competition upload complete!

Thanks to the combined baby-sitting efforts of Tom, Suzanne, and my mom, Abe and I were able to sneak off to the temple this morning. Some of the women who worked in initiatories radiated so much light and intelligence that they reminded me of my mom, and then I got to thinking: How do I get from point A (who I am now) to point B (where my mom and these women are)? Maybe it’s a matter of time, experience, and perhaps more suffering. But maybe it’s also a matter of constant mental discipling; I need to consistently notice and replace any thoughts that don’t serve a compassionate or loving cause. That’s hard! But I really, really, really, really want to be a wiser, kinder person by the time I’m a grandma, so I figure no time like the present to get started.

On that note, I will refrain from stating all of the negative, self-critiquing commentary that bubbled up when I watched the videos I recorded tonight. My competition deadline is December 31st, so Abe helped me record some pieces tonight. I won’t even post the Brahams, because after watching it I realized I need to overhaul the whole piece…but here are the Chopin Scherzo no. 2 and the first movement of Bach’s Italian Concerto.

Also, today’s pictures:

I tried making zimsterne again for my grandma. My mom went back to Springfield this afternoon, so this was another early morning project...

I tried making zimsterne again for my grandma. My mom went back to Springfield this afternoon, so this was another early morning project…

My mom loves her new scarf from Karin and wanted me to take a picture in case Karin reads this entry.

My mom loves her new scarf from Karin and wanted me to take a picture.

Lydia loves being with her cat again.

Lydia loves being with her cat again.

She gets wistful when she thinks about his adventures and says, "I hope my cat stays with me!"

She gets wistful when she thinks about his adventures and says, “I hope my cat stays with me!”

She also dressed herself today.

She also dressed herself today.

More fun with Puss.

More fun with Puss.

Mary hugged me when I got back from the temple. Instead of hugging her back, I took advantage of the camera in my hands and got this instead.

Mary hugged me when I got back from the temple. Instead of hugging her back, I took advantage of the camera in my hands and got this instead.

While I was practicing before my recordings, Abe let Lydia wear this headlamp and be Dora the Exploreer. They explored the whole house and then did crafts in the dark.

While I was practicing before my recordings, Abe let Lydia wear this headlamp and be Dora the Exploreer. They explored the whole house and then did crafts in the dark.

A perfect ending

I started off the day with an 8am session of Bikram Yoga. It felt awesome, and I hit 180 minutes of exercise this week! When I saw my doctor last week, he said to shoot for 150 minutes, so it felt really great to meet that goal.

I also finished the Book of Mormon yesterday, so I started again on the title page today. I have been thinking a lot about truth, courage, and missionary work lately. Missionary work confuses me, but thinking about it in terms of absolute truths helps me understand it a little better. Finishing and restarting a reading of the Book of Mormon always gets the juices flowing around truth, so my scripture study felt meaningful.

I even got some practice in, although my piano is by a huge window and can NEVER stay in tune. Right now it’s so out of tune I almost shudder to hear some registers (especially the upper), but I pressed on (!) through the awful sounds.

We also played in the snow today. Abe is sure that by the end of winter we will have a full blown snow fort, so he and the girls worked hard on it today:

Working hard on the snow fort.

Working hard on the snow fort.

Mary was at the ready.

Mary was at the ready.

And happy about it.

And happy about it.

:Lydia busied herself decorating the ground with snow angels.

:Lydia busied herself decorating the ground with snow angels.

The snow fort.

The snow fort.

We also went to This is the Place Heritage Park for their Candlelight Christmas with Balu, Tom, Suzanne, Steve, Charlie and Henry. We walked all over, sampling gingerbread, square dancing, learning about the first Christmas cards, signing Santa’s lists, meeting Santa, eating the best doughnuts I have ever had, and feeling moved by the live Nativity. Lydia spent the whole day anticipating the Baby Jesus and kept talking about how she would be quiet and not wake him, how she’d give him a binky, and how she’d take off her gloves when she saw him (I have no idea about that last part, but she was adamant…). Anyway, I love that place. To make it even better, at the end, Abe bought me a new wedding ring!!! I can only wear a plain band in my lab classes, and we found a plain silver band for $14.50!!!!!! It fit perfectly, and since I’ll probably wear it for the next decade, I could not be more pleased.

Mary Berry in her poof outfit. She toddled all around the park in this and kind of stole the show.

Mary Berry in her poof outfit. She toddled all around the park in this and kind of stole the show.

When I came home, I baked more cookies.

I baked a forest of bittersweet chocolate Christmas trees. Now if I can just get around to packaging them and giving them away before I eat them all...

I baked a forest of bittersweet chocolate Christmas trees. Now if I can just get around to packaging them and giving them away before I eat them all…

Oh! I made another pint of lemon curd today. I think I’m going to make this for Christmas brunch. It just so happens I have a lot of mascarpone and now a ton of lemon curd in the fridge already. Now I just have to make a million crepes and it’ll be all downhill from there.

And now, my mom is here!!! So I’m going to stop blogging and go talk to her.

Loving: today.

This morning we got off to a rocky, tantrum-y start; I even had the thought, “Oh, no! It’s only 8:30am and I’ve already had it up to HERE with being a mom!” …but things got better as soon as I took the girls to the Gateway Children’s Museum. They had so much fun playing in the water, “shopping,” climbing up stuff, and decorating paper stockings. We were the only ones who signed up for the stocking class, so they had the whole quiet craft room to themselves. It was such a nice note to end on, and the girls were both perfectly behaved–Mary didn’t even poop until we got back home. So considerate of her.

Lydia and I spent Mary’s nap reading a bunch of Christmas stories and playing the Primary book’s Christmas songs together, and at dinner I almost lost my voice cheering for every single bite Lydia took of her squash. (She took approximately 30…I lost count around 23 because around then I started cheering and playing high-five and tickle/hug games with Lydia in between each bite.) I cuddled Mary a lot, and basically enjoyed my children for the rest of the day. I ended up LOVING being a mom today.

After the kids went down, I learned a really simple, sweet piece called “Shepherd Boy,” by Grieg. The meditative, soft progression of the notes helped me reflect on the Good Shepherd and on the shepherds that visited Jesus. Considering one of my recording deadlines is fast approaching (the end of December–YIKES!), this was ultimately a foolish way to spend the limited time I have at the piano. But it also made my evening feel perfect, so I guess I don’t regret it that much.

I then discovered that Talenti ice cream containers are the perfect way to store the lemon curd I made today. I polished off the rest of the ice cream just in case I need another container tomorrow…

lemon curd.

My friend, Cierra, gave me this recipe. It didn’t turn out like hers because I had to attend to several emergencies while I was supposed to be stirring, but it was still delicious. Here’s where she got her recipe.

The only thing that would make the evening even better is if Abe had not JUST started his trip home from Rock Springs. I hate him traveling those middle-of-nowhere roads in the middle of the night, but guess what? This is his last trip with Guardsmark! Hip, hip, hooray!

And so for today’s pictures:

Why did I cuddle Mary so much today? Well, she missed her morning nap because of our outing, and she was a little sad for the rest of the day. Also, she kept getting stuck on this chair.

Why did I cuddle Mary so much today? Well, she missed her morning nap because of our outing, and she was a little sad for the rest of the day. Also, she kept getting stuck on this chair.

I forgot to post this picture from yesterday. Isn't it cute?

I forgot to post this picture from yesterday. Isn’t it cute?

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.

 

Dinner with Jessica

Lydia had two nightmares last night, so her 7am request for tape (to fix one of the books she accidentally broke in her sleep) came a little early today. I felt like such a zombie this morning, and that feeling gave me a lot more compassion for my excessively low productivity/activity level this past three years. If I felt that sleep deprived (and let’s be honest, having a newborn and/or pregnancy is light years away from a mere two-nightmare night), then I should be celebrating the fact that I even managed to function at all.  Piano practice and cooking school would not even be remote possibilities under that level of fatigue.

During Mary’s nap, I made a beeline for bed. After that, I felt much better. So much better that I took the kids to the grocery store and the library. Then I cooked for the rest of the day because my responsible friend from cooking school, Jessica, came over for dinner.

She is a passionate foodie, so I wanted to try something I hadn’t done before. After scrolling through food blogs, I settled upon this post. Don’t those squash rings look dear? Well, let me tell you: They’re insanely, ridiculously complicated, especially if you, like me, have no knife skills to speak of. I practically lost my hand trying to cut those stupid squash rings, and finally, after hacking an entire acorn squash to bits and getting one ONE measly little ring out of it, I said to heck with it. Stuffed squash for dinner it was.

I should have glazed the squash with butter and maple syrup, but I was so demoralized by my cutting fiasco that I neglected the rest of the instructions.

Looks dry, doesn’t it? I should have glazed the squash with butter and maple syrup, but I was so demoralized by my cutting fiasco that I neglected to follow the rest of the directions.

By the time I took this picture, I had put the rest of the food (whipped sweet potatoes and roasted broccoli) away. Dessert was still on the table though.

Chocolate amaretto cake. Basically, you grind up amaretto cookies, zest some orange, melt some chocolate, add eggs and sugar, bake and voila! For the real recipe, click here.

Chocolate amaretto cake. Basically, you grind up amaretto cookies, zest some orange, melt some chocolate, add eggs and sugar, bake and voila! For the real recipe, click here. I can actually really vouch for this one–I’ve done it many times, and it’s pretty foolproof.

We so enjoyed our time with Jessica. We learned a lot about the military (she spent ten years in it, and even was in the head trauma unit in both Iraq and Afghanistan), and I had my heartstrings pulled by her personal stories. What a wonderful person.

In kid-related news, Mary has now learned to climb the stove. I kid you not. Tomorrow I will try to rearrange the kitchen, but in the meantime I have random pieces of furniture strewn everywhere from my various attempts to block her progress.

This is where she perched while I cooked. She'd alternate between eating her amaretto cookie and standing up to see if she could reach anything interesting on the counter.

This is where she perched while I cooked. She’d alternate between eating her amaretto cookie and standing up to see if she could reach anything interesting on the counter.

Being a mom was fun today.

I went grocery shopping before Abe left to work today because I simply could not bear the thought of attempting that with two girls in the snow. As soon as I returned, we loaded the girls up in my car and I took them to the library to pay down the $25 I have in fines. I “pay” these down by reading to my children, sometimes for hours at a time. The library credits you with $1 for every ten minutes you read to one child. Since I have two children, I get $2   instead. Today our reading session was cut short by Mary, who became a little sad an hour and a half after her normal morning nap time. I still paid down $8.40, though! It felt great.

Mary picking out a book at the library.

Mary picking out a book at the library.

Lydia doing the same.

Lydia doing the same.

 

After the library, looking happy that she gets to eat and nap soon.

After the library, looking happy that she gets to eat and nap soon.

After the library, I proceeded to have a fantastic day. The only thing missing from yesterday and today has been exercise, but other than that, I feel absolutely no panic or stress. I’ve come to terms with the sub-par work I’ve been handing in at school, and I’ve started restoring balance by spending more time with my kids. Reading to them lowers my stress level and makes me feel better, and so I’ve decided to start scheduling that into my daily goals just like I schedule in the piano, scriptures, school, and exercise.  Hopefully that will help.

And Lydia is back to doing quiet time without any type of protest, so that makes my life AWESOME. Today Mary took a three hour nap, and Lydia’s quiet time extended to three hours because she elected to take a nap, too. I spent that whole time wasting my life on the internet, but you know what? After mindlessly staring at my iPad for three hours, I emerged the best, most attentive mom I’ve been–ever? I really think it’s ever. I told Abe on the phone that I have never been as nice or as fun a mom as I was this evening, and I wish I could be that way all the time!

We read books and pretended to eat the food Mary cooked for us in their play kitchen.

We read books and pretended to eat the food Mary cooked for us in their play kitchen.

After accidentally kneeling in a puddle of Mary’s pee (she peed with anticipation upon seeing the bath fill up), I jumped into the bath with my kids and let them wash my hair and scrub my peed-on knees with soap. They seemed to have so much fun that I didn’t even need to get the bath toys wet. Plus I got clean, and since I’m not sure when I last showered, that’s no small boon.

Abe’s out of town tonight, so I think I will continue my irresponsible behavior and waste more time online now…

When Abe leaves town, sometimes he leaves me notes around the house. It's so sweet. Today I came home and found a bunch of notes on the walls. Here's one (in the background).

When Abe leaves town, sometimes he leaves me notes around the house. It’s so sweet. Today I came home and found a bunch of notes on the walls. Here’s one (in the background).

Oh! I almost forgot. Lydia said the cutest prayer by herself tonight. She said thank-you that Daddy, Mama and Nana all love Mary and her so much, and then she added a thank-you for her cat. She then said that she thought the cat would not mind if she went on a trip and bought him a gift. And then she went off on a long tangent about what would happen on her trip…

A little later, after the girls were in bed, I listened at the door and heard Lydia entertaining Mary with tales about our India trip. She said, “India is a place where we go to stay. You can have lunch there, Mary, and I will dance. Dance, dance, dance!” (She did some dancing at one of the wedding parties there.)

Abe’s new job!!!

Abe officially accepted a new job with Qualtrics today!! He is elated, and after putting in his two weeks notice with his current job, he feels over-the-moon with joy. It’s been a long road, but the end is finally in sight. Yay, Abe!!! I am so happy for him. He has worked so hard for so long, and he finally gets to join a healthy, happy company. Woo-hoo!!

We won’t be moving right away, but since the commute is about an hour (Qualtrics is based out of Provo), we will be moving to Provo at some point in time.

I am really excited to be close to BYU, because after cooking school I would LOVE to get a masters degree in religion. How convenient will it be to live right next to BYU? So convenient! Plus it’s one of three google fiber cities in the U.S., and the mountains are right there.

The downside: Provo is even more homogeneous than Salt Lake, if that’s possible. Scaaarrry. Also, I will miss Misty.

She came over for a play date today, and the girls baked cookies together.

Lydia said, "Sophia, sweet-hawt, come here!" and then, when Sophia was rolling out the cookie dough: "Sophia, honey, there's dough sticking to the rowing pin. Wet me hewp you." (Lydia loves Sophia.)

Lydia said, “Sophia, sweet-hawt, come here!” and then, when Sophia was rolling out the cookie dough: “Sophia, honey, there’s dough sticking to the rowing pin. Wet me hewp you.” (Lydia loves Sophia, and she also can’t pronounce “L” yet.)

Sophia loved patting the dough into a ball.

Sophia loved patting the dough into a ball.

Here they are playing chase around the house.

Here they are playing chase around the house.

...And I'm in love with Mary's chubby little legs.

…And I’m in love with Mary’s chubby little legs.

Mary lives--and I don't think I'm exaggerating--on clementines. One rolled under the butcher block, and she was determined to get it back.

Mary lives–and I don’t think I’m exaggerating–on clementines. One rolled under the butcher block, and she was determined to get it back.

Today was a great day. To make it even better, I was STARVING during the girls’ naps because when it’s snowy outside, the last thing I ever want to do is go grocery shopping. Anique called me out of the blue and dropped off some delicious baked beans and butternut squash soup. It was so sweet! I couldn’t even believe it. Not only did Abe get a new job and I get to spend the morning with Misty, but when hunger hit, food and a friend showed up at my door. Lucky me!

Also, my revised blog post is now up at Mormon Momma. The last paragraph at the end is the result of my sleepless, guilt-ridden nights after writing the original article.

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!

The Big Confession. I.e., I am a [well intentioned!!!!!] hypocrite.

Okay, I haven’t been able to sleep well since I wrote my little blurb on modesty, so I’ve decided to air the reasons why the post was so hypocritical. Please don’t get me wrong; I believe absolutely everything I wrote, but in terms of “walking the walk,” um, I certainly don’t (or at least didn’t use to) walk it. I intend to do better in the present and the future, but, as many of my previous roommates can attest, I certainly didn’t adhere to those guidelines in the past.

Okay, it hurts to even type this, but after my mission I spent approximately $10,000 on laser hair removal. (The first rounds didn’t work, so I had to start from the beginning in grad school.) Take that, poor people of the world! Also, I’m sure I have spent no less than hundreds of hours trying to tame my hair (and hogging plenty of mirrors…sorry, ex-roommies!). And, as long as I am confessing, during stressful periods of my life, I also have engaged in major spurts of “retail therapy.” A saint in the spending department I am not.

But my studies recently have led me to my present views on modesty, and since life is all about learning and moving forward in continually enlightened states, I am hoping to do better in the future. I hope my daughters will do better than I did in the modesty department, but I guess even if they succumb to the beauty culture that saturates our society, that’s not the end of the world, right? Hopefully they can keep learning and moving on, too, and I hope I can give them and everyone else lots of room to do that. (Also, if any one of them wants laser hair removal, I WILL fund that for them. I’ll try to offset that offensive spending by serving missions from age 50-death.)

Okay. Lots more skeletons in my closet, but at least those are the ones that kept me up at night recently. Maybe I can finally sleep well tonight?

Also, in terms of today, it has an icky feeling about it. Abe got some really bad news in his private off-the-blog life, and I just feel so sick for him. He’s so resilient and optimistic, but it pains me to see such a good person endure a trial.

Before I heard his bad news, I let Lydia have “do-whatever-you-want” time, which is different than quiet time because she’s allowed to leave her room. It was an experiment, and it worked! Lately, she’s had an allergic reaction to the start of “quiet time,” and even though once it started she appeared to have fun, I just felt bad about how much she didn’t like starting quiet time. Anyway, the only rule in “do-whatever-you-want” time is that she can’t interrupt my piano practice, and she did great! She even wandered into the living room and played near me at times, but she never interrupted. Considering I got in three hours of practice and made dinner, this was a toddler feat.

Also, all I did during practice was try to memorize the really simple, one page Traumerai. I can not even begin to describe how difficult that simple task was for my burnt out brain. After all that work, I doubt if I try to play it from memory tomorrow I will succeed. Well, who even knows if I’ll get a chance since we have a four-hour wedding and then Diwali in the evening.

That’s my cue to post pictures…:

Cookie break at Whole Foods this morning.

Cookie break at Whole Foods this morning.

Post-lunch, pre-nap play.

Post-lunch, pre-nap play.

Better go get the phone!

Better go get the phone!

Mommy, it's for you!

Mommy, it’s for you!

Lydia waiting for me to stop taking pictures and start reading to her already.

Lydia waiting for me to stop taking pictures and start reading to her already.