Friday, February 28, 2014

South Carolina cousins

Kevin, Jenny, and the kids came up here last Saturday.  Luckily they were in Charlotte for the weekend so it was a much shorter trip for them than if they had come all the way from home in SC.

Chase and Leah were very excited to hold Connor.




I know it looks like Chase was checking out Connor’s, um, unmentionables, but he was actually looking at Connor’s feet.


Kevin and Jenny took a turn getting some Connor cuddles, too.



(Does Jenny’s sweater look familiar?  Gotta love Target’s maternity clothes.)

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We took some group shots of all the kids with the McHusband and me before they left that afternoon and this was the best one.  I give props to family photographers who can get everyone looking in the same direction with smiles on their faces.


I’m two weeks into my “vacation” as the McHusband refers to my maternity leave and so far motherhood is very time consuming.  Connor eats all.the.time it seems like and between the times I hold him because that’s what he wants and the times I hold him because that’s what I want, there’s not a lot of time left for other stuff like blogging, emailing, and, you know, truly important stuff like showering.  I think I need to get out the Bjorn so I can multi-task and hold the baby while computering.  Think I’ll continue to shower alone though. 

Connor has his two-week this afternoon so keep your fingers crossed that his weight is at least up to 7lbs15oz, his birth weight.  I’m doing my best to breastfeed, but I have had to supplement with one bottle toward the end of the day since Sunday night.  I hope to keep up with Connor’s demands at least as well as I have been, and I hope to get good news from the doctor today.  The upside to the one bottle is that the McHusband can experience feeding Connor, which is nice.  


Wednesday, February 26, 2014

{Recipe Recap} Butterscotch Cream Peanut Butter Bars

So I’ve baked two treats and some banana bread since Connor was born.  I made dessert for some friends who brought us dinner last Thursday, then I made these Butterscotch Cream Peanut Butter Bars for Saturday when Kevin, Jenny, and the kids visited us in the afternoon.


These were supposed to be cookies, but let’s face it – I don’t have time to scoop dough and drop it onto cookie sheets so bars made the most sense.


These had a healthy dose of peanut butter so that there was no mistaking the flavor.  I hate when you make something with peanut butter and you can hardly tell it’s even an ingredient much less one of the primary ones after which the treat is named. 


There’s butterscotch in these in two forms: melted and in chips.  When I melted my chips, I used some Bailey’s Brown Sugar Vanilla creamer to kick up that flavor.  Then I probably added a few more chips than originally called for but who was counting?


These had perfect texture.  Not even remotely cake-y, but not so underdone that they were gooey.  A crisp outside and a chewy inside – perfection!


This recipe came from Peanut Butter Comfort, a cookbook that I requested as a birthday gift from Kevin and Jenny.  So it was only right that I make them something from that book. 


Since the recipe isn’t on Averie’s site, I’ve included it below.  I highly recommend giving it a try.


  • 1 stick butter, softened
  • 3/4 c. creamy peanut butter
  • 1 c. brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4 c. granulated sugar
  • 1 T. vanilla
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 c. butterscotch chips, melted
  • 2 T. milk or cream
  • 2 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 t. baking soda
  • 1/4 t. salt
  • 1/2 c. butterscotch chips (or 1 c. like I used)


To the mixing bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, add butter, peanut butter, and sugars and beat on medium-high speed for 2 minutes to cream.  Add vanilla and egg, beat for 2 minutes on med-high speed.  Set bowl aside.

In a small saucepan or in a double boiler, combine 1 c. butterscotch chips and cream and cook over low to medium-low heat to melt the chips, stirring nearly continuously.  Set aside to cool for a couple minutes.

After cooling, add the butterscotch mixture to the mixing bowl and beat on medium-high speed for 2 minutes.

Add the flour, baking soda, and salt and mix until just incorporated.  Add the butterscotch chips.  Place mixing bowl in the fridge for at least two hours.  (I spread the  dough in my 9 x 13 pan and chilled it.)

