Exercises in futility

I decided to clean the house today, which is where the title of this post derives most of its meaning.

When the kids finally went down for naps and quiet time, I finished the skirt for Aria’s baby, Enna. That is where the title derives the rest of its meaning.

If you look at it at just this angle, the skirt looks like it turned out okay.
If you look at it at just this angle, the skirt looks like it turned out okay.
But it didn't. I've made this skirt multiple times for my own girls and others, and so I got cocky and thought I could make it this time without consulting the super simple directions on Made. Then the girls lost my measuring tape, and in addition to trying to remember the instructions, I was eyeballing measurements. Bad call. But I need to bring my sewing machine in for repairs, so I don't have time to start over...Baby Enna will just have to make do, I guess.
But it didn’t. I’ve made this skirt multiple times for my own girls and others, and so I got cocky and thought I could make it this time without consulting the super simple directions on Danamadeit. Then the girls lost my measuring tape, and in addition to trying to remember the instructions, I was eyeballing measurements. Bad call. But I need to bring my sewing machine in for repairs, so I don’t have time to start over…Baby Enna will just have to make do, I guess.

Let’s see, what else happened. Oh, I made paella (with seitan chorizo–my favorite kind!).

I couldn't even believe it, but Mary loved this. I've been so frustrated with her eating lately, but this was a nice reprieve from her mealtime screams.
I couldn’t even believe it, but Mary loved this. I’ve been so frustrated with her eating lately, but this was a nice reprieve from her mealtime screams.

During dinner, Abe told me he had a surprise for me and that he couldn’t wait any longer to show me. He was going to wait until my first day of school (Wednesday!!), but I was lucky and he gave it to me tonight…

A new backpack!! We got my mom a new backpack for her birthday, and Abe saw how much I LOVED her backpack. Ever since, he's wanted an excuse to get me one. Didn't he do a great job? I'm so excited to wear it--I feel ten years younger in it!
A new backpack!! We got my mom a new backpack for her birthday, and Abe saw how much I LOVED her backpack. Ever since, he’s wanted an excuse to get me one. Didn’t he do a great job? I’m so excited to wear it–I feel ten years younger in it!

Let’s see. What else. Well, I did read a little to the girls, and Lydia “helped” me dust upstairs and disinfect the bathrooms. She even helped me vacuum a bit, too. I also too some cute pictures of the girls.

IMG_4901 IMG_4898And I practiced the piano, too. Mary is so cute. She spent a lot of time on my lap trying to play, and she gets really excited about moving the piano lid up and down. When she’s not on my lap, she loves to make a beeline for the stairs. I get my exercise in jumping up from the piano (I always wait until the very last second) and racing to the stairs to make sure she doesn’t fall down them. Today I almost waited too long on one trip and reached Mary just as she started falling down. I tried to play it safe from there on out.

And now, for real, I hope finally to go finish my novel. I start school on Wednesday, and I feel like I might not get another chance to finish!!

Fast Sunday

I took pictures of the girls before church because I figured we'd all be a mess after church. I was right.
I took pictures of the girls before church because I figured we’d all be a mess after church. I was right.

Today was fast Sunday (the one Sunday per month when Mormons forgo two meals and donate the money saved to the poor), and during Sunday School, our teacher talked about the importance of sharing our stories with each other. The lesson was supposed to be a theory-meets-practice seminar on family history, but she turned it into more of a “let’s-build-Zion-by-sharing-our-stories” type of lesson.

On fast Sundays, anyone who wants to can bear their testimony in Sacrament meeting. It is a little daunting to get up in front of 400 people (definitely the biggest ward I’ve ever been in) without a pre-written talk, but today I felt inspired by the Sunday School lesson, so I went up and shared a little of my conversion story. I have never borne my testimony in this ward, and it felt really nice to share my feelings about God with a group of people I have come to love so much.

After that, I came home and zeroed in on my family history. I think I found my great-great grandfather, my great-great-great grandfather, and my great-great-great grandmother today! The connection was so plausible I almost plugged it into my family tree, but I am missing my great-grandfather’s birth certificate, which would clarify it all up. I searched 168 Philippine records, but nothing came up. By that point, I was talking out loud to myself and I was tired. So I called it quits and retired to my bed for…hours.

