Category:andersons’

California Thanksgiving

 - by Brittny

Thanksgiving this year found us down in Southern California.  I can’t say it would have been my first choice to make the long trip while 34 weeks pregnant.  In fact, shortly after I found out I was pregnant I informed my mom not to expect us to come down for Thanksgiving… and definitely not for Christmas.  However, about a month before Thanksgiving, my little brother Jayson announced that he was getting sealed that weekend.  I was NOT going to miss that just because I was pregnant!  So we decided we’d suck it up and make the trek.

Since we had recently bought a new van we had enough room to accommodate our family as well as my sister’s family so that they could come as well.  It was also to my benefit at that stage in the pregnancy to have the more space that our van would afford over our Corolla.  My sister arranged to get off work on Monday at 3pm so that we could get on the road before too late.  That morning I was trying to get us all packed up and cleaned up but between a bad back and some pretty regular preterm contractions that I’d been having I was disinclined to push myself too far.  Eric of course had to get work finished before we could leave so he was in the office and wasn’t able to help me get things in order.  So I puttered around the house and got as much done as I could without either aggravating my back or inducing contractions.  Luckily Eric was able to come home early and help get things finished off. We ended up leaving a little later than we’d intended, but (if we’re honest) probably not much later than we expected.

We knew that even with the extra space in the van it would be a tight squeeze in a 7 passenger minivan with 4 adults and 3 kids.  I’d hoped that we could fit all three full sized carseats in the backseat, but we had no such luck.  We ended up putting Danny and Skylar (our 3 year old nephew) on the sides of the backseat in regular carseats and squished poor Sam in the middle of them with his booster seat.  Unfortunately we’d used the anchor system for the bigger carseats but there was only one anchor in the middle of the backseat so the bigger carseats sorta leaned in too.  Luckily Sam was a really good sport about it but I still felt bad for him, he definitely got the bum end of that deal.

The majority of the trip was relatively uneventful.  Each of the boys sat in the back with headphones and a tablet and the adults rotated between listening to different programs together, or separately as couples or on our own with headphones.  That is until we were about 2 hours out from our destination, when our nephew Skylar puked all over himself.  So we pulled off to the side of the road and tried to clean things up as best we could without any supplies at 1am.  Then we drove a little further, negotiated for a Subway plastic sack for him to throw up in and inched our way back to Thousand Oaks.  It was a pretty miserable way to finish off the drive.  I was less tolerant of the situation than I would normally be as my gag reflex during the pregnancy was far below what it is normally.  In the end we did make it back to my parents’ house alright and were glad to be there.

Skylar was sick for the next day but then seemed to get better.  We spent the next couple days lounging around at my parents’ house (a kid’s paradise), going to the beach and making Thanksgiving preparations.  Thursday was (of course) Thanksgiving, and the day was well spent preparing and eating food and counting our blessings.  I don’t think there’s anything in this world that can make me feel as grateful as just being with family.  I feel truly blessed to have the most wonderful family on all sides – older generations, younger generations, through blood and through marriage.  I can’t think of anything in this world I could want more than to get to be around them.

On Friday we were very busy making all of the wedding preparations.  My brother and his wife had eloped and we didn’t get to celebrate their marriage at the time so my parents planned a reception for them following the sealing ceremony on Saturday.  Jayson has always been a bit of a picky eater so coming up with something fun to eat at the reception that still bore his seal of approval was a bit of a trick.  They settled on Chinese food, which was pretty fun.  My mom tried to make most of it herself to save on the cost, so Friday found us cooking up lots of rice and chicken and going to several stores for different ingredients.

Saturday morning came and we got everyone ready to go down to the temple without too much incident, except that Kyle was sick and couldn’t come with us to the temple.  Luckily, he’s not old enough to attend the sealing anyways, but we were all a little bummed that he couldn’t be there.  He’s been fighting with some pretty intense health problems recently  so we all assumed that his pre-existing problems were acting up again and didn’t think much of it.

On the drive to the temple Danny was a bit of a pickle.  We were almost to the temple when we heard him dump out an entire bag of dried apples in the backseat.  Not just a little sandwich baggie, but a big gallon sized bag of apples that Taylor had dehydrated herself.  Luckily we’d already eaten the better part of the apples, but we were still rather upset with Danny for dumping them out.  So we demanded an apology from Danny.  After refusing a few times he said, “Well, I not am sorry.  I not will say sorry.” in a tone that was so matter-of-fact that we had a hard time not busting a gut laughing.  What a punk!  We threatened all kinds of different things, but his response was the same, “I not am sorry.  I not will say sorry.”  That kid is hysterical, and he’s going to be the death of me :P

The sealing itself was just beautiful.  I don’t remember all the things that the sealer told Jayson & Ashley, but I remember the feeling that was there.  There was a certain feeling of elation at finally getting to be there and having this ceremony performed for them.  I think everyone in the room felt like they had been a part of that journey in some sense or another and we all felt like we – not just they – had made it to the finish line.  Of course this wasn’t at all the end, it’s the mark of a beginning, but I think we were all grateful to have been a part of the journey that got them to this point.

