Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Bear Cubs

Raising four boys is really just deja vu (which I've written about before here).  I don't know if others feel the same way with a mix of boys and girls, but I see so many similarities between Max+Ben and now Andrew+James at the same ages.

Here is a 21-month-old Ben sitting on a 3-year-old Max (from this post)

And here is 3-year-old James sitting on 5-year-old Andrew.

It's turnabout equaling fair play from when Andrew used to sit on James a lot (see this post).  Andrew is still the same by the way about James as he was then -- he's always touching him or trying to be in contact with him. It took all my arm and leg strength to block him from getting across me to James on the pew last Sunday when James fell asleep. Andrew: "I just wanna kiss him." Me: "No no."  Andrew: "Can I reach him?" Me (hissing): "Let him sleep! No touchy!"

As I said recently on Instagram, boys are really just bear cubs on two hind legs.  They wrestle and have pillow fights and dog piles and feats of strength.

It's all fun and games until someone comes running to mom with a bad bonk or owie and a need for a cuddle and a kiss. So they are softie bear cubs, let's be honest.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Lagoon A Beach

Lagoon + Richards = summer fun

It warms my heart to see the older boys watch out for the younger boys. Ben and Max each were going to take a buddy on to the ride called Odyssey at Lagoon with them last Saturday, but Andrew decided not to at the last minute. He saw the spraying water, and he is very concerned about his right ear getting water in it. He has a hole in his eardrum still from his tubes experience. 

So in this picture below, Max is already holding on to James, while Ben rides solo.

Ben was so good to Andrew (they squabble a lot at home, over Legos mostly) at LagoonABeach. He stayed right with him in the shallow kiddie pools, while James led me all around them and up and down the stairs and kid water slides. It was last Saturday, and my legs and back were sore for many days. 

Andrew didn't want to do any water slides, he was much happier playing in the sand.

James tries to sit on my lap, but baby girl bump is really in the way lately (the towel is covering a lot of it. It's a big 35-week bump).

So he rested on dad's lap.

Ben and Max are old enough to go down the big slides together by themselves, and come back and check in with us in our shady spot every so often. Though Ben gets cold easily. Here he is trying to get warm in the sun.  (We put SPF 70 on them multiple times.)

The sand was warmer.

The best thing about season passes, is we can go for a few hours right when the park opens, but don't feel like we have to stay all day. This helps momma and boys from getting too tired/hot/cranky. Though I could have gone around the lazy river a few more times, that's very relaxing.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Family and fun

Last weekend my sister Rebekah came to our state on a cross-country trip with Scott (showing him the good ole USA).  Yellowstone, Arches, and lots of nephews!

Bekah is holding Daniel and Max is holding David, my brother Peter's boys.  Rachel's boy-doggie Bently also calmly submits to having his picture taken with the group. Andrew is crying out of view.

I had been getting the little boys into their jammies for bed (it's light, but it was 7:30 PM) and he couldn't find his Star Wars jammies top. He loves those pajamas.

But look at James! So happy! He's the one who usually squeals and squirms and protests out of group shots. Yet he hopped onto my lap and cheesed unprompted for this picture. He barely fits in front of my baby bump belly.

I made classic Deardeuff recipes for dinner:  Hamburger Broccoli Pie, and parmesan green beans. We used to have those dishes all the time.  Peter, Rachel, Bekah and I had fun reminiscing about other foods we ate growing up. And then we all played a board game together. I miss doing that with my family. Pirate's Cove -- Peter brought it, and 8-year-old Ben held his own among the adults.

Bekah is fun and Scott is super nice. We'll need a longer visit soon, here or there.

Last Thursday night JB and I drove up past Kamas to eat dinner at YW camp. He's invited as the bishop, and I used to go to the dinner as a member of the YW presidency years ago, and now this is the third year in a row going with JB.

JB is lower left. I am one of the people holding a flash light in order for the picture to be taken.  It 's such a fun night. We stay for singing and testimony meeting. JB says he's amazed at how much fun the girls and their leaders have, and at how good they eat compared to the boy scout camps he has been to.

