Keeping Up With The Christensens

The latest from our world in MSP

New: Now charging to see Noё pics November 25, 2009

Filed under: Family and Friends,Noë V — JR-C @ 3:15 pm

Just kidding… we won’t make you pay. I’m trying to protect myself from some of the flack headed my way for not posting Noe pics in months. Hey, this blog is free. What kind of service do you expect?

Most of these pics were taken in October. She’s all over the place — cruising, crawling, pulling up onto anything and everything. Wearing us out, in other words. Not that we don’t need the exercise.

We’re excited to continue celebrating Noe’s first Thanksgiving, which began Saturday with the Christensens, picks up again tonight at Grandma and Grandpa Olson’s, and carries into Thursday at Uncle Mike and Aunt Cindi’s.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! And safe travels.

Curious about my cell phone and why I’m always pointing and shooting it at her

Mission Seek-and-Destroy-All-Gladware: She’s in this drawer about 10 times per day.

For those of you who wondered whether our baby would EVER sprout hair, she now has some, thank you very much. It’s quite blond and often takes on the bed-head look. We love it.

Pulling for Red Sox second baseman (and former Sun Devil) Dustin Pedroia

Her first Gopher women’s soccer game, Oct. 18 against Ohio State

Playing with new blocks from Grandpa Dave

Hamming it up for the camera (and for Grandpa)

Story time with Aunt Katelyn

A fun Sunday visit from Grandpa and Aunt Kate on Oct. 25

Contemplating what to get into next…

Watching the leaves fall and getting after Daddy to rake them up 😉

Halloween night at Tess and Ruby’s house – Dr. Noe in scrubs, with First Aid kit at the ready

Mission Seek-and-Destroy-Anything-Allegedly-Childproof (this time at Tess and Ruby’s house)

Determined to get the gate down…

Rummaging through the kitchen again, looking for new “toys”

Loving her black beans and peas. She started signing for “more” peas and “more” cheerios on Nov. 24. And Joe got a heavy dose of “more” bananas this morning at breakfast. 😉




Juggling via post-it notes and text messages August 29, 2009

Filed under: Family and Friends,Noë V — JR-C @ 12:01 pm

Ack. Work. Baseball season. Busy-ness. Life. Interspersed with lots of cuddling, sweet smiles and baby giggles.


I don’t love the stress and craziness associated with juggling career and family, but I love the journey we’re taking together. I love that I’m exhausted by 8:30 at night, but if I feel like eating pretzels or animal crackers for dinner, I can because Joe’s at work. I love that I haven’t watched a Twins game all year (in entirety), yet I always know the previous night’s final score by asking a sleepy someone before I dash out to the door to work. I love the post-it notes on the kitchen counter and the text messages… All the funny things we’re doing to make it our unique journey.


Relaxing our way: Celebrating the arrival of the weekend at a local sportsbar


“Dad, I’m not going to drink this apple juice when you guys have those!”

The biggest news at our house of late is that Noe has a new BFF. That, of course, would be her wonderful nanny, Lauren, who started working for us on Aug. 3. Lauren graduated this past spring with a B.A. in psychology and will begin working on a master’s degree in marriage and family therapy in a few weeks. We had tons of applicants for our opening, but Lauren stood out among those we interviewed. She was searching for just the right kind of people, and we were looking for someone who would fit right in with us like family. Mission accomplished.

Noe literally jumps for joy when Lauren walks through the door each morning. The two make a great pair, and Lauren continues to impress us with her dedication to both quality playtime and new learning opportunities. I also owe kudos to my doula, Megan, for tipping us off to, the site that helped us find Lauren. It’s a fabulous business that also runs background checks upon request.


Noe and Lauren at the end of Lauren’s first week

In other Noe news, here’s a quick list of her current favorites:

  • Eating Cheerios by the handfuls
  • Joe’s Madison Mallards hat
  • Electrical cords of all kinds
  • Listening to music and “dancing” (= wiggling her head, shoulders and butt back and forth while sitting)
  • Crawling anywhere and everywhere, esp. areas we haven’t yet baby-proofed
  • Long stroller rides
  • Being read to — and turning the pages
  • Taking baths and silly bath toys
  • Oscillating fans
  • Pulling herself up to the standing position in her crib (thinks it’s big stuff right now!)
  • Sportsbars (OK, she’s only visted a sportsbar once, but she loved it)

I hope you’re doing well as summer comes to a close. I’ll leave you with some more of my favorite recent shots:


