Category Archives: My crazy life

Kenya- Part 1 of our adventure!

The girls and I left Utah, with my parents, excited for our Kenyan vacation… and though, we travelled for SO, SO long to get to Kenya, we were excited!  When we arrived to Kenya we had all our bags, except one… the one that had all the girls safari clothes.  Bummer.  The biggest issue was that we were leaving the next morning from Nairobi to the camp, and I wasn’t sure how to get the bag all the way out to where we were staying.  It caused a lot of stress and made a me anxious every so often… but eventually the awesome staff at Kichwa Tembo got me our bag.  Done with that tangent… on to the exciting parts of the trip.

We arrived in Nairobi late at night, and the next day we got ourselves together, stored some bags, and headed out to the tiny airstrip that would take us to our camp in the Massai Mara.

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The plane we took between Kenyan destinations was just so itty-bitty.  You can see how close I was to the pilots, and also that Violet, who was across the aisle from my Dad, is close enough to be in the picture with him, with very little effort!

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When we landed at Massai Mara we were met by our tour guide and car, as well as treats and dancing Massai warriors.

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As we headed to our camp for the first time we were able to see tons of animals, giraffes, hippos, antelopes, zebras and, most notably, a lioness napping under a tree.  One of the giraffes wandered too close to the lioness, at which point she got up, and just a couple of giraffe steps later she decided to chase off the nosy giraffe.  We were excited and happy… go safari!  That was only the first hour!


We headed into camp and got ready to officially start our safari!  Here are some camp shots from throughout the week.  You can see the camp in the distance in that first picture.  Also, the gate to go in and out of camps and the guard station.  Inside the gates were hippos, and several other animals, I think it was just a general deterrent.  I don’t think it would have kept out much. There were warthogs all around camp, and monkeys in the surrounding trees.  The warthogs would drink from the pool and hang out under the patio, so you had to make sure you didn’t jump down in front of one, they ran quickly and would have hurt a lot if they hit you!  We had the only double tents in the camp… 2 connected by a walkway.  The first surprise was when you went to the bathroom there was just a big screen wall… you had to remember to close the drapes!  Also, there was no door on the shower so you had to yell out so everyone in both tents knew you were showering, so no one crazy walked in on you!  Other fun things to note, every morning our wake up call included hot chocolate (that was delicious) and these cookie things to dip… oh my I am drooling thinking about it!  Also, once we had chosen a table that was our table for every meal that we ate at camp… the high chair stayed there, and we had the same waiter every meal, Francis.  We also had the same guide/driver every day, Robert.  Both men were outstanding, going above and beyond to make things fabulous and answering questions over and over from the silly girls in the group.  It rained a couple days of our trip, so we hung out in the clubhouse, played Scrabble and had hot chocolate brought to us on several occasions.


You can also see in that picture of the girls in front of the truck with Robert that Hattie was loved by everyone (and loved them back)!  If she was fussy at lunch (when it wasn’t as busy) the staff would carry her around and play with her.  Also, there were Massai warriors wandering around camp all the time, and they would do programs at night, dancing and jumping, it was very cool.

I will get down to more animals next time, but I think this is getting long already, more to come!

Utah Summer

We headed to Utah after all the fun in California, ready to see the rest of the cousins and the other set of Grandparents… Summer fun is never ending!  OGO and Grandma had gotten new bikes for the girls, we had fun with toys, and dressing up.

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We got to see Jordan play t-ball, play a lot with cousins and Grandma, and learned some new card games.

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For the 24th we celebrated up the canyon, with BBQ and whomp-ems… And fun times with everyone.

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We were able to catch Sparky’s Field of Fire, Ike really went all out this year, we love seeing those firework shows!

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 OGO and Grandma treated the big girls and me to a day at Mary Poppins at Hale Center Theater… It was great and the girls loved it!  I was so happy they enjoyed the musical, hopefully we can go to many more in the future.

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Hattie managed to fall asleep  during several errands and made it look so uncomfortable, still cute!


The girls both had summer classes, Sophie took a water color class at the U, and Violet attended summer camp with Ms. Sara.  So much fun was had by all!

