Preschool is back in session! And to kick off the school year, our preschool is hosting an Upscale Bake Sale this weekend. How fun! Being “upscale,” I had to pause for a minute. What to make?! We decided to turn to a recent family favorite that gives us all the fall feels for our bake sale submission: Crème Brûlée Cheesecake!
One of my favorite things about this upscale treat: it’s really not hard to make, but looks amazing. I made this for the first time this summer for a Father’s Day dinner, combining two of my husband’s favorite desserts. It was also my first EVER cheese cake. That’s right. I am 32 years old and my maid of honor put a springform pan on my wedding registry nine years ago, and I finally used it. A couple months ago. Now I want to make ALL the cheesecakes! Another great thing about this recipe is how much my oldest can help me make it. We’re making it for the third time and she’s got it down. They keep getting better and better. I really hope these recipes and memories stick with her, as does her love for baking.
So here it goes!
Aside from the ingredients listed, you will need a springform pan, roasting pan (or other deep pan), aluminum foil, and a torch for the crunchy sugar topping.
Addie had two favorite steps, both at the beginning. She had a blast crushing all of the graham crackers for the crust and opening the cream cheese packets. After the cake went in the oven I let her lick the cream cheese wrappers, and honestly THAT was probably her favorite part of the whole experience. Maybe even more so than eating the cheesecake! You COULD opt for boxed graham cracker crumbs for the crust, but letting your kids take over this task is so much fun AND the inconsistency of texture gives the crust a great homemade touch.
To save yourself a little time, make the crust first and then start a pot of boiling water before starting on the filling. I have an electric kettle which heats up fast and holds 1 liter of water and it’s still not QUITE enough to surround my cake pan in my roasting pan, so I opted for a big pot of boiling water this time. There’s a reason waiting for water to boil is in so many unpleasant expressions. It definitely takes a good bit of time. Once you make your filling and pour over that sweet, sweet crust…stick it in the oven and sit back and relax. For an hour and a half your home will smell like warm vanilla, and even on an August day that will get you in the mood for all the fall things soon to come.
One of the reasons I loved this recipe when I came across it was the cool/chill time. For a cheesecake, it’s a pretty quick bake! Cool for 1 hour at room temp before sticking in the fridge. It will still feel warm, and you can cool for longer, but it really isn’t necessary. After a minimum of 5 hours (or overnight if you can wait that long), remove cake from the fridge and add your topping.
When it’s time to add the classic crème brûlée crust, let your kids watch instead of assist. Sprinkle sugar (course decorating sugar or regular table sugar) evenly on top and start torching. It’s pretty fun. Make sure to keep the torch moving so you don’t scorch your cheese cake! Then dive right in, the mix of a cold cake and warm topping just adds to the autumn perfection. (Tip: Goes great with coffee!)
Try it? Love it? Do it differently? Let us know! We hope to continue to share some of the favorite recipes from our kitchens from time to time, especially as the holidays get ever closer.
Try as you may to avoid it, having kids changes your social life, and I think for some people who have yet to have kids it’s hard to understand why the change is often very drastic.
“Why don’t you just have someone watch them for a little bit?” “Why don’t you sleep when they sleep?” “Why don’t you try telling them ‘no’?” “When I have kids they are going to listen to me, that’s for sure.” “At least since they are staying up late they will sleep in!” “Noisy kids in a restaurant is one of my biggest pet peeves.” “Just bring them with you!”
No, no, no.
This is a super sinister comparison, but what the heck, having kids is like contracting a virus. No, more like a lifelong disease. It impacts every single aspect of your being. How you breathe, how you sleep, what you can and can’t do, how you feel. It literally alters how you think. Are there ways around this? Sure thing! Some people manage to travel the world with their babies and change very little about the life they lived before. But for most of us, it will forever change how we live our lives. We need our friends who are not yet parents to understand that we are still us, and we still are still friends, we may just ask to do a few things differently. Just bear with us.
