Tuesday, March 31, 2009

New Washing Machine

My washer decided to stop working again. It stopped working back in November, just one week before Chris came home. When I was trying to get not only the clothes clean, but also all the sheets and throw rugs in the house, so that Chris could come home to a clean house. Instead he came home and got to play Mr. Fix-it right away. In true fashion, the washer decided to stop working again just one week before Chris came home from Virginia. Then it worked for a few loads, only to die again a few days later with the tub full of water. Each time something different appeared to be wrong with it, so we figured our 9 year old washer was ready to be replaced, especially with Chris due to head out to sea again in less than 2 months, and a new baby on the way.

We decided to join the world of front loading washers and researched for a nice one...the matching dryer will have to wait. It is amazing the things that can get you really excited as you get older and step into motherhood. Your perspective changes so much when it comes to those little things, a good parking space is not necessarily the one closest to the door, but the one closest to the cart corral. Making it through the day without emotional meltdowns (on your part or the kids') can often be a feat in itself, and a brand new washer can make you excited about tackling that dirty clothes hamper that seems to grow the dirty clothes all on it's own!

Although, it seems I'm not the only one excited about this new washer. This is what I found today when I came in from checking the mail.

Ahh, the little things!

Clara's Birthday Party

Chris came home finally on Saturday, and on Sunday we planned to celebrate Clara's birthday with her friends. We invited the the families on our street over for fajitas and cake. We had a great time. I didn't take too many pics since for the most part we were just relaxing and hanging out. Still, here's the few pics that I did take.

Clara decided she wanted a 'princess castle cake'. I asked her bunch of times if she wanted me to make it or if we should buy one. She insisted that we should make it so that she could help decorate it. So, I scoured the Internet in search of an example of a castle cake that even I could manage. You may need to use your imagination...

Lucky for me, a 5 year old has a much more vivid imagination than I do and she was proud to claim this cake as hers. I enlisted her help in putting the SweetTarts around the base. After awhile she looked at me and said, "Could you just let me know when it's time to put the princesses on?" Apparently that's all the decorating she was interested in.

Everyone singing 'Happy Birthday' to Clara

Making a wish and blowing out the candle!

Cutting the cake. The ice cream cone turrets were a huge hit with the kids. They were almost fighting over them since there wasn't quite enough to go around...and I thought, 'who's going to eat those anyway' when I was making the cake!

Clara got many wonderful and thoughtful gifts from her friends. One of her favorite gifts was this Belle dress. She insisted on putting it on right away, and wore the rest of the day! She had a great birthday!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Happy 5th Birthday Princess Clara!!!!!

Even though we're not really celebrating Clara's birthday until Sunday, we couldn't exactly let today go unnoticed. It was important to me that Clara still feel extra special today, since it is her day. So we did a little celebrating after all.

As I said before, Clara's been excited for weeks about her upcoming birthday. The other day she came up with this 'fabulous' idea. "Mom, you know that number puzzle I have with all the numbers? When it's my birthday I can take the number 5, since I'm gonna be 5, and you could take my picture with it in the morning in my pajamas, and then when I get dressed, you could take it again and then at night when I get my pajamas on you can take it again. So it will be pajamas, clothes, then other pajamas. That would be pretty cool, huh?" How could I argue with that...so here's Clara with the #5 in her morning PJs.

Clara requested pancakes and scrambled eggs for her birthday breakfast, which was a big hit all around. She told me, "Mommy you make the best pancakes ever. They're yummy!" All I did was mix up one of those little bottles of the Bisquick Shake and Pour batters. Thank goodness it doesn't take much to impress a 5 year old :)

(By the way, if you enlarge the pic, you'll see Jonathan wearing one of Clara's headbands once again!)

And here's the #5 picture with Clara dressed for the day. I found a cute Princess button/ribbon that said 'Birthday Princess' for Clara to wear, so everyone would know it was her birthday today. She really loves that kind of attention!

I gave her just a few presents today. I have a couple coming for her in the mail. Hopefully they'll be here before Sunday, but she actually seemed pretty satisfied with just today's festivities, so I think it will be OK if they're a little late.

Earrings! Clara's been noticing 'dangly earrings' lately, so I tried hard to find some nice hoops appropriate for a 5 year old. She loves them. I put them in her ears and by lunch, one was missing! Luckily we found it in her car seat. When we got home I pinched the prongs a little tighter with some pliers. Hopefully they won't be so easy to lose now.

Opening cards from Grandma Yonka and Grandpa Michael. (She has her new earrings in already!)

Daddy sent flowers again! The florist called before they delivered to be sure someone was home, so I was ready with my camera when they came! Chris sent Clara flowers last year as well, and I think it's the thing she remembers most about turning 4. It was really special to her last year and again this year, especially since Chris couldn't be here himself. She told me, "It was nice of Daddy to pick all those flowers for me and send them to that lady so she could bring them to me for my birthday!"

