A perfect Spring day

Really, it was. This day felt perfect. Having sunshine made all the difference! Even though Abe and I anticipated being zombies because we got so little sleep last night, both of us had great days. We credit God and the sunshine for that. That the girls were really quite adorable all day long helped too.

I got in: a walk to the library, baby book club with Misty, a nap, reading more in The Triple Package, a lot of homework, some ironing, a long walk with Abe and the girls, Bikram yoga, cooking a veggie phyllo roll, picking up the house, doing laundry, folding some laundry, feeding the girls three meals, setting the girls up to craft and watercolor, reading to the girls, a couple phone calls with my mom and grandma and even forty minutes of piano practice. It was an abnormally productive day. As my dad used to say, “variety is the spice of life!” This day had spice.

On the Abe front, he had another tremendous day at work. He raved to me almost the whole walk about how blessed he feels and how there is literally not one part of his day that he dreads. He looks forward to every task at work, and great stuff is basically falling into his lap for no reason other than that God must be looking out for him. Obviously, he’s doing his part, but he can not remember a time in his life where he has felt so abundantly blessed by an outpouring of God’s love.

The girls are cute. Mary said “Nana” to my mom on the phone today, and Lydia is very concerned about my grandma’s health. She kept asking how Grandma was feeling and doing. Here are some pictures Abe took of the girls while I was at yoga:

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Fast Fast Fast

Everything in life is fast right now.  On the way to work I listen to 6 chapters in 3 Nephi for my ward’s 40 days of Holiness.  As soon as I walk through the door at work, I juggle prospecting expectations, trainings to attend, product learning, meeting preparation, meetings to attend and general housekeepings.  I leave every day feeling like I’m leaving a mountain for the next day.  Don’t get me wrong, I love my job.  It is very fast.

Lily’s life is fast as she chases around our daughters, prepares for her piano competition, goes to school full time and keeps food on the table.  Today, chasing the kids involved a play-group Easter Egg hunt for the kids.  It looks like they had a lot of fun.

As usual, I met Lily halfway at her school on my way home from work.  It was so nice to see her, if even for a moment.  At home, it was dinner, bathing, night routine and then cleaning.

I will say, there was a moment during the children’s night routine when everything slowed down.  It was right around the time that Lydia was having Puss bark like a seal and I had a moment where I just looked at her and felt pure joy.  There she was. So perfect, innocent, playful and happy, in her own little world.  Watching her be happy brought a flash of my own childhood joy and it was like drinking from a well of youth for my soul.  I love my children.  Lydia also explained to me that she wants Daniel to stay a stuffed animal because tigers are scary, but Puss and Tabitha can grow up and become real in about a year just like the velvatine rabbit.  Meanwhile, Mary has been stacking all of her blankets and stuffed animals into one corner of her crib so she can try to get a let up on capitulating herself out of the crib.  I had to take away everything except three small blankets, a pillow and a tiny stuffed animal for fear that she would actually succeed.


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In Remembrance of Norma Darais

I am not ready for my grandmother to be gone.  It was four days before she passed away that I committed to visiting her every week on my lunch break.  I wish I had known my time was ending to spend time with such a remarkable person.  I know she is on the other side.  I know she watches over me.  But on my side of the veil, I am left to enjoy her through my memories.  These are the things I remember most about my sweet grandmother.

1.  When I was about seven years old, I had a sleep over at her house and she taught me Alma 37:37, “Counsel with the Lord in all thy doing and he will direct thee for good.  Yea, when thou liest down at night, lie down unto the Lord that he may watch over you in your sleep.  And when thou risest in the morning, let thy heart be full of thanks unto him.  And if ye do these things, ye shall be lifted up at the last day.”  I just did that from memory.  It was the first scripture I ever memorized and still I remember it from all those years ago.  I chose it as the scripture on my missionary placard because it has meant so much to me over the years.  I can still visualize my grandmother quoting it with energy.  She would always recite things with enthusiasm and gusto, showing clearly the love she had for the gospel.

