Tuesday, March 06, 2018

bring on Christmas!

We were in full holiday mode, with tons of things to do and check off our list before Christmas Day! One of our more recent traditions include an annual sleepover at Uncle VJ and Aunt Chris's. This came about a few years ago when they decided that instead of trying to find gifts for the girls for Christmas they would have them over for a night of full holiday fun! So along with some cousins, second cousins and friends they prepared for a crazy night!

This year VJ and Chris got the girls their own Christmas jammies! Once everyone was all cozy things kicked off with cookie decorating, followed by necklace making. But there was plenty of laughs and silliness taking place as well. I can only imagine the noise level that was reached with a house full of little girls. The girls receive more than enough presents over the holidays, so having this special night at their Aunt and Uncle's house is not only special, but something they always remember.

Making sure we make our official Santa visit is something we always make a priority. This year was a bit challenging but we made it. The first time our plans were thwarted by bad weather. After getting the girls all dressed up in their fancy Christmas dresses, we decided against trying to drive across town on the icy roads. The second time around was much easier, and we succeeded in getting our annual Santa photo...and passing along their Christmas wishes to the big guy!

Last year we did something new with the girls, taking them on the Santa Train. It's a quick ride on a real locomotive while having a visit with Santa. It was something different and the girls enjoyed it. You have to get your tickets early because it sells out for the holiday season very quick. This year Olivia was busy during the only time we could get tickets, so just Cecilia and I went. It's a fun experience and cool to ride on a real train!

In between all of our fun holiday activities Cecilia celebrated her best friend, Avery's birthday! Avery's sister, Audrey dances with Olivia and they are good friends as well. There is a little bit of a an age difference between Cece and Avery but they still get on very well and have lots of fun together when they hang out. Avery had a small birthday celebration at home with Cece and another close friend. Anytime these girls get together they always have a great time!

After weeks of anticipation the time was finally here! It was Christmas Eve and the girls were bursting with excitement. We kicked things off with the annual children's service at our church. Olivia was asked to read once again this year and she did a wonderful job. The girls really enjoy this service because they get to participate and they are familiar with the songs we sing. 

Our after-church tradition is to head over to Nana's so the girls can open their stockings and we can enjoy some appetizers and wine! Cece barely walked in the door before she was begging to get into her stocking. In addition to tearing through all of her goodies she also wanted to open all of ours as well, except for Olivia's, of course. After the stockings they were each able to open one special present before heading home to get ready for Santa! This is one night I do not have to beg them to leave Nana's house.

The next morning they couldn't get downstairs fast enough to kick off their favorite day of the entire year! Santa must have been listening because he granted their simple Christmas wishes. Olivia asked for a Panda iPad case and Cecilia wanted two Disney princess dolls to add to her collection. I had a feeling Santa would come through as those were pretty reasonable requests.

Next we gathered around our tree to open our family gifts. For me, there is nothing I really need for Christmas except to watch the joy and excitement in my girls eyes as they enjoy this special day. Many wishes were granted and more Christmas memories created! It was only 9am and our day was just getting started!

It was back to Nana's mid morning for round two of Christmas. After a late breakfast the girls dove into a pile of presents sky high. Each and every present brought them so much joy and we made a point to remind them of just how blessed they are. Once all of the presents were opened the playing began, which is the best part of it all!

Later that day Beasley joined us at Nana's. All of the present opening is a bit too hectic for our pup, so we waited until it was over before celebrating Christmas with the Beaz. The rest of our afternoon was spent relaxing and just spending time together. That is better than all of the presents in the world!

Our Christmas Day wasn't over quite yet. That evening we headed over to Todd's Mom's and the present opening continued. This celebration is a little different as Todd's family is much bigger than mine. The girls always look forward to this though because they get to hang out with their cousins and extended family. It's pure chaos, but fun chaos!

That night when we returned home we were beat! Christmas Day always proves to be exhausting, but full of so many great moments. After spending the entire day with family we wrap up the day with just the four of us opening our family stockings on the family room floor. Afterwards we tuck the girls into bed and count our blessings for being able to share another wonderful Christmas together.

After all of the preparation and anticipation it's over just like that. But that's ok, because a new year is just around the corner, which means another wonderful year watching Olivia and Cecilia grow!

Saturday, January 20, 2018

favorite fall festivities

Throughout October Cecilia was working to recover from her ankle injury. Having a six year old with a broken ankle definitely causes a shift in daily activities. She was instructed to avoid putting any weight on it for the first few weeks. That is not a rule a six year old wants to follow. After the cast came off she was given a walking boot and that made life much easier for our girl. It took a week or so for her to feel comfortable putting weight on her foot again, but she was cruising around in that boot in no time. Since she was able to move around on her own again we wanted to be sure to squeeze in some of our favorite Fall traditions. Last year we took the girls to a corn maze/pumpkin patch that they really enjoyed and Cecilia couldn't wait to go back. Olivia was busy that day but Cecilia was excited to be enjoying some freedom from the cast!

