Monday, December 29, 2014

Yet Another Very Merry Christmas in Ohio (2014)

We are back in the ATL after a great Christmas in Ohio.
Our plan was to drive up and stop in Asheville for a night so my brother Brrrian could ride with us.  He decided he just wanted to hang at his cabin, so we hopped on a flight instead.  One hour flight as opposed to 12 hours driving? That was a no brainer.  Just one showing of AristoCats and we arrived without incident!

Getting a flight back was hard (as it is every year!) but we didn't want to think about that a week in advance.
My parents house was all decked out with lights.  And even though not a professional job (ha!), it looked pretty great!

Yet my dad still had some lights left that were not working, so "the pros" got to work and in no time we had this tree wrapped!

Being there several days before Christmas allowed Ernesto and I to have a date night and finish up our shopping sans kids.  (thanks mom and dad!)  It was wonderful!  We leisurely perused several different stores, ate a delicious dinner and caught a movie.  Oh and we went to Starbucks - twice!! We were out til 1am.  Yeah, we are wild and crazy like that!  It was our first time in a movie theatre in 3 years! So sad.  At least we picked the right movie to see after our hiatus.  Gone Girl!  OMG.  Go.  See.

Unfortunately, the weather did not deliver this year and it was a white wet Christmas.  Last year the kids were being pulled on a "sled" in the snow and this year?
Wheelbarrow rides in the soggy grass.  Reliably though, we had full days of family fun!  Bread was made, cookies frosted and thrift stores scoured presents wrapped! 
Several get togethers were at my brother Bill's house starring the Hostess with the Mostest.

Who looks good in a bow encrusted skirt?  She does!  Who is always prepared to feed everyone delicious, healthy food? She is!   Who takes 5 million pictures (literally!) and always send out a photo Christmas card? She does! Whose every shelf/wall/inch of the house is decorated with Christmas decor?  It''s Super Barbie!!  Who is going to load up on after Christmas sales? Me! That's right!  I need more more more!! It just feels so special.  Thanks for the inspiration Barb!!

It's so fun seeing the little cousins together.  Mateo follows [5 year old] Eleanor around like a little puppy dog and it's adorable.  They watched The Grinch one night curled up together in a chair.  Too Cute.

On Christmas Eve, Mateo was waaaaaaay to excited/tired to go to bed.  Back and forth, in and out of bed.  I must have tucked him in at least 10 times.  I got frustrated, raised my voice and he I ended up in tears putting him to bed.  Ugh!  Oh the guilt.  That did not feel very Christmasy Mami.  Thank God my sister was right there to crack a joke at the perfect time and make me laugh.  ps. Parenting is hard.
Amazing how much better you feel after a good night sleep, right?
Christmas morning started at 7am and boy were these guys excited when they walked out and saw that Santa had eaten the cookies we left for him and left all of this-

They worked on beheading the chocolate santas in their stockings until grandma and grandpa were seated to watch the chaos that is Christmas morning.

We opened all our gifts from Santa and to eachother before the rest of the fam came over to my moms.  Mateo had so much fun tearing through his presents barely stopping to see what was inside.

Marcelo, on the other hand, could barely be convinced to open another.  He wanted to stop and play with each gift.  His big brother urged him to move on.

Mateo could not understand why there were still unwrapped presents under the tree when we were finished.  I told him they were gifts we were GIVING.  He wouldn't stop checking with me though that I missed one that was his.

In fact, later I found two unwrapped presents behind my bed.  He had snuck back there to open them.  I guess the suspense was just killing him.

His excitement reminds me  However, I would never ever go as far as sneaking to open a gift.  I hate spoiled suprises.

Finally after everyone arrived, we enjoyed a delicious Christmas meal of ham, cheesy potatoes, broccoli casserole (both lo-cal dishes!) salad and my mom's homemade bread....and we got to the presents!!!

...and the annual [obligatory] family pictures 
Girls, girls girls!

Mateo got a lot of new puzzles and games...we tried out the Spanish bingo (ie: Loteria) and it was a hit!

...and of course Santa didn't forget this little boys obsession with garbage trucks and trash bins.

The kids had a little dance party to Mateo's current favorite song:  Stolen Dance by Milky Chance.

It took the boys all of five minutes to fall asleep that night.

We were mentally prepared to rent a car and drive home because there were so many other standbys flying to Atlanta.   We thought we would try for the 7am flight and then rent the car right there at the airport if we didn't make it.
As luck had it, we squeezed on that  flight.  Kids were excited, parents relieved!
The last minute jetway run and counting Delta planes.

We were home a couple hours later!  Waiting for our chauffeur to pick us up curbside.
It was nice to come home to a house that was pretty clean and a christmas tree wasn't totally dead! Yeah!

I hope all of you had a wonderful christmas too!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

The Christmas Season in [iPhone] Pictures

I have been too busy to put together a proper post, so I thought Id better dump some pictures off of my phone just so you know Im still alive.  We still have some customers left but we are on the homestretch. Hopefully you will be hearing from me a lot more frequently.  Just like the picture says......

