Sunday, August 28, 2011

Swimming In Spanish Fork

On Saturday I went to Utah County with my family to help Jessica move to BYU for Fall Semester.  After dropping her things off at her apartment, we drove to Spanish Fork and picked up Cafe Rio to eat at Ryan and Jennie's house.  Then we went to the Spanish Fork pool with Clara and Emma.  It was such a perfect day for swimming - super hot and sunny.  My mom bought Clara this darling bathing suit and hat combo at Gymboree while we were in Texas in May.

Grandma Cici had a fun time watching her girls play in the pools.  Clara cracks me up in this picture.  She's like, "seriously mom, another hat?"
Clara was modeling her new suit and the sunglasses that Aunt Jennie let us borrow.  I love the hands on the hip pose, even if the glasses were a little askew.
 What a cool cat.
 Hanging out with grandma on the side of the pool.

The Spanish Fork Community Pool isn't fancy, but it has some nice play features for kids.  There is a splash area too that we didn't get a photo of, but Emma loved running through the streams of water that shot up from the ground.
Jessica was showing Emma how to blow bubbles.  One of Jessica's mission buddies came with us for the day.  She is really awesome and it is not just because we share the same name.
I love these girls.
 That orange hair!  Oh my goodness, I just melt.
Clara was really funny about swimming this time.  The previous times I have taken her swimming, she hasn't seemed to have an opinion about it one way or the other.  This time she finally warmed up a little bit and splashed and kicked and smiled.

New Look

This week I dyed my hair.  Dark.  Quite dark, in fact.  You know when Ashley (The Bachelorette) was on The Bachelor and she was blond and then when she was The Bachelorette she was brunette?  Its pretty much like that.  (And yes, it is very embarrassing to admit that I watch that show.)  I wanted a dramatic and drastic change and so I just went for it. 

Oh, and I got bangs for the first time in over a decade.  That was a HUGE decision for me because I despised my bangs all through elementary school, jr. high and high school.  Seriously, they were the bane of my existence and I remember once telling my mom that I wanted to grow my bangs out when I was probably in 8th grade:  she said that she thought my forehead was too high to go without them.  I know she didn't mean that in a mean way, but that one comment affected my self-image for years.  I would say that the biggest moment of defiance in my life was when, as a college freshman, I decided to go against my mother's advice and grow out the unsightly fringe anyway.  I'm a rebel, I know.  Incidentally, so far I am really happy with the decision to go with bangs again - they make it a lot easier to do my signature swoop to cover my widow's peak. 

Anyway, I am still not entirely sure how I feel about the dark color after being light for so long.  I told Paul that I feel like my overall look is "sexier" (why did I just blush typing that on the blog?) now that it is dark (a la one of the participants on The Bachelor) but that I feel like I looked cuter when it was lighter.  My hair looks shinier and sleeker and less frazzled now.  Part of the driving force behind the change was that I was sick of the upkeep that comes with heavy blond highlights and am hoping that once the dark fades a bit (which is typical) that my hair will be closer to its natural color, which is is either a light brown or a dark blond. 

Honestly though, and some people might guess or ask this, another reason I wanted to go darker with my hair color is because of Clara.  I am not sure to what extent she influenced my decision, but it was at least something I thought about beforehand.  It does not bother me that people look at us and say knowingly that Clara must have gotten her hair from her dad (sort of true - she got her hair from her birthfather, but he is not her dad).  I have no qualms with my daughter not resembling either me or Paul, even if other people might think she looks one or the other of us.  But I wonder if at some point in her life it will matter to her.  I guess I just wanted to know what it might feel like to have the hair color that she is going to grow up with. 

And I feel like I have already learned some interesting things.  See, my mom and both of my sisters have blond hair - very naturally blond.  I have always had darker hair than any of them, but when I came home with my hair noticeably much darker than it ever has been before, I felt a distinctness from them that I have never previously felt.  It made me wonder about if and when Clara will feel a similar distinctness.  If she will ever feel her adoption, if that even makes any sense.  We are going to do our very best to help her understand where she came from and who she is and how very special that makes her.  Clara will grow up knowing her K (who, incidentally, has hair that is very similar in color to my own prior to the dark dye job) and how important and wonderful she is.  We want Clara to know that she is adopted and we want to dispel any stigmas about adoption, which is another reason why I like to blog about these sorts of issues and why I admit that I don't have all the answers to questions about adoption.  I think that every family that is created through the miracle and blessing of adoption just has to deal with these things as they arise. 

Anyway, I am still getting used to my new reflection in the mirror and I'm not sure how long I will stick with the darker look.  I don't pull it off as well as Clara does.  :)  But for now I am digging the bangs and am going to enjoy the novelty of being a brunette for the first time in my life.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Clara Jane at 3 months old

Our darling Clara turned 3 months old a week ago and I am just now getting around to writing her monthly update.  I have had a number of friends do similar posts for each month of their childrens' first year and that is why I am trying to stay on top of this.  I want to be able to look back and see how she has changed so much over such a short period of time and never forget this amazing time.

