My Go-To Chocolate Chip Cookies (these days)

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

After my last post went live, the Murphy's Law folks decided to play a joke on me and make most of last week an overwhelming-in-a-sometimes-hilarious-way blur of activity, stomach bugs, and pity parties. Friday rolled around and it was like I could finally catch my breath almost. We had a lovely weekend and an even lovelier long Sunday afternoon nap (all of us!).

I had been meaning to make cookies for a friend at work, and finally got around to it last night. I've been making these cookies for the past few months (actually, they're the only cookies I've made since Molly was born). You've probably all seen them already on Pinterest or a million other blog posts, but I wanted to add my endorsement.

In fact, while on maternity leave, some of our friends brought over dinner and Settlers of Catan (we can hang, sometimes)...I was sitting there and all of the sudden got a hankering for some cookies. I said, "yall time me to see how fast I can get these in the oven." I kid you not, it was definitely under 10 minutes, probably around my magic number of 8 minutes?

Cake Mix Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 white cake mix
2 eggs*
1/2 cup oil
1 1/2 cup chocolate chips (I use mini, and eyeball the amount!)

Mix cake mix with oil, eggs, and then stir in chocolate chips. Bake at 350 degrees for 12 minutes (or until they look right).

*I've used egg beaters in place of eggs before and it worked great. I've also actually used 1/4 cup applesauce and 1/4 cup oil before, and they turned out great too.

Obviously, the possibilities for cake mix flavors, etc are endless, but this is a great chocolate chip-like cookie with really great texture (I think), that you can have out of the oven FAST!

image via

A quick Juliette story to make you melt... last night,  Jonathan got her settled down for bed (she has been getting riled up with me lately when I try to put her to sleep...she wants to get under the covers like a tent like I did with her the other day...she calls it, "Imma go back 'dere!" (back there)???).

Several minutes after Jonathan left her room, we looked on the monitor and she was lying down and appeared to be asleep. Several minutes later, I was looking at the monitor again (on its cycling pattern between the 2 babies' rooms, every 8 seconds), and Juliette was then sitting up quietly.

Jonathan went in there to check on her, and she just held his phone out to him and quietly said, "Here, Daddy," and then lay back down on her pillow and closed her eyes. Ha! We half wanted to laugh and half cry from the sweetness of it. I guess it had fallen out of his pocket when he was tucking her in.

In case you missed it, these are also good: Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies

Mom Stuff // Pity Parties

Thursday, July 11, 2013

I don't know about you, but I like to throw myself pity parties sometimes. Lately, most of my pity parties have somehow related to my kiddos, but I definitely threw these wild shindigs before I had little ones.

This morning felt like a real doozie. We went out for a friend's birthday last night (yes, involving a babysitter!), getting there after a rush back from Molly's 4 month check-up (including shots and subsequent nursing, 30 minute drives each way), trying to bathe and get her to sleep before leaving, getting Juliette situated, etc. We had a great time at dinner and stuff, notwithstanding both girls waking up while we were gone for odd reasons that NEVER happen (you know), and got home late-ish and were both beat, having gone marathon all day long from early hours. Things can get hairy when I don't have much time to accomplish household tasks in the evenings and prep for the next day, and so I had to go to sleep relying on the clean dishwasher the next morning, and also looking for a specific shirt for Juliette that we hadn't seen in a while (dicey).

Jonathan has had to leave for "work" at 6 AM for several weeks now (the quotation marks are no offense to him, but he is still in school, and doing rotations, so it's like practice work. It's definitely work, it's just not work he gets paid to do...he pays to do it in fact). This leaves dear ole Mom riding the morning train solo (this situation in itself deserved its own pity party which stretched over several mornings, did you get the invite?). My children currently attend two separate day cares (this will change August 5, I cannot wait), and I am supposed to be at work by 8 AM. I've actually gotten semi-OK at doing this (I mean, as much as you can I guess)...but as with all things infant/toddler related, things don't always go according to plan.

Things you think would be totally simple can turn into time-sucks fast, which is why I try to prep as much at night as I can (bottles, pump parts, bags packed, clothes mentally picked-out, etc.). Things like getting clean bottles out of the dishwasher, filling them with milk and screwing on a clean top can eat up a million precious minutes somehow, when you're simultaneously placating babies, finding stray shoes and filling sippy cups. You never know, perhaps your toddler will knock over an entire 5 oz bottle of liquid gold (THAT HAD A CAP ON IT--THE CAP WILL PROBABLY BREAK SOMEHOW ANYWAY?) all over your kitchen floor, leaving you frozen in stunned silence at first because you really need to leave in 17 minutes and you're not dressed, have no makeup on, neither kid is dressed, and here is a new mess to clean up.

You may be blessed to have an infant with a remarkably good temperament who doesn't mind being put in her car seat a million minutes before it's actually time to leave (thank you sweetness!), though your toddler loves to "watch" you put your makeup on (this involves lots of grabbing of contraband items, things falling off the counter, climbing on the toilet seat, etc). You throw on eyeliner attempting to hide your 3 AM rendezvous with the baby, masque a ponytail into a side-braid (does this actually work or am I forcing this one?) and find two matching shoes for the toddler, but you just cannot find that exact shirt she's supposed to wear for spirit day today. Thank goodness they have some new ones for sale waiting at school---just add it to my tab! Oh wait, TWO packages of diapers need to get in the car on one of your trips packing up everything.

