It’s ‘snow’ fun to play outside!!!

We finally had enough snow to make it worth while to drag out hats and mittens and snow pants and boots. I had managed to avoid the inevitable for a couple of days, but the natives were restless. I finally gave in and after a thorough search for all things snow gear and about 20 minutes of dressing and undressing and redressing Isaac, Hannah , Gianna and Noah were ready to head outside into the winter wonderland that was our front yard.

Once the kids were outside happily playing, I was running around the house getting dinner ready and picking up when I hear the kids screaming for me. I ran outside and this is what I saw…

Yep….a pony.
Welcome to Dayton Pennsylvania folks! Some people get their neighbors dogs in their yards, we get their horses and ponies. Too funny!
The girls were starting to make snow angels. Notice the pony in the background.
Gianna, my little snow bunny!
Hannah, the snow angel
Noah, our little devil, he was having some issues because someone threw a snowball at him.
Trying to catch some flakes
They were starting to get cold here, but still hanging on!
Noah was finally smiling!
Bubba was having a blast, although he wanted to go sledding. Too bad, no big kids = no sledding. Maybe next time.
Aiden was quite happy to stay snuggly and warm inside with Joey.
Fun was had by all, at least until mittens started falling off and hands started to freeze and noses started to run and all of that other fun stuff! They came in the house and got warm baths and put on snuggly jammies and we had a movie/dinner night in the living room.
I love winter!!!

Christmas with the Gagginis

Sunday was Christmas round #1. We braved the snow and coldness and headed to Ponderosa Heights to share a wonderful dinner with my family at Mom and Dad’s house. We (thankfully!) made it up the driveway and hauled all of our stuff into the house to be greeted with the wonderful smells of Christmas!!! ham, potatoes, roast beast…I mean roast beef!…lazy susan salad, fried green beans, cookies and fudge…It was so very, very, very good! I practically had to roll out to the van. After dinner we opened presents! The kids were DYING to get to the part of the day.
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care….A LOT of stockings!
Everyone was thrilled with their goodies. Mama and Pap-pap did it again!
What do you do with a scurvy pirate??? Arghh matey!
Isabella LOVED her makeup… maybe a little bit too much!
The boys trying out their new remote control cars.
Hannah and Gianna waiting patiently for the green light to unwrap!
Jake was focused on putting together his 3d dinosaur puzzle.
DJ was doodling on Gia’s art desk.
Chris is more than meets the eye!!!! He was loving his new transformer jammies.
The best gift of all…the Steelers win!!! A true Christmas miracle!!
Jess and a wiggly Abby
Me and Mini-me
Pap-pap and his littlest granddaughter, Francesca
Daddy and Aiden
Our very own little Santa Baby
We had a lot of fun and good food, but most importantly precious time with our loved ones. All in all Christmas Round #1 was a huge success!


For those of you who know me, (and I am assuming that you all do or you wouldn’t be reading this!!) you are aware that I can be a bit sarcastic… Ok, I can be a lot sarcastic. Just ask my kids! You know it’s pretty bad when you say, “Good job guys!” and they look at you kind of confused and ask, “For real or are you being sarcastic?” Hey, I know that I’m not perfect. I’m working on it, but in the mean time, being the mother in a “mega-family” gives me plenty of opportunities to flex my mouth muscles. If you have more than 3 kids, you probably know where I’m going with this. You unload the smallest kids from the van directly into a grocery cart. Then you order those not small enough to actually fit in the cart to grab onto the side of the cart and hang on or they will get lost or a “yuck guy ” will steal them and we will never see them again. ( Fear works wonders when you are significantly outnumbered!) You then grab another grocery cart for groceries and somehow, perhaps through the grace of God, manage to maneuver both carts and 5 little kids into the store. You might be wondering where the 3 older kids are at this point. Pick an activity, it could be basketball, youth group, at a friends house…whatever. The point is that they aren’t with me so I have no help. I start filling up cart #2 with various household items as well as a little treat specifically purchased for bribery for good behavior! ( Bribery also works wonders when you are outnumbered!) The kids are being pretty good and then it happens. You notice the open mouth gawking or maybe the actual counting aloud…”One, two, three, four, FIVE kids!!!” I just smirk thinking “HA HA I have three more that aren’t here right now! You think that five is a lot, how about EIGHT!!?”And then comes the inevitable question, “Umm, excuse me, but are they all yours?” Wellllll, duh! Like I would voluntarily take five kids that belong to someone else to the grocery store?! Usually I just smile and nod and we continue on our way, but sometimes we are pursued. “Do they all have the same dad?” or “Don’t you have cable?” or there is always my favorite, “Are you CRAZY!?” Seriously?! ” Yes.” This is usually said through gritted teeth. “Wow! That’s a lot of kids! Better you than me!” This is when I get to be a little bit of a smarty-pants. ” Yes! You are right, better me than you!” We have also been asked if we knew what caused “it.” By “it” I assume that they mean more kids. I have been known to wink and say , “Yes and obviously we are pretty good at it too! huh?!” One time I was at the hair salon. I was pregnant with Noah at the time. He is number 7. The stylist asked me if I was going to get fixed after I had him!!! I just looked at her and said, “I’m not a cat and I’m not broken. I have nothing that needs to be fixed. ”

