Food poisoning and Christmas tree

I got a touch of food poisoning yesterday evening, so I was out of commission until 1 pm today. When I finally gathered enough strength to get up, it was pretty slow moving until the evening. A huge shout out to Abe, who basically did everything all day long so I could recover. I love that man so much.

This evening we decided to go get our Christmas tree and decorate the house for Christmas. Up until now, I have been dreading this event; it’s so much unpacking, and we still have more boxes left to unpack for our every day stuff! I also loved the clean feeling of the new home, and I was scared the Christmas stuff would clutter it up.

However, after having selected a tree, putting it up, and decorating until midnight, I can honestly say that I love the feeling of having the Christmas decorations up. The house feels so cozy and festive, and for the first time this season, I feel in spirit.

I’ll take more pictures tomorrow. Toward the end, I was just racing to finish because of the late hour. This is what I have:

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We tried three tree lots today. This was taken in tree lot #1. After that lot didn't work out, I skipped taking pictures with my camera and just focused on the task at hand.

We tried three tree lots today. This was taken in tree lot #1. After that lot didn’t work out, I skipped taking pictures with my camera and just focused on the task at hand.

We had Lydia put the star on before the tree was decorated. We were just so excited to have an official tree topper for the first time since we got married--we couldn't wait to get it on!

We had Lydia put the star on before the tree was decorated. We were just so excited to have an official tree topper for the first time since we got married–we couldn’t wait to get it on!

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Sabbath rest

Today was our last day in our ward. After church, we hung around the house and just rested from all of the packing commotion from yesterday. We watched some scripture videos, read some books, ate some Trader Joe’s food (our fare until post move because my kitchen is PACKED), and napped.

Abe snapped a picture for the blog.

IMG_0299Also, I found two new death records for my family history today! One if for my paternal grandmother, and the other is for my paternal great-grandfather. It was very exciting!

appliance shopping (i.e., toddler temper tantrum displays galore!)

I forgot to take pictures today! Nothing of note happened, though. I did buy a new washer and dryer for the new house, but I couldn’t have taken any pictures on that outing. Mary was a screaming, crying mess because her nap time was approaching, and I honestly started to wonder if Lydia was possessed. The last couple times I have tried to do anything except shop for groceries or check out books in public, the girls go bananas and lose it. It got to the point where they were tearing Christmas ornaments off of trees–and breaking them. I felt incompetent, and in response, we went home and had nap time/quiet time for the rest of the day. I REM’ed slept so much that it’s 1 am and I’m fresh as a daisy.

Well, not really. Guess I better go to bed. Oh! Cooking school was fun, but for the last couple classes I have had to redo at least one, if not two dishes because I’m careless or impatient. Tonight I had to do my pastry cream twice, and since there wasn’t enough time to redo my pate choux, I’m redoing that first thing tomorrow.

Also, Abe got home! Yay! He had a really successful trip, and I’m really glad he’s back.

Sorry, one more P.P.S. in this disjointed post: I went to the dermatologist today. He confirmed that I had a bad outbreak of eczema because I’ve lost so much pigmentation in my arms. I basically have white polka-dot skin right now — I’m a walking, talking, Minnie Mouse dress! But in all seriousness, it was a good visit. He was very reassuring and I feel like I’ve learned a lot from this whole experience.

Now I’m going to bed and think about all the plants I want to plant in my new yard. That’s my favorite daydream–maybe tonight, those thoughts will replace the horrible nightmares I had during my REM nap!

packing day

Considering Abe was gone, today was a really great day. I don’t know what it is, but I think I am more productive when I have to take care of everything myself. Either that, or I cook more when Abe is home, so I get fewer other tasks accomplished.

Anyway, today I had a lot of fun hanging out with the girls, doing errands, folding loads of laundry and packing a ton of boxes. I figured I would have a lot of time to watch a movie with the girls at the end of the day, but everything just flew by so fast I didn’t get to. In my book, that makes a good day.

Here are some pictures:

Lydia helped me pack!

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And the girls had a dance party while I packed (and paused to take pictures):

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Blast from the past

Abe left for D.C. today, and having him gone brought back all the memories I have from his last job. I had completely forgotten what it was like staring down an evening alone in the house with the kids, but to my delight, what happened tonight is nothing like the monotony I recall from being alone during Abe’s Guardsmark trips.

