Caleb’s Officially One!

I officially have a one year old.

I can’t believe that it has already been an entire year since I was able to finally set eyes on the being I grew. Someone recently shared with me an article “6 reasons December babies are special, according to science” – and while I think that all babies are special, it was a joy to read that article. I have felt so truly blessed to have Caleb in my life. It’s funny, even though he hasn’t existed that long, I cannot imagine my life without him.

The birthday boy all ready for daycare this morning.

There have been bad days, of course, but the good days outweigh the bad days a million times over. I wouldn’t trade any of it for anything.

We don’t give Caleb a lot of sugar but I did let him have a couple of bites of a cupcake. He enjoyed it a lot.

That being said…  I’m giving my two weeks notice to my job. I returned to work when Caleb was exactly 3 months old with the short-term goal of being able to stay home with him. My self-imposed deadline kept getting pushed farther and farther back. We are now at the point where I am able to stay home with Caleb and I want to take that opportunity. The toughest part of all of this was letting Caleb’s daycare know (it made me a little misty-eyed). They’ve been with him for 9 months and have watched him grow so much. We went with that daycare because it had the feeling of taking Caleb to grandma’s house and we couldn’t have asked for a better family.

That face! <3

So this is my birthday present to Caleb in a way. Sure, it will be interesting setting up our routine, especially as I will be working some from home, but I look forward to the opportunities that we will have together. There is always that doubt in my mind if this is what is best for Caleb, for our family, but I’m comforted by so many fellow moms (even some who have children that are now in their 30’s and 40’s) telling me that they do not regret staying home with their children for the first few years.

“We are reminded that, in the fleeting time we have on this Earth, what matters is not wealth, or status, or power, or fame, but rather how well we have loved and what small part we have played in making the lives of other people better.”

– Barack Obama

The birthday boy is OUT!

We celebrated his birthday today simply. A cupcake, a song (followed by the playing of the Captain Zoom birthday song – a tradition my mom started many years ago), and that was it. We’re having a few people over on Saturday for a little birthday party but nothing big.

Life with a 10 Month Old

I haven’t done just a general update on Caleb in a long time and I’ve had quite a few people asking me for one. Even though Caleb doesn’t turn 10 months officially for about 3 more days, I’m calling this his 10-month update.

It amazes me how quickly Caleb’s first year has been going by. In just a few short months, I’ll have a one-year old on my hands! Caleb started walking not long before he turned 9 months and since he figured out how to step those short little steps, there has been no stopping him. He has been walking here, there, everywhere around the house. It amazed the ladies at daycare how quickly he started walking and how well he walks. I think I have a determined – headstrong – little boy on my hands.

Just about three weeks ago, I felt Caleb’s first tooth poking through his bottom gums. A week later, another bottom tooth poked through. Then this past Friday, an upper tooth popped though! So it seems like he is averaging one tooth a week.

Most nights he sleeps through, or maybe will wake up once during the night. He’s easy to put back to sleep though for the most part with just a few minutes of nursing. His biggest issue is that some mornings, he will start tossing and turning at about 5-5:30 a.m. Once he starts to toss and turn, I find myself wide awake. I recently switched out one of his bottles that I send to daycare with some food and he is loving it. My goal is to offer breast milk to him as long as he wants but I’m not putting the pressure on myself to maintain a rigorous pumping and feeding schedule. It is less stress on my end.

Caleb loves to eat. Anything and everything. I try mostly to stick with whole foods – green beans, blueberries, and cucumbers are his favorite. I try to give him very little items with processed sugar simply because I don’t want him addicted to those kind of sweet treats. He loves it but just because you love something doesn’t mean you should have it!

This past weekend, we all went to a local farm festival. We went to the same festival last year when I was 29 weeks pregnant.

29 Weeks Pregnant

As long as we are in the area, I think we are going to try and continue the tradition of having our photo taken in front of this piece of farm equipment!

The farm festival, along with a trip on Saturday to a craft show and farmer’s market up in Wanchese, served as sort of my birthday adventure. I couldn’t have asked for a better weekend. Caleb made quick friends with a little pig, though he didn’t seem very impressed by his new friendship. Or with any of it really. 😀 I will say that he did love getting the opportunity to sample the food inside of the market!



