Friday, January 31, 2014

Christmas Break & New Years

The day after Christmas has got to be the most depressing day of the year. 

This picture of Lexi with a Christmas toy stuck in her hair depicts how I feel the day after Christmas. 
(And for the record, getting her hair untangled from the helicopter toy that her brother flew into her head was not easy.  Poor Lex).

Luckily, Ben has the week after Christmas off which definitely helps with the "after Christmas blues."  We actually had a fantastic week.  We didn't have any set plans and it was so nice to just lounge around the house and spend lots of fun time together.  I loved not having to be anywhere or have anything that really had to get done.

Ben is our "cheese man" and always buys lots of fancy (and stinky) cheese around Thanksgiving and Christmas.  

Leah and Lexi had fun wearing their new Christmas outfit!  Leah is taller than Lexi, but this picture makes her look extra tall.  I don't know what is going on.  Their heigh difference is not that significant.

Remember how my oven died on Christmas eve?  With his time off from work, Ben investigated to see if it was something he could fix.  We tweaked a bit and for a whole day it looked like the problem was solved, but alas, it wasn't.  Bummer!  And a repairman couldn't come for an entire week. 

I let my entry way look like this for 3 whole days.  By the end of the 3rd day, I couldn't stand it anymore and we cleared it out.

Just in time, too for some house guests!  My parents and both of their mothers came up on Saturday, December 28th to spend a few days.  My mom's mom, Grandma Dewsnup, or Grandma D, or Dewps, as we call her, has never been to Seattle.  My dad's mom, Grandma Wright, has been up on other time to visit when my cousin used to live here and Grandma stopped by my old house to visit for a few hours.  

Both of these ladies are 93 years young.  They are both in fairly great health, considering their age.

Grandma D was so excited to meet Olivia for the first time.  She is a baby lover and wanted to hold Olivia right away.  She has the special touch and put Miss O to sleep quickly.

Chloe was excited to have her best buddy Grandma help her with the sewing kits she received for her birthday.

She finished one of the projects towards the end of their stay.  It turned out adorable.

Grandma D was always willing to hold Olivia, no matter what was going on.  She is such a sweet and wonderful lady.

We played lots of board games during the week.  We played the new game that my parents gave us for Christmas called "Qwirkle."  It became an instant family favorite game.

Livy loved Grandma and really couldn't get enough of her.  She was so spoiled all week with someone willing and wanting to hold her constantly.  She rarely out of someone's arms during the waking hours.

Grandma D is amazing.  How many 93 year olds do you know who are willing and able to get down on the floor and play with small children?  The twins loved playing games with her.  Grandma D was also wonderful to help with dishes during the week and she helped me with dinner as much as she could too.  

With both my parents and two grandmas to help with dishes, my kitchen has never been cleaner than it was that week.  I miss that! :)

Papa and Olivia playing around after church

We love Grandma!

My mom is so awesome.  When she comes to visit, her sole focus is spending time with her grandkids.  She almost never turns down their requests to do something.  She is always willing to play any game, read them a book or go on a walk with them. 

I came down one morning to find them all playing Mario Kart together.

Mitch is getting really good and was the champion that week of Mario Kart.

Lu Lu loved Grandma's iPad.  What a different generation we have of babies/kids with electronics.

Livy later Face Timed with Aunt Catherine.

Grandma Wright enjoyed taking a turn holding Olivia.  She can't see very well, but was very anxious to be of use during the week and did whatever she could to help out.  She helped dry dishes after dinner one night.  We enjoyed her company.

That week, Livy started drooling like crazy, all the time.  Her outfits were soaked every day and she now permanently sports the "drool bib."  I have to change her outfits sometimes multiple times a day.  She is always a wet, slimy mess.  Chloe was the exact same way at this age.

More games!  I love playing board games and it was so fun to have other adults there to play with.