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We figured out how to make giant bubbles and all took turns making humongous bubbles while everyone enjoyed the outside weather and patio at OGO’s house.

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Jess came into town for a visit, so we ate too much and chatted a lot… love her!  We also hit up a Stingers game while she was here.


We went to the grand opening of the Chinese grocery store near my mom’s office, and that meant a celebration and Chinese buffet for dinner.

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We did MORE bike riding and played with more fireworks (as is common with Uncle Ike).

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We visited Jump Around Utah several times, and I continued my streak of badly lit action shots from their establishment!

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We ate a lot more food, it was fabulous and we were happy every time and we came home fatter with giant smiles on our faces!

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Violet visited the eye doctor (per the request of the school nurse) and luckily she didn’t need glasses!  A nice older man at the doctor gave Violet a dollar for being a good patient and she traded her dollar in for a prize at Smith’s on the way home.

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We also were here during the Orem Temple Open House, and had a FHE beforehand about temple work and baptisms for the dead.

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That is about all, there was a lot of fun, and a lot of family and a lot of great times… and with that summer was almost all over!

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Here are the girls at the airport as we headed on our way to Kenya!  Good bye USA!


(PS, congrats if you made it to the end of this post… I am so behind, I just needed to finish some things up… I apologize!)

California Summer- Monterrey Part

nnBecause Justin and Megan have been living near Monterrey we thought it would be fun to spend some time in the wonderous place.  We had a house just a 10 minute walk to the aquarium, and it was big enough for all of us to stay comfortably in… perfect!  We spent some time at the beach in Carmel, it was a little chilly, but the kids had fun.  The ran through waves and played in the sand and it was cute to see the cousins playing together.

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We also walked around Carmel, Sophie twisted my arm and got me to the Cheese Shop on 2 separate occasions… we bought some seriously delicious cheese!

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We spent a whole day at the aquarium and it was super fun.  We got there right as it opened and caught them feeding the otters with no crowd and it was really great, I love the otters.  The girls do so great with animal exhibits, they always seem to love them to their fullest.  It was a great day.  The jellyfish exhibit was wonderful and the girls got to make their own jellies and send them into the ocean.  We also got to turn ourselves into a kaleidoscope to see ourselves as a squid or octopus would.  We had a good time!

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We headed to a new beach, near the house we were staying in, for the kids to play in the water.  It was a little cold, but they didn’t seem to care!

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The kids had a fun time at our rental house, the kids ran around like crazy in the backyard and all over the place!  Hattie found the stairs…

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We visited Fisherman’s Wharf and Dennis the Menace Park.

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On our way home from Monterrey we stopped by Gilroy Gardens.  The kids had fun, but the park has crazy rules about how old and tall you have to be to ride without an adult, there were several rides that went in a slow circle that Sophie couldn’t ride without an adult… kinda crazy!  We had fun regardless.  The girls insisted on riding the paddleboat ducks, which was a lot of exercise for Kelly and I.  I took Hattie on the ferris wheel and she screamed the whole entire time, poor other people riding with us!

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We also got the chance to drive through Madera and go to my cousin Tori’s reception… it was nice to see Grandma and several other family members… no pictures, though.  We spent the night at Karen and Allen’s house and visited all morning with James and Monica and Karen’s family, so fun.

California Summer- Other fun in the Bay

I am going to simplify my California posts, and put everything after Jeff left and after Monterrey in this post… and then Monterrey can have its own section!

After Jeff left we had a couple of days before we headed down to Monterrey.  So we took a morning and visited Contra Loma, one of my favorite things to do in the East Bay with my girls.  Tons of fun.

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We spent a lot of time at a neighbors pool… there were some super hot days during our visit.  Thank goodness the girls are now good swimmers, so I only have to hold on to the baby.  The other 2 girls have gotten to be so much more competent.

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Liz and I had a girls night crafting birthday boards.  With some serious help from Lanette helping us saw and drill, we ended up with some super cute finished projects!


