Wednesday, 16 January 2019

Seth and The Table Squad

Adam doesn't understand social groups:

Seth has been very social over these school holidays. His work had an end of year work party which was at Big Splash which he went to. Since then he's spent a lot of time with his friendship group from school, the "Table Squad". The group consists of Ben, Johno, Alexis, Hannah, Maddie, Katie, Jacqui, Izzy, Claudia and Chloe ... that's an awful lot of girls :)

They've had several get togethers at people's homes, and we had them all over at our place on Monday of last week for Seth to teach them Dungeons & Dragons. They all apparently enjoyed it with the day starting about 11am, and continuing on to 10pm at night. Elissa made some Vegemite scrolls for lunch and we ordered in pizzas for dinner.

Jewel's social group has also been active with a trip down to Pine Island as well as movie get together's. Her group is a bit more more fragmented though, and while she spends a lot of time with her friend Alisha, there appears to be some friction amongst the group. This doesn't help Jewel's social anxieties of course.

Sunday, 13 January 2019

Talk - Joy to the World

Talk given by Adam in Tuggeranong Ward Sacrament Meeting, Sunday 23rd December 2018:

If we turn in the 2nd chapter of the Gospel of Luke we’ll read:
8 And there were in the same country public servants abiding in their offices, keeping watch over their computer screens by day.
9 And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
Actually, you’ll recognise this isn’t the version found in the scriptures. I think the reason being is that leading up to Christmas time we know that there are no public servants in their offices in Canberra as most of them are already down the coast or up in Queensland on holiday.

However, I’d like to draw upon the idea of the angel wishing all men joy at Christmas time. In particular, I’d like to draw upon the words of Elder Geoffrey R Holland from the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and President Russell M Nelson, the Lord’s current prophet on the earth today as they both spoke about joy.

Last month, Elder Holland was invited to speak at the Church of England’s signature Christmas service. He stated: “To be true to the complete experience [of Christmas] we must on occasion speak of Christmases—and other days in our individual and collective lives—that for whatever reason may not be as joyful or do not seem to be ‘the season to be jolly,’”.

Elder Holland spoke about that 2nd chapter in Luke, saying there is a profound Christmas message in the sign that Simeon … gave Mary when he held a weeks-old Christ child in his arms at the temple. Simeon rejoiced at the fulfillment of a promise that he would see the Messiah, but he also issued a dire “warning that this child’s life—or more specifically His death—would be like a sword piercing through His beloved mother’s soul.”

“We might well ask,” Elder Holland said, “Was such an ominous warning, such a fateful prophecy, appropriate in this season of joy? Surely such was untimely, maybe even unseemly, at that moment—that moment when the Son of God was so young and tender and safe, and His mother so thrilled with His birth and his beauty?”

Elder Holland then recalled his father’s two heart attacks during and after back surgery on December 23, 1976, exactly 42 years ago today.

He said: “By the time we finally got to see him, wired and tubed and gray and unconscious, it was mid-afternoon on December 24, Christmas Eve. ‘Magnificent timing,’ I muttered to no one in particular.”

He said he paced and prayed alone in an unfamiliar hospital as Christmas Eve turned into Christmas, feeling sorry for himself and muttering questions about why he had to lose his dad at Christmas.
Then he received what he termed a “theological wake-up call.”

“At 3 a.m. late early morning in a very quiet hospital, immersed as I was in some sorrow and self-pity, heaven sent me a small, personal, prepackaged revelation, a tiny Christmas declaration. In the midst of my mumbling about the very poor calendaring in all of this, I heard the clear, unbroken cry of a baby.”

He said the calendaring and divine grace of the timing of that birth changed his outlook. He recognized the joy that child must be in its parents’ lives. He remembered that his mother always reminded him of the joy he brought her as a Christmas baby himself.

“With new eyes then, that morning, I went back to look at my dad, the great gift-giver who was starting to make his way out of the world on Christmas Day. He was doing so on the wings of the greatest gift ever given—the Atonement and Resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. I thought of another Father who gave that gift.”

