As Christmas rolled around this year I figured it was probably time for me to finally make a Christmas card for our family. I’d never done Christmas cards myself before. My family always put together a fun newsletter, but that seems a little silly for us since this blog is essentially a year-round Christmas newsletter. Most of the people that I would want to send an update to probably already keep up with our blog. But I found after last Christmas that I really liked having the Christmas cards from our family posted on my refrigerator. I think we had a picture at least from each of Eric’s siblings, which allowed us to have all of Sam’s cousins up on the fridge. Since some of them we don’t see very often it’s fun to be able to at least show Sam his cousins and teach him their names. So I figured if I was enjoying other people’s cards they might enjoy one from us as well.
This summer our brother-in-law Rhett took some family pictures for us which turned out AWESOME. We posted them on Facebook and Twitter, but somehow neglected to post them here. Here’s the link to the full gallery of pictures. I wanted to make a photo card but since I rather lack creativity to design something like that myself I was a little afraid of what they would turn out like. I tried out a few different sites and tools and finally found Shutterfly’s collection of cards. I was able to easily make several different layouts for our Christmas card in less than an hour and they all looked really cute. (you can click on the images to see a more full-sized version)
For not being a creative type these cards make me look pretty darn creative huh? If you want to make your own they have tons of different layouts. My sister-in-law just sent us hers and it’s a normal style fold-open card that has pictures and their full family update inside rather than just the postcard style. I thought it was really cute and a nice way to make a more formal card without having to write something individually inside every one. Plus a nicer way to do a family update without having to spend all the time printing it yourself and it looked nicer than a single piece of paper.
It was so easy that I’ll probably use their site again when our new little boy gets here in April to send out a birth announcement or recommend it to friends looking for an easy way to put together a really nice wedding announcement without too much hassle.
The one thing I wish I had seen offered, which I think saw with one of their competitors, is the ability to upload your recipient list and have them mail the cards out for you. Obviously it was for a fee, but just to not have to address, attach postage and actually send out the cards myself would have been very tempting to me for sure.
Correction: When I went through the checkout process again I discovered that Shutterfly *was* the provider that offered the mailing service. It cost $1/card sent out, which I think is totally reasonable, depending on how many cards you’re sending out. I decided against it since we want to have some extra money in the bank for house closing etc. and we didn’t have our Christmas card list finalized. But seriously, it’s only about 50 cents more per card than doing it yourself, if you’re just counting postage. You also don’t have to seal cards, address envelopes or get everything in the mailbox. I’m definitely a fan!
The real kicker for me is that Shutterfly is currently having a promotion that if you write a blog post about their Christmas card collection and submit it to them they’ll give you 50 Christmas cards for free! If you’d like to participate you can get more information here.
Also, we’ve started to put our Christmas card list together, but if you’d really like a print version rather than just seeing it up here send me an email with your address and I’ll be sure to get you added to our list! Also, we’ve already sorta decided which card we’re probably going to send out, but let me know which one is your favorite. If enough people vote contrary to what we’d decided we might be swayed to change which one we send out ;)
Wow, a lot has happened since we last updated. I’d say that I’ll try to keep this short, but that would be a lie so I won’t even try to make such promises. I’ll just warn you right off the bat that this is likely to be a long post :)
I guess I’ll start with the pregnancy update since that’s been the most consuming part of my life recently (surprise!). Everything is still going really well for me. My biggest complaint is heartburn but I can still keep it at bay most of the time with just taking Tums. I’m definitely getting to be more whale-ish so I’m finding it harder to reach things on the floor or get out of bed. But overall, I’m feeling fantastic for having less than 2 weeks left! In fact, one of my favorite activities of late has been looking at the other pregnant women in my ward. I keep looking at the women who look seriously uncomfortable and thinking, man they must be ready to go any day now! Then, I’ll look up their due dates and find out… they’re a month less pregnant than I am. I’m feeling very blessed that this has been the case.
When I was at the doctor’s on Monday she told us that I was 2cm dilated and 60% effaced. Not too bad! She’d asked if I’d been feeling any contractions, and I’d said no, but apparently I was wrong. You can’t make progress without contractions. On Friday I finally figured out what the contractions feel like… and I’ve been having them for weeks. I’d just thought it was the baby pushing out on part of my stomach that was making it all hard :P . They aren’t the kind that hurt yet, but I really should start timing them since I’ve been having them come a few an hour for a day at a time off and on. They’re just kinda hard to time because since they don’t hurt… I don’t always notice them. I’ve been joking all week that I’d decided that Saturday would be a good day for Samuel to come and that I was going to talk him into it :P My family decided that if that was the case they would all pack into the car and head up since they have a 3 day weekend anyways. My little brother Kyle started praying that I’d go into labor as soon as they made that decision. He told my mom that they should just come because, “I prayed for it, and when have my prayers not been answered. Ok, maybe a couple of times.” We thought it was really cute, but also very true. Kyle has awesome child-like faith and we’ve seen more than one miracle that came from his praying for it. The weekend isn’t over yet so I guess I better be ready!
Also, in preparation for Samuel’s arrival my friends Amber and Crystal threw a baby shower for me last week! We played a few games and had some awesome food and opened presents. We are SO set now for Samuel to come! Amber took some pictures that you can see here if you’re interested. And here’s the invitation (no, it didn’t get smudged, I just figured Amber might not like her home address and phone number to be displayed for the world to see on our blog):
Which leads me to a question, how many people out there have heard that nursery rhyme saying before – “Snakes and snails and puppy dog tails, that’s what little boys are made of” ? I’d heard it before so I thought it was super cute that Amber used that on the invitation, but most people that we’ve asked had never heard of it before. It’s part of a long poem that goes through what different kinds of people are made of. Most people I guess only know the “Sugar and spice and everything nice, that’s what little girls are made of” part of the rhyme. Apparently other people thought it was a little weird, which I guess I can understand if you’ve never heard the rhyme before :P But I thought it was cute, and now you all know :) (You can see the Wikipedia entry for the rhyme here.) Thanks so much Amber and Crystal for putting that together, and to everyone who came or couldn’t come but has dropped by since then. We so appreciate all of the things we’ve been given that will make it so much easier to bring our baby home!
One of the really fun things we’ve been able to do in the past few weeks is to go to a lot of cool concerts. Eric is taking Music 200 and one of the requirements for the class is to go to six different genres of concerts. It’s been a really good excuse for us to go on some fun dates! We went first to a combined choir concert at the Provo Tabernacle that featured BYU’s Men’s Chorus, Women’s Chorus, Concert Choir and BYU Singers. It was a really cool concert, and they even had the audience do one of the numbers. They handed out sheet music to everyone as we came in and then at the end of the performance they had us basically sight read the music and sing with the choir. Definitely not something you could do with just any audience :P
Last week we went to the Young Ambassadors show, probably more at my request than for Eric’s requirement (for those of you who don’t know I spent 4 years on the YA’s tech crew and it is still one of the most incredible and defining experiences of my life). Their new show is still really weird to me because it is so different from the shows that I worked on. They have cut some of the performers (singers/dancers) in favor of a larger band, and the band is now on stage with the group instead of in a pit or off to the side somewhere. Actually this change I LOVE. The band has always been one of the coolest parts of the group (no offense to any performers that might read our blog) and I think it’s awesome to have them up on the stage and really part of the show. As a result of them expanding the band they no longer have a backup tape that has the instruments we lacked with a 4 piece band. This allows the band to have a lot more control over the musicality of the show rather than being tied to a click track. I can’t express enough what a great change I think this is.
The other major change that I’ve noticed is that the show has a lot less Broadway and a lot more pop-type numbers. The years I was in the group the show was entirely composed of Broadway numbers. Their current show is called “The New Music Makers” and it’s supposed to more tie together the people who have influenced music in different eras. Honestly, I don’t like this change, but I’m sure that it’s a case of what I’m used to more than anything. I just really liked the Broadway numbers and all of the acting that went along with the singing and dancing. I like watching numbers that really tell a story more than just a song. I know every song *is* a story, but it’s just different. Which isn’t to say that I didn’t enjoy the show, or think that they did a fantastic job, because I really enjoyed the show. I just liked the older style of show better.
