Thursday, December 27, 2012



If I could sum up the holiday season for 2012, it would have to be magical, fun, and exhausting family time all rolled into one.  There was a memorable trip to Great Wolf Lodge right before Christmas Eve…(more coming on that later).  Then we came home, rallied, and celebrated Christmas with a bang.

There was a sweet bitty baby under the tree.


She is already being loved on as we speak.  She made the trip to Grandma’s house in her car seat after Christmas.


There were enough Legos under the tree to sink a ship.  Literally.


Bradley’s loot screamed “Big Boy” to me.  Lacrosse sticks, big roller skates, and millions and millions of Legos.  We had to set up a Lego station in the basement.  Ninjago, Lego City, Super Hero Legos, we got ‘em all this year!


This was right after opening his stocking.  Yep, there were even 100s of pieces in his stocking.  My OCD brain is trying to figure out how to organize these teeny tiny pieces.  I am hoping for a Lego miracle to come and figure it out for me!  Right now they are in ziploc bags with their directions, but I know that won’t last.  Any ideas???

Christmas breakfast was delicious.  I made a “lighter” egg strata with asparagus and turkey bacon.  Then I made a Christmas tree shaped cinnamon bun breakfast for the kiddos.  Both equally yummy and perfect for our crowd!




There was a yummy, munchy spread out on Christmas day.  We went the easy route this year.  No more big meals for us.  The kids just want to play with their toys and we just want to relax.  We ate apps throughout the day and then Chris made a pork roast in the crock pot for dinner.  I like making new traditions that fit out children right now.  There is time for big meals and fancy outfits later. 


Who has time for big meals and fancy outfits when you spend most of Christmas dressed as “Snow Wipe”???


Ellie got a big, big pile of dress up clothes, but this outfit was the favorite.  It stayed on for a good part of Christmas Day.  Well, that and roller skating in her underwear.  Whichever floats your boat, right?


Yes, Grace did spend Christmas with us too.  No, I didn’t get one picture of her with my phone.  I did with my camera though!  She spent most of this past holiday week transitioning from two naps to one nap a day, and has given Chris and I a run for our money.  It is always something right?  I think she went to bed before 6 on Christmas day.

I hope your Christmas was as magical and exhausting as ours.  I am definitely ready for a long winter’s nap and an organization team to take over my house and find places for all of this new stuff!! 

Love, Clare

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

A Birthday Wish


I have sat down to write this post so so many times since Friday.  The events in CT hit so close to home for so much of the country, and especially at our house.  See we have this little boy, who just turned six.  He is the light of my life.  My sweet little thing.  My reader.  My Lego builder.  My helper with his little sisters. 

His birth year is the same as all of  those sweet names on the list of little angels.  2006. 

My life changed that year, and I know the same is true for all of the parents of the children in CT.  I just cannot wrap my brain around what happened.  What those families are thinking and feeling.  The black whole that they have fallen into on Friday.  And the fact that they might not see sunshine again for a long, long time.

Instead of writing a post about my sweet little guys sixth birthday, and Christmas festivities, I will write about the magic that is everything six.


Six is fun.  Being six is happiness.  Six is loving school and the bus and your friends and your teacher.  Six is loving school, but still maybe missing life at home with your family at the same time.  Part of a six year old wants to be “grown up” and a “big kid” on the bus, and the other part still cries hard when they fall down and scrap their knee.  They still want Mommy to kiss their boo boo and make it all better.

MY six year old is trapped between the world of being big and the preschool world of being little.  He LOVES all things boy.  Power rangers, Legos, super heroes, and Ninjago.  But, he still sleeps in his Christmas jammies and cuddles up with his beloved Hershey Dog at night.  Bradley still wants to be tucked in, sleeps with his night light on, and his water music playing.  He loves to color and do his sticker books.  He can read and write short sentences.  He writes me letters and post its and cards and stamps and leaves them around the house.  He labels his projects, and puts up little signs to ward off his trespassers (i.e. his little sissies).  My six year old is a drawer.  Bradley can free draw anything, Power Rangers, Jake the Pirate, animals.  He truly has talent.  His pictures and artwork hang around the house and in his room. 

His closest is filled with cowboy boots, collared shirts for church, and angry bird shirts for play time.  He loves to wear his belt and cowboy boots to look like daddy.  But, deep down he would prefer to wear a t-shirt every day of the week.

He finally will play outside or down in the basement without Mommy.  Not for long, but he will do it.  Sometimes.

He will set the table, empty the dishwasher, and put his clothes away from the wash.

