New Year's Busy Eve

Who would have thought that the last day of the year would be my busiest in quite a while. I did it to myself, but I have lots of fun things to do today, including:

1. Shower, Primp, Dress
2. Shoe Shopping
3. Craft Supply Shopping
4. Hippie Grocery Store for dishwasher detergent and cosmetics
5. Regular Grocery Store for milk
6. Home again
7. Bake Homemade Oreos
8. Bake Buche de Noel (because I forgot to do it for Christmas)
9. Mix up No-Knead Bread for tomorrow (so easy and delicious too!)
10. Mix up crab dip for tomorrow (we have a big spread for football games (Aaron) and crafting marathon (Jessie))
11. Die of exhaustion because I usually only get one thing done off of my to do list on a daily basis as being pregnant has made me exhausted and apathetic
12. Daydream about baby (throughout day)
13. Work (I have a couple of tasks to wrap up today that I need to have done by Wednesday morning)

Then tomorrow I have to finish up whatever work I didn't get done today, make Crispix Mix (I add a few shakes of Franks Red Hot to spice up the recipe and give it my own twist), craft, snuggle, and do some more daydreaming. I am far to busy for my own good.

Photographic Proof

...that there's actually a baby in my belly!

First up, my baby's profile. We think she has my nose (as it's slightly turned up just like mine).

Here she is with her face to the camera. Her little right hand is above her chin, and her abdomen is toward the left of the screen.

Here are her tiny little feet. Both of her feet are in both pictures. She refused to uncross her legs, so the feet are stacked one on top of the other. The picture on the right is one of my favorites that we got.


I also got a picture that proves she's a girl, but I decided to keep that one for us. She is just too cute for words, and I can't wait to see her again at my next appointment!

The Results Are In...

Aaron and I went to the OB yesterday to have our "big" ultrasound - the one where we got to see it all, including the baby's sex. I have to say, it was truly amazing and one of my favorite life experiences thus far.

And we got to see it all - the baby's brain, heart, spine, stomach, kidneys, face, nose, lips, eyes, arms, hands, fingers, legs, feet, toes...and of course the one thing everyone wants to know about. The part that let us know that our baby is A GIRL!!!

She just kicked me pretty hard as I typed that.

She was active through the second half of the ultrasound, after I emptied my bladder of the 32 ounces of water they had me drink and she was a little less cramped in there. She kicked, turned her head, opened and closed her right hand and attempted to suck her left thumb. She is stubborn like her father and I, however, and so I have to have another ultrasound in four weeks (darn, huh?) in order to get better pictures of her feet. She had her legs crossed for the duration of the ultrasound and so they couldn't check them like they normally do (for club feet, but the doctor told us not to be worried because there's no sign of that from the pictures we do have, and is easily correctable if that is the case).

If I thought I was in love before, I was was wrong. Now I'm head over heels, and there's no going back. I'm going to have a daughter, and I can't wait to meet her.

I wanted to post a few of her pictures, but of course my scanner is not working this morning. I'll have Aaron fiddle with it either tonight or tomorrow night so that I can finally post her pictures. We also have a video of part of the ultrasound, but it will be a while before I can post that because it's on a VHS tape and the VHS to DVD recorder we have access to is locked in my sister's dorm room until she heads back to school in a couple of weeks. I'll try to post it if I can though.

Our baby girl got her first Christmas presents this year too - an incredibly soft blanket from Aaron's parents, and a silver spoon and silver birthday cake candle holders from my parents. She is so spoiled already. Aaron and I have yet to buy her anything, but we both caught the other doing some online browsing last night at the cutest baby girl clothes I think I've ever seen (check out baby Gap for the little one in your life - their new collection is awesome).

She has us wrapped around her little finger already.
So, I disappeared again. What of it? Busy times at work, Christmas shopping and baking, and celebrating three years since this:


have kept me incredibly busy. Plus I'm obsessed with point number 5 in my last post, since the utrasound occurs in less than a week now and I'm having a hard time being patient. By the way, you can guess here or there what sex the baby is if you'd like.

I really have no inkling as to what sex it is; my mom thinks it's a boy and Aaron keeps slipping and calling the baby "him", as do I. My sister and best friend want it to be a girl and my dad is convinced that's what it will be, but he could just be doing that since my mom says boy and he likes to pick on her a lot.

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Today is the last day of 12 DAYS OF COOKIES, and I hope you've enjoyed all the recipes I've shared. Today's cookie is one I've wanted to try for a while, one that looks amazing, and one that I'm sure would be a hit: homemade oreos. I think they look more delicious than the branded kind, and now I'm craving a glass of milk. Enjoy!

Five Things

1. I've definitely been feeling the baby moving, so imagine my disappointment and slight panic this weekend when I went a day and a half without feeling much. Then my mom pointed out what should probably have been obvious: I hadn't moved much in a day and a half, and maybe if I pulled my butt up off the couch and moved around for a little while I might feel something more. So I got up, washed some dishes, made some cookies, made some more cookies, and made an afternoon snack. When I sat down the baby moved up a storm, and it was awesome.

I have to say that the baby moving is, at once, the weirdest and coolest thing I have ever felt. I love it and that's why I was missing it when the baby wasn't moving. Check with me in a few months when the baby is kicking me in the ribs, though, and see if I feel the same. I'm sure I'll still love it, but it won't be quite as awesome.

2. Carrie over at Carrster had her baby this weekend, and it's a girl! A beautiful girl, with a beautiful name. I'm so happy for her little family! Go over and congratulate her if you can, she definitely deserves it after all she's been through pregnancy-wise lately.

3. Frema is being induced today, because little Freka didn't seem to want to come out on her own. Wish her some good thoughts! I can't wait to see her little one!

4. In the one non-baby related note, there's only today and tomorrow left in my 12 DAYS OF COOKIES, and today I bring you a recipe I've brought before but one I love as much as ever: Nanaimo Bars. They're incredibly rich, which works better this time of year than during the summer, which is when I originally posted the recipe. If you do make them, cut them small as a large piece is almost too much to handle. And just as a side note, the recipe calls for vanilla custard powder and icing sugar. These are instant vanilla pudding mix and powdered sugar. It took me a minute to figure it out for sure, but I used these and they turned out wonderfully.

5. Final baby related note, I have my Big Ultrasound a week from Wednesday and I have no inkling one way or another as to what sex the baby is. Any guesses? I may have to choose randomly from the right guesses to send out a little prize, if anyone is interested. I'll take guesses until Wednesday at noon (EST).

Introducing...

The belly:


Sorry I disappeared there for a few days, right in the middle of the 12 DAYS OF COOKIES; work picked up and I had a few long days to deal with, which meant nothing but work got done because I still feel low on energy.

The baby is still down near my lower hand, and will make it up to about my belly button soon, but is still making quite the bump. One not-so-bright acquaintance exclaimed "Oh! You're so big!" It took all my strength to not say "bite me" because I know I'll get a lot bigger. But yes, I am much bigger than I though I'd be at this point. I'll be 20 weeks (halfway done) at Christmas which kind of blows my mind.

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Speaking of
12 DAYS OF COOKIES, here are 3 yummy-looking recipes to make up for missing the past 2 days and one for today.

First come the prettiest Peppermint-topped Brownies I've ever seen, and really, is there a better combination than mint and chocolate? Not this time of year, I don't think. (There used to be a picture with that recipe, and I don't know what happened to it, so sorry if it's not there but promise me, they looked pretty.) Although they sound like a bit of work, the work doesn't sound difficult just time consuming, and they'd be perfect if you were trying to impress someone with your mad baking skills.

Next, are Lemon-Frosted Sugar Cookies. I, personally, love cookies that are sweet and a bit tart, so these would fit the bill nicely, I'm sure. And, with a little wheat germ in them, they sound like they may have some nutritional value. Score!

This next one is for all the Seinfeld fans out there: Black-and-White Cake Cookies! I'm sure these will be nicer to you than Jerry's was to him.

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Our 3-year wedding anniversary is next week (I can't believe it; 3 years already!), and Aaron has been mentioning taking me somewhere for the weekend. I also have my work Christmas party tonight, so this is shaping up to be a fun weekend. Too bad I have zero Christmas presents bought yet except for one I made for Aaron. Yes that's right. None.

I'm beginning to freak out a little bit about this fact.

Less Awesomeness Tonight

It is 8:30 p.m. and I am still working and nowhere near done with what I need to do tonight (in the interest of full disclosure, this is my own doing as I took a 2-hour nap this afternoon). So I'm sorry, but all you get tonight is my next 12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS cookie recipe.

