Sequestered (sort of)

We forgot to take pictures until the girls were getting ready for bed. That probably happened because I sequestered myself in the house–there are rats outside–and didn’t do anything of note all day. I played with the girls, packed some boxes, napped and cooked.

When Abe got home, we went to dinner at Bob and Katheryn Sonntag’s. We think they are so great, and dinner was very yummy. I daydream that we’ll get Katheryn to design our new yards. Here’s hoping!

And here are the pictures too:


Mary refused to take off her Minnie Mouse dress today, so she ended up wearing it to the Sonntag's.

Mary refused to take off her Minnie Mouse dress today, so she ended up wearing it to the Sonntag’s.

Also, Paige sent me the pictures from the preschool parade. You can see the updated post here.

Also, here’s one of my baby pictures I came across. Does this remind you of anyone, Mom and Grandma?


Dinner with Suzanne

Agh, only one picture today, Grandma! I was going to take a picture of Lydia in the outfit she told you about, but I had to get dinner ready and she changed out of that too soon. I did get a picture of dinner, though:

We had red lentil and lime soup with Greek yogurt, saffron rice, and a tomato/cucumber salad. I made lemon bars for dessert, but, thankfully, they were a disaster. I wasn't even really tempted.

We had red lentil and lime soup with Greek yogurt, saffron rice, and a tomato/cucumber salad. I made lemon bars for dessert, but, thankfully, they were a disaster. I wasn’t even really tempted.

Tom had to do church stuff, but Suzanne came over for dinner. We had a lot of fun with her and discussed one of my favorite topics: The Second Coming. Mom, did you know that President Hinckley announced in the General Conference right after September 2011 that the prophecies of Joel had been fulfilled? Suzanne told us, and I looked it up here. It was very exciting. Abe and I are thinking about postponing our end-of-the-year Disney trip and buying food storage instead…

I was pretty tired today, so other than bathing the girls, taking Lydia to preschool, feeding everyone and cleaning up, I just lay in bed sleeping and reading. I have a ton of laundry to fold and a lot of toys to sort, so maybe tomorrow I will finally get around to that!

Oh, I did one fun thing, though. I was reading All Joy and No Fun: The Paradox of Modern Parenting, and the author cited research that said most parents would prefer housework over spending time with their kids. Feeling guilty, I put the book down, rounded up Lydia and had a “cocoa and cookies party” with her. We ate cookies, drank cocoa, and talked. I learned more about preschool during our “party” than I have in all the time I’ve drilled her about it in the car! It was fun.

Mom and Grandma, we loved talking to you today. We love you and miss you so much!

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.


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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Another sick day for me. I decided to skip school tonight in the hopes that by tomorrow, I’ll be a little better. I was better today than yesterday, so at least we’re headed in the right direction!

Because I was sick, we did not leave the house today. Thank goodness Mary took two naps! When she was awake, I spent a lot of time doing the usual: feeding the girls, reading to the girls, cooking with Lydia, baking with Lydia, and letting them play outside.

Well, Lydia didn’t play outside. She stayed in the front hall and screamed while Mary and I sat on the front stoop and examined ants and flower petals. I told Lydia she had to go potty before going outside, and she just didn’t want to. I probably should have relented, but I was not in the mood to clean up accidents, and she had gone so long without taking a trip to the bathroom that I felt sure she would have an accident if she didn’t go soon. Sometimes, I just don’t know how to handle Lydia–or I do know, but I don’t always make the most patient choice. It’s something I’m constantly praying on.

After Abe came home, we ate dinner outside, and then I retreated back to bed. The best thing about being sick is that I have recently become addicted to the Fablehaven  series, and even though I’m having trouble breathing and feel feverish, I forget all that while reading. The first book wasn’t great, but each book seems vastly better than the last.

I only took one picture today:

The girls spent quite a bit of time watching the garbage trucks this morning. There was also construction on the street, so that occupied them while I devoured Fablehaven (and took a picture). When I was little, we lived in Rome, and my dad made a big deal about the garbage trucks. We used to gather on the porch and cheer "refuti!" at the trucks whenever they came by. This felt kind of full circle--the girls thought the garbage trucks were some kind of parade.

The girls spent quite a bit of time watching the garbage trucks this morning. There was also construction on the street, so that occupied them while I devoured Fablehaven (and took a picture). When I was little, we lived in Rome, and my dad made a big deal about the garbage trucks. We used to gather on the porch and cheer “refuti!” at the trucks whenever they came by. This felt kind of full circle–the girls thought the garbage trucks were some kind of parade.

Also: HAPPY BIRTHDAY, GRANDMA!!! My dearest, sweetest grandmother turned 96 today. We love you so much, Grandma! Sloppies!!!! (That’s an inside joke…)

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!

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:



A perfect Spring day

Really, it was. This day felt perfect. Having sunshine made all the difference! Even though Abe and I anticipated being zombies because we got so little sleep last night, both of us had great days. We credit God and the sunshine for that. That the girls were really quite adorable all day long helped too.

