Our last day of packing! (and house closing)

We are packing like crazy because we closed today on the house and the move is TOMORROW, but I just had to throw up some of these pictures from earlier. Ina stopped by with the girls’ Christmas presents. She is so sweet. We will miss her so much!

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Ina even had one for Abe and me. She tolerated my pictures so nicely.

Ina even had one for Abe and me. She tolerated my pictures so nicely.

Mary discovered that we have yet to pack the nail polish. TOYS!!

Mary discovered that we have yet to pack the nail polish. TOYS!!

Lydia was excited (and she wanted to pose for the camera).

Lydia was excited (and she wanted to pose for the camera).

Really quick: I had a conference with Lydia’s preschool teachers and one of the administrators today. My heart sunk as they told me she doesn’t participate unless directed. I’ve observed this trait in Lydia since infancy. In groups, she stands to the side and watches silently, and then she comes alive at home and tells you everything that happened as if she had been involved. But in the moment, she doesn’t participate.

I felt solely responsible for her lack of participation. I drove home feeling so guilty that she inherited my defunct genes that shut down in big group situations. I called Abe and confessed that my genetic contribution had messed up our kid, and he made me feel a lot better about it all.  He pointed out that Lydia’s problem is not lack of focus (which is what the administrator attributed it to), but just shyness. (Hi, Lily’s genes!). He pointed out that Lydia could sit at the piano for forty five minute stretches when she was just two (under her tyrannical mother’s command), and she can focus indefinitely on any given book. She does not, he emphasized, have ADD.

In the moment, I had totally forgotten that about Lydia! I just swallowed everything the teachers told me as Truth and left feeling so horrible and guilty. I thought my genetic contribution + my lack of restrictions on screen time = permanent damage to my three year old’s ability to succeed in school. I still could do better on screen time, but after talking to Abe, I don’t think Lydia has an actual attention problem. At least that is what I’m telling myself now.

Back to packing!

Pie taste-off

While Lydia was at preschool, I took Mary to Trader Joe’s and picked up a pumpkin pie. All of my kitchen is 99% packed, so cooking or baking is out of the question. The girls are obsessed with The Perfect Pumpkin Pie, and since we have read this book a million times in the last month, I decided that they needed to eat pumpkin pie.

As we were about to eat, the doorbell rang. Paige showed up with boxes, and since their timing was fortuitous, they joined us for pie and a play date. After the play date, we had nap time and quiet time.

After that, I decided that we needed to have a pie taste-off. Harmon’s was having a sale today, so I picked up another pie and headed to Paige’s house. We ended up staying there until bedtime. Paige made a delicious lasagna, and we all tried the second pie. Trader Joe’s was the clear winner, hands down. It’s also half the price, so once again I have cause to mourn that we will be so far away from Trader Joe’s in Orem. I hope we get one soon!

Here are some pictures from the play date:

Mary was pretending to sleep.

Mary was pretending to sleep.

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They were pretending it was sleepy time.

They were pretending it was sleepy time.

16 boxes closer.

Today I packed sixteen more boxes, with the help of Marilyn Brinton and Suzanne. Marilyn stopped by randomly this morning with boxes and told me she wanted to help me pack for an hour. She was a total answer to prayer–I was just about to take a nap after having packed only four boxes, but with her help, I packed five more. Then Suzanne stopped by this evening to help, and after her amazing efforts, we are sixteen boxes closer to being ready to move.

I discovered the girls packing two boxes completely independently. All I had to do was label and tape. I was so proud of them!

I discovered the girls packing two boxes completely independently. All I had to do was label and tape. I was so proud of them!

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They were really sweet all morning.

They were really sweet all morning.

Then we had a play date with Misty, and I got to see her basement in the final stages of being finished. It was very exciting, and also a little sad. I will miss this family so much!

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Sabbath rest

Today was our last day in our ward. After church, we hung around the house and just rested from all of the packing commotion from yesterday. We watched some scripture videos, read some books, ate some Trader Joe’s food (our fare until post move because my kitchen is PACKED), and napped.

Abe snapped a picture for the blog.

IMG_0299Also, I found two new death records for my family history today! One if for my paternal grandmother, and the other is for my paternal great-grandfather. It was very exciting!

Packing

I am exhausted from packing for most of the day. The only other interesting thing that happened was Misty’s baby shower at Gourmandise. I love that bakery, and I actually had fun at this shower because there were only four other–nice!–people there, and the food was delicious. The only reason I originally went was because I love Misty, but I came away having enjoyed the whole event thoroughly.

Then it was nose-to-the-grindstone packing for the rest of the day. Well, sort of. Abe and I congratulated each other on how much we were getting done as we drifted off for a two hour nap in the middle of the day, but with that exception, the rest of the day revolved around putting stuff into boxes.

Here are the two pictures from Abe’s phone that we got today:

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Lydia was actually a phenomenal helper. I didn't just make up imaginary tasks for her like I sometimes do. She actually helped me a lot by fetching me things, helping me arrange stuff, and scooping packing peanuts wherever I needed them. She was a doll.

Lydia was actually a phenomenal helper. I didn’t just make up imaginary tasks for her like I sometimes do. She actually helped me a lot by fetching me things, helping me arrange stuff, and scooping packing peanuts wherever I needed them. She was a doll.

The hows and whys and way-too-long ramblings of this move.

I forgot to tell a Lydia story from a couple days ago. We were driving to the new house with Olivia, Chelsea’s daughter. Lydia was telling Olivia her whole life story, and Olivia listened attentively and asked appropriate conversational questions. I was blown away by Olivia’s interpersonal skills, especially because Lydia’s Life Story lacked any sort of narrative arc and kept coming back to this theme:

“I have a Daddy, and he’s really, really tired when he comes home from work.”