After the sealing we went outside to wait for Jayson and Ashley to come out.  Just ahead of them was a couple who had also scheduled their sealing for that day.  However, they’d gotten the wrong license from the state and weren’t able to be married that day!  Their family had all come in from Mexico and around the country for their wedding, only to find out they had the wrong paper work and couldn’t be married that day at all.  Isn’t that about the saddest thing you’ve ever heard of?!  Apparently there are a few different kinds of marriage licenses that the State of California will issue, and one is more of a license to co-habitate, but not to be married (I don’t understand it either), and that was the license that they had gotten.  So they took all their pictures, and were going to go have their reception that night… but they wouldn’t be able to be married until Monday when the county offices opened up again and they could get the right paperwork.  They still all looked so happy and I think they were having a good attitude about the whole thing, but my heart broke for them.  Luckily the temple president said that they would open up the temple especially for this couple on Monday so they could be sealed (temples are closed on Mondays).  I still can’t get over that situation.  Can you imagine showing up for your wedding and being told you couldn’t get married that day because of a clerical error?!!  I would have been devastated.

Anyways, after Jayson and Ashley came out we did some pictures.  The photographers had a hay day following around Sam, Skylar and Danny.  They looked so cute in their little suits walking around like little men.

Picture credit: Erik Hokom Photography

There’s something about Danny’s stance in this next picture that I find just hilarious. It reminds me so much of Eric’s dad, I’m not exactly sure why, but it *really* does.

Just in case you looked at that last picture and thought, “Oh Brittny, you big baby, you weren’t really all that pregnant, quit whining.” Uhm, no really, here I am sideways. I really was THAT pregnant :P

After pictures we had to race back home so that we could get all of the food ready.  My parents had to stop Diddy Riese for the cookies and ice cream for the reception (they opted to make ice cream sandwiches with legit cookies and ice cream rather than having cake) but Eric and I went back to the house to start making LOTS of fried rice.  When my dad got home he immediately went up to his room and laid down dead.  He was starting to feel sick just like Kyle had been that morning.  My mom wasn’t feeling too great either but had to press on to get all the preparations done.  I was sent out to a Chinese restaurant in Newbury Park for some of the food and lost my phone on the way, making me late.  But in the end we all made it to the church with all the food and the reception was lovely.

Towards the end of the reception Cody made a quick exit and made it as far as mostly through the Relief Society room before he lost his cookies.  We sent him home to get changed and go to bed and the reception wound up pretty quickly shortly thereafter.  That night my mom, dad, Kyle, Cody, Ryan, Taylor and Ashley all came down with the stomach bug.  We think it’s the same bug that Skylar had at the beginning of the week.  Not exactly the perfect ending to the perfect day :P

We had planned to leave for Utah the next morning, but with Taylor and Ryan so sick we went back and forth on leaving.  Plus, with the rest of the family so sick, we were sure that our little family wasn’t going to be immune to it for long.  The *last* thing we wanted was to get 3 hours down the road and all fall ill and be too far to turn back but still with the prospect of 7 more hours in a car.  We hemmed and hawed for awhile – at one point we decided we’d stay until Wednesday – and finally we decided to just bite the bullet and go.  We left Taylor and Skylar behind as Taylor was too sick to travel and could come back to Utah with my dad later in the week, but we took Ryan with us as he was on the tail end of the bug and needed to be back in Utah the next day for classes.

The first couple hours of that drive were agony.  We felt certain that we were at any minute going to be sick.  I had an especially scary time of it since there’s a lot of movement near your digestive tract while being pregnant.  Every time Maeli would kick me I would think, “uh oh, this is it, I’m coming down with the plague.”  We made it all the way to Baker when Danny threw up ALL over.  We were able to pull over and clean everything up but it was pretty nasty.  With my weakened stomach from pregnancy, and Ryan’s weakened stomach from the bug we were in bad shape.  We cleaned up as best as we could, bought an air freshener and a pack of dryer sheets and soldiered on.

Surprisingly, we made it all the way back home without anyone else getting sick.  And I think poor Danny might have just been a little bit carsick and was very upset that we deprived him of food for the rest of our journey (but can you blame us?).  We’ve chalked our good fortune up to our family’s daily regimen of Emergen-C, we’ve hardly been sick this winter (knock on wood) while we spent almost the entirety of last winter being sick.  It might just be the placebo effect, but even if it is, we’ll happily take placebo effect over being sick!

So, that was our exciting Thanksgiving adventure.   We were definitely thankful to be a part of the whole experience, and especially thankful to have escaped the stomach bug!

We are a Happy Family!

