Wednesday, December 17, 2008


Well, Sabrina is officially a preschooler. She started a couple of weeks ago, but it's taken me this long to fully admit that she is no longer a baby I can keep to myself, cuddling and playing with and not letting other people have fun with her. She's the kid you love to take out with you because she is so alarmingly cute, she stops people dead in their tracks. She knew more people on our street in Indonesia than all the rest of us put together - people would walk, bike or motorcycle by the front gate and wave and yell hello to her. And she loves it. And not in a 'oh I'm so cool' kind of way, I don't think. She loves it and is kind and gives everyone her attention.

Sabrina's school, Inland Leaders, and her very amazing teacher Ms. Heidi.

Going to school for the first time! She was more excited than she looks.

For example, the preschool class went to Brasswell's, an assisted living faciity, to sing some Christmas carols and give a cookie to a resident. She stood in the back with her 'ho ho hat' on, as she calls it, and stood and smiled. No, she didn't smile, she beamed. She also didn't sing anything, but she was very cute just standing there, beaming.

I had Sophie in the stroller and couldn't get inside the already packed room full of residents, their walkers and wheelchairs, the nursing staff and all of us mommies. So, one of the teachers helped her, and she presented her cookie to an elderly lady and the two of them talked in their own special languages (I still only understand Sabrina about 2/3rds of the time) until the room cleared and I could pull her away. Then she waved and said good morning to everyone in the hallway as we left. She thoroughly enjoyed herself.

It was nice. It was funny that this was the same facility we used to visit as a family every Sunday before we left for Indonesia. Maybe something stuck in her little baby brain. But I think she's just a gentle, old soul partying in a cute, white blond toddler body.

Then, to the preschool performance where again, it struck me that I was watching SABRINA perform, not one of the boys. What a mind meld that one was. And she had a great time prancing down the center aisle of the Church where the presentation was, standing in the front row, picking her nose through the first song, smiling and doing hand motions for the second song and then mouthing a few words and clapping during the rest of the songs.

Such a difference from the boys. All three of them refused to go perform in front of anyone until they hit kindergarten. I remember Jared at the tender age of three, dressed as a bee, crying next to a piano until I came to scoop him up and let him watch the rest of his class. Ditto for Zach and Kyle. Zach's 'Rock on Losers!' scream as he headed to the main stage for his preschool graduation just put the nail in the coffin that my boys, at least, are not ready for public consumption until somewhere around six years of age. The small babies who will grow up to be the protectors of their family need as much mommy love as they can get. And I'm willing to give it. As I see Jared's shoulders broaden and hear his coach talk about how he is the 'go to guy' for the football team and how much he had to 'wheel and deal' to get him away from the other team, I can't believe it. They grow so fast. Zach, my snuggle guy - the coach waxed on about how he was 'one of the top five players of the team' because he likes to TACKLE.

Well, it was quite a night. The Christmas Spirit shone down on us as hubby and I were wrestling schedules to get everyone to Sabrina's Chirstmas performance. On top of it, I was wrestling a migraine that got so bad I went straight to bed when I got home. But first, as we were doing the assembly line with the girls in the tub, getting them ready for the party, we hear a loud crash. The Christmas tree was felled for a second time this season. A new record even for us.

In the next instant, the phone rang with Jared's coach on the line cancelling his basketball practice. Yay! We can manage being in two places at once; being in three is quite a bit harder. So, if the tree has to capcize for a little peace and harmony this holiday season, so be it.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Dear Diary,

I am sure I'm insane after my day of attempting to gift wrap presents with the assistance of an independent two year old (ME DO IT!!!!!), a one year old (AAAAAAAAHHHH!) and a three month old puppy (insert sounds of ripping paper, the noise of 300 feet of curling ribbon being galloped across kitchen tile, chewing noises as dog tries to eat sticky scotch tape, you get the drift. Can'tcha just hear it?) Me? Not the model of efficiency today as I wrapped about 2 1/2 presents before I gave up and did so many loads of laundry I can not even count that high. But dang nab it, the kids have clean underwear again. I even washed bed linens.