When the girls finally finished their naps/quiet time, I dragged myself out of bed to make that pot of broccoli soup we all so desperately need. Then it was time to break the fast and feed the kids. I was a little snappy during dinner because I hate/loathe/detest/despise/can NOT stand meal time. Mary cries and fusses because she gets pickier and pickier each day, and Lydia wants to sit next to me or on my lap, which is sweet by stressful. I love her hugs and “I love you’s,” but I don’t like fearing she will knock over her soup into my lap at any second. However. her ability to eat anything (today she happily ate the dry rind of last week’s Gorgonzola and pronounced it “good”) gives me some comfort in the wake of Mary’s inability to eat anything that doesn’t contain sugar.

Abe noticed my distress and sweetly offered to give me a massage after dinner, and both Lydia and Mary came over to “help.” It was very sweet, and made better by the fact that after the massage was done, Abe watched the girls for the rest of the evening so I could play piano. With all that luxurious time, I went crazy and played through a ton of old pieces that I haven’t touched in more than a decade. I hope God understands that even if it wasn’t specifically Sabbath oriented, at least I feel like a happier, more loving person when I’m playing.

When that was done, I cleaned the kitchen and went upstairs for Family Home Evening. (Tomorrow night we are going to be in Snowbird with Abe’s mom and step dad, so we had FHE today instead.) Abe taught a lesson on fasting, and then we played parachute because fasting is supposed to help us “rejoice” more deeply. Playing parachute helps Mary and Lydia rejoice; clearly, it was an appropriate follow-up to the lesson.

IMG_4894 IMG_4892

yoga, errands, and a temple trip.

After going to bed late last night, I dragged myself out of bed before the kids woke up so I could go do Bikram yoga. It was the greatest way to start my day, especially since I have been living primarily on m’n’m’s and apple pie lately.

When I came home, I discovered Abe and Lydia about to play hopscotch in their jammies. Afterwards, they picked the rest of the tomatoes in the garden and ate tomatoes and cheese on the lawn. Of course, I had to get a picture.

Jammies. Tomatoes. Cheese. Sunshine. Joy.
Jammies. Tomatoes. Cheese. Sunshine. Joy, and one cold, wet bottom (not mine!)

I then retired to my bed to read scriptures and hibernate, and by 1pm I finally felt up to going out and doing five hours of errands. In order, they went like this:

  • Park
Lydia gave Abe a ride.
Lydia gave Abe a ride.
Mary made a friend. Here they are giving each other wood chips.
Mary made a friend. Here they are giving each other wood chips.
Then Mary decided to go for a walk.
Then Mary decided to go for a walk.
She loves to walk.
She loves to walk.
Say "cheese!"
Say “cheese!”
Lydia proposed we sit on this bench together. More than happy to oblige.
Lydia proposed we sit on this bench together. More than happy to oblige.
The grand finale, before Abe returned Mary to her dreaded car seat.
The grand finale, before Abe returned Mary to her dreaded car seat.
Do you think she liked it?
Do you think she liked it?
  • Library (no pictures–just a quick potty break for Lydia while I restocked on kid books.)
  • Whole Foods We got hungry and decided to eat lunch there. I did a comparison on eggs this morning (Smith’s regular vs. Smith’s cage free vs. Whole Foods) and Whole Foods won. So now we have another stop on our Saturday errand route…
  • The two dark ones are from Whole Foods (generic brand), and the others are from Smith's. (Light yellow= generic, medium yellow= cage free.)
    The two dark ones are from Whole Foods (generic brand), and the others are from Smith’s. (Light yellow= generic, medium yellow= cage free.)
    At Whole Foods. Lydia threw a loud tantrum soon after this shot was taken. Because she was incoherent, we have no idea what the crying was about, but we hightailed it outta there.
    At Whole Foods. Lydia threw a loud tantrum soon after this shot was taken. Because she was incoherent, we have no idea what the crying was about, but we hightailed it outta there.
    • Trader Joe’s. Every week this store is stealing more and more of my business away from my other stores. But here’s the thing: I turn out breakfast and dinner most days, and under no circumstances do I care to cook lunch too. For good, quick lunch food, I haven’t found anything comparable. And they give out lollipops. Lydia was really concerned I didn’t procure one for Mary, and she spent the next ten minutes trying to tell us that “Ma-wee reawwwee wants a wowwypop!”
    • Target. Best diapers in town. And we needed printer paper and Draino.
    Mary and Abe match!! And Lydia looks sleepy.
    Mary and Abe match!! And Lydia looks sleepy.
    • Tony Caputo’s. All I can say is, my fridge is a cheese cave. We need to have a cheese party this week, because right now in my fridge these cheeses are getting cozy: Teleggio, Gorgonzola Dolce, fresh Mozzarella, Mascarpone, leftover Rochetta–not to mention string cheese, shredded cheddar, grated domestic Parmesan, and some goat cheese. China Study what????!! (Also, while I was in the store, Abe tells me Lydia was frantically trying to open the ginger cookies I bought at Trader Joe’s. In her words: “Daaddyy, how do you open this? Ma-wee reawwy wants a cookie!!”
    • Smith’s. Because, at the end of the day, my neighborhood Smith’s is my very favorite store. I love the staff so much I even complimented the manager on his hiring ability (only to find out someone else does the hiring), but seriously–the employees there are the friendliest you’ve ever met. On more than one occasion some stranger has initiated a conversation with me that centers around how awesome the people who work at Smith’s are. Also, we were almost out of toilet paper.