 - by Brittny

When Eric and I were engaged all of his Chinese friends would tell him that we had “couple face”.  Apparently there’s some phrase in Chinese which roughly translates to “couple face” that means that you and your spouse/fiance/significant other look alike, like you belong together, and you look like a couple.  It became a family joke and it’s been fun finding other couples who have “couple face”.  Well I started using Picasa to organize the pictures on my computer, and one of the cool features is that it will find faces and have you tag them.  It also will start to guess who different faces are based on previous pictures you’ve tagged.  I took this screenshot of one set of guesses –

In case you can’t tell, the people in the pictures are just me and Eric.  Picasa tagged me as Samuel, Eric as me, me as my sister’s husband Ryan, and Eric as himself.  This was just one sample.  As I went through it was tagging Eric’s family members as members of my Dad’s family and all kinds of silliness.  I did feel a little bit vindicated that it tagged Eric as his older brother Tim multiple times, but not once did it get me mixed up with my mother.  For those of you who don’t know,  my mom and I look A LOT alike, and I think Eric and his brother Tim look a lot alike as well.  You can be the judge –

My mom and me on my wedding day

Eric and Tim, also on our wedding day (sorry Tim, it's the only picture I have of the two of you together)

On our wedding day I saw Tim holding his little girl and was very confused that Eric had changed out of his tux and into another suit.  I came within seconds of going up to, who I thought was Eric, and asking him why he’d changed his clothes! Luckily I noticed my mistake just before actually approaching Tim.  I just wasn’t used to there being multiple Eric-looking people around!

Eric has mistaken my mom for me on multiple occasions.  The most notable was Christmas of 2008 when we were at home with my family.  At the time I was 7 months pregnant with Samuel.  My mom and I were standing together leaning over the island in their kitchen when Eric comes up from behind and starts stroking my mom’s arm.  Just as my mom turns to find out what’s going on I lean over so he can see my face and say, “uhm, honey?”  Eric had quite a start at that point and my family likes to tease him about it.

Eric’s not the only one who has mixed us up though.  When I was in high school one night at dinner my dad came over behind my chair and started playing with my hair.  That wasn’t really weird, until I turned around and my dad said “Ack!  You’re not Kerry!”  Suddenly it was a lot weirder to have had my dad being that affectionate with me :P

However, the strangest moment was during my freshman year in college.  I had gotten all dressed up for some pictures and was heading out the door when I caught a quick glimpse of myself in the mirror.  I suddenly turned around and said, “Mom?!”  It was so weird to have confused myself with a mom, especially since my mom was over 500 miles away at the time!

So…”couple face”!  It would seem that we have some of that within our family.  And next time someone asks who Sam looks more like, I guess the answer would be me!

“Taylor”-made Crafts

 - by Brittny

When I was about 11 my mom taught my sister and I to crochet.  For a few weeks we made lots of “garlands” (long chains of chain stitched yarn) before learning a stitch pattern to make blankets and other things.  I’m still working on that first blanket that I started 15 years ago.  My sister, on the other hand, took off running with the idea and has become really good at crocheting!  In the meantime she has made more baby blankets than I could ever count, and branched out to scarves, ornaments, stockings etc.!  She’s pretty good at just deciding what she wants to make and then coming up with a way to make it.  Case in point, on Saturday she was up here with her whole stock of goods.  The next morning I noticed that she had posted online some headbands which I’d never seen her make before.  She’d decided she wanted to make something new and just went for it.  She already had 3 or 4 that she’d made in less than 24 hours!

If you haven’t finished your Christmas shopping yet I recommend checking out her website (yes I made it, but it’s not my best work, it was what I could put together in a Saturday afternoon while watching kids – don’t judge me!)  Her Christmas ornaments and stockings would make really fun and unique gifts, and her scarves are really soft and look great too!

Also, right now she’s hosting a giveaway on her blog.  You definitely want to get in on this since there are only 6 entries as I write this, and the winner gets $50 of her merchandise for free!  You wouldn’t get the prize in time for Christmas, but you’d be ready for next Christmas, or you could have her crochet you something custom-made!  Anyways, check it out, the giveaway ends on Dec 23rd!

Thanksgiving 2010

 - by Brittny

I started this post just after Thanksgiving while it was all fresh in my head, and I’m not sure why it never got completed before now, I was only about 4 sentences from finishing.   Oh well, here’s our Thanksgiving post.

Every year we try to swap which family we’re with for Thanksgiving and Christmas.  So one year we’ll do Thanksgiving with the Hansens and Christmas with the Andersons, and then the next year we switch.  The Christmas we were engaged Eric came out to California to meet my family, so the next year we decided it was only fair that we went out to Indiana to spend Christmas with his family.  We figured this was the best way to keep it from seeming like we were playing favorites with one family or the other.  What was interesting to me was how surprised people were when I told them we were going to spend our first Christmas with Eric’s family rather than mine.  Apparently most girls will demand to spend Christmas with their own family, which seemed like such a strange concept to me that I never considered it.  Each of our families is very important to us, so why would we want to leave one of them out?  But I digress.

So, this year was supposed to be a Hansen year for Thanksgiving and an Anderson year for Christmas.  We were making plans accordingly when my mom told me they were thinking about coming up to Utah for Thanksgiving.  I was excited that they’d be coming up… but it was a Hansen year for Thanksgiving.  Even though we live with Eric’s parents I still wanted to make sure we were being fair with everyone, so I told my mom that we’d obviously try to see them as much as possible while they were here, but this year we were sorta committed to spending Thanksgiving with the Hansens.  When I told Dad Hansen about this predicament he told me that he and Mom Hansen were going to be in Illinois over Thanksgiving watching Eric’s brother’s kids anyways.  That made things very easy, we just switched which holiday we were doing with which family this year and everyone was happy!  In fact, it even worked out better because with our house closing at the end of December it was going to be stressful trying to travel back and forth to California at the same time.

