The Great Valenta Christmas Adventure...
A.K.A. An Arizona Christmas and a San Diego Wedding!
The days leading up to our cross country road trip were anxious ones.
First, we would be gone over Christmas so that meant that we needed to have everything wrapped and ready that would be making the long haul with us.
Then there was making sure the van was in road-trip ready condition. That meant an overnight stay at the shop to have a cracked water pump replaced and with that came more news that there was more work that needed to be done. What we thought would be a $300 repair turned into an $800 repair.
And of course there was the WEDDING -- the whole reason for the trip to begin with! Jordan and McKenna were getting married the day after Christmas in the San Diego Temple so the logistics of where to be and when were a vital part of the planning!
Thrown into the mix was that our sweet daughter-in-law, Lisa, wanted to plan for a Valenta Family Talent show. Did I say we had some anxious days? :) We gently hinted to Lisa that what she might not know about us in her 6 years in the family was that we don't have a lot of talent. She lovingly encouraged us with subtle reminders in her emails to make sure we were planning to share our
And finally there was the anticipation of being together with all but one of our kids (Andrew was not able to make the trip with us), our daughter-in-law Lisa and Tim's brother Jeff, for Christmas. Tim hadn't been with Jeff for Christmas in over 30 years so being able to be all together was wonderful!
We got on the road Saturday, December 20th and began to make our way westward. Thirty-six hours later we arrived in Phoenix, Arizona!
The first night we stayed with Tim and Patty Cox. Patty and I met in 1990 when our kids, Cameron and Jordan, were just babies and we lived in Missouri. Patty's mother was in our ward and she thought Patty and I would have a lot in common with Patty having 3 boys and me having 4. Well, she was right because we met and a friendship was born! Five years later we moved to Kentucky and a few years later Patty moved to Arizona. In all that time since our moves we have only seen each other a few times but we have remained great friends to this day! It was so good to see her again and although we didn't get to catch up as much as we had hoped (because her son Brandon broke his elbow and that cancelled our lunch date we had planned), it was still wonderful to see her even for a little while!
The next day we met up with Tim's brother, Jeff, who lives in Mesa and Tim and Lisa who live in Tempe. Jacob flew in from Kentucky and arrived the same day we did (after missing his first flight a few days before!!) so when all the Valenta's got together in Arizona there were 8 of us! Tim and I and Abigail and Annah stayed at Jeff's house and Jacob stayed with Tim and Lisa.
Our first gathering was for the Valenta Family
Jeff getting warmed up before the
lack of Talent Show
Jeff gives the
lack of talent a thumbs up!
Abigail pre-Jingle Bells "cup song" with Annah :)
Tim getting ready to do his song
Jacob doing his pot banging that was totally off rhythm! BWHAHAHA! We have decided that maybe it wasn't an "act" after all! ;)
Lisa tap dancing to a Christmas song!
Tim and Lisa singing together
Tim reading a favorite story
Father/Daughter duo? :)
Jacob, Lisa, Abigail and Annah
We all survived the
lack of Talent!
Christmas Eve brought us to Tim and Lisa's place for a fabulous dinner of turkey and all the trimmings, including Lisa's mom's recipe for homemade cranberry sauce (that I plan to beg the recipe for!). After a delicious dinner and clean up we had a Family Devotional where we took turns reading scriptures and we sang beautiful Christmas songs together. It was a lovely evening indeed!
These are the greetings Abigail and Annah sent out on Christmas Eve to their friends. :)
Abigail sent this one (Annah's face totally cracks me up!)
Annah sent this one
Christmas Day we began our 6 hour trek to San Diego for the wedding of Jordan and McKenna the following day.
Jacob and me being backseat buddies!
A stop in Dateland where they have date everything, even date shakes! Ewww! No, we didn't try them!
We got to our hotel and anticipated meeting up with Jordan and McKenna. When they arrived Jordan made us all laugh when he said, "Lisa is in the hotel room for 5 minutes and she hangs garland and lights and has a snack bar!" Hahahaha! It was true! She brought decorations for the room to make it all festive and had a boatload of snacks for everyone! :D
Even though we had snacks we also needed some real food. Getting food was not quite as easy with it being Christmas since most places were closed. We finally found Denny's that was open and *busy*. We all laughed as the movie "The Santa Clause" came to mind when Tim Allen burns the turkey and he and his son end up at Denny's where the waitress announces they are out of everything from turkey to chocolate milk. :) We imagined that that might be our experience getting there at 7:30 Christmas night.
Our experience at Denny's turned out to be an ordeal alright but in a different way than the movie. We sat for 30 minutes before a waitress even so much as greeted us. It took Tim finally going to talk to someone before they came over to take our orders. With our orders placed we all waited anxiously for our dinner. We waited and waited and waited some more.
As we waited, Jordan leaned closer from his end of the table and called, "Hey, does anyone know what time the wedding is tomorrow?" BWHAHAHAHAHAHA! He's such a funny kid! What made it funnier was that he was totally serious! It is a statement that will live in my memory forever! :D
Finally an HOUR after we had ordered we got our food and we could not get out of there fast enough when we were done eating. I will never see a Denny's again without recalling our experience and I am pretty confident we won't be going back there ever again....unless it's Christmas Day and there is nothing else opened. :P
Once back to the hotel Jordan announced that he needed to wash some clothes before wedding day....ummm, okay. He found out that the laundry area wasn't open all night so he decided that he would just get up early and go put laundry in. Okay, problem will be solved, right? Wrong.
Jordan got up early on his wedding day to do his laundry. It seemed easy enough. He went to the laundry and found there was no laundry soap there and he didn't have any. He went to the front desk and asked them for some but they didn't have any. Huh...what to do? Jordan found some maids and asked them if they had any and they said no but recommended he use SHAMPOO! What? Really? Needing to do *something* Jordan went with their recommendation. Hahaha! He wasn't sure how much to use but settled on a half of one of the little bottles. He washed and dried his clothes and brought them back to the room where he discovered the clothes didn't smell any better than they did before he washed them! Oh well. He managed to dig out a few clothes to get him through until he could *really* wash them.
This was Jordan and Jacob the morning of the wedding while Jordan waited for his clothes to wash. :)
Tim made a McDonald's run...
Jordan with his cute Christmas Mickey Mouse pj's eating breakfast!
This is a picture that Annah took of the temple -- fabulous shot!
It was bright and sunny and hard for everyone to look at the camera (everyone but Jeff -- good thinking on the sunglasses, Jeff!)
My camera doesn't do justice to the beauty of the day from the bride and groom to families from both sides that were gathered there! I can hardly wait to see all the official wedding pictures!
Mr. & Mrs. Jordan Valenta!
Our lovely daughters-in-law, McKenna and Lisa! I love these girls!
What a beautiful couple!
After the temple Jordan and McKenna went to the beach for a photo shoot there -- love this one so much!
Stay tuned for Part 2 to pick up with a little more of the wedding day, the reception and our remaining days in Arizona!