hanging out in Calif, Christmas 2010

For the past month we've been on the road...or in the air. We left the week before Thanksgiving and flew to California where we hung out with Willards and Sumans and then drove to St. George for the Willard Reunion/Thanksgiving and came back to Calif. From there Casey and I left the kids with their grandparents and flew to Singapore and Bali for two weeks (Casey had to go to Singapore for work, so I tagged along. And hey, while you're in the area, you may as well swing by Indonesia, right?). And eventually after another weekend in Calif, we flew back to Texas where it was sunny and 73 degrees. It was a wonderful welcome home gift, since it had been raining non-stop when we left California.

The Asia pics will come in a different post but in the mean time, here's what we did on and off in California for most of December.

Lucy and Owen loved playing at Grandma's house. Lucy tried out the new Fancy Nancy boa and picked out this fancy outfit (and the pose) herself.
Casey and his dad had fun talking about politics, religion, business, and putting together the vintage doll highchair we took apart and stuffed in our suitcases as a gift for Grandma. Nice job boys!
Both kids loved Grandma's "rainbow" tree. Owen asked if we could have a colorful tree next year. It's just so fun to look at.
And Owen's absolute favorite thing of our entire vacation (actually, it's more of an obsession) was playing with the Billy Bass fish. When Parry showed it to him a year ago, he was frightened. But this time around he could not get enough. We were all so sick of hearing "Don't worry, be happy" and "Take me to the River" but Owen was in heaven. He even took the fish to bed with him.
Of course traveling to the old stomping grounds means you get to all your favorite foods. My mom made pumpkin pie and I finally got my daily breakfast fix.
We hit up Trader Joes a few times,
mmmm, Asiago bagel with Veggie Cream cheese.....
I frequented this place a couple times. And of course we hit up Cafe Rio, In N out, and Tito's Tacos...multiple times.
We tried to make Christmas ornaments from Jolly Ranchers.
They sort of worked.
The kids got to play with their cousins and Mere Pere.
Leah and Owen on the swing that Eric made. I need to commission Casey to make one for our yard too.
And Lucy got to hang out with her cousin Ava for hours and hours. They were just adorable, really loved being together, and had so much fun.
We went to the Orange County Mormon Choral Organization concert at the Performing Arts Center and it was amazing. Eric has been part of the choir for two years now and we were impressed to hear the beautiful music and be in the gorgeous concert hall. We ate at Baja fish tacos beforehand and ran into my Uncle Randy, his wife Paula, and Liz Smith. So it was a happening night.
In the words of Casey, "that concert may have made my Christmas!" It was very well done.
We did a bunch of shopping,
and I bought way too many things at H&M. I'm now the out-of-towner who needs to buy everything in sight since I'm not sure when I'll see the store again.
We played on Gram's and Grandma's pianos and conducted music.
All the kids played with the little village, rearranging the little figures and having funny conversations.
Gram was so patient each time I came to her with a broken foot or head. She'd simply glued them back on and let the kids continue playing.
My mom did all sorts of baking for parties and for us.
Mmmm. Gingerbread softies (I posted the recipe here).
Meredith was an excellent model.
We got to play with Jeremy and his friend Savannah (sadly she's not in the picture) almost every day after school. They were both so adorable with the kids....like free babysitters! Savannah played pretend school with the kids and taught Lucy math and about understanding object patterns. And Jeremy was so sweet to go along with whatever the little kids were doing, even though I'm sure it was pretty boring for him since he's 4 years older. Thanks Jer!
Papa had a great time holding the babes.
I took some random modeling pics for Mere but we never got around to taking more. I flew out of town and then it kept raining non-stop. In the summer Mere.
And a Christmas would not be complete with a Follow The Star performance at my parent's church.
The production is very well done, professional, with live animals, actors, and impressive lighting. It's all held outdoors at night and inside the church is an amazing Creche display. You can see my photo post about the many nativity scenes here.
My Dad plays the same wiseman every year, for every performance throughout the weekend. And somehow Casey always gets wrangled in to playing one as well. Not sure if he likes it or not but he's a good sport and looks great in a turban.
Lucy also got to participate in the show, as one of the Christmas decorating kids in the first scene with Savannah and Jeremy.
Meredith was the angel and did a fabulous job. Later on Christmas Eve, Lucy got to be an angel in a small nativity reading with did with our TX friends and she was trying to copying the same arm movements she saw Mere doing. It was really cute.
Beautiful depiction of that holy night.
and finally.....
Casey and I drove to LAX and exited the scene for two weeks. But more on that later...
Back at home, Owen hung out with Grandma and Grandpa and continued to play with the fish. And Lucy went down to Gram's house to play with Ava and Jeremy.
We all joined up together for my mom's Christmas party where there were plenty of treats,
and lots of cute kids dressed in costumes that my mom had spent all month making.
These girls were darling in some sparkly ruffled scarves we made.
And on Sunday night we had a yummy dinner at Eric and Laura's house. Their place looked so beautiful decorated with sparkly Christmas decor. My pics of the night are pretty bad but the cute kiddos are still the same.
Funny pic. I was just testing my settings but I like Mere's smile.
A slightly better pic, with a few chopped off heads.
And for most of the night Ava and Lucy sat here playing with a little nativity scene.
We flew out of California on very, very rainy Monday (and oddly enough, it rained the whole time we were there in July as well. I guess California hates us. We didn't make a single trip to the beach!). But thankfully we were welcomed home to lovely weather in Texas and a beautiful full moon--it was the night of the cool lunar eclipse (check out that 30 second video link. It's really neat).
And we immediately went to dinner at our favorite Texas BBQ stop, Rudys. Yum yum yum.
Thanks Calif for a fun trip! We loved seeing everyone, playing, and hanging out. See you in the summer!


