Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Merry Christmas 2014

I can't believe how busy life is with homeschooling!  I am so behind on updating the blog.  I suppose I should have known... but really!!

The Frog has joined the Tiger Cub Scouts, which he loves.  He just earned his Bobcat badge and really liked touring the local firehouse.  He loves to read picture books out loud to himself every night.  His favorite things to do are put together large lego sets at Gampie's house and play Minecraft :)

Peach got glasses!  She looks adorable and sees better too :)  She loves playing pretend and incorporating characters from the latest books we are reading into her play (right now, Pippi Longstocking). Lately, she loves to show off her dance moves to whoever will watch- particularly ballet and Irish step-dancing.

Hazel really wants to be a part of all the homeschooling and requests that we teach her the alphabet (which she almost knows completely now).  She also brings me my phone to punch in the code so she can "do game".  She knows how to navigate my phone and find all the activities she likes on it by herself!  She especially likes watching home movies (particularly of herself).

Jay has had long days this semester with a late-night class twice a week, but next semester he should be home more, for which we are all grateful.  He loves the students and the beautiful Vassar campus.  (our photos below were taken there) He is a programming monkey and has been doing some fun, innovative stuff, particularly with music:  he wrote an 80s style synthesizer, and a program that writes musical scores.  Every time I turn around, it seems like he's proved a new theorem.  We are all very proud of him and how hard he works for our family.  I am especially grateful for how much cleaning slack he has taken over with my lack of time due to homeschooling.

Aside from school for the kids, I have been keeping busy playing the piano for the ward choir, and the primary, and helping out in the Relief Society here in our new ward.  I'm feeling blessed to have nice neighbors with kids similar ages to our own.

Moving has been a big adjustment for everyone, but I feel so blessed that the children have adjusted better than I expected.  It has been hard, but already I have learned a lot and grown from the difficulties.  Since we are renting, we know moving is eminent and I feel it will be much easier next time.

We hope everyone has a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014


Homeschooling is hard.

Being a mom of 3 little ones is hard, but also homeschooling just really puts the pressure on for me.

I feel like I get nothing done and most days we don't finish everything I wanted to get through with either The Frog or Peach.

Today, I decided to write down all the interruptions to remind me why I don't get everything done.

It really made me feel better.

wanna see?

- Hazel brings me a toy with peanut butter on it for me to clean off so she can play with it

- Hazel brings me a bag with an old, post-frozen strawberry in it, which I soon discover has been smeared on the play kitchen and Hazel's hand/arm

- time-outs and kindness lesson  (which is actually 2 interruptions because they must be sent into time-out and then retrieved)

- Hazel has a broken ornament and is eating its pieces.  (what the... why?!!)

- Hazel climbed on the play kitchen and couldn't get down

-removing the Legos from the shower so I can take a shower without stepping on Legos

- time - outs and kindness lesson

- Cleaning up the "snack" the kids made for themselves while I was in the shower which involves wiping the table, chairs, bench and sweeping the floor.  again.

- Lunch

- Hazel thoroughly spreading the hay meant for baby Jesus's manger and also sampling it.  (am I not feeding her enough or what?)

- kid-bum wiping (this one is an every day one.  multiple times.)

- time-outs and kindness lesson

- Prepping the lasagna for the missionaries

- Furnace guy comes over to do a regular check-up on the furnace

- Landlord comes by to watch the furnace guy

- We decide to move our furniture around so that The Frog and Peach no longer have to share a room, in hopes of them getting a decent amount of sleep and being less cranky.  ALL. THE. TIME.

and those are just the ones I remember...

Monday, December 8, 2014

Kid Conversation

I had brought everyone inside from the car after running errands and Peach sits in the back and can't unbuckle herself, so she usually gets upset at being last all the time.  So I'm rushing out there expecting to encounter her wrath.  I look at her and she is balled up in her seat, hiding under her blankey.

Peach:  (removing her blanket, very calmly and matter-of-factly) Mom.  Did you know that when you're standing on the grass, you're standing on worms?

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Kid Conversation

Peach:  Hey, mom, can you put my milk in the fridge so it doesn't get soggy?

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Frozen Frenzy

I don't know if this is my fault for moving and having Frozen available on our iPads for the kids while the chaos was happening, but there is a serious Frozen addiction going on in our family.  Peach can often be heard belting the words to "Let It Go"  (or, "Don't Let it Go" as she used to sing...) and now Hazel has caught on.  I've heard her singing it to herself in her crib when she's supposed to be falling asleep.

The kids request the Frozen soundtrack in the car.  (and now that we rarely go anywhere that takes less than 15 minutes to get to, that's a lot of soundtrack time)

I don't do this often, but every time I try to sneak in a catnap on the sofa, Peach's "Fro-dar" will go off and she'll seize the opportunity to run up to me and say, "Elsa, do you wanna build a snowman?" followed by whispered instructions for how I'm supposed to respond like Elsa.

Even The Frog will chime in if someone starts singing "For the first time in forever..."

If Hazel sees a snowman anywhere, no matter the context, she points excitedly and exclaims, "Owaf!" (Olaf)  And more often than not, she is sleeping with Anna, Elsa and Olaf in her clutches.

Neither The Frog nor Peach requested to watch movies before 2 (because they never did) and even though Hazel won't sit through a whole movie, when she sees an unused iPad laying around, she will point at it and say "Watch Frozen!"

That being said, you will better understand the following Kid Conversation with The Frog.  I was instructing him from afar about how to use our new microwave while he heated up his own hotdog, and he was searching for the button that says "Power".

The Frog: (excitedly) Hey Mom!  There's a button that says "Frozen"!!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Kid Conversation

This is a conversation I was trying to have with Peach after she ripped some coveted toy from Hazel's clutches for the 17th time that day...

Me: You should tell Hazel, "that is mine, can you please give it back?" instead of grabbing it from her and making her cry.
Peach: It's not yours, mom, Kennedy gave it to me.
Me: No.  I'm saying if I were you, I would say to Hazel, "That wallet is mine, can you please give it back?"
Peach: But mom, it's NOT yours!! It's MINE. Kennedy gave it to me!
me: No. I'm pretending to be you. And I'm telling you what I would say, pretending to be you.
Peach: Ok!  You can be me, and I can be the mom.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Hello NY!

