birthdays

This morning was my first Sunday in my new calling. I enjoyed the Primary, although I am a little overwhelmed at the prospect of learning everyone’s names. I also am not quite sure how to make myself most useful, but I’m sure that that will become clear in time.

We left church soon after Sacrament meeting (our last meeting) because Mary was inconsolable. We came home, ate, took naps, and then had a family council. Abe loves to plan for the week, and he really wanted to plan as a family. This is what it looked like:

IMG_8326 IMG_8327A little hectic.

We Skyped right afterward with Clark and Swathi. The sound on my iPad broke last week, so Skyping is a lot more complicated now. Nevertheless, it was great to chat with Clark and Swathi. We love them so much.

Then we headed to the Miners’ for birthday celebrations.

Playing badminton outside.

Playing badminton outside.

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Katie played while holding Mary. Impressive.

Katie played while holding Mary. Impressive.

Abe discussing how much he loves his job and why.

Abe discussing how much he loves his job and why.

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Frankie.

Frankie.

Waiting for the birthday festivities to begin.

Waiting for the birthday festivities to begin.

We moved Lydia under the counter so she could see the action.

We moved Lydia under the counter so she could see the action.

We celebrated Clint's birthday. He and Heather live in Phoenix but were in town. It was great getting to know them better!

We celebrated Clint’s birthday. He and Heather live in Phoenix but were in town. It was great getting to know them better!

Charlie and Henry trying to blow out the trick candles once and for all.

Charlie and Henry trying to blow out the trick candles once and for all.

It was Steve's birthday, too. Henry helped blow out the candles.

It was Steve’s birthday, too. Henry helped blow out the candles.

Mary clapped.

Mary clapped.

Steve with nieces and nephews.

Steve with nieces and nephews.

Siblings.

Siblings.

Steve with his parents. The cutest picture of the day, I think.

Steve with his parents. The cutest picture of the day, I think.

Examining seed pods afterward.

Examining seed pods afterward.

And throwing them.

And throwing them.

This is a picture Abe took yesterday after the market (that I forgot to post).

This is a picture Abe took yesterday after the market (that I forgot to post).

Sunny Sunday

If I have to be sick, I want every day to be like this. It was sunny and glorious, and even though I spent most of church feeling miserable and so sorry for myself, the rest of the day was terrific. Thanks to Abe’s efforts and the kids’ long naps, there was lots of down-time. I even started reading the next Fablehaven book, and it’s proving to be much better than the first one.

Here are today’s pictures:

We ate dinner outside again. It was so nice I forgot I was sick for a little bit.

We ate dinner outside again. It was so nice I forgot I was sick for a little bit.

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I was sitting at the table eating and marveling at how green everything is. I just love, love, love verdant scenes.

I was sitting at the table eating and marveling at how green everything is. I just love, love, love verdant scenes.

Lydia still has not figured out how to glide on her balance bike, but that doesn't stop her from walking around on it.

Lydia still has not figured out how to glide on her balance bike, but that doesn’t stop her from walking around on it.

Abe was dying to trace the girls' outlines and color them in, but the girls were scared. So he finally begged us to trace him. Here's Lydia coloring Abe's outline.

Abe was dying to trace the girls’ outlines and color them in, but the girls were scared. So he finally begged us to trace him. Here’s Lydia coloring Abe’s outline.

And then she danced on it.

And then she danced on it.

Abe felt proud.

Abe felt proud.

Whenever Mary wants praise, she just folds her arms like she's going to pray. We all go nuts.

Whenever Mary wants praise, she just folds her arms like she’s going to pray. We all go nuts.

After all the fun with Daddy's outline, Mary wanted in.

After all the fun with Daddy’s outline, Mary wanted in.

And, of course, so did Lydia.

And, of course, so did Lydia.

Then it was chase outside.

Then it was chase outside.

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Then we returned inside and wondered how to spend the rest of the evening. At that very moment, who should call but Clark and Swathi! We Skyped with them for an hour. That’s always a highlight of my week. As soon as we said good-bye to them, the doorbell rang. It was Suzanne!

Suzanne came over for a visit.

Suzanne came over for a visit.

The girls both wanted turns on her lap.

The girls both wanted turns on her lap.

Mary spent approximately an hour picking out cards from our various piles, sorting them, and handing them to all of us.

Mary spent approximately an hour picking out cards from our various piles, sorting them, and handing them to all of us.

Handing Suzanne a card.

Handing Suzanne a card.

Returning from card distribution duty with a sense of satisfaction.

Returning from card distribution duty with a sense of satisfaction.

And I have Suzanne to thank for the decongestants I am about to take. Here’s hoping for a great night’s sleep!

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!

Happy Easter!

