Friday, November 21, 2014

Julia Rose at 10 Months Old

Our little Rose is just the sweetest, cutest little (well, not so little) thing you've ever seen.  This past month her personality has really been starting to shine through a lot.  She is really interacting a lot with those around her.  Many evenings when I get the girls in bed, though I feel exhausted after our long, crazy days, I just feel so completely full of love and gratitude for our two little misses and how well they played together that day that I think my heart just might burst.  I seriously cannot get enough of the two of them when they are making each other giggle nonstop with their little games.  A favorite is a game of chasing each other through the fabric tunnels or when Clara gets inside the circus tent and peeks out at Rose who laughs and laughs.  Rose also finds her daddy endlessly hilarious to play peek-a-boo with or when he pretends to drink her bottles with exaggerated gulps.  And this past month she has learned to do the actions for patty-cake on her own and especially loves throwing it in the air at the end.

There have been some rough days (and nights) this past month too, though.  Rose cut 3 new teeth at the same time and it was pretty miserable for her.  She now has 4 top teeth and 3 bottom teeth and I think they are still bugging her a little bit because her sleep patterns are still a little off (that, or she has just gotten used to some middle of the night cuddles with mommy).  I had my first ever disastrous airplane flights with an infant when I took Rose to Utah for a wedding while Paul and Clara stayed home.  With the teething and the poor timing of the flights (why in the world did I schedule evening flights when I knew she would be tired already and unlikely to fall asleep?!), it was pretty brutal.

But normally she is a cheerful little sprite.  I think the she loves getting kisses before bedtime (one of the little traditions we do is to carry her around to each person, including Clara, for kisses before taking her into her room to rock her).  She has started reciprocating with kisses of her own (which can be a little scary because they are usually open-mouthed and you never know if she is going to chomp down with those sharp little teeth of hers!). 

She crawls SO FAST.  It has been so much fun having her be mobile because it makes her so much happier and has opened up the world to her.  Another favorite pastime for Rose is to "catch" balls that we roll to her.  She actually has really good coordination and has got the timing down for snatching up a ball that is rolling to or past her. 

Clara loved to put leaves in her mouth.  With Rose it is paper.  She wants to chew napkins, construction paper, receipts, pages of books, grocery lists (oh my - she threw the biggest, most mortifying tantrum in the supermarket the other day because I wouldn't give her the yellow post-it that I had written my shopping list on), etc. When she got bored with this little photo shoot I bribed her with a scrap of construction paper from an art project Clara had been working on.

We recently had new French doors installed looking out onto the backyard (we're still finishing up a couple of other projects but a blog post about the house is coming soon) and Rose has really been enjoying the new view with double the window space she had before.  She usually crawls over to one particular window and stands up to look outside.  It's so darling.  Except that we are going to constantly have handprints there.  Oh well. 

Her hair is getting so thick and is starting to definitely get a little bit of a curl, which is just the cutest.  But Rose does NOT like letting me do it for her, even though she really needs it pulled back from her eyes.  So we have a battle most mornings which ends with me chasing her around trying to manipulate those tiny elastics around her wee pigtails as quickly as I can while she shakes her head "no, no, no!" (she definitely knows the meaning of shaking her head) and screeching at me.  But the moment I am done she is perfectly happy again.  She is also not overly enthusiastic about diaper changes. 

As far as eating habits go, we are really starting the transition to having her eat all regular table food instead of baby food and so far it is going pretty well.  Rose loves bready thing - muffins, cereal, bread, rice, etc.  She also seems to like meat like chicken and fish (she ate up her mahi mahi like a champ the other night).  But she was very clear that she did NOT want to eat the broccoli I gave her the other day.  We'll work on it.  She also likes grapes, apples, and pears.  Bananas, not so much so far.

We just adore her sweet, funny personality and love her so, so, so much.  Maybe she will start walking over this next month?  We shall see...

Monday, November 3, 2014

Amy's 34th Birthday (Yes, I'm 34)

I really ought to blog about turning 34.  My birthday was a few weeks back (on the 17th of October) and it was one of the best ever.  Paul's parents were coming into town early for our Yosemite trip so he had talked with them about getting to our house in time for me to ride BART into the city and meet him for dinner at La Mar, a Peruvian restaurant that he had been to a couple of times before with clients and knew I would love.   Oh boy was he right.  It was AMAZING and extra cool because 5 years ago we celebrated my birthday in Lima, Peru after taking the bar exam.  I ordered this incredible salmon and shrimp dish in a coconut sauce with mushrooms and broccoli and some other stuff and it was so delicious that I literally got goose bumps from the first bite.  The restaurant is right on the water so we could see the ferrys bobbing and it was very special and romantic.  We also ordered an empanada sampler appetizer with mushroom, beef, and chicken empanadas (all sooo yummy but I think beef was my favorite) and La Mar serves these plaintain and sweet potato chips with some sort of spicy and creamy (maybe horseradish based?) dipping sauce.  It was all just too, too good for words and it was so exciting and fun to be on a hot date in the big city with my handsome guy.

