appliance shopping (i.e., toddler temper tantrum displays galore!)

I forgot to take pictures today! Nothing of note happened, though. I did buy a new washer and dryer for the new house, but I couldn’t have taken any pictures on that outing. Mary was a screaming, crying mess because her nap time was approaching, and I honestly started to wonder if Lydia was possessed. The last couple times I have tried to do anything except shop for groceries or check out books in public, the girls go bananas and lose it. It got to the point where they were tearing Christmas ornaments off of trees–and breaking them. I felt incompetent, and in response, we went home and had nap time/quiet time for the rest of the day. I REM’ed slept so much that it’s 1 am and I’m fresh as a daisy.

Well, not really. Guess I better go to bed. Oh! Cooking school was fun, but for the last couple classes I have had to redo at least one, if not two dishes because I’m careless or impatient. Tonight I had to do my pastry cream twice, and since there wasn’t enough time to redo my pate choux, I’m redoing that first thing tomorrow.

Also, Abe got home! Yay! He had a really successful trip, and I’m really glad he’s back.

Sorry, one more P.P.S. in this disjointed post: I went to the dermatologist today. He confirmed that I had a bad outbreak of eczema because I’ve lost so much pigmentation in my arms. I basically have white polka-dot skin right now — I’m a walking, talking, Minnie Mouse dress! But in all seriousness, it was a good visit. He was very reassuring and I feel like I’ve learned a lot from this whole experience.

Now I’m going to bed and think about all the plants I want to plant in my new yard. That’s my favorite daydream–maybe tonight, those thoughts will replace the horrible nightmares I had during my REM nap!

Veteran’s Day 2014

After preschool and quiet time, we took a trip to the veteran’s section of the Salt Lake Cemetery. We did this last year, and I remember how this activity made me feel more connected and grateful for all the service veterans have given for the country.

Today my heart felt full again as I tried to explain to the girls what it meant to be a veteran and to serve the country. We read the names on as many graves as we could. Actually, Mary gave us lots of opportunities to say names because she would pull flags off of graves and I would say, “Mary! Don’t do that! That’s Thomas Haley’s grave, and he fought in WWI. I’m sure he wants his flag back!” …In this fashion, we got to say a lot of names out loud.

At one point, Mary pulled a balloon off of one man’s grave and I said, “Mary! Someone put that there because they loved Anthony. How sad! Now he doesn’t have his balloon!”

With tears spilling out of the corners of her eyes and her voice wavering, Lydia said, “Mommy, can we go get another balloon so that man can have a bawoon (balloon) on his stone?” My heart was so moved. We headed straight to the car, and as I started to drive to the store to get a replacement balloon, Lydia said (again, with her eyes full of quiet tears and her voice quivering), “Mama, can we say a prayer so that Jesus can help us get the same balloon?” So we said a prayer, got replacement balloons, and returned to the cemetery.

After we replaced the missing balloons, Lydia recited the Pledge of Allegiance among the tombstones. It touched my heart. This day was just full of heart-warming moments.

With replacement balloons.

With replacement balloons.

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packing day

Considering Abe was gone, today was a really great day. I don’t know what it is, but I think I am more productive when I have to take care of everything myself. Either that, or I cook more when Abe is home, so I get fewer other tasks accomplished.

Anyway, today I had a lot of fun hanging out with the girls, doing errands, folding loads of laundry and packing a ton of boxes. I figured I would have a lot of time to watch a movie with the girls at the end of the day, but everything just flew by so fast I didn’t get to. In my book, that makes a good day.

Here are some pictures:

Lydia helped me pack!

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And the girls had a dance party while I packed (and paused to take pictures):

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Blast from the past

Abe left for D.C. today, and having him gone brought back all the memories I have from his last job. I had completely forgotten what it was like staring down an evening alone in the house with the kids, but to my delight, what happened tonight is nothing like the monotony I recall from being alone during Abe’s Guardsmark trips.

The girls and I cuddled up on the couch and binge watched The Living Scriptures videos, I fed them dinner at 3:30 pm  (much more in sync with their actual hunger cycle, but normally I have to time their meals so we can have a family dinner with Abe), played with them, read to them, showered, got everyone ready for bed, read scriptures with them, prayed–and voila! 8 pm bedtime happened for the first time in six months. Daylight savings helped, but still. It felt great to be back on track.

Then I updated my family tree with some information I got from the Philippine Jesuits and watched this video about a million times. I discovered it a couple days ago and can’t stop watching it. My heart feels so full and achy each time I watch. I guess Chicago will always feel like my authentic home, even though I am genuinely happy to have adopted Utah for the–indefinite–future.

