30 December 2009

Danielle's Wedding and the End of Winter Break

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.

26 December 2009

Boxing Day and beyond

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.

25 December 2009


Eric and I realized that this was probably our last Christmas for a very long time that we could go to bed early on Christmas Eve and sleep in on Christmas Day as we didn't have any bicycles to assemble and Sam isn't yet old enough to wake up at 4am excited for Christmas morning. We were really excited to take full advantage of this. However, since we stayed up late on Christmas Eve watching Tuesdays with Morrie and we were going to visit Eric's Grandma Hansen at noon with his parents... that didn't so much happen.

We set our alarm for 9am Christmas morning, which didn't exactly thrill us since it was 3am already.  However, the 5 year old in me woke up before that all excited that it was Christmas morning. It was kinda silly especially since I'd bought all my own Christmas presents so it wasn't like I had anything that was going to surprise me. But I was so excited to see how Sam reacted to his Christmas presents and to see if I'd done a good job with Eric's presents that I woke up early. I decided that the best Christmas present I could give Eric was a little bit more sleep, so I turned off my alarm clock and snuck out of bed.

Eric's family tradition is to make cinnamon rolls on Christmas morning. Since I'd already had my culinary adventure for the week I had Eric buy some Pillsbury cinnamon rolls that I could just throw in the oven. So I got those all in the oven and baked them so that at least I could wake Eric up to some yummy cinnamon rolls.

Once we were all awake and ready to start Christmas morning we came out to the front room and turned on our webcam so we could do Christmas morning with my family. Kind of silly, but it was more fun than just having the three of us opening gifts on our own. Plus, my family enjoyed watching Sam open all of his presents.

Sam's Christmas stocking ready to be opened

We have video of Christmas morning that I might try to convince Eric to put together for another blog post, but for now you'll just have to know that we had a good time. I had needed a new laptop so we decided for Christmas to get a new laptop for Eric and I would inherit his old one. Sam's big gift from us was a set of blocks, which has been used extensively by him since then.

This is Sam with a toy that he got that lights up and makes noises. Yeah, I regretted the purchase even before I made it through the checkout line, but he loves it :P

Once all the gifts were opened we started to hustle to get all dressed and things cleaned up before Mom and Dad Hansen came over. The house was still a mess when they got here but we enjoyed having them over for a minute and letting them see all the fun Sam was having with his new toys (and anything else he could get his hands on of course :P)

Then it was off to the retirement home where Eric's Grandma Hansen lives. Although she lives less than 15 blocks from our apartment it was the first time we'd made it to visit her with Sam. I'm so glad we went, Sam was quite the hit at the retirement home! At lunch he just looked at people and made noises and all the people just ate it up. He put on a very good show and we got so many comments from the ladies there about how adorable he was. Definitely a good way to make some people feel good on Christmas :)

One of the really cool things at the retirement home was this gingerbread village that the residents had built. You have to see it full size to really get how cool it was. But they had put this whole thing together with gingerbread and candy, it was spectacular!

After the retirement home we raced home to pack up our car. We were heading to Kaysville that afternoon and then on to various destinations after that. We wouldn't be getting back for a week and we had hardly even started packing. So we quickly threw things into suitcases and tried to at least slightly manage the mess in our front room. Then it was into the car and off to Kaysville!

We spent that afternoon/early evening at Eric's sister Katrina's house. It was a nice relaxing evening playing games and hanging out with family. We played a game called Imaginiff which was really fun. It's a game of really random questions that you have to answer about other players in the game. One example was "Imagine if Mike were a type of makeup, which of the following would he be?" and we all had to pick whether he would be lipstick, nail polish, concealer, blush or mascara. It was pretty hysterical to see the things people picked.

After dinner and everything was done at Katrina's we hopped back in our car to head up to my grandparents' house in Millville (just outside of Logan). It was a long day so we were happy to be done traveling and ready to go to sleep for the night. We spent some time visiting with my grandparents and my cousin Todd. Then we happily collapsed into bed.

