Sunday, November 28, 2010

look who's 4!!!

Olivia has officially turned 4...and it was quite the celebration! It all started on the morning of her birthday. After waking up and putting on her "birthday girl" shirt I immediately spoiled her with a special birthday breakfast. To Olivia a special breakfast consists of a waffle, yogurt and some fruit. Not really that fancy, but you can make anything special but sticking a birthday candle in the middle of it.

Next it was off to school. It was a normal school day aside from the quick little birthday celebration before dismissal. Each child gets their chance to "walk around the sun" on their special day. This is the Montessori way of celebrating a child's birthday. They hold a globe and walk around a candle (representing the sun), one time for each year of their life. The kids really like this because, for this short amount of time the attention is 100% on them. Olivia walked around the sun 4 times with a huge smile on her face!

That evening we had a birthday dinner for Olivia at my Mom's house. She requested spaghetti, which she seems to do every year on her birthday. We were planning on opening presents after dinner, but anticipation was killing her so we decided not to make her wait. To keep her from bursting at the seams we let her open a few before dinner.

The second she swallowed her last bite of spaghetti she was ready to tear through the rest of her gifts. She was most excited about the digital camera she got from her Aunt Sue Sue. She had been asking for a camera for awhile and was thrilled to finally get her very own. She has hardly put it down since. She was also excited about the gift from us...the Leapster Explorer. We thought it was time for her to have her own learning system and we could not have made a better investment. This learning game systems is fantastic for kids and so educational. I cannot even tell you how many skills she is perfecting with this toy.

After the presents were opened it was time for a little dessert! Instead of a big huge cake that we would never eat my Mom made individual cupcakes...yum! Olivia never gets tired of blowing out birthday candles! So much fun!

That weekend was the big birthday party. For months Olivia expressed her desire to have a mermaid theme party. The challenge for me was finding birthday supplies that were not "Ariel" from the Little Mermaid. I wanted cute little cartoonish mermaids, which are quite hard to come by. I did eventually find the mermaids I wanted, but I had to hand make the decorations. Much more work than I anticipated. But it all came together and made for a very cute little party.

Olivia was lucky to be surrounded by lots of friends and family once again this year. She had most of her cousins there and some of her young friends, which made for a very fun night. The highlight of the evening was her mermaid cake. This is the second year in a row that the office manager at Olivia's school has made her cake. Last year she made the "Olivia the Pig" cake, which was amazing! She did not disappoint this year either. The mermaid cake was not only adorable, but it tasted so good! After singing "Happy Birthday" and blowing out the candles we all dug in.
Now my original plan for presents was to have Olivia open them later that evening after everyone went home. I wanted to spare everyone having to sit through present opening and allow Olivia to run around and enjoy her guests. I was going to take a picture of Olivia opening each present and include that picture in her thank you card to each guest. My plan foiled and before I knew it she was digging into all of her presents. I still snapped pictures of her with each gift, but she ended up opening them all at her party. She had a great time, which is all that matters.

Overall I think turning 4 was pretty spectacular for Olivia. As her birthday approached I told her that I was not going to allow her to turn 4 because I wanted her to stay 3. She said that she had to turn 4 and I could not stop her from getting old. It is hard for me to believe that my little girl is 4 now. She continues to amaze me each day with how grown up she is. Her maturity is unreal at times, but she still has the innocence of a small child. I am hoping that sticks around for a long time despite getting older. I also hope that Olivia enjoys each birthday as much as she did this one!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

lots of spooky fun

The month of October flew by in a flash! It is unbelievable to me that it is November already and that Christmas is just around the corner. We knew that October was going to be a busy month, filled mostly of fun Halloween activities. Olivia was so excited about Halloween this year, more than ever before. She had her costume planned out months ahead and the pressure was on for me to find a way to pull it all together in time. Last year she was one of the only kids at her school's fall family festival without a costume because I did not have it completed. It didn't bother her, but I told myself I was not going to let that happen again this year.