Here are the pictures from today.

playing with/in the suitcases you gave them, Grandma. On a recent play date one of Mary's friends played with this suitcase and Mary freaked out and started crying, pointing to the suitcase and saying, "Gamma Cuwen! Gamma Cuwen!" (Translation: "Grandma Cullen gave ME that!")

playing with/in the suitcases you gave them, Grandma. On a recent play date one of Mary’s friends played with this suitcase and Mary freaked out and started crying, pointed to the suitcase and shouted, “Gamma Cuwen! Gamma Cuwen!” (Translation: “Grandma Cullen gave ME that!”)

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performing the trick she was trying to show you on the phone, Mom.

performing the trick she was trying to show you on the phone, Mom.

principles for pie dough

I had a primary presidency meeting at the dinosaur play area of the mall this morning, but other than that, I stayed home with the kiddos all day. At the very end of the day, I ran outside and changed the car seats so Abe and I could switch cars. When I came in with the second car seat, I discovered Lydia buckling a happy Mary up in her seat.

IMG_0171 IMG_0172Then I went to class for midterms. It was the most stressful test I’ve had so far! I had to remake several things and I almost asked my teammate to let me pass off her extra pie dough as my own, but I stopped myself mid-proposal. It is really sad that I would trade my principles for pie dough, but in the moment, I felt quite desperate.  However, I stopped myself and rushed through re-making my own dough. Integrity (sort of) saved.

The only thing that I made that kind of came out were these rolls. I was too impatient to wait for the teacher to show me how to knot them, so their shape is wonky.

The only thing that I made that kind of came out were these rolls. I was too impatient to wait for the teacher to show me how to knot them, so their shape is wonky.

Another day in sequester

Aside from keeping the girls alive, getting Lydia to and from preschool, cleaning and cooking, I slept all day. Last night I barely slept at all because Mary got up a couple times and thenI couldn’t get back to bed because I am so excited about the move.

The girls were absolutely perfect today; Mary napped for four hours, and Lydia played next to me in the bed. When I woke up, I played with the girls for two hours. That was probably the highlight of my day. I guess I could have used the time to pack some more boxes, but it felt really fulfilling to just sit on the floor with them and be silly.

Here are the two pictures I have from today.

Watching The Living Scriptures videos. One of the ladies at church gave us her set of Living Scripture videos for a seriously reduced price, and the girls have LOVED them. It feels like a huge blessing.

Watching The Living Scriptures videos. One of the ladies at church gave us her set of Living Scripture videos for a seriously reduced price, and the girls have LOVED them. It feels like a huge blessing.

Pretending to call Nana and Grandma Cullen.

Pretending to call Nana and Grandma Cullen.

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A truly ridiculous amount of delicious bread

My camera battery was charging all day, so the only pictures I have are of the food we made at class tonight. That sums up my day pretty well, since I spent hours on homework and hours in class today. Other than that, I read to the girls and played with Mary a bunch because Lydia passed out on the floor…for three hours.

As you can see, the amount of carbohydrates we produce this semester is entirely unreasonable. We get done plating at 10:30 p.m., at which point we are expected to try and compare everything so we understand the effect of either 1) our mistakes or 2) getting the recipe right. Wish my metabolism luck…

oct16pic4 oct16pic1 oct16pic2 oct16pic3I also took one of my chef doing a demonstration. She is my favorite teacher so far, and I have learned more from this class than any other. I am considering switching into the baking and pastry program because I absolutely LOVE this class, and I haven’t quite felt that way about my culinary classes. We’ll have to see if all the classes are this good, but if they are: Sayonara culinary! Hello baking and pastry!!!

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Love you, Grandma!

Grandma, I am so sorry to hear that you went to the hospital today. The girls and I immediately stopped and said a prayer for you, and during dinner Lydia wouldn’t let me finish my prayer until I prayed for you. We love you and hope you don’t have to deal with pain. We love you so much!

I forgot to take pictures today, so Abe took a bunch before putting the girls to bed:

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Mary is now allowed to have her binkies in her toddler bed. She occasionally loses them underneath the bed, and she searches for them thus.

Mary is now allowed to have her binkies in her toddler bed. She occasionally loses them underneath the bed, and she searches for them thus.

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A video!

As I blog, Abe is kindly picking through each strand of my hair for nits again. Thank-you, my wonderful husband. I love you.

We just stayed home all day. I’m pretty tired from the lice situation. Mary was lice-free until she napped, and then she woke up with a bite on her neck and some nits around her ear. My heart dropped when I saw that.

Other than that, I spent the whole day cooking, reading to the girls, and cleaning.

Here are the pictures!

Lydia and I tried to turn challah into brioche today. I should have just googled a brioche recipe; the challah didn't convert that well.

Lydia and I tried to turn challah into brioche today. I should have just googled a brioche recipe; the challah didn’t convert that well.

After being trapped inside all day, Mary really wanted to go outside and read books. After all she's been through, I happily aquiesced.

After being trapped inside all day, Mary really wanted to go outside and read books. After all she’s been through, I happily aquiesced.

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We had pot pies in pumpkins tonight. Mary thought it was novel.

We had pot pies in pumpkins tonight. Mary thought it was novel.

