Soup’s on!

You might be thinking that my blog has been a little dull lately because I’m so sleep deprived, I’m spending so much time wrapping up the school year, I’m busy working on my taxes or I’m tackling the 21 loads of dirty laundry in this house.

And that would make sense.
But actually, I’ve been spending all of my waking moments lately trying to think of recipes that involve canned goods so I can use the empty cans, making artwork out of beans and playing with PhotoShop. And that can only mean one thing.
I’m busy planning a women’s event at my church.
This event is going to be amazing. It’s called “Souper Saturday”, and we will be blessed to hear from three ordinary women who have faced extraordinary circumstances this past year. I have a feeling that God is going to be moving in some hearts on Saturday night, and I’m privileged to get to be part of the planning process.
But I’m a detail person, so I get excited about putting together all the little touches at the last minute. You know how much I love a theme and a color scheme.
And since I can’t keep a secret, and I’m bursting with excitement, here’s a sneak peek at what I’ve been up to the past few days.
I’m hoping it will be souper.

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Lost: Happily Ever After

I’m feeling a little bit like Desmond right now. I have a glimpse of what the writers of Lost are telling us. I can touch it with my fingertips, but then it slips out of reach. I have a vague idea of what I want to say, but I can’t quite articulate it.
This episode felt like a whirlwind of new information, and all of it is swirling around in my brain. We got so many new clues, the characters started having lightbulb moments, and it finally felt like the writers might really be trying to wrap this thing up.
Let’s start with Desmond and the experiment Widmore was performing on him. We know that Desmond has a special purpose on the island and now we know that is because he is the one person who can withstand the energy of the island without being fried like a death row inmate in an electric chair.
The experiment seems to put Desmond back in the same state where we found him several seasons ago after the first time he came in contact with the energy of the island. He is flashing back and forth from one reality to the other without the ability to comprehend what is happening to him.
This time, Charlie, in all of his crazed determination to kill himself, seems to be the one person who gets it. He gives us a tiny explanation of the bigger message of the show. If the passengers on Oceanic 815 were being pushed to the island against their will, what is free will anyway? As Charlie explained to Desmond, sometimes a choice isn’t really a choice.
If the benefits of going one direction are clearly better than the alternative, then is it really a choice? But Charlie is finally ready to make the unreasonable choice.
He would rather die to experience what he had on the island then make the reasonable choice to go on living in this new reality that they created. He even seems determined to kill himself in the same way that he died before by forcing Desmond to drive his car into the Ocean.
Daniel shows up and explains that he has a perception that they got to a point where they all had to make the ultimate choice. Would they sacrifice themselves and do something completely unthinkable for the greater good?
When the Losties set off the nuclear bomb, they also seemed to have pushed a reset button on their lives. Now, they have attained the one thing they thought they always wanted. For Desmond, that would be the approval of Charles Widmore. When Eloise told Desmond that he finally had what he always wanted, I felt like she had somehow given him a “perfect” life so that he wouldn’t be unsatisfied and start looking for what was missing.
Both Eloise and Widmore keep reminding Desmond that his life is “perfect” — perfect job, no commitments, gets to travel the world — but he is lacking the excitement, joy and even the pain of his previous life with Penny.
It was great to see the lives of so many of the characters starting to intertwine off island: Desmond, Charlie, Jack, Charles Widmore, Eloise, Daniel, George Minkowski and Claire. Didn’t you love Jack’s look of disbelief when Desmond told him he was looking for a patient who was on the flight with the two of them?
Minkowski, by the way, shares with Desmond the past experience of having his mind travel through time, eventually resulting in his death on the freighter in the arms of Desmond. I wonder if George also was starting to get a glimpse of that other life when he told Desmond he would do whatever he needed him to do.
The characters are starting to remember what was and what would have been if they hadn’t set off that nuclear bomb. Charlie saw Claire. Desmond saw the message on Charlie’s hand and then Penny. Daniel saw Charlotte.
Only Eloise and Charles Widmore seem to be aware of what is happening in both of their parallel existences. So, does that make them more powerful than Jacob and the Man in Black. Are they controlled by the forces on the island? Or is the island controlled by them? Or maybe they ARE Jacob and the Man in Black. Who knows.
I think they wanted to make sure that Desmond did not reconnect with Penny because she was his constant and will be again. And the same is probably true of Daniel and Charlotte. As soon as Desmond and Penny made physical contact by touching hands, his mind flashed back to his island existence.
On the island, he seems to no longer care about making choices or trying to decide what to do. His eyes have glazed and he is content to go where he is told to go and do what he is told to do, without questioning or fighting.
First, he agrees to help Widmore, but as soon as Sayid comes along, he follows him. I’m not sure if he has accepted his mission, if he has a new sense of faith and is following along, or if he has completely lost his mind.
Off-island, Desmond wants to locate everyone else on that flight. I’m guessing that each of them also has a constant and once they find it, they will be able to remember their other life. Charlie will find Claire. Jack will find Kate. Sawyer will find Juliet. And then what?
Before it seemed that their other life, the one “controlled” by the island, was full of pain and misery and needed to be changed. But at the same time, they found something on the island —whether it was love, a purpose, a leadership role, a mission, or health.
Without the island, they supposedly have free will. For many of them, their other lives seem more pleasant, but at the same time mundane. It’s as if they have gained security, but given up a life of adventure. Which is better?
The nuclear bomb apparently is some type of loophole to Eloise’s statement that “what happened, happened.” But now that they changed what happened, will they leave it that way? Or will they be able to change it back? Or will they be able to re-create the relationships they left on the island in their alternate reality?
I can’t believe we only have five more episodes to figure it all out.

