Conference Saturday

I had plans to crochet calmly while listening to General Conference on Saturday. Instead, we ended up de-cluttering and deep cleaning the house all day long–while we listened to Conference. I think it started with trip preparation for Yellowstone, and the day just ended up sort of spiraling out of control and into full blown clean-up mode.

The house looked amazing afterward, and we felt so proud and tired.

Of course, it helped that we were powered through by the incredible messages from General Conference.

I felt wholly uplifted and inspired by the talks. I honestly feel that this General Conference has had a more catalyzing effect in my life for spiritual change and repentance than any other conference I can remember. I feel, not just in my heart but in my bones, closer to God because of these talks.

Date night at Ashton Gardens

On Friday Abe and I had the best date. We drove to the Ashton Gardens at Thanksgiving Point. With Clarissa in her stroller, we walked all around the beautiful gardens, including the incredible Light of the World statue garden. This garden is full of life-size bronze sculptures of scenes from the New Testament, and it has a wonderful feeling about it.

One of my favorite parts was eavesdropping on a good dad who was leading his kids around having them recite the scripture stories that go along with the sculptures. My favorite moment was when his toddler ran to the other side of the sculpture and refused to cooperate. This sweet dad used his calm, churchy voice and threatened to “swat his bottom” if he didn’t come back and recite the scripture. The irony in the scenario was just so funny, and Abe and I totally related to him.

My most favorite part was talking nonstop with Abe for hours in the beautiful gardens. We talked about everything and just enjoyed being together so much. It was a beautiful, crisp evening, and we enjoyed every aspect of the setting and our togetherness.

Afterward we drove to Aubergine for dinner before heading home. It felt great to fill our bodies with healthy food, and Aubergine gave further inspiration for future grain bowls.


Ammon in slippers

As we were leaving the house to pick up the girls, I told Ammon to grab his shoes. He thought he was being cute and came out like this:

He loves my slippers! I thought he was pretty cute.

Mary turns FIVE

This is going to be a very long post. I work sort of hard for birthdays, and so I want to capture all of the details. Seeing my kids happy on their birthdays is one of my most favorite things, and Mary was very, very happy on her birthday.

First of all, a just a few things I love about five year old Mary.

  • She has the cutest voice. I mean, her little voice and lisp are the cutest things EVER.
  • This goes along with the first thing, but Mary took charm lessons in her pre-earth life. She has these little mannerisms and facial expressions that are straight out of a child-of-charm book. She’s been this way all of her life, and her charm has only grown with each year.
  • Mary loves to learn! She picks up things pretty quickly, and she always has an eager attitude about learning more.
  • Mary is very affectionate and loving. She writes “I love you cards” to the loved ones in her life frequently on her own volition. They melt their recipients’ hearts.
  • Mary has the capacity to be purely joyful. When she is excited and happy, her emotions shine through in every part of her body. She jumps, skips, laughs, grins, and hops up and down. It is so beautiful to see Mary happy.

On her birthday morning, Mary woke up beaming with excitement and came smilingly downstairs to discover her birthday balloons. I had gotten up early to make her the breakfast she requested: salmon, peas, and rice. I also baked her an apple sharlotka cake so we could sing to her over breakfast. She was radiant, happy, and so cute throughout it all.

After we sang to her, she opened her sewing box before my mom had to whisk Lydia to school. Mary had two requests for her birthday: a sewing box and high heeled shoes like the ones her neighbor friend wears. She wanted a sewing box because, as she declared with her hands on her hips, “Every girl in this family has a sewing box except for me!” 

I didn’t get her the shoes. However, she loved her sewing box! One of my favorite things about Mary is how adorable she is when she is happy. She says thank-you so enthusiastically and practically dances with appreciation while she grins and sometimes jumps for joy. She displayed this kind of adorableness when she opened her gifts, which is one of the reason I got her more than one. I just looooove to watch Happy Mary.

After breakfast, I gave her a break from piano and let her play with some of her gifts. I also let her watch Fantasia with Ammon. Ammon is learning to watch TV!! Glory be and Hallelujah.

Anyhoo, after her carefree morning, I let Mary open almost all of the rest of her presents before serving her her lunch request of broccoli cheddar soup. I made a bunch Tuesday night so that lunch would be a breeze, but sadly, she did not like the leftovers as much as when I first made the soup. Both girls have been getting really picky about leftovers recently. But even if she didn’t like the soup, Mary was still in a great mood when she left for kindergarten.

