Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Claire and Vera

I've mentioned in a previous post that I always imagined that we would raise our family in our rural hometown. But we love the little town we live in. A big part of why it works for us is that we are fortunate enough to have an important piece of our family live less than a half mile away from us. We get to see our family at least once a week but there is something special about having part of your family be in your day to day lives. It's no coincidence that our local family, Kyle's brother, his wife, and our niece, are some of Claire's favorite people in the whole wide world. I love that phrase. Whole wide world. Very Disney.
Claire has pretty much idolized her cousin Vera since she was old enough to notice her. I can't blame her, Vera's pretty cool. The best part is that they've recently figured out that they make a pretty good pair.
Yesterday Vera's very pregnant mom brought her over so she could make a trip to the grocery store. Something about being 9 months pregnant, carrying a 2 year old who doesn't believe in riding in carts (it's a philosophical disagreement), and grocery shopping doesn't mesh well. Claire woke up from a nap just as Vera was being dropped off and as soon as I said the word "Vera" she snapped out of her post nap fog and was ready to rock, toddler style.

First, they shared a snack. Claire accidently spilled hers and Scout (who holds a constant snack vigil) swooped in to "clean it up" and Vera ran over to it and said "Scouty go on!". She protects her cousin...and her snacks. 

Then they had a yell-off. This is one of their favorite activities. Someone (Lauren!) taught the girls that yelling at the top of your lungs is super fun, so the whenever these two get together, one of them remembers that they are exceptional yellers and need to share their talents with the rest of the world. This shared passion for yelling made our trip to Costco very interesting last weekend. Its a good thing it's such a big store. 

Then they went for a drive. 

 Then they hug/wrestled. I have no idea where this came from but whenever they hug, they pull each other over. I tried my best to teach them to stand up and hug without toppling over but I had no success. Apparently this is part of the fun. 

No play date would be complete without a dance break. As you can tell, these girls have some serious moves. 

After all of that dancing, they decided a pretend nap was in order.

Love these girls. Did I mention that the baby on the way is a boy? Good luck with these two baby Jack. I can already picture all of the great ideas they'll have for him. 

Sunday, July 29, 2012

A few months before Claire was born, Kyle and I splurged on a nice camera. Previously, our cameras served the sole purpose of capturing whatever stupid/dangerous outdoor adventure we were up to. That way we had evidence that we actually were as stupid as we thought we were and we could bring the photos home to show my mom and make her squirm (that is, when she didn't come along for the stupidity).

Evidence of aforementioned stupidity:

Note the size of trees...bad idea. I'm only half smiling because I'm not-so-secretly terrified.

So once we found out that our future endurance trials would be dealing with sleep deprivation and never ending diaper changes, we decided that we needed something more than the semi-disposable cameras of our past. So we did what all good Americans do and marched to Costco and dropped a ton of money on a camera that we didn't know how to use. This is my confession. Luckily, Kyle is kind of a weirdo and likes to figure out things like camera settings, so we slowly learned to use our camera (Kyle teaching, me following). I'm proud to say that I officially shoot in Manual Mode but I have to admit, it basically took me a year to learn.

Anyone who has the good fortune of being inundated by the masses of Claire pictures I post on my Facebook page, knows that I've been on a photography kick in the past few months. I've been taking a few online and in-person classes and have been bombarding my new found photographer friend and my sister's kind boyfriend with all of my photography questions. My badgering has paid off and I feel like I've learned so much in the past few months. While I'm not planning to open up shop any time in the near future, I do feel like I'm on the path of being a damn good mom-tographer.

My friends and family have been wonderfully encouraging of my new found hobby. Not only are they patient while I relentlessly follow them around with my camera glued to my face and graciously "like" my 1,453 Facebook pictures of Claire in every possibly pose/lighting/outfit, several of them also gave me the photography gear hook-up on my birthday (shout out to Jin's lens/coffee mug).

My sister gifted me a reflector and since I've semi-mastered opening and closing it without looking like a scene from a Jim Carey movie, I decided it was time to take it out and let it see some action. Last night was our monthly "girl's night" with the grandmas, Lauren, Karen, and Jin and we were meeting at Falls Terrace restaurant, next to Tumwater falls. Since the plan was already to have Kyle and Claire drop me off on their way down to visit Grandpa, I threw a cute outfit on the kid and turned it into a mini-photo shoot.

