Though we’ve lived here in San Jose for about 6 months now, we are just barely starting to get out and see the city. These are pictures from the times we’ve gotten out these past few months.

Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum

Right in San Jose is a really great Egyptian Museum. My friend Mary Lou and I wanted to get out and explore San Jose, so we came to the Egyptian Museum. We spent many hours exploring the museum, reading the informational signs, and listening to the audio tour they have available.

It was really fun to see some of the art from this period. I’ve taken a couple art history classes, and I really enjoy seeing the same art pieces I’ve studied and trying to recall all the details I’ve learned about it.

They had several well preserved mummies in the museum. The museum also had quite a few mummified animals. One of the animals, a baboon, was not actually a real mummified animal. After scanning it, they discovered that it had a jar as the body and other materials to make the arms, legs, and head.

Egypt has always fascinated me, and it was fun to spend a whole day learning more about the Egyptians.

The Tech Museum

Cindy and Kenny Pratt stopped in San Jose on their way to Santa Cruz to have lunch with Chris and me. After lunch, Cindy and Kenny invited us to explore The Tech Museum with them. Unfortunately, Chris had to head back to work, so he couldn’t come.

In The Tech Museum, they have virtual arm wrestling stations. You’re supposed to be able to arm wrestle people across the globe where they also have these stations, but when we were there none of the other stations were “logged on” so we arm wrestled each other.

They have lots of cool sciency toys to play with and this one would take the blocks and use them to spell whatever you typed into the computer. It knows exactly where each block is located and what letter it is.

We didn’t spend a ton of time here, but it was fun to see what exhibits they had. Chris and I will definitely have to go together sometime.

Almaden Quicksilver

One sunny Saturday, Chris and I decided to go hiking in Almaden Quicksilver park. Almaden Quicksilver park is named for a mining town in Spain (Almaden) which was known for its mercury mines, and quicksilver means mercury, so if you haven’t surmised it yet, the Almaden Quicksilver park used to have several mercury mines. Now it is just a park with a few old buildings and beautiful views of the San Jose area.

While hiking, I looked over the edge of the trail to see two cars nearly covered in dirt. Who knows exactly how they got there, or how long they’ve been there, but we imagine they have been a feature off the side of the trail for a very long time.

Of course we had to climb down and take a look. And in case you’re wondering like we were, yes, the engines are gone.

We reached a point that had a great view of the valley.

This is one of the old buildings that used to be one of many that made up the mining community on the tops of the hills.

We ate a picnic lunch looking out over the valley and then realized it was getting kind of late and starting to get dark. So, we raced down the hill pretty quick so that we made it out before it was dark. If we had parked in the small parking lot (like we had at first) we would have also been racing down to get our car out of the parking lot before it closed (which would have been eerily familiar to our Puerto Rico hike), but Chris thought to move the car when he went back for the camera. Smart move – I don’t think we would have made it.

As a new staff tax accountant at a Big Four accounting firm, we knew Chris was going to be pretty busy on my birthday (January 24th). But I wasn’t going to let the Big Four squelch my birthday celebration. We planned to do something fun nearly every night after he got home the whole week of my birthday. On the day of my birthday we went to Maggianos, an Italian restaurant. It was delicious, and they even brought me out an ice cream sundae with candles.

Birthday presents 🙂

For my birthday, I often have a special request for my birthday cake. This year I was craving a piece of red velvet cheesecake from The Cheesecake Factory. Moist layers of red velvet cake and cheesecake covered with Cheesecake Factory cream cheese frosting and a dollop of whipped cream on the side…. It was scrumptious.

After a few days in Oregon, we headed down to Utah to visit the Payne family. That’s right, we drove from San Jose, to Oregon, to Utah, then back to San Jose over the Christmas and New Year holidays. We were a little concerned about driving through the mountains on the way to Utah, but this is as bad as it got, and we were only driving through this for about 30 mins. Not too bad for December.

