Sunday, November 6, 2011

Summer Adventures: Part 3 (Trip to Vegas and home again)

Sorry it took so long to get this post up, but two things have been holding me back.

1. Truthfully, I'm just having a hard time remembering exactly what happened right after Mercedes was born. It was a busy summer!
and 2. Rowan has gone with a running start and hit right smack into the Terrible I mean Terrific Two's...with a vengeance. Sadly she is nearly as stubborn as her Mom so we're working on a battle of wills at our house. PS - I'll tell you the end of that story real quick...I always win. ;)

Another sleepy picture, I know, but she's just so cute when she's sleeping.

Sooooooooo, anyway...
After Mercedes was born (on Thursday morning) the rest of that day we relaxed and had some visitors. I don't remember exactly who came on what day but we saw lots of family and friends and we greatly appreciated it! In that aspect it might even have been better that we delivered in Utah because we could have more friends and family meet Mercedes :)
So, Thursday was the day we were planning on driving down to Vegas, then we would have Friday to hang out with family, and Saturday for the wedding. So most of the family drove down on Thursday except for Mom and Tiffani (they were sticking with us to help us out), and Tia Silvia stayed in Utah too because my Uncle Reese (her husband) had just had heart surgery.
Our plan was to leave Friday (the next day) and stay in Las Vegas (we already had a hotel reservation from months before), and from Las Vegas drive home to Arizona, and of course going to the wedding in between.

The only problem was that the hospital pediatrician didn't want us to leave yet. Since I was in Utah for the last month of my pregnancy I hadn't taken a certain Hep test. Well, I thought I had taken it so before I delivered they asked me about it and I said "Yes, I think I did. And if I did it was negative." Well, when they got the copy of my lab work from my midwife's office it turned out that I hadn't and I was thinking of Rowan's birth. Usually if they don't know if you are Hep positive or negative, or if you are positive they hook you up to an IV with antibiotics for 4 hours prior to delivery (how they figure out 4 hours prior to delivery I have no idea), but since I thought I had taken the test they didn't bother, and even if they had bothered there wouldn't have been enough time because I delivered so fast. This is all what the Ped Dr told me. SO, he said we had two options. We could do a blood test on Mercedes and see if she had the Hep, but it was about 50% inaccurate and if it read positive they'd have to keep her for days, OR we could stay another night and he would come in early (it was even his day off) and check on her for symptoms and if she looked fine we could go. Of course we went with option 2 and stayed one more night.

The next morning he checked her and gave the all clear and we left for Mom and Dad's house where
we packed up, but got going a little later than we wanted to, and left for Las Vegas in two cars. Mom's car with Tiffani and Rowan, and our car with Ben, Mercedes and I. One of us always had to sit in the back and make sure her head didn't flop down too far during the drive because she was still so little and new.

Our stop at a park in Cedar City, UT

The drive took longer than we thought because Rowan was very anxious, energetic, and moody that we had to stop several times to let her out and run around. Then when we finally got to Vegas Mom's GPS (don't trust 'em) took us in a totally wrong direction, THEN we had to pull over because our car was smelling like gas fumes. And by the way it was VERY hot outside. So we all sat in Mom's car with the AC running while Ben talked on the phone with my uncle who's a mechanic when suddenly....Mom's AC quits. At this point I'm thinking "Are we not supposed to be here?!" While driving we already knew we would miss the wedding because it was at 1pm, but the reception was going to start in like an hour so we wanted to get to the hotel fast! My uncle said it should be fine to drive the car and we finally made it to the hotel where my sister Michelle was waiting!!!! She lives in Kentucky so I rarely see her. Our family got to our rooms and got ready and the reception had already started but we had to change. Then Mercedes was fussy and hungry so before we left I fed her and waited until she was happy because she was more important than the reception. We finally got there right before it ended and said hello to the happy couple and gave hugs to everyone and sat down to eat a little something, then the newlyweds were gone, and we were tired so we went back to the hotel and went to sleep....for a little while because Mercedes got really upset for part of the night so I didn't really sleep much. But I was just so happy to have her in my arms and not be pregnant any more, and to feel so good, that I didn't care much. It seemed that we didn't get much time to spend at the actual event we were trying so hard to get to, but it was okay. I'm just glad we made it to see Dalein and Bryant on their happy day. But I didn't even get a picture of them, so I'll just tell you they were happy, glowing and gorgeous. :)

At the wedding reception at Bryant's parents home in Henderson.

