Today is Soren Raju Llamzon’s birthday! My adorable little nephew made it safely into the world. I thought I had charged my phone, but when I got to class, it was dead. I felt so frustrated not to be in touch with what was going on with Swathi’s labor, but when I got home this evening, these beautiful pictures awaited me:

IMG_20150217_205126 IMG_20150217_211114I am so, so happy right now. That picture with Swathi and Soren is especially sweet. Congratulations, Clark and Swathi! You have a gorgeous son!!!


Swathi is in labor! I am so excited to see a picture of my little nephew when I wake up in the morning. Tonight we’re sending prayers to Swathi for a happy and quick labor.

Today was an all-around happy day, even though three of us are still sick. I worked out at the gym while Abe and the girls to Bazi (our cat) to the vet. At 11 am, near the end of the appointment, we realized with shock and horror that we had forgotten to feed Mary breakfast. She was a crying mess and was begging for us to feed her the doggie biscuits nearby. We rushed home and rectified our sad mistake.

Mary was sad and hungry.

Mary was sad and hungry.

Lydia was happy to be with Bazi for such an extended period of time.Lydia was happy to be with Bazi for such an extended period of time.

After breakfast, we opened the presents Brother Richardson left for the girls. He gave them two oh-so-fun games that we spent the next hour playing.

IMG_1067Then I slept for two and a half hours because of this:


Indeed. I am very bad at pregnancy protocol that expects you to 1) wait 16 weeks or something like that to tell people 2) tell loved ones first. I already told everyone at school that I was pregnant because I don’t want to handle the degreasing chemicals during clean-up. So not only am I bad at keeping secrets, but I just don’t understand the pay-off in waiting. I guess if I end up having a miscarriage, it makes for potentially awkward conversations later, but hey, I’ve already been there!  I already know that there’s nothing anyone can say that I’d find offensive or hurtful in that situation. Everyone always tries their best to be nice, and I find that comforting.

Moving on! Abe drove me to school so he could take the girls to dinner with his mom and brothers. He took some pictures while they were at dinner:

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And then we came home, I took the aforementioned test (oh, yeah–I forgot to say I told my classmates before I took the test. I was pretty sure I was pregnant.).

And now blogging and bed. I hope Mucinex is safe because the last couple nights I have woken up gagging from congestion. I just can’t sleep through the night. Fingers crossed.

Cancun flashback.

Okay, I feel guilty that I don’t have pictures from today. But I do have a TON of pictures from our Cancun trip that wouldn’t load while we were there, and Abe’s coworker sent out a link to a video of the trip that he made. So I thought that I would make today a flashback day and post all of that.

first night dinner by the pool.

first night dinner by the pool.



an interesting structure near one of the restaurants we visited on our Chichen Itza day.

an interesting structure near one of the restaurants we visited on our Chichen Itza day.

Enjoying a park.

Enjoying a park.

On our shopping trip in town.

On our shopping trip in town.

Playa del Carmen.

Playa del Carmen.

Here’s the video link. The beginning has an awful lot of underwater video, but we did see everything in the video of Akumel. I thought the video as a whole did a good job capturing the spirit of the trip and Abe’s fun coworkers.


While Lydia was at Ada’s birthday party, Abe and I took Mary out to eat and then to the Aviary to look at birds.

Eating out. Mary was in a very cuddly mood today.

Eating out. Mary was in a very cuddly mood today.

At the Aviary.

At the Aviary.

Afterward we visited with the Andersons and I forgot to take pictures. Then we headed home for errands–and to pick up Brother Richardson! We are so happy to have him here.

The kids were so tired from the day they begged to sleep from the moment we got home (4:45pm) until now. Abe woke them up and tried vainly to convince them to eat dinner, but we only convinced Mary to play puzzles for about forty-five minutes before she begged to go back to bed. Lydia lasted approximately thirty minutes before she tearfully accused Abe of waking her up and then screamed that we put her back to bed. Both requests were honored in short order.

After the kids were back in bed, Abe, Brother Richardson, and I sat around and talked for hours. It was one of those uplifting, eye-opening, paradigm-shifting conversations that was hard to end. Eventually, Abe and I realized we still needed to prepare our lessons for tomorrow, so we reluctantly bid Brother Richardson good night and then commenced blogging and cleaning so that we can get to our lessons.

This day felt full of fun, love and meaningful communication. I loved it.

Christina’s funeral

Today was centered around Christina’s funeral. It was a gorgeous day for a graveside service. The weather was bright, sunny, and so warm that we didn’t even need coats. It felt like God was bestowing a final blessing on one of His special daughters.

The talks were beautiful, the music was moving, and there was a very special feeling throughout the whole event. Even though the girls spent much of the service walking through neighboring rows of graves, they were quiet the whole time. I chalk that up to the aforementioned special feeling. We were also so happy to see Isabella surrounded and supported by her lovely friends. It’s reassuring to know she has some means of uplift at this time.

