Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Christmas Memories

We had a great Christmas season this year. Below are some pictures of the highlights!

Daddy and his kids at our Neighborhood Christmas Party

Oliver's nativity craft at his preschool class party. I am the "Room Parent" for his class. I can't believe I am old enough to be a room parent, but I am enjoying it. This is the first party I've had to organize and it turned out really well! All of the kids (and parents) had fun!

Since we were spending Christmas in Houston with my family, we went over to Matt's parent's house the weekend before Christmas to enjoy a yummy meal and opening presents with them. Here is Gabriella helping Granna decorate the tree (or really, re-decorate after she pulled ornaments off). We also got to spend some fun time with them and Matt's extended family at the Dillard Family Christmas Party the night before we left for Houston.

Here are the traditional Christmas Eve pajama pictures - one of my cute Santa Babies and one of me with my sisters Emily and Natalie (we even have matching necklaces too!)

We had so much fun this Christmas. Oliver was really starting to understand things this year. We enjoyed explaining to him the story of Jesus's birth, teaching him Christmas Carols, hiding the elf (a new game my mom introduced us to), and setting out cookies and milk for Santa. Gabby enjoyed the ride too! Oliver loved his new Mickey Mouse Clubhouse DVD and toy and of course all of the cookies and candy. Gabriella enjoyed her new books, doll toys, ripping apart all of the tissue paper, emptying the full box of kleenex we gave her in her stocking since she loves to empty them, and of couse "snacks"... which means food of any kind. We are so blessed and thankful for all of our family and friends. We are also are so thankful for the gift of a Saviour who's birth we celebrate on Christmas.

..."Christ the Saviour is born!"

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

#6 Get Involved in a Longer Term Bible Study... CHECK!

This goal from my 101 goals in 1001 days list has technically been checked off for a while now, but I just forgot it was on my list! Ever since we moved back to Texas, we've been wanting to get involved in a Bible Study with other couples as the ones we had in Arizona were so meaningful to us. We started meeting with another couple, our neighbors from down the alley, last January. Then this summer, we had another neighborhood couple join the study as well!

We were meeting every other week at each other's houses sharing a meal and then putting the kids to bed to do our study. That worked well for a while, but the kids were not always cooperating with going to sleep! But we've finally stumbled up on a system that works well for parents of young children - so parents... listen up! The way our meeting schdule goes now is we eat dinner all together, play for a little bit, and then the moms barricade themselves in a back room for an hour and do their study while the dads play with the kids. Then the moms take the kids home, since they are all ready for bed by that point, and the dad's stay and do their study. We switch up too who goes first, the moms or dads. This works out especially well since we all live within walking distance of each other.

It has been so fun to learn more from the Bible and learn more about each other at the same time! We've been meeting for almost a year now and still plan to keep going and hopefully bring another family into our group soon as well.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas

After we were through all of the birthday celebrations for Oliver... I felt like it was finally time to start the Christmas season! So here are some pictures of the seasonal happenings around our home:

Hanging ornaments on our tree. I LOVE our tree this year. It is a beautiful 8 foot Douglas Fir. The smell is divine!

Helping Daddy

The finished product

Matt and I headed out to his company's Christmas Party

With our neighbors at Santa's Village... an awesome place for families this time of year!

The bigger kids

The little kids - their faces say "I don't know where we are, but they have cookies so that is good enough for me!"

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Christmas Update

This year was a much more stable one than last year. Although changes are interesting and challenging, it is nice every once in a while to just have a little more stability! No cross-country moves or childbirths to report this year :) I started blogging almost 1 year ago - so, if you are interested, you can find more details about most of the things listed below by digging back in my blog archives.

We started off the year in a fun way - spending a week in Hawaii with my family. It was a busy trip with two kiddos in tow, but we got to see some amazing sites: the Hawaii landscape, Pearl Harbor, Waikiki Beach, and a land called Hanalei. We also made a trip back to Phoenix in late February to visit our friends there. It was a good trip to reconnect with old friends!

Mother's Day was an extra special one for me this year. That day I not only celebrated being a mom to two amazing kids, but we dedicated Gabriella to the Lord at our church that morning. We were blessed to have our families in attendance and enjoyed celebrating her life and the blessing she is to our family!

This summer, I was once again counting my blessings that we lived within driving distance of my family. Two of my sisters got married this summer. Natalie married Matt Bachop in May in Austin. Megan married Travis Hulse in July in Houston. So between the bachelorette parties, bridal showers, dress fittings, and wedding planning (times two), we spent lots of time on the freeways of Texas. But I wouldn't have wanted it any other way! We were so glad to be a part of their special days! And the weddings in our family aren't quite over yet. Matt's brother Daniel proposed to his sweet girlfriend Stephanie this summer and we are so happy she said yes! They will be getting married this coming March.

