Monday was a payday as a parent. Ever since Ruby and Herbie have been baptized and received the Holy Ghost, we've spent a lot of time trying to help them recognize when they are not feeling the Holy Ghost and what they need to do to get it back. Sunday evening I noticed something that appeared to be a breakthrough for her, and she proved it Monday morning when she and Herbie got into a little tiff over some spilled milk and she admitted her mistake, then made up with him all on her own. This was a big deal for her.

Then later, Linus wanted me to put together a race track for him. I told him no because I a) had just put it away myself so I could vacuum, and b) was in the middle of scrubbing a toilet. There was a lot of whining, and then suddenly it was quiet. When I walked back through the living room, he'd already put it together all by himself.
Me: You figured out how to put it together, Linus! You are so smart!  
Linus: Heavenly Father and Jesus helped me put it together.  
Me: Oh, did you say a prayer?  
Linus: Uh-hun, they didn't want me to whine.  
I asked them if they knew how to put it together, and they did.  
Me: How did you know what they said?  
Linus: I was talking to them in my head. 
I was so incredibly proud of him. Not so much that he'd put it together without my help, but that he'd relied on his Heavenly Father and then got to work.

This is how Penelope says passed gas/tooted/whatever--Who pasted gasted!?

Also, this is what she says when she wants to hurl a horrible insult at someone: Linus! YOU are MISS-US!!

Sitting with Penelope in church this week I was reminded of what she'd said to me last week, so I whispered in her ear, "I had a good Christmas with YOU, Penelope!" Then I planted a kiss on her cheek. And she wrinkled her brow and snapped, "I already knew that!"

Archie's discovered the classic Hand, Hand, Fingers, Thumb, which he calls Dum, Dum! And he's just generally adorable, and just watching him walk is entertaining.

Herbie was very proud of the picture he drew for the Friend magazine. It's actually the second one he drew. The first one was on lined scrap paper and he spent about three minutes on it. I encouraged him to think of it as rough draft and draw another one. I'm not sure he spent anymore time on it, but the paper is nicer.

Moses lost another tooth. The tooth fairy is running a little behind. I think she owes him for two teeth ... He keeps saying, "Write yourself an email to remember to put money under my pillow!" and then somehow, I can't even remember to do that. Anyway, that's my goal for this week. Get the tooth fairy all caught up.

Woo pulled out a navy pair of long johns with a back flap this week, which made Linus laugh and laugh and then want to pull on his own matching pair of red long johns.

After I wrote last week about following the prompting to write weekly emails, one of our friends from St. Louis wrote back that actually all commandments from God are that way. As we do them, even if it's not always easy, or doesn't make the most sense, eventually (and sometimes it's a long eventually :), we come to realize that by doing them, we are actually getting exactly what we've always dreamed out of life.

Well, that's about it. Hope you had a great week!



Almost seven years ago I was in the shower when the Spirit said to me, "Write a weekly email like Woo's dad and send it to your family." So I did. Not every week, but close to every week. Woo helped me take pictures and record things the kids had said or done, and even if I was dead tired, I would sit down and try to spit out something, because I had plans to compile them somehow, someday, and gift them to my kids when they turned eighteen or so.

But last night I had a sudden insight into how much I was going to enjoy reading old emails and looking at pictures when my little kids have grown up and left the house. I was really touched to realize that this whole time my Heavenly Father knew that this wasn't just a gift for my kids, but a gift for me.

For my whole life I'll be able to look at their cute faces and laugh and remember things in a way I never would've been able to, if I hadn't written them down. I really consider it one of the best gifts I've ever received--to always have a treasure trove of happy memories and images from this time in my life at my finger tips.

Herbie (reading): What the... ? It says Bruce R McKonkie... Is that Bruce? (aka's Grandma Marva's Bruce)
Herbie: Mom, if I get two or three more teeth, can I get braces? 
Penelope was sitting in my lap today in church when the speaker said the word "Christmas." She turned around and whispered really loudly, "Mom! I had a good christmas with you!" Then she planted a big kiss on my cheek.

Penelope's new parlor trick:
Mom! Look at my bloodness!

Linus was in the middle of telling Archie where Jesus lives, when Penelope interrupted.
Penelope: No, he actually died.  
Linus: No, NellPea. He came alive again.  
Me: He was resurrected, NellPea. He's alive.  
Penelope (gasp, eyes big, little squeal): I'm going to give him a hug!!!
Of course, I think she thinks we mean he'll be by next week to visit or something.

