JB has two U of U basketball tickets again this year, and Max and Ben take turns and they go sit in a group with our friends and their kids. One night, a friend gave JB two of his tickets and he took Andrew and James along with Max.
It started out fine, as evidenced in this picture JB sent me:
But the tiredness set in and the littles started to fade. He wrote, "This is what it's become."
And then he texted me, "Now they're eating someone's leftover pizza crust. I'm pretending I didn't see it because the people around us certainly did."
We have been taking a lot of pictures of Millie under the tree. She was our Christmas present in July! She turned five months old on the 18th.
James and Andrew's last year Christmas jammies were reindeer, and Nona gave these reindeer PJs to Millie a couple weeks ago, so they have all been wearing them together. Except James's are a little tight and he split the bum. I sewed them, and they split again. Drop Drawers.
She also has Christmas jammies from our neighbors, whose baby girl was about the same size at the same time:
Millie-girl doesn't mind tummy time, like our last baby. At five months, she is a lot more mobile. She rolls from her back to her side, and then from there she went to her tummy one time. While on her back she kicks her legs and feet while wiggling her bum, and it makes her move backwards or around in a circle. While on her tummy she is starting to do the inchworm movements. She is getting stronger legs to stand on your lap while holding her. And now it's time to make sure all Legos and Melty/Perler Beads and Rainbow Loom bands are all off the floor.
First sewing lesson!
JB brought the machine upstairs so I could sew after the little boys were in bed. It's in their room, the former spare room, pictured here 5 years ago when then-baby Andrew got his first sewing lesson.
She goes to brothers' basketball games every Saturday, and is sleeping more in the crib across the hall -- when I remember to get up and put her there. She sometimes eyes our food, but it might just be curiosity instead of actually knowing that it is food. Though she got a taste of funeral potatoes at my work Christmas potluck.
I made these leggings for her out of two women's knee high socks.
I took that picture partly to brag about my sewing (but don't look too closely at the seams), but also because this was one of many moments where my heart was just so full of love for her. I am so happy that she came to be in our family.
Andrew is now six, after counting down to his birthday for a long time. And he still has to count down to his first friends party, because we put that off until January something. Invites to come eventually. Procrastination station over here.
He had a very specific vision for his birthday cake. I planned a carrot cake because I had lots of carrots on hand, and we were driving somewhere when we asked him what he wanted it to look like. In the past, I have made him a lion cake, alligator cake, and Yoda.
He leaned forward and said with that excited lisp, "I want it to have Yoda training baby Millie, and it should say, 'Use the Force, Young One!' in Yoda's voice."
He said he wants the same cake for his friends party. Da, da, da da da DAAA da done.
His birthday was on Sunday, and I am pretty sure by the end of 3 hour church, the whole ward knew it was his birthday. He is so gregarious and funny.
We ate cake with cousins that evening.
(side note -- Millie's dress and tights: I die. Also, Ben holding her foot. )
I made Andrew some pajama bottoms from Star Wars fabric, and he got a Star Wars shirt and new Lego minifigures and a double Light Saber I found for $1.00 at the thrift store. But within 30 seconds I realized it was a big mistake to introduce such a large weapon in a home of 4 boys. They all pulled out their current Light Sabers and next thing I knew, our TV and Christmas tree and bookshelves and heads were all in danger of being busted.
I wrote recently about Andrew here. He is such a joy.
Our school focuses a lot on music, and the yearly Christmas music program did not disappoint. Probably because I feel like I am raising some performing artist stars.
I think the direction was for all the 6th graders to do a shoulder shimmy dance thing during the chorus, because I saw a couple of them do it, but our Max did it the whole time. My phone lit up with texts from other parents in the audience. I was smiling/laughing so much my eyeballs hurt.
Ben I didn't get a picture of because my phone died. But he was the right level of spirited along with his classmates.
Andrew had a special part. He was Santa. His teacher says she chose him because she thinks his slight hearing loss makes him speak louder. The class all chanted a poem about Santa's reindeer, counting down from 9 to one, and he had a line each time ("Can 9 little reindeer pull my sled?" all the way down to one, and then he said,"Caaaaalllll Rudolph!").