On New Year's Eve morning, Ben and I made a quick trip to the pediatricians office.  As we suspected, the fever and sore throat Leah had right before Christmas was Strep.  Lexi was given a prescription as well, to fill in the event that she started having the same symptoms.  Sure enough, 3 days later she started running a fever and had a very inflamed, sore throat.  It was nice not to have to drag her all the way to the doctor's office to have them tell us what we already knew.  We just fill a prescription instead.

Since Leah was actually feeling fine, we ventured out that same day to do something outside of the house.  What to do that will entertain 5 small kids and that is doable for 2 ninety-three year old woman?  Good question.

We have a season family pass to the Pacific Science (our favorite place), so we decided that might be our best bet.  It's such a great place for kids, but where adults can be equally entertained.  It was indoors, which was nice for the Grandma's, and had plenty of places for them to sit and rest if they needed.

Ben and my dad dropped all of us off right in front of the entrance.  We snapped a quick picture in front of the Science Center and the Space Needle while we waited for them to park.

We always get a picture of the kids on this caterpillar in front of the butterfly house.

We love the butterflies!

New Year's Day was very low key at home.  It was perfect!  Livy enjoyed a nap in Papa's lap.

Livy loved the toys that Grandma and Papa gave her for Christmas.  This was the first time she had really been interested in any toys.  She didn't know quite what to do with it yet, but her eyes would get really big and she'd start shaking when she looked at it.  We are heading into the grabbing and toy stage soon!

We ended the night with a game of Settlers.  I did terrible, but still had fun.

Our visitors had to go on January 2nd.  They left bright and early, around 7:30 a.m., as they had a long drive home.

Livy and Grandma D, one more time.  Olivia had a rough weekend after everyone left.  She was so used to being held every minute that it was a harsh reality to be put down at all.

We had such a good time with everyone and were so glad they came.  It was fun to have both of my grandma's here for their first visits to our new house. 

And just like that, Christmas break was over!  Ben started work back the day they left.  The kids still had the rest of the week off from school, so it wasn't really over, but it felt like it with Ben gone.

After our guests left, Chloe organized a fitness club.  The kids all got in their "workout clothes" and each filled up a water bottle.  Chloe was the instructor and the other kids very willingly followed her every love.  It was hilarious.  At one point, they all went outdoors and ran up and down our little street.

They ended their session with stretching.

Later, Chloe was watching Olivia while I did something, and was Face Time cousin Stella at the same time.  She is a great multi-tasker.

Friday, January 3rd was finally the day my oven repairman could come!  My oven wasn't completely dead, but it took over an hour to get up to temp, and couldn't hold it's temp very well after that. 

Luckily it was an easy fix- the repairman just replaced the baking ignitors.  Right after Christmas, Ben replaced the broiler ignitor, which was the wrong ignitor.  We had the right idea on what was wrong, just the wrong location.  Bummer for us that it cost $350 for a simple repair that we could have done ourselves, had we know we had more than one set of ignitors.  (We are new to the whole gas oven/gas range business).  Most of the cost was paying for labor and the service call.  Next time we will know!  But we were glad it was a small fix and nothing that required replacing the entire oven.

Chloe went to a birthday party that same Friday and was sent home with this play mustache.  Leah grabbed ahold of it and loved wearing it around the house all weekend.  If you mustache, we thought it was hilarious.

On Sunday, January 4th, Ben's brother Nick and his parents came up for a very short visit.  Nick was flying out of Seattle to get back home to Florida and he stayed the night to visit.

The brothers spent a good chunk of the evening battling it out, hoop-shoot style.  There was lots of smack talk, shot blocking and whining. 

Ben's parents stayed an extra day and we loved visiting with them.  Livy loves to hear Nana play the piano, too!

Christmas Break was so wonderful.  It went by much too quickly, and the blah month of January reared its ugly head as it always does.  Now Spring really can't come fast enough!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014


Christmas started with "Christmas Sunday."  I love the Sunday before Christmas.  The program at church is always wonderful- lots of beautiful Christmas music sung that is usually most of or all of the program.  

