Willow turned 4 in October, which as she likes to tell us, immediately catapulted her to the ranks of "big girl". Although she likes to think of herself as a big girl, for us, this was really the year that she that she changed from being a toddler to being a little girl. It's hard to believe how fast our baby is growing up. She loves stories, demanding a Peagle the Seagull story at least three times a day. She switched to Our Beginnings daycare/preschool in Fremont near Jen's work early in the year after our nanny Miss Betty announced she was starting a school of her own. It turned out to be a good decision. The hours were much better, the food is nutritious and the school is trying really hard to live the Reggio Emilia teaching philosophy. Although, Willow seemed to make the transition seamlessly, I think it has been hard for her to form the sort of friendships she had with some of the girls from her first daycare (Alice and Eva). Willow did gymnastics, soccer, swimming and ballet at various times this year--all on Friday. She really seemed to take to swimming this year but then sort of lost interest toward the end of the summer. Sustaining her interest is difficult for more than a few months. She is getting bigger and bigger, and sometimes doesn't realize her own strength. But, she still loves being picked up ("uppy") and often wants to be cheek to cheek, making it difficult for the person carrying her to see where they are going.
Our newly minted "big girl" shared a birthday party with three friends from her class who all had birthdays within one day of each other. Jen put on her baker's hat and created a massive cake complete with three princesses and a castle. The girls celebrated (a week before her actual birthday due to scheduling issues with the other parents) with their classmates at Little Gym, the site of one of Willow's gymnastics classes. Not long after the birthday celebration, we headed out for a 7 day sailing charter in Belize with Grandma Bonnie and Grandpa Elliott. To celebrate Willow's actual birthday, Jen carried cupcakes all the way to Belize; they melted about two seconds after being exposed to the humid tropical climate. Despite some wild weather, we had a wonderful time watching Willow fearlessly take to snorkeling. Despite a rather traumatic jellyfish sting, she jumped right back into the water the next day. We came back to Seattle just in time for Halloween. Willow dressed as a witch (but not the scary kind). In early November, we headed down to LA for the Breeder's Cup with Jen's family and a visit with Jake's cousin Jane her husband Jordan and their daughter Sydney. Thanksgiv-makuh, we spent we with Grandpa Elliott here in Seattle, enjoying our traditional cranberries 3-ways and an excellent turkey on the grill. In December, we enjoyed a trip down to Santa Barbara to visit Jen's college roommate and her family. The trip included a children's Christmas party where Santa arrived via helicopter, making reindeer seem much less interesting! Breaking with tradition, we are heading off to Loreto, Mexico for Christmas and New Year's with Jen's parents and Uncle Joe. Instead of egg nog, we'll raise a margarita to welcome the new year. All the best to you and yours in 2014--happy holidays!