Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Miller Family Reunion

My dad planned last year for the whole family to stay out in Palm Desert the week after Christmas.  It was the one week when we could all actually be together.  We were scattered around the Palm Desert area in three different time shares and it was a blast!

On Monday night we completed Christmas with our $30 gift exchange.  This is a family tradition that we started two years ago (I think).  Everyone in the family buys a non gender specific awesome $30 Christmas present.  We then all get to pick a present following the White Elephant gift exchange rules (I know there's a better term, I just can't think of it now).  It is so much fun to see what everyone ends up with and what presents get stolen.  This year some of the "hot" items were a huge remote control helicopter, a wet/dry vacuum, games, and movies.  But the best gift of all was my dad's remote control giant helium fish; Keri was the big winner with that and she was so excited!  Round 2 of this gift exchange is the secret gift.  This tradition came to us from Aaron's family.  Someone buys a gift and brings it wrapped.  Everyone gets to hold the present and ask one yes/no question  at a time until the gift is correctly identified.  This Keri was a dual big winner because she guessed the mystery gift too!  Here are some pics of our fun night:

 CJ got to pick the first gift of the night.

 Sam looked super excited about this one!
 Aaron was so happy because he ended up with the helicopter!
 Toni got this cool game, but she was really excited about all of the Twilight movies!
 Look at the sheer joy on her face!!
 Now she's truly excited to win this awesome ipod speaker/dock...oh Keri!

Our adventure on Tuesday included plans to take the tram up to the top of the mountain to see the snow.  We all brought cold weather clothes, but we packed some serious snow gear for the kids.  We weren't sure what to expect, but it ended up being my favorite part of the week.  My kids had never seen snow before, so Bailey was very excited.  I happened to find amazing clearance deals on two pink puffy snow outfits for my girls, so we were ready to go.  We all meet in the parking lot around 9:00 and then took the 9:40 tram up to the top.  The tram ride itself was an adventure because it was so high and we were moving quite quickly while rotating around to get a complete 360 degree view of the area.

But before we could do any of that, we had to bundle all of the kids and make the tremendous hike up to the tram.  It really wasn't that long, it just seemed really long dressed in all those layers.  The only downer about this snow excursion is that my mom couldn't take her scooter out in the snow with all of us, so she had to sit at the base of the trail and watch us from afar.  But she did her duty of warning everyone who walked by that the last part of the trail was covered in ice and very slippery.  Most people didn't listen to her so she got to watch some awesome falls.
I don't think Brooklynn could be wearing anymore pink!
Josi was not too excited about all the clothes.
Brooklynn's first touch ...
and taste of snow.  She loved it and bent over to pick it up whenever she could!
My cute, pink, marshmellow baby!  She'll only wear this snow puff outfit once, but it was well worth it.
One of the best parts of our snow adventure was that the boys found these two abandoned sleds at the bottom of the mountain by the trash cans.  One was breaking, but both of them worked good enough for us.  We loaded them up at the top of a small incline and then the boys had to catch them at the bottom before they lost control and ran into a tree.  The kids loved it!
CJ even got in on the action with a little snowboarding.  I think he's missing Utah a little :)
I snapped a shot of Owen and Bailey as they sped by!
Here's Bailey and Kate picking up some speed.
This might be my favorite picture of the entire trip!  I love how Bailey has this wild, crazy, pure joy on her face and tiny Brooklynn is just going along with whatever is happening.  Arms straight out to the side--probably not by choice, just the fact that her outfit is so puffy!
Aaron, Toni, and the marshmellow baby
I actually got a turn to hold her a little bit!
Bailey and her Auntie Toni!
You can barely tell, but that's Tera all bundled up with Kate.
Ty and Keri with the broken sled.

She doesn't quite understand what it is, but she just knows that she wants it.
Our snowman--we didn't build it, just posed with it.  Bailey thought it was very exciting to see a snowman in real life. 
It was pretty difficult to get a good picture of the four of them.
My dad just kept laughing at Brooklynn in her puffy outfit all day.
Papa and the grandkids
Toni and Aaron
Our girls are pink and we are gray
Bailey is showing us the splinter in her finger and Brooklynn is eating some snow.
Kyle, Sam, and kids
Here's Bailey in action in her first snowball fight.  She wasn't too happy to receive the snowball to the face, but she was very excited to throw them at everyone else.
Owen in action
These are our attempts at snow angels.  Brooklynn just looks sad in her's.  She just looks like she's been left there to take a sad nap in the snow.  She didn't like it at all.
Bailey tried to do a snow angel, but she said the snow was too hard and she did not select an ideal location.  At least she can say she tried!

This next series of pictures is in the order that they were taken and is reflective of how my girls were feeling while I was trying to get a cute picture:
Picture #1: Brooklynn is again eating snow and Bailey is taking the bandaid off her injured finger to double check if in fact it still hurt.
Picture #2:  Bailey has realized that, yes, her finger does still hurt and so she starts to cry.  Brooklynn is looking at Bailey like, "I swear you were happy just one second ago.  What happened?"
Picture #3:  Brooklynn now decides that she should take a turn crying because her sister did.  Bailey stops crying for a second to see why Brooklynn is crying.
Picture #4:  They both realize that they were crying for no reason, so Brooklynn goes back to finding more snow and Bailey goes back to looking at her finger.  Needless to say, I did not get a great shot of the two of them at that moment :)

Here's our group shot before we got on the tram.  I love that we look like we're going on an arctic journey!  We are such Southern Californians!

Here's the tram that took us up to the top of the mountain.

The rest of the week was filled with lots of swimming, lounging by the pool, movies, dinner, games, and tons of fun!  The kids loved being able to wake up, run to each other's room, put their swimsuits on and go swimming for the day.  They would have stayed in the pool all day everyday if we let them.  Here are some pool shots from the one day I remembered to bring my camera out to the pool:
They did not want to stop swimming to take just one picture.
Bailey did stop walking long enough to take this sweet pose for a shot.
The sun was so bright she needs to wear shades!

On Thursday night we all went to the street fair in Palm Springs.  The streets were lined with yummy food, interesting art, music, and lots of interesting people.  It was a good night.
We were all getting ready for the night.
Brooklynn just wanted to be left alone to sleep
Bailey's all bundled up in her stylish jacket and hat.  The hat lasted about 5 minutes.
I'm not quite sure what was going on in this picture.
Brooklynn was a tiny owl in her cute hat.
We took a break on the curb while Brian waited in line for some delicious food.
Here's mom on her scooter with Owen.

One afternoon we took the kids to this cool fountain to play for a while.  It didn't last as long as we thought because the water was pretty cold.  We forgot that it was December and winter a lot during this trip because the weather was so wonderful.
To me, this is classic Josi.  That girl is a wild child and I love it!
Kate and Bailey in front of fountain
The girls were riding some chickens.  It was a very eclectic fountain.
Bailey got brave enough to stand on top for a picture.
I think this picture is hilarious!  It looks like Kate is peeing on this pot and it's coming out the hole.

Brooklynn just sat and happily watched the kids play the entire time.  She lives up to her name of dream baby!  I love this tiny thing!

It was a great week and I'm hoping that we make it an annual event.  I have an amazing family and we always have fun when we're all together.  It was a wonderful way to end our holiday season.  Thanks dad for putting it all together!!