A Sabbatical State

 - by Eric

I’m back-dating this post to fill out some major gaps in our poorly-kept family blog in 2013. While working at Adobe, once every five years, each employee is granted about a month of work off to do whatever they want,  whether it be a personal project, personal development, or extended vacation time with absolutely no expectation of availability from the company during the hiatus. It’s a fantastic idea, one that I fully endorse and support.

Usually these sabbaticals are taken in pursuit of some grand vacation or side project, but mine was a bit different. Instead of focusing on one solitary project, I split the time up into multiple weekly activities.

The first week consisted of dedicated family time with the 4th of July celebrations and everything going on with that. Nothing too exciting, but definitely a relaxing time to be had by all. During this time, I also started work on a fun little side project that I had been wanting to do for some time now. I never have enough time to play with the violin and enjoy music, so I thought I would make a cover music video, complete with a violin descant. A lot of brainstorming and initial work happened during this week, too.

The second week of the month focused on Scout Camp and swim lessons for the boys.  Being able to go to the pool every day and work with them to get comfortable in the water is something that means a lot to me given my storied past with learning to swim. And then of course in my new capacity as the Young Men’s president, I got to go up and have some fun supporting the boys working to get cool merit badges like shotgun shooting, boating, and aeronautics.

I wish I could have gone skeet shooting, too!

The third week was dedicated to recording, filming, and editing my cover video of Backwards by Matthias. I had been following his work for some time on YouTube, and I was really impressed with his skill and desire to create clean, enjoyable content. This video ended up encapsulating many aspects of expression from my life, including my time spent in Taiwan and attempts to broaden my creative horizons with video editing. All in all, I’d say it was quite the cathartic experience. You can watch the end result here:

The fourth week consisted entirely of a family reunion and trip to Disneyland. It was a lot of fun to include Daniel in this trip as well as let Sam enjoy the experience more as a four-year-old. I am sure we will have a whole separate blog post about that experience, so I won’t go into many details here. Suffice it to say, everyone in the family had a lot of fun, and we are so very grateful that Granny and Grandpa Hansen made it all happen for us!

The last week of July and first part of August was spent with more Young Men’s President duties. I spent all day Monday and Tuesday providing Priesthood support at the Young Women’s Camp up at Mutual Dell. I’ve never been so involved in YW Camp before, so I didn’t really know what I was getting myself into. The girls seemed to enjoy how dedicated us adult males were in learning how to make wristbands and painting rocks during craft time, and we all had fun trying to outperform each other with progressively unique tricks on the zipline.

The YW sure know how to do breakfast!

On Wednesday, we loaded up the truck and packed up my car with bikes and boys to head down to Moab, UT for the high adventure. It was an incredible three days of biking, rafting down the Colorado, and hiking up canyons. It also justified the purchase of my new mountain bike in June, so now I have less of an excuse to get out on the awesome trails around our neighborhood.

Troop 1336 hiking up a canyon in Moab, UT

All in all, it was a very hectic month, and while a lot of it was spent in either family activities or volunteering efforts, I feel like it was time well spent.


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!

Quick Catch-up post (Vacations, Reunions, and Moving)

 - by Eric

So…yeah, it’s been awhile, I know. We haven’t written not for lack of trying, but more for lack of time. I’ve also been really hesitant to write in fear of divulging too much information. I’ll give a recap of the events in this post and then will let Brittny write the novel-lengthed version later.

The fact of the matter is, we’ve been looking for a change. In my work, I had been feeling like my talents and abilities were suffering from atrophy and under-utilization. Since I knew I wanted to progress in my career path, I feared that if I stayed in my current position for too long that I would lose familiarity with the skills necessary for me to continue progressing. At the same time, the contract on our condo was coming to a close, and the landlord said that they wouldn’t except a month-to-month arrangement. We also weren’t any closer to going to China.

So I started looking at various opportunities. Picking up from where we left off in June, we had a chance to go see our good friends the Phillips in San Antonio, TX. It was really good to see them and also get a chance to check out Cody’s workplace, USAA. They have an excellent campus as their main Headquarters are located there in San Antonio. The city was very interesting in that it is a very large place in terms of population, but it doesn’t feel crowded at all. Everything is just fifteen minutes away, whether it be Sea World, the commercial district, or some other friend’s residential area. Brittny and Sam were able to accompany me in my interview, which was really nice for me and them. We spent the whole weekend, and Sam got reacquainted with Chandler. They became fast friends.

