Packing

I am exhausted from packing for most of the day. The only other interesting thing that happened was Misty’s baby shower at Gourmandise. I love that bakery, and I actually had fun at this shower because there were only four other–nice!–people there, and the food was delicious. The only reason I originally went was because I love Misty, but I came away having enjoyed the whole event thoroughly.

Then it was nose-to-the-grindstone packing for the rest of the day. Well, sort of. Abe and I congratulated each other on how much we were getting done as we drifted off for a two hour nap in the middle of the day, but with that exception, the rest of the day revolved around putting stuff into boxes.

Here are the two pictures from Abe’s phone that we got today:

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Lydia was actually a phenomenal helper. I didn't just make up imaginary tasks for her like I sometimes do. She actually helped me a lot by fetching me things, helping me arrange stuff, and scooping packing peanuts wherever I needed them. She was a doll.

Lydia was actually a phenomenal helper. I didn’t just make up imaginary tasks for her like I sometimes do. She actually helped me a lot by fetching me things, helping me arrange stuff, and scooping packing peanuts wherever I needed them. She was a doll.

The hows and whys and way-too-long ramblings of this move.

I forgot to tell a Lydia story from a couple days ago. We were driving to the new house with Olivia, Chelsea’s daughter. Lydia was telling Olivia her whole life story, and Olivia listened attentively and asked appropriate conversational questions. I was blown away by Olivia’s interpersonal skills, especially because Lydia’s Life Story lacked any sort of narrative arc and kept coming back to this theme:

“I have a Daddy, and he’s really, really tired when he comes home from work.”

“Is that why your mommy has to drive him in her car?” — Attentive, sweet Olivia. (I was driving.)

“Yes. My Daddy is always really tired.” –Lydia, who then pressed on in her strain of desultory conversation wherein Olivia somehow managed to meet her.

Rewind to two weeks ago. Abe and I were in the temple, and Abe sidled up to me in the last part of the endowment session and whispered to me to pray about moving by January first. I was totally blind sided because, bad wife that I am, I thought he loved his commute and was managing to do it all: Doubling his work quota! Elder’s quorum president! 100% engaged father (changes all diapers when home, plays more with the kids when he’s home than I do during the entire day I have with them, etc.)! Unfailingly patient and kind husband! AND A THREE + HOUR COMMUTE FIVE DAYS A WEEK!!!

Somehow, I failed to look outside of myself for the two seconds it would take anyone else to realize no one could do the above list, which Abe has been doing without complaint since January, and not feel exhausted and broken. So there I was, realizing that all this time Abe had been holding in the pain of bearing so many burdens while I traipsed along obliviously. I felt so bad.

So we talked about it, and we decided then and there to move. On Saturday we thought we would find another rental. On Sunday we decided to buy a house. On Monday I found our house (in three hours). Two days later we put in an offer in, a day later it was accepted, and today our financing was approved. Our closing date is Thursday (Abe is going to try to push it to Wednesday), and I have movers and appliances scheduled for delivery on Friday.

I guess in my attempt to make up for the fact that I let Abe suffer so long, I pushed this process into turbo-speed mode, and it has been a little bit of a whirlwind.

Add to that the fact that I have gotten only a couple hours of sleep a night ever since the process started because I am kept awake by vivid daydreams about our new yard. I imagine putting a hobbit hole, a trellis swing, a bounteous English cottage garden, a small orchard–espaliered fences included!–, and a thousand individual plants that I can’t wait to get in that ground. Many of the plants have a lot of sentimental value and are related to you and my memories of your garden, Grandma! Because of you I want gooseberry bushes, hollyhocks, and zinnias. Because of what Mom’s gardens I want peonies, wisteria, clematis, grape vines, lilacs, cosmos, day lilies. I also have a million other plants that I want but won’t list here for fear of boring the bejeebers out of my posterity, should they ever encounter this post. But needless to say, I can not sleep at night because I can actually see the flowers and vegetables in my head, and I get so excited that sleep becomes impossible.