Stay tuned for more of our Christmas break adventures coming up!

24 December 2009

Christmas Eve 2009

I know I'm a bit late to be jumping on the blogging about Christmas bandwagon, but it's been pretty busy around here up until now so you'll just have to deal with the fact that I'm a little late and back-dating this post :P

Did you know that Christmas is made specifically for little kids? There is nothing that will get you into the spirit of Christmas like having a baby in the house - even if they're too young to understand what's happening. It was so much fun having Samuel around for this Christmas. He's adorable and we love having him.

We trade off which family we spend Christmas with each year and this year was a year with the Hansens. That was nice because it meant that we didn't have to go very far! Mom & Dad Hansen are on a mission in Salt Lake City so we got to be with family without having to travel.

We started off on Christmas Eve at Eric's brother Mike's house having a traditional family dinner (you can read about my culinary escapade for this meal here). It was so much fun to have lots of family together. Especially with lots of little kids running around. Sam wasn't real sure about having so many new faces around, especially since he's definitely going through the separation anxiety phase. However, randomly, the one person he took too immediately was his cousin Bruce.

This isn't from Christmas Eve, but it was the best picture I could find of Sam and Bruce hanging out together

I'm not sure why Sam picked Bruce to be his best friend, but he would go immediately for him and give him hugs and just loved being around him. Totally atypical for Sam, if any one else tried to approach him he was extremely wary of them and definitely wouldn't let them hold him or touch him. But it was really fun to watch them bond.

After having dinner with the family and spending the evening with them we drove home to get ready for bed. My family has a tradition of getting new pajamas for each person and wearing them for Christmas Eve and Christmas day. So we got new pajamas for Sam -

I don't think he was as excited about his cute Christmas pajamas as I was, but I thought he was adorable! Since we couldn't be with my family this year we called them up on Skype and webcammed the rest of Christmas Eve with them. We even watched my mom's seminary Christmas lesson via Skype! It was a fun way to get to include them in our Christmas.

We then worked on cleaning up some of the mess from making so many trifles. Eric rocked Sam to sleep and started the movie Tuesdays with Morrie. I'd read the book before but never seen the movie, and I thought they did a great job with the movie. It was a great way to spend Christmas Eve, all in our pajamas, on the couch, watching a really great movie.  Thanks Eric, that was a great idea!

After the movie was over it was much later than we'd intended up staying up (it was about 3am), so we all went back to our room and went to bed.

I'll post about Christmas day and the rest of our Christmas adventures later...

Christmas Eve Trifles

I'm way behind on my blogging, but I figured I'd jump back in by sharing my Christmas Eve culinary adventure.

We started our celebrations with Eric's brother Mike's family on Christmas Eve. I was in charge of making a dessert for the meal and I decided to make trifle. I should note that Mike's wife Marianela is an *incredible* chef, so I'm always a little bit daunted when bringing a dish to her house. However, trifle was going to be a slam dunk. It's my favorite Christmas food (my mom is originally from England and trifle is a traditional British dessert so we make it every year) so I was excited to be able to make it for my in-laws. It's super easy and I've successfully made it on my own every year since we've been married and with my mom every year for as long as I can remember.

If you've never had trifle before it's a pretty simple dessert. You take pound cake and cut it into small cubes and put it at the bottom of a dish, add some fruit and then pour liquid jello over it. Put it in the fridge to let it set. Then make instant pudding and pour that in a nice layer on top of the jello, let that set. Top it off with whipped cream (we always make the whipped cream from scratch because it's much better that way). Our favorite one to do for Christmas is to make it with raspberry jello (with frozen raspberries in the jello) and pistachio pudding. It looks really nice and Christmas-y all put together because you have red and green and white, and it's really yummy.

