Our Christmas Story

I hope you all had a great Christmas (if you celebrate) with family and friends! We sure did! It was extra fun this year because Isabella was SOOOO in to it and is old enough to understand and vocalize everything.

Here’s a recap of our Christmas weekend in pictures!



This was on Saturday. We had gotten about 9″ of snow Thursday but hadn’t yet made it outside to play. Isabella had fun for about 10 minutes and then was ready to go back inside.


She takes after her mama when it comes to winter weather sports or outdoor activities of any kind…

Then it was time for getting cozy and reading with Daddy by the tree.


On Sunday, we gave Samson a bath.


Poor innocent, unsuspecting Samson…he had no idea what was coming.

He hadn’t had a bath since his surgery and it was time.


He was a good boy though and patiently stood there letting us poor water over him while he ate treat after treat. He’s now super soft and extra cuddly!

On Christmas Eve, I worked in the morning then we spent the afternoon doing family stuff.

Samson opened some birthday presents…(the Big Guy turned 7 this year!)


And then we had cake!


Or rather Little Debbie Christmas Tree cakes arranged to look fancy. Hey, Samson doesn’t know the difference…

Isabella was disappointed that the cake didn’t have Mary Poppins on it but she got over it once I told her she could eat a whole “tree” by herself.

Samson got his own tree too.



Then we took our annual Santa Hat photos! It’s a Christmas Eve tradition for us.


In previous years it was hard just to get one good one because Isabella wasn’t all that keen to pose for the camera. But this year she did great and we were able to do some goofy ones too!

Tongues out….


Crazy Clock faces…


We were all saying something here and now I forget what it was…Dude maybe?


And finally more smiles!


Then we each got to open one present (our ornaments) before it was time to get ready for bed!

But first we made up a plate for Santa and his reindeer.


(Don’t ask me why but at some point in the evening she stripped out of her clothes and insisted on running around naked. We made her at least keep underwear on. Silly girl…)

The plate contains cookies for Santa (sugar ones that Isabella decorated herself), milk and some carrots for the reindeer (with peanut butter because Isabella likes to dip her carrots in PB…ok I do too. Don’t knock it ’til you try it!).


Christmas morning came and we were up and at ’em by 7:00 am. We had a quick breakfast of donuts (it’s a family tradition!) and then opened presents.

We let Samson go first.


Experience has taught us that he is a pain when it comes to opening gifts. He likes to get in everybody’s business and help them tear off paper and such. It was cute when he was a puppy and before we had children. But Isabella wants to do it herself and Samson just gets in the way. So we give him a big bone first thing and then he goes off and works on that while we open presents in peace!


Isabella’s turn!




Then we moved on to the stockings!



Then we all got dressed and ready to go to Grandma and Grandpa’s!


She’s holding her new planets book that she was very excited about. The only way I could get an outfit shot was with the book!

Once everyone arrived (including us, my Father-in-law, and my sis, her hubs and 3 kids), we sat down for the big meal of the day. After that it was time for more presents!

Isabella’s favorites were her pillow from Grandpa:


Batman mask:


And LeapPad2


The baby even scored a few gifts from Grandma, including some awesome additions to the nursery!


Now we’re enjoying a quiet week as we head in to the New Year.

Happy Holidays!


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And the stockings were hung by the chimney with care…

…and for the first time, we have an actual chimney to hang them on!

But before I get in to all that, let’s review how Thanksgiving went.

It was great. Lots of family time. Did some shopping. End of story.

No really. I was going to dedicate a whole post to it but there really isn’t all that much to talk about. Turkey Day itself went per usual with awesome food, my sister and I combing through the Black Friday ads, kids playing games while the guys napped, and then stuffing our faces once again. Pumpkin pie = awesome!

One twist was that the sis and I headed out for Black Friday shopping to hit the midnight sales instead of at 4am the next day. I’m not sure I liked the change. There weren’t enough deals to make it worth our while. We were both ho-hum about the whole thing. Not sure if I’ll even do it next year. They’ll have to have some pretty freakin’ sweet steals to get me out again in the middle of the night.

Now on to the fun stuff!

Christmas decorating was great this year because we are in a new house and have new possibilities. PLUS, Isabella is old enough to not only really get in to it but she can also help!


This weekend has been a blast putting it all together. And we’re finally done (well, at least with the inside)!

