Some Awesome SWAG...

We hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas! We sure did. Here are some highlights from our day...

On Christmas Eve, Kyle was held against his will by his aunt Stephanie, who decided he did not look festive enough. She painted his toenails red to rectify the situation. (Actually, Kyle sat remarkably still for the entire thing, much to his father's dismay...I think he was fascinated by the process.)

Kyle LOVES to "type-type" on the computer, so Grandma got him his very own laptop for Christmas. As you can see from his characteristic grin, he was absolutely thrilled. In fact, he wouldn't put it down for the rest of the morning, so everyone else had to open the MILLION more presents he had.
Speaking of laptops, Cole got one for Christmas too. He was just as thrilled as Kyle...but minus the cheesy grin.

As for me...my brother got me this AWESOME pair of turquoise heels. It's like he knew EXACTLY what I wanted! (I told him exactly what to get me, and I was with my mom when she bought them for him.) Cole also got me gift certificates to a spa, which I'm SO excited about. The best gift I got?

Yes, Cole bought me Wii Fit. It's actually turned out to be more of a family gift, though. Everyone in my family has taken a turn with it every day. My mom and I are making it an integral part of our weight loss. We all like to sit around and watch each other try to head soccer balls and hoola hoop and box. We just have to keep Kyle from sitting on the board...


Merry Christmas

The Christensen family wishes you and yours the happiest of holidays!


Twilight Musings

There has been a lot of hype over the Twilight series lately. Between the release of the fourth and last book and the premiere of the movie adaptation, it's practically impossible for someone to be (at least partially) unfamiliar with Bella Swan and the coven of vampires with whom she associates. Now, I understand that typically any publicity is good publicity. But, I think Stephenie Meyer is getting a bad rap from a lot of overly critical people.

Let me describe how my "relationship" with the Twilight world came to be. I first heard about the Twilight series about a year and a half ago. A few of my co-workers were in the process of reading them and had VERY different opinions of the books. One was beyond obsessed with the series and only had good things to say about them. The other was reading Twilight only because her book club was reading it, and she told me she thought it was "overrated" and "just as bad as a dirty romance novel." My curiosity was piqued. I don't usually respond to peer pressure when it comes to my literary choices, but in this case, I felt compelled, albeit grudgingly, to see what all the fuss was about. I started Twilight and scoffed at Stephenie Meyer's awkward diction and syntax (believe me, it doesn't start out great). Once I got past my grammar obsession and let myself become absorbed by the story, I whizzed through the series in mere days. I waited in anticipation for the final volume to be released, and I stood in line at midnight to buy my copy. Now, the series is my go-to when I have a yen to read but don't have any new material. I've read all of the books at least 4 or 5 times.

I honestly feel critics give Stephenie Meyer's writing prowess WAY too much credit, and give female readers WAY too little. First of all, Meyer never set out to write "the next great American novel," and she has never claimed these books to be anything but what they are--young adult fiction. Second of all, women and girls are not mindless drones. What we think and feel and understand are not completely determined by what we see and read. We are able to develop opinions independent of outside influence.

I am particularly offended at the argument that reading Twilight distorts a woman's view of the men in her life, because Edward Cullen is "perfect." Anyone who has read the series can understand that, while being very appealing, he is most certainly not perfect. Sure, he's strong, and beautiful, and rich, and various other great physical things. His physical appearance and surroundings were never what captivated me. He is a GENTLEMAN. He opens Bella's doors for her. He's polite to adults and people in positions of authority. Best of all, he's moral. Bella constantly tries to push boundaries, and Edward always draws a line. Most would tell you it's because he doesn't want to hurt Bella, and though this is true, it's also because he doesn't want to take her virtue or ruin his (they actually discuss this concept in Eclipse). He does have some flaws, as well. Emotionally, he can be a total wreck. He's overprotective, almost to the point of smothering at times, he's jealous, he's got a short temper, he's possessive, and he's condescending at times. If I were to describe the perfect man, Edward would not qualify. Those who are superficially familiar with the story don't understand that.

A second argument I despise claims Twilight is the antithesis of feminism. Stephenie Meyer responded to this argument on her website, and I think she put it well. Everything in the books are about the choices Bella makes and the consequences that come from them. Bella never allows outside influence to pressure her decisions. My idea of an anti-feminist heroine is one who does not act, but is acted upon. She is content to live the life she is given by man on the terms of man. Bella is most certainly not anti-feminist.

Some people may wonder why I read the Twilight series more than once. Something I despised in high school English was the constant searching for themes and symbols and allusions. Back in high school, I used to always say "well, maybe the author wrote it like that just because it sounded good, and it doesn't mean anything." I don't believe that anymore. If someone takes the time to write a novel, he or she has a purpose--a deeper intention than is initially seen. That purpose intensifies when a reader takes a theme or meaning from a novel that is applicable to his or her life. It sounds silly, but I have a personal connection with those books. Edward the so-called "perfect man" did not leave me wanting something more from my husband. Rather, it made me love him more, because the things I admired in Edward (i.e. his manners and moral compass) are the things I admire in Cole. One of the themes of the series is Bella's desire to spend eternity with Edward, the man she loves. Any LDS member would have to be blind to miss the parallel. I'm particularly grateful that Cole's and my eternity together is far easier to achieve than Bella and Edward's. Another theme of the book deals with Edward's constant temptation to kill humans and drink their blood because of what he is. He and his "family" are excellent examples to all in this regard, since they completely abstain from temptation and choose a better course.