As we were leaving the restaurant we kind of talked about exploring the Ferry building, which was right by us (and which I have been wanting to see since they have a legendary farmer's market there) but Paul pulled out San Francisco Symphony tickets as a surprise.  So we went and listened to Rachmaninoff and Barber (Samuel Barber composed Adagio for Strings which was performed that night - it gives you chills when you listen to it in a totally breathless symphony hall).

I also went to the gym on my birthday (because I am obsessed lately) and posted a couple of these bendy photos on Instagram.  I've been working on handstands and flexibility a lot lately and am pretty proud of myself for how much stronger and flexible I have become this year.  I even did a silly workout the day before my birthday where I ran for 33 minutes, did 33 pushups, 33 squats, 33 lunges, 33 chest presses, etc. 

Then on Saturday we hosted our 5th Annual Monster Mash & Birthday Bash at the House of Nash.  We almost didn't do it this year but committed to it just a week or so in advance and sent out invites and I'm so glad we did.  Lots of new friends came and we even had a couple drive up from San Jose.  We added a new activity this year: a caramel apple bar.  I made homemade caramel (following this recipe and tutorial that my sister Jennie recommended) and dipped all the apples in advance, then set out bowls of candy corn, pretzels, cinnamon/sugar mixture, M&Ms, etc. and heated up white chocolate to do a second dip on each of the apples.  It was a big hit with adults and kids alike and I think we might have to do this every year.  The only problem I realized later on is that the white chocolate firmed up quite fast once it was on the apples so you had to move quickly or you couldn't get toppings to stick to it and could only decorate the top part where the caramel was exposed. 

We set up the caramel apple station out on the lawn because we knew it would be messy and I was so grateful that Maren stepped in to help me because I absolutely could not have pulled this off without her.

We were so glad to have so many new people come and dress up.  Everybody had great costumes.

Paul's Grandma even made an early appearance wearing a green bat headband no less. 


It was an excellent birthday and a successful party.  And so far, 34 is pretty dang awesome.

Yosemite 2014

It's hard to believe another year at Yosemite has come and gone.  This was Rose's first trip to Yosemite and Clara's 4th.  We definitely forgot how much more difficult it is to visit Yosemite and share a room with family when you have a baby.  Although Rose is usually a good sleeper, there were some rough nights in the park for everybody in our room (we shared with Paul's parents - next year we will just get our own).  But by and large, it was a wonderful trip with perhaps the most perfect weather I have ever experienced there.  And we got this family picture that is my new favorite. 
We also took a big group picture of everybody who went this year, except for Great Grandma Nash who stayed back at the room.  This was taken behind the Ahwahnee where we always go to sit on the beach and throw rocks into the river.  The boys are always perfecting their rock skipping skills to impress the girls and they always come up with targets to hit like a floating log or the opposite bank or through a root that jutted out of the water and then back in creating a little arch (Paul nailed that target first).  It was especially nice having everybody this year since last year's regular October trip was cancelled thanks to the government shut-down (remember that?) and Paul, Clara and I just went on our own in November.

Clara is OBSESSED with throwing rocks.  But she also loved building river forts with Mia (who was amazing with Clara on this trip and so, so good about being her friend and making Clara feel special) or just digging with a stick in the pebbly sand.

I had to include this photo of Gracie because she is just so darn cute.  It was her birthday while we were there.  One of the very best things about our move to Dublin has been giving Clara the chance to be around Gracie and her older sister Mia.

One morning we all got up to head to Glacier Point.  It is the start of the Panorama Trail (my favorite in Yosemite - I'm sure I have mentioned that like a thousand times before).  The girls were all set with hiking poles and backpacks because the Ambrose family decided they were going to hike all the way down to Happy Isles (a day-long hike) while the Nashes knew we wouldn't make it very far before we had to turn back because our girls are so much younger and not seasoned hikers like the Ambroses. 

We quickly fell behind, which was fine, especially since we had to coax Clara along by pointing out various trees and rocks and landmarks to keep her going.  Eventually we admitted to her that we had a bag of jellybeans and when we took breaks we would give her 2 or 3 jelly bellies to keep up her motivation.  Rose did pretty well in the baby carrier, especially once Paul gave her a stick, which she promptly stuck in her mouth and chewed on for a good 20 minutes (apparently her diet was lacking fiber).

The most amazing thing about this particular hike was that we saw a huge, dead tree fall over right in front of us.  We were hiking back after turning around and a big gust of wind came up and all of a sudden, not 20 yards ahead there was a big cracking sound and this giant tree just came crashing down, hitting another tree on its way.  It was very cool and something we have never experienced in the park.

Paul identified deer brush for Clara (its basically everywhere on this trail) and showed her how it can be eaten and then she was tearing off leaves and chewing on them the whole time. 

