Golden Birthday

I turned 28 on the 28th. I really didn't expect anything to top last year's birthday, but it was just about perfect:

Slept in till 9:00 am. (Steve did the girls' hair for school for the first time ever.)
Chick-fil-A Chicken Biscuit in bed for breakfast.
A session at the temple with my husband.
Beautiful blue skies.
A huge plate of my favorite cookies in the whole world. (No picture because they were gone too fast.)
The three-hour piano project. Yes, I got a piano!
Yellow shoes that knock me right out of the running for "What Not to Wear".
Dinner at Rickenbacker's.
A few errands on the way home, including a trip to Macey's that made me laugh. (Steve needs to go shopping more.)
Pulled over in front of our house, but no ticket. Lucky guy, he wasn't even wearing a seat belt.
Came home to a clean kitchen and all homework completed. (Thank you, Rebecca!)
Birthday cards and favorite candy bars from the kids.
Set up new tent and slept in it. (Just kidding. That would have been fun, but I don't think our house is big enough. . . )

The flowers:

The piano:

The shoes:

Thanks, everyone!


She won

We generally struggle to make it to school by 8:30 am, so when Rachel asked me if she could join her school choir, I told her no. (Choir starts at 7:20 am.)

I had seen the sign at school advertising that choir members with weekly attendance get to go to Fat Cats at the end of the school year. I told her if she was just joining so she could go to Fat Cats, I would take her there myself. She left for school crying.

Steve suggested that she write me a note saying why she wanted to be in the choir. She came home and handed me this:

She won. And she probably should have been my father's daughter.


One Word

Steve: Released from his calling as Ward Mission Leader.

Emily: Prepared with my newly-filled and treated water storage.

Derrick: Wearied from his vast array of prescribed nasal and sinus medication. (Surgery is finally scheduled.)

Rachel: Celebrated over and over and over and over again.

Lucy: Slighted Poor girl. It's really too bad they don't share a birthday.

Adam: Trained at going potty and at telling me I'm the best mom in the whole world.

Mykaeleigh: Delighted with her weekend.


Seven Years of Birthday Cakes (Sort of)

I always thought I would be the kind of mother who would make really cute birthday cakes for my kids on their birthdays. It looks like I was successful for one year: the Froot Loop cake.

I was probably encouraged to quit after this embarrassing cake from Rachel's second birthday. (It was supposed to be a cow.)

On Rachel's third birthday, there was no cake. I was pregnant and, subsequently, sick. I was lucky to get the girls dressed and over to Cafe Sabor for a little celebration. I was even luckier that someone had just left without their Happy Birthday balloons.

Gloria let Rachel pick out this princess cake for her fourth birthday. I think we still have the Cinderella from the top. And Lucy's tongue is probably still be blue from all of the food coloring.

For Rachel's fifth birthday, she requested a butterFLY cake to be eaten when she went to iFLY. Thank you, Albertson's bakery.

Last year, we went tubing at Snowbasin for Rachel's birthday. I didn't take a picture of the doughnuts.

My cousin, Maggie, made this gourmet blackberry cheesecake for Rachel's birthday today. I let her eat a little piece before she went to school this morning. Believe me, if you had a cheesecake this good in your fridge, you would do the same thing. Now I can probably get away with swiping a little sliver to eat myself before she gets home.

Angie, now you can see why Rachel really liked the idea of you making the cake for Ballard Family Dinner.


See Baby Discriminate

I was going to post this article from Newsweek on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, but forgot.

I think it's quite good. Here are some interesting points:

"We all want our children to be unintimidated by differences and have the social skills necessary for a diverse world. The question is, do we make it worse, or do we make it better, by calling attention to race?"

"Children naturally try to categorize everything, and the attribute they rely on is that which is the most clearly visible. We might imagine we're creating color-blind environments for children, but differences in skn color or hair or weight are like differences in gender--they're plainly visible."

"The more diverse the school, the more the kids self-segregate by race and ethnicity within the school."

"The odds of a white high-schooler in America having a best friend of another race is only 8 percent. . . For blacks, the odds aren't much better: 85 percent of black kids' best friends are also black."

"Is it really so difficult to talk with children about race when they're very young? . . . parents are very comfortable talking to their children about gender, and they work very hard to counterprogram against boy-girl stereotypes. That ought to be our model for talking about race. The same way we remind our daughters, "Mommies can be doctors just like daddies," we ought to be telling all children that doctors can be any skin color. It's not complicated what to say. It's only a matter of how often we reinforce it."

