aaaaand... she's three!

She was born breaking the rules, this one. Remember her story?

Forever I will have to explain.

"Wait, what? You had a water birth at the hospital?!"

Yes, I did. And no, that wasn't the plan-- at least not my plan. But apparently, it was Libby's.
You know those people who will do anything to bug you, simply because they enjoy getting a reaction out of people? I never cared much for those people. I never understood what made them tick. Why do they enjoy irritating people? What's so entertaining about being a pain in the neck?

I wonder this almost daily now that I have one such person of my very own. 

And you know what the thing is...?

She's also the sweetest, cuddliest, quirkiest, and funniest little human I know.

And I love her.
 She is 100% fun. Total type 1, yellow, otter personality... whichever categorization you best relate to. Fun is this girl's top priority. 100% extrovert. 

Once when approaching the checkout at Costco, Libby's eyes opened wide and lit up and she said,

"Mommy! Look at all the people! I love the people!!"

She nearly jumped out of the cart and hugged them all. Complete strangers.

After reading a small portion of The Child Whisperer (which I've been meaning to read further, because I think it's excellent), I made some changes in my parenting strategy with this one, and some changes in our routine, and it made a real difference in getting her to stop flipping out of control as severely. 

It's so interesting and challenging for me to understand how this girl works, since she is so different from me. Her sister Verity...? Total mini me. I understand her completely, even when (especially when?) she's a pain. But Liberty is soooo my opposite.
 I often wonder what God was thinking in sending me this child. 

How could I possibly be a good mother to this kid who is so alien to me?!

And then I stumble into some profound life lesson and realize how much wisdom and understanding I wouldn't ever gain if it weren't for her.

I'm thankful for this wild girl.
 At three, Libby's speech is kind of amazing. I mean, she did start early, and I'm around her all the time so I'm used to her. It's not till I'm around other kids of a similar age that I realize how advanced she is. Or till we visit the doctor and he drops his jaw. 

My girls' pediatrician has often suggested that perhaps one contributor to their strong willed natures is their intelligence. 

Does anyone argue when they're told their children are exceptional? 

(This always makes me laugh.)

At about 18 months she started showing interest in potty training, but I guess it wasn't fun enough or something, because even though she could and sometimes did use the toilet, it was a long time before she committed to the idea of potty training. I seriously couldn't get the kid to sit still long enough to go. Even if she was sitting on the potty, she would wiggle and dance, feet would inevitably end up around the back of her head, nothing made it in....etc. She refused to wear diapers for a long time, too. Refused to wear diapers, and refused to use the toilet. 

Ask me how much fun that stage was.


The morning I went into labor with her baby sister, Liberty decided she wasn't the baby anymore-- she potty trained and didn't look back. 

It was nice, actually. Because Husband was home for a week and a half and did all the work for me while I cared for our newborn. 

 She never stops moving, unless she's asleep. And even that's not entirely accurate.

She's also still a lousy sleeper. 

She boycotted naps a while ago, so I've instated quiet time for an hour every afternoon to keep myself sane and my kids from fighting nonstop. It's a wonderful time of the day.
 But really. When I say she never stops moving, I mean never. Ever. 

I think she has such a hard time falling asleep simply because she can't control her little body. 

Always wiggling.

I've wondered about ADHD.
 She started gymnastics a couple months ago and really enjoys it. Lots of jumping, climbing, rolling and flipping around... it's a great outlet for her. 
 When she gives hugs, she wraps her arms around your neck and shoves her face in yours. Sometimes this hurts. Usually I try to ignore that and appreciate being smothered with her affection. 

She is so loving. So cuddly. So sweet.

She loves her Daddy so, so much. Wants to be with him round the clock. The smothering is intense with him-- he is her human jungle gym, full of cuddles, tickles, and lots of airplane rides and rough housing in general. They're a joy to watch together.
She recently tried to graduate herself early from nursery at church.

For a good month she refused to go, and insisted on attending primary instead. I felt bad for her teachers. After a couple of weeks they sent her back to nursery. 

I don't blame them.

I think the term "all over the place" was part of their description of her behavior.