This isn't exactly how my trifles usually look, but it's the closest picture I could find

Eric told me that there could be as many as 30 people at dinner and I had no idea how that translated into how many trifles I'd need to make. I decided to play it safe and made 7 (yeah, even for 30 people I went way over board, but I like trifle and I didn't want to run out). I also wanted to make sure I had plenty of time for all the layers to set up properly so I made sure that I woke up early in the morning to get them started.

Unfortunately, my jello would not set. I had my trifles in the fridge by 10am with the jello waiting to set up and by 3:30pm the jello still wasn't set (I even used the quick set method which was only supposed to take 30 - 90 minutes to set up). In desperation I cleared out space in our freezer and tried to get them to freeze set up. It sorta worked, at least enough to pour the pudding into them (luckily pudding sets up much faster). Unfortunately the jello still wasn't super set so all the layers got mixed together. I was pretty upset since I'd spent all day on them and they didn't turn out right. Luckily they still tasted good. Of course, the 30 people we thought were going to be there, was actually more like 15... and most of those were under the age of 12. So we still have about 5 trifles in our fridge... although it's probably time to get rid of them now.

In case you were wondering, what I think happened was that I added too much water. Not more than the directions call for, but since I added frozen raspberries in with the jello, I'm guessing that the raspberries melted, adding extra liquid which kept the jello from setting up. Oh well, lesson learned for next time!

30 November 2009


Yes, I am fully aware of how belated this post is. Christmas took a lot of my time in December so I'm just getting around to blogging about Thanksgiving. Oh well, better late than never right?

For Thanksgiving this year we were with the Andersons down in California. Since we'd just had our first bit of real cold and snow here in Utah we were really excited to head to a warmer climate :)

As those of you who have been following our blog know, Eric had been working an awful schedule of 6pm - 2am. Well, after Daylight Savings Time ended his schedule changed... to 7pm - 3am. As much as I had hated his schedule before, this was worse. We slowly got so mixed up that we were going to bed at 8am and waking up just in time for Eric to go to work. It got us all wacky. But just before Thanksgiving I'd had enough. It just wasn't working for our family and it was making it hard to make it to church on Sundays. More importantly, the reason Eric was on the night schedule was to take Chinese calls and he'd only received one... since August. Since this was pretty ridiculous I proposed to Eric that he offer to switch to a normal schedule and just stay on call during the nights so that we could get our schedule all worked out.

When Eric went to get approval for this change we found out that he was supposed to have switched to working 5pm - 1am rather than 7pm - 3am, which would have been a totally different story for our family. However Eric's manager approved our proposed solution we were able to start making that transition over Thanksgiving. Eric's last day working the super late shift was Thursday the week before Thanksgiving.

This was such a blessing because it meant that we were able to be starting to be on normal hours while we were with my family. Plus, it meant that we had all of Thanksgiving break to transition before Eric went back to work. In retrospect, I'm really glad that Eric got the time change mixed up because otherwise we never would have made the switch to him being on call at nights and that really was a good change to make.

Anyways, our drive down was actually pretty good. We drove down with Taylor and Ryan Lockwood (my sister and brother-in-law) after a trip to Tucanos - a little bit belated for my birthday, but we wanted to use my birthday club free meal before the end of the month! Sam slept pretty much the whole way, which we attribute to a lot of prayers on the part of my family.

Our time in California wasn't super eventful. We spent some of our time letting Sam chase around my dad's chickens. Yes, my dad now has chickens. And no, my family does not live in a particularly rural part of Southern California. But earlier this year he got it into his head that he wanted to raise some chickens in our backyard. So, he built a chicken coup next to our Sport Court and found a website where he could get mail order chickens. As Dave Barry would say, no I'm not making this up. Apparently you can order chickens and they throw them into a box right after they hatch and overnight them to your house. And then you have chickens. It's been really funny to watch my family's adventures with chickens. For example, one day my mom came into the front room to find all of the chickens laying on the floor staring at the blank TV. They're as bad as her kids!

