Thursday, May 24, 2012

I Won the Legoland Lottery

Joshua, Alex, and Amanda's class went on a field trip to Legoland last Friday. They needed one extra mom to go on the trip with them. So, what's the best way to pick that mom?

Put all the mom's names (that said they could go) in an envelope and pick one out.

And who was the winner?

Yesiree Bob......It was me!

Now that is a great thing considering my kids still want me to hang out with them. In first grade it's cool to have your mom with. Also, last fall Alex was crying because I had never gone on a field trip with her but I had been on a couple for Isaac.

I learned that when on a bus with 22 - 1st graders and 27 - 2nd graders, the noise is at a level that I am just not accustomed to. Even Amanda told me it was way too noisy. Also, be prepared to experience some unpleasant smells.

For some reason, even though I have had 4 kids following me around for many years now, I often get nervous when given other people's children to be in charge of. Why do they think I am responsible enough to keep track of 6 First graders.....even if 3 of them are mine. Thankfully they were very good and they stuck to me like glue. Even my own kids did, which NEVER happens!

Here are the six children that I had the pleasure of spending the day with.

Sorry for the bad quality of pictures. Ever since I've had my new computer I haven't had a good way to download my pictures to my blog. I might have to break down and do it the way I used to. Just another one of those things to add to my list to figure out.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Date Nights

Since Brad went back to working the day shift the beginning of April we have been able to reinstate Date Nights with the kids. Brad told the girls in February that as soon as he was on days he wanted to take them each out separately for dinner.

When asked where they wanted to go, I think they both chose McDonald's. They obviously have expensive taste just like their mom. Brad told them he was thinking somewhere NOT fast food.

Amanda chose Texas Roadhouse and Alex chose Chili's. They both were very excited on the day of their date and came home wanting me to help them pick out a dress and do their hair. When Amanda came home she told me that it was such a fun night and she didn't want it to end. Brad asked me if that is how I felt when I was dating him.  I told him I still feel that way every day I'm with him. I don't think he was buying it!

Anyway, I can't tell you much more about their dates because I wasn't there. Just that they had a great time, the girls had big smiles before they left and when they came home and I was told that Daddy was quite the gentleman.

I, on the other hand, had the pleasure of spending my date nights with two of the most handsome little boys I know.  My first date was with Isaac. If any of you know Isaac and how he likes to dress, you know that he pretty much likes to wear comfy shorts/pants along with the most comfortable t-shirt he can find. Which means it usually has lots of stains, the shirt is usually navy and so are his shorts/pants. Not on date night. He wanted to wear his favorite "nice" shirt along with a pair of jeans that had no holes in them. We went bowling and then for ice cream at Dairy Queen. We had a lot of fun bowling, except for when he wasn't taking it that well that I was beating him. Since the bumpers were up it was kind of hard to just throw the ball in the gutter. I did try to aim for the side but ended up bowling my best game ever and even had a Turkey.  We had a lot of laughs and I love chatting with my "baby".

Joshua and I also went bowling but then hit Culver's for some ice cream afterwards. It still amazes me how completely different my kids are and especially Joshua and Isaac. While Isaac talks my ear off, Joshua is perfectly content to just spend time with me and not talk. In between his turn bowling he was often watching the Sox/Cubs game that was playing on the TV. Joshua says that he did beat me one game and he kind of did. We paid by the hour, so that means it just shuts off the lane when your time is up. He had finished bowling his 9th frame and I was in the middle of the 9th frame when it shut off so my score wasn't added yet. So the numbers on the board at the time were higher than mine.

If you don't do date nights with your kids, I recommend starting them. The joy and excitement of your kids when they get to enjoy a little one on one time with you is priceless. When you have multiple children they are always competing for attention, they love a little time of you just focusing on them. We try to give them a couple options of things to do so that they get to pick something they enjoy. We also like to switch it up by alternating between each child getting a turn with mom and dad and we also do group dates like Girls and Mom or Boys and Dad and then we like to throw in a big family date as well.

