Monday, January 24, 2011

Viva Las Vegas!

The holidays are behind us now, and the first big thing on Michael's radar at work for 2011 was his company's annual national sales meeting. It was scheduled to be held in Las Vegas this year (at the Venetian resort), and being big Vegas fans, we decided to make it a family trip. So he wouldn't miss all the fun, we figured we would fly out a day before the meeting and stay an extra day afterwards.

Ava has flown a few times now, but we were a little worried about how she would handle the nonstop flight to Vegas. She was her usual charming self the whole flight, though, babbling with all the surrounding passengers and even taking a stroll up and down the aisle with daddy a few times.

We arrived at the hotel easily, and found our room to be spectacular. It was on the 43rd floor of the Palazzo, with a view overlooking the Wynn and the mountains in the distance. We had just enough time to freshen up before we raced to the theatre to see Phantom of the Opera! We didn't purchase tickets in advance for fear we would be delayed and miss the show. It didn't matter. The show was spectacular and there was not a bad seat in the house. It was definitely one of the highlights of the trip!

Ava transitioned to the time change quite quickly- which made us nervous for our return trip home. Our first morning in Vegas we made the trek to Mr. Lucky's at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino. On previous trips to Vegas this was our "must dine" spot for various hours of the night. They had a fabulous cinnabon french toast platter that was delicious! Unfortunately, they took it off the menu along with a few other of our favorite items. We were disappointed but made the best of it with blueberry pancakes. Ava didn't seem to mind. Fresh blueberries taste the same at Mr. Lucky's or at home. Check out Ava's rockin' Aerosmith onesie and faded denim. She totally rocks!

After dropping Baby girl off at the hotel for a much needed nap, we headed for the blackjack tables! Another highlight of our trip was not losing our shirts to the casino. Tam loves to play blackjack and has brilliant strategy that usually allows her to play for long periods of time...usually. It doesn't hurt that we usually head to the Sahara - the oldest casino on the strip - where they have $1 tables. A string of bad hands there doesn't hurt as bad as at the $25 tables.

All too soon it was time to head back to the Venetian so Michael could report in to start his role in the setup for the sales meeting.

The next two days we barely even saw Michael as he had to be downstairs at the conference center from 6:00 am until 9:00 Friday night and 11:00 Saturday night.

Tam and Ava and Auntie Em were on their own for two solid days. Let's just say that two days in Vegas on the best of trips can be a long time. And two days anywhere with Auntie Em can be even longer still. Put the two together and you end up with tired Tam, cranky baby, and lots of horribly composed blurry pictures of them courtesy of Auntie Em's photographic "skills."

Baby girl and Auntie Em hung out in the room while Tam and Michael headed out to do a little shopping, exploring, gambling, etc. We made it back to the hotel in time to get ready and head to dinner at BB King's, at the Mirage. We had plans to possibly catch Le Reve or Holly Madison's new "Peepshow," but our plans changed when Ava announced the beginning of something sinister...

Right when dinner arrived, baby girl went into a coughing fit. Tam took her away from the table just in time for her to barf up all of her previous bottle - all over Tam's sweater. (Somehow, Ava didn't get a drop of it on herself). We cleaned it up, took Ava outside so she could settle down, and then proceeded to eat quickly in shifts and head back to the hotel. It was a rough night, and you could tell Ava was not feeling well. She had a steam shower to help ease her cough, and we took shifts sitting up with her overnight holding her upright so she could breathe. She started running a fever of close to 101, so when morning came we were a little worried about flying home. Michael talked with our pediatrician and the pharmacist downstairs, and we all agreed that getting her home was the best thing to do.

Amazingly, Ava handled the flight home beautifully. We were worried it was going to be a 4-hour nightmare for us and everybody on the plane around us, but she was happy and well-behaved the whole time. Once we got back to the airport, you could tell that Auntie Em was getting sick too. Michael was feeling fine, though. He ended up staying healthy until Wednesday night, when he spiked a fever and entered the new phase of the plague that Tam had just entered. Luckily, Auntie Em was feeling better by Thursday so she came to help us take care of sick baby Ava while we were crashed in bed and useless.

