Sunday, March 1, 2015


We had the chance to go to Utah as a family last week.  Brad was able to schedule two interviews during the week, so it was completely worth it for all of us to head down there.  We spent a week enjoying time with grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins, and friends.  The week went by so fast, and we enjoyed every minute of it. Ivan was quite the trooper during the drive and we only had about 3 major scream sessions on the 12 hour drive to and from our destinations

The weather in Utah was unusually warm.  Ellie and Chris spent an afternoon working in the yard with Grandpa.  Grandpa was working on his beehives, and they were quite interested.  He taught them a little about his bees.  They even got to taste honey straight from the honey comb.

We spent an afternoon with the Winter cousins at the Treehouse Museum.  Ellie and Ainsley were so fun to watch.  They just picked up on their friendship as if it hadn't been months since they last saw each other.  
Hyrum and Christian enjoying the dinosaur exhibit.

  Going to Utah, Christian was  most excited to shoot Grandpa with a Nerf gun.  He was also very excited to meet the Stout's new puppy Sniffy.  He was pretty excited about the idea, but just didn't really take to Sniffy's energetic personality upon actually meeting him.  Despite only really seeing Sniffy through the window, Christian now talks about some day getting a dog "with no whiskers like Sniffy."  
Lee helped Christian and Ellie build a big big big lego tower the morning we left.  They are still talking about how cool it was.  
On our drive home, we spent the night in Pendleton.  the last 45 minutes before arriving there, you have to go over a pass and Ivan just hated the whole idea.  He screamed for over a half hour while Brad drove on wet, foggy roads with bad headlights.  I tried desperately to keep Ivan quite with multiple attempts to stick his binky in his mouth, without success.   This is him as soon as we got to the hotel though.....happy as a clam.  Silly Boy.  Sadly, he has given up on the binky all together since we got home.  It's as if he knew he would want it for the trip, and that's it.  

When we got home, I couldn't believe how much this little man had changed.  He just looked so different in the familiar environment of our home after having been without it for a week.  We are struggling with naps and sleeping through the night now days, which I am not loving.    He's got a voracious appetite and is eating about every  2 1/2 hours pretty regularly.  He wakes up once or twice during the night and even woke up 3 times once this week (yuck).  This week he also rolled over from belly to back, has been grabbing at things, and has just been super smiley.  

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Winter Children

I feel like time is flying by so fast.  Heck, I'm a mother of three and I still don't feel like a grown up.  I sure don't act like a grown up some times, that's for sure.  Thank goodness I have a very patient husband who fills in the gaps.


Ellie is such a sweet girl.  I am so happy to have her as a big sister to both Chris and Ivan.  Since Ivan has been born, she has been such a good helper.  She is always willing to help me out by getting a diaper or a burp cloth when I am detained.  She dotes over Ivan all the time, which is so different from baby brother #1.  She loves to show him his dinosaur toy that she and Chris got him for Christmas (a triceratops named isosceles).  She also still loves to read him stories.  I think it is so sweet when she talks baby talk to him.  It's just so cute. 

Ellie and Christian get along for the most part.  It's good they can occupy themselves because of how much time it takes to care for a baby.  She does get her feelings hurt easily.  She also doesn't like it when she doesn't get her way.  But she just finds the trusty pink blanket and the thumb automatically pops in the mouth to comfort her.


Christian is all boy.  He loves trucks, cars, tools, and his specialty is knowing perfectly how to bother his sister.  He loves to play with his "Site Trucks" (construction site has been shortened to just site).  It is a good thing he is so darn adorable.  Because, since Ivan arrived, he has taken the terrible twos to another level.  But when he is not pouting or yelling or evading clean up, etc. he makes me smile.  He is at an age where he is often in a fantasy world playing and everything he says is extremely cute.  One of the cutest things I have noticed about him these past few months is his attempt at trying to understand time: yesterday, today, tomorrow.  He just gets so confused that tomorrow is now today, and that today eventually becomes yesterday.  He actually has gotten quite frustrated on occasion when trying to figure this quandary out.  