It doesn't have to be anything expensive. We've done big dates like Bulls games and Disney on Ice but we've also done small cheap dates that cost little to nothing. We've gone to the store and walked around the toy aisle, gone to Best Buy and checked out the video gaming systems and played them. We've gone to the park, gone to McDonald's for breakfast, ice cream, miniature golfing. You could even do something as simple as a walk around the block or going in a different room and just playing a game with one child and not letting anyone interrupt that time.

I often find coupons to make it even cheaper. Our bowling dates I had coupons for an hour of free bowling, so all we had to pay for was shoes. Take them out to eat on a Kids Eat Free night. Get creative and have fun but most of all just enjoy a little time with your children. Your children will treasure the memories for years to come and just like my children do.....they will be asking whose turn is next and where do they get to go!

Do you do date nights? If so, where do you like to go?

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

It's Finally Out

Alex's first tooth has finally come out. It's true she has had 2 others come out but they had to be pulled by the dentist.

She was so excited to have one finally come out the natural way. And by natural way I mean that I pulled it. Once I pulled it out, I'm not so sure she liked it.

The second one has been hanging there but I think she is scared to have me pull it out. Any day now!

Of course, you all know that we have a really bad tooth fairy. Her track record is not so good. She is definitely consistent in her forgetfulness and her absentmindedness struck again.

I felt so bad. She came wandering into my room that morning and told me that the tooth fairy didn't come. I tried to play it off that maybe the money fell and was plotting a way to go grab a dollar and start searching and then magically find it. But Alex pointed out that the tooth was still there.

Thankfully the tooth fairy remembered on night 2.

Monday, May 14, 2012

My Favorite Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe

I've often been asked for my Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe and I have to admit.....I've tried many over the years and this one is by far my favorite. I have an issue with always trying to find one that is better but I have to control myself and just make this one because it really is good. Now, I must warn, I wouldn't vary from this recipe at all. Anytime I switch it up a little it just doesn't end up as good.

Honestly, the cookies in the picture above are ones that I made a couple weeks ago and I used margarine instead of butter and they just didn't turn out as good. They were crunchier/crispier.... whatever you want to call it. My husband even asked why they were different. So, I guess if you like a crunchy cookie go ahead and use margarine but I like my cookie a little softer and chewier.

So, here is exactly what I do. I always use my Kitchen Aid Mixer and just keep it running as I add the ingredients. It makes the cookie dough really soft and fluffy. Yep, fluffy cookie dough is the way you want it.


1 c. white sugar
1 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. no salt butter
1/2 c. Crisco
3/4 c. vegetable oil

Cream together in mixer until very light and smooth.

1 egg
1 T. milk
1 tsp. cream of tartar
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. baking soda
3 3/4 c. flour
12 oz. pkg. chocolate chips

Mix all ingredients except chocolate chips in the mixer. Remember, light and fluffy! Stir in chocolate chips. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes.

Let cool and then try to only eat one. It's hard!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Catching Up With the Kids

A couple weeks ago, Alexandra, Amanda, and Joshua were in a musical at school called E-I E-I Oops. 

They performed it 3 times. Once in the evening, then again for the school, and then a third time for Grandparents Day.

I was able to get a picture of all three together during their performance.......along with the back of a bunch of heads.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Granola Bars - Quick, Easy, and Delicious!

I found this recipe on Pinterest. I know, you are surprise because I rarely ever make anything from Pinterest.

This recipe falls under all the categories that I love about recipes. It is quick. It is easy. And soooooo delicious. Plus I always love a recipe that I can add a little creativity.

After you try these you won't want to go back to the prepackaged Quaker Oats granola bars.


