Alexa had her first real babysitter this month. My friend Olive volunteered to watch Alexa when Justin came home so we could have an evening to ourselves. We took her up on her offer and ended up watching our neighbors band play and hung out with all of the friends Justin made while he was in Iraq. We really had a good time but came home very tired. Alexa was ready for bed the minute she arrived at Olive's house. She was a little crabby but ended up asleep in no time.
We decided to make our Christmas trip out east like we usually do. Having a toddler was certainly this most challenging part of our trip. We left the Thursday before Christmas and drove more than 8 hours. It was EXHAUSTING! Alexa had a hard time sleeping in the car. Justin kept the car cold & loud so he would not get tired. In turn it kept us all awake. We stopped in Indiana for a few hours of sleep. Alexa woke up the minute we got there. I ended up driving her around town and then played with her in the lobby. At 3:30am she finally went to bed. We got about 4 hours of sleep and then were on our way. We arrived in Cincinnati before lunch. We spent part of the day with my Mom & part with my Dad, Beth, Maggie & Jeff.
We really enjoyed staying at Megan, Steve & Matthew's house. Alexa had everything she needed right in one place. She had endless toys to keep her busy & Matthew to play with. Alexa did have a rough time sleeping. Christmas Eve was spent at my Dad's house. Alexa had a lot of fun with just our immediate family. One the large family arrived she became very shy. She took an early evening nap and then spent the rest of the night sitting with Aunt Megan. Alexa sat very surprisingly well watching and taking everything in. She is going to be a thinker like her Daddy. Christmas morning was a lot of fun. Santa left Matthew & Alexa a note & Matthew got amazing gifts. He is one lucky kid. He really enjoyed his drum set and looked good driving Alexa around on his 4-wheeler (from Grammy). Matthew and Alexa got matching Mickey & Minnie shirts with their names on them. Aunt Megan is very good at finding adorable outfits. They are all ready for our Disney trip. We spent most of Christmas day at my Mom's house. Alexa was having a difficult time with her sleep schedule but seemed to enjoy the day.
That night Alexa slept really well in Megan & Steve's walk-in closet. We were relieved to actually get a decent night sleep. Monday morning we packed up once again and started our drive to West Virginia. Alexa's patience in the car were wearing thin. Once we arrived she was in a great mood. We celebrated Christmas with Jay, Susan & Caleb. Alexa absolutely loved having so much space to run around. We did have to keep a close eye on the front staircase. Although they are gorgeous they can be very slippery. Alexa did manage to make it all the way up the stairs without Daddy noticing once and part of the the way up a few times later. Justin then decided to tie a blanket across the stairs to make it appear as though she could not get passed. By the third day, Alexa realized she could go right through it.
We also spent some time Terry, Jill, Olivia, Maddie & Emma. Maddie and Emma were Alexa's favorite. She just loves having people "her size." I think the feelings were mutual. The girls loved showing Alexa all over their toys and even their dog. Alexa enjoyed chasing the dog. She kept referring to him as "kitty." At one point she went into his crate and closed the door. She really thought she was being funny.
After three days in West Virginia we left to make the 12 hour drive home. I knew this was going to be very challenging from the start. Alexa made it 2 hours watching just Mickey Mouse before she decided she had enough. She through a fit & then went to bed. We were both able to sleep a few hours before we arrived in St. Louis for the night. At this stop we took a different approach. I carried Alexa in covered in Justin's jacket. I put her right to bed and she slept the entire night. When we woke up we discovered we had a gorgeous room (could not see it in the dark). We stayed at the Marriott in downtown St. Louis. We were upgraded to a historical room. The history in the hotel is unbelievable. The architecture was very detailed and even Alexa noticed how beautiful it was. We spent part of the morning at the Children's Museum. We had lunch there and then started the 4.5 hour drive home. Justin sat in the back with Alexa and made it a more enjoyable trip for her. Once we did make it home we were all three very glad to be there. We spent the next day unpacking, cleaning & repacking.