Elder Holland said Simeon’s prophecy to Mary was appropriate and important. He said all should see the meaning of Christmas the way Simeon saw it and told Joseph and Mary as they stood in the temple where they offered a sacrifice, a pair of turtledoves.

“The true meaning,” Elder Holland said, “the unique, joyous meaning of the birth of this baby was not confined to those first hours in Bethlehem but would be realized in the life He would lead and in His death, in His triumphant atoning sacrifice—remember why Joseph and Mary were in the temple—and in His prison-bursting Resurrection. These are the realities that make Christmas joyful … not in the absence of hard days and long years and swords that pierce our hearts, but because of them.”

Russel M Nelson – Oct 2016 Gen Conf – expanded on this theme, saying:
My dear brothers and sisters, the joy we feel has little to do with the circumstances of our lives and everything to do with the focus of our lives.

When the focus of our lives is on God’s plan of salvation,…, and Jesus Christ and His gospel, we can feel joy regardless of what is happening—or not happening—in our lives. Joy comes from and because of Him. He is the source of all joy. We feel it at Christmastime when we sing, “Joy to the world, the Lord is come.” And we can feel it all year round. For Latter-day Saints, Jesus Christ is joy!
That is why our missionaries leave their homes to preach His gospel. Their goal is not to increase the number of Church members. Rather, our missionaries teach and baptize to bring joy to the people of the world!

Just as the Savior offers peace that “passeth all understanding,” He also offers an intensity, depth, and breadth of joy that defy human logic or mortal comprehension. For example, it doesn’t seem possible to feel joy when your child suffers with an incurable illness or when you lose your job or when your spouse betrays you. Yet that is precisely the joy the Savior offers. His joy is constant, assuring us that our “afflictions shall be but a small moment” and be consecrated to our gain.

How, then, can we claim that joy? We can start by “looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith” “in every thought.” We can give thanks for Him in our prayers and by keeping covenants we’ve made with Him and our Heavenly Father. As our Savior becomes more and more real to us and as we plead for His joy to be given to us, our joy will increase.

Joy is powerful, and focusing on joy brings God’s power into our lives. As in all things, Jesus Christ is our ultimate exemplar, “who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross.” Think of that! In order for Him to endure the most excruciating experience ever endured on earth, our Savior focused on joy!

And what was the joy that was set before Him? Surely it included the joy of cleansing, healing, and strengthening us; the joy of paying for the sins of all who would repent; the joy of making it possible for you and me to return home—clean and worthy—to live with our Heavenly Parents and families.
If we focus on the joy that will come to us, or to those we love, what can we endure that presently seems overwhelming, painful, scary, unfair, or simply impossible?

If we look to the world and follow its formulas for happiness, we will never know joy. The unrighteous may experience any number of emotions and sensations, but they will never experience joy! Joy is a gift for the faithful. It is the gift that comes from intentionally trying to live a righteous life, as taught by Jesus Christ.

He taught us how to have joy. When we choose Heavenly Father to be our God and when we can feel the Savior’s Atonement working in our lives, we will be filled with joy. Every time we nurture our spouse and guide our children, every time we forgive someone or ask for forgiveness, we can feel joy.
Every day that you and I choose to live celestial laws, every day that we keep our covenants and help others to do the same, joy will be ours.

Heed these words of the Psalmist: “I have set the Lord always before me: because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved. … In [His] presence is fulness of joy.” As this principle is embedded in our hearts, each and every day can be a day of joy and gladness.

Christmas time, we celebrate the birth of the Saviour Jesus Christ, we too can join in the chorus of Joy to the World as we focus on the Saviour in our lives. Invite us to seek more joy in our lives by reflecting and focusing on areas of our lives where we can refocus on the Saviour Jesus Christ and his atonement.

Saturday, 12 January 2019

USA Holiday - The Official Soundtrack

Adam listens:

Our family holidays these days have soundtracks. I have a fairly extensive mp3 collection (I like to accumulate cheap 2nd hand CDs for ripping to mp3). With the advent of most modern cars having USB interfaces to their sound systems I’ve taken to compiling a USB or two of music to listen to during times when we’re doing a lot of driving.

When we did our Gold Coast holiday, we mainly listened to the spoken version of The Lord of the Rings books to help Jewel finish “reading” the series. For our early 2018 holiday to WA, the theme song for the holiday was “Cake by the Ocean” with a collection of other tracks that we now associate with that holiday.

For our USA holiday, we would be spending a good 30+ hours in the car, so I put together an extensive track list. The songs aren't just random songs, but have some type of relevance to what we were actually doing. Besides listening to it in general whilst driving, there were also specific moments where I'd put on a song relevant to what we were doing (eg driving the freeway out of Vegas whilst listening to Sheryl Crow's Leaving Las Vegas, singing "I've been through the desert on a horse with no name" whilst driving through the Mohave Desert or turning on Ventura Highway whilst driving on the Ventura Freeway in LA.) Here's the soundtrack as a Youtube playlist.

And here's the track list of our official USA holiday soundtrack, with some explanation of why songs were included.

The Intro:
Eagle Rock by Daddy Cool – Included at the last minute to celebrate the West Coast Eagles winning the AFL Grand Final the fisrt day of our holidays.
Breakfast in America by Supertramp – The song lyrics talk about wanting to fly to America because the singer has this idealised idea of what America is like. I figured it was an appropriate start to our trip to the US.
Kids in America by Kim Wilde – We'd been to the US before, but the kids hadn't so it would be their first time there. Thought this song was appropriate to celebrate that, as well as being a childhood memory of the kids from the Jimmy Neutron movie.
Living in America by James Brown – So, spending almost 3 weeks in the USA living in America. The kids know the parody 'Living with a Hernia" by Weird Al, so why not play the original?

Southern California:
Hotel California by The Eagles - The old standard about driving through Southern Californian deserts. The first thing we did once hitting the US was drive out to our hotel in the LA foothills. Not quite through the desert, but still, an appropriate start for the holiday.
Horse with No Name by America - A song about travelling through a Californian desert to listen to whilst driving through the Mohave desert.
Ventura Highway by America - There was no such thing as the Ventura Highway, but it was written about moving to Southern California ... add to that there is a Ventura Freeway in LA.
Victor Jara's Hands by Calexico - only learnt of this band not long before the holiday, they were  a mix of south-western American and northern Mexican music style that just seemed to match the history of the area.
Oye Como Va by Santana - a bit of Californian Latin rock band Santana to fit in with the Mexican influenced southern California theme.
House of Valparaís by Calexico - see the comment about the other Calexico song. I liked the faint mariachi trumpet in the backing of this song that gives it that American but historically Mexican feel.
Do It Again by Steely Dan - the song is about a guy continually getting himself into trouble in that South Western corner of the states and includes aline about ending back up in Vegas. In the song's case, it's becasue he's a crooked gambler -  we may nott have been gamblers but berween the two US holidays, we've actually passed through Vegs 4 times - twice during each trip.
La Bamba by Los Lobos - some more Latin influenced pop to keep the southern Californian/northern Mexican theme going
Life is a Highway  by Tommy Cochrane - the holiday would include lots of interstate highway/freeway driving - so the lyrics relating life to driving was more than appropriate.  Add to that the fact that before our holiday we watched the animated movie Cars which features this song as a part of the soundtrack.

Las Vegas:
Goin' to Vegas by Jimmy Ray - chosen mainly for the whole chorus of heading to Las Vegas, something we'd be doing twice on the trip
Pretty Vegas by INXS - Lyrics that include driving your way to Vegas and about Vegas really being grungy and not as pretty as the face it puts on.
Viva Las Vegas by Elvis Presley - The standard Vegas go to song - Elissa grew up on Elvis thanks to her Dad, so this was a bit of a gimme inclusion.
Leaving Las Vegas by Sheryl Crow - Got played several times - lyrics about being disillusioned with Vegas and deciding to leave there.

Salt Lake City & LDS:
Provo UT Girls by Divine Comedy - a lampoon of BYU life which was a memory from the kids' younger years. Seeing as we'd be doing a tour of BYU it was doubly appropriate.
Utah by The Osmond Brothers - How could you not include the Osmonds singing about heading back to see people in Utah, even if it is a pretty cheesy 70s song?
Salt Lake City by The Beach Boys - Everyone always associates the Beach Boys with Californian beach culture, but apparently they regularly traveled out to Salt Lake to sing at the Lagoon Amusement Park as documented by this song.
Diddly Wack Mack Mormon Daddy by Everclean - hitting the apex of LDS culture in Salt Lake it was only appropriate to play satirical boyband Everclean with their ode to being a Diddly Wack Mack Mormon Daddy.
Upular by Pogo - we made sure to take a trek out to the replica house from the movie Up in Salt Lake City, so including the song that is made up from lyrics and sounds from the movie was a definite inclusion.
Ye Elders of Israel by Vista 4 – this is a modern take on an LDS hymn that we actually got from a movie soundtrack we bought the last time we were in the US. The lyrics talk about going to “the mountains of Ephraim to dwell” ie living in Salt Lake City, so we thought it was appropriate. We played it as we hit the southern end of Salt Lake with the snow capped mountains next to us.
Love is Spoken Here by Clay – similar to above, this and the following track are modern takes on LDS children’s songs that we got from movie soundtracks on our previous US trip. We thought they were appropriate for our time at LDS General Conference
Jesus Wants Me For A Sunbeam by Juice – see above

Lindsey Stirling:
Crystallize by Lindsey Stirling – this and the following three tracks were all chosen as being some of our favourite Lindsey Stirling tracks. Stirling is a famous LDS musician so we thought it appropriate to use her music as a soundtrack around Salt Lake and Utah.
Radioactive by Lindsey Stirling & Pentatonix – see above. This track also happens to be a remake of a song by an LDS artist.
Prism by Lindsey Stirling – see above
Elements by Lindsey Stirling – see above

Moab & Route 66:
R.O.C.K In the USA by John Cougar Mellencamp – I wanted to feature a song about the red rock areas we’d be visiting … and I couldn’t find any. So I figured that Mr Mellencamp singing about R O C Ks in the USA was a suitable alternative. 
Route 66 by John Mayer – we were going to do the drive along Route 66 on the way from the Grand Canyon to Las Vegas, so this was an appropriate soundtrack. Also from the Cars soundtrack, with Route 66 featuring heavily in the movie.

Los Angeles:
California Dreamin' by The Mamas & The Papas – an oldy that Elissa knows from her parents, with lyrics about dreaming of going to California.
All I Wanna Do - Sheryl Crow – Song lyrics are about sitting in a bar observing suburban LA. We may not have been going to a bar but we’ll certainly be observing LA as we spend time there. It even starts out with the declaration that “This is LA” – an appropriate track when we arrive on the outskirts of LA at the latter part of our holiday.
I Love LA by Randy Newman – A love song about LA from the same guy who wrote the songs for Toy Story. (Think “You’ve Got A Friend In Me”)
Free Fallin' by Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers – whilst the song lyrics are about relationship problems, the settings all mentioned in the song are the roads and suburbs around where we would be staying in LA.
Alohomora by Pogo – A song made up of sampling from the Harry Potter movies, this was the perfect soundtrack heading in to the day at Universal Studios and hours in the faux Harry Potter world therein.
Hollywood Nights by Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band – Another song about a  relationship set in the hills of LA, this song also highlighted locations such as the Hollywood Hills near where we were staying.
Under the Bridge by The Red Hot Chilli Peppers – again, another song about LA itself, but in this case the more seedier and grubby underbelly of life in LA. We did literally see homeless and questionable characters under bridges and underpasses as we drove through some areas.
California Girls by David Lee Roth – To be truthful, the California Girls weren’t any prettier than anywhere else, not that we were looking that closely, but still it was fun to include a remake of the Beach Boys classic of how supposedly pretty the ladies in California are.
Say Goodbye to Hollywood by Billy Joel – The song to close out our stay in LA and the USA – say goodbye to Hollywood was fitting, as our trip into Hollywood itself occurred on our last night of the holiday and would eb our farewell not only to Hollywood, but to the whole US of A.
Take Me Home Country Roads by Copilot – Seth had grown to like this song due to its use in advertising a science fiction game. Elissa knew this song having been taken to a John Denver concert the day she got be back from her mission. The lyrics about country driving in the US were appropriate for all of the country driving we did, the only difference being that the final drive to home would actually be in Australia.

Tuesday, 8 January 2019

Shopping For A New Car

Adam test drives:

The lease on our Kia Grand Carnival comes to an end on the 3rd Feb, seven years after we first leased it as an almost new demo car. We’ve been looking around at different cars  and were originally thinking that we’d like to get another Kia Carnival, however they are quite expensive, starting at $42k. We figured that it might be better to try and get a second hand model that was only a couple of years old and still under warranty.  We did find a white one in Tuggeranong just before Christmas – a white 2015 model. We took it for a test drive, and while it was good, there were two main issues. One, it didn’t seem to have the same pickup as my current car, and secondly, the nose of the vehicle was bulkier but difficult to see. Given that our current Kia only just fits into the garage and that I park by “touch” – using the nudgebar to hit a babyseat at the end of the garage to know that I’m in the right spot, - I was concerned about trying to park it in our garage. There no longer appears to be a nudge bar available for the Carnivals so parking by “feel” could potentially damage the front of the car.

We thought we probably would take the car when we talked with the car yard on the Saturday before Christmas, but Elissa was uncomfortable about it over the break and we changed our mind . Elissa then did a heap of looking and we ended up going for a test drive in a new Kia Sportage on our anniversary.  They did have a cheap runout Sportage model available in Woden for only $27k that we’d looked at the previous day, but it was sold by the time we came back the following day to test drive. So, we test drove the MY19 Premium Sportage model and it was nice. Seth was in the back and comfortable with the space available. The car has all the mod cons and is actually on special – the premium was actually cheaper than the base model at the moment, so lots of bells and whistles for less than the basic model.

We’re currently in the process of signing up to lease one, running in parallel with the process with what to do with our old car. Unfortunately, because of the number of kms it’s done (~225k km) it’s trade in value is low – we would have gotten $4k against the Kia Carnival, and only $3k against a new Sportage. Seeing as the residual on the lease is around $6.5k, we will potentially make a bit of a loss on it.  Because of this, Elissa has been wanting to sell the car privately.

Selling privately means we’ll have to pay the lease residual outright. It also means we need to fix up a lot of little problems with the car. We’ve had it in for various fixes over the last week – two new tyres and removal of a screw from another tyre, getting a chip fixed in the windscreen, and a full detail to clean up the vehicle in general. Once we get a roadworthy certificate it’ll be time to throw it up onto various websites and advertise it. We’ll be pushing to try and get about $6.5k for it to cover our residual.

Monday, 7 January 2019

New Year's Eve with the Grants

Adam counts down:

Dannielle & Jordan Grant spent Christmas and New Year’s up in Canberra.  They dropped by to see us on  , as well as spending New Year’s Eve with us as well. They were finding it a bit hard with Kayden who wasn’t sleeping very well who was away from the routine of home. On New Year’s Eve we ended up playing some games through the day. We started out with a game of one upmanship on geek trivia called Geek Out. Seth managed to go under the radar and win the game.

We had some vegemite scrolls for lunch ... Minori thought that they were really nice to sit on whilst they were rising.

In the afternoon, Dannielle played a game of AuZtralia with us which she really liked. Jordan was spending his time looking after Kayden. Elissa made chicken & cheese enchiladas for dinner – a favourite of Dannielle’s – although not good for poor Jordan.

After dinner we taught Dannielle to play Terraforming Mars which she said was OK, but she preferred AuZtralia. Kayden was still unsettled, so they ended up heading back to their accommodation about 9:30pm.

Elissa was fairly tired and ended up going to bed before midnight, leaving myself and the kids staying up. Jewel and I watched a documentary called 7 Days Out about the end of the Cassini space mission. After that we watched Cars 3, which Seth joined in to watch too. We paused it at midnight to watch the countdown, light a few sparklers and see some illegal fireworks go off in the surrounding suburb, before then finishing the movie and heading to bed really late.

Sunday, 6 January 2019

Jewel's Image of Tommy H from Stranger Things

Adam sees that Jewel is happy:

Jewel did a portrait of actor Chester Rushing  who plays the side character of Tommy H in the Stranger Things TV show. She put it up on Instagram and even tagged him in it. She was quite excited when he both liked it and made the comment “I love this!!!”. It’s her little brush with a celebrity.

And here's what he looks like in real life for comparison.

Saturday, 5 January 2019

Seth Gets His Patriarchal Blessing

Adam is proud of Seth:

At Church I usually invite the Stake Patriarch to come and talk in the Ward each year, at which time we also invite him to spend time with the youth answering their questions. He did so again about 6 weeks ago. Elissa and I have thought that Seth would benefit from having his Patriarchal Blessing for a while, but he’s been hesitant about getting it, believing that he may not have been ready.

We were excited when he finally had his interview with Bishop Stuart and got his recommend for his Patriarchal Blessing. We spoke with the Arnold Cummins – the Patriarch – and arranged for him to be seen on the morning of our Wedding Anniversary. A great Anniversary present for both of us.

Elissa and I took him to the Patriarch's home in Scullin that morning and were allowed to sit in for the blessing itself. Brother Cummins spent a bit of time talking with Seth before the blessing itself. The blessing itself was very long – Brother Cummins commented about that afterwards.  There was a lot of mention of mission and university, but we’re looking forward to getting the physical copy of the transcript in hand so that we can help Seth in looking through what was covered in the blessing. It was a nice experience to have with him and we look forward to when Jewel will have hers in several years’ time.

Friday, 4 January 2019

Fantastic Beasts 2 and Into The Spiderverse

Adam starts at the beginning, one last time:

Elissa finally got the chance to go to see Fantastic Beasts 2 with Jewel on the Saturday before Christmas. She enjoyed it as you’d expect. Seth and I were planning to go see Mortal Engines at the same time, however that session was cancelled. We decided that we’d go see the Spiderman: Into the Spider-verse movie instead.

Seth and I were both really impressed with the Spiderman movie. It was very different in that it used a number of techniques that made it the movie equivalent of reading a comic book – thought bubbles, a false frame rate (repeated 2 frames for each shot so only 12 different images per second instead of the usual 24fps), hatching and print dots in the colouring of the images, etc. It was a very unique movie experience.

We knew Jewel would love seeing it – she’d already wanted to check it out. We were a bit unsure about Elissa – we thought she’d be a bit confused by it all but thought she’d appreciate  some of the story aspects.

We ended up going as a family to see it on the 27th in Manuka. (I had a gift card from my parents to the cinemas there which we hadn’t used yet.) As expected, Jewel loved it, Seth & I enjoyed it the second time around. Elissa was very critical of it though and had the same reaction to it that I had to Fantastic Beasts 2 – looking at the watch to see how long until it ended.

Thursday, 3 January 2019

Garlands, Games & Food

Adam plays & enjoys the company:

We caught up with the Garlands twice over the Christmas break. First on Boxing Day over at their house, and then the following Sunday, after Church, at our house. Both days included a lot of talking – finding out about how their trip to Perth and Hong Kong went in early December, as well as food (Christmas leftovers on Boxing Day and home made pizzas on the Sunday), as well as game playing. On Boxing Day we taught them how to play AuZtralia and Scythe as well as a game of Terraforming Mars. On the Sunday we had a reprise of the games as well as the Hobbit DBG.

Kerrilee has been having a good run of winning games in recent game days, and her form continued. I was surprised that they liked Scythe. It seemed a bit of a chore to teach as it does have a steep learning curve but they asked to play it again so presumably they liked it enough to request a second play. Elissa found it challenging on her first game we had just as a family, but apparently spent the next day thinking of strategies of how to win, so it obviously has some appeal. As always, it was great to spend time with the Garlands.

