Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Welcome December

Me: "Andrew, did you just hear the words in this song?  They said, I saw Momma kissing Santa Claus!  Gross!"

Andrew: "Wat (that)
is gwross, Mom."

Me: "Yep, it would be scratchy to kiss Santa, because he has such a big beard and a moustache."

Andrew: "Oh no, Mom.  Wanta's (Santa's) beard isn't watchy (scratchy), it's wery (very), wery (very) woft (soft)."

Me: "It is?!"

Andrew: "Wep (yep), Wanta's (Santa's) beard is woft (soft) because it is made out of cotton candy, Mom."


Oh, how I love the month of December.

I love conversations like the one above.  I love the afterglow of wonderful memories made during Thanksgiving.  I love dusting off the Christmas decoration Rubbermaid totes in the basement and  I love it when Brandon drags our (way too big) 9 foot tree from the basement.  I love twinkling lights.  I love fake reindeer in the yard.  I love lit trees on the door step.

 I love making our gingerbread village.  I love watching Christmas movies.  I love cold winter nights, with the fireplace heating up the house.  I love making Christmas cookies.  I love the cheesy Christmas singing stuffed animals that my kids play over and over and over. 

I love the plastic candy canes that quickly become swords in our house.  I love our Elf on the Shelf, Sammy who brings Lego advent calendars every year.  I love ordering and addressing Christmas cards.  I love listening to Christmas music.  I love checking gifts off of my list...and I love wrapping and the excitement around each one.

As you all know, this is a pretty intense moment in our lives....a moment where decisions must be made, kids are keeping us busy, and life is almost too fast to keep up with, but somehow, during this month of December, all of that is pushed to the side. 

The busy and rushed moments that consume us are forgotten. 

 The magic of Christmas is upon us.

December, I welcome you with open arms.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

this is four

Caught somewhere between adorable and handsome, I think this guy is probably the cutest four year old ever.  EVER.

It seems every day that someone comments on his hair.  Oh, those curls....Andrew loves those curls.

He is sweet, polite, kind, and smart.

He is a LOUD talker...just like his dad.

He has opinions.

His mind is precious and full of stories and make-believe and facts.

He loves his brother, Parter.

He loves school and friends and his family.

He loves baby Olivia and baby Reese....his Cooper and Cameron...and his Morgan and Avery.

He loves his grandparents, and those grandpas...well, they seem to have a special place in his heart.

He loves his aunts and uncles...even though he shies away from them when they try to give him loves.

He loves stories.

And toast.

And making lemonade.

And not wearing a shirt.

And chocolate donuts.

And strawberries.

And pizza.

And chocolate milk.

And 'dropping booty'. {don't ask}

And being silly and sword fights and jumping on the trampoline and wrestling and running {fast like Flash} and basketball and the Royals and playing soccer and giggling and jumping on furniture...pretty much jumping on anything.

He loves his dad...especially when he does one of the things mentioned above with him.

He loves his mom and says things like, "mom, I need you" and, "hold me, mom" and, "I wuv you, mom"...all of which make my heart melt.

He loves being outside.

He loves his Bella girl and he tells her how much every day.  Every morning as we leave the house he tells her, "Bewwa, you're in charge now.  You be a dood dirl."  Love.

He likes to watch anything with super heros.  He loves robots.  He loves reading.

My little-man is so full of life and energy that just looking at his thoughtful eyes, makes me smile.

This is four.

I love four.

Happy birthday to my spunky guy!  I can't wait to see what this year brings!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Playing Catch Up

What a fall we are having, my friends!

From preschool, to Cub Scouts, to football and soccer, an anniversary trip, a new job, a fun Halloween...and those amazing Royals, we haven't had much time to sit and reflect on what's been goin' on at the Riffel house.

Here's the condensed version.

Andrew is absolutely loving his preschool days!  He loves singing, playing outside, seeing his buddies, eating snack, taking snack, sharing time, and talking about the weather...and when you ask him what his favorite part of preschool is, he will tell you all about his three best buddies!  He is soaking it all up.  It makes this momma heart proud to see his sweet personality shining through at school.