It was so nasty outside -what with the pelting rain and the 40ish degree temperature, I didn't dare drag my darlings made of sugar out into the elements. All you dealing with ice and snow and teen degree weather, I'm sorry. But this is California and I yam what I yam. Brrr.

The worst part? I'm nursing the end of a cold and I always get the 1-900 voice about this time. Which might be cute for a few jokes, but I honestly can barely talk. And let me tell you, there is nothing worse than being a mother of five without a voice! No power to yell. Either a raspy whisper eminates from my lips, or I sound like an adolescent boy as my voice cracks and I try to screech orders at everyone. Doesn't really work. I think loosing your voice as a mother might be worse than going blind. Without the voice, I can see everything happening, but I am at a loss for how to stop it in its tracks. It's kind of like living that dream everyone hates - you know, when you show up in public without any clothes on? Well, being a mother and not being able to talk is worse. Trust me.

Well, tomorrow is a new day. I'll go suck on some lemons and drink some tea in hopes my voice comes back to put order in this household.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Sophia's First Birthday!

First we must placate the screeching creature so we can prepare the celabratory feast. Zach was on 'keep baby quiet duty' and it turned quickly to candy canes to keep her at a low roar.

Tradition has it we make ice cream. Sabrina was, uhm,.. 'helping' me unwrap 50 million candy canes to make peppermint icecream.

Then I make the world's ugliest cake. You can't go too wrong with a big round pink blob.

Then we screech 'Happy Birthday' and the baby tries to figure out what to do with the stick that is lit on fire - does mommy want me to touch it? And then not understand when mommy keeps batting the baby hand out of the way. So confusing.

Then the glorious tasting of more sugar than a human should possibly have when they are only 12 months on this earth!! Look how far we have come from the first babe, Jared, turned one and got a carrot cake sweetened with apple juice and made with whole wheat unbleached flour. I'm sorry Jared. You'll get over it.

Then the fire hose. We're green at this household and we go straight to the hand - no washclothes or paper towels needed!

Then to the booty!! No smarty comments about the fabulous wrapping I did with the gifts. The kid's one. She'll never remember.

Then the rabid present unwrapping. I don't know what awful song the boys sang when Brobee came out - but it must have been a doozy.

The awesome Disney Princess car that is almost as loud as Sophie.

Happy Birthday baby!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Ack. Has it been 6 days already? And thanks for all your thoughts - the tree is upright again. Looks fab, even with all the candycanes eaten off and no ornaments on the first three feet (puppy and one year old, you know how it is.)

Anyhoo, here is a funny funny spam-mail my wonderful office mate (also named Karen) sent over. Merry Christmas!

Dear Santa, I've been a good mom all year. I've fed, cleaned and cuddled my children on demand, visited the doctor's office more than my own doctor, sold fifty six cases of cookie dough to raise money to plant a shade tree on the school playground. I was hoping you could spread my list out -- over several Christmases.

Since I had to write this letter with my son's red crayon, on the back of a receipt in the laundry room between cycles; and who knows when I'll find any more free time in the next 18 years, so now - -
*** Here are my Christmas wishes ***
* I'd like a pair of legs that don't ache (-in any color, except purple, which I already have) and arms that don't hurt or flap in the breeze; but are strong enough to pull my screaming child out of the candy aisle in the grocery store.
* I'd also like a waist, since I lost mine somewhere in the seventh month of my last pregnancy.
* If you're hauling big-ticket items this year, I'd like fingerprint resistant windows and a radio that only plays adult music; a television that doesn't broadcast any programs containing talking animals; and a refrigerator with a secret compartment behind the crisper where I can hide to talk on the phone.
* On the practical side, I could use a talking doll that says, 'Yes, Mommy' to boost my parental confidence, along with two kids who don't fight and three pairs of jeans that will zip all the way up without the use of power tools.
* I could also use a recording of Tibetan monks chanting, 'Don't eat in the l iving room' and 'Take your hands off your brother,' because my voice seems to be just out of my children's hearing range and can only be heard by the dog.
* If it's too late to find any of these products, I'd settle for enough time to brush my teeth and comb my hair in the same morning, or the luxury of eating food warmer than room temperature without it being served in a Styrofoam container.
*If you don't mind, I could also use a few miracles to brighten the holiday season. Would it be too much trouble to declare ketchup a vegetable? It will clear my conscience immensely.

