Lazy, sleepy Sunday…

First of all, I fixed yesterday’s links, so that the scherzo is now public. Oopsy! Thanks, Mom and Grandma, for catching that. Also, apologies for how out of tune the piano is. It’s right by a huge single pane window, and the temperature changes may have just permanently damaged it. The upper register is especially unpleasant.

Today at church we made it through Sacrament without having to take the kids to the hall! Wonder should abound at this abnormality. Our strategy was basically to feed them junk food the entire time, and wow–it worked! The families surrounding us were probably aghast at the things our children were eating so early in the morning, but hey. I’m trusting in the good influence of church to ease judgment all around.

And that was basically the apex of our day. We spent the rest of the day sleeping, eating, and watching The Lion, the Witch and The Wardrobe. We used it as an intro to understanding the atonement, although Lydia’s grasp of that concept still seems precarious–at best. Since C.S. Lewis was SO explicit in his analogy, our job of translating the story to Lydia was easy, but the hard part came when we tried to explain the concept of laying down innocent life to save the transgressor. No problem with the resurrection, though; the minute Aslan appeared again it was all cheers, smiles, and hooray.

After the girls went to bed, Abe and I finished off Prince Caspian (started yesterday) for good measure. We are movied/analogied out.

Here are today’s pictures:

This really should be in yesterday's blog, since I organized it yesterday. After the influx of Christmas books, I overhauled the bookshelf in the girls' room and moved a bunch of books to other parts of the house. This is the final product--I am SO proud.

This really should be in yesterday’s blog, since I organized it yesterday. After the influx of Christmas books, I overhauled the bookshelf in the girls’ room and moved a bunch of books to other parts of the house. This is the final product–I am SO proud.

Abe took pictures during our bedtime routine.

Abe took pictures during our bedtime routine. Mary had just finished brushing Lydia’s hair.

I got lots of snuggles tonight.

I got lots of snuggles tonight.

She also played with my lips...

She also played with my lips…

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.

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:

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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.

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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…

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 the Andersons (sans pics) and Variations on a Theme (with pics)

Pre-church. I would match my children every day if I could. Variations on a theme is my next favorite thing to do, and a little bit of both makes my heart unreasonably happy.

Pre-church. I would match my children every day if I could. Variations on a theme is my next favorite thing to do, and a little bit of both makes my heart unreasonably happy.

Lydia giving in to her natural hoarding instinct. Mary is waiting patiently for her to start sharing.

Lydia giving in to her natural hoarding instinct. Mary is waiting patiently for her to start sharing.

She did not wait in vain.

She did not wait in vain. (There was quite a bit of parental prodding/cajoling/threatening that took place to get us from point A to point B.)

Mary Berry! (Doesn't she look like one? Abe coined that phrase today.) This is Mary before Abe took the girls outside to build a snow fort.

Mary Berry! (Doesn’t she look like one? Abe coined that phrase today.) This is Mary before Abe took the girls outside to build a snow fort.

The two girls bundled before their snow fort play session.

The two girls bundled before their snow fort play session.

And then I stopped taking pictures, because I was busy cooking dinner. We had our friends, Paige, Michael, Ada and Olive Anderson over for dinner. I kept thinking that I needed to interrupt to take pictures of Ada and Lydia playing, but I enjoy adult conversation to the point where it’s hard to tear myself away. They were so fun.

We were supposed to go to the Christmas devotional at the Conference Center tonight because our friends, the Vattikutis, gave us tickets. However, Abe placed them on the windowsill where Mary found them and (we presume) swatted them into the trash can below. Sad! But at the end of the day, it worked out because we got to spend time with the Andersons.

And now I am full of food and ready for my bed. Goodnight!

Errands, Christmas and another C

This morning we clipped the girls' nails. Mary LOVES this activity. Her enjoyment is the only way we can convince Lydia to let us do the same to her.

This morning we clipped the girls’ nails. Mary LOVES this activity. Her enjoyment convinced Lydia to let us do the same to her.

Lydia didn't enjoy it to quite the same level.

Lydia didn’t enjoy it to quite the same level.

After that, we loaded the girls in the car and hit:

Target, Walmart, Old Navy, Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, Kid to Kid, Smith’s and Robinson Tree Farms:

We went here last year for the first time. Abe and I love walking through this big tree lot and pretending we're in a forest.

We went here last year for the first time. Abe and I love walking through this big tree lot and pretending we’re in a forest.

We all played pretend together.

We all played pretend together.

Mary found a tree she liked.

Mary found a tree she liked.

...And so did Lydia.

…And so did Lydia.

Lydia went around hugging various trees and becoming passionately attached to the most skiwompus trees in the lot. Abe would say stuff like, “Lydia, do you like this healthy, even looking tree or this gaunt, sickly one?” and she would reply, “The gaunt, sick-wee one!”

Lydia found a soap box on which to stand and declaim her love of gaunt trees.

Lydia found a soap box on which to stand and declaim her love of gaunt trees.

