Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Traditions . . . Christmas Eve Jammies

Christmas Eve Jammies are a tradition in our house.  It started as a cute little prelude to Christmas when there were only two kids & I was vain enough to think that Christmas morning photos and having kids 'match' was important.
Christmas Eve Jammies have now evolved to a special family tradition.  The kids know that alot of thought and shopping go into purchasing their jammies . . . it's the sort of gift that makes us all happy!  There were flannel bottoms and a waffle thermal for Big, cotton bottoms for Middle in her favorite colors with a silky shirt by Hot Chili Peppers, footie jams for Mimi complete with a monkey in a santa cap & something themed and  unmistakably BOY for Little (this year . . . Star Wars Lego).  They rip into their Christmas Eve jammie boxes with excitment that should be bottled and sold by prescription.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Skiing 2010

Skiing 2010

Four kids, two adults, two dogs, house-sitter, condo, grocery shopping, ski lessons, lift tickets, helmets, warm socks . . . the list goes on and on and on.

Still . . . skiing is a large part of who we are.  MOTH was a ski patrolman for a long, long time, and spent many long days and even longer days tromping around in ski boots.  He's a gear-head of the highest order, and actually really LIKED outfitting all of our munchkins in winter gear suitable for subzero weather.  I grew up skiing at the southern ski areas  . . those not built for comfort.  It was cold and I didn't have great socks.  But it was more fun than a barrel of monkeys and it was the stuff that built my memories. 

At any rate, no matter how much we reminisce or think back to OUR youth, skiing has changed!  Lift ticket prices are at least triple.  Ski school is serious business.  Helmets are required.  Resorts are closer, ticket lines are longer, lifts are faster . . . and, honestly, the shopping is way, way, way better.  So, in December 2010, we made our first family ski trip.  The big kids did all day lessons.  It was SO, SO different from the way MOTH and I learned (ie:  point them downhill and don't get scared!!)  The kids took to skiing like ducks to water.  While they spent the day skiing, MOTH took off on his own to tear up his old stompin' ground.  Mimi and I rented a sled and took it out on the town.  A good time was had by all.    Here are the pictures to prove it . . . .

Thursday, December 23, 2010

"We're engaged."

Thirteen years ago tonight, MOTH popped the question . . .

Amazing . . .


I awoke this morning with a grocery list running through my mind.  Well, I'm not sure "running" is the right word.  More like all the things on the list were ping pong balls banging against the sides of the inside of my skull.  No organization.  No list.  No rhyme or reason. 

Never before have I let last minute shopping sneak up on me like this. 
Never before have I HAD to be at a grocery store on December 23rd.

So, I started today with a steamy mug of hazelnut, a sharpie pen and a green sheet of paper.   And this is what came out.  I'm blogging it tonight because (Gawd forbid, such disorganization happen again next year . . . I'll remember to come back to this post!)

Meat (do we REALLY need meat?)
Veggie (can I count a salad as a veggie)
Caesar Salad Stuff -- romaine, dressing, croutons, shredded parm
Middle wants Mashies & Gravy - done.  That stuff is in the pantry.
Little wants mac & cheese.  (Really?  So different from the once per week fare here at Elle's house of microwave entrees.)
Rolls (MOTH wants my signature annual contribution . .  I do, too.  It's a tradition worth keeping.)

Simplified, it's shaping up to be a carb-a-licious meal.  Mmm.

Middle wants pumpkin pie.
Little wants a giant cookie instead of a birthday cookie.
They think Santa needs a sampler platter.  Middle wants to try her hand at fudge.  Big's voting for Snickerdoodles.  And they all think Santa  will be keen on the old standby:  Mama's Mouthwatering , World-Famous, Tried & True Chocolote Chip Cookies.

Middle loves the "snack tray".  She got ahold of the shopping list and added "baby corns, black olives and dippy stuff"

We have a birthday tradition around our house.  The birthday person gets to pick breakfast.  It's been that way, well . . . forever.  Usually, Christmas breakfast is an easy one.  This year, Little's voting for my homemade Cinnamon Rolls. 

Does anyone see a trend?  Lots of baking . . . . uh, hello holiday pounds!

Christmas is supposed to be close to 60 degrees.  MOTH made an executive decision.  We're grilling.   Ribeyes.  And I bought 4 pounds of king crab legs.  Yum.  Caesar salad.  Mashies for Middle.  Rolls.  Yum.  Add to that the holiday baking and birthday cookie making -- and there's the recipe for holiday fun in our house!  The baking row at King Soopers today was complete cart jam.  It was absolute gridlock in the spices.  A man actually ran into me to get to the evaporated milk.  Grocery shopping when you say, "sorry, excuse me, sorry, excuse me" is no fun.  I'll remember that for next year .  . . .

