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…

Merry Christmas!

Last year was probably my favorite Christmas ever since it was Lydia’s first Christmas where she understood what was going on. This year is a close second, though. It didn’t feel rushed or harried or crazy, even with all of the activity.

Here’s what the activity was: homemade orange rolls, spelt/gruyere/spinach strata, quinoa pilaf, roasted brussel sprouts, baked pears and hot chocolate. Two family get-togethers. Three rounds of present openings. There was also Skyping with Uncle Clark and Aunt Swathi, a little piano and some dish washing thrown in there. From morning until night, this Christmas was filled with family and fun, and it made me happy that my original Christmas wish was not granted (that we just skip over Christmas and go straight to tomorrow–I know, super grinchy wish, right?).

Karin, Jay, Jere, David and Balu joined us for brunch and present round #2. We had lots of fun conversation, and Lydia enjoyed sneaking as many caramels as she could while everyone was distracted. Then Tom and Suzanne came over for present round #3; we had only fifteen minutes before we were supposed to leave for the Darais family dinner in Pleasant Grove, so that round of present unwrapping was craaazy. And then we headed down to Pleasant Grove, where we ate more. Lydia loved watching the other kids play, and she especially loved trailing behind Isabella, the only cousin on that side that she actually knows. At the end, she watched a bunch of girls around Isabella’s age and just started calling them all Isabella.

During the family Christmas program, Lydia wandered around having full-blown, animated conversations with herself. I need to ask the pediatrician if this is healthy, normal toddler behavior or if I need to renew my energy on the play date front.

Here are today’s many pictures (and I considered myself restrained and even negligent on the picture front today, which, in light of all the pictures I’m posting, seems ironic):

Lydia was reunited with her cat!!! It was a joyful reunion.

Lydia was reunited with her cat!!! It was a joyful reunion.

Uncle Clark and Aunt Swathi gave the girls a castle tent. Now each girl has one.

Uncle Clark and Aunt Swathi gave the girls a castle tent. Now each girl has one. (Last night Loralee gave the girls another one!)

Opening one of Nana's gifts--a mailbox.

Opening one of Nana’s gifts–a mailbox.

Mary with her new Eric Carle "smart pad."

Mary with her new Eric Carle “smart pad.”

I took a picture of the tree because I will miss it.

I took a picture of the tree because I will miss it.

Mary got a bump. Nana helped her feel better.

Mary got a bump. Nana helped her feel better.

Lydia watched the Muppet's Christmas Carol again, this time snuggled up with her cat.

Lydia watched the Muppet’s Christmas Carol again, this time snuggled up with her cat.

Some of the food. I forgot to take pictures of the rest...

Some of the food. I forgot to take pictures of the rest…

Present round #2. Showing off her new shirt from Jere and David.

Present round #2. Showing off her new shirt from Jere and David.

Present round #3. Thanks, Grandma! Lydia loves her new craft set!!

Present round #3. Thanks, Grandma! Lydia loves her new craft set!!

Mary unwrapping a present. Lydia helped her open most of hers, but she did this one by herself.

Mary unwrapping a present. Lydia helped her open most of hers, but she did this one by herself.

Thanks, Grandma! Mary loves her new toys!!

Thanks, Grandma! Mary loves her new toys!!

Before we left for Provo, I discovered Mary here. She was loving her new tent and toys.

Before we left for Provo, I discovered Mary here. She was loving her new tent and toys.

Christmas Eve

Merry Christmas! Technically, it’s already Christmas. All I can say is, at least Abe and I are not in the throes of assembling Lydia’s kitchen–which is what we were doing last Christmas until 3am. He’s still downstairs wrapping the last present and tidying up, and I am typing as fast as I can so we can go to bed. Tomorrow I have to get up at 6 am to start the orange rolls.

Today has been loooong. It started with scriptures and Bikram yoga–a delightful combination, made better by Anique’s company at yoga. Then we both did some last minute grocery shopping, after which Abe and I went to Barnes and Noble to do our Christmas shopping. Before today, we had not even started to think about the process. The busy mall comforted us and helped us feel better about the fact that we are not the only procrastinators of the season.

