Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Holidays: a big long catch up post

The end of 2011 just flew right by, didn't it? We celebrated the merry and bright of the Holidays surrounded with family. It was wonderful to be close to our loved ones this year. BD and I didn't quite make it through all of our 12 Dates of Christmas, but even still we were able to take our Holiday Togetherness to a whole new level. Worth it, I say! Here's a bit of a catch up post, mostly so I can record that these things happened.

Christmas Eve at the Richman Home
This will likely be the last Christmas Eve at the home of my childhood. Sometimes change is good, but sometimes change makes me weepy. This is the home where I crept up the stairs to discover the magic of Santa Claus. This is the home where my Grandmother sat in the rocking chair and recited Luke II from memory every Christmas Eve. This is the home where we have chocolate fondue and listen to Mannheim Steamroller's Silent Night by the twinkle of white Christmas tree lights. This year we admired new tattoos on our very own Marine, read aloud a new Christmas book from Mom, performed our own choral of the bells, had a surprise visit from a long lost brother :), and snuggled on the couch next to the fire.

Christmas Day at the Duncan's
We started our Christmas morning by attending a beautiful music worship service in the Avenue's. We then headed straight to the Duncan's for a yummy brunch. As a family we attended church together and then came home to open presents. Watching Cody and Ellie open gifts was really the highlight of our whole Christmas. They were darling! We gave them each their own Tickle Monster kit. Cody was the first to try it and he giggled sweetly as his dad tickled him, just as we hoped he would. Oh, to hear a child laugh! Ellie was all business about opening presents. She wore a furrowed brow and tore through each present with serious intent. She would sweep it off the table and was ready for the next. We could hardly get her to crack a smile in between. That girl was on a Christmas mission. It was adorable!
Russ & Jana's Wedding
Over the Christmas break BD's little brother was married to his sweetheart Jana. It made for a cRaZy Christmas vacation, but was really the perfect day in the end. BD keeps saying, "I can't believe Rusty is married!" We're entirely happy for these two. They are the perfect compliment to one another. Grandma and Amy came for the wedding and we loved spending time with them. It was wonderful to finally meet Jana's family and share this event all together. The whole day was beautiful. Russ made his own Lego cake topper which totally redeemed my second (and maybe last) feeble attempt at a wedding cake. Dan played his guitar and harmonica and sang at the reception. We ate it up, and love to hear him play. I completely teared up when Russ and Jana waltzed together while her family serenaded them.*sigh*

New Year's Eve
A totally low-key night in my pajamas, and just what we needed. I even took a long nap in the afternoon to ensure I could last until midnight :). Tom and Todd came up and we ordered Indian take out from Bombay House. I'm so happy this baby loves Indian food. Then we played Monopoly! Tom bankrupted us all. No surprise. I've never played Monopoly with Tom when he hasn't bankrupted me. BD whipped up some mocktails which reminded us of yester-years when we loved to host a big New Year's Eve bash. Moving into a new chapter of life, we went to bed that night in the wee hours of the brand new year, each of us with a hand on my growing belly and whispered our love to this baby girl. 2012 really is the year of the baby. Pinch me.

I think we're supposed to be making a "12" here. But clearly, we've had too much to drink ;)

What's in a Year?

