get where I'm going with this.  Problems, schmoblems!  Really!

So I've thought long and hard about what I should do.  I decided that I'm not going to stop writing this Mommy-with-a-Masters-themed blog, even with the relatively unimportant worries and complaints that I have.  The writing is good for me.  There are times, too, when I feel like the things that I say resonate with others in a way that is helpful.  But, in honor of Baby Ewan, I will forever go forth with a different perspective.  I want all of you who read this blog to know that I will try very hard not to take myself, or my issues, too seriously.  From now on, I'm going to double my efforts at being deeply and completely thankful for my dear children.  I will hold them closer and love on them more.  I will cherish these moments and days, because there may come a time when I have them no more.  And I will pray.  I will pray for Ewan; his parents, Kirsten and James; and all who know and love them.  I will pray for all children who are sick, and those who are dying, and for the friends and families that love and care for them.  I will pray for all who have lost children and loved ones.  I will pray for myself, for my husband and for my kids. And I will pray for you!  

For now I'm thankful that my problems are the kind that are desirable, but I know that this can change in an instant. I encourage each of you to pull your loved ones closer today, and make sure that each day ends with the satisfaction of a life well-lived through people deeply-loved.

Friday, October 01, 2010

Book Club

Those of you who know me, or have read this blog, know that I love to read.  I have always felt like I would really enjoy being in a book club.  Making that happen, though, when I have three kids and a husband who works a lot, has been difficult (in fact, impossible so far, given the fact that I'm not IN a book club).  Book club is something that I often think I'll add to my life once I have less parenting responsibilities (or at least don't have to find babysitters to do everything).

A few weeks ago, Gregory (9) brought home a permission slip that said that the librarian was offering a book club for kids in 4th and 5th grades who are interested.  The kids who sign up are able to choose between two books (a more traditionally "boy" book and "girl" book), and they meet with the librarian twice a week (during lunch) for a month.  Gregory, very excitedly, brought me the permission slip and as I signed it I said to him, "I think it's great that you want to be part of the book club.  I would love to be in a book club." And dear Gregory responded by saying, "Mom, I think you would like the book we're reading.  If you wanted to read it with me, I could take some of your ideas to book club and share them with the group."

Two things about his sentences struck me.  First of all, I was thankful for his considerate response.  He HEARD what I said, and he responded with the only thing he could think of that would help.  Secondly, he didn't realize that HE was one of the reasons I couldn't be in my own book club.  This is my (current) life: On the one hand, I'm not free to do all the things I know I would enjoy, because much of my focus in on raising my kids.  On the other hand, because I'm dedicating so much of myself to raising my kids, every once in a while one of them responds to me in a way that makes me know how important (and rewarding) this life's work really is.

One day I will be in a book club all my own.  I will read books, get together with other adults who have read them, drink wine and talk for as long as I want!  But someday, all too soon, I will have to hear about Gregory's books over the telephone from somewhere other than my own home.  While he's here, I will try to cherish these moments -- the glimpses of the man he will become -- and, rather than resent the things he keeps me from, I will look for the joy in (and give myself some credit for) the kid that he is and the relationship that we have!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Goodbye, House! I don't hate you, really!

It's a funny thing when you put your house on the market during a recession.  The house that you used to love and cherish suddenly becomes a source of incredible stress!  It's not my house's fault that selling it was such a long and difficult process, but somehow the house bore the brunt of my frustration.  No house is perfect, but my expectations required it to be.  Each day the house was on the market, was a day that I wandered through it with a critical eye.  Everyday I wondered if people would come and see it that day, and at the beginning I wondered if those people would  fall in love with the beauty and wonderful function of the house.  As time wore on, though, I began criticizing my house for all its imperfections, and eventually, instead of wondering which particulars people would love about the house, I began thinking about whether people would look past its flaws and (please, please) buy it anyway.  The reasons we decided to move had very little to do with the house itself.  The house is beautiful and there is lots of space for living and playing.  This weekend when we hauled the last of the stuff out of the house, and cleaned up for the new owner, I was sad to realize that I had spent most of the last six months resenting this house -- this house that had been a wonderful home for my family and me.  When I walked through the house for the last time, by myself, I cried and I thanked the house for being our home -- for providing us shelter and a place to live and laugh and love!  I made peace with the house, because I wanted to leave with the good feelings that I felt in the house for 3 1/2 years, and forget the bad feelings of the last six months.  

Goodbye, House!  I'm so glad you sold, but I really will miss you!

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Wouldn't You Like to Be Two Again?

Don't you think it would be fun to go back to being a two year old? If you need convincing, I'll tell you what your life would be like if you were Mary!

If you were two, like Mary, you would enjoy your favorite TV show bright and early in the morning, while someone brought you milk and "mo miiiilk". You really wouldn't have to worry about getting much of anything for yourself, because, if you were Mary, you would have two parents and two siblings to pretty much cater to all your needs.

If you were two, like Mary, you would certainly understand where the potty was, and you would know its purpose, but there really wouldn't be any need for you to use it. I mean really, you wouldn't need to -- not with one, sometimes two, very capable adults willing to change you (even if they had to chase you down to do it).

If you were two, like Mary, you wouldn't have to worry about your singing voice, because the fact that you were singing the words to songs noone even knew you knew would be very sweet.  Your rendition of Dave Matthews' "You and Me"  and Train's "Soul Sister" would be unexpectedly accurate for your age, and people would never doubt your love for music.

If you were two, like Mary, the rules wouldn't really apply to you. You could obey your mom pretty much only when you felt like it. No street would be off limits to you, and if your mom got distracted at soccer practice, it wouldn't be a big deal for you to wander off to the nearest playground. Also, if you didn't really like the way things, in general, were going down, you could just lie on the floor face down and refuse to get up until everyone in the room wondered what was wrong with your mom. That would be a sure way to make the point of your displeasure, and probably convince your mom to do what you wanted after all.

If you were two, like Mary, you could pretty much eat whatever you wanted.  Vegetables would, of course, be optional.  If you didn't like what your mom served, you could just throw it on the ground.  That wouldn't be a big deal.  And every trip to Schnuck's grocery store would include a free kids' cookie (as it should), and it would be great if you started asking for that cookie the minute your mom pulled into the parking lot.

If you were two, like Mary, everyone would think you were cute and funny. I mean, how could they help it, when "yes" didn't really work for you, as an answer to a question, and instead you preferred to say, "Yeah, sure!" ( in your great Demi Moore voice)? And how could people not laugh when something made you really happy and you started chanting "Uh huh, oh yeah, boogie, boogie!"?  You would win everyone over, and certainly not be intimidated by the construction workers fixing (and blocking) your steps, because a simple, "Xcuse me, guys!" would make them clear a path for you.