Clara started rolling over a couple of weeks ago and she does it all the time now.  Often we can't even lay her on her back without her trying to flip herself over.  She is a little pro at it, only she gets stuck on her tummy and hollers when she can't flip back over onto her back.  She knows how to flip onto her back, I think that she just doesn't like to flip that way like she likes to flip onto her tummy and would rather just have mom or dad do it for her. 

Clarabelle seems to be the nickname that is really sticking, even though we still like her other nicknames and use them all the time. 

She loves "Eensy, Weensy, Spider" and "Patty Cake".  She also loves it when I hold her up over my head in a Superman pose and then bring her down to my face and give her kisses.  She gets a huge full-face grin when I do this and tries to slobber me with open mouth kisses every time.  It is a good workout for my arms, although I usually get drooled on.

Clara probably smiles more for me but she talks more for Paul.  I'm  not sure why that is, but she seriously gets really vocal whenever Paul gets home from work and it is so awesome to watch the two of them together.  I'm smiling just thinking about it.  She has really strong legs and likes to "stand" and look around while we hold her hands.  She flaps her arms so fast that it is often hard to get a photo of her without blurry arms.

Clara likes to try to watch TV.  Whenever it is on and she is awake, she is constantly straining her neck to catch a glimpse of the screen.  I usually try to either block her view, or just watch stuff when she is sleeping because I read in a book that watching TV before the age of 2 is bad for a child's mental development.  We'll see how long my resolve lasts on this issue, because Clara is seriously entranced by the TV and the fall season of Survivor is starting up pretty soon.  :)

She still wakes up once or twice a night to eat but she goes right back to sleep.  Clara takes 2 morning naps and 2 afternoon naps.  I swaddle her for all of her naps and nighttime sleeping except for her first morning nap because usually she just falls asleep on her blanket in the living room after playing while I am eating my breakfast and getting ready to go to the gym. 

Her hair is 2 1/2 to 3 inches long now and she hasn't lost any of it.  I am getting very used to having total strangers interrupt my shopping, meals, hand-washing in the ladies' room, church, etc. to comment on how beautiful our baby girl is.  So far, it hasn't gotten old.  I can put it in pigtails and ponytails, but usually I just let it do its own crazy thing.

Clara is tolerating her carseat much better than she used to and she is grabbing at all sorts of things now, especially brightly colored toys, her bottle, and my face and hair. 

At night we try to always say prayers and read scriptures with Clara and then I sing "I Love To See The Temple" and "I Am A Child Of God" to her before putting her to sleep.  Sometimes I take her for walks by myself and tell her about each of the people who love her, especially her K, and about all the things I want for her in life (to attend BYU, to fall in love, to travel the world, etc.).   
We love our sweet, fun, hilarious, smart, happy, goofy little girl.  I love how she cuddles close up when she is sleepy or her tiny round-mouth yawns.  I love how strong she is getting even if it means I have to fight to keep the bottle in her mouth sometimes because she is strong enough to push it away without realizing what she is actually doing.  We can't get enough of the precious, amazing daughter of ours. 

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

A Homecoming, Introductions, and a Birth

Okay blog-readers, brace yourselves for an onslaught of photos because I was up until midnight last night just trying to get these loaded into a post and then couldn't finish because I was exhausted and the formatting was all off so I just gave up for the night.  But I know there are a number of people out there who would like to see this pics so forgive me for the excessive images.