It was funny that so many people were saying things to me like: "Wow, you just had a baby! What are you doing here?!" "You're a pioneer woman! You could have a baby and get out and pull your cart !" or "Aren't you sore and tired??"
Nope. Not really. :)
My body had felt so bogged down at the end of the pregnancy that after the birth was the first time I was finally feeling good! Plus it was a natural birth (without a single needle), so I was able to get up faster after the birth and get my body going quicker than I would have with an epidural.

I did overdue it however. When we were carrying luggage from the hotel room to the car I was walking fast and carrying a lot of weight, and sometimes Rowan too, that my SPD flared up during the trip, but other than that I felt great!

Rowan being a little sass to Grandma at the Denny's in the Hotel/Casino, and yes that dress is too small for her. It was actually for Mercedes, but accidentally got picked out for her when Grandma was helping her get dressed.
So, we got all packed up and ready to get on our way and I was SO excited because Michelle was coming with us! So we got an extra day with her! Even though I don't like the drive from Vegas to Arizona (very bland and boring) it was okay because we had fun being together and switching cars from time to time. At one point we had to stop on the side of the road because Mercedes was hungry and there was nowhere else to stop, and while she was eating Mom got some bad news. She was on the phone looking a little panicked when she came and told us that Uncle Reese had had a stroke.
He had been recovering from his heart surgery in the hospital and wasn't supposed to be released until Monday, but he was healing so well that they told him they would send him home a day early. On the way home he had a stroke in the car and so they went back to the hospital and found where the blood clot was in his brain then did surgery on his brain to remove the clot, but it took longer than they had anticipated so apparently because they had him opened up for so long trying to get the clot it did some more damage and half of his brain was completely dead. He would never walk or speak again. This is all as I understood it from the messages that were relayed to me from my cousin Pati's texts to my Mom. So, we all had him in our prayers as we kept driving on our way home.

Rowan and Tiffani playing the piano

The next morning Michelle flew home. She was flying standby and the flights didn't look good at all, but she made all her connections and got home alright. Another blessing we were grateful for. ...although we were sad she had to go so soon. :(

 There's my beautiful sister next to that chubby just-had-a-baby-lady ;)
I can't believe we didn't get any pictures together, but it was a busy day.

Mom and Tiffani stayed and were such a huge help! We mostly needed help with Rowan because Mercedes was a sleeper and a piece of cake, but Rowan was still wound up from the big trip. After a while (I think it was a few days, but I don't remember, this part is kinda fuzzy) Ben went back to Texas to work and Mom, Tiffani, the girls and I stayed and hung out. I felt bad because we couldn't go out and do anything fun, but it was nice to be together. We kept getting updates on Reeses' condition and over the next week (I believe) his condition got worse. Prior to his heart surgery he had made it clear to Tia Silvia that he didn't want to live that way, being incapable, so she took him home and hospice came in to make sure he was comfortable, and he passed away.

While Mom and Tiffani were here there was a big Haboob (huge desert duststorm) that swept through and this is what our cars looked like after.

Although I didn't know him very well, I did know him for a long time and he was usually quiet in the family gatherings, but you could sense a great strength and goodness from just being around him. He looked like his own kind of cowboy, and very much a gentleman. He raised three families and all of them loved him very much. I'm so glad that my Tia had him for the time she did, and that he was a part of our family. We miss you Uncle Reese!

Rowan in Mom's car on the way to Utah. Tiffani was such a good sport and sat between the two carseats
the whole 11 hour drive back up to UT!