The girls and I cuddled up on the couch and binge watched The Living Scriptures videos, I fed them dinner at 3:30 pm  (much more in sync with their actual hunger cycle, but normally I have to time their meals so we can have a family dinner with Abe), played with them, read to them, showered, got everyone ready for bed, read scriptures with them, prayed–and voila! 8 pm bedtime happened for the first time in six months. Daylight savings helped, but still. It felt great to be back on track.

Then I updated my family tree with some information I got from the Philippine Jesuits and watched this video about a million times. I discovered it a couple days ago and can’t stop watching it. My heart feels so full and achy each time I watch. I guess Chicago will always feel like my authentic home, even though I am genuinely happy to have adopted Utah for the–indefinite–future.

Here are the pictures from today.

playing with/in the suitcases you gave them, Grandma. On a recent play date one of Mary's friends played with this suitcase and Mary freaked out and started crying, pointing to the suitcase and saying, "Gamma Cuwen! Gamma Cuwen!" (Translation: "Grandma Cullen gave ME that!")

playing with/in the suitcases you gave them, Grandma. On a recent play date one of Mary’s friends played with this suitcase and Mary freaked out and started crying, pointed to the suitcase and shouted, “Gamma Cuwen! Gamma Cuwen!” (Translation: “Grandma Cullen gave ME that!”)

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performing the trick she was trying to show you on the phone, Mom.

performing the trick she was trying to show you on the phone, Mom.

A disgruntled call and house pictures

After I visit taught this morning, we headed down to spend the whole day in Orem. I visited preschools, and by the time our preschool hunt was over, the girls were hungry. Enter The Worst Drive-Thru Experience of All Time. And we eat a lot of fast food, so I think that statement has value. As I pulled up to pay, I noticed a sign with a number to call if you have comments about your customer experience. Boy, did I!

Sadly, just as I dialed, another call came through to my phone, so the call was lost. No matter, I thought. I just searched “recent calls” and called the most recent number. A very cheerful voice answered, and I proceeded to rant for the next five minutes about my experience. After I reviewed each complaint a second time to make sure the customer representative was taking notes, the voice on the other end said, “Um, Lily? This is Chelsea. Are you trying to call customer service?”

Chelsea! I had called one of my favorite friends instead of customer service, and she had patiently listened to me itemize my complaints in an aggravated manner twice before I stopped talking long enough for her to clarify my mistake. Oops! I am taking this as a sign from God that I complain too much. When my dad died, he left behind STACKS of complaint letters to businesses, hotels, municipalities–you name it! If it serviced customers, he had complaints to write! I think I might have inherited this tendency. Today’s experience tells me that I might need to reign it in a little.

Anyway, I proceeded to head to Chelsea’s house for a play date. After that, we kidnapped Olivia and took her to our new house during the tail end of the home inspection. After that, we headed back to Chelsea’s for a deeeee-licious dinner of calzones, salad and fruit.

I snapped a million pictures because the listing is now off of real estate sites. Mom and Grandma, I realizes as I uploaded these that I totally forgot to take a picture of the kitchen, but it’s right next to the dining room. Oops! Enjoy anyway, and next time we go I’ll take a picture. I also forgot to take one of the basement bathroom.

basement room in front of the bathroom. We'll put the treadmill here.

basement room in front of the bathroom. We’ll put the treadmill here.

basement room #1. Guest room?

basement room #1. Guest room?

The inspector, Chase and Abe standing in the furnace room. Cute Olivia is in the foreground.

The inspector, Chase and Abe standing in the furnace room. Cute Olivia is in the foreground.

Basement storage closet.

Basement storage closet.

Basement room #2. Office?

Basement room #2. Office?

basement family room with kids play area behind.

basement family room with kids play area behind.

Half of the kids' basement play area.

Half of the kids’ basement play area.

Other half of the basement play room.

Other half of the basement play room.

basement stairs.

basement stairs.

First floor bathroom.

First floor bathroom.

laundry space in mudroom.

laundry space in mudroom.

Mudroom entrance.

Mudroom entrance.

Upstairs bedroom #1. Mom's office.

Upstairs bedroom #1. Mom’s office.

Mom's office's closet.

Mom’s office’s closet.

view from Mom's office.

view from Mom’s office.

Entrance to girls' room.

Entrance to girls’ room.

Girls' room.