2.  Towing the line.  My grandmother was always working.  Making bread, making blankets, cooking meals, sewing, writing poetry, organizing the house, reading newspaper articles, calling loved ones, the list goes on and on and on.  When I think of her raising seven children, and the drive she exhibited, even in her nineties, I marvel at the amount of good she accomplished while on earth.  I never once heard her complain.

3.  Trust.  In almost every conversation I’ve had with grandmother in the past few years, she finds away to mention how she marvels at how when she looks back on her life, she sees how God led her from A to B to C.  She has many amazing stories in her life of times where situations were very dire, but God came through for Her in glorious ways.  She marvels at how good God has been to her and how we can trust Him perfectly to work good in our lives.

4.  Amazing Bread.

Grandmother, it is one thing to live a selfless, active and righteous life, but it is quite another to do it with a smile and joy to the very end.  You inspire me in countless ways and I pray to be man enough to build on your legacy.  I love you.

On to less weightier matters, work is going well.  My general morning routine is that my alarm goes off, I don’t care so I keep sleeping, Lily kicks me, I decide she’s right, as usual, and stumble out of bed.  The amazing thing is that it’s working!  One more benefit to having a loving spouse! (o-k, she doesn’t actually kick me, just persuades and gently pushes.)

Work is going very well.  It is so fast paced that my head is spinning, but I closed my first business last week and so far I feel everything is going as planned.  I love my job.  Everyone on my team is very good.  and I love my team leader.

Lily had a good day with the girls.  She went to lunch with Anique and had a very good time. She also skyped with her great friend Liz Nyden. Also, she is reading the new Amy Chua book and absolutely loving it. Mary was fussy today, but she is teething so it is understandable.  We are letting her use her binkie a little more to help her get through this tough time.

And…….Lily is back in school!  Her class for tonight has a really fancy name that is probably French so she will have to update you on that later.  When I got home I took the girls to Smith’s and got them a treat at the bakery counter.  They were giving out whole cookies which each girl got.  Subsequently neither of them ate much dinner and I felt very guilty for not giving my kids proper nutrition. I think I will have a “no giant cookies before meals” rule from now on….but sometimes, especially when I’m tired……….it’s the best I can do to just cave.

After dinner we stuffed Easter Eggs for Lydia’s Easter Egg hunt tomorrow.  Amazingly, both Lydia and Mary were both very capable of and very focused on stuffing candy into the eggs.  I couldn’t believe how good Mary was at it!  After that, I discovered a new wonderful  bath-time activity where Lydia and Mary through the beach ball to each other.



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short post

As usual, we are racing to get to bed because of Abe’s early bed time. I just want to record Lydia’s conversation with Mary after we put them to bed. Mary was crying, and Lydia said, “Mary, don’t worry. Heavenly Father and Jesus and the Holy Ghost are protecting you. Jesus will come down from the sky into your crib, and then he’ll go back up into the sky. You can bless God and get protected.” She babbled a lot more stuff like that, but I don’t have time to remember specifics.

Tom came over for dinner, and afterward we Skyped with Clark and Swathi. Abe took these pictures while we Skyped:

IMG_7275One more thing, mainly for myself so I can remember in case Abe doesn’t get me this cookbook for Mother’s Day or my birthday. I made a soup that I don’t want to forget from Anna Thomas’ book, Love Soup. It’s a red lentil soup with squash, yams, and loads of ginger. I made the root veggie broth for a base, and it was just fantastic. The link shows the soup pureed, but I didn’t do that. Hey, I am paying a lot of money for knife skills, and I wanted to see my little cubes (okay, okay… most of them were more like rectangles) of yam.

Also, another reason this post is rushed is that I’ve been rereading the notes I have from my interviews with Grandma Darais. Every sentence feels like a treasure, and I am so grateful I have this information. I would have liked more, though. Lesson learned. My mom is covering it on the interview Grandma front, but I want my own interviews. Grandma, when I come out, can we do an interview, please? I love you so much!!!

