Marbled Cream Cheese Pumpkin Muffins

Happy Halloween!
Here is a treat for you. These are incredible. Last year Melanie posted this recipe and I have been wanting to try them ever since. Well, the seasons came and went and I forgot until fall rolled around and I started aching for something, anything with pumpkin in it. I asked if her if she could find the recipe for me again, but I had this fixation with pumpkin and couldn't wait. I googled 'pumpkin cream cheese muffins' and found a recipe. It was horrific. The muffins were dry and there was not nearly enough cream cheese. It called for 1/2 cup of pumpkin which left well over half a can of pumpkin. Melanie posted her recipe but hers called for a full can. What to do?

I searched and searched until I found a recipe that used exactly what I had left. I couldn't possibly waste any of my precious pumpkin! They were delicious. So delicious I had to make another batch. But I needed to make 18 muffins instead of a dozen so I combined Melanie's recipe and this one. I think I am going to be 400 pounds by Christmas. If I didn't know better I would think this pumpkin craving was pregnancy related. I just can't stop eating these things. Apparently Starbucks carries a similar muffin because one of the ladies at my Bible study said, "Oh, these are just like Starbucks!" So be warned, these babies are frightfully good!
For 18 muffins using 1 can of pumpkin
1 and 1/2 boxes (12 oz) cream cheese, softened (I used 1/3 less fat to pretend it wasn't as bad for me)
a heaping 1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 egg

1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 ¼ teaspoon baking soda
3/4t teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon each nutmeg, allspice and cloves
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 large egg
1 can pumpkin (not pie filling)
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Prepare filling. Beat together cream cheese and sugar, then stir in egg and vanilla. Set aside.

In a mixing bowl, thoroughly stir together flour, both sugars, salt, baking soda, cinnamon and spices.

In another mixing bowl, blend oil, egg, pumpkin and vanilla. Add flour mixture to pumpkin mixture and stir until combined.

Fill muffin cups about 1/3 of the way full with pumpkin mixture. Spoon cream cheese mixture over pumpkin, dividing evenly between all 18 cups. Spoon a drop of pumpkin batter on top of cream cheese. Pumpkin batter will be thick and will not cover entire top, so the appearance will be similar to a bulls eye.

Bake for 23-25 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack.

All the ghouls!

Halloween Party 2008

We had our 2nd annual Family Halloween Party last weekend. Even Snork dressed up! It was fun to eat yummy treats, all be together, and watch the costumes slowly come apart. I think I lasted maybe an hour in my heels. Wigs were flying off faster than the cookies off the plates. Max and I dressed up as Todd and Sarah Palin. By the end of the night I was back in sweats and coverd in Hank spit-up. Somethings never change. :) The girls were Dorothy, Hannah Montana and Tinkerbell. I bet you can guess who was who. Hank was Charlie Brown. The kids bobbed for apples and did a pinata. We celebrated my mom and sister's birthday so I just had to make them a cake. Halloween is such a fun time of year for baking up sweets. This was an easy cake as far as fondant goes. The kids are all looking forward to Trick or Treating on Friday. I am too, it is suppose to be in the mid 70s! Usually it is bitter cold and the first snow of the season. What a treat to not be bundled up in coats and mittens and begging the kids to be done.

Universal Values?

This is a family blog with benign ramblings about the day to day adventures of being a mom. I have steered clear of political statements or voicing my views on any controversial or hot topics. However, the old saying, 'if you don't stand for something, you will fall for any thing' keeps ringing in my ear. I feel compelled to express my deep concern about Senator Obama because I see so many people falling for the propaganda. Many of our friends and family are conservative leaning but are planning on voting for Obama. Let's face it, John McCain is not a great choice and it is pretty disappointing that this was the best the Republican party could come up with. I have numerous faults with McCain, but for me it has come down to choosing the lesser of two evils.