I love these four friends!

At Trunk or of the best photos I have this year of both my boys in their costumes!

 And, he is LOVING speech class.  We go every Tuesday and Thursday after school and I sit outside the cubicle and listen to Andrew and his speech friend work on their sssss sounds.  He can say Sssspider-man just perfect!  They play games, laugh, get stickers and have such a fun time with Miss Sssssara!

Something else Andrew loves...his baby cousin, Olivia!  Oh man, does Andrew love this girl.  He gets the biggest grin on his face whenever he sees her {he also gets this way around his cousin, Reese...something about being the oldest, makes this guy extra caring}!

Andrew and Olivia...she's thinking, "Who is this  kid with no shirt on?!" Lol!

Parker is an awesome first grader.  He is excelling in every part of first grade.  Just today he told me that he was awarded the honor of being Athlete of the Week in PE class {he said he was the first, first grader to get this achievement this year!}.   He loves math, reading, art, computers, science, recess, lunch, and seeing his friends every day.  He doesn't love homework all that much, but we're workin' on it. Ha!

Parker is also loving Cub Scouts.  He even loves the meetings.  He loves getting badges, had fun on their first camp out, likes the 'field trips', and it is something that he looks forward to every week.  He even loved walking in the Veteran's Day Parade this past weekend.

Getting ready to walk through downtown Ottawa.
Parker is also loving sports this year.  He went from a kid who never wanted to go to practice, to being a guy that loves to play, watch, and learn about every sport out there.  He's even started quite a baseball card collection and he was so so so excited to get a George Brett baseball card for his birthday {thanks Grandpa Mike} and we were super excited to watch the Royals play in their post season games and the World Series!

We wrapped up another successful season of soccer...

And played Flag Football for the first time!

Brandon and Parker got to go to a Royals post-season game and had the time of their lives!
This is such a special time in Parker's life - a time when his personality and his interests are really taking shape and I am so thankful that he is 'in to' so many different things.

And....Brandon and, we've had quite a time these past couple of months.  From Brandon's new job to celebrating 10 years of marriage, we are certainly feeling very blessed!

Half Moon Bay, CA
To all of you out there who have wished us well {thank you!} and asked us what the future holds...we are still 100% unsure at this point! Ha!  It's been so hard for my super duper planning personality to just go with the flow and see what happens, but only time will tell what the future holds for the Riffel family and I can't wait to see how our story turns out!

And, because I probably won't have time to post anything between now and the upcoming holiday, I want to wish you all the very best this Thanksgiving.  Take time to be thankful -- There are so many reasons to be.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

This is a Game Changer

As my older sister so perfectly put it when I told her this news...."Well, Riffel family, this is a game changer."  And she's right.  With this wonderful change in our lives, comes many things that could change {or stay the same} and many decisions with choices that are beyond my scope of thought right now.

You see, Brandon got his dream job the other day.

It's simply perfect for him and for our family.

He is now the Chief Operating Technology Officer for his hometown school district (De Soto).

Ever since Brandon was in grade school, he's been helping out this school district with his computer knowledge...and there are many people there who have taught him a thing or two.  Both of his parents taught there for many, many years.  It's where he grew up.  And, it's an awesome opportunity.  We are beyond excited! {To say the least.}

And, even though it is a huge 'game changer' for our family, right now, we are just soaking it all in.

We can't wait for what the future holds!

{This is the BEST Brooketober EVER, my friends!}

So proud of this man {and the little guy, too}!

Friday, October 3, 2014

happy brooketober

It's here....

And, even though it's only the third day, we've had quite a start to this month.

With much more to come!

In fact, this may turn out to the be the best Brooketober yet...

Stay tuned.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Lucky Number Seven

Seven has always been my favorite number.

Six boys and an hour car ride....I hope I never do it again. Lol!

And, for the past two Saturdays, we celebrated my P-Man's 7th birthday.

Look at how grown up this guy looks.  I just can't believe it sometimes.
First up, a visit to Lego Land with some of his best buds from school {and his brother}.

