White Friday =)

When Lydia woke up bright and early this morning, I was so tired I honestly can not recall what happened after. I think I fed her breakfast. I know I blogged and practiced the piano…oh, and I might have taken a nap.

Then we bundled up and drove to Little Cottonwood Canyon to hike Donut Falls. We hiked along without incident until we came to a slippery, rocky ledge. We had to slide down it (Clark and Abe did this with babies strapped on) and try hard not to slide into the creek not far from the bottom of the ledge. It was a little scary, but what really gave us pause was our first view of the falls: It was an almost vertical climb on slippery rocks and snow-covered ice. What with the two babies and the fading sun, we decided to turn around. At the end, we experienced a couple hours in some beautiful nature, and we have fresh resolve to hike that trail again in the summer.

Donut Falls trail

Donut Falls trail

After our hike, we drove home, fed the girls, re-bundled, and headed over to Temple Square. We ate dinner at The Garden Restaurant (on the roof of the Joseph Smith building), and then we walked around to see the Christmas lights on Temple Square.

It was a great day. My mom took a bunch of pictures this morning, so here they are:

Mondrian meets real life.

Mondrian meets real life.

During Abe's exercise session, he bench presses his daughters.

During Abe’s exercise session, he bench presses his daughters.

They have fun.

They have fun.
Mary is happy.

Mary is happy.

And then they all exercise together.

And then they all exercise together.

Nana and Mary

Nana and Mary

Tired pile.

Tired pile. Abe, Mary, and I took naps shortly after this shot was taken.

Happy Thanksgiving (the morning after)!

After dinner yesterday I was so tired and full that I skipped blogging and went to bed. But Grandma, Mom tells me you don’t read this until later in the day, so there’s still time!

Basically, I cooked all day and visited with Swathi and Mom in the kitchen. After reading Preethi’s Thanksgiving menu, I realized a) that her stuffed pumpkin recipe looked to die for and b) that I actually had all the ingredients on hand. Since we weren’t planning on eating dinner until 7pm, I made those pumpkins for lunch.

Good thing I did, because the only stressful moment of the day happened when Abe told me at 1pm that he’d told his family days ago that I would cook Thanksgiving dinner for his aunt (since she can’t leave the house). The food wasn’t going to be ready until after most people expect to eat Thanksgiving, and to be honest, I am not great at gauging portions, so I did not know if I’d made enough food.

Thankfully, I had made an extra pumpkin, and my mom kindly volunteered to purchase the dinners from Whole Foods, so crisis was ultimately averted. Even though we ate these pumpkins for lunch, they were, hands down, my favorite food of the day. We will be making those more often.

Aside from the panic that ensued at 1pm, the rest of the day did not feel hectic or crazy at all. I just stood in the kitchen and made one dish at a time with Swathi and my mom until at 7pm we had turned out: these rolls, mashed potatoes, cauliflower gratin, sweet potato casserole (next year I’d double the sweet potatoes, though), cranberry sauce, Alton Brown’s brined turkey, gravy, apple slab pie, pumpkin pie, pecan pie, three kinds of ice cream and whipped cream. Um, I like dessert. I had some brussel sprouts I meant to cook, but I ran out of time and space in the oven. Oh, well. Maybe I’ll cook those today.

At noon, while the pumpkins were cooking and before I found out I was in charge of an entire other meal, I even got some piano in. It was a great day. And now I’ll go eat some pumpkin pie for breakfast. (It’s my own personal tradition on the morning after Thanksgiving. Somehow, I still have room.)

Happy Thanksgiving!

The stuffed pumpkin

The stuffed pumpkin

Here it is open

Here it is open

Abe wrestling our Turkey.

Abe wrestling our 18 lb Turkey. We got it from McDowell Farms.

We used my Great Grandma Cullen's china.

We used my Great-Grandma Cullen’s china.

We had Balu, Clark, Swathi, Karin, Jay, Jere, and my mom here to celebrate with us.

From left: Abe, Mary, Jay, Karin, Balu, and Lydia.

And Jere!

And Jere!

 

Clark carved for us.

Clark carved for us. Swathi smiling and looking beautiful next to him.

He did a great job.

He did a great job.