I have a ton of cute pictures from Easter, so we’ll just get to the good stuff right away:

IMG_7403 IMG_7406 IMG_7411 IMG_7417Then after church and naps, we headed to the Miners’ for dinner and their Easter egg hunt. That was egg hunt #5 of the season for the girls.

The girls posed with a bunny and had a little scuffle  about who got to hold the bunny....

The girls posed with a bunny and had a little scuffle about who got to hold the bunny….

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...Mary won that fight.

…Mary won that fight.

I made rolls again to bring to the dinner.  (This was the small pan.)

I made rolls again to bring to the dinner. (This was the small pan.)

Egg hunt:

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Frankie, the dog, wasn’t interested in the eraser Mary repeatedly offered. But he didn’t mind being petted. That was great, since Mary spent a lot of time chasing him down to pet. Lydia prefers to keep a very healthy distance from dogs.

Then we came home, Skyped with Clark and Swathi, talked with my mom, picked up the house, and now will hopefully get a jump start on early bed time for the week. Happy Easter!

Lydia’s birthday, round 2

After church today, we napped. Lydia was watching Veggie Tales on the iPad when suddenly I awoke to hear her having a full-blown conversation with someone on the iPad. I asked Abe who Lydia was talking to, and in his groggy, half-asleep state he replied, “Nape.” I asked him who “Nape” was, and he told me that he was tired but that Lydia was definitely talking to Nape. By this time, I was waking up a little more and realized that Lydia was Face Timing with Clark and Swathi. They called while we were sleeping, and since Lydia was on the iPad, she answered their call.

A few minutes later, we all called and chatted with Clark and Swathi, and this time Abe joined us. He was still barely awake, but he was awake enough to know that we weren’t talking to Nape.

Then we picked up Balu and headed to the Miners’ for birthday celebrations. We haven’t seen Balu in a long time, and it was great to spend time with him again. Lydia had a blast having a second round of her birthday, but you wouldn’t know it from the solemn way she opened her presents and whispered her thank-you’s. She didn’t crack a smile once, but when we got home, she could barely sleep because she wanted to play with all of her new presents. We compromised by letting her sleep with six new books and one of her birthday cards.

She also made her own cupcakes for the Miners’ gathering today. Usually, I try to control parts of the baking process that can get messy, but today I figured, what the heck? They’re her cupcakes, and she should be able to do whatever she wants with them. I ended up helping with the frosting just because she kept tearing up the cupcakes she frosted, but really, she did (almost) everything else.

IMG_7043 IMG_7050Having fun at the Miners’:

Okay, okay. Initially she was zonked on the couch because she didn't nap today...

Okay, okay. Initially she was zonked on the couch because she didn’t nap today…

But she woke up!

But she woke up!

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Last day with mom–a pretty one, at that!

Today we all slept in after yesterday’s birthday festivities–and it didn’t adversely affect our punctuality at church, since today is BOTH daylight savings and stake conference. For stake conference, our stake meets at the Tabernacle at Temple Square, which is an incredible experience. Sitting in that historic building by itself would have been wonderful, but having served my mission at Temple Square, I felt an added measure of enjoyment.

Abe discreetly took this during conference.

A discreet shot of conference.

 

Mary slept on a bench for  the first part of conference.

Mary slept on a bench for the first part of conference.

One of our speakers was 102 years old, and she was the granddaughter of both President Heber J. Grant and Joseph Fielding Smith. She herself was the General Young Women’s president at one point and was the impetus behind the restoration/building of many church buildings, including the Beehive House, the original Joseph Smith Farm in Palmyra, and the Church History Museum. She told some wonderful stories from her life, and we were all impressed that at 102 years old she could still “rally the faithful.”

But my favorite part of conference was when we learned about our new “forty days of holiness” program. For the next forty days, members of our stake will read through the entire four gospels and 3 Nephi in anticipation of Easter. It’s kind of like Lent, only we’ll be reading about seven pages of scriptures a day instead of giving up something. I am so excited to get started, so I’ll post pictures and start already!

Eventually, the girls couldn't handle conference, so Abe took them outside and let them play on the square.

Eventually, the girls couldn’t handle conference, so Abe took them outside and let them play on the square.

Mary wanted to push Lydia home.

Mary wanted to push Lydia home.

She made it pretty far.

She made it pretty far.

We took a walk after dinner, and the girls fell asleep.

We took a walk after dinner, and the girls fell asleep.

It's been an exciting weekend.

It’s been an exciting weekend.

Most of all, we will miss my mom soooooooooo much. But we know she’s going to another happy spot, and we are happy she and Grandma have each other for company. We love you, Grandma!! We’ll give Mom lots of hugs and kisses tomorrow to give to you when she gets back.

Happy third birthday, Lydia!!!

