Tuesday, December 23, 2008

icicles and sing-a-longs

Those of you in the area know what I am taking about when I say... icicles! We have been one of the lucky ones throughout the recent ice storm. The freezing rain started last Thursday night and by Friday morning we were without power. Luckily the power was restored by mid-day on Friday. We have friends that were without power until early this week and Todd's brother is still without power. We are praying that they get their power back in time for Christmas. It is amazing how much you take for granted when you have no power. The world seems to stop when you can't turn on your lights, heat your home or watch TV. I do not remember a storm quite like this in my life. There were trees down all around town and the number of people without power was in the thousands. On the other hand it was extremely beautiful. It is hard to believe that something so beautiful can be so destructive. I sent Todd out to snap a few pictures as I did not want to leave the warmth of our comfy house. Man it is cold here right now!

After some temps in the below freezing range we are now back to the double digits. Now we just have to keep our fingers crossed that mother nature does not act up again before Christmas. We have family that is planning on driving in from Michigan but with the state of things right now they may not make it . They have tons of snow there and it does not seem to be stopping. I pray that this nasty weather can calm down for a few days so we can get celebrate Christmas with our families. We did not venture out much over the weekend but we did have a few holidays parties to attend. On Saturday night we went to our very first Christmas sing-a-long. A friend of my Mom's, Bev, who just happens to be my middle school choir teacher hosts a sing-a-long party every year. I was told that she has been doing it for 20+ years! Todd and I are not exactly the sing-a-long types but we thought Olivia would enjoy it, so we went...and what fun she had!

Olivia has recently entered a stage where she is not afraid of anyone. She will talk to anyone, hug anyone and is not afraid of being the center of attention. She fit right in at the sing-a-long. As Bev started to warm up at the piano Olivia pulled up a chair and tried to play right along with her. She immediately asked Bev to play "Jingle Bells". Bev obliged and they sang together. Olivia proceeded to ask Bev to play that song over and over and over. (It is the only song Olivia knows the words to). Bev even gave Olivia some actual jingle bells that she could use during the song. She really got into it!

Eventually Bev had to move on from singing "Jingle Bells" and Olivia lost interest. It got late and we decided to pack up and head home. Before we left Olivia decided to put on a little show in the middle of all the people, singing their Christmas carols. She danced and clapped at the end of every song. She really was the life of the party. I am so glad we decided to go and we will be sure to go back next year. Hopefully Olivia will have learned a few more songs by then.

Well Christmas is just around the corner. We are really looking forward to celebrating the holiday with Olivia. She is really getting into it all. She tells us that Santa is coming and that he is going to put presents under her little tree. We had a little practice with present opening last night when we had our annual dinner with the Wilhelms. Korrie & Tom and their boys, Hayden and Simon are some of our closest family friends. Korrie's Mom and her husband, Jay come too. Olivia's refers to Deb as Nanny Deb. Needless to say, we are all very close. Each year we have a Christmas dinner with them that ends with a present exchange. Olivia knew just what to do with her presents and she opened them like a pro. Each present brought about the same reaction..."WOW!". It was a fun night and we look forward to it each year.

Before I sign off and wish everyone a very Merry Christmas, Olivia would like to sing a few Christmas carols for you. Please enjoy her versions of "Jingle Bells" and "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer", or "Rudolph the Reindeer's Nose" as she calls it. I hope that these songs get you in the Christmas spirit if you aren't ready. If anything there are sure to make you laugh! (Excuse her messy face!)

Todd, Olivia and myself wish you all a very Merry Christmas and lots of love!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

who's afraid of Santa Claus?

Not Olivia!!! I am proud to say that we had a successful trip to see Santa this year! It was such fun. Each year we take her to see the Santa out at Jefferson Pointe (an outdoor mall in our area). We like visiting this Santa for many reasons. First, Santa is located in a darling little cottage in the middle of the mall. It is quaint and very personal, not like the craziness at our main mall. We have a strategy too. We always go on a weekday night when no one else is there. That way we can take our time and not feel like we are being rushed by all of the other crazed parents out there. Our first visit to see Santa, a few years ago was a breeze. Olivia was just over one month old and she slept on Santa's lap during the picture. Last year was a different story. We were the parents that traumatized their child by making her sit on Santa's lap even though she was scared to death...cruel, huh? Needless to say we were unsure how this year would unfold. So we got Olivia all dressed up in one of her adorable Christmas dresses and headed out to see the jolly guy.

We had talked about Santa for quite awhile prior to our visit. We talked about how Olivia was going to sit on his lap and tell him what she wanted for Christmas. And when we asked her what Santa was going to say to her she always replied, "Ho, Ho, Ho!" She was excited about the idea of Santa but we weren't sure how she would feel once we were in front of him. When we arrived there was one child in front of us. She was younger than Olivia and was not at all interested in Santa. Their attempt failed and they have to leave without a picture...bummer. Once Olivia saw Santa she grabbed onto Todd's coat with a death grip. She would not let go and she did not want to be anywhere near him. I thought for sure that our attempt would fail as well. Luckily there was no one behind us so we took off our coats and got comfy in Santa's cottage. Santa was SO friendly to Olivia and within a few minutes I noticed her starting to warm up to him. We took a family picture with Santa to show her that there was nothing to be scared of. With that out of the way it was time for Olivia to sit on Santa's lap all by herself. She was a little unsure of the idea and wasn't interested in smiling. Just then the photographer had the great idea of knocking Mommy and Daddy on the head with a silly toy with the hope of getting a smile. What a genius idea! By then Olivia was cracking up and willing to give up tons of smiles. Here is the result (sorry about the quality of the picture)...

