Monday, February 22, 2016

Mourning the Bump

I didn't love being pregnant in the beginning.

Of course, I was excited for this gift that we were given, but I didn't love how it made me feel emotionally and physically at first. I waited and waited for that cute little belly that just screamed, "HEY WORLD, I'M PREGNANT!" But the cute basketball belly just didn't pop like I expected. For the entire first half of my pregnancy (and honestly, probably a few weeks after that) I could hide being pregnant easily. In fact, I remember going back to work after summer break - 20 weeks pregnant - and some coworkers had no clue I was even pregnant. One even said they just thought I had gained some weight...thanks so much.

The truth of the matter was that I was just carrying my baby differently.

Much more in my hips than belly out. Instead of feeling cute and pregnant, I felt like I had taken one too many trips through the buffet line and had a few too many beers along the way. But in time, my cute, so very pregnant belly arrived, just a little more delayed than expected. And once my baby bump  made it's debut, I LOVED being pregnant.

I loved how outfits just looked cuter with my gold sparkly belt wrapped around the top of my belly. I loved the kicks and jabs. I loved that I didn't have to suck in my stomach after eating too much. I loved my maternity leggings and how cozy they were. I loved the baby questions from people. I loved writing my bumpdates every week to see the progress. I loved checking my apps to see how our little girl was growing. I actually loved going to the doctor. 

I really began to love and feel so attached to this belly.

When we had a scare back in November with my blood pressure, I had a moment of panic thinking that I wasn't quite ready for the little one to evacuate. Luckily, it was just that, a scare, and I was sent home to enjoy a couple more weeks of pregnancy. When we eventually scheduled induction day, I felt at peace with leaving my belly behind and welcoming our girl. I thought having a few more days rubbing my belly and feeling those kicks would be perfect. But when we went in for a check-up a few days before our scheduled induction, we were surprised to find that we needed to start induction sooner than expected - that night actually. Not the plan doc, and this girl likes a good plan.

At the time, I had so many thoughts and emotions going through my head, that I didn't realize I wasn't going to be able to soak in any more days of pregnancy. I was so excited to meet this little girl - and a little in shock probably that it was happening so soon - but I forgot to really soak in the last few moments of pregnancy like I wanted.

It was love at first sight meeting Harper. I love her more than I ever thought I possibly could - lets make that very clear. But my labor and delivery (and our six day hospital stay) went NOTHING like I hoped, and honestly, was somewhat traumatic. Part of me wanted to go back in time when I was happy, pregnant, and not miserably sore. When we were able to go home, the postpartum hormones really kicked in. I loved this tiny human so much, but it was so hard.

She cried a lot. I could hardly move around to do simple tasks. I was still having complications post delivery - like remembering to empty this lovely catheter bag strapped to my leg (just putting things into perspective, you know). I MISSED my belly. So bad. I began feeling like I lost somebody close to me despite gaining the most beautiful gift. I thought about all the things I would be missing now. I still looked five months pregnant which didn't help. I thought about how jealous I was of everybody who was still pregnant. I thought about how I already wanted another baby just so I could have my belly back. Cody should win an award of some kind for putting up with my emotional, hormonal butt like a champ.

I felt like my belly was a part of me that was suddenly gone, and I never had a chance to say goodbye, as ridiculous as it sounds. Newborn mama life is hard as hell. My labor and delivery experience wasn't sweet and beautiful. I missed the ease. I missed the normality of the being a mama-to-be rather than a mama to a newborn. Postpartum hormones are no joke. You're on a rollercoaster of emotions, and everything around you has been flipped upside down. My belly became a representation of the old me, and I missed it.

Like everything in life though, things come and go.

Every time I looked at Harper I was reminded about what I gained and not what I was leaving behind. Our days have gotten easier. I'm not nearly as sleep deprived. I feel mommyhood has come pretty natural to me most days. We've created a new norm around here, and I've been able to soak in life with my new baby just like I always hoped I would. It just took a little time, and some hormones to even out. Although, I can't wait to be pregnant again one day - I can wait. I love watching her grow, learn new things, and smile. But that's exactly what I want to do - enjoy our new normality as a family of three for a good while. I'll probably have another bump again one day, but these precious days with Harper are once in a lifetime and I would hate to miss out.

R.I.P. Baby Bump

I gained so much more than what I lost.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Boxed Cake Mix Can Taste Homemade | Chocolate Chip Vanilla

Ok - I hardly have time to shower some days, much less bake a cake from scratch.

So with company coming over last weekend, I wanted to have a treat to share, but not spend hours in the kitchen - because quite frankly, I probably need to spend hours cleaning my house, not licking the cake mix spoon ten million times. The struggle though.

I thought a cake would be an easy dessert and serve quite a bit of people, so that was my game plan. I'm not a huge fan of cake box mix since normally they can be pretty dry and crumbly. So the need to spruce it up a little was a must. I was a little hesitant at first, but let me tell y'all - this little slice of heaven was delicious. And was a hit among guests. 

