Leaving Babylon Behind

We had a nice Christmas. On Christmas Eve we read the Living Christ, Luke 2, Matthew 2, 3 Nephi 1… and the kids complained that we were staying up too late, and they wanted to go to bed. 

So we were going to only sing one Christmas hymns, then two, but I think we ended up singing them all. The kids went right to sleep.

Per our Christmas tradition, during the day on Christmas Eve I wrapped all presents, but one (for each kid), and they placed them under the tree. They knew what everything was (all our usual Christmas snacks and one book for each that I’d bought over the summer, but hadn’t given out).

I tried to convince them that that was all there was. And if it weren’t for Woo, that would’ve been all there was. Woo had grabbed seven RC cars or drones or helicopters during a grocery shopping trip back in November.

The kids refused to believe me. First, I apparently try this trick every year, and also, I asked Linus for his “oh happy day” sack (I planned to throw them in sacks as soon as the kids were asleep and call it a night). So he knew something was up.

It ended up being the perfect amount of gifts and excitement. Usually it ends up being too big, even though we try to keep it down. I guess the secret is to feel completely under the mark.

Even Ruby, who got a note with her drone explaining a trade could be made, was excited about it (a complete surprise to us) and decided to keep it.

I did include a note for books from grandparents and 25€ from us (a lot of them spent some of that on rechargeable batteries). On Monday or Tuesday we got that figured out.

Ruby gave me a fuzzy hat that reminded her of Grandma Marva’s hat from the 50s (?) that I used to wear in Huntsville. She and Archie also made nice cards.

Penelope crocheted a small thing with our initial on it. To save time and material she dismantled her compass rose for four of them.

Most of the kids got each other little hot wheels cars.

Herbie and Moses additionally gave lots of service and sacrifice for their gift on Christmas Day. Herbie was especially excellent and noticeable.

Woo gave us all Christmas blessings. A tradition he started last year.

We had a baptism on the evening of Christmas Day, a primary girl turning eight.

Archie, Penelope and Linus gave the talks. Herbie held the camera to Zoom for relatives in Brasil. Penelope surprised us by singing a duet with the primary president. She sounded very nice.

We were a little afraid the baptism might be a super spreader event as it was originally announced to us as a party with like 50 people, but we were relieved that they’d followed the stake leaders’ counsel for gatherings this season.

There were about 30 people there, all wearing masks, keeping distance, and cake was handed out in little tinfoil packets to go.

We had an hour of church the next day. Moses stood up and sang a solo (The First Noel). It was very sweet.

The next morning (Monday) the kids ran off to the park with their new toys and returned looking very solemn.

Moses had flown his quadricoptor as high as it would go; he couldn’t see it. Nor could he control it anymore. It had flown from the park, over the neighborhood behind us, over our building, and fallen in the street in front of the dunes, where it was promptly run over by a car. It was totaled and a tough lesson for Moses.

We’ve done a few virtual tours. During the summer they were all done by sister missionaries. Now they’re all senior missionaries!

I personally prefer the senior missionaries. They’re all sweet, but a couple are awesome! One old guy at Liberty Jail had all the kids riveted for like 20 minutes showing nothing but a black and white line map.

We did finally get the five remaining passports. The embassy was dead and so was traffic. I guess everyone’s out and frantic before Christmas, and everyone’s relaxed and at home after Christmas.

Woo had taken Ruby, Herbie and Moses camping one night in the Pinhal over the summer, so he still owed Linus, Penelope and Archie.

Now was ideal as the weather’s been pretty nice and it’s still getting dark early. Woo asked if they’d be happy with a campfire and “late” night, as the sleeping and morning are the worst parts for him. They readily agreed.

Ruby, Herbie, Moses and I played Seafarers while they were gone. Herbie manned the youth music and all three felt like they’d been given a treat of a night too.

This will probably pain Woo a bit…

Herbie: Dad doesn’t like youth music. He likes… actually I don’t know what music Dad likes.

The others didn’t know either.

Herbie: He likes that music like he played when Ruby was a baby.

We have watched a bunch of old videos of Ruby as a baby in honor of her birthday. A couple have music playing in the background that Woo and I know, but the kids have no idea.

Sometimes Moses mixes up his name meanings.

Moses (about to win Seafarers): Yes! Israel!! Destruction is eminent!!!!

The three younger kids and Woo came home about 8:30PM. Linus, Penelope and Archie were all elated and smelled strongly of campfire and hotdogs.

Woo: I told scary stories about giant balloons popping (for Archie), and big, scary dogs (for Linus), but I didn’t have anything for Penelope. Nothing scares Penelope. Well, except H-E-double hockey stick. That scares Penelope. I tried to incorporate a little of that into my scary stories…

Woo got this as reward for his efforts.

“Good thing I wore two pants, Dad.”


“Because I peed my pants.”

We’ve been doing some cleaning. We found an old keyboard of Ruby’s in a closet that we handed to Penelope. She’s really loved it, figuring out all sorts of songs. She said yesterday that it was her favorite Christmas present.

One post Christmas order came in and we got a book shelf! All these books were previously living on the floor.

We’ve had some really nice family scripture studies lately in the book of Ether.

Arguing over chairs is a problem before scriptures for Herbie, Moses and Linus and sometimes Archie.

During one discussion, Linus surprised me by offering to give up his chair and sit on the floor. I never would’ve dreamed he do that.

The next day Moses, Linus and Herbie worked out a system themselves that they’re happy with and Moses happily sacrificed for a day or two until the system comes into effect.

We ordered glasses for Linus and Penelope before school started, but customs laws changed within the last year and the back up there has become even worse.

We learned their glasses had been sent back about a month ago (?). I looked for another online place that would sell discount glasses, but all of them were coming from outside the EU, so I never made any orders.

This week we finally just went to the optometrist and ordered them glasses. They cost six times as much, but they’ll be here next week.

Covid cases are extremely high and growing. Deaths are not exorbitant, and there are currently no plans to close schools… we’ll see…

We’ve had a tough morning today. Hopefully, we can keep everyone happy if we’re locked down again.

Herbie, Moses and Linus will be ordained this week. Linus is super excited to pass the sacrament and even more excited to do baptisms in the temple.

Herbie has been counting down the days until he can perform baptisms in the temple.

He wanted to baptize Linus, but so did Woo. I think it’s been agreed that Woo will baptize Linus and Herbie will baptize Woo.

And I think that’s our week! Happy New Years!