the best Christmas cookies and neighbor love

Watching the Tchaikovsky piano concerto no. 1 this morning on Youtube was so thrilling that I accidentally gave myself shin splints running to the music. But tomorrow is Christmas Eve, so lying around nursing sore legs was not an option. Instead, Lydia and I turned out several batches of Christmas cookies before we packaged them up and delivered them to our awesome neighbors.

I had never made zimsterne before, but they are my new favorite Christmas cookie.

Cinnamon stars. Oh my gosh, I can not believe I had never tried making these before. The cookie is a nut meringue with a meringue icing baked on. I could live on these, I think.

Zimsterne (cinnamon stars). Oh my gosh, I can not believe I had never tried making these before. The cookie is a nut meringue with a meringue icing baked on. I could live on these, I think.

They are perfect for making with kids. Every step is kid friendly, and Lydia was so proud of herself.

They are perfect for making with kids. Every step is kid friendly, and Lydia was so proud of herself.

After I took this photo, I taught her how to spread the icing all over the cookie.

After I took this photo, I taught her how to spread the icing all over the cookie.

This is out of order. Between the meringue-making and the cookie icing, Lydia pooped in her pants for the first time ever since we took away her diapers. She made it to the potty for most of it, but I wonder if the meringue set her off....

This is out of order. Between the meringue-making and the cookie icing, Lydia pooped in her pants for the first time ever since we took away her diapers. She made it to the potty for most of it, but I wonder if the meringue set her off….

I forgot to post this picture a couple days ago. I am so proud of this hair...even though it all fell out within a matter of hours. I need to find kid-sized bobby pins!

I forgot to post this picture a couple days ago. I am so proud of this hair…even though it all fell out within a matter of hours. I need to find kid-sized bobby pins!

Anyway, my favorite part of today was dropping off gifts to our neighbors. It felt like Halloween again; we got short visits in with so many wonderful people, and I just love my neighbors! For some crazy reason, we decided to drive the gifts around and our car got stuck in a snowbank across the street from our house. I felt SO dumb, but luckily, the three boys who live across the street pushed the car out. The whole incident made me feel even more grateful for good neighbors who have compassion and help their apparently idiotic neighbors across the street.

Abe worked late tonight, so this day that started at 6:45am did not slow down until 9pm when I finally got the girls in bed. After that, I lay in bed watching Rachmaninoff, Horowitz, Olga Kern, and Yuji Wang (respectively) play the Rachmaninoff 3rd piano concerto. At that point, Abe kicked me out of bed so he could go to bed and I could blog.

Ah, sleep.

potty rides and piano

When I wasn’t practicing piano today, I was either lying in bed or feeding my children. I’ve had a headache that I only forget to notice when I’m super focused (e.g., on the piano), so it’s been hard to get much done. Oh! But I did have a play date with Aria, Espen and Enna, which made the morning a delight. Enna waved to me! And I guess I did the treadmill this morning, so there was some activity in the day. Just not a lot.

Lydia, on the other hand had a TON of activity today. Since I was out of commission, she just ran around the house playing pretend the entire day. Even at meals she would pretend her utensils were Abe, Mary, her and me, and she’d say stuff like, “We are togever foh-ever, Ma-wee!” (Translation: “We are together forever, Mary!”).

I forgot to write down a cute exchange we had yesterday. I had been reprimanding Lydia a lot, and as I was practicing, I heard suspicious sounds coming from the kitchen. “Lydia, what are you doing?” I called out. There was a pause. “Mama, I don’t know,” came Lydia’s extremely exasperated reply. “Just pway the pwano, okay?” (Turns out she was engaging in one of her favorite forbidden activities: eating butter. Today I gave her a little lesson on how arteries clog up, and she hasn’t touched the butter since.)

Here are today’s pictures:

Before he left for work this morning, Abe gave the girls a ride.

Before he left for work this morning, Abe gave the girls a ride. Lydia’s wearing the same outfit she wore yesterday because, well, she never quite made it into pj’s last night. When she woke up, she was already dressed, so why make more work for everyone?

I made garlic mashed potatoes and wilted kale, and called it dinner.

I made garlic mashed potatoes and wilted kale and called that dinner. No one seemed to mind.

Before bed the girls got rides on the magic potty seat.

Before bed the girls got rides on the magic potty seat.

One of the girls got a faster ride than the other...

One of the girls got a faster ride than the other…

desultory paragraphs posing as a post

What, oh what to write about today. Well, whenever I run on the treadmill, I watch Youtube videos of various pianists. I love these videos so much that I am currently watching one (a master class Van Cliburn gave in Moscow) as I blog, so excuse the desultory nature of the blog I am about to write.

I got in three hours of practice today, which felt great. But by far the best part of today occurred after dinner when Abe, Lydia and I cuddled up on the couch to watch The Muppet’s Christmas Carol. Lydia spent the whole movie with her hands daintily clasped in happy anticipation of the Ghost of Christmas Future, but as soon as he made an appearance, she made an urgent plea for us to change the movie. Abe and I hugged her and reassured her, and she got to see that the Ghost of Christmas Future wasn’t quite as scary as she’d anticipated. Honestly, my eyes are so tired of screens that I spent most of the movie watching Lydia and listening to her commentary. That made my whole night.

Here are the pictures from today:

I tried this for the first time today. I found Lydia playing on the potty playing with her poop(!!!), so she had an impromptu shower. Since her hair was wet, I decided to try this braid out. It's not very even, but it's also much easier than I supposed.

I tried this for the first time today. I found Lydia playing on the potty playing with her poop(!!!), so she had an impromptu shower. Since her hair was wet, I decided to try this braid out. It’s not very even, but it’s also much easier than I supposed.

Lydia got to do my hair after i did hers.

Lydia got to do my hair after i did hers.

I vacuumed today. The whole time Mary was (happily) stuck in the basket she'd climbed into.

I vacuumed today. The whole time Mary was (happily) stuck in the basket she’d climbed into.

Lydia attired herself thus (this is chronologically out of order...pre-poop) and colored while I cleaned.

Lydia attired herself thus (this is chronologically out of order…pre-poop) and colored while I cleaned.

The girls matched today. That's Lydia dancing in the background.

The girls matched today. That’s Lydia dancing in the background.

After the girls decided not to take an afternoon nap, I took them to Tony Caputo’s for cheese and happy hippos.

This is what Mary looked like after her happy hippo.

This is what Mary looked like after her happy hippo.

The girls took a 20 minute nap at 6am, which gave me a head start on dinner. I made mac 'n cheese with Teleggio. Frankly, that was irresponsible in light of Abe's new, decreased salary. Also, I discovered that Teleggio is way better in fondue than in mac 'n cheese.

The girls took a 20 minute nap at 6am, which gave me a head start on dinner. I made mac ‘n cheese with Teleggio. Frankly, that was irresponsible in light of Abe’s new, decreased salary. Also, I discovered that Teleggio is way better in fondue than in mac ‘n cheese. The whole point of mac’n cheese is to comfort and feel familiar. Teleggio messes that all up.

This was the mess I decided not to clean this morning. Right now the room looks AMAZING, thanks to Abe's efforts while I blogged away. I would take a picture, but the camera card is in my computer, so you'll just have to trust me: He did a great job.

This was the mess I decided not to clean this morning. Right now the room looks AMAZING, thanks to Abe’s efforts while I blogged away. I would take a picture, but the camera card is in my computer, so you’ll just have to trust me: He did a great job.

 

posting a little late (or super early, depending…)

Didn’t post last night because I was feeling icky. We have a terrible inversion in Salt Lake, and I think the air is actually making me sick.

Anyway, after not sleeping much last night, I decided to get up early and blog. Grandma, I love you, and I want you to have something new to see today…although it’s probably not that exciting!

Here are the pics from yesterday:

After all of the obstacle course training, Mary is unstoppable. You are probably wondering why I am not running to get her down, but listen. She does stuff like this all day long, and I'm just glad she's not on the table. (I would forgo the picture and get her down if she had succeeded in getting on that table.)

After all of the obstacle course training, Mary is unstoppable. You are probably wondering why I am not running to get her down, but listen. She does stuff like this all day long, and I’m just glad she’s not on the table. (I would forgo the picture and get her down if she had succeeded in getting on that table.)

The girls played with my embroidery hoop all day. Here's Lydia telling us that she's wearing a crown. Mary preferred to wear it like a necklace while performing her climbing tricks.

The girls played with my embroidery hoop all day. Here’s Lydia telling us that she’s wearing a crown. Mary preferred to wear it like a necklace while performing her climbing tricks.

Also, I made sloppy lentils. I love sloppy joe's, but I don't love the meat. This has everything good about a sloppy joe with the added benefit of the lentils.

Also, I made sloppy lentils. I love sloppy joe’s, but I don’t love the meat. This has everything good about a sloppy joe with the added benefit of lentils. I found the recipe here.

 

Let’s see. We went to the Schulz’s house for a play date in the morning with Sarah, Nathan, and Hannah, and then we came home for the rest of the day. I fed and bathed the girls early, and we spent hours playing in their room. Well, the girls were playing. I just lay there while they sat on my face and climbed all over me. For some reason, they thought my sputtering and saying “OW!!” was hilarious, so that game lasted about an hour.

Of snowmen and Christmas concerts

Lydia woke up this morning screaming for chicken nuggets, which is especially funny since she’s only had them once (when we were desperate on a road trip over a year ago), and she threw them up an hour later. Abe and I spent the rest of the morning in a tired fog, and I lay in bed procrastinating my final project until noon.

We did, however, work in a Skype visit with my mom and grandma, during which they watched Lydia run through the extra-elaborate obstacle course Abe set up this morning. While he was setting it up, I was lying in bed. He kept coming over and asking for pillow after pillow until he sheepishly asked for the last one. I lay flat on my pillowless perch until we Skyped. It was pretty funny.

