Friday, January 25, 2019

The Twelve Days of Christmas

We were home only a couple of days before turning around and driving to Houston.  This was the first time we'd been to Houston since moving back to Texas.  We visited old friends and Brian's dad and stepmom.  We went to see the new Mary Poppins Returns movie.  

Judah, by this time, was so overly tired from too many late nights.  He was melting down here after the movie.

Hannah continued to work on her nail art while school is out and the girls can have unique nails.
When we got back after New Years, it was back to school for a couple of days before Epiphany.  On Epiphany, our homeschool co-op had a party after Mass (Saturday vigil.)  Isaac was in the Charlie Brown Christmas Pageant after the party.  He really enjoyed doing theater this year and making new friends.  He even did the Charlie Brown dance in the play and said his lines loud and clear.  It was very well done and my children all really loved watching it. 

Genevieve continues to pine for a parakeet for her birthday in May.

We finished up the Twelve Days of Christmas with our house blessing and writing with chalk on the front door on Epiphany.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Christmas at My Parent's

Of course, there was baby holding!  There were parties celebrating with my cousins on both sides of the family, we played many card games and family basketball games, there was cooking, and then eating.  It's the first time I've been at my parent's house for Christmas in 10 years, and I was over the moon to give my children a taste of what my Christmases were like as a child.

She's a natural!

Hannah is all about her nails lately.  She is learning to do nail art and practiced on Mimi.  See the Santa!

Somebody fell in love with Clifford's First Christmas while we were there.  I read it many times.
A few days before Christmas we hosted a potluck lunch with my cousins and aunts and uncles from my mom's side of the family.  It was wonderful to spend time with some of my cousins that I don't get to see often.  The boys ran around outside and played together so nicely.  One of my cousins actually converted to Catholicism several years ago and now they have five kids and one more on the way.  It made for a fun get together with so many kids.

My mom's side of the family in front of my parent's house, my childhood home a few days before Christmas.

Bob and Judah were with me in the bathroom so they missed out on the cousin picture, baby Savanna was nursing.

On Christmas Eve, we have a long standing tradition with my dad's side of the family.  It is a potluck finger-food dinner at one of the cousin's houses.  The kids all draw names and do a Secret Santa gift exchange since there are so many of them.  The adults all bring a gift for a White Elephant gift game.  The girls chose to be in the White Elephant gift game this year.  It was truly so wonderful to see everyone.  I had never seen some of my cousins' kids before.

The Ladies on Christmas Eve

The Kids on Christmas Eve

The Men on Christmas Eve

Before we left my parent's house...

The Secret Santa exchange got a little crazy.

Genna found another baby girl to cuddle!

On Christmas Eve we went to a Latin Mass at midnight.  We decided to take everybody, but when we went back to home base before Mass, Judah pooped out on us and wanted to go to bed.  Since there were lots of people at home, we let him stay.  Bobby was still going strong, so he went with us.  We got there at 10:45pm and the whole church was full.  We had to sit in the overflow room with a TV screen.  That was not really what we were hoping for, getting there one hour and fifteen minutes early.  Bob fell asleep about 12:15am and I put the Ergo on so I could let him be.  Kneeling on linoleum with 33 extra pounds is not nice. 

Christmas Day we stayed around the house, opened gifts, ate ham, and had a great time playing a family game of Knock Out and 2-on-2 games of basketball.  It was nice to have a relaxing day before heading back home the next day in a crazy rain storm.

Friday, January 18, 2019

St Nicholas and Santa Claus

The biggest challenge having the girls in school (and sports) is trying to squeeze in our family traditions that fall on week nights, like this one.  We had to do our stocking on St. Nicholas Day in between school and the first basketball game of the season.

Judah got this in his stocking and he's been reading me the knock knock jokes.  So cute to see this face behind a joke book over the counter while I cook.
We don't do Santa gifts since we do St. Nicholas Day gifts and it keeps the focus on Christmas Day a little closer on Jesus' birth.  However, we do recognize that the idea and legend of Santa came from St. Nicholas.  In our neighborhood, we have a man that sets up an area to greet children as Santa each year.  He's growing that beard year round.  The girls scoffed at the idea, but all the boys were game for going to take a picture with him.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

A New Cousin is Born

My sister, who lives only five minute from us, had a baby girl on December 2nd.  Her name is Savanna Reese and she weighed only 7 lbs 1 oz.  She's so tiny!  Even now, as I write this over a month later she is not as heavy as even one of my boys.  My nephew was a proud big brother.  He asked the nurse, "How did you make her?!"  It was pretty adorable.