Granny’s Old-Fashioned Multi-layer Cake with Boiled Chocolate Frosting

I still remember the first time my mother and I attempted my granny’s 16-layer chocolate cake even though it has been almost 20 years now. We had worked all afternoon on it, carefully cooking each paper thin layer of cake, guarding the fudge-like frosting as it cooked away on the stove so that it wouldn’t burn, and finally, assembling it. Pleased with ourselves, we stepped out of the kitchen until a loud splat brought us running back. Our beautiful cake was now in bits and pieces all over the floor – we had assembled it while it had been too warm and the layers had slid apart. I looked at my mom and did the only thing that I could do at the moment. I sat on the floor and started eating.

It was delicious.

That’s the kind of magic that my granny’s cake had. I can’t think of the holidays without picturing her chocolate cake, sitting modestly on top of the freezer in the backroom, though it should have been issued a place of honor at the main table. Every time we gathered at her house, for Thanksgiving, for Christmas, for birthdays, the cake would be waiting for us. We all had to pass through the backroom to enter our house (no one ever used the front door) so we all would feel a glimmer of excitement when we spotted that cake sitting there.

Even when arthritis crippled her hands, she pressed on, switching from homemade cake batter to one out of a box. She faithfully made her icing the same way, though at times my grandfather had to take over for her (under her watchful eye of course). Sometimes the cake would have 14 layers, sometimes closer to 19. It was always a game to see who could come the closest to guessing the number of layers before we counted, peeling off each layer to eat, line by line.

My granny passed away this past January, only a few brief months before I would find out that I’m pregnant with my first child. I’m looking forward to sharing the magic of this cake with my own child as he grows. Even though I might have learned my lesson to let the layers cool before assembling the cake, who knows, maybe I’ll let him help me and start a tradition of eating cake off of the floor.

Trust me, it’s worth it.

Even though my granny started using a box cake mix in her later years, I went with her original recipe. When Robb saw me unloading not just butter but margarine for this cake, he said that it HAD to be good with all of that fat in there.

The key is nice, thin layers. I made my layers just a little too thick but my body was just exhausted. Being 8 months pregnant would do that to you!

There is an ingredient in the frosting that doesn’t normally appear in most other boiled frosting recipes, an ingredient that I think turns this into an almost foolproof recipe – marshmallows. I’ve done a little digging around and it seems that adding in marshmallows became a thing in a few areas of the country back in the 1960’s. When I called my mom to ask if she remembered including marshmallows during our initial fateful recreation years ago, she said that it didn’t seem familiar to her but perhaps that was why her attempt failed.

After letting your frosting cool for just a few minutes – and be careful because it will be hot – start stacking your cake, pouring the frosting over layer by layer. Making this cake requires a tremendous amount of patience.  If you try to hurry through it, your layers will start to slip and slide just like ours did.

The worst part about making this cake is even after you get it all assembled – you still have to wait. Wait for it to harden and solidify. It’ll be well worth the wait, trust me.


Print Recipe
Granny's Old-Fashioned Multi-layer Cake with Boiled Chocolate Frosting
Don’t be ashamed if your first couple of attempts at making this cake come out less than spectacular. It took my granny years to perfect her cake and even then, she would occasionally put out a product that was, in her mind, “sub-par”. I simply called it rustic.
Course Dessert
Servings
1 12-layer(ish) cake
Ingredients
Cake
  • 1 stick margarine room temperature
  • 1 stick butter room temperature
  • 2 c. white cane sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 3 c. self-rising flour
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 c. whole milk
Frosting
  • 1 1/2 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 4 1/2 c. white cane sugar
  • 2 1/4 c. evaporated milk
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 stick margarine
  • 12 large marshmallows
Course Dessert
Servings
1 12-layer(ish) cake
Ingredients
Cake
  • 1 stick margarine room temperature
  • 1 stick butter room temperature
  • 2 c. white cane sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 3 c. self-rising flour
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 c. whole milk
Frosting
  • 1 1/2 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 4 1/2 c. white cane sugar
  • 2 1/4 c. evaporated milk
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 stick margarine
  • 12 large marshmallows
Instructions
Cake
  1. Preheat your oven to 350°F.
  2. Grease and flour your 9” baking pans (I used shortening and flour).
  3. Beat butter, margarine, and sugar together with an electric mixer until creamy.
  4. Add in your eggs, vanilla, milk, and flour, mixing until well combined.
  5. Using a measuring cup, measuring out just over ¼ of a cup of batter in each of your baking tins. Smooth out the batter using the back of a spoon.
  6. Bake each layer for 8-10 minutes until done - depending on the amount of batter you add to each tin will dictate how long it will take to cook. You’ll want the cake to spring back when touching lightly in the center. Remove from pans to the cooling racks.
  7. Wipe out cake pans, grease and flour the again, and bake the remaining cake layers as directed.
Frosting
  1. In a large heavy saucepan, melt the cocoa powder, sugar, evaporated milk, vanilla extract, margarine, and marshmallows over medium-low heat until the sugar is dissolved.
  2. Bring to a rolling boil and cook for 8 minutes, stirring constantly. Be careful as the liquid will be hot.
  3. Remove from heat and allow to cool for 5 minutes.
  4. Assemble your cake, pouring your frosting over each layer.
  5. Let sit for a and enjoy!
Recipe Notes

