Valentine’s “Treats” (or “why I stopped baking”)

I stopped baking awhile back. Did I mention that? After the baking bonanza that was the holiday season my gut was full, my Weight Watchers efforts floundering, and my children bored of the whole thing, so I decided to give it up. Excluding Alan’s last-minute-throw-together birthday cake, my oven hasn’t seen anything but wholesome homemade bread since January. I tell you this as a prelude to today’s crazy afternoon.

In a thoughtless moment I volunteered to bake goodies for Lex’s preschool Valentine’s Day party tomorrow. I volunteered a few weeks ago and ever since have been thinking of creative, healthy(ish) treats. I had settled on heart-shaped sugar cookies with diced, dried cranberries. I thought that would be festive and not too over the top sweet. I was happy and eager to bake. Lex has been very happy and excited about this party and in the car yesterday he asked what kind of cookies we would be baking. I told him and, in his very sweet polite voice, he said “but mom, I don’t like sugar cookies.” Crap. I had forgotten that small fact. He suggested chocolate chip cookies, I said I wanted them to be a bit healthier and he so suggested oatmeal raisin cookies. Hmmm…. ok. So I spent a quick 24hrs trying to decide how to make them tasty and festive. We decided to make bar cookies and cut them with heart cookie cutters. Eve and I bought “Cupid M&Ms” and red gummy candies (why? well, because I wanted to eat them!) at the store today. I was planning to bake the M&Ms into the cookies, but Lex said he wanted to put them on top. Ok, umm, I guess we need frosting to make the candies stick. Baking by committee… So we made Vanishing Oatmeal Raisin cookies (tasty recipe under the lid of the oatmeal container) with whole wheat flour and reduced sugar, and I made cream cheese frosting with cauliflower puree (shhh.. don’t let Lex read this!), and I let the kids decorate with candies. We had discussed nice little Xs and Os or small hearts, but they chose to PILE on the candy! Ugh.

While all of this baking was going on, Eve was trying to help, but not really very helpful, and Lex was at the table making Valentine’s Day cards. It seemed like a nice enough afternoon, until it occurred to me that they both ate a fair amount of sugar (sneaking M&Ms here and there) and NO exercise. By the end of the evening Lex was bouncing, BOUNCING around the kitchen, crashing into things, making me crazy. Eve was whining and bouncing. I was feeling ill mentally and physically (so much for WW this week!) and cranky. Fortunately I got control (of myself, anyway) and accepted the fact that their craziness was entirely my fault. We ran around the living room for awhile, did some jumping jacks, somersaults, bear walks, etc. and then went up for bath. Bath went well and things were smooth until it was time to pick out clothes for tomorrow (part of our smooth evening routine that normally goes very well).

Lex currently wears only three shirts. He has 11 (yes, we counted tonight) plus several t-shirts and sweaters/sweatshirts, but will only wear three of them. One is too small and has holes in the arms, so it will be going away soon. This evening his three shirts were all dirty. He had a complete and total meltdown! It was sweet though, for a meltdown, and he just cried and cried about how he couldn’t possibly wear any of those other eight shirts. He even went so far as to say he didn’t want to go to school tomorrow because he wanted to stay home and wait until his shirts were clean. He has been excited about his Valentine’s Day party for a week now and he decided to skip it because he didn’t want to wear a different shirt. Crazy kid! We decided to go to bed instead and discuss in the morning. Later I remembered that I have a load of laundry in the dryer, so I think I’ll let him “find” a shirt in the dryer tomorrow. I really don’t want to fight in the morning and skipping school isn’t really an option, especially since I have the party food!! He fell asleep in my arms, which was sweet, and I apologized to him for sugaring him up and not giving him an outlet to burn it off.

Whew! After all that I came downstairs to face an hour and a half of kitchen clean-up (I also made Alan some awesome, to him, chili today, so there was dinner clean-up too). Alan and I also agreed that the cookies had too much candy on them, so I removed the candy, swirled around the pink and red colors from M&Ms that “melt in your mouth” or on cookies! I had such beautiful cookie treats in my head and these are A FAR CRY from them, but hopefully kids like them. Hopefully. If not, well…. I have a sneaking suspicion that Lex may not actually eat one. He isn’t really a big cookie fan and when I offered him a cookie this evening, before they were decorated, he said “No thank you. I’ll just have one tomorrow.” I’m curious if he actually does. Especially since I made them to his specs!

Tomorrow will be devoted to the kids.

And I now remember why I quit baking.

Cookie bars

Two pans of cookie bars. I should have stopped here.

Cookie bars with frosting

Cookie bars with frosting, though clearly not enough frosting. I was expecting white frosting, but this is more vanilla colored.

Kids decorating cookies

The kids hard at work decorating the cookies.

Cookie scraps

Cookie scraps anyone?

Decorated cookies

Decorated cookies. So much for healthy!

Undecorated cookies

My undecorated version. Not pretty. I hope the kids like them!

Cookie close-ups

Cookie close-ups. I want to be a food photographer. Yes, I know I need more practice!

3 thoughts on “Valentine’s “Treats” (or “why I stopped baking”)

  1. They look super delish to me, and I’m sure no one will mind the “unhealth-iness” everyone looks for a good reason to cheat. I’m enjoying your valentines day posts. The craziness your kids put you through make me smile!

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