Saturday, January 26, 2013

Clara - 25 Months

(Once again I forgot to do her monthly photo shoot.  I guess that's what nine months pregnant does to you)

Clara is currently obsessed with birthdays.  The other day she was saying a prayer on her breakfast which included a piece of coffee cake.  When she prays, she gives thanks for each item on her plate, so her prayer went something like this, "Dear Heavenly Father, I'm thankful for the krispies, I'm thankful for the yummy manana, I'm thankful for the... cake!!  Birthday cake! Balloons!  Party hats! Happy Birthday Clara!"
At 25 Months, here's what else Clara Jane is up to:

-Getting ready for baby sister!  She's very excited to have baby sister's crib set up in her room, some "new" toys pulled out from storage and talks about baby sister's arrival and going to the hospital (hops-ip-tal) all the time.  She also likes to talk to, hug, kiss and pat my tummy but then looks with a very worried face at my belly button and says, "Broken! Cut it off, mommy!"

-We're trying to resume a little bit of daily independent time.  It got lost somewhere between the pack-n-play coming down and all of the holidays.  I need it for my own sanity, but I also worry about Clara adjusting to a new baby and less available mama when she's used to having my attention and playing with me all day long.

-Clara can communicate really well and expresses herself often.  I feel like I can understand just about everything she wants and needs and has to say.  Sometimes I forget that other people don't know all of Clara's pronunciation techniques right now.

- She loves to clean.  She likes to wipe off her table after meals, sweep the floor, spray off the dishwasher and oven and wipe them down with a washcloth.  She's really good about washing her face and hands after meals too, and usually is happy to put her dishes in the sink after she eats.

-She ends most sentences with an emphatic, "today."  "Mama, build a tower with me TODAY." "Mama, go to beach with cousins in summer, TODAY." :)

-Enjoys sitting and reading in laundry baskets.

-Loves to play in her kitchen and cook up all sorts of yummy food.

-Always says, "sorry mama!" and offers a hug if she accidentally bumps me or drops or spills something.

-Definitely LOVES to do things herself.  We only really have tantrums when she wants to do something herself that we don't allow [because we already know how it will end].

-Loves to color, build towers with her wooden blocks and megablocks, dance, sing, climb, count, and read books.

-Loves to play with my iPhone and take photos of herself.  In fact, they are usually the only ones she'll concede to taking these days.

-She loves to sit at her little table in the kitchen for meals.  Mostly because she can get up and run around, run to the oven and in the small 2-inch reflective portion of the oven, watch herself eat and scoop cereal into her mouth. The whole not-sitting-through-a-meal thing kind of drives me nuts.

-Can recite parts or all of most of her favorite books: Five Little Monkeys, Cat is Sleepy, Goodnight Moon, The Littlest Kitten

Friday, January 25, 2013

Mac N Cheese

I have been meaning to record this somewhere, because it's definitely a story worth having in our family's archive.

A few months ago I was making dinner for a sick and pregnant friend with a large family.  I had made dinner for them about a week before that, so I didn't want to just repeat my go-to meal (lasagna) once again.  After consulting with Spencer I decided that I'd make another one of our favorites - homemade mac and cheese.  When I take a meal to someone, I usually do things I don't do for my own family regularly, like make sure there are good coordinating side dishes, bread or rolls, and a dessert.  It can take the better part of an afternoon to cook a meal like that for someone else, and by the time the food is done and delivered I'm usually at a loss for what WE are going to eat as all of my cooking energy has been expended for the day.

That's why I was completely caught off guard when a phone call came in the middle of my early evening meal prepping session.  A sister in our ward said she had made some homemade mac n cheese and had a lot leftover.  She wondered if she could drop it off for me and my family for dinner.  I couldn't believe that she knew we could use dinner that night.  But even more that it was macaroni and cheese!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

2012 Remembered

I've got about a dozen posts in draft and of course a resolution to do better at keeping up with this record of my family.  For now, here's a look back at 2012.

-In May when we found out we were expecting a new baby to join our family in January 2013!  In September we learned that the new baby would be another girl and we are very excited for Clara to have a sister.

-In April, my sister Mollie had a baby boy and named him Levi and my mom and I (and Clara) traveled to Washington to help out for about a week.
-We were able to see all of our siblings, nieces and nephews on their various visits to Utah and feel very thankful to have our parents and Carol nearby who are so wonderful for Clara and so willing to help out whenever they are needed.

-Clara LOVES her cousins and they seem to enjoy her too!  We love having family visit.

-Clara has had a big year - 2012 is when she started walking, talking, learned all of the colors, some shapes, how to count to ten, started going to nursery (which she LOVES) and so many more milestones.  We celebrated her 2nd birthday on Christmas Eve with family and lots of balloons.  She's turned from a baby into a sweet little girl and we love her so much.

-In January, Spencer made a big change and started working for KPMG - one of the Big 4 accounting firms.  The switch proved to be everything we anticipated in terms of intensity and long hours.  He does enjoy working with really great people and working downtown.  Walking through the Main Street Plaza and Temple Square is a daily highlight when he is working at the office.

-My business has continued to be a great outlet for me creatively and saw another year of nearly 150% increase over the previous year.  It makes me grateful to have a little girl who goes to bed at a reasonable hour so I can spend most evenings filling orders.  I added some printable nursery art, iPhone cases and printable greeting cards to my offerings in 2012 and they were all a hit.  My most popular items for the year were Bridal Shower Invitations and Nursery Art Printables.