    And then we went home, raced to feed and bathe the kids, and then left them in the care of our lovely babysitter so we could make it to the last temple session of the day. We made it home around 11pm. And I need to go to bed now (or maybe read more of my novel??)

Loads of laziness, and a last minute movie.

Before tonight, Abe and I had gone on exactly two movie dates together. That’s a total count. We never went while we were dating (didn’t do that super long), and before we had kids Abe was so depleted from his stressful job that he never had the energy to go. When the Harry Potter movie came out that year, I was so desperate to see it that I finally just took one of the girls I babysat to see it with me.

Since we clearly get out so rarely, you’ll understand why the movie we just saw left me in a state of rapture.

All the more since we weren’t planning on going to a movie tonight. A couple months ago when we were at the temple (which we really should count as a date, although I have mixed feelings about that), Abe bumped into one of his old friends. Ever since, the two of them have been trying to coordinate schedules. We were supposed to have dinner tonight, but we cancelled at the last minute because Lydia and Mary are sick. They’ve been sick for over three weeks, and I honestly don’t anticipate them recovering until May. At least, that’s how last year went. So maybe in May we’ll finally coordinate dinner with Andrew and his family. In the meantime, Abe and I decided at the last minute (while, in fact, we were out on a run up City Creek Canyon–watch out, there was a recent bear sighting there!!) to go on a movie date a mere two hours later.

**Is the sentence structure of that last sentence nearly as hysterical to anyone else as it is to me? Why, oh why am I incapable of clear, linear thought?! I just get so bogged down in tangential asides that real communication must seem awfully obscure to any reader besides myself (for whom parenthetical asides are simply the organic by-products of thinking–and often the most interesting, too…although this one hardly passes muster in the “interesting” category.)**

Anyway, we successfully procured one of the young women in our ward to “babysit” our sleeping children (9:05pm movie, 10 minutes from our house), and off we went. I can not rave enough about The Saratov Approach, although Abe and I are really confused about the title. Why is it the “approach”? I could see The Saratov Event or something a little more catchy-yet-vague, but “approach” left us befuddled. At any rate, the movie is the true story of two Mormon missionaries who got kidnapped in Russia in 1998, and it’s the story of how they endured the terrible crisis and finally returned intact. Lest I spoil it for anyone planning to see it, I won’t say more, other than my insides feel like they have been liquified from two straight hours of suspense.

Which is a nice change of pace, since I spent most of the day in a less-than-palpitated-state.

Perhaps we were all in a sugar coma from yesterday. This is my children stuffing themselves with candy at 9:30pm last night. We are fabulous parents, and you should absolutely parent the exact same way we do.
Perhaps we were all in a sugar coma from yesterday. This is my children stuffing themselves with candy at 9:30pm last night. We are perfect and fabulous parents, and you should absolutely parent the exact same way we do.

I lay around reading scriptures and my novel while the children either napped or played next to me…pretty much all day. Actually, I had a lovely time reading in bed this morning while Lydia cuddled with me and played puzzle games on the iPad. Later, while Lydia napped, Mary played contentedly for over an hour while I made a dent in Death Comes to Pemberly. Granted, she came over for hugs and kisses every two and a half minutes, but I looooove dispensing those, so it was a win-win situation/day.

As long as this child gets to practice her new walking skill, she is happy as a clam.
As long as this child gets to practice her new walking skill, she is happy as a clam.

When Abe came home, I popped the dinner I made yesterday in the oven, and then we all went on a run together. After the run we got the girls fed, bathed and ready for bed, brought over the babysitter, and left on our merry way.

