* Wait until the baby is sound asleep, as you will need all hands on deck for this activity.
* Google a recipe that looks appealing. "The Best Rolled Sugar Cookies" sounded promising to me, especially as we just bought some new cookie cutters.
* Gather all of your ingredients, making sure you have enough of everything. I was running low on flour, but eye-balling it, it seemed as though I would have plenty.
* Gather your toddlers, in my case, a 3yo and a 2yo. Wash their hands thoroughly, as you never know what they've might have recently touched.
* Put on some jolly Christmas music to really set the mood. These are memories in the making, folks, so let's add a little Bing Crosby to the background, shall we?
* Deal with pouting 3yo who is upset that you turned off Dora in exchange for aforementioned holiday music. Make mental note to wean her from Noggin.
* In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Now is a good time to pick out the eggshells since the toddlers insisted on helping you crack them.
* Put the remaining eggs back in the fridge to ensure they remain intact until tomorrow's breakfast.
* Turn around and find [sensory-seeking] 2yo with the flour jar, scooping it out with his hands and eating it raw. Pry jar away from him, and offer him some water to wash down the thick paste in his mouth.
* Stir in the flour, baking powder, and salt. This uses up almost all of the flour, with just a little left for rolling. Settle several disputes over who gets to stir the bowl. This is a good exercise in turn-taking, as well as patience (on your part, no such thing in regards to toddlers).
* Feel your heart sink as you read the next line of instructions: Cover, and chill dough for at least one hour (or overnight). How could you not have seen this part before? Resist beating your head against the wall.
* Put on the biggest smile you can muster, and cheerfully explain to the toddlers that you now have to put the dough in the fridge to get cold and how it will take a while.
* Tell 3yo "No, not yet, just a little longer" when asked if it is done. Repeat this step every 2 minutes for the next hour.
* Wash everyone's hands again. Even though it's only been an hour, the 2yo has went to the potty 3x, let the kittens lick his hands, dug the eggshells out of the trash, and who knows what else.
* Preheat oven. Roll out dough on floured surface 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. Dough is still pretty sticky, but instead of chilling it longer as recommended (which would probably cause the children to explode), add a little more flour and hope for the best.
* Sprinkle the now-scarce flour onto the table in front of the toddlers, who are absolutely giddy with excitement at this point. Except the 2yo, who screams because that makes the table "dirty" and frantically starts brushing the flour off. Explain what you are doing, and sprinkle some more in front of him. Watch him sweep that off the table, with lots of tears.
* Third time's the charm as you give him a little more flour. Instead of wiping it away, he starts licking it directly off the table. Quietly back away, and let him do his thing, whatever it may be that floats his boat.
* Cut into shapes with any cookie cutter. We only got to do a few shapes before we officially ran out of flour to roll out the dough. Retire the cookie cutters, much to the disappointment of 3yo, and resort to making drop cookies.
* Please note that apparently, drop cookies aren't near as exciting to make as using the cookie cutters. After about a half a dozen, the toddlers' interest will wane, and it's all downhill from there. Cue whining and LOTS of it!
* Also, it is important to note, that it is at this exact point, when your hands are completely covered in not-chilled-enough dough with not-enough-flour, that the baby will wake up screaming.
* Wash your hands as quickly as possible. While your back is turned, the sticky children will have escaped the kitchen and are now leaving gooey, floury handprints all over the couch.
* Turn off Bing Crosby, which you haven't heard a single note of in the past 30 minutes over all the chaos. Pop in a movie for the kids to watch, while you finish up the "family activity" alone while balancing a fussy baby in the sling.
* Bake 6 to 8 minutes in preheated oven. Preheated? Darn, you knew you were forgetting something, uh? Turn on oven, and sit in the living room, nursing the baby.
* If you are lucky, this will result in a diaper blow-out, in which case you'll need to go change the baby. In the 10 seconds you are fetching the wipes from the bathroom, the toddlers will sneak in the kitchen and eat enough dough to reduce the number of to-be cookies from 5 dozen to 2 dozen.
* Get everyone settled back down and bake the remaining cookies. If your kids have stolen the potholders, frantically look around for something to use as the cookies start turning brown. I found a clean cloth diaper works quite well in a pinch.
* And finally, FINALLY, you may now eat the cookies.
It was at this point that I tried taking a picture of my adorable, angelic children, blissfully eating their cookies with huge grins on their faces, so I could end this blog post with something like "Yeah, it was a lot of trouble, but as you can see, it was all worth it". And while I will still end the post on that note, this was the best picture I could get to accompany it...
As far as the mess? Eh, just clean it tomorrow. By this point, it's after 9pm, and it will be much, much later than that by the time you can settle the kids down from their sugar-high as result of all the dough they ate.