Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Another week, another sick post

Alright, so let's talk for a minute.  How many weeks have I written about sickness?  I can't even remember.  It's been a long, long time.  Since the beginning of December our family hasn't attended church together more than twice.  In the last week alone we have had three kids with earaches, one kid get the flu, Mike with a fever and sinus junk, Isaac with a respiratory virus (not the flu) and pink eye (on top of his earache), and myself, an itchy, welty mess.  Eli is the one person in our house who has not gotten sick.  His turn was in December when he was sick for weeks and got the rest of us sick.  Poor Isaac is miserable.  He's missed eight days of school so far and is going to miss more due to fevers and his pink eye.  He is bored and sick and sad.  I am not too happy about it all either.  I've made trip after trip to the doctor with sick kids.  The only time I am not itchy like a mad person is when I am asleep but falling asleep is difficult because I'm itching so bad.  The welts are everywhere on my body from my ears to my toes.  My palms and bottoms of my feet have swelled.  My chin, my sides, my bum, every spot of skin has had hot, red welts on them.  It's been a week and a half and I can barely stand it anymore.  Tomorrow I am heading to the allergist and it can't come quickly enough.  I tried to plead my itchy case to them this morning, begging to know if anyone had canceled an appointment so I could get in soon.  No luck.  I'll just keep itching away until tomorrow when I will get my itchy butt to the doctor as soon as I can.  

I can hardly keep Piper away from Isaac.  She feels sad for him and wants to share her blankets and give him kisses and hugs.  He's got his own eye wiping rag so as not to infect the rest of us.  We've washed hands a billion and one times.  So far, the flu has not passed to anyone else and neither has the pink eye.  I'm grateful and surprised.  

 This week school had a two hour delay.  This is all the snow that is required to make that happen here in Tennessee.  It's pretty cold here but today it's cold and sunny and I'll take that over cold and grey any day!

 This weekend Isaac woke up and said he still wasn't feeling well so we texted his coach and told him that Isaac wasn't feeling well enough to play because of his sinus junk and earache.  He went downstairs and returned a few minutes later suddenly feeling just fine, reminding  us that his teacher Sister Roe was coming to watch him play.  He had two games (as did Will) and they won the first game.  Isaac even made a basket!  His team played a second game and they lost in overtime.  It was such a close game.  It was their first game lost.  After making the basket in his first game Isaac said, "I wish Sister Roe was there to see me make the basket."  Brother and Sister Roe came to his second game and Isaac was so happy she came!  Sister Roe is such a sweet lady and she has made Isaac, and all the boys in his church class, feel so loved and cared about.  She sends cards in the mail on holidays, attends their games, goes to their baptisms, goes to pack meetings, etc.  She is such a good example to me of how effective a teacher can be in a child's life.  She is in her seventies (I think) and Isaac is just eight but it doesn't matter what the space in age or the circumstances in their lives, she has made a connection with him and I will always be so grateful that she magnifies her calling.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Time to update

Our last post was about all the sickness we've had. This post will not be about all the sickness we've had but I will say that we are still sick!  Will has the flu and an earache, Mike has some sinus junk and a fever, and Isaac is home from school for a second day with a nasty cough and sinus issues as well.  I have big, itchy welts all over my body from something I'm allergic to.  It's been four days of itching.  My feet are swollen as well as my hands and the welts are pretty much everywhere.  I have a referral to see a doctor next week but I'm hoping the welts go away sooner!  I have no clue what is causing them.