And, just to throw in on the end of this post, a picture from the movie theater. We went to see Finding Dory. The picture on the left JB took on his phone, the picture on the right I took on my phone while he was sending me the picture on the left.

Notice James reaching for his belly button during the previews. It was a matinee, and I wondered if he would fall asleep.  He did at church on Sunday in the same fashion, and snoozed on the pew for two hours past sacrament meeting. Woke up during the last Amen.

It was a sweet movie. I laughed, I cried, and Andrew kept trying to hold James's hand while James kept coming onto my lap, then Andrew wanted on my lap at the same time and couldn't fit, but they were both quiet and did a good job.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

His Day

This year we have church at 12:30.  JB is gone all morning for Bishop meetings and appointments.

Afternoon church presents some challenges when it comes to preparation and reverence, because our boys all wake up before or around 7 AM.

I often put Andrew and James in the tub while I do my hair and makeup. Then James likes to run around the house sans clothes before we can wrestle him down. It sometimes works to give him my iPhone:

Ben feels leftout sometimes, because it's often not until church that I can turn my attention to him and tie his tie. I was touched by Max's helpfulness recently:

Lately, those Sunday mornings were getting more full of arguing, of searching for Sunday shoes and socks, of a mad rush out the door at 12:10 (because we like to be in our seats 15 minutes early).

So I was glad to open LDS.org one day and see a Family Home Evening lesson on keeping the Sabbath holy.  It came with a video, and JB took this picture of all the boys watching that video on Monday night.

We talked about how it's not just a list of Dos and Don'ts, but an attitude.  We made some boys-and-mommy goals of how to improve our reverence and preparation, in our choices of activities on Sundays.  It's been so much better in the Sundays since then.

It is HIS day, and it makes our whole week better.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Seattle cousins come to play

My brother Michael and family came to visit this past weekend. They live in Seattle, and I sure wish we lived closer to each other.  I think the last time these cousins got together was when we all went to Missouri in 2011. It was three boys each then. Or maybe they had another quick visit to Utah, I can't find it on the blog.
(I am linking more often to past posts, because it was discovered when my siblings were all together that many of them had no idea I blog. 8 years, folks, of writing for YOU to know what we are up to. I thought for sure I had sent the blog address around a few times).

Before that, in fall 2010, we drove to Seattle for a family reunion and stayed with Michael and Bethany. That's when we both had only two kids each.  Now we are up to four each, mostly boys, except for this DARLING baby girl that I couldn't get enough of during their visit here:

 Yummerific.  We now have some of her too-small clothes for our girl, and I will think of this pink sweetheart every time.

My brother Joe brought a tortoise and a lizard for the boys to all see.  We were at the park, and he should have charged money because so many kids came by to see as well.

 My brother Peter is a really good back-cracker.

Michael showed my boys how he does this spinny-game where the child becomes a corn cob he spins in his arms and pretends to eat.  I should have taken video, it's hilarious.  Boys need dads. And uncles with energy. They are physical and fun and adventurous.

There was also plenty of Lego building together.  When it was time for everyone to go, they spontaneously did this group hug.

The only times I want a bigger house, are when we have family all over at the same time. It gets loud and hot and crowded here. But what a fun time was had.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Um, free!

Ask James how old he is now and he says "free."

He lately is into dinosaurs, and asked for a dino cake.  I got a package of plastic dinosaur toys at the thrift store, and he helped me stick them into the cake.

With cousins after Sunday dinner celebrating this fourth boy of ours.

With the big room switch looming,  JB thought the two littles would do better in two toddler beds instead of the twin bed that we have and one toddler bed. Plus it would give more room in that downstairs spare room of ours.  He found a used fire truck bed listed in the online classifieds, and I went to pick it up last Thursday after work for James's birthday present.  I drove it around in my KSL car for a few days, including to the scene of a 3 alarm fire on Monday that I was reporting on. I kind of wanted to show it to the firemen there, but, they have real fire trucks that are much bigger and cooler....

