Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Ghosts of Leap Days Past

I thought it would be interesting to try to figure out some of the details of the 8 Leap Days (or at least the time periods surrounding the 8 Leap Days) I have experienced in my (ahem) 31 years.

February 29, 2012: Working full-time at a large law firm as a litigator; feeling totally overwhelmed with my cases and clients and experiencing major burn-out; loving my smart, gregarious, supportive, handsome, and hard-working husband for all he's worth but feeling bad because I feel like I have leaned on him pretty hard in the past few months as I have struggled with this working-mom gig; feeling so lucky and blessed to have the most darling, happy girl in this world who clings to me with ferocity, laughs all the time, and who has just learned how to clap her hands; not loving the extra weight I am carrying around but haven't done a thing about since I barely have time to do the basics of life (get dishes washed and laundry folded) let alone engage in a weight-loss regimen.

February 29, 2008: Studying hard as a second-year law student at BYU's J. Reuben Clark School of Law; Paul rides the bus to school early every morning and gets home late, at which point we forego studying and instead watch tv shows like "Lost" or go for walks in South Provo where we were living and debating whether it would ever be financially possible for us to live in California; I had not yet started the blog and instead spent lots of time reading Twilight and fooling around on Goodreads; missing Germany where we had lived the summer before and conniving ways to travel to exotic places again; having fun having my sister Jessica living in Provo as a Freshman and worrying about my sister Jennie who was planning a wedding from BYU-Idaho (I was much too protective and not very supportive of her during a time that was very exciting for her and when she probably wanted me to excited for her, which I am ashamed of to this day).

February 29, 2004: I was fairly recently returned missionary who was newly engaged, planning a May wedding, and living in a house south of BYU campus with some great girls (5 of the 6 of whom were also returned missionaries); I worked as a teacher at the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah preparing mostly 19-24 year old men and women to go all over the world and be missionaries; Paul and I were practically inseparable even though we weren't married yet and we ate most of our meals together and were taking a dance class together; I was doing the Finance core at BYU.

February 29, 2000: I was a lowly college sophmore who had moved back into the dorms after a miserable fall semester off-campus; I remember feeling friendless when I moved back to the dorms and embarassed to be around all the freshmen--like I had failed at living off-campus--but I had my own tiny private room that was scarcely the size of a closet in Deseret Towers (now demolished) and I poured myself into German and Calculus classes and running on the BYU indoor track; I took up swing dancing and went to dances every weekend by myself where I stood against the walls and watched the other dancers until I learned enough of the basics to start dancing myself and asking some of the guys who seemed to be willing to teach if they would help me learn; I didn't know it, but Paul and I were in the same ward that met in the Law building where I would eventually obtain my graduate degree and he had been eyeing me for two months trying to get up his courage to talk to me.

February 29, 1996: I was sophmore in high school and bored out of my mind in North Platte, Nebraska; I had no friends and still hadn't heard of email at that point to keep in touch with my friends from Southern California where I had moved from the year before; I joined the track team since no other extra-curricular program would have me and I spent February training for distance races where I always came in last place; I took my sisters to the local rec center just down the street from our house many times a week so that we could swim at the indoor pool or sit in the sauna together.

February 29, 1992: (It is getting hard to remember what was happening now that we are this far back...) I was 11 years old and pretty much the only thing I did of note other than elementary school was I participated in a singing and dancing group and I think I was busy with rehearsals for the musical "Annie," where I played a hobo and a maid; I had one line in the play and I remember the director getting frustrated with me for always smiling while I was onstage as a hobo and her telling me that I was supposed to look downtrodden when I delivered my only line ("My fingers is freezin'!") instead of gleeful, but I was just so excited to be performing that I smiled like a dimwit every time.

February 29, 1988: Not a clue what was going on in my 7-year old life other than that I was living in Omaha, Nebraska and my best friends were Toby Meusberger (who the means kids at school would call "Toby the Tuba" since he was chubby) and Jenny Wood (who lived next door to me and whose mom I still email on occasion although Jenny and I haven't talked since I went to her high school graduation in Sioux Falls, South Dakota in 1999, although we are FB friends at least).