So here she is...our little mermaid. Put together (not made), piece by piece by me. The only part I am responsible for is the crown, all of the other pieces I found online. It all came together and made for one cute mermaid costume. The tail...the best part of the costume, I found on Etsy. If you are not familiar with that site you must check it out. It is a place for people to sell their homemade goods. I found a lady that makes mermaid tails and it only cost $19! Bargain! Olivia was thrilled with the costume and that was all that mattered to me.

Her first opportunity to show off her fancy tail was at the annual fall family festival at her school. It is a fun event that we look forward to every year! Olivia was most excited about the trunk-or-treat, which was such a huge hit with the kids last year that they decided to do it again. Last year I dressed my VW Beetle up as a ladybug, but since that car is no more I had to stir up the creativity pot and think of something. I decided to keep it simple and just make it a spooky trunk.

There were tons of fun things for the kids at the festival and the weather was perfect! Olivia enjoyed the little horse and buggy rides, the hay maze and making s'mores. She could not wait to get her costume on so she could start visiting all of the trunks and collecting her treats!

Before the trunk-or-treat began the kids were able to show off their fancy costumes in the costume parade. The best part of the day for Olivia was spending the afternoon running around with all of her little school friends. This is one of our favorite school events each year and this year did not disappoint.

Next on the list of Halloween activities was our annual trip to the Great Zoo Halloween. This was our third year attending this fun event and Olivia was stoked. I was happy with how much use we were getting out of our costume and it really helped that she liked it so much. There were multiple treat stations set up around the zoo for the kids as well as other fun activities.

Olivia was most looking forward to seeing her favorite horse, Gail. We heard ahead of time that all of the horses were going to be wearing costumes as well so Olivia could not wait to see what she was wearing. Unfortunately Gail had the day off but she quickly choose another horse that was dressed like an Indian. She enjoyed her final horsey ride of the season.

As we walked through the zoo collecting treats, Olivia also enjoyed running through the hay maze and playing some games. One of the coolest parts of visiting the zoo at Halloween is seeing all of the cool pumpkins that they decorate and carve. They also manage to make these amazing scenes with animals out of different types of gourdes. It is pretty cool! Overall I would say that Great Zoo Halloween lived up to Olivia's expectations once again.

As you can tell we had a lot of practice leading up to Halloween. Although Olivia had already worn her costume a few times she was the most excited to put it on for the official night of trick-or-treating. We decided to spend the evening walking around our neighborhood. It was a chilly night, but who thinks of that when the most important task at hand is collecting as much candy as possible. And that she did! She walked the neighborhood for over an hour before starting to get tired. I asked if she was ready to call it quits and she said no. She decided she wanted to keep going but wanted to tackle the rest of the neighborhood from her wagon. By the end of the night she had completely filled up her pumpkin. Now all of that candy is sitting in a bowl at the top of our fridge and I feel we may still be eating it a year from now. Funny thing is, Olivia is really only interested a few kinds of candy. The rest she seems to have no desire to try. No complaints here! It was another fun-filled Halloween in the Menor household and now I can relax for awhile before having to think up next year's costume.

Before wrapping up this fall themed post I want to share a few photos I took of Olivia during one of our unseasonably warm days in October. These photos were taken on the day we were supposed to have our annual family photo shoot with Vilma from GEM Photography, but she was ill and we had to reschedule. We decided not to waste the beautiful day and take some pictures of Olivia ourselves. Some of them turned out quite nice. Luckily we were able to reschedule our professional family photo shoot and I am anxiously awaiting the proofs. I will be sure to share them as soon as they are done.

Lastly, our beautiful Olivia turned 4 last week. Hard to believe that I am saying those words. As much as I wish I could have kept her as our little 3 year old, she could not have been more excited to celebrate turning 4. I have tons of pictures from her week long birthday celebration, including her fantastic mermaid birthday bash! I promise to get around to that post as soon as possible. This sure is one busy time of year!