Tag Archives: santa

Have A Seat ~ Visit To Santa 2013

Santa shimmied down the chimney of our local Westfield Mall on November 15th.

The kids walked right on up and had a seat on his lap on November 17th.

No line.

No waiting.

Holden had all the time in the world to talk Santa’s ear off about Skylanders Swap Force Starter Pack.

Elliott simply requested an iPad Mini.


We were in and out again this year.

I am happy. I have my 5×7 ready to be framed and perched on our holiday mantel.

This is the 9th year in a row that we’ve gone to a Westfield Mall for our Santa picture. I am all about tradition when it comes to this sort of thing. Each year I display all our Santa pics from 2005 to present. I love seeing how much they change from year to year.

We were fortunate and never had any tears when it came to Mr. Claus. Elliott & Holden were always eager to have a seat on Santa’s lap and whisper their wishes into his ear.

I must add, however, that Elliott and I went around and around about her wearing this darling ROXY plaid flannel for the pic. She had other ideas which involved Justice shorts and a tank top {her argument was that they were purple and matched Holden’s outfit}. After explaining to her {OK….bribing} that I wanted them to look festive and “winter-ish” she reconsidered and ditched the Justice idea.

Past Santa Adventures: 2008, 20092010, 2011, 2012


I am happy to say that I have a good handle on Christmas this year. Several little gifts purchased and wrapped. Classroom goodies in the works. Annual family ornaments purchased.

After Thanksgiving we have exactly 26 days until family arrives, feasts are prepared, Christmas Eve Mass is attended, gifts are scattered under the tree and egg nog is sipped in anticipation of Santa’s arrival.

For as much running around and stress that I am prepared for, I am also looking forward to having a seat, putting my feet up, staring at our old-fashioned trimmed tree and listening to Christmas carols old & new.

But not before giving thanks with a turkey and all the fixins a week from Thursday…

Off to make my shopping list!

Santa Monica Smiles

Yesterday we decided to climb out from under the wrapping paper remnants & crushed gift boxes and take a stroll around Santa Monica to deliver the blessing bags we assembled last week. I wish we had hundreds more of them, but we agreed to find five recipients and hand them out along with a smile.


Next we saw a gentleman sitting on a park bench with a big suitcase and a Subway sandwich he was about to unwrap. The kids were running a little ahead of us and were skipping and screaming near where he was sitting. He looked up and shouted “Get your family away from me!” a couple times. Of course, we have our children’s safety in mind at all times, so we quietly walked by him and sought other folks in need of a little blessing. I look back and should have maybe went over to him alone and just placed a bag on the bench where he was sitting, smiled and walked away, but at the time I was a little put off by his outburst.

We moved on and I noticed a man with a big McDonald’s bag who was handing out hamburgers by the dozens. Some people were sleeping and he kindly left them a sandwich on their belongings. I saw him hand one to a sweet woman who responded with the most grateful smile and immediately followed it up with a blessing bag. She was so darling and thanked me so genuinely.


She didn’t even study what was in the bag, but immediately said, “Oh, I can use everything in here!” She embarrassingly asked me for a quarter…she said, “I know I’m not supposed to ask you for money, but do you have a quarter for the bus?” I fished around in my wallet and handed her two.


She was so sweet and interested in the kids {who, at first, stood over by Jay, but then made their way over to us} and asked how old they were. She said that was so nice that they came out to do this because surely they would rather be doing something else. I wanted to stay and chat with her….listen to whatever she had to say and take in as much information about her that she was willing to share.

Was she a mother? A sister? A wife? A Widow? A grandmother?

What brought her to Ocean Avenue in Santa Monica overlooking the pier, the ferris wheel and the big blue Pacific?


I wished her a blessed day and we proceeded to leave three more bags on the meager belongings of two neighboring bench mates and a man on the grass who were taking naps under the late December Southern California sun.



This is truly an eye opening experience and I’m so glad the kids were along and we could do this as a family. I am forever changed after speaking to this woman for only a few short minutes. I hope that when the others awoke from their slumbers that they felt loved and acknowledged when they laid eyes on their hamburgers and gallon ziplocs filled with small tokens from our family.

We look forward to making this an annual thing. Next year we’ll make up many more and focus on the streets of Hollywood.

Here is a link to last year’s post of what exactly was in the bags. {this year we added a bottled water, walnuts, trail mix and a pair of men’s socks}

Thank you to Leslie at Top of the Page and Julie at Joy’s Hope for sharing this act and opening my eyes to a way to serve and be the hands and feet of Jesus. Here is the blessing bag post ~ as shared by Leslie.

I share this experience because I want to record it and remember it in years to come. I want to recall my exact emotions and the joy that it brought to these complete strangers just minding their own business on {their} park bench. I share this experience because it is so awesome and I want to encourage YOU to think about linking up with some friends and assembling some bags, now or next year, and give all the glory to HIM.

Yesterday was perfect.

Front Of The Line

This past Sunday we went to the early mass and then decided it was a good day to go and see Santa.

Yes, we are that family that visits Mr. Claus before Thanksgiving.

But, please hear me out, I don’t put up any Christmas decorations and we don’t get our tree until the weekend after Thanksgiving. I just like to visit Santa at the mall before the crazy crowds hit and for lack of a better term, “get it out of the way”. I am also a creature of tradition when it comes to our pictures with Santa. We have been going to a Westfield mall to sit on his lap for the past 8 years. I cannot and will not break that cycle. I like to display the timeline of pictures every year during the holidays and I love that they are all from generally the same place {if you’ve seen one Westfield mall, you’ve seen ’em all} ~ obsessive compulsive, I know.

