Last week kicked off the baking/making frenzy around these parts. It seemed early to me, too, but I figured that planning for the first part of the month would up the chances the baking would actually get done. With this baby on
the launch pad as it were, who knows how much longer we have for anything besides feeding and sleeping.

Anyway, first up we’re the cookies. The pantry was scoured for fixings while Jac and the girls crushed dum dums to make rainbow jewels. Ellie was EFFICIENT, completing a cookie and asking, “I have a-other one?” before I could get anyone else started. We used our Ninja cookie cutters for the first time (thank you Lang’s for the new tradition!) and ended up with not just ninjas but Santa with his sack, Elvis with a white and silver jumpsuit and microphone and even Spiderman. There was a baby ninja in a diaper, too, that Jac made and all found hilarious.

A few days later it was onto the Ginger bread houses. Or, as Ellie says, “Ninjabread house!” because, really, she has no idea what a gingerman is. This year we scaled back the size of the houses slightly, and after putting them together, set the kids loose. Philip was all about the yard accessories and planning but not so much the execution. Let’s hope that’s just a stage and not a life pattern, hmmm? Max decided early on he was going for an “East meets West” theme and diligently worked to carry that out. Ellie, meanwhile, ate more candy than she used on her house and after chattering like a squirrel for over an hour, lapsed into a diabetic coma. And Tess? She was the art-teest. Patterns and matching and much detail went into her abode. Incidentally, if she is engrossed like that there is very little talking. Good to keep in mind. . . The final touch for the oldest three was a dusting of powdered sugar for snow. Philip, distracted as usual, chatted about what would be cool if blah-blah-blah-flamethrower until Max broke into the plan by bellowing, “Shake it like you mean it, boy!” Perfect.

Thursday brought pulling taffy with Fr. Tyler. He had made the request a month or so ago and we were happy to oblige. Then I started simmering ingredients and had some serious self doubts. Candy thermometers and I just don’t get along and it is so easy to really mess things up. Hands were washed and buttered, (except for Susan who, God love her, doesn’t like to get slimy) and the pulling commenced. In the end, Fr. and his muscles saved the day. His wad was the only stuff that became taffy- Philip and then the girls just didn’t have enough brute strength to get ‘er done. Instead, we had vanilla flavored hard candy. Philip sighed and pined over the taffy until Fr. wisely told him, “You lose enough teeth all on your own, you don’t need any help.” His spacers thank you for that, Fr.!

Lastly, today we made Mexican sweet bread. We figured if we can’t go to it, it can come to us! And with today being the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, it seemed fitting and right. Just the ladies helped on this one-the boys were otherwise occupied- and Tess hand ground the cinnamon all by herself. Believe me, she deserved it. The rolls turned out pretty good in our estimation but fantastic to the kiddos. “Where did you find the recipe?” Max asked. “‘Cause I think I might want to take that one to college with me.” Always good to plan ahead.

*Lest you think everything is all lemon drops and gumdrops (and cavities) around here. . . We had a leak in the bathroom, from the ceiling. I spent an entire morning cleaning out the innards of the exhaust fan. The dog is still sick. There was some experimental hair cutting during the making of our St. Nicholas ornaments and they broke their light switch. I thought I had lost my purse and was in tears when we asked the kids if they had seen it. ” N-n-n-o-o-o-o” Tess said slowly and then disappeared. She came back quickly with the purse and admitted to boxing it up with Philip’s shoes because she thought it’d make a good present. They are adding to my insanity, I tell you! It’s the hap, happiest season of all!!!!