Girls’ room.

Girls' room.

Girls’ room.

Mom's bedroom.

Mom’s bedroom.

Mom's bedroom.

Mom’s bedroom.

view from mom's bedroom.

view from mom’s bedroom.

Nursery.

Nursery.

Nursery closet.

Nursery closet.

Upstairs hall closet #1.

Upstairs hall closet #1.

Upstairs bathroom.

Upstairs bathroom.

upstairs hall closet #2.

upstairs hall closet #2.

master bedroom.

master bedroom.

walk-in closet adjacent to master bedroom.

walk-in closet adjacent to master bedroom.

master bath.

master bath.

view from master.

view from master.

kitchen space for fridge.

kitchen space for fridge.

pantry.

pantry.

living/dining.

living/dining.

living/dining room.

living/dining room.

living/dining room.

living/dining room.

piano room.

piano room.

on back deck.

on back deck.

back of house from basketball court.

back of house from basketball court.

looking other way on basketball court.

looking other way on basketball court.

front of house.

front of house.

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our cute mailbox.
looking across the cul-de-sac.

looking across the cul-de-sac.

view from front yard.

view from front yard.

Sewing costumes, more whining, and sequiny pictures

Today was non stop. Abe ran to clean the church while I bathed the girls, made popovers, blew dry Lydia’s hair (a must with her new hairstyle, so said her stylist), and got everyone dressed.

I don't know why every mom in America doesn't make these. They take approximately the same amount of time as instant oatmeal to mix together, they're portable, and they don't make a crumbly mess!

I don’t know why these aren’t at least as normal as pancakes at the American breakfast table. They take approximately the same amount of time as instant oatmeal to mix together, they’re portable, and they don’t make a crumbly mess!

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After I shooed them out the door to Lydia’s dance class, I read scriptures and looked up witch costumes online.

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Then I hurried to the Primary program practice, during which I really struggled to feel like I was contributing.

Honestly, I’ve traced this eczema back and really feel like it was a stress reaction to my calling. I have never had eczema before, and I remember when I got the calling feeling like I was having an allergic reaction. Then all of the sudden: eczema! (without me knowing what it was). Yuck. I daydream every day about asking to be released, and then I feel guilty and decide to keep doing my duty. I heard a talk the other day about the different reasons why we serve (in order worst to best): to show off, duty, hope of eternal reward, and love of God. I do love God, but I am having trouble connecting serving in my calling to that love. I’ll think to myself, “Think of all Jesus did and does for you! This is NOTHING in comparison! Just serve out of gratitude!” and when that doesn’t work, “It could be worse! Think about all the other callings that you would hate even more!” ..but somehow I just can’t get my heart right. Sorry, God! You’ll have to fix up my heart since I just can’t seem to get it in the right place by myself. I’ll give You more time.

Then I picked up Lydia, took her to the Farmer’s market, the fabric store, and Trader Joe’s. After that, I came home and whipped out two little, very poor quality witch costumes. But the girls love them, and you can only see my sewing mistakes if you stand within a foot–or five–of the girls. Anyway, Grandma, what do you think? The girls are going to wear these for the Wee Witches night at Gardner Village this weekend.

I made the necklines waaaay too big on both capes, but I think I can fix it with a safety pin. Also, the skirts are ridiculously unprofessional, but from a (long) distance, you can't tell, right?

I made the necklines waaaay too big on both capes, but I think I can fix it with a safety pin. Also, the skirts are ridiculously unprofessional, but from a (long) distance, you can’t tell, right?

IMG_9657 IMG_9663 IMG_9664Then we went to the library, the park, and two more grocery stores before heading home for dinner.

Outside of the library doing "tricks."

Outside of the library doing “tricks.”

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Some random stranger came up to Abe at the park and raved about Mary's hair. I was in the car reading some cookbooks I'd just checked out from the library, but when Abe came back and told me, I felt so happy! Shallow, I know, but I cut her hair and have felt guilty ever since, especially since my hair cutting skills (HA!) are...searching  for the right word...nonexistent. But yay! Someone likes the cut!!

Some random stranger came up to Abe at the park and raved about Mary’s hair. I was in the car reading some cookbooks I’d just checked out from the library, but when Abe came back and told me, I felt so happy! Shallow, I know, but I cut her hair and have felt guilty ever since, especially since my hair cutting skills (HA!) are…searching for the right word…nonexistent. But yay! Someone likes the cut!!

