Friday, June 30, 2017

Boys on a bike

I am so proud of our Andrew!  He can now ride a bike.

In the fall he was halfheartedly trying the bike we have with training wheels, but this spring after a few attempts to teach him to ride, he commandeered Max's scooter instead and really zipped around well.  So I thought we would just try again later.

Well, his friend Beck came by with his older brother - both on bikes, and before I knew it, 6 1/2 year old Andrew hopped on his bike and tore out of our garage like a bat out of you-know-where.  It just clicked!

I joke that I would like to outsource teaching my kids how to ride a bike, though I would miss out on some sweet moments if I did.

For instance, 4 year old James was practicing pedaling with me one afternoon and he kept saying, "Dad's going to be so proud of me, right Mom?"  And then I heard him say, "I am brave and talented."   He listens to me! I often tell the boys, "You are smart, you are brave and talented" when they are having a rough time with friends or schoolwork or their brothers or figuring something out.

James is fantastic on the balance bike/strider bike/push bike, so I thought he would jump to the regular non-training-wheels bike with no trouble. But he has a hard time steering and pedaling and balancing all at once. So I have been trying him on the bike with training wheels to master the pedaling.

James also pulls out ye olde red tricycle for bike rides, but it doesn't go as fast as his blue balance bike, so I get a repeat of the two older boys at this very age -- "WAAAIIIITTTT! ANDREW, STTTTOOOOPPPPP!"

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Dads and Kids

The boys and JB went camping last weekend for Dads and Kids and had a blast! This was the earliest we've had it in our ward, usually it is in August or even September.  It was at the same place as last year.

There is a lake nearby at the property (but not near the camping area) where they went boating and splashing and stuff.

Max rowed the little boys, too.

Look how idyllic and beautiful. 

The zipline however was not ready for them, or didn't have a supervisor, or had adults using it -- something along those lines is what Max grumbled to me later.

JB says James was begging to go to the tent around 6:30 PM. He was tired! But once they got in the tent at 9:30 or 10, after Smores and stuff, they had a hard time falling asleep.

They came back dirty late Saturday morning.

Meanwhile,  I took a walk around the neighborhood and met two other moms who just had a baby at home because their kids were at the campout, so we stood and talked for a while.

After that I didn't do much besides read and watch shows and clean and do laundry in a VERY quiet house.  On the left, the TV show I watched Friday evening. On the right, the TV show I watched Saturday morning.

BTW, I will make you cookies if you can name the next-door neighbor on that show on the right. My girl kept looking at the TV, too.

2016 Dads and Kids (James's first)
2015 Mom and Kids (JB was sick so we were in the backyard)
2014 - no post, I'm not sure why. I remember taking baby James to dinner with other moms
2013 Dads and Kids (Andrew's first)
2012 Dads and Kids
2011 Dads and Kids (featuring wood-gathering)
2010 Dads and Kids
2009 Dads and Kids (then-Benny's first)
2008 post where I mention JB and Max at the campout but didn't put a picture

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Eleven months

11 Months on Sunday this girl turned!

Millie claps, almost waves, gave a high-five yesterday, and laughs the loudest for her brothers. She clicks her tongue and sticks it out to copy you when you do it.   She started saying "yayayayaya."

Her favorite spot lately is by our side table, where she can pull herself up and gnaw on the wood. JB blocked her progress with his foot one night, and she sobbed like her heart was broken.

She loves to sit like this, with one leg out in front and one tucked behind. 

I think she's so flexible because when I ran out of prenatal vitamins, I used some of JB's multi-vitamin that advertised flexibility. He started taking it after his knee surgery.

She likes to twist around while nursing, or put her ankle up to my neck or touch her toes to my nose or her nose while she nurses.  JB says she does the same thing to him when he feeds her when I am at work. By the way the girl is not drinking enough of my pumped milk. If anyone needs any, I have a deep freezer full....

She sleeps best in her carseat.  I don't know what to do about it, but we keep putting her in there when she or we are exhausted.

Though she did fall asleep in the front pack one day.