Our old ward provided the post-service luncheon. On the way there, I complained to Abe that standard funeral fare is often just as depressing as a funeral itself, but I was happily surprised to discover the Ensign First Ward outdid itself with a delicious meal. Considering very few of them even knew Christina, I felt very touched by it all. I love that ward.

Obviously, we did not take any pictures at the funeral, although afterward I wondered why not. I would have loved to capture the beauty of it–after all, Christina was an ardent lover of all things beautiful, and the tender memories, the beautiful music, and the gorgeous setting epitomized love and beauty. Maybe I should have brought my camera.

On our way home, we stopped by a nearby park. Before we had a chance to take a picture, Lydia peed in her pants. Darn. So we ran home, gave her a bath and had Ramen for dinner. Since I expended zero energy on the meal, I spent the rest of the evening cleaning the house and folding laundry while Abe entertained the girls.

Speaking of the girls, I took Mary to our Salt Lake pediatrician this morning. He guessed that she might have croup. I was also worried about her weight, but after he weighed her and looked at her charts, he assured me that she’s fine. She has always been in the third percentile for weight, and I guess when you’re that low on the bottom, you don’t need to grow much to maintain your percentile.

However, I should have taken pictures of Mary’s cheeks so I could send them to Swathi. By the end of the day, her cheeks have a rash that looks a lot like Fifths Disease to me. If Mary does have that, it really stinks because I am undoubtedly late on this period and starting to wonder if I’m pregnant. I googled what happens to pregnant women when they are exposed to Fifths Disease and got a good scare.  I guess we’ll just have to see.

I will take pictures tomorrow! It’s Valentine’s day, and Lydia is going to Ada’s birthday party. I am sure that will be very cute. Also, Brother Richardson, my old home teacher, is staying with us! I am so looking forward to seeing him again.

On that happy note, there’s a new episode of Downton Abbey waiting for me to watch it. I finished Allegiant today and am looking forward to easing out of that action-packed series. I absolutely loved getting sucked into that, but now that it’s done, I need a way to lower my blood pressure again.

The soup, all thanks and glory be, turned out!

Okay, I am in the middle of Insurgent and am dying to finish it, so I am just going to post pictures of the food from tonight. It was a smashing success. I was so happy.

head cheese and trotter croquette with smoked garlic gribiche, endive and arugula salad, and pickled shallots. I was told it was delicious, but I never worked up the courage to try it (although the veg option, a mushroom croquette, was marvelous).

head cheese and trotter croquette with smoked garlic gribiche, endive and arugula salad, and pickled shallots. I was told it was delicious, but I never worked up the courage to try it (although the veg option, a mushroom croquette, was marvelous).

The soup Roni and I made! It was the universal customer favorite. We felt good about that since all of the other dishes came out excellently. Aren't the bubbles cool? That's what soy lecithin does. I think i'm going to teach that technique at our relief society super Saturday coming up.

The soup Roni and I made! It was the universal customer favorite. We felt good about that since all of the other dishes came out excellently. Aren’t the bubbles cool? That’s what soy lecithin does. I think i’m going to teach that technique at our relief society super Saturday coming up.

Main course.

Main course.

Dessert. I was surprised this wasn't the favorite, especially since it was MY favorite thing. I thought it looked beautiful and tasted delectable.

Dessert. I was surprised this wasn’t the favorite, especially since it was MY favorite thing. I thought it looked beautiful and tasted delectable.

Okay, I have used every spare moment of this day to read Insurgent, and I’m at the climax. I actually feel pained to be separated from my Kindle right now, so that’s it for today folks.

Flaws (and no pictures). An all-around un-fun blog.

Today was another sick day, and I enjoyed all of the time I had with my girls.

Before I go on to The Complaint of the Day, I want to make an excuse for why I think I can write about this. Currently, I write this blog for two primary audiences: 1. Grandma and Mom 2. My posterity.

This complaint is for the benefit of audience number two. I imagine that any descendents of mine will have issues with feeling inadequate at any or all points of their life journey, and I want them to know they were preceded by a maternal figure who was deeply flawed but who still kept faith and tried her best even when facing personal weakness. I don’t want them to despair that they can never measure up to a false veneer of perfection.

Mom and Grandma, this is in no way to say that you have such a veneer! I am convinced that the two of you epitomize the height of all that is good about humanity. It’s not your fault that I think you’re perfect; you just happen to have lived beautiful, inspiring lives.  I hope my posterity feels likewise inspired by your wonderful, sweet examples. But since I am not perfect, I sometimes get depressed at the vast difference between the amazing women who mothered me and the mediocre person I am. I don’t think there’s any danger my kids will grow up thinking I am perfect, but if they somehow emerge with that delusion, I hope this blog will easily dispel that. Also, I think oral traditions in most families tends to turn good ancestors into flawless saints whose weaknesses aren’t ever mentioned, and I don’t want that legacy for myself.

