Thursday, December 31, 2015

A Merry Christmas

Christmas Eve was spent at Grandma and Grandpa C.'s house eating pizza, having the kids act out the nativity, and singing songs.  On the way home we stopped by at the cemetery where many people, including us, leave candles burning on the graves of their loved ones.  It is very beautiful, and we sing there too.

Next came out annual pajama opening session, and the fun family photo shoot.

After minimal sleep, it was time for the race up the stairs.  There were only three participants this year.
Travis and Tia opted out, and Jake and Dan were still asleep.

Here are Jake, Trisa, and Travis -- not quite looking lively.

Trisa, Travis, and Dan (still going through stocking stuff)

Kayli and Connor.  Connor was trying to be patient while waiting to open his presents.

Tia couldn't resist getting her Dad a Wookie suit, and I couldn't resist taking as many pictures as I could get away with.

One More!
After the presents were opened, and the cinnamon rolls were cooked and eaten, we just relaxed until we got our traditional visit from Russell and Erin and their kids (One of Derek's sisters and her family).  They are great to come and be interested in what everyone got.  It is a happy visit for us.  After that it was off to Derek's parent's house for Christmas dinner.  Ham this time -- and delicious rolls.  Mmmmm.  I love rolls.  Most of our kids went home after that, but Derek and Dan and I stayed.  All of us got to spend time with family members, and besides remembering Jesus, that is the best part of Christmas.  I hope you had a merry Christmas too!

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Kayli Turns Twenty

Kayli's birthday, which is on December 19th, was celebrated for three days this year.  We had her open one present, and have donuts on Friday before we headed to the BYU basketball game as a family.

We celebrated without her on her actual birthday by attending the Christensen Christmas Party while Kayli went to SLC on the train with a friend.  Kayli had been asked to be a bridesmaid for a former roommate.  I didn't see her once that day!  Travis, being a nice brother-in-law, got up early and stayed up late so that he could drop Kayli and her friend off at the train station, and then pick them up again.

We had the main birthday celebration after church on Sunday.  She got to open the presents she had patiently waited for.  She also got to have brownies with peach ice cream, and lasagna (in that order -- but dinner was an hour or two after dessert).

Trisa and Travis were here for the celebrations, and Tia came when she wasn't working.  The pictures are by Travis.
Connor and Kayli who are sometimes mistaken for twins.
They aren't twins, but they have been good friends since they were very little.
This is the one present I knew that Kayli actually wanted.
This is a Payson Temple ornament.  I don't know of anyone who is more excited to have a temple nearby than Kayli.
This is a gift card for Walmart -- Kayli's favorite destination...
Well -- maybe not favorite -- but she does love to go there.
This is a gift card for an ice cream place.  Kayli loves ice cream, and brownies, and other things with lots of sugar in them.
Kayli isn't greedy, and insisted over and over that she didn't need presents.  We didn't agree. Thankfully, she received them with a smile.  Our Kayli is kind, a good listener, and fun.  She is a great sister and a  wonderful daughter.  She makes beautiful music, and has a beautiful testimony of the gospel.  She also makes tasty brownies.  My little dark haired baby is all grown up-- which I can love and cry about all at the same time!  I love you Kayli!  Happy Birthday!

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Our Before Christmas Activities

1.  The Ward Party.  We took Father Christmas with us this time.  It hadn't been Christmas yet and maybe that's why it looks like Father Christmas hasn't eaten as many cookies as usual.

2.  The BYU Basketball Game with the whole family -- plus my grand niece Mia.
Most of us had more fun than this picture indicates.  BYU won!  And Collinsworth got another triple double.  Yay!  Mia was great.  She ate popcorn, talked to Trisa and Tia, and really wanted to see Cosmo the cougar up close.  She was disappointed that he never came to the nosebleed section to see her.  We rarely saw Travis.  He's not much of a sports fan -- he is just a good sport who's not too good at feigning interest in the game.  I'm guessing the highlight for him was either eating popcorn with Mia, or seeing his mission president in the hall.

3.  The Christensen Christmas Party, which I got no pictures of so ....

Imagine a group with around 50 very nice people, more than half of whom are children.  Imagine us eating lasagna in the church gym, playing games, having a program, playing more games, cleaning up, and then, more than three hours after we started, heading home.  Mia came with her parents Kelli and Jamie.  They were staying with us and so they were invited even though they are from my side of the family.  The more the merrier!  Their whole family participated in all of the activities, and Kelli even participated in the not too secret flash mob that sang Joy to the World at the beginning of the program.