February 29, 1984: Are you kidding me? I was 3 and I had an older brother and a younger brother who I probably terrorized and bossed around.

Phew, that was an exercise in recall. Happy Leap Day.

P.S. An amazing friend of mine (who also happens to be an adoptive mama) is involved with a volunteer organization that is looking for volunteers to go to Honduras to spend some time working in an orphanage. If you or anyone you know is interested, you can learn more about the opportunity (which sounds amazing) on her blog: http://fyionrachandry.blogspot.com/2012/02/i-need-your-help.html.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Visit from Grandma Cici

My mom flew out to see us (well, mostly Clara as she told me more than once) over the long Presidents' Day weekend.  She got here on Thursday evening, which was great because it meant she got an entire day of one-on-one time with Clara while Paul and I were at work on Friday.  They went for a walk, Clara took naps, and my mom read books to Clara. 

I had to do some work on Saturday morning, but we were able to spend the afternoon shopping.  Paul worked outside in the yard the whole time since the weather was so perfect and my mom and I helped with the weeding in the backyard too.  I despise weeding and felt bad that my mom was weeding our yard for us, but she said that she doesn't mind weeding so much and the weather was really beautiful. 

On Sunday after church, we drove over to Santa Cruz.  It was way breezier and colder than I had anticipated, but luckily Paul had brought an extra jacket for himself so after putting Clara in her own jacket we zipped her up in Paul's extra jacket then wrapped her in a blanket to keep her warm.  Only her little face poked out. 

We couldn't believe how many surfers were out on the water.  My  mom counted 80 surfers just out in the bigger swells, which didn't include the big groups closer in toward shore where the waves are smaller.

On Monday, we decided to go up to St. Helena in the Napa/Sonoma area.  Wine country is absolutely beautiful, even with the totally bare winter vines.  My mom had never been there before and we all felt like a drive would be nice, so we headed out after Clara's morning nap.  I had to send some emails on my blackberry for work later in the day but for the most part I was off the hook for the first time in a while, which was nice. 

We stopped at Gott's Roadside, in St. Helena, for lunch.  They have the most amazing food there and the line was crazy, but totally worth it.  We ordered burgers, onion rings, a California Club sandwich, and chocolate and strawberry milkshakes, which sounds greasy and heavy but Gott's has a surprisingly fresh and organic approach to burger-type places.  Incidentally, I know that Gott is just a family name for the restaurant, but I can't get over the idea that the german translation is "God's Roadside."

We actually backtracked to this field of mustard flowers where loads of people were taking photos.  Clara had fallen asleep at this point so she didn't make the family portrait, which my mom took of us.  The fragrance was a heady weedy/floral one and it was thick in the field.  I made Paul take a video of me "frolicking" but I'm not posting it here since it turned out kind of dumb.  In one take, I was attempting to twirl in the flowers but I kept tripping up on the plants and falling over.  Paul joked that it looked like I had imbibed too much on Napa's famous wine. 

It was so sad to drop my mom off at the airport on Tuesday morning so she could go back to Utah.  Clara kept looking around for her that evening and was really excited to see her again when we Skyped.  I can't wait for her to come back out again this summer with my sister and nieces!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Clara Jane at 9 months old

At nine months old, Clara is so much fun to be around. She plays, she cuddles, she laughs, she stands, she is spunky. Her bedtime is around 7:30 each night and she usually wakes up the next morning around 7:00. She stands up all the time by holding on to the wall or a couch or a chair, and she has been even standing without anything to hold on to for up to three seconds at a time before plopping back down on her bum. We are guessing that she will try walking independently within the next month, but for now she just loves to hold onto our fingers and sort of dive forward in a loping stroll around the house with mom or dad.

Clara's hair is so long that it is constantly in her eyes unless I pull it back from her face into a high half ponytail or something as soon as she wakes up.  She has bangs right now - not because we cut them or anything but just because she has a fringe of baby hair growing in front that is a lot shorter than what she was born with.  When I pull her longer hair back, it leaves her with a cute little fringe in front.

