Friday, January 2, 2015

New Year's Eve

We haven't really done much to celebrate New Year's Eve in the past, but in keeping with our new conviction to make events more special we made this year a little more of an event. Not much more, but a little. I forgot the noisemakers, but at least we had food and games!

The evening started out with some Love Train and candied almonds. Edith was so excited to be able to stay up late and join in the party.

As it neared 9:00 and Edith couldn't stop yawning, we quickly cleaned up the game and I served the traditional cheese and cracker snack. Five kinds of delicious cheese with salami, pickles, and apple slices? Now we're talking! 

After we yelled Happy New Year and made a sparkling cider toast, we shuttled an exhausted Edith off to bed. Then I was able to play all three of my handsome boys in some games of Rack-o. So much fun. They really are great company.

We celebrated the (eastern time) New Year again at 10:00 and got the boys off to bed. One of these days, when they actually sleep in after staying up late, they'll get to finish out the night. 

Once the boys were down, Pen and Ginger settled in to watch a movie in the basement and Rophone and I relaxed together upstairs. I think our simple New Year's Eve was the perfect combination of celebration and relaxation. Happy New Year, everyone!

The Between

We didn't do a whole lot between Christmas and the New Year. A lot of enjoying the snow and just doing stuff. Yeah, stuff. Let's see if I can clarify…

Oh, yeah. There was more game playing. 

On Friday the 4 younger kids went out in the backyard to have a snowball fight, but the snow was too powdery so they just gave each other snow showers instead. And, yes, the photos are all blurry-- I had my camera on auto focus to catch the action, but it kept focusing on the snow that was falling instead of on the kids. Oh, well. 

Then, on Saturday, I took the 4 younger kids to the library while Pen was working. There was a need to supplement the books received for Christmas. I mean, with a whole week left in the break, we needed to make sure we have plenty of options. There can never be too many books. 

Both before and after I took the kids to the library, I worked on this year's ornament project. I'm super excited about it.

Hopefully the kids will have some great ornaments to start out with when they get their first trees of their own. I gave a couple as gifts, too. Super easy to make (mostly) and I love the way they look.

We woke up to a ton more snow on Monday, and it continued to snow the whole day. 

When we went out to shovel, Big actually opted out after a few minutes (what??) and he and Edith announced that they would just sit on their "thrones" and watch me while I worked. What a bunch of lazy royalty. Ha! 

(Big redeemed himself when we went out to shovel again in the afternoon, thank goodness. Please, please, please don't let him lose his love of work yet. Please!) 

I ended up staying out for even longer than the kids that morning, shoveling our snow and working on the sledding track to make it better. I helped a neighbor, too, when I noticed she could use some help. It was so great to be out that I just didn't want to go back in, but brrrr! Those single digit temperatures for 3 1/2 hours sure did freeze my legs! Buying snow pants is definitely on the agenda. 

The kids went out in the snow again on Tuesday. I love how it occupies them and gets their pent up energy out. I took a few photos when I went out to fix the end of the sledding track. 

They sledded and played for hours on end. So much fun.

Anything else? Oh, yeah. I've been eating a lot of grapefruit.


Eve and Day

Around here we have our big meal on Christmas Eve. How else can I ensure that at least part of my Christmas day is relaxing and enjoyable? We were all on our own this year, with no one coming over or that we needed to visit, and I really liked it. I mean, I missed family, but it was just so nice. 

 The dinner was delicious, if I do say so myself. :) I roasted two chickens (since we all prefer chicken over turkey), made gluten free stuffing, candied yams, mashed potatoes, steamed veggies, gravy, cranberry… You know, the typical stuff. We fancied up the table a bit and made sure that everyone dressed a little more nicely (see previous post about trying to make things seem more special), but then we ended up eating off of paper plates because I forgot to run the dishwasher earlier in the day. Oops. Oh, well. It was special anyway.

