Saturday, November 29, 2008

thanksgiving feast

Our Thanksgiving festivities started early this year. We had lots of family coming into town for the holiday but Olivia's Aunt Sue Sue arrived in time to be able to attend the Thanksgiving Feast at Olivia's school. My aunt is a preschool teacher so I knew she would enjoy the chance to see Olivia at school. I signed up to help serve the feast to the kids in Olivia's class so I brought my aunt with me. Olivia was thrilled to see us and we enjoyed serving the cuties their meal. The feast consisted of chicken nuggets, carrots, cornbread and pumpkin bread for dessert! The perfect kid meal. All of the kids spent the days leading up to the feast making their turkey place mats. They were excited to have their meal served on the mats and most of them really enjoyed the food. It was a lot of fun for everyone!

After lunch the kids had a little time before dismissal. Olivia used this time to show her Aunt Sue Sue all of her favorite work. She went from one activity to the next making sure she showed off all of her talents. She even made sure to introduce Sue Sue to her friends, including her best bud, Ophelia.

Olivia did not want to go home that day, but she had no choice. After a little resistance she finally agreed to go home with me and her Aunt Sue Sue. I am glad Sue was able to be a part of the Thanksgiving Feast. I think she enjoyed herself!

We still have our family in town for the holiday. It has been a fun long weekend. Everyone will be heading home tomorrow so I will post later in the week with some photos from our weekend. Before I go I want to share with you the final pictures from our photo shoot with Betsy & John. Betsy finished processing all of the photos just in time for our family to arrive for the holiday.

Needless to say we are beyond thrilled with the finished product. Check out the post on Betsy's blog that shows more of the pictures as well as the slide show she put together for us. Click HERE. The slide show is short and if you have the time you must watch it. It is set to music and shows all of the best pictures from that day. We are so happy to have so many wonderful family photos to choose from. We are so anxious to get some of them in frames and on the walls of our new house. Thanks again to Betsy & John for capturing our family so well.

I hope that everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving. We will need a few days to recover from all of the excitement when the weekend is over. Olivia is upstairs right now taking a nice long nap. Having so many different family members to play with really wears her out, but she is having a blast! That's what it is all about!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

vip day

Olivia has been attending Three Rivers Montessori for almost three months now. She loves going to school and it has been by far the best decision we have made for our daughter thus far. She has learned manners, respect for others and how to listen. She has made tons of friends and even managed to master some basic Spanish words! Olivia has always been a good girl but the transformation I have seen in her in three short months has been amazing!

One thing I really like about the school is that there are always events going on, which allow the parents and family members to get involved in the school and the child's education and development. Last month I attended "Mom's Night Out". This was Olivia's opportunity to take me back to school one night to show me her classroom. In Montessori school a child's play is called their work. Olivia spent the entire time showing me her favorite pieces of work, dragging me from one station to the next. I also got to witness circle time and snack time. It is amazing how well a big group of toddlers listen in this environment. They are all calm and enjoying their time together. I was thrilled to be able to see what a "day in the life of Olivia" was like.

Well a few weeks ago my Mom got her turn. It was the school's annual VIP day. Each child is invited to bring their "very important person" to school for the morning. Olivia invited her Nana, and she was super excited about seeing Olivia in her classroom environment. It was a great day for all of the kids and their VIPs. My Mom was smarter than I was and actually remembered to bring her camera when visiting Olivia's classroom.

Of course Olivia made sure Nana saw all of her favorite works too. The children are free to work on whatever they want as along as no one else is currently working with it. They must put one piece of work away before moving onto the next. You would not think that the teachers would be able to get a classroom of toddlers to follow these rules, but they all do...it is fascinating! They also had circle time and got to show off singing some of their favorite songs. Singing is one of Olivia's favorite things to do right now. We sing songs at home, in the car, during dinner. It doesn't matter where we are, Olivia will sometimes just burst into song. I love it! After songs it was time for snack. The kids have a routine that they follow at snack time. They sing a special song during circle time and are then dismissed one by one from the circle to go the table. They must get a place mat, plate and cup. Once everyone is at the table the teacher comes around and asks if they would like snack. They must say either, "yes, please" or "no, thank-you". As you can guess most kids say, "yes, please". Once everyone is served they sing their snack song and then dig-in. Believe it or not all of the children have learned to patiently wait until they can eat their snack. They all sit quietly at the table together and do not bother one another. It is quite a sight to see.