If you were two, like Mary, you would know beyond a shadow of a doubt that you were truly loved! You would know that the parents and the big kids in your family would think that you hung the moon, no matter how many cups of milk they had to pour,  dirty diapers they had to change, embarrassing face-plants they had to endure, vegetables they had to scrape off the floor, or booty-shaking they got to enjoy!

Really, it would be great to be two again!  If you were two, like Mary, you would require a lot of patience, care and love, but everyone would be happy to accommodate, because you would be worth every minute of it!

Friday, August 20, 2010


I feel like I should write some about our vacation to Florida, especially in light of my previous post In the Moment.   We went to Carillon Beach, which is a planned beach community between Panama City and Seaside.  Each way we spent 12 hours actually driving, and split it up with a hotel stay in Nashville.  We rented a house that was about a block from the beach, and across the street from the pool, playground and tennis courts.  We had beautiful weather and a wonderful time!
I tried very hard while we were there to soak in my surroundings, and to bask in this precious time spent with my family.  We didn't do much while we were there, other than swim, play and eat, but that was exactly what we all needed.  I kept thinking to myself, "I feel like I'm living a MasterCard commercial." 
Rented Beach House: $$$
100 gallons of sun screen: $
Food for a family of 5 for a week: $$
The joy on the kids' faces from hours at the beach & undivided attention from parents:  Priceless

How to Become a Famous Blogger

I got this link from my brother's blog Blue Sox Baseball, which you should also check out, but here's all you need to know about How to Become a Famous Blogger.

Friday, August 06, 2010

In the Moment

Last week it started raining while I was running.  I ran the last mile in the rain, with the sky threatening a serious storm!  It was an exhilarating experience!  Amazing, really.  I was running hard (to beat the storm), with my favorite music blasting in my ears, and the rain coming down on me.  I felt so very present, right in that moment.  All of me experienced the adrenaline, the noise, and the rain on my skin.

How many times can we say that we are fully present in one experience?  As moms, my friends and I often laugh that we are never able to finish a conversation when our kids are present.  I can't tell you the number of times I've had to call or email a friend, because I realized later that when we were together we started a conversation that we never finished.  How can I be fully present in the moments of my life, when I can't even complete a conversation?  On the other hand, how can I not be?  I know that life is short.  I know that my kids are only young once, but I often find myself wishing away the hours, days, and even years (i.e. "If I can just get through this day.", "Summer is ALMOST OVER!", "I'll enjoy the pool more next summer when Mary is older.", "When Mary starts school..." etc.).  I have to figure out a way to truly cherish the time that I have with each one my kids, even in the midst of trying to manage all three of them at once.  At this stage in my life, is it possible to fully present in these precious moments? Any thoughts?  Suggestions?

Monday, July 26, 2010

Mommy knows best?

This weekend my family and I got together with many of my dear friends from college and their families.  What an amazing blessing to reconnect not only with my friends, but also to meet and get to know their kids.  The above picture shows the event, complete with the 8 dear friends, their spouses and our 21 children!  Our kids had so much fun together!  Each one had several other kids his/her age (or close) and they naturally broke into play groups accordingly.  While looking at this picture, and thinking about the fun my kids had with the other kids, I started to wonder whether maybe some of these kids would be friends when they are old enough to choose.  Will any of them go to the same college?  Will Gregory play college baseball with Jesse McGovern or Brennan McFarlane?  Maybe Mary and Maggie Mann or Abby Borwick will be college roommates someday.  Could Ruthie reconnect with Zoe Henke or Maggie Gladding in General Psych?  What about dating and marriage?  How much would I love it if Ruthie married Marshal Wiegand or Mary married Silas McGovern?

If I could choose my kids' friends and spouses, would I do it?  Gregory's oldest friend in the world is Emma (daughter of Alex and Melissa -- not pictured).  He's known her is entire life.  I like to say that Emma was the inspiration for Gregory!!  The day Emma was born, Gary and I went to the hospital.  I held her, and then nine months later -- almost to the day -- Gregory was born.  lol  When Gregory and Emma were younger, they talked a lot about getting married when they grew up.  It seemed to just be a foregone conclusion. Melissa and I tried not to encourage or discourage, but to just rejoice in their friendship.  Now that they're older (Emma is almost 10, and well, you know, Gregory is nine month younger), they talk less and less about getting married.  I'm not sure if they still assume that to be true, and are just embarrassed to say it, or if they really aren't thinking about it anymore.  I would love it if Gregory married Emma!

Emma and Gregory

Ruthie had a great time this weekend, playing for hours with Marshal (son of Mo and Amy).  How fun would that wedding be for me, if they grew up and decided to get married?

Marshal and Ruthie
(also pictured: Mary and Silas)

But does that really happen?  We all love to talk about it, but do you actually know anyone who has a child who married the child of a good friend?  And now, I'm back to my question: Would I want to choose for them, if I could?  More than anything, I want my kids to be happy and healthy, and I want them to grow up to be productive and contributing citizens.  I like to think that I know (or will know) the best path for them to reach those goals (of mine).  Sometimes I'm tempted to think that if I could always choose for them, then they wouldn't have to worry, and could just be happy.  I know, though, that life is about carving out your own way.  Making choices, and living with success and failure, is the way to learn and grow and be happy!  And while I know I would dance an extra little happy dance at the wedding of Gregory and Emma, Ruthie and Marshal, or Mary and Silas, what will really make me happy will be seeing the happiness that comes to them from creating their own paths and making their lives what they dream them to be!

Friday, July 09, 2010

Sometimes I control food...

...and sometimes it controls me.

For those of you who don't know, I'm a lifetime member of Weight Watchers. Ten years ago, I lost 35 pounds.  It was the year before I got pregnant with Gregory.  Three kids later, I can say that I've been losing and gaining those same 35 pounds for 10 years -- quite literally!  Now that I'm done having kids, it's not really all 35 pounds that come and go, but there are always about 10 with which I am constantly fighting.  Sometimes I feel like I'm on a roller coaster of weight loss and gain.

The reason WW works for me, is because I'm required to keep track of everything that goes into my mouth.  It doesn't all have to be good stuff, it just has to be counted.  There are days when I'm completely on board with the program and feel energized by feeling in control.  There are other days, though, that I feel completely overwhelmed by the prospect and just eat without care!

The truth is that my love of all things edible is what has led me to my dependence on running.  I think I'm now addicted to running, but one reason I need to run is because I love to eat!   I tend to gain the weight in the winter and take it off in the summer.  It's so much easier to run and to do other outdoor exercise when the weather is warm.  (There are also plenty of yummy fresh fruits and vegetables in the summer).