Piper has been such a fun little girl lately.  I've been trying to spend more quality time with her so on Tuesdays and Thursdays we go somewhere together.  This week we went on an adventure to find the library.  She loved it--anything with books makes her happy!  We also went to Toys-R-Us.  The one near our house is going out of business and everything was on sale for 60% off.  I don't generally buy the kids toys unless it is a birthday or Christmas but I figured a sale that big was worth checking out so we went and Piper and I had a fun time choosing toys for everyone.  They are mostly hidden in a closet ready to be pulled out when I decide to distribute them.  Piper loved it.  She had about three toys in her arms at all times.  Her favorite is a huge Minnie Mouse.  Minnie Mouse is her favorite character right now.  Piper is so loving lately.  She gives so many hugs and kisses and is always saying, "I love you."  It is so sweet.  She is super attached to Mike still.  When I put her to bed she says, "Where my dad?  I need my dad."  When I ask her what song she wants me to sing her she says, "Best friend.  He my best friend."  Interpreted, that means she wants me to sing, "I'm so glad when daddy comes home."  She loves her daddy.  She is pretty adorable.  She won't keep clothes on.  She wants to wear PJ's all day or nothing at all.  Also, she is starting to show signs of recognizing when she needs to go potty.  She will tell me as she is filling her diaper that she needs to go to the toilet.  It's a start.  She will only nap about twice a week now and that is super annoying.  She stays in her bed making all kinds of noise and yelling, "Mommy!  Come get me out!"
She told them all to dance and then made her bear play the piano for them

The older two boys are working hard on finishing up their scout goals.  Will is almost done.  He will be going into Webelos in March.  Their basketball is going well.  Isaac hasn't lost a game.  He's pretty impressive (he is standing over my shoulder and told me to write that).  Will's team has only won one game.  His coach is pretty horrible and he has some pretty spoiled kids on his team that throw tantrums every game.  I don't think we've been to a game yet where one of the older kids hasn't thrown a tantrum right on the court.  It's ridiculous.

Eli is doing great.  He got to dress up like an old man today for the 100th day of school.  He had lots of ideas about how to dress up.  It was pretty cute.  His brothers are sick and stayed home from school two days in a row.  Yesterday it was just me and Mike and Eli at the breakfast table and I think he enjoyed that one on one time.  Then after school he went with me to pick up Mike's medicine from the pharmacy and later Mike took him on a Daddy/Son date and he chose to go to Sonic.  He is liking all the attention, I think.  His reading is getting much better and he is doing really well in school.  Yesterday the guidance counselor came to his class and they talked about filling buckets.  He told me he filled three people's buckets up yesterday and I realized they were talking about filling emotional buckets.  It was pretty cute to hear him talk about how he was being so nice to all his friends so they could have full buckets.

Hopefully our next post will not start out about us being sick still!

Sunday, January 04, 2015

Everyone in the country seems to be sick.

A boogery, sick Piper
This has been a sick winter for so many people.  Our family has had our fair share of sickness this past month.  Mike is still holding out strong.  He is stuffy but doesn't appear to have any other ailment.  I'm hoping it stays that way.  Neither he nor I got the flu shot this year and while we hear that the flu shot isn't very effective this year, we also hear that it lessons the symptoms for those that did get the shot and still get the flu.  I'm holding my breath, hoping it passes by us this year.

Coughing, fevers, drainage, sore throats, and sinus pressure have been going through us one by one (though the fever mostly stayed with the boys).  We got back from Maryland and I thought I was beginning to turn a corner of my sickness when my thumb began to swell.  Within a few hours both of my hands were swollen.  The next morning I took a Sudafed and within ten minutes had huge, hot welts on my arms, knees, and legs.  I got into urgent care and was given some steroids and an antibiotic to knock out the cough and drainage.  My hands were so swollen that even the pressure of the steering wheel on my palms was super painful.  The steroids helped to reduce some of the swelling but by the end of the night I had welts in other areas of my legs, around my eye, and on my feet.  Even my tongue felt swollen.  I worried I was going to end up in the emergency room but Mike had given me a blessing the night before telling my not to worry too much about the rash so I went to bed and woke up in the morning mostly recovered from the rashes.  The antibiotic has started to help with the sickness and I am feeling now just sick, not like I want to die.  It's amazing how bad I felt!  The steroids make me feel a little dizzy and sick to my stomach as well as give me a horrible headache so last night I took a caffeine pill and was up past midnight but thankfully had no headache anymore.  So, I guess I've had some bad luck with sickness and reactions to medicines lately.  It hasn't been fun but thankfully I am almost done with the steroids and I am feeling better each day--no sore throat, less coughing, less drainage, etc.

