2015 has been a good year for our family. Here’s a month by month look at some of the highlights.
- January – We started 2015 by finishing up a marathon visit with family. We rang in the new year with fireworks and soul food with Brad’s family in Lake Charles, then spent a few days in Dallas before making the long, cross country drive back to Los Angeles. While the trip was a daunting number of miles (and hours!) on the road, we found it enjoyable. There were so many different landscapes and scenic views along the way, and we had fun listening to audiobooks and surprising the kids with activities from their travel goody bags (thanks Nana!) whenever things got dicey. But we were happy to discover temps near 70 when we got home, considering that the road trip took us through areas where there was snow on the ground and highs in the 30s. Brrrr!
- A couple of weeks after we settled back in at home, Peter ended up in the ER with a nasty mouth injury. He and Benjamin were playing rough, and Benjamin’s head ran into Peter’s mouth, damaging his top front teeth and gum. Poor guy. Thankfully, the injury ended up healing on its own (he had to be on a soft diet for awhile), and we were relieved that he didn’t lose his teeth. At the end of the month, we renewed our Disneyland annual passes. After taking a year off, we were excited to get back to one of our favorite places, and to introduce Madeleine to our favorite attractions.
- February – After an eventful January, we were forced to hunker down at home, when we all came down with various ailments. Benjamin had strep, I had the flu, Madeleine had an ear infection and stomach virus… It wasn’t very fun for any of us, but we did manage to fit in a couple more Disneyland trips between illnesses.
- March – We turned the corner to good health in March, and had two birthdays to celebrate. First, we celebrated Benjamin’s 7th at Disneyland, and then we had a Mardi Gras themed party at home to celebrate Madeleine’s first (gumbo, king cake, beads, good times!). We closed out the month with a family day trip to the Natural History Museum. We all had fun checking out the dinosaur bones and impressive dioramas.
- April – Brad’s mom came for a visit during the first half of the month. We enjoyed seeing her and celebrating Easter together. We attended our church’s annual Easter service on a football field – the only time of the year when the entire congregation is in the same place at the same time (as opposed to regular Sundays when there are three services).
- The Easter bunny brought some goodies to the kids, and we dyed and decorated eggs for a hunt in the backyard. For my birthday, my request was that I not have to cook all day. So for lunch, we picked up Corner Bakery and had a picnic at the park, and for dinner, Brad made burgers and fresh guacamole, and we had cake from Ralph’s. The next day we continued the celebration at Disneyland.
- May – For Mother’s Day, we took a wonderful, memorable day trip to the Santa Ynez Valley with friends: a picnic lunch from a local sandwich shop, wine tasting in and around Los Olivos, and blueberry picking. The weather was perfect, and the grown ups were able to relax and chat while all the kids played together (and the older ones watched out for the little ones). We had such a nice time that I’m hoping to take a similar trip in 2016.
- Later in the month, our family of five drove down to the IKEA in Burbank in hopes of picking out new beds for the boys. While our quick dinner on the way out was somewhat pleasant (can’t go wrong with those meatballs!), the shopping portion of the trip was so stressful (it was like the employees were following us around just to point out every bad thing the boys were doing), we abandoned the idea of new bedroom furniture altogether! We will never shop at IKEA again with three small children in tow.
- June – As school wound down for the boys, the first grade classes put on a super cute production of The Wizard of Oz. Benjamin was the cyclone. After several days of perfecting his big scene at home, he did a great job twisting and turning around the stage. On June 11, Peter had his last day of preschool. We were sad to say goodbye to his wonderful teachers and the rest of the staff. It’s been strange to not see them this school year! Benjamin finished school the next day, and he was thrilled to say goodbye to first grade and hello to summer! For Father’s Day, Benjamin picked out the recipes and helped me make enchiladas and cheesecake for Brad. We wrapped up June and started July with a staycation at Disneyland. We spent two nights at our favorite Anaheim hotel (kids eat free for every meal, newly renovated suites, views of the fireworks from the hotel, etc.) and had a great time. One night when we didn’t have the energy to deal with the hot weather and the crowds, we took the kids to see Inside Out in Downtown Disney.
