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)

Monday, November 17, 2014

Ivan Alan Winter

Today our little Ivan Alan Winter finally came out to play!
He was born at 1:35 PM, after induction and a brief labor (~4.5 hours total from start of meds to baby).  He is 7 lb 1.5 oz and 21 inches tall.
He is named after my (Brad's) great-grandfather (my mother's dad's dad) Ivan, and my father Alan.
Teri is doing just fine.  She did not use pain medications again, and I am so impressed.  She is recovering very nicely.
I feel like I am the most blessed man on earth today.  Although we are far from most of our families, we have felt their support and prayers with us.  And we have so many people here in our new home in Oregon who love and care about us.  A special thanks to the Blunk family for helping watch Ellie and Chris while we have been at the hospital.
I thank my heavenly father for all that I and my family have been given!  Now on to the photos! (the only real reason you are reading this post)

My Beautiful Family

They love their new brother

This is the last night as a family of 4

Required naked pic!

Cute yawn

Cute boy

First bath

They love their new brother so much.

Friday, October 31, 2014

The Quintessential October Post

Well, it took until 7:30 PM on Halloween night for Teri's aunt Susie to call us out online asking for cute kiddo costume pictures.  So, here you go Susie... Cute Kids!!!!

Saying "Boo!" It was the only way we could get them both to look at the camera.
Christian is a "site worker" and Ellie is a "cat" (not a kitty, but a cat).  Christian finally decided on his costume about a week ago.  Ellie decided to be Elsa back in the summer time, but she got hesitant about a month ago and decided on the cat instead.  She was a kitty last year, and it was a totally different costume this year. 

Double fisted candy eating
We went to a farm to find our  pumpkins.  After going to a pumpkin patch last week with friends, we went to another farm in Jefferson with Dad on his day off yesterday.... Christian needed the opportunity to use a cool wheel barrow.  We had loads of fun at this farm.  There was a petting zoo, a huge barley filled sandbox, a hay bale maze, and more water pump racing with rubber duckies.  And the pumpkins were HUGE!

We asked the farmer if we could look at the tractor.  Christian was in heaven.  The farmer was a hoot during the hay ride we took.  He narrated a the whole trip and talked about the farm in old farmer fashion the whole time.  
Ellie's favorite part of pumpkin carving is getting the guts out.  Ellie was very specific about how she wanted her pumpkin carved.   She had to have moon eyes, a triangle nose and kept making us adjust the mouth until it was perfect

He kept filling his pumpkin with Teri's guts.  Christian's pumpkin had lots of triangles.  Triangles are his favorite shape.  

Our favorite Halloween dinner.  

Wednesday, October 29, 2014


I don't feel like we have been up to a whole lot lately.  Maybe we're finally settling into a routine here in Oregon, maybe I'm getting too tired to venture out, probably both.  Anyway, I haven't had a lot to post about, but this last week we did some fun things.  Friday we drove to one of the many pumpkin patches in the area and enjoyed some time with friends.  The rainy season has finally hit, but we didn't let the constant drizzle of the day deter us.

Christian playing in the sandbox full of some sort of dried bean or lentil.  He is always up for playing with tractors

Ellie having a ball jumping on the hay bales despite the rain

Christian playing the the water pump rubber duck slide.  He loves anything mechanical

Having fun making faces at the camera with some fun friends.  I love how so many kids wears rubber boots in Oregon.  They are so cute and really the best thing for the weather.     
We tramped through the very muddy pumpkin patch to find some excellent pumpkins.  Thankfully, my kiddos wanted to carry their own pumpkins so they were content with small pumpkins.  I was sure grateful I didn't have to haul a huge pumpkin out of that muddy pumpkin patch.  

Our ward has been planning a ward temple day since we got here back in June and this past Saturday we got to go to the Portland Temple with the kids.  Brad had to work in the morning and wasn't able to meet up with us until right before the session.  The kids and I went to the visitor's center and walked the grounds of the temple beforehand.  The rain hadn't started, but the wind was pretty awful.  The wind almost caused Brad to be late because a tree fell over in the wind on the interstate causing traffic delays.  The ward had arranged for daycare at a nearby stake center.  Unfortunately, about a half hour after we dropped the children off, the wind also caused a power outage,  so the daycare workers we left in the dark for almost the whole time we were in the temple.  They didn't have enough light in the nursery room, so they had to bring the 20+ kids out into the foyer.  Apparently it was chaos, but we truly appreciated it.  We picked up the kids and enjoyed a dinner at McDonald's at the children's request.

Sunday was Ellie's first primary program.  She memorized her part, but got too nervous during the program to say it without the help from her teacher.  Christian also had Ellie's part memorized by the time we finally reached the program as well.  She was great at singing all the songs.  Her favorite song this year by far has been "I Stand All Amazed."  We sing it frequently at night before we put the kids to bed.
Here she is before church.  She had to wear a black dress because it was the week of Halloween.  Sorry for the strange face she is making.  For some reason she has a hard time smiling, holding still, and looking at the camera long enough for a picture.  
  These kids are getting really excited for the new baby to arrive.  I am over 36 weeks now, so we are running on the "any time now" mode despite the fact that I don't think I am really prepared in a lot of ways for him to get here.  I think I have mentioned this before, but this little guy loves to wiggle around and kick.  He is going to be a mover when he gets here.  Both Ellie and Christian love to pat and kiss my belly and they love to talk about what they will do when the baby gets here.  Ellie is excited to give the baby a rattle and Christian is excited to read his baby story to the him.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Hiking Baby!

Today we went on a 1.5 mile hike with the kiddos.
This is quite the feat for us.  Most "hikes" we have complete with children have been on wide, well groomed trails that constituted more of a walk or pleasant stroll.  Well, not anymore!
Also, by popular demand this post will include ultrasound baby pictures!!

 Yeah for hiking!


 Somehow this was a safer way to hike when the trail got steep...

 Cute profile 
My son is a Sith Lord!!!