Time to go . . . It's my turn to play bass on rock band . . .

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

"Me and Moo-Moo Playing Babies"

An eerie silence fell over the house this afternoon.

I called upstairs, "Mimi, what cha doing?"

She replied, "Me and Moo-Moo playing babies."

After another long silence, I snuck up to make sure they were okay.

This is what I found:

Nine . . . . I can hardly believe it!!

December 19th, 2001.  It was 12:57 pm.  Labor was awful.  It was nearly a c-section.   She was tiny and blue and purple.  She was 18 inches long.  Five pounds 11 ounces.  And blue.  So, so, very blue.  It was snowing.  And freezing cold.  The kind of nasty, blowing grapply snow that freezes you to the bones.  Brrr.  She was born in Room 19.  She was early . . . . almost 5 weeks early.  Once she was cleaned up, she had this fuzzy coat of blond hair, all uniform in growth.  It stuck straight up off of her head like a chia-pet.  She came home the next day wearning preemie clothes and snoozing.  Baby number 2 is the comparison child.  I remember looking at her blond, blond hair and her round, round face and marveling at how different and perfectly unique she was.   Correction:  IS. 

I love this shirt.  She spends a lot of time wearning it.  She's not short.  She's fun size!!

On her birthday list:  "a REAL CC jersey -- that I can wear to games."  She was over the moon to open this one!!

Mimi is also known as "Shadow".  She follows Middle everywhere and spends ALOT of time doing exactly what Middle does.  They look alot alike and have very similar temperments, too.   Oh, I almost forgot:  Inside the big box was the other thing (there were two) on her birthay list:  A memory foam mattress topper. 

This picture captures the essence of our busy kitchen!  It's a mess on the surface, but really a happy place full of lots of laughing people!    Look at that weather in the middle of December!!  I could have moved the nail polish, proactive delivery, cereal box . . . taken down some of the family launch pad stuff . . . but I didn't.  I like it.  And I love Middle in her NEW birthday LEO!!  It looks stunning . . .

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, Middle!! Nine of the best years of my life!! (Yours, too, I bet, huh?)

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Graham Cracker Houses

One of our annual holiday traditions begins with the construction phase. 
Graham Crackers + Hot Glue = Sturdy & Sound Structure suitable for giant globs of royal icing & multiple layers of candy decorations.

Frosting . . . . My easy royal frosting recipe is this:  Whip four egg whites and the juice from 1/2 a clementine (or a lemon, or whatever citrus thing you have) on medium speed until it starts to get frothy.  Then add, one cup at a time, a whole bunch of powdered sugar (about half a bag . . so about 4 cups).  It's more of a consistancy thing than a measuring thing (like all of my fine kitchen recipes).  So, when it's heavy and thick, that's right.  It should be thicker than cake batter, but not as thick as cookie dough.  Add a splash of vanilla.  At our house, I scoop a big spoonful into ziploc sandwich bags, zip the top, clip the corner and let them pipe and lick right out of the bag.

Big's house this year is more of an outhouse than a gingerbread style.  It could also be a condo or apartment . . . .

Mmm.  A little bit on the house, a little in my mouth . . . .

Intense concentration working with tootsie rolls to create a log cabin.  She also had a wonderful snowman made out of lollipop.

These two teamed up to work on the BIG house.  Mimi is a really good candy unwrapper.  She also made a forest in the backyard out of tree pretzels.  Middle worked on a starbust chimney & lots of little details like a nerd for a doorknob! 

Finished products.  They were moved up HIGH moments later to prevent Moose from indulging in a very sweet snack.  

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Sash & Survivor

Anyone watching Survivor this season? 

Watching an hour of On Demand Survivor is a huge treat to Big & Middle.  We usually save it up for weekend viewing.  We pop popcorn & snuggle in with blankets to catch up on past episodes.  Last week's episode was the always emotional family member episode.  I was especially touched at those young boys (Sash, Fabio & Chase) with their mommas.  It was tender & very sweet.  I actually got a little verclempt at Dan & his son.  Watching that young man smooch on his dad made my insides go mushy.  It was awesome.  Just awesome.

