Squad Goals

I was a cheerleader in high school. Shocker, right? I was terrible at it. I was tall and awkward and couldn’t seem to lift my large body off the ground like the other girls could. While jumping wasn’t my forte, my enthusiastic personality and strong (very loud) voice landed me a spot on the squad. Each girl played a role on the squad. I was a base, which meant I had to lift and support the tiny girls into death-defying poses. Due to my stature, I never knew what it felt like to be lifted up or to stand atop a human pyramid.

That is, not until I joined a different squad many years later.cheerleader

When I moved to Madison eight years ago, I was lonely and desperate to make friends. My new work friend, Betsy, told me….”Just wait. When you have kids, friends will pop out of the woodwork!” I couldn’t really grasp what she meant at the time. Why would having kids make meeting new friends easier?

Well, Betsy was right. As I’ve drifted through my thirties, the depth and richness of my relationships has blown me away. But, having children is only part of it. I think it’s more than simply entering into motherhood, but rather, passing into womanhood. Like the growing lines around our eyes, our relationships have stretched and grown through the years, evolving into an actual necessity; a vital part of our souls. We need each other. Having kids or not, life is hard! Jobs are hard. Marriage (and in-laws) are hard. Mortgages are hard. Kids are crazy, stupid hard! Yet, when someone falls, we swoop in and catch her, lifting her right back up to her place in the pyramid, with a toe-touch and sparkle fingers to boot.

My squad consists of many teams. My sister team. My high school team. My Kansas team. My Chicago team. My 3141 team. My Madison team. My Prairie Cafe team. My preschool mom team. But here we are. Lifting each other up and supporting one another through life’s crazy highs and lows. Taylor ain’t got nothing on us.

Sure, maybe we’ve traded our pleated skirts and white sneakers for yoga pants and sensible flats. But, I wouldn’t trade this time in my life, or this squad, for anything. #SquadGoals



O Mother, Where Art Thou?

I have always loved and appreciated my mother.  It’s easy.  She is an amazing woman.  She is smarter than a whip.  Funnier than anyone I know.  And, rivals Martha Stewart in the categories of Style, Creativity, Organization, and Resourcefulness.  And, she can pack a box or gift or car trunk better than anyone I’ve ever met.  It’s a real talent.  Don’t hate.

I have known my mom for over 33 years.  We go way back.  And we have been through a lot together.  However, I have never appreciated my mother more than when I had my first child three months ago.  Don’t get me wrong.  She has always been there for me; through thick and thin, through ups and downs, and even through my 70’s fashion craze during high school.  Even though she tirelessly organized (with the help of my father) countless details of my wedding,  I don’t think I fully realized the extent and capacity of her love and devotion as a mother, until I became pregnant with her first grandchild.  And through that, I was lucky to experience the purest exhibition of motherly love.

My beautiful mother with my equally handsome father

Well before Amelia arrived, my mother stepped up to the plate of motherhood/grand motherhood with such zeal and passion, it shocked even me.  And believe me, this woman does not take life events lightly.  She makes every occasion special; be it a birthday, a holiday, or even Super Bowl Sunday (she served tomato and feta tarts) an event to remember.  But being a grandmother elevated her to a whole new echelon of awesomeness.

Now that I have been through it, I understand a woman’s need to nest prior to having a baby.  I get it!  I loved it!  But I guess the 30-year hiatus from nesting was a bit too long for my mom, because feathering our baby’s nest was her calling.  Upon announcing our pregnancy to her, I swear to God she heard the crack of a starter’s gun in her head and took off running to the nearest baby store.

It wasn’t her material contribution, though, that made me weep in her arms with gratitude recently.  It was her loving tenderness, empathetic support, and sheer excitement for our baby girl that made me realize a mother’s love is boundless.  My mom works hard; at work and at home, and gives equal amounts of love and energy to my father and her four (awesome) kids.  But she still found the time and energy to help me prepare for our baby in every way, by shopping, assembling, reading, and organizing.  She would drive 2.5 hours at the drop of a hat to help me with whatever I needed, even to this day.

