Wednesday, November 30, 2011

a ministry opportunity!

Hey, want to go serve the poor in India? You can't? You're busy? Okay, what if we send this kid instead:


http://www.grouprev.com/india2011mbringard

Every little bit helps!

poorly written movie moments: part one

A young man boards a packed airplane on his way home for Thanksgiving, and right before the plane is scheduled to take off, a beautiful young woman sits down in his row. There's an empty seat between them, even though the flight is supposedly sold out. They start chatting and find that they have a lot in common, including their strong faith, the fact that they live in the southeast and are moving to Orange County in a couple of weeks, and countless other small things. They find out that the plane is delayed by hours, and the pilot invites everyone to exit the plane to get food. They go together. 


Nine hours later, they are both in Orange County and in love. One flight attendant says that in her 25 years at the job, she's never seen such an instant and powerful connection between strangers. When they get home, he takes her to meet his family, then she takes him to her family. They profess love and a desire to marry. All within five days.


Gag me, right? If I saw this in a movie, I would think the writers were lazy and idiotic. But this is totally what happened to the guy who was sitting next to us on our flight home from California. He talked about how his family would usually be skeptical about something like this, but they were completely on board when they met her. He told us that just three days before meeting her, he was on his knees before God, expressing his strong desire to have a wife, questioning when he'd meet her, wishing for a sign that God was listening. Amazing.


Life is truly sometimes cheesier than fiction. More examples to come from my own life, and I'd love to know if you have any too, Lobsters.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Regeneration Trees #1

I have a particular long distance friend, perhaps my friendship that crosses the longest distance. Bekah lives in Hong Kong. We were roommates for a year. After that year, she moved to Cairo and we have only seen each other one time since then. We don't stay in touch too frequently. To be honest, sometimes it hurts to have found a connection so deep in our souls and to have been so fully present with one another for a season and to have that bond stretched apart. We go about our lives impacted by one another but uninvolved in one another's day to day. But so it goes with friendships. To everything there is a season.


Bekah is a great many things. She is a biologist, wife, historian, mother, linguist, mother, prayer warrior. And she is perhaps most simply described as a woman of influence. We had one of these rare opportunities lately to reconnect when she was state-side. Our time zones aligned and a phone call was uniquely possible. She shared about a vision she has for raising support in the fight against human trafficking. She called on me to support her and participate in this vision. She wants to have an art auction to raise awareness and funds.


For this art auction, she, a gifted painter, wants to take slices out of tree trunks as canvases. The image she wishes to evoke is of the death and brokenness that comes to nature, and how nature, trees, are capable of regenerating life after fire or being cut down. Similarly, women broken through kidnapping, sex trafficking, dehumanizing oppression have hope for regeneration of their own broken lives. It is a unique body of imagery to explore in Hong Kong as this urban city center is not full of much greenery.


I on the other hand,  I effectively live in a forest. I am surrounded by trees. So she charged me to venture out, camera in hand, and to capture this somewhat vague idea through what the trees or the Spirit revealed to me.


How invigorating to have this artistic challenge. To have a visionary calling on my skill. Inspired, I saw the trees around me in a new way as I took my daily walks. What an interesting challenge in this season in particular. At a time when the trees seem to sparkle, and die, to be dormant for months. But I know and I can trust that they will come back to life, springing forth their enduring force once again. Those that do not will give way to life for others by making way for light to come through and nourishing the soil.


And so begins a series I would like to share with you, Lobsters, the "Regeneration Trees." I plan on this being an ongoing project, as her art show will not be for some time. So as I go along, I will share some of my images and reflections with you. As I do, if you are interested, here is a great site where you can learn more about human trafficking and what you can do about it: Not For Sale, started and lead by David Batstone, a fellow Westmont alumnus I had a chance to meet a few years back.


Here's Regeneration Trees shot #1:




With Bekah's prompt in mind, and my camera in hand, I came across this tree on a walk with Sofia. Even in their burst of color, I feel like these leaves look sad and droopy. I was struck by the idea of how women dragged through this torture are dressed up to dazzle, and yet, inside they are consumed by darkness.


Stay tuned for more.





Monday, November 28, 2011

Movie Review Monday #28: Parenthood

First of all, I briefly considered writing a vague yet outrageously positive review about The Muppet Movie this week even though I haven't seen it yet. I'm absolutely certain I'm going to love it, so why not? Because that would be deceptive, that's why not. I'll write a real review of it soon though. Okay, on to Parenthood.


