What I Made Monday: Spring Has Sprung

I don't really have a lot of spring crafts, so I had the opportunity to bust out some creativity to make my house festive.

First, I found this adorable printable and idea here. Mary Poppins was one of my favorite movies growing up, so I thought it was totally appropriate. I used materials I had laying around to make the kite. Easy peasy--it took me 20 minutes to put together.


Of course, I had to hit up The Wood Connection for some crafts.
First, a cute trio of birds:


 And, a spring-y flower:


I love how all of these things add fresh pops of color to my living room. Spring is one of my favorite seasons, so I'm glad my house can now reflect that.


Easter 2013

We spent the Saturday before Easter with Cole's parents and siblings in Sandy. Gammy traditionally puts on a big Easter egg hunt for the grandkids, and Kyle was super excited.
We all met at Gammy and Bumpy's house for a super-sized brunch: we stuffed ourselves with French toast, pancakes, breakfast casseroles, bacon, and, of course, cereal (it wouldn't be a Christensen breakfast without it!) While most of us digested, the "Easter Bunny" and his helpers (i.e. Bumpy and Cole's brothers) headed out to hide eggs.
This year, the hunt got so big it outgrew the backyard. Fortunately, they were able to reserve their stake pavilion, which has a great big lawn and plenty of space for an egg hunt. After a sufficient amount of time, the rest of us headed down to see what the Bunny left behind.

Matthew enjoyed his first real Easter egg hunt
After all the eggs were found and divided equally (Gammy is nothing if not judicious), Bumpy got us all organized for some games. The kids had an old-fashioned egg toss, the "egg on a spoon" race, a three-legged race (the adults also participated in a three-legged race, and I'm sad to say we didn't get any pictures. There was a lot more falling than racing...), and a great game of Red Rover.

Gammy and Aunt Aimee the littles in the three-legged race

Kyle and his best cousin-buddy R rocking the three-legged race

Gammy and the grandkids playing Red Rover
 I'm not sure Lucas understood Red Rover, but he was excited at all of the running. Even when it wasn't his turn, he'd take off running, make a full circle, and come back to where he started. It kept all of the adults entertained.

After all of the fun and games, we headed back to Gammy's for a little birthday party for Bumpy and one of our nephews. It was particularly special because Bumpy turned 60 this year. He requested a picture with all 13 of his grandchildren.

At least no one is crying...
Cole and I have gone back and forth about Easter gifts. I feel a little like some families are treating it like another Christmas and having the Easter Bunny bring lots of big gifts, which I think overshadows what Easter is all about (for the record, I'm not a fan of overdoing it at Christmas, either, but gifts are traditionally given for that holiday so there's a little more wiggle room there). We've had the Easter Bunny bring baskets in the past, but this year we wanted to see if it was really something our kids noticed so we didn't actually do anything. Grinchy? Maybe. But, it turns out they didn't even care. They got plenty of candy at Gammy's egg hunt, so they were satisfied. I think in the future we will get them a little something (probably a new shirt and tie for Easter Sunday and a few treats), but it's reassuring to me that they haven't got a case of the gimmies when it comes to Easter.

For Easter dinner on Sunday, we headed down to Payson to spend it with my grandparents, aunts and uncles, and some of my siblings. It was a nice, relaxing meal with family, and we had a good time.

I truly love Easter and everything it represents. I'm so grateful for the Savior and His life and example. He was willing to submit to all things from our Father, even death, so how much easier should it be for me to endure my trials, which are minuscule in comparison? I'm so grateful for His resurrection and the potential for me to be with my family forever. I'm grateful for the opportunity to teach my children of this sacred event and what it means for us. I hope they will develop an appreciation for it as I have.


The First Trimester: Round 4

Well, here I go again. Can you believe it? I can't.

Seriously though, I can't believe it. This was a huge "surprise"/"unplanned"/"WTF" pregnancy.

Since the internet is a safe space (ha ha) I'm going to be open and honest about this whole thing. I know how insensitive and callous it may sound to many people, particularly those who struggle with infertility or are unable to have their own children. My heart genuinely goes out to those people. I can't imagine how hard it must be. But, my feelings are valid and allowed, so I don't want any trollers commenting on how lucky I am to even be able to have my own children or how they wish they could get pregnant by accident and I shouldn't be complaining...or those judgers who snidely say "How can any pregnancy be a 'surprise' when you're 'doing the deed'?" If you have those opinions, keep them to yourself. I beat myself up enough as it is for having these feelings; I don't need your vitriol.

