Friday, December 31, 2010

A Sad Day

Dave's dad hadn't been feeling well for a while, so it wasn't entirely unexpected, but when his mom called with the news that he passed away on the night of Ryan's birthday we were still caught off guard. I am so thankful that Dave had the opportunity to go to Idaho to see him a few weeks before and really was able to say goodbye. He was a great man and we will miss him dearly.

All six of us went to Boise for the funeral service and Dave and his sister, Susan, gave wonderful tributes. Later I called my mom and told her I wouldn't be speaking at her service because I just bawled the whole time. She said she understood.

Marcia is incredible and I was so touched at her love for Bob, evident even at the viewing. She held it together much better than I did.

I am amazed at the strength and courage his mom has shown throughout this time. Caring for him before he passed away and helping others grieve even as she is now.

We all went to a park and watched the kids jump around with their cousins and just kind of kept busy for the 20 hours we were there. It's sad that it takes an event like this to get the whole family together, but we did get to meet darling 2 year old Aluinn and play with him and sweet 4 year old Eva. The Christensen boys are all growing up into such handsome men. It was healing to see everyone together. And knowing that we will be with Bob again brings great peace.

October 2010

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Losing a Friend

It's sad that it takes death to realize how we should live. The day after Thanksgiving my 43 year old healthy neighbor died very unexpectedly. It was a shock and we were all saddened by the loss, but there is an ultimate comfort in knowing we will see our loved ones again. I am forever grateful for my knowledge of eternity and the plan of salvation.
Even though we miss people when they are taken from this earthly life, we gain great peace when we let the Lord heal our hearts.

The funeral service was so incredible and no one wanted it to end. It was such a beautiful tribute to a beautiful woman who lived her life serving her family and others. Teaching everyone along the way how to give.

I am sad that I didn't take the time to get to know her better, and as I listened to the many wonderful things people said about her I realized that I wanted to become a better person just for knowing her as I did.

I miss you, Debbie.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010


I am not sure why, but when we were through decorating our gingerbread houses, Wanda came to visit. I had never met Wanda before and don't know quite what to make of the situation! The kids were in hysterical fits of giggles...Dave, not so much. I love it when the kids really play together.
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Are Gingerbread Houses Just an Excuse to Eat Candy?

Every year I make each of the kids their own gingerbread house and they decorate however they want. This year I realized they love this tradition because they can eat all the candy they want...duh!
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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Locks of Love: Final Donation

May 2005

When we lived in New Jersey a girl in my Primary class cut off her super long hair and donated it to Locks of Love, where they make wigs for cancer patients who have lost their hair. I thought she was so brave! A few years after we moved to California I noticed how long our girls' hair had gotten and thought of Locks of Love. I put out a challenge "I will if you will" to Alaina and Becca, knowing they wouldn't do it. But, they said okay! So, we went to a hair salon and Alaina went first. The lady wasn't very nice and scared Becca so we left with just one hair cut. I took Becca somewhere else the next day and she got hers cut. Then I realized I had to get mine cut quick or I'd chicken out. I called my friend that cuts my hair who told me she was booked but when I begged her she agreed to cut it in her garage that day (it was a good cause, after all!)

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March 2009

Four years later I talked Becca into doing it again when I realized how long our hair had grown. Alaina decided not to it this time, and I couldn't blame is really important when you are 12!

October 2010

A while ago I learned that it takes 3 heads of hair to make a wig so I decided that I wanted to donate one more time, even though I knew the hair wouldn't be used together since I sent it right away each time. So, I didn't get it cut for a year and a half and it grew long enough to chop the last 10 inches (their minimum donation). This time Becca and Alaina both said no. I was in a hurry because I am not yet grey and didn't want to donate grey hair! I have a feeling it is coming soon.

In explaining to the kids why I did it (everyone knows I hate my hair short) I told them it was the least I could do to help someone who couldn't do this for themselves. There isn't much we can physically do to help someone with cancer and I have a lot of friends who are or have been afflicted, so I just wanted to do something. It's a small thing, but I hope I taught my kids a good lesson. And my hair will always grow back.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


Alaina finally was able to get her pins out a few weeks ago. We wanted to keep them but were told they are a biohazzard...and they were in her??? So, I took a picture next to my iPhone so I could show the perspective of how big they really were.
I am so grateful that is over now! (she is too) She was in a lot of pain the whole time the pins were in and the last week they were in, one of them poked through her skin and was constantly scratching her from the inside. Poor thing!
She was given the green light to play soccer again and is looking forward to her first game and high school tryouts. We are both hoping she can get her stamina and speed back up in the next few weeks.
I am a "glass half full gal", so instead of thinking why me (in this case, why Alaina), I always think, "What can I learn from this?" We definitely realized how much we depend on our bodies to just always work and do what we tell them. I hope it's a lesson we don't need to relearn anytime soon.
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Monday, October 11, 2010

Bad Gadget!

