Sunday, December 28, 2008

Happy Anniversary To Us!!!

December 28, 1999

It's been a great nine years. And how do we amuse ourselves? Give Luke, our 15-month old, Scotch tape. Yes, tape. It frustrates him to no end because he can't figure out how to let go of it. It's quite funny.

Seriously, though...Karen and I didn't even wish each other a happy anniversary until about 5pm this evening. I thought we would at least hit our 25th anniversary before that would happen. Sunday's are crazy days for us and we both thought about it at different times but we weren't near each other when the thought crossed our minds. But we love each other just the same.

The theme is Karen bought me a much needed belt and she got herself a watch (with a leather band, of course). I couldn't bring myself to let Karen buy herself a wedding anniversary gift, so I got a killer deal on a leather jacket. She's always wanted one...and I suppose 5 kids and an obnoxious husband (at times) earned her one after 9 years.

So happy anniversary to us!!! :)

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Christmas Oranges

One other quick comment about our trip to Bethlehem Village earlier this week. There was a "homeless" woman sitting by the side of the walkway path near a campfire. We huddled around the fire to warm up a bit. While standing there, I couldn't help but hear the woman asking for food and assistance...I was curious to see if anyone would approach her. When no one did, I whispered to James that he should go over to her and wish her a Merry Christmas. He walked over to her, holding my hand, and began talking with her. The woman explained how many children she had and asked if James had ever been hungry. They chatted for a few minutes and said their goodbye's. A bit further down the path we found an area where they were making bread. James took a portion of bread and walked back to the homeless woman. He placed it in her basket and we moved on. It was quite sweet. As we pulled into the garage that night, James voluntarily mentioned that he felt the Spirit as he visited with the woman that night. I think it made an impression on him.

So Christmas Eve...Aunt Laurel purchased matching pajamas for all the kids:

She also purchased the book, Christmas Oranges, and asked that I read it to the kids on Christmas Eve. We followed her instructions precisely. The story is about sharing and the Christmas Spirit. To illustrate the moral of the story, Aunt Laurel also purchased 3 chocolate oranges...knowing there would not be enough for each of the kids. Here is Mark upset that he did not get a chocolate orange:

Then we read the story:

And Anya, James, and Peter demonstrating they understood the moral of the story:
It was a wonderful Christmas Eve! We can't believe it's over already. May we all share the blessings given to us so generously from our Father in Heaven. Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Bethlehem Village

I think it was Friday afternoon when a friend from our ward called and invited us to go with them to Bethlehem Village on Monday night for FHE. They have two kids who are the same ages as two of ours so it sounded like a lot of fun.

As usual, we sat down to eat breakfast this morning and I briefly went over the scheduled plans for the day with the kids. I told them about where we were planning to go tonight and Mark informed me that Dad had already spilled the beans. However he had not provided details, so Mark, Anya and James were all under the impression that we would be traveling Santa Claus style to the other side of the world and back home tonight. They thought we were visiting the REAL Bethlehem Village. Cute, I know. I kindly corrected them and then sweet little James shared his relief.

James: It's good we aren't going to the real Bethlehem.
Mom: Why is that?
James: (very quietly and serious) Because if we were going to the real Bethlehem, King Herod would be there.
Mom: You know, you're right. It is a good thing we aren't going to the real one, cuz King Herod was a bad guy.

It happens more often than I blog about, but that little boy has some pretty astounding insight into things at times. He very often pipes up with answers and comments that make both of his parents stop and stare for a few seconds, while he goes on doing headstands on the couch and building fantastic Lego creations. That's our James.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

A Picture Story of Luke

There's no particular rhyme or reason to this post. There were pictures of Luke I wanted to share. Our family went to Salt Lake City in October for Great Grandpa Christensen's funeral. While we were there, we visited Temple Square. There were a TON of photos...but this tells Luke's story...he started off quite happy on the nice solid piece of granite.
Still very happy...
But we quickly learned that Luke doesn't like grass.

And he needed to tell Anya about it...

And then he had to share his grievances with Mark...

But nothing would satisfy Luke. He just didn't like grass. And he was sad.

Monday, December 8, 2008

A new rule

If you are not asleep by 9:00 PM you will be removed from your bed and clean the house.

Karen instituted this new rule yesterday. And I gotta say, I got a kick out of it! :)

Our kids go down between 7-8 at night. Even after "going to bed," we allow them time to read a little. But it has gotten out of hand...and many times they will still be up and chattering at 10 PM. So Karen has put her foot down. If only you could have been a fly on our wall last night.

9:04 and the kids were chattering with no sign of stopping. I was sitting at the computer and I heard kids stomping down stairs to start in the kitchen (fortunately for them the dishes had already been done); then they moved to the family room; then they moved upstairs. A little after 9:30 PM it grew quiet. They didn't quite finish cleaning their rooms, but they were tired. Within minutes of climbing back into bed, they were asleep.

