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.

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…

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.

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:

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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.

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:

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