We wish you a merry Christmas.

It's just a little more magical with children around.

Happy Christmas Eve.
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We're moving to Dallas!

I've been meaning to blog this forever. Sorry.

at&t offered us a job last September. We accepted said job at the end of November. And then we waited and waited for our assigned location. And we finally found out a couple of weeks ago. It was almost anti-climactic. "We could go anywhere!" we would tell people. And it was true. But Dallas is included in that category. So, we head North to being *real life (again) in mid-February. Until then, we are in the land of endless vacation.

*You know, like grown ups, making money and all sorts of crazy stuff.  Maybe there will even be a yard in our future.



I know some people feel like they need to have snow around in the winter time. "It doesn't feel like Christmas... blah blah blah." Not me. I am digging this weather.

Notice the bare feet.

It's not just because I couldn't catch Ella before she ran outside. This is bonafide bare-footedness. High-seventies here.

Gloria in excelsis Deo.

And on earth peace, goodwill to men.
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The Fam.

Well, it was a big weekend for us, as you know. We are done with school! Although Paul did inform me this weekend that he might like to go back to get his Ph.D. Wha?! I told him that when we are independently wealthy he can do whatever he wants.

Paul's parents Jeff and Susan, and his Grandma, Wild Wilda, came out for graduation and we had a wonderful time. There were two graduation ceremonies, the MBA hooding ceremony, and the regular graduation, and I think Paul was glad that he did both, but I sure did my darnedest to get everyone to skip the school graduation, because who wants to watch twelve hundred people walk across a stage? I was in the hallway a lot of the time, trying to keep the girls happy. But they did sing the fight song at the end of the school graduation and that is kind of a big deal at A&M, and I wanted to be down swaying with the grads in that moment, so I'm glad Paul got to be there for that. One last fight song.

The way graduation went is, they called your name, you picked up your diploma and little pockets of people (presumably those who came to see you) would clap or whoop or whatever. I tried to listen and cheer for the people who didn't have a lot of clapping. It's the least you can do. Besides, I kind of like cheering. Well, when the last name was called, the room spontaneously erupted in cheering, and it would have been fun to be that guy. I was kind of jealous. I don't get a lot of cheering in my life. I think if people could cheer at church, I might get some there. I give pretty good talks, and I hold my own on the piano. But, we Mormons are a little lacking in the "spirit" department. (As in "We've got spirit, yes we do", not the other kind.)

In any case, we all cheered for Paul. So that was nice I guess. I still regret that I didn't yell something like, "You're hot!" or "Way to go, Lover!". There's always next time, I guess. I think cat-calling will be a nice touch when Paul gets his next degree.
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Three Letters.


On a related note. I think my M.R.S. is really paying off.

Congratulations, Paul.
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Date Night

Last weekend our high school put on the play Cinderella, and one of my Laurels had the lead, so naturally I wanted to attend. And decided that Ella would make a nice date for the event. So we dressed up. (Yes, I did coordinate our outfits so we are both wearing black and brown.) And headed out for the night. She did great. No problems at all the first act, and about two-thirds of the way into the second act she was ready to go. But, I made her wait it out. And she still wasn't too disruptive. We sat in the front row, and I think that it helped to be so close to the action.

How wonderful to finally have a daughter who is old enough to attend events that are mutually enjoyable. The future is bright.
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Turning thirty... again.

"Thirty!?"  You say.  But how can a woman born in 1982 possibly have reached thirty so early.  Well.  I'll tell you.  Beginning last year, I decided to forgo the formalities of an accurate age and simply round to the nearest pentade.  That means that I will be turning thirty for the next four years.  At which point I plan on rounding to thirty-five for a while.  And then forty.  And so on.  That is, until I hit sixty.  At that point I'm switching to decades.  Until I hit 100.  And then I will switch back to precise age measurement.  Because once you are one hundred, you gain a lot of clout for an extra year or too.

Here's the thing.  Everyone else kind of generalizes age.  ("Oh, she's in her thirties.")  So why shouldn't I just beat them to the punch?

And then you don't have to stop and think, twice a year, when someone actually asks how old you are, to remember how many candles were on the last cake.  After five years of turning thirty, I am dang well going to have an answer ready at hand.