For some reason people feel the need to apologize for only having 1 or 2 kids. For the record, I firmly in my heart of hearts believe that God will give you the number of children that will bring you the closest to him. For some that is 1 child. For some 2 or 3 children. For some 8 or 10. And some people might not have any. I just know that for some reason Brian and I have been entrusted with the job of raising these 8 little souls to grow strong in their faith and love of God. This is the number that God has given us, at least for now. We are definitely drawn closer to God daily. We are always praying and talking to God. It could be something as profound as “Please God help my children to know what vocation you are calling them to when they grow up. ” or something as simple as “Please God help me to not kill Noah because he has ripped the wallpaper off of the wall in the hallway for the 7th time this week.” It could even just be “Help Me GOD!” All that I know is that if having the gift of each one of my little blessings means that people will make their snotty little comments at us or just stare in awe at the shear size of our family, I will happily deal with it. My response when someone says, “WOW! You sure have your hands full!” I just smile and say, “Rather full than empty!”
My 8 little blessings

It was all around us. It was affecting everyone around us, but we managed to remain unscathed…that is until two weeks ago. It started with a sniffle here, a cough there and then the fevers set in. From Hannah on down, none of the little ones were spared. Gianna was the first to go down. She was in denial. Her little eyes were all red and watery, sick eyes, we call them. She ran a fever off and on for about 4 four days. She was miserable, but wouldn’t talk about it. If I would ask her how she was feeling, she would say, “I’m fine Mom!!!” and glare at me. Then Hannah started last Thursday with a fever and a cough. She couldn’t shake that fever. It was up to almost 105 at one point. I woke Brian up because Aiden was really fussy too. I told him that I needed him to sit with Hannah in the bathroom while she soaked in the tub to try to bring it down, or nurse the baby. Obviously he needed to sit in the bathroom with Han. I got the baby calmed down and I put him in his crib and went into the bathroom and Brian is sitting there with his shirt up over his face. I started to laugh at him. As if that was going to keep him from getting sick. I have been spit on, slobbered on, coughed on, sneezed on and thrown up on. Thankfully I am still healthy. God seems to have a certain blessing of mercy that he gives to mothers of sick ones.. I have my fingers crossed and hands folded that I stay healthy at least through Christmas. (Please God!) All of a sudden we hear a noise in Noah and Aiden’s room. I ran in and sure enough, Noah had thrown up all over his bed. Another one bites the dust. He was pretty miserable for a few days, but my Tuesday he and Gia were much better. Hannah on the other hand was still fighting a fever of over 103. She was so pale that even her freckles looked pasty. I was also still concerned about Aiden. He was still running a fever and his nose was like a fountain! He was so sick that he wouldn’t smile. You might be thinking, “Duh! If he was sick he wouldn’t feel like smiling. ” Well, this baby ALWAYS smiles. All that you have to do is look at him and he grins. He is pure joy in a chubby little body. At least he was until he got sick. He wouldn’t even jump in his jumperoo. I called the doctors office on Wednesday and took them both in. Sure enough bronchitis for Hannah as well as a sinus infection for both of them. After 2 days worth of antibiotics the smiles and giggles are back. Hannah finally has some color and is eating again! Aiden is a smiley happy boy again with one more tooth! On top of feeling like crap he was teething too! No wonder he was miserable!

