Saturday, December 6, 2008

the creation of gingerbread men

Soooo, on Tuesday at lunch with my bestest lunch buddies at "M" school, Julie and Laura, they asked how the party preparation was going.  I said very well but was wondering if I needed some type of decoration for the food tables.  (Last year I had items from our home that dove tailed right in to the theme, added to what I borrowed from my ever present Visiting Teachers).
Miss Jules, as I affectionately call her, the family and consumer science educator, said, "I have five minutes to whip something up."
Did she ever make a creation: she cut a gingerbread man out of paper, stuffed it with a pinch of batting and sewed his innards up tight with white thread.  Darling!  And done before the bell.
Whoo boy, did my unsuspecting hubbie and I have our work cut out for us.  At the end of the school day, I went to our local grocery store.  Ah, the blessings of being a teacher.  Almost all the baggers know you.  Sometimes I dread that...I can't dash off to the store looking like a grub.Well, I prefer not to.  
On this excursion, I was greeted with, "Hi, Mrs. Roberts!  What can I do for you?"  (Anything to get out of bagging.  Not really...these are all great kids.)  I went home with 104 large paper grocery bags.  I traced the pattern...until the clock struck midnight.  Mr. R cut the patterns out of the bags until ...2:00 am.  Thank you, honey!!!    

Early Wednesday morning, I ran (ha, with my knee, I am using that term loosely) the box of paired, front and backs, across the school parking lot that separates the two middle schools and laid them on Jules desk with a big note saying, "Thanks!"
After school I went over to her building, thinking, hoping, wishing, praying some might have been sewn.  No. However, my two lunch buddies, plus Miss Jane, were more than willing to help for awhile. How fun!
The birthday Mama Jane, me, Miss Jules and Miss Laura.
We stuffed their bodies and sewed away.  Jane was a 4-H Ohio State Sewing Champ--a stroke of luck!  (However, she must have never entered the food competition because we found out later that evening she does not know how to bake.)  Of course Julie could whip that paper bag pattern into a gingerbread man in a manner of minutes.  Laura did really well, too!  Me? Ahem. Just coughing there.  Let's say for me perhaps stars with straight lines may have been a better beginners project than these round, curvy lines.  Two elves sewed with white thread; two with green; and, I sewed with red thread until it ran out and then also switched to white.  Yes, there were five seamstresses in all. Student Seamstress, Miss Nikki, took the photo as I never show a students face.  She loves to go in Mrs V's home-ec room everyday after school and work on a project, so she helped out, too.  Thanks, crew!  
Julie had a big homework assignment due (as often as I said "gingerbread men" she said "homework") as she is working on her masters degree.  Laura needed to get home to her family.  And then we realized it was Jane's birthday!  Poor Jane needed to bake 11 dozen cookies for her son's preschool.  He attends a private church preschool and they were going to box all the donated, required to be homemade, cookies together Thursday morning to sell for a fundraiser.  Jane had not inked her name on a line on the sign up sheet to supply cookies; however, a persistent committee member had called her and said they noticed she had not yet signed up.  Oh, the pressure starts young!  Julie told Jane to make and bake her cookies at school; ten ovens and cookie sheets sure bake the cookies faster than one dozen, one cookie sheet, at a time at home.  
Oh yes, I shall never put in print what we scavenged for a snack, let it suffice that it hit the spot! I was going to have some food delivered but Laura left, Jane's family was taking her out to birthday dinner and Julie went into the gym to work at the wrestling tournament.  Food being delivered just wasn't in the mix. 
While Jane started to mix her cookie ingredients I needed to leave for twenty minutes to drop off something for someone for the church party.  Lest you forget why I ended up spending eight total hours sewing pesky, err, I mean, jolly gingerbread men; the church Christmas party.
When I returned to school, I looked in Jane's cookie dough bowl.  Blech.  Not looking good. Jane is a math teacher, surely she had measured the ingredients correctly to double the recipe. Um, yes she had done that but she had NOT read the directions.  Jane just measured and dumped ALL the ingredients into one bowl.  She was floored that she was supposed to cream the butter and sugar together first, etc.  Oh my.  Jane washed and used her hands to knead and coax the ingredients to adhere together. She was all alone, it was her birthday and this coerced cookie baking activity was not going well.  My gingerbread men could wait.  Jane needed help, her cookies were "due" the next morning and it was her birthday.  I started rolling balls of dough with my hands and it really sped up the process.  I asked Jane in which oven to put the freshly made bits of sawdust (I mean cookie dough) to bake.  Let's just say that we are l-u-c-k-y the building wasn't evacuated as smoke began pouring out of the oven.  I asked her what in the world had happened.  Jane calmly stated that while she was baking the previous batch a few cookies had rolled off the baking sheet (and were now turning into charred bits on the oven floor).  I looked at her incredulously.
Jane said, "I didn't know they would burn."
Soon after, her husband and four young boys burst through the door, bringing renewed energy to the room and a birthday gift for their mama.  Her boys were so helpful and polite!  And, they got to draw on the chalkboard.  With the newly formed cookie brigade, Jane finished fairly quickly and they departed for her dinner festivities.

I continued to sew.  Alone.  For hours.  On end.  The good news?  Practice really does make near perfect.  Wow; I really got good!
Miss Jules was tired after the wrestling tournament finished so we called it a night.  She did not finish her homework.  I did not finish the gingerbread men.
On Thursday, I zipped over to their school and furiously sewed during my lunch; Jane helped, too!  Yes, she got her cookies to her son's preschool.  I believe he is still enrolled; they can't kick him out for his mama not being a good baker.  It is a Christian preschool. 

I returned at the end of the school day (you could still smell the burnt cookies) and after sewing alone for a few hours because Julie was working on her homework, I finished!  I also stayed an hour and a half and helped Jules finish her homework assignment for her class; it was the least I could do to show my gratitude!  
Everyone helping each other out makes for such way good days! 

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