Once they are finished they put their dishes in the sink and can get ready to go outdoors. Although it was chilly on VIP day it was sunny so it was a nice day for the kids to get out and burn off some energy. My mom just enjoyed watching Olivia run around with the other kids. Since the first day of school Olivia has taken a liking to one little girl...Ophelia. She is a few months younger than Olivia and has only been in the county for four months. She is a tiny little girl and she does not talk much yet. My Mom was informed by one of Olivia's teachers that she acts like a little "mommy" towards Ophelia. She does not play with her much but always asks where she is if she cannot see her. She has also been following Ophelia around and wiping her nose! How funny is that? I am sure this little girl is sick of Olivia trying to "take care" of her, but I think it is very cute that she is looking after her at school. Here is Olivia with her BFF...Ophelia.

I think my Mom really enjoyed her day with Olivia. I know I was very interested in knowing what a day was like at Olivia's school. I wish I could see what they are doing more often, but I know that it is important for Olivia to have things just for herself. I am so impressed with the staff and especially Olivia's teachers at the school. Olivia is lucky enough to not only have her main teacher, Ms. Jodie, but two assistants in the classroom on the days that she attends. Ms. Jodie is so patient with the kids. She works very hard to give the kids the tools they need to be independent little people. It takes a special person to do what she does each day!

I am glad my Mom took pictures during VIP day but I realized that the one picture we do not have is of Olivia with her VIP! Next is Daddy's turn. The school will host a "Dad's Night Out" after the first of the year. I know Todd is very anxious for Olivia to show him her class room too. I am so glad we made the decision to send Olivia to Three Rivers. I member wondering when we enrolled her if she was too young to start school. Any questions I may have had have since been answered and I know we made the right decision.

OK, so I have one more thing I want to share with everyone. A few weeks ago we had Betsy & John Photography come out to the house to take Olivia's two year pictures. Betsy has taken Olivia's pictures a few times before. We have always been super impressed with the photos and we were hoping to get a nice family shot out of this shoot this time around. Recently Betsy posted a sneak peek of our shoot on her website. For those of you who have not already seen the sneak peek click HERE. I love what I have seen so far. Betsy is still processing all of the photos from that day and we should be able to see the finished product in a few weeks. I will let you know when they are finished. So Thanksgiving is next week already! I cannot believe how quickly the holidays are approaching. Yikes...there is still so much to do, but we can't wait to share Christmas with Olivia this year!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

party animal

Olivia's official birthday celebration took place this past weekend. It was our first chance to entertain in our new house so we were very excited. The theme for the party was safari animals. Over the summer Olivia became obsessed with the zoo and really started getting into all of the animals, so it was the perfect choice. I found some adorable party decorations that were really bright and cute. We decorated and set-up while my Mom prepared all of the food (bless her!). She also made Olivia's cake! It was so stinkin' cute...not to mention really yummy!

The party was on Saturday and we wanted it to be later in the afternoon so Olivia would be well rested from her nap. Saturday was also Olivia's first fall swimming lesson so she was pretty tired. I ended up having to wake her up in time for the guests to arrive. But once she was up she immediately went into party animal mode! There was a twinkle in her eye as people started arriving and gifts started piling up. After some social time we decided that we would dive right into the gifts. No sense in making the poor little thing wait!

I was so surprised by how into opening gifts she was. She knew the drill, without any help at all. Being a kid, she would find the card, toss it to the side and start tearing off wrapping paper or pulling tissue out of the bag. Her reaction to each gift was the same. It was usually, "WOW!" or "LOOK AT THIS!". Each gift was as exciting as the last, whether it was clothes or a really neat toy. Of course she wanted to take each present out of it's respective box immediately and open it up so the hard part was convincing her to wait until we were all done with the gifts before we could start playing with them. She was understanding and just went on her way, tearing open another present. It was such fun watching the joy in her eyes as she tore through those presents. Once she was done with her gifts we told her that she had one more present down in the basement. Everyone followed Olivia downstairs so they could see her reaction to the wonderful kitchen that Todd's parents had gotten for her!

She was thrilled and from that point forward we hardly saw her the rest of the night. All of the kids at the party had a good time cooking with Olivia. It was the perfect gift for her. Now whenever we want her to come upstairs she says, "NO mama! I'm cookin'!". Too cute! My Mom is hoping that the cooking gene has been instilled in Olivia since I do not have much of an interest. She believes that the love for cooking must have skipped a generation! We will see!

Olivia was able to tear herself away from her favorite birthday gift long enough to come upstairs for birthday cake. I have never seen a child's eyes light up the way hers do when it comes to cake. After singing "Happy Birthday" to her I was smart enough to remove the white birthday shirt I had made for her. Chocolate cake, white shirts and toddlers are not meant to go together!