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Easter Sunday

I hope you all had a wonderful Easter Sunday. We were at home this Easter with just our family. I was kind of bummed that we weren’t able to get together with extended family, but it’s nice to be home sometimes on the holidays, too.
It turned out to be a good day. We had a great church service, then an Easter egg hunt in the back yard. Some friends came by in the evening. They are missionaries, and we got to see all of their photos of life in India. The kids thought that was AWESOME!
Instead of Easter baskets and candy, I got each of the kids a LEGO game. They have been playing with them non-stop!
Here are some photos:
Don’t ask me why they wanted to wear those helmets. They had visited their uncle the day before and he is a firefighter. They have been wearing helmets ever since.

Not loving the cereal, but we keep trying!

This photo is so you can check out her little bracelet. A friend gave her that when she was born. Too cute.

The signature headband. It’s the perfect low-maintenance hair style!

The kids had fun finding eggs and of course, decided to hide them several more times afterward.

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It’s alive

There’s something I’ve been meaning to tell you all for a while now. I’ve been keeping it a secret because I wasn’t sure how it would affect our imaginary relationship.

You see. When I was in the third grade, I developed this strange belief that everything had life. Straws. Napkins. Milk cartons. Candy wrappers.

I pretended to collect these things for a perfectly good reason. Ummm. Because every third-grade girl needs her own collection of candy bar wrappers? Because I was making a pretend telephone by stretching drinking straws out the window to the neighbor’s house?

Afraid to discard any of these objects and hurt their feelings, I stuffed them in my desk at school. I pushed them behind my dresser in my room. I piled them under my bed. All of this continued until my usually mild-mannered third-grade teacher had enough of my messy desk.

She dumped it. That’s right. She tilted my desk on its side and dumped out all of the contents to reveal to the entire class a mountain of used straws, napkins and other paper goods. Clearly, she did not share my belief that any of these items had life.

And I have decided to finally come clean with this story to ask you this: Do I seem like a good candidate to own a batch of Friendship Bread starter?

My rational side is very excited on Day 7 that I am a few days away from baking my first loaf of Friendship Bread and slicing into its warm goodness.

But I have to admit that when my friend handed over the bag of starter, my former wrapper-collecting self was trying to hide a little panic. What if I failed to divide and then pass on the starter?

I mean, most of the plants in this household are down to only one green leaf. The dirty clothes are piled 3-feet high above the rims of the laundry baskets. I haven’t mopped the kitchen floor in more than a month. I’m not exactly keeping up with things over here.

If I didn’t pass on the starter, would I be subjected to seven years of bad luck?

My mind started racing. We love bread. So, I could just keep the bags of starter and make more bread. And more. And more.

I was practicing my math facts as fast as my sleep-deprived brain could multiply. Four bags of starter times 4 would make 16 bags. Sixteen times four is 64. Sixty-four times 4 is 256. Oh man. This stuff is multiplying faster than a family of bunnies in my flowerbed.

I’m going to have so many bags of starter on my counter, I might have to give them names. But the alternative was unthinkable: Throw them away?

