Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Just Ignore the Ramblings of Sick Woman

I'm sick right now. With a cold. And I get sick basically never, so I'm not very good at being graceful about being sick. Plus for some reason I keep narrating my life in my head in third person today, and my inner narrative has some achingly beautiful prose and realizations, mainly about how I'm really not that great of a person. Turns out my inner self author is a pessimist. Or maybe it's the Sudafed and the other stuff that can't be turned into illegal drugs but still stops you from sniffling that's to blame. Or maybe I really am deficient. I'd go into more detail about what I'm lacking, but I simply can't remember that far back to eleven this morning.

And it's New Year's eve. The plans for today were supposed to involve a sparkling clean house to welcome the New Year and a party with Church friends, but instead Lydia is sitting in an open suitcase behind me, where a few minutes ago she was madly swinging a whisk and shouting out "Bang your sister! Bang your sister!" to Elisheva, who was mere inches away. Did I mention we arrived home from Tennessee yesterday evening? So I could babysit today? But there was a slight mixup, and the family I babysit for thought I hadn't come home, so they had found another babysitter already. Which means we could have just stayed in Tennessee longer, which Avram wanted to do anyway. Except it's a good thing we're both not in Tennessee, because I don't think our girls could have taken one more day with irregular schedules and all out spoiling from grand and great grandparents, and I'm sick anyway, so I couldn't have babysat anyway.

So I guess it's a good thing we're here, and home and stuff. And Avram has been a great homemaker for me to day (although he hates it when I say that. I once jokingly called us c0-homemakers after I read an online thing where a woman and her husband are "co-presiders" and he said never to call him that.) He's put most of the junk from Christmas that was all piled higgledy piggledy in our living room away, (Except the stuff that has no home yet. I hate the accumulation of junk from Christmas and sometimes it makes me want to join a monastery. I'm not completely sure what this step would achieve, but I'm sick, so bear with me. I also hate that previous phrase.)

However, I wouldn't want to end 2008 on a negative note. It's been a good year. Avram got into OSU with a fellowship, we found a great townhouse apartment to live in, we have a great ward, I really like living in Ohio, and also being settled here. I've had a lot of good books to read. I had Elisheva, who is wonderful, and Lydia has learned how to talk, which is also wonderful. Hmm, even writing this little paragraph has made me feel better about life. Also, Avram made me matzo ball chicken soup from scratch for dinner tonight, and the importance of said soup cannot be underestimated when one is sick.

Merry New Year, everyone! Sorry if I mixed up my greetings. I also thought it would be good this morning to wear a vibrant kelly green long skirt with fuschia embroidered flowers and a salmon colored v neck shirt over a white tank top with a maroon knee length cardigan over it all. Clearly my functioning capacities are a not at their best.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

I really want to blog. I do. But I'm on a foreign computer, with a keyboard where all the keys stick, so most sentences I have to rewrite several times to reduce the typos. It's worse than a scratchy pen. And I don't have my own laptop to upload our photos to, so I can't share pictures of Christmas morning; of Lydia with her tricycle (which she loves). And I'm with family, Avram's extended family, so I can't share little foibles and frustrations of day to day because that's bad form (I'm wondering what this says about me not minding sharing about mine own and Avram's personality quirks. Hmmm.)

So, I'm afraid for now, I will continue to be lame.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

A Spring day in Oxford in Pictures, Or, I'm watching Sean Connery as James bond and Don't Feel Like Adding Text.






We went on a walk in the fields, with Nettles taller than me, Lydia was scared by a horse, and then we went bak home, to our English Manor where Avram sat in the sun dappled shade, Reading Hebrew for his finals. Sometimes I like to remember sun dappled shade in December.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

A Deseret Industries Story

I submitted for the NieNie book, but didn't get picked, and so, hey, why let anything I've written go to waste? So, here is my DI clothes story.

I love Thrift Stores. I love clothes, lots and lots of clothes that come and go according to my moods and seasons and (personal, made up) styles; therefore I patronize thrift stores and support my wardrobe without breaking my budget.

Several years ago, while visiting my family in Salt Lake City, Utah before my Sophomore year of college, I went in pursuit of yet more of the "cutest clothing in the world" and visited the local DI from my childhood (Deseret Industries, a thrift store). DI not only accepts donations, but sends them all over the world for humanitarian aid. Living close to the central DI, I liked not only shopping there, but also sending all my old, outdated, outseasoned clothes there to help others in other continents. My sister Halley dropped me off, and I spent the next hour in paradise. I found shoes, and shirts, and a beautiful black velvet skirt (among many skirts. I love skirts). I couldn't believe the good fortune I had found at DI that day.

After an hour Halley came back to pick me up. She wanted to look at shoes herself, and so I took the opportunity to try on yet a few more shirts in an attempt to find a match for a prospective floral skirt. I tried on a yellow shirt, but was in doubt of its potential cuteness, since a lot of the skill of thrift store shopping is in seeing the potential of an item when it's just stuck on a rack with a lot of other ugly polyester clothes from the eighties. I love being able to tell that a particular rose cardigan with a knitted cream flour applique is vintage, and not just out-dated, but sometimes my potential cuteness radar needs a second opinion. In this case I couldn't tell if a little pocket on a fitted T-shirt was innovative or dorky. I went to find Halley in the shoe section for a quick consultation, leaving my cart of uber-clothing in my stall to save the stall (waiting for stalls to try on clothes was never my strong suite).

A quick consultation (yes, yellow isn't your color and that pocket is dorky, no, you shouldn't get the shirt) led to looking at the shoes she was considering, then trying on some more shoes for myself (did I mention I also love shoes? I usually hover around 27 pairs, to match anything and everything), then checking out the nearby belts for any finds, and then suddenly being called out of my shopping reverie, "Thora Stoutner, please come to the front of the store." I was shocked! How could anyone know my name?

I hurried to the front where the cashier held up my wallet with my driver's license. She sent me to some back offices behind the store, where two men identified me as well, and gave me the rest of my purse and its contents.

Realizing that my purse had been in my cart (yes, I know that it could have been stolen. Clearly as this story illustrates, I'm not always strong at inductive reasoning), I asked where my cart full of the cutest clothing in the world was. The men gave me a blank look.

"You know, the cart that this purse was in? In a dressing room?"

The men gave me an even more blank look, if that were possible.

I hurried out of the dressing room, wearing DI's skirt and rejected yellow shirt and barefoot, mind you, and began a frantic search for my cutest clothes cart, which also happened to contain my own clothing I actually owned and had worn to DI.

I enlisted Halley and we searched all over 'till at long last we found my cart, which miraculously still had all the cutest shoes in the world I had found, but sadly lacked any article of clothing, including my own shirt and capris. I need mention here that the shirt I had worn was a shade of blue that exactly matched my eyes; every time I wore that shirt people would compliment on my eyes, and I knew that this was due to the shirt alone, since that was also the only time people mentioned my fairly standard blue eyes.

That blue shirt was no where to be found. None of the clothes were. Summing up all my courage, being inflicted with the odd brand of shyness that only hits when I have to talk to people I don't know, I finally asked a sales associate. She stared at me blankly, but this was mainly because she didn't speak much English. Together we communicated my sad tale of woe and lost cart of cutest clothes, and she disappeared in the back warehouse where all the items are organized to look for the clothes. After ten very tense minutes, she brought a manager out. Sans cart, sans clothing.

He sighed, and began, "Since this is the central DI, we don't rehang any clothes people leave in stalls. We go through [some obscenely high number] of clothes an hour between donations and sending clothes all over the world, and so when people leave clothes on the floor, or in their carts we don't hang them back up, but rather take them to the back where we load them on pallets and ship them all over the world. Normally the clothes from your cart would be back on one of the pallets, but it just so happened that a shipment just barely left, with the pallet your clothes were on."