"Shushing children when they make an improper remark is an instinctive reflex, but often the wrong move."

"Frequent predictions of future discrimination ironically become as destructive as experiences of actual discrimination."



Steve got Action Zone Passes for the DEW TOUR, so on Saturday, we rode the shuttle bus up to Snowbasin to watch the Freeski Superpipe Finals. And since my nephew, Jake, has recently decided he is going to grow up and be a snowboarder in the Winter Olympics, we figured he probably needed to go with us. Gracie's attendance was required for logistics (Rachel), and I even talked Angie into coming.

The sky was blue and the air was clean. It was so nice to be outside. It was also wonderful to go without Adam. (Thanks, Mom.)

We hiked up the sides of the Superpipe and watched the skiers come down and do their tricks right in front of us.

Steve told me he would give me twenty bucks if I could get a picture of it. (Harder than it sounds because I was also trying to help kids balance on top of backpacks for optimal viewing position, and it was kind of difficult to figure out where the skiers were going to hit with your eye behind a camera.) Not the best, but still, I think he owes me some money.

There were about twenty companies with large yurt/tents who were giving away all sorts of promotional items. The kids were so distracted by all of the free stuff that they didn't want to spend too much time watching the skiers. We now have enough Dew Tour stickers, lanyards, and posters to open up a small gift shop.

The picture on the left shows Gracie and Lucy sledding down the mountain on their Toyota signs. Just after this picture was taken, we told them they were done sledding and Lucy threw a huge tantrum. Not so pleasant, but good for Steve to witness the everyday joys of parenting that he usually misses out on while he's at work.

And the picture on the right. . . well, I just couldn't resist.

More pictures from Angie here. And Molly's pictures from Friday can be seen here.


Jed's Open House/Concert/Birthday Party and the Meeting of Famous People

Last night I took Rachel and Lucy to the Peter Breinholt Songwriter in the Round Concert that was held next door, at Jefferson Square. Ever since we went to Fred Garbo and got his autograph, they always ask, "Is anyone famous going to be there?" and "Can we meet them?"

Sonora Grill provided the hors d'oeuvres for the guests and dinner for the performers. Rachel and Lucy served drinks to the singers. Check mark.

We sat next to Rebecca in the balcony. Rachel and Lucy laughed hysterically through Ryan Shupe's songs about "Baldy, the Kitten" and "Corndog" and can't wait to download them on their ipods. As if that wasn't enough, they also got to participate in the indoor snowball fight during intermission, stayed late to eat Jed's birthday cake, and even got to take home Sno-Yos from one of the shops set up downstairs.

What a night. Lucky girls. Lucky us. We live in a pretty neat place with pretty amazing neighbors.


My boy

Has been difficult lately. I've tried just about everything, and have decided that the solution is quite simple. He needs more time outside and less time inside, where he climbs up, and then subsequently, jumps down off EVERYTHING.

Too bad it's so cold (and hazy) outside.

Since there are still many months of bitter temperatures to come, I need to find more ways to keep him active inside, without destroying our home. Any suggestions?

He is enjoying the new slide Mykaeleigh got for her birthday, but I'm thinking our next house needs one of these stair slides, as seen on Say Yes to Hoboken.


Ice Skating

In a very bizarre turn of events, Steve lifted his lifelong ban of ice skating and decided to accompany us (me, my friend, Jess, Derrick, and 7 kids) to the Ice Sheet this afternoon. He never once fell the six feet, six inches down to the cold, hard ice below, so maybe he can be persuaded to go with us again sometime in the future.

And since these pictures all look like they were taken with an iPhone, let's just pretend they were.

We considered leaving Adam home with Steve, but since Adam had more fun than the rest of our kids, I sure am glad we took him. There's something about having no fear and being too young to complain about uncomfortable skates.

I think if I were to do things over again, I would only take one kid at a time for their first (and probably second) experience ice skating. There were LOTS of skates to tie, retie looser, take off, get different sizes, put back on, tie, take off for a break, put back on, tie again, and finally take off. It was Kylie's third time ice skating, and she was pretty independent. This is all very good information to consider as we plan to teach our kids how to ski.

Add in pizza and hot chocolate from Doolittle's Deli and the girls had the time of their life. "As good as a birthday party?" I asked Rachel.

"No, way better!" she exclaimed.

Darn. I should have capitalized on that.


Third Wheel

So do you think the hostess will think it's odd when Debra calls to make a reservation for five on Valentine's. (Actually, it's the night before. That should help.)