Bradley loves crafts, coloring, reading, running, school, family, being at home, swimming, adventures, nature walks, the play ground, pizza, McDonalds, ice cream, ellie and grace, making his sisters laugh, tennis, music, all things holiday inspired, movies (Home Alone is the current favorite), his friends, his little neighborhood, the bus, his school. 

He is a helper.  A lover of his family.  My six year old.


Six is just beginning.  Just like A.A. Milne wrote, who is the author of Winnie the Pooh…

Now I am Six: by A.A. Milne

When I was One,
I had just begun.

When I was Two,
I was nearly new.

When I was Three,
I was hardly me.

When I was Four,
I was not much more.

When I was Five,
I was just alive.

But now I am Six, I’m as clever as clever,
So I think I’ll be six for ever and ever.

Now he is six.  I am thankful he is here.  Alive and well. 

I pray for the families in CT.  We all pray for you.  Your loss, your tears, and your heartache.  May God have mercy.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Hokies and the Holidays


Let’s jump back to that other holiday that we just zipped through, Thanksgiving.  I know I am way behind on everything over here.  I have been totally off of my game.  Bradley’s birthday party was lots of fun, but I made a bunch of flub ups including writing the wrong time on the invites.  What is wrong with me??  I definitely have been in a brain fog and can’t keep things straight lately. 

Thanksgiving was small at our house this year.  My sister’s family and my nephew all came down with colds, so it was just our family of five and my parents on Thanksgiving day.  We watched the parade while adorning our Native American and Leaf Headbands from school.  The parade was a huge hit this year.  It started off right in Ellie’s eyes with the all-star cheerleaders leading the parade.  She was memorized and it made me one proud mama. 

Chris cooked the turkey this year and it was delicious.  Kudos to him and his awesome bird skills!


The table and the spread….


And yes that is Bradley making a sulky face in the background.  He still isn’t very adventurous with food and he was already getting nervous about the plates as they were coming out of the oven.  We had a few successes this year though, he tried the baked apples and corn casserole and loved them both.  I think he adds one or two more foods to his favorite list each year.  Hopefully by the time he is 20 he will actually like Thanksgiving Dinner.  That is also a bottle of milk on the table too.  Grace had to have a seat!

Family Love…


After Thanksgiving we had the famous UVA/VT football game on Saturday.  I actually wanted to write an entire post about going to the game because it was momentous event for me.  I have only been back to Virginia Tech one time since I graduated more than 10 years ago.  I went back a few months after my accident to receive my Master’s Degree.  It was very, very difficult.  The ceremony was on the same street as my accident, so we had to walk by that area, and my old dorm where it all happened. 

It always makes me sad that thinking of Virginia Tech is a mix of emotions.  Yes, I loved it there.  I grew so much as a person and turned into an adult (kind of) at the end of my four years.  But, there is always a black cloud for me when I think of college.  On Facebook I have tons of friends that go back regularly.  They post cheery pictures from the football stadium or tailgating.  They are happy to experience a few hours back in the memories of college and all of its glory.  I actually am envious at times.  I wish I could feel as care free as they do about my college experience.

I have been hesitant to go back for many reasons.  One of the reasons is to get to the stadium one of the main walking paths is right over the road where the accident occurred.  I just haven’t wanted to put myself back there.  After talking it over with Chris I thought that if I went back with my kids I may feel differently.  And I did.  We took Bradley with us to the game and it was actually really, really fun.  Yes, I had to walk past the scene of the accident.  But, I had Bradley holding my hand the whole time.  He doesn’t know anything about it, but he helped me more then he will ever know.  Going back with him, and thinking of all I have been blessed with in my life filled me up.  I kept telling myself that I have a purpose and it was right there with me holding my hand.


I am so glad that I went back and conquered some of the fear and the sadness.  I love me some Hokies and I think Bradley does now too!

Love, Clare

Thursday, December 6, 2012



My little, big boy.  My how You have changed in the past six years.  And how you have changed Me in the past six years.  You changed the me into mommy.  The first born is magical job little one and you have filled the position well. 

We took the kids to Cracker Barrel tonight for dinner.  For some reason “breakfast for dinner” makes them behave better.  I spent part of dinner telling Bradley the story of his birth, a watered down version at least.  I told him how six years ago tonight Chris and I were eating Chinese food and wondering if we were going to have a boy or a girl.  I remember the butterflies, the nerves, and the excitement. 

We walked into the hospital as a combined unit, and came home with a little non-sleeping newborn in a car seat.  We were overwhelmed and so very tired.  I couldn’t see past the next feeding to even think about what my life would be like when he was four, or five, or six.  I know it is wonderfully better than I could have imagined that first week home with a crying newborn that we had to feed via syringe for 10 days while I pumped milk until it came out of my ears. 