On January 1, 2011 we arrived back home after spending two beautiful weeks in Brazil. The following 364 days have been some of the most exciting, devastating, and yet blessed days of my whole life. This entire year has been focused around nothing other than getting pregnant. Let's recap shall we? This is my cliff notes version of how I got pregnant. But for the record, I could write a novel.
On January 2nd we started our first round of IVF with daily injections. Ouch! I must really want to get pregnant. We blogged about Brazil. I traveled for work and by some miracle was able to give myself 6 shots. I really wanted a medal for that. Three weeks later we had to cancel that cycle because my body did not respond to the hormone treatment. I cursed my stupid body. I was released from Young Womens and called to teach Relief Society. I cried some.
In February I tried to relax, focus on early morning piano lessons, and just be present in what was happening in the world around me. I was desperately trying to catch myself from slipping further into depression. I turned 29 and tried not to think about it. BD surprised me with a new oven! I dove headstrong into work. Harder. Faster. Longer. BD was a trooper.
In March I baked up a storm. It was therapeutic. March was also all about second chances and we tried our hand at another round of IVF. BD had to travel for work and I volunteered my neighbor friend (bless her!) to give me daily injections. Different protocol. I went batsh*t crazy from the hormones. Don't pretend you didn't notice. On the last day of the month we had two surviving embryos implanted. We were 100% certain this was going to work.
In April Tom and Todd stayed with us and pampered me on my sick days. The pregnancy did not take. We were devastated. Everyone was devastated. I cursed my stupid body, again. BD biked a lot. I cried a lot. We got sucked into the Royal Wedding, if only for something to take our minds away. We heavily grieved the loss of an expectation. It was not the funnest month, per say.
In May BD whisked me away to Deer Valley over Mother's Day weekend for some R&R. I started tennis lessons with friends. BD traveled lots for work. We saw Les Miserables. We focused on each other and did things that made us happy. I walked every morning with friends and it felt good. My body was slowly returning to normal. My emotional state was beginning to heal.
In June we went to San Diego and drove Bruce home. BD loves Bruce. It was a treat to sit by the ocean and hear the waves crash. BD went to Youth Conference and rafted the Bear River. Not quite ready to open ourselves up again to IVF just yet, we embraced Summerness in all it's glory.
In July we hosted a BBQ and it rained. BD ran the Bryce Canyon Half Marathon with his siblings and rocked it. We spent a weekend in Park City with friends and loved on their baby girl. It opened our hearts to think about IVF again. I started being aware of all the things that truly make me happy. It always helps to count your blessings.
In August BD went on the Scout 50 Miler and I prayed they wouldn't get struck by lightning. I started an acupuncture regimen for fertility. BD glued himself to everything Tour of Utah. Big sister got married, I made a wedding cake! We started round 3 of IVF. More hormones. More injections. More crazy. More mula. More hope, though.
On Labor Day, September 5th, we had another two embryos implanted. We were hopeful, of course, but more so certain that we were doing the right thing whatever the outcome would be. It is surreal to see your potential children through a microscope. You can't imagine how much love you feel for something you can barely see with a naked eye. On September 17th we received a call from the clinic confirming that I was pregnant. We couldn't believe it. In fact, I challenged the nurse on this fact and she had to reassure me several times that I really was pregnant. The numbers don't lie! In an instant our whole paradigm changed. 
In October BD turned 30, we had visitors from Germany, watched Ellie for a weekend, enjoyed campfires up the canyon, and celebrated our 8th wedding anniversary. But mostly we did nothing but think about, talk about, and revel in the newness of this pregnancy. BD became very protective of his new little family. I was tired and nauseous and doing my best to finish a full day of work. But we were oh so happy.
In November I spent a weekend at Sundance with girlfriends. We passed the 13 week mark and our Dr. gave us a thumbs up, the baby is strong, the pregnancy viable. I thank God everyday for my beautiful body and it's ability to sustain this little life. I love to check every pregnancy symptom off my list with pride. I want to feel it all. I don't take any of it for granted. We celebrated Thanksgiving with my family. We are indeed thankful for a miracle.
In December my belly started to pop out and I embrace my new curvier curves. BD is obsessed and wants to be touching my stomach at all times and in all places. I'm learning to embrace that, too. News of the baby is reaching far and wide, which is fun. We're happy to be spreading good cheer. It's only starting to become real. I began to feel the baby kicking and poking around inside. I love this feeling more than anything in the world. On December 30th at 19.5 weeks we found out the gender of Baby Duncan. We are thoroughly shocked, but elated just the same. Not that we wouldn't have been either way...

And that pretty much sums up our year. Two-thousand Eleven. The year of the pregnancy.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

All I want for Christmas...

...Is to feel this baby kick! And indeed I am feeling soft little kicks and pokes and ripples from my very own belly. It is unlike anything I have ever known before, yet so much better than anything I could have dreamed. I am so very much in love. 

