Liberty's 2nd Year

 This is all of us a year ago-- just before Libby's first birthday. She looks so little...
I love this picture because of her buck teeth. I was soooo freaked out when those two front teeth came in and they were humungous. Then the rest of her teeth came, and the front ones didn't look so bad after all. They're pretty great teeth, actually (thank you, Husband.) Plus, they're adorable. And you can see her beloved bunny in her hand. 

Behind all the cuteness is an often-messy little girl giving lots of hugs.
Libby was two months old for her first Christmas, so last year was really her first. First that she was aware of, anyway.

I called this her "first" haircut, but really.. her hair was somewhat of a disaster area from birth, so her baby mohawk and mullet had already been trimmed once or twice before I evened things out for this photo:
She began walking at 9 months, so she was well into it by her first birthday, and delighted us (and the whole ward) with running up to the pulpit every other minute for all of sacrament meeting. 

She began nursery a little early. In the LDS church, babies/toddlers start nursery at 18 months old. Personally, I think they should start when they acquire the ability to run like mad and keep mom and dad from hearing a word of what's going on in Sunday school and Priesthood/Relief Society. When you walk at 9 months, you run like at 12, and that leaves 6 months of craziness at church-- for all three hours-- unless the nursery leaders take pity on you and accept your wild thing a little sooner. Thanks, friends. Much appreciated!

So glad we're done with that stage. Well...? Done? It's just a different kind of game now...
About halfway through her second year, I made the call and weaned my baby. I was so conflicted about this decision. When I'd call her over to nurse, she'd climb up on my lap and giggle excitedly while she waited. It was the sweetest thing in the world. I am 100% in support of extended breastfeeding. But I needed a break after something like 3.5 years of being pregnant, nursing, or both. I wanted a few months to myself before trying for #3. We did it slowly and gently, and she handled it great. All was well.
Warm weather is so fun with little ones! Libs got great at climbing playground equipment meant for much older children and freaking out everyone around her.

She's really good at freaking out adults who don't spend a lot of time around her, and constantly think she's going to plummet to her death any minute. Really, I watch this little daredevil all the time. She's capable of a lot, and while she went through a phase of bonking her head on everything all the time, she made it through that with just one set of stitches and no concussions. And she has a lot of confidence in her abilities as a result. 
I love this picture of my Libby covered in dirt. That's pretty much how we spent April-September.

We travelled across the country and spent 6 weeks at Grammies this summer, and the girls loved it. They love their New Hampshire family: Grammie & Grampa Jack, who she lovingly calls 'Bangy' and 'Pa-Ka', Grampa Gene (Pa-Ka Gene), lots of aunts and uncles, and cousins EJ & Ari, Elizabeth, and Keelia.

She loved the ocean, and all the swimming we got to do!
Fall has been a little bit of blur of moving into a new house, holidays, and right now, re-sleep training.

When Liberty was 5 months and began to army crawl (I know, right?), she wouldn't sit still to nurse, so I gave her the bunny. It had been a shower gift when I was pregnant with Verity, but since Verity never really attached to anything, we gave it to Libs. And she loved it. She would never nurse or fall asleep without it. She's had that little pink.. errrr... not-so-pink-anymore... little bunny for a long time now! We've started limiting how much she can take it out places with her, since we've had so many bunny-related disasters. But that's for another post altogether. Because the bunny saga is kinda hilarious.
People often comment on the following four things:
1: Libby's speech
2: Libby's noise and energy levels
3: Libby's fearlessness in physical activity
4: Libby's curly blonde hair

She really does speak remarkably well for her age. Verity was always ahead of the curve on these things, but I think having an older sister to talk to and play with helped her a lot. By age two, our pediatrician says, he likes to see kids able to put two short words together. Libby uses 7-8 word sentences and 4 syllable words. I wish I could take credit for this (for parental bragging rights, you know... lol), but I attribute a lot of it to interactions with her sister, and the fact that I don't do baby talk. 