After dough has chilled, preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Using a small cookie scoop, form balls and drop onto Silpat- or parchment-lined baking sheets, about 2 inches apart.  Flatten mounds slightly with your finger.

Bake for 8 to 10 minutes.  The bottoms will have set yet the tops will look quite underdone.  This is okay; don’t overbake because they will set more while cooling.  Allow cookies to cool on the baking sheets for at least 10 minutes or until they have firmed up.  Store cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to one week, or in the freezer for up to 3 months.


Recipe adapted from Peanut Butter Comfort by Averie Sunshine.

Have a great Hump Day!

Monday, February 24, 2014

The McHusband’s new role

So I think most of you either know us or were able to put two and two together: no blog posts did in fact = a baby.  The McBaby, or Connor Patrick as we’re calling him, was born on Saturday, February 15th, at 9:14 pm.  I’ll do a whole birth story post on him and an update on how our first week (or two, depending on how long it takes me to write the aforementioned update) has gone,  but first I have to talk about the other very important guy in my life: the McHusband.


I already knew I had a wonderful husband.  Now I know what an amazing partner I have for this new adventure we have embarked upon since welcoming Connor a couple Saturdays ago.


I may have carried Connor and he may be dependent on me for nourishment, but the McHusband has been and is right there every step of the way.  He sits with me while I feed Connor, he readily changes even the stinkiest of diapers, and he just plain likes to hold his son, something he never saw the appeal of before the baby was his own.



In the hospital, we learned about the importance of skin-to-skin contact with newborns and the McHusband wanted to be a part of that so he and Connor spent some time in a very uncomfortable glider.  Right off the bat, the McHusband was ready and willing to do whatever was necessary to ensure a happy and healthy baby.


Our first night at home was rough.  It was quite an adjustment for all of us, to say the least.  At the end of that very long night, just after the sun rose, the McHusband stepped up for a shift with Connor.  While I slept, he tended to the baby.  When I got up, I found them sleeping in the twin bed in Connor’s room.  Let me tell you: hormones + fatigue + that scene equaled major tears from this new mom.  It was so sweet to see them together like that, a father and his son, my husband and my new baby, both of them so vulnerable and adorable and peaceful.


So thank you to my fabulous McHusband for being right there beside me this whole time.  He has picked up my slack and I so appreciate everything he’s done for me and for the baby.  We make a pretty good team, he and I, and I wouldn’t want to be doing this with anyone else.


P.S.  Happy Birthday to the McMom today!  And a belated happy birthday to Olivia whose birthday was Friday.  Yep, lots to celebrate in February!

Friday, February 14, 2014

Happy Valentine’s Day!

I was going to share some treats with you today, but I think I’m going to have to go with something a little cuter and a heckuva lot sweeter.

I’ve told you before that Morgan’s not much for cuddling while Monte never lets an opportunity to snuggle go by.  Well, Morgan must’ve been really tired last night from all the laying around in front of the fire she did all day because she didn’t get up from her bed in a huff when Monte had the audacity to let his head touch hers.


Actually, they are more than just touching.  Monte’s got his head ON Morgan’s.


I’m sure Monte was in seventh heaven with Morgan letting him do this.


Right, Monte?  “Shh, don’t wake her up, she never lets me do this.”


Anyone notice that the wall behind the dogs looks a little bare?  Well, they were playing Wednesday morning and somehow tugged on one of the curtains so that the thing in the wall, the thing that holds the rod, broke.


See how only a very small portion of the bottom of the thingamajig on the left is still up there?


So now I have to see if I can buy a new set of these things and if I can’t, hopefully my oh-so-handy McHusband can glue the two pieces back together and make it good as new.

It would appear that I have made it to my due date!  While I had (Who am I kidding – while I STILL have) relatively selfish reasons for wanting to make it through the weekend, can I just tell you how happy I was to get home on Wednesday after more than four hours on snowy, icy roads (a drive that normally takes maybe 30 minutes) and to STAY home on Thursday?  We are very thankful that the McBaby didn’t decide to up the ante a little bit and make this snowstorm that much more interesting by forcing us to drive in the ice to the hospital.  He’s totally getting a car on his 16th birthday.

