Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Baking a prayer

During the first weeks the United States engaged Iraq in a war, we were visiting family in Florida. One morning, while reading the local newspaper, a very small book announcement caught my eye. It stated that Nawal Nasrallah was publishing a cookbook titled, "Delights from the Garden of Eden - A cookbook and a History of the Iraqi Cuisine."

I was intrigued for two reasons. The first being my father-in-law had just used the same self publishing company to get his book out, and I was struggling with the idea of how we could, as a people, hate an entire country for the actions of a few.

I went on the web to find out more about this author. What I found out amazed me. First of all I had to travel 1500 miles to read about a remarkable author who lived not 30 miles from my house. Ms. Nasrallah is remarkable. She is a teacher, a wife, a mother, a person who has suffered, and seen war. She fled Iraq the day that Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait.

I bought her book. I knew she would be able to help me understand the peaceful Iraqi people. I wanted to get to know the mothers and their children, and figured learning about their cuisine was a good place to start.

Being a baker, I turned to the cakes and breads. My first foray into Iraqi cooking was the Energizing Fruit Cake (Kekat al-Fawakih al-Mujaffafa). It is a wonderful cake made with dried fruit and nuts. Much lighter than the traditional English fruit cake that gets passed around at Christmas. And true to her word, one slice of this cake in the morning is enough to carry you until dinner. Of course, it is so good, I find it hard not to eat two slices and then I still dream about more.

The next recipe I tried was the Gold'n Spicy Pumpkin Bread (Kekat al-Shijar al-Ahmer). This was another hit with the family, and friends. And I found myself baking these breads and giving them to people or bringing them to church bake sales. For example, when a neighbor's son returned from the war I baked a bread and dropped it over. I didn't make a big deal out of it. But in my heart I knew that baking this bread was a prayer of thanksgiving for his return and also a prayer for the innocent people in Iraq.

It's been years now, and I cook Iraqi food mixed in among our other standards. Instead of whipping up a meatloaf I follow the recipe for scotch eggs, (spicy meat wrapped around hard boiled eggs). We've eaten the Zucchini Squares, Cheese Crescents, Sugar Cookies, to name a few. For a while there I was on a streak, not one failed recipe.

Not one until I made Fava beans with Eggs. Mind you, I LOVED IT! But fava beans has become the latest and longest "food punishment". In other words, "Don't piss off Mom or she'll make those fava beans!" Of course, I won't mind at all.

So, this entry started to bubble up and churn because we are having an anniversary celebration at our church this weekend and as an alternative to donuts after the 8 a.m. Mass I offered to bring along some Energizing Fruit Cake. And along with this cake, a prayer.

This is MY KIND of day.

I looked on the daily calendar and there are only TWO items listed: Coffee with BigMama and Maria's concert at school this evening at 7 p.m.

Does life get any sweeter?

Friday, May 26, 2006

Errand, errands, errands

Finally, we are home. I am suppose to be packing for a world-wind wedding trip (not our own) to VA., but instead I'm sitting here, eating a tuna fish sandwich (with mayo, Cains to be specific), drinking a cold cup of morning old coffee (oversharing?) and reading my daily meditation.

Here it is, "In all our best efforts to provide advantages we have actually produced the busiest, most competitive, highly pressured and overorganized generation of youngsters in our history -- and possibly the unhappiest."

Now that is something to ponder. The Lazears go on to say, "... When the entire family is overextended and everyone has overachieved as best as he can, you have a house with the lights on, and nobody home."

I have to agree. I love those lazy playdate days. When the girls have a friend or two over, there is no plan, and there is no screaming.

I love long quiet mornings when we all can sleep as late as we want. And then to roll over and sleep some more.

I love afternoons full of board game play, and no phone.

And I love putting make up on the girls and painting their nails 4 different colors. It's a rare time when I "get all dolled up." At the elementary school or church function, I'm the over aged mom wearing the mommy drab uniform to a tee. So, I'm not a glamour expert by no means. But I'm the mom, and we all know, until a child becomes a teenager, moms know everything.

