Dear Baby Girl

Dear Baby Girl (aka, the Alien),

I’ve been lovingly calling you “the alien” ever since we saw your 3D mug shot on the ultrasound.  That, or Oompa Loompa, due to that fabulous orange tint you have. If you take after me, it’s the darkest your skin will ever be, so enjoy the tan while you can.  You are gorgeous just the way you are and I cannot get enough of you.

I can feel you kicking all the time these days.  Every kick feels like the first, and it surprises me and fills me with joy.  I never knew I’d be so proud of your kicks.  If your dad is around when you kick, I instantly grab his hand and put it on my belly – hoping he can feel you.  Right now it feels like you’re practicing a tap dance routine, or perhaps you’re running through some karate drills or Morse code?  Whatever it is, keep it up.  Kick high and hard, little mama!

22.7 weeks preggers!!

This weekend I became officially pregnant (translation = I popped).  Out of the blue, my belly got noticeably bigger in one day!   It was remarkable!

We are nearly 23 weeks along with you which means we’ll get to meet you in about 17 weeks!  I know your birthday is still so far away, but I can’t help but wonder when the big day will come.  Will you make it to your due date, or be stubborn and hang on until June?  Wouldn’t it be cool if you were born on our wedding anniversary – June 12?  I suspect the doctor won’t let you cook that long, but we’ll see.  I think it would be lovely.  Your grandpa Millsap was born on his parents’ first anniversary and I always loved that.   Your dad will be thrilled that it’s one less important date to remember!  A win win for all.

We’re planning your nursery now and it’s so much fun!  I went shopping for your nursery with your grandma Millsap last weekend.  I look forward to shopping with you when you’re older.  That is, if you’re into shopping.  Something tells me you will be – you’re half a Millsap after all!   We bought your crib the other night – which was an impressive feat after hours and hours of looking online for the perfect bed for you.  Everything is starting to feel very real.  You’ll be ours in a matter of months!  I cannot wait to hold you in my arms for the very first time.  I’ve been singing (sorry about that) and talking to you so you’ll recognize the sound of my voice when you arrive.

Your dad and I love you so much, our beautiful baby girl…even if you look like an alien right now.

Our love,

Mom and Dad

Favorite Things Friday

Okay kiddies….I’m starting a new feature here on Adventures in Cheeseland called Favorite Things Friday! Original, eh?  I want to share with you my favorite things…and the list is plentiful.  I’m a pretty passionate person…about everything.  I have lots of favorites.  Tons!  But I’m also quite discerning and super opinionated, and I do not dole out “favorite” ratings to just anything.  This is serious stuff.  We’re talking FAVORITES!

So, with that scintillating introduction, shall we get this party started?  I say yes.   Here are two of my favorite things in the world that made the list today because, 1) I smelled how awesome my shirt smells, and 2) I just devoured and immensely enjoyed the other, just as I sat down to write a post.  Pure strategery, people.

ECOS Magnolia and Lily Laundry Detergent

Ecos Magnolia & Lily: The wonder detergent!

As my darling husband can attest, I am completely, 100%, un-apologetically obsessed with this laundry detergent.   I began using ECOS Magnolia and Lily Laundry Detergent a few years ago when I was trying to go more natural with my household products.  At first sniff, you might not be that impressed.  But once you wash your laundry with it…whoa.  The gorgeous scent this environmentally-responsible detergent imparts on my clothing, sheets, and towels is so delicious!  I literally cannot stop smelling my shirt sleeve when I’m wearing a freshly-washed garment.  Don’t even get me started on how I feel about slipping into our bed made with freshly-washed sheets.  Total bananas!

Fannie May Candies Pixies

Fannie May Pixies = pure joy

What up, Chicagoans?!  If you’re a Chicagoan, then you know about Fannie May.  The beloved Chicago chocolate institution has  been making delectable chocolates for more than 85 years, and for good reason.  They’re sensational!  Everyone has their favorite lollie from Fannie May, but mine is most certainly the Pixie, Fannie May’s gourmet version of the Turtle – a chocolate covered caramel and pecan piece of magic.  They are gooey, rich, substantial and amazing.  Enough said.  And, in 6th grade, my first boyfriend, Andy, surprised me by giving me a box of Pixies the day before Christmas break, signed “from your secret admirer”.  How cute is that?!  I’ve loved them ever since.  Good news Madison folk – there’s a Fannie May right here in Madison at the Hilldale Mall.  Get yourself some.

So with that, I wish you a very happy weekend friends!  I’m visiting my family and friends in Chicago for the weekend, mostly under the guise of baby shopping.  I’m not shopping for a baby, but rather, stuff for the baby that I am making.  Let the games begin!