There was a divine line on Survivor this week that has been ringing in my head like a gong.  Somewhere in the family interviews, Jeff Probst asks Sash about growing up in his home, and Sash replies in the most put together, fantastic, eloquent way,

"Ya know, growing up, we didn't much money, but we had a lot of love.  Being out here makes me realize that's all you need in life . . . love to help you get by."

Tears were in my eyes.  What a brilliant statement.  Wise, really.  And the kind of worldly knowledge that rich kids don't have.  When a kid grows up rich, they miss out on a lot of things, alot of experiences, alot of benefits.  I am certain, I am positive, I am absoltely convinced that growing up with money can be a handicap.  Flourishing, growing, being a success as an adolescent, teen & adult has nothing do to with money.  It doesn't take money to be happy.  It doesn't take money to have a happy childhood.  Money doesn't buy happiness. 

Go Sash!!  Let's hear it for the kids who grow up happy . . . with a little bit of money and a whole lot of love.  Yep, I say, GO SASH!!!

Thursday, December 16, 2010


I'm having a really good time this week celebrating traditions.  Old ones and new ones.  Old ones that are expiring, new ones that are on fire with the kids' excitement & energy. 

Here's the two that are at the front of my mind this week: 

Gingerbread houses constructed with hot glue and graham crackers.  Pictures coming soon.  Such a great way to use up all of the halloween candy by playing with it and NOT eating it!!

And . . .

(the most fun of all!!) . . . . Scavenger hunts.  This is the time of year when the dulldrums and brown bag blues sink in deep and hard.  Nothing sounds good for lunch, we don't really want dinner . . . outside is dry, brown, cold & ugly.  Inside . . . well, we have to dig sometimes for inside stuff.  After a long day of education & regimen, I love playing scavenger hunts with the kids.  Today while they were gone, Mimi and I took apart a puzzle and hid 54 pieces throughout the house.  When they got  home, they split into teams; two kids per team.  They drew numbers for who got to search on which level of the house.  I timed each team in finding 18 puzzle pieces.  Winners advanced to the next round and earned a solo search for the remaining 18 pieces.  Once all of the pieces were found, they drew from four task cards.  One kid had the job of putting the puzzle together.  The other had to solve math problems.  The third had to do a chore and the last one got to open a present and eat it.  Mimi was so happy that she got to take a break and eat two Oreos!  In the next round, they solved a series of riddles.  Finally, they identified the theme of the riddles to discover the location of the package (it was in the refrigerator).  The gift was coloring books and dot-to-dot books . . . one for each kiddo.  They ripped into them like they hadn't seen a coloring book in years.  They camped out at the table for the next hour and a half coloring and eating holiday cookies.  Good, clean, family fun. 

I"m already cooking up a hunt for tomorrow . . .

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


Man Of The House, aka MOTH . . . smack dab in the middle of his 'element' . . .

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Tattered Yellow Ball Gown

Creating that previous post and mentioning Big in the tattered yellow ball gown made me wonder if I could find a picture.  Ta-da!!  Here she is at the tender age of 3 wearing THAT dress, with a bowl on her head and mixing spoon in her mouth (notice very chubby sister in the lower part of the photo!)  That old dress, minus the hem, flowers & overlay,  is still downstairs in the dress up bin. 

And here she is NOW . . .

What's your style?

Today, I'm contemplating style.   Why?  Because my girlfriend and I just had a long talk about it.  More specifically, her son.  She describes this daily war between the two of them.  Every morning.  About clothes.  Every  morning it happens.  Every morning, she fights it.  Every morning, her son wins. My girlfriend is troubled by her son's style.  She doesn't want him to wear jeans and sweatshirts every day.

So, style.  Hmmm.   Some have it.   Some don't.  But don't get me wrong . . . I'm not judging because, after all, I'm not even sure what it IS!!   Here's what I do know: 

MOTH's style is what I call, "the mountain man look."  He likes woolly warm socks and mountain-type gear.  Year round.  Light weight Kuhl pants in the summer.  Heavier ones in the winter.  It's authentically him.   He shaves his head by choice and consequently wears a skull cap or stocking cap alot.  Inside, outside, dinner time . . . whenever. 

I'm a girl born of comfort.  I like comfy jeans, jammie pants and yoga pants.  There was a time not that long ago where I truly believed that pajamas were the uniform of motherhood.  Sometimes I'll wear a long skirt, but it's seasonal and only with the right shoes.  I like layers.  Usually two or three per day.  I like a cardigan sweater or zip hoodie.  I don't iron and don't buy things that require it.