General Conference time again

Today Mary woke up at 5:19 am because she is teething (finally!!!). Since I was already up, I went to 6 am Bikram and then came home and practiced before General Conference started.

We’ve had Grandma Darais on our minds all day. Abe said he doesn’t feel ready for his grandma to die, and he wishes he had spent more time with her while she was alive. He’s going to write his thoughts tomorrow.

I started practicing Claire de Lune tonight in preparation for the funeral or family reception. I don’t know if or when I’m supposed to play it, but apparently I’m going to be asked to play it at some point, and since I’ve never played it before, 10 pm tonight found me picking my way through it. Our neighbors had a late night poker party going on, so they were indulgent and let me practice above them. We looooooooove them. Anyway, this was Grandma Darais’ favorite piece–and I seem to recall my grandma loves it too. Grandma, I thought I could kill two birds with one stone: I’ll prepare this piece for Grandma Darais’ events, and then when we come to visit in May, I’ll play it for you if we can find a piano.

Also, Mary said her name today! It was so cute. I was bathing her and Mary’s toy turtle with little plastic man (Grandma, these are your old bath toys! Remember them?) floated away. She got quite concerned and pointed to her out-of-reach toy and blurted out, “Mareee!” She wanted me to give the toys back to “Mareee.” I tried to have her say her name again, but so far she’s best at saying words when she’s in a desperate situation. When she tries to think about it, the process seems a lot harder.

Here are today’s pictures:

Abe and the girls had a dance party while I practiced. Lydia made sure everyone had a picture she'd colored taped to their tummies...and, of course, the girls had their balloons.
Abe and the girls had a dance party while I practiced. Lydia made sure everyone had a picture she’d colored taped to their tummies…and, of course, the girls had their balloons.
Preparing to watch Conference.
Preparing to watch Conference.
...Or maybe she was just preparing to play in the chair.
…Or maybe she was just preparing to play in the chair.

We love you, Grandma Darais.

Today Grandma Darais joined Grandpa Darais in heaven. We are so thankful for her influence in our lives. In the few short years I’ve known her, I’ve learned so much from Grandma Darais. She loved the Gospel with all of her heart, and as one of her grandsons said as we stood in the room, she loved to break the silence with, “I’m so glad I have a testimony of the gospel!” She would have said that if she could have, I am sure.

Christina joked that when Grandma meets Grandpa in heaven, she’ll say, “I”ve been dying to see you on your birthday!” Today is Grandpa Darais’ birthday, and Grandma Darais was his greatest love. Both Grandpa and Grandma Darais had a special fondness for puns, so I could almost picture that greeting. Whatever was communicated, we know it was joyful.

Here’s one story I learned that I hadn’t heard before. When Grandma and Grandpa Darais first married, they honeymooned near a beach. One day when they went to go sit on the beach, Grandpa wanted to sit up away from the water on dry sand. Grandma didn’t want to sit there because there were cigarette butts and other junk in the sand, plus she wanted to get her toes wet. Finally, she went down by herself to the water’s edge and sat there with her toes in the water and cried. Grandpa sat up on the dry sand laughing and took a picture of her crying. Then he took a selfie (waaaay before that was even a word) of him grinning by himself.

Now, their relationship is remembered by all as extremely loving on both sides, but this little newlywed snafu was a tidbit I thought was cute and worth recording. Abe was actually shocked when he heard the story because it isn’t reflective at all of their long-term relationship, but I think every little memory is worth capturing. Even the greatest marriages have some things to work out (especially at first), and it’s comforting to know that this truly successful couple also had to adjust.