Also this summer, we took at trip up to Utah to visit my extended family there for a 75+ person Beck Family Reunion! It was a wild time as usual, but so great to reconnect with everyone. We even revived a Beauty Pageant that all of the girls in the family put on 20 years ago. But this time, it was our daughters performing instead of us. It was a special time and fun to see things come full circle.

We have enjoyed getting closer to people in our neighborhood and at our church as well as seeing our families very often... which was the reason we moved back to Texas in the first place! What a blessing that has been! I have also really enjoyed experiencing more of the seasons. Now I know we are still behind a lot of the country in the drastic nature of the seasons. But coming from Phoenix, Arizona - Dallas has been a true delight in that area. It had been so long since I experienced a true spring... things turning green again, flowers budding, the weather warming, etc. I just loved it and can't wait for the coming spring as well. I don't think I ever would have counted spring as my favorite season. But after experiencing it here last year, it just may have moved to the top of my list!

Gabriella turned 1 year old in October and it was great to have so many friends and family there to celebrate with us. It has been so fun to watch her grow and to see her little personality emerge. She currently enthralls us with her lion roar impersonation and her heart-melting smile. She is walking like a pro and I fully expect to see her take off running any day now. She loves reading books and will walk to the shelf, bring you a book, and turn around and sit in your lap for as long as you will let her.

Oliver just turned 3 years old this month. He is wowing us every day with the sentences he puts together. We are sometimes left wondering "where did you learn that?" Conversations with him are the best and we are starting to see his imagination emerge. He is really enjoying being "silly" right now and we often make up our own words to songs to make them silly enough for him. He started attending preschool one day a week this fall which was a big adjustment for mommy... but he ran right in to the classroom the first day and has never looked back. He loves it and I love that he has something that fills him up so much. We talk about his friends at school constantly and I know that even that little bit of independence is growing him into the man he will become some day.

It is humbling to be a part of these amazing little lives and I am thankful I get to be mommy to Oliver and Gabriella. I do stay super busy staying at home with my two bundles of energy. Even though not all of the days are easy, there is no place else I'd rather be every day.

Matt is still finding success at his job at NeoTool and continually impresses me with his dedication to his job and his superior talent at what he does. We are so thankful for all that he does to provide for our family. The kids adore him and love the time each night when Daddy comes home. Oliver is usually good for a big running hug and Gabriella starts shrieking from wherever she is in the house and takes off as fast as her little legs will carry her toward the back door. It is a sweet sight and a true testament to how much the love their Daddy.

Well, that's all I have for now. We wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a happy 2009 as well!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The funny things kids say

Oliver went to preschool today and as always, the parents get a sheet describing what they did at school that day. I use it to start conversations with him about his morning at school. So today I asked him "What was your Bible verse today?" He thought for a minute then proudly said... "God one another!"

Obviously, it's supposed to be "Love one another," but it was very cute nonetheless and made Matt and I chuckle quite a bit :) I tried correcting him, but he liked it better his way, of course.

Here is a video re-enactment for your viewing pleasure:

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Happy Birthday to my darling boy!

My sweet boy Oliver turned 3 years old last week. What a big boy! We celebrated him all week long with a neighbor party at home, a party at his mother's day out, and a big blow out party here last Saturday!

We love spending our lives with you Oliver! Here are some things we love about you:
  • Your love of learning
  • That you are a book worm
  • That you like to cuddle when you wake up - you are not a morning person
  • Your true "boy" nature - you stomp in the puddles instead of walking around them and love running and throwing and could do them all day long!
  • To see your smiling eyes when you are laughing
  • Your desire to do things "silly"
  • That you love your baby sister and have fun playing with her - most of the time...
  • Your love of animals
  • That we have the blessing of raising you to be a man of God and get to spend our lives with you in our family!
I've created an online album of some of my favorite pictures from Oliver's 3rd year of life - click here. It's so fun to see how much he's grown in a year!

Then click here to see some more pictures from his Noah's Ark birthday party last weekend! Below are a few to entice you...

The Ark - made by me and my sister's boyfriend - Basilio (aka Bossy)

He was SO excited to have the cupcakes - he LOVES cake!

Dressed as a pig... all the kids (and some adults) dressed as animals on the ark

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Thanksgiving Etc.

We had a wonderful thanksgiving weekend with family, food, and fun! We have so much to be thankful for!

