After enjoying a beautiful wedding reception for Quinn Baker and his wife Brittany, we jetted off to sunny California to celebrate our Christmas holiday.
And that is when the rain began to fall... About halfway through our drive, the water started coming down so fast I couldn't see the car in front of me. It poured and dumped and showered for our entire stay in Newport. We didn't brave the great outdoors very frequently, too damp, but we did feel exceptionally bad for anyone trying to brave Disneyland that week.
Thank goodness for beautiful accommodations, it made leaving all that more unnecessary.
And, being the easily entertained bunch we are, we had some serious fun. Between Dance Kinect challenges, Settlers wars, puzzles, television, and food, there was plenty to enjoy,
for everyone but Jon that is. I think he suffered the greatest amount of claustrophobia from our lack of outside time. He talked us all into one beach walk that ended with a very, very cold walk home in a shower.
He finally took off one afternoon to find his own adventure. He headed to the beach and discovered an unusually low tide full of treasures. He collected shells, 62 golf balls, and this little guy.
So, so gross. And it got worse. He firmly decided he was going to eat the thing. Trevor researched octopus cooking methods on the internet (thanks for that by the way, bro). He cut it into pieces, threw it in a pot and boiled the sucker up.
Oh the smell... I really can't think about it too hard. The memories are too fresh.
He then planned on refrigerating the cooked tentacles to be breaded and fried the next day. Unfortunately (for Jon and Jon only) the smell was just too much and we unanimously voted for the cooking to end then and there. He graciously gave up the cause but to this day still regrets not devouring his catch.
Even through the rain, we frequented the pool and hot tub as much as possible. They were heated just enough to be comfortable and heck, we were already wet most of the time anyway.
My kids LOVE the hot tub, especially Rhode. He now refers to his home baths to his own hot tub. This picture is actually from Palm Desert, but the love is obvious.
***** Best story from Newport*****
Brad decided he was really good at Dance Kinect. In his defense, he was surprisingly better than you would guess. But he would seriously be confused and dejected when Courtney and Kylie would kick his dancing booty. One morning, all the girls took off to go shopping, leaving the boys to their own devices. When we got in, Brad immediately challenged Courtney to a dance off... on the Hard level. Brad started the battle and was really rocking it. It was an impressive feat to behold. But then Courtney went next and made it look like a real dance. Brad was shocked when she beat him yet again.
Well, turns out Brad had been practicing the dance all morning. He had done the training and ran through it several times, hoping to shock Courtney with a win. You're so darn cute Brad.
**** End of Story*****
We finally had enough of all the water, hopped in our cars and headed for the desert, Palm Desert that is. Actually, that was always the plan but it sure felt like a much needed escape from the clouds to the sun shine.
During our trip inland, we made a stopover in Loma Linda, where my dad went to medical school. We paid a visit to our little mobile home we lived in and then stopped in for a meal at the hole-in-the-wall Italian place across the street. It could not look less special if it tried and the menu is only a few items long. But the minute I sat down, ate a bite of spaghetti covered in mizithra cheese and gorged on several garlic butter soaked rolls, I was transported back about 20 years. I have never had food taste so familiar and bring back so many memories.
Turns out, this little place used to regularly cater for the hospital where my dad did his residency. He would bring home leftovers all the time. In my child mind, I always thought it was hospital food. I always remembered growing up wondering why people though hospital food was gross. The stuff we had all the time was delicious!
The weather in Palm Desert was perfect. It was the hottest place in the U.S. while we were there. We relished in the Vitamin D and enjoyed all of the outdoors the resort had to offer.
We swam a lot...
Played with the kids at the playground...
And even fit in a few rounds of tennis. Turns out some of my family is naturally pretty tennis coordinated
And some of them... not so much.
We talked our extended Knudson relatives into joining us for an evening. In between all of the very loud, very fast, very exuberant conversation (seriously, it's on both sides of the family) we squeezed in a photo shoot.
I think this picture clearly demonstrates the difference between my family and our cousins. Here is what happens when asked for a crazy picture.
We make fools of ourselves, the stare at us, wondering how exactly we are related. Yup, thats about how it goes.
Our Christmas Eve/Day was untraditional but really really fun. On Christmas Eve, we read the nativity story and sang some songs and opened our Christmas pajamas. This year, we did a pajama exchange. My mom handled herself and dad and my children, and the rest of us drew names.
Has there ever been a more perfect t-shirt for my dad in the history of the silly t-shirt world? No... definitely not.
Brad drew Bryan... Kendall drew Brad...
Courtney drew Kristy... Kylie drew Trevor... and they are just asking for some serious payback in years to come.
I drew Kylie... Jon drew Courtney... Bryan drew Kendall (but it was kinda like I drew all three somehow) To mix it up a little, I made their pajamas my December sewing project. I made the bottoms and the design on the t shirt. And the matching sock monkeys of course.
I kind of love them. They almost fit everyone too! Always a challenge when working with a pattern and having to try everything on yourself...
And, as usual, my mom bought some seriously adorable outfits for my children.
Not Pictured: Trevor drew Jon and Kristy drew me. I scored a very cozy pair of black and pink polka dotted pajama bottoms with black slippers. I would love to show them to you but I am only in pictures with Jon, who was gifted with adult footed pajamas. They are black, long sleeved and have penguins on the feet. Hilarious, but I have been informed multiple times, not acceptable for online posting.
Christmas Eve also included our family talent show. Can I say that my family totally stepped it up this year? I was so impressed. I am hoping that at some point my mom will post the videos because the descriptions will do little to capture them, but for memory sake...
My family - Scarlet and Rhode sang the ABC's and Santa Clause is Coming To Town. It was adorable, if I say so myself. Jon then finished our show with our Nielsen Cirque du Soliel show. It ended with the kids knocking heads and bawling... but up until then it was pretty awesome.
Brad, Bryan, and Kendall - Performed a dance routine to Katy Perry's "Fireworks" choreographed by... wait for it... Brad. I am telling you this boy had a dancing bone he has been denying for way too long. Bryan performed the routine flawlessly with little effort. All those years at Today's Generation did him well. Brad also danced well, but spent the routine biting his tongue in concentration as he kept all of his counts straight. Kendall did pretty well too.... :)
Kristy and Trevor - Came out in full cheerleader garb, cranked up the tunes and performed the Perfect Cheer. It was fantastic on so many levels.
Courtney and Kylie - won for best routine of the night. In their gangsta get up, they performed a self-lyricized rap to Gold Digger that somehow involved mocking every single person in the room. It's awesomeness cannot be described in words.
Mom and Dad - had a last minute change of plans. They threw together a very impressive Gilligans Island remake which described our family vacation perfectly. Unfortunately we missed out on their rendition of Ross and Monica's "The Routine" because of a foot injury. Would have been epic... but still fabulous.
On Christmas morning, Jon and I gave our gift to the family. We spent the past few months turning all of our family home movies into a DVD set.
It was a lot of work, but really fun work. It really inspired me to pull out the video camera more frequently with my own kids. It is amazing how fun it is to watch those seemingly pointless videos of us just hanging out at home.
I will share just one classic Earl video clip with you. If you haven't seen it, well you are in for a treat. Though believe me when I say it is somehow even better when viewed the third time. Thank you Kristy for this moment, thank you.
We also scored some sweet BYU wear which we all sported for the family picture shoot. Aren't we cute in our Cougar Blue?
And then we all separated for home. I already knew this before I left, but a week cooped up in a small place made it even more clear. I have a really awesome family. Like, really really awesome.