December 14, 2010

Gingerbread Houses and School Supplies and Laundry and Cards and AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA

I am having a drops IN the bucket! IN!! kind of day. It started pretty well, because Paul had a little extra time before work and used it to CLEAN UP THE DISHES. I'll just let that soak in for a minute. (1) He had a little extra time before work. (2) So he used it to clean up the dishes. I KNOW.

ANYWAY. Then I was looking at the calendar, and I made the mistake of looking at the days ahead (NEVER LOOK AT THE DAYS AHEAD) and it was like looking down a long corridor of obligations. Ice cream cones to school with Edward! Graham crackers with Elizabeth! Graham crackers and a thing of frosting and a foil-covered 12x12 piece of cardboard with Rob! Send in mugs for a party, but not breakable ones! Put out gift for mail carrier! Last day to send cards to arrive by Christmas!

And then my eye fell naturally on my Holiday Card Station at the dining room table. I did some cards last weekend, but there are still many, many more to go.

And then my eye fell on the supplies for the gingerbread houses, and OMG when are we going to do those?

And then things went downhill from there. Walking into the living room I realized we should probably throw out the carpet rather than try to vacuum the glitter out of it. And the laundry has slipped AGAIN---it's like I can only make myself work on it if it's at Code Red levels and children are telling me half an hour before school that they have no pants. And I have so many posts to work on. And I'm behind on email to such an extent, even the flagged ones are getting scrolled out of view and forgotten. And there are piles of clutter everywhere, INSURMOUNTABLE PILES OF CLUTTER, and dust and dirt and crumbs and small toys under all the furniture, and AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA.

Well.

It didn't SEEM like it would help, but I TRIED working on some of these things. First I did a baby name post, one that really needed to be done and was also fun because it involved names for a Christmas baby. I told the children that the fewer times they interrupted me as I worked on this, the sooner we could build gingerbread houses---and that if they interrupted me too many times, I would get too frustrated to be able to work on houses. So they interrupted me only maybe 10 times in half an hour, what good children.

As an aside, I came up with a new technique for, I hope, reducing interruptions: when I have to get up to help one child, I ask if anyone else has anything they need. Sometimes this means I avoid the extreme frustration of jusssst sitting back down before another child asks me for something; sometimes this means I am even MORE frustrated because it happens ANYWAY.

So I finished my post, I brought up the load of laundry from the dryer so I'd see it later and remember to fold it, and I started the washer re-washing the load of laundry that had gotten stale. And the kids and I assembled the gingerbread houses. And OH, what a massive relief after last time! In fact, I was GLAD for last time (and said so to the children), because if we'd started out doing it the way we did it this time, I would have been complaining about how messy and sticky and tricky it was, but since we tried it the OTHER way first, THIS time I was practically CHORTLING at how EASY and AWESOME and LIKE MAGIC it was. Thanks go to Barb @ getupandplay for her idea of using molten sugar (put granulated sugar in a pan and stir it over medium-high heat until it turns into super-hot syrup; try not to burn it like I did; return it to low heat when it gets too thick to use), and to Carmen for mentioning on Twitter that it WORKED.


Dip the cracker edges into the pan of extremely hot sugar,
then stick them together and hold them in place
for a few seconds.


Village!


It took a little practice to get the sugar right: first too thin, then too thick as it cooled, then too thin when I re-heated it. You can see the "too thin" (drips) on some of the houses (the ones I put in FRONT, nice going). But they STUCK TOGETHER and THAT is the important part! Also, next time this'll be way easier: I won't burn the sugar to begin with (by not knowing when to STOP melting it), and then I'll put it on low heat so it won't thicken.

We used two full boxes of graham crackers (only a few broken ones in the box this time, fortunately), and may I recommend NOT using low-fat, despite the fact that I have nowhere near enough data here for a statistical analysis and might have just gotten a box the stockboy dropped? We first used a box of regular ones, and then used the box of low-fat ones I'd bought because the store had no more regular ones, and there was a HUGE difference. With the regular ones, we didn't have a single cracker break during the construction process; with the low-fat ones, ten or so broke while I was holding structures together waiting for them to cool, and that could have been QUITE FRUSTRATING if I hadn't been bolstered by many recent successes.

