Illuminating Stella

Christmas 2015

We had a very wonderful Christmas this year. Lots of good times with family and friends. We missed my Aunt, Uncle and Cousin this year, as they spent the holiday in their new home in Utah. I also missed my sweet Grandmother Virginia, our first Christmas without her. Stella asked Santa Claus for a Cinderella dress, shoes and a crown and he sure did make her big dream come true. She also got a fun pony. She promptly named him “Harvest”. Not sure where that come from, but were going with it. Here are some of my favorite holiday moments in a loose chronological order.

Santa Pictures at the Gumtree in Hermosa Beach. I love this tradition as the proceeds go to charity and the setting is very pretty.  Will say though, the word is out and the line was quite loooooong.  My Sister and I have a little tradition going of putting our girls in matching dresses. I adored this years dress, a fancy red tutu dress with silver stars. It was a great buy at Target and so perfectly girly matched with silvery tights.

DentonMeredith

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We also enjoyed our second year attending the Tree Lighting Ceremony at the Colorado Lagoon. These floating trees are such a Long Beach holiday staple. I love driving by them the entire season. The association puts on a cute little event, mostly locals, hot cocoa, carols and then a countdown to the lights. These girls had fun being wacky. Here is a little article about the history of the trees. My best friend Michelle and fellow LBC neighbor actually gave us a cute little decoration resembling these special trees. Such a perfect and special gift.

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Picking out our christmas tree then decorating it. We had a little drama with the tree and some ornament harassment. I think we lost one or two ornaments this season. But compared to last year the several week christmas tree experience was way more enjoyable than last year. What a difference a year makes in toddler impulse control. We were totes ready to take down the tree by about day 3 last year.

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We did a super-fun holiday lights tour through Naples and Belmont Shore on a very cold night with our playgroup. We sat on the roof of a red double decker bus and froze a bit, but it was totally worth it for such a beautiful night of lights, music and cocoa. Stella thoroughly enjoyed herself.

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Stella’s three performances including her preschool concert, holiday dance show and singing in church with the preschool again. All three were such adorable performances. Stella was full of sass and charm and clearly loves being up on stage. She took a big exagerrated bow after each performance and then would sway her hips, cock her head and smile, just hysterical. I have no idea where she gets this. Maybe we’ve watched too many Shirley Temple videos.

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Our good friends Joy and Sophie came to town for the holidays. We’ve really enjoyed having fun with them, especially this trip to the Aquarium. Stella adores Sophie and Sophie is like an amazing older sister to her. It’s really rewarding watching your child play with the children of your dearest friends. Circle of life in full glory.

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We got to sneak in one little afternoon at Disneyland, thanks to my good friend Leslie. She dances in the parades at Disneyland and invited us last minute for a trip to watch the parade and take in all the wonderful holiday decorations. Stella loved hanging out with her buddy Rowan and his cute baby brother. Leslie even called in a favor and Santa said hello to each of them by name as the parade passed by. The kids were beyond thrilled.

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Stella’s playgroup got together to make care packages for the homeless. It was a great activity with the kids. We took a few kits to keep in the car and handed them out in the town one morning. Not sure how much was really absorbed by Stella, but I think it’s a good foundation for caring about others and understanding that there are people less fortunate than us.

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Christmas Eve we went to my sisters and had heavy appetizers, dessert, spirits, presents and made Gingerbread Houses. We decided not to do heavy dinners two nights in a row, which was a fun change. I actually worked a half-day that day. Not that I loved working the holiday so to speak, but I am very grateful for this part-time job and the good it’s bringing to our family, so weirdly I was happy to go into work. Matching outfits again here, courtesy of Gigi!

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Christmas morning was pretty special. Stella was very excited to head down the stairs and see what might be waiting for her. The horse that has come to be known as Harvest provided some pretty darling squeals of delight. Later on, she opened the much anticipated Cinderella dress and requested to immediately put it on. I’ve decided that next year I might go ahead and put on some mascara since I look quite like the “Ghost of Christmas Past” in all of the pictures. Anyway, it was a great time.

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For Christmas dinner we headed down to my parents and had a great Roast Beef Dinner my Dad made. A few more gifts and took some group photos. The girls got one last spin in their sparkly red dresses. Overall, a very Merry Christmas! We are truly blessed.

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Belmont Shore Christmas Parade 2015

We enjoyed another great year at the Belmont Shore Christmas Parade. This parade was John and my second date eight fast years ago. Hard to believe. This year we did the usual, dinner first at our friends house who live about a block away from the parade route, the guys headed over early and fought to claim our usual spot. My Sister’s family joined us right before the parade. The kids loved playing on their scooters before the parade started up and thoroughly enjoyed every minute. Lots of local schools and companies marched from preschools to Cal State Long Beach. We got to wave several friends down the path. A few times Stella and her cousins tried to join a marching band or group of cheerleaders passing by. It was easy for them to get carried away with the merriment. 56 tiny candy canes will get you a little too joyful. Here are some pictures of our night.

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Thanksgiving Holiday 2015

We had a pretty perfect Thanksgiving Holiday. My cousin CC came for a visit and Stella was thrilled to get some one on one time with her. We hiked the beautiful El Dorado Nature Center and then went out for dinner at one of our favorite neighborhood spots for Italian. We are really enjoying the cooler temps (finally). On Thursday, we had a wonderful dinner at my parents house with lots of family and some new friends. John carried on my Grandmother Virginia’s tradition and made a perfect cherry pie in her honor. This made me very thankful for him and his sentimental soul. Over the weekend, we also got some great family time at the park and John got to play with his new camera lens, getting some cute shots of our girl.

On Saturday we took a drive to a great little winery in Temecula, The Longshadow Ranch. We never even moved on from that winery as there was enough to keep us all happy for a few hours. There was a cute little playground, animals to feed, horses and lots of outdoorsy space for Stella to explore while we slowly worked our way thru a tasting. She had a blast playing with random kids while we sat nearby on the patio. The winery has a cool little punchcard system, so we could really take our time between pours, the wine was pretty decent too. We attempted to take some family pictures for our holiday card with a tri-pod and remote, pretty much a fail on that. Anyway, we will definitely go back with a picnic lunch sometime. Happy Thanksgiving, obviously, we have so much to be thankful for!

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