day after the day after

I started off the day trying to make zimsterne for my grandma, since my mom flies back tomorrow. They were the biggest flop! I wanted to cry by the time we were done; the kitchen was a wreck and my cookies were an ugly, sticky mess. First world problem, I know...but I still felt legitimately frustrated. Lydia felt fine about it all, though. Obviously.

Before I brushed my teeth or showered or ate breakfast I tried to make zimsterne for my grandma, since my mom flies back tomorrow. They were the biggest flop! I wanted to cry by the time we were done; the kitchen was a wreck and my cookies were an ugly, sticky mess. First world problem, I know…but I still felt legitimately frustrated.

I spent the rest of the morning and most of the day organizing. That felt great.

Abe did Insanity again with the girls:

IMG_6098 IMG_6102

After cleaning, I jumped right into cooking for our dinner party with two of our friends, Jon and Shirley. Abe is marrying them this May, and so they wanted to talk about what goes into all of that. Balu came too, and so the occasion felt festive (made even more so by the fact that 10 minutes before everyone arrived, both girls changed out of their pj’s…)

I tried the squash rings again, and it worked! I just needed smaller squashes. These are golden acorn.

I tried the squash rings again, and it worked! I just needed smaller squashes. These are golden acorn.

I had extra cheese and extra time, so why not make a souffle?

I had extra cheese and extra time, so why not make a souffle?

The most exciting news of the day just might be that our new microwave is up and working. I had no idea what a difference that would make; Abe and I agreed that the strata I made for Christmas actually tasted better microwaved than it did when we ate it the first time. Thanks, Clark and Swathi! You’ve changed our lives!

 

day after Christmas

It’s past midnight and my desk chair is currently at the dining room table because we had another family dinner tonight (with Tom, Suzanne, Jere and David). My mom and I spent the morning swimming (we each did a mile!) and grocery shopping, and the rest of the afternoon I spent cooking. The whole house smells like fried shallots, and the after-smell isn’t that great. The smell is also stuck in my hair, which is unfortunate, since I can’t escape.

In other news, Abe and I are on a movie kick! We have more than doubled the movies we’ve seen together in the last two months. Tonight we saw The Hobbit. We were a little late and sat in the front row, but I liked that because it meant that all of the scary fighting scenes were so blurry that the scariness was significantly mitigated.

Anyway, my elbows and knees are going numb, so here are today’s pictures:

Abe and Lydia did an Insanity work-out together.

IMG_6050 IMG_6052 IMG_6043 IMG_6038

I baked pears again. They are so easy! I just peeled them, put them in a buttered pan, sprinkled some cinnamon and allspice cloves on top, and put them in a 400 degree oven for 15 minutes. Then I poured some cream over them and baked for 20 more minutes. We paired these with Argentine Caramel ice cream, and voila! Yesterday's brunch food became today's dessert!

I baked pears again. They are so easy! I just peeled them, put them in a buttered pan, sprinkled some cinnamon and allspice cloves on top, and put them in a 400 degree oven for 15 minutes. Then I poured some cream over them and baked for 20 more minutes. We paired these with Argentine Caramel ice cream, and voila! Yesterday’s brunch food became today’s dessert!

After dinner, this is what we looked like. It's officially the day after Christmas.

After dinner, this is what we looked like. It’s officially the day after Christmas.

I stole Abe's chair.

I made space for myself next to my hubby.

Also, ever since the doctor told me to aim for 150 minutes of exercise a week, I have been keeping meticulous track. Today’s swim put me at 170 minutes. It is a testament to the horrific amount of sugar I intake that all this exercise manages to be consistently offset by my poor (but oh, so yummy) diet.

Another also: If anyone knows how to get fried-food smell out of your house, I need your knowledge! The last time I fried food in this house was last Thanksgiving when my friend, Jennifer, heroically stepped up to the plate and fried shallots for this green bean casserole. I’m scared of splatter, so I needed her help. I made it again today because I’d a) gathered my courage and b) totally forgotten the smelly side-effect of frying…

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.

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?

An attempt at an Abe-centric post–and a video!!!

While I was trying Abe’s patience yet again this afternoon, obsessing over the question, “Am I or am I not a narcissist?” (the fact that this question consumes me on an almost daily basis seems to point to the rather unfortunate, albeit clear, answer…), he did mention that he doesn’t show up much in my blog.

AGHHH!! SO I REALLY AM ONE!!! My sweet husband, who has never said a negative thing about anyone, did not answer my question directly, but instead mildly noted his absence in my posts.

So today, instead of recording the details of my life that feel important to me (such as the fact that I am going to bed in the same outfit I wore yesterday, last night, and all day today, with the only difference being that from last night on I have not enjoyed the support of a bra), today I am determined to focus on the love of my life, my husband.

He is a wonderful dad, a perfect husband, and is in every way a superior human being to myself; it is therefore extremely unfortunate that he doesn’t show up more in this chronicle of our life. This blog would be a cheerier, holier, funnier place with more Abe and less Lily.

I give you this video of his evening with the girls. They set up an obstacle course, and by the time this video was filmed, the girls had run the course at least three times. Mary was all giggles, squeals, and smiles for rounds 1-3, but in the video she was a wee bit tired and more easily frustrated. My favorite part is at minute 4:14, where you can hear Abe direct Lydia to put a pillow under Mary’s perch so Mary doesn’t plummet and hurt herself. He and I think so differently, sometimes…Anyway, here it is:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BcDbnDf1RUg&feature=youtu.be

And here are the pictures from my day. I wish I had pictures from Abe’s, but in lieu of photographic evidence, here’s what he did, as far as I know: He went to work. He came home. He listened to me talk his ear off about myself. He watched the kids. He cleaned the house. He worked on his computer. He listened to me play the piano and provided great feedback. And right now he’s exhausted, so here I go posting my pictures for real, now:

Lydia insisted on wearing her owl costume today.

Lydia insisted on wearing her owl costume today.

She also wore an apron I decorated when I was little. (We rolled, cut out, and baked the rest of Monday's cookie dough today.)

She also wore an apron I decorated when I was little. (We rolled, cut out, and baked the rest of Monday’s cookie dough today.)

 

Mary was a little clingy today.

Mary was a little clingy today.

Mary sat with Lydia at the kid table for the first time today. This delighted both girls to no end.

Mary sat with Lydia at the kid table for the first time today. This delighted both girls to no end.

Before I took the girls outside...Mary was having trouble balancing.

Before I took the girls outside, Mary was having trouble balancing.

Can you see the beginnings of the snow fort Abe helped them start building? They LOVE it!

Can you see the beginnings of the snow fort Abe helped them start building? They LOVE it!

Before her nap, Lydia took a look at my feet and furrowed her brow. Then she said, "Actually, Mama, can I have one of your striped socks?" I acquiesced and handed over both for good measure. Minutes later she emerged from her bedroom with both of my socks on. In the video, you can see them dragging.

Before her nap, Lydia took a look at my feet and furrowed her brow. Then she said, “Actually, Mama, can I have one of your striped socks?” I acquiesced and handed over both for good measure. Minutes later she emerged from her bedroom with both of my socks on. She wore them for the rest of the day. In the video, you can see them dragging (until she pulls them off at the end of the clip).

Abe pretended to be an elephant before setting up the obstacle course. Here are the girls running away from the big, scary elephant.

Abe pretended to be an elephant before setting up the obstacle course. Here are the girls running away from the big, scary elephant. 

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.

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…