Crinkled Molasses Cookies

Although I usually post recipes on another page, Danielle Bean plans to host a Christmas cookie carnival, and it makes more sense to put this recipe here. The recipe is from Cookies! A Cookie Lover’s Collection. I wish all cook books came with full color photos of the final product like this one does. Years ago, Bill came home from work after shopping at a book fair and told me he had gotten me a present. I took one look and asked if he got it for me or for him. It doesn’t matter now; everybody here loves this book. The kids pore over it like it was a toy catalog.

1 cup sugar
3/4 cup vegetable shortening
1/4 cup light molasses
1 egg
2 cups flour
2 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
1/4 tsp salt
granulated sugar

Heat oven to 350 deg. In a large mixing bowl, combine 1 cup sugar, shortening, molasses and egg. Beat at medium speed until well blended. Add flour, baking soda, salt and spices. Beat at low speed until soft dough forms.

Shape dough into 1 inch balls. Roll in granulated sugar. Place 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheets. Bake for 8 to 12 minutes, or until set. Cool completely before storing. Freezes well. Makes 5 dozen.

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The Birthday Meme

I was tagged by SFO Mom. As an aside, I despise Wikipedia, but I’ll play anyway.

Here’s how you play:

1) Go to Wikipedia
2) In the search box, type your birth month and day but not the year.
3) List three events that happened on your birthday
4) List two important birthdays and one death
5) One holiday or observance (if any)

My birthday is April 7th.

3 events:

1805 – First public performance of Beethoven’s Third Symphony (Eroica).
1906 – Mount Vesuvius erupts and devastates Naples.
1933 – Prohibition was repealed for beer of no more than 3.2% alcohol by weight (or 4% by volume), eight months before the ratification of XXI amendment.

2 important birthdays:

1506 – Saint Francis Xavier, Spanish founder of the Society of Jesus (d. 1552)
1954 – Jackie Chan, Hong Kong actor

1 death:

30- Jesus according to the Bible (Do you see why I hate Wikipedia? I mean, reallywhat Bible says that Jesus died on April 7th, 30? Are there dates in your Bible? What calendar are they using?)

Holiday/observance:

World Health Day – April 7th of every year is designated as World Health Day and celebrated by the 191 member countries of the World Health Organization to emphasize significant issues in public health of worldwide concern. Observed annually since 1948.

You’re it!

Celeste
Sarah

It’s never too late to say thank you

On Thanksgiving day, our doorbell and phone both rang at the same time. Since the Caller ID said Private Name Private Number, we ignored the phone and focused our attention on our first guest to arrive. But when one minute later the phone rang again with Private Name Private Number, my instincts (my curiosity) told me to answer it.

It was our friend, Perry, calling from Afghanistan to wish us a pleasant Thanksgiving. Well, actually, he wasn’t calling for us, he was calling for his family, who he hoped was at our house. Although we expected them soon, they were, unfortunately, not the first guests arriving just then.

I passed Perry off to Bill right after I confirmed that this was indeed a wretched Thanksgiving for him. I don’t envy him at all. It is hard to be a single mom and hold the fort down while Uncle Sam sends your husband away for a year. There were many times I longed for a vacation and thought Bill was the lucky one since he didn’t have to deal with the insanity that was (still is) my life. But honestly, never ever ever would I choose to be apart from my children for a year. Too much happens in that time, and I don’t know how I could bear the pain of missing it.

Now, a weekend away…that sounds really nice…

Besides Perry’s family, we also had my friend Stacy and her children here. Stacy’s husband is in Afghanistan, too. I was very happy to be able to host this dinner for these friends. I’d have hosted every deployed soldiers’ family in the area if my home and budget were big enough. I’m not happy that they need to be hosted; I’m just happy if I can distract them for a few hours.

Growing up, it was a tradition to go around the table during Thanksgiving dinner and list the things for which we were most thankful. For the past 8 years, I’ve been able to spend Thanksgiving with my parents, and we continued to do it. I’m willing to bet that my sister, her family and my parents did it last Thursday as usual. That’s what makes it a tradition.

I considered carrying on the tradition here this year as well. But then I thought of my guests, and I really didn’t want them to have to offer a litany of their blessings. The emotions are too high, and the setting – with Bill’s parents, brother, sister, and aunt here as well – wasn’t appropriate for that potential mine field. So, we gathered everyone in the kitchen where the buffet was assembled and offered the traditional Catholic blessing before meals with no extemporaneous ramblings before freeing the guests to fill their plates. I walked away to attend to something, and Stacy came up, gave me a quick hug and thanked me for being a good friend. The rapidity with which she dashed off to get some food for her little ones affirmed that public displays of thanksgiving would not have been a good idea.

