Thursday, March 22, 2012

"Last Hurrah"

Friday night, I got home from work and crashed on the couch.  I flipped on the TV, Daniel got me some ice for my thumbs (I think I have tendinitis), and I just sat there.  It was so great... until the following comment came out of my mouth a little to late, "This could be our last weekend with just US! We should have gone out to dinner!"  Luckily, Daniel was much more calm and responded with, "We can go out tomorrow."

So we did...

Saturday, Feb 18, 2012 was a VERY good day.

We got the house ready for the baby. They call it... nesting.  I organized some things, got the "guest/nursery/study" room ready for my mom and sister's arrival, cleaned the bathroom, got the laundry done, etc.  Daniel did homework, cleaned the kitchen and dusted.  We also went to the fire department and got our car seat installed!  We are such responsible parents :-).

Around 3:45pm Daniel and I left for the movies.  It was the first (and probably last) movie that we have/will see in Chapel Hill.  Unfortunately, there wasn't really anything out that we were too excited to see, but we decided to see "This Means War" with Reese Witherspoon and we (I) actually really liked it.  I laughed a lot.  We also ordered popcorn and rootbeer--something we NEVER do.  We were being crazy I guess.  Naturally, Daniel and I were almost finished with it before the movie even started.  That just goes to show how excited we were! We were going out of control.  Luckily, I noticed the issue and calmly suggested to Daniel that we simmer down and space the goodness out a little bit.

After the movie we went to go out for dinner.  We really wanted to go to Maggiano's, but the wait was 2.5 hours long.  We settled for a piece of cheese cake from The Cheesecake Factory instead:  white chocolate, macadamia nut.  YUM. I'm not even going to record the calorie count.  However, as we were headed back to our car, we poked our heads into Maggiano's again and a very nice young lady offered us her table!  I guess she saw that I was very big and pregnant (and no doubt in need of some real food!)  It was wonderful. 

We ordered dinner off the specials menu: 2 salads, 2 pasta dishes, a dessert to share, AND two different pasta meals to take home all for $40.00.  It was awesome. 

I think I'm going to miss my alone time with Daniel haha.  We have so much fun with just the two of us.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

My Long Birth Story

Well, February came and went and my baby girl stayed put.  My mom and sister Sarah arrived in town on February 25th and we spent our days walking and shopping and walking... trying to get this baby out of me, but I guess she was happy as a clam in there because she didn't give us any clues to her arrival...  until Saturday March 3, 2012.

I woke up Saturday morning with really strong back cramps that were consistently coming every 10 minutes.  However, as the day progressed, they became less regular and eventually disappeared only popping up randomly. Boo.  Daniel, my mom, Sarah and I went to the Tobacco District to just walk around.  We ate lunch at the Mellow Mushroom Pizza shop (laughed hysterically at I don't even remember what--Japanese games shows I think) and then went for a four mile walk--once again with the hopes of gravity working wonders.  I even "jogged" a small portion of the walk!  At this point, the pressure was really on, because Sarah's flight left the next afternoon and I really wanted her to at least see the baby.

Eventually, the cramps started up again. Yay.  The drive home from Durham was unbearable. My back hurt so bad, I felt like I was going to have to rip my ovaries out in order to get some sort of relief.  The cramps--at this point known as back labor-- started really picking up about 9:00pm.  I called the midwives at the hospital and they told me to take a bath to see if they slowed down any.  So I did. *Note:  One of the worst things you can do while in back labor is lay on your back.... how do you relax in the tub without doing that?*  Well, they didn't slow down.  The back contractions were consistently coming with two peaking points: every 4 minutes, lasting 40 seconds, followed by a 20 second contraction two minutes later.  The midwives told me to come in and get checked.

We got to the hospital around 11:00pm and checked in.  They began to monitor my contractions and then checked me.  I was dilated to a two. I cried.  I was a one and a half centimeters the previous Friday and all of the contractions of the morning, afternoon, and evening only gave me a half a centimeter.  Talk about discouragement. They sent me home with an ambien and told me to get some sleep.  The midwife was very enthusiastic however that she'd be seeing me early in the morning in full on labor.

Well, Sunday morning came and the back contractions became very irregular again, but they were much stronger than Saturday's.  The ambien allowed me to sleep for a few hours, but my dreams left me stressed and unrested-- I dreamt that I had to continuously go through all of this pain (contractions) in order to get stroller parts and eventually, I'd have all the parts to make a stroller for our baby.  I endured the pain for hours, only to learn that the stroller wasn't even for me and I was doing all of the hard, painful work for somebody else haha.  It was awful. 

Because I was scheduled to be induced Sunday at 8:00pm,  I tried my hardest to stay at home and "labor" for as long as possible.  I even went to the first hour of church (it starts at 1:00pm) and was talking to a bunch of women while the contractions were coming and going.  We weren't sure what was going to happen, so Daniel's parents took Sarah to the airport. The contractions got worse and worse, but they were so irregular I had no idea how to determine how far along I was.  It was so frustrating and all of the things I learned in my birthing class felt moot.  What happened to the 5:1:1--this is how you know when to come to the hospital/ know when you are in active labor/etc.  We didn't even talk about back labor!  All of my information was coming from the Internet and my mother (who was reading up on it).  I eventually found a few hours of distraction by listening to an audio book and laying in fetal position on my mother's air mattress. By 5:30pm, however, I couldn't take it anymore.  I called my midwife and told her about the irregular, but very strong contractions I was feeling. I told her that I was in a lot of pain. She told me to eat a good meal and come on in.  My last supper:  left over spaghetti and meatballs haha. (I later learned that that is the meal the midwives joke about.  Apparently they say, "Eat something you don't mind tasting again."  Luckily, I didn't have to).

