Chocolate Chip Cheesecake Bars…Balls?

Today I went to a baby shower for 2 moms in our new neighborhood. I decided to bring chocolate chip cheesecake bars. I made these because of a story from when I was pregnant with Blake.

When I was pregnant with Blake we were going to an Octoberfest party. Blake’s a November birthday so you now know I was VERY pregnant with Blake. I was at the stage where the baby wasn’t moving around as much since he was running out of room. When I had one of the cheesecake bars, Blake went crazy and was moving everywhere. At the time, I was on a baby board for other moms due the same Nov. I shared the recipe with some of the moms and they had a similar experience. I then made these again when I was pregnant with Colby. We began lovingly calling them “baby crack”. They may not be the healthiest thing for a mom to eat, but they are super YUMMY and the babies love or hate them, but they are active after you eat them.

So I decided, as I have in the past, to make these to bring to share. But, this time life wasn’t so smooth! First I tried to make them in my mini muffin pan… yeah this did NOT work. they all broke and I think I had maybe 6 that didn’t come out in pieces. I also had enough to make an 8×8 pan, but Colby turned off my timer so they got over baked.

I decided to run out and get more ingredients. So, last night I baked a 2nd batch. This time I slightly under cooked them. When I went to cut and plate them this morning I was like….. oh crap I can not serve these.  Richard and I laughed as we tried to get them out of the pan and the two of us were covered in cheesecake batter.


I dished up enough to take, but they look horrible. I came close to not bringing anything. Then Richard suggested that I mush it all up together and make cheesecake ball, think cake balls, but cheesecake. P1070289

Yummy solution. Ok so they didn’t really look perfect, but they work. I had enough to bring them to the shower and also send the rest to work with Richard tomorrow. Colby decided to try them and loved them so we will leave some home for him as well.

So the moral of today’s story… when life messes with your bars, make balls.


Chocolate Chip Cheesecake Bars— umm balls?

  • 2 rolls chocolate chip cookies
  • 2 (8 oz.) pkg cream cheese softened
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ c. sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  1. line 9×13 greased pan with one roll of cookies, sliced thin to cover entire bottom
  2. combine other 4 ingredients until smooth and spread over cookie layer
  3. cover with second roll also sliced thin
  4. bake @ 375 for 30-40 min
  5. let set for 20 min before cutting


through my camera lens

Look… Deer!

Every house that I have lived in has had wood/conservation land behind it. So when we found the lot that we purchased that has a wooded slope on the backside of our property it was part of the draw to the land.

One thing that we have enjoyed seeing here is deer. In the past I’ve posted about the deer that we have seen in North Park, a county owned park very close to our house. Today I captured some of the deer in our backyard.

We just got home from picking the boys up from school and I walked into the kitchen. I noticed 1 doe in the backyard. As I got closer I noticed that there were actually two… no wait 3. Hey wait there is a buck still in the woods. After the buck walked away a 4th doe walked out the wood too.

This is such a wonderful sight for my sons to see. Nature is beautiful so lets enjoy it!  (These pictures are SOOC, so don’t judge… just enjoy)


Let the Countdown Begin

Image result for hello december

Today is the first day of December. Yes, I know I’ve had my holiday decorations up for weeks now, but this is the official start. Today is the day you start the advent calendar, the Christmas countdowns and the memories. My boys look forward to this day every year.

Over the years we have done a variety of different Christmas countdown activities. Image result for christmas countdownWhen my boys were younger we wrapped Christmas books and read a different Christmas story each day. As they have gotten older and the books they enjoy get much longer, we have since ended this tradition.  The last few years we have purchased Lego Christmas countdowns. They started the Star Wars Lego Advent Calendar this morning.

One tradition we have had for years is our Countdown to Christmas magnets. Each year they decide if they are putting the cookie magnets on the cookie sheet or taking them off. This year Colby got to do the first magnet and he decided to take one off each day, so we see there are 24 days left.

