Ben’s First Game Day

Ben woke up Wednesday morning and said, “I have a funny feeling in my stomach. It’s about my baseball game.” I told him, “That feeling is called Game Day!” Ben was so excited he wore his uniform to school and invited his teacher to the game (she couldn’t make it). The weather was perfect.

Ben’s team batted first, and he hit a rocket on his first swing. He ran to second without a thought. Unfortunately, the coaches made him go back to first. In fact, they only let each kid advance one base on each hit. We both thought it was lame. He just wanted to run. After running multiple bases on each hit and being sent back each time, he finally just strolled into home in slow, deliberate steps.

His first defensive position was first base. He was quick enough to get multiple kids out (and yell, “You’re out!”), but every time he did, someone said, “Oh no, they’re safe.” Ben was thoroughly confused and frustrated. He was also throwing rockets back home every time he needed to get the ball back, and they told him he was throwing too hard and made him roll the ball underhand back home.

Finally, after 20 minutes of that, right before the end of the first inning, he walked off the field and good naturedly said, “I’m done. That was a fun first game.”

I managed to convince him to take his second inning at-bat, but he would not go back into the field at the bottom of the second. It was 6:15, Logan was being awful, and we left.

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Spring Break

Just six weeks after our mid-winter break, we have spring break. You know I love to travel, and would have liked to join all the families who flew away to warmer or more exotic locations, but I think we made the best of our family time, Seattle weather and all. There was some boredom. But I’m learning to embrace it. Boredom is healthy. Boredom lets us think, and gives us time to create. There were walks around the neighborhood. A visit to a park with a huge, empty soccer field. A trip to Ballard to buy a keyboard off craigslist, followed by a stop at the Locks to see the ships. Our very first Chick-Fil-A opened Thursday, and I would like to say we visited, but after circling the insane crowds and lines of people and cars for 10 minutes or so and getting rude looks from multiple police directing traffic, I gave up and we got hot dogs and ice cream from Costco. Gavin cried. After a few days of sunshine, the rain moved in Friday, but that didn’t stop Christopher from taking the three bigs camping. Logan and I stayed warm, slept well, and I cleaned the whole house AND learned the basic operation of my new keyboard. It’s amazing what I can accomplish with 75% fewer children. I attended a funeral Saturday afternoon for a friend’s husband. Cancer sucks. 56 years old. The eulogy was funny and sweet, though, and the whole funeral was a beautiful tribute. Afterwards Christopher and I headed to Seattle to meet with a couple he knows professionally who wanted to get together. It was an interesting and fun few hours we spent with them, and they LOVE Christopher. I think we made some new friends.

First day of shorts weather. March 26!

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Ben claimed he was bored. I have since donated 1/3 of the toys in this playroom, and Ben spent a good hour playing this afternoon. Less is more!

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Double date with Holly and Jan

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Spring break antics

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Ballard Locks

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Camping with Dad

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Ben’s first game of Settlers of Catan. He has the Richins competitive spirit and the Carroll poker face. Dangerous combination!

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Easter 2015

We had a quiet, peaceful Easter. The weather was decent and we listened to General Conference. We dyed eggs and the Easter bunny visited. We discussed the last week in the Savior’s life: Good Friday, Passover, and his death and resurrection. I tried to make things special for the kids, and at the same time not focus too much on candy or clothes. I find that my life, and holidays especially, don’t look like I pictured them before I became a mother, but that’s okay. I missed my family a lot. I made a yummy ham, potato salad, even a banana pudding–but it wasn’t the same without my mom and grandma, and it definitely didn’t taste the same, no matter how many fancy local ingredients I bought or Paula Deen recipes I googled.

Easter afternoon I spent some time volunteering at the emergency foster care sanctuary, where I helped take care of… three brothers! The baby was just over a year and the snuggliest thing I had ever seen. The sanctuary employee was surprised when he came right to me, and didn’t let go the four hours I was there. He cried when I had to hand him over and go back to my babies. It was the first baby I had loved on at the sanctuary (the other kids have been school-age), and I could have taken him home right then and there. His name did end with an “n”, so he would have fit right in. Hopefully things work out okay with him and his six older siblings. I believe that in the end, everything will work out okay for everybody. But in the meantime, we can do everything we can to make life easier for those around us, here and now.

