eat cake

i've been wanting to post my favorite cake recipes for a long time now. for the past 2 years i have only been making our cakes from scratch. yes, scratch! and i know you just cringed a little and thought  crazy woman!.  i had several reasons to do this, 1. scratch cakes give me satisfaction. it's like, dude, look what i just did! and 2. they taste so much better and 3. have you read what's in box mixes? i'm just sayin.

i've made several different kinds, but our family loves these two and i've never looked back. a white cake, and a chocolate cake. so when it's your birthday, you get to pick. nothing fancy, just white or chocolate. chocolate or white.  i mean, i just had 4 kids in 6 years. why would i need more than two options? and ohhhhhh they are delicious. so without further ado, the recipes. (and the white cake is the easiest cake i've ever made)

The BEST White Cake
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 c sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/3 cup buttermilk (please, please, spend the money and buy buttermilk, it's so worth it! if not, add 1tablespoon vinegar to 1 1/3 c milk and let sit for a few minutes)
1/2 c butter or shortening ( i use butter)
1 tsp vanilla
4 egg whites

1. In a bowl combine flour, sugar, baking powder, soda and 1/8 tsp salt.

2. Add buttermilk, butter and vanilla. Beat on low speed for 30 seconds, scraping bowl. Beat on medium to high speed for 2 minutes, scraping bowl occasionally. Add egg whites and beat for 2 min more, scraping Bowl.

3. pour into 2 greased 9" pans. Bake in a 350* oven for 30-35 min (check at 28) or until toothpick from the center comes out clean. Cool on wire racks for 10 minutes. Loosen sides and remove from pans. Cool thoroughly on wire racks. Serves 12.

*my frosting i use for this is the wilton's butter cream recipe on their website. 

Perfectly Chocolate Cake (that i stole from the hershey's box) : )
2 c sugar
1 3/4c all-purpose flour
3/4 c cocoa
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 eggs
1 c milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil ( i use olive oil)
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 c boiling water (i usually boil this in a pyrex measuring cup in the microwave while i'm beating for 2 minutes as per directions)

1. heat oven to 350*. Grease and flour two 9inch round pans.
2. combine dry ingredients in a large bowl. add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed 2 min. Stir in boiling water (batter will be thin). Pour into pans.
3. Bake 30-35 min (i check at 28...i like to undercook my cakes a little) or until toothpick comes out clean from the center. Cool 10 minutes. Remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely (at least an hour). Frost.
*cupcakes bake for 22-25 minutes (check at 18)

Perfectly Chocolate Frosting (i double this for a two layer cake)
1 stick butter
2/3 c cocoa
3 c powdered sugar
1/3 c milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1. Melt butter on medium. Stir in cocoa ( i use a whisk). Alternately add powdered sugar and milk. beating on medium speed to spreading consistency. Add more milk if needed. Stir in vanilla.

to make a good cake i must recommend a few tricks i've learned:
1. let your eggs AND butter reach room temperature before mixing. this makes the cake more fluffy and light. if you are trying to defrost butter and you melt it because you forgot to put the butter out, don't use it. start again with another stick. then again, don't make a cake cause i bet your eggs are cold too. please don't microwave those to warm them up.
2. follow the directions. i know right? seriously, if it says mix slowly. mix.it.slowly. if it says mix for 2 minutes on medium speed. don't do it for a minute on high speed thinking you are saving time. do what the words on the paper say! (i've learned this the hard way) over mixing a cake makes it yucky. trust me.
3. use the right measuring tools. all liquid measurements should be made in a glass pyrex measuring cup. all dry ingredients in regular measuring cups. and make sure you spoon the flour into the cups, not pack it in.
3. make sure you grease the pan really really well! use a napkin in butter or crisco and wipe all the sides and bottom. then use a spoonful of flour and sift it all over till it's covered. you'll see the spots that aren't greased, grease them, and then cover with flour. turn the pan over and dump out remaining flour. bake as directed. let it cool for 10 min on a wire rack while still in the pan, release it, and let cool for at least an hour before cutting and layering.
the best white cake


6 weeks

6 weeks is always bitter sweet for me. It's fun because they are finally waking up and becoming a person. Smiling, cooing, watching!  But hard because they start to become a person, which means, they have an opinion about stuff! The nerve. He's going through a crazy growth spurt and wanting chestage all hours of the day and night .

