Monday, June 30, 2014

Moving Day and a House Remodel Update

Well, we finally made the move from our house on Willowmont Ave. in San Jose to the new house in Dublin (California, not Ireland).  Actually, we have been in the process of moving for the past month and a half, essentially ever since we closed on the house.  Since Paul is planning to do most of the work on the house himself and since his commute from San Jose into San Francisco was brutal, he went ahead and moved in to the new house the week we closed so that he has been able to work on the house every evening without worrying about waking the girls up with hammering and nailing and other construction nuisances like the terrible dust from sanding drywall. 
I would bring the girls up on the weekends and we would all camp out in the living room together.  It was no fun for any of us being apart during the week but Paul would call me every night around 11:30 or so when he was finishing up the project he was working on that night.  And I would drive up with the girls at least once or twice during the week anyway to meet up with contractors for bids on a couple of projects like windows and a laundry room that we were hiring out.  Every time I came up I loaded the back of the minivan up with boxes that I packed during the evenings after the girls had gone to bed so by this past weekend all that was really left in the house to move were the beds, couches, lawn mower, grill, and a few additional boxes with things that we used up to the last minute like dishes and a box of toys and books for the girls.  Other than those things though, I did about 80% of the move myself on trips I was making anyway in the minivan.  Even with all the preliminary moving though, it still took all morning on Saturday to get things packed into a Uhaul and that was with the help of our friends Johannes and Christine (Christine let Clara come play at her house with Silas and Liesel so that she wouldn't be in the way and Johannes helped Paul with the heavy lifting while I went around gathering smaller things and cleaning - Rose slept practically the entire morning because she is the most helpful babe ever) and Brad and Brandon.
Our plan is/was to do the four bedrooms first so that we will have nice clean living space to move into.  Unfortunately, we aren't quite to the finish line with that (doors, baseboard, trim, and subfloor all need to be installed still to make them move-in-able and even then there will be smaller finishing projects that need doing (the list never ends when you own a fixer-upper) like building closet shelves, trimming around windows, screwing the face plates back on outlets, etc.  But since we had to be out of the San Jose house by the 4th of July we decided to bite the bullet, make the move, and I will take the girls to Utah for just a little bit longer to be out of Paul's hair while he gets those things finished up and the carpet goes down. 
But it really is getting close and Paul has done such a great job and worked so hard on our new house.  And he has had some help along the way from his cousin-in-law (I guess that is the official relationship) Kevin and his sons, as well as a couple of ward members from the new ward doing things like sheetrocking the ceiling and demolitioning floors and a bathroom vanity and hauling all the debris out to a dumpster. 
I just love how it is turning out.  Even the little things that most people probably wouldn't notice or think about like the new LED light fixtures he put in the hallway make such a huge difference.  Here are some pictures of some of the progress:
The master bathroom/closet area had drop-down ceilings for some ridiculous fluorescent light fixture so Paul tore it all out and raised the ceiling height by a foot or so.  Here it is with the ceiling torn out:

And then after Paul installed sheetrock and can lights:

And as of this morning with texture, primer and paint.  We aren't bothering with edging the walls and ceilings since Paul wants to install crown molding throughout so I know this doesn't look super finished or anything (and probably won't for a couple of months) but the ceiling and walls are all clean and new and there will be new flooring by the time I get back from Utah so it is getting close!

The laundry area was a really important part of the house for me since I hate going out to the garage to do laundry.  There were three little closets in the same corner of this house - a coat closet, a utility closet, and a little linen closet - that we decided to combine into one laundry closet.  Because it involved plumbing, hvac, reframing, and a bunch of other stuff, we hired this out.  Here is the space right after demo happened with a view from the living room.  The empty space that was a doorway is now framed in and will be drywalled and closed up in the next week or two.

Here is the other side of the area viewed from just inside the master bedroom.  The opening on the far left was the linen closet entrance and the opening on the right was the utility closet entrance.  So we are going from three doors down to one door, which will be the old linen closet entrance.