Here are the fruits of our labors!


The family room complete with Christmas tree and dancing Santa Elmo!


Some of the very most important ornaments go front and center – like the Isabella one from last year and the Steelers football guy!


Close-up of the fireplace. We have the nativity in the middle, a decorative tree on one end and our Angel memorial on the end.


The Angel memorial is to honor the babies we have lost. The little one we got after my first miscarriage in 2008. The large one was a gift after the latest miscarriage in September. And the little silver heart box in front (which you can’t see real well) holds the ashes of that last baby. Even though we took down the normal everyday décor to make room for holiday stuff, we had to leave our angels there on the hearth. They’re a part of the family.

And in case you were wondering why there are 5 stockings hung from the mantel, with 2 that overlap, it’s because Isabella insisted we put up both her “Baby’s 1st Christmas” stocking and her new one.


This is a plain old hurricane lamp with colored Christmas bulbs in it. Super simple yet looks really elegant.


Dicken’s village on the dining room table. It looks really plain here and when I took a look at last year’s photos, I can see why. I forgot to cover the table with fake snow. Must do that tomorrow!


The snowmen atop the dining room buffet.


A new addition to our repertoire this year – Isabella’s purple tree! We have it in her playroom and she loves it! It’s bright; it’s fun; and it’s shiny! What more could a kid want?

Speaking of kids….


Look who had gotten a hold of Isabella’s naughty/nice Santa hat. And wouldn’t you know…


…he got caught red-handed on the naughty side!

Well that does it for what we have out so far. I’m sure we’ll add more things here and there as the big day approaches. One room I didn’t show was Isabella’s bedroom, where she has her own nativity scene and another little tree.

Now I’m off to pack our bags – tomorrow CJ and I are headed to Kansas City for the Steelers/Chiefs game! Bring it!

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Christmas Hangover

I feel like I have a hangover…I think it’s the after affects of the holidays. There is always such a big build up to Christmas and then BAM, it’s here and just as quickly, it’s over.

Friday and Saturday were a lot of fun for us. We had lots of quality time with both our little family and with the extended family. It was so much fun to see Christmas through Isabella’s eyes. She was in wonder at all the presents and really enjoyed playing with her cousins on Christmas Day.

Here she is, standing on her tip-toes, trying to get at one of the gifts in her pile. Notice Samson is trying to attack from the other side and get at one of CJ’s gifts. They’re double-teaming us!!

Christmas Morning

It really struck me just how much she’s grown since last Christmas, when she wasn’t even crawling or anything (she was 3 months old). She pretty much just laid around while the rest of us enjoyed the day. This year she was a full participant and it was so much more fun!

I got some really great gifts this year. CJ did awesome and every single gift was great. He got me a nice wool dress coat. I am seriously lacking in dress coats so this was perfect and totally unexpected. The only ones I have are the Couch Coat, which isn’t heavy enough for really cold days, and one that I’ve had since high school. The one he got me is red, so it matches Isabella’s little dress coat, and is sassy too!

He also got me a bright green Champion workout shirt and a Pittsburgh Steelers warm, fuzzy blanket – which is AWESOME!

 The most creative gift he got me was my ornament (we exchange ornaments every year that are supposed to show something about that year or it could be representative of something we really like). He found some Christmas-y letters and spelled out “BLOGR” (yes, we know that’s not how you properly spell “blogger”, but it makes it more fun…that and he somehow misplaced the other letters). It’s really cute and it symbolizes this blog, which has been so much fun for me to get started and build up over the last couple months.

(the other ornament is a football cradled inside a trophy that says #1 – because no matter what, the Steelers will always be number 1 in my book!)

[A note about the above pictures of me – first, yes, I am wearing a Santa hat in every one. Why? Because it’s festive! That, and Isabella insisted on it. Secondly, yes, I am also wearing Christmas jammies. Why? Because it’s festive! If you look closely, you’ll notice they’re the same pj’s from last year’s Christmas card only they’re a size too big for me this year – boo yah! Finally, I am not wearing any makeup in last 2 pics and I hope you’re happy. I’m putting myself out there for you all because that’s the kind of gal I am.]

CJ did pretty well too in the gifts department. I got him a garment steamer (what? You don’t all get those for your husbands/boyfriends?),

a new Kangol hat (the only kind of hat he’ll really wear)

Showing it off to Isabella

and a 2011 Marvel calendar. His ornament was Ironman, because he’s my super hero (all together now…awwwww).