Besides, it's cool to be thirty.

And, as we all know, I am always cool.


We will never ever ever

all be smiling at the same time.


That's all I have to say.
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Just chillin' with my homeboys.

Yes, I did try to put her pant leg down several times.  But she kept pulling it back up, because in the eyes of this two year old, that band-aid represents some serious bling.


She's a nomad. She follows the food.

We had a bag of persimmons sitting on our floor this morning while I was cooking breakfast.  (I picked them from my aunt's persimmon tree last weekend, and they are waiting to be made into something wonderful.)  At one point I glanced down and realized that she had not only found the bag, but consumed a good portion of a persimmon.  The chalky-tasting skin did not seem to deter her in the least.  This girl loves food.  If I have the nerve to eat something and not give her a bite, it is a true tragedy.


Aunt La-La.

I just love Laurel.

Paul, I and the girls stayed overnight in Huntsville before my grandfather's funeral to decrease the driving time for the girls.

Laurel was going to stay at Mom and Archie's that night.

But my mom made her stay with me. Which is funny for a couple of reasons. The first being that Laurel still listens to and does what my mom says. And the second because my mom likes me enough to let me have Laurel overnight. I have a good mom.

Then Laurel whined about how Paul and I went to bed too early.

And then she found out why we go to bed so early when all of us climbed in her bed the next morning.


That magical day.

When I was serving a mission and daylight savings rolled around, I would purposely not set my clock back the  night before and pretend I was sleeping in.  It was glorious.

You gotta celebrate the small stuff.

Happy Daylight Savings everyone!

Here's hoping my kids don't forget to set their clocks back an hour tomorrow morning.


Cute as a Bug in a Rug.

Paul came as our bug catcher, decked out in khaki. There are only so many halloweens where I get to coordinate all the costumes. Before long, Ella will have an opinion of her own.


Roughing It.

I think we look pretty good after a day of camping, don't you?

It's hard not to look good when you're in our family.

Basically, we're hot.

Or pre-hot, as the case may be.

You'll get there soon enough, girls.

In other news, I found an article (read: blog post) that articulates so concisely the benefits of attachment parenting. (Sometimes I like to call blog posts "articles" to legitimize my reading them.  Is that misleading?)  She addresses some principles that I've been thinking about posting for a while, but haven't, for a number of reasons.  Mostly because I have a lot of thoughts and not a lot of time, but I also didn't know if anyone would care :)  Anyhow, just thought I would share.



Brave. Brave. Brave.

Oh yes we did.  We went camping.  With two littles.

Are you so impressed with our daring?

The girls were great.  Happy, with very few exceptions.

One of those exceptions being a very unfortunate encounter with the side of a pond.  All this little girl wanted to do was throw some rocks in the water.  And after she was swallowed by the mud, all she wanted was some love and attention.  But what did her dad do?  He got out the camera.  I guess I'm not much better, I did step aside briefly so he could get a good shot.

We were the only people in our camping area.  No one wanted the "non-electrical" sites.  And the bathroom was a distant trek.  But it was nice and secluded.  And cheap.  And that is the Christensen way.


'Til we meet again.

Tuesday morning my Mom called to tell us it was time to drive out to Huntsville to say goodbye to Grandad. He was diagnosed with cancer last Christmas, and true to his nature, has been fighting the good fight ever since then. But he took a turn for the worse early last week, and, well, it was his time.

The day blurred together, taking shape only in segmented moments: the brilliant blue of a cloudless day, tear-spent eyes, warm, long, sincere embraces, the slow path of tears down my own face, the shock and pain at the sick man who only months ago was so vibrant. It was unifying beyond all description, to grieve and mourn and love and laugh as a family, to remember, to accept, to release to the Lord. We held his hand, and showed off babies, recounted stories and news, and in quiet moments, leaned close and whispered our love to him.

I wish I had had the courage to tell him what I was thinking. That Jesus lives. That his Atonement is real; infinite and eternal, perfect and beautiful. That God has a plan, and it doesn't end in this life, or the next. That we would see each other again. I didn't want him to know that I knew that he was dying. I wanted to pretend that our gathering together was just another day like so many others. But it wasn't. And he knew it. And I knew it.