In the course of just a few weeks, Clara cut her four front teeth - two on top and two on the bottom. The bottom two came first and the top two are barely through, but all four of them are definitely visible now and super sharp when she chomps down on our fingers. Teething has made her a little fussier than usual, but nothing too bad and we have only felt like she needed baby Tylenol a couple of times when they were obviously hurting her and making it so she couldn't sleep.  The doctor said that we need to be sure to brush those little pearly whites each day now and is giving us a flouride supplement since San Jose doesn't put flouride in the water.

Clara has her own language. She says "gully-gully-gully" a lot when she has her pacifier in her mouth but is trying to talk to us. Her other main word is "bah-bah-bah" which she repeats emphatically over and over like she is actually telling us a story. If we say "bah-bah-bah" back to her, we can have a decent conversation that seems to have meaning to her. Another word of hers is "gnmmmmmm! gnmmmm!!" which seems to mean "give [whatever it is she wants] to me! now!" like when she wants dinner or a particular toy or to be read to.

Speaking of reading, Clara is obsessed with a set of books that my mom recently brought for Clara. There are four board books, each one dealing with a particular word: "Who," "What," "When," or "Where," and Clara cannot get enough of them. In the past, Clara only wants to chew on books or play with them like toys instead of sitting on my lap and looking at the pictures and listening to me read, but with these books she is rapt through all four of them as I read them back to back. Clara giggles when I pull her onto my lap with the books, the wiggles her little bum and settles back against my chest in an "I'm ready mom, start reading" position. She waits for me to read the words and move the flap that is on each page (so gophers pop out of their holes or bees fly from their hive for example), and then grunts and kicks for me to move on to the next page.
Clara also thinks she is a movie star. Paul pulls up videos of her on the computer and she will gaze at the little girl on the screen and smile a big smile and laugh. We get a kick out of this and keep telling ourselves to take more videos, but we still aren't very good at remembering.  With the longer days that we are getting into, I was able to talk Clara for a walk the other night after work when we still had plenty of daylight and I took a little video of us together. 

Lately Clara has wanted to be held more than she used to. She wants to cuddle up at night and rock in her rocking chair before going to sleep in her crib. When we say family prayers, I am usually the one holding her on my lap and we tell her to fold her arms (which we then help her do). Three seconds into the prayer she usually slides down my legs, crawls over to Paul, and claws her way up to a standing position directly in front of him, trying to get him to pick her up for the rest of the prayer.

Clara is still a good eater and we have been making an effort to give her even more opportunities to eat real food instead of baby food. She does best with blueberries, steamed carrots, steamed asparagus tips, pear slices, orange slices, banana, tiny pieces of lunch meat (like turkey), and torn up breads like pancakes. We even let her taste vanilla ice cream when we were at Fenton's a couple of weeks ago. She made a face at first but then definitely wanted more. (Don't worry anybody, max all she had was 1/2 a teaspon of dairy, total. She's fine.) She also really seems to like blackberries, kiwi, and the potatoes and peas from vegetable beef soup, but since all of those are trickier for her little hands to grasp, we have to feed them to her.
Clara had her 9-month check-up on Friday and weighed in at 17 lbs. 4 oz., which puts her in the 20th percentile for weight. She is 28 1/2 inches tall, which puts her in the 80th percentile for height.  The doctor said that Clara could weigh more given her height but that she is probably thin because she is always on the go so much that she is just burning lots of the calories she consumes.  But we were given the go-ahead to start introducing dairy products like cheese and yogurt, so maybe that will help her put back on a little bit of extra padding just in time for the summer swimsuit season. 

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day

Valentine's Day is about LURVE, and we all want to be lurved, right? Right. 