My heart sunk to the bottom of my skirt that I was only trying on, which matched the shirt I hadn't planned to buy. "My clothes were in that cart! (at least my shoes had been recovered)."

My cutest clothes in the world, plus my favorite shirt that matched my eyes were off! Off to Africa or South America, where no one would even have blue eyes to exactly match my shirt and hence receive lots of compliments on, off and gone forever.

Awkwardly, he told me, "Anything you buy here today you can have ten percent off on. And," while eying my skirt and shirt, "You can have the outfit you're wearing for free."

In a desultory manner I combed through the clothing racks again, but I had already picked out the cutest clothing ever, and it was hopelessly gone. I bought a fair amount of clothing anyway, just to use that ten percent off and to feel like I hadn't completely ruined my best clothing trip ever.

I still love DI. I still shop even at that very one when I visit my family. However, I've never left my clothes unattended, again, even if I'm unsure about a clothing's cuteness potential and want a second opinion. Although I love helping people all over the world, and donating to those in need, I prefer not donating the exact clothes off my back.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

The Blurb of Thora

Busy, busy, busy. I've been such a blog neglector, lately. Considering I put my blog address on both our Christmas letter and in a blurb about me in the Relief Society Newsletter this month, I really ought to be better at writing. But... I'm still knitting Avram's scarf (and it's still only about 20 inches long. Did I mention I'm knitting Avram a scarf for Christmas? I can't even remember. But I am.). And I've participated in three Christmas parties in the last week and a half, one of which we hosted at our home, and was very nice. I love going to parties of any kind, Christmasy ones especially. And I've read three books, only one of which I really liked (Mistborn 3 by Brandon Sanderson). And we've been Christmas shopping and cleaning and cooking and, and, and. Plus the only babysitting day this month I ended up babysitting for a precious little Elliot, who had pedialite go through is system in ten minutes flat. The results were not pretty. Poor kid. Poor me, who likes to complain. Did I mention that Avram and I also played a Civilization IV game - except on normal setting, and not on Marathon like last year? See, I have been very busy, and I have also grown so much in maturity since last year, to play for so much less time. Avram and I think that Civ. IV should be our new Christmas vacation tradition.

And, I truly spent days, yes DAYS without even getting on the internet, let alone checking any sites. So, I just have been hoping that everyone else has been busy too, and haven't had time to notice my blog languishing in the twilight of the year and light. How randomly pagan of me.

We're goin on vacation for Christmas to Tennessee to Avram's grandparant's house, where we'll meet Avram's parents and sister. I suspect my computer time will continue to be erratic, so fare thee well. We leave Monday morning at 4:30 am because I think getting up early when I don't actually need to be sounds masochistically fun.

I'll leave you with the blurb of Thora, as told to my Relief Society:

Thora S. is married to Avram S. They have two daughters, Lydia Aurelia, who will be three in March, and Elisheva Anne, who is eight months old. Avram and Thora met at BYU in the medieval club, the Quill and the Sword. They married April 22, 2005 in the Salt Lake Temple (which was in her temple district, so it really was her temple). Thora is from Salt Lake City (the actual city!), Utah, where she grew up with four birth siblings and five step sisters. She majored in Near Eastern Studies at BYU, and graduated in 2005.

Since being married, Avram and Thora have lived in Provo, Utah, Northern Virginia, Oxford, England, and now Columbus, Ohio. Avram just began a Phd program in Near Eastern Languages and Cultures at the Ohio State University, which will take six years. Thora is looking forward to settling down here in Ohio; she loves all the trees, and the ward (and the midwest prices!).

Thora has a lot of hobbies. She loves to cook, especially bread, and has been working on becoming better at desserts lately. So if you ever want some dessert just stop by her house; she gets tired of trying to eat all of her creations herself! Thora also loves to read to distraction, and will read any fiction from Mormon romances to Fantasy to Historical Fiction to classics. She's been knitting for a year, and is desparately trying to finish a scarf for Avram for Christmas. Thora also blogs on the internet, at thoraflorence.blogspot.com. When not pursuing all her interests, Thora is a homemaker and part time babysitter.

Thora loves to talk a lot, but don't let that put you off; she likes to listen as well, you just have to be an assertive speaker. She also sometimes interrupts (sorry - still working on this one. You'd think that being an adult would grant one freedom from the trial's of ones youth, but no such luck). Thora used to be a social butterfly, but is learning that when your kids have a bedtime of 7:30 pm your social life tends to be very limited. Thora wants to be good at service, but never knows what to do, so if you ever need some help, please ask!


(Oh, and PS, I really do love Christmas. It's my favorite holiday of the year. And I love how aware of it Lydia is this year. A few days ago Avram came upon her in the kitchen where she was "writing." He asked her what she was writing and she told him it was Luke, 1:2. He asked her what it said, and she said, "Jesus loves us." How cute, and how spiritual.)

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Duck!

Yesterday we went to the Zoo to see the Wildlights exhibit and indoor animals. We left the Aquarium building, the bulk of our visit ended, and headed towards the entrance. I pushed Elisheva in the double stroller, while Avram held Lydia, whom we had not yet placed in the stroller. Next to a Santa's sleigh photo opportunity, a duck fell out of the sky.


Yes, a duck fell out of the sky and hit against me, flapping a couple of times and then falling into the stroller, in Lydia's vacated seat. I screamed instinctively, and the good mothering instinct woman I am, I pushed the stroller away from me.

The duck settled down, and sat calmly in our stroller, while Elisheva also sat calmly, not even reacting. I overcame my momentary panic and went up to the stroller. The Santa's sleigh helpers came over, and had me remove Elisheva while they encouraged the duck to leave the stroller. The mallard (for it was male, with its green shiny feathered neck) hopped awkwardly out and down onto the pavement - where we could clearly see that its foot or leg was broken. It couldn't fly, but just half hopped a few paces.

Looking back in my stroller, there was duck blood in Lydia's seat. Yes, duck blood. The Santa's picture woman went to the restroom and brought back paper towels to clean up the blood, while Santa's picture man called security. She told me we would want to do a more thorough cleaning later, as quite a bit of blood had soaked into the seat.

My shock turned to sadness as I looked at the duck that had dropped into my life a moment before. In the wild, an injury is a death sentence. Now I feared that somehow I had hit the duck too hard (giving it its injury), and the security would come and collect the duck and go wring its neck quietly somewhere else, like the Giver book with misfit people.

Eventually a ranger came (I couldn't bear and leave the duck until I at least knew a little more of its fate) and took the duck away in a box to the vet on duty. I figure that of all the places to have a bloody run-in with a duck (although Santa's picture people think the duck was injured before it fell into our stroller), a zoo would be the best place, with built in vets and everything. Plus I know they keep ducks in some exhibits; maybe our stumpy duck can join them.

I just wish I could find out the fate of our onetime anatine companion - I hope he lives still. That and I wish I had had my camera with me. I'm also eternally grateful that Lydia was neither in the stroller at the time nor that the duck had landed on Elisheva.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Christmas Card Bloopers

Avram and I got ambitious this year and decided to not only send out pictures with our annual Christmas letter, but to even take them ourselves, without using flash. Yes, we are either amazing or incredibly stupid. After our first photo session ever complete with fabric backdrop, a wobbly camera balanced on our knees and a two year old who thinks a grimace is a smile and a seven month old who thinks sitting still is for sissies, I'm inclined to believe the incredibly stupid side wins out. We did eventually manage to get the picture we were hoping for (just one though. Only one out of the eighty odd pictures was in focus, with both girls looking at the camera and smiling.)