We got to the hospital around 6:00pm.  Once again the midwives monitored the strength of my contractions and then did the cervix check.  They confirmed that the contractions were very strong; however, I was still only dilated to a two.  That's right.  STILL a two, after 48 hours of what they call "prodomal" false labor with real contractions that don't do anything.  Once again, I cried.  At this point, my midwife gave me two options.  Start the pitocin (artificial oxitocin-- a labor hormone) or morphine plus another drug to help me sleep.  She highly suggested option two.  She said that a good nights rest could make all the difference.  I concurred and the morphine was great, but it didn't last all night.  I only slept for about 4 hours and then around 4am the nurse came in ready to start the pitocin.  At FOUR am. I literally begged her not to.  I could not handle the contractions just yet.  I asked her to just give me more morphine and let me sleep.  Luckily, the midwife agreed to my wishes and didn't put me on the pitocin until about 9:00am on Monday, March 5.

The contractions started coming immediately and they were very regular and increasing in strength. I stood, rocked, and then bounced on my labor ball for about 3 hours.  I listened some more to my audio book (not realizing for the whole 3 hours that I was listening to the same chapters that I listened to the night before) and I breathed.  I did the breathing that Rodney Yee does in my yoga videos and was amazed that my body actually became hypnotized.  I was experiencing the pain in my body, but viewing it as an outsider which made it bearable.  I could even relax my back muscles that were spazzing on a regular basis. 

As mentioned earlier, the contractions continuously got stronger and longer.  I felt like I was making so much progress and was literally devastated when I learned that it was just the pitocin.  Apparently, the strength and length of the contractions while on pitocin are no indicator that they are actually working.  That was proven when the new midwife (Stephanie) came in to check on me.  I still wasn't dilating quickly.  It was at this point I asked for the epidural.  Stephanie advised me to wait until I was at least dilated to a four otherwise, I risked the chance on slowing down the process even more.  I agreed, labored for another two hours and finally reached my 4cm mark.  That's right.  It took me 5 hours of hard, pitocin induced labor, (on top of my 48 hours of prodomal labor) to dilate to 4cm and get the go ahead for the epidural--which I wanted the moment I stepped into that hospital on Sunday night haha.

Getting the epidural was a cinch: pinch, burn, uncomfortable for 30 seconds, RELIEF.  I got the epidural around 2:00pm.  After which I was able to relax a lot more.  I still felt the pressure of the contractions, but they weren't unbearable.  At one point, I was even able to talk and joke around with Daniel, his mom, and my mom.  Most of my time was spent keeping my muscles under control though.  For whatever reason, the epidural made me shake uncontrollably.  I think it even scared Daniel and my mom to watch me shaking so much.  Once again, my yoga breathing techniques helped a ton.  I was able to slowly relax my forehead, my neck, my shoulders, my lower back, etc.  until all my muscles would stop shaking...until I lost my focus and they would react all over again.  It took a lot of concentration. 

From this point on, I began dilating 2cm every 2 to 4 hours.  The epidural began to wear off and nobody told me about the little button that gives more medicine until it was too late and my midwife didn't want me to push it because I was going to need to feel the contractions in order to know when to push.  Oh, and somewhere in there, I got a new nurse and for whatever reason, I really didn't like her.  She came across as stupid, so every time I'd try to talk to her I'd regret it and demand to talk to the midwife instead haha. (My mom and Daniel both said that I wasn't too unpleasant though.  In fact, while pushing, one of the women said I was doing a good job and I stopped to say, "thank you." haha My mom laughed at this.)

I think it was a little before midnight that the pain became so bad that I had to start pushing--against my midwife's advice.  It felt like I had two metal soft balls grinding against my tailbone. 

Two and a half hours later, after the hardest thing I have ever done, a small baby girl arrived at 2:01am on March 6, 2012. My thoughts as she exited the birth canal?  George Washington and "Honest Abe" haha.  I don't know why my mind went to those men, but I kept envisioning chopping down the cherry tree with George (a man's job/manual labor haha) and "Honest Abe" telling me that it would only be a few more pushes, and then the baby would come and I trusted him fully, because he was Honest Abe after all haha.  I really think that I was delusional for the last 40 minutes of pushing because I also thought that I was floating upside down, spread eagle and  I was really frustrated because I needed gravity to work in my favor.  Oh well, at least my body helped me deal with the pain.

One thing that surprised me?  I didn't cry at all after she came (like I thought I would) and I really craved a root beer. 

The baby had had a bowel movement in utero (?) so the NICU team was there and they had to cut the umbilical cord immediately to make sure that she was okay.  Luckily, she was.  As soon as they cleaned her up, they brought her too me, but I wasn't quite ready to hold her.  The nurse and midwife were still in the process of detaching the placenta and it was hurting an awful lot, so Daniel took her from me and then it was all over. 

My nurse took me to the bathroom and when I came out, everybody was gone.  All the commotion had calmed.  They had brought me a tray of food and a sprite (they didn't have root beer) and then I was wheeled upstairs to recovery with Daniel.  That was it.  It was over.

