Saturday, December 31, 2016

Christmas camp out on Santa Cruz Island

A little over 8 years ago, Billy purchased a trip for he and I to boat out to the channel islands and camp on Santa Rosa. Well, he gave it to me on my birthday... the day William was born. Needless to say, we didn't use it right away and it was buried and sort of forgotten about.
We started talking about going out to the islands as a family recently and the gift card was unearthed. I called the boat company, Island Packers, and it was still in their records! I made the call, reserved a camp site at Scorpion Bay on Santa Cruz island, and then booked our boat ride over for the Tuesday after Christmas. It would be our family Christmas trip this year.
We could not have asked for better weather. We had some rain right around Christmas and more rain the weekend after, but hit it just right with a really warm clear day on Tuesday & Wednesday! The boat ride over went pretty well, it was a little windy and so the ocean was not completely calm. I of coarse was the one and only who got sick and lost my breakfast of the side of the boat. But Billy and all the kids did really good.
We unloaded all our gear, food, and water off the boat and had about a half mile walk to the camp ground. I thought that being winter time, we would be the only ones camping out there, but boy was I wrong about that. The camp ground was quite full actually and we were one of the only ones not staying for more than one night. It was great to see.

Once we got our tent set up and all our things stored away so that the island foxes couldn't get our things, we set out on a hike. It was a nice afternoon and the views were all clear. We didn't make it too far, but we found a pretty spot to take our family picture.

We checked out the visitors center and learned a little bit more about the island and what used to go on out there. Pretty interesting stuff.
Being winter time, the day ended all to soon. There are no camp fires allowed on the island, so once it got dark, we tucked ourselves into the tent. Billy read a book to the boys, Leila fell asleep next to me, and we were down for bed at like 6:30!

The next morning, I forced myself to change into some running clothes and headed out to watch the sunrise from the front ridge of the island. It was really beautiful. I ran a 5 mile trail along the ridge, over to Potato harbor lookout, and back into camp. All the kids had eaten oatmeal and hot chocolate by the time I got back and were running around and playing. I fixed myself the same, then we broke down camp. We took all our gear back to the loading pier so that we didn't have to do it later and rush at 3pm.  Then we set out for another hike. This time we took the other ridge toward Santa Rosa island. It was the trail I had run in the morning, so I was familiar with everything the second time. The kids all did great, except for Jameson, who wasn't to into walking that morning. What can you do, he is 4 after all. At one point when we reached the trail to loop back to the camp, I stayed there with Jameson while everyone else pushed on to Potato harbor. It was a really warm and clear day, I didn't mind laying in the sunshine with Jameson one bit. Once the rest of the crew returned we made our way back to Scorpion's cove. We hung out on the waters edge, looked for cool rocks and sea glass, and enjoyed the afternoon until the boat would come to pick us up.

The boat ride back to Ventura was full. But we had a nice spot on the back of the boat (mostly for me, just in case my stomach wasn't going to cooperate again) The ocean was really smooth and calm on Wednesday! It was warm, sea creatures were abundant, and I almost felt like I was in a movie. We saw migrating gray whales, tons and tons of dolphins, even a sea turtle was spotted! Not only that, but we were watching the sun slowly set the last leg of the ride. By the time we reached the harbor, the sun had just touched down behind the islands we had just come from. It was really beautiful AND I didn't get sick! Even with all the times we slowed down and stopped to see ocean creatures! I made it. It was a really great trip and we were all so glad we did it. The boys are already asking when we can go camping again.

Hooray for a Christmas camp out!

Friday, December 30, 2016

10 YEARS!!!

Yesterday Billy & I celebrated our 10th year of marriage! Wow! It is almost hard to believe that we got married 10 years ago. Doesn't seem that long ago and yet it seems like we have been together for ever.
I had the idea to set up a little lunch at the gazebo where Billy proposed to me. Our old neighborhood, Oak Grove, and the little white gazebo on the hill over looking a little piece of ocean and part of town. It was a beautiful day, just like the day we were married. I picked up Lazy Acres salad bar, like we would sometimes do when we were dating. I also brought the fixings for strawberry short cake, which is what Billy had prepared the evening he proposed.
My good friend Lauren and her family helped me set up the gazebo too! Her daughter, Ellie, picked and arranged a beautiful flower arrangement! It smelled so good! I'm so lucky to have such good friends.
The rest of the afternoon was spent cruising around, grocery shopping, and Billy getting a hair cut :) The things that you don't really want to do with all the kids in tow.

