Recovery

No 911 calls this morning, and it was a peaceful follow-up to yesterday’s stress. I still feel silly about being so quick to call 911, but I keep telling myself better safe than sorry.

Isabella came over and watched the girls while I worked out and then swam. When I came home, we went to the library for new books. The girls collected prizes for the summer reading program, and then we came home for naps and quiet time. Lydia actually napped today!

She woke up when Sophia, Max and Misty came over for a play date. Waking up from naps is a delicate process for Lydia…but having Sophia over to play with made her transition much easier. They love playing together, and I love talking to Misty, so a play date with Misty and her kids is just optimal for everyone.

IMG_8877 IMG_8876

After the play date, Mary wanted a turn in the dress.

After the play date, Mary wanted a turn in the dress.

 

Here's how Lydia felt about that.

Here’s how Lydia felt about that.

 

Mary decided the dress was too cumbersome. The two reconciled.

Mary decided the dress was too cumbersome. The two reconciled.

 

Mary calling Nana and Grandma on the phone.

Mary calling Nana and Grandma on the phone.

 

After our play date, I scrambled to make dinner. Abe insisted on taking a picture.

IMG_8893

It seems that ever since starting cooking school, I’ve been too busy to cook at home. Abe was wowed by a salad. I felt remorseful that expectations have sunk so low that a salad elicited such effusive praise. Well, compared to mac ‘n cheese or spaghetti with bottled sauce (the usual, it would seem), I guess this was a step up. Sigh.

Then I went to my Primary meeting. I was just starting to warm up to the calling–I loved the cub scout car wash, and I really enjoyed attending Primary on Sunday…but the meetings. I struggle. I hope/pray that with time I can learn to enjoy them more AND contribute more. Tonight I contributed nothing. At one point, I looked at the clock and let out an exasperated sigh without even realizing what I was doing, and afterward I was soooooooo embarrassed. Yikes!

I came home to discover Abe and the girls Skyping with my mom and getting ready for FHE.

Skyping with Nana.

Skyping with Nana.

Lydia did a fashion show at the beginning of FHE. Mary is crying because she wants to participate. I forget why she couldn't.

Lydia did a fashion show at the beginning of FHE. Mary is crying because she wants to participate. I forget why she couldn’t.

Abe taught a lesson about Moroni building walls to protect his people.

Abe taught a lesson about Moroni building walls to protect his people.

Lydia was riveted by the story of Amalikiah. She named her post-FHE popsicle "Amalikiah" and wanted us to tell her over and over again why Amalikiah was so mean.

Lydia was riveted by the story of Amalikiah. She named her post-FHE popsicle “Amalikiah” and wanted us to tell her over and over again why Amalikiah was so mean.

We can build our own strong walls with prayer, reading scriptures, and going to the temple. Here's Abe teaching Mary about prayer.

We can build our own strong walls with prayer, reading scriptures, and going to the temple. Here’s Abe teaching Mary about prayer.

And finally, some pictures Abe took while I was at my meeting:

jul29 jul29pic1

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.

IMG_8471 IMG_8475 IMG_8476

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.

IMG_8480 IMG_8487

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).

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!

A play date, great book, boring paper, and a birthday party

This morning I watched Sophia and Max because Misty had a doctor’s appointment. Her kids are so easy that I could have done homework or practiced while they played (well, Max was actually napping), but Lydia and Sophia were beyond adorable playing together. I couldn’t leave! They were saying things such as: “It’s your turn, Sophia!” “Thanks, Lydia. Okay, Lydia, it’s your turn now!” “Thanks, Sophia!” “Sophia, do you want to play Minnie Mouse with me?” “Yes!” [Insert sweet, polite, kind play here.] “Okay, Sophia, do you want to sit next to me?” “Yes! Thanks!”

This is what I had kids for. I was so delighted by how sweet and polite these adorable children were, and I was so happy to hear them play so beautifully that I just couldn’t tear myself away. By the time Misty came back, I was over the moon in love with all of our children.