Obama is an amazing speaker and brings a message of hope at the surface level. I have found myself captivated by him and considered voting for him early on. He seems to be a uniter until you really study what he stands for. As the campaigns have progressed and I learned more about his positions and things he has said, I can not align myself with him. I am appalled by Senator Obama’s remark that he would not punish his daughters with a baby if they made a mistake. This lack of value in the sanctity of life and his brazen talk within this clip shows what Barack Obama really stands for. He stands for abortion at all cost, even partial birth abortion. As a mother and a nurse that assisted families with the incredibly painful loss a baby or inability to have one, how could I possibly vote for a man who considers a baby a punishment? I encourage you to watch this video and this one on my sister's blog to see who Obama really is in his own words.

In his 'Call to Renewal' Keynote Address Obama states, “Democracy demands that the religiously motivated translate their concerns into universal, rather than religion-specific, values. It requires that their proposals be subject to argument, and amenable to reason. I may be opposed to abortion for religious reasons, but if I seek to pass a law banning the practice, I cannot simply point to the teachings of my church or evoke God's will. I have to explain why abortion violates some principle that is accessible to people of all faiths, including those with no faith at all."

Since when do I have to translate my values into universal values? What part of democracy says that I can’t vote for legislation that agrees with my values, religion-specific included? Democracy requires that values are put forth and the citizens vote on if they agree or not. Democracy as defined by Wikiipedia says it is “a form of government in which the supreme power is held completely by the people under a free electoral system… Furthermore, freedom of political expression, freedom of speech and freedom of the press are essential so that citizens are informed and able to vote in their personal interests." The mere notion that he would use the term universal values in the context of abortion where the fundamental division is due to the value of an unborn child is an example of his smooth double speak. What he is really saying is that the religiously motivated have to change their values to mainstream values of today because their argument for life holds no weight without God as the creator in the discussion.

Who's "universal values" would we use? Obama's? Atheist? Muslim? Buddhist? Prime time TVs? Clearly not Christian values, even though nearly 80% of Americans identify themselves as Christian. If we apply this rhetoric of "universal values" meaning a mainstream or popular value to history, would the civil rights movement or equality for women happened? The mainstream/universal values of the time were not in favor of these movements. It was people bringing their personal interests/values to democracy. We see equality for all as a "universal value" today but it was a very different "universal value" when the Constitution was written. If we remove the concept of universal worth of each person, where would we be? If we use some vague sense of "universal values" with abortion, you would have to argue that the value would be placed on the life of the individual (baby), not fixing the "mistake" that a woman made and giving her the "right" to end that life. To follow along his argument as to why I have to explain why abortion violates some principle that is accessible to all. The answer is simple. Equality and universal value for all. Why is it my right to choose if a life created can be ended? On a universal level, regardless of faith or lack there of, electively choosing to end a baby’s life due to a mistake I made is not my authority.

Senator Obama and I have very different values and ideas of democracy. In addition to not valuing the life of an unborn child, he does not value the American Dream. Max and I have invested 13 years of struggle and sacrifice to arrive at the doorway of our American Dream. Senator Obama proposes to spread our American Dream around. Well let me ask if he plans to spread around the nearly 160 THOUSAND dollars we have taken on in student loans to get to our American Dream and that we will be paying back for 30 years? We also disagree on the value of a non-government run health care system. This doctor and nurse who are intimately intertwined with the health care system can wholeheartedly tell you that Obamacare is a bad idea. Has your government done a good job with Social Security or Medicare and Medicaid? Inserting layers of government and removing the capitalistic drive for the best will reduce our health care system to the suboptimal level of other socialized systems.

Obama is an incredible orator, but he is a double speaker. He claims to be a Christian but does not vote for values of Christ, mocks the Bible, and shares a Liberal Unitarian view. Psalm 127:3 "Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb a reward." I guess he is just translating his values into “universal” ones. I urge you to read and find out exactly what Obama stands for. You can tell a lot about a man by the company he keeps. He is not a center leaning Democrat but a strong abortion proponent with shady associations and a socialistic economic and health care plan.

