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Friday, December 31, 2010

Processing Christmas

I'm processing Christmas. I'm trying to tuck away little memories to take with me into the future. I'm brainstorming ways to make next Christmas more beautiful, more relaxing, and more fun.
Finally, here is a picture of Stephen with Maggie Lu dressed as a Merry Christmas doll. She's kissable.
D'arcy and I spent December 23rd working on these. They are a Christmas tradition. There are always homemade cinnamon roles on Christmas morning in the Clark household. It's a tradition I want to pass on. Next year, I'll use smaller pans. Next year, I'll pass some out to our neighbors so I won't be eating these until New Years.
D'arcy was pleased that there was leftover dough. She spent a couple of hours rolling it, cutting it, and making fat dough

This photo will help me remember my 2010 children. Maggie wrapped in a blanket with fluffy hair. Sweet D'arcy always dressed to the nines but with her coat hanging off and a hole in her tights. Julian in cowboy boots and corduroys being silly. And Schroeder with a curious look on his face and his beloved belly peeking out.
This was our first Christmas as a family living in the north. I told Stephen that God must have made December cold enough to have beautiful snow but not cold enough to make us miserable. God is easing us into northern winters. Yes, God makes his weather plans with me in mind.
I love that this photo was taken (with the help of my dad) in only about ten minutes. Fast enough that no children had a break down. We were already dressed for Christmas Eve. The snow was already beautiful. All we had to do was go outside, stand in a line, hold hands, and smile. Family portraits can be simple, right?
I dislike being attached to my camera when their is fun to be had so I set my camera on its tripod in the corner to get some glimpses of Christmas Eve morning spent with my side of the family at my parent's house.
Here is Schroeder curiously approaching the camera in his ultra adorable Candy Cane leggings. Julian wore these his second Christmas, too. They'll stay in storage just in case we have a third little boy in a couple of years.
This was my kids first round of opening presents. I was a bit overwhelmed by round three. I'm thankful for generous people who love my kids. I'm thankful for grateful children. I was hoping that my kids would stack their presents in a corner and resolve to only take one out of its package per day, play with it in an orderly fashion, and then locate an appropriate place for it in their room. I'll keep you guessing about whether that actually happened.

This side of the family will be growing this year. My brother is certain to find out very soon which little Ethiopian baby will be his son. My sister is eleven weeks pregnant with twins. I'm keenly aware of what is missing from this photo, though. Last year, we thought that Nathaniel, Kade, and Roanin would be sharing this moment with us, and, sadly, they are not.

I love our new stockings. They are actually ladies stockings bought from etsy. We ironed the kids initials onto them. I've never taken so much joy in purchasing just the right gifts for my kids. That big square lump in Schroeder's stocking is playdough which he immediately recognized. The squishy lump at the bottom of Julian's was a t-shirt with Darth Vedar on it. D'arcy's is stretched in the middle by two Ramona books. Underneath those was her very own "lipstick". Maggie is happily sucking the pacifiers she found in hers.
I'm excited for next year when these stockings will be hung in our new house beside a fresh Christmas tree.
Christmas Day was spent with these beautiful people. D'arcy played Silent Night for us on the piano. I can't say I got to enjoy it because I was too focused on getting this picture. We needed to get a family photo, though. This is the first with Katie in it and she's been around for almost two years.
Christmas is about balance. Preparing and relaxing. Celebrating Jesus and enjoying gifts and family. Giving lavishly and celebrating simply. It's a fun challenge to embrace this balance.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

2010 in Review

2010 has been eventful, to say the least. Let me give you the run down. We moved from Texas to Indiana. Stephen changed jobs. We welcomed our fourth child, a daughter. Stephen delivered said child because my labor lasted about 45 minutes. We grieved the loss of my three nephews who were born premature. We rented our house in Texas. Stephen and I spent three weeks apart (the longest in our marriage).
Oh, wait, this is a blog about my business? Right.
Well, Willow Grove Photography has had an eventful year as well. I had 46 photos sessions this year! Holy Moly. Last year, I only had 27. I'm overwhelmed, not by the photos or the editing, but by the blessing that this business is.
Looking forward for 2011! I already have five weddings booked. Plus, I have a fabulous new camera that I'm going to put to great use. But before we move into the new year, I wanted to look back at my favorite shots of 2010. These are the photos that I like looking at the most. I love color, contrast, sunlight, movement, and a sense of life in photos. If you came into my house, these are the photos you will see decorating my walls. I've picked ten client photos and ten family photos to show you. Enjoy!

