Friday, December 28, 2012

A Very Merry (And White!) Christmas

I'm still trying to figure out Christmas Eve at our house. I want all these magical and spiritual things to be happening that day, but it always feels like a weird day to me because Will has to work (it's a super busy day in the flower biz). I know there are plenty of people who work on Christmas Eve, so I'm not really complaining. I'm just not used to it. My dad was always home on Christmas Eve, making it feel more like a holiday to me, and I think I tend to just gravitate to what I know, and have expectations based on my own childhood experiences. So! That said, Christmas Eve (during the day) felt a lot like any other day, but we did (minus Liam) paint our fingernails red, and we did organize all of our wrapping supplies, so that was fun/different, haha. But mostly, I did a lot of cleaning while the kids asked me just about every other minute if it was time to go to Auntie Kay's house yet for the evening festivities. My goal for next year is to come up with some day-time spiritual traditions, even if Will isn't there for them.

At last (I'm feeling really dramatic), Will did come home, and it was time to get all dressed up and head out the door! They looked darling in their Christmas outfits.

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Will's extended family takes turns hosting a Christmas Eve get together in the evening (with the most delicious food, btw), and we always love spending time with them. The kids even got to open a few early Christmas gifts, which they loved!

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When we got home around 9pm, we put out some goodies for Santa, read some Christmas stories, and then tucked everyone into Liam's bed. This year we thought we'd start the tradition of having the kids all sleep together. They loved it, and despite their extreme excitement, they conked out pretty quickly because they were pooped! I think it was after 10pm when they were finally situated, so Will and I could begin all of our wrapping! I feel like a crazy person for leaving it all to the last minute, but I also kind of like it. Again, I grew up wrapping my presents the night before Christmas, so I guess it's programmed in me to do it this way.

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The next morning I got the classic "kids on the stairs" picture-- just barely in the nick of time. Juliette was on the move!

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The kids were really sweet about their gifts. Liam kept saying, "AWE-SOME!" I don't necessarily have pictures of them with their Santa gifts, but this year Liam asked for a light saber. Isabella changed her mind a million times, but at the last minute had her heart of hearts set on having real bells off of Santa's sleigh. Juliette didn't really have a particular wish, so she was surprised and happy with a wooden doll castle. All of their wishes were granted! They must've been good kids this year!

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It even started snowing really hard while we were opening presents! I don't think the kids have ever had a white Christmas, and I can't really remember the last time I did, so that was awfully exciting and definitely added to the magic of Christmas morning!

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Next we got showered and cleaned up a bit and skyped with my family. I always especially miss my family at Christmas, so it was awesome to see most of their faces and hear their voices. It sounded like they had a really happy Christmas as well. After talking with them, we headed out into the snow and drove to Grandma Rise and Grandpa Billy's house for some more Christmas fun.

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After a delicious brunch, Grandma Rise had the kids dress up and act out the Christmas story. I loved watching that. It was a great reminder on Christmas day of the reason for the season. I'm so thankful that Jesus was born and lived the life he did. I hope my kids are beginning to understand the magnitude of who He is, and the gift he's given us.

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We finished off the day by exchanging more gifts, taking some much-needed naps, and just enjoying the company of such wonderful loved-ones.

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Merry Christmas to all!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Thirty Four

Doesn't this birthday boy have the best smile?
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My guy turned thirty-four right before Christmas. His family is always so good about coming together for a birthday dinner and celebration every time there's a birthday in the family. And when you're talking about three generations, that's lots of birthday dinners, and lots of great excuses for us all to get together. We love it. Since his parent's place is so much bigger than ours, and can accommodate all the family much more comfortably than we can, we had this particular birthday celebration on the Sunday before Will's birthday at his parent's place in Poulsbo. I brought enchiladas and everyone chipped in with yummy side dishes, including his mom's much-loved ice cream cake! The kids especially loved hijacking Will's presents and decorating Grandma Rise's Christmas tree that evening.

Will's actual birthday landed on a Thursday, and between him leaving at the crack of dawn to teach seminary, and it being really busy at work this time of year, we didn't see too much of him. (Although I did get up and make him a birthday breakfast, and we did sneak in a lunch date to Amy's on the Bay.) When he finally got home and saw the kids for the first time that day, it was pretty much time for us to leave for gymnastics classes! But we quickly opened gifts with him (I got him a fresh pair of the tennis shoes he wore all the time when we were dating). And then we were off to the gym, and he was off to see The Hobbit with some friends. As you can see from the photos, the kids were pretty wild that evening!