Happy Birthday Spencer!

We wish you a lucky day as you turn the big 7!

Nut Free Trick or Treat Trail Mix

It was my turn this week to be the "Brownie Mom" for Hailey's Girl Scout troop which means you have to bring a healthy, nut free snack and help out with the meeting. I don't know that bringing my herd to the meeting was anything but a distraction, but that is a whole other post. But I did manage to come up with this festive trail mix that might make it into the healthy classification.

2 cups Reduced Fat Cheese Nips
2 cups pretzel sticks
2 cups roasted pumpkin seeds
2 cups golden raisins (dried apricots or peaches would work great too)
2 cups regular raisins
1 cup of autumn colored M&Ms
1 cup of candy corn

*Combine and gently toss.
I put 1/2 cup of the mixture into pumpkin zip lock baggies.
Makes 12 servings

I was surprised how much the Girl Scouts liked it, even my littlest ghoul liked it!


Every Thursday Hailey comes home with her weeks worth of work. As I was going through all her test and assignments I came to this page. Apparently the assignment was to write and draw ways in which you are responsible.
The first picture reads, "I am holding my Brother" with her sitting on the couch holding Hank.
The second caption reads, "I am washing the dishes."
The third picture reads, "I am making my bed."
The fourth picture reads, "I am feeding my dog."
The fifth picture is a picture of a toilet with Max walking away that reads, "My dad did not flush the tolit."
And her final picture shows her with her tongue sticking out and saying, "I flushed it trow (through)."

Our house is pretty tiny and all the bedrooms are near the spare bath. Max gets up between 4 and 5 am everyday and in attempt to not wake the kids he has taken to not flushing our toilet that lets out a nice loud hum after you flush it. I can only imagine the funny things the teacher got to read with this assingment but I bet this is close to the top.

Happy Birthday Kerrie!

We love you Bubus and hope you have a great day.

Happy Birthday Mom!

Between Karlie throwing up all day and taking Hank to the doctor, I almost forgot to wish my mommy a Happy Birthday! EEKK! Mom, you are the most wonderful mom a daughter could hope for and I blessed to call you a friend in addition to my mom. You are so helpful in every way. I strive to have patience and the gentle heart that you exhibit. We all love you so much.

6 Months Old

Hi. My name is Hank. I am the happiest baby alive. This is how I look most of the time.
Hank loves to scream at the top of his lungs in total joy, just pleased as peach to hear his voice. We have taken to calling him the Banshee Wailer. People will call and think I am torturing him and he is just singing his little heart out happy as can be. He now eats three jars of baby food a day. He can almost sit up by himself and he loves to bounce in the Johnny Jumper, but most of all he loves the undivided attention he receives from the ladies in his life. He gets so excited when Hailey comes home from school or when we pick Karlie up or when Kaitlin plays peek-a-boo with him. His sisters really dote on him and it shows.

At his check up today the poor guy got 5 shots. It is so hard to choose to inflict pain on your children. But I think the success of vaccines have been their own worst enemy. Most of us have never had to watch the devastating effects of polio or measles. Two of my children got whooping cough despite being vaccinated and I can tell you I would gladly choose a little shot over the months of agony and near deathly toll it took on them. I just wish they could come up with combination vaccines so they didn't have to get so many pokes. Even Hank's hearty thighs look pitiful covered with five band-aids. :(

Hank weighs 18 pounds and 11 ounces and is 27 and 1/4 inches long, both in the 75th percentile! Hailey weighed 20 pounds at one year! The doctor said if he keeps jumping percentiles like this he is on target to be a very big boy. I am loving the different energy a little boy is bringing to the house and thank God for our little miracle.

Pumpkin Patch 2008

We went to a new pumpkin patch this year. Unfortunately, the farm we usually go to went under and was selling off all their farm equipment. The impact of the economy can be seen everywhere. But we did find one and it was breathtaking. I couldn't get over the view. The field of orange against the blue mountains was a real treat for the eyes.