Brittny and Sam at Sea World

The very next week I had scheduled an interview in San Diego, CA. Since that wasn’t too far off from Thousand Oaks, we decided to make it another family trip. Sam was sort of a pickle on the car ride down, but he got tuckered out after ripping our portable DVD player to shreds!

Our little techie!

Sam’s finally at a stage where he can stand to be around other people, even if his parents aren’t there. This is a very good development, especially in the eyes of his grandparents. His grandpa Anderson had recently decided to raise chickens, and Sam loved chasing the “bock bocks” around the yard. Again, another fun trip, but very tiring.

Not to mention the fact that we still were not decided on what we wanted to do when the end of our contract came around, so before we left for the annual family reunions, we had to pack up our house and put everything into storage. What a chore! Especially since we didn’t know where we were going to end up at that point! Not to mention my work laptop was going on the fritz:

My screen did this almost daily!

So off we went to Wyoming for an Anderson reunion, camping at a KOA one of Brittny’s relatives owned. It was a fun time to meet more of Brittny’s family and show off our cute little boy! He really enjoyed the swimming pool there:

After that weekend, we pretty much went straight back to California, but this time for a Hansen family reunion. First, just the immediate Hansen’s got together and went off to Disneyland for an entire day. That was a lot of fun, but unfortunately I don’t have my video camera right now, so I can’t upload pictures or videos from it. It will probably be its own post, anyway.

For the rest of the week, we had a Lyon (my mother’s side) family reunion, which was a ton of fun. Sam got to play with most of his cousins, and Brittny got better acquainted with my huge family. Brittny also took initiative and helped out with organizing some of the events–mainly a series of “minute-to-win-it” type of games. She did really well, and it was fun to get more involved.

One of our favorite days that week was going to the beach. About halfway through the day, someone thought it would be a fun idea to bury Sam halfway in the sand, and the funny thing is that he enjoyed it! I think he enjoyed the attention more than anything else, but it was cool to see him have such a fun time.

Coool Dude!

All these vacations took us well into August, and after all was said and done, we had to come home–that being a temporary apartment set up in the basement of my parents’ new condo in South Jordan, UT. Since we still didn’t know where we were going to end up, there wasn’t really much we could do. We are so grateful that my parents let us move in temporarily while we try to find more permanent accommodations. Fortunately, many new opportunities have arisen in recent weeks, and hopefully I will have more good news for you soon. Until then, back to the grind…

Hansen Extended Family Reunion

 - by Eric

Well, I guess it’s time for the short post, as I usually have less to say. Today was the extended Hansen family reunion picnic. It wasn’t nearly as long or elaborate as the other reunion we went to, but it was still a good experience, of course.

The picnic was made up of branches of families from my great grandfather, Heber Hansen. There was a tally of blood descendants from each branch of the family, and it appeared to be a rather large number. Most branches of the family had about 40-50 descendants, and one came in at 132. A part of me felt like this reunion was for the older generation, not so much myself.

The crazy thing is that I discovered yet another relative who works at Omniture the same as I do. Who would have guessed that three close relatives could end up working for the same company in such a short time span?

The most fun of this adventure today was by far the time we got to spend with our nieces and nephews. We were smarter this time around and took some great pictures and video clips. As I said before, this reunion picnic was more geared toward the older generation, and so the kids made their own fun.

The boys loved climbing trees and pretending they were in a fort of some sort, while the little girls liked to pull Brittny to and fro, playing what they call, “Princesses and Magical Things!” And in the meantime, my niece Emmie did the cutest dance while she would eat her “YummY!” food!

Note: I know the video is sideways and the sound is messed up, but I will try to fix that later.

Family Reunion!

 - by Brittny

*I know, Eric does a MUCH better job of writing nice concise blog posts and mine go on for eternity. I’m sorry! I write as much so that I can remember things as to keep people updated, and I want the details for myself. Plus, I like sharing the stories. So, sorry if my posts are too long for your taste. Stay tuned for Eric’s if you enjoy the shorter variety :) *

Last week was the Lyon Family Reunion (Eric’s mom’s side of the family). It was SO much fun! We got home and kicked ourselves for not taking any pictures while we were there but if we can round some up from family members we’ll definitely be sure to post them here.

