Lice crazy and Too Much Information (after the pics)

Did I neglect to mention in my last post that after we thought Mary was the only person with lice, Abe discovered a ton of nits in my hair Friday night? Yeah, I thought so. Between that time and now, my hair has undergone: RID (scary, ineffective pesticide treatment), multiple sessions of nit comb-throughs, LiceFree! Spray, three blow-dry treatments (so hot and long that I thought my scalp would burn off), two tea-tree oil shampoo washes, a priesthood blessing, and right now: I have soaked 1/4 cup of pure tea tree oil into my scalp. Tome gave me an 8 ounce bottle, bless his heart. Oh, and I’ve laundered my sheets every day since Thursday.

From Amazon, arriving soon are these three exciting products: A Robi comb (a battery charged comb that zaps lice with electricity so that they die on contact), a Terminator comb (best lice comb on the market!), and a giant VAT of tea-tree oil shampoo.

All of last night’s dreams revolved around picking lice off of my head. Do I sound crazy and obsessed? That’s about how I feel. Poor Abe just wants a break, but every time we have a spare moment, I hand him a comb and order him to get to work on my hair. While he does that I pore over the Amazon reviews of different lice products and read them like it’s therapy. Most people write their terrifying lice stories into their review and send words of encouragement and support to the review reader. The reviews make me feel like I have a global support group.

When I am not actively combating lice, I perform tasks in a distracted state and have several times thought I might be losing my mind. Case in point: Yesterday, after forgetting a bag of groceries at the store, I went out and climbed back into the passenger seat of the car and sat there for a minute before I realized the car wasn’t going to drive itself back to the store.

Okay, enough about lice (even though, honestly, that’s basically all I think about). Today was General Conference! A welcome, uplifting, four hour distraction. One of my favorite talks was Elder Holland’s about caring for the poor. I also liked Elder Bednar’s talk on missionary work. He pointed out that the reason we do missionary work is because we have felt that power of the atonement in our own lives and desire the same blessing for others. That’s kind of how I feel about LiceFree! Spray and tea tree oil–I want to share the info with EVERYONE so no one else has to go through the panic and icky pesticides I used before figuring out which products worked. Oops! I wasn’t going to write more about lice…

I’ll just cut to the pictures:

Lydia and I made this plum cake today. I needed a pick-me-up. I should have taken a picture...but guess what? I have enough plums to make it again tomorrow, so maybe I'll just do that since this one disappeared.

Lydia and I made this plum cake today. I needed a pick-me-up. I should have taken a picture…but guess what? I have enough plums to make it again tomorrow, so maybe I’ll just do that since this one disappeared. Also, doesn’t my hair look like a perfect home for lice? I would chop it all off, but no salon can legally do that for me until this ordeal is over, at which point I will probably reconsider.

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I discovered Mary reading Each Peach, Pear, Plum while the plum cake was baking.

I discovered Mary reading Each Peach, Pear, Plum while the plum cake was baking.

Abe must have taken this one.

Abe must have taken this one.

Tom and Suzanne came over for dinner. Tom gave Abe a blessing afterwards.

Tom and Suzanne came over for dinner. Tom gave Abe a blessing afterwards.

Tom reading to the girls.

Tom reading to the girls.

I love the mountains in the background. Of course, I also find the little girl in the foreground quite endearing as well.

I love the mountains in the background. Of course, I also find the little girl in the foreground quite endearing as well.

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Also, here’s a daily dose of Too Much Information: After I spent all that time in the hospital with my friend Andrea, who had to deliver her stillborn daughter, I decided I wanted to get pregnant again. Maybe it’s because I wanted the baby to be alive, or maybe it’s because I love spending time in Labor and Delivery (really, I love that floor of the hospital), but I emerged from that experience wanting, for the first time in two years, to be pregnant again. Didn’t happen the first month (which was really about two weeks before my period came), and now I have soaked my hair twice in pesticides, so I think I’ll give my body another couple months to get these chemicals out of its system before trying again. Sad.

On the upside, I have a couple classes left on my Bikram yoga pass, so I can at least use those up now! (I can’t while trying to get pregnant because the heat isn’t good for in-utero babies).

Cupcake competition, etc.

