Cookie Monster Cookie Cake

Sadie recently turned 2 years-old!! So between her and our puppy Wally, we now have two 2 year-olds – haha.

This year, Sadie’s birthday was Sesame Street themed so I decided to make her a cookie monster cookie cake. I found a delicious-looking cookie cake recipe on Life, Love and Sugar and modified it – everyone loved it! It was super easy to make and the cookie was perfectly soft and chewy.

Here is my modified version:

COOKIE MONSTER CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIE CAKEcookie-monster
Yield: 9 or 10 inch cookie cake

Ingredients:

Cookie Cake

3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

3/4 cup dark brown sugar

1/4 cup sugar

1 egg

2 tsp vanilla extract

2 cups all purpose flour

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

Vanilla Frosting

1/4 cup butter

1/4 cup shortening

2 1/4 cups powdered sugar

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1-2 tbsp water

1/2 tsp blue food dye (roughly)

1 tsp black decorating gel

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place parchment paper in the bottom of a 9 inch cake pan and grease the sides.
  2. Cream butter and sugars together until light and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes.
  3. Mix in egg and vanilla extract.
  4. With the mixer on low speed, add flour, baking soda and salt.
  5. Stir in chocolate chips. Dough will be thick.
  6. Press the dough evenly into the cake pan.
  7. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until the edges are slightly golden. The center will look undercooked, but it will continue cooking and firm up as it cools.
  8. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely in the cake pan, then transfer to serving plate.
  9. To make the frosting, beat the shortening and butter until smooth.
  10. Slowly add 1 cup of powdered sugar. Mix until combined.
  11. Mix in the vanilla and 1 tbsp water.
  12. Add the rest of the powdered sugar and mix until smooth. Add more water to get the right consistency.
  13. Separate out about 2 spoonful’s of icing for the eyes. Stir the blue food dye into the rest of the icing until you have blue icing.
  14. Pipe the icing onto the top half of the cookie cake.
  15. Gently spoon on reserved white icing and add 2 dots of the black decorating gel to complete the eyes.
  16. Store in an airtight container until ready to serve.

yum

Yum!

Potty Training Lessons

I originally had this master plan to start potty training Sadie at 20 months (around October). I read countless blogs about what I’d need and bought supplies at the store. Then we finalized our holiday plans which included two 13 hour-long car trips and I thought to myself “Hmm, 13 hours in a car with a newly potty-trained toddler?” …And I decided to postpone our potty adventures until after the holidays in January.

In that 3 month span, I started to set Sadie on the toilet each night before bath and my Mother-in-Law (who watches her while I work) was putting Sadie on the toilet whenever she needed to do a BM. Sadie started to take an interest in the potty. Eventually she learned the words “potty” and “B” (for BM) and would tell us when she needed to go! She started being able to keep her diapers dry. By the time we got to January, she had half of the process down and the step we needed to take was moving from diapers to big girl underwear.

Here are some of the things I learned when switching to underwear:

  • Even with a child who already can go to the bathroom on the toilet, on that first day you still need to start by taking them to the potty every 15 minutes. Then, you can slowly lengthen the time in between trips. The sensation of wearing underwear is different and they need to learn they can’t even let a little bit out (like they might have before in diapers). It took me about 6 accidents to figure this out.
  • Setting aside a few days to work out the kinks at home really helps them build confidence. Then trying a very short outing (to a place where you know where the bathroom is) is a good test to see if they can (a) make it without an accident (b) tell you when they need to go in public.
  • Character underwear is awesome because it’s something they’re proud/excited to wear and you can celebrate things like “You kept Elsa dry!” It’s a great motivator.
  • When accidents happen, say “Oops, you had an accident!” and let them feel the underwear is wet (and then promptly wash their hands) so they can understand what happened.
  • Watch their fluid intake and look for signs they need to go (dancing around, touching down there, trying to go off in a corner by themselves, etc.)
  • As they get more proficient, keep asking if they need to go (especially when you suspect they might need to) but if they say “no,” trust their judgment. They like being able to own the process – or maybe this is just Sadie!
  • When they do say they need to go, drop everything and take them right away!
  • If they say they need to go several times and nothing comes out each time, either (1) they’re working through a BM, (2) they want to play with something in the bathroom, or (3) they’re avoiding something outside of the bathroom.
  • Be consistent on your policy for picking up toys on the way to the bathroom. I let Sadie bring one toy and they can “watch her go” on the bathroom floor. I don’t let her hold toys on the toilet because a couple have fallen in.