It was a month of firsts, with her first time climbing up the stairs, going to Lagoon, and her first time swimming at the pool and wearing this swimsuit, which made me squeal a little when I put it on her (Look, honey, ruffles!)

Sometimes she gives us this deadpan, non-blinking stare.

Ok, another selfie. This one was at Lagoon during her first time there.

She is all about big people real food now. It must be those 8 teeth. She gnaws on carrots and loves picking up pieces of cheese and chicken and grapes and hashbrowns and beans and fruit leather and granola bars. 

I can't even get her to take a bite from a spoon most days. She tries to grab the spoon or knock it away, like the baby on "Storks."  Have you seen "Storks" yet? Because it is a favorite at our house. The big boys laugh and laugh, and say the baby looks like Millie.

Monday, June 19, 2017

father's day

This man is a great father.

It has been said that an earthly father's relationship with his children/example to his children, etc, can be the lens by which those children view their Heavenly Father.

In that case, then I believe our children are learning that God is kind, loving, good, is concerned about them, has time for them, and wants the best for them.

JB does so much for our family and for others, all the time.  And he's so handsome and funny to boot.

The boys often pop into the Bishop's office after primary to see daddy, get candy, and wait for me because it's right by Relief Society where the teacher sometimes goes long (ahem ahem -- I went long on Sunday (blush)).  We took a Father's Day picture there yesterday.  Max and Ben and JB have such good smiles! Millie's bow came untied and the youngest three never did really smile right at the camera, but I still really like how this turned out.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Summer so far, not bored yet


The last two weeks, Max and Ben have been busy with the high school's basketball camp, scouting activities and neighborhood jobs.

Ben went to cub country this week, and last weekend Max and JB went to a 11 year old scout overnight activity.

Max has had several lawn watering/mowing jobs that keep him busy every day. Ben had a dog-sitting job and did very well.

Andrew and James have been busy with fighting and Legos and outside play.

Look at those summer legs.

Ben's legs aren't as bruised, but they have quite the sock tan.

I got Otter Pops and water balloons and that can keep us busy in the backyard. This series of pictures cracks me up, because it was only later that I realized Millie was trying her darndest to get that popscicle from Andrew.

Yesterday Millie climbed right up onto Max to grab his popscicle, too.

We went to the library and got all signed up for the summer reading challenge. You can fill out blocks based on activities you do and how long you read. Ben tried to get his tracker all filled out in the first week, and was mad at me when I explained it was supposed to last all summer; the library didn't want us to come claim all the prizes at once on our next visit.  

They do have some fun things at the library, like a magic show. The other three boys did not really want to get close, but Andrew sidled right up and then was chosen for one trick. It looked like he was spitting out quarters into the bucket.

And the library brought in a petting zoo. Andrew is fascinated by animals, so we have gone to see our neighbor's bunny a few times.

And a highlight so far this summer was all the Richards cousins together one Sunday. 14 of them! 

Most days the boys watch a movie at quiet time (and we have now banned other kids from coming over from 1-3pm. IT IS SACRED NAP TIME!).  The latest favorite is Storks.  Trolls, Moana, Sing, and other favorites come up again, too. Ben and Max like Studio C, Ben likes Star Wars the Clone Wars, Max loves Diners Drive-ins and Dives and Ginormous Food on the Food Network. The little boys still like Paw Patrol.

JB and I are watching This is Us on Friday nights when I can stay up later. Sometimes I sneak in an episode of The Pioneer Woman, or Good Mythical Morning on YouTube. I watched Anne on Netflix and was not happy at all with the interpretation. So I am reading the books again. I have them all on my phone.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

James is 4

James turned 4 years old on Tuesday.  Sweet Baby James, please oh please be a happier boy now, mmkay?

Notice in the picture above, it says happy birthday on his shirt, and he is rubbing his outie belly button. His favorite thing to do.

On his birthday, JB took him to get donuts. 

We had a donut cake that night, and opened presents. He got a Batmobile car, and some inter-locking blocks. 