*It would be helpful if you could coerce my children to help around the house without demanding payment as if they were the bosses of an organized crime family.
Well, the buzzer on the dryer is ringing, and my son saw my feet under the laundry room door. I think he wants his red crayon back. Have a safe trip Santa, and remember to leave your wet boots by the door, and come in and dry off, so you don't catch cold. Help yourself to cookies on the table, but don't eat too many or leave crumbs on the carpet. Yours always with love and appreciation, A Mom
P.S. One more thing . . You can cancel all my requests, if you can keep my children 'young' enough to believe in Santa.
. . . Santa has asked that this gets passed on to all 'moms' if you wish

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Christmas Preparation 2008 - Lessons Learned

In my attempts to be helpful to others, I offer up these sage words of advice as you tackle the holiday season this year.

1. Big, tough German Shepherds weighing 90 lbs. don't really like to wear reindeer antlers.

2. When addressing Christmas cards, packages, etc,.. for the love of a mother's sanity, please, please, please make sure the pen is water soluble. Just remember this: Friends don't let friends use Sharpies.

No, it's not foot fungus - it's black pen 'nail polish'. At least she's on-trend for the winter months.

Hmm,... which superhero is it - Catwoman, or Tatwoman? Thankfully, this was not a sharpie pen. I rest my case.

3. When allowing the children to decorate the tree, it is important for a responsible adult to be present, even if you must rent one, in order to make sure they don't hang all 5 moving boxes full of Christmas ornaments on the tree on only one side, resulting in an unbalanced tree. And I don't mean from an artistic standpoint.

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Universal Faux Pas

In reviewing my list of things that make me happy, I realized it's a list of things that are out of the ordinary - those little zingers that don't always happen, or are so fleeting you have to slow down to really relish them. Seeing that list made me feel really bad, however, because in general I'm a pretty happy person and that can not be attributed to that list of seven things. The constants in my life that make me happy are the elephants in the room, so to speak. I'd have to say my faith is very important to me and gives me peace and then of course, my soul mate, my college sweatheart, my husband. So, here's to you! Thanks for making me happy. Not that the box from Ann Taylor yesterday afternoon didn't really make me smile. : )

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Tag, I'm It

How exciting - my first tag! Over at Teri's, well she's created a list (not that she's checking it twice) and while the pallbearer list is intriguing, I'll stick with the spirit of the season and list all the roads to happiness in my life.

1.Shopping for clothes. Let's just get it out there; you all know I'm really shallow and a ridiculous closet hogger. Phew. Now that's out of the way.
2. Travel. I don't care where (obviously, by the places I've lived, I guess!) Nothing is more exciting than exploring a new place. And there are so many of them out there, I can't help but feel like the sands in the hourglass are falling and I'm wasting daylight hanging out in So Cal.
3. When all the kids are gone or sleeping. Not that I don't love my kids, trust me, but with five of them and 2200 square feet, the house starts to feel a bit small. I'm an introvert and need my alone time to recharge - hard to do these days. So, when I get that half hour of peace, I really relish it.
4.Having someone pay me a compliment. Im narcissistic that way. And I happen to work with a graat bunch of people who are very encouraging and tell you 'great job!' more than once a year during bonus time. Which is necessary, since being a writer, and writing being such a personal thing (I think), having your articles, brochures, press releases, Web pages etc,.. ripped to shreddeds, completely redone, or rejected, really puts a hole through the heart.
5. That first sip of coffee in the morning, or the first sip of a really good bear in the evening. So fleeting - you can't do it but once day.
6. Accomplishing something - exercising, cooking, mopping the floor, cleaning the closet,.. whatever - just to get something done gives me a purpose in life and a sense of well being. Although, I would love for a day when I can lie in bed all day and read and watch movies. But I guess that's number 7.

