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Team Awesome

In all living have much love and laughter!

Updated: 2014-10-03T02:09:32.318-06:00


What's in a name?


Pepper: Mommy, sometimes people call you Kathy.
Me: Yep, that's my name. What is Daddy's name?
Pepper: Honey.

Update and lots of pictures


 In March Taylor went to Portland for March Madness with his stepdad and brothers. They had a blast! And since he was going to be gone, I drove out to Iowa to spend a week with Karen and family!!! That week conveniently turned into 2 1/2 weeks, and I was still sad to leave. We had so much fun! We stayed up way too late talking, we ran, went to the zoo, played at the park, went to the St. Patrick's Day parade and made the most amazing green breakfast. Ever. It was so fun to have our kids play and get to know each other better. I LOVE MY SISTER! Oh yeah, and we completely repainted a room in her house, including doors, baseboards, ceiling...and made a sweet frame for her wall...and it all looks so awesome.Pepper, Ash, and Tate making soup. And macaroni and cheese.My girlsOn a fun walk at a cool park! Karen demonstrating perfect ceiling painting form This doesn't due justice to the awesomeness of this room and frame. I also made a frame a few months ago. Found these old window frames with glass still in them on the tree lawn. Fun easy project. And I made the wreath to go on it. Too bad Karen's is way cooler than mine. haha Just kidding. But it really's just not too bad. :)Story smiling - cuter than the frame I was taking the picture ofAnother tree lawn find! (Thank you Jasmine!!) Pepper helped me clean it. For an hour. She (and friends) have loved having a sandbox in our backyard."Don't get me, Elliot!!!"Cheeeeeeeeese!Dr. Daddy teaching Pepper how to hear heart murmursAll holidays are more fun when your kids are a little older and really enjoy them. Painting easter eggs was so fun with Pepper! And finding the Easter baskets! We went to a dinner and easter egg hunt at our friends Holly and Mark's house and had a blast. Pepper loved finding Easter eggs. We loved having good friends to spend the holiday with.Story examining the grass while everyone else enjoyed the huntPepper running for an egg!Our little familyLife has been fun this summer! We spend lots and lots of time outside enjoying the sunshine and the heat! We frequent different parks each week, hit up the swimming pool, and go on lots of walks to any place within walking distance. We also still like story time and playing with friends in the backyard.Max, Pepper, and Elliot playing in our backyard during our "Story's First Birthday/YAY Exams are Over" Bash! We had all the first years over for a weenie roast on our fire pit and had fun swinging on the tire swing, talking, and eating delicious food! And the world's best s'mores.After crying hysterically when her fingers were covered with frosting, Story decided she liked her cake after all. Pepper liked it too. Obviously.Thomas, Will, Pepper, Abbie, and Story shwimmin!"ooh!" A classic Story face. She loves her swimming pool from Grandma.Pepper loves to push Story on the swing. And Story loves it too! This was when we went to Chagrin Falls - a cute waterfall and little town. It was pretty and the ice cream was yummy.Pepper driving Story in the tractor. This was at Patterson's Farm. Right after we drove 30 minutes out there to pick strawberries and found out that they were all picked out for the day! We still had fun and ate delicious homemade donuts.Story in the tractor wheelGrandma likes to periodically remind the girls of their Canadian heritage. They proudly waved their flags on our walk.Pepper could swing all day if I'd let her. And I love that she loves wearing her sunglasses.Pepper at the beach! We had a fun day with friends at the beach and I only got a little sunburned. Story had fun at the beach too. See?Story sleeping with Joshua on our walk. Little rascals. Ahh, young love. Jasmine and Joshua hung out with us while our husbands were at a conference in Orlando. It was so fun to have her around and so nice to not be alone! I'm so grateful for good friends. Seriously.[...]

Story is the big ONE!


Happy birthday to our little Story Ann! You know, a few weeks ago. She has grown up so much lately and seems so much more involved in things. She is tipping the scales at a whopping 17.75 lbs, placing her in the 10th percentile! That's big! It's all in her chubby little thighs. Her two words are "wow!" and "uh-oh" She loves to eat all the food we eat and good thing too because I was so done with baby food. I would tell you her favorites, but to this point she pretty much just pounds whatever we set before her. Although, she does have a great love for rocks, wood chips, sticks, pieces of broken asphalt, grass...I'm constantly pulling them out her mouth.

Recent accomplishments: learning to crawl up the stairs, learning to clap (she does it all the time with a huge smile on her face. Love it.), and just today she took her first steps!! She can balance forever while eating or playing with a toy and can stand up easily from a sitting position all by herself. We'll see how long it takes her to really get going, but it was so fun to see her do those first steps! And lucky for you, we  got it on film (if that is the correct term considering it isn't film at all...) so you can enjoy it too!

