Oh my. How is she possibly two years old already? I know this is a blurry phone photo from when Clara was literally less than an hour old, but it seems like this was just yesterday. She was so beautiful and so perfect. Oh my heavens, Paul and I were so in love from the moment we first laid eyes on her. Way before that, really.
Even though her birthday was today (Sunday, the 19th) we did the bulk of the celebrating on Saturday since that was the day we were doing her party. I picked up a dozen helium-filled balloons on Friday night and snuck them into Clara's room at midnight when we were going to bed so that Clara would have a surprise when she woke up. I was watching her on the video monitor Saturday morning when she woke up so I saw her flop around and stretch and yawn and then sit bolt upright and exclaim "BALLOON! Balloon! Balloon! Ballooooooon!!" as she pointed around her room. Then she stood up and quietly started counting, "1...2...3....." as she pointed to each balloon. It was hilarious and so awesome. Two is going to be a good age.
She was really excited about the balloon surprise when I opened her door to get her out of her crib. I gathered her balloons up and she clenched the ribbons in two little fists and didn't let go for the next half an hour.
It took her next big surprise for Clara to release her death grip on her balloons. Grandma Cece and Grandpa Russ got Clara the cutest ever kitchen. It took me (and Paul, although I mostly took charge on this project) until way past midnight on Friday to put just the stove together so the box behind it was holding her kitchen sink which we put together after she woke up. Clara was super excited about the kitchen and immediately set to work trying out the different knobs and opening up the doors.
You obviously cannot hear her, but in this picture she was shouting "Hoo-rayyyy!!" This was after we had finished putting the sink together so her whole kitchen was complete. Her face! Her long bedhead pigtails leftover from the day before. Oh I die. She is just the best.
Then she opened some presents from her daddy. Paul picked out a soccer ball, flip-flops, and a lawn mower for her.
The look on her face is one of pure concentration. She completely "got" what it meant to open presents and she approached it with single-minded fervor. The vigor with which she commanded "presents! open!" made Paul and I glance at each other and nervously laugh about whether we maybe went too far in hyping her birthday and possibly getting her just a few too many things. (insert sheepish grin) We might need to restrain ourselves and scale back a little at Christmas and for Clara's future birthdays for her own good.
But just look at the sheer delight that a pair of Minnie Mouse flip-flops can bring. Especially when daddy picked them out all by himself and she has been dying to have flip-flops for months now. We only know that because she is constantly discarding her own shoes in favor of mom or dad's sandals or those of her friends when they come over to visit.
So proud of her first pair of flip-flops. And again, look at those long pigtails. Oh gosh, we love her so.
A little later in the morning we went outside and Paul mowed the lawn while Clara "helped" using her own mower. I don't know why I didn't get a picture of that but it was darling.
Paul took Clara on a daddy-daughter birthday donut date to Yum Yum Donuts. She pretty much just ate the frosting and then had fruit and milk for breakfast.
Then Clara had a few more gifts to unwrap. These were the ones I picked out, knowing that my parents were getting Clara a kitchen. I got her the pots and pans, cups and saucers, and a few little food things to stock her cupboards.
It is astonishing how much vocabulary Clara already has that we don't know about. For instance, she picked up this whisk and immediately said "whisk" without any prompting. I know it shouldn't be that surprising since I let her help me in the kitchen all the time and I know I have shown her my whisk before and how it is used, but still...it just seems bizarre that a two-year old knows that word.
While Clara took her afternoon nap, Paul and I got things set up for her party. I made a white cake from scratch with homemade frosting that I developed a few years back when I was obsessed with a cupcakery called "The Sweet Tooth Fairy" in Utah. I was beyond excited when one of our friends, after eating a bite of cake at the party, said "wow, this tastes just like the Sweet Tooth Fairy" because I probably made 10-15 batches of frosting before I found the exact flavor combination and it is my go-to frosting for cakes or cupcakes.
Last year we did a Pansy Party for Clara. This year's theme was a Strawberry Party since that is pretty much her favorite food. I put a layer of sliced strawberries in her cake, made a strawberry spinach salad, and served strawberry lemonade with slices of fresh strawberries to go along with the hamburgers and hot dogs. Oh, and there were bowls of fresh strawberries and strawberry ice cream of course.
I lucked out and found these cute strawberry glasses to give away as party favors.
These are some of Clara's little pals from Toddler Time. From left to right: Blake, Liesel, Camille, Silas, and Clara. We are so lucky to have such good friends and they all seemed to have fun playing together. Clara's picnic table was the perfect size for all of them and it was nice that they all sat there together so well and ate their dinners.
Did I post about this birthday bunting that I made around Christmas time? I don't think so. I made a bunch of these as Christmas presents for our moms and siblings, and one for ourselves. This was our first chance to use ours and I am happy with how it turned out.
Clara received some very nice gifts from her friends. She got a pizza set, a cookie set, and a Minnie Mouse camera. All the kids were VERY interested in the camera and Clara has barely let it out of her hands since the party. We went on a walk today and she sat in the stroller taking "pictures" of everything we pointed out. (It doesn't actually take pictures - it just clicks and Minnie says a little phrase like "picture perfect!" or "good shot! hahaha!" and the back of the screen flashes a picture of Minnie doing something with her friends.)
Such a thoughtful girl to read the cards first.
Oh, and since it was a strawberry party, she had to wear her strawberry dress. This is one of her favorite outfits. It is so weird to me that she already has very obvious favorite outfits. This is one of them and the other is a green gingham dress.
Clara's new toy camera caused some intense moments of at the party. A hush went over the three and under crowd as they gazed in rapture at the magnificence of a Minnie Mouse camera when Clara pulled it from the bright red tissue paper. Thankfully no fights broke out.
The candle lighting ceremony and singing of the traditional birthday song was a big hit with Clara. It took her a couple of tries to blow out the candles but that was in large part due to the fact that Paul and I were keeping the flames a safe distance from her so she wouldn't reach out and grab them (which she attempted). We tried it again tonight (since today was her REAL birthday after all) and she did much better and got both flames out in one breath. Hopefully she made a good birthday wish.
And this, my friends, is a look of pure bliss at indulging in the frosting off your second birthday cake.
We saved Clara's presents from Grandma and Grandpa Nash for Sunday so we could Skype with them while Clara opened them. She was so excited to get a shopping cart, a "butterfly catching" net (which she initially told us was for catching fish), and a bug-fishing puzzle. She has already been on several "shopping trips" to collect groceries.
After Clara went to bed Saturday night, Paul and I couldn't stop talking about what a perfect day it was and how much fun Clara seemed to have had. She is acting like such a KID these days and not a bit like a toddler and it completely blows our minds. We love our little girl so much and are absolutely beyond grateful that we get to be her parents. That might sound cliche, but we mean it as deeply as we could possibly express. We are grateful to her for being our daughter, we are grateful to Kayli for choosing us to be her parents, and we are grateful to our Heavenly Father for his love that he would bring all of us together to make our family.
If anyone read this post all the way through, here is a video compilation of a few different videos I took during the day yesterday. It isn't fancy - just bare clips totalling about 6 1/2 minutes - but I figured my mom and Kayli would probably like to see it so it is on here specifically for them.
C:UsersAmyDesktopClara's 2nd Birthday from Amy Nash on Vimeo.