Grandma Darais was an example not only of deep, life-changing faith, but cheerfulness, love, and kindness. She loved good jokes and puns. She came from a long line of break makers, and she ground her own wheat regularly to make delicious bread. She memorized poems and recited verses as apt situations arose. As I’ve been thinking about her, I keep coming back to the fact that she was a lover of all righteousness. She loved the light and good, and her influence was only that. All of her children and grandchildren had a deep, profound love for her, and she will be missed more than words can say.

My heart aches for her surviving children, especially one in particular. It was almost too painful to witness her endure the pain of losing her sweet mother, and she will be in my prayers a lot during this hard time.

They allowed us to bring in the children during the last half an hour of Grandma Darais’ life, but they started getting noisy during the family prayer, so I took them to the hall. Abe stayed and witnessed the passing of his beloved grandmother, and it was hard.

BUT. There really is a but. With a few exceptions, everyone there had a strong testimony that death is not the end, and we are so grateful that we know that. We’re grateful to know that families can be eternal, and in the cases of believers and disciples like Norma Darais, they will be. Her grandchildren impressed me so much as they bore their testimonies around her bed. We were all in tears, but the knowledge that God lives and loves us was truly comforting.

This day was a treasure that I will never forget. I am so thankful I have some of Grandma Darais’ stories written down, and I am thankful I even have videos of her telling them. I had no idea she was so close to the end when I made those. They are a treasure.

Reposting pictures from that special day:

Grandma Darais and mary Grandma Darais and LydiaWe love you so much, Grandma.

A peaceful day

First things first: We had another scare with Grandma Darais today, and we went down to Provo this afternoon to say goodbye. It turned out that we didn’t have to say goodbye just yet, for which we are thankful. There’s still hope she can pull through, and we are praying for her and her children to have strength for whatever comes.

I found out about Grandma Darais while I was walking to the Capitol to meet Misty. The trees are all in bloom, and it was just a lovely walk. We stood in the sunshine and chatted at the end while Lydia and Sophia read a book together. Mary was sick today, so she just sat in the jogger and looked sadly out the window.

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Spring has sprung!
Spring has sprung!
blooms in the neighborhood
blooms in the neighborhood

Then we went to Provo to see Grandma Darais. We came home with Suzanne and stopped by In-n-Out for dinner. The girls got stickers.

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Lydia did not want to eat dinner after her fries, but she did drink some bubble bath…


Mary was feeling sick all evening, so she was extra cuddly. I have the cutest picture of her cuddling with Abe, but it won’t send from my iPad.I did get some of them cuddling in the girls’ room, though. And when I announced that I was going to take a picture, Lydia dashed for her camera so she could take a picture. As a result, I have a picture of Lydia taking a picture. =)

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She need to work on aim...
She need to work on aim…


I am at the climax of my book, The Family, by David Laskin, and I really want to get back to it. So here’s the run-down of today:

We started off by crafting all morning with Jen and her kids. I had a lot of fun chatting with Jen and making another Spring decoration, and Lydia loved wearing Natalie’s princess attire. Mary loved playing with Jen’s baby-proof iPad. We were going to go to Institute, but we missed it because paint takes a bit of time to dry.

Then we came home for lunch and naps. I spent the first hour and a half of quiet time devouring my book, and then I headed downstairs to clean and cook. Also, the piano tuner came today! I switched to a new tuner, and he did an amazing job. I loved chatting with our old piano tuner. He’d tell me stories and tear up quite regularly. He was a lovely, sweet older gentleman, but I wasn’t totally convinced that he was completely competent at tuning the piano. This new guy is amazing, and even though we didn’t sit around for hours chatting and crying (a la our old tuner, Doug,) he absolutely fixed the piano. I’m excited to practice tomorrow.

Then Jen came over for dinner with Natalie. One of her twins got really sick right before they were supposed to come over, so the boys stayed home with Eldon, but we had a ton of fun with Jen and Natalie. Jen regaled us with tales about the Samoan physique (Eldon is Samoan), and Abe and I came to the conclusion that she married a super hero. After one day of weight-lifting, her husband gets bruises on his back because the muscle has already grown that fast! She told us other stories that had our jaws dropping. I guess I never really thought much about the Samoan build before, but I am duly impressed by now.