Moses giggled a bit after reading the word "notwithstanding." Then he issued the command, "Sit on the floor! Notwithstanding!"

Moses and Linus bumped heads really hard last week. Moses let out a really painful scream, then cried while holding his head for a while. He seemed ok, but kept complaining about it hurting the next day, so I let him stay home from school. Almost the second the older kids had gone, he was up and playing like normal. I have to be on my guard, now that I know he's capable of feigning sick to get out of school.

Linus, btw, just keeps praying and getting his prayers answered. It's kind of exciting.

Archie's getting really, really close to being potty trained. He's had several dry days this week. He just turned two, which is my latest kid (by about four months), but I just couldn't get myself worked up about it. Also, I think I might have underestimated the effect having a new baby in the house has on the old baby. It makes them want to grow up. Another thing is that I would put Archie in a diaper when we left the house. I thought it wouldn't matter, because with Penelope it didn't, but now I think he could tell I wasn't completely committed. We went completely diaperless about two weeks ago. I took extra pants and underwear everywhere we went because there were accidents, but he got the message. He's stepping it up now.

Ruby has wanted to be in the church choir for a long time. In fact, a couple weeks ago when the choir sang their Christmas number, she stood right up and joined them. Woo and I just looked at each other and shrugged.  Today she and Herbie stayed after church for their first practice, and they seemed pretty excited about it when they got home.
Ruby (listing songs in her piano book): ... and "Happy Family When We're Helping"...

Woo decided that the kids needed to experience some Mad Libs. He looked some up online, took the oldest kids to the library to print some off and came back excited to share the joy. But he got pretty frustrated pretty quick when none of the kids knew what an adjective was, or a verb, and only Moses knew what a noun was. And they didn't get any better with practice. Finally, he shoved the stack of papers aside and said, "Well, I'm not going to be Dad of the Year today after all."

He laid on the couch for a few minutes, but later recovered to help the kids build a giant marble maze and then play a game of hockey with Ruby and Herbie at the ice rink. Sounds pretty close to Dad of the Year to me.

Well, that's about it. Hope you all had a great week!



Ruby is now 10 and Archie is 2. In a lot of ways, Ruby is the exact same person she was when she was 2. She's quick to make friends, and their names just aren't that important to her.
Ruby (2 weeks ago): Mom! This is my friend! Her name is-- What's your name again?
She told me about her again after seeing her at the ice rink and still didn't know her name. She referred to her as "that girl I showed you."

She loves free junk. She had a dream recently where the lost and found at school was open to everyone, and you could take anything you wanted. You better believe she loaded herself up with all the discarded hats, scarfs, mismatched gloves, backpacks, lunch boxes, etc. she could carry. Too bad it was only a dream.

She's still an excellent friend to those who need a friend. The parents of her autistic friend were so grateful, they gave her a sweet card and box of candy from Sees for Christmas. She says everyone on the bus mobbed her for the candy. She came home with most of it except for a chocolate santa she sold to some kid for $10.

Archie has hit his talking explosion. He says "I want some!", "Read it!" and even "Bad guy did it!" while running away after hitting Penelope in the head. He's done with whole milk, and he's done with the sippy cup. He thinks that he's the owner of my lap, and will get upset if anyone else is there. Penelope moved up to Primary this week, leaving Archie the only regularly attending kid in our nursery.

Some one picked us for the 12 days of Christmas and left (thankfully) small gifts on our porch every night. On about night three, Ruby tore open the door almost the second they knocked, yelled "I see you!!", told us it was a boy wearing a white coat and was completely unable to tell us who it actually was.

Herbie saw them the next night. "A boy with a green coat." But, again, no idea who it was.

One night the knock came after most the kids had already gone up the stairs for bed. Only little, broken-leg Linus was downstairs.

I asked him, "Do you want to get the door, Linus?" at the same moment he realized that he could actually be the first kid to the door (because he was the only kid there...). It almost broke my heart to see his face light up with glee, limp as fast as he could to the door, fumble with the door knob in excitement, yell, "Hey! Hey!" out into the night, and then grope at the treasure on the door stop until he could pick it all up. He limped back to us with the goods, absolutely elated.
Linus (eating his treat later): Mom, this not healthy. Things that are yum, are not healthy.