A different stupid nurse met us up in the recovery room at 4am and decided that it was a good time to lecture Daniel and me on how to not kill our baby.  She handed me this 4 page pamphlet that she wanted me to read and I tried, but my arm kept falling and before she even turned around I was asleep.  Daniel told me later that she kept asking him to wake me up, which he politely just stared at her and disregarded her request and then she tried to tell him that because it was a new day, he was going to have to go back to guest sign in and get a new visitors tag... a request that merited her another blank stare. She finally left and at 7:00am (only three hours later), the doctors started their rounds.

Because baby girl (she didn't have a name yet) came at 2am, my days were all confused.  The baby was only 6 hours old and I was right out of the delivery room, but I felt like it was a whole day later and that I was supposed to be up and walking about, so I was.  I was sore and light headed, but it was doable.

Daniel and I kept looking at this little girl in awe.  She's was so beautiful.  Finally, I asked, "What do you want to name our little girl?"  Daniel's top three picks were Kenly, Marly, and Roslyn.  Mine were Marlee, Madalyn, and Roslyn.  We narrowed it down to Marlee and Roslyn.  I finally asked her what she wanted to be named.  At that precise moment, she gave me the cheesiest grin I have ever seen in my life.  Too goofy to be a Roslyn... so we picked Marlee-- a sweet, silly, happy name.  A name that isn't too rich for our liking haha.  I think she'll be the little girl that just chuckles at everything and loves life and everything it has to offer.     

I arrived at the hospital on Sunday March 4rd and didn't leave until Thursday, March 8th. It was a long, long process.  Giving birth was definitly the hardest thing I have ever done in my entire life. In fact, right when it was over, I told Daniel never again, but it's true... with each passing hour, I remember less and less the pain and I'm overwhelmed by the miracle of the little baby sitting next to me. 

Daniel and I are so grateful to have her in our home.

While having Chinese with my mom and Sarah the week before Marlee came, my fortune cookie read, "You will soon witness a miracle."  I wish soon would have been sooner, but for once in my life, I can say my fortune cookie came true!!



Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Dear Baby

I'm having a baby this month... Well, I hope anyways.  Since I'm not due until the 27th, I suppose she could come in March.  If she does, I'll be so disappointed.  I've been looking forward to February for too long for it to just come and go haha but we'll see. 

In the mean time,  I've tried to make a "Dear Baby" letter:  A list of interesting things that she might want to know someday. One day, I'll make it pretty and put it in her baby book.

Dear Baby-

Here are some interesting things you might like to know someday:

When you were inside my belly, you were quite the sassy lady.  You didn't like anything or anybody cramping your space.  When I sat at work, you demanded perfect posture--otherwise I faced an infinate number of punches to the rib cage.  And when Daddy tried to cuddle with me at night, you would push him away if he got too close to my belly as if saying, "Excuse me, can't you see this this space is ocupado?" As soon as he'd move away, you'd sprawl out once and then settle down.  This always made me laugh.

Daddy and I were almost 100% positive you were going to be a boy.  We were planning on naming you Malcolm Daniel or Finley Alexander.  You may have brothers with those names one day.

We were shocked when we found out you were a little girl.  Daddy's first question was, "How do you play with a little girl!?"  I told him to play with you the same way he would a little boy.  That probably means that one day I'll hear you practicing throwing gernades at passing cars and gunning down bad guys.  Is it bad that I'm excited for this?

Before I even knew you were a girl, I knew your middle name was going to be Louise because I promised my Grandma Alexander when I was 13 that my first daughter would be named after her.  She probably forgot it, but I never did.  I know Louise is old fashioned, but I hope you never hate it.  Grandma Alexander was named after her mother, your great great grandmother. 

Lydia Louise Skinner Robinson.  She was an amazing person.  When I was little, my family went to her house every Halloween and we usually ate pies with her on Sunday evenings.  I always sat by her side while she visited with the adults and the other kids played in the yard.  She called me "her little red-head" or "Donny's little girl."  I remember being amazed at how she could still walk up and down stairs at such an old age.  My dad always commented on how she would bend her body completely in half to weed, even when she was really old.  She had a lot of poodles.  She had a laundry shoot in her hallway--a little door you would lift up to put clothes in and they would drop down to the laundry room.  The great grandkids loved playing with it and we were always putting toys down it.  She never got mad. She would just laugh.  The street she lived on was named after her, because she'd lived there so long.  Atleast, that's what I always thought.  She had a cracked front tooth, but she always smiled. I sang "Each Life That Touches Ours For Good" at her funeral when I was in middle school.  I didn't want to, because I knew I'd cry and I hate crying in public.  I still cry when I sing the third verse.  I remember looking out over the crowd and realizing that there wasn't a single empty seat, nor a dry eye in the chapel.  People were even standing along the walls.  She touched the lives of so many people and they all loved her.  She was beautiful.

I hope you are kind, like she was. That you always smile, enjoy the simple things, and know that beauty is not only on the outside.

