Christmas 2016

We started out on Christmas Eve with the play at church. Evelyn and Oliver are both in the choir, Oliver was set to be a lamb, and Evelyn was set to be Mary. What we did not expect was that Alex got conscripted to be baby Jesus (which means Sara was conscripted to play the “Innkeeper’s Wife” and help on stage). Alex is a little big to play a newborn,but was absolutely slaying the audience with his toddling around, saying, “ma ma” and playing with the hay. It didn’t hurt that Evelyn is his actual big sis, so was much more comfortable around him than the typical Mary.


Evelyn naturally nailed her big speech. That girl just has an absolute lack of stage fright, which means she is able to deliver her lines slowly and clearly in a way that most kids just can’t manage. Like, she would say it the same whether talking to me at home, or orating to 1500 people (yes, 1500 people! We always tell her she’ll probably never play to a bigger audience than the Christmas play!)

And for Oliver’s part, he was the most adorable sheep you’ve ever seen:


Vania got all three kids matching pjs and they were THE BEST. There are little t-rexes with Santa hats on them! They are the exact pajamas I would have picked out (assuming I even knew such a thing existed!)


Barb knit Alex some *adorable* hat and mitten sets:


However, those pictures don’t really give the…flavor of the experience. Alex HATED having them on. You can see above that we had to constantly bribe him with raisins to get him to leave them alone long enough for the pictures. I would say this is a more accurate representation:


In fact, Alex hated the hats so much, that after that he refused to open any more presents. He reached in, felt the tissue paper, pulled his hand back like he got burned and then just shook his head “No!” We had to open them and show him they were not hats before he would accept any gifts.

Other than that, though, Alex has a phenomenal first Christmas. He loved his car set from Santa, loved having everybody home to play with, loved all the boxes and wrapping paper, and most of all, loved the “na na” that Evelyn gave him. He hands it to you, demands, “Na na!” and then sticks his tongue out and goes “blubalubalubalub”:

Sara and I have officially been married too long, since we got each other the EXACT SAME PRESENT. Sara opened hers first, and since I wasn’t sure she would really like it I rushed to explain all the features that I thought she would like (Ceramic burr grinder! Doesn’t take up space on the counter! No batteries required!). Sara just kind of smiled and nodded through the whole thing, until Ollie said in a very confused voice, “Wait…I thought you got that for daddy?”

“It’s like Gift of the Magi!” shouted Evelyn.


I thought it was such a unique gift! I didn’t even mean to get a hand-crank one, but when I saw it I thought she would like that one better!

Finally, there was one truly enduring gift that will be remembered long after Christmas is over…

I’m talking about Ollie’s fitbit.

Ever since last year when Evelyn got one, Ollie has been pining for a fitbit of his very own. And just like when Evelyn got one he is obsessing about it every. second. of every. day. Nary a step is taken without a full reporting. He spent the entire day yesterday pacing up and down the hallway. The number of times we had to say something like, “Oliver! If you don’t sit down and eat your supper I’m going to take your fitbit away!”

Naturally, Evelyn responded in the way any big sister would: by pacing up and down the hallway behind him, making sure he doesn’t get more steps than her. Just the two of them doing loops, all day long. Luckily it was like 60 degrees for no reason, so we did get them out of the house for a bit, and Oliver managed > 20k steps for the day (and that was with going to see a movie!).

Better that than another hand-crank coffee grinder I guess.

King Me

For Christmas we received a beautiful, handmade checkerboard from my step-father Ron. It was sort of the right gift at the right time, because it’s a game that Evie was really ready for; not too difficult, but more difficult than the kids games she had been playing before.

We’ve had our ups and downs with checkers, but overall she really enjoys it. The problem is that she doesn’t really have anybody else at her skill level to play with, so playing checkers is usually just a series of humiliating defeats. I’m actually pretty impressed; I’m not sure if I would still want to play after being crushed 10 times in a row. Sometimes she needs a little break, but soon enough she’s right back at it.

Finally, the other day, she had her first win. Suddenly it was my turn to suffer a crushing defeat.




Although I had a momentary lapse in concentration which caused everything to go downhill very fast, this was a legitimate win. She beat me fair and square, and not for lack of effort on my part. Oh boy was she excited:


For someone who has experienced the agony of defeat, she sure doesn’t hold back on the gloating if she feels she’s doing a good job. A little prematurely, usually.

She hasn’t nabbed another win since that game, although she almost had Sara the other day. But she has certainly been improving, no question. She has a couple of strong tendencies that hurt her a little bit (well I’m not going to tell you what they are, I want her to get some wins), but she’s certainly mastered the main concepts.

How long should we wait before we introduce chess? 🙂

Evie’s Watch

You just never know with Christmas presents.

It is kind of a long story about how it came to be that my brother gave Evie a watch for Christmas, but suffice it to say that it was thrown in at the last minute just so that she would have something to put in her purse. The watch is huge. I very much doubt that it would fit around my wrist; it could probably fit around her waist. The face of the watch itself is the size of my fist. It’s probably twice the size of the face of my (adult) watch. It weighs about 5 pounds, and she can probably use it to work on her biceps.

So imagine everyone’s surprise when she saw it and acted like she just unwrapped the Hope diamond.

Oh man, she couldn’t have been more excited. “It’s a watch! A real watch!” She was running around showing it proudly to everyone. “If you need to know what time it is, just ask me!” It hasn’t been forgotten since Christmas either. Every night she takes it off and puts it in the bowl next to my bed where I put my watch, and every morning she gets it out and puts it back on.

She can’t tell time. The numbers are all Roman Numerals, so she probably couldn’t read it even if she could read a clock. The watch falls off if she hangs her arm down straight. The watch itself would be huge on an adult male, much less on a little girl (there’s a reason why Uncle Nathan decided to get rid of it). She couldn’t love it any more. It’s the best Christmas present she got (tied for the best with the paper dolls).

The thing is, if we knew she would like a watch so much, we could have gotten her one that was intended for a kid. Small, light, digital, perhaps with a couple of butterflies on the sides. But you never really know what’s going to be a hit, what is going to capture a kid’s imagination, and what is going to be a complete and utter failure.