Live Nativity Oakland

Photo and text by Gabrielle. We saw the Live Nativity on Friday. Here’s the schedule if you want to check out it. There are a ton of Christmas events at Temple Hill — music, lights, etc. And it’s all free.

Here’s December’s installment of random thoughts just for you. Feel free to share your own random thoughts in the comments!

1) Some of the seminary students that come to our house in the mornings brought us a package of Abuelita. Have you tried it? It’s these hard disks of chocolate that you dissolve in hot milk or water to make hot cocoa. I mentioned this in the comments on the Hot Cocoa Bar post, but wanted to mention it here (because I know not everyone reads the comments), also, because I’m a little bit obsessed. It’s made by Nestlé and I can find it at my regular grocery store, so it’s nothing too out of the ordinary, but I had never heard of it until a couple of months ago.

Fun fact: my favorite hot cocoa mix in France was also made by Nestlé. Apparently they have my number as far as hot cocoa goes. Hah!

2) I’m thinking of sickness and the holidays. Little June has had a cold. She stayed home from church on Sunday and missed school on Monday and Tuesday. Nothing serious — she’s back in school today. But I can see the whole family is on the edge of it. Scratchy throats, sniffles. Life gets so busy and intense in December. We don’t end up getting enough sleep, and we eat too much junk. I feel like we’re all holding on, trying our best to stay healthy before the holiday hits. Because being sick on Christmas is the worst!

One of my early memories is Christmas at age 5. We had recently moved from California to St. George, Utah and I was super sick that year. I remember being on my parents bed and hearing everyone celebrating in the family room, and being too sick to join in. Poor little 5-year-old me.

Last year, we all made it through Christmas Day feeling healthy. But between Christmas and New Year’s we had a family retreat up in Russian River and we all got sick. But it turned out okay because the only thing on our schedule was watching movies anyway. : )

All that to say, I hope all of you reading are feeling strong and healthy!

3) Ben Blair wrote a series of 12 Advent Meditations, and he has been sharing them on his Facebook page. Today is day twelve. I’ve really enjoyed them and they’ve prompted good discussions in the comments. The posts aren’t public, but if you’d like to read them, you can ping him on Facebook and I’m sure he’ll share with you.

4) I had a huge wassail craving this week, and we made a big batch on Monday. I make it every December, though some years, it’s only for our Christmas Eve celebrations. For a decade or so, I followed my mother’s recipe, but these days I just wing it. I start with a carton of apple juice, then squeeze in the juice and pulp of 2 or 3 oranges and one lemon. Then I add wintery spices — cinnamon sticks, whole cloves, allspice, etc., and let the whole thing simmer. Do you ever make wassail? What’s your version like?

5) My mom is coming this Friday, and staying through the weekend! It’s a last minute trip and we’re so glad we get to see her before Christmas. It should be lots of fun. We’re all headed to the new Star Wars movie on Friday night (are there any lucky ducks going on Thursday?!), and there are good family events she’ll get attend, like Maude’s Cross Country team banquet.

6) Three of my kids are reading or re-reading all the Harry Potter books. Betty, Oscar and Olive. I can’t tell you how fun it is to see them on the sofa, curled up with the books and caught up in the adventure. Olive is on book 7, so she’s almost done. Oscar is on book 5 (Umbridge is the worst!!), Betty is on book 4. Our life right now is peppered with lots of Harry Potter discussions.

7) Probably the biggest thing on my mind: last month, just before Thanksgiving, we bought plane tickets for France!! Oh my goodness. I can’t tell you how excited I am. Ralph, Olive and Ben Blair have all been back to France since we moved, but the rest of us have not. We can not wait for this trip!! I feel like we all get a twinkle in our eye whenever we talk about it.

We’re going to spend the summer there. We head out on June 20th and return on August 20th. We’ve never bought tickets this far in advance — it’s hard to commit this far ahead, knowing we’ll miss some summer plans that come up. But on the other hand, it’s really nice to know it’s officially on the calendar so that we can plan around it. And the best part is that we got a total deal on tickets since we bought them so far ahead.

All of the kids passports expire soon, so the next step is getting photos for renewals. Woo hoo!

8) On Monday I turned forty-one-and-a-half. I didn’t feel much physical change at 40, but I have felt some since I turned 41. I won’t talk much about it now, but it’s on my mind and I want to write a post on this. I feel like I age in spurts. Like I look the same for years and then suddenly age over a weekend. Forty-one seems to one of my aging spurts. More on that later.

I think that’s it for today. Please feel free to respond to anything here, or bring up your own topic. I always love hearing what’s on your minds!

 P.S. — I post my random thoughts each month. You can find them all here.