By the time we were done hanging out with Santa Olivia was hugging him and they were counting in Spanish together. It does not take long for Olivia to warm up to people when you give her a chance, even when those people are big, jolly men in red and white suits. I was so impressed with Santa. He was so patient and willing to do anything it took to make Olivia comfortable with him. He told her how he knew her Mommy and Daddy when they were little and how he remembered her from last year too. (A good Santa knows just what to say!). Plus, he gave her a lolly pop for being so brave which got Santa some points too! It was a really fun experience and Olivia has been talking about it ever since. She switches between talking about Santa and the Elmo show (still). After we were done we walked around the mall looking at all of the pretty lights. Jefferson Pointe has an amazingly tall Christmas tree that fascinated Olivia. It was a really fun night!

We are trying to squeeze in as many Christmas activities as possible before the holiday. Over the weekend we took Olivia to our botanical conservatory to see the live reindeer. The conservatory is always decorated so beautifully this time of year and there are some activities for kids throughout. We were pushing nap time so Olivia did not want to cooperate when it came to picture taking but I did manage to snap a few.

We cannot believe that Christmas is just over a week away. I think I am about done with my shopping. Now my favorite part starts...all of the gift giving! I hope that everyone is enjoying the holiday season as much as we are. In case I do not post again before Christmas...Todd, Olivia and I hope that you all have a very Merry Christmas and a happy holiday season!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

where to begin?

Oh, this time of year is hectic! There is so much going on right now. Here is a quick synopsis...It is the holiday season. There are gifts to be bought, gifts to be wrapped. There are decorations to be hung and lights to be strung (why must Christmas lights never work properly?) Our beloved babysitter broke her hip a few weeks ago. With the help of Todd's parents we are managing, until she is back on her feet. Our house is in the process of being painted. Each room is a disaster, but it will look oh, so nice when it is finished at the end of this week. Luckily in the middle of all of this craziness we have managed to have some fun with Olivia. Let me start back a few weeks. Before it got so cold out we were enjoying some nice fall days outdoors. We took a walk around our neighborhood, exploring areas we have not seen yet. There were leaves to be raked in our front yard so Olivia helped with that. The raking part is not nearly as fun as the running and jumping into a big pile of leaves part!

Now we are in full Christmas mode. Olivia loves all things Christmas! She sings carols that she is learning in school. She says, "WOW" each time we drive past a house with lights. And believe it or not she talks about Santa quite a bit. The true test comes tonight when we take her to visit the jolly guy in the flesh. I am sure many of you remember this picture from last year...

I am dying to see how she reacts to poor Santa this year. According to Olivia she is going to sit on Santa's lap and tell him that she wants toys. Yeah...I'll believe that when I see it. I am fully prepared for another "crying baby on Santa's lap" picture. But who knows, she may surprise us. Her little personality has blossomed so much since last year. She has no problem talking to anyone that will listen, so maybe she will be thrilled to have a seat on Santa's lap. Like I said...I will believe it when I see it! We have been letting Olivia get involved in the decorating too. We bought a tree just for her. She helped to decorate it last week with all of the cute little ornaments her Daddy picked out for her. She was over it after about five minutes so I finished decorating for her. Ahhh, the attention span of a two year old!

Last week we got our first real accumulation of snow. It was super cold and windy but the snow looked so pretty. Olivia asked to go outside so I thought we should get all bundled up even if it was just for a few minutes. I am sure most of you have seen The Christmas Story, right? Well the part where Randy is getting all bundled up to go to school...that is what Olivia probably felt like as we stuffed her into her snow suit. She had to be burning up in that thing before we actually got outside. She was pretty darn cute in it though.

Our outside adventure was short lived but it was fun seeing Olivia experience the snow and cold. Olivia has changed so much since last year so it feels like we are doing all of these things again for the first time. She wanted to build snowmen but there was not enough snow and it was so freakin' cold out there. I am really looking forward to building a snowman with her this winter. Speaking of snowmen are you familiar with the children's book Snowmen at Night? Well for all of the Mom's out there I highly recommend it. It is the cutest little story about what snowmen do at night when no one is around. It is currently Olivia's favorite!

Last but not least I must share with you Olivia's trip to Sesame Street Live. Some friends of ours gave us tickets so we thought we would give it a shot. Most of you know how obsessed Olivia is with Elmo and all of the other Sesame Street characters. We saw that the show was coming to town but did not want to spend the money on tickets without knowing if Olivia would enjoy it. Once we got free tickets we thought, what the heck...let's go! There are no words to describe how much Olivia enjoyed herself. She seemed unsure about the life size characters at first but as soon as they started singing the Sesame Street theme song she was mesmerized! The child hardly blinked an eye the entire time. The only melt down was during intermission when we refused to pay $8 for an Elmo balloon. Although I did buy her an Elmo CD. We could not leave without getting her something. We went with our friends, Jason & Nikki as well as our goddaughter, Emily. I think Emily enjoyed the show as well. Olivia and Emily are gradually getting to know each other and Emily made sure to give Olivia a big hug before we left.

We have been busy, busy and I don't expect things to slow down before Christmas. That's OK, this is our favorite time of year and it is even more fun now that Olivia is old enough to start enjoying the holiday as well. Check back soon to see how our visit with Santa turned out!