after that was done, it was time to party. we squeezed a loooot of fun into our visit, not even including the holidays themselves. it's the only natural thing to do when you're visiting the best place in the world ;)
one of our family traditions is to do a christmas dinner at lawry's prime rib in beverly hills. it is super festive and incredibly delicious -- i love getting dressed up and driving to our old hood. carolers come around and sing to each table and this year we got TWO songs -- my favorite, carol of the bells, plus frosty the snowman for jack.
after dinner we headed to the LA temple to see the christmas lights. it was beautiful.
we had time to get amazingly spoiled by having my parents babysit! so incredible to go shopping or to the movies whenever we wanted, kid-free. one night our best friends the fackrells came out from pasadena and we saw les miserables. i felt like a college kid, staying up super late with them. :)
my mom & i (plus jack) took our annual pilgrimage out to the san fernando valley to hit up all of our favorite haunts. garlic bread from the smoke house, tea cakes from martino's bakery, a drive by st. joe's hospital in burbank where i was born (across the street from disney studios), and a visit to the graves of my great-grandparents in forest lawn hollywood hills. the best!
while we were on that side of town, we stopped at griffith park to ride the train! we used to go there all the time when i was little but i'd never actually been on the train before. jack was in heaven, of course.
AND...we crossed something off my bucket list. i'd always heard about the mysterious magic castle in hollywood and was dying to check it out, but you have to be a member to get in (basically impossible as memberships cost like $10,000). i had mentioned to b that i really wanted to go, and he tracked down some tickets for us as one of my christmas presents! such a good little researcher, that one. :) we went with my parents & brother a few days after christmas. i spent the first part of the night wondering what all the hype was about -- it was crowded, the magic was so-so and the food was overpriced -- but then we went to an amaaaaazing magic show and all was redeemed. seriously, the whole night was worth it just to see those magicians. loved it!
besides all that, there was plenty of time for reading, relaxing, going to the park and soaking up the sun. it was such a fun trip!