Thursday, September 22, 2016

Happy first birthday!

Today Scott turns one! Mostly it feels like the past year has passed quickly.  But it also seems like Scott can't possibly be one yet, he's still so little.  He has his check up tomorrow, I'll have to add his weight and height later.

Fun facts about Scott at one:
-He cruises around on everything, even grabbing ahold of his siblings clothes and walking around with them.  Sometimes he grabs my legs and walks circles around me.  He loves push toys or anything he can push and walk with.
-He climbs! He can go up stairs, this little play structure (both the slide and the stair sides)

-He learned how to go down stairs! A week or so ago I went to the Hands on Museum with the little boys and Scott loved the many stairs in the preschool room.  I kept saying to him, "turn around" when he was at the top and it started to stick.  Now we say it to him if needed and he turns himself around and goes down the stairs.  He likes to go up, then down, then up, then down.  We have taught the older kids to just walk behind him but not to touch him when he is on the stairs.
-Scott also respond to "get it out of your mouth" and will usually spit out whatever is in his mouth when I say that.  I say it when I can tell he is chewing on something he shouldn't.
-Scott would love nursery and enjoys going during institute and a conversation group I help with.  6 more months until nursery at church!

-Scott eats just about everything, I haven't done much baby food with him simply because of time. It is much more efficient to just give him what we eat, cut smaller and he does just fine with it. As of last Sunday he is weaned and drinks whole milk or soy milk from a sippy cup.
-He sleeps though the night and shares a room with Joanna and Amy.
-He gives "high 5s" and loves them! After doing high 5s, when we stop, he starts giving them to himself, which is similar to clapping, but a little more deliberate. 
-Scott loves to be outside and will cry if the door is closed before he can make it out. (Like when the big kids head to school, etc.)

Tonight we invited many in our courtyard to come join us for cupcakes to celebrate Scott's birthday.  It was so fun to see all of our neighbors there!  Scott took a little while to warm up to the cupcake, but then he ate it.  My neighbor Aya took pictures and I will update when she send them to me.
Our sweet Asian friends each gave Scott a present (even though I had stated no presents on the invitation.) (Fee Fee told me that in China the first birthday is a big deal!)  Aya's family gave Scott a Thomas the Tank Engine sippy cup, Sooah's family gave him a Target gift card and Sooah and her brother Gil each made a card for Scott, and Fee Fee and Chen Chen gave Scott a little stuffed panda bear (because they are from China!)  It was so sweet of them all. After eating cupcakes the kids had bike and running races around the courtyard.  I am really grateful for the great neighbors we have and I love seeing these little kids play together!
At Scott's party were people from the US, Puerto Rico, South Korea, Japan, and China.

One funny story: When we were handing out the invitations the other afternoon one mom asked me if Scott would get his own cupcake.  I said yes and she asked if it would be his first sugar.  Um, no. I told her that he hasn't had his own piece of cake before, so I guess that's it. Maybe the difference between a fifth child and a first since she only has one.  I would say I have been less worried about Scott's eating (ex: not worrying about giving him much pureed baby food). 

Kensington Metropark

At the beginning of the summer I made a list with the help of a Michigan travel book of places I wanted to take the kids to this summer.  Then we got into a routine and didn't end up taking many of the elaborate field trips I had listed.  I'm not sad about it, but as the last week of summer came I felt we at least needed to cross one more off the list and so off to Kensington we went.  It's about a half hour drive. Isaac had gone on a field trip in 1st grade there so he passed enthusiasm on to his siblings.

We went to the nature center first and after unbuckling the boys I was planning on getting the stroller out of the back of the car.  But when I walked around the car I was met by two large cranes who were after the cracker crumbs I had thrown out of Scott's car seat as I was getting him out.  The stroller was quickly forgotten and we ran to the nature center with the cranes hot on our heals.  They were not intimidated by humans at all!  I tried yelling loudly to scare them off but I think I mostly just scared the kids.  Oops.

Later as we went for a hike on the boardwalk we met the cranes again.  They actually blocked the way we needed to go to we jumped and screamed to get them to back up.  They began making loud squawking noises at us, but also started backing up.  We carried on until we reached a larger part of the boardwalk where we were able to scoot past them and run!  I'm sure we were not in danger, but it did get our hearts pumping!

