Christmas time is the best time! So many fun things to do and enjoy with the kids. We have our favorite traditions and we try to squeeze them all in each year. One of our favorites is visiting the downtown Santa lights and stopping for dinner at Coney Island. The lights always amaze no matter how many times we see them, and although I am not a coney dog fan the rest of the fam sure enjoys them!
Visiting the Botanical Conservatory each year at Christmas time is a must for us! Not only is it decorated beautifully for the holidays, it gives us a chance to test out another Santa before the official Santa visit each year. Cece was not too thrilled about this Santa and chose to stand next to him while Olivia sat on his lap. At least this one did not make her cry. Now we just need to hope she will sit on the official Santa's lap when it's time for our annual "official" picture.
Another reason we love to visit the Botanical Conservatory is because they have live reindeer on display each year. This was Cece's first year seeing the reindeer, and I knew she would love them. The thought that these could possibly be the reindeer that help Santa fly his sleigh thrilled her to pieces!
A few weeks before Christmas Olivia's class took a trip to see the Nutcracker and I offered to chaperone. The local ballet puts on an abbreviated version for the schools and also give the kids a behind the scenes look at the show. With Olivia's love of dance she was right in her element and loved the performance.
With a few "practice" Santa visits under our belt, it was now time for the official visit and annual Santa picture. With Cece's reluctance to get anywhere near Santa to this point I assumed that we were in for a challenge. Although she did inform us that she liked the Santa that gave out candy canes and as long as her sister was with her she would talk to him. She was timid at first but with some encouraging words from Olivia she hopped up right next to Santa and very quietly shared her Christmas wishes with him. All of my worry about getting a good Santa picture with the girls was for nothing. Pretty smiles, pretty girls!
Cece has been spending this year adjusting to her new school...Maple Ridge Academy. The first half of the year has been great so far. She loves her school and has made some nice little friends. Right before Christmas break her school put on a small Christmas program. I was so proud watching her up on the stage singing her songs and performing her little heart out. A few months ago she would have never stood up there without me by her side. A sure sign she is growing up!
With Christmas quickly approaching we wanted to be sure to squeeze in as many fun activities as possible. One thing on our list was to take a downtown carriage ride to see all of the lights. We made our reservation and brought along Olivia's bestie, Aleah for the night. After some yummy pizza at Clara's Pizza King we headed downtown to catch our horse drawn carriage. It was a chilly night but we were all bundled up as we rode around the city. It was a fun night creating more Christmas memories!
All of the fun Christmas activities finally lead up to what the girls were waiting for...Christmas Eve! It was a relaxing day around the house until the evening when we prepared to head to the children's service at church. The girls looked so cute in their fancy Christmas dresses. Cece had been waiting all day to put hers on.
Once we arrived at church Olivia had to prepare for the service. She was not only doing a reading but she was also dressing up as an angel for one of the lessons. This is such a fun service for the kids and I love that Olivia is able to participate each year. I am sure within the next year or two Cecilia will be able to be a part of it as well.
After church we headed to my Mom's for a bite to eat and so the girls could open their stockings. This is a newer tradition that we started so that we could space out all of the gift opening over a couple of days. Christmas is a whirlwind of a day and it can be overwhelming. The girls are always itching to open something on Christmas Eve anyway, so this is the perfect way to satisfy that request.
It was straight to bed when we got home so that Santa could have plenty of time to visit our house during the night. On this rare occasion I received no resistance about going straight to bed. After a good night's sleep both girls were up and ready to dash down stairs to see if Santa granted their Christmas wishes. It's clear to see that they were more than pleased with their gifts. Once again, Santa did good!
The gift giving continued as we opened our family gifts. We kept it simple as we knew the girls would still be receiving a ton of gifts from both of their grandmas that day. Todd and I were super excited to present the girls with their "big gift", a lego table that we made for them. A friend of ours had made one of these so that their daughter could play with all of her legos at one time and we thought it would be a fun thing for the girls to play with together. It was simple, easy to make and very inexpensive. It was a fun Christmas morning with our sweeties!
Next we were off to my Mom's to do it all again! Nana tends to spoil the girls each year, but she claims it is just too hard not to. I will admit, it's a lot of gifts, but nothing is better than watching the joy in their eyes as they rip through their packages.
I just love spending this day with my family. It is the one day of the year that just feels different than all of the rest. There are no other obligations, no worries, just spending time together.
We wrapped up Christmas Day at Todd's Mom's house. This was our third round of opening presents so we were starting to get a little tuckered out, but the girls managed to pull through. I mean, do you ever really get tired of opening presents?
It was an amazing Christmas Day and holiday season. I think we were able to do all of the fun, festive activities we wanted to do with the girls. We love our annual traditions and look forward to doing them all again next year!