Festivus for the rest of us

Last night Mary barely slept, so Abe and I were exhausted today. Heck, Mary was exhausted; after breakfast, she took an hour and a half nap. After she woke up, we did errands while Lydia was at preschool.

One of our errands involved shopping for a baby shower present. I walked into Pottery Barn Kids and was disgusted (for the first time ever in that particular store) because there were Christmas decorations everywhere. Halloween, one of my favorite holidays of the year, hasn’t even happened yet!!! I want to walk in places and see witches, ghosts, and hobgoblins, and, most of all, PUMPKINS AND ALL THINGS FALL–not elves and Santa!

Also, I genuinely hate the commercialization of a holiday that does have actual religious significance to me. So in the spirit of objection, I went home and baked babka and celebrated Festivus. I air grievances all the time, and in light of how much I love babka (tonight was the first time I’ve had it), I think it should be a regular holiday around here. I’m sure I can drum up an aluminum pole somewhere…

Anyway, since I knew my social anxiety could NOT handle the baby shower, and since Abe was home exhausted with the kids, I literally spent ten seconds at the shower– enough to hand over a gift, grimace, and flee in terror. Even the ten second exposure I had kept me panicking until I made two more personal, uplifting visits on the way home (one to a visiting teachee and one to Abe’s aunt). Those picked me right back up.

I should stop writing and go help Abe. The poor man is cleaning the house, and I know he’s about to drop from exhaustion.

Here are the pictures!

Making babka.

Making babka.

The messy chocolate part.

The messy chocolate part.

One of the loaves.

One of the loaves.

While I was gone, Abe made these broom with the girls for our FHE activity. When I got back, we sang along to Frozen and I showed the girls a picture of my dad and taught them a little about who he was.

While I was gone, Abe made these broom with the girls for our FHE activity. I should note that they foraged for all of the materials in our yard. When I got back, we sang along to Frozen and I showed the girls a picture of my dad and taught them a little about who he was.

More witch nerdiness

I am a little obsessed with witches right now, and since my friend Paige is moving in less than a month, I took it upon myself to sew a costume for Ada. That meant that we went back to the fabric store this morning, and then we went to the library before coming back home.

I didn't get a picture of Ada in the full costume, but I did get Lydia. Picture this with a black t-shirt underneath.

I didn’t get a picture of Ada in the full costume, but I did get Lydia. Picture this with a black t-shirt underneath.

Then I couldn’t wait for Ada to try it on, but my house is still under quarantine for the lice. So Ada came over and had a play date outside with the girls for a little bit, and I got to see (but not take a picture of) her in the outfit.

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Eventually, Ada and Lydia shed their clothing. They prefer to be naked. Lydia at one point started pulling down pants AND undies after announcing she would pee on the grass, which Ada thought was hilarious. Abe and I always offer Lydia the option of peeing on the side of the road during road trips knowing she won't want to, but today she called that bluff.

Eventually, Ada and Lydia shed their clothing. They prefer to be naked. Lydia at one point started pulling down pants AND undies after announcing she would pee on the grass, which Ada thought was hilarious. Abe and I always offer Lydia the option of peeing on the side of the road during road trips knowing she won’t want to and will try really hard to hold it instead, but today she called that bluff.

date night

Today started off with breakfast and a play date with Misty. I harbor fond hopes that someday Mary and Max will get married, and they were so cute and played ball together.

IMG_9470After Misty left, I took the girls to the basement to paint while I did the treadmill.

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At five minutes and forty seconds in, Mary proceeded to spill green paint all over the basement carpet. I spent the next hour scrubbing and vacuuming and scrubbing the paint some more.

Then I put Mary down for a nap, knocked out three homework assignments and cleaned up Lydia and the back room carpet after she peed all over the floor. Feeling harried, I downed a cup of cocoa while the girls watched Snow White, and then I joined them until Isabella came over.

Isabella babysat the girls while Abe and I went to dinner and a concert with Karin and Jay.

We ate dinner at the Oasis Cafe.

We ate dinner at the Oasis Cafe.

Then we headed over to hear the Utah Chamber Artists perform a splendid concert at the Cathedral of the Madeleine. We were late, but we caught the end of the first half and all of the second half of the concert. The second half was the Utah premiere of Eriks Esenvalds Passion and Resurrection. My favorite part was the very end, where the chorus sings to the soprano, “Woman, why weepest thou?” and she responds, “Sir, if thou has borne him hence, tell me where thou has laid him, and I will take him away.” The chorus then sings, “Mariam, Mariam, Mariam,” in a sweet, echoing refrain. The lights in the church went out as the soprano took up an alter candle and walked to the end of the church singing, “Rabboni, Rabboni, Rabboni.”