The reunion was up in Fruitland, Utah at a little place called Reid Ranch. It is WAAAY out there. We drove for 12 miles on a dirt road just to get to the ranch. We were very glad to have our Corolla as we know that our awesome 1994 Cadillac would have just started losing pieces as we went along. It was totally worth it though. The ranch was tucked away in the mountains and just far away from everything so that we could just enjoy being with family without the distractions of having a city close by. We didn’t have cell phone service or Internet the entire time we were there, but I was pleasantly surprised at how little I missed it! It was really relaxing to not have to worry about keeping up with emails and phone calls.

So, here are some highlights of the reunion (in no particular order):

  • Three days of not having to cook, clean or go to work! Three days spent in the sunshine doing fun things with family to boot! Does it get any better than that?
  • Our nieces were really cute and insisted on giving me flowers practically every time I turned around. I swear I got more flowers in those three days than in the rest of my life combined! Adelaide (4), told me that I should take them and put them in my vase (because, obviously I brought a vase camping with me…) I felt bad when they’d ask me where my flowers were, but I honestly had nowhere to put them! Plus, a day or so into the reunion we realized that I was decidedly allergic to those flowers, so I got even better at quickly “misplacing” them. But it was so cute. We have the cutest nieces EVER! I’m really lucky because Eric has been the favorite uncle for a long time (obviously, how could anyone not love Eric?) and I think I get to basically be cool by association. In fact, it was one of the first things that really made me fall in love with Eric was when we went to his sister’s house and I got to watch how his nieces and nephews adore him. Plus, our younger nieces still mostly remember me from our wedding where they thought I looked like a princess, and when you’re a little girl who’s cooler than a princess?
  • Our nieces and nephews in general were a blast to be with. Since we don’t have any kids of our own yet we can spend time just spoiling them and being a fun uncle and aunt to be around. It was really fun to watch Natalie (2) find books and bring the longest books possible back to her mom over and over to read… then being sent back to find a more reasonable book (like Curious George). Our niece Emily was also hysterical to watch. She’s extraordinarily articulate and easy to understand. And she’s very particular about how she wants things done. She’s just hysterical to watch, but kinda difficult to accurately describe if you haven’t met her before.
  • I finally got to meet Danielle Eaton – our oldest niece, the last person in the Hansen family (meaning Eric’s siblings and their families) that I had yet to meet! Of course, there are two more additions coming this summer so I won’t be able to maintain that status for very long, but it still feels good to be able to say that I’ve at least met everyone in the family that Eric has met.
  • On Friday night there was a Lyon family dance that Eric DJ-ed for. For those of you who didn’t know, Eric used to DJ professionally for stake dances and such in high school and freshman year of college – so he knows what he’s doing. He had put together a really great mix of music that any DJ could be proud of. I then came in and dumbed down the playlist to include things like, the Hokey Pokey, the Bunny Hop, Cha Cha Slide etc. that all the little kids could enjoy too. The dance was a total success. Eric did a fabulous job of taking his really great songs that he had picked out (from all different eras too, since we had ALL age groups from 0-70 years old included) and successfully mixing them in with the dorky songs I made him add. The kids loved it, the adults loved it and at 10:30pm when we were supposed to be stopping the dance Auntie Mo insisted that we continue on to 11pm. The dance actually ended up dying not too long afterwards, since we’d played all of the music that Eric had prepared for and then some. But I think it ended really well. Eric was a bit frustrated that the end of the dance was a little anti-climatic but in a way it was good. At 10:30, people were getting tired but still having way too much fun to wind down and go. After a few requests kinda flopped most people were trying to get their kids to bed but still had the high of a great dance. If nothing else, I had a blast just watching Eric. He did an awesome job with the playlist and really got into getting out there and dancing when he was able to just let the playlist run. He’s an awesome dancer — I love watching him dance, and even more so, dancing with him. Dancing together is something that we just don’t get the opportunity to do as much as we would like, but it makes it so much sweeter when we can. For me, the highlight of the dance was just as we were getting ready to pack up and most people had left, Eric turned the speakers down way low and put on our song (“Everything” by Lifehouse) and we danced all by ourselves. You’d think that after a year of being married we’d be a little less into each other, but I love that man SO much. In all honesty, that was my favorite moment of the entire reunion. Eric is the most wonderful man I’ve ever met and I’m so grateful every day to be married to him.
  • We had a chance to do archery and found out that I am not the best archer – surprise! We had a blast though. I think the funnest part was watching our little nephew Bruce (3) trying to shoot arrows and get really excited about it. He’s just adorable in general so it was fun to watch. I also enjoyed his comment to his older brother, “Nico looks like Link!” (can you tell we have some gamers in our family?)