Today's cookie is one I've never made, but always wanted to try because it reminds me of one of my favorite things to eat: pecan pie. The cookies are Pecan Tassies, and they look delicious!

I hope you are all having a better evening than I, and that you're all staying safe and warm, especially if you're in the midst of the lovely winter storm that started in Oklahoma and has now made it's way to the upper Midwest. Gotta' love winter, right?

(Also, send good thoughts to Frema; it sounds like she's getting very close to meeting her little Freka!!!)

A Few Pieces of Awesomeness

Piece the first: Do you know what I love? Like, completely, utterly love? If you were wondering, I can give you the answer: I love maternity pants.

I don't know why I waited so long to buy some, but they are about 1000% more comfortable than the system I was using before. The previous system consisted of a Bella band and my unzipped regular pants, except as of recently, apparently my belly got a little bigger than what works with the Bella band so the band kept rolling up and my pants kept almost falling down and I kept having to tug at them. It pretty much sucked. I broke down and bought a few pair of maternity pants last night and I may never take them off again. Seriously. Elastic waistbands are wonderful things.

Piece the second: This isn't so much awesome in itself as the conversations it has spurred. Watching television the other morning at about 5 o'clock (couldn't fall back asleep after the early morning potty run) I was nodding off when something caught my ear. That something was a commercial for the DVD of The Bourne Ultimatum (which I was a big fan of, by the way). During the commercial the announcer says the following: "Your ultimatum: Bring Bourne Home".

Um, that's not an ultimatum so much as as a directive. So we have been making up our own ultimatums all weekend: "Either help me make dinner, or Bring Bourne Home", "Bring Bourne Home, or kinda regret it", "Bring Bourne Home, or don't. Your choice", and on, and on, ad nauseum. It's a lot of fun.

Piece the third: World Peace Cookies. These are today's 12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS recipe. I made these for the first time this past summer while taking care of my mom post-surgery, and no one could get enough of them. Plus we went through nearly a gallon of milk with them, so even though they're incredibly decadent, they also cause you to get in your calcium and vitamin D, which can never be a bad thing, right? Mmmm....coookies....

A Look at What's to Come

Last night Aaron and I did something new: we had the pleasure of babysitting a friend's (nearly) 3 month old son! Aaron was fairly terrified and stuck to his whole, "I don't hold other peoples' babies" rule. Wuss. He did, however, do plenty of cooing at him while he was laying on a blanket on the floor, warmed a bottle for the baby when he was crying and I was trying to comfort him, and was generally amazed at anything he did.

This is the first time we've (together) been around a baby without a ton of other people around. I babysat for a neighbors' two daughters starting when they were each pretty young so I have some baby experience, but that was also over 1o years ago. Cuddling with the baby was fun and he was so sweet most of the time, save for a few minutes of truly pitiful crying, and even that was cute. He slept on my lap in my recliner (that rocks) for about 45 minutes and that was my favorite part. I think it made us both look forward to our baby a little more, even though Aaron did ask at one point (during the longest crying spell), "what did you sucker me into?"

I distinctly remember him being a willing participant in the whole baby making process, so I don't think I suckered him into doing anything.

I think that I've been feeling the baby move since Saturday, but it's so slight and intermittent that I'm not quite sure. The feeling I've been having happens more reliably after I drink orange juice, what I've heard is a trick to get the baby to move, so I'm about 85% sure that this is the baby moving. The books all say I should feel definite movement soon, and I'm looking forward to that reassurance.

My hips have been killing me lately, mostly when I sleep but they've also started hurting during the day lately which is fairly annoying. I went to the chiropractor yesterday, the first time since I found out I was pregnant, and while it seems to have helped with some of the daytime pain, it didn't lessen the stress and worry. It increased it, of course, as do most things that may in any way affect the baby and I cried the whole way to a meeting I had, stopping just in time to dry my tears and have the redness fade away before I had to go in from the parking garage.

I don't think I've posted this here yet, and I don't know why I haven't talked about the baby more since it's pretty much the thing that's happening in my life right now besides some interesting things at work, but our "big" ultrasound, where we get to find out the baby's sex, is scheduled for the day after Christmas. Since we're not really buying each other anything besides a few stocking stuffers, this is quite the Christmas present. Of course I'll be a nervous wreck that day leading up to the appointment, and there's the whole having to drink 32 ounces of water and holding it until the ultrasound is over that I'm already worried about.

Overall I'm so thoroughly excited about the baby that I can hardly stand it. This whole thing is very cool, if not the most comfortable thing I've ever done. We're nearing the half-way point of the pregnancy and I can't believe how fast it has gone so far. While I can't wait for the baby to be here I'm having fun enjoying the ride.

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Today's 12 DAYS OF COOKIES recipe is for the cookies I've made for our office decorating party today (which - I was supposed to make the mint chocolate cookies, but I had a baby to cuddle and those took too much time). I made super-easy "Those Pretzel Things", which are basically rolos on pretzels, melted slightly in a warm oven and topped with a pecan. Yum!

Titles are Hard

I have had a very long day today, but a very good day all at the same time. Some unexpected funds are on their way, some good things are happening out of something else unexpected, and I had a good talk with my boss today in which she demanded my child in return for something else good (she was just kidding, of course). All on top of a 3-hour early morning meeting in a fifty degree room (that was the not good part).

All of this has left me completely whipped and we have plans tonight, so all you're getting is today's 12 DAYS OF COOKIES recipe. This one is a recipe that a former co-worker made for the office every year, but now that she's gone I think I'm going to have to make it for myself. The recipe is for Cornflake Wreath Cookies. They're ooey-gooey-delicious and I am totally craving them tonight. Kind of like fancy rice krispie treats with out the rice krispies, but cornflakes instead, and they're green and have extra candy put right on top. Yum!!!

Hi, My Name Isn't...

So...names for the baby. Aaron and I have spoken a lot about names, and while we have a boy's name all picked out (as well as an alternate), we have no girl's name yet and can't seem to agree on one. We've both had plenty of suggestions, but all have been vetoed by the other.

Audrey requested that, since we aren't telling anyone the names we have chosen, I give some baby name rejects. And who am I to deny such a fun request? No one, that's who.

Rejected boys names include:

Matthew, Michael, John (too common)

Sam, Jim, Steve (too many family members with these names)

Ryan, Clint, Joel, Herb (names of my ex-boyfriends, therefore not even worth asking about according to Aaron)

But there weren't that many names we disagreed on for boys. Boy's names are apparently easy for us.

Girl's names, on the other hand...boy are there a lot of rejects

Tiffany, Ashley, Sara(h) (too many people we went to school with had these names)

Brandi, Casey, Nicole, Deborah (names of Aaron's ex-girlfriends)

Molly, Mary, Joanie (too many family members with these names)

Julia, Isabel, Emily (too "old-timey" according to Aaron)

Peyton, Olivia, Lucy (names we actually agreed on at one point but have since removed from the list)

The list just goes on. There are so many that neither of us can recall all of them.

Oh, and then there are names suggested by friends and family:

Skylar, Cheyanne (Aaron's side of the family)

Bob (my 9-year-old cousin, who really didn't care and just gave a suggestion to be excused)

Madeline, Madison (a coworker suggested these, as well as Grace, but I seeing as there's already another famous Grace with our last name, that one was ruled out too)

So, yes. Those are the name rejects for whatever various reasons. But there's always room for suggestions, especially for girls' names so please, suggest away if you're so inclined!

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Today's 12 DAYS OF COOKIES recipe uses one of my favorite fun cookie tools: a cookie press. I like pretty much every kind of spritz cookie, the kind of cookies you make with a cookie press, but my favorite is Mint Spritz. They're an easy cookie to make, fun to press out onto the baking sheet, and the recipe always makes a ton. Aaron's mom gave me a nice cookie press when they moved to Florida 1 1/2 years ago, and I have yet to use it, so I'm thinking I need to break it out this year.

Monday Meal Planning (yes, again)

BABY IT'S COLD OUT THERE EDITION

So, yeah. It's freezing outside, literally, and this kind of weather makes me want warm, comfort foods including and especially soup. In honor of me freezing my hiney off every time I even look outside, here are some soup recipes to warm me up, and possibly you too.

Dinner tonight (coincidentally, and probably the impetus for this post) is Vegetarian Lentil Soup with Croutons from this month's issue of Everyday Food (my absolute favorite cooking magazine for simple, delicious dinners and no, they're not paying me to say that). I'm looking forward to it even if Aaron seems suspicious (he doesn't like soggy bread a.k.a. croutons in soup).

