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?

Jason turns 3!

One week after Kayla's birthday, we get to celebrate our Jason's birthday!  This year we had some extra special visitors for his special day: my cousin Cyndi visiting from LA and my bff Regan, visiting from Hawaii.  I hadn't seen Cyndi in several years (since before Steve & I got married), so it was SO MUCH FUN to have her come meet my little family and see our home for a little bit.  It was even better that she was there for Jason's birthday!  Look at her and Kayla, two gorgeous blue-eyed ladies!

Jason had been asking for months (seriously, at least 4 months) for a Cars cake for his birthday.  He had decided that 3 would be his "Cars birthday".  I was so excited to make the cake for him.

Mater and Lightning on his cake!  He was SOOOOOOO EXCITED when he saw it!  It was utterly delicious too.

Time to open presents!  Who doesn't love coloring books?!

Kayla loves books too!  (Cyndi brought some presents for all the kids just for fun, and a birthday present for K too, since it was just a week earlier.)

Opening his first present from the Ziegenhorns.  We heart Amazon (and their gift wrapping) around here.

Stomp Rockets!!  We still have yet to try these out, but he asks often.  We just need to find a day we can go to the park and do them.  He wants Grampa to take him. ;-)

And the other present from the Ziegs, super hero costumes!!!  Batman, Superman, and Robin!!!

And for his birthday present from Cyndi, a SPIDERMAN BACKPACK!!!  Let me tell you, this was epic.  The boy has a thing for Spiderman and was always wanting a backpack like Jilly's.  This was so perfect!  And it was filled with coloring/activity books, stickers, and other fun Spiderman things.  He was in heaven.

Many well deserved hugs and thank yous for Cyndi.

Kayla had a bit of a hard time backing off and letting Jason open his own presents.  She had just had her party a week earlier, so she was under the impression that all presents were for her.  ;-)

From Regan, a Duple Fire Station!  He hearts this so much.  It's the perfect size and theme for him.  He's since named the Firefighter guy "John" and tells me all about John all the time.  Very cute.

Big hugs and thank yous for Regan as well!

This is one way to keep Kayla occupied so Jason could open his presents undisturbed.

Last up was the present from Mama & Daddy.  It was pretty much a no brainer, as it was two things he'd been begging for, for months.

BELTS!  He always was playing with Jilly's belt and wanting his own.  I found a two pack which was perfect!  He insisted on wearing them both, over his shirt.  Hehehehe.

AND a Cars watch!!!  He always always wants to play with Steve's or my watch, so getting him his own was a dream come true.  Then to have it be a Cars one?  A-ma-zing.  (And Jilly even found it, on clearance, so it was a steal of a price too!)

Mama, Daddy, and the June babies.  We had a very happy 3 year old that night.

At 3 year old Jason:
  • is a total boy.  He loves vehicles of all kinds; cars, trucks, planes, trains, fire engines, boats, etc.
  • is very active.  He loves to run and climb and is very independent on playgrounds.
  • is so sweet and loving.  He is always asking us how our days were (at work or school), concerned about his sisters if they're upset, offers to share his treats with others completely unbidden.
  • is super verbal.  He has an amazing vocabulary and ability to communicate.
  • is a snuggler.  He loves cuddling up with his "babies" (stuffed animals), he likes to sleep in the top bunk with Jilly a lot and we'll find them snuggled together, and curling up with Mama or Daddy while watching TV or reading a book.
  • is so crazy smart and has such curiosity!  He is often asking us these really well thought out questions and absorbs information like a sponge.
  • is a great worker.  He can be depended upon to help clean up, help make dinner, run errands around the house, etc.  He likes to work and he is good at it!
  • has the sweetest smile and kiss and hug ever.  
We love our Goo boy!  He makes our hearts melt everyday!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Ducky turns 1!!!

This Wednesday, our bright, smiley, spitfire Ducky turned 1 year old!!!  It's so hard to believe it's been a year since she arrived in a big surprise.  Here is the first picture of my ONE YEAR OLD on the morning of her birthday.

I couldn't help it.  I just had to take a picture of the big girl walking out of the same bathroom she was born in.  Much different this year from last year!

It turned out to be a beautiful day, warm and sunny, as well as being Jilly's last day of school.  We went  down to the playground early before the bus so the kids could play.  Kayla walked all over the grass and explored the wood chips, even fell down in the dirt and scraped her knees slightly.  Perfect for a one-year-old!

While she was napping, I set out to make her birthday treat.  I had originally planned to make a 3D duck cake, but I never got around to buying the pan.  Plus we were working around some dietary restrictions of someone coming to her party.  Steve suggested Rice Krispy Treats.   I took the idea and ran with it.  My super amazing friend makes the most delicious caramel Rice Krispy Treats ever and I've been intending to make them for a long time.  So I decided to make a double batch and make a duck out of it.