  • 4 Tbsp. (1/2 cup) Unsalted Butter
  • 1/4 packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 cups plain granola
  • 1 cup Rice Krispies cereal
  • Mix-ins or Chocolate Chips (I will explain later)
  1. Line 2 - 9x5 loaf pans or an 11x7 pan with foil. Lightly spray the foil.
  2. Combine butter, brown sugar and honey in large saucepan over medium heat. Stir until the butter is melted.
  3. Bring the mixture to a boil, then lower to medium-low heat and simmer until brown sugar is dissolved, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat.
  4. Fold the granola and cereal into sauce and stir until evenly coated.
  5. Now is when you get to be creative. You can spread the mixture into the pans and press firmly with a spatula to fill evenly. You can then sprinkle Chocolate chips, peanut butter chips, and kind of chips over your granola and firmly press down. I also like to mix craisins in and then spread in pan and top with White Chocolate Chips. You could also mix in raisins. Marshmallows and Chocolate chips would be good too. Whatever you think would be good in your granola bar.
  6. Let sit at room temperature for 20 minutes. Lift out of pan and cut into bars.
As for the granola, I use the granola cereal from Aldi. I did try making my own homemade granola once but it just didn't stick together well. If you have problems with your bars not sticking together well, you can try increasing the brown sugar up to 1/2 cup.

Here are some more tips on making these.

Or if you follow me on Pinterest, you can find them there as well.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Amazing Cake

During my computer issues I was busy baking and taking pictures of some of the delicious things I've been making. So, I might have a run of some recipes over the next couple weeks.

If you are a friend of mine on Facebook, you may have seen me post about a really AMAZING cake that I made! I brought half the cake to work one day and they were all raving about it. Now...... I have to say I had made a Strawberry Cake on Easter and there are things that I like about both cakes and things I didn't like about both cakes.

The cake I made on Easter was a little dry but the Strawberry Buttercream Frosting was delicious.

This cake was so delicious that when I leveled it I couldn't throw the extra in the garbage. First I ate half of it and then I put the rest in a container. Of course, I never got another bite because my family devoured the rest.

The only thing I didn't really like was the Strawberry jam in the cream cheese frosting. No one else complained and they couldn't get enough of it. So I guess the jam thing was just me. I might actually try making this cake again but using the Buttercream Frosting from the other cake or just omitting the jam in the frosting.

Vanilla Cake with Strawberry Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 2 8-oz packages of cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup seedless strawberry jam
  • 3/4 cup chilled heavy whipping cream
  • 3 cups cake flour (I use All Purpose)
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 7 large eggs
  • 2 TBSP vanilla extract
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 6 TBSP plus 1/3 cup seedless strawberry jam
  • 2 1/4 lbs strawberries, hulled, sliced (about 6 cups), divided (I ended up using a little under 2 lbs)
Put a small/medium bowl in the freezer to chill. In a separate large mixing bowl, beat cream cheese and butter until smooth. Beat in sugar, then jam. Remove that chilled bowl from the freezer and beat cream in that chilled bowl until peaks form. Fold whipped cream into frosting. Cover; chill for a couple of hours until it’s firm enough to spread. (I actually chilled overnight and assembled the next day.)

Preheat the oven to 325. Butter and flour two 9-inch cake pans with 2-inch high sides. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. Beat in vanilla. Add sour cream, and beat for 30 seconds. Add flour mixture in three additions, beating to blend after each addition. Divide batter into prepared pans.

Bake cake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 50-60 minutes. Remove from oven and cool for 10 minutes. Run a sharp knife around the edges of the pans, then turn cakes out onto a rack to cool completely.

If your cake is a little rounded on the top, level the top of the cake. Then divide each cake in half horizontally. Place one half on a cake plate.

Spread 3 TBSP of strawberry jam over the cake, then spread 3/4 c of the frosting over the jam. Arrange 3/4 c of the sliced strawberries on top of the frosting in a single layer. Repeat two more times with cake layer, jam, frosting, and strawberries.

Top with remaining cake layer, cut side down. Spread two cups of frosting over the top and sides of the cake in a thin layer, then frost with remaining frosting. Stir remaining jam to loosen, then spoon teaspoonfuls onto the top and sides of the cake. Use the back of a spoon to swirl jam decoratively into the frosting. I actually omitted this last step of swirling the jam.

After you're done it is time to enjoy a nice big piece and all the compliments you will get from everyone!