yoga and a naked, potty-trained toddler

Poor Mary woke up at 5:45am whimpering because she had pooped, and who knows how long she had gone with it in her diaper since she was asleep. Her diaper rash was awful, and I felt so, so sorry for my baby. That said, I would have preferred a later start to my day, and so I improvised a survival solution by doing absolutely nothing all day.

That worked for Mary! She’s teething, doesn’t want to eat, and therefore lethargic, so she just cuddled with me while Lydia played, watched her kid shows, and practiced going to the potty. I did not clean anything or cook anything today. I spent all the free time I had finishing up my book No Easy Day (don’t even ask me why I read it–it was on the “Lucky Day” shelf at the library, so I guess I thought it had to be good if it made it to The Shelf), and shopping on Zulily. Yikes!

I did, however, drop the kids off at Abe’s office at 5:30pm so I could make the 6:15 session of Bikram Yoga. Afterwards, I lay on the six-inch wide bench outside of the room and tried to get the energy to walk to the car. Don’t mind the chubby lady trying to fit on the teeny bench, sweating a pool of smelly puddles onto the floor and tootin’ up a storm! (That would have been me.)

Since I was lazy, I did not get that many pictures today, so I made up for it by running around the house before typing this blog so I could photograph random things to talk about. Here we go!

 

Again, Mary is wearing one of Lydia's staple summer outfits from last year (probably the last chance she has to wear it), and the end of a beloved hand-me-down always makes me want to run for a tissue.

Again, Mary is wearing one of Lydia’s staple summer outfits from last year (probably the last chance she has to wear it), and the end of a beloved hand-me-down always makes me want to run for a tissue.

Don't mind my naked child. She did not feel like getting dressed, and I did not care to fight that battle. So here she is, in all of her naked glory. I did, however, re-try that waterfall twist braid. It doesn't look super great here, but it wore really well and got progressively prettier as the day went on.

Don’t mind my naked child. She did not feel like getting dressed, and I did not care to fight that battle. So here she is, in all of her naked glory. I did, however, re-try that waterfall twist braid. It doesn’t look super great here, but it wore really well and got progressively prettier as the day went on.

Aghhh! Below is my naked toddler again. The neighbors can see right into our house (we live on a hill), and so I am sure they think I am negligent. Lydia had two full hours of quiet time today…she actually has a blast during quiet time, but I do wonder what the neighbors think watching a little naked child run all around by herself for that amount of time. Also, here she is calling her cat on the phone. (The cat is her favorite thing in the world, and we accidentally left it in New York. I have been ambivalent about asking Clark and Swathi to send it back since Lydia’s devotion transformed a cuddly stuffed animal into a mangy, smelly, most-likely-hazardous object. But Lydia has talked about/to the cat every day since he went missing weeks ago, and my heart goes out to this loyal child of mine.)

Aghhh! My naked toddler again. The neighbors can see right into our house (we live on a hill), and so I am sure they think I am negligent. Lydia was thus THREE hours of alone quiet time today...she didn't mind at all, but I do wonder what the neighbors think watching a little naked child run all around by herself for that amount of time. Also, here she is calling her cat on the phone. (The cat is her favorite thing in the world, and we accidentally left it in New York. I have been ambivalent about asking Clark and Swathi to send it back since Lydia's devotion has transformed a cuddly stuffed animal into a mangy, smelly, most-likely-hazardous object. But Lydia has talked about/to the cat every day since he went missing weeks ago, and my heart goes out to this loyal child of mine.

Today mommy just lost some steam, okay?

My dinner. Ingredients: bananas. If you have never frozen bananas and blended them in a food processor afterward, you need to go do that RIGHT NOW. I saw this recipe years ago and dismissed it as ridiculous, but now I know I am the ridiculous one for not trying it. The easiest thing ever, and the end result tastes like the best ice cream you have ever had. Please go do this now.

My dinner. Ingredients: bananas. If you have never frozen bananas and blended them in a food processor afterward, you need to go do that RIGHT NOW. I saw this recipe years ago and dismissed it as ridiculous, but now I know I am the ridiculous one for not trying it. The easiest thing ever, and the end result tastes like the best ice cream you have ever had. Please go do this now.

Lydia wrote the "o" in the word, "Stop". This was for the game she, Abe and Mary played a couple days ago, and boy, we are so proud of her!

Lydia wrote the “o” in the word, “Stop”. This was for the game she, Abe and Mary played a couple days ago, and boy, we are so proud of her!