Being cute in blue jeans


Exploring in the backyard


Playtime with Lauren


Loving life


Doing So Big


Starting to love the camera


Helping Joe clean sweetcorn for dinner


Leaving her mark on our hearts  – and on her crib rail


Summer of containment comes to an end July 31, 2009

Filed under: Family and Friends,Noë V,Weekend Revelry — JR-C @ 10:34 am

Noe keeps reminding us she’s not too young for things like summer BBQs, swing rides and slumber parties. She turns 7 months old on Aug. 5 and rarely slows down, with the exception of two naps and the 11 or 12 hours of shut eye she grabs each night. 😉

It’s a faster pace around here these days for a reason: Noe started crawling July 27 after a few weeks of threatening (rocking on all fours, creeping here and there, and sitting up from any position). That means the end of The Containment Era for us! We can no longer put her on the floor and trust she’ll stay in the same spot. Such a big girl…

She recently enjoyed her second sleepover at Tess and Ruby’s house. It was a blast for the kids, and Stacy and I were able to catch up over dinner and wine. I always come away from our visits feeling more relaxed and confident as a mother. Kinda like pressing the re-set button and exhaling…

My sister-in-law Cindi took care of Noe last week, and the pair grew so close in just four days. They went on several stroller rides/walks together and played at the local park. We were grateful to leave her in such capable hands while Grandma R. was on vacation. Noe also met Auntie LaVae, who was home from Charlottesville before heading off to Zurich for vacation.

Joe’s been successful at getting me to take Noe “out and about” more, and not worry so much about sticking to her schedule. I’ve been a little better about letting go. I must cling to routines because of what we went through her first three months, when she was so colicky and we never knew what was around the corner. That all seems so long ago now… thank goodness.

Here are recent pics of Noe living it up during her first summer. We hope you’re enjoying yours, too!


She loves Joe’s new Madison Mallards hat, with its bright colors. Can you tell?


Her second sleepover with Ruby (left) and Tess (middle)


Going for a ride in Tess and Ruby’s backyard


Having tons of fun with Aunt Cindi


Toes are a super-convenient snack and way underrated, according to Noe


WAY underrated…


Reading books with Aunt LaVae


Making nice with Zena, Grandma and Grandpa O.’s dog


Getting sleepy and trying to fight it


Out and about at the Como Park Conservatory


Practicing how to “let go” of the afternoon nap, get out and have some fun


We’re baaaaaack July 8, 2009

Filed under: Family and Friends,Noë V,Weekend Revelry — JR-C @ 9:22 pm

Yes, I’ve ignored the blog, and yes, I regret it. Sorry for the month-long furlough. No, it wasn’t planned. Life just sorta happened.

I started working my new version of full time on June 1 (30 hours per week, Monday-Thursday). And as I explained to my lovely 20-something sister-in-laws over the weekend, when faced with the choice of blogging OR several other activities during the last 4-5 weeks  (such as reading, connecting with Joe, turning in early, watching trashy reality TV or getting a pedi), I chose “other” every time. Amazing what a little work and a little Noe does to your ever-shrinking personal time.

So, right before I send you on to the PICS (I work in communications. I KNOW my audience), here are some Noe highlights from the last 4-5 weeks:

  • As of July 6 (her 6-mos. checkup), she weighs 16 lbs., 6 oz. (59th percentile) and is 25.5 inches long (42nd percentile)
  • She’s sitting up and has mastered bending over and picking up every toy imaginable
  • She rolls ALL OVER the place, and can roll in ways we never knew possible
  • She’s up on all fours and is rocking back and forth (yes, dear sister-in-laws, will get my act together and post video IN MY FREE TIME)
  • She currently loves to put her toes in her mouth (yummmmmm)
  • She’s eating three meals a day (some combination of cereal, fruits and veggies), takes a bottle before bed, and sleeps 12 hours per night (and now, because I’ve written this and blurted it out loud to everyone, she will probably stop sleeping 12 hours… I am so superstitous!)
  • She’s been making strange for quite some time, but no matter how long Joe is on the road for work, she always knows Daddy when he comes home. It’s awesome to see. Such a smartie.
  • Anyway, I’d better stop blabbing like a new mom and get on to the pics…


Playing with Grandpa R., one of her FAVE playmates


A typical morning with Grandma Betty, before mommy heads off to work


Hanging’ with Grandma O., who is very good at reading me my German book… Some people say we look a lot alike!