You get to the toddler's school and she wants to take in her book for show-and-share...awesome! The infant you're carrying in her carseat can carry it in on her lap, so you wedge the diapers under your arm, and get the toddler to carry your keys. Just grab the special school shirt from the front counter on your way in and she's good to go. Thank goodness, there's her teacher, in the hallway to the rescue!

Back to the car with the infant to go to stop #2 and you have 26 minutes to deliver the baby and be at a meeting 20 minutes away. Oh great, your car remote battery is on the fritz, so you've gotta walk to the opposite side of the car to unlock and then back around to put the baby in! (I can't make this stuff up!) By the time you plop into the driver's seat, you may thinking to yourself over and over, "this morning SUCKS! Stressville! Woe is me!" etc etc etc etc, BUT, as you're pulling out of the parking lot, what do you hear on the radio when the dust settles and your brain can process things again?

Your ole Top-40s pal, Kelly Clarkson belting at just the right moment, "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger! blah blah power singing!" and then you feel this solidarity filling your heart! Moms hooray! Unite! Rah rah rah, you are DOING THIS! Tiny humans are depending on YOU for survival and you are MAKING IT HAPPEN! Sure, it's silly small thing, but maybe this is God's little gift to you to make it through this morning.


Sooooo....hearing this song, my pity party promptly shut down, and after depositing Molly, I got back int he car and Lady Gaga power music greeted me on that same radio station for my drive in to work, where I arrived three minutes before my meeting started (enough time for coffee!).

But deeper than Kelly's mantra, what I've learned from today is that being a mommy is hard. Period. It doesn't matter what your work situation is, what your financial situation, housing is always hard. Because it's not about you. It's about those babies.

(To be fair, all pity parties are probably some sort of lesson in it's-not-about-me, whether they relate to having children or not. That's a very broad blanket statement I probably need to think through a little more.)

It should be noted here:
I wrote this earlier today, and still had another pity party (or two/ten) afterward, and thus hesitated posting this because I am still obviously learning these lessons moment-by-moment.

But dang if I didn't go to Target for milk tonight and get the #1 parking spot!

Thank you, Lord, for getting me through today.

Baby's First Independence Day, Take II

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Another year, another baby's first July 4th! I know. Finally getting my act together and posting some photos from July Fourth! It's a doozie.

Jonathan was OFF this year, and it was so fun having our whole little family at the neighborhood parade! All of the girls' grandparents were there, plus Aunt Martha & Uncle T, plus Jules' buddies Elliot, Lilly, TWO Charlies... it was such a blast.

This one was old enough to run in the firetruck's water spray this year!

It was just the best, watching her go free. She had learned how to jump just last week, so getting airborne in the puddles was a favorite...

I resurrected my dessert contest aspirations and made this pie...

It won first place (out of two entries, ha!). I only got one bite, but it was pretty good I think? If you happen to make it, double the amount of cornstarch it calls for. I also used my favorite pie crust recipe instead of the one listed.

I just love these girls. Lilly, Jules, and Elliot are all about a month apart. Lilly just turned two yesterday (!), Jules' birthday is in one month, and then Elliot's is in September. It has been so fun watching them grow and learn how to interact with each other more and more as they get older....really remembering each other, hugging, learning to play (in Juliette's case, we're aiming for "gentle"). And gosh do I love their mommies!

...There they are, standing next to the float... aspiring Pidgeon Estates queens?

Here's Jules and Aunt Martha looking at the water spray...

And here was last year! Look at my little baby!
 (she is making the same confused expression in each pic. I will have to ponder that some more.)
We'll have another baby's first Independence Day next year with my new niece! SO excited!!!

Regretfully, we failed to get a pic of the four of us, though we got this one (blurry as it is):
And here's my Molly Wolly, making her parade debut!
Thanks to Leah for this one--I neglected to get a straight-on pic of this buttercup in her stroller and patriotic garb and man do I regret it. She was quite the edible sight!

Molly and pretty Nana:

That baby was an absolute dream at the parade, oh gosh I was trying not to think about it too hard she was so good. She was just pleasantly along for the ride, didn't fuss, and was just happy to be there!

It was one of the best crowds I've ever seen at this parade in over 20 years of having it! The weather was bearable, and everyone seemed to be having such a time.

Later the evening (after loooooong naps), we went to Tuck's house for our annual Tumber/Carkins cookout and enjoyed BBQ, burgers, and homemade ice cream! Juliette would still be swinging in Tuck's swing right this minute if we hadn't taken her home, she loved it so.

In the end, we decided that this could quite possibly have qualified as the best day of Juliette's young life so far. Between the parade, seeing all those friends/family, the firetruck hose, bites of a sno cone, Tuck's swing, a slide, 2 different hamburgers (!), and homemade ice cream, it was quite a doozie. She went to sleep quite happy and tired that night!

I posted this on instagram, but I can't believe last year on the Fourth I didn't yet know we were pregnant (we found out like July 7 or something). And here we are, with another baby girl at this year's parade. Don't get freaked out, my body is not quite up to a three-peat, but it has been fun this week, reminiscing on discovering our little surprise baby last summer.

Back at the home front, we are really enjoying this playhouse, gifted to us by the Bakers (thank you, Bakers!). Juliette loves dining al fresco (or fake al fresco, since she's really in a house of sorts?).

Enduring the heat of summer is almost worth it for such a great holiday as Independence Day, celebrating our country and the freedoms we enjoy every day. Thanks, USA!

2012 July 4th post
2011 July 4th post
2010 July 4th post
2009 July 4th post (in which you can learn more specifics about our parade, and in which Jonathan and I look really young. Arf)
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