Friday, December 26, 2008

Wii wish you a Merry Christmas

It was a Wii Christmas at our house this year.....the game system, games, remotes, nunchucks, and how much stuff do you need to go with this?? Still trying to figure this all out and wondering why was everyone laughing when I tried the bowling? My Mom got me the Wii Fit to help out with my fitness goals, but I need to get over the game's warning...."your age, weight, and BMI will appear on the screen for others to see" I really want Don to know how much I weigh?

This is short for to go pack for our trip tomorrow. We're going to a Riley family reunion with all of Don's immediate and extended family. A total of 35 people, ages 5-72 in a 12 bedroom beach house in Gulf Shores, Alabama. We did this 3 years ago and had a blast.

Hope everyone had a great Christmas and we wish you a Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Gingerbread House

Monday was the first day out of school for the girls and it didn't take long to hear "I'm bored"! Sarah was content to watch t.v. and stay on the computer for a while, but Katie needs to be entertained (just like her daddy). Katie had wanted to make a gingerbread house this year, so we had bought a kit on Sunday afternoon. So after I had finished working around the house, Katie had cleaned windows, and they both dusted, we decided to tackle the gingerbread house. I think it turned out pretty good. Now the challenge is keeping the dogs away. Dixie keeps sniffing around the counter. I think we have it pushed back far enough, but she can be quite persistent. Here are a few pictures of the girls' creation.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Beautiful Feet

For the past 7 or more years our family has been part of the Christmas ministry at the Beautiful Feet Mission in Ft. Worth. Many years ago our church would have the various Sunday School classes adopt families and buy gifts and then deliver to the families in the inner-city of Ft. Worth. Because our church now has Mission Colleyville (outreach to local families), this project has stayed alive in our church because of our friend Greg Montgomery. Anyway, we have been buying gifts and taking part in this ministry and it is such a blessing and an eye-opener. When we first started, the girls were very young and I didn't think it safe to take them. But they have been going for at least the last 5 years and even this year, asked without prompting, when are we doing Beautiful Feet.

I wanted to share about one family we delivered to last night. It was a 74 year old great-grandmother and lots of people living in her house. We took gifts that different people had bought for the 6 kids ranging in age from 2 up to 12. We are driving around in this dark, run-down neighborhood trying to find the house number. You know you are out of your comfort zone when you see a house with a giant black Santa face on the front door. There are groups of black men/boys hanging around in front yards and Katie says "I hope we don't get beat up". We try to reassure the girls that God will protect us while we are doing work for Him. Don and I weren't so much fearful but just uncomfortable. It is a whole other world that we don't even think about existing.

So when we find the house, the grandmother and a little girl are on the front porch waiting for us. The little girl runs out to the truck so excited. The four of us unload 8 large garbage bags full of presents and a box of food. The girl tells me her name is "Sweet Pea" and she is 10 years old and in 4th grade (the same as Katie). How surreal to see Katie standing next to this girl in this run-down house! What 2 different lives they live but both loved equally by God. Then one by one kids just start coming out of the back bedroom. The grandmother has a switch (yes, a small tree branch) in her hands and tells them to get away, the presents are for Christmas! Don then tells her that he wants to make sure she knows about the true Christmas gift of Jesus. She says, "oh yes, honey, that's how I've survived for 74 years". I asked "Sweet Pea" if she knew Jesus and she shakes her head yes and smiles so big.

As we left, the girl runs out in the yard as her cousins (2 big black guys) are walking up to the dark house. She starts yelling "we got a turkey!". How many of our kids would be more excited over a turkey than bags of presents?

We had some really good discussions in the car as we drove to the next family. This always helps our family keep focused on how blessed we are. If you are ever looking for a ministry to be a part of check out the Beautiful Feet website. Also if you are wondering why the name of "Beautiful Feet", it comes from Isaiah 52:7 (and quoted in Romans 10:15) "How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!"

May your family know the true spirit of Christmas and realize how blessed you are!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Favorite Christmas Ornaments (a "tag" from Cristi)

My friend Cristi G. has posted on her blog some of her favorite Christmas ornaments and has "tagged" her friends to do the same. This is a new "blog term" for me, but I'll take the challenge and show off some of my favorites.

Each year my Mom (Nana) gives Sarah and Katie an ornament. I have them all labeled with the year and supposedly when they leave home, they will take them for their first Christmas tree. The only problem is that over the years they have become some of my favorites and make me sentimental. I don't know if I'll be able to give them up one day. We also have a family tradition of picking up an ornament when we are on vacation. So we have several Mickey Mouse ones, beach themed ones, ones from Don's parents and ones with the girls' names from our travels. It's hard to pick favorites because our tree is a mix of special memories and ornaments that represent different times in our family's life over the past 18 years. I do have to say that we went through a Barbie phase for a few years and I finally had to say "take them off the family tree and put them on the tree in your bedroom."

But here are a few of the ones that make me smile.......

Don's favorite! His cousin gave us a box of miscellaneous ornaments as a wedding gift since we were married on December 1. It was a fun wedding gift.

This was our first "baby". Our black lab puppy (Grace) we got the spring after we were married. We had her 5 years before having Sarah. After 15 years, she died in Spring of 2006. All 3 of our current dogs now have their own ornaments on the tree.

To Sarah from Nana (1995 Santa, 1996 Mickey/Minnie). When Sarah was 1 year old she loved Mickey. The Santa ornament was when she was 1 month old.

To Katie from Nana 1999. This was when Katie was 1 year old. I love it because the chubby little cheeks remind me of Katie when she was a baby.

To Sarah from Nana (2006). I just love this sweet angel. Katie has one similar. I have a lot of different angels on my tree.