Well, we are moved in.  I keep meaning to take pictures for a tour, but I'm having a hard time finding a large enough chunk of time to do that and see that the rooms look clean in the pictures.  You'd think living in a smaller space would be easier to keep clean, and in some ways it is, but mostly it just means that there are less places to hide the mess.

We have settled in Wappingers Falls.  I know, I know- it looks like "whap-ing-ers" but it's really "wahp-in-jers".  Now you're in the know.

I decided that I wasn't going to be my normal introverted self and made sure to introduce ourselves to at least our direct neighbors.  We met them with some chocolate zucchini muffins in hand, and though I was terrified, they were well received.  Turns out, we have a couple of neighbors with young kids/grandkids too!

We've had to re-"break-in" the kids with homeschooling.  We completely got out of our routine and had to go through the 2 weeks of power-struggle so they could see that we mean business and, yes, we have to go to school every day, and work before play and all that.  Peach has settled in nicely and has started addition and sounding out words (but addition is her favorite - that's my girl!) and Jack is really getting into reading.  Things are going really well!  Hazel really wants to get in on the homeschooling action and during The Frog's first break will often run over exclaiming, "my turn! my turn!"  At first, I kind of sighed and went through the motions of what we are planning to do a year from now, but actually, Hazel recognizes the letters A and B and knows that the B says "buh".  It's awesome!

I think the hardest change is that The Frog and Peach are sharing a room and so they are much more sleep-deprived than they used to be, and we are much less in control of their bedtime (because they stay up late playing with each other).  The Frog still wakes up early, typical, but Peach sleeps in until about 7am.  I think his sleep-deprivation may be closely tied to his crankiness, but I'm not sure what to do about that.  It seems weird to reinstate naps with our now 6-year old (oh yeah! we had a birthday party!  I really need to upload my photos.) but that may be in order.

Our ward here is much smaller than in Provo (not unexpected) and the people seem nice and there are a few other moms with young kids that seem great.  Unfortunately, half of them live 45 minutes away, (ward boundaries are a lot bigger here) - closer to Connecticut (and Costco!) so playdates with them will be trickier to arrange.  I am happy to be living where I am, though - a pretty street with well-kept, simple homes and convenient to shopping and farm stands.

Jay has been called to be the Young Men's President here - meaning he is in charge of the boys ages 12-18 (all 4 of them!) and I've been asked to serve as the second counselor in the Relief Society Presidency - they are head of the women's organization, all women over 18.  I also get to play piano for the choir, which is nerve-wracking but so so fun!

I would like to post pictures, but I really haven't been taking very many.  I think I'm over the worst of the depressed part of moving and so hopefully I'll feel more like I want to remember more moments.  I must say, though it's really hard to get ready to move and then move in somewhere else with kids underfoot, they have really made this whole thing so much easier.  Peach, especially, has just become so funny (though, at times, soooo difficult) and just seems to know when I need to hear someone say "I love you".  I'm going to try and be better about writing down the cute things they say that make me chuckle.  I still remember how nervous I was to bring the kids here for the first time because to me this place is worse in every way compared to our beautiful home in Provo that we made ours, but Peach, after doing a quick run-through exclaimed with a squeak, "MOM!  I LOVE our new house!!"

Hopefully you and my future self are all feeling updated! :)

Monday, October 6, 2014

Family Photos at Vassar!

I have so much I could say right now and a lot of catch up, but this blog has been photoless for too long, and I'm excited about how well our photo shoot went today, so I'm just going to put up some of my favorites.  We thought it would be fun to utilize all the cool old buildings at Vassar, so that's where we are!

Unfortunately, the family pics weren't great... we'll probably have to do them again (the downfall of using self-timer...) but I got some really fun shots of the kids!  One of our family shots would have been ok if the lens were just clean!! argh!!  You'll know which photo that is when you see it...

These are all without editing, except for the second family photo whose colors were completely washed out.

here's the dirty lens shot.  le sigh.

if only I had just scooted closer!!

The Frog suggested this picture.  I love that he was getting into the whole thing :)

Peach chose this spot.  It's one of my favorites! 
Candid, but I love this one!

Can you tell I love this door? Put it with these kids and I'm completely enamored!

3 of the same shot, sorry! it's so hard not to show them all!!

I finally got an all girls shot to replace my framed one of me with Peach when she was a baby

LOVE this girl!!

It is SO hard to get him to look at the camera!

Turns out, The Frog might be boy band material! ;)

It is sooo hard to get a good pic of Peach smiling.  When she smiles on command she really just squints her eyes and shows her teeth, haha

Funny small door.  "What's in there?"

My cute boys

I love seeing the hole where The Frog's 2 teeth are missing! :)

Friday, August 22, 2014

Welcome to NY!

It has been SOOO long since I've logged anything here, but I swear I have a good excuse.

1) moving
2) moving to a remote place in MA that has no internet reception or cell service
3) moving again, finally to our new home in NY.

I've learned a lot these last few weeks.  A Lot.

Though soo soo grateful to Jay's parents for letting us take over their summer home while we found a place to live, I must admit I was dreading being cut off from the world so thoroughly.  My first Sunday at church, I was slightly relieved that the branch had no nursery so that I could run one for Hazel and finally check my email on my phone.  It was really annoying at first because we kinda needed the internet to figure out where we were going to live, so for awhile, we would drive over to the (tiny) local library and sit in our minivan (oh yeah! we got a minivan) using their wireless.  The kids would watch a movie in the back on their iPads and I would scour craigslist and zillow while Jay would catch up on his gazillion emails he got over the last 2 days.

However, once we knew where we were living I actually really really liked being cut off from the world.  It was very freeing in a way.  I spent a lot more time reading books.  In a way, it felt more indulgent because when you spend time online it feels like I am "working".  Gaining information.  Paying bills.  Unbolding emails.  But reading a book novel is really just blatantly all pleasure.

So it turns out I can live without internet.