We also visited the farm center and a play ground before heading home.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

First Days

The three oldest have begun a new year of school; we have a 3rd, 1st and preschooler.

One week in (well, two for Joanna but she only goes twice a week) and they all want to keep going so that's good.  I on the other hand am still adjusting to not being the main adult in their lives on a daily basis.  At the beginning of each school year I get renewed desires to move to a rural farm and raise my chickens and children on the land. Ha!

Lost summer pictures

Isaac went to Camp 911 and learned all about first aid.  A highlight was riding in a moving firetruck.

Our neighbors, the Wilson's, moved away.  I have learned a great deal watching them parent their who boys, Joseph and Andrew who has special needs.

We got new neighbors, the Otte's, and they are wonderful.  Their two boys, Jack and Tommy have became fast friends with our kids and their little girl and Scott will become friends as they get bigger.

Rode the blue bus to the Natural History Museum.

I made a flower garden out of a pallet I found beside the dumpster.  It was a fun project and I love the bright flowers the kids picked out.

Our dear friends the Saitos visited from San Francisco.  It was Emi's birthday so we got to have a mini birthday party with her too. 

Kenichi meeting Scott for the first time.

A hot day led us to go to the church and play with balls, make a gaga pit with tables, and shoot things across the gym with our homemade sling shot.

Hiking around Ford Lake.

HAving friends over for dinner and popsicles after.  Annie and Amy are two days apart.

Puddle jumping on a warm, rainy day.

Sunday walk at Gallup Park

Scott is a climber! He climbed himself up onto this toy in the courtyard.

We found this air hockey table at the dumpster and while it lacks the piece to actually blow air, we have a air puck and paddles and the kids have enjoyed playing with the table.  It makes it seem so official or something.

quick stories

We went on a walk in the woods the other evening after it had rained and it was a bit damp and muggy:
me: I should have brought bug spray.
Joanna: That's okay, I have my dinosaurs. (she then pulls out two plastic dinosaurs from her doggy purse that she is carrying.)
me: Will that help keep the bugs away?
Joanna: Let's find out.
She then made "dinosaur noises" (kind of sounds like growling) for most of our hike and swung the dinosaurs around.  It must have worked because I didn't get any bug bites!

I don't know if I ever wrote about Joanna's hair cut.  Several months ago Joanna was outside playing with our neighbor Suah who is about her age.  A little while later she came in with scissors and told me she didn't want to play with Suah anymore.  Turns out Suah had given Joanna a little hair cut and I think Joanna was feeling bad about that.  I looked at her hair but didn't think much of it, and Joanna didn't really want me looking at her hair.  We talked about how only grown ups are allowed to cut hair and how she shouldn't do that or let someone else do that again.  Suah's parent came and apologized profusely and I assured them that all was well.  Later as we were walking past Suah's house I saw the pile of hair in her yard.  It was then that I realized how much hair Suah had really cut off.  It was a lot!  I think she may have cut off most of Joanna's little side pony I put her hair in almost everyday.  Joanna is lucky that she has curly hair and you couldn't notice much of a difference!  If it had been Suah, who has stick straight hair it could have been awful!  I did do a little trimming and no one would have noticed a difference unless they were looking for uneven spots.

Scott enjoys dancing these days.  When he hears music he begins to sway and bounce.  I know just about every baby goes through this stage, but it sure is cute!  He has also learned to say "uh-oh" and likes to play the "uh-oh game" where he drops things and says "uh-oh".  He is learning to give high fives, which mostly consists of me saying "high five", him putting up his hand and then me hitting his hand with mine.  If I do it fast enough to surprise him he laughs.

During the Olympics some boys in the neighborhood created a race track/route to ride their bikes on.  It involved riding behind some houses and near the woods and was quite long, taking them about half way around our neighborhood.  Isaac had recently finished Camp 911 (pictures to come) where he received a small first aid kit.  This is what he told me:
Isaac: I'm the medic. I ride behind everyone to make sure that they are safe.
He would carry his first aid kit in his pocket as he rode.  With kids from 3-12 riding on the race track there were a few times that his help was needed!  The two littlest boys to ride (ages 3 and 5) also loved the attention of an older boy who was willing to go their speed.

