Monday, August 30, 2010

Do Fun Stuff

So, I've been keeping up with a really great blog over at Pacing The Panic Room. I got hooked because Little G and the writer's daughter were both due within a week of each other and he had been writing about his wife's pregnancy and since the times coincided it was kind-of neat to read about someone else's life. I KEPT reading because he is warm, and funny, and honest and clearly loves his wife and children.

Yes. Children. He has a stepson who as far as I can tell is out of this world amazing.

So why am I telling you this? Turns out his stepson was diagnosed with Smith Magenis Syndrome and he decided to create a kids album of great music and sell it completely for charity to go towards PRISMS a group that...blah...blah...blah...

You know what? Here's what you need to know:

The album is FAN-FREAKIN'-TASTIC!!

It's official launch is today.

Everything you need to know is in the information below which can also be accessed here (since I realize that my blog platform is too small for the widget and I don't have time to re-code it or my website)

So go do fun stuff!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

He gets around, round, round, round...

Little G is thirteen and a half months old now, a time when most kids his age are getting really close to walking. But here's a secret. He isn't even crawling yet.

He's figured out a better way to get around that keeps his hands much cleaner and means he doesn't have to let go of things.

Scootcher from Coasting anon on Vimeo.

I figured you all would appreciate this video of his musical talents as well:

Blub blub blub gotcha from Coasting anon on Vimeo.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Easy Peasy Mac and Cheesy

Um...yeah. I have no excuse for such a lame-o (cheesy) post-title. In fact, I give you full permission to unsubscribe from me post-haste for such an infraction on your sensibilities...except hear me out...because this is seriously the easiest, tastiest, thing I've ever managed to do with my left over pasta.

Every so often, I make pasta with meat sauce for dinner and since my husband and I don't eat that much, we end up with half of a container of pasta left over. I used to only make half a container but one day I wasn't thinking and tossed the whole shebang in the pot and then had to figure out what to do with the left overs.

Around that time, I had gone with Little G to a popular seafood restaurant here in Boston known for their kids menu and ordered him up some mac and cheese. It came and he scarfed it down and I was so impressed that he loved it so much that I decided to take a bite and all it took was one bite for me to realize that we had been duped and paid $4.00 for a small bowl of Kraft Mac and Cheese from a box...something I had promised never to feed our baby since it is as far away from a natural food as you can get.

I was convinced that now that Little G had tasted the promise land of Kraft Mac and Cheese (it's a gross food, but that doesn't mean it isn't deeeee-licious!!) he would never accept any other, re. better for him, type of mac and cheese as a substitute.

Thankfully, I was proven wrong when I made this mac and cheese from our left over pasta.

So...enough's how it works:

Spray the inside of a crock pot with cooking spray...not sure how big my crock pot is, but I am pretty sure it is one of the smaller ones out there:

Take your left over pasta - about half the box/bag - (we use organic, whole wheat which can be a tough texture but really cooks into a soft noodle in this recipe)...
...and put it in the crock pot.
Dice up one medium onion...
...and add it to the pot:
Now we're going to add one cup of whole milk and one cup of chicken's my secret...I never use the whole box of chicken stock and I hate to waste it so I freeze it in the awesome tray from Beaba that we used to freeze Little G's baby food so long ago. Three portions is about a cup and now I don't waste chicken stock:

After adding milk and chicken stock to the pot, pour in three cups of shredded cheddar cheese:

I usually add some ground mustard and garlic powder at this point...but they are optional if you don't have them in your pantry:
Seriously, just eyeball an really can't go wrong here unless you pour the whole bottle in:
Add some ground pepper but NOT salt...the cheese has enough salt that you don't need any more to season it:
Then stick a spoon in it and gently mix up the pot so that the cheese and onion and pasta aren't all layered in there:
Put the lid on and set it to high...
...and cook it for two hours and 15 minutes.
When it is done, the top will be slightly crusty, and the inside will be creamy and delicious!
Dump the mac and cheese into a container, store it in the fridge and use it throughout the week for lunch for your kid and/or a side dish to your dinner.
Seriously...the whole recipe boils down to dump, set, forget and enjoy. I'm sure you could do the same thing and bake it in the oven...but honestly, in this heat, I've been wan to heat up the whole oven so the crock pot really has helped keep the kitchen cool.

