We kicked off December with David's birthday! We celebrated by going out for a fancy birthday dinner at Fleming's in Salt Lake, and due to the food being improperly cooked, we got our whole meal for free! The lobster tail was very overdone and tough, David asked for a medium well steak and it was medium rare; my fish was only halfway cooked through...the manager came over and apologized profusely, said our bill was covered, and sent out another lobster tail for David to bring home. We should have checked the tail before we left; as it was we didn't look until we got home, and it was completely raw...we're pretty sure we're not heading back to that restaurant, where a normal tab is $200!
Then we celebrated Sunday by constructing a gingerbread chalet and gingertree.
We had a family night that Sunday talking about the plan of salvation. We talked about the idea of counterfeits (we had three examples of real things and their counterfeits), and how Satan wants to trick us with certain things about the plan. The boys were curious about the other points of the plan, and we had a little talk about the three degrees of glory. The next day after I picked Max up from school, I was working on my school and Max was quietly looking at the pieces of the plan still on the floor from family night the previous night. I realized Max was crying. He said when I die he would miss me, and didn't want to be in a kingdom without me. So I pulled him onto my lap and we had another talk about why covenants are so important to link us together so that we'll still be together as a family after we die. Max has always been a little mama's boy, and has such a sweet, big heart. He's a thinker, and puts pieces together. So it wasn't a bug surprise that he was the one thinking about what we discussed the night before, but it tugged at my mama heartstrings that he was so emotional about everything.
The boys discovered musical chairs and had fun playing while I finished up some school work.
Max got to celebrate his half birthday at school, since school won't be in session on his real birthday. He got the lead the brain exercises that morning, review the class rules, pick out a birthday twisty straw, and lead the K-pal phonics activities. He was grinning the whole day.
I finished up my big final project for my class, and packed up the boys for our "Operation Surprise Bishka" weekend trip to Virginia! Bishka had some retirement events--a lunch with coworkers and a goodbye luncheon with friends--that felt like big transition steps we could help support her through. We left presents for David to open each day we'd be gone, and left at about 5:30 Thursday morning. I'd gotten the boys a new lego set each to do in VA, and some new Piggie and Gerald books to keep them occupied on the plane rides. They finished the books before we even boarded the first plane! The rest of the flight they were content to look at the lego boxes (unopened).
We had a layover in Denver, and discovered that airport is ENORMOUS. We landed at gate B16, and had a 50 minute layover to get to gate B89...I thought we'd have plenty of time to get from gate to gate, but I think it ended up being about 2 miles apart...it took us the full 45 minutes to get from one end to another, and we didn't dawdle at all. Pace showed off his dancing skills on the walking escalators. They ended up holding the plane for us--we'd missed every boarding call. The boarding stewards did tell us they were aware the gates were so far apart, but they were glad when we showed up.
The 5am wake up call finally caught up with the boys...too bad it was as we were landing as taxiing at Dulles airport!
We had Trina pick us up at the airport and drop us off at Bishka's apartment. I thought Bishka would be at home, but as luck has surprise visits, Bishka was out running errands! Haha. So we hung out and waited for a bit until she got home. It wasn't the surprise knock not he door I'd envisioned, but we did surprise Bishka in the hallway!
Pace built his lego set right away, and explained all the Minecraft intricacies to Bishka.
We had a fun lunch with some of Bishka's former co-workers/friends. It was fun to meet everyone I'd heard so much about.
Pick Up Sticks! AKA: Future Surgeons in the Making.
Bishka sliced her finger at work with an exacto knife, and we helped her be brave at the instacare. They ended up saying it looked great, and didn't need stitches.
We played a couple amazing rounds of the headband guessing game. Max gave the best clue: it's an animal you can shear.
It was fun to get a run in the woods in Saturday morning!
We caught up with some of Bishka's good friends Saturday afternoon for a luncheon! Pace and Max found some friends that liked minecraft, so they were satisfied.
Of all the things that have changed in Northern VA (I didn't recognize the street or neighborhood I grew up in!), the Bagel Cafe--my first job at 14--was still there, completely unchanged inside and out! Next door we found Duck Donuts--a highly recommended donut experience.
The snowplow calvary called out for the 2-4 expected inches of snow. They brined the streets and had plows waiting at every major road intersection, a funny sight to those of us who are accustomed to plows not even going out on the roads until there's at least 6-8 inches of snow and the storm has totally passed.
We also ran into a Fake Santa while we were in VA. The boys were not too impressed--they knew he was "Fake".
More shenanigans with Bishka--building and bowling, checking out the woods with squirrels, going for a walk, and happy selfies.