I’m sure I’m missing things, but these are the lessons that jump out to me. What have you learned with potty training? To those of you about to start: Good luck! I hope this helps. 

Homemade Sesame Street Birthday Invitations

My daughter’s second birthday is coming up and I can’t believe it! She loves everything Sesame Street right now, so I am excitedly planning a Sesame Street birthday party that I hope she’ll love. To keep with my theme, I sent out homemade Sesame Street invitations.

I ordered invitations last year which seemed like a huge waste of money for such a small party (~8 people). Plus, this activity let me get more creative and personalize them for Sadie!

Here is how to make the invitations:

For 10 invitations, you will need –

5 sheets of colored paper (could be stripes, polka-dots, balloons, sesame street characters, etc.)

10 white cards

10 envelopes (that fit the white cards

2 sheets each of yellow, green, red, and blue cardstock

1 pair of scissors

1 dark pen (or a printer if you choose to print)

1 white paint pen

Double-sided tape

4 cut-outs (you will need to make) for outline of card, back of street sign, front rectangle on street sign, and front semi-circle on street sign

1 circular cutter (not pictured)

Step 1. Trace your cut-out on the multi-colored paper and cut it out.

Step 2. Tape your multi-colored cut-out onto your white card stock paper.

Step 3. Trace the large street sign cut-out on yellow paper and cut it out. Trace the two smaller street sign cut-outs on green paper and cut them out. Cut out red and blue circles with your circle cutter.

Step 4. Use the white paint pen to write on your street sign and circle cut-outs. Set aside to dry.

Step 5. Write (or print out) your invitation wording.

Step 6. Tape your street sign together and then tape to the top of the card. Tape circle cut-outs to the back of your card.



Happy mailing!

Spa Trips & Different Rules

My husband and I recently came back from a wonderful trip to Nemacolin Woodlands Resort! We mainly went for the spa and the highly-rated restaurants, but definitely want go back for the winter or summer activities once our daughter, Sadie, is a little older. The property is just outside of Pittsburgh, PA and it is stunning. I recommend paying it a visit and here are a few reasons why:

  1. Amazing spa: We went for 2 days of treatments and left feeling so relaxed and replenished. My favorite treatments were the facial (part of the woodlands classic package) and the hot stone shirodhara. The facial was so relaxing I drifted into sleep, and my face was glowing afterwards. The hot stone shirodhara really helped work through some muscle pain & tightness I’d been feeling (and it also felt so good!) In both cases, the masseuse was great about asking and understanding my personal needs, which I really appreciated.
  2. Delicious food: The restaurants did not disappoint. Although the décor was very understated, the meals went above and beyond my expectations. Every dish not only tasted exquisite, but looked beautiful when served!ny5
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  3. Spectacular service: We stayed in the Chateau where we had a butler (which in itself was awesome and made me realize I need a butler everyday) but the service was fantastic anywhere we went on the resort. We felt very welcomed and waited-on the entire time we were there.
  4. Magnificent surroundings: The landscape and architecture on the property are beautiful. The Chateau displays art throughout the halls and attempts to push the limit on how many chandeliers you can have per square inch. ny6

There are also a wide variety of family activities and kid-friendly restaurants/areas, which is why we hope to return with Sadie. (There’s even pet care for those interested!)

Sadie and our dog, Wally, stayed with my in-laws in Philadelphia while we were away. Using our experience from Adult Week, we learned FaceTiming a couple hours before bedtime was best so Sadie wouldn’t miss us before going to sleep.

My in-laws have watched Sadie and Wally several times now. Even though they have different rules than I do, the little ones fare well in their care and are happy and healthy when I return. There were only a couple new things Sadie and Wally picked up that I had to teach them not to do with me; as long as I was consistent and firm, they picked up on my rules vs. my in-law’s rules pretty quickly.

