Monday, July 8, 2013

I do still exist!

Oh, that's right.  I have a blog.  And the last time I blogged, it was about our reunion a whole year ago. Oops.  Let's see if we can do the short story catch up.

The summer was cool one, that finally got going in August.  We didn't spend as much time as we would have liked outside, but we did get to do some fun things like go to Jetty Island, Forest Park, and more.  At the end of August, we were given a set of bunk beds for the Js.  WOOHOO!!  Jason got to move to a big boy bed, and Kayla got to move out of our bed, into the crib!  All three kids in one small bedroom, but hey, it works well enough.

In September, Jilly started Kindergarten!!!!  It was shocking that she was old enough to be in elementary school, but it also wasn't a big change, because it was the same basic schedule she'd had with preschool.  We found out there were a few other little girls her age in our complex!  She made some great friends.  As the school year started, we didn't think she would be in the school for very long.  Steve graduated with his MBA (YAY!!!!), so we were hoping he would get a new job, and we would move quickly.  It didn't work out that way.  The first week of October, he was laid off.  UGH.  We were back to where we had been three years before, but this time with an MBA (and it's debt) and another kid.  So I went back to work full time and Steve became full time stay at home dinner.  We are very grateful that I have a job, which was able to give me full time hours immediately.  We hoped it would be a short term situation.

Jilly turned 6 in November, and loved her Aurora cake.  We celebrated a very fun Christmas as well.  As the winter moved forward, we had a good routine of me working 4 days a week (some days in the Accounting department, and some for Reservations), while Steve took care of everything at home.  In February, Kayla and I took a trip to Connecticut to visit my Auntie Terry, Uncle Kevin, and Grandma Chris.  It was the weekend of the anniversary of my dad's death, so I wanted to be with his family.  It also coincided with my cousin Bailey being there to visit.  It was a hard time getting there, since I was flying standby, but I finally made it on the second day, thanks to some awesome Southwest agents, and help from some wonderful fellow passengers and flight attendants.  Lemme tell you, traveling standby, with carry-on only luggage, by yourself, with a toddler on your back is NOT easy.  She mostly did pretty well, but had a few freak outs while we were there.  I think we sang Popcorn Popping and Head Shoulders Knees & Toes approximately 1,784 times that weekend. ;-)  But it was a very nice weekend of reminiscing, learning about my family history, and general camaraderie.

March marked Steve's and my 8th wedding anniversary!  It also brought the beginning of a very busy time for me.  My work decided to move to an entirely new (to us) and different reservations system.  We worked with the software company to tailor the program to our needs, while revising policies and procedures to work better with the new system.  It was a super busy time.  We went 'live' on April 9th.  I worked about 50+ hours a week the last couple weeks of March, then April 1-8th, I worked 90 hours.  NINETY hours in 8 days.  I only heard about 30 minutes of General Conference, because I was working every other minute of it.  It was a hard time for me, because I would literally get up, go to work, work until I couldn't think straight anymore, come home, fall asleep in my chair, eat dinner, wake up enough to stumble to the kids' room and "help" put them to bed, then stumble to my own bed.  Lather, rinse, repeat for about 2 weeks solid.  Insane.  I survived it all, thanks to my super duper amazing husband who kept everything running smoothly and everyone take care of, including me.  Not a single word of negativity from him about it, just total support.  Love that man.  Once we went live, I still worked 45-50 hours a week for a few weeks with training and such, but glad to say, I am down to just 40 hours a week now!

After all of that insanity, I wanted to do something very special for my Moozsh.  One of his favorite comedians was coming to town, and after all of that nutso overtime, I decided to use some of the money to take him out to it.  I planned a whole, elaborate night out for him.  I eventually had to tell him that I had a surprise date planned, but I wouldn't give him any details about it.  That Friday night came and Bailey and Elise showed up to babysit (as he expected), and we took off.  As we got in the car, I handed him an envelope with the driving directions to our destination.  He was totally confused as to why we were going to the Tulalip resort!  When we arrived, I handed him another envelope with the tickets to the show.  We had a blast!  It was so funny.  Totally profane, but really really funny.  We got back out to our car and were heading home, when I drove past out exit.  I went past the second one, without a word from Steve, finally getting off at the third.  At this point, I was annoyed he hadn't said anything, so I handed him the third envelope.  Surprise!  I had reserved a hotel room for us for the night, gotten the next day off work, and Bailey and Elise were staying with the kids overnight!!!  I think that was the most surprising part for him.  I had packed a bag and hidden it in the car and everything.  I had SO MUCH fun planning and executing the surprise for him.  He totally deserved it.

