This One Goes Out to the One I Love - Part IV (Seriously? Another b-day? Yes, actually)

Get your party hats out again 'cuz here we go.

Today is my older sister's Liz's birthday. I don't know if she's passed the age when you stop telling people how old you are but she's a confident woman so I don't think she'll mind.

Yay Liz! You've made it to 34!

Here are just a few things that I love about my older sister:

She is a caretaker!! She is one of those people that sees when people are in
need and will go WAY out of her way to take care of them and their family. Adrienne reminded me of the time Liz, my parents, and I went down to So. California for Adrienne's little boy, Ezra's, baby blessing. Liz was just so stoked to be somewhere without her 5 (at the time) children that she just hit the ground running. She made all the food, got up early to make her famous homemade French bread, cleaned the house, and spent all of her down time reading books to Adrienne's little girl. Seriously, she probably did more than my mom, Adrienne, and I combined! And on top of that, she was sick the entire time, started coughing up blood and later found out she had a bad case of bronchitis! She is a workhorse!

So it probably comes as NO surprise that as a natural caretaker, Liz has SIX children -- four girls and two boys -- and they are all two years apart! They are: Taylor (10), Christian (8), Brooke (6), Paige (4), Ellie (2), and Cameron (3 months--who is so chubby that my brother Spencer calls him the Happy Sumo! Ha ha!). My parents had seven kids but I am still baffled by women who are capable of keeping their sanity while successfully running a home and raising good kids.

Which brings me to my next point, Liz is an INCREDIBLE mother. I know all moms have their faults but besides threatening her kids with ridiculous threats like, "So help me Brooke if you don't stop that you're going to get sit outside in your carseat for two weeks!" she really seems almost perfect. I feel terrible that my siblings and I used to giver her a crap when she was first to have children and now?!? We're all just wishing we could be as patient, tender, nurturing, PATIENT, and loving as she is to her children. Her six kids are so lucky to have her as their mother. So lucky in fact that I think it's unfair how lucky they are so I'm going to send my kids to her house so they can get in all that free luck.

She has adorable, good-natured
children. Here's Brooke in all her princess glory.

She is a crazy good cook / baker. She seriously can bake like nobody's business. Before my grandma Hazel passed away, Liz made it a point to spend quality time with her and learn some of her baking secrets. Even while pregnant and now a busy mom of six, it's routine at her house to always have homemade wheat bread, fresh, homemade meals, the craziest, sweetest desserts you've ever had. In fact, "homemade" is such a huge part of their lives that she made her little Paige a sandwich on white, Granny Bread (which to me, is quite a treat), and Paige looked at it and said, "Mom! You know I don't eat white bread!"

Liz is a crier. She is one of the most tender-hearted people I know. If I ever need someone to really feel my pain, I call her. She would be the first to cry with me and offer support like no one else could.

She is an iron woman. After about six weeks of having her sixth child, she was out pounding the pavement in the early hours. She runs about three times a week (at least three miles every time) and then does Tae Bo on her off days. Excuse me? Where are all the excuses? Here were mine: "Oh, I just had a baby six months ago, I better not overexert myself, I'm still recuperating." "Uh, yeah, I'm still nursing my 11 month old and I'm afraid running on a regular basis will affect my milk supply so I better not." Not Liz. She is out there at 6:30 a.m. running her little heart out.

Speaking of running, she is a bit on the Speedy Gonzales side. After having finally dusted off my running shoes and gotten into a somewhat regular running routine, I still don't think I could beat my 34 year-old, mother of six, sister in a running race. She played full-back on her high school soccer team and I still remember her haulin' her B-U-N-S (as she calls them) back to defend the goal. She was also quite the screamer at those games. Kay, the mom, didn't like the yelling so much but we were proud of our speedy sister.

She has beautiful blue eyes and passed them on to her kids. This is a straight-out-of-the camera shot of Ellie, her second to youngest.

Liz is a trooper. She hardly bats an eye at the idea of packing up all her kids up and going camping -- even when the weather might be bad. I seriously don't know anyone like her. She believes in really helping her kids experience life and the daunting task of packing, driving, quarrel-stopping, and camping hardly seems to phase her.

Liz, Adrienne and I talk about you all the time. Now that we're both moms, we're in even more awe about how patient and loving you are. Parenthood is not easy, we know that, but you make it seem truly manageable and fun. I look up to you and respect you as the perfect older sister, who has set such an incredible example for me to ATTEMPT to follow. Thank you for being my best friend.