Although I am sad that our military is deployed, and I’m not certain we’re accomplishing much, I am very thankful that we have a proud military who voluntarily sacrifices so much for so very little personal recompense. And even if they don’t seem to make a difference in Afghanistan or in Iraq, they do make a difference here in the United States. We are so accustomed to freedom here and so very oblivious to the conditions under which the vast majority of the world lives. We debate tax codes for churches while citizens of other nations pray they don’t get caught worshipping in a manner in which they choose. We rally against censorship if a library wants to put filters on computers to prevent children from seeing pornography while citizens of other nations are arrested for simply owning a Bible. And we owe these freedoms, not to political activists who lobbied for changes and had sit-ins and hunger strikes, but to soldiers who fought and died for it. And while activists may keep the public aware of dangers from within our own society who seek to destroy our freedoms, it is our military which prevents forces from without from forcing us to live in constant fear.

I am also thankful for these military families who manage to keep on with life despite the hardship of deployment. We have an all-volunteer military only because of supportive families and strong women like Stacy and Perry’s wife, Kim.

But most of all, thank you, dear Lord in Heaven above, that it’s not my husband over there right now. I am so very grateful to have him here at home.

Jump ropes

Recently, the kids have been singing:

Cinder-ella
Dressed in yella
Went upstars to kiss a fella
Made a mistake
Kissed a snake
How many doctors did it take?
1…2…3…4…5…

I think I taught this rhyme to Fritz years ago, and he must have pulled it from the deep recesses of his memory. In my neck of the woods growing up, it was a jump rope rhyme, usually sung by the two girls holding the ends of a long rope while the girl or two in the middle tried to break the record and jump to the highest count.

The only times I remember jumping rope during recess were the two years I attended a Catholic school in Canton, Ohio – second and third grade. There was no playground. The little kids (like me) played in a concrete courtyard, and the older kids played on the asphalt parking lot. There were balls and jump ropes, and that’s it. No slides, no swings, no basketball hoops. We were highly encouraged to expend vast amounts of energy by jumping rope (mostly by the girls) or running in some sort of game with balls (mostly by the boys). I don’t remember feeling deprived or bored. I also don’t remember any public school I attended having jump ropes. They all had playgrounds.

Bill went to Catholic schools from 1st through 12th grades. Same deal: jump ropes or balls on an asphalt parking lot for recess. But he says they took the ball away because the boys were getting too sweaty. Yeah.

Fondly recalling those jump rope days and inspired by my kids Cinderella chanting, I went online and found these playground jump ropes just like the ones from those Catholic school days, but with lighter beads. I bought them as stockings stuffers – one for each of my 4 older kids. I also bought a “Double Dutch” set, so my kids can play together.

I’ve got an asphalt alley behind my house. Next up: plaid jumpers and navy slacks, and SMARTY PANTS will have a professional air.

Does anybody recall any jump rope rhymes from their childhood? I’d like to have a full repertoire to teach the kids.

Football, running and coffee creamer

Although it is painfully clear who won the Bengals – Browns game yesterday, I’m not certain who won the Bengals – Packers game played in my backyard around the same time. Both my boys seemed to have sustained minor abrasions. Billy, for once, was excited to see his own blood pouring from his lip. My suggestion that they tone down their tackle “football” to something a bit less aggressive fell on deaf ears.

At one point, I poked my head into the backyard and Fritz said, “Mom, look how muddy I am!” And then Billy said, “Mom, look how muddy I am!” I asked if the point of the game was to get muddy, and Billy answered in the affirmative with a look that seemed both shocked and bewildered that I didn’t already know the answer to that question.

Later, Bill played with the boys and is now nursing an injured knee.

Of course, who I am to point out their foolishness? At least they had fun obtaining their wounds. The palm of my hand and my knee are still stinging from a fall I took this morning barely a tenth of a mile into my run. It would have been much better had I just stayed in bed that extra half hour. Instead of exercising myself and my dog, I hurt myself and put three holes in the only well-fitting pair of running pants I own. And my left ankle doesn’t feel great either, having been rolled off the edge of the pavement causing my fall.

ugh.

On a good note (always must end on a good note), I have to chuckle at a man I overheard at the grocery store yesterday. He and his wife were contemplating various flavored coffee creamers as I reached for International Delight’s Pumpkin Pie Spice. Having had too many of Starbuck’s Pumpkin Spice lattes (and if you’ve had one, you’ve had too many: my SIL accurately compared them to crack – have one, get addicted), I eagerly jumped at the opportunity to inexpensively recreate the flavor in the comfort of my own kitchen. The man was rejecting the Pumpkin Pie Spice because he felt it was a Thanksgiving leftover. “There must be a reason nobody else wanted it,” he said, implying the reason was that it wasn’t good tasting. I actually paused for a nanosecond, contemplated the under $2 purchase and considered returning it.

