Making A Mess

Florida is not participating in Global Warming this month and I am a little bit ticked. In fact, I am almost frozen. Today, for instance, I had to wear socks and my feet were still cold! The boys have been sent on multiple scavenging trips to pick up fallen branches to burn in the fireplace. The novelty of being allowed to use an ax is still great enough that they enjoy this. I am so glad I did not toss my sweater collection from Colorado, though I considered doing that when we moved here. It must have been Providence that stayed my hand. 

So imagine the poor Becks, shivering, gulping gallons of hot tea, swathed in layers of sweaters, loathesome socks and winter footwear. We turned up the thermostat a few notches, but it still was not enough. When I was in college, I had a teensy efficiency apartment one year. The rent and utilities were the same every month, no matter what we did, but the thermostat was not in our control. My roommate and I used to turn on the oven, prop our feet on the door, and bask in the heat when the chill overcame us. We were almost at that point again when it rained and the only firewood left was too damp to burn. However, we came up with a better plan. Christmas baking to the rescue!

First we made gingerbread cookies. I decided to get going on this while the children were working on the independent portion of their schoolwork, so one by one, they ambled into the kitchen, saw me rolling out the dough and exclaimed, “WHAT! You are doing this without us?” By the end of naptime, I had a pile of cookies ready for decorating and no meltdowns. I actually made two different recipes, because we never can decide which one is the best. So all the girls are light gingerbread and the boys are dark. I do not regret doing all the baking by myself, since it has been several years since I have done it, and the most recent Christmases were punctuated by frustrated children crying over stuck dough. When Hope figured out what we were doing, she brought me her bib. Thinking ahead. 

The children have made some odd comments recently. Here for instance, is a pregnant gingerbread mama and a throw-up cookie. (This is NOT an announcement.) It does make me wonder if they have gotten together and hatched a plan to pray for another baby. 

The next day, as it was still freezing, we got right to work on our gingerbread houses. The oven wasn’t warming up the kitchen since these were all pre-baked. If our cheeks were rosy, it is most likely due to the sugar induced high. I probably would never have ventured into the world of gingerbread houses, except some friends of ours invited us over to decorate them years ago, I think? It was such a hit that when we moved away from the friends who bake houses, we bought one large already baked house and all the children collaborated on it. This went fairly well, but we happened to be at IKEA a few months ago and I saw two houses for the same price I usually paid for one. I thought that would be twice as fun. Then on another day we saw another kit with five small houses. Two plus five... one for everyone! Even more fun. Too bad things don’t always work out as you planned. David, our future architect, showed up first and snagged one of the big houses. He painstakingly assembled and decorated it with mathematical precision and artistic patterns. 

Paul went for the last big house, but when he opened it, he found out it was a handyman's special and he wasn’t feeling handy. One whole wall had broken into about twelve pieces. He sighed deeply as he tried glueing it together, but it did not look promising. Meanwhile, Jonathan had picked out his little house and had begun haphazardly slapping it together. This technique was not working out as he envisioned and he sat in his child sized chair, tears welling up in his eyes, and great heaving sobs escaping from his wrinkled up face. Paul deftly stepped over and offered to assist him, and I am relieved to report that the little house now has two happy owners. And it is very well insulated. 

Grace said this is the most fun she has ever had with the gingerbread house activity because she got to do everything just the way she liked and could take as much time as she needed to. She took the longest to finish and came up with some unique additions. Can you see the gum drop man and his dog by the front door?

Victoria’s style seems to border on the Rococo. She put candy on every available space and her house collapsed shortly after I took these pictures. Unfortunately, no one except David, who had his own instructions, bothered to look at the directions. The little houses were a jumble of mix and match, which meant that the last two houses did not really work. Ethan’s was close enough, but Hope’s house was nothing more than a sugar shack. She ate the roof before she finished decorating it, so we assume she is content with her lot. 

© Being Fruitful, 2012