Friday, July 3, 2015

The Return

We are back in Utah after a year of wonderful memories in Oregon.  We had a lot of fun our last month or so in Oregon. 

Since our last attempt at camping in Oregon was a tremendous failure, so before we left we decided to right that horrible wrong.  With Brad's last weekend off, we camped with the Blunck and Johnson families and enjoyed ourselves quite a bit.  We had the campground almost completely to ourselves and we had close access to the river where we spent the whole morning wading in the water and building an epic raft that wasn't exactly sea worthy, but the boys all had fun making it.  

We had lots of fun around the campfire.  We made a delicious dutch oven meal, roasted marshmallows, ate s'mores, and played with glow sticks.   
This is a picture of Teri when she bought her first car 6 months after graduating high school.  Well, it has been an amazing car for many years, but due to our expanding family we decided to sell the Saturn for a larger vehicle.  150K+ miles, a few dents, very little maintenance, and a whole lot of memories.
Ellie and Chris are very proud to present our new van!  Their favorite part is the "magic TV" that comes out of the ceiling.  

Although we are all very excited to be coming back to Utah close to family and friends, it has also been a little hard.  We have made some amazing friends to whom it was not easy to say goodbye.
When we first found out we were moving to Oregon Brad's sister, Kristi, put us in contact with a family she knew from Ohio that moved to the area a few months before us.  The Blunck family has become close family friends.  This is especially true for Teri and Sheri.  There were tears shed as these two said goodbye.  These two quickly became best friends and we really hope to continue this friendship from a distance.
Just as Teri made a lifelong friend while here in Oregon, Brad was fortunate to be matched to a residency at the same time as Ryan Petersen.  We could not imagine a better person to be Brad's co-resident over the last year.  Both Brad and Ryan felt that they were extremely fortunate to become such good friends.  Like the Bluncks, Ryan and Britt are friends that we hope we can keep through the years.
Brad had a week off between finishing in Corvallis and starting in Salt Lake which gave us time to complete the move and also have a little vacation.  Grandma and Grandpa Christensen came up before Brad finished to help with packing for a couple days, then we headed to the coast.  Derek, BriAnn and their boys joined us as did Janel later in the week.  We had a lot of fun exploring Newport with all our family.   
We have visited the coast quite a few times throughout our year in Albany, and you can never really expect warm weather on the beach.  We were lucky, however, to have some great weather while we were there with the family, jackets weren't even needed! Even Ivan enjoyed the beach a little bit.  

Everyone had a different reaction to the cold ocean water.  Ellie has loved playing in the ocean from day 1, but the Christensen boys were a little more hesitant.  Grandpa helped to build up some courage, and I think everyone at least dipped their toes

We spent one day in Portland so we could pick up Janel at the airport.  We ate at the food trucks (not the best idea with a bunch of kids), and then visited the children's museum.

Christian, of course, loved the construction display.

The water area was a favorite for everyone. 

We dropped Brad off in Albnany on our way home from Portland so he could finish packing and the load the truck.  Luckily for Brad, his friend, Rex, was kind enough to fly up to Oregon and accompany him for the long drive back in the massive truck.

After Brad left with the truck, everyone else went to the Newport Aquarium.  

After a LONG  13 hour road trip without Dad, we are back to Utah.  The kids have been so happy to be back with family and loved ones.
2 days after getting back to Utah, we celebrated Ellie's 5th birthday.  We had a swimming party out in Hooper with our cousins and then opened presents and had cake and ice cream in the evening in Harrisville.  Ellie is excited to be 5.  She is excited to start school this year and to play soccer.  She is a great big sister who really knows how to make her baby brother Ivan smile.  She loves to read stories of any kind and loves learn about animals, especially birds.  It is hard to believe that these 5 years have gone so fast.  We love watching her grow and learn every day.  

Well, we are back from our year long adventure in Oregon.  This experience has helped us all to grown and learn.  We will always look back to our time in the Willamette Valley with fond memories.  And we are now excited for the next stage in the grand adventure of life.

Saturday, May 30, 2015


Wow.  That went by fast.  We are gearing up to move back to the beehive state in less than a month, but we have had a fun filled Oregon May.
We had fun making mini pinatas on Cinco de Mayo
Over Mother's Day weekend my friend Sheri and I decided to run a 5k.  We wanted to motivate ourselves to exercise, and it worked wonderfully.  We were up at 6:30 in the morning a couple of times a week which is a huge improvement from my previous exercise schedule.  Unfortunately, Brad's work schedule changed and we had to stop right after we ran the race.  
This was my first 5K, so I was just happy to cross the finish line.  My sweet family came to support me.  It was a very fun race.  There weren't tons of people racing and Brad and the kids had a lot of fun visiting all the vendor booths while I ran.  