I am so exhausted I can barely function, but guess what? I won second place at the cupcake competition this morning! Since we had to use garlic, I made a garlic/chocolate gingerbread cupcake with cream cheese frosting and a garlic/ginger/walnut brittle on top. In my humble opinion, the cupcake turned out delicious! Actually, everyone did a great job. The winner had been practicing her cupcake for over a month, so I think she deserved to win (although I secretly liked mine better). Here are everyone’s cupcakes:

Mine!

Mine! I used this recipe. I added blanched, minced garlic and ginger to the cupcake.  I can’t find the link I used for the brittle, but basically I found a garlic brittle recipe and added some ginger (both powdered and fresh, blanched and minced).

This is a chocolate garlic cupcake with hibiscus icing and an inside surprise of figs soaked in a port wine reduction.

This is a chocolate garlic cupcake with hibiscus icing and an inside surprise of figs soaked in a port wine reduction.

cornmeal cupcakes with saffron icing and avocado garnish.

cornmeal cupcakes with saffron icing and avocado garnish.

an ancho chile chocolate cupcake next to the winner, a basil cupcake soaked in a garlic simple syrup topped with blackberry icing, white chocolate and garlic brittle.

an ancho chile chocolate cupcake next to the winner, a basil cupcake soaked in a garlic simple syrup topped with blackberry icing, white chocolate and garlic brittle.

One of the cupcakes wasn't pictured, but it was a garlic chocolate mousse cupcake with a garlicky ganache. It was really garlicky, but very good!

One of the cupcakes wasn’t pictured, but it was a garlic chocolate mousse cupcake with a garlicky ganache. It was really garlicky, but very good!

The contenders ready for judgment.

The contenders ready for judgment.

Abe and the girls showed up at the end, but they didn’t let them in the kitchen. I gave them cupcakes to go outside and eat:

cupcake mary cupcake mary cupcake2 lydia eating cupcakeI won a James Beard Award winning cookbook on bread baking (can’t remember the title) and a bunch of things that I actually already own. But it was still so fun!

Here are the other activities of the day:

6 am Bikram Yoga; getting my mom’s car serviced/washed; errands at Target, the gas station, sprouts and Smith’s Garden Center; FHE; planting tomatoes as a family (almost all of the plants I planted earlier died from frost and, um, because I forgot to water them); cooking dinner; eating outside; cleaning the kitchen; bathing the girls; paying bills; tidying various parts of the house.

Here are the accompanying pictures:

Abe took a break from paying bills and played with Lydia. It was one of the happiest parts of his day.

Abe took a break from paying bills and played with Lydia. It was one of the happiest parts of his day.

lydia cooking for abe2 lydia playing with abe

Planting tomatoes. Lydia went really nuts with the hose and basically gave the entire exterior of our house a big shower.

Planting tomatoes. Lydia went really nuts with the hose and basically gave the entire exterior of our house a big shower.

Abe and I have been trying to watch a movie for months. We are both so tired–but we’re determined to finally watch one. I think we might to either Saving Mr. Banks or Lincoln. (Whichever’s shorter??)

 

Happy Mother’s Day!

This was, hands down, the BEST Mother’s Day I have ever had. Abe did an amazing job making me feel loved and appreciated, and every part of the day felt special and meaningful. He made strawberry pancakes for breakfast, and both the girls and I appreciated the results of his morning effort. Abe hasn’t had a lot of chance to cook in his life, but one thing he does really, really well (waaaaay better than I ever could) is make pancakes and waffles.

He also gave me my favorite cookbook of the moment, Love Soup. I am so excited to have it. I have had it checked out from the library for weeks and have been debating returning it…now I finally can!

Church was wonderful, and Mary made it through nursery all by herself. That left Abe to teach his lesson and me to pay attention to mine. We had some inspiring classes, and the questions that provoked the most reflection in me was: What does it mean to love God with all your heart, might, mind and strength? Are those different types of love? What is a manifestation of loving God with your heart vs. loving God with your strength?

After church, we invited our friends, the Andersons, over to join us for lunch. Abe made veggie sandwiches and I tried out this recipe for strawberry rhubarb bars. I was busy talking and accidentally added the cornstarch to the crumble–oops!–but they came out okay in spite of that.

Ada and Lydia played so nicely together the whole time, and Abe and I basically just love talking to Paige and Mike. They are so interesting and fun.