Christmas Morning, an attempt at a family portrait before church
TheBradleeDuncan's are thrilled beyond words to be expecting our first baby in May. [Pause] I need a second for that sink in. [Play] Yes, a baby! In May! We are quite literally over the moon about this pregnancy. It is a miracle, a blessing, and without a doubt the greatest gift we've ever been given. For us, this Christmas feels especially sweet. Hope you don't mind, but there's about to be a whole lotta baby up in here. I have so much to say. Finally :). But first, we wish you a very Merry Christmas from our (growing) family to yours!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Twelve dates of Christmas: On our ninth date of Christmas...

...We had a Christmas Wrapping Party. Whether it was actually a party could be argued. I tend to make everything into a party to make it more appealing. Laundry folding parties. Paper organizing parties. We are all kinds of fun at our house :). Our Christmas Wrapping Party was a total success, in that all the presents got wrapped and BD got a treat at the end. Wrapping the gift is my favorite part of gift giving.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Happiness is

Watching the little ice skaters at Gallivan Center from my office window all day.
Not at all distracting, only a teensy bit adorable ;).

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Twelve dates of Christmas: On our eighth date of Christmas...

...We did a hot chocolate crawl in search of SLC's finest. We only made it to three places because after three cups of hot cocoa we were surprisingly hot-chocolated out. Who knew?

First stop, Nostalia Cafe. We ran into BD's car pool companion and he spotted us our first cup of the night, bonus. The atmosphere is pretty up-hippity, but they scored points for having the puuuurfect temperature of hot chocolate. Meaning no tongue scalding. They use real milk steamed with a sweetened cocoa powder, but the real upside was a shot of butterscotch. Overall a decent cup.
Next up we hit Caffe Niche. Hands down, they won the contest on presentation: a wide latte mug topped with whipped cream and a pretty chocolate syrup design. It was extra frothy too! I do love froth. Our waiter made a point to tell us they use Ghirardelli chocolate sauce. And actually, you could really taste a strong chocolate flavor. Overall, very very good.
Our last stop was Hatch Family Chocolates, which we expected to be our favorite and it indeed was. Their new digs are nice, but I actually think I prefer their former more cozy, impossibly crowded location. Nevertheless, the hot chocolate is pretty awesome. Zero points on presentation for a plain white paper cup and plastic lid, even for sit-down customers. But the taste was "silky and smooth" according to BD. I think I spotted a Guittard Chocolate syrup container behind the counter, evidence that they use a high quality product. Regardless, it was really delicious, perfectly warm, extra creamy, and ultra chocolatey. Ding ding ding!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Twelve dates of Christmas: On our seventh date of Christmas...

...We spent a beautiful evening at Sundance with NetDocuments. It's sort of like a second family, well, because lots of BD's co-workers are actual family! Right now, BD has the amazing privilege to work with his dad, and all his siblings. Yep, all three of them. Can you imagine? To top it off, he also gets to work with his uncle and numerous cousins. Oh, and also his best friend. Yeah. Plus, there are partners and other long time employees at ND that have known him practically his whole life, so they feel like uncles, or maybe just really big brothers :). I love to remind him how lucky he is!

Kissy face? Sure, let's roll with it.
Normally, we have a long and late night drive ahead of us after anything we attend down in the UC (Utah County, for those in the know). This time however, BD surprised me with a night at Sundance so we could stay put and extend our lovely evening up the canyon in a cozy cabin for two. He even started a real crackling wood fire that lulled me right off to sleepy land. He is simply the best. I repeat, THE BEST. This Christmas dating thing has turned out better than I could have imagined.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Twelve dates of Christmas: On our sixth date of Christmas...

...We celebrated Dan's December birthday at Moochie's along with the whole Duncan clan! The man loves his Philly cheese steaks, and you can't blame him, they are pretty darn delicious at this little local sandwich dive. BD's family is growing so quickly, we don't even fit at one table any more. Happy Birthday Dan!