Post dinner conversation.

Post dinner conversation. Everyone was full of food…

At which point, I passed out.

At which point, I passed out. That is why I am blogging now instead of last night.

Busy-ness

Between cooking school, piano, my reading (Fawzia Koofi’s autobiography is constantly in the back of my mind, although I can only bear to listen to it in small spurts), mothering, and Thanksgiving, I feel like the first bird Noah sent out of the ark; there’s no place for my poor brain to rest! Everything I think about feels like another to-do item or a motivator. My bed and I are experiencing relationship drift, and that concerns me. Once Thanksgiving is done, I will add SLEEP as a to-do item.

In the meantime, I raced through today. This morning found me frantically trying to get my homework done before my mom had to leave on errands. Once that was done, I put Mary down for a nap and took Lydia down to the basement to craft. When I realized I was turning out crafts that looked alarmingly similar to the products my two year old was producing, I called it quits and sat on the couch for the rest of craft time.

I thought our class field trip was today, so I mistakenly drove to Muir Farms instead of school. By the time I realized my mistake, I was totally lost deep in the middle of an industrial complex. I called Abe, who directed me back to the freeway, and then almost got into a wreck on the way to school.

In the meantime, Lydia was home saying cute stuff to Abe. At one point, Abe took something away from Mary, and Lydia reprimanded him, telling him not to grab. Abe ceded the point to Lydia and confessed that she was right; he shouldn’t grab. With a sweet, sympathetic smile, Lydia said, “It’s okay, Daddy. I have been grabbing too. I try and try and try to share with Mary, but sometimes she has something that I want, and I go like this: [prolonged scream here].”

Here are some pictures from today:

The first thing Lydia asked when she woke up this morning was: "Is Nana still here?" They cuddled. Truth be told, the girls were too excited to sleep after my mom arrived yesterday. I finally let them get up so that they could give her hugs. Mary hugged my mom repeatedly until 2am, at which point I tore her away and made her go to bed.

The first thing Lydia asked when she woke up this morning was: “Is Nana still here?” They cuddled. Truth be told, the girls were too excited to sleep after my mom arrived yesterday. I finally let them get up at 1:00am so that they could give her hugs. Mary hugged my mom repeatedly until 2am, at which point I tore her away and made her go to bed.

Shandi, for you. This is a "Brazilian blow-out."

Shandi, for you. This is a “Brazilian blow-out.”

Lydia helped make pie dough this morning.

Lydia helped make pie dough this morning.

It was nice out today, so we spent some time outside. The girls did not need to be this bundled, but Lydia insisted on wearing her puffy coat. She also claimed that the hood kept her cool.

It was nice out today, so we spent some time outside. The girls did not need to be this bundled, but Lydia insisted on wearing her puffy coat. She also claimed that the hood kept her cool.

Our dearly beloved landlords. Words fail me to describe their goodness. Think of the nicest people you've ever met and then multiply by 1000. That might be just about accurate.

Our dearly beloved landlords. Words fail me to describe their goodness. Think of the nicest people you’ve ever met and then multiply by 1000. That might be just about accurate.

They insisted on taking pictures of Mom with the girls.

They insisted on taking pictures of Mom with the girls.

On my way out the door, Mom caught a glimpse of my chef clothes and ran for the camera.

On my way out the door, Mom caught a glimpse of my chef clothes and ran for the camera.

Hair and friends

Today my friend, Rose, sacrificed her morning to give me the gift of tame hair. It was such a sweet gift, and I felt grateful that someone cared enough about my hair problems to a) notice them b) smuggle stuff back from Brazil with the intent of fixing them c) notify me that (b) had taken place, and therefore that (d) needed to take place as well, d) spend six hours (!!!!!) putting product in and out of my hair until the end result was nothing short of perfection. Today I was a grateful recipient of a kindness that I can’t ever reciprocate. Thank-you, Rose!

After I returned home, I scarfed down some food and sneaked in some piano practice, after which I fed Mary and then picked up my friend, Savanna. She’s in town this week from D.C., and even though she’s only staying with me Friday night, I wanted as much time as possible with her. I kept trying to convince her to spend Thanksgiving with me instead of her family, but so far my efforts seem to be in vain…

Then I came home and submitted the most sub-par menu for my online class imaginable. I have zero technical ability and no access to fancy programs on my computer (I don’t even have Word), so my menu is ridiculously, embarrassingly simple. If I ever do open my dream restaurant, I better do a better job than what I submitted tonight.