I used to work at a locally owned steak and seafood restaurant, and this time of year leaves me craving one of their specialties: French Onion Soup. They served it in a pewter crock with a Holland Toast and covered in melted provolone. (Note to self: make Aaron take me to said restaurant for lunch this weekend.) While I unfortunately do not have their secret recipe to share, this one looks absolutely delicious and not too difficult either. I may have to try it out some day soon (again much to Aaron's chagrin due to the whole "bread-in-soup" issue; crybaby, geez).

For those of you who are picky about soggy bread like my husband, this recipe for Italian Sub Stoup is a tried-and-true favorite in our house. We just leave off the Garlic Toast Floaters and have some Garlic Texas Toast on the side. Aaron loves this one, but it has a lot of meat in it so the fact that he loves is surprises me, oh, not at all. Although I will admit I love it too. It's hard not to love something so tasty. One tip though: if you're going to have leftovers of this soup (which is distinctly possible, as it makes quite a bit) cook the noodles separately and add them to each bowl as you eat it, otherwise they soak up all the liquid and the leftovers aren't nearly as appealing.

My mom got me a hand blender (sounds dangerous, no?) for my birthday last week, so I'm looking for a few good recipes to use that require me to puree the soup. A coworker strongly recommends this Acorn Squash Bisque which I may have to try, however I'm a little wary since making an absolutely horrid butternut squash soup last year. We'll see.

I'm a sucker for tomato soups, and this Roasted Garlic-and-Basil Tomato Soup sounds quite yummy. I already know I'm a fan of this Creamy Tomato-Balsamic Soup. Now if only I could find the TGI Friday's tomato basil soup recipe, I'd be in heaven. That and my favorite local Mediterranean restaurant's rice-and-lentil soup. Man, am I ready for dinner!

And of course, you should serve some cookies for dessert.

Today's 12 DAYS OF COOKIES recipe is for Chocolate-Mint Wafers. I think this one is going on my "to-bake" list this year. In fact, I might make them for an office-decorating party this Friday.

Happy Eating!

"Meal" Planning Monday

Only if Your "Meal" Consists of Christmas Cookies Edition

As promised last week, here are some Holiday recipes for all of you. I've broken my list up into sections, and I hope you all enjoy the recipes I'm sharing.

Tried and True Favorites

First a family favorite, that was my Grandma Memar's recipe: Russian Tea Cakes. My mom told me today that she made these ever year at Christmas time, and my mom does the same. Since my mom will make these and we're spending Christmas with them, I'm skipping making these this year, but that doesn't mean you should. They're really good.
Russian Tea Cakes
1 c. butter
1/2 c. confectioners sugar (plus more for rolling the cookies)
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp. salt
2 1/4 c. sifted flour
3/4 c. finely chopped nuts (usually walnuts or pecans)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Cream together butter and sugar. Mix in vanilla. Stir in salt, flour and
nuts. Form dough into 1 inch balls.
Bake for 14 to 17 minutes.
Roll in confectioners sugar when hot and again when cooled.

Next, here are a couple of Aaron's favorites: Magical Mint Kiss Cookies and Birds' Nest Cookies. While the Magical Mint Kiss cookies are among his favorites, it's not Christmas for him without the Birds' Nests, and I'll agree; they're delicious!
Birds' Nest Cookies
Adapted from Better Homes and Gardens Favorite Bars and
Cookies


1 c. butter
1/2 c. brown sugar, packed
2 egg yolks
2 c. all-purpose flour
2 slightly beaten egg whites
2 c. finely chopped walnuts or pecans
1/2 c. seedless fruit preserves (we typically use raspberry
preserves)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a large bowl beat butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add brown sugar and beat until combined, scraping the side of the bowl occasionally. Beat in egg yolks until combined. Beat in as much of the flour as you can with the mixer, and then stir in any remaining flour using a wooden spoon.

Shape dough into 1 1/4 inch balls. Dip each ball into the egg whites and then roll in the chopped nuts to coat. Place the balls one inch apart on the prepared cookie sheet. Press your thumb into the center of each ball to leave an indent. The deeper the indent, the more space you'll have to fill with jam when they're done, but don't press too deep either as if you make it too thin the middle may burn.

Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until edges are light brown. Transfer to a
wire rack to cool. When cool, fill with preserves. Store in single layers
separated by wax paper.

Some of my other favorites that I make every year are Rugelach and (while not exactly a cookie I'm adding it here) fudge (aka Rachael Ray's 5-minute Fudge Wreath). Neither of these will disappoint and can be endlessly tampered with to make countless varieties, including using all peanut butter chips for peanut butter fudge, and using different flavors of jam in the rugelach.

New Recipes I'm Dying to Try
(Not literally of course, but they sound delicious.)

Every year I buy the Better Homes and Gardens Christmas Cookies magazine (much to Aaron's chagrin since I have about 8 years worth of these magazines already and he thinks that this is more than adequate; he obviously doesn't love to bake like I do). The cookies (and other sweets) I'm dying to try all come from this magazine, and include Chocolate Pretzels, Strawberry Shortbread (the only one of these that I'm most definitely adding to my baking list), and Crunch Caramel Bites.

(I'm posting these recipes here so as not to make this post so incredibly long that you get bored halfway through.)

Other Seasonal Favorites

Another Christmas-time standard around here is the Buche de Noel. This is another of Aaron's favorites and is absolutely delicious. One note on this one though is that while making my Thanksgiving Pumpkin Roll I discovered a new trick to make my usually ugly-but-delicious buche de noel a little prettier. Instead of just lining the jelly roll pan with parchment paper, butter the pan first, then put down the parchment paper then butter and flour the paper. It worked like a dream for the pumpkin roll so I don't know why it wouldn't work in this case too.

If you're like me and prefer to do most of your holiday baking in one day, you'll need some heavy-duty baking fuel to get you going, and this Breakfast Casserole is my absolute favorite (I substitute the cubed potato type hash browns for the potato rounds, but otherwise follow the recipe exactly). It's the perfect recipe to put together the night before and then throw in the oven right when you wake up.

And just in case you're not exhausted after all this baking, I've come across a holiday craft I'd like to try out: a gumdrop wreath. Doesn't that look easy and cute? I came across this when I was cruising Alicia Paulson's beautiful and inspiring blog and flickr photos. She makes me want to do so much more crafting and baking than I do already, and she's super talented! (Can you tell this is my new blog crush?)

Finally, I wanted to let you all know of a temporary feature I'll be doing for the next couple of weeks - my very own "Twelve Days of Cookies". I'll be posting a new cookie recipe here for the next eleven days (making 12 days total). I hope everyone loves them!

So Long 27

Sorry I've been neglecting my blog this week. I've been busy with work and life stuff, which always seems to get in the way. I haven't even really had a chance to read blogs let alone write on my own. But that is going to change soon (probably starting next week since tomorrow is my birthday and then we're taking off for the weekend on Friday), and here's what you can look forward to:

  • A request from Anne Nahm for some holiday cookie ideas (and boy do I have a lot of ideas)
  • Finally answering the questions from this post, namely baby name rejects and 8th grade fashion.
  • And, most excitingly (at least in my opinion) belly pictures, as I have expanded quite a bit in the past couple of weeks even though I've only gained a couple of pounds in said weeks.
So, I promise there's more interesting content coming. This week is just a much-needed break, and I'm enjoying the hell out of it.

I'm out

And on my 100th post on this new site too!

I forgot to post yesterday (I also forgot to take my vitamins; I'm so fired), so I'm officially a NaBloPoMo loser. Oops! But here's my excuse - my day yesterday:

Wake up early
Bake cake
Glimpse Thanksgiving Day parade as I run to the shower
Shower, primp, get dressed
Assemble cake
Glimpse Thanksgiving Day parade as I run out the door
Drive to Aaron's grandma's house
Visit and watch football
Drive to Aaron's aunt's house
Visit and listen to everyone fawn over the baby (only one stomach grope!)
Listen to everyone discuss everything baby
Escape to rec room to watch football
Can still hear everyone discussing everything baby
Eat, eat, and eat some more
Discuss even more things baby (I'm the pregnant one and even I don't talk about babies that much!)
Give Aaron the "let's start heading home" meaningful look
Stand up and start packing up food and baby gifts (including a pair of very cute booties. LOVE!)
Say to Aaron "Let's start heading home" since he didn't interpret meaningful look
Slowly walk up the stairs hoping he'll get the hint and follow
He got the hint!
Hug, hug, and hug some more
Finally escape to the car; is an hour later than when I started giving meaningful looks
Drive home
Fall into bed
Sleep

I'm thankful for laughter

Here's a Wednesday funny for everyone from our trip last week that I had forgotten about until now.

About halfway home I needed to stop for a bathroom break. My bathroom stop of choice is McDonald's because they usually have fairly clean toilets and they don't give you a hard time about not buying anything to use their restrooms. Anyway, I walked into their women's room, and right as I was walking by the automatic air freshener, it sprayed. All over me. I walked right through the mist, and I couldn't help it.

I stunk to high heavens like "Strawberry Fields" (which reminded me of how my Strawberry Shortcake doll smelled when I was little), and now I was going to be stuck in a car for 6 more hours.

I got into the car and immediately said, "I'm really sorry about this, but I stink," just as Aaron said, "What the hell is that?!?" He was less than pleased, and I was just about as annoyed, but I couldn't stop laughing. What kind of timing is that to randomly stop at a McDonald's in Iowa and walk right into the spray of an air freshener.

I'm just that kind of lucky.

High- and Low-Lights

High: As, my Twitter for today says - I ate an entire order of Crazy Bread for lunch. I didn't really want to, but it was all so delicious I couldn't stop myself.

Low: My nausea reared its ugly head again today, out of nowhere. Hence the carbohydrate craving.

High: I found out that I'm getting a bonus at the beginning of December. Woohoo, Christmas money!

Low: My next OB appointment wasn't today (it's tomorrow), and I'm stressing out about the baby (because that's what I do) for no actual reason and I'm getting impatient to hear the heartbeat. Also thinking about renting a doppler.

High: I made it through a meeting I was dreading with flying colors.

Low: I had most of the day to deal with before the meeting which means more stressing!

High: I took a short catnap when I got home in my recliner, which I love.

Low: I didn't have dinner ready on time.

High: Aaron helped me with dinner and then cuddled with me for 20 minutes after we ate.

Monday Meal Planning

Thanksgiving Edition

For today's Monday Meal Planning post I decided to post some of my favorite Thanksgiving foods (especially since I still have a week of food in the refrigerator since we were gone most of last week).

Here goes:

Turkey 101
(This is the turkey we made last year and it turned out wonderfully (although we didn't use the vegetables listed on this link).)

Cornbread Stuffing with Sausage
(I beg my mom for this every year.)

Garlic Mashed Potatoes
(Better than just plain but not overpowering.)

Homemade Whole Cranberry Sauce
(Yum!)

Green Bean Casserole
(It can't be Thanksgiving without this!)

Pecan Pumpkin Pie
(Two of my favorite things put together in one glorious package!)

Cheesy Corn Casserole
(A recipe from Aaron's family that is now a Thanksgiving must.)

1 can cream-style corn
1 can regular corn, drained
1/2 to 3/4 c. milk
1 c. bread crumbs
1/2 small onion, chopped
3 Tbsp. chopped green pepper
Cubed Velveeta (I usually use about 4 oz., but use as much or as little as you'd like)
salt and pepper
2 Tbsp. butter
Mix everything together but the butter. Pour into a greased casserole dish and dot with butter. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 to 1.5 hours.

Hope you all have a very happy holiday!

Baby Stuff!

I thought I'd talk about each of the topics from this post separately, with the "surprise" baby shower first.

So, even though this was a sad week, my family was excited to see me because this is the first baby among all of my 17 cousins (10 of whom are above 20). One of my mom's (four) sisters told me it was the perfect anecdote to the sadness - celebrating a new life while mourning one that passed. This of course made everything a little more emotional, but there were surprisingly few tears the rest of the week after the funeral.

On Thursday morning my suspicions that something was up were stirred by my uncle talking about, "you know, the get-together tomorrow afternoon", with my mom. Apparently other people talked about "the shower" in front of me, but I missed all of that. However, my suspicions were confirmed when, on Friday morning, people kept disappearing on "errands" and going to the other room to talk. All of the aunts (both sisters and sisters-in-law of my mom) plus a couple of cousins and my sister and I went out to lunch for, as my aunt called it, "girl time".

After we ordered my mom's younger sister announced that there were ulterior motives for the lunch, that we were all there to celebrate the baby since it was unlikely we'd all be in the same place together again for quite some time (it usually happens once per year, max). And then they pulled out all the gifts, and there were A LOT of gifts. There were sleepers, blankets, onesies, hats, a towel with a duck hood and matching duckie slippers, and my favorite: books! They gave me six books in all - 4 board books and 2 hard cover ones.

Last, but definitely not least, they gave me a toddler-sized hand-me-down sweater knit by my grandma. That started some tears, but they were happy ones. One of my aunts said she'd mail me a few more that grandma had also knit. This was definitely a spectacular gift to top off a wonderful gathering.

I'm writing thank you notes tonight, but I can't seem to express how very thankful I am. The baby shower seemed to be what everybody needed, and I can't think of other people from who I'd rather get my first baby gear.

Sapped

So, I totally lied when I said I'd post something interesting today. We were going to drive half-way home today and then stay overnight somewhere and make the rest of the trip tomorrow. Then we decided we really wanted to just be home, so we drove 12 1/2 hours straight through. We're both exhausted and crabby and I just want to go to bed, so that's what I'm going to do.

Despite all this I'm glad we drove all the way home so we can have a day to relax tomorrow before a new week starts. OK, that's it. I'm out.

Things I may expound upon tomorrow

(I know I'm taking the easy way out this week, but it's been a little crazy around here and I'm exhausted yet again. Look for some good posts this coming week. I promise.)

1. The baby shower my family threw for me today. It's our first baby stuff, and they got me 6 of my favorite things!

2. My haircut, which sometimes looks great and other times? Not so much.

3. How my aunt made half a restaurant spit out their food. In a good way.

4. How funny my grandfather is, even during this tough week. He also has me rooting against my husband's team.

Some Observations

From our trip yesterday:

A church named "Family Harvest Church" is kind of creepy.

Aaron would like to say, "F Indiana", but he really is just crabby because of a 4-lane highway that had a speed limit of 55 mph. He thinks this is ridiculous, and I heard about it the whole way down here.

The trip from our apartment to Kansas City takes 10 hours, like the computer print-out directions say, if you drive directly here at 70 mph, no stopping. That doesn't work though, when the speed limit is 65 at most outside of Michigan, and also when you get stuck behind two giant trucks carrying giant steal girders that take up both lanes and are going 45 miles per hour. And they're in front of you for an hour. Then it takes 12 hours.

Lack of Creativity

Brought to you today by a 12-hour cross-country drive followed by a few hours in a room full of crazy (in a fun way) relatives.

But my mom did tell the whole family that the only person there allowed to touch my newly-showing baby belly is her. Thank goodness! I was preparing myself for lots of touching.

We're in Kansas City for my grandma's funeral, which is tomorrow. My cousin said how we're all feeling best: We're all incredibly sad for the reason we were all brought together, but so excited to have these days together because we always have a ton of fun. Tomorrow will be hard, but I'm glad I came.

Memar

When I was a toddler and just learning to speak I couldn't say, "Grandma" so I called my grandma, "Memar", and it stuck. Even as recent as last week I called her Grandma Memar (what her name morphed to as I got older).

We used to go visit my grandparents every spring break, once or twice a summer, and often for Thanksgiving or other long weekends. They used to live a lot closer then, and it was hard when they moved so much further away, because I got to see them so infrequently. The last time I made it down to Kansas City, in fact, was more than two years ago. When you're working and only have so many vacation days (and your husband has even less) it's hard to work in visits.

She said "Goodness, gracious!" and that's about as close to a swear-word she ever got even though most of her 8 kids have mouths like sailors. She wore the same bracelet every day that I knew her, a bracelet that my grandfather gave her when they were dating. When we were little there was a present drawer in her living room that she filled with toys and treats whenever we'd visit, and she always remembered what we all liked best. Despite being so prim and proper, she liked her bourbon (mixed with diet 7-up) and the highlight of her week was the happy hour party she and all her neighbors threw weekly at their clubhouse.

She's had health problems for a long time and has had breathing issues as long as I can remember. She had chronic pneumonia and went to the hospital on a fairly regular basis. That's why no one expected this visit to the hospital to be her last.

Grandma passed away yesterday morning. She was comfortable, pain-free, and went quietly in a hospice facility that treated her incredibly well and took care of her every need for the past week.

Rest in peace Memar. I know you're up in heaven where you belong. I'll miss you.

Monday Meal Planning

The Return! Edition

As I said yesterday, my appetite is returning while my aversions are not so severe (for some things, for others, not so much), so I'm planning meals for the week again. I got all in to it today and got everything set, then soon after remembered that Aaron is going to be out of town for three days this week. Oh, well. I'll have some meals stockpiled for the future in case I can't come up with anything later.

