Late nights and early mornings

It’s me, Abe, again!  Lily doesn’t know it yet, but I’m blogging for her so when she gets home at 11:30 from cooking school, she can go straight to bed.  She also doesn’t know it yet, but I’m staying up for her tonight because we haven’t seen much of each other lately and I miss her.  I do wake up at 5:45, but I’m sure somehow that will sort itself out.

Work is going extremely well, thanks to lots training and divine intervention. I ended last week feeling bad at my job, and this week I had a training that gave me knowledge on how to progress.  I’ve prayed a lot for help and I’ve worked at applying the training I’ve received and so far I am on pace with my goal of setting one meeting per day for a sales representative.  Today ended on a positive and dramatic note when after a whole day of not setting a single meeting, my last phone call of the day turned into a meeting set.  Yay!

Lily literally  recapped her day for me in two and a half minutes as we met and did the car swap in front of her school.  I’ll probably butcher this, but here is what I remember:

She visited Marilyn Brinton, with her new visiting teaching companion, Jen.  Lily completely adores both Marilyn and Jen and loved spending time with them.  Then, Lily fed the kids and cleaned, went to the Library, fed the kids and cleaned, practiced some piano, fed the kids and cleaned, did some homework, fed the ….you get the idea.   Our children eat a lot and I marvel at Lily’s ability to keep the kitchen clean.

After briefly meeting up with Lily I took the kids home and fed them (I cleaned after they went to bed!).  After dinner, Clark and Swathi faced timed us which was super fun!  No one got a word in except for Lydia who dominated the entire conversation either talking about her cat or talking directly to her cat and expecting us to watch the interaction with rapt attention.  Swathi, Clark and I all made solid efforts to exchange complete sentences, but alas we could not compete with dear Lydia’s passion for her cat combined with her love for attention.  I think the reality is that we were all quite entertained.

I’m going to crawl into bed and buy a white elephant Christmas gift for one of my friends.  We postponed our exchange to February 1, and somehow that still did not give me enough time to be on top of things.

If Lily has the energy, she may add to my post when she gets home.

It appears we didn’t take any pictures with our camera tonight.  Ciao!


This morning I fed the girls, practiced, and took them to Institute and the library. At Institute, both girls went to nursery. They did fine until Lydia had a little run-in with a friend, and Lydia burst into tears. At the sight of Lydia in tears, Mary became inconsolable, and I could hear her soundtrack an entire floor down. But I got to attend most of Institute before that, and it was awesome. The curator of the BYU museum of art talked to us about the Carl Bloch exhibit, and I am now dying to go.

Our institute is packed, and so parking is hard. I thought I’d found a great spot today, but when I came out, I discovered a ticket! Did you know you can’t park within 20 inches of a crosswalk? I sure didn’t. I wasn’t blocking the crosswalk, but I guess that wasn’t good enough. I guess I know now.

By the time we came home, the girls had gotten a second wind, so I played with them for another hour before putting them down. Then I did my usual climb-into-bed deal for a nap and some reading. I started Good Lord Bird, and even though it is rather humorous, I already know I’m not going to finish it. Besides, it’s due tomorrow.

When the girls woke up, we ate, cooked, colored, played, read, and I sneaked in more practice (while they ate). Then Abe came home and we had a lightning fast FHE.

Since yesterday was the State of the Union, I decided to do a lesson on our president. I remember when I was a little girl, one of my greatest friends and teachers was my next door neighbor, Ruth. She was in her 90’s, and she was a wonderful listener. She also had a way of gently correcting that never felt like a reprimand but still had great sticking power. On one occasion, I remember going over and saying some negative things about Clinton to her. Ruth responded by telling me that she was from a part of Indiana where the people are called “yellow dog Democrats,” meaning if a yellow dog was on the Democratic ticket, they would vote for it. She said that once she remembered saying something bad about the Republican president, and her mother immediately replied that the presidential office is worthy of our respect and support, no matter who holds it.

I haven’t always acted on the principle Ruth taught me that day, but it’s always in the back of my mind during political conversations. Abe and I read the twelfth Article of Faith to the girls (“We believe in being asubject to bkings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in cobeying, honoring, and sustaining the dlaw“) in the hopes that they learn to respect our leaders and honoring all efforts to uphold our democratic system. In order to drive the message home, we played parachute. By now, Abe and I joke that we can relate parachute to any gospel principle; this time it was, “We should uphold our leaders just like we will uphold these objects…in the air over the blanket!”

