Tuesday, December 28, 2010

It has been a Merry Christmas for Clara and Luke

Clara and Luke are quickly learning the benefits of having loving grandparents! Both sets showered them many, many presents this Christmas.

First, Grandma and Grandpa Nobles came to Richmond and got to play Santa. Clara is just starting to get the hang of tearing into wrapping paper:

Grandma and Grandpa brought Uncle Bunny with them. It was his first chance to meet Luke and he found the perfect Buffalo Bills sweatshirt for Clara.

We shuffled off to New York bright and early Christmas morning, and despite warnings from our pediatrician that the trip would take double the amount of time, the babies were so good that it only took an additional 45 minutes. Nana Kirkpatrick was pretty excited to welcome both grand kids to Fort Plain.

..and this picture pretty much speaks for itself.

And the best is yet to come.. Clara and Luke get to meet Cousin Caleigh for the first time today! More cute pictures to come.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Christmas card preview

It goes without saying that we are pretty excited to send out Christmas cards this year. In past years, we have always tried to be as creative as possible with our cards and that usually meant subjecting our pets to awkward poses and lengthy photo shoots. Photo shoots, that usually left us with cat scratches up and down our arms.

Last year, we took Christmas cards "off". We were busy with a bunch of other things and honestly 2009 wasn't the best year for us, so we didn't feel like we had a ton to celebrate.

Flash forward to 2010 and things couldn't be different. We certainly don't have any additional time, but with two new babies we have a lot to celebrate and so much to share.

A must for any Christmas card that we have ever sent since we've been married is that it has to include a personal photo. Before our "real" children, that meant Sophie Belle was usually the star. One year she appeared as an angel, another with her head through a Christmas wreath. Sophie would generally be cooperative, which meant she always got in. The other pets... not so much. Like the one year when we dressed Jasper (our cat) up in this Santa outfit:

We got her in the Santa suit, but she was so angry that she scratched us, ran off and hid under the bed until the shoot was over.

Despite our difficulties, we usually end up with a pretty fun photo to share. The next issue is getting it designed and printed. A not so easy task. As we were going through the adoption process we discovered Shutterfly. It is an incredibly easy- to-use photo processing web site that can turn your simple photos into really professional cards, letters or whatever you need.

We used Shutterfly to design a photo book that gave potential birth-moms some insight into what our family was like. The result was magnificent. The web site walked us through the process step-by-step and gave us the option of editing our work as we went. For a really cheap price we ended up with something that gave us a useful tool in our search for a son or daughter. We had them ready to send to adoption agencies, private adoption attorneys and other potential leads that could help us grow our family.

As it turned out, a lead on Clara came just as the books arrived. While they didn't turn out to be necessary in our adoption process, they now are fun little storybooks that we can share with Clara and Luke about what our family was like before they became a part of it.

We have returned to Shutterfly for help with designing the most important Christmas card of yet. Just like the photo books, we were so impressed to find the myriad of design options and creative ways we can create Christmas cards. The other cool thing we discovered is that they have a wide range of birthday invitation options. That will come in handy when we are planning holidays and birthdays in the future because, Luke and Clara's birthdays are so close together and so close to Christmas and Thanksgiving. Shutterfly also seems to be a perfect place to find gift ideas for the grandparents who are already obsessed with anything that contains photos of the two.


So without further ado.. here is a preview of what to expect from the Nobles Family Christmas Card 2010. (Not the whole thing.. we don't want to spoil it!)


A pledge to post more

So there is no question that Our Life With Clara has been a little neglected over the past few months, but we have several good excuses.

*We just completed a lengthy, but successful home mortgage re-finance.
*We took the truck off the road, but haven't had any luck selling it quite yet.
*We bought a pumpkin for Halloween, but honestly never got around to carving it.

..oh yeah and then there was this:

LUKE WAS BORN!

Chances are if you read this blog, you are a pretty close friend or member of our family so this isn't really "news". However, it's relevant because "Our Life With Clara" will now have "and Luke" added to the title. Karey and I are going to work at putting out regular updates on what our two munchkins are up to.

Both are already filled with plenty of personality so I am sure there will be a lot to share. Like for instance, this:


video

Yes.. those are Clara's first steps and yes they did happen IN the hospital the day after her baby brother was born. But don't think she has been off to the races since. While she seemed pretty excited to walk there, she still thinks crawling is a better way around.

Thanks for stopping by and check back often!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Clara at eight months

Our little girl turned eight months old on August 1 and it seems like she's growing and changing every single day!

She's been sitting up for a while, calling Ryan "dada", and holding her own bottle and feeding herself (when she's in the mood). And while she's been mobile for a couple months now (back scooting, rolling across the room, and pulling herself along the floor flat on her stomach), she's now doing the "army crawl" which I've heard comes right before actual crawling. She also gets on all fours and rocks back and forth, seemingly unsure of how to actually move forward. Any day now!

