Category:Hansens’

Happy Mother’s Day!

 - by Brittny

Happy Mother’s Day to all you mothers out there! I’m so grateful for the opportunity I have to be a mother, and for the cute little boys I am privileged to raise and a wonderful husband who supports me in this endeavor.  I feel truly blessed.

I woke up yesterday morning to find these on our kitchen table –

I guess Eric knew better than to think that he would be up as early or earlier than me so he left some presents for me out on the table with notes.  On the left is a questionaire that we had Sam fill out with questions about me (more on that later), in the middle is a shirt that says Mom in binary and on the right is a docking station for my smartphone.  I’m especially excited about the docking station because it makes it so my phone becomes a bedside clock at night.  This is useful because we have a rule that Sam is not allowed to come into our room before 7am, but once 7am hits I’ll often let him climb into bed with us in the hope that I can get some more sleep while he snuggles with us.  He’d been pretty good about this rule for awhile but over the past few weeks he’s started coming in around 6am and climbing in bed – meaning I’m getting even less sleep than usual (I blame the sun coming up earlier).  If I can easily turn and see the time then it’s easy for me to say, “no Sam, it’s not 7 yet, go back to bed”.  Unfortunately recently it’s been too difficult to get to my phone to check the time and I’ll let him into bed only to find out an hour later that it’s STILL not 7am.  Anyways, excited to be able to use that :)  Thank you Eric for the sweet gifts, they will be put to good use!

Since it was Sunday we of course had church.  Our Elders & High Priest Quorums had organized to take over all the auxiliaries for the women so we could attend Sunday School and Relief Society.  I was very impressed with my Eric for signing up for 2 different assignments – teaching the 10 & 11 year olds during the 2nd hour of church, and helping in the nursery during the 3rd hour of church!  It made me once again proud to be married to the kind of man who is willing to pitch in and do his part (and even above and beyond) to help serve others.  I’m a lucky woman to have him :)

During the second hour of church it was probably a little bit busier for me than usual since I’m the Primary Secretary.  Just with making sure the men knew who was in their class, checking that every class was covered, kids accounted for etc.  Eric was going to take Daniel into his Sunday School class that he was teaching but Daniel got hurt a few minutes into class and so we ended up in the mother’s lounge to nurse him a little bit.  That was ok since I had intended to stay near the primary during that hour to make sure things went ok for sharing time.  Plus, it was really fun to watch Brother Peters and Brother Knudsen running the sharing time and singing time.  They mentioned how hyper the kids were and I just laughed – the kids were actually behaving much better for the men than they did usually!  It was funny to see the difference in perspective.   It was also interesting to see the difference in how the men ran the primary from how the women run it.  One thing I noticed was that everything was a competition and they had to have prizes and winning and losing was a big deal.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen those kinds of competitions on a normal Sunday!  Not that one way is better or worse, but it’s just interesting to see the different approaches.  I’ve read a few books recently about the differences between men and women in their brain development and communication so I always find it fascinating to see those differences at play.  (For those of you who are interested some of those books were – The Male Brain, The Female Brain (both by Louann Brizendine), and Eve & the Choice Made in Eden by Beverly Campbell)

During the third hour Eric took Daniel so I could go to Relief Society.  That was a real treat.  On a week by week basis I don’t feel like I’m missing out in not getting to go to Relief Society, I really love my calling and the people that I serve with and wouldn’t give that up.  But I love going to Relief Society and it felt so good to be back in there again, even just for a week.  I have a feeling men don’t need Priesthood meeting quite like women need Relief Society.  There’s just something so energizing and renewing about just being there amongst the women of our ward that isn’t present anywhere else.  I just want to say a huge THANK YOU to all the men in our ward who pitched in so that the women could spend that time together in Relief Society.  It was appreciated more than you’ll know.  And especially a huge thank you to my own Eric for all that he did both in relieving teachers and taking our Daniel.