Then I told the children that we would "wait for the houses to dry" (they don't really need waiting when you make them like this, but I felt project-with-children'd out), and that we'd decorate them another day, and I folded the laundry, and I put the now-done washer load into the dryer and started a new washer load. I also picked up the letter magnet that has been sitting by the cats' water dish for long enough to have acquired a film of stickiness and fuzz, and I washed it off and put it on the fridge.

Then I put on the dumbest cartoon I have EVER SEEN (Mario Bros.) for the kids, wrote this post, and next I think I will write a few cards before the mail comes, even if it's just two cards. Drops. IN.

[Follow-up: This high of getting! things! done! lasted about 5 minutes, until I went to the kitchen to make the kids' lunch and had to first put dishes into the dishwasher because gingerbread houses were on my work counter and breakfast dishes were on the other counter, and then I found that Paul had put nearly-clean pans (like, just needed a quick swish) and my metal-trimmed (not dishwasher-safe) china into the dishwasher, and then I saw the empty juice pitcher and realized we needed juice before kindergarten, and then made the juice and found that Edward had never taken his juice bottle out of his backpack the day before which meant I also hadn't yet gone through his folder, and then I got out the pretzel bag and found it had been put away with seriously 2.5 pretzels in it and I had to get a new bag from the basement, and we had no cups for lunch because they are all in the dishwasher, and then Henry was PICKING UP the gingerbread houses and AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA]

30 comments:

Jess said...

The bucket! It is filling! Slowly, but IT IS. And the graham cracker village is adorable. I LIKE the drips.

Amanda said...

Oh you're doing such a good job with this day. I would have gone and hid under the covers. My mantra is "avoid avoid avoid".

Becky said...

I need to take this approach at work. Also, it sounds to me like you got a LOT accomplished. More than I do on any given day, that's for sure.
I like how the houses look; you have a lot more freedome in decorating when you cement them together this way, rather than with icing, I think. Can't wait to see the finished project.

Misty said...

Oh! Now I want to make graham cracker houses with my children tooooo.

I am bolstered by your success. Drops! In!

Alice said...

the village is TROP ADORABLE! the drips are charming :)

and it sounds like you've accomplished FAR FAR more than i have today, so i'm impressed.

Shelly said...

Did you give Paul his medal for cleaning up the dishes? I mean, you ARE properly appreciative, aren't you? You could have a husband who cheats on you! HAHAHAHA!

And those gingerbread houses look great!

Barb @ getupandplay said...

Hooray! I'm so glad it worked for you!

d e v a n said...

Cute houses!

This part: Sometimes this means I avoid the extreme frustration of jusssst sitting back down before another child asks me for something; sometimes this means I am even MORE frustrated because it happens ANYWAY.

YES! This is about half of my day, every day.

Drops in the bucket. Look at all those drops!

Linda said...

I am having a day like this, too. Also, I had a fight with a friend and we never resolved it and then she SUDDENLY MOVED OUT OF STATE when her husband got a new job, so we have yet to resolve anything. In essence, I lost a friend. Now another friend is thinking about moving back to where family is while her kids are still preschool age and yes, this is the time to do it, but why are all my friends LEAVING THE STATE?

And my job is adding another unit like mine and making mine smaller and essentially tossing us all in a hat and shaking us out to see who gets to work where and I might have to work an a totally different unit with a patient population that I dislike until my 3yo is in full-time school and I can explore other options. And they are telling us this NOW and we are supposed to find out FOR SURE in January, but no moves will take place until SPRING. THAT IS A LOT OF TIME TO FRET.

And I can wash the laundry forever and a day, but I can never seem to put it away.

Nolita said...

Love that you climbed back on that Gingerbread horse again! I saw some kits last night and almost gave in to the holiday pressure. Nope! After running around like a chicken with her head cut off for the past weekend I requested to stay home from a family gathering last night (ALONE) so I could manage to get some chores completed. My bliss was shortlived but my sanity needed the break....and I still have the cards to send out. They will get there when they get there... Have a good one!

Farrell said...

Swistle, seriously? I feel like you do except THERE ARE ONLY TWO PEOPLE IN MY HOUSE. That is to say, *I* feel overwhelmed with laundry and clutter and mail and school projects and it is only just me and Sophie! So, my point is: PROPS to you.

lifeofadoctorswife said...

I am having a day like the one referred to in your follow-up. It's all too much. (And I also have a load of stale laundry in the washer that needs re-washing. WHY do I do that?)

