Sunday and Monday afternoons were spent baking up a storm.
Andrew and the older girls assembled some graham cracker houses for everyone and we had plenty of fun (and made a huge mess) decorating them. We only had one bag of icing to pass around and I was worried the children wouldn't share it well and we'd be diffusing tempers and assuaging hurt feelings all evening, but they passed the bag around sweetly and generously shared everything. The only sounds were joyful squeals.
|Miriam helps Alexander (cheeks stuffed with candy) put some icing exactly where he wants it to go|
I'm as surprised by that as you are.
|Benjamin with his newly-formed fence|
I was happy to have Andrew take the reins on this activity and I have a feeling it might become a more regular tradition. Oh, we've done gingerbread houses in the past, but it's always been more sporadic. This feels like the start of a years-long tradition, but I suppose we'll just have to see how swamped we are in coming years.
|Rachel focusing on her work|
|Zoë, late to the party because she wouldn't finish eat her vegetables, adds some candy to her house|
Alexander and Miriam made a good pair in this corner of the table. Miriam has been waiting a long time to get on Alexander's "nice list." He has a list of people that are acceptable companions—people he will allow to carry him around and be his buddy. For a long time this list was very short, but it's slowly (ever so slowly) expanding and Miriam is a proud new member of the list.
Benjamin made little trees for his house using green gummy bears with skittles on top as trees.
Here's Alexander with his house:
Andrew didn't help much with decorating the houses, which was fine because most of the kids were pretty self-sufficient in that department. Instead he whipped up some gingerbread dough for the kids to cut out when they were finished with their houses. Originally he thought about making gingerbread houses from scratch, but was worried about the gingerbread baking evenly enough to piece together in the end. Graham Crackers are much easier. But he still wanted to get to enjoy the gingerbread.
This recipe has some orange zest in it and tastes divine!
Here's Alexander rifling through the cookie cutters:
Here are the bigger kids working with Andrew:
Here's Alexander, still happy just to be playing with the cookie cutters:
Here's Rachel putting the gingerbread into the oven. She's making a terrible face because she only recently overcame her fear of ovens; she used to cry every time we made her put anything in or take anything out of the oven.
But all those tears and forced practice were worth it, right Rachel? Because now she's a confident oven user.
Here's Zoë taking a turn cutting out some shapes:
And here's Alex getting in on the action:
Here is our finished row of houses:
Here's Miriam's house:
Andrew also made molasses crinkles on Sunday evening (so yummy).
On Monday we had some friends over for a Christmas Strum-and-Sing Along, so in the afternoon we made more cookies. This time we made spritz cookies, because those are a cookie that make me feel like it's Christmastime. I thought it was funny that we were making spritz cookies and we had the Fitz family over, as well as a friend named Sprice. Spritz! Fitz! Sprice!
We made green trees and decorated them with sprinkles, which was definitely Alexander's favourite part of everything. Once again he wanted to be Miriam's "buddy," so he is sitting beside her (and as far away from the other two kids as he can possibly get).
This is a picture of him saying, "Mimi—my buddy 'day."
And here are Benjamin and Zoë, the buddies working on the other tray:
We ended up with a lot of cookies, which was good because we had a lot of company come over!
One thing about this house (and about nearly every southern house I've ever seen) that has bothered me a bit is the lack of "entryway." I grew up in several different houses, each with a fully functioning entryway with plenty of room for people to shed their outerwear when they come indoors: closets for coats, racks for shoes, drying room for gloves and hats.
Our entryway closet here is rather small, too shallow for a coat hanger to fit inside with the door closed (and yet, quizzically, equipped with a closet rod). We added shelves and turned it into a shoe closet, which is incredibly functional for our family, but still I worried about the lack of space to hang up coats. Whatever would we do when we invited twenty people over for an evening of caroling?! Where would they put their coats?!
In a bedroom, I supposed. Or on a couch in the other room, but that seems a dangerous idea since a good number of children ended up throwing all the pillows and blankets from the couch during a huge wrestling match and I have a hunch the coats would have ended up there as well...had any coats been brought along.
Because that's the thing—no one brought a coat!
I forgot we live in the south and there's no need for a big entry because we don't use as much outerwear as northerners do. A few guests brought light jackets (zippered hoodies, really) but no one had a coat with them. There wasn't a hat or pair of gloves or boots in sight. One little boy wore flip-flops.
We left the front door hanging wide open because our house was too warm from all the baking and all the company.
It was lightly drizzling outside (so lightly no one even bothered about umbrellas), still firmly in the 50s even though it had been dark for hours.
So I suppose what I feel is an inadequate entryway is really quite adequate for our climate.