We found the perfect spot for them in her room.

Then Clara and Jonathan promptly went to get the step stool so they could smell the flowers. Later when she got to talk to Chris on the phone she told him, "Daddy, you're the bestest, specialest, coolest, Daddy in the whole world!" How special is she?! How could we not want to make her feel so special when she appreciates it sooo much!

After the flowers arrived we took off to Color Me Mine to paint some pottery. Jonathan chose a race car.

Clara chose a jewelry box shaped like a princess crown and painted it purple of course!

The finished products...for now anyway!

We'll be making a cake for Sunday's celebrations, so we settled for brownies today.

Daddy was on the phone to help us sing Happy Birthday and Clara blew out her candle.

More presents...Pinocchio...

...and a princess nightgown!

#5 pic in evening jammies

Clara loves to hold her skirt out and dance around in circles...

...just like a princess!

Perhaps I should get Jonathan a nightgown too. It gets difficult holding out his shirt like that as he dances around in circles!

I had to set up the tripod to get a pic of me with the birthday girl. Jonathan got right in place and posed without being asked, hugging Clara (It was too cute!) Clara's smiles only got more silly the harder I tried to get a good picture, so this was the best we got.

Happy Birthday Baby Girl! I love you more than you'll ever know!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Where Does the Time Go?

Tomorrow my baby girl will be 5 years old. How did this happen? Who told her she could grow up so fast? Wasn't it just yesterday that I went to the hospital to have her? I'll never forget the first time I saw her. She was so excited to meet us, that she came 7 weeks early -- What a shock! I went in for a routine prenatal appointment only to be told that I would be having my baby in the next 24 hours. I had severe preeclampsia, and a c-section was the only way to ensure both my safety and Clara's. I wasn't ready. I was supposed to have 7 more weeks to get used to this whole idea of having a baby, something I had been begging for for some time -- a baby! But I wasn't ready yet...I had no choice.

I was admitted into the hospital by about 2pm March 23, 2004. I was monitored, given meds to bring down my blood pressure and steroids to help Clara's lungs fully develop. Sometime in the night the doctor said I wouldn't make it to get the last dose of steroids for Clara's lungs. It was no longer safe to wait, I would have a c-section first thing in the morning. There were 6 other c-sections scheduled that morning, I was bumped ahead of them all. Around 6:30am they came in to take me to the O.R. At 6:46am on March 24, 2004, I was a mom.

They warned me, she may not cry at first. She did! All Chris could say was, "She's so big!" It was still some time until I got to see her. They did their evaluation, wrapped her in a blanket and put a cap on her head, then brought her to my side of the sheet. All I could see of her was her tiny face. They let me kiss her on the cheek, then they whisked her away.

It was about 36 hours before I got to see her again. Chris had spent much of that time with her, coming back to me with reports of how big and beautiful she was. Finally it was my turn, and this is what I saw...

...in the back of the NICU where it was quiet and warm. At 4lbs 12oz, she certainly didn't look 'big' to me. She didn't coo or even look at me. She just lay there, sleepy, attached to monitors, by her 'spaghetti'. Not at all what I expected. Her skin wrinkled and folded like a shar-pei, with no meat on her to fill it out. You could see the sutures in her skull, where the bones had not quite come together yet. I held her finally.

We were lucky, some don't get so lucky. She was actually pretty healthy and, yes, big considering how early she was. It was traumatic for me. Everyone around me looked at Clara and saw a beautiful healthy baby girl. I saw the wires (her 'spaghetti'), and the monitors. I saw a sick baby. I felt guilty. Why could everyone else look past these things? How? The nurse acted as if it was no big deal. Clara was going to be just fine. How did they know? Doesn't anyone know this wasn't the way it was supposed to go? I was supposed to have a big chubby baby, who made baby noises, who snuggled softly in my arms and who could go home with me. Where was my baby?

2.5 weeks later we did take her home. She was healthy. She was ours and while we were scared, as all new parents are, I was so ready to get on with the life I had envisioned. Life as a mom. Little did I know, I would have no more control over that than I'd had over the way it all began.

Clara was an easy baby. She slept through the night. She was happy and content most of the time. She smiled and cooed. She was a picky eater from the start, refusing rice cereal. It had to be oatmeal, and even that could be a challenge. She hit all the milestones 'on time' and even got a little baby fat on her. She was all I could hope for and before long, a year had passed.

Clara's 1st Birthday (never mind the time stamp on the pics, we have often celebrated Clara's birthday when family could make it to visit).