If I recorded this day as perfect and lovely in every way, that would be a lie. It wasn’t, and I wasn’t. I was having a great day until my Relief Society president came over for a visiting teaching interview. By the time she left, I was upset and deeply annoyed. Those feelings aren’t a reflection on her as a leader but rather a reflection on my awesome habit of getting offended easily.

My whole day felt off after that visit. Abe and my mom listened to me vent for a loooong time. I did feel better after talking to them, but every time I think about the visit, I get upset again. I know Jesus would forgive perceived injustice–the source of my upset–especially when the offending party happened to be a good person trying to do her best. I recognize my Relief Society president is an amazing person who is exerting with all her might to do good, minister and serve. I can see that.

But I am still struggling to like her. And I am praying that God changes my heart so I can forgive something that probably doesn’t even merit forgiveness. I am hoping that when I wake up in the morning, I am filled with charity and warm fuzzies for my good leader.

In the meantime, I’m venting (yet again) on my blog. Sigh.

And I don’t even have pictures to end on an upbeat note. The girls were terribly cute and endearing though. I got lots of warm fuzzies from them. (Although Mary did punch me in the nose when I tried to give her an ugga mugga while she was chowing down on one of her beloved clementines…)

However! In a strange and happy twist of fate, my partner and I slam dunked our dish tonight. I will have pictures of our soup tomorrow, but tonight was one of those rare school nights where I tasted (!!!!) success. That was happy.

resolution fizzle and a suckling pig

Lydia was sick today and Mary was an emotional train wreck after missing her big nap yesterday, so we stayed home all day. This morning I had grand resolutions to be the Best Mom Ever and patiently refereed fights and tantrums in between reading the girls books and playing games with them, but at about 10:30 am I petered out and stuck the girls in front of Veggie Tales. I spent the rest of the day in front of my Kindle reading Divergent. I would resolve to be the Best Mom Ever tomorrow, but I want to finish the book now. Maybe Wednesday?

School was great. I absolutely love my partner, Roni. She looks exactly like one of Raphael’s cherubs, and on the first day of class she endeared herself to my heart by whispering to me that the class was aggravating her issues with anxiety. I felt an immediate connection, and we have been exchanging secret, pained smiles ever since.

We made the turnip pear soup I practiced this weekend. The chefs enhanced it by instructing us to make rosemary bubbles, pear fluid gel, and charred pears. It is quite tasty.


Talking to Nana:

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My chef showing us how to break down a suckling pig. I gave thanks to God that I was on soup. My classmates had to make disgusting things like headcheese and stuff from the “trotters,”, and the main course is absolutely revolting. They basically rolled up the side of the pig, stuffed it with yet more pig and cooked it sous vide.

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Sunday cooking, gospel musing, and Jack Daniels for Grandma.

The last couple nights I fell asleep early on the couch and then spent half of the night watching Downton Abbey or reading until 3 am. It’s such a bad habit, and I fell asleep early again tonight, but hopefully I make a responsible choice and go straight to bed when I finish blogging.

Considering today was the Sabbath, I did an awful lot of cooking. The thing was, all of it felt necessary. I had started a beet cake yesterday that begged to be finished, I had mushrooms and crab that were going to go bad if I didn’t stuff the former with the latter, I had to practice a turnip pear soup for class tomorrow, and I have been craving baked lemon ziti for days now and just had to finally make it. So basically, I spent the whole day cooking.

It turns out my home cooking doesn’t count towards an internship, and since we haven’t heard back from Communal, I have forfeited the rest of my Saturdays this quarter to working at my chef’s pop-up restaurant. All that to say, I didn’t feel like I needed to take pictures of anything I made…except for the beet cake.

It turns out I love candied beets! They were so easy, too. Even I couldn't mess them up!

It turns out I love candied beets! They were so easy, too. Even I couldn’t mess them up!

I had extra batter and turned out a couple cupcakes too. Mary ate two big ones. I didn’t protest because she still fits into the same clothes she wore this season last year. Size 12-18 month clothing fits her perfectly. Since she’s now 28 months, that seems slightly concerning.


I don’t know if the cupcakes helped, though. She burned a lot of energy dancing with Abe all morning long.

She liked going under the tunnel.

She liked going under the tunnel.

They tried to reverse roles, and it didn't work quite as well.

They tried to reverse roles, and it didn’t work quite as well.

The girls were really tired during sacrament meeting today, and we went to great lengths to keep them entertained…

Lydia plastered her face in stickers. Abe took this picture in the hall en route to the potty.