My family was planning to drive up here on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving.  So a few days before my family was planning on coming up my mom starts noticing that the weather patterns aren’t looking especially conducive to traveling (for those of you who don’t know, my mom is a meteorologist).  The closer they got to leaving, the worse the weather looked.  In fact, from the way the storm looked it was set up to possibly create one of the biggest snowstorms Utah had seen in a very long time.  In fact, I looked at the weather maps as well (as much as I can understand them) and encouraged Eric to come home from work as early as possible on Tuesday and try to reschedule his meetings so he could work from home on Wednesday.  I also stocked up the 72 hour kit in our car and sent Eric with a sleeping bag, pillow and our Kindle, just in case.

As the time for my family to leave came close they decided they ought to just wait the storm out in sunny California and see what the damage was after the storm had passed.  I was very relieved to know that they weren’t going to be driving in that storm and just focused on waiting for Eric to get home safe and sound.

The original predictions for when the storm would hit were pushed back a couple of hours so Eric stayed a little bit later at the office to really finish off his work for the day before coming home.  That, of course, made me nervous but eventually he did make it home safe and sound before the snow started to fall.  Then we hunkered down to watch “Snowpocalypse”.  After a little while the snow started to fall.  I opened up the blinds in the front room so Sam could watch the snow falling, and he thought it was pretty awesome.  We went about doing the things we had intended that evening while keeping an eye on this storm.  Then, after a couple hours, the snow stopped.  We thought we were just in a break in the storm, but it never picked back up again.  That was it, “Snowpocalypse” was over.

We did get a fair amount of snow and it definitely wouldn’t have been good to be out on the roads while the snow was falling and until the roads were cleared off.  But it definitely wasn’t the epic storm it was supposed to be.  However, I still don’t feel dumb for making the preparations that we did or that my family waited to come up.  Especially if you look at what that storm did further north, there was every reason to think it was going to be pretty bad here in Utah as well.  I’m glad that we didn’t have the massive storm that was predicted, but I’m also glad that we were prepared in case we did.

Anyways, my family finally came up on Wednesday.  They drove all day long and luckily by the time they hit Utah the roads had been pretty well cleared so they made it to Provo without incident.  They had to stop in Provo so that my little brother Cody could go on a “polyga-date” with a couple of the girls he’d met at EFY and then they made it up to my in-laws place where we’re staying now.  We ate dinner together and then quickly packed up to go to my grandparents house in Logan. We arrived in Logan pretty late.  By the time we got there it was time to put on pajamas and hop into bed.

Thanksgiving morning was spent preparing food and just spending time with family.  Sam was really excited about the snow and wanted to go outside with the bigger kids.  Unfortunately, despite my Uncle Paul giving us a snowsuit for Sam just a few weeks before I had neglected to bring it with us up to Logan.  I had been operating on the philosophy that it was way too cold to go outside (it was only 2 degrees!) and had forgotten that little boys might feel otherwise.  So after much begging I found the closest thing to snow clothes that we had for Sam – his pajamas, warm coat (but not waterproof), and sneakers.  Then we borrowed a beanie and gloves that were way too big for Sam and sent him out.

Luckily my brother Cody was willing to take Sam out so that I didn’t have to brave the cold. But he was so cute and happy out there I eventually found some makeshift snow gear of my own and took a few pictures –

Evidently Sam enjoys the snow.  In fact, it’s all he’s been talking about ever since we started getting snow here.  He will pull me to the window a few times a day and say “Look! Snow!” It’s a good thing because we’re going to be living where we’ll get a lot of it.  You probably can’t see in the picture, but towards the end Sam took off one of his gloves.  He was mad that he couldn’t touch the snow so he got the glove off and touched the snow.  That was all fine and dandy, until we got him inside.  The cold hadn’t bothered him so much, but warming that hand back up really did.  Poor kid, it wasn’t anywhere near frostbitten or anything like that, but when you don’t know that the pain is going to stop and your hand will feel warm again it’s pretty scary to go through that.  We’ll have to do a better job of securing his gloves in the future.

After all the fun in the snow it was time for the delicious Thanksgiving meal.  My grandma had opted to do the whole meal on paper plates this year, which I think was absolutely brilliant!  Why have dishes for 30 people when you can just throw it away and be done?!  The food was delicious and it was fun to be with family to enjoy it.  Sam didn’t eat too much but he enjoyed some of the rolls and corn, not exactly a Thanksgiving feast on his part, but he was happy so who cares?

After we cleaned up the meal we played games and watched TV.  I laid down on the couch to just rest for a few minutes… and woke up three hours later.  Oops!  Apparently I needed some sleep.  It wasn’t even a quiet place to sleep, I was right in the middle of where people were playing games and doing stuff.  The boys set up a Mario Kart Wii tournament in the evening.  Eric came in second despite wearing his lucky Mario Kart t-shirt.

