Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Christmas Cookies and Ugly Cookie Night

Recently, the kids and I made Christmas cookies.  I loved doing this as a kid.  My mom would make the shapes, and we would sit around the table with several bowls with different colors of icing and sprinkles and decorate away.  As an adult, I don't know how she did that.  I am not proud to admit that I am THAT MOM.  I don't like play doh, I don't like paint, and glitter has never entered the house to my children's knowledge.  I let them play with play doh and paint, but it is a conscious decision to let go.  The kitchen will be clean again.

And it really isn't any big deal.  Even when it looks like a rainbow threw up all over the counter and floor, it's never so bad that it can't be cleaned up in ten minutes.  When Ella recently found her missing silly putty by sticking her elbow in it, twice, it was no big deal.  Did you know that rubbing alcohol gets that stuff right out of fabric?  It was easy peasy and we did it together, and because I didn't get mad it became "that cool trick we learned together" instead of "that thing mom got really mad at me for but I'm not really sure why because it was an accident."

I'm improving.  Boys are helping sanctify me in this area.  They are sanctifying me through their pockets, one wash at a time.

Back to the cookies.  I made the cookies a day ahead and outlined them in white royal icing {which is the stuff that gets hard so you can decorate and then stack them once they dry} before the kids got them, so that the kids could fill them in with slightly less thick royal icing in different colors.  The more I worked with the thinned icing, though, the more I realized the kids wouldn't actually be able to use it.  It was too difficult {I'm sure it was the recipe I used}.  Ella would have figured it out, but Jack and Nate couldn't have, and this was supposed to be a family activity.  Instead, I pulled out all of my sprinkles, put a rimmed cookie sheet in front of each kid, and handed them one cookie at a time.  I had made gingerbread men, angels, snowmen, and trees.  We started with the trees. I put the green icing on them, and they added the decoration.  I didn't give them direction {I did have to look away a few times so they couldn't see my pained expression}.  They did what they wanted.

This was where all of my dread was swept away.  They had a blast!  As I said, the icing was hard to work with, so they had to wait for each cookie.  Something about that wait time and anticipation made each cookie special to them, so they decorated them more carefully.  Also, by the time we finished the trees, they were satisfied and didn't want to do anymore.  I put on a movie for them, and I went to town decorating the rest.  Like Superman.

He was my favorite.  But they were all pretty cute.

When I was finished, I had a few that were really ugly - I'm no pro.  I took the ugliest three cookies and put them on paper plates.  Then I took the last of each icing color and squirted them all over, covering them completely and with no rhyme or reason.  Finally, I took the sprinkles left in their cookie sheets and tipped them over onto the cookies I had just iced.  These cookies were so covered in icing and random sprinkles you couldn't tell what kind of cutout they used to be.  After dinner, Handsome Hero and I put them at their plates and declared it Ugly Cookie Night!  I was a little nervous that they would turn their noses up at them and want the pretty ones that were drying on the counter, but they didn't.  They were so excited!  They jumped up and down and grabbed their plates and compared their blobs and laughed and giggled and declared them the most delicious cookies they had ever eaten.

I had really dreaded this activity, but it turned out blessedly wonderful.  I didn't take any other pictures because I hadn't planned on writing a post about it.  I sent these pics from my phone to my mom, who encouraged me to share the story on the blog.  I've tried a few different crafts this season that I thought the kids would like, like paper chains.  We're never doing that again  It didn't go exactly as planned.  I really don't enjoy any craft that is heavy on the scissors.  Add in complaining kids and I'm out.  My favorite complaint was, "But, Mom, we're studying our COUNTRY!  These should be red, white, and BLUE, not GREEN!" 

But decorating cookies, a project that I thought would be horrible, that I put off and was dreading doing, ended up being such a joyful activity.  The kids have been able to show off their creations at two Christmas celebrations so far, and we still have some left over for Friday. 

I have no doubt that next year I will struggle with decorating cookies again, and it may turn out well, and it may not.  What I know will turn out well?  The tradition I'm sure will stick?

Ugly Cookie Night.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Thanksgiving looks different this year

Thanksgiving looks different this year.  It's just the five of us, sitting around in our sweats, looking through the paper {it's the only paper we get each year and the kids don't seem to know what to do with it}.  Handsome Hero got donuts for the kids this morning so they would think something was special.  Nothing says Happy Thanksgiving like a donut.  Or tacos, which is our dinner.

Getting over pneumonia and a hospital stay is harder than it looks, mostly because it requires me to do something I don't do well.  I have to sit still.  I don't have the energy to put into doing anything other than a nap, which I already did, so cross that off my list of activities.

Since I'm being sedentary, let me take a moment to sit and write about the reality of Thanksgiving this year.  This year, we are supposed to be at my parents' house, enjoying everyone and gorging ourselves and being loved on.  It's tradition.  Instead we're here, and that's okay.

I have so much for which to be thankful.

  • There are hospitals available to us when we need them.  I'm on the mend.  I kept down a little food yesterday for the first time in nine days.  Today I haven't even needed nausea medication or some of the other "as needed" meds that I've wanted to get off of.
  • You wouldn't know the kids had ever had pneumonia - they're crazy.  It's a beautiful thing.
  • Speaking of them, my parents took them while we were in the hospital and got to deal with their sicknesses.  They brought them back with clean clothes and clean bills of health.  I'm so grateful to them.

  • Handsome Hero has been healthy and able to take care of everyone.  I don't know how he doesn't ever seem to catch anything, but I am so very thankful.  Not only that, this man does not complain.  He has cooked, cleaned, slept on a hospital couch, been mom and dad and nurse, and done it with a smile.  I'm bowled over.  This is love at its best.
  • Handsome Hero's work told him not to come back until I'm well.  For the number of hours he works and how hard his job can be, they have been great through this.  And I'm staying sick until Christmas.  Hope that's okay.
  • Our church has been wonderful, taking the kids before we knew they were sick, and bringing so many meals we've had to ask them to stop.  One of my church friends just dropped off Thanksgiving dinner.  They ate earlier, and she brought us some of each dish.  I guess she wanted us to have some real Thanksgiving fare.  Ella was so excited she was jumping up and down!  I hadn't realized how much she wanted the tradition.   

I guess tacos can wait. :)

There is so much for which to be thankful, but my favorite might be this.

Each night in November, the kids tell me something they're thankful for, and I put it on a tag on our thankful "tree."  It is a highlight of the year for me, and I keep past years' tags in mason jars on the mantle to read to the kids.  They love how silly they used to be.

They are so much more mature now!  I, also, am thankful for eyebrows and cheeks.

When I got sick, I couldn't do the thankfuls and didn't mention them to Handsome Hero because everything else in the world was on his plate.

When my parents brought the kids back from their house, my mom handed me a bag.  In it were all the thankfuls we missed.  They did them at her house.  I couldn't help it.  I cried.

I am indeed blessed and thankful.  Happy Thanksgiving, friends.