Married to the Empire

Monday, December 26, 2011

Alex's First Christmas

Alex was absolutely clueless about his first Christmas, but we got some cute photos. 

All dressed up for his first Christmas Eve service:

What you (thankfully) can't easily tell is that he was screaming his head off in the picture.  I wanted a photo of us all dressed up, and he didn't want to cooperate.  Steven took several pictures in an attempt to get one where he doesn't necessarily look as unhappy as he felt.  (He was hungry.  It was dinner time for him, but we had to get to church so I could practice my solo.  We're mean like that.  But don't worry; he was fed as soon as we arrived at church.)

Reindeer jammies given to him by one of our former youth:

A a few pics from his time at Grandma and Grandpa's house:

It was a nice day for Alex's parents, too, as my parents kept telling us to go take a nap.  So we did!  Sleep is the best gift you can give to new parents! 

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas

I've had a few emails from folks, as I haven't updated my blog in two months.  We're alive and well, just insanely busy.  The few free moments I have each day are spent doing things like making dinner and making sure we don't live in squalor.  Wow.  I had no idea just how time-consuming babies truly are!  But life is good.  I hope everyone has a wonderful Christmas!

Friday, October 28, 2011


Even though we had no expectation (or even necessarily desire) of becoming pregnant, I'd read people's blog posts about cloth diapering with interest.  (I'm weird like that.)  So, when we found out we were pregnant, I decided we were going to cloth diaper.  Steven wasn't too on board with that until we signed up for a registry at Babies R Us.  When the clerk helping us spouted the statistic that babies go through approximately 3000 diapers in the first year, Steven saw the wisdom of cloth. 

Whenever I mentioned to people that I planned to use cloth, I received a lot of negativity.  A few friends were supportive, but most people seemed appalled.  My youth group acted thoroughly grossed out.  (What does that say about a generation that has been brought up with everything, including electronics, being basically disposable?)  People seriously think using cloth is crazy.  I don't get it.  What's the big deal about washing diapers, especially seeing as I love doing laundry? 

I chose a couple of different all-in-one diapers, and we're all set to use them.  Just one problem: Alex isn't big enough yet!

He needs to gain a little more weight and get fatter legs! 

It was painful to drop several hundred dollars at one time on diapers, but now that's looking downright cheap, seeing as the cloth diapers will last until potty training.  In his first 5.5 weeks of life, I think we've spent nearly $100 on disposables!  Now that's crazy! 

Monday, October 24, 2011

One Month Down

Yesterday was Alex's due date.  Seeing how big he is now, coupled with the fact that I wasn't allowed an epidural during birth, I am so glad he came early!  (Since he was healthy and all.) 

This was taken on his one-month birthday:

Isn't that superhero sticker the cutest?!  A friend gave us a stack of those at one of our showers.  There's one for each month of his first year.  Great way to track how much he's changing from month-to-month!

I'm also glad he came early because now we've got the first month behind us, and we're that much closer to the day he finally sleeps through the night!  (I am way too old for this interrupted-sleep business!)  Right now I do all nighttime feedings during the work week.  Then Steven takes over on weekends.  Let me tell you, I live for Friday nights now!  Come Friday, I'm pretty punchy from the lack of sleep. 

Steven and I originally planned to alternate Sundays while Alex is in his staying-home phase (doctor prescribed), meaning, Steven would go to church one Sunday, then I would go the next, and so on.  Instead, my husband has been gracious enough to let me go every Sunday.  He goes to work 5 days a week.  I go nowhere, and he saw how much happier I was after that first Sunday of church.  Isn't he great? 

I attended my first music rehearsal in a couple of months last week, and I sang on the praise team again this past Sunday.  I missed it so much!  And it's funny how we can make plans, then they all fall apart to be remade into something else.  I'd intended to finish out the month of September on stage, then drop out for the entire months of October and November.  I was getting too hot on stage in pregnancy with the glaring lights.  What happened instead is that Alex arrived 5 weeks early, and I didn't even get to finish out the month of September!  And now I'm so ready to sing again, much earlier than I'd anticipated. 

Speaking of singing, our little man loves music.  We knew this even when he was in the womb.  I'm not kidding when I say that there was at least one Sunday he was kicking in time with the music at church!  He always became quite active whenever I sang, and that's served us well in his short little life outside of the womb.  I can (usually) calm a crying fit with some singing.  The cats appreciate that quite a bit! 

It's been a challenging month for us, but mostly enjoyable.  I'm constantly amazed at how much I, a non-baby person, actually love this little guy.  I couldn't believe it when a strong feeling of possessiveness overtook me the other night when we were at the home of friends and people kept taking Alex from me. 
I never understood why people always want to hold other people's babies, and frankly, I still don't get it, but I totally want to hold  mine.  (Good thing, huh?)  But there I was, getting flustered inside because someone else wanted him.  Go figure!  The mothering instinct continues to surprise me daily. 