Friday, December 17, 2010

2010 Slideshow

Here are my favorite 100 photos of my family from 2010. A couple of thoughts before the slideshow runs. First, I'm so proud of myself for following some sort of system with photos. I dump them into an editing folder and flag my favorites. I usually edit them right away to put up on the blog. This week, all I had to do was go through my editing folders, grab all my favorites, and upload them to zenfolio. Zenfolio is fantastic because I can always download them back onto my computer with just a quick button click. Now when someone asks me what I would grab in the event of a house fire, I no longer need to say my computer. Let the computer burn!
Secondly, I noticed a couple of holes in my album. For example, there is not one picture of Stephen with Maggie Lu. Maggie, you do have a Daddy. Also, we don't have any photos of friends or extended family (even the fam we've been living with for the past six months). Hopefully, I'll correct that this holiday season. Amazingly, I'm not pregnant this Christmas and might have some energy to take some pictures.
Lastly, the song on the slideshow comes from another "For the Kids" CD. The last time I remember listening to this CD was the spring my parents came to Texas after Julian was born. Yep, that was almost four years ago. Then it disappeared. I searched for it in the house and the car to no avail. This Christmas, some of my Sufjan Christmas CDs were missing. I decided to look behind this drawer in the front dash of my car. Maybe they slid back there, I thought. I did my best to stick my arm behind the back of the drawer and pulled this CD out. It's been sitting back there for four years. Instead of being annoyed, I was hopeful. Maybe all of the things I've lost in the last four years have really just been eaten by my van's front dash, Stephen's set of keys, my ipod, my second glove.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Snow: God's gift to Northerners.

I'm no longer depriving my children of snow. After about half an hour Schroeder fell down, started crying, and wouldn't get back up. He was done. Julian came in saying he was never going to play in it again because it made him wet, but was back outside three hours later. D'arcy was the only one wholeheartedly committed to enjoying the snow for all it is, wet, cold, and beautiful.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Ants on a log

Enjoying an older child is different than enjoying a baby or toddler. I don't marvel at every new word D'arcy learns or yearn to kiss her little chubby cheeks. Instead, I'm enjoying her more and more the way I enjoy a friend. I like to talk to her and enjoy spending time with her. I'm appreciating her not for her cute baby talk, but for the sweet, thoughtful person that she is.
On Sunday, our family ventured to Target and she asked to get her friend, Olivia, a card. I found the 99 cent section and helped her pick out a card that said "Happy Friend's Day". She came home and spent time putting a nice note inside the card and gave it to Olivia on the bus Monday morning.
Olivia isn't the only one receiving notes. I got one on my pillow the other day that said, "Since the day I was born, I have loved you." Stephen got one that read, "Daddy I love you because you make me laugh."
She brings some notes in envelopes to me periodically and asks me to mail them. I'm usually stampless and so those may not find there way to their intended audience.
D'arcy loves celery. I figured that out this weekend when we went to a wedding shower and she put 10 sticks on her plate. Anyway, tonight, Grammy suggested they make Ants on a log with some leftover celery from Thanksgiving. Unfortuately, we didn't have any ants (raisins). Thankfully, we did have some Trix cereal that D'arcy thought would be a great replacement. She's going to be a chef someday.
Daddy and Poppy were both working this evening and weren't able to eat dinner with us. This is what my thoughtful first born did so they could be included in the fun. I'm glad to be her mommy.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Bryan Family

Met up with the Bryan Family on a cold black Friday. While everyone else was inside getting great deals, we were outside trying to get some great Family photos.
This is my favorite. Who says everyone has to look at the camera and smile? Not me.

Wish Miss Noel wasn't out of the frame, but I love all the boys and smiles.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Faith Comes Softly: Signing Our Way Through the Old Testament

I think it's important that my children know the Story of God. I want them to know how God has interacted with humanity from the beginning. Veggietales and Sunday School have helped them learn portions of the story; Daniel in the lion's den, David and Goliath, Jonah and the Whale, etc. These stories are smaller portions of a bigger story, the story of Isreal. Israel was the people group that God choose to make Himself famous. God was faithful, Israel... not so much. I wanted my kids to understand how these smaller stories wove into the history of Israel.
Shortly after Stephen and I were married, my sister and I went to a seminar called Walking thru the Old Testament. In a day, we learned signs that told the story of the Old Testament. I kept my little workbook for the day when I could share these signs with my children. I changed them up a bit, and even created a curriculum pairing the signs with stories from this Children's Bible which I highly recommend especially for children four and older. I used the curriculum at my church in San Antonio, and my friend Joy helped me put the signs on video. FYI, Joy Crampton rocks and I miss seeing her.
So we've been working on these signs since May. My kids are thrilled about what's next in the story...Christ. We've finished just in time to begin Advent.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Book Recommendation: Toot & Puddle

I rescued this book from my mother's christmas garage sale. She was going to sell this little treasure for $.50! Every year, I set a box out full of Christmas books, DVDs, and Advent supplies. The kids can pull out items throughout the month as they prepare to celebrate. All our belongings are still packed away in my in-laws garage so this may not happen this year. Thanks to my mom's garage sale, though, the kids will have one fantastic Christmas book to look at, Toot & Puddle's I'll be home for Christmas.
Toot & Puddle are a sweet little pair of pigs that live in some hippie dippie place called Woodcock Pocket. Their home is quaint and cozy and full of love. I love their character and relationship, but what I absolutely LOVE about this book is the pictures. I love them because they are LOVELY. Holly Hobbie, the auther and illustrator, is also an artist. If her paintings look anything like her picture books, I would totally hang them on my walls.
Is it possible to love the books you read to your kids? It is.