Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Baby Day

Alright, folks. That's all the binge blogging for now. Can you tell that I've been nesting?

The house is clean; the counters are wiped; the floors are vacuumed; the basement is organized. Tomorrow, we go to Reston Hospital to have a baby! We are so excited to welcome Wride Baby #4 into our family. 

Wish us luck!

2013: A New Year

The Pascuals came down with Maddie, Daniel and Ryan (Wride cousins) for the week of New Year's. We spent many additional nights at the Wride's house so that cousins could capitalize on playtime and we could play games when the little ones went to bed. Here we are playing Ticket to Ride, which Jorge Luis dominated.

I wanted to take a picture of the girls on the Sunday before New Year's, but the boys wanted in on the action too. Result: cute cousin photo. Just missing John who was likely wrestling one of Adam's Sunbeams in the other corner of the classroom. 

Emma and Maddie were twinners. 

John, Spencer, Daniel, and Ryan are sure handsome in their church clothes too.

These cousins have the BEST time together. They are very creative in their play, although there is a good amount of Wii and computer/iPad games in the mix too. This year a favorite iPad pastime seems to be Minecraft. 
Here, the cousins are making up their own version of RISK.

On New Year's Eve Day, we needed to get a little energy out and found the church gym to be the right place for the job. It's important to have a change of scenery every now and again. We pulled out lots of basketballs and bouncy balls and after the kids had played basketball for a long while, we turned it into a game of dodgeball (pictured below). It's really fun that these cousins are old enough to play structured games. After dodge ball, they ran the lines on the court playing a game of Fox with Gma. 

All this fun can be exhausting! John was a champ. He didn't get all the naps he is accustomed to, but he was still a cheery fellow through all the celebrations. Here he is catching a cat nap at Grammy's house.

We had our traditional fondue dinner and dessert at the Wride's house. Yum!

The cousins donned some festive hats to welcome in the New Year. This photo was taken just before John went to a very reasonable hour. Emma made it until about 11pm, and all the other kiddos rang in the New Year with sparkling cider and grapes. (I had to take a little 11pm cat nap to make it to midnight. Ah, pregnancy.)

New Year's Day we had the classic white elephant gift exchange. The foam fruitcake is still in circulation. Other "winners" this year was the Afterglow Country CD and a slice of Jarlsberg cheese that had been left out overnight. It's always humorous to see what this crowd comes up with. Since Aaron was not in attendance, no toilet paper rolled in the mud was in circulation this year.

Here are darling Emma and Trina in dress-up.

Playing games with the fam on New Year's Day.

A few days later, Laura, Adam, and Valerie met up with cousin Tyler in Baltimore, where he was having a job interview. We sure love having all this family close by!

Post Christmas Highlights

A few days after Christmas, my mom and dad sang at the DC Temple Festival of Lights. We went to see their double quartet perform. Aren't they a cute, Christmasy couple?

The grounds were, of course, stunning.

Here's the family group that was in attendance. Can you spy John peeking out from behind Adam and me? Hyrum was too fascinated by the temple to look in the direction of a camera phone. Not a bad place to set one's sights, though.

Joel and Spencer had some fun with Nerf guns. This is one dynamic duo. We are really, really going to miss Joel when he goes to college next year.

Here we are saying our farewells to Dan when he had to head back to TX for work. 

While the boys were busy with swords and Nerf guns, the girl cousins, led by Aunt Trina, had some marvelous dress-up time. Here are Trina, Emma, and Lily modeling their lovely costumes. Trina is such an imaginative playmate. We sure love her!

*Not sure if Sarah wants this remembered, but because this is a bit of a family history it is probably worth noting that my poor sweet sister had mono and pneumonia over Christmas. A double whammy. She is a trooper. Even though she didn't feel well, she was still admirably cheerful and, thankfully, has mended nicely.

Christmas Day 2012

I can never sleep well Christmas Eve/Morning. This year was no exception. Thanks to Path and my wonderful brother Dan, I got to live vicariously through the beginning stages of their Christmas morning: the gathering at the top of the stairs with Christmas pillows in hand, the singing of carols, and the subsequent mayhem of stocking unstuffing. It was great fun. 