Oh, and that swing he's sitting in for his pictures?  My new best friend.  I totally didn't want one because swings are just so big.  But I broke down.  We went to Kid-to-Kid and bought probably the largest one they had!  And even though it's huge and totally doesn't go with my living room, it's been the best purchase so far.  He loves it, and I finally was able to start doing basic things like cleaning house and cooking dinner. 

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Tenuous Peace

When we found out we were expecting a baby, we started thinking about how the cats would react.  We figured that Doogie, who has always been our skittish kitty, would be freaked out.  We thought Ninja would be cool with it.  Instead, the cats had the opposite reactions.  When Steven brought the carrier in that first night home, Doogie walked right up to it, sniffed Alex, and seemed to shrug his shoulders and walk off.  He's retained that attitude.  The baby just doesn't interest him. 

Ninja, on the other hand, has been terrified.  He slinked up to the carrier in a fearful manner.  He jumped at every little sound for the next two days.  The baby monitor invoked more fear.  His perfect little world was shattered by the presence of this new tiny person. 

The crib tent we put up with Ninja in mind?  Totally unnecessary.  We'd feared he'd want to be in the crib with the baby.  That's pretty much the last place he wants to be!  And he no longer gets up on the changing table. 

He actually smacked Alex in the head when I was feeding him.  Thankfully, Alex didn't even flinch, which means Ninja didn't smack hard.  He got a stern NO from me, and he hasn't tried it again. 

I'm pretty sure that any time we take the baby out somewhere, Ninja is deeply disappointed when we return with him. 

But there was the night I walked in on this:

It was a tenuous peace, but we'll take it.   

Friday, September 30, 2011

Nursery Decor

It took us until this week to get the nursery finished.  Lots of things weren't done before Alex arrived unexpectedly early!  But Steven is so pleased with it all (as am I), that he's been bugging me to put pictures up online.  So here you go.  While we didn't initially intend to have a theme, we went with a space theme after I found some fabulous artwork.  The filler is framed scrapbook paper and a banner I made with his name. 

The red picture above the banner is a bible verse: And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.  Micah 6:8

Doogie really likes the boppy.
The comment we keep getting is that it's not a babyish room, which is exactly what we were trying to achieve.  We wanted a fun, bright room that he can grow into.  I don't want to have to redecorate in a couple of years.  We just hope he likes it as much as we do.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Welcome to the World, Matthew Alexander

Last Monday I spent the morning shopping with gift cards received at my baby shower on Saturday, then I intended to write thank-you notes.  But suddenly, something was wrong.  I was dripping.  In a panic, I called Steven to COME HOME RIGHT NOW, then called the doctor, who said to head to the hospital.  I debated whether to call a friend to come get me, but I wasn't in pain, it was going to take friends at least 15 minutes to get to me, the hospital was 30 minutes away, and it was just starting Dallas rush hour. 

So, I drove myself to the hospital.  (In retrospect, that was probably dumb, but it is what it is.)

When I stepped out of my car, I was suddenly soaked.  Thankfully, Steven keeps an emergency blanket in each car, so I grabbed that, wrapped it around myself, and walked into the hospital. 

I was set up in a room in Labor and Delivery.  Steven finally arrived.  (Answered prayer, as he was coming from Dallas during rush hour, and it only took him an hour and 15 minutes, instead of the 2 or more hours I expected.)  I believed (and still do) that my water had broken, but they sonogram they did on me said I had too much fluid for that to have happened.  Contractions had started, but as I could talk through them, the med staff decided I wasn't really in labor, and they sent me home. 

Now, you should know that this was 5 weeks before my due date.  I hadn't packed a bag for the hospital, and in my haste to leave, I still didn't pack anything.  We had to call friends who have a key to our house to go home and get me some clothes.  You know you have a good friend when you can send her to your underwear drawer to bring you clean panties! 

We were back at the hospital 2 hours later.  Contractions had ramped up, and I was in pain.  I spent an unpleasant night with no sleep, having contractions about every 3 minutes.  But every time they checked me, I wasn't far enough along.  The nurse came in at 7am to say that my doctor was sending me home again

I started sobbing.  And I do mean sobbing!  I was in so much pain, and I couldn't fathom having to ride in the car for the 30 minutes it would take to get home.  Then ride back to see my doctor, who was saying to stop in her office.  (She hadn't been to see me in the hospital yet.)  My nurse saw how bad things were, and Lord bless her, she fought for me.  She came back a few minutes later and said I was being allowed to stay.

