Almost. Done.

Tomorrow I turn in my last final. I just submitted my second final project (due yesterday) online. At class tonight I submitted the project I did yesterday night. I am tired. And so, without further ado, here are today’s pictures:

We had a play date and dinner, with our friend, Jill, and her four kids.

We had a play date and dinner, with our lovely friend, Jill, and her four sweet kids. Her husband is deployed right now, and I have no idea how she does it. But she is amazing, and she does it.

I came upstairs to discover Lydia trying to convince Megan, Lillian, and Nolan to watch her go potty. Maybe we have praised her too much; she now thinks that going to the potty is akin to a performing art--something everyone would enjoy seeing!

I came upstairs to discover Lydia trying to convince Megan, Lillian, and Nolan to watch her go potty. Maybe we have praised her too much; she now thinks that going to the potty is akin to a performing art–something everyone would enjoy seeing.

yucky imagery and my conversion to Harmon’s

So yesterday ended on a high note, and this morning was a hard fall back to reality. Lydia got spanked three times before 7:10am (and Abe was traveling, so guess who the mean parent was?). I felt so bad for the rest of the morning–especially since Lydia was so remorseful and apologized out of the blue hours later. (I spanked her because she started screaming when I told her it was still dark out and she needed to go back to bed. I was afraid she’d wake Mary, but in retrospect I wish I had been a lot more patient.)

But she perked up at preschool with her friends, so that was happy. While Lydia was at preschool, I took Mary to the library for story time. She loved it, and I was so happy to have some time to focus on her the way I used to focus on Lydia. We checked out more books, and then I picked Lydia up early from preschool because Mary was getting tired and needed to nap.

After story time, Mary ventured over to play with some other children.

After story time, Mary ventured over to play with some other children.

After I brought the girls home, I got an hour of practice in and cooked dinner while Mary napped and Lydia watched Sesame Street. When Mary woke up, I fed the girls and then put them down for quiet time and naps again. Lydia begged me for an hour and a half to tuck her in for a nap, but I was so busy feeding Mary and cooking dinner that by the time I got around to it, the poor thing was exhausted and didn’t wake up until I woke her.

I stuffed chard with lentils, rice, corn, raisins, and Myzithra cheese, and then i covered it all in tomato sauce. I am hoping culinary school will help me figure out how to make stuffed chard attractive; I tried taking pictures of the individual rolls, but they looked too similar to green poop to post.

I stuffed chard with lentils, rice, corn, raisins, and Myzithra cheese, and then i covered it all in tomato sauce. I am hoping culinary school will help me figure out how to make stuffed chard attractive; I tried taking pictures of the individual rolls, but they looked too similar to green poop to post. Here they just kind of look like vomit and blood (sorry for the imagery! But it’s accurate, don’t you think?)

I then packed the kids into the car and met Abe at his office, where I handed over the kids before heading to class. Today we took a field trip to Harmon’s, and after all the stuff we learned tonight, I will be taking the business I currently give to Whole Foods over to Harmon’s. The knowledge of the staff, the loyalty they have to their store, and the quality of the products was mind blowing. There are times when the fish you see in their display is a mere four hours from being caught in the ocean. !!!!! Does that not blow your mind? It blew mine. Also, our Whole Foods has been cutting down its produce section, while Harmon’s produce section is expansive, fresh and seductive. All around, I am now a Harmon’s fan.

I also found out that my final projects are due THIS FRIDAY (and Saturday, for my online class). Can you believe how fast that went? I can’t, especially since I haven’t started my projects. Guess what I’ll be doing tomorrow!

[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.

Mostly the pictures

Here’s what happened today: Treadmill. Preschool. Food prep. Reading. A little piano. A little felting. Reading to my kids. A little cleaning. Class.

It’s hard to come up with much to say about today. I had a lot less panic and anxiety today–go, treadmill, go! Also, I cuddled my babies a lot. They were exceptionally lovable today.

Here are the pictures:

I have a million pictures like this from today.

I have a million pictures like this from today.

...But I'm only going to post two.

…But I’m only going to post two.

Okay, okay. Three.

Okay, okay. Three.

Also, Lydia got a postcard album from her cat. She was beside herself with joy.

Also, Lydia got a postcard album from her cat. She was beside herself with joy.

Thanks, Beth, for doing that for Lydia! It was the sweetest gift ever. You are the best!

Thanks, Beth, for doing that for Lydia! It was the sweetest gift ever. We love you so much!

The Big Confession. I.e., I am a [well intentioned!!!!!] hypocrite.

Okay, I haven’t been able to sleep well since I wrote my little blurb on modesty, so I’ve decided to air the reasons why the post was so hypocritical. Please don’t get me wrong; I believe absolutely everything I wrote, but in terms of “walking the walk,” um, I certainly don’t (or at least didn’t use to) walk it. I intend to do better in the present and the future, but, as many of my previous roommates can attest, I certainly didn’t adhere to those guidelines in the past.

Okay, it hurts to even type this, but after my mission I spent approximately $10,000 on laser hair removal. (The first rounds didn’t work, so I had to start from the beginning in grad school.) Take that, poor people of the world! Also, I’m sure I have spent no less than hundreds of hours trying to tame my hair (and hogging plenty of mirrors…sorry, ex-roommies!). And, as long as I am confessing, during stressful periods of my life, I also have engaged in major spurts of “retail therapy.” A saint in the spending department I am not.

But my studies recently have led me to my present views on modesty, and since life is all about learning and moving forward in continually enlightened states, I am hoping to do better in the future. I hope my daughters will do better than I did in the modesty department, but I guess even if they succumb to the beauty culture that saturates our society, that’s not the end of the world, right? Hopefully they can keep learning and moving on, too, and I hope I can give them and everyone else lots of room to do that. (Also, if any one of them wants laser hair removal, I WILL fund that for them. I’ll try to offset that offensive spending by serving missions from age 50-death.)

Okay. Lots more skeletons in my closet, but at least those are the ones that kept me up at night recently. Maybe I can finally sleep well tonight?

Also, in terms of today, it has an icky feeling about it. Abe got some really bad news in his private off-the-blog life, and I just feel so sick for him. He’s so resilient and optimistic, but it pains me to see such a good person endure a trial.

Before I heard his bad news, I let Lydia have “do-whatever-you-want” time, which is different than quiet time because she’s allowed to leave her room. It was an experiment, and it worked! Lately, she’s had an allergic reaction to the start of “quiet time,” and even though once it started she appeared to have fun, I just felt bad about how much she didn’t like starting quiet time. Anyway, the only rule in “do-whatever-you-want” time is that she can’t interrupt my piano practice, and she did great! She even wandered into the living room and played near me at times, but she never interrupted. Considering I got in three hours of practice and made dinner, this was a toddler feat.

Also, all I did during practice was try to memorize the really simple, one page Traumerai. I can not even begin to describe how difficult that simple task was for my burnt out brain. After all that work, I doubt if I try to play it from memory tomorrow I will succeed. Well, who even knows if I’ll get a chance since we have a four-hour wedding and then Diwali in the evening.

That’s my cue to post pictures…:

Cookie break at Whole Foods this morning.

Cookie break at Whole Foods this morning.

Post-lunch, pre-nap play.

Post-lunch, pre-nap play.

Better go get the phone!

Better go get the phone!

Mommy, it's for you!

Mommy, it’s for you!

Lydia waiting for me to stop taking pictures and start reading to her already.

Lydia waiting for me to stop taking pictures and start reading to her already.

almost forgot

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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