Parenthood is not a movie. Well, check that, it is a 1989* film starring Steve Martin. But this review is about the TV show. Its first two seasons stream on Netflix, and Jeff and I are basically in love with it. Here's why:


1. I love Lauren Graham. I think I've said that before. I'll probably say it again.
2. The writing on this show is so freaking natural. I feel like there must be some improvisation because they talk over each other and interrupt one another in such a real way. Also, for the most part, it's not predictable. Something doesn't always go wrong in situations where you think something will go wrong. Things don't always go perfectly in situations where you think it'll be smooth sailing. They've thrown formula out the window in a refreshing way.


3. This goes along with the naturalism of the show, but I'm impressed with how they incorporate humor into some really tense situations in a not cheesy way.
4. There are two teenage girls on the show, and I swear they must have studied the speech patterns of the women who play their moms because they talk just like them. I may have even imdb-ed one of them to find out if maybe they were related in real life too. They weren't. I felt duped.
5. There's a character with Asperger's on the show, Max, and everything I've seen concerning him has been very well researched and, again, natural. I'd love to know what a parent of a child with Asperger's thinks too. For example, I was extra impressed with a scene where his behavioral therapist discreetly removes her hoop earrings when he starts to throw a fit and puts them back on after he calms down. (Although I did wonder why she was wearing those in the first place.)


In conclusion, watch this show. You'll enjoy it.


*Grrr! I Googled "Parenthood" to get the year of the film version and a spoiler popped up. Lame. I promise it wasn't on purpose, Jeff.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Sabbath Sunday #28

We are observing Sabbath today by going to church; reacquainting ourselves with our daughter, who we've been having to share all week; and raiding the fridge for our Thanksgiving leftover party-leftovers (I think with all the food people brought, the party had a zero net effect on clearing out our fridge!).

Friday, November 25, 2011

California!

people and firework watching at Disneyland,
inhaling food at In-n-Out,
browsing cottages on Balboa Island,
listening to Daddy mindlessly strum the guitar,
taking in the Word from a skilled teacher at Grace Fellowship,
walking to the end of the pier for some Ruby's,
shopping for nothing to spend fun time with Mama,
strolling down Main Street in Huntington Beach, 
hanging out with friends, friends, friends,
saying hi to Fernando, the Manager at Rubio's, 
biking from Costa Mesa down to Newport,
doing laundry and watching TV with Aunt Vicki,
savoring beef brisket at the little Beach Pit house,
laying in a hammock at the Camp,
browsing the racks at Buffalo and Crossroads,
eating delicious pot roast and relaxing with Grandma and Grandbob,
no seasons, no seasons, no seasons.

Aaaaand...JUMPING!

(Jeff, Eiley, and I are in California for Thanksgiving! Unfortunately, we're not doing all the things listed here, but we're certainly having fun.)

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Eating With Zoe: Thanksgiving Edition

Happy Thanksgiving, Lobsters!

I know, I know, food from me twice in one week. But, cummon Lobsters! It is Thanksgiving! What did you expect? Ok, but this time, I'm going to get a little bit creative with the concept of "eating with zoe." Being Thanksgiving, I would like to recount my gratitude in the form of a menu. May this send you peacefully into your Thanksgiving Day coma . . .

photo taken from Food and Wine


Thanksgiving Day Breakfast: perhaps an oft neglected element of a Thanksgiving Day menu, I find it absolutely essential to work this into the plans. Sitting down to a simple, relaxing, and fuel-providing breakfast is a key part of having starting a chaotic day right. This allows me to charge my engine and calmly think through the timing and tasks before me. Thanksgiving Day Breakfast makes me thankful for my mother, who usually makes it happen if she's with me. But also because she is the one who taught me how to think through and plan the timing and orchestration of cooking so well. She is such a gifted cook that it rather bores her to cook the same dish twice. That makes it hard for any one dish to remind me of her, even though all the thousands of things she's made me are always out of this world. So instead of a particular dish, I am thankful for her in the whole art of cooking. Maybe in the whole art of learning to thinking things through, following directions, pursuing excellence, finding passion in creativity ~ all cooking lessons that she also taught me to use in life. Even if she's not there, as I sit down to that Thanksgiving day breakfast, I can hear her voice in my head and her presence in my heart, and I find that focus to face the day as a fun process instead of as a daunting task.