I think part of me likes the blooper pictures better than the presentable one. And what better place than a virtual blog to show off the bad, yet lovable pictures?First we went with a red velvet background. While appropriately Christmasy, it sucked up all the available light, so most of the pictures from this are just bad-bad, not funny bad. Also, Elisheva would not sit still. The second we sat her down she was off, and by the time Avram was ready to take the pictures she was halfway across the room. We got a bear for Elisheva to hold, hoping that would keep her still. No, it had no effect, but Lydia decided that if Elisheva got a bear, she could have her doll...and the bear that Elisheva abandoned as well. Also of note is Lydia's, "I'm smiling for the camera" grimace that all toddlers produce.Avram loves this one for Lydia's turn of the century posed wearing-a-hidden-brace-to-keep-her-still look.
This lovely shows our messy diaper changing station we used to hold up the background. Around this point we moved to background B, some nice and stable Linen. Not as festive, but it reflected the available light better, and it stayed in place.I love how cute this picture isn't.And then of course we have the picture where they both are cute, with cute expressions. Too bad they're not facing the camera!Elisheva! Look at the camera already! Or so help me, I'll....Hey, you need to listen to me! Or I'll give you to your sister!Oh, don't go crying Elisheva, I didn't mean it.Aww, look what a bad Mama I am. (Avram says here that I'm a good Mama. I really didn't yell at her in real life.)(Maybe she just doesn't like being held still by Avram's arm, so she can't crawl off.) Or maybe it is her sister.

Thankfully, we did get one "presentable" shot out of it all. Avram says I can't show the good one until after we send it out physically, or something like that. It ruins the surprise. So you'll all just have to keep track of your mail, and eventually I'll post it as well, along with a virtual copy of our newsletter.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Sorry, My Husband was on the phone for 200 minutes with his family, and so if you don't want to read this, you can skip to the pictures down below.

Okay, I'm doing this tag, as I've been tagged three times.

8 TV shows I love to watch. Well, I'm not really a TV person. I prefer to waste all my time blogging instead. And I don't even watch anything on the Internet. Heck, Avram has to twist my arm to get me to watch any movies, even. Maybe I'll do my top 8 movies of all time that I like.:
1. While You Were Sleeping
2. A&E's Pride and Prejudice
3. The Princess Bride
4. Disney's Robin Hood
5. Beauty and the Beast
6. The Scarlet Pimpernel
7. Love's Labour's Lost with Kenneth Branaugh (if you skip the stupid dance scene).
8. That's all I can dig up. Too bad this isn't about my eight favorite books, or my eight favorite blogs, or something.

8 Favorite Restaurants. Yeah, so most of them are in Provo, but apparently I either don't go out to eat or haven't loved it as much since I moved from there:
1. Burger Supreme
2. Two Jack's
3. Bombay House
4. Lon's Cookin' Shack
5. Olive Garden (I love places that include a salad and breadsticks in your order. I love lots of food.)
6. The Brick Oven
7. Culver's
8. Umm, I can't think of anything. I guess I'm lame when it comes to eating out.


8 Things that happened yesterday:
1. We did our laundry at a laundry mat (yeah I know that getting a W&D is like a pipe dream. It's because they applied most of Avram's fellowship to his tuition next term, which would be great, but he doesn't actually PAY any tuition, so now he's trying to work it out with the burser's office, and in the meantime I've decided to stop even hoping for a W&D. Lydia was even playing with her doll this morning by taking her to the laundromat.)
2. Went Grocery Shopping at Aldi and Meijer's
3. Slid on the ice while driving and couldn't brake (I did manage to stop before running into a car). Then it took us 20 minutes to drive what normally takes five because it was snowing and the roads were frozen and we were right by a fire station, and I kid you not, every few minutes another fire engine would drive by, and everyone on the road would stop and it was very scary.
4. knit on Elisheva's stocking; I'm over halfway done.
5. Read 11 verses in Hebrew with Avram. It was the first night we did it, because Avram wants me to remember how to read Hebrew. We're going to do it several times a week during his Christmas break.
6. Taught Avram two letters of the Arabic alphabet, with their sounds and how to write them. I'm working on teaching Avram the basics of Arabic, so that he'll be able to take an Arabic Fosha class someday. I love how the last two things make me sound all intellectual. Really Avram and I had just re-dedicated ourselves to doing more independent studying.
7. Had a large discussion with Avram about how we're going to handle him being home all the time. IE when he's home I think, "Great! Now that Avram's home he can do the dishes and the laundry and the housekeeping with me, and then we can get all of these extra stuff on my to-do list done, and it'll be great. Plus someone can watch the kids for me sometimes while I knit or sleep in." Avram thinks, "Great! I have some time off from school to stretch out for just a few minutes. I'm going to spend some time relaxing and reading role-playing books, and then I'll eventually get around to doing some studying up in the desk in my room." [Avram say I'm making him sound so lazy. He wants you to know that he's a lot more industrious than I'm making him sound, and he's no more lazy than anyone else. He just doesn't like to have to do both my job and his job.] So, we made a deal. For 2-4 hours every day Avram will do studying. Then, the rest of the time I'll be the home manager, and can help him manage his time, ie, he will be co-homemaker with me. I will try and not pester him all the time to do everything, but recognize it's his vacation and let him vacate a little. In return from now on when I read books I have to only read one hour at a time before stopping and doing something else, and then I can go back and read for another hour.
I may or may not have a hard time putting a book down, and this may or may not have been related to the fact that after I got Mistborn 2 at the library on Thursday I came home and read the entire book that afternoon/evening and drove Avram crazy. I think he got the better end of the deal.
8. Talked to Avram at night until he fell asleep in the middle of my monologue, and then ten minutes (literally) after I stopped talking as I was turning over to sleep I nudged him, and he jerked awake and said that he was still listening to me, and that he hadn't fallen asleep. In his defense, he really didn't know that he'd fallen asleep. At least he didn't talk about splashing paint on the walls this time.

8 Things I'm looking forward to:
1. Lydia being potty trained.
2. Visiting Utah next Summer.
3. Christmas.
4. Dare I say it? Getting a Washer and Dryer.
5. Our Christmas party we're having this Thursday.
6. Sleeping through the night someday. Not even waking up once. Sleeping like a log. Sigh.
7. Going to Tennessee for Christmas (where Avram's grandparents live, and his parents and sister are meeting us there.)
8. Eternal Salvation. (Okay, so I couldn't think of anything else short term that I'm looking forward to. I guess I'm pretty happy with what's going on in my life right now).

8 Things on my wish list:
1. Wish that Avram got an amazing grant/fellowship to live in either Jerusalem or Cairo with his family all expenses paid for a year.
2. Wish that if that happened, all my Hebrew/Arabic would come back to me in an instant.
3. Wish that Lydia was potty trained, and that I had a Washer and Dryer (can I double up my wishes and things I'm looking forward to?).
4. Wish that our air conditioner/swamp cooler thingy in our living room didn't leak cold air in right by my feet while I'm writing blog posts at the desk above it.
5. Wish that BYU wrote Avram and said that they're bringing back a third Hebrew chair with his name on it, for him only, etc, etc.
6. Wish that I had a wheat grinder. And soft white wheat. And hard white wheat.
7. Wish I was taller. Wish I was a baller. Wish I had a girl, and if I did I would call her.
8. Wish for peace in Israel and the Middle East. I really do. I was a Near Eastern Studies Major in College, and the situation over there makes me want to cry. It has made me cry. Not to mention made lots of other people die.

