Friday, August 2, 2013

Christmas & New Year's

Our family carries on the Wood tradition of having a New Mexican meal of tamales & posole as our Christmas Eve dinner.  I love that we do this and I love that Charlie makes the posole himself from scratch.  Isaac calls it "New Mexico soup."

We spent a quiet evening relaxing together and reading the Christmas story out of the New Testament while the boys acted it out with their Little People Nativity set.

I know a lot of families have the tradition of getting new pajamas on Christmas Eve, and while we haven't really done this in the past I decided to do it this year.

Isaac was somewhat disappointed that he didn't get a toy, but he was actually really excited about the Angry Bird Star Wars pajamas that I picked out for him.  Though his face may not show much excitement in this photo...  silly kid!

Once the boys were sleeping soundly Santa got to work assembling gifts and putting everything in place.

It is always so fun to watch the joy on Christmas morning as the boys discover all of their new toys and gifts.  Luke's favorite was this little plastic broom.  Whenever I sweep the floor he always wants to help and takes a turn pushing dust around with the big full size broom.  He was thrilled to have one of his very own.

Isaac always has a gift list a mile long, and forgets about half the things on "the list" about 2 minutes after he tells me to add them.  One thing that he was consistent about asking for in the weeks leading up to Christmas was this remote control tower crane.  It is taller than he is and has several moving parts.   Isaac was smiling from ear to ear when he saw it waiting for him that morning.

After we opened all of the Santa gifts we moved on to the ones under the tree.  As usual, we ended up with too much stuff.  The floor was littered with paper and empty boxes and piles of new toys.  

One of my favorite gifts this year was from Isaac.  Charlie took him shopping a few weeks before Christmas and Isaac new just what he wanted to buy.  He asked to go to Bloomingdale's and led Charlie to the jewelry counter.  Then he proceeded to walk all around looking closely at every display until he found "the one!"  Charlie reported that Isaac was very determined about this and it totally cracks me up whenever I hear this story.  He was a little nervous that Isaac was going to pick out something ridiculously expensive but when the sales clerk announced that it was on sale for just $18, he was able to breathe a sigh of relief.  So they came home and wrapped it up and then came up with a plan to trick me.  Isaac loved this idea and so he would get a huge grin on his face and tell me almost everyday that he had gotten me a new "ironer" for Christmas.  When Christmas morning finally arrived, Isaac was beaming with pride as he handed me my gift and watched as I opened it.  

Though it's not quite my style, I have to admit that I have fallen in love with this necklace.  As I ood and awed over the sparkly jewels Isaac told me "I knew you would love it!"  And I do.  Here's a closer look at my heart shaped Betsey Johnson rainbow jeweled bling.  What more could a mom ask for?

That evening we went over to my sister Sandy's house for Christmas dinner.  My sister Wendy joined us as well and we all exchanged gifts, ate too much food, and watched the kids play and run wild around the house.  

Karl & Janelle made some last minute plans to join us for the New Years holiday.  It was a quick visit but we were excited to have them.  

On New Years Eve day we all boarded the Amtrak and headed down to Old Town San Diego.  I remember taking the Amtrak to Utah when I was a little girl, but I have not ridden it since and it was a fun little adventure.  It was neat to watch to coastline and get a different view than what we normally see driving on the 5 freeway.  The boys loved riding on the train, watching the ocean from the window, and not having to wear seat belts.  While most of us crammed into the ocean view seats, Karl decided to take in the scenic view from the other side of the train.  I think he liked having the extra leg room.  

From the train station we walked over to Old Town and had lunch at one of the several Mexican restaurants in the plaza.  It was a gorgeous sunny day and we enjoyed sitting outside and listening to the mariachi music while eating our meal. 

Isaac was having fun dancing on this stage and trying to get Luke to join in.  I'm sure there are regular performances here, but we just sat and watched these silly boys making up their own dance to the music playing in the plaza.  

We stopped in this tile store with thousands of different kinds of ceramic tiles and plaques.  Janelle picked out some pretty painted address numbers for their new home in Utah to add a little bit of the Mexican charm similar to the home they left behind in Las Cruces.

From the plaza we walked to the nearby Mormon Battalion Museum.  My family went once while I was growing up, but I think it's been completely redone since then.  We had a sister missionary who guided us through the whole tour.  It is all very interactive with a lot of videos, talking portraits, etc.

When the guide was showing us the type of gear that the soldiers wore for their trek she asked Isaac to come up and try it all on.  He felt really important and liked trying on all of the cool stuff.  Luke wanted to stand up there with him too.  

At the end of the tour there is an outside area where you can pan for gold.  Both boys loved playing in the water and Isaac took home a tiny little rock of "gold" that I'm sure he believes is the real thing.

It was a fun day and we were glad to have Karl & Janelle there to enjoy it with us.  We headed back home to Irvine on the train and had a quiet New Year's Eve at home.  I don't think we even made it till midnight.  

In the evening on New Years Day we drove out to Newport Beach.  We walked out on the pier and watched the fishermen and even spotted a few dolphins out in the water.  We watched the sunset and let the boys play on the playground.  

Then we got our bonfire going and ate dinner and roasted marshmallows for s'mores.  The beach is always super crowded in the summer time, but we love going in the off season and are lucky to have such pleasant weather year round.  It was a perfect evening for a fire.  

The added bonus was the entertainment that showed up a bit later.  We did a New Years bonfire two years ago with some friends, but we had kind of forgotten about the tree burners.  Apparently it is tradition for some families in the area to gather as many dead Christmas trees as they can and drag them all down to the beach on New Years Day.  Then they proceed to douse them in lighter fluid and light up the night sky with one explosive tree after another.  It's actually quite entertaining - especially from a distance where we didn't feel like we were in any danger. 

And the light from these tree fires was so bright that you could see clear as day around our own fire ring.

Karl & Janelle had to head home the next day, but we were so glad that they came to enjoy the holiday with us.  It was the perfect way to ring in 2013.  

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