Enjoying one of the three nice days we get all year in Minnesota


Helping mommy water the flowers in front of the house


Modeling my shades from Grandma and Grandpa O.


With Auntie Katelyn (and playing with cousins Tess, Padraig and Gannon)


Heading out the door to a beautiful June wedding, sans Noe


Cheering on the Sun Devils (GO ASU!) in the College World Series


Waking up from a nap in a playful mood


See what I mean by “playful?!”


I love it when they learn how to find the pacifier (and put it in their mouth)


I took a million of these shots and you’ll have to bear with me… I just love them




Sitting up all by myself (it’s easy) as of June 28


Playing at Lauderdale Park with my friend George (but I still don’t like that he took my toy!)


Wrigley Confessions June 4, 2009

Filed under: Noë V,Weekend Revelry — JR-C @ 8:17 pm

It’s time for me to stop breastfeeding. Really. It first hit me last Friday, when I was standing in a bathroom stall at Wrigley Field.

Instead of sitting in my seat with the other fans, taking in the Dodgers-Cubs game on a lovely spring afternoon, I was hard at work with my hand pump — the one that can fit inside a cute purse but isn’t necessarily the most efficient among breast pumps. Yes, that’s right. I was executing the nursing mother’s version of the squeeze play.

OK, so maybe it wasn’t the end of the world: I only missed the third inning and was able to listen to the radio broadcast. But it wasn’t about the baseball. It was about getting away for the first time in five months and getting some relaxing time with Joe.

INSTEAD? Every three hours, I was literally consumed with the thought of pumping: what time would I be able to pump again? where could I pump? how much more pain could I withstand before giving in and pumping? specifically, how long could one really keep other women waiting outside the two-stall bathroom at Murphy’s Bleachers in Wrigleyville while pumping? Not long, methinks (I never tried).

I never realized how UNCOMFORTABLE “the girls” would be while I was away from Noe. The longest I’d ever gone without nursing her (and relying solely on an electric pump) was for eight hours at work.

So when I returned home, we started the process of weaning. So far, ummmm, yeah… much of the same kinds of pain. Owwwww. But it’s slowly improving. We started Noe on one bottle of formula per day last week and just increased to two bottles today. She’s taken to the formula just fine, thank goodness. I’m trying to give my body time to adjust. Wish me well as the process continues!

Why were we in Chi-town? Joe’s job took him there, and he coaxed me into coming along. We then “coaxed” a combination of grandparents into watching Noe. It took ZERO arm-twisting. They all had a blast.

We were only gone for about 36 hours, but it was an eye-opening getaway for several reasons. Joe and I found ourselves being able to reconnect and speak in full sentences, uninterrupted. We even finished thoughts that had nothing to do with emptying the diaper pail, what was in the fridge for dinner, or what time Noe would be going down for a nap.

We also got to spend time with my dear friend KJ, totally spur of the moment, which did wonders for my soul. I missed her so much. And I missed being out and living it up. Yes, my former partying self still exists underneath the mommy layers.

So, during the 20-30 minutes I was standing there in the stall at Wrigley (I know the bathroom attendants thought I was doing drugs!), I made a decision. I’m ready to give up breastfeeding and move on to the next chapter: Bring on the late-night formula mixing and bottle heating. I’ve given little Noe V. five months of breastfeeding, and that’s a huge accomplishment. Some day when I explain, I know she’ll find the whole Wrigley a-ha moment quite amusing.

The Latest on Noe? There’s tons of new stuff again but I’ll keep it short. Highlights: She loves her high chair… and we may have a southpaw in our midst! She’s been showing left-handed tendencies (just like mommy!) lately, first noted by Grandpa Dave over the weekend. They say kids switch hands a lot as babies before the dominant side emerges, so stay tuned…

On to the pics!

Wearing my SF Giants colors at Wrigley: “BEAT LA!”


Joe in front of “the bean” sculpture at Millennium Park


Our self-portrait at “the bean”


Springtime in Millennium Park




Back at home, going in for the tickle “kill”


Oh-oh… Attack of the Kissing Mommy!


Seriously, teething is hard work


Helping me water the flowers today after work




‘Sweetness’ is my weakness May 23, 2009

Filed under: Die Arbeit,Noë V — JR-C @ 7:43 pm

Holy reality check! I have NO IDEA how working moms do it/did it/have always done it… No, I did not think it would be easy. But I did underestimate the effort it would take to transition back into the working world.

