Friday, January 3, 2020

7 Quick Takes about Graham Crackers, Mixing Business and Pleasure, and Looking for Something Boring to Read

It's 7 Quick Takes Friday! How was your week?


I have no idea what day it is. I realized today was 7 Quick Takes Friday when I got in bed last night (so that's why this is a little late.) I'd gone all day thinking it was Wednesday, which doesn't even make sense because the day before I'd told all the kids it was Thursday and made them do their Thursday chores.

It's very disorienting to have everybody home from school and work, and then starting it all back up in the middle of the week.

To add to the confusion, my kindergartner has a cold and stayed home so he hasn't been to class for over two weeks. I worry that by Monday I'll have forgotten he's in school and stop sending him.


When you have a baby, one of the things you don't realize you're signing up for is spending all your New Year's Eve midnights in the car picking them up from a party when they're teenagers.

You get lulled into a sense of security when they're little and you can just do a random countdown at 7:30 PM before you send them to bed and no one is the wiser.

So anyway, after Phillip and I dropped the big kids off at their party and put the little kids down for the night, we celebrated in our own way by getting pints of ice cream from the gas station (convenience store ice cream is practically highway robbery, by the way, buy it ahead of time at the grocery store next time!) and watching a comedy special on YouTube.

It worked for us.


One thing we always do over Christmas vacation is make gingerbread houses. In the past we've bought premade kits, but this year we decided to use graham crackers and make our own frosting. (Mostly because I'm always worried they're going to chip a tooth eating the spiced cardboard that passes as gingerbread in those kits.)

This didn't really save any money, since by the time you buy all the candies and sprinkles separately you've spent about the same. But there was less chance of a dental emergency and definitely more freedom for creativity.

I loved the green gummy bear riding a peppermint swirl bike in the front yard.

This Spanish hacienda designed by my 15-year-old was especially delicious.

Really, the only downside to doing it this way was that by the time we were finished the table looked like this:

The finished product, though, was completely worth it. We all liked this way better than a premade kit.

Like the fancy Ukranian eggs we dye at Eastertime (Take #4 here,) there is definitely a learning curve, so I think we'll get better at it next year. Phillip suggested we push all the platforms together after the houses are built so we can decorate it like a real village with streets and everything.


My kids' favorite part of making gingerbread houses, though, is what happens afterward.

I keep meaning to find out what other people do with gingerbread houses, but what we do is set them on the counter for a few days, admiring them and periodically accusing various children of picking at the candies when no one's looking, and then on New Year's Day we gather 'round the table and watch each child smash theirs with a meat tenderizer. Then they feast.

Right now this is just something we've always done that they take for granted, but I think one day after they're grown, this is one of the traditions that will make them look back and say, "My childhood was so weird and so awesome."


Last Saturday, Phillip and I went on a breakfast date. Well, it was half-date, half-business.

When he and I took an impromptu 4-day trip to Florida last month, it made both of us realize that we've got to build these things into our lives more. It's easy to get caught up in the grind of life and never take time out (because taking time out requires planning ahead, which also requires time you don't feel you have.)

But we agreed that we need to do it more.

So we spent a few hours in a café with our calendars and phones and notepad and pen, sketching out a rough plan for what we're doing for the rest of the year. Things like a backpacking trip Phillip has been wanting to take with the older kids for about 3 years, or an anniversary trip for the two of us in June that I'm really looking forward to.

This is probably the most on top of things that I've ever been in my life.


Our town holds an annual holiday tree hunt, where different corporate sponsors decorate a tree in the woods along various hiking trails for us to find.

It's all very official: a list goes out and your "team" works to find the trees before New Years. If you find all the trees and send in photographic evidence, you're entered to win a prize.

Our team name was Yes, They're All Ours.

Even though we found all the trees, we weren't chosen in the drawing so no prize for us. But it was still fun to get out and go walking in the woods every day.

Playing on a frozen lake next to the trail.

Looking for beaver dams, I think.

We like to hike but it's usually a summer activity only for us; I liked this and would probably never think to do it on my own.


About a year ago, I checked out a book about math from the library called Here's Looking at Euclid. I'll give you a minute to think about the title and give it a groan/laugh.

I've discovered that what I need at all times on my nightstand is a non-fiction book that's just interesting enough for me to want to read it but also boring enough to put me to sleep. Before Euclid it was The Hope Diamond, which also took me about a year to finish.

Now that I'm done with it, I guess I'm in the market for a new sort-of-boring book. Any suggestions? (No novels, please. I can't risk page-turners that will actually keep me awake.)

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Unknown said...

A short history of nearly everything by bill Bryson.

PurpleSlob said...

I love your life!! I wait till gingerbread kits go on clearance. The kids don't care when they get to do it, only that they do! Mommy always ruins the fun by saying, "Don't eat that!" Soon as she leaves the room, Omie says, "it's ok." Hey, it's MY house!
Hope y'all get to do ALL the get aways!