Thursday, June 28, 2012

Miss June

Phew - we are cutting it close with this post with Clara's calendar!  I cannot believe how quickly this month has flown by.  Last night after Clara's dinner and bath, Paul and I took her for a walk and realized that we ought to try to do a quick backyard photo shoot with Clara-girl when we got home while there was nice lighting and before she got completely tuckered out and demanded nocturnal relief.  So we dressed her in one of our favorite current dresses (thanks, Carrie, for the gift - it is darling and the perfect dress for summertime!)

Miss Clarabelle didn't want to stay still (surprise, surprise) so we just let her roam around picking up fallen apples from our golden delicious apple tree that the squirrels have been chucking down even though they aren't ripe yet.  She kept biting into them but they were still too hard and tart for her to get any meat off the apple to chew on.

Just last week (on the 22nd) Clara started talking in earnest.  While she had previously said "dada" and "mama", her first real word was "kick".  She was playing with her little green and blue balls and very clearly thrust her foot at one in a kicking motion while saying "kick! kick!" over and over.  I even got it on video although I haven't uploaded it yet.  Her next word (that she used on the same day even!) was "throw".  Then a day later she started saying "no" to pretty much any question you ask her.  Paul thinks this is hilarious and asks "Clara, do you want to read a book?" or "Clara, do you want to go for a walk?" (some of her favorite activities) just to hear her say in a tiny voice, "nooo."  She will, however, say "yes" if we prompt her though.  Apparently she has heard "no" one too many times since I am always telling her "no! don't put that leaf/shoe/rock/banana peel/paper/book/cord/soap in your mouth!"  Oops.  The only other word she can say already is banana.  She has a counting book with a banana for the number 1 and she will open the book, point at the banana and say "nana!"  We skyped with my mom and sister and they got a banana and held it in front of the screen and she identified it as a "nana" as well.

Clara runs everywhere.  She is super fast and is learning to open doors, take her diapers to the trash by herself, use a spoon, and dry her hands on a towel.  I have to watch her like crazy whenever we are around stairs because she can go up them but still hasn't figured out how to safely go down.  She climbs all over and LOVES to go to the play place at the mall (which is an awesome play place actually and since it is air conditioned I currently prefer going there over the park). 

Her sleep hasn't been stellar lately and she has been waking up once a night and whimpering.  Sometimes a pat on the back is sufficient and she goes right back to sleep but usually she just wants to be rocked for five or ten minutes.  I figured out that she just really does not sleeping when she is not toasty toasty warm and with the weather being nice we haven't been turning her heater on because we didn't think she needed it.  But when we put on the heater right before we go to bed, she sleeps until morning.  So maybe a little higher electric bill even during the summer is worth it.

Some current favorite foods include cauliflower (her favorite vegetable I think and one of my favorites as well), raspberries, graham crackers (she always smells like graham crackers because they are my go-to snack for her because they make her thirsty and so she drinks her milk, which she otherwise sometimes resists), applesauce, roasted chicken, and frosted mini-wheats (which I like to eat for breakfast and will give her a few squares that are a little soft from the milk and she devours them like they are the best thing she has ever eaten).

I will try to get videos uploaded soon!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Garage Sale & Morning Glory Muffins

This weekend we held a garage sale.  We had been thinking a garage sale would be a good idea for a couple of years now (especially after we moved to this house and piled potential garage sale items in the front corner of the garage) but with one thing or another, we just never got around to it until now.  I felt a little bit bad about it because Saturday was Paul's birthday, but honestly, I think it was one of the most fun birthdays he has had. 

We woke up around 6:15 and started setting up tables and pricing items on the driveway and by 6:30 we started having people stop by.  I had put an ad on Craigslist the day before and painted a neon pink sign that Paul taped onto a pole on the main street where you turn onto our road and apparently that really drew in the crowds.  Our biggest rush was from 6:30 to 7:30 but the stream of people was steady all morning long.  We think that it also helped that our neighbors three doors down were also having a garage sale.

There were lots of people who came by who spoke Spanish and I enjoyed seeing their faces light up as Paul started casually chatting with them in their language.  They were inevitably delighted that he spoke the language and then surprised to hear him speak it so well.  Many people commented about it and I know Paul had a good time interacting with everybody.