Yes, there’s a huge wakeup call going on in my brain right now, and it centers around trying to straddle numerous worlds: kicking butt at work; having time to catch up with Joe–either via telephone when he’s traveling, or in-person (luck!) when he’s home and I’m still awake; enjoying Noe when I’m home; helping to keep the household running (including keeping breast pump parts cleaned and ready to go to work each day, ha!).

The nice thing is that whenever something does stress me out at work now, I just shoot a quick glance over at the photo of Noe and things start to come back into perspective. What can I say? She is my complete weakness (and wakeup call of another sort!) in a GOOD way.

These last few weeks I’m reminded of what it felt like when I started grad school in the fall of 2006 (full-time work and full-time school), and Joe’s aunt, a professor at the University of Virginia, told me to give my brain plenty of time to adjust to being back in the academic world. She was so right back then, and I’m applying the same concept to work and mommyhood now. Let. The Brain. Breathe. Ahhhhhhh.

I’ve been away from the blog for almost two weeks. Arrrrrrrgh. And no, it’s not that I envision you waiting with bated breath for the next post. It’s that selfishly, I want to look back on this in 10 years (if it still exists in some way shape or form, maybe archived on my hard drive in the garage?) and watch Noe grow up, week-by-week. That’d be so cool.

So, on to “the squirt,” as one of my dear co-workers calls her. It’s been a BIG couple of weeks. Lots happenin’ and lots to try and recall: first spoonfuls of rice cereal last week (wooooot!); becoming even more advanced in the Exersaucer (which we now call “the office” to steal from Mike and Stacy); rolling over both ways (front to back and back to front); first TWO teeth (yes, if Joe were reading this with you he’d tell you I’ve completely buried the lede!); and just hangin’ out and being SWEET in general.

About the teeth: I found the first one (her bottom front-right) Wednesday eve (May 20) while we were playing… Thursday morning (May 21), the second one (her bottom front-left) reared its cute little head. This does seem a little early to me in some respects, being she’s just 4 1/2 months old; however, she’s been showing strong signs of teething since 9 weeks. Whew! It’s good to know they’re finally on their way.

Speaking of getting on with it… here are pics from the last two weeks:

Hangin’ out with me at home on a non-work day last week


More R&R


Notice the drool – that means she’s totally relaxxxxxxxed ;-


First bites of rice cereal on May 14


At work in her “office”


She says, “Mom, quit bothering me while I’m trying to get my work done!”


“Woman, PUT THE CAMERA DOWN, or I’m never going to get these TPS reports done before naptime!”


And chillin’ at home with me on May 21



Noё’s Dunking Day May 10, 2009

Filed under: Family and Friends,Noë V,Weekend Revelry — JR-C @ 6:40 pm

I’m stealing today’s headline from Grammy Jill’s email. She was kind enough to take video of Noe’s baptism over the weekend via her cell phone (since the parents forgot our video camera on the kitchen counter…).  Long story short — our church does the full on naked dunking — and no, we’re not Baptist. We’re the Catholic Christensens. Noe handled it all like a champ. Good times!


So, catching up from last week: BBQ with the Saindon Family; My first days back at work; Grandma Betty’s first days as Noe’s care provider; Noe’s baptism; Mother’s Day… Whew! Enjoy the pics. More commentary when working mommy gets the hang of multi-tasking. 😉


Friday night BBQ: Me, Noe and Stacy


All five chicas: Stacy, me, Tess, Ruby and Noe


Daddy reading her FAVORITE book right now, “Gossie”


Can’t get enough of Gossie in her red boots!


A visit from Grandma and Grandpa R… This was extra special since Grandpa R. hand’t seen Noe since she was one day old, in the hospital!


Showing her range: Noe sitting up in her Bumbo Seat


… and performing in her Exersaucer!


Whew! Mommy’s first week back at work was EXHAUSTING!


We three Christensens at the baptismal font


Noe hamming it up at her baptism after-party…



A special shout out to all the women in my life who are like mothers to me: friends, mentors, support networks, pillars of strength, mommy-advice-sharers, friends from way back, mothers of my friends from way back (Mahnee and Marilyn!)… You know who you are. Too many to list here… I’m lucky enough to have an amazing mother, yet you women also rawk my world… THANK you for being you!


Getting back to the bacon May 6, 2009

Filed under: Die Arbeit — JR-C @ 8:35 am

Work, ahhhh… that lil’ thing.