Claire is currently cutting eight teeth right now so we spent the majority of our mini-shoot trying to convince her to take her fingers out of her mouth but here are some of the keepers.

 If you look closely, you can see the reflection of the white circular reflector in her eyes. I've been told that this is a "desirable" effect.

The top that she's wearing is actually supposed to be a 0-3 month dress. It obviously didn't fit her at that age but we've found a good use for it at 15 months.

One of my favorite things about these pictures is that as we were wrapping things up a car full of all of Claire's grandmas drove by honking (they were pretty excited to see the Little Red). They whipped around, pulled into the park exit (and were scolded by the security guard) and came out for a quick visit before dinner. Since everyone was dressed up and looking good and we happened to already be at a locale that area photographer seek out, I decided that we needed some pictures of Claire and her grandmas. An opportunity like that doesn't happen every day. Although they aren't huge fans of being in front of the camera, they were good sports, which I'm thankful for since some of them ended up being treasures.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

We are officially in the dog days of summer (well, at least the PNW's version of it). I am the first to admit that being a stay at home mom in the summer (or a teacher on her vacation) kind of rocks. Waking up to the sun peaking into my window might literally be the only way I enjoy waking up (I'm generally not a fan). What I am a fan of, is apparently using parenthesis in every sentence. I'm suddenly thankful my mom is the only one who reads this blog and not my high school English teacher.
Returning to the subject at hand, my Little Red is also a fan of summertime fun. To be completely honest, she's also a fan of rain, snow, hail, fog, overcast days, La Nina....you get the point, but I think she would agree with me when I say that in her extensive experience, summertime is for her. While being a redhead in the sunshine isn't exactly a match made in heaven (I have literally used three full tubes of sunscreen so far this summer), Claire's true summer love is our neighborhood wading pool. I don't blame her. It's awesome.
The set up is your basic baby pool. Shallow, warm, and a ton of kids. This summer, Claire is just on the cusp of being able to navigate the pool sans "shadow mom" but since her arms are just a little bit too short to touch the bottom and keep her head out of the water simultaneously (long limbs aren't our thing), I get to take a front row seat in all the action.
While other walking babies generally take a more reserved approach to their pool play time, it should come as no surprise that my child is the baby with zero boundaries/fears. Her lack of any sense of danger actually deserves it's own blog post, so for now, let's just say that without near constant supervision, this kid would end up on the roof of my house or swinging from the branches of our tree. She's fearless...to a fault. So while the other cute little babies sit in the shallowest parts of the pool and practice their splashes, Claire is generally walking around the pool at her top cruising speed and playing "how quick can mom fish me of the pool when I go under"...hence "shadow mom". I have to admit that the first few times she went under, I panicked. And since she did it on Kyle's watch, I had to give him the standard "if she has a bad experience with water now, she'll be afraid of it later" talk. Poor Kyle. He's patient with my mom neurosis.
Unfortunately a good self-dunking didn't instill a healthy fear of the water in my little guppy and lately she's added a few more tricks to her pool repertoire. Yesterday evening (our second trip to the pool that day), Claire decided that she should practice her lifeguard skills and see how quickly she could run down the inclined entrance of the pool and dive/belly flop into the deeper portion. She decided that although dangerous, this was exceptionally fun. Run, flop, squeal, check to see if mom watched/got scared, laugh, repeat. She made a grandma who was sitting nearby literally gasp a few times. "Yep, that's my kid. Don't worry ma'am, she's 15 months old so she's been doing this for at least a few weeks now. Tons of practice. She'll be just fine."...is what her dad's proud grin said. My face probably matched the grandmas.
Water acrobatics aside, we love the pool. And although my semi-urban living days are a thing of the past, I love that we can just pack up and walk to it. Seeing kids walking to the pool with goggles on their heads and towels slung over their shoulders makes me feel like we live in a neighborhood from a different time. Until my 15 month old looks up at someones iPhone and says "carcoon? video?"...then I'm back in reality.
Here are some pictures of Claire and her love-of-her-life-cousin, Vera (whose name Claire literally chants, while she pumps her arm up and down).


