Month: November 2011

Tales from not-so-Down-Under

 - by Brittny

A couple weeks ago Eric got to go to Australia on business (lucky!) and left us at home in the cold.  If you want to read about his adventure he posted about it here on his personal website.  In the meantime we had some of our own adventures.  I’d had a lot that I was going to post but I can’t remember most of it anymore.  I think partly because I posted some of the pictures in another post and that eliminated a lot of my content.  But I still had a few things that I wanted to share.

So while Eric was gone I really wanted to get our house all cleaned up and back in order.  When Eric’s gone it’s a little bit easier to take on tasks like that because I’m not really cooking dinner all week.  Sam and I can happily eat grilled cheese sandwiches/quesadillas/mac & cheese or leftovers all week long which doesn’t quite present the array of dishes that cooking real meals does.  Not that Eric would be unwilling to eat such meals, I just don’t feel as much like I can justify myself as a housewife if I’m not preparing fairly decent meals.  Sam wouldn’t eat those meals anyways and it’s not worth the effort for myself.  Anyways, I digress (surprise).

One of the projects I really wanted to conquer was our tupperware cabinet.  It was completely out of control, you could never find the right lid to go with the containers and it only got worse as we didn’t want to deal with trying to find the “right’ place for things and more tupperwares just got shove din.  I really wanted to go through it and get it all organized but I kept telling myself that I really wasn’t allowed to take on a major organizing project like that until the rest of the house was fairly well cleaned.

On Tuesday we had one of my best friends over with her two little kids.  Her son Zeke and Sam get along really well and were having lots of fun.  Because there’s nothing breakable in my tupperware cabinet we haven’t put a lock on it to keep Sam out of it.  So at one point I guess Sam showed Zeke the wonders of this cabinet.  Next thing Stephanie and I knew, ALL of the tupperwares were out and ALL over the floor!  It was an epic mess, and the boys thought it was great.  Normally that might seem like a disaster, but really I was so glad that now I had an excuse to really go through and organize my tupperware cabinet!  I finally took out the random appliances that were in there and stored them in more logical locations.  Then took any of our cheap tupperware that I keep for taking dinners to people and hid it up in a higher cabinet.  The result has been miraculous.  That cabinet which was once a black hole now seems practically empty!  In fact, since then Sam has discovered that he fits very nicely in that cabinet and likes very much to go hide out in there from time to time!

I also feel like I have to give Stephanie some mad best friend props that day by doing my dishes for me.  I’d fallen behind on my dishes and I *hate* doing dishes.  That didn’t really fit into the story but I had to tell her once again THANK YOU!  It made a huge difference in me being able to keep up with the house that week.  Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you!

On Wednesday we had to run to the store to pick up some groceries as we were out of practically all of the essentials (bread, milk, cheese… when you’re living off grilled cheese sandwiches – as Sam generally does – you can’t go too long without those).  As we were getting ready to leave I decided to throw on a scarf.  Sam, naturally, decided that he *had* to have a scarf too, and mittens, and a coat.  It really wasn’t super cold outside but he was insistent that he have his full gear on.  He was SO cute I had to take a picture –

He was so proud of that scarf for the rest of the day and got comments on it at the grocery store and at Joy School.  What a cute kid!

I really can’t remember much of what happened the rest of that week.  Probably partly because I ended up having Daniel and Sam both sleeping in my bed with me every night while Eric was gone.  I think Sam was really thrown off by having Eric out of the house because since Eric came back he’s gone back to sleeping in his own room through the night.  We were very very glad to have Eric home again at the end of the week!  I’m glad that he got a chance to go see Australia (especially since my mom is from there, just fun to have that connection now) and very thankful that his job is going so well that it necessitates that kind of travel… but there’s nothing like having him home again.  We love him a lot and like having him home with us!

 

Poor Danna

 - by Brittny

If you’re anything like me then you come up with great ideas for presents to get your kids throughout the year but as soon as Christmas/birthdays roll around you come up blank and have to scramble for ideas.  So to combat this I started a running “wish list” for each of my boys so that I could keep track of things I think they would like.  I keep them on Amazon so that it’s just a quick click to add things to each of their lists.  Tonight as I was gearing up for Christmas shopping I took a quick peek at the wish lists I’d compiled for each of my boys.  Sam’s list had 106 items, while Daniel’s list had a mere 4 items.  Eric commented that according to Amazon I love Sam much more than I love Daniel.

