low-key Thursday

This morning I visit taught my friend, Marilyn. She’s had six kids (all of whom are grown up now), and I always leave her feeling like she’s visit taught me instead of visa versa. For instance, today she told me this inspiring story: When her first son was two years old, he spilled a pitcher of lemonade all over a dinner she had spent the whole day preparing (they had company that night). In total shock, she stared at the mess and then with tears in her eyes said, “Guess who still loves you? Can you help Mommy clean this up?”

Wow! I felt so motivated to be kinder to my two year old after that. Marilyn told me she wished she had reacted that way more often when her kids were little, and I left feeling inspired to be a better mom. I was more inclined to say yes when Lydia begged to go outside and play in the snow today because of my morning visit. I forgot to take pictures, but we played chase again. It was sunny and not too cold, and actually I had a lot of fun.

I also played with Mary on the stairs for the better part of an hour, and that activity was made especially more fun because there were lots of cuddles involved. After Mary got tired on the stairs, I put her down for a nap (and put Lydia in her room for quiet time) and read and felted for the next couple of hours.

I also got a good deal of piano in during Mary’s first nap–she took two naps again today!!!–, and since I also did Bikram this evening, I am feeling pretty great about life. My only wish is that school tomorrow did not fall smack dab during the ward Christmas party.

I didn’t take any pictures today, but while Abe watched the girls during my yoga session, he took some.

Looks like they got a bubble bath today.

Looks like they got a bubble bath today.

Lydia made Abe talk in Minnie Mouse and Donald Duck voices for two hours straight. Whenever he'd stop, she'd burst into tears.

Lydia made Abe talk in Minnie Mouse and Donald Duck voices for two hours straight. Whenever he’d stop, she’d burst into tears.

Someone got a bubble beard...

Someone got a bubble beard…

Mostly the pictures

Here’s what happened today: Treadmill. Preschool. Food prep. Reading. A little piano. A little felting. Reading to my kids. A little cleaning. Class.

It’s hard to come up with much to say about today. I had a lot less panic and anxiety today–go, treadmill, go! Also, I cuddled my babies a lot. They were exceptionally lovable today.

Here are the pictures:

I have a million pictures like this from today.

I have a million pictures like this from today.

...But I'm only going to post two.

…But I’m only going to post two.

Okay, okay. Three.

Okay, okay. Three.

Also, Lydia got a postcard album from her cat. She was beside herself with joy.

Also, Lydia got a postcard album from her cat. She was beside herself with joy.

Thanks, Beth, for doing that for Lydia! It was the sweetest gift ever. You are the best!

Thanks, Beth, for doing that for Lydia! It was the sweetest gift ever. We love you so much!

almost forgot

I almost forgot to blog today. Sorry, Grandma! I was just about to head to bed when Abe asked me if I was going to blog, and I realized that I didn’t take any pictures today, so I actually have to write something.

Let’s see…Lydia had preschool this morning. Apparently she spent most of it eating. There’s something about eating in a group setting that helps her zero in on food. I think Fallon and Paige probably thought I didn’t feed Lydia breakfast, because apparently she spent almost all of preschool sitting at a table eating chocolate graham crackers.

While she was at preschool, I typed up my blog for Mormon Momma. I haven’t heard back since sending her the draft, but I’m glad it’s out of my head and out of my system. Unless she gets back to me and tells me she wants stuff changed (I’ve never done a guest blog before, so I don’t know how it works), this is what I have so far:

Bishop Eastland’s recent talk to young women provoked an explosion of emotion among members of the Church, and this outpouring has made one thing abundantly clear:

Many of us are uncomfortable with the way modesty is currently taught in the Church.

We want to promote virtue in society, but we are tired of sexist philosophies that unduly burden our women with confusing directions on how to successfully navigate the territory of “sexy modesty.”

We are eager for our daughters to understand that they need not advertise their sexuality to feel validated in our sex-sick society, but we also ardently wish that church leaders would be continually. unequivocally, even aggressively clear that no outfit gives any man the right to sexually exploit a daughter of God.

Many of us are searching for a better, clearer, more Christian way to teach the principle of modesty to our daughters. As I have studied the scriptures, one thing that has become increasingly apparent to me is that modesty might be less about hemlines and more about where our heart is. Christ, our Exemplar, spent his ministry caring for the poor and enjoining us to do the same. Could we begin to teach modesty by drawing clearer correlations between our purchasing power and our ability to help the poor? For me, modesty in our consumer habits is a purer, truer manifestation of discipleship than whether our unendowed women elect to wear a tank top on a hot day.

As disciples of Christ, should we be spending so much time and money on our appearance that we are unfamiliar with the humanitarian box on our tithing slips? Do we purchase so much stuff that we need closets the size of small bedrooms? If so, why? Why, when there are people suffering in the world for want of basic necessities, would a disciple of Christ make purchasing decisions that place selfish desires above our ability to help others?

Here’s why, in Moroni’s opinion: “For behold, ye do love amoney, and your substance, and your fine apparel, and the adorning of your churches, more than ye love the poor and the needy, the sick and the afflicted.” (Mormon 8:37)

When I teach my daughters about modesty, I will teach them that their deportment reflects their discipleship. Yes, I will tell them that they are women of substance who need not heed a worldly, overtly sexual dress code. But hopefully I will spend more time explaining to them why their shopping habits may differ from their friends’, and why I hope they feel no need to preen for hours in front of a mirror. I hope that if they are sufficiently equipped with skill-sets and a strong desire to study the word of God, they will opt out of a beauty culture that would lay claim on all of their spare time and resources.

We are disciples, and disciples have real work to do. There is room in this work for everyone, and I hope as we go about doing the best we can to align our purchasing decisions with our discipleship, we will forgo the temptation to judge fellow brothers and sisters who might not feel the same way as we do. My one fear is that this mode of teaching modesty could make us susceptible to unrighteous judgment when we notice people who may appear to have laxer standards in their purchasing habits. In all cases, the Lord’s counsel to Samuel of old is a great reminder:  “… for the Lord aseeth not as bman seeth; for man looketh on the outward cappearance, but the dLord looketh on the eheart.” (1 Samuel 16:7)

Errands and some funny pictures of Mary’s hair

I have not felt up to taking the girls to the grocery store, and finally last night we ran out of food. Abe and I realized that when the girls would wake up in the morning, we would literally have nothing (except for canned beans, dried pasta and condiments) to feed them. So we decided to take them to Smith’s for breakfast.

And so we did. When the girls woke up, we read a couple books to them, bundled them up and brought them to Smith’s, where Abe fed them while I shopped. In light of the situation in the Philippines, my grocery budget has been chopped in half. On normal weeks I have to operate on a cash basis to make sure I don’t go over budget (which is sad, because I loooooove credit card rewards, but I just can’t handle using one responsibly), and by the end of the week I am barely scraping by. So the past two weeks on a half-budget have been awesome exercises in self-control and discipline. I was SO proud of myself because by the end of our errands, I was sure I had more than enough food to get us through the week–and I stayed within my budget!!! A truly out-of-character accomplishment for me, let me assure you.

During our errands, we made a stop at the library where we literally busted our library book bag in an attempt to return all of the books we had checked out. It exploded right in front of the elevator. We then asked the guy at circulation if we could get a free replacement. After all, it is a bag we bought from the library for the express purpose of carrying books, and it failed to perform its function. However, he informed us that we would have to buy a replacement. Since I was at the end of my budget, buying a $2.00 library bag was an unfathomable expense, so we had to make do carrying our new stacks of freshly checked out books in (free!) plastic grocery bags.

I am SO excited about my new books! In light of the recent increased activity in my life, I have had trouble finishing my books in a timely fashion. In fact, I checked out The Paris Wife on audio in the hopes that I can finish it on my commute to and from school. I also checked out an audio book on the first woman in the government in Afghanistan, and three books: Black Folktales by Julius Lester, Flashman and the Tiger by George MacDonald Fraser, and Harvard Square by Andre Aciman. I don’t know if I’ll end up finishing Harvard Square because lately I can’t seem to handle the dark places of other people’s memories, but I did find the plot intriguing: A Jewish exile from Egypt befriends an anti-American named Kalaj who hates America because (so he claims) of this: ““Their continental breakfasts are jumbo-ersatz, their extra-long cigarettes are jumbo-ersatz, their huge steak dinners with whopping all-you-can-eat salads are jumbo-ersatz, their refilled mugs of all-you-can-drink coffee, their faux-mint mouthwash with triple pack toothpaste and extra toothbrushes thrown in for value, their cars, their malls, their universities, even their monster television sets and spectacular big-screen epics, all, all of it, jumbo ersatz.”

In light of my rant yesterday about conspicuous consumerism and materialism gone wild, that quote caught my attention.  As a result, this novel is now sitting next to me bed waiting to be started before I go to bed tonight. We’ll see how it goes.

I also have to do my readings for my menu writing class, and I’ll try to get my homework done too. So I better hurry up and post pictures before it gets too late.

Before our breakfast outing. Mary loves the book Mary Wore Her Red Dress. It's a library book, and when she was crying last week, I grabbed it and started singing it to her. Ever since then, she walks up to me waving it in her hands and pulling on my shirt until I read it to her. For the record, her other favorite book is Duck and Goose. We've probably read it a hundred times, but whenever I ask her to choose a book to read, she goes and grabs that one and then giggles at every page.

Before our breakfast outing. Mary loves the book Mary Wore Her Red Dress. It’s a library book, and when she was crying last week, I grabbed it and started singing it to her. Ever since then, she walks up to me waving it in her hands and pulling on my shirt until I read it to her. For the record, her other favorite book is Duck and Goose. We’ve probably read it a hundred times, but whenever I ask her to choose a book to read, she goes and grabs that one and then giggles at every page. Also, Abe and I were too tired to change out of our clothes last night, and we were too tired this morning to put on new ones. So this I’ve been wearing those (super comfy) leggings for over twenty-four hours by now.

We did a lot of reading today. This is after Mary's three hour nap and Lydia's three hour quiet time session. When we finally released her from quiet time (at 4pm), she was giving her stuffed animals a puppet show and making Minnie Mouse act out the role of "doctor."

We did a lot of reading today. This is after Mary’s three hour nap and Lydia’s three hour quiet time session. When we finally released her from quiet time (at 4pm), she was giving her stuffed animals a puppet show and making Minnie Mouse act out the role of “doctor.”

Mary looked like a mini-teenager in her jeans and yellow shirt today. It made me feel nostalgic. Also, we can put her hair in a ponytail now!

Mary looked like a mini-teenager in her jeans and yellow shirt today. It made me feel nostalgic. Also, we can put her hair in a ponytail now!

And this is what happens when we take the ponytail out.

And this is what happens when we take the ponytail out.

Mary didn't think it was funny, but Abe and I did.

Mary didn’t think it was funny, but Abe and I did.