A month ago, we were out running and spotted a box of pears one of our neighbors had left out as a gift to passers-by. We helped ourselves to a ton, and I finally cooked up the last pears tonight. This was: puff pastry with an apricot glaze, covered in pears, and roasted with Gorgonzola on top. It was my version of Yum.
A month ago, we were out running and spotted a box of pears one of our neighbors had left out as a gift to passers-by. We helped ourselves to a ton, and I finally cooked up the last pears tonight. This was: puff pastry with an apricot glaze, covered in pears, and roasted with Gorgonzola on top. It was my understanding of how Heaven must taste.

Happy Halloween!

I love most holidays, but Halloween is truly one of my favorites. It is the only American holiday where it’s requisite to get out in the community and deepen your friendships with your neighbors…there’s even candy to boot! I am so there.

I also love celebrating with Abe’s family. They get together in one family’s house down in Sugar House, eat chili, and go trick or treating in their incredibly Halloween-friendly neighborhood.

pre-trick-or-treating. Mary was so hungry she was eating her stuffed carrot. Very appropriate behavior for our little bunny.
Before trick-or-treating. Mary was so hungry she was eating her stuffed carrot. Very appropriate behavior for our little bunny.

So we trick-or-treated TWICE today, once with Abe’s family in Sugar House and once in our neighborhood with our neighbors.

Who, by the way, are awesome. One of our neighbors is an interior decorator, and she invited us in for a tour of her entire house. Every room looks like it belongs in a magazine. (She then gave us her entire bowl of candy and called it a night.) Since Abe grew up across the street, we spent a lot of time visiting with many more of our neighbors, and before we knew it, it was 9:20pm and the girls had yet to be brought home and bathed. We sure had fun, though. In the words of an enthusiastic Lydia, “I WUV Hawo-ween!!”

Holidays take energy, though. This morning I knew the day was going to be busy, so I procrastinated getting out of bed for as long as I could while the girls giggled and played together. As long as they were having fun, I figured I could lie in bed, get in my scriptures and even spend some time on Death Comes to Pemberly, the perfect Halloween book.

Once Mary started crying, I dragged myself out of bed, tackled potty poop and diaper poop, fed the girls, put Mary down for a nap, and brought in some pumpkins for Lydia to help me carve.

IMG_4800 IMG_4799 IMG_4801IMG_4802IMG_4806After carving pumpkins, we made pie crust for another slab pie.

IMG_4807Ever since I made the last slab pie, I can not stop thinking about it. Now, I’m no pie crust expert, but I have been making pie crusts since I was eight years old, and I will tell you this: I have never made a better pie crust than the one on last week’s slab pie. Deb (of Smitten Kitchen) was not kidding when she promised that the crust of a slab pie fluffs up differently than the crust of a normal pie. It’s not weighed down by so much filling, and so the result is…perfection? It really just might be.

IMG_4812 I had leftover Rochetta (a type of Brie) from Mary's party, so I slathered it apricot jam and puff pastry. It came out a delectable mess.

I had leftover Rochetta (a type of Brie) from Mary’s party, so I slathered it apricot jam and puff pastry. It came out a delectable mess.

We’re going to a dinner party tomorrow, and I promised to bring apple pie. At the time, we were trick-or-treating in Sugar House, and I thought the apple pie I’d made for the family gathering had been left untouched. By the time we returned, people had tried some (thank goodness!), and on the way home, I sneaked a bunch more. So long story short, I may or may not be making another slab apple pie tomorrow. I did, however get carried away baking today; there is an entire pear apricot Gorgonzola tart in my fridge waiting to be baked, so I might take the easy route and just bring that instead. I guess we’ll see.

Anyway, today was a obviously a food-centric, fun filled holiday. I am exhausted, happy, and so thrilled and thankful Abe is home again.

Happy Halloween!

Halloween party and a witch hunt

Because there are innumerable loads of laundry waiting to be folded, a messy house to be picked up, and two novels waiting to be read, shall we?

The day in pictures:

We had a Halloween party at preschool today. Here's a cute shot of a friendly green dragon cuddling up to Snow White.
We had a Halloween party at preschool today. Here’s a cute shot of a friendly green dragon cuddling up to Snow White.
And the rest of the kids. This is a rare moment when Lydia was not picking her nose. I am starting to think it's a nervous habit because she seemed literally incapable of extracting her finger from her nostril, no matter how many times I reminded, begged, and pleaded with her.
And the rest of the kids. This is a rare moment when Lydia was not picking her nose. I am starting to think it’s a nervous habit because she seemed literally incapable of extracting her finger from her nostril, no matter how many times I reminded, begged, and pleaded with her.