Mashed Potatoes: As far as I'm concerned, the three core necessities of Thanksgiving are turkey, mashed potatoes, and Thanksgiving Day left overs. And mashed potatoes make me thankful for my sister, Lauren, who always takes charge and makes them amazing. I think she would probably stand with me if I said this was the most important dish of Thanksgiving, maybe the most important dish of eating, period. My sis and I are pretty different women, but there are some core parts of where we come from and who we are that no one else can share but us, and mashed potatoes at Thanksgiving is a synecdoche for the core parts of us that only us sisters can share.

Turkey: Of course you can not have Thanksgiving without Turkey. Somehow, the first time I ever got involved in putting on a Thanksgiving meal was helping my mother-in-law, Nora, cook the turkey. My in-laws were taking me in for Thanksgiving for years before I was even part of the family. I was one of the few out-of-staters at my school, and they lived only two hours away and were always generous in taking me in. It is always nerve wracking for me to take on the task of the turkey - there is so much at stake - but I always think back to Nora's calm, follow the instructions, keep it simple, you can do this, approach and I get it done. She may not be a teacher by profession, like my mother, but she truly is a great teacher at heart!

Beef Tender: No, I have not deviated from the Thanksgiving Day menu concept. This is actually a staple of my family's Thanksgiving traditions. My father HATES turkey, he also hates ham by the way, and meat-loaf, and all kinds of traditional American fare. So, whenever he is present, Thanksgiving has to include an alternative meat option, and one of his fav's is beef tender. Quirky and high maintenance though he may be, I am grateful for my father who sets the bar high, keeps things interesting and artful, and is willing to do the work to help the team reach that extra mile he's demanding of them. Cause I gotta be honest, while I actually do enjoy the turkey, I am never going to turn down some beef tender, especially if my dad is the one cooking it!

Canned Cranberry Sauce: I know, so many of you probably think there is something so wrong with me now, but I just have to have the canned cranberry sauce at Thanksgiving. And under this dish, I want to express my gratitude for the industrial revolution, which has done so many things to make our lives easier. You have also brought negative, unintended consequences, but we'll figure out how to move past those, and in the mean time, enjoy our cans of a sugary redness.

Green Bean Casserole: I love that this is so broadly applied to American Thanksgiving menus that I don't even have to keep the recipe around, knowing I'll be able to find it anywhere when I need it around this holiday. This casserole makes me thankful for my grandmother, Gee, who makes sure to cover the traditional American bases. I think she might be one who has taught me by her own beautiful example, what fierce gratitude looks like. Orphaned at a young age, she was taken in by Aunt Jamie, who remains a mythical hero in our family. Without denying her past, my grandmother speaks of it with honesty that is completely overshadowed by Joy (her name and her attitude) and appreciation for a God who cared for her and a family that paints for her the picture of abounding grace He has extended to her.

Bread and Butter: This dish does not nearly do justice to the classiness of my other grandmother, "Grammy," but I know she would be thoroughly upset at a Thanksgiving meal that was missing some warm rolls and plenty of butter to slather on them. I inherited her passionate love for butter and am also a great beneficiary of her commitment to make sure that all the essentials, my "bread and butter" if you will ;), in my life were seen to. As I made my way as an independent adult, I never asked for anything, but I also never minded the occasional check in the mail that made things a little less tight. But well before that, she reinforced the important lessons my parents were trying to teach me - to love God, pray without ceasing, stop fighting with my sister.

Dessert: I'm not too picky on Thanksgiving desserts, as long as they're there. I sure don't mind my aunt's chocolate pecan pie or a simple peach cobbler, and this year I am especially looking forward to my sister's crumble, it's out of this world. The thought of dessert makes me thankful for my husband, he's my Sweet Thing. I can be a pretty intense person, way too focussed, often unwilling to enjoy life. But Manny balances my salty disposition by both helping to take some of the responsibilities off my plate, but also by helping me enjoy some of the sweeter things in life. Things as literal as sweets [I didn't really eat dessert before him], but also things like spending money on things that aren't 100% essential for survival, taking time to focus on a good conversation without trying to multi-task, or playing on the floor as a family of three instead of just trading off baby-duty so we can get responsible things done all the time. Life wouldn't be worth all the effort I put into it if I didn't have him to keep it sweet.

Thanksgiving Day Left Overs: I already mentioned last week how much I love the left overs. My memories of the holiday are most vivid around this course. By this time, enough time has passed for the family to all settle in together. I have fond memories of long, drawn out, stimulating discussions with cousins, uncles, grandparents, and friends, all over a nice, simple turkey and cranberry sauce sandwich with a nice heap of mashed potatoes on the side. So in honor of one of my favorite Thanksgiving courses, I am thankful for you, my extended family, friends, and Lobsters. Thank you for your engagement and your presence.

