Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Wrapping up the school year

Just a few days left this week and next for this school year.

My kindergartner Andrew had a rock show in his class. He showed this Agate that JB brought back from Brazil. He has adored full-day and all he has done and learned. He chatters the most when they all walk in the door at 3;10.

Then 3rd grader Ben had his class informance (dancing and singing about math concepts this time). Ben can move across that floor, and wasn't shy about it.

6th grader Max has been the busiest. He had a Greek mythology fair, an orchestra concert (we recognized the Pirates theme out of the three numbers, but 3 year old James kept asking, "Are they DONE?"), and a WWII program and swing dance.

Kelsham S was his partner for the dancing. They all practiced for weeks. Kids with older siblings who had been through it before, told the others at the beginning of the year that you had to find a partner stat, OR ELSE. It led to some stress. 

We were proud of Max for asking Kelsham (her mom was also pleased). Then the word came that you were assigned by height. And they got each other anyway. 

I loved the dance. And I sent two pictures of my still-living 95-year-old WWII Navy-vet grandpa in for the slideshow.

Next are field days and water days and movie days. Their testing I think is all done.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Ten months

This dolly doesn't like to lie down (lay down?) on blankets anymore for her official monthly pictures. She wants to be standing. And she has a favorite spot out front.

She will often be waiting there with JB for me to come home every morning. Or she stands by the toy drawers.

Our other babies also liked that spot.  And this spot, on the dishwasher.  She was quite proud herself when she climbed up the first time.

Our Millie is so curious and crawly and cute.  When she is nursing, she tries to twist around, or put her foot up to my neck, or even stand up on my lap while hooked on.  She bit me once or twice with those 6 or 7 teeth.

We call her Chickie, Dolly, Tootie and Girlie.  She will get so excited if you are holding her and come around a corner and she spots a brother or the other parent. Her legs start kicking and she laughs.

I have so many skirts and dresses in the 12 month bin that I just got out from the attic (from my SIL in Seattle, neighbors and a co-worker). I feel like I barely had time to let her wear all the  9 month skirts and dresses! 

I think it would be great if JB's little brother was able to have a baby girl first, because  I could give them stuff. And I really need my brother Peter to move back from Japan and have a baby girl; there are enough clothes, and they are taking up space in the attic. So is Peter's baby swing.  And our bassinet, and Exersaucer and baby boppy, etc. I have given away a ton to people in the ward with new babies. But one woman recently brought sleep sacks and socks and stuff back to me -- "Thanks for lending it," she said. Aw, man, keep it!

The new garage (4 years old this month) gave us so much more storage space. But with 5 kids in a house that is just under 2,000 square feet, we are getting crowded. Others are leaving our ward for bigger homes. I just need to be ok getting rid of my own accumulated stuff, too.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Soccer ends

This will be James's last soccer season for a while.  We may try again in a few years. I don't know what I was thinking, putting a 3 1/2 year old into sports.  Hashtag Too. Soon.

He told me "bad guys" played on the other team. This boy is really into superheroes and that whole "bad guy, good guy" storyline, which I hear is normal developmentally. But he couldn't figure out that they were just other little boys and girls like him, and he would get angry and frustrated.  Often he just ignored the ball and the people around him.

But I did see bright spots and growth through the season. I think he really improved in listening to his coach, and each game he spent a little more time out there running, and even got a few kicks in.  And I was encouraged to see similar struggles with almost all of the other 3 year olds.

It was also Andrew's last game on Saturday, but he was super sick. He just laid on the blanket and let Millie crawl on him.

Max and Ben missed many of the games but we all went for the last one and did their best to be encouraging. It was just yesterday that these two tall boys were my two little boys out there on this very same field.

And each of my babies (post-Max) has played with these on the sidelines.

Andrew stuck around long enough to get his medal, and then we took him home. He couldn't even muster a smile for the camera.

I don't know where James put his medal. I think he forgot about it! Oh, and he later caught the same bug.  I tried, but I believe they shared the same water bottle. I bet it was James trying to catch a sip of Andrew's flat Sprite.  Bring home a rare bottle of soda, and suddenly every boy in my house doesn't feel well.

Monday, May 15, 2017

mother's day

I chuckled during Sacrament meeting -- I have five children, and only one of them was up there singing to me.