So to make up for this apparent neglect of my sweet baby I decided it was time for a gratuitous Daniel update!  (Ok, so I’ve been meaning to write this post anyways, but this gave me a good excuse to get my rear in gear and do it)  So without further ado, here’s how our wonderful 7 month old baby is!

I took Daniel in for a doctor’s appointment at the end of October and got his new stats –

Weight – 15lbs 14oz – 20th percentile

Length – 26 1/4 inches – 25 percentile

Head Circumference – 17 inches – 25 percentile

So all in all he’s pretty even.  When I went in to the doctor I mentioned that he hadn’t been sleeping quite as well recently and that he’d had sorta goopey eyes, but not so much so that we’d been worried about it or anything, just noticed.  I had chalked it up to allergies or something minor.  As the doctor was checking him out she was like “Oh!  He has a very infected ear!”  No wonder he hadn’t been sleeping quite as well and had goopey eyes.  Now I have to explain that really the changes were VERY minor.  He hadn’t been fussy or anything, he’d still been a very happy baby.  I was SHOCKED to find out that he had an ear infection.  He’s such a low key mellow kid and such a change from what Samuel was like as a baby.  We’ve decided if that’s what he’s like with a pretty good ear infection we’re going to have to try to listen up closely for any minor complaints because they’re likely to be worth listening to!  Aside from the ear infection though he looked fabulous.

That really pretty well sums up what it’s been like to have Daniel in our family, he’s just a delight to have around.  He’s always happy and smiling, and very friendly.  I don’t think I’ve once taken him anywhere without him making friends with someone!

He’s starting to get some fun tricks.  He can army crawl all over the house pretty quickly, and he’s starting to pull himself up to standing a little bit.  He loves to “talk” and giggle to people.  He had been a really good sleeper up until about the time he got that ear infection.  Since then he’s stopped really wanting to sleep on his own, but he’s been teething so that has definitely hindered his progress on getting back in his own bed.  He now has his two bottom teeth, and he loves to use them to eat cheerios and crackers or whatever Sam has thrown on the floor.

Daniel also really loves the TV.  It’s so funny to see his face light up when the TV goes on.  We call him our little couch potato.  And yes, I know that I’m not supposed to let my baby watch TV, but if Sam’s watching SuperWHY I’m not likely to keep Daniel from watching too, especially when he gets so excited about it!  But his favorite thing to watch on the TV is himself.  Eric will sometimes hook his phone up to the TV and show the videos he has of Daniel.  Daniel thinks this is about as cool as things can get.  He will laugh and look at the TV like “Wow, what a clever and funny baby!  He’s so smart!  Have you guys seen what a cool guy he is?!”  It’s even better to watch Daniel watching videos of himself than it is to watch the videos themselves!

Unfortunately you don’t have Daniel to watch the videos with you, but you *can* watch the videos yourself and judge whether or not he really is as clever and wonderful as he thinks he is (I tend to agree with him, but as his mother, I am a little biased ;) )  Here are some of our recent Daniel photos and videos –


This one is his favorite to watch, the one that makes him think he’s so clever :)


A few weeks ago Daniel started sniffing things. I don’t know why but I find this hilarious, so I had to get video of it!


Eric was eating a sucker while holding Daniel, this is the result of that activity :)


In case you were wondering what happens when you give a pacifier to a teething child. You can see that he also thinks this is pretty clever :)

These two pictures were taken within a day of each other.  They illustrate the perils of having a two year old brother and mom turning her back for a minute –

Yes, those are maxi pads stuck to his head. Apparently we need to adjust the child lock on one of our bathroom cabinets...

... and yes, here his head is inside the cover of a DVD case. I know the picture is kinda blurry, my camera was giving me grief and Daniel was starting to get mad so this was as good as it gets.

Sometimes things happen which don’t involve his head…

Yup, what could be more fun than putting stickers all over your brother's back?

I think that’s all for now.  The upshot is, despite Sam’s wish list being longer than Daniel’s, we really do love this little kid a LOT.  One of these days I’m even going to get around to getting a good picture of him and adding him to our sidebar pictures so he looks like he’s part of our family… but don’t hold your breath, life’s pretty busy with these two munchkins around!

