December was a whirlwind of a month.. The holidays are always busy so I wasn't surprised by the fact that we had a million different activities to pack in before Christmas. What I was surprised (and grateful) for was that we all managed to stay healthy (for the most part) through the holidays. Before we could officially get into the Christmas spirit we had to get the house decorated with all things Christmas.
In addition to our big, family tree the girls each have their own small trees to decorate. Olivia took this task very seriously, while Cece was preoccupied with the other decorations lying around and prancing around with no pants on.
Another kick off to the holiday season is the annual Festival of Trees at the beautiful Embassy Theatre. For the second year now Olivia has performed at this festival. This year Cecilia came along to cheer her sister on from the audience. She did a great job and looked so natural up on the beautiful Embassy stage.
After Olivia's performance we took time to look at the beautiful trees and swing by to say hi to Santa. Cece decided she was not quite ready to get up close and personal with Santa and choose to sit this one out. Olivia on the other hand was ready to get a head start on making sure Santa knew what she hoped to get for Christmas this year.
Over the years we have developed a bunch of fun, family Christmas traditions. One of them is taking a night to go downtown and see all of the lights. We have some pretty great displays in our town and the kids love them. My favorite part of taking the girls to see the lights is watching their faces light up. There's just nothing better!
Back in December Olivia and I tried something we have never done before...Cookies & Canvas. This new trend of mixing amateur painting with either snacks or wine seems to be gaining popularity, so when it was offered at Olivia's school we jumped at the chance to give it a try. Olivia and her friends had fun learning some basic painting techniques and putting their creativity to work.
To celebrate the holidays the girls both had special events at school. Cece's class had a fun little Christmas party that included cookie decorating, games and of course singing. Our independent little one choose to participate on a limited basis. I had my fingers crossed for a full on singing performance, but no such luck. She's a good little observer though.
Olivia's class put on a cute little holiday play called, "The Baker's Dozen". She was one of the narrators and she took her role very seriously. The class prepared for weeks and they were all so proud of their performances. I was pretty proud of the hard work my girl put into her part.
Christmas was quickly approaching which meant that we had to get over to see Santa. So we took our annual trip to our favorite little cottage to see the big guy. For many weeks Cece had expressed some trepidation leading up to sitting on Santa's lap. In fact she refused to have anything to do with him up until the moment she laid eyes on him. It wasn't until Santa took time to talk to her and make her feel comfortable did she even consider sitting on his lap. He asked her what she wanted for Christmas and offered her a candy cane and next thing we knew they were best buddies.The fact that she was willing to sit on Santa's lap made for one special sister Christmas photo!
It wouldn't be the Christmas season without a little cookie decorating. My Mom is a pretty good cookie decorator and she always makes time to decorate with Olivia. This year we thought Cece could give it a try. Cece's idea of decorating was to slap a little icing on a cookie and then take a bite. Can't expect much more from a 2 year old?
For many years we had a Christmas tradition of celebrating the holiday with our close friends, The Wilhelms. A few months ago they moved to Florida so this year we had to look to start a few new Christmas traditions. We miss Korrie, Tom and their boys but we kept part of our tradition going by celebrating with Korrie's Mom, Deb. The girls love her to death and consider her a 3rd Grandma...even calling her Nanny Deb. The girls prepared for the evening by wearing their matching jammies. I could hardly stand this dose of Christmas cuteness!
Nanny Deb always spoils the girls with very generous gifts. Cece was thrilled with her play kitchen accessories and Olivia was beyond pleased with getting Teen Beach Movie, which had been on her list for ages. Our pre-Christmas tradition with the Wilhelms may have changed a bit this year but still being able to celebrate with Nanny Deb helped to make things seem a little more like normal.
So with so many pre-Christmas activities under our belt the only thing left to do was to celebrate the holiday itself. It was a quiet Christmas Eve with only one small party to attend before heading off to church. Each year we participate in the children's service by carrying up a part of the nativity. This year, for the first time Olivia did a short reading during the service. She only had a few lines, but she had to stand up in front of a church full of people and speak loud and clear for all to hear. She did a great job! It was a very grown up thing for her to do.
In the past we would always head to our friends, The Wilhelms for their annual Christmas Eve party. But with them living in Florida now it was time to start a new Christmas Eve tradition. We kept it simple and went back to my Mom's for a dinner of appetizers and the opening of our stockings. The girls enjoyed opening some small gifties just hours before Santa's arrival.
Once the girls were tucked in their beds at home Todd and I got busy getting things ready for Christmas morning. It was a late night for us, but we have girls that don't get up at the crack of dawn on Christmas (thank goodness) so we enjoyed sleeping in a bit. They still woke up excited as ever to get downstairs and see what Santa left for them.
We had two happy little girls as they ripped through their gifts from Santa. Cece's wishes of getting a Lalaloopsy and a Halloween cookie came true, as did Olivia's wishes of a Nerf Rebel Crossbow, Crayola Marker Maker and Just Dance 2014. That Santa...he always come through!
The excitement continued as we opened our family gifts. Watching the girl's eyes light up with each little surprise was so fun. Cece was more interested in helping us open our gifts than focusing on her own. After tearing through countless packages there was one last gift to unveil, so we headed down to the basement for the big reveal.
Their faces, when they saw the trampoline said it all...and so did the fact that they immediately starting jumping like crazy. It was a great way to end a fun morning of present opening. They both were so happy that Santa granted their Christmas wishes, and that is all I needed to know that we created special Christmas memories for them.
It was time to create even more memories with Christmas #2 of the day at my Mom's. The present opening started all over again which was just fine with Cece. I think she helped us open all of our gifts when she wasn't busy opening her own.
There was one gift that really grabbed her attention and that was her new baby doll. Cece loves her dollies and each time she gets a new one she treats it as if it's her one and only. Both of them were very thankful to their Nana for all of their presents.
Our last stop of the day was at Todd's Mom's. The girls received even more wonderful gifts and were able to spend time with their cousins. We really could not have asked for a better Christmas holiday. The girls got to spend it with both of their Grandmas, as well as many other family members. We made it through Christmas without any major illnesses, which was a huge plus. Most importantly they spent whole day with huge smiles on their faces. Couldn't ask for much more than that.