Who and what are you feeling thankful for today, Lobsters?

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

not to be cliche, but...

In no particular order, this year I am thankful for:
  • Friends and family, near and far (BAM, I just covered all of you people). 
  • A brand new brother in law who is loving my sister beautifully. (Don't interpret that ickily.)
  • A functioning washer and dryer, even though we're paying way too much to rent it.
  • Flexible, super understanding bosses.
  • A ridiculously nice stroller that is tall enough and inspires me to walk more.
  • The oodles of people who blessed us with almost everything we needed (and more!) to care for our new baby girl.
  • A church that feels like a home.
  • Texas toast from Raisin' Canes. 
  • The beauty of the Botanical Gardens and all its stroller-friendly paths.
  • These three people (shut up, Buster is too a person), who bless me every. single. day.:
  • Fellow crazy dog people, like Arabella and a few of my co-workers and my parents.
  • Not one but TWO functioning cars.
  • Handmade baby blankets, Clarence the pink bird, the Remo lemon shaker, Adele's Rollin' in the Deep, Sophie the Giraffe, and the light up rubber ducky family. (Happy baby tricks.)
  • Toms, the most comfortable shoes of my life that just happen to also be in style.
  • Epidurals (well, just the one).
  • A heavenly Father who loves me all the time.
  • Naps.
  • California, Disneyland (I haven't seen it in a couple years, but I'm still thankful for it), In-n-Out, Rubio's, and airplanes.
  • You Lobstery people who read this and thus make me want to keep writing, which is something I happen to love to do.
  • And, as always, Diet Pepsi. 
Your turn.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Cooking with Zoe: A Hot Mess of Chocolatey Goodness

Are there any other Lobsters out there who feel like it is just a miracle to ever cook yourself just the basic meals? I really feel that way lately. And then, I am trying to be social and make friends. But all these things I go to are with these amazing women who always bring incredible home made treats. I always feel embarrassed, either empty handed or with a poor excuse for a baked good. I can just feel their heads tilt with pity. 

Well! This week, I finally showed up to a social gathering, proudly carrying a dessert in hand! I picked the recipe because it only had three ingredients - score! Should be totally simple, right? Apparently, not for me with my muddle headed brain these days. That is not to scare you off from trying it yourself, more just a commentary on my recent state of mind. If you actually follow the directions [what a thought!], it should be quite simple. While I did not invent the recipe, I still want to share it with you (with the holidays coming up and so many opportunities where you're called on to bring a dish), so I am owning it by re-titling it. I present to you: 

A Hot Mess of Gluten-Free Chocolatey Goodness. 
[a.k.a. "Oreo Balls" not sure who to credit the original recipe too - if you are out there - thank you! let me know who you are and I'll update this post!]

Ingredients



1 pkg. Oreos [I found gluten free oreos so I could make sure my gluten free girlfriend didn't have to miss out]
1 8 oz. pkg. cream cheese
Chocolate for melting [i used chocolate chips]

Directions [colorfully retold]:

I started in on this recipe after my fifth attempt at getting my baby down for her nap. She did finally sleep, thank the Lord, but I had plenty of pent up frustration from the day! Therefore, step one was very therapeutic:

1. Crush Oreos.  

I took a fork to those suckers like they were evil demon cookies that I had to crush in order to save the world. The feel and the sound of it was as good as letting it out on a punching bag! better? 

2. Melt (or just soften) cream cheese and mix with Oreos.  [skipped this step for fear my baby would wake up too soon. unwise. did not speed things up in the long run!]

3. Chill thoroughly (in freezer, if needed).  

4. Form well chilled mixture into balls.  

Despite the misleading instructions about working with a "chilled" mixture, this is where things turned into a hot mess. I think I failed to let it chill enough, and/or my palms were still extra hot from the frustration [or with a more positive spin - the pleasant warm weather?]. So instead of forming into lovely walls, we mostly just got gooey, crumby, chocolately hands:

I can self-correct though, so I eventually just put it back in the fridge to let it chill some more. This helped a bit, but not a ton. With round two, I wound up with something that did vaguely resemble balls:


5. Melt chocolate and roll balls to cover.  




This seems like a basic cooking skill, and yet I have never been able to master it. My insufficiently chilled balls of round one completely fell apart in the chocolate, making it even less smooth to roll over the following balls. All the while, my hands (and let's be honest, my counter, clothes, floor, etc.) were getting more and more caked with those three simple ingredients. So I gave in, washed my hands [for like the fifth time since I started], and got the balls into the freezer so they would hold their shape a bit better with the hot chocolate.  


