Friday, March 30, 2012

Clara Jane at 10 months old

Well, I am a week-and-a-half late in posting this, but better late than never.  Clara still isn't walking, even though Paul and I have thought for weeks now that she would go for it any day.  She is close and has taken a step or two or even three every now and then, but usually just drops to her knees or bum so she can scoot around in her usual fashion.  She enjoys standing all the time now though and can balance for long stretches at a time (more than 20 seconds) if she is in the mood. 

Clara understands the word "clap" and will do it with just a verbal prompt.  We are working on "kiss", "high-five", "bye-bye", and "wolf" (aka "oww-woooooOOO!!) now.  She already does the wolf thing on her own so we have just given it a name and she responds the same way whenever we throw our heads back and howl for her.  Whenever we lift Clara out of her crib after a nap or in the morning after a good night's sleep (she is still sleeping from 7:30 to 7:00 every night), she pats our shoulders in a tender little gesture of hello.  It is the sweetest thing.

She is a good little eater and the other night she had deconstructed tacos (thanks for the idea, Bethany!) for dinner, complete with fresh tomatoes, seasoned ground beef, small pieces of  tortilla and guacamole.  I just scooped up a tiny portion of meat, cheese and guac and spooned it into her mouth and then she ate the tomato and tortilla as finger foods and she seemed to enjoy it all.  Clarabelle loves eating canned peas but does not like eating canned carrots, for which I cannot blame her.  She will eat any kind of fruit and likes yogurt and cheese and cheerios. 

Clara gets into absolutely everything these days.  Lately, she has discovered that she can easily open the cabinet of the TV stand and pull out all of the DVDs and turn the xBox off and on.  She also enjoys crawling around the kitchen and yanking open drawers to pull pots and pans off their shelves.  We should probably get child safety locks but since we are ripping the kitchen out in the not-too-distant future (just ordered cabinets yesterday - yippee!) I figure that active-parenting will suffice for now and once we install the new cabinets we can put them on.  Besides, she is so hilarious and cute when she has an audience watching her explore cupboards. 

Clara has six teeth now that have definitely broken through (two on the bottom and four on the top) and a seventh that is just starting to come up on the bottom.  Each of her teeth have been surprises to me because she hasn't really exhibited any signs of teething that I sort of thought we might see, other than the fact that she chews on absolutely EVERYTHING.  Seriously, that girl puts anything she can get her little hands on straight into her mouth.  We are constantly sweeping because of it.  Also, now that she has teeth...she bites.  I confess that I think it is cute so although I don't encourage it, I also don't get after her for it like I probably should.  She has left tiny teeth marks on my arm or hands a couple of times (as can be seen in the picture below).

Maybe it is just wishful thinking on my part, but Clara seems to love both banging away on the piano and gliding and spinning around the house with  me while I explain the foxtrot to her and sing songs for us.  She loves when I turn on "Dancing with the Stars" and then make up our own dance routines (complete with me dipping her and twirling her around) and laughs and grins the whole time while we sway and bounce to the music.  She also dances on her own a lot of the time and does this funny thing where she bounces around the room while sitting on her bottom.  She even has rhythym!

Clara is absolutely a ton of fun and a joy to be around.  She is spritely and lively and happy all day long and we sure are lucky parents to have her as our ten-month old little girl.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012


Clara has been attacking my computer at every opportunity lately and the "F" key is sticking now such that I have to hammer on it in order for that consonant to show up.  So if this post has loads of typos (particularly ones where there is an "f" missing from a word"), please forgive. 

Lately, I've had a lot of people ask me what I am going to do with all my time now that I have joined the ranks of the stay-at-home-mom's.  This question always made me snort a little when I got it at the office.  Honestly ... I am going to play with Clara, feed her lunches, take her to the park or on walks, make sure she gets good naps, etc.  But since she IS a good napper, I anticipate having a little extra time on my hands during the day.  With that time I plan to weed the garden and yard, clean our house (which is filthy after months of neglect), make sure the dishes are wished and the bed is made every day, blog, develop photos, exercise, magnify my church calling with the Beehives, etc.  You know - homemaking kind of stuff. 

In the near future, we have visitors coming from out of town to stay with us, all sorts of stuff that has to be done to be approved for our next adoption profile, house projects to work on or plan for, Clara's 1st birthday to plan, and so on. 