 Rowan and Mom at the hotel in Mesquite

Back to our traveling story. Once we found out when the funeral was going to be we made a plan to head back up to Utah. We drove caravan with my cousin Anika and four of her kids as well. We stopped and slept in Mequite, NV then continued the next day. There was a beautiful funeral service and at the grave site two of my cousins (Tirsa and Arisa) and I sang "This is the Christ" a capella. Then, because he had been in the Navy (pretty sure it was the Navy) they had a flag ceromony and a bugle tribute as well. It was really special. One thing I remember clearly and that I loved was that my Tia Silvia was wearing a lovely peach/pink dress outfit, and not black. It seemed more a celebration of his life than a mourning for his death, and I could really tell she was at peace. :)

Rowan, Mercedes and I spent a couple days in Utah, then drove back to Arizona with Anika. It was by far the easiest drive I've ever made with Rowan because they had personal DVD players on the back of the headrests and almost the whole drive she watched Micky Mouse and was happy as could be! Thank goodness! And a big thank you to Anika's two girls for helping out with Rowan and Mercedes. Giving bottles and snacks, etc.

Rowan and Ethan (my cousin Anika's little boy)

If anyone has read all this, wow! And thank you! I don't blame you if you need to stop now, or maybe take a break ;)
After we got home, we had one day by ourselves (me and the girls), then Ben's parents, and Rebecca came. I told you this was a busy summer.
This was during the weekend (Saturday I think) and Ben wouldn't be back until the next Wednesday. So, his family and the girls and I had a good time hanging out, and they were so helpful! I was blessed with so many helpers this summer! I am so grateful!
Sunday after church we were hanging out in the house and I was really missing Ben because I hadn't had much time with him since he first left for Texas and we had so much going on with the delivery and traveling. So, while we are all chatting in the family room I suddenly see a guy in our back yard and he comes up to the back door (which has a glass window). At first I think "Should I get the gun?" then I realize it's my scruffy mountain man come home early to surprise me!!! I was so happy I jumped up and ran to him! Then our friend Laura came in (who had driven him home from the airport).

On the left is a huge fountain at Fountain Hills that we took the Schultz to see. It's much bigger than it looks in the pic.
And Lois with Mercedes on the right :)

That week we went several times over to my In-law's time-share (where they were staying) and ate and watched movies and swam in the pool there. Rowan had a BLAST! She's such a water baby.  And we always have a good time when the Schultz come to town :)

After they left Ben left not long afterward, to be gone a week. It was kind of nice just the girls and me...for the first few days. We got a lot done and had a good time, then it started getting stressful because my milk started depleting and Mercedes was having a hard time taking the bottle at night, so I was up until 4 in the morning several times with a screaming baby, then up all day with an energetic and moody near-two year old. My patience was wearing VERY thin and I begged Ben to come home. I had planned on him being gone a week, but it ended up being just over a week and each day things were worse with my attitude and therefore Rowan's as well :( This time I was missing Ben because I really needed him. I needed him to help me with the girls not to mention my sanity. So Ben came home and we were all a pretty happy family again. Soon he started back to his usual job and then school and the summer was over all so fast. It was a great time. A memorable summer I will never forget (except those fuzzy parts, hehe). And at this point of Mercedes' life she was about 1 month old and already had over 2100 miles of traveling on her! Phew!

If you read all of that, wow, well done! Give me your address and I'll send you a prize! :)

Monday, October 17, 2011

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle.”

I know that I haven't posted or even finished my summer adventures part 3, but this couldn't wait.

My incredibly awesome, talented and inspiring friend Holly wrote a post on her blog referencing this post (CLICK HERE) from the Brave Girl's blog.

So, first you need to click ^ up there and read it. Really, go on. Read it. It will change your life!

For Holly's post CLICK HERE. She is a woman full of wisdom and ambition, and you should totally check out her blog.

I'm so grateful to Holly for sharing that link, and for Melody especially for sharing that story! For as long as I can remember my parents have well taught me to always give the benefit of the doubt. If someone was speeding past my Mother's car on the freeway she might say, "They're in a hurry. Maybe someone is about to have a baby." And I might say "Or their friend is in trouble." And it sometimes even became a game to come up with the most creative reason/excuse for their behavior. I've kept that with me for a long time, especially because it helps me feel better and not so judged by assuming that if I give others the benefit of the doubt in my mind, they will extend the same courtesy to me. Even if I might not deserve it. But I still need to work on it more. I'm still super far from perfect.

