Monday, November 28, 2011

5 already?

I can hardly believe it as I say it out loud...Olivia is 5 years old! It seems like just yesterday she was digging into her first little birthday cake. Now my girl is all grown up!

Olivia's birthday celebration was an all week event, concluding with a fabulous party to recognize this important milestone. It was Olivia's "all about me" week at school so she was able to bring in things to share and do a few special things to celebrate her birthday. On that Friday, her actual birthday she woke up to a breakfast surprise...a chocolate donut! She wanted a special breakfast and wanted to be surprised. I knew this would do the trick.

Her special week at school ended with a Montessori tradition, "the walk around the sun". This is a special ceremony that recognizes each year of their lives. They walk around the circle one time for each year. This is a huge hit with the kids because the focus in entirely on them.

The celebrating continued when we took Olivia out for a special "big girl" dinner that night. It was her first trip to Takaoka. Growing up my parents would take me to this Japanese hibachi restaurant each year on my birthday. I thought this would be a fun tradition to start with Olivia now that she is old enough to appreciate it. This is a really fun place to eat. The chefs put on quite a show. Olivia was fascinated by how quickly our chef prepared our food and he did a ton of fancy tricks to keep her interested. Olivia loves Japanese food so she was in heaven once her plate was filled with shrimp and rice.

This restaurant is a popular place for people to go on their birthdays. They bring you a special ice cream treat and sing a Japanese birthday song. You usually hear the song at least half a dozen times during dinner. Olivia had a wonderful time so I think the tradition will continue next year.

The festivities came to a close the next day with Olivia's birthday party. She chose a ladybug theme which was fun to prepare. I found some adorable ladybug decorations which were emphasized by the many different ladybug stuffed animals and knick-knacks Olivia has around the house.

My Mom impressed as always with some amazing ladybug snacks. Her nickname is "Martha", as in Martha Stewart. Can you see why? Only my Mom has the patience and talent to pull off snacks like these. They not only looked adorable, but were quite yummy too.

The cake put the perfect finishing touch on this ladybug party. The office manager at Olivia's school has made her cake for the past 3 years. She does an amazing job! Her cakes aren't just nice to look at, but they taste amazing. Of course Olivia was thrilled with her cake as well and made a super special wish as she blew out her candles.

Olivia received some very nice gifts from her friends and family. Obviously that was her favorite part of her party. She did a good job of thanking everyone for her gifts and showing enthusiasm as she opened each present.

It was a very successful party and a lot of fun too. Olivia is already makes plans for birthday party #6! Cecilia was delightful that night, as she was passed from one person to the next. I hardly saw my child the whole night, but she had no problem being in other people's arms. I love that she seems to have turned into such an easy going baby.

Cecilia has a few new developments to report. She is now pushing up on her hands when she lays on her tummy. She is also able to sit up on her own for a few seconds at a time without support. She still has a way to go but I have a feeling she will be there very soon. This is a very strong child and is able to do things with very little help. She is also starting to react more to Olivia. Olivia has been able to get a few giggles out of Cecilia by acting as silly as possible. I have a feeling Olivia will be Cecilia's preferred method of entertainment for a long time.

We just wrapped up a very busy Thanksgiving weekend. We are all trying to get back on track and into a more relaxed routine. We are also in full Christmas prep mode. I will have much more to share in the upcoming weeks. Can't wait to spend our first Christmas with Cecilia!

Friday, November 11, 2011

all things halloween

What a fun month this has been. We have spent the past few weeks enjoying many different fall and Halloween activities. This year has been extra special since we were able to include Cecilia in all of our little family traditions. First on the list was the annual Zoo Halloween.

The weather was perfect which meant that Olivia was able to show off her costume and not cover it up with a jacket. She told me she wanted to be a black cat the day after Halloween ended last year. Surprisingly she never changed her mind. My Mom found an adorable little pink kitty outfit for Cecilia, which was just as comfy as jammies. So we strolled around the zoo with both of our little kitties, while Olivia collected her treats. Next year Cecilia will be walking through the zoo with her big sister leading the way!

