Monday, February 9, 2009

Sugar Shacks

Mid-January we made sugar shacks.

When I was growing up, my mom would have us make graham cracker houses in February around Valentine's Day instead of in December. We used lots of red and white and pink candy. It was the only time of year that we were allowed free access to candy - don't even ask about Halloween. BUT the free access only lasted for the few hours that it took to do the houses and then the extra candy was taken away and we were only allowed to eat the candy on our houses.

I was smart. I made a garden and frosting trees stuck through with candy and fences and gates and chimneys and so much candy decorating the house that I would have candy for at least a week. Heh.

But somehow my brothers, who did all the smart things I did and ate through their candy twice as fast always had candy long after I did. It wasn't until I was eight years old that I caught on to what they were doing. They were making their house walls, filling them up with candy, and then putting a second story of graham crackers on to hide their first floor so my mom wouldn't confiscate it.

So this was a tradition I really wanted to carry on. For obvious reasons. Heh.

Problem was, my family has tons of traditions (mostly centered around Christmas, but still...) and my husband's family has, well, one - at least only one that my husband or any of his siblings that I've grilled can think of - and that tradition is graham cracker houses at Christmas time. It's really not exciting to do graham cracker houses twice a year. So I was stuck. I didn't want to give up my cool, fun, sugar-memory-laden tradition, but I wasn't about to throw my husband's one solitary tradition out in favor of mine.

Then I saw Steph's sugar shacks and thought we'd give it a try. It's a perfect replacement and it has the added benefit of being a perfect craft for tiny, chubby two year old hands. They can handle and manipulate those sugar cubes so much easier than graham crackers. Ains actually worked really hard putting her cubes just where she wanted and building her walls.

She had little interest in her roof, so as I made her roof and Hannah's roof, Hannah decorated them...

though she ended up not needing a roof herself since her shack ended up being all garden and tree.

I've learned that the best way for me to keep my interpretations, 'helpful suggestions', and controlling tendencies out of their creative processes is to do my own project to the side of theirs and only help them when asked. I did an igloo to the side. It was a really simple one with not much embellishment until the next day when Hannah and Ains got out their watercolors and went to town on it - I thought you'd like this, Steph.

Pretty cool, huh? And I would have never thought of doing that.


Sarah said...

I can relate to your controlling tendencies! I tend to monopolize 'fun' projects and not let my kids do them because they can't do them 'right.'
I'll have to make myself a little project to do while they do theirs. What a great idea. Why didn't I think of that??

Sarah said...

"Why didn't I think of that??"

Full disclosure - I didn't think of it either. A really good friend taught me that trick. It's been very useful. lol

Stephanie said...

Ah - you'll notice that there was a third shack in my pictures. :)
[grin] and I did think of it!
Also - mine is the only one still standing.

I love that you built gates and gardens! That's hilarious. And even more hilarious that they built trap doors! :)

Also, you are right that I indeed love their decorations!
Beautiful! :)