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.

almost forgot

I almost forgot to blog today. Sorry, Grandma! I was just about to head to bed when Abe asked me if I was going to blog, and I realized that I didn’t take any pictures today, so I actually have to write something.

Let’s see…Lydia had preschool this morning. Apparently she spent most of it eating. There’s something about eating in a group setting that helps her zero in on food. I think Fallon and Paige probably thought I didn’t feed Lydia breakfast, because apparently she spent almost all of preschool sitting at a table eating chocolate graham crackers.

While she was at preschool, I typed up my blog for Mormon Momma. I haven’t heard back since sending her the draft, but I’m glad it’s out of my head and out of my system. Unless she gets back to me and tells me she wants stuff changed (I’ve never done a guest blog before, so I don’t know how it works), this is what I have so far:

Bishop Eastland’s recent talk to young women provoked an explosion of emotion among members of the Church, and this outpouring has made one thing abundantly clear:

Many of us are uncomfortable with the way modesty is currently taught in the Church.

We want to promote virtue in society, but we are tired of sexist philosophies that unduly burden our women with confusing directions on how to successfully navigate the territory of “sexy modesty.”

We are eager for our daughters to understand that they need not advertise their sexuality to feel validated in our sex-sick society, but we also ardently wish that church leaders would be continually. unequivocally, even aggressively clear that no outfit gives any man the right to sexually exploit a daughter of God.

Many of us are searching for a better, clearer, more Christian way to teach the principle of modesty to our daughters. As I have studied the scriptures, one thing that has become increasingly apparent to me is that modesty might be less about hemlines and more about where our heart is. Christ, our Exemplar, spent his ministry caring for the poor and enjoining us to do the same. Could we begin to teach modesty by drawing clearer correlations between our purchasing power and our ability to help the poor? For me, modesty in our consumer habits is a purer, truer manifestation of discipleship than whether our unendowed women elect to wear a tank top on a hot day.

As disciples of Christ, should we be spending so much time and money on our appearance that we are unfamiliar with the humanitarian box on our tithing slips? Do we purchase so much stuff that we need closets the size of small bedrooms? If so, why? Why, when there are people suffering in the world for want of basic necessities, would a disciple of Christ make purchasing decisions that place selfish desires above our ability to help others?

Here’s why, in Moroni’s opinion: “For behold, ye do love amoney, and your substance, and your fine apparel, and the adorning of your churches, more than ye love the poor and the needy, the sick and the afflicted.” (Mormon 8:37)

When I teach my daughters about modesty, I will teach them that their deportment reflects their discipleship. Yes, I will tell them that they are women of substance who need not heed a worldly, overtly sexual dress code. But hopefully I will spend more time explaining to them why their shopping habits may differ from their friends’, and why I hope they feel no need to preen for hours in front of a mirror. I hope that if they are sufficiently equipped with skill-sets and a strong desire to study the word of God, they will opt out of a beauty culture that would lay claim on all of their spare time and resources.

We are disciples, and disciples have real work to do. There is room in this work for everyone, and I hope as we go about doing the best we can to align our purchasing decisions with our discipleship, we will forgo the temptation to judge fellow brothers and sisters who might not feel the same way as we do. My one fear is that this mode of teaching modesty could make us susceptible to unrighteous judgment when we notice people who may appear to have laxer standards in their purchasing habits. In all cases, the Lord’s counsel to Samuel of old is a great reminder:  “… for the Lord aseeth not as bman seeth; for man looketh on the outward cappearance, but the dLord looketh on the eheart.” (1 Samuel 16:7)

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

Errands and some funny pictures of Mary’s hair

I have not felt up to taking the girls to the grocery store, and finally last night we ran out of food. Abe and I realized that when the girls would wake up in the morning, we would literally have nothing (except for canned beans, dried pasta and condiments) to feed them. So we decided to take them to Smith’s for breakfast.

And so we did. When the girls woke up, we read a couple books to them, bundled them up and brought them to Smith’s, where Abe fed them while I shopped. In light of the situation in the Philippines, my grocery budget has been chopped in half. On normal weeks I have to operate on a cash basis to make sure I don’t go over budget (which is sad, because I loooooove credit card rewards, but I just can’t handle using one responsibly), and by the end of the week I am barely scraping by. So the past two weeks on a half-budget have been awesome exercises in self-control and discipline. I was SO proud of myself because by the end of our errands, I was sure I had more than enough food to get us through the week–and I stayed within my budget!!! A truly out-of-character accomplishment for me, let me assure you.

During our errands, we made a stop at the library where we literally busted our library book bag in an attempt to return all of the books we had checked out. It exploded right in front of the elevator. We then asked the guy at circulation if we could get a free replacement. After all, it is a bag we bought from the library for the express purpose of carrying books, and it failed to perform its function. However, he informed us that we would have to buy a replacement. Since I was at the end of my budget, buying a $2.00 library bag was an unfathomable expense, so we had to make do carrying our new stacks of freshly checked out books in (free!) plastic grocery bags.

I am SO excited about my new books! In light of the recent increased activity in my life, I have had trouble finishing my books in a timely fashion. In fact, I checked out The Paris Wife on audio in the hopes that I can finish it on my commute to and from school. I also checked out an audio book on the first woman in the government in Afghanistan, and three books: Black Folktales by Julius Lester, Flashman and the Tiger by George MacDonald Fraser, and Harvard Square by Andre Aciman. I don’t know if I’ll end up finishing Harvard Square because lately I can’t seem to handle the dark places of other people’s memories, but I did find the plot intriguing: A Jewish exile from Egypt befriends an anti-American named Kalaj who hates America because (so he claims) of this: ““Their continental breakfasts are jumbo-ersatz, their extra-long cigarettes are jumbo-ersatz, their huge steak dinners with whopping all-you-can-eat salads are jumbo-ersatz, their refilled mugs of all-you-can-drink coffee, their faux-mint mouthwash with triple pack toothpaste and extra toothbrushes thrown in for value, their cars, their malls, their universities, even their monster television sets and spectacular big-screen epics, all, all of it, jumbo ersatz.”