(Oh, by the way: Monday is President’s Day (Happy Birthday, George!) and it’s also a company holiday so I’d normally not post anything that day.  So don’t think no post = a baby unless you see something in the Instagram pictures to indicate that coincidence.)


Thursday, February 13, 2014

39 weeks

How your baby's growing: Your baby's waiting to greet the world! He continues to build a layer of fat to help control his body temperature after birth, but it's likely he already measures about 20 inches and weighs a bit over 7 pounds, about the size of a mini-watermelon. (Boys tend to be slightly heavier than girls.) The outer layers of his skin are sloughing off as new skin forms underneath.

How mom is changing: At each of your now-weekly visits, your caregiver will do an abdominal exam to check your baby's growth and position. She might also do an internal exam to see whether your cervix has started ripening: softening, effacing (thinning out), and dilating (opening). But even armed with this information, there's still no way for your caregiver to predict exactly when your baby is coming. If you go past your due date, your caregiver will schedule you for fetal testing (usually a sonogram) after 40 weeks to ensure that it's safe to continue the pregnancy. If you don't go into labor on your own, most practitioners will induce labor when you're between one and two weeks overdue — or sooner if there's an indication that the risk of waiting is greater than the risks of delivering your baby without further delay.

2-11 39w1dclose

Most recent doctor’s appointment: Once again, nothing exciting to report. The doctor measured my belly but I didn’t ask its size, and she listened to the heartbeat and said it was 148. I’m dilated to 1.5 cm, which is great considering this week’s weather. I didn’t want to hear that I was 3 cm and she thought I could go into labor at any moment. Also once again, my weight went up by one pound, which was a pleasant surprise. I’ve been indulging since last week and using the end of my pregnancy as a bit of an excuse to not pay as much attention to my food choices. They’re obviously still showing up on the scale, just not quite as bad as I thought they would.

How I’m feeling: I really can’t complain much. I’m not THAT uncomfortable, but I won’t say that I love being SO pregnant. I’ve definitely been having Braxton Hicks contractions, and those show up as both a general tightening of the belly as well as period-like cramps. Fun stuff.

For comparison’s sake: The first picture is from November when I was about 26 weeks pregnant; the second is from Tuesday when I was 39 weeks (And 1 day, but who’s counting?).

11081307592-11 39w1d

Workouts: Pretty good until the weather shut down the city. I went to the Y on Saturday, Monday, and Tuesday and we’ll see if I can motivate myself to do some weightlifting at home tonight in place of my usual muscle conditioning class.

Food cravings/aversions: Keep the protein; I want carbs, and the simpler the better. Chocolate, ice cream, chips, crackers, cereal, I can’t get enough. I wonder if it’s related to being tired and my body looking for a quick energy source.

Sleep: Pretty much the same: I fall asleep fast and hard and generally sleep well except for getting up once to go to the bathroom. If I go to bed before the McHusband, he typically follows me less than an hour later and I don’t know that I’ve woken up once when he crawls in next to me.

Movement: Still a fair amount of movement and considering how cramped the McBaby must be in there, it can’t be all that easy for him to wiggle around.

Belly button in or out: Out and proud!

Rings on or off: On and fitting fine, even almost slipping off when I’m cold.

Recent fun or interesting things: Well, the McHusband got the car seat bases installed in our cars, and I’ve been driving around with the car seat in my backseat. Strange to have it back there. For those wondering: I opted to have the car seat either behind me or in the middle. I chose that placement for convenience as far as me getting in and out of the car, but also because when I pull into the garage, I’m to the left of the McHusband’s car, which means there’s not a whole lot of room to get the car seat out on the passenger side. Sure, I could back in, but let’s save that desperate measure for if the current position doesn’t work. As for reaching the baby, I still couldn’t reach him very well if he were behind the passenger seat and I feel like it might be dangerous for me to try to do so while driving. With the baby behind me, I know I won’t even try and that’s safer for everyone (me, the baby, and my fellow road warriors).

