Canning with Chelsea

I had plans to work out this morning, but those dissipated in the face of housework.

Lydia and Mary played in the room while I folded laundry this morning. Lydia loves tucking Mary in, and Mary loves being tucked in. It's a good situation.

Lydia and Mary played in the room while I folded laundry this morning. Lydia loves tucking Mary in, and Mary loves being tucked in. It’s a good situation.

Last week Misty called me and told me she’d signed Sophia up for swim lessons, and that there were still empty spots left. I signed Lydia up immediately, and they had so much fun today at their first lesson.

aug3Then we came home, ate lunch, and headed down to Orem to visit my friend, Chelsea. The last time I saw Chelsea, she gave me the best salsa I’d ever had. When I told her how much I liked it, she said she’d teach me how to make it during her next canning session. She grew everything herself, and so she cans when all the salsa veggies are ripe. They were ripe today!

We had the BEST time. The whole drive down I felt so happy and excited to spend time with Chelsea. Abe and I talked about this on the way home, and there’s just something extra special about seeing a friend you’ve known in your pre-adult life. I don’t have any of those out here in Utah except for Chelsea, and I feel really happy whenever I get to spend time with her (not often enough).

If spending time with Chelsea weren’t enough, my eyes were also opened today about the possibilities of living in Orem. Chelsea lives exactly eight minutes from Abe’s work, so when he was done I picked him up and we went back to Chelsea and Derek’s house and had amazing Thai food for dinner. Chelsea and Derek loaded us up with canned and fresh produce, and we left feeling so happy, grateful, and blessed. I asked Abe how soon he thought we could sell our condo so we could buy a house near Chelsea and Derek…

Canning with Chelsea.

Canning with Chelsea.

Olivia has approximately twenty princess dresses. Lydia changed her dress every ten minutes for the first hour we were there.

Olivia has approximately twenty princess dresses. Lydia changed her dress every ten minutes for the first hour we were there.

She finally settled on this number.

She finally settled on this number.

Mary and Carter.

Mary and Carter.

Lydia dismounting.

Lydia dismounting.

Picking strawberries in Chelsea's strawberry patch.

Picking strawberries in Chelsea’s strawberry patch.

IMG_8952 IMG_8953

London and Olivia. London is a really, really child friendly dog.

London and Olivia. London is an exceptionally well-trained, child friendly dog.

Watching London interact with the children.

Watching London interact with the children.

It was cute.

It was cute.

Mary on the rocking horse.

Mary on the rocking horse.

Eating dinner/chips and salsa for dinner. They loved the salsa!

Eating dinner/chips and salsa for dinner. They loved the salsa!

In front of Chelsea's AMAZING garden. I love Chelsea, I love her garden, I love this visit...basically, I want to move to Orem right away.

In front of Chelsea’s AMAZING garden. I love Chelsea, I love her garden, I love this visit…basically, I want to move to Orem right away.

IMG_8966

Afterward, we headed to the outlets to buy pajamas for Lydia. We’ve spent six months in denial about her pj situation, and it’s finally reached the point where we’ve come to admit: she needs new ones. She spends half the week in her 2T pjs which barely come past her knees. During out outing, we discovered princess pajama dresses. Whoever came up with that must have had Lydia and Mary in mind. I kind of think all the other pj’s we bought might not even get used now that wearing a princess dress to bed is an option. The girls fell asleep before we got home, so I’ll take pictures of the princess pj dress tomorrow.

Tofu nuggets and more Saturday adventures

Today I dragged myself to cooking school, only to discover I was the only one there (at first). That meant I got to choose what I wanted to do, so I opted to make tofu nuggets. I love the kind that Trader Joe’s makes, but I’ve always assumed they were so synthetically crafted that they’d be impossible to reproduce. After today, I’m encouraged! My nuggets weren’t at all what you get at Trader Joe’s, but I think if I add some things (quinoa flakes? different kind of miso? Extra firm tofu?) they might taste a bit closer.

Here are mine:

IMG_0109

When I got home, the girls ran to meet me.

When I got home, the girls ran to meet me. It was so sweet! I just loved coming home to these people/this picture.

I think I startled them by whipping out my ready camera. Next time I think I'll just run to them and give them hugs instead.

I think I startled them by whipping out my ready camera. Next time I think I’ll just run to them and give them hugs instead.

Eating the garbanzo beans I brought home from school.

Eating the garbanzo beans I brought home from school.

Again, Mary ran to me to give me a hug, and I pulled out the camera on the poor thing. I need to stop doing that, but she's just so cute!

Again, Mary ran to me to give me a hug, and I pulled out the camera on the poor thing. I need to stop doing that, but she’s just so cute!

We had an Amazon Local deal to The Blue Nile, and Ethiopian restaurant. Since we were out and about, we ate there for dinner.

We had an Amazon Local deal to The Blue Nile, an Ethiopian restaurant. Since we were out and about, we ate there for dinner.