That being said, I was NOT pleased when I found out I was pregnant again. In fact, I burst into hysterical tears. Matthew was not quite 1. Sure, we were planning on having another child...but not for at least 6-12 months! My sister-in-law had recently announced she was expecting, and I was more than happy to let her have all the gestating glory (even though she told me multiple times she wanted me to be her prego buddy--guess she got her wish!). But, apparently Heavenly Father has a grander plan, because it is only through His will that this happened. That is all that needs to be said.

Most of the time, I'm still in disbelief. I'm 15 weeks in and I'm just NOW beginning to grasp that we'll have another baby in November. I have brief flashes of anticipation and excitement, but mostly, all I feel is numb, tired, and overwhelmed. Cole is excited. My parents and siblings (for the most part) are excited. Kyle is excited. I keep hoping it will all rub off on me, but no such luck yet.

I think once I know whether this baby is a girl or a boy I'll be able to generate some enthusiasm. I have to be honest, though: if it's another boy, I will burst into tears. I'm not sure I can do four boys. Most days, I feel like I can barely handle three. Once I get over the initial shock, though, I'll be ok. I truly love my boys, and I'll love any more that come along just as much. But to have a girl...I'm not even allowing myself to think of it as a possibility because it'll be that much more disappointing if it doesn't pan out. I know, I know...I'm a horrible mother for wishing for a girl instead of a boy. But I'm being honest here, remember?

Anyway, on to how I've been feeling this time around. This pretty much sums it up:
Comic found here
Except, I actually do look pregnant...kind of. I'm still in that awkward "is she pregnant or just pudgy?" phase, which is annoying. But the nausea part? Totally accurate. I'm finally coming out of it...mostly. I still have random moments where I breathe wrong and a wave of nausea hits me, and I still get queasy if my stomach gets too empty...but at least it's not constant anymore! This is the worst I've ever felt. I lost five pounds from my first appointment to my second, and I've maybe put a couple back on in the last little while. It depends on the day.
Besides the nausea, I've also experienced the weirdest side effect ever: HIVES. I guess it's not so much hives as my skin is extremely sensitive and, quite frequently, itchy. If I scratch even a tiny bit my skin INSTANTLY busts out hives. Sometimes, all it takes is more firm contact than usual to bring on the hives. It's been super weird. My doctor didn't seem too concerned; he said it was likely a side effect of extra estrogen due to the pregnancy and to take Benadryl if it gets unbearable, which is what I've been doing. I have to be careful to only take one at a time during the day; otherwise, I'm a snoring, unconscious mess.
The symptoms haven't been all bad, though. My skin is more radiant and less prone to breakouts. My fingernails are strong and beautiful (in fact, I should have known I was pregnant because my nails looked so nice pretty much from the beginning), and my hair is growing super fast. I'm hoping to start feeling flutters soon. I first felt Lucas and Matthew around 15 weeks, so I wouldn't be surprised if it happens soon. Of course, that would mean I was sitting still without being asleep or having kids climbing on me, which doesn't happen very often.
I guess the best way to sum up this pregnancy is "my spirit is willing, but my body is weak." I know this baby is a blessing to our family, and I know he/she is meant to come to our family right now. I'm just not sure my body can handle another pregnancy, labor, and birth so soon after Matthew's. His birth was really hard on me, and I remember thinking afterward, "I'm not sure I can do this again." But, I know if I have faith, Heavenly Father will buoy me up and strengthen me so I'm able to do what needs to be done. That's the only way I'm going to make it through.


Family Pictures, and a Much-Needed Update

So, I have a bunch of posts saved in my drafts that need to get published, but I decided it was paramount that y'all get a glimpse into what we've been up to lately. Plus, we recently got family pictures taken, and they'll provide a lovely contrast to the rather mundane textual update.

(BTW Grandma and Grandpa: I promise you'll get a new picture of my family the next time we see you...)
Cole has been busy working hard at the Embassy Suites in West Valley. In addition to doing his job as Director of Revenue Management, he’s adopted a “jack of all trades” mentality and has stepped in to help in the Front Office, Food and Beverage, IT, and Human Resources departments. He’s recently been chosen as Manager of the Quarter in recognition of all of his hard work. The best part of this job (to ME, at least) is that he comes home every day still in love with what he does.
Now that it’s getting warmer, Cole has been spending a lot more time outside fighting the eternal battle with our yard. Because of all the rain we’ve gotten, our grass is quite green…but quite inundated with weeds. Cole is whipping it into shape, however, and before long it’ll look as fantastic as it always does. He’s also been busy with some home improvement projects. He enclosed our furnace in the basement with drywall and got our swamp cooler up to scratch for the summer. And, as always, he has taken any opportunity possible to feng shui any given room in our house. 
I’m currently incubating baby #4, due 11/12/13. This has taken up much of my focus for the last few months (I’ll document this in a separate post). Because of this, I’ve taken it pretty easy and needed more down time. I’ve taken advantage of that down time by doing a little bit of crafting (which will be documented separately as well).  I’ve also been teaching piano a couple of days a week, which has been both frustrating and rewarding (depending on how much my students practice). I'm working on growing my hair out for the first time in YEARS. I think the last time it was this long I was in 7th grade. We'll see how long it lasts, though. I'm notorious for getting impatient and chopping it all off. For now, I'm experimenting with different types of braids and easy up-dos to keep it manageable through the summer.

