Ethan’s Progress Report

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I am so excited tonight that I am not sure if my words will even make perfect sense. Something happened tonight that was just incredible.  It filled my heart with total and complete joy, and I will get to it all shortly.

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First of all, though, I want to start with my sweet boy’s birthday.  Ethan is now eight, and I have a feeling that it is going to be his best year yet.  Whenever I woke up, I realized that I had not planned a special birthday breakfast for him.  And, well, that just was not going to do.  I had to do something to let him know that it was one of the best days of the whole year. So, I quickly got dressed, jumped in the van, and took off to the doughnut shop at 5:45 AM. Yep, that is fierce momma love for a boy who has changed my life in wonderful, amazing ways.

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As if the day could get any better than doughnuts, it absolutely did when I took him to work with me.  I was a substitute teacher in his class, and I could not have asked for a better job for the day.  Getting to be with him on the exact moment he was born was perfect.  I did not even realize that he had walked into the classroom right at the time he was born until later that day when I was wondering where we were at 10:06 AM.  Yes, the day was beautiful, and the angels, unicorns, and rainbows surrounded us all day, working their magic to orchestrate a beautiful day for both of us.

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Ethan chose pizza and little bitty cookies for his birthday dinner.  He was so excited to celebrate his special day, just having a calm family dinner.  That is my Ethan.  Family means the world to him.  We are his safe place…and he is ours, too.

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We gave him most of his presents at his birthday party, but we saved one for his actual birthday.  He was so happy and surprised to open up a telescope.  He will love looking at the moon, stars, and hopefully even some planets.

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So, the day was perfect.  In every single way. I did not know that it could get any better…until today.  We were sitting and doing his homework.  On Monday, homework had him a little frustrated, and we had decided to slow things down a little.  His confidence means the world to us.  He is so peaceful and happy in his world, and we never want to do anything to change that.  So, when we sat down to do homework today, it was a little matching sheet.  I knew that he could do the matching part very easily, so I started pointing to the words.  On the very first one, he signed and said the word before matching it.  I was excited, so we went on to the next one.  He immediately signed it.  There were six words on that sheet, and he signed every single one of them the very first time.  My boy was reading words, and I was doing a happy dance while speed dialing his teachers.  As I left his first teacher a voice mail, Ethan was just beaming.  I was able to speak to his second teacher, and she was just as excited as I was.  She immediately said, “Do you think he will do it for me tomorrow?”  I love that.  I love that we have surrounded Ethan with people who love him, who celebrate the same things that we celebrate, and who know that those little steps are huge steps for our sweet Ethan.

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I am not sure where we will go from here.  I am not sure if he will perfectly read the words tomorrow.  I am not sure when he will add more words to the six that he signed so perfectly today.  But, I do know this.  I do know that we will continue to celebrate the big and the little steps on this beautiful journey with our amazing 8-year old magical, incredible little boy.

 

Happy Valentine’s Day – Recipe: Cheesecake Brownies

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Happy Valentine’s Day!

The cookies are made for the class.

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The cupcakes are boxed up to be delivered to the teachers.

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The cards are ready to be handed out to friends.

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And, the littles are all dressed in red and white for the special day, with shirts courtesy of a very talented Nonna.

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Summer and I have two lunches and two parties to attend today before we come home and make dinner for the family tonight.  I foresee myself chanting, “I think I can, I think I can, I think I can” all day long, reminding myself that the day is a marathon, not a sprint.

Thankfully, I do have a start on our dinner.  When I was having my bake-a-thon yesterday, I decided to go ahead and make dessert for tonight.  I was not sure how it would turn out because I had never made Cheesecake Brownies exactly like this.  But, I decided to give it a try, using this brownie recipe and this cheesecake recipe.  Instead of swirling it together, I wanted it to be two distinct layers.  Imagine my happiness when it actually turned out exactly like I had envisioned.   Happy love day to me!

