Be Your Own Happy!

It would be a disservice to all of you, my friends, not to share this comic with you.

Remember who makes your happiness. You have the power!

Props to Stephan Pastis for another great comic.

Our Saturday Adventures


How fast am I

That's right--not a question.

85 words

Speed test

The secret is revealed!

Today the kids got to spend the morning playing at their friends' house while Jeremiah and I headed out to the long anticipated ultrasound appointment. The kids were all excited to go play with Sarah and Jordan but I think they were more excited to find out if they would be having a baby sister or baby brother come September.

Have I kept you in suspense long enough? I have to say that Jeremiah, as usual was right and has managed to predict the gender of each of our children. It would seem that baby number six is girl number four. Anthony was a little disappointed and Michaela and Natalie were very excited. Trevor and Abigail still have no idea what is going on.

Baby girl is healthy and everything looks great! Here are a few photos of our little one.

Here is her little foot. She was moving around so much during the ultrasound so it was hard to get her feet not moving!

Now that we know it is a girl it is back to the drawing board for names. We had a boy name picked out but are stumped for more girl names. Good thing we still have several months to come up with something!


Here we go again!

It seems we are still recovering from our week off in February and now we have spring break. At least the weather is on our side this time. That opens a whole new window of possibilities!

Today was day 2 of spring break and lots more fun than yesterday. I do have to say that all the kids were awesome helpers yesterday as we got the laundry done, cleaned bathrooms, and swept and mopped the floors. Anthony took over and did the floors for me and later told me that his new hobby was mopping floors. What a funny boy! We did play outside yesterday afternoon for a little bit and enjoyed the sunshine and beautiful spring weather.

Today the kids and I went to the library to pick out some new books and movies. We didn't stay as long as the older kids would have wanted because Abigail makes library time a bit difficult. Guess I will just take the stroller next time so she won't have any freedom! From there we went to McDonald's and then took our lunch to a nearby park for a picnic. The weather was beautiful and we spent our time wandering through the little farm area and checking out the different animals, playing at the playground, climbing trees, and watching the geese swim in the lake. Silly me forgot the camera so you will just have to use your imagination to visualize our wonderful day.

After a day like that it was early bedtime for the kids and me trying to get caught up on dishes and various household chores that didn't get done while I was playing.


Happy Birthday Trevor!

Four years ago today, I received a birthday present one day early. Even though I still had more than 4 weeks to go in my pregnancy we were headed to the hospital and welcomed our little Trevor into our family. It was a BIG surprise and Trevor has never ceased to surprise us in the four years of his life.

I am so thankful for his happy face and mischievous smile but most of all I am thankful he has survived the first four years of his life. It seems we've had a few close calls and we finally bought him a T-shirt that says "I do all my own stunts". He really does do all his own stunts even if they aren't planned or very carefully thought out. The following is a story I wrote about an experience we had with Trevor when he was about 16 months old.

Trevor's New Hat

Having a baby with a big head can cause some problems, especially when it comes to finding a hat. Out little Trevor has a big head! As his second summer approached I pulled out the boxes of baby clothes to see if Trevor could wear one of Anthony's old hats. No such luck, so the search for a new hat began.

Everywhere we went we looked for a hat. The baby hats were way too small and the big boy hats were huge. It seemed impossible to find something in between. Trevor wasn't the only baby with a big head. Trevor's cousin, Aaron, was having the same problem. Grandma Cindy came to our rescue. For the babies' first birthdays, Grandma bought them matching hats that she found at Old Navy.

Since Aaron and Trevor were turning one, we figured that the 2T/3T size would be plenty big. Boy, were we wrong on that one. The hats were exchanged for the 4T/5T size and they were a great fit! I think I was finally beginning to realize how big my baby's head was!

Now that we had a hat for Trevor, Trevor didn't want to wear a hat. He soon learned that if he was going to be outside he had to have his hat on to cover his big, bald, head. That hat got lots of use as we spent our summer days playing outside, swimming, camping, visiting parks, and hanging out at Old Sturbridge Village. We couldn't go anywhere without that hat!

