The holiday season is always special to me and a great time spent with family and friends, but something was different this year. This year, Christmas was spectacular. This year, it was really amazing and my heart is full of gratitude.
We started our Christmas celebrating with Hayden and Brendan's school concerts and class parties. Such a joy to see all of these beautiful little faces singing and so excited for the holidays. I was also thrilled that the kids loved my Smiling Snowman cupcakes!
Alex and I had been wanting to renew our vows for a while. We decided that there was no more perfect time to do it than right before Christmas. It was a very intimate ceremony held in the same church we were married and officiated by the same priest who married us in 2004. It was beautiful. Magical really. We truly couldn't have asked for more.
We had a big brunch in the city with Alex's side of the family. It's something we've done every year and is such a great opportunity to see the extended family and for the kids to play with so many of their cousins. We didn't do the brunch last year, because Alex's father passed away on December 6th. This year we wanted to make sure we all got together, not only to see each other, but to remember Pops.
Hayden and I had a girls day. We took the train into the city and saw the Radio City Christmas Spectacular. Even though she loved seeing the Rockettes in their sparkly dresses, she didn't last the entire show. We made it for 70 of the 90 minutes, not bad for a 3 year old. I was just so happy to have the experience of seeing the show together and taking her on her first train ride.
This is both my mom's birthday and Royce's birthday! We always celebrate together and this year we took a bunch of Royce's friends to the Islanders game and it was awesome.
Christmas Eve is a big night in our house. My father is from Austria and I grew up celebrating Christmas Eve the way he did. Alex and I love the Austrian Christmas Eve tradition so much that we have continued it in our house.
In Austria, Christmas Eve is a big celebration filled with family, friends, songs, going to church and a traditional dinner. The meal is followed by the ringing of a bell. The bell means that presents are beneath the tree and the kids come running. In Austria, children are taught that their presents have been brought by the "Kristkindl," a golden-haired baby with wings, who symbolizes the new born Christ.
Of course, we believe in Santa. So we blend the tradition of the bell and gifts after dinner, but they are delivered by Santa rather than by the Kristkindl. We just tell the kids that our house is one of Santa's first stops Christmas Eve and that's why we get our presents before Christmas morning.
It takes a lot of planning to make the gifts appear under the tree without the kids noticing. Each year, we come up with different distractions for them, like giving them baths after dinner and ringing the bell once they're all in their pajamas. It's an amazing sight to see them running down the stairs and out the front door looking for Santa and his sleigh, then running back inside and screaming with delight that presents are under the tree.
Of course, it's not a holiday in our house without the funny hats. Don't know where that tradition came from, but I love it.
I was spoiled this Christmas. Not because of any material gift, it was being surrounded by the people I love most in the world and seeing each one of them happier than they've been in a long time.....including myself.
I hope each of you had a warm, wonderful and happy holiday season surrounded by the people you love most.
I can say, without a doubt, that this Halloween was the best ever. It was full of school events, family, friends and lots of trick-or-treating.
Having Halloween fall on a school day was actually a lot more fun than I even thought it would be. With 3 of our kids in 3 different schools, we had 2 parades and 1 school performance all within a 2 hour time frame, but it was awesome.
Alex and I hadn't dressed up for Halloween since we were dating, but we looked at each other this year and said, "Let's do it." The kids are only young once and we want them to remember Mom and Dad being silly and dressing up right along with them. We decided on Alice in Wonderland and the Mad Hatter.
We hope you all had a fun, safe and spooky Halloween too!