Tuesday, December 22, 2009

all things Christmas

Just like the songs says..."It's the most wonderful time of the year!" It is even more wonderful with a three year old, to remind you just how special Christmas is. We have been in full holiday mode for a good month now and with Christmas later this week the count down officially begins for Olivia. We have done a lot of fun things leading up to this week. It all started with decorating our house for Christmas. I enjoy this part too. Since I only see the decorations once each year I always forget how much fun stuff we have to decorate the house with, and since Olivia came around we have collected even more fun stuff. Really it all just gives Todd and I reasons to act like kids this time of year. We have our big family tree that we put up, but Olivia has her own little tree that she decorates as well. We bought her tiny little ornaments and she really enjoys filling it up.

The next stop on our Christmas agenda was taking her downtown to see the big Santa light display. It is definitely a Fort Wayne Christmas highlight for families. There is a long history with this light display (which I do not know), and each year they have a big lighting ceremony on Thanksgiving weekend. It is always fun to take a trip downtown, and stand outside for a few minutes and look up at this bright piece of holiday cheer!

Another annual tradition for us is taking Olivia to see the live reindeer at the Botanical Gardens. We were not expecting to see Santa that day, but he was there. Olivia was not expecting to see him either and she was a little caught off guard. She has been super thrilled to visit Santa this year. She has been planning her visit by making pictures for Santa and practicing her list that she plans on sharing with him. This is the first year that she has been excited about seeing him. (I will reminisce about our past Santa visits a little later.) Well when she saw him that day she turned around and walked the other way. I asked her what was wrong and she said, "I think I will sit on Santa's lap next year." I immediately thought that we were in for a repeat performance of last year. We took some time to see the reindeer and the rest of the gardens, to get her mind off of Santa for awhile, with the hope that she would change her mind.

On our way out we talked about how Santa really needs to hear what she would like for Christmas. She saw some other kids sitting on his lap and decided that she could give it a try. When we got up there she hopped up on his lap with no problem at all. I think that once the initial shock of seeing Santa for the first time this year wore off she realized that it wasn't so bad! What I was most surprised about was the question she asked me when I told her that Santa was there that day. She said, "Mommy...is this the real Santa or a pretend Santa?" Are you kidding me? How in the world would she know to ask that question? That is a question we should not have to deal with for quite a few years. I told her that he is the real Santa and that he makes appearances at many different places before Christmas. I need a few more years before I have to start explaining things.

There have been lots of fun things going on at Olivia's school lately too. For the past month the kids have been working on the songs for their Holiday Program. Last Tuesday was the big performance and I was so excited to see her in her very first school program. That morning the kids had a rehearsal and I was informed by Olivia's teacher that it was necessary that I be sitting in the front row at the program. She said that Olivia stood in the front row at the rehearsal, sang her little heart out and did all of the hand motions. That news only made me more excited to see her perform.

That night we did manage to get front row seats and I am so glad that we did. There she was, right in the front in her adorable little Christmas outfit. She not only sang all of the songs, but she did it with a smile on her face. She saw us from the stage, which made her smile even more. The school did a great job with the program. They had children on stage ranging in ages from 18 months to 8 years old. I was impressed by how well they all did. Of course there were some kids that froze on stage and did not sing a word, and others that did silly things to make us all laugh. Overall it was a very entertaining program and I was a very proud Mom watching her baby on the big stage.

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To wrap up all of the holiday fun and to celebrate the last day of school before break, the kids all wore their pajamas and were treated with a party! I played along and wore my pajamas when I went to help with the party that morning. The kids had craft stations, food stations and a man visiting with animals. It was a nice break from all of the structure, and a time for the kids to just have fun with one another. For lunch they all made their own little english muffin pizzas. She had a lot of fun with her little friends. I am sure she will miss everyone over the break, but it will also be nice for her to have a little time off.

Last week was also our official visit to see Santa. The first visit was not planned. This time we got her all dressed up in her Christmas dress and ventured out to Jefferson Pointe to visit Santa's Cottage. This is the only place we have taken her to get her picture with Santa and we love it. They take a lot of time with you and the Santa is always very nice! This year was problem free and quite pleasant for Olivia. She told Santa everything she wanted and gave him a nice big hug. The picture could not have turned out any better. I have a feeling Santa will bring Olivia everything she asked for this year.

This was actually Olivia's fourth visit to see Santa. She was a month and a half old the first year, so naturally she slept through it all. The next she was just plain terrified. I think that is easy to see from the picture. But how classic, right? Last year took some work. After about 20 minutes of Santa talking to Olivia we managed to get her to sit on his lap and crack a smile. She was not thrilled about it, but she did it. And finally, this year her fear for Santa disappeared and turned into pure love. Now I just need to make sure that she continues to believe as long as possible!

Our last big holiday activity before Christmas was to take Olivia and her BFF Laurel downtown for a carriage ride. We got some snow this past weekend so it made for a very pretty ride. It was cold but it was fun to ride through downtown and see all of the lights and decorations. Afterwards we took the girls for pizza. They had a blast!