After church we went up to Eric’s sister Katrina’s house for dinner with his family.  Sam was in heaven just being up with his cousins.  It’s so nice to have such wonderful family, and especially to have them so close!  When I was growing up, and even up until the past few years, I always expected and desired that when I had my own family we’d live far away from our families.  Now however I just wish we lived closer to more family than we do. What a blessing to be able to see your family frequently and spend time building those most important relationships.  What a silly desire to want to be off on our own!

So as I mentioned at the beginning of this post we gave a questionaire to Sam with questions about me that he was supposed to answer.  We also gave him the same questionaire to answer about his grandmas.  I typed up the answers and thought you might enjoy seeing them here.  One of the most fun parts (in my opinion) is comparing Sam’s answers for each person. Here’s his responses –

Answers about Grannie- Eric's mom

Answers about Bobo - Brittny's mom

Answers about his mom

So at first it looks really nice that Sam thinks I only weigh 60 pounds… until you consider that he thinks his grandmas weigh between 2 and 5 lbs.  That means that he thinks I’m approximately 12-30 times heavier than his grandmas… thanks Sam :P  I really just enjoyed doing this exercise with Sam, I tried not to edit his answers but just type whatever he said, regardless of how much sense it made.  Hopefully I’ll remember to do this again next year so we can see if his responses have changed.

Before I wrap this post up I just want to express my thanks to our mothers for all they have done and still do to help mold us into the people we are today.  The longer I’m a mother the more impressed I am with the remarkable women who raised us and the time, effort and sacrifices that they made on our behalf.  I hope to one day be the kind of mother they are.

More family relationships

 - by Brittny

I just wanted to pass along this quick Sam story.  This morning Sam was talking to me and asked me if Aunt Tay-Tay (my sister) was his only aunt.  I told him that not only was Taylor not his only aunt, but he had 9 other aunts!  So we started naming off his other aunts and he replied that each one of them was in fact his aunt.  Except when I got to his Aunt Marianela (Eric’s oldest brother’s wife), his response was “No, she’s not an aunt!  She’s a girl cousin!”  No matter how hard I tried Sam was not convinced that Marianela was his aunt, she had to be a girl cousin.  Congratulations Marianela!  You’re the only one of his aunts who earned that distinction – and one of his aunts is only 19 years old!

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!

2011 in Review

 - by Brittny

Well, it’s time for our obligatory year-end update on the family. It’s hard to believe we’ve been in our new home for over a year now! Time has flown by for our little family. We are very grateful for blessings and support we received this year from our family and friends. Adjusting to a homeowner’s life took more effort than anticipated, but it’s been a fun experiencing learning more about lighting, electrical wiring, installing water sprinklers, and other handy skills. I get the feeling that there is a never-ending supply of home improvement or maintenance jobs in our future.

Of course, the most exciting thing that happened this year had nothing to do with our house, but with our new baby!  Our sweet Daniel was born on 15 April at 11:00pm.   He weighed in at 7lbs 9oz and was 20 inches long.  Of course, he isn’t the same small baby that you see in that first post – he is 8 months old now! He is an extremely happy and easy-going child.  His smile constantly makes our day, and makes him lots of friends wherever we go.  All of a sudden, he has started moving around a lot! He is crawling very quickly and confidently, has taken to standing on his own for a few seconds at a time, and even crawling up stairs–much to our dismay. It won’t be long before he gets moving on two feet!  He has developed a few “tricks” like clapping, and clicking his tongue.  Our favorite thing he does though is sniffing.  Every so often he will scrunch up his face and start sniffing really hard for a little bit.  It doesn’t seem like he’s really trying to smell anything, and I’ve checked to make sure he didn’t have anything stuck in his nose, he just enjoys sniffing I guess.  His face when he does it though cracks us up.

