January

On New Year's Eve, Clara woke up with a 103.5 fever – talk about FREAKING ME OUT!  It was the first time she had a fever/gotten sick since her hospital visit, so you can imagine how I felt!  After taking a few deep breaths and hugging my baby girl tight, I settled down and called the doctor, and then called Brian.  We took her in and she had a double ear infection.  We picked up some antibiotics and canceled our New Year's party plans, and got ready for a family night :)  I still wanted it to be a party, so we took out the new year's hats, champagne, made calzones and rented West Wing for a movie marathon. 

Then we rang in 2009!!

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We both had New Year's Day off and Clara was feeling MUCH better, so we decided to take advantage of the beautiful weather and go to the Dallas Zoo! 

We looooooooved the Dallas Zoo!  We got to see lots of different animals (whoa!  had no idea that is what a real anteater looks like! :O) and enjoyed the day together so much.  Clara was even noticing the animals and pointing and laughing!

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See the big gorilla behind us??

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We got to check his brother out up close!  Clara kept making her piggy face and noise (she always does this to animals…cats, squirrels, birds, dogs, and apparently gorillas…).

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Here Clara is sitting the skull of an elephant – man, they're big!

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Clara wants to show you the giant aquarium that was pretty cool…

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Just call Brian "The Birdman"…

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They LOVED him!  Even with the seed stick they would barely come to me, but he had 3 or 4 of them on him at a time!  Clara alternated between being intrigued by them and being totally freaked out by them.  I kinda related to that.

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It's easy to miss the second bird in this pic- look again…

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Here is to a great 2009!

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The antibiotics did a number on Clara's system and let's just say I got tired of changing, scrubbing and washing her clothes and everything else she was near…  so here is an environmental tribute to "Reuse" with plastic grocery sacks :)

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First Saturdays at the Nasher Sculpture Center are free and they have lots of activities for kids (plus you don't feel bad taking a kid into a quiet art gallery…because there are lots of other not-quiet kids running around ;)).  It was so cool!!  We definitely want to go back.  A  lot of the activities were too old for Clara but it was still neat to take her to her first museum!  We just want that to be a part of the fabric of her life for as long as she can remember :) 

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She REALLY wanted to play in the fountain!

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I'm talking REALLY wanted to play in the fountain!

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walking through a sculpture…

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We went to the wedding of a friend and co-worker, Michael to his beautiful bride Jessica.  It was a beautiful, touching, super-fun wedding. 

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One of the best parts, though, was that our dear friends the O'Reilly's were in from Nevada!  We got to spend some special time with them while they were in town, and Brian especially loved the complete "thoseawake" breakfast!!  (B has breakfast every Tuesday morning at 6 a.m. with a group of guys and they discuss what they're reading and thinking)

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Clarabean…14 months

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IBC Children's Staff Holiday party at Gary's house – lots of fun!

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About a week after Clara started taking the antibiotic amoxycillin she had an allergic reaction to it.  (it is normal for there to be that kind of delay) But because it HAD been awhile and I wasn't thinking about the medicine I flipped out when I went to wake her up and her poor little body was covered in red dots!  I thought she might have the measles or some other crazy kind of disease…  I took her in to the doctor and she realized it was an allergic reaction.  The dots were getting bigger and becoming hives that covered her whole body.  She was obviously pretty miserable for a few days as it worked it's way out of her system but it didn't itch, which I was SO grateful for. 

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They call themselves The Fail Train….maybe one day appearing at a living room near you.

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Barker bought Guitar Hero for the Park's Wii…and we've been rockin' ever since!!  One weekend they let us borrow it and I must say…we can play a mean "Float On". 😉

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Eric and Kristi came over and rocked out, too!

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vonTrapp family singers have nothing on us…

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Happy 29th Birthday Brian!!!

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Aunt Krissy and Uncle E watched Clara while I took Brian out for this birthday.  We went to Willhoite's – a very cool, laid back bar on Main Street, for dinner, and then we went and played a few games at Main Event. 

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and back to the house for Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cheesecake (he thought it couldn't be done…but I did it!  the PERFECT cake for Brian!), wine and gifts, including an American Flag flown on that day at the Capitol in DC (that we will get in the mail a few weeks later), Sim City 4, new Converse shoes, Wendell Berry audio interviews, and Chessmaster. plus, lots of hugs and kisses from Clara :)  

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The next morning Brian left for Vegas for a work convention, and that weekend I and the rest of our homegroup flew up to join him.  I'll make a separate post for that.  Viva Las Vegas! 

The next week was HUGE…the inauguration of President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden.

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Brian's take:

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So there was the celebration on election night, and even then Obama emphasized that the hard part was only just beginning.

"This victory alone is not the change we seek. It is only the
chance for us to make that change."

And in keeping with the trend of the previous year, two years, four, eight (depending on your perspective), each day's news only reminded us that things were continuing to get worse. With every day that passed between the election and the inauguration, the new President's job was going to be that much more difficult.

But, on the morning of the inauguration, the seriousness of our situation, the real possibility that our country has been so dramatically derailed that recovery could be a generation away; instead of desaturating this moment in history to seem like nothing more than fluffy, cynical theater, the crisis did just the opposite and focused the gravity of the world on that podium and on those words.

At work, we rolled in a TV with rabbit ears and watched the inauguration in the conference room, together. The room was 6-3 for McCain, but you wouldn't have known it. Eyes welled, heads nodded. It's obvious enough that this peaceful transition of power every four or eight years is one of the things that affirms the Constitution's genius and makes us blessed to be citizens in this place and time. But, a wider view takes it from being just an American accomplishment of shifting party control in the midst of turmoil without the need for tanks or assault rifles, to a shining affirmation of Spirit and the complex reality that hope is more powerful than fear.