After a few more games it was time for us to head back to South Jordan.  My brother Jayson had a flight to catch the next morning and we decided it would make the most sense for Eric and I to just take him home with us and then take him to the airport the next morning.  Particularly because Sears was having an incredible Black Friday deal on a washer and dryer set that we actually thought it might be worthwhile to wake up early for, even though we hadn’t gotten back until after midnight.  We since there was no way we were taking Sam Black Friday shopping we would divide and conquer.  Eric would wake up at 3:30am to be at Sears to try and get the washer and dryer and I would sleep with Sam and get Jayson to the airport by 9am.  We had the deal that Eric was allowed to sleep through as much of the rest of the day as he deemed necessary in return for braving the Black Friday crowds.

Well, we didn’t get the washer and dryer that was ridiculously priced, but Eric still managed to get the very best deal I’ve seen on a steam washer and dryer.  In the end I’m happier that we didn’t get the “doorbuster” set because it didn’t really have the features I wanted, it was just at a price that we couldn’t pass up.  The set that Eric got us instead are way better and he still saved over $1000, so a successful day overall.

On Friday my parents came back down to South Jordan and my sister Taylor and her husband Ryan and son Skylar returned from their Thanksgiving in New York.  Since Mom & Dad Hansen were out of town they had graciously offered that everyone could stay at their house, so the whole family stayed here and played games that night.  We also did our traditional Chinese meal that Eric puts together whenever my family is in town (it’s by special request now, he does a great job).  We made fried rice, dan bings and potstickers – yum!  The food was great and we had a great time together.  It was really fun just being our own family for a little while and enjoying each others company.

On Saturday we got to take my family up to our new house and finally get to show them how it’s coming along and where it is.  It was fun to finally be able to show them physically what we’ve been describing to them for awhile.  Then we continued on to Provo to watch the BYU vs U of U game.  For those of you who may not know, there is a HUGE rivalry between the two schools, and that rivalry is extended into my family.  Eric and I obviously both graduated from BYU, Taylor & Ryan are currently students there, and Cody is working on getting ready to apply to BYU to attend in 2012.  On the other hand my parents met at the U of U and are die hard fans (well, at least my dad is die hard, my mom is definitely a fan, but probably not as adamantly so).  So we all gathered with Brick Oven Pizza for what was sure to be an exciting game.

It really was an exciting game, it came down to the last few seconds of the game, and the U of U won despite not having scored a single point in the first 3 quarters of the game.  It was fun to watch even in light of the disappointing ending.  Afterwards the girls went to a bridal shower for a good family friend and the boys went to the gym to play raquetball.  The quote of the evening came from my brother Kyle who, when my dad asked him how he liked the biggest Gold’s Gym, he replied – “They had the buffest midget ever!”  Apparently Eric and Ryan knew exactly who he was talking about, but it was still a pretty unexpected response.

On Sunday Taylor and Ryan had their baby blessing for Skylar.  We had a fun luncheon at the Lockwoods apartment before church (their church doesn’t start until 1:30pm).  Taylor and my mom made some yummy soups and bread, and Mom Hansen was able to rescue dessert by having left a frozen cheesecake that she had asked us to eat while she was gone.  The blessing was a great event to be able to participate in.  It was really neat to see this little baby who had struggled to get into this world, now receiving his baby blessing and you wouldn’t have known he had ever had those struggles.

There was (of course) another huge snowstorm coming in that afternoon so my family was anxious to get on the road before it hit too badly.  They had a pretty treacherous journey back and we kept getting text messages like “Almost through filmore.  We definitely won’t be doing this trip in any record time, a few minutes ago the truck we were following did a 360 and slid off the road.  Why do you guys live in Utah?” and “By the way we keep seeing 4 wheel drives off the road” and finally “We are to Vegas and we are still finding chunks of ice that have fallen off cars”.  They did make it home safely and we got back to normal life.

We are so thankful at this time of year for wonderful friends and family.  We’re thankful also for the gospel that gives our lives so much meaning.  And we’re thankful for the many rich blessings that our family has been afforded with.  We couldn’t ask for more :)

California Trip!

 - by Brittny

I know, I know I still owe posts about Christmas and our new house.  But I was just cleaning off the pictures from my phone and wanted to get these pictures posted while I still remembered what they were.  I promise pictures of the new house will be coming soon!

A couple weeks ago Eric was getting ready to go on a business trip to Los Angeles.  I was of course jealous because he’d get to go see my family while he was there while I’d be stuck in the snow by myself.  So on Sunday before he left we were Skyping with my family and my parents offered to use some of their frequent flier miles to fly Sam and I up with Eric for the week!  We didn’t really have a good reason not to, so we booked the tickets on Monday and we flew out Tuesday night.

It was so fun to get to spend some time with my family that week.  We didn’t really do anything earth-shatteringly awesome, but it was fun spending time with them. I think it was an especially nice break for me.  This pregnancy has been more rough on my body than Sam’s was.  I think mainly because it takes a LOT more energy, time and strength to be a mom of a toddler than it did to work 40 hours a week – commute and housework included!  With our move I’d pushed myself a little too far with running things up and downstairs and lifting things I shouldn’t have and I’d developed what I think were shin splints.  At any rate I was having a very difficult time getting down to the floor without serious pain in my shins.  Just having a week where I couldn’t do anymore unpacking and there were many anxious hands to help care for Sam got me back to ready to face the rest of settling into our house. (I feel like this sounds bratty and spoiled, but I definitely feel like I was spoiled for a week so I guess that’s ok).