Monday afternoon my brother Michael (visiting from Seattle) helped JB and the boys bring the bed inside the house.  The boys put a fire truck hat on James to celebrate. 

Andrew was a little jealous at first (Richards boys love fire trucks), and talked about maybe he could get a police bed for his birthday, but then he moved on.

James was so tuckered from his long day of playing with the Seattle cousins (next post), that although he said once that night, "I want to sweep in my cwib,"  he just laid his head down on his new bed in his new room and went right to sleep. He slept in until 8 the next morning. Unheard of.  Andrew handled the room switch great, too. He can still see James, which he likes, and I kept the same bed time routine.  We'll slowly move their clothes and decorations down over the next few weeks before this baby girl needs a girly room.

It's hard to tell which of James's characteristics and personality traits are due to him being a 4th boy, or being 3 years old now.  He is quick to lash out and strike anyone nearby when he is mad -- often it is Andrew who takes his ire, but Ben got some face gouges today. Timeouts a plenty. He has mostly stopped biting people though, after a few rounds of a hot sauce drop on his tongue.

But he can also be very sweet. He puts up with Andrew's need to always be holding his hand or sitting on him, and he likes to wrestle and hug and do nose-to-nose rubs. When he's tired or relaxing, he'll lean back, lift up his shirt, and rub his outie belly button.

He talks very well -- full paragraphs and descriptions and explanations/demands. He likes to run around sans clothes after a bath, but can't quite take his own clothes off yet otherwise I'm sure he'd be a nudist.

Favorite shows still include Daniel Tiger, Thomas the Tank Engine, and Paw Patrol.  His morning routine includes asking for "toast cwunch cereal" and "I want watch PAAAWW Patrol."

Favorite books include Clifford and Little Critter, and anything with trucks, helicopters or dinosaurs.

He's almost as tall and as big as Andrew, so he's hard for me to carry him as much as he would like. And it feels like the clothes I just put into storage I'm bringing out again for him. We have been given a lot of almost-new clothes from another family, and it has helped out immensely so that James doesn't look too ratty.

I get reports that he sings all the songs in nursery.  In the car, primary songs immediately calm him down.  He insists on buckling his top buckle by himself, and likes to put on his own flip flops (though he gets them switched).  Still no desire to potty train on his end or his parents' end.  Little Mr Independent!

Friday, June 3, 2016

End of the school year

Last day of school today! Preschool, 2nd grade and 5th grade are in the books.

Andrew was done last week and has missed his cheery teacher and all the high school helpers at the preschool program.  He is looking forward to kindergarten in the fall, though he has a poor concept of months and may feel like he has to wait a long time.

Max and Ben walked to and from school every day together this year, and would tell me excitedly if they saw each other in the hall or at an assembly. We are trying to teach all our boys to "be a brother, not a bully" and to stick up for each other and be each other's friend. Sometimes it has needed more emphasizing, but overall I am proud of this relationship.

Ben had the sweetest teacher, who didn't give much homework, and praised him lots. She also said he may need to test for extended learning next year -- his scores way high for reading and math.

Max also had a caring teacher, who stretched him and helped him grow leaps and bounds. He couldn't wait to tell us his SAGE (end-of-year testing) scores were all 4s -- the top.

Here is the post from the first day of school. It looks like they have the same shorts on in the pictures, but they don't.

In the final weeks before school came their programs.  Max tried playing the viola this year in 5th grade orchestra. He's on the back row below, third from the right.  He is still deciding if he wants to continue next year (I think it depends a lot on what his friends decide).

Here's Ben at their dance "informance." Dance majors from the University come and teach the kids science and geography concepts through movement. So, they dance like an elephant in the tundra or a fulcrum moving through space (or something).

And Andrew had Spring Sing (which Ben did two times; see these posts). His teacher picked one of his obsessions for his poem:

The blues were unhappy, the yellows were too. 
They wanted to be the same, what could they do? 
They each took a partner and twirled round and round, 
soon they turned green and fell to the ground.

And he sang loudly, like we practiced. I love a ham.

Now, on to the summer and staying not bored and not hot and getting ready for a new baby!