“Is that why your mommy has to drive him in her car?” — Attentive, sweet Olivia. (I was driving.)

“Yes. My Daddy is always really tired.” –Lydia, who then pressed on in her strain of desultory conversation wherein Olivia somehow managed to meet her.

Rewind to two weeks ago. Abe and I were in the temple, and Abe sidled up to me in the last part of the endowment session and whispered to me to pray about moving by January first. I was totally blind sided because, bad wife that I am, I thought he loved his commute and was managing to do it all: Doubling his work quota! Elder’s quorum president! 100% engaged father (changes all diapers when home, plays more with the kids when he’s home than I do during the entire day I have with them, etc.)! Unfailingly patient and kind husband! AND A THREE + HOUR COMMUTE FIVE DAYS A WEEK!!!

Somehow, I failed to look outside of myself for the two seconds it would take anyone else to realize no one could do the above list, which Abe has been doing without complaint since January, and not feel exhausted and broken. So there I was, realizing that all this time Abe had been holding in the pain of bearing so many burdens while I traipsed along obliviously. I felt so bad.

So we talked about it, and we decided then and there to move. On Saturday we thought we would find another rental. On Sunday we decided to buy a house. On Monday I found our house (in three hours). Two days later we put in an offer in, a day later it was accepted, and today our financing was approved. Our closing date is Thursday (Abe is going to try to push it to Wednesday), and I have movers and appliances scheduled for delivery on Friday.

I guess in my attempt to make up for the fact that I let Abe suffer so long, I pushed this process into turbo-speed mode, and it has been a little bit of a whirlwind.

Add to that the fact that I have gotten only a couple hours of sleep a night ever since the process started because I am kept awake by vivid daydreams about our new yard. I imagine putting a hobbit hole, a trellis swing, a bounteous English cottage garden, a small orchard–espaliered fences included!–, and a thousand individual plants that I can’t wait to get in that ground. Many of the plants have a lot of sentimental value and are related to you and my memories of your garden, Grandma! Because of you I want gooseberry bushes, hollyhocks, and zinnias. Because of what Mom’s gardens I want peonies, wisteria, clematis, grape vines, lilacs, cosmos, day lilies. I also have a million other plants that I want but won’t list here for fear of boring the bejeebers out of my posterity, should they ever encounter this post. But needless to say, I can not sleep at night because I can actually see the flowers and vegetables in my head, and I get so excited that sleep becomes impossible.

Anyway, all those sleepless nights caught up with me today, and I crashed. I literally did nothing except feed my children and entertain them–from bed. I put on exercise pants at 7 pm when Abe came home and didn’t even bother to change anything else. But I did come to life at Abe’s arrival! I got some more boxes packed, and we both played a bunch with the kids.

Here are some pictures of the girls I took. I took one from bed, as you can probably discern from the weird angle and lighting.

Lydia played dress up with my sewing scraps and embroidery hoop. This is the picture I took from bed. Sad, I know.

Lydia played dress up with my sewing scraps and embroidery hoop. This is the picture I took from bed. Sad, I know.

Lydia lit the way downstairs for Mary with her night light.

Lydia lit the way downstairs for Mary with her night light.

Mary was apparently happy to be shown the way.

Mary was apparently happy to be shown the way.

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.

midterm

I spent the morning: babysitting Max and Sophia while Misty went to the doctor, folding laundry, doing errands, packing boxes, babysitting Ada while Liv got allergy tests, and feeding everyone multiple times.

In their nest watching a video on the resurrection. It's Lydia's favorite Living Scriptures video; she's watched it six times (per her request--to my great joy, she has been choosing it over Disney movies!!! Why didn't we get these earlier?!) since Sunday.

In their nest watching a video on the resurrection. It’s Lydia’s favorite Living Scriptures video; she’s watched it six times (per her request–to my great joy, she has been choosing it over Disney movies!!! Why didn’t we get these earlier?!) since Sunday.

Mary wanted to wear her wings during lunch.

Mary wanted to wear her wings during lunch.

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Then I napped.

After that, we went to SmashBurger to meet up with Abe before my midterm. We all had black bean burgers with their amazing fries and milkshakes. That buoyed me up for my midterm. (Abe took pictures, but they’re on his phone and I don’t want to disturb him–he’s asleep!)

My midterm went better today. At least I didn’t propose cheating to my bench mate. I honestly feel so ashamed that I did that yesterday, and I am so, so grateful I regained my sanity in time to not go through with the plan.

This is what happens when you use cold butter to make cookies. To be clear, the butter WAS room temperature when I retrieved it from the pantry, but it hardened sitting out on my bench. By the time I had to mix the batter, the butter was hard, and it turns out that no matter how much you cream hard butter, it will haunt your product to the end. Ugh.

See those pale flecks of butter in the cookies? That is what happens when you use cold butter to make cookies. To be clear, the butter WAS room temperature when I retrieved it from the pantry, but it hardened sitting out on my bench (the kitchen was 50 degrees). By the time I had to mix the batter, the butter was hard, and it turns out that no matter how much you cream hard butter, it will haunt your product to the end. Also, I didn’t mix the chocolate chips in evenly enough. I was so worried I’d made the cookies tough from beating the batter (in my futile attempt to soften that butter) that by the time I added the chocolate chips, I felt like I couldn’t afford to let that paddle beat another minute.

I should have refrigerated my pie shell before filling it. That would have prevented the retraction you see on the crust. Once again, impatience got the best of me.

I should have refrigerated my pie shell before filling it. That would have prevented the retraction you see on the crust. Once again, impatience got the best of me.