-My last Park City client relocated to Laguna Beach and that closed the final Park City Real Estate chapter of my business.

-In November I was released as the Laurel Advisor and called as First Counselor in the Young Women's Presidency.  Other changes in the ward brought a full staff to the YW with advisors for each class (hooray!).  I left Clara for the first time in her life to go to Girl's Camp for most of the week and had a blast getting to know the girls better in our ward.  That's also where everyone found out I was pregnant - about 13 weeks at that point.  The girls in our ward are so wonderful and the leaders are so fun.  We have a really great group.
-Spencer continues to serve as the Elder's Quorum President.

-Clara LOVES nursery and asks to go to church on an almost daily basis!  She never put up much of a fight to go (a few tears the first few times, but only for about a minute) for which we are thankful.  I know that every child is different, but I'd highly recommend the "drop and go" approach.  Friends who hang out with their kids for several minutes and then try to leave seem to have a more difficult adjustment.  Clara has learned to pray and says super sweet and sincere prayers.  She loves to watch videos on the Mormon Channel and knows about three dozen primary songs.

- 2012 will hopefully go down in our family history as the [only] year we didn't go anywhere [outside of Utah together].  And when I say hopefully, I mean hopefully it won't become a trend.

-Spencer traveled for work: to Berkeley and Albuquerque regularly throughout the summer and then to Orlando, Denver and San Francisco for training meetings.

-I drove to Washington with Clara and my mom when Levi was born in April.

-The one family trip we took was to Bryce Canyon in May.  It was a really great little trip and we loved hiking in the canyon. We headed to St George right after that to view the Annular Solar Eclipse - which we saw in it's entirety.
-We also had the Madsen Family Reunion at Bear Lake which is always so fun and Clara is already talking about the trip coming up again this year.

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Clara's Play Kitchen

Most of the posts I read about mommy-constructed play kitchens start out something like this: "I wanted to buy baby girl a cute wooden play kitchen, but the ones on Pottery Barn are just so expensive!  So I decided to make one myself."  My story was pretty much the opposite.  I knew I wanted Clara to have a play kitchen because I knew she'd love it, but I would never even dream of looking for one at Pottery Barn, and I wasn't too sure about building one either.  I actually called my sister in November and asked her if she thought the wooden one they had was that much better than a plastic one (that I could buy), because Walmart had some cute ones on sale.  She and her husband built one out of Ikea parts a few years ago, and she said they wished they had built it from scratch and that the wooden ones are so much cuter than the plastic ones and get played with a lot more.

So... the next day I went to Home Depot and the nicest man in the lumber department helped me find the best kind of wood for my project and then made every single cut I needed (that took well over an hour) for our Clara-sized sink, stove and refrigerator.  I came home thinking that I'd do one big step each week and be in great shape for Christmas.  So that week I sanded the edges of everything.  The next step was to prime - and everywhere I looked, asked, or read recommended using an oil based primer -- which is a big no-no during pregnancy.  Spencer was slammed at work and traveling, so my dad came to our house one night to prime everything for me.  But when he saw how poorly lit and cold our garage was, he decided to take everything home and set up shop in the unfinished part of his basement.
My parents really came through and helped a ton on this project and I would not have finished it without them!  One week while Spencer was out of town, Clara and I stayed at their house for a few days and I worked on assembly with my dad after he got home from work each night.  We used our Kreg Jig (my dad and I bought one together a few months back) for the majority of the assembly, and it really made it come together easily.  Plus it creates really strong joints, so each piece is really nice and solid.  We hit a snag in the plans when the oven door didn't fit inside the oven door opening, so my dad recut and assembled a new door that fits perfectly. Thanks, dad!

My mom and I made Clara a little oven mitt, hot pad, dish towel and apron (all matching - from a single set of Ikea dish towels). We also did the ruffly little skirt on the sink.  I love how it all turned out!

We are so happy with how it all turned out and Clara loves her new little kitchen.  She plays with it every day and loves to spend time "cooking."  Here's the cost breakdown for anyone who is curious:

Wood: $40 (I used cabinet grade plywood which has a super smooth sanded finish - I bought 2 4'x8' boards, but only used maybe 1/8 of the second board)
Primer: $0 (already had it)
1 Quart Paint: $18 (Home Depot)
Door Handles: $15 (Ikea)
Oven Knobs: $8 (Hobby Lobby)
Faucet: $11.50 (Home Depot)
Bowl for Sink: $1.50 (Thrift Store)
Hinges: $6 (Home Depot)
Material for Sink Skirt: $8 (Joann's)
Tension Rod: $3.50 (Target)
Stove Top Burners: $2.40 (Hobby Lobby)
Tap Light for Oven: $5 (Home Depot)
Plexiglass (oven door window): $4.5 (Home Depot)
Magnets (fridge and oven doors): $3 (Home Depot)
Mirror clips (for oven door window): $2 (Home Depot)

TOTAL: $128.40


Pots and Pans (from IKEA on sale!): $4.99
Utensil set (from IKEA): $3.00
Cookie sheet (tray from dollar store): $1
Basket to hold food: $1 (dollar store)
Mixing bowls: $1 (dollar store)
Apron, oven mitt, hot pad: $4.99 (made from a 2-pack of dish towels from Ikea)
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