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.

midterm

I spent the morning: babysitting Max and Sophia while Misty went to the doctor, folding laundry, doing errands, packing boxes, babysitting Ada while Liv got allergy tests, and feeding everyone multiple times.

In their nest watching a video on the resurrection. It's Lydia's favorite Living Scriptures video; she's watched it six times (per her request--to my great joy, she has been choosing it over Disney movies!!! Why didn't we get these earlier?!) since Sunday.

In their nest watching a video on the resurrection. It’s Lydia’s favorite Living Scriptures video; she’s watched it six times (per her request–to my great joy, she has been choosing it over Disney movies!!! Why didn’t we get these earlier?!) since Sunday.

Mary wanted to wear her wings during lunch.

Mary wanted to wear her wings during lunch.

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Then I napped.

After that, we went to SmashBurger to meet up with Abe before my midterm. We all had black bean burgers with their amazing fries and milkshakes. That buoyed me up for my midterm. (Abe took pictures, but they’re on his phone and I don’t want to disturb him–he’s asleep!)

My midterm went better today. At least I didn’t propose cheating to my bench mate. I honestly feel so ashamed that I did that yesterday, and I am so, so grateful I regained my sanity in time to not go through with the plan.

This is what happens when you use cold butter to make cookies. To be clear, the butter WAS room temperature when I retrieved it from the pantry, but it hardened sitting out on my bench. By the time I had to mix the batter, the butter was hard, and it turns out that no matter how much you cream hard butter, it will haunt your product to the end. Ugh.

See those pale flecks of butter in the cookies? That is what happens when you use cold butter to make cookies. To be clear, the butter WAS room temperature when I retrieved it from the pantry, but it hardened sitting out on my bench (the kitchen was 50 degrees). By the time I had to mix the batter, the butter was hard, and it turns out that no matter how much you cream hard butter, it will haunt your product to the end. Also, I didn’t mix the chocolate chips in evenly enough. I was so worried I’d made the cookies tough from beating the batter (in my futile attempt to soften that butter) that by the time I added the chocolate chips, I felt like I couldn’t afford to let that paddle beat another minute.

I should have refrigerated my pie shell before filling it. That would have prevented the retraction you see on the crust. Once again, impatience got the best of me.

I should have refrigerated my pie shell before filling it. That would have prevented the retraction you see on the crust. Once again, impatience got the best of me.

Another day in sequester

Aside from keeping the girls alive, getting Lydia to and from preschool, cleaning and cooking, I slept all day. Last night I barely slept at all because Mary got up a couple times and thenI couldn’t get back to bed because I am so excited about the move.

The girls were absolutely perfect today; Mary napped for four hours, and Lydia played next to me in the bed. When I woke up, I played with the girls for two hours. That was probably the highlight of my day. I guess I could have used the time to pack some more boxes, but it felt really fulfilling to just sit on the floor with them and be silly.

Here are the two pictures I have from today.

Watching The Living Scriptures videos. One of the ladies at church gave us her set of Living Scripture videos for a seriously reduced price, and the girls have LOVED them. It feels like a huge blessing.

Watching The Living Scriptures videos. One of the ladies at church gave us her set of Living Scripture videos for a seriously reduced price, and the girls have LOVED them. It feels like a huge blessing.

Pretending to call Nana and Grandma Cullen.

Pretending to call Nana and Grandma Cullen.

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fix-it cut, the aviary, and Provo

This day was the kind of day that made me stop and feel grateful to be a stay at home mom. I enjoyed each part of the day. Even though I dropped Lydia off half an hour late to preschool, I didn’t panic (like I normally would) and feel like a terrible mom. I just figured I was doing my best, I didn’t yell at the girls to hurry, and the timing kind of fell where it did. What will be will be–I should have that attitude more often!

While Lydia was at preschool, I took Mary to Cookie Cutterz to get her haircut fixed, and then we went to the Aviary.

The store was selling lice deterrent leave in conditioner. Of course, I bought some. Apparently, rosemary is even better than tea tree at deterring lice. Duly noted. I will remember to ask Santa for a jug of Rosemary essential oils this Christmas.

The store was selling lice deterrent leave in conditioner. Of course, I bought some. Apparently, rosemary is even better than tea tree at deterring lice. Duly noted. I will remember to ask Santa for a jug of Rosemary essential oils this Christmas.

IMG_9949 IMG_9945 IMG_9942 IMG_9940Then we picked Lydia up and came home. While the girls were down for quiet time, I napped and researched essential oils, salt lamps, house plants, and diffusers. The experience I had with lice has made me very interested in homeopathic remedies, and now I’m convinced the reason we stay sick six months out of the year is because our home is filled with toxins. This winter I am going to invest in some of the above things and see if perhaps we stay healthier for it.