Thursday, July 19, 2012

Claire loves her some Elmo. While she is still too young to actually watch Sesame Street, she got her first glimpse of her fuzzy friend in the LMFAO parody video, "Elmo and I Know It". Her love of all things red and her passion for dance music made it an irresistible combination for her. While I'm not exactly proud that my baby dances to the reworked lyrics of "Sexy and I Know It", it's one of those mom moments where you have to step back and admit to yourself that something outside of your parenting ideal, really is harmless. In an attempt to make peace with it, I've strategically bought her several Elmo books. If I'm opening the commercial floodgates, I might as well get some reading mileage out of it, right?
So Elmo it is. We have the Elmo toys, the Elmo books, and even a legit "Tickle Me Elmo" doll. Claire has gotten quite skilled at spotting Elmo in random places. How did it not register for me that the diapers that I've been putting on her since she was born have a mini-Elmo on them? I was stumped for a while when Claire started calling diapers "Elmo". Um...no, this is a diaper Claire. Diaper. Luckily, she's sharper than I am and took the initiative to point it out to me.
I forgive Elmo for speaking in the first person. Only because something about the little red monster (he's a monster right?) brings out the imagination of my little red monster (she is a monster!). Claire is fairly new to imaginative play. She likes to hug the baby doll that the neighbor boy gave her and sometimes tries too stick her bottle in its mouth ("bobble baby!"...she gets a little impatient when the baby doesn't actually go along with it). But recently Elmo seems to be the focus of this form of play.

Yesterday morning, she decided to read him a story.

Then they made matching expressions.

Then Claire perfected a few of her wrestling holds.

I'm not exactly sure what prompted this but later in the afternoon, Claire decided that Elmo needed to snack on some dog food. Maybe she thinks he's one of her pets. Although, if she tried to feed her actual pets like this, I think we'd have a problem.

I'm really not sure what he did wrong...but Elmo got the wooden spoon after lunch.

Maybe she's not that big of a fan after all.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Claire has a best friend. His name is Emmett. His mother and I met in pre-natal yoga and since we had essentially the same due date, we bonded over our synchronized gestation. Once our bumps became babes, we continued our friendship and would meet at least once a week to walk around Chambers Bay and compare notes on everything from sleep schedules to nursing. Side note: you can't get new moms together without nursing dominating the conversation. With three nursing moms in the family last summer, the poor husbands/nephews/father-in-law had to suffer through several awkward family bonfires.
As time went on, I realized that Kalissa (aka Emmett's mom) and I had pretty similar parenting philosophies, which made having each other to bounce ideas off  of even more useful. So while having a friend who was/is going through an identical phase of parenting was great, I completely underestimated the budding friendship that was forming between Claire and Emmett.
Around 3 months, we finished a particularly tough walk and decided to rest in the shade before we headed home. We held the babies up to each other so they could take a good look and they instantly started grabbing each other and grinning. Since they were so young, we were surprised at how "into" each other they were. If I remember correctly, we told our husbands about it and we both got that "oh, I'm sure they were" smile that proud moms often get. But we weren't imagining things. They were totally drawn to each other from a bizarrely young age. Maybe they were bonding in our bellies while we were busting out the downward facing dog (which is ridiculously difficult in the third trimester and quite the sight to see). Whatever the reason, they have always had a special relationship and while their gender differences have been apparent from a really early age (Emmett in constant "flight" mode and Claire generally preferring to be a part of the conversation) they still smile from ear to ear and squeal with glee every time they see each other.

Luckily, both Kalissa and I aren't shy about photographing our children's every move, so we've capture a lot of Claire and Emmett moments over the last year. 

Here is one of their early interactions. Proof that we weren't making it up!

 Then a few from their matching Adidas track suit photoshoot.

Telling each other jokes at Claire's birthday.


Post race cool-down after the Sound to Narrows Diaper Dash.

And a few from the Tot-Lot yesterday. 

Claire loves her "Em-eet" (which sometimes loses the t sound and turns into Emmy) and I have no doubt that they'll be buddies in the years to come.