Gingerbread Cookies with Eggnog and White Chocolate Filling

My childhood friend and neighbor, Stacey, dropped me a note this morning. While watching Christmas movies on Netflix, she was inspired to go through her files to look for some Christmas recipes.  In 1991, her now-deceased mom wrote out all of her recipes as a Christmas gift. On each note card, her mom wrote who gave her the recipe and my domestic goddess mom’s name was written on many of  the files.

“It’s just kind of beautiful,” Stacey wrote. “I feel like I am spending the day with both of our moms today (and yes, I am ugly crying as I type this!)”

Given my mom’s poor health, I, too was touched that her legacy continues to live on.  Our Christmases were a flurry of activity in the kitchen with her famous Christmas pudding (and that amazing white sauce), shortbread cookies, amazing pies and thoughtful gifts. Our house was decked out in holidays colors and lights and the snow. How I loved the snow! We’d bundle up and go skating at the community center or go sledding in the gully, followed by cozying up to our fireplace with hot chocolate. There is something so powerful about the traditions and recipes we pass down through the generations.

I have a new recipe to add to that list. With three of my very favorite flavors–gingerbread, eggnog and white chocolate–melded together in one recipe, this cookie is my own Christmas miracle.

I adapted this recipe from the blog Two Cups Flour and if you like your gingerbread with stronger, more rustic flavors, this is the way to go. Next time around, I’m going to make my own gingerbread recipe that is a tad bit sweeter but either way, it’s full of sugar and spice and everything nice.

Here’s to our mothers, traditions and a holiday that reminds us of that love.

Gingerbread Cookies with Eggnog and White Chocolate Filling

  • 3 Cups All-Purpose Flour
  • 2 tsp Ground Ginger
  • 2 tsp Ground Cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp Nutmeg or allspice
  • 1 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1/4 tsp Salt
  • 10 Tbsp Unsalted Butter softened
  • 1/2 Cup Brown Sugar (their recipe called for dark; I prefer light)
  • 1 Egg
  • 1/2 Cup Molasses
  • 3 Tbsp  Pure Maple Syrup

Topping

  • 1/4 Cup Granulated Sugar for rolling gingerbread balls

Eggnog White Chocolate

  • 2 Cups White Chocolate Chips or Chopped Baking Bar
  • 1/4 Cup Eggnog
  • Dash of nutmeg (optional)

Instructions

Cookie Dough

  1. In a large bowl, sift the dry ingredients (flour with baking soda, spices, and salt). Set aside.
  2. In a mixer, beat together the softened butter with brown sugar until creamy.
  3. Add egg, molasses, and maple syrup to the butter mixture. Mix together on medium until combined.
  4. Slowly add the flour mixture, ensuring it is thoroughly mixed before adding the next portion.
  5. Form the dough into a large ball, wrap and plastic and chill in the fridge for 30-45 minutes.
  6. Preheat Oven to 350 F and grease the cookie sheet.
  7. Measure 1 Tbsp of cookie dough and roll into small balls with your hands. Place each cookie dough ball into a bowl with the granulated sugar, roll around for a light coating. Place dough balls 2 inches apart on cookie sheet.
  8. Bake cookies for 6-7 minutes until almost cooked (don’t bake cookies until they are hard; they will firm up as they cool down).
  9. Once they are cooled, take your teaspoon and gently press down your ‘thumbprint’ in the middle. Note: Don’t go lower than halfway through cookie.
  10. Let cookies cool completely before filling with eggnog white chocolate.

Eggnog White Chocolate Filling

Warm the eggnog and combine with white chocolate chips in a microwave-safe bowl, stirring every 30 minutes until melted and smooth (a double-boiler is great, too).  Transfer eggnog and white chocolate to a piping bag or a Ziploc bag with a cut corner. Pipe into thumbprint of cooled cookies and leave for 30 minutes to set. Sprinkle with cinnamon and store in an air-tight container.

Moody November: Survived!

