The rest of our Christmas celebration continued with so much merriment I felt I had to post some more pics. For Christmas Santa brought Stella a play kitchen (as she requested every time she met Santa this season) and she has been playing short-order cook ever since. Her other favorite gift was her own “make-up bag”. She’s been obsessed with my make-up bag for months, so this present has delighted her a lot. She also got four adorable hand-sewn “princess dresses” from John’s mother. Just the cutest. We had wonderful dinners at my parents for Christmas Eve and my Sister’s for Christmas Day. I actually made the little girls a “Frozen” Trifle to share, which seemed to delight them. Thanks to the blue cake mix that caught my eye at Target and inspired me. I also kept forgetting to order a nice stocking with Stella’s name stitched on it, so last-minute we decided to let her pick one out and we got this very “classy” Anna stocking to hang with our more traditional ones.
We incorporated a few new events this year that might just have to become family traditions for years to come. We visited Candy Cane Lane in the Southbay with my Sister and some good friends. The kids loved being able to run the length of the holiday light-filled street and then Santa was waiting at the end for them. We also saw a wonderful neighborhood Marionette show in Lakewood. This talented puppeteer literally does the show on a stage in his driveway every night for the weeks leading up to Christmas, Stella absolutely loved the show. The day after Christmas we drove out to the historic Mission Inn in Riverside to check out the festival of lights. Though the event is a bit crowded, the hotel is amazing and John and I have decided we want our next romantic getaway to be there. Perhaps for our upcoming anniversary if the stars align. But my favorite thing the whole season was watching Stella sing in her Preschool Christmas Pageant. It was so adorable, she was front and center, singing loudly, doing all the gestures, absolutely loving being on stage. Even more amazing was her sitting like a little angel in the pews for the twenty minutes before the show started and then in-between musical numbers. John and I kept wondering….who is this well-behaved toddler? A true Christmas Miracle.
Eating: Trader Joes Dark Chocolate Mint Stars. My Sister was kind enough to inform me of their existence. So I had to get them. It’s for the best they won’t be available much longer. Trader Joe’s has a ridiculous amount of yummy things to pick from at the holidays.
Reading: My book club just met to discuss our December book, The Hundred-Year House. Ultimately, a great read and story, though I wanted more about some characters and less of others. We are starting a parenting book next, All Joy and No Fun: The Paradox of Modern Parenthood. Should be an interesting change and I know our book club will have yet another great conversation about this book. So glad to have my book club to look forward to every month!
Listening to: Stella singing Christmas Carols. We get two opportunities to hear her sing with her preschool class this holiday season. Last week she sang in church. It was adorable, she was front and center, singing and doing all the movements, very confident and happy. We even were tracked down after the service by a couple who wanted us to know that Stella was their favorite performer. Such a fun compliment, she was our favorite performer too. Listening to her practice the songs is better than any Christmas present.
Watching: Top Chef. It’s one show that John and I can always agree on. We are enjoying the Boston season. Over Padma Lakshmi but we still both adore Gail Simmons and Tom Colicchio and like the addition of Richard Blais as a judge. Sometimes John’s dinners are so good, I tell him he could compete on Top Chef. He laughs that off, as we both know his head would explode from the drama and pressure.
Obsessing Over: H&M kids clothes. We recently went to get a few Christmas gifts and cleaned up on the sale rack for Stella. All of the outfits she’s wearing in this post are from H&M. Also her adorable Christmas Dress (bought earlier). The prices are pretty reasonable to begin with, but marked down on sale, it’s practically free, though somehow the bill said more like $100. Lol. Honestly, the blue sweater was $10 and the pink dress was $7, I mean really!
Loving: Stella has been watching the movie Annie a lot lately. The 1982 classic with Carol Burnett, who was by the way so genius as Miss Hannigan. Not sure I appreciated it as a kid, when she was just scary. Anyway, Stella has taken to the movie with great affection, which totally pleases me. Annie was a huge deal when I was a kid. My Sister and I pretended to be orphans living a hard-knock life for years and years. I’ve been singing a few of the Annie songs to Stella since she was a baby (of course they are some of the few I can recall most of the lyrics). I pointed out to Stella that she has curly hair like Annie, so now every time the movie starts she says, “Look Mama, Annie has curly hair like me”, with such a big grin.
Celebrating: Christmas almost every day. We have a homemade Advent Calendar with numbered corresponding boxes that I handmade (yes, literally folded boxes for hours with my Mom’s group, thank God for the wine). Each box has a sticker or piece of chocolate and a letter of the alphabet. Honestly, I am not sure Stella gets it and she was totally pissed that after getting a chocolate the first day, there wasn’t chocolate in the second box. Bah humbug! Can’t believe we are less than a week out from the 25th!
We have been celebrating Christmas with even more gusto than we celebrated Halloween. Fa la la infinity! So far Stella has seen Santa Claus in the flesh numerous times, including our 2nd annual trip to the GumTree in Hermosa Beach for her official Santa Picture (see above, much better then the major meltdown last year). He also visited her school today, which she was very excited about. We have been to a holiday sing-along party and a toddler craft party where she made Christmas gift-tags. We also attended a very cool tree lighting ceremony at the Colorado Lagoon the Friday after Thanksgiving. That one might have to be a new annual engagement too.
Last Saturday was the Belmont Shore Christmas Parade. This is my favorite local tradition. The parade was John and my 2nd date seven short years ago. Stella had an absolute blast, she loved the cheerleaders, the dogs, the candy canes being tossed her way from the floats passing by, the parade princesses riding in the back of convertibles, Santa Claus….just all of it. It was a great night we enjoyed with some of our best friends.
Sunday we put up our Christmas decorations and took Stella to pick out a tree which she thoroughly enjoyed outfitting with ornaments. She has been decorating and undecorating it over and over since then, driving us nuts to be honest. Last night we took a walk with our playgroup through the canals in Naples, where the holiday lights are bountiful and it’s so peaceful to walk along the water with no cars. Stella has a huge appreciation for lights and decorations this year, so we will continue to try and dazzle her while it’s readily available. It’s going to be hard to explain when everything disappears. We have so many more events over the next few weeks, but here are some photos of the celebration thus far.