December 25, 2010

Feliz Navidad

From our family to yours, we hope you have a Christmas to remember!

December 24, 2010

All is Calm...

As we quiet down into this Christmas Eve, I just wanted to come share a few thoughts about my two favorite Christmas songs.  I hope you'll tell me your favorite song and why it is special to you.

Silent Night - A long time favorite, this song has new meaning to me now because of my experience last Christmas Eve.  Eleanor was only a week old and decidedly nocturnal.  In those nights leading up to Christmas, it seemed the only way I could calm her was to walk around our beautiful tree, showing her the lights and softly singing Silent Night.  It was a lullaby for my newborn babe.   I held this tiny baby in my arms and in the deep stillness of the night felt a kinship with Mary, the mother of our Savior.  I realized for the first time just how humbling it would be to bring forth your firstborn in a stable.  Last Christmas Eve my sweet daughter was wrapped in blankets in my arms.  Holding her, I thought of the greatest gift God ever gave to man - a tiny baby swaddled, lying in a manger.

The Little Drummer Boy - This is the first song I ever remember learning.  We sang it for a Christmas performance in my preschool and I was so proud to have remembered the lyrics to a song with multiple verses!  Today this song touches me so much that I tear up each time I hear it.  There is sincerity in the lyrics that I feel is often overlooked for the prominence of the percussion (pa ra pum pum pum).  But who has not felt the words inside themselves, "I have no gift to bring that's fit to give a king."  We all know that feeling of humility as we marvel at the perfection of Jesus Christ and wonder what we could ever offer.  And then there comes the realization that all God wants from us is us - doing our best, loving our best, playing our best. 

"I played my drum for Him.  I played my best for Him."  (feel free to write that on my gravestone)

These are some of the thoughts bouncing around my head this Christmas Eve.  I hope your night is peaceful, magical, and full of joy.  When you get a chance, please tell me about your favorite Christmas song.  Merry Christmas all!

December 23, 2010

Christmas Magic on 5th Ave.

Wow!  Words fail to describe how cool it was to walk down 5th Avenue and gawk at all the Christmas windows.  Simply magical - a perfect NYC Christmas memory.  Here are a few favorite shots.
I am loving the glitzy iguana.  Did you know I used to have a pet iguana?  Her name was Yoshi.  She looked just like this, minus the silver and bling.
Joe is shocked by the diamond encrusted octopus and the giant hornet he lives with.
Rockefeller Center the night before they lit the tree.  See how huge it is in the background?
A festive Lego employee and --HOLY COW-- get a load of that dragon made of Legos!  I'm pretty sure this is the vision that danced in my brother's head the night before Christmas.
Dear Santa: can you please bring me a chandelier that is made of books, just like the one in Anthropologie?  Thank you, thank you - I've always believed, you know.

December 22, 2010

Christmas Blogging

Attention people, Christmas is three days away!  This year it really caught me off guard.  I was so focused on Eleanor's big day that I had a hard time feeling very Christmas-y.  If you find yourself in a similar position might I suggest the following treatment:

1. Put on cheery Christmas music (Pandora has great stations) and make yourself a cup of amazing cocoa.

2. Wrap some presents - or even empty boxes.  It will give you something to do with your hands while you do the 3rd step.

3.  Watch this.  It is amazingly inspirational, and I was filled with Christmas spirit right away!  If you've got an hour or so, watch the whole devotional right here.  You won't be sorry.

And for more Christmas cheer, you can check back here - I'll be making up for lost time with a little Christmas blogging all week.

December 17, 2010

Eleanor turns 1

I will remember this moment for the rest of my life.  The moment you were ours, the moment I became your mother.  We were in awe of you then - and we still are today.

Dear Eleanor,

How did the time go so quickly?  OK, well, to be honest it was torturously slow in the beginning, but the last few months have really flown.  Remember the very beginning?  You were so new.  I was painfully unsure of myself.

Something shifted inside me when you were born and it took months for the dust to settle and for us to feel at home in our new skins.  Now I just can't imagine life without you.  Your dad and I love you to the moon and back again.  Our old selves would make fun of us now - the way we gush over you.  You make us laugh every day and we are constantly amazed at the things you learn.

You walk, you feed yourself, you have 6 teeth, you laugh and squeal and do sneaky things when you think I'm not looking.  You climb,  you stroke my hair, you "read" your books and love your teddy bears.  You smile at strangers and your eyes sparkle when your eyebrows raise in the purest display of playfulness.  You are so much personality in a still little body.  But I remember when you were just this small.
Images above by Kelli Nicole

You will continue to grow at a rate that astounds and I will always be here.  I love you for a million reasons, my girl.  And on your first birthday I just wanted to let you know.  Happy Birthday, pumpkin.

