Monday, November 16, 2015

On this World

I wanted to rant on social media about this, but the blog is a much better outlet. I don't know whose mind I would change at any rate. But seeing people post awful things is breaking my heart. Closing borders? Really? So apparently they'd like us to be like North Korea? No disrespect there, DPRK and Supreme Leader Kim Jong-Un, please don't show up on my doorstep.

I keep thinking of Sam and Frodo's exchange in Mordor from LOTR:

Sam: I know. It’s all wrong. By rights we shouldn’t even be here. But we are. It’s like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger, they were. And sometimes you didn’t want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end, it’s only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you. That meant something, even if you were too small to understand why. But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn’t. They kept going. Because they were holding on to something.
Frodo: What are we holding onto, Sam?
Sam: That there’s some good in this world, Mr. Frodo… and it’s worth fighting for.

On to what I wanted to post on Facebook:

I have seen so much hatred, racism, and xenophobia on social media these last few days (years if I'm being honest). I'm not saying that I'm perfect or PC all the time: after all, I live with white privilege and was born in the USA. I don't have the same perspective as others.

I'm glad that we live in a country where we can question our government and each other without the fear of being imprisoned or stoned to death. So many of our fellow Citizens of Earth look with envy to our elections where leaders are changed regularly, without bloodshed. I'm glad that we all get a vote in that process, even if I don't agree with you. And if you don't vote, shame on you! 

Our fellow Citizens of Earth want what we all want - a chance at life and happiness.

Yes, there are those that wish us harm, but there are plenty of those people who were born here in the good old USA. It's true, like some psychopaths here, some of those "outsiders" have evil hearts (well, mental illness at least.) Others' hearts and minds have been twisted by promises that they or their families will be taken care of if they attack innocent people. If you can't afford to feed your family, what wouldn't you do for them?

Today, I choose hope over fear. I choose to live my life instead of fearing that which I don't know or understand. Why should I let terrorists steal my joy? Their entire purpose is to instill fear in our hearts. 

We can't let them.

Despite many people's beliefs that we are going in the wrong direction, I think future generations are going to do great things. I see evidence of it every day. The high school that I attended just crowned two Special Olympic Athletes to be their Homecoming King and Queen. These kids are inspiring. They are making this world better.

Make a decision to live and not exist. Help others where and how you can and remember that we are all part of the Human Race. 

Today I was feeling powerless to do anything other than speak up when I saw a social media post that I didn't agree with. I got home from work to find an aptly timed letter from VGIF looking for donations. I can't solve the world's problems, but I can write a small check that will actually have an impact on another person's life. Having been involved with their organization, I can attest that their funding truly does make a difference in recipients' lives. If you're feeling powerless, and can afford to donate time or money, I encourage you to donate to VGIF or a similar cause.

There, I feel better already.

With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy. - Max Ehrmann, Desiderata

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Markface's First Birthday

I've been wanting to post these photos for weeks and I am so happy that I finally have a quiet night at home to do it! Jay is working and I put Markface to bed early. Huzzah!

So, we did it. We kept him alive for an entire year.

We've been so busy for the past few months that I was tempted to say screw it and not throw a first birthday party at all. After all, he's not going to remember it. The first birthday party is always about the parents and the pat on the back we give ourselves for surviving.

Not gonna lie, that first year was brutal. I'm sure that each year will bring its own challenges, but this one was rough. 

There were many reasons not to throw the party on the date we decided to - it was Labor Day Weekend, we'd given everyone less than a week's notice, it was the day after we were attending a wedding, and Jay had to work the next day... among other things. The following weekend, we had TWO weddings to attend. We didn't have the "perfect" weekend to throw his party until nearly a month after his actual birthday.

So we said screw it, let's do it on his birthday - September 6th. 

On Monday, I sent my new friend Steve a message... was there any way he could do Markface's birthday cake for that weekend?

As luck would have it, he could. He asked me what I wanted to do... I said it could be simple and just have his name in the STAR WARS style font, or that he was welcome to be "creative" if he wanted. 

He's amazing, so obviously he went the creative route. 

"I was thinking Death Star," he said. 

The detail was just incredible.

"Oh, and you should do a smash cake, too."

These cakes were absolute masterpieces. And even better, they tasted awesome! I couldn't believe we had to actually eat them. 

The other really cool thing that we found out a few weeks ago is that Chef Steve is going to be on the Food Network's Holiday Baking Championship. It airs November 1st at 9 p.m. - make sure you tune in!

And my kid had to destroy his smash cake? Little did I know at the time that it was prepared by our own local celebrity.

He was actually pretty meticulous about the way he destroyed his cake. It was anticlimactic to be totally honest. First he ate the piping piece by tiny piece.

Then Dada ripped open the fondant so that he could get to the delicious inside... chocolate and vanilla.

He didn't have enough on his face, so Makayla (Aunt Brenda's granddaughter) smeared some icing on his nose. I was actually kind of happy at the lack of mess. I think it's pretty gross that parents purposely cover their kid's face in icing. It's sticky and just gross. Yuck. Not to mention that it's wasteful! Especially with a cake as great as that.

A day or two before the party, I realized that we were going to have a lot more people than our "low-key" planned event. I was expecting no more than 25 people. Maybe 30 people at most. We had over 50 show up! When I realized that the guest list was getting out of hand, I asked Steve to make some vanilla cupcakes. "Really, Lauren? You have a Death Star birthday cake, and you're asking for plain old vanilla cupcakes? "Okay! If that's what you want..."

He of course had to decorate our plain old vanilla cupcakes too. Which were amazing. I'm glad I got one before they were all eaten.

Here are more pictures from the party...


We do what we can to get him to look up. He's always looking down - except of course when he's running or walking. Then he faceplants. A lot.

He looks thrilled.

With his Godfather Sean

Silly boy

Markface is all sugared up and on the loose... oh hey look, his tux has tails!

One last thing to mention about the party - due to the last-minute nature of it and pretty much not giving a shit, the food was terrible. We bought crappy pre-made burgers and hot dogs at the store, and I attempted to make baked beans for the first time. I used dry beans. They were awful. Thank God for the desserts (apart from Steve's cakes & cupcakes, we also had his Cannolios, which are amaaaaazing). Sara also brought cole slaw, and Jay's macaroni salad is always delicious... but the main food was pretty bad. We've fallen a long way from our grilled tenderloin with fresh horseradish sauce, raw oysters, mini quiches, fresh bruschetta on homemade baguettes and local cheese! And definitely no ice cream on fresh-baked cookies. I didn't even make pulled pork. Ugh. It was pretty embarrassing. Next time we'll do better... although maybe our poor performance will dissuade some guests from attending our next party. Ha!

I'm going to do my best to get back into blogging. Now that I'm getting more sleep, I hope to be back into it. I have so much to catch up on and we're also heading back to Key West for our five year anniversary in December. It's gone so fast! 

More to come soon, I hope!