Monday, December 1, 2008

For the love of stuffing!

Well, we had an excellent Thanksgiving, thanks for asking. At first I thought it might be a little depressing to be away from family and not get together with friends, but in the grand scheme of the stress and activities in our life, we decided to lie low for the day. We played Cranium together and if you've ever played an older kid/adult game with kids ranging in age from 2 to 40, you know it will a. take a loooong time, b. require you to look through the boxes of questions for those that they will understand (no, they don't listen to Quiet Riot, thank gawd. And Zach didn't know what a pipe dream is,.. hmmm,.. does that mean spoiled?)

They thoroughly enjoyed it, as did we, the parents. But of course I knew I would from the moment the 9 year old asked me if I'd ever been to Hooters, to gauge whether I would successfully be able to answer a question. (He had to draw a picture of buffalo wings, if you were wondering.)

I finally figured it out: you do all your shopping the morning before with five kids hanging off the cart like flying monkeys from the Wizard of Oz, and me, well, I'm the wicked witch of the west. "YOU, my pretty!" I screech as we careen down the main aisle toward the dairy products. "Dispatch and bring me a bag of marshmallows AND NOT THE MINI KIND!" I cackle and push the little creature off the cart with my gnarled finger. If he wants a ride home he'll find me before I check out.

We get home and cook/bake all the side dishes and desserts the DAY BEFORE! Why did it take me 39 years to realize the beauty of this scheme? Oh, and having an 11 year old who loves to bake helps. A lot. And having friends come over to help stir bacon frying in butter while you drink decaf green tea (do you think enough anti oxidants to stave off the artery clogging fats of the stuffin in that cup? Any bit helps, right?)

So the day of was nice and relaxed; game playing; a nice run about an hour before the turkey was scheduled to fly out of the oven (it's all in the psychology folks!), amazing dinner and a Christmas movie. We watched Fred Klaus and I highly recommend it and we will be watching the movie as punishment every time a boy comes into the house telling me how much they don't like brother A or B. Someday maybe it'll sink in.

As usual, the holiday in pictures!

You're never to young to learn about what your dinner time poultry looks like before it becomes a dinosaur shaped nugget. She was a little scared of the featherless beast, since at 17 pounds, it was almost as big as she is.
Then you have to get the attention of your tweener - he almost licked the turkey neck for $5. I know, not the role model I should be. Jared: don't do stuff becuase people dare you! Have a mind of your own. Love, mom.
I'd say by the stiff smiles on their faces, they really aren't too sure about this turkey dinner thing
Is dinner ready yet?
Sometimes you just have to take matters into your own hands; Sophie has decided to cook dinner too.
She likes things spicy!
But, check it out! No special filters were used to enhance the buttery brown color of this turkey. I've come a long way from relearning how to use my convection oven after a year hiatus in Indonesia with a cook stove and a toaster oven.
NOW she'll take credit - Sabrina, my fair weather daughter.....
The master carver,..
The required stuffing - Rob's mom's. 2 pounds of bacon and a slab o' butter! Good stuff,.. I can't wait until next year,..
The gang, literally, waiting for the gunshot so they can dig in,..
Worth the two days of cooking, believe me,..
Kyle thinks so too,..
Sabrina preferred to play peek-a-boo with the big napkins instead of actually eating anything,..

Jared made these yummy Reese's "because I'm Zach and I hate anything that is normally meant to be eaten - please accomodate me" cup cookies.

The second course - apple pie and reese's cookies. I also tortured the children by making everyone write one nice thing that they are thankful for about each person in the family and we put them in the little bags. Some of the bags have paper hands on them - I meant to have them create turkeys out of them; there's always next year, right? We took turns reading why everyone was thankful for us between bites of dessert.
Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Happy Belated GIS Day

Which was last week, but never mind. It's a big deal at my company and part of the National Geographic Society's Geography Week. Read a little more about it here.

