Zion trip and Labor Day

We decided to come back last night since we got everything done that we wanted in a shorter time than we anticipated. Sadly, my camera broke! Well, it’s not completely broken, but it won’t let me zoom in or out to take pictures. I will have to call Canon tomorrow and see if I need to send it in to them.

In the meantime, here’s what we did in Zion.

On the way to Zion we stopped at our favorite fast food place of all time--Dairy Queen!

On the way to Zion we stopped at our favorite fast food place of all time–Dairy Queen!

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While Abe and I were setting up the tent, we locked Mary in the van and let her walk around while Lydia slept. When we finished, we discovered she had piled Lydia's lap high with all sorts of presents.

While Abe and I were setting up the tent, we locked Mary in the van and let her walk around while Lydia slept. When we finished, we discovered she had piled Lydia’s lap high with all sorts of presents.

Hiking to the Narrows the next morning.

Hiking to the Narrows the next morning.

We stopped hiking at the part where you have to hike in the river. You should have special shoes and a walking stick for that part, and we only had one baby carrier. Maybe we'll try again when our kids are older.

We stopped hiking at the part where you have to hike in the river. You should have special shoes and a walking stick for that part, and we only had one baby carrier. Maybe we’ll try again when our kids are older.

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Lydia and Mary spent about an hour building a "castle" out of rocks and playing in the mud by the river.

Lydia and Mary spent about an hour building a “castle” out of rocks and playing in the mud by the river.

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I'm pretty sure those pants are ruined...but Lydia sure had fun ruining them!

I’m pretty sure those pants are ruined…but Lydia sure had fun ruining them!

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Abe was trying to fix the camera. I have no idea what I was doing with my arms.

Abe was trying to fix the camera. I have no idea what I was doing with my arms.

Zion is my favorite national park. The pictures don't do it justice, so I didn't really try. I did take a couple though as a futile exercise in trying to capture a bit of the majesty and splendor of the place.

Zion is my favorite national park. The pictures don’t do it justice, so I didn’t really try. I did take a couple though as a futile exercise in trying to capture a bit of the majesty and splendor of the place.

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Someone was tired after playing in the mud.

Someone was tired after playing in the mud.

Then we headed back to our campground, which had a pool. After a quick, cold swim, we packed up an headed home. We arrived just before midnight.

This morning we were so happy to be home and have a full day together. We started off by going for a run around the City Creek Canyon loop.

sep1On the way back home, we visited with Anique, Andrew and Fleur who were out in their beautiful yard.

Then I ran off to yoga while Abe took the girls to the park.

After that, we all had naps and quiet time, and now Abe and Lydia are cleaning out the very dirty van. We have a TON of errands to do, so I’m blogging now in anticipation of not having time tonight. If we do anything else fun or picture worthy, I’ll edit this post and add whatever pictures we take. If not, this is it, I guess! Happy Labor Day!

preschool eve

So a quick recap of yesterday’s pictures:

Yesterday Ina babysat so I could go get my blood tests done. Everything came back normal, which confirms that I am, indeed, a hypochondriac.

Yesterday Ina babysat so I could go get my blood tests done. Everything came back normal, which confirms that I am, indeed, a hypochondriac.

After I came home, I found out about my friend’s baby. The rest of the day revolved around that. We did, however, go to the ward picnic. Abe stayed with the girls while I went to the hospital. He only took one picture:

Abe took a picture of Mary with cotton candy remnants on her face.

Abe took a picture of Mary with cotton candy remnants on her face.

Apparently, there was a magician there who did tricks. It turns out that one of the desires of Lydia’s three year old heart was to get chosen for the tricks…but she never raised her hand. I bet she’ll learn that skill in preschool.

Today I leaped out of bed to send off a bunch of emails coordinating help and visits for my friend and do homework. By the time the girls were done with breakfast, it was past 10 am. We’ll have to adjust our schedules tomorrow; Lydia has to be AT school by 8:45!

After breakfast, I went for a quick run, took a shower, and worked on some laundry. I fed the girls lunch, practiced piano, played pretend with Lydia, and then Misty came over for a play date! Misty and her kids never fail to make me happy.

IMG_9270I skipped school today, but Isabella came over at the same time so I could go to the hospital. My friend has had trouble delivering her baby, and it probably won’t come until the wee hours of the morning. Please pray for her and her family.

Then I came home, caught the tail end of dinner, and took the girls and Isabella out for ice cream to lift our spirits.

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Our view from the ice cream shop. The picture doesn't do it justice. It felt like we were right under the mountains.

