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! :)