Can we just be honest here? Jamie and I both agree that November is probably our least favorite month of the year. We’re adjusting to shorter days, dark nights, the beautiful fall leaves are gone but there is not yet enough snow to have any fun. We have somehow survived another November but thankfully, DECEMBER is pretty glorious! Here are our happenings:

Hadley

Hadley had an epiphany today: she loves art. Good gosh, we’ve only been trying to remind our wandering, lost soul of this pretty much every day since we moved to Utah. (You would think winning last year’s middle school art competition would have reminded her of this but nope).  She is currently taking painting in school and told me today she’s going to switch to the advanced painting next semester. She was really excited that if she stays on this track, she can take an AP Art class where she will get college credit. For a kid who sometimes struggles academically (though she has been doing better in high school), it’s a big confidence boost that yes, she is awesome at something! Let the Bodes of the world take AP math; the artists are who makes this world beautiful. I need to start doing some research on buying her some more advanced brushes and paints. She is currently in her room creating, creating, creating. She would do this for hours in Arvada and it makes me happy to see her slowly figuring out her passions…while fighting us every step of the way because she is, after all, still Hadley.

Bode

Twelve is such a silly, beautiful age. Not yet a man, but no longer a boy. He is taking free coding classes at the library with his buddies but I love that they still want to play hide-and-seek afterward while waiting to be picked up. He’s doing well in school, is learning to play the sax and starts cross-country skiing at Soldier Hollow next month. We have an incredible Scout leader who takes them camping every month and a good group of boys who meet weekly. He and I were asked to play a piano duet in church. When I asked him, he looked like he was going to throw up–then cry. He has worked his way through those emotions to a steady laissez-faire attitude and I really wish he’d be a wee bit more hands-on because I, too will be publicly humiliated due to his lack of practicing. He’s still one of the easiest, happiest kids I know but he’s turning 13 next year and I know better than anyone the fiery pits that are teenage hell. Yay.

Jamie

Jamie finally chopped up his pumpkin and disposed of it behind our fence (the deer will have a nice snack all winter). He is going to make some big changes with his web development business in 2019. We have had a few loyal employees but are continually frustrated we just can’t get ahead, especially with all of the financial hits we’ve taken since the move (he counted them up a few months ago: $30,000 of expenses last year; it’s a miracle we’re not in the poor house). But we’re still paying our tithing and for that, we have been blessed. Jamie feels like he needs to take a leap of faith and remove himself of the day-to-day web development, do more project management and sales, and hire more people and an accounting firm. We’ve avoided taking any big chances and have been slowly growing over the years but it has come to the point where we’re tired of just getting by and need to make some changes. He was the director of new media for one of the biggest newspapers in the country! He’s brilliant and visionary…and we just need to take the leap. But there will be definite growing pains, especially because we don’t have much of a safety net.

Me

Still here. No real updates. I’m six weeks out from knee surgery and I’ve been trying to consistently work out the last couple of weeks which is helping with my physical therapy. I got sick a couple of weeks after knee surgery…and caught another cold Thanksgiving weekend so I’m pretty much ready for 2018 to be OVER and I’m eager to implement a fitness regimen with my new-and-improved knee. But the best news of all is my friend Lisa caught wind of a $300 fare to Calgary for Christmas…and we nabbed it. I’ve been pretty bummed out I haven’t been home for the holidays for several years because there’s nothing like a Borowski Christmas! I still feel like I’m trying to find my way here and I miss the person I was before we moved. I love building, connecting, influencing and making a difference. I’m not a going-through-the-motions kind of person and being bereft of a real passion/purpose since moving is a constant source of frustration for me.

But do you know what? Life is good. A lot of last spring’s drama has simmered down and we’re having a season of calm before the next bottom drops out. :-)

We just returned from a glorious Thanksgiving weekend at our favorite place on earth: The Broadmoor. I need to crank out that magazine article and then I’ll do some updates here.

Another one of my favorite traditions is the kids wake up 10-15 minutes early before school, pile into our king-sized bed, and snuggle and snooze until it’s time to get ready. Jamie hates it because he misses out on precious sleep but I’m of the attitude, “These kids are growing up too quickly and gosh darn it, if they still want to snuggle (even if it means they’re manipulating me to let them stay in bed longer), SO BE IT!”

P.S. Fat Kitty secretly loves it, too.

XO

 

The Johnson Boys Do San Francisco!

Jamie and Bode had a fantastic boy’s trip to San Francisco a few weeks ago. Earlier this year, Bode set the goal to read the Book of Mormon and has made reading the scriptures a part of his nighttime routine. He recently finished the Book of Mormon and is now part-way through the Doctrine and Covenants.