Don’t be in a rush. If you notice that your cake is starting to slide after you begin frosting it, secure it with a few wooden dowels or skewers. Since the layers are so thin on this cake, you will notice that you can see the ridges through the frosting. That is okay!

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Lil Bean’s Birth Story

Meet Lil Bean – aka Caleb!

DOB: 12/5/17 | Weight: 9.9 lbs. | Length: 21″

I’m currently sitting in my living room on a chilly December morning, snug as a bug in my “throne” (i.e. numerous pillows and blankets tucked around me) with a hearty crockpot going in the kitchen. Most important of all, I get to look at my Lil Bean, also snug as a bug in his little swing, completely at peace with the world.

Lil Bean is officially one week old as of today and let me tell you, it has been a whirlwind of a week. On my Week 38 Update, I wrote that we had a set date for Lil Bean’s C-section – December 6th. I made December 1st my last working day so that I could take Monday and Tuesday to get some errands done, relax, and prepare for my c-section.

Pssh. Let me tell you what really happened.

Sunday, Robb and I went to visit a fellow couple and their two week old baby. After that, we went to a local restaurant – Montero’s – for brunch. He had never been there and I just wanted to go out to eat. We ended up leaving the restaurant way beyond stuffed.

That’s when I started feeling funny. Crampy, some back pain, nauseous, just a little out of sorts really. Still, I went on about my day though I couldn’t quite get comfortable at night. Monday came and I woke up feeling a little bit more out of sorts but I had a full day planned – I wanted to get a haircut, check out a potential daycare, etc. By lunchtime, I was starting to hurt so I went home to rest, thinking I would finish up my errands on Tuesday (grocery store and picking up contacts).

I woke up on Tuesday and Robb drove me to the hospital to have some blood work done. I hadn’t been able to sleep at all Monday night due to cramping so even though Robb suggested we go and talk to labor and delivery, I shrugged it off. Less than 24 hours from then, I would have my C-section anyway.

He drove me home and went off to work for a few hours. The pain grew worse and grew constant (I tried to time the waves but they never seemed to end). There was no relief or break – not through a shower or heating pad so when Robb called to check on me about two hours later, he suggested that I call my doctor and then actually called for me because I didn’t think I could get enough words out. Belle tried to help by bringing me toys and snuggling with me.

After a call from my doctor, Robb came and picked me up to carry me to the hospital. We got to the hospital about 11 a.m., they hooked me up to some machines to register my contractions and SURPRISE – active labor. Not long after, my mom showed up and we were told that they would start making preparations to have my C-section that day, basically within the next hour or so.

It was non-stop action at that point. People coming in and out of the room, getting me set-up with my IVs, measuring my vitals, etc. A little after lunchtime, I was given a pain medication that took the edge off – and it certainly helped. After having no sleep for the past few days, all I wanted to do then was close my eyes.

Being rolled into the operating room was a surreal experience. I had never had any sort of surgery so I had no idea. In my haze, it almost seemed a bit alien – big bright lights, people milling about everywhere in scrubs. I was given a spinal block which was not pleasant by any means. Then there was nothing but numbness. I had the shakes pretty bad, even though they covered my arms in heated blankets, I couldn’t stop shaking.

