Sunday, April 27, 2008

Christensen Sunday Reflections

Here's two:

It's kind of fun to have an "excuse" to peek during prayers. It's called being a parent. And I enjoy the freedom. The beauty of it is...if I'm caught, the person who caught me can't say anything...because they shouldn't have their eyes open either.

But when you have five kids...and one is them is two years's so rewarding to see how obedient and reverent young children can be. I love watching Peter fold his arms and keep his eyes closed. I love how, on occasion, our children keep their eyes closed but continue to blindly continue the activity they were doing prior to the prayer. And I love it when James squishes one eye so he can open the other and see if anyone is watching.

I love their innocence...their obedience...their pure faith...their example.

Kids are great!

On a lighter happened several weeks ago. But I was reminded of the event and had to share.

Do you know the song, Beautiful Girls? Sean Kingston sings it and it's a horrible song! But it's got one of those catchy tunes. And we listened to it whenever it came on the radio. It's hard to understand the words so we figured the kids weren't picking up on all of it. Then Mark asked what "suicidal" meant.

So we explained it on their level and kept it means someone is sad. They were satisfied with that. We don't listen to the song anymore. Haven't heard it in probably 4-6 months.

Testimony meeting March 2008. It was a mediocre meeting. Nothing really special. Unfortunately, someone's cell phone went off. And there was a 10 second delay for the owner of the cell phone to turn it off. Very irreverent. I rolled my eyes. The tune was Beautiful Girls. C'mon people!

As Anya(6) was reading the Illustrated Stories of the Book of Mormon, she and the boys subconsciously chimed in, "suicidal, suicidal." I recall Mark(7) looking up at me and smiling.

No family is perfect.

Happy Sabbath!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

A Birthday Ode (or two)

i like that grandpa and hannah are part of the family. i love my family. happy birthday! i can't wait until grandpa comes! ~ Mark

Grandpa tickles us a lot. Hannah is nice. I love our family. Happy Birthday Hannah and Grandpa! ~ Anya

The orgin of birthday celebrations dates back to the time when so many children died young that each birthday you reached was a reason enough to throw a party. Since that is less of a worry these days, now we celebrate birthdays to show how much we love and appreciate someone.

Hannah - so kind, and so thoughtful. We have missed living close to you. Thanks for being born and being part of our family. We love you!
Grandpa/Dad - he tickles and he grabs necks! are the first comments our kids usually give when asked about you. We know that you do so much more than that. Always diligent in duties to family and God, you have been a shining example for us to follow. I personally love all the phrases you use and I knew with certainty that when I was called a dumb broad, I truly became a full-fledged member of the family. I love watching David each day and seeing so much of his dad in him. Can't wait to see you guys tomorrow! ~ Karen

Hannah - Happy happy birthday! I love your smile, your many facial expressions, your laugh, your kindness, your hair, your playfulness...I could go on and on. I love being your uncle. You are a beautiful daughter of God. Happy 11th birthday!
Dad - I've always looked up to you. I get a lump in my throat and moistened eyes just thinking of how appreciative I am for your example. You're solid. Happy 66th birthday! ~David

Thursday, April 17, 2008


About two years ago (our pre-blog history), there was a time when Mommy played Monopoly Jr. with Mark. Mommy won...and Mark didn't like that. So Mark called 911 to tell them that Mommy was being mean.

I think we had an FHE lesson a few weeks previously explaining that if someone is in trouble, call 911. We'll be more specific in the future.

Needless to say, 911 operators don't take a 5 year old calling and saying their Mommy is being mean lightly. And what's worse, Mark hung up on the operator. So Karen learns about all of this by getting a call from the 911 operator asking if everything is alright.

Imagine your response.

A police officer came to the house not long after. He did a bit of "interrogating" to make sure everything really was ok. Mark was in hiding. Karen had Mark come out and the nice police officer filled Mark's innocent thoughts with the fear of God. :)

Mark won't call 911 again...unless it really is an emergency.

Peter is 2. And he has recently taken a liking to the phone.

Daddy got a call from a 911 operator tonight. She asked if everyone was alright. But this time there was no police officer at the door...fortunately.

Here's what I've learned about our false alarms: if your child expresses concern to a 911 operator, a police officer will come to your house; if your child simply hangs up on the 911 operator without saying anything, you won't have to deal with a police officer.

With 5 kids we're bound to have a few stories to share. Karen and I are convinced they conspire at night just to keep the playing field even.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Coming up for air

I have been busy. Not really, but it seems like it. Until last night I had not read any blogs for about a week. Which is a very long time for me. Between my education, homeschool for the kids, being up every two hours at night (still) and scrapbooking, I have filled up my time. Sometimes I really wonder how shocked people I knew back in high school would be to see me now. (Forget that, how about my own family seeing how different I am now as opposed to then!)

I just did a let's learn about Native Americans and make our own peanut butter time with the kids, during which they shelled peanuts and I read outloud to them from The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe. It was fun, but I am sticking (no pun intended) with Jif.

