Sunday, July 27, 2008

Texas Sheet Cake: Southern Hospitality in a 9x13-Inch Pan

Most of you know that I am the daughter of Southern parents. While I was raised in the Pacific Northwest I was inculcated with the southern culture of my heritage. I have the sweetest Mom in the whole world, born and raised in New Orleans, Louisiana. She is the epitome of southern hospitality: warm, friendly, always welcoming of anyone she meets, generous, and never fails to appropriately address those with whom she interacts as ma'am or sir. Additionally, Southern cuisine and treats figure highly in Southern hospitality. When I was a kid, anytime someone would be coming by or family and friends would gather, out came the killer southern delicacies whipped up by my Momma. One of our family favorites is the Texas Sheet Cake and can I just get an AMEN for this one?!?! It's been described as delicious, decadent, sinful, and down right goo-ood!!!

In the last several weeks just before Sydnei's birth and after, my Mom has been here to help us. (Thanks, Mom!) Well, her presence has brought back the Southern cuisine, more specifically, the Texas Sheet Cake. (darn--wink wink) We've made them together over the last couple of months and shared them with friends and family. It's been fun to do this with my mom and reminisce of her sweet treats and good times growing up.

There are many versions of the Texas Sheet Cake recipe; I'm going to share our long-time family version with you!

TEXAS Sheet Cake
by Carolyn Thompson

2 cups Sugar
2 cups Flour
1 cup Butter
4 tbsp Cocoa
1 cup Water
1/2 cup Buttermilk
2 Eggs, slightly beaten
1 tsp Baking Soda
1 tsp Cinnamon
1 tsp Vanilla

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Sift together sugar, flour, baking soda and cinnamon. In a saucepan, combine butter, cocoa, and water and bring to a boil until butter is melted. Pour into sugar/flour mixture and stir. Add buttermilk, eggs, and vanilla. Mix well. Pour into 9x13-inch pan and bake for 25-30 minutes. Cake is done when a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Just before the cake is ready to come out of the oven (about 5 minutes) prepare the hot fudge frosting:

1/2 cup Butter
4 tbsp Cocoa
5-6 tbsp Milk
1 tsp Vanilla
1 lb. Powdered Sugar

Combine butter, cocoa, milk, and vanilla. Simmer until cake is ready to come out of oven. Remove from heat. Add powdered sugar. Stir vigorously and well until it reaches a fudge like consistency. Using a fork, punch holes throughout the top of the cake. Pour the hot frosting over the cake immediately.

Note: it will seem when pouring in the powdered sugar all at once that it's too much, just keep stirring and the frosting will develop.

It is delicious served warm with ice cream or cold with a glass of milk! Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Happy 1-Month Birthday, Sydnei

We can hardly believe a month has already passed since you came into our lives. Your presence brightens any room and anyone who meets you falls in love instantly. We love your striking blue eyes and dimples. We love to see you smile which for now is only when you're dreaming sweet dreams.

You love tummy time and you can already turn yourself over from your belly to your back. You even prefer sleeping on your belly over any other position, although for now, we only let you do that when we are watching you. Mami especially loves to stick her tongue out at you and watch you reciprocate. Papi loves when you make an 'O'-shape with your mouth and look all around you, it's precious. Your big sissy, Sofia, loves to pick you up the minute you wake up and carry you through the house. So far she hasn't broken you so not too worry you're in good hands (even though MaMa has a heart attack each time she sees Sofia carrying you)! Sofia loves to help feed you and shower you with hugs and kisses, she is so proud of her little sister. We're so grateful you have joined our family and are excited to watch you continue to grow.

Love you so much, Sydnei~
Mami y Papi

Friday, July 18, 2008

The One Semester of Spanish Love Song

This is freakin' HILARIOUS!!!!!!

Have a great weekend everyone!

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Sydnei's First Week Home

Here are a few sweet pics of Sydnei taken her first week at home. Isn't she absolutely precious?!?!?! We are so in love!

Sound to sleep in her papasan chair, this picture is my absolute favorite

Sydnei enjoys a ride in the swing

Sofia loves to stay close by Sydnei at all times to make sure she is "ok"

Mami Update

Sydnei and I just before going home from the hospital, Wednesday, June 25th, 2008

I can hardly believe that Sydnei will be 2 weeks old tomorrow. In one sense it seems like these last two weeks have flown by and in another sense dragged on and on and on. I attribute the latter to the major sleep deprivation, recovery, and my first case of mastitis all in the first week! Ryan has been my constant support as we've weathered and endured the first two weeks together. He gets up with me, helps to change Sydnei's diaper, rock her, console her, and has helped to make me comfortable as I recover. Thank you sweetheart, I couldn't have done this without you. Love you.