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Other fun tidbits: Currently one of her favorite hobbies is scooting all around the house pushing a little wooden train. Seriously, she did nothing but this for a full 45 minutes the other day. Her hair is strawberry blonde and looks very red in certain lights. I think it might stay red because she seems to have the matching personality! She is full of energy and excitement and opinions. She has become very vocal about voicing those opinions...loudly and with much drama. It's actually pretty funny. She also enjoys wrestling with Pepper. Mostly. I'm always surprised that she is laughing and not crying. She just loves her big sister! Pepper enjoys playing with her more and more and it's really helpful for me. Pepper likes to have Story follow her around or chase her, to crawl with her, give her toys, tell her what to do and what not to do, and tell her interesting things about life. It's fun to watch them interact more.

Apparently I'm a nut job.


On Tuesdays this local gourmet pizza place has all large pizzas on for $6. Recently we (meaning I) decided that this sounded better than making dinner. Taylor was home, so I ran quickly to pick up the pizza. While waiting for our order I began talking with a lady and her mom. The lady said something about me being a cute pregnant girl and congratulations and then she was distracted and her mom started to ask me questions about my pregnancy.
When are you due?
Is this your first?
Nope, our third!
Wow. How old are the others?
Two and One.
You are a nut job!
[unsure how to respond] haha thanks!

Is there a correct way to respond to this?! The funniest part was that we kept talking for another few minutes and she repeated this phrase to me several times and never once qualified it with a congratulations or that's great or good luck. Just, you're a nut job! I'm pretty hard to offend, so it wasn't offensive to me how she responded, but just so funny! Who says that?! She was so nice in all of her conversation I figure she just really thinks I must be crazy! Well, she is probably right on that point. But, crazy or not, we are really excited for baby girl three to join our little family!

Pepper funny


Just before bed tonight I had Pepper go to the bathroom (YES! She is potty trained and it's awesome!). She sat down, pooped out 3 little logs, stood up and said, "I got some out! Yook! It's a family!" haha!! Hilarious. I love having kids.

It's the end of January!


We're alive! And even better than that, we are enjoying what I am continually told is a crazily mild winter. Apparently the snow normally stacks up taller than your kids all winter, noses and ears freeze off, and the sun refuses to be seen for months on end...but not this year! I was preparing for the worst and it hasn't been bad at all! I am secretly hoping we can somehow luck out like this for the next 7 years?! I've even been able to run outside most of the winter!So...yeah...kind of slacked off for the last couple of months. Thanksgiving in a nutshell was: awesome. We went to Iowa to my sister Karen's house and 2 of our other siblings came too, so it was a big half of the family party in Iowa! We had a blast talking, doing karaoke, laughing, and going on hikes. We even managed to get Karen and Lisel back from Black Friday shopping at Wal-Mart without being trampled to death! It was a close call. The week went by too fast, but we were just so so grateful to get to spend time together!Story and DaddyUncle Dave is so fun! This was just before that bouncing tree branch broke and they all fell to the ground! Mason, Joseph, Charly, Meredith, PorterHi Story!Uncle Taylor reading books - Tate, Pepper, Ash, AaronPepper and CarstenStory WAS asleep...Went to check on her and found a group of adoring fans playing with herChristmas was really fun too (minus Taylor and I being sick with crazy nasty colds for the whole two weeks!). We were lucky enough to go to Canada and spend Christmas with Taylor's family. They always have a ton of extended family around and playing games, eating too much food, and having fun are good staples in the vacation. Taylor also got to go quading and we went to a Flames hockey game. The Christmas Eve nativity and testimony meeting at Grandma and Grandpa's was wonderful as always. Pepper enjoyed Christmas much more this year and that of course made us enjoy it more too! She had fun opening presents and being a part of the excitement. She loved being up there and getting to play with cousins all the time - especially Royal. They play really well - particularly when Royal smothers the play kitchen food with Chapstick and then gives it to Pepper to eat. Pepper took a good lick and decided it wasn't her favorite, but was polite enough to pretend to take licks when Royal continued to offer it. haha! Smart girl. This was all caught on the secret video Kylie was taking of them playing. She is just such a funny girl. She cracks us up all the time! Grandma and Kylie took our girls to hear Darby sing at a recital while we were at the hockey game. Pepper decided to sing her own solo in between the other singers and busted out, "ABCs! ABCs, ABCs!" for all to hear. Then on the way home they asked Pepper if she wanted to eat a treat when they got home she replied, "No thanks, I'm alright." Is she normal?! Orr/Christensen cousins! Pepper, Story, Livy, Benson, Kale, Royal, LukePepper and Mommy on the frozen lake behind Rod and Brenda's houseWith Grandma and Grandpa PiersonRoyal and Pepper in the tubNot sure why this was so fun, but we saw these two lying on the stairs quite a few timesJanuary brought us back home and into birthday season! Taylor turned the big 2-7 (which somehow catapults you into your "late" twenties and feels much older than 26...) and we celebrated with a small party and cake and ice cream. He's been super busy writing a paper and studying all month...and attending conferences all over the country!Shoveling snow!Pepper celebrated her second birthday! So fun! She is proud to tell you that she is "two!" and loves to ride her new rocking horse that she got. She is talking all the time and loves to sing...even songs I didn't know she knew...and occasionally make up her own. She still loves to read and enjoys playing with other kids more and more. She currently loves letters and carries the letter magnets from the fridge around with her and even sleeps with them. Tonight [...]

