Sunday, February 17, 2008

Candy galore.

When we were little, my mom had a Valentine's Day tradition - make graham cracker houses. Now my mom came alive at holidays. Traditions were her "thing". So for almost a month in December, and a day here and there throughout the year, my mom was a great mom. These are the moments I remember and these are the traditions I hold on to - even if some of them make me a little bit queasy now.

Like graham cracker houses held together with frosting and decorated with twenty different kinds of candy. Yes, my mother went overboard, so I feel bound to do the same.

First we made the boards that the houses sat on.

Then Hannah and I set everything out while Ainsley taste-tested.

Then the decorating started.

Growing up, we were not given candy free-choice except for this one big splash. (At Halloween, candy was put in bags and stored in my mom's bedroom. Funny, we never saw more than a few pieces of it after that... ) As kids, our houses were not so much works of art as works of gluttony. You learned to make your house as big and stable as possible with a roof that could be stealthily removed and replaced without notice. This way you could fill the house full of candy that Mom wouldn't know was there. Then, instead of designing a beautiful house, you put as much candy on it as possible. You made a garden chock full of candy. Because these houses sat on the table for days and you were allowed to eat off of them. Apparently, my mom didn't like frosting covered candy, so these houses were safe.

While Ainsley does not have the same candy issues I had growing up, she does have a healthy does of toddler-itis and absolutely loved pushing the candy into the frosting and watching in amazement as it didn't fall off. Her house fell down not long after this picture from an excess of candy.

Hannah's completed house. Note the beans (jelly) and corn (candy) in her garden.

Ainsley kept decorating long after the rest of us had quit.

I thought it would be torture to do these houses since I've been on a no-sugar diet for the last few months of this pregnancy, but apparently I've lost the desire for pure sugar or sugar mixed with wax and flavoring. It just wasn't appealing to me. Since I've been off sugar, Hannah's kept close tabs on my sugar intake. If I eat anything with a slight amount of sugar (berries in my kefir smoothie), I have to explain to her why it's so little and why it's ok while other sugar and in other amounts is not. It's been really interesting to have to find the answers to our questions and explain to her even more than ever about diet and what's in our food.

Hannah's also decided that sugar's not good for her and has been phasing it out of her diet where she can (and, frankly, where it's convenient for her). When Hannah was nearly done decorating her house, Matt asked her if she wanted to put any of the conversation hearts on her house, almost the only candy she hadn't yet used. She asked him if they were made of sugar and he said yes. She informed him that she didn't want any sugar on her house, so she wouldn't use the candy hearts. Matt just stared at her. At her and her frosting covered, candy encrusted graham cracker house. That, thankfully, didn't have sugary conversation hearts on it.


Katey said...

Can I come over for Valentine's Day next year?

Pichinde said...

Katey, you definitely should! lol What an overdose, aye?


Katey said...

I loved the part about Hannah not wanting sugar on her Valentine house.

It looks like a very fun tradition.

Cindy said...

glad Hannah wants to be sugar-free. Hilarious! I remember hiding candy INSIDE our houses too!