We had another day with Vivian and her girls.  We took the ferry into San Francisco and walked around eating and letting the girls play together.  We also visited the Musee Mechanique for my first time.  Free with a ton of coin operated games/machines.  Some of which were so bizarre and crazy… I had to take a picture.  The girls had a good time, right up until the end when Violet was told she couldn’t buy the necklace she wanted… then she fell apart!

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We had a fun day at the Oakland Zoo, we had so much fun.  The gibbon was swinging around all over the place, and right at the end he stopped swinging and peed, the girls were laughing hysterically, they thought that was the best thing ever!

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 The girls and I headed to another A’s game, this one to celebrate the 1989 World Series win… it was a great celebration, and we even got free shirts!  The opening ceremonies were great, and it was so cool to see all the greats come out on the red carpet!  Eck and Ricky and so many fabulous ball players, Jeff would have loved to have been there.  At least he got a t-shirt and didn’t have to see us lose.  Hattie loved clapping with the chants and the girls all got one more trip to Stomper Land before we left for Utah the next morning.

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We love being in the Bay, and wish we had seen more people and gotten more pictures with those we did get to see.  We miss home!

A California Summer – The part where Dad is here too!

Are you ready for a massive post?  This is part of what we did in California this summer!  I will put Monterrey in a different post, but a lot of our first fun days will be here!  We flew straight from Spain to the US, and Kelly and Gerry didn’t know Jeff was coming, so that was a fun surprise at the airport… and I was so happy that he flew with us (or in business class with the baby!).  We crammed a lot of fun into the week Jeff was in Concord.  We had a lot of fun at Grammy’s house, and a LOT of fun with JD and Holly using next door neighbor Lanette’s play stuff!  We had so much fun seeing Liz and her kids regularly, and it meant I got a lot of Liz time without having to desert the family!

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We visited Costco several times, had a movie afternoon in the fancy reclining seats out in Blackhawk and had dentist appointments as well.  Hattie also had her first outlet experience followed by her first Fenton’s experience, it is fabulous that they are right near each other.  We were busy folks!

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We got lucky and had a free night to see our Angolan family, Lance and Vivian moved back to the states last Thanksgiving, and we had been missing them a whole lot, it is so fun to meet up with them when we are in California.  We closed out Skipolini’s, and let our kids go crazy together on the play structure, just like the rec center, without malaria!  Hattie took a shining to Lance right off, just like her sisters!

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We took Hattie to her first A’s game, and were so happy Jeff could join us, it would have been sad for him to miss that important family milestone!  We were also so happy to have all the cousins and extended family there.  Everyone came to town, and it was fun for Jeff to see everyone, none of us had met Ginny before this trip, so we even got to meet a new cousin!

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The next day was the 4th of July and we headed up Mt Diablo for breakfast.  The girls got Pinterest star hair-dos and we had a good time.  Later that day we went to Holly’s house for swimming and a BBQ.  It is always fun to see everyone.

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We also had group family pictures done because we were all together and since the last time we had pictures done it was 3 grandkids ago (and Jeff and I each had about 10 pounds more on us!).  Liz did a great job and got some great ones of all the kids, here is a small sampling.

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Before Jeff and Sean left we celebrated Dean’s 4th birthday.  He had asked if I could make a Spiderman cake, and so I did my best.  As is the norm for Dean’s parties we had a oversized piñata and a lot of fun.

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Unfortunately, after Dean’s birthday Jeff had to leave- back to work, real life and Angola, but man, we were so happy that he was able to come for any part of our time at home, and help on the flights home.  It would have been tough to fly by myself with all three girls.  We were sad to see Jeff go, but we had so much more fun planned still, so we couldn’t get too down about it!  More fun to come.

Spain 2014- Part Barcelona

Our last stop was Barcelona, and it involved a lot of walking and sightseeing!  We arrived by high speed train in the late morning and started checking it out immediately.

We started walking around Montjuic.  We saw the old Olympic stadium and grounds, an old bullring, turned mall, and the National Museum of Art.  The views were great, we didn’t take the tram to the top, but even from the top of where we could walk, the views were pretty fabulous!

