Monday, December 27, 2010

The Day After Christmas...

As I do EVERY year on the day after Christmas, I arrived at Target at 7am! I know it sounds crazy but the deals are way too good to pass up. It allows me the opportunity to stock up on wrapping paper, gift bags, stocking stuffers and Christmas ornaments at 50% off! It's a great time to shop because it's not like the day after Thanksgiving, the stores are much less crowded and you don't need to park your car 2 states away. I assume that this is because most people are still recovering from Christmas the day before. Nonetheless, this year I was on a bit of a mission for my sister, who was traveling early that morning to Michigan for a wedding of a close family friend. She tasked me to find and buy her 3 items: a card holder (to display her Christmas cards in), a pre-lit Christmas tree and wrapping paper. Well at least I accomplished 1 out of 3 and bought her plenty of wrapping paper.  I found a lot of great finds and even got brand new flannel sheets for our king sized bed for $9.99.

Additionally, in recent years, on the day after Christmas, we gather with Todd's other side of  the family. This is his dads side of the family (not to be confused with his moms side that we celebrate with on Christmas Eve). This year was the first Christmas without Grandad (he left this earth on April 6, 2010). We miss Grandad very much but we know that he is in a much better place now and is reunited with O.B. and Sasha.

We reserved a room and met at Sycamore Glen Retirement Community; this is where Granny lives. There we gathered with Todd's uncles, aunts (uncles wives), cousins, cousins spouses and all of their children. We typically meet around 1pm, eat lunch and hang out for a few hours. Of course we ate lots of yummy food and delicious desserts and we catch up with some of the family we haven't seen in sometime. Stella loves meeting up with her 10 other cousins, hanging out and playing with them as sometimes this is the only time she gets to see them all year.

Granny and Jonah (her 12th great grandchild).

For most of this side of the family this was the very first time they met Jonah. Some of the family lives out of town, out of state or very far north. Of course Jonah was loved by all and had a great time too!

Jonah is now Granny's 12th great grandchild and 5th great grandson. Initially the boys took the lead but in recent years the girls have pulled ahead. We will have to see what the numbers look like after Jen and Tyler (Todd's sister and brother in law) have their twins this summer. I'm secretly rooting for the girls to remain in the lead.

Jonah and Mandy.

K.T. showing Granny her horse.

Hank giving Granny some art he made for her.

Pheobe and K.T. get in on the action with Lexy, Susan, Greg and Elayne.
Elayne and Jonah.

Uncle Pat and Mandy.

The wonderful part about Christmas is it allows us to gather with family sometime whom we haven't seen in some time. Christmas is also a time that I find myself pausing to thank Mary for the wonderful gift she delivered to us on Christmas. It's in these moments that I realize how lucky and blessed I am!

Here's to many many more Christmas's surrounded with family and friends!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Merry Christmas (rounds 2, 3 & 4)

ROUND 2- Nana & Papi's

Jonah less than thrilled about his car seat.

After we celebrated Christmas as a family at home it was time to head over to Nana & Papi's (Todd's parents), then to Teta & Gido's (my parents) homes and finally to the Migally's to visit with more family. We loaded up the kids and the presents and began our journeys around town. It's typically a really long day for us and the kids but thankfully we only have to do it once a year. By about the 3rd or 4th stop, I think I'm more pooped than the kids but we have to make everyone happy and so we make our rounds.

When we arrived to Nana & Papi's we exchanged gifts with Todd's parents, siblings and their spouses. It was a lot of fun and as tradition has it, each year a few gag gifts seem to make their way into the mix. This year we bought Todd's little brother, Scott, a 6 can belt holster (for beers of course). We thought that he would get great use out of it tailgating at the Bengals games. Scott really liked it and it seemed to fit him well. I assume that this item will get a lot of use during football season. Here's to hoping that the Bengals don't suck next year so they can actually go to the games and tailgate.

Scott showing off his tailgating skills.

Todd received a gag gift from his parents; the butt bank. When you put coins in the crack, it farts! Needless to say Papi had a handful of pennies on hand ready to demonstrate. We got quite a laugh out of it and now the butt bank proudly sits in the bathroom in the man cave (aka the basement).Why is it that men love potty humor?

Todd proudly displaying the butt bank.

One of Stella's favorite presents was the Toy Story collection book she received. Stella loves to read, a trait that I am very happy about and she also loves the movie Toy Story. We've watched all 3 Toy Story movies more times than I care to share. She even dressed up as Buzz Lightyear for Halloween one year.

Toy Story is cool.

ROUND 3- Teta & Gido's

Next we were off to Teta & Gido's house. On the way over, Stella says from the backseat "I sure hope Teta goes overboard this year." I find it hysterical that my 7 year old knows that her grandmother tends to buy way too many presents! It seems that Teta has set a precedent and of course Teta didn't disappoint and instead of a few meaningful presents as we had previously discussed she gave Toys R' Us a run for their money and spoiled the kids rotten! Let's just say that the entire trunk of our Tahoe was filled to the brim with presents. We were joking that we may need to upgrade to a suburban just to accommodate Teta's foolishness at Christmas.

Stella opening her personalized lap desk

Sophie and her reindeer pen.

This year before we opened presents we gave Stella and Sophie a little pep talk. We explained to them that if they tear through opening their presents like they've done in years past (because of their excitement) then they would be done opening in 5 minutes and wouldn't enjoy it and become bored while the rest of us opened our presents. They took our advice in stride and the first 3-5 presents they opened they took their time and even took turns opening. Well that didn't last very long because before you knew it there was paper everywhere and absolute chaos ensued. Well at least they tried and made a valiant effort. Right? We tried to keep their big gift until the end. They each received a Nintendo DS from Teta and Gido. Sophie as been wanting one for months and Stella's screen was broken on hers so she needed a new one. Of course when they opened it they both went nuts!

Jonah slept amidst the chaos.

Amazingly enough, Jonah somehow slept through the girls excitement and chaos. I am sure that this will be the ONLY year that he sleeps through opening presents. Thankfully the girls graciously volunteered to open Jonah's presents for him and even more chaos ensued. Jonah may have only been a tad over 3 months old at Christmas but  he got just as spoiled as Stella and Sophie. I haven't even begun to figure out where I am going to put all of the kids new stuff.

This is just Jonah's pile of loot!

The highlight of the day was Mike receiving one of his most favorite presents ever! Mike loves Iron Man and even has an Iron Man tattoo on his arm. Thus when he opened his Iron Man toy from Teta and Gido he was so ecstatic.  Yes Teta and Gido even buy toys for the big kids too!

Me likey Iron Man!
After all of the present were opened, all of the wrapping paper was picked up and the girls began to take inventory of all of their new gifts: here is what we found.... Yes that's both Todd and Mike passed out on the couch. Life is so rough, right? What I love the most is that Mike passed out with all of his presents still on his lap. It must have something to do with all of the wonderful food Teta prepared combined with all of the excitement and fatigue that comes from opening all of their gifts.

Rough life!

Later on in the evening Stella, Sarah and Sophie were all playing with their new electronic toys. Santa, in combination with Teta and Gido really spoiled the kids this year. Santa was especially crazy for getting the 2 crazies (aka Stella and Sophie) i-pods!

Sophie showing off her new i-pod and earphones.

Finally, once Jonah woke up, I changed him into one of his many new "My First Christmas" outfits compliments of who else- TETA!

Of course the girls wanted in on the action too! I love how much they both adore Jonah. You would never know that Sophie is just his cousin. She loves him as if he was her own little brother. Jonah is one lucky little man, he has 2 wonderful sisters that will always watch over him and love him.

They just love and adore him!

Photo shoot time with Teta and Gido....

We love Teta and Gido!

We love our grandchildren!

Gido with his little buddy Jonah!