Janet Louise Robinson Alexander.  We are so lucky to have her still with us.  She is the glue that holds the Alexander families together.  Some of my favorite childhood memories are from when she and grandpa came to Pennsylvania to visit our family.  Whenever they were around, we were on our best behavior.  Things I'll always remember:  I loved laying on her lap and having her play with my hair while telling me stories about her childhood, even when she claimed that she didn't remember much.  We played Yahtzee, ate Rita's Water Ice, and celebrated our birthdays together at The Shady Maple every year. I took her to get her first pedicure when she was 72 years old.  Grandpa Alexander was her first boyfriend.  She never had a speeding ticket.  When she laughed really hard, her whole face would squinch up.  She was always laughing or making other people laugh before she got sick and she was pretty good at it afterwords too.  She always kept her nails long and she let me play with her hair when I was really little (like six years old).  She loved everyone: her children, her grand children, her great grand children, her neighbors, her friends, and strangers.  But you were never a stranger for too long.  She was always making new friends.  She was so proud of her family and she always let us know it.  She was compassionate, but fair.  She loved Dancing with the Stars and she never left the house with out making her bed.  She always had a different ring on her finger.  She loved gold jewerly.  She collected dolls and it's because of her that I'll always have a place in my heart for Shirly Temple.  When ever I was discouraged, she could help me see something positive.  I always told her the drama that was going on in my life.  She probably couldn't have cared less, but she always listened and she never judged.   She really valued time and always told me to never wish my life away. She let me dress her up--fake eyelashes and all.  She embarassed grandpa sometimes, but she would just chuckle about it and keep doing what she was doing.  She sure loved him and he adored her.

I could go on and on about Grams.  I've had a lot more time to get to know her. I hope you are like her as well.  Friendly, family oriented, a good listener, and loving.  I also hope you have a hearty laugh.  It makes other people smile.

I didn't really have any cravings while pregnant with you.  Towards the end I ate a lot more sweets than normal. And there was one time, during my second trimester, when BBQ chips were really appealing.  I also ate a lot of pickles, but that's nothing new.

We were in Scotland when... and I'll stop there.... haha

Daddy and I went to Subway after Doctor Sojourner confirmed that we were pregnant.  We said it was to celebrate.  We sat in silence eating our sandwiches.  I don't think your daddy or I have ever been more terrified/overjoyed before.  It was surreal. 

Before I could feel you inside my tummy or see my baby bump, I knew that I loved you because the thought of you not being there made me want to cry.

I never threw up. Not once.

We found out we were pregnant the same day as our big family reunion after Grandpa Alexander's 80th birthday party. I called my mom first and then Grandma Alexander.  Before noon, the ENTIRE family knew the news.  Poor Daddy didn't even have time to register it all.

About a month before you were due, you would run your tiny fist along the inside of my belly for like 5 minutes sometime during the day (morning or night). I would tell daddy that you were either trying to hold my hand or you were just waving. I could see the outline of your little knuckles and I couldn't wait to hold your little hand.

Before I had my first ultra sound, I was convinced that I was having twins because you were so wiggly!

At Christmas time, you would "dance" when I'd play The Nutcracker's Sugar Plum Fairy song.

When I was pregnant with you, I all of the sudden became very nervous about being robbed or hit by a car. I ran through so many scenerios in my mind about what I would do to keep you safe.  I think you're daddy thought I was going nuts. But I knew that I would do anything to protect you.

I don't know that I'll ever feel adequate to be a mother, but I do know that I will always love you.

Our list of girls names: Violet, Madeleine, Lydia Skye, Cameron, Kenly, Marlee, and Madalyn.  But we couldn't pick a name for you until we saw you.  We picked....


Monday, January 23, 2012

Weekends together :-)

Once again, Daniel and I have been really enjoying our last few weekends together before our lives change forever.

Martin Luther King Day weekend was spent doing all sorts of fun and exciting things.

On Friday Jan. 13, 2012 we ate at Carrburrito with Jennie, Martin, Kelten, and Sally. We live in Carrboro and Carrburrito is a burrito place--clearly. The name is irresistible haha and the line to eat there was super long, meaning that it's good! After dinner we all played a game together.

Saturday Jan. 14, 2012 Daniel, Sally, and I drove to the beach. We walked for hours along the shore in the sunshine and just enjoyed being outside and listening to the waves. Talk about relaxing. We also ate at a restaurant called the Oceanic. It's right on the beach and has a pier that goes straight into the water. Delicious! I got fish a chips--wasn't what I was expecting (I had pretty high expectations after living in Scotland for a summer), but it was really good none the less. Next time I go there, I'm getting shrimp and grits. That's what Daniel got and it was so good.

Sunday Jan. 15, 2012 Daniel and I hosted a "Waffle Brunch" with a couple from church. With the start of the new year, our meetings don't start until 1:00pm, so instead of feeling like we've wasted the entire morning, we wanted to accomplish something fun beforehand. We ate waffles and scrambled eggs and then played Ticket to Ride.

I had off work Monday Jan. 16, 2012 (to celebrate the man who had a dream!) so Daniel and I woke up early and went to the Sunrise Biscuit restaurant (it's just a drive-thru, but it supposedly has the best biscuits in North Carolina) It was good, but I don't think I would say it's the best. Great service though! From there, we went and got our hairs cut. Big change for me: I got bangs. I liked them at first, but now I don't. Oh well.

Then we ran all sorts of errands. In the afternoon, Daniel went and played tennis with a friend and I stayed home and watched Gnomeo and Juliet. It was cute. I also took a nap :-). Then Daniel and I had the missionaries over for jalapeno popper grilled cheese sandwiches. Yum. Unfortunately, the food didn't sit well with my stomach and I woke up at 1:45am and spent the rest of the night thinking I was going into premature labor. It was awful. I sat on the floor of my bedroom with a bowl in front of me, pressing my head against the bed. I could not get the pain in my belly to go away (which was made worse by the Braxton Hicks contractions I was experiencing). I even tried all the pressure point pain relief tactics that I learned in my birthing class. Nothing worked. I finally just accepted the fact that it was there to stay for the night and fell asleep around 4:45am. I woke up at 6:30am, got in bed (from the floor) and just laid there with a terrible tummy ache. Daniel slept through it all haha.

