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