Penelope's favorite Christmas song is "Chelsey's days." That's from the "in excelsis Deo" in "Angels We Have Heard On High," of course. All of the kids think it's my song.

Here's another one from Penelope. Can you tell what "brown beans for dogs" is? Dog food.

Moses and Herbie have done a lot of wrestling over the break. Mostly instigated by Moses, but Herbie is more than happy to comply. Moses even tried to tackle Archie one time (which didn't go over too well for Archie), and me (which didn't go over too well for Moses). Turns out I'd rather pin my opponent to the floor than roll around the living room a few dozen times, and then I decided to tickle. This enraged every male in the household because it's "against the rules." How was I supposed to know?

We've been working our way through all the kids for our monthly fasts, and this month we were on Moses.
Us: What would you like us to fast for you, Moses?
Moses: For you to buy me a football costume with shoulder pads and shorts!! 
Once we explained some things that would be more appropriate, he wanted:
To know better multiple-cation!

Even when the temperature is in the single digits, Herbie is always insisting that he isn't cold. And maybe he isn't. He's still a kid, and he is constantly moving. Shortly after this picture, he took off his coat and then his snow pants because he said he was too hot.

I, on the other hand, begged Woo to let me wear the orange-suit-of-warmth, and he graciously complied. He had a stretchy-denim, corduroy number to wear, and I'm pretty sure he made several people's day when he wore it snowboarding right afterwards.

Well, that's it for now. I hope you all had a great week!


As an apostle, President Monson was never my favorite, but the conference before he became Prophet, I was listening to him speak, and the Spirit spoke peace to me. It said: This man will be Prophet. And it will be ok.

My heart was softened, and as Prophet, I have loved President Monson. I know that he is called of God. I know that his words are part of the iron rod we should cling to.

And not just President Monson, but all the apostle's words are there to guide us. We have them at our fingertips, and I can't count the number of times I've received comfort or guidance or council from their words.

I am grateful for this blessing in my life, and I know that the Prophet is guiding me, and my family, and the church to prepare us for the second coming of Jesus Christ.



I'm on vacation so I'm going to post the emails the kids wrote to their cousin (Woo's nephew) on a mission in Colorado. I'm sure he won't mind ....

Elder Bacon,
I love you. Have a happy, happy Christmas. And I hope you have a very, Merry Christmas. That's all. Love,

Hi Elder Bacon,
I hope you have a good Christmas. I hope you stay safe. I hope you're having fun on your mission. I wonder what you get for Christmas.

Dear Elder Bacon
Thank you for being my cousin. How are you doing?I'm. Doing fine.I hope you are having a good time on your mission.I can't wait till I can go on a mission!I can't wait till you can come home.I love you.Tell me what you get for christmas please.I hope you get some more church clothes like ties,shirts,scriptures,scriptures case and and something you like maybe some candy.
Love oxox

Hi Elder Bacon,
You have a house? I have a house and beds in my house. I have a Christmas tree up, cuz it's Christmas. My mom has a iPod and my dad had a iPod and a camputer. I have a toy camputer. Archie's here. Archie's a baby. I wanna say Merry Christmas. Hi, Merry Christmas.

Hello Elder Bacon
Merry Christmas. Hope you get some great present's this Christmas Season. The best Halooaday ever is Christmas because of Jesus Christ. Hope you have a great time on your Mission. Hope you get the present's you wan'ted. We really miss you so much.
Love xoxoxoxo

Hope you all had a great Christmas!



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This year sets itself apart from previous years in that somehow no children were born to us!

Find out how!

Woo's never been more attractive or more gainfully employed, thanks to working a new fulltime job (20% of the time in a real office!) for a startup that aims to take over the world....

of cloud storage.

This company was bought by another company which makes him a "company man" twice over.

In other endeavors, he's spent his entire life savings on a crummy, dilapidated rental property. 

Beautiful vacation home for rent. You deserve a break. 
Why not make it tomorrow?

He discovered the joys of cheap Chinese made quadrocopters,

Use coupon code THISISFORMENOTMYKIDS for 7% off!

Maintained his girlish figure via the All Stress Diet (patent pending) and made heads turn in his service as Elders Quorum President, winning such reviews as:

"I'm happy to see you don't take this too seriously." - The Bishop 
"You're the Elder's Quorum President?!?" - Stake High Council Member


"No really, who is the President?" - Chelsey

Chelsey has been busy attending to the needs of her 7 childlike cohabitants, and writing a novel.