Anyways, last night we went to a concert for Synthesis (an elite Jazz band at BYU). They were AWESOME. I’d seen them play at Homecoming Spectacular once and was very impressed, but it was even more fun to see them playing a whole concert. They are an incredibly talented group and it was totally worth the money that we paid to go see their show. The funniest part of the whole night though was their guest artist – Anthony Wilson. Don’t get me wrong, he was very good and extremely talented. What was funny was that Synthesis was playing some of his songs with him, and rather than allowing the conductor of Synthesis to conduct the whole thing Anthony Wilson kept trying to conduct the group, as well as the conductor, while playing the guitar. I’m sure it’s very difficult not to do that when it’s a piece that you wrote and you have a specific idea of how it should sound. It was a classic example though of what John Shurtleff (YA technical director) would call “too many chiefs and not enough Indians”.
Another result of all of these extra dates has been that we’ve found a new restaurant that we LOVE – Zupas. So far we’ve been there 3 times and had different things each time and haven’t been dissapointed once. That’s saying something! We like to get their combo meals where you get to choose a combination of 2 of either a bowl of soup, a panini or a salad (i.e. you can get a panini and soup, or a panini and salad or soup and salad). We fell in love with paninis while on our honeymoon in Paris so we’ve both opted for paninis every time. So far we’ve tried 4 different soups, 2 salads and 6 paninis and they’ve all been excellent. If you live in Utah and you haven’t yet been to Zupas… we highly recommend that you remedy that soon :)
We’ve had a few other fun things that have happened in the past few weeks. We threw a little birthday party for Eric’s best friend Levi a couple weekends ago. Eric and Levi have been friends since Eric was 5 so they go WAY back. However, they haven’t really seen each other in over 4 years as their age difference made it so that Levi was leaving on his mission about the same time Eric got home from his. I’ve really enjoyed watching the two of them just pick up where they left off, having fun playing video games, and going skiing and just having fun together. I’m especially glad that he has a friend to go skiing with him since I’m not exactly a world class skiier (I’d much rather be at home and be warm than in the snow). I’ve also enjoyed that there is now someone around who is really good competition for Eric in his video games, someone’s gotta teach him some humility ;)
We also had Eric’s friend Jason come from Taiwan and visit us for 5 days. Eric taught Jason the gospel while on his mission and Jason was finally able to get baptized within the past year while living in Russia. Jason also came over from Taiwan for our wedding and stayed with my family for a few days at that time. It was really fun to have him here, although I felt bad that we were really busy and couldn’t do too many things with him, but I think the things that we did do while he was here were pretty fun. He was here when we had Levi’s birthday party, which was cool because they don’t really make that big of a deal of birthdays in Taiwan so it was a new experience for him to go to a birthday party (even if the one we had was pretty low key). Eric also took him to Temple Square one of the afternoons and we went and had Family Home Evening with Mom & Dad Hansen in Salt Lake that night. It was especially good that Jason was here for that since Eric was speaking to their FHE group about his experiences in Taiwan that night! They hadn’t planned that at all, it just worked out that way, but it was fun that Eric had someone actually from Taiwan to help with that presentation.
Along with the presentation Eric’s parents had asked him to bring his violin and play something for the group. Can I just say how much I love watching Eric play the violin? He is an excellent violinist, but it’s not necessarily listening to him play that I love as much as watching him play. Eric is a very passionate person and you can see how much he loves playing the violin whenever he gets a chance to play – which hasn’t been often lately. I really hope that as he finishes school in a couple of months he will have more time to spend practicing. He can make beautiful music with that instrument, but more than anything I love seeing how happy it makes him to be able to make that music. (Yaknow, the day he proposed to me was after I’d seen him play violin for the first time… do you think it’s a coincidence that I accepted? ;P) If you’ve never had a chance to see or hear Eric play the violin there are some links to some mp3s and videos on his website.
So overall it’s been a busy but fun few weeks! Sorry we’ve been so lax in getting posts out regularly. Hopefully we’ll do better in the future (no guarantees though :P)