Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Gardner, Little Mama, Yogi & Fashionista

Clara turns three in less than a month (and reminds us on a daily basis now using her fingers and words that she will be 3 on her next birthday).  I have been collecting photos of her for a while and am going to through them all into this post because she is such a busy little thing.
Clara adores being outside.  Especially when I let her use the watering can to water the plants, which she hasn't been able to do since last summer because she gets kind of wet and it has been too cold.  But the other day was lovely so she spent a good hour feeding all the new flowers we planted.  I love this little yellow 4T dress that my mom bought for her.  It is my new favorite.

After a while I convinced her to take a break and pose for me.  Such a sweetheart.  I can almost always convince her to let me French braid her hair if I explain that I am doing a princess hairdo.

But then it was back to filling up the watering can and watering flowers some more.

Once we got bored with that (Rose was asleep for all this - her afternoon naps are turning out to be epic most days) we did an easter egg hunt in the backyard, just the two of us.  Clara is at that funny age where she notices an egg far away and runs right past the obvious ones in the grass at her feet.

She was only a little disappointed there was nothing in these eggs.

Clara's favorite game is Candyland and she wins every time we play and we aren't even letting her win.  Somebody take this girl to Vegas.

Clara has had Coach Nicole at West Valley Gymnastics almost since she started and while the relationship was a little rocky at first, Clara adores Coach Nicole and talks about her often.  But Coach Nicole is going on to get her Master's degree and won't be teaching any more so this was her last day.  Clara is actually moving up to the next level next week anyway (which means I won't get to follow her around and help her out - it will just be her, the coach, and a few other students!).  I'm both proud of her and sad.

Clara's best buddy in gymnastics in Tony - they were born one day apart.  It has been amazing watching them grow together over the past year and seeing their skills develop.  You can already tell at not quite three years old that Tony will likely excel in floor exercises and Clara's forte just might be the uneven bars.  I know it probably sounds weird to say that but if you saw the two of them on the equipment it is pretty obvious where they seem to have strengths.  We are going to miss Tony and her mom.

Rose is never happy hanging out on a quilt while Clara and I eat breakfast.  She insists on being present at the breakfast table.  I've just been putting the bumbo up next to us while I sat there with both girls but I think it might be time to break out the highchair.  Clara's favorite breakfast food is bacon followed by cereal (seriously? I give her muffins and pancakes and eggs she requests cereal? although buttermilk pancakes with blueberry syrup is probably a close second favorite).  Her favorite cereal is Golden Grahams although she also likes Honey Bunches of Oats and Honey Nut Cheerios. 

Clara is such a little mama.  She begged to change Rose's diaper for weeks and after proving herself by always being willing to get diapers and take them to the trash after I changed them, I let her start to help with my supervision.  She actually does a good job and is so proud of herself.  The first time I let her open one up that was poopy Clara pulled back and made a face, then triumphantly announced, "see mom, I thoughted it was poopy!".  Clara still makes a little gagging sound like she is throwing up in her mouth a little every time Rose has a bad diaper. 

Clara is not so great at helping with bottles though.  She tries to jam them in and pulls them out right when Rose gets going, tips them down so the milk isn't in the nipple, and loses interest fast.  But it is still cute when she wants to try.

One of Clara's very favorite things is licking the beaters whenever we make a treat like cookies or a cake.  She gets it all over her face but is perfectly happy about it.

I convinced Clara to do yoga a couple of weeks ago and taught her child's pose.  She can also do down dog, cobra, and happy baby but that's pretty much the extent of her knowledge.  We need to keep working on it.  This is one of my favorite pictures of her though.

While the yoga mat was out, I laid Rose on it and Clara was trying to get Rose in on the yoga action with a little cobra pose too.

Another way Clara has been exhibiting her nurturing tendencies is by taking care of her "baby".  This stuffed zebra is her baby (she has dolls and other stuffed animals but it is the zebra that she cares about and calls her baby and protects and dresses and pampers).  She is constantly going through Rose's close to find outfits that are on shelves she can reach or that are lying discarded on the floor after a bath and putting them on Zebra.  Then she grabs a swaddling blanket and carefully (and accurately if not very tightly) swaddles her Zebra, rocks and pats him, and lays him down to sleep or swing.  She even goes so far as to turn on a nightlight, the white noise machine and softly close the door while shushing me and explaining that it is time to be quiet because her baby is sleeping.  She also buckles him into the carseat if given the opportunity when it is inside.   

