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!

Veteran’s Day 2014

After preschool and quiet time, we took a trip to the veteran’s section of the Salt Lake Cemetery. We did this last year, and I remember how this activity made me feel more connected and grateful for all the service veterans have given for the country.

Today my heart felt full again as I tried to explain to the girls what it meant to be a veteran and to serve the country. We read the names on as many graves as we could. Actually, Mary gave us lots of opportunities to say names because she would pull flags off of graves and I would say, “Mary! Don’t do that! That’s Thomas Haley’s grave, and he fought in WWI. I’m sure he wants his flag back!” …In this fashion, we got to say a lot of names out loud.

At one point, Mary pulled a balloon off of one man’s grave and I said, “Mary! Someone put that there because they loved Anthony. How sad! Now he doesn’t have his balloon!”

With tears spilling out of the corners of her eyes and her voice wavering, Lydia said, “Mommy, can we go get another balloon so that man can have a bawoon (balloon) on his stone?” My heart was so moved. We headed straight to the car, and as I started to drive to the store to get a replacement balloon, Lydia said (again, with her eyes full of quiet tears and her voice quivering), “Mama, can we say a prayer so that Jesus can help us get the same balloon?” So we said a prayer, got replacement balloons, and returned to the cemetery.

After we replaced the missing balloons, Lydia recited the Pledge of Allegiance among the tombstones. It touched my heart. This day was just full of heart-warming moments.

With replacement balloons.

With replacement balloons.

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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 truly ridiculous amount of delicious bread

My camera battery was charging all day, so the only pictures I have are of the food we made at class tonight. That sums up my day pretty well, since I spent hours on homework and hours in class today. Other than that, I read to the girls and played with Mary a bunch because Lydia passed out on the floor…for three hours.

As you can see, the amount of carbohydrates we produce this semester is entirely unreasonable. We get done plating at 10:30 p.m., at which point we are expected to try and compare everything so we understand the effect of either 1) our mistakes or 2) getting the recipe right. Wish my metabolism luck…

oct16pic4 oct16pic1 oct16pic2 oct16pic3I also took one of my chef doing a demonstration. She is my favorite teacher so far, and I have learned more from this class than any other. I am considering switching into the baking and pastry program because I absolutely LOVE this class, and I haven’t quite felt that way about my culinary classes. We’ll have to see if all the classes are this good, but if they are: Sayonara culinary! Hello baking and pastry!!!

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Festivus for the rest of us

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

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

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

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

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

Here are the pictures!

Making babka.

Making babka.

The messy chocolate part.

The messy chocolate part.

One of the loaves.

One of the loaves.

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

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

Butterfly Wings

I didn’t talk to Lily much today, so I apologize if this blog is a lot about me. First I want to say that I completely adore Mary’s new hairstyle, and well…Mary in general.  Her new hair looks so hip and modern and with a few clips that Lily put in, it still looks very femenine.  Add on to that Mary’s pink nails that Lily painted today and you have one adorable Toddler! (Pictures coming I promise).

Lily’s day included a visit from Ina, who brought over butterfly wings to give to the girls.  Lily’s day overall was very good, but hit a kink of frustration when she was unable to reach me at work to coordinate a babysitting situation.  She called my cell 29 times! I’m sorry honey! Also, the reason I am blogging is because it is Lily’s first day of school for her new Semester.  It is a class about baking and pastries and she said she is very excited.  I’m anxious to hear the report!

As for me, this is the first time in about a month that I feel free from work stress.  It has been very intense and I had some big meetings today that I was nervouse about.  Now with those behind me, and it being the beginning of the quarter, I hope to enjoy a little peace before it gets crazy again. Pictures!

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cooking, skiing, museums, and lots of family history

I was so awake last night that I crawled in bed and talked Abe’s ear off, even though he was already unconscious and couldn’t actually form verbal responses. Then this morning rolled around…and I wished I hadn’t been so talkative last night. Nevertheless, I rolled out of bed and headed to school.