When I first lost the weight, I didn't have any kids and my husband worked all the time (as a brand new attorney in Chicago).  I worked in a school and was home by 4pm every day.  I had all the time in the world to exercise if I wanted and to spend lots of time preparing very healthy, low fat meals.  Now it's a lot harder.  I have to get up early to exercise before Gary leaves for work.  I make meals for five people, not just me, and I keep a much larger variety of food in the house.  I just plain don't have as much control over my time and my food as I did when I didn't have kids and all my free time was my own.

I recently made it back to my goal weight, for probably the tenth to fifteenth time in my life (no joke)!  And I know that those bad 10 pounds will sneak their way back on at some point (probably when winter comes again), but I'm trying to concentrate on controlling the things that I can (getting out of bed to run, tracking the food that I eat), and letting go of the things that I can't (mainly the fact that I'm responsible for more than just myself).  If I can let go, then I won't: 1) resent my kids, and 2) get overwhelmed and eat without care!!.  I just have to take it one day at a time, and hope that on more days than not, I'm the one mostly in control!

Here's my most recent set of before and after pictures! lol
The first was taken April 2009, and the second July 2010.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

July 4th Weekend

I was bummed that we didn't have any plans to go anywhere this July 4th weekend, but we ended up having a really great time here in StL!  Gregory and Ruthie went to golf/tennis camp last week.  On Friday we got a babysitter for Mary, and Gary and I picked them up from camp and stayed and played 9 holes.  Gary's been playing golf with the kids since they were really little. We figured out that I hadn't played in 3 years! :)  It was a little chaotic at times, but we had a lot of fun, and I felt so thankful to spend this time with my two big kids, who are growing up so fast!

On Saturday Gary took all three kids downtown (on the train) for the air show.  I joined them later, and we had a great time doing the free kid stuff, eating lunch at the new downtown eat-in Schnucks, and playing at Citygarden.  We were heading back to the train, when Gary decided it would be fun to stay downtown for the Cardinals' game.  Gregory and I weren't interested, but Ruthie was, so she and Gary stayed.  They bought tickets, watched the Brewers beat the Cardinals, and then saw the StL fireworks from their seats.

On Sunday we went to a BBQ at the home of one of Gary's coworkers. There were three other kids the ages of G and R, a blow-up water slide in the backyard, amazing food, and some really fun fireworks.  Everyone was happy!  The best part for me was the fact that Gary's coworker's wife is opening a pie shop in Webster Groves, and she's very interested in selling my cookies!!  Look out, world, here comes EllPie (one small pie shop at a time)!

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Chocolate Toffee Crunch Bars

This is a modified recipe from a cookie cook book I have.  The original recipe called for regular graham crackers, which is also really good, but I had chocolate ones on hand.  The original also called for half the amount of the "toffee" (brown sugar and butter), and only 1 cup chocolate chips.  I didn't like it as well, so I increased the toffee and choc. chips.  The recipe below is my modified recipe, the way I like them best.

2 cups chocolate graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup butter, melted
1 to 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips (Use the amount that looks good to you!)
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup butter

Preheat oven to 350 F.

In a medium bowl, mix together graham cracker crumbs, 1/4 cup brown sugar, and 1/3 cup melted butter.  Press into the bottom of an ungreased 9 x 13 inch pan.

Bake for 8 to 10 minutes in preheated oven.  In a saucepan, combine 1 cup butter and 1 cup brown sugar.  Cook over moderate heat, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to a boil; boil for 1 or 2 minutes, until mixture is well combined.  Pour immediately over baked cookie base.

Bake for 10 more minutes.  Remove from oven, and sprinkle with chocolate chips.  Let stand for 2 to 3 minutes until chips are shiny and soft.  Spread the softened chocolate evenly over the top.  (At this point you can sprinkle with 1/2 cup chopped walnuts.  I didn't.)  

Cool before cutting into bars, but it's a good idea to score the bars with a knife while they are still warm. It makes cutting through the toffee easier once they are cool.  To score, just gently run the knife through the bars, making them the size you want, but don't actually cut them apart.

If you try these, let me know what you think!!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Bad News Babes

We had a great game last night!  We had a lot of fun and we scored 6 runs (I think it was 6)!  I survived the night without getting hurt or humiliated, so I count that as a personal victory. In my two at-bats, I walked once and got one hit.  One of those times (I can't remember which one) I ended up scoring a run.  In the field, I played center right, and played it tight behind second base.  I stopped several balls from drifting too far into the outfield, and threw one woman out at second.  I caught a fly ball (!!!!), which may seem routine, but with me, you just can't be sure!  As a team we were able to get strings of hits in a couple of the innings (thus the 6 runs), and in the final inning we got the batters out 1 -2 -3!  GO BABES!

Our kids had fun.  Gregory's friend, Grace, made signs for us, and Gregory, Grace and Ruthie were the bat boy and girls.  My favorite part of that was how they kept track of each bat's performance.  As we each got ready to hit, they advised us as to which bats to use, based on which ones were responsible for the most hits in previous at-bats! :)

Monday, June 28, 2010

Baseball Weekend -- Yikes!

This weekend, Gregory had four baseball games.  Most, if not all, of the games were make-up games, because there was so much rain in the Spring.  The weather this weekend was in the high nineties, and in the sun it felt like way over 100!  It was a rough weekend for all of us, but the worst of it came in the final game on Sunday afternoon.

In the top of the last inning, the opposing team was winning by at least 10 runs.  Gregory batted and popped the ball up along the first base line.  He wasn't sure if he should run or not, so he hesitated and then ran.  The ball bounced near him, but he made it to first without being thrown out.  A few seconds later, commotion erupted on the opposing bench, and then before we knew it, the coaches had convinced the umpire (who was a teenager) that Gregory had been hit by the ball and was technically out.  Turns out that Gregory had gotten hit, but there was some question as to whether he was in or out of bounds at the time.  The ump called Gregory out, and he had to make that long, shameful walk from first back to his bench (after he'd been standing safely on first for at least a minute).  When he got to the bench, I happened to be standing there.  Gregory came to me and started crying.  He's generally a tough kid on the field, but this was the end of a long stretch of HOT games (all of which I think they lost), and he was feeling defeated by the entire experience, and was sure that he shouldn't have been called out.  One of his coaches came over and explained to him that he had indeed been hit, and that the out was fair.  The coach encouraged him to shake it off and let it go.  Gregory seemed to do just that.  He grabbed his glove and headed out to the mound to pitch (the inning ended while the coach and I were talking with him).

I, on the other hand, was not able to let it go.  Being true to my Zahniser nature (of being competitive and speaking our minds), I walked to the opposing "dugout" and said to the three coaches standing there, "Couldn't you guys just ease up a little? You're already beating us by 10 runs!"  The main coach responded to me by saying, "We're just trying to coach our kids."  I gave him a dismissive hand, and then turned and walked away.

