Piano, errands, cooking, and FHE

Today started out slowly, and that gave me a chance to work in some good hours at the piano. Mary demanded a nap as soon as she finished breakfast; when I pushed back on the idea, she threw herself on the floor, kicked the oven and screamed, “Nap! Binkies! Amiwals! (‘Animals!’).” I caved. 9:30 nap it was, and as the rest of the day progressed, she got grumpier and grumpier. Next time she tries to take a nap four hours early, I will put up more resistance.

After her nap, we took Lalitha on an errand and then ran an errand ourselves. We came back home and I folded laundry for an hour while the girls played “tea party” in the bathroom. It was flooded afterward.

Then I cooked like crazy until the Andersons joined us for dinner.

I stuffed peppers with some of that market corn, market tomatoes, scallions, cheddar, and homemade bread crumbs. They look messy, but they were really yummy.

I stuffed peppers with some of that market corn, market tomatoes, scallions, cheddar, and homemade bread crumbs. They look messy, but they were really yummy.

I bought a GIANT candy stripe beet at the market and cooked it in the pressure cooker tonight. It had a milder flavor than  regular beets. Maybe I cooked it too long, or maybe it was old. After I bought it, I noticed the leaves were old. I learned my lesson: Next time, I will check the leaves before purchasing beets!

I bought a GIANT candy stripe beet at the market and cooked it in the pressure cooker tonight. It had a milder flavor than regular beets. Maybe I cooked it too long, or maybe it was old. After I bought it, I noticed the leaves were old. I learned my lesson: Next time, I will check the leaves before purchasing beets!

We had a song night for FHE. This is the girls dancing to "Once There Was A Snowman."

We had a song night for FHE. This is the girls dancing to “Once There Was A Snowman.”

(The snowman melts in the song.)

(The snowman melts in the song.)

Friends and Frozen under the stars

This morning I had a visit from my lovely former visiting teacher, Cierra Block. She moved to London a year ago, and she’s in town for a wedding. It was just like old times! We talked and talked…basically, I could talk to Cierra forever. I just love her. I woke up full of anxiety and struggled with that all day, so Cierra’s visit was a wonderful uplift out of that.

IMG_9278Then I just kind of puttered until it was time for our play date with Jen Pe’a and Natalie.

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Again, talking with Jen was basically balm to my soul. When I’m struggling with anxiety, nothing helps more than talking to a friend who I feel safe to be myself with.

Mary found and tried to eat lemons when we got home…

IMG_9280Then Abe, the kids, and I all headed out to see Frozen under the stars on the lawn outside of the Capitol. It was a gorgeous night, and the girls were enthralled. Mary is a little confused about stars, though. This is the second night that she’s looked up, pointed to the stars and cried, “Fishies! Blub blub!”  I explained that there are no fish in the sky and the stars go “twinkle twinkle.” Maybe after our camping trip it will sink in better.

Afterward, they had fun on the walk back to the car.

It was 10:15 by the time the movie was over. Mary lay down on the sidewalk and asked us to put a blanket on top of her.

It was 10:15 by the time the movie was over. Mary lay down on the sidewalk and asked us to put a blanket on top of her.

Lydia thought about joining her.

Lydia thought about joining her.

Lydia and Mary both decided they wanted to sleep there. Good thing we're going camping tomorrow!

Lydia and Mary both decided they wanted to sleep there. Good thing we’re going camping tomorrow!

Our climber.

Our climber.

Abe had to carry her protesting little body away from the stairs.

Abe had to carry her protesting little body away from the stairs.

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A praying mantis was on our car when we got back. Mary wanted to hold it.

A praying mantis was on our car when we got back. Mary wanted to hold it.

Grandma, we’re going camping tomorrow and won’t be back until Monday. I don’t think I’ll have internet, but I will take a lot of pictures and post when we get back. I love you and think about you every day!!

