Friday, January 31, 2014

Surprise Laundry Room Renovation

For a Christmas surprise, our family teamed up with Steve's sister (Bev) and her family to renovate Steve's parent's laundry room.  It was a really fun project to complete together and it turned out nice and bright and clean.  

4 kids...
4 adults...
1 laundry dungeon...

and 5 days.
We were really excited to do this secret project while Steve's parents were spending their holidays with Elinn's family in Maryland.  We had their house to ourselves, which allowed us to have a flexible schedule.  It also allowed us to paint and have the fumes disappate in time for their return.

We wanted to do something nice for Steve's parents because they have done so much for all of us.  They have always been so willing to open up their home to us as guests, but even more, they've let our family and many of their other kids and their families live with them when they've needed it.  We appreciate their sacrifices and willingness to always help us out, so we thought this was a prime opportunity to give a little back to the parents and their home that have given us so much.

In the process, we gained experience and memories to last forever.
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 After we finished, we packed up and went home and waited for the phone call for when his parents found their surprise.  Steve's parents didn't discover the  new laundry room until their return a week later.  The day after they got home, Steve's dad went downstairs to look for his snow shovel only to find it missing and a lot of other things missing too, like his old flooring, his old sheetrock scraps, his old carpet runner, his old hanging rod, his old board-make-shift shelf thing, his old wood paneling, etc..  It was all gone.  And in it's place, there was a bright new laundry room.  He said he was definitely surprised.  He then called his wife downstairs.  She was reluctant to come because she hadn't put her shoes on for the day, but he insisted she didn't need them, and that she should come down.  She got up, went down the stairs and the first thing she noticed was the new flooring.   We got a phone call shortly thereafter with happy, excited thank-yous. 

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Lily's Poem Published

Lily letting her creative juices flow.
This school year, our family has been participating in a program called My Tech High.  It is a program that creates a partnership between innovative public charter schools and progressive home schoolers with a focus on technology and entrepreneurship.  It's really cool and I'm glad we're a part of it. One of the schools that is partnered with My Tech High is Provo eSchool.  They publish an online student magazine, called EDGE, each year, showcasing their students' creativity.  I received an email that they were accepting submissions for publication, and I asked the girls if they had anything to submit.  Lily had published a creative little poem on her blog, and she thought that I should submit that.  She didn't have a title, so we thought of one together and submitted it. 

The magazine was recently published and sure enough, there was Lily's submission a few pages in.  Gotta love it!  I'm not sure how well or for how long the link will work, but click here to go to the online magazine and see it for yourself.

Way to go Lily!  Here is the poem she submitted:

Alliterating Alphabet
By: Lily, age 8

Anna alligator ate an apple at an apple market.
Bill the bear ate blueberries.
Ciarra cat called cippy the canibol.
Diny dug dinosaur bones.
Ella the elaphant cracked eggs.
Fara the fish fought Frod the frog.
Gilly the gillfish got lotsa gold.
Harry the horse had hundreds of hearts.
Ima iguana is in an igloo.
Jarry the jaguar jumped and jumped.
Karry the kangaroo kicked Koby.
Lily the lioness licked lots of lollipops.
Mary monkey moved slowly.
Nora the noddy mother nodded noddily.
Ollie the octupus ordered pizza.
Polly the parrot picked up Pilly the parakeet.
Quails quilted quilts quickly.
Ronny ran round a rock.
Slimy snakes slithered on slippery solid socks.
Tommy the tomcat tickled Tara the toucan.
Ummmmm. said Uldy the ugly.
Villy the viper voted for Volly the viper.
Wally the walrus wanted to win.
I don't know about X.
Yilly the yak yanked.
Zippidy zap! Zipped the zebra.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Homemade White Elephant Gift

 Steve's family does a white elephant gift exchange every year for their Christmas party.  It is one of my personal favorite activities of the season.  We've given away plenty of junk through the years, but this year we thought we'd make something of great value and humor.

Steve, being a school teacher, gets to have a premium packet of free school pictures every year of just himself.  That's a lot of pictures they give him.  What do you do with all those?  Most people give them to every family member they know, but we are not really on the ball like that.  So, we have a surplus of Steve's school pictures from the last 7 years.  Actually, make that 6 years because one year he decided to not show up to pictures and found out later that because he decided not to get his picture taken, all the students who ordered a class photo would have a blank spot with "Mr. Christensen" printed beneath it.  If you know Steve well, you know he could care less about pictures, especially "posed" pictures (aka professional pictures), and he thought we should throw them out.  I thought we should put them to good use.  So, with a little tape and scissors, the homemade white elephant gift was born.  A book.  A keepsake.  A real treasure.  Behold...