On to the weekend... We attempted to run the Dallas Turkey Trot as a family.. not good. It was Gabby's naptime and she wouldn't sleep so she was either screaming... I mean SCREAMING... or being held by us for over half of the race. Needless to say, we did not finish. We went about 2.5 of the 3 miles... but the walk back to the car from our stopping point was about half a mile. So all told, we probably made it the full 3 miles, just not on the intended course.
Here are a few photo highlights from our weekend:

Making a gingerbread train with Granna and cousins Olivia and Calvin

Opening Christmas gifts from the Denver family
A Peter Pan book for Oliver - he LOVED that!

And a touch a feel book for Gabby - she loved it too - she is really into books right now!

We made a Thanksgiving Turkey and all made two hand print feathers to say what we were thankful for. I was very proud of how cute it turned out considering I cut the turkey out free-hand.

I know it's kind of hard to read them... so I will interpret for you.
  • Gabriella: Bananas and Bunny and BaBa
  • Oliver: Elephants and Giraffes
  • Amanda: Matt, Oliver and Gabriella and All of our extended family
  • Matt: Neighborhood friends and God's love
Some thing we are not so thankful for... so Matt went out last night to make sure our garage door was closed before we went to bed. It was not, so he pushed the button to close it, but it would only go halfway down and then go right back up. So he walks out to investigate and then calls me over as he points to something dangling from the door gears... it's a dead mouse! Apparently the mouse was in the wrong place at the wrong time! So he pulls the mouse carcass out of the gears and discovers that the mouse has gotten our door cable off it's track. Perfect. So we got to pay a garage door repairman today to get us back on track... literally. I just love to spend money that way :)

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

#63 Visit Nat's new and improved home... Check!

On our way down to San Antonio this weekend, we stopped for the night in Austin at my sister Natalie's new and improved home... titled such because she just got married in May and was able to outfit her home with new furniture, decor, and all of the fun gifts you get when you get married. It was wonderful to be able to break up our trip down there and great to see Natalie and Matt's cute home.

Two goals in one weekend - WAHOO!

#15 Visit San Antonio/Trinity... Check!

I recently posted about my 101 goals in 1001 days. Well, this weekend, I was able to check off one more goal that I've had for a long time. I had been wanting to visit the city of San Antonio and our college campus for many years. Matt and I met while attending Trinity University so it is special to us for lots of reasons. We were blessed to have some family join us which was a big help with the kids - thank you Natalie, Matt, mom and Emily! Here are some highlights from the weekend:
  • Visiting our favorite San Antonio Half Price Books - in an old house on Broadway
  • Going out to lunch at EZ's Brick Oven... and splitting both the Alamo Bowl and the Basil Chicken Pasta and washing them down with a cookies and cream milkshake
  • Shopping in the Quarry!
  • Searching for our old "date night" restaurant, Bacones, but since it was no longer there, ending up at another yummy favorite The Alamo Cafe
  • My mom offered to watch the kids for us one night, so Matt and I got to go out together and have a romantic nighttime walk around Trinity's campus. Many memories...
  • Taking our kids to the San Antonio Zoo!
  • Having lunch at our college go-to restaurant... the Taco Cabana on Broadway. There were many late night trips there to pick up some tortillas and queso for munching on in the dorms.
  • Shopping at North Star Mall
  • Going to my college roommate's wedding on Sunday evening. Lindsey was so beautiful and it was so great being there to help her celebrate
  • Getting to see lots of college and high school friends since Lindsey and I went to high school and college together and had a lot of the same friends. HUGE thanks goes to Natalie and Matt for picking them up after the ceremony and obligatory "show off" period where we introduced everyone to our kids. Matt and I then got to stay late at the wedding and enjoy time there catching up with everyone without having to worry about the kids.
  • Taking our kids on a walk around Trinity and seeing some old professors. We all got some Trinity apparel and got a Coates smoothie for the road trip home... which we had to buy with real money and not our Trinity Validine.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Super Gabby!

Here is some sweet video footage taken yesterday of my "super girl"!

They call me the fireman...

For whatever reason, I love to dress my boy up as a fireman. I know the day will be coming soon when he will no longer be compliant to whatever I choose for him to dress up as... he will have opinions of his own! But for now, I'm having fun!

Here are some cute pictures of him from the dress-up pictures they took at his preschool. Also there is a little video of him dressed in an outfit we got as a hand-me-down. The videos ends the way almost EVERY video we have of him ends... listen for his infamous "video ending" line.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Bathing Beauties!

In a robe that was Matt's Uncle Randy's when he was a little boy!