In case you were thinking of getting this for Christmas...DON'T!
Guess I should have read the fine print on the bottom of the box before I bought this, "Due to continued product improvement, product may vary slightly from picture." Not much of an improvement. They tasted terrible, too. Do not buy this gadget!
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Sunday, October 10, 2010

Ryan's Bday

This year for Ryan's birthday he wanted to go to Dave n Busters again. So Dave took him with 4 friends and didn't bring the camera...
SO, just for my 'mom guilt' of not having any pictures from his 10th birthday, I wanted to put a picture from around that time. But Ryan won't let me. It WAS his birthday, afterall.
They had a great time with dinner at the food court, went to a RC car place, and Dave n Busters.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Alaina's Bday

Alaina always chooses Benihana for her birthday dinner. I love having traditions in our family and something we started a few years ago was Dave and I taking only the birthday kid out for a special dinner, instead of the whole family. Now there are no complaints about food and the kids get all the attention on their turn.
Alaina is such a great daughter and we are so thankful to have her. I can't believe she is in high school goes way too fast.
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Since I had just had my surgery, I told the girls we couldn't do a party yet, but that I would take them to the movies with a few friends. We did family presets at home and did a little clothes shopping (always a hit with a girls and a punishments for the boys...)

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


Becca has been wanting contacts for a while but I wasn't sure if she could handle taking care of them. I finally decided to let her give it a try for her birthday and brought her to a surprise optomotrist appointment while we were at Costco. She did great and hasn't had any problems at all in the past month and a half! Her eyes are even more beautiful now that they aren't hidden. I always told her she was pretty with her braces and glasses, but I guess she didn't believe me. She told me she has now been "denerdified". Is that a word?
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Monday, September 13, 2010

Becca's Bday

Fujian has been Becca's favorite restaurant since we discovered it about 5 years ago.

My brother Brian and his wife Leeandra came to help when I had my hip surgery so they were here to celebrate Becca's 12th birthday. She was so glad they could come too.
I can't believe Becca is in Young Womens now and she looks so grown up. What a wonderful daughter and blessing she is!
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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

FAI and Labral Tear...Another Ouch!

The Physician's Assistant drew a picture of my problem (Femoro Acetabular Impingement and a torn Labrum)

I can't remember when my hips haven't hurt...maybe 20 years last year I finally went in for an MRI and my doctor discovered the cause of the pain. And the pysical therapist assured me that everyone does not have pain all the time. I just figured everyone felt like I did! So, after much stalling and pushing back, I am having surgery tomorrow. Yuck. I know it will hurt much more than it does now for a few months, then it will feel much better, so it will be worth it. But, I am not looking forward to the 3-6 month recovery.
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Saturday, August 28, 2010

New Paint!

We have never lived anywhere for more than 18 months (except England, where we rented a flat) so we have never had the opportunity to paint a house. Apparently you are supposed to paint your house every 10 years or so to preserve the, a few months ago I began searching for the perfect color. And painter.

It is so expensive to paint that I thought it would be such a waste to redo the same color our house had been for 12 years, and besides, it was kind of boring anyway. So, when I was out with the missionaries distributing fliers for a free breakfast in the park I came across a painter. I am sure he thought I was a crazy Mormon when I asked for his card, but his house looked great and he said he had done it himself, so I decided to get a bid from him.

SO, if you are in the market for a Mark Lawrence at Lortentson Painting at 787-1437. He did an amazing job!

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First Day of School 2010

Ryan has Mrs. Santos for 4th grade at Indian Valley, Becca has Mrs. Muniz for 7th grade Core at WCI, Andy got all of the Sophomore classes he wanted, and Alaina is hoping she likes her Freshman classes, both at Las Lomas.

We just had the house painted a beautiful grey blue and these pictures show why I haven't posted it...the lighting completely changes the color! This is the same garage door, just minutes apart. It is more like the color behind Becca and Ryan.

We started a tradition of going to Baskin Robbins after the first day of school when Andy was in Kindergarten. I love to hear all about their new experience and ice cream makes anything that wasn't good seem better! Blair came with us and the kids call him their brother because he is over so much. We love having him. Everyone looks pretty happy!

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Saturday, August 21, 2010


Last weekend Alaina's Comp soccer team (Go Velocity!) had a tournament in Ft. Bragg. At the last minute, I had decided to stay home so I could help Andy with his Eagle Scout project...I figured there will be hundreds more soccer games and he will only do his project one time. And, Dave was out of town, so no one would be home to help if he needed it. So, another family had kindly agreed to take Alaina with them and everything was great until the second game.

I guess when you play aggressively (Alaina is in the white jersey) an injury is bound to happen, I just had never really thought about it since none of the kids have had any major injuries in 10 years of playing sports.

