Wednesday, August 3, 2011

We Are HERE!

Goodbye, Utah!

Hello, Arizona!

We've arrived in Yuma! I've been busy with all the little things that happen when you move to a new state. Here are me and Avery outside our house -- Look, GRASS!!!

It has grass in the backyard too! See below:

The temperature is soooo blasted hot outside that this is how Avery spends her days back there if she absolutely has to go out! The day we moved in, it was 118 degrees. Yesterday it was like 115, and I had already promised Avery that we would play outside before I had found out what the temperature was going to be. I was outside with her under our covered patio for over an hour. I was completely soaked in sweat when I came back in. I was tempted several times to jump in Avery's kiddie pool with all my clothes on!

I really like it here in Yuma. It's only 2 1/2 hours from San Diego, too. Even though the population (during the summer) is 140,000, it feels more like 60,000. It's a really spread-out city. In "downtown" Yuma, besides the tons of hotels, there aren't any highrise buildings, just 70-year old two or three-story brick ones. I really like the small-town feel. In the winter, all the snowbirds come from out of state and the population more than doubles to grow to more than 300,000! People are always talking bad about the snowbirds. It's kind of a funny culture down here. We've been warned to not go to the stores during the day hours in the winter because every store is just packed with old people. That means we'll have to go either really early before they get up, or really late, after they're in bed. They have golf courses here that only cost $5 for nine holes of golf. That'd be fun to do if Nathan and I knew how to golf. :) There is a family we met here who invited us golfing, which will be fun when we eventually go!

I also like the mountains here. I was expecting it to be a very flat desert, but we live really close to the mountains, on the east of Yuma. They aren't the pretty type of mountains like we had in Utah, but they'll do!

There's also an Air Force base here, which is really, really cool. We always see fighter jets overhead and when we're driving close to the base, we see them taking off and landing all the time. We also see some really crazy-looking army Hummer-looking vehicles driving on the roads in Yuma. It all makes me feel very patriotic. You see servicemen in their camo all the time, too. We ate dinner at the base the first night I was here at our friends' house. It was pretty fun to go in and see what it was like.

This is a regular sight in the skies. Sure beats commercial airliners!

Sam is HUGE! I can't be sure, but he seems much fatter than Avery was at this age. Here he is just hanging out with our kitchen appliances.

About 3 weeks ago, I lost my wallet. Mind you, this was before we registered our 2 cars and before I had gotten an AZ driver's license. I assumed it would show up somewhere, but after two weeks of scouring the house, it was nowhere to be found. That meant that poor Nathan had to do all the registering of the vehicles on top of getting a hold of his new job (which he absolutely LOVES). And, in order to get a driver's license here, you have to show them your previous DL from the state you came from. Oops. So I ended up having to take the written exam and take the road test in order to get a license. It was strangely nostalgic of my time in Driver's Ed over a decade ago. Luckily this time, it was much less stressful. I aced the 30-question written exam (ooooh yeah!).

For the driver's test, I almost caught myself going into "auto-pilot mode" and breaking little rules like stopping before the white line at a stop sign in a parking lot, and not turning my turn signal on soon enough before a lane change or a turn. But, luckily I passed that, too. That was a relief because I had been driving without a DL for over 2 weeks. Oh, and in AZ, they only make you have license plates on the back of your car. There's your little interesting fact for the day.

Because we don't have any lawn care equipment here, I posted an ad on Craigslist to barter for someone to come mow our lawn. I offered to design their business cards. I got a call and designed this guy's business cards for his two companies. It was really fun to do these ones.

Our friends Joe & Emily actually moved to Yuma a year before we did, so it was a nice surprise when we found out that we'd be going there, too. Nathan grew up with Emily, and when we got married, we hung out a lot together at BYU for some fun couples' game nights.

When we moved here, we hung out for yet another game night and made a cactus cake in honor of Yuma! The "arms" were made of Twinkies and the needles are brown sprinkles. It was just the sugar rush that I needed before going to bed! That cake with the Bunny Tracks ice cream was the best dessert I'd had in a while. :)

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Sam the Manly Man & Avery is 2!

