How many pics can one post hold...

Man, it seems if you let things go for a little while, there's no catching up! I guess I'll just do a quick catch-up--more pictures, less talk--that'll make things better.

We had a great Thanksgiving. We hosted it at our apartment this year. We had 16 adults (4 missionaries, need to make sure they're covered) and 9 kids/babies. It was a little cramped, but not as bad as I thought it would be. I cooked the turkey and Ryan helped with the gravy, and I made pretzel salad. Everyone else brought the rest. I think I'll invite friends over every year, because it was so nice to not worry about the other food items. My turkey gave me enough grief.....Funny story, all the women will gasp.....So this was my first year cooking a turkey. I called my mom the evening before Thanksgiving to see when I should take the turkey out of the freezer to defrost. Yes, the night before. After gasping herself, my mom proceeded to tell me that turkeys take a few days to defrost, not hours. Thank goodness for the internet! I looked online and learned that you can defrost a turkey in around 10 hrs if you stick it in a sink of cold water. That's what I did, and we magically had a pretty good "first" turkey the next day. This day was a good reminder of how grateful I am for the gospel. All of our friends on Thanksgiving were from our ward. We love them as our family-from-home, and I'm grateful to have a church organization that helps us connect to great people.

We're going home for Christmas this year, in a little over a week. I'm really looking forward to seeing everyone! Every time I ask Josh what he wants for Christmas, he says, "A bow and arrow and scary eyes." I don't know if that means he'll have scary eyes when he uses the bow and arrow, but I do know that he'll be one happy little guy when he gets his little bow and arrow. It's so nice to have a simple, sweet Christmas with little kids. He probably won't be so satisfied when he gets older, but maybe we'll luck out. One thing we've tried to do to remember the real reason of Christmas is to talk about Jesus' birth. Josh loves to talk about baby Jesus, but he will fight you to no end on who's birthday is on Christmas: his. I guess that makes sense, since he's getting the presents...Anyway, I've always loved Christmastime, especially the commercial part, and my parents will tell you, I've always loved the presents. I love the smells of Christmas, I love the music, the decorations, and the old-fashioned feel of Christmas. I do, I love it all, but now I wish the world would go back to some of the old-fashioned values and remember what Christmas is truly all about: our Savior's birth. I'm grateful for good parents who've always tried to stress the true meaning of Christmas in our home, and I'm now trying to do that with our children. I'm grateful for His love and for the miracle of His birth. Luckily, we have wonderful friends who are great examples of how to live more like the Savior, so I know our children have many great people to learn from. Merry Christmas!

P.S. Don't mind the mixed-up assortment of pictures, please.

Josh and Ryan decorating "Santa's house". Josh made sure we knew it wasn't a gingerbread house, it was Santa's house, and he was inside talking to people.

Here's a cute little present to put under the Christmas tree....

Josh and Ryan put on a lot of Christmas lights on the tree. I don't know if Ryan thought that meant he wouldn't have to put any lights up outside, but if so, he's wrong. :)

While the boys were putting the lights on the tree, Josh kept tangling himself up in the lights on purpose and going over to the wall to check it's heart beat.

Carter hard at work....actually, he's become dangerous in his walker. He'll grab anything he can, including the rack that holds the silverware and bananas. (Or I guess I should say, used to hold the bananas. Now the garbage holds those.)

I asked Ryan to take a picture of Josh after we got home from church because I thought he looked so cute. Little did I know Ryan did a whole photo shoot. Josh will basically pose however you ask, nowadays, as long as he can look at the pictures after.

The "guys", Thanksgiving night. Grant, the one in blue, was very uncomfortable in this picture, which made it even more funny.

The cute girls, Thanksgiving night. I was the tallest one there; it felt really good, oddly enough.

Ian and Christy Rasmussen. Very social, up for any kind of party.

Carter, Ryan, and Katie Allen. Lovers of food and games.

Aleisha, Grant, and baby Garret Peterson. Enjoy good conversation and competition (at least Grant likes a little comp).

Catlin and Joseph Gedge. (Obviously not pictured). Awesome neighbors and fellow game players.