Mary started getting cold, so Abe bundled her in his coat.

Mary started getting cold, so Abe bundled her in his coat.

Lydia had a blast taking out every single box in our Christmas bins.

Lydia had a blast taking out every single box in our Christmas bins. Don’t let her sober camera face fool you.

See?

See?

Mary was DYING to help hang stuff on the tree, so we finally let her hang some candy canes.

Mary was DYING to help hang stuff on the tree, so we finally let her hang some candy canes.

We almost got Balu to come over, but he had a school meeting to go to. We could have used him tonight because corralling Mary around the tree was impossible.  She just wanted to help so badly.

We almost got Balu to come over, but he had a school meeting to go to. We could have used him tonight; corralling Mary around the tree was impossible! She just wanted to help so badly.

Lydia and I hung ornaments while Abe tried to keep Mary from undoing our work.

Lydia and I hung ornaments while Abe tried to keep Mary from undoing our work.

Here are Martha Stewart's felt ornaments on the tree. I went to so many stores today looking for the screw punch she says you need to thread these ornaments, but after going a million places with no luck, it occurred to me that I could just sew some embroidery floss onto the ornaments. After our afternoon nap, I spent an hour threading all the ornaments--and it worked! No $15 screw punch necessary.

Here are Martha Stewart’s felt ornaments on the tree. I went to so many stores today looking for the screw punch she says you need to thread these ornaments, but after going a million places with no luck, it occurred to me that I could just sew some embroidery floss onto the ornaments. After our afternoon nap, I spent an hour threading all the ornaments–and it worked! No $15 screw punch necessary.

The final product.

The final product.

The girls napped until after 6pm, and I didn't finish threading the ornaments until 6pm. I considered just doing canned soup for dinner, but since today was our official entry into the Christmas season, I decided to make some polenta cakes and kale. The colors were right, and they came together pretty quickly.

The girls napped until after 6pm, and I didn’t finish threading the ornaments until 6pm. I considered just doing canned soup for dinner, but since today was our official entry into the Christmas season, I decided to make some polenta cakes and kale. The colors were right, and they came together pretty quickly.

On the lower right you will notice Abe's Christmas tree from college. One Christmas he was feeling sad and not festive; he went to class and stumbled on a craft fair in the entry of his building. He bought this green retractable extendable tree and felt that God had given him a little gift to help him feel more merry.

On the lower right you will notice Abe’s Christmas tree from college. One Christmas he was feeling sad and not festive; he went to class and stumbled on a craft fair in the entry of his building. He bought this green retractable extendable tree. It cheered him up right away and made him feel like God had put that little tree in his path to help him be more merry.

And now to my homework. I missed another deadline for my menu class, so now I have to go make up that late work. The 74.3% in my online gradebook is seriously stressing me out. Maybe that’s why, even after all the decorating, I still don’t feel very festive this year. Hopefully getting this assignment done will help fix that.

[Too much] piano, and cookies

I practiced for hours today.

I felt so bad about neglecting Lydia for that long, so after a couple hours I stopped and we did this:

We made gingerbread cookies together.

We made gingerbread cookies together.

Lydia liked the whole process very much.

Lydia liked the whole process very much.

When Mary woke up from her nap, she refused to eat anything except our gingerbread cookies. I don't know how she did it because they are hard, but she made a couple disappear with only her 3 teeth.

When Mary woke up from her nap, she refused to eat anything except our gingerbread cookies. I don’t know how she did it because they are hard, but she made a couple disappear with only her 3 teeth.

Some of the finished products.

Some of the finished products.

Lydia spent my practice time watching Sesame Street DVD’s and entertaining herself.

Ever since I taught Lydia how to load books on cd in the cd player, we have been listening to Marian Anderson sing. We have a ton of other books on tape checked out, but this is Lydia's (and our) favorite.

Ever since I taught Lydia how to load books on cd in the cd player, we have been listening to Marian Anderson sing. We have a ton of other books on tape checked out, but this is Lydia’s (and our) favorite.

She keeps telling me that I need to go buy her some pedals for her bike.

She keeps telling me that I need to go buy her some pedals for her bike. In fact, that is exactly what she is saying to me in this picture.

Mary was sleepy today. We put her down for her first nap shortly after Abe (!) took this shot. She proceeded to sleep for the next four hours. That's more like it.

Mary was sleepy today. We put her down for her first nap shortly after Abe (!) took this shot. She proceeded to sleep for the next four hours. That’s more like the Mary I know!

We had a field trip to Muir Farms (really a food distribution center) today, and Abe took the girls to the ward Christmas party during my field trip. Lydia asked Santa to please bring her cat back to her, and Mary spent the party toddling everywhere.

My field trip was done a little early, so I spent the rest of the evening practicing.

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I really need to put the brakes on the piano, but it feels so wonderful to play. Tomorrow is Saturday, though, so I hope to realign my priorities and spend more time with my family starting tomorrow.

