Tuesday
Apr252017

The Place Where All the Fun Happens

If I really think about it, I must have been completely off my rocker the day I decided to buy a trampoline. Except, I know I was off my rocker because Mila was only a few days old. Sleep deprivation is an evil, evil thing. It's the sort of evil thing that makes you go against a lifetime of commitment to making responsible decisions.

I mean, come on. Trampolines are dangerous! Kids break themselves on them! They're also the ugliest things you can possibly have in your yard. The grass under them dies and the nets fall apart and blah, blah, blah.

I spent years telling Alexis that she would get a trampoline the day she was old enough to go out and buy one with her own money and that it would have to be in her own yard. You know how that worked out.

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It worked out that Alexis lives on that damn thing. I bought it because I was in a haze of stupid and I wanted to distract her from how very boring her summer was going to be with a newborn baby in the house. I thought it was last a month or two. Nearly three years later, it's a terrible eyesore. The grass under it is dead. The net has a few holes in it thanks to a windstorm that carried it to the neighbor's yard, but it could be worse. And the trampoline gets used just about every day, even when the weather isn't exactly right for it.

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So, basically it's the best $200 I ever spent while in a cloudy haze of sleep deprivation.

The best part, though. The best part is that Mila is just as into the trampoline as Alexis is. The two of them together are a mountain of hilarity. They bounce together, Mila happily plays the audience part when Alexis wants to put on a tumbling show, and then they bounce together some more.

And now they play hide-n-seek together. Which, it's an enclosed space. You'd think that it would be impossible to play hide-n-seek in an enclosed space, but it's totally not. The seeker just has to close her eyes and blindly try to find the other one.

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Mila giggling and stumbling around on the trampoline with her eyes pressed shut as she tries to find Alexis is easily the best reward I could have gotten for buying that trampoline.

Monday
Apr242017

In Pursuit of the Music Truck

I made it until Alexis was probably five or six before she recognized the ice cream truck as something more than a truck that drives around playing fun music. For years, we paused to enjoy the "music truck" without ever investigating the idea that it allows you to trade money for ice cream.

It was good while it lasted.

I can't make Alexis unknow that which she knows, so when the tell-tale music began floating through our neighborhood a few weekends ago, SHE KNEW. She appeared out of nowhere begging for money.  Where there is an Alexis there is also a Mila, so the gig was up. I nearly made it three years with the second kid oblivious to the magic that is the ice cream truck.

::Sigh:: It was good while it lasted.

Alexis held out her hand begging, and for once I was prepared. I had been working in the yard, so I heard the music before she did. I coughed up $10 and watched as Alexis picked up Mila and began to run after the music truck. The music truck is an emergency situation, so she didn't even pause to grab shoes.

Barefoot and carrying her baby sister, Alexis set out to chase down the music truck. And she chased. And she chased. And she chased. Despite the pied piper music playing, the truck was moving faster than the children it was calling could run. Alexis went from eagerly chasing the truck to struggling to obviously defeated as she ran down the sidewalk.

I don't know how the driver didn't see her. One gangly arm waved the money in the air while long gangly legs flew around through the chase. There were arms and legs flying everywhere, even as the toddler bounced wildly to and fro.

Just as I took in the sadness that was Alexis stopping the chase and slowly turning around, I had an idea. There was still a chance to save the day. I ran down the driveway, jumped in the car, and met the girls up the street. I rolled down the passenger-side window and told the girls to jump in.

"Both of us?" Alexis asked. She was thoroughly confused because nobody is allowed in the front seat of my car but me. There wasn't time for proper seating arrangements, though, so I said yes and watched as the girls piled in the front seat together.

If I thought Alexis was confused, Mila was even more confused. She sat in Alexis' lap completely dumbfounded as we rolled through the neighborhood. She was so confused she forgot to push buttons or squirm or anything. She just sat there nicely, like an actual human being who may grow up to be a respectable member of society.

Alexis just grinned.

We caught the ice cream truck at the stop sign at the top of the hill. The girls exchanged the money for a few ice cream bars and I ditched them. I made them walk back to the house because my job was done. I got them to the music truck in time.

Deciding to have them walk back home was easily the best decision I made that day. The girls returned to the house hand-in-hand, each smiling as they worked on their ice cream bars. They shared a few whispers and giggles while I stood on the stoop looking on.

Maybe having Mila find out about the music truck earlier than I would have liked wasn't the worst thing ever. Just maybe.

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Sunday
Apr232017

No Bake Strawberry Cheesecake

I bought too many strawberries. I didn't really think that was a thing that could be done, but then I managed to buy two packs of them on Friday night when I ran to the store and then I bought two more today when I ran to the store. Like, who does that? Who forgets they just bought strawberries two days ago?

Me, apparently. That's who.

The girls will destroy most of those by the middle of the week, but I still needed to pull a bunch into a dessert or something so they don't go bad.

Alas.

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No Bake Strawberry Cheesecake

1 pre-made graham cracker crust

1 8-oz package cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup white sugar
Zest and juice from one lemon
1 cup heavy cream

1 cup strawberries, sliced
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons cornstarch

2 cups strawberries, halved

1. There is not a step here for feeling guilt over using a pre-made crust, so don't spend any time doing that, mmkay? I mean, if you want to spend the time making one from scratch, carry on. I consider that a step worth skipping.

2. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the cream cheese, sugar, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Mix with an electric mixer on high speed until smooth. Add the cream and mix at high speed for an additional 2-3 minutes or until thickened.

3. Dissolve the cornstarch in the water. Place a small saucepan over medium heat. Toss in the sliced strawberries, sugar, water, and cornstarch and boil until thickened. Use a fork to smash up the strawberries. Allow to cool.

4. Spread the cheesecake stuff in the graham cracker crust then spread the cooled strawberry goo over top. Finish off your creation with the halved strawberries. Make a pretty pattern if you want. Or don't. Whatever works is cool.

5. Top with some puffs of whipped cream, if you wish.

6. Refrigerate for an hour before cutting. BAM.