JB and I were so proud! The music teacher says he stole the show during the performance for the rest of the school, too.
For his birthday, he invited 5 friends over for a late-over. Ben's plans were to watch a movie the whole time. I suggested Pictionary. And it was hilarious to watch and listen to them.
These boys' sweet families all sent them with a gift, which our boy really appreciated. On his birthday itself we had cake:
And he got his family gift - a Lego AT-ST walker.
Ben is funny, sweet, kind to others, curious, loves holding Millie and loves to style his hair (the above picture was bedtime and does not reflect his usual use of hair products), and lately he has been really into organizing and cleaning the main rooms of our house and begging the rest of us to follow suit. He likes spending time at his friends' houses, I think because they have video games and we don't. He uses his spending money to buy gum at the gas station and needs better hiding places for that gum because James chews it all. The life of a second child!
We have busy Decembers. Our two middle boys were born this month, plus JB has tithing settlements and there are parties and neighborhood gifts and hundreds of Christmas Cards to mail and school holiday concerts -- and I don't get much time off because the news never sleeps. JB and I never sleep when our baby has an earache and James and Andrew refuse to wait until the 7 on the clock to come bounding out of bed.
But I digress.
We did get the tree up and I love it. I love it so much. Nativities are next. The tree's lights work better than our baby play mat for Millie to look at, so I sometimes stick her under the tree when I need to use both hands to do something.
Andrew saw her under there and wanted to take a picture with her:
Then he grabbed a Santa hat.
In the spirit of trying to be like my friends' social media posts (and after Andrew came home from kindergarten begging to make one), we/I tried to make a gingerbread house one day from scratch.
That's a big fat nope.
BUT, success story -- on Saturday, all the annual Christmas smoked pulled pork was delivered in record time. JB was up all night, and it took a few hours for us to take turns going out and knocking on doors in the morning. If neighbors weren't home, they didn't get some (sorry!).
This is the picture I posted on Facebook at 8:30 AM, because to be honest, I wanted people to see it and to answer their doors more quickly. It was cold and we had 60+ containers to deliver.
Next up -- Ben turns 9 tomorrow, and Andrew turns 6 on the 18th and he really really wants a Star Wars party and it is his turn but I haven't planned much yet and wonder if we can just push it to a much-less-busy January.
...is how swim lessons are going. See these texts I sent JB last Tuesday:
Yes, I am talking about Jamesy. Andrew is loving swim lessons. I am so proud of how brave he is now to put his whole head in the water, jump in from the side, float on his back, etc.
After last week, the instructor said I could come in a swimsuit and get in with him next time. I laughed...but guess who was in the water the next night, crouched down in 2 feet deep water with a 3 year old boy's arms gripped tightly around her neck? This momma.
Millie had her four month checkup on Monday. She weighs 14 pounds 9 ounces. We have had some baby boys weigh that at 2 months, so it is fun to have a smaller baby for us, because she can wear cute outfits longer. She is in 3-6 month outfits, but I am pulling out the 6 month clothing we have been given. She is growing great. The doctor was pleased with her progress.
BUT -- he found an ear infection. She has had a runny nose (thanks, James) and a grumpy night over the weekend so I suspected she could have one. But she really didn't seem bothered by it.
(headband made by me, shirt previously worn by her Seattle cousin Kate, pants from my sister-in-law Mindy, blanket from my sister Bekah)
Every day we call her such a good baby. She is learning to fall asleep by herself. I haven't had a baby do that since Baby Benny, our Binkie Boy. If we put her down within a certain window, she drifts off to sleep or sucks on her fingers until she's out. But it can be hard to try and sleep-train a baby when she has attentive older brothers: "Mom, Millie is awake." And once they even brought her to me.
She also likes to nurse to sleep and also to have her bum patted to fall asleep. I think it's good to know a few different ways, otherwise you are in trouble if you are somewhere and the baby is sleepy. On the third Sunday when I teach Relief Society, JB is often busy the third hour so other women take Millie for me and walk with her or rock her. If she's in the room I only see her and fret and worry about her and I stumble over my words.