The corn maze was full of Halloween blow-ups that you had to try and find and check off your list. The walking got to be a bit much for Cece in the boot so we ended up carrying her through most of it. It was an extremely warm day for mid-October, but no complaints here. We were just happy to be running around without big coats on while enjoying some sunshine. Even more...we were thrilled that Cecilia was on the track to a full recovery!

Another activity we were glad Cecilia could enjoy while injured was the Zoo Halloween. The girls look forward to this event every year. This year the walking boot was the main accessory of Cecilia's Super Girl costume! No winter coats covering up their cute Halloween costumes, as the weather was still unseasonably warm. It's always more fun being able to show off your costume! My Pink Lady and mini-super girl had a great time collecting their treats and enjoying the zoo's decorations. Their pumpkin creations were pretty impressive!

By the time Halloween rolled around Cecilia's ankle had improved greatly. She was able to walk around most of the night in her boot, which made trick or treating so much easier! We celebrated the holiday with The Douglass Family once again. It has become a tradition for our kids to trick or treat together. This year we had quite the group of misfits. The Pink Lady, a Veterinarian, a Green Blob and T-Rex. As you can imagine our group turned quite a few heads!

It was chilly evening, but not freezing which was a relief. That meant we were able to walk around for quite awhile, which equals tons of candy for the kids! These guys are pros at collecting candy! You should have seen their bags at the end of the night. It was another fun Halloween with the Douglasses!

With Halloween over we immediately switched gears and prepared for Olivia's birthday! It was a fun weekend of celebrating our girl turning 11! We kicked things off with our annual dinner at Takaoka. The girls look forward to this birthday tradition and we look forward to sharing it with them.

Todd's Mom is kind enough to treat the girls to this fun tradition on their birthdays and it's one of the highlights of their birthday celebrations. They love getting dressed up, they love the restaurant and of course they love the show! The food is amazing and we leave feeling stuffed beyond belief. Cecilia leaves with a belly full of white rice. Her idea of good food is slightly different than the rest of us. The best part of this tradition is that we get to celebrate their birthdays with family and make lots of wonderful memories!

The next day Olivia had a joint birthday party with her friend Maggie. Maggie is one of her dance friends that has a birthday within days of Olivia. They decided to celebrate together and invite all of their dance friends. They settled on a Harry Potter theme for their party and they pretty much planned the entire thing on their own.

They planned games, crafts, a pop-up candy store and of course an impromptu dance party. Olivia has gained some pretty great friends during her years at the dance studio. Having the party at the dance studio surrounded by her dance buddies was a great way to celebration turning 11!

The day of Olivia's party was her actual birthday. So after a full day of celebrating we enjoyed a quiet evening with just the four of us, taking our girl out for dinner out and spoiling her with presents at home. The weekend may have been all about Olivia, but Cecilia managed to find a way to pull a little of the attention over her way when she lost her first tooth! She was pretty excited knowing the tooth fairy would be visiting her on her sister's birthday!

Olivia's birthday continued into the next weekend when we had a small little party at the house with her soccer buddies. The two most important things in Olivia's life are dance and soccer. The weekend before she celebrated with her dance friends and I promised her she would celebrate with her soccer pals as well. There were crafts, cookie decorating and of course, lots of silliness. 

We opted for soccer cupcakes instead of a big cake and they were perfect! After singing "Happy Birthday" at the top of their lungs, her friends spoiled her with some lovely presents! Olivia welcomed her 11th birthday surrounded by the people most important to her, in all areas of her life. I am still trying to wrap my head around the fact that she is 11, but if she must grow up at least she is doing it while making us very proud!

Although the first part of November was all about Olivia, Cecilia was forging ahead in her 1st grade year at Peace Montessori. She adjusted quickly to the lower elementary classroom and began to process in many areas. I have been nothing but impressed with her teacher too. She sends me regular updates on her progress and pictures of her hard at work. Nothing makes me smile more than seeing my girl trying her hardest at school.

At the end of the month, on Thanksgiving weekend the girls both performed at The Embassy Festival of Trees with the dance studio.This is something I did every year growing up and I love that I now get to watch my girls participate in this tradition. This year each girl performed 3 dances in the show. One of them they were even in together. 

After they perform we always take time to walk around and see all of the beautiful trees. The girls were extra excited because their pals Audrey and Avery tagged along with us. There is bravery in numbers which came in handy when it was time to visit Santa. Cecilia tends to be a little hesitant unless her sister is with her, so having her buddy Avery with her made it much easier. The Festival of Trees is usually the official kick off to the holiday season, and that meant lots of fun traditions and activities were to come in the month ahead. By far our favorite time of year!