Last Friday, August 19, Clara turned 3 months old!  I still want to do a post about her 3-month-oldness but I am behind for reasons that will soon be apparent.  We got up early Friday morning and Paul drove us to the airport where I had to pay $50 extra because my one bag was way over the weight limit.  I was a little intimidated to be flying by myself with Claradactyl, but turns out when you have a daughter as darling as Clara and with that much hair, pretty much every person in the airport from other passengers to flight attendants to security screeners will offer to help you in any way they possibly can.  Checking in was easy-peasy, security was a breeze, and the flight itself was a piece-o-cake (Clarabelle snoozed the entire time except for a quick layover in Reno when she giggled and grinned at all the other passengers as they disembarked, which caused a major traffic jam in the aisleway, and we stayed seated for the second leg to Salt Lake). 
When we got to the airport, there were some pretty excited grandparents waiting to see our little Clara-girl.
We had two hours to kill before Jessica's flight got in, so we went to a nearby office park and found a picnic table where we ate sandwiches from Kneaders (my favorite sandwich place in the whole world) that my mom had brought.  Clara slept some more.
When we got back to the airport, my mom fed Clara a bottle while we waited for my very pregnant (at the time) sister Jennie to show up with her family.
Jennie and Ryan showed up with their little girl Emma just a little before Jessica's flight (which was delayed) arrived.  This was the first time Clara got to meet her Aunt, Uncle and Cousin.
Emma (the little carrot-top) was a bit unsure about our wee Clara to start out, but she warmed up to her really fast.
Clara FINALLY got to meet one of the aunts I have been telling her all about for months now.
When Emma warms up to someone, she REALLY warms up to them.  It wasn't long before she was kissing Clara and hugging her as much as she could.  It was darling.
Here is a photo of the entire group.  There was one other family there waiting for a missionary to come home from Uruguay as well, so we took turns snapping pictures for each other.
I love my dad in this photo.  He seriously cracks me up.  It reminds me of that movie, "Say Anything," from the 80's with John Cusack.  My poor sister Jennie had been told by her doctor that she was NOT to go to the airport because it was more than an hour away from the hospital and she was already dilated to a 4 and 100% effaced at this point, but she was determined not to miss the reunion with Jessica or meeting Clara.  Jennie even came to stay at my parents house Friday night but had to leave at 4:30 in the a.m. when her contractions were 5 minutes apart.  They made it to the hospital just fine and baby Lily was born at 12:32 p.m. on Saturday (about 22 hours after this photo was taken).  Lily, thank you for waiting.  Jennie, thank you for being so awesome.  Seriously, I can't tell you how much it meant to me to see you BEFORE Lily was born and to be there to hold her within hours of her birth.
And then Jessica was there!  18 months of missing this girl and it was so good to see her coming down the escalator.  We all love her so much.  She is seriously the funnest person.
I let my mom have the first hug.  Because it is her birthday month and she is the mom after all.
I would say that my dad is more than a little proud of this girl.
Clara REALLY got to meet her Aunt Jessica once we got home and Jess changed into comfy clothes and could have some quality time with her newest niece.
We have a super cute family.  I'm just sayin'...
My aunts Renita and Judy came over with my grandparents, Lewis and Vivian, later in the afternoon to see Jessica and to meet Clara.  I love these girls too!
My grandma (Clara's great-grandma Vivian) recently had knee surgery and is also struggling with Alzheimer's.  But she kept exclaiming about that "cute baby" with "all that hair"!
Wow, and all that was just FRIDAY! 

On Saturday, I woke up expecting to go get pedicures with Jennie (her belated birthday present) only to find that she and Ryan had skedaddled early that morning.  Instead, we hung out on pins and needles all morning until we received word that Lily Katherine Horne was born.  She was 19 inches long and weighed 7 lbs, 4 ounces.  She has a good amount of blond hair, a long pink tongue, and perfect little feet.  I think that she looks like me in my baby pictures but so far no one has corroborated that.
Sorry for the blurriness of some of these photos.  All I had was my iPhone.  I had brought the nice camera but was so excited that I left it in the car when we got to the hospital.  Lily was just a few hours old here and she is SO precious.  Clara is HUGE by comparison, which is freaky because she was this same size just 3 months ago.
Grandpa Russ and Grandma Cici with their granddaughters, Emma (21 months), Clara (3 months), and Lily (6 hours).
Sunday we got all dressed up and went to church. 
Emma and Clara played together afterwards.  This is one of my very favorite outfits of Clara's - it was a gift from one of Kayli's relatives that was given to us when Clara was born. 
My mom enjoys having "concerts" with Clara using this little toy that I bought before Clara was born.  I had it with me in Texas when my mom was staying with me right after Clara's birth and they would have concerts while I was out grabbing dinner or getting ready in the mornings.  Clara is fascinated by the music and the flashing lights.
I love this photo of me with my niece Emma.  This girl is a riot.  She was so brave to stay with her grandparents and aunts for almost 4 days while her mama and daddy were busy in the hospital bringing her baby sister into the world.  Each night me, Jessica, and my mom would sing Emma to sleep while she bravely swallowed tears (seriously, she would frown and chew her little lips in an effort not to cry).  Each morning Emma would wake up with the mantra "mama! daddy! home! YAY!" and we would say "soon, Emma, soon."  She did awesome and we had a lot of fun together during these days.
Sunday afternoon, Clara and I went to Alpine to have dinner with Paul's family.  Clara got to meet great-grandpa and grandma Robertson.
She also got to reconnect with her cousin Colton, who she met at Huntington Lake this summer when she was 5 weeks old.

This was one of the busiest, craziest weekends I have experienced in a LONG time.  We have had so much fun, only Clara and I are missing Paul SO MUCH.  We really wish that he could be out here with us.  But we have been skyping at night and texting photos and videos back and forth to each other in the meantime. 

Whew, that was a marathon blog post.  Now, time for bed!