Cheesecake Brownies

Cheesecake Brownies

Ingredients

For the Brownies

2/3 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

veg cooking spray

2 ounces unsweetened chocolate

4 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate

10 tablespoons (1 stick plus 2 tablespoons) unsalted butter

1 1/4 cups sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

3 large eggs

For the Cheesecake

1 package cream cheese

1 can sweetened condensed milk

1 teaspoon vanilla

Instructions

    Preparing the Brownies
  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Whisk flour, salt and baking powder in a small bowl; set aside.
  3. Spray an 8-inch baking pan with cooking spray. Fit a sheet of foil in pan and up two sides, so you can use it as a handle to pull cooked brownies from pan.
  4. Spray sheet with cooking spray.
  5. Melt chocolates and butter in a medium bowl over a pan of simmering water.
  6. Remove from heat; whisk in sugar and vanilla.
  7. Whisk in eggs, one at a time, fully incorporating each one before adding the next. Continue to whisk until mixture is completely smooth and glossy.
  8. Add dry ingredients, mix until just incorporated.
  9. Preparing the Cheesecake
  10. Mix together the cream cheese, sweetened condensed milk, and vanilla until smooth. Set aside.
  11. Putting it All Together
  12. Pour batter into prepared pan.
  13. Pour the cheesecake mixture on top of the brownie batter.
  14. Bake for 40-50 minutes.
  15. Cool brownies in pan on a wire rack for five minutes.
  16. Use handles to pull brownies from pan. Completely cool brownies on rack, at least three hours.
  17. Cut into squares or use cookie cutter to make shapes.
http://cookingformykids.com/2012/02/14/happy-valentines-day-recipe-cheesecake-brownies/

Enjoy your day.  We plan to celebrate the day with our littles by having dinner at home, followed by these yummy little cheesecake brownies.  It sounds like a perfect night to me.

I shared this recipe at Something Swanky, 33 Shades of Green, 2 Maids, Blessed with Grace, Mandy’s Recipe Box, Permanent Posies, Crazy for Crust, Nap Time Creations, Chef in Training and Skip the Housework.

Ethan Nathaniel: The Middle Little

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Ethan Nathaniel was born on September 18, 2004, at 10:06 AM.  He weighed 6 pounds 1 ounce, and he was 19 1/2 inches inches long.  We were so happy to welcome another little boy, a brother for Gabriel, into the world.

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Ethan Nathaniel means Strong Gift of the Lord, and he has proven to be just that every day since he was born.  He loves to play with his cars, jump in the trampoline, cook, watch movies, play games on the iPad, give hugs, laugh, play with his Nerf guns, read books, and paint.

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He is 18 months younger than Gabriel, our oldest, and the two are as close as any brothers could possibly be.  They have been almost inseparable since the moment Ethan was born.  They are so close in age and size that they were often mistaken for twins when they were younger.  Ethan looks up to Gabriel in a true, sincere, deep way.  He knows that Gabriel is his little soul mate, of sorts, and it gives him great comfort to know that his big brother is always on his side.

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Ethan is 2 1/2 years older than Summer, our youngest, and they have a unique, special bond, their own language.  Watching their relationship unfold has been fascinating.  They are more than just siblings; they are playmates and friends.  They love to imagine, create, build, and play.

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Ethan loves with all of his heart and soul.  He gives amazing hugs and kisses, and his smile truly lights up a room.

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When he laughs, well, everyone laughs with him.  He has a personality that is simply infectious.

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He is funny,

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happy,

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beautiful both inside and out,

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fun-loving,

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and easy-going.

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PhotobucketHe amazes us every single day.  He has a truly spectacular, fascinating, inquisitive mind.  We are not yet sure where that amazing mind will take him, but we know that God has great, special plans for our middle little.

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Ethan is special because he truly spreads magic wherever he goes.  He knows how to spread joy in an easy, effortless way because that is just who is.  When someone is sad, he feels their sadness, in a truly empathetic, compassionate way.  And, when someone is happy, he joins in on the laughter.  His personality has molded him into an incredible little boy, one who makes us so proud each and every day.  As I have said many times, “Everyone needs an Ethan.” Because, he is truly good and perfect in every way.

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