07 September 2009

School days

I'm attempting for the third time to rip the suction that has been created between my eyeball and my contact lens. Somehow, a week of tears, stress and anxiety have taken their toll on my contacts as well as my emotional state. My oldest child, now five, started school five days ago and the ride leading up to the first day was a quiet, relaxed one spent mostly at home enjoying each other. But, as perhaps any parent who has been through it before will agree, the first day of school is nothing short of traumatic.

My daughter is attending a beautiful school with a garden setting and beautiful Thai woodwork surrounding the buildings. The teachers are caring and the campus is close to our home. Yet, that first day, I saw the effects living overseas has on a child, which are both positive and negative. We've always been a very close-knit family, but the last year of tuk tuk riding, market going and curry pounding together has created an even stronger dependence on one another. And, while playgrounds and the promise of new friends are always welcomed, the idea of being apart from each other from 8:30 to 3:30 was a new concept for both my daughter and me.

Days of my daughter pleading not to take her back to school, tears of dread over what the next day may bring, and the worry of missing her mama while sitting in the cafeteria filled her waking moments. So, after agreeing that it was a hard week, I set out to make Friday evening extra special. A celebration, if you will, of my daughter's bravery, my husband's undying support and my ability to see through swollen eyes.

After dropping off my daughter at school on Friday, my son and I returned home to put the plan into action. Stringing up a sunset sky of blue and red streamers, laced with silvery star garland, our setting was taking form. We spread out a bunch of pillows and covered them with a dirt colored quilt. A giant metal tray filled with wadded up black construction paper rocks and some well crafted paper logs and a few red tissue flames completed our faux fireplace that would later serve as a home to indoor s'mores. While my son set up a few wild (stuffed) animals within our camp site, I prepped a picnic dinner full of my family's favorites.

Probably needless to say, the smile that spread across my daughter's face upon returning home and discovering our week's end celebration was a moment I will hold in my heart and never forget. As for the health of my swollen eyes and suction cupped contact lenses, I will rise again on Monday morning and see what the second week of school holds in store for us. (And, there's always more ingredients in the pantry should another round of s'mores be necessary!).

Cooking in Thailand, entry no. 63:
Teddy Bear S'Mores
A perfect little bite of dessert for the kids, but one with flavors that adults love too. If serving for adults, just alter the shape of the cracker as desired. Serve warm for a wonderful gooey finish to a meal.

For the crackers:
2 1/2 cups flour
1 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
7 tablespoons butter, very cold
1/3 cup honey or agave syrup
5 tablespoons milk
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
1/4 cup chocolate chips (measure first, then finely chop)
small teddy bear cookie cutter

For the filling:
1/2 cup, approximately, mini marshmallows (I use the colored ones for the kids)
1/4 cup, approximately, chocolate chips

For the crackers, mix the first five ingredients in a large bowl. Add the butter and cut into the dry ingredients until the mixture resembles a coarse sand. Add the honey/agave, the milk, the contents of the vanilla bean and the chocolate chips. Stir until well combined. Form into a ball, press flat and wrap in parchment or plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least one hour or up to three days.

Remove from refrigeration and roll out on a well floured surface. Roll as thin as possible (the dough will puff a bit in the oven) without tearing and cut your desired shapes. Place on a silicone lined(or well greased) cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 20 minutes until golden and firm. The baking time will vary depending on what size cutter you select to use.

To build the s'more, just before serving, place a cracker on a cookie sheet. Top with two mini marshmallows and place under the broiler. When the marshmallows puff, remove from oven, insert chocolate chips into the marshmallows (very carefully... they are really, really hot!) and top with another cracker. Serve and enjoy!


  1. I can't stop crying and wonder if I want to have children and put myself through this someday! Thank you for your honesty and beautiful description of a milestone in a parent's life.

  2. Can I be your kid? (The smores are cute. I'm going to give them a try!)

  3. Such a beautiful post. Thank you for sharing your heart.

  4. I know that painful ripping of the contact lenses after a crying spell. Take care and keep writing for all of us that follow you regularly.


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