Bradley has changed so much since then.  In the obvious ways, but also his personality too.  He was showing us then just how sensitive he was to change.  Birth jarred him and he couldn’t cope.  In the same way that Kindergarten jarred him this year and he cried every morning for the first month.  He is a sensitive, loving, and sweet little boy.


I went searching around for old photos of Bradley and got sucked into our old home videos.  I was memorized by his squeaky little voice, and the chubbiness of his cheeks.  You think that they will always stay like that.  Their little bodies will always have the extra layer of baby fat still stuck in just the right places.  I was shocked when Bradley got out of the shower the other night and I could see all of his muscles in his stomach.  He is tall and thin and turning more and more into a boy and farther and farther away from the little toddler that danced around our house.


I must admit that this year has been just as hard on me as it has been on him.  I miss him terribly.  The afternoons fly by and the weekends seem to go just as quickly.  He is away from me longer than he is with me and that is such a hard concept.  I know this is part of growing up.  The good and the bad of it, but there is a little piece of me that would love to travel back just for a day or an afternoon to spend some time with three year old Bradley.  We would play Thomas the train, read books, and turn on our flashlights in his tent. 


I don’t know that I really understood the magnitude of our journey when you arrived here six years ago tomorrow.  I didn’t understand the power of a mother’s love.  The fierceness with which I would worry, love, and care for you every single day.  The part of my heart that would be filled in a new way because you were mine and I was yours and together we made a family. 

Thank you for choosing me little man.  I love you to the moon and back.

Tomorrow you turn six, but in my mind’s eye, I picture you at one sitting in front of the Christmas tree with so much time spread before us.  Hold on tight, it is going too fast my little man!!  Love, mama

Monday, December 3, 2012

The Adventures


Back to “The Trip”

I must finish this post, because I have so many Christmas things to share!  Other than the amazing views, and cool surroundings, I was also there with a great group of people.  I hadn’t met any of these ladies prior to our trip.  They were Cali’s friend’s from her gym and they were great.  Nice moms from my area, and I felt like I walked away with some new friendships. 

We kicked off our trip with a dinner right on the beach the first night.  AMAZING!  I had curried vegetables and it was to die for!


After working out the first day we hopped around the place checking out everyone’s rooms and villas.  Some people were right on the water and their bedroom doors opened right up to the ocean.  It was breathtaking!


Cali and I went with a group out of the resort to go to the local market and just see the surrounding area.  It was very eye opening.  From the people to the signs hanging up, we were in another world!





There was a lot of “meeting up at the bar” after yoga.  Red stripe in hand, or a pina colada or two.  Such fun, and not a thing in the world to worry about.  It doesn’t get much better then that!



The second day we went for our run/swim and then chartered a boat to take us out on the water.  We got to go to this really cool bar on the ocean called Pelican Bar.  It is built on top of a sandbar and made out of driftwood.  A totally cool and crazy experience.  Once in a lifetime.  Once you get off the boat you get a drink and hop back in the water.  It only is waist deep, clear and beautiful!


getting ready to get on the boat! 

We passed a bunch of dolphins on the way and circled around them swimming for a while.  So cool!


Approaching the Pelican Bar….


Getting Closer…


Some of my favorite images from the bar





Swimming and drinking is always a positive…


Then we hopped back on our boat were taken to a private beach for a picnic swimming and sunshine.  Some of us thought it would fun to jump off the boat and swim to shore at the private beach.  Cali went first!


Yours Truly…I had the captain take my picture…can’t believe I am showing this to the outside world…


Swimming to shore, does it get any more beautiful?




I don’t have a lot of pictures from the last day.  I spent 90% of my time laying out on the beach, drinking, and reading.  Toes in the sand and jumping in for a quick swim now and then. 

I came home so thankful and rejuvenated.  Even looking at the pictures calms me a bit.  I know this was probably a once in a “motherhood” experience to get to leave my children for this long.  I of course loved getting to share it with Cali.  Such a beautiful and special friend inside and out!

I am truly thankful to my husband for making it happen, monetarily first of all, but the ease with which he took over running a house of three small children by himself.  Add to that fact, Bradley was sick and home from school, the babysitter canceled, and my Mom had to pull double duty.  Everyone in my family really, really helped out.  I am one lucky girl.  A huge thank you to Chris and my Mom!!

Merry Christmas to me, and happy birthday, and happy valentines day.  I am pretty much done for the next 12 months!

Good bye Jamaica, until next time…