I'm not sorry that I said something to them, in fact the only thing I'm sorry about is that I didn't say more. If you will indulge me, I'm going to tell you right now what I wish I would've said.  When the coach said, "We're just trying to coach out kids."  I wish I would've responded with,

"You're not coaching, you're trying to micromanage the entire game.  We have an ump, let him do his job.  It's not enough for you that you're beating us soundly, you also have to make sure that some of us are crying?  What kind of men are you?  I would much rather have my kid play on a team that loses more and is coached by three men of integrity, who are competitive, but are also fair, encouraging and compassionate, than to have him play on a team (although a winning one) that is coached by you three yahoos, who feel the need to not only coach, but also umpire the game, and teach your kids that winning at any cost is what matters!  You should be ashamed of yourselves!"  Then I would've turned to the opposing parents (all of whom were actually watching me), and said, "Is this what you want for your kids?"  My walk away would've been triumphant, and I would've basked in the glory of my cool-under-pressure handling of the situation.

Ok, I guess we all know that the truth is that it's probably better that I didn't say anything more than I did.  For one thing, Gregory was unaware that I had spoken at all, and if I'd continued it may have gotten ugly (who knows with those guys?), and that would've been hard to keep from everyone else.  Gregory would've been embarrassed. Secondly, I do feel slightly better just having written the above paragraph about what I wish I had said, and it's possible that I would've felt worse if I had indeed made a bigger scene.  I'm also not sure that my tirade would've taught our team any better of a lesson than the one being taught by the jerks coaching the other team.  So, all in all, now that I think about it.  I probably said just the right amount! I think I got my point across without bringing any embarrassment to myself or any member of my family! :)

I have a post script:  Remember when I said that Gregory seemed to let it go?  Well, Gary told me later that while Gregory was pitching the last inning, he had a scowl on his face that Gary had never seen before.  Gary said he seemed unfazed by the walks he gave up or the strike out and line drive he caught. He continued with the scowl.  Gary asked him about it later, and Gregory said that he was waiting for the kid who played first base to come to the plate.  (He apparently was the one who relayed the message from his coaches to the teenaged umpire that Gregory should be out.)  Gregory said that when he came up to bat, Gregory was planning to hit him with the ball!!  Fortunately, that boy did not bat again! Gary definitely told him that he could not take revenge in that way, and I would've told him that too.  BUT, there was a teensy weensy part of me that said (only to myself, of course), "That's my boy!"  Don't mess with a Zahniser/Pierson -- really don't do it! LOL

Monday, June 21, 2010

My Dear Sweet Middle Child

Yesterday afternoon I had a chance to spend three hours alone with Ruthie, my middle child.  It's a very rare occurrence, and I was so thankful for the chance.  She loves the pool more than anyone in the family, so I took her there.  We played and swam together, and then I sat and read while she went off the diving board over and over.

As the mom of three, I struggle so much with giving each child what he/she needs, individually, while providing what the whole family needs, collectively.  Of my three kids, Ruthie is the least demanding of my time and attention.  She's quiet by nature, and can easily entertain herself for hours.  She doesn't like being the center of attention, and she will often give in to her brother or her sister, in order to avoid conflict.  She's a "typical" middle child.

She is connected to me, though, in a way the other two are not.  When she was little, she was fiercely independent, but never wanted to leave my side.  That might sound paradoxical, but that's exactly how she was.  She chose being with me over almost anything else, but while with me, she often wanted to do things her own way and by herself.  She is now able to leave me without issue, but her loyalty to me is strong.  The thing that I need to remember with her is that she doesn't demand my time, but she needs to know that I'm willing to give it.  She seems content to live in the middle of Gregory, her energetic, out-spoken big brother, and Mary, her cute, entertaining little sister.  But it's days like yesterday when I know the time spent just with her goes a long way toward making her feel special and loved, and maybe makes life in the middle seem that much more ok.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Coffee Liqueur Ice Cream Pie

Last night we had some dear friends for dinner, and I decided to try this new recipe.  It was really delicious.  It was also very easy.  If you're looking for a great summer dessert, I think you should try this.  I called it, "Chocolate Martini in a Pie"!  I certainly love a good chocolate martini (in any form, apparently)!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Oh, to spend time reading...

I love to read!  At any given time I have about 5 books, in my possession, on my reading wish list.  My problem (just like everyone else's, I suppose) is TIME!  I rarely take much time during the day for reading.  I usually read at night when I get in bed, but I'm often too tired to read for very long, and each book takes a long time.  This summer I decided that every time that I have my kids take "rest time" to read, that I will read also (for at least part of the time).  I think it's good for me to give myself that time during the day, and I think it's good for them to see me reading.  Right now I'm reading Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert.  I decided I to read it now, because the movie is coming out this summer.  I'm enjoying it a lot more than I expected.  Please let me know if you've read it and tell me what you thought.  I'd also love to hear from you if you're reading something else.  If you like it, I'll add it to my wish list!

Monday, June 14, 2010

The Bad News Babes

I will not be writing about the Bad News Babes this week.  Yes, it was that bad.  All the things that cause me anxiety going into a game happened tonight.  I obviously survived, but don't want to bore you with the gory details! Maybe next week!

Friday, June 11, 2010

So what if dinner stunk?

I'll tell you so what! I spent two hours fixing it!  I started at 4:30, making homemade BBQ sauce, Neeley style! I made grilled bbq chicken, baked macaroni and cheese (with expensive smoked cheddar), and spinach salad. I did all this while Gary was at work and all three kids were hanging around. In hindsight I would've put on a two hour movie, but I didn't. I made them all play in the basement, and tried to ignore about 80% of the noises drifting up the stairs. Gary got home at his usual 6:30 time, and we were just about ready to sit down and eat. As I was serving the mac n cheese, I tasted it and realized that it tasted like onions, and onions only. I used too many. The onion taste was disappointing to me for two reasons: 1) I don't like onions, and 2) I couldn't even taste the yummy (expensive) smoked cheddar. That mac n cheese took a long time to make, and all I tasted was onion, a taste I don't even like.

Then, when we were all ready to eat, we cut into our chicken and realized it was not done. It was bone-in chicken breast (my favorite for grilling), but the breasts were thick, and I hadn't realized before I took them off the grill that they weren't done all the way through. I was upset, but Gary said it was no big deal and he put them in the microwave for a few minutes. I knew that the microwaving was necessary, but I just couldn't believe that I'd been working on this dinner for two hours. The chicken had a special Neeley rub on it, and then homemade bbq sauce while grilling. It took a long time to prepare and cook, and then there we were -- nuking it! This whole thing brought me to tears. Halfway through dinner I started crying. I know it was unnerving for my kids, but they were very kind and Gary was his usual supportive self, and I got over it.

