Thursday, December 29, 2016

Experience Christmas Gift...UNVEILED!!!

Several months ago, Birch and I decided to primarily give the gift of an experience to our kids.  The kids really don't need a lot of things (of course, they would disagree) and we wanted to make memories not more messes at the house to clean up.  So...Christmas morning we had a wonderful time opening gifts from each other and then we read the kids some riddles to try and figure out what our experience gift was going to be this year (last year we went to a cabin and then did the Seattle City Pass).

See if you can figure it out...

-Ride the bus in the sky
-Brain enlightenment
-Food trucks
-Aloha Big Screen
-Bunches o' planes
-Eat, sleep, stay in the city of roses

On our way to our adventure...the wind mills were peeking out over the clouds.

the answer...

First stop was to ride the Portland Aerial Tram

This is actually a regular public transportation method -- we rode it from the food trucks up to OHSU.  It costs $4.55/round trip.  9,000 each day actually ride this tram.  

Pretty cool views of Portland from the air tram

Looks like something from the Jetsons

Then it was lunch at the Food Trucks.  Sadly, they weren't as big of a hit this time as when we stopped of them this past summer.  We went to a different pod and only a few were open since it was the day after Christmas.  Coop was super excited about his Almond Joy Waffle Sandwich...wasn't so tasty in the end, though.

Tyler had a Philly Cheesesteak Asian sandwich 

Nate went for the daring Volcano Pulled Pork Sandwich - it was SO spicy hot that he couldn't finish it.
Next stop...OMSI!!!  We bought this awesome family membership to a museum (actually in Missoula, MT) that is part of an international museum agreement (ASTC reciprocal agreement) that allows us to get into over 300 museums all over the world.  The pass cost us $70 but can be used at tons of places (including the Pacific Science Center, Thanksgiving Point, etc...).
OMSI had such a variety of exhibits - everything from dinosaurs, live lizards, a gingerbread exhibit, chemical, human development, 3-D design, etc...

Coop and Alysee were thinking about Elder Ditto and the good news that his ear is doing well on his mission.

Although the kids kind of found this exhibit to be alarming it was my favorite.  It is actually the only exhibit that I remember from my childhood being at OMSI.  Families have donated their unborn fetus' to be preserved and then to be used for learning.  

One thing the kids did like was seeing the size that baby Sara looked like when she passed away.  I think it gave them all a better perspective of how little she was.

The Space exhibit was the traveling exhibit at OMSI.  I thought it was pretty boring and not hands-on enough.  

The space toilet was most of our favorite parts of the exhibit.  Pretty tricky going potty in space!

Astronaut Nate

Chloe absolutely LOVED the Chemistry Lab.  She got to perform several experiments.

Chloe testing mystery chemicals.

Goggle faces!
 Next stop...The Homewood Suites Vancouver
We learned several years ago that this is a great hotel chain to stay at when traveling with lots of kids.  Monday-Thursday your stay includes free breakfast and dinner.  It wasn't like the most awesome dinner but it was free and filling!  We were super excited when they surprised us with a free room upgrade - two separate rooms plus a living room and kitchen.
 After dinner....
Grannie gave all the kids movie money so we were excited to go see "Moana."  We all were wishing that our surprise experience gift was a trip to Hawaii bit this was the closest we could come.
The next morning...
We drove to the Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum in McMinnville, Oregon.  It was awesome that our museum pass got us into this museum as it is $19/person.  My brother Seth brought over his two oldest kids, Cali and Tommy to join us.  That made it all the more special.

The museum is known for housing the famous Spruce Goose.  Coop and Birch were so enthralled with EVERYTHING!  My favorite part was just walking around with my brother and catching up.  I could have skipped the museum altogether but for those that love planes this was pretty cool!

The space museum was way more cool than the OMSI exhibit on Space.  I have to say, though, that the kids favorite part was riding this free airplane ride.  They rode it like four times as there wasn't a line.
I think the experience trip was a success!!!  It was a good balance of being together, experiencing new things, and enjoying some time together (like games in the hotel room and watching cooking shows until WAY too late).

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Mele Kalikimaka!!

Christmas Morning!!!!
Poor Uncle Lukey wasn't showing Santa he BELIEVES anymore...I think after a year of getting coal he might have learned his lesson.

Nate was thrilled with Santa's delivery of two portable soccer goalies.

Coop putting together his lego kit that was in his stocking.  Santa brought him a Circuit Set.

Chloe was thrilled with her science lab set for making lotion, chapsticks, and soaps from Santa.