Friday Night Losers’ Club

 - by Brittny

So my family likes to joke about the “Friday Night Losers’ Club”.  Basically the idea is if you don’t get to be out doing something fun on a Friday night then you must be part of the Friday Night Losers’ club for that week.  It was something my parents heard about in a stake conference or something and we’ve adopted it as our thing.  Most weeks we aren’t out doing exciting things, but we still enjoy that time at the end of another work week together.

On Friday night Eric had the great idea that we could break free of our bonds from the Friday Night Losers’ Club and go get some take out food and get a Redbox movie for a fun family night. (Ok, so we weren’t venturing out too far, but it sounded like a fun plan to us) Sam had gone down for his nap late, so despite it being about 5pm he was still asleep.  But we decided on what we wanted to eat and a movie to rent and Eric went out to go get the food and movie.  Of course just after Eric left Sam woke up wondering where dad had gone and was really upset that he didn’t get to go with Eric on an “adventure”.  So I had to comfort him until Eric returned.  When Eric got back home he realized that he’d forgotten to pick up the movies, oops!  So we ate our dinner together and then Sam got his adventure after all to help Eric pick up the movies.  Sam was SO excited when he saw that the movie we had picked out was Rio (or as he called it – Angry Birds :) )  He talked about it the whole way home and couldn’t wait to start the movie.  We popped some popcorn and Sam stood in front of the TV mesmerized as soon as the movie started.  We were feeling like it was a success!

About halfway through the movie Sam started to cry.  After trying a few different things to appease him Sam said “it’s dark outside, I want to go to bed and be snuggled.”  We were rather stunned to have our 2 year old *ask* for bedtime!  We’d thought it would be a fun treat for him to stay up late and watch a movie instead!  But, we went up and did the whole bedtime routine (diaper change, go potty, pajamas, brush teeth, story, scriptures, prayers, snuggle etc) and sure enough, he went right to sleep.  Guess he’d rather be in the Friday Night Losers’ Club after all :P

Hansen Family Reunion 2011

 - by Eric

The Hansen Family, minus 2 nieces and 1 nephew

Well, this post has been a long time coming. Back in mid-June, our entire Hansen family got together for a family reunion up at Hidden Springs Ranch in northeastern Utah. We had a really fun time since nearly everyone was there. Only two nieces who had work and one nephew on a mission couldn’t make it. (Italics mean Eric, normal text is Brittny)

But because a good chunk of the family had to fly in from other places, we were able to have Tim and Ashley come and stay with us a couple of days before the official start of the reunion. We were really excited to have enough space that we could actually accommodate guests!  They came in on the Saturday night before Father’s Day and we were able to take them as well as Chris & Kristen (and all associated kids) to church with us the next day.

Since I’m the nursery leader in our ward (and Sam hadn’t yet gotten to a stage where he would let me leave nursery anyways) I got to go with Sam, and his cousins CJ and Kate to nursery.  It was fun watching them interact with each other and the other kids.  I kept looking at them and just thinking, “Whoa, you guys are definitely cut from the same bolt of cloth”.  I’m not sure what it was but it just kept striking me how much the three of them looked like Hansens.

After church we gathered back at our house for lunch.  I had offered to make something fun for Father’s Day breakfast and lunch, but the men had decided that what they really wanted was toaster strudels for breakfast and grilled cheese and applesauce for lunch.  Since it was their day and those were really easy requests to accommodate that’s exactly what we did :)  I also made up some tomato basil soup since it’s one of my very favorite things.  I think I made it up the day before so all I had to do was re-heat it after church, which was wise so that there wasn’t too much of a mess to clean up afterwards :)

Brittny’s being modest on the simplicity of the soup. It’s definitely more complicated than your usual heat up a can of soup type of recipe, and it’s AMAZING soup based on the Zupas recipe. The siblings were quite impressed with the concoction.

We were getting all of the family together at Eric’s sister Katrina’s house that evening and I’d been assigned to bring some cookies.  In my family the tradition for Father’s Day is to make peanut butter blossom cookies because they’re my dad’s favorite (peanut butter cookies with hershey’s kisses in the middle).  So, even though my dad didn’t get any I still felt like it was appropriate for me to make some in his honor.  I hadn’t realized this before starting, but I’d never made peanut butter blossom cookies on my own, and I hadn’t even been around home to make them with my mom in probably almost 8 years.  At one point I was really nervous that they weren’t going to turn out right, but luckily my sisters-in-law were there and able to say they looked ok :)

Again, she’s being modest :) I love peanut-butter cookies, especially the ones with the hugs in the center!