(P.S. Also, if you would be so kind, please go to yesterday's post and leave me a question. I need to find some way to fill the next 19 days!)

Here goes:

Monday: Bean and Mexican Rice Burritos

These are burritos made with canned refried beans (I usually get the vegetarian ones), my homemade Mexican rice and all of our favorite toppings, including lettuce, tomatoes, onions, sour cream, shredded cheddar, and taco sauce. Mmmmm.....

Tuesday: Braised Pork Chops with Sweet Potatoes, Roasted Broccoli, and Stuffing

Aaron loves pork chops, but I'm not a big fan. Still, I like to make them for him every once in a while. I love everything else in this dinner, so if I can't choke down the pork chops that night then I still have plenty to eat.

To roast the broccoli, chop it up like you normally would, put in an oven-safe pan, toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Put it in a 400 degree oven for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally

Wednesday: Cheddar and Beer Soup with Salad and Rolls

There used to be a restaurant right by my office that made the best cheddar ale soup I've ever eaten. I still crave this soup on a regular basis (as well as the deep fried pickle spears they served) but the restaurant has been closed for nearly 6 years now. This recipe has a lot of the same ingredients, but I chop the carrots a little bigger than the recipe calls for and I add boiled potato chunks. Sometimes I also add some diced ham, but I'm leaving it out this week.

Thursday: Chicken & Broccoli Casserole, Rolls, and Salad

Can you tell we bought a bunch of rolls on sale not too long ago?

Friday: Veggie Spaghetti, Garlic Bread, and Salad

We doctor jarred spaghetti sauce (I strongly recommend Paul Newman's Tomato Basil Sauce) with some extra garlic sauteed with chopped zucchini and mushrooms. Simple, but still one of my favorite meals. And the more mushrooms, the better for me. I can't get enough!

Saturday: Pigs in a Blanket, Steamed Green Beans, and Doctored French Fries

For pigs in a blanket, I sautee some onions in butter. Then I slice the hot dogs down their length and sautee them for a couple of minutes, just to heat through. I put some onions in the slice, top with some sliced cheese, and wrap it all with a crescent roll. Then I brush the whole thing with a little melted butter with minced garlic, then bake for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the crescent rolls are done.

For the french fries, we just toss them with olive oil and Montreal steak seasoning and then bake according to package directions.

So there you are! A whole week's worth of meals (minus one day to eat out) in the bag. I can't wait to eat them all.

11 days in and running out of ideas already

So here's what I want, if you would all be so kind as to oblige: ask me anything. (I know, unoriginal. I'm just not feeling the creativity these days.)

I will answer almost anything, save for anything I deem too personal (you know, like my address or anything marital-relations-related, for example). So ask away. Is there anything you want to know about me? About Aaron? About the baby?

Oh, yeah. We're not telling the baby's name either, so that question is out too. Sorry.

Also, tomorrow brings the return of Monday Meal Planning. I'm finally feeling well enough to eat normal things and not just carbs, topped with carbs, and maybe a little tomato sauce on top. Now if only I could stop craving only those things, and I'd be all set!

And then I almost forgot to post

I had a full day today, which culminated in going out to dinner with some friends we haven't seen in a month. After dinner, we went back to their place to watch a movie (that I picked out). Once there we started the movie and I promptly fell asleep.

Am I a barrel of fun or what?

I'll give you a hint

Rachael Ray is making food to please picky kids on her show today, and it all looks more delicious than anything I've seen in a while. Can you tell food is on my mind a lot lately? It seems to be all I can blog about. I'm so excited that Thanksgiving is right around the corner. I'm craving the stuffing, pies, and even the turkey which is weird because I'm not really a big fan of turkey.

Speaking of food, here's something that's probably only funny to Aaron and I, but I'll share it anyway. (It's possible I've already blogged about this, but if I have, pretend that I haven't. My brain is not working too well this week for some reason.)

So, after our last doctor's appointment for the baby, we went to eat at Chili's because I was craving ribs (I ended up getting southwest chicken eggrolls, and Aaron almost ended up killing me - he hates when I go somewhere for one thing and get something completely different). Anyway, we were perusing the menu when we noticed that their queso dip included in it's ingredient list "a hint of seasoned ground beef". We found this, mostly the "hint" part, hilarious, and laughed about it for most of the meal.

Then last week we went to Red Robin and were again perusing the menu when we noticed that their spinach artichoke dip included, "a hint of bacon". Hilarity ensued all over again.

I'm saying that if there's supposed to be meat in something there should be meat in it. None of this "hint" crap.

Now I want queso dip and spinach artichoke dip. Maybe I can con Aaron to take me out to dinner. I'm not betting on it though.

You know what's fun?

Watching grown men argue semantics for three hours. Oh wait! That's the opposite of fun.

This may have zapped my creativity today, but I'm soldiering on anyway.

I have been craving an either any Italian sub or a Turkey, Ranch, and Swiss from Quiznos for about a month now, but haven't been able to satisfy my craving due to the whole possibility-of-listeria-in-deli-meats thing plus the nitrates in things such as salami (mmmm....salami....). This has sucked. Then today everyone from my office was headed to Quiznos for lunch and I made a decision. I was going and I was getting exactly what I wanted. Kind of.

I got a turkey ranch and swiss, hold the turkey. And it was gloriously delicious. I want it again for dinner, which I'm still waiting for, but which is apparently less important than watching Jim Cramer tonight.

My life is all kinds of exciting today, right?

Key Evidence that the Universe is Trying to Bring Me Down

  • I have officially outgrown all but one pair of pants (my jeans which I can only wear to work one day per week). Luckily, I have a knock-off Bella Band to hold up my other pants. Unluckily, I only have a few shirts that are long enough for use with said knock-off Bella Band. Also, I just spent all of my money on a chair.
  • Speaking of the chair, it arrived last night and is awesome. Except for the part where Aaron pulled a muscle in his back carrying it up the stairs. He is now crabby and in pain, and as much as I try, I don't have the patience to deal with it.
  • Work is still hella busy with no end in sight.
  • Speaking of outgrowing clothes, I've also outgrown all but 2 bras. How I know I've outgrown the other ones? Last night I bent over to grab a tissue out of the box on the coffee table, and an underwire in the bra I was wearing snapped in half. I actually think that's pretty funny. Aaron didn't see the hilarity in the situation. He just keeps seeing dollar signs every time something breaks/becomes too small. I feel sad for him.
  • On a not funny at all note, my grandmother is going into hospice. They haven't given us an estimate on how much time she has left, not that they can acurately estimate that, but it doesn't look like it's going to be very long. I'm very sad about this, even though I know she's not well and making her comfortable is probably the best thing for her right now. None of us are ready though. At all.

Seriously, No Idea

So apparently a while ago I started a Christmas list during a slow day at work (ha!) or something. There's all sorts of stuff on it ranging from a pizza stone to new sheets to a video camera. One thing, however, has me stumped:

Full-sized F.P.

I obviously knew what I was talking about when I wrote the list, but as for now? No idea. I also apparently wanted it enough to put it on the list. What do you think it is?

At least I have some mint chocolate chip ice cream to make up for it

You know what sucks?

When you spend all day dreaming about tomato soup - how much you want it for dinner, how good it will taste paired up with a grilled cheese sandwich, how perfect it will be on this cold, drizzly day.

Then you take a bite and realize that tomato soup is apparently your newest aversion.

Phoning it in

I haven't taken any cold medicine for about 1 1/2 years, but I broke down today and used some (obstetrician approved) Chloroseptic sore throat spray this afternoon. This is making this afternoon interesting as I'm experiencing quite a medicine high.

I don't think I'll be taking any more of that. Also, I'm going to go take another nap.

TGI Saturday (and yesterday is over)

Yesterday got worse before it got better. Much worse. I started coughing really hard, which caused me to gag, which caused me to throw up for about five minutes straight. I hate throwing up, especially when I'm alone, which I was. I also broke a bunch of blood vessels around my eyes (a normal throwing-up-result for me) so it looks slightly like I got punched in both eyes.

So I had to cancel my meeting. I called my boss to ask her to reschedule and ended up crying on the phone to her which was beyond embarrassing. It really worried her, so I felt bad about that too. I assured her that I was fine, just upset about being so sick.

This was all after I talked to my dad and found out that my grandma won't be going home. She finally agreed that she needs to go into a nursing home because she can't even walk. This started the crying that started the coughing and so on.

But then my sister called and volunteered to come take care of me. I took a nap and that helped me feel better. Aaron came home with the ingredients for one of my favorite meals, and then he and my sister went out and got me ice cream. I managed to stay up to about ten, and then slept like a rock all night.

