Dinner with Jessica

Lydia had two nightmares last night, so her 7am request for tape (to fix one of the books she accidentally broke in her sleep) came a little early today. I felt like such a zombie this morning, and that feeling gave me a lot more compassion for my excessively low productivity/activity level this past three years. If I felt that sleep deprived (and let’s be honest, having a newborn and/or pregnancy is light years away from a mere two-nightmare night), then I should be celebrating the fact that I even managed to function at all.  Piano practice and cooking school would not even be remote possibilities under that level of fatigue.

During Mary’s nap, I made a beeline for bed. After that, I felt much better. So much better that I took the kids to the grocery store and the library. Then I cooked for the rest of the day because my responsible friend from cooking school, Jessica, came over for dinner.

She is a passionate foodie, so I wanted to try something I hadn’t done before. After scrolling through food blogs, I settled upon this post. Don’t those squash rings look dear? Well, let me tell you: They’re insanely, ridiculously complicated, especially if you, like me, have no knife skills to speak of. I practically lost my hand trying to cut those stupid squash rings, and finally, after hacking an entire acorn squash to bits and getting one ONE measly little ring out of it, I said to heck with it. Stuffed squash for dinner it was.

I should have glazed the squash with butter and maple syrup, but I was so demoralized by my cutting fiasco that I neglected the rest of the instructions.

Looks dry, doesn’t it? I should have glazed the squash with butter and maple syrup, but I was so demoralized by my cutting fiasco that I neglected to follow the rest of the directions.

By the time I took this picture, I had put the rest of the food (whipped sweet potatoes and roasted broccoli) away. Dessert was still on the table though.

Chocolate amaretto cake. Basically, you grind up amaretto cookies, zest some orange, melt some chocolate, add eggs and sugar, bake and voila! For the real recipe, click here.

Chocolate amaretto cake. Basically, you grind up amaretto cookies, zest some orange, melt some chocolate, add eggs and sugar, bake and voila! For the real recipe, click here. I can actually really vouch for this one–I’ve done it many times, and it’s pretty foolproof.

We so enjoyed our time with Jessica. We learned a lot about the military (she spent ten years in it, and even was in the head trauma unit in both Iraq and Afghanistan), and I had my heartstrings pulled by her personal stories. What a wonderful person.

In kid-related news, Mary has now learned to climb the stove. I kid you not. Tomorrow I will try to rearrange the kitchen, but in the meantime I have random pieces of furniture strewn everywhere from my various attempts to block her progress.

This is where she perched while I cooked. She'd alternate between eating her amaretto cookie and standing up to see if she could reach anything interesting on the counter.

This is where she perched while I cooked. She’d alternate between eating her amaretto cookie and standing up to see if she could reach anything interesting on the counter.

Of snowmen and Christmas concerts

Lydia woke up this morning screaming for chicken nuggets, which is especially funny since she’s only had them once (when we were desperate on a road trip over a year ago), and she threw them up an hour later. Abe and I spent the rest of the morning in a tired fog, and I lay in bed procrastinating my final project until noon.

We did, however, work in a Skype visit with my mom and grandma, during which they watched Lydia run through the extra-elaborate obstacle course Abe set up this morning. While he was setting it up, I was lying in bed. He kept coming over and asking for pillow after pillow until he sheepishly asked for the last one. I lay flat on my pillowless perch until we Skyped. It was pretty funny.

After I finally typed up my final, we slowly collected ourselves for our afternoon errands. Just as we were about to get in the car, Abe tested the snow and asked if he could have ten more minutes to build a snowman with the girls. Um, of course!

Building.

Building.

Bonding.

Bonding.

 

The finished product

The finished product.

Then we swung by the library and went clothes shopping for Abe. His new job is much more casual than his current job, and most of Abe’s casual clothes date back to college, high school, or even (in some choice cases), middle school. We bought him two pairs of jeans and a shirt. It’s a start.

Then we came home, and I vacuumed the most offensively dirty carpets in the house while Abe got dinner ready and fed the girls. We then rushed to bathe the girls because guess what? A couple days ago, Misty called and offered us some tickets to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir Christmas Concert at the Conference Center. Misty is the kind of friend you want to have.

