Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas Traditions...

Every year we go into San Francisco a few days before Christmas to see the Macy's windows at Union Square and the kids each pick out an ornament to add to their collection that they'll eventually take with them. This year we stayed the night and had a lot more time to wander around the city.
We had dinner at the Cheesecake Factory...after an hour and half wait that Alaina was especially grateful for since we spent it shopping!
We went to the St. Francis Hotel and saw the most incredible gingerbread house! It weighs over 1,000 pounds and is 100% edible. It was amazing. In the morning, we went to Golden Gate Park with the goal being to visit the California Academy of Science. But after 45 minutes of looking for a parking place, we finally had to take a spot about a mile and half away (according to our navigation system)! That should have been our first clue. When we made it to the museum, we noticed a huge crowd that wound around the front, down the stairs, past the bus stop, and beyond. Then we saw the ticket line. Just a few minutes later, a voice came over the PA and said there was going to be a 3 hour wait because the museum was filled to capacity and that all of the IMAX and planetarium tickets for the day had been sold! So, we got brave and went across the street to the De Young Museum of Art. We all really enjoyed it, even Ryan! When it was time to eat lunch, the line for the cafeteria was out the door, so we ended up coming back to Walnut Creek and eating at 3pm.
So, how bad can the economy be if we had to wait in line at Old Navy for an hour, wait 1 1/2 hours for The Cheesecake Factory, have to park 1 1/2 miles away, have a 3 hour wait for a museum, and have to drive all the way home for lunch because the cafeteria is too crowded?!
We always spend Christmas Eve at the Visitors Center on the Oakland Temple grounds. We watch the Nativity story from Luke 2 and wander around the great exhibits.
The grounds are so beautifully lit up for the whole Christmas season. It is wonderful to bring the family here the night before Santa we can keep things in perspective and remind the kids of the true meaning of Christmas.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Christmas Pictures Again, Already?!

This is it! Everyone is sort of smiling and generally looking happy to be together.

When my brother and his wife were here for Thanksgiving, we decided to have them take our Christmas picture. I wanted to do it in the treehouse, but the sun wasn't cooperating and all of the pictures looked so dark (thank goodness for digital cameras, so I could see the pictures first) so we went to the other side and Brian took about 45 pictures in total (again, I am grateful for digital cameras!).
This is how I felt after we were finally done! He did a great job, if anyone needs pictures taken, and Leeandra was great at keeping the kids attention!

The Nutcracker Field Trip

Last week I went on Ryan's 2nd grade field trip to see the Nutcracker. I guess the boys weren't paying attention when the ballet was explained to them beforehand (that the Nutcracker IS a ballet). About 15 minutes into the hour long show, one of the boys in our group leaned over to me and loudly whispered, "How much more dancing is there?!" When I explained that it was all dancing he had a perplexed look on his face. After a few minutes, he leaned over again and said, "When is the bad guy going to come out?"

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Finding the (almost) Perfect Tree

Why couldn't Ryan smile like this for our family Christmas card photo?
The day after Thanksgiving we always go to Santa's Tree Farm in Half Moon Bay and search for the perfect tree. This is a bit like hunting for the perfect pumpkin...there is always a flat side! We finally settled on the tree behind us in this photo and we took turns cutting it down. We let Andy stand on the back of the van, holding the tree to the top of it, while I carefully drove to the tree bagging and tie-down hut. He loved it! When we got the tree up in the house, we realized it was pretty crooked, so after a few hours of lopping off the uneven sides, I had pretty much reshaped the whole tree and it looks straight enough. Dave is really pushing for a fake tree...where is his sense of adventure?!The finished product. I know, it looks crooked, but really it is just the angel. Cabo looks cute, though, huh?! And, my awesome tree watering gadget is completely undetectable.


Okay, so I am a gadget gal. I love gadgets and have found the best one ever invented (for Christmas trees, that is). It is a 4-foot tall tube with a sensor stick inside that has a small styrofoam ball on the end of it. You fill your tree stand with water (the ONLY time this season you'll have to crawl under your tree and get pine needles and sap in your hair) and then hide the tube with the stick in it through the branches of your tree by sliding it into the tree stand. You make a mark on the stick so you know where the water level should be, then you forget about it for a day or so. You just glance at stick and when the water level is low, the styrofoam ball sinks a little and your mark will be lower, so you just pour water in the convenient clear funnel on the end of the stick and when the mark is above the tube, you know your tree has enough water...without getting your fingers stuck in the sap filled stand. Yes I have done that. I have to say, this is the best gadget I have seen all year! And the best $10 I have ever spent.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

I miss my Becca!

She's gone. Well, not gone, but away for a week. Every year the 5th graders at Indian Valley go to Camp Loma Mar in Half Moon Bay for "Environmental Camp". Since Andy and Alaina already went a few years ago, I wasn't really thinking about how Becca's absence would effect me. We wrote letters to her that she'll get daily, but other than that there is no parental interaction allowed. They have camp staff and the teachers stay for the
week also, but the kids can't call home and we can't visit. So, for five days they indoctrinate your child on how to save trees (no paper towels, sparing use of toilet paper, and NO real Christmas trees, etc.) and for five days you have one less child at home.
Becca has always been what people call a "firecracker" or "sparkplug". She is such a great helper and makes friends every where she goes. I love her infectious giggle and that we can have fun doing the silliest things together. (Like running on a mad dash through Target!) Often she leaves notes from a magic elf that the dishwasher has been unloaded or some things have been put away...I miss that, too! Becca has always had a mischievous sparkle in her eyes, just like my dad, and you know something is going to be entertaining if she is involved in it.
So, tomorrow Becca comes home and I will be so happy to see her. I can't wait for her eyes to light up when she sees the REAL Christmas tree, all decorated and ready for the holidays. More on that in the next post.