The flowers Abe got me are blooming. If I did not battle a continual running dialogue in my head about how terrible I am at everything, I think my life would be perfect. I have the world's sweetest, most affirming husband, beautiful children, the best mother in the world, the greatest brother and sister-in-law in the world, and everything else anyone could possibly want to be happy. I just need to get with the program and start being happy, right?

The flowers Abe got me are blooming. If I did not battle a continual running dialogue in my head about how terrible I am at everything and what a horrible person I am, I think my life would be perfect. I have the world’s sweetest, most affirming husband, beautiful children, the best mother in the world, the greatest brother and sister-in-law in the world, and everything else anyone could possibly want to be happy. I just need to get with the program and start being happy, right?

Slogging through

Last night was rough. Abe and I got to bed around midnight, and two hours later Lydia woke up from a nightmare. I had those all the time growing up, and I really appreciated that my mom always came to me when I was scared. So we do the same for Lydia, and Abe heroically got out of bed and comforted her. A mere two hours after that, Mary woke up sobbing from a poopy diaper and fire-engine red diaper rash. I changed her diaper and put her down, but the ordeal was so loud and messy that Abe got involved; by the end, I was wide awake and did not fall asleep again until right before Lydia woke us at 7:30 with the news that she had peed and pooped in her potty. (By the way, Lydia had no accidents again today and kept her bed dry all night. Go Lydia!!)

So I had trouble being motivated today. I ate too many brownies, let Lydia watch hours of kiddie shows on DVD and the iPad, and stayed engrossed in my own book way after the girls were done with afternoon nap/quiet time. (That means I read my book to myself for an hour while they did whatever the heck they wanted nearby.)

During Family Home Evening,  we read from the Doctrine and Covenants about establishing a house of order, and then we promptly tramped down to the basement to organize. Basically, cold weather will be upon us soon, and I want to do crafts with the kids down there without feeling that we are being ambushed by entropy. Hence my proposal for our FHE activity. (Abe did all the work while Mary and I cuddled on the couch. I love my husband.)

Before FHE, I did get some other stuff done. I took Mary (and Lydia) to the doctor when Mary’s diaper rash started bleeding. SO sad. And I cleaned the basement, did laundry, cooked dinner, wrote in my scripture journal and, of course, cleaned the kitchen. Considering I feel like I have been slogging through mud all day, that’s not too bad, right?

I found this after breakfast. Minnie Mouse was taking a bath in Lydia's water cup.

I found this after breakfast. Minnie Mouse was taking a bath in Lydia’s water cup.

Mary's teething, and she had a terrible diaper rash today. So she was fussy, but let me tell you, I think I fell in love all over again today. She was just over-the-top cute, and we spent a LOT of time cuddling.

Mary’s teething, and she had a terrible diaper rash today. So she was fussy, but let me tell you, I think I fell in love all over again today. She was just over-the-top cute, and we spent a LOT of time cuddling.

Here are my over-the-top cute children fighting in a not-so-over-the-top-cute way for a toy.

I mainly took this picture to show Lydia wearing something other than pink. Also, I spent a bunch of time this morning trying to master this ridiculously easy hairdo, but I failed miserably. But I am proud that I have managed to learn how to do the Dutch braid headband thing.  This is huge, considering I could not even do pigtails properly two years ago.

Lydia's new favorite way to watch DVDs.

Lydia’s new favorite way to watch DVDs.

My sage friend, Misty, shared this tip with me: Throw away broken crayons! If you think about it for a minute, you, like me, might also come to the conclusion that Misty is Socrates in disguise. And you, like me, might want to do as I did today, and take that awesome advice.

My sage friend, Misty, shared this tip with me: Throw away broken crayons! If you think about it for a minute, you, like me, might also come to the conclusion that Misty is Socrates in disguise. And you, like me, might want to do as I did today, and take that awesome advice.

Here's the pasta puttanesca I made for dinner. It wasn't that great, actually. I mean, it was okay, but considering the cool things that went into the sauce (LOTS of anchovy paste! Kalamata olives! Capers! FOUR cloves of garlic!), I was kind of disappointing. Either that, or I was not really in the mood for pasta puttanesca tonight.

Here’s the pasta puttanesca I made for dinner. It wasn’t that great, actually. I mean, it was okay, but considering the cool things that went into the sauce (LOTS of anchovy paste! Kalamata olives! Capers! FOUR cloves of garlic!), I was kind of disappointing. Either that, or I was not really in the mood for pasta puttanesca tonight.

