1. Right before Thanksgiving Meredith informed me her boyfriend lives in Kansas so we could visit him when we went to Wichita for Thanksgiving. I'm not sure where she learned about boyfriends and girlfriends, but she did follow up that statement with "I have to ask you before I get married to anyone" so we're making progress. When I asked what this boy's name is, her response was "He-guy". Apparently he is He-man's brother. So it looks like I'll have a run for my money when he comes calling.
2. Drake is now walking. And he likes to wrestle other little kids, who don't exactly know how to take it. Fortunately, every other kid his age has been walking for 3 months now so he can't keep up with them. He has learned to stalk, however. He almost caught my cousin Chloe (yes, I have several dozen cousins who are the same age as my son) by distracting her, using some toys as a lure, then pouncing as soon as she got close enough.
3. We saw this road sign on our way back from Colorado. It gave us some nostalgia for South Africa, as this seems like something you would see there. Although in fairness to South Africa, they wouldn't do this because it would never work there. If they put a sign up like this around Welkom, it would soon become part of someone's house. Right after moving into the building for The Pines our co-workers took down an old Harmony Gold Company sign and took it to the dump. A few weeks later while driving by the township they noticed the same sign was the wall to someone's dwelling. Doesn't it just seem like if you are going to go to the trouble of posting this sign, couldn't you just drop some asphalt into that pothole.
4. Take a close look at those names on the two stockings on the left. Apparently, Amber has developed this strategy that the more snares she sets the more loot she'll bring in. That, or she is so favored that she needs two red furry socks just to haul it all in. Just another lesson that women will do whatever it takes...
5. While we are talking about the holidays, let me share our experience with you. Since we were in Africa last Christmas, and it looks like we'll be in Africa for many Christmas' to come (especially after this weather, eesh!), the entire Frank & Maggie O'Tool family gathered at the homestead in Carroll. And then everyone proceeded to get sick. Meredith, Drake & Caleb were all suffering during family pictures, and from the photo at left you can see Meredith continued to suffer through gift-opening time. Amber & I had a presentation scheduled at Pleasant Ridge church, so we prayed hard. Unfortunately, I didn't think through the whole process clearly. I prayed that the Lord would keep me from getting sick at least until we were done speaking. And that's just what He did. Ironically enough, the pastor preached on Prevailing Prayer. Next time I am praying that I won't get sick at all.
6. So we arrive in Carroll to find my brother Timothy hanging the family stockings. He must be in cahoots with Amber, because he is anticipating some pretty heavy duty stocking stuffers. You can see that he's using a 27 oz. hammer to drive spikes into these pretty socks. You don't want them falling off the mantle (or wall in this case) if someone decides to start dropping gold bricks in there on Christmas Eve. And the safety glasses are good thinking. Safety First in the O'Tool family.
7. Here is a picture of the family Christmas tree. It's kind of spindly-looking, I know. But our sister-in-law is the type to know about these things and she says that those cost double or triple what a normal tree costs. I thought it looked very Charles Dickens-y, as if Tiny Tim might wobble out from behind it at any moment while Bob Cratchet does Ebeneezer's laundry in the kettle. My brothers nicknamed it the "Recession Tree".
8. Meredith got to help Grandma Maggie make presents for her cousins. Although since Grandma Maggie hwears bifocals, and Meredith is threading the needle, we're not sure who is helping whom.
9. When the O'Tool & Stangl families, or anyone on the Wiedemeier side gets together, it's tough to find real estate at the dinner table.