Friday, February 25, 2011

Parenting through disasters.

I don't know how they have done it since September, or how they are doing it now.

To make a few sweeping generalisations, parents tend to try and protect their children from unnecessary distress and so edit what they hear or are told.  Thanks to 'Suzy's World' DD1 knows all about earthquakes (actually, more than most adults - do you know about tectonic downwarping), and given the massive coverage this time round there was no way to avoid her learning about it.  Also, I was very worried about my family based in Christchurch and Timaru.  I explained that there had been an earthquake in the South Island, that everyone got a nasty surprise, but that they were OK.  Luckily that is true for my relatives - homes uninhabitable, but alive.

I thought that she absorbed the explanation well, but the next night she volunteered at the dinner table that she was feeling sad.  She was worried about her Grandparents and cousin.  We quickly called them so that she could hear that they were OK.  That night - nightmares.  One of them about an earthquake and fire coming out of the earth.

We are very safe and sound at our house, and life continues as normal in our family, but if that is the impact of the earthquake on a four year old who didn't experience it, then what must it be like for those parents who have to explain hourly aftershocks?  Even worse, those with 'missing' friends and families who are not now likely to be found alive.  I can't even comprehend what it is like for the siblings of the infants who died.

To make myself feel better I have restocked the emergency kit, made a written disaster plan for our family and friends with cellphone numbers and addresses of locations, including our nearest civil defence places.  My list of emergency contacts for DD1 at her creche now has about seven names on it.  I actually feel panicky just thinking about how to get to her in an emergency.

Kia Kaha to those parenting through this disaster - you are perhaps in a living nightmare, and facing perhaps some of the toughest parenting/ family challenges you will ever experience.  My most fervent hope is that all this goodwill out there comes your way, and that the needs of you and your family are met.

Valentine's sugar cookies

Having children makes me want to create traditions.  Many of these are based on childhood experiences, some are based on my husband's upbringing and the rest are kind of made up.  Years ago when my husband and I started going out I bought each of us these rather twee little books of romantic poetry accompanied by romantic music on CD.  I believe we have never used the CDs, but I was fascinated by the love letters between historical figures, and one of the books contained romantic recipes.  I made these delicious cookies frequently when flatting in Dunedin.  I had a real desire to make them with my daughter this year for Valentine's Day but couldn't find the books.  I was sure that I hadn't thrown them out (after all, what kind of relationship symbol would that be) and was glad when both were located.

The books were purchased in my favourite Christchurch central city bookstore - a perennially 'going out of business' store that did, in fact, go out of business.  I believe it turned into a music store, then something else.  After the second Christchurch earthquake the other day I no longer know if it is standing.  It is about half a kilometre from the area of greatest devastation.

These are yummy cookies but I did come across a problem in the humidity of this summer:  these biscuits are frustrating to make when the room temperature is wicked hot, or there is high humidity.  I put the heat pump on to cool down the room, but I found that I had to re-chill the dough all the time.  So some of the charm was lost in making the biscuits this time, but I'm sure if made on a cool day it would be a pleasure!

Because they need to be chilled sometimes I make it the night before.  The next day I let my daughter into my massive collection of cookie cutters and go nuts!

Heart Shaped Sugar Cookies, adapted from 'A Token of Love.'

1/2 cup soft butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1 TBSP milk or cream
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 teaspoon lemon extract
1-1/2 cups flour
1 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
Raspberry jelly crystals

Combine ingredients in above order. Chill dough.  Roll out very thin, about 1/4 of an inch (I roll between sheets of baking paper to prevent sticking to the rolling pin). Cut into heart shapes with a cookie cutter (If it gets sticky re-chill the dough), sprinkle with the jelly crystals and bake at 180 degrees on baking sheets until very lightly browned - about 8-10minutes.  One recipe makes about 60 small cookies.

Dream feed

Sleeping baby girl
Primal feeding instinct
Sleeps until morning