Yep. I started back part time this week, working on a special project that will have me in the office three days a week. I feel so fortunate to have had four months of maternity leave and to continue on a partial-leave basis. My mom is our care provider for now (how damn lucky are we?), until I make some time to search for the right fit.

It’s good to be back, and I suppose it’s healthy for me to get out into the big, bad world again…  but I’m missing her like crazy, of course. Now I understand what Joe’s been going through these past three-plus  months!

I’ll try and post photos later this week… Happy (almost) Mother’s Day, all.


Finding Her Voice April 27, 2009

Filed under: Family and Friends,Noë V — JR-C @ 5:51 pm

Little Noe’s newest accomplishments are so numerous that I can barely keep up with her… I need to get the baby book updated before I forget these most recent baby milestones.

Let’s see:

  • She’s chattering nonstop and LOVES to hear herself “talk;”
  • She started “turning the pages” when we read her current favorite book, “Gossie,” about a little yellow gosling who wears red boots;
  • She’s rolling over every day – she also gets really fired up when she is “stuck” on her back;
  • Her hand control (and even fingers) is much more detailed. She’s able to tease herself with the pacifier, taking it in and out of her mouth (but she has no clue it’s SHE who’s doing it – ha!). She can hold more types of toys and teething rings;
  • She’s also sucking her thumb to soothe herself to sleep, which has been great in terms of being able to leave her alone when she loses the pacifier.

Joe and I have been cracking up all day about that little voice of hers… Today is the first day that she’s chattered almost the entire time she’s awake. And when he and I talk to each other, she jumps right in to try and join the conversation and make herself heard. Girl’s got spunk!!! I’m thankful it started to happen today, since Joe just flew home this morning from a recent work trip. Amazing how those things work out, isn’t it?

Enjoying a stroller ride in the neighborhood last week, when temps reached the 80s


The weather was toe-curling gooooooood!


A little R&R in the stroller is so nice


Noe’s version of “Smart Baby Tricks” – I went in to get her after a morning nap last week to find this…


Yep, here’s another view in case you’re as dumbfounded as I was! So silly how she just left it there and let me take pics.


Visiting Auntie Janelle (and Uncle Joel)


Meeting Uncle Alex for the first time


Chillin’ with Grandma O.


Wishing Great-Grandma a happy birthday



She’s Flippin’ Crazy… April 21, 2009

Filed under: Noë V — JR-C @ 5:48 pm

Noe’s on the moooooove now, flipping over from her tummy to her back. She mastered the skill — at least while an eye witness was watching — at 14 weeks. Joe spotted evidence of it Friday. Since then, I saw it happen Sunday and again today. We’ll try to catch video of it soon. Her technique is pretty cute to watch!

Last week made for some awesome stroller weather here in the 6-5-1. We were out for walks every day. It’s amazing to watch her take it all in: the blue sky, trees, wind, sunshine, the sound of birds chirping…  a poor little “winter baby” cooped up inside and finally able to discover the natural world. She can’t get enough of the outside world and I really can’t blame her.

We also hit up my new favorite place to take Noe, a local coffee shop called Java Train. Special thanks to Mike and Stacy for introducing us to this family friendly cafe not far from our house. We love the atmosphere and yummy scones, and Noe loves watching all the other kids. Each time we come home from that place, Joe and I talk about how relaxed we feel.

I have a bunch of pics to share from this past week. Regrettably, though, I forgot to snap pics of Noe with her babysitters from last Friday night, my brother Mike and sister-in-law Cindi. Darn! She’s a lucky little one to have them close by. I consider Auntie Cindi a true “baby expert” and an experienced mom I will call on FREQUENTLY for advice. Love you, woman!

The latest, greatest photo installment:

Playing with one of her favorites right now, “P.J. Bear.” She’s getting so good at holding things with her hands and moving them how she wants…


We’re on the go again… Noe says, “Where we headin’ this time, Mom?!”


At Java Train, where we met up with Mike, Tess and Ruby


Ruby (left) and Noe hanging at The Train


Ruby says, “PUH-lease, enough with the cameras already… We KNOW we’re cute!”


Yep, on the go another day… It’s colder out so we’re rockin’ the warm hat. Noe says, “What’cha lookin’ at?!”


A sight that made me SMILE BIG today… Finally packing up my maternity clothes and storing them in the basement. It took me long enough, but I’ve successfully reclaimed my closet from all stretchy-panel type clothing. Whew.