Monday, February 11, 2008

New Blog!

I've started a new blog - check it out at . Come back here to relive the fun of Indonesia.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Insights into Your Grandkids

And you know who you are,...

Jared is great in the kitchen. I left him one day in Indonesia to make Foccocia bread (with the nanny and cleaner watching, I didn't leave him alone, Mom.) I came back to the BEST Fococcia bread - it reminded me of some that I had from a little bakery in Pike's Place Market in Seattle. Really oily with lots of salt. Awesome.

Today, we are making pretzels for the SuperBowl party. Well, now they are pretzel sticks because I can't be bothered to make pretzel shapes for about 50 little peices of bread. Mine look ridiculous, but somehow Jared can get the bread to twist.

So now he's thought of a new vocation - you'd think it would be baker, right?

No, Jared wants to be a dog biscuit maker, or better yet, a dog treat taster. Go figure.

Zach? He made his robotic Tyrannasaurus Rex on a dark and stormy day. Which made him say, " I wish I was IGOR!"

Is this the fate of the second born? To always wish to be Igor and not Dr. Frankenstein?

Friday, February 01, 2008


Thank goodness it's February, that is.

January was quite the month. Moving, unpacking, sick kids and spending night after night waking up every couple of hours made it drag just a bit. I felt like every day was 72 hours. The cherry on top was my stinkin' car. It broke down the very day I finally went in to work for the first time. That means I showered, put on semi decent clothing, wore make up and even brushed my hair. I had a great friend come and babysit. I wasn't even stressed, I was looking forward to going out unencombered. My friend showed up on time, the B didn't mind me leaving and I had a good time in my meeting. I went out to the parking lot to go home, .. and the car wouldn't start.

Thankfully my other great friend was also at work and when I called in a panic she dashed straight out to help. She even lent me her car (I'd forgotten how fun it is to drive a stick!) By the time I had figured out how to get myself with the newborn down to my work parking lot to meet a tow truck driver, four days had passed. I was playing child schedule frogger; let's see, feed baby every twoish hours, kindergartner needs to be piicked up at 12, B needs a nap from 1 - 2:30, big boys come home at 3,... no, there just wasn't a good time.

The auto repair place I went to couldn't find a problem, and generously didn't charge me for figuring out there was nothing wrong (I've been charged $25 before because I was too stupid to figure out I needed to push a certain button to get the interior lights to come back on. One good reason not to let your one year old play in the car). Just told me what a great time he had driving the car. It is a nice car,.. when it runs. So, great friend grabbed my car and took it back to work for me to pick up later on.

This past Saturday we go down to pick up the car. I figure it'll be a quick pick up; so I don't shower, wear weird clothing choices (I was unpacking,..) don't worry about packing diapers and forget my phone. Of course.

Hubby leaves me with the four little kids to take home in the errant car while he dashes off to Home Depot to feed his 'homedepoholism'. (This is a very real side effect of redoing your home; women beware,..)

I start driving home,.. and the car stalls on the freeway. I make it to a side street where it completely shuts down,.. again. Go through my options, of which there are not many. Have no phone, so can't call anyone. Even if I go knock on a door, I am embarrassed to say I don't even KNOW any of my phone numbers. Not hubby's cell phone; not my new phone number, not even great friend's cell phone. I rely on my cell phone way too much.

Wait ten minutes; car starts. I gun it home, it's not far. Car peters out on the main boulevard. I see if I can possibly push it, but the street is too steep and the car starts to roll back the minute I put it in neutral. Thankfully not a minute passes and a man pulls over to help me. I'm sure he's still taking vicadin for the spasms his back is having after pushing that car with all of us in it.

We land in a Century 21 office and the realtor working is great. He lets us come in and use the phone. We take over a conference room and he pops popcorn and brings soda for the kids. I call a tow truck and taxi then realize I can call my parents' in law for hubby's phone number! Yay!

Call hubby and he's on his way to the next auto shop I choose thanks to the tow truck driver's input. Get all the kids in the car with hubby, put key in lock box and depart for home. Suddenly realize I have locked hubby's work truck keys in the broken down car. I will NEVER, EVER win.

So, I'm wondering if I'm a good candidate for Oprah's next mystical book club reading and online Webinar that promises that we make our own destiny, or something like that. Something very The Secretish. Which I think is laughable, because, yes, ridiculous things do seem to happen to me, but I think I'm handling it pretty well. I wouldn't call myself a victim. Of anything but my own ineptitude anyway.