The things I missed the most actually turned out to be:
-potable water that comes out of your tap
-climate control
-having more control over the amount of bugs I encounter on a daily basis
-having a closet to hang my clothes in.

I was surprised by how annoyed I got having to dig through a suitcase for my stuff all the time.  Closets ROCK!

Anyway, after nearly buying a house in Poughkeepsie, we realized (i'm feeling very listy today, aren't I?)
-closing on a house takes FOR.E.VER (okay, just 45-60 days) in NY and Jay was going to end up sleeping on the floor of his office for 6 weeks while the rest of us lived in MA and it all just sounded horribly inconvenient.
-the market here is AWESOME for buying a house, but HORRID for selling a house and if we ended up needing to move in a year it could have been really hard to sell and we were purposely buying a fixer-upper which means we had only 1 year to fix everything up.  and learn a new place. and homeschool The Frog. and....

So I chickened out on the house and we are renting instead.

In true Libby fashion, I tried to find the cheapest place possible that had (another list)
-2 car garage
-lots of storage space
-nice neighborhood
-real backyard
-within a 20 minute drive of Vassar
-could move in by the time Jay needed to start showing up at work

We did find a place but it feels SO tiny!  We are losing our office space, our TV room, a bedroom, a food storage room, and my craft room.  (and a bathroom, but I was always secretly annoyed at having to clean 3 bathrooms so for me, that's a good thing.)  BUT there is an attic where we are trying to store as much as we possibly can so that we won't have to repack as much when we move next year.

We decided to put our bed in the smallest bedroom so we could use the master bedroom as a treadmill/TV/craft room.  Our bedroom is SO funny.  I laugh every time I go in there because there is 1 foot on all sides of the bed before you hit wall.  Luckily, our nightstands are really small and they perfectly fit!  :)

The kids are all sharing 1 bedroom smaller than their old one.  We're still trying to decide where will be the least awkward place to put Hazel's crib...  But I think it will provide some real sibling bonding, don't you?

Really, the smallness doesn't bother me that much.  Really what bothers me is HOW MUCH STUFF WE HAVE!  Every time Jay brings in another box that says "Kitchen" or "Craft" I feel myself blushing.  Don't get me wrong... my dessert plates are adorable.  But after going through everything and saying "I can live without this for the next year.  Let's put it in the attic," a small corner of my brain whispers that perhaps I could live without it. period.

We have a LOT of bottled pears from our old pear tree.

Luckily, I don't know where to donate stuff here yet so I'm off the hook for now :)

Now for the real kicker.

I don't mean to complain, but I spent FOUR DAYS deep cleaning this place.  It was FILTHY!  Like no-way-Libby-it-couldn't-be-that-bad-you're-exaggerating bad.

If you have a weak stomach, you should stop reading now.

So the previous owners had 2 cats and lived here for 3 years.  I think they must have been saving up for a third cat and accidentally left it in their CARPET!  Seriously!  I have the picture to prove it!
All of that is CAT. HAIR.  and it all came from the master bedroom ALONE.  It took me 2 HOURS of vacuuming that one room to get it out.

but let me back up.

So I was pleased to hear that the carpets would be professionally cleaned on Monday before we could start getting ready to move in.  My plan was to do the last finishing touch cleaning items before I move my things in like vacuuming out kitchen drawers, etc.  for maybe a day or so and then start unpacking.

I get there on Tuesday and walk in thinking "YIKES!! WHAT IS THAT SMELL!!"

I was trying to be nice and so carried on with the vacuuming of the kitchen drawers and shelves when I noticed this place is coated in colonies of cobwebs. Ok ok, yeah, this is a rental unit with vaulted ceilings so it's not surprising that there would be cobwebs in places that required me to use a step-stool and a long vacuum attachment to get.  That is semi-understandable.  But no, we're talking door frames, walls (even at waste level!), cabinets, every. single. corner.  So now I have to go around the whole house and basically vacuum the walls and corner.  Thank goodness this place is so small!

So then I go to the master bedroom to start putting some of my things away in the closet and I'm sitting on the floor nearly gagging from the horrid wet animal smell.  I look at Jay and say, "do you smell that?"

Jay: *sniff sniff* "no"
me: "what? seriously?  that horrid wet dog smell?  you can't smell that"
Jay: not really.

So now, I'm starting to think I'm just over-reacting.

I go do things in other parts of the house and then go back to the master and MAN!  it stinks!!

So then I get all whiny to Jay and how I'm scared to say something to the landlord because I don't like inconveniencing people, so basically what I'm saying is I make Jay do it.

He and his wife say they can't smell anything but they agree to my proposal to let me rent a steam cleaner with a pet odor treatment from Home Depot to see if I can get it to come out with a bit of work.

We get the thing rented and the lady tells me to be sure an vacuum first.

okay, yeah. good idea.

Unfortunately, my vacuum head that does floors got separated from the rest of my vacuum in the move.  Luckily, this house has a central vacuum, so I decide to use that.  It doesn't have rollers on it, just an attachment lined with stiff bristles.

So I start vacuuming back-and-forth (like anyone would) and I see what looks like a ball of lint or something accumulate.  I figure the head must just be dirty with lint and now it's rubbing off on the carpet.  I'll just get that with the Dyson.

But no. It just keeps happening.  The whole length of the carpet!  I soon realize that I am essentially combing cat hair off of the carpet into little piles.  So I did this very methodically across the whole room and then went back with my Dyson and sucked up the piles.  Then I'd do it again purpendicularly, etc.

I'd be lying if I said that some level of me didn't enjoyit.  I do love getting something really grimy to become clean.  But this quickly got old once I decided to go over the entire carpet until I no longer got hairballs to come out of it.

2 HOURS LATER I finally stopped getting little piles to appear in the Master bedroom.  On to the next room...

I have never EVER sweat so much vacuuming carpet before.

So yeah, looks like I wasn't the crazy smeller of phantom stink after all.  And that also makes me feel pretty good.

