|the closest we got to seeing Ben... in Gingerbread form|
|the girlies in front of the wine-tasting shops|
|entering San Fran|
|just before the play|
|just like NYC|
|the Christmas Carol crew|
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|
|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|
|Merry Christmas from San Fran|
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|
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.
|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
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.