Wednesday, December 22, 2010

From Us to You ~ Merry Christmas!

I had high hopes of blogging about various things this week, but it just didn't happen. Life has been busy ~ full and blessed. It's a busy time of year with lots going on here, there and everywhere. You know how it is! We will be loading up our sleigh and leaving town this afternoon...making the trek to central Arkansas to spend Christmas with John's family. We will come back home Monday morning. We are looking forward to a few days off and spending time with family. It'll be lots of fun and there will be an abundance of yummy stuff to eat!

Nevertheless, I did want to post our Christmas card! We mailed our cards out on December 1st. I think we mailed out about 125 - whew. We love getting Christmas cards. Due to the fact that John works from home, all through the Christmas season he will check the mail during the day, but save the Christmas cards and we open them and look at them together when I get home. It's one of our little traditions.

Our Christmas card photos represent a few highlights from the year...

Upper Left Corner ~ Our favorite picture from the year. It was taken in our living room before we left on a “Date Night”. Whether it be going on date nights, playing board games, watching sports and movies, doing weekly devotionals, traveling, buying groceries, shopping, working on projects around the house (basically anything), spending time together is our favorite thing to do.

Upper Right Corner ~ Taken before dinner on our anniversary. On February 8th, we celebrated 7 amazing years together and we look forward to celebrating anniversary #8 in about two months.

Lower Left Corner ~ Ready for a Texas Rangers game. We watched just about every game this year and were lucky enough to go to the ballpark for six of them. We even had the opportunity to go to Game 1 of the ALCS and sit behind home plate. It was such a fun and exciting season that ended with a trip to the World Series. We are already excited about next year!

Lower Right Corner ~ Our Calvin! This picture was taken in our backyard over the summer. He will turn 8 in January. Calvin is our faithful friend and a very special part of our little family.

The frame below is a craft project I made the first week of December. I took a plain wooden frame (that I bought at Michaels for a whole $2.00), painted the edges red and decoupaged wrapping paper on the front. I trimmed and filed around the edge to remove access wrapping paper and then added ribbon, glitter paint and a bow. The only thing I bought was the frame - a super cheap and fun craft project. Finally, where the picture goes I typed a message in Microsoft Word, printed it out on card stock, cut it to size and put it in the frame. I could probably do it a little better if I made it again, but I am pretty pleased with the result and it's something we can put out year after year as a greeting to any guests we may have.

I'm not sure how much blogging I will be able to do over the next two weeks. We will be back home on Monday and have to work three days, but then we have some fun plans over the long New Year's weekend and will have "our" Christmas together. The following weekend, we will drive to West Texas to celebrate a late Christmas with all of my family there. We will take lots of pictures though and have updates coming soon enough.

John and I wish you a VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS and HAPPY NEW YEAR! May your time with those you love be happy and blessed. Don't forget to count your blessings and remember our greatest blessing - the reason for this glorious season, Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior!

Until we meet again...
Riley

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

ICE!

A couple of weekends ago, we went out for a fun "date day". We started out the day with some shopping and then we headed to the Gaylord Texan Resort for their annual "ICE" exhibit and then ended the day with a delicious dinner.

Each year, the Gaylord Texan has a one of a kind attraction where they carve a Christmas exhibit or display out of nearly two million pounds of colored ice. It's a walk through exhibit - a VERY COLD walk through, 9 degrees to be exact! Obviously, they have to keep it so cold so that the ice doesn't melt. Before you can go in, they hand each visitor a parka and also encourage you to bring gloves, scarves and hats. They weren't kidding! Even with gloves, my hands were freezing. It was super cold in there, but super fun.

We were SO EXCITED to find out that this year "ICE" would be presenting "A Charlie Brown Christmas". We LOVE the Peanuts gang. We have a little display of Peanuts characters out with all of our Christmas decorations and "A Charlie Brown Christmas" is one of our favorites - a holiday classic. We watched it last week. Each display at "ICE" illustrated a scene from the movie. Though there are a couple of non-frozen props, almost everything you wil see is carved out of ice. It was amazing and unbelievable. Some of it looks like plastic, but it's all ice. WOW! The carvers of the ice were from China and spent 12 hour days for a month creating this display.

At the halfway point, there were slides made of what else...ICE! Each visitor had the opportunity to slide down the ice slide. I opted to watch John slide down and take a picture of him.

