{ Decorating Gingerbread houses }

The kids have been on us the last few years about decorating gingerbread houses. When we lived in Reno it was a tradition we made happen every year, but somehow it hasn’t found itself nestled back into our Christmas routine. I was determined, with some gentle nudging from the kids, to make it happen this year. The kids helped me mix the dough, and cut out the gingerbread house pieces. And we thought with four batches we would have enough for us each to do a house. We were wrong. After we made the houses a bit bigger than the original recipe called for, we were left with 3 big house and two little tepee houses. Erika’s one request was that they got to “decorate BIG houses, not tiny ones like they did at school, and they had to be out of real gingerbread-no graham crackers”, …

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…and yes lots of GOOD candy! I felt like I bought half the candy aisle by the time I was done. We have learned that pretty gingerbread houses are fun and cute, but gingerbread houses that are full of candy that you love to eat always look way better to us.Gingerbread Houses 2012 blog-5

After much deliberation from the girls (Brooke was in charge of dividing up everyone into groups)-Brooke, Erika, and I were in charge of one house. Brianna and Austin were a team. Aaron and Abby were the other big house, and the two little boys each got their own tepee house to decorate. Ryan was happy as could be that he could have his own house to enjoy and decorate as he pleased. Partially because he really had no idea what was going on, but it looked like it involved candy so he was in. Side note for years to come: Ryan at this age works best in his highchair. He is my master climber and messer these days. As long as I let him buckle his own highchair buckle he doesn’t fight me too much about being in it. This night it didn’t take too much convincing once he saw that candy was part of the plan. Also to note, though I don’t like bringing to everyone’s attention my lack of cleaning ability-love that the bar stool his highchair is attached to is pretty much filthy. I know it’s much filthier than it looks-just thought I would remind myself at this time in my life how much I dislike the job of cleaning his highchair. I think I will be really happy when those parts of baby days are over.Gingerbread Houses 2012 blog-2I thought that Scott would be so happy with his own little house, and feel like a “big kid”. I was wrong. The poor guy broke down in tears because he didn’t have a “partner” to help him. We all agreed to pitch in and be his partner, which subsided the tears a bit. Once he got into it though, he was happy to let that four year old imagination of his take off and make his house his own. He would yelp for refills of frosting spots on his tray and that was it. Side note: (promise I won’t bore you with side notes for every picture) I have many talents. Cutting hair isn’t one of them nor will it ever be. This is a grown out haircut gone wrong by me. It will be the last one by me. It really wasn’t as bad as it looks-when it’s brushed that it. This picture is reminding me that maybe even brushing my kids hair is not a strong suit of mine either. Gingerbread Houses 2012 blog-4It was interesting to see each groups approach to their gingerbread house. Ours was very meticulously planned out, much to Erika’s dismay. She really wanted to just through on a bunch of candy-too bad for her she got stuck with Brooke and I who LOVE to be planners-even when it comes to gingerbread houses.

Can you tell by the perfectly spaced color patterned design on the back? Yeah, we like order-especially order spelled out in m&m’s.

