The Adventure Starts Here: 2015

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Mama & Noah Currently

I think this may be my last month doing my "Mama & Noah Currently" in this format.  While I have loved doing it over the past year, I find that sometimes it's hard to find photos for everything that we are currently into.  So while I may change up the format a bit, I still plan to share our monthly interests.  

And if you want to look back through the year, you can check out November 2014December 2014January 2015February 2015March 2015April 2015May 2015June 2015July 2015August 2015September 2015October 2015, and November 2015.

This is what we've been up to in December 2015...


cookies | clementines


Playing with

wrapping | Legos

Working on

backing up our photos and videos | Grandparent gifts


The Big Bang Theory (and Sheldon & Amy finally having sex!) | 
Ben and Holly's Little Kingdom (with almost all the same voices as Peppa Pig!)

What have you been up to this month?

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Happy Birthday Chris! | The Guy Behind the Blog

Just stopping by to wish my wonderful husband, Chris, a super happy birthday!  We will be spending the day as a family and going out to dinner with his parents tonight to celebrate not only Chris' birthday but also his dad's.  

from Chris' birthday last year

And since today is Chris' birthday, I thought it would be the perfect day to share a little more about Chris for The Guys Behind the Blog link-up.  

1. What's on your Christmas list this year?
The big gift on my list this year is a remote starter for my car. I leave for work very early in the morning and having my car warmed up when I go outside will be very convenient.  Also, when I get off the train on cold days I can also save time by having the car already warmed up by the time I get to it.  Other things on the list are smaller items like iPhone headphones, socks, etc.

2. Did you believe in Santa as a child? Do you have any funny Santa stories?
I did believe in Santa and I'm embarrassed to say that the whole Santa isn't real thing was ruined by my younger brother who was 2 years younger than me and who found out at school and then told me.   I was at the point where I was having serious questions about the validity of Santa, but my brother put those questions to rest.

3. What is a Christmas tradition you hope to pass on someday?
The Christmas tradition that I hope to pass on is doing the advent calendar because I think it's a great build up to Christmas day and even when Noah is older we can find fun and unique items to put in the calendar to count down to Christmas.

4. Do you open presents on Christmas morning or a different time?
Christmas morning is when I open presents, unless I'm seeing people that I won't see at all on Christmas, then I make an exception.

5. What is your favorite Christmas song?  Movie?
My favorite Christmas song is Jingle Bells because it's such a classic.  My favorite Christmas movie is A Christmas Story.  I've watched it literally every year since I can remember.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Christmas with the Flinns 2015

Yesterday, I did a little Christmas Eve recap.  Today I'm back to share all about how we spent Christmas Day.  Yesterday, I mentioned that we spend Christmas Eve with my family and Christmas Day with Chris' family.  Since we live so close (within 10-15 minutes) to both of our parents, not only do we get to split up the holiday to see both each year, but we also get to do Christmas morning at our own house, just the three of us.  I absolutely love this and enjoy this tradition more and more as Noah gets older.  

Chris' pants (similar) | Noah's pjs (Hanna Andersson no longer available) | Noah's hat
my leggings | my shirt

Christmas in our house begins with the stockings.  I grew up where Santa left the stocking either by our door or our bed (I guess it depended on our age and how sound we slept).  Growing up, my brothers and I would wake up EARLY!  I'm talking 4:30 AM early... and it was usually me leading the pack!  The reason I love this stocking tradition, and plan to continue it with Noah, is that it allows him to open something right away and gives Chris and I some time to get ready in the morning (whether it be a quick shower or just brushing our teeth and putting some makeup on).  So Noah woke up around 7:30 (extremely reasonable in my eyes), to his stocking and some wrapped books under his mini Christmas tree.  We made sure to fill his stocking with things that would keep him entertained, like paper, stickers, and books.  Honestly, Noah was so in love with his stocking that I think he thought that was it.  When I was finished getting ready, I came in to find him and Chris very involved with an astronaut sticker book and had to talk Noah into going downstairs ;)

After opening his stocking, it was time to see what Santa left by the tree.  At this age, we haven't really had to label gifts "from Santa" versus "from Mom & Dad".  Noah can't read and he honestly doesn't care.  The only gifts I know for sure came from Santa were the T-Rex (that Buddy the elf actually brought) and the "baby Mickey" plush doll, since those are the things Noah specifically asked for from Santa.  Other than that, it's anyone's guess.  If you would like, I can do another post with some of Noah's (and my) favorite gifts this year.  Let me know if that's something you'd be interested in.  