One other note: she did a big gurgly laugh once at something Andrew did, and he has tried ever since to make that same exact noise to make her laugh again. It was some sort of fist pump and "YEEESSSS!"
For many moons I have said the little boys ought to have swim lessons. Finally I got them signed up. See for yourself how it is going:
Some tears the first night from Andrew: "They made me put my face in the water!" But James liked it. Though he had a hard time staying with the group and following instructions. They were supposed to walk like crocodiles on their hands through the shallow water but he marched the other way swinging his arms like a gorilla.
The next week Andrew was growing more sure of himself but James was full of tears. I snuck this picture from my perch on the bench before going over to unwrap James's clinging arms from the teen instructor's poor neck.
They are both older than Max and Ben were when we started their swim lessons at this pool. While watching Andrew grow more confident with jumping in from the side, I had a fun flashback of Max jumping ONTO his instructor wanting to be caught instead of jumping into the water.
We go back again tonight. Anytime I bring it up, James insists he is done, while I insist he try again. I remember being 6 or 7 and hugging the side for my lessons. There were races with a floaty blue kickboard for the last day. My mom bribed me with my very own personal pan pizza if I would just GET in the water. She says I jumped right in and won the race.
Millie has found her hands and it is so cute I can't stop taking pictures of her. For a few weeks now she has been trying out different ways to comfort herself and it is working! We have never had a baby do this.
She lately prefers the two middle fingers upside down. I hear her in her bassinet or in the back of the car sucking on them. That's why there are so many pictures of her in her carseat doing it -- little lady has started to hate the car rides. Like, screaming hates it.
She will take a binkie though at times, which is also nice.
And tummy time does not come with screaming, unlike our last baby. Here she is eyeing toys next to cousin Spencer. She will get squirmy and unhappy if left on her tummy too long, but she can roll over when she remembers how.
She can grab stuff now, so JB's mornings are getting more challenging. He often holds her while typing with the other hand. But can I just say, he dresses her soooo cute?
Her brothers continue to be enamored with her. Ben and Max are great holders/helpers.
And Andrew loves her so much, he made her into a turkey. His kindergarten class had an assignment to disguise a turkey -- suggestions included Superman -- and he wanted his to look like Millie. And then he cried when his teacher kept it the next day to put on the wall.
Her fourth month checkup comes after Thanksgiving, so I will update her weight and stats then, along with her official four month portrait.
On our tenth anniversary I posted about my heart's feelings, and I could repeat it all today.
We are both often very tired and pulled in many directions. Five children, jobs and church callings will do that. But I can say he makes me laugh or smile about something every day. He is always looking to lift my burdens and I always try to do the same for him. It is a good life!
Max's former Junior Jazz basketball coach invited him to be on the "Super League" team he was forming this fall. This was great news to our tall boy who wants to play in high school, college, and the NBA.
When they started practicing, many of the boys were still doing football, so 8-year-old Ben practiced with them for an extra body. He was holding his own, so the coach said, why not have him play in the games with them, too? By the way I say no to football for our boys. Too dangerous.
They got official uniforms and warm up shirts and a team name and everything.
Their very first game was in a tournament last Friday, and they got creamed. 48 to 10. Their second game that night was also bad. JB was with them while I was with our other children at the ward Halloween party. He said all the boys on the team were very dejected afterward. They were used to dominating on their junior jazz teams, but now this is serious stuff, with well-oiled machine teams and confident, skilled players.
Saturday's game was better. I went to that one while JB was at the U game. They were within one point in the second half and ended up losing by 8 or 9, but they all felt much happier about their efforts. I really like their coach's encouragement that they will get better as the season progresses and they practice much more together and at home.
JB and I feel disappointment and hardship is good for kids. How else will they learn? It was hard to see them so sad after those bad losses. But this (we hope) will build resilience and a feeling that they can do hard things and they can improve if they work hard.
By the way, practices are at the coach's church building, which has an awesome nursery FULL of toys. I found a My Little Pony from my youth. JB often takes the big boys to practice and watches them and helps. When I go, I take the little kids into the nursery and text pictures to my family.