Easy Peasy Mac and Cheesy
1/2 box of whole wheat pasta
3 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup whole milk
1 cup chicken stock
1 medium onion, diced
1T ground mustard
1T garlic powder
Ground Pepper to taste

Toss everything together in crock pot and cook on high for 2 hours, 15 minutes.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Pieces of the Past

A funny thing happened the other day and I didn't even know it. Turns out I have been blogging for five years now. As you may know, I had a personal blog that has gone private and untouched since "the incident". I started it back on August 11, 2005 after reading the book --and then most of the archives-- of the blog of Real Live Preacher.

In honor of this anniversary of my blogging, an enterprise that has led me from one of the darkest moments of my life to some of the most fun and triumphant, and in honor of my nephew who is five and starting kindergarten this year and is apparently as much of an office supply junkie as I am, I am reposting the second post I ever wrote. Originally posted on August 13, 2005, I can honestly say I feel the same way now as I did then...just with less access to the goods.

I Love Office Supplies
by GirlGoneGreat

I started a blog yesterday, so I thought it would be appropriate to have a notebook to jot some thoughts down in. That way, I can hopefully have some semblance of order as I write my daily…or, let’s be honest, if I am lucky, bi-weekly…musings.

I knew the exact notebook I wanted for this task; a National Brand, Narrow Ruled, Single Subject notebook with 80 sheets. Not just any sheets… “Eye Eases” sheets. The sheets are a soft creamy-yellow color with pale green lines; the cover is sturdy tan cardboard. The notebook is a small and artistic 8¼ x 7” and it fits perfectly into the tote bag that I take to work with me. Opening the notebook to its first crisp, cool page is like standing at the beginning of great story and having no idea where it will go. Eighty smooth, buttery invites to possibility. I really love this notebook.

Of course, the only way to get this notebook…if you live my life…is to hope that the office supply lady doesn’t remember that you already have four of these when you enter her office and ask to have another. Thankfully, she was nowhere to be seen when I happened upon the office supply space she calls home. While I was standing there pilfering the perfect notebook, I was overtaken by a feeling of pure joy racing through my veins. Not just the joy of obtaining my 5th perfect notebook, but the joy that comes from standing in a room where the pens are lined up neatly in rows, the erasers are void of any marks and the reams of paper are still tightly arranged in impenetrable blocks. I drank in the fresh scent of ink and paper and let out a huge sigh. The kind of sigh that comes from knowing you have traveled through many twisting paths to get to where you are now, and now you feel safe.

This love for paper products and writing implements is not a new one for me. School supply shopping was my first real taste of ecstasy. Heading out to the local K-Mart to get multi-colored folders while begging for a Trapper-keeper (that I never got because they are too expensive) seemed a right of passage to every coming grade. And yet, my insanity goes back even further to when I got my very first box of crayons. I actually mourned every single crayon in the box of 64 as I ended its perfection with one single swipe of color. It wasn’t until I was in college that I discovered that I could have two boxes of crayons, one for using and one for keeping perfect.

All of this reminds me of Emma Mae’s monologue, “McDonalds”, in Jane Martin's collection “Talking With”. Emma Mae, who is homeless, starts out saying “If I had one wish in my life, why I’d like to live in McDonalds”. She continues to talk about everything from how nice the kids are who work there to seeing a man healed by a Big Mac. But she also takes time in her monologue to let us in on her secret. She loves McDonalds because of the plastic. Because no matter what happens, no matter how long the McDonalds has been there or how many shifts of nice kids have come and gone, the plastic trays are always perfect; unscratched and unfaded; the same brilliant color as when they first were made.