Clara's 2nd Birthday

Clara's 3rd Birthday

Clara's 4th Birthday

Clara has grown into a beautiful young lady. Chris and I have guided her when we could, when she'd let us. Often, she seems to know the way to go all on her own. She is extremely intelligent, I fear her teenage years when I surely won't be able to match her wit or intellect. She is kind and outgoing. She is sensitive and inquisitive. She tries so hard to please and often will take too much on herself, far more than any 5 year old should. She is observant and giving, fair and honest. I am so happy that she is our eldest...the one to set an example for Jonathan, and soon, another child. For she is an example that even I try to learn from. I don't think Chris and I could handle a 3rd child without the help she offers by simply being an example.

Five years ago I found myself asking, "why me? What did I do to deserve this?" Today I still ask that same question, but with new context...How did I get so lucky?

Here's Clara with the hat they gave her at school today. She was so excited to take in goodie bags for all her friends (life was easier when you could just send in cupcakes!) She was beaming when I came back to pick her up, with her hat on. She's been counting down the days on her calendar all month. Letting me know how many days left until her birthday, asking me each day if it was spring yet (she knows her birthday is in the spring). Once again, her birthday celebration will not be on her actual birthday. Chris gets back from VA on Saturday, so we'll be celebrating on Sunday. We still have a special day planned for tomorrow for a special birthday girl.

I can't believe she's 5!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

17 Weeks

I got Clara to take a picture of me today so I could show you how 'not-pregnant' I look. I am 17 weeks today and just starting to get a bit of a belly, but nothing really noticeable to anyone but myself! My last appointment was this past Friday. The baby's heartbeat was in the 15o's and, really, at this point that's all there is to say. They'll be ordering my next ultrasound soon. They said it's best to have that done at 19-20 weeks, so we're looking forward to that. I've heard there's a great chance that I'll get to have it in 3-D and Chris will be home for it, so it should be pretty cool! Hopefully within the next month I'll be able to tell you all whether we'll be welcoming a new baby boy or girl into our family!

Princess Fairies

For the record, I had nothing to do with this!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Breakfast Buddies

Jonathan has finally graduated from a booster seat to just sitting on the dining room chairs. The benefit was that I finally got to throw out the nasty booster seat that had made it through 2 kids, but was not going to stick around for a 3rd! The only problem is that now, keeping Jonathan in his chair can be a bit of a challenge during mealtimes. Clara had decided much earlier that she was too big for a booster seat, and she understood the importance of staying at the table, but not Jonathan.

One morning last week he decided that he'd rather sit in Clara's seat with her to eat breakfast.

What am I gonna do with these kids!

Diaper Cake

Seems like everyone I know is having babies...and all boys at that! Here's a diaper cake I made for a neighbor who's due next week! I received a diaper cake at my shower when I was pregnant with Clara. I loved it and enjoyed it so much that I now make them for my friends when I get the chance. They're so much fun to make, and it makes an appropriate and useful gift whether it's for baby #1 or baby #5. They're always a big hit at a shower and many of my friends have then gone on to make them for their friends who are expecting!

Waking Up is Hard To Do

After our talk about how hard Clara's mattress was, she decided it may help if she slept on top of all her pillows. Don't ask me how hanging her feet over the foot board was supposed to help though.

My sleepyhead and The Very Hungry Caterpillar

Jonathan has discovered how much more fun nap time can be when you play for the first hour. As a result, I've discovered how much more grumpy a 2 yr old can be when he only takes half a nap! Notice his shoes. For some reason lately, he insists on sleeping with his shoes and often his sunglasses on. Go Figure!

Slumber Party

With me feeling better and Chris home it was time to start slumber partying again! We popped the popcorn, ate some Valentine's candy and watched a movie. After which, Clara got to snuggle in our bed with Chris, while I got to sleep in her bed.

I have no idea what we were thinking when we bought her mattress, but it is so incredibly uncomfortable. It's hard as a rock, I felt like I was sleeping on the the kitchen table. The next morning I asked Clara if she liked her bed. She said, "no." When I asked what was wrong with it, she said, "it's too hard." That was before I had said anything, so I know that's a valid thought of her own! Once Chris gets back from VA we'll be looking to replace that mattress.

I love these guys!

Jimmie Johnson Cars

We took the kids to the Lowes Build and Grow Clinic again, the last weekend in February to make Jimmie Johnson cars. They had a blast!

Here they are ready to get to work with their aprons and little hammers.

I think Clara enjoyed the building process more than playing with the car itself.

Here's me helping Jonathan hammer his car together.

Clara worked a little more on her own, just needing Daddy's help to hold the car in place.

Decorating with stickers was something Jonathan could handle on his own though.

If only Jimmie Johnson had a pit crew like this!

Jonathan loves playing with his car!

In fact, it was really difficult to get an 'after' picture because he didn't want to stop playing with his car. Here he is driving it up his arm.

After about 5 minutes, this was the best I could get -- note the sour look and fake smile. I think I'll give up on getting a picture with everyone looking at the camera, with eyes open and hopefully smiling once #3 is born :) At that point I think I'll have to settle for being able to get all 3 in the same frame!