Archive - 2011

Gingerbread Cake
P is For
Ballet Mom
O is for
Feast Day
A Day to Remember
I Survived
Love My Web Host
A Six Boy
N is for

Gingerbread Cake

My mother made this gingerbread cake many, many years ago.  I was in college or late high school,  I don’t remember exactly. We thought she’d misplaced the recipe, but then it turned up and she shared it with me.  I’m not sure why, but I never made it.  The recipe just sat in my box, waiting for just the right time.

The day before Pipsqueak was born, Pumpkin Girl and my mother made this gingerbread cale.  After an afternoon of just sitting around, chatting with my mid-wife and some of her assistants, waiting for anything to actually happen, we went down to the kitchen to enjoy some dessert.

I did mention Pipsqueak was born at home, didn’t I?  No?  Heh-heh.  He was – thus allowing me to sit in my room, chatting with my midwife and eating homemade gingerbread for dessert.

In honor of this, The Day Before Pipsqueak Turns One, I present to you the recipe for what is certain to become a late-October tradition.

Gingerbread Cake


  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1 cup light molasses
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon each salt, ground cloves and freshly grated nutmeg
  • 2 teaspoons each cinnamon, and ground ginger
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Grease 9"x11" baking pan.
  3. Combine all ingredients except boiling water and baking soda in large bowl in order given, mixing well after each addition.
  4. Combine boiling water and baking soda in a small bowl and stir until dissolved. Blend into molasses mixture.
  5. Pour batter into prepared pan.
  6. Bake until tester inserted in center comes out clean, about 45 minutes. Cool slightly.
  7. Cut into squares. Serve warm with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.


P is For


When we did the deck last Spring, we also had the front porch done.  I just forgot to mention it until now.  We had a faux stone treatment added and the old railing replaced with one that matches the deck railing.  Also extended the porch forward by about 2 feet, just enough to be able to use the porch without falling into the planter.  Speaking of which, someday will get that fixed, too.


Ballet Mom

My life is totally dominated by ballet.  Ballet auditions, ballet rehearsals, ballet clothes, ballet buns.  Not to mention regular ballet classes.

August started so peacefully, in spite of the fact that Pumpkin Girl moved up a level in ballet and so is now up to 3 classes a week of an hour and half each.  Then she auditioned for and was offered a spot in her school’s pre-professional company.  That came with a requirement to take one other dance class, plus company meetings and rehearsals.  She chose her additional class to be one that happens immediately before company rehearsals, so we drop her off on Saturday after lunch and pick her up sometime around dinner.  It depends on what they are rehearsing.

Of course, there were additional clothing items needed for being in the company, including another black leo, another uniform leo and a company warm-up suit.  The company warm-ups are optional.  Well, to the studio they are, but not to the dancers!  How can you possibly make the company and not buy the warm-ups? We smiled understandingly and wrote the check.

Her place in the company guaranteed her a role in their Nutcracker, taking place in December.  She was happy to be given a party girl role.  I quaked in fear of the natural-hair boingy curls for her straight, straight hair.

Then she auditioned for and was given a role in the Nutcracker that is performed with our city’s philharmonic orchestra and a professional ballet company from out of town. She was also given a party girl role.  More boingy curls! She was slightly disappointed because she wanted to be a baker.  Bakers get to bounce on a mini trampoline disguised as a cake, no curls needed.

Then last week she was given an additional role in the company Nutcracker as a soldier.  The trick here is that she will perform the party girl role and the soldier role on the same day, in different shows.  They require different hair.  If – and I PRAY this happens – she is a party girl in the first show, then in between shows I can wet down the curls and slick them back into a simple bun that will tuck under her soldier hat.  If it goes the other way, soldier in the first show, party girl in the second, I will have to curl her hair, by hand!!! with a curling iron.  Woe!

She’s putting 12 hours in the studio this week.  She is dancer, hear her roar.

And me?  I put her hair in a bun, decipher the rehearsal schedules, write the checks, drive the car.  I don’t mind, I’m get to be the proud ballet mom.

Feast Day

Today is Rebecca’s Feast Day.

I can’t tell you how long she has been gone without stopping to count up the years.

As much as we mourn our loss of our sweet baby here on earth, we rejoice with her at her entrance into heaven.  She is part of the Church Triumphant.

Still…it does still hurt.

(The Dance by Garth Brooks.  Click on the link which opens in a new window, then click back here to let Garth sing to you while you read the rest.)

Looking back on the memory of
The dance we shared beneath the stars above
For a moment all the world was right
How could I have known you’d ever say goodbye ?

And now I’m glad I didn’t know
The way it all would end the way it all would go
Our lives are better left to chance
I could have missed the pain
But I’d have  had to miss the dance

Holding you I held everything
For a moment wasn’t I the king
But if I’d only known how the king would fall
Hey who’s to say you know I might have changed it all

And now I’m glad I didn’t know
The way it all would end the way it all would go
Our lives are better left to chance
I could have missed the pain
But I’d have had to miss the dance

Yes my life is better left to chance
I could have missed the pain but I’d have had to miss the dance


A Day to Remember

Labor Day weekend 2001 was a beautiful, late summer day.  For Washington, DC it was especially nice because it was not too hot or humid.  Our little military community had a neighborhood block party.  It was bring your own meat and a dish to share.  Boo was almost 3 years old and Pumpkin Girl was 8 months old.  It was a good day.

I would later remember it as the last normal weekend.

We actually didn’t live on a base, but in a residential gated community that had been leased by the Navy and Air Force.  We weren’t far from Andrews Air Force base and most of our neighbors were stationed at Bethesda Naval hospital or at the Pentagon.

