Saturday, December 29, 2007

Mooch's Birthday

As some of you know, Christmas Day is also Ann's (a.k.a Mooch's) birthday. This year, we wanted to do something special for her big day. On Christmas Eve, while Ann was at Mass with her parents and celebrating with them, my mom, Sara, and I set up a scavenger hunt for her. We took the gifts we had designated as her birthday presents (as opposed to her Christmas presents) and hid them throughout my mom's house, Sara's car, and the shed. We even went so far as to hide one in the bathroom, below the toilet seat cover! We wrote rhyming clues on winter stationary, so Ann would have to search for the presents. When Ann arrived on Christmas Day, we went right into the hunt. It was so much fun to see how excited she was about the game and the gifts. She ended up with some good loot, too! She got Batman Legos, several gift cards, shoes, and a hooded sweatshirt. I must say the best part was definitely when she looked in the toilet for a gift! Instead of cake, Ann asked my mom to make her a birthday pecan pie. It was cute seeing the candles coming out of the pie while we sang. I really hope that Ann enjoyed it as much as the rest of us did!

A Family Christmas

I hope that everyone had as wonderful of a Christmas as I did! My sister and Ann came into town to celebrate with my mom and me. We had a blast! We started out going to see Christmas lights around Great Bridge and Kempsville. Some people are so creative in their displays, especially Allen (who gives the Griswolds a run for their money) and Preston. We even went to see the house of one of my students. Their display is amazing, with the lights set to several Christmas songs. On Christmas Eve, we each got to open one present. My mom and I each got a calendar that my sister made for us, which is awesome and filled with pictures from the last year. My sister got a clock from Pottery Barn. Thanks to Sampras, we all woke up early on Christmas Day. I was downstairs around 5:30, and my mom was already waiting. Sara wandered down a few minutes later, and we eventually emptied our stockings. Mine was filled with perfume, lottery tickets (I won a dollar), candy, and many other goodies. Later in the day, we ate a buffet-style meal of ham, baked hashbrowns, corn, broccoli, rolls, green slushy punch, and sparkling cider. It was delicious, but my mom's cooking always is! Eventually, Ann came over (from her parents' house), and we got to opening presents. We were all quite spoiled, as usual. I finally got a Tivo, so now I won't miss all the good shows when I'm out and about or fast asleep! Perhaps my funniest gift was a chair to sit in at kickball games. The back of it reads "Kickball Superstar." I love it, but I am a little worried about living up to the expectations it will surely bring! At the end of the day, I received more wonderful gifts than I could ever deserve or list on here. In fact, we all did. Even Sampras got in on the gift action, opening a big purple ball, treats, and other toys. It was a blast to see him try to get it all out of the box to play with. It was a day when I really realized how blessed we all truly are, not just because of the gifts, but also because of the time we got to spend together!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

A Kickball Christmas

Last Friday, I was able to kick-off the weekend before Christmas with my second family, the Crazy Kickers. Preston and Karen were kind enough to invite the entire team over for a pre-Christmas celebration. It was great to see everyone. Since the kickball season ended in October, I haven't seen some of my teammates in a few months. We were all asked to bring a side dish/appetizer to go along with the ham provided by Dude and Ma. I brought Baked Hashbrowns (an Iowa recipe), which I thought tasted pretty good considering the fact that it was the first time I had ever made them (and the fact that I mess up everything I ever attempt in the kitchen). The food was all delicious! We also were asked to bring a $10 gift to use in a Yankee (Dirty Santa) gift swap. I am proud to say that the Best Buy gift card I provided was quite popular (the most stolen gift of the night). I was impressed by all of the creative gifts that people brought: games, lottery tickets, beer kegs, gift cards, cookie jars, etc. It was a lot of fun, but I must say that the best part was just talking to and spending time with friends. It was especially cool that Ben had come in from Florida, where he has been living since he got married in August. Also great was seeing Cattina, who is more than ready to welcome little Cali into the world any day now (so exciting)! It amazes me that all of us are soooo different but that we can get along so well. It may sound cliche, but I really do feel like we are family.