  • Playing Dunkball with some of our nieces and nephews. Ok, so maybe it’s not the most Christlike game, but it’s a ton of fun. The rules are pretty simple. All you need is a pool and a ball. The players are split into two teams with each team having a side of the pool as their goal (we play in the shallow end and play the width of the pool for fairness). The object of the game is to have a member of your team touch your goal side of the pool with the ball. This particular game was a little difficult since the ball we were playing with was much larger than the normal dunkball ball (the normal ball is a splash bomb, about the size of a baseball, but super squishy so you can essentially hide it in your fist. The ball we were playing with was a little kids squishy basketball, so it was at least double the size). Since the ball was so large we could practically have all 8 players holding on to a piece of the ball at the same time. With no “jump ball” rules this just made for a lot of pushing, pulling and grabbing. Most of the time we had the entirety of both teams as part of the skirmish for the ball. At the end of the game we were exhausted but it was a lot of fun.
  • Camping! There weren’t enough rooms in the lodge for us to have a room so Eric and I brought our tent and camped outside. It was really funny to us how many people felt bad for us and commented on it, but we really enjoyed it! We really like camping, and we have a great tent and air mattress so it wasn’t even like we were roughing it too bad. Plus, it was awesome to be the envy of some of our nephews who thought it was THE coolest thing ever that we got to sleep in a tent. How do you compete with that?
  • Trick night. The family had an evening where anyone who had something fun they could do to share could participate. They call it trick night because what you have to share doesn’t have to be quite to the “talent” level, just something fun to share. For example, Dad Hansen got up and “cleaned his eyeballs” (pretended to pop them out of his head and clean them in his mouth, then put them back in his head). We had lots of displays of double-jointedness and eyeball tricks. We also had acts like our niece Natalie (2) getting up and singing “I am a Child of God” or doing somersaults. Bruce (3) got up and showed off a picture of dinosaurs he had colored. Our nephews Jonathan and Derek (both 12) got up and did a skit. All of the acts were really fun to watch. It was especially fun because participants didn’t feel like they had to have a super talent to share, just a trick of some sort.
  • We had a campfire one night and just sat around for a long time singing songs and having fun. Pat, one of Eric’s aunts, had her 70th birthday earlier in the month and her kids had put together a tribute to her. They’d written a song about her, made a little scrapbook and gotten a cake. There’s also a family song that Mom Hansen and one of the women from Eric’s home ward had written years and years ago. The parents (Eric’s parents generation) loved it and insisted on singing it. Their kids decided when they were younger that they hated the song and have sorta formed a tradition of loving to hate it. I guess it still promotes family bonding… just maybe not in the way they’d intended :) One of the aunts had carried around her copy of the song in her purse for the past who knows how many years and so Dad Hansen used some music composing software on Eric’s computer to transcribe it and print out copies for the family to have for the future. Leave it to Eric and Dad Hansen to find an excuse to play on the computer during the family reunion ;)
  • While Eric and his dad were playing with their computers I got to go help out with some crafts that they had put together for the kids. For whatever reason I feel totally in my element helping out kids and working on projects like that. They had aprons for the kids to puffy paint which I helped out with the whole time. We miraculously got done with relatively few kids with paint on themselves, but those aprons were piled high! Some of the aprons had such huge globs of paint on them we couldn’t even hang them up without the paint running off of them! The other craft I thought was pretty creative. They used mens’ dress socks and filled them with dirt and grass seed. Then using rubber bands the kids could make heads, arms and bodies on their creatures and glue googly eyes on it. The idea is that it’s like a Chia pet. They go home and water this little creature they’ve made and hair will grow out of it! I thought it was a really cute idea.
  • Family Jeapordy. Dad Hansen and Eric’s sister Diane had put together a Jeapordy game that was all about their family history. Somehow, all of the parents had ended up on the same team so they had a MASSIVE advantage. One of the really fun parts was that they had some questions that were based on the Lyon family newsletter that goes out every 6 months so we got to hear trivia about the people who were actually there as well as the cool facts about ancestors. I’m really glad that I’ve really gotten to know a lot of the family in real life now so that the Lyon Times will have more context and be even more interesting to read in the future (it was fun to read before, but it was updates on people who I didn’t really know yet… except from the updates).

Of course, the real highlight of the reunion was just being with family. Really, there’s nothing in the world as great as being with people who you love and who love you too. We are so blessed to have such wonderful supporting family on both sides.