When the youth turn 12, they enter the Young Men/Young Women organization at church. It’s a pretty special time and I wanted to take each of them on a trip…but that never happened. So when Bode finished the Book of Mormon, *that* seemed like the opportune time for celebration.

Bode is an easy-going, happy-go-lucky fella but it also made trying to find a destination difficult because he really didn’t have any preferences (vs. Hadley who has a gazillion travel passions). He and Jamie finally settled upon San Francisco, and I found cheap flights for a one-night stay. They left early Friday morning, flew into Oakland, took BART into San Francisco, played hard all day, bunked down at the Argonaut hotel near the pier (a great Hotwire find), and put in another full day before flying out Saturday night. They were exhausted but had a blast.

The Past

Bode’s first trip to San Francisco was when he was three months old. Jamie was still at The Denver Post and he had a conference at the Half Moon Bay Ritz-Carlton. There was no way I was missing that so Bode and I jumped on-board for a luxurious couple of nights at the Ritz. While Jamie was in meetings and golfing with Yahoo and Google execs, Bode and I explored the gorgeous cliffs overlooking California’s coastline and Half Moon Bay’s charming shops.. I truly fell in love with that area.

For the third night, we went to San Francisco, arguably one of the best cities in the world. We walked EVERYWHERE with Bode in his stroller, rain often pouring down but Bode ever-happy and as snug-as-a-bug under his blankets. That night, we stayed at the Ramada San Francisco on our dime. When we arrived, there was chicken wire on all the windows and a lovely warning sign that that said, “There were known carcinogens and cancer-causing materials in the building.”  From the Ritz to THIS? Lovely!  I wouldn’t let my sweet baby touch anything that night and kept him in his carseat; we somehow survived.

The Present

This boy’s trip was extremely eventful (and without the threat of radiation, even!) They arrived in San Francisco on BART and proceeded to walk and walk and walk. Two blocks from the train station, they ran into a 1,700-pound pumpkin which was a sure sign God was watching out for them (according to Jamie).

Other sites included exploring Pier 39 and the 7-D Experience (they shot a lot of zombies), a historic video arcade (they played Jamie’s childhood classics Asteroids and Battlezone),  watched the seals sumo-wrestle on the platform, reveled in the street performers and a one-man band, and checked out the World War II submarines.

That afternoon, they took the ferry to tour Alkatraz, definitely the highlight of the trip. Jamie says he got some punishment ideas for messy rooms.

They eventually limped back to the hotel, their feet bursting with blisters. Jamie wanted to get some corn chowder and sourdough bread for dinner, so they watched the World Series on TV at the hotel restaurant. They wanted to do some more exploring but Bode was dead-tired so they compromised: Jamie suggested they walk to find dessert and Bode was rejuvenated with the prospect of Tim Horton doughnuts.

I talked to Bode at the hotel and he sounded like he was ready to pass out–and did so at 8 p.m. (9 p.m. MST), insisting Jamie turn off the TV so he could hit the sack. Jamie and I had a good chuckle about this. When most kids are always pushing bedtime boundaries, Bode has ALWAYS listened to his body and usually goes to sleep on his own. I feel his pain; I hate staying up late.

On Saturday, they had crepes for breakfast and Bode was given the choice of what they should do for the day so he opted to rent bikes and ride across the Golden Gate Bridge, another highlight! Or it would have been have a layer of fog not settled upon the bridge *right* as they were crossing it, obstructing any views of the Bay.

They continued biking to Sausalito as Jamie commented, “Mom would love this town,” which was sure nice of them to think of me when I was holed up at home recovering from knee surgery.

Bode and Jamie continued biking all the way to a small Redwood Forest but opted not to hit the larger trees because it was quite the hike and they were short on time and energy (they biked about 20 miles that day!) They hopped the ferry along with the gazillion other people with bikes, raced over to BART and made it to the airport just in time.

All in all, a successful boy’s trip and now my goal is to help Hadley read the Book of Mormon so we can enjoy a girl’s trip of our own.

 

Mount Timpanogos or Bust!

Bode’s final adventure of the summer was an overnight Scout adventure up up up Mount Timpanogos. Jamie joined him on this tedious climb–a 15 mile-round-trip trek that is not for the faint of heart…or knees.