While most of the gifts under the tree were for Noah, there were a few for Chris and me.  Noah was so cute helping us open each thing and was genuinely excited for our gifts as well as his own.  While Chris and I gifted each other mostly things that we asked for, he did surprise me with a new Coach wristlet (in a beautiful teal color) and Noah gave me a beautiful hand painted mug!

After the last gift under the tree was unwrapped, we went down to the basement where Noah found that Santa had left him a mini trampoline and a Paw Patrol rug (from Costco).  He absolutely loves them both!  Then it was time to play!  Noah and Chris were equally excited to open this V-Tech Dinosaur to Digger toy.  The funny thing is, Chris bought this toy for Noah last Christmas, but last minute decided he was a little young for it.  This year, after Noah was so interested in his cousin's Transformer toys, Chris thought it would be a good time to give it to him.  And honestly, it's one of Noah's favorite toys... he even picked it as the one toy to bring to Nonna & Granddad's house to play with on Christmas Day!    

After some more playing and a bath, we headed over to Chris' parents' house.  The same group of family and friends from Thanksgiving were there, and we had some equally warm temperatures!  That meant we could take another group photo outside ;)

Upon our arrival, we immediately grabbed some beverages and started opening gifts.  In Chris' family, one person (it's been Chris' brother, Justin, since I've been around) acts as "Santa" and hands out the gifts one at a time.  We all watch as each person unwraps their gifts.  I have to give these two kids credit for patiently waiting and playing with their gifts while the adults opened theirs :)

^^^ Noah helped Nonna and Granddad open their gifts, which also included a handmade plate and a personalized calendar :)

^^^ I love a good Christmas Day mimosa :)

I think my favorite part of the day was watching Noah interact with his Great Great Uncle Bobby (Noah's Nonna's uncle).  They were sitting next to each other while opening gifts and somehow Noah began "tickling" him.  The funny thing about Noah tickling is that he doesn't actually tickle.   He moves his fingers on you and says "tickle tickle", but it definitely doesn't feel like tickling ;)  The two of them continued this game the rest of the day and it truly was the cutest thing to watch.  I'm so glad Chris called me over and said I had to get a picture of this!

^^^ this dry erase activity workbook was a real winner!  Noah spent all afternoon working on it :)

^^^ I love how Ninja Turtles were popular when I was a kid and again now!

^^^ Nonna and Granddad gave Noah the 2015 Hess Truck (which is a fire truck).  Everyone wanted to play with it... and not just the kids!

In addition to exchanging gifts, we had a delicious buffet lunch/dinner with all my favorites... baked ziti, chicken marsala, kale salad.  We finished the evening with a Venetian table full of the most delicious desserts :)

Flinn Family 2015

Noah's shirt | my shirt | my scarf

We hope you had a wonderful Christmas just as we did!  Do you have any traditions that are unique to your family?

Monday, December 28, 2015

Christmas Eve with the Freels | 2015

Can you believe Christmas is over???  With all the buildup and preparations we did over the month of December, it's hard to believe that it's already over and done!  In our family, we spend Christmas Eve with my family and Christmas Day with Chris' family.  Christmas Eve with my family was a little more low key than it was last year since my brothers and Noah's cousins did not come down to NJ this year.  While I love spending time with the entire family and watching Noah play with his cousins, it was also nice to have a relaxed day with lots of gift opening, toy playing, song singing, and food eating.  

We headed over to my parents' house early afternoon and Noah was immediately in awe of all the presents under the tree and asked if they were for him... they were ;)  My mom had appetizers out, so we tried to distract Noah with food and Elmo's Christmas Countdown.  Even Elmo couldn't win out over the appeal of all those gifts, so we gave in and decided to move on to gifts earlier than planned.

