8 Little Arrows in my Quiver

Reflections and Ramblings of a Happily Harried Mom of Many

Getting Out Christmas Aggression: Peppermint Snowballs December 10, 2010

Filed under: Advent and Christmas,Recipes — 8littlearrows @ 4:03 pm

I have a two-year-old.  She can be very challenging, and very aggressive when she doesn’t get what she wants.  Sometimes I’m at my wit’s end trying to channel all her passion before it erupts (usually on one of her brothers).  And, let’s face it — sometimes, as a mother of eight, I have a little extra aggression I need to get out, too!  However, I’ve found at least one activity for Advent  that fits the bill for both of us: making peppermint snowballs.

I must preface this reflection by admitting that I am a glutton for good things, as evidenced by the myriad of Advent traditions practiced in our home (more still to come, so stay tuned).  We have so many because I like them all so much I don’t want to choose between them.  It’s the same way for me with Christmas cookies.  I love to bake, and have found so many yummy recipes (each person in the house having a different favorite, of course) that I tend to be an “Extreme” baker during Advent as well.

I used to be somewhat of a perfectionist about my Christmas cookies, but once I had kids who were old enough to want to help, I realized that I was going to have to let that go.  After all, I didn’t want to turn into a Christmas grouch.  So now I try to let them help as much as possible.  And so, without further ado, here is our aggression tamer …

PEPPERMINT SNOWBALLS

Ingredients: 1 bag chocolate sandwich cookies (I use regular Oreos)

 1 8oz. package cream cheese, softened

1 bag white chocolate baking chips (about 11oz.)

1 Tbsp shortening

1 Cup crushed peppermint candy (I prefer the starlight mints, but you can use candy canes, too) 

Several gallon-sized freezer bags

Begin by opening the Oreos and letting your two-year old put all of them in a freezer bag.  Most two-year-olds will do it one by one, so this is good for a few minutes of peace, at least.  However, you will need to make sure they’re actually putting them in the bag without taking bites first, especially if you plan on sharing the cookies!

Next, close the freezer bag, squeezing most of the air out.  Then present it to your four-year-old along with a rolling pin/pastry roller and tell them to beat it up!  All the Oreos must be crushed!  The two-year-old and six-year-old will definitely want in on this activity, too, so you might want to make two batches, or try to convince them to take turns.  I opt for the two batches; after all, this is supposed to decrease stress!  While this is going on, I turn on my toaster oven and place the cream cheese on top in its foil package to soften. 

My two-year-old, beating up the Oreos

Next, put the softened cream cheese into the bag and seal.  Give to the kids by turns and have them mush it all together with the Oreos.  The warmth of their hands will help soften it more, too.  The more hands, the merrier, as it must be thoroughly mixed. 

I haven’t found a great way to crush the candy yet.  I’m not sure if a food processor would do it or not, but I don’t have one anyway, so I put the unopened bag of starlight mints into a freezer bag and pound it with the flat side of my meat tenderizer.  The candy is so sharp that it tends to puncture the bag, so you’ll have to put another bag around it when it does.  If I’m having a particularly stressful day, I also take the sealed freezer bag and whack it against the nearest countertop, which serves the same purpose and makes my kids laugh at me!  Once it’s all crushed I open the bag and take out all the wrappers, which tend to cluster near the top surface.

Use a cookie scoop or teaspoon to scoop out the Oreo mixture and form into 1 1/2 inch balls.  Place them on a piece of waxed paper.  In a heavy nonstick saucepan, or double-boiler, melt the white chips and the tbsp. of shortening.  As soon as they are fully melted, remove from the heat and stir in the candy pieces.  Immediately dip the balls into the chocolate until coated, and set them back on the paper.  The older kids like to help with this part.

These can be frozen or just kept cold.  I sometimes make them weeks ahead of time and put them in a cookie tin in my garage, where it’s nice and cold, since I’m a little short on freezer space.   Just make sure they have hardened first. If I’m in a hurry, I put them on a cookie sheet and put them out in my garage on the hood of the car to harden more quickly. In the meantime, the kids enjoy licking the utensils, scraping the leftover chocolate out of the pan, and eating the hardened candy scraps off the waxed paper.  Mission accomplished. 

My six-year-old putting the finished product on a platter, so he can eat the scraps off the waxed paper

I would not recommend trying to blog about it immediately afterwards because, chances are, the baby will wake up and want to be fed, the two-year-old will again be at the throat of the four-year-old, and the six- and eight-year-olds will be bickering over the legos again, and before you know it, you’ll need to find another outlet for their (and your) aggression!

