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Thoughts as We Wait on Hadley

This is it…we have made it to the end.  I will be officially 40 weeks pregnant as of tomorrow.  I can’t believe it!  I am SO beyond eager to meet sweet Hadley, I just wish she could be born NOW.  I keep reminding myself that she will come when she is ready, but I don’t know that it’s really keeping me from driving myself insane.  What a waiting game this is!

My mind keeps flashing back to the quiet Saturday morning, when I took a pregnancy test while Craig was taking Jada outside because I figured I was just going to be disappointed by the negative result and didn’t see the point in getting Craig’s hopes up for no reason.  I was obviously wrong, and in an instant, everything changed.  It is funny how a little blue line can have so much power over your future.  We have spent nine months since that January morning preparing for our baby’s arrival, although I highly doubt anyone can every truly be prepared for parenthood.

I remember some people telling Craig and I that we shouldn’t get married right when I graduated college…that we should wait a few years.  We were told that we were too young, and that it was a bad idea to try to balance a marriage while Craig was in medical school.  And now, here we are, getting ready to not just “balance a marriage,” but to start a family when Craig still has almost two years left in medical school.  But the truth is, there will never be a perfect time to get married or to start a family.  If we had decided to wait for the perfect time, we would be waiting forever.  Yeah, medical school takes up a ton of time, and it’s not always easy on us.  But you know what?  Residency takes up more time than medical school.  And fellowships take up more time than residency.

So Craig and I made the decision to not wait for a more convenient time, but to jump into this adventure together.  God has gotten us where we are now, and through Him, we will be the best parents we can be.

So, as we enjoy our last few days as just Craig, Ashley, and Jada, here is a look through my pregnancy, complete with a growing belly, a baby shower, and a finally complete nursery.

So excited to find out we are expecting a baby!  Yes, I peed on that stick...get over it.

So excited to find out we are expecting a baby! Yes, I peed on that stick…get over it.

Growing Belly

Growing Belly!

Some wonderful friends back in Georgia hosted a baby shower for me when Craig and I were visiting.  I was 27 weeks pregnant.  I seriously couldn't have imagined a more beautiful, perfect shower.

Some wonderful friends back in Georgia hosted a baby shower for me when Craig and I were visiting. I was 27 weeks pregnant. I seriously couldn’t have imagined a more beautiful, perfect shower.

We also had some maternity photos taken by an awesome photographer down here in Charleston (HannahLane Photography)!  Hannah was such a pleasure to work with, and she did an awesome job.  These are just a few of my favorites.

We also had some maternity photos taken by an awesome photographer down here in Charleston (HannahLane Photography)! Hannah was such a pleasure to work with, and she did an awesome job. These are just a few of my favorites.

Hadley's Nursery

I LOVE Hadley’s Nursery! My parents did such an incredible job. I love the soothing colors mixed with different patterns and textures. This is fit for a princess!

Hadley's Nursery Collage

Love the chandelier above the rocker, the monogram above the bed, and the awesome shelves above the dresser. Have I mentioned how incredibly talented my parents are?! Now if only some of that talent could get passed down to me…

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Exciting News from the McKs…

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Well, Craig and I certainly have a big year ahead.  Craig will be finishing up his second year of medical school this spring, and then he has to take Step 1 of the Boards!  He will spend five or so weeks studying just about twelve or so hours a day in preparation.  It does not sound like fun to me, but I know Craig is going to rock it!

After Craig’s Boards, he will get a few days off for us to do something fun together (he scheduled to take his exam a few days early so that we could have some time) before starting his third year in medical school!  No more summer vacations for Craig!  But third year will be very exciting, because Craig finally gets to spend some real time in the hospital doing rotations.  The first two years of medical school are generally spent in the classroom setting, while the last two years are spent in the hospital.  I know Craig is excited and ready for the change.

But all of that news pales in comparison to the real news we have…so I will let this picture do the talking…

Sitting in a Tree

Hmmm…what comes at the end of the song?  Oh, right!  “Then comes a baby in a baby carriage.”

