Veteran’s Day 2014

After preschool and quiet time, we took a trip to the veteran’s section of the Salt Lake Cemetery. We did this last year, and I remember how this activity made me feel more connected and grateful for all the service veterans have given for the country.

Today my heart felt full again as I tried to explain to the girls what it meant to be a veteran and to serve the country. We read the names on as many graves as we could. Actually, Mary gave us lots of opportunities to say names because she would pull flags off of graves and I would say, “Mary! Don’t do that! That’s Thomas Haley’s grave, and he fought in WWI. I’m sure he wants his flag back!” …In this fashion, we got to say a lot of names out loud.

At one point, Mary pulled a balloon off of one man’s grave and I said, “Mary! Someone put that there because they loved Anthony. How sad! Now he doesn’t have his balloon!”

With tears spilling out of the corners of her eyes and her voice wavering, Lydia said, “Mommy, can we go get another balloon so that man can have a bawoon (balloon) on his stone?” My heart was so moved. We headed straight to the car, and as I started to drive to the store to get a replacement balloon, Lydia said (again, with her eyes full of quiet tears and her voice quivering), “Mama, can we say a prayer so that Jesus can help us get the same balloon?” So we said a prayer, got replacement balloons, and returned to the cemetery.

After we replaced the missing balloons, Lydia recited the Pledge of Allegiance among the tombstones. It touched my heart. This day was just full of heart-warming moments.

With replacement balloons.

With replacement balloons.

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Hodge Podge Wednesday

This morning we woke up to discover our house had been “heart attacked” by my friend, Kristin! Before she left for the airport, she did this to several parts of the house. She is amazing. I feel like the hearts are little blessings, and I’m not too eager to take them down.

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sep10pic3sep10pic5At 11 am I went to Institute. Tad Callister, author of The Infinite Atonement, was the speaker. I derived a lot of comfort from his presentation.

Afterward, I took the girls outside to pick grapes:

sep10Then we came home and had a play date with Sophia and Max. Misty had to take that icky glucose test you take when pregnant, so I watched the kids while she endured that. I love her kids, so it was a win-win situation.

IMG_9421Then we had quiet time, and Lydia actually took a nap! Lalitha and Eden stopped by during her nap, but since Lydia was sleeping, they just picked apples instead.

I read to the girls for hours today, and my throat really hurts, despite the six hour rest I gave it at school tonight (I don’t talk there unless I absolutely have to). Tonight was Austria night at school:

red snapper and a corn chowder.

red snapper and a corn chowder.

German apple pancake

German apple pancake

meats in puff pastry

meats in puff pastry

duck, endives, and rosti

duck, endives, and rosti

While I was at school, Abe took the girls out to the park and to Isabella’s house. Lydia was disappointed none of her friends were at the park, but she decided to make a friend with a girl named Azalea. Abe said that the two were inseparable all evening. However, he only took pictures of Mary and Lydia.

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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.)

massage day

We love three day weekends. I am so happy to have Abe around, although you wouldn’t know it because I sneaked off for a three hour break to use a Groupon I got–myself–for my birthday. It was for a an hour massage, an hour facial, and a twenty-five minute back scrub. They cut the facial short and the back scrub lasted maybe seven minutes, but the massage was an hour and a half, and it was the best massage I have ever gotten in my life. After all the yoga this week, it felt amazing.

While I was at the massage, Abe and the girls were home eating, building forts, and putting flowers in Mary’s hair:

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Then I came home and ate with the kids before we went swimming. After swimming we did some errands. During the course of our errands, Mary dumped two full cups of ice water on herself and Lydia dumped an entire water bottle on herself–all accidents. Lydia was trying to drown a fly that was pestering her, and Mary was just trying to drink water. When we got home, Mary made a beeline for some water on Lydia’s table and dumped that on herself too.

We had changed the girls into their pj’s after swimming so that we wouldn’t have to change them again before bedtime, but guess what? With all the water dumping, the girls got fresh pj’s once again when we got back.

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A play date, great book, boring paper, and a birthday party

This morning I watched Sophia and Max because Misty had a doctor’s appointment. Her kids are so easy that I could have done homework or practiced while they played (well, Max was actually napping), but Lydia and Sophia were beyond adorable playing together. I couldn’t leave! They were saying things such as: “It’s your turn, Sophia!” “Thanks, Lydia. Okay, Lydia, it’s your turn now!” “Thanks, Sophia!” “Sophia, do you want to play Minnie Mouse with me?” “Yes!” [Insert sweet, polite, kind play here.] “Okay, Sophia, do you want to sit next to me?” “Yes! Thanks!”

This is what I had kids for. I was so delighted by how sweet and polite these adorable children were, and I was so happy to hear them play so beautifully that I just couldn’t tear myself away. By the time Misty came back, I was over the moon in love with all of our children.

