Well, I picked myself up from the rubble and gave it another try.
It all started with a well-intentioned purchase of this gingerbread house kit.
My mom saw it on sale while she was visiting us at Thanksgiving and thought it would be something fun for Levi and me to do together. Levi was especially excited because he's been enjoying hearing Hansel and Gretel's story over and over lately.
As with any project I do with him, there's always more work on my part, but that's OK. I still like to give him fun experiences to be a part of. I wasn't prepared for how complicated a project it would be. Levi was ready to jump right in, but clearly, it would take some planning--and a whole day. There was quick-drying frosting to be made, gingerbread pieces to be trimmed, a base to prepare, and a plan to follow. It was supposed to go like this: assemble walls, wait one hour, attach roof, wait two to three hours, start decorating the design chosen by Levi (which involved cutting and rolling out gum drops, and countless swirls and dots quick-drying frosting, all while trying to ensure said frosting does not dry in the bowl or pastry bag).
I put on a happy face. This was going to be fun! A few hours later, while in the second phase of construction, the whole thing collapsed. Rather than fight with it, I decided to take the easy way out. I called John and asked him to pick up some cartons of milk while he was on cafeteria duty that day. We would make smaller, simpler gingerbread houses out of graham crackers and cookie decorating icing, and it would be just as fun.
Finally on Wednesday, Levi and I started in on our houses. I mixed up my favorite cookie decorating icing and got out the graham crackers and milk cartons. I like to put the icing in ketchup-style squeeze bottles rather than pastry bags. With just a little cutting and Levi's help squeezing the icing, we had them constructed. We let them dry a little while and started in on the decorating.
Like any kid making gingerbread houses, Levi was just as interested in eating the ingredients as he was decorating his houses, but it's all part of experience. The smaller houses were more manageable and my icing was easier to work with than the toothpaste-like icing that had come with the kit. Levi decorated three houses and I made one too. We used the candy that came with the kit and some holiday M&Ms.
We have some leftovers so I think Daddy and Levi will make a few more sometime soon. Despite its pitiful start, it turned out to be a fun project, well worth the time. I know this will be a holiday tradition our family will want to continue.