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Monday, January 3, 2011

Christmas In Yosemite

The panorama from Tunnel View when we arrived in Yosemite

Here we are, kids -- almost to the cabin!

We had a really lovely family holiday this year -- 14 folks got together at Yosemite to celebrate Christmas! In addition to the four of us, we were joined by my parents, S's mom, my sister and her family, and S's brother and family.

Here we are, "the whole fam damily," as my Mom would say

We rented a six bedroom cabin so there would be room for all of us, and there was lots of Santa magic, since we had five kids age five and under. It was the first time my kids had seen snow, and that was definitely a highlight of the holiday. When we arrived, BJ immediately wanted to go outside and play. (Thanks as usual go to my dad for being so good about taking pics and giving me the go-ahead to post a few here!)

Jen and BJ strolling out into the snow

BJ had been talking about seeing snow for months leading up to our trip. He immediately wanted to eat some, and then make snowballs.
And once you've made snowballs, of course you throw them!

Gotcha, Dad! And I'll getcha again!

At first, BB was so overwhelmed to Actually Be In A Place With Snow that she didn't know quite what to do. Here she is taking it all in:

But it didn't take them long to figure it out. Here's BB tossing one of her first snowballs towards S:
Catch it if you can, Dad!

S and I had a lot of fun in the snow, too. You can't really see it, but he has a snowball in his right hand, poised to toss it right at me. He was a little shy, having popped BJ in the face with a rather icy snowball just a few minutes before (happily, BJ was fine after a few surprised tears).

And this ended up fine, too; whether on purpose or not, neither one of us had especially good aim, even at such close range.

After some snowballs, BB immediately wanted to make a snowman. She'd been talking about this snowman for a good two months -- back in October, she asked me to write down a note to be sure that we brought a carrot to Yosemite so that the snowman would have a nose!

And here he is, all finished up! (Pop-Pop and Giki had brought along a nifty snowperson creation kit, including wooden cutouts for a top hat and other accessories, so it looked quite spiffy.)

But he didn't keep that nose for long.... later, once we'd gone inside, we got a visit from this furry guy:
And while we were watching from the windows, we saw him oh-so-carefully rear up and extract the snowman's carrot nose with his canine teeth! He ate the nose in a few chomps, checked out the wooden bits to be sure they weren't edible, and then hung around for a bit, apparently wondering if we would toss down some more salad. (We didn't.)

Day 1 included some sledding as well, hot cocoa (naturally), and a blazing fire. BJ and I particularly enjoyed watching the flames. Nothing quite like a cozy fire in the fireplace when there's snow outside.
In the evening, we decorated the little tree we'd brought along in our very full minivan.

What's Christmas without carols? We planned ahead and brought karaoke! It was especially popular with the kids, and "Go Tell It On The Mountain" was the runaway surprise hit. (I think the kids must have sung it two dozen times, at least.)
Other highlights from the holiday: Lots of opportunities for reading to kids!

Me reading to cousin M and my own kidlets. Love me a lapful of kids and a book!

The kids loved playing with Uncle R, my sister's husband -- so fun to see him with the little ones. He's such a good guy, as you can tell from the adult-to-child ratio in the following fully representational picture:

Don't forget making the traditional Happy Birthday Jesus Cake!

Note the figurines, family heirlooms which have been bleached over the years due to repeated trips in the dishwasher. Yes, my mom brought them especially, all the way from the East Coast.

We enjoyed a nice day trip down into the valley. While my sister's family went on a hike with my dad, my mom joined us for a trip to the visitor's center (which BJ was especially pleased to visit, since that's where the "scientific stuff" could be found).

It was so nice to spend time with everybody for the holiday, especially my sister and her family. Easily the hardest thing about living in California is being so far away from my family on the East Coast. We are very lucky to get to see my parents several times a year, because now that they are both retired they are able to visit pretty often. But it's harder to get to see my sister, since both families are tied to working schedules and we all have kids (and my sis is now expecting her second!) and everybody knows how challenging that makes it. But it's such funt o see the cousins all together. Golly but I miss them already!

