Monday, December 28, 2009

Christmas '09

We had a wonderful Christmas this year! On Christmas Eve the joy level was so high I though I would explode, actually! :)

On Christmas Eve, Eli and I spent the day together here at home, baking and just enjoying being together. And the best part of the day was that it was SNOWING! Eric got home from work early in the afternoon, and we went to visit our neighbors, bearing Christmas cookies. It was fun to walk around outside in the snow!

Before Eli's bedtime, we each opened our Christmas Eve gifts (pajamas) and read the Christmas story. Then, while Eric put Eli to bed, I cooked dinner (everything but the steak) for Eric and myself and Phil and Kelly. We did it up right- garlic parmesan mashed potatoes, spinach and artichoke dip, green salad, ribeyes grilled by Phil, champagne cocktails, and cheesecake for dessert. This has become our Christmas Eve tradition, and it is so much fun! A fancy table with fancy food on the best night of the year- perfection! And after a wonderful dinner, Santa came! :)

Eric and I opened our presents to each other on on Christmas Eve night, which was really nice. As always, Eric gave me great gifts, and I think Santa got him a few good ones too. :)

On Christmas morning Eli got to open his presents from us, which was so fun to watch. His big gift was a rocking horse.

He was most concerned with picking up all the wrapping paper and putting it in the trash. It was hilarious, and it reminded me not a little bit of me. :)

After that, we headed next door to my parents' house, where everyone gathered for the most insane gift-giving extravaganza I've ever seen. :) Three 18 month-old boys make for a crazy Christmas, for sure. :) My parents, as always, were so generous, and we had such a fun morning being with everyone!

We ran home after that and changed clothes and then headed to Eric's mom's house for a late lunch. She gave him this big stuffed lion for Christmas that he loves.

And finally, we drove to my uncle's house for dinner with my dad's side of the family, another big, crazy, super-fun get-together. Eli, however, had had a little too much Christmas by this point- he was worn out! We headed home and put him right to bed. He had a great day and was such a trooper as we went from event to event.

And, of course, no Christmas can be complete without a midnight showing of Avatar, right? Wrong. Well, wrong for me at least. :) Eric, Phil, Jonathan, and my dad went to see it late, late on Christmas night while the rest of us slept soundly in our beds. And that was our Christmas! Crazy? Yes! Perfect? YES!!!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Christmas Letter

My sweet Eli,

Merry Christmas, baby! I am so excited to celebrate with you this year, because this year you will actually know that there is something really fun going on! Last year you just laid in the wrapping paper and watched as we opened your gifts for you. But this year? This year you will run into the living room on Christmas morning and notice a big pile of presents under the tree. You will get insanely excited as you rip the paper off of the boxes. And you will have a blast playing with all of your many new toys. You'll love running around with your cousins at Mom-Mom and Pop-Pop's house later in the morning, and you'll bask in all the attention lavished on you when we go see Daddy's side of the family later in the day. You will be the delight of our day. Christmas is just so much better with you!

I want to remind you of a couple things, because I imagine that someday you'll read back through these blog entries, this digital journal that I'm keeping for us, for you. First, I want to remind you of your precious Savior Jesus Christ who was born for you on Christmas day. Eli, there is no gift I want more in this entire world than the gift of seeing you trust Him as your personal Savior. He came for you, baby! He took on flesh and all the limits of humanity, all the horrible persecution we inflicted on Him, all the pain and agony of death on a cross... for you! For us! We open presents and get together with family on Christmas because we are celebrating the indescribable gift of Jesus Christ. We have talked about this so much already, opening one little drawer of our advent calendar every day so that we can help to tell you the story of the birth of Christ. We pray that in the coming years you will understand more and more fully what Christmas really means.

The second thing I want to remind you of is that I love you! I love you for who you are, and nothing could ever change that. But I also love you for what you do! I love your big personality, all the adorable sounds you make that comprise a language all your own. I love that you lift up your shirt a thousand times a day to see your belly button, asking "Where is it?" until you find it and then waving "bye-bye" to it as you pull your shirt back down again. I love that you wake up yelling "DAD!" I love that you take my hand when we walk and say "Mommy" over and over again when you sit in your stroller, just to make sure that I'm still there. I love how you climb all over everything, my little monkey! I love how smart you are, remembing what everything is and where everything goes, learning shapes and colors and words and sounds. I love how you adore your cousins and can hardly contain your excitement when you see them. I love that you love to wrestle and be tickled and chased and scared by us when we play hide and seek with you. I love that you call your toes "wee-wee," because we've played "This Little Piggy" a thousand times, and that last little piggy goes "wee-wee-wee-wee, all the way home." I love your affinity for sticks, how your favorite toy right now is piece of PVC pipe that is taller than you are. It stays outside, though, because you also love to knock things off the counters with it inside! :) I love your strong will and determination, and I also love your sweet spirit that is tender and teachable. I love YOU, Eli Wilson, from the top of your white-blond head to the tips of your adorable, tiny toes.

You are the joy of our hearts, baby, and we are waiting with childlike excitement to celebrate your second Christmas with you. I remember not being able to sleep as a child on the night before Christmas because I was so excited to see what was under the tree. This year I won't be able to sleep either, but now it's because I can't wait to see your reaction to what is under the tree! You will make this Christmas perfect.

I love you, sweetheart!


Sunday, December 20, 2009

Weekend Update

(I can't help but think of "Weekend Update with Norm McDonald" whenever I write a post about our weekend.) :)

This weekend was fantastic!!! It started off with a bang, because my sister Kelly had her second baby! Charlie Joseph was born early on Friday morning, a handsome, healthy, absolutely adorable baby. See for yourself:

They're all home now and doing really well. Charlie is incredibly precious, a perfect addition to our family, especially at Christmastime! We are all fighting over holding him already. :)

On Friday night my parents kept Eli so that Eric could take me out for my birthday. We ate at Blue Mesa, one of our favorites, and then went to see the Blind Side, which we loved. It was a fun, romantic evening out.