Here was my fault and problem though. I might have done that for almost everyone, but perhaps not for the most important people. My own small family.

As I read Melody's post I imagined my two year old daughter having a sign around her neck saying "I'm trying my best" or "I throw things because I'm frustrated and I can't even communicate that to you because I don't know all my words yet."

*Here come the tears rolling*

I was at fault in thinking that I knew and understood everything that my little family was going through because I'm here day after day, seeing it all. But I don't feel what Ben or Rowan or Mercedes feels. I can guess, but I (or anyone) never know how things effect others. For everyone it is different.

I need/want/must remember to be more patient, to not assume, and to 'see past what it seems' for my family and everyone else as well.

If everyone would encourage instead of criticize. Ask themselves "How can I help that person?" instead of forming an opinion about them, wouldn't that be the start of a perfect world?

Monday, October 3, 2011

Summer Adventures: Part 2 (Mercedes Birth Story)

Saturday, July 2nd, my cousin Dalein and her fiance Bryant planned on getting married in the Las Vegas, LDS temple. Most of our extended family were going to meet the day before, Friday, so the plan was for the family to leave Thursday, drive to Vegas, and the next day (Friday) Ben would fly in and I would pick him up at the Las Vegas airport.
From Vegas Ben, Rowan and I, as well as Mom and Tiffani, were going to travel down from Vegas to Arizona from the wedding in our two cars. Then wait out the two weeks together until the baby's (Mercedes) due date, or whenever she would be born.

That Wednesday (the day before we were supposed to leave for Vegas) at about 4 am in the morning I started to have contractions. I'd had plenty of them before, but these were about 10 minutes apart. Ummm, a little too close for comfort. About a week before I had also had contractions that close together and I called my midwife who told me to lay down and drink 32 oz of water. After I drank all the water and laid there for a while I felt them slow way down and went to bed. They seemed to behave after that.
So, this Wednesday morning I got up and got myself 32 oz of water again and laid on the couch in the family room at my parents house in Utah, watching movies on my computer. I told my body "You have 'till 7 am to change your mind, before I call Ben."

Ben was in Texas; still planning on flying into Vegas on Friday for the wedding.
I waited and waited. People started waking up in the house, and I stayed as still and calm as possible. Luckily the contractions didn't speed up, but they didn't slow down either. So, true to my word at 7 am I called Ben. Actually I called Paul's cell phone (his brother) because Ben's didn't have reception where they were. I briefly told Paul what was happening and he woke up Ben and put him on the phone.
"So you think you're in labor?" He asked me.
"I think so. I'm not sure that she'll be getting here today, but if not today, VERY SOON. You need to book a flight and get here as soon as possible."
In his groggy voice, "Okay, let me tell Paul. I'll call you later."
Those poor guys had been working 'till late at night so they really only got about 4 hours of sleep and had to head to the Dallas airport. Ben called me again later and said that they booked a flight but that it had a long layover in New Mexico and he wouldn't arrive until after 4 pm. Eeek! Was he going to make it?? We just had to wait and see.

All day I tried to slow down labor. I have no idea how to explain what I did to slow it down. All my life I have tried very hard to understand, and gain a specific kind of control over my body, so I'm very in tune to it. But it's hard to explain the things I did to try and control it with my mind. During a contraction I would not relax, but not tense up, kind of a standstill. So, it was kind of like the contraction couldn't go anywhere. Sounds very weird and mysterious I know. Call me crazy if you want, but hey, it worked. I was able to slow down the contractions to one per hour. So when Ben got there we actually thought that maybe we could still make it back to Arizona if we drove all night. I thought "Hey, if contractions are one per hour right now, it would just be 10-12 contractions and we're there!" Yeah, we might have been a little out of our minds at this point, LOL! I really wanted my midwife Ramona to deliver our baby because she delivered Rowan, she's awesome, and a great friend of ours. But I remembered that she was out of town that weekend anyway :(

We then realized we weren't going anywhere unless it was the hospital. So at that point I relaxed my body and welcomed labor. All that night was: sleep, contraction, sleep, contraction... Sometime after 3:30 am the contractions were so intense I even felt like I should push. I told Ben it was time to go and he got our stuff ready. As we were about to leave Mom got her stuff and we all left for the American Fork hospital. We got there and a woman led us up to labor and delivery.

