Friday, December 21, 2012


We kind of love Christmas around here.  It's hard not to with the excitement of little girls, Christmas Magic, and holiday surprises.  Even though we seem to be running from morning to night to get everything done (decorations, Christmas concerts, holiday events, gift giving), when we finally sit down and cozy up next to the fire with our favorite Christmas books and hot cocoa, it's impossible not to cherish this season.  

Now that I've painted such a lovely picture of life around our house in December, I will now admit to some possibly poor parenting choices....

Like the time Jason and I let the girls watch Disney movies for 8 hours while we got our Griswold on putting up our Christmas lights.  

When left to fend for themselves the girls may also have eaten donuts and energy bars for lunch.  That's balanced, right?  

Please tell me allowing this once a year won't hurt ones children too much...

...because they sure were happy about the lights!

Poor parenting choice number 2:  Ones greed over finding a super tall Christmas tree may take ones family into dangerous uncharted tree farm territory.  

I've been on the lookout for a tall, thin tree (about 11 ft) for the last several years, since we moved into this house.  Having no success at our usual tree farm I asked for suggestions from my friends and was pointed in this direction.

We certainly weren't disappointed with the size of the trees.  They towered over us! - and around us, to the point we couldn't maneuver our way through the forest without getting slapped in the face by branches and sticker bushes.  Did I mention everything was soaking wet?  It was.  Did I mention there were tears?  There were.

That's when we decided to abandon our children when we came to this small clearing.

They seemed happy enough as Jason and I forged ahead through the woods, determined to find the perfect Christmas tree.

Don't worry, we kept them in voice and jacket range.  (What does this mean? - when you can hear them laughing and see a flash of white coat every now and then.)

Then, we found it.  Our super tall, thin Christmas tree.  Now, here is the third poor choice I made:  I listened to my husband, who assured me, "Yes, we have plenty of space for a 14 foot tree."  
Me:  "Are you sure?  I really think we only have room for 11 feet."  
Him:  "Yes, I'm sure.  Trust me."

I trusted him.  We had to cut three feet (the pretty part) off the bottom of the tree.  It serves me right.  Who else would listen to this guy?

I guess it turned out okay, although it's probably the funkiest looking tree we've ever put up.

One chilly day we headed down to Snowflake Lane in Bellevue to watch the live drum and lights show.  The girls had so much fun!  Especially when it started to snow.  Poor kid choice? - tasting the snow that turned out to be soapy bubbles.

Hot chocolate and treats after the show made eating soap worth it though.

A few nights later Isabelle sang in her school's music program.

And a few nights after that Madeleine sang in her program, after a quick visit with Santa.

Concentrating while praying is very important to Maddy.

So is giving an affirming thumbs up sign to Daddy.

Just like everyone else in the country, we have our very own elf living with us, 

we're doing a lot of baking, 

and we truly are drinking a LOT of hot cocoa...

...with extra marshmallows.

We are thankful for each day together.  May your Christmas be merry, bright, and full of happiness!  

Sunday, November 18, 2012

The Most Special Party of the Year

Once a year Isabelle's dance team has a fantastic slumber party for the whole company - the little girls and big girls together  for a special bonding night.  This is only Isabelle's second year on the team but she's been looking forward to this party since the morning after last years.  It's that wonderful!  This year the theme was "Holiday" and the girls were supposed to come dressed in their holiday best.

Isabelle couldn't wait to get out the door!

 The girls were sequestered in the studio lobby while the grown-ups brought in all their slumber party supplies.  Volunteers had worked all day transforming each room of the studio into a different holiday theme.  

The first stop was the Christmas room.

There were lots of crafts to do, like decorating Christmas sweaters and making scarves.

Fabulous treats - even the frosting cups were color coordinated and made to look cute!

Santa was there too! On a side note, this is the first time Isabelle has come within a two foot radius of Santa without crying ever.  Like, EVER!  Thank you peer pressure!

Go Minis!

Can we get back to the treats for a minute?  Hot chocolate station with marshmallows and whipped cream?  Check!

More crafts...

...and then it was on to dinner in the Cinco de Mayo room.  

Taco bar and non-alcoholic margaritas. :)

After dinner there was dessert in the Halloween room.

Could anything look more magical?

The highlight of the evening was when the girls were paired up with their big/little sister.  After going on a scavenger hunt to find a present with their name on it they went back to the Christmas room to open their gift.  They then had to find the girl with the matching item.   

This year Isabelle was delighted to be paired with lovely Emily.

Then it was time to get to know each other better with a "favorites" questionnaire.  It will be fun putting together little surprises and treats for Emily this season.

Bigs and littles mingling.

The party really got going in the Chinese New Year room.

Then the girls split back into their teams for a tree decorating/present wrapping relay race.

Let's just say this wasn't a race the minis were meant to win, but they sure did try hard!

Then, close to midnight, the girls cuddled up with their new big/little sister and they watched all the different teams perform their competition dances for the year.  It was AMAZING!  
Best. Dance. Studio. Ever.

But, even though the dancers are amazing and have been taught so well, the thing I love most about our studio is how much the teachers care for these girls.  And, it doesn't just show on an evening like this when they've gone way above and beyond what is necessary or expected.  Every day I see them encouraging each girl to be great at dancing, but also to be great people.

I'm so thankful, I don't even have my feelings hurt when I overhear a conversation between my girls that goes something like this:

Isabelle (discussing Miss Amy and Miss Tricia):  "You know Maddy, Mommy is a teacher too."

Maddy:  "Yes, but she's just a plain teacher, not a dance teacher."

Isabelle:  "Huh, you're right.  She is just a plain teacher.  I really like dance teachers."