Family

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Brownies

IMG_2279Last night, in preparation for Halloween, we finally got around to carving up our pumpkins. We typically like to wait until the day before so our creations can be as fresh as possible for the big night.

IMG_2261Now, as if carving two large pumpkins wasn’t enough to do in a night, I decided I wanted to try out a new recipe as well. I guess I thought that it could be something fun to do with Liam while Stephen was busy carving. Yeah, remind me not to do that again.

IMG_2302Liam is typically a big help in the kitchen. He has helped me make cookies, pumpkin pie and other desserts. However, those are all recipes I’ve made before. I don’t even need a recipe in front of me most of the time, so it’s easy to let Liam have fun stirring all the ingredients together. While these brownies are delicious, I think I’m going to have to have another go at it before I allow a toddler to “help” me. I should have just left Liam to assist his dad with the pumpkin carving.

I hope everyone has a fun and safe Halloween this year!

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Pumpkin Cream Cheese Brownies
Adapted from The Chew

Ingredients

  • 1 stick Unsalted Butter
  • 8 oz Semi Sweet Chocolate
  • 1 3/4 cup Flour
  • 1/4 cup Cocoa Powder
  • 1 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1/2 cup Brown Sugar
  • 1/2 cup Granulated Sugar
  • 4 Eggs
  • 1 tbs Vanilla Extract
  • 1 cup Mini Chocolate Chips
  • 1/2 cup Pumpkin
  • 4 oz Cream Cheese (room temperature)
  • 1 tsp Ground Cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp Ground Nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp Ground Ginger

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F and grease a 13 x 9 inch baking dish.
  2. Melt butter and chocolate over a double boiler and set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt.
  4. In a larger bowl. whisk together the eggs, sugars and vanilla.
  5. Dump the flour mixture into the egg mixture and mix until just combined.
  6. Fold in the melted chocolate and butter. Gently fold in the mini chocolate chips.
  7. In another bowl, whip the pumpkin, cream cheese and spices together.
  8. Pour the brownie batter into the prepared baking dish and use a spatula to create an even layer in the pan.
  9. Dollop the pumpkin mixture in 4 to 6 places on the brownie. Take a butter knife and carefully swirl the pumpkin mixture throughout the brownie batter.
  10. Bake for 25-30 minutes until a toothpick inserted comes out dry. Cool for 15 minutes.

Happy 4th!

I hope everyone had as nice of an Independence Day as we did. We spent the day with Stephen’s family on the Potomac River. The only cloud on the day was that Liam had no desire to be anywhere near the beach. Each time we put him down he would scream. Instead, he played on the grass by the river while Stephen enjoyed swimming in the river.

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Fountain!

To say that Liam is a little obsessed with fountains is probably an understatement. Most toddlers are interested in cars or trains. Not my son. All he cares about is when he will get to see a fountain. And to be fair, it is practically impossible to go anywhere in our area without going by at least one. Thankfully, this obsession was restrained to when we were in the car. But it has slowly crept it’s way into the house.

Not only do we want to see fountains (or water falls) all the time, but Liam also loves to make fountains out of his blocks. Then, he likes to drive the cars around them. Then Liam discovered the faucet. It wouldn’t be so bad if the kid didn’t want the faucet on 24/7. I mean I can only waste so much water in the name of fun before I start to feel bad about the environment (and my wallet for next month’s water bill). But this morning I caved and allowed him to play with the faucet for a good 30 minutes. He was happy and quiet. And really that’s all that matters, isn’t it?

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A Day Late

Yesterday was my dad’s birthday. I had every intention of writing this post then, but I found that it was just too difficult. It would have been his 72nd birthday. He was young by today’s standards. I can remember going up to Michigan to celebrate his 70th birthday and thinking that it was amazing that he had made it that far. Now, I wish that he would have made it farther.

I often joked with my mom that he was a cyborg; I thought that he would never pass away. Throughout the years of abuse that he put his body through, there were plenty of times that he put himself in harm’s way. But my dad was a fighter. And he fought right down to the end.

Yesterday was a difficult day. I should have been spending the day with him. His daycare center, Uncle Norm’s Place, would have had a party for him which I’m told would have included cake. He would have loved that. Then, Stephen, Liam and I would have gone over to my parents’ house for dinner followed by more cake. Instead, the day was spent at home with my family. We had a quiet dinner with my mom. It was not how I had ever imagined spending my dad’s birthday.

I know that in the coming years his birthday will become less grueling, and this just the first of many holidays to come this year. I hope wherever he is that he had a wonderful birthday.

*As a side note, I know some of you were at the memorial service that was held last weekend. I’ve included the video that was shown. I hope you enjoy seeing some of the pictures from my dad’s life.*

Let it Rain

Tonight after dinner we all went outside check on the garden and plant a couple new seeds. Liam loves to “help” water the garden. However, tonight he was the one getting watered. He loved every moment of getting wet, once he got used to it. It was a nice way to cool off on a hot and humid evening.

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Mold it, Make it, Bend it….Stack it?

Last week, Liam spotted the cups of Play-doh that were sitting in the pantry. We pulled them out and I put Liam up in his chair at the table. Then I did the unthinkable. I pulled the Play-doh out of the container. Liam starts shouting, “No! No! No! Back!”

I do as he pleases, thinking that maybe I just pulled out the wrong color (you can never be too sure with toddlers). I tried again, this time with the red Play-doh. I started showing him that you could mold it and flatten it, but Liam was having none of it.

On the verge of giving up completely, I thought why the hell not. I’ll just give him the cups and see if that’s what he wants. And what do you know, the little stink bot just wanted to stack the cups on top of each other.

Another lesson learned….by Mom…

IMG_7422 IMG_7430 IMG_7446 Liam telling me that he wants to take a picture.

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A Letter to My Dad

IMG_5955It has been awhile.

Life as I know it has dramatically changed in the last week. On April 22, 2013, my father passed away from complications with dementia and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). I can’t say that my family and I didn’t see this coming. After all, my dad smoked for over 50 years. But it’s still a shock.

There are so many things that I wish I could have told him before he passed. I wish that I could just hear his voice one last time. I wish I could feel him embrace me like only a father can. So, I’m writing this letter to him in hopes that he knows just how I feel.

Dad and me at Disney

Dad,

I miss you. While there were plenty of times when we didn’t always see eye to eye or get along very well, you were still my dad. And I love you very much. You were the best dad you could be. I’m sorry I didn’t always make the time for you during the last couple years you were here, but please understand that it wasn’t because I didn’t want to see you. It was because I hated what had become of you.

In my eyes, you weren’t the dad I had known for 24 years. You weren’t the same man who taught me how to shoot. You weren’t the same guy who took me camping every summer. Nor were you the same person who would go Christmas shopping at the last minute with me. You just weren’t the same. 

I often described your condition as if an alien had come and taken over your mind and body. Because while you looked the same on the outside, I knew in my heart that it wasn’t you behind those brown eyes. 

There were a few times when I would catch a glimpse of the old you. When you would push through the haze, and reemerge from the depths. Those times would become fewer and fewer in the last months. But when they came, I always cherished them. 

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What upsets me most is that Liam will never know who you were. He will only have the stories of you that we’ll tell (and I promise to make sure some of them are about how good you were). I’ll miss seeing you two interact together. He always loved running into your room screaming, “Papa!” while trying to scare you. I will hold onto those memories for the rest of my life.

I’m truly sorry that the last few years here weren’t always great, but I know that you found enjoyment and comfort at Uncle Norm’s Place. You always looked forward to going every day and you never stopped talking about it. 

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While it saddens me that you are no longer with us, I know that you are finally at peace. You’re no longer suffering in this world. You have your mind and body back. You can finally be free. And that is comforting to me. 

I will always love and miss you, Dad. You will be in my heart each and every day.

Love always,

Kris

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Vegetable Garden – Spring 2013

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As I said in my previos post, we started our vegetable garden this past weekend. We started growing our own garden in the spring of 2009. Then, Liam was born in 2011 and we let it go for two years. Now that Liam can walk and play outside, we felt it was time to get started again.

After two years of neglect, our square foot gardens were not looking too good. Each box had about 2 dozen weeds and a couple of trees growing in them. Over the course of a couple hours on a nice spring afternoon we were able to clear everything out and get ready for planting.

We decided not to grow a whole lot this year. Stephen and I thought it would be best to keep it simple and only grow vegetables that we knew we would use. We settled on planting Roma tomatoes (which I plan to make my own pasta sauce with), green/red bell peppers, cucumbers, green beans, zucchini, and pumpkins.

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I know it doesn’t look like much right now, but in a few weeks the seeds will be sprouting. We may even have a couple flowers on the tomato plants. I’m sure Liam will enjoy watching everything grow this summer. He already loves to “help” water the plants. Now we just have to keep the dog out of the garden and we should be all set to have a nice growing season.

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