Sunday, December 28, 2014

Cozy California Christmas

Some may prefer a White Christmas or one of the Tender Tennessee variety (all due respect to Irving Berlin, Gary Chapman, and Amy Grant), but give us the beach, newly emerald hills, and short sleeves. Give us the ability to send the kids outside to play with their yuletide bounty. May your days be far from routine, and may all your Christmases be green!

On Monday, the secret admirer struck again. 

We went to the beach as the sun set on Tuesday. The rest of the day was filled with last minute errands getting ready for Christmas.

Tuesday was also Aunt Hillary’s 28th birthday, and we celebrated with a cream cheese pie. 

Wednesday was spent doing more preparing the house for visitors. While we wrapped some gifts, we chatted a bit with Grandma and Grandpa D., four hours ahead of us in Nova Scotia.

Hallie even found time to paint Aunt Hillary’s nails. Landon found time to unleash his inner cowboy. 

On Christmas Eve Santa flew by overhead

Then he (or his elves) left the kids and Diamond presents at the front door: a hair coloring set, a soccer ball, and a new bike. 

Emily and her husband Mike came for an overnight visit. Grandmas and Grandpas M. and B. and Hillary came by for treats. Then the stockings were filled and we wished everyone good night. Happy Birthday, Jesus! 

On Christmas morning, the kids actually stayed in bed long enough for the grown-ups to start breakfast. Upon seeing her stocking, Eliza exclaimed, “There’s no rocks in my sock!” Yup, she was good enough to not get coal. Barely. Then we had breakfast and gift’s with the missionaries, Grandma and Grandpa O., Marali, Emily and Mike, with a visit from our neighbors.

Later in the day, we had a meal over at Grandma and Grandpa M’s with Cru and Sawyer and their parents.

On Friday, Mike and Landon started putting the house back in order while the girls went shopping.

Mike’s aunt’s condition had improved a little while he and his mom were in Utah last week, but it worsened over the last few days. She passed away on Friday afternoon. Mike has many strongly impressed childhood and young adult memories associated with his aunt and the extended Andrus family. Many ideals he has about what family can be were gleaned from those interactions. We’ll miss her.

In the evening, Diamond babysat the kids for pizza and a movie night while Mike and Hallie went out. We need to do that more often. We went to Money Pancho and had yummy combo plates. The mole was spicy! The pico de gallo just right. We didn’t make it a late night, though, and were in home in time to finish tucking in the kids.

On Saturday morning, Mike and the kids played out front with some of the kids new gifts.

Later in the day, we sorted through the food storage. Landon worked out with his punching bag, barefisted. He punches hard enough that it hurts his little fists. Looks like we’ll need to get him some gloves.

As this is our last entry for 2014, we’ll include our year in photos. As always, we keep moving forward. Best wishes to you and yours for the coming year! 

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Roller Coaster into the Break

We had a week of emotional ups and downs, unexpected travel, and multiple visits with a jolly old man in red. We are especially grateful for our families near and far at this time of year. 

On Sunday night, we watched It’s A Wonderful Life and then found out that Mike’s aunt was taken to the hospital.

On Monday, Mike’s department had its holiday party. He showed off his trivia smarts and apparently added some needful enthusiasm to the proceedings. He and his mom discussed going up to Utah to see his aunt and determine what we might be able to do.

While he was at work, Hallie, Diamond, and the kids played with neighbors outside. Diamond and Eliza went to a house in the neighborhood that gets a daily visit from an ambulance. Eliza asked a whole bunch of her three-year-old’s questions, and in exchange received a junior paramedic badge.

On Tuesday, Mike and his mom flew up to Salt Lake to see his aunt in the hospital. Eliza was not happy to see Mike leave.

When Mike and his mom arrived, they were relieved to see that Aunt Karen’s condition, while grave, had improved markedly. Modern medicine and priesthood blessings do wonders! We are grateful to have witnessed both in action, and are grateful to have an opportunity to reconnect with family, in spite of the circumstances. They spent most of their time in the hospital room with Aunt Karen and other family members who have rallied around her. Mom stayed overnight in the room.

Hallie and Diamond looked after the kids, and Hillary came over to visit. They had a laugh fest while doing Landon’s math homework. Apparently modern math requires the combined efforts of three adults to figure it out.

On Wednesday, Eliza had a party for her class. Santa came, and he was full of jokes and good humor.

This look on his face: Is he beginning to suspect something about the fat man in red? 

Later on, they all went to see Santa again (and Mrs. Claus too) at the Camarillo Ranch House.  

Meanwhile out in Utah, Aunt Karen’s condition continued to improve. This time, Mike stayed overnight in the hospital room. The recliner in the room folds flat and is surprisingly comfortable after someone spends several hours without sleep over multiple days.

By Thursday morning, Aunt Karen had improved to a point where Mike and his mom felt they could leave her in the very capable hands of extended family and hospital staff. They took the evening flight back to LA, where Mike was welcomed back home to very eager kisses and hugs from Hallie and the little ones.

During the day in California, Landon’s class had a holiday music concert.

Later, Hallie, Diamond, and the kids made and decorated Christmas-themed cupcakes. 

On Friday, Landon’s class had a holiday party. Mike read The Night Before Christmas and taught the kids how to make snowflakes, and Hallie, Diamond, and the other moms who came helped the kids make gifts for their families.

We watched Home Alone for pizza-and-a-movie night. Unfortunately, the kids had a hard time winding down for bed afterwards. Landon really seemed to identify with the main character, even going so far as to imitate him combing his hair as he got ready for bed.  

On Saturday, we took the kids to Hallie’s parents’ ward for breakfast with Santa. Of course, they got to wear their pajamas.

The kids got to visit with Santa again. 

While there, we found out that Riley’s wife Breanne had been taken to the hospital for torn arteries in her neck and had suffered a mini stroke. Fortunately, it appears that she will not have lingering effects from the injury.

After we got home from the breakfast, Landon went to a birthday party for his friend Isaac down at Pt. Mugu. Landon had a different idea of what a military base should look like and was surprised to find that it looked more like a small town than a field.

While he was out, Mike hung wires for an art wall like we used to have in Michigan to display all the kids’ art from school. Now to get some vinyl wall lettering!

The adults spent time wrapping gifts while the children were otherwise occupied. Hillary, Diamond, and Eliza went next door to put Eliza’s hair in curlers for church on Sunday.

After the kids went to bed, Hallie and Mike watched Christmas Vacation while wrapping more gifts. The scene with the squirrel in the Christmas tree brought back hilarious memories of our own encounter with a flying squirrel with the Doreys in Nova Scotia. Good times! We miss you!

When we came to bed, we saw that a secret admirer had left Hallie a message on her bathroom mirror.

We started Sunday with breakfast and everyone getting gussied up for church. The kids even got along well together!

Hillary came over to remove Eliza’s curlers, and the kids finished getting ready.

Here they are at church.

After church, Diamond attended the stake Christmas concert while the rest of us watched A Charlie Brown Christmas and went out to see the lights. We also happened to see nature's lights to end this shortest day of the year.