Another tradition we have done the last few years is videos from the Portable North Pole. This is the coolest thing ever. Each year the PNP puts out both free and paid for videos. Santa talks directly to your child. My sons love these videos and are excited to see what part of the North Pole Santa will show each year. (I send Richard an adult video each year too. )

I love to see the excitement in my sons as we get closer to Christmas. Knowing they will have time off school.  Knowing they want to spend time together doing holiday things. So today I smile, because it’s …Image result for december word art


When November ends…

There is something special about the last day of the month. It’s a time to look back and remember. A time to look forward and predict. Yes, its one day like every other day, but is it?

As the boys get older its harder and harder to look back on the little moments of life. I felt like when they were young there were so many little memories made each day. Now there is day to day life each day and the memories are bigger moments. But, each month allows me to look back and see our relationship changes.

We have lived in PA for almost 6 months now. It is beginning to feel like home. This month found both boys sick. But, it also found us on the ice skating rink, bike riding, playing with friends and going to the movies. We traveled back to FL to celebrate Richard’s grandmother’s life and so much more

6 months will seem like a drop in the bucket when we look back on this year. But, for now I will try to cherish every moment. The good, the bad and the ugly.

Bring on December I’m ready for more holiday fun.


I can’t fix, but I can guide

As a mother, it is hard to see your child hurting. It doesn’t matter if this hurt is physical, emotional or other. As a parent we want to “fix” what is wrong, but this isn’t always possible. We also need to learn that the best way to fix things is to do nothing. Well not nothing nothing, but nothing. We need to be there when they want to talk. We need to support and give advice. But, we can’t fix things for them, they need to learn to do this on their own.

The older my sons get the more I realize that the best parenting moves involve me giving suggestions and then backing up. We need to let them figure things out on their own. I will never be a helicopter parent. I won’t do that disservice to my sons. I’m not saying that there aren’t times when I step in, but these are fewer and fewer. I want my sons to know that I’m there for them, but that I trust them to stand on their own two feet.

So, I will keep listening. I will keep discussing. I will send them to their father for help. I will guide, but I will not fix… they can do that themselves.


Wonder Movie

Yesterday the boys had the day off as their lasts day of Thanksgiving break. We decided it would be a good day to go see Wonder. They have both read the book and were looking forward to the movie.

We all agree that the book was much better than the movie, they always are! But, the movie was really good. (If you haven’t seen it, you may want to bring tissues). It did a good job at projecting the message of the book. It showed how the children moved from seeing Auggie as a person with a facial deformity to seeing Auggie as a person.

We as a society need to do a better job at looking at people for who they are and not what they look like. I have found in my years as a teacher that young children are really good at seeing people as people. It is as the years go on and they see how adults react to situations that changes how the older children react to people.

I find myself dealing with this with my own sons. Its hard not to get into the “don’t stare, don’t as questions” mode. I often wonder if we as a society wouldn’t be better off if we’d just speak openly about differences with children instead of trying to teach them to look the other way. Children are naturally curious. Why not say Oh that person just has a scar. Oh that person lost their leg.

If we made less of a deal over the differences wouldn’t the differences mean less?

Have you read the Wonder books? Have you seen the movie? What do you think we can do to help society change to acceptance?


What is normal?

Back to normal? So often you hear people talking about wanting life to get back to “normal”. I know I have said this so many times in my life. When the kids are sick, when we have been off schedule for a while, and when life decides it was time for a curve ball.

But, I often wonder… what is normal? Why do we search for normal? Life isn’t the same day after day, it can’t be because every day is a new day. Yes, there are things in life that are routine and are similar each day, but does that make it normal?

Is my normal the same as another persons normal? I’m not even sure my perception of normal is the the same as Richard’s perception of normal. I know it isn’t the same as the boys.

So why is it that we search for this elusive normal? Why do we feel the need to be different than we are at this moment? What makes the way things were in the past better than they are at this moment? Why can’t we be happy with the way things are now or will be in the future?

