Saturday, December 31, 2011

Rockin' New Year's Eve

New Year's Eve...friends.food.fireworks.games.Dick Clark. NYC. or maybe Big D. resolutions.midnight kisses. 10,9,8,7,....whatever your plans are for tonight, I hope you have a fabulous night celebrating! Eva is very excited to celebrate her first New Year's Eve! She better be asleep at midnight :)

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Christmas 2011: Part 2

Our Christmas celebrating continued on Christmas Eve (for Part 1, click here). Ryan spent much of the day at church getting things ready while I stayed home and cooked. Cooking takes sooooo much longer when I am also entertaining Eva. We joined Ryan at church in the evening for the service.

Over 100 people attended Redeemer's Christmas service. Praise God! Our Pastor Scott preached a sermon that was full of the gospel message and I hope that hearts were changed and encouraged. After the service we started a new Christmas Eve tradition - going out to eat! Since we will likely attend service away from our family for the next 50 years, we decided that we need a fun tradition of our own. I plan on cooking for Christmas Day for years to come, and after a full day preparing for that meal, I didn't want to cook more for Christmas Eve. We decided to use a Cheesecake Factory gift card that we had received. I got a vegetarian hamburger and it was delicious. I am not a vegetarian but I like these so much more than a regular hamburger. We'd had so many sweets lately that we actually skipped the cheesecake from Cheesecake Factory...maybe next time :)

LinkWe didn't need to set an alarm clock on Christmas morning since we had this bundle of joy to wake us up! She didn't wake up for the presents - she woke up for food! After she was full we opened our family presents.
I want so much for Eva to appreciate the gifts we are able to give her and to enjoy spending time with family. I know that it is normal for kids to want tons and tons of presents but I hope I can teach her not to be greedy and to be content. I don't expect this to be easy, but that's part of being a parent, right?

Don't worry though, Santa did come to visit Eva! She got a fun stuffed puppy that sings and talks. She loves to look at it make noise and light up. My favorite part of this toy is when it is left on and randomly says, "HUG ME!" Hmm, seems a bit demanding....

After opening presents we got ready for our guests to arrive. I think I made enough chicken spaghetti for a small army! Seriously, it was so much chicken spaghetti. I planned for 8 not considering that one of those was a baby and three were grandparents (or rather, great-grandparents) that don't eat very much. We've been eating this for days now even after sharing a hearty portion with some church friends.

With Mama and Daddy, who wished for a Christmas nap, but got a house full of love instead.

I love my new toys!

Four generations together for Christmas, what a blessing!

With Great Grandpa Hank. Sadly, Eva did not want to be passed around too much. After days of celebrating I think she was worn out and just wanted to snuggle with Mama. I promise that she does smile and hope that one day she won't cry when passed around.

With Grandpa, doing her stretches.

With Papa Homer and Dede. I hope everyone enjoyed Eva's first Christmas!

Christmas 2011: Part 1

I'm a little late posting these awesome Christmas photos, but I've been having too much fun with family to sit down and blog much. On the Thursday before Christmas we went to Royse City to spend the night with Ryan's parents (also known as Nana and Papa). We got there in the afternoon and spent lots of time eating and playing games. Eva is borrowing her cousin's Bumbo for a few months and she loves to sit up in it!

Thursday night was the first time that all four little cousins were together. How cute is that? I love that they are all girls and can hopefully grow up having lots of fun together.

Christmas morning we woke up early to open presents. Nana & Papa's tree had plenty of gifts to open!
Eva got lots of toys and clothes. Even though she isn't quite sure what to do with them yet, it's fun for me to play with them and teach her.

Little cousins sitting around the Christmas tree - oh wait, where is Eva??????

She fell asleep. After 45 minutes of opening presents, she was out. She just slept right on the couch while the rest of us enjoyed the morning. What a tired elf.

Of course we had the famous race to find the pickle! I tried hard, but Ryan was the winner this year.


These were the collage pictures that my sister in-law Amanda put together for Nana and Papa. She did a great job putting them together and I love the cute expressions from all of the granddaughters.