I think smelling stinks is one of the super powers all moms get so we can make sure our kids don't get diaper rash.  Unfortunately, it can also be a curse and cause you us to vacuum cat fur for 2 hours.  I had to repeat the same procedure in all the other bedrooms, the hall, and the family/dining room as well.  Luckily, none of the others were even half so bad.

So once that was all done, I used the steamer and went to bed at 1am.  I can't remember now.

The next morning it still smelled bad and so I did it all again.  (though I only vacuumed twice this time)

It still smells and the landlord has graciously agreed to replace the carpet.


However, that means we have to move all our stuff out in a week.  Again.  *sigh*

But it will be sooo worth it.

Well, I was just taking an unpacking break to double-check a youtube video about getting rid of a slow draining sink and am still surrounded by boxes.  I should go.  (really, I should go to bed.  after I fix the sink, I promise!)

Friday, June 6, 2014

More Moving Details

So, why are we moving again?

The short version is Jay didn't get approved for "continuing faculty status" (their version of "tenure") at BYU.

We were really surprised.

He far surpassed all their outlined requirements but those pesky politics... I think Jay was advocating for too much change too soon, and it didn't sit will with those folks.

Anyway, we lucked out because when Jay started the application process last fall, Vassar was one of his top 2 choices, so we feel extremely blessed.

It felt like SUCH a LONG 7 months of waiting to figure out where we would be going (or if we would be going at all... BYU allows an extra year to find another job before letting you go) and for a long while, I was making plans to move to Moscow, Russia.

For reals.

We waited through agonizing months of getting response emails, phone interviews, flying out interviews, and then a most painful time where we heard NOTHING when we were expecting to have heard SOMETHING... over and over I had to tell concerned neighbors that "there is no update... we're still just waiting to hear back."  Let me tell you, this made the initial shock and sadness about moving away from all we had built here all so so much worse.  Feeling like we'd have nowhere to move to!

And then when we'd almost lost all hope, in mid-May when we assumed all jobs had surely been given away by then, Vassar - Jay's top choice who he never heard a lick from - offered him a 2-year visiting position with an invitation to apply for their tenure-track opening next fall.

Now that all the waiting and mourning is over, I'm pumped and ready to move on.

We're still not sure where we'll be living, despite my countless hours spent perusing homes for sale in Poughkeepsie.  I've finally decided that I just can't make any meaningful decisions until we actually show up there.  Luckily for us, Jay's parents have so generously offered their summer home in central Massachusetts to us to live in until we know what's going on.  It's about 3 hours from Poughkeepsie, so we're hoping that's close enough to make a few day-trips and check out the homes.

Right now, I'm sort of leaning more towards renting for the first year, just to make sure we will actually be staying there (because if it ends up being only a 2-year deal, I don't think real estate will be a good investment) and to make sure what area I want to end up in as well.

It will be an adjustment going from an awesome house with tons of space and storage and a beautiful yard and awesome neighbors (who I know all of because they all go to church with me...) to a small rental home/apt/condo/who knows? surrounded by strangers, but I think it could be really fun too.  (and I will spend a LOT less time cleaning/fixing/weeding/caring for a home)

A nice experiment.  I do love a good experiment...

We will not have as much space, most likely, and will have to sell things/put things in storage.  It will be good to prove I can live more simply with less stuff.

There is a little part of me that wants to try my hand at home renovations.  Our home here had already been fabulously updated and I didn't need to do much more than paint a few things.  (and really I didn't NEED to do that.  I just wanted to...)  I did install 2 faucets (while very pregnant, I might add...) and a built in microwave (while VEEERRRRRYYYYY pregnant.  like T minus 1 week pregnant...) and I must admit there is a corner of me that wants to find an awesome fixer-upper to try and learn how to fix up, hoping that even if we only stay for 2 years, we won't loose money on our investment.  (though, the property taxes are YEEESHly high and that may deter me...)

Anyway, it's weird having no definite plans and knowing I can't make any for almost a month!  I'm trying to throw myself into moving plans, but it's not nearly as fun as house hunting.

I have never had to move anywhere with a lot of furniture because when we moved into this house we were coming from a fully-furnished dorm at Stanford, so this will be my first big-time move.  AND it's slightly complicated because we will be putting almost all of our stuff directly into storage while living at the lake house, and then later will move most of it out, but probably not all...

I guess what I'm saying is, what do you wish you knew before you moved?

Thursday, June 5, 2014

A Good Excuse

Well, I can finally FINALLY announce why I have been so preoccupied these last many months and not posting very regularly.

We. are. MOVING!

Yes.  It's true.  I never in a million years thought I would ever have to post something like this because I already had my whole life planned out and let me tell you- moving was not part of the plan.

I distinctly remember having this moment last August- just an average, ordinary day- when I looked around and thought to myself, "wow.  my life is perfect.  could it possibly get better than this?"

So, you see, it's my fault we're moving.  I jinxed us.

Sorry, Jay :(

I admit, I was heartbroken at first.  Even now, I'll have occasional sad glimmers in my eyes to leave behind all we have fostered here...  (or maybe that's the exhaustion?)

But I always like a good adventure too, and this will surely be that.

I should really be sleeping right now, so I'm not going to go into the details.


BUT, I just had to get that off my chest.

We're moving, and that's why I'm MIA.  I've been cleaning and packing and posting pictures of the house, and learning about selling a home on my own, and cleaning, and weeding, and climbing trees to saw out dead limbs and not cooking good meals and allowing my kids to spend WAY to much time in front of a screen and, OH, did I mention that Jay has been out of town for most of all this?

Yes.  He has.

Luckily, I have fabulous parents and neighbors and family and I'm doing alright.

In fact, our home is officially under contract as of a few hours ago, pending the sale of their home, so it must have all worked pretty well.

However, in the contract, I am allowed to take other offers and save them until June 23rd, (Jays' birthday!) the date they have to have their home under contract with another buyer for us to honor the contract with them.  So, in the meantime, I must keep up appearances and keep holding open houses until we are goners.  Most likely we'll be completely moved out by June 27th (my brother's birthday!).

Carazy, eh?

Oh, and just so I don't keep y'all (2 of you) hanging, and if you haven't seen on facebook already, we're moving to Poughkeepsie, NY.


