Happy New Year everyone!
Hope that 2017 is off to a good start for all of you. It certainly is here. We’ve had a lovely holidays here in LA, hanging out with family and friends, and squeezed in a quick getaway to Palm Springs and Joshua Tree too (about 2 hours away). Yesterday, we spent the day at Venice Beach with friends enjoying the sunshine, a surf and a picnic on the beach – not bad for the middle of winter. Today is the Rose Parade in Pasadena so we’re having a quiet day and watching that on TV! That brings to an end the holidays – back to work tomorrow 🙁
Christmas kicked off for us a few weeks ago with brunch with Santa at the Altadena country club – we got all dressed up and Camilla and Leo had on their Christmas dresses ready to hear some carols and meet Santa. It was quite the setup with ‘snow’ all over the floor. Santa and Mrs Claus were very patient with the girls – although it was funny cause both girls are still kind of scared of Santa. With that said, Camilla did play with his beard quite a bit and Leo managed to ask for a Lion, a Dinosaur and a Monkey from a few steps away!
Our next big Christmas event was Leo’s school Christmas Program which was a wonderful morning. She sang carols and other songs with her class and really put on a show – we could hear her from our seats. It was so cute to see her up there on stage! At the end, Santa was there too, and Leo repeated her ask (Lion, Dinosaur, Monkey – every time!)
The Christmas celebrations continued the next night with my work Christmas party, which was James Bond themed at a cool club downtown called the Edison, which still had a lot of old power generation equipment, and had a great atmosphere. A really fun night out!
Another fun activity in the lead-up to Christmas was a trip to the Descanso Gardens ‘Enchanted Forest of Lights’ with Caitlin, Dan and Felix, and Bubba, Christy and Lizzy Jane. They turn the gardens in to a set of really cool light exhibits, with 2 of the favourites being the ‘Lily Pads’ that lit up as Leo and Felix chased each other around, and a set of light shows with music as you stepped on the pads. It was cold, but a hot toddy as we walked helped keep us warm 🙂
Christmas Eve, we started the day with a lovely brunch at Uncle Michael and Aunt Rachael’s (where Camilla suddenly worked out how to climb stairs!). We had Bonnie and Lou over for a nice dinner before Leo put out her milk, cookies, and carrots for Santa and his Reindeer. Leo really is now completely aware of it all, and was very excited for Santa’s visit, even though she was still a little scared of him. In the morning, Nonna and Babbo were back at 7.30am to start the Christmas celebrations. Leo checked the milk and cookies and verified that Santa had come down the chimney while she slept, and with that it was straight in to the present opening! What excitement!
Luckily Santa delivered on the Lion, Dinosaur, and Monkey – even if they weren’t real. 🙂 The girls were also spoiled with lots and lots of other pressies from Santa, Oma/Grand dad and Nonna/Babbo! They were overwhelmed but so excited. By 9.30, we were over at Bubba and Christy’s house to continue the celebrations with a champagne brunch and some pretty decadent food! (Thanks Bubba/Christy for hosting!). After all the excitement we had a quick afternoon nap, before Christmas dinner lasagna feast at Bonnie and Lou’s! What a day!!
In the morning, we got up and got on the road to Palm Springs where we had decided to get a quick 2 night getaway, and we’re glad we did! We spent the first afternoon wondering around town, having a delicious lunch at Cheeky’s (thanks Caitlin for the tip!), taking advantage of happy hour at the hotel, and then an early dinner nearby in town. We then spent the next day exploring Joshua Tree national park, which really was stunning – a cool landscape of rocks and (you guessed it!) Joshua Trees in the high desert. We stopped at a couple of the cool landmarks through the park such as Skull Rock, but the highlight was the 1 mile hidden valley loop – about the limit of our hiking ability with the girls 🙂 Leo was on form though, running around, climbing rocks… and we even caught a first glimpse of snow since there was a little on the ground. We then got really lucky as both girls fell asleep and stayed asleep all the way back to Palm Springs as we took a scenic drive out of the park and through box canyon.
After another drink at happy hour, and dinner at Lulu’s nearby and some decadent milkshakes for dessert, we had an early night in preparation for getting up early to check out the Aerial Tramway – each time we drove past there was a 4 hour wait, so we decided being there at 7.30 to get tickets for the first tram at 8, was the way to go and it completely paid off. The Tramway is a 10 minute ride over 2.5 miles up to 8,500 feet where there is beautiful wilderness and hiking, and at this time of year, lots of snow to play in! We put on our snow jackets, and Leo grabbed her sled (a Christmas pressie from Daddy), and up we went! It is a stunning (and if you ask Jacs) a little scary) ride up the mountain with views out over Palm Springs and the other desert cities. At the top, we were greeted by a foot of snow, so after a hot chocolate, got out there to build snow men (we had to build the whole family!), and do a little sledding. It was the girls’ first time seeing snow properly and was so much fun!
So much fun in fact, that the next day back in LA, we headed up Angeles Crest above Pasadena to play in the snow with Caitlin, Dan and Felix – Leo just couldn’t get enough of building snowmen!
That brings us to New Year’s Eve. Bubba and Christy had the great idea to host a ‘Noon Year’s Eve’ party at lunch. Unfortunately it was raining so the bouncy castle had to be cancelled but we still had a blast with all the kids running around having a blast for the afternoon while we ate, drank, and generally had a great time. At one point, there were about 6 toddlers having a dance party! After all of that fun, we didn’t get anywhere near midnight – we were in bed by 8… but it did mean we were up for our beach day on New Year’s Day to welcome 2017!
Now before we go, a couple of other photos from the past month:
Hope that all of you have had a wonderful Christmas and New Year’s.
Ben, Jacs, Leo and Milla