In the spirit of homemaking and all, I sat down and planned out all of our dinner meals for the next six weeks.  We probably won't stick to the plan rigidly, but it helps me to know what I am going to make in advance and not have to come up with something last minute.  I eat healthier that way and do better with grocery shopping and budgeting too, since I can revamp our meal-plan based on the grocery circulars with whatever meat or produce is on sale.  My intention is for us to eat vegetarian at least once a week (V), eat fish once a week (F), and eat red meat no more than twice a week.  I also want to expand my repetoire of dishes so it doesn't feel like we are eating the same old thing all the time.  Here is the plan to get us through the first week in May:


Coconut Chicken Satays with pan-seared brussel sprouts
Pan-fried trout with bok choy and orange-coconut salad (F)
Black Bean Quesidillas (V)
Slow Cooker Whole Chicken with Ceasar salad
Eat Out
Chicken Pot Pie (Pioneer Woman recipe) with salad and broccolini
Noodle Stir Fry (V) (Our Best Bites)
Spicy Honey Chicken Thighs with Mango salad (Out Best Bites)
Leftover spicy honey chicken with coconut rice and brussel sprouts
Morrocan Fish with cauliflower and carrots (100 days of real food website)
Apricot Pork Chops
Breakfast for dinner
Salmon with fruit salad and homemade garlic breadsticks (F)
Chicken enchiladas
Caprese Panini (V) (100 days of real food website)
Eat Out
Grilled pork tenderloin with applesauce and grilled asparagus
Corn chowder with fruit
Black beans and rice with brussel sprouts and a side salad (V)
Grilled Cajun chicken sandwiches
Meatloaf with twice-baked potatoes & Caesar salad
Pasta with fresh spring peas and asparagus (V)
Arroz con Pollo (tica-style)
Steak with broccolini and red jello with bananas
Grilled shrimp with wild rice and green beans (F)
Homemade mac & cheese (V)
Taco Salad
Chicken stir-fry with Thai peanut sauce
Eat Out
Lasagna (Our Best Bites) with side-salad and garlic bread
Chili with cornbread
Stuffed zucchini
Fried chicken
Order Pizza
Southern chicken salad sandwiches

I made the Coconut Chicken Satays with pan-seared brussel sprouts last night and it turned out delicious.  Paul was raving and told me that it was one of his favorite things I have ever made, which is saying something for somebody who previously thought he hated brussel sprouts. 

Other things that happened on my first official day of work back on the job as a SAHM included bringing in garbage cans, running just one mile at the gym (I knew Clara would freak out going to the daycare there since we haven't been since she was 6 months old so I kept my run short so I was only gone for 10 minutes - I think right now she panics when I leave her because she thinks that I will be gone for the rest of the day and I am hoping that she catches on that I might leave for a short bit but that I will come back soon), walking to the bank to deposit a check then walking to the supermarket to pick up some dinner items, trip to Costco, laundry, baked bread (in a bread machine), and made fresh strawberry jam. 

And I loved every minute of it.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Miss March

I took these photos a couple of weeks ago but then forgot about developing them what with the craziness of work.  I made the rainbows with pots of gold as treats/handouts for the lesson I was teaching at church to all of the 12-18 year old girls.  The theme for the year is "Arise and Shine Forth" and I wanted to talk about getting through times of adversity.  Rainbows seemed like a good image to go with the concept of "shining" through difficult/darker times in life.  Plus, I had seen these licorice and rolo rainbows on the Our Best Bites website and they looked so awesome that I really wanted to make them. 

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

House Remodel Phase 2

Thanks for all the supportive comments about that last post, friends. I really love being validated. Is that so shameful?
So I thought I would share what Paul and I have been focusing on lately, which is preparing for House Remodel Phase 2. Last year Paul and I (but mostly Paul) remodeled the bedrooms in our little 1958 home. They were in desparate need of work and we did a top-to-bottom overhaul complete with wall texture, new closets, paint, new windows, trim, carpeting, electrical - the works. And we have been so happy with how the bedrooms and office turned out.
For the past couple of months, we have been thinking about doing another huge remodeling project that will bring our home into this century and make it much more enjoyable to live in. Basically, we are going to rip out the existing kitchen, pull up all of the flooring in the living room and hallway and kitchen, and redo the whole thing. By the time we are done, about 90-95% of the interior of our house will have been totally remodeled and only the two bathrooms will be left to do in the future.
Right now, we don't have a dishwasher, our oven is miniature and can't even fit a cookie sheet without sitting on a funky angle against the back of the oven, the linoleum is gouged and horrid and stapled down in places, tiles have been messily glued back onto the counter by previous owners when they have snapped off, and we have a half torn-down wall that we have been living with since the day we moved into the house and decided we couldn't handle with the wall separating the kitchen and the living room and Paul started ripping it out.
Paul has already begun some of the remodel work by patching cracks in the ceiling drywall, which are commonnplace in old California homes that have seen their share of earthquakes. He also assessed the lighting and electrical situation and researched how to properly light our main living space. In doing so, he determined that we had too many "dark spots" because there were insufficient can-lights installed and they were poorly spaced. So on Monday night he re-wired the living room and installed 6 new can-lights, which has made a huge difference from how things were before. Paul also plans to redo the kitchen, hallway, and entry lighting as well.
We picked out stainless steel appliances a few weeks ago and have been getting bids on flooring, cabinets, and granite from a number of different places. Since we are not trying to create some high-end dream home, we think that we are just going to go with cabinets from Lowes. We met with a really highly reviewed Yelp! cabinet guy, but honestly, his prices were out of our budget and we loved the lady at Lowes who spent 2 1/2 hours with us Saturday evening designing how it would all look and creating computer drawings of how the layout would look. She provided a better design that was more in line with our budget and interests and Lowes even carries some of the same cabinet lines as many of the higher-rated cabinet designers in the area. We are planning on moving the refrigerator, oven and stove to different places than where they currently are and we are adding a dishwasher (happy day!) and a slightly larger island. We like a fairly simple, clean look in our furnishings so we are going with a sort of modified shaker-style cabinet in "divinity" (aka, creamy white) with glass inserts in the cabinets on either side of the microwave.