I know it is cliche, but this boy is just getting so big so fast!!  No, he has not figured out his sleep/wake schedule yet, but he sure loves to smile!  It is amazing to see the difference in personality from the other kids even at such a young age.  Ivan is definitely his own person.  And we love him so much.

Anyway, sorry for the kid post.  I just love these 3 little monsters so much I had to share.  

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Grandparents and Blessing

The day after New Year's Grandma and Grandpa Hooper came out to visit us!!  The kids were sooooo excited, they had their noses up against the window looking for them for most of the day.  Because we missed the annual Winter Nerf War back in Utah, Grandpa was good enough to bring a little nerf war to us.  Chris was in heaven.  I think he could spend every minute of every day shooting Grandpa.  On Saturday we went to the Newport Aquarium.  We all had a blast.  Then Sunday we were able to bless our handsome little Ivan Alan.  My (Brad), great uncle Lloyd Colvin was able to join our little circle.

Two Nerf Warriors ready for battle!

Grandma made a very good friend while here.

This is his "serious, pensive pose"

Our proud priesthood men.

Such a happy family!

Having fun at the Oregon Coast Aquarium

Christian's absolute favorite part was the shark tank

Chomp! Chomp!
This little man is getting too big too fast

New Years

New Years Eve is definitely different when you have young children.  We celebrated with Ellie and Chris early in the evening.  We had a year in review scavenger hunt, a craft, ate chocolate pudding (by Christian's request), the Netflix count down, and they were in bed by 8:30.  Brad and I stayed up until midnight with Ivan and watched a movie.  
I printed some pictures of different events throughout 2014 and hid them around the living room.  The kids had fun with the scavenger hunt and also had fun looking at and talking about the pictures after the hunt to remember all the fun things we did last year.  

Brad was lucky enough to have New Years Day off of work, so we took advantage of the opportunity and drove to the coast.   I got the idea from my friend, but I got nervous about cold weather and Ivan. Thankfully, Brad was around.  I am not very good at being spontaneous, so it was good that Brad was there to push us out the door.  If it were up to me, we would have spent the whole day at home wishing that we were doing something exciting.

Here is Ellie getting her warm gear on in style!

Ellie and Christian had fun on the beach with Dad

Ivan spent his first new years day relaxing with mom in the car watching the ocean waves.
We were really spontaneous and braved a restaurant as a family of five.  We went to Mo's, THE seafood restaurant in Newport.  It was a super fun to go to dinner with the whole family, and it was a very family friendly restaurant.  They even got a shark toy presented to them on their straws.  

Monday, December 29, 2014


Christmas was a whole new experience for us this year since we are away from family for the first time.  We had a great time and really enjoyed the whole season.
Here is Ivan on Dec 3.  He looks so tiny.  There is no way we could have squished him into a stocking on Christmas.  He's grown a lot chunkier throughout the month, but unlike the rest of us, we love to see him pack on the pounds.  
Making a gingerbread was a first for me this year.  We made our gingerbread house last week for family night.  We kinda cheated and used hot glue to fit the house together.  I figure, the gingerbread is stale and inedible by the time you take it apart, so why not.  Ellie and Christian had so much fun decorating the house.  
I had two great helpers to assist with the present wrapping.  They loved putting the tape on the presents.  They were so excited to give their gifts to their dad.  I am surprised they kept the gifts a secret until Christmas morning.
On the night of Christmas Eve we did the traditional nativity play.  Christian was a shepherd complete with white teddy bear sheep, thanks to Ellie's careful planning.  We saved a wrapping paper roll  to use as a shepherd's crook.  This is not such a good idea for a two year old shepherd.  As you can see from the picture,  he used it to keep from getting his picture taken.  In addition to the great tool it was to obstruct photo ops, it was also a great tool to use to annoy his sister.  I think it is pretty clear that we did not have a very reverent nativity play thanks to this mischievous shepherd.   
Our baby Jesus was obviously Ivan
And here is Ellie as a wise man.  Ellie was very serious about putting on the nativity play.  She planned her costume a day in advance, and also decided who would play what part.  She had a hard time deciding between angel and wise man for her own part.  In the end, she decided on wise man since she couldn't figure out the wings for her angel costume.  She did a great job.  
All Ellie said that she wanted for Christmas was a pony toy, a toothbrush, and a pony shirt.  Well, Santa delivered.  Here she is sporting her Fluttershy pony shirt.  All Christian said he wanted for Christmas was a truck.  So Santa got him a nice sturdy Tonka dump truck.  
It was Ellie's idea to have shepherd's pie for Christmas dinner.  She decided this way back at the beginning of December and has been reminding us of it all month.  "Shepherd's pie, you know, like the shepherds who went to the manger way," she would say.  For as excited as she was for this dinner, she didn't seem too excited to actually eat it.  
The whole family on Christmas night.  
Cutest little Santa you could ask for.  