After the 5K, we decided to head for the coast.  We got a super cool new kite, and brought our sand castle building gear.  Everyone had so much fun, except Ivan.  He didn't like the cool ocean breeze.  
Brad went to California for his last residency conference for the year.  I was pretty proud of myself for surviving the week without him.  Thankfully (in a way), my friend Sheri, also had a husband out of town, so we kept ourselves busy all week together.  Here is Brad at a Padres game in San Diego.  He "worked" really hard at his conference.

We went to the Children's Museum in Salem with the two younger Blunck boys.  It was a beautiful day, so we spent a lot of the time outside on the big playground.
We spent another day with the Sheri and her boys picking strawberries.  The kids probably ate more than they picked.  

A couple months ago we noticed Christian's eye was starting to wander.  After seeing an eye doctor, Christian found out he gets to wear glasses!  He is far sighted, and a wandering eye is how this is often manifest in children.   He is very proud of his new glasses, and that he got them from Costco.  He tells everyone that compliments him where they came from.  He is also very proud to be just like his Aunt Janel (sorry everyone else in the family that wears glasses, I guess he just likes her the best).  I was glad that we had a great experience with the pediatric eye doctor as well as at the optical.  Christian was never nervous or against the glasses, so the transition has not been too bad.  

On Memorial Day,  Brad's co-resident, Ryan invited us to spend the day in the Springfield/Eugene area where he lives.  We visited the new home they just purchased, walked along the Willamette, and had lunch at a great restaurant on the U of O campus.  After, we drove to his family's property in Springfield.  Ryan's family has some beautiful property where they have a timber farm, cattle, and raise a few animals.  The kids had so much fun with all the animals.  After all the animal fun, we had a cookout.  It was all very beautiful and made us wonder why we are leaving Oregon.
Ellie and a baby turkey

She got a little nervous, and decided not to ride the horse, but she sure loved looking at them.

Christian's dream come true: riding a forklift tractor.

Baby kittens

Playing with Stella (Ryan's dog) along the river while the fire was being prepped for burgers.  Ellie kept throwing Stella's stick into the river, and Stella was great to swim in and retrieve it.  Ellie got splattered with wet dog water over and over again.   
Enjoying the scenery

Sunday, April 26, 2015


When we found out we were moving to Oregon, Brad got wind that the Spruce Goose resides in the state.  He wanted to make an effort to see it while we were here.  In honor of Brad and Christian's birthday, we decided to cross this off the Oregon bucket list last week.

However, the airplane festivities did not start in McMinville on Thursday when we had scheduled our trip to go see the monstrous wooden plane.  Because I have a reluctant napper in the house, I sometimes drive around Albany in the car with the kids in order to get Ivan to fall asleep.  We have a well established loop that I drive through the fields on the outer parts of town.  There are lots of sheep and beautiful green fields, so the drive is fun for the kids and relaxing for me.  Well, Wednesday we were out on our regular route when I saw a plane flying low to the ground up the road a way.  I decided to veer off our normal course and follow the plane assuming it was a crop duster hoping the kids would get to see it.  Well, they did, and it was quite a show!  The crop duster crossed the road just a head of our car at least two or three times and we got to see it release it "vitamin-a-mulch" (as Christian called it) as it dove down close to the ground.  Then right before it finished, it flew up parallel to the road really low to the ground right past our car and then flew up into the air and flew off.  It was so so so fun for the kids to see, and actually quite fun for me too.  It seemed like the pilot knew we were on the road just to see the plane, and he put on a show for us.  Boy, that really geared the kids up for our trip the next day.  They had a lot of fun telling Daddy about the plane when he got home from work.  

As exciting as the crop duster was for us, we had a lot of fun at the Evergreen Air and Space Museum as well.  Out camera ran out of batteries before we got to the space building, so enjoy the planes.  

Celebrating Dad's birthday.  We showed up at his office and brought cupcakes for everyone there.  Ellie and Chris had so much fun picking a present for Dad this year.  Ellie has an obsession with getting dinosaurs for any and every gift.  I usually try to talk her out of the dino gifts, but we decided on a new dinosaur shirt.  Chris didn't keep it a surprise.  Big surprise there, huh?  
Ellie and Dad by the Mustang.  Dad is proudly wearing his Daddysaurus t-shirt she picked out for him
That is one giant wooden plane!  It's not even made of a conifer tree as the name implies.  It is actually made of birch!
Mr Christian flying a helicopter
Ivan having a go at the pilot seat 

Here's the whole family with our new friend, the Spruce Goose.  Quite an impressive plane!