Woohoo, third Christmas! We just didn’t want the holidays to end. Shortly after arriving in Utah, we had our last gift exchange.

The Clark Planetarium

We hadn’t been to the Clark Planetarium in many, many years, so we went as a family to check it out and see how it has changed. Clearly, a lot had changed.

Chris is just waiting for it to knock the next block over and therefore prove that the earth is rotating.

We spent some time wandering around and discovering new facts about the earth and the solar system.

I thought the planet facts were very interesting, though a little outdated. They still had Pluto listed as a planet…

Look! I got him to smile for the camera 🙂

They have cool scenes of Mars and the moon for pictures, but I couldn’t get my family to act like they were astronauts floating through space.

New Year’s Eve

We got some of the old gang back together to celebrate New Year’s Eve. Though we never quite got the rules figured out, we still enjoyed a fun, intense game of pictionary.

Happy New Year!

On Christmas Eve, everyone gathered for a family dinner at the Ham family’s home. We ate a very scrumptious dinner together then continued with our other festivities. First up was the family band. It was so fun to listen to the band play Christmas carols.

After the band, we had a nativity reenactment while Ivan read Luke 2 and Ramona played Christmas hymns on the piano. It was a great way to remember the true meaning of Christmas.

Christmas Morning! (The real Christmas morning)

We woke up bright and early Christmas morning to find stockings, strings, presents, and lots of excited children waiting to open presents. We started with our stockings. Ashley was so nice to go through everyone’s stocking and pull out their fruit snacks… and then eat them 🙂

Here’s Lindy following her string.

I didn’t know we were doing strings again, but Santa didn’t want to leave us out. So here I am following my string to find my present!

Sadly, we didn’t get a lot of pictures of everyone opening presents. I guess we were too caught up in the excitement to remember to take pictures. It was so much fun to watch everyone open their presents. Thanks Julie & Gary for including us and letting us share Christmas morning with your family!

Later on in the day we visited the Hughes family, and we just had to try out their new Kinect. The games are actually really fun and sure give you a workout. As you can see, those games make you move around quite a bit. We were jumping and dodging all sorts of obstacles. Eventually, we had to give up because we were too tired to continue!

The Kinect is fun for all ages. Even Ivan and Ramona tried their hand at maneuvering through the obstacle course.

We celebrated Christmas a total of three times this past holiday season. We had an early Christmas on the 22nd at our apartment, then the next day we headed up to Oregon to spend Christmas Eve and Christmas with the Jones family. Our third Christmas was in Utah with Brittany’s family.

This is our Christmas tree all decked out for our Christmas at home.

Here’s Chris following his string to his present.

Our strings were not quite as elaborate this year (they stayed in the apartment), Santa must have overslept and forgotten about our early “Christmas” morning.

We opened most of our presents, but saved a few to take with us and open on Christmas morning.

A puzzle of New York City! The Payne family pulls out a puzzle every holiday season, and I was missing out this year, so I got my own puzzle to put together.

Chris got a new racquetball racket. Now he can teach me how to play 🙂

I saw this and thought it would help Chris through the busy season at work. Its a calendar titled, “Jobs Worse Than Mine.”

Giving out plates of holiday treats is a lot of fun and something both of our families do every year. We thought it would be fun to make our own treats/plates. We naturally had to taste test the cookies/treats to make sure they were edible, and if any of the cookies broke or got smashed we took it upon ourselves to eat those too. You can’t give away damaged cookies…

Every year in Palo Alto they have a Christmas Creche exhibit set up for about a week in one of the stake centers. For Family Home Evening, Chris and I went to the Creche exhibit. They did not want pictures taken inside, so this is our only picture. This large creche (nativity) was set up outside the stake center. I was amazed that each Creche was unique. There were many shapes and sizes made from a variety of materials, and they came from all over the world.