It was so quiet, like no one was in there. I guess I was the only one laboring that night 'cause the girl at the desk was painting her nails, haha. I asked for the midwife on call, but she said that because I hadn't had pre-natal care in the area I had to have the Doctor. I hoped it was at least a woman (it's just my preference), and she told me it was. Yay. We got into triage and two nurses started attending to me. One who seemed to have been working in the field a little longer, was at the computer, the younger one came to check me. After several minutes of her "checking" me...digging around during contractions, causing them, and driving me crazy, she says "I think maybe, like a 7?" Right before that I was about to turn to the other nurse and say "Can you come do this, please?!" So I was a little put out by that, but whatever.

They moved me into a room and got me set up on the monitor to monitor the contractions. I was used to this from my labor at Mercy Gilbert (in AZ), but after about 20 minutes I was getting sick of laying there. I needed to walk! About this time we gave them my birth plan and they said they were waiting for the doctor. When she finally got there the nurses asked if I was allowed to get up and walk around and thankfully she said "Yes, let her do what she needs to." So I got up. I asked for a birthing ball, but when I tried it it was so deflated that it was hard to stay on, and I could barely get off it without falling, so I nixed that and just rocked my hips and leaned on Ben during contractions. After not very long, I felt like I needed to push, so we called the nurses and doctor in to break my water. The doctor said "Once we break your water everything will go very fast, so be ready." I was ready. I got situated on the bed the way I wanted to be for delivering and everything. All the nurses/doctor's instruments and clean up gear were laid out and ready. I asked Ben to say a prayer first and then we told the doctor to go ahead. She broke my water, the nurses cleaned everything up and suddenly the doctor was gone. The nurses cleaned a little and threw some stuff away and said "Let us know if you need us." and LEFT!


Mom was on my right, Ben on my left and I just turned to them and said "I don't get it? Where did everyone go?!"
Seriously we were all just stunned. Was I just supposed to deliver by myself? I'm sure I could if I had to, but I didn't really want to. I wanted a little coaching; a little help. Duh.
After a couple minutes Mom pushed the call button and said "Um, Crystal is ready to push. Can you come in here please?" The two nurses returned and Mom took the older one aside.
"Crystal doesn't feel like she's getting much help. Can you try and coach her through this?"
Nurse said "Oh yeah, sure. It's just when there's two people here to help we figure you just want to do it your way."
Whatever that meant.

But after that things went much better. They called the doctor in (who mostly just watched), and then the nurses actually started helping me. I decided on laying down to deliver, like I did with Rowan and they helped me through it all. There was a new nurse that was just coming on shift named Michelle (I think) and Ben said that she was the biggest help and everything really went smooth once she got there. I couldn't really say because once I was pushing I had my eyes closed and everyone's voice kinda sounded the same as they gave encouragement, so I didn't know who's was who's.
I think they said I pushed for like 10 minutes, but I'm not sure. I just remember thinking "I need a time frame to work with. Like tell me 10 more pushes, or 1 more hour, or something to work towards, not this endless strain." "How much longer?", and right then the doctor stood up (she had done nothing until this point, SO different from having a midwife) and she said:
"Okay Crystal, on this next push you can have a baby." I was so relieved. It was nearly over.
She said "But when I tell you to stop pushing, stop." I wasn't about to do anything I didn't want to unless I knew why, so I asked why. She said "To help keep you from tearing." Sounded good to me, so I agreed.
I pushed, she said stop, I stopped (it was SO hard to not push). Then she said "K, push." I did, and there she was. Beautiful little baby girl with lots of dark, dark hair. She was pretty purple too. Very normal, of course.

It had been such a hard pregnancy with the weight, the SPD, the next-to-no sleep every night, waking in pain everyday, exhaustion, etc. That being not-pregnant anymore was the best feeling in the world! I felt so light and relieved, agile and free (not to sound corny, but it's true). Ohhh, it felt so good! And I had a new little darling to love and hold!

