With a sick baby being watched by aunts and uncles, our 12th anniversary celebration was short and sweet (just dinner and walk around the temple we were married in). But I guess that is pretty much the stage of life we are in.
It’s good to be able to look back on years gone by and exciting to look forward to the ones to come.
We spent Christmas in Utah for the first time since I was pregnant with Simon. So it’s been a minute. Several of my siblings have gotten married and had kids, we’ve had more kids, my parents have remodeled parts of their house. A lot has changed.
And we tried to make the most of it. With a few kids that are out of diapers and game to try new things, we thought we’d go skiing. (It was my first time too.) It was a pretty great success (though two of our kids might tell you otherwise). It turns out that Oliver is a natural born ski bum and couldn’t get enough of the bunny hill. All the kids worked hard and didn’t complain a bit. They all said it was a lot of fun (though some changed their story later on).
We took family pictures in the freezing cold.
Baked up delicious spread of pies (salted honey, mincemeat, and cherry almond).
Saw the lights on Temple Square—despite the rain.
Got caught under the mistletoe.
And posed in front of the tree on Christmas morning.
Not pictured: We suffered through couple of illness, including the worst case of conjunctivitis I’ve ever seen; stayed up much too late chatting; watched some football; visited with friends;
When there are 20+ people who need parts in the nativity performance, you sometimes have to just go with things. Like a lion and a bear/cow who showed up with the shepherds to worship baby Jesus. Or maybe adding a chief priest and scribe to counsel with Herod after the wise men/women came to call. Or including a “multitude” of the heavenly hosts with the heralding angel.
And with so many babies . . . well, one of the lambs had to step into the role of baby Jesus when the lead got a little cranky.
But rest assured, good times were had by all. It was a performance for the ages for sure.
It seems as though Elsa doesn’t remember much from her last time in the air a year and a half ago. Either that or she is newly aware of words and the opportunity to understand what the heck is happening.
She and I went over the safety pamphlet a couple of times before takeoff, and then she spent quite a while studying it on her own as well. On the return trip she pulled it out right away for a review and to remind me how I would hold Felix while tucking under as much as possible during a crash landing. (Nothing like having kids to make you feel brave/scared to pieces at the same time.)
We took the red eye home and Oliver and Elsa (who were sitting on my side of the aisle, while Simon and Micah were on the other side and Felix was shuttled back and forth from side to side) were thrilled by the “seat dreams” pack sitting on their seats. The earplugs were pretty much unusable in their little ears, but they tried anyway. The big hit was the eye mask, which made for a pretty good photo op.
Seeing these kids discover the world over and over and be so excited about it is pretty much the best. If only we could all maintain that level of wide-eyed wonder about the world.
During December I pretty much put all my other projects (writing, podcasting) on hold and just do Christmas. It seems like a couple of nights a week we have activities out on the town (seeing the window displays in the city, delivering cookies, going to various Christmas tree lightings), and if we are not out late (and even if we are) I usually have some ridiculous project I am making for gifts. (Micah too.)
This year I made 10 rag dolls for some of my nieces and nephews. I sent them off with various materials so they could make them up as one of their ancestors (as a family history project) or as themselves, if they so choose.
I also made the most bespoke slippers for the kids that you have ever seen.
These babies went through several design iterations before I finally settled/figured out how they would actually work, and then I was up until after 2:00am on Christmas morning putting them together. They weren’t entirely finished then, but the kids seemed not to mind.
Micah made some lovely teething rings for Felix (though Elsa claims credit for the idea), and the kids had their own projects for each other as well. Elsa made keychains out of pony beads (Weedle the Pokemon for Oliver, a snitch for Simon). Oliver wrote a story about birds of paradise and tigers and made puppets with which to act it out. And Simon made these mix-n-match coloring book for Oliver and Elsa. Oliver’s is Pokemon themed, Elsa’s is cats.
While it does make things a little crazy, I really do like having things to make. It feels like a little bit of a rebellion against the commercialization of Christmas, a little more handmade and heartfelt.
I’m going to be honest: I don’t really know why baby’s first Christmas is supposed to be so special. Unless the baby is brand new and it feels like Christmas just to have him—I get that. Not being pregnant any more, having a new baby, that does feel a little bit like Christmas. But when he is a rug rat crawling around and causing destruction and putting every little thing on the floor into his mouth . . . not so much fun. Constant vigilance is the key to the season.
But having said that, I do appreciate this “baby’s first Christmas” photo with Santa at our ward party. It is for sure not the magical Santaland that most people go to at Macy’s, but I just love that Felix seems so skeptical of this “Santa” person, rather than exploding into tears like most babies I’ve seen.
“Ugly” is for sure in the eye of the beholder. I mean, who could look at these kids in these sweaters and wrinkle their noses?
The thing is, there is a lady in our ward who knits and knits and knits these sweaters and while they are not super stylish, they are for sure amazing. And a little quirky. She gives them to the bishop to distribute among the needy, and apparently there aren’t very many people who will take them. But when they were laid out in the bishop’s office during tithing settlement, our kids got heart eyes and they each came home with one.
The next week I came home with a whole bag of new ones that I now need to find a home for—preferably at a homeless shelter—though I am strongly tempted to pick my favorites. They are just quirky and square enough to be cool in my book.
Oliver has even worn his to school a couple of times and his teacher loved it so much she had to take him around to other classes under the guise of helping her deliver things to other teachers so she could show them the absolute fabulousness of his sweater.
Makes me so happy.
And not to be outdone by his kids—or anyone else—Micah went to town making the “ugliest” sweater for his office ugly sweater contest. I’ve been told the contest was close until Micah unbuttoned his sweater and pulled candy canes out from the inside to give to voters. He won handily and it was pretty much the first/only thing anyone wanted to talk to him about at the company party later that night.