8 People I'm Tagging:
Umm, I usually don't tag individual people, because then I just know I'll miss the people who secretly want to do it, and pick all the people who hate tags and hate me. So this is your chance, you can officially say you've been tagged if you've read this.

Also this has nothing to do with this tag, but this morning as we drove to Church in the frozen snow, we noticed underneath the snow on our hood, as it was all blowing off on the freeway, there was a frozen narcissus bulb stuck to our hood. As in the narcissus bulbs that I just planted outside our door. I think the squirrels are trying to tell me something. The bulb is still there, too.

Christmas Card Bloopers and Retakes

Avram and I got ambitious this year and decided to not only send out pictures with our annual Christmas letter, but to even take them ourselves, without using flash. Yes, we are either amazing or incredibly stupid. After our first photo session ever complete with fabric backdrop, a wobbly camera balanced on our knees and a two year old who thinks a grimace is a smile and a seven month old who thinks sitting still is for sissies, I'm inclined to believe the incredibly stupid side wins out. We did eventually manage to get the picture we were hoping for (just one though. Only one out of the eighty odd pictures was in focus, with both girls looking at the camera and smiling.)

I think part of me likes the blooper pictures better than the presentable one. And what better place than a virtual blog to show off the bad, yet lovable pictures?First we went with a red velvet background. While appropriately Christmasy, it sucked up all the available light, so most of the pictures from this are just bad-bad, not funny bad. Also, Elisheva would not sit still. The second we sat her down she was off, and by the time Avram was ready to take the pictures she was halfway across the room. We got a bear for Elisheva to hold, hoping that would keep her still. No, it had no effect, but Lydia decided that if Elisheva got a bear, she could have her doll...and the bear that Elisheva abandoned as well. Also of note is Lydia's, "I'm smiling for the camera" grimace that all toddlers produce.Avram loves this one for Lydia's turn of the century posed wearing-a-hidden-brace-to-keep-her-still look.
This lovely shows our messy diaper changing station we used to hold up the background. Around this point we moved to background B, some nice and stable Linen. Not as festive, but it reflected the available light better, and it stayed in place.I love how cute this picture isn't.And then of course we have the picture where they both are cute, with cute expressions. Too bad they're not facing the camera!Elisheva! Look at the camera already! Or so help me, I'll....Hey, you need to listen to me! Or I'll give you to your sister!Oh, don't go crying Elisheva, I didn't mean it.Aww, look what a bad Mama I am. (Avram says here that I'm a good Mama. I really didn't yell at her in real life.)(Maybe she just doesn't like being held still by Avram's arm, so she can't crawl off.) Or maybe it is her sister.

Thankfully, we did get one "presentable" shot out of it all. Avram says I can't show the good one until after we send it out physically, or something like that. It ruins the surprise. So you'll all just have to keep track of your mail, and eventually I'll post it as well, along with a virtual copy of our newsletter.

Now You See Us

Alrighty, by popular (Aleatha's) demand, here are pictures of my house. In this post we'll display the living room. I'll do a three sixty layout. (These were taken at different times, so that'll explain some discrepancies).
Notice the lovely TV cabinet, complete with a TV, but still no DVD player, alas. The yellow circles on the door are Sunshines, from a Family Home Evening where we talked about our Family theme for the (school year) of 2008-2009. It's 1 Thessalonians 5:5 "Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness." So we talk with Lydia a lot about being Jesus' sunbeams.

Also notice the cool record player/CD player/tape player/radio. (The Nutcrackers are on it). Except the needle was damaged in the move, so we need to buy a new one before all our records will work again.
Here's the desk with our laptop, where all this blogging magic occurs. Notice the crooked Christmas tree.Be sure to see the nice pot that I obtained almost in exchange for Lydia's poor little life. It is a live tree with roots and all.
See the matching couches? Yes, I feel I've arrived. Of our last two couches one was yellow brocade (the rough, scratchy Seventies kind) and one was dark plaid. Avram's parents found these matching ones at a Goodwill for forty bucks each (they were way on sale). And they're in mint condition. Gotta love your thrift stores. It's hard to tell in the pictures, but they're narrowly striped tan and black.
The bottom stocking was the one I knitted for Lydia last Christmas. I'm currently furiously knitting a stocking for Elisheva, so that I can start on Avram's present of a scarf. It was going to be a surprise, but he's done with school (except he has to take two finals next Thursday, but he'll stay home studying until then), and I only babysit two days this month, so we're going to be in the same house for 24 hours a day until Christmas. I realized that I would never be able to knit without him seeing what it was to wake up in the middle of the night and knit from 1-4 am. And I am nothing if not a lazy giver/present maker/wife/mother. So, I just told him outright that I was going to make him a scarf. The book that inspired me for the pattern was knitting for your man for every stage of commitment. They have coasters after a first date, and a complicated boring old man cardigan when he gives you the ring. According to this book, the scarf I'm giving for Avram is appropriate for the level of commitment of a burger and a movie. I guess a temple marriage and two kids isn't enough to make me be able to knit Avram a sweater.


The chain hanging over the lamp is our Christmas scripture countdown chain.

And that is our living room. Now you know where the Shannon family magic takes place.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

A Photo Essay

Lydia sure loves her sister.Yes indeedy. Too bad Elisheva doesn't love her back as much.

Elisheva merely wonders why the Universe, in the form of Lydia, is so mean to her. She also wonders what kind of Mama would take pictures instead of helping her.
What kind of Mama? One can only guess.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

What a Big Girl


Elisheva has begun feeding. I didn't push it on her - I don't really see the point of spending lots of time and money and extra clothes washing in order to just socialize my baby to eat, since babies don't really need to eat solids until they are far, far older than 4-6 months. Lydia slowly eased her way into eating - first Cheerios and those fake-o cheerios that melt in your mouth really easily. Then bread, and then other grain products. By this point she was probably eight or nine months old.

Elisheva, though. Wow. We've never given her any solids at all really, but around a week ago she really, really seemed to want some (right around her seven month mark). We tried giving her tiny bits of bread, and she loved them. So the day after thanksgiving, Elisheva entered the wide world of solids in earnest.

First off she had bananas (in the picture) and oatmeal. Then for lunch she had leftover potatoes and sweet potatoes. Now at every meal she gets her own portion, which we make using a neat-o Kid-co little grinder that was a present from our Bishop's wife in Wymount. When she gave it to me, I didn't really want it, but it was a gift, and although Lydia was too old at the time to need it, I kept it to try on the next child. Well, a week in, I love it. It's just a little hand grinder, that separates out seeds and skins, and makes it easy-peasy to turn whatever we're having into Elisheva friendly. And I'm morally opposed to buying premade baby food. Maybe it's because what's the point of feeding your kid sweet potatoes and beets (or whatever) unless you eat them in real life? Having a gourmet baby doesn't help having a gourmet toddler and beyond. (Not that I care if any of you use it. They certainly are convenient, and maybe you do eat sweet potato on a regular basis; I certainly wish we did). Also, more importantly, I'm frugal (such a nicer word than cheap, don't you think?), and all those little packages of veggies can add up.

Anywho, Elisheva sure does love her solids now. See the look of ecstasy? Okay, so maybe she just blinked, but she really does become ecstatic around food.
Today we were taking a little longer to start feeding her than eating ourselves, and she let us know her displeasure by grunting and lunging toward any food she could. Then she had a nice dinner of ground up peas and then mashed potatoes (with a tiny bit of Turkey Divine sauce at the end). And she loved it, she loved it all. Big smackings, more lungings, it was all present.

It's funny how different Elisheva and Lydia are; both sweet and cute, but each such distinct personalities.

