Wednesday, December 31, 2014

New Year's Eve 2014

We had a wild and rowdy bunch for New Year's Eve this year.  We met at Mom's house and had taco soup and a plethora of snacks.  After eating and playing Cards Against Humanity, we headed out of the city limits to pop fireworks and get into general mischief.  It was a real good time.

Here is a picture of most of our group.  Don't let our fancy clothes fool you, we were there to have a good time.

Wendy bought the girls Frozen hats.  Emmy kept saying, "I'm Elsa; you're Anna."  And this time she was right!


Britt had fun playing with the sparklers.



Once again, I had the pleasure of ringing in the New Year with this stud.  For whatever reason, he keeps me around, and I will always consider myself lucky.


Happy 2015!  I know our greatest adventures yet await us, and I can't think of a better group of family and friends to start it off with!

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Rives Family Christmas Swap

On the fourth day of Christmas my family brought to me, four boxes full of Christmas Goodies!!  Well they weren't just for me, but I had a few of them.

On Saturday, we visited with my Dad's family, and we had our Christmas celebration with them.  Since this was not anyone's first or only Christmas celebration, and we were all a little tired, we chose to go out to eat. My grandparents love to eat at Casa Hernandez when they are in town, but we found out when we got there that they were closed all weekend.  Not to be deterred, we drove to Wharton to La Casona and enjoyed a wonderful feast fit for our spicy crowd.

When we got back to Mom's house, we started the gift swaps.  All of the little kids started us off by opening their presents.  Once they were done, the real fun could begin.  We do two white elephant gift rings.  One is a $25 gift only for the adults, and the other one is a $10 gift/gag gift that everyone participates in.  Both of these are great entertainment and not to be missed.



Emmy sure does love Papa Bo.  She sat and opened presents with him almost the whole time.





She was pretty excited about her new Cabbage Patch baby.



We had so much fun laughing and hanging out.  We stayed up WAY too late just sitting around talking.  Brittany and I sat with Papa and went on a fact finding mission to learn more about his family.  It was a great night, and it makes me grateful to know I have such an amazing support system.  Although I don't get to see my family as much as I would like to, when it counts, they are there.  In the end, I guess that is what really matters.  That and the Special K treats...those count a lot too. :)

Friday, December 26, 2014

Christmas at our House

Christmas at our house was a very belated affair.  In the midst of all of our celebrations, we didn't make time for Emmy to open the presents that we bought her.  I could have taken them to my parents' house on Christmas Morning, but I knew she would have plenty of stuff there.  I am also just selfish enough that I wanted to give my gifts their own 10 minutes of fame rather than be lost in the crowd. 

She was very motivated to open these packages because she had been looking at them longingly for about a week and a half.


We tried not to go overboard this year, so the gifts we bough her fell into one of four categories. 
  • Something to Wear
  • Something to Read
  • Something You Want
  • Something You Need
I didn't actually wrap the clothes that we bought her because I knew she wouldn't really care about opening them.  She was very excited about her new books that Mommy bought at school.


The most exciting gift was of course the Elsa doll that she has been asking for for several months.  Her reaction as she opened it was priceless.  When she found out that Elsa sang, her excitement only grew.  Daddy's sighs might have grown when he learned about this hidden fact as well.

Then there were big hugs for both of us and many thanks.


Bradley and I didn't really buy each other a lot of gift this year.  We got new shirts for Christmas Eve, and neither of us really wanted anything big.  I couldn't let the holiday pass without anything for him to open though so Emmy bought him an ultra soft throw to use in the living room.  He really liked it and has been snuggled up in it on many occasions since.


Before I knew it, the tiny person had cleared out and was taking her new gifts for a test drive.  When I saw this get-up, I knew we had made the right choice.


Merry Christmas gentle readers, and in the midst of all the gifts and family time, may we take a few moments to reflect on what the season is really all about.

Foster Christmas

Grandma and GrandBob surprised us with a visit the day after Christmas.  They brought their Santa sack full of gifts for a special little girl.  The first one she opened, may have been her favorite since she has been wearing it as much as she can ever since.

Grandma Susan made her a Minnie Mouse hat for Christmas, and it was the perfect gift.



