Some new traditions

This Thanksgiving, in addition to the pre-existing traditions of:

Delicious turkey dinner, mostly prepared by Steve's mom and sister.

Fun games, played at the kitchen table. (Scattergories is still my favorite, even after a 15-year hiatus.)

Black Friday shopping trip with all of the girls. (9 hours long. We are hardcore.)

Ogden's Electric Light Parade and lighting of the Christmas Village. (This year we were smart and saved ourselves some seats. Please indicate whether you think saving seats along a parade route is acceptable. I am very curious to know what people think.)

We also added:

Scrooge at the Terrace Playhouse. (Very good. I even got to explain to my 6-year old what a "lady of the late afternoon" was.)


Drumroll, please. . . The First Annual Ballard Family Kickball Game!

Top row: Mike, Jack, Addy, Rio, Cameron, Karen, Tyson, Tyler
Bottom row: Angie, Jake, Derrick, Rachel, Steve
Not pictured: Gracie, Richard (the pitcher), me

Planned for months, and inspired by Lucy and Jake, we all enjoyed a rousing game of kickball at our Stake Gym. There were unbelievable dives (Tyler) and nobody (Derrick) held back from forcefully hurling the ball at the girls to get them out.

Addy is Angie's sister. She and her husband came and played with us because they wanted to. And when Addy wants to do something, (like run out onto the field after a RSL soccer game) it's pretty hard to stop her.

This year, we picked two teams and played against ourselves. Next year, we are thinking we should play together as "Team Ballard" and allow another family to challenge us. Any takers?



Steve broke up with Comcast on Monday when he very uncharacteristically yelled at them over the phone, "Get someone back over here to fix our cable tonight, or we are DONE!" And then he very uncharacteristically hung up on them.

I reconciled with Comcast today after I got sick of watching Wheel of Fortune and other lame shows.

Lucy's fever finally went away. After twelve days. Her lab results came back today and she was diagnosed with Cytomegalovirus (CMV), which is similar to mono. She is recovering slowly. Too slowly for my liking.

Rachel had perfect timing the night she secretly drew me this picture on Saturday night to cheer me up. I'm pretty lucky to have such a sweet daughter.


Bad timing, Comcast

We have now made 7 phone calls, 1 online live chat, 1 trip to Layton to pick up new equipment, and had 4 technicians come to our house.

Yes, our internet is working again.
Yes, we can now watch television on 25 television channels.
Yes, Comcast will be sending a 5th technician to our house on Monday to fix the other channels so we can get back to watching our favorite shows on the Disney Channel, the Food Network, and ESPN.
No, I am not impressed. Nor do I think I should have to pay my Comcast bill this month.

It's been bad timing, since I've been stuck at home with daughter #2 who has something other than strep, H1N1, the seasonal flu, or meningitis.


Dear Friends

I do not wish to offend anyone.

(Good thing my sister-in-law already did.)

I like to look at blogs late at night. When it's quiet. Sometimes I skip blogs that aren't.


Home Schooled at the Kitchen Counter

Much like other mornings, Rachel and Lucy begged me to let them add sugar to their pre-sweetened cereal. Since we weren't in a hurry to get to school, and there was no need to bribe them to eat fast, I denied their request.

They didn't believe that their MultiGrain Cheerios already had sugar in them, so I taught them how to read the the Nutrition Facts on the side of the box. We discovered their bowls of cereal already contained 6 grams (about 1.5 teaspoons) of sugar. They got really excited and proceeded to compare sugar measurements in different cereals. (Every single box we had in the pantry.)

Rachel put the boxes in ascending order from Cheerios (1 gram) to Frosted Mini Wheats (12 grams). And then she realized why her three favorite cereals are Frosted Flakes, Corn Pops, and Frosted Mini Wheats.

Rachel was enjoying her second day home from school (stomach ache) and Lucy was playing hooky (fake stomach ache), so I was happy to have contributed to their education.

Because then I sent them off to watch cartoons for the day.


Spiral Jetty

I am sad to see an uncommonly warm November turn cold.

(Steve is probably hopeful that I will start working more and playing less.)

I am glad we fit in one last adventure while it was still beautiful outside.

Here we are at the Spiral Jetty with Molly and Rebecca. I'm a fan of going places with photographers. I didn't even have to take my camera.