Later while Gary was getting the kids to bed, and I was cleaning up, I started thinking about why this dinner experience made me cry. What was it, specifically? I'm not that great of a cook, so it's not altogether unusual for me to get to the table and be disappointed by the results. But this night I was devastated. I guess I'm just struggling with the fact that I don't have much in a day that I can point to and say, "I did that, and I did it well." I like doing things well, and there are many days when I feel like I have little to show for giving my very best. I guess as moms (and dads), we can't count our accomplishments in days or even weeks, but more in years. As we watch our kids grow and learn, as we see them become well-functioning members of society -- able to take care of themselves and care about others -- I guess we can say, "I did that (with a lot of help), and I did it well!"

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

The Bad News Babes

Last night I played for the first time on a softball team in a Monday night ladies' league. The name of our team is The Bad News Babes, and it was organized by a friend of a friend. The team is mostly made up of moms with kids around the ages of my kids. I haven't played softball on an organized team in about 20 years, and lest you think I was a real softball player in high school, I'll explain that my experience 20 years ago was on a church ladies' team that was pretty desperate for players, and let me play.

My greatest fear for the evening was complete humiliation. Fortunately my performance was unremarkable in any way -- good or bad -- so total embarrassment was averted. My first time up, I actually doubled, but it was mostly because of a poor throw to first, which allowed me to take an extra base. Gary said (because I asked) that a good throw probably would've gotten me out, but that it would've been close. I like to think that my lightening speed, from home to first, flustered the ball handler so much that she made a bad throw! :) I ended up scoring a run that inning. I only had one other at-bat and that time I popped up, I think in the infield, although I'm not sure because I was busy concentrating on my lightening speed and getting to first! My fielding skills were less than stellar. I played center field. At least one, if not two, balls were hit over my head, and I can definitely use improvement in making a good throw to the correct cut-off person.

The opposing team was much better organized, and for the most part better players. (I was impressed that they were all wearing cleats!) There were times when our team lived up to the name, but we had a great time. It's been a long time since I've been part of a team. It was fun to hang out, and to cheer each other on, and get some exercise!

The best part for me, though, was having my kids there. Gary brought them all to the field. (Bless him!) It made me think about all the hours I've spent watching my kids play sports and cheering for them from the sidelines. Last night it was the other way around, and I think it was a good experience for all of us. They were there with their friends, who also had moms playing, and together the kids cheered for us by name when we were batting. My kids waved to me while I was in the field and gave me thumbs up. (Something I do for them. Last night I realized that they must appreciate it, because they did it back!) And at the end they gave me hugs and high fives, and I felt like they were proud.

The evening was really fun for me. I did something just for me, which provided exercise and social interaction, and I had the complete support of my family. It really doesn't get much better than that!

Monday, June 07, 2010

LOST The End - Part 2

Let me start by saying that Doc Jensen at has a great 2-part recap. I think most of you have read it, but if you haven’t, you should check it out. He is so thoughtful and articulate, and he’s a true fan! Also, I know that by now those of you who care to, have probably found some resolution to LOST, and have thought about it in terms of how it makes sense to you. It was cathartic for me to write this recap, and I hope that you will take from it what works for you, and leave the rest behind. Now that you have had some time to process, I’d love to hear what conclusions you have drawn, not only the finale, but from the series. (BTW, if reading yet another recap feels like overkill to you, then you can stop reading now and I won’t be offended!)

Ok, here we go… the final recap!

I was deeply moved by the statue of Jesus outside the Sideways church. We saw it both at the beginning of the finale, when Kate and Desmond arrived at the church; and also at the end, when Locke’s taxi pulled into the parking lot. It’s a statue of Jesus with his arms spread wide, and on my second watch of the show, it brought me to tears. I thought of the verses in Matthew that say, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (11:28-30) What a journey this has been for Jack and the rest of the Losties. AND what a journey for us, the fans, as we watch Jack’s gripping passage through the heart of the island and out to his final resting place (next to Vincent, the dear sweet companion dog), alternating with the Sideways reunions and Jack’s ability to finally let go and remember! “Come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”

Blessed Redemption

Redemption comes in five forms on the island: forgiving yourself, forgiving others, making sacrifices, finding love, and asking for help. Watching our Losties find redemption through one or more of these paths is really where this entire show has led us. The finale was chock full of great reunions, but it also showed us some glorious redemption stories.

Jack and Sawyer:

The relationship between Jack and Sawyer has been rocky the entire series. The love triangle with Kate, which then became a quadrangle when Juliet entered the picture, provided a lot of tension. The conflict really came to a head, though, when Juliet died. It was Jack’s failed attempt to set off the bomb and effectively change the course of history that led to the events that caused Juliet’s death. When Sawyer brought a dead Juliet from the bottom of the Swan station, he looked straight at Jack with an intense look of anger and said, “You did this.” Sawyer was a man who had changed so much and come so far. He showed that he was willing to sacrifice his own needs for the betterment of the group when he jumped from the helicopter that took the others to rescue. He found love with Juliet. (Remember when we very first saw them as a couple, and Juliet said, “I love you,.”? Were you with me on the edge of your seat, wondering how he would respond? It was our first big glimpse of what a changed man he was, when he smiled his dimpled smile and said, “I love you too.”) Sawyer, who had become a changed man during his time in Dharmaville, was well on the path to redemption when Juliet died and he was sent back into the world of bitterness and anger. I feel, though, that becoming a well-liked head of security and finding love with Juliet wasn’t enough for Sawyer. He and Jack really needed to resolve the issues they had with each other before they could find true redemption.

I wrote in my last, non-finale, recap about the change in Sawyer this season, after the deaths of Jin, Sun and Sayid. He felt responsible for their deaths, and suddenly found himself in the same position as Jack had after Juliet’s death. This is what I wrote, “Sawyer has been so angry with Jack for his mistakes that led to Juliet’s death. Now Sawyer is in a similar position. He made mistakes that led to the deaths of Jin, Sun and Sayid. A suffering Sawyer spoke with Jack and basically said, ‘I killed them didn’t I?’ Jack responded by telling him that MIB had killed them. Redemption comes in many packages, and maybe by experiencing the cost of his own mistakes, Sawyer is able to forgive Jack for the consequences of his errors.”

I think Jack’s gracious response to Sawyer, is an indication of Jack’s own journey to wholeness and redemption. I wrote this last week also, “[Jack] agreed to protect the island, with the wonderful statement, ‘This is why I’m here. This is what I’m supposed to do.’ Jack is stepping back into his leadership position, sacrificing himself for the greater good, but this time he sounds very much like a true man of faith, and not just a man with a Savior complex.” (I’m quoting myself, because it’s a lot easier than trying to figure out a way to say basically the same stuff in a different way.) The relationship between Sawyer and Jack was healed through each man’s ability to forgive himself, to forgive each other and to make truly altruistic sacrifices. The last island scene between the two of them was beautifully heart-breaking for me. Jack: “Good luck to you, James.” Sawyer: “Thanks, Doc…. For everything.” Oh, I could cry right now.