Anyway, all those sleepless nights caught up with me today, and I crashed. I literally did nothing except feed my children and entertain them–from bed. I put on exercise pants at 7 pm when Abe came home and didn’t even bother to change anything else. But I did come to life at Abe’s arrival! I got some more boxes packed, and we both played a bunch with the kids.

Here are some pictures of the girls I took. I took one from bed, as you can probably discern from the weird angle and lighting.

Lydia played dress up with my sewing scraps and embroidery hoop. This is the picture I took from bed. Sad, I know.

Lydia played dress up with my sewing scraps and embroidery hoop. This is the picture I took from bed. Sad, I know.

Lydia lit the way downstairs for Mary with her night light.

Lydia lit the way downstairs for Mary with her night light.

Mary was apparently happy to be shown the way.

Mary was apparently happy to be shown the way.

appliance shopping (i.e., toddler temper tantrum displays galore!)

I forgot to take pictures today! Nothing of note happened, though. I did buy a new washer and dryer for the new house, but I couldn’t have taken any pictures on that outing. Mary was a screaming, crying mess because her nap time was approaching, and I honestly started to wonder if Lydia was possessed. The last couple times I have tried to do anything except shop for groceries or check out books in public, the girls go bananas and lose it. It got to the point where they were tearing Christmas ornaments off of trees–and breaking them. I felt incompetent, and in response, we went home and had nap time/quiet time for the rest of the day. I REM’ed slept so much that it’s 1 am and I’m fresh as a daisy.

Well, not really. Guess I better go to bed. Oh! Cooking school was fun, but for the last couple classes I have had to redo at least one, if not two dishes because I’m careless or impatient. Tonight I had to do my pastry cream twice, and since there wasn’t enough time to redo my pate choux, I’m redoing that first thing tomorrow.

Also, Abe got home! Yay! He had a really successful trip, and I’m really glad he’s back.

Sorry, one more P.P.S. in this disjointed post: I went to the dermatologist today. He confirmed that I had a bad outbreak of eczema because I’ve lost so much pigmentation in my arms. I basically have white polka-dot skin right now — I’m a walking, talking, Minnie Mouse dress! But in all seriousness, it was a good visit. He was very reassuring and I feel like I’ve learned a lot from this whole experience.

Now I’m going to bed and think about all the plants I want to plant in my new yard. That’s my favorite daydream–maybe tonight, those thoughts will replace the horrible nightmares I had during my REM nap!

Veteran’s Day 2014

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

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

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

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

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

With replacement balloons.

With replacement balloons.

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packing day

Considering Abe was gone, today was a really great day. I don’t know what it is, but I think I am more productive when I have to take care of everything myself. Either that, or I cook more when Abe is home, so I get fewer other tasks accomplished.

Anyway, today I had a lot of fun hanging out with the girls, doing errands, folding loads of laundry and packing a ton of boxes. I figured I would have a lot of time to watch a movie with the girls at the end of the day, but everything just flew by so fast I didn’t get to. In my book, that makes a good day.

Here are some pictures:

Lydia helped me pack!

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And the girls had a dance party while I packed (and paused to take pictures):

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Blast from the past

Abe left for D.C. today, and having him gone brought back all the memories I have from his last job. I had completely forgotten what it was like staring down an evening alone in the house with the kids, but to my delight, what happened tonight is nothing like the monotony I recall from being alone during Abe’s Guardsmark trips.

The girls and I cuddled up on the couch and binge watched The Living Scriptures videos, I fed them dinner at 3:30 pm  (much more in sync with their actual hunger cycle, but normally I have to time their meals so we can have a family dinner with Abe), played with them, read to them, showered, got everyone ready for bed, read scriptures with them, prayed–and voila! 8 pm bedtime happened for the first time in six months. Daylight savings helped, but still. It felt great to be back on track.

Then I updated my family tree with some information I got from the Philippine Jesuits and watched this video about a million times. I discovered it a couple days ago and can’t stop watching it. My heart feels so full and achy each time I watch. I guess Chicago will always feel like my authentic home, even though I am genuinely happy to have adopted Utah for the–indefinite–future.

