Monday, December 30, 2013

Gingerbread Monsters

After dinner this evening the girls ate some of the gingerbread houses they had made before Christmas, with some help from their Daddy, of course. It got SO stinkin' silly at our kitchen table. Ben kept taking massive chunks out of the girls' houses, which in turn made the girls laugh hysterically. This led to all manner of silly jokes, funny voices, and other forms of just plain nuttiness. They were all being goofy and laughing so hard they could barely breathe. It was a great 15 or 20 minutes of delirium with four of my most favorite people.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Laundry Adventures

Today I am grateful for advances in the technology of clothes washing. I was pulling out of the dryer my fourth and final load of laundry for the weekend when I saw it: black spots on at least half of the girls' clothes. A similar thing had happened a few days ago when I was pulling out a load of laundry to find very similar spots on clothes. I had thought a pen must have been washed accidentally, but after combing through the entire load I had found nothing. Today at least I found a culprit in the form of a crayon wrapper - JUST the wrapper of a black glittery crayon. After having a calm conversation with Ava about not putting crayons in her pockets anymore (I did after all have to take responsibility for not having checked her pockets), I went about the task of examining every article of clothing. The clean ones got folded, the stained pieces got treated with some Oxy spray to be washed a second time. I was very grateful that for the entire time I had to tend to this load of laundry the girls not only occupied themselves but managed to do so peacefully. And while the stains did not come out entirely, after a second wash cycle most of the clothes can be considered wearable once again. So today I appreciate having solved the mystery of the black spots, having children who behaved while I had to tend to this minor crisis, and products that help clean our clothes so we don't have to walk around wearing spotty attire.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

The Dust Settles...

After an incredibly fun and incredibly exhausting week, we finally found ourselves alone with nothing to do this afternoon. It was NICE. The girls continued to discover their new toys and other gifts. Then we ended the evening with a pizza and carrot sticks picnic in our pajamas watching The Muppets' Christmas Carol. It's a favorite of mine that we hadn't watched yet this holiday season. After so many days of going, going, going, I think we all enjoyed a quiet evening at home relaxing.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Movie Date

Today our holiday excitement continued (I told you it was going to be a crazy fun Christmas season!) with the arrival of Ben's cousin and Molly's godmother Bev. I was washing dishes when her car pulled up. I said loudly, "Girls, miss Bev's here." Within SECONDS, there was squealing and running outside - no jackets, no shoes, just gleeful kids that their friend had come to play. To give you an idea of how excited my girls get to have miss Bev here, it took only about an hour for this to happen:

As if Bev just being here wasn't enough fun, she offered to treat us to go see the movie Frozen. It was definitely Molly's first time going to the movies, and I'm 99% sure it was Jocelyn's first time as well. It was a blast: the movie was great, the girls were really well-behaved, and the planets even aligned so Ben was able to meet us and enjoy the movie as well. I VERY rarely go to the movies because I hate how much it costs. I was so glad that Bev suggested we do this. Sometimes, if you can spare the extra money, it's worth the financial cost to have such a special and memorable experience.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Even More Merry!

Christmas is far from over for the Sewards. Today we celebrated yet again, this time with our friends the Carlsons. They had their annual Christmas gathering, and for the second year we were invited to join in the festivities. It was a nice reminder that while this year we were blessed to have actual family with us at Christmastime, we have been able to form this "adopted" family who love us, support us, and include us as their own family when we have none physically near to us.

One of the moments that touched me most was when my girls received gifts from one of the other families that come to this party every year. This woman gave the girls gifts last year as well. Neither year were the gifts anything special - last year it was coloring books, this year those little wands with water and glitter and confetti floating inside. But this woman recognizes that for small kids it's often just the act of opening a gift that is exciting. It means so much to me that each year this woman has thought of my girls. Her small gift makes a huge impact on how special and loved they feel.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

A Very Merry Seward Christmas!!

Today's post will just be full of pictures from our Christmas Day. It was a day full of fun and family and so very many blessings.

checking out the tree first thing

Santa came!!

