Christmas Eve

Merry Christmas! Technically, it’s already Christmas. All I can say is, at least Abe and I are not in the throes of assembling Lydia’s kitchen–which is what we were doing last Christmas until 3am. He’s still downstairs wrapping the last present and tidying up, and I am typing as fast as I can so we can go to bed. Tomorrow I have to get up at 6 am to start the orange rolls.

Today has been loooong. It started with scriptures and Bikram yoga–a delightful combination, made better by Anique’s company at yoga. Then we both did some last minute grocery shopping, after which Abe and I went to Barnes and Noble to do our Christmas shopping. Before today, we had not even started to think about the process. The busy mall comforted us and helped us feel better about the fact that we are not the only procrastinators of the season.

Then I came home and played some piano, after which we headed over to the Miner’s for their Christmas Eve celebration. They do readings, songs and a talent show of sorts, so that was fun. I always miss the First Presbyterian Church of Evanston on Christmas Eve, because the pageant there never failed to bring home the story of Christ’s birth for me. But since there’s no similar event here, it is really nice to celebrate with Suzanne’s family. Plus they have a great cookie buffet at the end.

After that, we put out cookies and a letter for Santa, and we told the girls to listen for the reindeer as they fell asleep. Abe shook some bells outside their door and said, “Ho! Ho! Ho!” We could hear Lydia inside telling Mary to be good and that Santa was here to bring her cat back.

Then I made stratas for our brunch tomorrow, and Abe wrapped all of the presents. We still have to order some gifts online, and then we’ll be done and ready for bed!

Here are today’s pictures:

The girls started the day in bed with Nana reading books.

The girls started the day in bed with Nana reading books.

Lydia sometimes cries so much she gets a nosebleed. Or she picks her nose to the point where she gets a nosebleed. I think the latter happened here.

Lydia sometimes cries so much she gets a nosebleed. Or she picks her nose to the point where she gets a nosebleed. I think the latter happened here.

Leaving cookies for Santa.

Leaving cookies for Santa.

Writing a note to Santa.

Writing a note to Santa.

The note Lydia helped dictate to Abe.

The note Lydia helped dictate to Abe.

See that blue bag? I didn't see it until this evening, but Abe brought it up from where he's been storing it, and it turns out that Clark and Swathi sent us a microwave for Christmas! Those two. They are the sweetest siblings ever. But Abe has been eyeing the bag the microwave came in, and he used it as "Santa's sack." Also, note Lydia's cat peeking out of her stocking. We are so excited for her to reunite with him!

See that blue bag? I didn’t see it until this evening, but Abe brought it up from where he’s been storing it, and it turns out that Clark and Swathi sent us a microwave for Christmas! Those two. They are the sweetest siblings ever. But Abe has been eyeing the bag the microwave came in, and he used it as “Santa’s sack.” Also, note Lydia’s cat peeking out of her stocking. We are so excited for her to reunite with him!

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.

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…

all sorts of ugh

I know there is disease, terror, hardship, poverty, war, abuse, exploitation, neglect, famine, and all sorts of horror in the world. Even typing that acknowledgment makes me feel extra small for what I am about to complain about. But on this blog I am trying the best I can to honestly portray the good, bad and ugly about my life for my primary audience: my children, grandchildren and descendents in general. Also, of course, my mom and grandma. (Hi, Mom and Grandma! It was wonderful talking to you yesterday!!) But I think every day about how connectedness with those who went before me strengthens me, and I want my children and descendents to find strength in our shared experiences and struggles.

I sincerely hope none of my daughter descendents come out with the self-image and weight issues I have, but if they do, at least they’ll know they weren’t alone. I have been sick and unable to work out for about a week, and in that week I have gained so much weight it is simply depressing. I wish my world would not shrink to the size of my expanded waistline when there are so many other important things to care about or do, but the truth is, at times like these, my weight just gets me down.

Also, today was a cleaning day, so I didn’t shower or put on a bra or brush my hair for most of the day. Lydia spent hours in front of Elmo while I lay in bed reading and sleeping and giving myself pep talks so I could get to all the cleaning that needed to happen.

This evening we were invited to Fleur’s one-year birthday party, and since Anique is so free-spirited and kind, I figured I could just go as is–without a bra, without having brushed my hair, and in the clothes I slept in the night before. As we pulled up to her house, I saw a woman walking toward her door in–no joke–high heels and earrings so sparkly I could see them across the street in the dark. At times like that, I really hate living in Utah. The emphasis on appearance here makes me totally crazy (one infamous example I cannot erase from memory: on the free day at the zoo, I saw numerous stay-at-home moms dressed like they thought they were going shopping in New York City. I was dumbfounded and slightly a lot judgmental. I need to be a better disciple.) I could understand this kind of emphasis if we lived on the East Coast or even a major metropolis, but please, people. This is the Rocky Mountain West. And that was a zoo.

Or maybe I’m just mad and jealous because the extra thirty pounds I’m carrying around means I can’t dress like that. Who knows? I don’t, but I do know that when I saw Exhibit A walking to the door, I did the cowardly thing and went back home to change. At the end of the day, it probably was more considerate to pretend I hadn’t been cleaning toilets all day. Although I still forgot to brush my hair.

Oh, and the hypochondriac in me is now sure I have Crohn’s Disease. I am calling my physician sister-in-law tomorrow because I’m sure Instacare would do me no good. So I guess today was just that kind of day.

I clearly didn’t bother to brush Lydia’s hair today, either. Here’s my little Bellatrix LeStrange:

IMG_5200

categories

So I just now got around to adding categories to my blog. I’m hoping I can cut down on the boring cataloging of daily activities and instead just check boxes. It feels so exciting! I basically created a to-do list with stuff I normally do, and when I check off those boxes, I’ll feel like I accomplished stuff during the day. When I first started this exercise five minutes ago, I was sure I had done nothing today. But holy cow, nothing feels better than making a to-do list of stuff you’ve already done; I feel like a rock star, even though I spent most of the day in bed!!

But I guess this day did have some activity in it. Anique, one of the ladies I visit teach, had a hair appointment this morning and needed a last-minute babysitter, so I watched her daughter for a couple hours. During that time, I had a wonderful spiritual experience. First of all, I was nervous about babysitting since her daughter is about the same age as Mary, and I could not quite visualize how things would play out when I had two crying babies on my hands. (How do mothers of multiples do it?!) However, I prayed hard that God would help me figure out how to get Fleur to sleep (she was yawning and obviously exhausted, and the only way she goes to sleep normally is through nursing–can’t do that–or a ride in the stroller–another non-option), and then I put her in her car seat and rocked her. Within two minutes, the sweet thing was asleep, and I felt like God had directly answered my prayer–especially since minutes later, Mary woke up from her nap. Whew! It felt like a miracle, because until that point, Fleur made it abundantly clear that she preferred her mommy, and all attempts at entertainment were a no-go.

When Anique returned from her hair appointment, we visited until Fleur woke up. She wanted to see the house, so I gave her a quick tour. When we got to my closet, she observed that I have an extremely limited wardrobe. (This fact only bothers me when I get down to a two-shirt rotation, which, since my wardrobe is that limited, happens more often than you’d think.) BUT THEN! Then sweet Anique went on to offer me a bunch of her clothes! Her brother-in-law owns a boutique full of bohemian style clothing, which just happens to be right up my alley. Weather permitting, I would wear hippie skirts every day if I only had enough in the rotation. Comfy, colorful, and the same elastic waistband I get in pj’s, yoga pants, and–it just so happens–my chef pants. Is life a bowl of cherries or what?

Another great thing that happened today: Our piano got tuned! I love our piano tuner. He is a very sweet older gentleman who served a mission in the Philippines and loves Filipinos. Ever since he found out I am half Filipino, He ascribes any display of good behavior on my part to the fact that I am half Filipino. It is very funny and endearing.

After a morning full of such excitement, Abe came home early since he had to leave town tonight. When he came home, I went straight to bed because I could feel myself getting sicker every hour. Right now I have a pretty sore throat, and I’m sure if I don’t wrap up soon and go to bed, it will get worse. I put the kids down half an hour early with the hopes that more sleep for them would translate into more sleep for me.

I don't know if it's inappropriate to post pictures of my toddler on the potty, but I think she is SO cute when she goes. She sits there swinging her legs and singing to herself.

I don’t know if it’s inappropriate to post pictures of my toddler on the potty, but I think she is SO cute when she goes. She sits there swinging her legs and singing to herself.

These two pics were from a couple days ago and I just forgot to post them then. I can't believe I forgot to post them since I LOVE the fact that Lydia wears elf slippers around the house.

These two pics were from a couple days ago and I just forgot to post them then. I can’t believe I forgot to post them since I love the fact that Lydia wears elf slippers around the house.

 

I accidentally switched the camera button to "manual" instead of "auto," and for most of the day I thought my camera was broken. I really need to read the manual. Anyway, Abe took this picture when he was trying to figure out what was wrong with my camera.

I accidentally switched the camera button to “manual” instead of “auto,” and for most of the day I thought my camera was broken. I really need to read the manual. Anyway, Abe took this picture when he was trying to figure out what was wrong with my camera.

Mary and I were bonding.

Mary and I were bonding.

And then Mary crawled up and down the stairs for half an hour while Abe and I made sure she didn't fall.

And then Mary crawled up and down the stairs for half an hour while Abe and I made sure she didn’t fall.

She learned this "trick" from Lydia.

She learned this “trick” from Lydia.

She crawled until she exhausted herself. For twenty minutes it was all smiles and giggles, and then suddenly she was a sobbing mess devoid of any extra energy.

She crawled until she exhausted herself. For twenty minutes it was all smiles and giggles, and then suddenly she was a sobbing mess devoid of any extra energy.