Here's how to make a boxed cake mix with a little extra jazz:

I decided to go with a Betty Crocker "Super Moist" white cake mix. I followed the directions for preparation, but substituted ingredients to make the cake seem more authentic, rather than box-like. I also added some ingredients to add extra flavor and give it a more homemade feel.


Water for Milk: The box called for water, I replaced it with an equal amount of milk.

Butter for Vegetable Oil: Pretty much everything is better with butter, so I switched out the oil for the same amount of softened butter for more richness.


Eggs: The recipe calls for eggs, but add extra. I used 4.

Sugar: I added about 1/2 of sugar to the dry cake mix.

Flour: Added another 1/2 of flour to the cake mix.

Pudding Packet: I feel like this is really the secret. It added so much flavor and made it even more moist and yummy. Just use the Jello dry pudding mix in the little boxes. You could choose any flavor to make it extra special.

Vanilla: Mixed in 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract for an added dose of vanilla flavor.

Salt: 1/2 teaspon of salt to bring out the flavors and balance the sweetness.

A Little Somethin' Extra

Toppings + Mix-Ins: To really make it seem like the cake was homemade, I added some fun extras to make it a little more authentic. This is really where you can truly make it your own and create whatever masterpiece you'd like. Sprinkles, nuts, peanut butter chips, dark chocolate - oh, the delicious possibilities!

Frosting: To really make the cake seem like you slaved away in your kitchen for hours, make your own frosting. It's SO simple and SO easy. For a buttercream, all you need is butter, powdered sugar, vanilla, and milk. So simple!

I'm telling y'all. These ingredients made all the difference in the world. And nobody had a clue that this cake originated from a box in the grocery store. It's worth the extra effort, but saves us mama's so much time! You won't be finding me making any homemade cakes anytime soon...

Ingredients for Chocolate Chip Vanilla Cake

Cake Mix:

1 box of Betty Crocker "Super Moist" white cake mix

1 stick of unsalted butter

4 eggs

1/2 cup of granulated sugar

1/2 cup of flour

1 box of dry pudding mix of your choice

1 teaspoon of vanilla

1/4 teaspoon of salt

1 cup of milk

1 cup of mini chocolate chips

Buttercream Frosting:

1 stick of unsalted butter at room temperature

5 cups of powdered sugar

2 teaspoons of vanilla

1/4 cup of milk

Optional for Topping:

3/4 cup of mini chocolate chips

1/2 cup of crushed walnuts

*I'm probably a little heavy handed when it comes to icing a cake. I actually had to make two batches of frosting to ice the entire cake. #sorrynotsorry

Directions for Cake:

1. Using directions on the cake mix box, heat oven accordingly.

2. Grease bottoms of pans with cooking spray or butter.

3. In a large bowl, empty dry cake mix.

2. To the mix, add granulated sugar, flour, dry pudding mix, and salt. Whisk together.

3. Once whisked, beat in eggs, vanilla, butter, and milk. Fold in chocolate chips.

4. Pour batter into two 9-inch round cake pans.

5. Bake using the directions on the cake mix box. Add time as needed.

6. Once baked, cool cake layers completely before icing.

Directions for Buttercream Frosting:

1. Beat room temperature butter until fluffy.

2. Gradually, add powered sugar.

3. Mix in vanilla and milk.


Sprinkle mini chocolate chips and walnuts to top.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Harper | Two Months

Harper... You're such a sweet little girl. We're really starting to get to know you and your little personality better. You're a little sassy, silly, and sweet. You've turned us into a big pile of mush a few times between your giant smiles and your poked out bottom lip when you're upset! We're continuing to grow with you as your Mommy and Daddy, and you're growing with us. We've watch you learn so much over the last month, and you make us so proud. We can't wait to see what you have in store for us next month. We know for sure though, that our love for you will only continue to grow.

Here are a few little things about you from your second month:

Nicknames: Harpie, Hot Rod (thanks to Daddy)

Weight: Shocked us all and was just over 10 pounds at your one month appointment. And according to our scale at home, you're just over 11 pounds now! Growing little girl!

Height: At the one month appointment you were 22 inches long - 2 inches up from birth. And now you're a little over that. 

Looks: More people have said you look like your daddy than I can even count! Your eyes seem like they're a lighter shade of blue now. Hair seems red in some light, but more of an auburn color most days. You smile all the time now, and you have cute little dimples on each side.

Personality: Such a sweet little girl! Mornings are your most sweet, cuddly, and SMILEY! This past month you really have broken out those smiles. You're definitely a sassy little girl, but we love that about you! When you're upset, you've become a master at poking the bottom lip's pretty adorable/heartbreaking. 

Eating: Obviously eating well! You get 4-5 ounces of breast milk every 2-3 hours. We've really latched on to pumping exclusively, and it works best for all of us. You've started skipping your middle of the night meal.