Here are some pictures my mom took while she watched the girls ALL morning. (THANK-YOU, MOM!!!!)

Okay, I took this one. Mom and Mary were just cute together.

Okay, I took this one. Mom and Mary were just cute together.

I took this one, too.

I took this one, too.

After I left, Mom let Lydia and Mary play with bubbles.

After I left, Mom let Lydia and Mary play with bubbles.

Mary enjoyed this activity.

Mary enjoyed this activity.

Not sure what the cup has to do with the bubbles, but Mary appears pleased.

Not sure what the cup has to do with the bubbles, but Mary appears pleased.

Mighty pleased!

Mighty pleased!

Lydia also got new postcards from her missing cat. (My relatives are taking pictures of him in different places and sending Lydia postcards from him.)

Lydia also got new postcards from her missing cat. (My relatives are taking pictures of him in different places and sending Lydia postcards from him.)

Lydia LOVES these postcards.

Lydia LOVES these postcards.

Here she is doing a happy dance with her stuffed animals because cat sent her a postcard.

Here she is doing a happy dance with her stuffed animals because cat sent her a postcard.

Help arrives

I have been feeling overwhelmed lately. There’s just a lot of stuff going on! Today I wanted to clean the house before my mom arrived, but I just had too much stuff to do. After I sent Abe a rather desperate email, he sent me an email saying that he booked a maid service to arrive in two hours.

It’s amazing how news that help is on the way can reinvigorate you. Before I found out about the maid service surprise, all I wanted to do was lie down. After I found out help was coming, I raced around the house picking everything up so that when they came, they would spend their time deep cleaning and not doing so much cosmetic stuff.

And deep clean they did! I was thrilled and delighted beyond words to see the top of my fridge clean, underneath the stove clean, surfaces scrubbed and polished…it might as well have been Christmas.

What with the house all beautiful and clean, there was no way I planned on messing up the kitchen by feeding my children. No sirree. Instead, I packed them into the car and we met Abe at Canella’s, where Mary and I stuffed ourselves on my favorite pizza in town and the BEST chocolate beet cake I have ever had. Actually, I’ve never had chocolate beet cake before, but I’m sure if I had had it, this would have been better. Not only was the cake luscious and moist, but the ganache frosting was so thick it basically felt like I was eating truffle with cake. Mary and I fought for the last piece (she won).

Lydia was so tired she slept through the whole experience. Abe put her on his lap several times and tried to shake and talk her awake, but she didn’t even open her eyes. Maybe our afternoon snack of alphabet cookies and clementines was laced with some sort of sleeping drug, because the minute I loaded them into the car (around 6:oopm), she was out. And she never woke up…when we got home, I just put her straight to bed.

Lydia asleep at Canella's.

Lydia asleep at Canella’s.

After that chocolate cake, we said goodbye to Abe (since he was just passing through on his way up to Boise) and went to go pick up my mom from the airport. She looked so beautiful and radiant, and I am so happy to have her home again! (Although I don’t mind sharing her with you, Grandma!!) Mary remembered her too, and they spent the whole evening laughing and playing together.

Of course, I have pictures.

Lydia watching Elmo while Mary plays with the wastebasket and her stacking toys.

Lydia watching Elmo while Mary plays with the wastebasket and her stacking toys.

I was ignoring Mary while doing my cooking school homework this morning when I heard her giggling uncontrollably. I turned around and saw this.

I was ignoring Mary while doing my cooking school homework this morning when I heard her giggling uncontrollably. I turned around and saw this.

While the maid service was here, I took Lydia onto the front steps to eat a snack. She had fun playing after our snack.

While the maid service was here, I took Lydia onto the front steps to eat a snack. She had fun playing  after our snack. Here she is jumping on our walk.

While we were eating, Lydia turned to me and exclaimed, "It's beautiful outside today!" This is Lydia holding her "favorite" leaf and examining an alphabet cookie.