It doesn't feel natural to me to talk in a high, squeaky, voice and use incorrect grammar and baby phrases, so I don't do it. I talk to my babies like I talk to adults. That's how they learn to speak. Verity has some perfectionistic tendencies, and while she spoke early, she focused on doing so very clearly. It makes her a great example to learn from! 

And while we read a lot in this house, Libby really only started to sit still for an actual book a couple of months ago. So can't really take credit for reading to her lots to influence her speech development. Cause the kid would never freaking sit still. 

Libby is loud. She has an adorable, slightly-raspy little voice that squeaks a lot, and always sounds just a little bit hoarse. Sometimes, her noisiness is annoying. Poor thing... she tries our patience. A lot.

She never stops moving. Running around. Climbing on everything. Jumping off stuff. Freaking out everyone around her (except usually me, since I'm used to it). I substituted in nursery at church the past few weeks and found the other two girls playing quietly with dolls and sharing toys, while Libby ran around with monster trucks with the boys. Crashing trucks into each other, jumping off the slide. Going down it backward. Rough housing.. 

She has the emotions of a little girl and the energy of a little boy.

Heaven help me with this one...
People often ask where she gets her curls. The answer is, from her dad's side. Although Husband's curls didn't emerge until about age 12, and have all but disappeared since we got married, the genes are there. She got them in full force and I love it. Her sister looks so much like my side of the family, it's nice that Libby looks like such a Judd. I love her soft, bouncy blonde curls.

She is wild and crazy, loving and cuddly. She'll try almost anything I put on the table (I love this about her). She loves her sister and misses her on the rare occasion they're apart. She loves dirt. She loves to laugh and squeal-- literally everything is a game to her. She is 100% all about fun. She doesn't care for sleep. She doesn't see the point in obedience (because, what fun is that?!). She loves people. She's waaaay too comfortable with strangers. She loves her bunny and her quilt. She loves to run. She is hilarious.

We love you, little Liberty!

it turned into a feminist Halloween

A few years ago, I didn't even like this holiday. I mean, I remember having fun trick-or-treating as a kid, but overall, I never understood (and still don't) the need people feel to be one of two things on Halloween: as skanky or as dead & gross as possible.

Not fans of The Walking Dead in this house. Not at all.

Something about Verity's first trick-or-treat experience and making her Little Red Riding Hood costume changed all of that. Seeing these holidays and traditions through the eyes of a child is the best thing there is. The best cure for all the dullness that is being an adult.

Last year, I kinda took costumes one step further and made my girls into the cutest varieties of fowl I've ever seen. (Also enjoyed the last time Verity would let ME choose her costume...) It was epic. Verity as a purple owl and Liberty as a penguin. If only I had good video to upload! She was still a little wobbly of a walker, and her penguin waddle was to die for in that costume!

So this year, Husband threw the idea out that I should post Verity's costume in my somewhat-neglected Etsy shop (Liberty's wasn't my own design, so I couldn't sell it). I did. And I was surprised by its popularity and success, seeing as I did NADA to promote or advertise it. This was both awesome and fun, as well as stressful, since it meant I had to turn a couple folks away in order to have time to make costumes for my own kids.
 Verity initially wanted to be a dinosaur, but request changed to that of a "fire dragon" when we checked out a dragon book from the library, and that one stuck. I'm not the costume-buying type, but even if I were-- they don't make dragon costumes for little girls! 

She specifically asked to have spots on her body, wings, spikes on her tail, and to blow fire. I left the fire part to Husband. It didn't make it into these photos, sadly. It was a neat little addition! Husband made "fire" by attaching strips of tissue paper to a handheld fan, allowing her to hold it to her mouth and ROOOOOOAAAR!!!! She loved it.