All my love to you.

December 16, 2010

Another thing I'm thankful for....

I am really thankful that the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade is televised.  Because it is terrible to experience in person.

Warning: If you are the kind of person who needs to put a positive spin on everything, you should stop reading now, because I'm about to put a negative spin on everything related to this parade.

Let's compare the experience of seeing the parade in person with with watching it on TV.
When you watch the parade on TV, you turn it on just before it starts and cozy up in your warm home to enjoy the show.

When you attend the parade in person, you arrive at least 1.5 hours before the start, and realize that you are still 7 people from the front and doomed to wait it out in the cold for a view that is less than desirable.

Watching the parade on TV, you see the millions of people gathered and think, "Wow, that's cool that so many people crowd the streets to partake of Thanksgiving festivities together."

In person, it's not so cool.  "Who are all these people?  Where do they all come from?  Why are total strangers touching me?"

If one of your contacts dries up and falls out of your eye 20 minutes before the parade starts, it's no problem at home.  Just excuse yourself to the bathroom and pop in a new one.

If this happens to you while waiting for the parade in person - you have no options.  Just cover up the blurry eye with your ear muff and pretend to be a pirate.  Don't forget to complain about how it just had to happen to your dominant eye and how are you supposed to take pictures now?

When you watch the parade on TV, you get to hear all the bands perform, watch the color guards twirl their flags, and dance along as the musical celebrities do their thing.

In person, every group walks (practically runs) by you in their hurry to get to the performance area, where all the TV cameras are recording it for the folks at home.  No musical numbers, no cheerleaders performing stunts, no dancing on the floats.  Just waving and power walking.
It is kind of awe-inspiring when you see how big the balloons really are in person.  Notice the bottom half of Snoopy compared to the top half of Joe and Ellie.  Also notice the really excited woman standing just left of Joe.
Now that you are freezing cold, half blind, and frustrated as anything that you can't get the artistic photos you want, you finally realize the only real reason to see the parade in person.  To take commemorative photos of the people you love with the floats in the background.  You know, a little something for posterity's sake.
This is Joe, catching the world's biggest football.  Ellie's defense just didn't cut it.
This is the one we show Ellie years from now to say, "Look, you were there!"
And we pretend it was exciting.
This is my favorite photo of the whole day.
Classic Mickey, Classic Joe-having-a-good-time-face, Classic memory - we were there.

When you tire of the parade at home, simply turn off the TV and go about your day.

When you tire of the parade in real life (which happens faster because you're cold, crowded, frustrated, and exhausted) try to escape early only to find yourself completely surrounded by people.  No way to move forward or backward, totally boxed in.  Notice the faces of people uncomfortably close to you who are very upset you are squishing them and ruining their parade experience.  Mention something about needing to throw up, in a desperate effort to encourage people to let you through.  Proceed to have a claustrophobic melt down and stand paralyzed, crying softly.  Then follow your husband numbly as he muscles his way through the crowd while you cry and feel very self conscious about the crying and the make-shift pirate patch across your eye.  Feel so embarrassed and shaken by the experience that even while sitting on the train, the only thing you can think to do is swear your husband to secrecy about your breakdown.

Then go home and write about it for the whole internet to read.

That is why we will never again attend the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in person.  
Eleanor was not as traumatized as some but she is looking forward to snuggling up in front of the boob tube next year.

December 15, 2010

Feeling Thankful

Yes, I know that Christmas is only ten days away and everyone on the internet is SO OVER Thanksgiving, but a little more gratitude never hurt anyone, right?

Besides, I missed out on blogging Thanksgiving stuff when it was in vogue and I'm too compulsive to just skip it entirely.

So here we go.  First of all I am extremely grateful to be living in New York City right now.  I had so so so many apprehensions about moving here, but it's been awesome and we've had a million adventures already in this city.  I'm thankful for New York because where else can you walk to your local park in October and find yourself magically transported to another time, courtesy of the annual Medieval Fair?
Singing monks with high rises in the background?  Only in New York.
I'm thankful that magic still exists and that unicorns are real.
And I'm thankful for little girls dressed like fairies who never doubted for a moment.
I'm grateful for things that inspire, for talents to develop and experiences that make you feel you are flying.
And of course I'm thankful for true love.
(Check out the bottom right of the photo for proof that everything really is cuter when it's miniature)
I'm really thankful for super good friends.
This is Leslie and she is the best!