Ben and Hurley (and a little bit of Locke):

I was talking with my parents recently about Ben’s story and his chance for true redemption through his relationship with Hurley, and I seriously got choked up. Although Ben has never been my favorite character, I have always felt deeply sorry for him. His story is such a sad one with his mother’s death at his birth and his father’s inability to get past it. Ben’s anger toward his father (who, in weak moments, would even blame Ben for his mother’s death), led Ben to be vulnerable to the influence of others. He seemed to be in calculated control, but I think he was mostly a puppet on the island stage, with others (including MIB) pulling his strings. The violence we see in him came from a place of rejection, insecurity and bitterness. (I’m not saying that violence is ever justified, but we can see where it stems from in Ben, and can recognize his stumbling blocks for finding reconciliation and peace.)

During the finale, in the scenes with Jack, Hurley and Ben at the heart of the island, we got a chance to see Ben’s true nature, and how antithetical it was to his most prominent personality on the island. When Jack was looking for a cup from which Hurley could drink to become the new protector, Ben was the one who had a water bottle and offered it to Jack. When I watched that scene the 2nd time, I was struck with the fact that Ben knew what was happening. He knew that Jack was choosing Hurley to take Jack’s place as protector, and Ben was willing to facilitate that exchange. He wasn’t angry that Jack hadn’t chosen him. Ben’s willingness to help Hurley become the protector, put Ben in the position of being asked to be Hurley’s advisor. I’m honestly crying now as I write this.
Hurley: “What the hell am I supposed to do?”
Ben: “I think you do what you do best. Take care of people.”
H: “Will you help me? I could really use someone with, like, experience…for a little while. Would you help me, man?”
B: “I’d be honored.”
H: “Cool.”
(The words on paper just don’t do justice to that scene and the power of the actors’ performances and the impact of their words to each other.)

It was so beautiful, because even in leadership, Hurley was honest and vulnerable. And Ben… Ben finally received all he had ever wanted: to be respected and needed. Ben wasn’t necessarily looking to be in charge. He just wanted to be needed. Jacob’s “What about you, Ben?” was the culmination of his perceived failure on the island, and it destroyed him in a way that only Hurley’s “Will you help me?” could restore him.

My hope is that Hurley and Ben had a wonderful ride on the island, doing things Hurley’s way (Ben: “That’s how Jacob ran things. Maybe there’s another way. A better way.”) Maybe their redemption story continues through their time on the island. We know that in the end they had a great run. Hurley (to Ben outside Sideways church), "You know, you were a real good #2." Ben, "You were a great #1, Hugo."

The scene at the end of the episode between Sideways Ben and Sideways Locke was also a wonderful one. Ben apologized to Locke for what he did to him. Locke responded with, “If it helps, Ben, I forgive you.” Ben replied, “Thank you, John. That does help. It matters more than I can say.” This scene seemed as much a reflection of Locke’s redemption story as it was of Ben’s. Poor Locke died before he really had a chance to feel redeemed – to feel loved, and forgiven. What he didn’t realize, this side of Sideways World, was the fact that his death (and therefore his sacrifice) was what brought the Oceanic Six back to the island to redeem themselves and come back to meet him. Locke did not die in vain.

Kate and Claire (and a little bit of Charlie):

Kate’s redemption story started way back in Season 1 when Jack learned that she was the fugitive and didn’t care. We should’ve known then that these two were destined to be together! Their love saved them both. But I don’t think Kate’s story is nearly complete without Claire (and, actually, MIB). It was MIB, as Christian, who lured Claire away from her baby. This decision was what forced Kate into motherhood, and this motherhood is what truly saved her. Kate’s redemption came not in mothering Aaron, but rather in making the sacrifice to leave him and return to the island to get Claire. Kate found redemption in sacrifice and in positioning herself to offer help to Claire in the end. (Kate to Claire: “You’re not alone. Let me help you.”)

Claire’s story started long ago with Charlie. Their love is what saved them both also. In each other, they found love and acceptance and beautiful peace from two very rocky lives. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the Sideways revelations started with Charlie’s glimpse of Claire, because I think the redemption stories on the island started with Charlie’s and Claire’s gentle and tender love for each other, and for Aaron. (Remember when Charlie died in the Looking Glass station, and in that exact moment Aaron started crying on the island? Ok, I’m getting choked up again…)

Jin and Sun:

The story of Jin and Sun is pure brilliance, in my opinion. I think it’s the perfect example of the LOST story: we thought we understood a character, and then the more we learned about his or her story, the more we realized that nothing was really as it seemed. In the beginning, we thought that Jin was an overbearing tyrant, and Sun was his sweet, dutiful wife. Then we learned that it was Sun’s father that turned Jin into this man (against his true nature), and THEN we learned that Sun knowingly set Jin up to be treated this way by her father. Sun borrowed money to pay off Jin’s mother, who said that Jin was born of a prostitute. Sun didn’t want the truth to come out about Jin, so she willingly put Jin in her father’s service to pay off the debt. Their love changed, as Jin became a person HE didn’t even like, and Sun had an affair, learned English, planned to leave him, etc. Their story was like an onion, peeling back the layers revealed more and more story and a deeper understanding of each character.

On the island, Jin and Sun were given a chance to get back to the people they were when they first fell in love. In their pre-island existence, they had eventually gotten to a place where they took each other for granted. They found each other again on the island (figuratively), and ironically for the last two seasons, they were each on a constant search for the other (literally). Their reunion was beautiful and their deaths were tragic, but their redemption was complete.

Making Sense of Sideways World


The reunions were amazing! Didn’t you think? The enhanced version of the finale said, “People remember their island experiences when they are near death, or experience a moment of true love.”

It was great to see Juliet again, and her presence was important to the awakenings of Jin and Sun. To see their story played out in a montage of pictures was a tear-jerker for me. As I mentioned above, their reunion was beautiful and their deaths were tragic, but here they were together in Sideways world ready to move forward. (BTW, I loved it when Juliet described the baby’s heartbeat as, “perfectly perfect in every way.”)

In the Sideways world, there seemed to be a certain aspect of suspension of reality. It was hard to believe that Jack would ask Claire to move in with him after knowing each other a few days, especially when his son was living there. Also, on my first watch of the show, I had a really hard time with the fact that Kate was delivering Claire’s baby, instead of just calling 911. In retrospect, though, I realize that in this world things happen the way they need to in order to allow people the remember and let go. I think what I said earlier about the fact that Kate and Claire were crucial to each other’s redemption story is reflected in their Sideways reunion. They weren’t having a near death experience, it was a moment of true love! It was their love for Aaron, and for each other, that helped them to remember. The subsequent reunion of Claire, Charlie and Aaron was also truly beautiful to watch. (And that reminds me of Hurley’s reaction to Charlie when he first saw him at the motel. Hurley had that lovably goofy grin, and Charlie said, “Who are you and why are you grinning like a sorry idiot?” Good stuff!)