But the new year is coming, and sadly... they're in for it.
 I sometimes feel like Calvin's mother when we leave her with a sitter-- if they demanded more money and advances like Rosalyn, I'd see it as perfectly justified. 
 Before we butchered our turkey for Thanksgiving dinner, she would get all riled up just seeing Libby approach her. I could walk up to her, care for her, even pet her or pick her up just fine. But send Libby near her.... and it was loud warning chirps and ruffled feathers every time. I think Liberty may have been chased once or twice.

I guess that's what you get for teasing animals.
What else do I want to remember about her at three years old....?

She loves to try new things. It's so exciting for her, and she is completely fearless. Any kind of physical activity, game, toy, new friend, new foods... she is amazing across the board.

I really love having a child who isn't insistent on "kid foods." 

The other day she took 2 bites of her PB&J, and refused the rest. Then she stole half my grilled turkey, apple, and brie sandwich and cried when it was gone.

It is an absolute delight to see her beg for caesar salad, taste our sushi, sip my herbal tea, and dip everything in each new kind of sauce she discovers, even when we go out for Indian food.

There is so much love, sweetness, energy, intelligence and adventure wrapped up in this tiny human. She is such a joy and such a headache. She wears me out and fills my heart.

Happy Birthday, Libby Lou! We love you.


Ross's Sandwich

It's been 18 years since that episode aired, and over those years I've kept revisiting the idea of Ross's Sandwich-- wondering what it tasted like, what it was made of, etc. This year I created my own version of it. And while I'm no professional chef, I like to think I could give (the fictional) Monica Gellar a run for her money with this plateful of deliciousness.

If you haven't seen this particular episode of Friends, please go watch it. I promise you you"ll wanna eat one too.

Being the adoring a wife that I am (with a small culinary obsession), I made this to suit my husband's taste: only a hint of cranberry flavor, and real fried onions (like what you top green bean casserole with).
-3 slices sourdough bread
-cranberry sauce
-fried onions (I battered and fried my own, but the premade kind for green bean casserole will work too)

-Begin by trimming the crust from one of your slices of sourdough bread and submerging it in hot gravy to absorb it well (this will create your moist maker).
-Butter one side of each of the remaining slices of sourdough and grill the butter side only in a cast iron skillet on medium heat.
-Make the cranberry mayo using a simple mixture of mayo and cranberry sauce (the ratio here is flexible-- make it as strong or weak as you like).
-Spread the soft sides of your grilled bread with the cranberry mayo.
-Heat the stuffing and turkey.
-Assemble sandwich as pictured below.
-Enjoy. If you bring it to work with you, remember that a knock-knock joke or limerick of some kind may not be enough to keep your co-workers' thieving hands off this deliciousness.

We hosted Thanksgiving yesterday for the first time, and it was really really fun (more about that in another post). Things I learned about my husband: cranberry sauce is gross, and the crunchy fried onions are the best part of green casserole. Also, I need to learn to make yams the way he likes.

I personally don't like the onions. I pull them off. But since they're his fave, I battered and friend them up just to make it extra yummy. 

Occasionally I break my "I don't cook food I don't like" rule. Because I love him. 

And since I didn't make cranberry sauce yesterday, but thought this needed a hint of cranberry flavor, I made do with some of the sugarplum jam I made this summer from the trees in my backyard. It turned out lovely.

Whenever I create something new in the kitchen, Husband encourages me to write it down immediately, so that (1) I don't forget, and (2) it doesn't exist only in my mind. Husband likes to be able to make stuff without asking me for what will inevitably be a confusing description, full of approximations and guesses, of how to execute a given task.

So this is my newest entry in my little black book of recipes. Kinda looking forward to enjoying these sandwiches every year after this!

Anyone else attempted to make Ross's Sandwich? And since we have tons of extra food... how else do you use your Thanksgiving leftovers? Favorite ways to eat them?

Hope everyone had a wonderful holiday, with family, friends, and delicious food!


Halloween 2016

This is the unimpressed expression on the face of a child who has yet to learn how awesome October 31st is for kidlets all across America, and who has no idea how dang cute that little lamb hat is on her.

We gave the little ones a deadline of mid-August to decide what they wanted to be for Halloween. After that, there would be no changing their minds.

Verity said she wanted to be a purple bunny. Liberty wanted to be a red raccoon. Why the animals? Why the colors? I really don't know.

But I suspect it has something to do with that purple owl a couple years back and the subsequent etsy sales which have resulted in the production of many many different colored owls.