Then I ran off to Bikram with Anique. Thank goodness she drove, because I felt so sick afterward, I don’t know how I would have made it home. The room was packed, and so maybe the extra bodies drove the temperature up. Whatever it was, I did not feel good afterward and am only now starting to feel somewhat normal.

Here are the pictures from the day:

Ever since Santa brought Lydia her cat back, Puss has played and ever more central role in Lydia's life. She has full-blown conversations with him all day long, and he is her favorite thing to discuss with other people. Mary has picked onto this, and when Lydia is feeling sad, Mary has started bringing her her cat. This was after a sad event with a tower Lydia was building, and Mary was cheering her up.

Ever since Santa brought Lydia her cat back, Puss has played and ever more central role in Lydia’s life. She has full-blown conversations with him all day long, and he is her favorite thing to discuss with other people. Mary has picked up on this, and when Lydia is feeling sad, Mary has started bringing her her cat. This was after a sad event with a tower Lydia was building, and Mary was cheering her up.

Everyone is cheered.

Everyone is cheered.

I snapped this picture and then joined in. That left corner of the blanket needed some help!

I snapped this picture and then joined in. That left corner of the blanket needed some help!

Happy Birthday To Me!

Today was my thirtieth birthday and it feels like kindof a big deal.  I feel like I just lost the last part of me that felt sort-of young.  I mean, when I was in my twenties, I was lumped in with college undergrads etc., but now I’m lumped in with the thirties, which I’m sure is even a cooler group, but it does feel like a change!

Lily and I each had great days today.  I had an awsome training session at work that gave me a lot of insight on how to succeed, and at home Lily was, well, accomplishing crazy amounts of stuff.

Her day started off with a two and a half hour playdate with Paige Anderson and her daughters Ada and ‘Liv.  After that Lily somehow managed to practice piano, feed the children, clean the entire house, write me an incredibly touching birthday letter, make me a happy birthday door poster, paint me another happy birthday poster and finally set Lydia up with paints so she (Lydia) could paint me a happy birthday poster.  The crazy thing is that when I arrived home, she said she was not tired because she had rested during the day……….when?

But I have to say, all her efforts to make the day feel festive really changed the complexion of the day for me.  At work, most people didn’t know it was my birthday, and so not much of a deal was made (I’m still very new), but at home I felt truly celebrated and I thank my sweet wife for that.

As soon as I got home, we had dinner with my mom and Jay at the Spaghetti factory (per my request).  I love the Spaghetti factory at Trolly Square because spaghetti speaks to my inner child and yet the atmosphere is classic vintage.  It’s hard to explain.  I just love how it feels there and the food is great.  Dinner conversation was very delightful with topics ranging from Obama raising the minimum wage to 3-D printing to why Payton Manning deserves to win the Super Bowl on moral grounds (because he’s such a dog gone awsome guy).  At the very end of dinner, it was time to go, but Lydia wanted to eat more of her Spumoni ice cream.  Lily told Lydia that she could take five more bites and then it would be time to go.  Lydia quickly took four bites and then, before she could take the fifth, she froze and started gazing into space.  We all assumed she had just acquired a massive brain freeze and then after her period of gazing she finally piped up, “I feel cold, does anyone else feel cold?”  It is truly hard to recreate how funny it was when she said that, but we all got a great belly laugh.

Now it’s time for bed.  I’m eager to get to work tomorrow and start applying what I learned in training.  Pictures!!IMG_6405 IMG_6403 IMG_6402 IMG_6399 IMG_6394 IMG_6393 IMG_6391 IMG_6390 IMG_6389 IMG_6387


This morning I woke up and prayed a lot for strength to make it through the day. It seemed like there was a lot to do, and I was tired and a little overwhelmed. But I really felt God answering my prayer. I got most everything done on my to-do list, and I enjoyed doing it. It feels unusual, so I feel pretty confident there was divine intervention along the way.

The morning was filled with feeding children, cleaning, homework and practicing. At one point Mary was crying because she wanted my attention, so I picked her up and talked to her. I asked her if she wanted to read (vigorous head shake no), if she wanted to play with her bugaboos (slightly less vigorous head shake no) and if she wanted to play with her blocks (a little sound that sort of kind of sounded like “yes”). Hopeful that she wanted to play with blocks, I put her down.

Sure enough, off she toddled to her blocks and proceeded to play with them until Lydia announced that she loved Mary and wanted to play with her. This announcement was greeted with a squeal–nay, scream–of excitement, and the two of them spent the next half an hour playing happily together. I wanted nothing more than to watch, but I knew that would ruin the dynamic…and I had homework to do, so I just listened delightedly. When I was done with my homework, I sneaked into their room and caught a picture of them in play.

IMG_6381Then I folded laundry until our play date. I had scheduled a visiting teaching play date with my companion and visiting teachee, but I never informed our poor visiting teachee that the play date was at my house. I wanted to spare her the descent of five small children and two adults upon her home, but since I never relayed that intention, our play date included everyone but our visiting teachee and her daughter. Oops.

But here are the pictures from the play date:

IMG_6382 IMG_6385 IMG_6383Doesn’t Mary look a lot like those twins? They are a week younger than Mary, and the three of them look like they belong together.

Then I rushed off to cooking school. While I was learning about soups and eggs, Abe took the girls to a Thai restaurant in Lehi where they met up with Karin, Jay, and Jay’s kids to celebrate Jay’s birthday. Abe tells me the girls were perfectly behaved. I felt bad because I forgot they were going to do that, and I didn’t bother to put shoes on Mary when I loaded her into the car to go to school (where Abe and I meet and pass off the girls). She walked around the restaurant in her socks.

mary at restaurant lydia at restaurant jayOh, and at cooking school, my group decided to do our presentation on fried foods. I have never truly fried anything in my life (unless you count when the oil is barely a quarter inch deep), and I’m covering tempura. I just nodded and smiled like there’s nothing more in the world that I’d love more than to research and do tempura, but inside I was dying a little bit. But I do love to eat tempura, so maybe this won’t be so terrible…

church and visits

I enjoyed church a lot today, and one sister made a comment that reminded me of one  of my mission leaders. The sister today talked about how mundane tasks like laundry and dishes are actually opportunities to serve our families. That reminded me of a comment one of my mission leaders used to make about how doing the dishes was one of her primary avenues for becoming more Christ like. (She must have done a lot of dishes.)  I took that reflection to heart and did a LOT of dishes tonight. The laundry…is still piled up in a closet. Maybe tomorrow?

Also, my awesome visiting teachers visited me today. I love their visits. I just love being ministered to, and I always feel uplifted by their company. And now I want to go see Saving Mr. Banks because Erika recommended it so highly.

We had Balu over for dinner tonight, and since it was just him, we skipped the potty training conversations he normally endures and just went straight for the good stuff: Indian politics, American politics, the joys of living in Utah, and his new T.A. job.

I took very few pictures today, but Mary was looking cute before church, so I snapped these:

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boom, boom, boom, boom, zzzz….

After getting to bed after midnight last night, I woke up at 5:30 am, rushed out the door to yoga, met up with Misty, and did Bikram. It was so awesome to have Misty there–I was so excited that I lost my balance about a million times. Either that or the sleep deprivation made me extra clumsy. But it was so great to do Bikram with Misty, and I was DYING to know what she thought about it, but I had to skip out of class before the cool down so I could shower and make it to the competition team for culinary school.

The competition team is the best kept secret at school, as far as I can tell. You get free instruction from a chef on whatever you want to learn, and today the ratio was: 1 chef to 2 students. Yes.  Chef told me that I could research anything I want to learn–as in, if I want to learn about lobster, let him know a couple days ahead of time, and he will have fresh lobsters for me to practice on. My jaw dropped. Can I repeat? This was free. Free instruction, free food, free practice, and the school will pay for all of my competition fees.

There is a catch, though, and that is until we start gearing up for the competition, I have to be in charge of what I want to practice. As I wandered through the storeroom, my mind felt completely blank. I couldn’t decide what skill I wanted to practice, so finally I just cut down three chickens and worked on making tamales with my teammate.

One of the competitions I will enter will be entirely about plating. I have a long way to go, right? Right.

One of the competitions I will enter will be entirely about plating. I have a long way to go, right? Right.

One of the competition rounds I will enter is called a cold salon. All the food is inedible and coated with aspic, and most of the food that I saw looked like it would taste gross. But apparently preparing for this competition will enhance my knife skills and make me more competent at plating, so I’m game.

While I was at cooking school, Abe took the girls to the park. The three of them experienced sunshine for the first time in weeks. Abe was worried the girls would get cold, so in addition to dressing them in their snow pants, he put two coats on each of them. When they fell, they had to wait for Abe to come get them because they had so many layers on, they couldn’t get back up themselves. Mary was also excited that he put Lydia’s hat on her–it meant she got to chew the strings all morning long!