So, does the joy I get from standing in room full of crisp, new office supplies, the excitement I feel just thinking of my favorite notebook and the need I have for crayons to be lined up and unmarred, really define me as a person who only wants perfection out of life? If given the option, would I keep another life on the side, perfect and unused? I’d like to think no. I have learned enough to understand the boredom of perfection and that the scars we gain from life can only embellish the brilliant colors we were born with.

So I am going to continue to sweep large arcs of color with my crayons and I’m going to fill up my notebook. And even if I break a tip, or bend a page along the way, I am going to celebrate the beauty and the individuality that those marks define in me. Besides, if I need to, I can always stop in to visit the office supply lady and get notebook #6.

Happy anniversary, blogiverse...its been quite a colorful ride!

Coasting anon

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Fresh Photos on the Fridge

We keep an ever revolving display of photos of family members on the bottom of our fridge for Little G to look at. He loves to play with them; peeling them off the fridge and slapping them back onto the dishwasher or putting them away in his drawer in the kitchen or (my personal favorite) sliding them through the cat door that leads to our basement like a mail slot.

I recently updated the photos with more recent pictures and found myself faced with the truth that the photos of my dad will never get more recent. Little G will grow, our lives will continue to change, life will go on; and my dad's most recent photo with Little G will always remain the same. Unchanged. Unevolving. Stuck in time.

It is a photo of them from December 4, 2009 - eleven days before my father died. Already, Little G is so different. Back then, he wasn't even sitting up yet. His personality hadn't started to truly show. His hair was still growing in from the great cradle-cap-annialation-expirament-of-'09.

Everything has changed and all I really want is to be able to be back in that moment. Except I can't. Even if it were possible, too much has changed. Turning back time would require my son to move backwards from becoming such a social baby. It would mean giving up his fierce independence and incredible intelligence and whatever changes are in store for all of us in his future.

We can't go back to those days when my father was alive. We can only visit there through the memories we have. And for my son, who is too young to remember any of this; he will always have this photo of him and his Zayde on the fridge...or somewhere down the kitty door.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


I have a confession to make and it is driving me insane and I just need to get it out there because hopefully being aware of the problem will help me fix it.

I'm an angry driver.

Today, I had no less than three incidents where I ended up yelling at someone on the road because they had blatantly disregarded the rules of driving and inconvenienced me...and by 'inconvenienced' I mean I had to slow down and not do what I was doing as to not hit these people.

It doesn't matter what the infractions were. I was right every time. I really was. What matters is that regardless of whether those drivers even noticed my yelling and gesturing at them through the windows of my car not to mention felt any remorse for their wrong doings...they had moved on with their lives split seconds after their encounter with me...the rule abider. But I, I, was consumed by their stupidity for many, many minutes.

What a horrible, black, murky feeling to be so angry at someone for doing something wrong that it pulls you into a mess of frustration and poor focus.

I don't want to be like this. I want to get over it. I want to be able to smile and be gracious and forgiving. Not just for their sake, but for my own. I don't want to have this anger coursing through my veins, poisoning me, all because of a chance incident with a total stranger.

I don't have an answer.

I can't wrap this post up with a beautiful story or a poignant thought and make it all pretty. I just needed to get it out there. Again, hoping that maybe if I face this demon within me, that maybe I will be able to transcend it someday.

What's your demon?

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

I was recently introducted to this article from the Boston Globe and it resonated so much with me I've decided to share the entire article here. I have highlighted the specific points that really hit home for me.

Food for thought
One mom's plea to stop the smug judgments and let parents make their choices in peace

By Kara Baskin, Globe Correspondent August 14, 2010
By now, most of us have heard about supermodel Gisele Bundchen's breezily offensive comment in Harper's Bazaar U.K. that breast-feeding for six months should be a "worldwide law.'' Her blunt statements electrified the blogosphere — not because she's right or wrong (and, really, who cares — she's Gisele Bundchen, not Dr. Sears) — but because some mothers make it their business to criticize other mothers' decisions.