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

April, so far...

April is full of fun for our family.  We have two birthdays in April to go along with Easter (most years) and the wonderful spring weather.  We celebrated one birthday yesterday, and are looking forward to the next birthday in another week.  We had a great Easter/Conference weekend as well, so we thought we'd share.
Some members of our ward got together between conference sessions for an Easter egg hunt.  We were lucky that the weather cooperated.  There wasn't any rain, and it was just a lot of fun.  

Aprons on and ready for coloring eggs (Ellie is making bunny ears)

Ellie showing off one of her eggs.  

My mom usually makes hot crossed buns for Easter.  I decided to try the same recipe for our family this year since we couldn't steal any from Grandma's house.  They didn't turn out perfectly (we had one batch that were more like hot crossed pancakes) but I was glad that I tried.  They still tasted great with some frosting on top!

New chalk for Easter.  It has been well used especially since it has been sunny half the day and rainy the other half.  The kids have time to make fun pictures, then they are erased by the rain for more fun the next day.  
Yesterday was Christian's birthday.  It was a pretty normal day besides opening presents and eating cake in the evening. He got to play with his new light saber all day since Ellie woke up first thing in the morning  and couldn't keep her present to him a secret any longer and proceeded to to get him all excited about the new light saber.  We let him open it.  He then picked out a blue outfit to wear all day to match his light saber.  
Christian is loving all the legos he got!  Thanks Grandma and Grandpa Christensen!
Thanks for the book Janel! We made sure to read it before bedtime last night

Christian is a big "site" fan. He loved to help decorate his birthday cake.  
 Christian is such a funny boy to have around.  He is very opinionated and doesn't back down easily.  He has learned well the meaning of time out, but doesn't really care. He loves to say "told ya so" when he knows the outcome of a situation.  He loves playing with his "site" trucks, making almost any object into a gun or spaceship, pretending to be a restaurant cooker, being a "bad guy", leading music,  and of course, he loves to bug his sister.  We love him and can't wait to see how he grows in the next year.

Sunday, March 29, 2015


Ah, spring.  We have been loving spring here in Oregon.  It has really felt like spring since February, so I have loved being able to send the kids outside on good days with no rain for so much of the winter.  Now, flowers are out and trees are blooming, so it really is Spring!  We have been singing "Popcorn" on our car rides around town for a couple weeks now.  I really like spring here.  Blossoms seem to linger longer, and really, the rain isn't bad at all.  As part of spring, we decided to experience the Tulip Festival that is held each year here in Woodburn, Oregon.  Brad is in the midst of a long stretch of work with no days off, so he decided to at least take a half day off so we could go and enjoy the sights.  We were not disappointed.  We have never been to a tulip festival, so this was pretty amazing
Mr. Ivan basking in the sun and loving all the colors and sights
In typical Christian fashion, Christian was all about the tractors sprinkled throughout the tulip fields.  And, in typical Christian fashion, he was too enthralled with the nobs and wheels to take the time to look at the camera for a pic.  This was the best pic, and is was on the PINK tractor.  Christian's favorite color of tulip was yellow and orange. 

Ellie looking cute next to the tulips.  Her favorite color of tulip was pink, red and purple.  
OK, here's a smiling Christian on a tractor

The sweet kiddos in the fields

Our "two lips" kissing in the tulip fields
The company that runs the festival is The Wooden Shoe Tulip Company, so there was a shoe carving shop with a bunch of wooden shoes of different sizes.  We had fun trying on the wooden shoes

A view of the colorful fields

We  brought home a bouquet of tulips to enjoy at home. It is called the Judith Leyster tulip and very beautiful.

On the first day of Spring, March 20, we found out that we will be coming back to Utah this summer.  Brad was matched as one of the first residents for Intermountain Healthcare's Ambulatory Care Program.  We are pretty happy about being able to be close to family again, but we will be leaving some great friends that we have made here.  The idea of moving back is definitely bittersweet due to the great people we have been blessed to meet while living here.   We have about 3 months left in Oregon, so we are going to try and soak in all that we can of this beautiful place while we're here.  We have already counted all of Brad's weekends and made a list of all the things we still want to experience here.  We're going to be busy to say the least.