Have you ever said "yes" to something and then later thought, “What have I done?”
That was me, a little less than 8 years ago when I said “okay” to my younger brother throwing a party at our house while mom and dad were gone.
“I’ll invite all the church kids,” he said, “And I promise I won’t tell anyone mom and dad are gone."
Now, I was in my early twenties and I just moved back from college and was now living at my parents house. I mean high school wasn’t THAT far buried into the past... but I was a really good and really NAIVE high school kid. I mean, I was kind of perfect, lol. Okay, not perfect but seriously…. no, I was perfect.
My brother wanted to have a dance party in the backyard. "Oh totally!" I said, thinking this would be so much fun. I had a surprise dance party for my 16th birthday and it was such a blast. This party would totally be like that one.
On that Saturday night, hundreds of teenagers flooded our backyard in a matter of an hour. Hundreds. Kids from all over. Kids carrying liquor bottles and smoking cigarettes. The music was so loud I thought my ear drums were going to burst.
I started turning kids away to go home. They pushed passed me and kept walking. I pulled cigarettes out of kids mouths, smashing them with my shoes shouting, they were too young to smoke and to go the hell home. I grabbed one liquor bottle from one kid and threw it away. I didn't know how to make it stop. I was in a panic and running on adrenaline. I needed help. (And even now I can't believe I had the guts to be so confrontational and fearless with kids I'd never met.)
My brother, my OTHER brother, the older, but still younger than me brother Ben, was out delivering pizzas that night. He’s bigger and stronger than I am. I called him hoping he could help. His voice mailbox was full. I texted. No reply.
I called my mom’s brothers, aka my uncles, that lived close by. I called my grandpa. Nothing, no one answered. It was Saturday night after all. I was like that little metal ball in a pinball machine being sling shot pinged from one person to the other trying to find a solution in a frenzy panic.
I went onto the dance floor and with all my strength pulled my brother off of it. He FREAKED OUT at me, and asked what the beep I thought I was doing? I lost it. I mean, I completely lost my $#*t. "WHAT AM I DOING?!” I retorted, "What the hell are YOU doing?!" I asked him how he could do this to me? Why did he lie to me? Clearly he made this a "no parents at home" party (and come to find out that's exactly what he blasted all over facebook). He told me to relax that he would close the party down in 20 minutes. He wandered back to the dance floor.
The party just got bigger.
I finally ran away from the party and just hid inside my parent’s home with my little sister. We closed all the windows and turned off all the lights and just sat there on the kitchen floor in the darkness. I didn’t know what to do. I couldn’t just leave. My little sister started to cry.
After what seemed like forever, my OTHER brother, Ben, got done with his pizza delivery shift, pulled up into the drive way and rushed inside the house. My sister and I hadn’t moved from the kitchen floor. “Help,” I said, "I don’t know what to do. I’ve tried to stop it, but I can’t get the kids to go home. This party is out of control.”
My brother was furious. I could tell. But this brother doesn’t loose his cool like I do. He’s calm. He’s cool under pressure and I swear all my life, I still don’t know how he does it.
Ben, walked outside, across the dance floor and unplugged the music. BAM. Just like that, silence. He scooted the DJ out of the way and into the mic said, “All of you, go home.” People booed. “I mean it or I’m calling the cops.” I’ve never felt dumber in my entire life than I did at that moment. WHY didn’t I think of that? That was so simple. DUH.
It was right at this time that my phone rang. It was one of my uncles. “I’ll be right over.” he said. My grandpa was next and just showed up unannounced. Another uncle came over.
The trusted big, strong adults got there just in time to see floods of kid exit our backyard. They laughed at how big the crowd was, "You weren't kidding."
The lawn was littered with empty bottles of hard liquor, joints and trash.
After our rescuers went home and all the kids had left, we all made our way inside, leaving the trash for tomorrow.