The boys left Friday morning, hiked for 8 hours, and set-up camp a couple of hours from the summit. The plan was to wake up in the middle of the night and summit at sunrise–what a memorable way to experience this iconic peak for the first time!

Meanwhile back at basecamp (a.k.a. our house), Hadley and I had a restful sleep in our beds (though were worried about the storm brewing over Timp, which made for an interesting night for the boys). That morning, we hiked the Silver Lake to Ontario Loop at Deer Valley, which was a fabulous blend of aspens and gorgeous views of Jordanelle Reservoir at the summit….and the FREE chairlift down. We then lunched at Zupas and back-to-school shopped ’til we dropped. 

As for the boys, they woke up at 4 a.m. for a sunrise summit and put in another exhausting 8 hours on Saturday. There were boys of all ability levels and not all of them summitted but every single one of them was pushed beyond their limits and they should be darn proud. Jamie said Bode didn’t complain at all and was one of the fastest hikers, which is pretty amazing because this was by far his toughest hike ever.

And I’m convinced there is a special place in heaven for Scout leaders; ours carried his backpack and someone else’s near the end. Now when Bode and Jamie look at the view from our back deck, they can be proud they climbed that beast…and they hope to not do it again anytime soon.

Happy Halloween 2018

It’s true I was in mourning last Halloween as I realized my kids have mostly aged out of the revelries (with the exception of Bode who still went trick-or-treating).  This year, he had a school social (though it wasn’t so social because he avoided the dance at all costs) and later connected with his neighborhood buddies for some hard-core treat canvassing.

He maaaaay have one year left but we shall see.

As for me, I’m still in knee recovery mode and felt the plague coming on the night before..and was super sick by Halloween. So I got to stay home yet again with the Fat Cat. Hurray!

It was still a good night. Our neighbors go all-out–some make fresh doughnuts. Others have hot dogs, a firepit and doughnuts. And I know one crazy house with giant pumpkins.

with Stockton, Will, Miles, Georgia and Chloe

See this guy here? I bought enough candy for 150+ but I didn’t account for the fact he would hand out handfuls of candy….and we ran out in an hour.

On the plus side, Bode is apparently a better planner than I. Before he went trick-or-treating, he called out to me from behind my computer: “Mom, how do you spell D-I-A-B-E-T-E-S?”

Gotta know just how much candy you can eat.

Summer 2.0

It was a busy summer! For Bode, he had Junior PGA Golf League, Little Shredders Mountain Biking and Sailing Camp (with Hadley).

For Hadley, she had Girl’s Camp (with yours truly as Camp Director), BYU volleyball camp, and not to be forgotten: pioneer trek. Our good friends, the Homers, were her Ma and Pa and they put her in charge of their family’s flag which turned out AWESOME! 


She enjoyed herself with the pre-Trek square dancing and had a great time on the trail. Their family was the first to round the final bend so who would be the crazy girl who RAN the last mile? In her pioneer skirt? After a few days on the trail?
She came in first but let’s just say she walked like a cowboy for the next two days. #C-H-A-F-I-N-G.

The kids and I put in approximately a gazillion hours of yardwork while Jamie did at least two gazillion. But we finally seeded it and have a lawn! This is the before shot; after will will be next summer.

When you’re bored…you grow (or draw) wings.
When we moved to Midway, I thought my dream of having a cabin in the mountains was realized…until we visited the Kuch’s cabin in Oakley that is only accessible via snowmobiles in the winter. This place is sheer magic.

There were some awesome hikes with friends, including this gorgeous loop with Rachel to Lackawaxen Lake and Bloods Lake.

Fat Kitty. Still Fat. Still fabulous.

And not to be forgotten: A glorious reunion with Jamie’s family in Yellowstone. Our brother-in-law’s family owns two cabins on the Henry’s Fork, a tributary of the Snake River. For three days, we Yellowstoned (with a gazillion other people), played games, ate delicious food, kayaked, SUPed, Jackson Holed and chilled on the glorious deck. 

Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone

Next up is the final adventure of the summer: Summitting Mount Timpanogos.

Oh Canada: Alberta Edition

OK, so the Calgary version of our summer travels is a few months overdue but better late than never, right? Go here in case you missed Oh Canada: The Lakehouse Part I. 