Big is an Aero girl.  She wears long shirts and boyfriend jeans with tenny-runners.  Every day.  She wears a messy ponytail or boarder braids nearly every day.  She's clean and put together and looks athletic.   Important to note, her "style" includes gorgeous skin & the kind of mixed CLEAN scent that can only come from the right combination of shampoo, conditioner, body lotion & deo. 

Middle is bohemian sheik.  She wears gauchos or yoga pants.  She likes 3/4 length shirts with a loose cardigan.   Most times she matches, but she's famous for wearing mismatched socks because she just can't decide on one pair.  It's been that way for years and I love it.  She wears ponytails even though her hair is long and shiny and gorgeous.  She's clean and put together and she's athletic from the way she holds her body to the way she walks.

Little is in a camo kick.  Today, he went to school in camo pants, a long sleeved camo shirt and a camo skull cap.  If it wasn't for his sketchers shoes flashing when he walked and his rosy cheeks and shiny eyes, I wouldn't have been able to see him at all.   He's clean.  His nails are trimmed, ears are clean and his hair is combed.   His smile is contageous and his most important accessory.

Mimi is a self dresser.  She has been since she was old enough to know pants from a top.  Sometimes her pants are on backward.  Sometimes, she doesn't match.  Sometimes, she layers all of the things she loves and wears them all  on the same day.  Any way you slice it, she's bohemian sheik meets layered country comfort all in one pint sized toddler package.  You've gotta look past the clothing exterior to see that she's clean, smiling, happy and absolutely adorable.

Mimi, in her "layering all my favorites" look.  This picture taken on the day she made Family History by being the ONLY one of our children to stuff a foreign object up her nose.  Don't fret.  Jingle bell safely extracted.

Here's a parenting mantra that I live by:  "Pick your battles .  . . and win the ones you pick."

Back to self dressing.  We have a busy home with lots of action when we're prepping to go anywhere, so when I say, "guys, get dressed", that's what I mean.  I mean . . . stop doing whatever you are doing and get clothes on.  There are seldom limits or expectations.  Why?  Because I'd rather have Big looking clean, athletic and put together than wearing goth black, heavy eyeliner, chain belts and with blue gel spiking her hair.  I'm picking  my battle, and the way I see it . . . I am winning.  She's stunning.   I'd rather Middle make public apperances in mismatched socks than be uncomfortable and show up crying with swollen eyes and a runny nose because I insisted she wear something that she hates.  I'd rather Little be allowed to be a child and wear things that he can do ninja rolls and jedi jumps in than create a false exterior of a person whom he isn't.  And Mimi, well Mimi's three.  A brand new three.  And she gets a little latitude.  Hell, when Big was three, she wore a tattered yellow ball gown 24/7.  I'd peel it off of her at night to wash it while she slept.

This I believe:  children are an extension of their parents.  How they look and act is either the greatest feather in your cap, or your biggest embarrassment.  This, too, I know:   I've never been embarrassed about the way my kids look or dress.   I'm easily able to see past their clothes to the real success underneath.  Likewise, I'm not embarrassed by fat women or bald men.  I don't mind canes, walkers, prosthetic legs or extensive scarring from burns . . . because I absolutely believe that it's what's inside that counts.   So, I guess THAT's my style.  Parenting style and clothing style.  Happy, clean and well-behaved trumps whatever pants, shirt, sweater or dress you might be wearing. 

It's what's inside that counts, that's my style.

Monday, December 13, 2010

The cake, as promised . . .

I like it.  No, I take that back.  I LOVE it.  We had fun making it.  It was fun in the kitchen, and while not as perfect as the one at Target, it also wasn't $49.99.  More importatnly, SHE loved it.  After all, that's what matters.  And while we're destroying images, yes . . . I let her lick her fingers.  And when we were finished, I put it in front of her with a fork.  

This makes me happy.

Philosophies - What I think . . .

Choices.  Life is full of choices, right?

You choose to get up in the morning, choose to brush your teeth, or listen the dentist lecture you on plaque buildup.  You choose to read books from authors that you love, choose to investigate things that interest you, choose to do the best you can & choose to be the best you can be.   Everyday, we make choices that impact our own lives and those around you. 


But sometimes choices are made for us.  Think about that for a while.

