Sunday, March 31, 2013

Happy Easter, from the Jensens

It was a great Easter day.  We started talking about the Easter story with kiddos in our bed (while the parents were stalling for time as the babies slept).  We had a short hunt for baskets (Claire walked her head into her basket) and eggs and a yummy brunch.

Church had some good talks and a wonderful lesson by the new Bishop.  One poignant part of his talk centered around the apostles asking "Is it I?" when Christ said the traitor was among them and how each of us can stand to have that same attitude when it comes to listening to prophets and apostles (well-timed message!).  I love lessons and talks on Easter Sunday because they are all centered around Christ's atonement.

After church, we took a few pictures with our Easter outfits.  We were happy with most of our family Easter pictures.

We got some pretty funny ones as well.

Sunday Morning Piano Recital

I walked in on babies having a great time at the piano, singing and playing quite happily.
Notice around the 0:18 mark Kate breaks into a rousing rendition of "Jesus Wants Me for a Sunbeam"

They've recently enjoyed a few duets at the piano.  Here are some pictures from another time.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Easter Egg Hunts

This is our 4th Easter in Portland, and it seems that every Easter, blue skies prevail!  We got to do a couple Easter Egg hunts this year - the annual one at the bishop's house (which was a few weeks early because their house is on the market); one at our friends' the Evans; and a little one at home.

Kate and Liam are at a fun age for Easter Egg hunting - they understand they are supposed to pick those little eggs up and there's candy inside them!  Kate has an especially strong sweet tooth.

Jacob was very concerned about getting one of the Golden Eggs.  He informed me that he'd been praying that he could find one and that Claire or one of the babies could find one.

It turned out that both Claire and Kate ended up getting a golden egg and the gigantic chocolate bunny that comes with them!  Jacob worked a trade with Kate so that he could have the actual golden egg (he didn't seem as concerned about the bunny).  Both he and Claire spent Saturday night sleeping with their eggs.

The Monday before Easter, we spent decorating eggs.  We had some glitter that we added to the colors and made the eggs extra fun.

Kate and Jared sat down and did some coloring on the eggs.

Kiddos have had fun trying to identify which color the egg shell was as we've peeled and eaten them!

Friday, March 29, 2013

Spring Break 2013 - worth the effort

Now that kiddos are in school, vacations will need to be more centered around their school schedule (which, by the way, we realized last week that our kids have perfect attendance so far this year... knock on wood).

Jared left work early on Thursday and we packed everyone up for a trip to the coast.  We were amazed how much stuff was needed for just 1 night!  On the way, in the coast range, we went through sunny times and rainy times... and "Sunny Raining" times, as Liam called them (quite happily).

We took a walk through Seaside and found a carousel, which we all went on.  Babies didn't like it one bit!  Seaside was pretty happening since it was such a nice day and because it was the weekend, so it was fun to walk around and people-watch!

After dinner, we went to get some $1 Tillamook ice cream cones.  Jared couldn't decide which flavor of chocolate to get (Chocolate Peanut Butter or Tillamook Mudslide), so he got both :)

We hurried back to the hotel to get into the swimming pool.  It was COLD!  Kate really didn't want to get in.  Liam eventually decided it was pretty fun to get in.  For a while, he would just sit at the side and kick his feet.  Then, he would stand at the side, Jared would say, "one, two three" and Liam would go running off.  Eventually, Kate got in for a bit.  Claire and Jacob practiced their swimming a little bit, but the babies were needing full-time attention, so we didn't get to spend as much time with kiddos as we would've liked to have.

We really like the beach at Seaside.  Even though the beach was pretty busy on Friday, it didn't feel all that crowded because the beach is so big.

Kate and Liam loved to dig in the sand.

We stayed at the beach for about 2 hours.  It is still March, was in the low 60's and partly cloudy.  And our redheads still managed to get a bit pink on their cheeks!  We're going to need lots of sunscreen and hats this summer!  Check out how red their hair is!

Our night at the hotel was not pleasant.  Kate and Liam weren't wanting to fall asleep in their beds, and were too wiggly to fall asleep outside of their beds, and Claire was snoring SO loudly!  At one point, around 11:30, we contemplated packing everyone up and heading home.  It all added up to a very short night of sleep.  Dani also was coming down with strep throat, so she was pretty exhausted the next day when we went to the beach.

Jacob came over to keep Dani company.  Kate also spent time sitting and reading with Dani.

Meanwhile, Jared was busy at work with the sand castle.  He managed to keep it baby-proofed (the moat worked!) long enough to give it a little shape with the stairs.  He was most proud of his bridge over 2 tunnels!

Overall, it was probably worth the effort.  If nothing else, we have a good story and some fun pictures!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Little readers

Claire continues to LOVE reading!  We often find her curled up with a book.  Her teacher recently challenged her a little bit with a book called "Because of Winn Dixie."  That one looks like it was a little more in depth of a book than a lot that she has read.  

She often is working on 2-3 books at the same time.  Currently, she is reading through some American Girl books, one of the Beverly Cleary Ramona books, a book called "Frankly Frannie."  She has probably been spending most of her time reading through a pretty long Star Wars book that covers Episodes IV-VI.  She has a pretty good comprehension and seems to like a challenging book.  