Alysee's dream of a khaki green coat and black converse high tops was made true by Santa. (Not pictured was Tyler's ski lift gift certificate for "one day of skiing" and new gloves)

Uncle Lukey was pretty stoked with his flying helicopter until we found that it wouldn't actually charge.  Sorry...lame present.

The kids made some SUPER thoughtful gifts this year.  Chloe was especially creative.  She carved a basketball and Birch's initials on his favorite bar of soap.  She made me a homemade candle in a small jam jar.  This girl actually put to use her hours of YouTube DIY video watching.

a close up of the soap
DRUM ROLL...favorite part of Christmas day!!!!!
our video chat call with Elder Ditto!!!!  It was so wonderful to see his face and hear his voice.  He bore his testimony in Romania and sang two carols to us as well.  Alex had sent us a package from Romania that we had saved until our phone call to open.  It was so fun for all of us to receive such thoughtful gifts!  Alex sent Birch a cool patch to sew on his backpack (matching with Alex), he sent the boys Romanian kendamas!!!, the girls received these cute wooden flower necklaces, and I got a beautiful scarf!

The 60 minutes just flew by!!!  I think one of the main things that stood out to me was him saying that a mission is SO hard but he has been blessed with the gift of enthusiasm and this keeps him going.  He said tearfully that there are days that no one talks to them and it is hard to be away from family in the cold...but final take -- he LOVES Romania and the people!!!  We sure love his guts!!!
 Off to church!!!  Christmas' on Sunday are pretty special.  We enjoyed a one-hour musical sacrament meeting.
Family pictures!!!  Oh wait...where is Birch and Alex?  I don't know why my kids think I am embarrassing.

Luke will be our Elder Ditto duplicate for us this year.  Sure do love this bunch!

I can't remember the last time I shared Christmas with my baby brother Lugey.  I used to wipe his bum, sing him to sleep, and look after him like a second Momma.  Today I got to snuggle next to him on the church pew and all felt right.  Family is where it is at!

I must show off this beautiful scarf that Alex sent me from Romania.  It is cashmere and so soft!

And my greatest love of Lover!!!!

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Christmas Eve 2016

We LOVE Christmas Eve at our house!!  This year was the best because it was on a Saturday and so Birch was home all day long...and even better we had Uncle Luke with us!!

We started the morning out with getting together with the Andersens (and Luke, of course) to do a picture and video scavenger hunt.  We were divided up into five teams (each with 2-3 people on a team) and then after we got our list we jumped into our cars and started checking off our list.  We all had a blast!!!!  When we got back we all watched the videos and pictures and laughed at each other's creativity.  I think all of our favorites to watch was "ordering the french fries with an accent."  Birch ordered using the Sid from "Ice Age."  So much fun!  We all had chicken tacos for lunch and then headed home to finish preparing for the Christmas Eve festivities.

Nate and Hazel building a Christmas Tree with canned food.

Here I am ordering french fries at Burger King with an English accent.

Sage being sized for a ring.

Nate and Hazel finding an animal paw
Christmas Eve!!!!!  
Our famous Christmas Eve night did not disappoint this year.  We teamed up parties with the Andersens and each invited a few families over to share the night with us all.  We started with our HUGE smorgasboard.  This year Birch picked mango salsa and chips, Sara (homemade pizza), Tyler (homemade jojos), Alysee (), Nate (sweet and sour meatballs), Coop (pistachios and hot boneless chicken wings), and Chloe (cheese and crackers).  Since we had about twenty people over we had twenty different choices.  It was a true feast.
Chloe and Sage working away on the gingerbread house.

Chloe caught red-handed eating candy meant for the gingerbread house.

Good company makes it such a memorable night!

Hazel, Emily, and Uncle Luke snuggling.
The talent show!!!!
Coop on the trumpet

Chloe singing "Oh Holy Night"

So fun having the Murdock family here with us to celebrate!
 The Nativity... all the participants draw a part and then have five minutes to find a costume.  There are no tradesies for parts.
Mila was the best Joseph we have ever had!!  Her natural beard totally topped off the character.

The whole cast

The Holy Couple and the donkey (please note that Nate is wearing a bear costume that my mom made for Alex when he was two years old -- his wedgie was totally worth it!)

And there he goes....

Mila snuggling with Uncle Birchy

Wish you were here??  Here is just a clip of the night.  Most all of our guests shared something but to cut down on the time here is just a memory from our families.  Click here to watch the video: