Jean arrives

The best part of the day was that my friend, Jean Jones, arrived from Boston. I could not have survived grad school without this dear woman, and we had a chance to relive why at parent night tonight for Let’s Play Music!.

Jean came with me to see what the program was about, and off the bat we realized I had forgotten to bring a pen. Jean at first handed me a pen (just like old times!), and then when I kept dropping everything everywhere, she finally just took my papers and took notes herself–for me. I was sitting next to her feelings these surges of love and gratitude for my sweet friend while she diligently took notes on my behalf. I fondly recalled all of the times I borrowed her notes from class and all of the times she saved me by reminding me of upcoming events and what was going on when. She is the finest of human beings, and I am so grateful to have her as a friend.

I have one picture from earlier today. It’s of my mom and Mary snuggling in the morning. They were so cute that I had to get a picture.

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a stressful interaction with the neighbor

Today started off beautifully. Lydia had another amazing harp practice, we got our reading done, and everything was one hour ahead of schedule. I was feeling pretty good about life until the new little neighbor boy rang the doorbell.

I thought about not blogging about this, but since this blog is really for my future children, I figure it might be helpful for them to see what the real stresses of this stage of life are for me. If they ever find themselves in a similar situation, at least they will know they are not alone.

Anyway, this neighbor boy has really very sweet qualities. At the same time, he is very aggressive and scares the bajeebers out of Mary. If it weren’t for the dynamic with Mary, play dates would be fine. I could just let the kids run wild while I cook, clean or take care of Ammon. However, the new neighbor boy physically grabs Mary and pushes her a lot. At one point he pushed her on the ground, spread out her legs and jumped on top of her. After watching that, Abe and I just can not feel comfortable letting him play unsupervised with our children. So I will need to supervise him whenever he wants to play with them–which is daily, for hours. I don’t actually have that bandwidth in my life right now.

So, how to communicate this to his mother? That was my stress for the day. After he rang the doorbell, I spent the next couple hours in a state of distraction trying to figure out what I could possibly say to his mother to communicate boundaries and at the same time help her feel welcome and loved. This was social calculus. For a person with social anxiety to begin with, the stress almost did me in.

To boot, I botched it. Even after praying and role-playing with my mom and Abe, when it came time to actually talk to my neighbor, I literally stuttered. I could not figure out a way to explain that her son climbed on top of my daughter and scared the daylights out of all of us, so I didn’t. I blamed the whole situation on Mary and me, saying that Mary hasn’t learned how to play with boys yet and that I am new to Utah play date culture. Both were half truths. The other halves of those truths are: Mary hasn’t learned how to defend herself from physical attacks yet and I am new to neighborhood Utah play date culture. I am very, very familiar with scheduled play dates with friends, but letting the neighborhood kids run wild in my home every day–that is new to me.

Anyway, I am pretty sure I did not communicate myself well at all, and the whole thing was inevitably insanely awkward. I have been unsuccessfully trying to come down from the stress ever since.

In other news, Abe is having a successful, happy trip in Philadelphia and tomorrow one of my grad school friends is flying in to visit me. Those are happy ancillaries to the stress right now, but maybe by tomorrow they will be front and center happiness fonts.

a true Sabbath

We had a wonderful, peaceful Sunday. It felt like an actual Sabbath. The weather is cooling down, and that makes dinners so much more pleasant. Also, my mom went visiting teaching and got new near death experience books. Hooray! I am going to stop blogging now so I can read a bit before bed.

Anthony gave us this little boat/baby pool contraption last Saturday. The kids are enjoying it tremendously.
Anthony gave us this little boat/baby pool contraption last Saturday. The kids are enjoying it tremendously.
This little guy.
This little guy.
He loves his Nana. He claps and lights up whenever he sees her.
He loves his Nana. He claps and lights up whenever he sees her.

EQ camp-out and canning

Harp practice went so, so much better today and yesterday. It felt like a switch had flipped in both Lydia and me; the practice sessions have been so positive and upbeat. I am so, so proud of Lydia for making that transition.

My phone is full and can’t take any more pictures. If I could have taken pictures, I would have taken pictures of the pickles I have been canning. I am so pleased with them! It was such tremendous fun to come down in the morning and realize the lids had popped while I was sleeping.

I also tried to follow a homeschool seminar for the past two days. I felt impressed that I should try to follow it, but I am a little confused about that impression because the seminar was very badly run. I did learn some things though, and if I put them into practice, then perhaps the lost time will have been worth it.

Abe and his dad went on the Elder’s Quorum camp-out last night. Abe as stressed because he had to coordinate the camp-out, but everything went really well. We are really glad to have him home.

It’s a whole new world

Today was a whirlwind. The electricians came this morning and brought our entire house up to code. After they arrived, we left for yoga. I only went because I fear if I don’t go the class will get cancelled. There are usually fewer than three people in class–counting the instructor.

Then we came home, ate lunch, and had harp practice. Harp practice has taken three hours every day (except today, which took two) since we came back from the Tetons. Lydia was loving the no-practice routine that came with vacation. At one point Abe and I overheard her exclaiming joyfully, “It’s a whole new world without harp practice!”

It has been painful for everyone to get back into the grind, and therefore the majority of our practices are spent in time-out. We maybe get a good fifteen minutes of actual practice in. I can’t even imagine where Lydia would be if we actually practiced for three hours a day. Wouldn’t that be amazing?

After practice, I let the girls play while I fed Ammon. Then we read books and talked about how to tell time. We practiced counting in fives. After that the kids had some more free time, and then we had a reading and writing session. By then it was 5pm, so we tidied the house and I let the girls watch a show while Abe grilled dinner.