We stayed at my in-law’s house for a couple days after our spa trip. I found when my MIL and I were together with the little ones, establishing who was in charge at that time reduced confusion on what the rules were and who would take the lead should chaos ensue. Since we were at her house, I handed over the reins a little more and I think it worked well.

Overall, it was a positive way to bring in the New Year and I hope you had a great holiday too!

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Adult Week Part II

Adult week is over and I’m so excited to see my babies and thankful for the time my husband and I had together.

The first 3 days were so fun and we really lived up the freedom. I slept so much! I did not realize how much I missed sleep. We had delicious meals at restaurants we’d been meaning to try. I even went to a couple yoga classes! (Finally… I used to teach yoga – Yikes!)

It was nice to realize I really don’t miss going out to drink. We had plenty of opportunities to hit it hard, but when it came down to it we both wanted to relax at home in our comfy clothes! Sometimes when I know can’t go out I wonder what I’m missing but this free time confirmed that I’ve really moved past that part of my life.

We FaceTimed Sadie twice a day so we could see each other and on day 4 Sadie cried when she saw us. 😦 I kept a positive attitude so she could see everything was ok and my MIL confirmed she was happy afterwards. It was hard because I started to question if we were going to be away for too long. After some reflection, I decided to focus on enjoying the time I had with my husband instead of moping. We only had 2 more days!

When we finally reunited with Sadie and Wally, the pure joy was amazing to experience. Sadie was practically squealing with delight and wanted to show me everything she loved around her Nana’s house. She kept running up to me at random and giving me hugs. It was so cool to see how much she had changed and learned in just under a week! Wally was so sweet and stayed right by my side. He got along very well with my in-law’s 3 dogs and was happy to have play mates!

I recommend taking some adult time when you can. The length of time doesn’t have to be as long as a week, but it’s really nice to have some time to reconnect with your own needs and have more time with your spouse; you’ll be amazed to see how adaptable your little ones can be and the things they pick up when they’re with other people.

Adult Week

Christmas is fast approaching and like many, we have lots of plans. Some of our plans are fairly complicated.

My mother-in-law graciously (and perhaps without realizing exactly what she was signing up for) offered to make the 13-hour drive up to Philadelphia with Sadie, our almost 2 year-old daughter, and Wally, our 2 year-old puppy, a week in advance of my husband and I. At first, I was upset about the idea of missing all that time with my babies around the holidays but then my husband smartly pointed out – we could have an adult week.

AN ADULT WEEK.

This got me onboard pretty quickly. We have a whole list of silly things we plan to do that you just can’t do as easily with kids (eat later, go to the movies on a weeknight, work out together, sleep in, etc.)

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My mother-in-law is also the main caretaker when my husband and I go to work, so she knows how to keep Sadie & Wally happy, she can keep their schedule, and they are both very comfortable with her. Luckily Wally has been to my in-law’s before and got along with their dogs, but they’ve still promised to be cautious in re-introducing the dogs (keep them on leashes when they first see each other and slowly increase the time they spend out together).

After the week is over I’ll check back in to let you know how it went! (for us and the little ones) Hopefully everything stays merry and bright.

A Toy for Wally

Our puppy Wally turned 2 years-old this week! Of course I wanted to get something special for him, but what to get? It wasn’t an easy choice:

  1. Wally has a super sensitive stomach so I couldn’t make him pupcakes.
  2. He destroys (and eats) any toy I buy for him. Literally every toy. (Despite any claims of being indestructible).
  3. All the treats I’ve gotten for him so far have not agreed with his tummy.

 

Despite all feelings of hopelessness, I decided to browse the dog toy aisle in Target anyway (I mean it’s Target, it has everything right?) and lo and behold I found something new!

capture-dog

The Petstages Dogwood Toy Chew Stick was perfect for Wally because it was something he could chew/destroy that safely came apart and didn’t irritate his tummy. Disclaimer: I did give it to him for small periods of time so he didn’t eat the whole thing in one sitting. But either way, we had no tummy troubles and a very happy, occupied puppy. I strongly recommend this product to any other dog moms out there with destructive chewers!