For Vivian’s second Christmas, we flew up to Oakland to spend the holiday with Dan’s parents and brother. This was Vivian’s 8th set of plane flights in 2015 (2 to Ohio, 2 to Oakland, 2 to Colorado, 1 to Seattle, and 1 to Hawaii). She’s flown more than any other toddler I know this year (and more than most adults that I know)! Because she is still under 2 and is considered a “lap infant,” she flies for free. That will end in April 2016, though. So, for now, we fly as much as possible with her, knowing that our airplane travel will slow down in the later half of 2016 when we actually have to pay for a seat for her! Last year, we spent Thanksgiving at Dan’s parents’ and Christmas at my parents’ and this year we reversed it. We hope that our parents appreciated our effort to see them over the holidays because we are not anticipating traveling for the holidays next year! We envision spending our 2016 holidays at our new home in California, with our little family of four (more on that soon!).
Before I share the details of our time in the Bay Area, let me back track and share a few pictures of our fun leading up to Christmas. First, of course, we had to visit Santa, who Vivian still does not like. She thinks she likes him – until she sees him. She barely tolerated this family photo with Santa at our clubhouse in Baker Ranch:
As we did last year during the holiday season, we again went to Disneyland this year. I think that this was Vivian’s fifth trip to Disneyland and she was, of course, the most interactive with the park during this trip. We rode new and old rides, watched a parade in California Adventure, and even saw Mickey, only leaving the park when it started pouring rain at the end of the day when we were all exhausted.
We also went to many parties (birthday, going away, and Christmas) in December and went out for a special dinner in the Dana Point Harbor during their annual Boat Parade of Lights. We bought our first family Christmas tree and decorated the interior of our house. Finally, after all that fun, we left SoCal for NorCal to spend our actual Christmas holiday with family.
We arrived on Tues., Dec. 22, and spent our first evening together after dinner looking at the lights at famous Deacon Dave’s.
On Wednesday, Dan and I took Vivian into San Francisco to explore the city as tourists. Vivian had been into the city once before to meet a friend for dinner, but this was her first time seeing the sights. Dan and I got to see some new (to us) sights, too, like the Ferry Building and Exploratorium.
We spent the entire afternoon at the Exploratorium and Vivian had a blast, well, exploring! Afterwards, we walked down to Pier 39 and ate a wonderful seafood dinner at a table right next to a window overlooking the water and city – such great views!
Then, we kept on walking…to Fisherman’s Warf and then Ghiradelli Square. In total, we walked 2.5 miles along the waterfront. From there, we took the cable car (and a shuttle bus, due to traffic) to Union Square to see the decorated tree and storefronts before finally taking BART back towards Livermore.
We spent Christmas Eve and Christmas day relaxing! We visited friends, went to mass, and participated in the annual cul-de-sac tradition of lighting luminaries. But mostly, we stayed close to home base and enjoyed our time with loved ones.
The day after Christmas, we ventured 2 hours south to Monterey. Dan has fond memories of visiting the Monterey Bay Aquarium as a child and was anxious to take Vivian there. After we arrived, we ate lunch, walked down Cannery Row, and then joined the masses to see the sealife inside the famous aquarium. We all had a blast at the aquarium and it was so fun to see Vivian get so excited about everything (fishies! fishies! fishies!).
Before leaving to fly home on Sunday, Dec. 27, Dan and I finally got away by ourselves for 1 1/2 hours and ate brunch together. Then we took one last Three-Generation Chambers Family Photo with a fussy baby who just wanted her Mama.
Whew! Another jam-packed, fun, memorable trip as a family of three. Sure, Vivian won’t remember anything, but we will, and we will always treasure these memories that we are making now.
Merry Christmas, everyone!