After daydreaming about filling my home with salt lamps, I dragged myself out of bed and folded laundry for an hour. It’s all folded! Just in time for more loads tomorrow! But hey, I will take it.

Then I loaded the girls in the car and drove to Provo. Abe’s work gave everyone free flu shots/nose sprays. After getting our sprays and shots, we drove to Abe’s friends’ house. Morgan and Jesse bought a house with my dream backyard in Provo, and Abe has been wanting to show it to me for a while. Afterward we drove around their neighborhood. We have looked at neighborhoods more than a few times since Abe transferred jobs, but we never find anything that seems to compare with how much we love the avenues. However, today we found a great neighborhood that resonated. It’s good to know that there are places in Provo where we won’t be abjectly miserable!

We sped home so I could be in time for my meeting…which went so well! I can’t put my finger on what it was, but I actually enjoyed the meeting. Perhaps I felt like I had more to contribute tonight, or I came away with legitimate action items that made me feel useful; whatever it was, I was grateful for an experience with my calling that made me like it more.

While I was at my meeting, Abe took pictures of the girls playing with their Happy Meal paraphernalia from Provo:

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And now we’re going to finish Stardust! I can’t wait. I had nightmares about the witches last night, but I still really want to find out what happens to everybody.

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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Lice apocalypse

Oh my goodness, I haven’t blogged since Wednesday! Whoa. I have a lot of pictures from the missing days, but I am so sleep deprived right now that I can’t really recall the details of what happened. On Thursday we found out that Mary had lice, and basically my world ended right then. Since no salon cuts infested hair, I had to cut Mary’s hair off myself.

I given exactly one haircut in my life, and the person went straight to the salon afterward to get what I did fixed. My heart drops a little bit each time I look at my shorn little Mary.

So all I’ve done since The Bad News is comb out everyone’s hair with a nit comb a million times, wash every single piece of clothing, bedding, and any other loose material I can find in the house, and fold a TON of laundry. We listened to General Conference today, which was the bright spot in this sad time. Oh, and I had Abe give me a blessing yesterday, which also helped.

Here are some of the pictures I have (dating back to Thursday):

Lydia and Audrey holding hands on the play ground at preschool (they're the two little girls in white shirts). I spy on them before I pick Lydia up.

Lydia and Audrey holding hands on the play ground at preschool (they’re the two little girls in white shirts). I spy on them before I pick Lydia up.

On the way to the doctor's office, before I found out Mary had lice.

On the way to the doctor’s office, before I found out Mary had lice.

Lydia fell asleep on the way to the doctor's.

Lydia fell asleep on the way to the doctor’s.

Lydia getting her hair cut. She didn't have lice.

Lydia getting her hair cut. She didn’t have lice, but we cut it anyway.

 

Abe took Friday off, which was a HUGE blessing considering all the work we had to do around the house. We took a break in the middle of  the day and took the girls to the park. I have a ton of pictures, but I'm having trouble sending them to my email. This one came through, though.

Abe took Friday off, which was a HUGE blessing considering all the work we had to do around the house. We took a break in the middle of the day and took the girls to the park. 

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I did get my camera fixed, though! Abe went crazy and took pictures during last night’s dinner to celebrate:

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Some of the laundry that we did. All of this is now folded and put away. This wasn't even all of it.

Some of the laundry that we did. All of this is now folded and put away. This wasn’t even all of it.

Mary was so exhausted after everything that she fell asleep like this.

Mary was so exhausted after everything that she fell asleep like this.

The rest of my pictures come from our outing to the park today:

You can see Lydia's new haircut. I actually LOVE Lydia's new hair, so that is a little consolation.

You can see Lydia’s new haircut. I actually LOVE Lydia’s new hair, so that is a little consolation.

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You can see what a terrible job I did on her bangs. No salon will fix it until two weeks after the treatment. :( ...But she's still adorable! Here she is giving me some pretend food she cooked up at the playground.

You can see what a terrible job I did on her bangs. No salon will fix it until two weeks after the treatment. 🙁 …But she’s still adorable! Here she is giving me some pretend food she cooked up at the playground.

Birthday eve with my mom, Clark, Swathi and Balu

Today I baked Mary’s birthday cake, made dinner, folded laundry, and did some errands. It was so, so wonderful to have my mom around during the day. That made everything feel like a celebration.

Mom and Mary in their nightgowns.