IMG_7502 IMG_7498 IMG_7501Then I fed the girls, practiced for an hour while Lydia and Mary played, and put Mary down for her four hour nap. Lydia had quiet time that whole time, so I lay in bed reading Crossing to Safety. In fact, I could have written this blog a whole lot earlier and gotten to bed on time if it weren’t for the fact that those characters are so dear to me that I talked Abe’s ear off about the book for about an hour after the girls went down for bed. I still have a lump in my throat–as I type, hours after finishing the book. I have never read a book where I loved the characters so deeply. Also, I am sad the library is closed. I want to go check out everything Wallace Stegner has ever written and read it all right now. I’m so sad my book is done! I just want more time with the characters, but since it’s done, the next best thing I can do is read all the rest of his works.

After finishing my book, I skipped class so I could get a paper written before we go to California. I still have more homework to do tomorrow, but at least this paper is out of the way. It was on the history of Garde Manger, and even though I finished writing the paper, I still am not sure if the term Garde Manger refers to the actual Garde Manger chef or the craft of Garde Manger. I kind of side-stepped that in my paper…

Abe took the girls to his cousin’s birthday party down the street while I did homework. Lydia LOVES her cousin, Isabella, and when she got home, she said, “Mama, I want a play date with Isabella right now because I loooooooooove her so much!!” You can see she likes her from the pictures.

Abe's cousin, Alexander, turned 17.

Abe’s cousin, Alexander, turned 17. Also, it took a while to cut that cake. Abe said that Lydia waited patiently and then said very quietly, “Can I have a really big piece, please?” Everyone laughed.

Mary found Isabella's stuffed animal and held it close all evening.

Mary found Isabella’s stuffed animal and held it close all evening.

Lydia and Abe's little cousin, Isabella.

Lydia and Abe’s little cousin, Isabella. They played outside and Isabella picked flowers for Lydia. Lydia could not get enough play time with her favorite cousin!

Mary gets to be an only child for an evening.

Mary’s old enough to go to nursery in church now! Theoretically, this means Abe and I could drop her off and focus on our meetings. However, Mary is very, very, very sad whenever we leave her in nursery by herself, so we’re taking turns staying in nursery with Mary. Last week I stayed, and this week Abe did. He took photos of her on his phone while he was watching her:

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While I never recall Lydia hitting any child other than Mary, Mary is different. She’s been hit and pushed and grabbed from all of her little life (thanks to Lydia), so she is a little more aggressive in nursery. When some other child took one of her toys today, she had no problem bonking him in the head several times. Lydia would have just run to me and cried. I guess they’re all different.

This evening Suzanne came over and took Lydia to the Miners’ party. We were feeling tired and under the weather, so Abe and I stayed home with Mary. She got more attention this evening than she ever has. In fact, she’s so excited about all the attention she got that she can’t currently get to sleep and is standing next to me watching me type. We have a ton of pictures of her from our evening together.

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IMG_7186 IMG_7195 IMG_7194 IMG_7193 IMG_7196 IMG_7197 IMG_7201And then Suzanne brought Lydia and two balloons home! The girls had fun with those.

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Playing chase

Playing chase

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This is what happened when we took Mary's balloon away before bed.

This is what happened when we took Mary’s balloon away before bed.

The sky was a beautiful color, and we tried to capture it through the girls' window.

The sky was a beautiful color, and we tried to capture it through the girls’ window.

Mary is really trying hard to climb into my lap and type, so I think I’ll sign off and pay attention to my baby.

Marathon Monday

This morning I whipped the house into shape before preschool.

I found Mary trying to wet her toothbrush while I cleaned the bedroom. The other day Abe found her crying because she got stuck on top of the toilet tank...

I found Mary trying to wet her toothbrush while I cleaned the bedroom. The other day Abe found her crying because she got stuck on top of the toilet tank…

I was supposed to teach about farm animals and the letter “q,” but I never got around to “q.” We got stuck on the making-butter part of my lesson, wherein the kids were all supposed to shake jars of cream into butter. It didn’t work, but they had fun shaking. Thanks to the internet, I found out I could just stick the cream in the food processor and change it into butter that way, so I did that and we all ended by eating bread and butter.

Sarah did most of the shaking. With her arm stamina, she would have been an amazing asset on my midterm!

Sarah did most of the shaking. With her arm stamina, she would have been an amazing asset on my midterm!

We took the buttermilk that separated from the butter downstairs, dipped chalk in it, and drew pictures.

We took the buttermilk that separated from the butter downstairs, dipped chalk in it, and drew pictures.

The little ones had fun watching everyone.

The little ones had fun watching everyone.

Afterwards, we had a play date with Ada while Paige dropped some paintings off at an art gallery in Park City. The girls watched scenes from Frozen for a while before going on to play in the princess tent Clark and Swathi gave them for Christmas.

Afterwards, we had a play date with Ada while Paige dropped some paintings off at an art gallery in Park City. The girls watched scenes from Frozen for a while before going on to play in the princess tent Clark and Swathi gave them for Christmas.

Abe took this picture while I was in class. Apparently, there was some music making while I was gone.

Abe took this picture while I was in class. Apparently, there was some music making while I was gone.

We had a lot of Frozen time today. This is right before bed.

We had a lot of Frozen time today. This is right before bed.

reunion and lots of soup

Today started off with a wonderful reunion with some old friends, Jan, Chelsea, and Chelsea’s kids: Olivia (3), Carter (1) and Camden (1). Her boys are fraternal twins, and I think this is the first time I’ve met them in person. It was so fun to see them again, and I started to wonder again why we aren’t moving to Provo (Chelsea lives in Orem–right next door to Provo).

After meeting up at the Discovery Gateway Children’s Museum, we headed home for lunch. Olivia was a doll and listened to Lydia blab on and on about her cat while they pretended to have tea. The twins were so cute and need to be in the same room to sleep. We stuck them in Mary’s closet together and they slept beautifully. It was fun to see their different personalities, too!

I just love Jan and Chelsea, and it honestly felt like a family reunion of sorts. Here are some pictures that Jan took:

discovery play discovery 1 discovery play1 discovery3 discovery2 discovery play3And from lunch:

jan and chelsea

 

Today was also sort of a soup heavy day. I made chili for lunch, and then I remembered I signed up to bring dinner to a woman in our ward, so I made lentil soup after that. During class tonight we made split pea soup and chicken waterzooi. To be perfectly frank, I am less than enthusiastic my other group member tonight, but I got to exercise…patience. I was sorely, sorely tempted to be less than kind (am giving into temptation now by writing about it on the blog), but I just kept thinking: appearance vs. reality, appearance vs. reality. Who knows what kind of hardships this person has endured? My experience of her is so minute compared to the scope of her life and intentions. That said, I am dreading next week because we have to work together for one more week. I just hope some other group members show up so the experience will be somewhat diluted.

So it was a kind of social high/low day. I loved my reunion with Jan, Chelsea, and the kids, and I kind of hated my life a little bit during class. And I just saw some big fireworks from the window as I typed. I have no idea what they were for, but I guess I’ll take that as a sign to sign off.

Oh, and here's a photo from two days ago that was on my iPad and I never posted. Lydia pre-quiet time.

Oh, and here’s a photo from two days ago that was on my iPad and I never posted. Lydia pre-quiet time.

Baby blessing, beans and bruschetta

The only time in my life I’ve ever been good at fasting was on my mission. That was kind of the Golden Era of fasting in my life, and ever since then I have really struggled. Usually, I break down a couple hours before dinner because all I can think of is food. Last month I didn’t even make it past breakfast! At least today I made it until after my post-church nap, but then I started thinking about food and couldn’t stop. The theme at church seemed to be “God loves us no matter what. Even if we literally can not get out of bed, God loves us as much as if we were the most active, productive people in the world. His love is unchanging.” As I forked into my spaghetti, I was comforted by that message. Next month I will try again.

The pace of the day picked up after that, when I attempted to make a big batch of soup from dried black beans. Here’s something I am ashamed about: I have only tried cooking with dried beans (lentils don’t count) twice in my life, and both times were a huge flop! Until now, I have opted for the cans. But they are so darn expensive, so last night I tried again to soak a bunch of black beans to cook today. I soaked them overnight, cooked them for hours, and reread Mark Bittman’s little homily on the ease and economy of dried beans to bolster my courage. However, even after all of that, my beans still weren’t as creamy as the canned kind. Does anyone know if they need to soak for two days? Cook for six hours? What am I doing wrong?

After I turned my fibrous, less-than-creamy beans into soup, we rushed out the door to drop the kids off at Tom and Suzanne’s so we could attend a baby blessing. Our friends, Aria and Clay Rockwood, had a home blessing tonight. It was exactly the same as a blessing in church, only a lot more fun and with food. They had the best bruschetta I have ever eaten in my life, and Abe and I embarrassed ourselves by going back for…fifths. Aria’s going to send me the recipe for her spread (which involves feta, cream cheese, butter and lemon). Have you ever seen the scene in Julie and Julia where Julie and her husband are eating bruschetta for dinner? I LOVE that scene, and tonight, I lived it out in person. What a dream!

Then we hung out at Tom and Suzanne’s until the girls were so tired that we took them home and put them straight to bed, sans baths.

Here are today’s pictures (also, I figured out yesterday’s pictures, so I amended yesterday’s post, too):

As I was cleaning the kitchen tonight, I saw this duck on the floor and felt overwhelmed with gratitude that I am a mother of small children. Some day they won't leave sweet evidences of innocent play all over the house, and that will be sad.

As I was cleaning the kitchen tonight, I saw this duck on the floor and felt overwhelmed with gratitude that I am a mother of small children. Some day they won’t leave sweet evidences of innocent play all over the house, and that will be sad.

Lydia wailed when we removed her from the side of her grandpa. She thoroughly enjoyed her evening with Tom and Suzanne.

Lydia wailed when we removed her from the side of her grandpa. She thoroughly enjoyed her evening with Tom and Suzanne.

Lydia was born into a family the loves technology.

Lydia was born into a family the loves technology.

 

Mary and Suzanne had fun, too.
Mary and Suzanne had fun, too.

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!