Sunday, November 30, 2014


I have 26 first cousins, most of whom I saw on almost every single major holiday growing up. Having a large, close, extended family is very special and extremely fun, so it thrills me that Ryder has his cousins, Sophia and Aubrey, in his life.

My sister Nichole and I made a plan a while back to get our families together after Thanksgiving, so on Friday after the holiday we all woke up bright and early and convened at my parents' house for a day of kiddo craziness.

Ryder was still in the newborn blob stage the last time we got the kids together, but now he's sitting up, babbling, laughing, and playing with toys, which the girls found much more entertaining.

I seriously could not love my darling little nieces more. Their innocence and sweetness just melts my heart, and I love spending time with them and seeing the world from their perspective. Having kids around really does make the holidays more magical.

Teaching Sophia and Aubs how to take "selfies."

Ryder certainly didn't lack for attention on this trip... Not that he ever does.

It was such a fun day for everyone! In light of recent events, it just felt so good to get everyone together for a positive reason. I just wandered from room to room, and everywhere I went some of my very favorite people were waiting.

Being with family around the holidays always brings back so many memories for me. And it's thrilling that this year we get to begin building childhood memories for Ryder, too. It just makes me so happy that he gets to spend the holiday season with so many people who are just bursting with love.

He is one lucky boy.
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Thursday, November 27, 2014

Ryder's First Thanksgiving

This year has been incredibly difficult in more ways than I can count. But through it all, our little baby boy has been a bright shining star on the horizon. His big gummy grin makes us smile whenever we see him, and his laugh makes all the heartache seem to melt away.
He is my joy and my reason for living, and I want to make each and every holiday a magical experience for him, filled with family, friends, traditions, and memories.
Sweet baby Ryder...
I've never been more thankful for anything in my life.
We planned a quiet little Thanksgiving at home this year, and invited Stew's brothers over for a day of food and football.
Unfortunately, my grandma was airlifted to Harborview Medical Center on Wednesday morning. Although she was stabilized by Thanksgiving, of course we didn't want her sitting alone in a hospital room for the holiday, so everyone took turns visiting her. Then, because we live nearby, we ended up with some extra surprise guests for dinner, which we loved!!
Stew spent the morning watching football while I visited Grandma and then worked on prepping for our feast.

I was so excited to set my Thanksgiving table with Stew's mom's china and crystal. I didn't prepare a very fancy feast, but all our favorite holiday staples were there, and we were able to stretch the food to feed all our wonderful guests.

I made Stew carve the turkey -- clearly the patriarch's Thanksgiving duty!

I made everyone go around the table and state what they are most thankful for this year, and then we dug in!

Obviously, Ryder was the most popular dinner guest.

An Alway Family Thanksgiving with Mark, Matt, Stewart, and Ryder Alway.

Plus ,I got to see some of my family, too!
It's not Thanksgiving without FOOTBALL, and this year the Seahawks played the evil 49ers -- we smashed them!

Even though it wasn't a typical Thanksgiving for us, we rolled with the punches and everything turned out just perfectly. In spite of all the negative things that have happened this year, we truly do have so much to be thankful for, and I wouldn't change a thing!
Happy Thanksgiving from our family to yours!
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Friday, November 21, 2014

Shipmate... The Watch Stands Relieved

Today we will say goodbye to my Uncle Doug.

He was my mom's baby brother, and he has been a part of my life since my earliest memories.

Doug was the 15th of 15 children. He loved playing the trumpet, and cooking at various barbecues he and my Aunt Debbie would host. His ribs were the best, and we encouraged him to “keep practicing” so that we could eat them often. He looked forward to the Fourth of July, when family and friends would come to celebrate. His home was always open to visitors. He loved his time with family, especially hunting trips to Eastern Washington with campfires where they would share stories.

Doug loved weather and studied it from childhood. He always looked forward to storms, snow, and wind. Everyone called Doug so they could plan if school might be closed or an event could be planned outside. He was known as Weather Dougie.
Doug worked for more than 20 years at South Puget Sound’s Community College Security Department, rising to Security Lieutenant and Emergency Management Coordinator. He joined the United States Coast Guard in 1998 where he served proudly for 15 years. After 9/11, Doug participated in Operation Noble Eagle in Puget Sound, providing protection to US Navy facilities and ships. He deployed to Kuwait and Iraq in 2003 for Operation Iraqi Freedom, and again in 2011 for Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation New Dawn.

Doug and his brothers were lovingly committed to looking after my grandma's well-being, especially after the death of his brother, my godfather, Uncle Steve.

My Uncle Doug and Aunt Debbie were approaching their 22nd wedding anniversary later this month.

Sometimes there are no good answers. Only questions, and a gaping hole in our lives that cannot be filled.

My heart aches for this family... my family.

 Douglas E. Swift
July 13, 1967 - November 12, 2014

May he rest in peace.

"Shipmate... the watch stands relieved
Relieved by those You have trained, Guided, and Lead

Shipmate you stand relieved... we have the watch..."

Memorial donations may be made to the Wounded Warrior Project.
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Monday, November 17, 2014

Sunday Funday

Sunday Sunday Sunday!
Of course, during football season, it's my favorite day of the week.

I haven't really posted about the Seahawks since Ryder went to his first game last month, but of course that doesn't mean we've been shirking our 12th Man responsibilities!

Following the Cowboys game, the Hawks went on the road for a couple weeks, and we took the opportunity to host some Sunday Fundays at our house with friends.

Tara and Andrew came over to watch the Rams game and celebrate her birthday, but since the Hawks lost unfortunately they will not be invited back this season (we're very superstitious about these things...)

The next weekend, Alissa, Matt, Amanda and Kevin spent the day with us, drinking mimosas and watching the Hawks beat the Panthers.

My parents are extremely generous, but they can't come up and watch Ryder for the entire day every time the Seahawks have a home game, so Stew took a buddy to the Raiders game. I was there to see the Hawks smash the Giants the next weekend, though!

And we arranged to have some of Stew's old friends come to spend the day and watch the Hawks play the Chiefs. Chad, Cory, Joe and Jessica (along with their two adorable little girls) came down from Bellingham to hang out, see the house, meet Ryder, and unfortunately watch a not-so-stellar performance by the Seahawks. Naturally, this group will not be invited back this year...

We sure did have a good time with them, though!

That it has been a disappointing football season for the Seahawks is definitely an understatement. But I still love being a football fan, and watching games, home or away, is such a great opportunity to get together with friends. I haven't lost faith in Russell and the gang, but I sure do hope they can pull it together this week...

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