We wish we had made it to Illouette Falls but we gave up after about an hour or so of hiking down because we knew the return journey was uphill the whole way.  I think we were a little more than halfway to the falls when we took a lunch break and then turned back around.  We switched carriers so that Paul could carry Clara (she did the whole first part of the hike on her own but whined to be carried a lot of it, which we knew would happen) and I put Rose in the Ergo carrier and carried her in front where she promptly (and expectedly) fell asleep.  Amazingly, what took us well over an hour to hike downhill with Clara walking, we were able to do in about 25 minutes going uphill carrying both girls.  Since it wasn't nearly long enough for Rose's full nap and I was pretty sure Rose wouldn't fall back asleep in the car, we just walked around Glacier Point and had another snack and enjoyed the view until Rose woke up.  Clara had fun climbing the granite rocks.

One of the absolute best things about Yosemite is how bikeable the valley floor is.  There are so many different places that can easily be biked to - waterfalls, caves, hikes, lakes, rock climbing areas, meadows, etc. - even on beach cruisers with few (or no) gears.  The girls LOVED riding bikes and Rose found it so relaxing that she fell asleep in the Ibert bike seat that is attached to the front of my bike.  We brought the bike trailer for both girls and they used it some but it is much easier to spread their weight between both me and Paul while we can.  Rose would just rest her helmeted noggin' against my left arm while I pedaled and doze off. 

We did two big bike rides, in addition to a bunch of little ones.  One was to Indian Caves where we climbed on and slid down rocks.  The rest of the group went on to Mirror Lake but we turned back because of impending nap times.

Our other big bike ride was south to the meadow in front of El Capitan.  We always stop at the meadow to have snacks and give the kids a break and it is fun to try and spot the climbers halfway up the rockface.  It takes two days to do El Capitan so the climbers have special gear that they affix to the rock to create narrow platforms to sleeping and they camp up there overnight and do the second half of the climb the next day.  Clara got absolutely filthy playing in the dirt, but man alive she had a great time.

Rose can hold her bottle all by herself now.  She is even pretty good about properly tipping the bottle to get the milk and keeping it upright so the milk doesn't leak out (although sometimes she thinks that is hilarious and turns the bottle just to make a mess). What a big girl.

One afternoon I took Clara out on a bike ride while Paul stayed in the room at the lodge with Rose so she could take a nap and when I looked back ten minutes into our ride I saw Clara slumped over fast asleep.  Poor thing.  We really wore out our little girls this trip.

We spent an afternoon relaxing at the Ahwahnee.  Clara got the sucker she had been dreaming about (cherry flavored) and Rose enjoyed playing on the lawn in the back.

 Riding the Yosemite buses is always a big hit.  We rode over to Curry Village for pizza one night.  We have never stayed in Curry Village before but I learned on this trip that there are some family rooms there that have a little loft sleeping area and are totally enclosed (most of the accommodations in Curry Village are tent cabins) so I am interested in doing a late spring trip when the water is running high and staying in one of those rooms now.  The pizza patio at Curry is one of my favorite places to relax and eat dinner while we are in the park and I always look forward to it.  Paul's family used to get pizza at the Loft in Yosemite Village but I guess that they have started closing that location earlier in the season because it hasn't been open the past couple of years, which works out great for me because I way prefer the Pizza Patio to the Loft.

Rose did a little shopping at the Village Store.  She was obsessed with an owl puppet that had a swiveling head.  We didn't get it because it was super expensive but oh many she laughed and hugged that thing like crazy.  We did get a couple cute books about bears and some neat 3D postcards.

Clara and I ate breakfast at the Cafeteria (part of the Yosemite Lodge) every day.  Their blueberry pancakes and breakfast burritos were not half bad.  Not amazing, but definitely better than cold cereal.

We celebrated Great Grandma Nash's 90th birthday (a little early - its in December) at the Mountain Room restaurant, which is one of the fancy places to eat in the valley.  I had delicious trout and Paul had a steak.  Rose had a meltdown and Clara had a pretend nap.  It was not our most shining moment as far as well-behaved children go but you can't fault overly exhausted girls for a little less than stellar behavior.  Usually they are both actually quite good at restaurants.

The Ambroses are total fun-makers and hosted a birthday/piƱata party for Gracie one night and a bingo party another night.  One of the great things about our set-up at the Lodge is that our rooms are right by each other so we could put Rose to sleep, then turn on the video monitor and watch her from the other room while we played games or watched videos and hung out.  Maren had bought a bunch of little prizes and wrapped them so when you won a round of bingo y.ou got to pick a prize.  We ended up winning glow-in-the-dark nail polish (so, so awesome and I gave all the girls - big and little - manicures with it), a cute juice cup with deer on it, and a slinky, which Paul traded for a bouncy ball.

The lodge rooms have been remodeled in the past year so these photos are more for Deborah to see how things have changed.  The upgrades are quite nice, except we miss the larger rectangular table because the round one is too small for the number of chairs they have and not as convenient for playing games.

The lodge also brought back the Adirondack chairs that they took away a couple of years ago. 

All in all, it was a fun trip and we are already looking forward to going back next year and hoping that even more of the family members will join us.