I find it's getting harder to burp little Rodney, and I have to perform acrobatics to get them out of him at night. And oh! How important burping your baby is, burping and swaddling are the mainstays of my sanity.  If I were to give advice to a new mom it would be always get that burp out.  There is nothing worse than spending all that time nursing and swaddling and rocking, just to lay down for 10 minutes and hear that uncomfortable grunting and wriggling. That is so frustrating...it happened again last night. In my defense, at 2am it's hard to remember if you got a burp out or not and if the diaper was poopy or not. I just go through the motions. Oh well, he's happy this morning : )

*ty dropped the camera on saturday, and now all the photos are blurry. fun!


it's all worth it though

in light of my negative post below...i have to add that all of the not so lovely things about having a baby, are far, far, far outweighed by the extroadinary, amazing, make your life totally awesome things. and there are so many of them. like the way the baby breathes on my chest sleeping early in the morning. or the way the girls coo and talk to him. or the way phoebe walks by and pushes his swing so hard it looks like he's going to fly out (oh woops- good things, good things).

i mean, we just brought another perfect little person into this family. and if he's anything like his sisters, there are many more good times to be had.


i thought this is what better looked like

this week found my husband at scout camp...again. luckily my sister sarah was in town and stayed for 2 days and 2 nights with our little family. we spent the majority of the time laughing and talking and taking care of kids. she was constantly in awe of rodney's full grown man farts and i kept asking her kid advice (she's taught 1st grade for 7 years now).

after about 12 hours though of full on time with me, she asked, "so...um...how are you doing?"  i responded with the cheery, "good! so much better!". to this she squinched up her face and said, "really?"  and that's when it hit me like a ton of bricks, yes i am doing so very much better than 4 weeks ago. but to my sister, who knows my ups and downs and in and outs, i'm not doing so hot.

and my pride gets the best of me when i write this. i should be fine! i should be happy! i should baking and cooking and sewing skirts for the girls and writing thoughtful thank you notes with my spare time!  i feel so ungrateful writing down that it's "hard" to have 4 kids. i can't even count on my hands all the loved ones we know who would kill to be expecting or have even one child. and here i am...complaining.  but you know what? it is hard right now. and that's that. there's no amount of changing anything that i can deny that this post partum period is hard for me this time around. after phoebe was a walk in the park! i felt great! 3 kids was easy!

today my sister danna called, "so, how are you doing?!"  and i answered, "i'm great! well...(long pause) as long as nothing goes wrong, i'm great".  so basically, i'm not great. because who has perfect kids and a clean house and it all together?

when i read other blogs, i feel like she has it together, and her, and her, and her.

but not me. nope. no togetherness going on over here. i'm one not-hot mess right now. because it's hard to get used to a new life. yes, a new life. my old life? goodbye! see ya later! i have to rewrite how i do everything now. when i wake up in the morning, remembering to brush my teeth to what and when i can eat breakfast. when to exercise. when to talk to friends. when to watch a movie with husband. what clothes i can wear. what clothes look good on my new body (read: absolutely ginormous chest and bread dough tummy). how to take care of each of my kids. it's all different.

and the crappy part is i'm so tired i can't even begin to figure it all out. i mean, i even sent in rodney's birth announcement to our local paper and wrote the date, weight and length wrong. i wrote the wrong birth date for crying out loud! holy sleep deprivation...how it kills me.

and this is where my mom's wisdom comes in: 12 WEEKS.  after every baby she says, "give yourself 12 weeks...at least".  12 weeks to feel almost, maybe close to normal. 12 weeks to feel a little sane. 12 weeks to have at least one clean countertop in the house. 12 weeks before not hiding from the kids in the bathroom with a book  (a classic move i learned from mi madre). and i have to listen to this advice, and not what the media tells me. i'm going to ignore that 12 weeks is 3 months! and it's ok to not have it together for 3 months. no, i don't have to be runway model ready in 8 weeks (pshaw!) or hosting dinner parties at our house or traveling on a summer vacation. (summer vacation! what a novelty!).

nope, none of that.  i am stuck here at 6 weeks, hoping, praying, praying! that in 6 weeks the bags under my eyes will be packed for a wee bit smaller vacation and that i'll be able to put together an outfit that doesn't look like i got dressed in the dark, in a dress barn, in 1994. don't even get me started on my hair. it's got to get better right?

one can only hope.


baby wodney

he loves to look out the window in the morning

how can you not love those chubby chubby cheekies?


on a sunday evening drive

we have had a busy busy week/weekend of visiting with friends and family, overnighters with the Warburtons, scout camp for ty and a birthday dinner for joshlyn! sunday afternoon ty and i were pooped out- but still wanted to spend some quality time with the girls  kids (i'm not used to Roddie being a girl!). so we strapped them in their carseats & went for a nice family drive by our house. yes, just 20 minutes from our house we were graced with all of these awesome views.
it was nice to remember how beautiful it is around here,
i just had to step out of the house!

 and yes, this last photo are two big horn rams fighting over a nice lady ewe. we watched them do this for a good 15-20 minutes. which was amazing, as all the times i have hiked with ty looking at these sheep i've never witnessed them fight. and here they just kept going and going.  at one point there were 3 rams following one ewe. i asked ty, "there are a ton of other girls around, why are they fighting over just that one?"  and ty answered, "maybe she's the best looking one".   hahaha. i'm thinking it's just like college and she's the brand new 18 year old sophomore that just moved into the building : )

* i have to add that not one of these were edited


baby boy

guess who gave me the sweetest little smile first thing this morning?
it sure makes waking up with spit up and poop all over me worth it.

