We had a really great Easter this year. It started out a little rough but ended up being a wonderful day.

Since we had just returned from Sydney a few days earlier, the kids were still not adjusted to Denver time and were up half the night, very awake and alert. Jeramy and I - very tired and grumpy! Finally at about 4 or 5 am everyone fell asleep. Thankfully the Easter bunny was kind enough to not come in the morning , allowing all of us to get a little extra, much needed, sleep.

Since having children of my own, I have decided that it is really fun to coordinate our family's outfits for Christmas and Easter. It is completely cheesy and something I used to roll my eyes at, but I've decided I love doing it, even if it is a bit cheesy! And Jeramy, who won't admit it, but I know doesn't like it, is a really good sport about it! He only complained about his tie a few times. :) So, we all donned our black, white and yellow outfits, and headed off to church looking like "bumblebees", according to Jeramy.

The full view of the bumblees!
Despite my friend Erin taking about
30 family pictures, there wasn't a
single one where we were all looking
with eyes open, etc. We are a
sad, pathetic group of subjects!

Church was wonderful and was nice to be able spend some time reflecting on our Savior and the true purpose and meaning of Easter. It was a good calming influence on our family and helped replace the chaos and grumpiness with feelings of love and peace.

After church we were invited by our friends, Sverre & Erin, to go to their parents house for Easter dinner and an egg hunt. Sverre's mom really goes all out for the easter egg hunt and creates several eggs that have a slip of paper with what the real prize is - such as silly putty, crayons, a bunny, baby duck.... Yup, that's right - a few lucky kids (and even luckier parents!) get to walk away with some real, live animals. It was so cute to see all the kids going full force ahead, seeking out eggs and excitedly prying them open to see what was inside. It was also great to see the look of panic on the parents faces when it was a slip of paper inside. You know everyone was fervently wishing - "please don't be an animal, please don't be an animal..." At least that's what I was thinking. So, I was pretty happy when Ella's slip of paper said "silly putty!"
Ella trying to figure out what her
paper says. Three cheers for silly putty!
Cute Tait and Sierra delving into their eggs.

Ella with one of the baby ducks.

Finn with one of the bunnies. They were
pretty cute and even came with cages!

After leaving the Jensens, we came home to find that the Easter bunny had visited our house. Despite being completely exhausted, the kids perked up a little for the little scavenger hunt that the Easter bunny always does. Right after the scavenger hunt the kids just crashed. Ella didn't even want to eat any of her candy because she said she was too tired. We all fell into bed exhausted and happy after a wonderful, uplifting and enjoyable day!


Blogger's Best Friend

Most of you blogger pals are more savvy than me, so probably already have an RSS reader, but those who don't - must get one! I can't even tell you how much time mine saves me! I've talked to a few friends recently who weren't aware these existed, so I thought I would do a quick post to spread the good word.

I use Google Reader. What it is, is a central location you can go to check for new updates on websites and blogs. You enter in all the blog and website addresses (eg. favorite authors, newspapers, etc.) that you want to keep track of then you simply have to go to one place and it immediately tell you who has new posts since you last checked. That way you don't have to go to every single person's blog to check for updates. It's nice because it allows you to organize things in folder - so I keep all my blogs in one, other websites together and I subscribe to some quotes of the day that I keep together. It also has cool little stats and trends it tracks for you. It is so great that more and more people are doing blogs, but it does make it more difficult to keep up with everyone. Using a reader sames soooo much time and makes it a snap to stay on top of dozens of blogs. I feel like I don't miss new posts, and that it allows me post a lot more comments.

I started with NetNewsWire (for Macs) which was a program that downloaded posts to my computer. I didn't like that I wouldn't be able to check updates on a different computer than my own. So I switched to Google Reader because it is web-based and allows me to check for new posts from any computer. Love it! Check it out if you don't already have an RSS reader! Just go to reader.google.com.



Well, we just made it back from our trip to Sydney. Most of you know that Jeramy has business that takes him there a few times a year and sometimes we get to tag along. We had a wonderful time! I was nervous about the traveling part of the trip - mostly about Finn - but it wasn't too bad. I would absolutely do it again - not next month, but sometime in the near future.