Missionaries. Good guys, and deserve to eat as much as they can.

I was cleaning in the kitchen and walked into the living room to see both boys reading a book. Priceless.

You can get this little stink to pose in any way....:)

Welcome home!

I have some more exciting news, even more exciting than running a marathon :). My brother Tom is back from his mission! He flew home from Germany on Friday (nice scheduling, eh?) and is trying to adjust to "normal life" in Utah. I was able to talk to him on Sunday, and it was really nice. We're excited to go out to Utah for Christmas and see him! Although, we're kind of sad, too, because it will be our last visit before my brother Jeff leaves on his mission to the Phillipines! I'm so proud of Jeff for going. It'll be great, right RMs?


No, it's not anything to do with babies...but it's similar in a lot of ways: It's exciting but scary at the same time; it takes a while to prepare for it; after it you need time to recover; it takes a lot of will power to make it through; it's painful; some people think you're crazy for doing it, but you're glad you did it anyway; and despite all the difficulties, it's totally worth it!

Yep, I'm running a marathon! Woohoo...:) I never did sports in high school, and I never ran more than a couple miles until I got to college, so thinking of running a marathon always went like this, "Wow, that's so awesome that people can do that. Good for them. I'll never do that." I just thought that despite how amazing it was for people to complete marathons, I'd never be able to do something like that. Well, you only live once, and no one else is going to do cool things for you, so you might as well do awesome things yourself, right? I really hope I make it through, and if I do, I think it will be one big check mark off of my pretend bucket list.

The marathon is in Washington DC, on March 20th, a Saturday, and it's a good, mild course...I know the first 13 miles, because I ran my 1st half marathon there. I have to admit, it's really neat to run past all of the sites that are in DC, but I distinctly remember when we halfers split away from the marathoners, I was so very happy. That won't be my feelings this time...they might come closer to dread, but I'm going to work on my mental strength...haha. My first goal is to actually finish the marathon, my (hopefully) attainable goal is to finish in 5 hours (hey, it's my first, who knows what will happen), and my ultimate (but hopefully attainable) goal is to finish in 4 hrs 30 min. Wish me luck!

Oh, and if anyone wants to join me, or cheer me on, Washington DC would be an awesome place to do it!

This is after my half marathon in DC. Hmmm, maybe by our fourth child I'll have to run a Century. Hah.

Sleepy Hollow

A week and a half ago we decided to take a little trip upstate. We had heard that Sleepy Hollow was a cool place to visit, so we packed up and took off. Our friends the Gedges decided they would like to come as well, which we were excited about. The next time we do a trip like this though, Joseph isn't leading. He took us over the Brooklyn Bridge and across and up Manhattan. I still don't know why we went that way, but they're the ones with the GPS, right Joseph?

Lunch was a disaster. Why do we keep thinking that going to lunch with 4 adults and 4 kids, all of whom are 2 and under, would ever be easy? But once we started walking around and looking at the sites, everyone seemed to enjoy themselves. Josh and Matthew had fun playing in the leaves, especially Matthew.

Here is where the bridge was in the story of the Headless Horseman, by Washington Irving. There is a little wooden bridge off on the side, which borders a little lake. On the other side of a lake was a cool old manor. Unfortunately we were there too late to go and check out the buildings.

As I was looking up more info on the Legend of Sleepy Hollow, I found some interesting things. One of which was the inspiration for the name Ichabod Crane. Washington actually knew an Army Colonel with the same name, from...... Staten Island.

Here is the old Dutch Church, right by the bridge and the cemetery. We went inside where they were having an organ concert. It was pretty cool. I must admit that my first thought was "Rameumptom". Anyone?

Here we are in the cemetery. The picture of all of us is right by the burial site of Washington Irving. We found out that there were lots of famous people buried there, like: Elizabeth Arden, members of the Astor family, Andrew Carnegie, Walter Chrysler, William Rockefeller & of course Washington Irving.

Walking around the cemetery. We were hoping that the leaves would still have some color to them. We were a little disappointed when we got there and most of the color was gone. Oh well, maybe next year.