I'm feeling much better today, which I'm happy about. We went out and finally bought the chair that's my birthday/anniversary/Christmas present. (This is the one we ended up buying, and I love it. We pick it up on Wednesday night.) Then my sister treated me to lunch and my team is winning their football game at the moment (against Aaron's team). My parents are on their way back home tonight and might stop in, which would be awesome because I really miss them. They've been out west for a few weeks helping my brother move and then celebrating their 25th anniversary.

All in all, today has been about 1000% better than yesterday. I couldn't be happier about that fact.

Things I would kill for currently

1. A copy of me, that isn't sick, so that I might possibly get all of my work done today. Fat chance of that though. This should definitely make my meeting this afternoon lots of fun. I'm working from home until then and hoping that helps.

2. The world's best garlic bread.

3. My mom to be here taking care of me. Instead she's taking care of my grandmother, wife of my recently ill grandfather, who she had to take to the hospital yesterday as soon as she rolled into town, so I guess she's doing something better than my selfish desires. (Grandma had some hip pain, and has a bad case of osteoporosis so they think maybe it's broken. She also recently had to have her spine cemented because she broke her back.)

4. Since my mom can't be here, I'd prefer Aaron to be here and for him to be in a great mood. Fat chance of that too. He and I both fell asleep at around 7:30 last night so I feel like I didn't get my usual Aaron time last night and I miss him already.

5. A smoothie from the coffee shop down the road.

6. A magic 8-ball that would tell me the magic food that actually sounds good at any particular moment, and a personal chef to go get and prepare that food.

Sorry I'm whiny today. I feel like complete ass and am incredibly unhappy about that. Thank goodness it's almost the weekend. Unfortunately I also have to probably work over the weekend. Should be very fun!

NaBloPoMo

I don't know if I've posted this before (there's too much going on my head to remember things like this), but I'm participating in NaBloPoMo, starting of course today.


I'm also trying to post the badge into my sidebar, but am apparently technologically stunted today because I can't figure it out for the life of me. New Blogger is hard to manipulate!

Anyway, I can't believe it's November already. Time seems to be flying by, and I'm simultaneously thrilled and frightened by this fact. I'm not ready for it to be winter but I want time to move by more quickly because I'm having so much fun. Well, that and I have a bunch of stuff to finish at work by the end of this month and that just doesn't seem like enough time to finish it all.

But, it's also my birthday month, so I can't complain too much - I totally get spoiled this month!

Updates from Yesterday

So yesterday was a much better day. I talked to my grandfather and he sounded great. He said that he was feeling better and the doctor thought he'd be all right. I told he and my grandmother about the baby and my grandmother said she was excited about 25 times. This is their first great grandchild, which is pretty amazing because I have a lot of older cousins. I also told two aunts yesterday (I have 4 aunts on that side) and they were also thrilled. I love telling people about the baby; it's so much fun!

My boss took the news surprisingly well. Her response was, "I knew it!" They've been trying to out me for a week or so now but I held out till yesterday and then she told everyone in the office. It was a good reaction.

Today is the annual chili cook-off at work. I tweaked my recipe this year to make it spicier, and it's definitely spicy. I wanted Aaron to doctor it up like usual because he does a good job of adding extra flavor, but he ran out of time this morning so I had to attend to it. I had a dream last night that I took first place, but now I'm doubting myself because my usual chili chef wasn't too much help. We'll see. First place prize is an embroidered apron and second place is a spice gift basket. Even though the second place prize is worth more money-wise, the bragging rights that come with the apron definitely trump it. Wish me luck!

A Few Updates

It's been a crazy week already, and it's only Tuesday. Last night was rough, and tonight will be too since I'm making Aaron part with a good-sized chunk of cash (for my new recliner that is to be my birthday/anniversary/Christmas present).

Here are the other things making me antsy and yet unmotivated today:
  • The main thing that made last night rough is that I found out my grandfather is pretty sick. He was in the hospital because of a heart attack caused by kidney problems. My parents are on the road somewhere out west (they might be headed for Colorado today) and largely unreachable, so my sister and I were panicking a little bit because we didn't know if she knew. We did finally get in touch with her and of course, she knew about the heart attack - it happened last Tuesday and she's known since then. Looks like we're going to have to have another talk with her about telling us about things when they happen instead of weeks afterwards.
  • I have an annual review today. It's not my "official" review because that has been moved to March since that was when I got my last promotion, but since it's been more than a year, we decided to have a chat about how things are going. I think the talking about my performance part will be fine; it always is. My boss has narrowed our staff down to people she really enjoys working with so there aren't surprises to often. There is one thing that makes me nervous though, and that is....
  • I'm telling my boss about the baby today. I was already nervous, but then it was announced yesterday that someone else is pregnant. There's only 9 of us and we're all women of child-bearing age.
  • In order to lessen the blow to my boss, I baked last night. She loves when I bring in homemade goodies. I decided to make these muffins that Linda is raving about, and she's right, they're amazing. Go bake them.
  • In regards to other baby stuff, we got a large bill last night regarding my labs, and that bill was completely unexpected. Luckily my annual bonus is coming in soon, so that should cover both the above-mentioned chair, the lab bill, and hopefully then some. Still, large bills stress Aaron out. A ton. Like I said, last night was rough.

Even cuter

Aaron called me yesterday and told me he wanted to take me out to dinner. I'm always up for going out instead of cooking (ha! like I've actually done the cooking lately), so I was pretty excited. He wanted to go by campus to eat, but didn't care what restaurant, so I chose one I've been wanting to try for a while now (Noodles & Co.) and we headed out.

As soon as we set foot out of the parking garage I noticed hundreds of kids dressed in costumes. It was trick-or-treating night at the local businesses and all sorts of little kids (most were probably under five) were dressed up in the cutest costumes I've ever seen.

I figured this would drive Aaron nuts because he hates crowds and waiting.

"We can head somewhere else if you'd like," I said, "It looks like it's pretty crazy around here."

Then he told me something I wasn't expecting; that the kids were the reason he wanted to that area, he wanted to see all of their costumes.

Then I melted into a big puddle of goo because that was the cutest thing I've ever heard come out of his mouth.

He may be sweet, but he's also a realist (about his wallet)

Two things real quick-like today.

1. In case you missed it, I did end up getting an ultrasound yesterday and posted the pictures here. Now that I've had more time to think about it, I'm even more excited and overwhelmed than I was yesterday. It confirmed that there really is a baby in there. Not that I doubted it at all, but seeing the baby definitely made it more real to us.

2. Aaron is sweet. And hilarious.

Scene: Living room this morning.
A: How do you hold a baby?
J: Like this *makes a cradling motion with arms*
A: So when it's born I can be like *makes a cradling motion with arms*, "You're going to cost me a lot of money, but I still love you!"

A Big Day (Now with an Update!)

Today is my second prenatal appointment - the one where we get to try to hear the heartbeat. I'm beyond nervous and antsy. I didn't call in tired yesterday so that I could call in tired today because I didn't think that calling in nervous and antsy would be acceptable, especially since I haven't told my boss about being pregnant yet.

I'm also kind of hoping we'll get a ultrasound today because I really don't think I can wait until 20 weeks to see the baby - is there anyone else who only got to see the baby once while pregnant?

I'll update tonight to let everyone know how it went. I'm praying, keeping my fingers crossed, and all that jazz. It's going to be a looonnnggg morning.

UPDATE:

Everything is going great with the baby. They couldn't find the heartbeat with the doppler, so I ended up with an ultrasound. (Darn, huh?)

Introducing our newest family member, currently known as Sweet Pea:

Questions

1. Is it rude to cancel Thanksgiving plans if your husband committed without asking you first?

2. Is it a bad sign that while giving a presentation based on a person's life work said person nods off?

3. How bad is it to call in tired to work?

4. Do you have a recliner? Do you love it? If yes to both, where did you get it? I want to get one.

5. Should I be worried that Aaron is keeping up with me, pound for pound, with pregnancy weight gain?

6. What should I get everyone for Christmas? This is stressing me out early this year for some reason.

7. Also stressing me out: is it possible to stop aging? I'm pretty happy at 27 and my birthday is quickly approaching.

8. Speaking of birthdays, my friend's birthday is coming up next week so I thought I'd make a cake. If it was your birthday, would you rather have this cake or this one? Or, do you know of a delicious chocolate cake recipe that's not too hard but that looks impressive?

9. Has anyone gone to see The Nightmare Before Christmas in 3-D yet? I really want to see it but would prefer to know if it's worth seeing in the theatre this way or if I should just rent the DVD.