Finally, I guide I can relate to.

BigMama lent me the most wonderful book on playdates and childrearing. It's "The Three-Martini Playdate" by Christie Mellor. On page 37 it has the recipe for a great martini.

Now, this is my type of parenting guide.

Truly it is. So far I have learned that:

1. Children don't have to monopolize each and every adult conversation that exists on this planet. (Now if only my children would learn this.)

2. It's OKAY to say NO to your children. (Good thing, I've been doing this for years.)

3. It's OKAY to have an adult only party, where the children are safely tucked into their beds. (This would be an evening get together, not a 24 hour all day affair type of thing.)

Can't wait to get back to into it. The martini recipe caused a pause in my reading...

Thursday, May 25, 2006

"Some defeats are important..."

According to the Lazears, "Giving in to get your way may sound manipulative, but it also may be good, kind parenting. I want to be more modulated in my control of my children."

I am learning through my children that the house will not fall down around us nor will the world end if their rooms are not picked up, today or even tomorrow.

And they are learning from life, that when you don't pick up your room, that things, their very important things, get lost in the mess.

Some lessons are best learned on one's own. (smile)

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Advanced Mastermind

This afternoon the young one and I played game after game of Advanced Mastermind. And even though she's many years away from the recommended age, she was able to set the pattern and then give me the correct data so I could make my next guess. It was a blast to watch her little mind work as she carefully checked my picks against her master.

Another good day.

For BigMama

Over coffee, BigMama reminded me that I haven't been posting on the daily advice I get from Mediations for Parents Who Do Too Much. I told her I do read it everyday, but some how I forgot this morning. Truly I doubt she is looking for advice. She has the mothering thing down pat.

Anyway here is today's excerpt, and it is a direct quote, "How often do we not see children ruined through the virtues, real or supposed, of their parents?"

The Lazears go on to say that parents will do anything not to face their own loneliness and filling up the calendar to keep themselves active via their children is not the answer.

Thankfully, I don't find myself seeped in loneliness to often. At times, yes -- but luckily these times are few and far between. And I have to agree with the Lazears, a full calendar is not the sign of a happy house, nor does it make me a happy person. For us, a full calendar is the sign of a frantic spinning out of control house. With three lovelies, it is very hard to make sure we have time at home with no schedule. I love a backyard full of kids making it up as they go along. I love the make believe and the private worlds that appear in my living room or under the dining room table. I love finding one of the lovelies curled up in their bed with a good book.

When we allow children to use their imagination, work through the "I have nothing to do's," we give them the chance to find happiness and reliance within themselves. And what parent doesn't want that for their child.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Can you see me now? Can you see me now?

Took the offspring to get their vision checked.
They need glasses.

Scrap paper for a wedding card

We are off to a wedding and I need to write the card so I'm going to use this entry as scrap, a place to gather my thoughts and see them in print...

Love and Peace from Our Home Town!

This card was created by the one and only bazphotogirl. She has a genuine eye for beauty. May this card remind you that two hearts beat stronger than one.

The DVD is the digital slideshow we had made for Memere's and Pepere's Annversary. It's nice to keep family close.

Our friend, Mrs. D., made the bowl. Her approach to working with clay is the same approach she follows in life. She believes that life's beauty is the result of love, and patience. May this bowl overflow with love and patience for the rest of your life.

The painted silk scarf was created by our neighbor, SFLifer. She is a dear, dear friend. Always there with an ear, offering a glass of wine or a cup of good strong coffee. May your life be full of over the fence friends. Remember, friendship is the best gift of all.

These fragrant soaps were created by the girls. They experience life to it's fullest. They have taught me to relax and welcome life's unexpected daily changes. (Even if they seem like curve balls at the time.) May your life be filled with life's unexpected joy and excitement.

The maple syrup is our own. Like marriage, maple sugaring is a lot of work, but from that work comes an unmatched delicate sweetness. May your life together be sweetened by your own efforts.