Sick days

Man, tis the season for being sick! Josh came down with the croup two Thursdays ago. When we put him to bed, he was just fine, but when we got him up at 10:30pm to go to the bathroom (love potty training), he was having a hard time breathing and couldn't talk. I called my mom, and we looked online, and all of his symptoms pointed to croup. So for that first night, Ry and I took turns sleeping with the little guy.....

Hahahahahaha. Okay. I just realized I already told this story in the last post. This makes a good point, though: I've been exhausted! Josh got sick, then Ry, then me, and then Carter.....Yes. The baby. Once the toddler and baby get sick, you can say goodbye to sleep. Carter's been waking up about three to four times a night. One night, he was fussy from 3:45am on. (I'm sure the moms with teeny new babies are just rolling their eyes right now). What can I do but go comfort my sick baby? I mean, I've gotten a dry throat at night, so I'm sure he has, and what can he do about it, besides cry for mom? (Which he does. Who can say no to "mama. mama. mama. mama."?)

This has led to us not doing much. Josh and Ryan stayed home from church the first week, then this past Sunday Carter, Josh and I stayed home. It was so. not. fair. Josh was going to go with Ryan until his cough came back and he had a fever. No rest for mom. I hope Ryan payed attention in church! Anyway, I've already learned to do with out eight hrs of sleep ever since I had our first born, but I've noticed that lack of sleep to this extent has caused me some problems, such as:

-Not being able to get out of the mall. I spent 20 mins. trying to remember what side of JC Penney I needed to get out of in order to get to our car. I couldn't even find the section we came in. Ever. So I went out one set of doors that looked familiar, since it was past bedtime at this point, and walked around the mall, outside, in the cold wind, to get to our car.
-Not calling my brother on his birthday. I've totally forgotten the calendar days, but still, that's a big deal to miss such a thing. He'll never turn 19 again! He's going to the Philippines on his mission, by the way. Good thing I got him a pilot hat for those cold nights in the Philippines! (Average temp. for the whole year is 88 degrees). :)
-Not being able to understand instructions. I was asked to give a talk at an "emergency preparedness" meeting this last Saturday. The Sis. who asked me to speak emailed me some information. I couldn't understand it at all, what the point was, or how it made sense to what I was speaking on. English is her second language, so I figured it was just difficult for her. Nope. She copied and pasted the info from the institute manual. I started to piece things together on the fourth read-through.
-Forgetting our downstairs friend's name. (It's Joseph, by the way) This is particularly embarrassing when you're good friends, and your talking to the friend's wife about him...I came up with it in a minute or so.
-Typing up a new blog post about the exact same thing you typed about in the last blog post. I was even thinking, "Oh, I've got to mention Halloween!"

I'm not the only tired one though, and once Ryan gets home to help me, I'll have video and pictures to prove it. :)

And as a side note, Ryan told me there is such a thing as a delete key, that I didn't have to leave my retold first paragraph in the post...but where's the fun in that?