I love you!

Happy Birthday!


This One Goes Out to the One I Love - Part III

And to my other sister-in-law who is turning the big 2-3 today ...

Happy Birthday Becca!!!

Becca is Scott's other sister (third in line in the fam). Here are the just a few of the weird, wacky, and unique things about Becca that I love:

She is not afraid to be herself. I've never known her to compromise her standards to appease other people. Seriously, she is an outspoken lover of all things teen. Adolescent literature (or "juvenile reading" she once mistakenly called it)? Loves it. Teeny-bopper movies and shows? Unabashedly crazy about them. She is a person with a strong sense of self and self confidence. Take a look at this picture. Need I say more? (Becca is the 12 year-old looking one on the right -- this picture was taken last fall).

She is funny. She is one of those people who probably won't compete for air space so you might think she's kind of quiet. However, get her in a smaller, more comfortable group and get ready for her hilarious, snarky comments. She can be quite the feisty one.

Becca loves her mom. I think it's so sweet how much Becca (and Kate) love their mom. It seems like they are the center of each other's universe and I feel like that's the way it should be between mothers and daughters.

Becca is a scrapbooker. She is my scrapbookin' buddy at the cabin and I love the bonding time we have while messin' with the Cricut, croppin' photos, and tellin' Kate to back off 'cause she just doesn't understand.

She loves her sister. Becca is the caretaker in her and Kate's relationship. If they both live to be old maids, Becca would be like my great-aunt Afton who lived with her sister, Isabelle, until they both died in their late 90s. Becca would take care of Kate, make their doctor's appointments, schedule their hairdo appts, and arrange for their older brother to take them to those appointments ("older brother" being my grandpa Dan, in this case ... but it's a toss-up for who it would be in the Christensen family ... let's just say, Scott over Cody, because then I would get to sit in the back seat too and we would be three old ladies driving to get our hair done and we would laugh and laugh 'til our dentures fell out, although Kate would probably not have hers in because Becca failed to remind her that morning). But seriously, I have never seen two sisters who are so different in personality yet who get along so perfectly and who love each other so much. It's like their souls are intricately connected somehow. Like spiritual identical twins. They were made for each other.

As Kate said on their blog, Becca sure does love a good nap.

Becca has this crazy tendency to dress up in 80s attire and hit the dance clubs ... or to just go out to dinner with Kate and Seth. I'm not one for dressin' up, but then again, if I looked that good while trying to be a doofus, I think I'd dress up more often.

She is one of the most organized people I know. Even as a kid she was very thorough and dare I say ... anal? Every year, on the day before school started, she would strip her bed and remove all of the tags from her new clothes and wash them all (along with her towels), just to make sure she got a good fresh start to her academic year.

Becca has such a sweet side that my kids, especially Ruby, love. This past weekend at the cabin, Ruby reached for Becca after being there less than an hour. This might not seem like a big deal to some of you who have outgoing children. But mine? Outgoing? Not so much.

Although she can get herself gussied up with the best of 'em, she has a tough, flexible, athletic alter-ego. She might seem skinny and girly but she is one of the most aggressive tubing competitors I've ever gone up against. She will send herself flying recklessly through the air to pull people off the tube to put them in her place. She and Kate fight for the title of who's the "scrappiest," and sorry Kate, I think I have to give that title to Becca. Becca the Scrappy. Hmm ... it has a nice ring to it.

Notice the hot bod in the picture? (I realize that my last three posts have focused a bit on my sisters-in-law's svelte physiques but really, can you blame me?)

She is beautiful. Seriously one of the cutest girls I know. Sort of weird but she used to date my little brother. The reason I bring this up is not to embarrass anyone but rather to provide more example of this "natural" beauty. My mom has always loved Becca so when she was dating Nick my mom was thrilled. Once she said, "You know what I like about Becca? She is beautiful and just exudes femininity. Some women feel they have to force their 'sexiness' (that's right, Kay used the word 'sexiness') on men but Becca has this subtle feminine beauty about her that I just love." Well said.
Becca, thank you for always making me feel welcome in your family. I have always felt like I belonged and it was in large part due to your (and Kate's) acceptance and love for me. Thank you for being such a great friend and sister.

We love you!
Happy Birthday!