I was surprised that Sayid did not end up with Nadia. Do you remember when Sayid was talking with Flocke outside the Temple, and he said that the woman he loved had died in his arms? Maybe he was referring to Shannon? I don’t think so, but maybe. It seems like a little hiccup in the LOST story telling to me, but I think I can live with it. I loved what Hurley said to Sayid in the Sideways world. “You can’t let other people tell you what you are, dude. You have to decide that for yourself.” Sayid’s story was a sad one, in my opinion, but he was able to prove (hopefully to himself) what a good guy he truly was, when he took the bomb off the sub. It was good to see him find peace at the end (even if it was with Shannon)!

I loved the Sideways Juliet! She was the sweet Juliet from pre-island life, except this time she seemed happy and confident. Her reunion with Sawyer was every bit as wonderful as I had been anticipating (“It worked. We should get coffee sometime. We can go dutch.”) Juliet had such a pained expression on her face as she remembered her own heart-wrenching death, and I loved Sawyer’s response of, “It’s me, baby. I gotcha. I gotcha, baby.”

Jack was that last to let go. The Man of Science needed a lot of enlightening moments in order to believe (Locke, Kate, the coffin…). Through his conversation with his father, we were all given the chance to really understand. In that moment, we learned that they were all dead. After an emotional embrace, Christian explains things to Jack:
1) Everything is real.
2) Some of them died before Jack, some of them long after, and there is no “now”.
3) The Sideways world is a place that they all made together so they would be able to find one another.
4) The most important time of their lives were the times they spent together.
5) Chrisian,“Noone does it alone, Jack. You needed all of them and they needed you.” Jack, “For what?” Christian, “To remember and let go.”
6) They aren’t leaving, they are moving on.

More Sideways Stuff:

I loved that the Sideways world had a positive focus on family. Many of the parent issues were resolved. Miles, Ben and Daniel all had good relationships with their fathers (and Daniel with his mother, too). Jack found peace in the relationship with his son. I’m a little confused about Locke and Anthony Cooper, but my sense is that Anthony was such a bad guy in the real world, that he is left in a vegetative state in the Sideways world and will never be able to move on.

Some, like Daniel, were not ready, and so they didn’t move on. We don’t’ know all of Eloise’s story, but she somehow found redemption with Daniel and is living as his mother in Sideways LA. She is not ready to lose him, and I think that is why she didn’t want Desmond to find Penny and move on. At the concert, she asked Des if he was taking Daniel. I think that the characters not in the church at the end, are building a Sideways world with other people. They will move on together. The reason Ben didn’t go in, was because he now remembers Alex and must help Alex and Danielle to join him in their own process of moving on.

Other Randoms Ideas:

*I loved it when Flocke told Jack that he was, “sort of the obvious choice” for protector of the island. It was another great example the writers’ using the characters on LOST to express things that the fans have been saying. Jack did seem like the obvious choice, but the writers threw a twist when it was actually Hurley who became the protector (presumably for a long time).

*Six Losties left on the Aijira plane that left the island. We now have the Aijira 6 – Kate, Claire, Richard, Miles, Sawyer and Frank!

*I’m wondering if Flocke had gotten off the island, then maybe the evil would’ve won and the people in the Sideways world never would’ve remembered, or been able to let go and move on. Their fight to stop him was not only a fight for survival on the island, but also a fight for eternal survival and release from the in-between (sideways) world. They were able to defeat Smokey because of their connections to each other. Out of conflict grew deep love and respect. They worked together to find redemption and save themselves.

*I believe that there are many answers to be found amid all the seasons of LOST. I think if we look and try to fit some of the pieces together we’ll get some of the answers we seek. I have a few theories of my own, but they will have to wait for another note. And if you ever find yourself rewatching LOST and having an “aha” moment, please share it with me!

Lines I loved (for various reasons):

* Jack to Flocke, “You’re not John Locke. You disrespect his memory by wearing his face, but you’re nothing like him.”

*Kate to Charlie, “Thank you!” Charlie, “It’s just a blanket.”

*Sawyer, “Son of a bitch!” (about 20 times!!)

*Hurley to Jack, “I believe in you, Dude.” Jack to Hurley (later), “Hurley, I believe in you.”

*Kate to Flocke, “I saved you a bullet!”

*Jin and Sun to Sawyer, “We’ll see you there.”

*Kate to Jack, “You can come with us too, Jack. You don’t have to do this... Let the island sink, Jack.” Jack, "I can't."

*Miles, “I don’t believe in a lot of things, but I do believe in duct tape.”

*Jack to Desmond, “I’ll see you in another life, Brotha.”

Parting Thoughts:

Thank you, thank you, thank you for taking this journey with me. It's been a great run. I'm going to miss LOST for the characters and story, for the constant speculation into the meaning of every word, number and literary reference, and for the interaction with you. Please let me know your thoughts!!


Thursday, June 03, 2010

Yummy dream bars & chocolate cherry mocha cookies

Dream Bars
This is the combination of about three different recipes, and has also been amended after a not-so-great trial run.

1 cup butter
4 cups graham cracker crumbs
2 cups toasted coconut (see below)
2 cups semi sweet chocolate chips
1 cup butterscotch chips
1 can sweetened condensed milk (or 2)

Melt the butter. Mix in graham crackers. Press into the bottom of a Pam-sprayed 9 x 13 pan. Sprinkle chocolate and butterscotch chips over the graham cracker mix. Sprinkle toasted coconut on top of chips. Pour sweetened condensed milk over everything. (If you like really gooey dream bars, use two cans sweetened condensed milk). Bake for about 20 minutes at 325.

How to toast coconut:
Put a thin layer of coconut on a cookie sheet. Bake for about 20 minutes at 300. Mix every so often to even toasting.

Chocolate Cherry Mocha Cookies (1/2 Batch)

This recipe originally used red wine instead of espresso. I made it with the red wine, but didn't like it much, so I tried it with espresso and liked it a lot more. This is a really rich cookie! :)

3/4 cup flour
1/4 cup + 2T cocoa powder
1/2 t salt
1/2 t baking soda
4 T butter
1/4 cup + 2 T sugar
1/2 cup + 2T brown sugar
2T slightly beaten egg
1/2 t vanilla
1/4 cup espresso or strong coffee
1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips (I used Ghirardelli 60% Cacao)
1/2 cup dried cherries, cut in half

Preheat oven 375. In small bowl, mix flour, cocoa, salt and baking soda. Set aside. In mixer, cream butter with sugars. Add egg and vanilla. Mix well. Add 1/2 dry mixture and then 1/2 the espresso. Mix until just combined. Add the rest of the dry and the rest of the espresso. Mix until just combined. Drop on ungreased cookie sheet and bake 8-10 minutes.

