All Madeline wanted for her birthday this year was a stuffed animal unicorn and some Frozen Legos. She was so excited by her unicorn cake that I had custom made for her. She got dressed up in her favorite shiny pink twirl dress and let me take a ton of pictures of her outside. We started out the morning with an amazing pancake breakfast with fruit and bacon. Then we let her open up all of her presents. She got her coveted unicorn stuffed animal in addition to the Frozen Lego castle, some Moana Legos, and some Sylvania Family toys. Peter was eager to help her put together her Lego castle. It was so cute watching them work together. Afterwards Abby and Madeline played with her Legos for most of the day. After lunch we sang “Happy Birthday,” and then enjoyed eating the unicorn cake. This was the first birthday where Madeline wasn’t scared to blow out her own candles. After cake and ice-cream, we all headed outside to watch Madeline hit and break open the unicorn piñata. She loved hitting the piñata but it was a little hard for her to break it open, so Peter took some swings at it and completely destroyed it. After all, picking up the candy is the best part of the piñata anyways.
It’s crazy to think Andrew is nineteen years old. It’s crazy that he turned nineteen in a year that has been totally upside down thanks to COVID-19. It’s crazy that he is living in our basement and completing another semester of school. We’re grateful for Andrew. No one who has kids will tell you that they don’t stress you out and make you want to pull out your hair, but at the same time, life wouldn’t be as grand without them. Happy Birthday Andrew.
One of my favorite things to do in life is go hiking. So it was a great day to be able to get up early and hike with my best friend up Y mountain. Bonus fact, it was also the place of our first date. It was fun to hike up the switchbacks, take in the views and just sit and talk and look over the world. Plus, we did it all before anyone else really got up in the morning. There’s something great about being up in the mountains and watching the sun come up on the world. Makes you grateful that you were around for another year to take it all in. Later on that day, we had doughnuts and opened presents. I’m always happy when I get a surprise for my birthday. For years, I have been coveting a new Taylor guitar. It was pretty great to be surprised with a new guitar for my birthday, super fun to play with great sound and great action. Abby was a sport because her birthday got delayed until we got to Utah. I think it paid off for her in the end and it was worth the wait. Great food and good times. Birthdays are about being with family, laughing, and eating too much frosting.
written by Mike
I have to admit that we kind of blew it last year for Peter’s 16th birthday. He was in the middle of his swim season and didn’t want a party with treats since he was trying to eat healthy. We said we would do something great in the summer, but we never did. So, his 17th birthday needed to be EPIC. I had initially planned on doing a surprise party for him but with all the changes with social distancing and the quarantine, I knew that idea was out. Instead I decided to reach out to all of his closest friends and to our family members to have them write a birthday message for Peter and send it to me. I initially thought of putting together a slideshow but then thought it would be even cooler to have it all put into a book. The week before his birthday I collected all the birthday messages and photos so that I could put everything together. Being in the hospital all day on Friday really put a kink in my plans but Saturday morning I woke up feeling decent, so I hopped on my computer and put together the entire book. I don’t know how I did it so quickly. It was a real birthday miracle. I put everything in preview mode on my computer and when I showed him the book, he was all smiles. I think there is something so great about being able to see how much people care about you. The other half of his present was getting him an Oculus VR Headset. He had raved about his uncle’s VR system that he played in the summertime. I spent a lot of time trying to find the Oculus Quest. It was OUT literally everywhere I looked. Due to the high demand over the holidays, the delay in production, and COVID19 it was not looking promising. I felt so desperate that I actually bid on a headset on eBay and thankfully lost by $5. I was super grateful that I didn't pay over the original price for the headset because it was in that moment that I went back to all of the websites that sold the Oculus and by sheer dumb luck I saw that there were 5 in stock at my Walmart at the original price. I couldn’t believe it. I ordered it right away and went the next day to pick it up. What awesome luck that was. Peter knew that the Oculus was out everywhere, so he had no idea that I had struck gold for his big present. Mike and Andrew purposely leaked some info that had him thinking he was getting a giant Lego set. When he opened up his gift, he was so surprised and so incredibly happy. It was such a great moment to witness. We catered to Peter’s weird McDonalds craving and had a McDonalds lunch and Reese’s ice-cream cake. No one else likes McDonalds but every time we travel somewhere new, Peter is all about getting McDonalds. So, our inside joke with Peter became the inspiration for his birthday meal. His day truly couldn’t have been any better.