"1 Clo"


I was doing laundry yesterday and had a pile of clothes in the laundry basket that I was pulling out one and a time and treating. Pepper was with me and was looking in the laundry basket saying, "Clothes! Yook, Mommy, clothes! Der dey are! Story's jammies! Pepper's dress!" etc. etc. You get the idea...if you haven't caught on yet, Pepper talks a lot. Incessant. So cute. I love it. Anyway, "Clothes!"

Soon there was only one of Story's sleepers in the basket and Pepper said, "One Clo! One clo, Mommy." haha! Never knew the singular of clothes before...

Family Pictures and Updates on the Girls


Check out that frown! This pretty much sums up how thrilled Pepper was for family picturesOur friend Emmy took some family pictures for us! Of course we picked the one day in the midst of weeks of beautiful weather that it was FREEZING cold outside!! It was around 40 degrees and we were not prepared. I seriously had no idea it was so cold because it had been warm all week! Anyway, we were freezing and my girls were not happy! Emmy is awesome and is going to do single shots of Story and some with both girls later. We did get some good shots (or at least where all of us are looking at the camera!) in spite of it all! I think next time we'll do pictures in the summer!There were a lot of cute ones of Pepper actually. I had a hard time choosing which ones to put on here! Maybe I am just a biased Mom and think every picture of my kids is cute!Here are some updates on the kidlets:PEPPERI raked a bunch of leaves this morning in the front yard and had Story in the bouncer and Pepper was playing with sidewalk chalk and just running around. I felt a little bad for Story just sitting by herself (this is not an uncommon occurrence and I always feel bad! I try to give her lots of toys to hold, things to look at, etc!!!) so I told Pepper to go talk to Story and say hi. She stayed by me for a minute and then said, "Go say hi. Story." and proceeded to walk all the way around the yard (on the sidewalk...couldn't cross the grass?) went up to Story and said, "Hi Story!" and then came right back by me. ha! Kind of had a longer interaction in mind...but it was nice of her to go say hi!At lunch today I was telling Pepper the story of Goldilocks and the three bears and using different voices for Papa, Mama, and Baby bear. After lunch, Pepper was playing with toys and I could hear her saying, "Someone eating my porridge!" over and over in different voices. Cracked me up! I LOVE this stage Pepper is in. She is so fun! Her eyes light up with excitement at the simplest things! And sometimes the silliest things - like a hat or shoes or a letter magnet! She is so full of joy for life and its so so fun. Its so fun too to talk with her. We just have little conversations and it is fun to hear what she is thinking. Not to mention convenient. She can communicate with words everything she needs, which is so nice! I don't realize it until I am around other kids her same age who can't really speak at all - other than a few words - and I feel really grateful. Things she loves to do these days:Wear necklaces. If they don't fit over her head they make GREAT headbands.Wear shoes. She tries on lots of pairs, switches them often, and sometimes even carries around an extra pair. She is super good at putting them on by herself and usually gets them on the right feet...but not always!Wear hats. (Are we sensing a trend?!) She will also change this frequently and carry around TWO other for each hand. Never know when you'll need to change your hat...Clean up. This may sound weird, but she is really conscious of things being in their place. Not like she always puts all her toys away or anything, but she is good about cleaning up when we ask. And often she does do it on her own. This morning after playing with some straws (for sippy cups) she was about to go upstairs and she stopped and excitedly said, "Oh! Put dem away!" then turned around, put them in the drawer, and then went upstairs. Things like that - she does it all the time! Mostly, I think it is awesome, but a little part of me hopes I am not raising a neat freak! :) Watch people and things (like garbage trucks, squirrels, dump trucks...whatever) She is still really observant. She frequently surprises me with the things she notices and the things she remembers. Sing. This is new and really fun! She is getting pretty good!Color. Jump. She is getting awesome at this! Maybe because does it ALL the time! Both feet get[...]

