One year ago today

I felt like this:

Not so much the plastic doll. More so, the butterflies in the stomach.

Now I feel more like this:



Molly Jones Photography

I won a really cool blog contest from Molly Jones Photography. And look at these amazing pictures she took of Mykaeleigh.

One of the things I love most about Molly's photography is that she will be giving me a CD with all the pictures she took, and it's mine to keep. That means you grandmas (I mean great-grandmas) are welcome to print pictures from Molly's blog without infringing on any copyright laws.

Making Me Smile:

This little boy and his high heels.


Rules of the Road

Ogden City should post some of these around town. For me. I do tend to drive fast, but I my real problem is not coming to a complete stop at stop signs. I've been pulled over three times in the last three months. Fortunately, they have occurred at 11:oo PM (going to pick up Steve from work) and 6:30 AM (early morning church meeting), so I've gotten off with warnings.

But actually, I am not as concerned about slightly speeding or incomplete stops nearly as much as I am about basic driving rules. I would like to address two laws that are regularly broken. One, by me.

Four-way Intersections with Two Stop Signs
There are probably more stop signs than all other traffic signs combined. So you would think that after encountering so many, drivers would have had a chance to figure out the rules. Not so.

The law says: At a junction where two or more traffic directions are controlled by stop signs, generally the driver who arrives and stops first continues first. If two or three drivers in different directions stop simultaneously at a junction controlled by stop signs, generally the drivers on the left has to yield the right-of-way to the driver on the far right.

This means a driver who is turning left who arrives and stops at a stop sign first, gets to go proceed first, even if the driver from the opposite direction is traveling straight. Most drivers have an easy time following this rule at intersections with four stop signs, but when traffic is controlled by stop signs on only two directions, they forget the rule. Or maybe they have to wait so long to cross traffic that they just forget who arrived first.

Please correct me if I am wrong because I don't like this next law. I break it on a very frequent basis, probably a dozen times a day.

Pedestrians' Right-of-Way
The law says: When traffic control signals are not in place or not in operation, the operator of a vehicle shall yield the right-of-way to a pedestrian crossing the roadway. This applies to any crosswalk (marked or unmarked). Utah Code defines a "crosswalk" as the portion of a roadway at an intersection, which is an extension of the curb and property lines of the intersecting street or is any other portion of a roadway which is marked as a pedestrian crossing location by painted lines.

To protect the drivers, there is a bit of a Catch-22: A pedestrian may not suddenly leave a curb or other place of safety and walk or run into the path of a vehicle which is so close as to constitute an immediate hazard. It also appears that pedestrians are, in fact, legal to cross the road in areas other than crosswalks (unless otherwise prohibited) if they yield to motorists.

I always stop at crosswalks marked with "Continental" or "Zebra" stripes, but I rarely yield to the pedestrian waiting at a standard crosswalk and almost never yield to the pedestrian in an unmarked crosswalk. There are a lot of very slow pedestrians between my house and Sonora Grill or school. I better change my route so I can be in compliance with this law.

P.S. The Utah Driver Handbook also says: Do Not Drive in the Left Lane - The left lane on freeways is for passing only, unless there is heavy traffic. If another vehicle wants to pass you, you must move safely to the right, and you may not increase your speed until the other vehicle has passed you.


She's finally here

At our house. And she'll be back again tomorrow and the day after that, too. I'm pretty sure she likes us. She gave Lucy a huge grin as soon as she saw her. She barely made a peep when I gave her a bath and likes to look at everything with her big, brown eyes.

The temporary custody orders that were put in place today say that Derrick gets to have Mykaeleigh at our house every weekday afternoon and overnight every Friday. That's a pretty good place to start.

Mothers are heavily favored in custody cases, especially with young babies, so Derrick was facing some difficult odds. They are likely to change after a custody evaluator assesses each of our homes. The temporary orders will be effective until the two parties come to an agreement or go to the final trial, which could be anywhere from three months to over a year away.


Aunt Helen

March 14, 2009

My (great) Aunt Helen passed away last week, and we spent Saturday in Logan for her funeral. Helen is my mom's aunt, and she faced a difficult life. As a very young child, she had typhoid fever and was unconscious for a month. Her brain was damaged, and she was left mentally impaired. Even so, she learned how to read and write and became a skilled embroiderer.