The concert is free, and I want to go again tomorrow, at least to hear the parts I missed tonight. We’ll see if that’s even logistically possible, but I really, really enjoyed it.

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organizing kick

This morning I had to make up a class at school while Abe took Lydia to dance and Mary to the park. After school I went to IKEA to look for a toddler bed only to discover Lydia’s bed was discontinued. No luck! Instead, I bought a bunch of random stuff, including containers to organize the craft area.

After I came home, I organized the girls’ craft area while Lydia painted happily away with her new paints. Then we did errands, after which Abe had to run to the church to set up chairs for the temple dedication broadcast tomorrow. While he did that, I attacked all of my kitchen cabinets and my fridge. Since I was on an organizing kick, they got organized! I threw away a ton of expired things and discovered wonderful spices and treasures that I had completely forgotten about. I have THREE packages of saffron! What abundance! I can make saffron rice every day this week if I want!

Now the bad news. Grandma and Mom, I am sorry, but we were so busy today that we forgot to take pictures. We should have taken one of Mary. We let her run around until 10:30 while we organized. (Lydia fell asleep at 6:30 and never woke up after that.)

But good news! My friend, Jen, took pictures of the girls at ballet and some of the kids at the park. Thanks, Jen!

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Mary is under the bridge, and you can see one of the twins on top.

Mary is under the bridge, and you can see one of the twins on top.

Anyway, Abe and I were hoping to get a movie in, so maybe we’ll get half–or a quarter–of one in instead.

Baking/cooking marathon and Orderville is real

I spent an hour on the treadmill this morning, but the rest of the day revolved around food. I completely undid whatever good that treadmill pain did this morning. We didn’t leave the house because I spent the whole afternoon preparing for our dinner with the Deems and Shala (some teachers in the Primary).

Lydia helped me a little with the baking. We made Martha Stewart’s lemon poppy seed cake, which takes approximately a million steps to do correctly.

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In between the four layers of luscious cake, there is a whipped lemon curd filling. Mom, I am making this for you when you come out. I had to give the rest of the cake away to our neighbors because I would have eaten it ALL if it stayed in the house.

In between the four layers of luscious cake, there is a whipped lemon curd filling. Mom, I am making this for you when you come out. I had to give the rest of the cake away to our neighbors because I would have eaten it ALL if it stayed in the house.

In addition to making the cake (which involved: Two rounds of sifting, completing a 1-2-3 batter, whipping egg whites to fold into the batter, making lemon curd, refrigerating curd, whipping cream, whipping cream and curd together, cutting cake into layers, putting curd in between the layers, refrigerating layers + curd together, boiling a corn syrup mixture, mixing that with more whipped egg whites, and–finally–frosting the cake!), I also roasted some lamb that I got on sale at the Farmer’s Market last weekend, made three pounds of mashed potatoes (don’t ask why I thought we needed so many), steamed broccoli, roasted garlic, minced a ton of herbs from the garden, prepared mint water, and cleaned every area of the house the guests would see.

You would think the Queen of England was visiting! But actually, what really happened is that I was just in the mood to cook and bake all day. I found baking with Lydia to be both fun and stressful, and my resolve to not yell was tested and found lacking several times during that process. But even still, I was doing exactly what I wanted to be doing, and everything turned out great (if I say so myself).

The best part, of course, was the actual visit. The Deems are in their late 70’s, and they’re still going strong. We found out their career revolved around a local lingerie chain that used to be the local equivalent of Victoria’s Secret. Shala was also full of interesting stories. She’s from Orderville, Utah. Prior to meeting Shala, I had always assumed Orderville was an LDS myth. It’s not! It was the town that managed to live the United Order longer than any other Mormon settlement, but the order fell apart when one young man from Orderville visited Salt Lake and bought a pair of pants that was different from what everyone else had. That was the start of the disintegration of the United Order. Prior to his Salt Lake visit, everyone wore the exact same style of overalls. After his visit, people wanted to start wearing different things, and it became impossible to live the United Order any longer.

