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The holiday season has been upon us for some weeks now. In between Christmas commercials, shopping, and scouring pinterest you should find time to watch this short video put out by the church:

President Uchtdorf also has a few thoughts to share in this month's Liahona.

The greatest gift was given to us years ago in Bethlehem and then again in the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus Christ by his example, life, and atonement is the reason. If there had been no Easter, there would be no Christmas. #HeIsTheGift

What gift are you giving Christ this year?

Ps. If you're feeling exceptionally righteous here is a link to the Christmas Devotional. Warning: Sis. Oscarson spills the beans on Santa. If you have small children be sure that they are trying exceptionally hard to not pay attention during her talk.
You're welcome. 


Feeding the Missionaries

We try to have the missionaries over for dinner once a month for a variety of reasons:

It brings the spirit into our home
Let's us get to know them
They feel more comfortable asking us to do things
We feel more comfortable working with them
Hulk gets to interact with them

Our local Elders are awesome (we don't have sisters but I hear a set of Chinese speaking sisters will be assigned to the area in February). They are patient, helpful, and really sweet to Hulk - he loves playing with them.

We always let them pick the dinner time (they're schedule is more important than mine, they have the gospel to spread). My biggest problem with having missionaries over for dinner is deciding what to cook. Really. Lame, I know. So in preparation for this month I called my recently returned sister for her missionary dinner insights. She gave no opinion (but after some prodding suggested veggie burgers). *Please note that I always ask the Elders what they would like to have, or what they've had too much of recently, and they never give an opinion either. Double lame.

So I went to my favorite place in the world: google (physical locations excluded)
I found some pretty hilarious websites including this one, a wikihow on making dinner for Mormon Missionaries. I've always had great respect for wikihow (saved my butt a few times) but to have a page on dinners for Mormon Missionaries is awesome. 
Here's an abbreviated version of the steps:
1. Set up an appointment
2. Start planning your menu
3. Buy all ingredients in advance
4. Turn off the TV and radio
5. Great the missionaries
6. If dinner is not quiet ready, direct the missionaries toward your sitting room
7. Start dinner with a prayer
8. Keep the mood light
9. Have dessert (optional)

I have a few disclaimers: I usually forget to buy ingredients but I've become a pro at substitution. Example: I've been out of baking soda for several days, didn't stop me from making some awesome goodies. Here are some of my favorite substitutions:
Baking soda --> 2x required amount as baking powder and omit any salt
Butter/oil --> apple sauce, banana, pumpkin, or yogurt
Eggs--> apple sauce, banana, pumpkin, or corn starch (if egg is the binding ingredient)
Also, this website is amazing
One day I plan on making pumpkin muffins by substituting every other ingredient for pumpkin.
I also don't cook with wine. Yes, I've heard it cooks out but I'm super righteous. If you want to be as righteous as me I recommend this website.

Smiling and waving despite the blood
ps. That's a spoon in his left hand 
Dinner is almost never ready on time - I have a toddler and no concept of how long it takes me to cook. Bad combo. This last time we had the Elders over was probably the worst, I had to perform emergency medical triage after Hulk decided to slice his finger (#MommyForTheWin). We didn't have a single band-aid in the apartment but curiously enough we had gauze (when did we ever buy gauze?). So after I pinned him down in the bathroom I did my best to clean it (hah!) then wrap gauze around his hand with athletic tape. There was blood everywhere. That had to be cleaned up (two days later I'm still finding blood). I then tried to call my favorite doctor (aka Dad aka Grandpa O) to determine if a visit to the emergency room was in my near future. He was unavailable (umm, when your favorite daughter calls who cares if you're at work. Right?). But my second favorite doctor was (aka Mom aka Vet medicine is basically the same as human medicine but with different names for the drugs). She seemed to think he'd be fine. And he was. End of story. *update, had to super glue the cut today when I changed the bandage as it was bleeding slightly. (the irony of medical school, all that money to learn how to sew skin when superglue works the same) But good news! We have real band-aids now. 
I'm convinced that this was a more traumatic experience for me than it was for him.

Last disclaimer: I never serve dessert to the missionaries. Ever. I figure everyone else is feeding them dessert and car missionaries don't need dessert every night. Sometimes I'll have cookies in the kitchen because I randomly felt like making cookies one week but I don't bring them out. This last time I had apple cake in the fridge. I'm so lame, I know, and I don't even feel bad about it.