We did really well this year with costume sales, by the way, more than doubling what we did last year, while still allowing me time to design and make my own kids's things, and only requiring outside help in keeping up with housework once (big thanks to my mother in law on that one. sooooooo helpful!!) Not to mention we still had time to celebrate our anniversary and I didn't have to stay up late sacrificing valuable sleep to meet a deadline. No complaints here! It was a successful season.

(Note: I never intended to run my own small business from my home. This whole thing started on a suggestion Husband threw out there last year, which has been a surprising success considering we've done nothing in terms of self promotion or advertising. So I've been thinking maybe I should run with it. Kinda already getting excited for plans we have for next year.)
And so in August I busted out my sketchbook (which had been collecting dust for far too long) and came up with these two. Or rather, ideas that led to the creation of these costumes. A few rounds of trial and error, shopping around for the right materials, etc. are what developed these bad boys. Some additional adjustments will make them ready for the shop next Halloween.
This marks year #2 in which Libby's thrown a fit right when I pull out my camera, so we just worked with it. All three girls lying on the ground (onto which she threw herself in protest of wearing her hood for photos).
Vera got to wear her costume to ballet last week and it was perfect for practicing those graceful leaps across the studio. It was adorable.
(a calm in the storm: no smile, but no screaming either!)
In previous years, we've gone trick-or-treating with cousins in our old neighborhood, but decided we wanted to stay near home this year, and be around members of our ward. So thankful we did, too, as it was fun to knock the doors of our friends and say hello to familiar faces as we walked along. When the headless horseman came riding down the street, we knew who it was. The hot cider we were given was certainly alcohol free. Baby Hero stayed warm in the stroller in her fleece and sherpa, with her handmade cableknit blanket from Mommy to keep her cozy. She didn't make a peep the entire time.
(I love these sweet sisters!)
(bunny costume details-- the faux fur button up cowl neck is my favorite part. Inspired by Thumper.)
Sometimes when I don't blog, I make long mushy posts on Instagram to quickly jot down my thoughts while they're fresh in my mind. The caption with this photo read:

"It's not very often that I get to be in pictures with my kids, since I'm usually the one behind the camera. Halloween is a holiday I enjoyed as a kid but then never really cared for again until I got to experience it with kidlets of my own. On Halloween in 2012 I lost my second pregnancy at 10 weeks. On Halloween 2013 I was full term with Libby, and we stopped every few minutes with contractions, although she wouldn't be born for another 5 days. 2014 was a magical childhood dream of a night. 2015 I can barely remember-- newly pregnant with this little nugget and could have easily passed for a zombie without even wearing a costume. 2016 has been such a blast! The early years with little ones are filled with such ups and downs, and I'm so thankful that this one will be a pleasant memory to look back on. I love my little family."

I love to look back and count my blessings over the years. Even through the hard times, life has been good to us. I'm thankful to be able to enjoy this holiday with my kids-- that the little twinges I feel when remembering my miscarriage don't keep me from being happy every October the 31st. I'll certainly be happy for every step taken while trick-or-treating that is free of contractions... I'm going to be happy about that FOREVER. 

I love these photos. Especially those of little Hero. I've already planned her costume for next year, no joke.

Other thoughts:
-voluntary candy taxation happens at this age. it's perfect.
-kids don't know what the good candy is, so I've had my share of snickers while they eat their lollipops and smarties.
-maybe I'm a decent seamstress after all.
-our ward and our neighborhood is really great. this place is growing on me.
-I'm thankful that no one here finds razor blades or contaminated needles in their kids' candy.
-Really. Just stop it, you sick human beings.
-I really thrive on creativity.
-I'm looking forward to getting my social life back now, and staying on top of dishes and laundry all on my own.
-It's November! I love this time of year!
-I need to stop having babies right after holidays. I'm almost too pooped to handle birthdays this way.
-someday I'll get my act in gear and actually dress up myself. I have this replica of Katniss' cowl from Catching Fire that I knit last year **geek out** and have yet to put to good use.
-someday Husband and I will go as Buttercup and Westley while my hair is still crazy long.
-I don't want to wish away these early years with children, but I'm also looking forward to when they're old enough for Harry Potter **geek out again**

Photo sharing on social media makes Halloween so fun! I love to see my friends kidlets all dressed up and psyched for trick-or-treating! Thanks to everyone for sharing! 

It's been fun, friends. It's been fun.