I LOVE how Christmas transforms the feel of the house.  Just makes me want to light a fire in the fireplace and curl up on the couch.

We bought a tree and put up our decorations the first week of December.

Mateo was a big help in picking out the tree and helped papi get it off the car and into the house.

On December 6th night we left our shoes out on the window sill for St. Nick.  You leave your Christmas wish list and Santa leaves you little treats in your shoe.  Do you guys do this too?

When I was little Santa always left us chocolates, nuts (with shells) and a piece of fruit.  Funny enough he is still bringing the same thing 30 years later. (Ok 40 years)
There wasn't much time for shopping the last couple months, but once when I stopped in the Goodwill, I found these awesome lucite (ish) reindeer (for $7!!)  and couldn't put them in my cart fast enough.  (I saw one at TJmaxx last year for $50!)

Of course, one hour after they arrived home one antler was broken.  (I won't mention any names) Nothing a little super glue can't fix. I hope.

And although I had put this gold flatware on my Christmas wish list this year, when I saw this set at HomeGoods, I had to go ahead and snatch it up.  An early gift to myself.

So nice, right?  After searching several more stores, I was able to secure one more box.  I now have service for 8 [at half price of West Elm] and I WILL be having a "gold flatware dinner party" to inagurate them into my kitchen.  Now...Who will be the lucky 7 to be invited?

Ernesto has been working now for a couple months straight and the boys are still crazy excited every night when he calls to say he will be turing onto our street.  We run outside and wait on the porch for him to toot his horn.   All our neighbors know when he is done working for the day!

Cookie time!

This picture looks really cute and fun, but those of you who have young kids know that baking is not the easiest when they are involved.  Still, we managed to bake several dozen of the best gingerbread cookies (ever!) and my long time favorite anise-almond biscotti. (I have been making this recipe for years and don't remember where it is from-I'll do a separate post for it.)

The Friday before Christmas I put together a nice little holiday cocktail party for some friends and neighbors.  I really wanted a chance to use my cute serving dishes I have collected the last couple years.

 Ernesto took the kids out one day and I was alone in my house from 10-4p.   ALONE!  Oh it was wonderful and I was so productive too!  (Note to self: Must schedule more days like that!)

Cheeses, nuts, olives, italian meats, dates wrapped in prosciutto,  caprese bites, cookies and sea salt caramels in dark chocolate.  After putting all of that together, I felt like I needed something hot.  I saw these hogs in a blanket and decided to go for it.  Andouille sausage wrapped in puff pastry with a mustard and indian chutney on top? Hell yeah!
Everything was super easy and by 7pm, I had a nice little spread going.

Since I had bought these brass and copper Moscow Mule mugs (another Homegoods find), it only made sense that we serve these at the party.  Lime juice, vodka, and ginger beer over ice. Darn tasty!!
Besides my brother Brrrian, we had some other guests over the Christmas season.

Brrrian brought Bruno (a Dutch Shepard) home from the Atlanta Humane Society 6 years ago and he has proven to be a perfect match to my brother.  He is a very very good dog....with very VERY high energy!
Basically a third kid for me to watch when the guys are working.  And although he makes a lot of noise (loudest bark ever!) and causes [more] chaos in the house, the boys love him.

Kyja was part of the Brrrian/Bruno Package deal!  What a HUGE help she was!

She probably cleaned our kitchen 3x day.  As if that wasn't enough, she also cooked often and really helped me out with the boys.  (Thanks again Kyja!)

Our neice from California, Cariza (aka: Caki) came for 10 days to visit and help me with the kids.  They LOVE her.  (me too!)

This California girl was looking forward to the cold weather, and she got some!! (by her standards anyway!)  She even bought a [one piece] sleeper just so she could be like the boys.

We were so busy with lights the whole time she was here, but we tried to cross off some of the things on her "must do" list.

Gladys Knights Chicken and Waffles and Highland Bakery and Martin Luther King Center to name a few.  The girls had a night  out at the Vortex and beers at the Porter.  Not on her list, but a must see landmark in Atlanta, Ernesto and I took her out to the Clairmont Lounge.
We had a great time and I feel like we got a lot closer.  Depressing Fun fact: she turned 21 a day before I turned 41.  Oh the difference 20 years makes! ha!

As usual, my parents flew down to help!  They entertained the kids/kept house while I was busy writing estimates, talking/texting with customers.

This year the Elf on the Shelf came to our house as well.

We named him Duende (which means elf in Spanish-Ha! very creative right?)  He was the source of mucho excitement at our house, although I can't say his presence and "watching" resulted in better behavior.

My friend Janie knit this adorable pom pom hat for Mateo.  It's so cute and he really likes wearing it.

Also, isn't he beautiful? (#totallybiased) He's going to be a real lady killer.


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