Most of you know Kate and I are military spouses. Among other things, that means we live away from home. Away from family and friends, and our husbands are often gone. When we have someone else watch our kids, it’s either A) each other, or B) relying on a stranger. And I know you don’t yet have kids to worry about, but it’s a scary world out there, and I am not that mom that interviews babysitters. I need to know you, I need to trust you. That may seem like a helicopter mom thing to say, but my next door neighbor told me her 18 month old was killed in a daycare fire, so no, I think I would rather bring my child along to our coffee date rather than hand them off to someone else. I think about 75% of parenthood is worrying about all the things that could happen. And even if I do get a babysitter, that’s costs money and doesn’t really relieve any stress because I have to anticipate everything he or she may need, pack it, and then worry about it the whole time we are hanging out. Sure, we watch each others kids from time to time, but that is no easy feat either, so please understand that sometimes it’s not that easy to just leave young children with someone else to get a little time away, no matter how much we need it. Conversely, it’s not always easy to just bring kids with us, because then we actually have to watch them instead of holding an adult conversation or enjoying the party. However; and this is very important, PLEASE KEEP INVITING US. We want to come and be our old selves, we want to feel included, we want to spend time with you too.
As a stay at home mom, I simultaneously feel like I don’t have a job, and also I have a job that never stops. I respect my friends that work full-time (and then some), especially those that work weird hours. I am glad I don’t have to do that. But please know that even though I am home all day, my life is also exhausting. I don’t get to sleep in. Ever. No one makes meals for me. I am a 24/7 Google search bar for my preschooler whose curious little brain wants to know why all the things are the way they are. I’m also a complaint box for my toddler who screams at me in a foreign language and I’m pretty sure would give me one star on Yelp. I am extremely thankful that I get to be a SAHM, but sometimes I want to complain. I want to vent. I want my friends to understand that my day spent at home was long and hard. You may think I get to play with kids all day and that’s awesome, and yes in many ways it is, but sometimes I want to just hide in the bath tub and listen to white noise, which by the way I can’t do because someone will probably harm themselves in the 30 seconds I am gone. And if I do get to sneak away for some “me” time, I always feel like I’m staring at a stopwatch, seeing seconds fly by and feeling like I need to get back to my kids. So please know that my job may not be the same as your job, but it’s a hard job, and just like you complain about yours, I may want to complain about mine too.
You would think that with all the hours in the day, I could clean or do laundry while I’m at home. You probably look at my laundry on the couch or see dishes in the sink and think “Man, if I have a full-time job and do this, why can’t she find the time?” Or actually you probably don’t think that at all, you’d help me in a heartbeat if I asked, but that’s what I am worrying that you are thinking because I often feel like I should be able to do it all. Trying to get anything done during the day when your kids are home is like trying to type a research paper with an undo button on repeat every 10 seconds. I put toys away, it’s instantly the most fascinating thing in the room and my kids must play with it. I fold laundry and my preschooler wants to “help”, which really means take laundry from the folded pile and try to fold each one again. Cooking meals takes extra time because I have to tell my kids, “it’s hot!”, “don’t touch!”, and “stay back please!” a million times, and again the preschooler wants to help. I once sent my friends a picture of dirty laundry in color-sorted piles lining my hallway and one friend said, “I don’t think I have ever seen that much dirty laundry in my life.” It didn’t hurt my feelings. It was a lot of laundry. When you have two small children who are messy eaters and play in the dirt and the water you never get to have empty laundry baskets, that’s for sure! And FYI, if you sleep when the baby sleeps, that means you never get any of the above done either. It’s very unfortunate.
