Monday, November 28, 2011

Here comes Santa Claus...

Last Saturday we took the kids to Bass Pro to visit Santa. Times sure have changed for us. It seems like yesterday they were screaming when we tried to place them on Santa's lap for a picture. I still remember the year Emma was 2 or 3 and she waited in line nicely and when we got up to see Santa she walked right on by him and said "No, thanks!" This year they could hardly wait to tell Santa what they want for Christmas and how good they've been. Emma was so sweet and let her brother go first. I love how she has her hand on his back!

Then it was her turn.

They love the nutcrackers!

Max wanted to take that train set home.

The kids had fun playing with the games/toys they had set up around the store.(I just deleted some cute pics of Emma with the pink Red Ryder gun--her great uncles would be so proud!)

The carousel was new this year and was so cute with the reindeer, moose, and polar bears.

After seeing Santa and playing games it was time to write their letters. Max only asked for Legos. (I think because he knows how to spell Lego!) Emma asked for a few things too!

Mailing their letters to the North Pole.

Friday Night Fun

Friday nights in the Hillen home are usually pretty low, movies, games, a little Wii. We like to stay in after a busy work/school week and save the fun for the weekend.

This past Friday was a little different since we were off from school all was glorious!! I started the day by going black Friday shopping at 1:30 a.m thanks to my sis...she wanted to go at midnight but I convinced her that we needed a little sleep. Thankfully, my mom, sister, sister in-law, and I didn't run into any black Friday craziness and had so much fun! We try to go every year(usually at 4 a.m.) but missed out going together last year due to my nephew Noah's birth one week prior. After shopping, we visited with my parents and had some yummy leftovers for lunch! Then we headed to our hotel, the Rosen Plaza, for the weekend. They were just starting to put up Christmas decorations and the kids LOVED the toy soldiers. They wanted to bring one home.

After exploring the hotel for a little bit we headed to Pointe Orlando for dinner at Adobe Gilla's
with Damian's good friend Bob who lives nearby. I had some fabulous fajitas and was so exhausted at this point that we walked around and made it an early night. Both Damian and Bob had to work at their golf courses that morning so the adults were all a little from that early morning shopping! The kids were ready to go since they had naps so they played, jumped on the hotel beds, and watched movies! They both love staying at a hotel. They are always up for a little adventure. Although it wasn't a really late night, it was a fun Friday night!

Mommy and Me Monday

Saturday evening we celebrated Damian's Aunt Toots and Uncle Max's 50th Wedding Anniversary at Maggiano's. It was so much fun to meet a couple of Damian's cousins and an aunt and uncle who came all the way from Arizona and Alaska. And of course see the rest of the family, some we haven't seen in a few years. We made a little vacation out of the weekend and stayed at the Rosen Plaza in Orlando. It was a much needed vacation but I was glad to get home home yesterday.

Here's a pic from Saturday night with my sweet kiddos!

Sunday, November 27, 2011


This year for Thanksgiving we spent the day with my family.

It was a day filled with family, fun, and togetherness!

It's always a little hectic with 9 kids! (I still can't believe another little baby boy will be here in just a couple of short months...Woaaa...10 kids 10 and under!!!)

We feasted, some of us may have had was that good! We played, we read ads in preparation of our black Friday shopping, we made crafts, watched football, some of us napped, some of us ate again, we built a fire and were blown away with all the smoke.

I looked over while my dad was carving the turkey and Noah and Lola were begging for some was too cute! Noah started to crawl away when I grabbed my camera.

After we ate entirely too much food, and the dishes were done. We headed outside for some craft time. I had brought brown paper bags for the kids to make tee-pees but when I saw some of the old bamboo laying on the ground I thought it would work better. The kids wore Papaw's old t-shirts and had the BEST time painting their tee-pees!

I also painted their handprint turkeys on burlap to make wall hangings but it was a process with all the kids and I didn't get many pics.
While I worked on the turkeys, my sis in-law Christine was putting together the Christmas wish lists. We used scrapbook paper, the hot glue gun, and red & green ribbon. The goal was to have the kids cut out pics from the ads to attach to their ribbons. We brought them home to put the pics on though. We had enough mess with the paint and I forgot the extra kid scissors at my house.

It was a beautiful day outside and a little windy and poor Christine almost burnt her thumbs off when the wind blew the ribbon with the hot glue back on her hands! Aside from the injuries, it was so much fun to do crafts with the kids...they were asking for more!