I'd write more, but Avram and I are going to watch Holiday Inn and feel all Christmasy instead (we also made Spritz cookies too, and now I think I've gained ten pounds in the last two hours. Avram blames it on the extra chocolate frosting I made to go along with the butter cookies.... And now I can't just eat off of the Elisheva diet, where I eat gargantuan amounts of food, and then pass it on to Elisheva via milk, so that she weighs 20 pounds, and I weigh less than I have since I hit puberty. I like this diet.)

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

The Best and Worst Mother Moments

My sister Camilla asked about the Scriptures I used for my countdown. Honestly, like all things I do from Picture Hanging to Scrapbooking I didn't plan it all out beforehand. I kind of make things up as I go along; it makes everything go faster (if sloppier. It turns out I am not a perfectionist.) So I started with Luke 1 and 2, then did Matthew (the wise men) and then did predictions/prophecies of Christ's birth from Old Testament and the Book of Mormon (I extensively used the Topical guide under Jesus Christ, Birth for this) and then finished up with telling Luke 2 again, both because I had four days left and also because Lydia can always use another go through of the birth story. I did anywhere from a verse to seven or eight a night; whetever worked for that story/prophecy.

On another Christmas note I decided to get a living tree this year, so that way we can keep it all year long and use it again next year (assuming I somehow miraculously manage to keep it alive) - also because we're going to be gone for Christmas itself in Tennessee, so we aren't going to actually "use" the tree. I went to Oakland Nursery as the last stop in our forever running errand day trip. By this point Elisheva had fallen asleep for the second time, and it was still snowing and freezing cold outside. After a short trip through the nice and warm shop it turned out all the trees were outside in the bitter, bitter cold. Elisheva was in her car seat, since she was sleeping, and so I would lug all twenty pounds plus car seat around for a couple of feet, set the car seat down, and look for several feet around before fetching her and repeating the whole process. Finally I let Lydia pick a tree, and then I went and looked at a bunch of pottery pots (which were half off), but I couldn't actually see any prices. So Lydia, Elisheva (who had woken up in the cold and was screaming by now) and I slowly made our way to the cash register. The cashier told me that the prices were written on the bottom of the pots, so she kindly kept the tree and fetched me a cart for Elisheva's car seat, so I didn't have to carry it.

So Lydia, Elisheva and I braved the cold again to look at pots. Shortly I found a great pot and called for Lydia. Who didn't come. Who wasn't there. I walked around and around the two rows of pots, calling for Lydia. She was no where. Now, this Nursery had ten acres of trees and other plants out there in the freezing cold, and I knew not where my daughter was among any of it. Lydia just isn't the type to wander off, and so fears came to my mind of the Great Serial Killer of the Christmas Tree Lots of 2008.

In complete panic as I ran around and around, a nice lady offered to stay with Elisheva while I looked farther afield. I ran up and down and around firs and pines and spruces, calling out vainly, "Lydia, LYDIA!!" Over the system played out "The First Noel" and I wondered to myself if I would always hate this song because it was playing when Lydia become lost and died under the wheels of a truck that drove through the lot at that moment. "Lydia!" My little frozen hands and my little Mother's heart wanted to fall in a heap and cry. My baby, my first born little girl of my youth: gone. And I could see no trace of her.

"Lydia!!!" and then I heard some shouting back, and ran back toward the central area, where I saw Lydia running toward me, with the woman with Elisheva behind her. Lydia and I ran to each other - just like in a movie, slow motion and all, as we ran across the pavement. I picked her up and swirled her and held her tight in my arms, crushing her to my heart, kissing her hair, her forehead, her precious cheeks. I didn't even have the heart to scold her I was so relieved that she was alive, that she was there. This was the first time I had ever lost Lydia, and I hope the last. Lydia asked me, "where were you?" Never mind that I had stayed with the pots while she wandered afar. After a perfunctary, "Stay with me, don't leave my side," I smothered her with more kisses.

After all this hullabaloo, when we reached the cash registers for a second time, and I realized that our little two foot Christmas tree was majorly and completely crooked, I didn't have the heart to find another one. So that's why our tree looks a little sad. That andthe fact that we have a lot more ornaments (even with all the heavy ones not on there) than tree, so instead of looking decorated it looks more "attacked."(Footnote one). Even our tree topper, a Santa Claus, falls off the crooked top, so it only gets a little bow it came with.

After we came home I made homemade, from scratch (only because I don't have a mix) hot chocolate and cinnamon and sugar toast, and then we all felt better. (Except when Lydia spilled hot chocolate all over a turquoise chair and when I wiped it off some paint came too. Grrr.)

Footnote One: Pictures are forthcoming. Of the tree, of my house, of my kids. I promise. It's just that I need to upload the pictures, download a new version of Gimp because the old one broke and then resize the pictures. Easy, right? (not to mention recharge the battery....)

Putting off My Life

Hmm, I don't really feel like writing right now. But I've already gone through the bother of signing up.

On another note, Lydia just went upstairs and got a doll to roll around in her doll-stroller. While she was gone she made me promise to keep the stroller away from Elisheva. Like the responsible parent I am I let Elisheva scoot over to it and explore the stroller until I heard Lydia coming back down the stairs, and then grabbed the stroller from Elisheva and put it down across the room (don't worry, I gave a basket and a closed thing a glue in replacement for her to play with). When Lydia came back down she was very upset that I had moved the stroller away from Elisheva, instead of simply moving Elisheva far away from the stroller. In her upsetness Lydia dropped her doll on the ground and began telling Elisheva off. I suggested Lydia take her doll into the kitchen for a walk, far away from Elisheva, and Lydia looks at me, while patting her doll. "She's dead."

I love two year olds, sometimes.

With that thought I shall now motivate myself to leave the house, with two girls, in the snow, all to go and buy a Christmas Tree and some yarn to knit Elisheva's stocking. I usually only leave the house voluntarily without Avram to go to the Library. It's only been since moving here to Ohio that I've had to do this (yeah, I know, every other mom out there reading this who had two or more kids is laughing at me right now), since in England we didn't have a car, and so only once did I ever ride the bus alone with both Elisheva and Lydia (it was to surprise Avram after his final exam), and then in Virginia we were living with relatives. So basically I'm lazy. Plus the kids (and I) are still in our pajamas, although it's nine thirty in the morning. It's because Lydia and Elisheva were both up between 2 and 4 am, basically continuously. Elisheva's been teething (she has three teeth now), and Lydia decided it was time to get up. The only way I got her back to sleep was made a bed on the floor for her in our room. She's suddenly decided she doesn't like her bed in her room.

Normally Avram could take some time to come with me during the day, but this week he has a final on Thursday, plus he has to write a summary of a grammar article on Hebrew, and the article is written in French (better than the German one he was previously working on), so he's been pretty busy.

Oh, and for those who followed/care, we didn't get a fine at all. Everything worked out perfectly. Now my latest money worry is that so far we've been getting $250 more dollars a month than we should be from his stipend. Yeah, I know it sounds silly to worry about too much money, but I have to wonder why this is happening. For one thing, how can I spend money guilt free unless I know that I won't have to pay it back later? Good thing Avram is emailing to ask about all this hopefully today.