Our view from the ice cream shop. The picture doesn’t do it justice. It felt like we were right under the mountains.

Then it was home. While we were at ice cream, Abe was out doing Elder’s Quorum visits. He got home before us and cleaned the house in time for our arrival. He was very excited to try our new steam cleaner on the kitchen floor. We feel enthused about that purchase.

I better get to bed because I am expecting to run to the hospital in the wee hours of the morning. Better get some sleep.

Hives and corn

Last night Lydia crawled into bed with us again, and this morning I woke up before her. I turned over and noticed her face was covered in hives. Oh no! The rest of the morning was devoted to bribing her to let me wash them, giving her allergy medicine and going to the doctor. Neither of us even had time to eat until 1:30 pm. This is what she looked like:

I told her not to smile because I wanted my sister-in-law to see the full effect of the hives. It is the BEST having a sister-in-law who is also a doctor!!

I told her not to smile because I wanted my sister-in-law to see the full effect of the hives. It is the BEST having a sister-in-law who is also a doctor!!

She wanted to smile, though, because: Look at what she's wearing! Yes, that was supposed to be a Christmas gift, but I was desperate to get that allergy medicine in her, and I resorted to bribery. She is now Princess Ana.

She wanted to smile, though, because: Look at what she’s wearing! Yes, that was supposed to be a Christmas gift, but I was desperate to get that allergy medicine in her, and I resorted to bribery. She is now Princess Ana.

After we came home from the doctor, I fed Mary lunch, put her down for a nap, and went on a treadmill run while Lydia “crafted.” (That just means she cut paper. Cutting is her favorite “craft.”)

Then it was time for a blitz nap and another doctor appointment–this time for me. I scheduled a physical way back for points with my insurance company. My doctor ended up looking at Lydia, too, and his diagnosis was different than the pediatrician. I don’t know who to believe, so I am keeping her home from school tomorrow just in case. My heart is a little broken for Lydia, who has been looking forward to the first day of preschool…but I don’t want to take chances.

After my doctor appointment, I spent the next three hours cooking. Lydia napped while Mary and I shucked corn.IMG_9243 IMG_9245 IMG_9246

A caterpillar! A minute later she stepped quite purposefully on him. We're not a bug-friendly family, as a rule.

A caterpillar! A minute later she stepped quite purposefully on him. We’re not a bug-friendly family, as a rule.

Abe came home and took the girls on a run while I finished cooking. I was making enough corn chowder for 15 people. We’re going to eat the rest Thursday, when I have another Primary dinner party.

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After dinner, Mary gave me a massage while I filled out Lydia's preschool drop-off stickers.

After dinner, Mary gave me a massage while I filled out Lydia’s preschool drop-off stickers.

IMG_9257Then Abe taught another FHE lesson on Prayer. We started with a “fashion show” from the girls. That just means they twirl around and do “tricks.”

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Abe had Lydia think up problems and then had her bring the problems to Mickey Mouse, who was standing in for Heavenly Father. Mickey Mouse resolved all the problems Lydia made up and gave her a hug after each problem. The problems Lydia made up were: 1) Having a problem in school because a friend pushed her. 2) Having problems in swimming lessons because she was afraid of the deep water.

Abe had Lydia think up problems and then had her bring the problems to Mickey Mouse, who was standing in for God. Mickey Mouse resolved all the problems Lydia made up and gave her a hug after each problem. The problems Lydia made up were: 1) Having a problem in school because a friend pushed her. 2) Having problems in swimming lessons because she was afraid of the deep water.

Abe and I have a goal to get to bed early tonight. We never caught up on rest over the weekend, and both of us were feeling it today. Tomorrow I get my lab tests done and find out if I have an actual thyroid problem (I have all sorts of crazy symptoms. At this point, I hope it is my thyroid!). Night Night!

Baking/cooking marathon and Orderville is real

I spent an hour on the treadmill this morning, but the rest of the day revolved around food. I completely undid whatever good that treadmill pain did this morning. We didn’t leave the house because I spent the whole afternoon preparing for our dinner with the Deems and Shala (some teachers in the Primary).

Lydia helped me a little with the baking. We made Martha Stewart’s lemon poppy seed cake, which takes approximately a million steps to do correctly.

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In between the four layers of luscious cake, there is a whipped lemon curd filling. Mom, I am making this for you when you come out. I had to give the rest of the cake away to our neighbors because I would have eaten it ALL if it stayed in the house.

In between the four layers of luscious cake, there is a whipped lemon curd filling. Mom, I am making this for you when you come out. I had to give the rest of the cake away to our neighbors because I would have eaten it ALL if it stayed in the house.