After Amelia was born, my mom stayed with us for a few days, cooking us meals, doing load after load of laundry, cleaning the house, and just being there for us.  Dan and I were exhausted and emotionally drained after Amelia’s dramatic birth, and she was there to take care of all three of us, and has continued to be nearly every week since her arrival.  She hasn’t skipped a beat, and because of that, we have been able to slowly regain our footing into our new role as parents; very, very tired parents.

My mom is everything I need her to be and more.  She is my sounding board when I need advice.  She is the comedienne I need to make me laugh.  She is my personal cooking consultant on speed dial.  She is my therapist, my friend, my rock….even with her outlandish laugh and her baffling taste for Cheez Waffies and NCIS.  Seriously, Mom.  What’s with the NCIS?!?

It has been three months since we entered into this thing called parenthood, and I realize more and more each day how lucky I am to have a mom – my mom.  I don’t know what I would do without my mother.  I need her.  I count on her to fill the holes of the shaky path I’m tiptoeing on, because her wisdom and grace exceeds every bit of wisdom or grace I could ever possess at this stage in my life.  She effortlessly guides me into the right direction, helping me to grow more gracefully, more confidently, perhaps so I can become even a fraction of what she is today.

If I could only be so lucky.

Thank you, Mom.  You are one of the great loves of my life and I am deeply grateful for you.

Amelia’s Birth Story

Just over three months ago our baby girl was born.  The time has flown by faster than I ever imagined, probably because I’ve spent most of it in a spit-up covered stupor – a fog of exhaustion, emotion, frustration, and indescribable, heart-bursting joy.  I finally understand what people mean when they say “I hardly remember my life before my kids.”  After giving me the most perfect pregnancy and labor imaginable, our darling girl was born at 7:47 on a rainy Wednesday morning.  Seriously, the entire experience was so pleasant, I feel like I should have written her a Thank You note for her hospitality.

A few weeks before my due date my body was progressing nicely.  By my 39-week appointment, my doctor said she wouldn’t be surprised if I’d deliver that weekend.  I tried to send telepathic messages to my baby – urging her to stay put until at least that night because my husband was away on business.  The next day, while working from home, I thought I was in labor!  I our amazing amazing doula, Kate, and my mom to alert them of my state, and then started keeping track of “contractions” on my iPhone Contraction Tracker app.  I even went so far as paging my husband who was in surgery at the time, which is something I never do.  He has never returned a call so quickly!  Aaaaannnd then… the contractions came to a shrieking halt.  Nada.  No dice.  Nothing.  Dear Uterus ~ You’re a punk!

Five hours before I went into labor

The weekend came and went and by the following Tuesday something had changed.  I felt different. I wasn’t feeling labor-y, but knew that something was brewing.  The cramps and stitches I had been experiencing were picking up speed and intensity that day.   I knew Baby Girl Williams was coming.  I rushed to tie up loose ends with work, tidied the house, and made sure my hospital bags were all in order.  That evening, my husband and I went for a hilly walk in the neighborhood to intentionally stir things up in my nether region, and went out for our last meal as a family of two, where I had the best damn cheeseburger of my life.  (From Hubbard Avenue Diner ~ for you Madison folk)  It was amazeballs!

Later that night as we were going to sleep, I went into labor.  It was 11 pm.  Like a flip of a switch, I felt my body kick into gear and it never slowed down.  I suspected it was labor when I had two really strong cramps come and go within a few minutes.  Lying in bed didn’t feel great so I kissed my husband, told him to sleep and that I’d wake him if/when I needed him.

I immediately started tracking the contractions.  My contractions felt weird and they confused me so much that, naturally, I resorted to Facebook to solve this great uterine mystery.  You see, they felt like really strong menstrual cramps, but lasted between 2 and 6 minutes and came at varying intervals.   This was like nothing for which I had mentally prepared.  I was expecting shorter contractions coming at consistent intervals.  So, over the course of a couple of hours, it took my doula, three gals from Facebook, and me to conclude that I was indeed in labor.  It DOES take a village after all!

Since I planned to have a natural birth and wanted to labor at home as long as possible, I passed the time by finding distractions to help me cope with the discomfort in the wee hours of May 25th.  I watched Oprah’s final show on the DVR, “rested” on the couch with a hot pad, prepared a several peanut butter sandwiches for the hospital, talked to my mom and little brother on the phone, bounced on an exercise ball, and took a bath to ease the pain.  The bath felt nice, but it didn’t ease the discomfort that much.  I kept my doula in the loop with frequent text updates.  She begged to come over to help me, but with the type of contractions I was having, there was really nothing anyone could do to help me feel better.  I told her to stay home for the time being.  I eventually called the doctor on-call to tell her I suspected I was in labor.  Then, I took a shower, shaved my legs and blow-dried my hair, knowing it would be the last time I’d do that for a while.

At 2 a.m. I tried to rest, which was hilarious.  It’s nearly impossible to rest when you are having intense contractions every few minutes.  At 2:36 a.m. I went to the bathroom and noticed that I had bloody show… or so I thought.  I was equal parts excited and baffled because it was more underwhelming than I expected it to be.  All you have to go by is the list of labor signs you learn in baby class.  Contractions.  Bloody show. Water breaks.  Baby pops out.  The end.  I decided to wake Dan.  Sitting still was not an option for me, so I just paced around the house breathing deep breaths.  At 3:25 a.m. I went to the bathroom and saw that I was bleeding quite a lot.  This made me really nervous.  It just didn’t feel right.  I never read anything about having a lot of blood.  I had Dan call Kate and then the doctor to let them know we’re going to the hospital.   In a whirlwind, we gathered our carload of stuff and high-tailed out the door into the pouring rain.

The car ride sucked!!  I remember posting from my phone on Facebook “Let the games begin!” as a way to document the adventure.  I was so uncomfortable – sitting was absolutely the worst position for me.  My contractions were between 1 and 2 minutes apart at that point.  Our doula texted me and begged…”Can I PLEASE meet you at the hospital?!” She so badly wanted to be there for us, and I told her to absolutely meet us there.  Dan alerted the hospital we were on our way.  Once at the hospital, the walk from the car to the entrance was a struggle since contractions were coming so frequently.  We had to stop and sit on the bench at the entrance, which caught the attention of the night guard.  We were undoubtedly that couple in labor – a wincing woman accompanied by a man carrying 28 bags and a pillow, sporting a deer-in-headlights look on his face.  He greeted us with a wheel chair, offered me a lift, and we made the ridiculously long journey to the labor and delivery floor.  I was quietly cursing the old tile floor as I felt every bump under the hard wheels of my chariot.

At 4:15 a.m. we pulled up to the triage room where a nurse, aka “the gatekeeper”, would check me to determine if I got to stay at the hospital or go home.  I remember the staff didn’t seem too sensitive to my condition and felt no need to rush while I quietly whimpered in the hallway.  The nurse finally checked me and I was 4-5 cm dilated to which I exclaimed…”That’s it?!?!”  I was disappointed because I thought I would have been more dilated considering I was 3 cm dilated 5 days earlier.  Now I realize how lucky I was to be so far along at that stage.  They had me stand up so I could move to my room and I felt a leak.  I said… “Oh no, I’m sorry…I’m leaking all over the place.” I thought it was pee.   Then, a huge gush and splatter of fluid crashed down and Dan and the nurse laughed at me.  My water broke and it didn’t even occur to me.  Good job, Linds.

They moved me into a spacious labor and delivery room where I changed into the beautiful mesh underpants they provide and fumbled for my labor dress.  Yes, I just said labor dress.  I found this cute dress online intended to wear during labor that’s made of super soft t-shirt material and ties in the front for easy access to…you know…your private parts.  I hate hospital gowns – they make me sweat.  Well, I couldn’t figure out the damn dress – it was crazy complicated, so I just wore the maternity camisole I already had on and the mesh underpants.  And you know what?   It was the perfect thing to wear.  In fact, I’m wearing the same outfit right now.

