Sunday, January 3, 2016

Christmas 2015

This Christmas season was a busy one. It seemed like the list of things to do or prepare for was never-ending. In addition to getting Jacob various presents for Secret Santa gifts, charity organizations I was in charge of assembling this New Year's Eve celebration gift basket for the fundraiser at the Cheer Winter Show. Of course I wasn't able to go to the show because it was my last night of school and I was doing a presentation and Jeff wasn't able to go because he was taking all the youth to the Mission Inn for mutual. (Having school to do during Christmas time made things more hectic too)

One of the fun things I was able to do was go on a field trip with Ashley's school to see A Christmas Carol with the 8th graders. 

I felt honored that the teacher requested me specifically to chaperon. Then I got there and realized that I was only one of 3 chaperons and I had my own bus of 50 kids to watch over. I was basically being used as an unpaid teacher (she had me even get a badge from the front office) ha ha, it's fine I enjoyed seeing the play and being with the kids. It was theater in the round in a small, intimate venue and all the students said "It wasn't what I expected" when I asked them how they liked it. They were expecting a big production. I thought they did a great job though.

Jeff and Taylor had their own holiday fun when an opportunity to go to a Laker Game came up last minute. 

They got to watch Kobe play for his last season. 

They had great seats and has some fun father/son time. 

This month I made cookies for the Relief Society activity and Cookie Exchange...I brought home a beautiful variety and all I got from the family was you have any plain chocolate chip?

Needless to say I didn't do a lot of holiday baking this year. 

In addition to celebrating Christmas we celebrated a few birthdays. 

Here was Kristen Thompson's 40th birthday celebration. 

And a lunch to celebrate Steve's birthday.

In addition to birthdays we ended up going to two Wedding Receptions right before Christmas. It was definitely the month for celebrations. 

We got the kids to come with us to Jeff's New York Life Christmas party for the first time in years...because they had it after kids were out of school. We made them pose with Santa...we were cracking up at Santa's beard that kept slipping. 

At least they got candy out of the deal ;)

I was laughing that they all wore grey to a Christmas party.

For Jeff's mom's Christmas gift we put together this collage of current family was kind of difficult to get them all from everyone but it was worth it. She liked it. 

The Stubb's family was in town visiting from Texas. We miss them! It was fun to see them at a giant park day and at dinner at Spaghetti Factory after Christmas.

As everyone was at the park we went out with Steve and Tahna and friends to a Christmas dinner and music show. They were talented performers and we had a great time. 

Thanks for the invite Steve. 

The next night was Christmas Eve. The kids got their Christmas Jammies and we ate our traditional dinner of Tamales that are given to us from Jeff's secretary and then I loved that the kids were hanging out together playing games (rare) just basking in the good feelings of the season. 

We were woken up bright and early the next morning by the kids.

Even Maddie was excited...she started nosing in her stocking for surprises. Thank goodness we got her some things otherwise she would've been very disappointed!

Thanks "Santa" 

This gift was from Jacob and Ashley (paid for mostly by us) because we had no clue that Taylor wanted one of these...but they did. 

Thanks Ashley

Thanks Jeff

These were the favorite. Ashley was the one that wanted them the most but the boys loved them once they tried them out. 

Now they are making laws about these. I guess enjoy them while you can before they're banned everywhere. (No fires yet ;)

All week as family and friends came over they got to try them too. 

After a little bit of enjoying presents it was time to clean them all up and get ready for Jeff's family to come over. 

We had a burned out light bulb that needed to be ladder needed when you have a rock climbing son. Thanks Taylor

We had about 30 people over for Christmas dinner and gift exchange. 

It was good to have everyone who came...some of them didn't know if they would be able to make it but most did and we were glad!

Even Great Grandma Smeltzer was able to come

We got to get to know Liesl's new husband Marcos too.

Jacob and Taylor were part of the cousin gift exchange and got to buy and get gifts for just themselves and then we do family gift exchanges for everyone else. 

I also ended up doing family calendars for the all the families with old and new pictures and they were a big hit. 

The next day we spent the day with my family to celebrate Christmas.

It was cold and windy up in Riverside but nice down in Oceanside. 

Afterwards we went to Joel and Virginia's to exchange gifts. 

Virginia put our gift in a gag box that looked like an extreme chores video game. We thought it was funny. It had things like rake the leave, change the cat box and do the dishes. Ha ha. 

Doing poppers or crackers...that was a new one for our kids. 

Robert's gag gift box was making candles out of your ear wax...gross ;)

On Monday Ashley got to do a sleepover with Soli and friends and then I went with them and Kristen Cowden to Sky Zone the next day with the girls. We were cracking up that all of them ended up wearing white shirts that day. 

Two days later we had Jenna over for a sleepover. The girls only get together about 3 or 4 times a year but they stay good friends. We say Daddy's Home at night and the next day I brought them to the mall and their plan was go to build a bear and make a bear that they would share...and they would rotate houses when they saw each other. 