Welp, in the spirit of LURVE, here are some of the things I love about MY Valentines:
  • The way Paul calls me Sweetie and never ends a phone conversation without telling me he loves me.
  • Paul's green eyes which aren't totally green but a little more brackish, like swamp water. (Perhaps not the most romantic description, I know, but f'rills, he has great eyes.)
  • The way Clara throws her head back, giggling and wanting us to nibble on her neck while we are making "nom-nom-nom" monster sounds.
  • The fact that Paul has never once accused me of being bossy, even though I totally am. For some reason, being told I am bossy has always hurt my feelings.
  • Clara's full-body joy when I show up at the end of the day to pick her up from daycare, complete with a gasp of delight and crawl-sprint into my arms.
  • Paul & Clara's special bond with each other. Clara adores her daddy and Paul adores her right back. It is magical.
  • The way Paul plans for everything - trips, house remodeling, finances, the next adoption process, etc.
  • Clara's current obsession with being held by mom pretty much all the time - when I am cooking, when I am giving her a bath, when I am trying to get ready in the morning.
  • That Paul enjoys the same books that I enjoy and we can discuss them and quote them to each other.
  • The fact that Paul wears his hair a little bit longer than he used to just because he knows I like it that way. 
  • That Clara is so smart that she makes up her own little games to play with us, like hide-in-the-pillows-on-mom-&dad's-bed-then-peek-out-and-laugh-at-them.
  • Paul's steadiness, patience, and love when I am having a hard time with this working-mom gig.
  • And both of their cheeks because I just love to kiss them SO MUCH!!
Happy Valentine's Day to both of my Valentines.
Untitled from Amy Nash on Vimeo.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

"Are you going to tell her?"

Today one of the beehives (the 12-13 year old girls that I work with in my church calling) brought a friend (who is not a mormon) with her to church.  I happened to be one of the speakers in sacrament meeting and to start out my talk (about keeping the Sabbath day holy - I joked over the pulpit that I found it highly suspect that the bishopric assigned me this topic the week after the Super Bowl) I introduced Paul, Clara and myself to the congregation since I know that there are a number of new families that I haven't met yet.  I mentioned in this introduction that Paul and I are advocates for adoption (because we are going through the process again after all and I like to keep the idea that adoption is a normal thing that happens a lot more than people are aware of) and that we are so grateful for the eternal families and adoption, having just been sealed to Clara in the temple in December. 

After the three hour block of church meetings, three of my beehives and the visiting friend found me in the hallway where I was trying to calm a wild and sleep-deprived almost-nine-month-old Clara.  I smiled at them and figured they were just going to pass me by since my beehives sort of seem to ignore me most times. 

But the visitor, who surprisingly must have been paying attention to my talk at the beginning of church, piped up and boldly asked "Are you going to tell her?" nodding to Clara.  "You know, that she was adopted?"  To her credit, the girl didn't stage-whisper the last part, thank goodness.

The other beehives stopped cold in their tracks, impressed with the boldness of the question and obviously equally intrigued as to how I would answer. 

I mulled over what to say for a second, honestly a little taken aback at this question in that setting and from this particular person.  Of course Clara is going to know that she was adopted!  The idea of keeping that from her is frankly beyond absurd to me.  Adoption is not the taboo that it might have been in the past.  And we are at least going to do whatever we can to eliminate any taboo surrounding adoption by talking openly to pretty much whoever will listen about it. 

"Yes," I told the girls, "I will tell her that she was adopted." 

"Like when she is older?" they voiced in an almost unified chorus.

"Well, no," I explained.  "She will know from the very beginning.  She will always know.  Adoption is very special and it is not something to be ashamed of.  Besides, is that something you would want to find out when you were 15 years old?"  They shook their heads solemnly at my wise response. 

Then I explained to them about open adoption and how Clara knows her birthmom and how we are excited for Kayli to come visit and what a special place Clara's birthmom will always have in Clara's, and our, lives. 

"Well, she's sooOoOoOo cute!" they all cooed as Clara gave them sweet, sleepy grins, her eyes almost crossing from fatigue (this 9:00 a.m. schedule is killing me since that is when Clarabelle almost always goes down for a nap and she just can't sleep at church no matter how comfortable I try to make her). 