While Nicole, our amazing nurse reviewed our birth plan and listened for our baby’s heart rate, Dan brought in the rest of our 28 bags and set up the laptop for music.  I actually spent a lot of time working on two labor mixes: Labor Mix – Fun and Labor Mix – Slow.  I wanted to be sure I had fun music in case I wanted to dance around during labor.  Isn’t that cute?  Yeah – that didn’t happen.  In the end we just labored in a dimly lit room in the peace and quiet (minus the guttural, primal sounds that came out of my mouth during contractions…but we’ll get to that in a minute).  Our doula arrived and immediately got to work hydrating and feeding me.  She was amazing.  Her peaceful yet encouraging demeanor was the perfect complement to Dan’s attentive and tender presence.  I was in good hands.

Laboring position #1. Our doula offered her shoulders for support – not a massage.

After reading about and practicing all sorts of laboring positions, it turned out I could only tolerate two positions: kneeling in bed and sitting on my heels, or on the toilet.  The only reason I would change positions is because my feet or bottom kept falling asleep.  With each contraction, I would take a deep breath and then exhale with a low, yogic, vibrating breath, very similar to a monk chanting or an animal growling.  It was bizarre yet so natural for me to do this, and it felt so much better than just breathing.

I was enveloped with love and support throughout the whole experience.  Dan sat by my side the entire time and held my hand through every contraction.  Kate continued to give me loving support and guidance and fed me water and Gatorade.  The nurse offered encouragement and kept an eye on the baby’s progress.  It was surprisingly serene.

Laboring position #2:  In the zone… on the toilet.

At 6:00 a.m. the doctor checked me and I was 9½ cm dilated.  Hallelujah! Praise Jesus!  Things were happening!  I was so happy and so grateful that I progressed as quickly as I did.  I went back to laboring to achieve that golden number all pregnant women hold near and dear:  TEN CENTIMETERS!

At 6:45 a.m. I entered what I assumed was transition.  The contractions became noticeably more intense and it was the one time where I thought I wouldn’t be able to do it.  I was unintentionally pushing at the end of each exhale, and the nurse told me to try to not do that, but Kate reassuringly told me that I should allow it to happen if it felt right.  On a few occasions I thought I was going to vomit but luckily I didn’t.  The nurse set-up a bright spotlight from outside the bathroom and shone it on my lady parts to see if I was bulging.  Yep, bulging.  Attractive, huh?  And eureka – I was!!!  It was a glorious moment, just because it sounded like an important change.

At 7:00 a.m. the doctor checked me.  I was complete (10 cm dilated and fully effaced)!  This meant one thing: time to push!  The best words I have ever heard.  I was like… “Hell yes. Bring it on, Baby!”  Suddenly, the room filled with nurses scrambling to set up for delivery.  It was suggested I lie on my left side. I totally assumed I would do some sort of squat or handstand to deliver this kiddo – so when I rolled to my side and it felt good, I was pleasantly surprised.

Pushing was an incredible feeling.  Having to NOT push for two hours felt so unnatural that having the chance to actually do what my body was meant to do was truly blissful.  It wasn’t painful.  In fact, it brought me tremendous relief.  Dan said my face turned a deep shade of purple with every push, as I tried to achieve three pushes with each contraction.  At one point, my doctor had me stop pushing and just breathe through a contraction.  That was hard but I understood why it was necessary.  I had to give my body time to adjust and bend with the pressure of the canned ham trying to escape my body.

Pushing was almost a serene and peaceful process…minus the part where my head almost exploded with each push.  Dan stood behind me and held my leg, and Kate was nearby offering encouragement and warm compresses.  In between pushes I fell into a euphoric, trance-like state.  I would rest and recover from the grueling physical demands of pushing and just relax on my side, sometimes having small conversations with the people around me.  I felt so good in between pushes that I asked for my cell phone so I could text my parents, who were en route to Madison, to tell them that I was indeed pushing.  It was a momentous occasion.

