Tag Archives: noise

Gingerbread all the Way!

baking gingerbread
Some years we’ve made Gingerbread aprons…this guy has now outgrown two!

Last weekend our two families had our 17th annual Gingerbread House baking session. Flour floated about in the air and candy sprinkles bounced to the floor as every cookie sheet I own was in action.

This year’s theme was “Jenks Trojans” since this is the one and only year that our combined crew of boys is attending the same school district.

Our boys range from Kindergarten to Senior year, covering the campuses of Elementary, Intermediate, Middle School, and High School. Several of us parents are Jenks Alumni, so it was fun to focus on our alma mater, too…and look through old yearbooks.

Jenks Gingerbread house
Jenks Trojan mascot, overlooking the fusion of campus life

The photo of the completed project typically yields satisfied smiles and a well-tended gingerbread village, all neat and tidy. Yet it represents so much more.

Di & Audra with 1st gingerbread house
The Lone Star House – 2001 Gingerbread

We started this tradition when my oldest was 1 and Audra was newly married. An additional 1/2-dozen  kids have joined the process since that first Christmas Eve when our only helpers were our reluctant husbands and one very enthusiastic mother-in-law.

We had no Pinterest to consult or Facebook to scroll for ideas. We had a generic gingerbread recipe from an old cookbook of Audra’s and my risky idea that melting granulated sugar until it became searing hot liquid could be the “glue” to fuse gingerbread walls together.

Each year we talk fondly of that first little house with its gaping roof hole and wonky proportions. We wince as we remember burning our fingers repeatedly with that molten sugar. We persevered that first night into the wee morning hours though because we were hopeful of starting a tradition between our two families.

the Flour KingMany versions of the Gingerbread House have been constructed since then, some more elaborate than others. Significant family events have been rolled into these Gingerbread gatherings  just as consistently as we have rolled out the dough year after year.

gingerbread team

We’ve made our Gingerbread creations in 3 states and 9 different houses. For several years running we added another child to the mix.

We’ve taken turns soothing hurt feelings and nurturing burned fingers. We’ve broken dishes, chipped rolling pins, and even taken a door off its hinges to move a super-sized gingerbread creation to another room. The one constant in all the candy chaos was the fusion of our families through this joint endeavor. gingerbread in production

Throughout these annual Gingerbread adventures, cousins have connected in various ways, solidifying  their family foundation just as our go-to cement icing strengthens the gingerbread structures firmly into place.cousins

Each year we gather together with only a loose theme in mind and then begin the process of making large batches of gingerbread dough to see what the crew creates.

candy-eating decorating
Eating candy is ALWAYS part of the process

As ideas unfold, we reminisce about past gingerbread house successes and failures. Everyone seems to have a different “favorite” house based on a fun technique or unusual theme.

Our collective memories merge into heartfelt agreement that the sticky messes, the unforeseen challenges, the countless hours, and architectural frustrations are worth the sweet legacy kneaded into this culinary tradition.hospital gingerbread

Batman gingerbreadAs the boys have gotten older, they’ve become more involved in  creating and constructing.

The adults have gradually learned to downshift into more supportive roles, allowing the smaller hands to manipulate the dough into their own unique concoctions.

Sugar Cube Castle
Sugar Cube Castle 2016

generational gingerbreadseniorsGrandparents weave in and out of the frenzied activity, lending a helping hand or showing us how to pace ourselves.

Although we do like to “ooh” and “aah” over the completed gingerbread display, the true  joy of finishing is seeing the individualized inputs synthesized into a cohesive creation.

As the dads set up tripods and arrange wiggly boys for a full team photo, the sugarload effect looms large as we grasp for one last “decent” shot with all eyes open. (Sometimes the photo sessions seems to take as long as the construction phase!) When the crew inevitably collapses into silliness and giggles,  we shoo them out the door to run off their pent-up energy.

Superhero City
Superhero City – 2015 Gingerbread

Each year we take a few moments to cherish the closure of another triumphant gingerbread round, wearily rejoicing and ignoring the crunchiness of my floor.

Here’s to family and GINGERBREAD all the way!

Yay!

 

 

Helping hands

Summer is in full swing and kids are all over the place, exploring and having a chance to wander a bit more than during the school year. Hands that have been crunching time on keyboards and lifting heavy backpacks are reaching out for some new things to do.

When mom-guilt pings about how much those hands can be on electronic devices, I pause to reflect on what their hands are grasping during those non-device hours.

Growing hands around here have been capturing frogs and releasing them into a neighborhood pond. frog visitorSweaty hands are helping with weekly yard chores of mowing and weeding…even the too-gross-for-mom removal of icky things from the yard (mice, moles, and doggie-doo). “Thank you, son.”baby turtlesCaring hands are feeding pets, brushing the dog, and transferring wriggly worms from the driveway to the backyard turtle habitat.



Embracing boyhood one summer day at a time.



