Sunday, December 20, 2015

Merry Everything!

I sent my first Christmas Newsletter with our card this year, because in the past, I relied on letting people browse here, but I've been busy with other things.  I miss the blog, but cannot foresee more time next year either.  I'm guessing most of my readers have already seen this, but my blog is more of a personal history document for myself, so bear with me.

  I should probably not be writing this letter right now….

Waking up to a 5-year old face thoroughly coated in green marker (“[The Frog] did it!”) and a Christmas tree whose lights are now unlightable (“it wasn’t me!”), tends to leave me waxing sarcastic.  Nevertheless, too much has changed and not enough blogging has happened for me to feel we’ve really tried to stay connected with you without some kind of (adjective) Christmas newsletter.

We began the year in Poughkeepsie area, New York, adjusting to our new life there.  Jay had a visiting position at Vassar College and was meanwhile applying for tenure-track positions elsewhere.  37 phone interviews, over 50 flights, and 5 offers later, by June, we were thrilled to have purchased a home in none other than Jay’s hometown - Dunstable, MA!  He is now an associate professor at his undergraduate alma mater - University of Massachusetts Lowell and is enjoying his first semester “professing” there.  Ever on the lookout for efficiency, he has recently taken to running on the treadmill while lugging a 15 lb backpack and is sure it has not only improved his posture but increased the impressiveness of his thighs.  (ok, so I just threw that in that last bit.)  Jay has been loving his new calling at church - teaching early morning seminary (a 6 am religion class for high school students from our church) and I get the sense that they are loving him as well. He continues to give me everything I want and always let me win, so I think he’s pretty awesome.  Plus, if you google his name, he’s the first 2 hits!

The Frog (7 years old), after a year of homeschooling, is now enrolled in 2nd grade and commented to me that he is the only one in his class who said he likes school on his “All About Me” poster.  He continues to wake the family before the crack of dawn and is happiest when he’s rough-housing, thumping and accidentally breaking things (at least that’s what it seems like) or pretending to be his favorite TV/movie/book characters.  He has taught his sisters how to wield swords and use potty words at inappropriate times.  We have finagled his way into the Cub Scout Wolf Den a year early (so he can come with me to my new church calling as a Den leader), and he enjoys those rambunctious meetings immensely.  I was pleasantly surprised to hear from his 2nd grade teacher that he is an excellent reader and so has been paired up with a boy in the class who is special needs because, “[The Frog] is such a helpful sweetheart.”  I am, though dumbfounded, obviously proud and will take as much credit as possible.  He keeps us on our toes and keeps losing all his teeth.  I well-up almost daily, mourning the loss of my 1st baby, while being pleased at how he has grown in so many ways.

Peach (5 years) has started half-day kindergarten.  She is always the first to make friends with new people and loves riding on the school bus.  She loves procuring costumes, stuffed animals and other miscellany from her tiny backpack, like rabbits from hats.  Indeed, she is known for quietly stashing every small trinket she finds in unsuspecting locations.  (Who expects to find a Nauvoo souvenir brick under their pillow?!)  Peach loves picking out her own wild outfits, and finally lets me comb her hair (thankfully!) as long as she gets to choose the hairstyle. Last week, we had to mimic Cindy-Lou Who. She has an aptitude for making her whole body as stiff as a board when upset, and makes it very clear when things are not going according to her plan.  Luckily, her younger sister is usually content to play their pretend games Peach's way and can often be heard taking part in their play dialogue exactly as instructed.  Peach is by far the funniest in the family and when she’s not trying to get her way, can be extremely helpful and loving. She loves to cuddle and has thrashed her “blankie” to bits.  I am relieved to have discovered she is more willing to clear her dishes if I close my eyes and act surprised when they’re missing.  

Hazel (3) is the baby of the family, but sadly, no longer a baby.  She is very proud of being a “big girl” and has been my most willing potty-trainer, by far.  She is a thorough cleaner, when she wants to be, and likes things to be organized.  Sometimes I catch her rearranging the silverware in the dishwasher so that all the forks don't mix with the spoons.  She loves turning heads into smiles at the grocery store and asks to sit on the green horse on the mini merry-go-round outside (although less so now, after seeing another child ride it while it actually moves and plays music).  She must always have her purse when we go out (though she still can’t open it without help) and is the reason I can never find my chapstick.  Hazel somehow knows the whole alphabet and thinks she can write her name.  She gives the tightest hugs and the best wet, suction kisses and unlike her siblings, prefers cereal to pancakes for breakfast.  She enjoys placing stickers on her bellybutton (and on the wood floors and furniture) and drawing on her body and everywhere BUT paper- the markers have finally been confiscated.  She is quick to remind me that “sharing is caring” whenever I have a sweet treat and has the greatest sweet tooth of anyone I know.  Perhaps that is why she is so sweet.  :)