As soon as the baby’s head made an appearance, they handed me a mirror so I could see her.  It was so cool (aka gross) and encouraging. I pushed for what felt like ten minutes, but all told, it was only 47 minutes.  With one big push her head popped out and I could hear the excitement in Dan’s voice.  With another big push, our darling girl was born.  I strained to listen for her first cries. The doctor noticed there was meconium (her first poop) in the fluid that came out with her.  Still no cries.  I said, “Why isn’t she crying? I didn’t hear her cry!”  My heart began to pound.

The nurses put the baby on my chest and vigorously rubbed her to warm her up and get her to cry.  She didn’t.  It was pretty clear that she had ingested meconium in the womb.  She was a cloudy blue color which I knew is normal at first, but she wasn’t turning pink.  She wiggled a bit on my chest and I remember saying out loud that she was the softest thing I had ever felt.  The nurses kept saying…”C’mon baby girl. C’mon!” And I was thinking…”Please breathe, baby. Please!” I held her squirmy body tight and willed her to breathe.  And then with panic in my voice, I said, “She isn’t crying.  Take her.  Please!  Do whatever you have to do!”  The nurses swept her away and began working on her at the other end of the room, clearing her airway and bagging her with oxygen.  I told Dan to go with her and Kate stayed by my side, holding my hand.  I was so scared.  Dan was so scared.  Our beautiful baby girl wasn’t breathing.  I kept asking out loud…”What’s happening?!  Dan!  What’s going on?!!”  He didn’t answer.  He was in shock as he stood there watching his newborn baby girl struggle to breathe. Calmly, the nurses said they were just trying to get her to breathe – that she just needed a little help – that everything was okay.  But I didn’t believe them.  Kate squeezed my hand in reassurance.

They paged the NICU team and within minutes the troops arrived and began working on our girl.  Finally, a little screech escaped from across the room and it was the best sound I ever heard.  While I expected a wild scream, I relished every little bit of that little peep that came from our struggling baby.  The team continued to give her oxygen and monitor her vitals.  They were amazing.

Finally getting to hold her

After 30 minutes I was able to finally hold my baby girl for more than a few seconds.  She was still the softest thing I had ever felt in my life and I fell deeply in love with her.  Dan and I just gazed into her dark eyes and marveled at how she batted at the oxygen tube dangling in front of her face.  She was already a tough cookie!  Sadly, due to her dramatic entrance into the world, we were unable to attempt breastfeeding right away.  Not long after we got to hold her, they took her away to the NICU because her heart and oxygen rates were not stable.  Dan and I agreed that he should go with her.  Kate stayed by my side and fed me fresh cut strawberries as we waited for my mom and dad to arrive.

Suddenly, I was a new mom without her baby.  It was surreal.  I had just gone through hours of labor and delivered a beautiful baby girl, and then, POOF, our baby wasn’t by my side.  I spent nearly ten months attached to her, and now we were separated.  It felt so strange to carry on in conversation with nurses and my family, munching on strawberries, as if nothing had happened.  But there was a hole in my heart.   I desperately wanted to hold her sweet body against mine, and sink into that newborn bliss.  It would be hours before I saw her again, with an IV in her bandaged arm, oxygen cannulas tied to her nose and face, and beeping monitors filling the space around our tiny baby.  I knew how lucky we were that she made it through the rough patch.  But seeing her in the NICU like that took my breath away and for the first time that day, I sobbed.  I couldn’t bear the sight of my little girl in this state.  It broke my heart.

Our little family spent four days in the NICU while our baby girl recovered.  The nursing staff was unbelievable.  They took amazing care of both me and our baby.  Those four days were a blur of exhaustion, worry, and emotion, and we were cut off from the outside world.  It did, however, take us FOUR days to name our little Peanut Face.  Even though I had made baby name lists since I was 12 years old, Dan and I couldn’t settle on a name for four days.  But on the fourth day, we knew we had the right name.  For a variety of reasons I’ll share another time, we chose the most perfect name of all…

Amelia Josephine Williams.

Our baby girl the day we left the hospital

Welcome to the world, Amelia.  You bring us so much joy.  We adore you.