So, just after she scored a goal in the second game, she had a bad fall. Everyone thought she had dislocated her shoulder and some of our awesome team parents rushed her to the ER and called me to let me know what was going on. X-rays, showed that her shoulder was broken in two place...her left femoral head was fractured from her humerus (the shoulder ball was completely severed from the bone) and broke her achromium bone (where the little knob in the middle of the shoulder is). She was so brave while the doctors were figuring out what was wrong.

After several hours of going back and forth with doctors in Ft. Bragg and Oakland Children's Hospital, and after several transportation options disappeared, I left for the 4hour drive at 9pm. In the middle of this, we had a dinner going on for Andy's Eagle helpers and our neighbors were having a wedding in their backyard!

Alaina was finally asleep when I got to the Mendocino Coast District Hospital, so I got the update from our coach's wife and team manager. They were unbelievable during this ordeal! So kind and helpful and loving. I am so grateful for them! I slept in chair at Alaina's bedside, and in the morning we began another chapter in the broken shoulder saga.

A new ER doctor came in and was upset that the night doctor hadn't given him adequate information and said she should immediately be transferred to Oakland. But Oakland wouldn't accept a hospital transfer and it became a doctor vs resident power struggle, ending with our doctor calling the resident a "preemie" and hanging up on him! I decided it was time to leave, so with one last IV dose of morphine (etc!) Alaina's kind coach drove our van so I could sit in the back with her while she slept and threw up on the windy road home.

Early Monday I called the doctor's office in Oakland and was told they couldn't see her until THURSDAY! So I took her to her pediatrician who was horrified by the xray and was able to get her in to an orthopedic within a few hours. Alaina had surgery the next day and I stayed the night with her in a chair (this is getting predictable, huh?). She got so many balloons, flowers, animals, and a HUGE basket of candy! I joked with her that maybe it was worth it, but she didn't think so.

Dr. Schilling was great and even though she is still in pain, and will be until the pins are removed, Alaina is on the mend! Thanks for all the prayers, calls, visits, and gifts.

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Friday, August 20, 2010

Belgian Waffles with Salted Caramel Sauce

We have a new favorite breakfast...
Salted Caramel Sauce
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
3 1/2 Tbsp butter
1/2 tsp fleur de sel salt
In a heavy medium saucepan stir the water and sugar until dissolved. Increase heat and boil without stirring until the syrup is a golden amber color, 8-10 minutes. (You can wet the sides of the pan with a pastry brush and swirl pan if it starts to burn.) Add heavy cream and stir over low heat (mixture will boil and sieze, but keep until it is all blended again). Remove from heat, and add butter and fleur de sel. Pour sauce into a serving pitcher or bowl and set aside to cool. You can make this a day ahead and keep in the fridge. Warm slightly before serving.
1 3/4 cup flour
2 Tbsp sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 2/3 skim milk
2 large eggs
6 Tbsp melted butter, slightly cooled
Whisk all dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Whisk remaining ingredients in a medium bowl. Add milk mixture to dry mixture in large bowl and whisk until batter is smooth.
Heat Belgian waffle iron. Spray lightly with cooking spray and pour about 1/2 cup batter over each waffle section. Close waffle iron and cook until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Serve waffles with fruit and caramel sauce. Yum!
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Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Leaving Hawaii Too Quickly

We checked out Monday morning and returned the rental car at the airport. We actually got a lot of sun, but we look the same in the before and after photo.

I love Alaina so much and am so proud of her. I don't know how she got to be this old, but she is such a wonderful young woman (she hates it when I say that, but it's true). We really enjoyed this time away to grow closer and have time to visit without daily life getting in the way of conversations. I love our traditions and am grateful for my family!

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Polynesian Cultural Center

We had a great Sister Missionary in our Ward, Sister Avea, and her parents got us tickets for the Polynesian Cultural Center on the North Shore of Oahu. I actually found it without any problem but was a little over an hour away from our hotel, so it took a while to get there. It was great to meet them and they were so kind. We got there just in time for the Canoe Pageant, then we took a canoe ride through the 8 polynesian villages.

We walked slowly back through the villages, stopping for amazing coconut in Fiji. YUM! We watched a tapa cloth demonstration, fished and threw spears in Tonga, watched a drumming performance, and on a bamboo raft. Alaina got a traditional tattoo (that washed off the next day in the ocean!)

We went to a delicious Luau and enjoyed Kahlua pork, chicken, pineapple, and coconut cake. We had smoothies in pinepples, too. Then we went to a huge stadium theater and watched the performance of Ah: Breath of Life. It was fantastic and the performers were great. The fire dancing was incredible! I was so tired, but managed to find the way back to our hotel, only getting lost a little.

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We went to church on Sunday morning, then, since we had to eat out, I let Alaina talk me into IHOP. She had been asking to go there for a long time, but we never go out for breakfast, so this was her chance! We layed out and walked along the beach. It was a beautiful day and I am so grateful we had the chance to take this trip.