We had some great weather this week. A day or two in the mid-50s and even some snow later in the week without getting too cold. Penelope, Archie and I went to the park one morning. Penelope stripped off her coat and ran around singing. Archie also stripped off his coat, but he's much more reserved. He sat by me and watched Penelope live it up.

We put up the tree. I let the kids almost entirely do it themselves. It's made the whole thing a lot more enjoyable. The only real problem is the kids don't spread out the ornaments very well and the tree has a tendency to get side heavy. Herbie put weights on the tree stand to keep it from toppling over. Remember when I cared what the tree looked like and tried to force my vision on the kids? Embarrassing.

Grandma Sandy came to take Ruby shopping for her birthday, which is of course a lot of fun for Ruby. She picked out two watches for herself (one of them a Harry Potter watch), some Hogwarts socks, a Hermione doll and some magnetic earrings.

Herbie's morning outbursts are a thing of the past, thanks to taking a picture every morning to prove where he's been in the rotation (Woo's idea), and Woo getting up early to join us. Woo hasn't gotten up this early consistently since, I don't know, his mission, so this is quite the sacrifice for him, but we sure enjoy having him with us.

Look at this... Herbie cleaned and dried the sink one evening for fun.

Archie (in his superman costume): I'm awesome man! I'm a awesome man!

Moses unwinds on the weekend by dressing up in some crazy outfit and building things out of clothes. This weekend was mostly Hogwarts themed. I think Ruby's new socks were the inspiration. He's carrying a ball made entirely out of underwear, which he used as a quaffle.

We spent a lot of evenings playing games. Rummikub and Twister and Woo even started to teach Ruby, Herbie and Moses Settlers of Catan. They didn't finish a game and Woo was running circles around everyone, but they all said they liked it and want to play again.

We took the kids to the dollar store to let them buy presents for each other. They were so excited and Ruby got rid of about $2 worth of pennies (yay!)

Me (telling them what we were going to do): And then we'll bring them home and you can wrap them. 
Moses: With real wrapping paper?! 
Me: Yes.
Which was met with giant smiles and cheers and even some jumping all around because this is the first year we've been able to afford wrapping paper. Just kidding, we've always had wrapping paper, the kids just like to play Christmas or birthdays and wrap old toys up for each other in blankets. They were very excited to be doing the real deal.

The tree Linus made is pretty obvious, but you may not be able to tell what that red thing is. It's a santa. I think the white block is the ball on the end of his hat. Linus has written some good cards this week. He always gives them his best effort. He put the same attention to detail into carefully wrapping all the presents he'd bought and carefully printing their names.

That's about it, except I just want to make extra sure you realize the line about not being able to afford wrapping paper is a complete joke. Please don't send us anonymous envelopes of money in the mail... which reminds me of a story I'll write at the end. Hope you had a great week!

A lot of you have already heard this story, but I'm writing it down anyways... (Or have I already? I can't remember...)

One Christmas Eve morning we dropped by the DI (thrift store) on our way home from Woo's parents. At the time we had four kids and I was pregnant. There were some interesting characters in the DI that day. Right off the bat I noticed a girl near the front door in brand new expensive clothing and perfect hair and make up. That seemed odd. There was also a man, he was injured in some way. Crutches? Missing a leg? He had a little boy with him. There was another couple or two with children who seemed to stand out for not being very well off.

The girl in the expensive clothing had a whole family dressed in the same style as her. I kept thinking, "What are they doing here?" But I didn't think about it too much. I was there to look for something specific while Woo made a quick scan of the rest of the store, and we'd be on our way. The kids wanted to look in the toy aisle and we kept saying no. Mostly because we always do (not our favorite place to get toys), but I think this might have contributed to what happened next.

While I was walking down one aisle a woman said, "Merry Christmas!" slipped something into my hand and was gone. It was forty dollars. I didn't need it, but I also didn't want to chase her down and give it back. I continued on as if nothing had happened and we left the store.

Everyone was buckled up, we were driving away, and the girl I first saw stopped us and handed us an envelope through the window. Inside was a card and four hundred dollars.

The funny thing is that was the most profitable year Woo's every had. We were almost certainly the least deserving people in the entire store. I felt bad thinking of all the other people I'd seen in there who could've obviously used some money and then I realized they were too obvious. I can't ever remember seeing anyone that destitute looking in the DI. Maybe they were on to the free cash at DI on Christmas Eve? Maybe not. If there's anything I've learned from this, it's that it's hard to judge strangers by who needs money and who doesn't.

And we didn't end up being the worst people to give money to. We had some friends with medical bills. We knew a missionary who needed help. We gave it all away to people we knew who could use it (and we made our own donations too, don't worry :). The end.