Then I came home and played some piano, after which we headed over to the Miner’s for their Christmas Eve celebration. They do readings, songs and a talent show of sorts, so that was fun. I always miss the First Presbyterian Church of Evanston on Christmas Eve, because the pageant there never failed to bring home the story of Christ’s birth for me. But since there’s no similar event here, it is really nice to celebrate with Suzanne’s family. Plus they have a great cookie buffet at the end.

After that, we put out cookies and a letter for Santa, and we told the girls to listen for the reindeer as they fell asleep. Abe shook some bells outside their door and said, “Ho! Ho! Ho!” We could hear Lydia inside telling Mary to be good and that Santa was here to bring her cat back.

Then I made stratas for our brunch tomorrow, and Abe wrapped all of the presents. We still have to order some gifts online, and then we’ll be done and ready for bed!

Here are today’s pictures:

The girls started the day in bed with Nana reading books.

The girls started the day in bed with Nana reading books.

Lydia sometimes cries so much she gets a nosebleed. Or she picks her nose to the point where she gets a nosebleed. I think the latter happened here.

Lydia sometimes cries so much she gets a nosebleed. Or she picks her nose to the point where she gets a nosebleed. I think the latter happened here.

Leaving cookies for Santa.

Leaving cookies for Santa.

Writing a note to Santa.

Writing a note to Santa.

The note Lydia helped dictate to Abe.

The note Lydia helped dictate to Abe.

See that blue bag? I didn't see it until this evening, but Abe brought it up from where he's been storing it, and it turns out that Clark and Swathi sent us a microwave for Christmas! Those two. They are the sweetest siblings ever. But Abe has been eyeing the bag the microwave came in, and he used it as "Santa's sack." Also, note Lydia's cat peeking out of her stocking. We are so excited for her to reunite with him!

See that blue bag? I didn’t see it until this evening, but Abe brought it up from where he’s been storing it, and it turns out that Clark and Swathi sent us a microwave for Christmas! Those two. They are the sweetest siblings ever. But Abe has been eyeing the bag the microwave came in, and he used it as “Santa’s sack.” Also, note Lydia’s cat peeking out of her stocking. We are so excited for her to reunite with him!

Couldn’t cull the pics properly today…

In Sunday school today we had a lesson on one of my favorite topics, Zion. In Relief Society we discussed the mission of Jesus Christ (a lesson which Abe taught in Elder’s Quorum, and which intimidated him to no end). In Sacrament we had a fantastic Christmas program…but even after all of that, I didn’t feel like my day was super spiritually charged. I did feel uplifted, though, so church was not totally in vain.

Also, at the Linger Longer after church, we collected the pics of the girls with Santa from the ward Christmas party. Abe took the girls by himself to the party, so this is the first time I've seen these pictures. Note Lydia's finger up her nose. They retook the picture a TON of times before they got the bottom two with her finger out of her nose.

Also, at the Linger Longer after church, we collected the pics of the girls with Santa from the ward Christmas party. Abe took the girls by himself to the party, so this is the first time I’ve seen these pictures. Note Lydia’s finger up her nose. They retook the picture a TON of times before they got the bottom two with her finger out of her nose.

I spent most of the rest of the day in bed, although our home teachers came over to drop off some gorgeous cookies. I also played with my family and threw some cauliflower in the oven before we went over to a family party at the Miners’.

Abe pretended to be Santa and interviewed the girls. The pig puppet play was Mary's reward for being such a good girl.

Abe pretended to be Santa and interviewed the girls. The pig puppet play was Mary’s reward for being such a good girl. (Grandma, do you recognize that hat?)

Here's Lydia telling Santa about how good she's been.

Here’s Lydia telling Santa about how good she’s been.

Here's Lydia demonstrating to Santa her ability to share with Mary.

Here’s Lydia demonstrating to Santa her ability to share with Mary.

Santa was so proud.

Santa was so proud.

...And so Lydia got a puppy!

…And so Lydia got a puppy!

She was pleased.

She was pleased.

After that we played "fetch" with the puppy and Mary. Here's Mary throwing.

After that we played “fetch” with the puppy and Mary. Here’s Mary throwing.

Also proud of herself.

Also proud of herself.

And then I told Santa I wanted a snack, so the girls helped out and baked me a feast.

And then I told Santa I wanted a snack, so the girls helped out and baked me a feast.

Then I stopped taking pictures because my hands became full of “food.”

After a delicious evening at the Miners’, we came home and discovered that our friend, Aria, had dropped off some treats for us. I love Christmas.