Archive | August, 2012

Pineapple-Banana Cake

31 Aug

It’s rare that we like cake to begin with, but this one we all loved!

I know I’ve mentioned it before, but no one in our house really loves cake, as in a birthday cake type of cake, with the exception of Lemon Cake and Boston Cream Pie which we adults choose for our birthdays, but we recently had a cake that we loved so I thought I’d share it with you today.

My parents had come for dinner and my mom had volunteered to bring dessert, saying she had a new recipe for a Pineapple-Banana Cake she thought we’d like. The recipe is not her own, she credits Roberta Grundy for passing it along to her. (Thanks Roberta!)

Well we gave it a try, and we all loved it! It wasn’t too sweet and the flavors of the pineapple mixed with banana was delicious and perfect for the upcoming fall season. I encourage you to give it a try!


*Grease and flour two layer cake pans
*Preheat oven to 350 degrees

1 package Duncan Hines Yellow Cake Mix
1 eight ounce can of crushed pineapple NOT drained
2 medium bananas, mashed (approximately one cup)
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup canola oil or vegetable oil
3 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. cinnamon


Combine ingredients and mix together on low for one minute.
Scrape sides of the bowl and continue to mix for two more minutes on medium until well blended.
Pour into greased and floured pans.

Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 30-33 minutes until cake springs back.

See that little layer of frosting in the middle….yummy!


Roberta uses Betty Crocker frosting mix, beaten by hand and adding in 1/2 tsp. cinnamon and 1 ts. vanilla, but you can also choose to make your own vanilla frosting, adding in the cinnamon and vanilla as well.

Optional: sprinkle with nuts

Serves 10-12 approximately

What’s for Dinner Wednesday: Macaroni Casserole by Grace

29 Aug

Last week I was so thrown off by our whirlwind trip that I actually typed my What’s for Dinner Wednesday post on Thursday.

And I thought it was Wednesday for most of the day.

I guess that’s what happens when you travel Sunday/Monday rather than Saturday/Sunday. It’s like having a Monday holiday and then you’re all thrown off for the rest of the week.

This week, I think I know what day it is and I’m pretty sure that it’s really Wednesday this time, so I’m going to try again.

Today’s recipe is from the cookbook that epicurious compiled with all of the winning healthy lunchtime recipes in it. You can download your own copy of that cookbook with just one click, here.

We have tons of cookbooks but it seems like we always love getting a new one. Of course this one was extra, extra special and we’ve been pouring through it, already trying out new recipes.

The first full day we were back, the girls had already made a mental list of all the things they wanted to make from this cookbook, which was almost everything in it. However, it wasn’t a grocery shopping week and we didn’t have everything for the ingredients for most of the recipes. We did find a couple though, and today’s is the first one we made, that first Tuesday we were back. I was still so tired from the trip that I could hardly focus on anything that day, so I was glad to have a healthy recipe that also involved all three kids in the kitchen. They each had a job making this recipe, so that was a tremendous help to me. We had to make some minor adjustments to incorporate what we did or didn’t have on hand, but overall we had enough of everything to make it work.

Everyone gave this recipe a thumbs up and I’d definitely make it again.

By: Grace Ratchford, Wyoming
Age 12

Everyone actually liked everything in this recipe. That’s a rarity when you’re cooking for a family of five.


8 ounces whole wheat elbow macaroni (we didn’t have wheat this time)
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup of 1% milk (we had skim)
2 and 1/2 cups of shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (I didn’t have kosher, I used regular)
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 organic turkey hot dogs, boiled and cut into bite sized pieces (I didn’t have organic, but they were turkey)
1 small bunch broccoli, steamed and cut into bite sized pieces (I used a bag of frozen broccoli florets)
1/2 cup crushed cornflakes
1 to 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley

Everyone had a hand in making this recipe, which I think is what made it extra delicious!


1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and grease a 9×13 inch baking pan.

2. In a large saucepan of boiling salted water, cook the macaroni according to the package directions. Drain in a colander and rinse with cold water until cool.

3. In the same saucepan over moderate heat, melt the butter. Add the flour and stir for one minute. Gradually add the milk and cook, whisking until hot and thick. Add the Cheddar cheese, salt and pepper and whisk to combine. Remove the sauce from the heat and add the noodles, stirring well to combine. Stir in the hot dogs and broccoli.