Jon and Shirley’s wedding video! (wherein Abe officiates)

We have the video link to Jon and Shirley’s wedding (the one where Abe officiated)! It is absolutely GORGEOUS. Here’s the link. Theirs was the most beautiful wedding I have ever attended. I was so happy to see the video, especially because I didn’t get to hear the actual ceremony (I was busy taking the girls on a “princess hunt” in the gardens to make sure they didn’t interrupt anything).

We had a busy morning. I procrastinated buying the gift for Addelyn’s birthday until a half an hour before the party, and then we swung back to pick up another friend for the party.

The party. Apparently there was a parade, dancing, and lots of treats. Lydia came home with a marshmallow tiger tail, a chocolate Minnie Mouse cookie, popcorn, and a balloon. She had a blast.

The party. Apparently there was a parade, dancing, and lots of treats. Lydia came home with a marshmallow tiger tail, a chocolate Minnie Mouse cookie, popcorn, and a balloon. She had a blast.

Mary was sad she didn't get to stay at the party (she was still sick, and I didn't want the other kids to get sick).

Mary was sad she didn’t get to stay at the party (she was still sick, and I didn’t want the other kids to get sick). She got this popsicle as a consolation prize.

The rest of the day was low-key. I should have used the time to do homework, but instead I just lay around, practiced piano, and prayed a lot.

After naps, we went outside to play in the hose, pick tomatoes, and play until Abe got home.

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Mary thought the big tomatoes were apples. She LOVES pictures of apples in books and won't ever let me turn the page and finish the book if we happen to come across a page with apples. She'd rather just stare at all the apples. Anyway, even though I kept telling her she was consuming a tomato, she kept telling me that she was eating an apple.

Mary thought the big tomatoes were apples. She LOVES pictures of apples in books and won’t ever let me turn the page and finish the book if we happen to come across a page with apples. She’d rather just stare at all the apples. Anyway, even though I kept telling her she was consuming a tomato, she kept telling me that she was eating an apple.

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Play-doh.

Play-doh.

Swarming Daddy.

Swarming Daddy.

Helping a tired Daddy get up.

Helping a tired Daddy get up.

Then Abe and I went inside and were too tired to even eat dinner. We fed the girls and then lay on the couch while the girls tucked us in and gave us all sorts of toys. I sprained a toe running through the sprinklers today, and so I  babied it all evening.

I have hopes of watching Divergent tonight on Abe’s new Apple laptop that he just got from work. I guess the homework can wait until tomorrow…

Sick day and a double play date

I didn’t sleep enough last night AND I overdid it on the chocolate mousse, and I think my sugar-compromised immune system couldn’t handle it. I woke up feeling sick, and since my kids have both been battling colds for over a week, I decided to call it a stay-at-home day and skip Lydia’s last swimming lesson.

Reading in the morning. Mary was trying to read the book to herself and was doing a pretty great job, especially considering she specializes in sentences three words long or fewer!

Reading in the morning. Mary was trying to read the book to herself and was doing a pretty great job, especially considering she specializes in sentences three words long or fewer!

After naps, Lydia had fun bedecking Mary in all sorts of silly things.

After naps, Lydia had fun bedecking Mary in all sorts of silly things.

Attempting to get the belt to fit Mary.

Attempting to get the belt to fit Mary.

In her glory.

Some leftover tears  are still on her cheek because Lydia wanted a turn with the glasses.

Putting on these glasses provided endless entertainment to the girls. I love their sense of humor.

Putting on these glasses provided endless entertainment to the girls. I love their sense of humor.

We did a lot of movies, reading, piano playing, song singing…and more movies. At 5 pm Aria and Paige rescued me from an evening of digital entertainment and came over for a play date.

Misting in the hose outside.

Misting in the hose outside.

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Sweet Baby Enna. Aria and her kids just got back from over three weeks in France, and Enna has grown so much since I last saw her!

Sweet Baby Enna. Aria and her kids just got back from over three weeks in France, and Enna has grown so much since I last saw her!

