Christmas 2009: Take Four aka Santa was here!!!!

As of our last blog, the kids were cozy in bed dreaming about Santa and sugar plums and things. I set to work putting together two different breakfast casseroles for our traditional Christmas breakfast. When I was little we always looked forward to Christmas breakfast. My dad would make eggs and bacon and toast and all of those yummy things. It was a tradition that I wanted to carry on with my kids. They have come to expect big things Christmas morning! I have found a way to come through for them, but not be stuck in the kitchen all morning. I just put it all together Christmas eve. When we get up and start opening gifts I throw everything into the oven and by the time we are done…ta da! Fabulous breakfast!!!
It is a long standing joke in our family that our kids are the worst ever when it comes to getting up on Christmas morning. When we were little Brian and I would both get up waaaaaay before the crack of dawn. Naturally we expected the same from our kids. Yeah…not so much! For the first 8 years that we were married, Brian and I had to wake the kids up!! Last year they did wake up first, but we found out that they had cheated and set an alarm clock. This year we told them no alarm clocks allowed! Be normal kids and wake us up at a completely indecent hour! Well a Christmas miracle occurred and the kids woke us up at about 5:00 am! We were so proud! Finally our kids were normal!!! The REALLY funny part is that I asked them how they finally managed to do it. Jake looked a little bit sheepish and said that he had set his pee alarm. OF course I was curious. “Pee alarm? ” I asked. “Yes, none of us peed before we went to bed so that we would wake up early!” Gotta give them credit for creativity! They crack me up!
Here they are waiting in the hallway for the go sign to head out to the dining room. You might be wondering where Noah and Aiden are. Well, we might be a little bit weird but we aren’t completely crazy. Everyone knows that you never wake a sleeping toddler or baby, at least not if you want a pleasant morning without tears!
Here are the kids reading the traditional letter from Santa. He loved the cookies, of course! And he thought that Hannah’s picture was great.
Once the letter was read and we said a little prayer for Baby Jesus birthday, we headed into the living room. HE CAME!!! Presents, presents everywhere!
DJ and his new wii game that he really wanted. As the kids get older, their piles get much smaller and much more expensive.
Jake with the new Madden game. Great job Santa!
Bubba was also thrilled to get a new game for the wii! He is at the stage where he is between the little kid toys like action figures and matchbox cars and big kid stuff like wii games. Thankfully Santa came through on both end.
Here is Coley modeling her new coat. It was interesting because this was the first year that the three older kids were actually excited about clothes! Instead of opening a sweater and being like, “Oh, a sweater.” It was more like, “YES! A sweater! This is awesome!” It was kind of fun!
This is Gia opening her new Leapster. Unfortunately when we opened it and took it out of the box it was obviously used and very dirty. There were even teethmarks on the stylus! DISGUSTING!!! Poor little Gia! She tried to act like it was ok, but I could tell that she was very disappointed. The day after Christmas the girls and I headed to ToysRUS to exchange it for a new one. We upgraded to a Leapster 2. I felt so bad. The leapster was her main gift and she got a lot of things that went with it and couldn’t play with any of it Christmas day. Next year Santa needs to check these things out before he buys them! Thankfully Aunt Peggy and Uncle Bob, Gia’s godparents, got her an EasyBake oven! She was beyond thrilled. Christmas morning she baked Baby Jesus a birthday cake with a little bit of help from Hannah. This helped soften the leapster blow a little bit.
Here is the finished project complete with a birthday candle!
Aiden woke up at about 7:00 am. He was so funny. He actually played with his new toys! Usually babies are thrilled with wrapping paper or boxes, but he actually liked his toy!
Finally at about 8:30 am, Brian woke Noah up. He happily opened all of his gifts. He was really into the whole Santa thing this year. He keeps asking when Santa is coming back. When I tell him next Christmas he asks me if that is tomorrow…sigh… only 11 1/2 months to go…
He loved his “Handy Manny” hat and “gobbles.”
Aiden loved his breakfast, actually he loves anything that he can jam into his mouth!
The Hough gang enjoying their yummy breakfast.
After breakfast, everyone got bathed and dressed for the day. Joan and Patrick came out for a little visit and to see what all Santa had brought for the kids. We had a nice visit with them. At about 1:30 we piled into the van and headed to Mema’s house for Christmas dinner with my mom’s family. There was a ton of food, including fried deer steak (don’t knock it if you haven’t tried it! It is YUMMY! Especially since it was from Jake’s first deer!) and lasagna. I felt like Brian was going to need to roll me out to the car! We came home and jammied up and pretty much passed out. We put the little ones to bed and Brian and I went to sleep around 9:00! Christmas day was a ton of fun with the typical Hough family chaos. We are truly blessed to have such a wonderful family to celebrate the birth of our Savior! Thank you Jesus!
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Christmas 2009 take Three: aka Christmas Eve continues with Viglia