To be fair, one is a babe-in-arms and was actually in my arms asleep at the time. Andrew was not feeling well, and I didn't think he should go to church, so Max offered to stay home with him for the first hour. And James flat refused to leave the pew. So that left Ben up there smiling at me as he sang with the rest of the primary. I loved it.

Ben then offered for the rest of church to switch places with Max, instead of me. For Mother's Day, he said. So I went to Relief Society and heard such a great message about the value of women, and how we each individually matter -- no one can take your place.

The day started out with JB not having any Bishopbric meetings, and he brought me breakfast in bed! Home-made waffles, strawberries and whipped cream and bacon. I tell you what, I could not mother without this father. He does so so much for me and our family and home.

I enjoyed looking back at these photo shoots for this post. I am also grateful for the radio commercials my station played relentlessly all last week for a new book at Deseret Book called "You Are the Mother Your Children Need."

I sometimes feel guilty that I am not the best mother, or that maybe I shouldn't be working full-time so early in the morning, or I am not teaching them enough, or I don't pay enough attention to them (especially when I have found a good book) or that maybe I do TOO much helicoptering etc etc. 

Do you know what? I am the mother my children need.

And they are the children I need.

I also want to write quickly about the gratitude I have for my own mother, and my mother-in-law. The kids and I made a card for Pauline and FaceTimed my mom for a while on Sunday.  Pauline is always busy in the service of others, and while I continue to worry about my mom since her stroke, I feel her influence in my life still.

And my sisters and dear friends and sisters-in-law and primary teachers and neighbors and school teachers -- so many women mother and care for my children, and teach me by their examples.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Jazz Nation

We have had so many ups and downs this NBA season cheering for our Utah Jazz. On Monday night, the three biggest fans in the house saw the very last game in-person.

JB and I figured it was worth buying the tickets because it has been a long time since the Jazz were in the playoffs (let alone the second round), and it is quite an experience to go. The boys were bummed though that the Jazz lost. Apparently they didn't open the newspaper the next morning, like they normally do. They didn't feel like reading about what had happened.

They said it was really loud. But JB says it was not as loud as game three, which he went to with Roger:

Many of the playoff games in California started at 8:30 pm so the boys and I couldn't see them, because of our bedtimes. But it was sure fun to be a fan this season. I would giggle in my sleeve watching Max and Ben copy JB's mannerisms and express his same viewpoints while watching games. Ben sometimes would even jump up and pound his chest (he did not get that from JB).

Well, here's looking forward to next fall!

Sunday, May 7, 2017


I sewed this dress for Millie when I was pregnant. I found a pattern online where you crochet the top yoke, then attach a skirt. You can't see, but I also added yellow flowers for detail.

I love her in it. Then I got dressed for church and decided to compliment her yellow and white.

I had a friend at church rave about my skills when she saw the dress and matching diaper cover (though I told her not to look closely at the seams). She said how jealous she was that I could craft and crochet and sew a little. and here I was jealous of many of her talents! We all have things we wish we could improve. My friend Autumn has such a good eye for home decorating and comforts and styles for example. And her needlepoint! Sigh. 

I would like more time to craft and sew, it is fulfilling for me. But baby girl likes to be held a lot, and chores pile up, and books and TV shows would love my attention.  Plus the sewing machine and supplies are in with the little boys and they go to bed at 7:30. So, most of my sewing right now is mending holes in socks and clothes ("Me and the boys are hard on clothes, there'll be a lot of washin and mendin" - Adam Pontipee, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers)  Different times and seasons, different talents, it's all ok.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Soccer goals

We tried to help 3 3/4 year old James set some goals to make some goals. We offered him an ice cream cone, in the hopes that it would encourage him to be out on the field with his team and kick the ball.

In retrospect, maybe that wasn't the best idea. Because when he didn't make a goal right away ("The others keep kicking it!") he gave up right away. Why even try anymore? 

But during his game right afterward, 6 year old Andrew took the prize idea and ran with it. He hustled and ran and got in the scrum over and over, and when he made a goal we all went crazy clapping. And then he did his celebration pose.

He's dabbing. Older brothers taught him.

