Category:Vacation’

California Thanksgiving

 - by Brittny

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Picture credit: Erik Hokom Photography

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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!

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.

Boxing Day and beyond

 - by Brittny

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hanging out and Haircuts

 - by Eric

Well, it is about time that I wrote a post and actually contributed to the blog. If you enjoy Brittny’s style of writing more, I am sorry. You will just have to make do with me :)

So while a lot has happened (Taylor’s wedding and other fun stuff), from what I can see, Brittny is planning on posting about that. One of the joys of having me write a post is that my concise nature generally means I can get the whole thing out in one sitting. Since those other topics are already reserved, I figured I would write about our recent vacations.

It just so happened that our family reunions coincided around the same beginning weeks in July. That made it really nice for me to get a good break from work. Omniture offered an incentive where you take 4 days off in a row and get a 5th day for free! I know, it sounds weird, but who am I to question more vacation time?!

So off we went to Bear Lake, UT for three days of fun in the sun and in a gianormous three story cabin. Imagine a house that can fit 48 people. Yeah, it was big and awesome. Big 65″ TV screens so we could hook up the Wii and play games, a theater room for movies, a playroom with astro-turf and an indoor basketball court, a pool table, a ping-pong table, and even an air hockey table. It was every little (and big) boy’s dream. We had a blast hanging out with the family at the beach.

Our nieces are so cute!

We also rented a wave-runner, which Brittny had never been on one before, surprisingly enough. The family warned her that I was a dare-devil with this things, but I promise I was nice. Besides, the ancient machines couldn’t even go fast enough to have any real fun!

Oh so cool!

So after three fun-packed day, we headed out to Wyoming for the wife’s side of the family. While on the drive up, we encountered the amazing country-side: a rainbow, full moon, and the sunset on the mountains beside it.

Beautiful!

We went to Jackson Hole and Star Valley, WY. After a crazy stormy night on the fourth of July, we spent a lot of time with the Anderson family. We played water-slide kickball, ate popsicles, and went geo-caching.

Sliding into home plate!

Sam’s sticky sweet-tooth

Geo-caching and mis-spelled road signs

All in all, it was an excellent week and a half of family fun and bonding! After we got back, though, we realized that Sam was overdue for his first haircut!

All Business up front

Party in back! MULLET!

Here’s the after-shot:

Much better

Active Andersons: Part 5 – The Rest of the Trip

 - by Brittny

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

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

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

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

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

Active Andersons: Part 2 – Christmas!

 - by Brittny

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

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

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

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

Active Andersons: Part 1 – The Drive Out

 - by Brittny

Hi, it’s us again! We just got back from a 10-hour long drive from Thousand Oaks, CA, where my family lives. Eric had a slow night at work last night, so he thought he would multi-task and start updating y’all on our comings and our goings. However, things got busier and we went to bed early so I’m finishing it up today. Even still, all the credit for the title, organizing what we wanted to write about and all of the pictures/videos lies directly with Eric.

You’re probably sorry he didn’t write the post as well and spare you from my uber-lengthy posts :P He has declared that this post is way too long (seeing as it spans 4 pages when pasted into Word) and won’t let me post it all as one post, so it will be divided into several different posts. Sorry that it no longer has the continuity of a single post, but maybe it will be easier to read in smaller chunks. I’ll publish them as each chunk is completely filled out with pictures/videos from our Christmas adventures :)

So we left two days before Christmas with little sleep (read: we slept for about 3 hours the night before and hadn’t had much sleep in the previous week either) and arrived pretty exhausted in California late that night. The roads were a bit slick but manageable until we got through St. George and we hit a little bit of traffic as we got into LA (no surprise there) but otherwise we were able to get through without any trouble at all. We would have taken longer, but fortunately my dad was able to help us circumvent really bad traffic in Las Vegas (due to construction – who decides that the weeks around Christmas are a good time to do major construction in the middle of Las Vegas??). It was really funny to take that detour though as we had our GPS on and trying to take us to the I-15, while we were on the other hand taking a bunch of smaller highways to go around the dreaded traffic jam. It spent almost our entire detour trying to get us to turn around and go back. We didn’t want to just turn it off, so instead we spent about 30 minutes listening to the GPS say “Drive point five miles then exit right… exit right… recalculating… drive one point three miles then exit right…” Someday I think someone needs to rewrite the programming of the GPS to just get really snarky and after so many attempts of getting you back on its route have it just get fed up with you and say “Fine, drive off a cliff for all I care!”

View Larger Map

Our very creative route through Vegas

The whole family was home for the holiday – including my sister Taylor’s fiance Ryan Lockwood. They have both moved to California from now until their wedding and for the foreseeable future. I think they were most excited that they’ve finally set a place and a date for that wedding – May 23rd in the Palmyra, New York Temple (Ryan is from that area, and originally so is my family so it’s pretty cool on a lot of levels). I’m really excited for them, and especially excited to finally get to go back to New York, I haven’t been back since April 2000.

Aww, Taylor and Ryan, squishy!

It was the first time we’ve actually stayed at my family’s home since we got married. We’d seen my family a lot as they’ve come up to Utah a lot of times, and when we went camping in Carpinteria with them but hadn’t stayed at our house. It was fun to get to be there as a married couple now, since the last time we’d stayed there together we were engaged – in fact, it was the night before our wedding!