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I am not a morning person. This is actually a big reason why the wee ones are so self sufficient. I’ve encouraged them to learn how to make their own breakfasts, pack their own lunches and snacks, and essentially get ready for school themselves. That isn’t to say that I’m not there supervising, but me not having to cook something for them or take the time to pack a lunch means precious more minutes of sleep for me. Well, sleep or the perfect coffee to jump start my brain.
Mister Man, of course, has foiled this for me – however unintentionally. He has band before school every Wednesday, and now he’s doing basketball, which has 8am practice twice a week. Twice a week where I have to drive him to school by 8am, which means we’re up and functioning a whole lot earlier than I had managed to spoil myself with the last few years.
I’m not alone in this, however. There are plenty of other moms who are up and running earlier than they might wish, and we commiserate sometimes by gathering at my house for a cup of coffee to fortify ourselves after we’ve finished the round of drop offs. Me being me, I’m not just serving coffee. I’m making it something special, only partly because I prefer my coffee tasting a little less like coffee and a little more like a treat.
Needless to say, I tend to keep the fixings for a homemade caramel macchiato in my fridge. It’s fairly easy to whip up, and the sauce I use for my copycat caramel macchiato recipe stays good for around three weeks, not that it ever lasts that long in my house! It makes it easy to invite a friend over and surprise her with an extra special treat.
I make a caramel sauce – the same caramel sauce that I use for anything from a topping on ice cream to making a trifle and more – which is so much easier than it sounds. A little sugar and water boiled together, mixing in some cream and butter, and it’s ready to go.
I save some of the caramel sauce to drizzle on top because… yum. The rest of it gets added to some scalded milk and sugar with a little vanilla bean paste, and in about ten minutes, you have the most amazing smelling and tasting creamer you’d ever think to make at home. Let it cool before you put it into a container for storage, and it’s the perfect addition to your morning coffee brewed with McCafé pods.
If I want to get super fancy, I’ll heat up some milk in a little saucepan until it’s just starting to steam then use the Aerolatte my aunt bought me years and years ago to froth it up.
The hot creamer gets poured into my coffee mug with caramel sauce, then the McCafé coffee added over top. The foam from my caramel macchiato creamer is the next layer, and do you remember that caramel we reserved when making the creamer? That gets drizzled on top as thinly as I can to ensure it doesn’t immediately sink to the bottom of my caramel macchiato.
Though my husband usually makes his coffee in an espresso pot on the stove, I don’t have time for that. When I want my coffee, I want it now – which is where my Keurig comes in. And now I have a new favorite coffee to brew in my pods that I discovered last weekend.
After I took Little Miss downtown on Saturday, I had promised her that we could buy a bag of candy. While we were on the Mag Mile, she found an 8 ounce bag of candy she wanted to buy. For $4.95. I couldn’t stomach the cost, so I promised her that we’d buy some at Walmart where it would be less than half the cost. Not surprisingly, she woke up Sunday and reminded me of my promise, so we headed out the door because I keep my promises – one of my tenets of parenting.
After Little Miss picked out her candy (and proceeded to hug it because it was hers, all hers), I turned around to head out and noticed that there are new coffee pods in town. I had heard that Kraft was planning to roll out a line of McCafé coffee pods and ground coffee, but I hadn’t expected to see them until early in 2015. Lo and behold, McCafé has 8 flavors (eight!) to choose from in both premium bags and coffee pods. They’re all made with 100% Arabica beans, harvested from the rich soils and mountainous regions of the foremost coffee-growing areas of the world. That was enough to sell me that I needed to pick up a new coffee and be sure to invite a friend to enjoy a morning coffee with me today.
I’m a giving person like that.
When I texted my friend to see if she might be available to enjoy a caramel macchiato, I got happy face stickers in return. And when we sat down to enjoy our steaming mugs of morning pick-me-up, we both had pretty big smiles on our faces as we took the time to recharge and enjoy each other’s company since that way early drop off means that not only are we up earlier than we’re used to, but we do have some “extra” time in the morning that we used to not have, too.
I’m all about finding my extra time, and part of that includes some of my tips and tricks to help me sneak a little extra sleep in the morning. I may not be snoozing while the wee ones are getting themselves off to school, but at least I’m not getting up a half hour or forty-five minutes before them to ensure we make the bus on time.
Eight Tips to Help Kids Get Out the Door (and Let Mom Sleep Just a Little)
Create a to do list. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. The day I created a laminated to do list for the wee ones that reminds them over everything they have to do in the morning to get out the door is one of the best things I ever did. I don’t have to remember what they have to do on Tuesday versus Friday, and I’m not constantly nagging them to do something. They just know they need to refer to the list.
Set a cutoff time. For the wee ones, they have to be finished eating breakfast by 8am, no questions asked (except of course on those days when I’m dropping Mister Man at school early for basketball practice). They know that if they aren’t done, they have to pause and get the other important things done like putting their homework in their backpacks and ensuring they have lunches packed before finishing breakfast. It’s a great motivator to not dawdle and has worked well for us.