He started out as an amazing sleeper which was totally new to us.  However in October we did some travelling and he got sick.  Since then we had at least one person in our family sick through the end of November.  Daniel’s sleeping habits haven’t been the same since, but he is still the least complaining child.  I took him in for his 6-month check up at the end of October and told the doctor that he was acting just fine, but that his eyes had been really goopey.  It was weird.  She said it was probably nothing and started to check him out.  When she looked in his ears she said “oh!  He has an ear infection!”  It was just a viral one so nothing that we could really do about it except let it run its course, but I was totally surprised that he had something really wrong with him because he’d been acting so cheerful!  That’s just the way our Danny rolls :)

Sam is a really good big brother to baby Daniel, but of course not without a good bit of jealousy mixed in.  He will be turning three in March, but you would think he was much older by the way he speaks. Whenever you ask him a yes or no question, he rarely responds with a one-word answer. If you ask him, “Sam, are you done eating yet?” he’ll respond, “No, not quite” or “Yes, I am done eating.”  Or the other night Eric asked him, “Sam, would you like some dinner?” and Sam responded with a gasp and then said, “Dada! That would be so great! I do want some dinner!”. He loves reading and asking very precocious questions. For example, Eric took care of Sam one day while Brittny went to a meeting: Sam: “Is Mom home yet?” Eric: “No, not yet.” Sam: “Is she at school or play?” (Referencing a particular line of “Jesus Wants Me for a Sunbeam”)  Or on the day that he was wearing a shirt that said “USA” he looked down and said, “U-S-A.  Does that spell freedom?”  He has started going to joy school twice a week and loves it.  Even though he’s a little bit young for preschool we’re really glad that he has the opportunity to participate in this activity.  He loves the chance to learn and to play with other kids.  Sam loves letters and reading.  He can spell a few words – his favorites are Sam and Eric.  His favorite show is Super Why, and he even dressed up as Super Why for halloween!

Eric is working harder than ever after being baptized by fire into the Product Management group at Adobe. There is a lot to learn, but he enjoys the way the job challenges him and gives him opportunities to grow. He also is having a lot more opportunities to travel lately visiting clients all over the world from Sydney to New York. Probably the most exciting thing for Eric this year is that he developed an algorithm for Adobe that they’ve started to patent.  He’s pretty excited to have his name on a patent, even if all the rights are assigned to the company and not himself. He always dreamed of inventing things when he was a young child, and now that dream is being realized! His church calling as a building scheduler is relatively simple. All he has to do is answer the phone and maintain an online calendar, but he is still very involved in church with the ward choir and putting on special musical numbers.

Brittny was released a couple months ago from her calling as the Nursery coordinator, which worked out well since Sam had been well adjusted to attending on his own for a little while now. She was then called to be the Secretary in the Primary! So her workload has expanded dramatically, and she still helps out with the Nursery from time to time. All of the exposure to so many little kids has turned our family into a petri dish for the illnesses floating through the ward. We’ve had at least one member of our family sick every week since the beginning of October until a few weeks ago (*knock on wood in hopes of keeping good health*). We’ve started implementing some new healthcare practices (multivitamins for everyone, extra hand washing etc) to hopefully ward off more nursery-borne sicknesses in the future! Brittny also still works from home as a freelance web programmer whenever she gets a moment’s rest from chasing kids. With Eric’s new job position the extra money isn’t really necessary, but it’s nice for Brittny to have the hobby and extra spending money. She appreciates the reminder that she’s good at things other than changing diapers and cleaning dishes (especially since she’s not so good at the dishes part!). But she does a great job caring for our two little ones, the most important job in our family.

So that’s our family update for the year. It’s been very exciting despite the fact we didn’t have to move, and that’s something to be really excited about! Our best wishes go out to you for an excellent 2012!

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.

