Wednesday, December 23, 2015

December happenings

Lots of stuff this busy month. The funniest was the message I got at work from JB after Andrew came home from preschool:


"This cute snowman came home beautifully outlined with mini marshmallows.   The terror twins made quick work of them.  Glue is totally edible right?"



I also missed the Christmas program at school because I was sent to Provo that morning on assignment to "find BYU students excited about the bowl game" (it was the last day of finals. The first four students I finally found, all said they "weren't into sports").


So JB took pictures and video for me. See Ben on the back row:


Max on the back row:


Also this December and on through the season, Max and Ben take turns going with JB to Utah basketball games.


May I also add here, that Ben was pretty funny during the Las Vegas bowl, where Utah and BYU played each other. I was watching downstairs in my Y gear, and JB was upstairs in his U gear. Ben tried to change shirts during the game depending on how each team was doing. He'd also run down to see how I was doing. Not good, but there's always next year.


One Saturday morning this month, my parent company had a party for all radio, TV, and newspaper employees. When I heard Darth Vader and a Storm Trooper would be there, I knew I had to invite the cousins, who are now (hopefully) becoming as obsessed as my boys about the franchise.


I took them to the TV set, too.



Santa was also there. And I was worried my boys wouldn't look good in the picture. I should have been more focused on me, haha! But look at Ben -- I die.


JB wasn't at my work party, because he was helping get our ward party ready. We got there just as it started. And JB (in one of his mom's amazing Christmas vests), read a book to everyone.



Also happening in December, much snow. Already more snow than we got all last winter.



I have this whole week of Christmas off from work. The best part is sleeping past 3:30 AM, to be able to wake up around 7 AM and see my bed-heads in the morning happily crunching their cereal. Another plus, I was able to go with them this year to see the window displays downtown.


I'm very happy I was opening my eyes in this picture JB took of us. These boys are so handsome. It's a busy time of year, but I think we are doing a good job focusing on family and being together.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Andrew is 5

It's hard to believe that Andrew was born 5 years ago. Now he is a young Jedi master in training.

Max is the photographer for these birthday kissing pictures. I spy James.



He got a talking Yoda doll. It says different Yoda phrases when you push his tummy.


He also got a Star Wars blanket that he now sleeps under (though James tries to stuff it through the slats of his crib). We tried to get a picture of them but they mostly all look like these below:



Andrew was hyper and excited all day long, and even more hoppy-happy when Papa and Nona brought by new Star Wars jammies and socks.



On Sunday for family dinner I brought his birthday cake. He requested a Yoda cake. It says "Five Andrew is." In Yoda style of speaking. JB thought we needed a picture of me with it for posterity.


Andrew had only one candle on there but Ben made sure to help him blow it out.


Andrew is so imaginative. He can make up the most interesting scenarios and talks them all out as he jumps from couch to couch (against our rules, but he persists). He is really getting into drawing now and writing stories (almost always Star Wars-related). He comes up with stories to answer my requests that he put on jammies or clean up his crayons and paper. Hah.

He and Ben are getting along better as middle children and can play well together these days. He and James also are becoming best buds but still can throw it down and tussle. They come out of their bedroom together in the mornings in the 6 AM hour insisting they saw a 7 on their clock already.

Andrew wants to be grown up but doesn't, if that makes sense. He's a good eater but isn't as tall as his older brothers were at this age. He's still wearing 4T but some 5T now fits (and fairly recently even a couple 3T favorite things that we vacated from his dresser). His older brothers were long before this in 5T. But, comparing to his classmates, he's not short. Just shorter for a Richards I suppose.

He holds hands so sweetly. If he's sitting next to you, chances are he's reaching for your hand or has his feet on you. He's always reaching for James's hand, or a new baby cousin's hand.

He asks every night if he has preschool the next day or if I work the next morning, and we go over the days of the week every night. His favorite expression is "Oh Mom!" or "Oh Dad!" before he starts to spout off a new story or exciting thought.  Andrew is enthusiastic, energetic, excitable, loveable and opinionated and so so cute.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Ben is 8

 I sense a theme. The Star Wars is strong with this one.

We are fans anyway, but this year it's just full-on Star Wars EVERYTHING at our house. Here is Ben showing off his gifts for his 8th birthday this past Sunday.



Ben said he wanted a Star Wars cake. I thought about making it also look like a basketball, hence the orange, but I ran out of chocolate chips to melt to use for the basketball stripes after I did the lettering.  I had little fingers helping themselves to the chocolate chips.



James. So innocent. BTW he turned exactly 2 1/2 on Ben's birthday.



Max organized the brothers into making a card for Ben.


We used to call this boy Baby Benny, and Bennihana, and Benjabobbers. Now he prefers "Ben." 


