Our Ballroom Babe

Madeleine joined the school’s ballroom team this year. She loved every minute of it! With her mix of choreography memorization skills and theatric pizzazz, she wowed Rob and I every time she got on the dance floor.

She went to practice twice a week before school and practiced in our family room every afternoon. She loved going to competitions and really enjoyed being part of a team.

Her team did really well and went to state (which is where Rob and I had our first encounter with a real dance mom…Scary and yet so hard to look away!).

We are so impressed with her instructors and are grateful that they work so hard to give these kids an amazing experience.

Madeleine had quite the birthday this year. She decided months earlier that she wanted to use her present and party budget (and saved her own money) and stay overnight in a hotel with her cousin. We had a lot of fun! Since the hotel was mostly paid for with points, she was able to choose some fun activities to do including going to Classic Fun Center, a movie, and Build-a-Bear.

When we arrived back at home, she found her sister had made a surprise for her…rice krispie treat hedgehogs!


Although her celebration had already been a blast, Rob and I decided to throw her a surprise party anyway…at SWIG! It was a swinging success!

While we are on the subject of Madeleine, I have a funny story:

Madeleine and I had a dentist appointment this week. She has a cavity and I have one from a couple of years ago that needs to be redone. She really wasn’t looking forward to it. The day came and I was still congested and getting over a cold. I decided to reschedule and when I called they asked if I wanted to reschedule Madeleine’s as well. “Why yes, let’s do that,” I said.

Madeleine came home from school and immediately started crying because she was so nervous. I broke the good news to her and said we were going to sneak away to go shopping together instead. Well now that cheered her right up, of course! So off we went to the Outlets.

She requested mini pretzels and we sat down on a bench in the lovely sun eating them together. I remarked, “This is nice!” She responded,

“Yep! I would be sitting in a chair with a weird man hovering over me,

but instead I’m sitting on a bench…eating pretzels…

like a BOSS!”

I laughed pretty hard and told her I love how funny she is. She says “I know. It’s one of my great qualities.”

Sure is!

Nate’s 9th Birthday

Hi There!

Late last year Nate had another birthday (can’t believe it). He really wanted a scooter so we grabbed him one and he really loves it. Nate chose to take a car load of friends to classic skating for his party. Nate and his friends had a blast; they scootered, laser tagged, blast zoned, ate some really gross pizza, and had a great time.

A few days later we got together with family and Nate’s cousins. It was cold outside so we had everyone over to the church with their scooters, bouncy balls, and a pile of plastic cups. Check out this video that I made of the festivities. Fast forward to the end if you just want to see all the kids fly through the stacked cups in slow motion. Link in case you can’t see the video.


So what is Nate up to these days? Nate is participating in the knowledge bowl at school. Nate has spent a lot of time on this. In the fall his group met once per week after school. This year he has been meeting with his group twice per week and will be for the next several weeks. This is a considerable amount of effort for a 8–9 year old and we are incredibly proud of him.

Nate is learning to snowboard this year. We hit the sledding hill to get started. Lately, I’ve taken him up to the Bird. Once we just rode the magic carpet and last time we hit the bunny hill for a few runs. Nate is improving quickly. I think after the next time he’ll be turning both ways like a champ. Here’s to his continued success.

Nate at the Bird

Other things he’s got going on? He recently wrote an essay (for school) about what it means to be a good friend. One of the first things he suggested is that a good friend should be able to play a lot. In that spirit Nate is huge on his play time. Lego, scooter, minecraft, nova, science, and space. This kid loves to have fun. And we love him so much.

Caroline Turns 4

Our little Caroline is blossoming. This is her @ 4.


  • She has turned into a chatterbox. I love hearing her little voice and the silly things she says.
  • The quickest way to get her out of a bad mood is to joke around with her. She will immediately perk up and joke along with you. 
  • She has a big gummy, toothy smile.
  • Changes outfits 4-6 times a day. Loves playing dress up.
  • Can’t live without her best friend. When it’s been too long without playing with her she mopes on the floor and whines, “I need Edyn” over and over again. 
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  • Can count to 10 but is still working on her alphabet. I’ve noticed that she is quite intelligent for her age when it comes to conceptual thinking. 
  • She is very stubborn but you can get her to do anything, anything, when bribed with a small treat. She is our little sugar maven.
  • Gets along very well with her brother and sister. 
  • Has always had very strong motor skills. She can climb like a monkey.
  • She still struggles with separation from me sometimes. Primary and gymnastics are tough for her some days. Other days it’s not a problem at all.
  • Has a very beautiful singing voice.
Her birthday party this year was themed “Captain Zarina: Pirate Fairy.” It’s the newest Tinkerbell movie. We played games outside, used tiny toothpick swords to pop balloons filled with candy, and mixed pixie dust drinks.

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The big hit of the day was our Walk the Plank game. After normal walking we challenged the kids to walk backwards, skip, spin, jump rope, and even cartwheel. They did this for a very long time and then it turned into a dance party. So funny what a simple piece of wood placed over a kiddie pool will do!

Thanks to everyone who came and helped her have a great time! We love our Caroline!

From This to That in 6 Short Years

I can hardly believe this beautiful newborn
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has turned into this beautiful young lady!

