The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, Taylor Ford

Adam Olszewski/Bravo

"I don't think people tune into Real Housewives of Beverly Hills to watch Pin the Tail on the Donkey."

Take that, critics of the reported $60,000 Taylor Armstrong dropped on her 4-year-old daughter's birthday celebration!

The franchise's youngest castmember, who is finally finding her voice on and off the show, didn't hold back when we chatted with her about the controversial B-day bash, her experiences with domestic violence, BFF Camille Grammer's very public divorce—and her own marital struggles...

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First, Taylor denies that daughter Kennedy was crying at her own party.  "Her birthday party was one of the very first times she was ever on camera," Taylor explains. "It was pretty overwhelming—she was just turning 4, she's a little girl."

Still, that didn't stop Taylor from trying to make her daughter's birthday "memorable" with "a fun theme party every year": "I had really great memories of my birthdays growing up and that's something I want to share with her.

"I don't give my daughter that elaborate of a birthday party every year," she notes about Kennedy's previous um, three, milestones. "Next year I'm sure it'll be much less extravagant." (But still memorable, because who can forget their fifth birthday?)

Taylor Armstrong

Also dour that day was Taylor's husband, Russell—until he, to the dismay of his wife, presented his daughter with a birthday puppy. (We have to "watch and see" to learn Snowball's fate, Taylor tells us—but since she confirms that Kennedy is "absolutely" allergic, it doesn't look good.)

While Camille Grammer's crumbling marriage with actor Kelsey Grammer is the story making headlines on RHOBH this season, Taylor and Russell's relationship—if the cameras are to believed—is no fairtytale either.

But Taylor claims everything is fine at home. "Anyone who's been married recognizes that marriage has its ups and downs...When you have two grown adults with history and their own views and perceptions, you're going to have challenges from time to time."

"It's a work in progress," she says of her seven-year union. "We're doing the best we can and really focusing on our family."

Despite appearances to the contrary, Taylor insists Russell is "a charismatic guy and a lot of fun." The other Housewife husbands, she reminds us, have "had more exposure to life in front of the camera. [Russell] has never done this before. I think it's going to take longer to see his character develop fully."

is Taylor really afraid her husband will leave her for someone younger, as she commented in the series premiere? "I don't think people are getting my sense of humor," she laughs. "My husband's not the kind of guy who would go out with a much younger woman. I was making a joke because that's a common theme in Beverly Hills."

Still Taylor—who has had a lip implant and other procedures depite being naturally gorgeous—admits lacking confidence, which she attributes to experiencing domestic violence as a child. "This should shed light on where insecurities developed along the way for me," she says, explaining why she is so committed now to "helping kids who have been through tough times to get past their issues and hopefully not carry things into adulthood and develop insecurities that could affect them for the long term."

Taylor has nothing but praise for castmate Camille's care for her own children during their parents' divorce: "I just commend her for the fact that she's been able to stay focused on her kids and not show the stress that I'm sure she's under to them."

Speaking of stress, we asked Taylor about her friction with castmate Kim Richards. "I'm not exactly sure of its origin," she says. "It just seems to come out of nowhere between us." What about Taylor's cold shoulder during their first NBA Kings outing? "I was not turning away from her intentionally," Taylor says. "She and I have laughed about it...Each of us was feeling a bit awkward and neither of us felt comfortable engaging the other. It was just a misunderstanding."

"All our friendships are becoming stronger," Taylor says about her fellow Housewives, adding that, "just because we live in the most glamorous and famous ZIP code in the world doesn't mean that we don't have the same struggles and challenges as other women—including ups and downs with our children, our marriages, and our friendships."

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