crafts

#MicroblogMondays: the Gingerbread House

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A combination of cold rain canceling a much-anticipated holiday activity and subsequent, ever-present parental guilt led me to a snap decision in the grocery store over the weekend: we would build a gingerbread house with Daniel!  I selected a kit with what looked to be a simple house with a straightforward assembly.  It would be fun, right? A bonding moment! A holiday memory we would all cherish.

It took only 5 minutes for the doubt to creep in. I carefully removed the gingerbread pieces and the candy. I studied the instructions closely. It was cutting a hole in the bag of icing and treating it like a pastry bag that did me in. This was going to be messy. And take a lot of time and attention to detail. Could I and an excitable 5-year-old handle this project? And then I cut the slit too wide on the icing packet and had flashbacks to my ignominious cake decorating class. This type of activity is NOT a core competency for me! I am not crafty. Nope, not at all.

We managed. It was fun. And messy. Very messy.  Daniel consumed some of the decorations, but he took the craft very seriously and had a ton of enthusiasm. After an hour, we both looked at the house and declared it done. He wanted to draw. I wanted to do…something else.

I told Twitter that it would be my first and last gingerbread house, but now, a scant day removed, I’m thinking that maybe if we made a few modifications to the icing situation, it would be more feasible. And less messy. So maybe we can re-engineer this project for next year.

This is what memories are made of, right?

The kit and its potential

Our kit and its potential

 

 

Our gingerbread house

Our gingerbread house

 

 

 

Play-Doh, I Love You But You’re Bringing Me Down

Loving his play-doh fun factory!

When we were making our Christmas list for Daniel, we had a fit of nostalgia and decided that he needed the play-doh fun factory and a crap-ton of extra play-doh to go with it.  They arrived well before Christmas thanks to Santa Amazon.  We wrapped them and placed them under the tree.  Since we have a lot of family Christmases in a short period of time as well as Santa’s gifts, we usually end up waiting a while to let Daniel open the gifts from us.  Last weekend, he finally opened his last gift, a gift that happened to be the fun factory and the extra play-doh.

Although the fun factory wasn’t how my creaky brain remembered it from my childhood, it is still pretty cool.  You can cut “material” that then drops onto the moving conveyor belt.  The conveyor belt takes the play-doh through the extruder, which allows you to stamp various candies or toys on it.  From there, it journeys down the belt.  Just like product in a real manufacturing facility,  you can strip off the excess play-doh from the mold and re-use it.

Of course I was in manufacturing heaven.  The day we set it up, I told Daniel about production, production volume, scrap and quality control.  We were a factory making candy for Halloween.  That first day, Daniel played the fun factory for 3 hours straight and has played with it every night since.  He’s even neglected his trains!!

You’re probably thinking, “That’s awesome!  What’s she complaining about now?”

I don’t know if you’re like me, but I think about doing arts and crafts, and a haze descends over my brain, and I think about how fun it will be to sprinkle glitter, use glue, shave crayons, get out paints, etc.  I picture us engaged in an educational, heart-warming crafting moment and sigh at the exquisite beauty of the scene.  Mother and child, crafting. Creating exquisite ornaments or seasonally-appropriate art.  How wonderful.

How messy.  Then reality crashes in, and I remember my extreme hatred of glitter.  How it’s never possible to clean up all of the damn stuff.  The paper around crayons that I have to remove or else it triggers my paper/trash phobia.  The finger paints that make their way from the paper onto the walls and furniture as the young artist decides his art knows no boundaries, emulating Pollock with drips and drabbles.

And play-doh.  Dear God, play-doh.  I played with play-doh happily in my childhood, but I almost want to throw up at the sight of it now.  The can of biscuits smell when it slurps out of the can and drops on the table. The slight disgust at how it resembles the can like cranberry sauce does.  The squishing is therapeutic, but that smell gets on my hands, and little bits of it seem to end up everywhere: on the floor, on socks, on toys, everywhere.

Daniel also loves to combine colors, mashing them into edgy, dark colors seen only in hipster makeup lines at Sephora.  I like red to be red and blue to be blue, but Daniel mashes them together until they are a color never intended in nature.  The combined colors really bother me. Maybe the recipe for play-doh has changed too because the colors seem to mix weirdly.

Daniel won’t let us clean up the play-doh until after he goes to bed (we’ll work on that), so cleaning up play-doh and its detritus is one of the last tasks we have for the night.  I look at the kitchen table and the floor underneath, and I see bits of play-doh and it’s disgusting.  I know I’ll be finding play-doh for days, ranging in texture from oddly moist to a little dry to a little crispy to dry and brittle.  I’m cringing just writing that.

And you’re probably thinking what a bitch I am to complain about a toy that is educational AND fun and that Daniel obviously loves.  Yes, I am being bitchy.  After all, I just cleaned off the kitchen table, home base for the play-doh “candy factory” as I simultaneously tried not to inhale the distinctive play-doh smell and gag.

Don’t worry.  We aren’t hiding the fun factory just yet.  I am happy he loves the toy and playing with play-doh, but I admit that I curse a little under my breath every time he pulls it out.

What’s your least favorite toy?