My dad decided to put some of his bamboo to use and had the kids help him build a tee-pee. He put it together and put some blankets on the top. Needless to say it was a hit with the cousins! They even played a little limbo with some extra bamboo!

We made memories that will last a lifetime!

'tis the season

I am so excited that the holiday season is upon us. Our Thanksgiving was unforgettable and full of togetherness. "The girls" were back and better than ever for black Friday shopping and we topped off our weekend with a 50th Anniversary celebration for Damian's Aunt Toots and Uncle Max. The kids were so excited to stay at a "fancy" hotel and we even snuck in a visit to Santa at Bass Pro. Needless to say, I have many pictures and stories to share.

However, first things's time to start thinking about our family Christmas cards. I have used several different photo sharing companies in the past, but this year I am thrilled to be able to try something new...Tiny Prints.

I am already quite impressed by their website. There is a huge selection of stylish, quality products that work with every budget. While I am new to their site I have received birth announcements from friends that have ordered through Tiny Prints. Those adorable announcements are still hanging up on our family cork board.

It's going to be a tough decision to choose just one card, but so far here are a few of my favorite choices.

This card is simple and sweet!

This card is so different than what I would normally choose but I love everything about it!

I love how this card is an ornament and there are so many different clever!

These cards are just a tiny sampling that can be found on the Tiny Prints website . I love all of the modern choices. I cannot wait to see my family's pictures in one of these cards. My friend Heather took our family pictures last weekend and I LOVE them. I'll share all of them and the card I chose after I make my final selection. Click on over to Tiny Prints to order your family Christmas card or any other special occasion announcement.

Now it's time to pull out the Christmas cards, pictures, and letters from years past. It's one of my favorite things to do when we get the Christmas bins down from the attic. Next weekend we are going to Ergle's Christmas tree farm for our annual trip to cut down our tree and Emma will be doing her Christmas ballet performance and riding in the Christmas parade. It really is the most wonderful time of year!

**I am participating in the Holiday 2011 Christmas Card Blog Campaign.**

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Sunday Best

I love having a little girl to dress up...even though my little girl keeps growing way too fast! Emma looked so adorable for church this morning...all the old ladies were smiling and talking to her! I just had to take a couple of pics when we got home.
**Want to know a little secret...I only spent about $6 on her outfit! I got this dress at Goodwill(brand new--tags still on) and the headband at Family Dollar for $2...I LOVE a good deal...especially when it's so cute!**

four wheelin' fun

Max always wants to be outside and his new toy gives him even more reason to go out and play! He is in little boy heaven with his new four wheeler.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Thankful on Thursday

There are so many people on blogs and facebook giving thanks during the month of November. I love the idea of writing down all of the things I'm most thankful for in my life. I decided to make a top twenty list rather than a daily list because that's what works for me! Although I try to count my blessings daily and throughout the's nice to sit back and think about what I'm most thankful for at this time in my life--both big and small things-- they are all important to me!

1. I am thankful that I was born and raised in a Catholic home. I love being part of the Catholic church and attending mass on Sundays. I love hearing the scripture, singing the songs, and teaching our faith to Emma and Max. I am especially enjoying being a part of and helping out in Religious Education this year.

2. I am thankful for my husband. Of course, that goes without saying. His unconditional love, blue eyes, and handsome smile still make my heart melt. I'm thankful he knows what I'm thinking many times before I even say anything. He gets me...he's the love of my life and best friend. He also makes me laugh all the time. His sense of humor and contagious laugh put a smile on my face. He is not only an amazing hubby, he is a daddy that I always knew he would be to our children. He reads stories, teaches prayers, cooks dinner, cleans occasionally, gives baths, teaches how to ride a bike and hit a baseball, runs around, brings home surprises, makes costumes, sings songs, dances, plays games, gives piggy back rides, builds with legos, plays with dolls, snuggles and this list could go on and on! He is simply terrific...even when he aggravates me!

3. I am thankful for my daughter Emma. I always prayed that I would be a mommy and have a little girl. Having a daughter has been better than I ever imagined. I am thankful for Emma because she is one of a kind! She is loving and thoughtful. She is smart and has common sense. She is compassionate towards others, she cares about other people and their feelings. She is sensitive and dramatic. She is talented at so many things. She is going to do something big in her life. I am so proud to be her Mommy and so thankful she's mine!