Molly getting the loot out of her stocking

So back in October, Ava was talking about asking Santa for an iPod. After several conversations about WHY she really wanted an iPod (to listen to music? to play games? because all of her friends have one?), she ended up deciding not to ask Santa for this very expensive gift. In the end she didn't really ask Santa for anything, so he said he would find a good gift for a girl her age. Turns out Santa knew what he was doing - Ava got a simple mp3 player, and could not have been more thrilled (as you can see from her beaming face in this picture)

Molly made this request of Santa at the last minute. I was very glad he was able to come through with this, because it quickly became Molly's favorite gift of the day. (I also love that Ava is STILL celebrating in the background of this picture!)

Jocelyn's Santa haul included a new scooter

happily playing with the new Princess Sophia figurines

they fit rather perfectly in our castle we already have - all three girls were happy as clams

After Santa gifts it was breakfast time. Josiah helped Ben with the cinnamon rolls. He was SO excited to be able to help

It's dark, but Ava took this picture of the family eating breakfast. It may not be easy to see, but I think you can still make out the happy faces 

In our house, we've had the tradition of each person giving a gift to one other family member. This way we can spend a little more on a gift for one person rather than buying several little nothings for everyone. This year was Jocelyn's first year to really understand and participate in this. She had to buy a gift for her Daddy. As Ben opened his gift, I'm not sure who was more excited. It was so special to see the girls embracing the importance of giving as well as receiving.

Ava bought Molly a gift, and was bouncing up and down to see if Molly liked it

we all received homemade pillowcases from my grandmother; Molly preferred using hers as a "blanket"

we gave Zeke this hand-me-down toy as a gift. Although we didn't have a lot of money to buy big gifts for Kevin and his family, we wanted them to be able to open something from us on Christmas morning. We were so happy to have them share Christmas with us; I hope our small gifts helped show the great appreciation we had for them driving down to spend the holidays with us.

THIS was Jocie's gift to Ben: a track to shoot cars down. Jojo, Jocie, and Ben greatly enjoyed shooting the cars across the room together

Molly playing with her fancy new Barbie car (for the record, Ava is in very few of these pictures because by now she was busy listening to her new music player. We didn't see much of her that afternoon)

Baby Zeke, our Christmas cutie :)

the kids' table at Christmas dinner

Jojo, Marissa, and Kevin - can't say enough times how nice it was to have them here

For weeks now we have been getting cookies, candies, and other sweet treats from friends as Christmas gifts. I had even bought a peppermint pie for a special Christmas Day dessert. In the end, s'mores won out. Ben roasted the marshmallows in our fireplace fire, and the kids devoured their s'mores treats. Who needs fancy Christmas desserts when you have that kind of deliciousness? A great end to a truly great day!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas Eve

Today was what I envision as the quintessential Christmas Eve. It began very low key - I spent a bit of the morning helping the girls wrap their gifts for the family, and spent the other time getting ready to have my brother and his family as our guests for Christmas. About mid-afternoon I stopped my preparations of the house to prepare myself, Ava, and Jocelyn for Christmas Eve Mass. After a lot of internal struggle, I had decided to leave Molly at home with Ben for Christmas Eve Mass - it is such a long service, it can be hard for well-behaved children to sit through, much less an antagonistic three-year-old. In the end I was SO glad to have made this decision. Ava and Jocie were wonderfully behaved, and I was able to enjoy Mass for the first time in a very long while. We came home, and shortly afterward Kevin, his wife Marissa, and their boys Josiah and Zeke arrived. We had tamales for dinner and the kids played before heading off to bed.

Today reminded me so much of when we prepared for one of our own children to be born. There was a calmness in the mundane tasks we performed - laundry, cooking, picking up - but with an underlying excitement for what was to come soon. Feeling this connection of preparing for my children to be born with awaiting the birth of Jesus made this year's holiday all the more personal and special for me. Today was a wonderful way to truly kick off what I'm sure will be a fun and blessed Christmas season.

Proud to have had these lovely ladies accompany me to Mass

... and as much as I adore her, I'm pretty glad I didn't attempt to take this turkey with us ;)