Megan gave a beautiful talk in Sacrament Meeting today about the sacrifice of the son of God. My favorite part was when she talked about “Christ’s example of kindness, love, compassion, and humility.” It was her first talk in Sacrament Meeting, and she did great.

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Logan’s Tonsillectomy

I knew Logan’s tonsillectomy would be bad. I thought I was prepared. I stocked the house with Pedialyte, popsicles, applesauce, and ice cream. I made homemade chocolate pudding and 100% juice gelatin. I cleared the calendar for two weeks.

Pre-surgery went smoothly. Everyone was calm, especially Logan.

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Half an hour later, we met him in recovery. He was already screaming. If I could do it over again, I would have insisted they give him stronger pain medication. His IV was still in and all they had given him was Tylenol. I just thought it would take a while for the anesthesia to wear off, and they let us go almost immediately, before he had stopped crying or taken a drink. When he continued to cry all the way home and for hours after we got home, I realized he was in a lot of pain.

After getting a dose of Motrin in him, he calmed down. He ate and drank right away. Popsicles, applesauce. I thought we’d have no problems. Then the first night happened and it was miserable. Every day and night got progressively worse. He ate/drank little on day 2, and nothing on day 3 and 4. Worse, he started spitting out his medicine and any liquids we tried to get in him.

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Finally, on Saturday, he was so miserable and listless, and hadn’t been drinking or peeing. I wanted to just take him to urgent care for fluids, but my friend recommended we go straight to Children’s ER. They tanked him up with fluids and IV meds (morphine and toradol), and after about six hours of that, he gingerly ate some applesauce and drank some melted popsicle. By then, it was so late, and I worried he would regress as soon as we got home, so they decided to keep him overnight.

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The whole next day he refused to eat or drink, including any oral medication we tried to give him, so they kept him a second night. Finally, after the third full day, he was completely off IV medications. He was still not eating or drinking, and spitting out most of his medications, but they had unhooked him from the IV. I was administering all his oral medications. I was tired, and they weren’t doing much. I asked them to give him a bolus of fluid, write me a prescription for Tylenol suppositories, and discharge him. We left around 10 p.m. Monday night.

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Knowing that he was fully hydrated again gave me peace of mind. He was still in quite a bit of pain but I was less stressed, especially since I had the suppositories. Whenever he was screaming in pain, refusing to take the medicine, I could just say, “You can have the medicine in your mouth or bottom.” You know he was in exceptional pain when he requested the latter option. It was nice to be home, though. The big kids, especially Ben, gave him lots of love.

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After a few more days at home, he slowly started eating and drinking again. I’m surprised, though, that the pain lingers. Today, a full twelve days after surgery, he still woke up constantly during the night, and screaming in the morning. He refused to take oral medication at 9 a.m. and chose the suppository option instead. After that kicked in, though, he ate a bowl of oatmeal and sipped juice, so nothing to worry about. It’s just sad he’s still hurting. I finally got a glimpse of his throat for the first time after surgery. It looks beautiful, as far as a wound goes. Nice and smooth and clean. It’s red and raw, though, so no wonder it’s still hurting him. Poor, poor guy. However, when I listen to this pre-surgery video, and remember all the painful ear infections, I know it was the right call.

Thankfully, Christopher was able to work from home during this entire period. Also, the weather was absolutely gorgeous, which meant the big kids could be outside when they weren’t in school. Both blessings have made the experience bearable.

We also had family and friends help. Shay brought me a bag to the hospital so I could change and shower. I was sticky from all the medicine Logan had been spitting at me. Christopher offered to trade me but I just told him to hold down the fort. It was good for the big kids to have some Daddy time. My friend Jess brought us dinner and my visiting teacher Suzy brought me probably $100 in groceries from Costco, including two rotisserie chickens and more popsicles, applesauce, and yogurt. That was wonderful.