After a good breakfast and lots of family time, we got dressed up in our fancy Christmas clothes to go over to Ryan's aunts house for some more celebrating. I was busy keeping Eva calm and didn't get many pictures there, but we did enjoy our time with the family.

Aunt Melody, Uncle Greg and Cousins Kayden and Kiersi

Aunt Amanda, Uncle Brian, and Cousin Mallory

And the Christmas fun continues.....Read Part 2.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas, Eva!

Dear Eva Kate,

Merry Christmas! Today we celebrated your first Christmas. I remember last Christmas telling Daddy how much I was hoping for a baby and now here you are! It is so fun to celebrate with you - even if you did cry for a lot of the day - I think you were a little over stimulated from all the fun we've had the past few days. It's been so neat to see you suddenly take interest in "playing" with toys. I realized this Christmas that some baby toys are just as much fun for Mama as they are for you.

As I look towards your future, I can't always promise that you'll get everything you wish for on Christmas. Some years we may have much, other years we may celebrate with less. But I can promise you that we'll always have a house full of love. Love for our family, love for you, love for Jesus, and most importantly love FROM Jesus. And that's what Christmas is really all about. It is fun to open presents but the greatest gift is that we can know a Savior who is our hope and our hero. I hope that we can encourage you all of your like to have a joyful heart that comes from knowing God.

love, Mama

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Just hear those sleigh bells jingling...

In case you read my last post about our failed Christmas party, I wanted to share with you some of the wonderfully joyful things that we've gotten to do this Christmas season with our church family. First on my list is our matching Christmas turtlenecks. Cool? No. Festive? Yes! These awesome outfits will now become a permanent fixture in our holiday collection. And Eva made a cute elf!

I love this picture of some of our beautiful youth girls! A few weeks ago our church had a women's Christmas party. We did lots of games, ate way too much food, and did an ornament exchange! Nothing says love like stealing your favorite ornament from a friend. This year my mom got to come to the party also. She is super competitive at party games - now I know why I'm so into bridal/baby shower games!

Last week a group from the church went Christmas caroling at a local nursing home. I was heading up the event and had planned everything out with the event planner at the home -the event planner who didn't mention that she left at 6pm every day. We got there at 7pm and there wasn't anybody in the dinning room where we were supposed to perform! Making a quick decision we decided to make our caroling mobile and sing in each corridor of the nursing home.

I hope we were a blessing to the people we sang to. Our group was quite a step down from a professional choir - earplugs anyone? But what we may have lacked in tune I believe we made up for in joy, laughter, and love. I kept thinking that if I was in a nursing home, I would just want someone to see me and remember that I mattered. I hope we made the residents feel like they still matter. They were so kind to us and never cringed when our group missed a high note. Ryan and I had a blast singing with our friends!

And finally, the reason for the turtlenecks... we had a Redeemer Student Ministries "Crazy Christmas Sweater" party! We'd say tacky, but some of these sweaters were so decked out they were almost cool. Can we all agree to make this silly trend fashionable? Ryan began the night with a devotional about choosing to share Christ this season and then we followed up with a night of fun games and dozens of Christmas cookies. It's been a wonderful Christmas season!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Merry Christmas to All...And to all a goodnight?

Last night we were ready for the party of the year. The stockings were hung on the bar top with care, in hopes that jolly neighbors soon would be there.

Presents were stashed 'round the Christmas tree, we were excited and waiting for our neighbors with glee!
The cocoa was ready and we began to wait.... could it be that our guests were running late?

We had cookies and popcorn and treats galore. Alas nobody came -
we'll host parties no more :(

So last night we attempted to host a party for all of our neighbors in our building. We thought that the holidays would be a great reason to reach out and be intentional in getting to know the people around us. We printed out cute invitations. We cleaned the house. We prepared the food. We turned on rocking Christmas tunes. And then we waited. You know that moment when you're ready for a party and its about to start so you don't want to start doing anything else? That was us at 6:30 PM last night. Ryan, Eva, & I sat on the couch and waited. Of course we didn't expect any knocks on the door right that minute. At 6:45 PM we thought maybe people were wanting to be fashionably late. By 7:30 PM we had to face the fact that our meet and greet was a bust. Womp womp. I know people are busy during the holidays, but are they really too busy to drop by for a few minutes? (We stated on the invites that it was a come and go so nobody felt awkwardly obligated to stay the whole time) We could even hear the people above us in their apartment - I so wanted to go knock on there door with a plate full of cookies! I'll admit that I was a bit disappointed as I put away all of the food and beverages and stored my cute Christmas plates and mugs back in the cabinets. At least I get to host Christmas Day at our home - my family better not ditch us too :)

Was it something I said?