The boys all seem on the mend as well.  After missing church three weeks in a row from coughing Eli is finally back today.  Piper is pretty boogery but doesn't have much of a cough and seems to be handling the cold much better than previous colds.  I think the boys will be well enough to go back to school when the break is over on Tuesday.

I am hoping for a healthy year for us all this year!

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Inner Harbor, Baltimore

We went to the Inner Harbor in Baltimore today.  First we went to the Bishop's Storehouse/Clothing Center where Grandma and Grandpa have a service mission calling.  Then we headed to the Inner Harbor. I thought the boys would be more interested in it than they were.  They wanted to go to the Aquarium or the Science Museum or go on a water taxi (they haven't been on a boat).  Mike was unwilling to pay money for any of those so the boys moped and I wished I had come with one of my sisters and left the kids and Mike at home so I could just walk around and enjoy the sights.  The boys perked up once they got to see the street performer and get some food in their bellies.  They had yummy crepes (one of their favorite foods).

Friday, December 26, 2014

A sick, but happy Christmas

We are in Maryland visiting family for the Christmas break.  A large portion of our trip so far has consisted of us being sick.  Eli was sick before we came (coughing, fever) and he passed it on to me.  We got here and then Will started feeling ill.  He got a low grade fever the day before Christmas Eve.  That night he woke up with a fever of 103 so on Christmas Eve I took him to urgent care.  We spent three hours at urgent care but were able to get some medicine for his sore throat and cough.  When we got home I began to feel sick to my stomach and spent the remainder of the night laying on the floor by the toilet hoping to throw up.  The next day, Christmas, I spent in bed and laying on the couch with the same tummy ache.  Thankfully, today I am feeling much better.  

Aside from the sickness, I think everyone is having a great time so far.  The boys have enjoyed playing with their cousins and having a Harry Potter marathon.  They loved their Christmas presents and seemed genuinely pleased with everything.  Piper was giddy about her princess dress, new doll from Grandma, and her other toys.  It has rained for the majority of our time here thus far but today it was a really nice, sunny day so we took the kids to a nearby park and we played basketball.  Also, Grandpa is taking each of the boys out separately for a trip to 7-11 so they can each get a slurpee.  They have loved that.  Tomorrow we are heading to the Inner Harbor in Baltimore and I think the boys and Piper are looking forward to playing in the hot tub.
Grandma Richards knows we eat pizza for Christmas dinner so she made pizza for the kids

Austin had strep throat and Will had a fever so we made them wear masks

Christmas Eve night we read The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey

The boys each got photo books of pictures of them and Laila and Piper got a story book about sisters

The kids put out food for the reindeer and left milk and cookies for Santa.  Charlie tried to eat the food

The kids loved their presents Christmas morning

This describes the way I felt Christmas Eve night and Christmas Day.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Merry Christmas!

Dear Family and Friends,

It’s not really a secret that I am pretty terrible at sending out Christmas cards.  I actually love Christmas cards.  I love to read the notes and letters and read about all the braggable things everyone has been up to.  I love to hang the pictures on my bulletin board and think about the wonderful friendships we have made along the way.  I wish I were better at sending cards myself but I am not.  So instead, here I am again writing an electronic Christmas letter. 

It has been a pretty eventful year for our family.  We got the surprising and wonderful news that Mike’s deployment was canceled months before he was supposed to leave.  We were so grateful he was able to stay home.  In February, the boys started piano lessons.  I imagined having to bribe and nag to get them to practice their songs but they love it!  Each of them practice with little prompting on my part.  They had their first recital and all did a great job!  Will was asked to play “He Sent His Son” in sacrament meeting for the Primary program.  He is way more brave than I am—I shake in my shoes when asked to perform in front of people.  We loved our piano teacher in Colorado and were disappointed to find that the rates for piano lessons is almost double in Tennessee so Mike decided to teach piano himself.  Each Sunday we all (including me) get our piano lesson from Mike.  We will eventually need to fork out the money for a real piano teacher but his knowledge is sufficient for us all right now.

