Friday, August 30, 2013

Long-awaited long weekend

I don’t know about you guys, but Labor Day Weekend couldn’t get here soon enough for me.  I am so looking forward to the three days at home.  We don’t have many plans, social or otherwise, and I’m happy about that. 

My to-do list looks something like this:

  • Sleep in
  • Wash our bedding
  • Watch two movies that I have recorded
  • Clean our bathroom
  • Exercise at least two of the days
  • Eat red meat

Yep, I’ll be a pretty happy camper if I can cross off everything on that list.  I’m sure there’ll be some baking squeezed in and of course the usual laundry and general cleaning, but I think I will still have plenty of time to just relax and hang out.

What about everyone else?  Are you traveling or expecting guests?  Going to or hosting a cookout?  Taking advantage of Labor Day sales?  (I already did that – Bath & Body Works had their Wallflowers on sale for $2.50 each yesterday!)

Whatever you’re doing during your long weekend, I hope you enjoy it.


Thursday, August 29, 2013

My new favorite popcorn

I accidentally picked this box up when I was looking for my Orville Redenbacher 50% Less Fat Simply Salted Popcorn.  This is definitely a case of the real thing tasting better than the better-for-you version.


There’s just enough grease on your fingers as you eat this popcorn to make it feel decadent and to satisfy psychologically as it fills your tummy.

There are 2.5 servings of 4.5 cups so Google says that’s 11.25 cups.  Based on the number of kernels left in my bowl, I guesstimate that I eat 10 cups, which is 300 calories.  So not a small snack, but if I get enough exercise and make smart food decisions the rest of the day, I can fit in my bowl of popcorn while I watch TV at night.  Lucky for me, the McHusband isn’t usually too interested in sharing my snack so I get the whole bowl to myself. Smile

Monday was a bad day as far as my fatigue was concerned.  I really can’t remember a time when I have been that tired.  I skipped the Y, and I went to bed early that night and slept like a rock.  Tuesday was better; I wasn’t quite as tired, but I didn’t have my normal energy either.  No boot camp for me that night, just 45 minutes on several machines at the Y.  Something’s better than nothing, right?  Yesterday, though, I finally felt like myself: my energy level was normal and I cycled my way through my normal spin class without wishing I were somewhere else.  It didn’t matter where so long as I was sleeping wherever I happened to be.

Fingers crossed that today’s as good or better than yesterday.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013


Monte spent a few days in the laundry room instead of in his crate a couple weeks back.  He did fine the first couple of days, but then I guess he’d explored every nook and cranny and chewed on his bones until he had to find something else to alleviate his boredom.

The molding around the door apparently caught his eye.  Luckily he didn’t tear it up so terribly that a little paint couldn’t fix things.



Monte made sure the McHusband didn’t miss a spot.


Looks like he needed to get a little closer for final inspection.


Nice of Monte to participate in the repair of his “handiwork.”

PS  Happy Birthday to my dad today!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

So tired

I skipped my normal Monday class at the Y  last night.

I barely mustered the energy to do one load of laundry.

I was too pooped to take advantage of the nice evening to take the dogs on a walk.

I really hope this was a rare occurrence of pregnancy fatigue so I can get on with my life today.  I’ve got my boot camp tonight, and I need to make my boss’s birthday treats when I get home from the Y.

Fingers crossed that I’m writing this just before going to bed early and getting a fantastic night’s sleep.

Monday, August 26, 2013

{Recipe Recap} Chocolate Tres Leches Cake

This dessert deserves more pictures, but I’m in a rush to share it and I’m not sure it’s actually the most photographic treat.  I suggest you go directly to the source and drool over Mel’s photos.  Then wipe your chin, bake up a cake, stir up the chocolate milk, and make your own Chocolate Tres Leches Cake.

Since plain chocolate desserts aren’t usually the McHusband’s cup of tea, I knew I needed to figure out a way to make this work for my dad and me – confirmed chocoholics – and the McHusband.  Blue Bell and some caramel sauce did the trick.

This recipe is actually two treats in one.  If you like hot chocolate, then I suggest you make the chocolate milk from this recipe, heat it up, top it with some homemade whipped cream, and sip on that sweet ambrosia to your heart’s content.

Hope your week’s off to a great start!  If you live anywhere close to me, this unseasonal August weather, with temps in the mid-eighties and low humidity, has you in a great mood.  I can’t wait to get out of the office during my lunch so I can soak up some non-sticky sunshine.