So instead of recording a play by play of our trip, I thought I would document it using random and crazy facts about our trip.
  • Hours of travel to and from Sydney - 48.
    • 24 hours each way! 34 hours on airplanes, 11 hours in airports, and 3 hours to and from airports. What a long, crazy 24 hours -times 2! Not quite up to Jack Bauer's standard of a crazy day (24), but getting pretty close. I mean, no one tried to kill us, but based on a few of the looks we got on the airplane, I'm sure a few people would have liked to!
  • Number of hours of sleep the kids got during our travels - 8.
    • They slept about 4 hours each way - leaving about 26 hours of awake time on the plane. Ella is really good at entertaining herself, but entertaining a 13 mo. old in about 5 square feet of space for 26 hours - most of it while he was buckled in - was quite a challenge. I don't recommend it.
  • Number of books I read on our trip - 4.2.
    • I hardly had anytime to read while we traveled since I was busy serving as the airplane entertainment, but Finn was the best napper ever while in Sydney, so I had a lot of downtime every single day. I would put a movie on for Ella and make her have some quiet time for a while and I would read or nap or a little or both and then me and Ella would move the chairs out onto the balcony and enjoy the gorgeous weather. Then in the evenings, we would have the kids in bed before 8 and since Finn was sleeping in the living area, we were banished to our room for the evening. More time to read. Aussie tv is horrible!
Ella chilling in our little balcony lounge
we would set up in the afternoons during
Finn's nap time.
  • Amount of money spent at Subway while in Sydney - $139.05
    • Out of the 10 days (8 full, 2 partial) we were there, we ate NINE of our lunches at Subway. Food was so expensive there! Even Subway, although cheaper than most, was darn expensive. Every single day, Ella begged to have Subway for lunch. Since it was convenient, healthy, fast and not too expensive, I couldn't provide a good argument for not eating there. Don't count on seeing me at Subway anytime soon.
  • Number of pictures I took at Bondi Beach - 76
    • Bondi Beach (pronounced BOND-eye) is one of our favorite places to go while in Sydney. It is a gorgeous, well-know beach that you've probably seen in magazine or in movies. It is without doubt Ella's absolute favorite place in Sydney - possibly the world - and the minute we stepped foot out of the plane, that was what Ella wanted to know - "when are we going to Bondi Beach?" Despite her begging every single day, we waited and went on the weekend so that Jeramy could come with us. We all had a great time! Jeramy dug a big hole in the sand near the water so that when the waves would come in, a little water would seep into the hole. He called it a bathtub and it was the perfect place to stick Finn to play. Finn had a great time crawling in and out of the "bathtub", when he wasn't eating the sand. Ella had a ball running out into the waves and letting them chase her back in. Jeramy was fantastic entertainment for the kids and my favorite thing was to take pictures of the huge smiles on the faces of the three people I love most!
Possibly my favorite picture from our trip. This
captures so many
things I love about Ella - her
spunk, playfulness, sense of humor and zest for life!

Finn's first time at the beach.

Jeramy and the kids working on the "bathtub"

She had a smile on her face all day!
Busted! Didn't taste as yummy as it looked.
Caught in the act - again!

I completely buried Ella in the sand. I was so shocked
by how still she held. Didn't know she had it in her.
My two stunning boys!
  • Number of times mobbed by Japanese tourists wanting to take pictures of the kids - 4
    • These "mobbings" all happened at Bondi Beach - a big tourist attraction. You could tell these people had just arrived from Japan and the novelty of seeing people with light hair and eyes, well, they simply could not contain themselves. It was amusing to watch them survey the beach and stalk poor, unsuspecting, fair-haired victims! While at Bondi, we had four different groups of people come and ask to pose with and/or hold my kids for their pictures. It was pretty darn hilarious. Some of the groups had, like, 8 people and every single person had a camera and every single person wanted their own photos - note the plural on photos, one picture per person just wouldn't do! It kind of reminded me of my annual girl trips I go on - 8 girls, 8 cameras. Wow, we're really annoying! Nearly everyone wanted to hold Finn - probably because he wouldn't sit still - so I passed him over, laughing to myself as I handed my baby over to total strangers as it occurred to me that I would NEVER hand my purse over to a stranger - but, my baby? Of course - help yourself! A few times Finn got upset and started crying so I had to rescue him from the photo session, but that did not deter the determined photographers. Oh no, they would simply just include me in the photo. I guess they can just Photoshop me a blonde, too. Ella was in her element - all smiles and sass, loving every minute of the photo shoots. As we were leaving the beach, Ella asked why every time we go to that beach people want to take her picture? (Last trip it was the same story) I think after I explained, she was a little crushed that it wasn't because she was some kind of celebrity like Hannah Montana. In her mind it's more like - well, not yet....
  • Number of hours Jeramy had to work to pay for us to go to the Sydney Zoo - 100?
    • OK, a slight exaggeration, but it is very pricey. However, it is equally amazing! I am not an animal person but I love this zoo. You are able to get so close to the animals and it is such a beautiful environment with a spectacular view of the Sydney Harbour, Harbour Bridge and Opera House. They also have some animals that we don't get to see in Denver. My favorites, hands down, are the Koalas. You can get to within feet of them and they are so darn cute, especially if you can catch them awake - which is tricky because they sleep about 20 hours a day (what a life!). We all had such a great time at the zoo! Definitely worth the ridiculous price tag.