4.  Kayli's Birthday Celebration -- which I'll cover in my next blog post.

5.  A trip to the BYU Museum of Art to see the Norman Rockwell exhibit.
This was Dan's Favorite

This is Travis' favorite.
Travis said he enjoyed the exhibit for 5 minutes.  I don't think he's a big art museum fan either.
I don't remember if anyone else chose a favorite.  We were all impressed by how many paintings he did, and how much preparation he took before making the final, finished painting.

The day after we went to the museum was Christmas Eve -- and I'll include that with Christmas.  My favorite thing was every time we managed to have the whole family together.  That is the best!

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Thanksgiving and the Thankful Turkey

You can tell from the number of feathers on the thankful turkey that we have a lot to be thankful for.  We even ran out of feathers -- and were a bit too lazy to make more.  This turkey was made the day Derek was first trying to put in our new kitchen sink.  Kayli and I were headed to Provo and back to pick up a needed part, and I left the boys in charge.  When I got home I told them how much I liked the thankful turkey they had made.  Jake said, "Mostly I made it."  So a big thank you to Jake.

For Thanksgiving we had a delicious dinner at Derek's parent's house while visiting with some of our local family members.  There was a short program after.  I think with this side of the family it is very rare not to have some sort of program attached to every gathering.  Kayli very kindly sang my song "Sunshine" with me for our part in the program.

Shortly after that we headed to St. George where we met up with Trisa and Travis who had spent Thanksgiving with my parents.  We stayed in Derek's parent's St. George house for a couple of days, but spent most of our time at my parent's house where we were a part of the roof removal / replacement team.  Ray started on Thanksgiving Day and I think Jeff and Travis joined him.  It is a good thing they got a head start because we got done on Saturday right after dark.

The weather was cold for St. George.  In the 40s.  Brrrr.  In some ways we were a rather pathetic work crew.  Ray has a lot of experience with working on roofs, but the rest of us -- not so much.  My Dad wanted really badly to be up there helping.  He would have known what he was doing.  However, due to his major back surgery he was supposed to stay on the ground.  Naturally he climbed the ladder several times and made us all really nervous.

Mostly it was our health that was pathetic.  Jenny and Jeff had bad colds.  Derek was sick to his stomach.  Trisa got the stomach flu the second day so only managed to help on the day we ripped off the 2 layers of shingles.  That was the most miserable day, and her help was appreciated.  Travis was in pain with some unknown ailment, and I'm pretty sure that, at least by the second day, we were all feeling a bit old and busted -- except maybe all of the kids, who were a big help too.  Travis and Trisa stayed an extra day so we could use their roofing equipment.

 So, in spite of all we had going against us, we finished the roof.  We needed every minute, every person we had, and all of the energy we had to give -- but it got done.   I came away feeling very grateful for the good people in my family!  Even when everyone was super tired, and occasionally a little frustrated, they were so good to work with.  Everyone was patient, and kind, and tried to watch out for each other.  So, even though we went away sore, we went away with my parent's gratitude, and a feeling of accomplishment, and with memories of working together to get something good done.  We also went away with a strong hope that the roof won't leak!

Connor and Sadie Hawkins

In November Connor attended the Sadie Hawkins dace with his friend Amanda.  Aren't they cute?

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Happy Halloween Party!

Every year Derek's Mom and Dad throw a big Halloween party for their children and their grandchildren.  There are a lot of activities.  This year we had dinner, games, a scary story, pinatas, a puppet show, and a hayride into the traditional haunted woods.  This isn't a short activity!  Almost everyone dresses in costume, and the adults and older kids help out with food and activities.  

I decided to make myself a fancy belt buckle so I could be a proper cowgirl.

Doughnuts on a string provide extra snacks, extra fun, and extra entertainment for watchers.

Dan was Mario.  He loved the mustache.  It's a good thing that Connor had a spare one because I forgot to buy any.
We ended up drawing on the mustache for the actual Halloween.

