Valentine’s 2012

Valentine’s Day is a lovely idea.  It’s a wonderful thing to celebrate those we love the most.  I love it.  Each year I load up plastic ‘bead boxes’ from Michael’s with different candies for the boys to enjoy.  They look forward to these little treats.  But beyond the commercial goodies that get purchased, I always try to find time to write to the boys what I love most about them.  I have previously revealed that I am a bit of a poet (See Birthday Blog 2011), so I write a poem to them…in honor of them…I will share:

Ode to Quin

For Timothy Quin Richards

By Karalea Richards-mother

Pre-teen Quin

…who enjoys sleeping in…

…except on video game Saturdays…

Quin the drummer

…the singer, the hummer…

…can sing and play music amazingly…

Middle-school Quin

…report card gets pinned…

…to the fridge for nearly straight ‘A’s’…one B…

Quin the athlete

…so driven to compete…

…passionate, aggressive and smart player…

Food critic Quin

…”Mom, what’s for din-din?”…

…still eats whatever I make, regardless…

Quin the Great

…stays up too late…

…watching Sport’s Center or playing video games…

My son, Quin

…skin of my skin…

…so blessed to have your in our family…

I love you.

Happy Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day 2012


For Miles Cole Richards

By Karalea Richards-mother

I love you for MILES

In both directions

I love you BACKWARD

…each year going back…

10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2,1

10 years ago I held you for the very first time.

I love you as a hungry, sleepy baby.

I love you as a mischievous toddler.

I love to see you growing up to be strong and smart and spiritual.

I love you for MILES

I love you RIGHT NOW.  This instant.

All that you are, all that you do, I love you.

I love you when you are amazing at sports and school.

I love you when you are funny and kind and helpful.

..I also love you when you are sad, pouting, mad, mean or rotten…

I love you for MILES

I love you FORWARD…projecting into the future.

I love who I know you will become…

…a missionary, an athlete, a college grad, a successful man, a loving husband, a caring father…

..a great human being…

I love you for MILES and MILES.

A Boy Like You

By Karalea Richards-mother

Ewan–age seven

…sent down to me…straight from heaven.

Heavenly Father knew

..I would need a little boy…just like you.

You are kind.

…never leaving anyone behind…

You’re funny.

…saving up all your money (to buy J.B. ‘action figures.’)

You are smart.

…and you have a wonderful heart…always doing your part…

You have skill.

…baseball, basketball, art, tae kwon do…whatever you will…

You’re my love.

…sent from above…

-to make me happy, to help me out, to remind me of God’s love, to bring me joy-

Heavenly father knew….to send a boy just like you.

The boys actually really love it and look forward to it.  I’m sure in the next few years it will be horribly embarrassing for them (as they enter that bizarre world of teenager-dom).  But I’m sure that I will still do it…and secretly hide it under their pillows, so they can secretly read it when no one is watching and know how much I adore them.  Or maybe they won’t batt a long, black eyelash at the ‘mushy love stuff.’  Maybe…they’ll think it’s wonderful and normal and perfect to be in love with each other.  Maybe….because….you see, they experience it first hand.  They see Tim shower me with gifts and flowers and dinners out to nice restaurants and love letters on my pillows…because that is how he does it.  This year was red tulips with purple roses (they are the most fragrant)…it was a new basketball and a new volleyball….it was fancy workout clothes that I would never go buy for myself, but am so happy to have…and it was a heartfelt love letter, hand written on pretty paper…it was soft words like…”I’ve fallen in love with you, and I still haven’t hit bottom, found footing, or lost that ‘floating’ feeling I get when you’re near me.”  Ahh, Valentine’s.  I simply love you.

On My Honor…I will do my best…

It’s been months.  Months since I shared my voice in this place.  Months since I recorded the happenings, the ‘goings on’ of my wonderful life.  Let me say, that there have been amazing moments that have not been documented.  Let me share, that life has been so kind to me and my family and yet I have not found the time, energy or inspiration to share it here.  I’m sorry.