Mental health day

I was exhausted, lazy, and itchy all morning, so I stayed in bed until 3 pm. I did rouse myself to feed the children, shower, and blow dry my hair (to kill lice), but after the exertion, I retreated right back to bed.

At 3 pm, though, the poor kids were dying for an outing, and it happened to be a gorgeous day. So we piled in the van and drove to Gardner Village to see the witches. It was so fun that we went to pick Abe up at the nearby train station and headed back to Gardner Village–only to discover tonight was Witches’ Night Out! That meant that literally hundreds of women attired in full witch regalia descended on Gardner Village to shop, party, and parade.

It was soooooo fun! I have a new goal in life: To acquire my own witch costume. I want to be a witch next year at the event. But considering how elaborate most of the witches were, I will have to wait a bit before I can achieve this new life dream. I mean, there was one witch who had a remote controlled giant spider attached as part of her costume! Others had stuffed owls, staffs with crystal balls, and the most elaborate, fascinating hats I’ve ever seen. I want a hat.

Here are the pictures from the active part of our day. Before that, the girls and I were all cuddled up in beds absorbed in our iPads or eating. If I didn’t hate crumbs in the bed so much, we would have knocked out both activities simultaneously… Anyway:

A witch flying on her bicycle!

A witch flying on her bicycle!

A gardening witch

A gardening witch

A witch with a cat chasing a rat under her skirt.

A witch with a cat chasing a rat under her skirt.

Witches playing baseball.

Witches playing baseball.

Looking at the witches playing baseball.

Looking at the witches playing baseball.

A witch going potty!

A witch going potty!

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Taffy break.

Taffy break.

"Mom, it's a beautiful day today. It's a great day to sit here and rest." --Lydia, as she sat on this chair eating her taffy.

“Mom, it’s a beautiful day today. It’s a great day to sit here and rest.” –Lydia, as she sat on this chair eating her taffy.

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Lydia got her face painted!

Lydia got her face painted!

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Abe joined us. You can see the beginning of the witch gathering in the background.

Abe joined us. You can see the beginning of the witch gathering in the background.

Witches dancing!

Witches dancing!

Abe dancing with the girls in the middle of the witches.

Abe dancing with the girls in the middle of the witches.

I tried to catch some of the parade, but I also had to prevent Mary from killing herself. (She wanted to climb on top of the bench I was standing on and capitulate off the back. It was a twenty minute struggle, after which we decided to call it a night and head home.)

I tried to catch some of the parade, but I also had to prevent Mary from killing herself. (She wanted to climb on top of the bench I was standing on and capitulate off the back. It was a twenty minute struggle, after which we decided to call it a night and head home.)

A video!

As I blog, Abe is kindly picking through each strand of my hair for nits again. Thank-you, my wonderful husband. I love you.

We just stayed home all day. I’m pretty tired from the lice situation. Mary was lice-free until she napped, and then she woke up with a bite on her neck and some nits around her ear. My heart dropped when I saw that.

Other than that, I spent the whole day cooking, reading to the girls, and cleaning.

Here are the pictures!

Lydia and I tried to turn challah into brioche today. I should have just googled a brioche recipe; the challah didn't convert that well.

Lydia and I tried to turn challah into brioche today. I should have just googled a brioche recipe; the challah didn’t convert that well.

After being trapped inside all day, Mary really wanted to go outside and read books. After all she's been through, I happily aquiesced.

After being trapped inside all day, Mary really wanted to go outside and read books. After all she’s been through, I happily aquiesced.

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We had pot pies in pumpkins tonight. Mary thought it was novel.

We had pot pies in pumpkins tonight. Mary thought it was novel.

After dinner, the girls sang a song before FHE. Lydia made up the words and Mary was her chorus.

After dinner, the girls sang a song before FHE. Lydia made up the words and Mary was her chorus.

We got part of the song on video! You can see it here.

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We had a FHE lesson on reverence. Abe had the girls play a game like Stop and Go! wherein the girls danced and acted crazy when Abe called out, "Crazy!", and they knelt and acted reverent when he said, "Reverent!". This is them kneeling.

We had a FHE lesson on reverence. Abe had the girls play a game like Stop and Go! wherein the girls danced and acted crazy when Abe called out, “Crazy!”, and they knelt and acted reverent when he said, “Reverent!”. This is them kneeling.