After dinner, the girls sang a song before FHE. Lydia made up the words and Mary was her chorus.

After dinner, the girls sang a song before FHE. Lydia made up the words and Mary was her chorus.

We got part of the song on video! You can see it here.

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We had a FHE lesson on reverence. Abe had the girls play a game like Stop and Go! wherein the girls danced and acted crazy when Abe called out, "Crazy!", and they knelt and acted reverent when he said, "Reverent!". This is them kneeling.

We had a FHE lesson on reverence. Abe had the girls play a game like Stop and Go! wherein the girls danced and acted crazy when Abe called out, “Crazy!”, and they knelt and acted reverent when he said, “Reverent!”. This is them kneeling.

Crazy!

Crazy!

Crazy again!

Crazy again!

Lice crazy and Too Much Information (after the pics)

Did I neglect to mention in my last post that after we thought Mary was the only person with lice, Abe discovered a ton of nits in my hair Friday night? Yeah, I thought so. Between that time and now, my hair has undergone: RID (scary, ineffective pesticide treatment), multiple sessions of nit comb-throughs, LiceFree! Spray, three blow-dry treatments (so hot and long that I thought my scalp would burn off), two tea-tree oil shampoo washes, a priesthood blessing, and right now: I have soaked 1/4 cup of pure tea tree oil into my scalp. Tome gave me an 8 ounce bottle, bless his heart. Oh, and I’ve laundered my sheets every day since Thursday.

From Amazon, arriving soon are these three exciting products: A Robi comb (a battery charged comb that zaps lice with electricity so that they die on contact), a Terminator comb (best lice comb on the market!), and a giant VAT of tea-tree oil shampoo.

All of last night’s dreams revolved around picking lice off of my head. Do I sound crazy and obsessed? That’s about how I feel. Poor Abe just wants a break, but every time we have a spare moment, I hand him a comb and order him to get to work on my hair. While he does that I pore over the Amazon reviews of different lice products and read them like it’s therapy. Most people write their terrifying lice stories into their review and send words of encouragement and support to the review reader. The reviews make me feel like I have a global support group.

When I am not actively combating lice, I perform tasks in a distracted state and have several times thought I might be losing my mind. Case in point: Yesterday, after forgetting a bag of groceries at the store, I went out and climbed back into the passenger seat of the car and sat there for a minute before I realized the car wasn’t going to drive itself back to the store.

Okay, enough about lice (even though, honestly, that’s basically all I think about). Today was General Conference! A welcome, uplifting, four hour distraction. One of my favorite talks was Elder Holland’s about caring for the poor. I also liked Elder Bednar’s talk on missionary work. He pointed out that the reason we do missionary work is because we have felt that power of the atonement in our own lives and desire the same blessing for others. That’s kind of how I feel about LiceFree! Spray and tea tree oil–I want to share the info with EVERYONE so no one else has to go through the panic and icky pesticides I used before figuring out which products worked. Oops! I wasn’t going to write more about lice…

I’ll just cut to the pictures:

Lydia and I made this plum cake today. I needed a pick-me-up. I should have taken a picture...but guess what? I have enough plums to make it again tomorrow, so maybe I'll just do that since this one disappeared.

Lydia and I made this plum cake today. I needed a pick-me-up. I should have taken a picture…but guess what? I have enough plums to make it again tomorrow, so maybe I’ll just do that since this one disappeared. Also, doesn’t my hair look like a perfect home for lice? I would chop it all off, but no salon can legally do that for me until this ordeal is over, at which point I will probably reconsider.

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I discovered Mary reading Each Peach, Pear, Plum while the plum cake was baking.

I discovered Mary reading Each Peach, Pear, Plum while the plum cake was baking.

Abe must have taken this one.

Abe must have taken this one.

Tom and Suzanne came over for dinner. Tom gave Abe a blessing afterwards.

Tom and Suzanne came over for dinner. Tom gave Abe a blessing afterwards.

Tom reading to the girls.

Tom reading to the girls.

I love the mountains in the background. Of course, I also find the little girl in the foreground quite endearing as well.

I love the mountains in the background. Of course, I also find the little girl in the foreground quite endearing as well.

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Also, here’s a daily dose of Too Much Information: After I spent all that time in the hospital with my friend Andrea, who had to deliver her stillborn daughter, I decided I wanted to get pregnant again. Maybe it’s because I wanted the baby to be alive, or maybe it’s because I love spending time in Labor and Delivery (really, I love that floor of the hospital), but I emerged from that experience wanting, for the first time in two years, to be pregnant again. Didn’t happen the first month (which was really about two weeks before my period came), and now I have soaked my hair twice in pesticides, so I think I’ll give my body another couple months to get these chemicals out of its system before trying again. Sad.

On the upside, I have a couple classes left on my Bikram yoga pass, so I can at least use those up now! (I can’t while trying to get pregnant because the heat isn’t good for in-utero babies).