I had the kids help me bread the eggplant that I turned into eggplant Parmesan for dinner. Abe and I had a wonderful time talking for dinner. We kept mindlessly feeding the girls whatever they wanted so we could talk longer. We don’t get to see each other at all on Wednesdays, so it felt like we had to catch up. Next semester I have class Wednesday and Thursday, so we’ll go those two days without seeing each other at all. So sad.

Anyway, I think I am going to bed early to try to get rid of this bug. We have a birthday party to attend tomorrow, so I can’t have another stay-at-home day. In fact, I’ll have a really rushed morning because I have yet to buy and wrap the gift!!

Movie marathon

Yesterday one of the lifeguards told me I could swim with Mary during Lydia’s lesson. I then promised Mary she could finally go swimming at Lydia’s next lesson instead of watching Lydia longingly, but when we got there the head lifeguard told me I’d been misinformed. Poor Mary! I didn’t know how I was going to break the bad news, especially since she was already in her swimsuit and practically hyperventilating with anticipation.

Thankfully, the lifeguard took one look at her and said, “Oh, look at her! How could I say no? Just this once…” Yay! So Mary and I swam while Lydia had her lesson.

That was really the only activity of note today. The rest of the day was just homework, laundry, cooking, and marathon naps from both girls. They didn’t sleep in, so I guess they were making up for yesterday’s late bedtimes during their naps.

After naps, Lydia helped  me make a souffle.

After naps, Lydia helped me make a souffle.

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I had a hunch there wouldn't be anything exciting to take pictures of, so I just snapped some of Mary eating her snack.

I had a hunch there wouldn’t be anything exciting to take pictures of, so I just snapped some of Mary eating her snack.

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I made a gorgonzola, cherry, and almond souffle. It was inspired by Bittman's apricot and goat cheese recipe, and I think it turned out great. What didn't turn out great were my strips of sauteed eggplant. I struggled to get that right in class and decided to practice today, but it was a disaster. I think I'm just going to return to baking and broiling eggplant in the future.

I made a gorgonzola, dried cherry, and almond souffle. It was inspired by Mark Bittman’s apricot and goat cheese recipe, and I think it turned out great. What didn’t turn out great were my strips of sauteed eggplant. I struggled to get that right in class and decided to practice today, but it was a disaster. I think I’m just going to return to baking and broiling eggplant in the future.

Abe bought me flowers yesterday. Aren't they cheerful?

Abe bought me flowers yesterday. Aren’t they cheerful?

After dinner, we all watched Aladdin in memory of Robin Williams, who died today. I have mixed emotions about Disney princesses, and Princess Jasmine and Ariel top my list as way-too-sexy princess role models for young girls. For Lydia’s first two years, I feel like I put up a decent fight, but this last year I’ve just given in. I just hope the damage isn’t too severe. Lydia rolled up her shirt halfway through the movie, at which point my heart may have stopped. I suppose I should have stopped the movie right then and there. Sigh.

Short

It’s past midnight, so this will be short.

We had a great morning planting new plants in our garden, and halfway through Sophia, Max and Misty showed up for a play date. We finished planting together and then I talked Misty’s ear off about homeschooling. I love talking to Misty.

Afterward, I practiced a lot of piano while the girls played. During Mary’s nap, I lay on my bed and read and Lydia came in to lie down next to me and color. I love that girl.

Then I had the WORST night of cooking school ever. I came home so discouraged. I am the slowest, most mistake-prone person in my class, and even the chef, who is the nicest, most patient chef in the school, started getting upset with me by the end of class. I just made so many mistakes on my dish! I spent an hour telling Abe how far behind everyone else I am, and now it’s so late that I don’t have much time to blog. Sorry, Mom and Grandma! I also neglected to take pictures today. I WILL do better tomorrow.

Sunshine, a somber note, and some snores

Today I cleaned the house for two hours, and then practiced a little bit. Paige and her kids came over for a play date, during which the girls colored outside, we got attacked by ants (accidentally sat on an ant hill on the lawn), ate some food and chatted a lot. It was wonderful to be outside in the sunshine. My soul felt so nourished after that. Oh! And we practiced a musical number for church, since Paige plays the violin. We’re not going to perform until mid-summer, but practicing was fun.

Then the girls had a short nap/quiet time while I lay on my bed and finished The Triple Package. As much as I enjoyed the book (and I enjoyed it a lot), the best part of that was having my window open and feeling the spring breeze. Having an open window makes my heart go pitter-patter with delight, and right now the sounds outside my (still) open window are making me so happy.

A more somber part of our day was the viewing for Grandma Darais. We headed to Provo for the evening viewing. I did love all the pictures and momentos from her life everywhere. I thought a lot on the drive back about what makes a meaningful life. Grandma Darais couldn’t have lived a better life, but since I just read The Triple Package, I had to consider that her life was very different from the type described in my book. Obviously, there are many ways to be a successful person, and the authors themselves admit up front that they take a crass, materialistic approach to defining success. “Success” for them means wealth, prestige and power derived from hyperactive achievement-oriented types.

As I drove home, I thought about both my grandma and Abe’s grandma and then concluded that the best way to measure the difference you made in the world is to count how many people love and feel loved by you. I guess there’s not a real way to know how many people your life has changed, but what I’m trying to say is that I prefer a definition of success that takes into account things that are hard to count–like love, compassion, and forgiveness. I also think that creating a home where people love to be makes a big difference in the world. As people remember Grandma Darais, almost everyone mentions her home and how wonderful it felt to be there. I loved being there, and I only visited a couple times. But I visited my grandma’s home many, many times, and that probably made more of an impression on me than any other home I’ve ever visited. The orderliness, the food, and the peaceful flow of activities inspires me daily.

Anyway, Grandma, since Lydia has been dominating the phone conversations of late, just know I’m in the background sending you my love. I love you so much. And, of course, you too Mom! Lydia talked a lot about how much she misses you after she hung up today. You two are the very best. We love you.

Oh, here’s a picture I took of Mary. I was trying to keep her awake so she would sleep through my shopping trip in the afternoon. A Methodist church in Sandy was having a huge consignment sale, and I wanted both girls to sleep in their strollers while I shopped. No such luck. She didn’t even make it through her second lunch. I tried to get a video of her snoring, but I got distracted, so all I have is this:

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Some big tantrums and FHE at Temple Square

This morning was such a whirlwind that I did not get a single picture in. Sorry, Grandma! As soon as the girls woke up, it was a race to get them dressed and fed so that we could make it to our visiting teaching appointment with Marilyn. Thankfully, Jen was in the same boat so we arrived at about the same time (an hour late). Marilyn, as usual, was a joy to visit, although we are praying for her health. Mom, feel free to include her in your prayers.

Then we went to Jump Around Utah to meet up with our play group. I’m glad I know what it is, but I do not think I will ever go again. It was so packed with screaming kids who just mowed down all the littler kids in their paths. It was incredibly stressful for everyone, and by the end I was sweating and panicky and Lydia had the worst public tantrum she has ever had in her life. For the rest of the day she kept telling me that she was sad because her experience at Jump Around Utah was so frustrating. I was just glad we all left without injury; at one point, Mary got flipped on the big bouncing thing in the middle and landed in a really painful looking position.

I came home, fed the girls, put Mary down, and tried to cheer Lydia up with hot cocoa and a ton of snuggling and reading.

After Abe came home, we headed out to Temple Square with Balu for FHE. We took a tour of the Conference Center. I have a whole new appreciation for the Arnold Friberg Book of Mormon gallery after seeing the Arnold Friber exhibit a couple months ago. The choir was rehearsing while we were there, so we got to sneak in a little observation too. The tour was great preparation for General Conference, and we’re hoping the tour will contextualize conference for the girls. Then we went to the Lion House for dinner. Brother Richardson left us a gift card the last time he was here, and it came in handy tonight! We had a lot of fun, and we left the square with Lydia sitting on Abe’s shoulders making up songs about flowers and Spring. In spite of all the other tantrums and meltdowns today (and they seemed to follow each other in rapid succession without much interruption), FHE was a success.