Something we weren't expecting, at the very end of the exhibit as we were exiting, there was a nativity scene carved out of ice. Because it was plain, clear ice, it looked like glass and was just awesome. The pictures do not do it justice. It was beautiful!

What a fun day - we had a blast!
Until we meet again...
Riley

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Things to Be Happy About ~ November Edition

December is upon us and 2010 is nearing it's end - what a year! It's time to post my "things to be happy about" from November. If you are new to this, I received a bright yellow, page-a-day desk calendar for Christmas last year and it sits on my desk at work. Each day the page lists various things to be happy about. Throughout the month I keep up with my favorite things the pages list and blog about them at the end of the month explaining why it makes me happy. I try to find happiness in the littlest of things and so many things excite me very easily. If you want to catch up, I started this in January so you can always look through my archive.

It's only fitting this time of year that I quote Buddy from the wonderful Christmas movie, ELF. When asked by the department store manager "Why are you smiling?", Buddy replies, "I just like to smile. Smiling is my favorite".

Here are my November things to be happy about...

  • Holiday Shopping ~ CHRISTmas is certainly not about the presents, but it is fun to shop and buy gifts for family and friends, especially something you'll know they'll really enjoy. Even without buying anything, I love malls, shopping centers and stores decked out with decorations for Christmas.

  • Warm Kitchens ~ Kitchens are my favorite room in any house because that's were memories are made and delicious meals are prepared. I love cooking and baking and I love the coziness of a kitchen...it doesn't matter the size, how it's decorated or what's in it.

  • Band Music at Halftime ~ I was in marching band for 6 years and loved every minute of it. I played the clarinet and was also on the flag team. I have very fond memories from being in band, especially in high school. We even made it to the State Marching Contest my senior year - fun times! Even now, 13 years later (whoa!) I still look forward to watching the bands at halftime.

  • Home for the Holidays ~ We don't live near our parents (they are all about 5-6 hours away) so it's always nice to anticipate going home for a visit, especially at Christmas. We will be spending Christmas this year in Arkansas with John's family and then we'll go visit mine in early January.

  • Being Offered a Ticket to an NFL game ~ I much prefer watching football games in the comfort of our living room, but it was fun to get to go to a Cowboys game - especially for free! We received tickets from a vendor of a client at work a couple of years ago and we had a great time.

  • Eggnog ~ This isn't something I can drink a lot of, but I really enjoy having at least one cup of eggnog during the holiday season. It's really rich, but yummy. I haven't had any yet, but I will before Christmas Day.

  • Small Town Life ~ We live in a small town outside of the Dallas area and it's nice to escape the busyness of the Metroplex. We love all that the "big city" has to offer and take advantage of it, but nothing beats small town life. John's from a very small, quaint town in Arkansas and it's very peaceful and nice. Fredericksburg, Texas is one of our favorite small towns too - with adorable shops up and down Main Street. Small towns are so simple and with the world as crazy as it is, they bring calm. Don't you wish we could all live in Mayberry?

  • Scarves Knotted Snuggly ~ I have several scarves and I really enjoy those days it's cold enough for bundling up in a warm coat, a scarf and some gloves. I've worn my nice, long coats the past two days and I love it. As cold natured as I am, I much prefer the fall and winter weather.

  • Sentimental Value ~ I am a sentimental person and thankfully John is too. He may be even more so than me - one of the many things I love about him, it's so sweet. But we have many treasures and keepsakes from our childhood and growing up years, from family and friends and we have two tubs of special things from each other. We call them our "treasure tubs". You can read about them here.

  • Countdown to Christmas ~ It's on - hooray! But I don't want to rush it and wish the season away. It only comes once a year.

  • Not having to rush ~ Life for everyone is so busy and fast-paced these days. It seems to be getting worse with so many to dos, tasks, commitments, schedules, appointments, things on the calendar and on and on. Being able to take your time and savor the moment is so underrated.

  • Help with the Dishes ~ I am BLESSED and LUCKY - my husband washes the dishes in our house. It's something he's taken upon himself to take care of since the day we were married and he's not complained about it one single time. It's not to say that I don't wash a few dishes from time to time or load/unload the dishwasher, but the majority of it is done by sweet John. Thank you, my love! I don't take it for granted. It's funny because sometimes I'll say "thank you for washing the dishes" (after a meal) and he'll say "thank you for dirtying them" ( by making the meal) .

