Friday, December 29, 2017

Christmas Eve

 I love that Sunday was Christmas Eve. We live in a ward now where they pulled together a beautiful Sunday service with lots of musical numbers. It's not Christmas without music. And it was wonderful. I may have gotten teary throughout, but what really got me was the closing hymn--Joy to the World. I looked down and a little girl from our ward was animatedly singing it for the whole world to see. Filled with so much happiness and cheer and the message she was singing was so perfect. I love Christmas. The message, the knowledge, and the joy it brings.

All my outtakes looked like this.
 We had our friends from our ward, the Bezzant family, and our med school buddies Jeff and Diana over for Christmas Eve. It made it so much more fun to have more people eating around the table, more chatting and games. I loved having the Bezzants tiny little new baby there to see how giant my baby is now. We played a couple board games with the kids, and the card game Mille Bournes---which our lovely guests totally starting skipping rules to be nice to our kids, which was super nice of them. And then we had a little nativity and opened Christmas pjs.
Molly was an angel. She was super good at jumping off the ledge to proclaim Jesus' birth.
Our spread of hoagies. Sterling fully embraces this you can tell by the sheer number of sauces we have set out for the sandwiches. I love it too. And Jeff had gotten an early present of a smoker and he brought smoked pork I think, and it was the most delicious Christmas Eve hoagie I have ever had.

Mary, Joseph, baby Jesus, and an angel.

Trying to keep the angel from jumping.

She really wanted to carry Jesus.

Jeff is always a good sport. We really have loved having these guys to go through med school with. We may have also stayed up til 3 am playing games with them. It was amazingly fun and so much later than I have stayed up in so long. Of course, the kids were awake three hours later, but I still think it was worth it.

Cutest baby alive.

Those little train pajamas were *supposed* to be too big. But they fit perfect. WHY IS HE SO BIG?!?!?
Christmas Eve was a total party this year and I loved every single minute of it. Getting the kids to bed was a little rough, of course. We had to set out food for the reindeer (Will had brought it home from school) and set out cookies and milk, and read about a thousand Christmas books from the library. 

After that it was loads of Citadels, Dungeon, a new version of Catan that Jeff and Diana got, Sushi Go, and who knows what else. We took a break mid-games to get everything ready, and start to feel magical. I love Christmas.

West Palm Beach Sand Christmas Tree

We gave a few neighbor gifts to our wonderful friends in our little corner that we see walking to and from school every day and that have started knocking on our door to come outside and play after school. I love it. The kids did so great with these pretzels and we had a merry little Christmas time listening to music and dipping these...and eating a lot of them.
It's only been a week but everything is already getting blurry. But I'm pretty sure it was the Friday before Christmas and we headed down to West Palm as a family to enjoy the sand castle Christmas Tree called Sandi! It was a night of perfection---the weather was incredible, the city was beautiful (I've never actually gone into downtown West Palm even though we've lived here six months), and the kids were.....awful. We didn't get our intended pizza and went home and fed them PB&J and sent them straight to bed without any stories. BUT in all fairness, for some reason with the beautiful city and gorgeous weather, Sterling and I held onto our sanity and actually thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. We can't wait to go back on a date!

He's seriously the cutest, happiest kid around.

This theater was phenomenal. It reminded me so much of our beloved Hale Center Theater in Utah. But smaller, newer (although Hale just got renovated, we just haven't been there) and the nice guy saw me poking around trying to get a pamphlet of what they were showing and he brought our whole family inside and gave us a complete tour. It was the cutest, most fun thing!

The whole area was fun like this.

My kids love trolleys. They call them 'charleys' no matter how much I enunciate it to them.

Christmas cheer on a beachside restaurant. I am in love.

The sand tree was right on the waterfront, so naturally we had to go out on the pier. Sterling might have gone prematurely gray watching our kids stand right on the edge (somehow that doesn't bother me) but we had a good time.

Ruthie was a good sport. Will walked in front of her four times while we were getting after him and trying to have her take this picture (like we said, our kids were not well-behaved on this particular night). But she caught one! Thanks Ruthie!

Will really liked this boat a lot. Until he saw the yacht, then he was won over.

An old lady was very concerned about Molly jumping off this table. I should be more concerned I think. It's just that she is constantly jumping off things that are ridiculously high and so far no broken bones. I figure eventually we'll have a broken bone and it'll probably be from falling out of a chair or some other benign thing.

There were lots of little sand castle creations all around.
It wasn't too bad that we cancelled our pizza idea because Sterling and I had a babysitter set up for that night (the secomd one since we've had Russ, the first one we went to the temple when he was about two  months old) so we could do some stocking shopping. So instead of eating PB&J we got sushi and chicken at Publix instead. Then we still had some babysitter time left so we grabbed Wonder Woman from Redbox and watched it on our dvd player in the van because Russ (we brought him with us because normally he would be sleeping but he hadn't been when we were leaving) was asleep in his car seat. If ANYTHING defines marriage with kids its a date night in your minivan with the volume down because you have a sleeping baby. also felt amazing. 