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4 Responses to “Getting Out Christmas Aggression: Peppermint Snowballs”

  1. Andrea, That is one of the reasons I wanted to blog, to let other moms out there know that they are not alone, and that most people are not only what they appear to be in public. If you want to know what someone is really like, ask their kids! 🙂 My kids do usually behave fairly well at Mass, but not without a lot of intentional training early on. We actually have not been to daily Mass in quite some time, simply because it’s been tough to get everyone there lately. Keep in mind, too, that several of my kids are now old enough to help the smaller ones during Mass, so it’s become a lot easier. We decided early on that we didn’t want to take shifts for Mass unless the kids were sick, but that we would fight through taking all the kids and getting them used to being there and being well-behaved, even if it meant spending most of the Mass in the back of the church. We would take the kids out at the smallest disruption and would do so repeatedly until they understood what was expected of them. Believe me, for years, I could not have told you what the readings were, or what Fr. preached about. I just had to trust that the Lord knew my intentions and that I was receiving grace even though it didn’t feel like it. I still spend part of almost every Mass in the back with the baby, or taking someone to the bathroom. Also, your Mom is such a sweetheart that I’m sure she painted a more glowing picture than she actually saw. That’s been another blessing for us — we have always felt supported by the other parishioners here, both in our openness to life, and in the little disruptions that inevitably occurred at Mass. I never felt like they were judgmental, and so many of them would build me up and encourage me on days when I felt like the kids were terribly behaved. So, in short, yes, there is hope for you! It’s not easy, but with God at center, and lots of grace, it is possible to stay (mostly) sane! Blessings to you and your family. Thanks so much for your feedback. It encourages me to keep going!

  2. andrea bouvier Says:

    Dear Colleen,
    I am the above-mentioned sister with 5 daughters. First, can I say one thing? I am SO relieved that you, Colleen, face the same stress as do I. You have 3 more kiddos than do I, which lent to the fantasy I had about you in my head…that you are this iconic woman, stoic, strong, above the anger and selfishness that the rest of us are. This idea I developed of you is based on how my mother would tell me how well-behaved your large family is when at daily Mass. Daily Mass?! I have to do spilt shifts w/ my husband to go to Mass on Sunday, forget daily…and we don’t even take all 5 of them. So frankly, in my eyes, you have been this saint. I think you are, really. I want that, too, but to read on your blog and in your husband’s book that you have the same issues and struggles as do I, well, I feel like there’s hope for me (and my husband). I listen to you sing, see you on EWTN Chaplet of Divine Mercy, hear about how you homeschool your children and that with 8 kids at home, you remain open to life still. I am amazed. So, with that all said, I thank you and my sister Lynn for showing me your blog. I am going to implement the homemade manger tradition this week, my husband will build one. Looking forward to reading more about how you do it, how you keep sane…all while God at center. That’s our ambition, too. God Bless.

  3. Great idea, Lynn. Thanks. 🙂

  4. Lynn Toole Says:

    Hi Colleen,
    I just returned from a visit with my 2 sisters who live in AZ. My youngest sister has five girls, 11/2 to 10 years. I will definately give Andrea your blog address as she will definately enjoy hearing how you handle the daily stresses.
    I only had 4 children but one of the first things I learned from more experienced parents was to, “chanel their energy”. This takes as much creativity as anything else but often you need to be spontaneous. I came up with something while I was there in AZ to help them share and not fight over swings and other outdoor gymset type items. I’ll share it with you:
    The Game of “Stations”- can be played indoors too, if enough space is available, depending upon what you are using to play with.

    Only have 2 or 3 toys or other items but 4 or more want to play with the same thing and are getting out of hand? This solves the issue for a while:

    Identify all of the play items you want to use. Find enough things for each child to have something even if it wasn’t an item they were fighting over. OR you can use a game of tag for one station (providing mom has enough energy) or any other game for 2.
    Direct each child to a “station” by any toy or play item. Give the kids the order of the stations, 1,2,3 4 etc. so they have an idea where to go each time.
    It is now time to “play” so, “go”.
    Allow about 2-3minutes to pass and then say, “switch”. The children then run to the next station, or play item for another 2-3 minutes and then again say, “switch” and so on until all the children had time on each play item or until everyone is satisfied that they had their turn.
    My nieces loved it and wanted to play it over and over.
    It solved the fighting and eventually as they get older they could play it without adult supervision.


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