They put up the curtain and that’s when Robb walked in. He was quite brave and peeked over the curtain quite a few times. His eyes got really big at one point but he never wavered. Talking to him later, it was quite a trippy experience for the both of us – he saw more of me than most people ever see of someone and all I felt during the whole process was a bit of tugging. He saw my water being broken with a huge gush and not long after, watched our Lil Bean being snatched out butt first.

As soon as he came out, he started to cry. After 9 months, I couldn’t believe that he was finally here. The doctor held him up so that I could see him and after a few moments, his umbilical cord was cut. Robb followed them over to where they got his measurements and cleaned him up some (no bath) and then he was brought over to me and placed him on my chest. I think Caleb and I were both looking at each other with a sense of wonderment at that time.

Robb left with Caleb as they finished closing me up and I was wheeled back to my room. Start to finish, I’d say the whole process took less than 1 hour. I was feeling no pain at that time and watched my mom and Robb change Caleb’s first diaper.

After two hours, I was taken to the recovery room where I would spend the next two days with Robb and Caleb. Tuesday wasn’t bad. Wednesday, I felt like I had been hit by a truck. I tried to move around in the bed as much as I could and tried to make it a point to get out of bed every few hours. It sucked but even though pain medication was available, I didn’t take much advantage of it – the pain wasn’t that bad to me. Getting woken up throughout the night by the nurses was not fun nor was the fact that I really couldn’t tend to Caleb, but the time passed. We were discharged on Thursday and after a few quick stops, headed home.

Our first evening home – I’m not intentionally shooting Robb the bird.

Robb was a huge help in the hospital and even now that we’re home, he has been amazing. He has been the primary diaper-changer (just because it has been hard for me to move about) and has taken care of me and Caleb wonderfully. The first few days after getting home, I was still sore but today – there is a soreness but I feel much more invigorated (I’ve done dishes, cleaned the kitchen some, changed diapers). Everyone keeps commenting on how surprised they are that I am recovering as quickly as I am.

Since coming home from the hospital, Caleb has had two doctor’s appointments (one was a follow-up for his weight), been introduced to Belle (we’ve been letting her in for a few hours at a time – she really doesn’t seem interested in him other than in sniffing his butt), and gone on a Sunday drive with us (which was actually on Monday, but it’s what we call the days when we ride around to look at houses). Nights have been a bit rough but as Robb is a morning person and I’m more of a night owl, it’s working out somewhat.

To be honest, I’m glad that everything worked out how it did – that even though my C-section was scheduled, it ended up having to be a day early. It all happened so quickly that none of us really had time to think about it. Plus, I love the fact that Caleb had his little heart set on being born December 5th – ever since the early stages of my pregnancy, I just KNEW that December 5th would be his date of birth.

Week 38 Update

We have a date! It looks like Lil Bean’s birthday will be December 6th. I was sooo close to having predicted his date of birth back when I was three months pregnant. I said that it would be December 5th. But December 6th is a great day.

It’s weird knowing when his birthday will be. It’s weird knowing that I only have a few days left of feeling him squirm around in my belly. It really makes it real now that I have a date.

This Friday will be my last day at work before I start my maternity leave (which is perfect because we are having a potluck that day). It’ll let me have Monday off to relax/run some errands and Tuesday to go and get my blood drawn. They want to draw 2 pints to have on hand just in case I end up needing to have a blood transfusion during my procedure. I also have to take a shower the night before and the morning of using a special disinfectant soap. At least I’ll start the day with clean hair!

38 Weeks

When I went in for my doctor’s appointment, I really didn’t have many questions. Our doctor went over the basic procedure last week which was good enough for me. I have done research on the after part of having a c-section as well as looked up pictures of the process itself but for the most part (which I jokingly compared to the Chestburster scene in Alien), I know that if I research too much then I will only freak myself out.

We still don’t know what time yet and probably won’t know for a few more days. Scheduling a c-section on a Wednesday is a bit of an anomaly for our hospital but Monday/Tuesday (the usual days) were already fully booked with inductions, c-sections, and other birth/delivery procedures. It’ll either be at 7:30 a.m. or 12:30 p.m. Personally, I’m voting for 12:30 since we have to be there 2 hours beforehand.

It was nice weather this past weekend, so we took the dogs down to the pond. We all had such a good time and it was nice to get outside in the fresh air.