Lemme tell you.  That blue bowl is a BIG one and it is FULL of the yummiest rice krispy treats.  It filled up two 9x13 glass pans.  I cooled them and then used one pan to sculpt the duck.  The other pan I used a cookie cutter to cut out ducks, put them on popsicle sticks, and drizzled chocolate on some.

We had a yummy dinner.  Kayla got sugar snap peas and Kix.  The adults got meatloaf, mashed potatoes, and broccoli.  The kids got chicken nuggets and broccoli.  Our wonderful friends the Schwartzes came over to celebrate with us.  We always love having them over and are totally going to miss them when they move this weekend!

After dinner, the kids played with toys for a few minutes, then it was time to open presents!

First up was the present from the Schwartzes.  Funny story.  So this red gift bag I bought a few years ago.  We have a plethora of wedding and baby girl bags, but pretty much no bags that would be suitable for a boy and/or birthday.  We've been passing it around my family since then.  A couple weeks ago, the Schwartzes invited us to come over for their little guy Z's birthday.  We brought him a present and took it in this red bag.  After we left, I told Steve, "Well, I guess that's the end of the red bag for us."  I laughed a lot when I opened the door and they walked in with this bag for Kayla's birthday!  Hehehe.  Guess it has a few more years in our family after all.

They gave her a very cool Little People SUV with blocks.  Perfect size for her and her favorite pink and blue colors. :-)

Next up were her presents from the Ziegenhorns.  They had been shipped from Amazon along with Jason's presents.  I started helping her open up the first one and looking at the box, under the wrapping paper, it just didn't look right.  I had looked at the packing slip, so I knew what she was supposed to be getting and the box was not it.  So we figured out two of the boxes had had the labels switched.  Good thing we were able to figure it out before opening it entirely.  Now Jason will still have a wrapped present to open on his birthday.  ;-)  The Ziegs gave her the cutest Skip Hop ladybug lunch bag and backpack.  Just adorable!  We're looking forward to using them this summer on our many adventures.

Lastly, we had the present from Mama & Daddy.  This box was another that was given to us as a baby present with Jilly and it was so cute we've saved it.  You can't see it very well, but on the side it has a duck and says "just duckie".  How could we not wrap her present in it?!

A super cute baby doll!  The doll's face lights up and it sings "Go To Sleep" when you squeeze it's tummy.  She LOVES this doll!!!  She fell in love with it in the store and since she opened it, she's kept it close by, even sleeping with it.  When I lay her down for a nap or for the night, she'll cuddle up with her.

After presents it was time for dessert!  The actual eating was delayed several minutes so we could take (many) pictures of the duck.  It turned out pretty cute!  Blue M&Ms for eyes and candy orange slices for the beak.  I did have to put it in the freezer to get it to firm up, but it held up well when I took it out to warm back up so we could eat it.

Here are the ducks-on-a-stick.  Really cute!  And the chocolate made them super yummy.

The big duck and one of the little ones.

All lit up and ready to be blown out!  (She needed a little help actually accomplishing that though. ;-))

The birthday girl loved the rice krispy treats!  She may have gotten more on her dress than in her mouth, but she enjoyed it nonetheless.

Brian helped the big kids figure out how to play with the SUV.

I was taking a picture of Amanda & Kayla, when Jason and Z insisted on being in there too.  All three of the kiddos have June birthdays.

The last little while of the party, Kayla just wanted to snuggle with Amanda.  She was perfectly content on Amanda's lap, playing with her baby.  It was adorable.

To review the last year of Kayla's life:

  • Was born with lots of hair and had her first pigtails done at 4 months old!
  • First tooth popped through at 4 1/2 months, with a second close behind.  Now at 1 year old, has a total of 8 teeth, with four molars pushing their way through.
  • Started crawling at 5 1/2 months old.
  • Sat unsupported on Christmas Day at 6 months old. (Yes, she crawled before she could sit on her own.)
  • Started pulling herself up around 8-9 months.
  • Started taking cruising at 9 months.
  • Started talking a step here and there at 9 months.
  • Started walking full time (and FAST!!!) at 11 months.
  • Has blue eyes and auburn (reddish-brown) hair.  
  • Has a very cute, silly smile.
  • LOVES electronics and will chew on anything she can: phones, remotes, computers, etc.
  • Loves to tease her brother and sister and mess with her parents.
  • Is mostly an easy going, sweet girl, but when she gets irritated she is VERY expressive about it!
  • Is our first baby to be 100% breastfed!  She has never had any formula, only breastmilk either direct from the source or in a bottle when I'm at work.  
  • Is a very adored, very loved, very well taken care of little girl.

Happy Birthday to our beautiful, amazing, sweet, spunky, crazy Kayla!