4. Transfer the noodle mixture to the greased pan and sprinkle with cornflakes and parsley. Bake until bubbly, about 20 minutes, and serve.

This is a great recipe for lunch or for dinner! Thanks Grace!

Farewell to Summer and Hello Chocolate Chip Muffins

27 Aug

Goodbye Summer! See you next year!

Summer has come to an end.

For us, school begins tomorrow, so even though officially it’s still summer on the calendar, it’s all over. In my mind, summer really ends when Don starts back to work full time, the second week of August. So it’s been over for a while, really.

I can’t complain. He has lots of days off in the summer, I have lots of days off in the summer, we do lots of fun things in the summer, we had an AMAZING opportunity this summer that really changed our lives, with the Kids’ State Dinner trip.

So I can’t complain, but I’m still sad to see it go. I still kinda want to cry as I think of the school year beginning again. I’m not ready to let it all go.

I *really* love summer.

Caroline is starting middle school, Elizabeth’s going into fourth grade and Alexandra into second. It’s going to be a busy year, a different year with them in two different schools on two different schedules. I’m sure it’ll take some getting used to.

And so, though it’s Monday and I usually post my “What We’re Doing for Fun This Summer” posts on Mondays, I can’t today, because I’m sad that summer is ending.

What I can do though, is share a new recipe with you.

Each year on the first day of school I make muffins for breakfast the night before. It’s a busy morning on the first day, hectic, and we also have a special tradition where my parents come up to see the kids go to school, just as my grandparents did  each first day of school when I was younger.

This year I’ve made several new muffin recipes and I’m not sure which two kinds I’ll be making for tomorrow’s first day, but I tried a new recipe for chocolate chip muffins last week. It might be in the running. I could use a chocolate chip or two about now, I think.

I found this recipe last week on when Alexandra asked for Chocolate Chip Muffins for breakfast. It said, “Easy, quick and good,” and I was sold. It was indeed all of those things and I’d make them again for sure.

Maybe for tomorrow morning.

The first day of not-summer.


I got to use my mini chocolate chips which were part of my birthday gift from my mother-in-law, Mary Lou, the ones she got me from Hershey Park, in this recipe.


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 3 tablespoons white sugar
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar


  1. Heat oven to 400 degrees F (205 degrees C). Grease bottoms only of 12 muffin cups or line with baking cups.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine flour, 1/2 cup sugar, baking powder, chocolate chips, and salt; mix well. In a small bowl, combine milk, oil and egg; blend well. Add dry ingredients all at once; stir just until dry ingredients are moistened (batter will be lumpy.)
  3. Fill cups 2/3 full. Sprinkle tops of muffins before baking with a combination of 3 tablespoons sugar and 2 tablespoon brown sugar.
  4. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 1 minute before removing from pan. Serve warm.

    I loved the sugar/brown sugar topping on the tops of these muffins. It was light but still sweet and crunchy.

Washington DC Trip Part III: Julia Child’s Kitchen at the Smithsonian

24 Aug

On August 15, 2012 Julia Child would have been 100 years old.

I have spent all week long recapping for you our trip to Washington DC. I started at the peak, which was our visit to the White House for the 2012 Kids’ State Dinner, and have worked my way backwards to the beginning. That leaves me at our first day, which was Sunday, which was our travel day, but still packed with fun activities. For me, the highlight of that day was visiting the Smithsonian Museum of American History where we were able to tour the Julia Child’s Kitchen exhibit along with the Star Spangled Banner exhibit and the exhibit of the First Ladies’ Gowns. Our primary reason for being there though, was the Julia Child’s Kitchen exhibit.

I don’t know how many of you saw the movie Julie and Julia, which came out in 2009, but I saw it a year or so ago, before I started “The Whole Bag of Chips,” and I absolutely loved it. I loved all of the cooking and recipes, all of the history of Julia and her husband, and I loved the blog that Julie started. I found the whole thing to be very inspiring.

Therefore, when I got our trip itinerary and found out that we’d be visiting the exhibit at the Smithsonian, I was so excited. Other than the White House event, this was what I was looking forward to the most. I loved the scene in the movie where Julie got to go see the exhibit herself, and I was so thrilled to know that I’d be seeing the exhibit too.

I had goosebumps as I looked at the first display in the exhibit.