At least I was productive yesterday. Yesterday, the fabled Monday, I made homemade 100% whole wheat that I ground myself wheat bread, and I roasted a turkey and then de-meated it, and stored the meat in our freezer, and I did normal cleaning in the house. Plus I made homemade invitations to our Christmas Party we have every year, and I made a red and green Christmas chain with appropriate Scripture references on each one that go through the Christmas Story and all prophecies of Christ's birth (which we're going to use as a Countdown to Christmas with opening one link per day). Finally, much to Avram's continuing chagrin, I managed to work in Butternut Squash into the dinner menu. So I think I shall continue to rest on my laurels, and pretend that I don't actually need to do anything today.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Some Pictures




Too busy having fun to write at this moment--we're going to the Zoo. Enjoy the pictures of my daughters.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The End of the Tunnel

In an hour and a half I'll pick Avram up from the airport. Hallelujah! Although the last two days haven't been bad at all; I've worked on both of them. Since I'm at work from 5:30 (or 5:00) in the morning until 4:30 (or 4:00) at night, that's a major chunk of the day taken up. I won't say that I'm always super productive, because when you have four kids to take care who are three and under, and you're not in your own house, there is only so much you can get done. Which is basically take care of kids, and read sometimes (because it's easily interruptible. Easily meaning it's not like interrupting painting a chair, not easy like if it's Avram and not a kid trying to interrupt me I never budge.)

I must say the low point came Sunday, when we didn't manage to make it to church - which starts at 1:30 pm. Also, Lyda spilled wheat all over the kitchen floor (part of the reason we didn't get to church, no one ever changed out of their pajamas, and Lydia made dinner for the family. It's true - I had left out lunche's makings (PB&J sandwiches) on the table, and around 4:30 Lydia came into the living room with a squashed over piece of bread, and sat it on the sofa and began patting it. She soon let me know that it was for me. She then went and got hers from the kitchen - both had some peanut butter in the very center of the squished over bread. Then after we finished our first dinner course, Lydia decided we needed another, and went and made seconds just like the first (except this time I went and sneaked in some jelly on mine). What a sweetheart - and what a lame Mama.

I've realized a large part of why Avram being gone has been so hard for me. One of my five love languages is Time. Actually, I think that's almost my only love language. People I love I show it by spending time with them. In college I always spent all of my time with my various boyfriends from the beginning of each relationship. And although I fully understand couples having separate hobbies and activities, Avram and I like to do basically everything together. That's why I started role-playing; it was one of Avram's hobbies, and what would I do with myself if people came over to socialize with Avram, and I wasn't a part of it? I realize that this makes me sound like I'm weirdly possessive; I'm not. I'm just weirdly co-dependent. They're not quite the same thing.

I'm glad I remembered my love language, because Avram is the one in our relationship who does more traditional romantic things. He writes me love letters. Last Valentine's day he made a scavenger hunt in our home for me, along with little gifts, notes, and cards. Me? I went on the scavenger hunt. That's got to count for some romantic points, right? So now I can say, "I do love you; you can tell because I never let you have a moment's peace without me. That's true love." Actually Avram show love by time too, so we're all good. (And I believe that everyone has two love languages, although I haven't read the book, so this may just be a faulty memory. My second one (out of the five: Service, Time, Physical Affirmation, Verbal Affirmation, and Gifts) is probably verbal affirmation, ie, I love you. Avram's is Service. Man that guy does a lot for me. I'm definitely not a gifts person, either in giving or receiving. That's my biggest struggle with Christmas. I never know what to get for anyone, and so usually just don't want to give anything at all. I'm lame like that. And even getting gifts, while I appreciate it, doesn't do much for me (in a relationship context). I had a roommate who after a disagreement her fiancee showed up with a dozen lavender roses for her. She was thrilled. I was like, "Wait, you're engaged, do you really have money to waste on long stem roses right now? And how does this solve the disagreement?" Well, they're happily married now, so clearly this was mainly my own issues with gift giving as a way of showing love.

Also while I'm stuck in stream of consciousness, I read Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson over the weekend. Great book. It's fantasy, but it's refreshingly different, and well written, and clean (something sadly rare among adult fantasy. That's why for years I've mainly read YA fantasy). And he was at BYU getting his master's while I was there for my undergraduate, and although I never met him or even heard of him once while there, it's still like almost being famous and connected to a famou author. So put that on your to-read list after Wives and Daughters.

And you'll also be happy to know that the entire weekend I turned the heat down at night, turned off the lights myself and even (sort of) cooked dinners and the house is (mostly) clean. So, if Avram's plane goes down in a blaze of glory this evening, I will survive (in sha'allah it won't).

(Oh, and I never checked to see if the money worked out or if we'll have to pay a fee. I walk on the edge like that. Avram says he thinks it worked out fine.)

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Guitar Tabs Blog

My step dad, Don, has started a new blog he wants to spread the word on. It's called Mormon-friendly Guitar Tabs, and is all about Tablature for playing the guitar, specifically Mormon songs or hymns. You can learn all about Don and the impetus behind his blog here.

Spread the word if there is anyone you know who likes guitar playing!

(I've also added him to my blogroll, so you can always have the website handy).

More Mad Maundering Thoughts, or, Please Someone Rip this Laptop from me Before You Are Overwhelmed with Pointless Posts

Although I went to bed at the ungodly hour of three last night, I didn't get to sleep until after four am. And I've never been the kind of person who can't sleep when they're troubled. I've always been able to eat, as well (like Charlotte that LM Montgomery quotes in Anne of the Island, who goes on cutting her bread and butter when her frenzied lover is carried past on a shutter). Thank goodness I haven't lost my appetite yet.

And yet I could not sleep last night. I kept on listening for Lydia, and between that and convinced that a ghost might choose this night to make an appearance, just when I have no one to lean on, I slept very poorly indeed. Then Lydia did wake up at 5:30 ish, and so she crying went into my bed, and between her and Elisheva, who had been woken up by Lydia that was the end of my sleeping (although I eventually got Lydia to go play in her room, and she went and only came back every few minutes, so I got cat naps in the middle). Finally at Eight Lydia dragged me out of bed, and I've been avoiding my life ever since.

Avram has always been the one to get up with the girls in the morning. Always (okay, I can think of exactly one time when I got up instead of him. What a great mother I am). Really, I suppose the next few days of blogging will be a testament of my marriage - of remembering not just the large, overarching reasons I married Avram (because I love him, because he's my best friend), but the small ones as well (there was no one to listen to my dreams this morning. And I have no one to tell all of my multifarious thoughts and reactions to blogs I read in the last two days. How am I expected to form an opinion without his input? And I transferred the money today from the Virginia account to the Ohio one. It'll take on Monday, but the big question is, what will take first, the bill or the deposit? I need Avram to answer these questions for me, if only in the theoretical.)

Avram always answers all my questions for me. He's my go-to guy. When I had officially broken up with him, and was awaiting a phone call from the other guy who I was planning to marry, and who hadn't called me for two days after planned for, Avram was the one I spent hours talking to about this. Although his heart was breaking, he reassured me that everything would be okay, that Dennis would call, etc etc, until I felt better. After I had completely and (seemingly) irrevocably broken Avram's heart and moved to Egypt, and then when Dennis asked for some more space, and for me to not talk about marriage all the time (what can I say, I'm obsessive and impatient), Avram was the one I emailed about this, needing his reassurence. Of course, this time he told me to stuff it four ways and feed it to a doozer, although for reasons forever unknown the email that he sent me and the one I received had the bitter paragraph magically excised from it. See, the Internet truly wanted us to be together. So although that time he didn't behave like my personal walking doormat man of dreams, the fact is that receiving his email telling me that I had picked Dennis and had better well suck it up and worry him with my problems STILL made me feel better - because it was good advice, from my best friend. (Err, yeah, and then a couple weeks later I decided to marry him, because I'm smart like that, and Avram took me back, because he's gracious like that and knew that he wanted to be with me more than his justified pride).