This year, Ben and I were both asked to speak as part of the Christmas program.  I am usually very stressed and nervous for church talks, but for whatever reason I wasn't as much this go around which surprised me, since it was the Christmas program and all.  Maybe I was too busy with everything else to have time to be stressed, and when we were asked to speak, the Bishopric member assured us that these talks should be no more than about 3 minutes each- we were to keep it short and simple. 

I would always much rather enjoy the words of others at church, especially for the Christmas program, but preparing my simple talk and researching on my topic of Mary and Joseph and their role as parents of the Savior was really beneficial to me and the spirit of Christmas.  It was probably just what I needed after a busy month.  And listening to the talk Ben prepared was my favorite part of the meeting.  His talk was beautiful, reverent and very insightful.

After church, we had our annual "quick family photo shoot" in front of the tree.  I had fun buying coordinating outfits for the kids.  The twins were in need of another dress, Mitch needed a new tie and Livy already had a coordinating dress color for our color scheme.

My four girls!

Being a twin would seriously be so fun.  I get envious watching these two playing together all the time and seeing the special bond they have that no two siblings besides twins could ever share.

Ben got creative.  The kids thought it was so fun!

Family shot!

Our lone boy and his sweet side kick!

Olivia was pretty terrified, but it still made for a cute shot.

Ahh, there it is again- babies and Christmas trees.  2 of my favorite things, especially when they are both mine!

The Monday before Christmas (the 23rd), the kids got letters in the mail from Santa.  The letters were so cute and it totally made the kids' day.

Uncle Nick flew in later that night for a short visit (just over 12 hours) before heading to Tri-Cities for Christmas.  This was his first time meeting our Lu Lu.

I finally got the stockings hung that day too.  With no mantle in our house, it makes it tricky to find a spot to hang seven stockings. 

Christmas Eve was a busy but fun day.  The kids helped me make sugar cookies.

Olivia was a sweetheart and so patient with us that day.  She napped on and off all day.

We invited some friends in our ward to eat Christmas Eve dinner with us.  We do our big dinner on Christmas Eve so that we don't have to do any work on Christmas Day.  Unfortunately, our oven decided to have problems that day and ruined the rolls I had made and almost ruined my funeral potatoes.  The ham was safely cooking in Ben's Trager and luckily the potatoes ended up cooked all right in there as well.  Nothing like having your oven go out when you are entertaining... Awkward!  Luckily the Winkler's are fabulous people and never complained once.  We had such a fun evening visiting with them.

After dinner, the kids opened up the Christmas Eve package.

Boy was this little man excited to see Despicable Me 2 in there!

There was also a pair of new pajamas for everyone! 

The kids and Ben watched the movie in the theater room while I cleaned up the hurricane that was our kitchen.  It took me almost the entire length of the movie to get it clean!  It ended up being a later night for the kids than we thought, but they had a good time and loved the movie.

Right before bed Mitch remembered the magic reindeer food that he made at school.  (His teacher is seriously the best.  He comes home with the neatest arts and crafts things from school that I've ever seen).

The card reads:

Magic Reindeer Food
Make a wish and close your eyes tight.
Then sprinkle outside on Christmas Eve night.
As Santa's reindeer fly and roam,
This will guide them to your home.

He ran outside to sprinkle the reindeer food all over our lawn.

When sprinkling wasn't enough, he threw handfuls of it upwards.

In the hustle and bustle of the evening (and with dinner being late due to the broken oven and everything taking longer to finish), our night was rushed and we didn't get a lot of our usual Christmas Eve stuff done.  The kids did have time to decorate cookies for Santa, but we forgot to write him a note and forgot to get a picture of all the kids with said forgotten note and the plate of cookies.  Oh well.


Everyone was up bright and early on Christmas morning- we heard scuffling outside our door just before 6:00 a.m.

We took our traditional picture on the stairs.  Livy was still asleep and missed out.

The filled stockings and all the gifts still wrapped.  The calm before the storm.

They were excited and ready!

The twins found that Santa had left them a robe.  They were so excited!