Lydia plastered her face in stickers. Abe took this picture in the hall en route to the potty.

I loved all of my meetings today. Our neighbor gave a great talk on family prayer, and afterward I chatted with some ladies and discovered a lot of people around here have the habit of reading scriptures to their kids over breakfast. I don’t know why I don’t do that! But they assured me that it works great. By the time breakfast is done, their kids are usually prepared to be reverent for family prayer. I think I shall try it.

Abe gave a great lesson on Jesus’s messianic mission.  When Abe and I discussed the lesson before class, we were struck by how many temporal problems that man with palsy had and yet Jesus’s first action item was to forgive his sins. Our takeaway: Reconciliation to God should always take precedence over all else in life.

Almost the whole class participated in the lesson and gave great comments. I think the class took away something different than what Abe and I discussed beforehand, but I loved the direction the class went. The class really latched on to the idea of how collective faith can work miracles. One man in the class had actually acted out this scene for a church film, and he choked up as he relayed how it took unified effort to lower the man through the thatch roof safely. I learned a lot.

In Relief Society, we had a lesson about prayer. We read Ezra Taft Benson’s teachings on the subject. He was the United States Secretary of Agriculture before he was called to be prophet, and I was impressed that he started all of his department meetings with prayer. His political colleagues recorded that they felt awkward at first, but that this habit helped them put aside their egos and try to do what was right for the country. I’m sad our times have changed so much. I can’t imagine that anyone would dream of doing such a thing these days.

Then we came home to more cooking, cleaning and FHE. By the time we had FHE, I was asleep on the couch. I hope being present counts, but I won’t have any reason to blame my kids when they become teenagers and want to sleep through FHE themselves. Abe and the kids discussed death, a topic I so frequently talk about that Lydia has become nothing short of a theological prodigy on the subject. Not only have I ingrained in her the potentially mortal danger in even the most benign activities (only the other day she told me that she held on tight to Summer while playing with her so that she wouldn’t die), but we have discussed everything that happens after the fatal event occurs. She can explain exactly what happens to the body and the spirit after we die, and she is a veritable little genius when it comes to discussing the resurrection.

…And that’s where her precociousness stops. I highly doubt she could explain any other gospel concept with any sort of coherence, but death and resurrection? She has those down!

A lighthearted moment after the heavy talk.

A lighthearted moment after the heavy talk.

A light anecdote for you, Grandma! I forgot to write about this on the day it happened, but Abe was making calls at work, and he talked with one man in South Carolina who invited him to have Jack Daniels with him if he ever is in town. Abe told the man he was Mormon and didn’t drink, but then Abe mentioned that he had a ninety-plus grandmother who had Jack Daniels every day. They both got a kick out of that. You bring us laughter and light, even from a distance. We love you!

A Restful Day

Abe here, blogging. I don’t know why I haven’t pitched in more lately, but Lily is asleep on the couch, so I seems this would be a great time for my to finally cary my weight……..even if it’s just a little!

Today was very restful for everyone.  I had a grueling week at work and Lily had trouble sleeping last night, so between the two of us we rested quite a bit.  Although, in between naps we did manage to do some fun things!

During Mary’s nap I took Lydia to the park.  It was so warm I had to take my jacket off and just be in my T-shirt.  It’s so crazy that it’s this warm in February.  I jokingly said to someone at the park today, “don’t you love summer?” I would have enjoyed it even more if I didn’t just watch The 11th Hour and hear Steven Hawking tell me that the worse case scenario for global warming is that we become like Venus where it is 250 degrees and rains sulfuric acid. Even still, I did feel grateful to be enjoying such nice weather, even though it seemed so out of place in February.

At home I rested and then Lily watched the girls while I got Georgia’s car registered.  While waiting I prepared for my lesson tomorrow about Luke 4,5 and 6 and Matthew 10. I think the main take away that I’m hoping to prevent is that Christ can solve our spiritual and temporal problems, but we often forget which of the two problems are most important.  Our spiritual state is almost always more urgently needing attention than any temporal needs we have. This was even the case with the paralyzed man with palsy for whom Christ forgave his sins first and then afterwards caused Him to walk.  Anyway, I intentionally only prepared one main point I want to get across, because the class members are amazing and I know they will fill the rest with their own thoughts, feelings and experiences.

When I got home, we all left for the library and checked out some books.  Back at home, Lily made a delicious beet, grapefruit, and cheese salad. It was incredible, especially because the grapefruit was so sweet.



Lydia was passed out on the couch during dinner and never actually woke up. We transferred her straight to her bed…so here’s to hoping she doesn’t wake up at 3:00 in the morning wanting dinner!

After dinner, Lily spent some good mommy-daughter time with Mary and read her some books.