Clara plays for hours on the floor every day and loves all of her toys, especially her little piano. But I spend a lot of my time pulling her back from going near everything she shouldn't! She is drawn to underneath our end tables, the brick on our fireplace, under her pack and play and just about anywhere I really don't want her to be!

She's also a total daddy's girl lately. I always say her favorite things in order are 1) my iPhone, 2) the remote, 3) her daddy, 4) my flip flops, 5) Sophie, 6) Jasper, and 7) her mommy. That's okay, I know she loves me too!

We'll be celebrating her first birthday before we know it (and that means baby #2 could be here too!).

Our friend Matthew was kind enough to do a little photo shoot with Clara the other day (which she was not too thrilled about), and the photos are below.

Happy eight months, Clara!














Wednesday, June 9, 2010

6 months of Clara

It is hard to believe, but the little munchkin who has changed our lives is already 6 months old!

She changes by the moment and with all of the things happening in our lives, Karey thought it was a good idea to take a deep breath and look at the whirlwind that has become "Our Life With Clara".

So without further ado.. we present 6 months of Clara. Enjoy!



video

Friday, May 28, 2010

This is really happening

I can’t believe I am actually typing this.

After 5-and-a-half years of trying to conceive and the adoption of Clara, I never thought I’d share the news that my wife was pregnant.

But guess what?

KAREY IS PREGNANT!!!!!

That is right. Our family, which for a long time was only made up of two people, is going to double in size in less than a year. Our new addition is growing on schedule, ready to join the world the first week in December. It will be only a few days after we celebrate Clara’s first birthday (but, of course, he/she could come early too).

If you are doing the math, that makes Karey three months pregnant and into her 2nd trimester. As you might imagine, after everything we have been through we were very guarded in releasing the news. However, we’ve had two ultrasounds and a few doctors appointments and everything is moving ahead just the way it is supposed to. That includes Karey feeling rotten for the last few months, while at the same time caring full time for a very active infant.

We are still adjusting to the fact that we are no longer an infertile couple. As hard as it has been, we would not have traded this experience for anything. This new development makes it even more clear that God had a very special plan for our lives, our marriage and our family. It was the only plan that could have connected us with Clara, and while we don’t have scientific proof, we strongly believe her arrival, and the joy that Karey experienced ever since, may have been the missing link to her finally conceiving (that, and several surgeries throughout the past five years).

It goes without saying that we feel incredibly blessed. As much as you probably think you’ve heard that once someone adopts they get pregnant right after, it is incredibly rare. We were overwhelmed with how much Clara changed our lives. And now with this new addition, we honestly can’t put it into words. I feel like I won the lottery, was elected President and discovered a buried treasure under our house.. all at the same time. It truly is an embarrassment of riches.

To answer your questions before you ask:

*We don’t know the sex yet, but we will find out in about seven weeks.
*We are pretty committed to a boy’s name, but we are still in a contentious debate over a girl’s name.
*No, we won’t tell you those names yet.
*Yes, we are considering dumping my beloved pickup truck in exchange for a minivan or something along those lines.
*YES I WILL SELL YOU MY TRUCK FOR A GOOD PRICE.
*Currently the most creative name we have for the child en utero is “Baby #2.” Any suggestions are welcome.

So check back for updates and baby bump photos!! Yes.. THIS IS REALLY HAPPENING!

Meanwhile enjoy this photo that we never thought we'd be able to post. Especially not so soon:

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Cuteness

I know I am running the risk that no one outside of our immediate families will find this humorous, or be able to sit through the entire thing, but as her mother, I am thoroughly amused with Clara's attempts at making a raspberry noise. The sweet little thing tries and tries, never exactly getting it just right. But she's so adorable doing it!

video

Friday, April 30, 2010

A favorite toy

Clara turns 5 months old on May 1st. She has hit a number of critical milestones. She is almost 12 pounds, she is now eating baby food and she actually appears on the growth chart! (A big deal for a premiee).

For a human being of such a young age, Clara has accumulated a lot of "stuff". And I'm not just talking about the things you'd expect, like clothes, diapers and high chairs.

This little lady already has gear in support of her favorite athletic teams (poor thing), a television monitoring system with infrared technology and of course toys. A lot of toys. Toys, that up until yesterday she didn't seem all that interested in.

One of the many gifts that Clara received in the days after we picked her up, was a beautiful bunny, given to us by the main anchor at my TV station Gene Cox and his wife Elle. For some reason the bunny became a permanent fixture on her changing table. I'd often bop her in the nose with it, or rub its soft fabric on her skin. The gestures did not seem to matter to her one way or the other.

