Post Halloween

What have we been doing the last month? Survival mode, I think. I told a friend the other day that the older I get, the lower my expectations are.

Enjoying the fall weather:

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Being sick, a lot. A random fever bug caught all four kids, and then we ended up in the ER when Logan got croup:

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Although Logan is not in preschool, his schedule is pretty full. M/W/F he plays in the church gym while I do Zumba. Tuesday he has a playdate with Brooklyn, and Thursday he has a playdate with FOUR of his friends. Five toddlers is busy, but nice since we rotate and get four weeks off!

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Primary program. You aren’t really supposed to snap pictures in a Mormon church, but I couldn’t resist getting a shot (or two) of Megan’s last primary program. Gavin was standing behind a darling girl whose mom played college volleyball. So I couldn’t really see him.

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Crying a whole lot, exacerbated by the time change:

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Attending an international food festival at the middle school. It’s amazing to me that my kids are surrounded by first-generation Americans whose parents come from China, India, Vietnam, Israel, Egypt, Mexico, etc. It’s amazing how Microsoft has transformed this community. It’s a great experience for us all, and it makes me feel pretty ignorant that we only speak one language in our home. Most of our neighbors speak at least two and sometimes three or more.

Oh, and they did a flash mob dance in the gym. That was the highlight for Megan.

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Great Grandma came to visit from South Carolina. She visited her sister in Oregon, then came up here and stayed with Shay. We enjoyed our week with her.

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Finally, I started exploring a possible Master’s degree in Social Work. I visited a class at UW and got CPR/First Aid certified so I can start volunteering once a month at an emergency shelter for foster kids. I’m looking forward to it!

Enjoying the Fall Routine

We are chugging along in our new school routine and enjoying the autumn weather. We enjoyed Lucy Richins’ baptism and General Conference. Megan went to the State Fair with Orchestra. Gavin is doing swim team and Scouts. Ben is figuring out this kindergarten thing. Logan is loving his days with Mom.

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Skyline Homecoming Parade

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I can’t seem to keep the little boys out of my bed

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Fun with cousins

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Caught in the rain

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This boy belongs in the woods

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Lots of playdates with Brookie

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Camping at Ensign Ranch

Christopher spent a week in Poland and it was rough, especially with the kids still adjusting to the new school schedule. I knew the kids needed some extra family time when he got home so we went camping for a night at Ensign Ranch, about an hour away. The weather was gorgeous but it was cold at night so we huddled together in our smaller four-person tent. The kids were just thrilled to be outside playing with sticks, rocks, and fire. We rode horses and went fishing, although Logan preferred to throw rocks in the water, which scared away the fish. I was impressed by Megan and Gavin’s fire making ability. Both can start a good fire using a flint and steel fire starter, kindling, and wood. Logan’s job was to feed the fire with pine cones. And Ben seems calmer outdoors. It was a good night.

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Christopher and I recharged with wake surfing at the salmon bake, and later our belated anniversary dinner at El Gaucho.

First Day of School

Starting school in Seattle is a slow wind-up. We have all these business days at the school before Labor Day, then the day after Labor Day we meet the teacher (in elementary school). Gavin and Megan started school the Wednesday after Labor Day, and Ben didn’t start until Thursday. Logan is wondering why he hasn’t started yet (September 16!) but he did have an open house at his preschool today so that seemed to be good enough for him.

Ben was all smiles as he rode off on the school bus today, but I am nervous about the report this afternoon!

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Labor Day 2014

The kids have all had colds, so Labor Day 2014 started with a Ben and Mom hike. That kid left me in the dust for two miles, and we only headed back to the car because I was getting tired. He could have run for two miles more.

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In the afternoon I took Megan and Gavin for a little back to school shopping. We didn’t buy too many clothes this year, since Megan got some clothes this summer and Gavin still fits into everything. The shorts he is wearing are a size 5-6 (he is 9 1/2!) and are looking old. I finally found him some size 8 shorts at Target, that when cinched to the max, don’t fall off. And a few new shirts. Gavin said, “Mom, I’ll wear whatever you bring me home that fits, but my old clothes are fine. Really.” Low maintenance, that one.

After we got home the whole family hiked from the top to the bottom of Snoqualmie Falls. And back up again.

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PS The funniest thing happened while I was in Target with Megan and Gavin. While we were looking at shoes for Megan, Gavin wandered off. He didn’t reappear before we checked out, so I walked over to Guest Services to ask if they would page him to come to the front. They said, “He’s NINE? That’s under twelve. That’s a code yellow.” They essentially put the store in lockdown. In seconds security guards stood in front of the exits and red-shirted Target employees stood at the end of aisles. After about 10 seconds they said, “We found him on the LEGO aisle.” (duh! I should have looked there) About five team members surrounded him until Megan and I walked back to get him. And that’s the Target security procedure for a child up to age ELEVEN.

Vasa Park

With the lack of swimming pools here it always makes me happy to visit Vasa Park on Lake Sammamish. With waterslides, diving boards, and a decent beach, the kids don’t get bored. We arrived around 9:30 and were the first on the beach. Later it got super crowded but we stayed until past one.




Grass Lawn Park

After a dermatologist appointment for the boys in Bellevue, we stopped in Redmond to explore a new park. Logan scared me when he was able to climb the tallest tower, and Ben met his match in the sand pit, when he repeatedly threw sand at a dad named Robert, who eventually said, “Is that how you want to play?” and threw it back.