In light of my rant yesterday about conspicuous consumerism and materialism gone wild, that quote caught my attention.  As a result, this novel is now sitting next to me bed waiting to be started before I go to bed tonight. We’ll see how it goes.

I also have to do my readings for my menu writing class, and I’ll try to get my homework done too. So I better hurry up and post pictures before it gets too late.

Before our breakfast outing. Mary loves the book Mary Wore Her Red Dress. It's a library book, and when she was crying last week, I grabbed it and started singing it to her. Ever since then, she walks up to me waving it in her hands and pulling on my shirt until I read it to her. For the record, her other favorite book is Duck and Goose. We've probably read it a hundred times, but whenever I ask her to choose a book to read, she goes and grabs that one and then giggles at every page.

Before our breakfast outing. Mary loves the book Mary Wore Her Red Dress. It’s a library book, and when she was crying last week, I grabbed it and started singing it to her. Ever since then, she walks up to me waving it in her hands and pulling on my shirt until I read it to her. For the record, her other favorite book is Duck and Goose. We’ve probably read it a hundred times, but whenever I ask her to choose a book to read, she goes and grabs that one and then giggles at every page. Also, Abe and I were too tired to change out of our clothes last night, and we were too tired this morning to put on new ones. So this I’ve been wearing those (super comfy) leggings for over twenty-four hours by now.

We did a lot of reading today. This is after Mary's three hour nap and Lydia's three hour quiet time session. When we finally released her from quiet time (at 4pm), she was giving her stuffed animals a puppet show and making Minnie Mouse act out the role of "doctor."

We did a lot of reading today. This is after Mary’s three hour nap and Lydia’s three hour quiet time session. When we finally released her from quiet time (at 4pm), she was giving her stuffed animals a puppet show and making Minnie Mouse act out the role of “doctor.”

Mary looked like a mini-teenager in her jeans and yellow shirt today. It made me feel nostalgic. Also, we can put her hair in a ponytail now!

Mary looked like a mini-teenager in her jeans and yellow shirt today. It made me feel nostalgic. Also, we can put her hair in a ponytail now!

And this is what happens when we take the ponytail out.

And this is what happens when we take the ponytail out.

Mary didn't think it was funny, but Abe and I did.

Mary didn’t think it was funny, but Abe and I did.

Another sick day and the LDS modesty debate

I woke up not feeling well, so for Mary’s morning nap I let Lydia watch Elmo for two hours while I curled up in bed reading and sleeping. For Mary’s afternoon nap, I shut Lydia in her room for quiet time and then returned to my own bed. Poor Lydia. I guess Mommy took the day off today. But I did spend all of Mary’s wake time feeding the girls, reading to the girls, playing piano with the girls, and cuddling the girls. I hope I never forget some of the terrific, long, snuggly hugs and vigorous “ugga mugga’s” Lydia gave me today (right before melting down when I announced I was heading to my bed during her quiet time).

I was also forty minutes late to school today because Abe and I spent too much time debating whether I should go to Instacare instead of school (I thought I had appendicitis, but turns out that’s on the other side) and then we picked up our ongoing Mormon modesty debate while I changed into my chef clothing. I would like to see the modesty issue reframed in terms of conspicuous consumption; that means more preaching about how the plight of the poor should influence our purchasing decisions and less direction on where hemlines should hit. There is way more scriptural precedent for this approach (in my opinion) than any other. Also, have you seen the pictures of the Philippines recently? I do not understand how disciples of Christ could purchase any piece of unnecessary clothing until those victims get food and water.

Abe, on the other hand, feels like modesty promotes virtue, and that current direction from Church leaders is exactly what we need to keep us all acting like team players. He thinks the women who vehemently reject these teachings are selfishly shrugging off social responsibility; at the same time he agrees that men are completely responsible for their thoughts and actions. His point is that disciples act more out of concern for others than for self, and we all can be disciples by helping each other in whatever ways we can.

At the end of the day, Abe and I both interpret modesty to be in issue of discipleship, even if our focus is different. I suppose when my girls are old enough to understand, I will teach them the following: our deportment should reflect our discipleship. Also, I will point them to the scriptures that connect inattentiveness to the poor with excessive consumption.

One more consumption aside: I have been browsing real estate in Orem and Provo (related to Abe’s exciting upcoming news), and I just have to say how disgusting I think McMansions are. Little Parisian cafe spaces adjoined to movie theaters belong in public, not in one’s basement. I know I’m being judgmental (maybe because I’m sick and grouchy?), but there comes a point when extra space crosses the line from pleasant to grotesque.

I’m also probably hypocritical in my judgment, because ideally I would like a house big enough for two to three grand pianos (for duo piano music and so that my children can practice at the same time), enough rooms so my kids (I think I eventually want 4-6) can have their own personal spaces, and enough space for my mom and any visitors who want to come. Also, acres of vegetable and flower gardens would be a plus. That sounds like at least a mini-McMansion to me, so why don’t I stop typing before my hypocrisy becomes any more apparent.

Here are a series of pictures where Lydia is examining and “playing” the piano. I’m sorry, but I just can not get over her beautiful technique. I can barely wait until we start official lessons.IMG_5132 IMG_5130 IMG_5128 IMG_5127And then two of Mary looking cute, as always:

IMG_5134 IMG_5135

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.