She gets quite engrossed in her books while she is reading and becomes unaware of things going on around her.  One thing that's interesting is that once she's done reading, she doesn't seem to be caught up in what's happening in her book or want to talk much about what she is reading.

Kate also loves to read.  If it were up to her, she'd spend half of her day sitting on someone's lap having them read to her.  Among her favorite books (which she asks for by name and then wants to read more than once) are: 
  • "ABCD book" (a book with baby faces and the ABC's) 
  • "Hi Guys" (a book about a concrete truck given by great grandma and grandpa Afton and Russ), 
  • Dr. Suess board books like Mr. Brown can Moo (pictured), and Hand, Hand Fingers Thumb
  • the "Grandma books" (a couple audio books given by and read by Grandma Vicki)

Jacob and Liam also like reading, but not like their sisters do.  Jacob loves Star Wars books.  He can read through simpler books by himself and can read other books with a little assistance.  Liam likes most books but has a much shorter attention span!

We're currently reading through the Book of Mormon.  Claire is able to keep up as Dani and I read, and she is able to read almost everything when it is her turn to read.  Jacob has made a lot of progress this year and usually only needs assistance with some of the harder words.  In addition to being excited for the positive spirit we can feel while reading the Book of Mormon as a family, we are excited to see the progress they've made as readers by the end of the book.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

The hole in the fence and playing in the backyard

A few months ago, a windstorm did blew out a few vinyl boards from our fence.  We put them back, and the wind did it again, so we haven't bothered to replace them yet.  Luckily, we love our neighbors, and our kids get along well because now that the weather is a little nicer, it means easier access in between our yards.  

We've continued to have a run of gorgeous weather recently, so we've spent quite a bit of time in the backyard.  Kate watched Jacob taking some batting practice and started putting the ball on the tee and hitting it off.

Claire likes to play her 'baseball' game, playing with the baseball popper, which pops the ball up in the air, and a little handbrush from their house set.

After mowing the lawn for the 4th time this year a week ago, Jared sent a text to his brother-in-law and sister in Minnesota taunting them (they'd just used their snowblower the week prior!).  We love the smells of spring, including the apple blossoms from the tree behind our house!

Friday, March 15, 2013

Little Parrots

For a long time, Kate has been a little parrot.  She is able to express what she wants very well (sometimes we wish she couldn't) and is willing to say anything you ask her to.  She learns words quickly, it's really cute.  Liam has been starting to be really interested in repeating words, and he knows a surprising amount of words and we're starting to understand more of what he is saying.  

It really is nice to be able to communicate with them - it makes a big difference when they know that they are understood.  When they ask for something and we repeat what they want, they get a big smile and say, "Yes" or "Yeah."

We have been reading a Mickey book to them, and they really like it.  The lighting on the video isn't great, but you can hear how they say, "Mickey," "Donald Duck," "Goofy" and "MONSTER TRUCK!!!"

Recently, they have been watching The Letter Factory (because the Veggie Tales sing along stopped holding their attention).  They will sit and watch the majority of the show.  In fact, watching that video is one of the very few times I have ever seen both of them sitting still for more than 1 minute.  We recently were asking Kate and Liam and teaching them what sounds A, B, and C make.  We haven't taught them any letters other than A, B, and C, but as the video shows, they apparently know what sounds most of the letters say!  Now, we need to find an instructional video on cleaning up messes that babies can watch.

They are learning SO fast these days, and it is a joy to watch them learn from everything and everyone around them.

Saturday, March 09, 2013

Biking in Champoeg

We took a bike ride in Champoeg on another beautiful Saturday!  We were excited to get on our bikes because we took Jacob's training wheels off his big bike (he's been riding his smaller bike without training wheels for a while), and he took off without a problem.

Since we had Claire riding the smaller bike a few weeks ago, we knew that we could all go on a bike ride together, and that Claire would be excited about it!  We packed Kate and Liam into their seats, and took off as a family.

We wound up riding just under 3.5 miles.  Kate sucked her thumb quietly; Liam talked and sang nonstop; and Jacob was happily in the lead, talking the entire way; and Claire provided a number of funny moments:
  • Every time she passed a dog, she took her feet off the pedals, and would ride 15 feet off the trail
  • Whenever she went down a hill, she would be to throw both of her feet far off of the pedals
  • She wasn't paying attention and ran straight into a post (designed to keep cars off the trail).  Fortunately, she was just getting started and going slow, so she thought it was funny

Afterward, we spread out the blanket and had a picnic.  I think we're going to need a bigger blanket for these family picnics!  We quickly discovered (or, rather, were reminded) that it is quite difficult to keep Kate and Liam's attention on lunch when there is exploring to do!

We played a few holes of disc golf.  Unfortunately, Kate and Liam have been sick, so we weren't able to play many as they were ready to go and needed a nap.  Jacob and Claire, as usual, participated in the disc golf and made sure their discs were in the baskets!

Claire's favorite flower was in bloom, and she made sure to go home with a bunch.  She dropped them into her water bottle for safe transport home.  I found it in the back of the car, with the drowned flowers, a few days later!

I love this picture of Claire and Jacob!  We love beautiful Oregon!