Wow, if you ask me - Ella looks pretty darn scary!
She looks as though she could swallow anyone whole.

When Finn saw me and Ella posing, he couldn't
stop giggling. What a cute little lion!

Finn's laughing because he though it was
hysterical to pound on Jeramy's head and
pull his hair. Let's just say the ride on
dad's shoulders didn't last too long.

A few pictures of the view from the zoo. Unfortunately,
the place in the zoo with the most amazing view of
the opera house, bridge, and harbour was blocked
off for a private function. It is still beautiful of the
of the harbour and bridge. Much more so in person.

These are some of our favorite animals we
saw at the zoo:

  • Number of turkeys that Finn terrorized - at least 4 or 5
    • At the zoo, they had a gated area you could go in that had some animals just running around free, some of which were turkeys. Jeramy and I were cracking up because Finn was a maniac. He was going full speed ahead, arms outstretched trying to catch himself a turkey. If I hadn't been worried about him getting pecked to death, I would have loved to let him loose to see how long it would have taken him to at least get a fistful of feathers.
As we were leaving, Ella was washing her hands
when a turkey snuck up behind her. She was a bit
worried, but her little brother came to the rescue!

Saving his big sister by chasing the turkey away!

  • Number of birds that terrorized Ella (in her mind anyway) - 30
    • We spent a lot of time at Darling Harbour on our trip. Our apt. was right next to it and Darling Harbour is where the Wildlife World, Aquarium, and park were located. There were also a bunch of shops and restaurants and in order to get to downtown or meet Jeramy we had to go through Darling Harbour. Anyway, because it is such a popular, busy place it is overrun with aggressive birds waiting for someone's crumbs to become their next meal. One day we picked up, what else, but Subway for lunch and took it to the park. We were immediately swarmed with birds wanting to share lunch with us. Ella was completely traumatized and sobbing and decided that the birds were all out to get her. So after we picked a new location for lunch - sans birds - she was constantly looking over her shoulder for the birds and would freak out if any birds came near.
The expression on her face kills me! She would
hardly stand there so I could get a picture of
Darling Harbour. She was so certain some birds
were going to swoop in and get her!
A magnificent fountain at Darling Harbour. Watch out for the birds, Ella!

  • Number of times nearly eaten by a shark - 2
    • The "shark encounters" occured at the Sydney Aquarium (see the pictures below for the full story! :) We always go to the Aquarium, at least once, when in Sydney. It was right next to our apartment and it is so fantastic! There are two things I particularly look forward to at the aquarium. The first are the sharks. To view the sharks you get to walk through these clear, underwater acrylic glass tunnels and literally feel surrounded by sharks - above you and beside you. It is a little chilling to see a huge mouth full of razor-sharp teeth right beside you! There is even a different place where you walk across a clear acrylic floor and sharks are swimming right at your feet. The second thing I love at the aquarium, actually my favorite, is the Great Barrier Reef Oceanarium. They have these HUGE tanks filled with all sorts of tropical fish (including those from Finding Nemo, which is always exciting for the kids) and live coral. The highlight for me is at the very end of the Oceanarium. There is a tank whose window is as big as a wall. There are steps in front and peaceful music playing and it is so beautiful and serene to sit and watch the exotic fish, eels and rays swim around. I almost feel as though there's no window there and I'm scuba diving in the Great Barrier Reef, well until my children start screaming and running around.......but at least for a few seconds I feel transported to the Great Barrier Reef.
Shark encounter #1! There goes Finn's fingers.

