Here are a few highlights from our Christmas at home--

making cookies on Christmas Eve

Santa did come and bring Ava a kitchen and an umbrella

and Sam a train set and a picnic table

Christmas at Mama's

and at Mimi and Papa's

We had a great Christmas. The kids (especially Ava) loved making cookies for Santa, opening gifts, and getting to see the family. This year was really the first time that Ava understood and it was really magical to watch her eyes light up when she noticed that Santa ate her cookies and to see what he put in her stocking! Merry Christmas everyone!

Christmas in Texas

While we were in Belize, our kids were staying with James' family in Texas. Ann and Sammy (Grandma and Grandpa) were very welcoming and really went out of their way to make sure our kids were comfortable and happy. I am especially grateful for that. Ava is still talking about all the things they did - especially the horse poop!!

We got to spend a couple days with them before we left for Belize.

Ava loved riding the mule with her grandpa to see all the animals. I am kicking myself now for not getting a picture. Here she is getting ready to go.
Such a cutie - boogers and all!

Grandma, Ava and Grandpa waiting in line to see Santa. I did get their picture made, but I don't have a scanner so you will have to take my word it is really cute. They are both actually smiling!!

Still waiting in line!!

James and Sam

While in Texas, we also got to attend the Piraino family Christmas. It was so much fun and I cannot express how glad I am that we got to go. We had some yummy Italian food and had a blast opening gifts. I really enjoyed getting to spend some time with the family since it doesn't happen very often!!

Kim and Sambo

James' cousin, Missy, has two adorable twin girls. Ava had so much fun talking to little Kaylee. I never could get a picture of her sister, Presley.

Sam and his Uncle Steven

Ava pretended like she didn't even know who I was at this party. She was a little social butterfly. Every time I looked up she was doing something different with someone. Once she was putting on makeup with Aunt Barbara then she was having a tea party with Lauren - she seriously loved every minute of it. Here she is with Aunt Jo.

You Better Belize It!!

OK - so I know this is the corniest title for a blog, but I couldn't help myself! James and I were so lucky to get to spend five days in Belize last week. It is the third time we have been, and this place holds a lot of special memories for us.

I missed the kids like crazy, but this trip was amazing and words just won't do it justice, so you will just have to settle for some pictures.

We went fishing a couple days, and the last day James caught these!
Huge barracuda - it took him forever to get this sucker in the boat
Our guide, Tacio, took us all over the island. He is such a fun person to be around and is one of the reasons we love to go.

Tacio cleaned the fish and James cooked for dinner

Merry Christmas

We are leaving today for a little over a week. When we get back I have about a mountain of presents to wrap, Christmas movies to watch, cookies to bake, etc.. Our Christmas card - for those of you that I don't have an address. Merry Christmas from the Piraino Family!!

O Christmas Tree

I am not a big Christmas decorator - never have been. It just seems like so much work - and taking down the decorations - Ugh!! This year I probably did more than I ever have. We have Christmas trees in both kids rooms, a big tree in the living room, wreaths on the door, and Christmas lights!!

Here are the kids with their trees. I had this idea that we would keep them on the floor - HA!! They are now on dressers and out of reach. They both absolutely love them and it was one of the best things that I have done.

Our tree

I really like ornaments and I cant wait until my tree is covered with homemade ornaments from the kids - those are my favorite. In the meantime, I wanted to share some of my favorite ornaments.

Ava's ornament from last year. This was just a very fum memory. She loved everything about making this and she would run and look at it first thing every morning.

An oldie, but a goodie. This one is from Tyler and Nick years ago. Look how little they were!!

Our ornament from Christmas 2005. James and I went to Belize and stayed at the same place we will be staying in a couple days.

Ava's ornament from last year at Mother's Day Out. It is such an Ava face she is making.

Sam's ornament from Mother's Day Out this year. He is by far the youngest in his class and his teacher said he followed directions better than anyone making this ornament. And the poor little second child- I still haven't put a picture in his Baby's first ornament from last year - on my to do list!

This was a gift from James' parents last year- I think it is so sweet!

Also, I wanted to say Happy Birthday to my sister, Erica whose birthday is on Saturday, but I will be out of town. She definitely deserves her own post, but this will have to do. She does so much for everyone else and rarely anything for herself - I want to her to have the MOST special day. I saw this quote once (don't know if these are the exact words, but it is something like this.) "A friend knows the song in your heart and sings it to you when you have forgotten the words." Erica has been that friend for me for as long as I can remember. Happy Birthday!!!

What's Going On...

Well, it has been busy here at the Piraino house.
Next week at this time James and I will be in Belize. I am so excited, but at the same time already know how much I am going to miss the kids. I don't know why it is so hard for me to leave them, but it is. The last time we were in Belize, James proposed. So much in our lives has changed since that last trip, and I am excited about going back to where it all began!

My last class of the semester is tomorrow night. I have a huge final and I have been studying like crazy. The class is Research Methods and I will be so glad when it is over!!

I love being a mother to Sam, but does he ever wear me out! Today alone he knocked over the tree in our kitchen, ate about a handful of dog food, broke three Christmas ornaments, broke baby Jesus' arms off the Nativity scene, and dropped two tins of Christmas candy that I had made as gifts! But he also gave me kisses all day, said three new words, and he laughed so hard at Ava that he fell down! He makes me totally crazy, but he makes my day every day.

Ava helped me make Christmas candy and cookies over the weekend. Can you tell she liked it?? She has started calling me "mom." Seriously, what is that about? I thought that would start when she was ten or something. Today she said, "Mom, Sam is my best friend." I look at her all the time and I can't believe that I created someone inside of me so beautiful - and I am not talking about her blond hair or her blue eyes. She is just beautiful from the inside.

And Happy 18th Birthday to Conner!! (I am mailing your card tomorrow)