Saturday, December 27, 2014

We Love Janel!

We knew way back in June that Brad was going to have to go to a conference pretty close to our baby's due date.  We were happy to have my sister, Janel, offer to come and help out while Brad was out of town 3 weeks after Ivan's birth.  I  was so grateful to have Janel here to occupy Ellie and Christian while I spent so much time tending to Ivan and catching up on sleep.

  It was just nice to have someone in the house with me 24/7.  I don't know if my temper would have survived the week-long conference without her here, as it seems that  my temper is the first thing to flare up when I am lacking sleep.  While she was here, we didn't really do much more than just hang out around the house.  The one time we left the house with the whole gang, we took an outing to the carousel museum in Albany.  Albany has been working on on a hand carved carousel for about 10 years.  They have a museum (really a workshop) where you can go and watch volunteers from the community carve animals and paint pieces of the carousel structure.  It was really fun to go and see.  If I didn't have 3 kids to take care of and needed something to occupy my time, volunteering in this capacity would be right up my alley.  I was really impressed with the work of the wood carvers.  For the most part, none of them have past experience in carving, they are all just willing to offer their time and are willing to learn as they go.  The carousel should be complete in about 4 more years.  If we're not here, we might just have to take a trip back to see the finished product.
We are so grateful for Janel.  She gave up a week of vacation time to come help out and keep us company.  What pales in comparison to her help last week are the countless hours she spent the past 4 years taking care of Ellie and Christian on weekly basis while I worked to support our family.  She has built such a great relationship with my children, and I am so grateful for that.  I sure am glad to have a sister.  Sister's rock!  Thank you Janel.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Thanksgiving: Grateful for Family

This week has been full of blessings for us to reflect on during this thanksgiving holiday.
The greatest of which being family.  Our little Ivan Alan is now coming up on 2 weeks old, and we already cannot imagine our family without him.  Also, Grandma and Grandpa Christensen have been here to visit and help out after baby came for about a week and a half.  We were very fortunate to have them here for Thanksgiving dinner.  This was our first major family centered holiday outside of Utah, and it was wonderful to still be able celebrate with family.
Other blessings on our "Thankful Tree" include (in no particular order):
Jesus, our ward here in Albany, soccer balls (Ellie: "because they give you strength and energy"), chairs (Chris), bacon, birds, nature, nursery, our home, drawing pictures, all our cousins, the swing set, Halloween, glasses...

Soooooo thankful for these beautiful kids!

Trying to squeeze in some updated family pics between rain storms

Having fun with Grandma and Grandpa


The moment Ivan came home for the first time Ellie wanted to read him stories

First thanksgiving dinner hosted at our house

Ready for turkey!!!

Our "Thankful Tree"
(Ellie is saying gobble gobble)