  • Sleeping Late ~ Not something I get to do often, but not having to set the alarm is such a good feeling when going to bed the night before. It's nice every once in a while to wake up when you want to. "Sleeping late" for me could even just be 7:30 or 8:00, since we get up so early during the week, but that works for me.

  • Long Touchdown Passes ~ Thrill and excitement for a die hard football fan - COMPLETED long touchdown passes are even better!

  • Holiday Window Displays ~ I kind of talked about this above, but I really enjoy all of the decorations and lights in store windows.

  • Shopping...Done ~ We aren't there yet, but we are getting closer. It's such a good, relieving feeling when it's complete and then on to the wrapping - my favorite part!

  • Putting up the Tree ~ We put our tree up the weekend before Thanksgiving due to the fact that we would be traveling and we wanted it done for when we returned home. We had lots of fun decorating the house and took many pictures that I need to post VERY soon.

  • Christmas Movies ~ I heart Christmas movies and we have several of them. We made a list before the Christmas season started of all of the Christmas movies and specials we wanted to watch before Christmas is over. We've knocked off a few, but still more to watch. We plan to make chili and watch one this Friday night - can't wait!

  • Parades & Football ~ We all know my passion for football and parades make me happy too. I've been in a few myself and the Macy's Parade is one of my favorite things about Thanksgiving. I watch it every year. I read on a blog the other day that "parades, football and feasting should be a part of everyday life" - I agree!

  • The Sounds of a Meal Being Prepared ~ This goes along with my love for all things involving the kitchen and cooking/baking. The sound of spoons stirring in a pan, beaters in a mixing bowl, a food processor slicing and dicing, an electric knife carving meat, foil being torn, doors and drawers opening and closing, a pot of water boiling, sizzling of meat...it's all music to my ears.

I wish you all of the happiness your heart can hold during this Christmas season.

Until we meet again...
Riley

Friday, December 3, 2010

Nine Years Ago ~ Where Does the Time Go?

Nine years ago today, December 3, 2001, John and I met each other. Well, electronically anyway!

Here's the story...

For Thanksgiving in 2001, I went with my Mom, Armando (my step-dad) and Andrew (my brother) to spend it with Armando's family in Pearsall, Texas and also celebrate Grandma's (Armando's Mom) 70th Birthday over the weekend. During the evening of Thanksgiving, a few of us were sitting around visiting and John's sister-in-law, Angela (who is also Armando's niece), asked me if I was dating anyone. At that time, I was a few weeks away from my college graduation. I was not dating anyone at the time, but was focused on finishing school and looking for a post-college job. So I proceeded to tell Angela that I was currently single. Well, she got all excited and said that I should meet Jason's brother (Jason is her husband - John's brother). Are you confused? Hee Hee!

Anwho, Angela went on to tell me a little bit about John and what I heard sounded really good. I obviously had specific things in mind regarding guys I wanted to date and from the little that she told me, John sounded great. Keep in mind at this time John was living in central Arkansas and I was living in Odessa(west Texas)...about 12-13 hours apart. So Angela asked me to give her my e-mail address (that she would give to John) and she gave me John's e-mail address and suggested that maybe we could e-mail each other and see what happened.

After the Thanksgiving weekend was over and we all went back home, I waited a couple of days to hopefully hear from this John guy :), but several days passed and I never did. Therefore, I decided to go ahead an e-mail him myself. I had his e-mail address afterall. So, on December 3, 2001 I e-mailed John and then he e-mailed me back later that day. Come to find out, John HAD actually e-mailed me before I decided to e-mail him, but he was sending it to the wrong e-mail address. He was probably wondering why I wasn't e-mailing him back, but it's a good thing I decided to reach out to him. So we made our first connection on December 3rd - hooray!

We continued to e-mail each other back and forth through the month of December just getting to know each other, asking questions and sharing about various topics. We then eventually made the step to call one another and talk over the phone.

In January of 2002, I flew to Arkansas to meet John face to face (January 8th to be exact)...and the rest, as the say, is history!

We still have those first two e-mails we exchanged. John actually forwarded me the first one he sent me this morning with "Happy E-Mail Day!" as the subject of his e-mail. How sweet! I certainly remember how it all began and I thank God. Only He could bring two people that lived miles apart together in the way He did.

I love you so much more than I could ever say, John! Nine years ago today, my life was changed in wonderful ways - forever!
Until we meet again...
Riley