As divided as this country is, and as serious as our threats are, it matters that the single most powerful individual in our government can inspire people through hope and imagination. An antelope, a rabbit, even a field mouse can be motivated to action by fear. But it takes something different to swell that distinctively (non)human thing within us that is capable of being inspired to dream colorful dreams. Footnote: take a look at the last paragraph of Thoreau's "Higher Laws".

It's worth noting that the final line of the U.S. Declaration of Independence is, "And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the
protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our
Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor." and not, "We really believe in this and are gonna die for it, too."

Given our situation and what will be needed to correct it, the right man for the job at this place, in this time, won in November. Regardless of whether or not someone agreed with President Bush's objectives themselves, what has to be admitted is that he failed to successfully execute them. Again, I'm not saying it must be admitted that the objectives were wrong, but the agenda has failed, and it comes down to poor leadership because of President Bush's inability to inspire people who do not already agree with him. This is a weakness that Barack Obama does not struggle with, his ability to connect with people is over-the-top obvious. And hero that he is, more courageous a man than 99.9% of us will ever be, I think Sen. McCain's difficulty in staying focused and on message would have led to an even shorter honeymoon with the American public and even more gridlock with Congress.

On top of it all, it was a great day to be a Democrat, because in Texas, our guy or gal just does not win that often (but that's changing, especially in the
metroplex thanks to ridiculously committed community organizers with plenty of responsibilities like our friend, Kathleen, who will be a legislator one day).

As the Senator officially became the President, "Change We Can Believe In" went from being a slogan to a concrete opportunity, and I walked out of that conference room with an extra spring in my step.

A look back at our Barack-related posts:

  • July '06 – One in the Bank For My Goal of Shaking a Prez' Hand
  • Oct '06 – "Amen" to the Cover of Time
  • Jan '08 – Obama Wins Iowa
  • Feb '08 – Obama Comes to Dallas

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The other big thing that happened that day is….I dyed my hair!!  ok, probably not NEAR as big of a deal, but monumental for me nonetheless, AND all about change as well!

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Clara had a great month, too!  Every morning she has a banana (ok ok, I normally let her have 2, but only if she has had a bowl (adult serving) of oatmeal already), and then she starts to play with the peel…so I would always say, "ooo yucky, trash" and take it from her and walk over to the trashcan and throw it away.  Well, one morning we were in the living room and she finished her banana, and (without any prompting from me) she stood up and walked into the kitchen and threw it away.  I wish I could have seen my face!  I was astounded!  It was like, in that moment, she became a HUMAN BEING to me!  I know it sounds silly now, but it was truly staggering.  She had seen me do something, and so she did it, too.  It was pretty convicting – how many times has she seen me pray?  worship?  hug Brian? So I started testing it with other things…handing her a paper towel, a wrapper, and other pieces of trash and said, "trash" and off she went…this could come in handy!  :)  I've tried to train her on "remote" now to get the TV remote and bring it to me but she is NOT catching on to that one ;)  And she does this in whatever room we're in – she finds the trashcan and throws away whatever we've given her.  I think we got too excited about it though, (clapping and saying "yay Clara!") because we've been finding NON-trash items in there…socks, books, anything from our nightstands… uh oh! 

Every Sunday we have a large group worship time for our preschoolers with creative storytelling, high-energy music/worship, puppets, singing and prayer.  Afterwards, we bring in the older nursery classes for a short music/pupet time (they have the story in their rooms).  Well, Clara came for the first time!  This just about made my heart burst!  It was so special and meaningful.  Of course, at this age the main point is that they feel comfortable in that room and are exposed to corporate worship and begin to understand that God made them and how much He loves them and wants to be their friend forever.  We know it will be a few years before they respond back with words and can reason out the teaching, but even at 1 they can respond to God's love and experience Him in a simple way (if you know me at all you know this is something I am very passionate about) (afterall, see: banana peel trash story) and more than anything, this is when laying the foundation to know and love God starts!  So anyway…all to say we don't have high expectations of them doing all of the motions or singing all of the words or even staring at the stage the whole time – they are welcome to wander and dance around, and we trust that they are being immersed in the things of Christ!  and for the first few months most of them do just stand or sit there, too overwhelmed by everything to do much.  But…there Clara Jane was, raising her little arms up and swaying back and forth!  And then she was bouncing, and then she was stomping her feet.  That girl just LOVES to dance.  Every one of her teachers when we pick her up (and she has many different teachers over the course of a week) says, "Wow, that little girl loves to dance.  We put music on and she just starts moving!"    So that has been neat to see that part of her little personality coming out – and in a more general sense, just so neat to watch her personality develop, period.  She is fearless, and full of laughter, and determined.  She will try 100 times to do something before getting frustrated or giving up. 

She loves climbing, especially this month climbing onto the couch and sitting with us.  She began coloring and will sit for a long time just scribbling and trying different colors.  She hasn't quite gotten the hang of coloring ONLY on her coloring pages though ;)  She loves shoes and will bring you pair after pair to put on – both of hers and of ours!  This, I think, she definitely got from Brian.  We always give her "zerberts" (where you blow on her tummy and it makes a funny sound) and she started giving them to us, too!  it is too cute!  She says several words – all of them expressions!  (what does this mean???)  They are "WHOA!!" (and she says it with a lot of "expression"), "Uh-oh", "Boo!!" (when she is playing peak-a-boo or hiding behind a curtain), and (of course and unfortunately) "NO".  She also says "ba" for her beloved bananas. 

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February, here we come!