I decided she needed to be combination of cute, pretty, and fierce. Verity in dragon form. Her costume came together in the last week before Halloween, and I wish I had done it sooner, because I was kinda costumed-out by then (from all my Etsy sales), and I didn't enjoy it quite as much. Sort of a bummer.

Libby was the Paper Bag Princess. One who didn't want her picture taken, and who insisted on being a cranky-pants and clinging to Daddy whenever a camera was in sight.

For those unfamiliar with the story... princess Elizabeth is engaged to marry Prince Ronald, when a dragon comes and destroys her castle and everything in it, kidnapping the Prince. She has nothing left to wear but a paper bag. She has messy hair, a soot-covered face, and a dented crown. She finds the dragon and outsmarts him. She goes to rescue her prince. She finds him ungrateful for his rescue and disgusted by her appearance. He tells her to come back when she looks like a real princess. She replies, "You are a bum!" and dances away happily into the sunset, and doesn't marry him after all. She's my kind of princess.
This unintentionally became our mini-feminist-in-training Halloween. When Verity wanted to be a dragon, I needed a simple costume for Libby that went well, and came up with The Paper Bag Princess. It was perfect for my wild, crazy-haired, dirt-loving, gender stereotype challenging, little girl! 

I don't even really consider myself a feminist in the normal sense of the word. Maybe an Emma Watson type of feminist. Or in other words, the non-man-hating type of feminist. The kind of feminist who encourages her daughters to be strong and independent, and maintain their God-given femininity. 

I love that Verity wanted to be a dragon. I made her the best little girl dragon I could-- in shiny pink and sparkly orange, and a dress. She was perfect.

I love introducing princesses like Elizabeth to my girls, because frankly, Snow White and Sleeping Beauty are overly naive, walk right into danger, and spend half their story in a coma waiting for a stranger's kiss to wake them.. and they marry the guy they barely know. Ariel? Rebellious, reckless, sells her soul to the devil and is left with (basically) her body to seduce her "true love." When that fails, lover-boy and daddy come to her rescue, and in the end, the parent admits the teenager was right and the stupidest plan of all time is deemed correct. Yeah... we don't do a lot of Disney at our house. I just prefer better role models. Like Elizabeth. The kind of princess who says, "You're a bum! I can see your true colors and I'd rather be happy on my own than in a bad marriage."

Call me a feminist. I'm okay with it. We all do what we think is best when we make decisions about raising our children, don't we?

Our new ward didn't do a trunk-or-treat this year, so we were a little bummed that the girls only got to wear their costumes once. But they LOVED it! Last year Libby was worn out and fussy after about 45 minutes of trick-or-treating. This year, she would have gone all evening, had her older sister not wanted to stop sooner! 

Verity got pretty scared every time someone answered the door in a costume with a mask, or there was a giant spider to dodge, or something making scary sounds or moving as she approached the door. We did a lot of hand holding. I love her.

Liberty pretty much ran around wild from house to house shouting, "Candy! Candy!" and laughing endlessly. Half the time with a giant lollipop in her hand so she wouldn't lose it among the rest of her candy. I love her.

It was a wonderful evening, a wonderful season, and lots and lots of fun. I'd say I'm already excited for next year, but... I think I'm going to keep a safe distance from my sewing machine a while longer. And just enjoy Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Verity's birthday first.

Little kids in costumes-- it's the very best thing about Halloween!


our anniversary, and how Husband sent my hair up in flames

On the 16th we celebrated our anniversary. 10/16/10. We kinda chose a cool date to get married. Mostly I wanted it because October is one of the most fabulous months of the year, and because it sounds so beautiful to say. October sixteenth. So pretty!

That was actually somewhat of a big deal for me, since I was born on March first. March. First. Blah. Blah. Chop. Chop. Not enough vowels, not enough syllables. Not melodic sounding at all. (I'm equally, if not more, neurotic about names.)

So on October sixteenth *peaceful sigh* we celebrated 5 years of marriage. Half a decade.