Gym and Sleep

Update on the gym situation. I was so bummed my gym was closing until I learned that my membership was automatically transferred to a new gym. It’s a slightly longer drive, but it is SO nice. Les Mills classes, beautiful new equipment, great childcare, racquetball courts, a cardio theater (like an actual movie theater with treadmills and ellipticals). They even have a pool, and I took the kids swimming yesterday. They are keeping my rate at $10/month, what I was paying for the old, tiny gym, for at least six months. I’ll take it!

We had a low-key week and weekend. We are definitely gearing up for Logan’s surgery on Tuesday. I can’t wait for him to get some better quality sleep. Isn’t sleep so important? If you’re not getting it, forget about everything else.

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Back to the Grind and Amara Luncheon

Ben woke me up before 7 a.m. with a curt, “I’m not going to school this morning, and you can’t make me.” I knew he was just taking the hard line in initial Monday morning negotiations so I offered him a Lego Star Wars t-shirt (from the hand-me-downs we got last week). He accepted and added homemade muffins to his list of demands. I happily complied and the rest of the morning went smoothly. After the boys were off (Megan was long gone), I exercised a bit (no time for the gym), cleaned up, and got pretty for a fundraiser luncheon for Amara, the foster/adoption agency I have been volunteering for. I went with Shay and my friend Jeannie, who has adopted three kids from foster care. It was a nice afternoon.

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Christopher was home by the time I got back at two. He was exhausted but gave us hugs and presents (when Gavin and Ben got home at four). Logan, of course, started running a fever this evening. Probably another ear infection. His tonsil/adenoid/ear tube surgery cannot come quickly enough. Poor kid.

Staycation Days 6 and 7

Saturday morning I scurried around the house cleaning up the disaster that Monday through Friday had caused. I vacuumed downstairs and scrubbed the bathrooms, then took Ben and Logan with me to the gym, leaving Megan and Gavin with instructions to clean the upstairs, especially the playroom. They did a great job, and I picked up Eliza on the way home. She babysat the boys so I could take Megan on her date. We ate lunch at a fun little cafe on Front Street in Issaquah. The chef, Edna, came out and chatted with us and made us some delicious food. We walked around Front Street for a little while, stopping in the music store (I didn’t want to leave), the glass blowing store (Megan didn’t want to leave), and the frozen yogurt place. For once, I didn’t get a frozen yogurt, instead watching Megan enjoy hers. Then we headed home.

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I collected Logan and Eliza and dropped her off on the way to a birthday party for Logan’s friend Margot. He had a blast running around Little Gym, although a few times I could tell he was exhausted. This no-nap thing is tough.

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When we got home, it was once again time for baths, dinner, and bed!

Sunday morning we had Stake Conference at 10, which was nice because Logan was still snuggling with me in my bed at 8:40. Finally we got up and out the door. I left Ben and Logan at Shay’s with my cousin Kiersten and her two little boys, and Megan, Gavin, and I headed to the church building to watch Stake Conference. We had an apostle, Elder Tom Perry, visiting, so everyone was pretty excited to hear his wisdom. He talked a lot about the importance of families, about teaching your children and not relying on school (regular or Sunday) to educate your kids. He said his father sold the family farm to attend law school, but he still wanted his children to learn how to work hard, so he bought them a jersey cow. Elder Perry hated that cow and it’s demanding milking schedule, but he was grateful for work ethic he developed. We need to figure out what our “cow” is going to be.

After church we drove to Seattle for lunch with Holly and Jansen. I took dessert, caramel corn and brownies. The kids polished off the caramel corn in the backyard, where it was sunny and almost warm.

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Staycation Days 4 and 5: Stir Crazy and Reptile Zoo

On Thursday we stayed home. And everyone went a bit crazy. So crazy we were eating dinner at 4:30 and taking bubble baths by five.

