James Urbinski, a humanitarian worker, calls humanitarian work an “imperfect offering.” There is never enough to give. There are never enough resources and people to help. I feel the same about parenting and working. Not even necessarily the two combined, but standalone focus on just parenting or just working has imperfect offering woven throughout. There is never enough of me to go around yet I am expected to be en pointe all the time. And there is never enough of any one human to do this.
After our move to our new house last month, Peach started a new school, after we had started at her other familiar school. Her and Grub’s first day greeting agenda was impressive: it was as though each student in the school had been apprised of their arrival, greeting them at the door by name and making sure they had buddies. Although both Peach and Grub have many new friends now, adjusting to so many new faces and routines has been a challenge for everyone.
These challenges have brought on many emotions, understandably. When she is stressed, Peach either explodes into a frenzied dervish of complaints and frustration or crumples into a tired ball, cuddling with our insouciant family cat and her well worn blanket, her bee-bee. It is when she sleeps, that I can study her. Just like the wiggly toddler who barely held still while exploring the world at all waking hours, my now nine-year-old girl is tall and leggy, hardly holding still for a brush through her snarly hair or a quiet conversation.
It’s beneath her, she might as well say to me. Talking to Mom is kind of boring. She’s too busy making pinky promises with friends, creating beautiful artwork that she inevitably rips up because she wants it to look different, selling lemonade to the neighbors, and forming herself into the larger person she will become. With that piecing together comes the realization that life is not fair. It’s not fair to you that your brother was sitting on the chair first. It’s not fair that you missed the last doughnut because Dad ate it while you were watching TV. It’s not fair that you have a younger brother and sister who want to follow you around. You will see, this is not even the cusp of what is unfair in this world.
I hope that profound, soul-crushing unfairness is not the masonry or the cornerstone of your fiery strength. You will see the injustices of this world and learn how to dissolve them powerfully. You will steep in sadness and learn not to absorb and internalize it all. You will remain stubborn (you are never NOT stubborn!) to help fight. And most of all I hope you know that our family’s love can strengthen you no matter what. This is my imperfect offering to you.
I love you, Peach. I hope this year is your best one yet. You are becoming more and more independent, even decorating your own cake (pandan, of course)! Now to attend to the gaggle of girls you have for your sleepover tonight ….
Cookie design copied from and inspired new designs from ameblo.jp (I tried to link to the website, but the photo did not come up. I originally saw it on Pinterest.)
Royal icing recipe from Sweet Sugar Belle: http://www.sweetsugarbelle.com/2014/02/royal-icing-for-cookie-decorating/
One year ago: painter’s palette cookies (for Peach’s eighth birthday)
Two years ago: coconut cream puff birthday (for Peach’s seventh birthday)
Three years ago: black cocoa cookie-coffee-almond ice cream sandwiches, salted pumpkin and pepita caramels, strawberry cream cheese frosting (for Peach’s sixth birthday)
- FOR THE COOKIES:
- 1 cup unsalted butter
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon almond extract
- 3 cups flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ROYAL ICING:
- 2 pounds (907 g) confectioner's sugar
- 5 tablespoons (about 50 g) meringue powder
- 2 to 3 teaspoons oil-free extract (I like vanilla)
- ½ to ¾ cups warm water
- many choices of food coloring for fur colors: I chose brown, black, yellow, pink, and white.
- MIXING UP THE COOKIES: Cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
- Add egg and almond extract and mix to combine.
- Mix flour, baking powder, and salt in separate bowl,
- Add flour mixture in three parts, while mixing. Mix until a smooth ball forms.
- Pat into disk, wrap in plastic wrap, and chill in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours. The dough can also be frozen for longer storage.
- FORMING AND BAKING: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Remove dough from fridge (if in freezer, thaw overnight in fridge before rolling out) and set up work area.
- Roll to ⅛-inch thickness, and cut out as many kitties as you can. Reroll scraps once, as any more than that can cause the dough to bake with uneven tops and toughen the cookies.
- Bake 7 to 8 minutes, or when cookie has lost its shiny top. Don't brown or overbake, though the kitty ears will be a tad brown. Cool for a few minutes on baking sheet then remove to rack to cool completely. Cookies can be frozen if wrapped tightly after being cooled completely. They keep well in an airtight container at room temperature for a few days. Wait at least 24 hours before decorating with royal icing.
- THE ROYAL ICING PREP: Stir the flavoring/extract into half the water.
- Using a paddle attachment on a stand mixer, gently mix the sugar and meringue powder. No need to sift.
- With the mixer on its lowest setting slowly add the water/flavoring mix to the sugar/meringue. The icing will become thick and lumpy.
- Continue to add the remaining water, little by little, until the mixture reaches a thick, honey like consistency. You may not need all of the water, so watch carefully.
- Now, turn the mixer to medium speed and whip 2 to 4 minutes until icing is thick and fluffy. Mixing time can vary greatly so watch carefully and stop mixing when the icing forms soft peaks. This makes about 5 cups. This keeps for a week well wrapped at room temperature.
- DECORATING: Divide the icing into various bowls, tinting each your desired cat colors. Keep each bowl covered until ready to use. Royal icing dries out really fast: you don't want crusty bits clogging your piping tips. If you need a primer on piping consistency, look at Sweet Sugar Belle's site for 20 second icing. That's approximately what I use. In general, experiment and be flexible.
- Pipe the fur patterns first, then allow to dry, preferably overnight. Add the face. Allow to dry overnight before serving. Me-OW!