I love adoption and I love that I was able to demystify it for these girls, even if just a little bit.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

A few thoughts before bedtime

I painted my fingernails tonight after Clara went to sleep then worked on my computer while Paul washed dishes;

My assistant at work (who is way too good to me) bought me the book "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies";

I have two sets of adoption friends who recently had adoptions fall through and my heart has been breaking for them;

I have one set of adoption friends who recently had a placement happen and I rejoice for them;

Last night when Paul asked me for a glass of water I filled it with really hot water instead of cold, giggling at what a great prank I was going to pull - he figured it out before taking a swig though;

Clara apparently dislikes spaghetti - at least the Gerber 3rd foods kind - and I am worried she will wake up hungry tonight since she didn't eat very much for dinner because even when I switched to banana custard (which she loves) she seemed to have the spaghetti taste in her mouth and kept refusing;

I really like seeing the balance of our savings account going up and the balance of our student loans going down;

When I got home with Clara tonight, it was nearing dusk and the sky was clotted with gray clouds so we went for a walk and I taught her about rain, wind, clouds, lightning, and thunder, complete with sound effects and Clara-girl loved it;

For dinner last night I cooked a casserole that I made and stuck in the freezer more than two months ago and while it wasn't the best thing ever, it also wasn't a complete failure as a meal;

Paul and I rented a movie called "Contagion" this weekend about an epidemic which freaked me out, so I went out and stocked up on baby food and formula for Clara on Monday night, just in case;

Sometimes Paul and I talk about how at some point in our life we are going to need a car with more space and although I don't like the idea, Paul might be able to persuade me into a mini-van if it means that we get to have a big(ger) family;

We think, but are not entirely sure, that Clara has been trying to say "mama" recently - it certainly sounds a lot like it and it is always directed at me when she wants me to pick her up and hold her;

I haven't had a haircut in six months and I am dying to do something about that but just can't commit to an appointment, much less find a new salon out here since I still don't have someone I like;

That is all, and good night.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Miss February

The weather has been so lovely lately that we spent the weekend in short sleeves and capris around here.  I originally bought this dress for Clara before she was even born thinking that it could be her first easter dress.  But it is so much more appropriate for Valentine's Day and my mom bought a different easter dress for Clara that she showed me on Skype this past week, so I decided to break out her pink and red tulip dress for church today and then take a few "Miss February" photos.  Lately, photographing Clara is almost impossible because she does not stop moving and she never wants to look at the camera.

She took a tumble at daycare early this week and ended up with a bruise on her little right cheek that is just now starting to fade.

In the mornings, I like to take Clara over to the blinds and we open them to look out at the yard.  She has become even more of a "mama's girl" than before and has taken to being extremely cuddly with me.  I love how in the mornings she just wants to be held and will lay her little head on my shoulder and coo in my ear.

Little Miss Clara's hair has gotten so long that I was actually able to braid it last week.  I had to follow her around on my knees to do it, but I got it done.  It didn't last long though.

A couple of Saturday's ago, Paul and I wanted to go hike to the Stanford dish.  But the weather was so perfect that when we got there we were turned off by the hordes of people we could see at the start of the trail.  So instead, we decided to explore Stanford campus.  I had only ever been on the campus once before when I was a summer associate and I spent a day there running all over the place with a partner from my law firm while we participated in a scavenger hunt to benefit a pro bono association for Santa Clara County legal aid or something like that.

I don't know if I have mentioned this on here before or not, but Clara is kind of obsessed with hanging upside down.  She loves it and will happily be carried around this way. 

Maybe I am just in the spirit of Valentine's Day or something, but I noticed hearts carved all over the columns around campus.

I adore mosaics.  There is a non-denominational church on campus that is covered in a mosaic mural with over 10,000 different colors of tiles (we overheard a guide stating this little factoid while we were feeding Clara lunch in front of the church).

After our morning at Stanford, we spent the rest of the day playing in the yard while Paul was repairing a sprinkler pipe.  The palm tree behind Clara is the one in our backyard.  When we first moved in I thought it was ugly because it is one of those tall skinny ones, but now I really love it.  I enjoy listening to the wind blow through the palm fronds and I just feel glad to know we have a palm tree in our yard because it reminds me that we live in California and I love our state like crazy.  I always have, ever since I moved to southern California just after third grade.

There is something so simple and right about throwing a quilt down and playing outside in balmy late January weather when we can already go around barefoot.