Her decree — one she softened on her own blog after her comments made worldwide news — casts a harsh light on competitive mothering and its capacity to sting even the most confident woman. Bundchen is the celebrity version of the smug mommy who glares as she sees you bottle-feeding; the one who clucks disapproval at your decision to use day care; the one who sees your kid eating sand on the playground and "helpfully'' suggests you consult a child psychiatrist.

After Bundchen's pronouncement, parenting sites buzzed with women lambasting bottle-feeding moms for all manner of sins, from immaturity (apparently bottle-feeding moms want to drink wine and sleep in) to poor nutritional awareness. According to Internet antagonists, bottle-feeding is at worst an act of selfishness; at best, it's due to lack of education. Rarely is it an informed choice. The furor was especially intense, no doubt, because this is National Breastfeeding Month.

So at the risk of being judged, I confess: I bottle-feed my 2-week-old son. And, most days, I'm confident about my choice. I had breast-reduction surgery and was told my milk might come in painfully, or not at all. While pregnant, I talked to friends who'd had breast reduction surgery and attempted to breast-feed — with no luck, just discomfort.

I also have panic disorder, which inevitably flares up when I'm overtired and stressed. I've known many women who felt tethered to their children thanks to a demanding breast-feeding schedule and who resented their husbands sleeping while they sat awake. I saw bottle-feeding as one way to make the parenting ride a bit smoother and to protect my own mental health, because I think my son will benefit most of all from a happy mother.

But a voice in the back of my mind still needled: "Motherhood is supposed to be hard! Bad mommy!'' What business did I have making life easier for myself?

This voice first surfaced a couple of months ago, when I took a childbirth class at my local hospital. There, we were asked to raise our hands if we planned to breast-feed. I was the only mom who didn't. Several classmates looked at me with arched eyebrows. I stammered some half-hearted excuse. "It's OK,'' the nurse said sweetly. "You shouldn't need to explain yourself.'' But how could I not, when each student was preemptively issued a pamphlet titled "Congratulations on Your Decision to Breast-Feed''? I left feeling guilt-ridden.

I felt judged again after having my son, when an advertisement for breast pumps played on a loop in our hospital recovery room. "You know you're a great mom, because you made the very best decision for your child,'' a narrator cooed as a blissed-out woman nursed her baby. The implication was, of course, that other choices are reserved for moms who make sub-par decisions. I wanted to be part of the good mom club, too.

And I cringed reading message boards in the wake of Bundchen's comments, in which she alluded to formula as "chemical food'' and then later backpedaled, insisting, "I am not here to judge.'' (Too late, thanks — I've already envisioned my innocent son guzzling gasoline from his cute four-ounce bottle.)

"Breast milk is a birthright,'' one breast-feeding advocate railed on "We are too lazy and too caught up in trying to make our 3-week-old into a self-sufficient human so we can go out and have a drink and pretend we never had her for a couple hours.''

If I needed any further evidence that we bottle-feeders are lazy boozers who need reprimanding, I only had to look within my own social circle. When talking to other women about this article, one bottle-feeder admitted she was made to feel like she fed her kids "battery acid.'' Another said she'd disclose the reasons behind her nonmedical decision to bottle-feed her baby, but only if I promised anonymity. "I'm tired of the judgment,'' she e-mailed.

Sadly, while there are health benefits to breast-feeding (disease-fighting antibodies for baby; decreased risk of breast cancer and type 2 diabetes for mom), the perks are often lost in a haze of self-righteousness. The slogan-ization of feeding "join the boob-alution!'' or "breast is best!'' trades complexity for cuteness. After all, "I love cracked nipples'' or "I haven't slept well in two weeks'' don't sound so enticing.