Contrary to our expectations at the beginning of the year, Jilly finished Kindergarten at the same school she started.  She loved her teacher and learned so much during the year!  Her handwriting, which was her biggest struggle, has really improved.  Midway through the year, she was re-evaluated for her IEP.  At the meeting, it turned out she didn't quite qualify for services anymore.  She wasn't entirely caught up, but not behind enough to warrant continued services.  We found out some things that just made us laugh.  For example, she has the expressive vocabulary of a 12 years and her antonyms (usage/understanding) is off the charts for her age.  But she's still behind physically mostly, and struggles to rein in her focus and follow directions.  Her physical therapist commented that Jilly would often get very distracted by all the motivational posters in the therapy room; she'd much rather read them all, than do the physical exercises/play.  But the running theme from everyone was how sweet and happy she is.  We are going to keep a close eye on her as she moves into 1st grade, and if she starts struggling, then we'll push for another evaluation, to see if she needs services again.

So that brings us to this summer!  I have gotten my work scheduled regulated and set, so I work Wed for Accounting, and Thurs-Sat for Charters (reservations).  It keeps me busy, it's definitely summer, but it's work I enjoy and there's always something new to learn, which I love.  It also means I have Sun-Tues off.  It is sooooo nice to have three days off in a row.  Well, two really.  Sunday is never really a day off, especially not when you spend two hours of church teaching (like Steve, who teaches Gospel Essentials and Teaching No Greater Call) or with all the toddlers (like me, who was called as Nursery leader at the beginning of June), not to mention the time you spend wrestling your own kids. ;-)  But we both love our callings, a lot.  We just celebrated Kayla & Jason's 2nd and 4th birthdays, and my brother and sister were home for a visit.  (I'll blog about those separately.)  This summer we'll have a visit from Steve's sister Becky, then our birthdays, and see where else the summer takes us.  The weather has been quite nice so far, so hopefully we'll spend lots of time outside and maybe get these Js swimming!

Here's to keeping up the blog more regularly!

Sunday, July 7, 2013

The Fall

Jilly's first day of Kindergarten!  I had another outfit planned, but it was super hot that day, so I switched to this.  She had picked out the shirt for her first day.  I think the pink sparkly purse was what sold her on it.  ;-)

Daddy came home on his lunch break to see his big girl get on the bus.

Her new friends, Piper and Colleen!  It was so fun to meet other kids her age in the complex.

Look at that cute Kindergartner.

Playing on the playground.

Later in the fall, Jilly was invited to go to dance class with a friend.  She was SO EXCITED to go to ballet class.  She especially loved the ribbon twirling at the end.

We borrowed these Curlformers from the same friend for Halloween.  They made gorgeous curls, so Granny got us some for Jilly's birthday!

New room

In August 2012, we were gifted a set of bunk beds, which was amazing.  It meant we were finally able to put all three kids in the same room, and have our bed back for just us!  Kayla had been co-sleeping with us, which I loved, but it was time to move on and out.  ;-)

Here is what their room looked like originally, with the crib in front as you walked in, the dresser on the other side, and the toddler bed in the corner.

And with the new bed!  Jason's bed and new sheets, which match perfectly with his quilt.

Jilly's top bunk with a pink quilt (hers was still under reconstruction).

Kayla's crib, with her beautiful quilt!

All the beds together.  Definitely cozy, but it works.

Summer Activities

Here's a quick photo dump for our adventures from Summer 2012!

Celebrating all the June birthdays (Kayla's 1st, Jason's 3rd, and Granny's 50th!) 

We watched a lot of the Olympics, which the kids loved.  One night Steve pulled out some medals he'd won in high school and the kids LOVED wearing them.  Lots of "U-S-A!  U-S-A!!" chanting.

I made a crazy decadent dessert, of cheesecake, chocolate mousse, and ganache on top.  It was amazeballs.

We went to Jetty Island with play group.  Way fun, even if I did scorch my back so badly I could barely get dressed or move for days.

That's a cute baby.