Anyways, we also spent some time going to the beach where we got some really cute pictures of Sam. The whole album is here but I thought I'd include a few highlights -

Serious Sam
Sam took this sand stuff very seriously, actually this is a very common look on his face

I want it!
Sam really wanted to get in the water. No surprise there! He loves the water!

I think we can safely say that Sam enjoyed the beach

We spent Thanksgiving just at home. I think that's the first time we've had a Thanksgiving dinner without having a bunch of other families from the ward or neighborhood or extended family there. While we always enjoy having guests for Thanksgiving, it was nice to be reunited as a family. It's weird to think that our immediate family is now getting big enough to have an "extended family" Thanksgiving with just us!

One cool trick that Sam learned for Thanksgiving was how to gobble. Eric would put his finger up to Sam's mouth and wiggle it back and forth to make Sam sound like a turkey. It was pretty funny and totally appropriate for Thanksgiving. Sam really enjoyed it too and liked showing off his new trick.

For the most part our time in California was pretty low key - which isn't to say it wasn't fun. It was a lot of fun but we spent the time just hanging out and enjoying family rather than doing big things. In my opinion that's the best kind of vacation. We played board games and nerf guns and Wii and visited together. Hooray for family!  I have a bunch of video that I'm working on editing down to a reasonable posting length, but I've decided it's just time to get this post posted and we can work on the video later.

Our drive back to Utah was as successful as our drive to California. Sam slept really well almost the entire way. Re-adjusting to normal life the next day was no picnic, but it was worth it for the fun we had in California. Thanks Anderson Family for a fun time together!

16 November 2009

Wow, I guess it's November now...

I swear once upon a time I thought that once I was a full-time stay-at-home mom I'd have lots of time to keep up with blogging. Turns out, I was wrong. I don't even have time to keep up with dishes! Go figure. I guess Sam takes up more time and attention than I had counted on. But I love every minute of it, even if you don't get to see much of those minutes...

Anyways, I figured it was time for a quick update on October... ready Go!

At the beginning of last month my family came up to Utah for General Conference and to celebrate my dad's 50th birthday! We had a lot of fun with them just hanging out and going up to my grandparents house. I wish we lived closer to them because I truly love spending time with my family, but of course, our future plans are more geared towards moving to the other side of the planet. Oh well, it just makes me all the more grateful for Skype! Here's a fun picture of my dad reading a story to Sam and my cousin Nicolas -

He's reading them my favorite story from when I was little The Piggy in the Puddle

You may have heard that Adobe purchased Omniture and a lot of people have wondered what that has meant for Eric. Basically it doesn't change a whole lot as far as the day to day goes. Eric was presented with an offer from Adobe that pretty well matched what he had at Omniture so nothing real different there. Unfortunately we're still waiting for the new girl to finish training so we can get him on normal hours. If my estimations are right that should be before the beginning of the new year, but no guarantees on that. We are still looking at moving to China but things have been put on hold with the acquisition, so we're still here in Utah for the forseeable future :)

Halloween was pretty uneventful for us this year. Eric was stuck at work from 6pm - 8am on Thursday night (yes, I am counting down minutes until he's off this stupid schedule) so, needless to say we didn't make it to the morning portion of the Omniture Halloween extravaganza (they go ALL out every year, it's a blast). We did make it for some of the afternoon, but Sam was pretty tired so we didn't stay long.

On actual Halloween we were still recovering a little bit from Thursday/Friday's late night. However, Eric and I were able to leave Sam with Taylor and Ryan (thanks again guys!!) while we went to the temple. What better way to celebrate the day of the dead than by serving them? It was a really nice way to spend that evening together. Sam's been having separation anxiety lately which has made it more difficult to spend time with just the two of us, but it definitely makes it all the more special when we can.

