Friday, March 31, 2017

the busy-slow months

With only moments of 2016 remaining, Olivia wrapped up the year in a fun way...with a soccer tournament! The 3v3 tournament is a New Years tradition. The girls play in it every year. Olivia's team did well this year, coming in 2nd place in their division. It was a fun day and a great way to ring in the New Year!

The girls enjoyed their time off of school during Christmas break, but time was running out. Olivia headed back to school a few days before Cecilia, which meant that Cece got to enjoy a special day with Nana before heading back. Their special day consisted of shopping, lunch at McDonald's and a trip to the ice cream shop (of course!). It was the perfect way to wrap up a great holiday break.

Just because it's cold outside doesn't mean that soccer slows down in the winter. Olivia practices indoor with her travel team, while also continuing to play Futsal, This particular session of Futsal ended pretty well for Olivia...with her scoring the winning goal for her team! That goal helped them win their little mini-tournament and wrap up the session. The best part of it was how proud she was of herself. She loves soccer, but she often doubts her ability. These little boosts of confidence are exactly what my ten year old can use at this stage of her life. 

When not running Olivia to soccer we are doing whatever we can to keep Cecilia occupied through the winter. One chilly Sunday we decided the best way to pass some time was with a nice, long, warm bath. This girl loves a good bath. She can stay in there until she's wrinkled and shriveled, loving every second!

In January the girls and I had the chance to take a mommy-daughter yoga class. It was more targeted towards Cece's age, but Olivia wanted to come along as well. One of my girlfriends recently received her yoga certification and wanted to start a class for kids. We were her guinea pigs. It was a fun little thing for us to do together and a great way to introduce Cece to more Yoga.

The winter months can drag on and on, but not when you have soccer to keep you busy. This tournament was out of town so we decided to make it a girls road trip with Olivia's friend Aleah and my dear friend, Lesley. The girls' games were all on Sunday, but very early so we went down the night before. That gave some of the girls from the team time to swim at the hotel before getting a good night's sleep!

The girls had 3 games pretty close together, so when they had a moment to rest they did just that. The games were tough, but they played their hearts out. They may not win them all, but you can definitely see them improving as a team which is so great to watch!

The girls were a bit disappointed by the outcome of the games, but the agony of defeat was quickly forgotten when we mentioned that we would be visiting the candy store on the way home. We spotted this fun candy factory on the drive down and promised to make a stop on the way back. What a cool place! So many yummy treats...the girls were in heaven! We left with lots of goodies. It was the perfect way to wrap up a fun soccer weekend!

The soccer fun continued throughout January with a super cool opportunity. Olivia attended a clinic hosted by one of our home town pros...Sarah Killion! She put together a 4 week clinic to teach the girls some great skills, but the week after it started she was called up so she missed two of the weeks. The facility brought in another pro to fill in for her, which was still pretty cool. Sarah made it back for the final week and wrapped up the clinic on a high note. Olivia really looks up to Sarah and has learned so much from her.

As we headed into February you would never know it was still the middle of winter. We had a few unseasonable warm days during the month, which were very unexpected, but also very welcomed. One of the days, while Olivia and I were busy Todd took Cece to a huge playground nearby. She was so thrilled to be outdoors running around. It was just what she needed to keep from going stir crazy!

Helping to break up a usually slow month is Valentine's Day...a holiday that we tend to celebrate solely on the kids behalf. Hard not to be excited about a holiday that is full of hearts and all things red! The day consisted of an heart-shaped pancake breakfast, cookie decorating at Nana's, and of course Valentine's goodies! It's hard not to shower these two cuties with tons of love on Valentine's Day because my heart is just overflowing with love for both of them!

It's hard to believe that Olivia is 2/3 of the way through her 4th grade year! She loves her new school and has had some pretty awesome experiences throughout the year. Lots of field trips, special events and trying things for the first time The month of February was full of even more cool events. First was the Dad's breakfast. The school put out quite the spread and filled the cafeteria with Dads. Olivia and Todd had a great time!

