Saturday, December 31, 2016

New Year's Eve, a.k.a. Patatas Bravas Night

Once again, the Francos agreed to join us in ringing in the New Year (and celebrating Isabella's birthday). And once again, the adults opted to cook a series of "small plates" that are never really that small, but always delicious.

Determined to recreate the fabulous Patatas Bravas that we've enjoyed at a few Tapas restaurants, and undaunted by less-than-successful attempts in previous years, Tim persevered with a new recipe -and knocked it out of the park!

It was a fun night characterized by food, wine, laughter, and VICTORY at cards. The kids had a wonderful time together, too, and we couldn't have asked for a better way to usher out the old year and welcome in the new.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

The Morlan-Needham-Seymour Christmas in Atlanta

This year we were honored, and delighted, to host the Morlans and Needhams for Christmas. After our magical holiday in London, it felt a bit daunting to be the hosts for such a highly-anticipated occasion, but our guests soon set us at ease and proved that time together is the easy recipe for a merry Christmas.
A few seasonal outings heighten the enjoyment, of course, like the lights at the Botanical Gardens and shopping at the mall.
We enjoyed a beautiful Christmas Eve mass in the cathedral, at which Tim and the Cathedral Ensemble sang beautifully.

Mass was followed by the traditional meal, hanging of stockings and placing of Baby Jesus in the manger.
The scene just before the present-opening chaos.
It was a lovely, fun, beautiful time together that reinforced our blessings and reminded me that the gift of family is by far the most precious of all.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Kindergarten Christmas Celebrations

 It really is the most wonderful time of the year, but probably more so when you're a child. And when you're in Kindergarten, there are several fun celebrations. Take, for example, Grinch Day - an occasion that Laura was suprisingly gung-ho about. It tapped right into her inner 'tude, I guess.
On the sweeter side of things was the annual Advent liturgy, during which the sweet Kindergarten classes sing several songs that they have sung since Clare was that age (and probably much longer than that). They wear their little capes with great pride and channel their inner angels, at least for a bit. A marvelous way to kick off the Christmas break!

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Kings' Christmas Party: Ugly Attire Edition

There was debate (via text, of course) about how many years this party has gone on, or at least how many we have attended - but suffice to say, the Kings' annual Christmas party has been a highlight (or occasionally low, depending on how you look at it) of our season for many years. I will be the first to admit that when they added the twist of ugly sweaters/general attire this year, I was less than thrilled. We don't get all that many opportunities to dress up throughout the year, so I tend to look forward to doing so for this soiree. However, not only was it fun to shop for our pieces, it was *really* fun to observe as people rolled into the party! (You can see by Tim's face how he felt about the wardrobe. But come on - sharks in Santa hats? Pretty awesome.)
This also marked the fifth year in a row that I managed to work a photo of Tim into our gift for the white elephant exchange. While it is generally something that only the Kings and Bergstroms are interested in, this year's pillow became hotly contested among several attendees, including someone who has never met any of these men. Fortunately, if not legally according to the rules of the swap, Amy ultimately prevailed.

How awesome are these suits?

A very fun night with a very fun group. Tim can hardly wait to hear what next year's theme is!

Friday, December 16, 2016

She's a Mean One, Except When She's Not

Today the Kindergarten got to celebrate "Grinch Day." Laura was VERY excited about this. Maybe it was just the prospect of an out-of-uniform day, but there have been moments lately where she has shared an affinity with the creature in green. She regularly asks if she's on the naughty list, and I regularly respond that it's a real possibility.
But she also has moments that remind me how charming this age is at Christmas time. Writing notes to ask Manti, our elf, questions about life in the North Pole; reminding me about the reindeer food they made at school to leave on Christmas Eve; and sweetly singing Christmas songs are things that I know are fleeting. They might even be enough to tip the scales and put her on the nice list after all.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Marist MS Swim Season

Another Marist MS swim season has come to an end, and while I didn't think it was possible, Clare loved it even more than last year. The team clearly enjoyed each other's company, and worked so well together. So much spirit!
This was the first year Clare swam the 500, and she really enjoyed it - and improved her time every meet! Distance events are proving to be her thing, as the 200 was also a solid event for her. Looks like she's on her way to lettering in swimming next year in high school!
Best of all, at least from this parent's perspective, is that fact that she was awarded the Coach's Award at the end of the season. Her upbeat attitude, sincere respect for the coaches, and genuine enjoyment of the team were well noted, and that makes me exceptionally proud.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Tree Time 2016

Various sports schedules, etc. led us to an evening tree hunt this year. I was surprised by how many other tree hunters were at Home Depot on a Friday night - the lighting was not the same, that's for sure! Fortunately, it still looked good the next morning, although the giant split up the trunk means that we're not entirely certain that the tree posted here will be the same one on Christmas Day. Fingers crossed!

The kids all contributed to the tree trimming, too, after Tim put in a long day's work on outside lights. We are eager to put on our best displays this year in anticipation of hosting the Needhams and Morlans, after all!
The kids also all contributed to eating plenty of eats, including the concluding chocolate fondue which Tim graciously consented to do while watching "Elf." We are well on our way to a very  merry season!

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Thanksgiving 2016 Trip to Virginia and D.C.

This year, with Marist having the entire week of Thanksgiving off (and CKS only having 1.5 days of school that week), we opted to take advantage and hit the road for the holiday. We headed towards Karen, Brian and Ryan but took a detour to Charlottesville, VA first, as we hadn't been back since we moved when Clare was three months old. And we do love that town!

