Happy Birthday Noah!

Eight years ago, our family was blessed with a late, but amazing Christmas gift. Little Noah Anthony joined our family making us a crew of 9. He was such a laid back and sweet baby. His big “owl” eyes and soft little chubby cheeks melted my heart. After having two girls in a row, we were ready for another little boy. Noah was the answer to that need.
He has been 100% all boy from the get go. He was sturdy from the beginning, weighing in at over 9 pounds. God knew what he was doing, because Isaac was excited to finally have a little brother and Noah has been one of his favorite playmates from day one. 
Noah was unique in his own little way. He has never been one to just follow along. He marches to the beat of his own drummer. He can sometimes come off as solemn and a tad grumpy, but I think it is just because he is taking it all in. He is a deep thinker. Although he tries to act rough and tough, he is really just a gentle soul. He loves animals and sports. He enjoys drawing and writing little stories. He loves to dress up as super heroes and have Nerf gun wars with his brothers.
As with any child, Noah can be a handful sometimes. We joke that we named him Noah because we are constantly saying, “NO! AHHHHH!” to him. But honestly his persistence is one of his greatest assets. He never gives up.
Noah, you are a blessing to our family. Your tender spirit makes me smile. Your silliness and sense of humor are one of a kind. Thank you God for allowing us to take care of Noah for you!
Happy Birthday Noah!
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Let the Festivities Begin!!!!

I know that a lot of you out there wait until the last minute to put up your tree, but I am not one of those people. I love to have our tree up right after Thanksgiving and I usually leave it up until long after the Epiphany.  My husband and the boys headed to Flemings tree farm to bring home the beast of tree that stands in our living room as I type.
The tree getting lit up!
Just a tiny bit of our ornament collection.
The pickle. ’nuff said.
Frazier, our little elf
The stockings were hung on a super high, unreachable shelf  with care.
 (Good luck getting those down kids…)
Viola! (pay no attention to the messed up tree skirt)
To kick off the Christmas festivities  (also known as month that there isn’t a single open day on the calendar) we had the annual  DCCC (Dayton Community Children’s Choir) Christmas play. Hannah was the only Hough in it this year. She had one of the main parts and did a fantastic job!
Hannah has the ginormous red bow in her hair. 
The next Christmas activity on the agenda was the West Shamokin Snowball.
Jake and his lovely date, Terra
In addition to the craziness of the holidays, we like to kick it up yet another notch by having not one, not two but three of our kids’ birthdays in December…
Happy Birthday DJ, Coley and Noah!
Next thing on the agenda was the Dayton Elementary School Band and Chorus concert. Isaac and Hannah were both performing, so they had to get all gussied up. I thought that I would commemorate the occasion by snapping a few pics of them in their fancy clothes…so this happened.
And then this….
and I am sorry to say, this happened…
Our two musicians, Isaac and Hannah
The concert was good. Hannah had a ton of flute solos. (It may or may not have been because she is literally the only flute player in the band. ) They both did a great job. They make their momma proud!
It was then time for round one of Christmas with the family! The Gaggini family was the first to get together. For the last several years, my mom and dad started a fun Christmas tradition with our family. Because Christmas can be so crazy busy, and we all have lots of family to visit, we pick a day a week or so from Christmas to get together. We meet up at my parent’s house late morning and they give each of us a card with money in it. That is when it gets fun! We all go shopping together, yep the whole crazy crew! This year there were 21 of us. 
Peezy opening his card.
After the cards were opened, we headed to the cars and were off to the mall. We decided that the best thing to do was to divide and conquer. DJ (God bless him!) took Isaac, Noah and our nephew Dylan. Coley took Gia and Hannah. Aiden and Jonathan went with Brian and I. My sister and Casey took their kids and mom and dad floated around the mall to help watch little ones if necessary. 
One of my handsome lunch dates, Aiden.
The men patiently waiting for Gia to buy her boots.
Zonked out on the way back to mom and dad’s.
We got back to mom and dad’s house in time to drop off all of our new goodies and then we headed out to Villa Rosa for dinner. Mom had pre-ordered all of our meals and drinks which made it much easier on all of us and cut down our wait time to a minimum. Given that of the 23 of us at dinner, 12 were 12 years old or younger, that was a good, good thing. Dinner was yummo and before we knew it we were back at mom and dad’s house to show everyone what we bought and to enjoy some cookies and coffee. 
Brian and Jake talking to one of the smartest men that I know, Poppy.
Dj and Gia
Mema and Miss Eliza
My Sissy and I in our aprons from mom and dad. The hearts are made up of our kids’ names.
The kids waiting for the family picture. They were super excited, can you tell?
Buddies, Izzy and Gia
The grandkids…
The whole gang
Sweet baby boy, Colin
My goddaughter, Isabella and I
Aiden and Franny hiding in the corner playing their new DS games
The adorable Eliza Jane
The Wonder Twins (The Original and 2.0)
 The beginning and the end of the grandkids, the bookend twins! 
So with that, I will wrap this post up. But I am sure that there will plenty more Christmas fun. We are just getting started!!!
Merry Christmas!