A less kindly nurse came on shift and said, "You have a very low tolerance for pain."  Yeah, I know.  It's not a defect, even if you have less respect for me because of it. 

I was moved back to Labor and Delivery, and they put something through my IV bag that knocked me out, thankfully.  But because I was sleeping through contractions, no one checked to see how far along I was until 6pm.  (Don't even get me started!)  There was more talk of sending me home with a prescription for Percocet, which I knew wouldn't do squat for me.  The doctor was saying this could go on for days or weeks, and the prospect of that had both Steven and me panicked.  But when someone finally checked me, I was dialated to an 8.  My doctor seemed shocked.  (*sigh*) 

I started begging for an epidural, which I'd made clear from the start that I wanted.  I was ticked that I'd gone all afternoon in agony when I could have had pain relief but no one could be bothered to check how far along I was.  I pretty much decided that I hated my doctor at that moment.  I wasn't liking her up until then, but my enmity grew after that.  (No, it's not Christian of me, but it is human.  I'm feeling a tad more forgiving now that it's over.) 

My doctor informed me that because my platelets were so low, the anesthesiologist refused to do an epidural. 

Yeah.  Low pain tolerance, and I was being forced to give birth naturally.  At that point, I hated everyone.

I'll spare the details, but Matthew Alexander was born finally at 8:08pm on Tuesday, September 20th.  The NICU team was there to whisk him off to be checked out, as he was 5 weeks early, but praise God, he is 100% healthy! 

I am so amazed at the Lord's faithfulness.  This pregnancy was so hard and fraught with so many scares and complications, not to mention the fact that I was hitting this kid with migraine meds almost every single day of pregnancy.  I've never prayed so hard in my life, as I did during pregnancy.  And God protected my sweet baby boy through it all. 

Everyone, meet Alex.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Nursery Name Banner

We didn't really intend to have a theme in the nursery, but it sort of morphed into a space theme after I found some awesome spacey artwork.  Even better, I found some great scrapbook paper that fit the theme, as well.  To make wall decor affordable, we framed some of that scrapbook paper, and I also used some to make a name banner to hang above the crib. 

I started with some chipboard banner pieces I bought at Stamp Asylum in Plano.  (I'm a tad obsessed with that store.)  Because all of our picture frames in the nursery are black, I didn't want brown borders on the banner.  I bought some black distress stain and covered the edges of the chipboard.

Next, I made a template from cardstock and used it to trace onto scrapbook paper.  (The robot paper is my husband's favorite.)  I wouldn't ordinarily trace on the front of the paper, but I wanted to make sure everything was nice and straight with the designs.  I then cut out the paper. 

Next, I applied Mod Podge to the back of the paper and adhered it to the chipboard.

While all that was drying, I got out my handy-dandy Sizzix machine and cut out letters and stars. 

Then I painted Mod Podge all over my cutouts and sprinkled liberally with glitter.  I made a colossal mess in the process.  Usually I love glitter, but today, I was hating it.  Must be a pregnancy thing. 

Also a pregnancy thing (or maybe it was just because I was too covered in glitter), I forgot to take any pictures of the next few steps.  I Mod Podged all over the top of the banner pieces with the scrapbook paper adhered.  Then I glued on all the glittery bits.  Finally, I took it all out to the garage to spray everything with some clear sealer, as I don't want bits of glitter falling onto my baby. 

With the banner pieces completed, I just needed to punch holes for the ribbon, then string it together.

Here's my super-simple secret for attaching bows to a banner and making loops for hanging.  Tie bows, then flip them over and slip a twist tie through the back of it.

Next, make a loop in the hanging ribbon, and twist the twist tie around it.  It makes a secure loop and keeps the bow attached to the ribbon. 

Trim any ribbon ends you want, and voila!  All done!  Ready for hanging. 

(Don't worry; it's only hanging on the crib for picture-taking purposes.  It will go on the wall above the crib, with all strings safely out of reach of baby.)

I'm linking this post with Mod Podge Rocks, a very fun blog for Mod Podge projects.  Be sure to visit there and take a look around.  Lots of great stuff over there!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Baby Crafting

I've been doing a lot of sewing for babies lately.  (And I'm a bit burned out on it, to be honest.)  My BFF from junior high school, whom I am still friends with, is due with a baby girl.  Her due date is just one day after mine.  What are the odds?  I stitched up a few things to send to her. 

Burp cloths:

A personalized, ruffle-butt onesie:

I won't lie; I think I just did an okay job on the onesie, not a great one.  But at least my attempts at applique went from looking like a drunk monkey did them to looking like a sober monkey did them!  Still, I went ahead and sent it because I still think it turned out cute, even if it's not perfect.  (But I found myself glad that I'm expecting a boy because I would have had to make a ruffle-butt for my own child had he been a girl.  And I didn't really enjoy sewing on ruffles.  Other bloggers make it look and sound so easy, but I guess I'm just not talented enough to find it simple.)