Brain Barf


Sometimes I just feel the need to brain barf. Do you know what I mean? I just feel like writing all the things going on in my head. They don't really need to fit into any cohesive framework or solve any problem or mean anything to anyone in particular....or even make sense! (And sometimes they really don't make sense. And when I read them later I think to myself, "Self, why did you write that?") But, I just want to think and write and get it all out. Perhaps its like a colon cleanse, only much more pleasant. See? Things like that. Should never be said...but, I'm brain barfing, so it doesn't matter! That's the beauty of it all. So, fair warning: you probably shouldn't read the rest of this post. Leave now while you can! It may be long. It may be ugly. It may be annoying, or slightly embarrassing, or incredibly boring, or none or all of the above. I'm grateful today for many things! First, my niece-in-law (how many of you can say you have one of those?!) for inspiring me to be full of gratitude. Winner. Let's just say that FAMILY is one of the most awesome things...ever. Seriously. Think about all of the things that bring you great joy or the most meaningful experiences in your life - don't they mostly all involve family? If they don't, I find that sad. We had the missionaries over for dinner the other night and we talked about the importance of families. I think most people, me included, don't really grasp how important family is - and maybe that is why we don't spend the time and effort we should in building and maintaining really good relationships with them...just sayin. Other things I am grateful for: clean blinds (they were SO gross and I really feel a sense of renewal...)friends to be with at the parkparentsa roof over my head and a really nice house that we pay fantastic rent on - blessing!freedom to worship as I pleasepeople who think long and hard and come up with novel solutions to long standing problemsmy wonderful husband (I'll spare you the lovey-dovey list of great qualities for now)spongessunshinelaughter from my cute cute girls...which makes me want to just say:I have the best little girls EVER! I know I am completely biased and that's okay because they are mine and I can think they are awesome and adorable and hilarious in ways that others just can't appreciate. That being said, I hope to be the kind of mother who adores her children with a firm grasp on reality as well. You know the moms who think their children walk on water and can never ever do anything wrong? Lame. I hope to never be like that. But I also think that to be a good mom you really do need to have on some rose colored glasses, to look past mistakes, to see the potential and intent of your children and to forgive and forget as quickly as they do. I think you need to love them in all their quirky stages and annoying habits and take joy in each day with them! One of my sisters is SO good at this! She really just loves being a mom and taking care of her kids and so what happens? She is more patient, more understanding, more forgiving, more fun! I want to be like that. Not like every day will be a basket full of sunshine and daisies, but I think attitude makes an incredible difference! Well, I digress. I really just wanted to say that I love my little girls and I am so grateful they are in our family! They are so good and it is so fun to watch them learn and grow. Pepper says things all the time that amaze me and crack me up and make me grin. Today while she was in the bath I read from the Book of Mormon (I was admittedly trying to multi-task and get her in bed sooner...why? So I could brain barf on the internet? I think I had other plans. Can't remember exactly what they were...but, in my defense, I was really effective today! Maybe that's why I feel the need to do this mindless exercise). I always ask her after we read [...]

Free Cute Photos!


This awesome girl in our ward is a photographer and had a free Halloween photo shoot to get name out there. Pretty fun! You can check out her photography site here.


Happy Halloween!



I love this chub-a-lub baby! Actually, I don't think 2nd percentile in weight counts as chub-a-lub, but she is so dang cute!! I am actually excited for Halloween this year. I think its because of my munchkins.

Hooray for Grandparents!


I'm a couple weeks overdue in posting this, but I am still proud of myself for doing it! :) We were lucky enough to have Grandma and Grandpa Orr come visit for a few days at the end of September and it was SO FUN! We loved having them here and wish we lived closer. We got to go to Kirtland, which was of course fabulous. Daddio spent most of his time fixing our bathroom floor, changing all our outlets from two-prong to three-prong (so helpful!), making doors for our attic (awesome), and putting in a new shower head...and buying us an AWESOME new tv...and the list goes on. We feel too grateful to adequately say thanks for all their love and service! Mom even mowed our lawn and of course loved and loved and loved our sweet kiddos! It has surprised me as a mom how much I LOVE having our parents spend time with and play with our kids. I want them to be around and make memories and build those relationships with grandparents. Every time they are laughing and reading and talking...I it. Here are some pictures:Pepper loved reading with "Gampa Uhhrr" A couple of days after they left, I was hammering a nail into the wall in our room. Her room is next to ours and I had just put her down for a nap. I heard her say from the other room in a very excited voice, "Gampa Uhhrr?!" Obviously she associates hammering with Grandpa.Wow, SUCH a good stacker, Pepper. Good job! And, let's just note how she insists on wearing at least one (or four) necklaces EVERY day. Swinging in the back yard with Grandma! I love this picture and just wish she would have actually looked at me!Grandma with the girlies! Those mums Mom bought us in the background have all bloomed now and they are SO pretty!Cheese!I love this girl.At the Indians game! It was a really exciting game and we actually won! Pepper got a little scared when the fireworks started at the end of the game, but warmed up to them by the end. Story just slept through all of it. Story sucking her thumb! The little rascal. She also pulls her ear out while sucking with her other hand and, if you haven't noticed already, that ear already sticks out a bit. I think she'll be mad at herself later. But, meanwhile, she sure is cute. She actually sucks her thumb much less these know, now that I am feeding her enough! Sad story for those who are interested.She is such a happy girl! Always smiling, we love it!Hanging out with Grandpa! [...]

Thank you, nice Jewish man.


If you'd like to call me, just be prepared to leave a message and I'll be sure to call you back. See, I won't hear your phone call because my phone doesn't ring! No external noises at all. Why, you ask? Well, it appears that I left it on the hood of my car and drove off. It fell a few blocks down the run over a couple of times...and got rained on! Thankfully, a nice Jewish man (have I mentioned that we live in Little Jerusalem? Seriously. Our neighborhood is primarily Jewish - which is great. They are awesome neighbors!) saw it in the street (in the rain), got out of his car to pick it up, called my parents to get ahold of me, and then drove it to me at my house! How nice is that? I am so thankful that he is so awesome and that my phone works...mostly!