Have I gotten annoyed at a baby crying in a movie theater? Sure. A lot of things used to bother me before having kids. I never knew getting crapped on could actually bother me so little, but what do you know?! Please know that some parents take their kids places as a way to enjoy their time together (not doing kid things) and that means that the kids can get a little bored. Having fussy kids in a restaurant is MUCH MORE annoying to us than it is to you, trust me, we just may not show it on our faces. We have to choose our battles and therefore our frustration at our kids often lives deep inside and slowly just eats away at our souls, that’s all. We also would prefer our kid not cry or throw rolls but to us, it’s worth it to have a little time out when we are used to cooking mac n cheese. We are sorry that our kids cause a ruckus. We wish that wasn’t the case too, but kids are kids.
Trying to talk to kids when you don’t have kids can be challenging. I’ve been there myself. Sometimes you don’t even know what they are trying to tell you. You smile and nod and say “ohhh, cool!” on repeat. But please be mindful of what you say when they are around, because they are ALWAYS listening. Even in a conversation you are having with me, they are listening, and they will ask questions later. Also, some common topics to avoid: dead pets, Santa, sweet treats or any food not currently in my house, and anything scary. If I spend MONTHS convincing my child that ghosts do not exist, and you come in and they say, “What was that noise?” and you say “A ghost, eek!” I will gut you with my eyes. True story. Getting kids to eat vegetables, getting kids to not be scared, these are just some of the things we spend so many man hours on, please don’t ruin it for us! And if you mention some food that we don’t have I am going to hear about it every day until I buy it.
Please know that kids also defy logic. If they stay up two hours after their bedtime, they will not sleep in later. They will wake up at the same friggin’ time with an attitude like they have a hangover. There is this thing called “overtired” where they get SO tired that they are actually restless, and it is real. And it is scary. So if we have to leave early or skip an event because of child nap times or bedtimes, please know it is for our own sanity. We wish we could be there. If we make an exception for you, you know that we must like you a whole lot! A young kid staying up late is similar to Daylights Savings, it takes several days to adjust after.
I want to be clear that I am not speaking to my friends directly, or any friend in particular. (Except you Jeremy, the ghost comment was not cool!) This is just an open letter to things I have heard or had said over the years. All of this is in good fun. As parents, we are used to the stereotypical sayings and assumptions. We get it ALL THE TIME. Even from other parents. The point is, we don’t really know anyone’s whole life, do we? The friend that works 60+ hours a week in the medical field, the mother of one who has to give her child multiple medical treatments each day, the friend without kids who desperately wants kids, the mother of five under five who barely keeps her head above water but always has a smile on her face. We don’t know, so we don’t judge. Or we try not to. There is always someone worse off than you. There is always someone better off than you. The best you can do is be understanding. When a friend says they can’t come, they can’t talk right now, believe the best in them. Give them the benefit of the doubt. Believe that they are trying to juggle all the things, but right now something is more important and it is not a reflection of you. Also know that we don’t just assume you think badly of us. You overlook our laundry and dishes and restaurant tantrums and so much more with understanding eyes. Sometimes we just worry we don’t have it all together, just like I’m sure you do.
To my friends without kids, I love you. Thank you for being my friends. Thank you for letting me be yours.
It’s 5:30am. Still dark. My preschooler walks in, to my side of the bed of course. I nudge my husband. “Can you get up with the kids? I had a rough night.”
You can tell them, but they won’t know. They may see the tip of the iceberg that is motherhood, but they don’t see what lies underneath. The feelings behind the tears, the mom guilt, the aching body, the worry you aren’t doing things right, the magic and overwhelming exhaustion of what it means to be the one everyone needs something from. To be mom.
Last night I was rocking my toddler back to sleep. It was 4am. The one who rarely wakes overnight anymore. The one who hardly ever wakes up crying. I heard her fuss, heard discomfort in her cry, and glanced at the clock. For thirty seconds or so I continued to listen without moving. Was she in pain? Was it her teeth? Is she sick? Maybe she’s thirsty. Will she go back to bed? Beside me, my husband sleeps. I roll out of bed and fill a cup of water, grab a new diaper, and head into her room. She giggles. “Great, I’ve been duped,” I think. She sips water while I change her diaper, then I rock with her for a bit. My mind drifts between wishing for my bed and realizing one day I’ll wish for this moment again, when she’s small enough to cuddle and rock in my arms. I hug her a little tighter, stay in her room a little longer, and try to be thankful she’s okay and all is well.