What's funny is that for some reason we act like it's still 2010. Like we stopped recording time when we got married or something. Does anyone else do this? I think time just speeds up faster and faster the more chock full o' happiness it gets. Like how your firstborn's first year of life took a whole year-- full of documenting every teeny milestone-- and with your secondborn, you're all,

"What?! When did you learn how to walk? Didn't I birth you just last week?"

It's like each kid speeds up time while simultaneously sucking away additional hours of your precious sleep and making sure every waking minute is filled with so much noise you can't finish a single thought or adult conversation.

But it's happy at the same time. It's a happy chaos that we live in.

And when I stop and pause when the 4 of us are together as a family, I am simply flooded with gratitude. This life is beautiful. I love the people I get to share it with.

Anniversary plans came together kind of last minute. We had planned to go to a favorite restaurant in town, but both of us were kinda inwardly bummed that that was the best we could come up with for a 5th anniversary. (Okay, husband had more grand ideas, but being the worry wart that I am, I don't like to be away from my kids. Maybe someday I'll learn to relax and have fun without them... maybe.) So on the morning of, Husband texted me and suggested we go to the Haunted Mill in Teton. And I flipped!! It was perfect!

Background Story: 6 years ago, Husband-- then known as Jordan-- took me on a date that he'd carefully planned as a sort of dealbreaker date. We'd dated off and on so much that he'd gotten it into his head that he just needed to make things happen between us, or it was the last time he'd ask me out. I was on the fence about him. I never turned him down and always enjoyed spending time with him, but I wasn't exactly dying for him to make a move or anything, either. 

So on this date, which we now refer to as "the Creeper Date," because... well.. you'll see. Jordan made great preparations for the evening. He picked me up and brought me to his place, where we made salmon tinfoil dinners and packed them up into his car. We stopped at the video store (OMG... how dated this already sounds!!) where we rented an old Alfred Hitchcock film in the Halloween spirit, and drove out to a nearby park where Jordan set up some camping chairs and started a fire. It was already dark, and it was particularly chilly that night-- thank you, Rexburg winds. I was glad he came prepared with blankets and lots of firewood! 

We warmed ourselves by the fire and chatted while our dinner cooked. We ate it and it was delicious. He totally scored by cooking a New Englander fish for dinner! (Westerners' loathing of fish and seafood in general is high on my list of annoyances in this culture.) Jordan set up the movie on his laptop, which we had to turn our backs to the fire to watch, and a precedence was set that night for our ongoing Halloween movie dilemma: we are always trying to find good scary movies to watch in October, but neither of us like real horror films, so we either go too far and get freaked out beyond repair (okay, mostly me) or we're bored to death by the lameness. We thought Alfred Hitchcock was supposed to be frightening! Turns out, intensity in thriller films has greatly increased in the past 50+ years. Lame Halloween film number one was watched that night.

And you know what the best part was? About halfway through, the fire started to die down and needed some prodding and additional wood. I was cold. Jordan piled up the fire and it got toasty again. At one point shortly thereafter, I caught him staring at me out of the corner of my eye, and, wondering what to do (you know, cause did this guy like me or not?!?! was the question) I turned and looked at him. He was not gazing at me adoringly or transfixed by my beauty. No, he was terrified. And he was looking slightly behind me.

"Ummm.. what's up?" I asked.
He kept staring, mouth slightly ajar.
"Is everything okay...?" I repeated.
He gulped.
"Uuuuhhh... don't freak out, but... how do I put this?" He kept staring at the back of my head.
"Please tell me. You're starting to scare me!"
"It looks like... your hair caught fire..."
"WHAT?!?!" I reached frantically behind my head and felt around to confirm that my hair had, in fact, been thoroughly singed by the flames, aided by all the product I had put in to keep those gorgeous waves in place all evening. 

