Easter Basket Ideas for Infants

It’s Caleb’s first Easter this year! Even though I know that he’ll not really have any idea what is going on, I still wanted to do a little Easter basket for him. We are also planning to take him to see the Easter Bunny next weekend as long as the weather is decent. So one of the hardest things for me was finding items for his Easter basket. My mom always did such a great job of putting together baskets that were actually useful instead of having junk in them that we just tossed. Sometimes I would get items for the beach or items to use in the garden but she always made sure to get me something sweet!

When creating an Easter basket, especially for that first Easter, I think it is important to go with more practical items. Keeping that in mind, here are some of the items that will be in my little one’s basket this year.

 

Philips Avent BPA Free Soothie Pacifier – Caleb has already gotten to the point where he doesn’t seem to need a pacifier but when he uses one, these are his favorite. Since he seems to be starting to teeth, I think they help him out a little bit. Plus, they are made of silicone and are super easy to sterilize by just tossing them in the dishwasher.

 

When Spring Comes by Kevin Henkes – I picked this little board book up a few weeks ago and absolutely love it. I try to read to Caleb almost everyday so getting him another book was a no-brainer for me. The artwork in this particular book is great and I love how it using small, basic words to talk about the changing of the season.

 

Wilderness Romper from Finn and Ark – Isn’t this romper adorable? It looks like the perfect thing for Caleb for wear during the summer so I got it in a 6-9 month size. This Etsy shop (based out of Canada) is full of great products in a variety of styles. I’ve been eyeballing her nursing hoodies as well. Even though Caleb has plenty of clothes, he doesn’t have anything similar to this so I thought a little outfit would be the perfect addition.

 

Wooden Name Puzzle from FromJennifer – Jennifer’s Etsy shop is full of beautifully crafted wooden items and I have been wanting this wooden puzzle since I found out that I was pregnant. I know that Caleb won’t be able to actually do the puzzle for a while but the letters (I went with maple) are perfect for teething.

 

Coconut Cream Easter Egg – Okay. I’m not going to lie. This one is really for me but what is an Easter basket without a little something sweet in there? I love, love, love the handmade coconut cream Easter eggs that are sold this time of year (and the peanut butter ones as well). I don’t think there has been an Easter yet that I haven’t either been given one or picked up one for myself. Robb, Caleb, and I are headed to the farmer’s market tomorrow and the word on the street is that there will be some eggs at the market!

Transitioning to Work After Maternity Leave

I went back to work today. It’s weird, it feels like I had never left to begin with. Those 3 months that I had with Lil Bean absolutely flew by and I’m grateful for the time that I had to spend with him, though it is a little bittersweet to not be snuggling with him right now. I certainly enjoyed the lazy days I spent with him.

This was a super lazy day – pajamas and bathrobes all day!

Even though Caleb is having to go to daycare, I don’t worry because I know that he is going to a nurturing environment.

Here are some tips to help make the transition easier on the mom’s behalf when you return to work.