Despite the mastitis infection, Sydnei is still getting the nourishment she needs and has already surpassed her birth weight. (they don't expect babies to be back to birth weight until their 2 week birthday) She reached 6lbs, 90z, by last Tuesday--6 days ahead of schedule! Tomorrow is Sydnei's 2-week check-up appointment and I'm so excited to see how much she has grown. I know she's got to be over 7lbs!!!

I'm finally starting to "normalize" in appearance and pain. (I even put on regular jeans for the first time on Friday!!!) The recovery process your body has to go through after delivering a baby is no piece of cake--those of you who have done it can easily agree. I became very swollen after delivering Sydnei and have finally shed most of the water weight--16lbs to be exact. As of yesterday, my feet no longer look like elephant feet, my face isn't really puffy anymore, and I'm feeling more "in my element."

One of my favorite things about Sydnei so far is when I hold her about 6-8 inches from my face, smile at her, and then stick my tongue out. Within less than a minute she will stick her tongue out at me!!! It is so dang cute and precious and we just sit there sticking our tongues out at each other. I love making this simple little connection with her. It takes time for newborns to make eye contact, smile spontaneously, and interact with you...these little moments are truly cherished.

Papi Holding his Precious Sydnei

Mama Thompson and Cousin Careese Meet Sydnei for the First Time

Even though the doctors said it would take longer than expected, you were determined to arrive into this world on your terms: quickly and efficiently. Mom and I were glad that we spent the first days of your life with you; still, others were waiting patiently to meet you. Sofía, your big sister, of course met you first; she's been waiting ever since she found out that you were going to join our family.

Mama Thompson and cousin Careese visited us at the hospital on Tuesday, June 24, to welcome you into this world. We snapped some great pictures, and everyone was trying to determine the color of your eyes, who you looked like the most (I vote you look more like your mom), and your sleeping and eating habits. Mami couldn't stop talking about the chicken tenders, Mama was talking about everything under the sun, Careese didn't have much to say (she was speechless in your presence), and Papi and Sofía were trying to reason as to how she obtained the pony you gave her. What a great day it was!

Mama Thompson, Careese, Sofía, and Sydnei

Mama Holding Sydnei

Our First Family Picture with Sydnei

Sydnei's Grand Entrance

It was a series of events that brought Sydnei into this world faster than anyone anticipated. Monday morning, June 23rd, I went to a Non-Stress Test appointment so that they could monitor the baby. I was there a little over an hour and every 5 minutes the nurse would come in and shake her head ever so slightly as she reviewed the monitor printout. I asked her at one point if the baby's heartbeat was going down each time I contracted and she said, "yes, and it's concerning." After a little more monitoring they decided to do a quick ultrasound to check the level of amniotic fluid, which was found to be lower than normal. A call to my doctor to report the results (since he was waiting for me to show up at my 40-week appointment in clinic) resulted in the decision to induce me. Dr. Wagar said, "it's time for that baby to come out." I, of course, happily agreed...not only because I was dying to deliver but because I didn't want Sydnei to be under distress longer than was necessary.

I picked up Ryan from his office elsewhere on campus and then headed to Labor and Delivery. It was about 12:30pm and going to be awhile before anything got going. Ry headed home to get my bag (everything else--the car seat and diaper bag were already in the car). In the meantime he left me his mac book pro, Layla, so that I could entertain myself.

Me and my favorite hippo, Hip-to-Be, my brother gave him to me when I was little and he has been my favorite ever since

Ryan hanging out in the delivery room

The Pitocin drip didn't get started until LATE afternoon and even then it was a SLOW drip. My body was already going into labor naturally without the extra help so they didn't deem it necessary to load me up with the pitocin. By the evening, I was content with an epidural and ready for showtime. The only problem was my body wasn't progressing. I looked at the resident doctor, Dr. Burlone at around 10:00pm and said, "if you just break my water, things will start happening...promise!"
.Drs. Burlone and Jensen, the Rock Star Delivery Docs

About 30 minutes or so later she came in and said, "okay, let's do it...we're breaking the water" and so they did. Dr. Jensen, the attending physician (and might I add a dream of a doctor), came in to check on things and estimated delivery sometime between 2-5am the 24th--my actual due date. While explaining the potential progress of things, I looked at him and said, "I NEED more epidural medication or I'm just going to PUSH this baby out NOW!!!!" He checked me again, and I had gone from a 4 to complete in less than 45 minutes. It actually startled me because I could feel her making her way through the birth canal. Two big pushes later and Sydnei came flying into the world...screaming with open arms--all 6lbs, 90zs of her!!! Needless to say, we were all relieved that she was finally here and have been in love ever since.

Sydnei Nicole Staley
Born, Monday, June 23, 2008 at 11:35pm
Weighed 6lbs, 90z, Measured 19 1/4 inches long
(note that at her weight check 4 days later they measured her and she was 21 inches long, we figure she wasn't totally stretched out when measured right after birth)