Mr. Howard had Christmas Eve off. I honestly can't tell you the last time that has happened. It was amazing!!! There are so many things I love about his new job, but the thing I love the most is that they constantly talk about (and follow up with action) work life balance. I am thankful that he got Christmas Eve and Christmas Day off. It was such a blessing.
I think I've mentioned this before, but Isabella is so clingy whenever we're around people (be it family, friends, or strangers). If anyone is around, she is in my arms or Mr. Howard's arms. I wanted a cuddler and boy did I get one!! She LOVES to be held and rocked and cuddled!
We tried getting a family photo, but Connor wanted no part in it (see him hanging off the couch) and Isabella wanted to have a funny little chat with her brother. Apparently, he thinks she's quite funny.
As always, the hubby and I took a self picture!
We host Christmas Eve dinner and Mr. Howard (Senior)'s birthday and I try to come up with a cute dessert every year. Last year I did those Santa Claus strawberries, but this year I wanted to do cupcakes. I found these North Pole Cupcakes on pinterest and they were super easy!
I used Hot Chocolate Cupcake Mix (I got a box at Target), and then used a cream cheese white frosting. I topped them with white sugar sprinkles (for snow), a candy cane (I just broke them all at the right height and then stuck the broken side down into the cupcake), and a red m&m on the top (stuck with some frosting). I downloaded free printables from THIS site.
Connor said he wanted to be in a picture with me (when he saw me taking one with the cupcakes), but what I think he meant was, "Will you lift me up in your arms so I can get a better view of the cupcakes I've been asking for all night?.
Isabella reached for my sister and made her night!
I think I mentioned this last year, but I have a friend who hosts a tamale party. She makes traditional tamales and orders 10 pound bags of masa. This year I made four dozen. Once they are made, they are so easy to cook (they only take about 2 hours of steaming and I can cook them all at once in the giant pan Mr. Howard got me a few years ago!)
This year we made a 7 layer dip to go with the rice and tamales. I learned a little pinterest trick this year for my seven layer dip too. We added taco seasoning to the layer with beans. Mmm. It gave the dip such great flavor.
We tried getting a family picture at the end of the night and apparently Nova wanted in. Do you see Connor's face? Oh my goodness; he thinks that dog is just the most amazing family member ever!
And we tried again. This time Nova stayed out, but Connor was still in hysterics about her joining us. Oh goodness..I just love my little family.
I completely forgot to get a picture of the rest of the family! Eeek. But my sister, brother, mom, dad, and Mr. Howard's mom and dad all joined us!
I wore Cole's footprint on my neck (you can see it on the picture with me and Connor or me and the cupcakes). He is never very far from our thoughts on normal days, but especially momentous special days like Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. He would have been just over two-years-old and I'm sure he would have been into cars and running around and opening presents. He would have added such laughter and happy chaos into our lives. I am, however, certain he was having such a wonderful celebration of his own in Heaven. I pray my Aunt cuddled him for me and gave him lots of kisses. I miss them both so much.