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.