Bottle-feeding, while also nutritionally sound, isn't a walk in the park, either. It's expensive. It's messy. It's imperfect. So is parenthood. Instead of polarizing ourselves in search of validation, why not acknowledge the good, the bad, and the ugly on both sides? We'd all feel better about ourselves.

Before I left the hospital, a nurse asked if I was bottle- or breast-feeding. I launched into an apologetic monologue about my choice. She was an older, no-nonsense lady who'd seen it all. "Honey,'' she interrupted, "don't let anyone criticize you. In my day, bottle-feeding was the rage. Do what's best for you.'' I wanted to kiss her.

Indeed, in the 1950s and 1960s, bottle-feeding was en vogue. As the nutritional benefits of breast-feeding have come to light, more women have opted to do so, though not exclusively. Now, according to the Centers for Disease Control, 74 percent of babies in the United States are breast-fed at birth. But only 43 percent of babies are still breast-fed at six months. I find it hard to believe that more than half of all women want to do wrong by their children. I think they're trying to do the best they can for their kids and themselves, whatever their situation.

After all, parenting choices, including how we feed our children, aren't always clear-cut — a truism hammered home in Massachusetts this week by the Supreme Judicial Court, which ruled that women are entitled only to eight weeks unpaid leave under the Massachusetts Maternity Leave Act. In light of such restrictions, many women opt for convenience. The last thing any of us need — whether we bottle-feed for health reasons, practicality, or simple preference — is judgment.

It's time to eliminate the superiority complex from motherhood and acknowledge that there are no right or easy answers. There are nutritional benefits to breast-feeding. There are mental-health benefits to bottle-feeding. I've known sickly kids who were breast-fed and healthy kids who were bottle-fed, and vice-versa. Like so many aspects of parenting, it's a roll of the dice. But one simple way to assure our children's long-term success is by providing them with loving, nonjudgmental role models. After all, some things never go out of style.

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So...what would you have highlighted?

Monday, August 16, 2010

Respectfully yours

It's Saturday morning, although by the time this posts it will be Monday.

I am sitting in my pajamas at the dining room table with a mug of hot coffee and a belly full of banana pancakes. My husband is vacuuming the first floor while Little G follows the canister around and tries to beat it to submission.

These are Saturdays in my house.

A long time ago, before we were married, my husband and I discovered something about each other. It turns out he is hyper-motivated to get things done in the mornings so that he can relax in the afternoons. While I, on the other hand, have a much better day if I can ease my way into it with some coffee, breakfast and a magazine. Usually sometime around lunch we switch roles and I can be found puttering about the house while he surfs the tube for any type of sporting event to watch.

It took us some time to figure this out and for a period of time, I would feel very, very guilty in the mornings about not being the slightest bit motivated to help as my husband flitted about the house vacuuming, ironing, dusting, doing laundry, you name it. And he sometimes felt frustrated with me because he felt like he was doing everything. But I never asked him to do everything. When we finally figured out that it would be perfectly acceptable for him to leave some things for me to get done in the afternoon, our lives became much more agreeable.

Of course, then we threw a baby in the mix and things really got undefined...but we've managed to make it work for 13 months, so something must be right.

The key for us was being able to identify and respect the needs of the other person. However the answer isn't static. Every weekend, every day, every hour our lives change from what they were before, so we need to continuously react to the situations in our lives while also keeping in mind how we work best and how we want to provide the best home life for each other. This is how we functioned as a couple and this is how we are succeeding as a family.

I was given a book not too long ago that was written with the premise that all men need respect and all women need love. Needless to say, the book didn't stay in our house too long as I am not a fan of blanket generalizations. But it did make me think about love and respect in the context of working relationships. Can you have one without the other? Possibly. But can you have a continuously growing relatioship that reacts with the ebbs and flows of life without both love and respect?

Respectfully, I don't think so.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Have you been Flor'd lately this is a blatant request for you all to be a bit more forthcoming in your commenting over at the Flor blog. It should be easy...I ask a question at the end of each of my posts.