In March I started taking photography lessons with Mike’s encouragement.  I have a lot to learn still but I’ve enjoyed being able to take better pictures of the kids and find I really enjoy this new hobby.  Will got to participate in his first Pine Wood derby and got his Wolf and started Bears in scouts.  Our Spring Break was in March and we all headed to Kentucky so Mike could participate in a cheese internship.  He spent the week making cheese with a professional cheese-maker while the boys and I found some fun things to do during the day.  While in Kentucky we received some sad news.  Our sweet dog Diamond passed away at the kennel from bloat.  He has been a part of our family since Eli was a newborn and we miss him very much. 

Mike got accepted to a number of schools for his PhD program, namely Texas A&M, and MIT!  After a lot of thought and prayer we decided to go to neither of these schools and instead go to Tennessee.  It didn’t seem like the obvious decision (who wouldn’t go to MIT if they got accepted?!) but knowing he needed to complete a five year degree in three years, we felt the stress it would cause our family was ultimately not what we wanted.  That, and the fact that his boss did not want him to get a degree in Nuclear engineering made us looking for other programs and schools to attend.  Mike took a trip to Tennessee and was impressed with the National Laboratory in Oak Ridge and decided he would enjoy Energy Engineering.  He sent me to Tennessee with his sister Jessie to find a house. 

The boys finished their year at Imagine Indigo Ranch on a high note.  Eli graduated from Kindergarten and lost his first tooth!  Isaac’s class went rollerskating on the last day of school and Isaac had an unfortunate run in with the wall, splitting his head open and needing stitches.  He definitely ended second grade with a bang!

In June Mike had a two week work class (systems engineering course) so we all decided to go home and visit family one last time before we moved.  We had a great time in Utah, riding horses, playing with cousins, watching movies outside in the dark, and just having a good time. 

July found us packing up and moving across the country to Tennessee.  Leaving Colorado was difficult for all of us but we feel blessed to have the opportunity to experience so many different places and meet so many different people.  We began our move with a stop of my sister’s house in Kansas.  Our house was still not available so we stayed in a cabin in the Smokey Mountains.  It was a nice “vacation” where we took a brief break from moving and just hung out together as a family.  We celebrated Isaac’s eighth birthday at Ober Gattlinburg on a perfect day in the mountains.  We went swimming, hiking, played games, went water tubing, and saw a black bear (well, Mike saw a black bear). 

We moved into our house the first week in August and the boys started school that month as well.  Piper misses her brothers while they are at school and I’m afraid I’m not a good replacement for them.  Mike also started school at UTK and had a great semester, receiving all A’s.  We were proud of Isaac’s decision to be baptized and thankful for the family that came into town to celebrate this special day with us.  The last six months have found us getting used to a new house, school and state.  We haven’t enjoyed the humidity or the bugs but Tennessee is beautiful and wild and we have had fun discovering a new place. 

The boys have enjoyed playing with their new friends in the neighborhood and are enjoying scouts.  The two older boys decided they wanted to try out basketball for the first time.  This is their first time playing a team sport and they are loving it so far.  They have really never played basketball at all until recently and so they have a lot of catching up to do but they are sincere about getting better and I find them out in the freezing cold almost on a daily basis doing drills and practicing.  It has been fun for all of us to play together and I think it will be a good experience for them overall.

After a lot of discussion and prayer, Mike and I decided to throw caution to the wind and start a business.  It is so out of character for us and we regularly go to bed asking each other what we were thinking but we are excited to see what the future holds.  Our business consists of personalized wooden decorations.  If you would like to see more you can find our store at .  After a successful month we decided to delist the majority of our items until we get back in January. 

