Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Ben is ten!

The baby we used to call Benihana is now ten years old.  And what a birthday week he had.

On Wednesday, I sent cupcakes to his class, and we had donuts at home, and opened his presents.

This is the face of a boy who got the Star Wars Lego set he wanted.

Papa and Nona with Ben and his present.

Then that night was cub scout pack meeting, where Ben was awarded his Bear.  I was chasing Millie and came back to see JB painting his face with the colors that each meant something (honor, courage, etc).

Then on Friday, the 4th graders went skiing. His teacher posted pictures of the kids on the bus, including Ben singing into a microphone during the drive. It really isn't too far up the canyons to the resorts. And we were able to rent his equipment for the day.

I was there when he got off the bus. He said he really liked it. Start saving, kid, skiing is expensive, even in the state with the "greatest snow on earth" as a slogan.

Then on Saturday was his friends birthday party. We only do these every couple of years, and we swear this is his last. It is also our last one in the church gym. I can't handle all that craziness anymore!

Ben kept inviting more kids. He is friendly, he has a large primary class and a gaggle of boys he runs with at school, and he said he didn't want anyone to be left out. Somehow we ended up with 17 kids there, though they were never staying still long enough for a good count.

Baby Benny turns one here (with red pajamas)
Benny-boy turns two here (with a requested football cake)
Sports-obsessed Benny turns three here (with a football cake again)
Turning four here (with a big extended family party and a plane cake that looked like a whale)
Five is here (with a basketball cake and his first bigger Lego set)
Huge sixth reptile birthday party when everyone he invited came  (sense a theme?) is here
The switch from Benny to Ben came when he was 7, here (with a Pokemon cake I am still proud of)
He turned 8 here and got lots of Star Wars stuff and still preferred the U (now it's the Y)
And I swear i just posted about his ninth birthday the other day. (Star Wars, socks, and a bball cake)

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Stephen's visit

Just over a year and a half ago I was at their wedding.  This week my little brother Stephen and his wife Sarah came to visit from Missouri. She has some family here in Utah as well, so it worked out perfectly.

We had them over for Sunday dinner. JB's roast is always delicious. And his frozen ice cream dessert is as well.  I made the honey oatmeal bread that I feel like I have really mastered now. And I roasted Brussels sprouts and made gravy so I feel like my cooking skills are really coming along.

Their 9 month old Matrim is the cutest thing. Millie however kept taking his toys and books and anything we got out for him.

Here she is scooting backwards into his space.

James became fast friends with Sarah. He just talked her ear off, and showed her all his creations, including his fishing pole with one of my hair clips on the end of some string.

 Here is Matrim with his cousins all in a row.

I pulled out old photos to show Sarah when Stephen was younger.

He was ten when we got married. He's on the left in the front. Doesn't he look like our Andrew? And look how cute my little sister Sarah is. She was 4 and I think she looks like our 4 year old James.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Musical Ben

4th grade Ben took part in the school musical this fall. It took a lot of practices after school, but he put in the time and says he really enjoyed himself.

It was called "Musicville," about people who live in Musicville, and their water gets poisoned and they lose their voices if they drink the water. He is one of the people who was begging for water. Don't worry, it had a happy ending.

He was really fun to watch. Millie and James got tired halfway through, but Andrew was enthralled. Max was also very supportive.  JB went to both nights and got these better pictures the second night closer up to the stage.

JB and Max made a candy necklace for Ben for congratulations on a job well done!

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Thanksgiving battle, games, pie, and great weather

What a fun Thanksgiving week!  My sister Rebekah flew into town with her English fella Scott, a very nice chap (ok, I'll stop trying to be British). I had a couple days off work, and we had a fun couple of days together. As for the turkey day itself, my brother Joe and his wife Susan and sweet daughter Kaylie drove up from Springville.

We almost had all the original Deardeuffs, as we call ourselves, except for the next youngest-brother Michael.

Look at the gobbling crew:

We moved the couches from our living room, brought in two tables from the garage and everyone fit fine. Food stayed on the kitchen table, and it was GOOD. 

I did the turkey myself and I am very proud that it turned out so moist without a turkey bag like my mom always used. I have made a fuss over the years about stuffing inside the bird, and I did it this year, but JB's stuffing is fantastic made by itself in the oven. Dare I say it was better. The man can cook. He also did Pioneer Woman green beans, mashed potatoes and gravy, etc. 

Someone else who can really cook is my sister-in-law Susan. She brought rolls and pie.  And ohhhhh the pie. Here's Ben sampling the squirt-in-your-mouth whipped cream.

Ben was also happy that Bekah brought egg nog. He and I have been the only ones drinking the rest and that is just fine by us.  James and Andrew were particularly fond of the apple cider she brought.

The weather was beautiful. 60 degrees! We played outside.

We also played inside, with a new game Scott brought called Exploding Kittens. They took Max and Ben to Thor in the movie theater, and the boys loved it. They said it was so funny. It's something I wouldn't have thought about going to go see.