ROUND 4- The Migally's

Before the day was over we had to stop over to see my cousins that were in town for the holidays. Growing up we were so lucky to have so many cousins that lived close by. It was a ton of fun and we have memories that last a lifetime. However, now that all of us are grown and some of us are married we all don't live in the same city anymore. Between, New York, Chicago, Washington DC, Egypt and Dubai all of us have roots in different cities and its the holidays or celebrations (i.e. weddings) that bring us all back together. It was really nice to stop by and see everyone before everyone headed back to their homes.

Nada and Jonah!

Fred (aka Farida) and Jonah!

Christmas is such a wonderful time of year. We are blessed to have so many friends and family to share it with! Here's to many more holiday and more wonderful memories!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas (round 1)

Stella, Jonah and Daddy coming down the stairs!
Finally Christmas Day was upon us! Thankfully Stella and Jonah both slept in and didn't get us up until about 8am. Whats funny is that we told Stella the night before that if she woke up before 8am not to even come into our room because we would send her back to bed. We'll have to remind her of that each year- seemed to have worked! Like every year, mommy has to get the action shot (photo) of the family coming down the stairs.

First thing Stella did once she came down the stairs was run over to the plate of cookies and milk we had left out the night before. "Yup Santa was definitely here!" Stella exclaimed. Of course Santa ate the cookies and even finished his milk. We made sure only to leave out 2 cookies since Santa has to eat so many cookies at each stop. I am sure that Santa is very thankful that we are considerate of his diet. I mean we wouldn't want Santa to eat too many cookies- geez.

Stella and Jonah with the stockings

Next Stella ran to the stockings and found that there was loot left in her stockings and presents stacked underneath wrapped from Santa. Todd and I have debated year after year whether to wrap Santa presents because we each had different experiences as children. Santa wrapped my presents growing up and Santa did not wrap Todd's. After a long debate and a Facebook poll, I decided that Santa was going to wrap the presents this year! I don't think Todd really cared either way, he just didn't want to get stuck wrapping them but since I had a few days off from work before Christmas and Stella was at daycare, I had ample opportunity to get them wrapped up. Also to avoid the obvious handwriting dilemma on the presents (because I noticed that Santa always seemed to have the same handwriting as my mom growing up), Santa wrapped Stella's presents in purple penguin paper and Jonah's in blue snowmen paper.

Stella with her Santa presents
At our house Santa brings 3 presents for each child since baby Jesus received 3 presents on his birthday. Also since Santa has to carry so many presents for all of the other boys and girls he only has enough room on his sleigh for 3 presents per child. This does not count whats left in the stockings of course! Typically Santa brings 3 major presents- this year he brought Stella an i-pod shuffle, an alarm clock and a digital camera. Jonah got toys since we didn't keep any of Stella's baby toys. Stella's stocking loot included Pokemom cards, crayons, coloring book, OSU earmuffs, gloves and candy. Jonah had a few books, rattle and teethers.  Buckeye received a box of dog treats and mommy and daddy had candy in their stockings.

Stella with her stocking.

Of course Stella and Jonah exchanged presents with each other. Stella had a great time picking out a toy for him at the toy store. She picked out a cute little blue elephant that when you press it's nose it makes an elephant noise and shakes and vibrates. It's very very cute and she was so excited to give it to him.I love how much she adores him. Jonah got Stella 2- 100 piece puzzles; a Toy Story 3 and a Spongebob puzzle.

Jonah and his loot!
After all of the presents were opened and the family room looked like a bomb had gone off we made Christmas breakfast. This year I let Stella picked out our Christmas breakfast. We had homemade (and by homemade I mean straight out of a cylindrical can) sticky Cinnabon cinnamon rolls, juice and coffee for mommy. Stella enjoyed icing the rolls when they came out of the oven- and boy they were delicious!

After breakfast it was time to get dressed, ready, load up the car and begin to make our rounds....

Friday, December 24, 2010

'Twas the night before Christmas...

Do any of us ever really outgrow the little child inside who looks at Christmas with wonder? NO! 