Helen wasn't expected to survive into adulthood, but instead, she outlived all of her siblings and died at the age of 92. Helen loved cats, General Hospital, mashed potatoes, root beer, and The Lawrence Welk Show. She had an impressive memory and, even in her old age, knew the names of all my aunts, uncles, cousins, and where they lived.

December 14, 2004

Most of my memories of Helen are from when she lived at the Logan Nursing Center, where she spent the last 17 years of her life. Helen was usually asleep when we went to see her. As we went to wake her up, she would turn her head away and act like she didn't want to be bothered until she peeked out to see who it was. When she saw Rachel and Lucy, she would quickly sit up, order me to sit down, and smile. I loved Helen's smile.

Helen was kind of sneaky, and it took me a long time to catch on. Whenever I asked if anyone had been there to visit her, she always told me no. Then one day, when I knew my Aunt Kathy had just been there, I realized she just wanted us to come more frequently.

December 14, 2007

When we lived in Logan, we liked to visit Helen on Fridays after preschool. The girls loved to sing songs to her, and she liked me to sit and hold her hand. Helen has been part of Rachel's nightly prayers for years, and she really became a special part of her life. I'm thankful that Helen was able to provide Rachel the opportunity to learn about love and service. Rachel has really missed Helen since moving to Ogden. We will all miss her now.



I opened a letter addressed to Derrick today that made me cry. It said:


This is to notify you that your application for permanent residence has been approved. It is with great pleasure that we welcome you to permanent resident status in the United States.

. . . .

It has been four long years of legal paperwork, legal expenses, and more legal paperwork. Lucy was confused by my emotional response. She told me, "When I'm really happy, I don't cry, I start yelling like this, Wahoo! Wahoo! Wahoo!"

Why Mormons Build Temples


Community Food Co-op

My friend, Amanda, told me about the Food Co-op, and I am signing up today. The deadline to place an order for the Saturday, March 28th distribution is Friday, March 13. I am telling you about the Co-op before I have even joined because I am eager to get involved and don't want you to have to wait another month for my report. I saw the stash of food that Amanda received in February, and trust me, it is a good deal. She was very impressed with the quality of the produce (lettuce, kiwis, apples, oranges, artichokes, etc.) that she got in the middle of the winter. 
Here is some information from their website: The Community Food Co-op of Utah is for EVERYONE. Whether you are looking for a great deal on fruits and vegetables or are just looking for a way to share in the community, you can be part of this simple exchange: giving and receiving. The Co-op provides quality, healthy food at a substantial savings (up to 50 percent below retail) through cooperative purchasing and builds a sense of community by bringing people together and promoting volunteerism. 

Each month, members pre-order their shares of fruits, vegetables, meat, and grains. You can order as many shares as you like, and how often you place an order is up to you. On "Distribution Day" (usually the third or fourth Saturday of each month) a network of volunteers helps distribute the food to locations along the Wasatch Front where you can pick up your order. 

Each Co-op member belongs to a "team" of other members in their area. Once a month, each team coordinates the transportation and distribution of their share of the food. Whether you decide to take an active role in your team is up to you, but all members are encouraged to volunteer 2 hours during each month you place an order. This can be ANYTHING you do for someone outside of you family for free! Volunteer hours are logged when you pick up your order. There is an optional lifetime membership fee of $5. 

You can find a list of Co-op teams HERE. I will be signing up for the Youth Impact Center at 2305 Grant Avenue. (Amanda, you should switch, unless you really like going to Adult Dance and Fitness. . .) I think I will count my volunteer hours from the other things (like church service and helping in the lunch room at Rachel's school) until I decide I want to be more involved with the whole distribution process. 

Spread the word because the more people who join, the lower the prices will go! Click HERE to print an order form. You can mail, phone, or fax your order in, so there's still time to make the March deadline. 


Happy Birthday, Uncle Sam

This video is Rachel's birthday present for her Uncle Sam. (Yes, we are running late.)

Sam was probably the first non-graphic artist we knew to buy a Mac. He was unrelenting in his efforts to convince Steve to switch over to a Mac a couple of years back.

Sam was also quite clever because anytime he saw Rachel, he coached her on reasons why Macs are better than PCs, and encouraged her to enlighten her parents.

