Thursday, January 3, 2013

California Christmas

This year we had Christmas in Santa Rosa, California. Brad's parents and two youngest sisters moved there in August for a new job opportunity. We were excited to escape the Utah snow for a little bit and enjoy some sight-seeing. Mindy and I left Tuesday afternoon and stopped off in Reno, NV at Uncle Rusty and Aunt Rachel's house. Then we woke up early Wednesday morning and headed the last four hours to Santa Rosa. We were so excited to get there after 12 hours of driving. We got cleaned up and all the girls headed out to Sonoma. If any of you ever watched Bachelorette, you will know that Ben's winery is up there. We went to his wine tasting shop, hoping to catch a glimpse of him but alas, just his two partners that claimed he was "out of town". I'm sure they get that a lot... bummer. We enjoyed the rest of the evening window shopping and sipping on some hot cocoa.
the closest we got to seeing Ben... in Gingerbread form
the girlies in front of the wine-tasting shops
Thursday during the day we lounged around a little and got some things done around the house. Once the girls got back from school we loaded up and headed to San Francisco for the evening. We killed a little bit of time shopping at the HUGE Macy's then grabbed some dinner before heading to the play. We all went to the Christmas Carol. It was a great, traditional rendition of the play with a little bit of humor... just right. Afterwards we had to kill some time before Hannah and I headed to the airport to pick up our hubbies since they had to work a few extra days. They actually, completely by chance, ended up on the same flight out so it worked out quite nicely. Anyway, we walked around the square by the ice skating rink, BIG tree, got some hot cocoa and went back to Macy's. We picked out San Fran ornaments and ALL wrote letters to Santa, asking for a baby... couldn't hurt, right? ;) We wrapped up the night and the rest of the fam headed home while Hannah and I took off to the airport. It was SO nice to be reunited with our hubbies for the holiday.
entering San Fran
just before the play
just like NYC
BIG tree
the Christmas Carol crew
Friday we went to visit Allen to see his new work space then headed to the mall to finish up Christmas shopping. We also got my phone fixed since it shattered a few days earlier :( That evening we made dinner and watched a couple Christmas movies while mom and dad Marsh went to a party.
Saturday was our real San Fran day. It was seriously a BLAST! We were there by mid-morning with plenty of time to tour the city. We started at Lumbard Street then headed over to the pier. We saw some really neat things and, of course, enjoyed lunch at a local fish n chips joint. We did some window shopping along the pier and snapped a bunch of pictures. Our last stop before heading out was to the lovely Ghirardelli Square for some FABULOUS salted caramel hot cocoa. 
the start of our day
Lombard Street
kisses on the pier 
fish n chips
full house! (only the one used for the outside)
human-size gingerbread house
right after a rain storm
trolley shot
Merry Christmas from San Fran
Alcatraz in the background
Sunday was a lovely day attending the family ward and meeting so many of their new friends. That night we joined a few families in their ward for goodies and games. It was a lot of fun and nice to finally put some names to faces. 
Monday, Christmas Eve, we spent the morning watching some Christmas movies and finishing up last minute wrapping. The ladies worked on prepping dinner then we all got cleaned up and ready for family pictures. We took pictures at the most gorgeous location! I seriously could not get over it. Santa Rosa is among some of the finest wine country and it is absolutely BEAUTIFUL! We went to a particularly breath-taking winery that I think really complimented our family pictures.
sneak peak of our photo location
We started off the night with a YUMMY dinner and some sparkling cider. After we cleaned up we ready the Christmas story then exchanged sibling gifts. Then we experimented with a new tradition with Christmas pajamas. Mom and Dad Marsh gave us each a new pair of pjs, but then we had to do a pajama parade to the Harry Connick Jr. song: Wooden Soldiers on Parade. We were all a little hesitant at first, but really got into it by the end. Afterwards we watched another movie, finished up last minute wrapping and headed to bed.
in our new Christmas jammies
post pajama parade
Christmas morning couldn't have started any better. Brad and I woke up at 5:00 a.m. to Skype with my brother: Elder Shaun Baxter. It was seriously the best! There is something so great about being able to Skype and see their facial expression when you are talking to them. Shortly after we hung up and went back to bed, we were called out to the family room to start our Christmas morning. 
We enjoyed a pleasant Christmas morning taking turns opening presents and seeing all the fun things everyone got. Afterwards we cleaned up a bit then enjoyed some orange french toast. SO YUMMY! We lounged a little while the boys played with their new toys. Then we got cleaned up and went to the movie: Les Miserables as a family. Brad and I were both raised on the music and LOVED the movie. We still can't stop listening to the soundtrack, replaying the story as we belt it out in the car. 

skyping with Shauny boy
the boys and their manly knives
the boys started a fire with their manly knives... so proud
Brad had a very manly Christmas: Great-Grandpa's gun, Leatherman, survival knife
as well as a drill from my parents and a few other tools
my favorite Christmas present from Brad
I was also lucky enough to get some great clothes and a FABULOUS pair of boots from the inlaws
my parents gave me lots of home decor trinkets I have been eyeing as well as some great sewing supplies and a few more accessories
Overall we had a fabulous Christmas vacation. I was worried about my first Christmas away from my family, but it couldn't have been more perfect. I am so blessed to have a second family that feels so much like my own. I love each one of them so much and am so grateful for the friendships we share. We enjoyed every minute of our stay and were SO SAD to have to leave the next day :( Our drive home on December 26ty was quite the adventure; enough of an adventure to be saved for its own post here in the next few days...
I hope you all had a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! May you all be blessed with your greatest hopes and dreams.