This year, we somehow ended up hosting another foreign exchange student, this time from La Paz, Bolivia.  It’s been so fun to have a teenager in the house!  Monica (16) has brought music back into our home, works hard, and plays hard.  She is the classic case of a city girl being forced to live in the country, and is making the most of it.  Since coming to the USA, she has had a lot of firsts such as trick-or-treating, seeing a coyote, seeing all the Star Wars movies and being tackled (and tickled) by small children.  She has learned how to ride a bike, become addicted to bagels, visited Maine, New York City, and Boston (several times).  She has observed an eclipse, submitted a photo to the Boston Globe Scholarship photography competition and walked almost 5 miles by herself to get to the nearest mall.  She joined the cross-country team and though claims to hate running, keeps running on our treadmill many times per week.  She has mastered the art of the “selfie” and I am surprised at how many friends she has made so quickly.  She is a great addition to our family and we love her spunk and playful, teasing nature.

In January, I took my first flight sans kids after having children (I got to read!! on a plane!!) to visit my dear college roommate in the Bay Area and catch up with some other old friends.  I gained a huge amount of respect for single parents everywhere while Jay was constantly gone during his many many professorial interviews.  I also had a mini college reunion with friends in NYC!  After the second move in 1 year, I think I finally know how to do it properly, though am loudly hoping I won’t have to use my new knowledge anytime soon.  I (with a LOT of help from my mother-in-law) painted our entire house and installed baseboards on the third floor while gaining a new love for the mitre saw (again, with a LOT of help, this time from my father-in-law).  I also took up the ukulele and piano tuning.  I accidentally got a small part-time job tutoring high school math and science, which has been so much fun for me.  I’ve also been dabbling in accounting classes and am hoping to keep slowly pursuing a CPA, one class at a time, with my new “dependent’s discount” at UMass Lowell.  

If you’re reading this letter, we must think you’re great and hope you will let us know if you are in the Boston area (or would like to be!).  It would be great to catch up in person and we love having guests!!  We hope this letter finds you well and thriving!  

Merry Everything!

    Jay, Libby, The Frog, Peach, Hazel & Monica

Monday, October 19, 2015

Kid Conversation

So, I'm realizing it has been so long since I've written that I haven't even mentioned we have another foreign exchange student living with us!  This is important because she takes part in this kid conversation.  Her name is Monica and she will be with us, attending the local high school, for the duration of the school year.  She hails from Bolivia :)

Now to set the stage, we were having Family Home Evening - one of our more fun lessons.  I read them the story of the Tower of Babel from the Old Testament Stories book while we ate dinner and then we made towers out of marshmallows and toothpicks - racing against the clock to see who could build the tallest one.  Then we were joking about all speaking in a different language to make it feel more authentic.

The Frog: yeah, I can speak like, "si, si!"
Peach: Yeah!!  And I can talk like Dora!  "Hola!"
Monica: Ok, I'll speak Portuguese
Me: Ok, I'll speak in Hungarian, and Jay, you can speak Japanese
Peach: "Hola!!"
Hazel:  I'll talk like a puppy!

Kid Conversation

We read the scriptures as a family every morning.  It would be kind of entertaining, if I could just remove myself from the pain of getting everyone to cooperate.  The Frog reads really fast and really quiet, so it's hard to understand him.  Peach sounds out every word with painstaking care.  Hazel just repeats what I say.  We just finished reading the New Testament Stories and decided to tackle the "real thing", especially since The Frog will have the opportunity to decide if he wants to be baptized once he turns 8 (in less than 1 year). We think it is important that he actually read the Book of Mormon for himself to help him make a decision.

Anyway, time for the funny part.  (In case you care, we are reading 1 Nephi chapter 3 verse 3)

Me: For behold,
Hazel: Fowah behold,
Me: Laban hath the record
Hazel: Laban hath the wehcoad
Me: of the Jews
Hazel: Hey!  Like Apple Juice!

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Kid Conversation

I'm still asleep (or trying to be) and Jay and Peach come in to wake me up.