So the nice highpoint of January was a great friend coming over for dinner. Now, I love it when single friends think they are funny and bring the boys a ridiculous amount of sugar, which this (so called) friend did. Not only that, but after they'd consumed an inordinate amount of Hershey's and Red Vines, he proceeded to tell them stories about how I had tattooes. To which my middle kid embarrassingly and very matter of factly announced that 'No, we've seen mom naked lots of times and she doesn't have any tatooes."

Just so you know, I can' t help it and I've imbibed in the sugar fest. Why don't I just buy my own candy bar? I think it's because if I steal my kids' candy it doesn't have any calories.

I took a bite out of the middle kid's hershey bar. He saw that and gasped, "You have a big mouth, mom!" (Yes, all the better to yell at you with, my dear,..) So, now I'm sticking to the red vines, so much harder to tell when you steal those, what with the 1000 or so that come in the vat that is sitting in my cupboard.

So, on with February and Valentine's Day! More kid's candy to steal!

What is Beautiful?

I love this picture; it's the kids in the neighborhood in Banda Aceh, where we lived. Our boys had a hot and cold relationship with the gang; one minute they are all riding bikes up and down the roads, finding fish in the gutters and then my blondies were getting kicked off the football field for being horrible players (they were) and the kids would shout the f word for no apparent reason, exept that the f word, like love, is an international language all in its own right.

Living over there where we were, on an average street in a country where very few foreigners have entered because of thirty years of civil war, and then couple that with strict Sharia laws and teachings, made me feel like I was performing in that episode of the Twilight Zone where the cute blond girl (not that I am any of these three things) lived on another planet and they all thought she was ugly. Beauty is definitely in the eye fo the beholder and people do tend to gravitate to others they percieve to be the same as themselves. So, we were definitely the outcasts. From trash being thrown in our backyard and kids perching on the concrete wall heckling my boys, to me in a grocery store having a small girl point and scream "Boule, boule, boule!" at me, we certainly felt like that girl in the Twilight Zone at times.

One of my favorite books as a teenager was "Black Like Me" by John Howard Griffin. Way before Tyra donned a fat suit, this journalist spent some days as a black man, all for the experience. Now I, and I hope, my kids, know what it's like to be the outsider, the one not like the other, to paraphrase the Electric Company. I experienced this in Liberia, West Africa as a teenager, as well, when my dad, also a civil engineer (do we marry our fathers, or what?) would hike out in the 'bush' to survey for roads and bridges on his off days from training the Liberian army (of which Charles Taylor was a member of at the time, but that's another already published blog). But there we were treated with a little reverence. Especially me, the blond girl, carried against my will across streams and granted special adoption into one village because of my hair, and then given a chicken as a gift. Seriously.

All in the eye of the beholder,...

Okay, gotta get 5 kids ready and get my butt to work for a couple of hours. Caio.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Open Letter to VTech Corporation

Dear President of VTech Corporation,

I recently purchased a cute little yellow toy computer for my two year old as a Christmas present. I had bought a similar toy computer made by your company for my oldest child about ten years ago. He loved it, and consequently, my newest two year old loves hers as well. It is similar to mine, which I use constantly during the day, but much more fun looking. Having their own computer gains me a little more time in the day to type something before a little finger pokes the mouse button or pushes the enter key and sets off a whole domino effect of things I really don't want happening on my computer. But I digress.

As much as I appreciate this new toy, I must say that I don't appreciate the Screaming Monkey Button. I realize VTech used to make computers a long, long time ago and perhaps you still house residual computer programmers who think it is humerous to house an 'Easter Egg' somewhere on the toy computer, much like a real one. I feel this might be the case with the Screaming Monkey Button and I would like to let you know that it is not appreciated. I can handle a screaming monkey sound one or two times. But to have it continue to scream FOREVER after the toddler has tired wtih pushing the button, and have NO SHUT OFF KEY except to turn off the whole toy computer is really not fun. At all.

So, Mr. President, I hope you will remove this Screaming Monkey Button feature from subsquent toy computers you produce; or bundle the toy with a couple airline size bottles of scotch to relieve the frazzled nerves of parents everywhere as they try to unwind at the end of their day. Instead of singing an annoying song over and over in their brains, they instead have to contend with the echo of the Screaming Monkey Button.