Classic! I LOVE Karen's discipline techniques. We'll see what happens tonight...

Friday, December 5, 2008


As I have been haphazardly getting things done around the house today, I remembered how long it had been since I had jotted down any of the funny things the kids have said and done. I am pretty sure I miss a lot of what goes on, but I do have word docs on each of them and I thought I might share some tidbits with everyone.

Anya came to me today and asked me to get the penny out of her pants. I was not shocked because her brother likes to tease her by doing things like that to her. So I begin to look in her diaper and shake her pants to get the penny out. “No, mommy its right here” Anya began to tug on the button on the back of her pants to show me. It took a few days to convince her that it was supposed to be there and it would not come off. (Anya, age 3)

While admiring her new baby brother Peter, Anya informed us rather excitedly, “He has my eyebrows!” (Anya, age 3 1/2)

Today James told me this, “. . .and I have eyebrows and eyes and a mouth and nose with boogers in it. But I don’t have boogers anymore, because I picked them all out and they are all over the house.” (James, age 3)

James was jumping off a kitchen chair and fell with a very loud thud and an “oops.” I asked him, “How’s the floor?” He had gotten up and started to dash out of the room, but paused to reply, “Hard.” (James, age 5)

Whenever Luke cries, Peter comes running and saying, “Ma-ma – Wa-wa, wa-wa!”
(Peter, age 2)

James’ new phrase “what’s the word I am looking for umm . . . . .NO!” (James, age 3 1/2)

Mark was sitting in the rocking chair this morning playing with his Spiderman sunglasses. Then he put them on his head (like grandma does) and said to his sister, “Hey Anya, look, I’m a woman!” (Mark, age 4)

Peter was fussing and Mark wanted to help calm him down. I heard him say that if he touched Peter and prayed to Heavenly Father, that would calm Peter down. When I heard him start praying, I turned around to see him with one arm folded and the other hand on Peter’s head pronouncing a blessing that Peter would be able to calm down and stop fussing. Then we talk about the Priesthood, where we explained that he didn’t have it yet. He hasn’t accepted that yet, but hey he’s 5 what can we expect. (Mark, age 5)

Everyone got busted today, climbing in and out of the refrigerator, trying to use it as a teleporter. (Mark age 7, Anya age 6, James age 5, Peter age 2)

It makes me laugh out loud to reread some of their antics and I am looking forward to many more fruitful years of anecdotes. Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

God is Good

Normally, I would write something like this on the other blog. But this has to do with family. So I hope you don't mind that I take up the space here.

Julie Christley Shelton is one of my dearest cousins. We "found" each other while we were both growing up in St. Louis. We're related through the Crowley line on my mom's side. I think we're officially 2nd cousins (but I've never figured out how all that works). I think we met for the first time our sophomore or junior year. We became instant friends...practically brother and sister. We went out on double dates, we stayed up late talking, we hung out, we shared hopes and dreams...we experienced a lot together in a short period of time. We hooked up again in Salt Lake this past summer for the first time in about 10 years.

Julie and I are the same age. Her dad had a massive heart attack yesterday and passed away early this morning. I want to share two small miracles that are evidence of the Lord's kindness in our greatest time of need.

Ashley is the youngest Christley and her wedding was originally scheduled for December 2008. There were some scheduling conflicts so they decided to move the wedding date to November 2008...two weeks ago. Gil Christley was able to witness his daughter's wedding. And the family was together...celebrating life. God knew what would happen yesterday. I'm convinced He had a hand in rescheduling the wedding.

Karen and I used to live in Columbia, Missouri. We lived there for 4 years from 2001-2005. We made wonderful friends while we lived there. One member of our church, Dean Hainsworth, is an ophthalmologist at the university hospital there in Columbia. Gil lives in St. Louis but was working in Kirksville, MO when he had the heart attack. Because he was in Kirksville, he was life-flighted to the nearest hospital...the university hospital in Columbia. I don't know how it happened, but Dean was there at the hospital and a connection was made that they both knew David Christensen. Dean administered a priesthood blessing to Gil. The family was comforted.

God is Good. The Lord is very kind. He knows us. If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him? Matthew 7:11

May we ever be mindful that God has His hand in our life. He surely is blessing us each day. And He is preparing us for that which is to come. May we open our hearts to understand His ways.

God bless the Christley's in their time of need. God bless my sweet cousin Julie.

This is my newest favorite song and the words seemed fitting.

The Call - Regina Spektor

Saturday, November 29, 2008

It's the weekend after Thanksgiving...

So Christmas can officially begin in the Christensen home. We had a wonderful visit with Karen's brother and family in Northern Virginia for Thanksgiving. (Shout out to Glen, Cheryl, Rachel, Jared, Ben, Alyssa, Spencer, and Ryan)

We've been married almost 9 years and have slowly acquired Christmas decorations. Although you are welcome to come celebrate with us, we realized it is unlikely many of you will come to our home this year. So here is a sampling of our Holiday decorations for your enjoyment:

This was my first attempt (ever) at a manual flash and manual focus. I know I have a lot to learn. Karen hung Santa from our ceiling fan pull switch thingy. I thought it was a work of genius!