{Chocolate Tres Leches Cake}

Friday, August 23, 2013

14 Weeks

I’m not sure I’m going to be doing an update like this every week, but I do think I’ll probably want to be able to look back and see how my pregnancy progressed.  So skip this post if you’re just not interested.  I’ll go ahead and wish you a TGIF!

So here’s what’s going on during Week 14:

How your baby's growing:

This week's big developments: Your baby can now squint, frown, grimace, pee, and possibly suck his thumb! Thanks to brain impulses, his facial muscles are getting a workout as his tiny features form one expression after another. His kidneys are producing urine, which he releases into the amniotic fluid around him — a process he'll keep up until birth. He can grasp, too, and if you're having an ultrasound now, you may even catch him sucking his thumb.

In other news: Your baby's stretching out. From head to bottom, he measures 3 1/2 inches — about the size of a lemon — and he weighs 1 1/2 ounces. His body's growing faster than his head, which now sits upon a more distinct neck. By the end of this week, his arms will have grown to a length that's in proportion to the rest of his body. (His legs still have some lengthening to do.) He's starting to develop an ultra-fine, downy covering of hair, called lanugo, all over his body. Your baby's liver starts making bile this week — a sign that it's doing its job right — and his spleen starts helping in the production of red blood cells. Though you can't feel his tiny punches and kicks yet, your little pugilist's hands and feet (which now measure about 1/2 inch long) are more flexible and active.

How mom is changing:

The top of your uterus is a bit above your pubic bone, which may be enough to push your tummy out a tad. Your uterus is now the size of a grapefruit.


How I’m feeling: Honestly, if it weren’t for the pictures of the baby in my belly, I wouldn’t even know I was pregnant. I’m sure that makes some women mad, but apparently I’m just not very affected by all the crazy changes taking place within.

Workouts: My stamina during workouts varies from one day to the next or one class to the next, but I am still exercising 5 to 6 times a week. Last week during my boot camp, I felt very energetic and worked out as though there were nothing different. This week, I had to back off a little because I just didn’t have as much energy for that level of intensity. But that’s to be expected and I will just take each day and class one at a time and modify as needed.

Food cravings/aversions: I’m going to say no for the most part. However, I feel like I’ve had a hard time keeping my hand out of the chips at home and the candy bin at the office, which Dr. Google said could be a result of just needing to eat more in general, but I have added the recommended 300 calories to my daily intake, and I assure you that I’m not reaching for the Riesens out of hunger. They just taste so darn good!

Sleep: Pretty good for the most part. I’m very tired come bedtime and have been falling asleep much better than I used to. I typically get up to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night most nights, which is annoying, but at least I fall right back to sleep.

Movement: I’m sure the McBaby is doing somersaults in there, but I can’t feel them yet.

Belly button in or out: In, and let’s hope it stays there.

Rings on or off: On and in no danger of not fitting so far.

Maternity clothes: Not yet, but I’m looking forward to those stretchy waistbands and I have a feeling they aren’t far off.

Recent fun or interesting things: I finally told my office the big news. Apparently they hadn’t noticed a couple pairs of pants fitting funny because everyone was totally surprised. Also, I think I had my first major episode of Baby Brain: I got gas the other night and went to quite the effort to get the passenger side of my car against the pump.

My gas tank is on the driver’s side.

New baby items: Nothing bought, but we did bring back a Jeep-load of baby stuff that Bri purged from her house. Lucky us!


Miss anything?: I’m not gonna lie, I really miss my wine spritzers and my good buddy The Captain. I also miss wearing some of my dresses and skirts, and it’s tough to not always be one of the hardest workers during a few of my classes at the Y, especially because I haven’t told them there yet so they probably just think I’m a slacker who’s growing a gut.

Hope you all have a great weekend!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Donuts = a bun in the oven

Happy Thursday!  I don’t know why, but I felt like yesterday should’ve been Thursday so I’m a little disappointed that I’m not looking right at the weekend yet.  Oh well, it’ll be here soon enough.

The McHusband’s office borrowed a tradition from the office of one of the wives: bringing donuts in to announce a pregnancy.  Well, you know me, I can’t send the McHusband in with something made by Krispy Kreme or Dunkin’ Donuts.  Amateurs. Smile  I had to make my own.  I opted for blueberry donuts with a blueberry glaze.