We had a few big ticket items like a tv stand, a raft  that we bought years ago and used tons when we lived in Utah for floating the Provo River (which sold for almost what it cost us originally), Paul's beach cruiser bike (he always regretted buying the gunmetal gray and black bike because he decided that something flashier was more his style), lamps, artwork (we actually sold some of Paul's prints that we used to have on the walls but had switched out for others that we preferred), the refrigerator, garbage disposal and kitchen faucet from our old kitchen, etc.  We also had a bunch of funky little things like old shoes, a shower curtain, an old purse, vases, broken picture frames, books, a vcr, rusted saws, ridiculous aviator sunglasses of Paul's that came with a flight-simulator video game from the 90's, cheap plastic lazy susans that don't fit in our new cupboards, etc.  It all sold.

The funniest thing that sold was something that Paul had made in middle school where he had braided together four strips of leather thong.  Some guy drove up on a motorcycle and ended up purchasing it from Paul, which we have been chuckling about ever since thinking how he is probably adding it to his fringe to look tough on his bike.  We were able to get rid of probably 90% of what we put out there and brought in a decent chunk of change from it that we intend to use toward adoption travel expenses, which can be hefty when you factor in plane flights, hotel costs and car rentals. 

Clara slept in really late (until almost 8:00!) and then came out and sat in her high-chair and ate a muffin and raspberries while Paul and I were working.  She had a blast grinning and waving and offering to share her food with the people who came by. 

But my absolute favorite thing about the morning was selling my baked goods to our garage sale patrons.  I had no idea whether a bake sale was a dumb idea or not when we started planning the garage sale earlier in the week, but I figured that if the cookies and muffins didn't sell, I could always take them to church for my Beehives or put them in the freezer.  My friend Christine gave me a bag of lemons from their tree so I made two batches of lemon cookies, a batch of chocolate chip cookies, and a batch of morning glory muffins and sold everything for $1 each.  It wasn't a ton of food, but there were about four dozen cookies and two dozen muffins and at $1 each when it cost me maybe $3.00 in flour, sugar, eggs, and butter to make everything, that is a pretty decent profit. 

One lady bought a lemon cookie and started walking down the street eating it only to come right back and buy six more and rave about how it was the best lemon cookie she had ever tasted.  I coaxed a number of people into buying muffins ("It's only one dollar people!  Try them!") by promising that they would not be disappointed and they all confirmed that I was correct and praised the morning glory muffins.  There were only a couple of muffins and a couple of cookies left by the time we decided to wrap-up.

So, by way of saying "thank you!" for everybody's help with our adoption media blitz (seriously friends, we are so lucky to have amazing friends and family like you who are willing to tell your friends about us and spread the word that we are hoping to adopt - we have had more than 1,000 hits to our adoption blog since last Monday when we started the blitz, which is HUGE), I wanted to post the recipe for Morning Glory Muffins.  Because seriously, these are some of the best muffins I have ever made.  I got this recipe from a family on my mission in New Jersey.  There are lots of variations on morning glory muffin recipes that you can find on the internet but so many of them call for random things that I never have on hand like wheat germ, apple butter, dates, flaxseeed, etc. or they call for canned pineapple, which I don't really like using in muffins because it seems to result in a syrupy sweet baked good that is too much for me. 

My version is simple and straightforward and dare-I-say pretty much foolproof.  You will end up with a super moist, soft muffin that is packed with flavor.  Oh, and did I mention that there are carrots in these muffins?  Yeah, they are THAT GOOD.  And that comes from someone with a lifelong aversion to carrots who even passes up carrot cake which is basically slathered in cream cheese frosting in an attempt to disguise the carrot flavor (am I right or am I right?). 

Here are the ingredients:

You basically grate the carrot, zucchini and apple into a bowl with chopped pecans and coconut,...

add the dry ingredients,...

then mix it all up with the eggs, applesauce, oil and vanilla before pouring it into muffin tins and popping them into the oven. 

Your little helper might enjoy snacking on the apple peel and grated carrots, like mine did...

...until I let her run around while I was trying to finish taking photos of the mixing process by standing on a chair and she decided to tickle my toes.  Silly girl.  She is kind of obsessed with this green sieve these days and carries it around with her everywhere she goes.

They bake for about 30 to 35 minutes and turn a nice carmelly-brown color and make your kitchen smell heavenly.  It will be hard to wait long enough for a muffin to cool so you don't burn your mouth when you bite into it.  I speak from experience.