And here is the beautiful new washer and dryer stacking set installed and ready to run.  There is an air intake on the bottom left of this picture (wrapped in yellow insulation material) that will be framed in but the space about that will be outfitted with shelves for laundry baskets, detergent, etc.  It isn't a big laundry room by any means, but it is functional and SO much more convenient than the old laundry (that was in the kitchen of all places - we are reclaiming that space for a fridge and pantry to expand the kitchen) or in the garage (which was the only other viable option).

Here is a before shot of the master bathroom vanity area:

And this is pretty much how it currently looks after demo (although the light fixture is gone now).

We tried four different grey options (after spending way too much time looking at 50 color samples and narrowing it down) and went with the one in the middle on the top (its called Shoreline from Benjamin Moore).  We are big pansies when it comes to wall color and are just doing one color throughout the entire house rather than choosing different colors for each room.  Besides, it makes it easier down the road if we decide to sell the house if it has all been painted in one neutral color.

Paul had an excellent helper when it came time to primer the newly textured walls.  By the way, there are no pictures of this but getting to this point took weeks of removing wood paneling on walls, scraping off glue, texturing with drywall compound, repairing cracks, fixing electrical issues, and sanding.  But all that stuff is boring to photograph and doesn't look like much even though it is crazy tons of work.


This is a picture of Clara's bedroom after priming:

And another after painting (ceilings have all been painted too) and installing some of the subfloor:

And here is a picture of the huge dumpster that was filled with debris from inside the house.  We'll have to get another one when we move onto the living room, family room, and kitchen.

The girls have been angels through all of this.  Clara has been thrilled about getting to stay up late and get her hands dirty "helping" with projects and between times she has enjoyed watching movies on Paul's computer.  She finally got over her fears of Captain Hook and Lucifer the Cat and now loves watching Peter Pan and Cinderella (although she is limited to one movie a day and she doesn't get to watch them every day). 

And Rose has proved to be best baby in the world by still going to sleep at 6:00 p.m. every night, like clockwork, and staying asleep until 6:00 a.m. even when Paul was installing subfloor using an air compressor and a staple gun (it was crazy loud and she just snoozed away like construction sounds were the white noise we have set her up with every night since she was born or something - it was insane). 

Hopefully the next time I do a post about the house we will be moved into the bedrooms and I can post true "after" shots of the remodel.  Except then it will mean it is time to move on to the next project... sigh...

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Julia Rose at 5 months old

Rose is excited about being 5 months old.  She is such a little doll and we just can't get enough of her happy smiles and gurgles and chuckles.  In the past week or so she has noticeably gotten stronger and is pushing up really high on her forearms when laying on her stomach or holding a sitting position on her own for 5-10 seconds pretty easily before she slowly starts to topple.  If I put just a little support on either side of her she can sit up on her own for quite a bit longer and you can tell by her expression that she thinks sitting up is the bee's knees.

Whenever I take Rose's photos Clara is always hovering on the side and wanting to get in the shot with Rose but as soon as I tell Clara I am ready for her she doesn't want to cooperate (typical these days, the little stinker).  The only picture she agreed to was if she could lay beside Rose and pretend to be sleeping (who knows why that is what she wanted to do?). 

Over the past month we have been introducing Rose to solid foods and she has taken to eating like a champion.  She eats solids twice a day, usually around 7:30 a.m. and 3:00 p.m., and almost always consumes 2 of the baby food servings at a time, which seems like a lot to me.  The only foods that she seems averse to so far are peaches and bananas, which she tolerates but makes faces and fusses for something different whenever I give them to her.  Her favorites seem to be sweet potatoes and applesauce.  So far she has been introduced to each of the following (pretty much in this order):

Green beans
Sweet Potatoes

I still have parsnips, spinach, rutabagas, quinoa, kale, chickpeas, lentils, apricot, rice, coconut, avocado, chicken, salmon, turkey, ham and beef to introduce her to in the next month or so.  I'm pretty aggressive about introducing different foods but I always wait 2-3 days before adding a new food to watch for any reactions (none so far) and we definitely knew that Rose was ready for solids based on her ability to hold her head up, use her tongue to push the food back in her mouth, and her interest in what we were eating (it is already difficult to eat while holding her on my lap because she just wants to grab anything and everything off my plate).  If anyone cares about it (I've had some friends ask in the past), this link from a pediatrician mom who is a friend of a friend is super helpful in giving some guidance about introducing foods to babies. 

