Emma has been doing this endearing little bit where she will ask me randomly througout the day: "Mommy, are you happy?"
If I reply "Yes I'm happy!" then she will respond: "I happy too, Mommy!"
If I reply "No, I'm sad" then she will say: "Don't cry, Mommy. Be happy! Like me!"
If I reply "I'm very mad right now" (usually at her or Matthew after spilling or a mess-making incident of some type), she will say: "I sorry Mommy. Please be happy!"
It's hard to not be happy when my chipper little 2-year-old is constantly dancing in my face requesting my happiness. I just love her. She is my little shadow, my zipping fireball of energy, my rambunctious chatterbox, and my source of daily joy. Not that the other two are not great, but there are several days where I am just in awe at how sweet and loving Emma is.
Another Emma story and then we'll get on with the recipe. Emma, Lucy, and I attend daily Mass and Emma has been charming some of the elderly couples that are in attendance. During the sign of peace, she asks permission to walk over and shake hands with some of the sweet older couples. They eat it up and give her hugs and kisses and she returns to me grinning widely and feeling like a queen. In the communion line the other day, a little old lady whispered to her: "You are so precious. And I like your Hello Kitty shoes!" Emma immediately dropped my hand and slipped her chubby fingers into the lady's palm. The lady squeezed her hand and held it all the way up to communion and back to the pew where she gave Emma a hug and whispered: "Thank you so much for that! What a gift you are!"
Emma just responded "Yes" before heading back to our pew with me. She's cute and she knows it. However, I'm very proud of how loving and social she is - it's a nice change from Matthew who hides his face every time someone who is not a relative or a friend he has seen no less than 100 times looks his way. Emma definitely has her moments, but she really is such a sweet little soul.
|Emma has always loved ducks. Here is she following behind one at the zoo.|
Breakfast is Emma's favorite meal of the day by far. She always eats a very large breakfast to start her day off strong. I also adore breakfast, but rarely have the chance to sit down and enjoy a good hot breakfast except on the weekends when Paul is here to help me with the morning chaos. Although he was not quite so helpful last Sunday when we were getting ready for early morning Mass. He was in charge of getting Matthew dressed for church while I handled the girls. I squeezed both my chunky little ladies into cute dresses, put bows in their hair, and shoes on their feet. I assumed that Paul had put just as much meticulous care into ensuring that Matthew looked dapper for Mass. So confident was I in my husband's abilities to dress our son, that I made the fatal error of not giving Matthew a "once-over" before heading out the door. I only noticed what he was wearing as we headed into the church. He was wearing a very nicely matched button down shirt and vest that paired nicely with black dress slacks. The slacks themselves, however, were about six-inches too short and revealed a nice portion of his skinny little ankles as well as the neon-green ankle socks he had chosen to wear with his black dress shoes. He looked ridiculous. I angrily turned to Paul and growled, "I thought you were going to help him get ready!" Paul sheepishly laughed and said, "I thought he had it under control."
Ridiculous. Matthew really does need help dressing himself. He is very inclined to find the one article of clothing in his closet that does not fit and proudly squeeze himself into it and continue on his merry way. For school, he will lazily pull out the polo shirt he wore the day before from his laundry basket and put it on and seem unfazed by the fact that there are pizza and paint stains all over the front. Because I have to dress all three children before taking Matthew to school during the week, our breakfast time is often very short and lately has been consisting of cheerios with honey. However, sometimes you really just want something warm for breakfast.
I have made baked oatmeal many, many, many times before. This recipe is not nearly as fancy as some of the variations I have made in the past, but it is truly a memorable meal in all its simplicity. A bowl of this warm, buttery oatmeal with cinnamon-scented apples and cool milk poured over the top is a great way to wake up during the cool Fall mornings. I love that this can be prepared the night before and then uncovered and baked in the oven while I ready the troops. When everyone is dressed, we can come downstairs and enjoy a giant bowl of this oatmeal before continuing on with our day. Everyone seems a little happier after enjoying a nice breakfast together in the morning.
Thus, it was appropriate that Emma, her face covered with oatmeal, grinned up at me from her bowl and asked, "Are you happy today, Mommy?"
Why yes, Emma, I certainly am.
Amish-Style Apple and Cinnamon Baked Oatmeal
from Mel's Kitchen Cafe
Note: The oatmeal can be assembled the night before, covered, and refrigerated overnight. Bake uncovered the following morning. The oatmeal may require a few more minutes in the oven.
3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup lightly packed brown sugar (more to taste if you like things a bit sweeter)
2 1/2 cups milk
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 tablespoons butter, melted
2-3 large tart, sweet apples (I used a mix of Ginger Golds, Honeycrisp, and Macintosh), peeled, cored and diced
Lightly grease a 9x13-inch baking pan with nonstick cooking spray and set aside. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
In a large bowl, whisk together the oats, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and brown sugar.
In a large liquid measuring cup or medium bowl, whisk together the milk, eggs, and vanilla.
Pour this mixture over the dry ingredients and add the melted butter. Stir or whisk to combine.
Arrange the diced apples evenly over the bottom of the baking dish and pour the oatmeal mixture over the top.
Bake for 35-45 minutes until the top is golden and the oatmeal is set.