Of course, we did dress up for Halloween. I was feeling rather uncreative so I bought a witch's hat and paired it with some black clothes and called it good. Eric decided to go as a Mac that had crashed, although we didn't really have time to expand on that costume either so we just made him a shirt with this on it:

However, we did have some fun dressing up Sam. We had wanted to dress him up as a puppy because he does a lot of puppy-ish things. He likes panting, and making little whimpering sounds that really sound like a puppy. And the way he crawls after us just reminds us of a little puppy. However, I had a hard time finding a puppy costume in his size (seriously, I kept finding them in sizes 3-6months... and 12-18months... and he wasn't going to fit in either :( ). So finally the week of Halloween I found a monkey costume at Walmart that was really cheap and decided that it would be good enough. Then that week Woot had a woot off. At the end of the woot off they sold woot off monkeys... and we knew that we had to modify Sam's costume a little...

Spiderpig, spiderpig, does whatever a spiderpig does

Thanks to Taylor for her help finishing off the cape so that he could have a woot cape to go with his costume :) If you want to see more pictures of Sam in his Halloween costume we have a whole album of them on his facebook fan page.

My birthday was the day after Halloween and since it was a Sunday it was a pretty quiet event this year. Sam and I went to church in the morning (Eric was sick from so little sleep during the week so he didn't make it), and then we had some friends over for dinner in the evening. It was really fun though! Taylor and I made Chicken Fettuccine Alfredo that was absolutely amazing. Seriously, if you are looking for a good recipe, I can't recommend that one highly enough. It was our first attempt at fettuccine and the only thing I was sad about was that my tummy wasn't big enough to hold more. Taylor also made me a raspberry cake with chocolate filling. I'd been excited for it since she made it for her birthday back in August... if that gives you an idea of how good it was :)

Eric gave me a sewing machine for my birthday - so that I could make the aforementioned woot cape :) I've had a couple of mending projects but I'm now looking for some simple holiday type projects to work on. Simple being the operative word since I really don't have much sewing experience, but I really want to make use of my new machine! If anyone has any suggestions please let me know!

As far as Sam goes (and we all know that he is really the reason most people read our blog :) ) he's growing up fast! He's 8 months now. He crawls like a maniac and is starting to stand on his own! I would guess that he'll be walking by the end of the month at this rate, but I may just be an overly proud first time parent :) He is very talkative - especially in Relief Society when I'm trying to keep him quiet. Does anyone have any good recommendations for how to teach an 8 month old to be quiet in church? He's not crying or mad so I don't feel like taking him out of the meeting is necessarily the right option, but he jabbers loudly (and sometimes makes happy yells) that are a bit disruptive.  If I take him out of the meeting it seems like that just teaches the wrong lesson that if you make noise you get to leave the meeting. The only thing I could come up with is covering his mouth or saying "shh" but that doesn't seem to do much. Am I being over-ambitious to try and teach this to an 8 month old? Anyways, he's super cute and we're so grateful to have him in our family!

For the most part things have been pretty quiet. Sam and I are getting a little stir crazy so if anyone is looking for a friend let me know! We're still working on not mauling other children but Sam seems to get a big kick out of being around other kids, and I'm getting pretty good at keeping him from pushing them over or poking their eyes out :)

15 October 2009

Splish splash

Sam LOVES taking baths. He has loved the water from the first time we gave him a full bath after his umbilical cord fell out. This past week he discovered that if you hit the water with your hands... it makes big splashes! It's been a lot of fun for him.

When you combine this new discovery and love of the bathtub with Sam's increasing mobility... you get the following picture:

Although, he might want to talk to his Uncle Jayson about what happens if you jump into the bathtub when you're not ready for bathtime...

12 October 2009

"You have Tortellini?!!"

Most of you don't know the background to the title of this post, so I'll need to back up a little bit and give you a Hansen Family history lesson...