Our trip wasn’t full of lots of exciting activities, mostly attending high school basketball games, swimming, being outdoors and playing a lot of Dominion.  But it was fun spending the time with family.  I think the most interesting thing to see was just the change in Sam from when were in California a year ago and now.  When we were out last year Sam would hardly have anything to do with most of my family.  He is a very clingy child and has had a lot of separation anxiety.  But now he quite happily will tag along with any of my brothers or my parents and is very excited to see them.

As you can see we didn’t even make it out of our pajamas a good portion of the time.  This is Sam with his Uncle Cody playing at a common area at the end of my parents street.  I don’t think Sam much minded that they were still in their PJs, he was just stoked that Cody was paying attention to him and that he was playing outside.

On Monday before we left we went to the beach.  Not surprisingly, Sam *loved* it!

Sam leading Cody around at the beach

Sam stole my mom’s Australian hat and was having fun digging in the sand with a huge shovel :)

A better look at Sam in my mom’s hat.  I love this shirt, it says “I do all my own stunts” which I think is brilliant for a toddler.  He most certainly does a lot of stunts, and they are all his own.  I was really excited when I found this shirt in a bag of hand-me-downs and had a hard time waiting until he was old enough to wear it!

Sam also got to boogie board down the sand dune.  He’d lay on the boogie board and Cody would pull him up and down the sand dune.  Sam thought that was pretty darn cool, as you can tell from the smile on his face (sorry these weren’t the best pictures, it was really bright that day and the only camera I had was my phone.  I couldn’t see the screen because it was so bright so I just had to aim my phone in the direction of what I wanted a picture of and hope that it turned out ok).

After the beach we headed home to get packed up to go back to Utah.  After getting all packed up and through rush hour traffic, we discovered that our flight had been delayed by two hours.  So we called my parents and they took us over to the LA temple to go walk around for a little bit.  Sam *loves* the temple, but my mom didn’t believe me that he’d probably recognize it when we drove up to it (since he’s never been to the LA temple before).  Sure enough, as we pulled around and showed him the building he said “temple!”  It was fun walking around the grounds and the visitor’s center with him.  I got one picture that I thought was priceless –

When we finally got home it was super late and we had early morning dentist appointments the next day.  Tuesday was somewhat of a blur.  You can tell though that even by Wednesday Sam was in denial that we were in Utah (where it was snowing outside) and no longer in sunny California…

Sorry dude, board shorts and a t-shirt won’t exactly cut it in Utah in December.  Thanks again to my family for bringing us out and letting us play for a week!  It was a great break from unpacking and we had SO much fun seeing everyone and enjoying the sunshine for awhile :)

Boxing Day and beyond

 - by Brittny

For those of you without British heritage you might be wondering what Boxing Day is. Simply put, it’s a public holiday in most countries that are currently or used to be under British rule, as well as several other predominantly Christian nations. It’s an excuse to have the day after Christmas off from work :) There are several theories for how the holiday got its name but none have been confirmed.

Anyways, our boxing day was spent mostly up at my grandparents. Eric hadn’t yet had a chance to go skiing this season so he took the opportunity to go up to Beaver Mountain with my grandpa. Logan hasn’t gotten much snow this season so the skiing was a little rough but they had a lot of fun. Luckily they were just up there for a half day so Eric didn’t even come back super sore like he usually does!

Sam and I slept in as much as we could that morning. When we got up we went upstairs to find my cousin Todd watching Lifetime television with my grandma. It was kinda funny to see :) Sam discovered a new snack that my grandma had leftover from when my cousins were his age. It’s this puffy, fruity cereal, and he LOVED it. He is still working on the canister that my grandma sent home with us.

Once Eric got back we quickly washed us all up to head back to Salt Lake City for a family dinner at Eric’s parents apartment. Eric was especially excited because it was time for another Hansen Family Christmas tradition – gingerbread houses! Sam enjoyed this tradition too because he got a hold of one of our roof pieces…

… and discovered he really likes gingerbread! Of course this meant that we were one piece short for making our gingerbread house, but I’ll have to have Eric post the video of what he ended up doing with our gingerbread house with that shortage.

After gingerbread houses we headed back up to Logan. We stayed up for awhile as I had some work to finish for a client (I’d been meaning to finish it earlier the previous week but I kept getting busy with Christmas preparations). So Sam and Eric were watching Top Gear with Todd. Sam wasn’t exactly being a model child and since Eric had seen how well Sam reacted to cookies earlier in the day…

… Sam was allowed another cookie.  Quite the mess, but also a very happy Sam. Todd’s friend Josh came up to Logan that night as well and the guys had fun watching more manly shows before bed.

Sunday was exactly what it was supposed to be – a day of rest! We went to church in the morning and then were able to spend the rest of the afternoon just hanging out with family and napping.

Unfortunately Sam didn’t take very well to being away from home so the whole trip was pretty rough for him but it was still nice to be away from home and with family during the holidays. Sunday night was probably the roughest night with Sam.