After preschool, Mary napped while Lydia and I ate lunch and snuggled on the couch to watch Winnie the Pooh together. After that, I tried to nap while Lydia played beside me until Mary woke up. We then all ate again, and I loaded the girls into the car to go to Gardner Village. This is our third Halloween in Salt Lake, and every Halloween, I always hear people rave about the witches at Gardner Village. Also, I’d promised Lydia we’d go witch hunting, and so, even though what I really wanted to do was fold laundry, play piano, and read to the girls, I packed them in the car instead to go down and see what everyone is talking about.

I took pictures of some of our favorite witches.IMG_4778 IMG_4775 IMG_4777 IMG_4772  IMG_4779 IMG_4783 IMG_4780 IMG_4788IMG_4767

Then Lydia wanted to push her own stroller for a bit. My little grown-up girl!
Then Lydia wanted to push her own stroller for a bit. My little grown-up girl!
We ended by eating cookies in a bakery. I promise, after Halloween is done, I am going to make a VAT of broccoli soup and we will detox on that for a week.
We ended by eating cookies in a bakery. I promise, after Halloween is done, I am going to make a VAT of broccoli soup and we will detox on that for a week.

I then took the girls to Trader Joe’s. Mary, who had been wailing because she hates her car seat, perked right up at the store and giggled and danced in the cart to the peppy music. Lydia promised repeatedly to behave perfectly if I let her push the kiddie cart, and guess what? She did! Of course, she threw a huge tantrum at home, but that’s not nearly so big a deal, right? And her tantrum was kicked off by the tantrum I threw when I saw her stand on her chair and full-on embrace the (cold) stove burners. This after I warned her not to do that ever again just this morning. I have since removed the chair she used to stand on, and I hope that solves the problem.

Tomorrow my only goals are to carve pumpkins with Lydia and fold the laundry (because, um, at this hour, I would much rather shower, crawl in bed, and read my books.)

pretty autumn pictures and a surprise piano concerto

I can barely think because for the last forty five minutes I’ve been watching this video repeatedly (obsessively?). Even as I type, it’s playing the background. If you didn’t click on the link, it’s a video of Maria Pires, who showed up to a concert expecting to play a different concerto from the one the orchestra starts to play. The agony in her whole being is apparent as she registers the situation, but she goes bravely ahead to play a tear-jerkingly amazing performance. The video only shows the first couple measures, but wow.

I can NOT imagine that kind of panic and agony, but I do recall in high school, when I showed up to the dress rehearsal to play the Rachmaninoff second piano concerto with the high school orchestra, they started playing the Rachmaninoff third concerto. The conductor thought I’d written down the wrong piece after the audition months prior, and I thought he was going to call the whole performance off until he finally checked the paper and realized he’d just made a mistake. Thankfully, the orchestra did a great job getting the second concerto together in not much time, and all went swimmingly from there.

But that is the closest (and obviously, not even that close) I’ve come to Maria Pires’ experience. I’m still trembling from watching the video so much, so I guess I’ll pause it so I can recount the day’s events quickly–and then get back to re-watching my new favorite video clip.

Remember that beautiful yellow tree outside the girls' window? All the leaves fell off in one night, and the ground outside was completely covered in these delicate, bright yellow leaves. Lydia wanted to shovel them, and I wanted yellow pictures, so it was a win-win situation.
Remember that beautiful yellow tree outside the girls’ window? All the leaves fell off in one night, and the ground outside was completely covered in these delicate, bright yellow leaves. Lydia wanted to shovel them, and I wanted yellow pictures, so it was a win-win situation.
I took a lot of pretty shots of the yellow, but I exercised self-control and only included these two here.
I took a lot of pretty shots of the yellow…
The yellow ground. I couldn't get over it.
The yellow ground. I couldn’t get over it.