Kyle is finishing up preschool this week, and he has had a fabulous year! It’s been amazing to see how much he’s learned and grown, and he’s looking forward to starting Kindergarten in the fall. He is constantly asking what words mean (which has really tested my vocabulary!) and sounding out any words that he sees. Apparently he’s extremely social, because the only comment we received from his preschool teacher was that he’s usually the last person to finish his work—not because he doesn’t know what he’s doing, but because he’d rather talk with his neighbors. J
Kyle absolutely loves drawing and coloring. If we gave him a ream of paper and some markers, he could stay entertained for DAYS. This is so funny to me, because before he started preschool he didn’t really show a lot of interest in drawing. Now, he loves to draw pictures of and for the people he loves most (and he always draws us in our favorite colors!) Kyle is a great helper and is always willing to run and get things for us when we ask. He loves his brothers and usually gets along pretty well with them. He’s really into Transformers these days and is really good at using his imagination to dream up fun make-believe games for himself and his brothers.
Lucas is still my ray of sunshine. However, as we grow closer to his third birthday, we’ve seen more and more tantrums (in my experience, 3 is SO much harder than 2). He’s shown absolutely no interest in potty training, so I haven’t tackled that obstacle yet. I’ve told him his deadline is his third birthday, and then we’ll hit it hard. It’ll be easier during the summer, anyway, right? He is finally talking more clearly and decisively—he can be quite bossy, in fact! It’s so much fun to hear what he has to say. He’s become quite attached to me lately, which can be frustrating and endearing at the same time. He still climbs into bed with us a couple of times a week, but it’s decreasing in frequency (which is nice—he’s a bed hog).
Lucas is also REALLY into Transformers (particularly the Rescue Bots, which is a show on Netflix) and dinosaurs. One of his favorite pastimes is running around the house roaring like a T-Rex. He also loves Jake and the Neverland Pirates. He loves to play outside at any opportunity, and his most-frequently-asked question is “We go to the playdound?” His favorite color is yellow, and when he colors that’s the only crayon he’ll use. He is a pretty solitary kid—he’d much rather play by himself than with others. He’s also very attached to his toys. He takes no fewer than 4 things to bed with him every night.
Matthew has become our little ham. He has been the LOUDEST of our children from day one, and that has not changed. He loves to YELL whenever possible. I guess it makes sense, because he does have two big brothers to keep up with. His distinguishing feature these days is his round belly. Despite starting out as a tiny guy he’s chunked up quite a bit. He started walking a week or two after we got home from Oregon and now he’s a walking pro. He also learned how to go down the stairs backwards (after taking more than a few spills), which was quite a relief to me. Along with his newfound mobility came the realization that he is probably going to be my most accident-prone child. He has more than earned his nickname “Bam-Bam.” Most recently, he thought it would be a good idea to walk around the bathtub. He slipped, of course, and his face had an unfortunate meeting with the side of the tub. The resulting black eye was quite spectacular. Fortunately, it had mostly faded by the time we got our pictures taken.
Matthew loves music. Anytime he hears anything even remotely resembling a song he immediately starts dancing. His version of dancing is a mixture of booty popping, hip shaking, and “deacon shuffling.” He also enjoys singing quietly to himself. He doesn’t really say any distinguishable words yet, but he babbles frequently, and responds when you ask him questions. He likes wearing shoes a lot; however, he has tiny, FAT feet—more so than either of his brothers at this age. For reference, the sandals that Matthew is wearing today are a pair that Kyle wore at 9 months (Matthew is 14 months old). He absolutely loves following his brothers around and is always trying to play with them (and they’re slowly getting better at including him).
And now, some gratuitous pictures.
It was seriously a miracle that we got a picture with EVERYONE smiling.

This is a true-to-life picture. Matthew can usually be
 found with food in one hand and a drink in the other.

Mesmerized by the ducks

This one was totally candid, as evidenced by
the heinous trailer in the background

See? Photographic proof that I have the handsomest boys in the world. A HUGE thank-you to our sister-in-law, Liz, for taking these fantastic pictures. She did such a great job, especially considering Lucas was being on the moody side (honestly, I'm surprised we got anything usable of him). Now, our wall will be up-to-date...until the new one comes in November.

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