Catching up Take Three: A Christmas Tree, Santa and Three More Birthdays

Now don’t pass out! I know you are thinking THREE posts in one day!!! Is she crazy!? Well, yes, yes I am. Actually, I was just lucky enough to finally have some spare time. Ok, let’s get busy. We always get our Christmas tree on the Saturday after Thanksgiving so that we have it up for the December kids’ birthdays. DJ, Coley and Noah all have birthdays in December, so we consolidate them into one party. We always have it at the beginning of the month because the Rose grandparents always come in then. It works out well and it forces me not to procrastinate and get the decorations out early. Although, I must admit, Christmas is one thing that I DON”T put off. I love Christmas! Everything about Christmas, from the decorating, tothe cookies, to the music, to the beautiful Mass. So anyway, Brian and DJ, Jake and Bubba headed to the Christmas tree farm with the mission to return home with a tall, but thin beautiful Frasier Fir. A few hours later the men returned home victorious! The general rule of thumb is that if the tree fits in our giant 12 passenger van, it will fit in the designated spot in the living room. Sure enough that bad boy was wrapped and packed in the van. They leaned it up against the house until we were ready to bring it in.

You might be wondering, “How tall is that beast tree?”
Why, it’s four Houghs tall, of course!
Oh Christmas tree, Oh Christmas tree,
How lovely are you branches!
Mission accomplished men! Great Job!!
We took the youngest five of our crew and went to have breakfast with Santa. My brother brought his little boy, Dylan and my sister came with her three girls. We got there and the kids ate their breakfast. They had some coloring sheets for the kids to color while we were waiting. Good move on their part!
Noah is intensely coloring. He was sitting still…a minor Christmas miracle? I’m just throwing it out there!
They also had some face painting. That had mixed reviews from our crowd. None of them were super thrilled about someone that they didn’t know touching them.
The girls opted for festive poinsettias.
Dylan chose a star(?).
Bubba went the sports route. Go Pitt!
Abby won the door prize, a big Santa doll. This was highly entertaining because the doll was almost as big as she was! So funny!
It was finally our turn for our picture with Santa. We tried to get one picture with all of the kids. Yeah…ummm not so successful. Abby was doing a strip tease. Noah was there under duress. Aiden kept trying to unbeard the big guy. It was a comedy of errors! As my husband so eloquently put it, “It is what it is.”
I didn’t manage to get a shot of my kids alone with Santa, because I was trying to keep them all on the stage, but I did manage to get a couple of Dylan and the girls.
Little Francesca slept through the entire thing. Gotta love a sling!
AD-Joe in his Santa baby shirt!
Santa was a success and I think that the kids enjoyed it. Next time I’m going to prep them a little bit more so that the pictures turn out better.
The final subject of this particular post is the December birthday party. My twins are now 14…that is really old. Not only are the getting to be so old, but they are now as tall as I am. What the heck?!? No major feat as I am only 5’4”, but still… I am truly blessed that they are healthy, kind funny kids with alot of smarts! (they were both on distinguished honor roll!! Oh yeah, my kids are smart!!!) Noah was kind of confused. He didn’t get it that it was his party too since his birthday isn’t until the 27th. Although it didn’t take too long for him to get used to the idea when everyone was throwing presents at him! Coley decided that she did not want a cake. She is a rebel, my little red head is! She wanted blueberry glazed doughnuts instead. Good old Dimaio’s came through with totally yummy glazed blueberry doughnuts. She was thrilled!!!
Coley and her “cake”
DJ wanted a West Shamokin basketball cake. Joan’s cake lady, Judy came through in her usual beautiful- cake way.
Noah was not thrilled about all of the attention, but he loved his Spiderman cake.
Make a wish and blow out the candles!
Miss Abby chomping on an apple.
Aiden and Isabella, hanging out.
All in all, a very successful party!
Happy Birthday my beautiful kids!