- July – Once we were back home, Brad and I had a rare date night out of SCV – we drove to Ventura to listen to some live big band/jazz music at a wine bar. We loved the music and the refreshing coastal air. On July 4 we joined our neighbors for their annual company party (In n Out truck, games, great view of the city fireworks). The boys had fun hanging out with their former babysitters who were home from college for a visit. I took the kids to the beach a couple of times during the month (so nice to escape the dry heat of Valencia!), and Brad and I took in our first Dodger game of the season on a beautiful, unusually cool July night – and they won!
- Mom and Dad drove across the country and arrived for their annual visit in mid July. They brought us a box of sweet, juicy Ruston peaches – the first we’d had in years! After they’d had a few days to rest after the long road trip, we took a day trip up the coast. We stopped for brunch in Santa Barbara, then took in some fascinating history at the La Purisima Mission near Lompoc. It has been restored to look like a working mission from the 1800s. There were almost no visitors there besides us that day, so it was easy to imagine that we had really stepped back in time.
- We made a quick stop at a winery that Brad and I had wanted to check out, then we ended the day in the picturesque town of Solvang for a late lunch, followed by coffee and dessert at one of the town’s many bakeries. Later during their visit, we enjoyed a beach day, and one night we got a sitter for the kids so we could enjoy a nice dinner out with Mom and Dad at our favorite Italian restaurant.
- August – After Mom and Dad headed back to the South, school was just around the corner! (We have a too short eight week summer break.) The week before school started, Peter turned five, and we celebrated with a night at Chuck-E-Cheese, another day at the beach, and an overnight trip to Disneyland.
- The boys started school on August 12, and we were immediately happy with their teachers and classmates. Madeleine and I settled into a new routine while the boys were at school. Brad traveled to Lake Charles for his high school reunion just after the boys started school. He had a fun time reconnecting with old friends. In fact, we ended up meeting up with a couple of his classmates at a Dodger game at the end of the month. Unfortunately, the Cubs’ Jake Arrieta pitched a no hitter, but we still had a nice time.
- September – Early in the month, I took in my third and final Dodger game of the season – this time with a friend. The moms’ group that I’m in started meeting again after the summer break, and the boys settled into school a little more.
- October – October was still dreadfully hot here, but it was all about the fall festivals. So, Peter and Benjamin had to suffer for fun in their Captain America and Harry Potter costumes during not one, not two, but three different occasions. (We spared Madeleine the discomfort, and only dressed her as Minnie Mouse for our Halloween night trick-or-treating.) Brad had his longest work trip of the year this month – a two week European tour that had him spending time in England, Wales, France, and Germany. He even stayed in a French chateau for a few nights, and we had fun FaceTiming him while he was there so he could show us all the interesting things about it. He returned home on the evening of Halloween, just in time to join us for trick-or-treating.
- November – To celebrate Brad’s return, we took the boys out of school one day for a family fun day at Disneyland. It was totally worth it to enjoy the smaller crowds and the beautiful fall weather. We love when we can wear jackets at Disneyland, and we even ate clam chowder in a bread bowl while sitting outside. Later in the month, when the boys had a half day of school, we drove down to Anaheim in the afternoon to experience all the Christmas attractions. The week of Thanksgiving, we took a little vacation to the beach in Oxnard. We stayed at the Embassy Suites Mandalay Beach resort and had a wonderful time. Some of the highlights: feeding trout at the Fillmore Fish Hatchery, taking a walk on the beach at sunset, going to a small but fun children’s museum (when it was too crazy windy to be outside one day), soaking in the sights and sounds of the ocean on a beautiful Thanksgiving morning, and eating a Thanksgiving feast at a restaurant in Oxnard before heading back home.
- December – We are only a third of the way through this month, but I’ve been busy getting ready for our annual trip to see family and friends in the South. I’ve finished my Christmas shopping, but still have some Christmas baking to do before moving on to packing for our trip. We will spend time in Dallas, Lake Charles, and Ruston, in order to celebrate Christmas with our parents, and our siblings and their families.
Looking back on 2015, it’s been a year of lots of quality family time at home, as well as some fun adventures both near and far from home. We look forward to what 2016 has in store! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all of you!