We got to do a little bit of swimming in our pool.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Family Reunion

The weekend before 4th of July we had a family reunion.  It was the Christensen Family, so my siblings and I, my dad's sister and her family, and their cousin Cyndi and one of her sons.  It had been 9 1/2 years since the last time all of us cousins were together, so it was long overdue.  Sadly, one of Cyndi's sons and his wife couldn't make it (we missed you, Kenji & Ale!), but to have everyone else and their spouses was amazing!

Cyndi had arrived into Seattle on Jason's birthday, in the afternoon.  She spent the afternoon and evening with us and then headed to the airport super late to pick up Koby & Lyndsey, who landed after 11pm.  She brought them up to our apartment, where they camped in our living room for the night.  The next morning, they wanted to see Seattle before heading out to the cabin for the reunion.  The kids and I took them down to Lake Union and tried to get them on a scenic flight through my work.  Alas, there were no seats available.  But it was a beautiful day and we got to watch a couple planes take off from the South Lake Union Park.  My kids were pretty enamored with Koby & Lyndsey & Cyndi and I totally loved having an extra set of hands!

My cousin Kenji's wife, Ale, designed these really cool t-shirts for all of us for the reunion.  The front showed where everyone came from (CT, TX, CA, AZ, and UT) and where we came to (WA, though some of us were already here).

The back had everyone's names from my Grandpa Chris and his sister, Aunt Elaine, and all their descendants.  So fun to see!!

Here is a picture of all of us from this generation, in birth order.  We're just missing Kenji, who is just younger than Katie.  From left to right: Aimee, Bailey, Katie, Gator, Koby, Andy, and Kylee.  That's 8 kids in just over 6 years from oldest to youngest.  

Friday Katie flew home and the kids and I picked her up from the airport.  We hung out at our place for a little while, then she went back to Mom & Paul's with Jilly to spend the night.  Andy met them there the next morning.   The June babies and I waited until Steve was done with work and we picked him up there.  We took off for the cabin that night.  It was about 2 1/2-3 hours to drive out there, but it was a really pretty drive.  We got there when it was dark, but had a nice evening with all the Bells and Watanabes.

The next morning Katie, Andy, and Jilly showed up and finally we were all together!!  It was going to be the only night we were all together (Steve, Kylee, and Ryan all had to leave Sunday afternoon) so we made the most of our day.  We took a major hike in the Olympic National Forest.  It ended up being a much longer hike than we anticipated, but it was a lot of fun.  It had been raining a lot, so the ground was really muddy.  My little princess Jilly was sooooo mad that I made her wear jeans and tennis shoes.  She only wanted her skirt and sandals.  Sorry, chickie, it's cool, muddy, and might rain, you're wearing long pants and tennis shoes. ;-)  She was so mad that she refused to listen to us, wouldn't hold hands, wasn't wanting to walk or anything.  Very grumpy.  BUT, the magic of being with so many people (especially since mine were the only little kids, a whole bunch of childless couples) is that there was always some to help out with the kids.  So they got Jilly to walk with them and she happily skipped off.

It probably took us a lot longer than it should have to hike to the end of the trail, because we kept stopping to take a ton of pictures.  But dude, we got some awesome ones.  Look at my cute brother and my super cute son, taking a rest on a tree trunk on our way.

There was lots of time for goofing off.  This is one of my favorite pictures of my sister ever!  She's so much fun!

When we got to the end of the trail, we took a ton more pictures.  This is of all the girls.  Back row: Lyndsey, Cyndi, Kayla, Bailey, Elise, Aimee, Kylee, Robli.  Front row: Terry, Jilly, and Katie.  Wow, think we like the "eee" sound for ending names in this family?  Hahaha!  And Jilly was still being a stinker and not wanting to face the camera.  Punk.  :-P

All the boys.  Left to right: Ryan, Steve, Jason, Andy, Gator, Kevin, Koby.  For the record Gator is not his legal name.  It's a nickname he got when he was born and used almost exclusively until middle school.  So that it was I have always and will always call him.

There were some cool places to climb up into fallen trees.  My kiddos got up into this cave-ish spot.  Cuties.

Andy really had fun.  This picture doesn't show how high up he was.

The river was beautiful!  We hiked along it the whole time.

At the end of the hike, all sweaty and tired, but we had a great time!  Back row: Steve, Andy, Koby, Lyndsey, Bailey, Elise, Kevin, Ryan.  Standing in front of them: Terry & Kylee.  Front row: Aimee, Kayla, Cyndi, Jilly, Jason, Katie, Gator, Robli.