Hailey found one of the biggest pumpkins in the field.
Karlie on the on the other hand really wanted this baby pumpkin.
Kaitlin was happy with about 200 different pumpkins, but finally settled on one.
Our littlest pumpkin found one that weighed more than him!
No chance getting all four to look and smile at the camera.
See that guy in the red shirt in the background? That is Clayton, my brother-in-law. He was worse than any of the kids trying to find his pumpkin. I think he went to the entire end of the patch searching for just the right pumpkin. At one point he had gone so far we lost sight of him.
Here the kids are with Grammy and Grandpa. See Clayton? He is still searching...
Guess who got to carry all those gigantic and heavy pumpkins to the car?

Happy Birthday Laney!

You couldn't be any cuter! We hope you have a fun filled day and are thinking of you.

Thursday 13 ~ Things I Love About October

1. Anna's Birthday
2. Owen's Birthday
3. Laney's Birthday
4. Spencer's Birthday
5. Gigi's Birthday
6. Kerrie's Birthday
7. Mom's Birthday
8. The gorgeous fall leaves
9. Pumpkin Patch trips
10. Halloween with all the kid costumes
11. Time to break out my Uggs
12. Warm beverages all day long
13. Jeans and a cozy sweatshirt

Wordless Wednesday

Karlie's idea of getting ready for school one morning. What are you going to say to that?

What Happens When You Have 3 Big Sisters

You get to use flowery bibs handed down from your sisters.
Your sister wants you to dress up as a Prince with a pink crown.
You have to participate in tea parties.
You get to sit in a girlie walker.
Your sister wants to play babies with you.
You are the apple of their eye.

I am confident Hank will be well in touch with his feminine side by the time he becomes a man. :)

Bronco Baby


Devin gave me this award over a month ago and I kept meaning to thank her but got caught up in the day to day. It wasn't until Steph gave me an award yesterday that I remember what a bum I am. Thank you Devin for the award. You are an inspiration and make mothering 6 children look easy. I mean really, who irons for 6 children and a husband?!?! When I grow up I want to be like you;) Thank you!

While we were in California for Max's Grandmother's 90th Birthday celebration, I was taken aback by all the family that checked in on the blog. I figured for the most part these were senseless ramblings that noone paid attention to except for a handful of blog buddies and close family. I have to send a cyber hug to Uncle John who checks in daily. I am glad to share this crazy life and tickled pink that someone besides me finds it at all interesting.

The rules. Good thing there wasn't a time limit or mine would have expired.
1. The winner can put the logo on her/his blog.
2. Link the person you received your award from.
3. Nominate 7 other blogs.
4. Put links of those blogs on yours.
5. Leave a message on the blogs of those you’ve nominated

I would like to pass this award onto:
1. My sister Chrysti. Her blog is a joint effort with her friend Karrie and has themes from the book they are writing called BOOBCAMP. Their blog is always good for a laugh or two.
2. Courtney who has been my best friend since nursing school and now lives all the way up in Montana. Sorry, you have to be part of her fan club to view her blog!
3. To Lacey who has been a cyber friend for over 3 years. She is an amazing mom that always has it together and I can count on her to commiserate with me about the journey of motherhood.
4. Jessica has also been a long time cyber buddy. She just had her 4th little boy. She and her husband make the cutest boys alive and I hope to get lots of tips from her.
5. My sister in law, Heather who was the inspiration for my blog. We have traced along the same path with kiddos and have a pair for each age. I only wish they didn't live all the way in Michigan.
6. Melanie over at Monday through Sunday. She always provides thought provoking posts and has taught me more than one trick about blogging.
7. My cousin Melody who is also a nurse with a new little man in her life.

Happy Birthday Buddies

Happy Birthday Owen!
Happy Birthday Anna!