They were so so so excited!
Man, I love these kiddos.

Best buds.

They are the sweetest boys ever and I'm so glad they could all be with my Parker to celebrate his birthday!
My favorite.

I love this photo because in the background, Brandon is making sure all of the boys have his cell phone number in their case they get lost.  We were so worried about loosing these boys!

Love them.
This is Parker's 'Touchdown!' face.

Getting ready to leave.  They were all tuckered out!

Lunch at the Crayola Restaurant...Parker's favorite at Crown Center.
Happy birthday, Parker!
Best buddies.
Was I blowing out candles?!  Ha ha.
One of Parker's buddies gave him battleship....we've played it every day since then.
Lights out boys!

Then, we had a family day!  Parker had so much fun with his grandmas and grandpas, cousins, aunts and uncles, and brother....we were so excited for Parker's big day and it was everything it could be!  Here's the story of Parker's 7th  birthday, in photos.

Before Parker woke up that morning...

Opening gifts from us!


These boys love Legos!  Parker had asked for a 'big' set.
Parker's first 'real' football.
Posing with his football.
Parker is totally in to Pokemon my dismay.  But, he asked for them and got more than enough at his family party!  He loves them.

Look at this handsome man.  Wow!  He looks old here.

Parker had also asked for birds for his birthday.  He didn't get them that morning, but to his surprise, we went with Grandma Robbie after his soccer game and got the birds!  Oh, how we love Bob and Andrew Jr.  They are the perfect addition to our family.  They really are sweet birds...


Playing football...

And more football...

And more football.


I love our families.  I love it that they all come together to celebrate with us and we all fit together so nicely.  Reese loves Olivia!

Pizza on the deck.

Aunt Kasey and Olivia.

Iron Man {Avery} even made it to the party!

And the costumes didn't stop we have a strange wolverine, spider man, explorer, nerd...and Super Andrew! {I think Reese was worried about Morgan!

Grandpa Mike gave Parker some pretty special baseball cards...George Brett and Frank White.  They are now his most prized possessions!

Parker looks so excited about his cupcakes. Lol!

It takes a lot of wind to blow out seven candles!

Reese enjoyed the frosting...

As did Andrew!

We had a great day and always love having our families together to play at our house!

As the boys get older {and as the toys in our family room seem to be multiplying at faster speeds}, I want to add something more meaningful to their birthdays.  This year, I decided to try it with Parker.

A couple of months before Parker's birthday, I asked him if it would be okay to ask his friends and family to bring gifts for Prairie Paws Animal Shelter in lieu of gifts for him {knowing that his dad and I would make sure he was still given plenty of what he wanted for his birthday}.  He was all for it and acted excited about the idea of 'presents' for the animals at the shelter.

Fast forward to the week before his birthday, when I reminded him of this fact, and you would have thought I'd told my little man that I was going to cancel his birthday!  My first mistake was reminding him of this right before bed time...and his response....I don't even want to share it with you.  But, as the days went on, I kept reminding him that I was sure his grandparents and cousins would not show up empty handed and that his dad and I knew just what he wanted for his birthday...and that he didn't need to worry about presents.  {I also reminded him to take a look around the family room at all of the things he owned already.}

And, as the pile of dog and cat presents started to grow {and take over our living room}, I think Parker started to get pretty excited about it.  Parker's friends and our family members are so generous.  We took so much out to the shelter and they were excited when we made, not one, not two, but four trips in and out to the truck to bring in all of the goods.  Their response made Parker smile from ear to ear and I could tell that something clicked with Parker that day....there are so many organizations and people {and animals} that need things way more than we do.

I think it's okay if our friends and family 'go easy' on the gifts for the kiddos and bring something substantial for an organization in need.  Not only does it help out, but it teaches our kids that they can make a difference in a life, just by having a birthday. {Although, in our house, it's never 'just a birthday'!}

Parker had a 7th birthday that is going to go down in the history books.  We loved every second celebrating our big guy and can't wait for what this year has in store for him!