The Birthday boy Dan & his beauty Alli
Everybody else + Jana's sister visiting from Virginia. Something about a wedding coming up ;)
No comment.
These two cousins love to give kisses, but it's impossible to photograph!
After the heartburn had settled, we then ventured over to The Grand America's toy store Jou Jou. It did not disappoint. The littles loved it sure enough, but so did the adults just the same. I was mesmerized at their amazing children's book collection and giddy about the unique toys and stuffed animals. If I'm ever having a bad day, I'll know straight where to head to cheer me up in a flash. The boys got sucked into a handheld game and it kept them occupied for a surprisingly looooong time. I need to tuck one of these into my purse for shopping excursions. That game, plus a little snack, could buy me an extra hour.
Big kids.
BD finally gets a win! Ryan looks on in envy.
I should also mention the gelato from La Bonne Vie, because, um...YUM. Sweet tooth is back!
My favorite moment of the night, watching Ellie and Cody completely enchanted by the display windows. Cody kept looking back at us, like, are you guys seeing this?? Also, can you even handle Ellie's chubby thighs? I simply cannot.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Twelve dates of Christmas: On our fifth date of Christmas...

...We took a wintry Sunday drive up Wolf Creek Pass. This is BD's happy place. 


Saturday, December 10, 2011

Twelve dates of Christmas: On our fourth date of Christmas...

...We fancied up for an evening at my work Christmas Party at Zermatt in Midway. It's not often that we attend events that request cocktail attire and the pleasure of our company to order pretty drinks from the bar, but it's real fun when we do!

And after two late nights in a row, this party animal could not keep her eyes open to save her life the following day.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Twelve dates of Christmas: On our third date of Christmas...

...We bundled up for the Nativity in the Glen, which is fast becoming a favorite neighborhood tradition. 
We walked down the candle lit path into Bethlehem,
 heard a choir of angels sing, 
 saw (and smelled) camels, donkeys, sheep, and goats, 
 smiled awkwardly from the side, 
witnessed the wise men bringing gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh, 
 and beheld Baby Jesus (or baby cheeses, whichever). 
 It was beautiful!

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Twelve dates of Christmas: One our second date of Christmas...

...We put together Christmas packages for some dear friends in Brazil. Sometimes I still can't believe that we were able to go on that trip. I also can't believe nearly one whole year has passed since then. When I think about all the incredible, inspiring, and sometimes horrifying things we saw, I am reminded of how lucky I am. But nothing tops the people that we met. I am forever humbled by the love and friendship we encountered while there. My memories of those sweet people will be with me forever and I hope we get to see them again. In the meantime, we send them our love with things like peanut butter.

One quick memory: Jailson took us to his home, and Brad told me that he lived in a really nice place which was more or less near a favela (shanty-town) but not in a favela. When we drove onto the bumpy dirt road leading to his building, I could see that his apartment was set aside from the dense favela and away from the main traffic road. However, my perception of the neighborhood didn't fully convince me that we were in a really nice place.
Jailson, with a fair amount of pride, gestured to a stray donkey grazing in the tall weeds and said "see, even the donkey thinks it's peaceful here." It was as if he had said, this place is so wonderful it is even good enough for donkeys. But all I could see was that a stray donkey was grazing on weeds in what was supposed to be a really nice place! My perception of the world as I saw it and my perception of the world as it really was received a huge wake up call that day.

Friday, December 02, 2011

Twelve dates of Christmas: On our first date of Christmas...

...We ordered Chinese take-out and decorated our Christmas tree(s). We tend to prefer spending Friday nights in, it's just our thing after a long work week. I became a little sentimental while unboxing our three little trees this year. Years ago we had purchased them in a trio from the clearance rack at Shopko on the day before Christmas because we suddenly realized we didn't have a tree. Such a newlywed thing to do, pshaw. I grew up always having a real pine tree in the house for Christmas, but living in an old high rise condo you learn to adapt to a few things like quirky electrical problems and elderly intolerance for pine needles in the elevator. I do love these little trees. Now our house feels warm and bright (and also smells like cashew chicken).

**Thank you to Naomi of The Rockstar Diaries for the Twelve Dates of Christmas idea which has provided a creative way to be intentional about our marriage this month. I'm thinking this is a new holiday tradition (but don't hold me to it). Sometimes I love blogland so much I want to hug it, this is one of those times.