Friday, January 31, 2014

The adventures of Klair Bear: Month 14

As of the 29th Klair was 12 months + 2. That means I'm closing in on the 2 year mark of being a mom (if you count gestation... which I definitely do). I swear to you pregnancy was the longest nine months of my life. In contrast, the first year (and then some) of Klair's life has been the speediest of my life.

Strange how that works. I'm guessing it's because babies keep you busy, and they keep you guessing. As soon as I think I have her figured out she goes and changes on me again. Her needs, desires, abilities, even her very temperament fluctuates and evolves so rapidly. I've learned to be flexible, quick on my feet, and patient. Oh so patient. I've also learned that all phases are just that--phases. For better or worse the only thing I can count on is change. Fast-paced, unpredictable change.

Don't get me wrong, though. I do feel like I know her well, I mean... I've spent more time with her than with anyone else. Ever.  Every single day for two years. Inseparable for 9 months and pretty much that for the rest. And she knows me on a level I never even knew existed until she came along. She has awakened within me more emotions, and shown me more beauty than I know what to do with. She's changed me, for the better. Yet, despite the intimacy of our relationship, sometimes I feel like we're strangers. In the grand scheme of things I barely know her. I'm just beginning to chip away at this iceberg that is her personality.

It's a peculiar paradox to know someone so completely... and not at all.

All musing aside, I really am enjoying the process of getting to know the person I know best. Furthermore, having a newborn was great, but I am in love with this older baby/young toddler phaseI look forward to discovering more about her... every day.

So, at 14 months, here are a few things I've learned about Klair and her (current) personality:

Klair loves books. She is constantly bringing them to us to read to her. She could read all day and be quite content. She'll hand one of us a book, climb into our lap, and wait for us to begin. She turns the pages, points at pictures, and asks "dat?" meaning "what's that?" And, once we've told her what something is she doesn't forget it.

Often, after one of us has read to her, she'll take the book and flip through the pages while babbling in Klairinese. She reads the book to us. It's adorable.
Currently, her favorite book is "I Love You Through and Through." She likes to kiss the boy in the book. ...should I be worried?
She's also particularly fond of the book Five Little Monkeys. You know the classic rhyme...well, they made it into a book (real original, right?) and Klair enjoys it immensely. When I say the line "no more monkeys jumping on the bed" I always shake my finger. She picked up on this. Now, she'll read through the book, shake her finger and sternly say "ba ba ba ba ba ba!"  