Tuesday, 1 January 2019

Christmas Eve and Day 2018

Adam eats a lot:

It was a quiet Christmas this year. We hadn't heard from the family we usually spend Christmas with - they've been away a lot with family interstate, so it was just us at home.

On Christmas Eve we did our usual routine after dinner of reading the nativity from the scriptures before walking up the hill to check out the Christmas lights around us.

We managed to sleep in until after 7am on Christmas morning at which point we got up to share presents from underneath the tree.

We started out by letting the kids go through their "Santa sacks." We have a photo of Jewel's below, but I forgot to take one of Seth's. He got some D&D miniatures, MtG cards, DnD magazines, jocks, pyjamas, Star Wars t-shirt and various smaller goodies.

Then we did presents from Jewel. She received a Spiderman pop vinyl from Donovan and Alicia, some overalls from Grandma and Grandad Yates, Spiderman Homecoming and Thor Ragnorak DVDs from Seth and a beginner's acoustic guitar and guitar holder from us. A lot of the following days was going to feature Jewel attemtping to learn her new guitar.

Seth got a Steam voucher from Donovan & Alicia, money from Grandma & Grandad, a Dracula book from Jewel and the James Bond DVD collection from us.

Elissa got some money from her parents, a stereo system for her work from Seth, a family photo on canvas from Jewel (it didn't arrive by Christmas, so Elissa got a mango on the day itself) and an IOU from Adam. Elissa is thinking she'd like a second hand weights set, however the cat's medical bills  on the week of Christmas as well as $2500 worth of utilities bills left us without cash leading up to Christmas. Once things get better financially, we'll see what's about to get for Elissa.

Jayde got the family a box of Ferraro Roche chocolates to go with her hand embroidery. We had gotten her some more photobooks that continued on from ones that Elissa had done for her several years ago. That way she still has copies of her photos from home.

 I received some money from Elissa's parents ( to be kept for spending at CanCon), the Classic Policeman Lego figure (a rare collectible Lego minifigure), the AuZtralia board game from Seth, and several Lego minifigure display cases from Elissa.

Then it was time for a yummy cooked breakfast.

We did have plans for maybe playing some games during the day, however that was soon overtaken about concern for Matt. He had started throwing up around the house. We could also see that he was unsuccessfully trying to poop. The constipation was causing him problems such that he couldn't or walk normally. He was becoming quite distressed. We ended up putting him out on the balcony with the kitty litter hoping that nature would resolve things but he was getting more and more distressed. Elissa ended up ringing the emergency vets and we decided to take him in  to get checked out. If it was something like a twisted or obstructed bowel it was potentially life threatening.

Elissa would then spend the next 3 hours at the vet as they checked him out. They ended up giving him some strong medication and keeping him in until he'd finally been able to go to the toilet.

Elissa did come home to start on cooking Christmas dinner with Adam whilst Matt was "under observation" before heading back later on to finally get him once we had the all clear. Emergency vets on Christmas Day aren't cheap - another $300 to go with the $450 for Minori the week before.

Back at home we got Christmas dinner ready - the usual baked ham, a chicken roll roast as well as a turducken that I'd found cheap when looking for chicken rolls. As side dishes we had green beans with sage and flaked almonds, cauliflower & broccoli au gratin, roast potatoes, roast sweet potatoes and roast pumpkin, with everything topped off with gravy. Yum. It was followed up by a chocolate/caramael/biscuit trifle and pavlova.

 We were joined by the Sister missionaries for dinner at 5pm and they stayed til just after 7pm.. It was a hot day and Jewel had really been wanting to go swimming so we went down to Pine Island near Tuggeranong and let Jewel and Seth swim whilst we called our parents to see how they were doing over Christmas. The kids had fun swimming, even if the water had zero visibility.

As it started to get dark we came home and spent the evening trying out my new game - AuZtralia which we all quite enjoyed.