Thursday, December 30, 2010

Packing it in

Packing the memories, that is. Anyone else feel like you were non-stop with Christmas events? There was some serious jam packed memory making these past two weeks. Justin's parents and sister came in from Kentucky. Now that they're retired it was nice change of pace and have a Texas Christmas. It felt so weird not packing, traveling, and unpacking during the holiday season. Although I was sad to miss a white Kentucky Christmas, it really was wonderful having a Christmas at home.

Since we knew that Santa wanted sugar cookies, we put Gram on that project Christmas Eve. We don't want to disappoint the man in the red suit after all. I was still worn out from our last batch of cookies.


Campbell hasn't quite understood the concept of making one impression with the cookie cutters. He usually made it with about 8-10 cuts into the dough.


Nolan loved it...every.single.lick


Christmas Eve ain't Christmas Eve without the candlelight service at church. Put a candle in my hand, sing some Silent Night and you might as well call me a blubbering idiot.


And for the first time since our wedding over eight years ago, both of our parents had dinner at my parents' house after church. I'm talking homemade-enchiladas-beans-rice-and-tamales-lick-your-plate style. One of my proudest moments to be Hispanic is when my mom can rock one of her homemade meals. Feliz Navidad, baby!

My parents have maybe two square feet of wall space that isn't covered with Christmas decorations. In fact, one year my parents' tree had so many decorations on it that it fell over. As if that wasn't funny enough, my dad held the tree for three hours for my mom to come home to help him.

 So you can imagine that my children think that going to Grandma and Granddad's house is the same as going through the enchanted candy cane forest by the North Pole. My dad's a giant kid when it comes to Christmas and completely lives vicariously through the boys with his love for trains...Polar Express style.

Since everyone was all dressed up when we finally made it home, we had to get a family pic. This is what we got...lovely.

After some laughing (and threatening) we finally did a couple of decent shots.


We had the boys open their staple Christmas Eve present that's always jammies. At this point, we're creeping past 10:00 and realizing that Santa still has a lot to do to get ready for the next morning. So the next five minutes included throwing on jammies, slapping some cookies on a plate, and Justin chunking reindeer food in the yard as the boys watched. Not exactly as low key as our Christmas Eve last year since we were snowed in.


And this is just Christmas Eve people. Told ya it was jam packed.


Saturday, December 25, 2010


Have I mentioned that I'm a little slightly obsessed with Christmas music? Secular, religious, traditional carols...I wanna sing them all, shower style if you know what I mean. Well, minus Manheim Steamroller I could do without them, but hey we can't love it all, can we?

So when we had an opportunity to go with our young families and youth groups to go caroling to the members of our church who are home-bound, I jumped at the chance to sing my heart out. I figure when I'm with a bunch of cute kids, that most won't mind my tone deafness.

Accompaniment and Christmas apparel were also welcomed. Too bad I didn't bring my spoons!

Tomorrow morning at church, I've been asked to speak about what did I GIVE for Christmas. I would hardly call my singing "a gift." Sure, I gave my time and loaded up my family and shared Christmas cheer. I know it sounds so cliche, but isn't it funny when you give how you get so much in return?

In my giving, I am reminded that all you need is love. Love from a family, love for Christmas and what it truly means.

My giving was a gift back to me in that it made me beam to see my children sharing their gifts of singing and cuteness (that is a gift after all) and to see how they can spread their love to to a complete stranger to them.
And the friendships, oh the they make life so sweet.
But the thing that struck me the most is that I can remember singing Silent Night as a young girl every Christmas Eve. As a child you're not struck by beauty much but I vividly remember crying at Christmas Eve because of the beauty of it all. The beauty of the candlelight, the church, of love and of God.

As we were singing, one home-bound member teared up when we sang Silent Night. So while I gave my gift, I'm reassured that after many years of wisdom that song will mean to me as much in 50 years as it did when I was six.

You see up until this point in the season, I was really struggling with getting in the Christmas spirit. This truly jump started my spirit department. So much so that I felt a little Christmas light looking necessary. And ladies and gentlemen, that spirit was on fire everywhere else.