*check out his gorilla sized hands. crazy huh?


a little dose of catch up

i was going to write about all the things we've been up to. but i'm going to spend time with the kids instead. 
 *the girls are asleep now; so i can write about all the great things that have been happening. i have to keep up with the theme of the blog right? cheerful cheerful cheerful! i won't tell you how sometimes after i have babies things are really hard and trying before they get a little easier. so here are some cheerful things:
  • baby showers! i was so graciously given 2 of the most fun showers! that's a first for me. the first was from my two leavitt sister in laws- and it had the best lemonade ever.  the second was given by my ward friends. we stayed up talking till 10:30! it was so wonderful all the outfits and diapers and much needed things we were given. thank you thank you thank you!
  • the girls are doing excellent with their swim lessons. a very big change from last year. we were starting to get worried that we would end up like their dad. ty just has never enjoyed swimming. whereas i was a fish growing up adn still love it. lifeguarding was my first job out of high school.
  • ty is knocking down our to-do list every day. i can't imagine what it's like to have all that responsibility. the hard part about being a mr. fix it is that you are the one who has to fix ALL of it! and our house and property and cars need lots of fixin'.
  • baby wodney! oh, he is a love. he gets chubbier and chubbier by the millisecond and i love it. plus, he hasn't peed on me in a week. score!
  • my family. i know that i can call my sisters and sister in-laws and they will pick up the phone and listen to me cry and whine about all my insignificant problems that seem gigantic. i also am given so much love and caring from ty's family who treat me as their own. and i'm very appreciative of that. they love my kids to death and it makes all the difference in the world to them.
here's a picture of baby rodney and me on his first day at church. 
socks and shoes were optional.

* i found out why this picture came out so blurry. peanut butter on the lense. does it every time.


the birth story-el quatro

now, i could make this short and sweet and say that i delivered my fourth baby without any pain medication and it was an amazingly blissful experience.

or i could tell you the truth. and if you know me by now, you have already got a pillow to sit on and some popcorn to get through this story.

so friday contractions started again. no biggie. same old same old. we had just gone to the hospital 4 days earlier for  a dry run. you know, just to make sure we knew how to get there and all. but friday morning i woke up excited to clean the house. that was the first sign. we had a fun morning at the splash pad and then i spent the entire day happily (there's the clue again) scrubbing the sinks and mopping and cleaning cleaning cleaning. at 2pm the squeezies started getting more longer and stronger than any other ones. by around 5:30pm i was one giant contraction and started making dinner. was i in pain? nope, not really. but that has been the case with early labor for all of my kids. sit back, relax, have a good time! by 9pm we were in the car heading to the hospital. i knew i was in labor and didn't want to wait too long because when you live 80 minutes away from where you give birth... well, it's a tough decision.

by the time we actually did reach the hospital it was 11pm (mst), the contractions were 4 minutes apart and i was at 5cm. ugh! all that work and only a 5. i was bummed when they told me that because i automatically felt that we came in too early. and at a hospital, time literally is money. the fun part of arriving when we did though is we had our nurse from our dry run on monday. she knew all about us and even remembered that my mom was out of town already. it was nice having a familiar face there.

so, blah blah blah an hour later i was a 6 and truly in "labor". but i tend to hang around the magical number 6 for awhile.  after an hour and a half of walking the halls i had a lot of pressure, you know, down there, and we did the obligatory check. there was no change but my bag of waters was bulging (isn't that the coolest thing you've ever read on here?). we were hoping to just break 'em and ride the baby out, but his (it still feels so weird to write that) head was at a funky angle that put my at risk for a prolapsed cord. they convinced me to go on the lowest dose of pitocin to get the head in the right position. i think as soon as i heard pitocin i should have opted for the epidural.

this is where time stop existing for me. i focused on staying relaxed and calm through the contractions. i hated that i was stuck in the bed now, and should have stood up next to it, but honestly i was so tired at this point i just collapsed there. ty held my hand and helped encourage me in between each one. i was handling them quite well at this point.  at 4am they told me that my dr. was coming in shortly and we'd decide what to do after that, i was still a 6 at this point but the head was exactly where it needed to be. success! i think my doc arrived around 4:20 or 4:30ish? it's all a blur. i wasn't really up for chit chat at this point if you know what i mean. he broke my water and pronounced that the baby was close, but i was still a 6. immediately i started shaking and knew transition had started. this is where i remind myself that transition from a 6 to delivery has lasted only 10-15 minutes with my last 2 deliveries. i should also note that  this was always an easy experience with an epidural. this time...well, not so easy.

