Friday, November 14, 2014

in the tradition of traditions: First Snow Brownies.

Between J.J. and me, I'm definitely the tradition-sparker in our relationship. He may be the one who insists on Sunday daddy-daughter dates and remembers to make me birthday fondue, but I'm the reason we cut down a Christmas tree every year and have weekly photos of Rowan from her first year. I like cultivating family rituals - taking pieces of our own childhoods and weaving them into our adult lives, learning that most traditions are worth the work (hanging Christmas lights in 20-degree weather, anyone?), and gaining a new appreciation for the effort our parents put into creating memories for us.

An ex-coworker of mine posted something on Facebook last week about how it was the first snowfall of the year where she lives, and for her family, that meant baking a batch of cookies THAT DAY. How sweet is that? It's a nice way to take the edge off the inevitable approach of my least favorite season (winter) and remember that it's still one of my favorite times of the year (the winter holidays). Plus, you know, cookies.

I know better than to make myself commit to any tradition that involves baking or cooking, other than supplying a pumpkin cheesecake every Thanksgiving, so I didn't really think much of the cookie idea - until snowflakes started flying yesterday.

I had a really cute video to put here, but Blogger is being rude, so please accept this terrible photograph instead.

Now, shhh, I know we've had some rogue flakes in Ann Arbor already (like while we were trick-or-treating...bogue), but this was legit snow.

No, not a LOT...but it's there!

Aaaand to add some spice to our freezing cold day, my poor baby took a half hour to fall asleep for her afternoon nap, only to wake up about 15 minutes later in a coughing fit (she's been fighting a cold for about a week). I was cranky from alligator-wrestling with her at naptime (for god's sake, if you're so tired you can't keep your eyes open, then just GO TO SLEEP) and out of ideas for how to entertain her for All The Hours until dinner. As she stood at the window, cooing at the furious snowfall, I thought - you know what? Let's do it. Let's make First Snow Cookies. That meant both a trip to the store (because you know this girl isn't making cookies from damn scratch...come on), which is one of Rowan's favorite activities, and then a fun project - actually making the cookies.

Cookies turned into brownies when I spotted the mixes on the shelf, and, back at home, we got to work carefully measuring ingredients mixing the pre-made batter. I learned a couple things from my first attempt at baking with Rowan:

1. Yeah, mix the batter first, so it's not just chocolate dust and raw eggs when your toddler flings the wooden spoon out of the bowl.
2. If you don't want your kid to sample whatever you're making (like, you know, RAW freaking eggs), then...perhaps you shouldn't put him or her within arm's reach of the bowl. Duh.

Chocolate sock + Mama grabbing the spoon back.

Next time we bake together, I think I'll give her her own little bowl and spoon with something she can sample. But overall? Not too shabby results.

Two-thirds of those brownies are now consumed, less than 24 hours later.

There are other traditions I want to start or continue with my little family - driving around on Christmas Eve to check out all the lights, random overnight visits from the Cookie Fairy, Pizza & Movie Night on Fridays. It's a pretty honorable responsibility, isn't it? To be the Tradition Sparker for your children? I love imagining my kids both experiencing and reminiscing about our family customs - including the times that First Snow Cookies became brownies, thanks to product placement on the grocery shelves, or the year we got a fake Christmas tree instead of a real one to save money when Mom was too cool for a job (ahem, 2014). Those times are no less authentic, and while we cherish the routine of traditions, the anomalies are just as memorable.

And shopping for a fake tree will probably be more enjoyable for a certain little elf, who was thoroughly Not Impressed with last year's tree hunt...which came complete with a little-known aspect of the tradition wherein both J.J. and I forget - after we search for, argue over, and cut down a tree - that they only take cash or checks. And that the nearest ATM is about 15 minutes away.


No problem, baby. That's my job.

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