The big 2! I can't believe how big she is! She is becoming the sweetest little girl. So kind and caring. The only time she throws big tantrums is when we tell her to hop in bed, and she hasn't given Sammy a kiss goodnight yet. She always smothers him with love (a.k.a. her blankie) and tries to share her favorite foods (pretzels and goldfish) with him.

Sam has started smiling and cooing. I love it and it sure makes motherhood much more rewarding when they smile! I'm not sure how to shorten this video, but the good parts are starting at :45, and at 1:48 is the nice surprise. I would've stopped it at 2:35 if I'd known how to edit videos.

At the hospital, we were still trying to decide on a name for Sam. The staff always made signs to put on the babies' little beds, so Nathan told the hospital staff that we were going to name him "Wernicke." He told them he was kidding, but it kinda became this joke between them and us. Well, I went to visit Sam in the nursery and was admiring him, and the other cute boys on both sides of him with adorable names: Ethan and Joseph. Then, I looked at his big name tag that the nurses had made: Wernicke. After seeing that, I quickly became very embarrassed, and hoped that the two dads standing in front of little Ethan and Joseph weren't paying attention to Sam's name tag. :)

Sam has started to recognize his fist, and also scratches his face much less than before.

Sam is a manly man, as you can see above. As I was changing his outfit one day, I asked Nathan to get my hairbrush. The rest is self-explanatory. I couldn't resist. :) Hehehe.

Nathan took Avery to a cemetery for Memorial Day. There was a 21-rifle salute, which fascinated her (aside from the initial shock of the first loud gunshot). She also "said" the pledge-of-allegiance for the first time, which meant saying the last word of each phrase as Nathan whispered it to her in advance. :)

Daddy's girl on Sam's blessing day (at least I think it was on Sam's blessing day)!

In-N-Out for Sarah's (Nathan's sister) graduation. Avery had fun with the hat.

This is our last interfaith dialogue while we live in Utah. It was with Asuza Pacific from Southern California. I wasn't able to participate in this one because Sam was only 2 weeks old, and I was very, very tired. I went to bed at like 7 pm that night and let Nathan play host -- which he did a very good job at. He even handled the emergency we-ran-out-of-pizzas situation while being able to join different discussion groups throughout the evening.

Avery's version of the Hokey Pokey.

Avery and Nathan went swimming. It had been over a year since Avery went swimming last, but she seemed to remember he floaty penguin when I got it out. She loved it! It took her awhile to warm up to the idea of getting her hair wet, but after Nathan helped her dip her head in a few times, that's all she wanted to do!

To all you moms out there, I walked into my room last month to find this:

I'll eventurally remove these three pics from the blog, so no one can blackmail her in the future. I assume only the moms who read this blog will know what she's doing, right? :)

Avery blew out one candle on her own. Grandma tried to help. Thank goodness grandpa came to the rescue! :)

Avery loves to play in the dryer.

Nathan's school went fishing on a cold morning in May, so I got to take Sam and Avery along. Last year, Avery was afraid of the fishies. This year she warmed up to them and was intrigued by the men at the table who were gutting the fish. She kept saying, "Fish cut, blood." It was great to see how she didn't grossed out by any of it.

We're moving to Arizona at the end of June, and we found a great rental house with plenty of bedrooms . It even has a backyard (and front yard) with grass in it -- rare for Yuma. We're sad to leave the rain, mountains, and greenery of Utah, but we're excited to meet new people and for Nathan to start a new job. This will probably be my last post for awhile, seeing as things are crazy hectic right now in preparing for the move.

Until Arizona!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Happy Easter!

Here's a little video I made to put to a song I wrote while I was in the MTC called He's Been There. I'm grateful for my Savior and all he has done for me...and in spite of me!

He's Been There

Here's the story that inspired me to write the lyrics to "He's Been There." I was called in January 2005 to the Belgium Brussels/Netherlands mission, and reported then to the MTC. I was struggling at the time with learning Dutch, and sometimes felt like I didn't deserve help learning the language because I wasn't the perfect missionary. I wrote the lyrics based on Chieko Okazaki's quote (at the bottom of this post) that I got in my Young Women class when I was about 14...and based on my experience in the MTC. This is one of the only times that I felt like the lyrics came simply and powerfully to me.