Which reminds me of a little story. I'm used to pretty much every comment you could get as a young mother herding lots of children around. I get less of them recently since I usually run errands while Ruth and Will are at school (on the days Will has school) so I only have two kids. Which seems much more reasonable to people. But walking around with only Russ? Oh my goodness-the world was in LOVE with him that night! Obviously, of course, because who wouldn't die of cuteness overload just looking at that chubby little soft guy! This is not the point of the story. The point of the story is that when Sterling was dilly dallying around trying to decide if he wanted spicy sushi or a sub sandwich a middle aged woman came up and was oohing and aahing over Russ. And of course, because he has a grip of steel on anything that comes within grabbing range, he grabbed her finger and she was over the moon about it. She talked about how he just made her want another baby, even though her babies were something like 18 and 20. I agreed, I said he makes me want a couple more too. She said "Oh, of course! When you make babies this cute you have to have more than one! He is just perfection!" And then, after she had gone on for more than a usual amount of passing-supermarket time, I said "well, we have to get home to our other three kids at home, thanks!" and she literally froze, did a complete 180 with her train of thought and ACTUALLY said out loud "Four? FOUR?!?! FOUR!??!" and then to Sterling "Four?! You have four kids?" and then to me "Oh sweetie, cute as he is, I think you've had quite enough."

Uh. Thanks. Thanks for that. Luckily, Sterling was there so we just laughed about it. Not so luckily, a couple days after another woman said a pretty rude thing (I had all four by myself) and it kinda stuck under what I thought was thick skin. No WORLD I don't know if I'd had enough, and I don't think four is crazy. It can be crazy. It can be amazingly awesome, and someday (right?) they won't throw tantrums in the store and I will have grandchildren and people to come visit me and I won't be lonely in the world. I will have a boisterous and wonderful family. End rant.

To recap, we had such a lovely evening watching Wonder Woman with sushi in our minivan. I wouldn't have it any other way.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Christmas Letter 2017

Here is our 2017 Haws Family video:
Our family has had a big year! New town, new year of medical school, new baby! The beginning of the year was spent enjoying as much of Miami as we could fit in. Enjoying every single minute of living close to such great friends and also getting over morning sickness with baby #4. My parents came to visit and we were able to go several places with them-the Fruit and Spice Park, the beach, Wynwood Walls, the Farmer's Market for our favorite ceviche, Robert Is Here, the Miami Zoo-which was so nice to be able to play tourists and visit our favorite spots! We also had a ward camp out in March that was a huge success with our kids. We swam and swam and swam and tried to pack up our house a little bit before moving the first week of June. It was hard to say goodbye to so many of our wonderful Miami friends, but so exciting for us to move to Delray Beach. Sterling's dual degree class for MD/MPH complete their 3rd and 4th year rotations in Palm Beach County and we were excited to move a little bit (an hour and a half north) out of the big city. Delray Beach has been amazing for our little family. We live in an adorable little neighborhood with a huge park right on our street and a very quiet area where we feel very safe letting our kids ride bikes and play outside all day, every day. I get to walk with the kids to take Ruthie to school every morning and Will goes to an adorable little United Methodist pre-k on M/W/F. We live closer to the beach and closer to the library--so life is heaven, haha! Five days after moving we got to welcome a new baby to our family-Russell John Haws born on June 9, 6 pounds and 11 ounces of just pure softness and sweetness. He has been loved and adored and squished by all his loving family members since day one-I definitely think he's a keeper! My mom was able to come out for a week and she finished unpacking our last few boxes and cleaning our last few rooms and bike riding all around the neighborhood with Molly in the baby seat behind her. I don't know what I would do without her! We spent the summer enjoying the pool and the beach and the library programs and soaking in all the Florida sunshine and all the beautiful new baby glory. In the fall, Ruth started Kindergarten (what?!?!?!?) and Will started Pre-K (he only goes half day three days a week) and they both love school and have great classes. I love the time I get to devote to Molly and our weekly dates of grocery shopping with only us and the baby! In September we were lucky enough to evacuate (thanks to Sterling's school recommending it and cancelling all of his obligations) to my sister's house in Pittsburgh for Hurricane Irma. We found out Sterling passed Step 1 while driving--so we enjoyed the entire week like a vacation. We were very concerned for our friends and loved ones down in Florida, but it was a welcome break from medical school and an excuse to have some family time. Our apartment had no power for seven days, so we are very grateful we could leave and not have our tiny baby stuck in that heat and humidity without power for so long. We came home to lots of debri but everything just how we left it and we know we were very blessed. Sterling was able to drive down and help with clean-up in the Keys, which was a really neat experience. In October Sterling's family came to visit! We had a blast enjoying the ocean and playing games all night long! It was so fun to see them and to show them our Florida. In November, I flew to Utah with baby Russ for an unexpected funeral in our family. While it was a hard experience, it was such a relief to feel the love and support of a huge extended family and that Sterling had the availability to watch the kids while I went. We have been truly blessed this year as well as reminded of the important and wonderful things in our lives. Russell is six months old now, rolling over and eating like a champ. He is constant smiles and laughs and still the center of our family's world. Molly is 3 1/2 and loves all the barbies and princesses. She is always my willing helper and sidekick throughout the day. Will is 4 (almost 5) and eats, drinks, and breathes bike-riding. He can easily ride his bike around for 2-3 miles a day and still beg for more. He also loves dogs, planes, and cars. Ruth is 6 and starting to read everything in sight. She draws and traces and colors for hours on end and loves to create things and give gifts. She started piano and is good at reminding mom to give her lessons! I am doing all the things--drop offs, pick ups, appointments, play dates, parks, pools, bike rides, cleaning, church, shopping, etc. I am in love with Florida's winter right now and being able to constantly get outside and enjoy the sunshine with my kids. It's a beautiful stage of life, and if the sand would magically stay out of my van I think it'd be perfect, ha! Sterling spent the summer studying like crazy for Step 1 (he passed!) and then started 3rd year rotations. He LOVES it. He LOVE LOVES it. This year has been so much fun for him so far. He loves everything he does, it is all interesting, but right now he is in psychiatry and it is by far and away his favorite thing in medicine. He enjoys it so much and is loving life. 
We are especially grateful at this time of year for our Savior and for our family, and we wish everyone a very Merry Christmas! 
Love, The Haws Family