Amy learned to ride a two wheeled bike without training wheels on Saturday!  Over the past several months I thought she should learn to, but every effort to practice with her have been met with unwillingness on her part.  Friday night I went to pick up a little bike for Peter that I found on craigslist.  Saturday morning I was switching around training wheels, trying to put ones on Amy's that would at least let her bike wobble a little because the old ones were constantly touching the ground.  As I had only one training wheel on Peter's new bike she asked if she could ride it.  I walked a loop around the courtyard with her and told her that anytime she wasn't hearing a noise it meant the training wheel wasn't even touching the ground.  I convinced her to try again after I took that training wheel off.  Because Peter's bike is so little she can easily put her legs out and touch the ground without tipping.  I think that helped her feel comfortable.  She wanted to try coasting down a small hill in the courtyard, and at the bottom she started pedaling.  She did that a few times and soon she was pedaling around the courtyard and doing laps.  Soon she moved to her bike.  And today she rode her two wheeler to church.  (And Peter rode his little one with training wheels.  It was good that John didn't ride a bike because although church is close, it was far for two kids on new bikes and they both needed some help/encouragement.)

The past few nights at dinner Peter has been saying he doesn't like ---- (fill in the blank with whatever we are having for dinner.) This is a bit odd coming from a boy who usually eats most things.  We've been insisting that he try two bites and often he has continued to eat more.  Maybe it is just another way he is trying to assert his independence.  He ate his whole meal last night with the promise that after a few more bits he could have another strawberry.  We're not above bribery here.
A funny eating thing about Peter is that he loves butter.  There have been more than one occasion where I have had to put the butter away so that he won't eat it straight from the container or take a bite from a stick of butter.  And if he has toast he loves the butter thick, if it melts and he can't see it he won't eat it.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Living with kids: Janice Richardson

I occasionally read the Design Mom blog, and my favorite posts of hers are a series called Living with Kids were she interviews parents and has lots of pictures of their homes.  I enjoy getting a little peak inside of different homes and families. I thought it would be fun to do my own Living With Kids post using the same prompts and questions.  And as I did this I realized how much straightening those people must do before they photograph their homes!  I am guessing that there are a lot of piles of stuff just out of the camera least there were when I was taking pictures of our home!  It's a lot of work and a long process, especially with little ones running around! I never did take a picture of the kitchen although maybe I should just so someday I can look back and remember how it was.


We are the Richardsons.  John is a PhD student at the University of Michigan and stays busy with that as well as working part time for the VA.  I am a stay at home mom to our five little kids.  Isaac is the oldest.  He is going into third grade.  His current loves are Pok√©mon and riding his bike.  Recently he and some friends created the "epic ultra hard Olympic bike race" which is a course that goes through our neighborhood and behind several houses before ending in our courtyard. Amy is next, a soon to be first grader.  She just lost her big front tooth and is pleased to be able to drink through a straw with her teeth closed.  She loves to be around people and is the most social of us all I think.  Next is Joanna who is excited and anxious about starting preschool.  She loves animals, playing with stuffed animals, pretending to be an animal (mostly puppies) and taking care of our only animal, a betta fish she got for her 4th birthday.  Peter is our precocious two year old.  He has two speeds, sleeping and full throttle.  He can be quite sweet and often says,  "I love you, Mom." He knows how to get his baby brother to laugh, that is when he is not trying to sit on the baby.  Scott is the baby and will turn one later this month!  He is generally happy, especially when people smile at him.  He crawls everywhere and keeps the floor under the table clear by eating any food that is dropped.

We live in student family housing on campus that has been around for many, many years.  Although it is not glamorous, it is wonderful in many ways.  We love the unique community of families and children as well as the opportunity to get to know people from all over the world as there is a large international population here.  We have lived here for three years.