there are women who feel "empowered" by birth and love letting it takes it's course. yes, the pain is natural and we are supposed to feel it so you're willing to push an entire human being out of your body. but c'mon, it was not empowering one little bit for me. i don't know if it's because of the pitocin so it wasn't "natural" contractions at this point or i'm just not cut out for it, but it wasn't kosher at all in my book.

you guys, i was a big fat wimpy wimp.  oh! it was awful. you know those birth videos where the mom is screaming bloody murder and the dad has a scared "deerintheheadlights" look and it's absolute craziness? welcome to my delivery my friends.  ok, so i didn't scream but still!

without my nice comfy amniotic fluid surrounding baby- the contractions sucked. i was writhing around in the bed like an injured animal. whining, moaning, gripping ty's hand like a ninja. my dr. came in to check me what seemed like ages later and i was an 8. close, but no cigar. at this point my eyes were always shut but my dr. noticing that i was not handling the pain like a champ asked, "do you want an epidural?" and i opened my eyes and said "yes!"  he looked me straight into my eyes and said, "ok annie, we can call him up and wait for him and get one, or...we can just get this over with right now."  now i ask you, what kind of an ob convinces you to NOT get pain relief?

it was a pretty convincing argument to me as i just wanted all of it to stop. immediately. so he let me start pushing that instant (i was still only 8cm).  bless him bless him bless him. so for somewhere between 10-15 minutes i just pushed like a mad woman. there was no stopping me, and i can tell you this, it felt like an eternity. an extremely painful eternity. i just kept pushing and pushing and throwing little tantrums in between the contractions. i remember hearing a few things in between my crazy tyrannousaurus rex moans. i could hear the babies heartbeat on the monitor and 3 voices: ty's, my doctors and my nurse.  they kept telling my i was doing it! i was doing so well! but i didn't believe them one second. because i knew the entire maternity ward thought that someone was sacrificing a live animal in there. it really was the most primal sounds i have ever heard (and i was the one making them!).
the only time i got really upset, but luckily didn't say anything is when ty and the nurse said "look down annie!  you can see the head"   and i was so mad that they wanted me to 1. open my eyes and 2. move my head. both tasks seemed almost impossible.  i tried but couldn't do it.  i did yell once, and it was the most embarrassing/hilarious thing i have ever yelled. which is pretty good considering my verbal history. and then my dr. said something really funny in reply. if you want to know what it is you'll have to ask my in person. ty has not given me permission to put it in writing. i still can't believe i yelled it. hilarious in hindsight. completely embarrassing in the moment.

at 5:01 i pushed out what felt like the largest pair of shoulders in the world. they placed this baby on my chest and ty told me it was a boy. a boy! i didn't believe him, but i looked at his little face and fell in love. looking back at me was this little brown hairy face with a big man schnoz. it was beautiful.

the pain was completely gone, but i was exhausted. exhuasted. exhausted.

the recovery you ask? an absolute dream! like a giant ice cream sundae with hot fudge, whipped cream and nuts all over it. delicious. the recovery alone would sell me to do it natural again. that and the fact that Rodney was so alert from birth. i held him the first hour and 10 minutes of his life and it was perfect. perfect. perfect.

later i apologized 800 times to all the nurses and my doctor for breaking their ear drums. i know i shouldn't have felt embarrassed, but it is what it is. i was completely embarrassed for how i acted. they kept telling me i did great, and i quote "you did awesome! you didn't even swear!" swear? how could i have the time to think up awesome swear words? i definitely didn't do that. but obviously i'm not one of those yogis in the water bath chanting enya with lit candles in the background. i think they should have recorded my delivery for abstinence courses in school. it was that bad.

so there it is. i delivered a baby without pain meds and found out that i am, a complete and total crazy woman.

and ty never wants to experience it ever again.

and i'm just happy that i could go to the bathroom as soon as i wanted! and i did!

abigails birth story can be found here.
and phoebe's is here.


i gave birth to a piranha

in case you were wondering.

we are alive.

we are all healthy.

we are not leaving the house for another 8 weeks.

because baby here thinks eating every hour on the hour is essential. on friday he tipped the scales at 9lbs 12oz. his 0-3 month clothes are getting tight. i'm so happy to have him big and healthy, and sad at the same time.

and i think i've flashed 8 people this week.

and i mispelled piranha. pirranha? oh well.

here are some pictures from father's day at Grandma Leavitt's home.
 8 days old baby wodney
 abby and uncle taylor
 proof that i still exist
the fearsome five- lyla phoebe lucy abigail evelyn
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