Instead of a big party with friends this year Emma decided it would be more fun to invite one friend to do something big. I took Emma and her friend Natalie up to Denver to go indoor skydiving at iFly. Both the girls were anxious but in a good way. After their instruction class they got suited up and were ready to fly. They each got 2 different flights, both one-minute long each, and the last one included a high flight with the instructor. They were all smiles the entire time. I was surprised at how quickly they picked up the correct form. Both of them had some moments where they were flying by themselves without the instructor holding onto them.
Afterwards, we headed over to the Park Meadows Mall for some shopping before eating dinner. The girls went to a variety of stores but spent a good deal of time on the outdoor mall area taking photos in the various chairs and enjoying the sunset. We all ate dinner at the White Chocolate Grill, and it was delicious. We all shared the egg rolls and then the girls had hamburgers, I had their famous veggie burger, and we all shared the white chocolate brownie and the French white chocolate bread pudding for dessert. Emma was so happy with her fun filled day up in Denver with her good friend Natalie.
When I told Madeline that her birthday was coming up and asked her if she was excited to get presents, she said, "Is Santa coming to bring me presents?" I just chuckled because last Christmas she was finally old enough to understand that Santa equals presents. I had to tell her that presents this time would only be from mom and dad. Either way, it was pretty darn cute.
I decided to not do a full fondant cake this year and to simplify things a bit and just do cupcakes. I found the cutest examples of unicorn cupcakes and went in that direction for Madeline's 3rd birthday. Since the week was kind of busy we somehow managed to pull of a little party for Madeline with very little preparation. With some simple decorations and a few fun balloons and gifts, we had a very fun and exciting party for Madeline the day after her real birthday. This year she wasn't quite as scared of the candles but still wanted Peter to sit with her while we lit her candles on the cupcakes. She even piped in and sang Happy Birthday to herself while we were singing it to her. The cupcakes turned out really cute and they were actually really yummy. I tried a different fondant than I normally use and everyone gave it a thumbs up. Even Madeline loved eating the cupcakes. She also loved her chocolate dipped strawberries and lemonade.
Madeline loved her balloons and all the gifts she received. This year the kids gave her two new Little Blue Truck books. She was so happy to see her new books. Grandma and Grandpa Kelsch gave her the cutest castle card that lights up to go along with her fun gift. They gave her a pretend wooden makeup kit with a mirror, comb, two shades of lipstick, two shades of nail polish, eyeshadow, an eyeliner pencil, and a perfume bottle. She spent a good 10-20 minutes just playing with it on the couch before we gave her the last present to open. We gave her a pretend cash register and she just loved that too. We loved pushing the buttons, swiping her pretend credit card and playing with the pretend money in the cash drawer. It was definitely a perfect little party for our sweet little 3 year old Madeline!
Abby’s 11th birthday fell on a Sunday and since it was a family birthday this year it was the perfect day to celebrate with her. We had a nice pancake breakfast with her before we headed off to church. After church we let her open all her presents. She loved all the things she got. From Grandma Anne and Grandpa Franz she got some kinetic sand in a variety of colors and a panda pajama suit. She just loved that panda suit. From us she got a fun journal and Paper Mate flair pens that she had been asking for. Then we took her outside so that she could see her big present. This year we decided to get Abby her very own red moped mini scooter. She was so surprised and extremely excited. We bought her a fun black helmet with a rainbow on it to match her scooter. She immediately took the scooter out to go for a ride. She didn’t even care that she was still wearing her church dress. The girls had fun riding their mopeds together all afternoon. After dinner we all helped Abby devour her chocolate mint ice-cream cake. It was the perfect day for our sweet 11 year old.
This year Emma decided that she wanted me to make her a fancy cake like I did for Madeline's birthday. She looked at a couple of ideas and came up with a Paris themed cake. I went to work trying to figure out what I would need and spent 2 days prepping and decorating the cake. It definitely was a team effort to make this cake. I did all the prep work and when it was time to finally decorate the cake, Mike helped with the actual drawing on the fondant pieces. We all think it turned out so cute. It was not just a cute cake but it was also extremely delicious. Everyone just loves the marshmallow fondant. The kids finished the cake by the next day. Wow!
For gifts Emma wanted some more clothes as well as a yoga mat and weights. I found some adorable new outfits for her Emma at Athleta this year. She got a new pair of black warm up pants, two fun shirts, and a cozy sweatshirt. I also found an adorable necklace with a little runner girl. She LOVED that. From her grandparents she got a reversable yoga mat and weights. She was beyond thrilled with all of her fun gifts. Even though it was only a family birthday this year Emma got some fun things from some of her best friends. Natalie gave her a pink fuzzy pillow and Ava gave her a cute little dog stuffed animal. Emma is so lucky to have such nice friends.