He's very excited to now be 8, because now he's in Cub Scouts, and he's going to have his bishop's interview (with his dad) soon, and he will be baptized on Saturday, January 2. 

Ben is sweet, sensitive, smart, stubborn, determined, perceptive and quick. He is very good at math, loves to play on my iphone or on the computer when I will let him ("I'll clean up first!") and is enjoying learning coding through the Hour of Code program at school. His teacher says he is kind to others. He loves playing and watching sports -- especially basketball. He loves the Utah Jazz and reads the sports section of the newspaper. He tries to wear some blue because of me, but most of his stuff is red. And marked Utah. I keep saying he doesn't have to choose one, right? He often looks to his older brother Max for approval, and they go everywhere together. Friends get both of them on play dates. A package pair, with the sticking-up-for-each-other, but mostly the arguing. He is growing so tall already. We love him so.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Thanksgiving

This year for Thanksgiving we were invited to Idaho to spend the night and eat with JB's sister Sarah and her husband Joe. Nona and Papa were already there visiting their darling brand new baby who just came to earth. And we got to cuddle him, too.



Andrew and James played so well with Kate. It was really so cute to see the cousins giggling and playing and getting along. Which was really nice, because I have nicknamed them The Terror Twins lately because of how they wrestle and fight like bear cubs.





While there, they played basketball in the church gym Wednesday night, and a great round of football with Joe's ward Thanksgiving morning. In such snow!

 James and Kate wanted to see themselves in the camera.


 

JB and his dad


Kate has tons of boy cousins all around her age


For several days afterward, James would ask, "We go Kate's house?" I also must get that recipe for banana pudding from Sarah's mother-in-law. And I should have snuck some yummy Idaho potatoes to bring back.

The next Sunday I took the boys to Springville while JB was doing more tithing settlements, for a post-Thanksgiving family dinner with two of my brothers and their families. Alas the camera did not come to capture the boys help my brother Joe feed his animals, and play so well with Kaylee and David.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Escape

I am a fan of escapism.  To keep my mind off my mom's health, or the troubles of friends and family, or stressful news stories (yes, I work in the news and even still the stories bother me), I have been trying the following things the past few months:

British TV, like Downton Abbey series 6 (watching online from the UK. Don't judge, and call me when you watch it on PBS in January because I will be watching it again, too, and then we can talk).

Hair blogs/instagram accounts/Pinterest boards.  I daydream of braids, twists and updos and try them on myself either Sunday mornings before church while Andrew and James grow cold in the tub beside me ("Keep splashing, mom just needs a couple more bobby pins!"). Or I try it in the car, where I then try to take a picture of the back and keep failing.







I used to do this same thing with cake decorating videos and blogs (see some of these posts when searching frosting on this blog). Thinking of cake decorating actually helped me fall asleep at night. Braids do now.  Someone told me it's a form of self-hypnosis.

Monday, November 23, 2015

You are getting sleepy

I was looking through my pictures file for a picture of JB and me (because 12 years!) and I realized the pictures I want are on JB's laptop (first world problems), but then I found this one from a while ago, and it reminded me that I would like some commiseration because almost 2-and-1/2-year-old James did not nap Saturday or Sunday.


Run on sentence, yes, but there it is.  At least it was on a weekend when I don't need a nap by not waking up so early for work, but JB was gone most of Saturday (because Utes) and all day Sunday (because tithing settlement bishoping) and I had to face the cranky James alone.

However, this wasn't too bad, because a) other moms do this every day all day all by themselves so I can take a weekend, and b) Jamesey has three great older patient brothers. Well, two patient older brothers and one (cough cough ANDREW) who actually helped him escape his crib because "Mom, Jamsey isn't asleep!"

James spent those afternoons rolling around like a bear cub with Andrew, and biting all his brothers. We are really working on the biting but he just won't stop! In fact he now asks for hot sauce as a pre-emptive strike against the punishment I was trying. Just a tiny drop, mind.

I was trying to remember what I did when the naps stopped for the other boys and before they were in school til 3. Max would do a quiet time with books and activities, but by Ben, I think that's when I began the afternoon movie tradition. And JB started working more from home in the afternoons, too, to help guide a wayward toddler back to naptime/quiet time and guard my napping door Or I went to bed earlier and didn't nap as long. Right now it's 2 hours afternoon, around 6 at night for me. Yawn.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Fall is for football

At the end of October, Max and Ben and I went to a BYU home football game. They won 70-6, so my boys heard the fight song a lot. Granted, they played a pretty poor team I had never heard of, but still.


I love BYU. The campus and stadium bring back so many memories. I chatted away about my time spent on the sidelines for my sports broadcasting class, about my time in the stands with my roommates and friends, about this class and that class, about my job in the Harman Building/Conference Center by which we parked the car. All the boys thought was that it was far away from the stadium to walk.

