Saturday, September 24, 2011

Eight is Great!!!

We celebrated Emily's bithday at  a local spray park and she invited her three friends:  Rebecca, Maci and Elle.  We had birthday hats for all... though I think Lia and Mia (both age 3) liked wearing theirs the best.

Here is Daddy lighting the cake candles and all the kiddos ready for cake!

Opening gifts.

Elle brought little gift bags for David and Lia too.  I think Lia was very happy to receive a gift too!

Emily's 8th Birthday Cake

Here is Emily decorating her birthday cake.  Little sister is very interested in the procedure!

A princess cake again this year!

Emily's Birthday at the Children's Museum

Emily wanted to go to the Houston Children's Museum on her actual birthday.  We met up with my friend Kim and her kids.  I only got a few pictures at the end when they were playing outside at Flow Works.  It was a really hot day and even though we waited till after 5:00 to go outside, it was just barely comfortable in the shade!  Luckily there were $1 popsicles and we all enjoyed that very much.

The kids really enjoyed watching this huge bucket fill up... and then dump out!

And David could have stayed here for hours.  Chris says when he was a little boy, he would make boats and float them in his yard after heavy rains, in the ditch by his driveway.  Seeing David play like this reminds him of those happy memories growing up.

Moving on to August...

Once we returned from the beach, we took some time to get settled and tried to ease back into our normal routines.  I began to get everything ready for homeschooling and I put Emily to work on her thank you notes for all her beautiful 1st communion gifts.  She took the time to make and decorate her own thank you notes which I thought was really sweet.  For once, I was really on the ball and was able to print pictures of Emily with all her guests to share.  Here is one she was particularly proud of.

Chris's Birthday

This post is for my parents.  Chris is really enjoying his Duvel!  You are really spoiling him with that beer glass.  ;-)

And notice, how well it was poured...

Pinots Palette (out of chronological order)

I was so excited to blog about our beach trip that I forgot to add my adventure at Pinot's Palette!  My brother-in-law, John V., treated me to a girls night out with my nieces, Lexi and Madison.  Pinot's Palette is an art studio where you are taught how to create a painting, step-by-step.  You can also bring you own wine and appetizers to make a really fun evening.  The studio is really colorful and they have painting from the previous classes hanging all along the walls.  Here is our class picture.  I am kneeling on the right, 2nd row next to Lexi.  It was really fun!

My nieces with their blank canvases:
Madison and Lexi
Here you can see us just getting started.  I'm in the picture on the right.  It looks like I'm taking this painting business pretty seriously.

You can see our instructor at the front.  She would give us some tips and tell us what to do... then they would crank up the music and let us paint.  It was really fun!

Here is mine before I put the trees in.

And the three of us with our completed paintings!

It came out pretty good!

Nelli Beach Week - Final Family Pictures

So I will finally wrap up Nelli Beach week.  Today is September 24 and I am finally able to blog because we got a new computer and it is super fast!  David, Emily and Chris are at David's flag football game and Lia is still sleepting.  As Emily would say, "Hurrah!"

With such a big family, the little ones don't always remember the names of all their aunts, uncles or cousins since they only see them once or twice a year.  Somehow, however, mine always seem to remember that Tom is Uncle Crab.  Emily will whisper in my ear, "Mommy, isn't that Uncle Crab?"  He brought a new crab hat to the beach this year and is wearing it in the picture below.  Emily says she likes the old one better.  I think I agree with her.
Uncle Crab!!!!

Here is Lia with her Godparents, Steven and Stacey.


one of us!
Lia and Caroline

Happy Lia

Ice Cream Social

Nelli Beach Week - Pier

Thursday of beach week is always the same.  The men have their annual men's luncheon where fine italian cold cuts, olives, crusty bread and other things that make my mouth water just thinking of are consumed.  Oh yes, there is also wine, cigars and trash talk...(witty Nelli banter?)... or so I hear.  Women are not allowed!  Since this is held at our beach house, I have made it a tradition to take the little kids to the pier and this year, souvenir shopping after that.  Emily got to spend the afternoon with Ainsley at her house, which was a big treat for her.  I'm so glad those two were inseparable again this year.  After the men's luncheon, the ladies get to go out for dinner and this year a surprise baby shower was held for Cheryl Anne after that!