Gingerbread Houses 2012 blog-32Brianna and Austin were a perfect combination of great ideas. They just worked steadily packing their house with as much candy as possible. Anything chocolate was their focus. I think they mastered that with their chocolate brick walls they had going on.Gingerbread Houses 2012 blog-14Gingerbread Houses 2012 blog-13Abby and Aaron were so funny to listen to. They both had their own ideas and candies they liked, but many of them were not the same at all. It was a great team building activity for sure. In the end, we all voted that we LOVED their house the most. The rest of us were done and cleaning up the candy, and they were still going strong with their ideas. This tradition definitely brought out the “Grandpa Engineer” side of Aaron from his dad.Gingerbread Houses 2012 blog-9Ryan worked quietly and steadily on his side of the island for most of the night. I think he was in shock that we were actually letting him handle such large amounts of candy. After he had almost finished his whole house we told him to pick up one of the pieces of candy from his pile and eat it. Gingerbread house making is a hands on/eating activity after all. He was almost scared to pick one up. You mean I can actually eat this candy too? I know. Almost too good to be true.Gingerbread Houses 2012 blog-3I was surprised how little direction he needed when it came time to decorate his house. I just put frosting on and he went to work. He carefully placed his m&m’s one by one on his house. He would arrange his candy on end, and in a specific order. It was really fun to see his creative side take off.Gingerbread Houses 2012 blog-8Gingerbread Houses 2012 blog-7Here is his finished masterpiece. He was pretty proud of it-incase you can’t tell. Love that little boy grin!Gingerbread Houses 2012 blog-10Gingerbread Houses 2012 blog-11Gingerbread Houses 2012 blog-12 Scott’s house had all the magical touches one would expect. Gingerbread Houses 2012 blog-18A Christmas snowman…Gingerbread Houses 2012 blog-19A jelly bean garden…Gingerbread Houses 2012 blog-20..and a seesaw in the backyard for the marshmallow men to ride on. So cute.Gingerbread Houses 2012 blog-21Austin and Brianna’s final gingerbread lusciousness. I loved their creative little Lifesaver snowman out front.Gingerbread Houses 2012 blog-22Gingerbread Houses 2012 blog-15Gingerbread Houses 2012 blog-16They also spelled Merry Christmas in their yard. Very festive touch.Gingerbread Houses 2012 blog-17Brooke with our winter wonderland of a house.Gingerbread Houses 2012 blog-30Gingerbread Houses 2012 blog-34The checkerboard roof was her idea. It turned out really cool when we snowed it with powdered sugar. It showed all the neat little ridges just like real shingles.Gingerbread Houses 2012 blog-33Gingerbread Houses 2012 blog-31And our gingerbread house building winners for 2012…drum roll please…Gingerbread Houses 2012 blog-25Abby and Aaron’s chocolate covered log cabin won by popular vote…though I don’t think we were even having an official contest. We just all thought it should have because it was really great. There were so many details that we thought were pretty creative.Gingerbread Houses 2012 blog-24The original design Twix and Snicker’s bar mailbox with it’s own tiny red licorice flag was pretty cool. The log siding on the front and whopper door handle also caught our eye.Gingerbread Houses 2012 blog-23The view from the other side was just as cute though. That’s a snow ball the gingerbread man is holding, and there is a smashed one on the mailbox that he already threw.Gingerbread Houses 2012 blog-28A full fence around back and more log siding.Gingerbread Houses 2012 blog-26Santa getting stuck  in the chimney.Gingerbread Houses 2012 blog-27Snowman and candy bar shingles. Yummy!Gingerbread Houses 2012 blog-29Gingerbread Houses 2012 blog-35Gingerbread Houses 2012 blog-38The next morning before church the girls were happy to find that our elf Chadwick had found his way onto their house. We moved the house to take a picture and he almost fell off. We had to do a little elf repositioning with the kitchen tongs, and later had to remove him so we could enjoy some of our treats without fear of touching him and making him lose his magic. It was pretty funny. That elf and his little tricks!Gingerbread Houses 2012 blog-37Gingerbread Houses 2012 blog-36


{ It’s A Halloween THING}

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The more kids we have, the more I tend to gravitate towards a more simple Halloween every year. Call it a MOM THING. I love theme costumes, and this one was so easy, and super fun! Red shirts, iron on THINGS logos, blue hairspray, and a whole lot of CRAZINESS.

Brooke, Erika, and Abby were so happy that at school they were letting them do the whole COSTUME THING this year. I think the instant those shirts went on, we all became a little more crazy. It must be a STARBUCK THING.

THING 3, 4, and 5 before school with their wild Cindy-Lou-Who kind of hair.

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Our littlest THING


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Ryan has the craziest hair-when I get it wet it almost stands up on it’s own like this without any gel. He thinks it’s funny when we make crazy hair when we brush it in the morning. We added a bit of super gel to make it through the night, and he was obsessed with touchy his pokey hair.

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Scott was my little motivator for getting our costumes done. He would ask me everyday what progress we had made with them, and then tell me that we really needed to get them done. I think I need to hire him to be my personal secretary for all the other stuff I need to get done. I have been holding out on a haircut for him until after Halloween, just so he could have his wild THING hair. He loved it as well, until it started getting too itchy and hard-we had to keep him distracted on the whole CANDY THING so he wouldn’t get too upset about it.