Once upon a time, in a land far far away... or possibly just in Provo about 2 1/2 years ago.... Eric and I were engaged. Since we enjoyed spending time together, we would get together after classes every night and make dinner together. One night Eric was over at my apartment rummaging through my freezer for something we could make. Suddenly he pulls out a bag. With a look on his face that could mean that we'd just told him today was Christmas, he says "you have tortellini?!" This was how I discovered one of Eric's favorite meals. He was so excited about it that at that moment I REALLY wished that the tortellinis in his hand were mine. Unfortunately, they were in fact my roommate's. However, you can bet that with a reaction like that I made sure to buy tortellini on my next grocery trip, and pretty much every grocery trip since.

Fast forward to today. Last night I once again made tortellini for dinner. Which meant there were leftovers for my lunch today. I made the mistake of making that lunch while Sam was hanging out in the front room with me. The following is what ensued...

Sorry the pictures aren't the highest quality... Sam wouldn't go more than a foot away from me and the tortellini.

Yeah, Samuel is definitely his father's son :P

11 October 2009

The Ferberish Method Followup

So for those of you who endured my novel length post on our sleep training methods with Sam you may be interested to know what became of that. I'm here to give you our current progress.

After Day 2 I noticed a trend for Sam. If I put him down within a couple minutes of when he fell asleep he would put up little or no fight and then sleep happily in his playpen for the duration of his nap. If I put him down before he fell asleep then he has something to say about it. If I waited too long after he fell asleep he would wake up and think that the 10 minutes he was asleep counted for his nap and be up for the next couple hours, albeit a little cranky. So I went with that and it's worked like a charm.

After going with this method I listened to this episode on No Cry Sleep Solutions from the podcast New Moms, New Babies (it's made by the same people who make my favorite pregnancy podcast - Pregtastic) and learned something interesting. Apparently the first 10-15 minutes of a baby's sleep cycle take off the edge of tiredness that the baby feels. So if the baby wakes up after that first little bit of sleep they feel like they've gotten rest, but their body hasn't really received all the benefits that they need. So, they won't feel like they need to go back to sleep but they'll still be cranky. (sorry, I know I've made that more confusing, I'd recommend listening to that podcast if that didn't make sense)

It was interesting to me because it totally explained what I was seeing with Samuel. After figuring this out I've been able to get Sam to take all of his naps in his playpen and at least start out every night in there as well (I'm still too lazy to make him sleep in there all night, it's way too easy to just let him sleep with me.

I'm much happier now knowing that our safety concerns with Sam are alleviated during naps. Our next step is working on sleeping through the night. Sam still sleeps nothing like unto through the night, but I don't know how much of that is a result of our wacky schedule and how much of it is poor training on our part. We make it work, but it'd be nice if we could clear that milestone too. I'm sure I'll let you know if/when that happens :)

19 September 2009

"Is he starting to sit yet?" "Uhm, starting?!"

Sorry for yet another back dated post. I need to do better at either deciding to omit videos and pictures from my posts completely or assigning the multimedia part of the posts immediately to Eric. Editor's note: Eric ended up putting the video together. Scroll down to see it.

This week we went in for Sam's 6 month check up. Unfortunately Sam had gotten pretty sick the day before and had been running a fever and had a very runny nose, so we weren't able to show off our baby as well as we would have liked. However, you wouldn't have known that he was sick by the way he was acting. He was flirting with the nurse and the doctor, and trying to pull himself up to standing when he was supposed to be laying on the scale. It was pretty fun to watch him. The one kinda good side about him being sick is that we didn't have him get his shots while we were there, so he left happy. Of course, it also means that we'll have to go back sometime this next week just for shots, ick.

Anyways, here are the current Sam stats -

Weight: 17lbs 9oz - 65 percentile
Height: 27 inches - 55 percentile
Head circumference: 45 cm - 90 percentile

It looks like his parents genes are finally starting to catch up to him and he's slowly falling down the growth charts. But it's not at all something to be worried about, he's still very healthy, just evening out to a size that would be more like we would expect for him.