After our epic journey to Pittsburgh, we went back home for exactly long enough to get changed into our fancy Christmas clothes and then it was off to Babee’s for Vigilia dinner! It was funny because on our way home from Pittsburgh, Brian was quizzing the kids on the Polish names for the foods that we would be eating. He told them that if they didn’t know the Polish name, they couldn’t eat it! Then they started talking about the foods that would be there. The one thing that everyone was asking about was the Kapusta soup…peas and sauerkraut and mushrooms…
eewwww! It’s a long standing tradition that you have to eat at least one spoonful for luck. I usually manage to choke down one but that’s about it. The kids are starting to get to that age, but they have managed to avoid it so far.
Here are my beautiful children in their fancy Christmas Church clothes….
Here is Miss Coley patiently waiting to open her gifts from Babee and Grampa. (Even though she had gone shopping with Babee and picked everything out herself!)
Aiden Joseph in his very snazzy hat! He actually kept in on! I think he knew that it made him look very dapper!
Gianna Marie in her cover girl pose! Serving it up H to T. (That’s head to toe for those of you unfamiliar with America’s Next Top Model.)
Jake and DJ looking very grownup in real ties…not clip-ons!!
Noah and his 19th cookie…this would come back to haunt us at 8:00 mass as he was waving his vest around in the air at church like a terrible towel saying, “WOOOOOO!!!” And waddling up and down our row saying, “Waddle like a penguin, waddle like a penguin!” Thankfully it was the children’s mass. He kind of blended in. At least he was until he started waving his hands around in the air to direct the choir! It was entertaining to say the least.
AD-Joe and Isaac
Hannah looking lovely in red.
My beautiful nieces, Breanna and Kaylee
Chase was dying to rip into those presents!
Rexton loved his Handy Manny toys!
Babee was showing Aiden his new Jack-in-the-Box. He wasn’t quite sure what he thought about it at first, but he really likes it now.
The infamous Kapusta Soup
Hannah and I getting ready to head to church.
Aiden was passed out by the time we got home.
It had been a LOOOONG day. Everyone got into their jammies and we put out cookies for Santa. Hannah even left him a beautiful picture that she had drawn.
We crawled into bed to dream about sugarplums and stuff. I am not sure what you may have heard about the kids, but they must have been pretty good because we were definitely visited by the jolly man in red himself!
Stay tuned for more Christmas fun in Christmas 2009 take four: aka Santa was here!!!

Christmas 2009 Take 2: aka The Country Kids take on the Big City

Christmas Eve morning was the day of our annual trip to Pittsburgh to see the Santa Claus exhibit and Nativity Scene. We have done this almost every year since we have been married and Brian and the kids really look forward to it. Notice that I said Brian and the kids, not including myself in this statement. It’s not that I don’t enjoy going to these places, it’s just that I get very nervous taking our entire family anywhere involving traffic, big buildings, people, subways, sidewalks…you get the point. We are numerous and move at a pace much slower than one accustomed to living in the city. We are country folk…remember the pony in our front yard!? I am always worried that someone will get left behind or separated from our group or kidnapped or any other totally ridiculous and highly improbable terrible thing. I take my role of keeping my kids safe very seriously and with eight kids Brian and I are majorly outnumbered. I am also the teensiest bit paranoid and psychotic. Anyway, it was that time of year again so we got up early loaded into the van and headed to Pittsburgh. After trying a few different parking lots and garages we finally found one that our giant 12 passenger van would fit in. We parked and tumbled out of the van. I immediately paired everyone up. This is the only way that we can function out in the world. I put Aiden in his baby sling and Brian carried Noah. Coley and Gia buddied up. DJ and Hannah paired up. Which left Isaac and Jake to be buddies. Normally this wouldn’t be a problem, but Isaac was in a mood and didn’t want to hold anyone’s hand. He was giving Jake a hard time. ( Big shock there!) He was told to buddy up or stay in the van. Given that as his only option, he reluctantly gave in and we were on our way.
First stop: The Nativity Scene at the USX building.
A woman was nice enough to take a picture of us so that we could all be in it.
It was freeeeeeeeeeeezing! But the nativity was beautiful. It is modeled after the one in the Vatican. We love to go there and see it (briefly!).
After that we were headed to destination #2…the Santas from around the World exhibit at PPG Place. But for the Dayton Houghs the final destination is only part of the fun! Getting there was an adventure in itself! This involved an escalator and the subway!!! big excitement for little country kids! We were approaching the escalator and Isaac looked a little bit skeptical. “The stairs are sliding.”
Gia took a little bit of convincing…
But we all managed and made it to the top safe and soundly. Now it was on to phase two of getting to the Santa Exhibit…the subway (insert scary music here)…. The thing about the subway is that it’s kind of fast and again, let me remind you, that we are numerous. My totally unfounded paranoia starts to set in and I am terrified that one of the kids isn’t going to make it on and they will be eaten up by the city, never to be seen again. We had some time to wait for the subway which was good. The kids bounced around and got some energy out. Daddy helped the process by flipping them around to shake out some giggles.
I had Aiden in the sling to keep me warm!
Here are Coley and Gianna waiting for the subway.
DJ and Miss Hannah
Noah and Jake were excited.
Bubba was pouting. This just further proves my theory that all eight kids are not genetically capable of being happy at the same time. Someone has to be complaining or whining or crying at all times. Oh well!! 7 out of 8 isn’t too bad!
We even had a siting of the very rare Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindasaurus!!!
The subway came and we all (thankfully) made it on and off. The kids loved it. I think that may have been the favorite part for some of the little ones! Ahhhh the little things in life!
DJ and Hannah
Big fun on the subway!!
We finally made the epic journey to the PPG Place to see the Santas From Around the World exhibit. The kids loved them, as usual. My favorite is the Italian “Santa” La Befana. She leaves bad boys and girls switches to be spanked with by her scary little sidekick!
Noah and Bubba checking out their favorite Santa, the Victorian American one.
Brian and Aiden and Hannah admiring the gingerbread houses.
Our favorite “gingerbread creation”…Go Steelers!
Daddy enjoying some AD-Joe snuggling!
The tree with the gingerbread houses
The boys checking things out
DJ and his little buddy Hannah
Sissy and AD-Joe
We also got a kick out of the ketchup dinosaur.
Bubba liked this dinosaur
Gia LOOOVED the sparkly discoball dinosaur!
Brian and Jake ran to get the van so that we didn’t have to venture the subway again. We had to wait for them, but it gave us some more time for some looking around.
Here is a picture of the ice rink right outside of the PPG Place. Yeah…maybe next time!
Here we are back in the van safely on our way back home! I must admit this trip wasn’t nearly as stressful as I had anticipated. I think that we have finally reached a point where we can safely and (relatively) smoothly go places!!! Woohoo! The big kids are big enough to keep track of their little kid and the little kids are big enough to know to stay with their big kids! It is a major milestone for us. Oh the places we can go!
“Hello Monkey!”
You are probably wondering what in the heck this is all about. Long story short…if Brian is talking to the kids and they are totally ignoring him, he will sarcastically start to talk to an imaginary monkey. This was happening in the car on the way home so he actually drew a monkey on the window….he so weird! That’s why I love him!
Here it is….Our lunch from Sonic! This is how a mega-size family orders drive-in!! For the record, we brought our own drinks. This was strictly sandwiches and fries. It was quite Yummy!
There it is, our Christmas Eve morning in a nutshell.
Stay tuned for Christmas Eve part two…..