10. Have you seen the "Veramist" commercial? Does it concern anyone else that the small print says "The ways in which Veramist works are not completely understood?" It definitely bothers me.

The warnings kept interrupting my shows during the good parts!

I have to leave in 15 minutes for an IRB conference. My life is exciting, no?

Well, last night was kind of exciting in a not-fun way. The tornado sirens went off 5 times last night between 8 p.m. and midnight. It made my already-queasy stomach even worse because it was so stressful. We live on the second floor of our building, so we kept heading for the downstairs hallway. It's nights like last night that I actually miss our last apartment because it had a basement, and I would have just gone to sleep down thee. It was really storming and the wind was incredibly loud. At least one tornado touched down a little east of here and the storms produced 3 other tornadoes around the state.

In summary, last night was not fun, I'm exhausted because of it, and I have to go sit through a not-too exciting conference for 8 hours. Wish me luck at staying awake!

See if you can guess what's on my mind today

Hint: it isn't work because I don't want to do that today.
  • Make the baked ziti from Monday's post. You'll thank me, I promise. We made it and loved it.
  • If you want a delicious, fall-like dessert make these chocolate pumpkin cheesecake bars. I made them for my office Christmas party last year and they were a hit. I came across the recipe the other day and I've been craving them ever since. You know what makes them better? They really are pretty easy to make.
  • A new Mexican restaurant opened up across the street from my office last week. A bunch of my co-workers and I are headed over there for lunch today and I can't wait.
  • I bought my first maternity-like clothing yesterday. I bought a tummy tube (kind of like a Bella Band) so that I can wear two pair of pants that can still button up but not comfortably. With those two pair I have four pair of pants I can wear. I'm hoping this means I can wear those four pair for a while longer, because Aaron freaked out about just spending that little money so he's not going to be happy when I have to start wearing maternity clothes.
  • I'm currently reading East of Eden and loving it! I have to have it done by November 5th for my office book club. I'm always wary of "classics" because so many of them are too boring for me to be able to get through (example: Jane Eyre), but this one is excellent.
  • Current pregnancy cravings include tomatoes, bagels, and popsicles. Current aversions include (still) eggs, coffee, and (newly) meat of pretty much any kind.

Monday Meal Planning

The Return!

I think Aaron decided he has had it up to here (*puts hand at forehead level*) with catering to my every whim eating-wise, especially since my every whim is usually something like "I'm sooooo hungry but nothing sounds good!", or "I think I want stuffing and a cherry popsicle". He's also trying to ensure that I'm eating healthy and getting enough protein. To that end, he made a meal plan this week, which he really just took from our latest Everyday Food magazine, but hey it works, right?

Monday: Baked Ziti with Crunchy Italian Salad and Garlic Bread

Since all of the stores around here only carry arugula in 1 ounce packages and charge about $2 for said packages, our salad will be a little different, but other than that this meal sounds amazing. Right now, at least. I'm sure my tune will change right about when it's time to sit down and eat.

Tuesday: Stuffed Chicken Breast and Roasted Broccoli

We're cheating here too and using boxed stuffing with dried cranberries added in instead of making our own stuffing. I'm just too tired to do that much work lately! (About which Aaron is obviously thrilled.)

Wednesday: Country-Fried Steak with Green Beans and Rice

I'll admit, I'm feeling a little dubious about this one, but I'll probably at least try one bite. Maybe. I always have those popsicles to fall back on.

Thursday: Pork Tenderloin with Sauteed Apples and Leeks

We're doing the substitution thing here again: instead of pork tenderloin we're using some pork loin chops, and we have a bunch of onions, so we're using onions in place of the leeks. I'm also not so sure about this one. I didn't like pork (unless it was of the ham/bacon/sausage/hotdog variety) before I was pregnant, and since I'm having a hard time getting meat down now that I am pregnant this will be an interesting experiment.

Friday: Vegetarian Black Bean Chili

They didn't post a recipe for this one, but this recipe sounds pretty darn good too! He may regret this one too, as I'm already suffering from gas and heartburn (isn't pregnancy glamorous?). Luckily it's a Friday night and I don't have to be anywhere on Saturday in case the heartburn keeps me up all night.

Saturday: Date night. I'm making him take me out because I'm feeling lousy and am tired of sitting around the house feeling lousy. Why not do it somewhere that might distract me for a little while.

Sunday: Moroccan Chicken Stew with Sweet Potatoes

This one looks delcious in the magazine, except for the fact that they say to serve it with couscous and Aaron hates couscous. Maybe we'll serve it over egg noodles.

So there's the meal plan for this week. I'm trying to have high hopes that I'll eat an actual meal every night instead of the snacking I've been doing instead lately.

Close Encounter of the Baby Kind

I went to see my friend with the new baby earlier this week, and it was delightful. He's so cute and sweet and it took all my willpower not to try to sneak him out of there. Although having an 8 month old around when my Sweet Pea is born might be a little much.

He was cute and sweet and cooing at our other friend. Then it was my turn to hold him. He instantly turned red, grunted, farted, pooped, and cried. What can I say, I have a special touch.

In other, completely unrelated news, my punk little sister is interviewing for an internship for next summer in which she will make (should she get it, and it's looking promising) more money than I currently make after 4 years on the job and 3 promotions. Methinks I chose the wrong field if I want to be financially well-off.

A Sunday Meal Plan Meant for Spoiling a Certain Someone

The overwhelming suggestion for spoiling Aaron (from both here and people I work with) was cooking him his favorite meal. I decided to one-up that (I'm ambitious now, but once Sunday rolls around I may be singing a different tune) and make him not only his favorite dinner, but also his favorite snack foods (of late) and breakfast in bed. Here's the entire "Spoil Aaron" meal plan.

Breakfast in Bed
Brown Sugar Baked Pancake (including the suggested apple topping in the second comment), bacon, and coffee (for him only, because *gag*)

Snacks
Pretzels with a Kick
Cheese Straws
Artichoke Dip (this one is more for me since I've been craving it like mad lately - see recipe at the end of the post)

Favorite Dinner
Meatloaf, Mashed Potatoes, Green Beans, and Apple Crisp a la mode.

I sure hope he likes it, and that I'm feeling up to it!

Artichoke Dip Recipe

I haven't had a printed version of this recipe for years, so this is from memory. My grandpa used to make it for me when I visited - we share a deep love of artichokes and things baked with mayonnaise.

1 large or 2 small jars marinated artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
1/3 cup mayonnaise (I use low fat)
1/3 cup sour cream (ditto)
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

Mix the above together, and bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes, or until hot and bubbly. Serve hot and spread on your favorite crackers.

A Show of Appreciation (and random weekend events)

I'm so exhausted lately that all I've been doing is napping or daydreaming about taking a nap. That's really as exciting as my life has been as of recently. I did, however, drag my rear out of bed long enough to attend a wedding this weekend and it was lovely. Two of our friends, who we met when they were our neighbors, finally tied the knot and we were thrilled to be there. They had an outside wedding in October in Michigan, which is always pretty risky, but it was a beautiful day - 80 degrees and sunny with a slight breeze that made it all bareable. (If you could stand for very long without feeling like the park took a spin, which I couldn't.)

I also fell on the way to the wedding site, but luckily I caught myself so only my hands hit the ground. It was scary there for a second. Aaron said I was there and then I was gone and everyone freaked out even though no one who was there knows I'm pregnant. It was quite an exciting afternoon. Besides all my whining, it really was a lovely wedding and I couldn't be happier for our friends. If I had to get out of bed at any point during the weekend, seeing them get married was definitely worth it.

I've been having good days and bad days as far as how I'm feeling lately, and for a while it was really predictable; I would have a bad day every other day. That worked for me so I could plan what I needed to do on my good days. That all went out the window this weekend when every day was a bad day, today included.

Aaron has been incredibly sweet to me since we found out about the baby, but he may have reached a bit of a breaking point this weekend. Maybe it was because I cried because I could smell the garbage and he wasn't taking it out fast enough. I would probably lose a bit of patience with me right then too. It could have also been that I really didn't do anything all weekend while he ran around attending to my every need. I keep telling him that I appreciate everything he's doing more than I can express, but I think I need to find something nice to do for him (that doesn't cost a lot of money) because he really does deserve it. Any suggestions?

Updates

First, despite a meager showing in the comment section yesterday (especially since more than three times the number of people visited than commented), thank you to those who did comment! It was nice hearing from you all. Also, I will still be donating at least $25, if not $50 or more, to Kiva, mostly because I really want to.