Somehow, after all this self-correcting, and beating myself for not just simply following the recipe, taking a breather with another project so I didn't get too frustrated, it got done. 

6. Return to chill to harden.  [this was a step I could manage!]

I have a personal rule of never making a dish for others that my family does not also get to partake in [my mother, a teacher, used to always bake these amazing treats for her class and we were never allowed to snitch. boo! ]. So Manny was my guinea pig. What's so great about Manny, is that the appearance of his food almost never phases him, as long as it tastes good. Bless my dear sweet husband. He took one for the team and approved the treat, even though I made him eat the uglier earlier batch renditions. Then I brought about a dozen for my three friends to snack on at our evening get together, and after their encouraging accolades, these four remained: 



Turns out, when you don't know what you're doing with the chocolate, and you end up coating them with about a gajillion times as much chocolate as they need, the dessert turns out to be rather rich and people enjoy the one or two they eat, but can't handle much more. It was a hot mess, but it was a tasty mess. 

Monday, November 21, 2011

Movie Review Monday #27: Relative Values

I picked this one out initially because I saw that it was based on a play by Noel Coward, and my husband was recently working on a scene from Private Lives, another of Coward's works. I also picked it so I could say something brilliant on this review about choosing this film because it's based on a play and I'm an [insert word for lover of theatre], but when I tried to figure out that word, all I could find was a yahoo answers entry that said the term for one who loves the theatre is "Theater geek." Whatever. My third reason for choosing this film was Julie Andrews. Don't you just love her? I would like to squeeze you, Queen Maria Poppins.


Observations!
1. It's set in the 50s, which is delightful, though I found myself wishing I had a better understanding of social classes in England during that time. I'm sure I was missing some of the jokes since I didn't know how uncouth some of the characters were acting.
2. Speaking of wanting to squeeze people, the lady who played Moxie was absolutely tragically adorable. I just looked her up, and she also played Mafalda Hopkirk in a Harry Potter, so she's apparently awesome altogether.
3. Billy Baldwin was in this, which shocked me because I don't think I had ever seen him in anything prior to a month ago. Now I've seen him in this, Parenthood (the show), and Dirty Sexy Money (also a show). I find him odd and overly squinty.
4. Holy moly, Jeanne Tripplehorn is classically gorgeous. Which is hilarious, because I always mix her up with Jean Stapleton. I mean, Stapleton is lovely in her own way, but...
Stapleton!
Tripplehorn!
5. Stephen Fry was also in this film. Hilarious. 
6. Sid's dead fiance from Alias is also in this film. Okay, now I'm just listing actors.
7. The story in this film is so simple and fun. It's a satire of the lines drawn between classes and an actress's desperate attempts to remain in the press. It's nothing deep or entirely memorable, but Jeff and I were entertained.


A claw and a half up!


P.S. Oh, hey, Colin Firth was also in this! 


Sunday, November 20, 2011

Sabbath Sunday #27

Today I'm observing the Sabbath by going to church then out to eat with friends and family, then hanging out at home with Eiley the rest of the day. She is currently trying to nap but hiccups are keeping her awake. This is simultaneously mildly sad and amusing.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Snapshot Saturday #27 Life Cycle



This is a plant I have not taken great care of, but that continues to regenerate flowers for me nonetheless. I was struck by the full life cycle visible in this one moment, the one flower blooming beautifully, the other flower withering behind it, and a new bud just about to burst open just below.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Traditioooooon! TRADITION.*

My family has very few traditions, but we love the ones we have. Here's our Thanksgiving tradition, which Zoe alluded to on Tuesday:


Every year around Thanksgiving, we take a day to make a traditional Norwegian food called lefse. It's basically a potato tortilla/pancake kind of thing, but I'd be insulted if you called it that because it requires patience and mad skillz to create. Very few things are as delicious as fresh lefse smothered in jam or butter or cinnamon and sugar or peanut butter. 