It seems that there are times in our lives that all we can do is live.  Just live.  Enjoy living.  Cherish and bask in each second.  This is what I have been doing for the past 6 months.  Living, enjoying, basking.  It’s no excuse.  As I type this post, I think that maybe, if I did ever have a small following, that they may have moved on to Pinterest or FB to see my life unfolding, because it sure hasn’t been on here.  I’m sorry.

Alas, there is always room for improvement, repentance.  So here I am.  Humbly asking for forgiveness, acceptance, understanding.  I will do better.  I will post more devotedly.  Promise.

Wonderful Wonderland

In May I threw a baby shower for a new…but very dear…friend, Ruth.  Ruth was expecting her 4th child…a girl…after three boys. She chose the name *Alice* for her new little one and I couldn’t help but imagine a Wonderland for her baby shower.  Her sister, Karen (a great person, beautiful woman and photographer) took the photos and helped with set up/tear down and her wonderful Visiting Teacher, Wendy also lent extra hands and yummy food (pasta salad, fruit salad & little lemon cupcakes).  Andrea (who works with Ruth’s husband at Blitz) also helped make the shower amazing…she brought the most delicious Vanilla Bakeshop cake and an opening activity for all of us to do while waiting for all the guests to arrive.  I hope you love it.  Welcome to a little wonderland.

It all begins with a whimsical welcome.  I re-purposed this old mirror that was hidden in my garage.  Spray painting it white and using window crayons to write, “Welcome Guests.”  I made paper cones for lovely Farmer’s Market flowers that I picked up that morning.

As guests enter the shower, they are greeted by the Little Golden Book “Alice in Wonderland,” and instructed to write their well wishes inside the cover for baby Alice.  Gifts are dropped off and they also get to check out their parting favors, little china tea cups filled with fresh herbs to plant at home.  Karen took the beautiful photos of Ruth that were set all around the shower.

A small detail, but cute, nonetheless.  This is a substitute for the traditional ‘diaper cake.’  It’s a diaper garden.  Little rolled diapers secured with beautiful papers and ribbon, adorned with hand made baby sock roses.  Teapots filled with flowers are found throughout.

After many hours of work, the Wonderland is set for guests.  Hand made paper buntings are swathed from trees, a little clothesline hangs to the side (you’ll see why later), empty frames and paper lanterns hang from branches, floral linens, china place settings, vintage handkerchiefs, and a playing card chandelier adorn Ruth’s already beautiful garden.

I didn’t get a close up of the little vials that were at each place setting.  Of course, they are ‘drink me’ vials, magical shrinking/growing potions.  Just a small detail.  Also, you may notice there are keys incorporated in the chandelier…the breeze made them into a lovely wind chime, unexpected and wonderful.

I hand crafted in wire, Alice’s name as a little decoration.  I think it is lovely with the ribbons.  This is the ’savory’ side of the food tables.  Pasta salad, fruit salad, caprese skewers, grilled sirloin and a wonderful parsley chimichuri sauce, grissini breadsticks, veggies with hummus, & fresh fruit cups.

Individual cups of fresh veggies with hummus in the bottom of the cup…it’s a wonderful way to serve at a party.

Another small detail.  I hand made little containers from paper grocery bags and tied with jute, cut real sod grass and made plant stakes for each of the food items.  It was lovely.

I mentioned Wendy’s adorable mini lemon cupcakes, and Andrea’s Vanilla Bakeshop (Santa Monica) berry and lemon curd cake, but I didn’t mention my lemon white chocolate cake truffles, home made chocolate chip cookies and ‘eat me’ sugar cookies with cream cheese frosting.  Delightful.  For beverages, we had strawberry lemonade and hibiscus tea.

Remember the clothesline I mentioned earlier?  Ta Da!  Andrea’s opening activity was a “make your own onesie” station.  She brought the softest GAP onesies and a whole craft store full of ways to decorate them.  It was so fantastic.  This little dragonfly number is my own personal creation for baby Alice.