For the next day and a half or so our new baby girl went without a name. At the end of the first day we toyed with a couple, but then Ben said "I have one I thought of, but I'm not sure you'll like it." I told him to tell me anyway. He said "Mercedes." At first I wasn't too sure. I kept thinking "that's a car." But then I thought of "The Count of Monte Cristo" one of my favorite books and I started to like it. It's a, old, classic European name. So we tried it out and at first it felt weird calling her anything but an endearing nickname like pumpkin or darling, but it grew on us and so she became "Mercedes Abilene Schultz". Abilene being the name of the town near where Ben had been working.

Rowan came later in the day to see her new baby sister and she was so sweet with her. She even seemed to understand that the baby had finally come out from my belly too. Pretty good for a girl her age.

Some of the differences in Rowan's birth and Mercedes' are like night and day. Contractions and labor with Mercedes was so much stronger and harder than Rowan's. I don't know if Rowan's was better because I had the water tub (I'm sure it helped), or Mercedes' was worse just because I had been trying to hold off labor for so long. Could be both.
With Rowan I had  Ramona (my midwife) there the whole time I was laboring at the hospital and when I delivered, she was there helping. With Mercedes the doctor came in 3 times. First to say hello and tell me I could walk around (then she went somewhere to go back to sleep, I heard a nurse say), second to break my water, and third to 'catch' the baby. It seemed very impersonal. The delivery nurse, when Rowan was born, helped Ramona, and helped coach me, and was there the whole time as well. As you can tell from my description that these nurses, for the most part, were not so helpful. Another thing was that they took Mercedes away to get her all checked out and bathed (which Ben was not allowed to do). At Mercy they did everything in the delivery room and let Ben bathe Rowan right there. I think the only time Rowan left our room was for her hearing check.
So many times during the labor, delivery, and afterward I thought "I wish I was at Mercy Gilbert." No offense to AF hospital, or the nurses there, but honestly my experience was really a 5 star rating at Mercy Gilbert (in AZ) and with AF not so much. I do have to say though, that the rest of the staff at AF were much better in the following days, than the ones in the beginning. Especially the night-shift nurses that brought us so many snacks and were so kind. Also, the pediatrician that we met with went far and beyond his call of duty. Even came in very early on his day off so we could be discharged in time to (hopefully) make it to Dalein's wedding (read more about that in Part 3). And the Social Services guy that came in to check on us. We told him we didn't have a carseat yet to take her home in and he even called around to get us a discount on a nice used one. Very kind. And the food may have been just a little bit better than at Mercy, but Mercy's was still pretty good :)
The discharge, explanations, and monitoring of diapers and feedings was more thorough at Mercy though. 
But all in all everything went well, and I'm grateful for all the help we received from the hospital staff to my Mom and Tiffani watching Rowan while Ben and I stayed at the hospital. And now we have a beautiful, healthy baby girl, who is now 3 months old and a big chunk ;) We love her.
Here's some pictures of the journey.

 The last picture of her in my belly.
This is right when they gave her to me. Right after this picture I put my left hand up towards her face and her little hand grasped my finger!
 Exhausted. And rightfully so.

 Getting all checked out.
 She was not too happy about this.

 Sweet big sister.

 Just a big swollen mama. Really, this is not how I normally look, I'm just huge from labor and pregnancy.

Mom, Dad, Mike and Tiffani all came to visit. Thanks!

Part 3 coming next, about our trip to Vegas two days after Mercedes was born.

Summer Adventures: Part 1

My last post was in April???!!! Oh boy, so sorry.
Well, we sure have been busy, and I'll have to break this up into several posts so it's readable.

Just before school ended we went to the Schnepf Farms Peach Festival and picked peaches! So fun, and the ripe, sun warmed peaches were delicious like you couldn't believe. A fruity bite of sunshine, yum!

Standing in line for pancakes with peaches on top. Rowan wanted to try on my earrings :)

Beautiful peacocks, and they flaunted it for us.

Rowan with the pigmy goats.

She loved it!

Picking peaches! Big 'ol me in the background. 