You would think going on a 2 mile hike with 3 little kids would be miserable, but it ended up being a lot of fun!  Kayla traveled great; I carried her on my back in the Ergo on the way out there and my super awesome cousin Bailey offered to take her on the way back.  (How cute are they?!)  Jilly walked well, kept up nicely, and Jason was seriously impressive.  There he is, a couple days after his 3rd birthday with these short little legs (compared to everyone else), and he was such a trooper!  He did ask Koby and others to help carry him back, but after a couple minutes he'd want to walk by himself again. It could have been awful, but it was great instead!

That night we did plenty of hanging out, chatting, telling stories, and playing games out at the beach park on Lake Cushman.  The next morning, Sunday, we had a morning devotional, with songs (Jason and I picked Nursery songs like Popcorn Popping), and gospel discussions.  Then it was game playing times.  Let me just tell you, in this family, games are serious business.  Blood has been drawn, bones have been broken playing Spoons.  This time we managed not to cause such injuries, but there was still plenty of laughing, yelling, and scrapping around.  

The table was a little awkward, because we were all crammed around an oval, but it worked out.

It was a fabulous time!  We also played Tripoly, which was a blast.

Sunday evening, Steve had to go home so he could work Monday and Tuesday.  Terry & Kevin also drove Kylee & Ryan to the airport so they could fly home.  It was a quiet evening, where we just played with the kids and hung out.  Monday was a less than perfect weather day, but we were still able to get out and play outside a bit.  I took a ton of pictures with people holding my kids because they were so invaluable!  I couldn't have managed without a meltdown of my own, without them!  

It was also time to say goodbye to the Watanabes, as they had to head home.  My kids were so in love with Koby.  The Js would wander around calling for him.  So cute.

Gosh, Cyndi and Jason have the best smiles!

This was literally the ONLY picture I got of the three kids together.  Auntie Terry did some beautiful french braids in Jilly's hair.

That night Bailey & Elise gave Jason his birthday present (since they were already at the cabin on his bday).  It was the long-awaited, much anticipated Cars movie!!!  I can't even tell you how excited he was.  This picture only shows about 10% of his excitement.  It was sooooo cute.  We turned it on for him and he sat and watched the entire thing.  Just heaven for a little boy.

Kayla especially loved Robli & Gator.  And their water bottle.  ;-)  She kept picking it up and running away with it.  Good thing Robli is so sweet and let her play with it so much.

Tuesday we went to the beach park again.  It was really windy, but we played on the playground for awhile anyway.  Katie spun Jilly on the merry-go-round, which she totally loved.

Katie & Andy left that evening to head home and see my parents who had just gotten back from Spain (lucky ducks!).  The rest of us (Terry & Kevin, Gator & Robli, Bailey & Elise, and me & my kids) headed out to near the Alderbrook Resort on Hood Canal for their big fireworks display (it was July 3rd, afterall).  We went to a yoga center and saw a concert of a choir singing mostly pop tunes.  Fun, but a bit uncomfortable b/c we ended up sitting on the floor.  Uncle Kevin and Gator stayed outside with my girls, while Jason came in with me and the girls.  After the concert was over, we went back outside and sat on the grass and watched the fireworks.  Very fun, even if it was late.

I definitely had to get this picture.  Jason is in his Gator shirt, with cousin Gator!  When we were in Connecticut a couple years earlier, Jason had Gator jammies and we got a picture of him in them with cousin Gator.  I'll have to make sure he has another Gator shirt for whenever we see Gator next!  :D

Wednesday we packed and cleaned everything up.  Bailey and Elise took off with the Js to head back to their place, because Elise was flying out that evening.  Kayla and I drove back with Terry, Kevin, Gator and Robli.  Steve was going to pick up the Js from Bai & Elise, then come meet us to get me & K, but we made such good time, that we ended up going all the way to Bai's and just exchanged everyone at the same time.  Of course, the last day of the reunion, the weather totally cleared up and became gorgeous and sunny and warm.  We were sad to say goodbye, but it was such an amazing weekend!  Goodbye hugs for Auntie Terry!

And Uncle Kevin (even though he was on the phone).

And of course, Gator and Robli!

It was a super duper deluxe family reunion with tons of fun time, good food, and fabulous people.  What more could you ask for?