We are leaning toward either hickory (on the right) or walnut (on the left) for our hardwood flooring. Anyone care to comment on which option they like best?



The whole project is going to take a long time because Paul will be doing most of the work himself in the evenings or on weekends, but I can help with a lot of the basic stuff like painting and sanding. We are hoping to be done by the end of the summer, but we don't really know how long it is actually going to take. For now, Paul is just tackling the smaller prepartory projects where we can still use the kitchen and living room before we jump into tearing the whole thing out - things like patching walls, replacing doors, lighting, etc. - and we are hopeful that the actual period of being totally kitchenless except for whatever makedo kitchen we can rig by moving our current fridge onto the back patio and using only a microwave, grill, and hot plate to cook our meals lasts less than a month or two. Besides, we are acutely aware that we have a very busy girl who has been teasing us about taking her first steps so we need to make sure to keep our home environment safe for her and her needs to explore.
It is going to be a lot of work and a big expense, but we are looking forward to a brand new kitchen and living room as the end result!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Giving Notice

When you are a type-A corporate litigator (what other kind is there after all?) like me, the last thing you want to be considered is a quitter. So instead, when I walked into the office of one of the main partners at my firm this morning, I told him that I was there "to give notice" instead of "to quit." I can admit that I left his office with a dirty streak of masacara trailing down my right cheek, but I am proud of myself for pretty much keeping it together the whole time. The four or five tears that leaked out of my right eye only (not the left - weird, huh?) were just from the relief I felt when this particular partner shut his office door so we could continue the conversation in private and proceeded to commend me for the decision Paul and I are making and talked about how family is absolutely the most important thing. He told me that I am a "great lawyer" and that I do excellent work and should I ever want to practice law again once our kid(s) is/are older that I will have no problem getting back into it because, according to him, I have what it takes to be a great litigator. (Sorry if I sound like I am tooting my own horn - I am just trying to record some of this encouragement as fuel for the future when I may feel some hesitation at picking up my career as a lawyer again after some time off while our children are young.)

I don't think that this blog is the right place to go into all of the details or rationale behind my departure, so I won't (sorry FB friends who want all the sordid details). But the gist of it is that Paul and I don't feel right about both of us working at big firms full-time with Clara in daycare for the bulk of her waking hours. And work has been unbearable for the last few months anyway and I feel differently about the kind of law practice I am in now from how I felt when I was looking for a summer associate position at a big firm back in 2008.

So for now, I am looking forward to being able to stay home with our Clara-girl and not having to drop her off at daycare every morning. I'm looking forward to actually cooking dinners again instead of consuming yet another frozen pizza or picking up Taco Bell after work. I am pretty sure that Paul is looking forward to having his (mostly) sane wife back who doesn't break down at least once a week in great wracking sobs where she can barely get out the words "I ... can't ... do ... this ... sob, sob, sob ... anymore!! ... wail, wail, wail" after getting not enough sleep and only a handful of minutes with her little girl for a couple of days in a row. (Yes, I hate to admit it, but it has been that bad on multiple occasions).   I look forward to blogging more than once every couple of weeks.  (Can you believe it was two weeks ago that I last posted?!  Shame on me

We are very thankful that Paul has such a good job and I am so grateful that he works hard to make it possible for me to stay home with our cute kiddo. We are going to have to be a LOT more careful about sticking to our budget (historically not one of our strengths) and we aren't going to be traveling anywhere super-exotic in the foreseeable future because we won't have nearly the disposable income that we are used to, but we feel strongly that this is the best decision for us and for our family.

So yay for quitters notice-givers!  I am feeling crazy amounts of relief tonight, even as my blackberry has been pinging me once every ten minutes for the last couple of hours.  I will not miss that annoying little beep and red flashing light, that is for sure!