Disneyland Adventures

 - by Eric

This post is a team effort.  Eric had actually already started the post and outlined a lot of the things he wanted to post about, and I decided to help him out and start fleshing out some of the pieces for him.  At first I tried to just write in Eric’s voice, but that got confusing to me and I knew that the way I was writing was different from what Eric would write.  So instead we’re employing the Chris Heimerdinger Method and all of my comments will be in italics and Eric’s will be in regular typeface.  Hopefully this isn’t too confusing :P

I know this post has been a LOOOONG time coming, but I really wanted to document the fun adventure our family had during the 2010 family reunion. I particularly enjoyed this trip because I got to take my family to Disneyland in California, a very nostalgic experience for me. You see, I went to Disneyland way back when I was five years old, so I was very interested to see how things changed over the past 20 years.

Old Disneyland Entrance

Old Disneyland Entrance

The first thing I noticed coming into the park was how much smaller it was! Well, I suppose the park wasn’t so much smaller as I was much bigger. Even so, the place felt a lot bigger by the end of the day because we had to walk across the entire park to get to our rides a couple of times.

The day started with us all being a little bit groggy.  While the other families mostly had kids who were SO excited to be there that they didn’t mind the early hour.  However, at only 1 year old Sam didn’t know what was in store for him.  So he wasn’t super thrilled to be up early.  As we went in he was mostly clingy and just wanting to go back to sleep.  We even debated just heading back to the hotel for a little while to let him get some more sleep.  However we decided to first try going on some rides and see how he reacted.

Stroller Nap

Stroller Nap

His first ride of the day was actually just riding around on Grandpa’s scooter with Grandpa.  In Sam’s opinion, that was pretty awesome!  Grandpa even let him control the scooter himself for awhile.  It doesn’t get much better than that, especially if you’re Sam and have inherited your father’s penchant for technology and pushing buttons :)  After awhile of playing with Grandpa we decided it was probably time to test out one of the actual rides at the park.

As far as actual rides go, we started out in the little kids section of the park and tried letting him ride on the merry-go-round on a horse with mom standing next to him, but he didn’t really enjoy that experience until mommy actually rode with him. After that he seemed to enjoy it enough to ride a few more times.

 

Not sure about this carousel thingy

Not sure about this carousel thingy!

Next time around was better

Next time around was better

The next nearest ride was the dumbo flying contraption where you ride on Dumbo’s back in a circle, controlling the elevation with a joystick in the cockpit. The funny thing about Sam on this ride was his expression. During the ride he had a very contemplative look on his face as if he wasn’t sure if he liked the ride or not, but after he was done and got out he got really excited. He came over to me, made the signe for more and asked, “MORE?!”

 

Dumbo ride with Mom

After the Dumbo ride with Mom

Sam signing for more Dumbo :)

Sam signing for more Dumbo

The next logical step from that ride was something a little more exciting: the teacup ride! I distinctly remember riding that one when I was there as a kid, and it was fun to spin ourselves fast and see how dizzy Sam got at the end. The line was pretty long for that one, so we then hopped over to the Storybook boat ride that was nearby. This trip was made during Sam’s fascination with water, so he really enjoyed the boat rides that day. We had to hold on to Sam as we went around, and he was only semi-interested in the exhibits and displays around him. If we weren’t holding him back, he would’ve jumped into the water!

 

Sam on the teacup ride

Teacup ride

Given Sam’s love for water rides, we felt it only appropriate to make the token Small World ride to complete our Disneyland experience. The experience was much the same as I remember, except there were a lot of newly-injected Disney references from recent movies like Toy Story and Lilo & Stitch. Sell-outs! :P

Space Mountain Poster

Eric and I wanted to get some fun out of our day at Disneyland too, so we got ourselves some FastPasses for a couple of rides and arranged with Mom & Dad to watch Sam while we rode those rides.  We considered them like little mini dates.  Even though with our FastPasses our “dates” were less than half an hour it was still fun to have an opportunity to spend a little bit of time together and to feel care free. Our first mini date ride was Space Mountain which is a classic ride of and we had a lot of fun.  There’s not a lot to say about the ride itself, it’s a rollercoaster in the dark, but it’s a really fun ride.  Actually I was impressed that the ride itself was as long as it was, with most rides I have the opposite opinion, so that in and of itself is a pretty good commendation I guess.  Surprisingly Eric and I hadn’t been to an amusement park together in our 3 years of being married so it was kind of exciting just to have some new “first” experiences together.  Luckily Sam slept happily in his stroller for the duration of the ride.  Which was good, he was still having some pretty serious separation anxiety and wasn’t yet used to Grannie and Grandpa.  We were glad to not have to worry about his reaction to us being gone, even for that short bit of time.