I got in: a walk to the library, baby book club with Misty, a nap, reading more in The Triple Package, a lot of homework, some ironing, a long walk with Abe and the girls, Bikram yoga, cooking a veggie phyllo roll, picking up the house, doing laundry, folding some laundry, feeding the girls three meals, setting the girls up to craft and watercolor, reading to the girls, a couple phone calls with my mom and grandma and even forty minutes of piano practice. It was an abnormally productive day. As my dad used to say, “variety is the spice of life!” This day had spice.

On the Abe front, he had another tremendous day at work. He raved to me almost the whole walk about how blessed he feels and how there is literally not one part of his day that he dreads. He looks forward to every task at work, and great stuff is basically falling into his lap for no reason other than that God must be looking out for him. Obviously, he’s doing his part, but he can not remember a time in his life where he has felt so abundantly blessed by an outpouring of God’s love.

The girls are cute. Mary said “Nana” to my mom on the phone today, and Lydia is very concerned about my grandma’s health. She kept asking how Grandma was feeling and doing. Here are some pictures Abe took of the girls while I was at yoga:

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Daddy-daughter date, Mommy-Mary date.

This morning our competition team didn’t meet, so I celebrated by taking myself straight to Instacare. The doctor figured out right away that I have a sinus infection. She didn’t waste any time; even after I tried to tell her I was a little scared of taking antibiotics because I got C Diff last year, she interrupted and told me that I had nothing to worry about. I guess they run a tight schedule over in Instacare!

By the time I arrived home, Abe had started making pancakes, and he was just about to help celebrate the cat’s birthday. Every couple days Lydia announces that it’s Puss’s birthday, but today she was especially insistent that we celebrate. We indulged.

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Then I practiced and gave Mary a piano lesson. Lately I have been too sick and tired to give Lydia lessons, but Mary is easy. I just helped her play “Twinkle” over and over. Abe took pictures.

IMG_7036 IMG_7037 IMG_7038

Then we all ate lunch and took naps. Well, Lydia played on the iPad, but everyone else napped. Lydia had a meltdown when her headphones stopped working, so Abe got up and helped her. He then bought his plane tickets for his friend’s wedding in July. He ran into some snafus and, long story short, discovered that you can cancel your ticket if you call within twenty-four hours. Phew! We are so happy for that policy. He’ll try again next week.

I dragged myself out of bed to practice for the second half of my culinary fundamentals final next Thursday. We have to make chicken chardonnay, mashed potatoes and glazed carrots. I swapped out the carrots for green beans tonight, but maybe I’ll practice the carrots on Wednesday. My final last night tested a ton of knife skills and required me to make cream of mushroom soup and broccoli hollandaise. I accidentally scrambled my hollandaise in the thirty seconds it took me to take my plate out of the oven and arrange the broccoli on top, but I didn’t have time to redo it, so I just kind of smoothed out the globs and prayed for the teacher’s mercy.

I also have a test on Monday that certifies us for managerial positions in a food establishment. I really should have studied today because that test covers a ridiculous amount of material, including the scientific names of a bunch of different food borne illnesses that I can never remember or keep straight. Maybe I’ll find time on Monday…

But back to today. Qualtrics sent Abe’s work team to the Jazz game tonight. Because I’m pretty sure a basketball game might just bore me straight out of my mind, Abe took Lydia on a daddy-daughter date. She had a blast, although when she met Abe’s co-workers she didn’t respond to any of their attempts to engage in conversation. Abe explained that she is shy, and explained to Abe that just yesterday I gave Lydia a long lecture on not talking to strangers. She was just following instructions.

Talking to her cat for twenty minutes and describing her evening. "Yeah, Puss, I'm at the arena. We're at the Jazz game. Talk to you later!"

Talking to her cat for twenty minutes and describing her evening. “Yeah, Puss, I’m at the arena. We’re at the Jazz game. Talk to you later!”

Watching the game. Abe said she locked in and pounded popcorn the entire time.

Watching the game. Abe said she locked in and pounded popcorn the entire time.

Almost smiling. When asked what her favorite part of the evening was, Lydia replied, "They winning!" Apparently, it was an exciting win.

Almost smiling. When asked what her favorite part of the evening was, Lydia replied, “They winning!” Apparently, it was an exciting win.

mar22pic4Meanwhile, I spent the evening trying to catch Mary up on all of the things she’s missed out on because she’s a second child. We cuddled and read books, built towers, ate felt food and FaceTimed with my mom and grandma. She didn’t want to go to bed, so I got to rock and sing to her. We usually don’t have time to rock or sing to the girls before bed, so this felt really nice. She wrapped her arms around my neck and gave me big kisses–right before she started slapping my cheeks and giggling…

I’m excited to go apply some Vick’s before bed. I love that stuff–it’s the difference between breathing and not breathing for me. Here’s to sleeping through the night!