Advent prep and a lesson learned

So I have been sort of blog silent for a while. I guess I was feeling anxious and I knew that it would come through in my writing. This is my therapy, you know. Next  year is going to be crazy. And I don’t mean our normal kind of Hough crazy that goes along with the territory of having 9 kids, a snotty cat, a geriatric dog and a hyper puppy. Nope this is a whole new kind of crazy. This is the kind of crazy that involves the husband driving 4 hours each day for his job, packing, painting and selling the house that has been our home for 14 years, a graduation, a First Holy Communion, moving the above mentioned kids and animals, finding a house that will not just be a house but a home, finding new doctors, dentists, schools and friends and so on and so forth… So I am sure that if you allow your imagination to fathom all of that, you are glad that I haven’t been blogging, or at least that you haven’t been reading about it. Here is the thing, I am so happy that Brian got his new job. He is so excited about it and I see a spark in him that hasn’t been there for a while. It is wonderful to know that his new job isn’t a job at all. It is truly his vocation. But here is the other thing, I hate change. I am very much opposed to new circumstances. They make me nervous and slightly nauseated. I love our home and our neighbors. Our families are nearby. And our church family is amazing. It is so hard for me to think about leaving, so I decided not to. I was going to just pretend that it wasn’t happening and we were just going to throw ourselves into Christmas and all of it’s wonderfulness.

Sooooo, I had decided before Advent began I was going to get as much of the busywork involved with Christmas preparation finished early so that my family could really enjoy Christmas and use Advent to intentionally prepare for Christ’s birthday. (or intentionally avoid everything else) I made a Christmas binder (seriously, I really did). I decorated early (you can frown at this one if you want, but I still did it). I chose a few different Advent meditations and prayers that I could use for myself, as well as ones that we could do as a family. I got the advent wreath ready to go. I baked. I made list after list and checked them twice and thrice. I shopped online. I wrapped the majority of the gifts. I even bought stamps ahead of time to mail out Christmas cards. I was preparing to prepare. It was a bit insane, but let’s face it, that’s how I roll.

Alright, fast forward to two weeks into Advent… we have eaten most of the cookies, so I still need to bake again. I still have a few last minute things to pick up and wrap, so that still isn’t finished. I have had to rewrite a ton of my lists. I still have the stamps for the Christmas cards, but they still haven’t been mailed out (or written out. Who am I kidding!?!) We have done family prayers, but we are still several days behind. And I, personally, am feeling woefully unprepared spiritually for the tiny King’s birth. And guess what, we are still moving to Oh.

Now here comes the good part. Last week was the Christmas party for the faculty and staff at FUS, so I went to work with Brian. The party wasn’t until the evening, so I was able to spend the day shopping and sort of checking out the area. When I met up with Brian at the end of his workday, he had arranged to meet a realtor and look at a house with him, but we were also going to look at a house of one of the adjunct professors at the university. While we were totally not into the first house, the realtor immediately made a good impression. He is just a good guy. We had heard about what a nice person he was, but I was very relieved to actually meet him and see for ourselves. We were even able to schedule an appointment to see a few houses with him this week when I go to work with Brian again for his department Christmas party. I was starting to feel a little bit better about everything. And then we met the Padgetts.

