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 :)