A dry-undies sabbath

Lydia had zero accidents today. Count’em: Ze-ro! We are just beside ourselves with joy. At the same time, I am terrified that the candy corn potty treats plugged her up and set her up for some, um, nighttime trauma. So we end the day on a note of proud trepidation.

Aside from the loveliest of phone calls with Clark and Swathi  (and also a sweet, short call with my mom and Uncle Steve), here are the best parts of our day, in pictures:

This is where I spent the majority of my day. How about you?

This is where I spent the majority of my day. How about you?

Lydia left her undies on the front path in her haste to make it to the potty. Our undie-less toddler single-handedly dragged down the property value of homes on our block tonight, but we were so proud of her nonetheless!

Lydia left her undies on the front path in her haste to make it to the potty. Our undie-less toddler single-handedly dragged down the property value of homes on our block tonight, but we were so proud of her nonetheless.
Eating apples, shucking corn, and playing chalk on the driveway. We loved our lives tonight.

Eating apples, shucking corn, and playing chalk on the driveway. We loved our lives tonight.

We found a caterpillar in the corn!

We found a caterpillar in the corn!

Lydia spent a looong time picking apples off the tree and throwing them down our street. We live on 12th avenue, which means the apples rolled down twelve blocks before they reached level ground. Quite a thrill for these worm-filled pome fruits.

Lydia spent a looong time picking apples off the tree and throwing them down our street. We live on 12th avenue, which means the apples rolled down twelve blocks before they reached level ground. Quite a thrill for these worm-filled pome fruits.

Our apple tree, because we love it so much.

Our apple tree, because we love it so much.
Mary started doing these trust falls in India when she could not contain her excitement. She still does them whenever she is over-the-top happy, which she apparently was. We ate dinner outside on the lawn tonight. Maybe that made her happy!

Mary started doing these trust falls in India when she could not contain her excitement. She still does them whenever she is over-the-top happy, which she apparently was. We ate dinner outside on the lawn tonight. Maybe that made her happy!

And to think this mess would have taken place on my kitchen floor. Why don't we eat outside every night?

And to think this mess would have taken place on my kitchen floor. Why don’t we eat outside every night?

Today was Sunday. Normally on Sunday, we try to be good Mormons and refrain from work. We were inside the first part of the day, and Abe was helping so much that I could not resist getting a head start on this week’s meals. By the end of the day, I had cooked the following:

Roasted squash with giant red onions and balsamic vinegar.

Roasted squash with giant red onions and balsamic vinegar.

toasted almonds for a pesto later.

toasted almonds for a pesto later.

basil, cilantro, almond pesto for lunch. These are leftovers for Abe's lunch, and I hope he remembers to bring it to work. His lunch budget is teeny tiny, and when he forgets to take his lunch to work, by the end of the week his only option left is to drink water for lunch.

basil, cilantro, almond pesto for lunch. These are leftovers for Abe’s lunch tomorrow, and I hope he remembers to bring it to work. His lunch budget is teeny tiny, and when he forgets to take his lunch to work, by the end of the week his only option left is to drink water for lunch.

Um, this is a brownie. The recipe swapped out butter/oil for applesauce and light sour cream. That, of course, is the only reason why I ate half the pan.

Um, this is a brownie. The recipe swapped out butter/oil for applesauce and light sour cream. That, of course, is the only reason why I ate half the pan.

Tomorrow we are trying out that exciting recipe in Cook's Illustrated for pasta puttanesca with fresh tomatoes. Even though it's sacrilegious, I am amending the recipe so that the fresh tomatoes will be, er, roasted. These tomatoes were SUCH a disappointment--think grocery-store-roma-in-December disappointing, even though I bought them at the farmer's market a mere twenty-four hours earlier. So I roasted the bejeebers out of 'em in the hopes that they'd emerge from the oven tasting more like their authentic tomato selves. We'll see what happens tomorrow when these meet up with all that puttanesca good stuff.

Tomorrow we are trying out that exciting recipe in Cook’s Illustrated for pasta puttanesca with fresh tomatoes. Even though it’s sacrilegious, I am amending the recipe so that the fresh tomatoes will be…er… roasted. These tomatoes were SUCH a disappointment: Think grocery-store-Roma-in-December disappointing, even though I bought them at the farmer’s market yesterday. So I roasted the bejeebers out of ’em in the hopes that they’d emerge from the oven tasting more like their authentic tomato selves. We’ll see what happens tomorrow when these meet up with all that puttanesca good stuff.