Cousin B with BB and BJ. My mom says that if my sister B decides to name their second child with ANOTHER name that begins with B, she won't be held responsible for the consequences.

Uncle R, Auntie B, and cousin B hamming it up!
On Christmas Eve, we opened new pajama outfits for the kids, a tradition from my own childhood. Then BB explained why we needed to leave out cookies and a carrot.
It's for the reindeer, of course!
On Christmas day, Santa was very good to everybody. BJ was delighted with his astronaut outfit-- complete with boots, gloves and of course a helmet!
BB received her Prince Eric doll as requested.
Though he and Ariel may not have gotten along all that well initially... I mean, they wouldn't even look at each other!

She also received a yo-yo from Santa in the specified shade of PINK.

BJ was very happy to get Lots Of Scientific Stuff, including several science kits for kids. He's studying this one very seriously.

Another very special gift -- the princess dresses that Nana J made for the girls. Four dresses made from scratch in less than a week! Go, Nana J! BB has been wearing hers a lot and really enjoying it.

Among other nice things, I received a pretty necklace from BB and a sewing basket from BJ. It was his own idea. So thoughtful of my guy!
BB received a container of "treasures" (confetti shapes in shiny glitter) and delighted in handing them out to everybody.
It was a long, full Christmas day, with love and good cheer and many sweet moments including this one:

Pop-Pop and Giki taking a break on Christmas day!
When I was growing up, when we were home for the holidays we always had a traditional Christmas Day nap. I was very happy to bring back this tradition on Christmas this year, because I unfortunately had a bad case of allergies while we were at the cabin. (As best I can tell, I was reacting to something inside, since it was worst on the day we spent most of the day indoors.) But aside from that sniffly inconvenience, I really couldn't have asked for a nicer holiday. And to top it all off, we got fresh snow falling on Christmas night, just in time for the kids to see it before going to bed.

"Best Christmas EVER," exclaimed BJ when he went out into the snow.

Play in the snow in your pajamas at night? Without a jacket? Sure! It's Christmas!

Who cares if I don't have on socks? It's Christmas and it's snowing!

Even though it meant digging out in the morning when we had to leave, it was really neat that the kids got to see their first snow falling on Christmas day in Yosemite.

Thanks to S, his brother M, and R for digging out the cars from almost a foot of snow!

And truly, the new fallen snow made it a winter wonderland, full of magic and peace.

More storms hit soon after we left, so we felt very grateful that we had enough snow for it to be pretty but not so much that it snowed us in. One of the many blessings that were in abundance this Christmas. I hope yours was as wonderful!


tierramor said...

You got a visit from the Christmas coyote! Lovely post, lovely pics. So glad it all went well - looks like a beautiful time!

cath c said...

gorgeous way to spend christmas, extended family, snow, yosemite...

when i was growing up in ct, mostly jr high and hs, a bunch of families would go up to a ski chalet in vt over christmas break and spend it skiing, laughing, drinking cocoa (the adults drank much stronger stuff) playing pool, darts, pinball, charades. some of my favorite memories. we averaged about 5-6 families - upwards of 35 ppl, plenty of teens and preteens among us. never a dull moment, even the year the avg temp was -70 and we spent most of it cooped up together and wanting to ski.

~Debra said...

I swear your parents never age at all! They look as lovely as ever! And it sure was nice to see a picture of your sister as well. I haven't seen any of her in ages.

Hope you all are having a wonderful New Year!

Jen (Mama's Magic Studio) said...

It was truly a magical time. Christmas Coyote -- love it!!!

Wonderful memories, Cathy. Sounds fantastic for both the younger set and the adults! There's just something about snow (even if it does coop you up inside!)

Debra, you're so sweet! I popped over to your blog this evening and enjoyed seeing pics of y'all too. Golly how everybody has grown! Time sure flies. Happy New Year to you too!