The next weekend....

We spent Friday Jan. 20, 2012 eating pizza and playing games with Mattie and Matt Stevens. Daniel and I always have a lot of fun over there. We played Bohnanza (aka The Bean Game) and Chinese checkers. Just for memory sake... Everybody thought Matt was dominating at The Bean Game... and he was for the entire first half. However, at the end of the game, when we counted up points, he ended up losing. For whatever reason, that struck me as hilarious and I laughed so hard at his loss. I'm such a jerk. Matt, in case you ever read this... I'm so sorry haha.

Saturday Jan. 21, 2012 Daniel and I woke up early and drove to the Raleigh temple. It was exactly what we... I needed. Who would have thought that I would be so comforted about the birthing process through the words spoken in the temple? I definitely had never thought of the actual physical birthing process before while in there. But the experience confirmed to me that the Lord knows my needs. That He provides comfort in many ways, and that He is well aware of how freaked out I am about becoming a mother in five weeks-- freaked out about anticipating the exact date that my baby will arrive, freaked out about going into labor, freaked out about post partum, freaked out about having a baby in the apartment, and freaked out about it no longer being just me and Daniel to come and go as we please. But as I sat in the celestial room alone for a few minutes, all I could picture was a little girl, pulling herself up on our white couches and turning her little head around as if to see if anybody saw her accomplishment. Then, when she sees me, she gets the biggest grin on her little face. That image comforted me completely. I know that that time is months away, but it is now going to be my vision mantra during labor. I am very excited to meet this little girl. I even practiced reading a story book to Daniel-- he laughed the whole time, but I made him point out colors and answer extra questions about each picture haha. He's such a good sport.

We also went to a Kids Exchange where we got lots of baby things and then we had dinner at Jennie and Martins, played a game, and watched Captain America. :-) We didn't get home until late.

Sunday, Jan 22, 2012: We slept in, sat in a freezing couch with a single person blanket and played Ticket to Ride on his iPod. We made lunch, went to church, stayed for choir practice, came home, talked with family, ate dinner, watched the end of some football game and the start of another, watched Once Upon a Time, read scriptures, got ready for bed, tried to go to bed, ended up watching the rest of the 2nd football game, and then went to bed. The point of listing everything? We did everything together and we didn't argue or fight at all (not just on Sunday, but the whole weekend!)

These are my favorite kind of weekends.

BUT I'll save all the gushy "I love Daniel" stuff for my written journal. Last time I put anything like that in here, Daniel made me cry by an insensitive comment haha. (It's okay, we laugh about it now. I am pregnant and clearly hormonal haha.) But for the record, I don't care if he ever gets beat up or teased at school for something sweet written by his loving wife. In fact, I encourage it.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Baird Christmas 2011 + New Years 2012

Daniel and I had to leave my parents house the day after Christmas and our flight was at 7am-- so we had to leave at 5:00am thus making us say most of our "goodbyes" on Christmas Day.  Rough. 

My first goodbye was to Miss Abigail.  She was being put to bed entirely too early (in my opinion) by her father.  She had gotten into the habit of staying up until 10:00pm because she didn't want to miss any of the party and Jesse said that that had to stop haha so around 8:00pm, she was taken down stairs.  I cried and cried. And I'm tearing up now just thinking about it.

I hated the idea of leaving, but even more specifically... leaving the little girls (Claire and Abigail).  They grow so fast and the next time I see them they won't remember me.  They won't remember all our little "inside jokes" and the little songs that I sang to them to make them smile.  The thing that broke my heart the most though was with Abigail.  Jani once told me that after her surgeries, her little eyes panic when an unrecognizable face walks into the hospital recovery room--she's a smart little girl and knows that new faces often equal pain (shots, tests, etc.) What if she was afraid of me if I was able to visit her?!  The thought is almost too much for me to handle.  I love that little girl too much.

So anyways.  This year, goodbyes equaled lots and lots of tears. (I'm pregnant! Leave me alone.)

After arriving in Hickory, Daniel decided to stay with his family Tuesday - Thursday while I was working in Chapel Hill (about 2.5 hours away).  It didn't make sense for him to be home alone for 8 hours, when I was at work, while his entire family was in town.  It was a lonely time... especially because I went from a house filled with 17 people, to an apartment all alone.  But I made it work.  I set up my computer in my bedroom and watched chick flicks haha (Never Been Kissed).

Right after work on Thursday, I drove back to Hickory for the Baird "Ukrainian Christmas Dinner."  The dinner is a multi-course meal.  We eat by candle light and can only whisper.  I don't remember all of the other symbolic things, but it's really cool. I will say that it was definitely a lot harder to have a quiet dinner with a baby... haha I'm sure next year will be even worse, if not impossible, with Baby Baird around! (Well, only if she's like her dad haha)

On December 30th, 2011, we had a second Christmas morning!  Once we all woke up, we went and sat around the tree and opened our gifts one by one.  Paul brought me home pearls from India and I also got a pair of hiking/camping/water sandals from Sally.  Daniel and I also got a couple games AND a yogurt maker amongst other things.  Pretty cool stuff.  We then had Christmas breakfast (golden rod eggs with fresh bread).  It was really cool to have a second Christmas. It helps with the Christmas "hang over" as Daniel likes to put it.