Kids = Shoplifting

Hopefully this won't be my last post. Well, I don't know, do prisoners get internet time? I have committed two crimes this week and am having a hard time resolving them. It has been a whirlwind since we returned from California on Sunday. Sunday evening I ran to the store for the weeks groceries. Max then left a 3:45 am for Pittsburgh on Monday. Later that day I was starting to get stuff out for dinner and couldn't find the ham steaks I had bought. They were buy one get one free and I remember watching them ring up with great satisfaction that I was going to get two dinners out of $4.99! I searched the fridge, the freezer, and my car. They were nowhere. I checked the pantry thinking I could have had a mental lapse. I have put the milk in there before and the cereal in the fridge, but the ham steaks were nowhere to be found. I then started searching for my receipt to call and see if I had left them at the store. It was a long shot that they would know since it was the night before but hey those babies were buy one get one! I couldn't find my receipt. I was convinced the clerk had bagged my hams and thrown the receipt in the same bag. Bummer.

I called anyway and gave three people my ham steak sob story before getting the manager. They didn't have my hams or my receipt but they would honor my word and I could come by and pick up two more! Now that is customer service. I thanked the King Soopers manager profusely and trotted away with my hams. They were worth the 4 extra car seat buckles in the day. I used one for dinner that night and put the other in the freezer for future use. Fast forward to last night when I pulled the corn out of the brown plastic bag they were in and low and behold I found two ham steaks! Could they be multiplying? Oh no! I had inadvertently stolen two ham steaks from King Soopers. Would they let me return them? Would they arrest me if I tried? Would they throw them away since they have been out of the store and are a perishable good? Could I ask them to charge me for another pair? What to do? I mean how do I explain all of this and not sound like a liar?

While I have been wrestling with the best way to tackle this problem, I committed yet another crime. I was at Target this morning and put Hank in his car seat in the buggy portion of the cart and Kaitlin in the little kid top part. I was hurriedly throwing diapers and all the other things I had forgotten in my rushed trip to King Soopers earlier in the cart. When the bottom overflowed, I started putting stuff next to Kaitlin, then as she got buried I started putting things next to Hank. Time just flies when you are having fun at Target and before I knew it I was almost late picking Karlie up from preschool. Cue Hank meltdown. I rushed to the cashier and start unloading the groceries as fast as I could. About that time Kaitlin wiggles out of her buckle and stands up in the cart. With one hand trying to keep her seated, going "shhh, shhh, shhh" to Hank and trying to find my wallet in my Mary Poppins style purse that has everything from diapers and wipes to lipstick and fruit snacks it it with my other hand, I get all checked out and raced to the car. Hank was full on screaming by now and I had 10 minutes to get the kids in the car and to Karlie's school. I put Kaitlin in and started loading all the bags into the car. I then lifted the 30 pound car seat to find a can of whip cream had rolled under it. The red can blended in with the Target cart when I did my final sweep through to make sure I had gotten everything. Blasted whip cream! What to do? With a very guilty conscious I grabbed the whip cream and drove away. I should have unpacked the kids and gone back but at the moment the crying baby won. I called Target when I got home to see if they could just charge me over the phone for it. Unfortunately, no, I would have to come back in. So I now have to work in yet another trip to Target and King Soppers this week and possibly a trip to the police station. :) Who knew having kids led to shoplifting? They really should come with a warning.

Kerrie and Clayton's Wedding

I have been meaning to do a post about my little sister's wedding but had to wait until I could steal pictures from my photographer sister Chrysti. A picture is worth a thousand words and I couldn't begin to write enough about this truly wonderful day. Kerrie worked very hard on creating a beautiful atmosphere for her special day. She made all the bouquets, the center pieces, the guests name cards and place cards. I think she could give Martha a few lessons!

Clayton and Kerrie are a beautiful couple from the inside out. This was a special day for me too. My kid sister is all grown up now. Big Stuff. My wish for them is that they love each other as much in 50 years as they do on this day.