The funniest part of the visit was definitely when the doctor asked us if Sam was starting to sit up on his own. Sam can sit right now for as long as he wants all by himself, and has been able to do that for a couple weeks now. He's crawling like a maniac and pulling himself up to standing. We thought we'd throw in a little bit of pictures and videos of him getting into everything.

The HD version of the video is available on youtube if you click here and then click the HD box in youtube's video player.

As far as everything else goes, we're just still doing the same sorts of things. Eric, unfortunately, will switch back to his ridiculous late night schedule (6pm - 2am) again this week until they can find someone to replace him. Anyone speak Chinese and know HTML/Javascript that's looking for a job? We're pretty bummed about the switch, but it doesn't negate his recent promotion or anything. Hopefully it won't last too long and they'll find someone to replace him soon.

In other news, things seem to be moving forward on the China opportunity. We've been helping figure out the logistics to get us over there, so it might not be too much longer. We'll keep you posted when we know more :)

02 September 2009

The Ferber-ish Method

Warning: Holy novel post Batman! Yes, this is one of my ridiculously long posts. Sorry. If you want the short version - we're working on sleep training Sam with my own weird methodology, but it seems to be going well. If you want to know more... read on :) And no, there's no rhyme or reason to which picture is where. I felt like if you were to read a post that was this long you deserved to get pictures, so I found lots of pictures of Sam sleeping and just threw them in. If sleep training was less exhausting for me then I might have ordered them... but it is what it is.

So for anyone who's been following my status on Facebook for the last couple of days, you know that we're in the fun phase of sleep training with Sam. I felt like I ought to explain what we're doing, why we're doing it and how we got here.

First some background. When Sam came home from the hospital, he wouldn't sleep in a crib, a bassinet, or ANYWHERE other than on someone's chest. I've had people say that we just needed to discipline him to do it or whatever, but luckily I had other people who were there who can verify that I wasn't just crazy... he would not sleep if we put him down. Since we couldn't sleep if he didn't sleep, we started just sleeping with him in our bed.

Don't be confused, Sam is sleeping with his Grandma at the hospital in this picture, not his mom!
We'd actually talked about it before Sam was born and decided that it didn't bother us if our kids were in our bed sometimes. We'd decided to have his bassinet in the room right next to the bed and didn't plan for him to be in our bed all the time, but if he ended up in our bed sometimes - no big deal. So even though he was in bed with us more than anticipated it wasn't like we'd gone from absolutely-no-way-he-was-in-bed-with-us to sleeping with us every night.

The first few months I just got used to doing work with Sam in the BabyBjorn and Eric would cuddle him to sleep each night and sleep with Sam on his chest. Then when Eric switched to working a ridiculously late shift I enjoyed having Sam sleep in our bed because it meant that I didn't have to go to bed alone. Sam was happy, I was happy, Eric was happy. In fact, we had grown to enjoying Sam in our bed. He wakes up so happy in the mornings and he's just so dang cute and fun to cuddle with!

At first we had problems with Sam sleeping through the night. But after a couple months I discovered that it was easiest for everyone if I just kept him in bed to nurse him rather than going out to the couch. It kept Sam from waking up too fully, and I didn't have to wake up as much, and it didn't wake Eric up at all. Recently we'd gotten to a point where Sam would go to bed with me at night while nursing, and he'd wake up around 7 or 8 am. I think he may have latched on a couple of times during the night, but since I still got to lay down and sleep... who cared?

So, if everyone had been happy with our previous arrangement why are we going through sleep training? The problem is that recently Sam has become much more mobile and strong. Before I'd been able to contain him on our bed by building fortresses of pillows around him. However, he's gotten strong enough that he can move those pillows out of the way, and he's fast at getting from the dead center of the bed to the edge. After he fell off onto the pillows I didn't want to keep him sleeping in our bed anymore. It's too scary to hear the faintest cry and have to sprint across the apartment hoping you get there in time.