Pepper's Quotes of the Day


Pepper is at a super fun age right now and is just talking up a storm! She's so smart and I am constantly amazed at what she knows and understands. These are two funny things she said today.

In the car on the way to the store:
Me: We're going to have sweet potatoes for dinner. What should we eat with our sweet potatoes?
Pepper: ummm...a fork!

haha! Of course, yes, we will eat them with a fork! Why didn't I think of that?

Pepper has recently started saying prayers with our help. Today at dinner she was "saying" the prayer and I said, "Dear Heavenly Father" and she said, "Dear Jesus upstairs" We just we explain at this point that we don't pray to Jesus, just in His name?! We figured she'll figure that one out eventually. For now I guess we'll just be glad that she's tying it all together and knows that Jesus (whom she sees on her bedroom wall upstairs) is a really important part of prayers! She has also started adding her own items to the list of thanks:

Me: We're thankful for the food.
Pepper: Swee potao. Chicken. Fork. Mommy's fork...

She's hilarious and we love her more and more each day!

Corn and smiles. Corny smiles.



I think if I could invent a camera that actually does justice to real life I'd make a lot of money! Here is Story giving a smile, but of course she is a even a million times cuter than this picture shows.

And Pepper has discovered that she loves corn on the cob! I was cutting it off for her, but she stole the sister missionary's cob right off her plate and started munching. Now she won't have it any other way and she'll down the whole thing!

Here is Pepper on the swing at the farm where we went apple picking yesterday (so cute, by the way). She looks entirely too grown up!



Yes, I AM posting. I know. You all thought we had died. Turns out we're alive! And in Cleveland, Ohio of all places! We're here for medical/PhD school at Case Western Reserve University and we'll call it home for 7 years. At least. Taylor (side note: T.J. has decided that he is all grown up now and is going by Taylor. It's so super weird when your husband changes his name. I guess I'll just be glad he didn't choose to change his gender.) is doing an MD/PhD program that is perfectly aligned with his career goals of 1) being an awesome doctor and 2) changing our health system through research and policy. He is super excited and rightfully so as he snatched the single spot for the program and the attending grant money (awesome!). We're so grateful and really liking it out here. The people are so nice, we've made great friends, and there are tons of awesome things to do with the kids.What else has happened in the last...year plus since I wrote? Well, I graduated and am now Master Christensen! :) My thesis was published in a good journal and I wrapped a few other publications under my belt for good measure. I'm still occasionally working with my professor on manuscripts just keep a toe in the door. Just in case. We had a family reunion (well, half of the fam!) and got to see lots of family and we also got to see a lot of them on the drive out to Ohio. It was so so fun and made moving so far away that much harder! I may or may not have shed some tears. Oh! And you know, we had a baby! Story Ann Christensen born in May and she is such a doll! We love her to bits! Ann is after Taylor's mom, Julie Ann. She and Pepper are 16 months apart and both are keeping me busy! Story is so sweet. She loves to suck on her hands and her thumb (much to my chagrin) and smiles and laughs and is starting to babble. We love it! Pepper likes her, but doesn't quite understand that she isn't a doll. She likes to see her and touch her and pull her off the couch on to her head. Needless to say it is impossible to leave them in the same room alone unless Story is safely strapped to something. Pepper is growing up too fast and is all talk. Seriously, she talks all day! Full sentences and learning more and more every day. We love it! She runs all around and still loves to read books. She loves being outside, playing with rocks, sticks, dirt, dogs, and jumping in puddles (there are lots of those here - it rains a ton!) We have a tire swing in our back yard and she loves loves loves to swing. Taylor pushes her so high and she holds on like a champ! I just can't watch! She is such a smart girl, so helpful and so sweet. We can't get enough of her! Okay, occasionally I can. But, I still love her to bits! The last few weeks we had our sister-in-law Krystle and her little girl Royal staying with us. It was SO fun!!! We had a blast and I loved having a friend around all the time to talk with, cook yummy food with, and help clean up and watch kids. We went to Kirtland (it's only 25 minutes from our house. So, if you're ever visiting church history'd better come stay with us! We have stellar air mattresses, good conversation, and great grub! Seriously though, we'd love to have you.), saw some Amish sites, went to a "petting zoo," the Children's museum, science center, libraries, parks, and Pepper learned how to be tough. We were so sad to see them leave! Okay, I promised myself that I wouldn't try to play catch-up. But, I am going to sincerely try to be better about blogging every now and then from now on. I can't even keep up in my journal! But, since this counts as that too, I suppose it is worth the effort.[...]

My New Toy!!!!!


Happy Graduation to me! Partly paid for by loving parents for my graduation, and partly paid for by my "I want a road bike" savings fund, I happily introduce my new beautiful bike! Thank you SO SO SO much Mom and Dad!


Pepper is also excited about it. In celebration she tried to eat the owner's manual.