I love blogging.  It's a journal of sorts.  Are my deepest, darkest secrets in here?  No.  Writing has been and always will be a process for me.  It's good for me.  It's therapeutic.  And cathartic.  And it's deeper than a checklist of what I've done (although many days it is JUST that . . . a checklist.)  It's a window into my life -- OUR lives.  But it's not everything.  It's just the tip of the iceberg.  When you blog for the sake of (insert whatever YOUR sake is) .   . . . . there's a certain amount of filtering that is done.  All the time.  Every post.  Proof would be in perusing the posts that never get published.    I suppose if a post makes you suck your breath in and say, "holy cow, I can't believe she said that", you should know that what actually went to print is tamed, filtered could quite possibly be a sliver of the reality.

Today, I looked at followers for the first time in a long, long, long time.  I don't track followers because writing a blog, specifically THIS blog, isn't about followers.  If it were, I'd take heed to my blogger buddies advice and create a better headline.  I'd find better ads and I'd do some specific topics.  I'm not making money at this.  I'm being a healthier person . . . for me.  This is for me.  

That being said, if my language is offensive, as I understand it may well be, it's your choice to read. If my topics are offensive, it's your choice to read.  If you are embarrassed to know me and find my blog to be unlike a person you'd like to know, it's okay with me.  It's okay.  You readers, all 11 of you, land on this page by choice.  It's a bookmark in your favorites or you choose to check in from time to time. 

I have thoughts on alot of things . . . things I'd love to blog about, things I THINK.  Some are reactions, some are inventions, some are just random emotions . . . but they're mine.  And here's my current thought.  Choose to read because you want to . . . you want to check in with my family and/or me.  You want to see gorgeous children grow into fabulous adults.  You want to follow our journey through pain, suffering, loss, family therapy, grieving and hurt or you want to follow our simultaneous journey through joy, elation, happiness, accomplishment, achievement, love, faith, hope, the strength of family and the wonders of faith.  Please don't feel obligated to read. 

Please don't feel obligated to read.  
Please don't feel obligated to read. 
Please don't feel obligated to read.

What I know is that God puts people in our lives for a reason.  All kinds of people for all different reasons.  Maybe I'm in your life for a reason.  Maybe you stumbled across my blog through a random search or a link that was attached to a link's link-link.  At any rate, we all have things to learn.  We all have things to bring to relationships.  We all have things to take.  I'd be most happy if you made a CHOICE to visit this blog.  If, however, my language is to coarse or topics too rocky, it's also your CHOICE to not read. 

Thursday, December 09, 2010

The Full Story . . .

One of my kiddos was really struggling at school there for a while.  The whole situation was very touch and go.  Very fragile.  The situation.   There were hurt feelings  . . . lots of them.  There were tears . . . lots of them. 

A sit down meeting with kids and parents and everyone involved really proved to be the best thing.  Lots of things got clarified.  Fences are certainly not mended and I don't think these two kids will EVER be best friends, but intentions are clear and mutually positive.  They've agreed to disagree. 

I'm so proud of my kid.   She did a stand up job, even when she was really hurt.  And hurting.  And angry.  She was well spoken and a really great example. 

And she came away with a really important lesson . . . . get the full story.  Really, really try to understand both points of view.  Give it your best shot.  I think she understands that most times, friends don't mean to be hurtful . . . it's anger speaking or some other unidentified emotion.  

Still, I think her situation is a good reminder to all of us.  Get the full story.  Someone might be labeled incorrectly.  Someone might have been judged on unfair grounds. 

This story strikes close to home becasue it was right here in my neighborhood.   New neighbors moved in.  A lovely man.  Very old.  With a cane and his very old, lavendar haired wife of 40 years.  They keep to themselves.  Grandkids come and go.  They are quiet and polite and peaceful.  Some time after they moved in, a rumor surfaced that he was a registered sex offender.  And suddenly there was judgement and shame placed on them.  Only days before they were at a neighborhood barbeque and sharing stories.  Then, like a switch -- dead fish on the doorstep kind of treatment.   Turns out he was 18 when he fell in love and married the love of his life, his soul mate -- who was 16.  Her parents, who were upset and judged him baced on race and religion, filed statuatory rape paperwork.  And it's been following them around for 40 years.   How sad, huh? 

See, get the full story . . . .

Monday, December 06, 2010

Just Because . . . .

Kids rush into the kitchen, I say to Big, "you look so pretty today!"  Little says, "What about me?  What about me?  Do I look handsome today, too?"  Just because I offer a compliment to one doesn't mean the others aren't striking, too.

Dogs know that when you're on the toilet, sitting still and right at eye level, you'll pet their ears.  Just because one gets there first doesn't mean I won't pet them both.

I have new jeans.  When I put them on the first time, a reaction less than perfect crosses MOTH's face.  In honesty he says, "They could be better."  Just becasue they could be better doesn't mean they are terrible.