Lefse making is an event. A big group of us - aunts, grandmas, cousins, and Karens** - meet in the morning, wearing slippers and aprons and wielding skillets, rolling pins, and lefse sticks. 
Majestic, isn't it?
When my great-grandma Mudder was still with us, she would run the show, morphing from a sweet great-grandmother with a slight Norwegian accent into...well, I don't want to call her a Nazi, but I'd swear she became a wee bit German. Her main complaints were that we used too much flour or that the lefse was not thin enough. It's a tricky business, rolling lefse. With too little flour, it might stick to the board and then you have to start over. With too much, it doesn't taste right. If you roll it too thin, it might get holey when the lefse stick operator picks it up. If it's too thick, it doesn't taste right. 


Mudder didn't play favorites in life, but she did play favorites in the lefse kitchen. And I was her favorite. I don't want to brag, but my lefse tends to be thin, lightly dusted in flour, and perfectly circular, which isn't necessary for good lefse, but who doesn't love some quality symmetry? After Mudder passed away, I took it upon myself to be the voice of lefse discipline in the kitchen. Someday they'll all thank me (someday, Karen). I really do wonder how they all manage when I'm not there. 


The lefse recipe was handed down from generation to generation (okay, Mudder handed an index card to my aunt, but that still counts) and someday I will hand an index card to Eiley. I love this tradition, and I miss it terribly whenever I'm away. 


In conclusion, the lefse dance, starring a super pixelated Aunt Vicki, Mama, and cousin Diana!







*My mom likes to sing "Tradition" from Fiddler on the Roof every time we do anything remotely traditional. And now I do too. Therefore, it's a tradition to sing "Tradition" when engaging in a tradition. Kind of blows your mind, right?
**Karen is my aunt's co-worker and dear friend. She gets a little sassy in the lefse kitchen.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Letting the light come in

I can hardly believe it, Lobsters, but last week, I actually turned on my sewing machine. 

Before Sofia was born, Manny got me a sewing machine for my birthday in order to fill decades of dreaming of becoming a proficient quilter. I made a few squares, baby came, and then I went into early retirement. I finally have space for craft projects now, but the supplies and tools all just sit there, mocking me as I run back and forth chasing my little mobility machine. 



But this week, fed up with my computer, and finally relieved when Sofia went down for a nap [she hadn't been napping for a few weeks], I turned to my sewing machine for revitalization. By some stroke of fate, I managed to whip the project out before she woke up and without any huge disasters or even re-starts. This is not usually how well my crafting works out. Not that the finished project is worth any lavish display, but it is functional, and that's enough to satisfy me. 

I know there are lots of blogs out there with incredibly helpful tips and tools for making everything in your house yourself, I even knew a guy who once promised me a home-made video-cam [and this was in the '90's when I didn't actually believe these would ever truly exist, and was mostly mocking him when I told him, "sure, I'll take one"]. This is not that blog. I didn't use or even make a pattern, I just kind of flew by the seat of my pants. My most careful decision was the fabric, the rest was mostly just me messing around. 

But just the messing around felt good. To think the project through. To pull together all the tools. To feel the fabric break beneath the cutter. To smooth the pieces away from each other. To guide them through the machine. To let the friction work between my fingers as I turned it inside out. To experiment and adjust. To iron out the finished product. To wave it before my then awake daughter to show her what I'd made.

I am not sharing so much because I think you are all dying to sew your own curtain tie-backs, but just to celebrate the joy of creating, and to appreciate the gift of light. 
I have been warned hundreds of times since our August arrival that the early sun sets are one of the hardest parts of enduring Maine's winters, being so far north and all. But like many things we are experiencing here, you don't truly understand the wisdom people are granting you until you live through it. It gets real dark, real early, and its real weird. Sofia woke up from her nap and was honestly frightened by the fact that it was already completely dark out. Now, any bit of vitamin D we can expose our epidermis to is an urgent issue of gratitude. 


So while in the summer I was so relieved when they finally installed our curtains (privacy, protection from the warm sun in an house without air conditioning), it is now a relief to be able to pull those curtains back and just let the light come in.

It is a rather passive act, letting the light come in. I did not make the sun, I do not warm our house with the suns rays, but I made way for the light to do its thing after a time of not. I don't know that I'm really much of a crafter, but it felt good to craft. I don't know whether I am a writer in the making, but it feels good to write about this and share with you. I don't know if I am an artist in the making, but there is a harmony with my deeper self when I am able to create. I do know that I am a creature of the light, and it warms my soul to let the light in. 