Miss anything?: My normal winter wardrobe. I have a fair amount to choose from and it’s cute stuff! Now I feel like I’m just wearing the same stuff week in and week out. Yesterday’s outfit involved a tank top and short-sleeved cardigan. Not exactly appropriate for the weather we had, but I just had to mix things up a little. At least I wore a scarf.  Also, you have no idea how badly I wanted some wine when I got home after my four-hour-and-fifteen-minute drive home in the snow yesterday.

2-12 39w2d outfit

{The McHusband and I are enjoying a snow day at home today.  At least, let’s hope that’s what we’re doing rather than braving terrible road conditions thanks to an impatient McBaby.}

Tuesday, February 11, 2014


The house is clean.

The baby’s room is all set.

My bags are as packed.

(Well, as packed as they’re going to be until the last minute when I add toiletries, my hair dryer, and my straightener.  What, you think I’m going to leave the hospital looking like a new mom?  Heck no!  That might be my last chance to get ready in relative peace.)

And the car seat has been installed.


I’m assuming it’s going to be pretty chilly for the first few weeks after the McBaby is born so we have a car seat cover to help keep him warm.  I can just imagine his sweet little face peeking up at us.


But let’s hope we don’t see that sweet face until Sunday or Monday.  This mom-to-be would like at least one last weekend day to sleep in.

Monday, February 10, 2014

{Recipe Recap} Browned Butter Cinnamon Sugar Cookie Bars

Another productive weekend thanks to the McBaby’s imminent arrival.  We went out to dinner with friends Friday night and I got my cheeseburger-and-fry fix.  On Saturday, the McHusband and I went to the Carolina Theatre and saw Defending the Caveman, which was a one-man “show.”  I say “show” because he was kinda like a stand-up comic, but his routine was presented a little like a play.  He was pretty entertaining.  Before we headed to Durham that afternoon, we set up the tripod on the patio and snapped a few photos.


Sunday was my day for chores and baking and making what may be our last pre-baby homemade (by me) Sunday-night dinner.

We had Turkey and Quinoa Meatloaf, steamed cauliflower, and edamame.  I made the meatloaf once before and I think the cook time was wrong so it was a little dry.  This time, I used my meat thermometer and pulled the meatloaf out at 40 minutes and it was great.


So I have a coworker whose birthday is the 17th.  Between the baby and the fact that the 17th is a company holiday, I wanted to bring his birthday treat a little early.


I chose these bars because Jamie likes cinnamon.  And, well, so do I.


At first, I thought maybe these bars were going to lose points for being too cakey, but they proved me wrong.  They weren’t overly gooey, they weren’t too dry, they were just right.


I threw some white chocolate chips in along with the cinnamon chips.  I’m not sure they were necessary, but I like the way they look.

The cinnamon-sugar mixture on top made the bars a little crackly and of course amped up the cinnamon flavor.


The recipe calls for browning the butter first rather than just melting it.  If you don’t feel like taking the time to do that, I think they would still be fabulous with non-browned butter.

One last picture, a behind-the-scenes look at my little photoshoot this afternoon.


Morgan is a professional napper, she doesn’t let anything get in the way of her snoozin’.

After my baking and picture-taking, I got busy around the house.  My toilets are scrubbed, my floors are vacuumed, swept, and mopped, animal beds are washed, and my laundry is done.  So if the McBaby comes this week, at least the house is clean.  And if he doesn’t, well, at least it won’t be that hard to clean the house again next weekend.

Hope your week’s off to a great start!

{Recipe here}

Friday, February 7, 2014

38 weeks

How your baby's growing: Your baby has really plumped up. He weighs about 6.8 pounds and is over 19 1/2 inches long (about the size of a leek). He has a firm grasp, which you'll soon be able to test when you hold his hand for the first time! His organs have matured and are ready for life outside the womb.

