Thursday, January 07, 2010

Three Christmases

We returned from a long, wonderful Christmas vacation to Utah a week and a half ago, and it's taken me this long to post about it.  Let's just say that "back to reality" was a slap in the face for me, but I feel like things are finally under control again and I have a minute to post.  This will be long and is not for the faint of heart, so you have been warned.

We started out our holidays at Joseph's parent's in West Valley.  We had a great time seeing so many of his extended family as well as many of his siblings, and Sophie and Avery loved every chance they had to play with their cousins.  This was the only picture we got of our whole family together the entire trip, and Sophie's sucking her thumb and not looking at the camera for it. (sigh)

We hoped for a White Christmas and definitely got our wish.  Sophie couldn't stop playing in the snow the first night we arrived in Utah, but then when we got a new snowfall and went outside, neither girl was very excited about it.  Sophie did love throwing snowballs at us, though, and Avery got a kick out of watching me get pounded by Joseph and Sophie.

But this is how she spent the majority of the time in the snow.  What can I say, she's a California girl, born and raised.  It looks fun in theory, but it's just so cold!!!

She liked being pulled around for about .2 seconds, and then she was done.  We tried!

Grandma Jensen took us all to Jungle Jim's one day, and the girls were in heaven.  It's a bunch of rides, some of which were too big for Avery, but she sure loved riding on the carousel.

They both had to have their own car, and luckily there weren't very many other kids there that day so they could do that.  Avery loved it.

This was one of Sophie's favorite rides.  She normally preferred to ride alone, but this one was so fast and threw you to the side that it would've been painful for her to go alone.  Here they're going backward after going forward for a while.  She screamed the entire time (out of joy...and theatrics.)

Avery was content to just watch that one with a big smile on her face.

I realized that in the 5 years I've known/been a part of the Jensen Family, I'd never once seen where Joseph's dad works.  So I asked if we could take a field trip to see "Modern Precast" and he obliged.  It was a great experience seeing the process of making all the molds they do and Sophie thought it was pretty cool, too.

She especially loved driving this forklift, and Grandpa even lifted her and daddy up high on one of them.  They almost touched the high ceiling.  Thanks for the tour, Craig!

On Christmas Day the Jensens always have a Mexican feast prepared by Bob.  It's so delicious that we all eat our weight in tamales, chili verde, enchiladas, and other goodness.  They invited my family to come eat with them this year, and afterward we played a few rounds of Encore.

We decided that we should have ended with Joseph and my Mom going head to head since they were the best.  It was a lot of fun.

Avery developed a nice case of rosy cheeks while we were in the dry climate of Utah.  They went away as soon as we came back to California.  I remember the same thing happening to Sophie at that age.  She looked cute, but I could tell they hurt!

So why is this post title Three Christmases?  Because we literally had 3 different Christmases this year.  Our first Christmas was at home as a family because we didn't want to take any of the girls' presents with us on the plane and lug them around while we were in Utah and then home again.  So the night before we left we let the girls open everything up.

Avery's favorite present was "Hungry Hungry Hippos".  You really can't go wrong with this game; it's a favorite for the whole family, and she loved playing it over and over again.

Sophie got tons of princess stuff which made her quite satisfied.

And she was pleased to find that Santa made a special early trip to our home to deliver her present from him while we were still here.  It was just what she had asked him for: a chalkboard/whiteboard!

Our second Christmas was Christmas morning at the Jensen's.  We decided to wait until Sophie woke up before we all got up, and while one member of the family was disappointed that that wasn't at 6 am, the rest of us were grateful she slept in until 7:30.  Then Sophie made sure we were up and that we all wait on the stairs just like Joseph told her he used to do as a boy.  When Bob gave the okay, we all raced up to the living room.  Sophie tore into her first present and was delighted to find a chest of dress-up clothes from Grandma Jensen.  She hasn't gone a day since without wearing at least one (but usually all 3) dresses at some point, complete with all the hair and jewelry accessories.  It was a perfect gift for her.

Christmas #3 was on the 26th when we were with my family.  My Mom (and let's be honest, me too) didn't want to skip out on any of the usual traditions and they were kind enough to hold off doing them until our family and Peter's family were there with them the day after Christmas.  We started out with the Nativity and here are our Joseph and Mary.  Mary was a bit overprotective of her baby, Joseph cared more about his staff and donkey than his wife and Jesus, and the two angels (Gabe and Avery) were often lost while trying to find the shepherds, but it made for a comical representation of the Christmas story and I wouldn't have it any other way.

The girls got to open their gifts from their Lamb grandparents and Sophie made sure to squeal with each opening guessed it...more Princess stuff!  Avery loves her toys and it's been fun to see her enjoy things this year for the first time, just as Sophie has finally gotten things about this holiday that she never got before.  It was a great Christmas.

All 4 grandkids got a horse (or unicorn) and Austin and Sophie enjoyed riding theirs through the house together.

Sophie tried to explain her dress-up stuff to Austin, but I think he mostly just thought she was a bit crazy.  He did like the king's crown, though, and was okay with her putting him in that, but nothing else.

Avery is modeling her cute ballet shoes from her Aunt Julie.  She and Sophie both got some and I wish I could put them both in a dance class together now!  We'll just have to settle for dancing at home in them I guess.