Wednesday, November 16, 2011

methods of (anti)madness

Last week was a little rough. Jeff was gone from 6 am to 7 pm on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday working on a feature film set as a stand in. It's awesome because now he's SAG eligible, so he'll be able to more successfully audition for film and television when we move back to California. It was less than awesome because that left me with my full time job and my full time baby and my very part time dog and my absolute wreck of a house. To be clear, I fully support what Jeff did this week, and would have been upset if he hadn't done it. Also, Arabella was kind enough to watch Eiley for a couple hours on Wednesday morning, so I had some break. I just got a little overwhelmed on Wednesday, which inspired these three lists:


1. Things to do when I'm feeling mildly stressed out:
  • Write each task on a post it note. Destroy each post it note after destroying each task. (That's what I did Wednesday. Well, I wrote all the tasks out, and I only got to destroy one. But still - there's something comforting about getting it all out of my head and onto little sticky papers.)
Pink sticky papers, no less.

One of those sticky notes said "Make yard look slightly less white trashy."
  • Go on a walk.
  • Put on some good music. (By the way, does anyone have any suggestions? The endless options available on Spotify render me completely unable to choose what to listen to. It's a strange phenomena.)
  • Stare at Facebook in a numb stupor.
  • Read me some Psalms.
  • Take a hot bath.
  • Eat a snack. 
2. Things to do when I'm feeling way stressed out:
  • Sleep.
  • Cry.
  • Pretty much just act like my baby. (Oddly enough, last time this happened, it was a result of Eiley taking forever to nurse. My baby made me act like my baby.)
3. Things to do when I'm feeling insanely stressed out:
  • Lay in bed in fetal position and stare at wall. (The last time this happened, I was pregnant and made the mistake of reading What to Expect When You're Expecting, and I started thinking everything in there would happen to me, which was basically a horrifying thought. For any pregnant Lobsters out there, just use that book as a reference when you have questions. Don't read it all the way through. Trust me.)
How do you all de-stress?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Eating with Zoe: Long Distance Influence

My favorite part of Thanksgiving has always been the leftovers. Always. Tasty slabs of turkey meat, a 'lil mayo, canned cranberry sauce, and white bread. I look forward to that sandwich all year. On the years I do not get to partake in this sandwich, I get very very depressed. What is it about those few extra hours that make the Thanksgiving food so much more delightful?

Perhaps it is the release of all the pressure of the formal Thanksgiving Dinner. Once the food is just left overs, you can let your hair down, kick back, and just enjoy each other's company however you wish. Eat it standing at a kitchen counter, sprawled out on the floor while playing some games, curled up on the couch watchin' some football, whatever suits your fancy. It is casual, it is communal, it is comforting!

The first Thanksgiving I ever spent away from home was actually with Emily's family. I remember calling my mom that afternoon in a mini-crisis because eating at someone else's house necessarily meant I did not get my leftovers sandwich. Good thing her family had all these amazing, exotic family traditions that had me sufficiently enthralled to allow me to get too depressed over it all. You should ask her about her Thanksgiving family traditions, because that is a day when Emily Fazakerley shines in the kitchen like no other! Impressive!

When we lived in the Bay Area, we were friends with one of the coolest families on the planet. One of their many cool traits as a family is their amazing hospitality. Despite the great dinners and roaring parties we did get to enjoy with them, they had one annual tradition we always had to miss out on. Each year, on the day after Thanksgiving, they hosted a party where everyone could bring their left overs to share and hang out with friends. Buh-rillllliant!!! You get to enjoy hospitality AND the magic of Thanksgiving left overs all in one. I can hardly handle it.

After years of having to miss out on this party, we are missing out yet again, seeing as how we are on the opposite coast of the country. Blerg. BUT WAIT! Sometimes there are silver linings to long distance friendships like this. See, with them so far away, there is very little [zero] overlap in our social circles, THEREFORE! I have decided that it is NOT a social faux pas to totally steal their idea and host my own Thanksgiving leftovers party.  

Thus, the annual "Reyes Remainders Replay" is born (you know, cause my husband is a mathematician, get it? remainders? heh)! I can't wait. Even if no one shows up, I will have a grand festive time with my own family being in town, making a little extra hooplah over the leftovers this year. They may not exactly be mine to give, but nevertheless, I extend to you the rights to throw your own left overs party. Just please report back and let me know how it goes! 

Isn't it cool how even friends that are far away, whether or not I am faithfully in touch them, have touched my life in a moment and steered my path, even if only slightly?