Wondering what color your baby's eyes will be? You may not be able to tell right away. If he's born with brown eyes, they'll likely stay brown. If he's born with steel gray or dark blue eyes, they may stay gray or blue or turn green, hazel, or brown by the time he's 9 months old. That's because a child's irises (the colored part of the eye) may gain more pigment in the months after he's born, but they usually won't get "lighter" or more blue. (Green, hazel, and brown eyes have more pigment than gray or blue eyes.)

How mom is changing: Some swelling in your feet and ankles is normal during these last weeks (yes, I have noticed a little), but call your practitioner without delay if you notice excessive or sudden swelling of your feet or ankles, more than slight swelling of your hands, any swelling in your face or puffiness around your eyes, or have a sudden weight gain.


Most recent doctor’s appointment: Nothing exciting to report. My belly measured 34 centimeters, which is smaller than you’d normally expect because the number of centimeters normally corresponds, within 2, to the number of weeks pregnant you are. The doctor said my number was down because the baby is low and definitely on the move into the birth canal. My weight went up by one pound, which I’m okay with. If you had seen the amount of pizza, chips, ice cream (with caramel sauce!), and garlic-butter sauce I ate on Saturday, you’d be surprised that it was just one pound.  The doctor guesstimated that the baby will be about 7 1/2 pounds when he’s born.

How I’m feeling: Generally good. I vacuumed on Sunday and my back quickly reminded me that it doesn’t enjoy that activity. I’m more tired this week than I have been in a while, and I’ve been having what I guess are Braxton-Hicks contractions, but they aren’t regular nor very painful, just kinda annoying.

Workouts: Good this week. I made it to the Y on Saturday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday when I went to a spin class, and last night for my muscle conditioning class.  I’d like to have the same schedule next week but we’ll just have to see what’s going on and how I’m feeling.


38w3d front

(I don’t normally even take my phone into the Y let alone take selfies in the locker room, but I thought last night might be my last chance to document my active pregnancy.)

Food cravings/aversions: I’m not necessarily craving it, but before I’m done being pregnant, I want to eat a cheeseburger and all the fries that come with it without the side of guilt that’d normally accompany a meal like that.

Sleep: Falling asleep quickly and sleeping better in general except that I can pretty much count on having to get up once to go to the bathroom. Luckily, once I get back in bed, I’m typically back in dreamland without much difficulty.

Movement: The McBaby’s still very active, and he gets the hiccups at least once a day. I told a coworker that it’s no wonder babies get so upset when they have the hiccups – those things are annoying.  I can tell he’s running out of room though because sometimes he literally moves my lowest right rib with his movements.

Belly button in or out: Pretty much all out.

Rings on or off: On and fitting fine.

Recent fun or interesting things: We finished the baby’s room!

Miss anything?: Easily tying my shoes. Not wondering if I’ll be at work the next day because it’s just a given that I will be.

38w2d feet

Thursday, February 6, 2014

{Recipe Recap} Banana Spice Cake with Vanilla Rum Icing

We celebrated a coworker’s birthday in the office on Monday.  Since we were getting together for a breakfast meeting, I wanted to make something that worked for the early time but was also sweet enough to count as a birthday treat.


I had ripe bananas, a lemon, and a box of spice mix.  This recipe was just what I was looking for.


The flavor of the cake was great, but I thought the texture was a little too light and fluffy.  I didn’t necessarily need this to be a banana BREAD, but I wanted it to be denser than it was.


But the frosting?  Oh man, so good!  I made it with a stick of melted butter, three cups of powdered sugar, two teaspoons of vanilla, two TABLEspoons of spiced rum, and a few splashes of milk until the consistency was just right.


The coworker whose birthday we were celebrating said, “The cake’s good, but I really like the frosting.”  Another coworker and the McHusband were fans of the combo, and it didn’t take long for the McHusband’s office to gobble up the half-a-Bundt I sent in with him.


Would I make the cake part again?  Probably not since I didn’t like the texture very much.  But the icing?  Oh, we will definitely be seeing it again.


{Recipe adapted from here}