To a child and to most of us the season is so magical. It is the innocence of children and how they look at Christmas that makes this holiday so so fun! In recent years, when Todd and I have created our own family traditions with Stella and now Jonah, I have been reminded about how much I loved Christmas growing up and how some of those wonderful memories influence the new traditions we have now started with our family.

Of course you must remember that Christmas is so much more than presents, decorations, marketing and commercialization that society tries to cash in on. It's about the most precious gift that Mary gave us, the birth of our Savior. Society sometimes overshadows the meaning of Christmas. In fact it's gotten so bad, you can't sing Christmas carols that include Jesus Christ's name in the secular arena (apparently it's not politically correct). We don't want to offend anybody (even though America was founded on the Judeo-Christian ethic). This year Obama even referred to a Christmas tree as a "holiday tree" yet he still called a menorah a menorah and not a candlestick holder. Bottom line, it all about remembering that HE is the reason for the season!                 
Stella and I making caramel pretzel treats!
 We really enjoyed getting ready for the holidays this year! Stella helped me decorate around the house, reminded me that we needed to purchase a stocking for Jonah ("so that Santa will know where to deliver his presents'), helped me wrap presents (the ones that weren't her's of course) and even helped me make some Christmas goodies.Stella enjoys arts and crafts projects to I bought her a few kits to keep her busy!
Stella painting ornaments

On Christmas Eve, we headed to Mamooses (Todd's maternal grandmother) house. On this evening we celebrate with Todd's moms side of the family. If you know anything about Mamoose you know that she is one hell of a cook and always has quite a spread of food with all of the fixings! She also loves Christmas and loves to begin shopping for it as early as August or September. Each year we have an Annual Mamoose Shopping Extravaganza (Sandy coined and named this annual event). All of us meet her at Macy's and pick out our presents and she treats us to lunch. These shopping events last several hours and usually all of us are totally pooped afterward and Mamoose like the Energizer Bunny could keep going!
Stella and Mamoose!
This year was Jonah's first Christmas Eve at Mamoose's. He seemed to enjoy himself and both he and Stella were quite spoiled!

Jonah taking it all in.
Jonah and Aunt Sandy
One of my favorite traditions that my parents began when my sister and I were children and we have continued with Stella and Jonah is when Santa's Elves deliver us Christmas pj's on Christmas Eve. This year, just like every year, the elves vigorously ring the doorbell and leave brand new Christmas pj's for each of us. Those elves are extremely generous!  After we put on our Christmas pj's,  we went out into the front yard and sprinkled reindeer food (some concoction of glitter and crushed corn flakes) all over the front yard for the reindeer's so they could find our house. Finally it was time to leave out Santa's milk and cookies and head up to bed! 

Pj's from the elves.
Sprinkling reindeer food outside.

Cookies and milk for Santa!

 "Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good-night!"

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Church Christmas Pageant

Sunday, December 19th was our church Christmas Pageant. Unfortunately I was feeling well and couldn't attend but Todd took the kids and captured some great moments. Some of the highlights included, Stella as the star in the nativity scene and Jonah sitting on Santa's lap!

Stella as the star!

So fitting that Stella was the star as her name means star!

There's mommy's little star!

Jonah was in an adorable Christmas outfit earlier in the day but had a little accident and ended up in his shark jammies!

Here's Jonah and Daddy!

Stella, Jonah and Santa!

 Sophie and Santa!

Jonah & his Gido!

Jonah with is "My First Christmas" Santa hat (compliments of Teta of course)!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Frosty the Snowman

Well leave it to Teta (my mom) to buy yet another toy that sings and dances. When Stella was a baby each holiday when Hallmark released their newest musical toy she had to buy it for her. Needless to say she is Hallmarks best customer and we now have an entire bin of holiday toys that sing and dance thanks to her. So this past weekend, in keeping with tradition, when she found Frosty at Hallmark she had to buy it and Jonah just loves it (see video below)- so how can I possibly be upset.

Jonah enamored with Frosty!

Jonah staring intensely at Frosty!

                                               Big sister Stella enjoying Frosty with Jonah!