Me and my costume.
(Which is really my regular clothes plus a hat and belt buckle)
That's all of the pictures I got even though there was a lot going on!  It was a busy, and fun night.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Better Birthday Pictures

 I finally remembered to ask Kayli for the pictures from her phone!  These pictures are from my birthday, and Trisa's.  Thank you Kayli!

It's Cinderella!  Have courage, and be kind!

Stories to read!  Yay!

Holy Bat Birthday Trisa!  What a nice shirt!
Trisa got a few books.  This one is a Mrs. Piggle Wiggle book.  Trisa loves kids, and she's going to be a teacher.
She likes to collect lots of books!

It looks like Trisa's brownie is on fire!

My beautiful Trisa!

Monday, November 9, 2015

Our Kitchen Makeover

We've been wanting to redo our kitchen cabinets for a while -- a year or more.  I was afraid to do it.  I know that I am not a patient painter, and I was afraid they would turn out terrible and I would wish I had left them alone.  Finally, I decided it was time to put it on the calendar and get it done.  I freed my schedule for the week starting Sept 14th.  I was sure I could be done in a week -- or at least by my birthday (Sept. 28).  That was so optimistic of me!

In reality, everything takes a long time, and I realized the Saturday before my scheduled week, that I had seriously underestimated the time this was going to take.  The boys took off the doors and drawer covers that day.  When the sanding was done, and I started painting, I realized that I just couldn't physically manage to paint more than a couple of hours a day without giving myself a huge head / neck ache. Thankfully, with Derek's help, and his Mom's -- I didn't have to do all of the painting -- but it was still a lot!

By my birthday I had decided that I would shoot for finishing by Trisa's birthday (Oct. 18).  We actually accomplished that goal (for the cabinets), which was a bit more realistic.  Getting the counter tops replaced and the new sink in got done by November 4th.  Hooray!

This is the before picture -- I forgot to take it before we took the doors off!

The doors and drawer covers took over our garage for a few weeks.  We sanded them all, put on two coats of primer and then added two coats of paint -- with a bit of sanding in between most coats.

These are just primed I think, but they looked kind of the same in the garage when they were painted and so I didn't take another picture.  Derek's Mom came over to help finish up the priming one day.  That was super nice and probably cut a whole day off of our project!

I finished the cabinet boxes quite a while before the cabinet doors and drawer covers were done.
We were not tempted to keep the open cupboard look!
I was done with the red and black stools.  I discovered that a belt sander is really powerful.  It made short work of the old paint on top that was peeling.

Now our stools are black, and match the kitchen appliances and the new sink.

Here are the counter tops before the sink was in.
This is the kitchen all done.  Derek framed the kitchen window too.
Thanks to Derek, and my boys and Derek's Mom for all of their help.  I'd probably still be working on it if I had to do it all!  I'd for sure have had to hire a plumber if it weren't for Derek's skills!  The cabinet doors aren't perfect.  There are a few drips inside of the cabinets that need to be fixed.  But the outside looks great, and I love my mostly new kitchen!

The Red Barn

For the last few years Derek's Mom and Dad have taken as many of their 49 grandchildren as are available and their parents to the Red Barn in Santaquin. We go on a hay ride to the pumpkin patch and back, and we eat ice cream.  The Red Barn has a few things to do out by the pumpkin patch, which included three corn mazes.  Tia, Connor, and Jake tackled the mazes in a group.  And Dan and I were our own group.  We had a map.  Dan wanted to follow it on the easy one, but not on the hard one, which I thought was backwards.  We made it through the easy one, quit on the one we didn't follow the map on, and made it through one of the harder ones even though following the map didn't work too well.  Dan was good company.
This is Dan pretending to be thinking about which way to go.
He likes dramatic pictures.

Dan and me.  Our selfie in the corn maze.
It was a beautiful day.  We had a very good time.  The ice cream was delicious.  And Dan, who is allergic to milk, enjoyed his rootbeer.  We are thankful for the gift of an adventure!

Trisa's Happy Birthday

Trisa came home for her birthday this year.  Travis was busy and couldn't come.  We missed him, but we loved having Trisa here!  Her birthday is October 18th, which was a Sunday.  With church, and her traveling home that day, we decided we'd better celebrate on Saturday.  We had presents, and a dinner with Grandma and Grandpa C..  I got a few pictures, which will have to do.  I think Kayli took the rest.
Trisa's pile of presents.