As my regular readers may remember (are there any of you left? Hello?), our Christmas day traditions are my absolute favorite. Sleeping in, making sure everyone is bathed and rooms and house are clean before we get going. So awesome. A new-ish friend on Facebook was shocked that we make our kids wait so long to open gifts and stuff, but it's wonderful. It prolongs the day, making it much more meaningful. It teaches our kids that it's not all about the presents we're getting. It's about love, and togetherness, non-material gifts we've been given and, of course, SLEEP! Ha!

The weather has been so weirdly warm for all of December, making it hard to believe that Christmas was almost upon us. But then we woke up to this on Christmas morning!

What a fantastic Christmas surprise! It made a lovely backdrop for our traditional bran muffin and cheesy scrambled egg breakfast. Here we are finally sitting down to eat at 9:20:

I love my family. There is just so much joy and love at that table. You can see it.

After the dishes were done and the floor was swept, it was time to do the lineup.

I also snapped a quick "before" photo of what was waiting for them. I love how Santa can make even underwear and socks seem fun with cute wrapping paper. :)

Rophone let the kids in one-by-one so they could locate their stockings and I could capture individual reactions. I expected Edith's reaction to be huge when she saw the ginormous dollhouse brought by Santa…

But, yeah. No. She just stood there looking at it. I think she wasn't sure it was really hers. Her most excited reactions? Over the small things Santa brought-- underwear, socks, a Hot Wheel and a toothbrush. 

The orange, though?

Well, it was a bit of a bust. Ha!

As I was snapping photos of Edith, I was simultaneously taking photos of all the other kids as they came in and found their loot (there is really only about 5 seconds between their entrances). I took this one of Big, but clearly the needed blood sugar boost from breakfast hadn't kicked in yet. We'll get back to him. Looking festive, though, Big!

So, here's Bud..

…followed by Ginger (she's #1, apparently)..

…and then Pen.

Big's still looking dazed. We'll give him another minute.

He'll perk up eventually. Let's take a look at some other photos of what was going on.

Hey, it looks like Big is back!

Just a few more pictures of the festivities, and then we'll be done. The way we take turns and make sure to appreciate what each person received takes a while (and it's awesome!), but I'll try to speed up the process here. 

Bud, so excited to receive "plastic utensils". The Entertaining variety, no less.

Pretty excited that the box contained some pants, instead.

After Bud opened his box, I joked with the kids that one of these days I would surprise them and they would really get what the box indicated, rather than just being repurposed to hold something else. And then Ginger opened this…

And she knows these pictures are going on the blog…

Excitement over the new thermos, and oh so much relief that the "day" was not today. Thermos > tampons at Christmas. 

Infinity scarf disguised as cereal..

Rophone received a bunch of guitar accessories from my sister. 

Made him go "ooooh". That is a huge reaction from him. Way to go, Opera.

Hey, look! Lest you think I missed out on all of the fun, Rophone took some pictures of me!

This card Rophone and I got from Ginger is one of my favorite gifts ever. It's so her.

We all got some things we needed (so excited about my egg poacher!), clothes to wear, some books to read, and a few fun things for no reason. Sounds just about perfect. Ginger's new shirt with a unicorn pooping cupcakes? Icing on our Christmas cupcake!

Definitely perfect.

The rest of the day was spent doing a bunch of things, spurred on by leftovers. Not having to cook lunch or dinner on Christmas day is so awesome. 

Big was super excited to finally have snow to shovel, so after we ate a little food we headed outside to do just that. 

The girls headed out together to do a Christmas photo shoot with their new phones and I snapped this of the two of them as they were on their way. Aren't my teens gorgeous?

I decided to use some of the snow from the driveway to begin to construct a sledding hill in the front yard. The ability for the kids to sled without me having to take them anywhere is so priceless. 

After some time outside (it was really cold!!) we continued to party inside. We read our books, played some games, and just relaxed. So, so nice. The boys were super excited to get Battleship. Such an awesome Christmas gift for them to share.

What a great Christmas! I just wish I could capture the magic of it all and save it. I guess this blog post will have to do. Merry Christmas, family! I love you!