Can you smell the aroma of sugar cookies?!? :)

We received this as a wedding gift (anniversary is December 28). Although I've come to learn this is not hard to come by, this simple manger scene is made of wood from an olive tree in Jerusalem.

Our first fireplace!!! How fun to have stockings hanging from the mantle!! :)

Karen handmade each of the stockings.

We love Christmas! We set the tree up yesterday and I fell asleep enjoying the soft glow of the lights on the tree and the spirit that reverently entered our home as we prepared for this season. I love that it begins with Thanksgiving. I love the symbolism of the decorations. And I love the reminder of our Savior's birth and life.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Can God Speak Through Dreams?

This was Mark's first question to us this morning. I calmly sat down on the bed...

Dad - Yes, God can speak through dreams.

Mark - He spoke to me right before I woke up.

Wow, I thought. What is this profound message my eight year old is about to share with us?

Dad - What did He say?

Mark - Snow.

Dad - How do you know it was God?

Mark - The earth shook.

Karen asked if he had been listening to the God's Army soundtrack lately. There is a really cool song on it about snow. Turns out James was listening to it yesterday. And Mark volunteered that he had read recently in the scriptures that when God spoke to the people, the earth shook.

So we talked a little about the subconscious and how our dreams can react accordingly.

But we reassured him that God can, in fact, speak to us through dreams. Perhaps this just wasn't one of those times.

Or maybe it was...

Perhaps God was checking to see if Mark would listen if He did speak. And Mark has shown that he would.

Has God been trying to speak to you?

Thursday, November 13, 2008

New Do

I have been meaning to get my hair cut for quite awhile, but I never seemed to get around to it. Finally David got me a gift certificate to a hair salon for my birthday, in an effort to encourage me to go. So I went. I was silly, I took before and after pictures. I'm not as good as Laurel at taking pictures of myself with a camera, but hopefully you get the idea. It is quite unusual for me, I have never had my hair cut like this before, but I think I like it and I know David does, so hopefully you will too.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Introducing our first Bobcat

Life all of a sudden got a bit more busy. And this is the first of five...I suppose it won't slow down for 18 years when Luke leaves home. I'm excited just thinking about what the next years have in store.

Here's Mark ready for his first den meeting: He received his Bobcat award at the second den meeting.
And he was initiated! All the new Bobcats had their parents do a little artwork symbolizing the journey these young men were beginning. It's a good thing you can't see the blue "bird" on the right cheek because I had NO idea what I was doing! :)

Here's Mark's den. The pack is about three times as big. They're a good bunch of kids. Steven, Alex, Mark, Matt, and Ben. Each of them turned 8 within two months of each other. It will be fun to watch them grow up together.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Virginia in the Fall

So we went on this amazing scenic drive yesterday through the Blue Ridge Mountains. And I mean amazing. The only thing was, as we were driving I couldn't stop fast enough to take the pictures I wanted to. And in some cases, even if I could have stopped, there was no place to pull over.

On our way home, out of pure curiosity, I took a few shots while I was driving (yes, I occasionally text while I drive as well). And they turned out GREAT! So now I know. And I'll have my camera ready. I hope you enjoy some of these shots from the Blue Ridge Parkway.

This was on our way home through Afton Mountain.

Are you wondering why you see the back of the van? Yes, ladies and gentlemen, this shot was taken through my rear view mirror. Is that talent or what?!?!?

One more shot taken through the front windshield.

Now we'll back up to the beginning of the trip. This was the first shot I took on the way towards the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Throughout the parkway, there are numerous lookout points. The speed limit on the parkway is 45mph. There were lots of bikers and convertibles. It was a beautiful day to take a leisurely drive. The kids loved taking an occasional quick break.

The kids were bragging how they were real mountain climbers. They explored all over the exposed rock at this lookout point.

Anya was pretty brave getting near the cliff. Behind Anya is the Shenandoah Valley.

And Peter had no fear. He just knew this was a pretty cool place and he wanted to go anywhere his little legs would take him.

Mark was the bravest of all. The Melick's back in Illinois would be proud of his new found tree climbing capabilities. This is a shot you'll want to double-click on to see full-size. You'll be able to see Karen's expression that only a mother can do. Yes, this tree is on the edge of a nearly 90 degree drop-off with big boulders on the way down.

But it was a perfect climbing tree and Mark took full advantage. He's pretty excited that he can say he climbed to the very top of a tree now.

Round trip took about 3.5 hours. We'll do it again and be sure to stop at the waterfall next time.
And I couldn't complete this post without wishing my sweet wife a happy birthday! :)