Second, I think I have found the baby blanket I want to crochet for my own little Sweet Pea (current nickname of the baby). It's here if you want to see it (it's a PDF document), but if not, I'll describe it for you anyway. It's cream-colored with a chocolate-brown ribbon border and a scalloped edge. Perfect for a boy or a girl, and I'll start on it just as soon as I finish up the baby sweater I'm knitting that I started way back when I re-emerged on the blogging scene.

My mom told me I need to start looking for a quilt pattern so that she can make Sweet Pea a quilt. I'm starting to get even more excited, if that was even possible. Everyone is ridiculously excited. The other day my sister called me as she was looking up my progress (on a pregnancy week-by-week calendar) to let me know what was going on with the baby this week (like I hadn't already read about 3 of those myself). My sister-in-law (brother's wife) told me she's excited, especially since it's me and not her (she's still young). I told her I was excited about that fact too, since I'm the oldest and want to have the first baby.

Finally, I haven't posted this yet, and I don't know why. We found out our due date: May 17th, 2008 (coincidentally, the same day Alexa is due with her twins). I both can't wait for it to get here and want it to take it's time getting here.

The Great Mofo Delurk - Delurk for a Cause

I read about The Great Mofo Delurk (click the button over on my sidebar) over at Miss Zoot's site yesterday, and then went and read about it over at Schmutzie's site (who I think came up with this great idea) - it's another Delurking Day!

But I'm not just asking you to delurk because I like comments (which I totally do).

I'm asking you to delurk for a cause, and the cause I've chosen is Kiva.org. I've been wanting to donate to this charity for a looonnnngggg time, because it just sounds like such a great idea. From their website:

"Kiva lets you connect with and loan money to unique small businesses in the developing world. By choosing a business on Kiva.org, you can "sponsor a business" and help the world's working poor make great strides towards economic independence. Throughout the course of the loan (usually 6-12 months), you can receive email journal updates from the business you've sponsored. As loans are repaid, you get your loan money back."

And since I want to donate instead of just lend some money, I'll re-loan my investment at the end of the loan period so I can continue to help.

So here's my proposal - I will donate $1.00 for every comment I get today, up to $50. The limit is for two reasons - 1) I'm realistic about the amount of comments I'll get and doubt it will go up to 50 (although, feel free to prove me wrong), and 2) There's this baby thing that my husband is freaking out about and he is working on saving all of our money "for the baby". For this reason, and due to where we are in our budget cycle, it may be a week or two before the donation is made, but it WILL be made.

I'll be accepting comments toward my goal until 12:00 a.m. Pacific Time (which will be 3:00 a.m. according to the time labels on my comments since I'm in the Eastern time zone).

And here's the final guideline: In your comment, leave a link to the funniest post you've read lately. I feel like laughing and I'm sure others could use a laugh too, so please share.

Thanks ahead of time for your comments. I'll share what I learn about the person who gets my loan as I get updates so that you can all see what your comments have accomplished. I'm just feeling so warm/fuzzy today!

The First Appointment and The Telling

Wowee it's been a busy past few days! Sorry I didn't post much last week, I was feeling pretty crappy and was concentrating on staying awake, trying to find out what is on my short list of acceptable foods for the minute (it changes frequently), and also attempting not to cry over every little thing (which I mostly accomplished).

Over the weekend we told all of our immediate family that we're expecting. It was as much fun as we had hoped it would be. Keeping a secret like that from them was incredibly difficult, so it was quite a relief to tell them the good news. We were both super nervous though and glad to get it off of our chests. My mom cried every time we told someone - three times in 20 mintues when we told her, again when we told my sister, my brother, my sister-in-law, Aaron's parents, and Aaron's brother. She's an easy target with the crying thing, so we had a running count going. My sister cried quite a bit too, and we, being insensitive like we are, told her right before she went to work, so she had to explain to her coworkers why she was all teary. I say finding out you're an aunt is a pretty good excuse to cry. I didn't cry once, which has to be some sort of record.

This morning was our first doctor's appointment, although it wasn't with a doctor (we saw an RN) and we just sat in her office and talked about their policies and our concerns. I did have to get a TB test, give 6 vials of blood (I didn't think she was ever going to stop siphoning it out of me!), and pee in a cup. Aaron was impressed with the practice, and he even got a book for expectant dads that uses a lot of sports terminology, so he's pumped. When the RN talked to me about my OB, she said that she was glad that I have the OB I have, because she's great, and when she (the RN) had to choose a doctor from the practice, that's who she chose too. We heard the same story from the woman who checked us out and the lab technician. They all said she's awesome and experienced, so I'm glad to hear that.

We have our sonogram on the 24th, which will be the first time we hear the baby's heartbeat. It will also be the first time Aaron witnesses me receiving a pelvic exam, which he's beyond nervous about. He wants to leave the room when it happens. I told him to man up and deal with it, because he's going to be staying in the room with me. I'm quite sensitive lately, no?

The more people we tell and the further things are progressing with the baby, the more real it's seeming. I get more excited every day, which I didn't think was possible, and besides feeling like I have a constant hangover, I couldn't be happier. This whole baby thing is pretty awesome.

P.S. Monday Meal Planning is mostly on hiatus for the next few weeks. Instead I'll point you to a few recipes during the week that look good, if that's OK with all of you. Even if it's not, though, it's probably what you'll get.

Ten Things I Would Currently Kill For

1) A nap
2) For tomorrow afternoon to get here faster (I just want my mom!)
3) For crying in the office not to be embarrassing, and to be perfectly acceptable behavior.
4) More time with my friend's newborn (I met him yesterday and he may be the cutest baby I've ever seen in real life)
5) A hug from Aaron (He works too far away for a hug during the day)
6) A nap
7) For my baby to not end up like this at the end of these nine months (!!!)
8) For me to somehow watch the entire 3rd season of Grey's Anatomy before the 4th season premier tomorrow night (actually having the DVDs would probably help in this)
9) For my nausea to go away for more than five minutes whenever I try to treat it
10)A nap!

In which I completely abuse parentheses

In a stunning twist of events I have realized, just this morning, that no the world does not revolve around me being pregnant. Surprising, I know!

(Although our eating does, and since the thought of eating makes me want to hurl, no Monday Meal Planning today. Maybe check out the first one I did, and recycle those ideas. That would be fun, wouldn't it? Because I know you all will probably want more than the Kraft Dinner that my stomach is currently demanding.)

Anyway, busy-ness abounds and I will probably not get to enjoy more 12-hour nights of sleep like the one I enjoyed last night (only interrupted 4 times by having to get up to pee). That will teach me to go be active and skip my afternoon nap! I have large amounts of writing to do for work this week, plenty of smelly places (hello, grocery store) to avoid at all costs, and plenty of naps to day dream about since I'll be missing them. :(

(Yes that was a sad face. I am not happy about the missing of the naps.)

In exciting news, there is now currently less than one week until my first doctor's appointment, 4 days until I tell my parents about the baby, and a new pregnancy planner to fill out. (Yes, I am a dork, but I love this planner. 'Tis awesomeness embodied in paper.)

Some things worth sharing (?)

Here are a few things that people are surprised to find out about me:

1. I'm an ex-smoker.

2. I used to swear, especially the f-word, a lot. (I learned that from my sailor-mouthed mother.)

3. I'm not a prude. (Which was Aaron's first impression of me.)

4. I was in a sorority in college.

For some reason these things surprise the heck out of a lot of people. In fact, Aaron and a few others I worked with when I met him thought I might not be worth getting to know because I seemed so quiet and boring. I think I proved him wrong since I haven't stopped talking since we starting hanging out together. I think it's mostly because I'm pretty shy that people are surprised about the above list, but they are all definitely true.

What are people always surprised to find out about you?

These things do not go together:

1. Being on a conference call in a small room with your boss.
2. Having to pee. Bad.
3. Being gassy.
4. Feeling a sneeze coming on.

To say I was slightly panicky would be an understatement.

Two more things that do not go together (pregnancy symptom edition):
1. Enhanced sense of smell.
2. Being gassy.

Being a loser and totally embracing it

Today is a day I have been waiting for since the spring. Do you know what day it is? (totally digging for content since I'm exhausted, slightly nauseated, and, again, EXHUASTED.)

It's the season premier of America's Next Top Model!!!!!!

I don't know why I love this show so much, but I do. It's so camp that it's fun, and even Aaron (though he won't admit it) gets into the show. He will also deny that he likes it, even if we were to admit that he watches it. I admit freely to both.

I do have to say that I'm kind of annoyed that the "plus sized" model this season is only a size 8. Seriously. I wish I could be that kind of plus sized.
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