Generally, the kids and I spend a few weeks in Canada but now that I’m working, we had to cram it all into two weeks, including four days of drive time. The good news is that even though I did the entire drive myself, our newish Honda Pilot didn’t break down even once!

The drive to Calgary from British Columbia goes through Banff National Park and one of these days, I’d love to spend an extended amount of time exploring. Moraine Lake has been on our bucket list since the car overheated at the turn-off last year…and the road was closed because all the lots were full (welcome to Banff in the summertime). This year was our second attempt and once again, the turn-off was closed so we did a loop around the Chateau Lake Louise and as we were driving back down, the road miraculously opened!

What a difference a few years makes.

We only had a few days in Calgary so spent lots of downtime with Mom and Dad that included Mom’s happy place: PEDICURES.

Biking with Dad in Fish Creek Provincial Park. Even at 77 years old, my dad still keeps up with me on our long rides but hills are getting harder so he bought a pedal-assist bike…and has clocked 1,000 miles in just three months. Today during our 16-miler, he raced past a teenager, shouting out, “You’re pretty fast but we’re faster” and later posted that it took him longer than usual because I was holding him back. 

And a visit to Calgary wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the mud pits. The good: The glorious 70-degree temps warmed up just enough to enjoy an afternoon hike to our secret mud pits/swimming hole. The bad: Right after Bode [intentionally] face-planted in the mud, he announced he accidentally spit out his gum.

We didn’t make it to Peter’s for their famous milkeshakes but REGRUB is a new favorite. Cheesecake. S’mores. Cotton candy. Birthday cake. Doughnut toppings. We fasted all day for their milkshakes and they did not disappoint.

Our time in Calgary was waaaaay too short but I was thrilled to spend a night at my favorite place on earth: Waterton Lakes National Park. Dad joined us a for a fun day in the park and we stayed the night at my mom’s cousin Judy’s farmhouse 20 minutes away.

It has been several years since we returned and I had envisioned how it would play out. Hike Bear’s Hump for epic views. Play in Red Rock Canyon’s natural obstacle course. Maybe even canoe at Cameron Lake.

Unbeknownst to me, last year’s huge fire closed a large portion of the park, including my favorite hiking areas. Fortunately, Plan B in Waterton is just as glorious. We lunched at the Prince of Wales Hotel with some of the best views in the world (and I ran into my student writer Grace who just happened to be there for a family reunion).

Riding surrey bikes has been on my Waterton bucket list for ages but what I didn’t remember is just how hard it was…and how much we laughed at how hard it was. At one point, I jumped out to push the bike up the hill because it was such a killer workout. And we returned them 30 minutes early. Note to self: Sometimes reality isn’t as swell as what you envision.

But the stops along the way were memorable and I can’t wait for another visit to my favorite place on earth with my favorite people.

Fall Happenings in Midway

Day 4 of my knee-surgery-induced incarceration. We shipped the kids off to Grandma’s for a fall break at Hogle Zoo, Dave & Busters, and Fear Factory. Fat Kitty was my greatest supporter, refusing to leave my side and desperately mewing when I spent a half hour in the bathroom. A shower made me felt like a new woman and while I still need to rehab the knee, I’m hopeful we’ve turned the corner and am so grateful for my health. Friends have cooked dinners and Jamie has been a champ, bringing me fresh ice every couple of hours and after a particularly sleepless night, I called down to tell him I was awake and he appeared in my doorway with a warm peach muffin. SCORE!

The weather has been gorgeous this week, which makes being stuck at home a real bummer but now that I’ve weaned myself off my opioids, now is as good of time as any to get caught up on my long-neglected blog! Here are a few happenings:

Uinta Recreation

Need to rent an ATV, snowmobile, motorhome or waverunner in the Heber Valley? Uinta Recreation is the place to go! Jamie has been doing some web work for this awesome company and worked out to have payment done in trade.  On General Conference Saturday, we joined our friends the Homers and Fotheringhams for a gorgeous adventure in Wasatch Mountain State Park. Our friend runs a boat/recreation dealership so gave us a taste of the hundreds of miles of off-road trails as we climbed rocky precipices, flung mud, forged through puddles, and gawked at the last of the golden leaves under a sulky sky. Bode (our forever voice of reason) only told us to slow down twice so I’m calling that a win. It was truly one of my favoritestestest experiences since we moved here!