I also wonder how many of you have seen the movie “A League of Their Own,” about the WWII women’s baseball teams, but it’s one of my all-time favorite movies and there is a scene at the end of it that I just love, where the former players are visiting a museum display about their teams, for the first time. In the scene, the character played by Geena Davis, along with some of her former teammates, comes around the corner and sees the exhibit for the first time. I get goosebumps every time I watch the movie and get to this scene, I don’t know why.

Our arrival at the Julia Child’s Kitchen exhibit gave me that exact same feeling. As the group of us contest winners came around the corner and saw the exhibit for the first time, I was covered in goosebumps. I am covered in them now as I type this.

Look Mom, I’m almost as tall as she is!

It was not only because it was something I’d looked forward to seeing for so long and something I had a passion for, but it was our first official act as the group of us, our first official doing anything together and I felt so honored, so special and so part of something huge, even though this wasn’t even the biggest part of our two days. As we moved around the corner into the exhibit I felt a rush of emotion.

The exhibit was fabulous, as were all the ones we saw that day. We were at the museum at about 3pm and we’d been up since 3:30 am when we’d gotten up for our 6am flight that day. We were exhausted. Everyone was, and I felt like I could fall over, I was so tired. We both did. However, I would not have traded the chance to visit the exhibit for a nap. (At least now I can say that. If you’d asked me right then, I might’ve traded it for a nap.) I know that my photos do not do it justice, but I hope that it at least gives you a glimpse into what was a wonderful opportunity.

What’s for Dinner Wednesday: What was for dinner Monday?

23 Aug

Our meal began with Quinoa, Black Bean and Corn Salad. Haile Thomas is 11 years old is from Arizona. Caroline and I devoured this salad and we cannot wait to make it for our family. When we do, I will post the recipe for you.

As you may know, this week my blog posts have been featuring all of the events and details from our two days in Washington DC as participants in the 2012 Kids’ State Dinner.

The winners’ recipes were compiled into a cookbook and each child was given a full-sized color copy of the book in their welcome bag upon arrival on Sunday afternoon. Additionally, we were given two more spiral-bound copies at the dinner itself on Monday. All of the kids used their color copy as a yearbook type of book, and spent

Caroline was so excited to see herself published in this commemorative cookbook, printed just for the 54 winners.

Sunday evening during the Welcome Pizza Party (healthy pizza of course) running around trying to get as many of their new friends’ signatures as possible. Each child would sign the page with their recipe on it, for the others. It was fun to watch them. They also each signed a cookbook for Michelle Obama and for Tanya Steel, the Editor-in-Chief at epicurious.

Our place settings included a menu listing each course and where it was from.

On Monday, our new friend from Kansas, Rori Coyne, found out from White House Chef Sam Kass that her recipe, Yummy Cabbage Sloppy Joes, was going to be the featured main dish at the luncheon. She was beyond excited.

Sure enough, when we got to our seats our menu was front and center with Rori’s recipe as the main dish. We were so excited and couldn’t wait to try it out. We were not disappointed. Rori’s Sloppy Joes were amazing. She did tell us later on that it was slightly different than the way she makes it, that hers has more of a chunky vegetable consistency. Either way, they were fabulous.

So today, for my What’s for Dinner Wednesday post, I am going to share Rori and her mom Mary’s recipe for Yummy Cabbage Sloppy Joes. I would definitely make them again!



Dinner was Rori’s Yummy Cabbage Sloppy Joes with a side of Baked Zucchini Fries from Sydney Brown, age 11, from North Carolina. The fries were awesome and we’ll be making them again as well. When we do I will post that recipe too!


1 pound lean ground beef
1 medium onion, diced
1 medium zucchini, shredded or diced
2 ribs of celery, diced
1/2 cup chopped red pepper
1 1/2 cups finely shredded cabbage
1 cup tomato sauce or crushed tomatoes
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
8 sandwich rolls, split (optional)

We spent just about all of our waking time with Rori Coyne and her mom Mary Wolarik. It was as if we had known them forever and we sad to have to part ways with them on Monday afternoon.


1. In a large skillet, cook the beef until cooked through, about five minutes. Drain the fat from the skillet and reserve the meat on a plate.

2. In the same pan over moderate heat, cook the onion, zucchini, celery, red pepper and cabbage until all the vegetables are crisp-tender, about 4 minutes. Add the cooked beef to the pan and stir to combine.

3. In a small bowl, combine the tomato sauce or crushed tomatoes, brown sugar, lemon juice, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, salt and pepper. Pour the sauce into the pan with the beef and vegetables and simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 8 minutes.