We picked up my Mom at 3pm on the 30th. We went to dinner at Ma'ma Mia's Itialian Cafe (or favorite restaurant) before calling it an early evening. Saturday morning we got up at 4am to head to the airport. My Mom was nice enough to drop us off so we did not have to leave two cars there. It was very hard for me to say by to Alexa. She was still half asleep and did not have any understanding as to what was going on. I knew Alexa was in good hands, but I was still sad to leave her.
To sum up our time in Vegas. We did New Years Eve at New York, New York at their "Bridge Bash" we went to two different shows on the other nights. We did some light gambling & had a great time. We talked to Alexa on the phone a few times but were never able to get video chat to work. We left with great memories (most of which I prefer not to blog about) and a Vegas T-shirt for Alexa.
When we arrived home in the 2nd I was VERY excited to see Alexa. She was fast asleep on the Acred's couch. Justin picked her up and she gave him a big hug before he handed her over to me. I had never received such a tight hug from her. I did not want to put her in her crib but knew I had an early morning. I spent the next three days working 9 hour days and trying to make the most out of the evenings. Justin stayed home with Alexa on Wednesday & Thursday but took her to school for a few hours on Friday.
Our first weekend home Alexa and I took the Camry to get its 20K service and then spent the day playing. Justin was studying for his Human Resources Certification Test which he took on the 10th. We did our best to be as quiet as we could. But Alexa being almost 16 months old did not understand.
Alexa and Justin also started their winter activities. They are taking swim lessons for 4 weeks and gymnastics for 8 (once a week). Monday was their first swim lesson. Alexa is in a class with 3 boys. Jarod who was her "boyfriend" at daycare, Jackson who she takes gymnastics with and a tiny 12 month old who was 11 weeks premature. The boys did ok in the cold water but Alexa screamed. This class was very different from the one we took this summer. Justin said they had a great time but they seemed to do more standing than we did. I kept telling Justin to walk with Alexa to warm her up and it seemed to help. Once she got more comfortable in the water she had a good time & even jumped in the water a few times.
Wednesday's swim lesson was much more enjoyable for Alexa and Justin. Alexa wore a body suite that the pool provided. She really enjoyed swimming to toys and riding on Mr. Floaty (square floatation devise that holds 4 toddlers). She is also getting very brave with jumping in the pool. Justin holds his arms out and counts to three and she jumps right to him. At first she was only taking a step, which did make her fall into the water. However jumping is safer & guarantees Justin can catch her. Later in the week Alexa was on the stairs reading a book (her favorite place to sit) and Justin came home. He held out his arms and said hi to her. She then held our her arms and jumped towards him. Unfortunately our staircase is not a pool & she barrel rolled down 3 stairs. It was not a big deal, but it scared me. I am not normally the dramatic parent. However I was witnessing this from the otherside of the room & there was nothing I could do. Alexa was nice and did not even cry.
We started Alexa on lactose free cow milk. Her coughing went way down and her nose is not running constantly. We are still giving her all of her normal dairy. I am hoping this is only a temporary change, but we will see. Alexa is eating just about anything these days. Her favorite food is Cherios. She can get them out of the cabinet herself and either helps herself to a few or brings the box to us. She has only emptied the entire box twice. The most recent time she emptied it and then clapped as though she did something good. Oh well!
During MLK weekend we traveled to Greenville. Alexa did alright on the planes but not fantastic. Alexa had a rough time sleeping when we in Greenville. This is very normal for her when we are traveling. The first two nights were tough but nothing like the last night. She cried inconsolably until she finally fell asleep 45 minutes later. On Sunday we drove to Columbia to go to our old church. It was soooo great to see some of our friends. Alexa went into the 1 year old nursery. This was the same class that Justin and I used to work in before Alexa was born. It is really neat to see things going full circle. Alexa really liked the praise band music and even feel asleep at the end of the service. We went to lunch with the Moore's & then heading back to Greenville. We did our traditional Melting Pot happy hour that evening as well. Alexa did not get to enjoy any of the cheese or chocolate but she did eat some apples and bread.