In the afternoon, the boys worked on the bathroom (they were remodeling it) and watched football.  The girls went to the movies :-).  I finally got to see Breaking Dawn Part I.  It was a very unique experience with a large range of emotions.  I felt awkwardness, joy, horror, and sick--I even started gagging( the part where Bella drinks blood and it stains her teeth... gross). Overall, I enjoyed it and I can't wait to make Daniel watch it as well.

On New Years Eve Daniel, Jared, and I went to the NLM Party (a neighborhood gang... if you will haha)and around 10:00pm we left to attend the Running of the Lights Race.  Some of us ran a 5.5k to bring in the new year. Others, such as myself, walked.  It was fun.  I was definitely exhausted, but at least I was awake to watch the ball drop and I got to kiss my sweetheart to welcome the new year.  That's something that is still fun for me.

Note: My first thought and comment of 2012, "We're having a baby this year!"
It's becoming more and more real and I love lil Miss Baird already.

Overall, 2011 was a FANTASTIC year:

January- I started my blog! haha
February-  Daniel got accepted to the Edinburgh internship.
March-  I "quit" my job and we got ready for our overseas move. McKaysters was born!
April- Daniel graduated from BYU!
May- We moved to SCOTLAND!
June- Daniel's parents came to visit us. We went to Ireland and the Preston, England temple. My first niece, Claire, was born.
July- I spent my 23rd birthday in London and Daniel and I had a second "honeymoon" in Spain! Baby Abigailey was born!
August- Grandpa Alexander's 80th birthday/ Family reunion.  Daniel and I moved to NC for grad school. We celebrated our one year wedding anniversary together.
September- Daniel and I found out we were having a BABY GIRL!
October- We made some great friends, settled into our new routines, and I constantly grew a baby.
November- Daniel and I made our first Thanksgiving dinner.
December- Best Christmases ever

Whoooshh... A year goes by so much faster these days.

Getting back into the swing of things after the holiday is always hard, but it's nice to have a "routine" again. Daniel and I both miss our family members a lot, but we are so excited to welcome our little girl in February.


Monday, January 9, 2012

Christmas 2011

I'm embarrassed. 

It's already January 9, 2012 and I have yet to update my blog regarding my fabulous 2011 Christmas and New Years Eve celebration. Whoops.

But here ya have it:

Daniel and I flew to Utah on December 18th.  Note: being pregnant makes airplane rides even more uncomfortable than they already are. I couldn't sleep at all.  Grandpa Baird picked us up, took us to the Village Inn for a quick bite to eat and a quick visit, and then we went to my parents house. 

The "homecoming" celebration was... casual haha.  My parents hired a professional to hang their Christmas lights so that was fun to see and once inside the house, the few people who were upstairs gave me hugs, my mother ran straight to my belly (it was the first time she had seen me pregnant and showing haha), and everybody else was watching a movie.  I interrupted it to say hello and we all visited. However, the two stars that I really wanted to see.... Claire and Abigail.... were already in bed :-(

The next few days were filled with lots of Christmas shopping, playing with nieces and nephews, and random outings.  One thing I don't miss about Utah... smog.  Daniel and I didn't see the sun or the mountains for the first three days we were there!  Gross.

Activities Accomplished (not in any order):
Temple Square- Daniel, me, James, Rinda, Jesse, Jani and Jesse's little sister, Liz, made a late night trek to SLC to see the Temple Square lights. It was fun. I made everybody take lots of pictures and I'm glad I did. My camera isn't the best, but some of them turned out really nice! Because it was so cold, the trip turned into a brisk walk, a few stops at the different nativity scenes, and then a nice long break inside the Joseph Smith memorial building. Can't complain--it's beautiful in there too. We were going to stop for hot chocolate, but all the fun places (minus Maverik) were already closed.

Lunch with Danny and Claire- Daniel and I were able to squeeze out of the house for a couple hours and meet up with our intern friends we met in Scotland.  It was really fun to catch up with them and reminisce about the crazy summer we all shared together.  I miss them.  I'm pretty sure we'll keep in touch for a long time.

Decorate Sugar Cookies-  Daniel and April really took charge of this event.  They did everything--from mixing the dough to icing the cookies. I helped decorate. For whatever reason,  the rest of clan just didn't find the true joy in this activity haha. Although, my dad did come up to the table, find the broken cookies, dip them in icing and eat them...  I guess that counts.  He was technically frosting them.

Gingerbread House Competition-  This years competition was intense and everybody brought their A-game.  The rules were very simple:
          1. Frosting and graham crackers are provided. 
          2. Each team is responsible for their own decor. (Pantry/fridge is fair game)
          3. Build
Naturally, we all complained about having to buy our own candy haha that stuff is expensive! but that's what gives the competition an "edge".  Most of us went in on the candy together and only had a few things that were "individualized" for our own unique housing purposes.  Well, except for Don (Dad) & Kathy (Mom). Kath was very competitive this year and wouldn't let anybody near her candy purchases, claiming that "it was a competition!"  That was until, she saw some of the things in our candy pot that she wanted and exclaimed sorrowfully, "I wish I hadn't been so competitive" when we wouldn't share with her team haha it was really fun. The whole event lasted hours.

We were all in the kitchen, there was a Christmas movie playing in the background, Edison was running around stealing candy off of each house (as pictured above...he even stole two snowmen from my "yard!"), and we were just having a grand old time.  Considering that we were all in the same area, I was really surprised at how unique each house turned out and how little "copying" there was. 

