Not because I buy them lots of things. Mostly I buy my kids diapers. But I will tell you what makes my kids more spoiled than many - having so many grandparents. They have six grandparents (all living) and 5 living great grandparents. Almost all of whom we saw on this trip.
Since I know that these grandparents are the blog's biggest fans, I'd like to take this opportunity to tell you how much we love you and appreciate you. And to you California grandparents, I want you to know that my kids have been in serious withdrawal. Let's keep the Skyping coming!
One thing I miss about the West Coast is tidepooling. So while we were in California, I had to take advantage of an excellent low tide to head to Carpinteria State Beach with my very dear friends the "Spattersons". I used to babysit the boys when they were young, and it's so fun to see them growing up. I can't believe how awesome they all are. And the tidepooling was choice. Special thanks to Kathy, who took most of these photos (all the good ones are hers).
While we were in California, we caught up with some Florida friends who were also visiting relatives. Since they were in the San Diego area, it only made sense to meet up halfway - at the Page Museum of course. (This is the location of the La Brea tar pits.)
The Odenwalders showed up en masse - a big group of kids, parents, grandparents and even a great-grandma. Awesome! Most importantly, Stellan got to see Kirk and Rachelle got to hang out with Heidi. Oh, what a happy reunion!
Since then, we talk about our trip and the tar pits every day. Seriously. Every time Stellan sees a dark puddle, he wants to know if it's a tar pit. Also, he makes me tell him stories about animals that get trapped in tar pits. It obviously made a huge impression, although we're still working out the whole prehistoric-mammals-were-not-dinosaurs thing.
Stellan is cousin-deprived, living thousands of miles away from any of his. But he loves them, and he got to see them while we were in California. They were obviously very cute together, and of course it's super fun to watch my brothers and sisters as parents. (They are all very good at it.)
Also fun was to watch my Uncle Rob's boys play with my son. You see, Uncle Robbie is only 9 years older than me, so when I was a kid at family parties, we would hang out because he was a kid too. Now his boys are a few years older than my son, and they play with Stellan like Robbie played with me.
I had an amazing déjà vu experience after Christmas dinner. Riley (age 10) said to Stellan, "Do you know how to put candles out with your finger? You gotta lick it like this..." And suddenly I remembered the Christmas I was 6 years old and Uncle Robbie was explaining the same thing to me. Family is awesome.
Our Christmas in Santa Barbara was a blast. The kids and I spent 3 blissful weeks with family and friends in my hometown. I spent lots of time at the Museum (I even gave planetarium shows while I was there). We went tidepooling, we ate yummy food, we shopped at Trader Joe's, we went to the nativity at the Mission, we did a semi-impromptu musical number in sacrament meeting, we watched bowl games on cable, we pawned the kids off on relatives.
But most importantly, we had a blast hanging out with the fam. In retrospect, the first week was a big build-up as siblings started arriving and we waited for more to come. Then there was the middle part, which was smashed full of love, hugs, jokes, presents and general merry-making. Then people started leaving, which was almost excruciating. I managed to see all 7 of my siblings over the course of the trip and also all 3.5 of my nieces and nephews, as well as 42% of my cousins (3 in total).
As Kevin put it, "It was so good to see all of you! We love you, we miss you."
-We spent the holidays in Santa Barbara with my family. It was awesome. Many photo albums to post. Details to expound.
-The kids and I stayed 3 weeks, Kevin flew in and out for a week in the middle. In case you were wondering, flying with a three-year-old and a six-month-old by myself was about as horrific as it sounds. Complete with missing flights and preschoolers escaping on the moving walkway with I was nursing Rachelle.
-We came home with colds that continue to linger. Don't be jealous.
-Having more Christmases than you can count on one hand totally rocks. Do be jealous. We made it last well into the New Year.
-Kevin finally got interim security clearance at his new job and is no longer sitting in a conference room doing nothing but watching FOX News all day. He now has a desk with 5 monitors (I have monitor envy) and is training on some of his duties until his full security clearance comes through. BTW, thanks to everyone who has been contacted by the FBI.
-Stellan started Sunbeams at church. (That means he has left the nursery and is now considered a real live kid and attends Primary classes until he turns 12.) Since I was just called as the 2nd counselor in the Primary presidency, that means we both went to Primary for the first time on the same day. He looked more cute and excited than I did.
-We're leaving again soon so I better stop being a slacker and get on with the blogging already! I gotta catch up with Christmas 2010 before Christmas 2011 is upon us.
Look for many blog posts to come. I'll try and limit myself to a healthy photo to text ratio.