Sunday, December 25, 2016

We Wish You a Merry Christmas!

We kept busy our first week of break with short trips around the Southland. Everything culminated with church and visits with family on Saturday and Sunday. 

On Monday, Hallie took Eliza with her to get blood work done and have Hallie’s eyebrows threaded by a lady we know whose children go to Las Posas. Later, Mike graded papers, and the rest of us did some last-minute shopping before going to gymnastics. Mike and Hallie and the other parents of the boys’ team met with the coaches to discuss some upcoming staffing changes/challenges. As we discussed the issues, we saw that we may have to rethink gymnastics moving forward. Sobering notion.  

We went down to Westwood for our semi-annual teeth cleaning on Tuesday. Everyone had a clean bill of health, even Landon who had a bloody mouth the week before from gymnastics. Yay for brushing and flossing! Afterwards, we surprised Landon with a trip to the El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood to view Rogue One. Part of the experience included getting photos with Stormtroopers, seeing props and models from the movie, and experiencing a wild opening to the film which included Stormtroopers invading the theatre and Darth Vader’s menacing mechanical breathing over the speakers. Spooooky! We enjoyed the movie. Good times! Mom surprised the boys with popcorn and drinks as part of a package deal to make the event top notch.

Eliza and Mom went to the Grove to have lunch at the American Girl Store. Unfortunately, the café was all reserved, so instead they used some Christmas funds from Grandma and Grandpa O. to buy a little canine companion whom Eliza named Trixie, “because she does tricks, see?” (She caught the first part of her little pun but the way she said it brought out the whole thing. Too funny!) The girls topped off their outing with a trip to Magee’s eatery at the Farmers Market. No meal is complete without a little dessert, so the girls hit up Dylan’s Candy Bar for some sour Jelly Bellies.

Landon had gymnastics in the afternoon, but we were only a little late. Everyone stuck around with the other kids whose siblings were out on the floor. It’s our own little club. One of the moms brought the boys’ team hot cocoa with all the fixings. The Gamboa family is very generous, and the boys loved every minute of the hot cocoa bar. Some of the sisters were even rewarded for hanging around. Oh, and this! Our friend Carrie caught on film this evening's amazing sunset. So beautiful! 

On Wednesday, we mostly stuck around home. The ladies who came to clean last month came again and left the place squeaky clean. Mike enjoys speaking with the ladies in Spanish and getting insights into Christmas traditions from Mexico and El Salvador.

Right about the time the rain started Hallie ran out to Van Gundy Jewelers in the Las Posas Plaza to see what someone could do to fix her problem of a wedding ring that is too big. During her visit Hallie met a very nice sale consultant and had a nice chat while the jeweler fixed her ring by adding a piece of metal to the ring to make it smaller. Can you believe that the ring is an 8 and now she wears a 6 ½?! The store did not charge Hallie, and we definitely will go back with any of our jewelry needs.

Hallie had an early Christmas present of a trip to see Nathan Pacheco and David Archuleta sing down in Costa Mesa at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts. She left Mike and the kids to go to gymnastics. The kids had a sock-themed gift exchange and other treats. Mike took advantage of the time to do some last-minute shopping at the local Target and get some yummy dinner, things Hallie usually does when she takes the kids to the gym.  

Hallie got home really late, so we tried to sleep in a little on Thursday. Landon had a doctor appointment, then Hallie had a hair appointment, so the two of them went to the Valley and Westlake before going to Landon’s gymnastics. The late nights have caught up to Hallie. When getting to gymnastics early Hallie shut her eyes for just a minute, and next thing you know gymnastics was starting in four minutes. Yikes! Meanwhile, Eliza and Mike stayed home and ran a few pre-Christmas errands. One of our neighbors recently installed a cute little neighborhood lending library, so we took a few of our books over and traded them for a few in the box.

We spent a quiet day at home Friday. Well, everyone except Hallie. She braved the rainy weather and the shoppers and stocked up on groceries for Christmas meals. We didn’t have gymnastics, which was nice. We also got some real rain throughout the day, a welcome respite from the ever-present threat of drought.

Hallie had asked Mike to make her some cauliflower pizza bites, so he ground up the veggies, added the cheese and sauce, and made an approximation of pizza (it was great but not quite regular pizza) for her while the rest of us had big box store-bought. We watched The Secret Life of Pets.

The morning before Christmas dawned somewhat less rainy but cold (again, for California). While Hallie got her nails done (and also took a trip to the Maygrens to pick up a last-minute gift for Mike), the rest of us spent the morning tidying up before Mike set to work on a chocolate peppermint cheesecake Hallie had found online. Hallie has wanted to make a cheesecake for a while but used Shad’s love of cheesecake as her excuse to have us try our hand again. We also baked some cookies!

In the afternoon, we went out to visit Grandma and Grandpa O. and Alie and Haydn. We had a tasty meal of Red’s BBQ and fun time chatting around the dinner table. The kids both young and young at heart enjoyed all of their amazing presents from the grandparents and running around in the backyard with Haydn and Alie. We get a kick out of seeing Alie and Eliza playing and visiting together.

We had the kids open one gift before going to bed: PJs. They're a touch on the large side. . . .

Christmas morning came very early with Eliza’s arrival in our bedroom around 6:00 a.m. Shortly after her arrival she went and woke up Landon to join in on her shenanigans. We were able to stave everyone off until 7:00 a.m. We had a great time in the morning opening presents and eating breakfast together as a family. It was a joy to Facetime with Diamond and to hear all about what is happening in her life. We miss her so!

Shortly before 11:00 we headed to church, where Mike was the narrator of our combined ward program and Hallie was in the choir. We are grateful to the Talleys and Suzanne Shutte who helped entertain the kids while we did our duty.

In the late afternoon we headed to the Maygren/Hopkins household to spend time together and to eat yummy food that everyone had a hand in preparing. Eliza, Landon, Cru, and Sawyer have so much fun playing together, and sometimes it gets a bit wild but all in good fun. The icing on the cake is holding Finnley and watching Mike the baby whisperer rock her to sleep. Mike’s cheesecake was a great hit, and it came out amazing! Just like the picture from the website!
(Has Mike mentioned lately that he has a hot wife?)

Eliza fell asleep shortly before home. Hallie spent time finishing her Lego build, Landon read one of his two new Diary of a Wimpy Kid books, and Mike did a bit of cleaning up. We were so excited to spend a bit of time talking to Bryce and can’t wait to see him in just about a month’s time. 

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