It’s true, Craig and I are expecting our first baby!  Baby McK is due in September of this year, and we could NOT be more excited!

We took that picture while my parents were in town this past weekend.  My dad made the chalkboard with wood, some chalkboard paint, and a rope.  My mom wrote on the board with chalkboard markers.  It turned out so cute!  Of course, they are ridiculously creative, so the adorableness should be no surprise to me.

Aside from their jobs (my mom is a teacher and my dad owns a business with my uncle), my parents do some interior decorating on the side… “for fun.”  So of course, my parents are CRAZY-EXCITED to do a nursery for their very first grandbaby, and that is why this next picture was also so necessary…

Nursery Under Construction

My mom and her friend designed the sign together, and then my mom had it printed at a store in Georgia before my parents came down to visit.  I thought this one also turned out super cute!  This room is currently a guest room slash our condo “annex,” where we have piles of boxes that we still need to go through, so it really will be a disaster zone to get this room baby-ready.  But we are all up for the challenge!

And of course, what good would my parents’ trip to beautiful Charleston be without a trip to the beach?  So we obviously had to take this picture as well…

Baby Sandals!

We are clearly very excited for the changes ahead of us this year, but that’s not to say we are not still a little bit like, “Whoa…is this for real?” Our first doctor appointment was about a week and a half ago, and they did an ultrasound while we were there.  That’s when the whole situation got “really real” for us.  We saw the tiny little baby’s heart beating at 188 beats per minute, and we were in love.  So crazy that we can see the heart beat so early on, but it gives such value to the fact that this is not a “thing.”  It is a baby…a human life that is growing inside of me, and it is the best and craziest news ever!

So here is our “Holy crap, I guess this is for real” picture, followed by a couple of our “There’s a baby in your belly!” pictures…

Craziness!

There's a Baby in Your Belly!

There's a Baby in There!

There are so many changes and challenges ahead for our little growing McKinney family.  We are thrilled with this blessing, and we pray every day for health for our baby and for guidance as we figure out what exactly it means for us to be parents.  It’s certainly not going to be easy, especially with Craig being gone at the hospital more over the next two years, but we know that we can do it.  We are trying our best to lean on God throughout this whole process, and we have been so blessed with support from family and friends.

Yes, it is definitely going to be a chaotic year, but I have a feeling that is might just be our best year yet! 🙂

Our First Ultrasound of Sweet Baby McK

(UPDATE: Click here to find out what we are having!)

Slow Cooker Meatloaf

Slow Cooker Meatloaf

Charleston was a little confused this past week, as it seemed to believe it was March or April instead of January.  I have spent the past week seeing one winter storm alert after another (for other areas of the country) on weather.com, yet it was sunny and in the mid-to-upper 70s for a week straight in Charleston.  While my parents and twin brother would tell me on the phone that they hadn’t seen the sun in days, as it was raining constantly in metro-Atlanta this week, Craig and I enjoyed a taste of spring weather.  Now, I am definitely the type of person who likes to enjoy all the seasons, but let’s be honest.  Charleston doesn’t have a real winter.  There’s no snow, but instead the occasional cold rain.  So if I can’t enjoy a real winter, anyway, I will gladly take the spring-like weather in January. 🙂

We went to the beach last weekend to enjoy the weather.  It was actually probably one of the "cooler" days of our spring weather, but we had a great time walking Jada on the beach before heading out to grab dinner at a local taqueria we love.

We went to the beach last weekend to enjoy the weather. It was actually probably one of the “cooler” days of our spring weather, but we had a great time walking Jada on the beach before heading out to grab dinner at a local taquería we love (Zia Taqueria).

However, yesterday was our last day of really warm weather, and last night the temperature dropped way down (comparatively, at least), and today, it is cold.  Our high is in the 50s.  Yuck.  So, to make the transition back to Charleston-winter weather a little easier, I made meatloaf with mashed potatoes and broccoli for dinner last night – a serious winter comfort food!

