Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Christmas Eve

On Christmas Eve, we met at my parents' house before Mass.  

We had to get to St. Paul's at 3:45 for the 4:30 pm service.  P and I passed the time by taking selfies.

Can we discuss the spiky hair and bowtie?? This is just how I want to remember him when he's a grown up.  Big cheeks and all.

Welp, considering they had to sit in church for 2 hours, their behavior was ok.  God Bless our family members for putting up with children crawling/hugging/fighting over them on what was supposed to be a spiritual experience!

SO thankful for these peeps I'm blessed to call family! XOXOXO

After Mass we went back to my parents' house, and the kids opened presents.

Preston got a suitcase to match M&A's.

Madeline was so excited about a jewelry box to hold all of her "jewels".  Andrew got a remote control dinosaur, that I think we've all enjoyed just as much as him.

We bought Lilo an elf outfit.  We could NOT stop laughing.  These poor dogs.

After presents, it was time for Christmas carols.  Preston and his BFF Uncle Ryan sang Jingle Bells, and GiGi gave her annual Christmas Eve performance of "Silent Night".  As she started to sing, Andrew started screaming/crying and saying, "Why does GiGi always have to sing this??" And then he went and hid behind a chair.  We could. Not. Stop. Laughing. 

Once Andrew calmed down, we read the Christmas Story from the Bible.  Madeline and Andrew unwrapped baby Jesus and placed them in their respective mangers.  Thank goodness GiGi and Poppy have multiple Nativity scenes, lest we have my children fighting over baby Jesus on Christmas Eve.

We changed clothes, poured ourselves a beverage and walked down to the Bekelja's Christmas Eve party.  The "kids" took our annual Christmas Eve picture.  20+ years and running!  We were only missing 1 out of 11 this year!

 GiGi and MiMi with their littlest grandchildren.  The others wouldn't sit still long enough for a picture.

BFFs.  Love you, Kelly!  And I'm SO happy that our kids have each other.  

After a few hours of partying, we changed the kids into their PJs and drove home.  Andrew promptly fell back asleep on our floor...

...until we uttered the words "cookies for Santa."  We had to make sure the big man had his goodies!

Christmas Decor

Yes, Christmas feels like MONTHS (instead of weeks) ago, but I wanted to write about our Christmas decor, not that any of you care, but:
1.  Every year I can't remember what we put where.  So now I have it.  I'll thank myself later.
2.  We have some pretty random things around this house, and one day I'd like my kids to know why...

SO.  Terrible picture, but I am LOVING the larger mantle!  The deer and sign are new.  Hard to tell, but our elf Donald is sitting on the deer's antlers.  Donald shows up the day after Madeline's birthday (our elf is so thoughtful not to upstage her).  Every morning we move him back to the mantle with salad tongs, because we "don't want Preston to touch him."

This little tree is on our kitchen counter.  Jon bought it for me when we were dating in college.  No pic, but on the other side of the bow is an angel that he made for the tree.  And a fake purple bird named "Barb" that I bought at the Sears sample store when I worked at the corporate office in Chicago.  It's a long story with inside jokes, so I'll spare you that one.  Barb stays on the mini tree because it reminds me of Chicago days and friends.

We have a fake tree, so every year I buy this Christmas tree scented candle from Cracker Barrel so that the house smells like Christmas.  The candle crackles like a fire (which we have but I refuse to light because of the kids).  It's so cozy, but the crackling sound drives Jon crazy.  He puts up with it for me. :)  The truck is there because it's cute.  What's not cute how often P tried to climb on the bar to "play with the (glass) truck."

I traded out the usual kitchen decor and put up these things.  The handprint tree is my favorite! We made it when Preston was 1 month old, Andrew was 2 and Madeline was 5.  

This little sign was a new addition, but I put it in a location where I knew we'd see it often. :)

We revamped the entryway a few months ago, which added another space to decorate.  The little white box under the table holds Christmas cards we've received in previous years.  The kids love looking for their friends.

These three pictures will always be part of our Christmas decor:
1.  The random house in Chicago with 3482876 inflatables in the front yard, because it's funny (at least to me).
2.  Current picture of the kids with Santa
3.  Professional pic of Fergie under a Christmas tree, which was taken before our human children graced us with their presence.
4. (not pictured) We keep up a picture of Jon, Mark and Ben catching snowflakes in their mouths from when they came to visit us in Chicago.  On that day we went sledding and there was SO much snow.  I won't hold my breath for a moment like that in Houston anytime soon, but at least we have our memories.

M & A take turns decorating the small chalkboard for the current holiday.  This year it was Madeline's turn to decorate it for Christmas (and on today...Jan still looks like this...)

Should have taken a close up, but at the base of the lamp is a figure of Santa kneeling next to baby Jesus.  Gerilyn had one growing up, and she gave one to each of us kids a few years ago.  I LOVE the symbolism and meaning behind it.  All Christmas season, Andrew tried to cover up the baby Jesus because he said "Jesus wasn't born yet."