Want to know a funny story about Leslie?  Right before this picture was taken, she walked up to the knight in shining armor, looked him in the eye and said, "Hi, you're very handsome."  She said it with all the sincerity in the world and I was taken aback by her forwardness (especially since she has a knight of her own).  "Leslie, I can't believe you said that."  She responded, "Well, don't you think that's what he wanted to hear?"  

That is why I love her.  She knows people, knows how to connect with them almost instantly.  She knows how to communicate with them on their own level.  Which is why a few minutes later she won an argument with a 10 year old girl who was complaining that Leslie's husband had stolen her seat by saying, "It's not like your name's on it."  I tell you, you've got to watch out for Leslie because she is rubber and you are glue.  Ha!  
The point of all these words is that I am extremely grateful for good friendships.  And who are my very best friends in the whole world?
These two, of course!

Words cannot express my gratitude for having Joe and Ellie in my life.  They bring such meaning to my life.  They are always up for adventure, always ready to smile, always willing to love me.  This year my heart is filled with gratitude for such an amazing family.

What blessings did you count this Thanksgiving?

December 8, 2010

Thoughts on Forgiveness

 My name is Whitney Hardie and I approve this message.
I do not, however, approve of late night photo shoots using house lamps for lighting.

At church, Joe and I attend the marriage and family relations class during the Sunday School hour.  The lesson this week was about forgiveness (can I get an amen for how vital forgiveness is to marriage?)  I had a thought about forgiveness and marriage.  But with Joe out of town I was flying solo, and thus spent most of the meeting wrangling Ellie in the hallway.

So I never got to share my thought.

Want to know what it is?  OK, here goes:

In my life, the ability to forgive someone has much more to do with my relationship with the Lord than it has to do with the person I'm trying to forgive.  For example, let's say that Joe does something that upsets, offends, or hurts my feelings.  Then he apologizes.  There is a part of me (the natural man) that wants to hold a grudge, wants to withhold forgiveness.

"My feelings were hurt," I might say, "He doesn't really seem sorry enough yet.  I think he needs to suffer a little more." These kinds of thoughts are toxic to any relationship.  When I find myself following this pattern I know that I am the one that needs to change.  I might offer a prayer.  Something along the lines of "Father, I'm hurt and I'm tempted to hurt someone back.  Please fill my heart with love and understanding.  Please help me to be healed and to become more like Thy Son.  Please help me to forgive."  When I take it to the Lord, it's amazing how quickly I can let something go.  The hard part is just remembering to humble myself enough to do so.

If you cannot see a way to forgive someone, pray about it and the Savior will show you how it is possible.  He suffered for everything already, we don't need to make each other suffer more.

And speaking of forgiveness, here is a man familiar with the process.  This story gets  me every time.

I know I don't usually wax religious on this blog, but it's my blog so today I did.  Amen.

November 18, 2010

Dear World's Biggest Cockroach,

I'd be lying if I said I missed you or that I'm sorry you are dead.
So why am I writing?

Well, I thought you should know that even months after your departure from this cruel world, I still think of you.  I shiver as I recall our encounter.  I thought it might bring you some peace to know that though you are gone, you are never forgotten.

You fought bravely - you were clever and fast.  Your will to live was admirable.  But in the end, I was the bigger contender.    You should know that your last few moments of life made and indelible impression on me.  I was too distraught to record the whole fight, but I did make a video of the first few moments I saw you.  

I hope you will consider it my tribute.

Respectfully yours,

November 17, 2010

Ellie at 9 months

Would you like to see some photos of Ellie when she was 9 months old?

OK, but I have to warn you that 9 month Ellie was very different from any younger version of Ellie.
9 month Ellie was no longer enjoying formal photo shoots - dang it!
9 month Ellie had more energy than all the other months combined.
9 month Ellie loved pop-up books for all the wrong reasons.
9 month Ellie rebelled against all fashion advice and wore fleece polka dot pants with stripey socks and dress shoes.
She also broke cleanliness protocol by sitting on the ground in NYC, but that's not really new.
9 month Ellie was still the cutest, climbing-est, happiest baby around.
And no, she doesn't actually have clown feet - just a lot of time to grow into her shoes.
9 month old Ellie also grew some longer hair, which means I need to learn how to style it.
She's already got a love for photography and photography gear.  Warms my heart.
I am so blessed to have this sweet girl in my life.  She challenges me every day to be better, more patient, more creative, more positive.  I learn so much as I try to teach her and I know my life is fuller because she is my daughter.  9 month Ellie was pretty great, but so far, 11 month Ellie is the best!