The whimsical nature of the shower allowed for the centerpieces to be stacked teacups and fish bowls full of black and white M&Ms, pictures of Ruth, various copies of the Alice in Wonderland book, and gorgeous flowers (Ruth made many beautiful arrangements, plucked from her own garden).

Thanks to everyone who helped make this a beautiful shower for Ruth and baby Alice.  It was a true pleasure to do this service for a dear friend.  It was a much needed creative expression for a stay-at-home mom of three boys.  It was lovely to create and wonderful to be part of this welcoming into the world.  Wonderful.  Wonderland.

32 Things About Me

I’m starting this post on May 3, 2011. It is my birthday.  It is an absolutely gorgeous day outside….sunny and warm.  It’s the perfect weather for my birthday.  Since this is my blog and it’s about my life, I’m going to indulge myself and post all about me, without reservation.  This is for my own personal well-being and for no other reason…and maybe, just maybe this is not the place to write this…but I don’t really care.  This post will be 32 Things About Me….some good, some not so great, some interesting and some mundane….

1.  I am a wonderful baker.  I made my first homemade cake when I was just a wee little girl…probably about 8 years old.  My mom was at work and  I used her old, worn Betty Crocker cookbook. I followed the directions and made a delicious white cake.  It was for my mom or grandmother’s birthday.  I don’t remember which one.  I do remember that my mom was shocked that I had done it from scratch.  I didn’t know that there was any other way.  This is my 32nd birthday cake.  I made it myself.  From scratch.  It is moist dark chocolate cake with Nutella filling and dark chocolate ganache, topped with hazelnut truffles.  It is delicious.

2.  I love sugar.  This one goes with number one.  I really love sugar.  I love it so much.  I think about sugar and crave sugar.  I over-indulge in sugar.  I like all types of sugar…white, brown, honey, agave, stevia…anything that makes things sweeter…I love it.  It is an addiction that I am learning to control.  When I was young I could find hidden candy in seconds…my poor mom would try to hide sweets from me…to no avail.  I would pull every dish from the cabinet to find the sweets.  My favorites are York peppermint patty, creme brulee, tiramisu, panna cotta, grape Laffy Taffy, s’mores, Hot Tamales, Thin Mints & Samoas, Hawaiian Shave Ice (with cream,please), chocolate chip cookies, sugar cookies with cream cheese frosting, carrot cake, Texas Sheet Cake, any and all homemade ice creams….the list goes on and on.  Alas…now, I only allow myself sweets on special occasions…because as much as I love sugar…sugar does not love me back…sugar actually makes me feel sick and sluggish and fat…and so, while I love sugar…I love myself a little more and so I choose healthy over sweet.

3.  I love to be healthy.  I love exercise and sports. I absolutely love to play basketball.  I feel most confident and natural on the basketball court.  I love the game so much.  I played in high school.  I was offered a scholarship to play in college (Adam’s State college in Colorado).  I still play basketball every week…with wonderful women.  I am so thankful for this.   I also love long walks with my dog, vigorous runs, and calming yoga.  I love fresh, organic food.  I love beef and chicken (I don’t really like pork or seafood).   I especially love grass fed organic beef (top sirloin or rib eye on the grill is my fave….medium rare).  I love the Farmer’s Market and I go once or twice a week to get fresh fruit and veggies.  I especially love asparagus, red leaf lettuce, Carlsbad strawberries, heirloom tomatoes, pluots and red onions.  I also love herbal teas and lukewarm water (no ice, please).  I love to go to bed by 9 or 10 and be up by 5 or 6.  I love to take a nap in the afternoon.  This is MY ‘healthy.’