And to the programmer who thought that whole Screaming Monkey Button concept was 'humerous' and 'silly'; may you have triplets in your future. All with colic. At different times.

Yours truly,

Karen Richardson

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Everything I needed to know in life I learned as a newborn

Screaming your head off gives you serious gas.

Pink is the new black.

A smile will get you everwhere. And everything.

Living the motto "I'll sleep when I'm dead" might be fun for you, but it is really not for the people who love you.

It really is true bliss to eat whenever you want, whatever you want.

Farting and burping in public is only cute when you weigh about eight pounds.

Good things do come in small packages.

Simple things can make you happy. (e.g. staring at a fan for half an hour. Who knew?)

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Catch Up

Dear Diary,

Wish we could catch a break. Been awhile since I've written, so here is the Cliff Notes version of how life is with a newborn during the hoidays as you move from one continent to another,...

Dec 8 - Yay! Daddy made it home before the end of the pregnancy. Bummer is he is grumpy because he has to start prepping for the colonoscopy he has scheduled for Monday and subsequently can't eat for two days.

Dec 10 - Spend day up in Seattle making 8 year old's dream come true by taking him to cool 3D Imax Dinosaur movie. Lots of walking and then visiting Bro-in-law who had successful liver surgery to remove cancerous tumor and 40% of his liver. (He is doing very well by reports from home. Have to call you Michelle, I am SO sorry I'm so delinquent). Go to Mass with Rob's parents up in Seattle, then head home to get kids fed and in bed in time for school the next day.

But, wait! Is that a contraction I feel? Start timing them on the hour drive from Seattle back to Olympia. They start at 40 minutes steadily decreasing in time between until we arrive home. I get through making the kids sandwiches for dinner before I 'fess up that I am having contractions. They are about 5 minutes apart, but not too painful. But what do I know? Only my fifth kid. I think maybe it'll be easier and faster this time and we make a decision to go to the hospital at 9:30pm.

Go to hospital with hastily packed bag and hubby's gallon sized colon cleansing prep drink, only to let down entire nursing staff because I am totally relaxed and not about to blow out a kid like they had envisioned. Between my contractions and hubby running to the rest room (all part of the prep for that fun colonoscopy!) have lots going on. So much for visions of him lovingly holding my hand, he's got other business to tend to. Figures.

I can't help but keep thinking of an exit strategy. I'm supposed to get the kids to school and take hubby to his procedure at 8am the next morning.I haven't finished the grandparents' Christmas present (only a scrapbook detailing the past year,...) OR wrapping presents,.. I have 100 sugar cookies waiting to be frosted at home. An article and a press release to finish. I can't have the baby NOW! Besides, I really can't wait to sit by myself in his hospital waiting room for an hour and read a magazine - the only 'me' time I've had since June. I don't want to give that up! The baby can't take that away from me! So unfair.

Decide we are staying for the long haul and hubby sacks out on the couch as best he can with legs dangling over the arm and scraping the floor. As anticipated my contractions peter out about 3 am. Hubby departs at 6 am to go to his procedure. My understanding doctor not only allows me to eat breakfast, but will wait until hubby is on his way back from his procedure (30 miles away) and lucid before starting my pitocin. Spend rest of morning prowling the hallways as the nurses cattle prod me out of bed in hopes of starting things naturally. Hubby calls at 11:30 and we are off to the races!

After an entirely icky labor, Sophia is delivered around 5:30pm.

She screams bloody murder the entire night prompting hubby and me to ask the powers that be why we were given the advanced model of baby when clearly, even after four precious ones, we still only rate the beginner version.

Dec 13 - 16 - The baby decides she doesn't like the boobs and also doesn't want to poop. Spend many late night hours trying to get 7 pounds of spit fire to eat the way God intended. This requires two adults. Take her back to see doc who schedules lactation consultant to help with the issue.

Dec 17 - Poop! Never thought I'd be so happy to see poop in my life. Perhaps I'm not starving the baby like I'd thought.

Dec 18 - Find out that although the little stinker is eating, she needs to eat MORE. Obviously can't be my kid, how could I have a kid who doesn't want to eat? The beginnings of feeding tubes, pumps and supplement bottles. Barely enough time left over after nursing, pumping and bottle feeding to breathe.

Dec 19 - 21 - A blur of the above.

Dec 22 - We baptize the little girl. Very nice ceremony and family and friends attended. My dreams of making party food and decorations never come to fruition. Thank goodness for Costco.