Speaking of posts go up on Monday afternoons and Thursday mornings...but don't just go to check out what I have to say. I'm in the company of some serious design heavy hitters and they have already contributed some very lovely posts. go on over...and next time one of my posts pops up in your reader, just click on through and make a comment. It can't hurt to answer a simple question or two, right?

I'll even make it easier for you...

Here you can read my inaugural post discussing how design needs to come find me where I am - - go on over and share where design needs to meet you (if you haven't already).

And here is where I tell you all about how a breezy, coastal style philosophy is helping to define my living room when I don't even really live near a beach - - I'd love to hear if you have made any design choices in your spaces that are dictated by sensibilities not necessarily related to your region.

Or you can read about and share your experiences with the palette of your home here.

And my latest post about the little design victories in my life was posted here yesterday - - what are the small design victories in your life?

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Smarty Pants

Lately, Little G has really been surprising us with his intelligence and I wanted to write some of it down here so I don't forget it.

He has some molars coming in so he has been a touch 'mouthy' lately. That means, that at any given moment, he might lunge forward toward your leg and try and put his mouth on you in an attempt to bite you. We do our best to redirect him, but if our hands are full, the best thing we can do is to just move out of his reach. Today, he decided it would be lots of fun to try to gnaw on our new leather storage ottomans.

Now, I realize I am the dumb ass for having new leather storage ottomans and a 13 month old...but I figure with some consistent reminders, we will eventually convince him not to chew on them (seriously...I totally though the cat was going to be the issue with these ottomans and never even dreamed it would be my son we would have to thwart with the spray bottle. Kidding people. I'm kidding.) Anyway, I redirected him away from the ottoman and gave him some good toys to chew on and stood in front of the ottoman so he wouldn't go back to it (I would have moved the ottoman but it is in front of where some necessary items are plugged into the wall). He immediately tried to get to the ottomans and realized that he had to go through me to get there so he lunged towards my leg with his mouth open and I, as usual, moved quickly to get out of his way, and thus he had perfect access to eat the ottoman.

Genius...never mind the fact that he's trying to eat the furniture. He's still a genius.

The other fun thing to watch today was when he realized we had put all of his wooden blocks back in the cart.

He likes to put the wooden blocks in the dump truck. So he scootched over to the cart and grabbed a block and scootched over to the dump truck to put the block in. But then he realized that there were balls in the dump truck! Heavens no!! So he put down the block, took the balls out of the dump truck and put the block in the dump truck.

As I write all of this out, I realize that it could seem really basic and not very note worthy to any of you who aren't parents yet. But to me these developments are so exciting to watch. Even if he is trying to take a chomp out of my leg. Witnessing your child transition from a baby to a thinking toddler is really quite inspiring. I'm hoping the transition from thinking toddler to brilliant scientist includes learning how to not eat the lab equipment.

Friday, August 06, 2010

All (ok, some of) MY thoughts on God...

I sat in a circle of women today with my jaw dropped completely open. It was the second time in as many weeks.

Over the summer, the mother's group and the women's group at the church I attend have combined for a six week session to study Tim Keller's, The Prodigal God.

To be honest, I was pretty turned off by it at first. The video we watched was overwhelmingly over produced and it was easy to toss this off as another marketing gimmick aimed at easy-to-forgive churches and their followers.

However, the message in the sermon was thought provoking and I enjoy the snacks and camaraderie and discussion with other intelligent women so I decided to stick it out. And twice now, I have found my self with my mouth gaping wide open at the enormity of what we have just discussed; its newness and freshness for this Presbyterian it-is-what-it-has-always-been skeptic; and its truth for my life.

The book is solely focused on the Parable of the Prodigal Son in Luke:

Now the tax collectors and "sinners" were all gathering around to hear him. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, "This man welcomes sinners and eats with them." Then Jesus told them this parable:

"There was a man who had two sons. The younger one said to his father, 'Father, give me my share of the estate.' So he divided his property between them. Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything."