Nicole said...

FUN recap of Cali. You guys had a lot of fun with family! I love all the fun festive things you did. The kids look so cute. I love Owen with the fish. Glad you are home safe and sound. A month is a long time to live out of a suitcase, you guys are troopers!

Jesslyn said...

1 - Asiago w/ Veggie Cream cheese is my favorite combo as well.
2 - seeing Casey in the Wise Man beard totally made me think of Casey in the Hobbit beard for the music videos done before Q's mission. What a memory! My favorite part is when he comes "flying" into view from off-camera to body slam Quentin. Hilarious.

Southwick Family said...

Dana what a fun Christmas! I love baking parties with grandma... and Casey does look awesome as a wiseman. What a fun family tradition. Looking forward to seeing your Singapore/Bali pics!

Terry Hummel said...

Wow! That is quite a depiction of your amazing trip! Thank you for taking the time to post and all the great pictures.

Kam Belly Soup said...

looks like a lot of fun. sad when cousins have to say goodbye. i cant believe that billy bass fish still works. those are so 90s

Robyn said...

mmmmmm...Tito's. And you had me at H&M.

Becky said...

wow - what a very, very full trip. I'm so jealous that you and the hubby got away - can't wait to hear more. Looks like the nativity play didn't get rained out at least, it did rain A LOT here this month. I read this morning it's been the second wettest Dec. since 1905.

Erik Isakson said...

We were seriously just about to go to the RSM live nativity event but at the last minute decided not to. If we would have known Casey was a featured wise man we would have been there on the front row! Looks like you guys had a fun time out here.

Wendi said...

It was fun seeing you guys! Can't wait to see pics from your trip:)

Lara said...

Oh my goodness Dana! What a cute blog! I loved seeing pics of your adorable family. Your photography is amazing as well. Looks like you guys have been nice and busy. Happy New year!

Jean said...

What a perfect trip (except for the rain, but oh well). You guys always have so much fun with your fams!!! I am cracking up that Owen liked the singing fish so much. LOL!