4. I am thankful for my son Max. I honestly never knew how much that little boy would melt my heart. He is his father's son for sure. His sweet smile, freckles, and playfulness fill me with joy. He can play all day long and into the night. He is a good boy yet has a stubborn streak. He loves his sister more than anything and is always telling her how pretty she is and how much he loves her. He loves to learn and amazes me with his vocabulary and the things he comes up with. He asks about 500 questions a day and he is obsessed with his lego guys. God blessed me more than I ever hoped for when He gave me a daughter AND a son.

5. I am thankful for my parents, my brother and his family, and my sister and her family. I could go on and on for all that they've done for me and how much they mean to me, but I will simply say that I have the best family and I love them with all my heart---during the good times and the not so good! I think I sometimes take for granted all that I have because it's what I've always known, but as I grow older I appreciate our close knit family even more. I just love all those nieces and nephews and cannot believe that cousin #10 will be here in January!

6. I am thankful for my in-laws. All of them! They are the greatest! I love spending time with them and our family get togethers are always a blast!

7. I am thankful for my extended family both near and far...those that are still here with us and those in heaven. My family has helped shape me into the person I am today and I am definitely beyond blessed to be part of such an amazing family on all sides!

8. I am thankful that Damian and I both have jobs/careers that we love. Teaching is what I always wanted to do since I was a little girl. Although it is tougher than I imagined it would be and can be exhausting most days, I love teaching first graders and feel this is where I belong. Damian also enjoys being the superintendent and loves calling the golf course his "office".

9. I am thankful for my friends. Those that I talk to/spend time with often and those I only see months/years at a time. They each are special and important to me for so many different reasons.

10. I am thankful for modern technology and appliances. What would I do without my dishwasher, washer/dryer(although we have a love-hate relationship), laptop, and cell phone?

11. I am thankful for McDonald's caramel iced coffees. They are what gets me through the day.

12. I am thankful for my intern. I honestly don't know what I'm going to do when she graduates in December. Wish I could pay her to coteach with me!

13. I am thankful for all of the challenges/struggles in my life. They have taught me many lessons and made me a stronger person who appreciates the little things even more.

14. I am thankful I don't get stressed easily...just makes life a little easier.

15. I am thankful for Target. That place has everything and it just makes me happy to shop there.

16. I am thankful for accessories. A necklace can make an outfit!

17. I am thankful for P.F. Changs. I am addicted to their beef and broccoli. Hmmm..wonder if I can talk Damian into going there for a date night soon.

18. I am thankful for date nights. And thankful for grandparents that watch our kids so we can go on date nights. It's so important to spend some one on one time with Damian...even if we do end up talking about how great our kids are all night!!

19. I am thankful for finding good bargains. I love a good hunt!

20. I am thankful for my good health and the good health of my family.

I am so very thankful for all the blessings in my life...all those that have already happened and all those yet to come.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

trick or treating

I was a little worried when it rained all day on Monday. I thought for sure trick or treating would be ruined. Especially after Emma couldn't go to the Switzer's Halloween party because of a stomach bug. (That Princess Jasmine costume has been sitting out and ready to wear since her party!!) Fortunately, the skies cleared up and we had a fantastic night filled with treats. We decided to go to Damian's golf course and use the carts from his shop to trick or treat around the neighborhood. Many of the members of the golf course wanted Damian and I to bring the kids by to show off their costumes. They all just loved seeing the kids! We invited our friends the Switzer's to join us for some trick or treating fun!

Our Princess Jasmine and Police Officer Lego guy were adorable!

The kids had a blast with Super Ninja Brody and Scarecrow Connor

The kids were so cute! They made sure to shout Trick or Treat and were very polite...always saying thank you! Many of the houses were having "block parties". There were so many people out and about. We even ran into several people we knew...girls from Emma's ballet class, people from church, and Max and Brody's Pre-K teacher assistant, Ms. Danielle. (see the picture below in the upper right hand corner!)

It was a GREAT idea to use the golf carts. Damian knows all the short cuts and even took us on quite an adventure through some very tall grass.(I thought we were going to end up in a small pond & I think Jessi was a little worried for a minute there too...whew!!) We had headlights on the carts so we were able to take a water break on the course. The kids loved it!

After we finished at the golf course we headed home to eat dinner(it was a bit of a crazy night!) and stopped at our neighbors house. They are an older retired couple and they loved seeing the kids too. They even made them special goodie bags! So sweet!

My little trick or treaters had a blast!