However, almost overnight, Clara has become very interested in the bunny. It grabs her gaze whenever you put it in front of her and when we put it in her car seat she starts to grab it, put the ears in her mouth and toss it around. When we pull the bunny away, she shoots us a look of concern, almost fright, that her new friend is being taken away.

So Clara has a favorite toy. I am sure it won't be the last. But like every milestone, this too is special.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Clara picks Pitt to win it all


It is a sad day in the Nobles house. Our daughter is not even a year old, and she is already starting to question her parents' sports allegiances.

Karey and I, being rabid Syracuse Orange fans, are of the belief that this is their year. A #1 seed, a balanced attack and the best coach in NCAA basketball. There is no way this team isn't Final Four bound.

Clara doesn't agree.

This morning we gave her the chance to pick the entire 64 team field and completely on her own, she went with the Pittsburgh Panthers over our beloved Orange. Our only saving grace is that she does believe Pitt will win the entire tournament.

Here is a short video that shows how she picked her bracket. It includes the fateful pick of Pitt over SU.


video

For the record here is the little lady's Final Four:
Pitt over Kansas
Villanova over West Virginia
Championship: Pitt over Villanova

You can see and follow her entire bracket by clicking here.

Some other tid-bits- She likes the hometown Siena Saints to make a run to the Sweet 16 and she thinks Murray State pulls off a first round upset. Her biggest shocker, (We are calling it the Clara upset special): 15 seed UC Santa Barbara over Ohio State. (Sorry Aunt Ashley and Uncle Adam)

Post your Final Four picks in the comments so we can see where you stack up with Ms. Clara.


Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Three-month check up

Nine-and-a-half pounds.

That's what little Miss Clara weighs these days, and it happens to be more than three times her birth weight!

She had her three month check-up yesterday (a couple weeks late) and she is doing just great. Her weight is approaching the low end of the growth chart (the regular growth chart for full-term babies) and her own curve got much steeper since her last weigh in. She just keeps gaining!

The pediatrician did think her breathing still sounded heavy, and attributed it to her likely having smaller airways. She said she should outgrow that, but most likely will have asthma. She also said that while most people can look to eating habits as a sign that something is wrong, we might not be able to do the same, since Clara always eats well. Even in the hospital! Like mother, like daughter!

Clara also impressed the doctor by locking eyes with her and even raising her eyebrows to communicate (what, I'm not sure). She said Clara seems to be doing well developmentally, and in some respects is even ahead of a full-term three-month old at this point!

She also got three vaccinations and was pretty cranky yesterday from the shots, poor thing.

The big news is that the doctor advised that we switch her over to her crib. She said since Clara is a preemie, we should be taking all precautions to avoid SIDs, which means now that she is more active, her bassinet with padded sides is not okay. So she's now in her crib in her nursery with no bumpers and no blankets. I had to buy her a "sleep sack" yesterday, which is basically a sleeper that goes over her normal pajamas and serves as her blanket.

She looks pretty lonely in there, but I think she likes it! This is how we found her at one point yesterday evening:


She, of course, started out at one end, but apparently likes to squirm! She was in a different position every time we checked on her!

We have a video monitor set up and I am just transfixed. I could watch it for hours!

Well, we have lots of Clara pics to share, and I'm behind in posting them, so I'll leave you with just a few:

Clara has a buddy these days... Jasper! I never would have guessed it. I think it's because they share a common interest - me! I'm near Clara and Jasper wants to be near me. But she is good with the baby and I am always supervising (don't worry, mom!). Here's another shot of the two girls...



Clara has a lot of hair bows so I put one on just for fun. Turns out babies can get head-band head! I had to wet down her hair for church that evening. She's also sporting her new stylish "peep-toe" shoes, the hottest trend in baby fashion this spring :)


In this shot, Clara was just transfixed on me as I was blowing my hair dry. I love it that she is focusing on us and watching us lately!


She's so smiley! And she nearly chuckles, which she is on the verge of doing here. Oh, and do you notice the hair on her head? That's right - Clara no longer has the "old-man-wrap-around" (as one nurse put it during her hospital stay)! We like her both ways, but we are glad to see it come in so soon!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

I can't wait to keep meeting my daughter

Clara has a new trait.

She smiles.

I know, not really earth shattering, but for Karey and me it is huge. She used to smile on occasion before, but was always assumed it was just by accident. We'd see her sort of curl up her lip and her eyes widen and we'd claim that as an expression of her happiness. We don't need to do that anymore. Now she smiles all the time and in different ways. Huge, big open mouth smiles. Little, almost mischievous closed mouth smiles. And of course my favorite, the one you see here, smiles that are sent only through her eyes.