"From Frump to Fabulous, Fashion Tips By Steve Christensen"
The pictures we used on the front cover made me bust up when he brought them home from school for the first time because he looks so... so... so looney with his eye half-closed.  They let you get picture retakes, but that would mean Steve would have to sit through another posed photo shoot.  Forget that.
Steve told me what to write, and I wrote each of his tips down.  The book is made from an old cardboard backing from one of his old huge notebooks that we folded into a book.
Maybe you can't tell, but his first year, he wore a Christmasy plaid green shirt with a white-polka-dotted navy tie.

Eva ended up with this book.  Not sure why no one tried to steal it away from her???

Friday, January 17, 2014

Baking Christmas Cookies for Our Neighbors

 This is a guest post by Amara.  Delicious coocis
 bakin in the ovan
 yum amara likes ferosting
 moma geting redy
 looks yummy
 yummy kookis all don
hot no touch

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Loving Faces Say A Sad Farewell

Do you know what happened on December 7th?  Tragedy.  My dear loving brother and his sweet family were abducted by a moving truck destined for Texas leaving no trace behind except a hole in our hearts.
We miss their smiles and their company!  Tons!  However, I've come to grips that life has its turns and bends that we must travel, and sometimes the right path leads to faraway Texas.  I know God has something great in store for them because He wouldn't move them that far from me unless that was the case.  I'm sure of it.

So, I made the trip down to Payson with my mom and my 2 girls to help with the move.  We stayed at April's new place in Spanish Fork, and we had a wonderful time visiting everyone.  It was a blessing to go to the temple one evening for a special person to us all, Grandpa Guting.  We could all feel his love and presence.  Later, it was kinda strange going to Micah's house afterward without any kids.  And you could tell we were all parents because we all noticed how different it was not having your attention split a million different directions.  :)  Needless to say, it was a great evening.

Then the next day the heavens began to weep along with us, for the day arrived and the moving van was in abduction-mode.  It was a COLD December day and the snow let us know it.

See the Payson temple being built in the background?  They had an awesome view from their backyard.
Some people helped by moving things into the truck.  Others were cleaning, and others were trying to keep track of all the kids.  It's good to have family :)

Here are some of the loving faces that I got pictures of that were there to say goodbye.

Parker off to Texas


Silly Lily

Devon (Yuta and Hok- my dad's exchange students- in the background)


Amara.  Can you tell she had a few glazed donuts?


Maxwell again- I'm not sure which picture is better so I put both in.

My girls playing with Brooklyn.   She's so cute!

Baby Brooklyn

Hard-working Spencer


My dad
Lily keeping Brooklyn warm with a blanket. I love that I got a picture of her looking at the camera.
There were others that I didn't get pictured that I can't remember because that was over a month ago and the synapses in my brain didn't make a strong enough connection to remember it all.  Sorry.

 It was a LONG day of HARD work, but we'd do it again for them because we LOVE them TONS!
May Texas serve up some good days for ALL Y'ALL!

Way To Play Amara!

Our family had so much fun watching Amara play Jr. Jazz this past season.  She started the season looking like a lost sheep, but by the end she was dribbling and guarding with the rest of them.  Amara was always excited for her games and she especially liked calling to invite her Grandma and Grandpa Mapother to her games.  They came and supported her.  Her grandpa would keep score in his head (since they don't keep score at these games) and he was even keeping running statistics on every player on the court.  I'm not kidding.  I thought it was great.  Maybe he'll volunteer to be a coach next year... what do you say Tom?

Amara's favorite thing about playing basketball was learning to guard.  Once she figured out how to guard, she loved doing it and took every opportunity she was presented to throw her hands up in front of her opponent's vision.  It was probably my favorite thing to watch her do, too.  It was especially entertaining to see her and her opponent with their arms held high, staring down each other, mid-court, neither of them with the ball, but both of them intent on guarding the other.  Steve was amused by the amount of "face passes" that occured.  Almost every game someone got passed to in the face at point blank range.  No worries, no one was injured.

I had my phone camera that I was learning to use, so I have a few short, yet good videos of her playing (sorry they're a little blurry).  These were taken at her last 2 games.  Enjoy!

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Saturday, January 11, 2014

Frozen Feet, Riding a Camel, and Other Holly Days Stuff

 The weekend after Thanksgiving is Vernal's city celebration called "Holly Days."  This year, the weather turned bitter cold, but we thought we'd dress warm and go ride a camel.  Afterall, none of us has ever done it before and it was F.R.E.E.!!!  In fact every activity was free there, so it attracts a good number of people.

So, we dressed warmly, AND we froze.  If we weren't standing right next to one of the roaring fires that were blazing in metal bins all around, then our hands and feet were iced over.  But we were going to make the most of this free activity, so we braved the bitter.

