Sunday, December 29, 2013


We had a very Merry Christmas!  It was filled with food, gifts, love, family, games, a movie and lots of boxes and wrapping paper!

Jack got just what he was asking for-- a Zagg iPad keyboard, Polo Red cologne, clothes and a few Xbox games.  I guess Santa didn’t get the memo about moving him to the naughty list for speeding  46 miles over the speed limit.

Ryan got a skateboard, black bear hamster, Disney Infinity figures, clothes and a watch.

Hadley got a new iPod screen, makeup, clothes and shoes, Katniss barbie, snow boots, Frozen soundtrack, necklace, books, scarf and hat.

Morgan got Elsa, Anna and Kristoff barbies from Disney Frozen.  She also got all of the barbies from her favorite show, Barbie In The Dreamhouse.  She spent the entire day singing Frozen songs with her new barbies and reading her new books.

Mia must have been really good because Santa brought her the American Girl doll (“Merragirl Doll”), Molly.  She’s her favorite doll because “her glasses make her look so cute” but unfortunately her glasses were broken when we opened up the box so now she is anxiously waiting for the replacement pair to arrive.  She also got Lego Friends “Mia's Magic Show”, all of the fairytale mini lalaloopsy dolls, Wizard of Oz mini lalaloopsy dolls, shrinky dinks and Wreck It Ralph Infinity figure.

Griffin got the new Disney Infinity start up pack and lots of playing figures.  He also got Skylanders for Xbox and a target for his bow and arrow, the game, Quirkle and the book, Diary of a Wimpy Kid.  Some of his presents didn’t get here for Christmas so he got to open them the day after Christmas--a Kwanzaa miracle- a new tennis racquet, basketball and hexbug.

Gavin made his favorite Christmas breakfast meal -- overnight cinnamon french toast and we all enjoyed some before heading up to my parents’ house for another Christmas brunch and more gift exchanging.

Grandma and Grandpa spoiled their grandkids once again.  I guess that’s what grandparents do when it’s Christmas.

Grandma and Grandpa with all of their grandchildren (always miss out on having the Rushings)

And as always, I’m always relieved to have Christmas over.  It’s just a little bit more stressful as a mom than it was as a child.  It will be nice to get the Christmas stuff all put away and get ready for a new year!

Christmas Eve

We tried something new this year with our celebration on Christmas Eve.  We stayed home with our own little family instead of meeting up with extended family.  We started the night with a sit down dinner of ham and shrimp.  Mia and Griffin were so excited for it to finally be Christmas Eve.  They’ve been checking out the presents under the tree and counting down the days to get to Christmas Eve so they could finally open three gifts for the wisemen tradition.  Mia was my big helper. She helped me with setting the table and bringing up all of the Christmas dishes.  We got our glasses set up for sparkling cider and eggnog and then lit the candles.  A fun Christmas Eve toast and it was time to eat.

After dinner we got together to read the last Christmas story in our book, sang Silent Night with Ryan and Mia leading the music and then read about the birth of our Savior in Luke and Matthew.  After reading about the Wisemen in the Bible and discussing the symbolism of the three gifts that they brought to baby Jesus, the kids all got to open their 3 Wisemen gifts--gold (something fun), red (something sentimental) and green (something needed).

Jack got a UofU blanket, a driver’s license ornament (for turning 16 and getting his license and a crazy speeding ticket) and UofU pajamas.

Ryan got a BYU blanket, a Willow Tree ornament--“You will always have my heart” with a gold heart (for his golden birthday this year) and BYU pajamas.

Hadley got a Hunger Games bracelet, a Willow Tree ornament--“Dance of Life” (since she started up dance again this year) and Hunger Games pajamas (she’s slightly obsessed with Hunger Games).

Morgan got Frozen and Barbie books (and then ran off to the living room to read her new books and didn’t want to open up any other gifts), Toy Story Jessie ornament and Christmas pajamas.

Griffin got loom bands to make rubberband bracelets, Ninja ornaments (since he was a ninja for Halloween) and Christmas pajamas.

Mia got a “Dorothy" mini Lalaloopsy doll, the Wizard of Oz ornaments (since she was Dorothy for Halloween) and Christmas pajamas.

