Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The Cheney Christmas Cruise

My jeans are fitting a little snug today, so I figure it must be time to take a break from the sugar cookies and Christmas candy to sit down and report on the Cheney Christmas Cruise. From checking in (you should try checking in thirteen people, two with the same name - it's pretty fun, really) to parasailing (no not me, of course) to bartering (Joseph is a certified expert), every minute was so much fun. And I particulary appreciated the giant rocking chair - I just get so sleepy on cruises. It's like I'm constantly being rocked to sleep!

Highlights included:

1. Dinner races - We were seated at two tables, and one had rapid-fire service, while the other waiter preferred the pace of a snail. On the slow table, we started cheating and grabbing the fast table's dessert menu before the turtle managed to bring us ours. :)

2. Room service - At one point we had Tanner, the youngest brother, call and order sixteen (no more, no less) chocolate chip cookies with milk, "please."

3. The rocking fitness center - Ever tried running on a treadmill that is rocking back and forth? Pretty cool once you get the hang of it. And I didn't even fall off once.

4. High flying - In Puerto Vallerta, we were lucky enough to snag a "canopy tour." What sounded like a lovely tour that showed you the tops of trees or some other ecological, nature-based, no fear expedition, was actually a bit more, shall we say, fear-based.

We (all of us - including the young, the frightened, the ridiculously brave, and Wes, the 70+ year old man who had the "fortune" of being the fourteenth body on our tour) first loaded into a open air cattle truck, put our seatbelts on (although it could be argued that in the case of a rolling truck, one might want to be ejected from the rolling bucket of tin rather than strapped into it), and bumped along for an hour until we reached the jungles of Puerto Vallarta.

We were then outfitted with rapelling gear, a helmet, and assurances from our guides that we wouldn't die. We walked a rope bridge to the top of a tree, and the guides clipped us on, one at a time, to zip lines that extended from tree canopy to tree canopy. We zipped through the trees, hundreds of feet in the air, and landed on small canopies that were bolted into the trees, with nothing to slow us down except our own hand, outfitted in a fancy leather glove designed to pull down on the line. (You are propelled by gravity and momentum, slowed down by friction. Or a guide throwing a stopper on the line if you're going way too fast. :) )

It was frightening, fun, and definitely a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

5. Sticking out - Being a family of thirteen tends to make you stand out in a sea of coupled graying heads (this time of year tends to cater to retired couples). But it warmed my heart to see us all together. The looks we got were both amusing (apparently our volume isn't appreciated in some circles) and appreciated. No matter what we were doing, it was very apparent by just watching us that we were one big happy family.

Here we are on the last night. We found that wearing our robes tended to cause the most sidelong glances.

Thanks Mom and Dad. It was a perfect Christmas vacation, full of memories we won't soon forget. (And who could really forget JC sailing through the trees, clinging on for dear life, yelling, "Who's yooouuurrrr Dadddyyyy?" :) )

And, as usual, some more pictures, most from aspiring photog, Jess. :)

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Feliz Navidad!

So we're on solid ground again (and within the beautiful grasp of an Internet connection), although we're still swaying as though we're on the rocking ship. I've got lots (Jess went more than a little crazy) of pictures to post (the above one is in Mazatlan), so stay tuned. But for now, feliz navidad! Only three days 'til Christmas!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Santa's First Stop

So because Jess and I have been so extra good this year, Santa visited us early, and we got to open our presents tonight!! (Actually, we leave early tomorrow morning to start our cross country journey - before we spend time in Utah, we'll be cruising with the Cheney Clan in Mexico.)

We both unsuccesfully stayed within our predetermined budget and had a lot of fun shopping for each other and trying to find "secret" items. It's kind of difficult to create Christmas surprises when you have the little law student underfoot!

It was a lovely (pre) Christmas evening. After homemade pizza (in my family, we have pizza on Christmas Eve, but I've taken it a step beyond to utilize the wonders of SOY CHEESE), we emptied our stockings and tore open our boxes. (Please keep in mind that of the 54 presents under the tree, just four were for Jess. Such a good man. :) )

And of course, even though there was a wireless headset, tent, books, DVDs, the most exciting thing for these Cheneys were, you guessed it, our Legos. We finished opening our presents, took a deep breath, and started building.

So Merry (early) Christmas all! I imagine this blog will become relatively dormant for about a week (unless I manage to get online on the boat). But don't worry, I've pre-managed my NBA Fantasy Team. Like I'd just leave them to play on their own. They need me!

Happy Holidays - best to all! We love you!