At kindergarten, she got to be the line leader, display everything she stuffed (and I mean stuffed) into the special show-and-tell box, and distribute unicorn-ring cupcakes to everyone.

While Mary was at kindergarten, I called the Bean Museum to confirm that they were planning on Mary’s party. To my horror, I learned that they expected us to come to them and that there was no way they could send someone to us because they had another out-of-house show at the exact same time.

I panicked. I had called the director and spoken with her directly about the party, so I was shocked at this development. After talking with Abe, I decided to text parents and get permission to drive the kids there. Then I called the director back to let her know we would be coming to the in-house show.

After we picked up Lydia, we returned home and cleaned house for the birthday party. Luckily, I had purposefully scheduled the party at an inconvenient time, so not many kids were a) coming and b) in need of drivers. Abe and I took all of the kids between our cars, and we met up with another little girl, Jakely, (Mary’s best little kindergarten girlfriend) there.

After all of the back and forth between the director and me, I could not believe it when we realized the museum had no idea we were coming and did not have a show planned…!!!!!!!! At that point, I started to honestly wonder whether the director was on drugs. I had just talked to her about the show two hours earlier–twice!!

Fortunately, the guy in charge of the show was able to pull off a spectacular, spur-of-the minute performance. He was absolutely delightful, and all of the grown-ups enjoyed the show as much as the kids. He was a tortoise enthusiast and a whistler extraordinaire, and our favorite part was when he opened up the Q&A by explaining what questions were and what stories were. The kids were supposed to ask questions, not tell him stories. In spite of his numerous, hilarious examples and his detailed instructions, one of the little neighbor girls could not help herself. She raised her hand, and when the instructor called on her she said,


“Is this  a question or a story?” he asked.

Breathlessly, she blurted, “It’s a really quick story!!! IoncesawascorpianinSt.George!!”

Abe and I thought that was so funny.

Anyway, Mary was in her element because the instructor made a big deal about her birthday and let her have triple the turns of anyone else in the game they were playing, and then she got to choose what animal to pet. To our surprise, she picked the snake over the cute tortoise and the interesting dragon lizard. I chose not to pet it.


Then we came home to the piñata, cake, and presents. When we got home, we saw our new neighbor kids outside and invited them to the party. A family of six just moved in. That means we have SIXTEEN CHILDREN on our little cul-de-sac. If you count the house just perpendicular to the cul-de-sac, we have NINETEEN!! And that’s not even going down the street in either direction. We feel so blessed.

So with the new additions to the party, we had a lot of kids to liven up the piñata and everything else. Mary got twice as many turns as anyone else on the piñata, which was fine because her swats barely did anything to the zebra. One of the big kids ended up batting it down.


After the piñata and pizza, Mary excitedly opened the rest of her presents, including a pogo stick from Clark, Swathi, and Soren that was the hit of the party for the rest of the evening.

Mary also got this piggy bank from Baps and Boppa that she absolutely LOVED.

Mary could hardly be convinced to go to bed after that. She was flying so high and so out of her mind with happiness and excitement. Even though birthdays are hard and stressful on the planning/execution end for the grown-ups, it was so worth it to see Mary’s joy. I love this little, over-the-top cute, charming, fun-loving and smart FIVE year old. She is a bright light in our lives.



On Tuesday we did birthday prep. Mary spent the morning stuffing her piñata and playing with the toys that were supposed to go in it. I hope enough toys made it into the piñata for everyone at the party to get some!

In the afternoon Lydia had climbing camp, and after we had dinner. At dinner Abe asked if we were all excited about our upcoming Yellowstone trip, at which point Mary got mad because we were not talking about her birthday. I think I must have said something that upset her (such as “Mary, it’s okay, please just eat your dinner), at which point she screamed that I was being mean and went upstairs. She proceeded to poop in her pants on purpose to get back at me for being so mean. (This was after she pooped all over the floor and her bed the night before. I couldn’t even believe it.)

I spent the rest of the evening in high dudgeon. I told Abe not to wrap half of her presents because I planned on either sending them back or giving them to her at Christmas. Finally around midnight I changed my mind and wrapped the rest of her presents. I have this image of happy Mary skipping excitedly and talking about her birthday all month, and I wanted her day to fulfill her happy expectations–even if she seriously, seriously ticked me off the night before.


