Sunday, December 31, 2017

Christmas Day

Christmas Day was so much fun. We tried to stretch out the opening of presents so we wouldn't be all done by 8 AM, but such is life.

The best moment came when it was James's turn to open his first present, and he had a big box wrapped with his name on it. He opened it, saw the Batman Tower, and gasped, "Oh! Santa REMEMBERED!"

The other big moment was when Max got a phone. This came earlier than I wanted (I had said high school), but a friend did not need their phone anymore after they upgraded. It was quite cracked, so we paid to have it fixed. It is also very basic -- no data plan, lots of privacy protections, etc. But now with a texting app he can reach us after practices or while babysitting, and he can text his friends about homework so they don't have to text me. Everyone at middle school (he claims) has a phone, and kids younger than Ben are getting them (don't get me started about how mad that makes me).

Ben's main present was the Millenium Falcon Lego set. It is his biggest set ever. He says to write here that he is using it in his MOC (My Own Creation) of Takodana, from The Force Awakens. we took this picture after several hours of putting it all together.

Andrew got some mustaches in his stocking, which I thought would be just a gag gift, but it was one of his favorites that day.  JB kept teasing him that it must be cousin Andre visiting, because he didn't look like our Andrew.

My sister Rebekah, and a random dude on KSL Classifieds, help me fulfill these growing Chiefs' fans wish for new gear. Bekah brought the shirts out from Kansas City at Thanksgiving, and random dude had three new hats for sale in Salt Lake City.

Ben also got BYU socks, and Max a Utah shirt. Taking sides.

Andrew and James also got some things for play-pretend/imagination/dressing up, and Andrew got more Star Wars Lego sets.

Don't forget girlie! She didn't really care. I got her a little dolly and she just shoved it aside. And I wrapped up some new books for her because she loves books, but I think she was too distracted by all the fun happening around her to notice.

I gave JB replacement plates and cups I found on eBay for those that have broken out of our set, and some other things. He got me new boots and lotion and a new top, all of which I LOVE.

We went to see Coco in the movie theater with Richards cousins and Papa, and JB proclaimed it to be better than Star Wars (the boys disagreed). And we had dinner all together. Then we got a double blessing -- JB's brother Scott and his wife said they are having a baby, and my brother Peter and his wife HAD a baby, though it was December 26 already in Japan. Baby Birdie, the sweetest name for a girl after their boys.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Christmas Eve

Before Church on Sunday, I took a picture of the boys by the tree because I was so proud of how they looked. Ben and James usually wear a checkered or striped collared shirt, and I convinced them white shirts and ties would be fancy for Christmas Eve.

Millie-girl got a new bow (made by me) and I wore my Christmas sweater to church. My mother-in-law gave it to me 13 years ago after a trip to Hong Kong. I was wearing it each time we told family on Christmas that we were pregnant with our July babies, Maxwell and Millie. I could not wear it when I was 9 months pregnant with our December babies, Benjamin and Andrew.

JB also looked nice, I can assure you. But even on Christmas Eve a bishop is busy on Sundays and I never snapped his picture with us.

We went to Nona and Papa's house for traditional pizza dinner and new jammies.

Everyone with Nona and Papa: back row -- Maxwell, Emily, Spencer, Millicent, Benjamin, Millie, Jane. Front row -- James, Phineas, Andrew, Aaron.  We were missing Kate and Harvey in Idaho, and Carver in AZ.  And two new Richards baby cousins are coming in the spring.

The rat pack blonde crew of boys

The big cousins

The three youngest didn't cooperate very well for a picture together. Mine kept trying to walk away, for one thing. 

I had a lot of memories swirling about of Christmases when I was younger.  Six siblings got together with my parents at my brother James's house in Kansas City, and that left 5 apart:  Rachel in CA, Michael in WA, Peter in Japan, and Joe in Springville Utah. 

Weird that I have 5 children and I feel like my family is large! But it's not half of my growing up years.

Here are our five on the nice list before heading to bed.

I had everyone tucked in at 8 pm even though they begged to stay up later.  And I had wrapped everything the previous two nights.  Some time off work and a weekend meant late-nights with shows and Christmas movies!

Meeting Santa

We went to the Jolleys pharmacy to see Santa last week. I didn't realize until the car that Ben was the only one not wearing red. Christmas girlie had a red bow that you can't see next to Max's sweatshirt.

Girlie also didn't want to be held by Max or be near Santa or away from momma. But everyone else looks good!

Andrew sat on his lap but couldn't decide what to ask for. James got shy, but did say he wanted "A Batman Tower with a Grabber Arm."  He has been very specific about this for months.

Did we resort to bribery and pleading and coaxing and using Santa's name to try to get him to behave better before Christmas?