I had only made meatloaf one other time since Craig and I got married, and I unfortunately lost that recipe (it was right before I started blogging, so I didn’t have it here).  I was going to use my mom’s recipe, but then I decided that I wanted to make my meatloaf in the crock pot instead.  I knew I wouldn’t really have a lot of time to make the meatloaf and mashed potatoes after work if we wanted to eat at a decent time, so the crock pot would allow me to just make the meatloaf in the morning, and then make the mashed potatoes after work.  So, it was time to try a new recipe!  It turns out that although Craig did enjoy the meatloaf I had made for him once before, he is now glad that I lost that recipe because he says this was waaaaayyyy better!  So, I figured I better go ahead and blog this meatloaf recipe so that I don’t lose it as well. 😉

Slow Cooker Meatloaf

Recipe from: Group Recipes

Ingredients

Meatloaf

  • 1.5 lbs ground beef
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1 cup bread crumbs
  • 2 tsp chopped onion
  • 1/2 tsp sage

Glaze

  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 2 Tbs brown sugar
  • 1 tsp mustard
    • I used spicy brown mustard because that’s what I had, but spicy brown or regular mustard will work fine.
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce

Directions

  1. Spray slow cooker with cooking spray.
  2. Combine eggs, milk, bread crumbs, onion, and sage.
  3. Crumble in ground beef into the egg mixture and mix well.
  4. Form the beef mixture into a loaf in the center of the crock pot, making sure to leave space between the loaf and the edge of the crock pot.
  5. In a small bowl, mix ketchup, brown sugar, mustard, and Worcestershire sauce.
  6. Spoon the glaze over the loaf.
  7. Cook on low for six hours.

Making Crock Pot Meatloaf

Slow Cooker Meatloaf

Streusel Centered Apple Bread

Streusel Centered Apple Bread

I was awakened by a chill that ran over my body.  Cool, crisp air filled in the space around me.  This is glorious I thought as I pulled the covers just a little tighter around my body, and yet made sure to take in the feel of Autumn’s first breath on my face.  True, it was a chill that had run over my body, but it had somehow warmed me from the inside.  After all, this wasn’t just any chill.  It was a chill from the first day of fall.  I rolled over to snuggle up against Craig, and I relished the fact that the air around me was making my nose a little bit cold.  It was refreshing.  I drifted back to sleep as beautiful leaves, cozy sweaters, and hot chocolate all frolicked together through my mind.  Mmmm…the first day of autumn, and, wow, does it feel like it!

Well, I wish I could tell you that my little anecdote above is true, but it is sadly not.  While autumn officially began at 10:59am on September 22 this year, I live in Charleston, SC, so the first “official” day of autumn for me consisted of a high around 88 and a heat index in the 90s.  While I have grown to love Charleston, I do feel that it has a tendency to rob me of my favorite season, and I am not really a fan of this.

I’m not saying that I did not enjoy my first day of fall.  My cousin and uncle were actually visiting that day, so I spent the day showing Sarah around Charleston, and Craig spent the day checking out the USS Yorktown Aircraft Carrier with my uncle.  We met back up at home to watch the South Carolina Gamecocks game on t.v. and to relax.  So, yes, the first day of fall was definitely an enjoyable day.  It was just a hot, anti-fall-esque enjoyable day.

We thankfully had a “cool front” this past Monday and Tuesday, with the highs only reaching the low-to-mid 80s, and I was inspired to begin my first round of autumn baking.  To kick off this season, I made an apple bread that has a streusel “topping” in the middle.  I found this recipe from a blog called You Made That?, and it’s actually an adapted/slightly altered version of a Pampered Chef recipe.  The smell was tantalizing as my bread baked in the oven, but the satisfying taste of warm streusel centered apple bread proved to be well worth the wait.