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The next day we visited Casa Batllo.  One of Gaudi’s houses, it was quite impressive.  The amount of work that went into every single little piece of the house, crazy stuff!

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We also visited other parts of Gaudi Barcelona, including Parc Guell.  So much to see and so many interesting details, again.  The park had so many different little parts and so many different nooks and crannies, and the houses on site were like little real life gingerbread homes… I loved them!

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We visited Sagrada Familia, and I couldn’t decide if I liked it or not!  I loved each carving, and I loved the inside, but some parts just were so bizarre and so random, almost melty.  But I can’t believe that it has been in construction for so long, and will not be done for years to come.  The amount of work that has gone into one church, it is mind blowing!

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Sophie and I climbed up to the top of the tower in Sagrada Familia, turns out they wouldn’t let Violet or Hattie up to the top, so we split up to see everything.  Sophie was a trooper, as it was a lot of stairs down.

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We also got to see a lot more around Barcelona, including the Cathedral and Spain’s Arc de Triumph.

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That night we went to see the Magic Fountain of Montjuic, which was like the original Bellagio fountains.  It was a nice show, crowded, but funny that all songs were American.  The girls enjoyed it.

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Our last day in Barcelona we visited Mount Tibidabo, in our lives, known for its Friends fame… from the episode where we find out who Rachel’s baby daddy is.  We took a trolley to the bottom of the mountain and a funicular to the top of the mountain.  WE walked around, tried to ride rides (but the ticket was surprisingly limited) and walked to the cathedral on the very top.

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And thus ended our Spain vacation.  It was a lot of fun, I feel like we got to see so much of the country, but I know we missed a whole lot also!  Until next time!

Spain 2014- Part Madrid

We arrived in Madrid, dropped off the rental car and showed up at our apartment for the few days we were in Madrid.  We walked around the city a little bit, found someplace for dinner and took in the city.

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We happened to be in Madrid during some sort of music festival, there were several different venues around and a lot of loud music- it made it all seem quite festive!

There are 3 huge museums (and several other smaller museums) in Madrid, we decided to visit the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza.  It was a fabulous museum and we saw amazing works, Degas, Picasso, Monet and so many more.  It was great, and the girls did a great job.

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That night we visited Chocoleteria San Gines for what was supposed to be the best churros con chocolate in Madrid… they were delicious indeed!

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The next day we headed over to see the Palacio Real, we missed the coronation by just a couple days, and were thrilled with our good luck as Madrid was a crowded mess during the ceremony, but we honestly didn’t know that it was even supposed to happen, but if you had ever wanted coronation plates, mugs, t-shirts, or any other number of knick knack it was available!  The palace was cool, though we couldn’t take pictures inside, the rooms were amazing and just so over the top.  The wall paper, drapes and tapestries were all matching… same pattern, same colors, the wall paper was just insanely detailed.

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We had a good time in Madrid, I would have liked to visit more museums, but with the girls it really isn’t the best idea!  But we had a good time walking around and seeing the sights.

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Spain 2014- Part 2

The next morning we headed to the Alhambra, which was the whole point of us visiting Grenada.  The place was just beautiful, the carvings, the gardens the fountains.  Seriously, without 3 kids we could have wandered around for a long time.  I loved the different paintings on the ceilings and the intricate carvings were my absolute favorites.

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After walking around all morning we ate at a restaurant across the street, I had my only paella of the trip, it was delicious and I wish I had eaten more.  Yum!


After Grenada we drove to Sevilla.  That night we got settled in our hotel and then had tapas for dinner (ps, this was the only time while we were in Spain that we ate tapas, I need less picky travel mates for trying new food…).  The girls enjoyed the food.  We ordered several things, including fried shrimp… which ended up not being large shrimp but more like fried cakes with whole little shrimp in them, eyes included, Sophie loved them!

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The next day we toured Sevilla, without Matt, who wasn’t feeling well.  We started at the Bull Fighting Arena.  It was pretty cool, we took a tour of this arena and learned a lot about the formality of the fight and the tradition of it all.  It was all quite impressive.  But, no actual bull fights for us to see.