Ann Arbor is a great town to live in.  The University brings a lot of life and action to the area.  Some of our farovite things are parks (so many of them!) and the awesome libraries.  We also have a membership to the Hands on Museum and make good use of that.  Outside of Ann Arbor Michigan has some beautiful places, the dunes and Lake Michigan being some of our top picks.  We still have not traveled to the UP and hope to do that this coming summer.

If I were to describe my style it would be dumpster finds galore.  Ha! Truthfully much of what we own are hand-me-downs or dumpster finds.  (The dumpsters here are amazing as many people leave things when they move from the university.)  I like things that are comfortable and I don't have to worry about the kids breaking or ruining them.  I don't necessarily love the athstetics of all of our furniture, but for me function and price come first, at least at this stage in my life.  Maybe some day I will design a home and fill it with furnishings I choose based more on looks or style, but that day is not now.

Our home is 1120 square feet, plus an unfinished basement.  To make that work for our family of 7 requires some creativity.  We laid carpet down in the basement to make a play space for the kids.  A bonus of the unfinished room is that we could bolt a swing right into the exposed beams and the children love to swing down there.  Instead of claiming the largest bedroom as the master we put three children in it and take the middle room for us grownups. Then the last room is for two more.  Sharing one bathroom can get tricky, but with two still in diapers I'm sure we've not hit the hardest bathroom sharing hurdles yet.

In a future home I would love a kitchen open to the living area!  Having a tiny kitchen just adds one more layer of stress to meal preparation.  I would love a kitchen that invites the children to be around as I cook; one where I can still be surrounded by them as I work.
Living in student housing has taught me that I can be happy with little.  I don't need fancy finishes and ornate decorations, just spaces that are comfortable for our family to be together.
Oh, and more than one bathroom would be nice. :)

One of my favorite parts about living with my children is that we get to do things together.  Summer and school vacations are great because I get to be the captain of our little crew and direct our outings. I love to go on adventures together, exploring new places is so good for us.  We don't have friends or technology to distract us and we are able to truly connect with each other.

One of the things that has surprised me about motherhood is how all consuming it can be.  I find that I think about the things my children are going through and I am constantly trying to come up with ways to help them, teach them, meet their needs, etc.  There is never a day off and no matter what I do I never feel that I have done enough.  I think that is because my relationships with my children are eternal and will never be "done."

Sometimes I worry that I will miss having small children or that I will forget what the children were like as babies, toddlers, preschoolers, etc..  For that reason I write our family blog, write in their individual journals and write in my own journal, as well as keep photos albums for each child and make occasional photo books for our family to read.

When my kids look back on our time here in University housing I hope that they remember the fun we had, the friendships we've made, and the things they were taught.  I hope that they can see and feel my testimony of the Savior by the things that are on the walls and the things that are done within the walls.  I hope that they look back on this time fondly.  I hope they don't focus on the times when John needs to work on Saturdays or in the evenings or when mom was stressed because of so many little ones needing so many things.  I think they will remember the good things, like playing in the courtyard, riding their bikes to church and swinging on the swing in the basement.

I don't really have any advice for new moms or somethings I wish someone would have told me.  Just do your best and pray a lot.  It will all work out.

Back to School Interview: Mom

Grade I am going into: 9th of motherhood
I am most excited about: a little more time to be still (is while the boys are napping and Joanna has quiet time)
I am least excited about: the children being gone for so many hours a day
When I grow up I want to be a: mom, and a children's librarian acquisition specialist
Some of my favorite things we did this summer were: family adventures
Favorite school lunch: hummus and crackers or pretzels
Favorite color: yellow or blue
Favorite book: the scriptures
Favorite things to do with friends: talk and laugh
Favorite game: Boggle

Back to School Interviews: Scott

Grade I am going into: toddlerhood (well, sometime this year he'll start toddling around)
I am most excited about: food
I am least excited about: when people block the stairs so I can't get to them
When I grow up I want to be a: bigger
Some of my favorite things we did this summer were: swimming, playing with water, eating watermelon
Favorite school lunch: whatever mom puts on my tray
Favorite color: all
Favorite book: board books
Favorite things to do with friends: smile
Favorite game: peek-a-boo

About to put his two sucking fingers into his mouth.  Scott sucks these two to calm himself down, as he goes to sleep, and when he is tired or want comfort.