Personality wise, Rose is an exuberant little gal.  She adores attention and as long as somebody will look at her and talk to her she still generously doles out her mega watt smiles.  Rose loves "Eensy, Weensy Spider" and "Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes" and she does these hilarious little chuckles whenever I start the game with her and then at the end too when I tickle her.  She is very ticklish on her neck and under her arms but not really on her feet.  She is happy to spend long stretches jumping in her jumparoo, especially when I move it around to the garage when I have been packing boxes so she can watch or out to the yard where she laughs and jumps while Clara and I play "Red light, Green light" or blow bubbles.  And if we stand in front of Rose and jump up and down (like her) Rose thinks it is hysterical.

Clara still loves being a little momma and especially likes to be the first to open the door to Rose's room after a nap and run in to see her to "wake her up".  I let her try feeding Rose yesterday now that Rose knows what she is doing and Clara thought that was pretty awesome.

As far as sleep goes, Rose does amazing at night.  Right around 4 months old she started sleeping through the night and maybe in past month she has woken up two times, which has been wonderful.  She goes to sleep around 6:00 p.m. every night (she would go down earlier except that I keep her awake as long as possible) and wakes up around 6:15 most every morning (and even then she lays in her crib and happily talks to herself for quite a while as she works herself out of her swaddle).  Sleeping through the night this early on without any sleep training has been a big difference between Clara and Rose.  Another big difference though is that Rose isn't much of a napper during the day (probably because she gets most of the sleep she needs during the night) and forget trying to get her to take a nap if we are out and about because it just won't happen whereas Clara could (and would) sleep anywhere so long as she got three solid naps during the daytime.  She usually takes one super short (like 20 minutes or less) nap in the morning, then a really good nap of about 2 (sometimes 3) hours in the middle of the day (typically around noon to 3-ish). 

Rose is definitely getting some length to her hair - enough that I was finally able to manage two wee pigtails on the top of her head last week.  She looked so darling with them in and was a good sport about having them done.  But Rose also has a pretty significant bald patch on the back of her noggin' that is going to take a while to grow in.

Tabby sent this darling outfit for Rose and it is one of our favorites for her because it is so cute and comfortable for her.  So comfortable that I actually dressed her in this twice for the express purpose of taking her picture in it and each time just as I pulled out the camera Rose would, um, have an "accident" that required massive cleanup and a change of outfits.  But we finally got the pics that I wanted and I just love her smile in this picture.

Rose still only rolls from her tummy to her back and not the other way around but she is so, so close to being able to roll from her back to her tummy and only gets stuck on her shoulder.  She should be able to do it pretty soon I think.  I also feel like she is doing some preliminary teething because likes to chomp down on my finger or knuckle crazy hard and gnaw on it like it is providing relief to sore gums.  She also chews her own fingers and has started drooling more and I can sort of see that her bottom gums are a little swollen where two front baby teeth are sitting below the surface, but honestly, it could still be another month or two before they come up enough to break through I think.

Another trick Rose has figured out this past month is how to grab her toes and hold onto them.  It makes us laugh and Clara always points out that Rose is doing yoga because I told her that was a yoga pose called "happy baby".

The nickname Rosie Posie has really stuck and we (me, Paul and especially Clara) call her this all the time.  I like to recite the nursery rhyme "Georgie Porgie, Pudding and Pie" for her except using "Rosie Posie" and changing genders and Clara thinks it is hilarious. 

At 6 months Rose's adoption can be finalized and we only have one more (of 4) post-placement home study visits with our caseworker where we will get the last of the paperwork that will need to be filed with the court to get finalization set up. 
We adore our little Rosie girl. 