While there, I tried to conquer my fear of frying by making tempura. My fears were realized when I: sliced a knife through one of my finger nails, permanently scarred my arm from bumping a burning hot metal spider, set some towels on fire, and got splattered with hot oil. I swapped in sweet soy sauce for regular and my dipping sauce came out bland (sweet soy sauce doesn’t have the same salt content, fyi), and my tempura was pale and soggy. I was scared of taking the oil temperature, so my oil went from being so hot that the chef lectured me on fireballs that happen when oil that temperature erupts into flames…and so low (because I was appropriately scared out of my mind by that lecture) that my tempura didn’t brown or crisp. Argh. But at least now I’ve tried frying foods, and I know with certainty that I hate it.

Then Abe, Balu, and the girls met me at school so we could go straight to Sundance, where Abe and Balu skied away. Well, actually first we went to Qualtrics so Abe could pick up the ski passes (free at his new job!). I loved seeing his office and how open, friendly, and fun everything felt. It made me happy to think of Abe spending happy, productive time in that positive environment.

THEN we went to Sundance, where we dropped off Abe and Balu.

Abe doesn't have sunglasses, so he borrowed my sparkly ones.

Abe doesn’t have sunglasses, so he borrowed my sparkly ones.

The girls and I then headed to the BYU museum to see the Sacred Gifts exhibit I learned about on Wednesday. We had to go through the exhibit twice at a fast clip because Mary was antsy and didn’t like it when I stopped in front of a painting. Lydia was quiet, although tired and miserable because she had wet her pants right before and we didn’t have any extra pairs on hand. After viewing the exhibit, I made a quick tour of the rest of the museum before getting back into the car and going to Abe’s grandma’s house five minutes away.

We had a terrific visit full of family history stories. Here are some pictures I took to remind me of the stories:

This is Christina, Abe's great grandmother, who immigrated from Greece. In Greece, her father was kidnapped by the Turks for ransom. Her family was well off and paid the ransom, but the kidnappers took the money and killed her father anyway. Her mother died of a broken heart.

This is Christina, Abe’s great grandmother, who immigrated from Greece. In Greece, her father was kidnapped by the Turks for ransom. Her family was well off and paid the ransom, but the kidnappers took the money and killed her father anyway. Her mother died of a broken heart.

This is the husband of Dorothea, Grandma Darais' Swedish grandmother. His brother saved up money for a ticket to America, and he loved his brother so much that he gave the ticket to him and stayed behind to earn another ticket for himself.

This is the husband of Dorothea, Grandma Darais’ Swedish grandmother. His brother saved up money for a ticket to America, and he loved his brother so much that he gave the ticket to him and stayed behind to earn another ticket for himself.

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This is a picture of Abe's grandfather, Alex Darais, with a piece of art he entitled, "The Song has Ended."

This is a picture of Abe’s grandfather, Alex Darais, with a piece of art he entitled, “The Song has Ended.”

The original piece is still in the living room. Alex fashioned a paper canary to sing in "The Song has Ended."

The original piece, which won an award, is still in the living room. Alex fashioned a paper canary to sing in “The Song has Ended.”

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Norma's father made this for her before her third birthday. He died when she was three, and so this is a treasure to her.

Norma’s father made this for her before her third birthday. He died when she was three, and so this is a treasure to her.

A photograph of Alex Darais.

A photograph of Alex Darais.

Alex did not like this family photo, so he had the picture redone.

Alex did not like this family photo, so he had the picture redone.

This was his preferred version. Abe's dad, Tom, is the second to youngest son in the picture.

This was his preferred version. Abe’s dad, Tom, is the second to youngest son in the picture.

A portrait of Alex by Andrea, his daughter (Abe's aunt). Her self portrait is on the left.

A portrait of Alex by Andrea, his daughter (Abe’s aunt). Her self portrait is on the left.

Lydia recited her scriptures (1 Nephi 3:7 and 2 Nephi 2:25) and the first article of faith for Norma. That made both of them happy.