We waited for all the kids to wake up. John and Spencer were up first; Emma slept a little longer, and our rule is to let sleeping children be. It makes for a happier time overall.  

After a quick breakfast upstairs, we lined up (youngest to oldest) to see what Santa had brought.

Picture proof that Santa remembered to come. Included in each kid's stocking goodies was a new pair of pajamas. Whenever John wears his new Cars pj's, he is sure to remind us that they came from "Tanta Caus." Santa sure was good to us this year! He remembers the Cummings tradition of giving each family member their own box of cereal (a very big deal when I was growing up). Adam made fun of me for preferring Berry Fiber Plus to a box of Lucky Charms, but guess whose cereal was preferred and devoured first? And Spencer has said he hopes for a box of Strawberry Special K for his Christmas cereal next year. 

It was so much fun to watch our three kiddos open their Christmas gifts. Some wrapped packages they had been investigating and silently guessing at for weeks. Others appeared magically overnight.

Everyone got what they were hoping for from Mr. C. Emma received Jenny, a Target version of an American Girl Doll. John got a fire truck/fire station set, which he was thrilled with as he opened it. "Wego! Wego!" he exclaimed. Wish I had that one on video. Spencer was one happy Lego fan with the Ninjago: Ultra Sonic Raider set. 

There were lots of lovely gifts and loving thank you's. 

Cute Christmas boy. Just had to post this. 

After a good amount of present-opening, we enjoyed a Christmas luncheon with...the Elders! They came over to the Wride's house, and we all enjoyed a delicious meal eaten off of the special Spode Christmas china. 

Since we still had a bit of snow on the ground, the kids took advantage of some afternoon sledding. Here's cutie Emma about to head down the hill.

Spencer received a snowboard for Christmas, and he was quite amazing at keeping his balance!

This little man wants to be just like his big brother, although when it came time to play in the snow, he used his energy more toward running up and down the hill and tackling a snowman than sledding or snowboarding.

 We closed off the day with a delicious dinner at Grammy and Papa's, a second round of wonderful presents, and some Wii: Just Dance with the fam. You should see this group in action! 

Cummings Family Pictures 2012

When one grows up in a family of 11 children, it is a difficult thing to get everyone in the same place at the same time. In fact, it usually only happens at weddings. This Christmas, however, we were all together...for about 45 minutes early the morning of Christmas Eve. My brother Dan flew in from Austin the evening of the 23rd, and brother Aaron and his family left for South Carolina the morning of the 24th. So it was that we brought our crew over to Grammy and Papa's early on Christmas Eve morning. 

Papa had enough Norwegian sweaters collected and gifted through the years that we were able to accumulate enough to outfit the entire family. Purely awesome. We take our Norwegian heritage very seriously. Did you know I am a quarter Norwegian? And proud of it! As my sister Melinda pointed out on her Facebook photo posting, "No, this is not an ugly sweater party." 
 L to R, back to front: Marie (8.5 months pregnant no less), Michelle, Dan, Jenny, Celeste, Aaron
Sarah, Mom, Dad, Melinda
Heather, Trina, Joel

This is a most excellent follow-up photo entitled "The In-Laws." They each got in on the Norwegian sweater action, creating what is probably my favorite picture from Christmas. 
(Greg, Adam, Katy, and Nathan)

Leading up to Christmas and Christmas Eve 2012

Here we are at the pre-Christmas Shepherd's Dinner. It's become a tradition and is such a pleasant way to pass the evening. We sit on the floor and enjoy beautiful bread, honey butter, crackers, cheese, fruit, dried dates, and vegetables. In addition, we sang all the Christmas hymns having to do with shepherds.

We were so enjoying our evening at Grammy and Papa's house after the shepherd dinner that we ended up lingering until 10. I had brought pajamas for the kids, so we got them ready for bed and kicked back to enjoy a little extended family movie night. We watched Nanny McPhee, and John made sure Papa was snuggled up right next to him.