Mom and Mary in their nightgowns.

The girls watched their new favorite Disney movie, Snow White, while I baked Mary's cake.

The girls watched their new favorite Disney movie, Snow White, while I baked Mary’s cake.

The roses outside. Our wonderful landlords were here doing yard work during the morning. They love my mom and were so happy to see her.

The roses outside. Our wonderful landlords were here doing yard work during the morning. They love my mom and were so happy to see her.

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Abe's work team. They all got to celebrate today because everyone met their quota! They celebrated by zip lining through Provo Canyon for two hours. Abe said it was really fun and beautiful because all the colors are changing.

Abe’s work team. They all got to celebrate today because everyone met their quota! They celebrated by zip lining through Provo Canyon for two hours. Abe said it was really fun and beautiful because all the colors are changing.

That's not Abe, but it is the zip line!

That’s not Abe, but it is the zip line!

We had dinner with Clark, Swathi, my mom and Balu. We tried to go on a walk afterwards, but we got caught in a torrential downpour. Abe and I decided to take the girls on some last minute errands, so we did that instead.

And now…happy weekend, and happy early birthday to Mary!!!

dinner prep

Today I basically spent the whole day preparing for my primary dinner with Judy Jardine, Lira French and her two kids. I decided to do something simple, but it ended up taking the entire day. While Lydia was at preschool, Mary and I shopped almost the whole time, although we managed to squeeze in story time at the library.

Mary loves to say, “Oh, nooooo!” during books, and during story time she went crazy with that expression. The librarians kept looking back at her and smiling because every time something bad happened in story time, she’d say, “Oh, noooo!” in her darling little voice. We were all enchanted.

Then we came home and I fed the girls lunch.  Afterward, Lydia and I made cake together.IMG_9439After Lydia and I made cake, Lydia played in the dining room until she fell asleep on the floor.

IMG_9442Grandma, she was wearing the attire she told you about on the phone the other day. She thinks those teething balls make a really great bracelet.

After dinner, I vacuumed, cleaned the kitchen, sanitized the upstairs bathroom, and polished all the hard floors downstairs.

I came upstairs to find the girls playing sweetly in the closet. Mary looked up, grinned at me and said, “Big mess!” She pulled down a small tower of toys as she said that.

"Big Mess!"

“Big Mess!”

Then Abe played chase with the girls to try to tire them out. They are still awake two hours later, so I kind of think we’ll have to try a more soothing approach in the future…

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Quota celebration…and Clark and Swathi are having a boy!!

First of all, the exciting new of the day: CLARK AND SWATHI ARE HAVING A BOY!!! We are so, so excited for them! I can’t wait to meet my very first nephew!!!! The rest of the day pales in comparison to their news.

Nevertheless…

This morning I took the girls to the library and then to the church nursery while I attended institute. Last week we kicked off institute with Tad Callister, the general Sunday School president of the church, giving a talk on the atonement. That was a tough act to follow, but today I really enjoyed the descendents of J. Reuben Clark (a member of the first presidency through three different prophets) talk about what he was like as a grandfather.

Our ward is kind of unique in that a whole lot of apostles and prophets have lived within the boundaries, and J. Reuben Clark was one of those. His children all lived in homes on the same block, so they had many memories of their grandfather. For example, President Clark’s first granddaughter couldn’t say, “Grandpa,” so she called him “Bum-Bum,” and the name stuck! That anecdote reminded me of Lydia. She couldn’t say “Grandpa” or “Grams” at first, so she just called Tom and Suzanne “Bapa” and “Baps.” That’s what the girls still call them today. I guess these nicknames stick.

Grandma, didn’t you get your nickname, “Tiss” because you couldn’t pronounce “Clarissa” when you were little? It also made me think of you!

Anyway, before we went on our outings, I took a picture of Mary climbing into her pack ‘n play. Since she can only have her binky in there, she often announces she’s tired and wants her nap, binkies, “amiwals”, and pack ‘n play. Then she climbs in, thus:

IMG_9432 IMG_9433She is getting a toddler bed Saturday.

Our babysitter forgot to come today, so I skipped class. It worked out fine because Abe and I decided to take the girls out for ice cream instead of eating dinner. His boss was so kind and personally bought him a gift card to Baskin Robbins to celebrate that Abe has already blown through his quota before the quarter even ended. Abe has worked so hard, and Lucas was so, so nice in demanding that he celebrate.

sep17…And then the ice cream made me think that I was hungry for dinner, so we went and got dinner afterward. Tonight was a little backwards.

Anyway, congratulations, Abe!