And finally, Clara LOVES trying on clothes and will tear apart her closet if I get preoccupied while she tries on every outfit she owns (unless it is pants which she doesn't like wearing much).  She can even get her church dresses which I keep on the top rack as long as she stands on a chair and yanks hard enough.  I found her like this after feeding Rose and putting her to sleep one day and had to get a picture. 

And that is the update on Clara-girl!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Easter 2014

I took the girls' Easter pictures a month ago when our tulips first started coming into bloom.  They were pretty good sports about it (as much as you can expect an almost 3-year old and a 2 month old to be) and I found that Rose did best propped up in the bumbo rather than relying on Clara to help support her.  We took them in the front yard right after afternoon naps.

The next few are more of the outtakes.  Rose kept sticking out her tongue.

And I got a lot of cheesy grins from Clara.

And looks of exasperation from both of them when I kept clicking away.  I can just see Clara thinking, "sheesh mom, get this over with already."

We had a nice Easter morning and Clara was super excited about her Easter basket (which we went way overboard on - oops), especially getting the movie "Frozen".  But she also really loved some fairy wings I found for her and the new flip-flops that Paul picked out. 
After church and naps we got together with our friends the Rowlands and the Fischlis for Easter dinner - ham, rolls, scalloped potatoes, green beans, etc.  It was super yummy.  Then we all marched over to our place for an Easter egg hunt in the front yard.

Here is the gang minus Rose and the adults. 

Clara ate WAY too much candy and we learned that her favorites are jelly beans and anything covered in foil that she can peel off.  But the next day she didn't even ask for any (and I didn't offer).  At breakfast we asked Clara why we celebrate Easter and while it took her a second to think about it she eventually explained (all on her own without any prompting) that Easter is when Jesus died and was resurrected and his body came back with his spirit.  All those conversations I have been having with her in the week or two leading up to the actual holiday paid off.  Now to remember next year to remind the Easter bunny to dial it back a notch or two on the Easter baskets.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Julia Rose at 3 months old

I cannot believe this little miss is three months old!  She is such a fun little thing and has started giggling when I get right in front of her and make silly noises and funny faces.  It is the cutest thing ever and really boosts my ego knowing that I can entertain and delight her that way.  Rose loves, loves, LOVES being talked to.  She is a very social little thing and her smile lights up whenever you make eye contact and talk to her directly, especially when we mimic the sounds she makes like "gaahhhh" or "geehhhhh".  Rose also loves sticking her little tongue out and I can tell when she is starting to get hungry because she starts sticking her fists in her mouth and gnawing and slobbering all over them, using her tongue to explore and see if there is any food there.

Rose is definitely getting stronger and does pretty well sitting propped up with pillows or in the bumbo.  I try to keep her from lying flat on her back too much because she favors her left side which has flattened out her head a little bit and we have been working to take the pressure off there so it can get a nice round shape.  Thankfully our efforts have been paying off and the flatness isn't as severe as it was a few weeks ago.  She tolerates tummy time for a little while and it holding up her head more than ever and starting to push up a little with her arms and legs. 

Rosie Posie is her nickname and it is really sticking.  Clara calls her this almost all the time and so do her cousins.  She seems to really enjoy music and will lay on a quilt happily for 15 minutes while I play Disney songs on the piano for her while Clara sings along.  It is a new favorite activity for all of us, I think.

Rose has been sleeping pretty well at nights.  She can go for 9-10 hour stretches and at least a couple times a week I only have to wake up once a night, although she still wakes up twice most nights, usually midnight and 4:00 a.m.  Her daytime naps haven't completely normalized but if I put her in the swing she usually takes a good solid morning nap from about 8:30 to 10:30 and then another 2-3 hour nap starting around noon.  Her hardest time is the late afternoon because she really needs one more little nap to get her through but it is usually only 20-30 minutes and she gets really grumpy about it.  That nap usually falls right around the time I need to start making dinner so when things go well I get the meal made while she is taking that nap and when they don't go well we order pizza. 

Clara loves her baby sister so much and asked me to take their picture this morning right after she woke up (Rose had already been awake and dressed for a while).  Clara loves helping change diapers and give baths and is always so proud whenever she makes Rose smile. 