Monday, December 10, 2007

78 degrees

I had to dig for a pair of shorts today. It's December 10, and I had to find my shorts and flip flops.

Just thought all ya'll might want to know what winter in Durham was like. Truth be told, I actually miss the snow. The coldness of it all makes it feel much more like Christmas, and much less like it's time to crank the a/c before I have a heat "freak out."

Here's to the happy white stuff. (Yes, I realize it's much easier to recall it fondly when you're not scraping it off your car every morning, narrowly missing disaster as you slide through an intersection, etc. But still. :) )

Saturday, December 8, 2007

I don't wanna grow up...

As it happens, my husband has this entirely loveable side to him, his little boy side. And he's this little boy more than once in a while. It's something you just can't understand until you've spent several hours in the same room with him studying. He reaches a certain point where Law Student Jess just burns out and gives way to Little Boy Jess. I love it because just being married to him makes me realize how much fun your inner child really can be.

So tonight, Jess and I visited Toys 'R' Us to get each other an early Christmas present. After some serious consideration, I went for the "wow factor"...

And as you can imagine, Jess went for utility, the most bang for his buck...

As we sorted through our pieces (Jess had a whopping 300, I only had 193), the little boy in Jess shuffled them around, and holding a pretty rudimentary wheel (compared to my skeleton carriage wheels) said in all seriousness, "What, are these Legos for kids?"


Friday, December 7, 2007

Fake Competition

So whenever I do something, I like to be good at it. Not doing well simply isn't an option in my world. So when it comes to things like sports (especially when it involves the hand-eye coordination of hitting a small ball with a bat or a racket or a pole), balance (come on, I can barely walk without jamming my toe), math (thank goodness for touch points), things of this nature - I've learned to steer clear. There's a reason I don't water ski. I tried it once, drank half of Powell, and decided, "Huh, this isn't for me." :)

So when Jess started up this NBA fantasy league with his family and a few friends, I initially politely declined when he asked me to play. Why do something I'm likely to fail at, right? But then with some prodding, as I realized "everyone was doing it," I thought I'd try my hand. So I joined, under the name Big Blue of course (gotta keep the balance in this sea of red I've married into :) ).

And now, I think it's fair to say that I'm pretty much kicking trash (I'm currently battling Jess for the top spot), and I'm having fun too. Really! I may not manage FOUR teams (on different leagues) like a certain red head I know, but managing my one team, and yelling at them every night is getting to be quite enjoyable.

Yesterday afternoon, as I made sure my boys were ready to play, I realized I only had three playing. Quite dejectedly, and in all earnestness, I said, "Oh man! Only three games? What are we going to do tonight?"

So watch out. Big Blue doesn't like losing. ;)


This is Jess and our friend, Brian, enjoying our Fantasy League (TV's on, computer's tracking points :) ).

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Breaking Up is Hard to Do

So today was a big day for me. I broke up with my hairstylist of ten plus years.

Sunny and I go way back. She saw me through the end of my perm years, cut it short to save me from my perm years, colored my virgin hair, saw me through the blond streaks, even some red ones, and now to my ever-dark, pin-straight (flat-iron-damaged) hair. Even though I lived in Provo for three years, Salt Lake for almost two, I always went back to Sunny. Even when it required getting up at 4:30 a.m. to drive through a blizzard (literally, I did this) to make my 9 a.m. hair appointment. (The RAV really came through I'd have to say.) All in all, I think you could say I've been oh so faithful.

Until now.

Today I broke up with Sunny. She doesn't know this yet, but it's true. Our relationship has finally come to end. My hair was doing this weird grown out, stringy thing, and the thought of waiting another month until I'm in St. George was just too much to bear. (Excuses, excuses, I know.) But to top it off, I've been watching Gilmore Girls with a vengeance lately (early Christmas present), and Rory with her sixth season bangs has, shall we say, inspired me to move forward.

So I found a new hairstylist. And I feel like it could be the beginning of a beautiful relationship. Color? Perf. New bangs? Not too shabby. And Brook and I even share an uncanny addiction to the DP. A match made in heaven I'd say.

Sometimes letting go is simply the right thing to do.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Happy December!

Can you believe it? Christmas is just around the corner! I love this time of year. And I’m loving my first holiday season with my red head. When my family was here, we picked up a tree, and over the next few days, we decorated and put up our first little Christmas tree. (It took days as our guesstimate on strings of lights was a bit off, and of course, I wanted MORE snowflakes. So a few trips to Target were in order. :) )

We’ve been busy “secretly” shopping online and buying presents. And we even have stockings hanging from the “mantle.” (We don’t have a mantle. But our little hall table works pretty well.) And the best part about it? We still don’t have the heater on! :) (I’m perpetually warm, Jess is cheap – what a perfect match we make.)