Sunday Christmas Dresses

 Huge shout-out to my sisters Kami and Megan who sent me the matching dresses. These are actually the dresses that all my nieces wore to our wedding almost EIGHT years ago (crazy!) and have been passed down through the girls throughout the years. It's pretty fun that my girls are wearing these dresses when eight years ago who knew if I would even have girls? Haha!
Boys in matching bow ties has got to be the cutest thing in the world.

They are the cutest. I looooove that they are matching. You only get little girls who will match in big, princess dresses for such a short time. I'm sure I'll take even MORE pictures this Sunday when they get to match again. Haha.

December Things

We have found a few weekend evenings to go and try out some festive Palm Beach County activities. It has been really fun! One Saturday we went to Walmart after letting the kids draw sibling names for Christmas. That was a fun adventure trying to wrap up their found (under $5) presents under shirts and things in the cart to hide for their siblings! The kids were adorable! After that we hit up the pet store just to look at all the cute animals, and then of course Barnes and Noble because it was next door and I can't resist and we needed a new Christmas book---right?!!?! Then Sterling remembered that he had heard there was a Hungry Howie's here (he experienced them on his mission in Michigan) and we had the BEST PIZZA EVER for $9 to feed our entire family and then headed over to Hoffman's chocolates to see their Christmas lights. They were beautiful. The most magical part is the kids though---they just exclaim and get excited about everything! And the temps dropped from 90 to 55--so it felt chilly and festive! I also lost my phone in the massive of thousands of people, and when we drove back Sterling (who had dropped me off to go retrace our steps) found it right on the ground by where we had parked, not covered in mud, not run over by either us or the car that pulled into that parking spot after us, and totally ok. A Christmas miracle!

Hoffman's was super, super cute. It reminded me of a chocolate candy-making version of Gossner Cheese Factory back in Utah by my parents house.

A random Sunday. The red dress Molly is wearing was sent to us from my sister Kami and I am absolutely IN LOVE with how beautiful it looks on Molly! It just kills me! And Ruth's sweater I got on ThredUp and it is a miniBoden (if I had a million dollars I'd buy least sometimes I would) and usually she keeps it at school to put on when the classroom a/c is too cold. But I adore it. SOOOOO much. So of course I had to take a picture.

This boy grabs ANYTHING that comes within range and instantly annihilates it by mouth.

Gah he's so adorable!!!! And I love these socks (I think my sister Kayli gave them to us?) "I love mum".

It was chilly enough for about four days that we actually pulled out long pants and sweaters! Mostly in the morning when we were walking Ruthie to school.

These two look so much alike to me! And Ruth is such a great helper with him!

The Playmobil store (if you haven't checked out their toys, you should. They are super durable, super imaginative, and my kids adore them.) by our house is going out of business because they have a huge interactive section where you can play with any of their toys all afternoon for $1 and the owner died and I guess no one wants to upkeep it. So they had everything 50% off. These shields are usually $ it was fun to let them all pick one out for $4 each and man! have we had a lot more 'boyish' play and epic battles around here! haha!