Thursday, January 31, 2013

merry, merry

Oh, Christmas! Hands down our favorite holiday in this house. We started celebrating the holidays as soon as Thanksgiving was over. We packed in as many Christmas themed activities as humanly possible. With Christmas just a few short days away there was still more fun to be had.

Every year we celebrate Christmas with our close friends, The Wilhelms. I have known Korrie my entire life. Her Mom is my Mom's best friend. Her oldest son is my God son and Korrie and her husband Tom are Olivia's God parents. Got all that? We are close and our families have our own little Christmas celebration each year.

We always exchange presents and this year the girls got the most adorable matching gifts. Korrie got them Minnie Mouse jammies and each their own Mickey and Minnie. There were lots of snuggling going on with their new loveys.

We had a jammed packed day planned for Christmas Eve. A wrench was thrown into our plans when Todd woke up feeling very ill. The aches and chills were a sure sign that he was not and should not go anywhere that day. He climbed back into bed as I got the girls ready for the first of many Christmas Eve activities. First stop was our Christmas at his brother's. His brother Barry and his family are usually gone on Christmas so we celebrate with them the day before.

Olivia always looks forward to spending time with her one and only girl cousin, Ella. It took a few years, but they are now at the age where they play perfectly together. Originally it was just the two girls amongst many boy cousins. But now when we get together as a family the three girl cousins do their own thing in their little "girls club". Cecilia may be too young to be a part of their play right now, but she simply wants to be a part of everything they do. The great thing is that the girls are more than happy to include Cece in their activities. I would have never imagined that after 8 boy grand kids this family would be blessed with 3 granddaughters in a row. It could not have worked out more perfectly, as these three are growing up to be very close.

We hoped that by the time we got home from Todd's brother's that he would be feeling better. Well, in fact he was worse which meant that I would be going to Christmas Eve service at church alone. I did at least think my Mother, Grandma and Uncle would be joining me which meant I would have help with the girls, but just as I was about to walk out the door my Mom called saying she had suddenly become ill. was off to church alone with the girls. Getting them dress and ready by myself was a bit of a challenge, but they were both very well behaved and did great through the Children's service.

After church it was off to the Wilhelm's annual Christmas Eve party. The only difference this year was that it was just me and the girls. We still had a nice time and made sure to make it home in plenty of time to put cookies out for Santa. Cecilia was exhausted from the day's activities, but Olivia was itching with excitement knowing that within hours Santa would be swinging by the house to hopefully leave the gifts she so desperately wanted. Needless to say, both girls went to sleep with very little persuading that night. Once the girls were resting soundly in their beds Santa (AKA...Mommy), got to work to make sure things were all set for the morning.

One thing I love about my girls is that they LOVE their sleep. There is no waking up at the crack of dawn to open presents. They wake up when they have gotten enough sleep and Olivia is always sure to come find us before heading down stairs. Todd woke up on Christmas morning feeling much better...thanks goodness! Once we were all up, we made our way down stairs to see what Santa had left behind. The look on Olivia's face shows just how excited she was that morning.

We had a nice relaxing morning at home opening presents and just taking in the wonderfulness of Christmas Day. Since my Mom was ill the day before we had no idea if we would be spending the day with her, like we do most years. The girls took their time opening their gifts and we soaked in every second of them enjoying Christmas morning.

By late morning my Mom called saying she felt much better. Her (less than) 24 hour "bug" seemed to have passed, which meant that we could get on with Christmas Day as planned. As if the girls hadn't already received enough presents at home they were about to get showered with even more gifts from their Nana.

The highlight of the morning was watching Cece with her new baby doll and baby bed, made with love by our family friend, Dennis. She may have initially thought the bed was meant for her, as she climbed right in and got cozy. I think it is pretty obvious what present was Cecilia's favorite on Christmas Day!

We finished the day at Todd's Mom's, with even more presents. By that evening we were simply exhausted. But even with all of the last minute sicknesses the Menors still managed to have a wonderful family Christmas. The entire holiday season was a blast for us and I was sad to see it come to an end. Between the visits to Santa, driving around looking at lights, spending time with family...the best part was seeing the joy in my girl's eyes as they created many Christmas memories together.

Within days of Christmas Cecilia turned 18 months old. I can hardly believe how much our little baby has grown. She is changing everyday and also making an early entrance into her "terrible twos". My Mom keeps telling me that her mini fits are her way of "finding herself" and "asserting her independence". I am just hoping that it is a phase that ends quickly. Even when throwing her fits she is still pretty cute. This may sound terrible, but right now she is the sweetest when sleeping. 

Lately she walks around saying, "Mama! Doing?" That is her incredibly cute way of asking me what I am doing. She doesn't ask just once. She asks over, and over and over again. One could say she is a nosey little thing. She has many words so I can usually figure out what she needs or wants. Sometime her version of a particular word is not what one would expect. For example, instead of asking for a banana, or saying "nana" like most babies, she has chosen to say, "mia". I have no idea where that word came from. It sounds nothing like banana, but as far as she is concerned she is asking for a banana. She may be working on her communication skills and figuring out who she is right now, but she is still as cute as a button. So I will put up with the crazy behavior for the time being. 