This new phenomenon got me thinking. There is so much about Clara that we have yet to learn. I passionately looked forward to meeting my first child for a long time, but I never thought that once she came to us, that introduction process would be ongoing for the rest of our lives. 3 months ago, I knew nothing about Clara, but 2 weeks ago, I knew nothing about the Clara that smiles all of the time.

The weather has been spectacular this week in Central Virginia and whenever I feel the spring air, I almost automatically start thinking about baseball. Living in Upstate NY, the idea of getting to play baseball outside after being buried under snow for 6 months brought me such excitement. I loved when my Dad and I would find my glove buried under a pile of sporting equipment in the basement and we'd oil it up to get ready to play catch for the first time.

It won't be long before I can share that experience with Clara. I have no idea if she will have the same enjoyment that I did. As I thought about that future, my mind started racing, wondering what kind of kid Clara will be. Will she be a super girly-girl, like her mother and her Aunt Becky and I will have to beg her to come outside? Will she be a little tomboy, like Aunt Amy and be the one begging me to go outside and play catch?

But my thought process went even further.. What if she does want to play softball or baseball, what kind of player will she be? Will she want to lead-off and steal bases? Will she be a power hitter? Will she want to pitch and learn a vicious windmill that her opponents will cower in fear over? (I vote for all of the above)

The point is, I have no idea. I don't even know that girl yet. But I can't wait to meet her.

I honestly get excited when I think of every single one of those possibilities unfolding, and this is just one tiny example of the thousands of new Claras we are going to meet in the future.

Over the course of my life, I don't feel really like I have changed all that much. But this new revelation has made me realize that my parents are meeting new versions of me all the time. Even though I am a full grown adult, they are still meeting the new me, even today.

They have waited a long time to meet their son as a father.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Clara visits NY

We're back from Clara's first visit to my hometown. The reason for our trip - Clara and I had a baby shower! It was so much fun. I highly recommend having one if you are adopting. It was a great way for everyone to meet little Clara, and after hearing our story, so many people couldn't wait to see her. And how much more fun is a shower when the baby is in attendance?!

We got lots of great stuff, and I am constantly reminded just how incredibly generous people are. Some people have given two and three gifts at this point! We are so blessed. And we truly have everything we need, especially in the clothing department. This little girl is one well-dressed infant! One of these days I really need to take a picture of her closet. It is jammed packed!

I don't have many pictures of the actual shower just yet (I didn't really have a chance to use my camera in between eating the awesome food and opening presents), but I do have some shots from the overall trip to my parents:


My mom, me and Clara at the shower


Clara LOVES her grandfather. She smiles every time he talks to her!



She got to meet her great-grandpa







That smile melts my heart!!

Clara turned three months old last week. And as you can see in the pictures, she also entered a new phase - she smiles! I couldn't wait for this milestone to arrive. She used to smile once in a while, but now she's smiling at appropriate times, and much more often.

She's also getting so big. She hasn't been weighed in a couple weeks, but we estimate that she weighs between 8 1/2 and 9 pounds. For the first time over the weekend, my arm and back was sore from holding her. Apparently that's what most mothers experience from the start! Our little peanut was light as a feather for the first three months!

She's now fitting into 0-3 month clothes, and while newborn stuff does still fit her, it's getting tighter every day.

She is also sleeping longer. Sometimes she goes four hours between feedings. She does have some acid reflux, so we had to start adding rice cereal to her formula, as well as reduce the amount of formula (which she hasn't been too happy about). The pediatrician also switched her reflux medication and so far the changes have all seemed to work. I hate when I can tell she's in pain, so we're thankful that is happening far less than it used to.

I will update with more shower pictures when I get them. But in the meantime, a big "thank you" to all who were in attendance on Saturday! I am so glad you all got to meet Clara!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

New Clara pics

Clara is doing great, praise God! Thank you so much for all of your prayers.

We are truly so blessed that she pulled through like she did. She didn't have pneumonia when they first said she did. She didn't get worse when they said she would. And, so far, she hasn't had the cough they said would linger for up to two weeks. She is a little fighter, and you all stormed heaven on her behalf. What a great combination!

I am WAY behind in posting pictures, so that's what this post will be. I'll put the most recent first, then the older ones at the end, in case you notice her getting smaller (by the way, she is now 7 lbs. 11.2 oz! She actually gained weight in the hospital! Oh, and she's 12 weeks today).

She was feeling better today and seemed really happy, so I decided to torture her have her model some new outfits she got in the mail yesterday from Grandma:









The rest of these are pre-RSV, and she's probably a pound lighter:


Aunt Carol couldn't get enough of her


Jordan did a lot of holding and feeding Clara during his visit, not to mention pushing the stroller around Short Pump!


Aunt Caitie with her little niece


Barb and Whitey stopped to see her on their way south





I can already tell a difference between her size in these pictures. We can't believe how big she's getting. She's almost in size 0-3! Time to go feed her right now, actually!