I didn't want to make him feel bad. He had put so much thought and planning into this and I knew he didn't plan dates like this for just anyone. I laughed nervously, unsure of what to say. What do you say to the guy who takes you on a date and burns your hair?!?!

"Well, it's not on fire now. Shall we finish the movie?"

He agreed. After scooting our chairs an additional 12 inches from the roaring bonfire, that is. I preferred to be a little colder rather than sacrifice my remaining locks. 

We finished the movie, and it was totally anticlimactic. The film, and the fact that absolutely nothing happened between us-- because in case it wasn't obvious, he had totally planned that date to get us together. Take a girl somewhere dark, alone and secluded, build her a fire for romantic lighting and cook her dinner, rent a scary movie so she'll have to snuggle up to you...? Total Creeper Date. And it completely flopped.

In addition, our conversation later turned toward something I can't remember anymore, which indicated to Husband clearly that I was not ready for marriage and motherhood. He was right. I wasn't.

Post hair-pocalypse, Jordan drove us out to Teton where we waited in line in the freezing cold winds outside the Haunted Mill for approximately an hour before we concluded that we wouldn't make it back in time for curfew. And we couldn't go breaking a rule like that. Not at BYU-Idaho. Not when everyone would know and see that their ward's executive secretary and relief society president were out breaking curfew together. Nope. We couldn't do it. Guilt got the better of us and we stepped out of the line, returning home with 10 minutes to spare and a raincheck for the following weekend. 

***fast forward one week***

I dressed a little more warmly this time, but still needed to borrow his gloves. I wondered why I even agreed to a raincheck on this after the previous week's events had so clearly spelled out to us that it just wasn't gonna happen. We were not ever going to be a thing. I could sense his lack of enthusiasm as well.

Conversation while waiting in line turned to books and reading. Over the noise, Jordan said, 

"I have a goal to read a book written by each prophet and apostle."

To which I would have thought: Oh, what a nice goal! That's so spiritual and refreshing!

However, over the noise, what I heard instead was:

"I only read books written by prophets and apostles."

To which I thought: Oooooookaaaaaay, you freaky weirdo. Deal broken.

We went through the Haunted Mill, and it was a blast. We had so much fun. Not too scary, definitely fake, and I admit my heart rate was elevated enough one or two times that I took his hand when he offered it and may or may not have used him as a human shield from various ghouls and zombies. We came out laughing. The awkwardness was gone and I was happy to be with a friend. 

***fast forward 6 years***

Husband: We should go to the Haunted Mill tonight!

Me: OMG!! Yes!!! We totally should!! But it's way up past Rexburg. Not sure I want to leave the kids with a teenager while we're that far away...

Husband: Hmmm.. yeah.. maybe we shouldn't..

Me: Unless we take them with us...? And find a sitter up there...?

Husband: You want to take them with us on our anniversary date? Who would watch them?

Me: I'll see if I can find someone last minute... that would just be so perfect!

..and so plans were made. The girls came with us and played with their Miller cousins while we went out for sushi (which was freaking amazing)
grabbed some treats at the Cocoa Bean and reminisced over old times on a nostalgic walk through a much-changed little town of Rexburg.

I was a little more scared this time, as we waited in line for like an hour and a half (instead of awkward conversation this time, though, we got to kiss occasionally. So much better this time around). The place was packed with students and we were reminded that we were now at LEAST 6 years old than everyone else in line... because remember that bit about time stopping when we got married? It's like everyone around us keeps getting younger, while we stay the same age. College students? So young! Us? Still college students in our minds. Except that I'm 30. 

At one point, I overheard the rednecks in line behind us (who were most definitely younger than us both) refer to me as a "young lady" and I grinned. I laughed about that later on. I guess when I'm not toting small children around with me... I can still pass for my early 20s? Yes? Maybe? Lol. It so doesn't matter.

