Child at Heart

I think by the time you're in sixth grade, you're supposed to have outgrown some things. You maybe are supposed to think the zoo is boring. You definitely aren't interested in G-rated movies. And the pumpkin patch? Pffft. That's for babies.

Babies named Mila, of course.

If Alexis were an only child, I'd probably have to drag her to bunches of things, if I even bothered to drag her. But since Mila is around, we get to continue all of the little kid things for a few more years. It's only fair considering Alexis got to enjoy all of those things. Mila should have the same opportunities.

Which, she super appreciates them. Every little adventure is a great adventure.

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Alexis, though. In theory Alexis is too old for all of these things. BUT SHE TOTALLY ISN'T. She enjoys every second of the shenanigans as well.

I already knew this because I've witnessed it a bunch of times. Thus, when I overheard a thing I wasn't supposed to overhear, I wasn't entirely shocked. I did laugh, though.

"Mila," Alexis whispered, "Go ask mom if we can go to the My Little Pony movie."

So much for being too old for things.


The More Things Change

It's not often that I launch into a "back in my day" story with my girls (because, frankly, it's not much fun comparing their world to a trailer park world ALAS), but when I do, it's a good one. It was just this past  week that we were walking the aisles of a big box store when the girls had VERY different responses to the things we encountered.

"OMG, WHY ARE THERE CHRISTMAS THINGS OUT? CAN'T WE HAVE HALLOWEEN FIRST?" proclaimed the grandma of the group. Hi, Alexis. You're an old soul and it is fantastic.

"SQUEEEEEEEE! PRETTIES!!!!!!!" was basically Mila's response. She's never met a sparkly and bright that she didn't want to own. As we walked the aisles, she started selecting things that she was quite certain we needed to buy. She wanted lights and tinsel and I do believe she tried to convince me that we need another tree.

Me. CONVINCE ME. As if there is any convincing needed.

As I passed on all of the ideas because I am very dedicated to finishing the giant spider that is currently living in our driveway before I pay attention to Christmas, I launched into a lecture.

Holidays. In my day.

I started by explaining that in my day, you celebrate holidays one at a time. I started to explain how even when I worked retail, we had rules about these things. Like, when I was a Department Manager at Stein Mart, we used to hold Christmas merchandise in the back until ...



October 1st.



That was the rule. Christmas stuff had to stay in the back until October 1st. From there on out, it was fair game.

Annnnnd ... that was 20 years ago. IT HAS BEEN 20 YEARS SINCE I WORKED AT STEIN MART OMG. One horrifying thought led to another and I realized what has changed.


I've changed.

I'm far more aware of the passage of time. Weeks fly by in a blink now. An entire elementary school year could fit into a current grown-up month. I want to cling to each minute as it passes by because there just aren't enough of them.

THAT is why the holiday creep bothers me. It's not because it's too early -- it's the same early as it has been forever. It's because the creep reminds me that time is passing too quickly. Go figure that the kid who couldn't possibly care less is perfectly content with the holiday creep while the grandma of the situation wants to cling to seconds.

Get off my lawn, whippersnappers. In my day, stores didn't have Christmas stuff until a month before Halloween.

And I liked it.

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Caramel Apple Dip

I have no idea where Mila would get such a thing (ahem), but she seems to think that dips qualify as a food group. She will drink queso with a straw, she eats ketchup with a spoon, and she's always dipping all of her foods in all of the things.

I question guacamole on watermelon, by the way. She swears by it, but I question it.

One of her favorite dips is caramel and she super likes it with Granny Smith apples. That's great and all, but she's a mess. Always. That kid lives to carry around filth. Thus, I try to keep her caramel consumption at bay. I basically just prefer that every surface in the house not be covered with a sticky film.

So, in my attempt to give the kid caramel dip for her apple slices, I bring you Caramel Apple Dip. 

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Of course there's a fork in the dip in that picture. OF COURSE THERE IS.

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Mila takes the dip food group very seriously. Sometimes she even needs silverware to facilitate its consumption. The good news is that this dip isn't terrible messy. That was exactly the goal. At the same time, it still tastes really REALLY good. That happens, of course, when you combine caramel with cream cheese.

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Caramel Apple Dip

1 8-oz package cream cheese, softened
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
Crushed nuts 

1.  In a small skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Stir and continue to let it sizzle until it browns and begins to smell nutty.

2. Add the brown sugar and stir some more. Remove from heat and add the vanilla and salt. Beware: adding the vanilla will cause it to bubble a lot.

3. Stir the caramel up really well, then toss it in a medium mixing bowl with the cream cheese. Beat until smooth.

4. Place in a serving bowl then top with a handful of crushed nuts. Refrigerate until cooled. Serve with apple slices or just go ahead and hand it to Mila. She can find a way to eat it even without silverware.