Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Family Vacation 2013 aka- longest post ever.

We went on a trip for Christmas to see family and to have some fun!!  We left our little town of freezing temperatures and snow...

...and eventually ended up here!  Along the beautiful California coast with warm wonderful weather!
 And it only took over 3,200 miles of driving!  The driving wasn't that bad for us.  Normally driving with little kids and a baby that far would be an act of lunacy.  It had it's horrible moments, but we felt helped and sped along.  Maybe this was a gift from God, knowing how much we miss seeing family and what a hard year we had had, and how much we needed to have a good trip.  ?

Entirely too much happened on this trip to write about in depth.  Here are the highlights:

Albuquerque to SLC hotel about 12 hours.  We read several books on tape throughout the trip.  Greek Mythology, Magic Tree House, Shoeless Joe and Me, and Artemis Fowl.  Hotel had nice pool and workout room!

Temple square- we saw everything, so it was a busy day.  Leia pooped her pants causing us to ruin someones wedding pictures, in our haste to get to a toilet.  It was half raining but snowy and freezing and Pat had to leave to go to the mall and buy her new clothes and shoes- was gone for forever and- couldn't find shoes that were less than $40 so he had to carry her with no shoes, and I had to carry Charles for the rest of the day.   We tried to see the statue of Christ but it was so packed with people there was no place to sit or stand and we were both carrying someone and desperately needed to sit.  We gave up and it started to turn into a crummy day, when a family walked up to me and gave Leia and Charles each a stocking full of goodies.  What a nice thing to do!  As I looked closer, they weren't just full of candy, but also gloves for Leia, gum, chapstick, and money at the bottom.  I was overwhelmed with gratitude and the spirit of Christmas.  It completely turned around our day, and made it bright again.  What a nice thing to do.  Thank you whomever you people are!!!
D, S, and E all at a different computer learning about the inside of the temple.

Model of the inside of the temple.  I've been in 3 of these rooms!

Charlie thought it was a great place to crawl around and was super excited!

Looking out from the top of the Joseph Smith Memorial Building at the snowy temple.
At the church history museum Sam joined this band.  One man was playing the saw! With a bow! Like a violin!  It was weird, but sounded really cool.  I, as you can see, was the designated coat holder.

The lights were beautiful.

Then we met my dad and Janis and Matthew for a great dinner at a Chinese restaurant. We went to church with them the next day as well.   I foolishly didn't get any pictures of them or us together!   Time was short, but we were glad we got to see them. 

After church we drove out to Logan to visit my Aunt Karen and Uncle Al at their house, and their kids Cait, Scott, and Kristin and Cait's new fiancee who is a music person so of course I love him!  Also I was blessed to see my cousin Jennifer and her beautiful family.  Below is me Jennifer and Tia.

Scott and Pat.

Aunt Karen and Uncle Al.
After visiting the family in Logan area for a couple hours, we drove back to our hotel, for an early start on to California.  The drive was great except for Nevada.  I told the kids they'd know when we were finally out of Nevada because it would suddenly turn beautiful- and it did!  We stopped at this rest stop and I walked up this path and it kept on going and Pat was annoyed at me because I can't stop following a trail into a beautiful place even when we need to go.  Me and the kids loved it though.  I am stopping here anytime I ever can!  I needed at least another hour in those woods.

Exit 143, Gold Run California.

Finally we got to Stephanie's house!  Look at her beautiful decorations!  We made glass magnets, did hair, went to bed- I think.  My sister is always over the top excited about things and it shows. She does a great job!!!

Tuesday-Christmas Eve- Stopped in to say hi to Pat's family and then went back to Steph's house and had my family party, dinner and exchanged gifts.  These are the best days when all the cousins are little!  Love Jeremy and Kim and their family!  Baby Emme reminds me so much of Charles, just in a teenier girlier way.  She is the cutest baby!!! 

Charles and Emme's first Christmas.

J and K got the boys each a lego set!
The dress Leia got from Jeremy and Kim.  It has to be worn at all times. Rapunzel!!!

Charlie trying to open a present. 

We loved all the gifts from everyone!  My sister continues to keep my kids clothed and dressed way more stylishly than we do!  This year they all got awesome shoes and jackets that they love. And Beyblades- a fun toy the all loved, and so much more!
Love Steph!!!
Love T!!!
Leia got a backpack with tons of stuff in it!  She never was apart from it for the rest of the trip!

