Christmas Back in Houston

After a long drive we were all glad to be home!  We got in around 1:00am on Friday morning and honestly Justin and I were dreading what we thought would be the early morning wake up call from the the two elves that rode in the back seat for 12 hours.  But Merry Christmas to us!  Eli slept until 9:30 and Beckett slept until 11:30! That means Justin and I both got a solid 8 hours and Friday was starting to look really good.

Last minute shopping and errands to run Justin and I decided the boys could use some time apart after the last 12 days of non stop togetherness so Justin took Beckett out and Eli and I headed out for groceries and a couple of last minute gifts.  My little helper was still very tired and after some delicious fries at the Sonic fell fast asleep on the way to our first stop! And yes, I was wearing the reindeer ears when he left home but he asked for them in the car.

Christmas Eve to me is such a special day. I am not sure if its because growing up Christmas Eve was always at Ma's house - and you know that was special and fun!  But I love it and we had a great time this Christmas Eve at our house.  After 12 days away and lots of craziness it was good to be together again just as 4.  Justin had some work to do (cutting down firewood in the woods by the house and scaring out neighbors.. but whatever) so the boys and I had a great morning together.  We colored special Christmas pages (Thanks Fryar's), ate candy from their first Pez dispensers, and played extra silly :-)

After getting the boys to bed, I got to work on my baking.  Some really yummy recipes.  I turned around to take a break and much to my surprise, someone had stopped in for a quick break!

The best and most favorite part of Christmas Eve for me is going to church.   Every year since we moved to Houston we have always gone to Houston's First Baptist (where we use to be members) with our friends The Galloway's.  This year, the plans fell through because Leah wasn't feeling well.  Without them on board we decided to break tradition and attend our new church were we have joined recently.  It was fantastic!  One of the best parts was the boys class met also (honestly, was kinda dreading having to deal with them in the actual service at Houston First) and not only was it candlelight but communion also.  It was pouring down rain and we  were late but we made it!  I was so moved by the service.  Our pastor did an amazing job with the sermon I thought.  Here it is if you have time to watch. 

 Christmas Eve 2011 | Sermons | Faithbridge

We were getting ready to take communion and I got a text from Poppy saying they were going to take communion too.  One of the things that struck me about this was that even though we were miles apart, not physically together on Christmas Eve, we were joined together as a family at the Lord's table.  What a great family legacy.  As I held Justin's hand I just thanked the Lord for His goodness in sending me a strong Christian husband that made traditions in our family as well and is so instrumental and crucial in raising our boys.  We sang O Holy Night.  I have heard the song a thousand times.  I have sang it a thousand more.  But for some reason I was so moved by the Holy Spirit during the version we sang at church.  The worship pastor's voice is very alternative sounding.  And his new rock voice with this classic Christian song just connected in a way that moved me to tears.  

O Holy Night! The stars are brightly shining,
It is the night of the dear Saviour's birth.
Long lay the world in sin and error pining.
Till He appeared and the Spirit felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
Fall on your knees! Oh, hear the angel voices!
O night divine, the night when Christ was born;
O night, O Holy Night , O night divine!
O night, O Holy Night , O night divine!

Led by the light of faith serenely beaming,
With glowing hearts by His cradle we stand.
O'er the world a star is sweetly gleaming,
Now come the wisemen from out of the Orient land.
The King of kings lay thus lowly manger;
In all our trials born to be our friends.
He knows our need, our weakness is no stranger,
Behold your King! Before him lowly bend!
Behold your King! Before him lowly bend!

Truly He taught us to love one another,
His law is love and His gospel is peace.
Chains he shall break, for the slave is our brother.
And in his name all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
With all our hearts we praise His holy name.
Christ is the Lord! Then ever, ever praise we,
His power and glory ever more proclaim!
His power and glory ever more proclaim!

To think about the world prior to that night.  The darkness, the lack of hope, the searching.  The rejoicing!  The truly bittersweet moment of His birth by Mary.  Did she fully understand what was to come?  As a mother, thinking about sacrificing one of my son's for the world.  Breaks my heart and fills me with such amazement that God loves us that much.  I love the last verse "truly He taught us to love one another. His law is love and His gospel is peace" With all my heart, I certainly praise His name.  

The boys had a great time in their classroom.  They really have the sweetest teacher.  Look at Beckett's baby Jesus craft.

After we got home, we got in our way to cute new Christmas pajamas that are Ma gave us and got ready to decorate our cupcakes  for Jesus birthday tomorrow.  This might have been the highlight on my Christmas.  Beckett took the job really seriously and piled his cupcakes high with goodies.  Eli took the job really seriously and ate the cupcakes and the toppings :-)  While we worked we talked again about the baby Jesus and what happened on that Christmas night and how we celebrate with Santa coming.

Happy Birthday Jesus
As we got ready for bed, Justin read a book he "got" from his dad. A Cajun Christmas story.  It was terrible :-)  But he redeemed himself by following it up with some time in the chair with daddy, their milk and this amazing youtube video that he found.  They watched it over and over and over again.  Me too.  We even watched it again today. I love the simplicity of the children.  The star is my favorite.  Love love love. 

And of course the annual self timed family photo!  Merry Christmas Eve from The Riley's!

After night night, Santa's elves were hard at work preparing for his arrival.  After a super late bedtime we were both hoping for a late rising by our 2 little ones.  Beckett woke up at 8:30 and we just decided to wake Eli up at 9:00 to get the fun started.  After a little milk and diaper change we were ready for the hallway photo.  Here is how happy they were about this photo last year!

And here are this year's results!! A little better!

That is my classic Eli face right there. Those eyes.  Imp.
And off to discover if Santa came.. and of course he did. 

The LOVED their trampoline, their race track, their trucks and goodies.  

We had to pause for a little boy Christmas breakfast.  What did they want?  Cheerios and strawberries.  Easy enough but required Beckett to need to take off his soaking wet shirt to get back to work opening stockings.

After a crazy morning the house was in shambles!  My sweet Eli helped his mommy clean it up.  Good boy.

And for the rest of the day we did what makes Christmas really great!  Enjoyed each other, played with our new toys, napped, and relaxed.  I even got a nice long hot bath and got to read some of my new book.  What a treat!  Justin cooked us an amazing Christmas dinner. Smoked turkey, sweet potatoes, bacon wrapped green beans, and a new favorite.. rice dressing with oysters.  It was amazing!

With full tummies and happy hearts, we had a little celebration for the baby Jesus.  Sang happy birthday and blew out the candles.  What a special tradition for our family.

Another successful Christmas on the books.  A holiday filled with joy, laughter, friendship, family, tears, emotions, and all the love and glow of Christ's birth.  There wasn't a moment that passed that I didn't praise God for my blessings.  My friend Morgan had on her facebook "Count your blessings, not your presents" and on this Christmas I did just that.  Merry Christmas! 


The Riley's

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