She loved her new baby too.


Then came my favorite present!  Grandma made her a mermaid tail just like the one that I found on Pinterest.  I am already envisioning movie nights with this little girl snuggled up in her blanket.


We went out for lunch at Emil's and tried to show them a little small town charm.  Then they came back to our house for Christmas cookies and coffee.  All too soon, it was time for them to go back to Cedar Park. 


We are so glad that they decided to come down and see us.  They are so good about going out of their way to make sure that they get to spend time with all of their grandchildren and great grandchildren around the holidays.  They are just the best.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Christmas 2014

Christmas morning was spent at my parent's house.  We started a tradition of staying in El Campo for Christmas morning when Emmarie was born.  The tradition began because Bradley was working nights at Haliburton, and I wanted him to be able to spend any time that he had during his waking hours with us during the holidays.  We really enjoyed the slow pace and simplicity of being at home for the holidays because we NEVER stayed home during Christmas.  We were always at my aunt or grandmother's house.  Not to take anything away from those memories because Christmas with all of my family is amazing, but there is something special about not having to go anywhere or be on anyone's schedule.

We showed up in our pajamas bright and early (LOL) around 11:00 am.  Mom was cooking breakfast, and we brought our best appetites.  After we were through eating, we moved on to the part Emmy (and secretly all of us) was waiting on--the presents.

She got to open a few presents for little brother first.  She was really excited.  She was even more excited about the Frozen Barbies that she opened next...those were for her of course.




The big kids got to open a few presents during Emmy's reign as well.



Once she was mostly finished with her own presents, she went to "help" Papa with his.


Nana loved her James Avery ring that we got her.



It's really not about the presents at all (even though they are awesome).  Christmas is about getting to spend time with the people that you love and getting to see the joy and love that surrounds everyone during this special time of the year.


Later that afternoon/evening we had Christmas dinner.  I have a "once per year" rule with holiday food, so we decided to make Christmas an Italian affair.  Mom made lasagne; I made spaghetti squash.  It was really good even though it looks like soupy goop in this photo.  Britt made a salad.




Mom even busted out her Christmas dinner set for the occasion.


Right as we were about to eat, we had some Christmas guests show up.  YAY!  Kari finally got to meet Wyatt, and of course he brought his Mommy, Daddy, and Jackson along for the ride.



We had a lot of fun eating, playing games, cuddling the sweet baby, and thinking about how it doesn't get much better than this.  I guess it will get better though because next year, I will have two little babies to rain the Christmas season down upon.  I. Can't. Wait.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Christmas Eve

We spend Christmas Eve at my Aunt Kathy's house.  My Mom's family shows up in force, and we snack away on the best finger foods you can imagine.  We do a white elephant gift exchange and a gag-gift exchange.  We are getting more bold in our choices, and people are starting to become more devious in their strategies and steals.

It is always a beautiful evening of family, fun, and laughter.  This year was no exception. 

Here are some of the foods that we had this year.  Some are traditions (Aunt Kathy's 7-layer dip) and some are new.


And of course we had desserts!


The boy and I in our Christmas Eve duds. 

Christmas is about family, and I think we illustrate that perfectly.


Christmas is also about presents...or at least that's what the littles think.






Every year, I take some photos of all the little cousins.  Our group is growing, and next year there will be at least one more added to the group. (cough cough...Are you having a baby too April?)

Hunter was a year old this Christmas!


Oliver was three years old this Christmas and full of spunk!


Emmarie was three this Christmas too, but I think she might be full of sass.


Halle is our big girl at four years old.  She is a pro at this by now.


Dylan was our newest arrival, and he did a great job of staying still for all the photos.  3 month-olds are good at that.



Getting a group shot of everyone proved a little difficult, so I applied the technique of "snapping, snapping, just keep snapping."  There are at least a few of every child looking even if they are the only one. ;)





When we all get together like this, I try to take a family photo of everyone.  This is something that my mom has done since we were all little.






We try to sneak a few cousin pics and general goofiness as well.



It was an amazing evening and these are the memories that I treasure through-out the year.  We left late, but I didn't mind the drive home because I had lots of blessings to think and meditate on during the drive.