The record is very clear - we are all about big events in our house. As has been documented here before, we believe in big birthdays, in big Christmases, in big Disney World trips, and so on and so forth. However, life can't just be floating along until the next big event. You have to build those connections every day, you have to find the small pieces of magic to sprinkle into everyday life.
Last week, Donna got the idea of doing s'mores inside over our fireplace. The weather has cooled off quite a bit; a fire is now an attractive thing, and she thought that it would be fun to take a traditional summertime activity and put a little spin on it for the kids. So last week's grocery trip included me picking up graham crackers, Hershey bars, marshmallows, and metal skewers (so as to not have to scavenge sticks from the yard).
As an aside... I'm a fan of new and improved products, of products designed to fit little niches... but the fact that they now sell square-shaped marshmallows - which cost twice as much as normal ones - and market them as "s'more marshmallows" is just absurd. A well toasted marshmallow with a near liquid center spreads out perfectly fine on a graham cracker. Come on, marshmallow magnates!
At any rate, I wordlessly placed these ingredients on the dining room table, but refused to answer any questions about them aside from "they are for a surprise". Now, Noah and Jonah (ages eleven and nine) figured out right away what the ingredients were for, but hadn't put together exactly what the plan might be. On the other hand, Silas, Wynter, and Elowyn were in the dark (and excited to various degrees) - in particular, Wynter could barely contain her enthusiasm. She must have asked me a couple of dozen times what we were going to do, when the surprise would happen, how many days away was that, etc.
Sunday evening came, and I started building a fire. I do this from time to time, so they kids still hadn't figured out yet what we had in mind. But once we got it going, I announced the plans - and lo and behold, even Noah enthusiastically disconnected from the video games to come and participate.
Noah showing us how marshmallow toasting is done.
The process itself wasn't perfect; Jonah displayed a particular talent for setting marshmallows on fire, and despite multiple tries, came away every time with the finding that no, burned marshmallows did not taste good to him. He then started making a big deal of "marshmallow funerals". I ended up having to do the toasting for the girls (no big surprise there), and discovered in the process that yes - as I had feared, the skewers were bit short (unless you are into roasting knuckles as well as confections). Noah was a pro, but everyone else required some degree of help; still, when all was said and done, everyone got to enjoy s'mores (as well as a few perfectly golden brown marshmallows that Dad toasted and dispersed).
All in all, a fun little time was had by all with less than a ten dollar investment. Hopefully, this is one more fun, cool little memory that these kids will be able to file away to help give them that solid foundation that we work daily to create for them.
Elowyn, connoisseur of sweets, gives her approval to a s'more.
If we were that perfect, picture book Hallmark family, I would close this post here. In reality, we have six kids age eleven and under, and chaos always seems to have a hand in what goes on in our house.
Oh, sure. You probably expect that there would be crumbs, or chocolate and marshmallow on people's hands and faces (somehow, Jonah got it on his nose, cheeks, and FOREHEAD... but that's Jonah). You probably aren't surprised by sticky marshmallow spots on the floor here and there. You probably figured that not everyone just loved s'mores absolutely, that we ended up throwing away some of the s'mores in various stages of being eaten, as they were more fun to make than to eat, at least in some cases. Meh, why sweat the details?
What you probably didn't expect - at least, I certainly didn't - was to hear full on sobs from Wynter, my four year old, after we were done. No, she wasn't sad that the activity was over; she was sad that somehow, some way, she had managed to deposit what appeared to be a complete handful of molten marshmallow on to the love seat... and did so a good half hour after we were done with the process. Sure, Dad was a bit upset, but as it turns out, a stain treated love seat actual repels marshmallow pretty well; a little attention from a damp rag made it roll up on itself, which allowed me to dispose of it fairly painlessly.
I was more surprised to discover more tears a few minutes later, as Wynter then realized that the pajamas she had just taken out of her drawer also had a nice handful of marshmallow stuck to the back of them. I rejected the questions that followed (how she had managed to stick THAT MUCH marshmallow to her back and still transfer as much as she did to the love seat); instead, I helped her change and took the pajamas to the sink. It wasn't quite as easy to get off of them as it had been the love seat, but cold water, dish soap, and a little scrubbing did the trick. Obviously, she wouldn't be wearing those PJs that night, but that was easy enough to resolve...
Cue up the third set of tears. Somehow, someway, Wynter now had a good handful of marshmallow... IN HER HAIR. By this point, the annoyance had melted away; all I could do was laugh. I mean... hey. At least it wasn't gum, and I wouldn't have to employ peanut butter and scissors.
We pulled a chair to the kitchen sink, I grabbed some shampoo, and Dad set up a quick "hair salon".
I'll allow this much - of the three substances, hair proved to be easily the most difficult to remove melted marshmallow from, but some scrubbing and careful attention got it all out.
Soon enough, all was well, and I did my best to pick up the pieces of the warm and fuzzy feelings that Donna and I had been patting ourselves on the back with. It still counts as a piece of that foundation if you have to do damage control after, right?
Tags for this post: Parenting, Family Life
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