school clothes, a date, a Miner party, and my new steam cleaner does it all

Mary has been waking up at 4:30am a couple times a week recently. I have conflicted feelings about this. I miss not sleeping through the night, but I absolutely adore cuddling with Mary. Last night after I rocked her, I was so awake I couldn’t fall back asleep. Finally at 7 am I leaped out of bed to get a head start on the day.

I raced to the market and Tony Caputo’s for produce and cheese, then headed home to pick up the girls. Abe had an Elder’s Quorum move this morning, so I took the girls to get Lydia some more school clothes and her new preschool uniform (which she has to wear every Tuesday).

They were best buddies in the car.

They were best buddies in the car. We spent a ton of time driving around, and we talked and bonded the whole time. I sometimes tune Lydia’s talking out, but today I determined not to do that–and it was great! We had a lot of fun.

At the mall. The girls raced around and had a lot of fun together.

At the mall. The girls raced around and had a lot of fun together.

After that outing, we drove home, ate lunch, and took naps.

When we woke up, Suzanne came over to pick the girls up for a Miner family party.

aug23pic7 aug23pic6 aug23pic4 aug23pic3 aug23pic2 aug23pic1 aug23In the meantime, Abe and I went on a date with an Amazon Local deal to one of our favorite restaurants.

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Ichiban Sushi. We love this place.

Ichiban Sushi. We love this place.

Then we bought Lydia more clothes, because honestly, she is growing so fast and I just can’t keep up. Once we’d purchased a whole new wardrobe at Kid-to-Kid, we went grocery shopping.

Suzanne dropped the girls off, and while Abe bathed them, I steam cleaned the carpet in their room. I am in love with the new cleaner! I cleaned the house for the next three hours (with the neighbors’ permission), and our floors and carpets have never looked cleaner. Once midnight was upon us, I stopped steam cleaning and just vacuumed, but still–it looks great, and I can’t wait for Monday because I can steam clean every last inch of the house that I didn’t get to today! Yippee!!

Cleaning marathon

Aside from taking my girls to story time at the library and then going to the gym for a swim, I literally cleaned all day long. Well, I took a forty-five minute break to play the piano, and I fed the kids a couple times, but other than that, all I did today was clean (and bake cookies). I don’t think the house has ever been this clean, and I feel so happy! The only thing I wish I’d done is mop all the floors, but at least they’re all swept or vacuumed.

I have another final project to do tomorrow, and there’s nothing I hate more than doing school work in the middle of a mess. I anticipate highly enjoying my project tomorrow thanks to today’s efforts.

And, best of all, my friend Candace is coming in tonight and will stay the weekend with us! She got a mini-pass to the Alt Summit to hear Martha Stewart present. I was supposed to buy a pass and go too, but I never had my wallet with me when I was at the computer, and by the time I finally got around to it, the event was sold out. I was bummed. But at least the good news is that, as I mentioned before, I have a final project (and a final exam) tomorrow. I’m pretty sure I would fail both if I were going to see Martha too.

Here are today’s pictures:

The girls woke up and wanted to build a nest for themselves in their princess tent. They had a blast.

The girls woke up and wanted to build a nest for themselves in their princess tent. They had a blast.

I told Mary to say "Hi Mommy!" She opens her mouth pretty wide when she says "hi".

I told Mary to say “Hi Mommy!” She opens her mouth pretty wide when she says “hi”.

The girls were really affectionate with each other this morning.

The girls were really affectionate with each other this morning.

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Oops! (A tumble.)

Oops! (A tumble.)

We have gotten our money's worth out of this dress. Lydia wears it at every opportunity.

We have gotten our money’s worth out of this dress. Lydia wears it at every opportunity.

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Mary makes life pretty easy for everyone by putting herself in voluntary time-outs so she can have her binkies. She's only allowed to have them in her pack-n-play, so she spends a lot of time like this.

Mary makes life pretty easy for everyone by putting herself in voluntary time-outs so she can have her binkies. She’s only allowed to have them in her pack-n-play, so she spends a lot of time like this.

Also, I’m linking to my favorite Christian song of late. It’s called “Build Your Kingdom Here,” and this is what got me on the Christian rock kick.

4th Anniversary!

I am getting lazy! Just posting pictures due to the fact that I am sick and it is past midnight.

It's our anniversary today! Bob, the Anniversary Elf, always leaves us flowers and a letter. He chose my favorite flowers this time--peonies!!

It’s our anniversary today! Bob, the Anniversary Elf, always leaves us flowers and a letter. He chose my favorite flowers this time–peonies!!

Lydia had a really weepy day today. At one point, she refused to stand up. Mary went over and kneeled by her. She peered at Lydia's face really closely and then reached for Lydia's hand. She then stood up and tried to pull Lydia up! Lydia was immediately cheered and got up using Mary's help. I couldn't get that on camera, but I took this right afterward.