I just love all of the fun this time of year brings. To me there is nothing better than watching the joy in Olivia's eyes as she sees Christmas lights, hears Christmas carols, and see presents sitting under the tree. I have always loved Christmas, but I have learned to love it in a whole new way since she came into our lives. Todd and I have a lot to be grateful for as we spend time with family and friends this time of year. We hope that you all have a wonderful holiday with your families and are able to enjoy the small joys the season brings! Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

turkey and tap dancing

We are in the full holiday spirit around here. The lights are up, the tree is trimmed and Olivia is excitedly counting down the days until Santa arrives. We are in the middle of all of our Christmas shopping and trying to get ready for the holidays. We have yet to do all of the fun annual Christmas things that we do around town, but that is going to change this week. Olivia will be going to see Santa soon and we will pack as much in before Christmas as possible. But first I need to bring you up to speed on a few other things have been going on.

First, was Thanksgiving. We had a relaxing, fun, big Thanksgiving, with lots of friends and family. We started the day by watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade. We thought Olivia would enjoy it. She not only enjoyed it, she LOVED it! She could not get enough of all of the floats and musical performances. In fact, my Mom taped it for her so she would not miss a second. We have watched it numerous times since Thanksgiving too. I think we started a new Thanksgiving tradition. Next, we went over to Todd's parents to spend some time with them. They did not have a structured dinner time but they did have all of the traditional Thanksgiving food, so we had a preview lunch of what was to come later that night. We spent the rest of the day at my Mom's. It was such a nice, relaxing afternoon. I even found a way to sneak in a little nap while Olivia was taking hers. Don't get to do that very often!

We ate a late dinner, but it was well worth the wait. Olivia enjoyed her dinner on her pilgrim placemat that she made at school. It was still a struggle to get her to eat, but the rest of us enjoyed it for her. Meals are a struggle with Olivia these days. She is going through the typical "picky eater" stage, like most toddlers. If it was up to her she would eat five things, and five things only...peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, macaroni and cheese, hotdogs, pizza and spaghetti. The battle occurs when I will not let her only eat those things. I require that she tries all different foods, with the hope that she may actually like them. I am also not a short order cook, so she eats what we eat. The positive side is that the child loves fruits and veggies, so I never have a problem there. She would much rather bypass dinner altogether and hold out for dessert. Dessert is always worth waiting for, but only after some actual dinner has been consumed. It is an ongoing battle, but one I have learned to not let stress me out.

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So Thanksgiving was great. It was nice spending it with so much family and some good family friends as well. I know that this holiday can be stressful for so many people, but it always seems to be a very relaxing day for us. I am grateful for that. Aside from Turkey Day, Olivia has been a busy bee. School has been more fun than usual, with all of the holidays things going on. Olivia's first holiday program is coming up next week. She will be singing some songs with her class, and I am just dying to see their performance. Speaking of performances, Olivia is working hard in her tap class this year, learning their new dance. The first parent visitation of the year was last month. It is such fun watching her tap her little toes. I am afraid that we do not get the full effect of her tapping ability when the room is full of parents, but at least we get to see what they are working on.

I am in love with their dance this year. The group of little ones will be dancing to "ABC" by the Jackson 5. I love it! Obviously they need to do a lot of practicing before recital time next June, but I was impressed by how well a group of 3-6 year olds listen. This is Olivia's second year of tap and she really likes it. You would assume that her tap dancing skills would improve the second time around, but so far I think she may be backtracking a bit. Now I know she is only three but I was particularly surprised by the quality of her "kick-steps". I know, funny right? But check this out. The first video is of Olivia rocking her kick-steps last year, the second one is what they look like now. Now before you judge me as one of those "pageant moms", who pushes their daughter to do something they hate, know that I am totally joking. I just think it is funny how her "technique" has changed since last year!

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Most importantly, she loves going to her tap class. I could care less how well she does, just as long as she enjoys herself. Each week she rushes into her class, excited to see her friends and her teacher. It is a great activity, that helps with her motor skills as well as her social skills. And who knows, her kick-steps may improve by recital time next year!

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Well we have had some good news fall upon our family this week. Todd is no longer laid off. He started a new job this week! After a very difficult year we are relieved that things are finally back on track for Todd. Since he was laid off the first time in February he searched non-stop for a new position. He took a job in August to only be laid off again three months later. After just over one month he was offered another position and he is happy to be back at work. Hopefully this job will offer him the job security he has been searching for. It has been a stressful year for all of us, but we are so grateful that this nice little Christmas wish was granted, just in time for the holidays! So be sure to wish Todd luck in his new job. He is excited about it and happy to no longer collect unemployment.

We are excited for Christmas to arrive, but we also want to slow down and enjoy everything this time of year has to offer. With Thanksgiving just behind us, I have been doing a lot of thinking about all of the things I am grateful for. The list is too long to discuss, but I think it is clear that I am most thankful that I have a healthy, happy family. There really is not much else you need in life! I love this time of year so I am going to be sure to slow down and enjoy every second of it.