This is one of my beloved basil patches in my garden. The plants got neglected and woody while we were away, and so I cut them down today to great effect. Next year I plan on planting NOTHING except for basil and tomatoes in my garden. I am signing up for a church garden plot for everything else. (This year I was greedy and planted too many things in too little space. My tomatoes don't get enough sun because they are smashed too close together, and I have to do ridiculous things like cut down my cucumber vines to get at my basil.)

This is one of my beloved basil patches in my garden. The plants got neglected and woody while we were away, and so I cut them down today to great effect. Next year I plan on planting NOTHING except for basil and tomatoes in my garden. I am signing up for a church garden plot for everything else. (This year I was greedy and planted too many things in too little space. My tomatoes don’t get enough sun because they are smashed too close together, and I have to do ridiculous things like cut down my cucumber vines to get at my basil.)

Potty training success!

The cutest story of the day is that after we put Lydia to bed tonight, she wet the bed. When Abe went in to her bedroom, she was repeating over and over, with tears streaming down her face, “I wet the bed, but that’s okay. I wet the bed, but that’s okay.” And she was frantically trying to put on a new pair of what she thought were undies (they were actually just Mary’s cotton shorts). “Daddy, can you please help me put these on?” she sniffled. Our hearts became water reservoirs on the spot.

I wish I could take credit for the potty training work that went on in the house today, but I’ll confess that I cheated and went to the farmer’s market, Tony Caputo’s, and the grocery store this morning while Abe dealt with all of the accidents. (To be fair to myself, I have had the girls for three straight days by myself, and the wheels had come off the cart and rolled far, far away.) As I was bringing in the groceries, Lydia peed all over the box of applesauce cartons and then…no more accidents until bed time! I am thankful to God for answering my request for some aid in this process, and I am thankful to Abe for helping me feel sane again.

I also went to stake conference tonight.  The stake president counseled us all to keep the commandments, and if we don’t know where to start, just start by trying to be nice people. It was a more inspiring talk than it probably sounds here.

Because I actually had time to cook today, my kitchen is a holy-moly mess that I need to go clean. So here’s the daily picture fest.

Lydia was excited to be a big girl today.

Lydia was excited to be a big girl today.

Mary was excited too.

Mary was excited too.

I came home to discover Lydia, Mary and Abe playing a "stop" and "go" game with signs they colored while I was gone. Lydia is sitting on an oilcloth we toted around during the day in the hopes of sparing our carpets...

I came home to discover Lydia, Mary and Abe playing a “stop” and “go” game with signs they colored while I was gone. Lydia is sitting on an oilcloth we toted around during the day in the hopes of sparing our carpets…

Mary thought the game was hilarious.

Mary thought the game was hilarious.

I cooked today! I roasted a bunch of baby beets, wilted down those deeeelicious beet greens, and made some Cuban beans from my library cook book. It turns out that Mary LOVES beets, and even though she has been picky recently, she happily gorged herself on those.

I cooked today! I roasted a bunch of baby beets, wilted down those deeeelicious beet greens, and made some Cuban beans from my library cook book. It turns out that Mary LOVES beets, and even though she has been picky recently, she happily gorged herself on those.

Eating dinner. Very satisfying shot, in light of all the boxed mac 'n cheese the we've been eating in Abe's absence.

Eating dinner. Very satisfying shot, in light of all the boxed mac ‘n cheese the we’ve been eating in Abe’s absence. Oh wait, that’s mac ‘n cheese on Mary’s tray! (Guess what we had for lunch…again?

Abe brought me flowers yesterday, but I was so stressed and tired that I forgot to take a picture. Hopefully I remembered to thank him. They're beautiful, Honey!!!

Abe brought me flowers yesterday, but I was so stressed and tired that I forgot to take a picture. Hopefully I remembered to thank him. They’re beautiful, Honey!!!

 

 

potty training eve

Both play dates this morning cancelled, so I made some quick decisions about what to do with the day. I decided we’d trek to Target to get ready for Lydia’s big potty training day tomorrow and then to Kid-to-Kid for some fall and winter clothes for the girls. After the outings, the girls did not take their naps (I felt soooooooo sorry for myself!), and so we practically jumped straight in to the dinner, snack, second-dinner routine.

Tonight I actually made multiple dishes, and I was so proud that the girls had options aside from graham crackers. Sadly, Mary was super fussy (maybe she’s teething? This week she has morphed from my easy baby to this squawking, screaming, super-duper-picky child!) and kept refusing to eat. Finally I gave up and let her crawl to Lydia’s table where she set up shop stealing all of Lydia’s food. Lydia was eating only on the condition that she be nice to Mary, and so she very sweetly shared her food and kept spooning out heaps of rice onto the table for Mary to grab.