Sugar and Spice

Hello friends!  It’s been an exciting week since I last posted!   With all of the post-holiday frenzy, New Year’s Eve, New Year’s Day, and my 33 (gasp!) birthday, I’ve had a lot to celebrate this past week.  But none of those wonderful events could even compare to the excitement and exhilaration of getting to see our darling little baby on the monitor during our 20 week ultrasound on Wednesday.  It was pure bliss.  The best part, of course, was the long-awaited confirmation of the baby’s sex.  After the initial relief of confirming that the baby was indeed at least one of the two sexes we knew about, Dan and I both realized at the same moment that were staring at our little girl. 

Yes, that’s right!!  We’re having a girl!!!!!!!  And, we couldn’t be more thrilled, because frankly, girls rock.  Boys rock, too.  We’re just happy as clams right now.

In the words of my darling mother, “Let the shopping begin!”  And shop she did.  To celebrate this good news, she sent us the baby her first care package filled to the brim with darling pink and delicate and polka-dotted outfits, burp clothes, bibs, and receiving blankets.  LOVE.  Just opening the package and reading my mother’s sweet words brought tears to my eyes – a pure and honest reaction to the beauty of this whole experience.  We finally know.  I cannot wait to meet her.

May she have my husband’s dashing good looks, my fun-loving personality, and her daddy’s big, fat, nerd brain and athletic talent.  Or, perhaps she’ll inherit my sister’s artistic skill.  Or, maybe she’ll have the soulful voice of her aunt Jennifer.  Or maybe… she’ll love ballet and volleyball and fashion and travel like I do.  Or…she’ll be a devotee of Dungeons and Dragons like… well, no one we’re related to.  But if that’s her bag, then we’ll support her all the way and gosh darn it, we’ll buy her the cutest damn Dungeons and Dragons outfits or tote bags or whatever the hell you bring to a Dungeons and Dragons tournament.

No matter what or who our beloved girl will turn out to be, we’re already more in love with her than we ever thought possible.  We have our work cut out for us for the next 4.5 months, with a nursery to design and create, baby classes to take, strollers and cribs and car seats to research…. oh my.  This To Do list has never looked more awesome.

A New Day

I woke up this morning with that familiar buzz of possibility ringing throughout my body.  The same buzz I feel before the holidays or on a sleepy Sunday morning.  We returned from our 55 hour trip to Florida to visit my husband’s lovely mother, sister, and grandmother late last night, and with the holidays almost behind us (I’ll be celebrating with my family later this week), I sprang from bed with the gusto of a 5-year-old on Christmas morning. 

As if it were January 1, I feel like today is the start of a new year.  But the New Year is five whole days away, so today I shall celebrate the privilege of having the day off and enjoy A New Day to tether me back to Earth after nearly coming undone under holiday shopping and traveling stress.  And people, I’m inspired to get some stuff done.  With the little bambino finally kicking up a storm inside my belly, my nesting instincts have kicked-in full-throttle, and we have some big projects ahead.  And I’m going to share with you our plans for the nursery design, transforming our basement into a family room/office/guest bedroom, and tackling a master bedroom redesign. Oh my!!  I think someone needs to go shopping for her own tool belt.  Do they make maternity tool belts…in turquoise?

But first, for all of you egg nog lovers out there (what up?!?), I have just discovered the non-egg, non-dairy version of this magical Christmas beverage:  Silk Nog.  G-L-O-R-I-O-U-S!  I just poured myself a frosty glass and within 2.7 seconds, returned for a second helping.  It’s good.

The holidays are not entirely over for me, though.  My adorable parents and sister are visiting at the end of the week, and my lil bro and bestie are threatening to make an appearance in Cheeseland, so this means only one thing:  MORE TREATS!!!  I mean, technically I’m obligated to keep the holidays going by making some of our traditional family holiday treat favorites, right?  So, this week I shall prepare and share the recipes with all of you, the following delectable delights:

molasses crinkles: a family favorite!

– Lana’s Spiced Nuts

– Hot Fudge Sauce (So unbelievably good. You’ll want this recipe!)

– Christmas cookies

– Cheesy Sausage Bread (I may even make a vegetarian version of this, too.)

– Chex Mix

Some of you still have some time off for the holidays.  Are you feeling the itch of inspiration to tackle some fun projects, or freshen your look, or read a new book, or test a new recipe ?  Share with me!

A Christmas Miracle

Merry Christmas Eve Eve, y’all!   I remember when I was little I would wish people a merry Christmas Eve Eve on December 23.  You see, in our house, Christmas Eve was almost more exciting than Christmas Day, and the anticipation of December 24 was almost too much to bear. 