4. While the sloppy joes are simmering, toast the buns in the oven or toaster oven.

5. Evenly divide the mixture among the toasted bun bottoms, top with the other halves and serve.

Makes 8 servings.

Here is Caroline autographing her Rhode Island page in the cookbook for Michelle Obama on Sunday night at the pizza party.

Kids’ State Dinner Part II: White House Gardens Tour

22 Aug

Coming out of this door of the White House was so cool!

In yesterday’s post I gave you the best event first: the actual dinner at the White House, but the day included much more than that. We took a bus tour of DC first, and then after the dinner we went outdoors with White House Chef Sam Kass and toured the White House Gardens.

From what we learned, this presidency is the first one to utilize vegetable gardens since the days of Eleanor Roosevelt. Mrs. Obama planted the gardens with the help of children who volunteered their time and the gardens are tended to by volunteers as well as White House staff. Many of the meals prepared in the White House kitchens feature the in-season items from these gardens.

It was beautiful outdoors at the White House and it was such a cool feeling to go out the door of the White House, into the “yard” and be inside the gates. We could see everyone outside the gates lined up and looking in at us. I waved to all of them and they waved back to me.

Bo, the White House dog

It was fun to see Bo, the White House dog, although he wouldn’t come to me when I called his name, he’s clearly much better

We appreciated seeing the normalcy of a swing set in the side yard at the White House.

trained than my dog is! It was also heartwarming to see a swing set in the side yard for the Obama girls to play on. It made it look so “normal” there, mixed in with all the Secret Service vehicles and all of the fountains and formal flower gardens.

I personally only took a couple of photos of the garden tour because I only have 125 spots on my camera card, and yes, I took about 125 photos of the Kids’ State Dinner event. Therefore, most of the actual garden photos in this post today are courtesy of Caroline herself, unless she’s in them.

At the end of the garden tour, every winner was given a glass jar of honey from the White House bee hives, complete with a patriotic ribbon tied around the rim. Kind of the way one might never want to wash a hand again that’s been shaken by someone famous, like I don’t know, a president….I never want to use that honey.


I have, however, washed my hands.

Enjoy this glimpse “behind the scenes” in the White House Garden, and be sure to check back tomorrow to see the first recipe I’m featuring from our own copy of “The Healthy Lunchtime Challenge Cookbook.”

And we thought *we* had a good garden at our house!!

A beautiful selection of fruits and veggies

Pretty labels for each item

The corn had just been harvested.


I don’t think I’d ever tire of this view out of my window each day.

Kids’ State Dinner 2012

21 Aug

For weeks, one of the most common questions we were asked was, “What are you going to wear?” Here is what we wore. Caroline’s is wearing “Kohls” and I am wearing “Coldwater Creek.” Isn’t that how famous people describe their outfits?

There are no words.

For a writer, that’s almost impossible: not having the words to describe something, but tonight, as I sit on the final leg of my flight back to Providence, I am at a complete loss for words as I try to even begin describing our trip to Washington DC these last two days.

Some words that have come to mind don’t even touch it, but here they are (and Caroline has helped me with some of them as she sits next to me on the plane, looking over my shoulder):

Overwhelming (in a good way).





Mind blowing.


And fast–so fast.

As this trip was approaching, I tried to imagine in my mind just what it would be like.

I didn’t even come close. The images I came up with didn’t even come close to what it was like in real life. It was 36 hours of my life that I will never, ever forget for as long as I live.

The feeling after it ended was similar to the way I felt after my wedding: elated, exhausted, and wondering if I’d remember everything that took place.

I know that everyone is most interested in the Kids’ State Dinner at the White House, so that’s where I will start today, working backwards as I show and tell for you the events of our trip.

1500 Pennsylvania Avenue. We have arrived.

So sit back and try to envision everything I’m about to tell you. I will try not to leave anything out.

We arrived by two tourist-type busses at 1500 Pennsylvania Avenue at about 9:30 am. We were full of nervous excitement, all 54 kids and their moms, dads or grandparents. Although it had only been less than 24 hours since most of us had met, we already had a bond that seemed for many of us like we’d known each other much longer.

We filed out of our bus and through the gates, walking towards the security checkpoints. There were several and it was a very serious mood that prevailed during the security checks. There were metal detectors, dogs, and many photo ID checks.