Then tonight after a quiet Sunday dinner with just us and Uncle Bart at Nona and Papa's house we had his cake. He requested Batman. I think the buttercream frosting freezer transfer method turned out great! (My first attempt with the technique was for Ben's 7th birthday, and I also did James's Daniel Tiger cake the same way.)  He ate a lot of the cake. 

 He got some birthday cash from his grandparents that made his older brothers turn quite jealous. I said that daddy would take only him to the store to pick something out, so he wouldn't get hustled by Max and Ben.

I was a little worried that he would be sad/mad he didn't have a party like 6 year old Andrew did in January, or a pinata that his cousin Phineas had last week with every single Richards cousin there. But he went to bed happy as a clam an hour ago, with his normal books and cuddles and songs and prayers.

James has been a loveable stinker his whole life. From colicky screaming until he was 11-12 weeks old, to scratching his brothers' faces just this week, he wants to be respected and wants things JUST SO and RIGHT NOW, etc etc.

He loves dinosaurs and can name plenty of them in his books -- long names. Favorite books include Little Critter, Arthur, anything by Eric Carle (he "reads" to me the Hungry Caterpillar), Mo Willems, and at the library he goes straight to the superhero section, though I checked out some Llama Llama books and talked about emotions with him this week, haha.

He loves superheros still, and they can be pretty violent. So we talk more and more about using our bodies to help others and be nice. Please.

He goes to primary now very well, but won't do anything into the microphone. It was his turn for the closing prayer and he refused to go up there today. But at home he screeches if it is someone else's turn and insists it's his turn to pray, any time we are doing it.

He is a good eater, if it's something he loves. He and Andrew get so snacky. They do have better times playing together lately. I consoled myself that depressing January-June of 2013 that he was supposed to come to be Andrew's friend, because Max and Ben had each other. But I know he is supposed to be here on earth for more than just that, and it's our job to help him reach his potential.

Just for kicks, here is his birth story (big stuck baby), his first birthday (a basketball smash cake because that was one of his first words), his second birthday (such curls!), and his third birthday (which I swear was just the other day).

Saturday, June 10, 2017


We had our summer's first trip to Lagoon on Memorial Day. And Millie's first time! Thank you, Papa, for the passes again.

Here are the boys, waiting for the rides to open at 11 AM.

Our big boys now go together on bigger rides and come back and check in with us occasionally. The little boys ride together.  But we were looking for rides to ride with more of us together. These teacups aren't bad!

And the Carousel and train are for the whole family.

Millie was so wiggly on the train. Ben wanted to hold her but she wanted to squirm all around. James smiled on the Carousel until we realized his horse was "broken" (aka it was one of the stationary animals and didn't move up and down).

Max was a little too cool for a picture.

Also in the picture below I am getting "Blue Steele" from Max. But Ben, Andrew and James liked these cars that really bounce up and down as they go around. I rode behind James as we bounced, and JB claims to have some slow-motion video he says he will treasure forever.

When Millie fell asleep after lunch, I went looking with the 3 older boys for a ride to all go on together. But Andrew was juuussstt too short! We walked all over, and finally ended up at the Log Flume, which then had a breakdown and we waited for a very long time. I was proud of Jamesy for being really patient with JB while they waited for us.  

Hopefully we will have fewer crowds on our next trip. I mean, crowds are good for Lagoon's bottom line, but, we like to feel like it's only our amusement park, you know? 

-By the way, here is the post of baby James's first trip to Lagoon in 2013.
-I didn't officially post about baby Andrew's first trip, but it would have been the summer we took my friend Andrea to Lagoon in 2011.
-And here is baby Ben's first trip in 2008. 
-I don't have baby Max's first trip because I started blogging when he was 2 1/2.  But I do remember he must have been around 10 months old -- I tried to feed him baby carrots and spilled the baby food on the carpet in Papa's office. 

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

School's out

6th grade, 3rd grade, and kindergarten are in the books for these boys!

Here's the picture on the first day of school.

Max on Friday had safety patrol duties, but he asked Ben and Andrew to walk earlier to school with him, so they could all walk together for the last time.  (aaaawwww)

The week was full of lasts -- the most emotional one being the last time he would have the school pizza. (!!)  Though I think the district kitchens means he could have the same pizza next year in middle school.