Lydia had a really weepy day today. At one point, she refused to stand up. Mary went over and kneeled by her. She peered at Lydia’s face really closely and then reached for Lydia’s hand. She then stood up and tried to pull Lydia up! Lydia was immediately cheered and got up using Mary’s help. I couldn’t get that on camera, but I took this right afterward.

I took Lydia outside to ride her bike while Mary napped.

I took Lydia outside to ride her bike while Mary napped.

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Everything is lush now! Summer feels like it has arrived.

Everything is lush now! Summer feels like it has arrived.

Ron, our land lord, gave me these roses from the garden yesterday. He is such a sweetie.

Ron, our land lord, gave me these roses from the garden yesterday. He is such a sweetie.

Coconut sherry slush. (I had cooking school tonight--tonight was Jamaican themed).

Coconut sherry slush. (I had cooking school tonight–tonight was Jamaican themed).

Rice and beans with three really complicated recipes. They were the best rice and beans I've ever had, but still-rice and beans! Waaaay too much work for just that.

Rice and beans with three really complicated recipes. They were the best rice and beans I’ve ever had, but still-rice and beans! Waaaay too much work for just that.

I made these! They are fish fritters made with salt cod.

I made these! They are fish fritters made with salt cod.

I also made that nasty polenta/okra cake. Yuck! But  I didn't know a creative way around a recipe that called for you to mix okra into polenta. At least they didn't make us try to incorporate okra into a cupcake!

I also made that nasty polenta/okra cake. Yuck! But I didn’t know a creative way around a recipe that called for you to mix okra into polenta. At least they didn’t make us try to incorporate okra into a cupcake!

Abe took this while I was at school. We have a new rule now that we are home: Mary can have her binkies whenever she's in her pack 'n play, but no other time. Today she crawled into her pack 'n play at 11am and had zero desire to leave until well past 3 pm. She gets 2 binkies in her pack 'n play, and she seems to enjoy them both.

Abe took this while I was at school. We have a new rule now that we are home: Mary can have her binkies whenever she’s in her pack ‘n play, but no other time. Today she crawled into her pack ‘n play at 11am and had zero desire to leave until well past 3 pm. She gets 2 binkies in her pack ‘n play, and she seems to enjoy them both.

Good people

Abe is already in bed, so this will be quick.

The most notable things about today were 1) Ina came over and watched the girls so I could do whatever I wanted for three hours. Ina is a saint. She is a woman in our ward who loves my children, and she’s been telling me for years she will babysit for free. I never want to impose, but I have been rather desperate to get to the temple, so finally I asked for her help. When she got here, I realized I’d misplaced my recommend, so I went swimming and grocery shopping instead. Ina is such a huge blessing. Abe and I have been fretting about getting to the temple more, and she was so genuine in her offer to watch the girls whenever we want that I think we will avail ourselves of her sweet help in the future. I am so touched by how much she loves my children, and I am impressed by her giving heart. I could tell she honestly just enjoyed serving, and I hope to be more like her when I grow up!

2) We had dinner with Jill, Ty, their four kids, Katie, Pat, and their three kids. Jill texted me this morning about getting together, but I have school on the other free night she suggested, so we just did it tonight. It was so fun. We forgot to take pictures, but when Abe went upstairs to gather the children, I asked him to take a quick picture first.

IMG_7361Also, I watched a Youtube video and decided to try a new hairstyle on Lydia:

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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:

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Packed

I am at the climax of my book, The Family, by David Laskin, and I really want to get back to it. So here’s the run-down of today:

We started off by crafting all morning with Jen and her kids. I had a lot of fun chatting with Jen and making another Spring decoration, and Lydia loved wearing Natalie’s princess attire. Mary loved playing with Jen’s baby-proof iPad. We were going to go to Institute, but we missed it because paint takes a bit of time to dry.

Then we came home for lunch and naps. I spent the first hour and a half of quiet time devouring my book, and then I headed downstairs to clean and cook. Also, the piano tuner came today! I switched to a new tuner, and he did an amazing job. I loved chatting with our old piano tuner. He’d tell me stories and tear up quite regularly. He was a lovely, sweet older gentleman, but I wasn’t totally convinced that he was completely competent at tuning the piano. This new guy is amazing, and even though we didn’t sit around for hours chatting and crying (a la our old tuner, Doug,) he absolutely fixed the piano. I’m excited to practice tomorrow.

Then Jen came over for dinner with Natalie. One of her twins got really sick right before they were supposed to come over, so the boys stayed home with Eldon, but we had a ton of fun with Jen and Natalie. Jen regaled us with tales about the Samoan physique (Eldon is Samoan), and Abe and I came to the conclusion that she married a super hero. After one day of weight-lifting, her husband gets bruises on his back because the muscle has already grown that fast! She told us other stories that had our jaws dropping. I guess I never really thought much about the Samoan build before, but I am duly impressed by now.