A few hours before this, my preschooler came in. She went to bed at 10pm, pretty much yanking any “me time” right out from under me. My husband and I tried to watch a movie together, and I fell asleep on the couch. So now it’s past midnight, and she’s standing by the bed. My side, of course. She doesn’t want to sleep in her room. She can’t find her bear. She’s thirsty. I rolled out of bed, got her more water, found the missing bear, tucked her in, told her goodnight. I crawl back in bed and wonder if she’s going to go back to an early bedtime? Will she eventually start to sleep in? Today is the first day back at preschool. I hope she doesn’t catch as many viruses as she did last year. Am I giving her enough attention? What can I do today to help her learn? Beside me, my husband sleeps. Eventually I drift back to sleep too. For a bit.
I was unprepared for the constant mental exhaustion that is motherhood. Mom brains run 24/7. A mantra I repeat to myself when I get overwhelmed is “Worry is a prayer for the unwanted.” I know it’s true, but worry is inevitable. Am I strong enough for this? We want another child, can I handle it? Am I patient enough? Who will I ask to help me if one of my kids has to go to the ER and my husband is gone? I hate asking for help. Will I be able to ask for help? I lost my temper today. Will that effect them long term? Are they going to have tempers too? Are they going to be kind to others? Am I kind enough to them? Am I doing my best?
These are thoughts that go through my mind all the time. When I have a quiet moment to myself, when I am trying to fall asleep, when I am holding back tears. I try to self-soothe by reassuring myself I wouldn’t be given more than I can handle. I have great family. My kids are good kids. I have friends who will help if I ask. There are families who deal with so much, we have it so good. I know these things are true, but they don’t erase the words that fill my mind in the silence. Beyond the worries, there’s filling up our mental plates: What is for dinner? When is their next dentist appointment? Did I pay preschool tuition? What can I plan for today to keep these little people active? Are there any bills I forgot about? When should kids know their ABC’s, are we behind? When does my car need an oil change? Stolen sleep. Silent worries. A neverending to-do list. A house that is never as clean as I’d like. A project left incomplete. A book unread. Laundry for days. Mom guilt. Stress. Feeling less than. Waking up feeling this way, before even the sun. Beside me, he sleeps. He’ll never know.
It’s hard, feeling the weight of all this, the weight that is motherhood, before the sun even rises. When you’re exhausted and can’t rest. You can say it, explain it, cry it out, he can even take a shift now and then, but he’ll never know what it’s like all the time. Just like I’ll never know his stresses at work, or what it’s like to leave his babies for months at a time, even half a year. Worrying about providing for his family. Worrying about retirement. Missing holidays and birthdays and milestones while he’s away. I’ll never know.
Motherhood is hard. Fatherhood is hard. Parenting is hard. These are facts.
I have amazing children. I can handle anything thrown my way. I am a great mom. These are also facts.
To anyone who feels like they aren’t enough, or whose emotions go misconstrued, or who cries when you feel you shouldn’t, just know we all feel that way sometimes. It means you are better than you think, braver than you know, and as strong as you need to be. When you are grumpy and short-tempered with your family and worry everyone sees you as a monster, take comfort in this: Your husband knows the real you, he knows you are tired, and is thankful for everything you do. He isn’t thinking badly about you, he just hopes you’re okay. Your kids forgot about it almost as soon as it happened. They are worried about snacks and playtime, and they will still choose you over dad for everything. Your babies love you endlessly, they are loving little blank canvases. They just want to touch you and be near you, no matter what you say or do. The only person upset at you, is you. And you are doing just fine.