More summer fun

Megan went to her first boy-girl birthday party since she was about three. They played in the backyard and watched an outdoor movie. Although Megan is starting to be interested in the opposite sex, we have had many, many conversations about how it is wise to cultivate lots of friendships with lots of boys, and put aside any romantic feelings until she is much, much older. I shared with her that I liked the same boy from 4th grade until I graduated high school. But because I was anxious to be “boyfriend and girlfriend”, I ruined what could have been a really long and fun friendship. Looking back, I would have much rather had him as a friend than as an on-again off-again boyfriend, which eventually created lots of hurt feelings and awkwardness. I blame the media. When did boys and girls stop enjoying each other’s company and start viewing each other as only prospective love interests? For me, it was a steady dose of Saved By the Bell and The Babysitters Club. Oh, the drama.


We finally took Ben to a psychologist to be evaluated. In addition to a high IQ (of course), he shows signs of ODD (oppositional defiant disorder) and ADHD. The good and bad news is that the treatment for ODD is called parent child interaction therapy (PCIT), which is basically “you’ve got a challenging child and it’s tough to say whether you caused it or whether they just came that way, but now we are going to teach you how to be a good parent for them because you’re really blowing it”. We are going to go slow with the diagnosis process, only sticking him with the label if it will help him gain allowances at school. I am hopeful he will do just fine in kindergarten, especially with enough challenging activities and motivational tools.


We “took care of business” at the middle school. Megan is excited to have a top locker this year.


We went to Pine Lake Park to meet the new principal at the elementary school. Ben was only interested in throwing rocks in the lake and creating general mischief.


Our orthodontist hosted a patient fun day at an indoor trampoline park. The kids were in heaven, even Logan.image

Summer fun!



After our super busy month in South Carolina, things have been much more laid back around here. We have spent countless hours just playing in the neighborhood and at local parks. We have gotten very good at Frisbee throwing and scooter riding.

imageWe tried out an Adventure Playground on Mercer Island. The online description said, “Adventure Playground is a one of a kind play area that allows kids to create their own play adventure. Nestled in the wooded forest of Deane’s Children’s Park, children are provided toolboxes, various building supplies, safety items and the freedom to create build-it-yourself play zones with the guidance of Staff.” Unfortunately, even child in attendance was within arm’s reach of their parent/guardian, and there was no Staff guidance. I got a babysitter for Logan and took a book, expecting to sit under a tree while my kids joined with OTHER KIDS and did their thing. Nope. Ben tried to join other kids’ projects and was rebuffed. So sad.image

Holly had her twins, Boden Hal and Charlie West Richins. They were born with severe complications and it’s been a roller coaster for their family. We were able to visit the hospital while Jansen gave them a blessing. Boden had open heart surgery and sadly passed away at two weeks old. Charlie has also had open heart surgery and some other smaller surgeries and is fighting like a champ. I took this picture as we left the hospital. It was such a special experience to meet the boys and I hope to see Charlie again soon.


This is a combination of potty training and Sunday evening. Logan has been running around half naked the last month as we have tried to get him potty trained before preschool starts in mid-September. He knows what he’s doing but, like Megan, seems to enjoy the power struggle. He’ll stay dry and clean for a few days, then on day three he’ll have accidents all day long. My favorite quote from him was, “I can’t sit potty. I too little.”

Sundays are rough because we have afternoon church. Logan LOVES nursery but it wears him out. He comes home, we eat dinner, and if we turn our backs things like this happen…


Impromptu swim party at the Rasmussen’s apartment complex. Jennifer sent out an email and tons of people showed up. So fun.


Impromptu birthday party for Will Summers. The Summers live on a few acres and we love it so much. Sadly, every bit of Sammamish is getting bought up by developers and this little slice of heaven won’t be around too much longer.



Megan and I went to an Olive Garden tasting. They served us 11 courses and whatever we wanted off the menu and it was the perfect mommy daughter date!


Random hike through some woods near our house. When the kids are driving me crazy I find that they drive me slightly less crazy in the woods. We snack on blackberries and hope we don’t run into a bear.





Poppy got a job for a company that sells software to the Port of Seattle! He came to see us on the way to a trade show in Tacoma. It was fun to see him!image

Logan turns three!

Well, he’s done it. This kid turned three!


The day was very low-key, with consignment store presents and a boxed cake a la Megan, but you know he loved every second. His favorite gifts were a toy guitar and a doctor kit.

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Logan’s favorites:

  • Books: Berenstain Bears and Dr. Seuss
  • Park: He’s getting to be a good climber and makes me nervous on the tall slides
  • Toys: anything pretend play, especially food related, like kitchens and tea sets
  • Electronics: he loves Curious George and Peg + Cat on PBS, and is obsessed with “puppy game”, a little app on my phone
  • Foods: there’s not much he won’t eat, but his favorites include oatmeal, fruit, and hummus

He seems close to reading and is starting to sound out words. He’s gotten very verbal in the last six months or so, and can communicate easily, for better or worse. He has picked up all the bad words Ben likes to use.

We’re about half way through potty training, although he seems to have gotten his wires crossed and tends to walk outside to do his business instead of to the bathroom. It’s anyone’s guess whether he will be potty trained in time for his September 16 preschool start date. If he’s not, I think I’m ok with just waiting a year.