In addition to making the cake (which involved: Two rounds of sifting, completing a 1-2-3 batter, whipping egg whites to fold into the batter, making lemon curd, refrigerating curd, whipping cream, whipping cream and curd together, cutting cake into layers, putting curd in between the layers, refrigerating layers + curd together, boiling a corn syrup mixture, mixing that with more whipped egg whites, and–finally–frosting the cake!), I also roasted some lamb that I got on sale at the Farmer’s Market last weekend, made three pounds of mashed potatoes (don’t ask why I thought we needed so many), steamed broccoli, roasted garlic, minced a ton of herbs from the garden, prepared mint water, and cleaned every area of the house the guests would see.

You would think the Queen of England was visiting! But actually, what really happened is that I was just in the mood to cook and bake all day. I found baking with Lydia to be both fun and stressful, and my resolve to not yell was tested and found lacking several times during that process. But even still, I was doing exactly what I wanted to be doing, and everything turned out great (if I say so myself).

The best part, of course, was the actual visit. The Deems are in their late 70’s, and they’re still going strong. We found out their career revolved around a local lingerie chain that used to be the local equivalent of Victoria’s Secret. Shala was also full of interesting stories. She’s from Orderville, Utah. Prior to meeting Shala, I had always assumed Orderville was an LDS myth. It’s not! It was the town that managed to live the United Order longer than any other Mormon settlement, but the order fell apart when one young man from Orderville visited Salt Lake and bought a pair of pants that was different from what everyone else had. That was the start of the disintegration of the United Order. Prior to his Salt Lake visit, everyone wore the exact same style of overalls. After his visit, people wanted to start wearing different things, and it became impossible to live the United Order any longer.

Anyway, Abe is asleep, and so I better wrap this up. Mom, I’m going to get you Mary’s measurements soon. We had to put the kids to bed right after everyone left because Abe had to go do some Elder’s Quorum stuff–we didn’t have time to take her measurements. It was so great talking to you. Love you!

Germy conversations and an anti-racist FHE

I started off by giving the girls a bath because I couldn’t recall the last time we bathed them. They were starting to smell. Lately I’ve been trying to motivate Lydia to wash her hands, brush her teeth, and generally keep clean by dramatizing imagined conversations between germs and her body.

During her bath, she made me repeat over and over how she was drowning the icky germs, and throughout the day she kept asking me, “Mommy, what are my germs saying now?” At one point, right as I was relaying what her germs were saying to her body, she said, “Mom, gotta go, I need to brush my teeth!” (She’d already brushed them half an hour earlier, and she loved the idea of brushing all the germs off.)

After breakfast, the girls peeled and broke up bananas for banana swirl.

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Then I did my treadmill routine while the kids played and crafted in the very messy basement. (I cleaned it during quiet time today.)

IMG_9181 IMG_9183Then we had lunch, books, and quiet time. The picture taking resumed when Abe got home from work.

Abe loves taking pictures of these salads.

Abe loves taking pictures of these Nicoise salads. This was actually a great dinner to have after discussing germs all day. I got to tell Lydia about how all the nutrients in all the different veggies were scaring her germs by making her healthy and strong. She downed them with gusto.

aug18pic4 aug18pic2 aug18Then I had my Primary meeting, after which I came home and took a walk with Abe and the girls. We visited some of Abe’s home teachees who live up a couple blocks. On our way home, we met the nicest older couple, Bob and Becky. After chatting with them for the better part of twenty minutes, they offered us the bounty of their garden–a huge bagful of tomatoes! The girls were ecstatic. We came home, stripped off their shirts and had a tomato-gorging party.

After that, we had an anti-racist FHE. With all that’s been going on in Ferguson, I realized I need to actively start teaching anti-racism at home. Since Salt Lake is so homogeneous, especially where we live, the issue of race barely comes up. The only times Lydia has ever visited with any African Americans were 1) when my high school friend came and stayed with us two years ago 2) when my grad school friend came and stayed with us six months before that and 3) when one of my culinary school friends came over for dinner (she’s since moved). That’s it.

So we had our anti-racist FHE to at least start a conversation with her. We started simple:

1) God made us in all different colors, and he loves all of his children exactly the same. No one is better than anyone else because of skin color.

2) There are people in the world who think that people with different skin colors are bad. God doesn’t like that kind of thinking.

3) Abe read us this quote:
“I remind you that no man who makes disparaging remarks concerning those of another race can consider himself a true disciple of Christ. Nor can he consider himself to be in harmony with the teachings of the Church of Christ. ”

Amen and good night.