One picture from that series when she's asleep in my arms made it onto Instagram. Her cheeks were so squishy.
The boys play in another tournament after Thanksgiving, so, keep your fingers crossed for them!
I am glad that we live just
blocks from our ward building and the stake center. I grew up making long drives to and from. But two locations and two
times for scouts right at bedtime is pretty rough. Especially with JB in Bishop meetings.
They have been riding their bikes, but now it is too dark for that. So here's how last night went down.
6PM - Dropped Max off at boy scouts at the stake center down the street.
7PM - Ben went with JB to our church bldg up the street for his cub scouts
and for JB's meetings, while I took pajama-clad other kids with me to pick up Max.
Read books, brushed teeth, said prayers and tucked little boys in bed at 7:30.
Started nursing hungry baby
At 7:59:30 I shoved a crying Millie into Max's arms and ran to the car
and drove up and ran into the church to get Ben. We came back and I parked, and started running
back into the house when I tripped on the sidewalk and went flying. Knee
scraped like back in 2nd grade. Scrambled up and into the house and
scooped up the baby and she spit up all over my shoes.
8:30 big boys in bed and mom and baby in bed nursing together. Knee stings but everyone is happy again.
This morning I am resolved to reach out to other scout moms for carpooling help. I can't do that again.
We had to have James wear the green dragon costume for pictures. He is the fourth boy to wear it! Just like four boys wore the smaller red dragon costume (which I have now passed on to my brother Peter).
I thought this was a cool angle I took with my Iphone. And can I just get a hallelujah for a great picture-taking session? Everybody smiled and nobody tried to scream their way out of the shot!
Andrew used his light saber he got at his cousin's Star Wars birthday party. Ben was a ninja hunter (I made that vest with special slots for nerf gun darts), and Max was Gordon Hayward. We (JB) had just finished carving those pumpkins.
After the pictures with pink Love-a-Lot CareBear Millie calmly laying in the grass, looking around, Max picked her up -- but I had forgotten that Ben had asked me in the house if he could hold her. So he has his arm around Max below.
And then it was his turn to hold her.
I fully recommend, even if it is a quick conversation, talking before-hand about Halloween night plans and expectations. This was one of the smoothest nights of trick-or-treating that we have had. Max and Ben arranged to go trick-or-treating with two friends, and we told them all the rules of boundaries, safety, and manners and when to be home. I got feedback that they did very well. They also hit every single house they could within the given radius, and had very full pillowcases when they returned. Ben counted something like 150 pieces I think. Oh boy.
I took the little kids for the first round, and pushed the double stroller with water bottles and jackets piled on it. A thirsty, cold Richards is an angry Richards. And James hopped in between houses, so I kept chuckling to myself as I wheeled my three-year-old right to the doorsteps. Only in America can a child get a free ride door to door to get free candy. Then when Millie was thirsty and cold I switched with places with JB. And we were all in bed about a half-hour after normal bedtime.
We seemed to celebrate for a while, first with Frightmares at Lagoon in October. It's always so fun, but it was really crowded this year with the great weather.
But then we had bad weather Friday night for our ward's Trunk or Treat
and chilli cookoff. So people set up in the classrooms and the kids went
door-to-door inside. The big boys were at a basketball tournament with
JB (more about their new team in a later post), and I took the little
boys and baby girl with me.
Andrew was a Jedi again and so happy to have a light saber with him. James wanted to be Batman and wear all three capes we own over his Batman shirt. He found another Batman with muscles. Our Batman muscle costume (courtesy a co-worker!) is way too big for him still.
The boys' favorite each year is Cookie Monster.
There was also a slime machine, and really good chili.
Monday morning came the Halloween parade and class parties at school. It was an early out day for good reason. JB and two of my friends sent me pictures from the 9 AM parade at the school while I was in my story assignment meeting.
It was like I was there, but without the crowds and chaos and music. I just missed giving my boys a wave as they walked by. JB is such a good sport! It can be craziness there.