Anyway, Abe is asleep, and so I better wrap this up. Mom, I’m going to get you Mary’s measurements soon. We had to put the kids to bed right after everyone left because Abe had to go do some Elder’s Quorum stuff–we didn’t have time to take her measurements. It was so great talking to you. Love you!

Germy conversations and an anti-racist FHE

I started off by giving the girls a bath because I couldn’t recall the last time we bathed them. They were starting to smell. Lately I’ve been trying to motivate Lydia to wash her hands, brush her teeth, and generally keep clean by dramatizing imagined conversations between germs and her body.

During her bath, she made me repeat over and over how she was drowning the icky germs, and throughout the day she kept asking me, “Mommy, what are my germs saying now?” At one point, right as I was relaying what her germs were saying to her body, she said, “Mom, gotta go, I need to brush my teeth!” (She’d already brushed them half an hour earlier, and she loved the idea of brushing all the germs off.)

After breakfast, the girls peeled and broke up bananas for banana swirl.

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Then I did my treadmill routine while the kids played and crafted in the very messy basement. (I cleaned it during quiet time today.)

IMG_9181 IMG_9183Then we had lunch, books, and quiet time. The picture taking resumed when Abe got home from work.

Abe loves taking pictures of these salads.

Abe loves taking pictures of these Nicoise salads. This was actually a great dinner to have after discussing germs all day. I got to tell Lydia about how all the nutrients in all the different veggies were scaring her germs by making her healthy and strong. She downed them with gusto.

aug18pic4 aug18pic2 aug18Then I had my Primary meeting, after which I came home and took a walk with Abe and the girls. We visited some of Abe’s home teachees who live up a couple blocks. On our way home, we met the nicest older couple, Bob and Becky. After chatting with them for the better part of twenty minutes, they offered us the bounty of their garden–a huge bagful of tomatoes! The girls were ecstatic. We came home, stripped off their shirts and had a tomato-gorging party.

After that, we had an anti-racist FHE. With all that’s been going on in Ferguson, I realized I need to actively start teaching anti-racism at home. Since Salt Lake is so homogeneous, especially where we live, the issue of race barely comes up. The only times Lydia has ever visited with any African Americans were 1) when my high school friend came and stayed with us two years ago 2) when my grad school friend came and stayed with us six months before that and 3) when one of my culinary school friends came over for dinner (she’s since moved). That’s it.

So we had our anti-racist FHE to at least start a conversation with her. We started simple:

1) God made us in all different colors, and he loves all of his children exactly the same. No one is better than anyone else because of skin color.

2) There are people in the world who think that people with different skin colors are bad. God doesn’t like that kind of thinking.

3) Abe read us this quote:
“I remind you that no man who makes disparaging remarks concerning those of another race can consider himself a true disciple of Christ. Nor can he consider himself to be in harmony with the teachings of the Church of Christ. ”

Amen and good night.

My new cleaning pal

This morning I took it slow. Other than getting a run in on the treadmill, I basically did nothing all morning (aside from keeping the girls alive).

Things picked up after quiet time, though. Lydia and I shucked corn, and I almost wilted in the heat. Afterward we retreated back into the house for a cooking, cleaning, and laundry marathon.

IMG_9169After Abe came home, we ate dinner and played a vigorous game of chase.

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Taking a break from chase.

Taking a break from chase.

Then we went to Target to buy this dreamy device:

A carpet and hardwood floor scrubber/steamer! 1000 scrubs per minute! Lightweight! I can't wait to try it tomorrow!!!!

A carpet and hardwood floor scrubber/steamer! 1000 scrubs per minute! Lightweight! I can’t wait to try it tomorrow!!!!

Abe is downstairs duck taping the bag for our old vacuum. We don’t have replacement bags since it is over two decades old, and in order for my steamer to work, you need to follow up with a vacuum. Buying a new vacuum is next on our list. (Actually, we intended to buy a new vacuum today, but I got seduced by the steamer.)

FHE at Temple Square

On Saturday I had Majudara for the first time (because of our O’Falafal Groupon). Imagine my excitement when this month’s issue of Cook’s Illustrated contained the recipe! It was too good to be true. I had to make the dish.

So tonight I made it, and we had the Anderson’s over for dinner because I was so excited to share the joy of this dish. And I had leftover sugared saffron sauce from class and wanted to make panna cotta again. I love it when food turns out well, and tonight I can say, with the exception of the panna cotta (too gelatinous; I should have dialed down the gelatin), everything turned out great! And we love the Andersons, so visiting with them is always fun.

