12.29.2019

Yet Another Christmas Miracle


This week the weather has been sunny and warm. Last Sunday while we were discussing Elder Bednar's talk and Woo was pointing out the part about how Satan uses distraction and deception, a motorcycle gang in Santa Claus suits roared by and very effectively distracted all kids but two. Blast.


Monday I decided to have the kids scrub out the laundry room. This is the kind of work they like to do. Maybe because they don't do it every day and also because it beats sitting around waiting for Christmas.


Ruby, as the birthday girl, was excused from all house work. She spent the morning trying out her new calligraphy set, then somewhat reluctantly picked up her other present: The Complete Novels of Jane Austen. We rarely saw her again until Christmas morning.


I'd planned to scrub out bathrooms on Tuesday morning, but I woke up with a cold, and the kids all seemed to have found other acceptable things to do... so I took a nap, wrapped up the rest of my Christmas preparations in about a half hour (while Woo was napping).


Moses and Linus helped me carry all the presents up to our little tree that they also decorated; then we all went to the new park.


I'd planned on making a quiche for Christmas Eve dinner, but Woo suggested cinnamon toast and hot chocolate, which I was happy to do as it's much easier. I added some loaded scrambled eggs and everyone was pleased.


They don't sell hot chocolate or anything peppermint here, so I dissolved a jar of Nutella in milk on the stove and put a mint Mentos in the bottom of everyone's cup. It was easily better than any powdered hot chocolate I've ever had.


We had our usual Christmas Eve things to remember the birth of the Savior, but they seemed to fall a bit flat. Maybe because I was sick.


Christmas day went well. Herbie and Moses did some family history while waiting for Woo and I to get up. We read scriptures and opened presents. It was the most relaxing Christmas I remember since having kids. Everyone was happy to work on new lego sets or read their books. I went on a head-cold-jog in my new running shoes from Woo, then put a super easy roast and vegetable dinner in the oven.


Herbie was too exhausted from excitement to think straight all day. He did some legos, then kind of wandered the house in a daze. I read him a chapter of his Sherlock Holmes to get him started. After that he was fine.


Linus was feeling so good he gave two of his presents away: a airplane lego set to Moses and an extra hopper ball (we got another from a friend) to Woo.


Woo went for a surf, which luckily was a very fun day. He came home and said it made his Christmas. Also, he was hungry enough to eat dinner. My Christmas dinner efforts sometimes feel wasted, as no one is hungry enough to eat it, but Woo was ravenous and ate almost all of it himself.


The day after Christmas was equally relaxing, but I was more sick. I only went for a walk (although it was very pleasant in the sun) in my new shoes. While the kids were occupied, Woo and I tried to pin down our feelings about Christmas. Woo was equally bothered by the Christmas is only about Christ dogma.


My feelings have evolved a lot. I believe that simple is best, but only because I believe that simple is best in pretty much everything. We’ve never done Santa, but only because we never had anything to say about him when Ruby and Herbie were tiny and after that it was just easier to tell the truth.

Obviously, we try to keep Christmas Christ centered. It can be a good opportunity to celebrate Him in many ways.

But on the other hand... if Christmas falls flat and isn’t a time of amazing spiritual or service experiences, that’s also okay. We both realized that Christmas is not the time the Savior himself set up to remember him. Nor is it the time to rededicate or devote ourselves to him. That’s the sacrament.


And really, that’s what the Savior himself wants. He wants us to repent and covenant to follow and remember him through baptism and then to re-access how well we’re doing each week in the sacrament. We read about the doctrine of Christ in the Book of Mormon on Christmas evening, just in the regular course of our Book of Mormon reading, and really, it was perfect.


We had a little adventure coming home from the temple when the headlights were left on and the battery died. No one tried to give us a jump start, instead they suggested we pop the clutch. Woo had heard of this, but had never tried it, and his first three attempts failed, mostly because he forgot to turn the car on.

But we had the gardener jump in the van while we and the 2nd counselor in the temple presidency pushed the van down the hill to the street, and he got it for us.


Penelope got a kite from friends, but it has been so easy to fly that she quickly lost interest. Only Woo would stay with it.


Also, I've been surprised to discover that she is completely unfamiliar with the story of Beauty and the Beast. She has been reading an adaption with all of it being a complete surprise.


The rest of the week was pretty much more of the same. We invited kids to read scriptures in our room almost every morning, visited the new park (which was at times very crowded), and managed to help the Elders clean someone's car (after many failed appointments). Two of Archie's classmates lived on the same street and kept calling out his name.


I hope you all had a Merry Christmas!


12.22.2019

This Week...


The kids were out of school.


They pulled on their fuzzy pajamas.


Herbie even tried on Ruby's jammies.

Penelope (laughing): Linus says undies! 
Linus: What do you say, Nelps? 
Penelope: Underwear! 
Archie (emerging from the bathroom, and completely serious): I say it the real way! 
Which is UNDERPANTS!!

We cleaned out rooms, mopped floors, walls and ceilings.


We made gingerbread cookies, tiger butter fudge, and Woo made us hot chocolate (not all on the same day).


Linus dropped his first carefully decorated cookie, which was never the same after that.


I read the kids A Little Princess, to the enjoyment of all. (I called it something else at the beginning to not immediately repel Linus and Archie.) However, no mystery, Penelope really, really loves it.


Woo drove the van to the shop, and after a couple days and several hundred euros it was fixed.


We went to the temple, where through a series of misunderstandings, Ruby did about 17 baptisms and no confirmations and Herbie did over a hundred of each.


After a slow start, Woo and I did sealings.


We watched Planet Earth II in the evenings. This is possibly Moses' most favorite thing ever.


Ruby, Herbie, Moses and Linus successfully delivered 12-Days-of-Christmas gifts everyday, while keeping it a secret from Archie and Penelope (who would definitely blab), and the children receiving it.


Moses and Linus played ping pong at the church with Woo.


Archie lost his two front teeth. Yes, we know what he wants for Christmas.


Linus delivered a present to his autistic friend that he planned, bought and wrapped himself. His mother thanked Woo and I (the people who had nothing to do with it) sincerely.


Kids went shopping for gifts for each other and wrapped them.


Almost all of our ordered gifts arrived in the mail.


We went to our new playground--on a day when hardly anyone else was there!


At the end of his talk, Presidente Mário announced we were doing inactive visits with our extra hour off church. Luckily, we had Pedro with us to do all the work. He did an awesome job and it definitely made his week.

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And that's our week. Merry Christmas!