Indiana Jones Poster


For the second mini-date near the end of the day we were able to secure some FastPasses for the Indiana Jones ride on the other side of the park. The long walk wasn’t the best, and unfortunately Sam wasn’t napping in his stroller this time around. With his separation anxiety, we had to try and distract him with another ride on grandpa’s scooter while we stole away into the line for the ride. I wasn’t sure what the experience would be like, but LucasFilm partnered with Disney on the experience, and they generally produce good stuff. The ride was on a giant jeep with hydrolics, and we were both amazed at the animatronics of all the characters in the ride. At first, I thought the people were real. I figured that would be a really boring job to have to repeat the same lines and actions over and over again. It wasn’t until the last moment I realized that it was a robot. Pyrotechnics combined with G-forces from the hydrolics made for a really fun ride. It was good that it didn’t last as long as space mountain because Sam was really distraught when we came out.

After dinner at Pizza Planet, we weren’t sure what to do with a one-year-old, but as we wandered around, we came across the TLT dance party. That caught my attention thanks to my DJ-ing days in high school and college. What kept us there was seeing my son break down to Darude’s Sandstorm – he’s got good taste in techno! It was really fun to see Sam in this new element. He even got some flirtatious looks from some girls nearby! I think we may have a ladies man on our hands. :)

Our last ride of the night was the new Finding Nemo ride.  Sam had recently gotten into the movie so we figured it was likely to be a safe bet.  Unfortunately the line for the ride was incredibly long all day, and we didn’t think that our 1 year old was going to have the patience to wait so we kept putting it off.  When we finally did hop in line the line was still over an hour long, but we decided to brave it.  While standing in line Eric fell for Sam’s cute face and bought him a flashing bubble gun.  Since Sam was getting pretty tired at this point it was a very helpful tool in getting Sam through the line.  Even though it was severely overpriced (welcome to Disneyland :P ) it was definitely a worthwhile investment, because at the end we were able to get on the Finding Nemo ride.  It was Sam’s favorite thing that we did all day long! As we hopped on the submarine I was concerned that he was going to freak out at the small space or being underwater.  However, my fears were quickly replaced by a completely different concern – that Sam was going to be too distracting to the other people on the boat!  He looked out the window and immediately started exclaiming, “water!  Water!  WATER!”  He *loved* it.  He didn’t stop talking about the water the whole time we were on the ride :) The ride itself was pretty impressive, it was cool to see how they had re-worked the 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea ride to become a completely new ride.  When it came to the end Sam kept saying “more? more? more?” but of course there was no way that he was going to last through that line again.  So instead we started to head out of the park.  We were leaving just as the final parade of the night was going through Main Street.  It wasn’t worth it to stay with Sam as tired as he was, but he still enjoyed seeing the fireworks as we walked out.

So those are the main highlights from our Disneyland adventure. I’m just glad that I took enough notes that we could write about it a year later!

Children’s iPad App

 - by Brittny

Monkey & Croc Children's Story iPad App

I know I need to write a real post about our whole moving in with pictures of the new house in action, but I still haven’t gotten all of our pictures hung up yet so I don’t feel like the house is quite ready for its photo debut.  However, I wanted to share something with anyone that follows our blog who is an iPhone/iPod Touch/iPad kind of a person.  My brother and sister-in-law put together a cool app that you should definitely check out.  It’s a children’s storybook that takes advantage of all the features that platform has to offer – sound effects, read aloud and high quality illustrations!   Julie is a professional illustrator and Rhett has worked for many years in the computer industry, so between the two of them they had all the right expertise to put together a stellar application.  The app is only $1.99 and is something you and your kids are sure to enjoy.  You can get more information here – http://www.jujubeebooks.com/ .  While we’re not Apple people ourselves we’d love to see this do well so that they can bring the app over to the Android market too!