Jay:  Peach, this is the beautiful princess.  She has been asleep for many years after eating the poison apple.  If you kiss her, she'll wake up!
[Peach kisses me on the cheek and I open my eyes]
Me: You are my hero!  What is your name, fair maiden?
Peach: Peach
Me: What a beautiful, glorious name!  I will remember it with the greatest of reverence, all of my days.
[Peach is staring at me dumbfounded.  Finally she breaks the silence]
Peach: Mom.  [Studying me.  Then with amazement] You sounded like a real princess!  I've never heard you talk like that before!!!  My eyes were swirling because you talked like that!

Monday, May 4, 2015

Kid Conversation

After playing sardines during Family Home Evening tonight, Peach says after our treat, "I want to play tuna again."

 Minutes later, The Frog comes in and says, "Can we keep playing salmon? Wait, what's it called? Trout?"

**update 5/7/15 - I was reading a book about oceanography to The Frog and on the page talking about plankton it was anchovies were mentioned as eating plankton.  Upon hearing about anchovies,
The Frog perks up and says: "anchovies?  I love anchovies!"
Me:  (unbelievingly) "really? why?!"
The Frog: "You know.... that game!"

Saturday, March 14, 2015

I <3 pi

I love math and I love to bake and I love to eat baked goods, so Pi day is definitely my favorite fake holiday :)

In case you've been living under a rock and don't know why this is the best Pi day you will ever experience...

pi or π, is just a ratio.  Take any circle or cylinder - your favorite can of soup? and measure around the circumference.  Write that down. Now, measure across the circle - the diameter.  Write that down.  Now get out a calculator, if you're math averse or paper and pencil if math is your super-power.  Take the first number and divide by the second and you should get π.

π = 3.14159265359.....

Something else magical?  It goes on forever and never repeats.

So, today is special because the date is 3/14.  (3.14  get it?)

But hold the phone because we get a March 14th every year...  This year is the best one in the lifetime of pretty much everyone you know because the date is 3/14/15. (so do something awesome at 9:27)  Cool right?

I admit it- I'm completely jealous of all those people who go to be at the truest pi day ever - 3/14/1592 at 6:54 AM.

Anyway, this year, I have decided to start a new twist on the tradition in which we not only eat pie on pi day, but we break our family rule of "no treats before lunch" and have pie for breakfast to forever commemorate our experiencing this pi day of our lives.

What can I say, math brings out my rebellious side :)

Friday, March 13, 2015

Kid Conversation

So, Hazel has been wanting to use the potty for months.  MONTHS.  She will decide to go sit on the toilet herself.  I'll get up the gumption to put her on at set intervals for a couple of days... but she just holds it really long- which is mostly awesome, except the accidents are bigger messes and it's harder to catch her accidentally going when you do put her on.  So, yeah, I've decided not to push and let it happen naturally.  (aaand I really don't have time to potty train her.  How do other homeschooling moms do it?!)

ANYWAY, Wednesday night, when I had to put my kids to bed alone (again), and I was super super tired and was planning to go to bed as soon as they went to bed, Hazel decides she wants to sit on the potty like her big sister.

me: No, pleeeeaasse!! I just got you all ready in your diaper and jammies!
Peach: I'll help her mom!  [Hazel], I will always help you use the potty.  And if I'm being mean to you, [The Frog] will do it.

glad she's got her bases covered.

I left to go get some floss so I could do something productive while waiting for her and amazingly, I hear from the other room, "She did it!!! She did it!!!!"

Hazel's reaction was sooo funny - you could see the excitement tighten through her body and she all out screamed!  (it was an excited scream)

I should have known a watched pot never boils...

Thursday, March 12, 2015

My kids don't sleep much, so I cherish when they do

Looking through my photos from the last year, I noticed a lot of sleeping photos.  Must be because it's the only time I can capture them non-blurry. :)

 I think Peach wins for the most odd positions, and Hazel's are mostly because she looks cute.  

and since Hazel is basically non-napping now (except on days when I specifically don't want her to stay up late) it seems fitting to announce this milestone by looking back on the times when she was.

Without further adieu:

classic out-and-about shot.  classic for other people.  rare for my kids.
during loading the moving truck, she slept on a neighbor's (Shumways!) bed.  #miracle 
jumped into bed and fell asleep before landing?
head cold
The Frog's bed is alllways overcrowded with visitors and books and wait... is he wearing a swimsuit under his pjs? 
she slept in a pack-n-play until about a month ago.  now she sleeps on a sofa #poornomad
is that a chick with super long legs?  #onefootedfootie
oh the days of 3 carseats in the back of a civic  #idontmissyou
queen of weird positions
how many times do I have to tell you kids, not to play in the sofa cushions?!!
oh :)
Hazel's first (and last) time napping in a toddler bed
just like her dad - always poking feet out the bottom.  not just like dad, sleeping sideways (thank goodness!)