I know there are things I wish for, but I think it is more calm moments than “normal”. So as the boys head back to school and their weekly routines, I enjoy my “normal” for today and am learning to accept that this isn’t the same as my normal of yesterday or tomorrow.


Blake’s room

I have been slowly working my way around the house finishing room by room. I painted both of the boys rooms before we moved into the house. I had finished Colby’s room first since we had most of his decorations from our FL home and he got the last few things we needed for his room on his birthday back in June.

Blake’s room we also did in the same theme he picked for his room back in FL. His room has a patriotic theme. Some of the decorations he had in FL didn’t make the trip with us, ie posters that didn’t survive being in his room. He also had a few small walls in FL, but only big walls here so we had to replace a few things.

We decided to add a sports flair into his room this time since he is a huge sports fan. My parents got him the 4 canvas pictures next to his bed which combines USA and sports. What could be better? His quote is also from Vince Lombardi which adds to the sports tie-in.

His room now feels finished, I still need something for over his bed, but that will come when I find the perfect item. Until then it at least feels finished. So here is Blake’s room…


Cream of Chicken and Rice Soup

Now that I don’t live in Florida anymore I need to start making more soups. My children don’t appreciate a good soup since they grew up in Orlando, and you don’t need to eat soup often when the coldest part of winter may have a low in the 30s.

When I was in grad school, one of my professors had everyone to her house to present projects and she made soups. We had the most delicous cream of chicken and wild rice soup. I have the recipe for this and have made it before. The problem with this recipe is it is made with 2 or 3 cans of cream soups. I’m trying to eat on the healthier side. I’m an all things in moderation person, but knowing that I’m the one who will eat the majority of the soup, I wanted something that didn’t involve that many canned cream soup bases.

So a searching I’m going to find the perfect cream of chicken and wild rice soup. Now I will tell you the at the original recipe used ground chicken and the recipe that I made this time used shredded chicken, so that in itself is a change.

I decided to try out Taste of Home’s Cream of Chicken and Rice Soup.  My parents were in town, so I had help testing out the flavor and eating the soups.  I made this recipe pretty much as described in the recipe. I did make my own stock with chicken thighs and then used the thigh meat as the meat in the soup.

The soup was pretty bland to start. I added a lot more salt and pepper and about a Tbsp of grill seasoning. Then it was yummy. I will try this again and maybe next time try it with the ground turkey/chicken and see if I like it better that way. I will also add more rice.  (I added shredded cheddar cheese to my bowl after tasting it and then it had a LOT more flavor. But, what doesn’t taste better with cheese?)

Do you make homemade soup? What is your favorite recipe? Have you ever tried to recreate a soup recipe that you like, but wanted to make it healthier? What soup should I try next?



Let me take your picture

I always hated to pose for pictures. It started when I was young and has continued through life. I never think I look good unless it is a picture I don’t expect to be taken.  You know those real life shots where you have a real facial expression because you aren’t posing?

Well since this is the way I’ve always felt, I never really made my kids pose for pictures when they were young. Yes, we have the obligatory first day of school and Halloween pictures. But, for the most part all the pictures I have of the boys are of them doing something. And, I have a TON of pictures of them over the years.

Whenever I try to take a posed picture of them I get those I hate this, why are you taking my picture, are we done yet looks.

Today for example, we went to celebrate Christmas with my family since my brother lives 2.5 hrs away and my parents were up we decided to get everyone together for the first time in forever?

So both boys on their own dressed nice and in Christmas colors. I said… lets get a few pictures before we leave.

After fussing over the sun, and the angle and having to stand near each other this is the pictures I got at the front door… yeah not worthy of my time in Photoshop.

Ok lets try inside at the fireplace. Can you pretend to be happy?

Guess not!

Oh well…. I should expect nothing less. Back to action shots for my family.