An elephant pacifier holder (I'm most proud of this one):

I got the pattern from this book, which I checked out from the library.  Lots of cute projects in it!  This particular one called for using felt, but since this is for a baby, I used fleece instead.  Fleece is washable; felt is not.  I also made an elephant paci holder for my Alex.  It was too cute not to!  I had fabric leftover from this project, so it didn't even cost me anything, other than the pacifiers.

This next one didn't wind up being a gift.  I just made it for my own baby.  It's an elephant rattle:

I added 3 jingle bells inside the head (well surrounded by batting and tightly sewn in), so it makes a soft jingly sound that's not annoying.  (The not-annoying part is very important to this migraine-prone mama!)  I'm not thrilled with the placement of the handle, so I may still rip that out and resew it.  We'll see.  I'm pretty tired of sewing at this point, so I may just leave it.

And last but not least, my newest furry baby needed a little something.  I sewed up a simple rectangle of fleece, stuffed it with batting and catnip, and added a ribbon (because Ninja loves ribbons).  I think he likes it!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

This Motherhood Thing

It's so not for the faint of heart! 

I had a regular OB appointment yesterday with plans to run errands afterwards.  Things didn't work out that way. 

When my OB pulled out the doppler thingy to listen to the baby's heartbeat, things weren't sounding right.  Even I could tell immediately that something was wrong.  His heartbeat was steady and rhythmic for a while, but it kept skipping beats.  *boom boom boom skip boom boom boom skip*  Then it just went all sorts of crazy-erratic with no rhythm whatsoever. 

My doctor immediately sent me to the hospital with instructions not to worry.  Uh, yeah.  Right.  Naturally, I was freaking out. 

I contacted Steven, who left work right away to meet me at the hospital.  I also quickly sent off an email to some close friends asking for prayer, as well as posting on Facebook.  I have to say that I love this aspect of the technology age, because I had people all over the world praying for our baby within minutes! 

I spent a couple of hours in the hospital hooked up to various things.  The baby's heartbeat was still wonky, but everything else was fine, so I was eventually sent home.  But I was told that my doctor wants me to go to the hospital for this testing twice a week until the baby is born.  I go again on Friday.  I was shaky from fear and hunger, so Steven and I went out for a much-needed late lunch after all that. 

My OB called that afternoon to tell me that she set up an appointment for me with my high-risk OB, who said back in June that she didn't need to see me again.  So much for that!  So, Baby Alex had an echocardiogram this morning with her. 

The glorious thing is that his heart was in perfect rhythm this morning!  The high-risk OB couldn't find anything wrong with him.  Thank you, Jesus!  But I have a new worry: she said his umbilical cord is loosely wrapped around his neck.  However, he was practically dancing in there while she was trying to examine him, and she said that as long as he's active like that, he's fine. 

I asked a friend this morning how she survives motherhood.  It's killing me so far, and he's not even out of my body yet!  She said motherhood is the most wonderful thing, but it's often like having your heart ripped out of your chest and stomped all over.  So far, I'm finding that to be true. 

Monday, September 5, 2011


We painted the nursery last week. 

It just about killed Ninja because kitties were locked out of the room during the process.  He doesn't like to be left out, and closed doors with his people behind them drive him crazy!  But we knew he'd be dancing in the paint trays if we let him in. 

The next night we set up the furniture. 

We also have a bookshelf and a chest of drawers in there.  I'd like to move my rocking chair in there, too, but I'm not sure there's room for it.  We still need to get stuff up on the walls, but it's coming together. 

We put the room together just in time for our first baby shower.  Steven's coworkers gave us a shower, and we were so blessed to receive some great gifts, including our stroller/carseat combo.  We now feel semi-prepared, as baby Alex now has a bed (but no sheets), a carseat for riding safely in the car, and some other basic necessities.  Notice the tent on the crib?  We love our Ninja Cat, but we just don't trust him not to try to sleep with the baby.  My dear BFF from junior high school, who is expecting a baby one day after me (crazy, huh?) sent us the tent, and we really appreciate it!  The crib itself was also simply given to us.  Free is good!  It's amazing how generous people become when they hear you're having a baby. 

The cats still don't understand that this is now the baby's room and no longer theirs.

Hey, Mom!  We're starting to think you're a little bit crazy because we see no baby!

The shower at Steven's office had a Star Wars theme (not too shocking), and one of the artists photoshopped a picture of Steven to make this poster:

It absolutely cracks me up every time I see it!  I think Steven is planning to hang it in his weight room, which is what the former Star Wars room became.