When we finished, we lined up outside the White House doors in order by state. We were number 43, behind Puerto Rico and in front of South Carolina.

Immediately, we were in a different place and time. We were in the White House being treated like royalty.

As we got closer to the doors to the White House, the most beautiful music could be heard. When we entered we realized that it was live music, specifically, harp and flute or maybe piccolo music being played for our entrance. It was so beautiful and we felt so elegant, so grand, so special.

We walked in, trying to take in the splendor of the White House as much as we could. There were paintings of presidents on every wall as well as framed photo collages on the walls as we walked. There were military men and women every few feet, greeting us.

At our first stop we received two little envelopes. Our names were on them in red calligraphy. They had the raised gold seal which we’ve now seen several times, but still gives me goose bumps every time I receive a new one. These were our place cards to tell us what table we were at: Table 12.

Our first announcer, and in the photo you can see some of the photographers in the next room. As much as they’d warned us that there would be a ton of press there, I was totally unprepared for just how much “a ton” was.

At our next stop we were announced by an announcer with a big, booming voice, just the way they announce people at the “real” State Dinners: “Miss Caroline Cowart- Rhode Island, Egg White Omelet with Broccoli and Cheese, and Ms. Jennifer Cowart”

When we entered that room there must have been 100 reporters and photographers staring at us, smiling. We stopped, smiled, waved, and then kept going. Someone in the front row said, “Yes, you’re the celebrities now,” and it really did feel like it.

From there, we entered a sort of kids’ cocktail hour. There were fancy lemonade and juice types of drinks in cute little glasses and bottles with tons of pretty fruit arrangements almost too pretty to eat. There was an entertainer making really cool balloon animals, crowns, and just about anything you could imagine. Caroline scored a Roadrunner and instantly named him Rhody, in honor of our little state. He was purple and he almost made it home with us, until we had to go through security at the airport in DC. Then Rhody’s day was over.

While we watched the balloon guy doing his crazy tricks, Caroline spotted a star. Reed Alexander, who played the role of Nevel Papperman from Nickelodeon’s iCarly was sauntering around the party himself, just hanging out and taking photos with kids.


Yup, just standing there among us. Crazy.

Also present and up for photos was Sam Kass, White House Chef and one of the judges of the contest. He had a super personality and we spent some time with him when we toured the gardens as well.

Finally, it was time to get in line again. It was time for the photos with Mrs. Michelle Obama. It was the moment we had all been waiting for.

We lined up and waited.

And waited.

Just when we thought we’d moved up to the room where the photos were going to be, we realized that it was actually the room before the room. So we waited some more, but it seemed to move fast, now that we were closer.

“She’s quite the hugger,” said one of the security guards in the waiting room. “So don’t be surprised if she gives you a big hug.”

Sam Kass, one of the head chefs from the White House. He was fabulous.

Good to know.

I peered in.

“She’s tall,” I said.

He agreed.

“She’s tall and she’s not afraid to wear some big heels too.”

I looked in again.

“I love her shoes,” I said.

And suddenly, before we knew it, we were being announced again in that same loud booming voice, and there standing before us was Michelle Obama, arms outstretched.

Caroline was announced first and went in first, into the welcoming arms and big hug of Mrs. Obama.

I followed her.

I hugged Michelle Obama. I squeezed her. I didn’t want to let go. She was beautiful, with a warm and inviting personality that just exuded from her.

She greeted us and told Caroline how happy she was to see us, and how excited she was for the events of the day.

The professional photographers snapped our photo about a half dozen times (we had no personal belongings or cameras with us in the room) and we were done, moving into the dining room.

We were all the way to the right side of the room at our table, so this gives you a view of the entire room almost. You can see how much press there was in that room with us as well as how beautiful the room was.

I was again, unprepared for what I saw next. Again, it exceeded my wildest imagination.

The dining room was huge with gorgeous chandeliers and rich, yellow draperies. And there were again, hundreds of reporters and photographers. All you could hear were cameras snapping as they filled two walls of the room, three people deep on both sides. I looked around the room and it was so, so surreal. That’s the best way I can explain it.

The tables were set up for us with gorgeous red presidential place settings. This had been one of my ponderings these past few weeks: what would the dishes look like? They were gorgeous.