After they left, we called my mom and grandma, Skyped with Grandma Forsyth, Skyped with Clark and Swathi, and went to the Miner’s for dinner. It felt so meaningful to catch up with our moms, grandmothers, and siblings–perhaps that’s one of the things that made this day feel so special. I just loved connecting with people I love and the mothers who have made so many sacrifices for us. Grandma Forsyth asked me to play a piece for her, and after I played, she told me that the Chopin Scherzo #2 made her imagine a little child stealing cookies from the cookie jar and being continually caught by his mother. It was an incredibly apt image, and I think I will never hear/play that piece the same way.

For the sad news: No pictures today. We were so caught up in each activity and in such a rush to get to the next activity all day long that we never had a chance to take a picture. So sorry! Tomorrow that will change.

To my mom and grandma: I know I say this a lot, but I love you so much. My life is this good only because of your beautiful lives and examples. I draw strength and inspiration from you every day. Happy Mother’s Day!

Hermit day

Today Lydia woke up convinced that today was my birthday and that we needed to bake a green birthday cake. It was a sweet sentiment, but we compromised and just baked these muffins for the second time this week. Lydia got to cover three of the muffins in sprinkles. I should have taken a picture, but they disappeared so fast, there was really hardly a chance.

We were hermits today, so the rest of the day felt kind of blurry. I know we scrubbed the upstairs tub and read some books. I practiced some piano. I ran on the treadmill and watched more of my Mitt Romney documentary while Lydia talked nonstop about making Anna and Elsa cards. Lydia and I made pizza and kale for dinner.

I joined Amazon Prime at the student rate and finally ordered myself some socks. I am always out of them and have been looking forward to getting some more ever since our tax return arrived. (Ha. That makes me sound so restrained. Actually, ever since the tax return arrived, I’ve been so busy ordering stuff that I just now got around to solving my socks problem…)

Speaking of ordering stuff, I finally called some Springfield shops to send my mom and grandma a Mother’s Day gift, but because I was so late, they refused to deliver anything until Monday. Sorry, Mom and Grandma! My love will manifest itself a day late this year.

I found out on Thursday our cooking team is taking tomorrow off, so I am going to have another Saturday at home with my family. I am so excited. I guess I’ll post some pictures and daydream about what to do with my Saturday!

Lydia wore her princess dress on and off all day. It was a little tricky because her nose kept bleeding on and off all day too. The dress stayed clean until the second to last nosebleed...I am afraid that Lydia and I gave higher priority to her dress than to her poor nose.

Lydia wore her princess dress on and off all day. It was a little tricky because her nose kept bleeding on and off all day too. The dress stayed clean until the second to last nosebleed…I am afraid that Lydia and I gave higher priority to her dress than to her poor nose.

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For FHE Abe taught a lesson on mothers. His activity was to have the girls take care of me. Lydia used her doctor kit to make me feel better, and Mary made me delicious food. Eventually, being sick looked so fun that Abe fell deathly ill and needed assistance too.

For FHE Abe taught a lesson on mothers. His activity was to have the girls take care of me. Lydia used her doctor kit to make me feel better, and Mary made me delicious food. Eventually, being sick looked so fun that Abe fell deathly ill and needed assistance too.

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The Simmons and a prayer

We got to church over an hour late today…oops! Guess we stayed up too late last night.

During Sacrament meeting, Mary lay on the floor and cuddled Chester, a service dog. (His owner is our friend and gave us explicit, unsolicited permission.) Lydia, who is scared of dogs, interrupted the whole meeting by crying in a loud, terrified voice," Daddy!! Get May-wee! Chester is going to eat her!!"

During Sacrament meeting, Mary lay on the floor and cuddled Chester, a service dog. (His owner is our friend and gave us explicit, unsolicited permission.) Lydia, who is scared of dogs, interrupted the whole meeting by crying in a loud, terrified voice,” Daddy!! Get May-wee! Chester is going to eat her!!”

In other news, we caught up on sleep all afternoon, and then I cooked for the rest of the day. We had Balu, Fallon, Morgan, Audrey and Eli over for dinner. I made stuffed pumpkins again ($1 pumpkins at Sprouts right now!) and followed through with the actual kale-garlic mashed potatoes recipe that I didn’t quite finish last week. Last night I dried out spelt bread for the pumpkins. I think this time was the best go of the pumpkins yet; the quality of the bread makes SUCH a difference! In my ideal world, the next time I’d try this would be with brioche or challah…but let’s be serious. That type of bread wouldn’t last long enough to go stale in my house, so spelt might be as good as it gets.

