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Make Individual Valentine Cheese Cakes With Your Foster or Adoptive Child



With Washington’s Birthday and Valentine Day approaching it is time for a “cherry” treat. One of my family’s favorites has always been “Individual Cheese Cakes.” The recipe is relatively simple and easy for children to help with.


Yields about 19 cakes

  1. Line muffin pan with cupcake liners (we like to use the foil cupcake liners)
  2. Place 1 vanilla wafer in the bottom of each muffin cup
  3. Beat:
    • 1 – 8 oz package cream cheese
    • ¾ cup sugar
    • 2 eggs
    • 1 tsp vanilla
  4. Fill ¾ full and bake 10 minutes at 375°.
  5. Cool for 2 hours and top with cherry pie filling.
  6. Remove from muffin pans and refrigerate.

Heart-Shaped Option

For an extra Valentine touch these can easily be baked in heart shaped muffin pans. However, if these are unavailable there are other options available to make heart shapes. A glass marble can be placed between the cupcake liner and the muffin pan to make an indent to create sort of a heart shape.

Another option is to crumple aluminum foil into a small ball about the size of a marble. Insert that between liner and pan at the 12 o’clock location of the cup. Then make two more smaller balls of foil and insert them near the bottom of the cup near the 5 o’clock and 7 o’clock locations to create the tip at the bottom of the heart shape.

Talk About Love And Kindness

Preparation of these heart shaped treats with foster/adoptive grandkids presents a wonderful time to discuss love and kindness. Of course we share with them how great our love is for them, but we can also encourage them to show love and kindness to others, especially to their parents and siblings. Often we are so busy telling them what not to do (bullying, etc.) that sharing with them ways they can show kindness to others takes a back burner.

  • Tell the kiddo you love them. Then ask them how they can see proof of your love.
  • Ask the kiddo what they think it means to love someone. Talk about how it means that you’re committed to someone.
  • Ask the kiddo if loving someone means you’re happy with them all the time. Talk about a time you were upset with someone but were still committed to them.

With all the times that people are correcting behaviors this is also a good time to talk about how love is unconditional. Try making up some scenarios of bad behavior – starting small and working your way up to bigger and more outrageous things. After each event, ask the kiddo if you would still love them after the bad behavior. The goal is not to even think of things they have done but to focus on the fact that you’re committed to them no matter what.

For example:

  • Do you think I would love you if you told someone a lie about me? (Let child answer) Of course I would still love you.
  • How much would I love you if you got an alligator and let it eat my pet cat? (Let child answer) I would love you more than you can show me.


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Make Pumpkin Pie Squares with the Grandkids – Thanksgiving Treat


Happy Thanksgiving! Do you have pumpkin pie for dessert at your Thanksgiving Feast? Because Grandma’s patience isn’t as great as it used to be, helping little ones roll out a pie crust is not a good option I fear. Here is a delicious option to the traditional pumpkin pie. I believe I found this recipe probably over 30 years ago on the back of a Libby’s pumpkin can or in a Libby’s ad in a magazine, and it is still a favorite of mine.


Makes 2 dozen.


1 cup sifted flour
½ cup quick cooking rolled oats
½ cup brown sugar, firmly packed
½ cup butter

1 (1 lb) can pumpkin (2 cups)
1 (13 ½ oz) can evaporated milk
2 eggs
¾ cup sugar
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ginger
¼ teaspoon ground cloves

½ cup chopped pecans
½ cup brown sugar, firmly packed
2 tablespoons butter


  • Combine flour, rolled oats, ½ cup brown sugar and ½ cup butter in mixing bowl.
  • Mix until crumbly, using electric mixer on low speed.
  • Press into ungreased 13 x 9 x 2” pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.
  • Combine pumpkin, evaporated milk, sugar, salt and spices in mixing bowl.
  • Mix well. Pour onto crust.
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.
  • Combine pecans, ½ cup brown sugar and 2 tablespoons butter.
  • Sprinkle over pumpkin filling.
  • Return to oven and bake 15 to 20 minutes or until filling is set.
  • Cool in pan and cut in 2” squares.
  • Serve with a dollop of whipped cream if desired.

Thankfulness Practice and Game

Of course, while helping the grandchildren mix this up it is a good time to express to them how thankful I am that they have been brought into our lives. We can also take turns telling of all the blessings of this past year. Even though there may have been many trials in the past, it is important to help these grandchildren see that we always have many things to be thankful for.

Possibly make a game out of giving thanks. While you prepare the pumpkin pie squares, start a list of things you are thankful for. Take turns writing one item down on the list. A person wins when the other person cannot think of anything else they are thankful for. Possibly the winner gets to taste the first square when they are finished – or maybe they get extra whipped cream on top.

It’s a simple activity but it truly helps everyone involved to practice being thankful. It helps to give a more positive perspective and may just give everyone a break from the toils and troubles of life.

Have fun!!


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Making Easy Caramel Apple Topping – Activity for Bonding


It’s the time of year for apple treats. Instead of dipping apples in caramel I like this easy topping. The recipe was shared with me by a cousin many, many years ago and is simple enough for children to help prepare.

Easy Caramel Apple Topping


  • 8 ounces cream cheese
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 ½ cups brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla


  1. When cream cheese is room temperature, mash it and blend it well with sugars and vanilla.
  2. Blend until smooth and creamy.
  3. Refrigerate.
  4. Spoon over sliced apples.
  5. Then you may also sprinkle with mini chocolate chips and/or chopped nuts to make a very delicious fall treat.

A Lesson From Apples About A Child’s Hurts

While slicing apples from the apple tree in our backyard for this treat I have noticed that the apples all look good on the outside, but often when cut into they can reveal bruising (because sometimes they are dropped as we are picking them).

This reminds me that while children may look normal and healthy on the outside, just as the apples appear perfect on the outside, there may be “bruises” and “hurts” on the inside caused from traumatic situations from the past, especially for foster/adoptive children. This has led me to be much less judgmental and more tolerant of the behavior of children I encounter in the grocery store or restaurant, etc.

There is no way of telling what these children have endured in the past or what medical situation they may be wrestling with such as sensory issues, autistic tendencies, etc. They all need our love and understanding.

Bonding While Baking

  1. Make a conscious effort to compliment your child at least five times while preparing this treat.
  2. Go one step further & stop yourself from being critical of your child five times during this activity.