Twinkle A

Mondays can be a little crazy because I try to get Lydia up early for harp before school, and after school we head straight to ballet and tumbling. I drop the girls off and head home to make dinner so that we can eat exactly when Abe brings them home. We need to eat right away because Mary has a piano lesson at 6:15, and then we hustle everyone to bed by 7:30. It is crazy.

Mary finally, finally passed off her Twinkle Variation A, though! I was proud of her. Our 100 chart is sort of working. We made the chart after I lamented to Abe that I have no idea how Mary is ever going to make progress, and the chart has really helped her focus and buckle down. I was proud of her for passing off that piece.

Abe took a picture of dinner. I have been reading a cookbook on grain bowls, so we had one. That’s kale pesto, fresh mozzarella, tomatoes from our garden, corn, farro, and maple soy glazed salmon. I want to make more!


Sunday was my last day at home with Clarissa before we start going to church again. I mourned that fact while I was home with her. I have loved the peace and quiet of being home with her. This Sunday was especially sweet because Saturday was so hectic, cold, and rainy. On Sunday Clarissa and I snuggled up in bed while I watched the incredible Women’s Conference from Saturday and crocheted/nursed. It was so warm, sweet and cozy.

Meanwhile, Abe and my mom were busy handling the kids at church. I don’t think their experience was quite as peaceful…

Roaming the halls during Sacrament.

Harp Recital and Cornbelly’s

On Saturday Abe had to get up early so he could drive Lydia to Thanksgiving Point’s Garden Room for Lydia’s harp recital. The harps had to be there by 9am, rehearsal started at 10am, pictures were at 12:30, and the recital started at 1pm. It was a marathon. As Abe sat there sleepily working on his computer at 9am, the teachers tuned the harps.

“That’s right,” he thought to himself, slightly smug. “You made me haul the harp up here this early–you go ahead and tune that harp!”

When he told me this thought, I laughed. Tuning the harp is a chore that doesn’t isn’t performed as often as it should be in our house.

While Abe and Lydia were gone, the kids and I visited the Provo Farmer’s Market in search of Italian plums. There weren’t any! This is the first September since moving to Utah that we have not had plum torte yet, and I suppose it won’t happen at all this year.

Abe and Lydia picked the rest of us up and tried to get back in time for pictures. We were a little late–eep. At that point, Abe was starving because he hadn’t had breakfast or lunch, and so we tried to pick up something before the recital. We ended up missing Lydia’s first piece, but luckily we got to hear the rest. It was a group recital where all of the harpists play together, so it wasn’t like we missed her solo (this is how I comforted myself).

After the recital, we went to the Fall Harvest Festival at Thanksgiving Point. We got there just in time to see a pumpkin break the state record. It weighed 1,066 pounds! While we were there, the girls got their faces painted.

Then we headed over to Cornbelly’s. It was cold and rainy, but we were determined to get our money’s worth and so we stuck it out. We all had a great time.

Then we went to Kneaders. The house got cleaned on Friday, and we were highly incentivized to keep it that way. We finally figured out that if we just never live there, the house will stay clean.


Date night

Abe and I both had great days today. Abe and his team are finishing the quarter pretty well, and I felt relatively functional. My toe seems on the mend again, so I can sort of do stuff again! That meant a bunch of laundry got done and put away, the kids were fed/nursed multiple times, I took the kids to Qualtrics for homework and play after school, and Abe and I went on a date.

At Qualtrics the kids ate snacks, did homework, and played. Lydia showed off her incredible bouldering skills on the climbing wall. Also, I got to visit with Kim while she waited for Lucas to finish up.

On our date we went to the library where I checked out books on knitting, crochet, all the needle crafts, canning and preserving, quinoa bowls, dressing yourself after your body has changed, Tiger babies who struck back, Martha Stewart Cakes, and the best cookie recipes from Gourmet Magazine. After all that, I saw a picture of a newborn baby in a knitted hat and decided I really should just be staring at my baby all day long. This stage will be gone before I know it!

Making it through

On Thursday I mainly stayed home and nursed my broken toe. I attempted to get Ammon to watch TV independently, with moderate success. I feel certain if I could just get him interested in screens my life would dramatically change for the better. So far he is only interested when there is a person right there with him coaching him through the narrative/song/whatever.

I also took Lydia to her harp lesson and made a ton of potato leek soup.

Abe made it through an amazing day, which was incredible since he only had three hours of sleep the night before. It is the end of the quarter and crunch time. He was up until 2am working on deals, and then he woke up at 5:30am with me when Clarissa woke up. He had an early meeting, so he just rolled out of bed and got ready for the day.