 

Bereft of its leaves, this tree remains a thing of perfect beauty. This will be my third winter admiring its loveliness.
Bereft of its leaves, this tree remains a thing of perfect beauty. This will be my third winter admiring its loveliness.
I tried the flower icon on my camera to take this shot. I really need to read the manual to find out how my camera works, but in the meantime, just look at this gorgeous rose. It's October. And there is a line of blooming rose bushes on my lawn. And they have flowers like this.
I tried the flower icon on my camera to take this shot. I really need to read the manual to find out how my camera works, but in the meantime, just look at this gorgeous rose. It’s October. And there is a line of blooming rose bushes on my lawn. And they have flowers like this.
After naps, we went to Wheeler Farm with Swathi's cousin, Balu. We went on a wagon ride, walked around, fed the ducks, did a maze and picked pumpkins. Here are the girls watching the ducks while Balu feeds them.
After naps, we went to Wheeler Farm with Swathi’s cousin, Balu. We went on a wagon ride, walked around, fed the ducks, did a maze and picked pumpkins. Here are the girls watching the ducks while Balu feeds them.
Of course, both girls wanted to get out and help. I spent a lot of time holding Mary's hand (against her will) so she wouldn't take a tumble into duck poop. That's why my pictures here are only of Lydia.
Of course, both girls wanted to get out and help. I spent a lot of time holding Mary’s hand (against her will) so she wouldn’t take a tumble into duck poop. That’s why my pictures here are only of Lydia.
I heart Utah.
I heart Utah.
Selecting pumpkins.
Selecting pumpkins.
She picked one! (Actually, three. But this is one of the three.)
She picked one! (Actually, three. But this is one of the three.)

After Wheeler Farm, we went to Barnes and Noble because–dum-da-da-dum–Lydia told me she needed to go potty, and she was NOT in pull-ups. I haven’t put her in pull-ups for the past two days, and she hasn’t had a single accident. Woo-hoo! Also, it was a great excuse to go to a bookstore.

After Barnes and Noble, we hightailed it to the library for some kid books and to get the books I restrained myself from purchasing at the bookstore. The library had multiple copies of all the books I wanted to buy (The Paris Wife and Death Comes to Pemberly). I love the library.

Then it was home, where I dunked the girls in the quickest baths of their little lives; it was past bedtime, but they were filthy from duck chasing and cookie eating, so I went on ahead and still bathed them. Then it was scriptures, prayer, bed, clean, laundry, and get-hooked-by-the-surprise-concerto-video time. Speaking of which, I’ll get back to watching that now.

Goodbye, sunshine.

Abe informed me that today was supposed to be the last nice day of the season. What motivating news! After breakfast, I packed the girls into the jogger, loaded them down with snacks, water, and blankets, and proceeded to spend the next three hours bidding adieu to the sun.

We walked up and jogged down City Creek Canyon, which was a wonderfully meditative experience since Mary was asleep and Lydia would only occasionally pipe up to ask pressing questions. (Lately, she’s been very interested in learning what animals and people are “scary” and which ones aren’t. These are harder questions to answer than you would think, especially since I consider practically everything to be–at least potentially– dangerous.)

I then walked down to the grocery store, which was a rare jaunt for me considering it’s six straight blocks downhill, and then the same back up. When you are pushing a double jogger loaded with kids, blankets, snacks, groceries, and books (we stopped at the library on the way back), those last few blocks can feel pretty severe. But I felt inspired by one of the ladies I visit teach, who can be seen running regularly with her baby around downtown Salt Lake. She told me that she runs up the twelve blocks from downtown to her house. After she said that, I told myself that surely, surely I can do a better job of walking to the grocery store and to the library–a mere three blocks away.

No sooner than we arrived back home than the clouds started to gather and the weather took a turn away from its morning glory. We spent the rest of the day inside while it got progressively colder and grayer out. Hello, Winter! I welcomed it by curling up in my bed while the girls napped (actually, Lydia opted for “quiet time” instead of nap time today, so the whole time I could hear her “reading” her books and playing vigorous games of pretend). As I lay there, I envisioned all the things that I would do if I were an upright object in motion, as opposed to a horizontal lump, so to speak. The only thing that got me moving was Lydia tapping urgently on the door telling me that she peed in her potty.

After I fed the girls dinner and bathed them both, I managed to accomplish the ONE cleaning goal I had today: vacuum the upstairs. Woo-hoo! The carpet actually feels different pre- and post-vacuum, and I am now going to end this blog and go upstairs to tread the soft carpet and enjoy the fruit of my one solitary labor of the day.

post breakfast balloon play. It felt like so much had happened by the time the girls were finally loaded into the stroller that I wished our neighbor a "good afternoon" at 9am. Oops!
post breakfast balloon play. It felt like so much had happened by the time the girls were finally loaded into the stroller that I wished our neighbor a “good afternoon” at 9am. Oops!
My worst nightmare, come to life. Mary walked to Lydia's leftover food and began eating while I wasn't looking. I can only imagine how sticky my walls will be if this habit continues. Also, today was the first day she did more walking than crawling!!!
My worst nightmare, come to life. Mary walked to Lydia’s leftover food and began eating while I wasn’t looking. I can only imagine how sticky my walls will be if this habit continues. Also, today was the first day she did more walking than crawling!!!