Friday, June 6, 2014

Clara's 3-year old pics and birthday interview

Okay, fair warning, this blog post is pretty much just for me.  I don't even know that any of this is stuff Clara would be interested in reading about herself in the future but I know that if I don't write these things down I will lose some of these memories that are precious to me.  They are the kind of moments from our days together where time seems to stand still for a breath and my heart feels like it is being squeezed tight for love of her and gratitude that I am her mother and she is my daughter. 

We went to the San Jose Rose Gardens to try to take 3-year old pictures of her.  But to be honest, Clara wasn't that interested in cooperating.  At all.  The few pictures I got of her actually looking at the camera were the result of bribing her with fruit snacks because all she wanted to do was twirl and run away (in her defense, the rose garden does feel like a maze or at least a good place to play hide and seek, especially when you are only 3 feet tall).  And Rose was not too happy about hanging out in the stroller.  The whole experience was kind of a fiasco, honestly, which is how a lot of our outings feel these days.  But the roses were lovely and all in bloom and I know that Clara truly felt beautiful in her special dress that I had ordered for her birthday (which is the same size as all her other dresses except this is from a small boutique seller and obviously just runs bigger - I almost think she will be able to wear this next year for her 4th birthday) and the crown French braid I did for her.

Some memorable things Clara has said/done lately:

  • She is obsessed with picking flowers from the yard.  And every time she does she has to go inside the house, pick a cup from the drawer where I keep all of her sippy cups, fill it with water on her own from the dispenser on the fridge and take it back outside for her flower.  Then she waves her hands over the flower while singing "flower gleam and glow, let your power shine, make the clock reverse, bring back what once was mine..." from "Tangled".
  • While chatting outside with her the other day, I taught her the "He loves me,  he loves me not" game with a daisy she had picked.  She caught on immediately and ran to pick a new daisy for herself then proceeded to recite, "He loves me, he doesn't love me".  Clearly she thought I was using improper grammar because even when I corrected her she stubbornly continued on "he loves me, he doesn't love me not". 
  • Clara was taking her bath in the evening while I was feeding Rose a bottle in the rocking chair in Rose's room immediately across from the bathroom.  It doesn't have line of sight but I can hear everything and Clara sings in the bathtub most of the time or at least talks to herself so I can monitor her while getting Rose to sleep some nights.  Anyway, Clara was having a grand time in the bathtub reciting lines from "Peg + Cat" (they have a section called "Splashing Some More" where Peg and Cat are in the bathtub doing math problems which is why this is often the thread of conversation during Clara's baths), and I could hear water sloshing like crazy so I knew there was a good chance the bathroom floor would be drenched when I went back in.  After laying Rose down I walked in on Clara who had dumped about half of an almost brand new oversized bottle of my shampoo into the tub (my bad for leaving it sitting on the edge of the tub - I'm a little surprised this hasn't happened before I guess) to make bubbles for herself (why my expensive shampoo instead of her bubble bath solution that was sitting right beside it?!) and the splashing she had been doing was to create foamy bubbles.  The half-full bottle of shampoo was in the tub with her taking on water and diluting the remaining shampoo that she hadn't squeezed out.  It was funny, but I was really frustrated about the wasted shampoo so I got down on her level and very seriously explained in my stern voice that I was not happy about it and that the shampoo was mommy's and she was not to use it to make bubbles in the tub.  My temper was in control and I didn't shout or anything, but Clara is usually so good that she doesn't get these kinds of reprimands very often and I could just see the gears turning over in her head before she asked, "are you angry mommy?" and her little chin quavered and she started to cry.  Then she leaned into me for a sudsy wet hug and I felt like the absolute worst person in the world.  Being the disciplinarian is not a fun part of parenting at all.  Once things were soothed over and Clara was in her jammies we shared the mint chip haagen daaz that I had stashed away in the fridge and an extra long snuggle to show there were no hard feelings.  My heart just swells with love for this sweet, sincere little girl of mine and every time I wash my hair with the runny and diluted shampoo that I am using up I think about that moment of parenting and feel gratitude to have experienced the sweet and the bitter. 
  • Bedtime routine for Clara has evolved a bit.  It used to be that she wanted us to stand at her door and sing song after song for her.  Then we went through a phase where she would have demand after demand and excuse after excuse to get out of bedtime (though to her credit, she always stays in her bed and never just lets herself out of her room.  Sure, she hollers and hollers and sometimes resorts to fake crying - she is a pro at it and could easily win an Oscar for some of her performances - but mostly she stays put).  Anyway, we have normalized into a routine for some months now consisting of brushing teeth, then prayers, then turn on nightlights, then read two books, then get her a sippy cup of ice water, then one more trip to the bathroom at her insistence even if I know she just went 10 minutes before, and then, finally, she demands "snuggles".  Snuggles with Clara are sort of painful and hilarious because she basically bounces all around the bed and pulls my hair while telling me that I am Rapunzel and she is Mother Gothel and chattering about this and that while I am shushing her and pretending to fall asleep and trying to convince her to close her eyes by setting an example of slumber for her only to have her start trying to pry my eyelids apart to peek at me with a wolfish grin and if I even so much as twitch in a way that indicates to her that I am thinking about slipping out of the bed and heading for the door to end snuggle time she throws her arms around me in a tight hug and starts in with the sweet talk, telling me "I love you SO much", which of course gets me to stick around longer and prove I am a sucker because immediately upon being convinced that I am staying put she goes right back to her craziness.
  • Clara LOVES being out and about and having plans and fun things to look forward to.  In this way, I think my personality has really rubbed off on her.  She is always up for a trip to Target or Costco (and there is no question that she will stay behind even if Paul and I are both around and only one of us is running the errand).  But her favorite destinations are the Farmer's Market (she looks forward to it as much as I do, if not more, since I always cave and get her a shave ice - childhood is short and summers are even shorter, right?) and the library (she spends a little time looking at the books but she really loves that there are kid computers with colorful keypads that are right at her height - our library also recently acquired the cutest step stools from some eagle scout project so Clara likes helping me scan books to check out, much to my exasperation since she takes FOREVER to do it and I am worried about creating a backup at the checkout area and she wrestles the books with me when I try to help her.  And of course she also loves gymnastics and church and the kids club at the gym.  Basically, she just loves being out and about.  Which has been tricky since Rose sort of hates our outings and definitely the carseat and we are still waiting for her to come around on that but in the meantime have cut back on things like Happy Hollow and the beach since they are just too long for Rose to handle very well right now. 
