On Haunted Chocolate Cookie Houses and Saying “Yes”

On Haunted Chocolate Cookie Houses and Saying “Yes”

Yesterday I posted Ellianna’s list of things that make a home a haven:  (If you missed this post click here)

  • Play some games!
  • Make a gingerbread house!
  • Play soccer!
  • Make art together!

Here’s the story behind her comment about the gingerbread house:

We were at Trader Joe’s where Ellianna spotted a “Haunted House Chocolate Cookie Kit.” She said (of course), “Mom, can we get this?” I hesitated at first. We would be bringing more sugar into the house, and a project.

Children at Ellianna’s age have frequent requests for a lot of things. If I said “yes” to all of Ellianna’s asks, we would be penniless, she would subsist on a diet of juice, cookies, mac n’ cheese, and candy, and would never take baths.

The endless onslaught of questions goes something like this:

Child sees something she NEEDS at the store (for example).

“Mom, Can I_______?”

“No honey, I’m sorry we can’t do that today; maybe you could add it to your Christmas list.” Sometimes this is a satisfactory answer, but other times……

(5 minutes later) Mom, Can I PLEASE_____?”


(3 seconds later) “Mom, I REALLY NEED ______!


(another 10 minutes later) Bargaining begins…. “Mom, I PROMISE I’ll listen if we just _________.”


(One hour later after an endless dribble of the above) “Mom, are we going to..?”

An exasperated, desperate, please-make-it-stop, “I’m not going to say it again, NOOOOOOO!”

Under these conditions, it’s easy to get into “No” mode. But sometimes I need to say “YES”.

Because, sometimes, Ellianna really has some great ideas (I mean, who would think to decorate a pumpkin with pink pom poms! Come on, that’s genius.) Her creativity, zest for life and passion really inspire me. She finds great value and fun in activities and play that I’ve long ceased to appreciate. Activities and creativity that we can both find joy in together.

So when Ellianna asked me if we could get the Haunted Chocolate Cookie House Kit, I thought, “Why not?”

(She also got her face painted that day 🙂 )


shannon-making-houseWhen we brought it home, she could not WAIT to start the project. We invited Aunt Shannon over to help that evening. Ellianna loved every minute of it. She said so many cute things I wish I’d written down, things like, “It’s a great day to make a gingerbread house, right Mom?”

The frosting had to set before we could decorate it, so Ellianna went off to bed.

I woke up at 6 am the next morning and thought, “I might as well get a little writing done this morning!” I stumbled downstairs into the kitchen, nearly feeling my way to the coffee pot, and was surprised to find Ellianna, a ray of sunshine in her bright yellow nightgown, sitting at the kitchen table. “Morning Mama! Can we decorate the gingerbread house?” She was so excited and eager, once again I thought, “Why not?” But then, I had to be reasonable. I responded, “Yes, as soon as I make my coffee!”


decoratingSo we decorated the gingerbread house and I found myself squeezing orange and black frosting in decorative swirls at 6 am in the morning. I placed the packaging nearby and said, “We need to look at the picture so we know how to decorate it.” She said, “Oh, I don’t want to decorate it the way they did!” and went on to put her own creative flair to it. She was dedicated to the project, only nibbling on the broken pieces of decorative candy, saving the rest to decorate the house.


As we were decorating, Ellianna, said, “This is the most fun of art, even in pajamas!” and “Mama, thank you soooooo much for getting me the gingerbread house!” Soon, after a fun time of decorating, we had a beautiful haunted house to admire. I coaxed her to wait till Dad got up so he could see it before she started eating it.crumbled-house

Later that day, Andy, Ellianna and I sat down and had a chocolate cookie haunted house mini-feast.

Did we eat a little more sugar than I’d planned? Yes. Did I plan to spend my early morning hours decorating a chocolate cookie house?

No. Did we have a great time as a family? YES!!



This is Ellianna’s definition of a home that’s a haven. Spending time together as a family, having fun together. When I asked her what would make our home a nice place, she did not list new toys, or something for her bedroom, or that she wished our house was tidier. She listed fun activities she enjoys doing together as a family.

As part of my quest to make our home more of a haven, I want to be intentional in spending time doing activities with my children. I want them to remember the things we do together as a family, not that mama was always too busy. So that looks like jumping in a rain puddle (after all, these only happen twice a year in AZ J), painting and making art, playing games, and frosting more chocolate cookie houses.

Join me and ask your kids what would make your home nicer. I’d put money on it that you’ll get a similar response!



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