On Saturday we just enjoyed time here at home, wrapping presents, playing, and getting ready for the coming week. And then in the evening we watched the Cowboys beat the undefeated Saints! I think we all almost suffered heart attacks in that last quarter- it was so close!

Today we had our usual big Sunday breakfast, just the three of us, and then we went to church. Afterwards, Eli napped while Eric put together his rocking horse (Christmas present) and I finished wrapping all our gifts- finally! Wrapping is one of those things that always sounds fun to me in theory, but when I sit down to actually do it, I can't stand it. :) Tonight after Eli went to bed we watched National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, which, by our estimation, is perhaps one of the most quoted movies of all time. Classic.

We had a wonderful weekend and are super-excited about the coming week! I hope you guys are all doing really well, too!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Conviction from a Stranger

Today on my way home from work I stopped at Wal-Mart to buy just a couple things. I quickly grabbed what I needed and then proceeded to join a really long line of disgruntled customers at the "20 items or less" register. Everyone was in a bad mood. It was 5pm, the store was packed, the lines were long- you get the picture. I admit that I joined the disgruntled mood of everyone else in line at Wal-Mart.

I didn't say anything out loud, but in my head I was thinking, "Why does Wal-Mart have to be so packed? Who are all these people? Where are all the checkers? I hate shopping in Christmas crowds!" Bad, right?

The elderly couple in front of me was particularly upset. But amidst his loud grumbling, the man was interrupted by a tap on the shoulder from the woman who was the next customer in the line right beside us. "Sir, you're welcome to go in front of me!" the woman cheerfully told him. The man was caught totally offguard and kind of brushed her off, but I was so stunned by her random act of kindness. This woman was next in line! She had probably been waiting for at least 10 minutes. She had every right to pay for her items and leave. But instead? She reached out to the person next to her and sacrificed her right so that he would be a little happier.

As I walked out to my car a little later, I saw this same lady walking quickly across the parking lot toward an older gentleman who was struggling with his many bags. "Sir!" she called, "Do you need some help?"

Once again, I was stunned. Who this lady was, I have no idea. She has no clue that I saw either of these acts of kindness. She was not being kind to get any kind of recognition or admiration from anyone. But she, with her smile, cheerful attitude, and bold offers of sacrificial help to those around her, impacted me greatly.

What a jerk I am for standing around grumbling in my head as I stand in line at Wal-Mart! What huge opportunities I miss every day because I act just like "the world" acts in ordinary situations. I don't sieze chances to choose kindness and joy over tiredness and selfishness. I stand in Wal-Mart thinking that I deserve better than to be there, that I have some kind of right to faster service, shorter lines, happier shoppers all around me. Who am I to think this way? Wal-Mart (figuratively and literally speaking) should be the prime spot for me to show off Christ. Because, as I clearly saw today, it's the mundane, ordinary, every day experiences and places that offer believers the best chances to act in a way that is totally different from everyone else.

That lady, that stranger, brought so much conviction to me today. The next time I'm in Wal-Mart, I want to act like her. I have countless opportunities every day to bring glory to God and kindness to others in places as ordinary as Wal-Mart. I'm praying that I'll sieze them a little more often!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Remember the Alamo

We spent the better part of last week in San Antonio. I had a conference/seminar to go to for work, and Eric and Eli were able to come with me so we could make a little vacation out of the trip, too.

Eric and Eli spent the days tooling around town and taking naps at the hotel (jealous!) while I filled my brain with code and regulations regarding Safe Quality Food. After they picked me up from the conference, we'd spend our evenings eating out and just enjoying being together in a really nice hotel suite!

On Friday, since the conference was finished, we went to the Riverwalk. It was cold and misty, but we made the best of it, and Eli had a great time running up and down the sidewalks while we tried to keep him from falling in the water. We ate great Mexican food and discovered that there is only so far you can push a 19-month-old. After days of long car rides, late bedtimes, new surroundings, and shortened naps, Eli let us know on the way back to the hotel from the Riverwalk that he had had it. He sobbed his poor little eyes out for the entire ride home and then fell into a deep sleep that can only be rivaled by a coma. He never woke up in the transfer from car to hotel to pack-n-play. I felt terrible for how worn out he was!

But after a good long nap, he was as good as new, and we spent the evening with my long-time friend Amanda and her husband, James, who are newly expecting! (Congrats, guys!)

The next day, after purchasing a DVD player for the car and several annoying-to-parents-yet-entertaining-to-toddlers DVDs, we headed back to Dallas. We had such a great time and are so thankful to my company for making it possible! We were equally happy to be back home. Home is such a wonderful place to come back to. And now we've settled in to enjoying Christmastime together.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

This Just Makes Me Laugh

Eli's new favorite activity...

Sorry if this is boring. I'll admit that I'm a little biased. :)

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Christmas Tree Farm '09

On Saturday we went to the Walls Family Farm outside of Terrell to cut down our Christmas tree. I loooove this tradition. We did it every year when we were kids, and I love carrying this tradition over to our little family now as well. The farm is just picturesque- a big barn with a huge Christmas tree and homemade cookies and cider, riding in the back of a big tractor filled with hay, traipsing around a field full of pine trees, sawing one down all by ourselves, enjoying a fun experience with our dear friends (the Heinzs and the Vavras)... perfect, if you ask me!

Here we are on the hayride. Eli was completely enthralled with the tractor.

We wandered around for a while, letting Eli enjoy being in such a fun place (dirt, sticks, leaves...):

And then we found and cut down our Christmas tree!

It was the perfect way to kick off the Christmas season.