While we were in Utah we were lucky enough to get to visit with lots of friends.  We had a get together with many of our roommates from Turnberry where Joseph and I met.  Almost all are married, and all the marrieds have kids.  The funny thing is that most of us have girls!  There was only one little boy in the group, and thankfully he was too young to feel outnumbered or intimidated by all those girls!  It was fun to see everyone and all their cute kiddos.

We also got together with some of my friends from BYU at Eric's house.  Mel was in town from Georgia with her cute Sawyer whom I met for the first time, and we couldn't believe how big Eric and Tara's Zane has gotten!  We had a great time reminiscing about good ol' days in DT, but we really missed Sarah, Tonya, Alyssa, and Alana, not to mention everyone else from the old group!

Tuesdays seemed to be the favorite day for new snow, so we attempted to play in it again the second week we were there.  This time Avery lasted all of 2 minutes outside before demanding to go back in.  We watched the fun Sophie, Joseph, Julie, and Grandma were having outside throwing snowballs and making snow angels from the window inside, standing on a warm heater.

Then we took off all our snow stuff and went outside for some hot tubbing!  I love hot tubbing in the snow!  I also love how this shot makes it look like the hot tub is floating in the air or something.

But no, it's just surrounded by white stuff.  I love this shot with the snow-covered fir tree in the back while we sit in bathing suits out in the cold.  Only Julie was brave (crazy) enough to hop out and run around in the snow and then jump back in.

I love these three!  Scott sure knows how to have a good time. :)

Avery loved being around her grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins!  I think they kind of liked her, too.

She makes a lot of mischief but we think we'll keep her around. :)

One of the fun things we did with the Lambs was go to a place called Hollywood Connection that also had a lot of rides and things inside.  So for the second time in a week the girls got to ride on a carousel.  Normal life will never be the same again.

My favorite part of the place was the roller skating rink.  We had it all to ourselves for most of the time and it was a blast.

Sophie even tried out some skates and had some very kind uncles helping her out, but she was like jelly and refused to straighten her legs, so she only lasted a short while before trading the skates back in for regular shoes.

She and Austin then spent the majority of the time pulling someone around as they ran, usually me.  I couldn't believe how long they ran without ever seeming to get tired, but they must have an Energizer battery inside because they ran and ran and ran and had the time of their lives.

I love this shot of my parents.

33 years together and going strong.

Avery and Gabe spent a lot of time dancing to the music.  Avery is so funny to watch as she moves her body to the beat.  It cracks us up every time.

I don't know who was having more fun here, but I think it was the proud Grandpa.

We made lots of trains, which usually ended in wrecks, but that's okay.
I like the engine on this particular one.  Very cute.

Julie is dating a cute boy named Leo who we got to meet a couple times.  We really liked him a lot and think they made a cute couple.

There were other rides there like this spinning one that took the kids way up in the air.

My favorite ride was the adults-only bumper cars.  You can imagine what putting six siblings, one in-law, and one boyfriend into a small rink like this would be like.  Let's just say that the reason I'm not in this picture might have something to do with a certain brother-who-shall-not-be-named (cough Peter cough) who corralled me into a corner and kept me there the majority of the time.  Once a bully, always a bully.

Sophie was a little scared on the roller coaster, but Avery thought it was great!

We rushed home from there so that we could meet our old friends the Neals who made time in their busy holiday schedule to drop by and visit while they were all together.  I can't even remember the last time our two families were all together like this.  It was lots of fun to reminisce over the good times we had with them from San Diego to Pendleton.  These are my oldest friends for sure and we love 'em.

It wouldn't be a true Neal/Lamb get together without a little craziness.

And here's the entire group, in-laws and grandkids (though we were missing Holly's spouse and kids and Mindy's spouse and kids, but the rest are here).

We tried to get all 4 kids to look at the camera in their Christmas outfits, but of course they never did.  This was the best one we got, sadly.  They still looked pretty cute, though!

We had a wonderful Christmas and are so glad we were able to spend it with so many loved ones.  We hope your Christmas was great, too!  Merry Christmas 2009 from our family to yours!


Lindsay said...

Leo was one of my FAVORITE people at the BC. Good choice Julie!

Erin said...

I honestly cannot get over how cute your girls are!!! So that picture of Sophie and Joseph on that ride at Jungle Jim's.....I HATE THAT RIDE!!! I made the mistake of getting on with Bryson before seeing how fast it went one time and about lost my breakfast especially when it started going backwards. Never again.

Sounds like you guys had a great Christmas!

Thanks for using a Designer Blogs background! :)

m said...

You do such a terrific job of telling and showing the highlights. What a good chronicler of a wonderful few days together! Choice memories!!

Aimee said...

That's one heck of a post. Good work! Sounds like you had a great holiday. I can't believe how big your girls are getting! Any chance you'll be moving back to the area any time soon???

Jake & Bev said...

So fun to see you guys. Thanks for making time. Looks like you had a great vacation. We hope to see you again sometime soon.

Holly or James said...

looks like the Neals and Lambs haven't missed a beat!

Harrison's said...

Looks like you had a fantastic trip and holiday! You have such a fun family.

Tash said...

Looks like you had a very busy Christmas! Your girls are so beautiful! Miss you guys.

Holly or James said...

Looks like that post must have taken you FOREVER to post and write about! (:

Great times with the Neals and Lambs for sure. It's probably been over 13 years since we've all been together that's right! Crazy to think about. It's amazing how big everyone has gotten and now that some of us have kids too, it's crazy!

It is impossible to get a good shot of 4 little kids. I've tried doing it too with all the Neal grandkids a few times. Never been too successful. (: