Sunday, December 13, 2009

Good Ideas Gone Bad

A reminder for you all, I've got a trio of giveaways going on over at my review site right now -- consider it some early Christmas shopping, either for yourself or someone else! 

My four pack of movie tickets and free cereal ends tomorrow and so far has only seven entries (what do you not like going to the movies?) Enter here.

Do you shop at the LOFT? $200 awaits you here.

Are you more of a cash kind of person? Enter for a $200 Visa gift card here.

Stop me when you figure out where I went wrong today.

I agreed to watch a friends two sons this afternoon for a couple hours after church today (no, this is a good thing), beginning at noon.

It turns out that the wee ones had Christmas pageant practice today after church. Church ends at 11:30 or so. The practice I found out was going to be "about forty-five minutes or so." I did not bring food for them to eat lunch. (Sadly, this is not where I went wrong either.)

At ten to twelve, my friend called to confirm that we were still at church and dropped off her boys. I was expecting ten more minutes of pageant practice, and they can be entertained for that long, surely. For ten minutes? No problem. Unfortunately, it was almost forty more minutes of practice. And the wee ones still hadn't eaten lunch. (I'm starting to have a few regrets, but this isn't where I went wrong.)

When we got to our house at 1:45, I discovered that the two boys had eaten lunch already, so they just wanted to play. You can imagine how well lunch went over with Mister Man and Little Miss while their friends are calling to them and trying to get them to play. Little Miss sat right down and ate something, and I contented myself with Mister Man eating two bites of a sandwich and drinking his milk. Nope, still not where I went wrong.

Yesterday, I started baking Christmas cookies. I have to bring in cookies to Mister Man's school twice next week, and I volunteered to be the "nice" mom bringing in not only the nut free cookies (required) but also the egg free (an allergy in Mister Man's class) and dairy free (an allergy in the school in general) cookies. Those cookies were quickly and easily made yesterday, but by the time I finished those, the wee one and I were done baking for the day. The sugar cookie dough sitting in the fridge was going to stay there overnight.

So I decided that today would be a good day to finish the cookies and that the boys could help me. I rolled out the dough, and I showed them the selection of cookie cutters. Surprisingly, this wasn't too painful.

One of the boys asked if he could have a taste of the dough. I agreed and gave him a small sliver. I then spent the next hour and a half chasing after him and making him put pieces of dough down. This was the beginning of the end.

Since they were cut out sugar cookies, I figured we had to decorate them. I was envisioning using my sugar crystals of various colors with the stocking being sprinkled gently with red for the bottom and left clean on top. The snowflake would be perfect sprinkled in blue, while the star would look great in red -- and so on.

Apparently it's been awhile since I've decorated with children. The pile of yellow sugar on one cookie wasn't a huge issue, as I easily spread it around and calmly explained that you couldn't use that much sugar on a single cookie.

When they argued over the sugar and grabbed at the sugar the others had, smashing an elbow into a couple cookies along the way, I quickly devised a color sharing system -- at my call, they would each rotate the sprinkles to the right.

When Mister Man asked to use the new red sprinkles, I helped him open them. At that point, I turned around to do something -- stupidly, I'll admit. I heard the oh no! as I turned back around. Apparently the red sprinkles have very large holes in the top, and a pile of red sprinkles larger than the cookie now lay atop a poor snowman. I took a deep breath and quickly grabbed the still pouring sprinkle container then began trying to scrape up some of the teensy tiny grains of sugar. Muttering under my breath, I gave up.

The first tray done -- albeit over decorated -- I placed into the oven, and we started on the second tray. I placed the red sprinkles out of the way so no one would be tempted, and I contentedly monitored the over sugaring of the cookies. As the timer went off and I turned around to check the cookies in the oven, I really should have known better. One of the boys had opened the red container, and almost half the sprinkles in the bottle were now covering a reindeer and a bell. At least the boy had the good sense to right the bottle and stop pouring after the initial mishap.

I tried tilting the tray to better capture the excess sprinkles, which only worked minimally as both of the boys were putting their fingers in the sprinkles and gobbling the sugar as quickly as they could. My admonitions were met only with sheepish grins and more reaching. I checked the clock to see how long before I headed out for my Christmas party tonight (and by my, I mean me and other moms with no children present).

We continued decorating the cookies, and I continued fending off the boys from the stealing of dough and sugar. Somehow, I don't lose this battle when it's the wee ones, but these boys are more persistent. They also began begging to eat a cookie. I promised everyone could have a cookie once we got the second sheet out of the oven and they'd cooled somewhat (with Little Miss getting one of the strawberry thumbprint dairy free, egg free, nut free but surprisingly not taste free cookies we'd made yesterday).

As the cookies were ready, I placed a cookie for each child onto a plate and made sure they sat at the kitchen table to eat. I continued to work on rolling out the dough and finishing up the cookies. When I next looked up, the children had all left the table, and I can only pray that they washed -- or at least licked off -- their hands before going to play in the rooms with carpet and other light colored objects.