While we were eating, Lydia turned to me and exclaimed, “It’s beautiful outside today!” This is Lydia holding her “favorite” leaf and examining an alphabet cookie.

We spelled her name with cookies.

We spelled her name with cookies.

Mary and Mom and had a joyful reunion.

IMG_5319 IMG_5322 IMG_5323 IMG_5317Hi Grandma! I love this scarf from Mom, and she said you'd want to see it on me. We are thinking about you and wish you were here!

Hi Grandma! I love this scarf from Mom, and she said you’d want to see it on me. We are thinking about you and wish you were here!

Low-key Sunday

Well, Alison (of Mormonmomma) got back to me today, and so I got the opportunity to revise my post so I feel slightly less hypocritical when she publishes it. Phew.

Other than that, today was a low-key day. Church was awesome, and every single talk in Sacrament meeting had me riveted. If every Sacrament meeting were like today’s, it would be my favorite hour of our three hour block. As Abe and I were discussing the talks on our way home, our neighbor waved to us. We rolled down the windows to chat, and he asked us what we learned in church. It felt great to spread the great messages we heard on gratitude and availing ourselves of Christ’s power in our lives.

Then we came home, ate lunch, napped, and bid Abe good-bye. I hate it when he leaves. After he’s gone, I’m okay, but the actual part where he leaves is no fun. I considered going on this trip with him, but that’s not possible because this is Thanksgiving week, and my mom is flying in tomorrow! Also, Clark and Swathi are coming on Wednesday, and I have friend plans on Tuesday. But for a minute, I hated the thought of Abe leaving so much that I almost forgot all that and considered packing us all into the car with him…

After he left, I lay in bed trying to figure out when I will get the time to make the ornaments I want to decorate this year’s tree with. Last year, Martha Stewart had a how-to for beautiful felt ornaments with a woodland theme. At the time, I couldn’t fit making those into my holiday schedule or budget, but I am determined to do it this year. The current game plan is to order all the felt, roving, and materials tomorrow and then squeeze the ornament-making in as soon as the stuff arrives. In my view, the point of being a stay-at-home mom is being able to find time for stuff like making my own child-friendly Christmas ornaments, so by golly, I WILL make it happen this year! (Last year, we decorated with some pretty “To and From” tags my mom picked up at the bookstore. I thought the tree looked beautiful, but I don’t think those tags will be in quite the same shape this year…)

A sealing and Diwali

Yesterday Misty called the house offering me an extra ticket to The Hunger Games movie. Since I have not charged my cell phone for a month and was in class, I didn’t get the message until I got home and it was too late. Darn! But the good news is, Abe had called three different babysitters for help today, and since none were available, Misty–who was up late due to The Hunger Games–agreed to babysit for us today. We love Misty.

The reason she had to babysit is because Kristin, one of our friends from Chicago got sealed to her husband, Adam, in the Oquirrh Mountain Temple today. It was a beautiful, joyful occasion. Adam joined the church after dating Kristin, and their sealing was so special to attend. Kristin looked beautiful and radiant, and Adam looked so comfortable and at-home that you would have thought he’d spent all of his life in the temple. To top it off, Abe and I got to see the Oquirrh Mountain Temple for the first time. It is stunning! I was hoping to find a link which even somewhat captured the view from the temple: Mountains literally surround it. No matter where you look, mountains dominate the scenery. It is spectacular. The link I attached does not do a smidgeon of justice to the setting, but at least you get to see what the temple looks like (on the outside).

Then we visited our friends at their reception afterward and ate our weight in delicious desserts. Before the sealing and during the reception, Abe and I hit it off with a senior missionary couple who had just returned from a mission in Chicago, where they had met our friends. This sweet, elderly, white couple from Utah would spend their nights walking around Englewood (in Chicago) to share the gospel. And they loved it–although they did admit to being uncomfortable at times. If you don’t know anything about Englewood, it’s one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in Chicago, and you just don’t see older white people walking the streets there. Talk about getting out of your comfort zone! They were so fun to talk to, and Abe and I are looking forward to having dinner with them and our friends sometime in the not-too-distant future.

After that, we came home to discover Mary walking around and laughing delightedly with every step. I think she likes being around Max, who is the world’s sweetest, most unfussy baby. What great taste.