On Monday morning Eric was getting ready to go skiing and asked if it would be better if he just stayed with Sam and me so that I could have a bit of a break. While I really appreciated his offer I knew he was really looking forward to skiing, and that Sam and I could just take most of the morning to get the sleep we needed. So that’s what we did, and Eric got to go skiing again.

It worked out well, Sam and I helped my Grandma put away some of her Christmas decorations (and by help, I mean that I talked to her and tried to keep Sam distracted from throwing the decorations around). Eric had another fun day of skiing. I’m really glad he got to go because he loves skiing and doesn’t get to go as often as he would like. It was a good day just being with family.

Tuesday was our last day at my grandparents. We slept in and then packed ourselves up to go to Idaho for our niece’s wedding. It was so nice to get to spend time with my grandparents and just doing something different during our Christmas break than sitting at home.

Stay tuned for my next post about our niece’s wedding.

Active Andersons: Part 5 – The Rest of the Trip

 - by Brittny

On Friday, I got to meet up with some of my high school friends for lunch. It was fun to get to catch up with them and see where everyone’s lives have taken them. It’s always interesting to see how much things do and don’t change over the years. Life has taken us all in different directions, but we’re still essentially the same people that we were in high school.

In the evening the guys decided to have a “boy fest”. Originally the girls were going to go out and the boys were going to stay home and play basketball and Wii, but we girls didn’t end up leaving. So the boys still played their basketball and Wii but then we all spent time together playing Bang! and Ticket to Ride (and playing Ticket to Ride online). I think some of my very favorite times are just sitting around the table playing board games with my family. We got to do a lot of that this trip, and I think it will be a while before any of us (except for maybe Cody) will want to play Bang! again.

Saturday ended up being a very busy day. We got up early so that my parents, Ryan, Eric and I could go to the temple, and by early I mean we got up at 5am so that we could be to the temple by 6:30am. I was definitely NOT a fan of getting up that early but it was awesome to get to go to the temple with my family. We came home and took a much needed nap afterwards. That afternoon we went to the beach and took family pictures. I’d post them here, but that’ll have to be another time since we haven’t gotten them back yet from Tami Bowerbank – the photographer. They should turn out really fun though so we’ll definitely post them when we get them.

After family pictures I got to take Eric to geek heaven – Fry’s Electronics. If you are not a nerd or have never been to Fry’s you won’t fully appreciate what an amazing place it is in nerd-dom. It has EVERYTHING that tech nerds could possibly ever want. Computer parts, audio systems, DVDs, books on computer languages, hi-tech appliances, games etc. If a nerd wants it, they can find it at Fry’s. Eric had never been to a Fry’s before since there isn’t one in Utah and the closest one to his hometown in Indiana is about 4 hours away. It was fun to get to take him around and see everything. We were there to get some miscellaneous parts for a computer that we were building for Taylor and Ryan (we’d been able to scrounge up just about everything except for RAM, a case, a power supply and a processor). It was a fun project for Eric to get to put it together and a great Christmas present for Taylor and Ryan. We got the money for the extra parts from selling off pieces of Taylor’s broken laptop. While we were at Fry’s Eric also found a ridiculous deal on RAM for our desktop… so we now have 6GB of RAM in our desktop :P Eric spent the rest of the evening setting up their computer, and they ended up with a pretty sweet system, especially considering they were getting it for free. Once again we confirmed why we are NOT Mac people, you could never build a pretty decent computer for practically nothing and have it be a Mac. Yay for PCs :)

Sunday we went to church and then spent the rest of the day with the family at home. Monday we drove back to Utah and now we’re just settling back into our regular routines. It was a really fun trip, and nice to be able to spend time with family, especially at this time of year. Thanks Mom & Dad for having us!

Active Andersons: Part 4 – The Biggest Hit of Christmas

 - by Brittny

Probably the biggest hit from Christmas however was the game that I bought Eric, and my parents also bought my brothers — Raving Rabbids 3: TV Party. For those of you who have never played a Raving Rabbids game… you’re missing out. They have become some of our very favorite games to play. They’re mostly party style games meaning lots of people can play and enjoy them, and they have simple rules. This newest rendition has some games that use the Wii Fit (you play it with your butt!) so we were extra keen to get it since we’ve been enjoying our Wii Fit so much already! Unfortunately, this wasn’t a surprise either since Eric tried to buy the game for me for Christmas as well (I told you we love these games, and stink at surprises :-) ) and I had to stop him. We got a lot of fun videos of different members of our family playing the dancing game. Eric just recently made a compilation of the fiasco!

Active Andersons: Part 3 – The fun of giving and receiving

 - by Brittny

We had some fun gifts that we gave and received. We bought a few movies for Taylor and Ryan to enjoy together (my family rotates so that each sibling buys for just one other sibling – Eric and I had Taylor and Ryan this year), and a webcam for my parents (of course, my dad also bought one for my mom, which at least confirmed that it was a good idea…). We also got a calendar for my dad that has funny grandparent stories (I’m not sure how it started but I’ve bought a day-to-day desk calendar for my dad every year for the past several years. I like it because he keeps it at work and will tear off a page every day and think of me, and it’s something he uses), and a book called Funny, You Don’t Look Like a Grandmother for my mom. Since Samuel will be their first grandchild it was fun to get them some grandparent gifts.