Next on the agenda was the annual Fall Family Festival at Olivia's school. Each year the school puts on a great festival including games, snacks, costume parade and the very popular trunk-or-treat! Cecilia sat this one out as it was a bit chilly that day.

This year they threw a dunk tank into the mix and it was a huge hit with the kids. Olivia could hardly wait to try and dunk her teacher, Ms. Laura. She shocked us all when she hit the bullseye on her second throw and her teacher fell into the tank of freezing cold water. I must hand it to the teachers of Peace Montessori. There is nothing like showing your devotion to your job than allowing yourself to be dunked into cold water on a 50 degree fall day!

We were enjoying ourselves until the weather took a turn for the worse. Just as the kids were getting ready to start their trunk-or-treat the wind picked up and it started to rain. Olivia and I ran through the parking lot and hit every trunk as fast as we could collecting her candy. Daddy pulled up the car, we hopped in and headed home early. Luckily we were able to enjoy the majority of the festival before the weather forced us to leave.

And as if we did not have enough candy already we still had Halloween around the corner. The weather cooperated again and we were all able to enjoy a nice walk throughout the neighborhood. Cecilia was bundled up in her little kitty outfit and Olivia was prepared with her treat bag. She could hardly contain her excitement as she ran from house to house. She was on a mission to collect as much candy as humanly possible in two hours.

Cecilia was a trooper that night. She just relaxed in her stroller and enjoyed the cool, fall evening as Olivia dashed through our neighborhood at lightening speed. Todd took Cece home once it started getting dark while Olivia finished up her candy collecting. She could hardly hold her treat bag by the end of the night it was so heavy. Once we got home we dumped the candy out on the floor and assessed the damage. I could not believe how much she managed to get in such a short period of time. All of that candy is in a huge bowl on top of our refrigerator and I have a feeling it will take us ages to eat it all. Olivia is only allowed to have a few pieces each day and of course Todd and I occasionally sneak a piece here and there. (It is so hard to resist!).

Halloween was a huge success and according to Olivia, her favorite holiday ever! I can't wait until next year when Cecilia will be toddling around with her big sister collecting candy.

Mixed in with all of our fall festivities was Olivia's first ever horseback riding lesson. We won a gift certificate at a silent auction last year for a couple of lessons and thought she would enjoy giving it a try. Before she began her first lesson she had to get fitted with her horseback riding gear. How cute does she look? My little rider!

I figured that they would spend a lot of time teaching her the basics before actually putting her on a horse but I was wrong. Within minutes of starting her first lesson she saddled up on a beautiful horse named, China and immediately got down to business. She learned how to hold the reigns, how to get the horse to start and stop and how to make her turn. She really enjoyed enjoyed herself and picked up on the instruction very easily. I was very proud of how well she listened to her teacher and how well she handled herself on that huge animal! We may continue with the lessons to see where it leads.

Now for a quick update on Cecilia. She is now four months old and is just delightful. If someone would have told me a few months ago that I would have a baby with the most pleasant disposition I would have said you were crazy. What a difference a few months can make! She smiles constantly. She only fusses if she is tired or hungry. She is laughing, rolling over and trying to sit up on her own. She rolled over for the first time just shy of 4 months old. It was an exciting moment for all of us.

At her recent check up she weighed in at 15 lbs. 15 oz and 25 inches in length. She is a bit smaller than Olivia at this age, but not much. You should see the legs on this girl. They are sturdy, that's for sure! She is also a very loud baby. She babbles and often yells at us, making sure she is being heard. Olivia was a very early talker and I have a feeling Cecilia is going to be the same way. She is sleeping much better now and seems to have settled into a very nice routine for us.

Olivia continues to take her job as "big sister" very seriously. She is always interacting with Cecilia and showering her with hugs and kisses. I could not be more proud of my big girl and how well she has handled this life changing experience. I look forward to watching the bond between my two girls grow stronger as the months/years pass. I look at both of my girls each day and I am reminded of just how lucky I am.

The most recent development in our house is the fact that Olivia is now 5 years old! We just finished celebrating her birthday and throwing a fantastic party. I will recap all of those fun festivities next time.