JB took him to get his treat, and offered him a choice of one cone from the ice cream store, or they could go to the grocery store and get ice cream and cones for the brothers, too. Andrew chose to share his prize and his brothers were very happy later. And we have more in the freezer.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Nine months

Nine months and not a day goes by that I don't thank God for this baby girl.

At her appointment today (a week late) she weighed 18 pounds 13 ounces and was 29 inches long. That's 47th percentile and 91st percentile. She is tall! The brothers all weighed more than her at their 6 month checkups.

She looks like us more and more. Isn't that funny that I would say that? But after four boys, I wondered what a girl would look like. She looks like a Richards baby. And do you see her painted toenails? I am getting better at it - they are so tiny!

Runner-up monthly picture

 Behind the scenes. JB sits her down and says "HI!" and she gives him the biggest smile every time.

Here she is in her Easter dress. This dress was made by my cousins in California, who own an Etsy shop called Little Dainty Darlings. My brother Joe requested a most girly, fluffy, pretty dress for me and I LOVE it.  She got so many compliments and remarks on Sunday at church!

They also made the bow, which is bigger than I usually put on my girl, but we go all out for Easter.  Speaking of big bows, I got one from my friend Andrea from high school that goes with her St Louis Cardinals outfit. It now fits just in time for the beginning of baseball season.

I posted pictures on Facebook of her smiling and crawling around in this outfit. I think she was just mad that I kept laying her on the carpet for the picture. This girl likes to be on the move all the time. And standing. She now wants to pull up on everything, and her newest trick in the last week is to let go with one or both hands. Too soon, baby! You don't have the balance!

Girlie likes to eat big people food more than baby food these days.

Like ribs at Joes Kansas City BBQ (she just sucked on it, all the meat was gone for choking concerns)

She gave up sucking on her two fingers sometime between her 7th and 8th month, and I'm bummed. One, it would be easier for her to fall asleep doing it. 2) it was so cute! But those 6 sharp teeth got in the way I suspect. She only bit me once so far while nursing, cross your fingers.

We are constantly on the lookout for little bits of paper, because she likes to put those in her mouth. And Legos.  It is a years-long situation at our house, as in this post with Baby James.

Some more pictures here at the end.

(Daddy selfie game is strong)

(Cub Scout pack meeting. James the photog)

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Going courtin'

"Seven Brides for Seven Brothers" came to Hale Centre Theatre and we were able to go in early April. I LOVED it.  I was smiling from the first bars of music.

JB and I took Max and Ben with us, and left the three others in the care of our wonderful neighbor. We rushed out of there at the end to get back to them, or I would have taken a picture with the cast to show Millie her namesake.

Max and Ben were at first skeptical. They have been to The Lion King, and Mary Poppins at the Capital Theater but they were very young. And sometimes their classes go to field trips to special daytime theater productions at the U of U, but nothing like this. Hale is in the round and you are close to the action, and boy oh boy was the action fun.  My boys liked the dancing and stage fighting and hilarious antics by the seven brothers.  Though there was a lot of kissing and Ben finally leaned over and said, "Is that real? Are they married?"

A couple of fun notes for you -- in a college communications persuasive speaking class, I gave a presentation on why this musical is the best ever.   When JB and I were dating, my sister Bekah was in a production of the play, and JB flew back to Kansas City with me to see it. That's when he met the family and asked my dad for my hand.  Though he could have carried me off along with the parson, am I right?

Monday, April 24, 2017

The Hayward

Ben has strongly desired the Gordon Hayward haircut for months.  He's one of our favorite Utah Jazz players, and his hairstyle is greatly admired among the elementary school-aged boys around here.

During the first week of the playoffs, three barbershops were doing a promotion where you could get the Hayward or Gobert haircut for free. We waited in line for a long time (James had a meltdown and JB had to come switch places with me). But Ben was very pleased with the barber whose chair came open for his turn. He had been watching all of their work.

He loves it.

I think he wants different hair products like the barbershop to make it keep that perfect swoop up, because he spent quite the amount of time in front of the mirror before church.

Meanwhile I was out in the living room trying to spit-smooth James's hair down after he had some sort of night:

Max's hair is getting long and the wavy curls are showing again (which I love), but it is time for him to get a haircut, too. He had basketball practice during Ben's haircut or he may have been next in line for the Hayward that day.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Spring Break-Legoland Discovery Center Kansas City

All too soon it was Tuesday morning and time to pack up. Here is the last picture we took at my parents' house before loading up the rental van.