So, after school got out, towards the end of May, Ben got a call from his brother Paul letting him know that if he would like a job for the summer, then he had work for him in Texas. Paul works in oil. Ben started gearing up to go out to Texas, but being an uncomfortable pregnant woman with a near-two  year old to take care of, I told him I could not manage alone in Arizona for most of the summer. So the family packed up that weekend and drove to Utah to stay at my parents house.

Mind you this is Labor Day weekend, and my due date was July 16th...and we'd be there for at least a month.The plan being to get back home about 2 weeks before the due date.

Ben left the following Monday and Rowan and my pregnant self stayed with Mom, Dad, Grandpa, Hermana Mary (Grandpa's wife), and Tiffani, at the home-sweet-home I grew up in. We had such a great time seeing old friends and catching up with so much family that live up there. I even got to go to Dalein and Lecith's ballet recital (my twin cousins), and Dalein's bridal shower.

Did you know that when you get pregnant and have a baby some of your brain matter comes out too? It's true. I know this because I can barely remember anything anymore. So, honestly I don't remember a whole lot about the first few weeks there.

I do remember that I ate lots of good food and got to see lots of my good 'ol friends! My good friend from high school Jessica Clegg met me for some delicious dinner at Zupas Cafe (if they don't get a Zupas soon in AZ I might have to move back to UT just for that ;). We also went to Subzero and had ice cream, and man was I full! Especially with my majorly pregnant self. But Jess and I had a great time catching upRowan and I also met Andrea and her two adorable girls at the splash pad in Highland and had a great time there. Rowan played in the water a little at first, but seemed to like being wrapped up in a warm towel a little more. But Gea's (Andrea) girls really loved the water and were so brave about going anywhere to play in it! It was really fun. I got to hang out with my cousins several times and loved it. I also got to hang out with Cherelle (who I used to work with at Zion Ponderosa) and she even organized a get together with Becca and Courtney that we worked with as well. So awesome to get to see my old friends! Thanks for meeting up with me everyone!
Oh, and I can't forget that we also spent an evening with Morgan and her family, plus her in-laws. She was in Highland while her parents were out of town and we got to hang out :)
I know there were more people I saw and if I didn't mention you, I'm sorry. It's all getting fuzzy now. But thanks again, all the same :)
Rowan and Lexi (Morgan's little girl), and Rowan at the splash pad.

Rowan got pretty spoiled while we were there, it's true. And she loved every minute of it. Her Great Grandpa and Hermana Mary really doted on her and loved having her spunky self around. I thought surely they'd get sick of her from some of the tantrums she was throwing, but they still lavished her with attention and love. He'd take Rowan outside to the garden or to work on the yard. She would give Rowan whatever she wanted to eat or play with. And their enthusiasm at her presence was a gift in itself.

Great-Grandpa sharing his breakfast with Rowan, and Hermana Mary hiding in on the couch ;)

Of course Grandpa and Grandma (my parents) were the same as well. They loved having their red-head granddaughter there to play with and spoil. She got several new toys (mostly for the journeys we had to make in the car on our way back home). Rowan loved when we went to Uncle Mike and Aunt Mia's house to play with her two cousins Rebecca and Emma. Or when they would come to Grandma's house to play. Now when Rowan watches videos of her playing with them she says "Caca" (Becca) and "Amma" (Emma). I know she misses them. I got video of them playing together, but not pictures, sadly.

Rowan also got her first haircut while we were in Utah. Ben's Aunt Gail, who is one of the sweetest people you will ever meet, has a little salon in her basement and gave Rowan her first haircut. It turned out so cute! And Rowan did really well watching "puppies" (101 Dalmatians) during the cut. She also trimmed my and and put in some red and light brown highlights in my hair and it turned out perfect. Just what I wanted! But I didn't get any pictures of mine, just Rowan's.

While we were there Ben came to spend two different weekends with us, on his "time off." He had been gone about three weeks the first time he came back and since he'd been working out in the bush he had a ton of gruff on his face, like a mountain man, and Rowan was pretty distant with him, Hahaha. She still went to him after a little bit, but I don't think she talked to him at all that weekend. The next time he came for his time off she wasn't stand-off-ish, and talked to him some.
Of course she was back to normal with him when he flew back for Mercedes birth.
To be continued in Part 2...