Monday, December 19, 2011

After my mom's graduation on Friday I decided to visit the elementary school where I taught at for several years. I had wanted to go back for a while and Friday was the perfect day since I knew they would be having Christmas parties and I wouldn't be disrupting anything. It was soooooo good to see my old teacher friends and my students! Of the classes that I taught 2 of them are now on to bigger and better things (aka middle school) and the ones that would be 5th graders now weren't in their rooms when I stopped by. So that left the students that are now 4th graders. Of course I cared about my students each year, but the group that is in 4th grade now was my last group of 2nd graders. Not only that, but they were truly just a special group to me. It seems wrong to call them my favorite group so I'll just call them "extra loved". They were special because not only were they my last kiddos, but they were so awesome and smart and

Friday, December 16, 2011

Graduation Day

Today my mom graduated from Texas Women's University! This degree has been a loooonnngggg time in the making. She started college when she was younger, took a significant break, and then started taking a couple classes at a time when I was in junior high. I am so proud of her for continuing to work hard to earn her diploma. I remember once that my Grammy (my dad's mom) said that she thought it was so incredible that women can earn degrees and wished that she could have gone to college. Grammy would be so excited for my mom today!

My mom is a wonderful example of working hard for what you want to achieve. She didn't just show up from class, she excelled. Sometimes we make fun of her for being such a "nerd," but we love her and know that she always does her best. My mom loves to learn. Her favorite professor even told her she's welcome to come back and sit in on his class anytime. She probably will :)

If you look at the program, her name is 5th name in the 3rd column. Amy Elizabeth Schmidt Merbler. Cum Laude. That's right! She graduated with honors! Way to go mom!

They pronounced her name correctly when she walked across the stage. It's hard when your last name is Merbler. Trust me, I was there once.

Eva will be proud of her Mamy one day when we can tell her how she worked so hard to finish school. Thanks for setting a great example for our baby! (When everybody clapped during the ceremony we told Eva they were clapping for her since she was such a good baby during the whole thing.)

Proud parents! I'm so glad they got to see her graduate.

Mygrandma and her sister. How cute are they? My mom's cousin Laurie was there too but I didn't get to take a picture of her. Laurie and my Great Aunt JoAnne drove all the way from Tennessee to see my mom walk across the stage.

My mom's best friend Leslie. Even though she is 53 I'm glad that her best friend could be there just like my best friends were there for my graduation.

Happy Graduation, Mom! We love you!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Let's Give Them Something to Talk About

I woke up this morning before Eva did. I thought I would quietly peak into her room and check on her. When I did I found her laying in her crib just quietly "talking" to herself. By talking I mean little baby coos and chuckles. She makes lots of little sounds but nothing that resembles human language yet. So there she was just talking away when I peaked over the crib to tell her good morning. It is so cute to see her in the morning because she always gives me a suspicious look for about 10 seconds before breaking out into a huge smile when she realizes " Oh, yeah, that's my mama!"

I got her up and fed her. She talked all while she was nursing - not an easy task to do! Then she talked the whole time that she played on her blanket with toys while I sat next to her and had breakfast. It's so funny because sometimes I can hold and get her to have a conversation with me. She coos, I answer in real words. Repeat 20 times. It's amazing. Of course, only one of us makes sense, but that's okay. Next she talked and talked and talked while we practiced tummy time. Usually she gets fussy but today she seemed pretty happy.

At 9:30 AM I rocked her and put her down for her nap. Within a minute of putting her down I could hear her chatting away over the baby monitor. Usually she either falls right asleep or cries because she pacifier falls out. Since I could tell that she was happy I just listened to her talk to herself for about ten minutes. And then silence. I guess she finally ran out of things to say :)