First Snow

“Suck it up, Buttercup.” Those were my parting words to my friend Lori when she commented the weather for last week’s hike didn’t look so swell. As we were driving up Guardsman Pass, it started raining and then it was complete white-out at the summit and our trail was covered in snow. But my gosh, how breathtaking is this?

We drove down the road a few miles just as the sun started peeking out and were greeted with sheer mountain grandeur on our hike. And then we drove to Park City where I introduced Lori to the mountain grandeur that is “crack bread.” Here’s to not sucking, Buttercup.

 Mountain Mornings

Our first snowy winter in Midway was unmatched but fall and foggy mornings = my second favorite season.

Fall Soccer

Bode wrapped another fun season of playing rec soccer–averaging three goals per game–with Jamie as coach. We went undefeated until the final two games and it’s so fun to see these kids thrive! And see that “kid” next to Jamie in the back row? He’s in seventh grade, 6’4 and weighs 230 pounds. I’m sure the football coaches are salivating.

Bode has also been keeping busy with coding, piano and catalyst math, his advanced math class that crams seventh and eighth grade math into one year. He gives seventh grade a “5 out of 10″ but is chugging along in his typical Bode way. He and Jamie are going on their father-son overnighter to San Francisco next week as a reward for reading the Book of Mormon. I’m thrilled for him. He’s a kid who demands very little and is grateful for everything…it’s nice for him to get some well-deserved recognition.

Hikes

Though the colors haven’t been nearly as spectacular as last year (thanks to that big snow year), we’ve had the chance to enjoy some beautiful hikes. Jamie took me on a date to Park City where we dined at Handle (best steak I’ve had in Utah) and spent the night at the Chateau Deer Valley. Hiking at Park City Ski Area wasn’t the best due to really bad air quality from forest fires but any day spent with my man is a win! 

On one of my Fridays off, a few friends and I drove to Brighton where we hiked three lakes in one day: Lake Mary, Lake Catherine and Dog Lake.

Though high school has had considerably less drama for Hadley and she’s doing really well with all of her classes, it’s tough to see her fumbling through it all without any clear direction or solid friend group. The one good thing about getting cut from the volleyball team is she has turned back to art and spends a lot of time painting (she is taking a painting class this semester and pottery next semester). She still enjoys photography and I just wish I could find someone who could really teach her to do it. For now, she enjoys our casual outings. After she had been sick for a few weeks, she and I snuck away to Cascade Springs for for a much-needed reprieve. She’s a lot like me—when she is outdoors she relaxes, unwinds and heals.

Final Fall Fling

The Church owns several private properties so when the opportunity arose to go to Aspen Lakes for the evening, we joined several friends for a fun night of canoeing, paddleboarding, ziplining, and obstacle coursing.

All this, just 30 minutes from our house. That is what we call a fall win!

The glory of knee surgery!

I know, I still have yet to write about my summer updates but the big news ’round here is I had surgery to repair my meniscus I tore while trail running two years ago. With all of our medical bills this year, we almost reached our deductible so Jamie approached me about finally getting it done. I mean, 50% off knee surgery? What a bargain. If you count spending thousands of dollars on a temporary fix “a bargain” but if I can get some semblance of my life back, I’m all-in.

If you’re going to get your knee scoped, there is no better man than Dr. Cooley in Park City who is contracted with the U.S. Ski Team and Tiger Woods. I don’t remember much from my right knee surgery five years ago so wanted to detail all of the glorious details here.

1) Upon check-in, they requested a urine sample to ensure I was not pregnant. I told the nurse, “If I’m pregnant, I’ve got bigger problems than this knee.”

2) As I changed in my lovely hospital gown, Jamie and I overheard repeated staffers talk about a patient who neglected to leave his underwear on. Apparently flashing the staff during surgery is not optimal. I left mine on for kicks and giggles.

3)  The team at Park City Hospital was relatively quick and efficient. I checked in at 10:45 a.m. and was outta there by 2:30 p.m. Everyone was really funny and nice except for the anesthesiologist but when you’re the Drug Man, everyone loves you.

4) As he wheeled me into the operating room, I commented it was “Canadian cold” in there and I was out three seconds later. I suspect foul play.

5) When I woke up in post-op, I remember two things: shivering uncontrollably and discussing giant pumpkins and the upcoming pumpkin regatta. I was apparently delusional.