Making the bear. 

You could tell they were a little shy to be there since they were older than all the other kids in the store. I asked them if it was going to be a girl or a boy and they said "We don't know so we're going to call it Bruce-Kaitlyn"   

The final stop at the mall was the pet store where they got to spend 10 minutes in heaven playing with a puppy. 

Ashley's repeated requests for another dog after this experience will probably make this a one and only experience. 

New Year's Eve we were all doing our own things. 

Ashley was at the New Year's church Dance with Jolene and had fun. 

Taylor was out with his friends and Jacob was out with his at a party that was a group of families.

So having no one to entertain we went to dinner and a movie with the Thompsons.

Jacob came home with this wad of Cash! He explained that at the family party he went to it was there yearly tradition to play a game where everyone puts 3 dollars in the middle of the table and they they play until the last person is still in and they get all the money. Jacob's first time and he got all the money. 

He said he felt bad as he's gathering up everyone's dollar bills...ha ha. 
(not enough to not take it though)

Happy New Year!

Thanksgiving 2015

A week before Thanksgiving the youth put on a Thanksgiving Feast for some of the older people in the ward. I had a committee of girls that worked on all aspects of it using it for a project for their Personal Progress Program. 

On the day of the dinner I had a few of them over to make homemade apple pies. 

The dinner turned out great and girls did a great job 

During the break Ashley had a friend over and they we did some Pinterest projects. I've realized Ashley can be crafty but it's on her terms...if I suggest it she doesn't want to do it. 

I thought Cassidy's rainbow version turned out the best!

Thanksgiving was at Jeff's mom's this year. 

It was our first holiday without Rueben and it was bittersweet. We were glad that we could all come up and keep her company. 

The little kid table. It's much so fun having some little ones at family things :)

Jarek and his family were down.

Jenise, Sean and Zander

Tahna and her two daughter-in-laws Vanessa and Darby

The happy newlyweds

Jenae and Vanessa

Lexi and Violet

The boys...Ryan, Jeff, Steve and Kenny

Taylor and Caden

Jacob and Taylor

Our favorite part of the day is playing games which usually end up being Mafia and Signs.

Our gracious host 

(we were so happy to be able to just come and enjoy and not have to host it)

The day after Thanksgiving we went down to San Diego to spend time with my side of the family. 

We started out meeting for lunch and then saying goodbye to Angela and Robert as they went with his family to celebrate another Thanksgiving dinner. 

After they left we went over to Balboa Park and walked around some. I always love Balboa Park. 

The rest of my family went to check in to the hotel and I went with Virginia and Joel's family to the museum of man. 

This was the craziest thing...a real life mummy with the skin and hair still in tact. I guess they found it locally and it was well preserved. 

Dean in the Egyptian room

We got back to the hotel just in time to see the beautiful sunset. 

That night we went to dinner and then saw the comedians from Last Comic Standing with Joel and Virginia.

The next day we went to Tijuana to see the new temple. It was the last weekend of the open house and we had quite a group going. 

We had us, Angela and Robert and Ian, Joel and Virginia and family, Michael Noel who flew in for the day for it and George Medina and his family and Brother-in-law and sister-in-law who were residents of Tijuana.

Being in multiple cars left us waiting for each other a few times. 

Worth the wait. 

The temple was just as beautiful inside as it was outside. 

Love my sisters, just wish all of them could be there. 

Afterward we went to a nearby taco shop that was recommended. Good food!

No pictures! They will love it when all the albums from this time period have pictures like this!

After lunch we went to the beach on Tijuana, ate fresh churros (the best) and walked to the border. 

Fun to stand in Mexico and have part of you in America. 
(The difference in the buildings from one side of the border to the other is crazy)

We made one more stop in Rosarita and Ashley saw this cute horse. The rest of the time was trying to find some of the group that got separated and then spending 3 hours or so trying to cross back over the border. (That was crazy)

This month I worked for a week at the holiday shop at Mark Twain and ended up selling a bunch of the crafts that I stockpiled all year. Nice for extra money at Christmas too.

The first week of December and the season of Christmas starts.

Jeff was out of town for business for a few days and so I was on my own. Ashley wanted to go to the Little People of America Christmas party. Since she was the only one who wanted to go we brought Cassidy along too. 

That night Ashley and I went to the Ward Christmas Party. (Both parties I brought food assignments)

Each table had gingerbread men to decorate. This was ours. 

This week Ashley also had to finish her Science Project. She did taste testing cookies with flavored frosting. She was testing if the color of the frosting affected how people though it tasted. 

The problem was we had 45-50 people she could use at Thanksgiving and we made all these cookies so she could have people taste test. She only asked like 6 people and the rest of these went into the trash and we had to remake the cookies later to be able to finish her experiment ;(

Will procrastinating teens ever learn???

At least it's done!