Happy Father’s Day!

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Kevin and Nick-Nick’s first NHL game

Happy Father’s Day to all of the Dad’s out there! It’s not an easy job, so please know you are appreciated. I was blessed with a great Dad who showed me how to work hard, appreciate what I have, and to always put my family first.

Thank you Kevin for being an amazing Dad and Step-Dad. It’s been an honor to watch you grow as a parent. I know the sacrifices you make everyday so that our kids can have everything they need. From the countless hours on the little league field, to the many loads of laundry, to the many hours of driving…all of the sacrifices are noticed and much appreciated. It’s been an honor to watch you grow into the caring, compassionate, strong parent you have become.

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Kevin and Kenzie-Kenzie’s 8th grade promotion

Chicken And Dumplings

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I’ve been sick, really sick. Over the last few weeks I have battled extreme fatigue and an overall feeling of yuck. Last week everything seemed to come to a head resulting in a compilation of illnesses. I suffered from a respiratory illness, stomach virus, and strep throat…simultaneously. Needless to say I haven’t been very active in the kitchen, but have watched countless hours of the Food Network, The Cooking Channel, and anything else to kill the time and keep my mind off of my misery.

While watching all of this food based television, I was inspired to make a semi-homemade version of my mom’s famous chicken and dumplings. It was just what the doctor ordered, almost as good as my mom’s🙂 I’m usually a little more creative in the kitchen, but this is one of those meals that is best in it’s traditional form.

Chicken and Dumplings
Ingredients:
1 Rotisserie Chicken
1 tbs butter
Celery, Onion, Carrot-to taste
Salt $ Pepper-to taste
2 48oz boxes of Swanson Chicken Broth
1 can cream of chicken soup
2 cups Bisquick
2/3 cup Milk

Directions:
Remove Chicken from bone, cut meat into bite sized pieces
In large pot, add butter, celery, carrot, onion, salt and pepper-sweat vegetables, add chicken, chicken broth.
Bring to a boil
Boil on simmer for 2-3 hours until vegetables are tender
Add Cream of Chicken Soup and stir until dissolved
Combine Bisquick and milk to form soft dough
Drop spoonfuls of dough into boiling soup-cook uncovered for 10 minutes and then covered for 10 minutes

A Girl On A Mission

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Mykenzie is 14, she’s smart, funny, full of life, enjoys dancing, fantasizing about One Direction, driving her parents crazy, and spending time with her friends. She’s my easy button…so far!

She has always been very serious about her academics. She studies hard, puts schoolwork before everything else, and always does her best. She often over stressed about upcoming assignments, standardized tests…she strives for perfection in all that she does. I have no idea where that comes from? She has even been known to cry and worry because she “failed” a test…she only got 99% not 100%!

She will be going to high school next year, and recently received an invitation to join the program that will prepare her for the college of her choice. She will be required to take honors and AP classes, volunteer, and be a part of a very rigorous academic program. I’m confident she is up to the task and will do great. She’s a girl on a mission, she’s bound for success and wants to be a pediatrician someday🙂 I’m so proud of her and all of her accomplishments and look forward to her high school journey, watching her blossom into a young, confident woman, and sharing in the ups and downs that life is going to bring over the next few years.

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End Of An Era

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I have spent the last 12+ years of my life watching my son play baseball. So many weeknights and weekends with the wind blowing, sun shining, snack bar food, etc. I have sat in the bleachers, cheered, made great friends, laughed, shared in his joy of a win or that great play, felt his disappointment with each loss and error, etc.

Last week my son took the field for the last time. It was bittersweet, for all of the times I said “I can’t wait for this season to end”, it was sad to see it actually come to an end. I wasn’t sure how he would react to his final game, after the game he sat at the field for well over an hour contemplating the reality of his final baseball game. When he finally came home we chatted for awhile about what it means when something that has been so important in your life will never be there again. I tried to offer words of wisdom, faith in that the journey ahead will be just as important and life changing, and let him feel the pain. I don’t think I really did much to help him make peace with his reality, but I hope that someday he recognizes that I shared those emotions with him.

Prior to the game, they announced each senior and recognized their family. Here’s the picture his family.

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Celebrations

I feel so blessed that because of technology, the occasional blog update, etc. we are able to share special moments with friends and family even if they live far away. It’s always nice to know when our friends and family on the east coast are celebrating the milestones in life that create memories.

Sometimes pictures, messages, and brief conversations just don’t cut it! This summer, we are honored to have some of our dear friends visit for a week. I’ve been feverishly planning this trip down to the last detail. Yes I know…it’s a disease I have🙂.

Since we never get to celebrate birthday’s or special events with this family, I’m planning a birthday party….for everyone! Here’s what I’m thinking, I will make several birthday cakes (I’m hoping at least a few of us can agree on the same cake/frosting combo), we will have birthday party activities, maybe even balloons, streamers, hats, etc. We will sing happy birthday to all 10 of us, take lots of pictures, and hopefully laugh until our cake filled bellies hurt🙂

What do you think?

Cake!

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Several months ago, a friend of mine announced she was getting married. Being the good friend that I am, I agreed to be her maid of honor and help in anyway I could. Little did I know that helping in anyway I could when involve baking and decorating her wedding cake!

I spent many weekends, late nights and just about every spare moment I had teaching myself to decorate cakes. OMG!! I had a ton of fun, learned a lot of do’s and dont’s and now think I will add cake decorating to my bucket list🙂 I must say, although I thoroughly enjoyed the process, it was super stressful, took a ton of time, and didn’t turn out nearly as beautiful as the visions in my head.

The wedding took place a few weeks ago, everything turned out as well as expected…it was chaos but the bride was happy. The cake received tons of compliments, with several requests for the recipe and even a compliment or two on the decorating. When the guests learned that it was my first cake ever they were gracious and extremely kind with their compliments.

The Bride requested a red velvet cake. I ended up doing a layered cake with one layer being red velvet and another layer being a traditional white cake.

Red Velvet Cake has a special place in my heart. During my childhood, my mom usually made my dad a heart shaped red velvet cake each Valentine’s Day. I was honored to be able to make this same cake as a wedding cake for someone🙂 Here’s the recipe that has been used in my family for as long as I can remember.

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Red Velvet Cake
Ingredients:
2 Cups Flour (I use cake flour)
1 tsp. Baking Powder
1 tsp. Salt
1 tsp. Cocoa
3/4 Cup Vegetable Oil
1 1/2 Cups Sugar
2 Eggs
2 oz. Red Food Coloring
1 Cup Buttermilk
1 tsp. Baking Soda
1 tsp. Vinegar
1 tsp. Vanilla
3/4 Cup Milk
1/2 Cup Sugar

Directions:
In medium bowl sift flour, baking powder, salt and cocoa.

In a separate bowl cream oil, 1 1/2 cups sugar, add eggs one at a time mixing well. Add food coloring, mix well.

In a third bowl combine buttermilk and baking soda. Add to oil and sugar mixture- mix well. Add to dry ingredients. Add vinegar and vanilla.

Bake for 25-30 minutes at 350*

Combine 3/4 cups milk and 1/2 cup sugar in saucepan. Bring to a boil, spoon over each layer before frosting.  I used a cream cheese frosting  which went very well with the White/Red Velvet Cake.

Change

Over the next few months everything in my family as we know it is going to change. I’m trying to embrace all of this and be mindful of how these changes are inevitable and that will simply be a new chapter in our lives. However…I spend many a night on the verge of tears wanting to hold onto this chapter, and especially my kids for dear life.

This May, Haydn will graduate from high school. I have to admit his completion of high school is bittersweet. High School hasn’t been the easiest journey with this particular child. He’s smart, a natural leader, an athlete, and an all around amazing person but didn’t necessarily embrace the high school experience. From the time Haydn could talk he has wanted a few things from life, he was going to be a United States Marine and he was going to the President of the United States.

This June, Haydn will leave home to fulfill his dream of becoming a United States Marine. I’m so proud of him! One of the hardest things I will have to do as a parent is say goodbye, let him go, and trust that I have provided him with the strength, courage, skills, and determination to make his dreams a reality.

Haydn is a fighter. He was born twelve weeks early, weighing 2.3 pounds and fighting for survival. Survival and perseverance are so much a part of him that I know we will be okay. Sure he will have challenges, but I’m confident in his ability and determination to overcome them with the strength which has been a part of him from the beginning.

The emotions that surround this upcoming change are often more than I can handle. While I will be standing taller with pride in the path my first born son has chosen, I will miss him terribly. I will miss our “old soul” conversations, his smile, hearing him play the guitar, laughing at his silly sometimes naive sense of humor, the list goes on and on. Sometimes I still see him as my little boy, mostly I see him as the young man I am proud to call my son. So, while I am sad to see him go and scared of the upcoming change, I am also excited and honored to watch him transform and embark on a new journey.