I don't know how single parents do it. Being sick is miserable. Watching your child being sick is even worse, because sometimes you just can't do anything to make them feel better. Being sick while caring for a sick child - ugh. It was all we could do to help each other through it. And as we write this, Ava still has a little cough, but is almost back to normal. We are both pretty miserable though with horrible sinus congestion, but no fever anymore. We can't wait until this weekend when we can wipe down the entire house with disinfectant and get back to a normal routine again.

So viva Las Vegas, though the next trip to Vegas will just be for the grown-ups.

Ava Update:
Weight: Nearly 19 pounds
Clothes: 9-12 months
Shoe: size 4
Loves: Mickey Mouse, books, dancing and Da-Da!

Up next....Ava's First Birthday Extravaganza!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Merry Christmas Baby!!!

Ava’s first Christmas was wonderful! Christmas Eve we had a house full of guests to exchange gifts and celebrate Uncle Doug’s birthday. Even her Grandma Eula came to visit!

Everyone (except Granddaddy, Grandmommy and Goggie) eventually went home to carry out their own holiday traditions. At our house there was lots of cooking (mostly by Grandmommy), lots of eating and lots of ooh-ing and ahh-ing over Ava- which she enjoyed immensely! We watched How the Grinch Stole Christmas (Jim Carrey version) and chased Ava around the Christmas tree. She was very fascinated by all of the packages and their ribbons. She inspected each package closely and decided she liked the ones with curling ribbon best. She would stand next to the package with the ribbon extended and giggle. It was very precious to watch. The clever girl also discovered that she could push the smaller packages close to the larger packages and use them as steps to get to the tree! We eventually decided to remove any fragile gifts into another room.

We also started our own tradition of reading The Night Before Christmas to Ava before putting her to bed. Michael’s sister, Jennifer, gave us the book the Christmas before.

Christmas day was magical for all of us thanks to Ava! She was in no hurry to actually open presents and I don’t think we even started until nearly two o’clock! But once the wrappings were ripped there was no holding her back! She wanted to help everyone open their gifts. Grandmommy helped her inventory her very first stocking-, which included new spoons, a princess beanie and some other goodies.

Uncle Colin and Dianne arrived as we were opening gifts and Ava had to show them her Monkey Dance! Wish there was video to share with everyone but the only recording was not very well executed...

Our intentions were to have Ava hang out in her playard while we ate dinner. But Ava would have none of it! She wanted to sit with everyone else at the BIG table. So she did, on my lap, right at the center of the table. She also wanted to eat what we were eating. But not off of a “baby spoon”- no way! She wanted to eat from a fork- just like everyone else. And she did. She had sweet potatoes, cranberries and turkey from a fork and “chatted” with everyone at the table. It was very precious to watch, but also a little sad as I realized she is growing more and more and becoming less “baby-like” with each day.

Christmas night was another story. Gone were the “precious moments” to be replaced with exhaustion and aggravation as our little darling refused to go to sleep for the night! Gone were our hopes of a nice evening alone in front of the tree planning for the New Year. After rocking her for two hours she finally went to sleep a little after ten! By which time Mommy and Daddy were exhausted and just went to bed too. Of course she woke several times during the night requiring one (or sometimes both) of us to tend to her. The next day a much-needed discussion was had about how to address our darling baby’s sleep habits.

The Cry It Out Method:
I swore I would never do it because I didn’t want my baby to think I had abandoned her but after months of continuously interrupted sleep and most recently two nights of refusing to go to sleep I had to reconsider. So, on my way to work that Monday I re-read the Baby Sleep book our friend Lindy had given us and the Baby Manual that Daisy had lent to us and made a plan.

1. We would start a bedtime routine of bath, play, bottle and a book read by Daddy.
2. Then I would place Ava in her crib while she was sleepy but not asleep.
3. I make a mad dash to the shower at the other end of the house so I won’t hear her cry!
4. Michael times her crying and consoles without removing her from her crib at five minute intervals until she falls asleep.

I definitely think I got the better end of the deal! And guess what? IT WORKS!!! After only three nights Ava was not only able to get herself to sleep, but she also soothes herself when she wakes in the middle of the night- which happens less frequently now. For the past two weeks (knock wood) Ava has slept 10-12 hours a night virtually uninterrupted. It has been a very pleasant two weeks around the Johnson house!

Now we are gearing up for our trip to Las Vegas in January and Ava’s first birthday in February! Stay tuned….