"When he came to his senses, he said, 'How many of my father's hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men.' So he got up and went to his father."

"But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. The son said to him, 'Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.' But the father said to his servants, 'Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let's have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.' So they began to celebrate."

"Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. 'Your brother has come,' he replied, 'and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.' The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. But he answered his father, 'Look! All these years I've been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!'"

"'My son,' the father said, 'you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.'"

Rather than give you my poor summation of what the book is getting at, I have found an excerpt from a review on Amazon that lays it out pretty well:

The book is laid out in seven brief chapters which aim to uncover the extravagant (prodigal) grace of God, as revealed in this parable. Keller shows how the parable describes two kinds of "lost" people, not just one. Most people can identify the lostness of the "prodigal son," the younger brother in Jesus' story, who takes his inheritance early and squanders it on riotous living. But Keller shows that the "elder brother" in the parable is no less lost. Together, the two brothers are illustrations of two kinds of people in the world. "Jesus uses the younger and elder brothers to portray the two basic ways people try to find happiness and fulfillment: the way of moral conformity and the way of self-discovery." Both brothers are in the wrong, and when we see this, we discover a radical redefinition of what is wrong with us. "Nearly everyone defines sin as breaking a list of rules. Jesus, though, shows us that a man who has violated nothing on the list of moral misbehaviors may be every bit as spiritually lost as the most profligate, immoral person. Why? Because sin is not just breaking the rules, it is putting yourself in the place of God as Savior, Lord and Judge just as each son sought to displace the authority of the father in his own life." As these quotes hint, Keller's exposition of the two sons lays the groundwork for a penetrating analysis and critique of both moral relativists on the liberal left and religious moralists on the conservative right, showing that the latter are just as lost as the former. What both need is Jesus, whom Keller presents as "the true elder brother," the one who comes to our rescue at his own expense. Through his grace, we are given hope and invited to the great feast of the Father.

--Brian G. Hedges
Hopefully you have followed me here, because here's were I share with you the two things that have made my jaw drop:

1) At our last session, I brought up my question concerning Keller's saying that we should not want the riches of heaven for the riches of heaven, but rather for the relationship with God. While I don't consider myself an 'Older Brother' type - one prone to wanting the riches of heaven but not the father - I had to pause when I considered what it was I wanted out of heaven. If I got to heaven and was for some reason disappointed, would I be angry with God? I don't have any expectations for good things to happen to me on this earth just because I am a Christian and because I have a personal relationship with God...but I do expect to go to heaven. And I don't keep up my relationship with God just to buy my ticket to heaven, my faith is more than that. But truthfully, I want to go to heaven. I've heard it's a really great place. So my jaw dropped when someone asked me WHY I wanted to go to heaven. Furthest from my mind was because I would be closer to God. I mean, somewhere in there I know the answer makes sense...but I never really thought about it before and it truly blew my mind.

2) After that mind-blowing experience I was excited to continue to read the book and looking forward to meeting with the women in my group again this morning. When discussing our initial thoughts of the next chapter, one of the women mentioned that Keller takes a lot of time in this chapter pointing out that religion is different than following Christ and she was interested in hearing our opinions on what that really meant, both for organized religions and for followers of Christ. We discussed Keller's concept that the elder brothers of the world are stuck trying to follow all of the rules to say they have checked off all the boxes, thus trying to take the control out of God's hands. There were many more beautiful discussions over the course of the morning and then the leader of our group shared something with us that truly amazed me. She shared with us something her husband, a pastor, had questioned her with. He asked her which came first. The 10 Commandments or Passover. Our study leader reminded us that Passover was when God delivered his people from Pharaoh as was not a coincidence that Jesus was crucified on Passover and thus all Christians were delivered from their sins. Turns out, the 10 Commandments came AFTER Passover. Meaning, that God delivered us before there were any rules to break. The rules all came after we were already absolved of all of our sins. So we follow the rules not SO we can be saved, but BECAUSE we were saved. She also pointed out that Christianity is the only religion in the world where this is true; that we are saved before we can even break the rules.