I was a little disappointed that the glaze soaked in so much by the following morning.  It definitely took away from the presentation, but my guess is it probably added to the blueberry flavor.  And I certainly didn’t need to worry about these sitting out and getting stale.


My office got banana bread donuts studded with cinnamon chips and covered with a cinnamon glaze.


Everyone was very surprised so maybe a few pairs of pants weren’t as tight-looking as they were feeling.  My one coworker even used the word “shocked.”  My boss waited maybe two hours before asking me about my long-term plans.  I assured him I would be back to work once my maternity leave was over. 

Doesn’t he know how hard stay-at-home moms work?!

{Blueberry Donuts}

{Banana Bread Donuts adapted from here}

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Quick review

When we were in SC two and a half weeks ago, Jenny and I got pedicures and I opted to get a gel manicure as well.  The nail tech assured me the gel would last for two to three weeks.  I decided to gamble my $20 and see what happened.

I can’t remember when the first two nails (pointer and pinkie on my left hand) started peeling, but I think it was around Day 9.  From that point through Day 14, at least one nail per day was peeling.  By this Sunday, 15 days after the manicure, I had two nails – my thumbs – still looking fine, and one pointer mostly intact and a middle finger with half the gel polish remaining.

So was the manicure worth $20?  Nah.  I really liked it while it was fresh, but since it really only lasted a week and then it kinda messed up my nails by either leaving some residue behind or peeling up some of the actual nail (I hope it was the former), I think I’m better off saving my money and painting the clear polish on myself.

Happy Hump Day!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Conservators’ Center

Quick history lesson: We – that’d be the McHusband on behalf of he and I as well as Bri and Lyla and Shannon for herself and Owen – bought Groupons a while back for the Conservators’ Center in Mebane.  More recently, Shannon asked me if I’d make cupcakes for a baby shower for her coworker.  I told her I was happy to help, we just had to figure out how I was going to get three dozen cupcakes from Raleigh to Statesville.

Long story short (or maybe not at this point), we decided to meet at the Conservators’ Center this past Sunday to kill two birds (um, not literally; that would be frowned upon at a place like the Conservators’ Center): use our Groupons and exchange the treats.

The first animals we saw were Arctic Wolves.


Next were a couple of leopards.


The Center has a number of lions and tigers.  Our tour guide was able to prompt the lions to roar for us and it was quite an acoustical show.  Lyla was a little scared when the lions really got into it, but most of the rest of us were just in awe.


These two tigers were pacing because the Center had parked a couple of golf carts outside their enclosure.  See, the golf carts run on batteries and they make a high-pitched noise that the tigers can hear and don’t like.


The female wasn’t as nervous as the male so she eventually hopped in one of her pools to cool off.  Oh yeah, did I mention it was about 95 and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky?  Yeah, summer FINALLY descends upon NC and we pick that day to spend the afternoon outside.


Next up was a Snow Tiger, who our tour guide said was probably their star guest.


Pretty easy to figure out why.  He was big and beautiful.


This caracal has diabetes so when he saw our tour guide, one of the keepers, he moved to this little box because that’s where he gets treats along with his insulin shot.


We met the Center’s only primates, a couple of lemurs.


From there, we visited the binturongs, also called bearcats, which are a species all by themselves.


One of the binturongs has three cats living with him.  See, they were in and out of his enclosure as kittens and, well, they eventually got too big to get back out.  The keepers were a little worried about the cats since binturongs are carnivores, but this one apparently has no appetite for felines.

We were able to do a selfie – groupie? – before we left.


I highly recommend the Conservators’ Center.  It took the McHusband and me about an hour to get there.  You have to make an appointment for a tour and the cost of admission is only $12.  You are literally within 4 feet of the animals and it. is. awesome. 

One suggestion though?  Go in the fall or spring.

{Conservators’ Center}

Monday, August 19, 2013

{Recipe Recap} Lemon Strawberry Cheesecake Bars

I made some good stuff this weekend: a pepperoni pizza dip, some chili pepper-rubbed salmon, and these cheesecake bars that I will be making again.  Let me rephrase: that I can’t wait to make again.


I wasn’t sure I was going to be a big fan of the shortbread crust, but it worked perfectly with these bars.  However, I love a graham cracker crust so I might try them with one of those next time.