This One Goes Out to the One I Love - Part II

Today is a special day -- the birthday of TWO of my sisters-in-law.

First up is Heather, who married my older brother, Spencer, in 2000. It's hard to believe she willingly consented to join our loud, crazy family but we're sure glad she did!

Just a few things that I love about her:

She is DO-er. I think it was an adjustment for her to join such a big, crazy family that pretty much does nothing. We have what you might call, "homebody tendencies." But Heather has always been there to help nudge us along, help us make plans, and get us out the door. And if she's unable to get our lazy b-u-n-s off my mom's glorious couch (that I think I've decided I want to be buried with, at least one section of it), she's still happy and content to just hang out, Smith-style (aka sit around and watch the brothers berate each other in German, humiliate ourselves via Karaoke, and eat and eat and eat. We're not THAT gluttonous ... okay, maybe we are. Thanks for loving us anyway Heather!).

Heather is quite the athlete and takes risks. For example, she signed up for a co-ed soccer league with Spencer -- she's never played soccer. Sure, she was a star track athlete in high school and college but picking up another sport to play, in front of and with other people? You can count me out. I even played high school soccer but most likely would not enter a co-ed league with Scott because I'm that big of a wuss.

Heather can SLEEP like nobody's business. And I'm not sure why, as I feel it's a bit of an injustice, but the Lord blessed her with a child that SLEEPS IN! Excuse me? I didn't even know they existed. When we were at my mom's house a few months ago, one morning Heather and Ava slept in until 11 a.m. Secretly -- or maybe not so secretly -- I was consumed with jealousy.

She's got great L'eggs. Seriously. Shortly before she married my brother, my dad made this comment, "I have to say, and I mean this in no perverted way, shape, or form, it'll be a sad day for mankind when Heather has to cover up those legs" (all you other Mormon folk know what I'm talking about). I took this picture while in Vegas last month and here she is over six months pregnant and still sporting the stunning, sculpted legs! As far as I'm concerned, this is a form of cruel and unusual punishment ... at least to leg-of-mutton peeps like myself.

Well, as Dr. Phil would say, "It's time that I start gettin' real." Heather not only has great legs, she pretty much has a bangin' bod all around. (Now what, pray tell, is the deal with all of my sisters-in-law? Seriously -- all three of my brothers' wives and both of Scott's sisters have incredible bodies. Not sure how this happened but I think it's the tiniest bit unfair ...) Here's Heather with Ruby on a beach on Maui. Um ... yeah ... my arms and shoulders totally look like that.

Heather has what I like to call, "Mom smarts," it's kind of like street smarts but specifically related to running a household. If you ever have a laundry question, call Heather. If you ever want to know how to decorate a house, call Heather. If you ever want to learn how to style your child's hair, call Heather ...

Or there's this fancy 'do ...

Kidding. (I only joke because I need an excuse to put pictures of Heather's little girl up. Basically, Ava is one of my favorite little kids of all time. Even when her hair isn't crazy, she puts a smile on my face every time she walks in the room. I sure do love me some Ava!) But seriously, her Mom Smarts are killer. Here's one of my favorite tricks I learned from her -- to remove a pesky stain from clothing, try washing it and then drying it in the sun!

Heather is one of those people who can always see what needs to be done and just jumps in and does it.
Try as I may, I am NOT one of these people. I finally catch on to a project that needs to be done when people like Heather have already completed about 90% of it. Even at my mom's house, she's always the one helping with the meals, cleaning up after dinner, picking up the toys, etc. And my favorite example: when we were getting ready to move from Idaho, she called me and asked if she could fly up with Ava and ... help me pack! Seriously? Who does that?

And I could go on and on, but as you know, I'm doing two posts in one day, which is a record for me, but finally I'll say, Heather has always been such a good friend of mine. I still remember meeting her for the first time at Utah State at Spencer's house. I thought she was so nice and such a darling girl. One of my favorite memories is right before I went on my mission (Dec. '00) I was crocheting a scarf. I asked Heather's input (due to her impeccable taste) about the colors and design and she helped me create a "cute" scarf (as "cute" as my mediocre crocheting abilities allowed me to create). Christmas came just a week after I left on my mission and she opened her present from me and guess what it was? You guessed it Sherlock Holmes -- the scarf. When my mom later told me Heather cried when she opened it, I cried too. I've always loved Heather and am so glad she is part of our family!

We love you Heather!
Happy Birthday!