Anyway, I need to get reading up on potty training because tomorrow is the big day, and I have done zero research thus far. This was kind of an impulsive decision borne out of a conversation I had with my friend, Misty, who just potty trained her daughter on Thursday. After a mere eight accidents, Sophia got it! I pray Lydia’s training can be a similar experience (please note that we have white carpets), but I don’t hold out much hope. We shall see, I guess.

So here are the pics from the day. I should really figure out Flickr so that I can just do a daily picture dump there.

Abe kindly took care of the girls' morning routine, and when I came downstairs, I discovered Lydia's hair. It reminded me strongly of Bellatrix Lestrange, but that sweet smile counteracts the effect (somewhat).

Abe kindly took care of the girls’ morning routine, and when I came downstairs, I discovered Lydia’s hair. It reminded me strongly of Bellatrix Lestrange, but that sweet look counteracts the effect (somewhat).

I redid Lydia's hair.

I redid Lydia’s hair.

I mainly wanted a picture of Mary in these overalls. I remember Lydia in them, and they feel nostalgic to me.

I mainly wanted a picture of Mary in these overalls. I remember Lydia in them, and they feel nostalgic to me.

Mary and Lydia playing "parachute" with a wash cloth. And one last shot of Lydia in diapers. May this be her last day in them, Insha'Allah.

Mary and Lydia playing “parachute” with a wash cloth. And one last shot of Lydia in diapers. May this be her last day in them, Insha’Allah.

This is Mary folding her arms to pray. Normally, she folds them for a total of one second before she starts clapping for herself.

This is Mary folding her arms to pray. Normally, she folds them for a total of one second before she starts clapping for herself.

Half an hour before bedtime, and I was still working on overhauling the girls' wardrobes. In case you are wondering, Lydia's room is now clean, clean, clean, and I am so tired, tired, tired.

Half an hour before bedtime, and I was still working on overhauling the girls’ wardrobes. In case you are wondering, Lydia’s room is now clean, clean, clean, and I am so tired, tired, tired.

A definition: Kitchen clean-up

I have been playing with, reading to, driving around, and cleaning up after my children since 7:30am. (Lydia finally went down at 10pm…a story that may or may not be told in this blog.) They napped for two beautiful hours, during which I lay on the couch, picked out a recipe for dinner and read half of No Easy Day by Mark Owen (the navy seal on the team who killed Bin Laden).

Here’s what I accomplished today. I read Lydia over 30 books (I counted during clean-up), most of them multiple times. I colored a LOT with Lydia and got carried away doing the word puzzles in her Candy and Cupcakes coloring book. I showered, got dressed, and even put on make-up (all with Mary’s active participation). I cooked breakfast (eggs and oatmeal), lunch (mac ‘n cheese from a box and baked beans from a can), and dinner (bean, basil and zucchini salad–from my garden!, instant oatmeal again, nutella sandwiches because I was beginning to be depressed that 2 hours had passed and we were still in the throes of meal time).

I cleaned the kitchen every time the girls ate meals or snacks (every one and a half hours in the morning, and continually from 4:30pm until 7pm at night.) I cleaned it again after I put the girls to bed at 9pm, and then again after Lydia screamed and screamed and screamed that she was hungry and needed a late night snack at 10pm.

You may wonder what I mean by “cleaning the kitchen,” and you also might wonder why I do it so often. I mean this: Getting down on my hands and knees and using a wash rag to scrub everywhere the girls have dropped/thrown their food while eating. Then I scrub down surfaces where they ate (sometimes I start doing this while they are eating so that I have a head start and so Mary doesn’t totally lose it during that awful time when she’s done eating but I still have more to clean before I can get her up because if I don’t, she WILL crawl everywhere and track the mess all over the house. Excuse the run-on, but those times of day are when my stress level feels almost unmanageable.) I then clean all the dishes it took to produce and eat the meal. Sometimes I leave the dishes until later, but I hate doing that because I know I will have even more dishes to do on less energy as the day marches on.

I have considered NOT cleaning the kitchen so much, but then I just picture little feet running through the kitchen and then tracking crumbs, jelly and cheese goop all over the house. In this reverie, I also visualize little hands touching sticky surfaces and then sticky-fying my entire house. That thought makes me want to start drinking. I am not exaggerating. So instead, I keep on cleanin’ on, and by the end of the day, I’m not drinking, but believe me, my inner dialogue is soooooo not G, PG, or PG13 rated.

