Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Twas All About Christmas

I love Christmas! I am one of those people that starts shopping on December 26th for next year's gifts. I listen to Christmas music in July. I love carefully picking out special gifts for all of the special people in my life. I love wrapping presents. I love watching others open their presents. I love the feeling of family and togetherness that comes with the season. I love reading the story about little baby Jesus. I love singing happy birthday to the reason for this season. I simply LOVE this time of year.

We begin our holiday celebrations on Christmas Eve. The family gathers together in their finery and we enjoy a delicious dinner together. Rob and I used to host the Christmas Eve dinner, but Chris has taken over this tradition for the past 2 years. Our gathering was small this year, as Uncle Scotty could not make it home. We attempt to get a family picture most years before the evening is over. Andy has made family pictures entertaining this year...posing only when HE feels like having his picture taken.
Each of the children receives a gift from Nana and Boppa on this special night. Andy opened a set of Disney Cars that he can use on his new ramp. Katie received a set of Barbie clothes and Barbie puppies that she carried around the entire evening. This year, Bobby received a miniature foosball table...he played it non-stop until it was time to head home.
"Whoa! This is so cool big brother!"

One of my favorite Christmas Eve traditions is giving the kids their new pajamas. In the past I have bought matching pajamas for all of my little ones, however since Andy was born I try to find matching pajamas just for the boys. Target (the greatest store on earth) makes this possible every year with their door buster pajamas the day after Thanksgiving. Katie, our little princess-in-training, receives a holiday nightgown. After dinner, the kids changed into their pj's and sat with Nini on the computer to find out where Santa was. It isn't usually a late night, as we all plan on rising early the next day.

Christmas morning begins at our house. Since Rob and I didn't make it to bed until after 11:30, we hoped that the little ones might sleep in just a bit. Bobby was the only one to wake up early and was very understanding when we told him that he had to wait just a bit to go out and see if Santa had been to our house.

Bobby was incredibly patient this year! Although he woke up around 6:00, we told him that it was too early for his siblings and he laid quietly at the foot of our bed watching cartoons until 7:15. He was so excited about the gifts waiting for him under the tree. His enthusiasm is as endearing as his toothy grin!

Katie was much more enthusiastic about waking up on Christmas morning this year. (Last year, she refused to get out of bed until it snowed! LOL!!!) She was up and ready to go all by herself this year. She carefully removed each item from her stocking and showed me every special gift that she had received. She "oohed" and "aahed" after opening each package and repeatedly asked how had Santa known that she had always wanted a ______________ (fill in the blank). I had so much fun just listening to her noises and watching her open her gifts this year!!!
Andy didn't quite know what to make of Christmas morning. He opened a few presents with help from Nini and Nana, but quickly lost interest in the packages. Bobby didn't mind helping his little brother out...and has enjoyed having a second set of "boy toys" to play with! We decided to add a morning brunch to our holiday traditions, since we no longer have to travel to multiple houses on Christmas morning. We had a buffet of warm bacon, spinach salad, chocolate chip coffee cake, and bacon quiche. I made Grandma Miller's famous hot cocoa to go along with the delicious food.

We spent the rest of the morning opening presents and cleaning up some of the disaster that had invaded the living room! Around 3:00, we headed back to Chris and Bob's for Christmas day at their house. Santa makes a quick stop at the house and leaves even more gifts for the munchkins at Nana and Boppa's house. The kids love seeing Santa one last time and are so excited by their extra special visit. (I'm still not sure where we are going to put all of the new toys!)

Could Bobby be any more excited???

My brother Jesse joined us on Christmas day and assisted with making a special guest appearance possible! He patiently helped sort through and pass out gifts...and even sat down in the midst of the chaos and helped out his youngest nephew with opening his presents. He let Greta, the crazy dog, jump all over him and just laughed it off. I am so glad that he was able to join our family on Christmas day and spend a little bit of time with us. I love you, little brother!!!

We end Christmas day with the adults opening their gifts and stockings. It is always a perfect ending to the holiday season.

I would like to close by wishing all of my family and friends a Merry Christmas! I hope this year was celebrated with extra love and laughter. May 2011 be a year filled with blessings for you and your family. Have a safe and happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

New Holiday Traditions: Breakfast with Santa

If you follow my blog, you know that our lives have changed drastically over the last 18 months. Each season seems to bring a new change since Melissa passed away; all of the changes have left gaps in our family traditions. We have come to a fork in the road as we face the holidays without Melissa and her girls for the first time. Do we hold onto family traditions that began 6 years ago when the first grandchild joined the family or do we create new traditions?

We made a decision as Christmas was time for new family traditions. So, the first new tradition that we began this year is an outing to Rancho Del Lago for breakfast with Santa.
The gorgeous view from the patio

Hacienda Del Lago

Chris, Courtney, Bobby, Katie, Andy and I headed out to the Hacienda Del Lago for breakfast on Saturday morning. The children began the breakfast with hot cocoa in keepsake mugs and deconstructed snowmen (aka: marshmellows). cocoa...

After going through the buffet line, we all sat down to enjoy our breakfast and make our letters to Santa. The restaurant staff had prepared a few activities on the patio for the kids. They each got to make a foam Christmas tree and decorate a sugar cookie. Then Santa made his appearance! He walked around the tables and said hello to the kids. Bobby and Katie were excited to see Santa and couldn't wait to give them their letters. Andy didn't mind handing his letter to Santa, but he didn't want to get too close.

Pictures with Santa

We all had a wonderful time and will definitely be adding this to our new list of Christmas traditions!

Friday, December 17, 2010


Last week, my dear friend Charlotte told me I had to watch "The Sing-Off" on NBC. Since we are both Gleek's, she knew I would probably enjoy it. I DVR'd it and just had a chance to sit down and watch it. Please don't laugh at me when I tell you that I cried when one of the groups sang Landslide. As one of the groups sang these lyrics, I began to cry.

Oh, mirror in the sky, what is love?
Can the child within my heart rise above?
And can I sail through the changing ocean tides
Can I handle the seasons of my life?

On Monday, the day started out with a positive tone; we were expecting to read Dave's blog update to find out how Kim's day was. The day ended with the ground crumbling beneath our feet. Kim Conca lost her fight against cancer. Although I did not have the opportunity to get to know Kim, I can still recall the few times that I spoke with her. She was a beautiful, graceful angel sent to this earth. She had the special ability of making people feel special just by being with them. Each person that has reflected on their relationship with Kim said the same thing about her...her smile and laughter were contagious. She lit up the room. She was the embodiment of love and hope. Everyone admired and respected her.

Angels come in many forms,
from helpful animals to
mysterious strangers, from
glorious heavenly angels to
earth angels, those human
beings who generously assist

My heart breaks for the Conca family. There are no words that can heal their pain. Kim is in a better place now. She is no longer suffering or in pain. I am confident that she is watching over her family and will be with them always.