We decided to do a kitty cat cake for Madeline's birthday this year. Since Myisha was still here visiting I was able to have extra help in figure out how to make this adorable cake we saw online. Since Madeline just loves cats I figured she would really like a cat cake. We went to work making the fondant and coloring the icing to make a pretty good replica of the cake we were trying to copy. When we were all ready to sing Happy Birthday to her she was kind of in a mood and didn't really want to smile. I think she did like the cake but was a little unsure of all the balloons and festivities that were going on around her. We tried giving her a little cake but decided that we should try and open presents first to see if we could get her to be happy. This year we decided to get Madeline her first pretend kitchen with some new pretend food to go with it. She LOVED the kitchen and the accessories she got from Grandma Ann and Grandpa Franz. They gave her a pretend waffle maker set, pretend past set, and some pretend cans of food. After a little bit of playing with her new toys she was finally ready to come back and eat some of her cake. She LOVED the cake and so did everyone else. They loved the marshmallow fondant and the yummy icing I made this time. Everyone said it was the best cake I had ever made.
For Abby’s family birthday celebration, we all headed to Flying Horse for a nice dinner and to open presents. Abby got a new yoga mat from Grandma Anne and Grandpa Franz and some cute athletic clothes from Athleta Girl from mom and dad. She was so thrilled with her gifts and her yummy dinner celebration.
I had the BEST birthday this year. Turning 40 is no small thing and Mike and the kids made me feel so special on this transition year. Mike made reservations at our club in the Rotunda room and we had a private party with just our family. The food was absolutely delicious and there was no one else in the Rotunda that night so we really got to enjoy being a family without any distractions. Each of the kids wrote me special notes about what they loved about me and got presents that went along with what they wrote. Abby loved to cuddle with me and so she got me some fun lounge around clothes from Athleta. Emma thought I was kind and beautiful so she got be a necklace from White House Black Market. Peter loved how I introduced him to running and so he got me a running outfit from Lululemon. Andrew loved how adventurous I am and so he got me some hiking poles. Mike's present made me go WOW when I opened it up and saw that he had made me a photo album with photos of me over the last 40 years. I had no idea he was doing that. This really was the best birthday.
For her friend birthday this year we agreed to let Emma have a sleepover with a few of her closest friends. She invited Natalie Asay, Ava Seaquist, Mikayla Jester and Maddie Gebski. We recycled our movie theme from a previous birthday and went to town decorating. We had fun personalizing some fun gold water bottles and had a slew of movie treats for the girls to eat downstairs while they watched movies. We ate cupcakes and opened presents before the girls headed down to the basement for some much needed girl time. They all got in their pajamas and enjoyed watching a few movies while eating junk food. They stayed up until 1:30am and then were up by @ 8:30am. I had made cinnamon rolls the night before at Emma’s request so that they could have them for breakfast. The girls ate those and then headed outside to jump on the trampoline. They all had so much fun together and there really wasn’t any drama the entire time. Emma had so much fun with her friends and loved the experience of having a sleepover for her party this year.
Emma was so excited to turn 12 this year so that she could move into the Young Women’s program. On her actual birthday we had a little family party for her at home with a trifle cake and lots of presents to open. Emma wanted clothes this year and so we got her some new church outfits, some casual athlete girl clothes and some jewelry. She was so happy.
Emma was lucky enough to be able to celebrate her birthday while both of her grandparents were in town visiting for Andrew's Eagle Court of Honor. She spent Friday evening going shopping with Grandpa Al at Kohls as part of her birthday present. She loved being able to pick out a few things to try on for Grandpa. She was so excited to wear her new clothes but had to wait until after she opened up them up because Grandpa wrapped them all for her to open. On Saturday afternoon Emma opened up her gifts from everyone. She received Athleta girl clothes from mom and dad, some more Athleta girl clothes and 3D pen filaments from Grandma Anne and Grandpa Franz, clothes and books from Grandpa Al (each book wrapped individually with specific instructions for me to give to her periodically so she didn't read them too fast), a pair of dolphin earrings from Andrew, and a pair of earrings from her cousin Annabelle. After all the gifts were opened Emma put on one of her new shirts and then we headed up to Denver to eat at Longhorn Steakhouse. The food was absolutely delicious and Emma even got her own free ice cream sundae for dessert.
On her actual birthday we celebrated with yummy steak fajitas for dinner and a fun cake Mike bought at the store for dessert. Just for fun we got her a new mug and journal for her to open on her real birthday. She also got to open the next book from Grandpa Al. Happy Birthday to my sweet 11 year old girl!