Lydia told us that she spent the evening tumbling and climbing and giggling with Natalie, but she fell off a chair right at the end and had a little sad moment. We played a bit on the stairs, and I think she ended the evening feeling pretty good.

Abe had a great day at work, but he’s a little overwhelmed with his new job duties. This is his first week in his new position, and there is a ton of information to absorb. Qualtrics has a “clinic”; really just a red psychiatrist’s couch set up by the tech experts. Whenever the salesmen have technical questions with clients on the phone, they go sit on the red couch and get help. Abe visited the clinic several times today.

Right now he’s on a run past down town to retrieve our car from the auto shop. It’s been ready all week, but we never have time to go get it together. So tonight he just decided to run on foot and get it. Oh! There he is! I have to end if I want time to read my book.

Here are some pictures I took of Mary after she woke up. We played for a long time after she woke up from her nap because she was in a great mood. I tried to capture her fun on camera but failed miserably. She loved emptying her pack ‘n’ play of all contents and I kept putting her stuff back in to keep her going. We also played a lot with her binky. She’s only allowed to have it at nap time, and she thinks it is hilarious fun when I put her binky in my mouth.  I put in two at a time and then blew them over her crib, and she about died laughing. I have a video somewhere of Abe playing that game with Lydia to the same effect.

Anyway, here are the pictures, such as they are. Mary was a lot cuter in person.

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Some big tantrums and FHE at Temple Square

This morning was such a whirlwind that I did not get a single picture in. Sorry, Grandma! As soon as the girls woke up, it was a race to get them dressed and fed so that we could make it to our visiting teaching appointment with Marilyn. Thankfully, Jen was in the same boat so we arrived at about the same time (an hour late). Marilyn, as usual, was a joy to visit, although we are praying for her health. Mom, feel free to include her in your prayers.

Then we went to Jump Around Utah to meet up with our play group. I’m glad I know what it is, but I do not think I will ever go again. It was so packed with screaming kids who just mowed down all the littler kids in their paths. It was incredibly stressful for everyone, and by the end I was sweating and panicky and Lydia had the worst public tantrum she has ever had in her life. For the rest of the day she kept telling me that she was sad because her experience at Jump Around Utah was so frustrating. I was just glad we all left without injury; at one point, Mary got flipped on the big bouncing thing in the middle and landed in a really painful looking position.

I came home, fed the girls, put Mary down, and tried to cheer Lydia up with hot cocoa and a ton of snuggling and reading.

After Abe came home, we headed out to Temple Square with Balu for FHE. We took a tour of the Conference Center. I have a whole new appreciation for the Arnold Friberg Book of Mormon gallery after seeing the Arnold Friber exhibit a couple months ago. The choir was rehearsing while we were there, so we got to sneak in a little observation too. The tour was great preparation for General Conference, and we’re hoping the tour will contextualize conference for the girls. Then we went to the Lion House for dinner. Brother Richardson left us a gift card the last time he was here, and it came in handy tonight! We had a lot of fun, and we left the square with Lydia sitting on Abe’s shoulders making up songs about flowers and Spring. In spite of all the other tantrums and meltdowns today (and they seemed to follow each other in rapid succession without much interruption), FHE was a success.

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Then I did some grocery shopping and by the time we came home, the girls were exhausted. One more giant tantrum issued forth from our eldest daughter, and then she fell asleep. It’s been peaceful ever since. Here’s to a more peaceful tomorrow!

A rushed post

Abe is starting to get up at 5:30 to get to work extra early, so we are racing for bed. I tried to email myself a video Abe took of Lydia doing a puppet show, but it didn’t go through. I’ll fuss with it tomorrow when I have time.

Here are the pictures Abe took while I was at Bikram tonight:

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