4.  I….um….sometimes….like……..junk food.  I know that this one is a direct contradiction to number three, but, let’s be honest here…okay.  Sometimes, though it gives me horrible stomach aches and headaches and other, not so pleasant feelings, I like to eat junk.  Let me tell you what I will choose…if choosing junk…salt & vinegar potato chips, hot dogs (in my defense, I only really like Hebrew National all beef hot dogs), grilled cheese, Oreo cookies, kettle corn, donuts (ugh, these really make me super sick), sweet potato french fries, bacon cheeseburgers, rice crispie treats, scones, fresh home made whipped cream, chicken parmesan, tamales, pizza (vegetarian is my favorite, that gives me some ‘good’ points, right?).  I also like Coke…real Coke, not diet.   I hardly EVER indulge in these foods, because they literally make me ill for like 3 days if I do…but I thought it worthy of inclusion.

5.  I love to take hot baths.  I love to read in the bath with sweet smelling potions mixed into the water. I take a bath almost every single day.  It is a type of stress relief for me.  I will stay in the bath for an hour sometimes….at the end of a long day….or even at the beginning of one.   I love this store called Lush that sells wonderful bath products.  I also love epsom salts and essential oils in my bath.  I read novels, scriptures, magazines…whatever, in the bath.  I feel a little bad about using so much water for baths…so I sometimes will bucket the water out to the garden to water the garden with it.  It’s weird and I know it.  I choose to embrace the weird-ness.

6.  I love the smell of bleach, ammonia, fingernail polish remover, gasoline…etc.  Any harsh, sharp, sanitary scent.  I don’t know why I like this….I actually have a VERY sensitive sense of smell.  I can smell the tiniest hint of an odor.  I am always saying, “What’s that smell? Can you smell that?  What is it?”  It makes Tim crazy, I’m sure.  So, you’d think that the strong smells would be too overwhelming, but they aren’t.  I love them.

7. I like watching cartoons.  Almost all cartoons.  I don’t really ‘get’ the Japanese ones (Pokemon, Yugio, Bakugan, Last Airbender), but most of the others are great.  I especially like the old school Pink Panther and Tom & Jerry and the newer Chowder and The Mighty B.  I also like to watch Spongebob and Phineas & Ferb with my boys…it cracks me up.  I rarely watch anything else on television.  I DVR a few shows, but mostly we watch cartoons…and I’m good with that.

8.  I’m afraid of most insects.  Even butterflies.  I hate them.  They creep me out.  I have pest control come every 3 months and spray their bug poison around my house.  It’s probably totally un-healthy (the poison), but I just can’t have insects around.  It makes my skin crawl.  I’m not afraid of worms or ladybugs.

9.  I love dogs.  I hate cats.  Dogs are loyal and kind and dependable and fun.  Cats are smelly and mean and selfish and evil.  That’s all I have to say about that.

10.  I love to read.  I especially love historical fiction.  I like to learn a bit about something while being ‘taken away’ by the story.  I read 3-4 books a month, depending on how busy I am with other tasks.  I belong to a great book club.  I don’t remember reading as a youth very much, but now…I always have one or two books going.  I love to read.  I am so thankful that I can read…both for the ability and for the freedom.

11.  I don’t like metal hangers.  I only use wooden or plastic hangers.  I feel like the metal ones are mistreating my clothing.  They are sharp and too easily weighed down.  I don’t like them.

12.  I am an optimist.  I see the positive side of everything…it is just innate to me.  The glass is always half full…and about to be refilled by my handsome waiter at the the delicious restaurant I’m enjoying, while on a date with my sweet husband….:)

13.  I love tea time and siesta.  I strongly believe that having a siesta time in the afternoon makes for a better, more productive day.  I try to schedule a siesta into my days….and after siesta, I think it’s time for tea!  From 3 p.m. until dinner, I have a difficult time with food choices, so for me, tea time in the afternoon is essential.  I make a warm cup of tea in the winter and an iced tea in the summer.  I sit and savor.  I like cinnamon teas, hibiscus teas, mint teas, chamomile teas, chai teas, most all kinds.