Lydia recited her scriptures (1 Nephi 3:7 and 2 Nephi 2:25) and the first article of faith for Norma. That made both of them happy. (Lydia’s not wearing pants because of her accident in the car. Norma lent her socks for the ride home. They came up to Lydia’s thighs!)

Mary got a kiss.

Mary got a kiss.

The girls hugged each other a lot today.

The girls hugged each other a lot today.

They loved the real cat outside.

They loved the real cat outside.

Playing in Grandma Darais's toys.

Playing in Grandma Darais’s toys.

A happy shot.

A happy shot.

After we picked up Abe and Balu, we all went to the museum again and took turns going in so that all the adults could absorb the exhibit. Abe and I just love how enthusiastic and joyful Balu is–he appreciates everything, from nature to art to food to awesome Qualtrics prize wheels. We were so happy to spend Saturday with him!

Then we ate pizza in our already trashed car and felt sticky, greasy and gross for the car ride home.

Our water heater turned off in our absence, so I have to wait until tomorrow to shower. Since I didn’t have time this morning or yesterday, it’s starting to feel like I’ve been camping…

Food and friends

The first thing I did this morning was run to the kitchen to bake a lemon pound cake. Don’t ask me why; I just woke up and knew I had to get it baked before 9am church, and so 7am found me frantically melting butter and grating lemons so I could get the thing out of the oven before we left for church.

When we got back from church, we all ate leftovers for lunch, and then I rolled up my sleeves and got to work on dinner. Just as I was about to stick the lamb in the oven, Misty called me and invited us over for dinner. How convenient! So I told her I had lamb in the oven and asked if she could come over instead. She agreeably acquiesced, and at 6:30 she, Rich, Sophia and Max brought over a ton of delicious potato leek soup to supplement our lamb and glazed carrots. I also baked my favorite dinner rolls (amended with whole wheat flour), and by the time we were done eating, I was feeling pretty fat full.

Whenever we get together with Rich and Misty, Abe and I spend the next week discussing how they are the salt of the earth and how fortunate we feel to have them in our lives. We replay this discussion over and over to the point where I should just transcribe a script and save ourselves some breath by periodically waving it enthusiastically under Abe’s nose. In a nutshell and to state the obvious, we love them.

Our cousin, Balu, joined us for dinner too, and we love him too–so much, that it was only with great reluctance that we finally broke up our post-party party (at almost 10pm).

Basically, we ate a lot, visited with friends and family, and had a great day at church. Oh, and we took a nap. That’s a great Sunday in my book. (Although even though I cleaned for an hour, there’s still a lot left to do in the kitchen…oh, well. That’s a small price to pay for evenings like this.)

I get way too excited about matching. I would match my daughters every day if I could. (I used to secretly match my companion in the MTC and then act like it was an accident. People started making fun of us, but she would vehemently deny an pre-emptive planning on our part. I'd just stand there and smile.)

I get way too excited about matching. I would match my daughters every day if I could. (I used to secretly match my companion in the MTC and then act like it was an accident. People started making fun of us, but she would vehemently deny any planning on our part. I have since confessed.)

Abe lit a fire in the fireplace for the firs time this season. The girls were mesmerized.

Abe lit a fire in the fireplace for the firs time this season. The girls were mesmerized.

Lydia helped me make the rolls.

Lydia helped me make the rolls.

The Sorensons.

The Sorensons.

Finally, this is for mom. Mom, Gloria is back in town! She brought you a ton of roses, and I promised her I'd take a picture and send to you. There's a whole other vase of roses that look like this, but so far I have just gotten around to taking a picture of this one. She sends you her love and wants to see you when you're in town soon.

Finally, this is for mom. Mom, Gloria is back in town! She brought you a ton of roses, and I promised her I’d take a picture and send to you. There’s a whole other vase of roses that look like this, but so far I have just gotten around to taking a picture of this one. She sends you her love and wants to see you when you’re in town soon.