Abe had to leave after dinner to do Elder’s Quorum visits, during which time I put down Ammon and got the girls ready for bed. Then we cleaned up the kitchen and the neighbors came over to play for an hour.

It’s been a full day. I feel so, so grateful that I do not need a nap anymore. Not having to nap has made a HUGE difference in my life. I feel like there is a direct correlation between needing a nap and being pregnant/lactation/night feedings. Now that I have none of the above in my life, I actually feel functional. In Lydia’s words, “It’s a whole new world.” 🙂

Behold what Abe and I grew from seed! When we planted our seeds, we honestly did not expect anything to happen. Abe planted a corn field and I planted a box of zinnias.
Behold what Abe and I grew from seed! When we planted our seeds, we honestly did not expect anything to happen. Abe planted a corn field and I planted a box of zinnias.
The dusty pink zinnia, our favorite, broke off today. My camera ran out of memory before I could get a better shot than this, but Lydia was proudly showing me the flower. She then ran inside and found a perfect vase for it.
The dusty pink zinnia, our favorite, broke off today. My camera ran out of memory before I could get a better shot than this, but Lydia was proudly showing me the flower. She then ran inside and found a perfect vase for it.

Oil tasting

Today Abe and I both had rough days. Lydia’s harp practice went very, very poorly, and the bottom almost fell out of Abe’s quarter. We were slightly stressed out.

Thank goodness we had our oil tasting tonight! The babysitter came early enough for us to slip in a swim beforehand. After the swim we were both already feeling better. After the oil tasting, we were completely rejuvenated. We learned so much about olive oil and tasted over twenty different oils and vinegars. We left with two bottles of olive oil from Spain and California, a butter flavored olive oil, a harissa flavored olive oil, and some truffle salt.

Then we came home and tackled our cucumbers. We started the pickling process today. I pickled in cooking school, but I have never canned before. This is new and scary.

We are out of the habit of taking pictures. Luckily my mom took one of Ammon and me. The girls dressed up Ammon today. We thought he looked cute.

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Anthony, Malika, et. al day

On Saturday we had the rare opportunity to visit with Anthony, Malika, Emile, and Asphalta. They live in Switzerland, and so we jumped at the chance to spend time with them. We visited at Anthony’s mom’s house for a couple of hours and then we headed over to Liberty Park where we got gelato, fed the ducks, and played in the streams. The kids all got on beautifully, and of course Abe and I enjoy Anthony and Malika tremendously.

Gelato. They had such great flavors! My favorites were anise hyssop and plum cardamom.
Gelato. They had such great flavors! My favorites were anise hyssop and plum cardamom.

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Duck feeding.
Duck feeding.

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The kids were all a little scared of the ducks at first.
The kids were all a little scared of the ducks at first.
But then Anthony showed them how to conquer their fears.
But then Anthony showed them how to conquer their fears.

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Tetons reunion

Last week we went on a trip to the Tetons. Clark, Swathi, Soren, Sruthi, Vince, Louie, Ginny, Clara and Bea all joined us. My mom hosted everyone at a beautiful cabin in Alta, Idaho.

The first two days after we arrived were a whirlwind of sightseeing the Tetons and Yellowstone, and the third day we all lay around on couches staring at each other. I liked that day the most.

My favorite part of the trip was Thursday night.  We all sat around and visited under the stars. I was wrapped in a fuzzy blanket and drank copious amounts of hot cocoa. We should have done that every night!

I am appalled that I don’t have more pictures. I am hoping that people will send me theirs so I can amend this post and add more. I was very lazy when it came to picture taking on the trip.

Arriving at the Tetons
Arriving at the Tetons
The kids took the Junior Ranger pledge. They actually were completely silent and shy when the ranger asked them to repeat after him, but they did a good job raising their hands. :)
The kids took the Junior Ranger pledge. They actually were completely silent and shy when the ranger asked them to repeat after him, but they did a good job raising their hands. 🙂
Bea and Ammon held hands at Old Faithful.
Bea and Ammon held hands at Old Faithful.
Soren, Bea, and Mary danced Ring Around the Rosy at the general store by Jenny Lake.
Soren, Bea, and Mary danced Ring Around the Rosy at the general store by Jenny Lake.
hugs.
hugs.

Oh, my mom just informed me Swathi has a lot of pictures on Facebook! I will post them below.

Ginny, Louie, and Bea.
Ginny, Louie, and Bea.

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On the day we arrived we took a hike through the Targee National forest. The trail head was down the road from our cabin. This is the road leading to the trail head.
On the day we arrived we took a hike through the Targee National forest. The trail head was down the road from our cabin. This is the road leading to the trail head.

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We got separated from the group at String Lake, but at least the group took pictures! If we ever go back to the Tetons, I am just going straight to String Lake. It's so pretty and the kids loved playing in the water.
We got separated from the group at String Lake, but at least the group took pictures! If we ever go back to the Tetons, I am just going straight to String Lake. It’s so pretty and the kids loved playing in the water.

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Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone.
Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone.

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Old Faithful.
Old Faithful.

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Soren and Ammon made friends!
Soren and Ammon made friends!
We took a boat ride around Jenny Lake.
We took a boat ride around Jenny Lake.
The kids made a little cave for themselves and played in it a lot.
The kids made a little cave for themselves and played in it a lot.

 

And here are my photos of Bear World.

On our way home we checked out Bear World.
On our way home we checked out Bear World.
Bear World.
Bear World.
Bear World.
Bear World.
Bear World.
Bear World.