Family Pictures


I know, you are all shocked - TWO blog posts in ONE day! Amazing!

My friend Vanessa needed someone to practice her photography on and we were the lucky ones! Thanks Vanessa! Here are a few of our favorites.


Weddings, Grandpas and Such


In the middle of June we headed down to St. George for my nephew Broc's wedding! He married Ashley and they're a cute couple. The sealing was really good and we're happy to have Ashley in the family! We stayed with Howie and JeLynn and had fun hanging out with their adorable family. Here is Kaelynn at the wedding with her munchkin of cuteness, Emmalee.The Happy CoupleYay! They're married! (Check out Pepper's celebration dance at the top)While down there we stopped by to visit Grandpa Ballantyne. He is so sweet! ...and incredibly hard of hearing. Combine that with a failing mind, a loud voice, and giant sense of humor and you've got yourself quite the fun experience! It was great to talk with him and to hear him say over and over, "What a little precious thing" about Pepper. The next weekend we went to our friend Joe's wedding to Samy! We love them both and couldn't be more happy for them. Here are Chloe and Pepper hanging out together! They are little buds and Chloe is teaching Pepper all her cool tricks. Oh, in case you don't know, Chloe is my niece Britt's baby and as you can tell, she is so so cute! Britt and James live in Lehi and we beg them to hang out with us all the time because they are so fun! We also spent two weekends up in Huntsville lately with Karen and Austin and their fam. We are trying to get in as much time with them as we can before they move to Iowa in a few weeks for med school! We've had fun going hiking, playing soccer, frisbee, pool, football (if learning to throw a football counts!), games, made up games with an exercise ball in the middle of the night... etc!This is a picture of our niece Meredith's beautiful hair-do that she did on an unsuspecting T.J. in his sleep. There are several more clips in the back that you can't see. I think she has a future in hair design. We also had a cousins get together at our house a few weeks ago. William and Heather, Tyler and Nikki, Aaron, Maren and Annie, Brandon, Tyson, and Alan we all in our tiny basement! We had a pot luck and just had fun getting caught up on each other's lives. Yes, this picture is illustrative of Pepper's current stats: 72nd percentile head, 4th percentile weight. Pepper loves to stand! She loves it so much that she often refuses to bend her little legs (or any joint or bend point in her tiny body), making it nearly impossible, and quite humorous, to put her in her Bumbo or just make her sit on your lap. She is also SO interested in everything around her that she cranes her little head as far as she can to see it all!She is such a good sweet baby and we couldn't ask for better. She is quite good at putting herself to sleep now, which is so nice. And, lately she has been sleeping for long periods of time at night - making her mother very happy!Pepper loves her Daddy. She always gives him big smiles and turns to find him when he starts talking. She is "talking" up a storm now and usually chooses to grace us with her words and songs in the middle of my work meetings or during Sunday School. I try to keep her quiet for the sake of others, but I just think it is so cute!This is just what we see when we go to get Pepper from a nap... Blanket (which did have her swaddled, everything but her arms) kicked off and big smiles. We love it! Happy girl!In other news... I am almost done with my thesis! Still! It is such a long process of revisions and prepping the manuscript for publication, but I really am almost done and am getting ready to submit it. Can't wait! Work at Flourishing Families is going well. Pepper does well going with me and I am really enjoying the[...]

G, Grandma Orr, hiking and stuff


Pepper is getting really good at grabbing things and it is so fun to see her reach for toys and be more active with her surroundings. Many of the things she grabs go straight to her mouth or get crushed with her death grip. She's a strong little lady and loves doing the Super Baby flight pose. Here she is, asleep, but still grasping her little toy. ha!We've been pretty lucky this last month to see T.J.'s Dad twice! He's a pilot and had lay overs in Salt Lake. We got treated to yummy lunches and had fun hanging out with G. Pepper likes him because he feeds her chocolate malts! (He got in big trouble for that one!)We also got to hang out with T.J.'s Mom when she came for Women's Conference. It was so good to see her and have her watch Pepper for a while so I could get some work done. I wish she lived closer! We took lots of pictures on her camera, but none on ours! Dang! But, it was good times. Yesterday we went up to Sandy to hang out with Lance and Karen and their families. We went on a hike and the kids had a blast climbing and getting dirty. Pepper was the calm one of the bunch and stayed relatively clean. :) We had so much fun hanging out and talking afterwards and I am starting to realize just how blessed we are to have family close and the time for us to move draws nearer.Pepper liked looking around at everything (she LOVES being in new places and usually refuses to sleep so she won't miss a thing!), but after a while was ready for a nap.A few of Pepper's favorite things these days are: 1) Daddy. She always gives him big smiles when he comes home and loves to play with him... okay, so "play" is a relative word at this point, but you get the point. She has him wrapped around her little finger already. 2) Tummy time! Okay, maybe she doesn't LOVE it, but she is getting so good at it. She's so strong and holds her head, chest, and legs in the air for a long time, but rarely uses her arms. We keep trying to tell her that those things on the side of her body will help her, but she prefers super baby pose, I guess. The other day she actually did use her arms and she plopped right over onto her back. It scared her so bad she started crying... and we started laughing!3) Smiling. She is getting so smiley and almost has her laugh. She gives little chuckle-like things, which are so adorable, and is talking up a storm! I love it.In other news, we're both busy and enjoying the Spring weather, when it chooses to grace us with its presence. I defended my thesis on the 16th of April and am just finishing up some revisions and will graduate in August! I am working for a research project on campus this summer, but it is super flexible, I can work from home a lot, and when I go in I can take Pepper. I really couldn't ask for a better situation, but will still be glad to finally really be done with school and work at the end of the summer. T.J. did awesome this last semester with a crazy busy schedule of 18 credits, volunteering, work, more volunteering, and a newborn baby. He loves his business strategy major and is excited to be using his skills helping out the emergency room at UVRMC. (More on this at a later date.) He is just writing his personal statement for med school applications and will send in his application June 1st! It is crazy to think that the time for applying is finally here. He is still working in his research lab and reading up anything he can find on health policy.[...]