Do you think that it's odd that I let her talk me into it?

I guess I'm just accepting it as part of life. My life. The same life that included me returning home from meetings the other night to reports of Adam urinating in the bathtub, Lucy squashing a spider all over Rachel's homework, and Adam throwing up SpaghettiOs all over Lucy. I'm not even going to talk about what happened today.


A New Stage

This picture was taken one year ago. My boy likes his (actually, his sisters') BabyLegs.

I never did buy him his own.

If you haven't discovered BabyLegs yet, you should. If you are crafty, you can make your own. If you are thrifty, you can order them from China on eBay. And if you are normal, you can buy them locally at Little Cherry Blossoms.

But onto the good news and the reason for the diaper picture:

I haven't changed a smelly diaper for a full week. Seven days. And that, my friends, wasn't even Adam's.


Christmas Break

Relief Society. Dinner. Ham. Potatoes. Carrots. Gingerbread. Mykaeleigh. Salt Lake City. Discovery Gateway. Derrick. Gap. Anthropologie. Birthday. Party. Presents. Slide. Toys. Book. Cupcakes. Candles. Pictures. Highchair. Treehouse Museum. Church. Melissa Campbell. Family. Pictures. Kids. Chairs. Pizza. Doolittle's Deli. Christmas Cards. Addresses. Sonora Grill. Salsa. Snow. Lunch. Rickenbacker's. Shopping. Jasmine Freed. Gingerbread House. Sick. Medicine. Chicken Noodle Soup. Sleepover. Grandma Jean. Wrapping Paper. Christmas Eve. Theft. Porch. Alarm. Batteries. Walmart. Crystal Hot Springs. Mineral. Water. Salt. Steam. Mykaeleigh. Fingers. Adam. Swim. Capri Suns. Pringles. Home Teaching. Neighbors. Lights. Christmas Books. New Testament. Luke. Morning. Picture. Stairs. Presents. Stockings. Nintendo Wii. Blanket. Leapfrog Didj. Scarf. Earrings. Steve. Surprise. MacBook. Ebelskivers. Nutella. Baby Food. North Ogden. Malouf Family. Lunch. Pocket Bread. Soup. Treats. Nativity. Mary. Wiseman. Angel. Sleeping Bags. Rocket Stove. Ballard Family. Board Games. Ham. Potatoes. Text Messages. Rockband. Umbrellas. Games. Books. Bowling. Home. Edwards. Party. Church. Soup. Dessert. Soda. $5. Game. Kids. Popcorn Popper. Lesson. Alma Chapter 32. Megaplex 13. Sherlock Holmes. Popcorn. Craft. Angie Wirick. Ellie. Birthday Party. Pizza Factory. Princess & the Frog. Craft Day. Alvin & the Chipmunks. Babysitter. Layton. Returns. New Year's Eve. Cousins. Party. Hats. Noisemakers. Pizza. Movie. Buttons. Pop Rocks. Sparkling Cider. Midnight. Sleepover. Pancakes. Wii Sports. iFLY. Molly Jones. Primary. Breakfast. Teachers. Lesson. Experiment. Seed. Apples. Letter. Ballard Family Sunday. Roast. Potatoes. Brownies. Laundry. Bills. Family Home Evening. Old Testament. Video. Bed. Alarm Clock.

It's Over.


New Year's Eve Party

Unfortunately, this is the best group picture I got. (Good thing everyone already knows how cute India is.) It was tricky enough to get them to all sit on the stairs at the same time. There were a few more cousins at this year's party than there were last year.

These girls would have posed all day for me. . .

Sam wins the happiest kid on earth award. And Adam wins the two-year-old-who-stayed-up-the-latest award (1:30 am).

This picture was taken at some magical moment when all twelve pairs of eyes were glued to the movie.


My favorite part of the party were the late-night Pop Rock candy eating countdowns. Wish I would have captured Steve's on video.

Happy New Year!


Happy Anniversary

to this blog.

I can't believe it's only been one year since I had to post my concession speech.

Thank you, Rebecca, Bridgett, and Angie, for your unrelenting efforts.

This is, by far, the best documented year of my life. And I never could have imagined how many old friends would be restored to current friends through the world of blogging.

Special thanks to so many others for writing blogs that inspire, inform, entertain, intrigue, impress, and teach me so many wonderful things! (Like this marinara sauce recipe that I enjoyed for dinner.)

I hope that's not weird that I just posted a link to a blog, and the author doesn't even know me. Maybe someday I will meet Carly. And she can teach me how to sew.