Later in the month was the annual Sock Hop. This was her first time attending the 50's themed dance and she was so excited! She got dolled up in her poodle skirt and high pony tail and spent the evening running around the school gym with her pals. She has had so many new experience at this school this year, and has created some amazing memories with her friends!

The thing that occupied most of our time during the month was preparing for the science fair. Fourth graders are required to participate, and I think the expectations of the students are pretty high. This was new territory for Olivia and for me. First she had to pick her project topic. After some research we settled on, "How Greasy Are Your Potato Chips?" With some assistance from me she performed the experiment, recorded her results and drew her own conclusions. When all was said and done she was pretty proud of her finished product, and her hard work paid off. She received a special judges award for her presentation and display. It was a learning experience for both of us and a glimpse into the challenging school work that lies ahead for Olivia!

Cece has been having a productive year in Kindergarten as well. She has been working very hard on her reading, writing and math skills. I get regular updates from her teacher, Ms.Beth which make me so proud. On one day in particular I received a text message from Ms. Beth showing me a huge math work that Cecilia had just completed. It was so big that she had to complete it in the hallway. Her sense of accomplishment can clearly be seen on her face. Makes my heart happy!

Cecilia has had some new experiences this school year as bowling! She tied on bowling shoes for the first time ever during her school's annual Bowl-a-Thon. She was super excited for this event and for a field trip to the bowling alley during the school day! She and her friends may have needed the bumpers up and a slider to help the ball roll down the alley, but she still managed to knock down quite a few pins! Her first bowling experience was a success not only for her, but as a fundraiser for her school. 

So despite the doldrums of winter we still managed to stay busy and have some fun! I think we enjoy the running around with our hectic schedules. Not sure what we would do with ourselves otherwise!

Monday, February 13, 2017

Christmas time

Christmas was only a few weeks away so it was time to squeeze in as many holiday traditions as possible. We tried something new this year that we thought the girls would enjoy. We took them for a ride on the Santa Train!

The old fashioned train car takes you for a short ride down the tracks while visiting with Santa. It was a cool experience since the girls had never been on a train before. They learned a little bit about trains while getting another chance to tell Santa what they hope to get for Christmas.

What better way to get into the holiday spirit than a little snow? We got our first decent snow fall in December and the girls couldn't wait to get out and play. Beasley even got in on the action. I think he may have had more fun in the snow than the kids! I'm glad we got some snow in December, because we haven't really had much since.

To celebrate the holiday season Cece's classroom held a little party for the kids and parents. Cece loves a chance to show us what she does at school, and she loves running around with her little friends. She has really come into her own this year and has become much more confident in her abilities. It's hard to believe that she is more than half way through her Kindergarten year!

There is probably nothing we look forward to more each year than our "official" visit with Santa. We always pick a night for the girls to put on their Christmas dresses to visit with Santa and get our annual picture. We go to the same place each year so we often get the same Santa. He was super friendly and made a cautious Cece feel very comfortable. She was happy to sit on his lap, but was a little shy about sharing her Christmas wishes. Big sister helped to relay that message.

In between all of our fun holiday fun Cecilia got to attend a super friend birthday party at Build-A-Bear for her friend Avery. Cece loves this store, so when she found out that she was going to a party there and was going to get to make her own bear she lost her mind!

Cece chose to make an Elsa bear and even got to dress her in an official Elsa dress. She was in heaven! She had the best time with Avery and the other kids and declared this the best birthday party she had ever attended! The Elsa bear has been by her side ever since.

Christmas break means time off of school, which means special days with Nana. She has certain things she likes to do with them each year like visit the holiday village at one of our local hospitals. It is set up like a seek and find. There is a list and you try to find everything on the list throughout the village. It's a challenge! And of course there is cookie decorating. My Mom makes her sugar cookies each year and the girls look forward to decorating their own. They took this activity pretty seriously and the results were fabulous...and tasty!