Audrey and Lydia and Mary spent the evening running around the house playing with each other. It was so cute to see how Audrey and Lydia included Mary in their play and even became distressed when Mary would wander back to the grown-ups. Meanwhile, the grown-ups were going ga-ga over 23 pound, one-year old Eli (his 3 year old sister, Audrey, weighs a mere three pounds more than he). He kept flashing the table these adorable, mile-wide grins that melted us right down through the floor.

Balu was a great sport and endured another dinner conversation about parenting, Provo and potty-training, and he remained jovial through it all. We love him.

At bedtime, Lydia said the most beautiful prayer of her life. I have Balu, my mom, and Abe to corroborate what I’m recording, and I hope if I get any of it wrong or leave out parts, they’ll help me amend this post later. We did not help Lydia at all–this is just what was in her heart tonight.

“Fank-you (“thank-you”) that Balu and Nana could come over. Fank-you that Daddy could get a new job. Fank-you that May-wee and me can get a good sweep (sleep). Fank-you for Marian (Anderson, the African American opera singer from the 30’s). Fank-you for my new books. Fank-you that we can sleep in late. Fank-you for all of my bwessings (blessings). In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.”

I’m sure I’m leaving parts out because it was quite a long prayer, but that’s what I remember. At the end we were all so grateful for our sweet, grateful little girl.

Here are today’s pictures:

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After Mary's nap, we neglected to go to her right away. We then found Lydia by Mary's Pack 'n Play saying, "Ma-wee, are you awake sweet baby? Do you want to get out of your cwib?" It was very touching.

After Mary’s nap, we neglected to go to her right away. We then found Lydia by Mary’s Pack ‘n Play saying, “May-wee, are you awake sweet baby? Do you want to get out of your cwib?” It was very touching.

A perfect ending

I started off the day with an 8am session of Bikram Yoga. It felt awesome, and I hit 180 minutes of exercise this week! When I saw my doctor last week, he said to shoot for 150 minutes, so it felt really great to meet that goal.

I also finished the Book of Mormon yesterday, so I started again on the title page today. I have been thinking a lot about truth, courage, and missionary work lately. Missionary work confuses me, but thinking about it in terms of absolute truths helps me understand it a little better. Finishing and restarting a reading of the Book of Mormon always gets the juices flowing around truth, so my scripture study felt meaningful.

I even got some practice in, although my piano is by a huge window and can NEVER stay in tune. Right now it’s so out of tune I almost shudder to hear some registers (especially the upper), but I pressed on (!) through the awful sounds.

We also played in the snow today. Abe is sure that by the end of winter we will have a full blown snow fort, so he and the girls worked hard on it today:

Working hard on the snow fort.

Working hard on the snow fort.

Mary was at the ready.

Mary was at the ready.

And happy about it.

And happy about it.

:Lydia busied herself decorating the ground with snow angels.

:Lydia busied herself decorating the ground with snow angels.

The snow fort.

The snow fort.

We also went to This is the Place Heritage Park for their Candlelight Christmas with Balu, Tom, Suzanne, Steve, Charlie and Henry. We walked all over, sampling gingerbread, square dancing, learning about the first Christmas cards, signing Santa’s lists, meeting Santa, eating the best doughnuts I have ever had, and feeling moved by the live Nativity. Lydia spent the whole day anticipating the Baby Jesus and kept talking about how she would be quiet and not wake him, how she’d give him a binky, and how she’d take off her gloves when she saw him (I have no idea about that last part, but she was adamant…). Anyway, I love that place. To make it even better, at the end, Abe bought me a new wedding ring!!! I can only wear a plain band in my lab classes, and we found a plain silver band for $14.50!!!!!! It fit perfectly, and since I’ll probably wear it for the next decade, I could not be more pleased.

Mary Berry in her poof outfit. She toddled all around the park in this and kind of stole the show.

Mary Berry in her poof outfit. She toddled all around the park in this and kind of stole the show.

When I came home, I baked more cookies.

I baked a forest of bittersweet chocolate Christmas trees. Now if I can just get around to packaging them and giving them away before I eat them all...

I baked a forest of bittersweet chocolate Christmas trees. Now if I can just get around to packaging them and giving them away before I eat them all…

Oh! I made another pint of lemon curd today. I think I’m going to make this for Christmas brunch. It just so happens I have a lot of mascarpone and now a ton of lemon curd in the fridge already. Now I just have to make a million crepes and it’ll be all downhill from there.