My correction:
I blogged a holiday post on Thanksgiving, (http://bonkdown.blogspot.com/2010/11/jiichan.html)  closing  it with "I'm thankful for MY side of the family . . ."  Make no mistake, I am very, very thankful for my side of the family.  They are my lifeline, my rocks and have provided me comforts and support beyond what words can describe.  Just because I offer holiday thanks to my side of the family does not mean I'm unthankful to the other side of the family.  I am thankful.  Very thankful, for they have created and given me the man that I love and the children that are my reason for life.   Any affected reader should know that no harm was meant and this author apologizes deeply if words were taken out of context, capitals used incorrectly or any other possible combination of misinterpretations.   Please revisit the post and celebrate the reason.  My grandfather and his timeless contribution to chopping carrots . . . a precious memory from the center of my soul.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Part of the happiness of life consists not in fighting battles, but in avoiding them. A masterly retreat is in itself a victory.

-- Norman Vincent Peale

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Three kisses when I wake; three candles on my cake . . .

Mimi's THREE!!  She had an absolutely glorious day on her birthday.  What a blessing she is to me and our family.  I'm telling birthday stories this year, and she's no exception.  I'll tell her story in another post.   But first, a recap of HER special day. 

She slept in.  She woke with songs and stories and extra snuggles and hugs.  She watched Dora cartoons first thing in the morning.   She even watched an EXTRA!!  After juice (she still says 'juicy' . . . and she always throws in "all the way to the top, and NO water!!") and a breakfast of choice (apple cinnamon french toast sticks with 'soo-up', she took a long Polly Pocket and bubble bath (with ME).  We played Polly dolphin trainers in the tub and stayed in until our toes were raisiny and our fingers were almost unrecognizable.  

We played the morning away:  hide and seek, chase, puzzles.  At around noon, she had a friend over.  Little Emma, family friend's youngest of six (see, another big family -- so they GET it), and only younger than Mimi by three months came over for playtime, lunch, play-doh & cupcakes.  They played so, so well together.  Not a single fuss . . . happy little girls pushing babies in strollers all afternoon.    They mixed the chocolate cake batter together.  They licked it together.  See chocolate batter face below from spoon licking escapades.  They talked about animal crackers and made an animal cracker parade around the kitchen island while the cupcakes baked. 

There was no party yesterday.  She's horribly embarrassed by singing.  When singing 'happy birthday' she hides under the nearest table and  keeps saying, "stop saying that" until the song is over.  She's painful shy and we find it adorable.  Here's the thing . . .  sometimes when little kid's birthdays fall during the week, they don't have a party ON their birthday.  It's later in the week, on the weekend, or maybe even the next month.  (I'm justifying my own reasoning, I think.)  Plus, here's our schedule:

Big, Middle and Little arrive home at 3 pm.
Also at 3 pm, best friend Emma's mom picked her up.
At 3:30, Middle is out the door for gymnastics.  She doesn't get home until 7:15.
At 6:30, Big is out the door for volleyball.  She doesn't get hoome until 9:15.  

It's not fair, in my estimation  (a) to start a birthday party for a three year old at 9:30 at night . . . a full two hours past bedtime; OR (b) to have a birthday party without siblings.

From my maternal point of view, thirty minutes of birthday party is WORSE than no party at all.  Throwing a present on her lap because you should give her a gift is a different thing than watching her open and play with a present that she adores.  In any case, she opened three presents from our family before Middle departed.  She played with them long after Middle left and into the time after Big left.  That's what I'm talking about.  Grandpa dropped by with presents.  She loves, loves, loves the purple plasma car!!   She ate a great dinner, played some more, took a second Polly bath with Little and fell into bed absolutely exhausted just before 8 pm.  She fell asleep clutching her new brown baby and muttering about names for her.  In our nighttime conversation at bedtime, she said the best part of her day was "all of it" but also "getting flowers from daddy" and "cupcakes with Emma." 

Oh, oh!! How did I leave out the cake??  Great cake .  . . as requested by Mimi & hand crafted by Mommy.  Pictures coming soon :)

Flowers for the birthday girl is a daddy tradition that dates back to Big's first bithday . . . Mimi was just as excited to receive her 'daddy flowers'!!

And here she is . . . . birthday fun in full swing and looking very noble and proud!  She's giving a plasma car ride to her new baby as Moose looks on.  She loves to chase Moose on a plasma car!

Happy Birthday, Mimi!!!  We love you!!!