Friday, May 16, 2014

A New Low

I've had some pretty low moments as a mom.  I've had my fair share of shameful shouting incidents.

I have officially hit a new low.

I never should have told Jay.  He thinks it's perfect "kid conversation" material.  But this!  no.  This is not a cute snippet to woo future would-be in-laws (while simultaneously embarrassing my kids).  This is one that will terrify them.  About their future mother-in-law.

Anyway, he said if I didn't write it, he would, and if I write it, I can at least keep it charitable.

I have confirmed to myself that I actually have a rather evil corner of my heart because even now, I'm inwardly cackling that I actually said this.  I ACTUALLY said this.

I spend too much time around children.

No no.  I won't put blame on them.  I said it.  ME. **cackling resumes**

It all started when I so innocently, on a completely normal day, in a completely normal way, needed to use the ladies' room.  Don't worry.  No TMI.

at least not yet...

So, as usual, I make my way away from the happily playing children to sneak off to the loo.

After about 1.43 seconds of walking away, there is an eruption of crying coming directly behind me.

Turn around.

The details escape me.  Nothing out of the ordinary happens.  Give it back.  Kindness.  Get off her.  No hitting... something like that.

All is calm.

Ah yes.  I forgot the announcement last time.  Perhaps it will help this time.

"I need to use the bathroom.  Can we all be kind while I'm gone?"


Turn around.

This time, I actually make it all the way to the bathroom, only to discover (TMI warning) someone (else!) didn't quite make it in time and there is poo smeared all over the toilet seat.

By this time, you can guess I really had to go.  Luckily, I've learned to keep clorox wipes within reach no matter what room one might find themselves in, (just about) and so naturally, I had some on hand for just such occasion.  I finally had it cleaned and wiped dry so as to sufficiently satisfy the needs of my clean little behind when their second volcanic eruption occurred.

This time I decided the only way to pee in peace was to separate the offender (which is almost always unclear) and so I grabbed both Peach and The Frog by the wrist and directed them upstairs to their rooms.

I admit, I may have said this next part a bit louder than I care to admit, "Now you can come out of your rooms after I have gone to the bathroom!!"

Did I mention they were both rather upset about this whole thing?  The Frog especially.  He defiantly rushed from his room and very clearly announced that,

"I'm COMING OUT of my room!!"

There may have been some stomping.

Then, with fire that I didn't know existed, I laser beamed him right in the eyes and said,

"If you do not stay in that room, I will POO in  YOUR.  ROOM."

Well there it is.

Needless to say, I finally got to relieve myself.  In a toilet.  (ew)  The look on his face told me I wasn't going to have to prove myself.

and now the cackles return.

what if I he didn't stay in his room?

Friday, May 2, 2014

Grotto Falls

We've been getting sporadic awesome weather lately, and a few Saturdays ago I just got it in my head that we should try to go on a short hike.  A quick google search and the shortest hike I could find that we hadn't done before was Grotto Falls - .25 miles each way.  

That's what I'm talkinbout.

So we headed off to Payson with packed PBJs and apples.  
 Though the weather was perfect, I hadn't anticipated the trail being covered in either snow or mud.  It was SO muddy!! Luckily, there was a big mound of snow near where we parked and we could kinda get most of it off our shoes before getting in the car.  (Our pants, however...)
 We got to cross over this creek many times over these nice log bridges.  At first The Frog was really scared, but as you can see, after a few of them, he eventually did it alone, no problem.
 We made it without any crying or complaints from anyone, and I'm glad it was so short, given all the mud.  Hazel was very content in the carrier too - that had stopped us from hiking when The Frog was young because he was not happy unless he was walking himself.
It looked like it would be really fun to splash around in when the weather is hot, but for now, we would have frozen our buns off if we got in the water.

 Peach was perched on a log to eat our sandwiches, and she got all spazy and posed many ways.  It was hard to narrow it down, but these are my two favs.
I love this shot so much, I've changed her picture on the side (finally!)  She has appeared 2 for two long there...

This was so successful, I think we might just brave another, longer hike! :)  Any suggestions, locals?

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Neighbor Swap Preschool

Disclaimer: this is more of a post for me and anyone who is thinking about teaching preschool to their kids.  I have a really bad memory and so I'd like to remember what went well and what didn't with my "neighbor-swap" preschool for Peach.

Something else that has been taking up additional time is my preschool swap for Peach.  There are 4 moms that take turns hosting, twice a week for 2 hours, and we have a schedule laid out for a letter of the week, just going through the alphabet.  We are cheap and didn't want to pay for a curriculum.  And also, all the kids but 1 were just barely 3, so they'll have another year for preschool.  We just wanted it to be low-key, a semi-introduction for them to sitting still and playing nicely in a group.  I thought about enrolling Peach somewhere, but I just wasn't ready for that.  She seems so young!  And we are doing homeschooling with her already, so I wasn't really concerned about her learning the academics- we are doing that at home.

Anyway, I finally finished my last week of teaching preschool, the week before Easter #thatwasabusyweek and I must say, I'm glad it's over.  It was fun, but I'm just not really the preschool teacher type.  I prefer teaching calculus. :)

However, if anyone else is interested in trying it out, I'm happy to share what I've learned.  It is important for kids to have familiarity, especially if you want any learning to be going on, and since each week was going to be taught by a different mom, we thought it would be wise to have some kind of schedule, so the kids knew what to expect, as far as what types of things would be happening.  This is ours, and I thought it worked out perfectly:

I made a little sign that we could hang up to remind the kids (but mostly the moms) about what was going to happen.  We kept it in the box of preschool supplies that we passed around to whomever was teaching that week.  Mostly it just had a ziplock baggie with a change of clothes for each child (in case of accidents) and also a little flag for the pledge of allegiance and some laminated cards I made that have the alphabet and numbers up to 10 on one side, and shapes and colors on the back.  I made one for each child and the mom so we could point to the letters while we sing the ABCs every day.  I later added to the sign, really small in pen, what time it should be when the task was over.  That was really what I looked at more often.  I also have a little visual timer and I would set that so the kids could see how much time was left before the next activity.