While we were waiting for it to be time to head up to Katrina’s the kids were getting a little bit energetic.  Chris made up different games for the kids to go find imaginary pets that Chris made up.  They were all different things, ducks, mice etc.  I don’t remember all of them, but one of them he called Ferbert.  The kids ran all over the house looking for Ferbert and calling to him.  I remember this now because Sam will still go around the house calling for Ferbert from time to time :)

We went up for dinner at Katrina’s and had a lot of fun just being with family and visiting with everyone who had just gotten in.  Of course, one of the best things was that we were able to be with Eric’s dad for Father’s Day, and what’s the point of Father’s Day but to be with our dads?  Unfortunately, we stayed pretty late and when we got back the boys had fallen asleep and it was too late for them to Skype with my dad :(  I felt really bad about that but we promised to Skype with him later that week and just pretend to have a second Father’s Day (luckily, my family is pretty flexible about observing holidays/birthdays when it’s convenient rather than being sticklers for celebrating on the particular day).

Monday was the start of the family reunion.  We spent the morning getting all packed up and ready to go.  Then, because we had some awesome coupons, we went to Smashburger with Tim & Ashley.  If you’ve never been to Smashburger, you’re missing out.  It has become one of our very favorite restaurants, and we’ve agreed that they have *the* best burgers that either of us have ever tasted.  Seriously.  Yum :)

A Smashburger

After Smashburger we went to Costco to pick up the things we’d need for our meal later in the week.  We were planning on making Cafe Rio-esque salads.  I’d decided that was a good meal that could be easily modified to accommodate whatever picky preferences that anyone might have.  If people wanted to make it into a salad, great.  They could have it with meat, or no meat, you could make it into a taco, kids could even just make a quesadilla.  I figured it would be easy and delicious.  We were teamed up with Tim & Ashley which we figured would make an easy team.  Unfortunately, since each of our families only had 4 members we weren’t real good at estimating cooking for the 50ish people that we were preparing food for.  To say that we over-prepared would be an understatement.  When all was said and done we had enough food to have that meal at least 2 more times (and we probably still would have had leftovers).  Oh well, it was a good meal and everyone really enjoyed it… but next time we’ll know to scale down considerably :)

Cafe Rio Salads

In case anyone is wondering how to do Cafe Rio salads on your own, we recommend starting with uncooked tortillas and cooking them according to directions.  Then we made this rice without the pineapple, something similar to these black beans, this pork,  and this salad dressing.  You just sort of pile all that stuff on top of your tortilla with some lettuce, tomato, guacamole, sour cream, cheese, and tortilla chips (or any combination of those ingredients that strikes your fancy) and dig in!  It’s one of our family’s favorite meals–although we haven’t made it since the reunion–we came back with so much leftover that we were eating it for at least a week straight!

Anyways, finding all our ingredients took a little longer than anticipated, but we were finally all ready to head out to the ranch.  Sam slept most of the way there, but Daniel wasn’t too thrilled to be in his carseat.  He didn’t like it when the sun would get in his eyes or when we’d turn.  It wasn’t too long of a drive but he wasn’t a very happy camper.  At one point Sam stretched his arms out to Daniel and beckoned to him while saying, “Oh, Danna Danna Danna… come here”.  Eric and I cracked up!  It was SO sweet of Sam to be looking out for his little brother like that, but hysterical to think what he might be expecting to happen.  Was his 2 month old brother just going to climb out of his carseat over to Sam to get snuggled?  What cute boys we have!  Since then Daniel’s most common nickname has been Danna :)

The first night was set aside for a mega- Family Home Evening with all 50 of us! We got together for a short lesson and then had a show & tell sort of activity with five minutes allocated to each family. Most of the acts consisted of kids performances from piano playing to singing to karate chopping. Our family showed them all up by having Sam do supersaults and count to ten in Chinese!

