December 28, 2012

Santa Clara and her Reindeer

I got this Santa suit at a consignment sale this fall for like three bucks and I can't tell you how much fun we had wearing it this Christmas season.  I wanted to make sure that I got it captured on film for all the memories, so here are some shots I grabbed in the unseasonably warm December weather!

Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree

Everything about Christmas was more fun this year because Clara could participate and understand and, like her mama, was so very very excited about all things Christmas-y.  Here we are doing a little tree decorating....

I feel like I should say that the colored lights on this tree are one of the biggest compromises of my married life.  I always grew up with white lights and, well, to say that I prefer them is not quite strong enough.  Robert grew up with colored lights.  Last year, we had one of the ugliest fights of our marriage.  Yes, over Christmas lights.  And the decided truce was that we would alternate years.  So, for the first time ever, colored light adorned my tree.  It was a tough pill to swallow.  Good thing I love that man.

While her daddy strung the tacky colored lights, Clara and I had some hot chocolate.  It was her first taste of it, and seeing as how she loves chocolate, I thought it would be a big hit.  She took a few sips, handed it back to me and said, "milk!"  *sigh*  She will learn.  With time....

 Clara got to hang the first ornament on our tree...

Her hands are blurry here, because she was clapping for herself...

After the tree was (mostly) decorated, we moved on to nativities....

And hung some stockings by the chimney with care.

Now, of course, the next day Clara did this and we had to start all over again.  But hey! 'Tis the season....

Breakfast with Santa

Eh, so much for two giant posts.... too many photos for all at one time.  I'll break it up a bit.

We kicked off the Christmas season the first weekend after Thanksgiving by going to breakfast with Santa.  Clara seemed not so sure at first, but she did warm up to him as the morning went on.  But surprisingly, the one that she was really enamored with was the "character" style Rudolph.  I thought kids were supposed to be terrified of those creatures!  Not Clara.  She followed him alllllll around the dining room giggling.

Attempt #1 at Santa photos: not screaming or mad, but not super thrilled either!

 But Rudolph was a hit!

"Come back here!!"

We went for a ride on the horse and carriage

And then tried Santa again.  A little better!

Showing off her pretty Christmas dress...

Since this was right at the beginning of the "Christmas season," I'm not sure Clara really knew who Santa was yet.  By the end of December she was walking around saying, "HO HO HO, MERRRRRY CHRISTMAS!" and pointing out every Santa she saw.  So, I wonder if she might have enjoyed it even more if it had been a little later.  Guess we'll find out what next year brings!

I have always loved the magic of Santa, the power of belief, and the hope in something so good and kind.  It was a great joy for me to share with Clara one of my favorite parts of Christmas!  I love you, Santa!

Christmas Card 2012

Whoa!  What happened to December?!  I can't believe how the holidays make the month fly so quickly.  I hardly got my cards sent out and presents wrapped, much less the blog updated.  So, I'm hoping that in the next week or so I can do two mega-posts that detail all our fun before and during Christmas.  In the meantime, here's our Christmas card, Christmas letter, and a few fun outtakes for those of you who maybe didn't get a hard copy.

Dear Family and Friends,

This year has been filled with Hope.  We have settled into much more of a “normal” life with Clara and her health, and it has been a poignant reminder that, by the grace of God, the things we had hoped for have become our reality.  She remains a symbol of hope for us, and through her we have learned that even during difficult, scary, challenging and dark times, God has a future planned.  We have pursued that hope, prayed for that hope, and now we are living it.  This gives us courage to continue hoping for more wonderful things ahead, and to believe that they will also be fulfilled.  We are able to appreciate this season of life so much more richly than we might have otherwise, having faced the possibility that it might not be a reality.  We know that God’s hope is bigger than any of the worries of this world. 

This year has been filled with Peace.  It has felt like the calm after the storm in many ways and we have enjoyed the (relative) quiet and stillness of a simpler life.  We continue to pray for peace for our country, our world, and the hearts of many who are broken and hurting. 

This year has been filled with Love.  We are so richly blessed to experience the love of God, the love of family and the love of friends.  We are thankful for the love that we share for each other and this awesome wild intense love for Clara – such a tiny person who elicits such powerful feelings from us.  I heard someone once describe parenthood as “an expansion of your capacity to love that happens so quickly that it’s painful.”  And we feel it; often we feel as if we’re about to burst from the love welling up inside of us for our little girl.  We treasure these moments with our loved ones, knowing that we should not take a single one for granted because we are not promised another day.