Our long anticipated trip to California came with lots of excitement as we packed our suitcases and prepared to be away from home for a whole month. On the list of things that couldn't get left behind was Trevor's hat. It was packed with care – wadded up into a ball and shoved in the suitcase with all the other hats – and we were ready for some fun in the sun!

A few days after arriving in California we repacked our things and headed out with Mom, Dad, and Samantha to Scott's Flat for a Christensen reunion. We were going to be able to see aunts, uncles, and cousins whom we hadn't seen in years. The kids didn't really understand our excitement for seeing all the people we kept listing off but they were very excited with the fact that we were going to be camping for four days and three nights.

Poor little Trevor didn't think the camping stuff was all that great, but he sure was a trooper. Since he wasn't walking, he spent all of his time in the stroller or in the tent. Even the activity of playing in the lake didn't amuse him. Michaela, Anthony, and Natalie had a blast playing in the lake and going out on the boat, but Trevor wasn't impressed.

On the second day of our camping trip we all decided to drive down to the Yuba River – a popular place for swimming and snorkeling. After grabbing life jackets, sun block, and hats, we were off. The river was beautiful and emptied into a pool of still, crystal clear water. Huge rocks and boulders were all around and lots of people were sliding or jumping off boulders into the river to keep cool. After Jeremiah pointed out to the kids the areas they needed to stay away from because of the swift river current, we put on their life jackets and started walking across the pool area to a small spot of shade so we could sit and put on sun block. Jeremiah was carrying Trevor and walking ahead with Michaela, Anthony, and Natalie. I was lagging behind because of the rocks on the river bottom. Guess everyone else in my family has tough feet!

Michaela got too close to where the water from the pool drops down into the river. She didn't act quickly enough and the current started pulling her out of the pool and into the river. Michaela's face had a look of surprise on it as she called out to me but that look of surprise quickly turned to fear when she saw me screaming and trying to get to her. I felt helpless knowing that I was too far away to get to her. I screamed for Jeremiah as I kept working my way towards Michaela. As she went into the river my one small comforting thought was that she had a life jacket on.

When Jeremiah realized what was going on he set Trevor down on a boulder and went in after Michaela. As I was struggling to make my way to Trevor I watched with horror as he slipped off the rock, fell into the water, and started going down the river. I was frantic as I saw my little baby, face down in the water, getting farther and farther away from me. Without even taking the time to think I tried to close the distance between Trevor and myself by jumping and lunging into the river. The current was stronger than I thought it would be, and I just let it take me – hoping to get close enough to grab my baby.

For a split second I thought that maybe I had acted to rashly when I realized that Anthony and Natalie were now left standing alone in the water. I kept thinking that Jeremiah wasn't that far ahead and would be able to get Trevor. Then I caught a glimpse of Trevor's tiny body face down in the water and knew that if I didn't get him he would drown. What seemed like an eternity was probably a mere 30 seconds of terror as I kept reaching out for Trevor and only grabbing water. Finally, on my third try, I was able to grab Trevor's arm and pull him out of the water. I was so happy to hear him crying, and I knew he was ok.

That happiness lasted only a few seconds as I realized that I couldn't stop myself from continuing down the river. The water was shallow enough that I could put my feet down, but the current was too strong, and I couldn't stop. I was holding Trevor in one arm while trying to keep him above the water and with the other arm grabbing rocks and boulders and trying to stop. I was starting to panic and scream, and was very relieved when I could hear someone coming down behind me. Not long after I went in for Trevor, Ben and Mom jumped into the river as well. Between the three of us, we were able to brace ourselves up against some rocks and finally stop going down the river. From where I was, I could see that Jeremiah had gotten to Michaela and they were both climbing out of the river.

As we were trying to figure out how to best get out of the river, some people climbed down the rocks on the side of the river to help out. One man took Trevor from me, and then we were able to climb back up the rocks and out of the river. At that time the shock and adreneline wore off, and I realized for the first time how close we came to losing Trevor. My body started to shake so much that I could hardly walk. After some tears and lots of hugs, we realized that although we got Michaela and Trevor out of the river, the river did claim a few of our possessions. The sunblock I was carrying when I went in after Trevor, my sunglasses, mom's sun visor and glasses, AND, Trevor's new hat.