See, right about now in the meandering maunderings of my mind I would turn to Avram and say, so are you still happy that you got me? Do you still think I was worth it, even though I dirty all the dishes and like you to wash them and I'm in my PJs and if you were here I would have made you get up with Lydia at O' dark thirty even though you would have gone to bed at the same time as me? Is this what you imagined you were getting when you won me from all the competition? And Avram, because he loves me, will say yes, every time.

All in all I'm actually doing great this morning, considering how much sleep I did not get. Ahh, I remember the single days when I could stay up until all hours and then sleep in....but small children are some of the hardest taskmasters. Now I've reawoken the nostalgic sentimental part of myself, which was only dozing anyway, because I'm a highly romantic person (in the 19th century sense. Not in the "I plan and do romantic things for my husband" sense.)

On My Own, Pretending He's Beside Me

Carrie came over tonight and we watched the miniseries of Wives and Daughters, and it was SO good. Look, I'm even driven to using all capitals. And I wonder, how could Elizabeth Gaskell have been overlooked for so long, in favor of the Bronte sisters and Jane Austen?

Also, I let my girls stay up way past their bedtime, and it's almost three am and I'm still up. I'm mainly avoiding my empty bed. Although Elisheva is in it, and knowing her she's probably laid out sideways, so really I won't be alone at all. Avram is always the one who tells me that it's time to get off the computer (because I've been on it for forever, and nothing more is going to happen just because I keep staring at it.) And then he turns out all the lights after I get in bed, and then once he's comfortably in bed, he'll respond in the affirmative when I ask him if he's locked the doors and turned down the heat.

I think I've forgotten how to survive on my own.

I just wanted you all to know that I'm holding up well in Avram's absence, and being sociable and stuff. And eating lots of cake and dove Chocolate. They're very comforting too.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Lonesome Thoughts on a Friday Night

Whew, it's been a long time since I've written (Avram had a big paper due this week which equals no computer time for Thora). Well, Avram's in Boston, my house is a mess, and our money is in all the wrong bank accounts - that about sums up my life.

I guess I could give some further details....(Hah, like you could prevent me).

When we found out that Avram was a recipient of the Hugh Nibley Fellowship we up and registered Avram for an SBL (Society of Biblical Literature) conference taking place in Boston the week before Thanksgiving. This is the conference in his field, and one where probably in five years he'll have his preliminary interviews for jobs, because this is where they happen. Of the $3,000 fellowship given to Avram for Academics, I thought that it would be good to actually spend some of it on academic pursuits, and hence this conference. Plus Avram hopes to submit a paper for presentation next year (when it'll be in Louisiana), and so it would be good for him to have had the experience of attending before he has to present (and also so he can see what kind of papers are accepted).

Fast forward three weeks, when we still don't have the fellowship money, and the conference is only a week away. By this point we didn't have any of our own stipend money left, because I'm stupid. When figuring our November budget, I included the money from Avram's stipend and from my babysitting to live on. Except we received his stipend October 31, but we won't receive my babysitting money until the end of November, after we already had planned to spend all that money. Yeah, I'm bright.

Plus once we found out that he had this fellowship, I went crazy and did stuff like bought a TV cabinet and desk from Goodwill for our living room (and then a family in the ward gave us their old TV, so all we need now is a DVD player. I feel like I've written this before here....but I'm too lazy to check. So if I have, then just ignore this whole paragraph), and went to Costco (which I had been meaning to do, to buy some staples that are really good deals there.), and so we were really over our budget for the month, although in actuality we weren't, we were just spending money we didn't have yet, since both of these purchases were planned to come out of the fellowship money. Some people might count that as being over budget, but I like to pretend I have good financial sense.

Avram parents floated us a couple hundred dollars to just last until at least one of our financial ships came in, which was a great comfort to us all. Especially as our next bill was our Gas one, which comes due on the 24th, or next Monday.

Meanwhile I had stopped checking plane prices for a couple weeks, because we didn't have the fellowship money yet to buy them, and when I checked a week ago the prices had gone up a hundred dollars. Very depressing.

At this low point I emailed my brother Soren and asked to temporarily borrow enough for Avram to attend the conference, since we'd already sunk his registration fee for it. I also asked him to send it to us by Pay Pal, since that method worked great when people sent us money in England. (Now I'm beginning to sound like a Charity case, which I guess I am.) Soren, being the dear that he is immediately send the half grand via Pay Pal. Where it sat for almost a week because it turns out Pay Pal is not the greatest thing when you can use checks and the US postal service. So at this point it's Wednesday night, and we've decided that Avram won't go to the Conference at all.

Then once last time we checked plane tickets, and Avram found out that if he flew into Providence, Rhode Island he could pay only $184 total for his ticket, versus $309 to fly into Boston. With a ticket that cheap, we could use the $200 his parents floated us, and so we bought him tickets. Meanwhile the Pay Pal money arrives (hooray!), but Avram thinks to himself, "Oh, I'll put it in our other, Virginia bank account, for good keeping." And so our Pay Pal money is sent there, where it'll arrive tomorrow. Unfortunately, our Ohio bank account is the one we have direct payment for our Gas bill from. And there will be no money in the Ohio account on Monday.

Sometimes, my brain wants to explode.

Meanwhile with all of this brewing over us, yesterday I had the urge to bake a cake. Not to clean the house. Not to pack my husband for his trip. Not to be productive. No, to bake an Orange Cake from Scratch with a "White Mountain" frosting and rich orange filling. So Avram comes home from School to find all the dishes in the house dirty, me desperately trying to frost the cake before he comes in the door, and both our girls crying, probably through the neglect of their crazy mother. Plus I couldn't do any dishes because I had burned myself on the filling (which is exceptionally delicious. I took pictures, because our battery came that I ordered because I gave up on ever finding the lost battery. But now our picture sizer reducer thingy isn't working. And my tech help is in Boston).

Plus last night I had to go to an Emergency Preparedness Group meeting, and Avram had hometeaching - both of which occurred after the Girl's bedtime. So we ate chili and cake for dinner, hurriedly packed, and then went off to do both, then came home at nine at night with our conked out girls in arms. At which point I decided that I had to send Avram off with homemade (and homeground wheat) whole wheat Apple Sauce or Pumpkin muffins (with no oil in them. They're very wholesome and healthy and most importantly yummy.) But I didn't have any flour ground up yet from the ancient wheat grinder I borrowed from a sister in the ward.

Avram brought the wheat grinder in, which weighs a ton and is truly ancient, and we set it on the kitchen floor because the sister said that it spilled a lot. Fun. After fifteen minutes of trying to get it to work, and failing, Avram came in and helped me and we finally got it up and started...where it took ten minutes to grind about three cups of flour. Hey, it still works better than no wheat grinder would....

Finally at 10:30 pm the muffins were done (I did six Pumpkin ones and six applesauce (which was also homemade from Jonathon Apples, and tastes absolutely AMAZING. Yes, I am a domestic goddess. Minus the state of my kitchen.), so we went to bed. Of course we had to get up at 4:00 to take Avram to the airport.

In all of the craziness of his last night at home, not a single dish was done. And the laundry from Wednesday afternoon at the Laundromat also hadn't been folded. Although Avram did find out yesterday that the Check for his Fellowship is ready for him here, but that the bursar is out until after Thanksgiving - so we won't get it until the beginning of December. Figures.

So....that's why at this point Avram is in Boston, our money is in the wrong accounts, and our house is a mess. Although today I have put away the clothes, planted a bunch of narcissus bulbs in the freezing wind, and done all the dishes. I just haven't done the final touches, like vacuuming, or sweeping up all the flour and fallen wheat kernels off my floor.

