Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Family Week

Okay, I've just got to sit down and get this post done. I've been working on it for two weeks now, and I keep procrastinating it because it's just so big. But today's the day I'm going to get it posted!

At the beginning of this month we had one of the craziest, busiest weeks we've had in a long, long time. We had eight family members from two different states come to visit three weeks ago, and our days were packed with park trips, beach trips, parties, zoos, and little girls running around everywhere screaming.

On Wednesday, June 5th, Jason's sister Tiffany, our brother-in-law Jarom, and their four little girls flew in from Texas. All of Jarom and Tiffany's girls are under six years old, with the littlest being their 5 1/2 month-old daughter that we met for the first time last week. We hadn't seen them since last July, and they were so much bigger and older than last time. A year makes such a difference when they're that little!

Here's Brynn:



And Aubrey:

Ellie was both delighted and overwhelmed on the day that the girls got here. She was clearly very excited to have so many little people her age here, but she also didn't quite know how to deal with the energy and motion and everything that having four more girls around brought. She kept coming over and sitting in my lap, as a kind of decompression spot.

But, like I said, she was super excited. She especially loved the baby, and kept pointing her out to us and saying "Baby!" Then she would go over to Brynn, and talk to her and address her like "Baby" was her actual name. "Baby? Baby?"

We liked playing with Brynn, too.

On that same Wednesday that Tiffany and everyone arrived, we had a Thomas family girl's night. All of the Thomas girls - Diana (Jason's mom), Tiffany, my sisters-in-law Shelley and Sarah, and me - went out together, and our husbands watched the little girls at home. We had chocolate fondue at The Melting Pot (mmmmm. It was delicious.) and then got hour-long massages  at a place in Tustin. It was such a great night!

Mmmm. These pictures are from my sister-in-law Shelley's blog, Hand in Hand.

The next day was Thursday, Beach Day! We spent the morning at home, and Ellie once again had so much fun playing with all her cousins. Then in the afternoon, we packed everyone up (boy, that was an event in and of itself) and drove to the same beach mentioned in this post. Ellie loved the beach (again), especially the sand this time. The first time she wanted to play in the waves a lot, and this time she mostly wanted to play with the sand.

Jason and I spent most of our time building sand castles with Ellie, Aubrey, and whichever of the other cousins wandered over. Aubrey kept thinking of "contests" that she wanted us to participate in. "Okay, now you have to build the biggest castle! And I'll be the judge." "Okay, now you have to dig a tunnel! And I'll be the judge." It was so funny, because she said that I won (over Jason) every time, even if I wasn't doing at all what the contest was supposed to be about. She would just change the contest so that whatever I did qualified.

Then she said it was boys against girls, and we had to build a tunnel (or something like that). We pointed out to her that that was slightly unfair, since Jason was the only boy building sand castles but that there were two girls (me and Aubrey). She said Jason was on a team with "Daddy" (Jarom), who was standing like five feet away and definitely not building castles. It was funny. And then later, in that same boys vs. girls contest, she announced, "Okay, okay, boys can help girls now, and girls will still help girls." Oh, Aubrey. You're a crackup.

Ellie's favorite part about the sandcastles was smashing them. We'd use the little castle molds to make a ton of towers, and she would delightedly smash all of them. I spent twenty minutes building one castle that Ellie destroyed in less than a minute. She loved it.

Picture from Shelley's blog Hand in Hand.
Also from Shelley's blog Hand in Hand.

My own favorite activity at the beach that day was when Jason, Ellie, and I went over and sat on this little sand cliff-thing in front of the waves. The waves would come up and smash the sand we were sitting on, spraying Ellie with water (which she thought was funny) and collapsing the sand beneath us (which I thought was funny). We did that for a while, and it was really fun.

That night (Thursday) my sisters Alyse and Sydney got into town. They live in Utah, and we hadn't seen Sydney since last August. Alyse is pregnant right now, and due the first week of this August. We were really excited to see both of them.

