In the beginning of December we had a barrage of end-of-semester activities going on, including a few strings concerts, a 2nd grade music concert, a piano recital and a few class parties. I'm not sure how, but I got roped into being "class mom" again this year for Owen and Ellie's classes. I swore I was going to take a break since I've been a class mom every year for nearly a decade, but then when no one else volunteered, I discovered that apparently I'm a sucker for unanswered pleas for help of the email variety. Ah well. What can you do? In the end, I'm happy to be there with the kids because it makes them feel special and I get a moment to remember how fast it all flies by. Anyway, after the school was finished, we had a church party, and then prepared the house for Abuela and Abuelo to come. They arrived on the 17th, the same day that our youngest, Ellie was baptized. We flew from the airport to our apartment, had a quick lunch, and then headed straight for the church.
Her baptism was beautiful with so much support from our little church family. Ellie has really grown up this year. It's a testimony to me that eight is such a great age for baptism. I felt like she really understood the promises she was making. A few days later our entire family boarded a little plane and flew to the island of Palawan. From there we took a bus to Honda Bay, and then a boat to a beautifully secluded island called Arraceffi (Dos Palmas) where we stayed a few nights. It was absolutely gorgeous. We were able to bike around the island, kayak in the ocean, swim, snorkel, eat lots of food and just relax. We hadn't been to a beach since Rio, so it was especially nice. (Apart from the Jellyfish, but you'll have to ask Logan and Dan about that.)
We returned home a few days before Christmas with just enough time to visit Intramuras and the St. Agustin Cathedral there before the big day. It was so nice (even though the drive made me want to throw myself out of the car from carsickness) to walk around and see the almost five-hundred-year-old church that reminded us all of a scene out of Harry Potter.
The kids loved Christmas Eve and Christmas morning. We did our usual gingerbread houses with graham crackers (who has time to bake gingerbread, honestly?!) and opened one present from Grandma and Grandpa Braithwaite on Christmas Eve. The kids get pajamas from them every year. After that we read the Christmas story from the bible and put out milk and cookies. We ended the evening by watching our favorite Christmas movie, "Polar Express". Santa came and brought plenty of toys for everyone which we drug ourselves out of bed to open before heading off bright and early to church. (Our service still had the 9 a.m. time-slot on Christmas, darn it.) I think everyone got something they'd hoped for. Dan's favorite gift was a wood-carved chess set his awesome wife searched months for, mine was a pile of board games signifying that I have a husband who loves me enough to play them with me even though they aren't his favorite thing, Logan got the headphones he's been dreaming of, Linc got a fun set of 'Snoopy Comics' (he loves comics!) and a robot he can program and command, Owen's favorite gift, surprisingly, was a little Pokémon watch that Dan and I purchased as an after-thought and Ellie got a new hard-cased, purple travel suitcase that she has rolled around the house on like it were a scooter for weeks.
Abuela and Abuelo's trip had an unexpected extension when a Christmas typhoon that never reached it's fully predicted potential blew in and delayed their flight. Soooo, we went to the Mind Museum for one of the days and spent the other trying to re-book their flights while facing incredible resistance from their annoying airline.
Dan and I celebrated out 15th anniversary on the 29th which was incredibly special. He gave me some gorgeous Filipino pearls and I made a video of our family over the past fifteen years for him that I'll try to post later if it will let me.
All in all, everything worked out well and I'd say December was a lot of fun. I tried my hardest to chill and relax and not get caught up in trying to do more than I needed to. We had a lot of opportunities to serve others and "Light the World" (something that is very easy to do in Manila) so it was just beautiful. I'll end the post now with my many, many, pictures and wish everyone out there a very happy New Year!!