As things were starting to wind down Sam came up to me and said “Mommy, I’m tired. Should we go home? Should we put me in jammas?”  It was so sweet and so heartbreaking at the same time.  I knew being away from home was going to be rough since we’d been doing pretty well at getting into a routine at home.  I honored part of his request and took him upstairs and got him in pajamas.  We then snuggled for a little while until he was too excited about everything going on downstairs and I knew I could either battle him for over an hour to get him to go to sleep or let him come out and play.  I know that what I did was the “wrong” decision in letting him come out and play, but I didn’t want to spend the whole reunion fighting with Sam to go to sleep!  He didn’t go to bed until nearly midnight, which unfortunately didn’t translate into sleeping in the next morning.  Sleeping was a difficult thing for Sam during the whole reunion.  He was doing somewhat ok at home with sleeping on his own through the night, and going to bed at a reasonable-ish hour, and taking naps, but it was really tough with the rest of the routine being thrown off.  He alternated between taking long naps and no naps during the whole reunion.  The hardest part was just being in a new place.  He wasn’t very flexible at the time and so even just trying to go to sleep was tough with other things going on.  He would have freaked out completely if I’d just locked him in our room and I didn’t think it was worth it.  The whole experience definitely strengthened my resolve to get us on a good routine at home and have better routines in place before the next time a reunion comes around

As the evening passed, I decided I needed to maintain my position as the favorite Uncle in the family, so I broke out the Wii, Xbox360, and projector for all the kids (*myself included) to enjoy! It was a pretty fun way to round out the nights after all the louder and more physical activities couldn’t be played anymore. We also had plenty of board games and introduced the joys of Dominion to the rest of the Hansen clan. It quickly became the favorite game to play, and I highly recommend it as the rules are simple, yet the game can be customized for many different styles of play. It definitely keeps things more interesting than a game that sets up the same way each time. I much prefer a variable meta-game like Dominion, myself–it makes for great replay-ability.

Dominion Card Game

I joined the group that played Boggle a lot.  I find words fascinating.  I don’t think many people realize this, but despite being a computer programmer my major in college was actually Linguistics.  I think it’s so interesting to see language patterns and put together words.  Anyways, Boggle was right up my alley.  It’s especially fun to get to play with people who are out of my league in games like this, which most of the other people were.  It makes for a fun challenge.  One of the best parts about Boggle is that each round only lasts a few minutes, so if I was needed by Sam or Daniel I could easily skip a round or two without messing up the whole game.  I’m a board game nerd so this was definitely one of my favorite parts of the reunion

During the daytime, there were plenty of activities for all to choose from, but most were for those families who had kids above the age of eight. Some of the younger kids went horseback riding with parents, and the youngest kids enjoyed the swimming pool immensely during those hot summer days.

As for the older “kids”, I participated in three really cool activities that week. First, I went rock climbing at on a fake wall attached to the side of their activity barn. There were a lot of negative angles (the kind where you are hanging from the wall rather than leaning against it), and so I failed pretty miserably. My brother-in-law Rhett brought up his shotgun and a box of clay pigeons, and group of about six of us went out to the range. I was practiced enough and loaded the launcher but was inconsistent at loading it at first, causing the pigeons to go in different directions each time. My brother Tim didn’t appreciate that very much and decided to intentionally send the shots wild for me when it came to my turn to shoot. I went four for seven overall, which was one of the best scores, despite the wildly random trajectories of the clay pigeons.

 Eric Skeet Shooting

Last but not least, we got a whole group of the boys together to play some hardcore paintball in the woods. The arena was fairly heavily wooded. We tried a couple of games that had a hard time working out fair teams and playing situations given the ratio of adults to children. First we played team elimination with a river being the boundary between the two sides, but that didn’t work because the other team had the high ground. Next we tried capture the flag, but that just took forever because few people really wanted to move or go anywhere. We started being more creative with the games and found some really fun “game modes” like revolutionary war–where two teams line up facing each other in an open field, take a shot, take one step forward, take another shot, etc. The rest of the games were played out in the field because it forced players to move and take action rather than hide. We played assault where two people defended an upper position against everyone else, and the group finished up with a free-for-all round with no teams. I stayed with two nephews and played sniper to see who was the best shot at hitting various targets. All in all, the whole experience was extremely fun, but I got some pretty nasty ring bruises from all the places where I got hit.

So that just about raps up our time at the reunion. Lots of food, fun, and friendships deepened as we got to spend more time as a family together.