We gleefully accepted her kind offer, and tonight we had such a wonderful time at the concert. The Church pulls out all the stops for its Christmas concert, and there are just no words to communicate the feast this event is for the eyes, ears, and heart. John Rhys-Davies (Gimli in Lord of the Rings) and Deborah Voigt were spectacular. John Rhys-Davies narrated the tale of how Charles Dickens came up with A Christmas Carol, and at one point he and another actor flew across the 20,000 audience members. He also read Luke 2…I wish I had a recording, because I would just play that on Christmas and call the rest of the holiday good. Deborah Voigt’s voice had me crying in song #1, and Richard Elliot’s arrangement of God Rest Ye Merry Gentleman on the organ was as acrobatic as it was, in John Rhys-Davies’ words, “pure genius.”

The program

The program

IMG_5799

After our joyful experience at the concert, Abe and I went about the more pragmatic task of grocery shopping. But hey, at 10pm, it felt kind of like an extension of our date. I’ll take it!

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!

Being a mom was fun today.

I went grocery shopping before Abe left to work today because I simply could not bear the thought of attempting that with two girls in the snow. As soon as I returned, we loaded the girls up in my car and I took them to the library to pay down the $25 I have in fines. I “pay” these down by reading to my children, sometimes for hours at a time. The library credits you with $1 for every ten minutes you read to one child. Since I have two children, I get $2   instead. Today our reading session was cut short by Mary, who became a little sad an hour and a half after her normal morning nap time. I still paid down $8.40, though! It felt great.

Mary picking out a book at the library.

Mary picking out a book at the library.

Lydia doing the same.

Lydia doing the same.

 

After the library, looking happy that she gets to eat and nap soon.

After the library, looking happy that she gets to eat and nap soon.

After the library, I proceeded to have a fantastic day. The only thing missing from yesterday and today has been exercise, but other than that, I feel absolutely no panic or stress. I’ve come to terms with the sub-par work I’ve been handing in at school, and I’ve started restoring balance by spending more time with my kids. Reading to them lowers my stress level and makes me feel better, and so I’ve decided to start scheduling that into my daily goals just like I schedule in the piano, scriptures, school, and exercise.  Hopefully that will help.

And Lydia is back to doing quiet time without any type of protest, so that makes my life AWESOME. Today Mary took a three hour nap, and Lydia’s quiet time extended to three hours because she elected to take a nap, too. I spent that whole time wasting my life on the internet, but you know what? After mindlessly staring at my iPad for three hours, I emerged the best, most attentive mom I’ve been–ever? I really think it’s ever. I told Abe on the phone that I have never been as nice or as fun a mom as I was this evening, and I wish I could be that way all the time!

We read books and pretended to eat the food Mary cooked for us in their play kitchen.

We read books and pretended to eat the food Mary cooked for us in their play kitchen.

After accidentally kneeling in a puddle of Mary’s pee (she peed with anticipation upon seeing the bath fill up), I jumped into the bath with my kids and let them wash my hair and scrub my peed-on knees with soap. They seemed to have so much fun that I didn’t even need to get the bath toys wet. Plus I got clean, and since I’m not sure when I last showered, that’s no small boon.

Abe’s out of town tonight, so I think I will continue my irresponsible behavior and waste more time online now…

When Abe leaves town, sometimes he leaves me notes around the house. It's so sweet. Today I came home and found a bunch of notes on the walls. Here's one (in the background).

When Abe leaves town, sometimes he leaves me notes around the house. It’s so sweet. Today I came home and found a bunch of notes on the walls. Here’s one (in the background).

Oh! I almost forgot. Lydia said the cutest prayer by herself tonight. She said thank-you that Daddy, Mama and Nana all love Mary and her so much, and then she added a thank-you for her cat. She then said that she thought the cat would not mind if she went on a trip and bought him a gift. And then she went off on a long tangent about what would happen on her trip…

A little later, after the girls were in bed, I listened at the door and heard Lydia entertaining Mary with tales about our India trip. She said, “India is a place where we go to stay. You can have lunch there, Mary, and I will dance. Dance, dance, dance!” (She did some dancing at one of the wedding parties there.)