There were pony rides and the line was pretty short, so we had the girls ride.
Amara named her's Pinky because it's tail was pink.

Lily named her pony Midnight.
 Then we stood in line for 1 and a half hours to ride the camel.  It was so cold!  I cannot express just how cold we were.  That was the longest wait EVER!  But the good news was that the camel was warm when we rode him.
Here's Lily in the front and me on the back.  Steve and Amara went on the camel before us and he took the camera with him, so no pictures of them.
 After the camel, we went to get something to eat and warm up.  Then we went to the indoor arena where there were bouncy houses and such.  The girls got to have some fun.  I was beat.  I sat and watched from the bleachers.
Not pictured:
  • Lily and I went into a money booth and got to catch as much money and coupons as we could in 10 seconds as it blew all around us.  We got 3 bucks and some coupons.  
  • Lily rode a go-cart.  We have a video.  If I find it, I'll post it.
All in all, it was a COLD and fun memory-making day.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Andy the Andean Condor

Back in November on our field trip to Tracy Aviary, Lily took a video of Andy, the Andean Condor.   He is a really cool bird, and the girls loved learning about him and others like him.  It's been almost 2 months since our trip to see Andy, but since I was blogging about him, I thought I'd ask the girls today what they learned to see what they remembered about Andy.

Me: "Lily, what was your favorite thing you learned about condors?"
Lily: "When they're a baby, they can fit in the palm of an adult's hand, but when they grow up, they're huge and weigh as much as Amara (36.8 pounds)!"

 Me: "Amara what was your favorite thing you learned about Andy the Condor?"
Amara: "I like how his wingspan is big!  It's like, bigger than dad!"

Homeschool Fall Field Trips- Salt Lake City

Something I love about homeschool is the opportunity we have to pick up and go on a field trip.  We had that opportunity last month as Steve had a work conference in Salt Lake City for 3 days.  We joined him in his hotel room at the Crystal Inn (by the way- AWESOME breakfast buffet and warm swimming pool- I'd stay there again!).  Here's a picture Lily took of our room:

We used this opportunity as a mini-vacation/ field trip for homeschool.  Each day, my kids did math and reading after the breakfast buffet, and then we were off for some hands on learning.  Every place we went to we basically had to ourselves, since most kids are in school and it's a work week.  That's another perk of a homeschool field trip.  After the field trips, we would head back to the hotel in late afternoon and go for a swim, then be ready when Steve came back so we could go out to dinner! 

Day 1
  • Children's Exhibit at the Church History Museum and Trax train ride
  • April and Devon joined us!  Lunch: Nauvoo Cafe on Temple Square
  • Dinner: Cheesecake Factory

Going fishing!  Devon didn't want to leave this area!

collecting pretend eggs from the chickens

Devon just HAD to wear a skirt like his cousins.  He liked watching it flair out when he spun.

Day 2
  • Tracy Aviary and Gilgal Gardens
  • Dinner: Food Court at City Creek Mall
If you haven't been to Tracy Aviary in awhile, I highly recommend it.  Go when we did- on a mild day in November on a Wednesday.  It only costs a dollar for their "Winter Wednesday."
I let Lily take a camera along to shoot her own pictures.

The leaves were really pretty and falling all around us like confetti at a party.

This bird was fun.  He's a condor and he was showing off for us.

Here's Andy the condor cleaning and spreading his wings.

Lily's wingspan compared to a condor's.

I love Amara's feet in this as she squats to get the right height.

We paid to feed the pelicans.

Sounded like fun, but then, that meant Lily had to touch dead fish.

She was brave.

Look how big their lower beak spreads to catch those fish.

This pheasant looks painted.

Amara's favorite- the bald eagles.

We just learned about flamingos on a nature program the night before, so it was fun to watch them do their thing.

Pretending to be an owl for the owls in behind the fence.

Some of these birds got really close.

And we got really close to some of them.

We liked the look of these trees, so we thought we'd get a few pictures.

Definitely pay to feed the sun conures.  They are a riot and so worth the $3.  Wear long sleeves if you don't like the scratches from the little claws.

Day 3
  • Lunch: Tucanos at the Gateway Mall
  • Children's Discovery Museum
We had a gift certificate to Tucanos and we figured that it would be fun to go during lunchtime because the prices are lower and we could take our whole family to the place where they bring meat around on swords.  The girls enjoyed the experience and got to try new things.  Lily even ate a chicken heart- she didn't really like it, but she wanted to try it.
Lily tried her first quail egg.  She didn't really like it.

Lily took this picture of Amara eating.
Then we were off to the Children's Discovery Museum.  There was a lot of hands-on learning there and we did it all!

Reminds me of Schroeder from Charlie Brown.

Lily is a mail carrier.

Amara is the dog in the house.

It was fun to play in the helicopter.