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Then I did some grocery shopping and by the time we came home, the girls were exhausted. One more giant tantrum issued forth from our eldest daughter, and then she fell asleep. It’s been peaceful ever since. Here’s to a more peaceful tomorrow!

The Daily Grind

Quick blog today.  Lily is still on her way home from school and it is almost midnight.  Yikes!  I’m sure the reason she is late is because she has a big heart and she is giving rides to her classmates in need.  She is so wonderful.

My day was a bit of a roller-coaster, but overall very good.  My department is having a competition to see who can perform the best and I am pretty squarely in the middle of the pack.  I sometimes get discouraged about my mediocrity, but it helps to remember how amazing everyone around me is at Qualtrics.  They truly hire the best and I am so fortunate to be surrounded by such wonderful people.

I don’t know too much about Lily’s day.  When we talked on the phone, she spent most of the time listening to my frustrations and giving me a pep-talk.  She is seriously so supportive and perfect….o-k, I’ll stop gushing.  I’m just so blessed to have someone who is always willing and capable of being my cheering squad when I need it.  I truly love her.

But this is what I do know.  She had a piano lesson with Lydia.  Mary completely refused her eye-drops today.  Lydia napped.  Lily just got home and told me she absolutely loved cooking class today.

Pictures!Crying while Lily does her homework

Crying while Lily does her homework
Mary under the bed

Mary under the bed

Lily's plate from tonight.  Isn't it great!  She says her secret is to copy the photo the teacher provides exactly.

Lily’s plate from tonight. Isn’t it great! She says her secret is to copy the photo the teacher provides exactly.

Another amazing plating job by Lily.  This is from last week, but we just now got it to load.Another amazing plating job by Lily. This is from last week, but we just now got it to load.

temple and tricky water

Abe and I finally made it to the temple tonight! Hooray! We really needed it. I couldn’t sleep last night because I was so worried about losing my temper at Lydia, and I tried sooooo hard to be better today. I still got mad, but I think I did slightly better than yesterday.

One thing that’s problematic is Lydia’s piano lesson. It always, always ends in tears. I sit down determined to have a happy, relaxed session with Lydia, and then my resolve dissolves as she refuses to even try to play Twinkle. I’m not even asking her to play the whole piece; just the first two notes would make me happy!! I demonstrate over and over and over how to play,  and then I position her fingers and even push them down for her so she can feel the motion. We clap the rhythm and I let her put her hands on my hands so she can feel me play. After all that, she still cries whenever I start to ask her to do it by herself, and then she tells me it’s too hard.

I tell myself that she’s just barely three and it’s okay, but then I get upset because I KNOW she can play it if she would just. try. (For example, I took a picture last week of her pushing down a note. That’s almost the only time she’s ever done that independently, but it showed me she could do it.)

On the other hand, we actually have a good time when I’m not seeing red. Lydia never protests when I tell her it’s time for piano. That makes me think that she enjoys the time–up until we commence our “Try, Lydia, TRY!!!” battle.

On the Mary front, I officially can not administer those eye drops by myself. Good thing the medicine we squeeze in when Abe’s home must be working because, I’ll tell you what, she’s one determined little girl. Also, she’s dramatic whenever she sees her babysitter. She takes one look at Aylah and screams. Last time she dropped back in a chair and screamed until we popped in a pacifier. After that, she stared listlessly at the ceiling in the same position for the next twenty minutes (so Aylah told us) and refused to be roused. Tonight she wasn’t quite that bad, but the initial fury was still there.

Lydia, on the other hand, behaves so much better for other people than for me. I’m actually glad for that, but sometimes I wish she’d behave that way for me! At any rate, she spent the evening talking Aylah’s ear off about her cat.

I DID take pictures today, but they aren’t sending. I took pictures of the girls covered in beets (I made borscht today), and for some reason there’s a disconnect between my iPad and my inbox. Sorry, Grandma and Mom! I’ll try to take some with my actual camera tomorrow.