Okay, where was I? Oh, yes. After I got dressed, I read Mary these:

Mary practically jumped out of my arms by the time I finished with The Big, Hungry Caterpillar. I have to resort to using props to keep her focused. After I stopped breast feeding her two months ago, I realized that I had spent so much time nursing her I rarely/never (?) took the time to read to only her. So now I am trying to make up for lost time.

Mary practically jumped out of my arms by the time I finished with The Big, Hungry Caterpillar. I have to resort to using props (pictured) to keep her focused. After I stopped breast feeding her two months ago, I realized that I had spent so much time nursing her that I rarely/never (?) took the time to read to just her.

Then I took the girls to the library for story time.

I took the girls to story time at the library, and can I tell you how much I LOVE these librarians? As in, each time we go to story time, I silently praise God that these talented, smart, funny people chose to be children's librarians.

Each time we go to story time, I silently praise God that these talented, smart, funny people chose to be children’s librarians. They are heroes to me, but they probably don’t have any idea how much their efforts are appreciated.

Then the guy who checked our books out told us that it was going to rain. With that in mind, I high-tailed it to the park for some outdoors time before the downpour.  The weather while we played at the park was my version of heaven (the overcast, breezy, not-at-all chilly kind of glorious).

The guy who checked our books out told me it was supposed to rain today, so I immediately drove the girls to the park to cram some outdoors time in before it rained. Sure enough, after half an hour, it started to rain. But the weather while we were there was my version of heaven (the overcast, breezy, not-at-all chilly kind of glorious). Here's Lydia climbing to the big slide.

Here’s Lydia climbing to the big slide.

Here's Mary napping while Lydia played.

Here’s Mary napping while Lydia played.

Then it was home, lunch, coloring time, reading time, and nap time. After nap time, we embarked on an eating fest that lasted almost until bath time.

Here's a better look at Mary's top knot. She is naked because she ate from approximately 4:30pm to 7pm, with very few breaks. She was fussy the ENTIRE time (probably because her morning nap was cut short), and I had to remove her clothes halfway through her little food extravaganza.

Here’s a better look at Mary’s top knot. She is naked because she ate from approximately 4:30pm to 7pm, with very few breaks. Halfway through that eating extravaganza, her clothes were entirely covered in food and needed to be removed.

After dinner, I took the girls outside to play. While we were outside, we saw this! The sky is so dramatic in Utah. The first time I saw a rainbow like this here I cried, but today I kept my head about me and ran for my camera.

After dinner, I took the girls outside to play. While we were outside, we saw this! The sky is so dramatic in Utah. The first time I saw a rainbow like this in Utah I cried, but today I kept my head about me and ran for my camera.

Doesn't the rainbow look like it's landing on our neighbor's roof?

Doesn’t the rainbow look like it’s landing on our neighbor’s roof?

Abe has been out of town, but he got in tonight in time to see Lydia before I put her down again.

Time to go to bed so we can do it all again tomorrow.

Wherein Lydia learns to hate music (or at least rhythm)

Lydia and I just finished our first real music lesson. Up until now, we have had fun sessions at the piano where we sing, play, talk about high and low, soft and loud, etc., but today was the first day I actually made her do something hard that she did not want to do. And I feel very ambivalent about how it went down.

I sat her down at the piano today and said, “Lydia, we’re going to tap some rhythms, okay?” She was compliant at first, but then I tapped a rhythm that was not just quarter notes. I tapped: quarter note–8th note, 8th note–quarter note.  (One, Two-and Three.) Not hard, right?

Lydia tried about three times before giving up. Since I had literally ALL the time in the world, I decided that we would not do anything until she got it right. For the next hour and a half, she screamed, rolled on the floor, pushed furniture, and pounded things while I clapped and tapped out that rhythm on everything in sight. Mary, on the other hand, tried the ENTIRE time to tap the rhythm. Any time I tried a new surface, Mary crawled to it and tapped or clapped her own version of the rhythm. Each time this happened, I ecstatically praised Mary until Lydia competitively banged out her own attempt. Suuuuch bad parenting, I know.

About half an hour into the fiasco, Lydia did manage to pound something on the table that sounded like the rhythm, but the two middle notes were uneven and unconvincing, so I made a split second decision and told her she was really, really close, but that she could do even better. If I sound like a Nazi, I promise, I did not yell at Lydia or say demeaning things to her. (My dad did that a lot during piano practice, so I hope I know what lines never to cross.) All I did was encourage, hug, praise, kiss and cuddle Lydia, but I did resolve that we would not end the session until she got it right.