Lydia told us that she spent the evening tumbling and climbing and giggling with Natalie, but she fell off a chair right at the end and had a little sad moment. We played a bit on the stairs, and I think she ended the evening feeling pretty good.

Abe had a great day at work, but he’s a little overwhelmed with his new job duties. This is his first week in his new position, and there is a ton of information to absorb. Qualtrics has a “clinic”; really just a red psychiatrist’s couch set up by the tech experts. Whenever the salesmen have technical questions with clients on the phone, they go sit on the red couch and get help. Abe visited the clinic several times today.

Right now he’s on a run past down town to retrieve our car from the auto shop. It’s been ready all week, but we never have time to go get it together. So tonight he just decided to run on foot and get it. Oh! There he is! I have to end if I want time to read my book.

Here are some pictures I took of Mary after she woke up. We played for a long time after she woke up from her nap because she was in a great mood. I tried to capture her fun on camera but failed miserably. She loved emptying her pack ‘n’ play of all contents and I kept putting her stuff back in to keep her going. We also played a lot with her binky. She’s only allowed to have it at nap time, and she thinks it is hilarious fun when I put her binky in my mouth.  I put in two at a time and then blew them over her crib, and she about died laughing. I have a video somewhere of Abe playing that game with Lydia to the same effect.

Anyway, here are the pictures, such as they are. Mary was a lot cuter in person.

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Another preschool tour–and the sun!

Yay for the sun! It’s back, it’s beautiful, and it felt gooooood today. After touring another preschool this morning, we went to play group at a nearby park.

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Lydia kept claiming she couldn't climb up this hill and would fall down every two steps. Mary kindly went down to help her up.

Lydia kept claiming she couldn’t climb up this hill and would fall down every two steps. Mary kindly went down to help her up (my interpretation. Lydia said Mary came over to hit her…).

Then we came home and I fed the girls lunch. Then I cooked, cleaned and gave Lydia a piano lesson.

Then Lydia took a nap. When she wakes up from naps at home, she usually is a little…touchy. So I baked chocolate chip cookies while she was asleep, and as soon as she started to wail, I told her there were cookies downstairs for her.

She's had a "winky" eye since she was born. That means, when she takes a big bite of something, her right eye flies wide open. It's pretty cute.

She’s had a “winky” eye (at least, that’s what I call it) since she was born. That means when she takes a big bite of something, her right eye flies wide open. It’s pretty cute.

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After Abe came home, we had dinner and FHE. I mainly sat on the couch in a tired stupor, but Abe taught the girls about Moses, and they drew pictures of Moses parting the Red Sea.

fhe feb 2 fhe feb

 

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.

dinosaurs, Dead Sea Scrolls, and dinner delayed

This morning I took the girls to the dinosaur play area at City Creek. I told the girls I would bring them yesterday because Misty’s play group was meeting there, but then I started feeling tired and slightly sick that I had to renege on my promise. They had fun today, though.

dinosaurs 2 dinosaurs 1Then I took them to church and dropped Lydia off at nursery while Mary and I attended a lecture from a BYU professor/Dead Sea Scroll scholar on the Dead Sea Scrolls. I was a little late, but what I heard was fantastic. This wasn’t his most important or emphasized point, but he did point out that a lot of Book of Mormon names which were completely unfamiliar to Joseph Smith and everyone else at the time of the translation of the Book of Mormon (some of which had been used by anti-Mormons to prove the Church was not true) show up in the Dead Sea Scrolls. For example, critics used to say that Alma, the Book of Mormon prophet, had the name of a South American woman; when the Dead Sea Scrolls were interpreted, Alma comes up as the name of a Hebrew prince.

The professor said he was going to give a lecture at 4pm today on the historicity of Job. Every part of me was DYING to drive to Provo and sit in on his lecture–to which he invited all of us–but, alas, that was not practical. So instead, we headed home, ate lunch, took long naps, and cooked food. Specifically, I spent two hours doing simple standard breading and baking to three eggplants. I streamlined the process as much as I could, and yet two full hours later, there I was, still dealing with the eggplant. Perhaps the fact that I was also feeding children had something to do with that, but still. It was ridiculous. I didn’t even make the rest of the dish; instead I told Abe to fend for himself for dinner and plan on having eggplant Parmesan tomorrow.

After dinner, I got my first real burst of energy of the whole day (it happened none too early at 8 pm) and cleaned the downstairs for the arrival of my home teacher from Chicago, Brother Richardson. He is flying in for Roots Tech, which starts tomorrow. While I was cleaning away, Abe was upstairs bathing and playing with the girls. Here is a picture he took:

Mary loves, loves, loves to brush her teeth...and tongue.

Mary loves, loves, loves to brush her teeth…and tongue.

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.