Then we dressed the girls in their Indian dresses and headed over to Diwali. Truth be told, both Abe and I just wanted a minute to rest, but some of our friends had gotten us tickets (unbeknownst to us), and so we kind of had to go. It was fun to see the Indian dancing, which has become one of my favorite things to watch. But to be honest, mainly I was stressed out at the thought of how the church was going to get clean before tomorrow morning. The woman in charge of making that happen had been up since 4:30 am working in the temple, and everyone else in attendance was not LDS and therefore, I assume, unfamiliar with our custom of cleaning up after every activity. I was also stressed because my kids had not eaten and the food was delayed, and hungry children aren’t generally easy to handle. Finally, we gave up waiting on the food, left early, and made a stop at Smith’s on the way home.

Turns out we might as well have stayed at Diwali because I was stumped in front of the sushi counter. By the time I made up my mind, both kids were wailing wrecks, and Lydia was so tired she cut dinner short and begged to be put to bed. She bargained herself out of a bath by promising to go potty instead, and five minutes later she was asleep in bed.

After they went to bed, I was in an extra grumpy mood because I discovered I have a C in my online menu class in cooking school!!!! Can you believe that? I missed a recent deadline because of an honest technical glitch, but I absolutely don’t expect the instructor to believe me. So I did the assignment I missed, but I am resigned to the fact that my grade will probably not go up much since I completely missed the deadline. I don’t think I have ever had a C in my life, and I can not believe the first one I get is going to come from cooking school.

Time for this grumpy lady to go to bed before additional sleep deprivation makes me extra grouchy.

Also, time for a Diwali picture dump. Mary spent the whole time racing around the church as fast as she could go (she was trying hard to run, but she can’t quite do that just yet), and Lydia spent the majority of it taking turns in her parents’ laps.

IMG_5269 IMG_5270 IMG_5271IMG_5274 IMG_5275 IMG_5280 IMG_5284 IMG_5285 IMG_5283IMG_5281 IMG_5282 IMG_5276

The Big Confession. I.e., I am a [well intentioned!!!!!] hypocrite.

Okay, I haven’t been able to sleep well since I wrote my little blurb on modesty, so I’ve decided to air the reasons why the post was so hypocritical. Please don’t get me wrong; I believe absolutely everything I wrote, but in terms of “walking the walk,” um, I certainly don’t (or at least didn’t use to) walk it. I intend to do better in the present and the future, but, as many of my previous roommates can attest, I certainly didn’t adhere to those guidelines in the past.

Okay, it hurts to even type this, but after my mission I spent approximately $10,000 on laser hair removal. (The first rounds didn’t work, so I had to start from the beginning in grad school.) Take that, poor people of the world! Also, I’m sure I have spent no less than hundreds of hours trying to tame my hair (and hogging plenty of mirrors…sorry, ex-roommies!). And, as long as I am confessing, during stressful periods of my life, I also have engaged in major spurts of “retail therapy.” A saint in the spending department I am not.

But my studies recently have led me to my present views on modesty, and since life is all about learning and moving forward in continually enlightened states, I am hoping to do better in the future. I hope my daughters will do better than I did in the modesty department, but I guess even if they succumb to the beauty culture that saturates our society, that’s not the end of the world, right? Hopefully they can keep learning and moving on, too, and I hope I can give them and everyone else lots of room to do that. (Also, if any one of them wants laser hair removal, I WILL fund that for them. I’ll try to offset that offensive spending by serving missions from age 50-death.)

Okay. Lots more skeletons in my closet, but at least those are the ones that kept me up at night recently. Maybe I can finally sleep well tonight?

Also, in terms of today, it has an icky feeling about it. Abe got some really bad news in his private off-the-blog life, and I just feel so sick for him. He’s so resilient and optimistic, but it pains me to see such a good person endure a trial.

Before I heard his bad news, I let Lydia have “do-whatever-you-want” time, which is different than quiet time because she’s allowed to leave her room. It was an experiment, and it worked! Lately, she’s had an allergic reaction to the start of “quiet time,” and even though once it started she appeared to have fun, I just felt bad about how much she didn’t like starting quiet time. Anyway, the only rule in “do-whatever-you-want” time is that she can’t interrupt my piano practice, and she did great! She even wandered into the living room and played near me at times, but she never interrupted. Considering I got in three hours of practice and made dinner, this was a toddler feat.