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At 6 years old, Madeleine enjoys:
Mac ‘n Cheese
Gymnastics (she’s worked very hard on her cartwheel)
Giving instructions and directions
Playing with her friend Sydney almost every single day
Carrying her cat around
BoUnCiNg and flipping her hair all over the place!
Wrestling with her brother and dad
Her primary teachers
Convincing her brother and sister that she is always right and they should do what she wants them to do
Giving Family Home Evening
Teasing Rob and I right back when we try to tease her
Doing anything with Nate but she gets a special enjoyment out of frustrating him. It makes me snicker.
Kindergarten and all the activities and friends that come along with it.
Party Planning

Like I listed, Madeleine LOVES planning parties. She has been planning this years birthday party since her last one. I decided to let her fully take the reigns on this one because I knew she’d be totally into it. All I had to do was sit back and enjoy 🙂

She had long ago decided on a “Late Night” theme.  She told me how she wanted the invite to look and I did my best.

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Then I gave her a budget and took her to the party store to buy whatever decorations, games, and goodies that she wanted. She mostly decided on prizes and things to give to her guests but she also chose a fancy centerpiece and some balloons.

I gave her a couple of ideas for activities but she largely came up with everything herself. First they all sang their little hearts out to Let it Go. It was seriously impressive and was my favorite moment of the evening. It gave me goosebumps. The video is dark but you can hear most of the 13 girls in attendance singing. You can also skip forward a little and it gets lighter.

Then they opened presents because it’s her party and she wanted to do that first. Then they ate. She wanted…a PEEP cake!! There is no cake under there. All peeps all the time.

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The birthday song was funny.

She decided to have a stuffed animal fashion show. The girls dressed them up in all the fashionable stuff we have and they introduced them on the stage. Madeleine gave out medals to each stuffed animal for things like “Best Fashion” and “Most Cute”.

After that they all played and sang before we turned on Frozen and skipped to all the best parts. We went through 10 bags of popcorn.

Overall? BEST party ever!

I think I’m going to let her plan and carry it out from now on. She has such a knack for it and really enjoyed the freedom to do what she wanted to do. Plus, it was way less stressful for me trying to make everything cutesy and perfect because it already was!

It’s a Half

We celebrate half birthdays in our family. We don’t really make it too big a deal but the kids sure feel like it is! We get a small gift, make their favorite dinner and dessert, and they get out of doing their daily chore. They sure enjoy being celebrated!

Today Madeleine is 5 1/2. For dinner she chose tortellini. Dessert is ice cream sundaes. For her gift I put together her very own sewing kit. Lately she’s been into making dresses for her stuffed animals but I only had left over decorating fabric scraps on hand and my supplies. She hasn’t complained but I thought she’d enjoy having some stuff of her very own. Now she has a big bag full of suitable fabric and ribbon and tools her own size.

She has been so grateful all day. She told me, “Now I will never be bored ever again!” She has plans with her friends to sew up a storm as soon as they get home from school. This makes me so pleased. I love that Madeleine has a desire to create. It makes her so happy to come up with an idea, work on it, and present it to someone she loves. 





Grandmother Allred’s Party

My Grandma Allred moved back to the area after living away for too many years. We are happy she is close again and we get to visit with her at all the family get-togethers. Madeleine seems to be particularly happy about this.

For her birthday, my mom wanted each family to get a picture with her.

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Here are some other candid shots from the evening.

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We love grandma!!

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Madeleine’s 5th

Madeleine had such a fun birthday this year. She invited tons of friends to her party and they rocked it!

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During the planning stages, Madeleine changed her theme a few times. First, she was dead set on Hello Kitty. Then it was Periwinkle (from the new Tinkerbell movie). I don’t remember the next one but she finally decided on ponies. We were pretty late in the game by this point so I sent out pony invites but the party itself wasn’t really themed. Not that she noticed or cared.


After dancing, we did play-doh. Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

Then we had cupcakes and ice cream. I thought the cupcakes were cute. She insisted on having cotton candy for her treat so I saw this idea on Pinterest to top the cupcake with a ball of it and it looked just like a truffula tree (from the Lorax).

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Gifts were opened. Actually, gifts upon gifts were opened. I guess that’s what happens when you have so many guests! She loved them all!

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Next we did makeup and a hair accessory.

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Then went outside to blow bubbles and fly her new Periwinkle toy.

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I meant to have us send Thank You cards to everyone but I never got them out. So here’s a belated, lazy, yet completely sincere Thank You to you all!!!

ps. Parents of girls at the party are welcome to see more pics and videos here.

Stacy’s 50th Birthday Party

A little while ago I had the pleasure of being present for my Aunt’s surprise birthday party. It was put on by her siblings and they did a great job putting it all together. What fun it was to surprise her and let her know how much we all love her. I was able to snap a few photos. Hope you enjoy they photos. Glad you had a great birthday Stacy.

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Mom’s 60th

If I didn’t know my mom turned 60, I’d never guess it. My sister Karen decided we should throw her a party to celebrate the occasion. Colleen made the cake.

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We thought it would be fun and special to get a one-on-one picture of her with each of the family members who were present.


With dad.


With Julie.


With Rob.With Nate.


With Madeleine.


With Caroline.


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With Tyler.Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug


With Kaithen.Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug


With Raiden.
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With Ty.
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With Colten.
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With Karen.
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With Jake.
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With Jordin.
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With Allen.
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With Emma.
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With Mark.
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With Racheal.
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With Kaylee.
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With Aiden.
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With Teresa.
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With Chase.
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With Justin.
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With Addison.
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With Michael.
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With Elizabeth.
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Unfortunately, not everyone was able to make it and we missed them!! We’ll have to do more pictures at the next family get-together.

More birthday pictures are HERE.