My strawberry preserves were this delicious mixed berry (but mostly strawberry, I think) jam that the McMom gets from her neighbor who gets it from someone in the mountains.  I could literally eat this stuff by the spoonful.


The lemon flavor in these bars was there, but it wasn’t in your face.  Actually, I’d probably say the same thing about the other two major flavors as neither the cheesecake nor the berry ran the show.  Everything just worked together perfectly.


I’ve said before that cheesecake isn’t my favorite dessert and I’ve also proclaimed that most desserts are better without fruit.  However, these bars prove me wrong on both fronts, and boy am I glad they do.


{Recipe here}

Friday, August 16, 2013

Wacky weather and stuff

What is going on with the weather this summer?!  We’ve had so much rain that the McHusband never even turned our sprinkler system on.  We never saw temps hit 100, which had become the norm in the past few summers.  Shoot, temperatures near the mid-90’s were rare.  And now, here we are in the middle of August, typically our hottest month, and we’re seeing low 70’s during the day?


I wish I could say I felt confident that this will mean we’ll also have a mild winter, but I’m not sure that’s going to be the case.  We got lucky with a nice winter last time around so we may be due for ice, snow, and extended periods of frigid temps again.

But enough about the weather.  It’s not like I have any control over it so I’ll just deal with what Mother Nature hands out.

Busy weekend ahead.  I have Women’s Night in the ‘hood tonight, then we’re going to Ryan and Sandra’s for dinner (homemade pizza!) tomorrow night.  I’m making a cheesy pepperoni dip for an appetizer and some cheesecake bars for dessert to ensure there’s plenty of gluttony.  Then Sunday’ll be a day for redemption: laundry, cleaning, spinning, and a healthy dinner, probably salmon.

I’ll be back next week to tell you about our visit to the Conservators’ Center this past Sunday.


I highly recommend you guys check this place out.

TGIF and have a great weekend!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

{Recipe Recap} Double Chip Revel Bars

These are supposed to be Triple Chip Revel Bars, but I only used two chips in my fudge layer: milk chocolate and butterscotch.  Because, you know, who wants the sweet factor reduced by dark chocolate?


I hosted this month’s HOA meeting so of course I had to make something sweet like always, and then I also served hummus and veggies and phyllo cups filled with Pepperjack Pimento Cheese.


That’s Fred, the president of the board.  And if you look carefully to the left of the phyllo cups, you can see Monte’s leg.  He was an honorary member of our board this month.

Fred ate three of the Revel Bars at the meeting and took three more home with him.  The rest will be split between my office and the McHusband’s.  I’d already taken a few into my office yesterday morning and they all disappeared.  It’s rare that gets eaten on the same day so that speaks to how good these are.


(Notice how there aren’t any clothes on that chair in the back?  It’s good that I have the HOA meeting every once in a while as it forces me to put my clothes where they belong: on hangers in my closet.)

The recipe calls for making these in a 15 x 11 pan, but I don’t have one of those so I used a standard 9 x 13 pan and baked the bars for 29 minutes.

If you want to make something uncomplicated and very sweet, give these a try.  You can even lie to tell yourself that all the oatmeal is a little redeeming so these bars actually have some health benefits.

{Recipe adapted from here}

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Spilling the beans…about the bean

Even though it was a little early in the pregnancy, we wanted to tell my mom and sisters the news in person so we took advantage of our beach trip in July.

I got to Myrtle Beach on Wednesday and saw my mom and Shannon that night but kept the news under wraps.  I spent the next day, Thursday, with Mom and Shannon and my lips were zipped.  The McHusband arrived that night, and we spent most of the next day with Shannon, Owen, and Lyla, even going out to dinner where Shannon ordered a daiquiri and I stuck with water, claiming a headache from dehydration.

I really thought that was going to be a dead giveaway because Shannon isn’t much of a drinker and for her to have something and me not?  I really thought the cat was coming out of the bag.

Finally on Saturday we – my mom, Shannon, Bri, the McHusband and I (and the kids, of course) – were all together on the beach.  I pulled out my book and “suddenly remembered" a “new bookmark” I’d recently acquired, one of my ultrasound pictures.

Of course everyone was really excited and teary (it’s what we girls do, we cry at the drop of a hat).  We swore them to secrecy except amongst themselves since we still had, well, EVERYone left to tell.

When we traveled to SC the weekend before last, we stopped in Charlotte to drop the dogs off and have lunch with the McInlaws.  I made some cookies to take to SC, but I set a few aside just for Charlotte.