We got a lot of baby stuff — my mom even put together a stocking for Samuel!

We also got a stroller from my parents for Christmas.

There’s a really cool demonstration of all of the cool features of this stroller on the manufacturer’s website but unfortunately the makers of the site did the whole thing in flash (shudder) and so I can’t post a direct link to the demo here, but if you are interested you can go to the website and click on products, the on strollers and then select the Helio (it’s the second thumbnail from the right on the top) and then click on demonstration. I really like how lightweight it is and how nice and small it folds up while still being a very functional full sized stroller. Thanks Mom & Dad!

As Eric wrote about previously, we got the video camcorder from Mom & Dad Hansen in conjunction with Samuel’s imminent arrival :) We also received several cute outfits, baby towels and baby blankets from Eric’s brother Mike’s family and our sister-in-law Kristen’s family for Christmas. I’m really excited to start organizing everything and even more excited for Samuel to come now!

Eric totally surprised me this year, which is quite the feat us! We both get too excited about our surprises for each other and usually end up sharing them beforehand. However, Eric managed to save some surprises for me. See, I lost my little bag that I keep my jewelry in when we moved from our apartment in Wymount to our friends’ apartment this summer. It had all of the jewelry in it that I wear regularly (which isn’t a lot, but they were the few pieces that I really liked). On Christmas Eve Eric went to the mall and bought me some new jewelry so that I have some nice things to dress up with! I never thought I’d be the kind of girl who was excited by little jewelry boxes under the Christmas tree but I was apparently wrong. He had picked out a couple of things that were simple and beautiful (just my style) and I was really touched by his sweet gifts.

Thank you so much honey! He’d also bought me a pair of new headphones that are a lot nicer than the ones I’d normally buy for myself. They’re really good at blocking out sound and really comfortable too. I had to promise though not to put them in my purse since we think the magnetic buttons in my purse are what previously caused the demise of Eric’s headphones.

Sadly, I didn’t have any really cool surprises for Eric like he had for me. He had made me promise not to get him anything really big since we’d spent a fair amount of money on some new suits for him a few months back. However I really enjoy putting his stocking together so I’d gotten him a few things that I thought he would enjoy, including some of his favorite books from when he was a kid (Goodnight Moon, Go, Dog, Go, Amelia Bedelia and the Baby, and Teach Us Amelia Bedelia). I also had some onsies made that obviously will be worn by Samuel, although they were really for Eric. They have this design on them that I created myself:

I think those could have been a cool surpise, however I needed Eric’s help designing them since I don’t know how to write Chinese, and I would have hated for him to open up his presents on Christmas morning and have onesies that say something like “I love dog food” instead of “I love my daddy”. I made two for him, in different sizes so that he’ll be able to have Samuel wear them for more than a couple of months. I was surprised that I was able to do it for a pretty reasonable price at MakeAOnsie.com.

Active Andersons: Part 2 – Christmas!

 - by Brittny

So, I’ll give you a rundown on what we did during our time there. My family waited to get a Christmas tree until the last minute (we like doing live trees, but we’re all allergic, so it’s best if we have a tree in our house for as short a time as possible) so we got to decorate it our first night home. We stayed up pretty late playing games and hanging out with family but it was worth it.

We slept in on Christmas Eve to recover from our long trip and late night, then spent most of that afternoon finishing up Christmas shopping. Christmas Eve is when my family does most of their Christmas traditions. We had our big Christmas dinner at our house with another family who had been very helpful to in organizing the Yes on Prop 8 campaign. After they had left we did what has always been my favorite family tradition – Christmas pajamas! Every year we each get a new pair of pajamas that we wear Christmas Eve and all day on Christmas (although this year we modified the tradition to be something to wear on Christmas – mostly sweats for the girls, basketball shorts and t-shirts for the boys, and Cody opted for a new pair of jeans and a hoodie :P). We hide the pajamas throughout the house and then everyone has to search to find their pajamas. This year Taylor helped hide the pajamas so they were hidden a little bit more creatively than usual. Cody’s ended up in a popcorn tin… in the garage… in the attic. I found mine in the outside refrigerator (good thing pregnancy has made me warmer than usual or I’d have been pretty put out to have cold PJs!!). My dad’s were in the solar oven – ok, so the solar oven was my mom’s doing, but you get the idea. Once everyone had their PJs on we read Luke 2 together. The rest of the evening was pretty laid back as we wrapped presents to go under the tree and played games. Once most of the younger kids had gone to bed (not that any of them are really young per se, I just mean the kids younger than me) we stuffed stockings and put them out before going to bed ourselves.

Christmas morning we were all woken up early because my youngest brother Kyle (10) is still at an age where seeing what Santa brought you is far more exciting than sleeping in.

I think Christmas is just more fun when you have little kids around, and it made me even more excited that we’ll have our Samuel here next Christmas, even though he’ll probably still be a little young to truly get caught up in the excitement.