Thursday, December 22, 2011

Unconventional Gingerbread Houses

I know, a positive post from The Stone Age Techie! One that is not about health problems, or health insurance, or other sucky stuff like that. I feel lots better, largely because I started acupuncture about six weeks ago. (Think it's too expensive? So did I, until I found out about Community Acupuncture.) It is a frickin' miracle, and between that and physical therapy I hope I am on the road to recovery.

I've learned many lessons from these last months of illness; I think the two most important are 1) it's okay to depend on others sometimes and 2) patience really is a virtue. I want to thank everybody who contacted me here, or on Facebook, or via e-mail - your support really got me through this! I'm very lucky in my virtual friends as well as my real-world ones.

My kids have learned many lessons too, and have spent lots of their homeschooling time honing their life skills ( laundry, chicken care, dishes, cooking, etc. ) and their patience. In a way, these months have been extra-special because we've spent more time at home with each other, playing board games and talking about everything under the sun, and just laughing together. I wish I could've blogged about the time that Luke and Owen performed a shadow-puppet show, The Lord of The Rings Part One, with a theater and puppets they'd made from scratch to cheer me up during an especially low point. I could take no pictures, but oh boy, did this work. I'm tearing up thinking about it. It was awesome.

With health improving and Christmas coming, the month of December has been pretty exciting. The boys have been good to each other, have shared their time, energy, and even some of their hard-earned money to help less fortunate families in our area, they've been truly helpful around the house – so this week seemed like a good time to bust into the gingerbread. A few years ago, my dear friend Nicole, whose fantastic blog about unschooling you can check out here, somehow managed to get geometry concepts across while making gingerbread houses in the math class she taught; since then, Luke and Owen look forward to replicating that project every Christmas. Here are this year's results!

Instead of gingerbread, we use graham crackers because they are approximately the same size as index cards. ( And they're already made – gingerbread for houses is one thing I have yet to perfect.) So first, each boy uses index cards and tape to make a model for their gingerbread house. Here is Owen's, next door to his partially completed house:

Barn, actually. He declared his gingerbread house would be "the old barn where Jesus was born." "You mean manger?" I asked, enjoying his substitution for a word he did not know. "Yes!" came the answer.

It was fun to watch him design this. He spent his time painstakingly folding roof pieces and cutting small pieces for the upper walls. I wouldn't be surprised if he pulls out index cards just to build with them again sometime.

Luke went sort of in the other direction, making a cute, fairly unconventional house… complete with outhouse in back. Here he is, putting it together:

Their eyes widened so much when I brought out the candy:

It's rare that they see that much candy in one place, never mind in our house.

A happy boy.

Here's Owen putting the finishing touches on his manger:

This one gives you a good view of Luke's house, and outhouse:

He said at one point, "Hey Mom! I just put up a jellybean as an air freshener in the outhouse!" I haven't laughed that hard in weeks.

And here are the finished products:

Owen's manger, complete with candy gardens in front and back – and a stash of candy inside for the residents.

And Luke's, which he designed and built and decorated all on his own. Yes, it's an outhouse, but it's his outhouse, know what I mean?

When Owen developed the idea from the Rollo chimney, Luke soon followed suit. In fact, they traded ideas, as well as candy and extra frosting, very companionably. I kept thinking how great it is that they're such good friends, how even though they fight sometimes they're very quick to make up and care very much about each other.

And, not only can they rely on each other for help and support and fun and silliness, but Ben and I can rely on them for these things too.

It's been just one more positive lesson to come out of the trying year of 2011.