So remind me again, who was truly getting a gift in all of this caroling? Hmmm, hard to say for sure.

Merry Christmas to all and to all a goodnight.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

An extra special birthday

Tonya's 40th birthday is tomorrow. I'm not going to lie, the poor thing really gets gypped that her birthday is so close to Christmas. Normally, it's a "Oh yeah, Happy Birthday Tonya" on Christmas Eve with her birthday present wrapped in Christmas wrapping paper. But this year, being her 40th, we had to do something more and especially with everything she's gone through this year with her breast cancer, birthdays are definitely more cherished and savored.

The night started with a casual dinner with the fam. And you know it ain't a birthday until sugar is involved.

 And boy do my boys know how to finish off a cupcake...
Our next plan was for the family to ride a carriage downtown and look at Christmas lights. This part was a surprise for Tonya. And if we want it to be a surprise from Tonya that means it has to be a surprise from our boys or someone might spill the beans. This is Nolan's face when I told him what we were doing next. Another case in point that my boys can rock a good excited.

We were all bundled up and it was so much fun looking at all the lights and feeling the magic of Christmas. And to top it off, my brother, Bo, came in town and celebrated with us.

It's a good thing is was such a huge carriage with our big fam!

And I'm not sure if it was because it was the spirit of Christmas or the happiness in our hearts about Tonya's birthday, but every twinkle of the lights made my heart do a little happy dance. It was such a special moment in more ways than one.
Now I need to convince my boys that we aren't going to ride a carriage everyday. They were totally sold and think it's the best thing ever.

And let's face it, it was the best thing ever.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Polar Express

There's something about this time of year that makes me just want to wrap my arms around my boys, grab a blanket, climb in bed and watch Christmas movies. The more sentimental the movie, the better and the tighter my snuggles get. Snuggles, or as I refer to them with Nolan...Nolie 'nuggles and with Campbell they're lovingly called Cam Cam cuddles or whatever made up language that comes out of my mouth for that day.

We went to go to the Omni IMAX theater to watch The Polar Express a couple of weeks ago. Nervous is an understatement of my emotions considering that Nolan is still getting over his traumatic 3D theater experience from this summer and Campbell had never been the movies. I did love that we just got to throw on jammies to watch the movie.

Even Dynamo the Dinosaur was all dressed up in his jammies. Now the overall theme for Campbell this particular day was UNCOOPERATIVE. The pictures will tell the story.

Before the movie started they were giving out hot cocoa. It was a first experience for both boys.

How picturesque, right? Sipping cocoa in their jammies about to experience the Polar Express. Well before you think that these outings are perfect for scrapbooking, what you don't see is right after this sip is right when Nolan spit the hot cocoa out the second he drank it all over his jammies.  "Now it's hot, so let it cool," might as well have been, "Hurry drink it really fast and make a big ol' mess on the floor." I guess you could say it got lost in translation.
Once we dealt with chocolatey jammies and spills, it really was quite a cute sight.

We got settled in our seats quickly and the panic started to set in with Nolan. The first 15 minutes were pretty scary for him but soon he was so much into the movie that he forgot his fears. It was an hour and a half of snuggles. I was in heaven. It was the only time Campbell was actually cooperative that day.

Grandma and Granddad came along. My mom is the biggest Polar Express fan there is known to man. This has got to be one of the worst photos ever of my children but it so perfectly demonstrates Campbell's uncooperative attitude that I had to include it.

Photobucket After meeting my sister and nieces for lunch we just happened to see Santa in the parking lot. They had a live reindeer. It wasn't so much Santa we wanted to see but the boys flipped when we saw the reindeer.

Since this is the fourth Santa we've seen in two weeks, I know Nolan must be thinking, "Ok, dude seriously you already know what I want!" But he made sure to tell him exactly what he wanted again. Santa does have a lot of children to remember after all.

The boys absolutely loved Prancer and were wondering where Rudolph was.