Dec 24 - Christmas Eve! Start the day by dowsing the B and the 8 year old with Tylenol; they both are sporting fevers. Go to Tacoma for 5pm Vigil Mass with Rob's family. 8 year old has been feeling funky all day. By the time twe get to Grandma aand Grandpa's house 8 year old is begging us to take him to the doctor. Bad sign that he'd rather to seek medical attention than open presents. Leave at 10:30 pm, race other kids in beds and hubby takes 8 year old to urgent care. 1 am they call; he's got the croup, but after a breathing treatment all is well. I've been wrapping presents between nursings, but hubby is up unitl 4:30am finishing up.

Dec 25 - Christmas! SSSSooooo incredibly tired. Kids happy little clams; got everything put together and wrapped. Family comes over starting at 2pm. I change baby's diaper and find she has a diaper rash. I decide she's too young to have a rash and this would never have happened if I was a good mother, have complete meltdown.

Dec 26 - Baby hasn't pooped again, but at doc. visit to get the all clear to cross state lines, I'm told not to freak out quite so much. Baby is looking good.

Dec 27 - finish packing and wedging everything into the U Haul trailer at 1:30 am. Hubby is truly a miracle worker.

Dec 28 - Leave in the morning. Honestly takes 30 minutes to get out of the vehicle every time we stop, we are packed so tight. Stop at first hotel. Baby finally poops,... enough for the last 2 weeks.

Dec 29 - Stay at awesome friend's house in Fresno; they even cook us an amazing Prime Rib dinner they were gracious enough to keep until 9 pm when we arrived. Those are true friends, by the way. Not only did they let us stay at their house knowing we had five kids, but even after hubby called them in route, "By the way, did I tell you we have a dog?...."

Dec 30 - Touch down! Get to house at 7pmish. Woops, don't have a key. Thankfully awesome friend Wendy has one and races over. Not only does she let us into our house, she and her husband installed a toilet for us. That is another sign of a true friend. : ) Have had house totally redone inside as monster tenants destroyed everything inside. Many boxes, but mattresses are on the floors, kitchen is pretty much unpacked and we have a toilet!!!

Dec 31 - Ready to make the house a home, but 10 year old comes down with,.. croup. Spend next six hours in waiting area of urgent care clinic with him and the newborn. By the time we get to the doctor am in tears completely convinced baby will die of some horrible disease. Tells me to keep on nursing. Thankfully it seems to be working.

Jan 1 - Ahhhh, the beginnings of a new year. My motto for the year? 'It's bound to get better because it can't get any worse.' Honestly, we are doing well, are treating unpacking like a hobby and are so happy to be back in the swing of things in Yucaipa.

Friday, January 18, 2008

The B is 2!

If I could find either my digital camera or the USB cable to take the pictures from the camera to the computer, I could show you a picture of the happy little girl on her birthday. But that request is not to be today. I could also show you the marginally deranged Elmo cake I decorated for her. The ugly cakes will perservere! After packing up the two girls and making my 'might as well be going to Mars, that's how difficult it is to do' trip to the grocery store and subsequently loosing Sabrina at the grocery store for a short while (thank God for other mothers who understand and don't judge), we made it back with everything,.. BUT the cake mix. I debated going another route, but then I remembered that 8 year old had an Elmo cake when he was 2 and 6 year old had a dump truck cake when he was 2, and 11 year old had a carrot cake made from scratch (only because we lived in Egypt and that's the only way to do it) when he was 2. So, since I found the Elmo cake pan (AND the Elmo plastic table cover, both still in existance after six years and moves to three difference continents) I HAD to use them. Don't have a measuring cup or the correct decorating tips, although I DO have the jello brain mold I use at Halloween. That sure comes in handy,... No, I didn't use the jello mold in the makings of the Elmo cake, just pointing out what fun it is to unpack moving boxes. Very similar to opening presents, but nothing is shiny and new.

But I did my best. And I showed the cake to B after I'd decorated it, asking her if she knew who it was and she said 'Momo.' (2year speak for Elmo) so I count this cake as a success.

Grandpa and Grandma got her a cool light up princess pink and purple scooter that she loves, but having inherited my genes, can't comprehend how to make it move. No fear, as she is the queen of the house and has three older brothers to push her around as she screams directions. Very similar to her mother, indeed.

Gotta get birthday girl to bed. I am now nursing a migraine, probably from massive frosting consumption.