IMG_6373 IMG_6359 IMG_6365 IMG_6368 IMG_6372Then I came home and napped for a minute before we turned around and headed out to the Arnold Friberg exhibit at the Gateway. Tom has been telling us we should go for a while, and today we finally got a chance to go. It was incredible. I don’t think I fully appreciated Arnold Friberg today, but the exhibit is breathtaking. Arnold Friberg totally mastered the epic moment, and if we hadn’t been on a time schedule, I could have stayed there for hours. I seriously regret not taking more pictures of the paintings, but I am comforted that no pictures would have done the exhibit a hint of justice (although they might help preserve the memory for me!).

lily and mary chapstick arnold frieberg tom and lydiaLydia got into the exhibit when we started telling stories about the paintings and asking her questions. But she was hungry, and it took a lot of effort to stave off a tantrum.

After the exhibit, we drove to the library, only to realize our cards were at home. Dang. So we drove to Sprouts and did some grocery shopping before heading over to the Skarda family’s home for dinner.

We had so much fun with BOTH Skarda families! Jonathon and Michael are brothers and their families live in the same condo building, so we had a pretty full house between the six adults and six children. It was a total blast, and Abe and I left full of food and happy from the company. I felt like a hobbit after a happy feast.

Then it was groceries, gas, children to bed, and now, blog and bed. I am so excited to lie down and go to sleep.

Oh, also! I need to post my picture of Misty’s valentine hearts from yesterday. I didn’t help craft them at all, contrary to Abe’s report yesterday. No, instead I simply admired how cute and Pinterest appropriate they looked, and I took pictures on my now dead phone. Hopefully it will be recharged before I blog tomorrow.


Finishing week two of new routine

Abe here!  I’m blogging in Lily’s place since she will be in school until almost midnight and then she is getting up at 5:30 am tomorrow to do hot yoga before a four-hour cooking school event.  Yikes, she sure is packing it in!

Things are still going well after week two of our new routine.  Lily has been rocking on her new reduced budget by being creative, frugal and frankly cooking lots and lots of beans, which I love, so it works out great!  She is also enjoying her cooking school especially now that she is actually cooking.

Today Lily spent time at Misty’s house and she (as usual) gushed on the phone to me about how much she loves spending time with Misty. It sounds like the play-date went really well, other than the spinach-pineapple smoothie that Mary dumped all over herself (requiring her to return home half-naked under her coat).  Lily has some really great photos of some crafting she did with Misty, and those pictures will be posted as soon as Lily gets them from her phone.  After the play-date, Lily went home, fed the girls, read to them, played piano and worked on homework.

As for me, the new job is going really well. I love the company, love the product, love my co-workers and love the culture. I will also say that it is certainly harder than I expected, but I truly enjoy the challenge.  Something about my ego makes me assume that I will walk into situations and naturally be better than everyone else.  At Qualtrics, I’m finding that I’m surrounded by so much talent and drive, that quite frankly, if anything I will have to work harder than the next guy to get ahead.  Yet, I am o-k with that.  I really feel Qualtrics is where I’m supposed to be and it’s just so easy to feel good about a place that has unlimited free burritos and Seagram’s sparkling lemon water…..mmmmmmm………..IMG_6357 IMG_6342 IMG_6344 IMG_6345 IMG_6347 IMG_6351 IMG_6356


hat day, mother sauces, stock and chocolates

Oooh boy, these late night classes are late. I just got home and it is a quarter to midnight. Yikes! But I do love learning. Today we learned about the school’s competition team, which meets Saturday morning. I would love to join, but right now I feel so tired it’s hard to imagine trying to fit that in. I guess we’ll just have to see.

It feels like forever ago, but this morning I took the girls to the library for story time. The theme was “hats,” and at the end the librarians brought out a ton of hats for the kids to wear. They set up a little footstool next to a cardboard Woody so the kids could all have their pictures taken with Woody. Here are the girls:

library hat library mary libraryAfterward, I let the girls play in one of the little play caves. There were a ton of kids there, and Mary really wanted to climb a popular set of stairs. She stood there staring longingly at them for a while until Lydia cleared a path for her. My shy little Lydia came over and in a loud, confident voice said to the kids, “Get out of the way! Get out of the way! Come on, Mary. Good job, Mary!!” She led Mary up and down the stairs, and the other children kindly cleared out of the way.

Then we came home and ate, read, and played. Mary took a short nap, and I didn’t want to believe her nap was over when she started crying, so I took her into bed with me. It worked, and she slept ten more minutes. I’ll take it. Plus, I got to cuddle my baby, so it was really a win-win.

My favorite quote from class today was, “Nutmeg is the thug of the spice world.” (We were making the mother sauces, and this was in reference to our treatment of the bechamel.) I actually didn’t practice any of the mother sauces because I ended up doing the class’s stock, and that took almost the whole time. Between the twenty chicken carcasses and attempting to deglaze giant sheet pans (while the fumes from the alcohol burst into flames all around the pans), I was a little busy. I am a wimp about fire, and I learned that I will have to get over that. The worst part was when a giant pan got stuck in one of the ovens; to get it out, you have to pull with ALL of your strength while your hands are in the hot oven. It feels…dangerous.