The rationale she gives, "If you ever need to know how to do something, think what the easiest thing would be, and that's how it works!" is one of Sam's classic statements.


The Ultimate Blog Giveaway

The Sonora Grill blog is hosting a giveaway. Free food always seems to make people happy. Especially when it's so good. Click here to enter.



I don't know how long this will last, but right now you can still download this entire Joshua Radin album for only $1.99. Click here to catch this deal before it's too late.

P.S. Favorite song: A Brand New Day.


Boys will be boys

This is what happens when Adam sneaks back into the bathroom before the tub has drained:

(Last week it was my makeup.)

This is what happens when Derrick goes grocery shopping for our family:


For my sister

and anyone else interested in my new favorite alfredo sauce recipe, courtesy of my sister-in-law, Karen:

1 pint heavy cream
1/2 cup butter
2 Tablespoons cream cheese
1/2-3/4 cup parmesan cheese
2 teaspoons garlic powder

Let sauce simmer as long as you can.

If you want to recreate my favorite dish from Callaway's, Garlic Chicken Linguine, add sauteed chicken, mushrooms, garlic, and green onions. Serve over linguine noodles and top with fresh parmesan cheese.


2 Free Living Scriptures Videos

Journey to the Promised Land Animated Book of Mormon DVD
The Trek West DVD
48- Family Home Evening Activity Book
8 Animated Book of Mormon character magnets

Completely FREE.

NASCAR pictures

Making some good memories, as this will be our only trip to NASCAR.
(Yes, I am wearing my token Las Vegas t-shirt.)

Lots of caution laps.

Lots of people.

Lots of RVs.

Lots of fun costumes.

These girls attracted a lot of attention.
Much more than the girls in spandex on roller skates.

There were dozens others just like this. But I wasn't sure if it was
kosher to walk around and take pictures of everyone.

This was the guy sitting in front of us. The guy sitting next to us
wasn't impressed with Steve and went and sat by him instead.

Las Vegas

rachel. lucy. preschool. miss jill. pizza. pajamas. party. adam. grandma gloria. house. angie ballard kids. days. steve. sonora grill. quizno's. sandwich. car. vacation. hours. computer. las vegas. traffic. luxor. u.s. foods. packet. room. new york. casino. roller coaster. years. headache. moon. stars. lights. pizza. eiffel tower. camera. reception. turkey. potatoes. martinis. strawberries. chocolate. david ragan. driver. ups. commercial. prizes. forum shops. caesars palace. escalators. fountains. bellagio. pictures. strip. immigrants. litter. sidewalks. water. dollars. feet. shoes. jacket. hotel. room. sleep. hours. quiet.

mesa grill. bobby flay. brunch. anticipation. menu. online. pumpkin. soup. burger. chilaquiles. egg. sweet potato. plates. restaurant. outlet mall. gap. rewards. steve. shorts. adam. tie. swimming suit. rachel. jacket. lucy. t-shirt. derrick. american apparel. me. nothing. pictures. plants. traffic. room. clothes. reservations. restaurant. tao. venetian. atmosphere. statue. goldfish. music. dumplings. noodles. steak. chopsticks. dessert. stores. banana republic. sweater. mime. artist. volcano. thomas keller. bouchon. france. menu. patio. bread. butter. soup. dessert. ice cream. mint. tart. lemons. parking lot. stomach. belt.

time. hours. morning. alarm. darkness. room. luggage. traffic. freeway. granola bar. jerky. water. nascar. cars. trucks. tailgate. people. speedway. tickets. lanyard. parking. pass. tent. lunch. hamburgers. baked beans. coke. program. people. lines. booths. golf cart. stories. pit. tires. goodyear. cameras. cigarettes. beer. tattoos. sunscreen. pictures. bleachers. national anthem. jets. sky. sun. clouds. engine. announcer. earplugs. smoke. jeans. socks. sunglasses. pictures. crowd. view. track. sunburn. neck. steve. face. drunk. asleep. noise. grass. home. kids. car. st. george. in-n-out burger. shake. ogden. shower. sheets. bed.