Klair likes balloons. Like, a lot. The mere sight of a balloon is enough to send her into a flurry of squeals and "wows." And, surprisingly she doesn't cry when they pop. In fact, she isn't phased by it at all. (Rosie also loves balloons as you can see in the video below).
Klair adores bouncy balls. Rosie has a ball that she is particularly fond of and Klair will throw it for her. It's so cute to see them play together.
Klair sleeps on her side and on her stomach. She moves a lot at night. I put her in the middle of her crib on her back, and often discover her in the strangest positions and corners of the bed in the morning. 
Klair enjoys climbing. She randomly started climbing stairs on Christmas and now she wants to climb onto everything (and everyone). She's actually getting pretty good at it, and I'm finding that my anxiety level is decreasing as she learns to climb up and off of things on her own (without falling). She conquered this dinosaur at the mall all by herself today... and then proceeded to sit on it for 20 minutes as if reveling in her victory. 
Klair eats a lot and she is getting chubby again. Apparently weaning her off of milk has encouraged her to eat more solids and she's regaining everything she lost around the 12 month mark. I'm actually quite excited about it. I can't wait to see her chubby little leg rolls in all the rompers and shorts that are coming out for Spring!
Klair is a ham... but that's nothing new. (I probably shouldn't take pictures at church... oh well :)
Klair wants to brush her teeth... constantly. She opens the drawer where I keep her toothbrush, presses the toothpaste against the brush (as if she's putting some on) and puts the brush in her mouth. She's an oral hygiene enthusiast. In this particular photo, she destroyed this drawer and stole my toothbrush. 
Klair likes to brush her own hair (and my hair, and the dog's hair, and the hair of anyone in reach).
Klair gives lots of kisses. She even makes the kissing noise now! It's too cute. She also blows kisses, and when she hugs she will lay her head on your shoulder and say  "awww."  
Klair interacts incredibly well with people. It's so fun to take her places, because she smiles and waves to everyone. Her happiness is contagious. She literally brightens every room she enters. I love how sweet and social she is. 
Klair holds her spoon like an adult. I didn't teach her this, I guess she just picked up on it. I'm kind of impressed.
Klair devours fruit snacks like they're going out of style. I actually don't like giving them to her because she's been known to cry once they're all gone...
Klair throws tantrums. If she wants something (like my phone, or the keys) and can't have it then she will throw herself on the ground and cry.
Klair unlocks my phone, and locks me out of it constantly (by entering the wrong code too many times). She has figured out how to unlock both her parent's phones (I have the iPhone, he has the Nokia Lumia) and she knows to swipe her little finger. It's really entertaining to watch her because we've never deliberately shown her. Observant little baby.
Klair loves her car that her grandparents got her for Christmas. She constantly rides it, dances to the music it makes, and she hoards things in the little compartment under the seat. If something goes missing, chances are she hid it in there.
Klair watches the show Daniel the Tiger, and thoroughly enjoys it. She gets so engrossed. And (confession) I sometimes put on an episode so I can get things done around the house.
Apparently Sam likes the show too :)
Klair wears shoes now! :) She didn't for awhile. She would just take them off as soon as I put them on. I suddenly felt bad for all those times I judged moms whose kids didn't have shoes or socks on, because I now realize the kids were probably like Klair. But she wears them now, so that's good. It's been fun to finally use all the cute shoes I bought her. 

Klair possesses great hair. Pigtails and ponytails have been too much fun lately, and they make for great day-after-bed-head too.
Klair scoots. Her main and preferred mode of transportation is still scooting. See exhibit A:

Klair crawls as of a few days ago. We were getting ready to go swimming and I put her suit on her to make sure it still fit. Out of no where she started crawling. We've been trying to encourage her to do this for months, so it was a pleasant surprise. See exhibit B:
Klair alternates between scooting and crawling to get around.

Klair walks, and she's actually really good at it, but she only does it when she feels like it. She has great balance, but she never walks spontaneously or of her own accord. She'll only do it if we encourage her or make a game out of it. I guess she's just lacking in the desire department.
Apparently scooting is cooler. 

I suppose she simply "scoots to the beat of her own drum."
All in all I love my original, brilliant, beautifulstubborn, sweet, happy 14 month baby girl,
and I can't wait to see what the future has in store for us!  

Monday, January 27, 2014

11 years ago today my dad died...

I don’t remember a lot about it. Well, I do and I don’t. It’s interesting how the mind semi-suppresses traumatic events. Of course I remember, but only sort of. Those moments--waking up at 3 in the morning to a phone call saying he wouldn't make it, rushing to the hospital, watching him flat-line--they are etched into my memory. Yet, the images themselves are faulty, almost fluid. Muffled. Like watching a scene unfold underwater--the sights and sounds distorted by the murky depths of a dark, ominous body of water. I remember some details, like touching his cold hands… because his hands were never cold. He would always warm my hands, but his felt like ice. It was all wrong. I remember my mom crying, but only vaguely. I remember lots of hugs, but the faces are muted. I couldn't tell you who was present and who wasn't. What I can remember with any certainty are the emotions. They are vividly seared into my psyche, into my soul. The abruptness of it all. His death was unexpected. There was disbelief combined with raw, gut-wrenching, soul shattering sadness--the kind of despair that can’t be described, and can only be understood by those who have lost someone very dear to them.

I was 14 years old, and my daddy was gone. 

My whole world had been ripped out from underneath me.