A Room of One’s Own

We thought it would be nice for our kid to have a room of her own.  So after months of hemming and hawing (what does that really mean, anyway), we finally got to work.  It all started with a concert poster and a shag rug, but we’ll get back to that in a minute.

I obsessed over every detail, beginning with cribs.  I wanted to go as toxin-free as possible.  So I stalked several other blogs and did some research…quickly falling in love with a $900 crib.  Why does this always happen?!  In a blind taste test, I will ALWAYS fall for the most expensive one.  Luckily, I talked myself out of that one.  Then, I became obsessed with baby bedding.  Turns out, I didn’t really like anything on the market.  I scoured website after website searching for the perfect pattern – cool, contemporary, with a hint of sweetness or whimsy.  Nothing.  Then I got all wacky and decided I would just have the bedding made out of some perfect, yet-to-be-found fabric.  I was running around in circles.  Then I remembered the poster.

The inspiration.

Dan and I love the band Phish.  Last summer, we bought a signed poster when Phish played at Alpine Valley in Wisconsin.  Phish is very special to us.  Our first dance at our wedding was to Phish’s “Waste” and not long after that summer concert, we found out we were pregnant.  I instantly knew the poster would be perfect for the baby’s room.  It has a milk bottle on it, for crying out loud!  And just like that, it became the anchor of the room.  I drew inspiration from the bright colors and the pale aqua background and pops of dark brown. 

So with that, I ripped off the band-aid and made some decisions.  First, I bought a crib online.  Then, on a successful trip to Homegoods with my mom, I found a white shag rug that I thought was the perfect touch for the room.  We also scored some fabulous pieces – a turquoise table, a white and green pineapple lamp, and some fun wall art.  Next, I picked a wall color.  I wanted to go as non-toxic as possible, so I found the perfect VOC-free paint from Mythic called Another Day.

Love these pieces!

Then I found the most comfortable glider chair in the world.  We had to special order it from Buy Buy Baby, but I’m so glad we did.  I could sleep in this baby for days on end.  I’m very particular in my design taste, which means I often make things far more complicated than they need to be.  In this case, I wanted to incorporate some pattern and add some pops of color near the brown chair, so I bought fabric on Fabric.com and had pillows and an ottomon cover made.  I love the results!  Both pillows are two-sided so I can mix up the pattern and color combinations whenever I like, which turns out to be often.

The chair of all chairs and one pillow combination.

Then, we hung some wall art and assembled the changing table and boom, the nursery was done.


We stole the map from another room!

And the part I loved most was washing and folding every little outfit, receiving blanket, and burp cloth and loading up the changing table with everything a baby girl needs.    We love it!

A room of her own.
Okay baby girl, we’re ready for you!  But since you have 27 days left to keep cooking, just stay right where you are.  We’ll meet you soon enough.

April Showers

Hi there.  Remember me?  Since it’s been approximately 7 years since my last post, I figured it was high time to get back up on the pony and write a post or two.  I know, you’re stoked, right?  I think I just heard a collective ‘Thank God!’ from all of 4 of you readers.

So, a lot has been happening in Cheeseland.  As we approach D Day (due day) in 27 days, I have taken to nesting like nothing before.  In fact, I’ve coined this new wave of organization, cleaning and preparation SUPER NESTING, and I love it!  I’ve nested the crap out of this house, and there’s still more to do!   Birds got nothing on me.

We didn’t do it alone.  Preparing for a baby, or wedding, or any other life-changing event, truly does take a village.  A very special ritual has helped us to build this beautiful nest for our little girl, and that is the baby shower.  I have been blessed with some very loving and thoughtful friends, and was the lucky recipient of two beautiful baby showers.   My darling friends (and bridesmaids) Lenzo, Benny, and Kelly hosted a delightful shower in Chicago.  It was so wonderful to see all my old pals from Chicago.  The hosts served a beautiful brunch with mimosas and no-jitos (loved these!) and my favorite cookies (Oatmeal Scotchies) as a nod to my bestie Amy in Kansas.  The best part is that the grandmas-to-be were both there.  My mom and mother-in-law were so happy.  Dan was there for the gift opening and we were just blown away by the generosity of everyone.   