“Are you going to tell mom and dad?” my brother asked. “Not yet.” I said. “We can’t. It’s their anniversary trip bro, this news will ruin it.”
Everyone agreed to keep quiet until they got home. Needless to say, when they did get home, my party-throwing brother was grounded for the rest of his life.
This party was the tipping point for my younger brother. Things with him got way worse before they got better. And just like I pulled him off of the dance floor at 17, I’ve wanted to save him so many times, just as dramatically. But you can’t really save people. You can love them, but they’ve got to save themselves. He taught me that.
In fact, this younger brother of mine has taught me more lessons in life than I care to admit. I’ve learned (from this party and from him) that the simplest answer to most things is usually staring us right in the face.
Most of the time that simple answer is love. Even when it doesn’t make sense and even when it's the hardest thing you’ve ever had to do. I have learned love has so many different layers. Love is stupid, love is wise, love is tough and tough love is even tougher - but it can save lives. So many lessons on love and what love is capable of doing, have been taught to me, intentionally or not, by this brother. He’s made me a better person, I thank him for it.
Happy Birthday Brother. You are a pain in the butt, but I love you so.
chocolate crinkle cookies
adapted from the joy of baking
Zach ("the brother") usually calls me right when I’m in the middle of baking… and I’m usually making cookies for someone or something and without FAIL he always asks, “Chocolate crinkle cookies?!” And 90% of the time, I am not making chocolate crinkles. (I should, though, they’re crazy simple and magnificent). So, for his birthday I always make it a point to make these, because they're his favorite. This is a tried and true, easy recipe. I adore the effect of the oozing chocolate chips nestled into the thick, dark chocolate dough. These cookies are heaven. You may never need a brownie again.
note: You must chill the dough before before rolling these little guys into balls. Chilling the dough ensures that the cookies will crack. The hardest part about these lil’ guys (besides the patience to chill the dough) is taking care not to over bake them. So just be aware that cold dough and a short cooking time, does wonders. xo
1 pound / 450g dark chocolate, chopped (preferably 70% or higher)
8 tablespoons (1 stick) / 112g unsalted butter
1 cup / 200g sugar (preferably organic)
4 large eggs, room temperature (preferably organic)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3 cups / 420g organic pastry flour or all purpose flour
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
¾ cup / 128g dark chocolate chips, optional - do not melt this chocolate!
1 ½ cups / 180g powdered sugar, for rolling our dough balls
Melt chocolate and butter together, and set aside to cool.
Whisk flour, baking powder, salt together in a large bowl.
In an electric mixer, beat together the eggs and sugar until thick and combined. When you lift the electric mixer paddle a thin little yellow ribbon should fall. Add the cooled melted chocolate and vanilla extract. Mix until combined, scrapping the bottom of the bowl as needed.
Add the flour mixture slowly, mixing until it's all incorporated. Add reserved chocolate chips and mix until combined.
Cover and chill dough for at least 3 hours, or overnight.
Once dough is chilled enough to form balls, preheat oven to 325° F / 170° C. Line at least two cookie sheets with parchment paper.
Pour powdered sugar in a shallow bowl and roll each dough ball in the white snow-like sugar until completely covered.
Place dough balls on the cooking sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes, or until barely cracked. Cookies will still look wet inside and probably still look like balls. That's great.
As soon as the cookies come out of the oven, press them slightly with the back of a spoon to ensure a bigger "crack" affect. Dust with more powdered sugar if you wish. (I usually do)
Serve warm. These will keep for 3-4 days in a sealed container but they're the best the day they're made.
why is this good for me?
chocolate - Did you know chocolate has actually been proven to soothe an upset stomach and suppress a cough? It also thins our blood the same way a small dosage of asprin does. That's not all, chocolate is full of antioxidants and anti-cancer properties and these antioxidants strengthen our immune system. This is why dark chocolate, containing 70% cocoa content or more is best, because the higher the cocoa content, the higher the amount of antioxidants.