[A note about CJ’s pics – yes, he too is wearing a Santa hat in every picture. Why? Because it’s festive! And, Isabella insists he wear one too. Secondly, just to clarify, no he did not just come in from his secret job as an air traffic controller. He was cold in his red t-shirt so he put the green sleeveless one over it. Hey, back off, my man has style! Finally, yes, CJ tends to look drunk in every picture. He either looks drunk or is waving in almost every picture ever taken of him. It’s his thing. It’s what he does. I’ve learned to laugh about it over the years and you can too.]

Isabella hit the jackpot too. There are too many pics of her to show them all, so here is one of my favorites:

Dancing in her Elmo slippers


Yesterday, reality hit as I got up and looked around at all the “stuff” to be put away. There were bags and stockings lying around, toys to be pulled out of boxes, food to be eaten, decorations to be tucked away and general all-around cleaning to be done. I am somewhat of an organizational freak and hate clutter. As I scanned the living room, I saw toys everywhere and I started to develop a tick. Our house is not that big so we don’t have the luxury of setting up a separate playroom for Isabella. Therefore, every room in our house becomes her play room. But, I also don’t want her stuff to take over. So, I had to develop a system.

I started with going through all her toys and deciding which ones were keepers and which needed to go. The ones that we kept got put in 2 piles – those that she still plays with and those that she’s outgrown but we want to hang on to for the next baby (no, I’m not pregnant, just planning ahead). The ones that were to go were also sorted – toss in the trash or give to charity. Once that was done, I cleared out a canvas tote box from her room and began cleaning up the living room. All the small toys and stuffed animals got put in this box, which was then tucked against the wall, out-of-the-way. I paired down her books (over time, all her books had moved from her bedroom to the living room) and only kept out new ones or those she’s really in to right now. Those went on the bottom shelf of the coffee table. Big stuffed animals were tucked away into a bench we have. It looked so much better when I was done…that is until Munchkin got up and started playing. Then things were back out and scattered all over, as shown in this picture.

That’s ok though. I’m fine with mess while she’s up and about, actively playing with everything. Heck, it makes it more fun some days. It’s when she’s in bed and there’s still stuff everywhere that I start to itch.  I have a plan in mind for how to get even more organized and still give Isabella her own play/toy corner, once the Christmas tree comes down. I’ll tackle that project next year (seems so weird to say that doesn’t it?).

Today it was back to work. Oh how painful it was when the alarm went off at 5:30 a.m. I had fitful sleep anyway (more Fantasy Football dreams…I know, I have issues) so I was really tempted to hit snooze and skip my workout, but I didn’t.  I was a good girl and got my booty downstairs to our “gym” (aka, my collection of workout DVDs, weights and an elliptical machine).  I am only working 2 days this week as CJ is having dental surgery on Wednesday, but 2 days will be enough. In fact, it will be more than enough. I’m working from the mall these 2 days and am the only one here from our group. Bob is at the West office, the Brit is back home in England, the Texans are in Texas and the Indians are either smoking the hookah working from their hotel or at the west office. I like the quiet, but I also like the hub-bub when people are here. Hopefully I can get a lot done these 2 days and then relax and not think about work while I’m off.

It was a long day but it’s done now and I just have one more to get through until vacation. Kind of fun to have a Monday and a “Friday” right next to each other in the week!

How was your Christmas? Are you glad or sad that it’s over?

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Merry Christmas from the Traders!

‘Twas the season of Christmas, when all through the house, our creature was stirring – Samson had found a mouse! The stockings were hung; tree decorated with care, in anticipation of a joyous holiday to share!

Isabella wasn’t crawling, but walking instead, while visions of Elmo danced in her head. And Sarah was working while CJ stayed home, to take care of our daughter and be Mr. Mom.

The year passed so quickly, gone by in a wink, seems like just yesterday Isabella was only a “think.” And now she’s grown, aged over a year, but such joy she has brought, and is truly a dear.

We look forward to watching her learn and grow, but not to her repeatedly saying “No!” She loves to dance, hug and kiss, she is really and truly a sweet little Miss.

We love all our family and have such wonderful friends. Our lives are blessed and greetings we send. Wishing you all a wonderful year –

“Happy Christmas to all, and to all some good cheer!”