Just as we were about to go in, the masked ghoul at the entrance got right up close to the people in front of me and I was freaked. One was a little girl, no older than 7 or 8, who wasn't afraid AT ALL. She was smiling. How is she not screaming in fear?! Who on earth thought to bring a kid that small to the Haunted Mill?! I wondered. Her group went in ahead of us. We were next.

Husband whispered something to me about it being tough to get scared when you can smell the plastic of their masks from 3 feet away. I wasn't convinced.

Not two minutes later and that same little girl came running back through the doors with tears in her eyes, and a brother with his arm around her shoulders.

"That's going to be me," I said, voicing my anxiety loud enough for everyone to hear.

Our turn came, and let me tell you... I. FLIPPED. OUT. The whole freaking time, I was flipping out of control. Screaming my head off. Barely able to move forward. 

We stepped through a door, and our balance was thrown off as we narrowly avoided stepping off the edge of ledge (it was a glass floor. but it was totally freaky). 

We had to walk with our backs against the wall, to keep from slipping off the ledge and falling, and I imagined hands reaching through the fabric to grab my throat. Rats crawling out of it like the underground Venetian tombs in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.

We passed people. Is it real? Is it fake? Are they going to....


It was real. Husband said it wasn't. We kept going.

I may have started hyperventilating.

We walked through a quiet room lined with dolls on shelves. On the floor. Dolls hanging from the ceiling. A girl at the door on the far end had painted her face like a doll, and wouldn't talk but only cackle freakishly in your face while you waited to go to the next part.

We crawled through a tunnel lined with carpet on all sides. It was pitch dark. I was thankful for Husband's flashlight app.

I don't like confined spaces. I blame my brothers for folding me up in the sleeper sofa when I was kid. 

I rushed Husband through as much as I could. I was terrified.

We walked down some stairs and a dead woman with saw came out at me, staring me down relentlessly.

I screamed and screamed and screamed. I was paralyzed. I screamed some more.

I asked her just to move out of the way and let me pass her. She stared at me with her dead eyes and didn't budge. She revved up the saw again as Husband dragged me past her, hysterical. What a horrible human being! 

Hands reached out from the walls and grabbed at my hair. Hands reached through the open staircase and grabbed at my ankles. 

We made it outside. Phew! I was happy to be done.

"We made it halfway!" Husband said.

I stopped dead in my tracks. 

"WHAT?! You can't be serious." 

"This is the halfway point. We have to go back through in order to get out. There's no other exit."

"WHAT?!?!" I started to freak out again. I insisted I could not go back in there. 

A ghoul approached us and I shouted at him.

"Get away! Get away! I'm done! Leave me alone! Just GO!"

He spoke calmly and showed me a way we could bail if we really wanted to. I didn't trust him at first. But to me, it was a matter of life and death. The way he showed seemed risky. But I couldn't imagine making through another 10 minutes of that place. So we climbed through a broken down, exposed hall to the other side of the building, which led us safely to the parking lot. 

"I'm sorry! I'm sorry! I just couldn't handle it!"

"Hey, it's okay, " Husband laughed, "I think we definitely got our money's worth."

He had enjoyed himself. I guess that was all that mattered.

As we climbed into the car and drove off to pick up our little ones, I reflected on my recent hysteria.

"I think being a mom changes you. Everything is scarier, everything is more dangerous, more cause to worry. That must be the difference. When we came here 6 years ago, I laughed through it! It was fun! I don't know what came over me tonight."

"I've never seen you scream like that," he chuckled, "That was pretty incredible."

We chatted with our cousins Matt and Sarah for a few minutes while we got the kids in their jammies and loaded them up in the car. They went right to sleep. And so did I. Being a parent is tiring. Haunted things are exhausting. I kinda wanted another hot chocolate from the Cocoa Bean.

We had a wonderful time. 

Maybe Halloween attractions aren't the way most grown ups spend important anniversaries, but we loved it. For us, it was perfect.
I'm never walking into another haunted anything for the rest of my life.