But now, as I sit here enjoying this little luxury, I’m happy I didn’t listen to the man. There are many reasons these creamers might be there – not just the possibility that the hoards tried the flavor and found it lacking. The risk of trying it was pretty insignificant; the pleasure of success is immeasurable. It’s a shame the man was more willing to follow what he perceived, possibly erroneously, to be the crowd’s opinion than to take a minor risk and find out for himself the truth.

And I suppose this is the lesson I need to learn today as I whimper over my injuries and wish I’d stayed in bed instead of wasting my morning. I could have gotten a half hour more sleep. But I could get a half hour more sleep every day. Instead, most days, I get up and I run two or three miles with success. Today, I was not successful. There is no guarantee that I will or will not have a good run when I head out at 430 am. But had I stayed in bed, there is 100% certainty that I would not have had a good run by the simple fact that I would not have attempted it.

To paraphrase Moses, we can choose life or death. I say, we can choose a premature death by not living life. God, help me to live.

THE RULES

Last night, Bill and I herded the last of the kids into the boys’ bedroom where the usual pre-bedtime melee was in full swing. We sat on the floor, since the beds were heaped with squirming, squealing lumps.

“Children, ” I said, “come sit down here. We have an important matter to discuss.” And dutifully, they all presented themselves in a line on the floor.

“Come sit here by me, Daddy,” said Katie.

“Oh, no,” he said, “I’m on this side of the discussion.”

And so I began: “You guys have been giving us a hard time for weeks now at bedtime. I’ve been thinking it over, and I’ve decided that perhaps you just don’t know what THE RULES are. So, I’m going to tell you all THE RULES, and then we will expect you all to follow THE RULES. In a few minutes we will say prayers, and then we will tuck you all into your beds and say goodnight. At that point, it is bedtime. THE RULES are that you will lie on your beds, close your mouths, close your eyes, and go to sleep. You will not talk. You will not go get a drink of water. You will not go to the bathroom. You will not stop by your brothers’ or sister’s bedroom on the way to the bathroom to see what they are doing. You will not come downstairs to tell us all the rule breaking your siblings are doing.”

At this point, Katie raises her hand. She is on the verge of tears, but she’s been on the verge of tears for five years now. She barely manages to squeak out her question. “But when are we supposed to go to the bathroom?” Katie happens to be our worst bedtime offender.

NOW, Katie. You see, when we send you up to get ready for bed, we expect you to get ready for bed: wash up, pajamas on, teeth brushed, bathroom, drink of water, all that. So when we tuck you in and say goodnight, you’re all ready to go to sleep.”

“But what if we really have to go to the bathroom, Mom?” Fritz is old enough to reason that we don’t really want wet beds either, so which “rule” is going to win? I know if you give a kid an exception to a rule, you will deal with exceptions for an hour every night, since that’s been the problem for the last few months.

“Going to the bathroom after bedtime is against THE RULES. If you have to go, I suggest you not get caught. And the best way to not get caught is to go right there, hurry up and get back to bed fast. If you take a long time, stop to admire yourself in the mirror, swing by your sisters’ room to tell them what you’re doing or invite your brother to keep you company, you WILL get caught.”

“Oh.” Hmmm…breaking THE RULES but not getting caught…interesting concept…

“OK, let’s review: after bedtime, are you supposed to stay in bed?”

“YES,” comes a chorus of voices.

“Will you talk to your brother or sister or sing or jump around or read out loud?”

“NO,” comes a chorus of voices.

“Good. Now, infractions are punishable – possibly by spanking. Everybody understand that?”

“YES,” comes a chorus of voices.

And so, after prayers there was a bustle of final preparations for bed that should have been done earlier and will be done earlier tonight, and then the kiddies went off to bed. Five minutes later, Bill passed through and did some remindings of the rules, and five minute after that, I passed through and chased a few kids back to bed. And we heard some thumping from the boys’ bedroom for about ten more minutes. And when we finally went upstairs, we found Katie in her usual spot – sleeping at the top of the stairs, because she’s scared of the dark in her room.

{We allow her to leave the bedroom door all the way open and she’s turned her pillow to be at the foot of her bed and right by the door – basically it is just as light by her head in her room as it is in the hall, but she prefers the hall. This photo was taken last month when she convinced Jenny to sleep with her in the hall.}

We did not spend an hour telling kids to be quiet, so I think it was a success, despite the minor infractions.

And thanks to Advil, the teething toddler made it all the way through the night without waking. Wow. I think I can take on the world after all this rest.