Sleeping: SO MUCH PROGRESS! The beginning of the month is when you really got the hang of bedtime (your routine helps so much I think). For the first few weeks, you were waking up between 2-3am to eat. After a busy weekend a few weeks ago, you slept through the night until 6am, and haven't turned back since. As of now, you're going to bed around 9:00pm, and waking up between 5-6am. You go back to sleep about 6:30, and sleep until around 9am for your next feeding. Naps during the day are a different story... 

Wearing: Wearing 0-3 months clothes exclusively now. Some of the pants are pretty loose, but the length is perfect. Onesies are usually the perfect fit.

Favorite Things: SMILING! (silly noises and touching your nose and lips always help), your Daddy (!!!), being held, your play mats, BATH TIME (Hallelujah!), laying on your changing pad (we think you like being able to look around at your room), your paci.

Least Favorite Things: Getting hot (!!!), not being fed on time, car seat is a hit or miss, when the car stops.

Within the last month:

  • You learned how to smile! Talk about melting some hearts...

  • You've discovered how to suck on your thumb (which normally takes awhile to find, but after awhile, it always gets there)

  • We've been visiting your great grandma, Nannie, every week to keep her company - you always give her the BIGGEST smiles!

  • You took family pictures with MiMi, Aunt Whitney, Nannie and Mommy

  • You've turned into a bath time pro now that you take baths in your flower and tub

  • You saw your first "snow!"

  • You graduated from newborn diapers to size one

  • We've been going on lots of walks, and you seem to really love them

  • You passed your hearing test at the hospital with flying colors!

  • You visited UGA for the first time and took a tour of campus (we're still working on how to say "Go Dawgs!")

  • You've become quite the fashionista thanks to Aunt Whitney!

  • You're the master at poking out your bottom lip when upset...

  • Previous Months

    Thursday, February 11, 2016

    Harper's Nursery

    I totally stressed out about this girl's nursery for the first half of my pregnancy.
    You know what - that's a lie. Because I stressed about this girl's nursery my entire pregnancy. This little space wasn't going to be good enough for me, until it was completed. I like to blame my maternal instincts and my NEED to nest. Definitely not due to the fact that I'm indecisive, obsessive, and one-track minded when it comes to things I want done, right? Right. Anyway, the poor child wouldn't even be sleeping in there when she got home from the hospital, but I could. not. stand. the. thought. of it not being done before her debut.
    I can probably give the world's worst decision maker a run for their money I hate to admit. I've always been terrible at making decisions, but being pregnant on top of that, probably escalated the whole ordeal tenfold.
    The crib for example:
    What if the crib falls apart?
    What if the crib is too shiny?
    What if the crib looks ugly?
    What if the slats are too far apart and her head gets stuck in there?
    I don't want to spend my car payment on a crib, but I really like this one over here.
    Wait, no - I like this one better. No, not that one.

    I mean...this went on for days weeks.
    By some miracle, I made some decisions - the crib, chair, mattress - and I had the ball rolling at least.
    I knew I wanted to paint her room a light shade of purple, so we did.
    Not a mistake that I hated the color.
    Mistake that we painted the room before picking a crib sheet.
    Because that was a whole other ordeal. 
    Suggestion: Pick a crib sheet and then pick a paint color. You can always pick a paint swatch to match your crib sheet, it's harder to do it the other way around. The way that I did it. The way I did it and couldn't decide on a crib sheet to save my life. 
    After stumbling around on the internet for some weeks, I finally decided on one. One that took literally three months to arrive on my doorstep. You don't do that to pregnant ladies. You just don't.
    Oh, and the changing pad cover? HA.
    But I did it.
    I finally pulled my big pregnant lady panties up, and did it.
    And once I did it, it was like my whole vision that swirled around in my head for months, was finally completed. And it felt good
    So not to drag this out any longer, without further ado...
    I give you Harper's nursery:

    And who would have thought...
    Harper doesn't care about her nursery at all.
    Crib: Target
    Mattress: Target
    Dresser: Ikea
    Glider: Target
    Pouf: Walmart
    White Flower Lamp: Hobby Lobby
    Small Purple Lamp: Hobby Lobby (in store)
    Wall Frames (gold + white): Hobby Lobby
    Gold 'H': Hobby Lobby (in store)
    Gold 'hello': Hobby Lobby (in store)
    Prints: Hobby Lobby (in store)
    Purple and Pink Hearts Print: Etsy
    Sweet and Sassy Print: Etsy
    Dresser Knobs: Hobby Lobby (similar here and here)
    Changing Pad Cover: Buy Buy Baby
    Pig Rocker: Land of Nod
    Side Table: At Home
    White + Gold Picute Frame: TJ Maxx
    Fur Pillow: At Home
    Purple Heart Pillow: Ikea
    Magenta Flower Pillow: Target (no longer available - similar here)
    Wicker Baskets: Target
    Book Ledges: DIY - thanks baby Daddy!
     Felt Ball Garland: Etsy
    Curtains: Walmart
    Ballerina Animals: Buy Buy Baby (here)
    Ceiling Light: Ikea
    Crib Sheet: Madly Wish
    Monogram: Etsy
    Scalloped Crib Skirt: Buy Buy Baby
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