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before prices go up--or she gives up!

She doesn't look a day over 37 thanks to this one crazy trick!!

Yes, she drinks a shotful of olive oil every day.

In other efforts, she's killed off at least one person with an accidental "death date entry" on FamilySearch (and has a much greater appreciation for the difficulty of resurrection).

She spent several hours cooking avocado-coconut fries, teaches the 16-18 year old girls in our church and generally holds all things Woolley together while maintaining her dignity (see photo above).

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Ruby is 10 years old. She's been endowed with all the good qualities of her father: thrift, aversion to manual hair maintenance and closed mouth chewing, stubbornness, and entrepreneurship.

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From her mother she's inherited spelling bee savoir faire, competitive individual sports, and reading. 

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She's also picked up some skills unmatched by either parent, such as sneaking (barely), befriending special needs kids, dressing up like Harry Potter, and instigating riots among her siblings so she can subsequently demonstrate her excellent peacemaking abilities.

Herbie is 78 years old this year. Other than his aching back, cataracts, interest in older women, "allergies" to things he conveniently doesn't like, his 7 o' clock bedtime, and reading choices (Edgar Rice Burroughs, Mark Twain, The World at War), he's probably 70 years younger than he acts.

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He's made a strong showing in debate, wax medium art, and wax medium art removal.

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He's got a heart of gold,

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And wants to play football. When not wooing the recess lady, or his teacher, or sixth graders, he plays flys up with Moses. He loves Cub Scouts, offers to help classmates with multiplication tables and takes over for Dad when Dad isn't home (or within earshot).

Moses is either 6 or almost 1 1/2, depending on how you count. He's put on a lot of muscle mass thanks to his expertly-crafted, sugary, butter-laden grain supplements.

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He's a real wizard in awkward, quasi-martial-artsy body movements. Hedging his mad self-defense skills and imposing physique, he's also pioneered "body guard" building and trained several padawans in that skill.

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Would-be attackers don't stand a chance. He even conquered Satan by doing his chores without whining. Once.

His only weaknesses are decks with protruding nails and water over waist-deep.

We interrupt this semi-regularly scheduled email to bring you a taste of the refreshing, all-natural, gluten-free, 

Linus is still the most enchanting kid in town (quite literally) due to his sweet smile, broken leg hobbling and Tiny Tim voice--well, and the local demography ;). He made headlines (in our house) for learning to ride his bike the fastest of any kid yet.

Linus is making important realizations like, "If it tastes good, it's not healthy," and "I want things that taste good, thanks," and "No, carrots can't be healthy!"

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He's our self proclaimed "cleanest eater" (originally coined by his dad). He lives by strong routines. If he ran the world, he'd be 16, have a drivers license, and go by the name of Peyton.

Penelope is a mom. Her name is Betsy. Her name is also Chelsey. Or Miss Nelson. Or Miss Viola Swamp. Her eyes can open as big as her head when she's excited... which is whenever she's awake.

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Penelope won't eat beans, rice, salad, spinach or soup. But sometimes Betsy will. Like most moms, she wears her clothes and shoes backwards and plays in the closet. Like most kids, she makes beds, puts babies in cribs, and sets tables everywhere she goes. She has a baby named Archie and a baby named Bounce.

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Archie is, by all accounts, a baby. He likes smallish, round things. He likes putting smallish, round things in his nose.

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Archie calls Penelope "mom," and will lie down and nap for her. He sometimes says "I bad guy," then laughs. Other times he is a bad guy while he surreptitiously hunts for powdered foods such as Kool-aid™, flour, oats or freshly-trashed foods from the garbage.

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He is no longer in a crib or high chair and is working on his escape from diapers. Unlike all other kids his age, he likes cars and trucks and candy and footwear.

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don't want you to know! 

We've had a great year, and look forward to many more! We wish we could see all of you in person and wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Figgy pudding--free delivery! 

Woo, Cheltz, Ruby, Herbie, Moses, Linus, Penelope and Archie

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Over the last few years, I've pared down and I've pared down, until I now have a stress free Christmas. I have to say that I couldn't do it without Amazon. I know I've said this before, but how wonderful is it to spend an evening in my own house picking out presents for the kids and then have them show up on my doorstep 2-7 days later? They come in sturdy, cardboard boxes that I can leave in a pile in my room and the kids can't even get a peek--Wonderful!

