Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Making Christmas

On Saturday morning Daddy went to Brother Brown's house to do some repairs on the swing set we'll be giving the kids tomorrow. Brother Brown was already hard at work when Andrew arrived. They worked on it together for a couple of hours. It's nice to know someone so knowledgable about fix-it stuff!

Brother Brown reminds me of Ron Swanson (only slightly more liberal and far less anti-social—he's even got the mustache). I don't think there exists a thing in the world that he couldn't fix!

While Daddy was off working on the swing set, we were at home lazing around. Rachel was coming down with whatever Benjamin's just getting over so she wasn't feeling too great. Miriam wanted to go to the playground but Rachel just wanted to stay home. She appeased her younger siblings by breaking out the face paints.

She turned Benjamin into Elmo:

Miriam asked to be Angelina Ballerina:

Miriam ended up covered with artwork from head to toe. Rachel drew a finger family on her hand and Miriam decorated her legs with a picture of a candy cane and a bunch of flowers. She drew a necklace on herself (that looked really creepy) and some other stuff as well.

Rachel just drew a little doodle on her hand (I can't remember what).

We also put up our tree. Rachel didn't even finish decorating before she quit to rest on the couch and watch everyone else finish the task.

We didn't even get out the glass ornaments this year, which was probably wise, though Benjamin has learned surprisingly fast that he's not supposed to touch the tree (that doesn't mean he hasn't destroying any ornaments or anything because he has). Whenever we remind him not to touch the tree he quickly puts his hands behind his back. I think it's adorable.

The presents have been residing on top of our TV cabinet. Without thinking things through, Andrew moved the cabinet so he could plug in the Christmas lights. It wasn't until we were getting ready to move the cabinet back that we realized how precarious the situation had gotten. The presents had been resting against the wall so when we moved the cabinet they began to fall. Fortunately it was only a near crisis and nothing actually fell.

You can kind of see the nativity that Rachel set up on the bottom shelf there. She set Mary, Joseph, and the baby Jesus inside the stable and everyone else is crowding around to get a peep at the Savior which means that all we see are the backs of the wise men and shepherds and angels and animals.

When my sister Josie was Rachel's age she used to set the nativity up like this and it annoyed me because I felt the nativity should be set up in an artistic, balanced fashion showing levels and movement and so forth (I was such an enlightened teenager). I would always move the pieces back to where they "should be," with the wise men trying to find their way, while the shepherds worshiped at the manger-side with Mary and Joseph. Josie would always move all the pieces back in a small circle around the baby Jesus. Then I'd move them apart again. Then she'd move them closer together again.

One day I voiced my frustration to my mom. Josie was doing it wrong. She was making our nativity look cluttered and weird. It should look graceful and regal.

I was surprised when my mom said it didn't bother her at all to have all the pieces of the nativity clustered in a tight knot around that tiny miracle. I couldn't believe it. We'd dedicated an entire surface area to this display and ended up using a few square inches. And we couldn't even see all the characters of the story because their backs were turned to us. We couldn't admire the baby Jesus because we were giving that privilege to the porcelain figurines.

It was really annoying then. But I get it now.

Because of course everyone is crowing around to witness this miracle. Where else would they be?

If I was a shepherd and I had the chance to either be beside the manger or out on the hillside keeping watch over my flocks by night I would choose to be right there in the stable.

If I was a wise man and I had the opportunity to be right there with the Lord rather than wandering around trying to find him, I'd choose to be there.

Perhaps the original players in the story didn't have a choice. Some shepherds made it to the stable, some did not (read this story by my cousin's sweet wife), the wise men had to wait for years to find the Christ child. But I think if they could have chosen anything they all would have chosen to be there.

I would have chosen to be there. I think Rachel would choose it too, and that's why she gives all the characters a spot beside the manger.

Besides, I have another nativity set that I get to arrange the way I want it...which is still spread out on a dedicated surface so you can see all the characters.

Anyway, Miriam found Andrew's sunglasses on Saturday night and tried them on.

When I asked her to put them away so they wouldn't get broken she found the kid sunglasses and she and Benjamin had fun wearing them around the house.

It's a good thing we got a cute "Christmas Sunday" picture of the kids last week because this week Rachel and Andrew skipped church. Rachel threw up four times between Saturday night and Sunday morning. Thankfully the illness was short-lived in her system and she was feeling better enough on Monday morning to run around in the rain with Benjamin.

It has been so warm. Today the temperature dropped down into the thirties but earlier this week we were anywhere between 60 and 80°F! We enjoyed every minute we could, even with the rain!

We did have some inside craft time (with the windows thrown wide open), however, since Miriam didn't want to get wet (again...I think she went out in the rain the first time but didn't want to the second time).

We strung beads on pipe cleaners to make candy canes and wreaths and made snowflakes out of popsicle sticks.

Benjamin's candy cane took him  forever to make but he sure was proud of it.

Here's what Benjamin looked like after dinner on Monday night. He really enjoyed himself. And you can see why I missed cleaning his ears—they didn't really seem like a trouble spot at the time I was cleaning him.

That brings us to today.

This morning we watched Home Alone and made sugar cookies and Benjamin and Miriam pounded on the bathroom door while Rachel was inside for some reason (the pounding went on for a long time (as did a lot of screaming and door slamming...but everyone seemed to be having an good time)). Benjamin had a major saggy diaper. It wasn't full, just saggy.

We made enough sugar cookies to take to our friends that afternoon. The kids and I went over for a visit while Daddy and Brother Brown and a few other people set up the swing set in the backyard.

I think the kids all had fun playing with each other. When you don't have cousins around to play with on the holidays a good friend is the next best thing. We're so grateful for the good friends we have here!

Once home, we hurried to finish making the rest of the cookies to take to dinner. We celebrated Christmas Eve with the Rogersons again this year (as well as a couple other small families in the ward). Andrew and Brother Rogerson are in the same department at Duke and are collaborating on a paper (that they'll be presenting at a conference next month).

My favourite part of the evening is singing Christmas songs together. The more voices the merrier.

Brother Brown came over to deliver some Christmas presents soon after we arrived home. He brought the girls some more dress ups (a Rapunzel costume for Rachel and a Belle costume for Miriam (or to share)) and a little toy barnyard for Benjamin. He also brought over a tent/tunnel system.

The girls have been wanting to camp out in their bedroom for quite some time so tonight they were excited to each get their own little tent to sleep in. They only fell asleep like twenty minutes ago...but maybe that means they'll sleep in tomorrow morning. One can only hope.

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