Then we set up cookies and milk for Santa, watched the movie “ELF" together and then off to bed.  Ready for Christmas.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Advent Activities

Day 1 {Advent Calendars}

Day 2 {Live Nativity}
This is one of my favorite Christmas activities.  We went on the first night to beat the storm that was coming.  We weren’t the only ones with this great idea. . . 2 hours later we finally got up to the front of the line and made our way into the building that was transformed into Bethlehem.  It was the sweetest thing to turn around the corner and see the baby with the light shining down on him.  He was lying in the manger, wrapped in a blanket and staring into his mother’s eyes.  Probably a lot like it looked 2000 years ago.

Day 3 {Decorate the Tree}
I wasnt’ excited about putting up all of the Christmas decorations this year.  I’ve been working a lot more which means the house has been severely neglected.  And the last thing I want to do when the house isn’t clean is to add more mess.  The kids brought up a box of decorations and I put that stuff up, the stockings, the Christmas scene on the piano and the nativity and called it good.  Didn’t even get to putting up the wreath or garland on the front door.  And I don’t think anyone noticed or cared.  So much stress that’s part of this time of year is self imposed and I opted for less stress this Christmas.  I even let the kids put up all of the ornaments on the tree.  Doesn’t look much different than when I do it and they had a lot more fun doing it.    

Day 4 {Festival of Trees}
We asked Mia and Griffin at the beginning of the Christmas season what their favorite advent activity is that we do each year and they both answered, “Festival of Trees!” so we made sure it was added to the list.  The big family activities just get harder and harder to keep up with as the kids get older.  Jack and Ryan prefer hanging out with their friends a lot more than hanging out with their parents.  They were not excited about this activity but warmed up to it to once they got there and saw a lot of kids from their school there, volunteering.  Mia wanted a picture in front of every tree that had a doll.  Most of the trees have dolls.  There are hundreds of trees.  I did my best but still couldn’t keep up with her demands and there were some tears of frustration.  Mia cried a little too.

Day 5 {Sound Of Music Live}
It gets to be too much to do something out of the house every night and I love when there are cute Christmas shows on the TV that we can watch together as a family.  Carrie Underwood’s voice was amazing and the acting was. . . well, I just think plays are not meant to be filmed and on TV but we still enjoyed a cozy night on the couch next to the warm fire.

Day 6 {Letters to Santa}
Morgan, Griffin and Mia wrote a letter to Santa and took it to Macy’s for the Make A Wish foundation.  Macy’s donated $1 for each letter mailed to Santa on this day.  Nothing compares to the sweet hand-written letters of children to Santa.

Griffin’s Letter:
“Dear Santa,
You might have gotten my other letter first but first what I want for christmas is Disney Infinity, Win U, but really I don’t care,
Love Griffin
P.S.  I think you’r on the nice list Lol!”

Mia’s Letter:
“Dear Santa,
I like Molly the Mercin Dall (American Girl doll).
I like the SaGe (Saige--another American Girl doll).
I like NcRacR (nutcracker)
I like the FrosiN Doll (Frozen doll).
I like LaGos FEs Na Mia (Lego’s Friends Named Mia).
I like OLaF
Love Mia 6766”

Morgan’s Letter:
“Dear Santa,
I want BarBie Books and Frozen Books
Love Morgan Seal”

Then we went home and watched, “Yes, Virginia”.

Day 7 {Play--Simple Gifts of Christmas}
We went back to the 4th ward for their Christmas dinner and play.  It felt like going home.  Morgan greeted everyone with hugs as she walked down each of the rows of tables.

Day 8 {Gingerbread Cookies with Grandma}

Day 9 {HOT tub and HOT Chocolate}
This is a favorite activity.  It was so cold outside and the perfect weather for hot tubbing and drinking hot chocolate right before bed.

Day 10 {Movie -- Disney Frozen}
This was our second time and the kids liked it even better than the first.  Morgan sang all of the songs the entire way home, deliriously happy.

Then she and Mia wanted to sing a few more songs before bed.  Mia’s favorite is, “Do you want to build a snowman?” and Morgan’s favorite is, “Let It Go”.  She was so excited when that song started in the movie and Elsa takes off her crown and throws it.  “Mom, it’s Let It Go.  She’s not a queen anymore!”

Day 11 {Hadley’s School Choir Concert}

Day 12 {Ware’s Christmas Party}

Day 13 {Sugar Cookies and Park City}
Hadley made sugar cookies with the little ones while we escaped for an over-nighter to Park City with our friends, the Steenbliks and Wilkos.  It was such a nice escape with yummy food, lots of late night games, hot tubbing and shopping.