IMG_7502 IMG_7498 IMG_7501Then I fed the girls, practiced for an hour while Lydia and Mary played, and put Mary down for her four hour nap. Lydia had quiet time that whole time, so I lay in bed reading Crossing to Safety. In fact, I could have written this blog a whole lot earlier and gotten to bed on time if it weren’t for the fact that those characters are so dear to me that I talked Abe’s ear off about the book for about an hour after the girls went down for bed. I still have a lump in my throat–as I type, hours after finishing the book. I have never read a book where I loved the characters so deeply. Also, I am sad the library is closed. I want to go check out everything Wallace Stegner has ever written and read it all right now. I’m so sad my book is done! I just want more time with the characters, but since it’s done, the next best thing I can do is read all the rest of his works.

After finishing my book, I skipped class so I could get a paper written before we go to California. I still have more homework to do tomorrow, but at least this paper is out of the way. It was on the history of Garde Manger, and even though I finished writing the paper, I still am not sure if the term Garde Manger refers to the actual Garde Manger chef or the craft of Garde Manger. I kind of side-stepped that in my paper…

Abe took the girls to his cousin’s birthday party down the street while I did homework. Lydia LOVES her cousin, Isabella, and when she got home, she said, “Mama, I want a play date with Isabella right now because I loooooooooove her so much!!” You can see she likes her from the pictures.

Abe's cousin, Alexander, turned 17.

Abe’s cousin, Alexander, turned 17. Also, it took a while to cut that cake. Abe said that Lydia waited patiently and then said very quietly, “Can I have a really big piece, please?” Everyone laughed.

Mary found Isabella's stuffed animal and held it close all evening.

Mary found Isabella’s stuffed animal and held it close all evening.

Lydia and Abe's little cousin, Isabella.

Lydia and Abe’s little cousin, Isabella. They played outside and Isabella picked flowers for Lydia. Lydia could not get enough play time with her favorite cousin!

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….

IMG_7425 IMG_7426 IMG_7427 IMG_7428 IMG_7435

...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:

IMG_7440 IMG_7441 IMG_7443 IMG_7446 IMG_7445 IMG_7447 IMG_7450 IMG_7451 IMG_7454 IMG_7457 IMG_7458 IMG_7462 IMG_7475 IMG_7476

IMG_7478

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!

In Remembrance of Norma Darais

I am not ready for my grandmother to be gone.  It was four days before she passed away that I committed to visiting her every week on my lunch break.  I wish I had known my time was ending to spend time with such a remarkable person.  I know she is on the other side.  I know she watches over me.  But on my side of the veil, I am left to enjoy her through my memories.  These are the things I remember most about my sweet grandmother.

1.  When I was about seven years old, I had a sleep over at her house and she taught me Alma 37:37, “Counsel with the Lord in all thy doing and he will direct thee for good.  Yea, when thou liest down at night, lie down unto the Lord that he may watch over you in your sleep.  And when thou risest in the morning, let thy heart be full of thanks unto him.  And if ye do these things, ye shall be lifted up at the last day.”  I just did that from memory.  It was the first scripture I ever memorized and still I remember it from all those years ago.  I chose it as the scripture on my missionary placard because it has meant so much to me over the years.  I can still visualize my grandmother quoting it with energy.  She would always recite things with enthusiasm and gusto, showing clearly the love she had for the gospel.

2.  Towing the line.  My grandmother was always working.  Making bread, making blankets, cooking meals, sewing, writing poetry, organizing the house, reading newspaper articles, calling loved ones, the list goes on and on and on.  When I think of her raising seven children, and the drive she exhibited, even in her nineties, I marvel at the amount of good she accomplished while on earth.  I never once heard her complain.

3.  Trust.  In almost every conversation I’ve had with grandmother in the past few years, she finds away to mention how she marvels at how when she looks back on her life, she sees how God led her from A to B to C.  She has many amazing stories in her life of times where situations were very dire, but God came through for Her in glorious ways.  She marvels at how good God has been to her and how we can trust Him perfectly to work good in our lives.

4.  Amazing Bread.

Grandmother, it is one thing to live a selfless, active and righteous life, but it is quite another to do it with a smile and joy to the very end.  You inspire me in countless ways and I pray to be man enough to build on your legacy.  I love you.