2010 – The Year in Review

 - by Brittny

I sent out our Christmas cards this year with a link to our blog rather than a full newsletter.  I figure most people who we send Christmas cards to are followers of our blog anyways and that’s like an intense, year-round Christmas newsletter.  But I decided that I ought to have a brief recap of our year for those who just want to hit the highlights.  So I posted 4 pictures on the inside of our card that I feel show the most important things that happened this year, and I’ll explain them in more detail here –

First of all, Sam.  This year has been all about Sam.  He turned one this year and it has been absolutely delightful watching our little baby grow into a bouncing toddler.  He walks and talks and is so much fun to have around.  He’s always getting into something new but it makes every day an adventure.  He’s getting really excited for…

His new baby brother who will be born in April!  We haven’t yet settled on a name for our new addition but hopefully that will be coming soon.  We’re excited to be adding another little boy to our family.  Sam is especially excited and really wanted us to get the baby for Christmas, but we have since convinced him that we can have the baby for Easter instead.  Sam spends a fair amount of time “playing with” the baby, by kissing my stomach and drumming on it etc.  His new favorite trick is to put his hands on either side of my stomach and say that he wants to “carry baby”.  Hopefully this enthusiasm will last after the baby is actually here.

Another exciting change is Eric’s new job at Adobe.  He is now the Emerging Business Manager for the Digital Home (yeah, the new title is a mouthful) and loving every minute of his new job.  He gets to spend his days playing with video game consoles, IP TVs and other cool technologies while he figures out new ways to integrate Adobe’s products with those new technologies.  Maybe it’s not quite as glamorous as all that, but he still says it’s his dream job.  Adobe is moving their campus in the next couple of years to Lehi.  With the new position and the new campus it meant it was time for…

A new house
!  We are currently completing the construction on our first home.  It is about 5 minutes from where the new Adobe campus will be.  The house has a Draper address, although it’s on the Utah County side of the mountains (much closer to Highland, Alpine and Lehi really).  We’re up in the mountains a little bit so it’s out of the bustle of the city and (more importantly) the pollution in the valley, but it’s not very far out of the way so we’re not stranded away from civilization either.  We’re very excited to be moving in  at the end of this year.

So, that should about cover the main highlights of the year for us.  We hope this season brings you joy, love and peace.

We’ve Moved!

 - by Brittny

No, not that kind of move.  We still have a couple more weeks until we close on our new house, but we’ve moved to a new blog address!  http://www.haitechfamily.com.  We decided it was finally time for us to bid adieu to Blogger in favor of a WordPress installation on our own domain.  There are a few reasons for this move.

  1. We wanted to have more control over what we were able to put on our blog and really make it a full-fledged website, rather than just a simple blog.
  2. We wanted to be able to have private posts that still show up on our RSS feed so when we had information that we really only want our friends to see we can hide it without the pain of being a private blog.  (No offense to our friends who have private blogs, but I hate them because I always forget to go check them.  I totally understand why people do it but they still make me sad inside).
  3. We wanted to be able to email our blog posts to more than 10 people.  Since my mom and Eric’s parents and a few other people like to keep up with our blog via email rather than an RSS feed reader we like being able to have our blog posts automatically emailed to people who would like to have it come that way, without having to ask us to add them to a list and having to be very choosy about who could receive our emails.
  4. We were already paying $10/month for Dreamhost web hosting for Eric’s and my personal websites (as well as a few other projects we have), and since we can have unlimited domains hosted on the one account it seemed silly to not have our family website hosted there as well. (By the way, if you’re searching for awesome web hosting, we can’t recommend Dreamhost highly enough.  We *love* them)
  5. Most importantly, our Blogspot address didn’t fit nicely on our Christmas card We bought the domain name back in July so we’ve been meaning to make this move for awhile, but this was the thing that finally pushed us over the edge to complete the transition.   Kinda dumb, especially since when all was said and done transferring everything took only a couple hours and I really love working with WordPress, but oh well.