Tim found us a charming house to rent, affording everyone more space than we'd have had in a hotel. We were able to walk to a restaurant for dinner on our first night, then crash after a long day of driving. The next day we procured pastries from a local bakery and hit the road as tourists. Our first stop: Monticello, which was every bit as gorgeous as I remembered. Fall is probably the most spectacular time to visit, too.
From there we ate lunch and then trekked to UVA. Never too early to introduce the kids to potential schools, right? Not to mention the opportunity to stroll down memory lane. Thomas Jefferson was rightly proud of this campus.
We greatly enjoyed our time as fivesome and happily headed toward D.C. to catch up with the rest of the Seymour clan - with a detour to Georgetown University first. In other words, stop 2 on our "aim high and spare no expense" college tour. Clare and Danny liked it!
Finally we arrived in Silver Spring, where Baby Ryan was the star of the show, and I think he enjoyed Danny, Laura and Clare *almost* as much as they enjoyed him!
The five of us headed back into D.C. on Wednesday to tour some classic Washington sights - mainly centered around the Museum of Natural History and a terrific Imax film on the national park system. It was a gorgeous day, so we walked around the mall, too.
It was a lovely Thanksgiving. Unfortunately, the following day Clare woke up with a case of strep throat, so the outings ended for the two of us - everyone else headed into the city to have lunch with Uncle Dan and Aunt Judy and then visited the National Zoo. But, we enjoyed some cozy movie watching and down time, so it wasn't all bad.

As always, we are thankful for our beautiful family and another blessings-filled holiday season!

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

All Saint's + Fifites Days

As is tradition for the Fourth Grade at CKS, the morning of Halloween kept us quite busy preparing for All Saint's Day. Danny and his classmates each dressed up as one of the saints and processed into the all-school mass, over which the Archbishop presides. It's always really moving and charming and this year did not disappoint.
Better still, Danny (a.k.a. St. George) was asked to read the first reading. He was nervous going into the day, but you would never have known from the clear, confident way with which he read, earning him many compliments afterwards.
Backing up a bit, the Friday before Halloween was the 50th day of school at CKS. So, the Kindergarteners celebrated it in 1950s style! They had a sock hop and root beer floats. Such a fun year!

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Halloween 2016

For the eighth year in a row, we joined forces with the Francos to celebrate Halloween! And for the fourth year, we headed to their neighborhood, Starlight Hills, to do so. And for the third year in a row, Luis masterfully BBQ'd. #winning
This year, we had two witches and Jack Sparrow among the Seymour children. This was a relatively last-minute departure for Laura from her original plan to be Elena of Avalor - she opted for something "more scary" instead. (I can't help but think of Lucy, from "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!" talking about how one's Halloween costume *should* be in direct contrast to one's personality in real life.)

Falling on a Monday, we had to rein it in just a bit, so the evening came to a close sooner than anyone would have preferred. Nevertheless, it was a big success, and we thoroughly enjoyed having the DiBiases join us again, too! It was clear that the older girls tired of trick-or-treating sooner than the rest, so it remains to be seen what happens next year when we have high schoolers on our hands. Given that we moms are quite content to hand out the candy and sip wine while doing so, perhaps we can relieve the dads and send the big kids off as chaperones instead...

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Running Away with the Girls

Right before Halloween, I got to escape to Northern CA with Breen, Mals, Cat and Susi, and it was fabulous. The cornerstone event of the weekend was the Healdsburg Wine Country Half Marathon, but the highlight was simply catching up with dear friends who go way back. This started with a very chatty car ride from the airport to Healdsburg, continued with a delicious Italian restaurant in the charming downtown, and carried on through a groggy, early, dark and rainy race morning.
The race itself was gorgeous, but tough (pretty sure my training wasn't the best I've ever logged). Nevertheless, we finished and even managed to choke down some post-race wine.
After we cleaned ourselves up, we visited Kendall Jackson winery before heading to a sumptuous post-race bbq hosted by Breen's friends, who run the race every year in memory of a loved one.
As is always the case, the time flew by. But given how easily we always pick up with each other, I know it doesn't really matter how long until we meet again!

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Blue Ridge Mountain High

Overlooking Tallulah Gorge
Every year, as I sit down to recap our mountain weekend with the Francos, I look back to previous years for comparison (and memories). One thing is consistent: each year claims to be the best yet. This year was no exception!
Foiled by our attempt to rent last year's house again, we wound up away from the water and up in the hills - and it was stunning. Kleinhaus was not only fun to say, but an absolute blast for our group, at least once a wine opener was procured. Nearly brand-new, it had a fantastic layout for our families, incomparable fire pit and a screened-in porch with breathtaking views (and excellent couches for napping, just in case anyone happened to stay up too late the night before).
Writing and illustrating stories in the morning.
The house was also well located for nearby hikes, charming places to eat, and even a farm for pumpkins (and a corn maze!) on the way home.

Suspension bridge over Tallulah Gorge - not Danny's favorite spot.
As I looked back over the years, I noticed that the kids are as much sticklers for tradition as the Euchre-playing parents. References to writing stories can be found in each recap, as well as lots of fresh air and outdoor games, not to mention glow sticks and s'mores. The five kids have grown quite a bit over the past six years, but they remain as compatible as ever. We are blessed!

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Soccer Saturdays

Since age three, Danny has played soccer every fall and spring. But it wasn't really until we had two soccer players that I felt we could consider our Saturdays devoted to the sport. Now in her second year, and still very gung-ho about it, I think it's safe to say that Laura is in it for the long haul - and so are our Saturday mornings.
Thankfully, both kids still play for the Y, which means they each only practice once a week, and the practices and games are mercifully close to our home. It's proving to be a great way for the kids to maintain contact with friends from the neighborhood and swim team, too. (This is assuming people remain friends with us despite Laura mowing over their daughters in order to take the ball and score...)
  Here's to many more weekends on the pitch!