There was a big difference in the mess from last year to this year. There was not nearly as much cake on the floor or on Olivia. She successfully used her fork to eat the majority of her cake so the clean up was a "piece of cake"...so to speak.

Olivia received a wonderful surprise on the day of her party. While she was napping the most adorable little truck pulled up in front of our house only to drop off the most amazing "Edible Arrangement". In case you have never heard of this company they design these awesome fruit bouquets for any occasion. It arrived at our door with a birthday balloon and an adorable teddy bear attached to it. I knew immediately that it was from my Uncle Larry who lives in Florida. He always remembers special occasions and was thoughtful enough to recognize Olivia's party by sending her some of her favorite things...fruit, balloons and teddy bears! Olivia could hardly keep her hands of this delicious "edible arrangement" all night. It was a huge hit and was completely devoured in no time. Thank you, Uncle Larry! It was such a thoughtful gesture!

I am still adjusting to the fact that my baby is two! She acts like she is two and she definitely looks like she is two, but it does not seem like she should be two already. The time has gone much too fast and I am worried that the next time I blink she is going to be five and I am going to be wondering where my baby went. So far this is my favorite stage of Olivia's life. If I could freeze her at this age I would. She is just so full of energy and personality right now. Her vocabulary is off the charts. I find it hard to believe that I am able to have a full conversation with my two year old...while understanding everything she is telling me!

I think it is safe to say that our girl enjoyed her 2nd birthday. She partied until every single guest was gone. She then crashed hard and we were able to put the birthday celebration behind us until next year. Hopefully Olivia's third year won't fly by so quickly. It was a great party. Thank you to all of our family that attended. Also, thank you to my Mom for making the food and the cake. I want to leave you with some great family pictures from Olivia's party....

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

look who's two!

Today our sweet Olivia turned two! How is it possible? It seems like just yesterday she came into our lives. It is amazing to think of all that has happened since that day. Her first year was amazing but her second year was even better. I can only imagine what year #3 has in store.

We started our day with a special birthday breakfast. After getting dressed in her "birthday girl" t-shirt that I made especially for her I presented her with a birthday waffle, candle in all! She was thrilled with it and got super excited as I sang "Happy Birthday" to her.

She attempted to blow out the candle on her own but had a little trouble so she asked me for help. Together we blew out her candle which made her very happy! (I hope her wishes come true!)

Then it was time to head off to school. Olivia wanted to wear her birthday crown to school and I did not attempt to deny her that request. We also brought treats for the kids in her class. Every kid deserves for a fuss to be made on their birthday, right? When I picked her up that afternoon she came walking out with the birthday crown still on. I have no idea if she wore it all morning, but I would not be the least bit surprised if she did. Olivia spent the rest of the afternoon at Mama Kay's, like she does every day. Her daddy picked her up and they went to the playground as a special birthday treat. Olivia LOVES playgrounds and since the weather has been so beautiful lately he knew it was the perfect way to continue her special day. Before dinner Olivia opened a present from Mama Kay. She sent it home with us because the other kids would have gotten a little jealous watching Olivia open a present. It was some Elmo building blocks so she was happy!

For her special birthday dinner I made spaghetti...Olivia's favorite! I also whipped up a quick cake so she would have a special treat after dinner. I am sure that Olivia has no idea that we will fully celebrate her birthday this weekend with an official birthday party. But since today is her official birthday she had to have cake to dive into. I decided that I would let her get as messy as possible. You only turn two once, right?

The spaghetti was yummy, but the cake was what Olivia was really interested in. After singing to her once again she tried to blow out the candles but still needed help. She took quite a few bites of her cake but quickly realized it was much more fun to smoosh it and play with it. What ever makes my girl happy!

Olivia does everything to the fullest extent, so I had no doubt that she would be a total mess by the time she was finished with her birthday meal. But that is OK. The important thing is that she enjoy herself...and that she did!

I think Olivia had a wonderful day. Whether or not she fully understood that it was her birthday or what a birthday is for that matter is unknown. What she does know is that we made a fuss over her and that is what birthdays are all about. We are really looking forward to fully celebrating her 2nd birthday this weekend with all of our family and friends.

Olivia, on your second birthday I want you know what joy you have brought into our lives. Each day with you is an adventure and we are so excited to see what new things lie ahead in the upcoming year. Your twinkling personality and zest for life make us happier than anything else in this world. We love you so much and are so proud of all you have accomplished! Happy Birthday my beautiful girl!