This cute picture is also from Shelley's blog Hand in Hand.
On Friday we all went to Irvine Park (you can see our previous Irvine Park trips here and here and here). At Irvine Park we...

Went on the train:

Rode ponies (well, Aubrey and Mikayla did):

Played with goats in the petting zoo:

Looked at all the animals in the rest of the zoo:

Did sudden inventories of Daddy's face:

Here Ellie was scratching Jason's scruff, going "Schh Schh Schh."

"Flew" on the bird wall:

And got really close to the free-ranging peacocks all around:

This peacock is obviously male, but there were lots of females around too, and they had little baby peacocks!

On Saturday we had Skylar's birthday party in the morning. Her birthday's not really until next month, but we wanted to celebrate it when we were all together. It was a princess-themed party, and the girls all wore princess dresses (or skirts) and princess crowns. They even had a princess bounce house!

Ellie loved the bounce house. She kept running around inside of it, bouncing off the walls and the floors and laughing and laughing and laughing. 

The birthday girl. :)

Right after the birthday party, Alyse had a baby shower. It was a combined baby shower with her friend Sheri, and it was at this really nice park on top of a hill. I was in charge of the decorations and the games. :) Alyse is having a boy and Sheri is having a girl. A lot of people came, and it was really fun.

My cousin Shelley, Alyse, and my Grandma

After the baby shower, we went back to the Thomas house and took a family picture. It was the only time all of us were together the whole week, and we only had like a ten-minute window to take the picture. But we did it! Alyse took the pictures for us, and we got some pretty cute ones. Here are some of the best:

A couple hours later we tried to get a picture of all of the girls together. This was the result:

The next day was Sunday, and we went to church with all of the girls. Before church, Ellie and her cousins were running around and around the house in big circles, screaming all together. They'd do a big loop around the house, yelling "Aaaaaaahhh!" and then do another loop, and another, and another, all screaming together and having the best time of their life. At one point, they had finally calmed down a little bit and stopped screaming, until Ellie walked up to Skylar and yelled "Aaaaaaahhh!" at her, and then it started all over again.

We loved having Tiffany and Jarom and their girls here, and it was sad when they left on Monday. Ellie's asked for them a lot of times since, looking around and saying "Aubwey?" and "Baby?"

On Monday after Tiffany left, Alyse, Sydney, Ellie and I went to the beach. Alyse and Sydney hadn't been in CA yet on Thursday when everyone else had gone, and they wanted to go while they were down here. So, we packed up all the beach toys and headed out. Ellie wanted to hold the beach toy bag on her lap:

She was perfectly content like this, and held the toys like that for most of the way to the beach. At the beach (we went to Huntington this time), we played in the water and made lots of sandcastles again. Ellie's favorite thing this trip was the sand crabs. The sand crabs were much bigger at Huntington than at the beach we had been to before, and Ellie was fascinated with them. We put some (with water and sand) in one of the buckets for Ellie to look at. She kept pointing at them and touching them and saying "Cab? Cab!"

On Monday night we went to Farrell's Ice Cream Parlor with my Dad and stepmom Debbie. The food was good and we had a great time. Ellie didn't like the siren they had, though. It was too loud for her, and we were sitting right next to it. After they saw it was scaring her, they stopped ringing it for the rest of the time we were there, though, which was really nice of them.

Ellie, Alyse, and Sydney got balloon animals. Ellie got a turtle that she hugged really tightly to herself.

Ellie trying to wear her turtle on her head, like Alyse and Sydney were wearing their sharks.

The next day (Tuesday, June 11) was Zoo Day. Jason, Ellie, Alyse, Sydney, and I went to the Santa Ana Zoo. It was fun and we saw lots of cool animals. Ellie wasn't really interested in the animals this time. She mostly just wanted to run around.

Drinking from the water fountain
Ready to drive!
Where did Ellie go?
There she is!

Alyse and Sydney headed back to Utah the next day, Wednesday June 12th.

It was so wonderful having so much family in town and we enjoyed our time with them so much. I wish we could live right next to everyone and see them all the time. We love our family!