Mary was so hungry she started eating the menu.

Mary was so hungry she started eating the menu.

Um, YUM.

Um, YUM.

Beets are a Darais family favorite. We had to order the kids extra.

Beets are a Darais family favorite. We had to order the kids extra. (Good thing they happened to be wearing pink!)

More beets!

More beets!

We are going through a Christian rock phase. Abe came home a couple months ago and wanted me to listen to "Wrecking Ball" by Miley Cyrus. I pulled up the YouTube video and was so appalled that we let that kind of garbage into our house that Abe swore off pop music completely. In its wake, he has listened to nothing but Christian rock. It has been the greatest thing ever for all of us! I feel the same kind of evangelical enthusiasm I felt when I was a teenager--a kind of high on God that is, at times, hard to recapture.

We are going through a Christian rock phase. Abe came home a couple months ago and wanted me to listen to “Wrecking Ball” by Miley Cyrus. I pulled up the YouTube video and was so appalled that we let that kind of garbage into our house (we have young girls in our home!!!) that Abe swore off pop music completely. In its wake, he has listened to nothing but Christian rock. It has been the greatest thing ever for all of us! I feel the same kind of evangelical enthusiasm I felt when I was a teenager–a kind of high on God that is, at times, hard to recapture.

Also, a HUGE shout-out to Abe for organizing the whole house today, top to bottom. We’ve been team-tagging this project ever since we got back from our trip, but yesterday and today I’ve been out of commission. Abe did an amazing job organizing everything, and the house looks absolutely incredible. Thanks, Honey! You are the bestest best best!!

Quick Post

Today was a good day for everyone at the Darais house.  We haven’t been sleeping much, but in spite of that, God has given us strength to not only manage, but find great joy.

Lily got a TON of house work done, including accomplishing hours worth of laundrey washing, drying, folding, sorting and putting-away.  For a brief moment in the Darais home there was literally NOTHING that needed to be washed…….I know I wont sleep in the socks I’m currently wearing, so unfortunately the pile starts again tonight……

Lily read to the girls separately, read in her book about the Monart method of teaching your children to draw and she read in a book about how to teach your children to read.  She  said she felt very happy and close to God today.  What a wonderful and productive day!

I had a good day at work.  I was a little tired, but I kept my nose to the grind-stone.  Days usually come for two packages for me, successful days and learning days.  Today was more of a learning day, but I did learn and I believe success will come.  At home I had the most wonderful time with the girls.  They were both in super good moods and we all danced to K-Love together.  We went totally wild when our favorite song “Every Act of Love” by Jason Grey came on.  I was dancing while holding Mary and she screamed to indicate that she wanted to be set down…..when I set her down she proceeded to get her groove on and I thought it was hilarious! Days like this I am reminded why I’m so grateful to not have a job that takes my attention at home as well as at work.  I was completely engaged with the children and drinking from the cup of pure joy.

Pictures!

IMG_7643 IMG_7644 IMG_7645 IMG_7646 IMG_7647 IMG_7648 IMG_7649 IMG_7650 IMG_7651 IMG_7652 IMG_7653 IMG_7654 IMG_7655

 

EventFUL

Abe and I didn’t roll out of bed intending to take the day by storm. We had two things on our agenda: The Jewish Community Center (to sign Lydia up for preschool) and the Library (to pay down our fines).

But the day had us in its sights. From morning until evening, it was packed with events, planned and unplanned, delightful and…well, less than delightful.

First off, we fell in love with the JCC again. Thank goodness we have been saving up for it, because with Abe’s new, slimmer salary, we would not be able to pull off tuition otherwise. As it is, I have to figure out how to feed a family of four three meals a day (plus snacks!) on less than a quarter of my former budget. I figure it comes out to about $1.75 a meal–for ALL of us. I’ll post any ingenious, creative meal solutions, but since I am currently stumped, we’ve started eating Ramen. Thank goodness Mary seems to be a huge fan! As long as we don’t all die of sodium and MSG in the next few months, Ramen it will have to be. But, as Abe pointed out, at least Lydia’s education will be stellar, and that trumps fancy (fresh?) food…we think.

And as long as we’re on the topic of budgeting, today we spent two hours at the library reading to our children–and paid down $24.00 in fines! (I had $31.00 in fines to begin with.)  By the time we were done, Abe was glassy-eyed and unresponsive, Mary was sleepy, and Lydia declared herself “fursty (thirsty), hungwee (hungry) and sweepy (sleepy)–every of them!” I felt a little guilty (not to mention dehydrated) for putting us all through that, but there was a smidgen of triumph in there as well. I mean, it’s a brand new year, and my fines are almost entirely paid off!

Then we came home and got everyone fed and rested, right before I got a call from a dear old friend letting me know she and her mother were in town and could drop by. It was an opportunity too good to pass up, so I raced downstairs and took down ALL of the Christmas decorations and vacuumed like crazy before she arrived. Abe had a nightmare during his nap which woke him up, so he came down and helped. By the time my friend and her mom arrived, the house was completely, 100% Christmas-decoration-free.