Ode to my SS community and a concert

Can I just spend a [long] minute and gush on here about my Sunday school class? Not actually today’s lesson (which was incredibly inspiring, and I will probably gush about that in paragraph #2), but the community itself. I love that every week, the same small group of people gather together to think, feel and share ideas with each other. My particular class is filled with compassionate thinkers, many of whom have lived in the neighborhood for decades and have long histories here. The wealth of local knowledge in that room never ceases to boggle me.

Not to mention, every week the invigorating discussions generated in this lively little community push me to explore topics with a broadened, more intent mindset. What a luxury, and I look forward to this part of my Sunday every week. Today’s topic was family history, and we talked about the whys of it. We do family history for many reasons, but the ones that resonate with me primarily are

1) To turn our hearts to our parents and ancestors, without whom we would not exist.

2) To fulfill God’s plan of happiness for us, which plan means we, as the family of the earth, have hearts knit together in unity and love. (I.e., to create ZION.)

It was just the catalyst I needed to finally, after these past couple months, get back on Family Tree. I did some research today (won’t bore you with details), but I did conclude that after I graduate from Culinary School and enter the Van Cliburn competition, my next project will be to learn Spanish. Those Filipino records–man, oh man. Reading ornate 1892 cursive in a language I barely understand made me almost order a Rosetta Stone kit on the spot.

So, ahem, back to what happened today. After our unreasonably long (but oh, so welcome) naps after church, Abe took care of the girls so I could practice for an hour before Suzanne’s parents came over. Suzanne’s dad asked me over a year ago if I could learn Chopin’s military polonaise, and because of a long series of unfortunate events, I could not play it for him before today. Here’s the “concert” line-up:

Polonaise Militaire, Op. 40, no 1, Chopin

Nocturne, Op. 9, no 1, Chopin (the one I listened to while birthing both girls, but I associate it more closely with Lydia since Mary came so fast.)

Un Sospiro, Liszt (My dad’s old favorite)

La Campanella, Liszt (I dare you to watch this clip of Lang Lang playing this at the 2011 Proms without grinning)

Sonata, Movement 1, K. 331, Mozart (the one I learned while pregnant with Lydia to audition for the Suzuki Association.)

…And the opening to the Rachmaninoff concerto no. 2, the out-of-practice version, Rachmaninoff.

I am kind of sort of serious about entering the Van Cliburn, so this was a fun way to kick off my resolution to perform more regularly. Suzanne’s parents are the sweetest people, and they were so kind to sit through it all.

After the performance, we had FHE since Abe will not be home again until Thursday. I taught a waaaay simplified version of today’s Sunday school lesson, and then we played parachute. That, Abe said, represented how we keep memories of our ancestors alive (because, you know, keeping the ball in the air is kind of like keeping their memories alive).

Here’s a shocker. I only took two pictures today. I had maxed out the 5,000 limit on my memory card, so Abe backed it up this afternoon, and my camera was out of commission.

These lucky leaves constitute the only visual evidence I have that today existed–and was pretty, to boot.

When we arrived home from church, there were a mere couple leaves on the front steps. After our naps, we opened the door and realized that ALL of the leaves on our chimney vine had blown clean off. Must have been a strong gust of wind!
When we arrived home from church, there were a mere couple leaves on the front steps. After our naps, we opened the door and realized that ALL of the leaves on our chimney vine had blown clean off. Must have been a strong gust of wind!

Mary’s very hungry caterpillar party.

After a morning cooking and cleaning, at 1pm we were finally ready for Mary’s Very Hungry Caterpillar party.

…Here’s one of my secrets, though. I, um, actually find most parties and large gatherings to be mildy to moderately uncomfortable. Most of the time, in groups of five or more you will notice me over there in the corner blushing, perspiring, and struggling to work up the courage to do simple things (like talk).

But I love to throw parties. Mainly, I love menu planning and cooking for big crowds, but if I let myself get really carried away, I could have a lot of fun in the decoration department, too. Today’s decorations didn’t blow anybody away; I just ordered some Eric Carle cardboard  cut-outs, and I taped them to the wall. In lighting where the tape showed, it looked like my house was covered in band-aids.