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After dinner, I decided I would take each kid (except Logan, because he gets plenty of one-on-one time right now) on a date, starting Thursday night with Ben. I took him to Yo Plateau (yogurt place #3 of the week), Trader Joe’s, and the library. It’s amazing how incredibly sweet Ben is when you get him all alone. He must crave attention, because he was so fun to be with for an hour on our own. It was lightly raining, and he was very concerned I didn’t have a hood on my jacket. “It’s because I care of you,” he told me. “I care about you, too,” I replied.

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Friday we headed to rural Monroe to the Reptile Zoo. My trekaroo editor contacted me and asked if I wanted to go. I was later contacted by a PR person who was contracted to the Snohomish County Tourism Department. She was so excited for me to write a review so she could “justify her existence to Snohomish County.” It was pretty funny. At any rate, a free field trip for us!

I knew of all the kids, Megan would love it the most. She has loved creepy crawlies her whole life. The boys had a great time, too. Gavin did not even want to leave the house. He is my homebody, and he crawled back into bed with a large book and insisted he was staying home. I hid the remote, his DS, and the computer mouse and told him he was welcome to stay, but he wouldn’t have access to electronics while we were gone. He begrudgingly got in the car, and I think he had fun in spite of himself.

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Tonight it was Gavin’s turn to go on a date. He wanted to go to a movie but I really didn’t want to see Paddington, the only decent-looking kids’ movie out, so I convinced him to go to dinner with me instead. He wanted sushi and I asked if dumplings were ok. I took him to the same place Christopher took me Valentine’s Day, and it was delicious. I let Gavin order a few things, and he wanted pork potstickers and sesame oil radish. It was pretty darn good. Gavin loved it. They forgot to put in our last order and we sat there for a bit at the end. I didn’t mind at all, but they insisted on giving us 20% off the bill. We even got frozen yogurt on the way home (place #4).

Gavin doesn’t talk much. Like Christopher, he’s perfectly happy with silence and doesn’t need to express his every thought out loud (like me, Megan, and Ben). There was little conversation, especially on the way home. But I think I know how Gavin felt about the evening, when just before we pulled into the driveway, he quietly said, “Sigh of contentment.”

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Staycation Day 3: Home

After two days of big adventures, everyone was pretty tired. Logan and I went to the gym in the morning. We were greeted by signs on the doors saying, “The gym is closing at the end of the month…” I am so bummed! But I suppose it’s probably my fault. You see, I have been trying to exercise regularly for 12 years. Before I got married, I took two semesters of weight training at BYU and loved being strong, fit, and healthy. Then I started having babies. I couldn’t work out while I was pregnant because of preterm labor. I couldn’t work out while I was nursing because I’d get mastitis. At various times, I joined gyms and started to exercise again. The YMCA down in Maple Valley. Gold’s in Charlottesville. The YMCA again in Atlanta. But it never stuck, because we were always moving, or I was nursing, or Ben. I waited patiently for Benny to start kindergarten, because he didn’t function well in a gym nursery. Sure, he’d do fine for a time or two while the toys were new, but once he figured out all he had to do was pitch a fit to get me back in there, it was all over. I tried doing free Zumba at the church but Logan kept demanding my attention. I needed childcare so I could work up a sweat without constantly pausing.

And finally, three months ago, I found the perfect fit. A small, cheap gym with decent childcare. We had the Monday, Wednesday, Friday routine down pat. I was dropping Logan off, doing 30 minutes on the elliptical, 15 minutes core, 15 minutes arms. I was happy, Logan was happy. So of course they are closing in 10 days. And the next cheapest gym is three times as expensive and you have to reserve a spot in the nursery because it fills up so fast.

First world problems, I know. Bummer for me, even worse for the employees who just found out today they only have a week and a half to find a new job!

Logan and I headed home. I took a shower, we made lunch and played outside for a bit. It was cloudier and chillier than the past two days. Logan took a nap and the big kids played Minecraft while I read.