Charlotte did, too. She cooed at Grandad and held his hand, staring past his broken body, mesmerized, into his sentient eyes. And I wondered what she saw. The only time I heard him speak was when the baby was in the room. He lit up. Their spirits connected beyond the rest of us there that day. Perhaps communicating those same thoughts that were at the forefront of my own mind. This is not the end, just the next step on the path back Home.


Oh so chubby.

When Ella was a baby, I was sure that the reason she was a late crawler/walker was because she was so chubby and so tall. She had too much body, therefore it took her longer to figure out how to use it effectively.

I stand corrected.

So chubby. So tall. So mobile.

How did she get so dang cute?


She has her Dadd'n's eyes.

Don't you think? This was taken at an outdoor Jazz concert a couple of weeks ago. I always think I'm going to like Jazz. Because I'm hip and with-it. I never do. We left early and hit a string quartet playing in a church a few blocks over (it was a big community arts event that night). Much more my style. We had to leave after the first movement, though, because, well, we have two children, and it was basically a miracle that they lasted that long without a too painful interuption.

Charlotte has started "cruising" along the couch after she pulls herself up into a standing position. It is ridiculous how motivated she is to get around. Chill-ax, Char. You have the rest of your life to discover every possible thing in the world, just be a little baby for a little while longer. Okay, this is almost embarrassing to tell, because I sound like one of those moms that assigns characteristics to their child that are just way beyond their developmental capabilities. But, I swear, this is real. Yesterday, she let go of the couch, and tried to take a step. Total face plant. Not even close to success. And I know it could have just been her falling down on accident, but I watched the whole thing, and it looked so deliberate. I am just blown away by that girl's determination. She must get it from her dad.

Speaking of getting things from her dad. Ella asked to watch Blues Clues this morning. (Like she does every day.) And I told her, "No." (Like I do most days.) And then she asked, "Watch football?!" Paul tries to get Ella excited about football all weekend long. I guess his evil plan is working.


Oh yes she did.

So, there we were, watching General Conference, and Char crawls over to the couch, and proceeds to pull herself up into a standing position!! What the heck?! The first time she tried, she completely lost her balance and toppled over as soon as she made it to her feet. But her second attempt resulted in a successful stint at standing while holding on to the couch. She also tried to pull herself up using the toilet this evening while I was reading Ella a story before bed. Nipped that one in the bud. She has really blossomed in the last few weeks, crawling over to wherever the action is and putting herself in the middle of it. So stinkin' fun. She loves playing with Ella, and is completely enamored with everything Ella does. You can just see it in her eyes "Oooh! Look at Ella jump! That is magnificent!" And Ella is an amazing older sister, most of the time.

Both of my girls are just so fun and darling. I love being a mother. Ella and I went to the park with several friends for dinner this evening, while our husbands went out to eat and went to the Priesthood session of conference. On the way, Ella asked, "Where did Dadd'n go?"

"He went to a meeting to learn about Jesus and Heavenly Father."

"And the moon?" was her reply.

"Ummm, maybe. We can ask Dad when he gets home if he learned about the moon."


We've never had one of those 'funny kid conversations'. I felt like I had arrived as a parent. Shout it from the rooftops, "I have a child who says random, and slightly amusing things!" Oh yeah. It's good to be me.


Dancing with the Normal People

Okay. This picture has nothing to do with the post. But I still like it. Let me just put that out there.

The other thing I want to say is: If they ever have a show called "Dancing with the Normal People", I am in.

The glitz. The glamor. The gaiety.

Every time we watch Dancing with the Stars, I just imagine myself twirling around that floor. Accepting the judges praises with dignity and poise. Spouting off witty one liners, like I was made to entertain. If America knew who I was-- I would rock that show. Mirror ball trophy, here I come. "Dance experience?" they ask. I am exclusively a living room diva! (Except for one unfortunate year of ballet at the age of five.)

Unfortunately, I'd rather shoot myself in the foot than be famous.... so we're really going to have to hope for a new show, because I'll never be a star. So, America, rally with me. Who will be my co-contestants on Dancing with the Normal People?


