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...)

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Quilt Reveal!

So, I'm a thief.  First time I can remember stealing anything.  And let me tell you, I was soooo soooo nervous.  And then to try and fit it into my luggage to go on the plane... that was no small feat.

Let me back-up.

I like to quilt.  Probably not as much as my mother-in-law does though.  She has an awesome machine quilting set-up in her attic that she let me use to finish up this baby so long ago.  And I've pretty much been working on this next one ever since.

Wait, I need to back-up some more...

So, Jay's mom was showing me her stack of quilts and talking about the techniques behind them and all that interesting stuff and then she came to the last one that still had safety pins in it because the quilting hadn't been finished.  She said it was the only quilt that survived the fire when their house burned down about 10 years ago because it had been sitting in the bottom of a trunk, for some odd years waiting to be finished.  The quilt had to be professionally cleaned to get all the smoke smell out of it, which removed all the pencil markings she had made she she would know where to quilt, and so she never got back to marking it again.  Now, she's more of a machine quilter, and she said her eyes just aren't good enough to see to do hand quilting anymore.

I Immediately thought, I should finish it for her for Christmas!

I had no idea what that thought really entailed...

So, the day we left, I snuck into the pile of quilts, frantically ran it up to my luggage (because I knew if anyone caught me in the act I would never be able to pull off lying about it) and used every muscle in my body to cram it into an already brimming suitcase (with my other quilt in there as well...) until the zipper finally closed.  (Meanwhile, wondering how the inspection people would ever get it back in if they were to search my bag.  which they always do...)

We got home and I first thing went to JoAnn's to pick up a lap loom, kinda like this, and set to work.

I first started on the few flowers whose markings were still visible.  After finishing those three squares, I thought to lay out my work when I noticed how all I had just done looked like the work of a Kindergartener compared to the beautiful quilting Pam had started...

Feeling a bit dejected, I carried on.  and on and on and on.....  I can see how a quilter becomes quickly proficient - even the smallest of quilts naturally lends itself to much practicing.

Most of the squares had only a couple of subtle lines or loops left from the cleaning, and so I would scour the flowers that had already been quilted in other squares (thank goodness there were repeats!) and I would figure out which one it was most likely to be, and then try to draw it on, freehanded.

I worked on it almost every night for a couple of hours until I felt a bit burnt out in October (and feeling like I should be thinking about Halloween costumes...) and took a little break.  Then November started, which is when I start panicking about Christmas presents, and I quickly jumped back on the band-wagon.  Finally I had done everything I could see, but there were very intricate borders that had no markings to go on and there was no way I could free-hand those.  I tried a few techniques, all failures, and decided to wrap it up and get the opinion of a master quilter - hoping I could finish the rest during their week long stay.

Pam was very surprised, it was awesome!!  She says she didn't even notice it was gone! score!!  

There are benefits to living far away... knowing me, I'm sure I would have inadvertently blown the whole thing in casual conversation.  

"you don't feel like something from your house might be missing do you?  just checkin'.  no reason..."

Upon further inspection, Pam realized that I hadn't gone around the handles of all the baskets in the outer 9 squares, and I knew then that there was no way for me to finish while they were in town.  We went to my favorite quilt shop's end of the year sale and picked out a binding fabric (and some more fabric for my next quilt. hehe).

Well, 3 months later, I finally finished the quilting and man, am I relieved!  Here it is!!

I wish it were easier to portray the quilting in the photos, but it's really just not the same as in person.  This quilt definitely has much MUCH more quilting, and much more intricate quilting than anything I've ever done.  I really love the look of hand-quilting. It just feels so much more authentic and true to the art form.  (though don't get me wrong, I now officially understand just how much longer it takes to do it by hand.  I machine quilted my sampler quilt in only a few hours!!)
All the white squares have a flower with about 20 petals on it, and a 1/4" border
Each basket has one of 7 different flower patterns between the handle and the body.
The baskets themselves also have quilting in them.

the back side
And a little something to record a bit of its history.  (This was done on my embroidery machine, very quickly, by comparison!)
Jay had to fly to Boston at the beginning of March, and so he took it with him to hand deliver for me :)  These photos are kind of bad because I finished that tag the night before he left, and I remembered, lying in bed, that I didn't get to take any photos of it yet, so these are not taken with natural lighting, as I prefer to do...