She's almost outgrown her infant towels :(
Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

101 goals in 1001 days

A friend of mine from Phoenix, Melissa Hester, wrote an entry on her blog almost 2 years ago about starting a list of 101 goal in 1001 days. She attended a seminar where the speaker encouraged everyone to write down their goals. The speaker said that if you write down your goals, they seep into your subconscious. So about 6 months ago, I finally decided that I was going to give it a try and see what happens. I am following this list with the same attitude Melissa stated in her blog "I am not going to be primarily motivated by my list. I like to live life, listen to God, and see what happens - to be open to opportunities that present themselves."

So I started writing down my goals... and only got to 22. Hmmm... I kept thinking more and got up to 50. The list stalled there for a few months and I keep adding as I go along, but happily I have also been checking items off of the list too! I love lists and it is a rewarding feeling to know that I am not just living life solely one day at a time... which is sometimes what I feel like staying at home with 2 kids! It is nice to know that I still have goals in life, some pertaining to my family, and some pertaining to just me!

So here is my list as it stands today... still not quite to 101 items, but getting close. I've put completed dates when I remembered when they happened. I want to encourage all of you to start up a list of your own. Post a comment if you do and post them on a blog if you have one. I'd love to follow your progress! Some tips... do something that is measurable and not too vague. You'll notice for a couple of them I put numbers in... like read "5" books, or ride my bike for "10" hours total. Or you can put a completion date... like "visit family in Denver in 2009".

List started May 2007

1. Fill out baby book for new baby - CHECK
2. Scrapbook 1st year for new baby - CHECK
3. Visit Natalie for just wedding stuff - CHECK - 8/2007
4. Lost all baby weight by 6 months postpartum - CHECK - 2/2008
5. Get involved with a ministry at church - CHECK 1/2009
6. Get involved in a committed, longer term Bible Study - CHECK
7. Visit Phoenix friends - CHECK - 2/2008
8. Decorate Oliver's room - CHECK - 9/2007
9. Decorate baby's room - CHECK - 11/2007
10. Update summer wardrobe with 5 new outfits -5/2009
11. Save money for new flooring in house - CHECK - 5/2007... however it was spent for a new heater/furnace for our house :(
12. Decorate kitchen
13. Secret one (it's a surprise for someone)!! - Surprise my parents with a visit - 4/15/2009
14. Have a date night with Matt 3 months in a row - CHECK
15. Visit San Antonio/Trinity - CHECK - 11/2008
16. Take a dance class
17. Stay at Sara's Bed & Breakfast again (our wedding night B&B)
18. Visit family in Denver in 2009 - CHECK - 9/2009
19. Do swimming lessons with Oliver in summer 2009 - CHECK - 8/2009
20. Redo our bathroom color scheme
21. Decorate our bedroom - CHECK
22. Create family photo wall - CHECK - 5/2007
23. Make birth announcements for Gabriella - CHECK
24. Read history textbook
25. Read anatomy textbook
26. Go to Nasher museum with Matt
27. Have lunch downtown with Matt's Dad
28. Hem all curtains
29. Clean out/organize hall closet
30. Visit Webbs in Arizona - CHECK - 2/2008
31. Vacation with Schroeders - drive and meet somewhere
32. Start/join a playgroup - 6/2009
33. Go to Hawaii - CHECK - 12/2007
34. Have a party to show our new house to family - CHECK
35. Get new appliances in kitchen - CHECK - 8/2007
36. Fix up dog's yard - CHECK
37. Complete "I Want You to Know Me" book
38. Clean out/organize garage – CHECK – 11/2008
39. Hang all pictures - CHECK
40. Get professional family photograph - CHECK
41. Get baby's pictures made at 0, 3, 6, 9, 12 months - CHECK - 11/2008
42. Get my hair highlighted - CHECK - 5/2008
43. Get my toenail healthy and have a pedicure
44. Clear out crab grass from backyard - CHECK - AHH! It's back though!
45. Setup college fund for baby - CHECK
46. Add more money to Oliver's college fund - CHECK
47. Pay off van loan - CHECK
48. Mulch flowerbeds - CHECK - 9/2007
49. Find out more information about running a Bed & Breakfast
50. Volunteer at a children's hospital/clinic
51. Create a household notebook - CHECK
52. Create lesson plans for days with Oliver - CHECK
53. Get current on scrapbooking by October - CHECK - 10/2007
54. Redecorate half bath - CHECK - 10/2008
55. Redecorate kid's bath
56. Scrapbook 2 page spread for each month in 2008
57. CPR certification - 5/2009
58. Go to San Marcos to shop
59. Sell some of our excess stuff in a garage sale
60. Attend 10 year high school reunion - CHECK - 8/2008
61. Go on a Segway tour
62. Go to a carnival with Matt
63. Visit Nat's new and improved home - CHECK - 11/2008
64. Visit Meg & Travis's apartment
65. Go to a family camp - CHECK - 6/2009
66. Go on a couple's retreat
67. Get SLR digital camera - CHECK -11/2009
68. Take a digital photography class
69. Go on an overnight trip/date with Matt - CHECK - 10/2009
70. Have another sister's night out
71. Ride my bike for 10 hours (total - not straight!)
72. Run/walk Turkey Trot 2008 – CHECK – 11/2008
73. Update my fall wardrobe with 5 new outfits
74. Take a cake decorating class
75. Learn how to cut women's hair
76. Visit the Houghton's new home - CHECK - 9/2008
77. Visit the Webb's in Seattle
78. Go to Longview to visit Grandmama by November 2008 - CHECK - 9/2008
79. Visit family in North Carolina in 2009 - CHECK - 3/2009
80. Develop a new household cleaning plan - CHECK
81. Watch 5 movie's from my "to watch" list - CHECK - 9/2009
82. Read 5 books by the end of 2008 (started in August) – CHECK - 12/2008
83. Read a complete book in French (easy reader!)
84. Date night with Matt each month of 2009
85. Organize gift wrap - CHECK - 2/2009
86. Flatten my tummy - CHECK - 9/2009
87. Go to state fair again in 2009 - CHECK - 10/2009