Buy alarm clocks. Each of the wee ones has an alarm clock. They generally wake up before the alarm goes off (ugh, morning people!), but on the days that they don’t, I struggle to convince them to get out of bed. When the alarm goes off, they get up and start functioning rather than me trying to cajole them and all of us getting frustrated.
Provide an incentive to finish your tasks. For the wee ones, they know that once they finish everything on the list, they are able to play on their Kindles until the bus arrives. Because we limit screen time and their after school activities means they often don’t have much extra time after school, they treasure the time they get on their Kindles before school. I’ve found the motivation that works for my kids, but every child will be different.
Make breakfast easy. The wee ones aren’t allowed to use the stove or oven by themselves, but they are comfortable in the kitchen, and I encourage that. For breakfast, we have options that they know they can eat that are ones they can make themselves because I’ve coached them on it before setting them loose. Mister Man knows exactly how to get his Greek yogurt and add the preserves to it. Little Miss can cook oatmeal in the microwave or get a granola bar or get creative and simply serve herself some smoked salmon with tortilla chips. They’re both capable of pouring milk.
Teach kids to make their own lunches. The wee ones have made their own lunches for the past two years. It’s something they started doing on their own rather than something I pushed, but once I saw how proud of themselves they were when they saw that they could do it, I added this to their regular chore rotation. Before they started making their own lunches, we sat down to talk about what goes in there. They know they have to have a protein, a veggie, and a fruit. If they want to take a treat, they ask permission first, as we don’t do desserts every day. I love the independence they’re learning, and they pack lunches that include what they want to eat and the amount of food they will eat, which reduces waste, too.
Pack things up the night before. Rather than spending time panicking that homework is missing or accidentally leaving a trumpet behind, we pack everything up the night before. All homework goes into their home folders once they finish homework, and those folders go into their backpacks. Backpacks are hung in the closet near the front door, and the trumpet gets placed directly in front of the door to minimize the likelihood that it’s still at home after the bus pulls away.
Choose clothes the night before. We do this a little less now than what we used to, but I can see this becoming something I insist on more as they get older again. When they were little, they were particular about what they wouldn’t wear, and it could take quite awhile before they finally would agree to wear something. As they age, I can see them spending “hours” debating what outfit to wear to school. Choosing one the night before eliminates me sending Mister Man back upstairs to change because he put on jeans and a sweatshirt on a day when he has basketball practice and needs track pants and a t-shirt.
All of this means that once I know they’re up and starting to get ready, I can spend time getting myself dressed and ready myself. I’m not snoozing my alarm and abdicating my supervision, but I can check in on how they’re doing while I’m brushing my hair or teeth instead of taking care of them entirely before finding any time to get myself dressed and ready to get out the door.
And that? That leaves me just a little bit of time to brew up my McCafé pods and create just a little bit of bliss with a caramel macchiato at home once the bus pulls away. Or better yet, with a friend once we finish our early morning drop offs.
How do you ensure that your morning routine goes smoothly?
A recipe to make a caramel macchiato creamer at home with from scratch ingredients. This is great added to coffee by itself, but it also includes directions on how to make a full caramel macchiato.
- 1 1/4 c sugar, divided
- 1/4 c water
- 1 1/2 c heavy whipping cream, divided
- 2 T butter
- 1 c milk
- 1 T vanilla bean paste
- 1/2 c milk
- 2-3 T creamer you just made
- 2/3 c coffee
- Caramel sauce for drizzling
- Start by making a caramel syrup. Add 3/4 cup of sugar and 1/4 cup of water to a heavy saucepan and heat until the sugar has completely melted. Do not stir once the sugar melts to avoid crystallization.
- Once it turns a light amber color, add the butter and 1/2 cup cream. It will bubble heavily and may separate slightly, but stir and it will come back together. Return it to a boil for another two minutes, then remove the caramel syrup from the heat.
- Place all your caramel sauce into a heat proof container, then measure 3/4 cup of the caramel sauce back into your saucepan. Add the remaining 1 cup of cream to the pan, as well as 1/2 cup of sugar, 1 cup of milk, and 1 tablespoon of vanilla bean paste. Heat on medium, and stir until the sugar has fully dissolved, about 5-7 minutes.
- Remove from the heat and let cool before placing into the container where you will store your creamer.
- To make the caramel macchiato, add 1/2 cup of milk to a saucepan and turn the heat to medium. When it just starts to steam, remove it from the heat and use an Aerolatte or similar frother to whip up a creamy froth in your steamed milk.
- While your milk is heating, brew your coffee. I like to use the McCafé pods to make a single serving of exactly the coffee I want.
- Once your milk is heated, carefully pour it into a cup, reserving your froth. Add the caramel macchiato cream to the hot milk.Pour the coffee atop that. Add the froth to the top of the coffee, then drizzle your reserved caramel sauce as thinly as possible over your froth to keep it from sinking to the bottom immediately.
- Serve immediately.
This caramel macchiato creamer will last for up to three weeks in your fridge.
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