I wrote the music back in 2004 when I was at BYU-Idaho for an Old Testament class project (originally the lyrics were in narrative form about people in the Old Testament-- Eve, Noah, Joseph, etc. It was pretty dorky sounding!), and the current lyrics when I was in the MTC back in January of 2005, and it's funny how naturally the lyrics came. I have written music my whole life, and when I attempt to write lyrics, I fall flat on my face (figuratively speaking, of course :-P ). Writing music has always come naturally, but lyric-writing in particular has never been my forte (Get it? "Forte?" Haha!). It was definitely a gift.

The quote has made me think a lot my view of the atonement ever since. I love it. I feel like it conveys a powerful message. We usually summarize the atonement by saying, "We are imperfect, so we need a Savior." or "Imperfect people need a Savior." So I love how Chieko Okazaki takes a different approach by stating its opposite: "Perfect people do not need a Savior." Isn't it funny how a restatement of a phrase we've heard a million times makes us rethink things? I love it!

That's what I hope to get across with this song: the Atonement works for you on a personal level because we wouldn't need Him if we were perfect! I wanted to convey this in the video by showing the empty tomb during the line "He is there" to perhaps show the irony in it all: that it is because He's actually not there in His tomb, that He can be there for us now. I included a couple of paintings in the slideshow showing the sacrament because I wanted to show that through partaking of the sacrament, "He is there" for us -- meaning His spiritual presence (the Holy Ghost) -- until one day we gain access to his temporal presence and can see him face to face ("at last I'll see Him face to face, this ransomed child to claim").

Chieko N. Okazaki, Lighten Up!, pp. 174-175:

"We know that on some level Jesus experienced the totality of mortal existence in Gethsemane. It's our faith that he experienced everything - absolutely everything. Sometimes we don't think through the implications of that belief. We talk in great generalities about the sins of all humankind, about the suffering of the entire human family. But we don't experience pain in generalities. We experience it individually. That mean Jesus knows what it felt like when your mother died of cancer - how it was for your mother, how it still is for you. He knows what it felt like to lose the student body election. He knows that moment when the brakes locked, and the car started to skid. He experienced the slave ship sailing from Ghana toward Virginia. He experienced napalm in Vietnam. He knows about drug addiction and alcoholism.

"There is nothing you have experienced as a woman that he does not also know and recognize. On a profound level, he understands about pregnancy and giving birth. He knows about PMS and cramps and menopause. He understands about rape and infertility and abortion.

"His last recorded words to his disciples were, "And, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world." (Matthew 28:20.) What does that mean? It means he understands your mother-pain when your five-year-old leaves for kindergarten, when a bully picks on your fifth-grader, when your daughter calls to say that the new baby has Down's syndrome. He knows your mother-rage when a trusted babysitter sexually abuses your two-year-old, when someone gives your thirteen-year-old drugs, when someone seduces your seventeen-year-old. He knows the pain you live with when you come home to a quite apartment where the only children who ever come are visitors, when you hear that your former husband and his new wife were sealed in the temple last week, when your fiftieth wedding anniversary rolls around and your husband has been dead for two years. He knows all that. He's been there. He's been lower than all that.

"He's not waiting for us to be perfect. Perfect people don't need a Savior. He came to save us in our imperfections. He is the Lord of the living, and the living make mistakes. He's not embarrassed by us, angry at us, or shocked. He wants us in our brokenness, in our unhappiness, in our guilt and our grief."

Boyd K. Packer, Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, Special Witnesses of Christ DVD

"In the Gethsemanes of life which we all have, and often in my present calling, I have gone to my knees with a humble spirit to the only place I could for help. I often went in agony of spirit, earnestly pleading with God to sustain me in the work I have come to appreciate more than life itself. I have, on occasion, felt a terrible aloneness of the wounds of the heart, of the sweet agony, the buffetings of Satan, and the encircling warm comfort of the Spirit of the Master.

"I have also felt the crushing burden, the self-doubts of inadequacy and unworthiness, the fleeting feeling of being forsaken, then of being reinforced an hundredfold. I have climbed a spiritual Mount Sinai dozens of times, seeking to communicate and to receive instructions. It has been as though I have struggled up an almost real Mount of Transfiguration and, upon occasion, felt great strength and power in the presence of the Divine. A special, sacred feeling has been a sustaining influence and often a close companion."

