About Ali Cummins

Posts by Ali Cummins:

Yogurt Raisin Oatmeal Cookies

Riley and Story are both strong members of the Yogurt Raisin fan club. We made these cookies for our Leprechaun Trap Making Party and they were a big hit! A yummy variation of the Oatmeal Cookie. Want to make them festive? Add a little green food coloring for the perfect St. Patrick’s Day treat!

Yogurt Raisin Oatmeal Cookies (2)

1 cup margarine or butter

1 cup sugar

1 cup brown sugar

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 cups flour

1 1/2 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

3 cups Oats

1-1 1/2 cup yogurt raisins


1) Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

2) Combine butter, sugar, and brown butter in bowl and cream until smooth.

3) Mix in eggs and vanilla.

4) Add flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon and stir until thoroughly mixed.

5) Add oats and desired amount of yogurt raisins.

6) Drop even spoonfuls of dough on baking sheet and bake for approx. 12 minutes.

7) Enjoy!

A Day of Service

This year, our company gave each employee a day of service, which means that we can each use one work day to volunteer with a local organization. I enjoy volunteer work and in my later life plan to do a good deal of it, but in the present, between work and squeezing time in with the girls, there just aren’t enough hours in the day. So, I was excited to have the opportunity, and when a friend approached me about a luncheon that was being held by Girls Inc., the day was planned. (more…)

The Best Gift I’ll Ever Give Them

During our family reunion this summer, the aunts asked me how Riley likes being a sister. I enthusiastically replied, “Great! She loves her sister! They hardly have disagreements.” And it was true. Riley loves her sister and has since the day I brought her home. I was worried that it would be a difficult transition for her. Going from being an only child to one-half of a pair is tough, and Riley unwaveringly believes in doing things her own way. So, I was pleasantly surprised and very proud as I watched her bend and make room in her life for her new little sister. She affectionately refers to her as “my baby” or “honey, honey,” a term she adopted after she once heard me say it. She will correct me if I tell her that she and I will be doing something, upset that I might be leaving Maddie out. “And Baby, Mom,” she’ll tell me. To this day, Riley has only asked to send Maddie back two times. Not bad for a little girl who spent two-thirds of her life with all of the attention on her. (more…)

Parental Apologies

DaycareA couple of weeks ago, a co-worker invited me, or really Riley, to have a playdate with his daughter. He was anxious about the request and began rapidly and apologetically explaining his reasons behind it. He explained that his wife was going back to work and that they would be dropping off their two children, ages five and three, to daycare for the first time. His daughter, the three-year-old, would be in Riley’s class. He further explained that his daughter was very shy and that he was worried about her making friends. He said that she didn’t warm up to others quickly, and it would be great if she could have a friend there before she started. I told him we were happy to do it and hoped that it would indeed make that day a little bit easier. I also over-shared with him that Riley was a member (perhaps founding member?) of what I call the “mean girls club” at school–a group of three girls that includes her best friend, Hawk (a nickname made up by Riley for a sweet little girl named Juliet when she was unable to pronounce her name). This group of girls are very competitive with each other, which is probably putting it lightly. Basically they don’t share well together, they battle over who will be first for anything, and it sometimes comes to blows (well, pushes). By pickup time though, they are the best of friends. I’ve often gotten a confused tilt of the head from the daycare teacher as Riley proclaims while leaving, “Mommy, can we go to Hawk’s house? She’s my best friend.” That’s when you know it’s been a particularly rough day. (more…)

We arrived.

We arrived. And as I suspected might happen, I did not arrive the same person I was when I left. I arrived with a little more pride in my heart and a little more self-aware.

The night before we left, I lay in bed and ran through my game plan for the trip. I thought out what my strategy would be during screaming battles. I decided what I would consider a “pull to the side of the road” emergency and what “emergencies” would be considered a lesson in patience. I packed the car with toys and snacks close at hand. I even took some time to repent, for I had committed a good parenting sin and borrowed a portable DVD player from a mom-friend. Absolved and feeling prepared, I went to bed.

License plate road trip

We left bright-eyed and bushy-tailed at 7 am for our estimated six-hour drive. I was prepared to make stops frequently, to spend the night somewhere about halfway through, and to practice meditations. I must admit, I was a little nervous. At 7:30, we made our first stop because of me. I drink a lot of coffee in the morning. We piled back in the car and drove peacefully, until 8:30, when we made another stop, because of me. We unbuckled, the girls waited, we rebuckled, and hit the road again. The girls snacked on muffins and veggie chips in the back seat. Maddie babbled something to Riley; Riley laughed and babbled something back. I heard from the back seat, “Mom, my baby is funny.” There were times that they would space out in front of the DVD player, but the majority of their time was spent talking, reading a book, and playing with their toys.

By 3:00, one hour from our destination, I had broken up one verbal disagreement between the girls. It lasted a total of two minutes. We had stopped frequently, mostly to take care of my own needs. Even with all the unbuckling, rebuckling, and the 90 degree heat, the girls did not complain one time. We had smiled, laughed, and patiently tackled each mile.



It was during that last hour that I realized I had planned and strategized fully assuming that my girls would be poorly behaved. My hope was that we would have a fun road trip, but I didn’t really think that that was going to happen. I hadn’t given them any credit. After a little more self-reflection in a traffic jam, I realized my expectations of their behavior are often pretty low. I expect gymnastics class to be a nightmare, the grocery store to be a disaster, and restaurants to not be worth the hassle. Sure, I’ve been burned by tantrums before, but isn’t my job as a mother to be their continuous cheerleader?

I grappled with this question for the next twenty miles, my mom guilt thicker than the traffic. I knew my answer to this question had to be unequivocally “yes,” which meant I had to sort through a lot of “but they” statements. But they bicker. But they didn’t listen that time. But they just wear me out sometimes. The list goes on. I started tackling these statements, changing my answer from the negative to a positive. It was time to have a growth mindset in my parenting.

We arrived at the hotel after eight hours on the road. Riley burst into the hotel room jumping up and down.  “I love my new house! I love my new bed! I love my new TV! I love my new table!” We spent the night at the pool. No meltdowns. No fighting. All smiles. This was the perfect road trip and it taught me an invaluable lesson; I have some amazing little girls, and I could not be prouder of them.
Road trip!