So, lots of different reasons for moving.  If you subscribe to us using a feed reader then you shouldn’t have to change anything – the updates will just be coming from a different address now.  But otherwise you probably ought to update your bookmarks and start following us at our new site!

By the way, if you have a blogspot blog and would like to use WordPress for any of the reasons stated above, but aren’t tech savvy enough to host your own installation you can sign up for a WordPress blog and use it like you use Blogger.  They host blogs at http://www.wordpress.com. And of course, I’m always available to help you set that up if you’d like.

Danielle’s Wedding and the End of Winter Break

 - by Brittny

In case you weren’t aware, let me tell you something unique about Eric. He is the youngest of 9 children. That puts him in a very interesting situation. He became an uncle when he was 3 years old. This means that our oldest niece, Danielle, is 21 and seems like she ought to be more cousin than niece, but things are what they are. However, 21 puts her at a marrying age and that’s just what she did over Christmas break.  That made us feel a little old to have a niece old enough to get married, even though she’s not all that much younger than we are.  Oh well.  If you’ve been following our winter break saga this post just picks up where the last one left off. Now back to your regularly scheduled blog post…

We drove from Logan up to Rexburg on Tuesday afternoon. We were very glad that we had planned ahead and were already halfway to Rexburg from Orem. Sam has gotten much better at being in his carseat in recent months, but it’s still not his preferred location so it’s best if we can keep him out of it as much as possible.

We pulled into Rexburg around 4:30pm. After unpacking ourselves into the room and getting settled Eric suddenly realizes the Rexburg Temple doesn’t provide clothing rental (or so he thinks). This wouldn’t be a problem except that his wife has fed him some apparently edible food since they got married and he now has more… girth units about his middle section. A.k.a. he needs new white temple pants. So he finds where the nearest Church Distribution Center is and races out to go get himself a new pair of temple pants.

(For those of you who might not be up on LDS lingo I’ll explain really quick. When we attend the temple we dress all in white to represent purity and heaven and other things along those lines. Most church members own their own set of white clothes that they can wear inside the temple. They can buy these at a Distribution Center where they sell white clothes that fit the specifications of the temple as well as other church supplies – scriptures, lesson manuals etc. At many of the larger temples they offer a clothing rental service for those who may not own their own temple clothes or who aren’t able to bring them with them. However, since Rexburg isn’t a very large town Eric didn’t think he’d be able to rent clothes there. Ok, enough explaining… back to the blog post :)

When Eric gets back he tells me that his sister Dianne (the mother of the bride) has invited us over for pizza, and has agreed to hem his new temple pants for him. Since there’s not a whole lot more to do in Rexburg, and the whole point of this trip is to be with family we pretty much immediately hop back in the car to go to Dianne’s.

We had a ball at their house! I was pleasantly surprised at how laid back they were for it being the night before the wedding. We played Rock Band, ate pizza, watched a movie and just hung out as a family.

Sam helping Eric sing his part in Rock Band

Sam putting on a show for some of the women

Sam trying to get into a cousin’s backpack

Sam climbing through his cousin Lizzie’s legs. Yes, Sam was very photogenic that night so there are some fun pictures of him :P

Anyways, so partway through our fun night Eric gets a call from his dad to tell us that we’d checked into the wrong room. Oops! Luckily we’d left one of the room keys behind and hadn’t let Sam make too much of a mess yet so they were able to just transfer all our stuff to the correct room and take over the room for themselves.

