Friday, December 31, 2010

Christmas Morning

Ever since I was a kid, its been a rule in our house that no one is allowed to go downstairs to see what Santa has left under the tree until everyone is awake and able to share in that moment together. So my three sisters and I would wake early in the morning, congregate at the top of the steps in our newly-christened Christmas Eve pajamas, and wait for my mom to emerge from her room so that we can all parade down the steps together. My dad has always been the one person in the house who doesn't have to abide by this rule, because he has the important job of turning on Christmas music and giving us the "thumbs up" sign for us to process down the stairs. I'm sure we have years of these moments captured on video, because he would always be there at the bottom of the steps with a camera rolling.

This year was a tad different, in that all of us girls were up and ready to parade downstairs by 8 a.m., only to be delayed by a sleeping toddler who decided to snooze until 8:45. So to pass the time, the four of us piled into one of our bedrooms, munched on M&Ms that Tara had stashed under her bed (no joke) and made a bit more noise than we usually would on any other morning that Belle decided to sleep in.

Finally, all the ladies of the house were awake, and we shared the moment together as we have for so many years. Jeremy joined the ranks of my dad this year and caught Maribelle's reaction on tape. It's pretty much adorable and melts my heart that another generation of our family is starting to enjoy the same traditions that we've experienced throughout our childhood.

Christmas Morning 2010 from Gina Moorhead on Vimeo.

Christmas Eve 2010

Let's continue with a recap of the Christmas festivities so we can start the new year with a clean slate.

Christmas Eve
Manning the fish-frying stations in preparation for Christmas Eve dinner. And see those clothes that they're wearing? I can guarantee you they had to be washed at least three times to get the fried fish smell out of them.

 Jamie and I tackled the baking this year and made some amazing cookie trays. Between the two of us we made Italian Wedding Cookies, Cheesecake Brownies, Peppermint Bark, Buckeyes, Seven Layer Cookies, Pitzelles, Pumpkin Spice Cookies, White Trash, Oatmeal Apricot Cookies and Chocolate-Dipped Pretzels. And of course we didn't think to take a picture of a finished cookie tray, but believe me, they were divine.

Tara and Jake -- the newest (and tallest) addition to the Christmas Eve cooking crew. As you can tell by his apron, he had the job of flouring all the slimey, sticky fish. It's the job we assign to all the beginners who hope to one day achieve the status of fry cook.

The head fry cook herself, Mom Amero.

Grandpa M. sampling the seven fishes. This year we had smelts, calimari, shrimp, baccala, clams, orange roughy and cod.

Maribelle enjoying some cookies with Grandma and Grandpa M.

All the girls ready for bed in our new Christmas Eve pj's and slippers.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Christmas in Maryland

You guys, what happened to Christmas? We only celebrated, like, three or four Christmases over the past week/week and a half, but it just always goes way, way too fast. I'm sitting here at my parents' house surrounded by piles of toys (I swear every toy that Maribelle received has at least 100 pieces per toy, so we're talking major clutter right now), and we still have to get them BACK to Maryland.

And unpack them.

And find a place for them in our tiny house.

Rivaling the number of toys we've accumulated are the number of photos that we've taken over the past few days.

So let's start with Christmas in Maryland, shall we? Highlights included the consigned table and chairs that I repainted and finished for her, her first bike, and a pair of Yo Gabba Gabba shoes.

Mommy and Daddy got some cool gifts too. A new pair of boots and a pair of aquamarine and diamond earrings for Mom (which sparkle like no other!) and some new clothes and toys for Dad.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Mommy's Little Helper

This past weekend, Maribelle and I spent the entire Saturday busy as little Christmas elves. We wrapped presents, we baked Christmas goodies for coworkers and neighbors and we watched various Christmas movies. It's so nice to have such a helpful little buddy around to enjoy those kind of days!

Crushing candy canes for Peppermint Bark

And of course, sampling the candy canes.

Working on stacking Rolos for Pretzel Turtles.

Decorating gingerbread men.

Going in the for the kill!

And some of the final products.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Elf on the Shelf

We started a new Christmas tradition this year, thanks to my parents, who sent Maribelle the Elf on the Shelf set. As part of the set, you get your very own family elf, whom Maribelle simply named "Elf," and also a storybook that explains the basics of the tradition. The elf is supposed to serve as a middle person between your family and Santa and sends daily reports about who has been naughty and nice. He moves to a different position (or shelf) in the house every morning, and that has become Maribelle's favorite part. We decided not to use the elf as a behavior monitor, but just use it as a fun morning tradition of playing "Where's the elf?" She gets such a kick out of finding it every morning, and she loves the elf so much that she's even taken it to daycare on a few occasions.

Here's a quick video of Belle searching for the Elf on the Shelf:

Elf on the Shelf from Gina Moorhead on Vimeo.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Santa Claus came to our town

There's nothing like having Santa Claus come to us, instead of us having to brave the crowds and traffic in order to visit a mall Santa. For one week every December, our local volunteer fire department visits all the neighborhoods in our city, and Mr. and Mrs. Claus are always in tow, greeting the kids and handing out candy canes. They ride around in a fire truck, with the lights glaring and sirens blaring and honking to the tune of "Jingle Bells." We had been waiting for them all week and finally started hearing the sirens in our neighborhood right as we were putting Belle down for the night. She seemed game for running out to meet Santa, so we grabbed her coat and a blanket and headed out to meet them right in front of our doorstep. Much to our surprise, Maribelle was ecstatic. She loved the noise, loved the candy canes and loved the fact that we got to take a picture with Santa. She talked about it the entire time as I put her to bed that night. Fingers crossed she has the same reaction to the Santa that will be at my work Christmas party next week.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Christmas Medley

More singing, except this time it's Christmas songs. Enjoy!

