Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Newport Beach Temple

I almost forgot a few pictures from California. We visited the Newport Beach temple.  
The temple was closed so we were unable to attend a session but we were able to walk around the grounds and enjoy the beautiful weather. I loved the architecture of this temple with all the arches and the black shiny tile that led the path up to the doors. The temple grounds were amazing too. It was like a lush tropical scene from a movie with lots of pathways leading through the flowers and other foliage.  There was a large running water fountain that began at the base of the temple and ran down a few feet down a hill. This was a major problem because the first thing Elizabeth wanted to do was take her shoes off and run through the water.

This is my favorite picture. She was busy singing I Love to See the Temple the entire time too. This will definitely be a keeper for when she can actually go in.
It really was beautiful and I hope I get to see the inside someday.

Next we boarded the plan and took off the Seattle. We had a short layover in Salt Lake where the kids took advantage exploring the plane including the luggage compartments. Thankfully Brandon's parents were on the plane to help me keep the kids occupied and quiet for the 4 hour trip.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

2012 Family Vacation Part 1-California

What a blog post??? I know, where have you been Jess?

The question is where haven't you been? I have been traveling all over the west coast for the last month and a half and am finally back at home ready to get back to reality.

We started our trip driving to AZ in the new car. I have to admit it is so nice to have a bigger car. We stayed at Brandon's parents house for a day before piling in the 12 seater van to drive to Newport Beach, California. The Stoker family reunion on the beach is starting to become a yearly destination and I have to admit, I LOVE IT. We rented a house near the beach (right behind a house that is actually on the beach) that sleeps 12 people. And we couldn't have asked for better weather. It was 75 degrees and sunny every day we were there. The whole week.

We spent most of our time sitting on the beach and playing in the water. Swimming, jumping over the waves, digging holes, and boogie boarding. I really enjoyed watching the kids play in the water while I read books and soaked up some sun. Talk about relaxing.

At night we had fun playing games, enjoying family dinners, and we even took one night to go to see the Disney movie Brave. It was Elizabeth's first movie in the theater. She loved it. Every time something exciting happened she would reach over to my arm like she couldn't control her enthusiasm for the movie.

Another adventure we enjoyed was visiting the tides. It is a little tricky with two small kids and a pregnant belly (throws off my balance). Thankfully all the family helped out. Ashley actually carried Elizabeth potato sack style for most of the trip.
We saw a lot of fun salt water animals including sea anemones, star fish, and a few large black sea slugs. One was right in the path and the kids enjoyed petting it's squishy body and Elizabeth named it Jeffery. All she talked about for the rest of the trip is how much she missed Jeffery.
 It was really sweet.

We also took a trip out to our favorite visitor hot spot, Balboa Island. You can ride the ferry over to the island for $1 each and tour the small island shops. The favorite shop was the sweet shop with over 30 kinds of salt water taffy including carmel apple, passion fruit, and buttered popcorn. Then we ate Balboa bars in the warm sun (taffy and ice cream for lunch, I was not feeling too great) but the kids loved it. I have to admit the highlight of the trip was walking on the beach front and running into Lavelle Edwards sitting on his porch. It was fun chatting and commenting on his BYU flag hanging in the front of his house. 

The whole week went by so fast. I think the kids were all worn out by the end. On one of the last days we were eating dinner and watching Elizabeth out on the porch. We watched her take her swim suit off, grab a pile of towels, and proceed to lay down in the corner to take a nap in the sun. Funniest thing I have ever seen. Once she passed out we moved her to her bed.

The highlight of the week was a bonfire night. It was so peaceful listening to the waves and enjoying a bonfire right on the beach. We had a little trouble with the wood we bought so Ashley went through the dumpster and found some old pizza boxes that saved our fire. As soon as we got on the beach Jackson layed down. I thought he was tired until I realized he was making a sand angel. When I asked what he was doing his response was, "I'm making a snowman mom." Cute but a little confused. 

 Lizzy enjoying a cookie Smore. Yeah, we had fancy smores including cookie smores and ginger snap and peach smores. YUM!

It was a great trip. Seeing everyone from the family (minus Filipe). I love being together with family there is always someone to talk to. It went by so quick, we were sad when it was over. But that was only the beginning of our vacation month...next stop Seattle.