After I finally typed up my final, we slowly collected ourselves for our afternoon errands. Just as we were about to get in the car, Abe tested the snow and asked if he could have ten more minutes to build a snowman with the girls. Um, of course!

Building.

Building.

Bonding.

Bonding.

 

The finished product

The finished product.

Then we swung by the library and went clothes shopping for Abe. His new job is much more casual than his current job, and most of Abe’s casual clothes date back to college, high school, or even (in some choice cases), middle school. We bought him two pairs of jeans and a shirt. It’s a start.

Then we came home, and I vacuumed the most offensively dirty carpets in the house while Abe got dinner ready and fed the girls. We then rushed to bathe the girls because guess what? A couple days ago, Misty called and offered us some tickets to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir Christmas Concert at the Conference Center. Misty is the kind of friend you want to have.

We gleefully accepted her kind offer, and tonight we had such a wonderful time at the concert. The Church pulls out all the stops for its Christmas concert, and there are just no words to communicate the feast this event is for the eyes, ears, and heart. John Rhys-Davies (Gimli in Lord of the Rings) and Deborah Voigt were spectacular. John Rhys-Davies narrated the tale of how Charles Dickens came up with A Christmas Carol, and at one point he and another actor flew across the 20,000 audience members. He also read Luke 2…I wish I had a recording, because I would just play that on Christmas and call the rest of the holiday good. Deborah Voigt’s voice had me crying in song #1, and Richard Elliot’s arrangement of God Rest Ye Merry Gentleman on the organ was as acrobatic as it was, in John Rhys-Davies’ words, “pure genius.”

The program

The program

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After our joyful experience at the concert, Abe and I went about the more pragmatic task of grocery shopping. But hey, at 10pm, it felt kind of like an extension of our date. I’ll take it!

Almost. Done.

Tomorrow I turn in my last final. I just submitted my second final project (due yesterday) online. At class tonight I submitted the project I did yesterday night. I am tired. And so, without further ado, here are today’s pictures:

We had a play date and dinner, with our friend, Jill, and her four kids.

We had a play date and dinner, with our lovely friend, Jill, and her four sweet kids. Her husband is deployed right now, and I have no idea how she does it. But she is amazing, and she does it.

I came upstairs to discover Lydia trying to convince Megan, Lillian, and Nolan to watch her go potty. Maybe we have praised her too much; she now thinks that going to the potty is akin to a performing art--something everyone would enjoy seeing!

I came upstairs to discover Lydia trying to convince Megan, Lillian, and Nolan to watch her go potty. Maybe we have praised her too much; she now thinks that going to the potty is akin to a performing art–something everyone would enjoy seeing.

[Too much] piano, and cookies

I practiced for hours today.

I felt so bad about neglecting Lydia for that long, so after a couple hours I stopped and we did this:

We made gingerbread cookies together.

We made gingerbread cookies together.

Lydia liked the whole process very much.

Lydia liked the whole process very much.

When Mary woke up from her nap, she refused to eat anything except our gingerbread cookies. I don't know how she did it because they are hard, but she made a couple disappear with only her 3 teeth.

When Mary woke up from her nap, she refused to eat anything except our gingerbread cookies. I don’t know how she did it because they are hard, but she made a couple disappear with only her 3 teeth.

Some of the finished products.

Some of the finished products.

Lydia spent my practice time watching Sesame Street DVD’s and entertaining herself.

Ever since I taught Lydia how to load books on cd in the cd player, we have been listening to Marian Anderson sing. We have a ton of other books on tape checked out, but this is Lydia's (and our) favorite.

Ever since I taught Lydia how to load books on cd in the cd player, we have been listening to Marian Anderson sing. We have a ton of other books on tape checked out, but this is Lydia’s (and our) favorite.

She keeps telling me that I need to go buy her some pedals for her bike.

She keeps telling me that I need to go buy her some pedals for her bike. In fact, that is exactly what she is saying to me in this picture.

Mary was sleepy today. We put her down for her first nap shortly after Abe (!) took this shot. She proceeded to sleep for the next four hours. That's more like it.

Mary was sleepy today. We put her down for her first nap shortly after Abe (!) took this shot. She proceeded to sleep for the next four hours. That’s more like the Mary I know!

We had a field trip to Muir Farms (really a food distribution center) today, and Abe took the girls to the ward Christmas party during my field trip. Lydia asked Santa to please bring her cat back to her, and Mary spent the party toddling everywhere.

My field trip was done a little early, so I spent the rest of the evening practicing.

IMG_5629

I really need to put the brakes on the piano, but it feels so wonderful to play. Tomorrow is Saturday, though, so I hope to realign my priorities and spend more time with my family starting tomorrow.

Also, Abe got REALLY exciting news today. I hate veiled communication, but such is necessary until Monday. Suffice it to say, we have felt God’s compassionate intervention in some of Abe’s challenges at work, and Abe’s prayers were answered today.

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!