I loved Christmas this year because Noah finally really got it.  While he enjoyed opening gifts last year, this year he got into the whole Santa thing and was super excited for Christmas to come. It was really fun watching him unwrap a gift and then ask Chris or me to "open that".  We'd ask if he wanted to take a break to play with said toy, and he'd quickly change his mind and decide to unwrap more gifts instead.  

^^^ while we didn't see my younger brother this Christmas, he and his husband did send Noah a toy :)  I'm so glad we got to see my older brother and his family a few weeks ago for an "early Christmas"!

Noah took a break from opening gifts to give my parents' theirs.  Each year, Noah makes them something and I gift them a personalized calendar from Shutterfly.  Just like last year, we went to a paint your own ceramic place.  This year, Noah chose all the paint colors (yellow of course) and painted a small plate for them complete with his cute little 3 year old handprint.  

While my parents give the adults checks, my mom also wants us to have a present to unwrap as well. This year, the theme seemed to be leather.  Chris got some new brown shoes for work and I got this Madewell cross body bag.  Noah was very helpful in opening all the presents :)

^^^ despite it being 70 degrees on Christmas Eve, we are hopeful for a snowy winter ;)

Noah got some pretty cool gifts this year.  His favorites were the magnatiles (not pictured), this Vtech Go Go Smart Garage, and a ukulele (or a guitar as Noah calls it) from my dad.  I say that the ukulele is from my dad because my mom normally does all the shopping.  But whenever a musical instrument is involved (which there often is in my family), my dad is the one to do it ;)

While we made sugar cookies at home the day before, I still thought it would be fun to decorate some cookies on Christmas Eve to leave out for Santa at my parents' house.  My mom baked the cookies ahead of time so all we had to do was decorate.  I guess Noah was all cookied out, because he mixed some food coloring in the icing (and got it all over his hands) and then decided he'd have enough and would rather play with his toys.  My mom and I were left to decorate all on our own.  

In my family, we love to sing songs at Christmas time.  My dad takes out his guitar and we sing all the traditional Christmas songs (Jingle Bells, Frosty the Snowman, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, and Santa Claus is Coming to Town).  This year, my dad set Noah up on his ukulele and gave him a capo to use and everything.  It was so cute to see Noah strumming along on his "guitar" just like Papa!  I was also impressed to see how much better Noah got on it in just one evening.  When he first got the ukulele, he was strumming a little too hard, but with practice he was playing so nice and gently.  

It was finally time for dinner (ham, mashed potatoes, and veggies), where Noah got a very full stocking from Grandma & Papa.  It was so cute, because leading up to Christmas, my mom kept asking me if certain things were "okay."  For instance, she didn't know if Noah would get confused if he got a stocking on Christmas Eve as well.  I would say that of course it was okay, and that if Noah seemed confused, I would have an explanation ready so he wouldn't get confused with the whole Santa thing.  I figured I could always tell him that while Santa fills the stocking he opens on Christmas morning, other people (like grandparents) can fill stockings to give you as well.  Honestly, I don't think Noah even cared and just liked opening more things ;)

The "Freel" family on Christmas Eve 2015 versus last year!

After dinner, I put Noah in his PJs and we put some cookies and chocolate milk out for Santa and left a real big carrot out for Rudolph (according to Noah the other reindeer don't get to eat).  I then got a picture of Noah sitting on the stairs just like we had done years ago with my niece and nephew one Christmas Eve.  We finished the night by reading "The Night Before Christmas" before heading home to bed.  

^^^ Noah's Hanna Andersson pajamas are no longer online

Even though we only live about 10 minutes away, Noah passed out on the way home.  It worked out well because it meant I could transfer him into his bed and get to work being Santa.  Chris and I ran around bringing up the presents, filling Noah's stocking, and making sure everything looked perfect for Christmas morning :)

Did you have a wonderful Christmas Eve?  Do you have any special family traditions?
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