I realized on this trip that I don't get nostalgic or sentimental about "things", I attach and connect myself to places. Although Herndon VA hasn't been my home in over 20 years, and I honestly don't think of it as "home", Dulles Airport does feel like home to me, as odd as that sounds. I have had so many pivotal passages in my life through this airport! The first time I left home, 3 weeks after graduating high school, I left for Italy from Dulles. When I tried my first BYU semester, I left from Dulles...and returned a short four months laster. When I left for Brazil to serve my mission, I left from Dulles. David and I first met each other in person after having been pen pals for 2 1/2 years, it was in the Dulles Airport baggage claim. When I left for Utah again--and unknowingly to establish it as my new home state and the state my children would say they are from--I left from Dulles. I have had countless goodbyes in front of this airport. It felt a little sad to me that this might be the last time I'd walk through Dulles airport.
We got back from our Bishka visit, and it was business as usual. David was in peak, and I went into cinnamon roll day mode. They've hired so many drivers this year, I made a record 12 dozen cinnamon rolls...David caught some action shots, at 11:30pm, I think...the boys came to help distribute since they don't have school on Fridays, and there were enough leftover that David could share some Christmas magic with some great folks on his route.
Max had his Kindergarten Christmas program, where he waved excitedly and didn't even bother mouthing any of the song words. He has informed me on multiple occasions that he "hates singing". The school also had "Ugle Christmas Sweater Day". The boys loved decorating their shirts that morning with the hot glue gun (AKA magic glue gun) and $1 gaudy walmart-section crafts; but then Pace put it on, and he didn't like how bulky it was, hence the moody face.
Max decided to write his first love note to girl who sits at his table at school, McKenna. He asked me how to draw a heart, and then proceeded to draw a bunch of his own hearts, write McKenna's name, and draw an arrow to hearts. He would smile every time he thought about bringing it to her the next day, and when I picked him up from school, he gave a sweet smile when I asked how the drop off went. After lunch he said, "I think McKenna is showing her hearts to her mom right now."
Friends of ours shared the coolest Christmas find with us--they gave us Christmas glasses, that make the christmas tree lights look like elves or snowflakes or reindeer--so cool!
We had some fun with friends as Christmas break was coming--games, outside play (we've been having 50+ degree weather!), and a fun gingerbread village day with Isabelle and Julia. Max loved eating the frosting, and both boys made giants attacking their farms--Max's village placed Mike & Ike spikes for protection, and Pace's giant decided to pee on the village.
The Saturday before Christmas David had to work, and we also needed to pick up Bishka's new car. So David dropped us off at the dealership and we crossed our fingers that everything would check out so we could drive it home. Voilá!
We FaceTimed with Mom Mom and Dad Dad! It was definitely fun to let the boys talk with everyone through amazing technology!
We decided this was the year to institute some Christmas traditions! The boys and I read about traditions all over the world, and Pace's class talked about traditions, so we picked a few we thought would be fun to do every year! Pace brought home the idea to do the pickle tree--in Germany, they hang a pickle ornament and the first to find it has good luck that year (and also is the first to open a present on Christmas morning). Max loved the "poo log"--we read about this one--celebrated in Catalonia, they find a good-sized log, decorate it with a face and hat, feed it all winter long, and on Christmas they hit it with a stick, and it poops out presents. Despite Max's giggles, we nixed this tradition submission. We did decide on Iceland's Jolabokaflod! They exchange books on Christmas Eve and stay in bed reading and eating chocolate. My friend Denhi wanted to join in on Jolabokaflod, so we exchanged books and chocolate. I made white and dark chocolate pots de creme--yum! The boys picked out their own chocolate treats, and I told them they could stay up in bed as long as they wanted, as long as they stayed in bed. I went up to peek in on them, and they were reading parts of their books to each other, and describing the pictures to each other. It was really fun to listen to. We also decided to make nutella star bread to have for breakfast on Christmas morning.
Merry Christmas! We even got a dusting of snow! And Max found the pickle! It was a fun Christmas with legos, toys, and a new-and-improved Enchanted Forest from Uncle Jon Erik! This game hasn't lost any of its magic and charm, and Pace and Max ask to play it daily.
Christmas Question Tradition:
1. What do you want to be when you grow up? A normal dad.
2. What is your favorite thing? Minecraft.
3. What are you afraid of? Falling into a giant cave.
1. What do you want to be when you grow up? A policeman.
2. What is your favorite thing? Nutella.
What are you afraid of? Falling all the way into lava.
(Their fears are referring to Minecraft, I'm fairly certain...)
We hit up Nickelmania with some neighborhood friends and had fun picking out some "made in China" prizes with the boy's tickets (it is so fun to be in the stage where they are reading for themselves--and some of their sign-reading is really funny because they don't know what it means, or emphasis is placed incorrectly).
And then the big day! We picked up Bishka from the airport and brought her home to her new apartment.
Since Enchanted Forest is such a hit, I thought i'd turn it into a family night game about baptism. I think I spent too much time on the lesson/discussion part, because the boys got really silly really fast during the game, and it didn't last very long.
So we got the wiggles out with the RC Cars and I was about to get them ready for bed when Pace asked if they could stay up. Max hit the sack around 10, I think, but Pace made it all the way to midnight, as I've been typing away!
Here's to 2018, and as David says, hopefully we'll see things in 2018 coming up Coombs's!