Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Year in Review

Here are 12 of my favorite memories of 2013. It's crazy to think that not that long ago it would be amazing to have a good photo of your family or child from each month of the year and now I have hundreds (if not closer to a thousand) photo moments to choose from. Thankful for the invention of the digital camera and iPhone!

January
It must have been cold in January because most of my photos are of doing things indoors like baking cookies and playing with toys. I picked this one because it was one of the few outdoor moments I captured of Eva and me all bundled up to go for a walk in the cold.
 February
 Happy Valentine's Day! I love my husband and daughter so much! That day we had friends over to decorate cookies and then we celebrated my ordering a pizza with pepperonis designed in 
a heart on it.
 March
It was an early Easter this year. Eva had so much fun getting into hunting for eggs even though she was the littlest (and therefor slowest!) one out there.
April
Eva got her first backpack...that's also a child leash! We rarely need to use the leash anymore but she still wears her back pack all the time. 
 May
We celebrated lots of birthdays in May including Mallory's, Kiersi's, and Kayden's. Mallory got a tricycle and I'm pretty sure it was that moment that Eva decided that she needed a bike too!
 June
We took Eva to her first Texas Ranger's game.  We were lucky to have good seats and she enjoyed the game. She also enjoyed the ice cream in a hat, and we still have the hat for her babies to wear.
 July
Ryan and I celebrated our 5th wedding anniversary and I checked off some bucket list items like going horse back riding and canoeing! 
August
Made homemade blueberry cheesecake ice cream with Eva to enjoy as we spent our days splashing in the pool or playing on the back porch. 
 September
Eva Kate turned 2 years old! We celebrated with a family party at a local park. 
 October
Eva was a tiger for Halloween! We had fun taking her dressed up to Boo at the Ft. Worth Zoo and she was delighted to go trick or treating. She still has tons of leftover Halloween candy because she only gets a couple of pieces per week. Yep, we are those parents. 
November
We celebrated my 30th birthday at the beach in Granbury. This is one of my most favorite photographs of all my life. I love the playing, the laughing, the sunset, the bridge, the ducks, the sand, and the water. 
December
Icemagedon 2013. We stayed inside for 4 whole days, with the exception of the times we ventured out back to go sledding. Of course we celebrated Christmas, but when I look back at 2013 I want to remember those relaxing ice days.

I started my blog on January 1, 2010 so today marks the end of my 4th whole year of blogging! Thank you to everybody who reads it... I plan to keep on writing in 2014!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

All the Christmas Celebrations

In years past I've separated our Christmas celebrations into different posts, but let's face it, I am a busy mama this year. It's taken me almost a week to even get my photos on the computer so I figured I would just make one long post. It's a lot of photos, but if you  knew how many photos I've taken over the past week you would give me a gold star for narrowing it down to just these. We had a wonderful Christmas week and it all started last Sunday.
Sunday afternoon we went to Nana and Papa's house to celebrate with Ryan's aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandmother. The adults do a gift card exchange and these two girls couldn't wait to "help" us unwrap the presents.
Then the kids had all drawn names to exchange cousin presents with each other. Waiting to give and get presents one at a time is a hard concept for little kids but they were so patient and sweet! Also at one point I'm pretty sure Eva gave up and walked away for a bit.
Aunt Janice, Nana, Aunt Sherry and Mamaw. Thankful for the way these ladies love their family.
Our family with Mamaw. Eva was so sweet to give Mamaw lots of hugs and kisses.
We stayed the night Sunday and Monday, and then finally it was Christmas Eve morning! We woke up and did presents with all of our Bradley family.
Eva with Kiersi. I love little girl giggles.
Kayden, Eva, Kiersi, and Mallory. This photo makes me laugh because it looks like Eva can't sit up on her own yet and that Mallory is about 3 or 4. Really they are the same age :) 
Kiersi read the Christmas story this year from a storybook version of the Bible. It's so cool to hear what a great reader she is now that she's in 2nd grade. She was only 1 1/2 years old at my first Bradley Christmas. 
How do you keep two 2 year old still? Put them in a gift bag together! 
Eva's big gift from Nana and Papa was her first tricycle. Every time we saw Santa she would say "Bike!!!" Isn't it awesome that Santa told Nana and Papa that was what Eva wanted so they could get that for her? I love how all that Christmas magic works!
Lots of bikes! Nana and Papa got each other bikes. They also got Kiersi and Kayden bikes. Mallory brought over the bike she got for her birthday so everybody could ride together. I guess Mallory was a little tired of the paparazzi at this point :) 
Christmas Eva night we went to church and then came home. We followed our tradition of having a Chicken Express picnic by the tree and opening 1 small gift each. 
Santa brought presents! Eva was surprised that Santa brought her a play kitchen and filled her stocking! 
Eva loves all things Toy Story so Ryan got her a Buzz Lightyear! 
Our family Christmas photo! We hosted my parents and grandparents Christmas Day for dinner. 
Mamy got Eva a pink vacuum cleaner since she always likes to help me vacuum. 
She got right to work cleaning. Who needs more presents when they could be vacuuming the floors?!
She also got a Winny the Pooh that used to be mine when I was little. 
Check out that biker girl wearing her new shades! 
Thankful for 4 generations together - my mom (Mamy), Eva, my grandma Dede, and me. 
And on my dad's side - my Dad (Baba), me, Eva, and Grandpa Hank (at 93 years young and still hip)
We are so blessed to have families that are so loving. I appreciate their generosity and truly am grateful that we got to spend so much time with all of them.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Follow the star

