Well, Christmas Day is behind us. Here a picture of the living room after most of the wrapping paper was cleaned up. I think this was our best Christmas ever. That's what Beth said, anyway. No one complained or cried or said we got the wrong thing! Jacob, Katie and Daniel each sacrificed some of their own funds (including precious EFY savings) to buy some special things for Rich and I, including a homemade apron for me and pillow case for Rich, soft mint balls and money for a box of Sees Candy. There were dinner leftovers from Christmas Eve. I got new slippers and my own box of Andes mints. What could be better than that?! I just wanted to jot down some Christmas 2008 memories that really make me laugh. If you don't feel like reading them all, at least read #4. It is the funniest and just about our most embarrassing moment ever.
1) I don't know what happened but we really struggled with our Christmas lights this year. I am sure that the neighbors wondered what happened, too. Whenever it would rain, something would short out and half of the lights would turn off. It has been raining a lot, so I think half of our lights were off 75% of the time. When we would go outside and fix the problem by resetting the blown fuse, usually in the middle of the next day, the timer would still be set for the night before. So the rest of the time, those half lights would be on during the day. The other problem is that the wind kept blowing out bits of lights, so that even when it wasn't raining and they were all on, little portions were out here and there, as is visible in the picture below. In addition, we had this rogue strand on the Christmas tree, just along the bottom, that was blinking without a blinker. We could only get it to stop by unplugging the lights (which Anna did over and over anyway just for fun.) I think this is symbolic of our life.
2) Children are very good at guessing gifts at our house. One year, Jacob guessed every single one of his presents. I like surprises, so after that we started a tradition of putting the names of different candy bars rather than children on the presents so they don't know which gifts are for which person. Then, on Christmas morning, the children find out which presents are theirs by which candy bar is in their stocking. This year, Daniel had the candy bars matched up to people by the first day, but we kept telling little Christmas "white lies" to keep him guessing. We really had him curious. One time, we found him laying next to our bed in the dark as we were talking in bed. He said he was waiting to sneak out and look at the presents after we were asleep, but I think it also served as a chance to gather information. We also found a present partly unwrapped. Daniel says he didn't do it. Another time, we found him trying to peek in the wrapping of a new present. You know, typical 12 year old boy stuff. So on Christmas Eve, as we were just ready to head to bed after getting things all set, we hear a noise and find Daniel hiding at the top of the stairs, waiting to take a look at everything after we go to bed. At that point, I laughingly sent him back downstairs, declaring that he better not come back up until morning. But I didn't want to chance it. So we set up a barricade to block the two entrances to the living room. I have recreated them and am including a picture below. They were gone when we got up, but I am not sure if he removed them at night or in the morning. It helped me to sleep a little better, anyway!
3) iPods have been a big item in our home lately and each of the three big kids got iPod accessory items for Christmas. Thanks to this, we opened presents while listening to David Archuleta.
4) Our dishwasher broke just a couple of days before Christmas. Christmas Eve, when we had large group for dinner, we used paper plates but also had quite an assembly line. We washed all of the big dishes in about 15 minutes. I have been threatening not to replace the dishwasher in order to provide more work for our children. They don't like that idea. Here is a picture of Katie washing dishes and Daniel rinsing. You can only Katie's hands and Daniel's head because none of the older children wanted to be caught on camera in their pajamas. We get a new dishwasher on Monday!
4) On December 23, we were out running errands in the Christmas shopping mayhem. We had taken the 15 passenger van with Anna's carseat so that we could bring her along, hoping she would fall asleep. Sure enough, she drifted off within about 15 minutes. At the next stop, Rich waited out in the van, listening to music, while I ran in to the store. What should have been 2 or 3 minutes became 10 or 15 minutes because of the holiday rush. When I came back out, the van battery was dead. The car battery charger in the back was also dead. I didn't have my purse, and Anna had taken Rich's AAA card out of his wallet and lost it. We did not have the AC cord for the plug on the battery charger, so we couldn't take advantage of the outside outlet right near us. Rich's cell phone was dead, but I had mine. So I waited in the warm van and called home for the AAA number as Rich began to look for a shopping Good Samaritan with jumper cables. As I opened the door to give him the number, the van alarm, supposedly disconnected long ago, went off. This alarm sounds like a siren and a video arcade combined. Every time I opened the door, it went off. It must have been triggered 10 times before a kind McDonald's employee came out to give us a jump. Unfortunately, once the battery was recharged, the alarm got new life and began going off over and over. It scared the poor McDonald's employee to death. Rich couldn't find any way to turn it off, and the fuses are extremely hard to reach without tools, so we were forced to drive all the way across town to our car place with the alarm going non-stop. This took about 15 minutes in the holiday traffic. I am sure people wondered what the emergency was. We both kept saying we just needed some lights on top and people would pull over for us. When we arrived at the car shop, the manager greeted us with, "Rich, are you trying to steal that van?" Rich replied, "Just make it stop!" Fortunately, our kind repair man was able to completely disconnect the unit, promising it would never go off again. Anna slept through the whole thing!