Lenzo and Kelly, two of the three lovely hostesses. Benny was...hostessing somewhere.


Part of my fabulous family!

The next weekend my sweet friends in Madison, Kelly and Shari, hosted another knock-out shower in Cheeseland.  Kelly and Shari are a creative bunch, and it started with a deluxe invitation designed by the gals.  DARLING!!!  My wonderful Madison friends were there, as well as my mom and little brother, Kevin.  The nibbles were delectable, the mimosas and spimosas (virgin mimosas with Sprite) were flowing, and it was a joy to be with my new Wisconsin-based family.  I felt very fortunate.  Our cup runneth over…with onesies.

The Madison crowd minus my amazing coworker friends.

The adorable treat bags designed by hostess and designer extraordinaire, Kelly!


Super adorable onesies

After all of the generosity, nesting, and village people, we finally finished the nursery.  It is my favorite room in the house.  I find myself just standing in there, looking around, picturing our little girl sleeping (or freaking out) in her crib.  I can’t believe it’s almost here.  Stay tuned for nursery pics.  They’re coming next.

She’s Back!

Well, well, well…look who decided to show her face around these parts again.  Yes, it’s true.  I’ve been M.I.A. from the blog world lately.  My mind has been elsewhere – busy with baby preparation, nesting, work, and enjoying  time with my husband.  And, this third trimester has me feeling super tired lately!  I mean, really, really tired.  But enough about that.  Let’s get to the good stuff!

31 weeks belly shot! Looks more like I ate a giant hoagie, but it's a baby. Not a hoagie. I've always wanted to call a sandwich 'hoagie' like Cliff Huxtable.

Here’s a pic for Bump Watch 2011.  I’m nearly 31 weeks in this photo.  The kid is going NUTS in there!  She’s constantly moving.  In fact, I think she’s trying to get out…through my abdominal wall, a la that classic scene in ‘Alien’.  This is probably payback for me referring to her as an alien in the past.  For that, I am sorry, Baby.  You are a calm, sweet, beautiful and precious little angel that simply adores being squished into a yogic ball, upside down, forced to enjoy mommy’s latest fondness for ALL THINGS DAIRY (ice cream, yogurt, milk shakes, protein shakes, cheese, cheese curds, cheese spread (i love you), butter, and sundaes.  You’re welcome, darling girl.

Besides eating, I’ve been busy nesting.  And I’ll tell you what…I LOVE NESTING!  Nesting alone is reason to get pregnant!  It’s brilliant!  Normally I’m a big planner but not a good do-er when it comes to house stuff.  But, the organization fire is burning and I’ve been checking things off the list.  With the help of my talented mom (she has a serious knack for this stuff), we’ve been organizing rooms, drawers, and closets (all three of them!).  My husband and I are desperate to eliminate as much clutter and excess from our lives as possible, to help make our transition to parenthood as easy and calm as possible.  This purging and organizing process has been cathartic and wonderful for both of us.

So far, my favorite part has been putting the nursery together, and it’s nearly done!  It looks so beautiful. I stand in there for minutes on end just admiring the loveliness and envisioning our little one laying in her crib.  The vision of her in this room makes me so happy.  We turned our second bedroom into the nursery.  The transformation has been amazing!  Here’s a little tease  with the before picture.  As soon as we put the finishing touches on the room, I’ll post the after.

Here's the nursery in a state of chaos.

Dan and I assembled the crib together and lived to tell about it.  So that’s good.  We’ve painted the walls a gorgeous shade of pale aqua using this fantastic eco and baby-friendly VOC-free paint from Mythic.  My wonderful parents visited for a couple of days and painted the room and assembled the changing table while Dan and I were at work.  So nice of them!  They did an amazing job.   We’re just waiting for the chair and the pillows I had made to arrive and voila!  Baby’s got a room of her own.  I can’t wait!!!!!!