Another advantage to Christmas break is that Cecilia gets to spend more time with her babysitter, Holly. Since she is in school full day she only sees Holly for a few hours each day. She was really looking forward to spending some full days with Holly and her friends during the break. One of the days was extra special as she got Holly all to herself. They did some shopping, went out for lunch, crafted and of course left time for cuddles. It was Cece's perfect day!

Olivia kept busy during the break as well. One of her highlights was attending the Beasley soccer camp with a few of her soccer buddies. Demarcus Beasley is a local professional soccer star and he hosted a 3 day camp over the holidays. It was an amazing opportunity for the kids to be able to learn directly from a pro. They had a great time and learned a bunch!

Christmas was only days away and it was time to start celebrating. We kicked off the holiday weekend with beer tasting party. Some family friends hold this party annually and we were excited to attend again this year. The girls were excited to return so they could see Winston. Winston is their puppy with the most unforgettable face. He may be goofy looking, but he is super sweet and the girls just love him!

After weeks of anticipation Christmas Eve finally arrived! The girls were bursting with excitement! Each year we attend the children's service at our church on Christmas Eve. It's such a fun service for the kids and we always participate as a family. For the past few years Olivia has done a reading and we help to bring up part of the nativity. My favorite part? Seeing the girls in their beautiful Christmas dresses!

After church we usually head to my Mom's to open stockings and a few little gifts. Christmas Day is so full of presents that it is nice to spread things out a bit. We have appetizers for dinner, throw on a Christmas movie and prepare for Santa!

The girls each took turns opening their stockings, and then Cecilia took her time opening all the little gifties in our stockings as well. She just loves opening gifts, even if they aren't hers. It may not officially be Christmas yet, but you would guess it was by the joy in their eyes!

After a fun night it was time for the little ones to rest their heads and hope that Santa and his reindeer make his way to our house. We are fortunate that our girls are not super early risers on Christmas morning, but when they do wake up they are beyond excited to head downstairs to see if Santa made an appearance.

Success! They were ecstatic to see that Santa granted their wishes. Cece wanted Troll toys and Olivia wanted Panda bedding. Pretty simple requests...thank goodness! Their smiles were priceless! There is nothing quite like Christmas morning.

Next we moved onto our family gifts. We kept things simple, like we have for the past few years. The girls get so many gifts from both grandmas that it seems silly for us to spoil them as well. They each had a few things they really wanted, and that is what we stuck to. Olivia desperately wanted a Dash Robot. This is something she discovered at her school that she instantly fell in love with. It's a small robot that you can program to do certain things through coding. It was the perfect gift for her.

Cece's request was even simpler. She wanted a basket full of blind bags. What are blind bags, you ask? They are little bags that contain little toys. The trick is that you never know what is inside, so you never know exactly what toy you are going to get until you open the bag. She loves the suspense of opening these bags, only to discover what's inside. Along with a few other gifts Cece was completely content with her goodies!

Next it was onto Nana's for Christmas #2!. I prepared myself for the fact that Nana was going to spoil the girls. It's what she does every year. There were more presents than you can imagine, and of course they were above the moon. Nana enjoys every second of seeing the joy in their eyes!

It was a morning full of wrapping paper, gift bags, tissue paper and awesome gifts! It was a lovely Christmas morning which turned into a relaxing Christmas afternoon. We had two very happy little girls with more than enough gifts to keep them occupied. Blessed is an understatement, and we make sure they know it!

Our final stop on a busy Christmas Day was to Todd's Mom's. As if the girls had not received enough gifts already, it was time for round 3. Olivia's day continued to get better with each panda gift she received. Her grandmother gave her the biggest Panda gift to date...a huge stuffed Panda. She was speechless! 

Our Christmas holiday was a magical time. Watching the joy in my girls' eyes was the only gift I needed. My girls are growing quickly so I am enjoying these times while I can. 2016 was an interesting year. I am ready close the book and see what 2017 has in store for us.