This year has been filled with Joy.  There are so many sources of our joy: our beautiful home, our family and friends who make us laugh and share our burdens, a new job for Robert that brings him contentment and affirmation, a church family to whom we have grown closer these past twelve months, the opportunity for Chrissy to stay home with Clara and savor these fleeting moments of her childhood, as well as the wonderfully satisfying and perfectly part-time work at Salem College where she continues to adjunct in the education department, a beautiful and sweet new niece – Audrey Rebecca Davis, some wonderful memories made at the beach, in the mountains, and on the farm, and too many other blessings to count.  God has given us happy hearts and we are striving to savor and express that joy each day.

Our prayer is that your family is also blessed with Hope, Peace, Love and Joy this season and in the year ahead.  We send our biggest wishes for a very merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

With love,

Robert, Chrissy, Clara (and Rufus) Hardy

December 21, 2012

Clara and her Nativity

One of the great joys of the Christmas season this year has been being able to watch it through Clara's eyes. She has really embraced the joy of the season and is so excited about Baby Jesus, the story of His birth, and celebrating his birthday.  She talks about him almost all day long and I am surprised at how much she really seems to understand to be not even two yet.  Here is a video of her playing with her nativity this morning and answering some questions about the Christmas story.  It's a long video, but worth watching, I promise!

Happy Birthday, Baby Jesus!

December 15, 2012

The Night Before Christmas

In the week and half since I last posted we have made another trip to GA, endured stomach bugs for both me and Clara, and managed to address, stamp and stuff all the Christmas cards.  And I might have done a little online shopping too.  But I have not done any of those other posts I promised.  They'll come.  It may be February, but I'll get to it.

We've also been reading... a lot.  It's definitely Clara's favorite activity, closely followed by listening to "mooooosick!!"  It's no secret that Clara has been read to, sung to and talked to a lot in her short little life.  But as her language blossoms, it's amazing to see what all has been trapped inside her sweet little head.  She's in the stage of mimicking everything she hears and has memorized many of her favorite books and songs.  I love to hear her sweet little voice parrot back what she's learning.

So, here's my treat for you.  Clara helping me read, The Night Before Christmas.  Turn your volume up so you can hear her (even if it means my booming voice is a bit overkill).  It's a long video, but I promise it's worth it.

Merry Christmas to all!

December 6, 2012

Never a Dull Moment

I've got some catching up to do on our November bucket list progress, a December bucket list to post, and several fun Christmas photos already.  But I just can't seem to get around to blogging because.... there is never a dull moment around here.  Let me just share a little of my last 48 hours. 

Our once decorated Christmas tree.  Toppled.

And naptimes.  Oh, naptimes.  Clara has always been a pretty decent sleeper, but she has really been testing us lately.  The past couple of days, she has just flat-out refused to lie down.   And I have flat-out refused to let her get up.  The nap standoff is brutal, and today it ended like this.  I'm counting it as a victory (I bet she is too).

Please remind me that her stubborn, strong willed personality is why she is alive today.  Please remind me that I'd rather have a strong-willed child than a weak-willed one.  Please remind me that this is going to happen over and over and over and over again for the next, oh 17 years or so.  

Okay, got it.  Thanks.

December 1, 2012

The Rest of Georgia

Thanksgiving was wonderful, but we spent the rest of the weekend in Georgia and it was pretty great too.  So here are some photos of the rest of our fun.

Robert's second cousin, Sutton reading to both girls.  I cannot tell you how sweet he was with these two little ones and how much it made my heart soar.  When Robert and I first started dating, Sutton wasn't much bigger than these girls are now.  He was a bit of a wild child, but has grown up into one of the sweetest, kindest, most wonderful kids in the world (just like his brother and sister).  Robert and I often ask Marvin and Carla for a guide book on raising children. They've certainly done a good job with theirs.  If this doesn't melt your heart, nothing will.

Clara and Eleanor loved on each other so hard this weekend.  I didn't get enough photos of it, but Eleanor was the sweetest cousin with her hugs and set a wonderful example of sharing and kindness.  I am just so grateful that they will get to grow up with each other.  I never got a girl cousin and this sight is good for my soul.

We also got to hang out with one of Robert's best growing up buddies.  Daniel now has a little one of his own too.  I bet that fifteen years ago, these two never imagined they'd be doing this:

On Saturday, we went to Athens and spent some time pulling for UGA with -- none other than -- some of my dearest Wake Forest buddies.  The irony of that was not lost on me.  But I'm happy for any chance to see these Indiana folks and I'm delighted they now have family in Athens and will be coming South more often.

Here's the whole crew:

Such a great weekend away!  Thanks to all the folks who helped make it special.

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