This is about when I realized that over sugared cookies have a bigger problem than just wasting the sugar. About three-quarters of the sugar that had been in the dispensers now lay strewn about not only the kitchen table but on the floor all around the table as far as the eye could see. I sighed and was mildly grateful that this wasn't summer and therefore no ants would smell the sugar that I'd missed, knowing it would take me several rounds of sweeping and mopping to capture all the errant grains.

They did all have fun, and I sent the boys on their merry way not long after with a big plate of the cookies they'd helped me make. I surveyed my kitchen and sighed.

Moral of the story? Making cookies with children isn't a bad thing. However, next time we're going with icing. Sugar is best left in the hands of experts.

And now? I have seven minutes before I need to be at a party that has only adults, some adult beverages and a basement full of delectable goodies. I'm feeling better already.


Unknown December 13, 2009 at 7:06 PM  

oh yes, I think it's impossibly, stupidly easy to forget how cookie decorating can go insane with children, especially more than one! Kudos to you for maintaining your cool, and have a glass of wine and wonderful, easy adult conversation at the party tonight!

Anonymous December 13, 2009 at 7:42 PM  

Eh heh.. somehow, I never outgrew that propensity for kitchen mishaps. We call it the kitchen vortex and when it strikes, stuff's all over the place. I swear, gravity just shifts and I'm left standing there, wondering what happened!

Stopping by from SITS.

Tara R. December 13, 2009 at 7:52 PM  

Excellent advice, or just send the children to a friend's house to decorate with sugar. ;)

Anonymous December 13, 2009 at 9:27 PM  

I am now thinking that the gingerbread house the kids decorated last week will be the only thing they decorate this year. Three cheers to you for letting them decorate at all - I am sure they had a blast!

WeaselMomma December 14, 2009 at 5:45 AM  

You went wrong by getting out of bed in the first place.

Unknown December 14, 2009 at 10:07 AM  

Your house is going to be the Kool-Aid house. I wanna come play, or at least eat cookies.

septembermom December 14, 2009 at 11:34 AM  

You don't want to know what my kitchen and living room looked after last year's attempt to make a gingerbread house. There is probably still icing hiding here somewhere :)

Theta Mom December 14, 2009 at 2:52 PM  

I think this is exactly why I have still yet to make a gingerbread house. You need soooo much patience and a bottle of wine wouldn't hurt, either! lol

Lourie December 14, 2009 at 5:34 PM  

Be careful with the frosting too. I have done cupcakes with kids and they have a tendency to pile it in cup form. A little pile of each color on a plate should be good.

You did good! better than I would have.

Teacher Tom December 14, 2009 at 7:44 PM  

I think the big mistake might have been not doing the decorating in the garage! =)

Michelle December 14, 2009 at 8:26 PM  

Meanest Bean - Oh I had my wine. But at least I wasn't the mom who kept going back saying "I need another one. I still need another one!" It could be worse, right?

Sonrisa - Yes, but you probably clean up after yourself. That makes a big difference in my book!

Tara - Trust me, I'm going that route next time.... Did I just say next time?

Nichole - They did have a great time, I'll give 'em that. And it sounds like I'm not alone in my mishaps!

WeaselMomma - True, true... but that whole church thing, ya know?

Megryansmom - The Kool-Aid house? And hey, we've got cookies galore. C'mon over!

Kelly - Really? I've always found the icing projects to be more containable. Or maybe I'm just fooling myself.

Theta Mom - I think the bottle of wine could have made those cookies even more interesting!

Lourie - We've done frosting before, and it hasn't been so bad. In fact, I hosted the 35 kid Easter extravaganza everyone decorates cookies at my house before, and it wasn't this bad!

Tom - Ahh, but here the garage is 35 degrees. Oooohhhh you're thinking that would have sped them up and reduced the mess. I follow now.

MaBunny December 15, 2009 at 4:43 PM  

hehe, hmmm, not sure where you went wrong... I know when my mom, Nicole and I baked cookies Sunday, Nicole put about a dozen or less on one cookie sheet and exclaimed she was bored!So my mom and I finished the other 8 dozen or so!!
Also, you think sugar made a mess? do you honestly want to deal with icing? in hair, on clothes, all over the counters, you , the wee ones, and light colored carpeting and furniture? I'd go for sugar any day!!

Mrs4444 December 15, 2009 at 10:50 PM  

It's all for the kids, so it's all good, right? I hope your vacuum worked and that you had your own fun later :)

Michelle December 16, 2009 at 9:55 AM  

Marcy - The finishing up the cookies sounds about right. I remember doing that with my mom when I was growing up, too. But oddly, I've had good luck with icing staying where it's supposed to. Fingers crossed!

Mrs4444 - Ummm yeah. All good. I actually didn't vacuum, but manually swept it. I'm paranoid of the vacuum flinging them around with the sweeper brush :)

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