Friday, December 25, 2015

Christmas Letter 2015

Family and Friends,

2015 started off with a bang, or maybe more appropriately said, a clog.  After unsuccessfully using the snake to clear the boys’ toilet Lisa tried Siri’s help but she didn’t respond under water (the editor says that was an entirely different incident, but the iPhone ended up in a bag of rice and then at the repair shop).  Eventually we called in a professional who found a Hans figurine (from Frozen) playing with Pokemon cards.  As reward for their creativity the boys split the plumber’s bill. 

The Easton Life can pretty well be summed up by a recent episode at Taco Bell…
But first a little background.  Having just enjoyed Thanksgiving in semi-camping mode with my parents on their mission to an LDS church camp near the Olympic Peninsula in Washington, we were in the midst of an 11 hour trek home.  The temperature outside was well below freezing but my temperature was rising as the road conditions worsened and the bickering picked up.  Nearing the metropolis of Pendleton, OR, Lisa and I covertly discussed our dining options: KFC, Taco Bell, and…that’s about it.  Lisa wanted Taco Bell but didn’t want to stop at two places as we had done at lunch time, and didn’t want to tell the kids until we arrived so as to minimize the opportunity for complaint.  11 months into the year it was time for her to finally get her way.  In typical fashion I only heard part of what she said (due to the noise in the car…) and quickly announced to the kids we would be eating at Taco Bell in about 7 minutes.  You’d have thought I had ordered them to skip dinner and walk the remaining 200 miles home barefoot through the snow.  I marched the kids into the restaurant after forcing them to put shoes on. 

After finding refried beans on his nachos (that weren’t visible in the picture on the menu so he claims), Andrew declared, “Goodbye. I'm never coming back again,” and walked out the restaurant door in his short sleeves.  Let the rest of us eat in peace.  Natali’s taco didn’t have tomatoes on it like she expected (menu pictures be darned) and tasted like it had beans.  Mack confirmed that it was just taco meat but she wasn’t convinced—later I learned she had hoarded the leftover rolls sent home by Grandma but I foiled her plan by forcing her to share the remaining rolls.  Mack just wanted a slushy but I was in “absolutely not” mode by then.  Where do we turn for peace?  Emily.  When I turned to her she started singing, “Pink fluffy unicorns dancing on rainbows!”  I have no idea where she learned that, but it was most definitely the appropriate time to sing it. Kate has matured to the point where she ate quietly without complaint, knowing that good behavior increased the odds of being promoted from the back row to the middle when the drive continued.  Apparently I forgot to order anything for Lily but she happily cleaned up the left-overs. Picking a restaurant is almost as traumatic for a family of 8 as picking which movie to watch in the car.  Definitely 1st world problems we tell our kids.

Natali (13) loves telling everyone that she is now taller than her mother, learned not to put her contacts in at the kitchen table when she lost one the first day as the cat rubbed up against her, earned awards for Spanish and Language Arts, ended the cross country season with a personal best in the mile and a half and is getting excited to have her braces removed in a few weeks. 

Mack (12) missed 23 days of school and still managed to get a single A (the rest were A+), came home early from a scout camp out when we learned he was allergic to amoxicillin—the rash covered nearly his entire body, went with me to the BYU vs. Michigan game at the Big House, ran cross country, played soccer & basketball.

Andrew’s (10) feud with the bus driver ended when the driver was transferred to a different route, but not before things escalated to the point where we fielded a call from the principal about a comment Andrew reportedly made on the bus—the note sent home with Andrew from the principal may have been found ripped in shreds and buried in our neighborhood…continues to complain about only going to Yellowstone once this year, likes to play MASH with Lisa.

Kate (8) was baptized in June, got lost one evening after school and had Greg combing the neighborhood only to find her 30 minutes later asleep on the floor between the couch and foot rest…saved her best for last by scoring her only goals of the soccer season in the final game (she may or may not have been bribed to actually kick the ball—maybe we should have tried that sooner). 

Emily (5) misses her quiet time with Lisa when she goes to Kindergarten but loves learning to read.  Saw another moose on Uncle Tom’s property.  Absolutely refuses to eat fruits or vegetables other than dried coconut, but when that’s the worst thing you can say about a child she must be a gem. 

Lily (2) told Lisa the Monday after Halloween, “Let’s go trick or treating again now.”  After a single exhausting day of tears, frustration, and puddles, Lily was officially potty-trained and our home is diaper free!  Got so tired of insisting “I not Bob” when Mack nicknamed her after the Minion that she decided it was fun to be called Bob and began calling her brothers Kevin and Stewart (I probably need to watch The Minions to understand my kids, but I’m afraid it would be obvious that I’m the Evil Master).  It is easy to forget that she is supposedly in the Terrible Twos!

Lisa (35) learned how to bottle pickles after discovering that it doesn’t take a green thumb to grow a bazillion cucumbers.  In discussion with the kids about dating standards she misread a phrase as “compassionate kissing” which explains a lot of things. She will miss her parents greatly as they spend the next 18 months on a mission to England but is excited for them.  Ultimately she enjoyed her involuntary alone (without the kids at least) time while serving on a jury while I was out of town for work.

Greg (37) let an entire year slip by with no new mammal sightings or countries (unless you count living with a teenager on either account). It really isn’t that bad, yet…Swam across the Owhyee River in March looking for Oregonian Crocodiles, failed to rent a car with an expired driver’s license on a business trip, and had a father’s compensation claim from picking a sleeping child off the floor—must be getting old. 

Best books of the year—Happiness is a Serious Problem, The Boys in the Boat, Lying

It is a sad irony that during a season meant to turn our hearts to the Savior, the world pushes our focus to material things.  The difference between holidays and Holy Days has never been greater.  We are too busy to feel the Spirit.  Truly as prophesied in Daniel 7:25, Satan seeks, “to wear out the saints of the most high.”  Like those in the time of the prophet Ether, we “fight all day and conquer not.”  We cannot conquer on our own. But fortunately as Isaiah wrote, “unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given, and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.”  He, the only one who can save us, will not cease to call after each of us.  I feel a greater need for a Savior, perhaps you feel the same.  

Merry Christmas, The Eastons (Greg, Lisa, Natali, Mack, Andrew, Kate, Emily, and Lily)

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