My new cleaning pal

This morning I took it slow. Other than getting a run in on the treadmill, I basically did nothing all morning (aside from keeping the girls alive).

Things picked up after quiet time, though. Lydia and I shucked corn, and I almost wilted in the heat. Afterward we retreated back into the house for a cooking, cleaning, and laundry marathon.

IMG_9169After Abe came home, we ate dinner and played a vigorous game of chase.

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Taking a break from chase.

Taking a break from chase.

Then we went to Target to buy this dreamy device:

A carpet and hardwood floor scrubber/steamer! 1000 scrubs per minute! Lightweight! I can't wait to try it tomorrow!!!!

A carpet and hardwood floor scrubber/steamer! 1000 scrubs per minute! Lightweight! I can’t wait to try it tomorrow!!!!

Abe is downstairs duck taping the bag for our old vacuum. We don’t have replacement bags since it is over two decades old, and in order for my steamer to work, you need to follow up with a vacuum. Buying a new vacuum is next on our list. (Actually, we intended to buy a new vacuum today, but I got seduced by the steamer.)

An ideal morning (and class again)

This morning was PERFECT. If every morning could be like this one, I’d have it made! The kids slept in, so before I got them for breakfast, I had a chance to read scriptures, write in my scripture journal, run two miles (on the treadmill in the basement), and take a shower. It was wonderful.

Then I fed the kids breakfast, after which Mary asked for a nap and Lydia asked for quiet time. Um, sure? I put them down and practiced for an hour before I got them up to go to Lydia’s swimming lesson. I spent the entire lesson chasing Mary outside. She loves being chased. Then it was lunch and more quiet time. I got another two hours of piano in, plus folded a load of laundry AND tidied/cleaned the house.

Then Lydia and I went outside for a nail painting party.

IMG_9059 IMG_9060 IMG_9061Then I fed the girls a snack before leaving for school.

I have so much anxiety before class these days. I basically spiritually crawl to the feet of Jesus the whole car ride to school and beg for help/strength to make it through class. So far, that tactic has served me well. Tonight went great. I made ratatouille, a fish dish, a sauce, escargot, and some vinaigrette.

My ratatouille and my teammate's mousse.

My ratatouille and my teammate’s mousse.

My escargot. The culinary genius in the class was the mastermind behind the plating.

My escargot. The culinary genius in the class was the mastermind behind the plating.

My sloppy plating of my teammate's pork tenderloin. I found out all about plating spoons today, and I want to buy one before the next class. A plating spoon would help me control the lines of the sauce so much better.

My sloppy plating of my teammate’s pork tenderloin. I found out all about plating spoons today, and I want to buy one before the next class. A plating spoon would help me control the lines of the sauce so much better.

The culinary genius, Jon, told me afterward that a good trick is to simply spoon the sauce around the fish, or spoon it in two random spots right next to the fish (so it looks like the fish is sitting on top of the sauce). I will try that next time. I was happy with the way the veggies on top looked, though.

The culinary genius, Jon, told me afterward that a good trick is to simply spoon the sauce around the fish, or spoon it in two random spots right next to the fish (so it looks like the fish is sitting on top of the sauce). I will try that next time. I was happy with the way the veggies on top looked, though.

Movie marathon

Yesterday one of the lifeguards told me I could swim with Mary during Lydia’s lesson. I then promised Mary she could finally go swimming at Lydia’s next lesson instead of watching Lydia longingly, but when we got there the head lifeguard told me I’d been misinformed. Poor Mary! I didn’t know how I was going to break the bad news, especially since she was already in her swimsuit and practically hyperventilating with anticipation.

Thankfully, the lifeguard took one look at her and said, “Oh, look at her! How could I say no? Just this once…” Yay! So Mary and I swam while Lydia had her lesson.

That was really the only activity of note today. The rest of the day was just homework, laundry, cooking, and marathon naps from both girls. They didn’t sleep in, so I guess they were making up for yesterday’s late bedtimes during their naps.

After naps, Lydia helped  me make a souffle.

After naps, Lydia helped me make a souffle.

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I had a hunch there wouldn't be anything exciting to take pictures of, so I just snapped some of Mary eating her snack.

I had a hunch there wouldn’t be anything exciting to take pictures of, so I just snapped some of Mary eating her snack.

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I made a gorgonzola, cherry, and almond souffle. It was inspired by Bittman's apricot and goat cheese recipe, and I think it turned out great. What didn't turn out great were my strips of sauteed eggplant. I struggled to get that right in class and decided to practice today, but it was a disaster. I think I'm just going to return to baking and broiling eggplant in the future.

I made a gorgonzola, dried cherry, and almond souffle. It was inspired by Mark Bittman’s apricot and goat cheese recipe, and I think it turned out great. What didn’t turn out great were my strips of sauteed eggplant. I struggled to get that right in class and decided to practice today, but it was a disaster. I think I’m just going to return to baking and broiling eggplant in the future.

Abe bought me flowers yesterday. Aren't they cheerful?

Abe bought me flowers yesterday. Aren’t they cheerful?

After dinner, we all watched Aladdin in memory of Robin Williams, who died today. I have mixed emotions about Disney princesses, and Princess Jasmine and Ariel top my list as way-too-sexy princess role models for young girls. For Lydia’s first two years, I feel like I put up a decent fight, but this last year I’ve just given in. I just hope the damage isn’t too severe. Lydia rolled up her shirt halfway through the movie, at which point my heart may have stopped. I suppose I should have stopped the movie right then and there. Sigh.

FHE at Temple Square

On Saturday I had Majudara for the first time (because of our O’Falafal Groupon). Imagine my excitement when this month’s issue of Cook’s Illustrated contained the recipe! It was too good to be true. I had to make the dish.

So tonight I made it, and we had the Anderson’s over for dinner because I was so excited to share the joy of this dish. And I had leftover sugared saffron sauce from class and wanted to make panna cotta again. I love it when food turns out well, and tonight I can say, with the exception of the panna cotta (too gelatinous; I should have dialed down the gelatin), everything turned out great! And we love the Andersons, so visiting with them is always fun.

Abe wanted to take a picture of the panna cotta with saffron sauce.

Abe wanted to take a picture of the panna cotta with saffron sauce.

Afterward, Abe and Mike went to help with a move in the ward, and Paige and I took the kids around Temple Square. After Paige left, Abe joined us and we walked around until almost 10pm. The girls had so much fun in the fountains. They kept throwing in pennies to make wishes, and Mary would come up to me and say, “More wishes! More wishes!” It was so cute. She was also enamored with the temple and said “bye-bye” to it about a million times.

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Ada and Lydia below the Seagull Monument. Ada brought her pet snail along for the adventure.

Ada and Lydia below the Seagull Monument. Ada brought her pet snail along for the adventure.

Watching their pennies sink to the bottom of the fountain.

Watching their pennies sink to the bottom of the fountain.

She's wet from splashing in all the fountains.

She’s wet from splashing in all the fountains.

IMG_9044 IMG_9045When we got home, both girls had a snack before going to bed. I think they were too busy playing during dinner to actually eat, so they were both very hungry.

Mary eating her post-10 pm snack. I have high hopes they will sleep in tomorrow!

Mary eating her post-10 pm snack. I have high hopes they will sleep in tomorrow!

Happy Birthday, Clark!

Today was my brother’s birthday! Happy birthday, Clark! We’re so excited to celebrate the last year of your twenties with you in New York!

It was also a very busy day here at the Darais household. This morning I took the girls on a walk/run to the park.

The view as I ran. (There was a lot of uphill going on, and I was more than happy to stop and take a picture.)

The view as I ran. (There was a lot of uphill going on, and I was more than happy to stop and take a picture.)

Lydia picked a flower.

Lydia picked a flower.

Mary cooked me food.

Mary cooked me food.

jul7pic10After that, I took the girls home for lunch and naps.

Lydia said, "Mommy, take a picture of my tortilla!" ...So I did. I think she's used to me whipping out my camera for any little thing, and in this instance she simply beat me to it.

Lydia said, “Mommy, take a picture of my tortilla!” …So I did. I think she’s used to me whipping out my camera for any little thing, and in this instance she simply beat me to it. Of course I wanted a picture of her microwaved tortilla–my culinary school skills at work! 

Then we went to a fun pool in Bountiful with our friends Rose, Taina and Sev.

I locked my phone in the locker room so it wouldn't get stolen, but I took one picture before I did that. There was a giant pirate ship in the pool, and here are the girls gearing up to be pirates.

I locked my phone in the locker room so it wouldn’t get stolen, but I took one picture before I did that. There was a giant pirate ship in the pool, and here are the girls gearing up to be pirates.

We didn’t even have time to eat dinner by the time we got home. Abe and I simply packed the girls in the jogger, attached it to a bike and took off for the canyon. We got in five miles before the light gave out.

 

Their "dinner." Go, school, go!

Their “dinner.” I am hoping Lydia doesn’t wake in the middle of the night begging for food because she’s hungry…

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