Monday, December 30, 2013

Trip to New Orleans

The weekend before Christmas we headed to New Orleans to visit with family and attend the annual Noto family Christmas party.  We got there Friday evening and started off with dinner and a dance party with JuJu and Pistol Pete...because that's how we roll.
Saturday morning Jon and I took the kids to City Park.  The kids could spend all day there.

Saturday night my Aunt Julie rented a bus for all the family and some friends to go look at Christmas lights in the French Quarter.  We stopped at 5 different hotels to look at their decorations.

 Aunt Gina and Aunt Ronda had cups made that said "Merry Christmas: Noto - One Big Italian Family"

 Someone was excited.
The Roosevelt Hotel

Street Car on Canal Street

Fulton Street Fun: Madeline, Andrew, Elle, Bella and Lane
 I'll let you guess which one of us was over served.
 So glad that Emily (Aimee's BFF) was able to make her first trip to New Orleans with us.  Sorry about that hand grenade incident. :)  Love you!

Dad and Pistol Pete with his siblings (minus Aunt Peggy)

Some of Pistol's grandkids and great-grandkids 

The crew
 Giant gingerbread house at Harrah's Hotel.  This year it was a replica of CafĂ© du Monde. If they make a replica of the Cathedral I'll make a special trip just to see it.

Madeline and Bella

We toured the decor at the Omni, where my Aunt Julie worked for 20+ years.  Lots of fun memories here!

On Sunday we went to Aunt Gina and Aunt Ronda's house for the big Noto Family Christmas Party.  The party revolves around what the Saints game comes on, which was at noon.  So the first few hours were eating and watching football. 

We ate grilled artichokes, fresh salmon, brisket sandwiches, chicken and sausage gumbo, crab quiche and crawfish cornbread dressing. 
And desserts.  Now I'm hungry. 
After the game we had a white elephant style gift exchange.  Everyone brings a $25 gift.  Candles are banned and alcohol is usually the most popular item.  Imagine that. :)
Proof that there's a method to the madness.  If anyone wants to steal, they can consult the master list in case someone is trying to hide something.
 And don't you dare try to steal after a gift has been frozen.  These two will make sure you'll regret trying break the rules.
The evening concludes with a Christmas sing along, but not with traditional carols.  That would be too easy.  Since the mid-90's Aunt Ronda has been re-writing carols to make them relevant to Noto Family current events.  Favorites include "Aimee The Last Born Noto" (sung to Rudolph) and "Christmas at the Condo Once Again" (sung to Winter Wonderland).  My sweet little Madeline was convinced that these are real songs.  On Christmas morning, when "Winter Wonderland" came on Pandora, Madeline said, "Mommy!  It's Christmas at the Condo Once Again!". 
Click this link for proof.

 Doesn't everyone have mini guitars and tambourines for a sing along?  
After the party we went back to JuJu's house where my children decided they would pretend to be baby tigers and clean her floors while growling. Random, I know.

We left Monday morning to come home and I happened to catch this rare moment: My kids sharing AND smiling about it!

Christmas Activities

December was one crazy month, but we had LOTS of FUN! 

Decorating for Christmas
We put up Christmas decorations before Thanksgiving.  This year we had two kids anxious to put up the star.

A Visit to Santa
We started December with a visit to Santa Claus.  The kids did well, and Andrew was more interested in the train next to Santa rather than Santa himself.  Madeline told him she wanted a bike and he asked if she wanted make up.  We were one of the first visitors that day, so I'm hoping Santa was just warming up. :)

Spa Day
My mom, Maria, Niki and I spent the day at the Trellis Spa in Houston, using up some gift certificates we had been given.  It was nice to get some quiet girl time, and hanging out in a spa from 9am-3pm in a robe doesn't suck either. :)

Lights in the Heights
Our friends Arielle and Nick hosted a party at their house for Lights in the Heights.  The kids enjoyed the cookies (notice Andrew's face) just as much as the lights.  Their favorite part is always the different bands that play on porches.  They took turns riding on Jon's shoulders.

Little missy skipped her nap that day and passed out in the wagon.
Christmas Train
We drove to Alvin to ride the Christmas Train with our friends, the Badeaux's.  The kids were too excited to stand still for a picture.

Madeline, Case at hot chocolate

Christmas Party with Friends
We hosted a Christmas party for our friends for the 4th year in a row.  It was lots of fun, and Santa (my friend Valerie's dad) made an appearance!

Looking for Santa
He's here!

Kids waiting for their presents

Mommy pic.  This might be the first where no one was pregnant!
Looking at Lights in our PJ's
One night we went to look at Christmas lights in our PJ's.  I took the opportunity to get some pics of the kids in Christmas PJ's since I knew Christmas morning would be crazy.

 This sums it up.

Gingerbread House
Jon and the kids decorated a gingerbread house.

This is what happens when Daddy is in charge.

Class Parties
Both kids had class Christmas parties. 

I love watching Madeline and her friends from class.  They are so cute together.

 The PK 3 kids had a brunch in their PJ's, complete with homemade waffles.
Best friends and double trouble!  And super cute. :)

Halfway through brunch one of the kids remembered that they had forgotten to say grace before they ate.  All of the kids immediately stopped eating and prayed.  It was too cute.

Whew!  We were busy bees and had lots of fun preparing for Christmas!