Merry Christmas!

The last two weeks have been spurts of way too much, broken up by lulls of way too little. 

Ruby turned seventeen! It started out a dull, rainy day, and sometimes we’re sad that Ruby doesn’t get a job or dating (or really any friend time outside of school—she did go out to lunch with her two best friends the last day of school—we were happy about that!) or a drivers license.

However, whenever I’ve prayed about it I’ve learned that I should trust in the Lord and because of the lack of some things, the kids will become experts in others.

She did a lot of reading that she enjoyed. Woo showed an episode of “The Private Life of Plants” that was enjoyed by all, and I saved the gingerbread houses for the Christmas activity for the day. She was excited about that.

I bought gingerbread house kits (hilariously called witches' houses in both German and Portuguese—Hansel and Gretel reference) from Aldi this year. They were by far the best gingerbread houses we’ve made here, due to the high humidity and lack of powdered sugar.

The problem was they only had four left. Ruby (and Penelope) immediately offered to make the sacrifice in return for another Christmas activity and treat. They’re good at making sacrifices.

But it was Ruby’s birthday and I know how she loves gingerbread houses. I negotiated a trade with Herbie for a Christmas lantern, almost a full bag of spiced biscuits and a can of peaches.

Woo spent a lot of time with the soldering iron this week. After many, many hours, he did manage to fix the printer.

He came into the living room where I was reading to Archie to tell me. The look on his face made my heart sink as it looked like something had gone terribly wrong, like someone had diedsa. But no, he was there to announce that he’d done it. The printer was fixed.

I prepared several pdfs to print names for baptisms that night, but didn’t print them. I wanted Woo to supervise, as he stressed that the fix was very precarious.

The next morning the cord to my laptop was split into two. It had been accidentally sat on by a child who shall remain anonymous.

All our electronic devices are getting pretty old, and all seem to be holding on through miracles. My laptop won’t start without being plugged in. Buying a cord would be extremely difficult.

Once again, Woo got out his tools and some nail clippers and his stubborn obsession with seeing a job through, and had the cord fixed in a couple of hours. We got all the names printed.

I was initially heartened to see that the prophet was going to put out a Christmas message. I knew it was going to appear to be nothing or like something I’ve heard a million times, and *could* mentally check off as “Oh yeah, I’m already doing that.”

But my first reaction (that I quickly recovered from) was disappointment. It was so short! (Also, I hated the idea the images gave me that I constantly have to be baking casseroles or doing yard work or visiting the hospital to bring people the Light of Christ!)

However, I had been prepared all day with the repeated message that faith proceeds the miracle.

I knew what to do. I immediately started the clip over, without the sound, paying no attention to the film, but frequently hitting pause as I closely studied the subtitles.

I came up with six calls to action in that short clip. I still had close to an hour until kids came home from school, so I immediately got to work, figuring out what those six calls meant for me.

Long story short, I ended up writing many, many personalized Christmas letters with my testimony of Christ. I started with Woo, then my children, and family and put the most effort in those, then worked out to the branch, friends, people we know here, the kids’ teachers and administrators, some people in the stake… It was exhausting!

However, I do believe it was worth it, and that I did what I was supposed to do!

A smaller thing we were led to do was go caroling as a family. That was also the right thing to do. Everyone was touched. Some very much so. In one place there were loud barking dogs in the neighboring yard, that suddenly stopped barking during the middle of the song, and stayed quiet through another.

When praying specifically about gifts for the kids (remember their Christmas is still currently VERY small), I remembered there were a lot of church history tours we still hadn’t done. They’d been too difficult to schedule during the school year. I immediately scheduled eight. One every couple days for the next two weeks.

And then there were a handful of smaller things to give good gifts and share the Light of Christ this Christmas.

Wednesday we had a baptismal appointment. We took everyone because later we had a dinner and white elephant gift exchange planned with a family, who had graciously brought me back some progesterone cream from the US.

The party was on, off, on and finally off. Which ended up being a good choice as they ended up coming home three hours late from the dentist, and our finished passport pick-up ended up taking far longer than we expected, and we only ended up with Archie’s. (We got an email the next day saying all the rest were now done.)

Woo was a trooper managing all the kids while Ruby and I waited in a small, fortified room in the embassy (listening to people with far more difficult problems than us in line ahead of us) and driving winding European streets with a headache.

The first day of Christmas break we slept in and I walked into Herbie and Moses’s room to find Herbie had cleaned his room very well, swept, done his chore, was reading his president Nelson talk for the day, and had inspired Moses to get off to a similarly good start.

Herbie is very good at knowing what needs to be done and doing it.

While not 100% perfect, Moses has continued to try to be his best in getting along with his siblings and preparing for Christmas as if Christ were coming.

He helped almost all his siblings find inexpensive gifts for each other and helped them wrap. He’s continued to deliver the secret Santa gifts, even as other kids get tired of it. He delivered them both himself once!

Vaccinations for Linus and Nelpea became available. Woo set up the appointment. I don’t have time or interest to research that stuff anymore. Woo didn’t have many misgivings and I simply said a prayer that if it wasn’t right, it wouldn’t work out. That’s always worked for me in the past :).

We completely forgot our appointment, and when we realized, for a second it seemed like it was the wrong thing. Woo was out running errands with Ruby and texted me at home. I got our documents together and drove to the health center.

We had a shorter wait than normal because we were so late, which was a good thing, because Linus had a terrible time waiting! He was standing, tapping stuff, wriggling, complaining, etc. He could not sit still!

He got his shot and then the nurse quickly put a bandaid on him. So quickly, she placed it below the needle puncture. We had to reapply it.

Archie has an appointment in two weeks. If it’s wrong, I’m sure it won’t happen :).

Penelope was finishing up her family history one day when she told me her eyes were acting weird. (Not vaccine related, but excitement related.) Ruby and I both recognized it as pre-migraine and had her lie down. She also ate an apple when she recognized she was hungry after a few minutes of lying down.

She walked slowly with me in the park while the other kids played and brought her mattress down to sit on while doing Christmas crafts.

I don’t think she ever got a bad headache and by late afternoon she was feeling well enough to go play in the park with Woo and the other kids while I made dinner.

Also excitement related, Linus had a bad night of sleeping. He did everything within his power to correct it the next night, and he has a special plan for Christmas Eve night.

Archie (proudly): “Israel” rhymes with “let god prevail.” 
And it means that in Jewish.

Moses (praying): Help us to not play any ping pong but avoid all compliments… er, rude compliments…

We had a used string of Christmas lights someone in the branch gave us. Archie blew a fuse plugging them in one night.

Later, when the little kids were in bed, there was an argument that I had to go up and investigate.

Me (texting Woo): Archie was scared to turn off the fan up here… he thinks he has too much “energy” now.

Woo (working on his word play): Chelsey, but talks of botoxed oxen buttocks
Archie (holding a pink lady apple): I know why they’re called ladies! Because they’re big, and ladies are big!

Ruby set up an indexing group with her Woolley cousins. She very optimistically set the goal at 1 million names for 2022. Or so she thought.

Her cousin Caleb pointed out that she’d actually set the goal for 1 billion names. We all had a good laugh about that. After consulting with Herbie, they changed the goal to 35,000.

And that’s our two weeks. Or part of it. I hope you’re all having a wonderful Christmas!