That's a yes.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Sutton Foster and Hugh Bonneville

When the guests artists were announced for the Mormon Tabernacle Choir Christmas Concert this year, I didn't even think we could get tickets (they go SO FAST). Not only did we get to go, but I got to kinda meet Sutton Foster and Hugh Bonneville!

She is incredible on Broadway (I know from YouTube only), and on Bunheads, though the Gilmore Girls guest star appearance was weird.  He is Lord Grantham forever to me, though my boys know him from Paddington.

Many of my work days are hard. Wake up sooo early, drive in the cold darkness, cover depressing stories of crime and political fighting. So when there's a chance I can cover something uplifting and fun, I jump at it. Friday December 15th was a news conference with Sutton and Hugh (first name basis over here now apparently), and I got to go.

They were so so nice. Very friendly and funny. When it was my turn to ask a question, I asked them about their Christmas traditions, now that Sutton has a new baby. She talked about making Christmas cookies and how the baby brings all their familyi together; he talked about Christmas pudding and falling asleep during the Queen's speech.

Then that night, JB and I went to the concert with the media passes they gave me.

I smiled the whole time, except during "Sunshine on my Shoulders" when I thought of my mom, and during the sad-but-turned-uplifting-story of the Spofford family that Hugh narrated.

It started so late that I got the little boys tucked into bed before we went, and Max and Ben watched Millie. Max texted halfway through that she didn't want to go to bed, she only wanted to roam around the house.  She does that.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Andrew is seven

Our Star Wars-loving, joke-telling, kind-hearted Andrew is now 7 years old.

He requested a cake with Yoda on it for the third year in a row. We took it to Sunday dinner with the extended family the night before his birthday this week.

On his birthday itself, he had a musical "informance" at school. I couldn't get away (it was right during my main morning news meeting) so JB took video of our cutie.

Nona and Papa gave him a Star Wars Lego set, and we gave him a BB-8 clock for his room.

He has had three years in a row now of a brand-new Star Wars movie coming out the weekend of his birthday.  I tell him it's just for him. My work rented a theater, and we went Saturday.

I got there first with Andrew, and JB came a half-hour later with Max and Ben from basketball. Nona and Papa watched James and Millie.

I later said that I would totally take the boys again to watch  The Last Jedi again (so many things to notice the second time) and James yelled, "No going to da Wast Jedi! Don't weave me again!"

Andrew remains such a joy. Reading back over the posts below, I see trends and personality traits continuing. He is quick to laugh and wants to make others laugh. We do have to censure the fart/poo/burp jokes sometimes. He really really prefers the Utes to BYU. He can take the longest to get his pajamas or shoes or coat on, or do his homework. He just gets distracted or daydreams. He stays awake at night longer than he should, just chilling in his bed or quietly playing in the dark on the floor.

He is still on the shorter side compared to his older brothers, but I guess not too bad compared to classmates. But I get his clothes mixed up with James's clothes.

He adores his baby sister, and wants to be like his older brothers, and wishes his younger brother wouldn't steal his stuff.

He is very curious about how things work, and asks such interesting questions sometimes that I have to tell him I honestly don't know! But he is very smart. I got another reading scores report from his first-grade teacher, and it is insanely high. That's my boy!

Andrew's birth
First birthday (looks so much like Millie)
Second birthday (gosh I remember those snuggly days)
Third birthday (sleepy, hat-wearing cutie)
Fourth birthday (alligator cake and big blue eyes)
Fifth birthday (with an almost identical kissing picture as above! And a Yoda cake)
Sixth birthday (another Yoda cake, and some of the same clothes that still fit him)

Friday, December 15, 2017

Air Force One

In early December, President Trump visited Utah, and I was given the assignment of covering his plane landing in Salt Lake City.

I don't care who the President of the United States is, Air Force One is awesome.  It is just a breathtaking sight to see in person.

In April 2015 I was assigned to cover the departure of President Obama from Hill Air Force Base, so I narrated him as he arrived and went up the steps, waved, and then talked the listeners through the taxiing and takeoff. 

This time, I helped narrate the arrival of the plane at the Air National Guard Base for our radio listeners, and then President Trump coming out of the plane, meeting with supporters, and being whisked away for the rest of his visit. We had other reporters at the other spots of the trip.

Each time I had to arrive really early for security sweeps and Secret Service screening and clearance. I brought sandwiches and hard-boiled eggs. The other reporters were complaining of hunger.

I also brought lots of cold-weather gear. I knew it would be a wait out on the riser, and it was 32 degrees or something like that.

They put you on a flatbed truck trailer not too far from the flightline/tarmac, so you can be high enough to see everything. Flights in and out of the Salt Lake Airport (right by the base) were halted for the time of the approach and landing. It was soooo smoooth.  

President Trump is taller than I thought. Come to think of it, so was President Obama.  He went over to shake hands, and met a pair of teenage twins dressed like him and the vice-president. I interviewed them afterward for a story for the radio and they were a hoot.
You can listen below.

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.