Day 14 {Winter Formal, Church Dinner, Basketball}
Jack went to his High School’s girl choice winter formal with Olivia.  He said it was his favorite dance yet and so much fun.

We also had our ward dinner with a few songs from the Primary kids as we learned about Christmas traditions around the world.

Then Gavin took off with Ryan and went to the UofU vs BYU basketball game with friends and family.

Day 15 {Stewart Family Christmas}
The tradition that my Grandma Norma started 40 years ago continues today at my parents’ home.  We all get together with the Anderson family for dinner and a Christmas program.  Morgan loves when it’s her turn to read a part in front of everyone.

Day 16 {Desert Star Playhouse--Miracle on 42nd Street}
We love going to this theater for Christmas plays but this production wasn’t our favorite.  Always a great time to be with all of the family though.  We had to leave Mia and Griffin home after a mix up with the tickets and couldn’t buy any more because it had sold out.  They were happy to stay home and play with their cousins, Lilly and Luke.

Day 17 {Oops.  We may have skipped this day.  But Mia did have her Polar Express Party.}
or so I thought.  I sent her a day early to school in her pajamas and slippers.  She had a note in her hand when I picked her up from school letting me know that her Polar Express party would be the next day and to please not have her wear slippers.  Well at least Mia wasn’t the only one who wore her pajamas early and she didn’t complain about wearing pajamas to school two days in a row!

Day 18 {Gingerbread Houses}
I always think this will be so much better than it is.  We bought kits hoping that it would make the house building easier this year.  So you can imagine our disappointment when we opened the kits and found the sides of the houses all in pieces.  We tried to glue everything back together with the icing but after an hour of fighting with the walls and collapsed houses we had to pull out the big guns . . . the hot glue gun.  The houses finally stayed together but were no longer edible. (Thank you to Target for refunding our money on our broken kits).

Day 19 {Snow Day and Teacher Gifts}
Teacher gifts are another thing I simplified this year.  The kids ended up giving chocolate sticks with a gift card.  It didn’t take days or weeks to prepare and the kids were still just as excited to write out the gift tag and give it to their teachers the next day.  We were hit with tons of snow and tried to stay home as much as possible.  Cassidy dropped by for a few hours on her way home from college and then I drove her in the snowy weather back to the airport.

Day 20 {Seal Gift Exchange}
Trevor and Annie hosted the annual Seal family gift exchange.  We had a yummy potato bar and salads.  Then the gift exchange with the cousins and Nan and Papa.

Day 21 {The Nutcracker}
This tradition has just been with Hadley the last few years but I felt like it was time to invite the other two girls.  I was really nervous about Morgan and how she would do.  We go to the professional production in the big theater downtown.  The tickets are not cheap and it’s really quiet during the performance.  Morgan has a hard time with new, unknown settings and makes random, loud noises.  It usually stops after she adjusts to what is happening (everything around her) and then she does fine.  I was prepared to spend some time out in the lobby with her if needed.  We met up for dinner with the Seal girl cousins at Outback Steakhouse.  Morgan was complaining that everything was hurting, “my tummy hurts.  My nose hurts. (and on and on.)”  I was joking that I had brought Debbie Downer with me to dinner.  But as we were getting ready to leave the restaurant and pose for a picture, Morgan threw up.  Nothing is worse than trying to hide vomit from others enjoying a nice dinner out together.  We were able to take Avery with Morgan’s ticket and meet up with Gavin to take her home.  She was fine once she got home.  Not sure what was going on.  Maybe it was too much for her too! Mia loved it and has been learning about the different dances in her ballet class.  I tried to explain part of the ballet to her and she responded, “I already know, Mom.  I’ve seen the movie!"

Day 22 {Christmas Lights Scavenger Hunt.  Hot Chocolate.  Games}
We love this sort of annual tradition with the DeBrys.  This year we separated and had a timed scavenger hunt.  We didn’t choose a very decorated neighborhood and ended up not finding very many on the list.  But we did get the grinch!  After the scavenger hunt we met up at their house for yummy hot chocolate and some games -- the candy bar game and the name game.

Day 23 {Christmas Adam -- Roller Skating and Bounce House}
Our plans changed from outdoor ice skating to indoor roller skating.  Much warmer and easier with 3 little ones who don’t know how to do either.

And we did it. These activities keep us busy but are usually full of great memories (mixed with screaming kids fighting in the car).  I don’t think the kids got to bed on time one night in December.  Very little homework was done.  A few minutes of piano practicing here and there.  But that’s what December is all about.  At least I hope it is.