The day of Christmas Eve would seem to take FOREVER….just waiting for the evening’s festivities to begin.  Trying to stay out of our mom’s way, we would busy ourselves with attempting to wrap gifts for each other and our parents.  Then, by late afternoon, just as the sun was beginning to go down, my dad would put on the Andy Williams Christmas album, and we could put on our special Christmas clothes (containing equal parts of velvet, scratchy wool, lace) and await for our beloved grandparents to pull into the driveway.  Their arrival meant only one thing – PRESENTS!!!!!!!!!!!!  Oh, and the eve of the birth of Christ.  But mostly for us…it meant presents.  Plain and simple. 

Both of our grandmas and our grandpa would burst into the door, their arms overflowing with wrapped gifts.  We were instantly swallowed up in smothering hugs and kisses by each, nearly suffocating in a fog of perfume, aftershave, and make-up. We have a small family with no first cousins, so we always got our grandparents to ourselves.  We truly were the apple of their eyes, and we knew it.  My three siblings and I knew how loved we were (and continue to be by our dear grandpa) by our grandparents, and memories of them still make me ache with longing and fondness.  As we’ve grown older and our grandmothers have passed away, our Christmas Eve traditions have changed, and I love them just the same. 

I won’t be celebrating Christmas with my family this year which makes me sad.  But I am comforted knowing that I will be with my new family – the family that is me and my new husband, and our growing baby (read: fetus, alien, Cinco, Baby Booger Bean/Beanette).  The gravity of this change is not lost on me.  I am inspired and excited to embark on creating our own family traditions with our new family the same way my parents did 36 years ago when they celebrated Christmas as a new family with their first child, my brother Bryan. 

On a different note, we are 18 weeks along in our pregnancy and I’m beginning to show!  I have never felt more proud of anything than this bump of mine.  The other night, I felt the baby move for the first time as the little nugget did some sort of back flip or toe-touch in the womb.  I yelped and laughed out loud and prayed for another movement.  It was divine.  But the true Christmas miracle this holiday season was the moment I slipped on my first pair of maternity pants.  LORD HAVE MERCY!  Hallelujah!  I recommend to every one of you, pregnant or not, male or female, to go out right now and buy this pair of maternity pants. Or this pair.  Or these leggings. They are sleek and totally comfortable – like dressy sweatpants.  Joey Tribiani knew exactly what he was doing when he wore Phoebe’s maternity pants to Thanksgiving dinner.  Believe me.

Let it Snow-nema

Even though the first day of winter is still technically 18 days away,  I’d like to officially declare that winter is in fact here.  And after taking one meteorology course in college, I feel confident saying that Winter Solstice has arrived early this year.

I don’t particularly love winter, mostly because I hate being cold and scraping thick ice off  my windshield, and dealing with phenomenally static-y hair.  But I do love all of the wonderful, romantic things that come with winter.  I love the first snow fall, which for us here in Madison, Wisconsin, is only hours away.  There’s nothing like the quiet, muffled sound of the outdoors after a fresh snow fall. God I love that!  Oh and that delightful scent in the evening of fires burning in fireplaces.  Glorious.

I love the holidays, ice-skating, sledding, hot chocolate, sitting by the fire, Christmas lights, Christmas cookies, Christmas music, Christmas catalogs, Christmas decorations (okay…i’m starting to see a theme here)… you get the drift.  But if there is one thing that puts me more in the mood for winter and the holidays…it’s Christmas movies.  Lord have mercy, I love me some Christmas movies. 

Christmas movies have been a staple in my home since I can remember.  The four of us kids would watch the same Christmas movies year after year.  The sweet memories of  us snuggled up on the couch under my grandma’s afghan blankets, watching the movies on our old VHS machine, are so precious to me.  I feel like it was yesterday.  I even have a deep affection for the TV commercials that were on those tapes – like the Maxwell House, Pillsbury, Crisco, and Energizer holiday commercials.  I can still picture them.

These are the Christmas movies that have been a part of my life for either 3 years or 32 years, and I love them all. 

Oldies 

  • The Night They Saved Christmas –  BEST. MOVIE. EVER.
  • Christmas Comes to PacLand (Yes, even PacMan had his own Christmas film)
  • A Chipmunk Christmas
  • Frosty the Snowman
  • Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

 Comedic Classics

  • National Lampoon’s ‘Christmas Vacation’
  • A Christmas Story
  • Home Alone (I’ve decided to remove this. it’s a great film, but I don’t watch it anymore really, so I think I’ll give it a rest.)
  • Elf (Doh!  I cannot believe I forgot this one. This was an after-thought addition…thanks to my friend nancy for reminding me. Umm, I’ve already watched this movie twice this year. There’s something wrong with me.)

Romantic Classics

  • Love Actually
  • The Holiday
  • Home for the Holidays

Super Classics (Super-oldies my mom made me watch and I now love)

  • White Christmas
  • Christmas in Connecticut
  • The Bishop’s Wife
  • Miracle on 34th Street

I’ve already watched three Christmas movies since Thanksgiving.  I’m off to a good start this year and look forward to watching many more.  What are your favorite Christmas movies or favorite things about winter?