So now you know what else I've been doing, instead of blogging!  There's probably one other major thing taking up my time, that I will hopefully be able to blog about soon.  The time is not quite right yet. :)

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Book Review: The Newman Resident

I don't normally put book reviews on my blog.  Not sure why...  It would be easy to transfer them from Goodreads, I suppose, but I wanted to do one of this book because 1) the author is my neighbor 2) I want to help him promote the book because I think it's awesome that he wrote and published a novel on the side, just to fulfill a dream, and not because he thinks he'll make any money off it and 3) he's giving it away for free as an ebook on Amazon this week only, from Tuesday, April 1st - Thursday April 3rd.  What do you have to lose?

The Newman Resident, by Charles Swift, is a really quick read, and a thriller.  I don't normally read thrillers, but I couldn't put it down!  (I guess that's the point :D)  I liked how short the chapters were- it made it feel like you were making lots of progress quickly, and it's especially great for a mom with kids at home who are constantly interrupted... it only took a minute or so to get to the end of the chapter if I needed to stop reading when one of my kids needed something.  (I hate stopping in the middle of a chapter.  It's dumb, I know...)

Here's an excerpt from the summary on amazon, to give you a feel for what kind of book it is:

It’s the near future and education has become big business. Dr. Newman is at the leading edge of creating the perfect educational environment for children, and all he requires is a hefty tuition—and your child at the age of six months.

Christopher Carson is one of the “Newman Residents” who live at the Newman Home year-round. His parents, Richard and Carol, both Manhattan attorneys, may disagree about the specifics, but each wants what’s best for their son. For Richard, this means bringing Christopher, now six years old, home for one last summer vacation before the visits become brief and infrequent.

What follows in The Newman Resident is a whirlwind battle between a devoted father and an education system more terrifyingly powerful than he ever could have imagined. It’s a battle that forces him to confront how some will cross any line in order to create the “perfect” child.

I liked that there was no date, but that it clearly felt like the near future - most of the technology was the same, but there were a few slight advances that seemed really realistic.  It made you feel like this kind of world is where we could be heading, and within my lifetime.

It made me stop and think about education quite a bit, though I'm not sure if that was his intention.

As I said before, I couldn't put it down, and read it all in one day.  The next day, I found myself thinking about it all day long.

I thought the characters felt very real, and I liked getting glimpses of the relationship development between the protagonist and his wife.

My book club read this book a couple of months ago, and since we know the author, we invited him along to ask him questions about it.  It was fun to hear how he put himself and others he knew in little bits and pieces throughout the book (for example, he went to Columbia Law, like Richard and Carol, so all the places he talks about in Manhattan are places he used to frequent.) and to hear about how the novel developed.  He said his original manuscript was much, much longer, and he cut out quite a bit to keep it moving and engaging.  It really worked!

I don't want to give any spoilers, so hurry and get the ebook while it's free!  (even if you don't get there in time, it's only $3.99 regularly...)  Be sure to leave a comment on Amazon to help his book get out there!  It only takes a minute!

I think it's so awesome when people have dreams and make them happen :)

PS if you have an account on Goodreads, why don't you "friend me" (or whatever they call it over there...) so I can see what you're reading?  I'm always looking for another book recommendation...

PSS this is not an April Fools' Day post!  I feel really bad for the one I put up last year, because months later, people posted things like, "this is awesome! I can't wait to try it!" and I felt very guilty...  I forgot that what goes on the internet, stays on the internet, and people could find it when it's not April Fools' and take it seriously! I must admit, I briefly considered doing a post about "homemade Doritos" using food storage powdered cheese this year :D