Trisa and I have matching sweat shirts now so we can look like twins -- sort of.

It's possible that she told me not to post this one.  I plead a bad memory.
Trisa chose lasagna for her lunch, and brownies with homemade peach ice cream for dessert.  She had to fit in a little homework time over the weekend, but she got to have some fun too.  Trisa is always good to have around and we were happy to have her celebrate with us.  We couldn't ask for a better oldest daughter!  She is fun, and kind, and loving, and forgiving, and smart, and all around awesome!

Monday, November 2, 2015

The Bat Cave

I have mostly boys at home now, and they are all fans of super heroes, so I came up with an idea for a Family Home Evening that revolved around the Bat Cave (Where Batman keeps all of his cool equipment and toys).  The FHE didn't go quite like I hoped, but I still liked the idea.  We tried to compare our home to the Bat Cave.  The boys were very literal though, and we are missing Alfred in our Bat Cave, and real bats, and the batmobile, etc.  Still, the Bat Cave is a place of safety, where Batman goes to be rejuvenated, and where he does research, and invents things, so that he can go out and help other people, and our home isn't so different from that.  We may even bring people in to the Bat Cave on occasion -- probably more often than Batman.  So, for fun, I decided to decorate our porch / and door for Halloween. I only took pictures of the door.
This is coming in to the house.  There is a Batman symbol welcome mat too.

This is going out of the house.
My favorite thing about having the door decorated this way is that, occasionally, as the boys are leaving they shout "To the Rescue!" Dan told me the other day, "I forgot to say "To the Rescue" when I left today!  He sounded so disappointed.  The Bat Cave door will likely turn into a Thankful Turkey door today and so I thought I'd better get a picture to remember it by!

My Happy Birthday

I've been meaning to write about my birthday for a while, but I keep forgetting to ask Kayli for pictures -- so you get what I took.  I started celebrating my birthday on my sister Jenny's birthday since we were all together in Idaho.  I got the nicest notes from my sisters and parents while I was there.  I have read them a few times since I got home when I have needed to feel good about myself! Jenny gave me a present, and the one picture I have for my birthday is of that present on my feet!
These are super soft and warm.  Perfect for my ice cube feet.
My actual birthday was awesome too.  After my alarm went off I checked the notifications on my phone, and there I found I had already received super nice emails for my birthday from the relatives out east who had been up for a while (I guess).  After the kids went to school I went jogging (I'm so proud of myself) and saw my father-in-law and my mother-in-law out walking.  I got some cheery happy birthday wishes from them.  Later I got to go visit my sister-in-law Mandy, which I always enjoy.  I got phone calls from more thoughtful relatives and my parent's in law stopped by to visit and bring a card and chocolate.  There were lots of thoughtful notifications on facebook too -- and even via text.

Derek and the kids spoiled me as they usually do with nice notes, and presents.  Kayli took time out of her super busy schedule to help me make spinach pizza (Yum!) for dinner.  She offered to make dessert too -- but I can't remember what we ended up doing.  Maybe rootbeer floats?  I am getting older so I can't be expected to remember everything!

The whole day was awesome -- until I went to bed.  Then suddenly I got hit by a horrible cold, and went out to be miserable on the couch.  That lasted more days than I thought it should, but I was glad it didn't hit until the end of a very happy day.

Emma's Wedding

On September 26th, my sister Jenny's birthday, Emma got married in Rexburg Idaho to Kyle (from Washington).  Emma is my sister Tina, and her husband Chris' daughter.  We were really happy to get to go and be there for the wedding.  I got a few pictures -- none of which are very great -- but there's no going back in time and fixing that!
Kyle, the groom, made the cake.  He worked on it while we helped decorate for the reception.

Emma made the paper flowers on the backdrop, and her brother Stephen made the backdrop.
My sister Tina made the beautiful wedding dress.

Emma and Kyle

My Dad, who was still in some pain, and was a bit unstable because of his back surgery, made the trip
from St. George to Payson, and then with us from Payson to Idaho, all in one day because he really did NOT want to miss Emma's wedding!

Beautiful cousins.
Lauren, Kayli, Emma, and Madeline
It was a beautiful day for a wedding in Rexburg, and we were very happy to be there for our super sweet niece Emma.  Hopefully, amidst all of the celebration, and her travels, Jenny managed to have a good day too.  Family is the best!