There was a mix up with the mall website and Santa and his elves….website said 11:00am and Santa had noon on his schedule. We were in line minutes before 11:00 and when it hit quarter after, I called the concierge and complained. She sounded surprised and got someone on it. At 11:30, Santa’s helpers casually strolled in and by this time several kids and their parents had lined up anxiously awaiting the man in red. They explained to us that they weren’t supposed to open until noon. UGH! We were not going to lose our front of the line privileges, so we waited.

I present to you this year’s adorable photo…

I went through their closets a week before and plucked these out instead of buying anything new this year.

Red and black plaid in her closet.

Red and black plaid in his closet.



We also have a tradition where we get an annual family ornament and the kids choose one and have it personalized with their name and the year. This way, when they are grown up and out on their own {don’t want to think about it} they will have a collection of ornaments from throughout the years to hang on their trees and be a reminder of childhood Christmases.

This year I {made} them both get soccer related ones since I like to try to have them pick something reminiscent of the past 12 months. Sometimes I cave and let them choose, but this time I put my foot down and they didn’t seem to mind since they both loved their first season of AYSO.

{photos of their ornaments to come}

Here is 2012’s glitterrific choice…


Even though we were eagerly in front of the line six weeks early, we still haven’t forgotten about Thanksgiving!

The turkey is in the brine, the pantry and ‘fridge are filled with side dish ingredients, the table is NOT set, but it will get there and the wine is chilling.

A very Blessed Thanksgiving from our family to yours.


We Knocked Santa Out

We went to the local Westfield mall this afternoon and dropped $27 and change for our annual picture with Mr. Claus.

This is one tradition that I just can’t stray from. We have gone to a Westfield mall every year since 2005 to visit Santa…they only {BELIEVE} for so long and as long as they do, we will do it the Westfield way. We have the last six years framed and display them up the stairwell each year. Our 2011 shot will be placed in a special frame on the mantel and then join the others up the stairs next year. I love to see how they have changed and grown each year…

We also picked up our annual personalized ornaments today. Again, another tradition that I just can’t give up. The {goal} is to have the kids get one that signifies something that they accomplished over the year ~ I had visions of a baseball one for Holden for his first year of t-ball and possibly a nice cross for Elliott to remember her first year of religious education classes {CCD}. Holden spotted a soldier in camouflage and Elliott fell in love with a cheerleader in a purple and white uniform….so that is what we walked away with. I guess you can only make certain decisions for your littles for so long.

It seems each year the kiosk changes up the company that makes the ornaments because the one I had my heart set on for the family from last year wasn’t there, but found one similar. I plan on doing another {tour de tannenbaum} so I will give you a peek at this year’s ornaments then.

 Knocking stuff out as it presents itself. I’d rather get it done early than wait until it’s too late and not get it done at all. Next weekend we’re hoping to get {the shot} for our Christmas cards.

So, what have you checked off your holiday list so far? Please tell me I’m not the only crazy one…..

Easy Come, Easy Go

Well, just like a Vegas jackpot, the {Valencia blizzard of 2011} came in just as fast as it went out.

No white stuff on the grass or BBQ this morning…the news was predicting a possible 1-2 inches overnight in the SCV. Not so.

It was fun though.

Never thought I’d be able to say that I went to the store for dog food and deodorant in the snow!

I don’t think we’ll be having an official {snow day} any time soon, but it was sure a treat while it lasted.

A little excitement on 1.2.11, that’s for sure!


Hope your first full week of 2011 is full of a surprise or two.

Beat The Runner

We wanted to cheer Jay on along the way this morning.

Fortunately we caught him at two locations before the finish line, but it wasn’t easy.

I forgot the stroller to I had to hustle with Holden on one arm, the camera on the other AND our banner!

But we made it and loved seeing Jay looking so strong at the 8.5-9 mile mark…

From here, we raced back to the car and sped down to the 12 mile mark and waited there.

Elliott & Emilie helped distribute water to the runners:

This sweet couple held the sign so I could take pictures:

Jay was behind a few people and I couldn’t get a good shot.

From here we RACED to the car and made it to the finish line just in time to see him cross. Again, couldn’t get a good pic.

But he finished and did great ~ just shy of 2:35.

His first half marathon under his belt.

Scott celebrated his birthday by running 13.1…

{Happy Birthday, Scott!}

{Notice Holden’s banana phone}


We’re SO proud of you, Babe!

I’m next…4 weeks from today.


Just add an hour onto his time and that is what I’m shooing for! As long as I’m not the LAST one across the finish line I’ll be happy.

Better get running…literally.


Hope you had a marathon of a weekend!

7am Start

Jay is just about to start running in his first half marathon.

He’s fueled with whole wheat pasta, steel cut oats, half a PowerBar and some Powerade…

{whole wheat spaghetti, lemon grilled chicken, feta cheese, marinated artichoke hearts, sun dried tomatoes, fresh garlic & olive oil}

Elliott, Holden and a couple of their little friends made a big butcher paper sign. Holden put some finishing touches on it this morning…

The race passes by a little stretch at the bottom of our hill. We’re trying to time it so that we can cheer Jay on between the 8 and 9 mile mark. Then off to the finish line to greet him.

Good Luck, Babe!

Go show that 13.1 who’s boss!