Love Grandma!

Moved to Pat's parents house about lunchtime.   Had a great dinner- prime rib, mashed potatoes, etc., the works!  Full house and games like always!  Of course, the reason we planned this trip was to see Pat's brother Eric before he left on his mission.  But Eric was no where to be seen.  Alaska would not let him come!

Pat and all his sibling except Eric.
Pat Sr., and Brenda!
 Also, Leia got a Minnie Mouse dish set, and the boys got remote controlled helicopters!
Thurs-Rick came and hung out this day.

Rick and Beth
Pat and Brian
Kat and Isabel

My punk Sam.  He pulled a face for every picture, and with the other boys would not stop harassing Uncle Brian- stealing his clothes and such.

Fri- Temple day - Park for a few hours-McKinley- hamburgers/hotdogs/pea soup/Leatherbys- Isaac.   Can you tell I'm trying to finish this post up quick?
    This picture cracks me up, because Sam loved his Sudoku book he got so much he just wanted to find a place at the park to do Sudoku.  So he picked the middle of this spinning thing?  I would have thrown up.  Who would have known a little Sudoku book would be such a Christmas winner?!

Sat-Fishing and me visit Kim's work/Leftovers for dinner.

Kim works at the Fountains in Roseville, manager of a really nice home decor store.  We had a nice lunch at Jacks, and I wish with all my heart there was something that good here!  Nice day hanging out with my fam.

While I was hanging out with my family, Jared the Awesome Uncle, took my boys fishing.  I am still amazed by that.  I love fishing and outdoors stuff, and it was the best gift ever to give the kids this experience. 

We love Isaac!

Someone accidentally hooked Beth.

Sun- church with Pat's family/visit ruby/grandma dixie/familiy dinner
The life size, bi-lingual, singing Santa.

Santa, Dallas and Grandma Dixie.

 Then to a big family dinner with everyone plus Char and Kent!  Did not get a good picture of their family darnit!

 Mon-leave- say goodbye to Steph at her work- drove to Monterrey, 17 mile drive, HWY 1, Big Sur, Limekiln State Park, Sand Dollar Beach, San Luis Obispo for hotel.

We tried to go to the Monterrey Aquarium, but it was so busy, we asked (and received) our money back within an hour of entering.  We couldn't see a thing for the press of people.  Thank heavens they gave us the money back.  That was $160 for our family.  Instead we just enjoyed beaches along HWY 1 and dreamed of living there.

Tue-drove to Thousand Oaks, Angela's family gave us wet suits, Zuma Beach in Malibu, Happy New Year!  At night we played Settlers and Karisa actually won, but had given Dallas her cards and gone to bed with a sick Charles by then. Dallas finished up the winning for her.

Wed-left and drove all day to Phoenix for hotel with pool.  Saw the Mesa Temple.  Had lunch at the spaghetti factory outdoors as our last stop in California with palm trees and warm sunshine all around!  I love being outdoors in warm weather in the wintertime.

Thurs-left and drove all day to Albuquerque and home.  Felt satisfied, and totally sick.  But it was worth it.  Enjoyed our Christmas gifts!

She got this pillow from cousin Elle.  Even though it's a traveling pillow, she sleeps with it, because it's a pillow!

Hat and scarf from Grandma.
 The main feeling I have after this trip is that we need to visit each person in our family more often.  It felt like there was no where near enough time with anyone.  And I only saw one of my friends, Ruby for less than 1/2 hour at her home.  I never saw Sarah, or Sandra, or Laura's grave, any of Pat's friends, or my family in San Jose, Watsonville, or the Oakland Temple and Pat's aunts, uncle's and cousins we wish we'd had more time to see.  His Uncle John is going to be a Mission President soon.  It would have been nice to see them before they go. We were gone for a full two weeks but still feel like it was only enough time to reacquaint.  But the amount of money it cost to drive 3200 miles tells me the opposite feeling- that we cannot afford to to this again for a long time.   It is such a sad predicament.  Anyway, we were so glad to get away, that we were safe, and our home was safe while we were gone.  We came home to a pile of mail and warm wishes from family and neighbors and it was a happy joyful feeling.