Halloween and other things

For Halloween this year, Josh wanted to be a "scary ghost". I kept asking what he wanted to be and that was his response every time, except for the day he came home from Lexi's birthday party with pirate garb...that time he wanted to be a pirate. I have to proudly admit, I made his little costume, as homely as it may be. I'm not one of the crafty, decorate the nursery, make artistic dinners kind of mom, so with Catlin's help, I made a ghost costume. Josh was a pretty cute ghost, even with the costume. :) The week before Halloween, we went to the ward trunk or treat. I used to think those were lame, but now with little kids, I love them. Carter was Winnie the Pooh (I got the costume from his baby shower), but he didn't love it. Most babies don't seem to like the idea of uncomfortable costumes...hmm. Josh seemed to enjoy it, but he really enjoyed the actual day of Halloween.
Poor thing, Josh came down with the croup Thursday night. It was pretty scary. I woke him up around 10:30pm to take him to the bathroom, and he was wheezing and had a barking cough. We took turns sleeping with him that night (Ryan was so nice and held him on the couch for hours) to make sure he didn't die on us, and luckily the next day was a bit better. On Halloween, though, we didn't do much and had to miss a fun birthday party; but we decided to let him go trick or treating to a few houses. He loved it! He held my hand the whole time, went up and knocked on the doors, and said "trick or treat" even repeating himself if needed, and then said "thank you" at each door. For my quiet little Josh, that's quite a big deal! We went with Catlin (the Gedge's live beneath us) and her son Matthew while our hubbies stayed home with the babies. Matthew was hilarious, bouncing around, not wanting to wear his costume, etc. It's fun to see the different personalities of little kids. I tell you what, they come as they are and there's not much you can do to change it! After trick or treating, we went back home and had chili and watched Charlie Brown and the Great Pumpkin. It was a good night for us.
On a different note, I just finished a personal progress value project. For those who don't know, personal progress is kind of like boy scouts but for young women in the LDS church. You complete different "experiences" and value projects (projects are 10 hrs long) designed to help you progress in different values. The values are: faith, divine nature, individual worth, knowledge, choice and accountability, good works, integrity, and virtue. Okay, enough of the introduction. I decided for my one of my projects, I was going to exercise at least 1/2 hr every day, except for Sunday, and record my food intake for two weeks. I couldn't have snacks unless my blood sugar went low (gotta love diabetes!) and I ended up counting calories as well. I am really surprised how it went. I've always felt like I've had a good grasp on eating healthy, since I'm always counting carbs, but I was surprised at the amount, or lack of, calories in certain foods. I also couldn't believe how many calories I add on from my mindless snacking. No wonder I was having trouble losing the last few pounds of baby weight! I'm relieved to be done with the project, because it was a lot of accountability (guess the value), but I really think it opened my eyes a lot.
Along with that project, I've come up with a few more I want to do: run a marathon, memorize a song to sing and play on the piano, memorize the world countries, and make some church folder games for my boys. Surprisingly (I've used that word quite a bit), I've been really excited to do these things. Every once in a while I think, "man, I'd like to do that" or "I'd like to know those things", but that's as far as I'd go. I'd think about marathon runners and about how I'd never be able to do that, but to think I'll actually train and run a marathon myself, or work to learn all the countries in the world is really invigorating. I'm really glad that I've been able to get the motivation, and excuses (ever feel like there's not enough time), to do some personal growing from Personal Progress. It really is an inspired program.Here Carter's pretending to be in the spirit of Halloween and Ryan's not even pretending. Last year he was Napolean Dynamite...I vote for a redo, Ry! Josh found his old bee costume and had to wear it.

I don't think Carter liked the prunes....

Josh wanted to wear Carter's hat. In fact, he wore it to the park the other day. Better get him a hat of his own.

Just a cute picture of my sweet baby.

Workout Videos

I'll be honest, I can't understand workout videos. Katie's tried bribing me to do them with her. I just feel silly.

For those who know my wife, I'd think you'd have to admit how impressive it is the amount of time she spends working out. I'm lucky in a week if I exercise 1/50th as much as she does. She is crazy, though not certifiably. She's going to be running marathons into her 60's, while I'm in a walker.

Here is her most recent purchase off Ebay:

There's only one workout series that I could watch and do over and over. Body Flex with Greer Childers. This woman is amazing, see for yourself:

The reason I bring this up is because of a guy I saw on the subway the other day. He was watching a workout video on his iPod, sitting there on the #4 train. I spent a good 15 minutes watching him, and trying to come up with a single reason as to why he was watching that video. I came up with exactly... none.

Like I said, I can't understand workout videos.

Under Construction

We're in the process of updating our blog. We lost all the links to friends blogs, so if you feel yours should be on here, post a comment with your blog address. Don't be shy.

Also, if your blog is private and you'd like to invite us so that we can read it, ryanballen(at)gmail(dot)com & katiefallen(at)yahoo(dot)com. If you're reading ours, isn't it fair that we can read yours? :)

In other news, Carter has started trying to scoot around, Josh is trying to poop in the potty, and Katie is trying to keep from going crazy due to all the poop that doesn't end up in the potty.


Don't you just get the worst feeling towards the end of any vacation? Who really ever wants to go back to real life and everything that comes with it. It's so nice as an adult to go back and stay at your parents house, where the cooking & cleaning are all done for you. Not only that, but you have a default, handy babysitter for the kids when you have spur of the moment activities. I could never be a mother, they get no credit. Thanks Mom.

Well, now we're back from our extended trip from Utah, with lots of pictures to show for it. Let's goooooooooooo.

Let's start off with a couple dandies: Fake smiles all around. First Hayden on the left, then Josh on the right.

How about a trip to the coolest children's museum in all of Utah, the Treehouse:

What would a trip to Utah be without fireworks, right?

Hanging out with some old high school friends. Aaron & Heidi, Kayla & Brandon, and Christy (solo this time). Josh, Austin, Zack & Cole all enjoyed feeding the ducks & playing on the benches. At the end, Josh learned what it means to be a leader, and a man. Holding other dudes hands and showing them where to walk... He was actually too good of a leader, as you can see in the action shot, Austin is face-planting because Josh was pulling too fast.

Carter & Gavin were also good sports, giving us their best staredowns:

Lots of good times were had on our little trip back to Utah. One of the events that Katie was most excited about was the Top of Utah half-marathon. Somehow, I've no idea how, Katie was able to convince me that I could do it, and that it would be fun. In preparing for the race, I made a few goals for myself:

1 - Don't be a wimp. If you start the race, you finish the race.
2 - Let's be honest, if you're going to say you ran a half-marathon, don't you think you should actually run it? Otherwise you just finished a half-marathon.
3 - If you could run a mile in less than 5:30 in high school, shouldn't you be able to run at least a 9 minute/mile pace? Thus setting my finishing goal at under 2 hours.

The day before the race Katie approached me very politely, and asked me a question, obviously afraid of offending me. "Would you be mad if after the first half of the race I press on without you? I want to see how well I can do." To which I just laughed. I was getting ready to ask her the same question...

Well the morning of the race came, and the bus ride up to the starting line was waaaaaaay longer than I thought 13.1 miles would be. For goodness sake, it felt like it took us 45 minutes to DRIVE it. Doubt started creeping in, as did a little IBS. I had to make 3 bathroom trips in the hour prior to the race. TMI I know.

Before we knew it we were off and running. My first thoughts were a little rude. I mean honestly, who thought it would be a good idea to put 1,000 people at the FRONT of the pack who were WALKING after the first mile. It was madness trying to navigate around these people. If you know you run a 20 minute mile, let's start a little further back in the pack.

So Katie and I are cruising along, feeling good. Around mile 6 we each picked out a person that we wanted to beat. Around mile 7 our pace was not quite fast enough for us to keep up with the guy I selected, so I was forced to speed up, slowly leaving Katie and the target she was locked into. It was about that time that my competitiveness kicked in. "Heck," I said to myself, "I'm not letting anyone behind me beat me to the finish line." Easy to say at the halfway mark. Within a couple miles 2 50 year old women went cruising past me. Again I had to speed up a little to stay with them. I thought if I could stay within 50 yards of these out of control grandmas, I would be able to reel them in within the last mile. True enough, in the last half mile I passed grandma #1, and within the last 100 yards I passed grandma #2. However I did get overtaken by a teenage girl with about 20 yards to go. Big mistake on her part, as I had just enough in the tank to sprint past her 5 feet from the finish line!

I'm proud to say that I completed all of my goals. I finished the race, I ran the whole time, I did it under 2 hours (with an average time of 8:59/mile), and nobody passed me after the halfway mark.

Here's the proof. My cousin Kylee (who didn't train at all and ran it), Erika (who hardly trained and ran it), me (who half-way trained and ran it), & Katie (who trained the most and ran it. I think Katie could've completed another half marathon that night. The rest of us were dying).

Here are the Allen kids. Ashley, Nicole, Erika & Me. We'll never know how Ashley & Nicole would've done. They stopped around mile 10 to carry this kid to the finish line. I think he was faking it so that he could get Ashley's phone number. Why didn't I come up with something that clever in high school?!?