The next morning we woke up with a concern that had been nagging us all trip – what were we going to do with Sam while we were in the temple. He had been so clingy since the first day we left the house (Christmas Eve) and had only gotten worse the longer we’d been gone. We really didn’t want to leave our niece Becca with a screaming child for three hours, but we really wanted to participate in Danielle’s wedding. Danielle had invited all of the family to participate in an endowment session before the sealing to get everyone in the right spirit of the ordinance. However we knew that meant an extra two hours that we’d be leaving Sam. We finally decided to go participate in the endowment session and trust in the Lord (and Becca) to take care of Sam.

I’m so glad we did. We took Sam over to the Eaton’s house still worried that he was going to be ornery. He hadn’t eaten yet so I pulled out my nursing cover and fed him for a few minutes. All of a sudden, Sam decided he was done eating, climbed down, and crawled right over to Becca! It was truly a tender mercy from Heavenly Father that he would do that. We gave him kisses that he hardly acknowledged, and we left. Apparently Sam didn’t make a fuss the whole time we were gone. He slept happily on Becca for a while and played with his cousins.

The Rexburg Temple

The whole experience of going through the temple with Danielle was awesome. I think she was truly inspired to have the temple experience like she did. It was really cool to see how the endowment and sealing ceremonies fit together. It also really got us all with the Spirit before getting to the sealing. It was such a neat experience and I’m so glad we got to be a part of it.

After the temple we picked up Sam and went to a big family luncheon. You know, just being with family is pretty cool. We really enjoyed sitting around and talking and watching the little kids run around. What a blessing to have such a great family.

Sam and I ended up taking a nap and missing the family pictures (we figured Danielle would probably appreciate not having a cranky baby in her pictures more than us trying to force him to be there). We sent Eric to represent our family for the pictures and then he came back to bring us back to the reception.

We got to help take down the reception which, strangely enough, was one of my favorite things. I really like the energy of setting things up and taking them down. There’s a sense of accomplishment when everything is in order and ready for an event, and when you’ve gotten everything cleaned up and packed back up. I know that sounds weird, but I guess I’m just a weird person. It’s definitely one of the reasons I loved my time as a stage technician for the Young Ambassadors. I miss being a part of that a lot sometimes. I love what I’m doing now as a wife and mother, but I still miss it.

When we got back to the hotel we took Sam swimming for a little bit. Sam is an absolute fish! He loves the water so we couldn’t pass up a chance to take him swimming – even if it was in the middle of winter in Rexburg, Idaho! (Don’t worry, the pool was inside, otherwise this “swimming” would have been called “ice skating” or “tobogganing”).

When the pool closed up we got dried off and met with some of our nephews to play cards. I nursed Sam to sleep and kept him asleep on my lap while we played Bang! and Five Crowns<. As we were getting close to our last round of Five Crowns the man at the front desk came over and said he'd gotten some complaints that we were being too loud and asked us to keep it down. We were extremely perplexed by this since we'd obviously been quiet enough for Sam to continue sleeping peacefully in my lap the whole time. We think that it was actually the family that owned and lived in the hotel that registered these complaints more because they saw us in the common area playing games rather than that we were actually making any considerable amount of noise. Luckily we were just about done so we finished up our game and went to bed.

The next day was a little bittersweet. Our vacation had finally come to an end. We’d had a really fun vacation with all of our family. It had been fun having time off from work and time away from home that we didn’t have to worry about all the same day-to-day activities we’re normally concerned about. However, we were very excited to finally be taking Sam home and get back to a normal routine. Sam had been very out of sorts since leaving and we would be glad to have our Sam back to normal. I think that’s the mark of a good vacation. Short enough that you’re sad to see it end, but long enough that you’re ready to get back to your regular life.

Luckily Eric still had a few more days off. So we went home and celebrated the New Year with Ryan and Taylor. We probably spent the better part of the next few days just hanging out with them and playing games and relaxing. It was a nice way to end a vacation before going back to real life.