11 years. It’s strange, really. I've lived almost as long without my Dad as I did with him. I've done a lot of growing in this last decade plus one. I graduated high school, college, I’m married, I’m a mother… by all accounts, I’m a grown up. A full-fledged adult. But, he wasn't here to see any of it. I didn't get a daddy-daughter dance at my wedding and I’ll never see him hold any of my babies. It’s funny how days like this can cut me down, and make me feel 14 again--a broken little girl who wants nothing more than to be held by her daddy.

Just as I wrote that, as that old familiar sting of sadness began to settle in, my sweet, intuitive little daughter came over and demanded to be held. I was typing while she played with her toys. She was completely engrossed in them, independently, contently playing. But, the moment I needed her... there she was. A timely intervention. I was about to get lost in myself, and in that moment she redirected my attention. She climbed up, relaxed her little body, and snuggled into me. I got lost in her instead. Those of you who have (or have had) a 1 year old know that (apart from sleep time) these moments are quite rare. I think she knew I needed her. She reminded me what is important. She reminds me what's important. 

My Dad's name was Klair. I am Autumn Klair. My daughter is Klair Marie. 

I suppose I can't be held by Klair, so I hold Klair instead. 
She brings light to my darkness. 

I miss my dad. I miss so many things about him. I was always such a daddy's girl. I will always be one. He was an incredible person--the kind of individual that people liked to like. Dad was a “people person,” so to speak. Instantly endearing. He had a warmth about him, a gentleness, a kind smile. He was extremely humble. He was real. He didn't have a pretentious bone in his body and he accepted people for who they are. He really, truly loved people. He was very Christ-like. 

When I was little I would fall asleep in his arms every night. 
(These are just scanned from a scrapbook so please ignore the not-so-ideal quality and cutesy scrapbook decorations.)

My dad was funny, in a quirky kind of way--always telling silly jokes, making the kind of puns that would elicit a smile and maybe even an eye roll. He was a devoted Utah Jazz fan, hunter, fisher, painter, guitarist, and a blue-collared man all his days. He worked hard with his hands to provide for his family. And, even though we often barely scraped by, we never felt poor. 

My dad loved to learn. He was extremely intelligent and hungered after knowledge. He had a particular fondness for the Discovery Channel and History Channel. In another life he would have liked to have been a history teacher. I think it's a large part of why I chose to be a social studies teacher. 

He had a testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ. I remember him telling me that it all fit together "like a puzzle" and that it "just made sense." He said it so matter-of-factly. I don't know if he realized the impact that conversation had on me. I have reflected on this often as my own testimony has grown. 

He was a fun dad. He took guitar lessons with me, even though he already knew how to play. We had regular movie nights on the weekends complete with too much junk food. He coached my sister's softball and my soccer team—always on the sidelines cheering us on. In the summer we played catch, Frisbee, and went for bike rides and long walks with our dogs. In the winter he would come outside and play in the snow with us. He bought a hat at Disneyland that said “I’m never growing up” and this was his mantra. He was big kid at heart. 

He had two girls, and loved us. Some men who only have daughters mourn the fact that they never had a son. He never did, and he never put us in a box labeled “girl.” He gave us every opportunity and encouraged us to do whatever we could dream of. He took us hiking, camping, fishing, and boating. He played and watched sports with us, and we had regular video game nights. He even let me go hunting with him (despite my perpetual “Bambi” references and petitions). And, when the occasion called for it, I remember him fumbling to try and do my hair. 

I definitely look like my dad, and I like to think that I inherited some of the qualities that made him so lovable. I know that my little Klair Bear certainly has. At first I wondered about naming her after my Dad, thinking perhaps it might be too painful. Now, I’m so glad that we did. 

She has brought new life to his name, to his memory.
I miss my dad, but I am confident I will see him again. I know that he watches over my family. 
I know that he is waiting on the other side to receive me and give me a big “bear” hug. 
How grateful I am for the atonement of Jesus Christ and the knowledge that family relationships are perpetuated beyond the grave.

On days like this, it's enough to calm my troubled heart. 

Also, this song is currently stuck in my head. 
Do you ever feel like a song speaks so perfectly 
to what you're feeling that you're convinced it 
was written just for you in that moment?

