Friday, January 23, 2009

December in California

Deanna was insistent on spending a full three weeks in LA to help cope with the moving blues. It seemed like a long time, but she had a long list of items that we needed to buy in the states. There are some things that are far too expensive in Kuwait and there are things that are just too expensive.

So we spent the first week shopping and shopping and shopping. It was the best week to do it as it takes 1 week to recover from the jet lag--Kuwait is 11 hours ahead in the winter time! We shopped so much that by the end we had trouble getting the rest of the items on the list as we were simply tired of spending money.

When were not shopping we were at Grandma Smith's house. That was the better place to be as the kids loved it there. There was simply not much to do at Deanna's dad place for the kids. My brother had an enormous TV and he had Xbox with Rock Band. The kids spent most of the days playing the musical video game, including vocals for the three weeks in California.

Talyn is rockin' out to tunes of the 80's. After the last three weeks they can sing along with Duran Duran and the Go Go's.

Nyssa sat this one out while Uncle Jon took over on the drums.

The first Christmas thing I wanted to do was to see the decorations on the Mission Inn in Riverside. It was not the most amazing thing ever, but it was nice. The Mission does do a nice job, but it was quite a drive from Azusa.

Here the kids take a quick picture with some of Santa's helpers.

Here is a nice "California Christmas" one needs a jacket.

As the first week wore on my sister Anne decided to invite us to a day at Knott's Berry Farm. Knott's Berry Farm, the red-headed step-child of SoCal theme parks, can be quite a nice day as it is never very crowded.

One of the must-see attractions is the Wild West Stunt Show. This was the first thing we saw and the kids loved it. The skit went through its standard pratfalls and high falls and then it began to weave a lit stick of dynamite into the story line. The actors ran around the stage with the dynamite trying to get rid of it.

Most of the audience laughed at this point, but some of the kids were quite concerned about the noise would ensue the impending explosion....

After the stunt show, we rode the mine car ride. Boy, does that ride need updating. That was almost painful. We spent a good 5 minutes at the station waiting to begin the ride.

Talyn tried to distract himself by listening to the conversation that Nyssa and Magali were having. I don't think it was working.

We ended the day with the requisite Charlie Brown picture. I think it turned out well despite the tree being too healthy.

The next week I decided to take the kids to Disneyland. We went last year and we had a good time. I thought to take the family again and see if we could repeat the experience.

Nothing says Christmas like the Main Street Christmas shot.

Talyn did not appreciate me commenting on his driving.

The morning that we leave Disney we try to hit a Disney Breakfast. The kids like the Lilo and Stitch breakfast. The kids enjoy the company for the chance to meet the characters...

as well as to function as a resting post.

Nyssa, Dante, Talyn and Deanna's knees pose for the Christmas family picture.

Who needs a lot of stuff when you are with family? This is Christmas day. We had a big shindig with the family on the 24th complete with gift exchange. Everyone was happy.

I thought it would be a neat idea to do something neat for the my neice's and nephews. But what to get them? Well, I thought I could do something different. I would buy them snacks that their parents never buy for them. So I bought Kraft macaroni and cheese for Magali and Natalie. I bought Batman snacks and Veggie tale fruit snacks for Markie and Madion. I was having so much fun that I started buying breakfast cereal. I was shopping alone very early on the 23rd. Since I was alone I did not keep track of how much I bought. In the end I think I bought nearly 20 boxes of cereal.

I not only bought things for my neices and nephews, but my siblings and their respective spouses. It was a little surreal to spend the next two hours wrapping cereal and macaroni and cheese. However, the gifts were cheap and I was having fun. Was it a hit? I think many people were surprised. In the end, I will only know next year if people say "remember last year" and "that was fun, let's do it again". With this economy, I may have ahead of the curve for Christmas 2009.

Merry Christmas from the Xystus family.