Sunday, December 19, 2010

Christmas Traditions

As a parent, the Christmas season seems to bring more excitement and more fun with each year. It's all so magical and is an excellent opportunity to create traditions and to incorporate special ones from your own childhood. Dan and I have talked about some of the things we loved as kids that we'd like to continue with Leah, and we've come up with some brand new ones to call our own as well.

One of my most favorite memories is making Christmas cookies with my mom and my sister. Mom would use her spritz cookie gun and shoot the cookie dough onto the pans, while Laurs and I decorated with food-colored sugar. Naturally, baking cookies with Leah around the holidays (and throughout the year!) is one of those traditions I want to continue. I mixed the food coloring with sugar, just like my mom used to, and let Leah go to town on our frosted sugar & gingerbread cookies. She had a blast, as did I. :)

One of the traditions Dan remembers fondly is receiving gifts not only from Santa, but from his favorite characters as well. He opened gifts that were from G.I. Joe or Superman. It all added to the magic of Christmas. So, this year, we decided to do the same for Leah. We ordered two small stuffed animals from The Wiggles website - Wags the Dog and Dorothy the Dinosaur. Rather than coming from Santa or from us, we decided The Wiggles should send those along with Santa for their big fan, Leah. Bolt also chose to send a stuffed Mittens and Rhino, as well. ;)

Another tradition I am continuing is letting Leah unwrap a gift from us on Christmas Eve: Christmas pajamas. But I'm adding a new one this year as well. Leah will also open an ornament from us. This year, it's Bolt. Her first favorite movie.

Since Dan and I have been married, he's created a couple lovely traditions that have remained: on Christmas morning, he lights some holiday candles and puts on Christmas music or a holiday movie in the background. At the end of the night on Christmas, he saves one last gift for each member of our family. It's funny, because he does this every year and yet, on the actual holiday, I always seem to forget and it is still a fun surprise. ;)

We figure this is the last year Leah will be sleeping in her crib, so next Christmas will be a bit trickier with her in a bed and having the freedom to get up. Dan and I are planning a new tradition of Santa putting presents under the tree in our family room, while the gifts from family will remain under the tree in the living room (which is right next to Leah's bedroom!). We hope this will save us from making too much noise on Christmas Eve. And we figure we can leave a trail of candy, or something similar, from the fireplace to the tree in the family room. But we have another whole year to figure this one out!

We have less than a week to go until this Christmas and I am so excited. As Leah gets older and more aware with each holiday season, I eagerly anticipate her reaction when she enters the living room on Christmas morning. We're having so much fun already and I know we have so much more to look forward to in future years.

I leave you with a few more photos of Christmas with a toddler. :)

Munching the freshly baked cookies:

Choosing a magnet for each day of the Advent calendar:

Ornaments that are clinging for dear life onto the tree:

And the Virgin Mary... on a Little People tractor?

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Christmas Parades

This past Saturday, Leah experienced her first and second Christmas parades. Two nearby towns were having theirs on the same day - one at 11am, the other at 4pm. It was such a fun day!

The first parade lasted almost a solid 90 minutes. Leah saw floats, horses, marching bands, dance troupes, old-fashioned cars, and Santa on a fire truck. Many of the floats were tossing candy to the kids on the side of the street, and boy, did Leah love that! Since we were there for awhile, I let her have several tootsie rolls and a couple dum dum lollipops. What a sugar high! By the last 15-20 minutes of the parade, she was so bubbly, talkative, and was dancing and jumping all over the place. It was hysterical!

The second parade was much shorter, as that town is smaller. By then, it had gotten colder and since it had been drizzling shortly before the start time, the crowd was small as well. Because of this, you should've seen the amount of candy Leah made out with! We collected more than on Halloween. It was incredible, especially since most of the candy throughout the two parades had been smaller items like tootsie rolls, peppermints, and dum dums.

I think it's safe to say Leah is enjoying this holiday season. ;)

Waving at the floats:

Sugar high ;)

Doing her best Captain Feathersword impersonation: "Ahoy there!"

Friday, December 3, 2010

Santa's Message to Leah

This has been going around Facebook in the past 24 hours with a lot of my mom friends and I had to try it out. It's so adorable! Leah is currently napping, but I can't wait for her to see it later today. :D

Santa's Message to Leah: