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I present to you the recipient of the 2009 Martin Luther King Jr. PeaceBuilder Award:

Mariah Grace Howard!

She had no idea she was the winner, and she was so proud. She is the epitome of a peacemaker too....that award was meant for her! She cares so much about other people's feelings. She makes a point of being friends with everyone, especially those that don't have as many friends as her.

They did a little song and dance before the awards:

Last year's winner was if I can get Mallory to be a little more "peaceful" by next school year, maybe it can become a tradition. :O)

And then here's where we spent Sunday:

The Girl Scout Cookie Kickoff! It was held at the zoo, so after the rally we wandered around and checked out the sights. Although we have zoo passes, we hadn't been there in a long time so everything seemed new. The first thing we did was the Sky Ride....which amused the girls and TERRIFIED me. I was really honestly scared for my wasn't much fun for me at all. But I made it across, only to find out the quickest walking route back across the zoo was closed for we had to take the sky ride BACK. 2nd time wasn't so bad, but I still wouldn't say it was exactly "fun".

And this was my favorite animal that we saw....he yawned a big old yawn which I was able to capture:

Then it was time for a nap....for all 5 of us!
The cookie sale officially begins January 31st! Can't wait!

Jesse & I took the day off Friday, to follow these sweet girls around: the drill team had their annual "school tour" where they perform in assemblies at all the local elementary schools to try and "recruit". It was fast paced but lots of fun. The audiences at each school were very impressed!

I don't know why, but I can't wait till Valentine's Day! I guess because it's one step closer to Spring being here, which I also can't wait for. Everytime I go into JoAnn's or Michael's, I come out with a new Valentine's or Spring decoration for the house. But I haven't put them all up yet, because Jesse thought it was weird to be decorated for Valentine's Day in mid-january:

Valentine's Card supplies...prepped and ready to go!

One of my cute Spring-things:

A project I've been working on.....WAY in advance, since these won't be displayed till March/April!:

And, finally, things makin' me happy right now:

this cross-stitch that my mom made a LONG long time ago when I was at least in 3rd grade, maybe younger. I have it hanging above my door:
My new Spring-collection Yankee Candle shipment arrived! I got several candles and this reed-diffuser, "Sweet Pea Garden". I love it!

And that's it for now! No work tomorrow, I have a dr. appt because I think I'm coming down w/ strep throat again. :O( We'll probably find some small way to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. day as a family. Then next friday the girls' school is having a MLK assembly, at which one of my sweet girls is going to be awarded the MLK "Peace Builders" award! It's a secret though, so I can't say who. :O)

Burnin' trees & makin' hats!

Friday night we went over to our neighbor's to watch them burn their Christmas trees. It was fun....and scary to see how fast they go up in flames. The Wares:

David, Jesse, Gary:

And look what I made!

It took me just about 2-3 weeks, and it wasn't as hard as I thought it would be. But it was still quite a task because there were like 5 colors involved, and you have to carry them through the whole time. So of course at several points I had a twisted mess that I had to stop and fix. But this is my first experience doing an actual color pattern while the past I've just changed color (i.e. for stripes and such). I was so happy to finish it, and to discover that I hadn't made a total mess of it and wasted all my time (like I've been known to do).

The inside (see how each color is "carried" along the whole way?):

The pattern:

Et voici!:

Crime-fighting is now a Howard FAMILY activity!

Happy New Year!

What better way to kick off 2009 than with back-to-back interaction w/ the police! :O)

New Years Eve we went out to dinner with friends (20 OF THEM, i didn't even know I had that many!), then to a friend's house for games & drinks. By 11pm, my face hurt from laughing so much and we wanted to beat all the drunks home so we left. Before I could find the freeway entrance (we were in Santee), I got pulled over. I hadn't even had any drinks except w/ dinner but still I was all scared. But the officer was very nice and explained that I had just been speeding. So just a little paperwork and we would be on our way....but, did I have my:

driver's license?




proof of insurance?


So of course as she's in the patrol car running all my info and trying to confirm who I am, I'm sitting there cursing myself for being so stupid and not having all my docs. Everything is current and up to date, luckily, but I just didn't have any of the proof. And funny enough, my license expired on my bday and one of the investigators here at work brought it to my attention, and I left early from work the day before Christmas Eve to sit in DMV for an hour and renew it...otherwise I would have had even bigger problems New Years Eve!

But the nice officer just told me to gather my docs and put them in my car, and be careful. No ticket. Hallelujah.

Then last night, after dropping the girls off at Nana's for a New Year's slumber party, Jesse and I noticed a car swerving, determined they were more than likely drunk, and called 911. Jesse was relaying the plate # and activity to the dispatcher, as the driver hit a street sign and ran over the median onto the wrong side of the road into on-coming traffic. She carefully backed up and continued like nothing had happened. Another car stopped and picked up the street sign, then went on their way, but us? We were on the chase!

The dispatcher told us we didn't need to follow the car, for our own safety, but I saw that the driver was a middle-aged woman and I didn't feel threatened, and the girls weren't in my car so what the heck. Either go home and watch Larry King, or persue justice......we chose the latter!

So we followed the car, as we stayed on the phone w/ one point a police car passed us in the other direction and didn't see the lights I flashed or hear the horn I honked to signal him. Eventually, we ended up in the Food 4 less parking lot, the lady drove around so her car was facing us and Jesse tells the 911 operator "Oh my gosh, she's gonna RAM us!!!". :O) But she didn't, she just pulled up along my passanger side and rolled her window down. I asked if she was OK, and she said with a slur that she was fine, hadn't even been drinking, just accidentally hit that sign. and please don't call the police, don't ruin her 2009, etc etc. I was trying to appease her so she wouldn't take off again, while Jesse got angry and started yelling at her/arguing with her. We watched her drive off but she parked in the lot, and then suddenly 5 patrol cars sped up, we pointed out her car, they surrounded her and brought her out and handcuffed her. Then we gave our statements to the police and went home.

So exciting! See, I told's just a matter of time until Jesse ends up on COPS. And I was laughing so hard, I told him thank goodness that lady didn't hit someone or do something major where our 911 call would have gotten played to a jury or in the media....cause Jesse, sweet as he is, was rambling and nearly incoherent when he reported it. :O)


Mallory w/ friend Alex:

Mariah & buddy Chris watching tv as Alex jumps on them:

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