Dear Friend and Devoted Reader,
I am so sorry to have left you hanging without another chapter in the chronicles of my life for such a period. What can I say? December got away from me. I was busy Christmasing.
The more behind I got on my blog, the more daunting the task of updating it seemed to become. But I can't just jump into 2009 without recording our wonderful Christmas festivities. Excuse the belated news. And sorry if the writing is more to record events than to entertain. I'll try to do better in the future.
We spent the holiday this year with my family. Almost all of my siblings were in attendance with their families. My brother Joel's family had not been out here for four years! The reunion between all the cousins was love-filled, to be sure.
Before Christmas, my sister, Amber, and I took my kids and Joel's oldest three to the National Aquarium in Baltimore. Joel's girls really love animals so I knew they would enjoy the Aquarium. All the kids loved getting splashed by the dolphins during the dolphin show and even got to help the trainer make the dolphin wave and dance in the water.
Christmas Eve, Amber entertained the seventeen grandchildren in attendance with some good ol' fashioned "Everyone's a Winner Bingo!" She found a fun bingo set at Costco and then bought a ton of prizes for the kids. She called out letters and numbers until each child won and then had them clear their cards for another round. You wouldn't believe how quiet the living room was with all those kids in it at the same time. Everyone wanted to listen up so he or she could win. Luckily, with Aunt Amber's rules, everyone is a winner every time!
Later, my extended family exchanged gifts. My mom spoiled my girls with beautiful new dresses. My sister, Amy, gave me a gift card to Ikea--and she didn't even know that I've had my eye on an organizing shelf thingy there! Talk about a Christmas miracle!
I proved that I am the coolest aunt on the planet by gifting my 16 year-old nephew with a shirt from Hollister. He didn't know I had it in me and thanked me for the spiffy duds. I think that's the first time Kaleb has initiated a conversation with me since he was three. If that's not blog-worthy, I don't know what is.
I stole away for the melee with Amber and our grandmother to attend Grandma's church's Christmas Eve service. I loved sitting with my grandma and singing hymns of praise for the Savior's birth. And I loved teasing Grandma about all the men who came up and kissed her.
Christmas morning was fabulous! My kids woke up at 6:45 and immediately began digging into their stockings. Then, Mackenna started opening her three gifts from Santa. She was thrilled with her new baby doll who came with her own car seat, stroller and bassinet.
Teensy was over the moon when she saw that she got her own camera and a make-up kit (something mommy has repeatedly told her she is not allowed to have). Rest assured, by the time New Year's rolled around, there wasn't a face in the family that hadn't been made over by Teense--including Grandpa and GG (Great-Grandma).
Mason had a wheeled Christmas: he received Heelys and a skateboard. His New Year's Resolution is not to break a limb in 2009.
Maia opened her two small gifts with happiness and awe but was elated and a little stunned when she unwrapped the doll she had been hoping against hope to get. It warmed my heart to see my children all so happy and thankful for their three gifts.
My Jorge was thrilled with his DVD's of 30 Rock, Indiana Jones Wii game and flight jacket like the one he wore in high school.
Christmas night, my mom had her annual party. A highlight for me was visiting with my cousins who I haven't seen in quite a while. Growing up, I saw my dad's side of the family every Sunday when we ate dinner together at my grandma's house. Now, I don't get to see some of them very often and that makes me sad so I quite enjoyed having some of us together again.
The day after Christmas, quite a few of us (as in 20 or so) went up to Hershey to visit Chocolate World. Nobody loves the ride with the singing cows like my Mackenna!
We had lunch, rode the ride a couple of times, watched the kids package kisses, bought everyone his/her favorite Hershey's treat, and headed home.
We ladies needed to get a good night's sleep because the next day was Girls' Day Out in NYC. We awoke at the crack of dawn, loaded up in my Amy's monster van and drove to NYC. I didn't know how Amy would manage her big van in downtown NYC, but she was a pro! She whipped that thing around like it was a Fiat. It was a little tricky finding a place where they would let her park it, but we eventually found one.
We filed into several taxis and went straight to Chinatown where the negotiations began. This was my niece, Tori's, first girls' trip to NYC and so she "needed" to get a purse on Canal street. She was also thrilled to purchase some fancy sunglasses. I opted out of a new purse this year, but grabbed a fun ring instead.
After a quick stop at Rice to Riches (gag) and Pinkberry, we cruised to our theater for our show. We saw Mary Poppins. Yes, it is different from the movie. The writers of the Broadway show read the original books and combined them with the movie to make the show. So, some parts are the same, but much of the show is different. I still loved it. I was utterly entertained and ready to swoon when Bert "stepped in time" up one wall, across the ceiling, and down the other wall. In a word, it was supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. (Sorry, you know I had to do it.)
(Apparently, the nice stranger who took our group photo didn't realize that ALL of my mom was part of our group. Only a fraction of her is in the picture!)
After the show, we had dinner at a great little Italian place before heading back to the parking lot and trekking home.
The next day, we came home to give my mom's house a little break. Even though the six of us left, there were still twelve people staying there. I thought everyone could use a little more elbow room before the New Year's celebrating would begin.