Shark encounter #2. Completely embarassing, cheesy picture, but it was fun!

Good info on distinguishing crocs and alligators.
It's all about how their teeth look outside their mouths.
Crocs - you can see top and bottom, alligators - only top.

Yikes! Check out those chompers.

Some kind of ray swimming overhead.
Brave sea turtle hangin' with the sharks.

Finn just hanging out (and drooling) at the Aquarium.

Finn trying to either eat or kiss the
fish in the Oceanarium.

My favorite place in the whole aquarium -
the Great Barrier Reef Oceanarium. It is magical!

  • Number of new food names I was able to translate this trip - 4
    • So I've figured out in the past that "rocket" is lettuce and "tomato sauce" is ketchup and "bangers' are sausages...but this time I learned that "capsicum" is a bell pepper, "coriander" is ciliantro, "rock melon" is cantaloupe and "sultanas" are raisins. Good to know!
  • Number of days of perfect weather - 10 out of 1o
    • Gorgeous and sunny every, single day there! The weather was the exact same every day we were there - sunny and low 80s. With the humidity it felt more like 90 degrees to me - which was perfect for the beach and pool. Because the weather was so great we tried to spend a lot of time outside - the park, the pool, just walking around, and when stuck at the apartment for Finn's naps - on the balcony.
The kids having fun at the park near our apartment.

Umm -gross! Can't imagine how
he keeps getting sick!

My little poser.
The bridge at gorgeous Darling Harbour.
My darling Ella looking gorgeous! :)

Hanging out at the pool one night.
  • Number of separate items to send through the airport security conveyor belt - 25
    • This included 8 shoes, one bottle of medicine, a sippy cup, a quart size ziploc bag of liquid items, DVD player, laptop, stroller - which came apart in 3 pieces b/c of the double seat and the storage bag, carseat, my purse, Jeramy's laptop bag, carry-on suitcase (sidenote: the first time we went to Sydney, our luggage showed up a day and a half later and if you add the 24 hours of travel - it was 2.5 days in the same clothes & underwear. Never again! I will always carry and extra change of clothes on long trips even if it makes for one more bag.), carry on bag for kids stuff, my bracelet (which set off the security sensor the first time around), Jeramy's watch and keys, Ella's jacket. We were quite the spectacle!
  • Number of times we had to go through airport security - 4
    • Oh brother!
  • Minutes spent waiting for our luggage at the end of our trip in Denver - 50
    • It was killing me! I just wanted to get home and brush my teeth.
  • Number of times I said "I'm so happy to be home!" upon our return - probably 100
    • I love to travel and our trip to Sydney was unforgettable! But when it's all said and done, you can't compare anything to the coziness and familiarity of your own home. I think after such an incredibly long day of traveling and battling children, it was just that much more wonderful to be home. By the time I'm all caught up on our laundry, I'm sure I'll be dreaming about our next getaway...


Crazy Kids

Life with little kids is certainly never dull! They sometimes do and say the funniest, craziest things. Here are two funny things that have happened recently:

Finn - So this morning I put Finn down for his morning nap. He has had a fever and has been sweating like crazy when he sleeps, so I just put him for his nap in his diaper and shirt. Shortly after I put him down he started crying and wouldn't stop, so I went to check on him. He had taken off his diaper and was standing up half naked crying. I went to pick him up and noticed the floor was wet. I looked down and saw that he had thrown out his pillow and stuffed Elmo and had peed all over them, the carpet and his crib bedding. Wonderful! I thought I still had another year or so until he started peeing everywhere.

Ella - On our trip to Australia, Ella ended up eating at McDonalds a few times (yuck!). She has always loved chicken nuggets but recently decided to branch out and try a cheeseburger. The first time she got a cheeseburger, she decided she didn't like anything on it but ketchup, cheese and the burger. So, the second time she wanted one she had to make sure to tell me that she did not want pickles or rice on her burger. Rice??? Me (puzzled): "Ella, they don't put rice on the burgers." Her (emphatically): "Yes, they do, Mom! Didn't you see all those little white things on my burger last time." ......Oh, the chopped onion. Too funny! Next time I'll be sure and have them hold the pickles and rice, Ella!


Six Word Memoir

The other night I came across an article from the New Yorker about telling your life story in six words. The article was in response to the book "Not Quite What I Was Planning" - a collection of people's (some famous, some obscure) six word memoirs. I think this book was probably inspired by the legend that novelist Ernest Hemingway was once asked to write a full story in six words. His response: "For Sale: baby shoes, never worn."

I started thinking about what I would write and, lo and behold, the next morning my friend Courtney had done a post with the very same idea. So, I decided to give it a little thought to see what I could come up with. The first idea I came up with was "Married childhood pal. Two marvelous children." But the more I thought about it, yes, it told some events of my life, but I didn't think it captured who I was and what I'm all about. The next one I came up with was "Fond past. Expectant future. Delightful present." but then I decided that it was pretty generic and really could be anyone's six word memoir.

So, after a little more thought this morning, this is what I've ended up with:

"Gospel, family, friends equals joyful life."

It's a little boring and could also apply to others, but I think that really tells who I am and what I'm all about. The principles of the gospel - such as gratitude, faith and service - as well as the teachings and example of Christ, are my compass in life. Those principles are my guiding force and direct me how to live my life each day. They are a part of my core and when I stay true to those principles and teachings, my life is filled with joy. And as for my family and friends, I can't begin to describe what joy, depth, richness and fun you all bring to my life.

Those three things are what bring me most joy in this life and make me who I am. Really nothing else matters. Oh, of course a fantastic pair of shoes makes my heart pitter-patter and I love finding the perfect item for my house but JOY - which means, "exultant happiness" and "high-spirited delight" --they do not bring. Besides the gospel and my loved ones, to me nothing else truly matters.

This was kind of a fun challenge and I would love, love, love to hear what anyone else came up with. I'm tagging anyone that reads this post and extending the six word memoir challenge to you! Good luck and have fun with it!


Prayer Air

The last week Ella has been really gung-ho about saying all of the family prayers. They are so sweet and sincere and usually kind of funny. The other night, she decided she didn't want to say them anymore. When we asked her why, she said it was because she "was all out of prayer air!" I'm not even sure what that means, but it made me smile.


Girls Ski Day

Yesterday Ella and I had a girls ski day. We were supposed to go last weekend and I even paid for lessons (nonrefundable) for her, but as our stay at the cabin didn't quite turn out like we wanted we were unable to ski. Since I had already paid, Jeramy and I worked it out that Ella and I would go up and both take lessons and he would stay with Finn.

The entire drive up I was peppered with questions by my very inquisitive daughter. "Mom, if I met a baby bear would he be nice to me?" After seeing a mountain goat on the drive "Mom, if I met a baby mountain goat, would he be nice to me?" "Mom, why are there balls on the wire?" "Mom, why did some people used to want to have slaves?" "Mom, do I run fast like a cheetah?" After a beautiful hour-and-a-half drive, my head reeling from our Q&A session, we finally got to Winter Park.

Ella did a full day lesson and had the time of her life. I knew by the end of the day she would either hate or love skiing. Luckily she loved it! They started the kids on the tiniest slope to teach them some of the basics and then had them use the magic carpets for a while. After lunch they took them up the chair lift to a really flat green run and had them practice. How could you not have a fun day with an instructor named "Mr. Potatohead!"

As for me, I enrolled in the "Learn to Ski" lessons - for people who have never really skied before. I've been about 3 times - twice in the early 90s and once a few years ago. I thought it would be good to start with the basics and learn proper form and technique. There were only three people in my class, so it was a nice student/instructor ratio. Even though I've hardly been skiing, I was surprised how much I did remember - kind of like riding a bike. I was a little anxious to go a faster and try more challenging runs but still had a great day! Now I've got the bug and can't wait to go again. Hopefully we can fit in another day before the end of the season.

What a fun, gorgeous day up in the mountains. The weather was beautiful - sunny and warm - and the scenery even more so. Even from the tiniest little green runs I was on the views were spectacular. I can hardly imagine what the views were higher up the mountain. All day long I kept thinking that this is why we live in Colorado! It's just one of the many reasons we love it and feel so blessed to be here!

What a beautiful view of the Continental Divide and
of Long's Peak! It is much more spectacular in person!