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Collared Shirt Upcycle

I have too many pictures.

We had to change the way we stored them all last year about this time, and that's part of the reason I haven't been posting as many pictures during this last year.  I finally took the initiative to go back through all my pictures from the last year and get the ones that I would like to remember so that I can put them here.  Hopefully they'll all make it and I'll be able to remember what was going on at the time...  Stay tuned for some picture-heavy posts.

These next pics feel like a life-time ago (sigh, I miss our turquoise bathroom...).  It's funny to see me with hair so straight and short.

Anyway, my mother-in-law knows I like to tinker with clothes, and gave me some quality collared shirts from someone's wardrobe.
 It's just a thin black plaid, if you can't tell.  Nothing special about it.  Just a collared, button-down shirt.
 This is by no means a well-done tutorial.  I never really know what I'm doing, so I don't think to photograph every step since I'm not sure if it will be a good one :)  I forgot to photograph the next few steps but I just put it on inside-out and put pins in my sides to give the body more shape and show off my waist better (which I super need to off-set my super-flat chest).

Then I cut off the collar and cut off the sleeves just above the shoulder seam.
collar cut about 1/2" above the second button
 Then I shortened the sleeves to be short (it's been awhile, but I'm pretty sure I tried to copy another shirt with sleeves I liked.  In retrospect, it would be easier not to cut them off and sew them back on, I would just shorten them since this shirt isn't THAT big on me.  You only want to do this if the shoulder seams are off your shoulder).  Then I sewed the sleeves back on from armpit to armpit (going over the shoulder) and then ran a seam where the pins were at my sides all the way to the sleeves.  I never even trimmed the excess off, so I could adjust it later if I needed to.  (though I never did.)  I used the extra fabric from the sleeves to cut strips about 1.5" wide, pressed in half and then, well, look at the pic...  (Can you tell I've never taken a real sewing class? I don't know any fancy names for anything.  Sorry!)
 I pinned it to the neck and sleeves.
 Sewed the border on the neck and sleeves.  Note that I cannot unbutton the shirt all the way anymore.  I unbutton all the others when I put it on and slip it over my head.  It works fine, but this is no longer able to be put on like a traditional button-down.  After sewing on the embellishment, I pressed it and top-stitched to get it to lay right.
 The bow was an after-thought.  I took one of the cuffs from the sleeve and tied a knot in the middle.  If you look closely, you can see the button-hold on the left side of it.
 The bow is just safety pinned on in this shot, because I wasn't sure if I'd still like it and if it would wash well.  I take it off when I wash the shirt.
I hate being in photos alone...
I'm actually wearing this shirt right now with a mustard cardi and different belt.  It's one of my favorites because it's long and hides my kangaroo pouch pretty well :)

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Hup Cakes

How could I have forgotten to mention "hupcakes"?

hupcake princess, eating a hupcake
necklace and sunglasses are regular additions
We were hand-me-downed (that is not a word) a princessy-looking dress with cupcake fabric on it.  Peach probably wore it once.  Hazel found it a few weeks ago and is LIVING in it.  We're talking sleeping, errand running... she even brought it to church one time and I was late for a meeting so I didn't bother removing it from her clutches before we went inside.  By the time I got out of my meeting, the missionaries had helped her put it on over her church clothes and she wore it in church that day.  *sigh*
purses and crowns are regular additions also
all dressed up to do dishes
Really, though.  I think it's super cute.  :)

Friday, February 27, 2015


Hazel has been talking really well since we moved to New York, and I just realized today that I haven't been documenting her speech very well... (oh wait.  I haven't been documenting anything....) which really doesn't matter, except The Frog loves it when I tell him the funny ways he used to say things, and I know I'm not going to remember if I don't write some of them down.