  • Find the right daycare. Robb and I toured two daycare facilities in our area. The first was a more modern daycare – everything was electronic and they put a lot of emphasis on education (teaching the babies sign language starting at 6 months – which is something that I plan on doing). We both fell in love with that daycare and almost canceled our appointment with the second daycare. Wanting to have something to compare the first one to, we went and toured the second daycare. It was the day before my c-section and I already wasn’t feeling my best. This daycare didn’t have the bells and whistles. They still communicated by sending a note home and they didn’t even take debit cards! But after we left, we knew that was the daycare for us. Sure, it was dated but it felt right. We both felt that taking our little one to that daycare was the equivalent of taking him to grandma’s house. It had that same comforting vibe that we wanted Caleb to have at this age. Fun fact: We found out that one of the caregivers is actually my granddad’s cousin!
  • Enjoy the quiet time. The time is takes for me to get from the daycare to my place of work is about 10 minutes. It’s nice to have that time all to myself. I can blast the radio, roll the windows down, or simply use that time to reflect on my life. Think of it as free time. Time that you don’t have to feel guilty about taking for yourself.
  • Ease into it. I took Caleb to daycare half a day on Monday and Tuesday before returning to work on today. That allowed me to run some errands with a little bit of me time thrown in. But more importantly, it allowed Caleb to start to recognize some of the daycare staff and gave me the confidence to know that he would be okay. Those 4 hours flew by. If you have the opportunity, try to take your child for part of the day before you go back to work full-time.
  • Get to know the staff. The staff at the daycare we chose are wonderful. They are so friendly and will talk your ear off if you let them. I’ve been hugged so many times by them. The staff have been there for over 20 years and love what they do. They understand how hard it can be to leave your baby and really make the effort to get to know the parents. To me, that speaks volumes. We aren’t just another payment to them, we are family.
  • Have a plan. Sure, there is always going to be upsets to your plan – a diaper blowout, alarm didn’t go off, etc., but try to have somewhat of an idea on how your morning is going to go. If your partner is home in the mornings, what can he do to help (i.e. Robb lets out the dogs and gets Caleb dressed for daycare while I dress for work)? What can you do in the evenings to help your mornings? I try to pick out my clothes the night before and ready Caleb’s bottles. What are you going to do for supper? I’ve really been working hard on get some sort of a meal plan in place and relying on my crock pot/pressure cooker.

The work day certainly seems to fly by though when I know I have my little one waiting for me!

Caleb’s first day of daycare – as well as his 3 month birthday!


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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 37 Update [Breech Baby Confirmed]

Week 37 was a bit of a rough week, more so emotionally than anything. Robb and I went on Tuesday to my ultrasound appointment and they confirmed that Lil Bean was breeched (Lil Bean and I both checked out healthy otherwise). On the bright side, we did get to see Lil Bean waving at us and learned that he has a fat lower lip (he must get his lips from me). The technician also stated that it appears that Lil Bean is currently in the 90th percentile and weighs a little over 8 pounds (she said that she could be off a pound either way).

37 Weeks!

When we met with the doctor, he gave us a few options – we could try external cephalic version (ECV), which is an attempt to physically turn Lil Bean so that he’s head down. There’s about a 50/50 chance that it would work and no guarantee Lil Bean would stay that way until it’s time for labor. He also stated that it could be risky for Lil Bean depending on why he was breeched. We could just see if Lil Bean would turn on his own or we could go ahead and schedule a cesarean. He told us to take the weekend to discuss our options and do some research but our minds are made up.

I’ll be calling Monday to schedule my C-section. It’s a bit ironic because at the very beginning of my pregnancy, I wanted a home birth (which Robb nor my mom felt comfortable with as this was my first pregnancy).

It’s not what either of us wanted and it is a bit upsetting. We are both disappointed that we won’t have the “full” birth experience – the anticipation of if “it’s time”, the rushed journey to the hospital, Robb hearing me moo like a cow, etc. My pregnancy has been so easy this entire time and I’ve been so confident that I would give birth naturally that a C-section never crossed my mind. Ever.

But that’s okay. I know that if it was meant for Lil Bean to turn then he would have. It feels like he has tried but he just can’t make it happen. It could be many things – umbilical cord wrapped around something, he could be stuck because of my size versus his size, or it could be something with me (I did see where the technician notated that my placenta was in a different position than what is common). My health and Lil Bean’s health is what matters most. If I lived in a larger city with more options, I would maybe attempt to give birth vaginally but where I am, I need to make the best choice for us. Besides, I don’t want to end up in a situation where I have to have an emergency C-section after being in labor for hours upon hours.

Our doctor did a good job of explaining things, especially the timeline. Basically once everything gets started, it’ll only be about 45 minutes until I get to touch Lil Bean.

On a lighter note – here’s some other pictures from last week!

Belle has become addicted to cuddling with me during my pregnancy – not that I mind, I love her warmth!

The obligatory Thanksgiving plate photo – yum.

Cranberries that I made – I LOVE cranberries and made sure to buy an extra bag to throw in the freezer.