After that game, the boys watched the U of U play that evening on TV. They have not been happy about all the late starts the U has had this season. While daddy and Papa are at the home games, I make Max and Ben go to bed at the half. They grump their way downstairs to their bedroom but watch the highlights the next the morning.  They didn't even get to stay up to start the last BYU game at 9:30 PM.

Now, why, you ask, is this picture of handsome JB officiating a wedding in a fall football post? Because several of the wedding guests remarked that he sure looks like BYU head football coach Bronco Mendenhall. I ate it up. He was a good sport about it.


That was a nice wedding, in beautiful Kamas, with an incredible dinner afterward that they invited us to.

JB is getting good at weddings. He's done three now and has the best remarks -- not too long, with just the right stuff to say.  He's also, unfortunately, getting good at funerals if you will. We've had some dear and sweet older ward members pass away since his time as bishop, and probably a few more to go. Such is our neighborhood.

Friday, November 6, 2015

My mom

Thank you to all who have expressed concern about my mom.  She's now in a rehab portion of the hospital. It sounds like she is getting better after her stroke(s), but then I hear a report from a sibling or my dad that worries me about her long-term outlook.

 
(me and my mom circa 1999 when I was home for a break from college)


I worry because she's the only mom I've got, and I feel I haven't been able to have a better relationship with her these past few years. We disagreed on some things, and geography is the biggest obstacle; she's several states away. But I could have been much better at FaceTime or calling instead of texting, or writing notes or sending cards or so many things.

I regret that the last few texts I sent to her last week, were all about me. They were often about me lately. My pain, my sadness, or asking for advice on this or that with the boys, or talking all about how the boys were doing.  I didn't ask her much about how she was doing.
 

(November 2003)


I feel guilty for not taking her health concerns seriously enough in the past few years, or for not recognizing warning signs -- perhaps she would have listened to me? But she's the mom, you know?

I hope that everything will be fine. People say recovery can take time, and that prognosis can be good with the right medication, speech therapy, occupational therapy, etc. 


(My mom with baby James in June 2013)

I pray the things I love most about my mom will remain. Her humor, her care for others, the memories of her childhood and mine, her mothering/pregnancy/breastfeeding advice, her hugs and kisses on my cheek, her talents.

Mom, if you read this someday in the future -- and I pray that you do -- I love you.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Pinewood Derby

In October was ye olde Pinewood Derby.  These boys pestered daddy for weeks to work on the Pinewood Derby cars with them, but he had it all under control.

Enthralled:



Ben was able to participate officially, because he is almost a cub scout himself.



One heat (under the direction of a rather interesting fella who seems to have made Derbies his business), had Max and Ben going against each other. Ben's car was faster.



And Max was such a good sport about it. Look at him clapping for Ben in the background as Ben moved on to the finals.


Ben I think came in 5th.


They tried so hard to temper their competitive natures with the fact that "it's all just for fun," and they were not as bummed on the way home as I thought they would be.  I think the extra treats the leaders gave them helped after we had stayed to pick up and put away chairs.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Halloween

My mom has been in the hospital. So has my brother Joe. I know, I know, enough for a full post in and of itself. Suffice it to say they are both doing much better, though with more recovery ahead from what appears to be diabetes and stroke for my mom, and back surgery for Joe.  Our thoughts and prayers are with them, and I am often texting my dad and siblings far away from me for information.

I have been sending my dad pictures and videos to show my mom while she recovers, including this one of us getting ready to trick-or-treat.

video


Yes, the force was strong with us this Halloween.


All four boys were Padawans/Jedis for the ward Halloween party and classroom parties, and JB wore a Darth Vader mask.  Oh, and I buried the lead -- I put my hair in Princess Leia buns (I really want to insert that emoji with the face that's laughing/crying).


Then before the actual day of Halloween, our friend brought over a kids Darth Vader costume, and Max did a "gimme, gimme gimme, I need I need I need."



James as we went about the neighborhood, was sometimes mistaken for an Ewok or Yoda. No biggie, as long as he got treats. He gobbled half his bag as we were going along. He has been a treat-monster by the way this whole week. "Tweat? TWEAT! Waaaaaaaa!"


Here's my full outfit. I am the fighting Princess Leia. Mainly because I didn't want to wear the one white dress I had. It felt....sacrilegious.


Andrew was probably the most-happiest of all the boys this Halloween. He was in Star Wars heaven. His face when JB came in with that Darth Vader mask.....and then when I came out of the bathroom with the Leia buns....."OOOOOOOOHHHHHHHH!"


I've already scooped out mucho chocolate for myself from the boys' bags. But Max thinks he can make his bag last until the end of the year. Muahahahaha, we shall see (James has already found it).