So the little kids love this outing because we always get a popsicle before we walk the pier.  This year there was actually a $1 fee to walk the pier.  It used to be free.  I figured it was a small price to pay to continue our tradition and the fee was only for adults so it wasn't too high a price to pay.  And with the imposed fee, it wasn't crowded at all.  As always, I tell David to hold Lia's hand and take good care of her.  Then I always take this series of pictures and struggle to figure out which one I like best.

(stopping to pose)

(funny discussion about somthing)

David stopped to look through the telescope which was so funny because at his height all he could see was the sky!  He said... "Well, I don't think this thing works."

How does this thing work?

We thought we were going to see some action... The kids now fully expect to see large sharks pulled out of the water but unfortunately, this fisherman's line broke as he tried to bring it in.  David concluded that fishing can be "kind of boring" sometimes.
(a little bit of action)
And I love this picture of my boy!

Nelli Beach Week - John's Birthday

There are four Nelli birthdays to celebrate during cousin camp and beach week.  I never seem to get pictures of all of them but here is what the kids did for John's birthday.  You can't tell from the picture, but they are all wearing white T-shirts that spell out:  Happy 50th Bday John!  When we do this next time we will make the letters much darker!  John played a round of golf for his birthday and we had the kids all line up and wait for him to come out to the beach.  By the way, it is easy to get nieces and nephews excited about these things... but it is hard to make them line up and wait for more than 30 seconds!  So when he came out of the beach house they all serenaded him in the traditional loud and extremely obnoxious Nelli way.  He loved it!

And then we all ate cake!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Nelli Beach Week - Nonna's Special Meal

Nonna's "Special Meal" has been a tradition for many years.  Nonna would prepare a "special" exotic meal for her grandchildren, not telling them what it was.  Only the most adventurous eaters could attend and bragging rights would go to the grandchild who could guess what she had prepared.  I think it started with Jed who would eat anything and say it was the best meal he had ever had.  She kept thinking there had to be something he wouldn't eat, or try, or not like...  She made escargot, cow's tounge and pigs feet.  Her crazy grandchildren, the brave ones anyway, tried it everytime.  Well before she died, she confided the meal she had planned for this year to Katie Gray.  Katie Gray took on this tradition and carried out her wishes at the beach this year.  Can you guess what this is?  It kind of looks like pasta but I can promise you it is much much more exotic than pasta!

 Katie Gray, in the green is serving it up here.  There was quite a crowd to see what the meal was going to be this year.
 Here are some more good natured taste testers..  Jed is in the yellow.  He said he liked it but nobody could guess what the mystery meal was.  Do you want to know?

Nonna's Special Meal for the summer of 2011 was:  Tripe!  And what the heck is tripe, you might wonder?  I didn't know what it was, but I was soon educated by Katie Gray who did all the research.  It is the inside lining of a cow's stomach.  It is called Menudo in mexican cuisine and is also a popular italian dish.  The process to cook it requires multiple sessions in boiling water, rinsing the tripe and changing out the water each time.  It has a very strong odor that fills the house... Okay, yes, it stinks.  And I tried it... it is the most rubbery and tasteless thing I have ever tried.  You couldn't slice it with the side of your fork and it took a long time to chew.  Jed insisted that he liked it and the tradition lives on.

Nelli Beach Week - Cousins

With so many cousins, there was always someone to play in the sand with.  I don't know what they were talking about... but I found it incredibly sweet to see Lia and Christopher engaged in conversation at this moment.

 Then of course, there is always something going on...  Burying cousins is another favorite.

 Look how proud they are of all their hard work!

Daniel is shouting, "I'm just a head in the sand!"

Our family always goes out into the water as a big group.  You can see them in the ocean below.  When the little kids go out they get passed from cousin to cousin, aunt to uncle, etc...  It is a very wonderful thing.

Nelli Beach Week: Sharks!

Our friends Dale and Pam stayed with us for part of the week with their children, Madison and Caroline.  Dales loves to fish and certainly provided the entertainment this year... though it was a little disturbing!  He fished right off the beach and kept reeling in shark after shark after shark!  He fought the big one in the picture below for over and hour.  By the time he reeled it in, there were over 100 people gathered around to see the action.  Ummm.... that is a really big shark!!!