I've had a couple more articles published and you can read about them here. Hopefully these will give you a better idea of my work and how exciting my company and working with our clients can be. Not that staying home with five kids on Thanksgiving break isn't exciting. Trust me.

And the weekend rocked. Although just when we thought we had a place on easy street with no more baseball on Sunday, it was quickly replaced by activities - kind of like air rushing into a vaccum - by a baptism and a birthday party. We also managed to squeeze in movie night with KungFu Panda, which I missed part of with a work call to Australia. At least I can live vicariously through the phone lines.

The big news is Jared's team rocked at the football playoff 2nd game series and he's going to the superbowl. Which maybe not as exciting as it sounds since it's in,.. Menifee. (No slander intended all you Menifites out there.) It does mean we are stuck here in Y-town for the Thanksgiving break. Not so bad, but between baby naps, laundry and football practice, not a lot of time left to do major activities. So, does looking at the pets at Petco count as a fun activity? You bet it does. Welcome to my exciting life
Here's Jared's pass right before he got knocked into next week by these three dudes at the same time. It was like a massive heimlick maneuver - the ball jutted about six feet, Jared laid in a crumpled heap on the field.
Here he is asking the Athletic Director and the coach if he caught the ball. Short term memory is the first to go in a tackle.

Two touchdowns and I have to brave another football game this year.

The fam.

Monday, November 17, 2008

The Weekend: Too Many Boys, Hugging Coaches and Fairy Tales

We are still here! Someday I'll blog regularly again (uhm,.. don't hold your breath)

The big news - we were brave enough and finally granted poor little Zachy his slumber party. We had three other boys (besides our three boys) spend the night. Everyone had a great time. My wonderful, wonderful friend watched Sophia so even I could trekk to the movie theater and watch Madagascar 2. I love those stupid movies. Long Live King Julian! Actually, I think we laughed harder than the kids. Which shouldn't really be a big shocker, since, according to my chidlren, everyone but them has seen SAW I, II, III, IV AND V. I give up. I am happy to be that quirky, quakerish mom up the street who doesn't let her boys wear their shorts around their knees, expects them to watch things that don't involve human torture or illicit sex and wants them to get good grades in school. I know, who the heck do I think I am?

Case in point? I spent my time in the stands at Zach's football playoff game listening to parents discuss the merits of Club Fantasy strip club over Club 215 due to the lower cover charge and the $5 pitchers. Hmmm... these are parents of second and third graders. I'd say I wasn't very worldly, but actually, sorry, that's not the case. Me and my old fashioned morals. Gosh darn it.

Anyway, Zach lost unfortunately. He played a great game, and it was tough, but someone has to loose, right? No thanks to the heavy dust devils and 500 mph 90 degree wind - I had to remove my lipstick as soon as I got out of the car because dirt was sticking to my lips. Not the fashion statement I was striving for.

Jared, on the other hand, WON! And he caught a pass that got the team their first of two touchdowns. It looked like this:

Then the coaches looked like this:

He has that effect on his coaches. Poor kid; we move so much he has to prove himslef over and over again. He has my utmost respect and I SWEAR I will try my darnedest to stay put so he can play football on the same team for two years in a row and start out closer to where his abilities land him, instead of as the water boy, as it has been in the past.
After the big win, to the movie where we ate 50$ worth of popcorn and M&Ms (actually not as much as you'd think, this is SoCal.), then to Little Ceasar's for lots of greasy pizza, then home for Reese's cake, flashlight tag and football in the dark and creepy community park, more snacks like flamin' hot cheetos to sustain the kids, then bed. Up early for hot tubbin' and pancakes. Boot all the little boys not named Richardson and head to Mass then Kyle's last baseball game. Then home for a psuedo nap (you know, when you are on the verge of sleep but someone who shall remain nameless keeps making noise and you wake up) then hubby attempts to put in a new thermostat, and I leave him alone with small children when I go to the store, only to come home to a dark, not on the electric grid anymore house and think the worst. He's okay thank goodness. But, the thermostat is strewn in a slew of small electrical components in a three foot spread on one of my nice pieces of furniture, so I'm actually happy for all that extra carbon dioxide so I don't freeze to death as we attempt to find time to buy electrical tape and longer wires before the first frigid temps of oh, say,.. 50ish degrees.
The tale of the big princess and the little princess.
by Sophia Richardson
I suppose my life will get better when I get older. I look at my sister, the B, (I guess as in Queen Bee) and see her charmed life.
She hangs around and drinks Hot ChaCha from Starbucks.
When she's had enough hot cha cha to sustain her energy, she does ballet.
Me? I'm the little sister. When I'm not in the dog kennel,
I'm doing chores.
They are both spoiled. Believe me.
Muddlin' Mother She has my grimace, don't you think? And she's a mean stair climber already,.. unfortunately,...

Monday, November 10, 2008

Oh yeah, Halloween

Happy Halloween!

First was the halloween party at toddler gym, where as you can see, Fifi is all about separation anxiety and trusting no one but her mom,..

Then there was the magical box from Grandma Z with the cool Halloween treats - like this, the cat that poops brown jelly beans, .. and the skeleton that poops candy,.. and the gummy tape worms and the enlarged gummy tongue. Gee, thanks Grandma, I think!?!?

But a holiday is just not right without a trip to the EMERGENCY ROOM. Let me quickly recap. Christmas? Zach at the ER on the blessed eve. New Year's? Six hours in urgent care on the first day of the New Year with Jared, frantically nursing a three week old infant and crying silently to myself in the bathroom. Halloween? Mommy thinks it'll be just dandy to take the B to ride a pony at the pumpkin patch. Get to the patch. No ponies. Pay a ridiculous amount of money to have goats eat the shirts off our backs (plesae see picture above). Sit down for overpriced pizza at picnic table. B gets stung by a bee on her cheek. Cry, kiss, Dora bandaid, everything is fine. She wakes up from her nap. Slightly swollen cheek. By the time we get back from trick or treating it is pretty darned swollen. Call nurse hotline. Daddy makes like the EMT he should have been and speeds her to the ER. Long story short.. there was a secondary infection of the sting. What does that mean in layman terms? There was probably GOAT POOP ON THE STINGER OF THE BEE. You know what fate? I am a mom of five kids; a toddler who needs a solid wipe, a baby who needs a diaper change AND a puppy who does not know the meaning of HOUSEBROKEN. I HAVE ENOUGH POOP IN MY LIFE. I DON"T NEED A BEE STINGER WITH IT AS WELL.

Anyway, on with the story

We had a great holiday. Here it is in pictures:
Halloween really brings out our competitive spirit - lucky for us St. Frances has a 'Trunk or Treat' we can attend to play games and do a dry run for the BIG NIGHT.

Kyle racing on something with wheels, what's new, eh?

The old sack race, and I don't mean, 'the kids get to race against the old sack,.." sheesh,...

The zen mastery of the bean bag...

Then we were visited by the angels,..

Don't let what mommy tells you sway you,.. this isn't a halloween costume,.. really,

Well, you have to walk before you can fly,..

And when you're too tired to crawl, walk or fly,.. have daddy carry you,.

Dude, it isn't easy wearing a halo,
Seriously, it ain't easy,

But when you figure it out, it really pays off!

Did I mention the serious wind tunnel we have in our house?

Brothers,.. forever!

The before picture,..

And the after,...

This is what I call 'the pensive ghoul'

Most of our ghoulish crew,.. it's hard to get those spirits to sit still for a picture you know.

Resolution for the new year: feed Kyle more.

Some more of the motley crew in the front yard,.. dude, is that Kyle?

Argh,.. it took Fifi a little getting used to having a pirate for a daddy.

Nothin' like a pirate feeding ya dinner, ya scurvy dog!

My oldest, .. he makes me so proud!