And now, my mom is here!!! So I’m going to stop blogging and go talk to her.

Loving: today.

This morning we got off to a rocky, tantrum-y start; I even had the thought, “Oh, no! It’s only 8:30am and I’ve already had it up to HERE with being a mom!” …but things got better as soon as I took the girls to the Gateway Children’s Museum. They had so much fun playing in the water, “shopping,” climbing up stuff, and decorating paper stockings. We were the only ones who signed up for the stocking class, so they had the whole quiet craft room to themselves. It was such a nice note to end on, and the girls were both perfectly behaved–Mary didn’t even poop until we got back home. So considerate of her.

Lydia and I spent Mary’s nap reading a bunch of Christmas stories and playing the Primary book’s Christmas songs together, and at dinner I almost lost my voice cheering for every single bite Lydia took of her squash. (She took approximately 30…I lost count around 23 because around then I started cheering and playing high-five and tickle/hug games with Lydia in between each bite.) I cuddled Mary a lot, and basically enjoyed my children for the rest of the day. I ended up LOVING being a mom today.

After the kids went down, I learned a really simple, sweet piece called “Shepherd Boy,” by Grieg. The meditative, soft progression of the notes helped me reflect on the Good Shepherd and on the shepherds that visited Jesus. Considering one of my recording deadlines is fast approaching (the end of December–YIKES!), this was ultimately a foolish way to spend the limited time I have at the piano. But it also made my evening feel perfect, so I guess I don’t regret it that much.

I then discovered that Talenti ice cream containers are the perfect way to store the lemon curd I made today. I polished off the rest of the ice cream just in case I need another container tomorrow…

lemon curd.

My friend, Cierra, gave me this recipe. It didn’t turn out like hers because I had to attend to several emergencies while I was supposed to be stirring, but it was still delicious. Here’s where she got her recipe.

The only thing that would make the evening even better is if Abe had not JUST started his trip home from Rock Springs. I hate him traveling those middle-of-nowhere roads in the middle of the night, but guess what? This is his last trip with Guardsmark! Hip, hip, hooray!

And so for today’s pictures:

Why did I cuddle Mary so much today? Well, she missed her morning nap because of our outing, and she was a little sad for the rest of the day. Also, she kept getting stuck on this chair.

Why did I cuddle Mary so much today? Well, she missed her morning nap because of our outing, and she was a little sad for the rest of the day. Also, she kept getting stuck on this chair.

I forgot to post this picture from yesterday. Isn't it cute?

I forgot to post this picture from yesterday. Isn’t it cute?

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.

posting a little late (or super early, depending…)

Didn’t post last night because I was feeling icky. We have a terrible inversion in Salt Lake, and I think the air is actually making me sick.

Anyway, after not sleeping much last night, I decided to get up early and blog. Grandma, I love you, and I want you to have something new to see today…although it’s probably not that exciting!

Here are the pics from yesterday:

After all of the obstacle course training, Mary is unstoppable. You are probably wondering why I am not running to get her down, but listen. She does stuff like this all day long, and I'm just glad she's not on the table. (I would forgo the picture and get her down if she had succeeded in getting on that table.)

After all of the obstacle course training, Mary is unstoppable. You are probably wondering why I am not running to get her down, but listen. She does stuff like this all day long, and I’m just glad she’s not on the table. (I would forgo the picture and get her down if she had succeeded in getting on that table.)

The girls played with my embroidery hoop all day. Here's Lydia telling us that she's wearing a crown. Mary preferred to wear it like a necklace while performing her climbing tricks.

The girls played with my embroidery hoop all day. Here’s Lydia telling us that she’s wearing a crown. Mary preferred to wear it like a necklace while performing her climbing tricks.

Also, I made sloppy lentils. I love sloppy joe's, but I don't love the meat. This has everything good about a sloppy joe with the added benefit of the lentils.

Also, I made sloppy lentils. I love sloppy joe’s, but I don’t love the meat. This has everything good about a sloppy joe with the added benefit of lentils. I found the recipe here.

 

Let’s see. We went to the Schulz’s house for a play date in the morning with Sarah, Nathan, and Hannah, and then we came home for the rest of the day. I fed and bathed the girls early, and we spent hours playing in their room. Well, the girls were playing. I just lay there while they sat on my face and climbed all over me. For some reason, they thought my sputtering and saying “OW!!” was hilarious, so that game lasted about an hour.