Two muffins with fresh fruit and a glass of cold milk and you have a pretty much perfect breakfast or afternoon snack. 


Morning Glory Muffins

2 cups flour (I use half wheat and half white which I think actually makes these muffins better than using just white flour but just use whatever you've got)
1 1/4 cup sugar
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup grated zucchini
1 cup grated carrot
1 peeled, grated apple (I use Granny Smith for baking)
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup shredded coconut
3 eggs
1/2 cup applesauce
1/2 cup oil**
2 tsp vanilla
Optional:  1/2 cup raisins***

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Combine the flour, sugar, soda, cinnamon and salt in a large mixing bowl.  Stir in the grated zucchini, carrot, and apple, chopped pecans and coconut.  In a separate bowl, mix eggs, applesauce, oil, and vanilla, then add to the flour mixture until combined.  I use a 1/3 cup measuring cup to scoop the batter into muffin tins lined with paper liners and they should be filled pretty much all the way to the top.  Bake for 30 to 35 minutes.

**If you don't have applesauce on-hand, you could do one cup of oil, which was the original recipe, but I promise that using applesauce instead of oil doesn't hurt the flavor or texture of these muffins one bit and it makes them just a little bit healthier.

***I pretty much only like raisins in cookies, broccoli salad, or plain, so I omitted the raisins here.

Makes about 2 dozen muffins and they freeze well for quick breakfasts on the go.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Adoption Media Blitz

Thanks SO much everybody for your input on which family pic we should use for our profile.  After much thought and weighing of the feedback we received (as well as trying out our two top contenders (options D and F from this post) on the actual profile itself to see how it looked as a tiny thumbnail as well as on our main profile page), we went with option D.  The feedback was incredibly helpful (and flattering) and we really appreciate the kind comments.

So you might notice that we have a new adoption blog button on this blog (and on our adoption blog as well).  This weekend I went through our adoption blog and reworked some of the content.  I unpublished a number of previous posts to streamline the information and make it a better resource for a birth mom.  (In case anyone is wondering, the content still exists but I thought a lot of the posts were more geared toward Kayli and if I have learned anything about adoption it is that every birth parent is different and I felt like it was important to clean up the blog and post things that would apply to our next child's birth mom.)  This upcoming week marks one month that our profile has been live with LDS Family Services.  I know it doesn't sound like much, but Kayli contacted us at the one-month mark so I have been thinking about this a lot lately. 

We have had a number of friends and family ask us what they can do to help us get the word out and when and how to start spreading the word, etc. that we are hoping to adopt again so this post is meant to serve as a go-ahead for anyone who would be so great as to help us out.  We'll call it our little adoption media blitz.  Here are some ideas for how you can help:

1.  Share the link to our adoption blog on Facebook with a little blurb like "Check out my friends' adoption blog at  They are hoping to adopt their second child and need your help!"  The more people who know about us the better.  Even if you just follow our blog anonymously and don't actually know us it would still mean so much to us if you would pass along our blog info.  We had a little blitz like this when our first profile went live and let me tell you, the number of hits to our blog skyrocketed that day and stayed high for a while after that. 

2.  Add our blog button to your blog, if you have one.

3.  Mention our hopes to adopt in a future blog post.

4.  Send me your address by email (amynash at gmail dot com) or just leave it in a comment and I will send you pass-along cards (which are on order and will hopefully be delivered by the end of this week).  Give the pass-along cards to your hair stylist, bishop, Relief Society president, co-workers, mom, sister, aunt, personal trainer, ob-gyn, etc.  Seriously, I know multiple couples who have had successful adoptions because of these little cards.  If you want to read a pass-along card success story, check out this guest post written by my friend Brittany.  With our first adoption, I took a stack of 30 cards to church and asked to make a quick announcement before Relief Society started and then passed them around with the clipboards that always go around.  A number of our friends and family did the same thing for us in their wards and if anyone is willing to do that this time around, please let me know and I will send enough cards to go around (we have ordered 1,000 cards for starters, which sounds like a ton but the first go around we burned through 500 cards just by adding some to each Christmas card and had to order another batch). 

5.  Talk to your moms about your friends (us) who are hoping to adopt.  Honestly, the mom network is so amazing and it seems like they are always the ones who are aware of unwed girls who are daughters or nieces of friends or co-workers who are pregnant and deciding on what to do.  Especially with family reunions coming up, it seems like that sort of thing gets discussed a lot with extended families.