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After the Bull Ring we headed over to see the Torre del Oro.  We didn’t go inside, as it was a weapons museum, but we walked all around it.

IMG_2728The next stop was the Cathedral and the Giralda.  We wandered around the grounds of the Cathedral and then walked up to the top of the Giralda.  It is now the bell tower for the Cathedral, we got worried as we waited for our turn up, as Hattie fell asleep in her stroller, and we weren’t sure we wanted to wake her up, then we found out that the walk up was almost entirely a ramp!  A lot of work for Jeff, over 40 flights of pushing a stroller up, but he managed!

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The views of the city were amazing from the top of the Giralda.  We were super lucky to find shop that advertised having the best milkshakes.  We tried them, and we agreed, they were divine… we might have found it again later in the day for another snack!  Also, in the same plaza as the Cathedral was the Alcazar of Sevilla, but we didn’t tour that as it is supposed to be similar to the Alhambra, and we had just spent hours there the day before.

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Later we picked Matt up from the hotel and took a boat tour of the river and some highlights from the city.  We also got to see a Flamenco show.  It was a good show, but they didn’t feed the girls, and Hattie was a little cranky.  I took a picture of the dancer and got in trouble, but the lady in front of me recorded the whole thing… so I was not happy about them getting mad at me!  I did get my picture though!

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The next morning we were off to Madrid, and then, finally, Barcelona.  More to come later!

Spain 2014 – Part 1

We started our summer vacation by flying to Spain for 2 weeks!  We started in the south of Spain, in a place called Marbella.  It was where we were originally supposed to stay when we visited with Jeff’s grandparents and Jon and Dory, but we had just had Hattie and ended up canceling the original trip.

We stayed at the JW Marriott and it was pretty dang fabulous1  The pool and beach were great, the hot tubs were relaxing and we had a nice time exploring different little towns nearby.

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One of our day trips was to a town called Ronda.  It was this amazingly cool city that was built over and around a big gorge… the place was crazy cool, and we would have hiked around without the littles, but it was pretty neat seeing everything built up on cliffs and the structures going down into the gorge.  We of course had to end our day of walking with some gelato!

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Our next day trip was to Mijas… and it was one of my favorite cities, tiny, white buildings, quaint and just so European and adorable!

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Jeff and Matt also got a morning of golf in before we left the south of Spain.


We started driving ourselves to Grenada.  On the way we stopped by some the Cuevas de Nerjas.  We saw some amazing caves, with some of the largest natural structures… but it was dark and so the pictures suck… what can you do!

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That night we arrived in Grenada and had one of the best dinners we had the whole time in Spain.  Then, we ended with churros con chocolat…  awesome deliciousness… seriously, divine! 

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Sophie’s Cake Decorating Party

When I got home Sophie was ready to start getting her party prepped… she had been waiting forever for her party!  So we sent out invitations the Monday I got back and she had her party the Saturday after I got home… it was a lot of fun.  I baked 15 5 inch cakes for each girl to decorate, and then frosted each of them.  I also made the big cake for us all to eat after the party.  SO MUCH CAKE!


I used Steam a Seam to put a monogram on aprons for each girl.  When they came, they found their aprons and played until all the girls had arrived… average arrival time, 30 minutes late (the Monte Belo folks all arrived on time).  They had a lot of fun running around and having a good time.  When everyone had arrived we sat down and I taught them a couple basic things about using a pastry bag, they all had practice sheets to learn how to make stars and write with the frosting.  I was a little worried about how they might do, but they did really well!

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The girls did a great job decorating, and then several of the girls decided to lick the frosting off their practice sheets, thank heavens none of them thought to squeeze the bags directly into their mouths!

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The girls played a game of “Sprinkle, Sprinkle, Cake” and enjoyed running around for a long time, we had quesadillas and fruit for lunch, and then we sang happy birthday and ate cake…

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The girls had a lot of fun, and thanks to my friend Catherine, we had enough hands for lots of girls and Hattie.  Sophie said it was great, and all the girls seemed pretty proud to take home a fully decorated, by them, cake.  A lot of fun, but glad another party is in the history books, my jet lagged body was tired!