On to less weightier matters, work is going well.  My general morning routine is that my alarm goes off, I don’t care so I keep sleeping, Lily kicks me, I decide she’s right, as usual, and stumble out of bed.  The amazing thing is that it’s working!  One more benefit to having a loving spouse! (o-k, she doesn’t actually kick me, just persuades and gently pushes.)

Work is going very well.  It is so fast paced that my head is spinning, but I closed my first business last week and so far I feel everything is going as planned.  I love my job.  Everyone on my team is very good.  and I love my team leader.

Lily had a good day with the girls.  She went to lunch with Anique and had a very good time. She also skyped with her great friend Liz Nyden. Also, she is reading the new Amy Chua book and absolutely loving it. Mary was fussy today, but she is teething so it is understandable.  We are letting her use her binkie a little more to help her get through this tough time.

And…….Lily is back in school!  Her class for tonight has a really fancy name that is probably French so she will have to update you on that later.  When I got home I took the girls to Smith’s and got them a treat at the bakery counter.  They were giving out whole cookies which each girl got.  Subsequently neither of them ate much dinner and I felt very guilty for not giving my kids proper nutrition. I think I will have a “no giant cookies before meals” rule from now on….but sometimes, especially when I’m tired……….it’s the best I can do to just cave.

After dinner we stuffed Easter Eggs for Lydia’s Easter Egg hunt tomorrow.  Amazingly, both Lydia and Mary were both very capable of and very focused on stuffing candy into the eggs.  I couldn’t believe how good Mary was at it!  After that, I discovered a new wonderful  bath-time activity where Lydia and Mary through the beach ball to each other.

Pictures!

 

20140407_200807 20140407_203722 20140407_200757

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.

IMG_6827 IMG_6829 IMG_6830 IMG_6831 IMG_6833 IMG_6834

 

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

Wherein Lily learns to distrust a cookbook

We were an hour late to church because Mary slept in a looooong time. I guess all that running around the church gym last night tired her out! It worked out, though, because we got to Skype with Sruthi (Swathi’s sister who lives in Calcutta). It was great to chat with her, and by the time we were done, Mary was just waking up.

I learned today in Sunday School that today marks the one hundred year anniversary of the extinction of the passenger pigeon. I remember a scene from The Pioneers by James Fenimore Cooper wherein one pioneer shoots a canon into a cloud of pigeons…for fun. And now, here we are one hundred years after the passing of the last of those birds. Some stewards of this glorious creation we’ve been.

On that note, we all took deliciously long naps this afternoon. At the end of it, both girls and Abe gave me a back massage. During my massage, I could not imagine heaven being one bit better. Maybe it is? But that was hard to beat.

And then my day came crashing down around this: brown butter icing. Joy of Cooking promises that this is a quick and easy recipe, and it also says not to make this too far in advance. I thought, terrific! A carrot cake with apricot preserves and brown butter icing flecked with orange zest. It sounded so yummy and pretty. And then, this happened:

IMG_6304You can’t see it, but there are grease pools on top of that cake. I was all in a frenzy because we were late and the cake looked like this, and Abe kept telling me it looked fine and we should just take it to the Miners’ as is.

It looked fine?

At that point, my response helped Abe decide to exit the kitchen. I made up some butter cream and smeared it all over this mess, and at that point I got really mad at Joy of Cooking because, thanks to their instructions, the hot brown butter icing melted the buttercream. But there was nothing left to do, so we took the unsightly blob to the Miners, stuck candles in it, sang to Abe, and cut it up. The cake itself tasted great, but the icing tasted only nominally better than it looked. Next time I will be sticking to cream cheese icing and consulting America’s Test Kitchen instead of that sub-par Rombauer publication.

Here are the pictures from the Miners’:

abe birthday family

And one from earlier this morning at church:

mary water fountainMary is growing up! We took away her binky tonight. It is sad and painful, and Lydia claims to remember how hard this was when we did this to her. She told Mary that it would be okay, but Mary doesn’t seem to agree at present.