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Thursday, January 15, 2015


This year we wanted to be home for Christmas, waking up in our own home on Christmas morning and taking advantage of the winter weather in Texas were perks too good to give up. Luckily, all of the Giorgianis were on board, and flew on down to our neck of the woods for the holiday. 

The weather cooperated, in a beautiful 65-degree-way, and my brothers graciously slept on couches and floor mattresses to make the holiday a success.

The kids were thrilled to have so many additional people to entertain them. And they adored every minute of it. So did we.

Alex enjoying some one on one time with Uncle Robbie.

Gretchen making cookies with Grammy.

Papa Mas and Alex playing telephone with a wrapping paper roll.

That is, before Alex runs away and Papa Mas follows cautiously.

We wrapped the kids in their fuzzy, feetie, entirely too warm for the weather pjs and read the Night Before Christmas. We also ready the Spirit of Christmas, another fantastic Christmas book if you're looking for one.

The next morning, Santa didn't disappoint! Alex was the first one up - no surprise there - and he enjoyed a solo toy preview for the next 2.5 hours as we waited for his sleepy sister to wake up and enjoy them for herself.

After opening presents, we enjoyed the spring-like weather and played with all of the fancy new items from under the tree. Uncle Chris and Papa Mas help Alex ride his sister's scooter. She put on all of the pads, and he rode it the entire time.

Gretchen spent her time very safely blowing bubbles in the driveway.

We were thrilled to have cousins Julia and Justice come to visit. Gretchen and Justice were two peas in a pod, with the same shocking energy and ability to out shout us all.

Julia is an incredible young lady who Alex took an instant liking to. He gave hugs, sat on her lap and even wore her shoes.

We enjoyed the company, and are so thankful for family who is willing to travel. We also want to acknowledge our family's mutual love of horizontal stripes. Thank you all for visiting, what a very merry end to 2014!!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Santa Prep

Christmas this year has been the talk of our house since early November. Gretchen could not wait for us to decorate and was constantly telling us which decorations we should get for the house. She loves all things inflatable or light up, or really anything at all Christmas related.

The issue is that we gave away the majority of our Christmas decorations before leaving Argentina, between the lack of storage space and the bulk of garland, we were happy to give our things a new home. This meant that, as with most things this year, we were starting anew. 

We made the decision to start slow, this year we would buy a tree (artificial, for the mess-averse, allergy-riddled folks that we are) and build additional Christmas items in the years to come. Luckily, this decision coincided with the opening of a new Costco in our area, which had the best price on a pre-lit tree, so we spent Costco's opening day working to beat the rush and buy a tree.

But first, we need to crawl on and off the owl chair.

Then we made it to Costco and found our perfect tree. Which didn't fit in the trunk of my car. So we left the box at the store and shoved the branches into every possible crevice of my car. Gretchen thought it was the best thing that could have happened.

Without a box, the tree went up immediately in our living room. The kids could not keep their hands off of it.

They were enthralled.

It was pretty wonderful to see the joy and amazement in our two little snowflakes. 

And this combination created a rare agreeable photo opportunity. I was in my happy place. 

Such innocence, preparing for Christmas is so much fun, even with the bottom third of the tree empty.

Last stop, Santa Claus's lap. This precious Santa was at our local HEB and was great with our kids. The store had a post-Santa make your own snowman cupcake station, so that was a huge hit with a certain little sweet-tooth. 

Santa prep complete. Bring on Christmas!

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Elys Hit Houston

It only makes sense that some of our most spirited friends have a family of spirited, fun, huge-personality children. It makes for an incredible weekend when the whole crew chooses to come and visit us for their first family plane trip. Hilarity commence.

Jude has got to be the most animated child I know. He will run up to you with breaking news about a Ninja Turtle, or something he did last week or something funny that someone said yesterday. He has incredible energy and I can't remember seeing him without a smile on his face. Together with another 100% energy child, Gretchen, the two of them together were great to watch. Incredibly, one night they both fell asleep while watching a movie - a first for this Gill child - which leads me to believe that they miraculously tired each other out. Until this weekend, I didn't know it could be done.

The photo highlight for the 3-year-olds was when we found a lizard in the backyard. Such intensity. 

Then, a perfect photo depiction of these two, Jude is telling Gretchen something majorly important, Gretchen is not sure - and way more interested in the lizard.

So much life in this tiny, yet very tall for his age, body.

His sisters have plenty of spunk to offer as well. This little lady is the most focused four-year-old I have ever seen. She is silly and sweet and loves to draw. She brings to light how immense the difference of a 2 year old and a 4 year old are. Night and Day.
The eldest Ely is a hilarious mix of child and adult. She texts, makes slow motion videos and tells me all able the best cute puppy apps to add to my phone. She also makes a great soft serve Washington Monument.

Thank goodness to friends with cameras, Meghan was on point to get these great outdoor pictures of the kids. This is a split second succession of Alex - from exhausted-looking to elated in a millisecond.

We had great weather, which to me means that we played outside for awhile. To the Elys, it means we get in the unheated pool in December. I still can't believe that happened. Even Gretchen got in on the pool party.

Gretchen in her happy place.

2 guys, 4 swinging kids. 10 years ago, who knew this would be happening?? 

Ely-Monkeys giving all kinds of smiles
Alex's favorite game of "brush off the mulch" 
The only mom picture of the weekend
We ate Mexican, went to the park, had a fire, enjoyed the hot tub (heated for the thinner-skinned adults) and watched movies. It was bliss, we welcome you back anytime.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Halloween Festivities

Halloween has always been an amazing thing to explain to a child. "That's right, you go to everyone's house, even the people we don't know, knock on their door and they will give you candy." For free. No strings attached. You can imagine how excited our little sweet tooth was at this revelation.

"This has been the best Halloween of my life." That is a direct quote.

The kids were very excited to carve pumpkins, and then immediately disliked the squishy insides. They were excited to watch mom and dad take care of things, and stay far away from the stringy stuff.

Gretchen was trying her mightiest to carry the pumpkins, this one brought a bead of sweat to her brow.

As with most things these days, Halloween was a multi-day celebration. Between the pumpkin patch, carving pumpkins, school celebration, local mom-group celebration and the actual day, our kids believe that Halloween is roughly the length of Hanukkah. It was really fun to see her in the Halloween parade at school. She wanted to be Minnie Mouse for school, so the dress came out of hiding and a Minnie Mouse was born. Again.

Then Snow White came out on the real day.

Along with a precious little Sully Monster. Such a fantastic birthday gift for our little guy, thank you Santi and Diana!

Actual Halloween trick or treating was incredibly fun, even more so than I remember as a kid. It is incredible to watch your own kids light up as they collect their goods. It was a great first Halloween in a traditional setting, we had a blast and the kids were excited, exhausted and thrilled. Let's do it again next year!