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Happy birthday, Lydia!! We tried to make this the happiest, most fun day for Lydia we could think of. We started off by watching videos of when she was a baby while we cuddled and I told her how exciting it was to meet her this day three years ago. Abe headed downstairs to make pancakes with pureed strawberry syrup, which both girls had fun dipping their pancakes in.

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My mom went to the church to fulfill our cleaning assignment so we could have the morning with Lydia together. She is the most selfless person I know. We are so happy to have her here!

Then Lydia and I baked the other half of Lydia’s cake while Abe played with Mary.

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Abe did all the dishes while I read to the girls. Then my mom gave the girls matching dresses to wear for Lydia’s birthday. We took Mary’s off so she wouldn’t get it dirty climbing around the movie theater, but they played at home in their matching outfits (my heart pitter-pattering the whole time).

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Lydia giving Mary a birthday kiss.

Lydia giving Mary a birthday kiss.

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When Abe and I were both finally dressed and ready to go, all of us (including my mom!) headed to the Gateway where we had Dairy Queens before going to Frozen. 

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Tom joined us for the movie, and he was a great help when Mary escaped near the end and started climbing the stairs at the movie theater.

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After the movie, we played outside in the sunshine for a while and let the girls run around. Lydia loved twirling in one of the new dresses Nana gave her for her birthday.

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Then we headed to the library and read Lydia a book about birthdays. The protagonist was not only her favorite thing in the world–a cat–but she was wearing a startlingly similar dress to Lydia’s. Then we checked out some pink books in honor of her birthday and headed to the store to pick up some things before going home.

At home, we made frosting and assembled her yellow and strawberry cake. The strawberry turned gray when Lydia dumped in the sprinkles (THE essential ingredient of her cake, in her opinion).

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I basically injected pureed strawberries into a regular buttercream icing, and while the result was tasty, the texture left a LOT to be desired. Basically, it fell off of the cake. But Lydia didn’t care since the cake was pink and full of strawberries, and after dinner she enjoyed the whole song-candle-blowing-cake-and-ice-cream-eating process.IMG_6903 IMG_6907 IMG_6908

Pinterest fail. Maybe I'll learn how to make a successful, fresh, fruit icing when I take my baking and pastry classes.

Pinterest fail. Maybe I’ll learn how to make a successful, fresh, fruit icing when I take my baking and pastry classes.

Then Abe gave the girls baths and changed them into jammies before we opened presents.

Nana brushed their hair.

Nana brushed their hair.

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Eyeing presents.

Eyeing presents.

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Mary was dying to wear a costume, too, so she got to wear this hand-me-down shirt from a family reunion we had years ago. It made her SO happy.

Mary was dying to wear a costume, too, so she got to wear this hand-me-down shirt from a family reunion we had years ago. It made her SO happy.

This diaper cover completed her look.

This diaper cover completed her look.

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For the last hour the girls have been playing with Lydia’s new presents, and right now Abe is trying to make sure they sleep in tomorrow by playing vigorous games of chase-and-throw-the-children.

Then Clark, Swathi, and Balu called from New York and wished Lydia a happy birthday. She relived her whole day in their conversation and kept repeating that she had a fun birthday. She especially loved telling them repeatedly about how the game of chase made her laugh and giggle.

I am beyond ready for bed, so I’m blogging early and will be retiring as soon as I hit publish (hopefully). Happy birthday, my sweet and beautiful Lydia!!!

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Mary has a new word!

Today at church we talked about Abraham’s sacrifice and what that means. During the course of the discussion, the importance of personal revelation came up. One woman made a comment dismissing the importance of revelation, and I could almost see Abe’s allergic reaction to her words. He controlled himself and didn’t allow himself to respond, but afterward we spent a long time discussing how grateful we are for personal revelation.

Then Abe bore his testimony in church. Lydia was perfectly behaved and sat quietly on the bench the whole time, but I missed most of what he said because I was chasing Mary around the halls the whole time. She has a lot of energy.

This afternoon my lovely visiting teacher, Erika, came over. I always feel bad because I talk to her for such long periods of time, but she is just so fun to talk to.

After she left, Anique called and invited us on a walk to a playground. Mary had just woken up, and it was too early to break our fast, so the timing was awesome.

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The girls had so much fun playing, and Anique and I spent the whole walk back talking about food. I get so hungry on fast Sunday that I was literally drooling while we talked. It was a little embarrassing. We made plans to start a monthly lunch date. I’m so excited.

Then we went home, ate dinner and Face Timed with Clark and Swathi. They amused Mary with funny faces and listened patiently to Lydia ramble on about whatever was on her mind. Then I talked their ears off about the culture at culinary school and the drama of preschool hunting. At one point, I laughed so hard I cried. That felt fantastic.

Then we played with the girls until Tom and Suzanne came over for a visit.

They all had "princess hair," including Abe and the cat.

They all had “princess hair,” including Abe and the cat.