We got lots and lots of Cummings cousin time in over the holidays. Isaac, Reuben, and John were quite the trio with their swords. Often the three of them wore helmets as well. Got to be prepared for those cousin battles.

Spencer and Joel had an all-out Lego battle. Spencer took a few days to carry over all of his Lego creations for the big event. 

I now have about 100 pictures of Legos from all different angles on my iPhone documenting this epic war. My favorite pictures, though, are the ones with this cute Legomaniac. Love that the cousins got to have some fun with Legos too. We are lucky to have an uncle like Joel to facilitate so much fun.

Our wonderful friends (and neighbors) the Gardners brought us this beautiful sweet bread the night before Christmas Eve. Jim's mom used to make this and give it out to all their neighbors, and Jim has carried on the tradition. We were happy to be the recipients and made it our breakfast Christmas Eve morning.

After a quick morning photo session with the Cummings clan (covered in a different post), we headed over to the Wride household to join in the traditional Polar Express Party. We ran around the house like mad with the soundtrack blaring in the background and my kiddos taking turns blowing the choo-choo whistle, had some delicious hot cocoa, fed coal (rolled-up black socks) into the train's engine, and decorated a gingerbread house. It's a great way to pass Christmas Eve day, which I remember thinking dragged on FOREVER when I was a kid. We sure missed the Wride cousins! 

A little Christmas started snowing on Christmas Eve!

John and Emma jumping for joy. We love snow!

Here's what it looked like a little later in the day. 

We headed over to Grammy and Papa's for the traditional Christmas Eve festivities. Our van had some trouble making it up the hill, so we hoofed it the last part of the way. It was a lovely evening for a family walk in the snow. Here's the sight that greeted us. A little Christmas magic. (Picture borrowed from Aunt Janet's collection). 

Since I was a bit late in getting the rice started, we led off the evening's festivities with The Nativity. John was dressed in soldier gear and ended up playing the part of Herod when the wise men come seeking the babe.

The Elders were in attendance. Right now, the Goose Creek and Leesburg Wards are sharing a set of missionaries. We tease the elders about having Wride radar because whenever we are visiting either of our parents, the missionaries pop by for an unannounced visit. Good thing we like Elder Seal and Elder Day so well because we sure see a lot of them!

Here are the shepherds: Emma, Heather, and Spencer. Recognize him behind all those whiskers?

A cast photo. 
From L to R: Emma (shepherd), Dan (donkey), Spencer (shepherd), John (Herod the soldier king), Melinda (wise man), Joel (angel), Heather (shepherd), Hyrum (baby Jesus), Michelle (Mary), Isaac (Joseph), Greg (wise man), Trina (shepherd/innkeeper), Lily (wise man).

Here's Papa wearing Grandpa Cummings' Christmas vest, reading the story of the Nativity from the Family Bible.

After the Nativity play, it was time for the most delicious meal of the entire year: chicken chimichangas. Red, white, and green toppings makes it a festive food, and we have Grandma Elaine Bezzant to thank for starting this wonderful tradition.  

Here's the Christmas Eve crowd in my parents' beautiful kitchen. Brad, Valerie, and Laura Wride joined in the fun since this is an "off" year for the Wride clan gathering.

After dinner, we enjoyed an evening of music. Adam and Emma played a duet on the piano entitled "Christmas Day." Love this daddy-daughter duet. Valerie and I played along with an arrangement of "Silent Night" that Spencer has learned. I love the celebration of Christmas through music. Other highlights included Joel's "Bach Prelude," Elder Day's "Joy to the World," Valerie/Laura's "Christmas Chopsticks", Celeste/Melinda's "O Come, O Come Immanuel" and Grammy's "This Little Light of Mine." There were many other lovely numbers whose titles aren't coming to mind at present. (Sarah - what is the gorgeous song you sang/played?) We closed by singing "The Hallelujah Chorus." 

After a delicious dessert of frozen chocolate frangoes, we headed off to the Wride's house for a reading of The Polar Express and to write our letters to Santa. All in all, a very merry Christmas Eve.