Have a happy Easter!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Samuel Nathan

Here are some pics of little Sam. These are the ones from Bella Baby, so if you looked at the link last post, then you've seen these. We'll have more pictures coming in a few weeks, too. Our friend is a photographer and took baby pictures of Sam, so as soon as we get those, we'll post them.

We love this boy. He's so sweet. He's so docile, too. He only cries if he hasn't eaten in a very long time. At the hospital, he would go for 6 hours without eating -- and the nurses would have to bring him in to feed because he just wouldn't cry.

Unfortunately he doesn't go for that long at home now...especially at night. :) He has the sweetest little "cry." He kind of squeaks. It makes me smile every time!

I've been initiated into the "I'm-a-mom-of-a-son" club. Yesterday, I get pegged twice in one changing! Girls are much easier to change than boys I've decided. Now, everytime I change his diaper, I find I get really anxious. Maybe it's a good thing though; I change it twice as fast as I would have otherwise!

Avery has decided that she will crawl out of her crib when she doesn't want to be in it. That has been making nap time and bed time very difficult. It'd be nice if we could just shut the door to her room, but because we've had parents from both sides staying over, we've had to rearrange the rooming situation, which means that she has been in the family room in the basement. That means no doors to close! We just sit there next to her crib for an hour (or two), and make sure she stays in. Not fun. Any suggestions on how to make her stay in her crib? We've tried having her put her doll and bunny to sleep first by tucking them in, piling blankets on her to make her warm and sleepy, singing, time out each time she crawls out, etc. I think we're out of ideas, and I need her to take that I can!

Avery has been very loving with Sam. She calls him "Sa" or "Sammy." She loves to "help" change his diaper, put his pacifier in his mouth (and in her mouth), burp him, show me where his eye is by poking it, and tell me that his diaper is poopy. There have been the occasional frustrating times when she'll decided to do something naughty (like climb up on top of the grand piano) and I can't get to her right away, but luckily those events are usually few and far between. It's fun to see her give him kisses and hugs. We also are glad because we felt it was time to give her a sibling...She'll benefit from learning how to share!

My visiting teachers have been great, too! They've brought/will be bringing 3 meals over the next week. That has been sooo helpful! I really have forgotten how much time a baby takes up! I was trying to remember at what point it becomes a little easier. I remember when Avery could hold her bottle, that was a huge milestone. And when we didn't really have to burp her anymore, that was equally as helpful.

We're planning on having Sam blessed in church on the first Sunday in May, so consider yourself invited.

The past two nights, Nathan has taken care of Sam until 6:00 am!!! He never woke me up for my shift. He's been on spring break for this week, and he said that he wanted to take Sam as much as he could now because he wouldn't be able to do it later. I feel so bad because he's probably so tired, but it also makes me want to pinch his cute little cheeks. I love Nathan -- he's been so supportive. He's always asking, "What would you like me to do?" After he finishes that task, he'll come back and ask me again what else he can do to help. That's how he's always been. What a great guy. I'm so lucky!

One great thing about knowing that we'll be moving to AZ is that clothes shopping is much, much easier. I only need to buy clothes for one season: summer. That makes shopping much more simple! I don't have to calculate how old Sam or Avery will be in 6 months to find out if the outfit I want to get them will be in season! It's great!

Things for Yuma are slowly falling in to place. Thank goodness we've had so much time to prepare. There's a lot more paperwork to fill out for a job as an independent contractor than if Nathan would be working for someone. That's what I do during the days: fill out paperwork!

Well, Sam's hungry again. I can hear him grunting and squeaking!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

I Had a Baby!

Yes, that's right! Samuel Nathan Richardson was born on 4/6 (only two days past his due date). He was 7 lbs. 6 oz., and 19 1/2 inches long. To see photos, go to:
Password: 0406babyboyrichardson

I'll be posting photos on the next post (as I'm a little preoccupied at the moment trying to catch up on some sleep).

The Story
Nathan's alarm went off at 6:15 that morning and I realized I was having contractions. Samuel was nice enough to let me have time to shower and pack a hospital bag and be on our way. He was born a little before noon.