One of my favorite snowmen. He belongs to a set of three I got one year after Christmas at the Hallmark store. I tend to pick up Santas, snowmen, and angels.

I have several nativity and cross ornaments. I like this one because it reminds me of why we celebrate Christmas!

These are not ornaments, but favorites. The Santa countdown has pockets and 24 felt ornaments that the girls put in each day. They alternate years for who gets to put Santa in on the 24th. This is the first Christmas that the truth about Santa is known to both of them. The other is a musical snowglobe that Don's Mom gave me early in our marriage. It plays "Silent Night" and the Christmas story scenes rotate around the base.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Sarah's Vocal Performances

Last week was a busy week (besides the excitement of the truck). Monday night Sarah had a voice recital. She and her best friend Jamie take voice lessons together at school. Then on Tuesday night, Sarah's middle school choir had their winter concert. Sarah is part of the 7th/8th grade Varsity Choir. She tried out at the end of 6th grade and to my surprise made the choir. Not surprising because of her singing voice, but she didn't tell me she was trying out. The choir is incredible. About 70 girls singing in perfect harmony. Not your typical elementary school program, but the kind of singing that gives you chills and a very small glimpse of what a heavenly choir must sound like. So here are some pictures of Sarah's performance. Sarah, I'm very proud of you. You have a lot of courage to stand up there and sing by yourself!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Real Texan or Mid-life decide

I don't even know where to begin with Don's latest purchase. But I'll start with a little background so you can fully appreciate the entire story. About 8 months ago, Don's Honda Accord was on it's last legs and he began the search for a used car. He ended up finding a Mazda 3 for sale by owner and took a few weeks to work out the deal. So one day I pull up in the driveway to see him unloading the junk from his trunk while two men were standing there waiting. He had sold the Honda without getting the Mazda. So, he tells me "it was a good deal and I had to take it today." So he thinks he'll get the Mazda in a couple of days. Well, it took almost a month because of title problems, and we were a one car family. He was excited because it was a stick shift and he thought it was cool and made him feel young. Now to bring you up to the present........

Last week he starts looking at truck ads and saying "they're practically giving away trucks, I've always wanted a truck!". I give my wise wifely advice and tell him "to proceed with caution", "this is not practical", "can we afford this", yada... yada ....yada. I begin to see the twinkle in his eyes and know there is no stopping him. The girls start teasing him that he's going through a mid-life crisis. So I tell him, if you can make a deal with no change in our car payment you can do it (thinking, no way can this happen).

WELL.....I pick the girls up from school on Wednesday and we head to the mall for Katie's eye exam and then we did some shopping. When we got home we saw to our surprise a red truck in the driveway. The girls start yelling "Daddy's having a mid-life crisis!!!". I just shake my head and think "he really needs another man around so he'll quit doing these crazy things!" He just keeps saying "I'm a real Texan now!" But I don't chastise him because he looks like a little boy on Christmas morning. I guess sometimes I just need to let him have his "manly impulse moments" as long as they don't put us in total financial jeopardy. For all of you men out there, it is a Dodge Ram 1500 quad cab.

My only negative comment was that his last surprise he brought home ended up costing us $2,000 in vet bills. That's a whole other story involving the white lab dog he brought home from the animal shelter (see our Christmas card). Yes, he brought home a dog without anyone knowing. You gotta love him!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Christmas in the Riley house

Sarah has informed me that I need to add something "Christmasy" to my blog. I sure didn't know when I started this I would be getting pressure from my own daughter. But I'll try and add a little of how we have started the Christmas season.

Last weekend we put up our tree and Don did the lights on the house. The girls think we have a gingerbread house ( I think it looks that way too). Maybe I'll try a night photo and see what happens. Also we are starting a new tradition with "the Pickle Ornament". Apparently you hide this beautiful pickle shaped ornament on your tree on Christmas Eve and on Christmas morning whoever finds it first gets to open the first present. Thanks to Nana for getting this for the girls, it sounds like fun!

We went to the Grapevine Botanical Gardens today and tried to get Christmas card photos. I've included some "out takes" for your laughing pleasure. We took two of our three (yes, 3) dogs, but ended up having to put Dixie (our yellow lab) in the car because she was too crazy. Ranger (our white lab mix) did ok for a few shots. The girls were absolutely nuts. I just kept thinking....."they don't act like this when Kim Lewandowski takes their pictures". Don was way into being a photographer and if the girls had been real clients I would have charged their mother an extra fee!! Anyway, maybe we got a few good ones. When we were done, Don and I were in much need of a Sonic drink (diet Coke for him and diet Dr. Pepper with vanilla for me).

We got a new camera as an early Christmas gift to ourselves, so Don was still working out the kinks. So, for now I've just sent a few prints to one hour processing to see how they look. Don is watching the Cowboys, and the girls are doing something together and I don't hear any fighting (Merry Christmas to me!).

Monday, December 1, 2008

For Better or Worse.......18 years and counting

Today Don and I have been married 18 years. If you've read my last 2 posts you're probably wondering how many more celebrations can that family have. Well, in a 5 week period we have 2 kids birthdays, Thanksgiving and wedding anniversary......which one do you think gets the least attention?? Don and I did manage to go out for dinner last night. And to our surprise when we got home, both girls had taken a shower without being told. I told you I was thankful for having a built-in babysitter. They also entertained us with a Christmas musical skit since we put up the tree yesterday. What more could I want.....dinner and theater in one night.

Happy Anniversary Don!!! We have had many ups and downs over the years, but God's grace has kept us together through the hard times. I know we'll have many more years of adventure ahead. We may not be as young as we were in this photo, but we have much more wisdom and a deeper love than on December 1, 1990.