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Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Afternoon Nap

It wasn't until this week that I fully appreciated what a gift the afternoon nap is to parents. Because this week I lost it. Lost a daily two hours of quiet time to do whatever I felt like: read a book, make a nice lunch, clean up around the house, start on dinner, work in the yard, waste time on the computer, take a nap...

And now? Now I am hearing the sounds of Sam throwing books in his room, loud thumps as he jumps from God knows where onto the floor. We are attempting Quiet Time In Our Room from 1-3pm. Aggressive, I know, but he was taking two hour naps and I may as well shoot for the moon.

I'm stuck here, because the baby sleeps from 1:30-4:30pm right now and will not make it until bedtime if I wake her earlier. So I need to get creative with things to do with Sam around the house. Any ideas? He's a great little sous chef, so maybe we'll be cooking for together more.

In the meantime, I need a jolt of sugary caffeine and an attitude check. I need to remember that in two short years he will be in school and I will be missing his smiling face, his eagerly helpful hands, his sturdy warm arms wrapping around my neck, and his wiggly body running and thudding and jumping around the house. These years when my children are home with me will be gone, never to return. So.

So, I need to remember that as I yawn and look at the clock and think how many hours until Scott gets home...

How do single mothers do it?

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


What's the name of this position, do you suppose? Oh to be six month old again and limber.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Balloons and Ice Cream

We took an emergency family outing to Oberweis last week, we all needed ice cream and STAT. It's been an extremely hot and humid August and I am well overdue for my annual "I'M READY FOR FALL" rant...brace yourselves, it's coming.

Charlotte encountered her first balloon at the ice cream store and loved it. Sam enjoyed his very first ice cream cone. Believe it or not, the poor three year old has only eaten ice cream out of a dish with a spoon because his parents were too afraid the ice cream would end up on the sidewalk if he held a cone. We were wrong. It's all over his face instead.

In other news, it's looking like Sam is dropping his afternoon nap. Sigh. It's been a good run, I suppose it's time to introduce "Quiet Time in Our Room." We tell him he can wake up "when there's a 3 on the clock."

He pops out of his room today at 1:03 pm. "There's a 3, Mom!"

"No Sam, the FIRST number has to be a 3."

1:23 pm.

His blonde head sticks out the door. "There's a 3, Mom!"

And so on.

Preschool on Tuesday/Thursday mornings starts in three short weeks, I guess he's ready.

M&M Cookies

It's 95 degrees out and the mosquitoes attack at first sight of human flesh. There's no going outside this morning, now what shall we do during Charlotte's morning nap?

I know! Let's make M&M cookies and bring them to Daddy's office. It was perfect, Sam laboriously put 200 M&M's into a batch of sugar cookies, only consuming 15 along the way. It was a great way to spend the morning.

M&M Cookies
3 & 1/2 cups flour
1 TB. baking powder
2 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. table salt
1 cup butter, softened
2 cups white sugar
2 large eggs
1 TB. light corn syrup
2 1/2 tsp. vanilla

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and soda, and salt. In a mixing bowl, cream the softened butter. Add in sugar, eggs, corn syrup and vanilla. Add the dry ingredients until well blended. Chill one hour. (We only chilled ours 30 min, and you can see how much they spread. I imagine they'd stay more compact if the dough was truly chilled.)

Preheat oven 375. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper. Roll dough into balls about the size of a large walnut. Press flat lightly and push in as many M&M's as possible, the more the better. We used the dark chocolate ones and they were scrumptious. I'd do only six cookies per sheet, bake one sheet at a time on the top rack and rotate it once during baking. These took about 8-10 min or so.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The In-Law's-are-Coming Cake

What do you do when you spontaneously invite your beloved in-law's over for an impromptu supper, realizing all you have in the house are chili and cornbread muffins and your mom-in-law's birthday is days away?

You make this cake. Well, first you put on this soundtrack while you bake, because you'll feel very, how-you-say, french while you throw this fabulous and simple cake together with ingredients you probably have on hand. And pour yourself a glass of wine. Wine helps too.

Simple Vanilla Bean Cake with Brown Butter Glaze
1 & 1/2 cups cake flour
1 & 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. table salt
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. vanilla bean paste (ok, maybe you don't have this in your pantry, but you SHOULD. Williams Sonoma has it.)
1/2 cup whole milk

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray an 8 inch cake pan with Pam. Whisk together the cake flour, baking powder and salt in a small bowl. Beat the butter and sugar together in a mixer until creamy. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Add the vanilla and vanilla bean paste. Gently add in about a third of the dry ingredients, then half the milk, repeat, ending with the dry ingredients. Mix only just until combined, if you over beat it'll be a heavy, tough cake. Bake about 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Invert onto a plate and cool slightly.

Brown Butter Glaze
1/4 cup butter
1 & 1/4 cups powdered sugar
1/3 tsp. salt, more to taste
2 TBs. whole milk
the juice from half a lemon

Whisk together all the ingredients except the butter in a small bowl. Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Watching closely, increase heat until butter is bubbling and suddenly turns brown, it happens quickly so don't take your eyes off it. Lift pan off the heat, swirl the butter until the brown is even, and pour melted butter evenly into the other ingredients. Whisk until smooth and pour over warm cake.

Many thanks to my lovely Aunt Cindy for passing this recipe on, I increased the salt and lemon juice to my own taste and added the vanilla bean paste. it's a favorite of hers and she's never led me astray.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Food, Glorious food!

After three weeks of reaching for food off my plate and fork, Charlotte had her first taste of rice cereal last night. Personally I believe she was massively disappointed, it was a complete letdown. It's almost like her face says, "This? This is what you all spend so much time eating and making?!?" It's like it was all a big trick.

I'm posting "Take 2" because Scott filmed Take 1 and felt the need to add a pretty hilarious commentary that I don't think he'd appreciate being made public. "You go girl! Get on that!" and the like. That and he kept me in the frame.