I was able to walk into the hospital, check in, and they gave me an epidural shortly afterward. Gosh, I love those things. I was ready to have him at 10:30 or so, but they let me sit for a while so the baby could descend a little more, and so the pushing would go more quickly...which it did! I only had to push through two contractions and he was out! It was fast and painless. :)

He's a cutie. He likes to be awake at night, and take his sweet time feeding, but I really have nothing to complain about as he is healthy and happy!

Avery loves to hold baby. In fact that's her new favorite sentence: "I want to hold/see baby." She loves to help out with everything and has been a great big sister.

Coming Soon
Next on the list of to-do's: get ready for another interfaith dialogue at our house with students from Azusa Pacific University in LA. That'll happen this coming Monday, and I hope to be able to participate, so hopefully Sam's and Avery's schedule allow me to get some conversation time with them! If you haven't heard of what they are, see this post about what dialogues are: Interfaith Dialogues.

Til next post!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

A Whirlwind Month

This last month or so has been crazy! We're trying to get everything done before baby gets here at the end of the month, so we've packed everything in to such a short amount of time.

Here's what we've been up to the past month:
  • We hosted an interfaith dialogue with a group of evangelicals from Westmont College in California
  • We are still re-tiling our laundry room, kitchen, dining room, and entry way (this has been quite the process).
  • We went to two Expos for Nathan's book design business; one was a three-day expo, and at the other, he taught two classes (one on Word and one on Excel).
  • We had two different house guests stay for over a week (one was a member of the Church from the Netherlands I knew from my mission).
  • Nathan taught again for two evenings at BYU for the annual Life, the Universe, and Everything Symposium.
  • I got a new calling as Mia Maid advisor and Nathan got a new calling as 11 year-old scout master.
  • We bought a new kitchen table and chairs that are a little bigger and more sturdy.
  • We bought a minivan from my cousin
  • We sold Nathan's Altima (he was sad to part with it ... it had really comfy seats).

I realize that I haven't posted Christmas pictures yet. Nathan has already moved all of our camera pictures onto a CD, so I need to hunt down the CD to post any Christmas pictures.

Here is one picture I did get, though. This was in the box I opened from Nathan:

Yeah. That was my reaction, too. "Umm ... why thank you, Sweetie. How thoughtful. I've always wanted a bow holding a sword and a gun." But, it was actually a puzzle I was supposed to figure out. It took a little while for him to walk me through it, but I eventually got it. It is a "violent bow," right? That sounds awfully close to "violin bow," which is what he had repaired for me. It just wasn't out of the repair shop at the time. :) What a clever hubby!

This next pic shows how much fun Nathan and our friend Ryan had demolishing the tile in the entry way. It was old, nasty, dirty tile, that actually matches the design one of our little cabinets in the living room. I bet this was fancy stuff back in the day.

This has been such a long process. We've had our floor torn up for 3 weeks, and haven't been able to use our washer and dryer. Thank goodness my parents were kind enough to let us use theirs. We had everything stuffed into the corner of the still-carpeted living room (including the table, chairs, 3 accent tables, washer, dryer, fridge, and the grand piano). Because the wood floor in the kitchen gives so much, three of our tiles have cracked in the kitchen (even through the backerboard!). The baseboards wouldn't come off without shattering in to pieces (which means we need to buy more, cut them, and paint them), and we were 30 tiles short (which means I had to go out and find tiles that matched as close as I could to the other tiles).

As glad as I am to have a tiled floor, I will miss the carpeted kitchen for a few reasons.
  • I never had to wear shoes in the kitchen because the carpet felt so nice on my feet; no cold tile to worry about.
  • It was hard to tell when the floor was dirty. If I dropped crumbs on the ground, oh well! They were forever lost in the abyss of the brown carpet until I vacuumed again.
  • Vacuuming is much easier and faster (especially when you're pregnant) than sweeping and mopping.

What the Richardsons Do When We're Bored
Avery loves this game. We did this for about an hour the other night. She was being so silly -- and it never gets old!

Here's a video so you can actually see what the silly bean looks like now. At the beginning of the video, you can see her favorite habit: while she sucks her thumb, she rubs her fingers on the rough side of her blanket. It's so quirky; I love it. Her hair is getting pretty long and mop-like (this video was taken about two months ago, when it was much shorter), which means I probably should cut it, but that's a big step. And it's one that I'm ill-prepared for. I don't want to give her a mullet. Plus, her hair is really curly, especially in the back, and I don't want to cut the curls off.