Anyways, the point is I feel like I'm really enjoying this Christmas season, and I think that my focus and the family's focus is definitely turned towards Jesus' birth.

I memorized The Living Christ around Thanksgiving, but wanted to recite it for my family. I finally did that this week for FHE. (I do have to say that it never seemed especially revelatory to me, but memorizing it made it a lot more meaningful.) We watched the short YouTube clip He Is The Gift, and put up the tree.

The next night while Woo was at work I let the kids decorate the tree however they liked. Minutes after this picture was taken, Archie pulled the tree down on top of himself, all the kids ran around like nuts, making things worse trying to help, and the tree wouldn't stand up anymore due to all the decorations being concentrated on one side. That was the point where I lost my temper (still not perfect ...).

Here are some random things from the last two weeks:
Me: I don't know computers as well as Dad.  
Linus: You don't?! I do!  
I just get a book and I type, type, type.  
Just like Dad does. 
Oh, Woo. You make it look so easy.

Four things Linus has to say every night after I kiss him goodnight.
  1. I love you and I like you and goodnight!
  2. Will you take me to the potty?
  3. Will you pinch me when you take me to the potty?
  4. Are you staying up?
Linus (announcing the arrival of another Fedex truck): It's a Fedup truck!!
Whenever anyone can't remember something, Linus is quick to yell: 
Ask Jesus! Jesus is the only one who knows. 
He says this because recently he couldn't remember something, prayed, and then suddenly was able to remember it. 
Moses (wearing his fire helmet backwards like a flat brimmed baseball cap): I'm a lazy man.  
Woo: Is that how lazy men wear their hats, Moses?  
Moses: Well, sometimes they wear it like this. (Turns the brim to the side.) 
Moses is very, very motivated by candy. He'll step right up and do a fantastic job on all his chores and cleaning his room just for a little Christmas treat.

He was very proud to show me his math test. Not only because he got 100%, but because (as he carefully turned each page and showed me) it was five pages long and he didn't miss anything.

Last Sunday Penelope suddenly announced that she's Betsy. Betsy has three children: Cheerio (Archie), Archie (a doll) and Chouin (a doll). Actually the doll's names are sometimes Powchin, Bunkbed (a girl), Wowa, John and Konn. 

Betsy does all the important Mom activities like brushing her children's teeth, putting them in bed and putting them on the potty. Penelope sure is lucky to have a younger brother who is such a good sport, and who she can parent in her spare time. Archie will do almost anything she asks--even lie down and pretend to nap. 
Linus: NellPea who are you married to?  
Penelope: Archie. He's my kid.

Woo's bought himself a few toys this week and last. Two new sets of headphones, and his crowning glory--The X11 Hornet. For those of you who don't know, the X11 Hornet is a quadrocopter. We've spent many evenings with the lights off, Woo flying his X11 Hornet up and down the living room and the kids watching, totally transfixed. Woo loves it so much (and the kids have too), that he's ordered almost all of them remote controlled helicopters for Christmas (don't tell them).

Herbie came home from school one day very excited because his friend Brock had made him an elf (as in the Elf on the Shelf). His friend was being very kind to draw him an elf, write out the rules and package it nicely for Herbie, because (according to Herbie) he's the only kid in his class who doesn't have an elf at home spying on him.

Ruby, Moses and Linus immediately colored and cut out elves of their own and placed them in the living room. Herbie made the rules absolutely clear to everyone, and even told the elf the rules of our house, and then (oddly enough) the elves never moved, and everyone forgot about them. 

Archie now does that cute thing where if one of the other kids hurts his feelings, or we tell him he can't do something, he'll bawl all the way to the stairs and up them. Then come down ready to be happy. He's seen the others kids go upstairs crying so often and come down happy that he seems to think it's some magic panacea. And maybe it is.

Ruby went shopping with Grandma Sandy for her birthday last weekend. She was super, super excited and got do some things she'd always dreamed of, but her tyrannical parents were always preventing. Like eating spaghetti with meatballs (Woo hates it, and I've never made it for that reason.) She also got herself some clip-on earrings, and a whole bunch of books--everything Harry Potter.

Well, I think that's it. Hope everyone's enjoying their Christmas!