Anyway, I can't tell you how weird it feels to be asking for help like this.  It felt strange and awkward the first time around and it isn't the most comfortable thing in the world to do the second time around either, but I feel strongly that it is important for us to do all that we can to find our little one who will join our family someday.  We obviously have no idea how long the wait will be or what the future holds in store for us.  But we are aware that there are many people who love us and want to help and hopefully this little adoption media blitz will help everyone get excited and our information to get spread around a little bit.

Happy Father's Day... the three best dads in the world!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Beach Day with Grandma, Aunties, and Cousins

Last week my mom, sisters, and nieces came to visit.  We had such a great time having them stay with us and it was so fun seeing my nieces who have changed so much since Christmas time when we last saw them.  Thank goodness for blogs so we can easily keep up with each other and see pics of these little girls. 

My favorite thing we did while my family was in town was to take the girls to the beach in Santa Cruz.  We ended up at Natural Bridges because I just love that spot (although just this past Monday I tried out Twin Lakes beach and it may be my new favorite and I am going to have to go back and take photos sometime soon) and I knew it was easy to access with the girls.  We picked up sandwiches from Subway but trying to get Clara to sit still and eat a real lunch when there is a beach to play on turns out to be a crazy idea.  After she refused lunch meat and bread and then dropped both her cheese and strawberries in the sand (which she promptly picked up and stuck back in her mouth before I could stop her), I figured we would just play and I wouldn't worry about her unless she really got hungry enough to eat.  (Note to self: although a picnic on the beach SOUNDS like a good idea, it never is.  Everthing tastes gritty.  Just eat in the car first.)

We all had such a great time.  The weather was beautiful, even though it was very windy and not too warm.  It was warm enough to get our feet wet though so we enjoyed standing in the sand with the girls and running away as the waves came in.  I would scoop Clara up and dash away with her while she squealed with joy.  Emma giggled and jabbered the entire time.  Lily just grinned her happy grin and was so good.

Clara's face in this next photo is classic - she was crowing with delight the entire time we were running away from the waves.  I would set her down at the top of the sand and follow her as she stumbled after the receding water until she would stop on her own and wait for the next wave.  She even turned around and started running away from them on her own a couple of times although I was always right beside her to lift her up when the water got past her ankles.

This is Jennie and Lily.  Lily is a chunky-monkey and already wears some 18-24 month sizes (even though she is only 3 months younger than Clara) to accomodate her girth.  I just loved getting to hold her and love on her this past week and I am sure the next time I see her (in August) she will be walking around, which is crazy.  Incidentally, Jennie has beautiful hair with natural strawberry blonde highlights and I love the hairstyle she wore this day.  I want her to teach me how to recreate it on my own hair.

Jessica is going to Belize for the summer to do an internship and I am sure going to miss her.  Not that I got to see her any more while she was in Utah for school this past year, but still...

The girls played and played in the sand.  Emma liked destroying sand castles, Clara ate the sand any chance she got, and Lily just watched.

Walking in sand is not so easy...

I love my mom.  She is the best grandma and the little girls just adore her.  Paul and I went to a movie one night while my mom was here and when we got home she admitted that even though Clara had gone down for the night before we left that when she woke up briefly around 8:00 that my mom put her in the stroller and took her for an evening walk (something Clara loves) even though I would have just let her fall back asleep.  Naughty grandma.

Clara was infatuated by her cousin Emma.  These two played and played and talked and talked.  Clara has never given anyone as many kisses as she gave Emma.  They took baths together, danced together, and read books together. 

We miss everybody already and are looking forward to seeing them again in August for our Yellowstone camping trip.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Family Pics

We have been wanting to get an updated family picture for our adoption profile since Clara is changing so much these days.  So this past Sunday my sister Jessica graciously agreed to take photos for us, which is no small thing considering the fact that both Paul and I consider ourselves to be slightly better than average photographers, we aren't the most photogenic people (other than Clara), and we have a toddler to work with on this photo shoot.  After every few frames Paul or I would want to look at the images Jessica was capturing and we would coach her on adjustments like "fill the frame more" or "don't cut off the feet" or "we need to move to a shadier location for better lighting", etc.  Obnoxious, I know, but she was great about it and best of all, she was free. 