Finally, after an hour and a half, I grabbed Lydia’s hands (I had tried multiple times to do this earlier, but she resisted) and clapped the rhythm with her hands for her. It was getting close to nap time and the girls needed food session #4 of the day (Abe eats every two hours as a grown adult male, and the girls seem to have his metabolism, so they eat frequently), and I was starting to question the wisdom of my resolve. So I helped Lydia do it right and then called it good.

Now I’m all in a tizzy about whether this session was a good or bad thing. I think I am leaning toward “bad” because two  is a little young to start this type of music training. Maybe until age four or five it should just be all fun and games, and no real demands should be placed on the child. But then part of me thinks that if Lydia is going to master the piano, she needs to put in 10,000 hours, and the sooner she starts, the better.

We then trekked downstairs to decompress with the banana swirl “ice cream” Lydia had started making before our rhythm debacle. She peeled and broke the bananas into small pieces, I froze them, and then after our session, I put them in the food processor and pushed “on.” That’s all there is to it, and the ice cream was amazing. Daniel Tiger makes this ice cream on his show and it looked easy, so I thought, why not? After their snack, I cleaned up the kitchen as fast as I could (not fast enough for Mary, who was screaming by the time I finished) and shuttled the girls to bed.

It could have been such a happy day if I had not done that rhythmic exercise with Lydia. Here are snapshots from the morning:

Lydia playing pretend with her stuffed animals.

Lydia playing pretend with her stuffed animals.

I took Mary upstairs for a reading session while Lydia played the iPad downstairs. Halfway through I heard Lydia scream for cheerios and then realized I'd forgotten to buy those at the store yesterday. I decided to ignore Lydia and keep reading to Mary, and when I opened the door and came downstairs, I found this. Yes, these are the stairs I vacuumed yesterday (and now again today).

I took Mary upstairs for a reading session while Lydia played the iPad downstairs. Halfway through I heard Lydia call up for cheerios and then realized I’d forgotten to buy those at the store yesterday. When I got around to opening the door and coming downstairs, I found this. Yes, these are the stairs I vacuumed yesterday (and now again today).

Lydia helped me vacuum her room!

Lydia helped me vacuum her room!

Eavesdropping made my world go ’round today…

Today I went for a jog/walk in the morning because a) my husband is awesome and urged me to go, even though he had to watch the kids, get ready for work, and pay bills all at the same time  b) it was my favorite type of weather outside: slightly overcast in the 70’s (?? — whatever temp it is when you don’t need a sweater but you can still run without feeling like the heat is out to get you).

The clouds were being especially dramatic. Because I am always sure The End Is Near, I thought the formation of the clouds meant there was a tornado forming. But actually the clouds just wanted to be swirly and big today.
The clouds were being especially dramatic. Because I am always sure The End Is Near, I thought the formation of the clouds meant there was a tornado forming, but actually the clouds just wanted to be swirly and big today.

Then I cleaned the house for two hours while Mary napped and Lydia did…this:

This is the room post-clean-up. You wouldn't have wanted me to take this picture before then.This is the room post-clean-up. You wouldn’t have wanted me to take this picture before then.

During my clean-up, I: vacuumed the entire downstairs, scrubbed down the kitchen, disinfected the upstairs bathroom, straightened up everywhere and organized the kitchen closet.

You might think this is the before picture, but you would be wrong. The before picture was so bad that I didn't think to take a picture--I just started cleaning. (We have limited closet space in this house, so this closet really works hard, poor thing.)You might think this is the before picture, but you would be wrong. The before picture was so bad that I didn’t think to take a picture–I just started cleaning. (We have limited closet space in this house, so this closet really works hard, poor thing.)

Then Lydia announced she was hungry, so I quickly fed her pizza and applesauce before our play date with Sarah, Nathan and Hannah. She was still in her pj’s when they arrived at 11, and so I had to change her into actual clothes during the play date.

I love Hannah. When she was born, I was still pregnant with Mary and remember hoping that my baby would turn out half as sweet and cute as Hannah!I love Hannah. When she was born, I was still pregnant with Mary, and  I remember hoping that my baby would turn out half as sweet and cute as Hannah!

Mary woke up half way through the play date. We have started doing her hair in this top knot, and when we take the elastic out before her bath, the hair stays exactly the same! We have to double check each time to make sure we actually took the elastic out.Mary woke up half way through the play date. We have started doing her hair in this top knot, and when we take the elastic out before her bath, the hair stays exactly the same! We have to double check each time to make sure we actually took the elastic out.

After the play date, I picked up Lydia's room for the first time in two days. I could almost hear the toys and books thanking me.After the play date, I picked up Lydia’s room for the first time in two days. I could almost hear the toys and books thanking me.