Sisters and Easter


So, as many of you may already know, I have the coolest sisters on the planet. I am so lucky to have so many amazing people to look up to and learn from! We all got together (except we missed JeLynn!) to play before Karen heads to Iowa. Britt and Joc, my oh-so cute and fun nieces came too and we had a blast! We mostly hung out, acted immature in the swimming pool and ate way too much - it was great! We also got to go to the BYU v. U of U gymnastics meet, see "The Blind Side" (which is like the best movie I've ever seen!), and go shopping. The only bad thing about it was that it ended too soon.For Easter we headed up to Karen and Austin's for the weekend. We love being with them and are going to miss them so much when they move! Dang med school. I only cry most of the time when I think about it! Hopefully we'll be somewhere close in a year when we also head off to med school. Check out what we got for Easter:Pretty cute, eh? Pepper is growing up too fast and getting way too cute for her own good. She smiles all the time now and is "talking" up a storm! I LOVE IT!!! Well, this post is short, but frankly I am just proud of myself for blogging so soon! It hasn't been six months since the last post! Love to you all![...]

Baby Pepper


Hey everyone! So, as I am sure all of you know since it happened 7 weeks ago and we've talked to you... and been more diligent about adding photos to Facebook... Our sweetest ever baby girl was born in January! She is so adorable and so fun and we are learning how to be parents! Hopefully we are doing an okay job. Here we are with Baby Pepper in the hospital.Some people have requested the story, so here it is: I had been dilated to a 4 and 100% effaced for two weeks, having been told by my doctor that she was going to pop out any second, which she didn't... for two weeks. So, the morning of the 19th I had my doctor's appointment (Again) and he was shocked I hadn't had her yet (Again). Since I was so far along he said he would induce me a week early, that coming Friday. Since I was group B strep positive, he said that actually it might be best for her to just stay put for a few days so we could have more control over the situation and make sure I had enough time for my antibiotics. Well, I think little Miss Pepper just has a mind of her own and doesn't like to be told what to do. She took that as her personal invitation into the world and I went into labor that night!I was contracting 5 minutes apart for a few hours, but they didn't hurt much. My doctor had said to go to the hospital if they were regular though, since we didn't know how fast my labor would progress. So, we went... and I was monitored for two hours, contracting 3 minutes apart the whole time, but I wasn't progressing. So, they sent me home. Went to sleep at 2:30 and woke up at 5:30 in major pain. I think I was ready for the epidural right then. But, given that I had just been sent home (that's so embarrassing), I stayed in bed for thirty minutes trying to rough it out. Finally I thought I might be assisted by a warm shower, but when I stood up I felt a gush of blood. It wasn't my water breaking, just some blood. So, off we went to the hospital again. We drove much faster this time! T.J. would speed every time I had a contraction and then slow down in between. It was so funny... well, you know, looking back. I wasn't laughing at that point. I got checked in immediately when we arrived (around 6:30 a.m.) and I was ready for my epidural. Saint John, my anesthesiologist upon whom I conferred Saint-hood (although if I'd known how quickly she was planning to pop out, I just might have opted to skip the pain meds...) arrived and I was quite comfortable at 7:30. Come 8:50 I was pushing, and at 9:11 a.m. Miss Pepper Ja'net made her grand entrance into the world! 6 lbs. 11.5 oz. and 20 inches long. T.J. was scrubbed in to help catch, but just as the doctor was showing him how to grab they head, she literally just flew out and plopped onto the table! Daddy dropped her. How will she ever trust him to catch her now?! My labor went really quickly, so I didn't have enough time for even a half a dose of the antibiotics (can't they just give them to you in advance since they know you need them?! Someone should really work on that). Pepper's heart rate was dropping during labor so the respiratory specialists were there for the delivery. She did fine at first, but after a minute just stopped breathing. It took them 20 seconds to get her to breathe again. They were concerned she had an infection, so I only got to hold her for about a minute before they whisked her down to the nursery. T.J. got to go down and be with her for a while, which was nice. I didn't get to see her again until about 4 hours later. She was [...]