Here are some pictures of our adventures in Christmas Tree Land.

STEP ONE: Bring tree in, unwrap it, set it in stand.

STEP TWO: Put lights on.

STEP THREE: Decorate with Christmas balls and snowflakes.
STEP FOUR: Add the angel.

This little lady was handmade by Mama Christensen. She looks just like the one that has stood atop every Christmas tree in the Christensen family since I was a wee one.


Can you see the photographer? :)

Thursday, November 29, 2007


Well folks, the inevitable has happened. Finals. They're rapidly approaching. Jess only has one class left, and his first final is on Tuesday. So I'm sure that most of you expect that he's spending quite a bit of time studying, right?

You're right.

Yesterday, he got home from school while I was at the fitness center working out. When I walked in the apartment, I gave him a hearty hello. I got barely a nod in response. Oh great. The cramming has begun. He was bent over the table, furiously writing as he glanced from the computer to his calculator to his paper. Clearly I was of little importance at the moment. He barely noticed that I had grabbed his camera to snap pictures of this. (Seriously.)

I cautiously approached him. I thought maybe I'd ask if I could help in any way. And that's when it all came together. He may have been studying, but it didn't have much to do with the law. That's right, Jess was calculating the statistics of his players. His players? His players on his fantasy NBA team, of course.

Later that day, he told me he needed to study "really." He laid out several stacks of papers (legitimate law papers) in a half circle on the floor, placed his computer in the middle, and hunkered down with a real serious look on his face. However, I looked over moments later and noticed that serious had turned to sly. That's right, checking his team again.

Here's his mathematical calculations as proof of his study habits.

NOTE: Jess actually has been studying, and quite a bit. I'm supposed to tell you that he studied for like FIVE HOURS today! But let's just say that his team(s) haven't been neglected either. :) )

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Gal's Best Friend

My sister's best friend in this whole world is her pup, Chamine. Chamine has stuck by Danielle's side through thick and thin for several years now. She's the best friend a girl could ask for. Just last year, Chamine disappeared into thin air. For ten days, our family experienced some serious mourning as one of our best friends was simply gone. Then just as quickly, she reappeared, making one girl in particular the happiest of girls. I love this dog almost as much as Danielle and love that she's Danielle's friend, always.

This year, Danielle was lucky enough to have her birthday here in Durham. So for her belated birthday party in St. George, she's having a joint birthday party with her best friend, whose birthday is next month. Danielle just sent me these pictures of Chamine's party outfit. If you're a dog lover, enjoy. If not, maybe you can still appreciate the tolerance of a dog in a tutu. :)

Happy Birthday Gals!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Buddy the Elf, Barbeque and Birthdays

Well, we just bid the Christensen clan goodbye. It seems like they just got here! We had such a good Thanksgiving break with them, and we’re so glad they were able to come. It was nice to have a little bit of Utah here, and we hope they enjoyed seeing some of our world here.

It was a bit of a whirlwind, but we were able to cram a few activities in. Thursday was a lazy day with a grand Thanksgiving feast prepared by Momma Christensen (with the assistance of a few look a likes) in a substantially smaller kitchen than she’s used to. That evening, we shared our most favorite episode of Dirty Jobs (on the Discovery Channel) with them, as well as enjoyed a little time with Buddy the Elf (“I'm singing, I'm in a store, and I'm siiiiiingiiiiing!”).

We also visited Duke University, the Museum of Life and Science in downtown Durham, shared some quality ESPN time, celebrated two birthdays (Mom and Danielle), ate some Southern BBQ (and experienced the aftermath of Southern BBQ), picked out a Christmas tree, and did LOTS and LOTS of shopping. (To their credit, the men were very patient with these shoppers.)

Sure love you guys! Thanks so much for coming. We wish you’d just turn around and come back. :)

Saturday, November 24, 2007

I'll take this one. :)


Who will it be? Who will it be?*

*Fine Print That Jess Hasn't Read: Loser has to buy winner a puppy. :)

Friday, November 23, 2007

Chocolate Bliss

Hello all! Hope Black Friday brought you all the shopping deals your heart could desire.Things are going well with the Christensens in Durham, although the weather took a crazy turn over night, going from the mid 70s to, ahhhhh, the low 50s. My sister is begging us to turn on the heater. I told her I had some extra scarves and gloves if she needed them. (You know me and being hot. Low 50s is quite ideal if you ask me.)