I copied this idea from my creative friend, Molly. I thought it would be a good way to tell you about our trip, minus the sarcasm. Like airports, Vegas just has a way of bringing out the cynicism in me. The hate component of my love-hate relationship with Las Vegas is accentuated by the fact that I stick out like a sore thumb. My standard ensemble of a sweater, Keen shoes, and pants-that-actually fit won me the award for the most conservatively-dressed female on the strip (again). And this year's entrants included the 75-year old grandmas riding down the sidewalk on their Rascals.

This picture shows how extreme the badgering was. Count them. There are ELEVEN, each about two feet apart from each other. We've never seen it so bad. I think I will see if there is a Las Vegas tourism board I can complain to.

One of my very favorite restaurants. I am still very disappointed that the Roasted Corn Soup has been removed from the menu.

These other photos show what Steve takes pictures of on trips. We have thousands of photos like these from Las Vegas, Chicago, and Mexico. Those seem to be his "inspiration destinations".

One of my favorite dishes from the trip: Chilaquiles from Mesa Grill.

Steve would like some of these for the patio. Can anyone identify them for us?


A rare shot

Rebecca, Sam, Emily, and Paul

Edna May Milligan

I have so many fond memories of my Grandma Milligan. Some recent, some old. She has had a large presence in my young daughters' lives, but they never saw her the way she used to be. The way she was before Alzheimer's. I want to preserve some of my thoughts for them, especially Lucy who was given her middle name, May, as I reminisce about my grandma.

When my family made the annual trip to Utah for summer vacation, there was always a race to Grandma's porch to ring the doorbell. Grandma's house meant playing checkers, lemonade, buying swedish fish from the Island Market, playing on the electronic organ, orange dreamsicles, blowing bubbles on the patio, swinging at Merlin Olsen Park, creamed potatoes and peas for dinner, rocking on the covered bench swing, mint chocolate chip ice cream, and playing Grandpa's card game. Her house was kept impeccably clean and the yard was always immaculate. She was extremely prompt and worried herself sick if we were just five minutes late.

Grandma Milligan happened to be visiting my family in Vernal the night me and my high school friends got caught throwing tomatoes at a house. She had been awoken, along with my parents, in the middle of the night with a phone call from the police. I was uneasy that she would be upset by the incident. The next morning at church, she teased me, "You're in big trouble." She was grinning just like she did the summer that Sam threw a sparkler high up into a dry tree in her backyard. Sam didn't win any points with Grandpa that day, but I remember that same grin on Grandma's face. A grin big enough to indicate that she was amused by the whole ordeal.

When Grandma first found out that Salt Lake City was selected as a possible venue for the 2002 Winter Olympics, she was so excited that she didn't sleep. She prayed and prayed that Salt Lake would be chosen, as she was delighted with the missionary opportunities that the Olympics would create. Her faith was strong and her prayers were always long and very specific, as she prayed for family members by name.

I spent a lot of time with my grandma throughout my college years. At first, I took her to lunch at The Bluebird or The Coppermill on Fridays. Sometimes I gave her rides to get her hair done. Then I started picking up her prescriptions from the pharmacy and taking her grocery shopping at Albertson's. I can still remember her simple list: bananas, roast beef, corn flakes, candy, green beans, applesauce, soup, milk, healthy choice frozen dinners, ice cream bars, hair spray, and batteries. She always seemed to need batteries, which she pronounced bat-tries. Soon Steve and I were preparing and eating lunch in her home every day.

As her Alzheimer's developed, so did her humor; or maybe it was just my perception of it. She loved to laugh about Dr. O'Very's name, saying that he was "oh very strange". And he was much too young to be a doctor. She frequently commented on that tall man (Steve), and how nice he was. She loved to give him an extra ice cream bar, and assure him that she wouldn't tell anyone. She sang the Davis High School fight song and told us how she learned to write with both hands. And Grandma told me that I had pretty teeth. Every single day.

Grandma Milligan lived a full life and was a hard worker. She served as a Wave in the Navy during WWII. She had seven children in just ten years, and she set an amazing record with potty-training. Grandma always spoke highly of other people, especially her children. As her memory was slipping, she worked hard to remember each of their names, who they were married to, and where they lived. She was proud of her sons, declared Kathy the hardest worker, and was always so affectionate when she referred to her youngest daughter as "my Marsha". Grandma was a wonderful mother and grandmother, and I will remember her as a wise steward over all that she was given.