I love feeding my babies solid foods. There's just something unifying about sharing a meal with someone. Including your own child. Charlotte is a fan so far. We had watermelon last night. For a six month old, she did pretty good. This is Charlotte's first time feeding herself ever. All of the other foods I've given her aren't very self-feeding friendly. Oatmeal? I tried that. She just dumped the bowl all over herself. Oh yeah. That's why Ella used to have to eat straight off her tray. We weren't just uncouth, we were avoiding food disaster. It'll be nice when Charlie's ready for finger foods, but for now, she just gets the mashed up version of whatever single ingredient food we have at the meal. (Usually the vegetable. The watermelon was officially dessert, though.) I was so into baby foods with Ella. I made purees and froze them, and defrosted them (sans microwave) dutifully to eat exactly one hour after breastfeeding, so as not to interfere with her appetite for the good stuff (breastmilk). I introduced one new food every three days for MONTHS. No more of that. She eats when the rest of us are hungry. Honestly, she really doesn't get enough to interfere. And since we have a varied diet, she basically gets three new foods a day. Don't tell Dr. Sears.

My roommates are going to love this. Ella has recently decided to take off her pajamas after we put her to bed. So she sleeps in the (mostly) nude. (Yep, she's mine.) But, get this. She puts her pajamas away, in her top drawer. Yes. She strips, and then puts her clothes away, in the middle of the night. Paul and I don't even put our clothes away when we are wide awake. Somehow, Kate imbibed some of her clean-freak-ness into my genetic code when we lived together all those years ago. Thanks, Kate.

Ella had a late afternoon meltdown at Target today. So what did I do? I called my friend and asked if she would babysit. And then I drove straight to her house, fed my baby, and left my kids there. IT WAS GLORIOUS! Paul and I got home about the same time, when I surprised him with the news. Take out in the comfort of our own home was just what I needed. My little Char is not sleeping well, and I have felt a bit on the edge (of sanity, you know). I am rejuvenated. No sleep required. (Well, I will require sleep, but this evening did the trick without it. But sleep would still be good. Excellent, actually. Just keep that in mind, cyberspace.)

That's a wrap.
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Late is better than never.

Well, Sunday morning, we squeezed Charlotte into an (almost) thirty year old blessing gown. (Suck it in, Charlie!) And Paul gave her a name and a blessing. She's only five and a half months old. I was worried Charlotte would kind of flip out, you know, being surrounded by men in a big circle could be intimidating, but Archie said it was the only blessing circle that he's ever been in where the baby was playing with the ties of all the men in the circle. Cute.


We left our camera charger in Utah.

And that's why I'm still posting vacation photos.

It's sad because, I might have been able to get a video of Ella singing "Happy Birthday, dear Dadd'n". Which she has been singing on and off since I taught it to her on Tuesday. (Yes, Paul is the big Two-Nine.) (But I like to tell people he is thirty, like I accidentally forgot.) (Because it makes him mad.) (He doesn't get that thirty is the new twenty.) My original plan was for her to sing just the last word in each phrase, like she does most other songs. But, I failed to account for the fact that it basically has the same lyrics in each phrase, so she picked it up pretty quickly. So that was fun. Another "trick" for Paul to try to get her to do to impress the family. Which she, no doubt, will refuse to perform on command. Kids these days.

I do love this picture, though. The morning after we arrived in Utah, the first thing Paul did was pull out the golf clubs and hollow golf balls out of grandma's garage. (Which wait for him there, no matter how long it's been since we've visited.) And started hitting balls accross the yard.

I watched him from inside, and watched my sweet daughter try her luck with a golf club of her own, and it just felt like home. Grandma's house is one of those few places that seems to stand still in time. We can change, and grow, and have crazy amounts of babies, and still know that there are cookies in the freezer, and ham and cheese in the fridge. We can invite friends over for game night, and know that Grandma will stay up with us all hours of the night playing something she'd never even heard of until that day. We can all sit around talking for hours, or just sit reading our own books companionably. We have Sunday dinner, and gather in the kitchen to clean up, which for some reason, is one of my favorite times. Maybe because it was in that kitchen, doing those dishes, that I first knew that I belonged to the Christensens, the same way I belong to my own family. It was a nice vacation.

Life is going on about as usual here. Paul still studies more than I would like. But, I'm just being selfish. He's doing great in school, and we are hoping to hear if we have an offer from at&t this week. Wish us luck!