Here are the pictures from today.

playing with/in the suitcases you gave them, Grandma. On a recent play date one of Mary's friends played with this suitcase and Mary freaked out and started crying, pointing to the suitcase and saying, "Gamma Cuwen! Gamma Cuwen!" (Translation: "Grandma Cullen gave ME that!")

playing with/in the suitcases you gave them, Grandma. On a recent play date one of Mary’s friends played with this suitcase and Mary freaked out and started crying, pointed to the suitcase and shouted, “Gamma Cuwen! Gamma Cuwen!” (Translation: “Grandma Cullen gave ME that!”)

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performing the trick she was trying to show you on the phone, Mom.

performing the trick she was trying to show you on the phone, Mom.

baptism, more packing, and a wedding

This morning I took Mary to a baptism while Abe took Lydia to ballet. She was really good until after the actual baptism. While Peter’s dad was conferring the gift of the Holy Ghost on him, Mary lost it and I had to rush out of the room. She spent the next half hour literally running the halls and jumping up and down the flights of stairs in the church. When we got home, she took a four and a half hour nap. Guess that baptism wore her out!

Then I packed a bunch more. Our living room and dining room bookshelves are almost empty, a bunch of kitchen ware is packed, the dining room hutch is empty, and a couple paintings are bubble wrapped and ready to move. I only have to repeat this feat seven or eight more times, and we’ll be all set to move.

We had a minor scare trying to find a babysitter for this evening. I called every single babysitter I knew and even Abe’s parents, but it wasn’t until one of the people I called gave me a lead on a young woman in our ward that I’d never met before that I finally got someone lined up. That freed Abe and me up for a wedding reception.

We went to Cynthia Barlow’s wedding reception at La Caille (and you really need to click on the link to see what that means) and it was the first time Abe and I had ever been there. It was gorgeous. We should have taken pictures, but for most of the time I was enjoying visiting with my friend, Maria. She is so fun to be around, and some of her stories had Abe and me literally crying from laughter. One of my mission acquaintances happened to also be sitting at our table, and it’s always fun to bump into people like that. Overall, the reception was the highlight of our day.

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Flowers from the reception.

Flowers from the reception.

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While I packed, Lydia was outside with Abe collecting petals from all of the dying flowers in the garden. She meticulously collected each petal in this box...and then proceeded to accidentally spill them all. She carefully put them back in, one by one. This picture represents a good hour of her day.

While I packed, Lydia was outside with Abe collecting petals from all of the dying flowers in the garden. She meticulously collected each petal in this box…and then proceeded to accidentally spill them all. She carefully put them back in, one by one. This picture represents a good hour of her day.

A disgruntled call and house pictures

After I visit taught this morning, we headed down to spend the whole day in Orem. I visited preschools, and by the time our preschool hunt was over, the girls were hungry. Enter The Worst Drive-Thru Experience of All Time. And we eat a lot of fast food, so I think that statement has value. As I pulled up to pay, I noticed a sign with a number to call if you have comments about your customer experience. Boy, did I!

Sadly, just as I dialed, another call came through to my phone, so the call was lost. No matter, I thought. I just searched “recent calls” and called the most recent number. A very cheerful voice answered, and I proceeded to rant for the next five minutes about my experience. After I reviewed each complaint a second time to make sure the customer representative was taking notes, the voice on the other end said, “Um, Lily? This is Chelsea. Are you trying to call customer service?”

Chelsea! I had called one of my favorite friends instead of customer service, and she had patiently listened to me itemize my complaints in an aggravated manner twice before I stopped talking long enough for her to clarify my mistake. Oops! I am taking this as a sign from God that I complain too much. When my dad died, he left behind STACKS of complaint letters to businesses, hotels, municipalities–you name it! If it serviced customers, he had complaints to write! I think I might have inherited this tendency. Today’s experience tells me that I might need to reign it in a little.

Anyway, I proceeded to head to Chelsea’s house for a play date. After that, we kidnapped Olivia and took her to our new house during the tail end of the home inspection. After that, we headed back to Chelsea’s for a deeeee-licious dinner of calzones, salad and fruit.

I snapped a million pictures because the listing is now off of real estate sites. Mom and Grandma, I realizes as I uploaded these that I totally forgot to take a picture of the kitchen, but it’s right next to the dining room. Oops! Enjoy anyway, and next time we go I’ll take a picture. I also forgot to take one of the basement bathroom.

basement room in front of the bathroom. We'll put the treadmill here.

basement room in front of the bathroom. We’ll put the treadmill here.

basement room #1. Guest room?

basement room #1. Guest room?

The inspector, Chase and Abe standing in the furnace room. Cute Olivia is in the foreground.

The inspector, Chase and Abe standing in the furnace room. Cute Olivia is in the foreground.

Basement storage closet.

Basement storage closet.

Basement room #2. Office?

Basement room #2. Office?

basement family room with kids play area behind.

basement family room with kids play area behind.

Half of the kids' basement play area.

Half of the kids’ basement play area.

Other half of the basement play room.

Other half of the basement play room.

basement stairs.

basement stairs.

First floor bathroom.

First floor bathroom.

laundry space in mudroom.

laundry space in mudroom.

Mudroom entrance.

Mudroom entrance.

Upstairs bedroom #1. Mom's office.

Upstairs bedroom #1. Mom’s office.

Mom's office's closet.

Mom’s office’s closet.

view from Mom's office.

view from Mom’s office.

Entrance to girls' room.

Entrance to girls’ room.

Girls' room.

Girls’ room.

Girls' room.

Girls’ room.

Mom's bedroom.

Mom’s bedroom.

Mom's bedroom.

Mom’s bedroom.

view from mom's bedroom.

view from mom’s bedroom.

Nursery.

Nursery.

Nursery closet.

Nursery closet.

Upstairs hall closet #1.

Upstairs hall closet #1.

Upstairs bathroom.

Upstairs bathroom.

upstairs hall closet #2.

upstairs hall closet #2.

master bedroom.

master bedroom.

walk-in closet adjacent to master bedroom.

walk-in closet adjacent to master bedroom.

master bath.

master bath.

view from master.

view from master.

kitchen space for fridge.

kitchen space for fridge.

pantry.

pantry.

living/dining.

living/dining.

living/dining room.

living/dining room.

living/dining room.

living/dining room.

piano room.

piano room.

on back deck.

on back deck.

back of house from basketball court.

back of house from basketball court.

looking other way on basketball court.

looking other way on basketball court.

front of house.

front of house.

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our cute mailbox.
looking across the cul-de-sac.

looking across the cul-de-sac.

view from front yard.

view from front yard.

midterm

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

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

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

Mary wanted to wear her wings during lunch.

Mary wanted to wear her wings during lunch.

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Then I napped.

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

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

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

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

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

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

principles for pie dough

I had a primary presidency meeting at the dinosaur play area of the mall this morning, but other than that, I stayed home with the kiddos all day. At the very end of the day, I ran outside and changed the car seats so Abe and I could switch cars. When I came in with the second car seat, I discovered Lydia buckling a happy Mary up in her seat.

IMG_0171 IMG_0172Then I went to class for midterms. It was the most stressful test I’ve had so far! I had to remake several things and I almost asked my teammate to let me pass off her extra pie dough as my own, but I stopped myself mid-proposal. It is really sad that I would trade my principles for pie dough, but in the moment, I felt quite desperate.  However, I stopped myself and rushed through re-making my own dough. Integrity (sort of) saved.

The only thing that I made that kind of came out were these rolls. I was too impatient to wait for the teacher to show me how to knot them, so their shape is wonky.

The only thing that I made that kind of came out were these rolls. I was too impatient to wait for the teacher to show me how to knot them, so their shape is wonky.