When I started trying to write this post, I couldn't think of anything she says incorrectly because, in my mind, she has been completely fluent in English since she was 2.  After trying harder to pay more attention, I realized how wrong I was... Really, I've just become fluent in toddler and I hardly notice it now.  So here are some of my Hazel-speak favorites:

mish-a-low = marshmallow
hippo. pawmus = hippopotamus
mato = tomato
atten = pretend
can I do game? = can I either use a kid app or send jibberish texts to your friends?
duff = stuff
seeyol = cereal  (this is often one of the first things I hear from her every day.  "mama, I wan some seeyol. pweeeeez.")
poon = spoon
pah-koo = sparkles
packpack = backpack
pwentzo = pretzel
pah-koles = sparkles
peshel = special
pie-yip = pirate (and when she's being a pie-yip, she walks around saying "aw" instead of "arrrr")

I will probably add more as I notice them...

Also, Hazel has learned to be emphatic when she is especially adamant about something she is saying- her favorite being to scrunch up her face and emphatically say "NOTHING!!"
As in
me: Do you want to nap in your big girl bed or your crib?
Hazel: NOTHING!!

She also knows that zero is nothing, and is pleased to tell you when she notices an "O" or a "0".

Also, I'm amazed to say that she already recognizes all the letters in the alphabet (at least the capitals) and I swear I didn't teach her a thing.  She is also the one most excited about homeschooling - probably because she wants to do whatever her siblings are doing.  Even though we didn't start anything with the others until they turned 3, we have a mini routine we do with her to keep her happy - which is how I discovered she already knows the alphabet!

Jay's mom gave Hazel a baby Cinderella last Summer, and back then she called it "baby Lala".  She now can say "Cinella" but we still call the baby "Lala".  She decided to get another one with some Valentine's money from Nanie and so now she has a "baby Lala" and a "baby Wawa" (Aurora) which I constantly confuse with what babies refer to for "water" and she's always getting mad at me about the misunderstanding.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Kid Conversation

Hazel was clearly doing something very important with her head just underneath the curtains above when I came and interrupted her to inquire about a smell.

Me: Are you poopy?
Hazel: I not.  I jus cwean ah da time. (I'm just clean all the time)

Sunday, February 22, 2015


The Frog is notorious for leaving fake bugs in unsuspecting locations, intended for me to discover.  Indeed, I have been showering with a gigantic plastic spider for at least a week...  I can't bring myself to throw it out because it half makes me smile and half freaks me out.

Though I love the explosion of his awesome laughter (people always tell me he has the cutest laugh) when I feign a scream after finding his hidden token of "love", I must say my favorite part is watching his attempted stifling of giggles in anticipation of my demise.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Kid Conversation

Peach and were in the bathroom, me helping her change from her ballet clothes into a regular outfit.

Peach: Mom, pretend like we're in jail.
Me: (growly voice)  Let's bust out of this joint!
Peach: (growly voice) Yeah!
Me: (thinking I didn't want to teach her how to be a bad guy...)  Maybe we should try to be good guys now so we don't have to go back to jail.
Peach: Ok.
Me: But, what should we do so everybody will know we're good guys now?
Peach:  I know!  Maybe, we could go to a restaurant and when we're all done, we could say "thank you!", then people would know we're good guys!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Kid Conversation

Hazel is becoming a professional staller at naptime (and has been getting away with no naps sometimes too.  Noooooooooo) and has learned the whole, "I need a drink", "I need another song", "I need...."  routine.  One time even claiming she had glass in her foot (a glass was broken earlier that day  in the kitchen and I made everyone get out while I cleaned it up so they wouldn't cut their feet) and needed a bandaid.  Upon closer inspection, and after her pointing out the "wound" that was mysteriously moving around her foot, I realized she was more clever than I had supposed.

Another time, when she could see I was about to leave her for her nap, she requested her "miwk" (milk) and then after taking a sip she decided:

"I don't wan my miwk.  I get cabbadies. (cavaties)  I wan my wadah. (water)"

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Kid Conversation

Hazel has perfectionist tendencies, which is mostly nice because she loves to help me sweep the floor and closes cupboard doors and drawers left open, but the other day when she cried for at least 10 minutes because she couldn't get the cupboard to close all the way (because the garbage was poking out a bit too far) and then when I moved the garbage, she noticed that it still remains about 1/8" open, boy was she mad.  It took me a long time to explain to her that the cupboards are just old and broken and that's just the way it is.  And she still cried.

Here's another kid convo that was sprung because of other siblings messing with our system of organization...
Hazel: (pointing at the offending pair of scissors mixed in with the crayons) Who did that?
Me: I don't know.
Hazel: Mom.  Who did that?
Me: I really don't know. I wish I did.
Hazel:  Jus tell me.  You can trus me.