Pictures are forthcoming, but more importantly, I have some news to report regarding chocolate. Today's my mom's birthday. (Happy Birthday Mommy!) This blessed woman not only gave me my eyes, my piano fingers, and my love for words, but also, her penchant for chocolate was pretty much directly injected into my DNA code. So here's the recipe for the incredibly delicious chocolate cake we had. It was a first try for me, but it was divine. Pure bliss.

Crockpot Chocolate Molten Lava Delicious Easy Cake
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
6 tablespoons butter
2 ounces semisweet chocolate (or 1/3 cup chocolate chips)
1 cup sugar (2/3 cup & 1/3 cup, added separately)
3 tablespoons plus 1/3 cup Dutch-processed cocoa
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup milk
1 egg yolk
1/3 cup brown sugar
11/2 cups hot water
Whipped cream or ice cream

1. Coat the inside of a 2 1/2- to 5-quart slow cooker with cooking spray. (Note: the cake's cooking time and final appearance will vary depending on your crock's size.)

2. Whisk together the flour and baking powder in a medium bowl and set aside. In a large bowl, melt the butter and chocolate in the microwave or over a pan of simmering water and mix well.

3. Whisk in the 2/3 cup of sugar, 3 tablespoons of cocoa, vanilla extract, salt, milk, and egg yolk. Add the flour mixture and stir until thoroughly mixed.

4. Pour the batter into the slow cooker and spread it evenly. In a medium bowl, whisk together the remaining sugar, cocoa, and hot water until the sugar is dissolved.

5. Pour the mixture over the batter in the slow cooker. Cover and cook on high for 1 to 2 hours (I did it for 1.5 and let it sit for a while and it was about perfect), depending on the size of the crock pot.

6. Even when done, the cake will be very moist and floating on a layer of molten chocolate, but you'll know it's ready when nearly all of the cake is set and the edges begin to pull away from the sides of the pot. (As you check, try not to let the condensed steam from the lid drip onto the cake.)

7. When it's done, turn off the power and remove the lid. Let it cool for 25 minutes, then serve it in bowls topped with whipped cream or ice cream. Makes 6 to 8 servings.

So if anyone's got a hankering for chocolate, give this a go. Mmmmm!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Giving Thanks

This morning I’ve been running around, getting ready for the big day tomorrow. And I’ve been thinking. I’ve been thinking about the many things in my life I’m grateful for. I can’t begin to name them all, but here are a few.

CRUNCHY LEAVES – My achilles tendon is still rehabilitating, but if it weren’t, I’d be outside running through those crunchy leaves. There’s something about the crunch measuring each carefully placed step that keeps my thoughts organized.

DIET DR PEPPER – This is beyond addiction. We’re pretty much in a relationship. I just love the stuff.

CHOCOLATE – Much like air, I cannot live without chocolate. It’s just simply a necessity.

RUNNING – When my achilles was all busted up, it was as if I’d lost one of my best friends. Granted, I found a new friend in biking, but it’s nice to be getting reacquainted.

FAMILY – Mine will be here tonight. And we’ll see Jess’ in less than a month. With every passing year, family seems to mean a little more. They are the people who accept me and love me no matter what, even when I walk into walls and other such disasters. And they’re the people who helped make me who I am. And how lucky I am to have recently acquired such a wonderful second family.

UGG BOOTS – I never said they were cute. But actually, if you wear them long enough, they become semi-cute. I love my Uggs because they mean it’s winter time (my favorite season). And they keep my feet just warm enough. (Not too hot, not too cold.)

BISCUITS - Don't ask me why, but right now, biscuits are my most favorite food. The kind from Pilsbury's kitchen. It's strange, but I absolutely love them. Breakfast, lunch, dinner. It works for every meal.

MICROWAVE – We just got one yesterday. You don’t know what you’re missing until you’re missing a microwave. However, I did get very good at thawing things out with hot water, thinking ahead and putting the butter out a few hours ahead of time. But reheating leftovers (I have issues with leftovers as it is) without a microwave is basically an impossibility.

JESS – For his never ending patience with me, his love. For his goofy antics that few have really seen that make me laugh so hard I cry. I love him so much.

And there are so many more, but I’ll stop the list here. Thank you to each and every one of you reading this. And Happy Thanksgiving wishes to all. To those of you who aren’t here with us, know that we’re thinking of you!


Related Posts with Thumbnails