After our play date, I fed the girls lunch, cleaned the kitchen (again), cleaned Lydia’s room, read them a couple books and put them down for naps at 3pm. Then I read my scriptures, wrote in my journal, worked on the blog, wasted time on the internet, and read a little from the book, Far From the Tree by Andrew Solomon. I read the chapter on criminality and how parents deal with kids who turn out to be criminals. I sincerely hope that cross is never mine to bear.

Then Mary woke up, so we played and read books until my brother and sister-in-law called. They wanted to video-chat with the girls, so Lydia woke up and we all chatted for a bit. They are the most doting, sweet, and affirming aunt and uncle ever, and the girls just love them. When tech problems interrupted our chat, Lydia kept asking if we could keep talking to “Uncle Cwark and Aunt Swafi” (Uncle Clark and Aunt Swathi).

After that, we piled into the car to return Nathan’s toys he had left at our house and then went grocery shopping. Then we came home, and as we were pulling into the drive, Lydia rhymed! She had been singing the “We dove in the ocean” song, and the verses all rhyme with the word, “tide”. So as we were pulling into the drive, Lydia made up this verse completely on her own: “We dove in our ho-ome and want to go inside.” I was so proud of her!

Then we ate dinner and too many graham crackers with Nutella (Abe had to work late tonight and did not come home until after bed time). Then I did a cursory cleaning of the kitchen and hauled the girls upstairs for their baths.  About half hour into book time before bedtime, I ran downstairs to get Mary’s bottle, and on the way up I heard the sweetest conversation I have ever heard in my life. Mary had crawled to the baby gate and was crying at the top of the stairs because I was gone.

Lydia said, “It’s okay, Mary. Mama will be back soon. Do you love your mama, Mary? She is so nice. See, I told you she would be back soon.”

I about died of happiness right on the spot. After hearing that, it was kisses and cuddles and singing and rocking and more kisses and cuddles (and almost as many books as Lydia wanted) until bed time. I still have to clean up the kitchen again, but I will do so with a light heart tonight. I am so happy to know my love is reciprocated!

A date and poison control

Did I mention Lydia will eat anything? As in, two days before we were supposed to board a flight for India, she swallowed the top of a nail clipper. (It came out the morning of our flight, thank goodness.) Tonight, while she was home with the babysitter, she guzzled nail polish remover. After we debriefed with poison control (and came home early from our date), we sat Lydia down and grilled her about if/how much nail polish she drank. Lydia cheerfully replied that she’d drunk the whole bottle and had a bad feeling in her tummy. She then smiled and took a big bite out of the crayon she was coloring with. Clearly, she loved all the attention, and I can hardly recall a time when she has been so cheerful and charming. We think she is going to be fine.

So, about the date! Abe’s mom sits on the board of directors for the Utah Chamber Artists, and tonight was their benefactor concert, so we got to go! The music was transcendent. Have you ever wondered what it must be like to be God and have everyone praying and demanding things of you–all at once? This piece is an incredible attempt at imagining that scenario: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rqZ9Eec6PkA. And this piece was my absolute favorite–a spiritual/musical high that reduced the audience to one big puddle of emotion: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ST67T386rcs

So much excitement after 6:30pm! But before that, we spent exactly ten (glorious) minutes outside of our house. I basically fed, played with, and read to the girls all day inside. And actually, even though that doesn’t sound super exciting, it felt wonderful. Normally on Mondays I disinfect all the bathrooms, vacuum, change the sheets, dust and pick up everywhere. Today I did none of that (although I did fold three loads of laundry that had been sitting in their baskets since Saturday). It felt great to just say, “You know what? Today I AM going to spend quality time with my kids!”

Here are some pics from the day:

Smiling at each other!

She really liked the blueberry banana waffles I made her for her (er, my) post-nap snack. And she tried raisins for the first time, too, which she also seemed to enjoy.

Pre-lunch smile.

Rummaging for tomatoes–probably Lydia’s favorite activity.

Exiting the tomato patch.

Voluntarily, vigorously wiping the dirt off her feet because I complain so much when things are dirty. This kind of tugged on my heart.

Wow, those ten minutes outside got a lot of blog play, didn’t they? Well, they are a lot more picturesque than pictures inside my house on the day I ditched cleaning, I can tell you that.

The program, because I loved it so much. I will probably also always remember the call from our (awesome) babysitter right after my favorite piece. Abe took it and did not return, so even though I enjoyed the last piece, I was slightly distracted.