Mom & Dad: We called theirs the "Community Center".  It was huge and very creative.  A little sloppy this year and the grape vine trees with the "snow" and "Christmas lights" are getting old (Come on guys! You've used that three years in a row now--well, if you include the Ward Christmas Party haha.)  BUT I will give them props on the fact that they used no structural support (cardboard) AND they used frosted mini-wheats for siding. It was really good.

Ryan & Chelsea: This was the "Gated Community."  It was flawless.  Each house was crisp, clean, and color coordinated.  Amazing.  I also loved the little Santa Gummy Bear that was on the roof of one of them--a special touch by Ryan.

Nate & April:  Inspired by their eldest son, this couple made the "Holiday Train," complete with animal cages (and there were animal crackers inside the pretzel cages!) and a conductors cabin.  My favorite part of this one was the track and the steam coming from the locomotive.

James & Rinda: Unfortunately, this team was unable to finish due to a fussy baby and a collapsing roof.

Jani & Jesse:  "The Chapel of Love"  With it's rainbow roof and its bell steeple, this church looked like one you'd see in Vegas or a very small abandoned town haha.  Creative touch:  A snowfall right before judging compliments of Reddi Whip!

Mandi & Daniel: "The Old-Timers"  This comfy little house looks like one in which a loving couple would celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary.  Creative touch:  Hot Coco Powder for the trail leading to the front door--Daniel's a genius.

Sarah & Alex:  For their first entry in the family competition, they did a fabulous job.  We liked to call theirs the "Community's Culture."  After a small mishap, their lovely house turned into a Japanese Pagoda completed with a delicate touch of Disney Characters.... okay. haha  

Our judge was less than a professional this year, so even though he did say that mine and Daniel's won the prize, I'll go ahead and admit that everybody was a winner (well minus Sarah and Alex.... haha as Skylar [the 17 year old neighbor who was our judge] so kindly exclaimed, "that one's not winning"  while pointing to theirs haha). This tradition is a keeper.  And let's just say that Daniel and I are already drafting blue prints for next seasons house.. Southern Plantation... I think so.
I don't have the Santa picture, but here are all the
grandkids in their fancy Christmas getup.
Santa Christmas Picture-  This was my parent's first Christmas with more than one grandchild.  So, we decided it would be a good idea to take the four little ones (Edison, McKay, Claire, and Abigail) to meet Santa together.  We went to the mall.  The mall was PACKED and Santa's line was so long.  Even though the little kids looked super cute in their Christmas suits and dresses, we decided it wasn't worth waiting. BUT as we were leaving, one of the workers came up to Jani, noticing that Abigail was on oxygen, and asked if we were leaving because of her.  Although it wasn't specifically because of Abigail, Jani did mention that it wasn't very smart to have her exposed to so many people for such a long time, especially little kids. Holiday miracle: we got a first class ticket to the front of the line.  It was very sweet of them to let us do that, totally unexpected, and not all together necessary, but wonderful none the less. 

The picture turned out great.  None of the kids look like they are enjoying themselves.  In fact, Claire wouldn't stop touching Edison's face, Edison kept telling her to stop, and Abigail and McKay were crying, but Santa looks as jolly as ever. Merry Christmas Old Guy -- Love, the Alexander / Dix Children.

 Home Alone Marathon-  Another HUGE success, compliments of James and Rinda.  We started the evening with Little Nero's pizza and Fuller's Pepsi Classic.  We had a Home Alone trivia game, listened to the soundtrack, and "rocked" around the mini Christmas tree that was placed in the center of the room.  (Edison LOVED dancing with Uncle James and it was so cute to see him try and copy the same moves, but be unable to because he hasn't figured out how to coordinate certain muscles yet haha). 

We also sat in a circle and quoted our favorite lines from the movies, (Buzz: Is it true that French girls don’t shave their pits?... Cousin: Some don’t...Buzz: But they got nude beaches...Cousin: Not in the winter. --Submitted by Jesse). We loved every minute of it and laughed a lot.  My dad also popped TONs of movie quality popcorn in his machine. Daniel was so sad that we only utilized that machine once during our stay. 

During Home Alone 2, we paused the movie when Kevin orders ice cream sundaes from room service and went upstairs to make our own.
"Waiter: Two scoops, Sir? Kevin: Two? Make it three. I'm not drivin."  It was such a fun activity.

Baby Shower-  My mom and sisters threw Chelsea and me a baby shower.  It was awesome.  Because it was the holidays, we weren't expecting too many people to be able to make it, but to our surprise almost everybody came!  I got to see my aunts, cousins, grandmother, friends, etc. and it was really sweet of them to help Daniel and I with our upcoming little lady.  She will definitely be well dressed.


Night Before Christmas Gift Exchange-
I know I look similar to a beeched whale in this picture.
But please note that nobody looks good haha hence
thre reason I actually posted it.

We also did our Christmas Eve gag gift exchange.  Everybody is responsible for bringing one gift.  We sit in a big circle, sing carols, and then my Dad reads "The Night Before Christmas."  Every time he says the word "the" we pass the present in our hand in one direction.  Which ever gift is in your hand at the end of the story, is yours.  Funny note:  Apparently, 3 years ago Ryan and Chelsea brought some silly straw goggles for their gag gift and my Dad got them.  Well, he randomly gave them to me at some point the following year, and I used them for my gag gift this year and James got them.  It was the gift that was re-gifted twice!  We got a kick out of that.

Christmas Day-  We woke up early, sat in a circle, and opened gifts one by one from youngest to oldest.  We were probably opening gifts for over an hour and a half (that happens when there are 17 people!!)

