Wednesday, January 13, 2010

12.25.09: Happy Birthday, Clara Anne!

Our birthday celebration for Clara Anne started out with a birthday breakfast of fresh, homemade cinnamon rolls, which turned out absolutely perfectly and I have no pictures since we were in a rush to get out the door! We had an important appointment at Clara Anne and Chloe's kindergarten, to go and share with them about Christmas! Not until after we arrived did I realize that the kindergarten teachers and kids had ALSO prepared a small program, and we weren't "the whole show." We were glad to take a backseat for a moment and watch the kids perform. Below, all the kids have filed in and are getting ready to do some singing with actions. Some parts were even in English; they had obviously been practicing!
Clara Anne's class also did a small program. She did a good job following along. (Can you find her in the crowd?)
It was a picture-taking free-for-all.
After Clara's class performed, John and I got up and told the Christmas story, using a children's storybook, a wooden nativity set, and a translator. The kids were restless by then and despite them being really noisy, we trust that the message communicated, even a little bit, to the parents and teachers. We then played a game of musical chairs with Christmas music--each class got a turn to play and it was FUN! Everyone got into it and there were lots of laughs and smiles all around. Finally, we ended by singing some Christmas songs as well as passing out cookies to each child. (Christmas tree cut-out sugar cookies--so glad I had lots!)

After all that hubbub, we took Clara Anne to KFC (her choice) for a birthday lunch. Whew! It was early enough that the crowds had not descended there, so we enjoyed a relaxed meal over a bucket of chicken. We returned home to take naps, frost the birthday cake, and prepare for her birthday supper. Clara Anne was pretty excited about her mini-pizza on her special birthday plate!
The table all set for supper; whoops, it looks like Christin is already enjoying her pizza!

I found this adorable plate and mug set in the capital city recently, isn't it fun? Growing up, we had a red plate that we called the "Special Plate." If it was your birthday, or we had a special guest, or we were celebrating an achievement or something like that, we got out the special plate. Now our family has a special plate too! There's a large platter and several other cupcake-shaped serving plates that I bought as well that all match, such fun! Making memories, for sure!
Happy Birthday Clara Anne, Happy Birthday to you!

Five to go. . .
And there they go!

Our sweet, precious Clara Anne Danielle! We love you, five year old girl!

Since that was Christmas night, we got to put the final star ornament on the Jesse tree during devotions. Everyone seems pretty excited about it! We then spent some time looking through Clara Anne's baby book and talking about her life before she opened her birthday gifts. I will confess: I didn't get any gifts wrapped this year except the ones we opened early with Grandpa and Grandma on the webcam. Christmas week was too much of a rush and I was still sick, at that point we were just doing the essentials! Instead, John just brought out gifts one by one from where they were hidden in our bedroom. The girls didn't seem to care a bit and it saved me lots of time and energy! Just to keep things real, here's how I looked after all the celebrating was over:

That's one tired mama, not my prettiest moment, that's for sure! I think it cannot be disputed: mothers make holidays and birthdays and special occasions happen. I'm not saying fathers don't help, but if it were up to dads it might not happen in the same way! But, the important thing is, we are building a family culture of traditions, enjoying one another, celebrating the life that Father has given us, and if it requires a little extra effort (or a lot), that is a joy for me to contribute. I see it as part of my calling as a mother to celebrate these things in a special way. But when life gets back to "normal," that's a great thing too! :) Here's a final look at our birthday girl, wearing a birthday gift--another new dress-up dress from Mommy and Daddy.

Here's a few thoughts about Clara Anne at five. She is full of imagination, always telling stories. She usually names her characters and they get featured again and again in her make-believe. Rosaput and Mary are two favorite names. She can make a story out of anything! (Bits of play-dough, her two chopsticks, tiny pieces of paper, stickers, etc--all become people and have interesting, dramatic lives that she narrarates.)
I have seen tremendous growth in Clara Anne in the last year in being willing to relate to people, both in the local language and in English. She is gaining confidence in both languages and more freely expresses herself even to people she doesn't know very well. She may not be outgoing and gregarious, but she is doing so much better and is learning to be polite, which was my goal to begin with.
More and more we are seeing evidence of faith in Clara Anne. We have seen some times of pretty distinct conviction of sin, and a desire to follow the Lord. She is much more willing to pray, both in public and alone, and she loves to make up praise songs and then tell me about them.
Clara Anne also loves to dance. One of her favorite things to do is to put on music and dance around the living room--it's a daily activity. And then of course, wearing a pretty dress to dance in is absolutely necessary! I never knew how necessary dresses were to a little girl's life!
That's Clara Anne! Sweet, loving, caring towards her sisters (most of the time), Mommy's great helper: "May I help you do something, Mommy?", a vivid imagination, a beautiful smile, lover of books and stories, a loyal friend, our precious girl. Happy Birthday, Clara Anne! We love you!


Kristie said...

Could you share your homemade cinnamon roll recipe? We love cinnamon rolls and I like trying new recipes. Happy Birthday Clara Ann and Happy Anniversary to you guys!

Groovers said...

Happy Birthday sweet Clara Anne, what a great mommy you are Rachel! :)

sandra said...

Happy Birthday Clara Anne! I loved the special birthday plate set you found. I've been thinking about a "red plate" myself.