Home again, home again...

It's nice to be home. We are all adjusting back from a looooooong day of driving on Saturday. We left at 4 am, and rolled in to College Station at 3:30 am. Yeah. It was a long drive. We did lose two hours due to time zones, so it was more like 22 hours on the road, rather than the 24 that it seems. Still a long time.

I just love our family. This trip we visited with Paul's family almost exclusively, but after five years of marriage (and several years of dating before that), they are my family, too. In fact, the trip was my idea. Paul fought me on it for a while. (And can you blame him? We probably logged 60 hours of driving time over the last two and a half weeks.) But I just cannot bear the thought of my girls not knowing our sweet family. Even though they might be too little to notice.

Arizona was hot. But we mostly stayed inside, with the occasional early morning or late afternoon swim. Ella calls Carolyn "Aunt Cee-Cee", She even puts the 'aunt' on the front, which is cute. It became clear early on that 'Carolyn' was too difficult for Ella's unpracticed tongue. It worked out well.

Carolyn swears that she will be the strict aunt, but I just have to laugh, because I don't know how she will ever be anything except "Fun Aunt Carolyn". The first thing she did was paint Ella's toenails hot pink. Ella spent the whole trip showing off her toenails. Ah well, time will tell. But I have my money on "Fun Aunt Carolyn" rather than "Boring and Rule-Abiding Aunt Carolyn".
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A little of this and a little of that.

Lots of time in the car. Imagine our surprise when Charlotte was thrilled that Ella climbed up on her lap.
A little sight seeing with Grandma Christensen. How we love visiting her. The comfort of Grandma's house is as good as ever.
A little crawling. The strength is there. The coordination is not.
A lot of visiting. Enjoying the friendship of roommates, family, and friends. Once a room-ie, always a room-ie.

A lot of playing. Still loves balls.



Because my and Paul's brothers and sisters have not been so accomodating when it comes to creating cousins for our children to play with, it was really fun to see Ella playing with her second cousins, Jed and Giovanna. Yea for family! We are having a marvelous time here in Utah. The wedding was magnificent. And Sunday we had a lovely family dinner with the Christensen clan. We are looking forward to a fun week visiting with friends and family.

Also of note, Charlotte is beginning to crawl. Mostly backwards, but she did somehow go forward the other day when I wasn't looking. She also got her first tooth. And grabs any food within reach, because she is clearly ready for solids before I am. Ella began using her first preposition: the word "by". As in, "Tee-tee by bush?" Yes. I let her go outside once in her whole life and this is what happens. Ah well, she is telling us when she has to go a lot more often now... in hopes that she will be able to go "by bush".


How did this even happen?

Ella is two. Twenty-five months actually. And I never posted birthday pictures. Or a sweet little list of all the things she does that are cute. Mostly because I'm a bad mom.

In spite of that, she is basically just the most beautiful, wonderful girl. When Laurel came out for Ella's birth, she told Hunter that Ella was "so sweet". And Hunter asked, "How can you even know that?" And I don't know how much you can know about a newborn, I imagine they are all sweet. But sweet is the word that people use most often to describe Ella. Her nursery leaders, her Mother's Day Out teachers, friends who babysit for us. She is truly sweet.

Right now she is upstairs singing to "Beebee Da-ee" (Baby Charlie) because she woke up from her nap and started fussing. So Ella ran up to comfort her. Again, because I'm a bad mom. Or maybe I'm just a really good delegator.

Alright, I just heard her say "Eat, Baby, Eat." I have to go.



Happy Saturday! Paul made us a yummy breakfast this morning, and as we finished up Ella looked at him and asked, "Dadd'n mi-ming?" (Mi-ming = Swimming, ask me how long that took to figure out. Weeks. She talked about swimming for weeks without me even remotely understanding what she meant.) Mi-ming is a question that is asked at least three times a day, and invariably after dinner.

This is because, four times out of five, we go swimming after dinner. And at least twice a week Ella and Charlotte and I go while Paul is at work. Plus once or twice on Saturdays. And Ella loves it. Sometimes we put a floatie on her, and sometimes not. Regardless of her floatation devices, she fearlessly and tirelessly explores the pool.

So much fun.
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