President’s Day (run, sales and school)

Happy President’s Day! One of the pictures I neglected to take yesterday was of the town right outside of Zion. The entire Main Street was lined with flags, and that helped put us in a patriotic, grateful spirit. On our run this morning, we decided that we would rather lead our very own happy lives than lead the country, and we are so grateful to those who are elected and willing to do the latter.

We went on a run to City Creek Canyon this morning, but since we were both exhausted, we did a lot of talking and walking on our “run.” By the end, Lydia was begging to go to the park, and so Abe took the girls to the park while I showered and did some homework. When they came back to the house, Lydia was a wreck because she did not want to sit in the middle of the messy jogger for even a minute longer. The jogger was full of spilled snacks, sippy cups, random toys, and rumpled blankets. Lydia was screaming and trying to wriggle out of her seat belt when they pulled up to the door. I felt a lot of sympathy because that’s exactly how I feel when the van gets trashed. Maybe she got it from me.

Anyhow, before Lydia’s jogger meltdown, she and Mary had a lot of fun at the park. Mary has started throwing herself off any height she can climb to because she expects Abe to catch her. Abe made me promise to never leave her unattended at the park for even a split second from this point forward. Duly noted.

We calmed down by having a banana swirl party. Here is Lydia pitching in our family effort to get Mary to eat.

We calmed down by having a banana swirl party. Here is Lydia pitching in our family effort to get Mary to eat.

Lydia is more successful than her parents.

Lydia is more successful than her parents.

Then we took a family nap (except for Lydia, who came into our room periodically to do puzzles, ask for food, and color). Then my Auntie Geri called and we got to talk for a long time. I have been meaning to call her for over a month, so it was really wonderful to chat.

And then we took advantage of all the sales at the outlet mall in Lehi. Abe got a whole bunch of new clothes, and I got a sweater and some jeans. I swore off jeans when I discovered leggings last year and made a commitment to myself that I wouldn’t wear anything that’s not at least as comfy as my pj’s. That commitment has been extremely comfortable, but I find myself doing crazy things…like not changing my outfit for days because it’s just too easy to wear what I wore during the day to bed…and when I wake up, guess what? I’m already dressed! So the sad, unhygienic continues until the absolute need for a shower intervenes. Also, I am excited to have jeans that fit.

Then I took my midterm for my concepts and theories class. It was really easy, and I suspect the teachers have a lot of pressure from the administration to spoon feed success to the students as much as possible. I’m not complaining, though.

Then we came home and discovered a package from Balu to the girls! Lydia was asleep, so Mary got to sleep with both new stuffed toys:

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A series of delightful events

Days like this make me wonder why every day can’t just be like today. Why can’t they? I can’t figure it out, but I’m really glad when days like this happen.

This morning Lydia crawled into bed with me and wanted the iPad. I trade the iPad for practice time reciting scriptures, and today I actually recorded her reciting her scripture.

Then we went to a Valentine’s day party at preschool:

mary at preschool audreyLydia spent the rest of the day going through the valentines from her friends over and over. She had so much fun.

Then I took the kids to Gateway for Dairy Queen Blizzards and some pizza:

lydia and shakeAgain, this part of the day made us all unreasonably happy.

Then I gathered my courage and took both girls to the movie, Frozen.

frozenThis was their first movie, and they loved it. Well, Mary spent most of the movie climbing up and down the stairs and running around the theater while I chased her. Thankfully, there was only one other family in the theater, and they had small kids too. At one point, Mary ran right under the huge screen just as a big boom from the movie rang out. She let out a delighted yelp and ran as fast as her little legs could carry her straight back to me.  She’s my little thrill seeker.

Then we came home and took naps. They napped so long that I didn’t have the heart to wake them in time for me to get to class, so I just read all of the class slides and did a bunch of homework instead.

The only low point was when I lost my temper at Lydia after dinner because she was screaming for cake. But that really was the only low point for Lydia and me, and the rest of the day was just a delightful series of fun events. I guess if this happened every day, I wouldn’t appreciate these good times the same way…but really, it would be so nice.

On top of it all, Abe got moved up into a track that positions him for the next round of promotions today, so honestly, every one of us had a great day.

Now it’s time for baths and bed. I think I even have time to read my book tonight. Yay!

Here are some more pictures from the day (mainly for Mom and Grandma!):

Talking with Nana and Grandma Cullen.

Talking with Nana and Grandma Cullen.

Lydia wanted them to see her cat's pink smile.

Lydia wanted them to see her cat’s pink smile.

She spent a lot of time trying to get them to see her cat.

She spent a lot of time trying to get them to see her cat.

Here's her cat's "pink" smile. He needs a bath...

Here’s her cat’s “pink” smile. He needs a bath…

I did Mary's hair while we were on the phone. Clearly, I need to focus more when I'm attempting pigtails.

I did Mary’s hair while we were on the phone. Clearly, I need to focus more when I’m attempting pigtails.

After naps. Trying to figure out the iPad

After naps. Trying to figure out the iPad

Because I don't understand the "less is more" principle when it comes to pictures of my kids.

Because I don’t understand the “less is more” principle when it comes to pictures of my kids.