Please don't tell me you're choosing not reading the series "on principle." To me, that says you think you're better than I am because I indulged in what you think is ridiculous, overhyped trash. I personally think anything (within reason, of course) is worth trying once. If you DO decide to give in, at least you know your expectations won't be let down, since they're not that high to begin with. :)


Dear Worthless Co-Worker...*

*name omitted to protect the obnoxious

We need to have a little talk. I know you've been working here since the dawn of time, and I know that it's common for someone that's two days older than dirt (not unlike yourself) to be quite firm in their ways...

or my mind will explode.

I'm sure you think you're funny when you pretend to be an angry guest and complain about the service you received from yourself. I'm sure you think you're affable when you chat about everything under the sun during a service call to a housekeeper or an engineer and waste their valuable time. I'm sure you think you're intelligent when you spout off about your (at times closed-minded) political views to any unsuspecting passer-by and pretend that "Mr. President-Elect Barack Obama" has you on his speed dial. I'm sure you think you're awesome when you brag about all of the great vacations you take--BY YOURSELF.

Sure, maybe you're just quirky. It would be petty for me to dislike you solely for any of these reasons when I really only spend maybe 8 hours a week with you. In fact, they are just proverbial icing on the cake. My real grievance? I'm doing your job, in addition to mine, at least 60-70% of the time. Sure, I send room service calls to you, but that's because I don't have access to the program that would allow me to take those calls. I guess you get even, though, since you busy out your phone for 10 MINUTES while you finish putting in an order and I end up taking all the other calls that come in during that time. (FYI, I've taken room service orders before--it's not that hard! It shouldn't take so long for you to put them in.) You also make all of your personal social calls while you're at work, and since you're such a "friendly guy" they all last about 45 minutes each--more time where I have to answer all of the business calls that are YOUR responsibility in addition to doing my work. Sure, I understand making a personal call once in a while. Heck, I've even done it! But, unlike you, I always place my personal call on hold when a business call comes in. I make work a priority when I'm at work (wow, what a novel concept!).

And you know what really gets me about you? You CRITICIZE other employees for being lazy.

I'm SO sorry you have to DO YOUR JOB sometimes.

By the way, that faux hairpiece? Classy and understated. :)

Sincerely, Your Disgruntled Co-Worker



Friday Fill-Ins

1. Snow is actually something I'm looking forward to now--too bad we don't have any!
2. I'm looking forward to taking 3 big vacations next year.
3. Cole is the best husband ever! (Not that I'm biased or anything...)
4. One of my favorite old tv shows is Bewitched.
5. I'm done with wrapping presents--until we buy more.
6. The most enjoyable thing around the holidays is the almost universal spirit of giving and selflessness.
7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to a date with Cole, tomorrow my plans include serving at the Ward Christmas Breakfast and finishing up Christmas shopping, and Sunday, I want to take a much-needed nap!


Life Goes On...

Wow, quite the lapse in substantial blogging for me!  Life has been a little crazy lately, and it's kept me away from the computer.  Here's a quick update on what we've been doing...

Cole and I have been working, as usual, but luckily for me (or unluckily, depending on how you look at it) they've cut my hours in half because the hotel is so slow this time of year.  So, I get to spend a lot more time at home with Kyle!  It's been really fun, and it really makes me look forward to a time when I'll be able to stay at home full-time.  

I've been to the doctor three times in the last two weeks for my gall bladder.  My doctor told me I have classic symptoms of gallstones, but the ultrasound I had came back negative for stones.  So, today, I had what is called a HIDA scan.  Basically, the radiology tech injected me with a radioactive isotope, and then stuck me in a scanner, where I had to lie still for 2 HOURS.  Not fun at all.  Hopefully this test will have some conclusive result.

We've got virtually all of our Christmas shopping done.  We only have to get gifts for two of my brothers and finish our shopping for Kyle, and that should all be really easy.  I'm really excited for Christmas, especially to see Cole's reaction when he opens what I got for him!  (I bet he was hoping I'd say what it was here--he's dying to find out!)

Thanksgiving was a lot of fun!  We had dinner with my mom's side of the family.  All of my aunts, uncles, and cousins were there (with the exception of one family), so we had dinner at my grandparents' church.  The highlight?  Most definitely the fabulous, homemade stuffing brought by my aunt.  I ate everything I wanted, and I still managed to lose weight that week!  (only 0.6 pounds, but hey, it's a loss!)  

Kyle continues to grow, both mentally and physically.  We've started to get him 18 month clothes, because he's too tall for all of his 12 month stuff.  He chatters all the time, and we're getting a lot more discernable words now (his best being "done").  He's finally figured out that signing means something, and he signs "please" all the time.  I think he's realized that we'll give him just about whatever he wants when he does it.  He also signs "done", "cookie", "eat", and "treat" fairly consistently.  He cut his first one-year molar and is working hard on cutting the others.  He has the funniest quirks, too.  About a week ago, after changing his diaper, I handed it to him and showed him how to put it in our Diaper Champ and turn the handle.  Now, after getting changed, he picks up the diaper and heads for the garage door (where the Diaper Champ is), and he throws a major fit if we throw it away somewhere else.  My greatest achievement to date, however, is FINALLY getting him to give me a kiss!  He walks around with his stuffed animals all the time giving them kisses, but he's too stubborn to give any humans a kiss.  The other day, he was standing on my lap and he took my face in both of his hands and kissed me!  I was pretty jazzed.  Too bad he won't do it on command yet. 

Anyway, that's all about us for now.  I hope everyone is enjoying the holiday season!
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