Our family wants to say thank you for your friendship.  We feel so thankful for the blessings we have in our lives but most especially for the blessing or our Savior Jesus Christ and His birth, Atonement, and Resurrection.  We feel tremendously grateful for the guidance and direction we receive in our lives and for the opportunity we have to change and become better.  We hope you each have a wonderful Christmas and want to share our love and appreciation to each of you.


The Richards Family    

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Finalizing things here before we head to Maryland.

Last week was a doozy.  This week was better.  Mike got his grades from the semester.  He got straight A's!  I'm gonna brag for a second too.  His teacher sent out an email saying that he was disappointed in some of the final results and that Mike and three other students did the best and then he posted Mike's answers for the rest of the class to see how he expected their answers to be in the future.  It's actually quite funny because Mike told me multiple times while he worked on the final that he really wasn't giving good answers he didn't think he would do very well on the final.  He has been so helpful this week.  I volunteered at Eli's class party last Friday and Isaac's this Friday.  I was able to get Christmas shopping done and and take Piper to a four hour long doctor's appointment all because Mike was home.  It's been so nice. He has been working for our business every day, all day and I have been working off and on, mostly helping with the sanding, staining, and shipping.  I have had things to do for my calling and baking for a cookie exchange at scouts, and other random things that needed to be done.  

On Monday I baked a bunch of sugar cookies and we invited just a few friends over for a hot chocolate bar and cookie decorating party.  Let me just say, I am the worst cookie maker ever.  Seriously.  My cookies looked like biscuits.  I've never been a great baker.   

Last Friday we read  one of our Christmas books called Bear Stays Up and then we let the boys sleep near the Christmas tree.  They thought it was a great idea but none of them slept well that night.  Piper thought she was going to get to sleep down with them and was disappointed when I made her say goodnight and sleep in her bed.  

As mentioned, Mike has been working hard on nativities, silhouettes, and temples this week.  The Manti temple took him about 12 or 15 hours.  I just gave him feedback--helped him decide what things to include in the temple and then I helped stain it.  The Idaho Falls temple took about 8 hours.  I helped with the clean up and it wasn't too bad and then stained that one as well.  My job was the easy one.  Thankfully, now that the temples are done, when someone orders that temple again, we won't have to put in that many hours, just the hours of cutting and then the clean up.

Today the boys had two basketball games.  Last week they had three and it consumed our entire day.  Today we had one early in the morning and then later in the day.  Both boys won their games and both boys made improvements.  Will got some good rebounds and even stole the ball once and he was super proud of himself.  All the coaches and parents cheered for him and he was so happy.  Then after the game the coach told the kids that Will was by far the best defender of the day and made a big deal about Will's performance.  He felt so happy and I really was so grateful that everyone cheered for him and made him feel good, especially since the last thing he said to me before he walked into the gym was, "Now you get to see how bad I am at this, Mom."  It makes me sad that he feels so self-conscience about it.  I told him that he just needs to have confidence and do his best and he did so I think it was a pretty successful experience for him.  He only got to play about three minutes last week and this week they kept him in for an entire quarter so that is good.  Isaac also made a lot of improvements.  Last week he was kind of stiff and uncertain but this week he got right in there and blocked and rebounded and dribbled.  He's doing better and better.  I think for their second games ever in their entire life, they are doing great.  After the games they went right back outside to practice some more.  Mike spent a good hour out in the cold with them practicing drills and they all came in happy and ready for hot chocolate.  They really love playing basketball.

Tonight we were supposed to have our Christ-Centered Christmas dinner.  We invited two families but then they all got sick!  We are sick too (Eli and I are sick at least) so it ended up being better for me to not have to stress about making this special night happen.  I am disappointed that it isn't going to happen now but we bought them presents and we will take them their presents to church tomorrow.  It is my favorite of our Christmas traditions so again, I'm disappointed but also, I'm relieved to not have to stress about it.

We are packing up and heading to Maryland on Monday.  I am so looking forward to spending the holidays with Mike's family.  I need a break from all the stress of this past month and I'm just excited to spend time with the family and rest.