At first, that option didn’t sound so bad. But that was before I reached Day 6 and added the cup of milk, flour and sugar.

Just mushing the bag for a few minutes a day up until that point seemed simple enough. I could remember that. But once I put in the extra ingredients, I had no doubt this bag of stuff on my counter was in fact alive.

It was gurgling. It was churning in there. I had to open the top a little to release its gas. I am 90 percent sure that I did indeed hear it hiss. I kid you not.

I asked my friends on Facebook if it was really safe to leave a mixture containing milk sitting out on my counter for days. And then adding more milk and dividing it to give to my “friends”. Was this a secret plot to use a so-called Amish tradition to annihilate the human race? Had I become nothing more than a pawn in a foreign nation’s trick to use food poisoning to knock out American households one by one in the name of friendship?

I was shocked at the wide-ranging opinions that were coming in. Apparently, people have VERY strong feelings about Friendship Bread. It is either something to be loved, cared for and doused with chocolate chips. Or it is a gift to be loaved… I mean loathed.

One thing was for sure. It is not something to take lightly, like Facebook, where you go around befriending every person you vaguely recall from high school or your waitressing job in college. Before you pass along Friendship Bread starter, you better know your friend and be darned sure she isn’t going to toss that bag of fermenting goo in the garbage while cursing your name as you leave the house.

I’m not sure where I stand on Friendship Bread at this point. I have been wanting to start baking my own bread so I’m hoping I will like it, despite my reservations about unknown numbers of strangers who have added their portions of milk, flour and sugar to the bag that now lives in my kitchen.

But, I’m not sure what I will do with all of the starter it creates. At some point, my counter top will be too full to collect any more starter and I will have to make the awful choice of whether to risk a friendship by passing it on, or be haunted by its gaseous groan if I throw it in the garbage.

One thing is for sure. My bread is scheduled to rise in the oven on Easter Sunday. And really? How can that be a coincidence?

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I missed that chapter

When Baby #4 and I went to visit the doctor one week after her birth, he asked me how it was going.

“Well, it’s so much easier with my fourth,” I said. “At least I kind of know what I’m doing.”

Back with the first child, I read all the books about how to get a baby to sleep. I learned all about getting a baby on a good schedule as early as possible. I knew how to be tough and let a baby cry, if necessary, to teach her how to soothe herself to sleep.

I was making some progress with the newborn. Then, we hit five weeks. She had been more of a spitter than my others since birth. But as I anxiously awaited the end of the crabby stage that always hits at 6 weeks, she was getting fussier than ever.

We had made progress reaching four- and five-hour stretches of sleep, but seemed to be going backward. The spitting was turning into puking after every feeding.

At 3 months, I expected a growth spurt. I wasn’t ready for a week-long, round-the-clock, every-two-hour demand for nursing.

And now that we’ve hit four months, I’ve basically thrown away all of the books. Because they didn’t write a chapter about this.

Instead of doubling her birth weight at the 4-month visit, Babycake weighed in at 11 pounds, 7 ounces this month. The doctor actually gave me a little worried look because she had dropped down to the 15th percentile for weight. And his very conservative “breastmilk until 6 months approach” changed to, “let’s try to get her to eat cereal three times a day.” Starting now.

We’re not sure why she’s spitting up so much of what she’s consuming. It could be an allergy to something in my diet. Or she might grow out of it after we get her going on the cereal.

Until then, I’ve stopped worrying about the books and everything I learned with the other kids. She doesn’t have a sleep schedule. She is up basically every two hours all night long. She doesn’t nap well. And I think she’s spitting up so much of what she consumes that’s she simply hungry.

She’s a super sweet, smiley baby when she’s fed and her tummy doesn’t hurt. She’s started laughing out loud. She makes spitting noises at us to get our attention. She rolls up on her sides and scoots on her back to try to get what she wants. She’s reaching all of her milestones.

But when she cries, I hold her. When she chews her hand, I feed her. Even if it hasn’t been three hours. Even when the books say not to.

And that’s OK. Because I did learn one thing from being a mom of three other kids. I will blink, and she will be 9 years old. This time will be over before I know it.

I feel like I have no book knowledge on how to help her or what to do next. I’m going purely on that mommy gut instinct at this point, and thankfully, that’s one thing I have now that I couldn’t get from a book.

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