This porcelain nativity scene was a wedding gift, and I love it.

What I love even more is that Andrew scattered the reindeer and Santa amongst the scene because "they wanted to celebrate Jesus."

SO.  I found these adorable vintage looking pillow covers on a daily deal website for a great price.  One says "Merry Christmas" inside of a wreath and the other is a red car with a tree on top.

Well, I apparently missed the part that said the covers were 12"x12".  Oops.

The TREE!  9 Christmases and running, but this thing is on its last leg. Regardless, I still love it, even though it's lopsided and most of the lights are burned out (we ran strands through it this year).  Most of the ornaments match, but I also keep ornaments that the kids have made at school high on the big tree so that little hands don't get to them.

My big new addition this year....lighted GARLAND!  :) :) :)  The outlet placement in our house is strange, so I was on a search for battery operated garland.  I found a GREAT deal on garland from Frontgate, and caught it on a day that was buy 1 get 1 free.  I wanted to wrap it on the stairs too, but needed 45 ft total.  Because of the B1G1 deal I ended up with 54 ft and only paid for 27 ft.  And when I took it out of the box, I realized I measured for length and not for width, and these things are HUGE.  So big that we couldn't walk between the stairs and the couch, and it was scratching the kids as they walked upstairs.  And two came slightly damaged, so they sent me two new ones.  So now I have 72 ft of garland for 27 ft of space.  (Insert biggest eye roll ever from my husband.  Thank goodness he's a good sport!)  But isn't it pretty???? :)

These are our upstairs trees, which I let the kids decorate.  They hang ornaments they've received as gifts and other special things they make during the season.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

New Orleans Trip / Noto Family Christmas

On the Sunday before Christmas each year, our Noto Family in Louisiana has "Noto Family Christmas."  On years that we don't make it to New Orleans for Thanksgiving, we try to make it for this celebration.

The kids had a half day on Friday (the last day of the semester) so we left as soon as they got out of school.  Thanks to an iPad and movies, the kids did great on the drive.  The next morning we enjoyed some outdoor time at JuJu's house.  Pistol taught the kids how to ride his three wheel bike.

Later that morning we took the kids to the Audubon Zoo.  One of our favorite books is "What the Sleepy Animals Do at the Audubon Zoo."  We all enjoyed finding the various animals/places talked about in the book.  

A New Orleans classic: Roman Candy.  

Monkey Hill, located in the zoo, is one of the highest points in New Orleans, and mentioned in the book mentioned above.

As the kids were rolling down the hill and playing, we heard Madeline yell, "I lost a tooth!"  Sister swallowed a tooth on Monkey Hill.  That's a fun story. :) (And yes, the tooth fairy still came).

Lots of Aunts/Uncles means lots of helpers.  And can we discuss how attached Preston is to Uncle Ryan??

My dad, Pistol and Madeline walking though the zoo holding hands.... <3 p="">

...and the three of us all dressed alike.

We picked up some shrimp and oyster po' boys for lunch, took naps, and got ready for our big activity  of the night....

For my kids' birthday present, JuJu rented out this out this vintage firetruck to go look at Christmas lights around the french quarter.  The best part?  We could throw beads off of it.  The kids were in heaven and the adults had a pretty good time too!

Preston really enjoyed the lights.  He was saying, "It SO pretty!"

As Madeline was throwing beads she said, "Are we in a parade?"

We stopped at Frenchman Street and the Roosevelt Hotel.

Traffic isn't so bad when you have this view.

For as happy as Preston was, I think Andrew had 10X more fun. Although for the next week, every day P asked "I go on firetruck?"

We got back to the house and had hot chocolate, even though it was still 70 degrees outside.

By the next morning a cool front had blown in and the temperature dropped by 30 degrees.  Preston cuddled with Pistol and the big kids drew pictures.

We got dressed for church and took the opportunity to take some festive pictures.

After church we drove to Slidell to Gina and Ronda's house for the Christmas party.  Before we left New Orleans, we drove by the house my dad grew up in.  They got a big kick out of seeing "Poppy's house when he was a kid."

Once we were in Slidell we were so happy to see our family members...

 ...and stuff our faces with ridiculously good food.

Cousin Bella, we missed you!

The Hostesses with the Mostesses

MiMi is always with us in spirit.

After lunch the kids had a special visitor.  Check out Andrew's face.

After a visit from Santa it was time for the White Elephant gift exchange.  Aunt Jill was ready with her megaphone.

We spent the night in Slidell.  The little people were up early the next morning and it was COLD! Andrew and Preston were admiring the ducks playing outside.

The kids were well behaved on the way home.  They slept well, did good in the car and stayed healthy so we hit the trip jackpot.  We love the time we get to spend in Louisiana!