So here's a description of the schedule:

30 minutes of free play - kids can just play, and also made it low stress for us to get our kids there on time and so the mom hosting could have a little time to get last minute things together also.
5 minutes to clean up toys
20 minutes of "circle time" - we would say the pledge of allegiance, sing the ABCs with our chart, bring the letter, number, color and shape of the week, and read a story or two about one of said topics and maybe sing a song or two.
5 minutes to use the potty and wash hands before snack (really only needed a couple of minutes for that, but it's nice to have a bit of a buffer to finish up the story you're reading)
15 minutes of snack - we had a diabetic girl and a gluten free girl in our circle, so we had only no carb foods for snack.  Things like lunch meat, pepperoni, cheese, hard boiled eggs.  It would have been fun to do more fun things with the snack to go along with the letter of the week, but it actually made it less stressful to prepare a snack when your options were so limited.
15 minutes of outdoor recess - we almost always went outside during this time.  Occasionally if the weather was really yucky, we'd stay in and dance to music or something active like that.  One time I took them out to help me rake leaves.  I felt a bit guilty for getting chores done with them around, but they had a lot of fun doing it!
25 minutes of an activity -  These were usually more crafty things to help with fine motor skills (cutting, tracing, gluing), but one time, for example, we did Yoga for Y week.
5 minutes of clean up, and get shoes on to get ready for mom to pick up.

Some things I found particularly successful:
The kids love the "Shake your sillies out" song. (I only did the shake your sillies, jump your jiggles, clap your crazies, and itch your itchies verses).  When circle time was getting noticeably restless, we'd do that and it gave them an outlet and they were ready to listen again.

Glue sticks with pre-cut shapes are a very simple activity for young kids.  Have them put the shapes on the glue, and not the other way around.

They love the "hide the object" game, where you have them take turns hiding an object in a room while everyone else is outside the room and counts together.  Whoever finds the object gets to hide it next.  You have to make sure that everyone gets a turn to hide, though, or it can turn ugly.

They love pulling things out of a bag.  I would often have a bag full of objects that start with the letter of the week and then we'd think of other things that start with that sound.

They love finding hidden things.  I would often hide printed out letters in the room (of different fonts, so they could get used to seeing there is more than one way to write a letter) for them to bring back to my white board, and then we would take turns writing one on the board.

They like making noise- musical instruments or bells, even tapping spoons would probably be enough.  Turn on some music, everyone's happy.  However, that kind of activity is better as an intermediate.  It won't hold them more than 5 minutes.

Bubbles.  There's a reason they're still sold everywhere.  A giant bubble maker would be awesome :)

Balloons.  What kid doesn't love balloons?

They love dressing up.  One time I gave them each something to wear made out of yarn while we read a story.  (for Y week)

I printed out some simple worksheets online and laminated them and gave the kids dry erase markers to work on them.  Some were matching capitol letters to lower case, some had simple addition, some just had the alphabet and they could try tracing it.  I was surprised by how much everyone liked this, I mostly did it for the 5-year old so she would have something to do when she finished her tasks before the younger kids.  (everyone else was barely 3 at the beginning of the school year)

They like feeling skilled and like they're doing something tricky.  (I guess everyone mostly does, but they particularly like to prove how "big" they are.)  Can you stand on one foot?  Can you do a somersault?  Can you hop over this?

Not so successful.
I found myself over estimating their abilities.  a lot.  Only one of the 5 kids (and she was 5) could really use scissors.  We tried to do a little bit of sewing for J week (we had a coloring page with a Jellyfish and I thought it would be fun to sew some tentacles- if that's the right word- out of yarn through some holes in the paper I had poked with a large needle) and that was SO way beyond them- even the 5 year old was flummoxed.  We did something similar at the end - Y week, where I gave them the letter Y I had hole-punched and cut out of card stock and they could just sew wherever with their yarn- they did a bit better with that.  Maybe it was because there was no needle to fiddle with?  Maybe because the holes were bigger?  Maybe it's because it didn't really need to look like anything?

I found myself over-estimating how long they would spend on a task.  a lot.  Never did they spend more time than I thought.  I still have no idea how to predict what activities will be fun and keep their attention.  It's best to plan more than you think you'll need, just in case.  That's where the laminated paper activities came in.  They were backup that needed no prep.

I was really bad at getting kids not to interrupt the story with some tangential story from their life.  I would just listen and acknowledge and try to get back to the story, but usually one life story would remind another kid about their take on it, etc.  It didn't really stress me out... I mean, this is preschool people, we're not exactly prepping for the SATs, but it made me wonder if there was a way to get them not to do that, but still feel like their point of view was valuable.  thoughts?

"guck guck moose!"

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Hazel is 18 Months!

I can't believe it!  My babiest baby is 1.5 years old!  I really have not been as good about documenting anything lately, and I feel particularly bad about how little I've gushed over Hazel (especially since I've been able to appreciate the baby-stage so much more this time.  I guess 3rd time's the charm) on this blog.  She is so so SO cute!  I just can't get over it!  I can see why she gets manhandled so much - nobody can get enough of the cuteness!  If only some of us could figure out how to be a bit more gentle...

She is adored by her siblings (and her parents!) and every night when we say what we're grateful for before family prayer, it's unusual if someone doesn't say "Hazel" or "Hazel's cuteness" or something like that.  The love is mutual.  She really looks up to her siblings and knows when she's not being allowed to do something they are.  She is the monkeyest of them all (meaning she copies what she sees everyone do) and she was pretty proud of herself when she was able to get up on this step stool by herself.
 She can often be seen climbing up on it, just because she can, no matter where it is placed, only to realize there is nothing to do up there and she can't get down.  It's about enjoying the journey, right?

Though she has abandoned crawling at this point, she is still prone to randomly losing her balance and toppling over.  As much as I hate to see her cry, it is so cute! You can tell that head is just soo heavy for her!