Brian hadn’t met Chris before, but his boss hooked them up because he knew that they were going to be selling their home soon. Chris and his wife Linda welcomed us into their home to check it out. From the moment that we stepped foot in their house I felt at ease. They were so warm and real. They have a house full of kids too and kept apologizing for things, but we laughed it off, because we know all to well what 9 kids can do to a house. But the thing is that the house was beautiful. But it was more than that it had history. The home was amazing. It was not only Hough-size with a million bedrooms, you could literally feel that it was loved and lived in. I absolutely fell in love. But I quickly realized that God had more planned for us than to just see a house there. We were given a little taste of what it means to be a part of the FUS community and family. Chris and Linda made us feel right at home and began to tell us a little bit about the neighborhood and the community. They told us about the Catholic schools and the public schools as well as the homeschooling community there. They shared with us how special the area is. They jokingly said that it is a place where people cry when they have to move there because they don’t want to be there and cry when they leave because they don’t want to be anywhere else. We left to go to the party and I was starting to get it. I finally started to see what Brian had been trying to explain to me all along.

As we walked around the party, Brian introduced me to many more people. Each person greeted me with the same welcoming smile. You could tell that they were genuinely happy to have us there. I felt very comfortable even though I normally would have wanted to hide somewhere. We happened to run into the Padgetts again and they introduced us to a few of their friends. We all had a slew of kids so of course the conversation turned to our offspring. I felt so at ease with them that I may or may not have admitted to losing DJ when we went to Disney World through Make a Wish. (Seriously, who loses their cancer kid?!? The Houghs of course!) It was exactly what I needed. The party itself was lovely of course, but meeting these people made me realize that the move won’t be a bad thing. Of course I will miss my family and my church people, more than I can even imagine, I am sure. And nobody can ever replace my family or my FIFs, but I will be ok. (Thank goodness for facebook and the phone!) This community has so much to offer, so instead of being afraid and dreading it, I have a sense of peace about it. I am actually starting to look forward to what God has in store for us. I have also friended a couple of the women that I met and I look forward to staying in touch with them and eventually being a part of their community. The only sad thing is that the Padgetts will be moving out as we move in. But I am sure that is all part of God’s plan too.

I am not saying that you won’t see a million more posts from me freaking out about what is coming up, but for now, I am just going to enjoy the peace. It’s kind of funny that all of the planning and preparing that I did in an attempt to ensure a stress-free and peaceful Christmas had nothing to do with what finally eased my anxiety. Who would have guessed that it would have been just opening up to God’s plan for me?

(That was sarcastic by the way. They still haven’t come up with a sarcastic font.)

WonderTwins take on 19

So today is the nineteenth birthday of my twins. For real, for 19 years they have been roaming about the earth. Ok, so they probably didn’t roam for the first year or so, but you get my point. They are currently living a certain birthday experience that few people will know…the joy of having finals on your birthday. Nothing slaps you in the face like the reality that not everyone cares that it’s your birthday! Seriously, college professors think nothing of giving you a test that could potentially make or break your entire college career on the day that you are supposed to do  nothing but celebrate the fact that you are another year older. Stupid college. I know this feeling all too well. I too “celebrated” my birthday over finals week. Not fun. Sorry Wondertwins! I can honestly say that I had nothing to do with this one. 😉  Hang in there my loves! The end is in sight. Very soon we will be bringing you home for a whole glorious month! This time you won’t have any papers to write, or chapters to read or tests to study for. You can just come home and relax. Well, we all know that in this house relax s a very subjective word. But the tree is decorated, the house is clean, the fridge is full and let’s not forget the 9786 Christmas movies that have been DVRd just waiting to be watched. This break is the real deal, not the teasing break that you had over Thanksgiving or the glorified long weekend that they called a break in October. This is an honest to goodness break. I cannot wait to have all 9 of my crew back under one roof for one final Christmas in our home here in Dayton. Next year will be a year of big, no make that HUGEMUNGOUS changes for the Dayton Houghs. So for now, conquer your finals and then we will rock this break and we will celebrate your birthdays when you get home! Until then, here are a few of my favorite pics ! Love you DJ and Coley!

Hands on hips…I am so shocked.

The battle scene

DJ Blowing it up 80’s style

Nicole Hough Squared, can’t get much better than that folks!

Graduates…

Dad and his ballers

That’s my girl on a Harley. Who cares that it is battery operated.