Belle's Christmas Medley from Gina Moorhead on Vimeo.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Oh Christmas tree(s)

One of my favorite parts about the holidays are the lights and the decorations. There's nothing like curling up on the couch at night with a mug full of hot chocolate and a super cheesy Hallmark Christmas movie while lights, candles and other various sparkly things twinkle all around you. It's so peaceful, so relaxing and just so pretty. And boy, do we have decorations. We have been blessed with some pretty spacious storage areas in our small townhouse, but I can assure you most of those spaces are packed full with Christmas decor. A great deal of it has been passed down to us by Mr. Christmas himself, my dad, who has an entire (very large) room in his basement dedicated to storing all of his holiday decor. You can say that I've inherited the decorating gene, because if it were up to me, every room in our house would have a tree, including our bathrooms. Fortunately Jeremy is a bit more moderate in his approach to Christmas decor, so he's able to reign me in. So since we put all the effort into decorating, I thought I'd share with you some photos of our Christmas trees.

Let's start in the family room, with our main tree.

What's that you say? There's an entire section of the tree that's not lit??? Hmmm, I hadn't noticed. 

Actually, the truth is, our tree EATS LIGHTS. True story. We've gone through three new strands of lights this year trying to fix the problem, and we've officially thrown in the towel. The good thing? I think I've convinced Jeremy to get a real, live tree next year to avoid all these pre-lit tree problems. SCORE!

You know those trees that are color coordinated from top to bottom and look like they belong on display in a department store? That's just not my style, at least for our main tree. I love the personality of a tree with mixed ornaments that have been collected over the years. Each one recalls a memory, either of the person who gifted the ornament, or the year/time when the ornament was purchased or received. It makes decorating our tree every year a truly special occasion.

This tree is in our dining room area, and definitely has a more coordinated feel. I like to think of this as our Dr. Suess tree. I just love the colors of the bulbs and the old-school vintage tree topper.

And the tree I'm most excited about this year is the one in Maribelle's room. I grew up having my own tree in my room, and I couldn't wait to pass along the tradition. Belle's tree is pink and sparkly and ultra girly -- a far cry from the tabletop tree I had as a kid. Her tree is decorated with vintage (durable) bird ornaments, white sparkly feathers and is topped with a white dove. It has such a beautiful soft glow at night, and I just love sitting in her dark room while gazing at the tree.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Choosey chooser

A few weeks ago we took Maribelle on our traditional trip to pick out a Christmas ornament at a place called Valley View Farms. Last year I wrote about how this momentous occasion resulted in her choosing a $5 box of German smoker cones, and I had fears that she would somehow be magnetically drawn to them again this year. Fortunately we DID mosey home with an actual ornament, but of course, it wasn't a quick or easy decision. In fact, it took an hour -- an hour of picking up an ornament, and then putting it back .... and then picking up an ornament, and putting it back. The task of pulling an ornament off of a display hook and carefully placing it back on was more of an attraction to her than the satisfaction of taking home one of the shiny baubles. I've said many times how I love that she's at the age where she doesn't want every single thing that she sees in the stores, but in this situation, it made for a LONG selection process.

Here's a brief reenactment:

Ohhhh, look at THESE pretty ornaments! So shiny! So breakable!

Hmmm, let's see here ... which one should I choose, which one should I choose ....

Ohhh, how about this pink and girly ballerina/princess one!

Or should I go with the fierce and tough crocodile? Chomp, chomp ....

Oh and look Mommy, what do you think of these fancy bird ornaments?? So sophisticated!

Hey guys, have you ever heard of these Silly Bands things? They might look really good on our tree. And you get like 10 in a pack!

No, no, that's just silly. Let me look around some more. Daddy, can you help me find an ornament??

And so, she eventually settled on her 2010 ornament: a pineapple-wielding weiner dog that looks as if it's heading for a retirement cruise to the bahamas. PERFECT!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

We celebrated ...

... Jeremy's 32nd birthday and my Aunt Tina's 50th, with brunch at our house.

... Thanksgiving, with the Amero and Bianco clans making their first-ever turkey-day treks to Maryland. We ate, we decorated and we enjoyed all the entertainment that a toddler has to offer around the holidays, like hanging a new outfit on the tree instead of an ornament.

... and finally, we celebrated my aunt and uncle's membership in the "Fifty is Nifty" club by throwing them a surprise birthday party the day after Thanksgiving. It was a total success and was made special by the fact that our entire family was there and able to celebrate together .... with large tubes of beer.

So there, I think we're all caught up now. Which is perfect, because we have plenty of Christmas happenings to report, like which ornament Maribelle picked as her 2010 tree bauble. I can assure you she actually walked away with a true, bonafide ornament this year, and not a cheery old box, like last year.