Ingredients:

Bread

  • 1 cup melted butter
    • I used Fleischmann’s Unsalted Margarine
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 3 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla
  • 4 cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 4 medium Granny Smith apples, peeled

Streusel

  • 6 Tbsp flour
  • 3 Tbsp butter
    • Again, I used Fleischmann’s Unsalted Margarine
  • 6 Tbsp sugar
  • 2 tsp cinnamon

Directions

  1. Core and chop up the apples, then set them aside.
  2. In a large bowl, cream together the butter, sugar, eggs, lemon juice, and vanilla.  Add the dry ingredient to the wet ingredients and mix them together.
  3. Add the apple pieces to the batter, and stir it together.
    • This is kind of thick batter, so make sure to take you spatula and really bring the batter from the bottom to the top, so you can make sure the apples get mixed in well and somewhat evenly.
  4. Make the streusel by combining all the streusel ingredients and stirring well.
    • The streusel will be a medium or dark brown and starting to clump together.  Make sure you don’t stop stirring it too early.
  5. Spray two bread pans (I used a 4 1/2 x 8 1/2in pan and a 5 x 9in pan) with nonstick cooking spray, and scoop out some of the bread batter into the pans.  Crumble half of the streusel topping over each bread pan with your fingers.  Scoop the rest of the batter into the two pans, trying to keep the portions somewhat even.
  6. Bake at 325 for 70-80 minutes or until a knife inserted into the bread comes out clean.

Happy Autumn, everyone!

Cinnamon Roll Cake

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I’m not really sure why, but rainy days always seem to put this urge inside of me to bake.  I don’t mean like the “through eggs, oil, and brownie mix in a pan and stick it in the oven” type of baking.  I mean the “let’s make something from scratch” type of baking.

Well, I’d say that yesterday definitely counted as a rainy day.  While the intensity of the rain changed throughout the day from a drizzle to a steady rain to a storm back to a drizzle and so on, it was definitely raining in some form for the entire day.

This is a picture of the Market downtown that someone sent to our local news channel. I also watched a video of somebody wakeboarding down the street. Crazy!

So I definitely was in a baking mood yesterday, but there were a couple of problems.  The first was that I still had work yesterday…I’ve found that a downside to working from home is that you can’t claim bad weather and the commute to be reasons for not getting your work done.  😉  The second problem was that I was out of yeast, so even if I had time to bake some homemade bread or rolls, I was still missing an essential component.

My solution was to try out this recipe.  I adapted it from Cookin’ Up North, and I was so excited to try it out!  With the taste and smell of freshly baked cinnamon rolls and the texture and density of a made-from-scratch cake, how could I possibly go wrong?  Well, I couldn’t.  It was absolutely delicious!

Recipe

Cake

  • 3 c. flour
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 1/2 c. milk
    • I used vanilla soy milk.
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 c. butter, melted
    • I used a combination Fleischmann’s Unsalted Margarine and Blue Bonnet Light Margarine.

Topping

  • 1 c. butter, softened (My first thought was Wow, that’s a ton of butter! Then again, this is a cake, so I don’t know what I was expecting…)
    • Again, I used Fleischmann’s Unsalted Margarine and Blue Bonnet Light Margarine.
  • 1 c. brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. flour
  • 1 Tbsp. cinnamon

Glaze

  • 2 c. powdered sugar
  • 5 Tbsp. milk
    • Again, I used vanilla soy milk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp. salt

Directions

Mix all of the cake ingredients together except for the butter.  Then, slowly stir in the melted butter.  Pour the batter into a greased 9x13in pan.  Mix all of the topping ingredients together until they are very well blended.  Drop the topping by small spoonfuls evening over the batter, then swirl it with a knife.  Bake at 350 for 28-34 minutes.  Mix the glaze ingredients together.  After you have completed the baking time, but while the cake is still warm, drizzle the gaze over the cake.

A piece of delicious cinnamon roll cake! Yum!

This cake gave me the satisfaction of baking something from scratch, and yet it was quite easy to make and didn’t take long at all.  It’s definitely something you could throw together at the last minute is you need to bring a dessert for something, because you will likely already have all the ingredients you need.  I also think it’d make a great dessert for a brunch event, like a bridal or baby shower or something.  Delicious!

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