Our family dinner was interrupted by this little dumpling and we had to wait what seemed like forever to hold her!  By the time I got my hands on her I was dying to hold this sweet thing.  

My Happy Place

Genevieve and Isaac feel the same as I do!  They ask to hold her all the time!

Mimi got a little "smile."
Such a blessing!

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

A Christmas Market in Texas?

In New Braunfels, not too far from us there was a German Christmas Market.  They had a few food items that were tested and found to be fairly authentic by our family.  It was a fun little family adventure.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Tree of Death: Nickname for Christmas Tree of 2018

Our trees have naturally had nicknames since the first year we Christmas'd in Germany in 2015.  That year, we barely moved in and received our household goods by Christmas and we just bought a tree on post from the Boy Scouts.  It was purchased late in the season, when the pickin's were slim and was a pitiful excuse for a tree so we called it the Charlie Brown Christmas Tree.

In 2016, we found a place to chop down our own tree like we had been accustomed to in Maryland.  Hannah was in a "mood" and wanted to get a huge tree.  Since we had really high ceilings, we agreed to find a big one this year.  It was about 20 feet long, just a tad longer than our van and touched the ceiling.  We dubbed it the Griswald Family Christmas Tree.

In 2017, we were very late in the season again because of all our trips.  We went to the closest place that you could cut your own tree and it was hard to find a good one.  We ended up with a super spiky one that we actually had to use gloves to put on the ornaments.  That tree was Spike.

This year, being in Texas, I wasn't even sure if you could cut your own tree, but Brian found two places.  We were pretty late in the season again which may have caused some of the problems, but the real issue was the fact that the type of trees were just not right.  These trees had fewer branches, and were not even close to the Christmas tree triangular shape.  Plus, they were tiny...

Genevieve, who'd been just itching to get our tree like we always do, jumped out of the van and took off running through the trees to find the perfect one.  She was already sad that Isaac wasn't going to be able to play their annual game of hide and seek and tag in the trees because he was recovering from his surgery and could barely walk.  She pretty quickly came running back to her daddy  in tears because the trees were so terrible.  

We ended up settling on one, but while looking around, Brian showed the kids a bug that he warned them was very dangerous, called an Assassin Bug.  It can kill you.  He had told me about this bug previously in a dinner conversation whereupon I told him to stop frightening everyone with his crazy death bug stories.  

It's even hard to distinguish our tree from the dead things in the background, right?  You have to really look for it here.

Nanna had come down to spend the day with us and accompanied us for this tradition.

We were a little amused by this point at the stark contrast between our Griswald family tree that Brian and I had to lug up three stories of stairs huffing and puffing and this one that he cut down in less than a few seconds and he could press it with one hand and not break a sweat.
 On the drive home it whistled all the way home (the air going through the tree played a melody) and so we considered the nickname "Whistling Tree."
We also got a kick out of how tiny it looked on top of our van.  See this post for the Griswald tree on our van.
 They shook the tree, we drove home with it on the roof for 45 minutes, and well into decorating it that night with our traditional cups of hot cocoa in hand, Genna spotted an Assassin bug on the tree.  I mean really!  After all that it was still hanging on tight.  Brian killed it, Hannah refused to continue to hang ornaments, and I was worrying that it was infested with the killer bugs.  We checked it over multiple times with a flash light and Brian was pretty sure it was all clear.

The next morning while doing some school work in front of the tree, Isaac and Bobby were standing in front of it talking about the ornaments.  Bob said the tree poked him, and Isaac told him to step back a step.  Then Bobby began screaming.  He indicated some how that his neck was the problem and so I am frantically looking on his neck, totally convinced their is an Assassin bug biting him on the neck, when I see a big bug crawling out from between his two shirts on the collar.  At first all I could see were legs and antennae and I start trying to flick it off of him.  He's completely panicked now and then I feel the sting as well.  Suddenly I see the culprit in his hair now.  It's a wasp.  I hit it to the floor and step on it.  I let it lie there for a while because I just wanted proof it wasn't an Assassin bug.  I called Brian and he looks more info up about the Assassin bugs and realizes the ones we saw were relatives of the bug that gives you Chagras.  Phew, that made me feel better, but I still have nicknamed this tree the "Tree of Death" because Wow! 

We only were able to fit half our ornaments on the tree and that was with putting three or four ornaments on each branch sturdy enough to hold them.  We may have to take a hiatus from cutting our own tree next year (although Brian is adamantly against a fake tree.)  I heard a story that a friend of a friend in Texas cut their own tree only to find it was infested with cockroaches after they got it home.