So anyway, I’ll see about Saturday. The team meets from 8am to noon, and that’s right when I try to make it to yoga. So either I could wake up earlier and go to the 6am yoga before the team meets, or I could just try running before hand and do yoga on a weeknight. Right now I just know I need to do something, because my class meets at the same time as the chocolates class, and they send plates upon plates of chocolates over to our kitchen. It’s alarming and delicious, all at the same time.



This morning, we went to preschool. Paige ran out for a minute to make copies, and in the meantime I experienced a bit of heaven. It looked like this:

These girls are collaborating on a puzzle. They're saying things like, "Sophia, do you think this goes here?" "Here, Lydia, I think it goes here."

These girls are collaborating on a puzzle. They’re saying things like, “Sophia, do you think this goes here?” “Here, Lydia, I think it goes here.”

I sat on the couch and felt happy.

Then Paige came back and read to the girls. They all loved that:

Ada tried on Lydia's coat and Audrey's boots. They suited her.

Ada tried on Lydia’s coat and Audrey’s boots. They suited her.

After preschool, we raced to the church because, guess what? Institute now has a nursery! I’ve never been to our stake institute class, and I was shocked to find the two parking lots so full that I struggled to find a spot. I was a little late, but today’s topic was Joseph Smith in the Kirtland years (from what I gathered). There was a lot of talk about how the writings of Paul are echoed in the articles of faith and in the Book of Mormon.

Then home for lunch, play, naps, homework, piano and reading (I am in the middle of The Fellowship of the Ring,  and it was with the greatest reluctance that I set that aside to blog tonight).

Somewhere in there, I made another souffle (I am addicted), cleaned the kitchen, fed the girls dinner, and ran some soup over to Anique. We have a little exchange going on, and it was my turn. I am boring and always send over lentil soup, and she sends me all kinds. Maybe next week I’ll branch out…

Here are some pictures Abe took right before we put the girls to bed.

Abe loves this expression.

Abe loves this expression.

Mary with her fake bottle.

Mary with her fake bottle.

:Lydia got tickled. (And at one point, she jerked up and bonked my teeth. I feel so bad because I think she's going to bruise.)

:Lydia got tickled. (And at one point, she jerked up and bonked my teeth. I feel so bad because I think she’s going to bruise.)

Roomie reunion

This morning I practiced my knife skills by cutting a bunch of vegetables for lentil soup. The veggies came out noticeably uneven. Also, upon later consumption, I realized that the soup was unsalted and the veggies were practically raw. Yuck! Then I prepped a sweet potato souffle and rushed to play group with the kids. I forgot to bring Lydia’s bike, but that was okay since we didn’t stay long. My old roommates were in town, and as soon as they called, I rushed out of play group to meet them at home.

At one point I calculated that during my single years I had sixty-eight roommates. Granted, I counted my mission roommates, who would change up every six weeks. I also counted people I lived with for as short as a couple weeks. But I think it’s safe to say that those ten years had a variety of living situations, and during that time, my period with the roommates I saw today stands out in memory as one of the happiest living arrangements of my life. I loved my life with them, and it was truly uplifting to see these lovely, fun, funny, kind, intelligent, affirming women today. Vanessa is expecting baby Tessa in March, and Shandi has two kids, one a month older than Lydia and one GORGEOUS baby who is a couple months old.

Our kids got along great, and I loved, loved, loved visiting with Shandi and Vanessa. Shandi and I even got to play and sing together (she did the singing), and that was SO fun. She has a beeee-autiful voice, and I’d been looking forward to hearing it again for a while. Suffice it to say, I was sad when they left–but so glad that they came!

The rest of the day had some reading, some piano, some tantrums, lots of cleaning, and hopefully now some homework. Here are today’s pictures:

Since Mary is now on a one nap a day schedule, I can go to play group again!

Since Mary is now on a one nap a day schedule, we can go to play group again!

Vanessa, siting on the floor, is due in March. She can do stuff like sit on the floor and wear heels while pregnant. I'm jealous.

Shandi’s kids are Sebastian and Penelope. Vanessa remarked that Shandi could open a children’s boutique named “Sebastian and Penelope.” Can’t you picture it?

Abe watched the girls while I practiced tonight. From the sounds of it, they had some rough moments. But he did capture some good ones here:

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