My friend, Carolina, was my first friend when I transitioned away from my Presbyterian upbringing and started attending the Mormon church at the age of 13. It was a huge cultural shock, and all of the kids at my new church had known each other since infancy. I had been quite solidly integrated into my old church, and entering a new, foreign environment was scary–especially since I was so shy I couldn’t even bring myself to talk to anyone for the first year. Carolina, though, was a familiar face, since her mom and my mom had let us play together a couple times throughout my childhood. She was so kind to me, and she was the only person at church I felt comfortable being around for a loooong time. It was a deep joy to see her and her lovely mom today, and I loved meeting her little daughter, Leah. Carolina now lives in Utah, so I hope to see more of her now that we’ve reconnected.

After our impromptu reunion with Carolina and Derly, Abe and I went through our regular dinner-bath-bedtime-piano practice routine. After I finished practicing (I memorized the Bach today!!), I went upstairs to check on the girls, who had been giggling and squealing ever since we put them to bed. Shortly before I checked on them, their laughs had turned to sobs. I grabbed my camera before entering, since I hadn’t taken a single photo of the day, and since I expected only to find two tired out little girls. When I entered the room, I immediately took the following picture. It wasn’t until after I’d taken the picture that I realized what had happened…

Lydia had poured baby powder all over herself and Mary, and she'd smeared diaper rash cream into her hair and Mary's. Mary was pretty upset.

Lydia had poured baby powder all over herself and Mary, and she’d smeared diaper rash cream into her hair and Mary’s. Mary was pretty upset.

I immediately picked up Mary and took her to the bathroom to bathe her again, and when Abe came up, he took a close-up of Lydia before bringing her to the bathroom, too.

Lydia was hysterical for the next hour. Scrubbing diaper rash cream out of hair is crazy difficult, and both girls were exhausted and very, very sad by the time they were  a little cleaner.

Lydia was hysterical for the next hour. Scrubbing diaper rash cream out of hair is crazy difficult, and both girls were exhausted and very, very sad by the time we finished.

Poor little things. Despite the fact that we heartlessly photographed their pain, we actually felt really bad for them. At the same time, we feel happy because after the cleaning ordeal, we are sure Lydia will never do this again.

I am going to go read my first book of the new year now. Maybe I’ll finally be able to finish one!

closet clean-up

I’m watching a Youtube documentary as I type, so here’s a short break-down on today:

Slept. Ate. Wasted time online. Slept. Ate. Fed children. Played with children. Read to children. Practiced piano. Ate. Cleaned the hall closet. Folded laundry.

And now for the pictures of our closet clean-up:

The mess after we emptied the closet.

The mess after we emptied the closet.

Lydia discovered some lotion.

Lydia discovered some lotion.

I walked into the bathroom with my camera (since I had just taken a picture of Lydia) and discovered this. I quickly took a picture and then cleaned Mary up.

I walked into the bathroom with my camera (since I had just taken a picture of Lydia) and discovered this. I quickly took a picture and then cleaned Mary up.

This is how Mary felt when I banned her from the bathroom.

This is how Mary felt when I banned her from the bathroom.

The emptied, organized closet.

The emptied, organized closet.

day after the day after

I started off the day trying to make zimsterne for my grandma, since my mom flies back tomorrow. They were the biggest flop! I wanted to cry by the time we were done; the kitchen was a wreck and my cookies were an ugly, sticky mess. First world problem, I know...but I still felt legitimately frustrated. Lydia felt fine about it all, though. Obviously.

Before I brushed my teeth or showered or ate breakfast I tried to make zimsterne for my grandma, since my mom flies back tomorrow. They were the biggest flop! I wanted to cry by the time we were done; the kitchen was a wreck and my cookies were an ugly, sticky mess. First world problem, I know…but I still felt legitimately frustrated.

I spent the rest of the morning and most of the day organizing. That felt great.

Abe did Insanity again with the girls:

IMG_6098 IMG_6102

After cleaning, I jumped right into cooking for our dinner party with two of our friends, Jon and Shirley. Abe is marrying them this May, and so they wanted to talk about what goes into all of that. Balu came too, and so the occasion felt festive (made even more so by the fact that 10 minutes before everyone arrived, both girls changed out of their pj’s…)

I tried the squash rings again, and it worked! I just needed smaller squashes. These are golden acorn.

I tried the squash rings again, and it worked! I just needed smaller squashes. These are golden acorn.

I had extra cheese and extra time, so why not make a souffle?

I had extra cheese and extra time, so why not make a souffle?

The most exciting news of the day just might be that our new microwave is up and working. I had no idea what a difference that would make; Abe and I agreed that the strata I made for Christmas actually tasted better microwaved than it did when we ate it the first time. Thanks, Clark and Swathi! You’ve changed our lives!