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Ice Castle Adventure

I've been seeing a lot of hype in the Utah scene lately about an ice castle up in Midway. Local Instagrammers have been lighting up the app with their ice-capades to the impressive man-made structure... and rightly so.

It's a castle made out of ice

Naturally,  we had to take Klair. She is a princess after all.  Plus, the concept and process is so cool. The geography teacher in me was kind of geeking out over it.

Klair loved all of the ice. 
She said "wow" repeatedly and kept trying to touch everything.

Isn't she adorable in her winter gear?
 I'm in love with my little Klair Bear (pun intended). 

And this man. I'm totally crushing on him in this photo. 

Some of Sam's family (his parents, brother and his wife, and our nieces) came with us and we made a day of it.

I just love these photos of Sam's parents with their granddaughters. 
So precious!

Our nieces are a little older and really appreciated the fact that it was a castle.  It was so fun to see how happy and excited they were exploring it. 
Love these little girls! 

We even found Olof! I haven't seen Frozen myself (something I've heard I need to remedy), but I could tell by the looks on the kids' faces that it was a pretty awesome discovery. 
Plus, he made a cute picture companion. 

It was such a fun family outing! If you are in the Utah area I highly recommend making the trip up to Midway to check it out. 

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Easy, Delicious, Gluten-Free Cupcakes

For Klair's first birthday I decided that I wanted to do all of the baking myself because it's tastier, and a lot cheaper... especially when you're forced to do everything gluten-free. In the beginning I was feeling extra ambitious and set out to do everything from scratch. But, after making two 3-layer cakes (one for smashing and one for her party) an assortment of other desserts, and decorating... I was feeling, well, less than energetic.

Thus, I cheated a little on the cupcakes. I remembered a friend of mine (whose husband has Celiac Disease) mentioning that the best gluten-free cake mixes are the Betty Crocker ones. I decided to give it a go. With a few additions (that I learned from a baker regarding boxed cake mixes) and some homemade buttercream  frosting, I was pleasantly surprised by the outcome. They were ridiculously easy, and ridiculously yummy!

The Cupcakes 
The trick to making any boxed cake mix taste especially good (gluten-free or not) is to follow the directions on the box with two exceptions--you substitute half of the milk for buttermilk, and you add a package of pudding mix (vanilla for a white or yellow cake, chocolate for chocolate, etc.) I used this method with the Betty Crocker white cake mix, and the cupcakes were perfectly soft and delicious. No one could tell they were gluten-free unless I told them.

Homemade Buttercream Frosting
As I mentioned before, I topped my cupcakes off with a frosting that is to die for. It's another recipe that I learned from a baker, and it's always a crowd pleaser...and sooo easy to make! Even my husband who is not a big fan of sweets (so weird to me) can't get enough of it.

You'll need: 
1 lb of powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup of salted butter (softened)
1/4 cup of milk

Blend all of the ingredients together and add the milk slowly.

...that's it! :)

  • This recipe creates a stark-white frosting, but I added a few drops of red food-dye to make my cupcakes oh so pretty-in-pink. 
  • Also, to get the rose look on my cupcakes, I used a pastry bag and flower tip and simply made swirls. It's so much easier to frost things this way! If you don't have a pastry/icing bag kit, I suggest you get one immediately.
  • This recipe yields enough frosting for the cupcakes. I would double it if you are using it on a 3 layer cake. 
  • If you want to make the frosting thicker or thinner (depending on what you're trying to accomplish) simply add milk to thin, and powdered sugar to thicken
Oh my. All this talk of cupcakes and frosting has my mouth watering. I hope this post was helpful! Let me know if you have any questions and I'll be sure to get back to you. I think I might need to go bake now... 

Monday, January 13, 2014

Fancy Work Holiday Party

I'm aware that the holidays are over, but Sam's company decided to throw their annual party last Friday. I suppose they were trying to avoid all of the hype and jam-packed calendars in the weeks preceding Christmas. And honestly, I don't mind. It's nice to have something to look forward to in January, and I won't complain about any occasion that gives me the opportunity to dress up!