Helpful hands are assisting me with meal prep and endless dishes. The noise level crescendos as cabinet doors bang and utensils clatter, dropping nearly into place as they are tossed casually on the table. Fingers swipe phones to change tunes or ask Syri random questions. Hands tap out rhythms and fingers poke playfully as we pass each other in the kitchen.

boy cleaning poolThroughout our parenting we’ve weaved “helping” into our family tapestry in daily routines and weekly chores. Each phase is a bit different and we’ve revamped schedules to better fit personality types. This summer they made their own chore schedule while I supplied encouraging parameters and crunchy snacks.

boy helping weed playgroundAs they’ve gotten bigger, we’ve expanded “helping” into community projects. It’s amazing how kids persevere on mundane tasks when they are alongside new friends in youth group and have ultimate frisbee at the end of their toil.

boy doing service projectI’m trying to catch them being natural helpers and offer a simple “thank you for ____.” My mom-brain keeps prompting them in ways big and small to see ways they can help others. I want to expand their hearts for serving. Eyes redirected to faces rather than tiny screens. Hands reaching out to open a door instead of clutched to a phone. It’s a process.


“Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands upon us.” Psalm 90:17


Today it may be picking up a piece of trash on a walk. Tomorrow may be helping a grandparent with a project. Someday it will be caring for their own family. I want their hands capable and their hearts ready, so we’re going to keep rocking the helper chores over here and maybe in the process catch a frog or two.

 

 

What Goes Up, Must Come Down!

One of the many joys we have both learned as Boy Moms, is to embrace the sheer pleasure of destruction in our sons’ worlds. I truly believe that a few of our kids only humor us with our Christmas tradition of Gingerbread-making because they know the day will come at the end of the Holiday Break when we will bring them all together again for: Demolition Day!

demo day

Yes, we are “those moms” that give our sons Nerf guns and hammers and on the count of 3… let them wreak havoc on our cookie creation. The whole thing is usually reduced to rubble in seconds while the two of us try to capture the fleeting moment for a scrapbook, dodging bits of gingerbread and candy flying past us!

This is how we look at it: children are constantly told to “be still, be quiet, don’t touch this or that, stop running…” It must be so difficult to contain all that frenetic energy bundled up in these growing bodies, AND obey all the adults that want them to stop acting rambunctious! Of course we can’t have children completely run amok (!!) but there should be some balance in their behavior training.

There are times we can create appropriate moments to run, yell, jump, wrestle, and touch everything in sight. So that’s what this day is about for our Gingerbread Warriors. They anticipate this day greatly, and we all dive in to the fun of it. So when we say “be still,” they can, because they trust us to tell them when it is time to “run with abandon!”play!

Enjoy the “play”; these moments are treasures tucked into your children’s hearts. They will become more important to you than all those moments they were quiet.

muddy warriors

“Open my heart, Lord, to the gifts of this day!”

White Noise

chillThere is an unconventional layer to a home that you may have never considered. It is the White Noise that plays as the background music to our lives. It is usually unspoken, but for our memories it is SO powerful. It’s worth taking a look at.

Songs have a way of mentally dropping you back to a certain event and time; so do the sounds of a home, and they are a layer to each of our lives.

Definition of White Noise: random frequencies with equal intensity

Here are a few of our families’ favorites:

A football game on TV Sunday afternoon signals that Dad is home; the best naps come with the low steady rhythm of a football game on.

Pots and pans clanking in the kitchen entice you to expect something delicious soon.

Children giggling in another room as they play are branding brotherhood onto their hearts.

The hum of the washer and dryer in the evening at bedtime lulls you to sleep and secures your spaces.

Lullabies and music calm children and invite them to linger longer.

Basketball games in the driveway are a beautiful noise to neighbors that are empty nesters.

The rustling of pages during family reading sessions…Everyone is absorbed in their own books yet this shared time itself is becoming a beloved chapter in the family’s own storyline.

The panting and giggling interwoven into the beat of “Just Dance” tunes during family Wii competitions evokes a sense of spirited togetherness.

The jingle of the dog’s collar rushing to greet the kids coming home from school is a joyous welcome.

The creaky sound of the garage door going up signifies family members returning home.

A Dad’s chuckle and a boy’s snort as they read the comics together is a bond of humor.

An instrument being practiced in a particularly diligent way just before a recital adds a vibrant undertone to other activities.

The loud clatter of Legos tumbling out of a bin and then the quieter clinks as little hands search for “just the right” pieces are echoes of boy happiness.

The signature clap of Papa’s hands as he greets his grandsons at the door provides a generational connection.

white noise

Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth, burst into jubilant song with music. Psalm 98:4tulips

God interweaves some beautiful White Noise into our settings as well. Just stop and quiet yourself to listen: the melody of a bird song, the katydids and tree frogs on a hot summer night, the wind that whips through the trees, the waves that crash to the shore, the rain that drizzles and sometimes pours, the crackling leaves underfoot a child that enjoys the “stomp”; all so intrinsic and beautiful.

This layer of White Noise has so much richness to it; it is a constant, steady rhythm in our days, wherever we go and whatever lies ahead of us, there is a steady beat in our background, a soundtrack that keeps our pace. I ask our Lord for forgiveness on the days that I have created the Noise that can be  ugly. My heart is sad on the close of a day that I may have produced sounds of irritation to a loved one, or harshness and impatience to a stranger, not knowing their story, and now considering the impact.

crackling fire

I relish the days that my ears hear the sweet sounds of a happy home, the gentle sway of nature and it’s seasons. These are the days that I am grounded in God; embracing His plans for the day ahead. There is peace that surrounds those day even in the midst of Noise. Stop and listen; not just with your ears, but also with your heart and soul. The White Noise is no accidental occurrence in our lives. We produce it and blend our sounds with the amazing soundtrack of the Lord. White Noise is an incredible layer to a home if you are aware of its presence. Enjoy the melody.childhood