I am eating (Mom and Dad will LOOVE this) a bowl of Grapenuts in milk with sliced strawberries! How healthy am I?! Not very, I am planning on an Oreo or three a little later this afternoon.

In the last week I got the bug again and started scrapbooking again. I was, believe it or not, almost a year behind! For me that is totally unacceptable. The last page I had done was chronologically just after James' 4th birthday. yikes! So in the last week I have created 12 pages of our family's history. I am now only 6 months behind, in that I just did the pages for Luke's birth yesterday. Oh, and I am working on a blanket for Sarah's baby boy. ~Carolyn, your package is in the mail!~

Today is a good day.

Now the main reason I decided to post today was to respond to Wendy's tag.
ok, the nearest book to the desk when I read your post last night was and still is "A Thomas Jefferson Education" So, page 123, 5th sentence right? here it is:

But if you want something else, you'd better get into another system.

That's part of a discussion about whether you want a conveyor belt education or a leadership education. Good stuff!

Well, now that I have had a deep breath of oxygen, down I go again into the abyss. I have 2 pages to scrapbook, diapers to change, a baby to feed, home videos to transfer to vhs, not to mention my studies, in tjed, spencerian penmanship and last but certainly not least, the scriptures. It's a beautiful day!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Mark, Anya, and James

Just wanted to provide some insight into a few of our children...who really are growing up too fast! Karen and I try to enjoy most of the journey.

Mark bore his testimony this past Sunday without any nudging from his parents. He read in the program, "Bearing of testimonies," and told me he wanted to share his. I asked him if he remembered how to start it.


"I know..." I replied. "Do you remember how to end it?"


"In the name of..."

"Oh ya!"

For a number of reasons I won't share here, I stood up to bear my testimony. I was holding Peter since Karen was out nursing Luke. Mark didn't follow me up and I was concerned he wouldn't get a turn because a long line had already formed. As I walked away from the podium, Mark courageously walked up alone (cutting in front of about 4 people) and went straight to the podium. His testimony on Sunday:

I know that Jesus Christ is my Savior. I know that the Church is true. I know that we can live for eternity. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen."

We asked him what prompted him to share his testimony. In addition to reading it on the program, he also gave credit to his cousin, Hannah. We talked about baptism Sunday morning and he reaffirmed his concern with going under the water. So we had Mark call Hannah to talk about her concern when she was baptized. He's still not ready but he feels better about the idea. And because of that conversation he wanted to share his testimony.

He's a good kid.

Anya lost her first tooth a couple weeks ago. Tooth fairies these days are handing out $1 for the first tooth. Anya approached Karen the other day and mentioned that she figured out what to do with the dollar. She wants to put it in the glass jar at the library. A new library is being built and she wants to help.
Saturday morning we were handing out the vitamins to our kids. There was only one Flinstone vitamin left. Anya said, "Peter can have it. He's the youngest."

Anya is developing into quite the caregiver. She almost always places others before her own needs. Which makes it all the harder to refuse when she calls out to Daddy for some cuddle time at night.

James jumped from his kitchen chair the other night and wanted to move faster than his little legs could move him. He fell with a thud. Karen asked, "How's the floor?"

James, in a matter-of-fact way that only a 5 year old can pull off, responded, "Hard."

Karen and I had a good laugh.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

James 5 year pictures

You have to understand...James is a third child. He's unpredictably emotional. He can be laughing one moment and pouting the next. He's a sensitive soul. :) We've learned to speak quietly with him when he's upset. And patience....patience is a MUST. Oh, and you have to give him plenty of advance notice.

So imagine taking one such as James for a photo shoot. He's five. I knew his mood would depend on how well the evening before and the morning of went. So, without being a pushover, we were extra sensitive to James' needs. And, though biased as his father, I have to admit our extra care paid off! Here's James Helaman:

Friday, April 11, 2008

Traditional Indian Vests

For an activity to learn about Native Americans we made vests today. Since I was fresh out of skins, we had to use brown paper bags. The kids had a good time and with very little explanation as to what they could decorate with, they came up with some very meaningful stuff.
James went for the very powerful circles of doom. (ok, really he is five and has little patience for these kinds of things) Still he was a very cute strong man.

Anya was a little more detailed in her decorations. She included illustrations from a book titled "Ten Apples Up On Top" on one side and the other front section has a drawing of the Godhead with some stars. (She got the book idea from Mark, but the rest was all her).

Mark was the one who started everyone drawing scenes from the apples book which is depicted on the left of the picture. The right side of his vest is a rendition of the first vision. It's a little hard to see in the picture, but very cool that he thought to do that. (Mark also included his version of the gamecube on the back, which is apparently just as important to him as the stuff on the front. ahh, seven year olds.)
I must say how happy I am when they surprise me this way. It's a little bolstering up for the days when they are less attentive. This reminds me that I am actually not the only one who hears me talking. On some level they are getting it and I am thrilled. There is nothing better than seeing them learn and express themselves.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Family Trips

We are so excited! Karen and I usually plan field trips and vacations for the upcoming year each November. But with the move, nothing was done according to our regular schedule. So we finally planned our year and I just can't wait for the adventures.