  • For her birthday Clara's Grandma & Grandpa Nash gave her the game Hungry, Hungry Hippos.  Clara favors the blue hippo and if the other hippos start getting too aggressive with the marble Clara grabs their mouths and explains, "NO BUDDIES! Use nice manners!" and forces me to wait while she has the blue hippo gobble up all the marbles.  It cracks me up that she calls the hippos "buddies."
  • The "nice manners" idea is one that Clara has really latched onto.  To her it means being good and if someone is being bad they are using "naughty manners".  I didn't intentionally set out to create this concept for her but one day a number of months back she had done something (I have no recollection of what it was) but she knew it was wrong and felt bad about it and told me "I am bad".  And it broke my heart that she would think of herself as bad, which isn't true, so we talked about the choices we make and why we should make good choices and I told her that she is not bad.  Anyway, somehow that good and bad conversation morphed into nice and naughty manners and now that is how we talk about things around here I guess.  Sometimes Clara accuses friends her age of naughty manners for doing things like playing with the toy she wanted to play with (how dare they).  But at least she completely understands why I am asking of her when I tell her to use her nice manners. 
  • Clara is obsessed with the color purple.  And fancy dresses or shoes or jewelry.  We went into San Francisco a couple of weeks ago to meet up with friends and while riding the streetcar Clara noticed that an older woman (definitely in her 70's) was wearing bright orangy-red lipstick and Clara complimented her on it.  Because Clara is impressed by anyone who is fancy like that.  Clara notices when I dress up and will gush, "ooh, I love your pretty dress mommy!" or want to try on my jewelry if I wear anything more than pearl earrings. 
  • At 3 years old, Clara weighs 30 pounds and is 38 inches tall.  Which means that it is likely that next year if we take her to Disneyland she will be able to go on Splash Mountain, Space Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, and Soarin' Over California, all of which have a 40" height requirement which I think she will pass before she turns 4.
  • I am required on an almost daily basis to do either Anna braids (two braids) or Elsa braids (a single braid or twist, preferably draping to one side so she can let it lie on her shoulder like Elsa from "Frozen".  Every now and then I try to change things up with a ponytail or pigtails or telling her I am giving her a princess bun or putting her hair half up.  But this has reduced her to tears on more than one occasion, so braids it is most days.
  • This girl will dip anything in Ranch dressing.  She would drink the stuff if I would let her.  But at the same time, she loves eating carrots and celery and peppers so much that she will eat them even without ranch to dip them in if I feel like she has overdone it with the ranch dressing. 
  • Speaking of food, Clara does not like anything spicy, which includes onions and radishes.  But she is still a very good eater, especially when she can identify everything on her plate.  Things like casseroles or cafĂ© rio salads or pastas with sauce are harder to get her to eat but if I keep all the components separate so she can identify which vegetables or grains or meats went into the dish, she will eat them all.  Which seems backwards since I always hear about parents "hiding" broccoli or cauliflower into their kids foods instead of having to make it totally apparent what is being eaten.  Also, the girl would subsist entirely on apple slices and applesauce if it was left up to her.  And rainbow sherbet (though her second favorite flavor of ice cream is definitely Haagan Daaz Mint Chip).
  • In an effort to give my brain a break from the "Frozen" soundtrack, I have been letting Clara listen to a variety of different music from classical on the radio (she listens but since there aren't words and songs are rarely repeated she hasn't latched onto it much) to kiddie songs (she seems to get bored with these although her favorite is the song that goes "I like to eat, eat, eat apples and bananas") to songs from my iTunes playlist.  And she definitely has 2 favorite songs that she asks me to play for her over and over.  One is "Me and My Broken Heart" by the band Rixton which kind of has a pop, sort of Maroon 5 sound with an uptempo beat and the other is "I don't want to love somebody else" which is a sad and sentimental song by the group A Great Big World which is mainly guitar and violin - simple and acoustic sounding.  And I find it endlessly fascinating how she listens closely to the lyrics of the second song and wants to discuss with me about the "sad guy" who "doesn't love somebody".  We talk about it while we drive and she tells me about the people that she loves and you can see her feeling so bad for the person singing the song who doesn't have anybody to love.  But then she wants to listen to it again and again and frowns a little frown of concern and empathy and my heart just melts for her and her sweetness and goodness and the fact that she is growing up right before my eyes.
  • Clara has recently started demanding that I carry her again.  I think maybe it is a jealousy thing because of Rose.  Like when we go to the gym she doesn't want to hold my hand and walk across the parking lot.  Instead I have to lug the diaper bag and her backpack along with 16 pounds of Rose plus carseat in one arm and 30 pounds of Clara in the other arm.  It is quite a workout before even starting the workout.  And if I try to coax her along holding my hand when she decides she needs to be carried a tantrum ensues.  So if anybody has any good tips for dealing with tantrums and/or this kind of behavior where unreasonable demands are made, I am all ears.
And finally, here is her 3rd birthday interview video.  I tried filming her a number of times and she was so goofy about it and one time I didn't have the mic function working and didn't record the sound.  The video is a little under 4 minutes after editing down about 30 minutes of us having this conversation over lunch one day where I basically just asked "what's your favorite _______?" since she wasn't responding much to my open ended questions.  But it is her moments of distraction throughout it that I find most endearing.  Gosh I just love her.

Clara's 3rd Birthday Interview from Amy Nash on Vimeo.