Friday, January 11, 2013

christmas prep

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas! OK,well Christmas may be over, but we sure had fun enjoying and preparing for the holiday. We took advantage of as many activities as we could with the girls, so they could experience all of the magic of the season.

We kicked things off by putting up our decorations. The girls each have their own little trees that they decorate. Olivia is an old pro at this point, so once she decorated her tree she helped her sister with hers. It did not take long for Olivia to get into full Christmas mode. She is at the peak of "believing" and loving all things Christmas. I am holding onto this part of her childhood for as long as I can because I realize, that in the not too distant future she is going to figure things out. Hopefully not for awhile though!

Another kick off to the holiday season is the Festival of Trees, an annual event that showcases professionally decorated Christmas trees and local entertainment. Olivia's dance studio participates each year and this year Olivia's little tap class was chosen to perform. This was an honor for Olivia as it is typically the older dancers that are picked to perform. Her dance was short and sweet, but simply adorable. Decked out in a pretty red dress and her shiny tap shoes, she went out on that big stage and danced her little heart out. I was very proud of her.

Each Christmas season we take a trip to our Botanical Gardens with one of Olivia's little friends from school. Olivia and Laurel have been friends since they were babies and over the years our families have done many fun things together. We visit the Botanical Garden with Laurel and her parents each year so the girls can see Santa, pet the reindeer and squeeze in some silliness in between. Well, lots of silliness actually.

We also use it as an opportunity to take some nice family photos of each other's families. Only problem with this year's photos is that Cecilia is not in them. The sweet girl was at home with my Mom taking a nap. She will definitely be included next year, before people start to think that Cecilia does not exist.

On the last day of school before Christmas break Olivia's school hosted their annual International Night. To prepare for the event each classroom studies a different country. They then decorate and have the parents help to make food that comes from that country. Upon arrival at International Night the kids receive passports. They then get stamps as they visit each country. My favorite part of this event is the food. Each year we leave with the fullest of bellies and having had a wonderful time.

Cecilia was right at home at Olivia's school with the tiny chair and tables. I think she will fit right in when she starts attending next year. Olivia was of course right at home with her friends and the teacher she has been with for four years now, Ms. Laura. Hard to believe that this is her last year with Ms. Laura. She will be moving up to a different classroom next year and it will be time to say goodbye to the special lady that has taught her so much in four years.

Of course part of getting ready for Christmas is making our annual visit to see Santa. This is Cecilia's second Christmas. Last year she was barely 6 months old. Now at 18 months we thought this year she may be a bit leery of the man with the white beard. We put the girls in their adorable little dresses and headed out to our favorite Santa spot. Cecilia could not have been more delightful upon seeing Santa. She kept waving to him and saying, "Hi, Santa!". When it was time to sit on his lap she hesitated at first, but then sat on his knee happily. I think having her sister right next to her helped. I was absolutely shocked at how well our Santa photo turned out this year. Both girls smiled and looked right at the camera. There were no tears or fears, and thanks to Olivia Santa was made aware of their Christmas wishes.

Now with all of our pre-Christmas activities checked off our list we were more than ready for Christmas to arrive. Olivia was literally counting the days, thanks to her advent calendar and Cecilia kept her excitement level high by running around the house pressing every button on our mechanical Christmas decorations.What I loved the most about the holidays was watching my two girls enjoy everything together. Their bond seems to be growing stronger by the day, and they are enjoying each other so much more now that Cecilia is able to play and interact with Olivia. They always get along and there is no lack of affection between them either. Cecilia will just walk up to her sister for no reason and give her a hug. Affection like that is priceless and just makes my heart melt. Everyone tells me that will change, but I don't think so. I think the age difference is big enough that there will be very little to argue about. I may be wrong, but right now my girls are getting along swimmingly!

Back in early November we had our annual family photos taken. Although it has nothing to do with Christmas I wanted to share some of the best shots from our outdoor, fall photo shoot. Our wonderful photographer, Kathryn Proto, once again did an amazing job capturing the delightful personalities of the girls. Olivia is a photographers dream. Not only is she extremely photogenic she also cooperates beautifully. Cecilia on the other hand is a tad more difficult of a subject. Getting a 17 month old to sit still and smile is near impossible.

I left our photo shoot that day thinking there was no way she was able to capture a decent shot of all four of us. Getting everyone to look at the camera, smile and keep their eyes open is a hard task. In all of the chaos our photographer found a way to capture a few great family shots. Don't know how she does it but she amazes me every time.

What really amazes me is how much Cecilia has advanced lately. My baby is now 18 months old and seems to be adding new words to her vocabulary daily. She can feed herself with her spoon and fork and listens to commands extremely well...most of the time! Her little personality just sparkles. It seems to be her main objective to get you to laugh and she will not give up until she has achieved that goal. Overall she is a ball of fun right now. If I had it my way I would freeze time and enjoy this stage of her life indefinitely. Since I cannot do that I better enjoy these remaining baby days while they are still around.