Catching Up: Take Two…Franny and birthdays

Ok, I’m on a roll!! Two blogs in one day?!?! I am going to cover the birth of my beautiful niece Francesca Elaine. While Jess was in the hospital giving birth to her third sweet little girl, I had the fun honor of keeping Isabella and Abby. Gianna and Hannah loved having “little girls” around (because they are sooo big). There were battles as to where everyone was going to sleep until I finally caved in and tucked all four of the little girls into Hannah’s bed. Coley had to sleep beside them in Gianna’s bed, so that they could see her. Apparently if she was sleeping in her top bunk, it was too far away for them to feel safe. I liked her there because if they were scared or crowded they would just crawl in bed with her instead of roaming the house at night.
While they were here we did lots of fun things…like bubble baths….

(here is Hannah in disguise as either Pap-pap or Santa. We couldn’t decide. )

We had manicures and played dress up. Here as a picture from lunch time. Note the fabulous clothes, not to mention a super hero or two.

Batman is a big fan of mac and cheese!

Isabella was a lovely princess.

Abby went a little bit more rock and roll as Hannah Montana.
Gianna went old-school in a dress that I wore as a flower girl when I was her age.
Hannah was a little bit disappointed that she had to go to school while the girls were here, but she managed to smile for the camera.
Miss Francesca arrived in true girly fashion, when she was good and ready. I took the girls to see her the next day. I was dying to go, because I couldn’t wait to see her myself! After we had dinner the following day I got the girls ready and we were off to meet the newest little Thompson girl. It would have been fine, except that Abby is apparently terrified of my big 12 passenger van and completely freaked out. The kid hadn’t cried the entire time I had her, until then. Crying is a very understated description of the poor things reaction to riding in my van. She was a mess. She finally fell asleep, unfortunately it was about 3 minutes from the hospital. Sooo, instead of being a nice happy nap, it did more damage than good. She cried the whole way into the hospital. I had to carry her, becasue she was so upset, which was fine until we got to the elevator. My dear sister in her excitement of the impending birth of Francesca, forgot to mention that Isabella is deathly afraid of elevators. I don’t mean that elevators make her a little bit nervous or uncomfortable. I am talking she turned white and was shaking and I had to literally drag her into the elevator, which was no small task considering that I was still holding Abby. I didn’t know what else to do. There was a gentleman who was holding the door open for me as he got off I was trying to get the girls on the elevator. Isabella was even grabbing on to him! I looked at him and said, “I’m sorry!” He looked very sympathetically at me and said, “Not as sorry as I am for you!” When we got to the maternity floor we all very thankfully got off of the elevator and headed towards Jess’ room. We walked in and instead of being excited to finally meet the baby, they just wanted Jess to take them home. I felt so bad for Jess. I am sure that she wanted their introductions to be sweet and meaningful and something that could look back at warmly. Yeah… not so much. They stopped crying and looked at the baby, but that was about it. Casey took them home and I got to snuggle that baby all by myself, while chatting with my sister for a while. It was so much fun to hold that tiny little body full of warmth and promise. Her little hands were so tiny, her skin was so soft, her little hair so fine. It made me a little bit sad, becasue my own sweet little baby had turned into a giant! He is still supersnuggly and soft and sweet, but he seemed huge! As any addict, (come on, you all know that I am addicted to babies! Duh! that’s why I have so many of them!) I knew that I needed to get away from the baby as soon as possbile or I don’t even know what would happen. My uterus might have exploded or I might have tried to make a run for it! That wouldn’t be a good idea since I would have been caught thanks to the car alarms that they equip babies with in the hospital. I reluctantly gave my sister back her baby. I knew that I needed to go home a snuggle my own little ball of promise, even if he was now huge!
Shortly after little Francesca (also know as Francessica by my kids, or Franny Annie or Frankie or Francie) came home, my crazy sister had a birthday party for the girls. All three of her girls are born in the beginning of November, which is good party -wise. It only makes since to consolidate, but bad when you have to do it right after you give birth! The party was nice. It was the first time that my kids, other than Coley got to see the new baby. There was much fuss over how sweet and cute and tiny she was.