Our place settings and the plates

They had beautiful place cards at our tables written in red but lined in gold. We had a copy of the Winning Lunches Cookbook on each of our plates as well as a menu stating what we’d be eating for lunch and what state winner it had come from. We were thrilled to find out that one of our new friends from Kansas, Rori, was having her meal featured as the main dish: Yummy Cabbage Sloppy Joes.

There were Kale Chips from New York, which tasted just like potato chips, as an appetizer.

The little added touches made all the difference: pretty centerpieces made of fruits and flowers, a map with our state on it in front of our spot, a “Let’s Move” bracelet as our napkin ring around our white linen napkins.

When we were all in and all seated, Michelle Obama was announced. She walked right by our table. I was still star-struck even though we’d just met her and hugged her.

Tanya Steel Editor In Chief at Epicurious, spoke at the podium first, followed by Marshall Reid, the 12 year old co-author of the book, “Portion Size Me.”

Mrs. Obama was wonderful when she spoke, congratulating us all.

Finally, Mrs. Obama spoke.

I can’t even tell you what she said, specifically, but it included lots of congratulations and warm words, how proud she was of every winner there and the family members with them for entering, for winning, for promoting healthy eating among families. She was a wonderful speaker, happy and fun. Whatever she was selling, I was buying it.

The food was served. We had Quinoa, Black Bean and Corn salad from Arizona, which was my first time eating quinoa, and I loved it. Caroline loved it too. We both finished it down to the last drop. We both took pictures of our plates.

Waiters came around pouring juices for us, Caroline had orange and I had cranberry. Our water was served in pretty little mason jars with pixie straws. I hated to use them, they were so cute.

The main dish came out, Rori’s Yummy Cabbage Sloppy Joes along with North Carolina’s Baked Zucchini Fries. They were both fabulous and again Caroline and I found ourselves photographing our empty plates.

One of my favorite photos from our day: Caroline meeting and shaking hands with President Obama.

Suddenly, however, Michelle Obama jumped up and quickly went back to the microphone.

“Ladies and gentlemen,” she said. “I’m sorry for this interruption but I have an announcement. I’ve just gotten word that a special visitor is on his way in to say hello to you.”

And then I jumped up and out of my seat.

I am a journalist at heart I guess.

I was the only one standing at that moment, well, it was me and Michelle.

Obama that is.

My new BFF.

Good thing I was on my feet, because in walked the President of the United States.

And suddenly we were ALL on our feet.

To say we were astounded doesn’t even cover it.

You should have heard the cameras snapping.

I can still hear it.

He went to the podium. They hugged. (So cute.)

He spoke to us and again, although I can’t remember each and every word (I was wishing I had a notebook and pen) he was proud. His words were congratulatory. He said he can make a decent omelet and I thought of Caroline’s recipe. I bet he’d like it. He spoke for quite a few minutes and then as he finished and we all cheered and clapped, he headed over to our side of the room to exit.

Or so I thought.

No. He didn’t leave. He stayed and shook EVERY SINGLE hand in the room. Every single one of us, both children and adults got a greeting, a handshake, tons of photos, and oftentimes a “Good Job” or a “Congratulations, what was your recipe?”

I was shaking. My hands were shaking. My whole body was shivering. I was on sensory overload between the food, the cameras snapping and the fact that in one hour’s time I’d met both the President and First Lady of the United States and here I was putting food into my mouth as if this was pretty much a normal course of events in my daily life.

Caroline leaned over.

“I’m shaking,” she said.

I hear ya.

Just when you think it can’t get any better than that, it did.

What’s that saying on infomercials, “But Wait, There’s More!”

And there was.

A private concert from Big Time Rush, a band featured Nickelodeon. The kids had front row seats, right in front of the band. Mrs. Obama stated that when grown ups come to the White House they are not allowed to sit on the floor in front of the band.

As we had our Summer Fruit Garland from South Dakota and our Strawberryana Smoothies from Hawaii, the kids were treated to a LIVE performance by the Nickelodeon band, Big Time Rush. They played about five different songs and the kids all sat on the floor in front of the stage, listening and watching.

I watched Caroline and I thought, “I can never, ever top this experience. Not for her, not for any of my other children. Not in my lifetime.

It was a crazy, crazy feeling of just the utmost, tip top, experience ever.

Overwhelming (in a good way).





Mind blowing.


And fast–so fast.

This was much bigger than just “quality time” together, but we did get a lot of that as well. It’s a trip we will never, ever forget.

*Check back tomorrow for a recap from more of our whirlwind trip to DC!*