Rose weighs about 14 1/2 pounds now (I took her to the doctor last week when she had a fever and bad congestion for 3 days - it was just a cold so no biggie but I figured I might as well check).  Her little legs are getting so chubby that some of her 3-6 month size pants are a little tight on her and she can't wear all of them any more, even though the dresses in that size fit perfectly.  She gives slobbery open mouth kisses any time I put my face close enough to hers.

We adore our little Miss Rose.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Utah trip while the house was being sold

The girls and I got back from our trip to Utah on Tuesday but since then we have been busy with house stuff for the sale and then Rose came down with a bad cold (fever and awful congestion).  The flight there was a breeze.  There wasn't a single whimper from either of our little babes.  Clara was talking about the flight for a solid week ahead of time so she was super pumped to finally be at the airport going through security and was a big helper by carrying her backpack and staying right by my side like my little duckling.  On the plane she read the in-flight safety manual and the airline provided magazines while snacking on pretzels and orange juice (and fruit snacks and apple sauce and yogurt covered raisins that I brought with us).

We had a plane change in Los Angeles where we hit a snag when the airline didn't bring the stroller back up to the gate and instead sent it to the baggage claim area but both girls just chilled out while I got it sorted out.  While we were standing just outside the plane but not in the terminal, waiting for the stroller to be brought up, a man got off the plane and gave me such a nice compliment about how well-behaved both girls were on the plane and he said he felt like I handled it all with "grace under pressure".  It really made my day.  Seriously, any time you see a mom with her kids flying alone you should say something like this to her because it is huge.  It was even better when he came back a minute later and handed me his business card, explaining that he was a manager at a hotel in San Francisco and wanted to offer me and Paul a complimentary night stay for a little getaway since he remembered what it was like being at this stage of life. 

Jennie had brought Emma, Lily and Adelaide up to spend the week with us at my parents' house while we were there.  It was their first time meeting Rose and they were enamored.  Emma and Lily were so good with her and could constantly be found laying next to her giving her kisses or cooing at her.  Adelaide kept crawling over and swatting at Rose affectionately to the point where somebody had to constantly keep Adelaide away when Rose was laying on a blanket. 

Rose got to meet all sorts of relatives.  This is my aunt Renita enjoying the fact that one of Rose's favorite pastimes is snuggling.  And snoozing.

Jessica had rigged up a "fishing pole" and cut out a bunch of paper fish so the girls could "fish" off the balcony into the backyard.  Jess would stand underneath the balcony and attach the fish or small prizes like Minnie Mouse socks or Starburst jelly beans.  The girls were in heaven and had fun taking turns.  My mom got Clara the new outfit and Clara demanded to wear it as soon as she saw it.  The hat is my favorite and I so wish I could get it in my size.

One night we planned to go up into the canyon to roast hot dogs but Mueller Park (where we planned to go) wasn't open yet for the season so we ended up at a local park with a portable grill.  The big girls played on a big grassy hill and we had a nice little picnic with the most amazing macadamia nut cookies you have ever tried that I found here.  Seriously you should try them - they are like my new favorite cookie, which is saying a lot since I have high cookie standards and I wasn't a huge fan of white chocolate macadamia nut cookies to begin with.

It was nice spending time with family.  I think I have mentioned this before but my mom has 3 sisters and 1 brother and none of them ever married or had kids so my siblings and I are the only grandkids and my aunts are sort of like additional moms.  I lived with them more than one summer to earn money for college working in Salt Lake while my family was living in Nebraska or Idaho.  My grandma has Alzheimers and isn't doing so great.  She cannot seem to grasp that all 5 great-grandkids are girls, even the ones with long hair and bows wearing pink dresses, and constantly asks how old the little boy I am holding is.  The obsession with boys is because my grandma had 8 older brothers and she talks about them constantly.  Regardless of gender though, my grandma sure loves babies and was so happy to talk to them and try to get them to smile at her. 

I love this picture of my grandpa and grandma Johnson with Rose.

And I caught this picture of my dad (Grandpa Russ) playing with Rose before he realized I wasn't just taking a picture of her.  Our timing was perfect because we got to be there for my dad's 63rd birthday.

We are a family of readers and all the girls adore having books read to them.  Grandpa Russ willingly obliged.  I finished a good book while I was home too called "Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore" and I definitely recommend it for a fun, quick read.  I don't know why but the girls wanted this Christmas book that is a spin on Goldilocks and the Three Bears (except with Santa eating cookies, etc.) read over and over.