It's a GIRL!!!


It's a girl and we couldn't be more excited!!! Both T.J. and I thought it would be a girl, so we were pretty stoked to see that we were right. Of course we would have been happy with a boy too! Here are a few of our ultrasound pictures for you to enjoy. I feel a little weird about plastering photos of her little bum on the internet...but, people do that, right? ha! Anyway, here she is, Baby Christensen! She doesn't have a name yet. We have a few that we like, but we are going to wait until we see her to make the final decision. Here is a cute little yawn! All that wriggling around must have made her tired. The ultrasound tech lady, who was so nice, said she was very active...she was all over the place in there!And she gave us a little smile! She just loves us. :)These are her adorable little legs and feet!And an arm. I think it's cool you can see their little bones. Seeing the ribs and spine was really cool. And, it was SUCH a relief to see the heart, stomach, brain, etc. and hear the ultrasound lady say she is healthy! She kept saying, "oh, what a perfect little heart!" "Look at those perfect legs!" I was pretty much loving her at that point.'s a girl! Look at that cute little bum! Honestly I can't tell she's a girl really other than there is nothing to indicate that she is a boy. :) The ultrasound lady (really should have found out her name huh?) said Dad should buy a shotgun, because she was not being modest in there!And lastly a little profile. How cute is that?! I love it! [...]

Oh Baby!


Whoa! A blog post from the Christensens! I know, great day. I really am going to get better at this. Today it will be a short post, but I thought you all may want to take a look at our exceptionally cute fetus. That's right, we're having a baby! We are so excited!!! I am just over 13 weeks. These first pictures of baby were taken last week. It was the coolest thing ever to hear the little heartbeat and see our baby moving around inside of me.In this one they were measuring the heartbeat. 174 beats per minute! Fast and healthy for baby at 12 weeks. Measuring the length...a whopping 5.23 cm from rump to crown. They grow up so fast!This is the token creepy shot of baby looking right at us. Hi Baby!I love this one because it actually looks like a little baby in there!And here we have a little wave with the hand. :) [...]

We went snowing!


So apparently something consistently misfires in my brain when I want to say "skiing"...I always say "snowing" instead. This made for some interesting conversations on our ski adventures Saturday. Glad to be of service.Yes, friends, Saturday was the best ski day we have EVER had! It was snowing all day, it was all fresh powder (tons of runs with no tracks!) and it wasn't that busy at all. We thought for sure, it being the long weekend and all, that it would be packed. Not so. It MAY have been due to the fact that we were at the cheapest local resort.... hee hee :)We went with our friends Sam and Holly and had a few awesome adventures... On the way there we slid off the road. Thankfully we were riding in Sam and Holly's CR-V and not our Ford Taurus! We slid off right after another car so we helped them out and they tried to help us. I say tried because our efforts were in vain. We just kept getting more and more stuck! We were calling AAA when finally an SUV stopped with a tow rope and towed us out. On to skiing! ...or so we thought. On the windy canyon road up to the resort we came to a dead stop. This would have been okay on normally days, but the snow was coming down fast and hard and cars were sliding backwards. Awesome. We finally got moving and passed the semi which was half in the ditch on the side of the road causing all the ruckus! We finally made it to the slopes an hour and a half after the planned arrival!But the adventures were not yet over! We were on the first lift and going past the midpoint where you can either get off or stay on the lift. We were staying on and we all had our tips up like good little skiiers (and the snowboarder rebel T.J.). The only problem was that I forgot about my poles! Normally I sit on them under my legs, but no, I just had them dangling away under our seat. Well, needless to say, I felt the pressure as they dragged on the ground and when I pulled them up they were sporting the lovely bent-at-a-ninety-degree-angle look. Very ravishing. Had they not been my brand new poles that I have NEVER used, I probably would have found it a titch more amusing. As it was I was pretty sad. T.J. tried to bend them back...less effective. They snapped right in half! haha! It was pretty funny (looking back!). I ended up renting some poles for the day and it made for a great story!Well, the pole adventures continued... Later we were on a hard powdery fun run and Sam biffed it pretty good. As he fell he put his pole between his crossed skiis... and SNAP! Clean break! Nice scissor shearing from his skiis I'd say. Make sure not to get your fingers between those devils! He had a gimped uni-plegic pole for the rest of the day.Despite all these crazy times, it was such a fun day!!! T.J. was a champ! He threw two 360s, which he landed amazingly and looked so studly I almost tackled him right there! He also did some awesome somersaults off the edges and I was so impressed. My husband is so cool! :) I also had a complete blast! I went with T.J. and Sam all day on all the crazy runs and when I started to feel scared and just decided that that wouldn't help and I went all out. Turns out that that makes it a million times more fun! I feel really in control of my skiis and am getting faster at switching from edge to edge. I am also getting better at keeping parallel with my feet close together and being in control when I go really fast. It is so so so much fun!! I l[...]