Phil was stationed at the Pentagon, too.  His office was in the section being renovated that was behind schedule.  When he started his job there a month earlier they were supposed to move in to their new offices in September.  For the time being, they were in a building not far from the Pentagon.  He grumbled good-naturedly about construction delays.

I remember watching a Jackson and Perkins show on QVC that morning, shopping for fall bulbs for our yard.  While transitioning from one product to another, the host said that they just wanted to acknowledge the events going on in New York and that their thoughts and prayers went out to those who’d been hurt.  I hadn’t heard anything yet so I clicked over to the Today Show.

As I watched I don’t think the enormity of it all really sunk it.  It was sort of surreal.  As they switched over to the White House being evacuated, the phone rang.  It was Philip calling to tell me that he was ok.

“Of course you are!  You’re not in New York, ” I said.

“Yeah, but the Pentagon just got hit,” he informed me.

“What? They’re not saying anything about that on the news.  They’re evacuating the White House, though.”

“No, a co-worker saw a plane crash into the Pentagon.”

And that’s when it was picked up by the news.

I remember that it had been a really beautiful day then, too.  The neighborhood was quiet, even as the children returned home early from school.  I kept the news on and went about with my day with my children as usual.  We had lunch, I put them down for their naps.  As I was coming back down the stairs, Philip entered the door.  He had walked from his office, down the empty highway, past the burning Pentagon to the nearest still-open Metro.

We spent the rest of the day watching the news.

Late that afternoon I took a discreet walk around the neighborhood.  We all assigned parking spaces, numbered with our address and I wanted to see who was home and who was not.  By late afternoon, everyone’s car was accounted for.  It looked like everyone on our block was ok.

By the time it got dark they were predicting 800 dead at the Pentagon.  In the end though, that number was much smaller because the plane hit the empty offices that were still being renovated.

Philip’s office.

I remember that the next night a manila envelope was passed around the neighborhood.  One husband and father was unaccounted for in the block behind ours.  Joe Pycior, homeschooling dad, Cub Scout leader, Legos enthusiast never came home.  He was one of the victims.

I remember the days that followed.  The silence as commercial flights remained grounded.  The sound of the fighter planes which circled Fed-Ex Field as the NFL season finally got started.  The candle-light vigil we held for the Pycior family.

I remember going to Threatcon Delta, as we called it back then. We thought Threatcon Charlie was a big deal during the Persian Gulf War.  Back then we thought we’d never go to Delta.  Delta means we have been attacked.  No, we’d never go to Delta.  We were at Delta.

I remember thinking that we’d never be the same.

I Survived

First, I just want to thank everyone who emailed, tweeted or otherwise contacted me yesterday to see how I was doing after the earthquake.

That was something else, wasn’t it?  I grew up in California and lived in San Francisco during the 7.1 quake there.  So minor tremblers don’t really make me take notice, but I wasn’t expecting one way out here!

At the time the quake hit, I was lying on my bed, nursing Pipsqueak.  The bed started to shake, but it felt like one of our cats getting out from up under what is essentially the bedspring.  But the shaking continued. Both cats, maybe?

Then I could feel the whole house swaying and I realized – We’re having an earthquake!

Now, having been raised in California, I am properly trained in earthquake procedures.  If you’re at school, you duck and cover under your desk.  (Coincidentally, this is the same technique to use in case of an atomic bomb.  That way the schools didn’t waste  time with conducting multiple safety drills.  One command of “Duck and Cover!” and we’d trained for multiple situations in just seconds.) When not in school, you shove everyone out of the way to stand in a doorway.  In this way, when the building collapsed, at least you’d have died standing.

The only problem this time was that Pipsqueak was sleeping and nursing and I wasn’t sure if I wanted to disturb him.  So I braved it out where I was.

I did not even bother waking up Phil or the children and the next morning they had no idea that anything unusual had happened.

Wait, what? You thought I was talking about the quake in Virginia that happened in the middle of the day? No-o-o, Colorado had its largest earthquake in over 40 years yesterday! It was all very exciting.  Rocks fell down!  On the highway! Tens of people talked about it on Twitter! We were all over the news until the Virginia quake hit, the little upstart.

So yes, I am fine, thanks for asking.

(Nobody actually asked at all.)

Love My Web Host

Last Wednesday I blew up my blog.

It was gone, completely.  A fatal error message was all that was left.  Not only that, I could no longer access my control panel to fix things.  The whole thing was lost to the ages.

I was just tinkering a bit, and I messed with the code.  I can write both HTML and CSS so usually this is OK, but in this case I was pasting from someone else and it didn’t work.

So I went to my web host page and found their customer service number and called it. I was barely on hold for a few seconds and in five minutes my blog was restored to workable order.  Their customer service guy set my blog back to the default template which allowed me access.  I could take it from there.

After deleting and reinstalling the corrupted theme, all was fine in blogland again.

So, who is this Wonder Web Host?  BlueHost!  They have 24 customer support, either over the phone or live chat.  They have one-click installation for WordPress and a bunch of other blogging platforms.  They have a very easy to understand file uploading system (FTP). AND I am able to add additional domains under this one. (In other words, our personal family-only blog with a separate name is also hosted there for no additional fee.)

They brought my blog back from oblivion in just minutes.  You can imagine how relieved I was!  And even though I blew the thing up right before Bip’s birthday dinner, I was able to join the family with my blog already completely restored.

So if you’re looking for a new web host- definitely consider BlueHost.  They’ll treat you right.

(I was totally not compensated for this glowing report.)

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