I wish I could take pictures like these:

But I am so lucky to have a wonderful sister who lives nearby who can. And does. Even when she has to come to my house and convince me to go. Even when there is lots of crying in the background. Even when we get to the park with less than fifteen minutes of sunlight left.

I was commenting/complaining about the uncooperative/loud kids. She told me, "Just think. You will be able to cherish these photos forever. And every time you look at them, you will laugh when you remember all of the screaming in the background."

I think I will.

Thanks for the beautiful pictures, Rebecca. They may have convinced me to tag along on your next adventure :)

Babysitters with Bright Hair

I typed this up a while ago (October 1) and I accidentally saved it as a draft instead of posting it. Rachel's hair is a bit longer now. And I think Jasmine's hair is now orange.

I have a knack for finding really good babysitters. We have had three main ones over the last five years, and each of them have been exceptional. I called Megan at ten-thirty one night to come over and put Rachel and Lucy to bed. I was pregnant and in bad shape. Steve couldn't come home from work and I couldn't stop throwing up long enough to take care of the girls myself. She hurried over with her mom. They rescued my semi-neglected kids and cleaned my kitchen. Megan came back a couple days later with a "coupon book" full of offers to do my dishes, iron ten shirts, and even bake us a pie.

Our next babysitter, Rachael, saved our family the summer Adam was a newborn and I had surgery. She didn't just watch the girls, she baked cookies, ran errands for me, and cleaned the house. Not just tidied, immaculafied, if that were a word. She did everything. She even helped me with projects like the time I thought it was a good idea to make 150 handmade leather journals for the stake pioneer "trek". The girls think it's Christmas when she comes down to babysit on the weekends every once in a while.

Our current babysitter, who happens to be named Jasmine (not Mykaeleigh's mother) hasn't disappointed us either. The girls love her because she plays princess, fashion model, curls their hair, paints their nails, and even dances to High School Musical songs with them. A couple days ago I found Rachel's handwritten list of all the things she wanted to do the next time Jasmine came. Loved it.

We feel pretty fortunate to have had such great babysitters. Not only have I thoroughly appreciated the temporary freedom from my kids, I also feel lucky to have such great role models for my girls. I think all three of them have even humored Rachel and her text messages. . . Now, onto the story about the colorful hair. . .

Jasmine has a section of her hair dyed purple. I think it is very tastefully done, in the back, beneath most of her other hair. Rachel has been in love with the purple hair for a long time, just as she is with most-other-things-Jasmine. When we were in Phoenix, and the girls were getting their haircut, the stylist had a section of her hair dyed, so I asked her about it. She cocked her head and looked at me like I was an idiot. For your kids? (Hey, I was just asking.)

And then she explained that in order to get your hair to hold color like that, you first have to bleach it until it is almost white. It would pretty much ruin their hair. She pointed over to the colored hair clips. That, she said, is what you use for kids. They were $10 each and there was even a sale: buy two, get one free. We walked out with three beautiful colors: blue, purple, and orange.

The clips are very disguisable, and when put in correctly, can hardly be detected. Rachel and Lucy have had a delightful time tricking everyone into thinking they had dyed their hair. (Steve didn't even seem bothered.) We are very lucky, however, that they are only clips. Rachel wore her blue one (to match her uniform) to school and was immediately, but quietly, told to remove it from her hair. Extreme hair colors and styles are against the rules.

So there you have it. Good babysitters are out there and so are colorful hair clips to satisfy your six-year-old who wishes she were sixteen.


New Nephew

I am thinking my new nephew looks a bit like Adam did when he was born:

(Baby Malouf)

(Adam, 2007)

(Baby Malouf)

(Adam, 2007)

I've always regretted that I didn't take more pictures of Adam when he was born, so maybe I will just print some of the new baby out and pretend they are Adam :)

Today, I am wishing I could sneak into the hospital and hold that cute little baby for a minute and give my sister-in-law a hug.


Four Little Lions

Rachel (2003), Lucy (2004), Adam (2007), Mykaeleigh (2009)

This is the best shot we got of the kids before we went to the ward Chili Cook-Off and Trunk-or-Treat. Look at Rachel's face.
Adam (ninja), Sydney (Chinese princess), Rachel (witch), Mykaeleigh (lion), Lucy (princess), Talmage (ninja)