Christmas 2009 Take 1: aka the gift exchange

OK folks, I can’t believe it, but we have officially experienced Christmas. It seems like I blinked my eyes and it was over…Thankfully I managed to take some pictures to document it all, or I wouldn’t believe it myself! We had a wonderful Christmas with tons of family get-togethers and traditions. We decided to start a new tradition this year. Instead of the kids trying to buy gifts for all of their brothers and sisters, they pulled names and just bought for one person. It was so fun to take them shopping. They took this responsibility very seriously. It happened to work out that Gianna had Noah and Hannah had Isaac and Aiden had Jacob. When we went to the store I took them with me. Brian took Noah and Isaac with him, who had Aiden and Gia respectively. DJ ended up with Coley and Jake had DJ. This proved a little bit tricky because Jake didn’t want DJ to know that he had him and they were shopping together. Coley had Hannah, but she was shopping with her grandma. It was very interesting to watch what they picked out for each other. Every time we would come around a corner in the toy section of Walmart the girls would freak out thinking that the boys would see what they had for them. When we were checking out, Hannah was sure that they were trying to see what they had bought for them. From what Brian said Isaac and Noah had a hard time grasping the concept of getting something for someone else. They just wanted to pick out stuff for themselves. Shocking, I know! In the end they all did pretty well, with a little bit of guidance from Brian and I.
The week of Christmas started with a Monday night movie night. We ate a picnic dinner on the living room floor while we watched The Nativity Story. I’m not sure if the kids liked the movie or being allowed to eat in the living room better! Either way, everyone seemed to enjoy it.
Tuesday and Wednesday were the last days of school and work for everyone. Which means that the kids did nothing at school other than have parties and watch movies. DJ, Coley and Jacob were looking forward to playing in the volleyball tournament that they have on the last day of school at West Shamokin. They were on the same team and were so excited about playing, but got their butts kicked. Oh well, at least they didn’t have class!
Wednesday evening, which was Christmas eve eve, we let the kids exchange gifts amongst themselves.
Here they are anxiously awaiting the big exchange…
Gianna loved her babydoll that Bubba got for her. Bubba kept showing her all of the neat features that the doll has, for example her binky and bottle and bear are all magnetized and stick to her hands and mouth. Very cool!
Hannah loved all of her gifts from Coley, especially her Littlest Pet Shop animals.
Isaac was equally impressed with his gifts from Hannah…so much so that he tackled her in gratitude…
Noah loved his new guys and dinosaurs from Gia.
Aiden wasn’t quite sure what was going on but he liked his shape sorter!
Jake seemed to like the games and candy that Aiden got for him.
DJ was laughing when he realized that Jake actually had him. He is still savoring those Reese’s Peanutbutter cups that he promptly stuck in the freezer.
Last but certainly not least, Coley was thrilled with her new nail polish and gum(which she locked in her lockbox) from DJ.