Help me, I'm technologically illiterate!

I have a twitter account, and I'll admit it right here, it's been so long since I've used it, I can't remember how (I just tried!). This is how awful my technological savvy has become! Apparently, being out of the work place for 9 years leads to a lot of technology passing me by. I don't have a lap top or a phone with which I can check my email. I have no idea how to give a presentation using power point, and I'm going to have to ask Gary, when he gets home tonight, how to tweet again!

Right now, as I'm writing this blog, Ruthie brought me a card she made for me, and this is what is said, "Dear Mom, Thank you for being such a good mom. I love your help! Love, Ruthie p.s. your the best!" (I am dead serious when I tell you that I was writing the first paragraph of this post when Ruthie handed me this card.)

So there you have it. There's my struggle! I can't do power point, but I read love notes from my kids in the middle of the day. I guess when I need to, I'll learn what I have to about computer programs and twitter accounts. For now I'll try to be thankful for each day I have with these precious kids. I have a feeling that by the time I become more savvy in the world of technology, Ruthie will be at the age where she'll want to pretend she doesn't know me! LOL

Thursday, May 27, 2010

LOST The End - Part 1

(I’m going to post this in two parts. I have a lot more to say, but I think I should get some stuff out there so we can discuss!)

It’s really hard to know how to write this note. I’m struggling with the organization of it, because there’s so much to think about and discuss. I loved the finale. In the end, the story came down to the characters, their relationships with each other, and our emotional attachment to them. I know there are those who did not walk away satisfied, but to me, the ending felt right. I laughed (Miles believes in duct tape, if nothing else!) and I cried (all those “reunions”, Jack's heroic death, etc.)! I left with a feeling of satisfaction, even though I also felt a sense of confusion about what I had just experienced. The following note is my attempt at making some sense of the show, while respectfully being in awe of the writers and their ability to make me feel the way I do about this entire experience. For those of you who feel differently and were not satisfied with the ending, I will quote Doc Jensen in saying, “Your experience of Lost is your experience of Lost, and it is valid.” It’s ok, if you don’t agree with me about the ending, and I would love to hear from you.

As I get distance from the emotional experience of the finale, I start thinking more and more about all the questions I had that never got answered (and, yes, I've watched that video!). I’m a little disappointed, but I also realize that I can continue to try to put the pieces together. Now I know that I’ll never get definitive answers to my theories, but I love that I can continue to think about things that have happened, and try to make sense of them, in light of knowing how it all ends. I will keep doing that and share with you my continuing thoughts and feelings.

Part of my experience with the finale was also thinking about how these characters and their lives have an influence on me. I think about the general concepts of redemption and eternity and how they relate to me. I think about friendship and love and the people that I would be searching to connect with in my Sideways reality (the one that, as Christian so beautifully put it, I will build together with my dear ones). But I also can’t help but think about the people, like you, that I’ve connected with, either for the first time or more deeply, because of LOST! One of my FB friends put on her status something about feeling partly sad that she didn’t watch LOST and then remembering that b/c she didn’t, she had 120 more hours to do other things. I laughed out loud – only 120 hours? I’ve probably spent at least 120 hours, of non-show-watching time, just discussing LOST with other people. I am blessed, because what a great group of people we are! I wouldn’t trade the time spent pondering, discussing, asking questions, and theorizing about LOST for just about anything. It’s been a great journey, and I’m honored that we're enjoying this ride together!

Overarching Theory of LOST

I’m going to start with my thoughts on the overarching theme of LOST and what I believe to be the reality of the situation. I believe that everything that happened, before the Sideways flashes started, really happened. The original Oceanic flight crashed on the island, full of people who needed redemption, including the lottery-winning numbered candidates. In an attempt to find his replacement, Jacob brought many people over the years to the island. He brought them in groups, so that they could have a choice about whether to take the job of protector or not. He didn't have a choice, and free will is important to him. (Remember when Jacob told Richard, "Why should I have to get involved?" I read somewhere that it was Richard who convinced Jacob that he had to take a more active role in order to help the candidates destroy the MIB. Maybe that's why he started the special touches, the lists, etc. -- anyway, I digress!)

The people Jacob brought were flawed. Jacob told Richard that he brought people to the island to prove the MIB wrong in his theory about the nature of man. I think what Jacob meant was that he believes people can find redemption, through change in their own hearts, and through the work of other people (more later). Jacob told Sawyer that he brought them there because they needed the island as much as it needed them. Yes, the island needs a protector for the light (that Mother said is in all of us), and Jacob needed to find people who could figure out how to kill the MIB (since Jacob couldn’t do it himself). But the island also provided an opportunity for people to become who they needed to be in order to go from individually living in their real AND Sideways lives, to collectively moving to the next life.

When the Oceanic 6 left the island, they really had no choice but to go back. They each had unfinished business. Locke was right when he told Jack that he wasn’t supposed to leave. And this season, when Sawyer talked about getting off the island, Jack said that he would not leave, because he remembered how he felt during his time back in LA. Jack became enlightened to the fact that he had a purpose on the island, and to do anything but fulfill it would be unsuccessful.

When the Oceanic 6 returned to the island, they were given a second chance to get things right, which we know they did, because they were all present at the church. They turned their focus from surviving, to finding each other and working together to do what needed to be done (which ended up being many things). Jacob brought them to there to protect the light, figure out how to kill MIB, and to give themselves and each other the opportunity for redemption.

Jacob told MIB that it only ends once and everything else is just progress. I believe now that the progress he refers to is what happens AFTER it ends. People die, and those that have found redemption will be reunited with those who are most important to them and then move on. Christian told Jack that some of the people in the church had died before him and some long after. Christian also said, "The most important time of your life was the time you spent with these people. Nobody does it alone, Jack. You needed all of them and they needed you." The church sanctuary was full of the people who were most important to, and who helped each other along in, the redemptive process. The “progress” that Jacob refers to is the process of finding each other and moving forward. There’s only one ending, but then the journey begins!

I love the idea of finding myself, after death, in a place where I can reunite with those that I love, and then enter Heaven together. Doesn’t that sound glorious?

(I have many more theories, and much more to write about, but I want to start with this: my reaction to the finale, and my ideas about the main story line. I've started writing about redemption, Desmond, some religious stuff, and Eloise. I’ll post more as I get it done. Let me know what you thought about the finale and what you think about these ideas.)