The holidays...my absolute favorite time of year. Not just because of all of the fun Christmas activities, but because of the sheer joy this time of year brings to the eyes of my girls. I think they smiled for the entire month of December, and I smiled watching them enjoy everything having to do with Christmas.
Nothing helps us to get in the spirit of the season than a little cookie decorating. Cecilia's babysitter invited the girls over to help make some yummy holiday treats. They also decorated cookies at my Mom's. Between the two there were lots of messy faces and enough yummy treats to last for weeks!
What says Christmas more than the Nutcracker? Olivia and her BFF, Aleah love to do things together any chance they get, so I thought it would be fun to have a girl's night out and take them to see the holiday themed ballet. Our Mom and daughter night out consisted of dinner followed by the show. The girls enjoyed the ballet, but were a bit restless at times. Once the show was over they were obsessed with getting pictures with some of the "stars" of the show. A few of our dancers from Northeast School of Dance were a part of the show, so it was fun seeing people we knew on stage. It was a fun holiday activity to do with the girls and I think we may make a tradition out of it.
The holidays would not be complete without our annual visit to see Santa. I was a bit nervous this year as Olivia was beginning to question Santa's validity. I am pleased to announce that Olivia still "believes". I can tell she is beginning to have doubts, but I can tell she wants to believe which is keeping the power of Santa alive for her. I am hoping her power to "believe" lasts a few more years, as I will be saddened the day she figures it all out.
Just like last year Cecilia was a bit unsure of Santa at first. In the weeks leading up to our official visit she informed me that she would not be sitting on his lap. I let her know that in order for Santa to know what she wanted for Christmas she would have to sit on his lap and tell him. When the time came she hopped right up there with a huge smile on her face. Not only did both girls look absolutely adorable as they told Santa all of their Christmas wishes, but Cece handled it with grace...well with giggles anyway. She would look at Santa and back at me and giggle nervously. It was hilarious! I think it was her coping mechanism and it seemed to work. Our annual Santa photo turned out to be our best yet. Huge smiles from both girls!
We try to do as many fun Christmas/Winter activities as we can around the holidays. This year we added ice skating to the list. To make it even more fun we went with our friend's the Douglasses. Cece sat this one out, as I felt ice skating with a 3 year old would be a bit stressful. But Olivia, Todd and I had a great time with The Douglass Family as we struggled to stay upright on the ice!
We all did surprisingly well on the ice and the kids had a blast together. It was an afternoon of laughs while trying something I haven't done in years! We rewarded ourselves with some pizza afterwards...well deserved, if you ask me!
I keep saying how much I love this time year, but that's because I truly do. I not only love all of the fun activities we get to do as a family, but I love the way this time of year makes us feel. There is a just a cozy, loving feel about the holidays that makes me smile. Sights like this sum up that feeling perfectly!
One of the girl's favorite Christmas movies is The Elf on the Shelf. We have our own elf, "Brickie" which our holidays revolve around. I spent night after night trying to come up with creative ways to "hide" Brickie or create cute little scenarios for our elf to get into. This year, more than any other they were both obsessed with our elf, as well as the adorable little movie that goes along with him. A favorite holiday memory of mine was watching my sweet girls snuggling on the floor watching their favorite holiday movie. To make this even sweeter they were snuggled up in their Elf on the Shelf jammies. Not sure it could get much cuter!
The anticipation of Christmas morning was building in our house, so the girls were pretty excited come Christmas Eve. We always attend the children's service at our church and help to bring up a part of the nativity. It's a fun service with lots of singing, and since it's the children's service they keep it pretty brief. Taking Cece to church can be a challenge, so brief is good. Once we were all dressed up for the evening I attempted to get a few nice pictures of the girls. Cece was not in the mood so the end result was a bit tragic.
After a very nice church service we went to my Mom's and I made a final effort to grab one nice Christmas family photo. Success!
Next up? Jammies and Christmas Even stockings. This is a new tradition we have recently started. It gives the girls something to open on Christmas Eve and makes things a little less hectic on Christmas Day. No surprise that Cece was the first to open her stocking. She couldn't wait to tear into all of her little goodies.
She then proceeded to open each and every one of our stockings. Olivia was not thrilled with this idea but she was a trooper and let her sister help out a bit. Cece didn't really care what she was opening as long as she was in charge. After the stockings were emptied it was time to get home and get the kids to bed so Santa could stop at our house.
Let me tell you how happy I am that my kids are not break of dawn risers on Christmas morning. We all sleep in before making our way downstairs together. Right in front of our fireplace are the presents that Santa leaves for the girls, which they see as soon as they come down the stairs. It was instant delight as they tore into their gifts.
This year it was all about Frozen for Cecilia. All she wanted was Frozen toys, which made things pretty easy for us considering the stores were lined with all things Frozen during the holidays. Santa delivered big time in the Frozen department!
Olivia's requests from Santa included Legos, crafts and a walking Panda. Santa came through for her as well, making her one happy girl. For most of the holiday season I fielded questions from Olivia about Santa's validity. I know that the time of "believing" may be coming to an end, but my heart hopes that is lasts for another year or two. Anything that puts that big of a smile on my girl's faces I would like to last forever!
Next it was time to open our family gifts under our family Christmas tree. The girls took turns opening their gifts and and just enjoying the moment. I tried to keep things a little more simple this year. We have a lot of "stuff"in our house and we often just get the girls "stuff" for Christmas because it feels like that is what you are supposed to do. This year we choose our gifts wisely and made sure only to get them things we felt they would really use and value.
After wrapping things up at home we headed to my Mom's for round 2 of gift opening. The attempted not to spoil the girls this year but that went out the window once walking into Nana's house. The Frozen theme continued for Cece with some great clothes and toys. Olivia's gifts were a bit more practical, but she is at the age now where she appreciates more grown up things.
Within a few minutes of opening gifts Cece announced to us that she was done with Christmas...in those exact words, in fact. I think the whole morning was a bit overwhelming, and after opening countless presents she decided she would much prefer to plant herself in front of the TV and watch one of her shows. It was a lot for her so we let her have a break while we continued with the present opening. She would pop into the room from time to time to tear through another present and then return to her private room of relaxation.
After the presents were open we spent some time relaxing and gearing up for the 3rd and final round of gift opening at Todd's Mom's house. It was a Menor family reunion and mass chaos of present opening, not to mention there were still stockings to opened at our house. By nightfall I had two very exhausted little girls that may not have wanted to open even one more present if they had the chance. It was a wonderful Christmas which helped me to remember just how blessed we are. We are lucky enough to have most of our family close to us, which makes celebrating this time of year even more special.
I think I say this every year...the holidays were fun but exhausting. I love nothing more than to see the joy this time of year brings to my kids, but I need 11 months to recover and prepare for Christmas 2015! Bring on boring and quiet January.