I really want a poached egg!

Looks like someone forgot she had a blog.  Yep.  Completely forgot, to be honest.  I have a good excuse though.  I’ve been a little distracted lately because…

Mama’s got a bun in the oven!

Yep, we’re 14.5 weeks pregnant today and we couldn’t be more thrilled!  When I rolled over into the second trimester last week, I was excited to say farewell to the slightly bumpy (nauseated) first trimester.  They say the second is the best trimester, cuz you typically feel great, have a lot of energy, and your bump starts to show a lot which means you get to enjoy the wonderment of your growing belly.  But so far the journey has been mostly delightful AND 100% entertaining. 

Just looking back at all the changes I’ve gone through since finding out…blows my mind.  And we’re so early in this journey, too!  Just to clue you in on what I’m talking about, here’s a little list for your reading pleasure.

Things That Blow My Mind About Being Pregnant

  1. Saying farewell to wine:  I never knew how hard it was to part with my nightly ritual of enjoying a glass of wine with our dinner.  It’s a wonderful ritual and one I look forward to reprising in exactly 179 days.
  2. Bidding adieu to my beloved coffee:  Coffee wasn’t as hard to part with as I sort of weened myself off the stuff a couple of weeks before we got preggers. I highly recommend this tactic.
  3. First ultrasound:  I remember that moment so clearly when up on the screen we saw our little 6.5 week old bean and my life changed forever.
  4. Vegetables are the devil: For the first trimester I grew to dispise vegetables.  For those who know me, this was a bit funny since I tend to subsist on produce.  However, I’ve wanted NOTHING to do with them. I still hate spinach, onions, and garlic – three former staples of my diet.
  5. Our baby will be a loaf of bread:  I have eaten more bread in the past 14 weeks than should really be discussed.  It’s all I want! You name it – Peanut butter toast. Pretzel rolls. An entire loaf of sourdough. Oh yeah – it’s on.
  6. The Bloat:  Feeling bloated. Looking bloated. Whatever you call it, it’s been a constant companion for the past 14 weeks, because I technically do not look pregnant yet (except to me and my husband).  In fact, sometimes I catch a glimpse of myself and think…”oh crap!  I’m getting fat! ” and then I remember I’m pregnant and that’s a baby popping out.  Phew.
  7. Impressionable & random cravings:  Again, for those who know me well, you know that I have a severe craving disorder.  But that’s nothing compared to what I’m experiencing now.  For example – right now, all I want in the world is poached eggs on toast.  Last night, out of nowhere, while eating my dinner, I HAD to have English toffee.  In fact,  I still want it.  Two nights ago, we had to make an unscheduled stop for a bag of Twizzlers to cure a leftover craving from the previous evening.
  8. Food aversions:  This has been the worst part of the pregnancy so far – so I’ve been lucky!  There are some foods and smells that I cannot stand for a second.  My poor husband ate something the other day and I couldn’t kiss him or even sleep close to him because it was on his breath.  Doh!   In fact, I had to wake him up to make him roll over so he wasn’t breathing in my direction.  Poor guy.  He’s being a champ about it, though.  The worst part is when I kiss him good-bye in the morning and have to gently remind him…”oh, and please be mindful of what you eat today. Thanks!”   Not cool.
  9. Extreme hunger:  As soon as the nausea dissolved, the hunger settled in.  I seriously cannot stop eating.  Every morning my breakfast is quickly followed by a second breakfast.  I’ve turned into a Hobbit. 
  10. Acne:  Enough said.
  11. Championship-level Exhaustion:  This has recently popped into my life.  Lately, I can hardly keep my eyes open –  at all times of the day.  I can sleep for 12 hours – no problem, and still be exhausted pretty much all day long.  I’m looking forward to this part being over.
  12. Constant farts:  Sorry Mom and Dad, I had to go there.  Gas is an undeniable and quite funny part of being pregnant.  Humility in our house died about 4 weeks ago.
  13. Constipation:  Seriously?!?!  What gives?!!
  14. Super emotional:  I cry all the time now.  An episode of “The Gilmore Girls” had me hunched over bawling into my lap the other day.  I’ve turned to comedies to fend off any more outbreaks.
  15. Movement & Sound:  We’ve been lucky to have a few ultrasounds already and got to hear the heartbeat. I’ve never been more thrilled and proud than when I heard his or her little heart beat.  Seeing him or her moving around on the screen was pretty exquisite, too. 
  16. The baby name conversation:  Don’t even get me started.   
  17. And to make-up for the farts: Boobs.

Stay tuned as I chronicle this exciting and life-changing adventure we’re on.  We feel so blessed and humbled to be experiencing this gift, and I don’t want to forget any details.  I might just have to call this “Adventures in Babyland”.