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I think I should have named this one CRAZY THING! She turned into a wild girl today and kept cracking us up with her THING antics. Random jumping on people, crazy eyes, and tongues hanging out are obviously what THINGS do. Dr. Seuss would be so proud.

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Don’t let this sweet little THING fool you. She was just as wild and crazy and her little counter part THING 5. She told us how everyone at school that day thought that she was so cute in her costume. That would tell her that they saw her other THINGS down the hall. Side note for me-she is sporting the whole ONE EARING THING because one ear hole closed up after a TRAMPOLINE ACCIDENT THING, and she is too nervous to go through getting it pierced again. She likes to still change out her one earing though-it cracks me up a bit.

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Brooke is the master of the crazy EYE THING. I think our interpretation of the THINGS is so funny. I kind of imagined just crazy off the wall energetic THINGS, (which we already do really good at our house)that’s at least how they were portrayed in the Cat in the Hat books. The Starbuck version of that has turned a little more crazy and …expressive? Gotta love that THING ATTITUDE!

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My mildest THING…Austin takes some heavy convincing that costumes are a requirement for going trick or treating. This is about the easiest costume there is-I mean really, it’s just like normal clothes. Yet, he still wouldn’t show his true THING colors without a little encouragement from his fellow sister THINGS. And Brooke’s eyes in this picture make me laugh a little too hard.

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She “has crazy eyes!” (Name that kid history episode)

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Yep, we really are claiming all those crazy THINGS running around this place. And boy, do we sure have a great big LOVE THING for those kids! They keep us on our toes, and fill our hearts with a lot of the JOY THING! And that FATHER-he really is the best THING that has happened to me. He has this amazing way of doing the FUN THINGS we need around this place, and yet keeping us so centered on all those other IMPORTANT THINGS. I LOVE THAT THING!!

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Brianna invited her good friend over to man the door for the first hour of trick or treaters for us. She sure is a cute THING!

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Austin’s friend doing the whole scary APE THING and photo-bombing our picture. Thing Family Halloween 2012 blog-40Thing Family Halloween 2012 blog-42

I wonder how many trick or treaters we would have had if we welcomed them all with this crazy bunch of THINGS?Thing Family Halloween 2012 blog-34Thing Family Halloween 2012 blog-35Thing Family Halloween 2012 blog-36

My little THINGS endured the ENDLESS PICTURE THING long enough, and we were finally off to snag some treats. Ryan was happy to ride his new birthday bike, for a while at least. Once he discovered that people were actually giving away candy at the doors, he wanted to be running from house to house with the other kids. I think it’s a TWO YEAR OLD THING. Once he got enough candy to fill his bucket up though, he was happy to keep his bucket in the back of his bike and ride for a while with a sucker in each hand.

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Doing the traditional TRADING CANDY THING and stuffing yourself silly with as much candy as you possibly can the night of HALLOWEEN THING. They know that tomorrow the candy gets rationed out more responsibly.

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After running the door for half of the night, Brianna and her friend went with us for the second part of the neighborhood. It seemed a whole lot better being with all your fellow THINGS, instead of trick or treating by yourself when you’re this old. We put the little boys in the stroller, the MIDDLE GIRL THINGS still ran like crazy from house to house, shelling out some candy to the OLDER SISTER AND FRIEND THINGS, and Austin was still busy getting as much candy and he could with his neighbor friend. I loved staying in our own neighborhood this year, and doing the whole NEIGHBORHOOD SOCIALIZING THING. I just love our neighborhood! It’s the kind where a lot of people just leave a bowl on their door step and people really do just take one piece. We get to talk to each other as we pass on the streets, or meet some of the neighbors we haven’t yet since moving in last year. By the end of the night everyone knew the new family in the neighborhood with all the CRAZY KID THINGS! It was a super fun night.

FUNNY THING TO REMEMBER: Brianna and her friend finding a boy in the neighborhood they knew from FRIEND THING’S SCHOOL, debating about who would ding dong ditch him, and them running off with him screaming out behind them…”Come back! I have CANDY!”

It was a pretty FUNNY THING to end out our crazy fun night.Thing Family Halloween 2012 blog-51