We’re also busy taking a baby class once a week.  Now this is funny.  Since Dan and I have zero experience with labor, delivery, and newborn care, this class has been quite helpful…and comical.  The videos they make us watch are worth every dollar we’ve spent on this class.  Though, they have now turned me off of the idea of actually delivering this baby.  I’ve decided I’d like her to just arrive the old fashioned way – via stork.  This week we moved on from the terrors of labor and delivery and learned how to care for our newborn.  Here’s a pic of Dan burping the baby.  Awwww.

Burp the baby. I practiced on Dan later.

All in all, there have been many adventures in Cheeseland lately, with updating our kitchen (doh!), and a visit from my beautiful sister, Sara, to celebrating lot’s of 30th birthdays of my (younger) friends, and spending time with new friends, which has been especially lovely.  Life is good.   Now, will someone please bring me some ice cream.  Mama needs to get her snack on.

A Father’s Love

As we prepare to bring our first child into this world, I have become increasingly aware of the role my parents have played in my life.  I wonder what kind of parent I will be to my child, and I know that if I can be just a fraction of what my parents have been to me, then our child will be just fine.  Not too long ago, my grandpa told me the story of my father’s birth, and it reminded me once again of the enduring love a parent feels for their child.

My father was born on February 21, 1943 – on his parents’ first wedding anniversary.  I’ve always loved this fact.  I find it inexplicably romantic.

My grandpa at sixteen years old!

My dad’s father, my grandpa Joe, was in the service when my dad was born.  He was in  training in Louisiana, preparing to leave for the South Pacific to fight in World War II.  It pained him to be so far away from his young wife, my grandma, who was pregnant with their first and only child, hundreds of miles away in Tulsa, Oklahoma.  They spoke often on the phone so he knew their baby would be born soon.  He also knew that he could not leave to fight a war without seeing his newborn child first.  He had to get home.

So, my grandpa went to his captain and asked if he could leave for a few days to visit his newborn child.  The captain said no.  My grandpa was crushed.  He decided to go to his lieutenant, who he liked very much, and plead his case. He said, “I know we’re about to leave and I respect that.  But my child is about to be born and I cannot leave without seeing him or her first.  I’ll come right back.  I just have to go home.” His lieutenant patiently listened and said “Listen, if we let you go, don’t try any funny stuff. Trust me, it will hurt you more than you know.”  The lieutenant spoke to the captain and miraculously, he acquiesced, and the next day my grandpa was on a bus back to Tulsa.  Late that evening he was dropped off at an old bus depot in the middle of nowhere.  Not a sign of life in any direction.  He was to wait for another bus to take him home.  Silently, he prayed that a bus would come around the bend, because not a soul on Earth knew he was sitting out there waiting.

My dad at age 5. My little brother looked just like him at age 5. So cool.

A few hours later, a bus pulled into the depot and took my grandfather home to his waiting wife and newborn son, Daniel Joseph Millsap.  He only needed a day or two to make sure his wife was okay and to meet his beloved child.  Everything was okay.  Regrettably, the next day he boarded the same bus to take him back to boot camp.  Leaving was the hardest thing he ever had to do, but he was satisfied and grateful for the opportunity.  A father’s love – no, a parent’s love, knows no bounds.

My father is clearly the product of immense love and devotion by his two doting parents.  My blue-collar grandparents worked hard to give him a quality life, and the love they showered upon him is evident in every fiber of his being.  My three siblings and I have been the fortunate recipients of  this byproduct our entire lives.  In fact, I know this quality is one my mother loves the most in my father. He, like his own father, was destined to be a dad.

My dad and I have a very special relationship.  We are very similar creatures, he and I, and we understand each other in a way that no one has ever been able to match.  I inherited his blue eyes and broad nose, his painfully tender heart, his athleticism, his curiosity, and his receding hairline and knotty, bunioned feet. Thanks dad.

My dad walking me down the aisle (Photo by Erin Hearts Court)

My dad is unwaveringly devoted to his family.  Us four kids and my mother know, without a shadow of a doubt, that my father would do anything for us at the drop of a hat.  He has always been there for us…every step of the way, and even as we have grown older and have moved on, his love and loyalty have only grown stronger, and for that, I am one lucky kid.

I love you, Dad!