Don't get me wrong, it was a very good day. It is just that while I'm refreshed in some ways, I'm physically exhausted. I'm sitting here holding Jeff, 10:30 at night and I am ready to nod off. But Jeff is still squirming, so here I am. I just feel the need to share some of what happened today.
Quick run through the day:
Becca made breakfast this morning, chocolate muffins. They were very decadent, almost too rich to eat more than one. I think she took the basic muffin recipe and then took liberties with it, did a great job. She tried melting some chocolate chips to put on top, but burnt the first batch. Sarah helped her understand what happened and how to do it right. Becca loves cooking, has talent there. However, she's not as big of a fan of cleaning up, but then who is? Miriam was happy to help "clean up", with the result that her face was soon covered in chocolate.
So then it was bath and shower time. Normally we try to get baths and showers taken care of on Saturday so there is one less thing to worry about before Church on Sunday. However, yesterday was a big day for getting last bits of shopping done with the kids and for them to wrap presents. They are SO excited for Christmas, have put a lot of effort in getting things for their siblings and yesterday was something of a crowning moment. They were READY! The net result was a lot of things didn't happen quite like we would normally have preferred, but hey, it's Christmas and the concern they are showing for each other is fantastic. So it is time to get the kiddos clean. Or should I say it is time for me to get soaked. I mean half the time I feel like I'm the one who showered or took a bath by the time I'm done. Is it like this for other parents out there?
Sarah meanwhile has been dealing with Jeff and working on her lesson for Primary. Sarah is no longer in the Primary (children's organization) leadership, was released like 5 weeks ago, but so far has not been able to make it to Relief Society (the women's organization). She keeps filling in for Primary teachers who are sick, traveling, or dealing with family emergencies. She actually had a chance once, but then our family was felled by illness and didn't make it to Church.
Now with clean children, I marshal some of the troops to clean up the worst of the dining area and kitchen so Miriam will not undo the work of getting her clean. Of course she notices some of the delicious and messy items being moved and tries to intercept them. Some quick distraction and now we're safe.
Much of the rest of the morning is an enjoyable time reading and playing with kids. Of course my voice is starting to wear out from reading to the kids and the choir is singing in Church. This could be interesting. Hum, isn't chocolate also a no-no for people who are going to sing? In any case, the men are seriously outnumbered and though I don't make it to all the practices, I want to take part.
Ah lunch. It doesn't seem like it should be difficult to gather kids together to feed them burritos before it is time to head out the door to Church. But kids are wandering in and out, playing with whomever and by the time we're loading up the car, Rachel has only eaten a half burrito, we've had two burritos end up on the floor because I was trying to get Laura not to do something with a bit of cheese and the cheese grater with my left hand and not paying enough attention to the warm plate with the burritos in my right. This is one of the things as a parent that always strikes me as it shouldn't be difficult, should be relatively straightforward, but never is. Why is that?
Ok, loading up the kids into Beluga, we're on track to be 10 minutes early to Church. Woo hoo! But wait, we didn't fill up the van yesterday and it is getting low. Ok, grab a 5 gallon can of gas from the garage, get about 4 gallons in before the can doesn't like angles and the gas stops flowing. No problem, 4 gallons should be fine for the rest of the day. Hum, Sarah hasn't made it out of the house. Ah, the printer accidently got turned off and the computer will not talk to the printer again until the computer gets rebooted, and Sarah can't print out her lesson plan for teaching Primary. So much for being at Church 10 minutes early. I grab a USB thumb drive, copy the lesson onto it, will print it at Church. Finally, we're out the door, we're only going to be 5 minutes late to Church. Where did those 15 minutes go?
Sacrament meeting goes really well. We get there after the opening song and prayer, but before the choir has sung. I join the choir in the pause after the sacrament has been passed, while the young men are going back to sit with their families. First up are the children singing "Christmas Bells are Ringing". The pianist, Janice Roskelley, did a fantastic job of musical gymnastics staying with the children while being unable to see the conductor, whom it appears the children may not have been paying full attention to while making a joyful noise with their bells.
Then it is time for the Ward Choir to sing their first number. My brother-in-law Bryce has joined the choir in spite of only having participated in practicing half a song. Don't get me wrong, he's not a slacker, he just arrived home from college last night. However, he's in BYU Men's Chorus, so he can pretty much pick up some music and sing it. I really appreciated having him there, I'm much more comfortable when there is a strong voice next to me to let me know when I'm on the right note or not. Good stuff.
The meeting continued with some more musical numbers, the highlight for me, was Sister Gibbons singing "O Holy Night". I don't know about you, but somehow to me Christmas isn't Christmas until someone sings "O Holy Night". I bought an mp3 of someone singing it because I had a couple Christmases when it wasn't sung. I think for me it goes back to growing up and having Brother Crockett sing it while I was growing up. It is a powerful song of the life and mission of the Savior and it continues to move me.
As the meeting was getting closer to ending, I had a moment of panic. We hadn't sung "Silent Night". Was it on the program? Borrowing a program I saw that it was the closing hymn, and order was restored. For this one I blame Sister Sharon Folger singing her obbligato, a kind of melody that goes on top of the main melody of the song. I am sure the musically literate are laughing at my definition, but whatever it is, it sticks with you. So as we sang, I could hear Sharon in my head, not as good as having the original, but it was another piece of Christmas being Christmas.
Another bit of sacrament meeting fun was poor grandma and grandpa Bristow getting kids dumped on them. With me up on the stand with the choir, Jeff decided he needed to eat and then took his own sweet time. The result was mom and dad having 5 grand kids. Fortunately they had Uncle Reid and Carrie Gibson (a family friend) to offer some help. It did look like Miriam was pretty cuddly so maybe grandpa didn't suffer too much.
The rest of Church is hard to describe for me. I guess I'll just say I was struck by all these good people who are also overwhelmed and strengthened by Christmas. Good people.
Next was the rush to the Dobyns' house (a family in the ward). The have a beautiful, large, log cabin house, perfect for the Ward to get together for food and friends. The Dobyns' have a cat and 3 dogs. Miriam started out afraid of the dogs, especially since they'd bark each time a family arrived and rang the doorbell. I told Miriam the doorbell was a button to make the dogs bark and she thought that was funny and eventually warmed up to the dogs to the point that she decided to become one. Bo, their 80 pound mutt, had some difficulty at times with Miriam walking around on all fours, almost as if he wasn't sure if she was mocking them. Zipper, a smaller, very good natured dog, was very patient, though at times she seemed to say to Denise Dobyns, "Please, make her start walking normally, this is freaking me out." We did draw the line at Miriam wanting to copy Zipper by licking something off the floor.
In any case, it is now very late (1 am) and Jeff has been in bed for more than an hour (I did take a break in the middle of writing this to get ready for bed and talk with Sarah), but I just needed to get some of my joy down. Been a fantastic day, I'm exhausted, but life is wonderful. I'm so grateful for this time of year and the love Christmas brings as celebrate the life of our Savior.
-Derek, dad, whatever