We drove to a nearby historic house in Saratoga that is some kind of museum or something that is closed on Sundays and took photos around the grounds and in the neighboring cherry orchard.  Clara was NOT interested in having photos taken.  She writhed and squirmed and fought us the entire time.  Paul, Jessica and I tried dancing with her, letting her walk some of her wiggles out, playing music for her - basically anything we could think of - but we were taking photos between 5 and 6 o'clock for optimal lighting and I think Clara was ready for dinner and the snacks I had given her before we left weren't tiding her over like I had hoped.  Plus, we had dragged her away from her cousin Emma and Clara was looking for that fun orange-haired girl that she loved to play with so much.

So here are the photos that we like best:  there are eight to choose from that turned out pretty well although we have frustrations with each of them (someone not quite looking at the camera or not smiling or shoes cut off or my face looks fat, etc.  You know how it is, right?).  I will label them "A", "B", "C" and so on for convenience and if anyone wants to leave a comment letting us know your favorite before we choose one for our adoption profile and pass-along cards, that we be a HUGE help.  Maybe take note of the letter (or letters) of your favorite(s) so you don't have to scroll back up here by the time you make it to the end of the post where I post all the candid photos and outtakes from the photo shoot.  Ready?  Here we go:

Option A:

Option B:

Option C:

Option D:

Option E:

Option F:

Option G:

Option H:

I know this is once again, a post with too many photos, but I had to include some of the outtakes because they were just too cute or hilarious not to post them.  Incidentally, one of the reasons I post so many photos on here is because when I was making our blog books last year, I discovered that it turned out best in the posts where there were numerous photos because I could fill an entire page of the book with pics and include the "journaling" portion on the side.  SO much easier than scrapbooking (which I still enjoy but just don't have time for really), even if it makes for really long blog posts. 

I love this photo of me and Clara.  The little romper that Clara is wearing was a gift from Paul's cousin Heather and her family.  I borrowed Jessica's new shirt from Ann Taylor Loft and the double-strand pearl necklace I wore is actually Clara's - I got it for her at Gymboree on clearance for $4 a couple of weeks ago and I grabbed them on a whim when I was getting ready on Sunday to be a little fancier for the photos since I basically have no clue how to accessorize.   

I didn't intentionally wear my pink canvas Crocs to match Clara's pink Stride Rite's but it is one of the details of these photos that I love.

Paul was pointing out a butterfly.  I didn't realize we were holding hands when this photo was taken but I noticed it when I was developing the pics and thought it was sweet.

The natural backlighting from the sun is awesome in this picture of me and Clara.  I love how it lights up our hair.

What. A. Beauty.

Remember how I said Clara squirmed and fought the whole time?  Here are a couple of pictures to prove it.  Either that or she has been watching too much ANTM and was trying out some high-fashion posing.  You can kind of tell by Paul's forced smile that we were a little bit exasperated at this point.

I finally handed Clara off to her dad for a go at settling her down since she clearly wasn't interested in hanging out in mom's arms for one more picture.

We ended up having an impromptu dance party.  Clara's dancing mostly consists of bouncing up and down although just yesterday she added in a funny head shake and arm wave that had Paul and I cracking up all night long as we let her stay up way too late dancing with us in the living room.  This is her bounce stance.

She was really getting into it while I snapped out a beat for her.

But even after the dance party she still wanted to run away. 

"No more pictures!!!" she wailed.

Two seconds later, she looked like this:

But then it was back to trying to escape.  Oh heavens, how does anyone get a decent family picture with a one-year old?

After moving to the cherry orchard, Clara wanted some of her favorite fruit (it used to be strawberries but ever since I introduced cherry halves, Clara has been obsessed).  You can see her eyes scanning the trees for the little red cherries.

Paul thought that maybe offering her some fruit would sweeten her up. 

The photos didn't really improve much - at least not for a usable profile pic - but it was hilarious watching Clara gape her mouth open like this.  Don't worry - we didn't just tease.  I would bite them in half and give her the half without the pit.  The photo shoot was pretty much over at this point so it didn't matter that she ended up with red juice dripping down her wee chin.

So that is it for our family photo shoot.  Thanks, Jessica, for doing such a great job and putting up with us!  Don't forget to leave a comment letting us know which of the option above (A thru H) was your favorite.  You can choose more than one.