I hope that things turn around for the both of us! But at the very least, your day STARTED well!

Nervous said...

Shoot, I get overwhelmed too and I don't even have the little ones. Good for you for getting all that you did done!

I like how you mentioned the picking up & washing off the magnet - I have a lot of those pesky little tasks that barely seem worth doing, but are oddly satisfying to get out of the way.

Magic27 said...

Swistle, I adore you!
My life is like the day you just described EVERY DAY. And I get so over-whelmed that I end up watching endless Train and Pat Monahan clips on YouTube instead of doing anything remotely productive (though zoning out with eye- and ear-candy might be considered productive in certain circles, I suppose).
And I only have two children and a cat to deal with! But oh, my "to do" list is more like the complete works of Shakespeare in length and I just can't get started...
You inspire me, and I'm going to try and get started on at least my Christmas cards tonight (no, I haven't done any yet).
Thank you Swistle!

el-e-e said...

The end of this post makes me want to CRY for you. I hate when things spiral like that, ESPECIALLY when they involve an unexpected armload of DISHES to wash. Heavy Sigh. For You!!! So sorry!!

Time of a cup of hot chocolate, my dear.

Carmen said...

See, we had a few drips of sugar that essentially formed ICICLES on our house. I thought that was particularly awesome.

Upon re-reading the drop-in-the-bucket post, I remembered anew that I should try hard to view my house in the same way. I often get overwhelmed by the sheer mountain of kid crap lying around and feel hopeless about anything making a difference. I should make a sign for my mirror or fridge door that quotes your post: "1 drop > 0 drops". Or, you know, you could get Zazzle on that!

Doing my best said...

Sounds like a CRAPPY DAY to me =)!

Jenn said...

Everyday feels like this right now- too much to do!
I am glad it's not just me :) But way to go on the graham cracker houses - they are super cute! I just bought a kit this year (no idea when we are going to do that- can I still build it between xmas and new years when the no school thing is getting to me???)

Monique said...

I am so with you Swistle. I feel like I'm taking 50 steps forward, but then find out I also took 55 steps backward. I'm back to where I was, only slightly further behind. SIGH. Mt. Washmore is about to explode, the kitchen, I don't even want to talk about it, and the living room is slowly encroaching inwards. I will soon be standing in a sea of living room clutter saying "Wha happen?". SIGH again. I will be getting back at it today. Maybe I can beat the living room into submission. If not, maybe I can go in the kitchen without something falling on my foot! Sending good vibes your way.

JEN said...

"I started the washer re-washing the load of laundry that had gotten stale"

We rewash a GREAT DEAL of laundry in this house as well.

Little-Bit said...

Pretty sure I need to bookmark this post for the days that I feel The. Same. Way. I could not have written it more perfectly. Except the part about going to bed and not getting up for a couple hours...

Mimi said...

LOVING Elizabeth's pink dress in that pic! =)

Swistle said...

Doing My Best- Ha ha! *WINK* I'm still savoring the wait!

Doing my best said...

I understand =)!

CARRIE said...

I told my husband this evening that we have to have a "PLAN" for Christmas break because I simply cannot tolerate having all 4 of them (and I include my husband in with the kids because he is equally helpless) underfoot and without direction.

Christmas break is why I dare not look ahead in my calendar. Two weeks of no break during naptime SUCKSSSS!

1hottiredmama said...

Last week while my three older children were at school, I hired a sitter for my youngest and took ALL the laundry to the laundry mat. It took about three hours but I spent them either reading or listening to my iPod while folding. It was SHEER BLISS. All total cost me about fifty bucks but was SO worth it. And all the laundry got done. I highly recommend such an outing! It can completely restore your sanity. :o)

Bunnyslippers said...

One of my favourite internet quotes (can't recall the source) is relevant here.

"Glitter is the Herpes of the craft drawer."

momma on the run said...

You made time to make ginger bread houses with the children even with the laundry. and the postings. and the cards. and the GLITTER. I LOVE that. I need to stop more often to do those sorts of things with my children.

Cagey (Kelli Oliver George) said...

Hilarious!

I put our gingerbread house together with a glue gun which probably means that Martha Stewart has put out a warrant for my arrest.

Lawyerish said...

I realize this is beside the point, but Elizabeth's dress is SO CUTE that I am having fainting spells.