It took the McMom a minute to figure out that the plate said “McBaby” and not “Mommy” as she thought the plate was one that the McHusband had made when he was a kid.  I can’t really blame her as she’d probably pretty much given up on us making that announcement. Smile


We used food in SC, too.  I made that to-die-for Funfetti Cookie Cake and decorated it with frosting.  Oh, and let’s not focus on my lack of cake decorating skills, mmkay?  It’s the message that counts.


As soon as the cake-taker-topper came off, Jenny got the message and there were hugs all around.  What’s funny is on Sunday, two days later, Kevin said he had told Jenny before we got there  that he wondered if we were maybe going to have some news for them.  Guess he called it!

We wanted to wait until my dad’s visit in two weeks to tell him in person, but it was just getting too hard to keep it from everyone and we knew once our friends were aware, we were likely to get outted on Facebook, and we didn’t want my dad finding out about our pending parenthood through the cyber grapevine.  So we called my dad from the McHusband’s car this past Sunday.  Guess I’ll just have to make him a special, “You’re going to be a grandad again!” treat when he’s here.  Darn.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Joining the club

I have some bad news.  Next year’s St. Patrick’s Day party probably won’t happen.  See, I’m going to have my hands full with two under two: Monte turns one on January 29th and then, just a few short weeks later, the McHusband and I will welcome a McBaby to the family.


Yep, I’m pregnant.  Believe me, I’m as amazed to be writing those words as you are to be reading them, and I’ve been living with this info since June 17th, a.k.a. Father’s Day.  How appropriate, right?

8_7_13 Ultrasound pics

So I bet you have a few questions, huh?  Like, were we trying?  Um, no.  But remember that night in May when we celebrated Vanessa’s birthday with dinner, drinks, and dancing?  Yeah…

Did I tell the McHusband in some special way?  Is it “special” that I handed him the pee stick at the kitchen sink?

Will we find out the baby’s gender?  Of course!  I’ve got a nursery to decorate and, frankly, yellow and pale green aren’t my favorite color combo.  I already know exactly what we’ll do for a boy, which means it’ll probably be a girl.

Let’s just hope it’s human.

8_7_13 Ultrasound pics - Wave

Now that the important questions are out of the way, maybe you’re concerned for my well being and how I’ve been feeling?  Maybe a little?  I know, I’d rather talk about nursery themes, too, but maybe someone cares if I’ve been sick or not.

The first month after I found out I was really tired by the evening (and cranky, just ask the McHusband) and my stamina during my workouts definitely wasn’t what it was prior to me being knocked up.  And yes, I’m still working out five to six times a week and doing the same things.  I modify when needed for my energy level and ability to breathe, but I’m continuing with my fairly intense workouts like boot camp and spinning and Body Pump.  So far, my weight has stayed the same between weeks 8 and 12 according to the doctor’s scale, but some pairs of pants are fitting a little tighter in the waist.  I’m not working out so I don’t gain weight; I’m exercising so I put on the right number of pounds and so I can maintain some level of fitness beyond not getting winded walking between my couch and the fridge with a stop in the pantry on the way back to the couch.


No nausea and no food aversions or cravings so far.  Well, none that I attribute to being pregnant anyway.  I’ve always had cravings every once in a while where, for instance, I don’t just want but NEED a hamburger, but for the most part I eat a little bit of everything from the list of doctor-approved foods (Except cooked raw tomatoes – I will NEVER like those – and plain white rice – yuck!).

I bet you might be wondering how far along I am and when I’m due, huh?  I’m 13 weeks and I’m due right around Valentine’s Day, but I have a feeling we’ll go past that.

8_7_13 Ultrasound pics

What a way to start the new week, huh? Smile  I’ll be back with more pregnancy-related stuff like how we told our parents.  Bet you aren’t surprised to learn there was food involved, are ya?


Friday, August 9, 2013

So true

Hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Pics of kids

Chase and Leah took advantage of the skis the McHusband calls feet.




Later that day, we headed outside to the park in the backyard.


I forget why, but the kids jumped off the swings and the boys took their places.


Chase practiced his pull-ups.


On Sunday, while the boys loaded up their bikes and we girls got started on backyard bootcamp, the kids rode the Mustang around in the driveway.


Leah soon took over behind the wheel though.





And that’s all I got.  I told you I didn’t take nearly as many pictures as I should have.