Buying our Christmas tree! Buying a Christmas tree in a parking lot is still a foreign and strange concept to Chris. In Oregon, you go cut your own Christmas tree. In the parts of the country that do not have a nearby forest with perfect Christmas trees, we have to get our Christmas trees brought in on trucks and sold in a parking lot 🙂

We no longer have access to a truck, so we had to be a little more creative this year in getting our Christmas tree back to our apartment. My car definitely needed to be vacuumed after this.

We decorated our tree with the few decorations we have. Our tree looks exactly like it did last year, because we didn’t have any new decorations this year. Next year though, we’ll have a few new ones (thank you after-Christmas clearance sales).

Chris is placing the star on the tree, the final touch.

If at first you don’t succeed…

Try, try again. It took some effort, but we finally got the star on straight 🙂

For Thanksgiving, we went to the Pratt’s house, Chris’ sister’s family. They live in Sacramento, which is about two hours from San Jose. We had a wonderful, delicious Thanksgiving dinner together. We each gave a toast and shared what we were thankful for. We truly have so many blessings and reasons to be thankful.

The Pratts decorate for Christmas the day after Thanksgiving, and we were happy join them.

Such adorable children. They really liked those candy canes.

We had some time to play games with our nieces and nephew. Age differences make it hard to find one game that everyone will enjoy, but everyone got excited about a game of Twister. Levi and Grace took turns spinning the arrow, and Claire would tells us where our hands or feet would go next. We love spending time with family during the holidays.

My good friend Kendra and her husband Cyrus were in the bay area over Thanksgiving visiting Cyrus’ family. They drove to San Jose to spend an afternoon with us. It was so fun to see them again and catch up.

For Halloween we made my favorite…. pumpkin cookies!

Here he is hard at work. This year Chris carved his own pumpkin. I’m so proud of him 🙂 Carving pumpkins is one of my favorite Halloween activities, but apparently Chris hasn’t carved a pumpkin in years.

Here is Chris’ pumpkin, he did a great job. He’ll have to try a more challenging design next year.

This is my pumpkin. I actually impressed myself with how well this turned out; I was a little nervous while I was carving it.

Shortly after we moved in we had family come visit! We love having family over. Chris’ sister Cindy brought her five kids to San Jose to go to several museums. They came and had dinner with us and then stayed overnight – sleepover! The next day Chris and I were able to go with them to a nearby zoo. Here are three little girls all buckled in our back seat ready to go to the zoo.

We had a lot of fun watching the animals and riding the rides.

I had never seen a zoo with so many rides, but here we are on the Danny the Dragon train ride!

A week after the Pratts visited us, Brittany’s extended family came to visit. They were spending their fall break with us. We spent some time in San Jose, but one of our long days was spent in San Francisco. This is the view above Lombard street. Doesn’t it seem like a bright, sunny, clear skies day?

Well, it wasn’t clear and sunny over the bridge. Unfortunately, there was some pretty heavy fog around the bridge.

Ta da! You should be able to see the bridge behind us… too much fog.

For dinner, we headed to Chinatown. Dinner was delicious, and everyone had fun shopping in Chinatown.

The third day we went down to the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

Their little boy Kelton was such a trooper during the whole trip. He is a very good baby and seems to love going new places and seeing so many new things. He’s a cutie.

This is the 17-mile drive down the coast line south of Monterey Bay. This area is so beautiful.

We finished our road trip a little early so that we had time to drive to San Jose and search for an apartment before we moved out there with our belongings. We thought that was a good idea. We found our apartment, drove back to Utah, packed up all of our belongings and then drove back to San Jose! Lots of driving, but at this point we were used to it. Chris drove the Penske truck and towed his car while I followed driving my Galant.

Here is our new home! A cozy one bedroom apartment in San Jose! After being on the road living out of a suitcase for so long we were excited to have a place to call home and to have all our belongings in one place. This is the living room/dining room/study 🙂

We got some help moving in from members of our new ward, but clearly we had a lot of work still ahead of us. Yay for unpacking!