It was so fun to see Tom and Suzanne. Suzanne taught the Sunday School lesson in her ward today, and it was interesting to hear where her ward went in the Abraham discussion.

And now Mary is crying because she doesn’t want to go to bed. She’s saying a new word! “Daddy! Dad! Daddy!”  Awwww…Abe can’t resist and is going to her. I wish she would learn “Mama” one of these days…sniffle.

**I’m adding these last pictures a day later because I just now received them from Abe’s phone:

mary in fridge mary and noodle princess tent

Late nights and early mornings

It’s me, Abe, again!  Lily doesn’t know it yet, but I’m blogging for her so when she gets home at 11:30 from cooking school, she can go straight to bed.  She also doesn’t know it yet, but I’m staying up for her tonight because we haven’t seen much of each other lately and I miss her.  I do wake up at 5:45, but I’m sure somehow that will sort itself out.

Work is going extremely well, thanks to lots training and divine intervention. I ended last week feeling bad at my job, and this week I had a training that gave me knowledge on how to progress.  I’ve prayed a lot for help and I’ve worked at applying the training I’ve received and so far I am on pace with my goal of setting one meeting per day for a sales representative.  Today ended on a positive and dramatic note when after a whole day of not setting a single meeting, my last phone call of the day turned into a meeting set.  Yay!

Lily literally  recapped her day for me in two and a half minutes as we met and did the car swap in front of her school.  I’ll probably butcher this, but here is what I remember:

She visited Marilyn Brinton, with her new visiting teaching companion, Jen.  Lily completely adores both Marilyn and Jen and loved spending time with them.  Then, Lily fed the kids and cleaned, went to the Library, fed the kids and cleaned, practiced some piano, fed the kids and cleaned, did some homework, fed the ….you get the idea.   Our children eat a lot and I marvel at Lily’s ability to keep the kitchen clean.

After briefly meeting up with Lily I took the kids home and fed them (I cleaned after they went to bed!).  After dinner, Clark and Swathi faced timed us which was super fun!  No one got a word in except for Lydia who dominated the entire conversation either talking about her cat or talking directly to her cat and expecting us to watch the interaction with rapt attention.  Swathi, Clark and I all made solid efforts to exchange complete sentences, but alas we could not compete with dear Lydia’s passion for her cat combined with her love for attention.  I think the reality is that we were all quite entertained.

I’m going to crawl into bed and buy a white elephant Christmas gift for one of my friends.  We postponed our exchange to February 1, and somehow that still did not give me enough time to be on top of things.

If Lily has the energy, she may add to my post when she gets home.

It appears we didn’t take any pictures with our camera tonight.  Ciao!

9 to 9 run-down.

Abe went to Tom and Suzanne’s house this morning to work on his work stuff, and in the meantime I: Started making tomorrow’s dinner, played piano with the girls, aided Lydia in her attempts to craft more postcards for her cat, read books to Lydia, and rocked Mary for approximately half an hour while both girls threw long, loud tantrums. Finally, I figured out Mary needed breakfast #2, and after that she went to sleep.

Then Lydia and I Skyped with Clark and Swathi until Abe came home. As soon as he came home, I hightailed it to the piano and remained there until Mary woke up from her nap. I think after that we ate again, read more books, and then I took a nap.

After that, we went to the library to pick out more books and read down some more fines. Then we stopped at Payless to buy my chef shoes (this semester is my first one with a lab class, so I didn’t need them until now). It seems like a lot of food industry people must shop at Payless because they had a TON of non-slip, food-industry friendly options all in the same place.

Then it was gas, groceries, home, dinner, clean the kitchen, read to the girls, and bedtime.

I should mention that Lydia, who had been anticipating our outing all day long, fell asleep the minute we got into the car and didn’t wake up until we returned home hours later. Even after we brought her inside, she sat on the couch in an unblinking stupor for (Abe and I timed it, sort of) 20 minutes.

lydia on couchWe thought it was funny.

Since I finished The Hobbit, I feel like maybe I can read again. But even though I checked out three fabulous options (Gladwell’s David and Goliath, a Beethoven biography, and The Fellowship of the Ring), I feel pulled to this month’s issue of Martha Stewart Living. The iPad edition has links to six different heirloom seed catalogs for vegetables alone. There are also links to flowers and other plants, but it’s the veggie links that truly pull on my heartstrings. Does this link not make you want to plant tomatoes, or does it not make you want to plant tomatoes? Tomorrow I am going to ask the bishop if I can get a plot in the church field a couple blocks from our house. Hopefully they’re not already all taken!

I should also mention that Tom did a magnificent job fixing Abe’s laptop today, and Abe has been over the moon with excitement and anticipation all day. My nightly blogging habit on his desk computer has made him miss a working laptop, and now he has one again. Hooray!