Crazy!

Crazy!

Crazy again!

Crazy again!

Lice crazy and Too Much Information (after the pics)

Did I neglect to mention in my last post that after we thought Mary was the only person with lice, Abe discovered a ton of nits in my hair Friday night? Yeah, I thought so. Between that time and now, my hair has undergone: RID (scary, ineffective pesticide treatment), multiple sessions of nit comb-throughs, LiceFree! Spray, three blow-dry treatments (so hot and long that I thought my scalp would burn off), two tea-tree oil shampoo washes, a priesthood blessing, and right now: I have soaked 1/4 cup of pure tea tree oil into my scalp. Tome gave me an 8 ounce bottle, bless his heart. Oh, and I’ve laundered my sheets every day since Thursday.

From Amazon, arriving soon are these three exciting products: A Robi comb (a battery charged comb that zaps lice with electricity so that they die on contact), a Terminator comb (best lice comb on the market!), and a giant VAT of tea-tree oil shampoo.

All of last night’s dreams revolved around picking lice off of my head. Do I sound crazy and obsessed? That’s about how I feel. Poor Abe just wants a break, but every time we have a spare moment, I hand him a comb and order him to get to work on my hair. While he does that I pore over the Amazon reviews of different lice products and read them like it’s therapy. Most people write their terrifying lice stories into their review and send words of encouragement and support to the review reader. The reviews make me feel like I have a global support group.

When I am not actively combating lice, I perform tasks in a distracted state and have several times thought I might be losing my mind. Case in point: Yesterday, after forgetting a bag of groceries at the store, I went out and climbed back into the passenger seat of the car and sat there for a minute before I realized the car wasn’t going to drive itself back to the store.

Okay, enough about lice (even though, honestly, that’s basically all I think about). Today was General Conference! A welcome, uplifting, four hour distraction. One of my favorite talks was Elder Holland’s about caring for the poor. I also liked Elder Bednar’s talk on missionary work. He pointed out that the reason we do missionary work is because we have felt that power of the atonement in our own lives and desire the same blessing for others. That’s kind of how I feel about LiceFree! Spray and tea tree oil–I want to share the info with EVERYONE so no one else has to go through the panic and icky pesticides I used before figuring out which products worked. Oops! I wasn’t going to write more about lice…

I’ll just cut to the pictures:

Lydia and I made this plum cake today. I needed a pick-me-up. I should have taken a picture...but guess what? I have enough plums to make it again tomorrow, so maybe I'll just do that since this one disappeared.

Lydia and I made this plum cake today. I needed a pick-me-up. I should have taken a picture…but guess what? I have enough plums to make it again tomorrow, so maybe I’ll just do that since this one disappeared. Also, doesn’t my hair look like a perfect home for lice? I would chop it all off, but no salon can legally do that for me until this ordeal is over, at which point I will probably reconsider.

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I discovered Mary reading Each Peach, Pear, Plum while the plum cake was baking.

I discovered Mary reading Each Peach, Pear, Plum while the plum cake was baking.

Abe must have taken this one.

Abe must have taken this one.

Tom and Suzanne came over for dinner. Tom gave Abe a blessing afterwards.

Tom and Suzanne came over for dinner. Tom gave Abe a blessing afterwards.

Tom reading to the girls.

Tom reading to the girls.

I love the mountains in the background. Of course, I also find the little girl in the foreground quite endearing as well.

I love the mountains in the background. Of course, I also find the little girl in the foreground quite endearing as well.

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Also, here’s a daily dose of Too Much Information: After I spent all that time in the hospital with my friend Andrea, who had to deliver her stillborn daughter, I decided I wanted to get pregnant again. Maybe it’s because I wanted the baby to be alive, or maybe it’s because I love spending time in Labor and Delivery (really, I love that floor of the hospital), but I emerged from that experience wanting, for the first time in two years, to be pregnant again. Didn’t happen the first month (which was really about two weeks before my period came), and now I have soaked my hair twice in pesticides, so I think I’ll give my body another couple months to get these chemicals out of its system before trying again. Sad.

On the upside, I have a couple classes left on my Bikram yoga pass, so I can at least use those up now! (I can’t while trying to get pregnant because the heat isn’t good for in-utero babies).