Abby was not liking the attention. Jess couldn’t get her to sit down to blow out her candles!

Make a wish!!!
Uncle Chris isn’t afraid to hold Aiden now that he’s not so “floppy!”
Aiden, my NOW giant baby, with sweet little Francesca

Catching up: Take One

It is with a shame filled heart and a head hanging low that I write this post…I can’t believe that I am so far behind! I am not going to even try to catch up. It’s been bascially alot of kid stuff and the usual chaos. I am just going to share our Halloween, Thanksgiving and recent birthday parties and hope to have some extra time eventually…like maybe 2021???!

Ok…First things first, Birthday party #1: my nephew and godson Dylan turned 6. What a fun age! We went to Mom and Dad’s for dinner and some cake. He had a spooky cake with a big spider on it! Gia was not real sure about the spider, especially after Chris told her that he squished it on the cake as it was running by.

Dylan and his best buddy, Bobby…otherwise known as Isaac.

Gramma Gaggini and Aiden

Mema and AD-Joe

Miss Nicole looking fierce and trying to smile with her eyes…

Abby trying to “pet” Aiden…sorry it’s so fuzzy.

Miss Isabella and her flowing mane of curls
Me and the girls… We were so filled with hope for our beloved Steelers (at the time).

Jake was the opitome of hope for the black and gold. He is defintely his father’s son. (duh!)

Noah and Hannah

Abby was not quite sure that she was ready to be awake. Baby Francesca was not quite sure if she was quite ready to be born…she wasn’t.

Next in line for our crazy fall activites was Halloween. We had a couple of princesses, Spiderman and a pirate, not to mention the scary teenagers….AHHHH!!!

Here is just part of the loot!!!! Can you even imagine?! We are still eating it.

Next we went on to our many Thanksgiving dinners. Unfortunately my stupid camera battery wasn’t cooperating and I am missing pictures from a few of the dinners.

Dinner number one was dinner at Babee’s (aka Joan or to Brian, Mom). Sorry no pictures for this one, but I can assure you that the dinner was quite yummy and the compnay delightful.
Dinner number two was in Dubois with Nanny and Poppa Hough (aka, Marge and Bill or D). Again yummy food and sparkling conversation. We ate and ate and ate. We left with full bellies and happy hearts.

Aiden and Poppa Hough

Nanny and Poppa Hough with all of the grandchildren (except for Chad and Denee’s newest one that is still in the forming and growing process!!! Yay new baby!). What a good looking group of Houghs, don’t you think?

Gianna and the boys…kind of like Gladys Knight and her Pipps.

Rexton is going to make a great big brother! See how much he LOVES his baby cousin!

Dinner number three was at Mema and Poppy’s house with my mom’s side. Such good food and ham which was nice since we were stuffed on turkey. (Get it stuffed on turkey!! I know, kind of lame, but you know that you smiled.) Again, stupid camera battery low, no pictures from that dinner. But you can just imagine this. We were all looking kind of bloated and greasy and happy from all of the food.
Dinner number four and our final Thanksgiving dinner of the year, was at my parents house aka Mama and Pap-pap’s with the Gaggini side. It was once again a time with tons of delicious food and tons of family. My cousin tricia is in the military and is currently overseas. We had a very special treat when her husbadn brought his laptop in and we were able to see and talk to her when he skyped her! It was a wonderful way to remember how truly thankful we all should be to the men and women who are daily risking their lives for us in the military. THANK YOU Trish!! We went from having no babies on this side of the family to having 15 kids from age 7 down!!! That’s not counting the tweens and teens!

Babies Babies everywhere!!!!

Gianna is completely smitten with her newest baby cousin, Francesca Elaine.

My sister and her sweet little Francesca