Abe wanted to take a picture of the panna cotta with saffron sauce.

Abe wanted to take a picture of the panna cotta with saffron sauce.

Afterward, Abe and Mike went to help with a move in the ward, and Paige and I took the kids around Temple Square. After Paige left, Abe joined us and we walked around until almost 10pm. The girls had so much fun in the fountains. They kept throwing in pennies to make wishes, and Mary would come up to me and say, “More wishes! More wishes!” It was so cute. She was also enamored with the temple and said “bye-bye” to it about a million times.

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Ada and Lydia below the Seagull Monument. Ada brought her pet snail along for the adventure.

Ada and Lydia below the Seagull Monument. Ada brought her pet snail along for the adventure.

Watching their pennies sink to the bottom of the fountain.

Watching their pennies sink to the bottom of the fountain.

She's wet from splashing in all the fountains.

She’s wet from splashing in all the fountains.

IMG_9044 IMG_9045When we got home, both girls had a snack before going to bed. I think they were too busy playing during dinner to actually eat, so they were both very hungry.

Mary eating her post-10 pm snack. I have high hopes they will sleep in tomorrow!

Mary eating her post-10 pm snack. I have high hopes they will sleep in tomorrow!

Saturday (and a little bit of Friday)

Mom and Grandma, so sorry for not blogging yesterday! The internet was so slooooooooow last night, and after I finished my homework, it was already late and I was burnt out from dealing with the internet. I’m just going to add categories to today’s blog that apply from yesterday. (Yesterday we went to the mall with Rose, Sev, and Taina, babysat the kids while Rose grocery shopped, and went to Bikram in the afternoon.)

Today I went on a run up City Creek Canyon while Abe took the girls to ballet. Afterward, we went to the library and the market.

Abe waiting patiently with the girls while I ran to pick up some produce and cheese.

Abe waiting patiently with the girls while I ran to pick up some produce and cheese.

Then we used a Groupon at O’Falafel, a Palestinian restaurant in Sugar House. The cousin of the owner came over and ended up chatting with us for a long time, and we loved getting to know him and eating the delicious food.

IMG_9005 IMG_9006 IMG_9010 IMG_9007Then we came home for naps. Mary slept a little in the car, so for much of our nap she was climbing over Abe and me and trying to ride us like horses. (Abe played horsey with the girls at his parents’ house after ballet, and she apparently wanted to revisit the game.)

Abe crafted with the girls for an hour after our naps while I practiced the piano. The girls were so cute–they would run up every couple minutes and bring me gifts that they’d crafted. Sometimes the gifts were just wrinkled papers in an envelope, but it was still sweet. Lydia kept saying, “Mom, I made this for you because I love you.” Mary would give me her gift, blow me a kiss, and run back downstairs to craft some more.

I sang children's songs with the girls before Isabella came, and when she wasn't participating, Mary pretended to clean the table. She wipes it down while muttering, "Keen, keen!" (Clean, clean!)

I sang children’s songs with the girls before Isabella came, and when she wasn’t participating, Mary pretended to clean the table. She wipes it down while muttering, “Keen, keen!” (Clean, clean!)

Then Isabella babysat so Abe and I could go to the temple. We picked up some groceries on the way home, and now we may or may not watch a movie.

Ode to Isabella

Abe and I have a lot to give thanks for today. He had a fantastic day at work and I had a wonderful day at home. Well, actually, I spent a lot of the time at yoga because Abe’s cousin is now on the babysitting market, and she charges the same rate as my gym childcare. Lydia has begged me to let Isabella babysit her, and even though I was initially hesitant because Isabella is slightly on the young side, I finally relented.

When I got home from yoga, not only was Mary peacefully napping, but Lydia and Isabella were happily chatting away in Lydia’s clean room. That’s right. Isabella and Lydia cleaned while I was at yoga. Isabella found her way to my heart strings today. I should have snapped more photos of Lydia hugging Isabella, which she did spontaneously and with great affection multiple times, but I was just too busy trying to do laundry and deep clean the house. Isabella hung out with us for the rest of the day, and when Mary got up, we all went to the pool for a little bit.

Then we came back home and ate dinner. Abe took the girls to buy a present for Sophia’s birthday party tomorrow, and I stayed home and “cleaned.” (I actually spent most of the time eating banana bread.)

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We held FHE when Abe and the girls returned. I gave a little lesson on the flag and then we drew pictures of the flag on Sophia’s wrapping paper.

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