The Start

I woke up this morning to joyful birds. It was lovely.
Instead of bracing for the morning marathon,
I let my body sink down.
Felt the warmth of the quilt on top of me
And breathed in my still asleep husband.
Every muscle unwound, every joint relaxed
and I thought of nothing but those singing birds.

Would I be singing today?

Friday, May 19, 2006

Is it late, or is it early?

Bad dreams always result in company. And just as sure as summer time goes hand in hand with buzzing bees, a night time guest means a sleepless night.

And it's not that I mind. It's strangely heart warming to sense those little feet padding their way to my side of the bed. From somewhere the word what hangs in the air as I wait to hear the true to form words, "I had a bad dream." A potty stop later, where there once was two, there are now three. And for hours I lay there wishing for my eyes to hold themselves closed on their own. But it never happens.

So, there is a little bundle taking over my blankets and pillow. All cozy and nestled among the warmth of our quilt. She breathes to an innocent rhythm of trust and comfort as I sit here searching for words that are still tucked away in my sleepy brain.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

My New Book

Big Mama presented me with a mommy's day present today. A book titled, Meditations for Parents Who Do Too Much. Each day there is a few lines, that even I should be able to find time to read. But just in case things get frantic, I read tomorrow's already. It said, "When you are dealing with children, keep your wits about you and sit on the floor."

Truer words have never been spoken, never mind written down.

The preschool my youngest attended is over for the year. We have been home alone, together for three days now, two of which were rainy. She is used to being entertained at school, between the hours of 9 and 12, and I've grown accustomed to this block of time being chatter free. Can you see the problem here?

So, after reading this pearl of wisdom I thought, just try it. Sit on the floor and see what happens.

Well it worked. Quiet and calmness happened. We played at least a billion games of Guess Who? and then later went outside for some bike riding. I use the term bike riding loosely. She yells at me to never let go of her shirt as she rolls down the driveway, and on the way back she yells at me to push. I looked upon the whole hour of back and forth as unanticipated exercise. And an opportunity to remind her to use nice words.

In the end it was a good day.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Let the fighting begin

This morning started off peaceful. I read my email in peace. Checked my neighborhood of blogs in peace. I even showered in peace. And then the little ones woke up. From what I could gather they weren't even fully awake before they started in.

Was it fighting? It sounded more like two cats yowling at eachother. Something about I want to wear your shirt even though it's not mine... or something.

I'm not not moved to intervene, hoping there hasn't been any bloodshed.

(Is there a book here... Mornings, early or otherwise, with the Children. It would be a year long series of essays. Of course it would be humor. Why else are moms drawn to tears?)

Monday, May 15, 2006


  • Computer fixed
  • Dollhouse roof finished - 6+ year project
  • Lamp repaired
  • Finished reupholstering the chairs - 8 week project
  • Insulation completed, and now the walls are up. Due for trim tomorrow
  • Finished fourth draft of book - 6+ year project
  • Fed the frogs and tadpole

Next tasks are caulking the woodwork, painting, writing, writing, and writing.

Saturday, May 13, 2006


We booted off an older drive and the box came up. It is limping along, enough for me to back up my photos, mail and writing. (There might be one more dir I have to copy, I'll have to check into that before we do anything drastic.) But no scanner, or printing.


Last night my trusty desktop was running a tad slow, so I figured a reboot would clear the cobwebs. Well... if I had to guess the master boot sector on the hard drive got corrupted, because it starts the reboot and then starts again.

Do I have back ups? NO!

So, KV and MBY you have the ONLY electronic copies of my book. Please save it to a CD, please oh please. I have the draft one set of revisions ago, and I have a hard copy of the revisions, but it's not the same. Oh no, you're going to go stand on the street corner whispering, "Anyone want to but a book?"

And of course, I don't have a backup of my photography either. Sorry BigMama.

We have recovered from this situation before, so I'm not panicked, yet.

Thank GOD, my dear husband is well versed in these things. Then again I used to do help desk support 2 children ago.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Hot Out of the Toaster

"Mom, can you eat the other half of my english muffin? I don't want two."