Anyway, a very happy birthday to my love! You are the reason I love life so much.

December Snow!

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I really need to invest in better snow gear for the kids! It just snows so seldom here that I feel like they'd only wear their snow suits once or twice, and then grow out of everything before the next time it snows. But still. I think I'm going to bite the bullet anyway. They have so much fun out there, and would last a lot longer in the snow if they weren't in jeans, and in Liam's case, tennis shoes. Also,  whoever told me when we first moved here that it never snows in Washington is wrong! I think it's snowed every year we've been here. It's not always terribly much, but it's always a big deal. Pretty much if snow is sticking, everything shuts down for at least a few hours.

Last week Isabella got her first "snow day" home from school--well, it was a delayed start. It was awesome! We played outside in the snow all morning, and then the kids came in and took a warm bath and we had a leisurely time getting ready for the day.

The snowman we built didn't last long, unfortunately. We went big this year, and once he was all situated with his carrot nose and things,  I made the mistake of telling Liam and Juliette to hold the snowman's "hands" for a picture (Isabella was already taking her warm bath by this point). And of course, our big snowman toppled. Poor Juliette was quite upset about it and has been emphatically telling anyone who will listen to her all about her "snowman falling down." Hopefully we'll have another snow day or two before winter is over, especially if I'm buying snow gear. :)

Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas Festivities

My kid's excitement for Christmas this year has been pretty crazy! I usually wait to put presents under the tree until Christmas Eve, but we've got a decent amount of presents under the tree already because the kids have been wrapping their artwork for each other, and they're wrapping old toys, and all kinds of random STUFF. They just want to create presents and decorations non-stop. One of the their favorite things has been to keep up with our advent calendars. We got three new ones this year from my mom--one that she made! And without fail, it's the first thing they want to open each morning. It's like a chocolate breakfast appetizer every day. Yum.

So without further ado, here they are opening their early Christmas package from Germany. They LOVED it! One of my favorite things was watching them put the chocolates in each drawer, assembly-line style.

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Other Christmas festivities around here have included making gingerbread houses and sitting on Santa's knee at the Bishop's house! Bishop and Sister Wiest are so awesome to do these fun things for the kids. Seriously, the best! Bishop even got my straight-mouthed kids to smile for the picture with Santa.

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It was also fun that we could meet up with our good friends, the Neals, for the second year in a row to do the gingerbread houses. Juliette, especially, thought the gingerbread houses were the best thing ever. I think she was surprised and thrilled that Sister Wiest would help her open and glop on as much candy as she wanted.

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Juliette's gingerbread house:
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Liam's:
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Isabella's:
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Grandma Rise and Grandpa Billy have dropped by with fun Christmas goodies for the kids. They love their new Christmas night lights that Grandpa picked out!

We also got the house all decorated and have been reading lots of Christmas books. We've added some awesome spiritual ones to our collection this year (thanks, Grandma Rise!), and I'd recommend all of them.

-A Dress for Ellen (a real tear-jerker) retold by President Thomas S. Monson. Will and I both bawled reading the kids this one.
-The Christmas Train also by Thomas S. Monson
-Christmas Oranges retold by Linda Bethers.

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I also made advent calendars with my Young Women from church this month. We made 24 envelopes out of Christmas scrapbook paper and put fun Christmasy things to do with our families in each envelope and strung the envelopes to string with clothespins. We haven't done every single activity, but we've done most of them! I think one of the kid's favorites was delivering treats as Secret Santa. We only hit up two families this year, but I'll have to get my act together better next year and deliver to more of our friends because they couldn't get enough of that! Other activities were really simple like make Santa beards in a bubble bath. I always appreciate the simple days! I think today's activity is for everyone to sleep in the same room tonight. Should be interesting!

Last but not least, Isabella had two choir concerts in one week. She sang with her first grade class and she also participated in the school's starter choir for the first time this year. I've definitely noticed improvement in her voice and she worked so hard and really did her best with all the songs.
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So, yes. I'd say the festivities have been abundant and very enjoyable!  There's nothing like Christmas through the eyes of a child, and I love their excitement!

(Oh, and in case you're wondering how the picture of Will playing the guitar fits into this post, he's started teaching himself to play, and has been very dedicated! I'd say having a musical instrument in the home at Christmas-time is definitely festive! I love it!)

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