"Field Trips" play an integral part in our homeschooling efforts. Anything from enjoying a nature walk to experiencing pre-Restoration religion at Historic Christ Church to living history in Jamestown to enjoying a picnic on a college campus to watching prop planes take off and land at the regional airport to exploring our backyard. The possibilities are endless. You name it...we want our kids to soak it all in and ask questions and be curious and feel and laugh and live.

How grateful we are to live in Virginia right now. We would certainly enjoy being closer to grandparents...but we want to take full advantage of the opportunities all around us. So here's what we'll be up to. Join us by clicking on all the links! :)

Day Trips (in no particular order)
  1. Richmond - both the capital and confederate capital
  2. Maymont
  3. Williamsburg, Yorktown and Jamestown
  4. Skyline Dr in the fall
  5. Picnic on The Lawn & the Dome Room at UVa
  6. Monticello Trail
  7. Shirley Plantation
  8. Airport
  9. Historic Christ Church
  10. Downtown Mall
  11. Michie Tavern
  12. Carter Mountain Orchard
  13. Culpeper
  14. Hatton Ferry
  15. Salem
  16. Ash-Lawn Highland (home of James Monroe)
  17. Montpelier (home of James Madison)
  18. Monticello (home of Thomas Jefferson)

Overnight Trips

  1. White Sulphur Springs - Organ Cave and the Cass Scenic Railroad State Park (June)
  2. Virginia Beach (August)
  3. Washington D.C. (whenever Glen & Cheryl will let us stay:))

Big Trips

  1. St. Louis (April 2009)
  2. Gettysburg - Palmyra, NY - Niagara Falls - Kirtland, OH (August 2009 or Spring 2010)

Sunday, April 6, 2008

The Walls of Jericho

Here is the mundane background I want to share before getting to the purpose of the post:

Upon moving to Virginia, we were reluctantly forced to discontinue our DISH service because of the proximity and height of the trees on our property. As a result, we have relied heavily on the internet for our worldly needs to "stay in touch" with entertainment and news. But have you every watched General Conference online? If you do, we highly recommend using the BYUTV link as opposed to the feed provided by We watched the sessions yesterday on and the picture and sound were mediocre in quality. But BYUTV...WOW!!! Both the sound and picture quality were fantastic. It was clear...and you could hear individual parts of the choir to my delight. Try it out...and perhaps you could save yourself $50 or more dollars a month, too!


The Mormon Tabernacle Choir sang, "The Spirit of God" this morning to conclude Music and The Spoken Word. It was impressed upon my soul how easily the walls of Jericho must have fallen. The power and majesty of the choir moved me. And my faith has been strengthened.

Hebrews 11:30 reads, "By faith the walls of Jericho fell down, after they were compassed about seven days."

The trumpets and shouts of the children of Israel were not what brought the walls of Jericho down. But sound of the trumpets and the shouts must have created an atmosphere of intense unity, power, confidence, and courage. As a result, faith was increased to such a point that the Lord could not stay His hand. And the walls fell.

I can visualize Joshua leading the children of Isreal around the city walls seven times. Each time...the resolve to do the Lord's will being increased by the armies of Israel...on a very individual basis.

As the choir sang "The Spirit of God" this morning, I could visualize the Second Coming of our Redeemer and Savior. And I want to be counted among the modern day children of Israel. I could visualize the heavens opening, angels descending, and the literal power of God being witnessed by all inhabitants of the earth. I want to be part of welcoming the King of Kings. I want to follow Him as the Father of Lies is rebuked and peace is heralded on the earth for a space of a thousand years. I can only imagine the power that will be felt by those who choose to participate because of their faith.

Who will be able to deny that Jesus is the Christ? Every knee will bow and every tongue confess that He is the Son of God, the Redeemer of the world and Savior of mankind.

I felt a glimpse today of how that will come to pass as I listened to the choir. You can enjoy a version of the hymn here.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Worser than Daddy!

My new title. I am so proud. After all I didn't even know I could accomplish such a feat. It was simple really. All I did first was listen. When I listened, I heard Mark and Anya singing along on the karaoke cd of High School Muscial. That's the one with the music and no words. So I did what every other parent would have done in my position. I grabbed the video camera and quietly headed for the kitchen where they were sorting laundry. I turned it on and moved slowly around the corner to get a clip of the entertainment. That's where it all blew up. Mark saw me first, he yelled and took off running in the other direction. Anya yelped and dove for cover behind a half full laundry basket. James turned and smiled and said "What?!" I turned off the camera and went to look for my very sensitive 7 year old. I tried to hug him and find out why he was so mad. Let's just say he most certainly did NOT want to talk to me. I held onto him to keep him from running while I talked with him and that was when he gave me my new title. Then i tried Anya, she at least snapped at me with responses of why she was mad. Apparantly I missed the memo about not video taping them when they are singing. Oh, well . . .

Then, I blogged about it. Want to guess what happened next? (hint, hint basically the same thing a second time.) These are very complex little individuals I am living with.