I'm glad Avram is at the conference - it'll be good for him to meet with BYU people, and say things like, "Hey, I really like BYU. In fact, I'd love to work there as soon as I graduate. I promise I'd stay forever because my wife has family in Salt Lake, and if I ever took her to Utah to live again she'd kill me before moving out of state again." Ok, not really, but that's what I'd say to them at least. But I am lonesome.

That's why I have to write this long and boring post - because Avram isn't here to listen to all of my meandering thoughts, so you all have to.

Which reminds me, while I somewhat have your attention. Don't ever read One Hundred Years of Solitude, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Blech. I could go on for a long time about how I don't like it, and all of my legitimate reasons for doing so, but I'll spare you. Just take my word for it.

Also, Elisheva is proto-crawling. She makes all the motions, and can lurch around, but her stomach never leaves the ground. It's like Garfield when he grows so fat his stomach touches the grouch when he walks. Except Elisheva is a lot cuter. Also, two days ago while making Applesauce, the "Why" game began at my house with Lydia. "Why are you cutting apples? Why are you taking the seeds out? Why are you cooking apples? Why are you making applesauce?" It's cute for now, but I know a few months ago when everything is still, "Why, why, why?" I'll want to pull my eyebrows out. Hey, enjoy life while you can, I guess.

That is all.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Ye Shall Always Rejoice

Although I did much better on Friday and Saturday, I still felt unfulfilled in life and mind. I wasn't stuck in the Doldrums, but the wet, rainy late Autumn weather still reminded me somewhat of my wet and rainy life.

On Saturday any conversation I had I felt like I wasn't really saying anything. That my words poured out in a meaningless babble that instead of sinking into my listener's mind in sincerity just floated around the room. Little bubbles of small talk, preformed phrases and stock ideas that eventually congregated on my living room ceiling. A ceiling full of little bubbles that I knew I could lean over the banister and pop, and little tinny words would leak into the cold air, "Oh, yes, well, that's really what I think, for sure." "We're doing fine, my kids are fine, my blog is fine, my work is fine." "Lydia, stop hitting your sister." "Lydia, be nice to your sister." "Lydia, Elisheva needs a lot of space." All my words would come seeping out again, ready to be collected for further conversations. As I lay on the couch Saturday night and faced my balloons of empty thoughts, I knew that there had to be something more than this.

Then our kids went to sleep, and in a fit of being obedient we read the Doctrine and Covenants together as a couple for the first time in a few days and then we both did our personal scripture study - mine for the first time in over a week. As I read Mosiah 4, it forcefully hit me as a personalized prescription for my life, "As ye have come to the knowledge of the glory of God, or if ye have known of his goodness and have tasted of his love...so I would that ye should remember, and always retain in remembrance, the greatness of God...and humble yourselves, even in the depths of humility, calling on the name of the Lord daily, and standing steadfastly in the faith...if you do this ye shall always rejoice, and be filled with the love of God." (taken from Mosiah 4:11-12, italics added).

Right here I had the way that I could not get stuck in the Doldrums of life, not feel as if my thoughts and words float in a meaningless ether. As I read King Benjamin's speech, I became acutely aware of what I had been lacking in this past week; reading my scriptures. Saying truly meaningful prayers. Being repentant and asking for forgiveness on a small, regular basis. When I do all of these things, I don't spend my days waiting for someone, something to pull me out of my self began funk. Not depression, just the blahs. That I can always rejoice in my life. Always rejoice! What a promise.

It never ceases to amaze how many times in my life I have felt out of control, or upset, or lost in what I'm doing, and then something catches me, makes me take notice, and I realize that once again I have not been diligent in my daily oblations, my regular spiritual nourishings. I can't quite pinpoint why spending fifteen minutes reading about people who lived thousands of years ago and silently praying to a deity whom I have never seen (although I know exists) can provide the center, the inner calm and happiness that I need. Truthfully, I can pinpoint the reason - just to Wordly ideas it's too simplistic.

Every day, reconnecting to God through scripture study and prayer centers me in what's most important, in why I am a mother, why I am a latter-day saint, who I am, where I come from, and where I'm going after this life. It helps me to always remember Jesus Christ and to be a witness of Him, and hence to fulfill my baptismal covenants. It blesses me with the Spirit in my mind, so that I have greater (and much needed ) patience with Lydia, so I don't snap at her in frustration. It provides me with the motivation to do nice things for Avram and my girls; to clean and cook to provide a pleasant, calm retreat from the world. And ultimately more than any other "me time" it refreshes my soul. And so such seemingly simplistic actions do pave the way for me to always rejoice.

After I read this? I looked up at the ceiling - and all my empty ideas and thoughts no longer plagued me. I did, and do have something to say, something to rejoice over. And this Sunday has been the best one I've had in a long time. What more can I say? - I love this Gospel, I love being a Latter-day Saint. And mostly I love the Atonement, which allows me to repent and rededicate my life to righteousness - as many times as I need to.

Friday, November 14, 2008

I love Electronic Babysitting

Today while Avram and I cooked dinner (venison steak and mushroom meat pie. Trust me, we don't normally eat good food all the time - it's just that I don't mention the countless days we have burritos or spaghetti) we popped on a DVD of Max and Ruby episodes, a Nick Jr. television show based on Rosemary Weller's books. Lydia before that was "helping" me make pie crust - which is not something a two and a half year old can help with without driving her poor mother crazy. So we had to get her out of the kitchen, and fast, before she tried to help Avram braise the venison at the hot stove.

Lydia, bless her heart, went and faithfully watched several episodes of Max and Ruby whilst Avram and I finished up dinner preparations.

Which brings me to my whole point, which is that I have to laugh when ever I read/hear that as part of good parenting I shouldn't use the television (or laptop and DVD) as an electronic babysitter for my children. Instead I should watch shows with them, and interact about the decisions the character's make, the bright colors, counting and whatnot.

Hah.

I exclusively use TV/DVDs as a means of babysitting - when Lydia's sick and can't do anything else, when I'm cooking with something she can't be around for, or when I have to nurse Elisheva down for a nap, and Lydia is constantly doing things like talking loudly or screaming in Elisheva's ears.

When I'm free enough to pay attention to Lydia, which is most of the time, I wouldn't use that time for TV anyway; there are a lot more fun and valuable time-using things we can be doing, like drawing all over my belongings, or throwing our little pumpkins we picked around the living room, like they're balls (and yet after a month of this they haven't gone bad yet....).

I'm grateful for TV's ability to "electronically babysit." It means don't worry about Lydia burning herself with dinner, or sitting on Avram while he's doing homework and I'm taking care of Elisheva. Of course, she only gets to watch DVDs like this once or twice a week, and not several times a day.

But when I do hear the strains of "Max and Ruby, Rub and Max!" floating through the air as I finally am able to finish the pie crust, I say a little prayer of thanks for DVDs, and once again wonder how parents who always watch TV with their kids to help them be stimulated ever get anything done.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Update.

I'm feeling much better now. I realized that I had Visiting Teachers coming at 2:30 so I couldn't loll around any more; I quickly ran to the library, and then came back and picked up the living room. And then I made a yummy dinner; Acorn Squash with sausage patties in the center, brown rice with carmelized red onions spooned over top, steamed cauliflower, and a cream cheese and artichoke heart baked dip.

When I describe my meals like I'm a restaurant, it makes me feel so industrious and gourmet, instead of a housewife slopping some grub in front of my kin. While the food was cooking I even washed the dishes. I know, I'm amazing.

Anywho, so now since I actually did something, I feel a lot better. Funny how that works. (Although I do distinctly think that a toblerone bar would also raise spirits; don't feel bad it's not here yet. All the more anticipation on my part.)