Our "New" Van
I told Nathan I wanted a van because I had trouble getting Avery in and out of our little car without killing my pregnant back--and hitting Avery's head on the ceiling in the process. It turns out my cousin was selling hers, and we got a great deal on it! It's a silver 2004 Mazda MPV.

The back seats fold into the floor, it has a sunroof, and automatic sliding doors on both sides! I LOVE IT! Now my back doesn't hurt anymore. And when my hands are full, but I need to help Avery in to the car, all I have to do is push a button on my keychain, and viola--the door opens (and closes) by itself! This is a nice feature, especially because our little Hyundai has manual locks.

Notice below how the passenger bucket seat slides over to the center to make it easier to get into the back seats?? Genius!!

Westmont College Dialogue
This was a really fun one because it was the smallest group of students we've hosted...which meant that our discussion groups were no larger than 4 people! I was in a group with Nathan, Ty (an evangelical from Westmont), and Cat (a visitor from Maine who was United Methodist). We discussed the Fall of Adam and Eve to start off. They both believed it shouldn't have happened, and that pain, although inevitable, is not necessary to experience joy. They were surprised to learn that we not only believe the Fall of Adam was necessary, but a good thing -- and that it is impossible to experience joy without pain. I got to ask them about their belief in the time between death and the resurrection, and they got to ask us about temple work for our deceased ancestors, and how we believe spiritual gifts operate today.
We also got to each discuss what we believed constitutes a "valid" baptism.

I was sad to see this group go because we only had about an hour to an hour and a half to be in our groups because the group was running behind schedule. Usually we have about 3 hours to discuss in small groups. But, the topics were different than the usual, and that made it extra fun.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Miracles Happen!

Yes, miracles still do happen! I took the state social work exam and actually passed!! Just to make sure I wasn't going to get sick from not eating for 4 hours, we went out for steak the night before, and then we went out to breakfast before my test. I had delicious strawberry crepes and hashbrowns. I'm always so happy after I eat a good meal when I'm pregnant. :) And, I was able to last the entire testing time without getting sick.

I love my husband. For Christmas, he got me like 3 or 4 boxes of Gushers. Every time we go shopping, I make some comment about how much I love Gushers and then wipe drool off my face as we pass the fruit snacks. He must have picked up the idea that I liked Gushers...! Every time I open one of the packets to eat some, I have to go over and kiss him because those Gushers just make me soooo happy!

He also got me a "new" violin bow -- originally he was going to get me a new one until we found out that warped bows can be repaired! Who knew?! Anyway, that option was much better than paying for a new one. It's still in the shop being repaired, but I can't wait to get it back and test it out.

Avery got a play kitchen from Grandma and Grandpa Lemmon, which she LOVES! We enjoy sitting at the play table and eating plastic food. She loves the Christmas tree lights. Each morning she'll come out and say "sha," for "star" because she wants the lights and star plugged in. Then she'll sit on my lap on the ground in front of the tree, and we'll just look at it. It's fun to have her be old enough to start enjoying little things like that! We've also been teaching her the "one-finger touch" method for the ornaments. It was impossible to have her not touch the tree at all, so we tell her that she can touch things with one finger. It works most of the time, and keeps us from having to rescue the little ornaments all the time.

I gave Nathan an MP3 player for Christmas because whenever we drive places, we always want to listen to books on tape, but have no way to do it. We've downloaded a ton of free online courses that Yale University has on its website (we've been listening to New Testament and Music 101). It's been fun to go through and learn lots of new things with Nathan while we drive places. I'm a fan of MP3 players. Sure beats the radio most days!

Here are some Richardson family pics we got taken back in September. I was so sick that day that I ended up being an hour late for pictures, and had to sit down with my puke bowl between shots so I didn't ruin my white shirt. :)

Next post I'll have all the Christmas pics up! And Nathan and I are planning on moving in June or July next year. We'd love to go to Western Oregon (close to Northern California as possible), but it's looking like Yuma, AZ may be Nathan's best employment option so far. So, we've got lots of big decisions to make in the next few months!