Friday, January 2, 2015

Christmas and New Years RV Style

The other night we went out for pizza at a fancy pizza joint in Palm Springs. I know, fancy pizza joint, sounds like a place where shitheads eat. That's mostly true and the pizza was just okay. But, a wise man once told me, "Pizza is like sex. When it's good, it's REALLY good. When it's bad, it's still pretty good."

So, despite the high prices and mostly mediocre food, it was still a solid meal. 

While we were waiting for our food an older woman approached us and complimented us on our parenting. She said it was a pleasure to watch us interact with our children and added that most parents just shove iPhones in front of their kids faces. Jessica blushed at this compliment and I was mostly flattered but I couldn't help but feel creeped out. How long had she been watching? It also occurred to me that if it had been a different night or some other restaurant, our kids could very well have had iPhones in their faces. Would she have had something to say about that? I'm glad she caught us being good parents, it helped me to stay upbeat when managing the kids during dinner, but I have a feeling she likes to judge naughty parents too. 
Our REALLY small slice of heaven. 

We are at the end of our two week stay in the Palm Spring area. We celebrated Christmas and New Years here and I gotta say, it was a breeze. When the holidays were approaching I had a few concerns in the back of my mind. Would we be homesick? (A little. It came and went) Would the kids be cool with a scaled down Christmas on an RV? (Yep. 100%.) What could we do to make it special? 

This last question is harder to answer. I don't know about anyone else but I think this is the main question I ask myself about the holidays. I feel this big responsibility to make the holidays memorable. It really gets into my head and I find myself doing impulsive things which is probably exactly what the retail stores want me to do. I try to fight it but it's ingrained in me. Some of my best memories from childhood are of Christmas time. I just want that for my kids I guess. Anyhow, I struggled with how to make Christmas special for a while until I finally decided to just let the holidays happen and go with the flow. 

We woke up at 6am on the camper because Noah was yelling "Santa came!" It's really hard to fall back asleep when the kids are adorably excited about Christmas. So, we made coffee and Jessica started her ritual. In order to perform the Christmas ritual of present opening in the Yum house, no matter where you are spending Christmas, you MUST complete the following steps: 

1. Brew a large carafe of exceptionally strong coffee. 
2. Put on Christmas music. 
3. Put "A Christmas Story" on the TV. 
4. Slowly open 1 present at a time in the order she decides. After opening each present, suppress your excitement to move on to the next gift and pretend to be interested when she lists the benefits of the current gift to you. Nod and agree when she says things like, "Isn't it awesome?"
5. When all of your gifts are open, report back to the Christmas tree once every 30 minutes to watch her open another gift. She goes slow and savors every gift, milking the gift opening experience. 

We didn't have a room full of presents this year. Just a couple of gifts each. Sam got a couple of toys. Noah got an RC and a scooter. That was it. They spent the whole day playing with their toys and they were surprisingly respectful and kind to each other the whole day. I dare say they were eager to share toys with each other. We capped off the day with a homemade lasagna dinner and the movie Elf

The next day we drove two hours to Carlsbad to spend the day at Legoland. Please learn from our mistakes. DO NOT GO TO A THEME PARK THE DAY AFTER CHRISTMAS. It was extremely busy. When we got through the gate we lowered our expectations and agreed we would avoid long lines and just stroll the park. They were giving out free return passes as a gift anyhow so we figured we could come back when the other kids are back in school and have the rides to ourselves. So, the boys got on a couple rides, we took a strolling tour of all the Lego creations and we just took it easy. When night started to fall we let the boys spend some of the Christmas money they got from family back home and we headed to El Torito for dinner.

FUN FACT: El Torito is a chain of Mexican restaurants in California that KICKS ASS. Go there. Eat salsa. 
Lego RVs!

Because explaining Santa to your kids isn't confusing enough. 

Sam broke every rule. Noah is actually a decent driver.

On New Years Eve we had a small party inside the camper. We put on Ryan Seacrest to keep track of the time and when a song came on that the boys liked, they danced. We had pizza rolls, smoothies, sangria (for the adults) and White Castle burgers in our food spread. We capped off our munching with some ice cream and then we busted out the Legos. We spent a couple hours fully engaged in Lego building. It's funny because the kids have been obsessed with Legos for a couple years now but this was the first time we sat down and made a family night out of it. It's really a no-brainer and I am sure we will do it again soon. 
It's the small things 

In between holidays we did some outdoor stuff. We visited Joshua Tree National Park which is now officially one of my favorite places in America. The San Andreas fault runs through the middle of the park and separates the Colorado Desert from the Mojave Desert. The whole desert system is known as the Sonoran Desert and it's the most unusual and diverse ecosystem I have ever witnessed. The weather in the Palm Springs area is extremely odd. Hot during the day, cold at night, windy all the time and once you get above 2000 feet in elevation, all bets are off. I bring this up because Joshua Tree is a great representation of why the weather is so odd here. Half of the park is covered in sand, yuccas and tumbleweed. The other half is covered in Joshua trees, boulders and snow. I can't explain to you how bizarre it is to sit in the sunny desert and then drive 20 minutes and sit in the snowy mountains, so you'll have to come see it for yourself sometime. This national park really is a gem and it's worth spending a day (or more) exploring. 

Despite the sign, this area was full of trail cutters who were touching cacti. There is an ALARMING number of moronic tourists hanging out in our nations parks. 

The road through Joshua Tree. Pristine desert for as far as the eyes can see. 
There is a tram, in town, that takes you 8,500 feet up Mt San Jacintos (pronounced HA-SINTOES) and dumps you into an awesome state park. We had heard about it, didn't research it well, and headed there in our coats and city shoes. When we arrived at the top it was 20 degrees and there was 8" of snow. We didn't have the proper footwear to fully explore the park (we left in a hurry and when we got there we realized Sammy had put his crocs on) but, we are a hiking family, we weren't leaving the mountain without doing a hike. We trekked out to a cool vista point over the desert and then made our way to Peaks Restaurant to eat an alpine lunch. The attraction is super popular and the only way I would ever do it again is with backpacks and camping gear. They have 6 backcountry sites and 18,000 acres of designated wilderness that I would gladly spend a few days utilizing. 

views from the tram. Not pictured: the sketchy uneasy feeling of being suspended from a wire thousands of feet in the air on a rotating platform inside of  a free swinging tram car. 

Jessica and Sam. Sitting in the snow. Behind them...desert. 

Now that the holidays are over and things are starting to settle down I feel good about the choices we made. Maybe that woman at the pizzeria was right. Maybe, without realizing it, between the tantrums and fist fights, we are doing an okay job of mentoring these little guys. And, to answer the question: What could we do to make the holidays special?

I'm sure we will all have a special place in our hearts for our Christmas on the road.  

A Christmas Carol performed by the Yum fellas. 

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1 comment:

  1. You guys are terrific parents. Helps when you have awesome kids.