Even after that scary experience, the kids wanted to stay and play in the water. Trevor, who was now without a hat, had to wear Michaela's purple hat so we could keep the sun off his head. He didn't care about the purple hat, but he didn't want to go in the water.

That night, as I lay in the tent trying to sleep, I kept having dreams of my children floating down a river and me trying to reach them. What a terrible feeling and what a relief to wake up and know that all my children were safe and sleeping. Going through an experience like that really made me realize even more how fragile life is. We often take for granted the time we have with our family members, but I found myself appreciating each smile and giggle and hug from my children even more.

Our camping trip ended without any more close calls and we headed back to Walnut Creek. We were only one week into our month long vacation so we knew we needed to find a new hat for Trevor. While we were doing some window-shopping in downtown Walnut Creek, we actually found a new hat for Trevor. I didn’t even care that it cost twelve dollars. It fit! Trevor looked so handsome in his new hat!

As I have reflected on this experience, I have thought of our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ and their love for us. Through our Prophet and other church leaders, our Heavenly Father warns us of dangerous places, but often we find ourselves getting to close, and the current pulls us in. No matter how many times this happens, we have the arm of our Savior, waiting for us to grab hold of so we can be pulled to safety. How blessed we are to have the restored gospel in our lives. How blessed we are to be sealed together for time and all eternity.


Sofa Guts

Yea! Weekend! Multiple posts to the blog!

Our apartment was inspected by the management the other day. It's a yearly occurrence (pronounced "in-con-ven-i-ence"), so we're used to it by now. Getting your apartment inspected actually has a funny side to it. One is that your apartment is not the only one that gets inspected. We can expect to hear our neighbor, Marie, run her vacuum cleaner once every year--very late the night before inspection.

One inspection story that was not particularly funny at the time has mellowed and finally achieved that "you'll laugh about this later" quality that merits its place in today's post.

Several years ago, I found myself searching for the right gift to give my wife. The quickening approach of our anniversary and the need to mollify her somewhat after the purchase of my first laptop weighed down on me until I felt that first little trickle of inspiration.

Yes, that's inspiration, folks.

A couch! Better yet--a living room set. Ah, here was the gift that would do the trick. As luck would have it, Tamara was even out of town, so I had an opportunity to dump the old, third-time-hand-me-down couch and love-seat that we had parked our booties on for so long before picking up and positioning the new set.

My elation was abated somewhat by one small detail--couches eat things. I wasn't worried about about the new sofas, I just knew I still had some work to do before I could defenestrate the old ones. We'd had these couches since we were married, and I was sure that I had lost at least one item of moderate importance into the cracks and crevices of the couch. I think it was a small pen from a pocketknife my in-laws gave me.

Whatever the item was, I was determined not to simply let it go into the trash along with the 70's style furniture. (The 1970's may, in fact, be too contemporary a time period for the sofas--the set was decorated with beknobbed wood armrests--not comfortable--and had a texture that was corduroy and a color scheme that was calico.) I decided to take them apart.

Disassembly was no mean task. These couches were likely constructed to withstand all possible outcomes of another Cuban missile crisis. I don't think that particle board had been discovered at the advent of these brown brocade behemoths--they were solid wood! It's no wonder they lasted through so many owners.

After liberal use of my crowbar and jigsaw--I didn't acquire a circular saw until much later, the divan began to divulge the detritus that had accumulated after thousands of family home evenings, movie nights, story times, dinner parties, and the various other less decorous events that "go down" in the average home with children, including, but not limited to that which I will mention here only as Ralph, Chuck, or Chemish.

There was really nothing surprising to be found. It was actually quite disappointing for me. The kids were rewarded later with the return of various blocks or game pieces, but the biggest return for me was the spare change, and there was not as much as I had expected--less than a dollar as I recall.

Cheerios. Froot Loops. Some foam disks. A few writing implements, but not the one I had been looking for. Paper. Unidentifiable crumbs. My least favorite: goo. Oh, and on that note, I was reminded why we had the cushions laying that way. Paper clips and staples. Nail clippings, not surprisingly. Popcorn that had gotten away from either my wife or me. (Okay--from me.) An entire warren of dust bunnies, which scattered as soon as I tore into the panel stapled to the underside of the couch. Oh, raisins. The raisins were squished and hard. Ewwww.