Max's teacher had a nice note on his report card. She said he is kind and thoughtful, and she never saw him get angry with others. He was always quick to volunteer to help.

Andrew had such a good year in kindergarten. It was full day, and he LOVED Mrs Moray.

Her microphone she got for his ear ended up helping the whole class, especially on their family program day. They all used it and the parents could hear their lisping poems perfectly.  He started the year not reading, and at his assessment last month Mrs M said he is reading on a level usually seen several months into the first grade year.

Ben did great in third grade with his sweet teacher, Mrs Roberts. He had a few friends in the class and made more during the year. He's in the very back of the picture below, by the teacher.

The third-graders had kindergarten reading buddies, and Ben was Andrew's reading buddy. His teacher said he is super smart, and she thinks he should do school ELP (extended learning program) next year. 

I got word about some sort of trouble with basketball being banned for a bit because this age group was being too competitive or rough. Sounds familiar, as I found a note recently from kindergarten or 1st grade where his teacher said Ben was tackling kids at recess. I remember he told me "we were pwaying football."

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Deja vu

For some reason, after deleting some emails on my phone, it jumped backwards to November 2011. I found these pictures my brother Peter sent me that he took while we were all at my parents house in Missouri (for the wedding of my brother Joe). Our first three children were the age of the last three children now.

(Max age 6)

(then-Benny now-Ben age 3 1/2)

(Andrew age 10 months)

They look just like the last three -- Ben especially looks like James at the same age, and Andrew looks like Millie at the same age.

The next email down was one I had written to my friend Autumn, and it included this:

Benny's behavior is getting better, as long as I make a conscious effort to praise him constantly, and spend at least 15 minutes a day uninterrupted with just him and me. No baby, no phone, etc.  He's a sweetheart. A terror sometimes, but a sweetheart.

And Andrew is determined to nurse and sleep next to me for the rest of his life.  

Wow, that is exactly the same as James and Millie right now. 

I find that the kids who had a baby come when they were at least 3 years old, had a tougher time than the kids who had a baby come with they were 2 1/2.  So Ben and James basically have been harder at 3 than Max and Andrew were. Who knows what will happen for Millie when she hits three years old. I am told to be careful not to spoil her. 

Thursday, June 1, 2017

6th grade promotion

How handsome and tall is Max getting?!

He had his 6th grade promotion today from Highland Park Elementary School.  Nona came to see it, and Ben came from his 3rd grade classroom to watch, but then scooted off to recess. And Andrew was at kindergarten water day, but the rest of us were there. Andrew informs me that they watched the 6th graders sing their songs yesterday for the school.

Max was presented with the Hope of America award for a large service project he did with some friends. They volunteered many Friday afternoons at a senior living center.  This morning they invited parents to come up with their child, but Millie chose that moment to be really thirsty, so I tried to take a picture of JB with Max and here is the fuzzy far away result.

That head in the front there is a friend of ours. He turned and said, "It's too bad JB and Max look nothing alike!"

He was also recognized for helping with the Safety Patrol all year.

Max has gone to this school for 8 years. They stopped hosting the preschool after him and before the rest of our boys.  Here is his preschool graduation:

Other Max school posts include
-First day of preschool
-celebrating his birthday at preschool
-preschool graduation
-First day of kindergarten
-last day of kindergarten/celebrating birthday (which includes one of my favorite Max pics ever)
-first day of First Grade
-last day of First Grade
-first day of Second Grade (no last day of 2nd Grade pics. I was about to have baby James)
-first day of Third Grade (a 3/4 split class that year)
-last day of Third Grade
-first day of Fourth Grade (when I thought he could never get any older)
-last day of Fourth Grade/Max's class opera (featuring a solo)
-first day of Fifth Grade (I swear this was just the other day, I remember writing the post so clearly)
-last day of Fifth Grade
-first day of Sixth Grade
-Christmas program (featuring the shoulder shimmy)