My co-worker gave me a lot of girl clothes in the spring, and I was so happy to see a little pink Care Bear Halloween costume inside! I tried it on her the first cold day of early October. It is 0-3 months size, and I was afraid it wouldn't fit on Halloween.
I had both a bow and a bonnet on her (funny mom).
She grew a bit taller after that, and at the Ward Halloween party on Friday night I had trouble buttoning it all the way.
But JB managed it the morning of Halloween when he took her to the school parade.
During the month, I also dressed her in orange and black. My sister-in-law Collette's sister gave me the best set of bows in like 14 colors, and so she wore the orange one a few times. One of the pink shades is in the above picture.
The orange-red jacket is from my sister-in-law Bethany's daughter Kate, and the skirt is from my neighbors' girls. We matched for Sunday.
On Instagram I wrote "Matchy matchy orange squared." I also thought of saying "Orange is the new pink." I do see us matching for holidays for a while, tee hee.
The very day that I posted something on Facebook about our fourth boy being known as "Angry Richards," he was almost seriously hurt if not killed. And possibly Maxwell as well.
Every time I think about it I start to cry.
On Saturday afternoon I was with all the kids at the big boys' basketball game at Jordan High School. After, we were walking back to the minivan through the parking lot, and about a row away from our parking stall, when I used the key to open both sliding doors. James ran forward to get into his spot.....and did not see the car.
It was an electric car, so I didn't hear it coming, and I didn't see it because of the parked cars to my left. But Max saw.
He jumped forward to grab James, and that car -- coming up fast, I thought -- slammed on the brakes. It stopped inches from Max. He leaned out of the way and put his hand down on the hood to steady himself.
James came running back to me and I scooped him up shaking. The man was a dad to another basketball player on another team. He came up and said he honestly did not see James at all, and pointed out the skidding marks on the ground.
I apologized, too, for our 3 year old running out into his way, and then I grabbed Max and gave him a big hug. The man then left, and we kept walking to our van.
I got them all buckled in and I just started to sob.
The sweetest teenage girl came up to me standing there by the open sliding door and said, "Are you ok? I saw that! I don't have kids and it scared me, too. Do you need a hug?"
I grabbed her and sobbed my mascara off onto her cute cream shirt. She patted my back as I calmed down. She said, "I hope you have a good rest of your day" and then she left.
Sure James can be challenging with his behavior and his 3 year old tantrums. But he's OURS and in an instant he could have been gone. I think the guy couldn't see him but did see taller Max so that's why he slammed on the brakes.
I sometimes have to tell Max to stop bossing his brothers because he's not their parent. But what would have happened if he wasn't being like a parent in watching out for his younger brother? What if Max had been hurt in saving James?
See, crying again.
I have said many prayers of thanks since then....and many prayers for continued safety in the future.
I have used this very post title before, first here in 2011 when my first two boys were the same age as my last two boys. And the challenges are similar. Energetic younger boy, anxious older boy. Except they don't fight for who goes first down the sidewalk, because we now have a strider/pedaless bike.
And James can go fast. It's something I wish we had years ago. Andrew has training wheels and just never wants to try the strider bike.
He sometimes just walks beside me instead. But we both worry about James when he gets to the corner. One street in particular is busy. Millie loves walks. JB often goes in the mornings, too. Ugh, she's so cute in this picture that I can't stand it. I miss her when we are apart.
I used this post title again in 2014 to lament not being able to really get a good heart rate. Sometimes I think I have been in this stage forever, of pushing strollers and encouraging fledgling bike-riders, and it is no where near over. But I am working on changing my thinking on this. What an amazing opportunity to have young kids who want to go walking with me. They won't be little forever. Max and Ben sometimes come along, but they spend time with friends or shooting hoops or raking leaves or doing increasing loads of homework. Soon this will be the case with all my children...and then they will be gone. Sniff sob.
James Herriott wrote in one of his books about how his boy would go on rounds with him to the farms, and how grateful he was that he got to experience it twice with his daughter. I can feel the same way about so many things. I am able to experience childhood several times over as my babies grow up.