I decided we would go out to dinner to give me a break at least once during our staycation. It was “kids eat free” at Pallino. Megan got a panini, I got a salad, and Gavin and Ben got their free kids’ meals, meatballs for Gavin and pizza for Ben. The kids had also brought some of their birthday money that was burning a hole in their pockets. Gavin wanted a DS game, Ben wanted mints and gum, and Megan just wanted to wander around Michael’s for a bit. Well, as we were leaving, I noticed Ben had a full fountain drink in his hand. I had told him earlier that we were only getting water and he had snuck a bit of fruit punch (and I had filled up the rest of the cup with water). Now that he had more than just a squirt, I felt obligated to set an example of honesty, so I dumped out the fruit punch (the last thing he needs is sugar and Red 40), marched him up to the front, and told him he was paying for that drink with his birthday money.

Of course, hysteria ensued. He screamed, “But she told me I could have a drink!” I looked at her skeptically, “You did?” Apparently she had given him a cup when he asked for one, but “thought he was just getting water.” Fail by her. Fail by me. At any rate, the boy was inconsolable. He screamed that I had never TOLD him the drinks cost money (even though I told him he could only have water). He screamed that I wasted money (well, that was true. I did dump the drink.)

Our after-dinner shopping plans were abruptly cancelled. When the other three kids started getting upset (because of Ben’s screaming, not the shopping), I explained that Ben was overwhelmed by his emotions, or flooded, and we just needed to get him home and in the bed. I did let Megan and Gavin run into GameStop on the way home.

Sweet Ben. He had a quick bath and I snuggled him in his blanket sleeper and he crawled into bed and was asleep before I walked out. It was 7:30. I’m glad I didn’t react when he had his freak out. Other than to take a brief video, because y’all need to know it was loud in that car. Hysterical Ben would be GREAT in a horror film.

Staycation Day 2: Seward Park

The day started a bit like Christmas. A military family who is moving to Italy this summer is decluttering, and they have an 11-year-old boy. There was a garbage bag on our front porch filled with Pokemon cards, Nerf guns, and Star Wars t-shirts. After much excitement and a few arguments, the loot was distributed and everyone was happy with their new stuff.

We then headed to Seattle Children’s Hospital clinic, general surgery. Christopher thought Ben might have a hernia (his brother had one as a kid), and the pediatrician thought there was something abnormal about his belly button at the checkup. I wasn’t worried, so I didn’t make the appointment, but when Children’s actually called me and said, “Hey, we have an appointment during break” I just said yes because it was basically effortless. And they have a sibling playroom. Not unexpectedly, the surgeon walked in, looked at Ben for 15 seconds and pronounced him just fine. My pediatrician is either incredibly thorough, worried about a lawsuit if she misses something, or getting kickbacks from the specialists. Whatever it is, I’m glad I have Massachusetts insurance again.

We left Bellevue and headed across the bridge to Seward Park. The park is a peninsula that sticks out in the middle of Lake Washington, with a cool playground and a bike path that goes four miles around the peninsula. We didn’t bike the entire four miles, but we biked a bit, stopped to throw rocks. Bike some more, stopped to through rocks. And had a lot of fun on the playground. Once again, the secret to success was packing tons of food. My kids are always happy if there’s lots to eat. And rocks. Of course, we had to get frozen yogurt again on the way home. We chose another random place (TCBY this time) and they were, again, having a special.

Logan fell asleep before we got home, and while he was napping the kids were outside again. It was almost 60 degrees. I chatted with my mom and made dinner. In the evening, the kids were playing Minecraft and we were out of milk, so I said, “I’m going to the grocery store.” Logan came running. It was a fun trip. Of course he was incredibly well behaved, as kids usually are during unusual activities. In this case, going to the grocery store at 8 p.m. was unusual. I only needed milk and bread but I had a coupon for $10 off $100. I decided to see how close I could get to $100. I threw in some bacon and chicken for the freezer. I bought some juice and gelatin for Logan’s upcoming tonsil surgery. Tillamook yogurt and San Marzano tomatoes were on sale, so I stocked up. When I thought I had enough, I headed to checkout, and the total came to $100.22. I was inordinately excited about that fact.

The kids all ate a yogurt for a bedtime snack and went to bed without a fuss. I binge-watched British period drama before bed and drank tea like a true Anglophile.

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