88. Go to Canton to shop – CHECK – 2/2009

89. Find new homes for our dogs – CHECK 1/2009 (just Nala)

90. Fix my sewing machine and learn how to use it correctly

91. Learn how to make girls bows

92. Get new bedding set for our bedroom - CHECK - 6/2009

93. Do a class with Gabriella

94. Mulch all the flowerbeds in the spring 2009

95. Paint the playroom and kitchen - CHECK - 7/2009

Monday, November 3, 2008

Family Pictures

This weekend we mustered up the energy to take the family to get our pictures made. All-in-all it turned out to be much better than last year's experience. We went earlier in the season and earlier in the day so there was much less waiting... which makes everyone happier. We got quite a few good ones and are happy with the outcome. Here are a few highlights... including a few funny "outtakes":

My big boy - almost 3!

Sweet 1 year old!

"We're tired of smiling already!"

The cute...

And the silly!

Our family!

Click here to see even more!

Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween!

Halloween in pictures... because that is all I have the energy for after a long day!

My little Dorothy

And my sweet Tin Man

Dorothy with her Toto

The family - Dallas Cowboys Quarterback: Tony Romo, his girlfriend: Jessica Simpson, and our cute kids!

The Wizard of Oz Crew - Tin man, Lion, Toto, Scarecrow, and Dorothy. The ensemble cast with our neighbors The Chambers family!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Taking Steps

My baby took 3 steps today. She was so proud of herself too - she loves it when we clap and cheer for her. And Oli loves to clap for her too. We've been working on getting her to drink whole milk and have gotten her to drink more by just clapping for her every time she does it! Here is a precious video. I love Oliver in the background too - what a sweet brother! And Gabby adores him - I love too how she looks back toward him every time she hears him.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Happy Birthday to you!

On Saturday, we had a birthday party at our neighborhood park to celebrate Gabriella's first birthday. It was such a special time with lots of family and friends! We had a bounce house, mini-ball pit, games, storytime/finger plays, and of course cake! Here are some pictures from Gabby's special day:

The balloons for our 1 year old's lady bug party!

The cupcake makers the night before the party!

The finished result - look at those cute ladybugs!

Our 1 year old in her fun birthday shirt!

Listening to the story Ladybug's Birthday

My mom, aka "Meme", reading to the kids

Gabriella with her great grandparents!

The obligatory and very sweet messy-cake-face picture! We love you so much sweet thing!

All pooped out after a fun morning!

State Fair!

My family was in town this past weekend for Gabriella's birthday party on Saturday, so we decided to take Friday to go to the Texas State Fair. It was a blast... and made much more fun because we were able to all do it together! We had fried Oreos, fried Snickers, rode rides, shopped, visited a kid's farm and petting zoo, and much more! Here are some highlights from the day:

Oliver got to ride some carnival rides! Here he is measuring up!

In the "little hands" farming area - what a cute idea!

Feeding a giraffe - where else but the state fair do you have a giraffe in the petting zoo!!! One of Oliver's favorite animals too!

Gabriella playing with Aunt Natty's sunglasses - and LOVING it!

Oli enjoying his first turkey leg

What Oliver thought of "Big Tex"

What Gabriella thought of "Big Tex"