In the mornings while everyone was getting ready  the girls had fun playing together in the living room and were a big help entertaining Rose for me while I did my hair and makeup.  I wish I had some pictures of this, but Emma, Lily and Clara all slept together each night in Jessica's bedroom.  Each of them had an individual little cot or air mattress set up taking up all the available floor space around Jessica's room and then Jessica would sleep on her bed in case any of them woke up (what a good aunt).  It took them forever to settle down each night, and they often didn't fall asleep until well after 9:00 p.m. except for the nights when I put Clara down at 7:30 and she fell asleep first, in which case Emma and Lily were better about keeping quiet since they knew they shouldn't wake her up. 

The great thing about this arrangement was that once the girls were down my mom could just listen to the monitor while they chattered and me, Jennie, and Jessica could go to the gym for the 8:00 p.m. yoga class followed by a 9:00 p.m. Zumba class for Jennie and me while Jessica trained for the half-marathon she is planning to run this summer.

One morning my mom and I drove the girls down to meet Paul's grandparents even though he wasn't with us on this trip.  Great-grandma Nash just had eye surgery the week before so it was nice to see her doing so well.  She had fun meeting Rose who was in a really cheerful mood and showed off some of her best full-face smiles.

Clara had just seen Grandpa and Grandma Nash a couple weeks before so she had fun playing with grandpa Nash and "gluing" herself to his back.  It's a favorite game of hers and she will practically choke you to death with her fierce grip until you tickle her off.

But once Clara got ahold of Grandma Nash's phone, she was oblivious to the rest of the world while she watched videos of her Nash cousins and played games.

We also stopped by Great-grandpa and grandma Robertson (Paul's mom's parents) for a short visit and it was good to see them too.  They live just around the corner from the Jordan River temple, where we got married.

On Thursday morning we took all five girls (ages 4, 2, 2, 10 months, and almost 3 months for the record) to the zoo and they loved it.  We actually had some of the best animal encounters I have ever had at a zoo.  Clara carried the map around and consulted it frequently.

The girls loved watching the sea lions who were super playful and obligingly swam right past the windows over and over again.

Probably my favorite was the grizzly bear that walked right up and pressed his nose to the window right in front of the girls though.  It was amazing.  There were two other bears with him and it was fascinating to watch them walk around their habitat.

Jennie and I were carrying Adelaide and Rose most of the day so Grandma Cece did most of the heavy lifting rotating between the three older girls to give them the best views.  I don't have pictures of these animals but the Amur Tiger prowled back and forth right in front of us for a good 5 minutes and we got to see the big gorilla who goes into the corner by a window every day at the same time and covers himself in a blanket to take a snooze. 

Another favorite adventure was going to the Bountiful rec center for some swimming at the awesome kiddie pool, lazy river, and water slide.  The girls all had a blast although Rose wasn't loving it at first.  Actually, she seemed pretty ambivalent about it at best, even by the end.  But at least she wasn't crying.  I will call it a success.  We took turns sitting with the babies and taking the bigger girls down the slide or in the lazy river, but Grandma Cece did the most sitting in the shallows with the under-one-year crowd.

Oh yeah, this is the part about having bangs that I REALLY hate - how they look when they get wet from swimming.  Blech.  Oh well.  Can I just say how happy I am that we have another baby girl who gets to wear my favorite newborn swimsuit that I bought when Clara was a baby? 

Jennie, Jessica and I took the girls to the Church History Museum in downtown Salt Lake to see the exhibits.  The girls tried pulling a handcart, learning traditional Mexican dancing while wearing dress-up skirts, and harvesting wooden vegetables at the indoor garden.

One afternoon while Jennie was out shopping and I was watching the girls by myself, I decided we ought to make paper dresses.  The girls picked out the colors from a stack of colored paper that has gone unused for years and then I helped construct individual designs for each of them. 

The girls also did an Easter egg hunt in the backyard, which they loved.  Lily was the most enthusiastic of all and it was hilarious watching her squeal and giggle while she ran from egg to egg.

And after our week of fun it was time to fly back home.  The return trip was much more difficult since Rose had come down with a cold and fussed a bit more, but overall the girls did well.

And the best news was that a couple of days after we got multiple offers on our house and are now under contract.  All in all, it was a very successful trip.