She loves peek-a-boo (which I usually call "Where's Hazel") and she loves getting chased by me crawling after her with an evil laugh and pounding my hands into the ground or stomping my feet if I'm walking, to sound more intimidating.  As soon as I start stomping or look at her with tickle-fingers, she'll grin and turn the opposite direction.  She can't really run, but it's clear she's trying to go faster because she gets more hobbley.  It's soo cute.  And she giggles hysterically when you find her in her hiding spot or finally catch her!

She's been much quicker to try "grown-up things" like using silverware (though not in this picture) and spending time with a crayon making marks on the paper compared to her older siblings.  (The Frog never enjoyed coloring until about 4.5 and Peach still doesn't like it at 3.5)  I'm hoping this means she'll like school.

She's the least picky eater.  Although Peach used to eat anything also, and now she's my pickiest by far!

She is starting to get into the "into everything" stage.  Somehow it's more cute and less annoying this time around...

The other day, I came into the kitchen and she had managed to get our homemade play dough out of a ziplock baggie and was rolling it out on the floor with our mini rolling pin.

She has requested to sit on the toilet a couple of times in the last month or so, but has yet to produce anything.  If she wants to potty-train herself, that would be fine with me... and the sooner the better :)

She's starting to find her favorite "stash" places - spots where she leaves random things.  All my kids do this.  Is that normal?
As soon as she sees me with the camera, she gives me a great big smile. (and then wants to see the picture after.)
 As you can see, she is rarely in a photo alone when her siblings are around.  They know I take pictures of things I like and want to remember and so they all want to jump in whenever one of them is being focused on.

She has a few words up her sleeves these days, besides mama & dada:
bookh (very hard "k" sound) = book.  She thinks she loves reading books, but rarely lets me actually read them all the way through.
mokhe = milk or water, although I got her to say "wah wah" for water the other day!
moe mokhe = more milk
knock = knock or door.  she enjoys closing open doors and telling you she's doing it.
uh-oh = uh-oh.  This was one of her firsts.  She uses it anytime she needs help with anything.
bye bye = bye.  of course with a wave :)
beebee = baby - she loves baby dolls
dakh = the frog's real name and if he hurts her, she lets me know...
neck = neck.  She seems to really like words that end with a "k".
I = hi.  She almost always walks into a room and repeats it, very casually, a few times to greet you
no = no
yah = yes (usually with a very deliberate head nod)
shhhhh = shhhh, as in, be quiet
la = light and she loves flipping the light switches
buh = belly.  Usually she points at it while mentioning it. I often catch her peering at her belly button.
no + pointing at her or my nose = nose.
dada = her own name, which gets confusing because it sounds just like what she calls Jay.
I'm trying to get her to make the "f" sound to help her differentiate her name, but whenever she tries, she's really just blowing air.  It's very cute!

She's definitely in the vocab learning stage where she points and gets you to tell her what it is and tries her best to copy what you say.  It's hard to believe that in 6 months time, Peach was basically fluent, and that could be my Hazel too.
 She loves brushing her teeth, especially with mom's electric toothbrush. Hopefully that will keep up through the braces years...
She is very good at giving hugs and kisses.  Especially kisses (blown ones or regular slobbery ones :D) and the kids love 'em as much as I do.  Her kisses are very loud and lip-smacky :)
She LOVES to help, and is surprisingly good at anticipating what I might need.  She is happy to throw away garbage, put clothes in the hamper (dirty or clean), help me empty the dishwasher and even pick up toys!!  I know she didn't pick those up from watching her siblings.... ahem.  She insists on having her own rag to wipe things down when I'm cleaning the bathrooms.  I love it and hope it's not just a phase.
Why The Frog wanted to wear his swimsuit in the bath?  You got me...
She loves baths and especially doing anything where she gets included by her siblings, which happens more and more lately.  Her siblings always ask if she can help put them to bed (which means she sits on them and pokes at their faces or bum bounces on them while I sing a song) and then usually immediately ask if they can help put her to bed next (which means they sing a song to her in her pack-n-play)

She is still sleeping in my closet, but can now reach the doors and push them open when she's awake, though doesn't always do it.

Jay, The Frog and I usually have little arguments about who gets to get her out of her crib after her nap.

I'm sad I don't have very many pictures of her (compared to her siblings anyway.  she still has volumes more than I have of myself at her age...), and vow to get better about that.  I'm going to miss these sweet times.

We just all love her to bits and it makes me feel super special that I'm the one she wants to hold her all the time.  As inconvenient as it may be at times, I still relish being able to hold her so much- and you should check out my biceps :D

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Happy Birthday Gampie!

Today is Jay's dad's birthday and so the kids and I made him a movie full of "cool tricks!"

Brace yourself.  It's longer than 10 minutes, but it gives you a nice taste of life around here.

(ok ok. I admit. I cut out a lot of.... naughtiness :D)

Happy Birthday Jim!  The kids are so lucky to have such a fun grandpa!

Monday, April 28, 2014

Bedtime "Makeover" for Peach

This isn't a very exciting post.  BUT, I like to chronicle my sewing endeavors to remind me that I do sometimes get to do things that stay done.  because most of what I do all day is stuff I repeat EVERY.SINGLE.DAY. and it has a tendency to wear on a person and their sense of self worth.  at least for me.  i like to feel productive  and permanently checking things off a list helps me with that.

not that any of my posts are very exciting...

In the past, when the footies in the kids pjs get holey, I would just cut off the feet and maybe hem the bottom if I was feeling generous.  But this time, I just couldn't do it.  I forgot to take a pic of why (you can kinda see in the final product shot below...) but this particular pair of pjs had super cute feet- they look like little frog faces!  I just couldn't bare to decapitate them, so I decided to figure out an easy alternative.  
I could redo the feet, but that seems like a lot of unnecessary unpicking and I don't own a serger (yet) so it just wouldn't be as nice of a finish.  Then I thought, why not just sew on a bit of reinforcement!  So I place the inside-out foot on top of some spare flannel and 
just sewed around the edge, right on top of what was already there.
Worked like a charm and took a whole 10 minutes!  There is still a hole, but her feet can't feel it and won't be able to make them bigger.  Plus you still get the benefit of the little grippies on the original feet.
Looks like Hazel may get to enjoy frog feet in a couple of years too :)

Peach has a blankie.  She takes it everywhere I let her take it and when she got it, it was actually a hand-me-down blanket from our cousins.  It had already gone through 2 babies before her, and now endured daily punishment from her for 3ish years...  One day I discovered that she had somehow ripped almost half of the crochet border off!  It would be one thing if it were just the crochet, but it was the fabric that was ripped.