I feel so blessed to have met Billy 12+ years ago. He has made my life more beautiful and complete than I could have ever dreamed. I smile every day to have 4 healthy and beautiful children who I love so much. Having an eternal companion who is as devoted to me as I am to him, is a priceless gift that I treasure with all my heart. Billy is a wonderful Dad, a loving husband, and a kind, humble, and hard working man. How did I get so lucky!
Happy 10 year anniversary Honey. I love you so much!

Monday, December 26, 2016

Christmas 2016

We had another close to home Christmas, no traveling for us again this year. Christmas morning was frosty and cold, the kids got ready for church and had enough time to look through their stockings and open one gift each. We snapped a quick family photo and zoomed off to 9am church.

The meeting was wonderful, full of music and a very touching message by our favorite Jon Dunn. We said some hello's and gave out some Christmas hugs to our ward family, then back home for more Christmas fun.
The boys and Leila were excited and appreciative of all their gifts given and received. Leila was so fun to watch, her first year understanding and enjoying the gifts she was given. The boys were all sweet with her to help her open and be excited about the gifts they had chosen for her.

We made holiday pancakes once the presents were all unwrapped, an idea that came from my cousin Lisa. She had sent me a picture of all her kids with their decorated pancakes and I knew that it would be a hit in our home too.

The rest of the day was spent playing with new things, enjoying outside, chatting with loved ones, and prepping a tasty Christmas dinner. I made a new recipe of rolls as I didn't prep refrigerator rolls on Christmas eve (I made two loaves of bread for Christmas morning Sacrament instead). The rolls were sweet orange rolls and they reminded me a bit of cinnamon rolls except with orange rinds.  Those took a while. Other than that everything was pretty fast. We baked a salmon fillet, pan fried Brussel sprouts, and I made a pomegranate and kiwi fruit salad. Billy and I also enjoyed a big green salad as well. It was a wonderful and beautiful feast of red, green and orange :)

Everyone was healthy and happy and we count our blessings this Holiday season. Life is great!

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Montecito Holiday Party

I thought maybe because we weren't traveling for the holidays that they would be a little less busy.... hahaha. Not true. Really, I suppose it doesn't help that we have been slowly remodeling our kitchen for the past 6 weeks, during the holidays. Almost there.
So, on the 10th of December was the annual Montecito fire family holiday party. It did not disappoint again this year. The back of the station was filled with a bounce house, huge blowup slide, and a Velcro wall.

The boys had some early fun on those while I helped set up the party in the engine bay. I was in charge of crafts again this year and had 3 long tables dedicated to entertaining party guests. There was also a character artist, photo booth, and Santa made his appearance.
I brought crafts for young and old and they were a hit this year. Popsicle stick Christmas tree ornaments, pipe cleaner and bead creations, and no sew sock snow men were all well visited. On top of that, one of the other fire wives brought in little "gingerbread" houses (made out of graham crackers) and tons of candy for the kids to decorate! It was all fantastic and a lot of kids were able to enjoy themselves.

Because I was in charge of crafts, I pretty much had my back turned to the party all night. Billy made me a plate of food and one point and told me to stop and eat. He is so good to me. He was on duty that day and did leave twice for calls, but helped me with Leila and the boys when he could.
At the end of the night I did sneak away quickly and jumped in the photo booth with Leila and with all the kids. We got a couple cute pictures.

The party was great and everyone had a nice time that came. Maybe next year, if I am in charge of crafts again, I will have it set up so that I don't need to be so present. Then I can actually enjoy the party a bit more.