6) I have awesome friends who are continually checking in on me and bringing me tasty food.  Thank-you tasty friends! P.S. I’m still on drugs.

7) Percocet makes me wanna party all night long. It wasn’t really a tortuous all-nighter: I just laid there listening to Fat Kitty and Jamie synchronize their heavy breathing while I felt pretty buzzed. The doc suggested I switch to Tylenol so I can hopefully get some sleep tonight.

8) I have a nifty tube that connects to my knee from an ice machine. It doesn’t help the sleep situation but swelling (and pain) are subsiding much quicker than my last surgery. I wonder if they have an all-body cooling tube for menopause?

9) I had grandiose Fat Kitty snuggles & Netflix plans but I’m already bored. My new favorite pastime is ringing my cowbell for Caretaker Jamie; my megaphone somehow went missing.

10) Thanks to Grandma for taking the kids so they can have some semblance of a fall break. They’re planning to hit the Hogle Zoo, Dave & Busters and a haunted house, a step up from hanging out at this house of horrors all week.

Here’s to a quick recovery!

And the winner is….

…not Jamie.

With all of our landscaping, this has been a lackluster year for growing pumpkins but Jamie’s pumpkin “Uncle Sam,” was measuring to weigh 800 pounds. In pumpkin circles, this is just an estimate and pumpkins can drastically swing either way when they “go light” or “go heavy;” obviously the latter is the more desirable.

Uncle Sam went really light at 706 pounds and we took fifth place.

It’s one of Jamie’s lightest pumpkins ever but my gosh, can we take a moment and reflect this? He grew a gourd that weighs several hundred pounds!

The largest of the two weigh-offs was a couple of weeks ago at Thanksgiving Point but Hee Haw Farms puts on a great show last weekend as well. It’s too bad my kids have aged out of activities like petting zoos and silo slides because this farm has a lot of fall fun.

This year, my college bestie Lori got addicted to giant pumpkin growing. In fact, as the story goes, she was texting Jamie so much for pumpkin advice this summer that she sent him a message, “Hey, tell Amber I’m going to become a grandma tomorrow” and that is when I put a kibosh on her texting him more than ME. :-)

We had a great time hanging out and her family and her “Cinderella” pumpkin weighed in at 579 pounds. Pretty impressive for a first-timer.

But really, the most impressive of all was that we were big-time winners at the pumpkin drop. We’ve seen them before. Raise pumpkin high above the earth in a crane, watch it drop and spew pumpkin guts everywhere, sometimes even hitting you. But this year, FM 100.3 did something fun: they numbered several ping pong balls, put them in the pumpkin and after the pumpkin was dropped, you race over and if you find a ball with a number, you can claim a prize.

I saw a lot of their swag and wasn’t too interested until someone mentioned they were giving away a trip. Say what?

They kids did it first. Hadley emerged quickly with a numbered ping-pong ball.

“How many kids did you to knock out of the way to get that?” I asked.

“Only a few,” she sheepishly responded. Do I know my girl or what?

Bode came back with a bunch of balls but no number…but a nice girl gave him one of hers.

And what did they win? Bode won a baseball cap and Hadley walked away with a $25 gift card to Dave & Busters.

Then it was the adult division. Jamie was no where to be found so I was on my own. With my crap knee, I didn’t have speed on my side to repositioned myself to the area closest to where the pumpkin dropped, turned my back away when it landed in case a projectile came hurling at me and like a race horse at the starting gate, anticipated the exact moment they said “go,” (OK, maybe I cheated and went a few seconds early). But the adrenaline was pumping and I was in my competitive element.

Bode gave me a sound strategy to skip all the outlier guts and balls and go straight to the middle. It was sound advice. I immediately spotted two numbered ping-ball balls, snagged them and raced over to claim victory: VIP passes to Fear Factory’s house of horrors that Hadley elatedly snatched up and my other prize was a backpack with headphones, a shirt and mug that Bode quickly claimed. Talk about a win!

But back to the pumpkins. While we were waiting for Jamie’s to be weighed, I asked him:

“Hey Jamie, what are the weights of the pumpkins you’ve grown?”

He proceeds to recite every single one.

“Hey Jamie, how much did your children weigh when they were born?

Blank stare.

My work here is done. Or just beginning.