SO, I decided to cut off the rest of the border and sew on a new one, keeping the blanket largely intact, just leaving it a couple inches smaller.
removed border
I also forgot to take a closeup, but what I ended up doing was using some large light blue ric-rac I had in my stash (that also matched and since Peach's favorite color is blue....) and sewing it all around the border.  

Now to see what she would think of it...  Blankies are tricky things.
I love Peach's morning hair.  This is actually one of the more mild days for her...
Luckily, she was thrilled by the blue and it is dragged around as much as always.

It felt so good to do a bit of sewing, even if the projects were super small, but it sort of whet my whistle and gave me the bug.  I've got a few other projects underway now. :)

Friday, April 25, 2014


Easter was really fun this year!  The kids are finally old enough to enjoy the egg dyeing (as opposed to The Frog's first Easter, when I ended up sitting alone, dyeing all the eggs myself.  fun.)  I tried to show the kids the trick where you color on the egg in white crayon and then when you dye the egg, the crayon part stays white.  They all took it a step further and colored with all kinds of colors before dying them, which turned out to be a great way for Hazel to be able to participate too.
 Since we have 9am church this year, I made everyone get dressed for church before opening their baskets and searching for eggs.  Here they are waiting for daddy to come down (and I'm sad to say, they didn't actually wait for him all the way.  We didn't realize he had hopped into the shower).
 This is just a funny shot.
 Our kids get super spoiled because they get a basket from the Massachusetts easter bunny and the Utah one :)  Because I know this, I always try to go low-key, but I think I got a bit carried away this year.  on accident.

 The bunny ears and tail were in the dollar section at Target.  I couldn't resist!
 I at the last minute, decided to host Easter for whatever local family didn't already have plans and so my little sister's family and parents came down.
 We took many many photos of all the kids together, and believe it or not, this was the best one.  (If I got a nickel for every photo of my kids with thumbs in their mouths...)
 These little dolls are something I started last year intending to be for easter, but as usual, I had too much going on and I had to bag them for later.  I thought about trying to finish them for Christmas, but all my spare time went to the quilt for my mother-in-law, so I finally got them done in time for Easter this year.  They are topsy-turvy dolls!  One side they look like they're ready for a fancy event, and if you pull their skirt over their head...
 they're dressed in their everyday wear.  I think they turned out so cute!
 The hair is probably my least favorite part... it was annoying to sew and I'm worried it's not going to stay in.  Only time will tell...

Peach wanted to be in the photo once she saw what I was doing.  However, the dolls went into quarantine right after I took these photos because we had just discovered that Peach had LICE.

It was super disturbing to see those little bugs crawling in her hair, and even MORE disturbing to see how many eggs were in there.  We are so lucky that nobody else seems to have gotten it.  (where SHE got it, I have no idea...)  Needless to say, my spring cleaning got a huge jump-start that day, since I had to wash pretty much everything in the house that could be thrown in the washing machine and vacuumed everything else.

We're still on red-alert around here, but so far so good :)

Sorry to end on such a yucky note.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Valentine's 2014

Yeah, so, this is a bit overdue...

Jay and I actually celebrated our Valentine's Day a week early, at Tuscany (fulfilling a childhood fantasy of mine.  and sadly, is not worth the money.  if you were wondering*) seeing opening night of Ballet West's Sleeping Beauty (SO SO SO AWESOME!  Might be my favorite ballet... so many awesome women's solo parts!).  We've had season tickets for years now #imsoluckymymanlovesballet2 and I still have NO photos of us there together!!  

Tonight!  We're going to Ballet West II's "The Little Mermaid", so hopefully I'll remember to do it!

ANYWAY, the week-early thing is important because we watched my little sister's kids overnight so she and her man could have a special night away for Valentine's.  I had meant to get lots of cute cousinly togetherness photos, but it turns out, there wasn't much time for photos with a 5, 4, 3, 2, and 1 year old to take care of.  It wasn't as bad as I thought it was going to be, actually.  But I'm happy to only have 3 bums to wipe every day, instead of 5. :)  (and if my mom hadn't watched their baby, it would have been 6!)

They didn't come over until after lunch, so I tried to make a special breakfast for Jay in the morning.  His all time favorite is Eggs Benedict, and though I've made it many times before, this was definitely the best time yet!  I'll tell you why

1) Homemade English Muffins:
2) Hollandaise sauce recipe from Julia Child's "Mastering the Art of French Cooking". (which I forgot to write down before returning to the library!  doh!)

3) "Poaching" the eggs in a slow-cooker** made everything SO much less hectic, and I was able to put more attention on the Hollandaise- which actually wasn't that hard!  I can never get the blender method (which is what most scaredy cats recommend to novices so they don't scramble the eggs) to thicken up properly!  Give me a whisk and a pan on the stove and I'm good to go. I like being more in the thick of it when I cook :)
I admit, we eat our Eggs Benedict with bacon.  Not the most traditional, but most excellent. :)  And I cook them the uber-gourmet way: in the microwave, between double paper towels.  In fact, you can see them in the background of this next photo...
and here are my flowers from the Jay :)
Now, if I could only make good rice Krispie treats...

footnotes:  Chris!  How do you do that?
*But Valter's Osteria is worth every penny!  Get the pasta tour, or just get the spinach ravioli or the limoncello angelhair.  My mouth is watering right now thinking about them...

**How to "poach" eggs in a slow-cooker, brought to you by "Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker Cookbook ".  Heat about 1 inch of water in the slow-cooker for 20 minutes. Crack each egg into a separate, Pammed, ramekin or small bowl (I could only fit 4 eggs in my slow cooker) and place them in the hot water.  Cook with the lid on until the whites are no longer runny.  (me thinks it was 15-20 minutes?  it's very flexible, the slow-cooking...)