Well I made it through the Christmas season, it was busy, fun and tiring all rolled into one.
Saturday - my sister and her family arrived and the cousins were very excited to see each other. We rearranged the loft and had a sea of sleeping bags so they could all sleep together. I don't think there was too much sleeping going on that first night.
Sunday - I was off to my meetings while Jeff helped the kids get ready for church. Luckily I had saved a couple of pews up close because by the time they got to church the chapel was full.
After church we came home to relax and eat. I had the kids make a gingerbread house while I cooked dinner.
After dinner we wanted to hit a living nativity but when we drove out to it, it had closed early that day and we missed it by a ½ hour. We went to the mission Inn instead. We hadn’t seen the lights yet this year so it was fun to see them and then come home and make hot chocolate and hang out together watching funniest videos.
Monday we had planned legoland but since it was supposed to rain all day we chose to go to the Wild Animal Park since it was going to be free to get in. It was quite a wet drive down to San Diego. Since Jeff was at work at least we could all go in one car. Joel hung out in the back with the kids watching Spongebob and I got to sit and talk to Virginia. The park was all but deserted as it was pouring rain but the kids got to see some stuff. They had a pretty good attitude about the whole thing until we sat on the soggy tram (at least it stopped raining by this point) and then they started feeling it. We hiked up to see the elephants, which was fun and saw a bunch of wild deer that were roaming the area and jumping the fence out of the elephant enclosure and walking right by us.
Tuesday Jeff took the day off and we all headed out to Legoland. The rain had stopped even though it was still chilly the drive back down to San Diego was much better. Legoland was fun even though it's pricey, the lines were long and Joel thought the faded, peeling lego creations looked like they were done in the 70’s:), even though they are impressive. The kids had a lot of fun and the tame rollercoasters were just up the younger one's alley. The park closed at 5:00 so we didn’t have a long day there but we did enough of it to get a good taste of Legoland.
After Legoland we met Angela and Robert at the parking lot and went over to Pat and Oscars for dinner. Yum! Then all of us came back to our house. The boys played Jeff’s war game and the girls got to talk some.
Wednesday - was Christmas Eve and the night we planned for our big dinner. We didn’t have any plans to go anywhere so I spend the day wrapping, baking and doing all the last minute things I needed to do for Christmas. Angela and Robert, Joel and Virginia all had a good time just hanging out and talking. We all helped to make things for our big dinner and then we let the kids open their Christmas pj’s and had a little Christmas Eve Family Home evening. I had spent the morning hemming Ashley and Jacob's pajamas and I noticed that I forgot to attach the hem for Ashley's sleeves. Oh well.
Thursday – Christmas morning and the kids were instructed to not wake us up until 7:00. Sure enough at 7:00 we were all up, Angela and Robert had put their bed away and everyone was ready for presents. Christmas morning was bigger and crazier than normal but fun too. The highlight of the year was Rock Band and Guittar Hero World Tour. The adults all had fun playing too.
After lunch we split up. Angela and Robert were going to San Diego to spend the rest of Christmas with Robert's family and Joel and Virginia cam up to Palmdale to celebrate with Jeff's family and us. Palmdale was a wet, windy drive and we worried about getting back down the road before it snowed and they closed the roads. We had a quick Christmas, ate food and visited and was out of there in 3 hours (which is probably a record). It was fun to see all the family even though it was quick. Ashley’s favorite was the dogs and Jacob’s was learning how to skate with his skate shoes. There was snow on the road home but luckily it wasn’t really sticking and the drive home was smooth.
Friday - The day after Christmas and we let the kids hang out and play with their toys until about 3:00 or so when we packed up to head out to Camarillo where Angela and Robert live. Since they were moving into their house that day we stayed in a hotel to spare them more craziness. Robert recommended a great Chinese restaurant that we met them at and then we took the kids back to the hotel room and all the adults (minus Virginia who wanted more sleep) went to see a movie. Very fun.
Saturday - We met up with everyone and we headed up to check out Solvang. It's a quaint looking town that looks European. It's full of shops, windmills and authentic Danish restaurants. We ate lunch in one of them and sampled the Danish pastries called ableskivers which is like a bread like ball covered in rasberry preserves and powdered sugar. Yum. Before we left we stopped into the Hans Christian Anderson museum and bought a book of some of his famous fairy tales. I'm sure the kids will love to hear the story where the Little Mermaid turns into sea foam instead of marrying the prince.
About mid-afternoon we drove to Santa Barbara and checked out the Santa Barbara Mission. This mission orginally built in 1786 was the most modern looking one that I’d visited before, probably because they had renovated it, added on to it, and are still using it. There was a catholic mass going on while we were there and some of us walked in the back to listened to the end of it. The chapel was all decked out for Christmas and smelled strongly of incense. It was pretty cool to experience. There was also a nativity scene outside with live animals that the kids got a kick out of.
Sunday – we went to Angela's church and then came home to eat. In the afternoon we left to go to Hollywood since Joel and the kids had never seen it. When the kids saw Mann's Chinese theater at Legoland they wanted to know what it was, so we decided to go there on our way home. We took pictures with all the wacky people with homemade costumes. They all wanted to charge you a buck for a picture but what cracked us up was the horrible costumes. There was a scary looking homemade Mickey costume that would sit the kid down in front of him on a stool and then lean down for the picture but he looked like he was trying to bite their head off at the same time. There was also Barney with a faded head wearing a skull and cross bones shirt. Cute. This was optimus prime. Yes it was homemade too but he looked better.
Afterwards we drove up to a restaurant that had a great view of the city. It happened to be sunset and it was a nice lookout point. By this point it was getting too late to wait until we got home for dinner so after some debate we ended up going to Roscoe’s chicken and waffles. I have to admit Jeff and I weren’t overly excited about the whole chicken and waffle combo, but guess it’s an LA thing that we had to experience. Our family chickened out and ate our chicken and waffles separately, but I did take a few bites at the end and it wasn’t too bad.
Our favorite was daring the children to eat my collared greens. Ashley actually liked them in small bites, but Jared never did.
This was our last big family dinner. AAAAhhh. Angela and Robert left from there to go home and Joel and Virginia left the next day to go back up to Utah and pack up to return home to Seattle.
Today it's back to life as normal. I can tell the Christmas rush is wearing off. The kids have been fighting, cranky and restless. Ashley is in trouble for hitting the boys and Jacob is in trouble for pouring water all over Ashley's pillow and sheets because he was mad at her. Happy times, Happy times.