Just as the tide of lost items was beginning to ebb, I got a call from the furniture store. The new living room set was ready. Leaving the contents from the couches strewn across the floor, I hopped into the minivan and left to make my pick-up.

Okay, how does this tie in with the beginning of my post. Oh, yeah--inspection. Tamara had reminded me that we were up for apartment inspection, but I had completely forgotten. You can imagine my mortification when I arrived home and found the inspection form laying on the kitchen counter and signed by the head of the maintenance staff.


I quickly snatched up the paper and checked the various sections of the inspection report. Everything was checked off. We had passed--no thanks to my fiasco with the couch.


I had a brother that would say it all the time.


This is actually the most fatal thing in the world.

And in the ninja world.

Same world.

I laughed out loud when I watched this video.

Tamara adds, "But it's so dumb!"

Hats off to askaninja.com for another very entertaining "answer."


Ratted out...

While chatting with my friend, Angie Lee, about the stories that her sibs could allegedly dish about her, I was reminded of a story of my own.

I was returning home late one night with my brother and his friend in tow. It was late. There were few cars on the freeway going east over the coastal hills, a rare occurrence for the densely populated Bay Area. We were all in high spirits, having spent the evening with youth from our church.

"Hey, 'Miah! Let's see how fast we can go!"

"Yeah! Floor it, man!"

"I don't know guys. We're already going pretty fast."

The freeway stretched away from us, straight as an arrow and sloping down into the next town. There were four lanes devoid of other travellers and no CHP cars to be seen.

"C'mon, dude! Let's break one hundred."

May I eventually be forgiven for caving so easily to peer pressure. It did indeed sound like fun.


Our small, manual transmission Honda Accord responded readily to the steady application of my foot to the accelerator. Soon the speedometer crested at 103 MPH. I let off the gas, and we slowly decelerated as the car coasted--very quickly--past the next offramp.


"Cool! That was sweet!"

We made it home without further excitement. It seemed that our little adventure would soon become just a remembrance of those silly things that we do when we're kids. Little did I think of how this passing moment of glory could come back to haunt me.

It wasn't long before some friction arose between my brother and me. In a moment of heated debate in front of my mother, I accused him of using foul language--an offense not to be brooked in the Jones household.

"Oh, yeah? Well the other day Jeremiah went 100 miles per hour on the freeway!"

My mother looked shocked. She is very quick with a witty response in most instances, and not slow to mete out punishment when it was deserved. But now she just stared at me, words refusing to coalesce in the form of some matriarchal pronouncement. Eventually she managed to come up with something about me never daring to do that again.

I got off easy, but I learned a lesson that day--I could never do anything that I wouldn't want my parents to get wind of.

At least not with my siblings around....


You've been dying to ask...

I know you have. You've been wondering, but no one has said anything. Well, I got the thumbs up today to post it:

We're expecting!

The new additions are due to join our family in early September.

Wait, did he say, "additions?"

You heard it here first! While it's still too early to know if the balance of power will be going to the X's or Y's, there's no doubt that's two of 'em in there.

Yes, the best laid plans of mice and men often go astray, and our expansion to an eight-passenger van doesn't seem to have been sufficient, but we'll cross that bridge when we get there.

Right now we're fielding names for the prospective Jones twins. Front runners:

  • Yin and Yang - a favorite with the Chinese grad students in my department, and it could work for boys or girls.
  • Remus and Romulus - for boys, obviously. No, we're not Italian, but, hey--names of twins brought up by wolves = instant coolness.
  • Lydia and Kitty - the names practically scream decorum and prudence. Maybe I'm just a little prejudiced toward them.
  • Fred and Wilma - yes, it's possible that we'll have a boy and a girl.
  • George and Jane - if "Fred" and "Wilma" seem too old-fashioned.
  • Bart and Lisa - I can feel the peace and harmony already.

Anyway, you should really take a closer look at the ultrasound...