Also, Abe got REALLY exciting news today. I hate veiled communication, but such is necessary until Monday. Suffice it to say, we have felt God’s compassionate intervention in some of Abe’s challenges at work, and Abe’s prayers were answered today.

slowing down

Abe and I both felt like we had been run over by trucks for most of the day, so today was more about muddling through on low energy and aching muscles, and less about getting stuff done. We did manage to make it to the temple, and Swathi, Clark, Mom and I took Lydia to the library (although she fell asleep and slept through that entire outing).

We came home, ate pizza, and got the girls ready for bed. Swathi, Clark and Balu invited us to go to the movies with them, but Abe and I were so tired that we opted to be boring and stay at home instead. After the girls went down, I lay in bed reading The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook, which I checked out from the library’s “Lucky Day” collection. That made my day feel appropriately lucky; I want to cook almost everything in the book, and I love all of Deb’s essays and pictures.

During the girls’ naps and quiet time, I made another dent in The Table Comes First. Adam Gopnik’s essays on the intersection of food and culture are gorgeously crafted, but I can’t read them for more than twenty minutes at a time before I fall asleep. I really don’t think that’s a reflection on his writing at all; more likely, my attention span is shortening and my ability to focus is waning. I haven’t finished a book in ages, although I have started plenty.

Here are the pictures from today:

Mary playing while the rest of us lay on the couch in a stupor.

Mary playing while the rest of us lay on the couch in a stupor.

Ten minutes earlier, Abe was in this exact same position with his pj's on when I informed him that we had a houseful of babysitters and had no excuse to not attend the temple today. He agreed, showered, changed, and resumed his former position until it was time to go.

Ten minutes earlier, Abe was in this exact same position with his pj’s on when I informed him that we had a houseful of babysitters and had no excuse not to attend the temple today. He agreed, showered, changed, and resumed his former position until it was time to go.

Mary played the piano this morning.

Mary played the piano this morning.

Aunt Swathi affirmed her talent.

Aunt Swathi affirmed her talent.

We were delighted to come home from the library to find Mary eating in her Bumbo. She was an uncharacteristically great eater today.

We were delighted to come home from the library to find Mary eating in her Bumbo. She was an uncharacteristically great eater today.

Food and friends

The first thing I did this morning was run to the kitchen to bake a lemon pound cake. Don’t ask me why; I just woke up and knew I had to get it baked before 9am church, and so 7am found me frantically melting butter and grating lemons so I could get the thing out of the oven before we left for church.

When we got back from church, we all ate leftovers for lunch, and then I rolled up my sleeves and got to work on dinner. Just as I was about to stick the lamb in the oven, Misty called me and invited us over for dinner. How convenient! So I told her I had lamb in the oven and asked if she could come over instead. She agreeably acquiesced, and at 6:30 she, Rich, Sophia and Max brought over a ton of delicious potato leek soup to supplement our lamb and glazed carrots. I also baked my favorite dinner rolls (amended with whole wheat flour), and by the time we were done eating, I was feeling pretty fat full.

Whenever we get together with Rich and Misty, Abe and I spend the next week discussing how they are the salt of the earth and how fortunate we feel to have them in our lives. We replay this discussion over and over to the point where I should just transcribe a script and save ourselves some breath by periodically waving it enthusiastically under Abe’s nose. In a nutshell and to state the obvious, we love them.

Our cousin, Balu, joined us for dinner too, and we love him too–so much, that it was only with great reluctance that we finally broke up our post-party party (at almost 10pm).

Basically, we ate a lot, visited with friends and family, and had a great day at church. Oh, and we took a nap. That’s a great Sunday in my book. (Although even though I cleaned for an hour, there’s still a lot left to do in the kitchen…oh, well. That’s a small price to pay for evenings like this.)

I get way too excited about matching. I would match my daughters every day if I could. (I used to secretly match my companion in the MTC and then act like it was an accident. People started making fun of us, but she would vehemently deny an pre-emptive planning on our part. I'd just stand there and smile.)

I get way too excited about matching. I would match my daughters every day if I could. (I used to secretly match my companion in the MTC and then act like it was an accident. People started making fun of us, but she would vehemently deny any planning on our part. I have since confessed.)

Abe lit a fire in the fireplace for the firs time this season. The girls were mesmerized.

Abe lit a fire in the fireplace for the firs time this season. The girls were mesmerized.

Lydia helped me make the rolls.

Lydia helped me make the rolls.

The Sorensons.

The Sorensons.

Finally, this is for mom. Mom, Gloria is back in town! She brought you a ton of roses, and I promised her I'd take a picture and send to you. There's a whole other vase of roses that look like this, but so far I have just gotten around to taking a picture of this one. She sends you her love and wants to see you when you're in town soon.

Finally, this is for mom. Mom, Gloria is back in town! She brought you a ton of roses, and I promised her I’d take a picture and send to you. There’s a whole other vase of roses that look like this, but so far I have just gotten around to taking a picture of this one. She sends you her love and wants to see you when you’re in town soon.