14.  I make a lot of lists.  On real paper.  With a pencil.  Every day I make lists of things that need to be accomplished.  It helps me to feel focused and driven and organized.  I write things like:  run, walk dog, laundry, menu plans, calendar update, early release for boys, practice, go to beach, siesta, tea time, farmer’s market, grocery, vacuum, basketball, Primary presidency meeting, etc.  I try to write my lists first thing in the morning (or the day before sometimes), but if I write them later, I DO add things I have already accomplished, then I cross them off.  It’s totally silly.

15. I like to go to bed early-ish and wake up early.  I don’t like staying up super late.  I wake up at 5:30/6:00, regardless of what time I go to bed, so….if I go to bed at 1:00 a.m., I only get 4-5 hours of sleep….and then I am tired and cranky.  So, I try to go to bed between 9 and 10 p.m.  I like to fall asleep watching a show or reading.  I spray my bed linens with lavender vanilla linen spray and like having my alarm clock where I can see it.  I always choose the side of the bed that I assume is the farthest from ‘danger.’  Tim knows this and he is fine with it.  It’s a little looney, but he is fine with that.  I love pajamas and always wear them to bed.

16.  To go right along with the former #, I don’t like to snuggle.  Let me re-phrase that, I don’t like to snuggle for a long time.  I like a nice little hug, then let me be.  I don’t like gentle caress, I do like a back scratch or a back rub.  Your feet can’t touch my feet, but it’s okay if I ‘dig’ you with my hands and tootsies!  These are all things that Tim puts up with from me.  They are funny little, personal things.  They are me.  Also, I like to put my cold hands/feet on Tim.  He is always warm…always.  He doesn’t mind.  He loves me too much to mind.

17.  I get stressed out.  I guess maybe about twice a year, everything builds up and I have a little ‘nervous breakdown.’  My shoulders get all knotted up, I feel overwhelmed and end up exploding, locking myself in a closet and crying.  It’s getting better, I am learning how to deal with weight of my work/life and I am also learning when to say ‘no,’ when to stay home and when to take time for myself.  I’m learning.  I think it is probably healthy to just break down and cry sometimes though.  Like rain on the earth, it just feels like a cleansing.

18.  I am very competitive.  I like to win.  I like to race.  I like to be the best.  I strive for it.  That’s all I’m going to say about that.

19.  I sit at the front of the class.  I look the speaker/teacher in the eye.

20.  I have been hurt by many ‘girl friends.’  I don’t know what it is about women/girls.  Sometimes, they are just awful and mean.  I honestly like most everyone.  I am a great friend.  I remember birthdays and anniversaries.  I listen well and remember what friends like and need.  I am often thinking of how to best help and serve those I love.  I have always been like this, even as a youth.  But….it hasn’t stopped me from getting ‘burned’ by women who claimed to be my ‘friends.’  It’s hard to trust after something like this happens to you a few times, but…I genuinely believe that most people are good and I try to be open and loving.  I know that close friendships are important to my well being and I have learned many wonderful lessons from these difficult experiences.  I forgive.

21.  I draw well.  In Jr. High and High School I took many art classes and I still have a few pictures that I drew.  I like to draw, but need a subject.  I should draw more, it is enjoyable to me.

22.  I may have a pretty good voice, but I am afraid to join the choir or sing in front of people…I need to get over this.

23.  I love having my own garden, growing my own herbs/fruit/vegetables.  I’m not the best gardener, but I am learning and I LOVE to have fresh food from my own garden.  I admire people who have a green thumb.  I want to be a great gardener.  I am working on this.

24.  I love my husband.  We have been married for nearly 12 years and I still love him.  It surprises me sometimes, not that I still love him -because he is amazing and wonderful and easy to love-, but that it’s been 12 years of love with him.  Things that make me love him:  he is super silly and makes me laugh every day, he loves me unconditionally -truly-, he cries when I cry, he always tries his best, he is brilliant, he works hard, he is a really fun dad, he takes me to the temple (because he knows how happy it makes me), he thinks I am beautiful, he always wants to touch me (kiss, hug, hold hands, snuggle -uh hem-, rub my shoulders, whatever), he has a funky style, he chooses his friends wisely, he holds the Priesthood, he is handsome, he is tall and strong, he is kind.  I could go on, but I will leave it at that, he is the love of my life and I am so thankful that God blessed me with him.  Things could have been different for me, and I recognize my good fortune.