I can't believe our trip is over and we are so far away from my family again. I had such a good time with them. Granted, the scent in the laundry room and the sight of Carob Chips in the pantry sent me zooming back to the stresses of tween-dom, but the rolling green hills and big blue sky and laying in the grass with my children, and laughing with JB on the long drives, and talking with my sisters, brothers and parents was just....nice. So nice.

Tuesday before our flight we drove back 1 1/2 hours to downtown Kansas City, where I had media passes to the LegoLand Discovery Center. This I knew the boys would love, because they had been in Lego withdrawal for 5 days.

It has several rooms and stations of different Lego activities. Design and build your own, Batman, car racing, Endor, etc.  Even bins of Duplos for Millie-girl:

These old friends greeted us first.

The boys with some of their creations in the first room.

JB and Ben left dueling creations behind on the display wall.

There were two rides you could do over and over, and more. The boys could have spent much more time here, but we had to get the rental van back, then ride the shuttle back to the airport (I told Ben about being a cute baby on the shuttle from our trip in July 2009) then we had to get checked in then go through security etc etc.  Flying is a lot of hurry up and wait.

Our flight out of Denver didn't leave til 10 PM, so we had a LONG layover there. But, WiFi streaming and a headphone splitter jack meant movies and music could entertain the boys. And our girl crawled around and practiced pulling herself up on everything.  We didn't get home until midnight, complete with a full-on screaming meltdown from James who I guess woke up mid-REM cycle when we landed. The loud crying lasted from the plane until his bed.

In the middle of all that crying, JB told the other boys, "Wasn't that trip fun? We'll never do it again!"  But all in all they were wonderful travelers and I am so grateful they could get to know my family and Missouri better.

Spring Break: Northwest Missouri

I really wanted to go to church at my old LDS branch in Chillicothe, so despite our rough night, off we went that Sunday morning. Since the last time we were there, my parents have moved into my brother's old house town.  No more long drives to church!

There was one other child in sacrament meeting, when we trooped in with our five. They were being so great and so quiet -- then James threw up on the floor. JB scooped him up and rushed him out, where he fell asleep in the hallway.  Everybody saw it; it's a small room, and we were sitting just feet from the speakers.

The primary was happy for the rest of our kids.  After church and lunch, we drove about 40 minutes away to Adam-ondi-Ahman, and found the rock where JB and I got engaged 14 years ago this August.

We went round by my parents' old house in Jamesport, where they lived my senior year of high school and where I would go home from college and where JB met the family. It doesn't seem occupied now. The drives are long in that area of Missouri, and after their rough night, Andrew and James fell asleep and their heads kept lolling onto Ben, as I tried to capture in this picture below:

I was glad for the peace and quiet. 3 year old James and 6 year old Andrew are sometimes quite the stinkers in the car, being loud and joking about burping and pooing. Max and Ben never did that when they were that age! Where did these rude boys come from, and how do I stop it??

On to Monday morning.  My dad brought out a crossbow, and the boys were enthralled. They set up target practice in the yard.

Then my dad took the three oldest boys and JB out to a shooting range. Just look at this darling cute little gun my dad got especially for a child Andrew's size!  I can't believe I used the words "darling" and "cute" to describe a gun. Normally they make me rather anxious. But I knew they would be safe at the range where they could show proper gun safety handling and stuff.

Our children normally just don't get opportunities to go shooting (or fishing or LARPing or long drives for that matter) here in the big city.  My dad asked if we wanted to bring that little gun back with us in our checked bag, but I thought more grandkids could enjoy it at his house.

On Sunday on our drive past Jamesport, the Amish were all at home or in church, so the boys didn't see any buggies and horses. But on Monday's drive back from the shooting range, my dad took JB and the boys to H&M Country Store, run by the Amish, and Andrew apparently fell in love with their hats for sale.

Cute little farmer, right?

Later on Monday we all went to see the new Beauty and the Beast at the movie theater. It was the second time for my parents but my mom loved it and wanted to go again. And I loved it, too.  I think the big boys really enjoyed the battle at the castle at the end, and recognized some of the actors from Harry Potter and other movies.

The next post is the last one, about visiting Legoland Discovery Center before our flights home.