Also, all I did during practice was try to memorize the really simple, one page Traumerai. I can not even begin to describe how difficult that simple task was for my burnt out brain. After all that work, I doubt if I try to play it from memory tomorrow I will succeed. Well, who even knows if I’ll get a chance since we have a four-hour wedding and then Diwali in the evening.

That’s my cue to post pictures…:

Cookie break at Whole Foods this morning.

Cookie break at Whole Foods this morning.

Post-lunch, pre-nap play.

Post-lunch, pre-nap play.

Better go get the phone!

Better go get the phone!

Mommy, it's for you!

Mommy, it’s for you!

Lydia waiting for me to stop taking pictures and start reading to her already.

Lydia waiting for me to stop taking pictures and start reading to her already.

a many-pictures day

Abe is working out right now, and I am so jealous. Maybe I’ll try to work out Saturday and see if that doesn’t land me in the hospital. In the meantime, I have spent hours of today in bed. It snowed today. I took one look out the window, put the girls down for their afternoon quiet time as fast as possible, and crawled under my covers. Half of our house doesn’t have heat, so I have to use a space heater next to the bed. It makes for such delicious toastiness that it was only with the greatest reluctance that I responded to Lydia’s cries of “Mama, I pooped in my paaww-ttyyyy!”

Since I spent so much of the day in bed, I got a lot of reading done. I’m still going at Harvard Square, although I have mixed emotions about it. Mainly I’m reading it because the characters are so different than I am that I appreciate a glimpse into their minds. I also sneaked in a couple of stories from Black Folktales here and there, and I’m enjoying those quite a bit.

I got in a couple more hours of practice after Abe got home, and after the girls went to bed, he helped me figure out what I’m doing for each round of the competition. I keep revising what I’m playing because the competition guidelines say you should not play pieces that are similar to each other or play pieces from the same era. Well, that’s a trick, especially if you’re a Chopin fanatic. Here’s what we think so far:

Audition tape: Mozart sonata, K. 331

Round 1: Italian Concerto, mov. 1 (Bach), Traumerai (Schumann), La Campanella (Liszt)

Round 2: Scherzo in b flat minor (Chopin), Sonata no. 1 (Ginestera)–movement 1 or 3 because Abe and I are in some disagreement here. He thinks, with the exception of Traumerai, this line-up is exceptionally lacking in lyricism. He’s right. But the only way to fix that, in my opinion, would be to play a Chopin nocturne, and I really don’t want to trade in my beloved scherzo for a nocturne… so anyway, I’m considering doing the slow movement of the Ginestera, even though I’d rather just relearn the first movement. I have to decide soon, so hopefully I can figure it out before the deadline passes me up.

Did anyone see that poetry slam by Lily Myers on women’s body image? I watched it weeks ago when it went viral, and one phrase keeps coming back to me: “…calories to which she does not feel entitled.” Especially since I can’t work out right now, I walk around with this cloud of guilt that I have eaten food today. When I review what I actually ate, I didn’t really binge on anything–or even eat chocolate (yet!)–but it is a little strange that I feel guilty for eating at all. Maybe all women feel this way? Or maybe just us lucky ones who have serious self-image issues?

Abe and I took a TON of pictures today. Here they are:

Lydia grabbed the whole box of cat cookies and proceeded to comfort a crying Mary with them.

Lydia grabbed the whole box of cat cookies and proceeded to comfort a crying Mary with them.

Mary was surprised.

Mary was surprised.

Lydia was in a charitable mood this morning.

Lydia was in a charitable mood this morning.

So was I, sort of. It snowed, and after Lydia begged and begged, I finally agreed to get the girls bundled and let them play (for five short minutes) outside.

So was I, sort of. It snowed, and after Lydia begged and begged, I finally agreed to get the girls bundled and let them play (for five short minutes) outside.

I comforted my cold self by taking cute pictures.

I comforted my cold self by taking cute pictures.

Lydia was thrilled to be out of the house. Maybe I should let her out more often...

