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