Friday, January 15, 2010

Snapshots of our California Christmas

Nothing can every fully encapsulate a time in our lives, there is no way I can share with you completely about our time in California over Christmas. But I wanted to share with you a glimpse into our fun times, memories and bonds we made that will last a lifetime.
Our little family was in need of some times of connection and rest, time to remember what we care about, who we care about, time to feel alive and around family we love again.

Our time staying at my sister's house was definitely full of all of those things.

What can be more relaxing than spending time in a hot tub? Spending time with 5 little kids in a hot tub! Here's Mitch with all 5 cousins:
I can't even count for you how many good meals we ate, gourmet meals Uncle Trace cooked and we enjoyed. Family and friends gathered around a full table, good conversation, lots of laughter, eating to our hearts content. The center of life.
We went on many hikes with all 5 cousins and Grandma Jo on the trails in the woods around my sister's house, following Jack-the-fearless-leader: lots of identifying trees, stomping down the frost heave icicles, playing in the mud, counting rings on tree stumps to see how old they were, listening to the birds, being outdoors in my native Sierra Nevada mountains, the essence of peace for me.

4 of the cousins eating their snack on a log, a break in our hike:
(l-r:Caroline, Jack, Anna, Josie)

Reading books with Uncle Trace: Josie reading with her Papa, my Dad.

Jack and Anna enjoy a game of Candyland:
Downtime activities. Let your hair down, make yourself at home, be yourself.

Three sisters and our Mama! Together at last!
Life is made up of a series of so many special moments.

We even took a day and went to the beach! Our girls had never seen the ocean (well, Anna had but she was only 6 months old the last time). Here we all are out on the Marin Headlands, you can see the Golden Gate Bridge in the background:
Yes, it was a chilly, January day. Don't let the next pictures deceive you.

My beautiful sister Becky and my beautiful niece, Caroline:

Daddy'O, Anna and Josie, dipping their toes in the ocean water for the first time:
I love when my girls have such special times with their Daddy.

Run! The waves are coming!

Remember that picture of us all in wool sweaters and hats? Now look at Anna and Jack and Caroline! Anyone else for a dip in the ocean in January? We were on a beach at Point Reyes National Seashore just north of San Fransisco. Yes, there were other people there, but we couldn't figure out why none of them were in the water, too.

Little Ruthie played in the sand to her heart's content:

And got all covered with it! Look at that smile!

This is one of my favorite beach pictures, it says so much about who each person is. Jack, leaping into the cold waves laughing and exhilarated, all boy. Anna and Caroline, a bit more timid, holding Mitch's hands, yet out there in the water playing the whole afternoon, running, jumping, dunking under the water and screaming with delight:
I loved getting to know Jack and Caroline (my nephew and niece) better, getting to spend so much time with them and watching them play with Anna and Josie and Ruthie. Two kindhearted souls who love life, love the people they are surrounded by and seem so mature and self-confident for their age.

Another highlight of our trip was taking the girls on a little hike up Sugarloaf Mt in Nevada City to show them where Mitch and I got engaged.
Fun to share with them a little piece of our history, a little spot on this earth that is dear to our hearts. Not that you can see it in this picture, but we had a view out over the Sacramento Valley all the way to the coastal mountain range despite the overcast skies and the rain that was beginning to fall as we hiked down.

And the Beltrans!
What trip home would be complete without getting to see my dear friend Lupe and her family?
(l-r: Ben, Lupe, Andrea & Ben -we didn't get to see Carolina)
The girls had a lot of fun playing with every member of the Beltran family, and Mitch and I always love hanging out with our good friends.
Here we are, the Clement clan after we returned home:
(picture take by Grandma Judy Clement)

Thank you, Holly and Trace, for hosting us and giving us such a wonderful space in your home to relax and enjoy the company of all the people around us. Thank you for making us feel at home in your home.

It was a time that truly exemplified the essence of what Christmas is all about to me: giving, sharing, loving, accepting... God among us.

I hope each of you were able to experience a piece of the same this Christmas season.


Katrina said...

Katie, I so enjoyed reading your post. I love that you all were able to spend such quality time together for Christmas. And such cute kids you all have! Thanks for sharing. :)

Michelle said...

Your post makes my heart so happy, Katie. I hope that you can tap into the joy of this Christmas during the next few months of family life and school. I know that I will return to these pictures and your stories for reminders of God's provision in my own life!

akamilby said...

We were so glad to have you all here! It truly was our pleasure to have you five stay with us, and a blessing to our whole family. You are the easiest house guests ever! My kids keep playing with your girls, at least in their imaginations. And they're still looking out for Ruthie, giving me small things to put up high, until I remind them that there's no need to. We miss you all!

You are a talented writer Kates! Thanks for capturing the two weeks so well. Come back anytime!

Hashim Alhamad said...


Very happy to see you, Mitch and the girls all feeling cozy relaxed.

Very cool pictures of you guys by the beach and near the great Golden Gate Bridge :)

Besides missing my nuclear family, I really miss my extended family and friends. I bet you guys feel same way. Spending time with family and friends is always fun and memorable.

Anna, Josie and Ruthie (covered with mud) are looking very happy and very cute (as always).

I've been very bad about posting in my blog. I'll try to put some NYC photos soon.


Chad Clement said...

I really enjoyed reading your comments, Katie, and looking at all of the fantastic pictures. There were so many good ones that I couldn't pick a favorite. You captured your 2 weeks beautifully. The family looks relaxed and happy. Good for you! Hope to see you soon. Love, Chad