Monday, November 14, 2011

Movie Review Monday#26: My Girlfriend's Boyfriend

I think I've already proven that I am a sucker for bad made-for-tv movies, but I had been avoiding this one because it stars Alyssa Milano and I haven't really liked her since 1992 (that's the year Who's the Boss ended, folks). Well, I was craving some cheese a few nights ago, and this was the only movie I could find on Netflix that I hadn't watched yet and would be cheesy enough. So I watched it - and I have to admit that I was pleasantly surprised.

Observations:
1. First of all, I was wrong about it being a made-for-tv movie. Turns out it's actually an indie. The cover just looks like it was created by the ABC Family marketing department, don't you agree?
Plus that title is lame-azoid.
2. There was actually some pretty good dialogue in this film. Alyssa and Christopher Gorham had nice chemistry, and there were some very natural moments in their conversations.
3. Christopher Gorham is goofily adorable. I wonder why he's not more famous.
4. Tom Lenk played Alyssa's brother, and he was pretty hilarious. I have enjoyed him since his stint on Buffy. In this film he is a minor celebrity because he's the reluctant spokesman for a gum company. This actor is a master of awkwardness.
5. While you know throughout the entire film who she's going to choose, there is still a twist at the end. And I am not the easiest person to twist on. So that was kind of neat.

All in all, I give this a claw and a half up. If you're in the mood for a simple little romantic comedy, go for it!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Sabbath Sunday #26

This morning, we took an early walk in the woods, then we tried to get Sofia down for a nap and failed. We went to church, where we took turns chasing Sofia around the empty rows of seats. Then we went out for a family lunch, where we took turns walking Sofia around the restaurant. All that activity thoroughly wore us all out, so now Sofia is sleeping, I'm I'm looking forward to a simpler afternoon and evening. How are you spending your day of rest, Lobsters?

Friday, November 11, 2011

ZoZo Photo

Perhaps, if you have been following Long Distance Lobsters for a while, and you are one of the few that checks us out on the weekends, you might have noticed a series of photos I've posted, starting with this one.

Snapshot Saturdays are soon coming to a close, and as they wind down, I want to pull together some of my favorites.






You can see the complete collection here. I've also posted a few photo shoots I've had fun with lately, like these:

The Zoo parts One and Two

and

Sofia at the coast with her grandparents [Pacific that is], and this week I posted a series with her on the other coast.

I find great joy in writing for this blog and also in capturing connections through photography. So while Snapshot Saturdays are going to give way to a new weekend tradition, my photography is hopefully going to find ways to grow elsewhere. For one, I am going to start offering my portrait services. You can help me out by liking ZoZo Photo on facebook or by telling any friends you might have in the MidCoast Maine area. Thanks for giving me an outlet for my art, Lobsters!


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

a love list for eiley grace

Some things I love about you, Eiley:


You are an excellent hand warmer.


You look good in literally every outfit. You even rocked those PJs with the rainbows, smiling suns, and ruffle butt. Sorry about that.


You have the cutest voice. Even though you don't know any words, I could listen to you talk all day.


You smile almost every time I smile at you. 


You have comically bad hair. It looks like you stuck your finger in a socket.


You are an ideal nap buddy.


You are an excellent listener, even when I'm using terrible voices while reading Charlotte's Web.


You are a loyal friend to Clarence, the pink stuffed bird on your car seat.


You are a handy conversation piece.


Sometimes when you start to cry you sound like a cat.


You let me chew on your cheeks, just a little bit, whenever I want.


You have never laughed at the same thing twice. While I wish I could hear your laugh all the time, at least this shows me that you're a connoisseur of comedy.


You enjoy long walks on the beach (or around the neighborhood or at the botanical gardens), like all quality single people should.


You go to sleep so easily and let me sleep until 7 or 8 every morning.*

You are mine, and I love you.






*I have been very hesitant to mention this because I know it could change any day, and I feel like I'm jinxing it. But Miss Eiley has slept through the night since she was about five weeks old. And I thought it was time for some gratitude. 

Coast to Coast

I recently posted a series of photos of my parents with my daughter at the Pacific coast. Shortly thereafter, they came to visit us on the other coast. In just over 48 hours we tried to accomplish a whirlwind tour of MidCoast Maine. This included a visit to the Portland Headlight, the most photographed lighthouse in the area. So, I had to photograph it:



But surprise, surprise, I was more inspired by the beautiful relationship blossoming between Sofia and her grandparents ("Big Mama" and "Big Papa"). Props to her Grandma Nora for finding her the adorable sun hat. So here's a series of the three of them on the Atlantic coast.