25.  I believe in the mind-body connection.  I like to call it voodoo.  But I truly I believe that ailments and illnesses are in direct relation to things in our lives that need to change. Loise Hay has a great book on this subject called ‘You Can Heal Your Life.’  Highly recommended.

26. I write poetry.  I’m very poetic.  I love words and have an always expanding vocabulary.  I write poems to go with gifts for my family, I write poems when I am sad, I write poems from the ‘tooth fairy.’  I love to read the thesaurus and dictionary.  I am good with rhythm and timing.  I love Shel Silverstein and Dr. Seuss.  I am a poet.

27.  I like being tall.  It’s taken 32 years for me to grow into it.  In Jr. High I hated being tall…taller than all the boys.  In High School it wasn’t so bad, and in sports it was wonderful, that was the shift for the height hating.  I now love being tall and even love to wear heels…high ones.

28.  I like my name.  My name is unique.  I used to hate this too.  Every school year, on the first day of school, the teacher would read the names aloud and butcher my name.  In kinder, 1st-3rd, I’m sure I spoke up…yelled out even….the correct pronunciation.  From 4th thru 8th, I’m sure I hid…or at least wanted to hide under my desk, wish I could just shrink…I probably just let it slide.  If only my mom had changed the last letter of my name to an ‘e.’  I think that would have made things so much easier, alas, we all have hurdles to jump over in life and my name has been one for me.  My name is Karalea.  It sounds like care-uh-lee.  I like it, because no one I know has the same name as me.   I like it because it has all those ‘a’s.’ I like it because the first syllable is ‘care.’  I like it because it has made me speak up for myself.  When someone can’t pronounce it….and they try….and I correct them right away….and they apologize….and then I say, “it’s okay.”  It makes me stand up for who I am.  I no longer hide.  I no longer shrink.  I’m thankful for my name.

29.  I don’t have a desire to travel.  I don’t love leaving home for long.  I like vacations, but have a hard time being away from home.  It’s a control issue.  I plan and plan and pack and pack, create lists and arrange for pets to be watched and plants to be watered and home to be checked.  I navigate routes and schedule events.  It just isn’t fun after all that.  It’s exhausting.  I wonder if I will ever have a desire to travel.  Right now I am content in my little space of world, near the beach, with my family and my dog.  I don’t need anything more really.  I hope I will chill out and have a desire to travel someday, maybe when the boys are older, or maybe when Tim and I can go alone it won’t be so much for me to handle.  We’ll see.

30.  I love my family, but have a hard time visiting them or having them visit me.  Over the phone I do really well with my family.  I talk with my dear mom every Monday and sometimes more.  I chat and email with my dad.  I love to get a phone call from my big brother.  But, in person, I break out in hives, get lock jaw, strep, ear aches…etc.  Refer to #25.  I’m just a freak.  It’s okay.

31.  My two favorite places are the temple and my home.  If given the choice of a date, I will always choose the temple with food after.  Tim knows.  He makes sure to take me to temple at least once a month.  I need this to be happy.  I also love to be in my home.  I feel comfortable and safe.  I feel in control of the environment.  I like to clean and organize my home.  The Spirit of God dwells in the temple and in my home and this is where I feel most at ease in this ever-changing, sometimes difficult world.

32.  I am not perfect.  I don’t profess to be.  I have so much to work on.  Every day is a challenge to be better, to become more, to forgive myself and others, to be patient, to improve, to serve, to work.  And while I know that I am not perfect, I also know that I am wonderful and I am trying my very best, and that is such a great feeling.  I love who I am, the good and the not-so-good.  I love being me. Care-uh-lee.  Karalea.