But I digress. Abe tells me today’s party was a success, even if I couldn’t tell because I was so busy trying to stop sweating and blushing for no reason at all.

I did, however, register that Mary had a great time, which was the hoped-for point of everything. She was so excited, in fact, that when we piled in the car after the party to pick up our Thanksgiving turkey, she didn’t even fall asleep for the first thirty minutes. (Lydia was asleep as soon as we turned the keys in the car.) She just sat in her car seat, smiling, giggling, and emitting general sounds of contentment.

After the turkey pick-up–and drop-off to Abe’s mom’s office freezer–, we hightailed it to our ward Trunk or Treat. A trunk or treat is when everyone sits at their car trunks in the church parking lot and hands out candy to the kids who “trunk or treat” from car to car. It’s actually lots of fun, and a crazy idea in terms of sugar intake for children, especially if the children (like mine) also have another Halloween party AND Halloween itself all in the same week. Yikes!

I cooked too much for the birthday party, so we gave away a lot of food afterwards to some friends and family members who are currently indisposed. You would think that would be the end of the leftovers, but guess what? After that, I still had an ENTIRE apple slab pie (feeds 18) and almost an entire batch of candy cookies left.

Thankfully, my ward did a service activity to the Road Home a while back and so I knew the perfect solution. As Abe, the kids and I drove there to give away our pie and cookies, Abe and I talked about what it must be like to have to recover from a drug addiction, as the women who live at the Road Home must. Abe pointed out that it must be like trying to deny your strongest food craving multiplied a hundred times. When I thought about it like that, I was in total shock that anyone could ever recover ever. What heroines those women are.

On our drive home, Lydia was really sweet to Mary and called her a “sweet widdle baby,” asking her politely to not cry please because we would be home soon.

Then we had a post candy-coma dinner (of sorts), bath time, bedtime, piano time, blog time and oops-I-forgot-to-shower-this-morning-so-guess-I’ll-do-that-now time for me.

I saved the photo dump for the very end, since there are a bajillion trillion, and probably nobody but geriatric future me wants to look at all of those.

The making of a slab pie--my first!
The making of a slab pie–my first!
decorations
decorations
almost all ready for the party to begin.
almost all ready for the party to begin.
a giant, 15 quart vat of butternut squash soup. I HATE working with butternut squash (not quite as much as I hate working with eggplant, but it's up there). I had to peel, HACK, cube, and dump four big squashes into this thing. I thought my hands would never recover.
a giant, 15 quart vat of butternut squash soup. I HATE working with butternut squash (not quite as much as I hate working with eggplant, but it’s up there). I had to peel, HACK, cube, and dump four big squashes into this thing. I thought my hands would never recover.
Tom and Suzanne arrived first.
Tom and Suzanne arrived first.
Misty, Max and Sophia came second!
Misty, Max and Sophia came second!
...And we stopped the head shots of every guest after that. More came.
…And we stopped the head shots of every guest after that.
One moment where I forgot to be nervous--Mary walked to me!!
One moment where I forgot to be nervous–Mary walked to me!!
RIGHT to me!!!
RIGHT to me!!!
She deserved a cake.
She deserved a cake.
and balloons and presents.
and balloons and presents.
and jammies.
and jammies.
Abe entertaining the crowd while I hide somewhere in the kitchen.
Abe unwrapping Mary’s final present as she chases down the cool new cell phone Sophia gave her earlier.
Mary would not wear her bunny ears, so Abe wore them for her.
Mary would not wear her bunny ears, so Abe wore them for her.
Together, they made one whole bunny!
Together, they made one whole bunny!
Lydia was a shy owl.
Lydia was a shy owl.
She actually ate this right BEFORE the trunk-or-treat. Lots of sugar today.
She actually ate this right BEFORE the trunk-or-treat. Lots of sugar today.
Finally, I was talking to one of my ward friends in the parking lot when we noticed her granddaughter, dressed as Anne Shirley, scramble up a tree. Her grandmother tells me she does that all the time and had nothing to do with her costume, but still, I could NOT resist. Look, everyone! It's Anne Shirley climbing a tree!!
Finally, I was talking to one of my ward friends in the parking lot when we noticed her granddaughter, dressed as Anne Shirley, scramble up a tree. Her grandmother tells me she does that all the time and had nothing to do with her costume, but still, I could NOT resist. Look, everyone! It’s Anne Shirley climbing a tree!!