"No sweetie, but just eat one and don't worry about the other. What do you want on it?"


(Next daughter enters the kitchen.)

"Sweetheart, do you want a half of an english muffin?"


"What do you want on it?"


"MOM," screams first daughter, "she's not getting my other half is she?"


"I don't want her to get the other half of my english muffin."

"Are you going to eat it?"

"No, but I don't want her to have it."

(Insert tantrum here... as mother retreats to computer to make sure the rest of the world's mothers know how lucky they are.)

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

What have you learned this week?

Before having children, this is a question I figured was only asked of grade school youngsters. Now, I know better. This week I have been learning a lot about fireflies via school homework. One fact that has stuck in my head is they are carnivorous. The meal of choice of the larvae and adult is the slug. Through their little tube-like mouths they inject old slime trailer with their own version of novocaine. And while their being numbed they are being digested. Nice huh. Later the fire fly just sucks out the goodies. Just thinking about that is almost enough to put me off food for a week; almost.

Another gruesome fact is they are cannibalistic. In one subspecies of firefly the female lures over (come here big boy) the male of another subspecies by faking him out with her light. And when old hot to trot flies over, she eats him.

And I used to think they were cute.

50,178 words

I did pretty much nothing today but work the fourth rewrite of Forever Yours. (I was suppose to be caulking the woodwork in the kitchen... There's always next Thursday for dreams to come true.)

Boy am I glad, now, it only takes two weeks to get Charles' body home. (Oh, you didn't know that he died.... sorry.) In the last version he was lying around for a month. And then his wife wanted to look upon his face... I thought that won't be a pretty sight for the Young Adult crowd.

Any agents, publishers, or editors out there looking for a great new book? I have a fantastic one here. All ready to go! And IMHO it'll make a great movie as well.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Houston, we have completion...

Hi, my name is ptcakes and I am a procrastinator.

Hi ptcakes...

And topping it all off, I get wicked bent out of shape when I am surrounded by half finished projects. Go figure, but sitting here at my computer, with the 98% finished roof on my daughter's dollhouse screaming at me to trim the darn shingles and touch up the stain, is torture.

Hummm... maybe that's why I've put off rediting my fourth g0-round of Forever Yours? It's so much easier to rest my arms on the draft while I type on this keyboard, trying to avoid looking at the dollhouse which is a mere five feet from my desk. But I disgress.

Anyway, today I finished reupholstering the last of our four red kitchen chairs. (This project took me eight weeks to finish.) Clocking in at a smidgen over 65 years old, the chairs had seen better days many moons ago.

So I "grabbed" a dose of completion today and I should happy.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

The Muses's Daughters

Except for the five short years in the beginning, I've been taking pictures my whole life. And tomorrow is my first showing. The Muses's Daughters. With nine other wonderfully talented and fantastic women; we will be putting our best artistic foot forward. There will be photography, knitted bags, jewelry, pottery, silk scarves, hand decorated dishes, handmade cards and journals. The opening reception is Sunday, May 7th starting at 2 p.m. at Annie's Book Stop 774 Water St. in Framingham, MA

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

No writing, and it's your fault

Well, if your not a Niblet, your off the hook.

This is genre switching week, and there is a lot to review before Thursday's gala. Our meetings are always galas. We had to start the meetings 30 minutes earlier in order to have time to catch up. It amazes me how this little group has woven its literary fingers into my life. I can't imagine a day without checking the blogs, bantering in emailing, and escaping through their written words.

These genre switching pieces are a hoot. Every one creative, and enjoyable to read. What was amazing is I could hear the author's voice through their different genre.

I'm usually Young Adult, (Probably due to the fact I will never grow up.) and I picked poetry out of the hat. After three weeks of trying to put a few lines on paper, I bow down to our resident Poet, Red Soul Girl. Poetry is a tough genre. But I enjoyed it. And when I am suppose to be rewriting my little project, Forever Yours, I find myself thinking of poetic verses. I call it creative procrastination.