Friday, December 6, 2013

Advent - Week 1

In November, I shared with you our Advent Tree.  Over the next four weeks, I will post updates on our progress.  Not because I think that you care, but because it will keep us accountable to make sure we do them.  Sometimes we need external motivation to keep us accountable - and I'm not ashamed to admit that.

Here are the things we crossed off our list during the first week of December.

1.  We made cut-out sugar cookies using this recipe and this frosting method.  If I ever need a sure-fire recipe for something, I go straight to Brown Eyed Baker - you should jot that down for later.  Emma and Owen love to help in the kitchen, so this was a fun treat for them.

In order to decorate these cookies up right, we needed to purchase these additional items that we didn't have on hand.  Squeeze bottles for the frosting, a #1 tip and a #3 tip, disposable pastry bags, meringue powder and a coupler for the tips.

Honestly, after we made the actual cookies - I was ready to give up.  Cut out cookies are HARD!!  The dough got stuck to the counter top, so we had to start over.  I rolled the dough too thin, so we had to start over.  I under baked the first batch, didn't start that over, we just ate the duds - which wasn't a bad mistake to make!  The second two pans we baked turned out perfect, not over done, not under done.  But mama was exhausted by this point and in no way felt like conquering the decorating portion.  The following night, we mixed up the frosting and decorated, which turned out to be pretty fun and easy.

Can she get any more adorable??  And yes, that is a random quart of paint in the middle of the dining room table - it's normal around here, folks!

The idea behind this decorating method is that you outline the cookies first and let that icing harden a bit.  Then you thin out the frosting, put it in a squeeze bottle and "flood" inside the lines.

Unfortunately, we couldn't share any of these cookies with anyone because Owen licked the toothpick every single time he took it out of the frosting.  Sorry guys.

When we were done with the frosting, I held the squeeze bottle as high up as I could while the children threw their heads back, jaws open wide.  It was a frosting waterfall and it was magical and wonderful.  I didn't include a picture because you would have judged me and called me a bad mother for letting them have so much frosting.  Trust would have.

2.  My mom gave us a book of Advent stories so each night we have been reading one.  Each story is only a few paragraphs and takes just a couple minutes to read.  They are easy stories to talk about when your done to decipher what the meaning of the story was.  Brent and I looooovvvvveeeee a good discussion!

3.  But before we read from the Advent book, we read a Bible verse that pertains to Advent following this list.  This activity looked good on paper but here's how it actually plays out.  The four of us gather around Brent each night as he opens our Bible to the verse.  As he reads it out loud, we all attempt (OWEN!!!) to sit quietly and listen to his words.  When he is done, we all sort of turn to look at each other with a confusing look on our faces - because no one understands what the verse was about!  I'm thinking we should be using our 3rd grade Bible, it might be better geared to our level!  So Brent just quietly closes the Bible and sets it to the side.  Fail.

I wanted to give you a picture that accurately depicts what this scene must look like - this is the best I can give you.  I just told the three of them to "look confused".  Clearly, Owen is confused because he doesn't know what confused means - so he just gave a blank stare with mouth gaping open pose.

4.  Wednesday night, December 4th, we had intended to go to our church's Advent Workshop but because of a snowstorm, they had to cancel.  Brent and I figured, since the kids had been cooped up all day at school and daycare, that it would be a perfect opportunity to take them to the mall to jump.  A year ago, we bought these super cheap punchcards from an inflatable bouncy place.  If we take them to bounce on week nights, we usually get the whole place to ourselves.  Before bouncing, per Emma and Owen's request, we had pizza from the mall food court.  This is their idea of a perfect day.

No kidding - when these kids see me get the camera out - they automatically stop what they are doing to pose for me.

This particular evening, we didn't have the facility to ourselves - there were 2 other kids there, so Emma  and Owen played with them for the next hour and a half.

With our first week officially under our belts, we are feeling good about being able to accomplish everything on our list.  Each day, in the morning and at night, the kids go look at the Advent Tree to pick out something for us to do - they are really enjoying this - I hope it's something you can incorporate into your family!

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