Lydia was thrilled to be out of the house. Maybe I should let her out more often…

While I practiced, Abe took the girls on a ride in the laundry basket.

While I practiced, Abe took the girls on a ride in the laundry basket.

Here's Lydia showing Mary how to climb in the bathtub.

Here’s Lydia showing Mary how to climb in the bathtub.

Here's Mary trying hard to climb in.

Here’s Mary trying hard to climb in.

Abe taught Lydia how to do Downward Dog tonight.

Abe taught Lydia how to do Downward Dog tonight.

Mary wanted to try, to.

Mary wanted to try, to. My two little Yogis.

almost forgot

I almost forgot to blog today. Sorry, Grandma! I was just about to head to bed when Abe asked me if I was going to blog, and I realized that I didn’t take any pictures today, so I actually have to write something.

Let’s see…Lydia had preschool this morning. Apparently she spent most of it eating. There’s something about eating in a group setting that helps her zero in on food. I think Fallon and Paige probably thought I didn’t feed Lydia breakfast, because apparently she spent almost all of preschool sitting at a table eating chocolate graham crackers.

While she was at preschool, I typed up my blog for Mormon Momma. I haven’t heard back since sending her the draft, but I’m glad it’s out of my head and out of my system. Unless she gets back to me and tells me she wants stuff changed (I’ve never done a guest blog before, so I don’t know how it works), this is what I have so far:

Bishop Eastland’s recent talk to young women provoked an explosion of emotion among members of the Church, and this outpouring has made one thing abundantly clear:

Many of us are uncomfortable with the way modesty is currently taught in the Church.

We want to promote virtue in society, but we are tired of sexist philosophies that unduly burden our women with confusing directions on how to successfully navigate the territory of “sexy modesty.”

We are eager for our daughters to understand that they need not advertise their sexuality to feel validated in our sex-sick society, but we also ardently wish that church leaders would be continually. unequivocally, even aggressively clear that no outfit gives any man the right to sexually exploit a daughter of God.

Many of us are searching for a better, clearer, more Christian way to teach the principle of modesty to our daughters. As I have studied the scriptures, one thing that has become increasingly apparent to me is that modesty might be less about hemlines and more about where our heart is. Christ, our Exemplar, spent his ministry caring for the poor and enjoining us to do the same. Could we begin to teach modesty by drawing clearer correlations between our purchasing power and our ability to help the poor? For me, modesty in our consumer habits is a purer, truer manifestation of discipleship than whether our unendowed women elect to wear a tank top on a hot day.

As disciples of Christ, should we be spending so much time and money on our appearance that we are unfamiliar with the humanitarian box on our tithing slips? Do we purchase so much stuff that we need closets the size of small bedrooms? If so, why? Why, when there are people suffering in the world for want of basic necessities, would a disciple of Christ make purchasing decisions that place selfish desires above our ability to help others?

Here’s why, in Moroni’s opinion: “For behold, ye do love amoney, and your substance, and your fine apparel, and the adorning of your churches, more than ye love the poor and the needy, the sick and the afflicted.” (Mormon 8:37)

When I teach my daughters about modesty, I will teach them that their deportment reflects their discipleship. Yes, I will tell them that they are women of substance who need not heed a worldly, overtly sexual dress code. But hopefully I will spend more time explaining to them why their shopping habits may differ from their friends’, and why I hope they feel no need to preen for hours in front of a mirror. I hope that if they are sufficiently equipped with skill-sets and a strong desire to study the word of God, they will opt out of a beauty culture that would lay claim on all of their spare time and resources.

We are disciples, and disciples have real work to do. There is room in this work for everyone, and I hope as we go about doing the best we can to align our purchasing decisions with our discipleship, we will forgo the temptation to judge fellow brothers and sisters who might not feel the same way as we do. My one fear is that this mode of teaching modesty could make us susceptible to unrighteous judgment when we notice people who may appear to have laxer standards in their purchasing habits. In all cases, the Lord’s counsel to Samuel of old is a great reminder:  “… for the Lord aseeth not as bman seeth; for man looketh on the outward cappearance, but the dLord looketh on the eheart.” (1 Samuel 16:7)