Monday, December 15, 2014

Bug Cake

Mona has successfully turned 11.  To celebrate we created a Bug Cake.
For her party this year Mona asked her friends to bring cereal to donate to the food pantry instead of presents, which was an idea introduced to us recently by a friend and my kids were excited by it.  Mona also wanted to do something for her party that was new to her, so we ended up at a place with Laser Tag and Go Kart Racing, and that seems to have been a hit.  The other big hit was her bug cake.  When she requested a bug for a cake design she told me I could choose the bug, but nothing dainty looking like a butterfly.

I had a window of a few hours in which to put together the cake the day before the party between a dress rehearsal and a concert, so Mona made the actual cakes for me while I was out.  We went with half white and half chocolate because one of her friends does not like chocolate.
After I cut and assembled the basic cake Mona did the dirty icing (or crumb coat) step and we put the cake into the freezer for a little bit while she worked on sculpting the legs and antennae out of fondant.

I mixed up some green icing (using some of the sparkly blue icing left over from Quinn's peacock cake), put that on, then smoothed it all out using a little water on my knife.

We were going essentially for a Japanese beetle, so we used edible gold spray paint on the abdomen.  Mona found some Whoppers in her Halloween candy to use as eyes.
Lastly Mona put on the legs and antennae and then we frosted those brown.

I think it came out pretty well!  Mona was happy and the whole thing got eaten quickly, so I will chalk this one up in the success column.  (And did I mention my baby is 11?  How can she already be 11?)

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Thankful: Past, Present, and Future

Thanksgiving this year at our house wound up being about a two week event with lots of comings and goings.

[Try to follow along if you like!:  Ian left for New York for a week starting back on Quinn's birthday to watch our niece while my brother, Arno, and his wife had to be in other time zones, and he didn't get back until two days before Thanksgiving.  My parents arrived a week before Thanksgiving, and my brother, Barrett, came out by bus from LaCrosse for a day around then to visit with all of us before heading back to teach a few more classes and returning with his wife, Dosha, (and their dog) the night before the big feast.  Arno and his daughter, Ellora, arrived the day before Thanksgiving.]

All in all we ended up with six guests (plus dog guest) staying in the house and it was great.

I think it was the first time I've been with my parents and both my brothers at a Thanksgiving table in over 20 years.  After we all left for college it just wasn't worth the effort and expense to gather at the end of November when there was a longer break with even more relatives to see a month later.  Having everyone together this year was a rare and wonderful treat.

Dinner itself was delicious and fun.  My mom made some excellent dishes for the vegetarians among us, my husband cooked the turkey, I made pumpkin pie, Mona made the place markers, Barrett got creative with the napkins, and Arno made the potatoes into a nice Devil's Tower.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

A New Mold-A-Rama, and Quinn Turns Eight

Quinn is eight.

I've been thinking about the difference between Quinn turning eight compared to when Aden turned eight.

Aden was my first baby.  In some ways she'll always be a baby to me.  But as the oldest she's always ahead, and always the first to arrive at certain milestones.  It was with Aden that we had to learn how to let her form her own life outside of us at school, and to walk to the store alone, and to take on new and more complex responsibilities.  Next to her siblings her most notable feature is always that she is older.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Peacock Cake

Quinn requested a peacock cake for his birthday.  Took a bit of work, but I think it came out nice.
Actually, he originally requested a pigeon birthday cake and a peacock Halloween costume, but remembering back to his grey and black Roomba cake when he was two I told him a peacock cake might be more appetizing and definitely tastier.  He agreed and switched the requests.  (And his pigeon costume came out cute, so I'm glad he did.)

(Here's the Roomba cake if you're curious.  Quinn loved our Roomba and that was his first real word after "Mama.")

Friday, November 14, 2014

Bike Trip to the Fabric Store

It seemed like a good idea.  It really did.

But before I get into that story I feel the need to share some pictures of leaves because this Fall has been particularly beautiful.  (These are from right outside my front door and from the park nearby.  Don't let anyone ever tell you Milwaukee's not beautiful.)

Monday, November 10, 2014

Heart of Life

I was recently asked to submit a quote for an article on a site called  They were working on a piece for Veteran's Day about music and military families.  It's a nice article, and there is a cute picture of me and Ian there so you should go look!

They only used a couple of parts of the piece I wrote (at the very beginning and again at the end), so I'm putting the whole original thing here.  (And in case you don't know the song I'm referring to, I'll post a clip at the end.)

Heart of Life, by Korinthia Klein

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Off Switch Eating

I've lost about 30 pounds since the beginning of June.  That's enough weight that people notice, and many ask what it is I'm doing.

I know what people want to hear is that it's something that doesn't involve much sacrifice.  Unfortunately that's not the way it works.  For me, anyway.  Everyone's bodies and goals are different, so I can only say what works for me and people can take from it what they will.

For various reasons my weight has been up and down and all over the map.  I know at this point what my body responds to, how exercise and food affects it, and where most of my limits are.  My 30s were all spent in and out of pregnancies and breast feeding, and dealing with the stress of small children, starting a business, and my husband's deployments.  But now my last baby is about to turn eight, Ian returned from Iraq four years ago, and I've finally arrived at a place where I have no excuses for getting control over my own body and my health and my habits.

I've learned that exercise has almost no impact on my weight.  I swim a mile almost every day.  That was true 30 pounds ago and it's true now.  Exercise is important, and I'm glad it's something I've added to my routine, but I think weight loss has to do with what you eat, not how you move.  Exercise does affect the shape I'm in.  I think if I'd lost 30 pounds rapidly and without exercise I would look very different.  For instance, my arms are not flabby anymore, but only because my muscle tone is good and my skin has had time to adjust to the change.  So I'm not saying exercise isn't helping, but it does not affect the numbers on the scale.

What has brought my weight down is eating less.  I know, shocking.  But I'm not someone who wants to track every bite I put into my mouth.  I don't want to think that hard.

So I've come up with a system for myself that I'm calling "Off Switch Eating."