My best friend offered to babysit, and after going through my neurotic-mom list of everything I could think of that she might need, we were off on our little adventure. But, not before taking a few photos of course. How could I resist getting a few pictures of this guy in a bow-tie? Handsome, handsome husband.
The party was held downtown in a nice hotel. The theme was Casino Night and they gave us all chips to play that we could later exchange for raffle tickets. I've never gambled before so I was pretty clueless. After wandering around for a bit Sam and I found ourselves at a blackjack table, and we ended up spending the majority of our time there. It was easy to learn, and even though Sam didn't do too well I cleaned up quite nicely to even us out. We also found ourselves on the dancing, which was a very pleasant surprise. My husband isn't usually too keen on dancing, but he was such a good sport. And, I must say, he really worked that dance floor. It was hilarious and so much fun!

Ahh a much needed night out with the husband! I love being able to get out and go on dates. Any opportunity to feel less mom-like, pretty, relaxed, and maybe even a little silly is very appreciated.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Klair's First Hair Cut

I'm currently sitting here with this (literal) angel all snuggled up in my arms sleeping ever so sweetly. I just couldn't seem to put her in her crib when she first drifted off to slumber land. I didn't want to. I was enjoying it too much. But, alas, now I'm kind of stuck. I missed my window. I know all too well that if I try and move her now she'll wake up, look at me with those big, dreamy blue eyes and immediately start babbling at me in Klairinese--as if she's recounting the visions that were just dancing around in her head. This option wouldn't be so bad, if it weren't for the fact that I know she needs the rest. Thus, I'm content to sit here. Thank goodness I had enough foresight to bring my phone with me. This actually gives me an opportunity to write about an event that I've been meaning to address for awhile--

Baby girl's first trip to the salon to trim those precious golden locks. 

The Before: 

Her hair has been awesome her entire life. She has always had a good amount, especially for a blondie. It naturally grew longer on top into what appeared to be a purposeful pixie cut. I thought perhaps we might get lucky enough that we wouldn't need to cut her baby hair and that over time it would grow into the perfect little-girl-long-hairstyle. Recently, however, the back of her hair decided to start growing rapidly and began to look like.... well, a mullet. I didn't really catch on at first. I was oblivious--blinded by my excitement that her hair was getting some length. It wasn't until my best friend, Sharydon (who happens to be a fantastic hairstylist) mentioned that Klair would probably need a haircut soon and that she would like to do it, that the thought even crossed my mind. 

And honestly, I probably would have continued in my denial if it weren't for Sam affirming Sharydon's comment by mentioning that it was about time to get Klair's hair trimmed. I hesitatingly grabbed my phone, bravely texted Sharydon, and made an appointment for that week. Apparently setting a date to get my baby's precious, virgin hair trimmed was a lot harder than I realized.

The actual process of cutting her hair was a lot easier than I thought it would be. We draped her in a cute little baby cape, and I put one on too. Then, we simply had her sit in my lap while Sharydon worked her magic. Klair was so excited about all the new sights and sounds that she was pretty unaware of the trimming taking place. When we needed her to look in a certain direction, we would direct her eyes with a brush, spray bottle, or anything we could find that Klair found remotely interesting. 

Overall she was great during the process.
 I think it helped that she loves her Sharydon so much.

Also, this post would not be complete without mentioning that Sharydon was so sweet! She was incredibly patient, refused to let me pay, and even saved a few locks in an envelope for me. I’m kind of spoiled in the best friend department. Plus, Klair’s hair looked perfect. The cut was nothing too dramatic. Just a little trimmed off of the back to reduce the appearance of a mullet and to prepare it to grow into the perfect little toddler bob. And then, someday… it will become the long, beautiful locks that I dream of! I get all giddy just thinking about pretty blonde braids of all varieties.

The After: 

Oh, little girl. We have so much fun ahead of us. 
I just love you to pieces!