They have been wanting one for awhile.  They want to be just like big sister Chloe!

This man loves himself a good pair of Crocs.  A new pair was a need as his old pair was literally in shreds.

Ben's parents gave us this beautiful tower of a delicious assortment of chocolates. 

She didn't get her "real live bunny" but this girl finally got her other most wanted Christmas wish...

An American girl doll.  Saige looks a lot like Chloe- freckles and beautiful red hair.

This year, for the first time ever, Ben and I decided to pick out one gift for each twin that wasn't matching.  They have very distinct personalities that are really shining through these days with their interests and hobbies. 

Lexi got Melty Beads.  She did these at a friend's house last year and loved them.  She sat and beaded for quite a long time.  She loves little craft projects.

We found the perfect girl for our Leah girl.  For the past month or two, she has been carrying around a box of toy cars that we have and playing with them all over the house.  We found this Hot Wheelse loop track (with more cars) that we knew she'd love.  And she did!

Our Ninja Turtle boy needed a new lunch box!

Chloe helped me pick out Garth Brooks' new CD set for Ben.  He's a long time Garth Brooks fan and was excited to hear earlier in the month that Garth had come out with a whole new collection of songs.

Mitch got a whoopie cushion in his stocking and had a grand old time with it.  I caught him putting it under Olivia's chair and setting it off and telling her, "Oh, Olivia!  Disgusting!"  That's my son!

This year was the first year we had an official Sibling Gift Exchange.  We took the kids shopping and helped them pick out a gift for the sibling they had and helped them stay within the allotted budget for the gift.  They had so much fun with this and were so thoughtful in their choosing process.

They were all very grateful receivers of their gifts too. 

Olivia woke up part way through our gift opening.  Chloe was more than happy to go and get her.

For only being 3 months, this sweet girl got spoiled by both sets of grandparents and some great-grandparents.

Her new stocking.  Santa brought her some new binkies and some hair bows.

Mitch was so excited to come downstairs and find a big box wrapped in a garbage bag with a big note with HIS name on it.  He was so anxious to open it.

A hoop shoot game!

The aftermath of gift opening.  It got much worse as the day went on and toys were opened fully and their boxes added to the garbage pile.

Olivia needed a nap after the exhaustion of watching us all open gifts.

My darn oven was still not working, so our traditional breakfast cake for Jesus's birthday had to be cooked on the Trager grill.  It wasn't quite the same but was the best we could do. Happy Birthday Jesus!

The rest of our day was spent assembling and playing with our new loot.

Chloe hardly put Saige down the entire day.  She had so much fun styling her hair and changing her clothes.

Chloe is quite the creative hair artist.  She comes up with some pretty cute hair do's to do on her own hair, so it was fun to try them out on her doll.

She Face Timed with Grandma Blakeslee later in the day to show her Saige and all the fancy hair do's.

Ben (with a little help from an impatient Mitchell) set up the hoopshoots in the basement.

Those proved to be hours of fun over the Christmas break.

Leah loved her car track.

Santa brought Mitch a new remote control helicopter, as the one that he just gotten for his birthday only 2 months ago had a defect in it and broke just a few weeks after his special day. 

Daddy sat down and beaded with Lexi.

Olivia with her Olivia gifts from us.  The Olivia pig is plush and her tummy opens into a cute little book.  And my kids already love the Olivia book series, so I was glad to find a set of 10 all in one hard cover.  9 of the stories we had never read.

Chloe read her the book on the doll.

Olivia loves Olivia! :)

We ended the day watching one of the new movies we had received for Christmas in the theater room. 

The month leading up to Christmas is so busy.  Christmas is a lot of work to put on as a mom, but so worth it.  Christmas Day always goes by much too quickly.  I always go to bed on Christmas night feeling a little sad.  It's such a fun and special family day and having it end so quickly, with all of its magic and happiness and family togetherness is always sad.  We had such a wonderful day!  Merry Christmas!  We can't wait to celebrate you again next year!