Another picturesque moment, right? About one minute after this was taken Campbell ran in a sprint headed straight for a very busy street. I did my best Olympic run after him and let me just tell you, I don't run unless I'm chased. We don't spank very often but this one was definitely justified since it was so dangerous. Yes, I was totally THAT parent that spanked my child in front of everyone. That's when I knew the party was definitely over. We did our walk of shame to the car, packed up and headed home.

Awww, the holidays. Gotta love them.

Next on the agenda..painting. We started painted what seems like a month ago. Justin thought it would be fun to have a little fun with the paint. Nothing that says let's have a Christmas party and company over to our home like a little graffiti on the walls.

Photobucket At least there's no doubt on who lives here and where you can find our elf, Pickles. 

Dear Santa

Oh I dread the day that my boys no longer believe in Santa. I'm completely ok with the fact that some might see them as Britney from Glee when they're in high school still believing in Santa. I'm eating up every second of this time because I know it will not last long. While I'm in the moment I just want to squeeze them and say, "Don't ever grow up! You don't even know how cute you are!" Maybe that's why I'm so obsessed with going overboard on the play-by-play documentation of their lives.

The questions about Santa are starting to come. I mean I can't blame the kid, we've seen four Santas in the past two weeks unintentionally. As for now, he's still believing. And after watching the Polar Express together, he rings the jingle bells that are sporadically spread throughout our home and asks, "Mommy, can you hear that bell?" And I say with complete confidence, "I sure do, honey!" Then I hear him ask his little brother and then explain to him that if you hear the bell that means you believe in Santa. That's when I nudge Justin with my sharpest elbow to make sure he's listening to the insane amounts of cuteness going on before our very eyes.

So despite telling the four Santas in downtown, in the Stockyards, at school, and in a random parking lot what we already wanted for Christmas, Nolan thought we better write him a letter for good measure. I found this adorable stationary at Target last year and Nolan just smiles ear to ear when we get it out.
Since we're still learning to read, I had to help out.

Campbell isn't old enough to write a letter. So what does any other two year old do while their older sibling writes a letter to Santa? Why play the guitar and sing Christmas songs in a rag-tag pajama outfit of course.


Nolan was so proud of that letter and I must say for a Pre-K kid, he's got some beautiful handwriting.

Then he gave it his best slobbery lick. Luckily, it was already addressed to the North Pole and stamped with a candy cane stamp.

With a quick run to our mailbox, the flag was up and the letter is already in Santa's hands.
Photobucket Is it obvious yet that I live vicariously through my children at Christmas?

Friday, December 17, 2010

Lovin' from the oven

If you were only allowed to eat one kind of cookie for the rest of your life...what would it be? For me? Hands down, without a doubt, homemade iced sugar cookies. I would feed it to myself intravenously, if possible.

But seriously, why do they have to be so much darn work? Not sure if it's actually a lot of work or just having a bunch of young hands in the kitchen with you is what makes it such hard work.

This mama is not a fan of gingerbread. I mean gingerbread people are cute and all but the taste, aack! But my mom is a huge lover of all things made with ginger and they are fun to squish through your fingers like it's playdough decorate, so my fat little dough boy did best little chef impersonation. He was so darn cute making them that it almost made me want to try one of those awful tasting cookies.

The best part was that my mom and nieces did all the hard work with my children so I could just sit back, pick up the camera and just delight in their love for baking with their family. There was some good-memory-making-aura going on in the kitchen that day.

Tell me my kid ain't the cutest thing using every bit of strength in those pudgy hands to make the cutest gingerbread man you ever did see.

Even my 15-year-old niece, who let's face it- I'm sure would have much rather been with friends, was right in there making that dough with the best of them.

And Nolan without prompting knew that if you really wanna do Christmas baking the right way, you know you're going to be a helper. And who's Santa's biggest helper? His elves of course! So why not dress the part. And dude, that poor elf was breaking a sweat from rolling that dough.
Cookies were eaten as quickly as they were iced and sometimes that wasn't even a requirement in order to be devoured.

Plates were intently watched and I'm positive that more were eaten than I knew about.

One thing was certain...there was no shortage of sugar!


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