On Wednesday, Bekah suggested something she saw while driving called Battleball. There was a Groupon for half-off, and I would totally do this again. 

It's basically like a nerf gun battle, with 2-inch foam balls in a room with stairs, tires, barrels, etc. James and Andrew looked a little overwhelmed by the equipment but all the boys really really loved it.

JB and I took turns following this lady around. Her favorite was the mini-golf course there.

I am soldering through the rest of the leftovers, taking some to work every day. 

Monday, November 27, 2017

Leaves and acorns

My leaf-rakers and smasher-downers were back this year to help not only clean up our yard this fall, but other yards as well. 

Andrew our goofball stomped down leaves in our brown can with some dabbing action in October.

We again helped our dear friend Ann on the next street (she gets dumped on by a huge tree). And our neighbor a couple of houses down, Larae, wanted extra help this year with all her acorns. Hundreds of them. We went over a couple times to clean them up. When I hinted that maybe the tree ought to go, she said "Oh no, no."

Jamesy loved getting buried in the pile.

And he popped up to photobomb the picture I was taking of Millie in the leaves.

Andrew told me all about this stick he found in the brown can, as he rested from his stomping labors.

Here are both my good helpers in the can -- I was not going back to Larae's house one more time, I was determined to fit all her leaves in at once.

These boys snuck some acorns back home in their pockets and I found them softening in their room. They said something about wanting to feed the squirrels they were going to catch and keep as pets.

Books all day

This little 16 month old girl LOVES books. Loves to be read to, loves to turn the pages, loves the same book over and over. 

She'll carry them around, then hoist herself onto the couch, perch by JB, put the book into his hand and lift his hand up.

Notice the fidget spinner she placed on his chest for safekeeping while she heard this book 5 times in a row.  

She likes some of the board books we have had since Max was a baby. Other favorites include the Jane Austen board books we were given when she was born.

As noted before, whenever James finds my phone he opens the camera by swiping left and then he just starts taking pictures. Sometimes he catches a slice of family life, like me cleaning up the toys below, and Andrew reading to Millie. 

Another time he caught me reading to the bookworm.

We have a lot of books in our house. Maybe too many, but I did see a study once that said more books = higher grades, more success in life, etc.

Almost 7 year old Andrew was thrilled when I found a cupboard full of books I had forgotten about, including some Arthur chapter books. This cupboard was filled by Ben when he cleaned out his and Max's book shelves of books he deemed too young for their room now.  I got a joke book from the library and he has been poring over it and asking me what some of the puns mean.

12 year old Max is liking the Gregor the Overlander series for his school book reports (same author as Hunger Games), and almost 10 year old Ben reading the 3rd Harry Potter book now. They both are getting the newest Diary of a Wimpy Kid book for Christmas, but I think they lean more toward informational texts and non-fiction and graphic novels.

4 year old James is into dragons lately, so during our trip to the library we found a bunch of dragon picture books to read at night (including a special one I accidentally picked up without realizing the momma dragon dies of cancer. That was a shock to read cold last night with no warning). He still likes dinosaurs and we still read of those at night together. He notices when I skip over parts, and he thinks all the large ones with teeth should be the T-rex even though duh that's an Allosaurus.

JB just finished That We May Be One by Tom Christofferson. Very good read. He had our ward discuss it for October's 5th Sunday lesson, and I have heard a lot of great feedback from that.

I just finished A Gentleman in Moscow and I highly recommend it. It is a slow, nice, laid-back uplifting read.  Now I am into some of Laura Ingalls Wilder letters from the library and I keep reading out loud parts to JB.  And during a recent thrift store perusal, I found a collection of short stories called The Road to Yesterday by LM Montgomery, one of my all-time favorite authors. By the way it's funny to see copies of your favorite books on thrift store shelves -- I want to buy them all so they are not lonely. Or place them front and center so they get a good home.

Sunday, November 19, 2017


I go through fits and spurts of crafting or sewing, and I have had a busy period lately.

It started when Andrew found his un-framed birth date cross-stitch in my sewing box. So I framed that, and finally got to steppin on James's creation and finally Millie's.  James is four after all.

Here are the first three boys:

Here is James

Here is Millie's before I put it in a frame

And, since I felt like I was on a roll with the cross stitching again, I made this for her room

Then I remembered seeing something on Pinterest about cross-stitching over crochet stitches, so I made this fox hat for the next person I know to have a baby boy.

And, even though Millie barely sleeps in her own crib let alone has a pillow, I embellished this pillow case with some embroidery stitches for her. I did the crochet edge when I was pregnant with her.

The boys wanted to try sewing and crafting, too, so I helped Ben and Andrew make stuffed thingies (that are now somewhere under the couch), and I put embroidery thread on big needles for Andrew and James to sew through fabric. James LOVED it, happily stabbing here and there randomly.

Andrew had several crying fits when he felt it wasn't perfect, or when he went over instead of under or the thread got tangled. I told him that even Nona and his Great-Grandma Crossen make mistakes while sewing after years of practice, and it doesn't have to be perfect. That helped him settle down.