Saturday, December 28, 2013

Unwrapped

Christmas morning is infinity times better with kids.
The smallest wrapped gift releases explosive grins and giggles.
Their little hearts are just wired to be grateful and excited at the simple idea of a present.
And so the happiness of our fifth Christmas as parents, and our first Christmas as five, began with little feet running down the stairs.
Each one of those "AH!" faces lit up from stocking treats to wrapped toys.
We got the shocked stares, the mouth hung open in disbelief, the laughs, the uncontrollable giggled excitement.
There was the classic needing to get each thing out of the packaging and use for a quick picture pose right away.
There was the "How did you know I wanted this?!?" shrieks.
There was the fainting with the "too good to be true" feeling.
And their gasps, awws, oohs, and ahhs, of sheer delight just make this momma's heart want to give and give some more.
And that gets me thinking even more about our Heavenly Father, the giver of every good and perfect gift.
With all the questions my heart carries sometimes and won't get answered this side of Heaven, what I do know is this...
He delights in us, just like I do in these precious boys. How His heart must smile when He sees our joy in Him and the blessings in disguise He has for us to unwrap with each day.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

A Merry Little Christmas

We are blessed beyond measure...
With Heaven and nature we sing...
Our souls magnify the Lord...
For He has done great things for us! Emmanuel!
Merry Christmas from The Clark Family 2013!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Christmas on the Hill

With the incredible weather providing hypothermia free outdoor time, we are taking full advantage.
And since DC is all about walking, the boys are pretty happy with not worrying about frostbite as we take in our first Christmas on The Hill.
But not near as excited as seeing the word "police" on barricades. They assume this brave metal fence has seen action in its line of duty as one of DC's finest and had to pose for a picture...boys :)
We finally pulled them away from the police and headed towards the National Christmas tree where I thought we'd get a chorus of "ooohhs and ahhhhhs".
While Harrison inspected every side and angle he reported, "I just thought the Capitol Christmas tree would be much bigger, like bigger than the Capitol!"
But even his disappointment didn't seem to dim his awe for the towering lit up tree. Jefferson, my lover of all things Christmas and lights, wanted to take it home with us.
Wilson was the ever steady and stoic one, never breaking his stare. That lasted all of five minutes before he let every other tree visitor know his dinner time had arrived and he was ready to go.
Walking back around the Capitol felt a little surreal. There were no other people around anywhere and it was just the 5 of us crossing the main square out front.
Matt and I just soaked the moment in realizing this Christmas we were home, with our boys, back in Virginia.
What a blessing it has been to celebrate Jesus' birthday from our Nation's capital and finally be home for Christmas.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Christmas So Far

(Warning: Long picture loaded post :) 
I have a huge "seize the day" complex. For better or worse, I hold onto every single minute filling it up with memories and moments.
That's why I'm camera obsessed, blogger addicted, and ridiculously detailed about documenting the days with my three little men.
Because one day these guy will be grown, but I won't wonder where the time went. I'll know exactly what we did with the days of their becoming men.
And so the days of December that are anticipated and then fly by, we are filling up with sometimes memorable, sometimes comical, and yes sometimes "what-did-we-do-that-for" things.
I've seen Christmas buried under stress, hurrying and rushing, buying and wrapping, and I'm not joining that party. Our Christmas is slow, purposeful, and centered around the rich memories that we'll have from this favorite time of year.
So far this December we went to Matt's office to "help" decorate. In reality I decorated while the boys "explored" daddy's desk drawers and raided his snacks.
Then we've been tacky light touring, which is getting mixed reviews from the boys. Unless we can get out and walk through the blinking lights, Harrison doesn't see the point to ride around stuck behind a seat belt.
Jeff on the other hand shrieks, "Kissmas ites!!!" with every home we drive by whether it has 200,000 or 20 bulbs on display. He would be more than content to see every light strung in the whole state.
But Christmas baking is a mutual agreement. If it has sugar, it's good. The boys ate their weight in cookie dough...and icing...and sprinkles. We won't have the problem of leftover baked goods sitting around.
And then I scored a big flop for the season. I read about an ice palace that was "phenomenal". Guess I should have read more.
I assumed "ice" meant ice - the hard, cold stuff. Nope, it was a long, very slow moving line of fussy kids and grouchy parents winding through a plastic, made to look like ice igloo. Fake glitter snow fell at one point, so I scored points with the boys there.
Santa was at the end. I had no idea Santa was at the end. My boys know the real history of Santa and I could just see them setting a dozen children in hysterics when they started questioning the "lap sitting" on a part-time costumed employee.
 So the "ice palace" won't be a repeat, but made for some fun stories. We've also been reading through the account of Jesus' birth for advent, from prophesy to his temple dedication. Our house is full of Christmas music, wrapping paper, secret present stashes, and giddy boys.
The season is fleeting, but the excitement isn't. These boys are only young once and it's worth the fight to slow it down and savor the gift of life God gave us through His son with the three He blessed me with.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Cinnamon Is Too Spicy!

It's been a little quiet around here, that would be the blog, not the house. No, the house is not quiet at all.
The house has been going full throttle even with the fevers, ear infections, coughs, sleepless nights, and lost voices. Yep, I love my voice.
Even with my voice it's a challenge to reign in my three wildmen. Go ahead and let your imagination run with the thought of these three boys on the loose with no mom voice to provide guidance.
It was an adventure. So blogging took a backseat to my voiceless parenting and let me tell you, the "boy whisperer" will not be a parenting trend anytime soon.
But all that activity had to go somewhere and Christmas is still coming voice or not, so we dove into cinnamon ornament making; one of my favorite traditions growing up.
They did a great job following instructions I whispered to them, except they missed my soundless warning about the dough not being the kind you sneak a taste of during the rolling and cutting.
But "live and learn" is the daily mantra around here. So our fragrant "too spicy" ornaments remain safely hanging on the tree and left alone by bottomless pit little men :) 

Cinnamon Ornaments
1 1/2 Cup cinnamon
1 Cup applesauce
Mix together until soft, non sticky dough forms. Roll out on cinnmamon sprinkled board and cut with desired shapes. Punch hole with skewer and bake at 200 for 2 hours. Turn off oven and leave in to harden. I left mine in overnight. String with twine and hang :) 

Friday, December 13, 2013

Baby It's Cold Outside

I've come to the realization that the cold is here now. No more 70 degree days on the ten day forecast. 
And even though I am in no way a fan of the cold, if it has to be freezing, at least it should snow, or ice, or something like that. A blizzard would be acceptable.
It provides a great deterrent from the shivering to root for insane accumulation and get excited about things like snow men, snowball fights, and snow cream.
And with snow and ice on the ground, it's the only time after October you'll hear me say, "let's go play outside."
 
 It's the only time I justify the 45 minutes it takes to bundle three boys up in snow gear before going outdoors for only 20 minutes.
And even with all the layers and zippers, and insulation, and liners, Jefferson was just not into it at all.
The poor guy probably thought I was crazy taking him from his warm blanket cocoon and out into the artic.
He took one turn down the icy hill before hiking back indoors where sane people stay until Spring.
Thrill junkie, Harrison, got crazy bailing and crashing into icy drifts before he decided to go inside to get feeling back in his fingers.
I know in a few Winter's time I'll have three thrill seeking boys finding ways to speed up the sleds along with my heart rate. So it's ok that 2 out of 3 boys would rather skip the snow and go straight for the hot chocolate. I'll join right in with that kind of winter fun too.