Edison literally squealed when he first sighted the train set he received, Ryan looked confused when he opened up a pair of very feminine socks that were wrapped and tagged with the wrong name by Dad (they were supposed to go to Rinda, but Ryan still said thank-you!) and my mom cried when she opened up a little gift from Mickey. Actually, there wasn't a dry eye in the room for that gift. It was a little Christmas ornament with Mickey's picture inside and a simple note thanking her for her many years of love and service (if you zoom in on the picture with my parents and the grandkids, you can see the ornament on the tree!)  It was the first time my entire family together acknowledged the death of a very important member of our family... our puppy of almost 16 years, Mickey, who passed away peacefully in his sleep back in October.  Despite the tears, it was a very special moment and one that the Micksters deserved.  He was our family Christmas present back in 1996 and he was truly the best puppy we could have ever ask for.  I'm happy to know that each year he will be with us, especially during the Christmas season, and remembered as we place his picture on the tree. We all really loved him and miss him a lot.

This year, everybody seemed genuinely happy to give and receive.  Christmas is such a magical time and I'm so happy that I got to spend it with my family. It would have been perfect if Christian would have been able to make it, but that's only something to look forward to for our next Alexander Christmas Extravaganza.

Daniel and I were only in Utah for seven days and we did a lot.  I didn't even mention our Cafe Rio trip, our visits with the Tingey's (Daniel's cousins), all my play sessions with Abba-Duba, Claire, McKay, and Edison, and other random outings that filled our afternoons. 

I loved every second of being home with my family.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Holiday Tradition

I've heard that if you want traditions, you should start them early.

So I made a few calls, worked some magic, and managed to get "in" with the elves at the North Pole.  That's right.  Apparently elves only like to visit families with children.  Well, I've got one on the way and my little family was in desperate need of some Holiday cheer--with Daniel's finals coming up, he's been "unavailable" for the past forever and I was spending a lot of time alone... in front of the TV... scaring myself with Criminal Minds or trying to put myself in the holiday spirit with ABC Family's holiday count down. Boring. But on December 1st, this all changed (sorta haha).

Daniel and I walked into the kitchen area and there was an elf sitting on our table!  He came directly from the North Pole with a note from Santa, a brief introduction (written by himself), his passport (which included an "All about Me--Getting to Know Your Elf" section), and a traditional "North Pole" breakfast: "snow" covered donuts, marshmallows, and "hot" chocolate just the way the elves drink it at the North Pole--ice cold (chocolate milk).  It was a beautiful morning.  Daniel was so excited to learn that an elf was staying with us for the month of December.  He couldn't stop laughing all morning haha.

Anyway, I left to go to work and apparently Walnut (our elf, who prefers his friends to call him Wally) decided to watch a little TV.  ESPN to be exact.  Daniel, who was in the back studying, was confused because he thought that it was me watching TV.  He was delighted when he saw Wally making himself at home.

Since then, our home has been filled with tricks and treats (sounds like the wrong holiday huh?! haha), but it's been a lot of fun.  Santa, in his letter, warned us that Wally had a history of mischief so luckily we were warned and not surprised when we found the little rascal hustling other toys and betting all of Daniel's cash and valuables in a poker game. I even walked in the apartment to him mooning me (that's right... didn't think I'd ever be able to say I've seen elf butt cheeks!).  But overall, he's a very sweet little elf.  He won me some popcorn in a gambling match against Penny (my build-a-bear), he hitched a ride all the way to Hickory just to help Daniel and I pick out the perfect Christmas tree (I'll tell you all about this trip in a minute), and he even left Daniel some York Peppermint patties in the freezer.  Wally was hanging out in there because he's a little homesick for the North Pole. Elves.....


Last weekend, Daniel and drove to Hickory so that we could drive into the mountains with his parent and help them pick out their Christmas tree. In all the hustle and bustle, I forgot to grab Wally and was really sad that he was going to miss our first tree hunt.  We got up the next morning and were helping around the kitchen when to our surprise, Daniel found Wally sitting on the car in the garage with a hand-made book entitled, "An Elf's Guide to Finding the Perfect Christmas Tree."  As I mentioned earlier, he hitched a ride all the way to Hickory to help us out.  What a sweet little elf.

We had a lot of fun picking out our trees.  The branches made great swords and Daniel and I had a fight to the death on the mountains.  He died, but then miraculously came back.  We got free hot chocolate, bought some candies, stopped on the side of the road for a picture, ended up taking a little hike, and then went to lunch (PS. It was about 60 degrees in December!).  We all had some great hush puppies, slaw, and pork BBQ. 

Daniel and I were planning on driving home that night, but instead we went and heard his parents sing at a nativity event at the church.  After that, I rested while Daniel did homework/ watched the BYU football game.  Also worthy of note, that night I experienced the worst heart burn of my life and also the worst leg pain of my life.  I made Daniel massage my leg at 12:45am it hurt so bad.  Luckily, it was gone in the morning.

Kelten was blessed on Sunday and that was a very sweet event, Daniel and I set up and decorated our first ever Christmas tree (I've included a picture of my favorite ornament--we got it for our wedding), and in the evening Daniel and I went and played a game at one of my old BYU friend's house (I met this boy years ago while living at the Colony at BYU.  He's now at Duke getting his doctorate.  Daniel and I ran into him and his beautiful new wife our first Sunday in North Carolina.  Small world!)

That's all we've been up to.

TEN days until we fly into Utah and the real holiday celebration begins.  I can NOT wait :-D