After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. 
Matthew 2: 9-11

This morning my devotional was about the star of Bethlehem. I was blessed to have a quiet moment in my morning to stop and read and pray over these verses while Eva was still sleeping. The burlap star above is the only Christmas decoration I added to my collection this year. The moment I saw it I really liked it. We have a cross on the top of our tree instead of a star because it reminds me that even on the first Christmas morning, God had a forever plan of bringing salvation to us through Jesus. Eva has enjoyed turning the lights on for it each day and notices when the lights are not shining through it {there is something wonderful about seeing the lights sparkling all day long}. Now it reminds me of how the wise men knew that the star they saw was from God. They knew they were following the light of that star to their new king. And when they found that baby king they bowed down and worshiped. They gave him their best treasures.

This is my hope for this Christmas week. That in the middle of the craziness of traveling with a two year old or the excitement of unwrapping gifts I would look to the star each day and remember. That I would bow my heart and give thanks and praise to the Savior who was born so long ago. My best treasure to give Jesus is my love and praise.

I know I've read this passage before, but it always seems to get passed over during the reading of the story of the birth of Jesus. Hopefully sharing this will encourage somebody else to stop and remember the star, to bow down and worship.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Getting our PARTY on {MOPs and Small Group}

Thursday was a day of holiday parties for me! It started with our MOPS party. I joined MOPS this fall and love it so much. All the women are so friendly and it's a great way for me to get time to be encouraged and talk with friends while Eva gets to go play with her friends in their MOPPETS program.  I would definitely encourage any mama out there to get involved in a MOPS group because it's so much fun!
Instead of a white elephant gift we did a favorite things exchange. We each spent about $5 and brought something we liked and drew names for who should get it. I liked this a lot more than white elephant because you got something you actually liked and you got to share why about the favorite thing you gave away. I meant to get a picture of our table group for the semester but forgot so this will have to do. It's most of our group - we missed the few that weren't there yesterday! Merry Christmas MOPS friends!
Thursday night we hosted our small group holiday party. We were supposed to wear tacky Christmas sweaters but it was rather tame. I just wore regular a sweater and pinned mitten ornaments on it. I did have a moment where I couldn't decide which pair of festive earrings to wear - and then I remembered that my ears are actually double pierced! I haven't worn an earring in my 2nd piercing in many years but I was able to easily get a pair in. I guess those piercings really are permanent! 
We played holiday Minute to Win It games. First up, the nutcracker game, where you stack nuts in a tower.
Then some cup stacking into a Christmas tree shape. There was much controversy over this round. Don't let any of the fellows lie to you, Laura definitely won. The coin flip decided it all and the coin doesn't lie. 
We did a "snowball" toss using giant marshmallows and a wreath. 
Action shot! We raced cheerios back and forth using chopsticks. I lost.
Family shot. Not quite as cute as the year we were all matching, but a close second.
I love all my small group friends so much! {Ashley we missed you} Thankful for their friendships, their prayers, and their goofiness!

Next stop....Christmas!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Seeing Santa and Holiday Fun

On Friday we took Eva to Northpark mall in Dallas. We debated about seeing the train exhibit there but decided to wait another year or so. I dressed her up in her festive outfit (the one I hand wash all the time so she can keep rewearing it) and we enjoyed the sights and sounds of Christmas at Northpark.
I had heard that they do a Santa story time and luckily we ended up in front of Macy's at just the right time. We decided to just do story time instead of sitting on Santa's lap this year. She got to shout out "Bike!" when Santa asked the kids to tell him what they wanted. We didn't make it through the whole story time but she enjoyed it.
At lunch time we met up with my parents to celebrate my dad's 61st birthday. Eva sure loves her Baba! 
Saturday afternoon we took Eva to a concert for one of our youth students. I mentioned in over places how well she did and I am still so impressed. Eva does not sit still and is not quiet but she did so great at the concert. She likes classical music and loves her friend Austin (who played in the concert) so I think that along with some Dora stickers and the promise of candy helped her to last for the whole concert. 
Sunday morning our church did an event that included breakfast with Santa! She was very excited to see him again, especially close up in person! She didn't want a picture alone with him but was perfectly happy to smile as long as her daddy was holding her. And she hasn't stopped talking about him.....
During the breakfast the kids could decorate gingerbread houses and cookies. What kid doesn't want a heaping of sugar to go with their breakfast?
Eva may have tried several times to swipe extra cookies and candy. 
Look at that Santa cookie! I always have big dreams of how my cookies could look but they always end up as a blob of frosting with sprinkles.
The kids went into BKids while the adults went to service. Eva loves to sing and dance long during BKids Worship! 
As part of our special Sunday we had different stations set up for the kids to learn about giving. While the bigger kids were doing a lesson with their teachers I took Eva and her friend Lennon out of the nursery to do a few of the stations. First we decorated cards to give to people who need a bit of cheering up at Christmas time. Eva covered her card in Buzz Lightyear and sports stickers. Let's hope that card makes it to a little kid who will enjoy those stickers. 
Then I took them to the story station which I did for the bigger kids too. I love that they both lied down to read the story. Those two crack me up :)
We wrapped up the weekend with our Student Ministries'  Christmas party. We played games, wore tacky sweaters, and ate way too much sugar all while celebrating the birth of Jesus!
PS Eva posed herself like that when we went to take the picture. Where did she even get that idea?