Mind blowing stuff, huh. I just didn't expect my mind to be opened any further than it was. It isn't like I was sitting back self righteously thinking that I was better than everyone and didn't need to learn anything new...I just very humbly didn't think there WAS much more to learn. Having grown up in the church, had my own 'younger brother' pilgrimage in my early twenties and the opportunity to come back to God, I didn't think there was that much ground-breaking, mind-blowing, jaw-dropping stuff left.

But His word is living and thus it grows. Enough to even wake up the sleepiest believer.

So what are your thoughts on God?

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Motherhood Myths

Oh here I am with another one for ya...this one may seem inconsequential, but boy am I sick of it already.

No one told me how much time I would spend crouched on the floor wiping stuff up

Little G has been eating the same food we eat for dinner since about 7 months old. Last night, he ate an ear of corn and some roast leg of lamb. The night before he had homemade mac and cheese and half a piece of Tilapia. We have been subscribing to the Baby Led Weaning approach to feeding him with outstanding results...but the freedom of him feeding himself means there is a lot of food on our floors.

He eats three meals a day and two snacks from his high chair and he's getting much better at reigning in the mess, but I still end on the floor five times a day wiping up what didn't make it into his mouth. Since it is 'real' food and not just dry, easily-sweepable baby puffs, using a broom just mashes it further into the floor. And we could get a dog, but it seems very impractical, not to mention insensitive to the dog, to find a Fido friend to agree to be our pet for the sole purpose of cleaning up the floors. Besides, that theory was bunked last month when we visited my mom and sister in PA and Little G figured out that if he dropped food from his high chair the fun doggies would come over and lick his hands. Needless to say, he didn't eat much that week and my mom and sister's dogs gained a pound or two.

I realize this is a small thing to consider and it knowing this little factoid would have never kept me from having a child...but I do feel like it would have been nice if someone had warned me. Thus, I am passing the information along to you of which you may do with it as you please.

In the meantime, I can be found crawling around on all fours under our dining room table.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

MY Jersey Shore

Apparently there is a show out these days called Jersey Shore. I have never watched it, but I have certainly heard enough to be deeply saddened that the image people have of my Jersey Shore - the place where I grew up, the place so deeply ingrained in my bones that it calls to me every season of the year, the place where you bike down the street to get ice cream, the place where you wait out storms on the deck of the beach club, the place where you wait paitently for your dad to come join you after work and toss you around in the pool, the place where you made summer friends - is based on what those buffons have made it out to be.

To me, the Jersey Shore is playing in the sand at the water's edge:

Vista's as far as the eye can see:

Being covered head to toe in sun protective garments and sun screen:

Uncles burying you in the sand:

Setting up your place at the beach early in the day so you can go back to it after lunch:

Jerry-rigging the rental property's cushions to fashion a high chair:

Falling asleep, exhausted, on the couch:

Strolling down the beach in the morning:

Holding hands when the big waves come:

Digging a hole to China...or at least watching while your mom does the work:

Sitting at water's edge as the tide rolls in:

Clambering into a hole:

Excavating with cousins:

Boogie boarding:

Getting ice cream from the truck:

Gaining the confidence to go at it alone:

Sitting on the sandbar:

Playing in the waves:

Getting dressed and heading back to the beach after dinner... take a few last pictures and record another summer of growth...

...and look out at the water one last time...

...before heading home.

For one week a year, they are no longer cousins, but best friends at the beach.

Not sure about you...but no show could ever take that away from me.

Monday, August 02, 2010


Hey, so remember way back when, when I announced that I had scored a gig writing for the new design blog over at FLOR?

Yeah, well, today is the big launch of their new design blog, Musings, and my first post went up earlier this afternoon.

So pop on over and say 'hello' if you get a chance.

And while you're at it, go ahead and just add their blog to your reader but always click through and make lots of fun, interesting comments...come know you want to!