Also, while he'd gotten better at napping in his crib at least once a day, that seems to have gone by the wayside with our recent move. Which meant that he was only napping during the day if I was with him, or if I left him on the bed by himself. Which meant I was napping instead of getting stuff done, or neurotically checking the baby monitor while he slept alone. Neither of which were great solutions.

So, I started doing my research on different sleep training methods. Obviously, I've been more into the attachment parenting methods (co-sleeping, wearing the baby etc) so I was naturally drawn to the non-CIO> (cry it out) methods. The introductions all corresponded to what I believed - I "don't like the idea of leaving [my] baby to cry alone" and I do think it seems like "a betrayal of the trust your baby is developing in adults and the world around him". I want Sam to know that I love him and that I will respond to his needs, and leaving him to cry it out didn't seem to jive with that. So I figured I'd look into the different methods and see what was out there. If nothing else, it seemed like I owed it to Sam to make sure I was doing the very best thing for him.

However, what I discovered was that I'd already basically used Dr. Sears' method of co-sleeping and just loving and nursing the baby to sleep. Obviously that left me where I was so I looked at other methods. The Baby Whisperer had a solution that seemed reasonable, that you put the baby down and pick them up every time they cry, until they finally fall asleep. However, moving Sam to a crib results in immediate awakening. What's worse is that even if he had only slept for 5 minutes... if you put him down he would wake up and be awake for at least another hour, despite the fact that he ought to have been sleepy. All that would have happened with this method is that I would have gained exceptionally strong arm muscles and still had an awake baby. Lame. I'd also already kept sleep logs and tried to slowly work towards sleeping in the crib, but that obviously hadn't happened, so Elizabeth Pantley's: No-Cry Sleep Solution was out.

No worries, we haven't dyed Sam's hair black, this picture is from a few months ago when his hair was darker :)
So I decided to look into the cry it out methods. I was pretty sure I was going to hate what I read, but I was actually pleasantly surprised. I had totally misunderstood the Ferber method (what is commonly known as the Cry It Out method), as most people do. For those of you who don't know much about the Ferber method let me explain to you what it is and what it is not. It is not that you take your baby, put him in the crib and leave him to cry until he finally passes out and goes to sleep. In fact, Dr. Ferber himself has never referred to his method as a Cry It Out method.

Dr. Ferber's method is this (if you were wondering I got this information here) - you start with a loving bedtime routine. This can include cuddling, baths, bedtime stories, feeding etc. Once your routine is finished you put your baby in his crib and leave the room for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes you come back and comfort your baby with pats and soothing words and whatever you want - except for taking the baby out of the crib. Then you leave the room for 10 minutes and come back again to soothe the baby in the same manner as before. You repeat the process in 15 minute intervals for the rest of the night until the baby sleeps. The second night is the same routine except you start with 10 minute intervals and work up to 20 minute intervals. The third night, and any subsequent nights, you start with 15 minutes and going up to 25 minutes. According to the article I linked to "Many children start sleeping well at the end of this three day schedule. If not, most will begin to respond by the end of one week."

Since the Ferber method wasn't the cruel baby abandonment method that I'd previously believed it was I decided it was worth a shot. However, the reason this post is titled the Ferber-ish method is that I did it with my own modifications. Dr. Ferber would likely not recognize the methodology I used, but it's what I felt was the right thing to do (and my biggest belief in parenting is that the experts have a lot of good ideas... but the parents of the child know best). I still didn't like the idea of leaving Sam alone to just cry - even for short intervals. So I decided instead that I would stay in the room with him while he cried so that he still knew that I was there. Also, I totally broke the rule about not picking him up when I comforted him. Patting him just makes him madder and I wanted to help him calm down, so I would pick him up for a couple of minutes between the intervals. Finally, we decided that we'd have him learn to sleep in his playpen rather than his crib, since he likes to play with his crib mobile sometimes and I wanted him to associate wherever he was sleeping with sleep only. Plus, his playpen was easy enough to put in our own room which made it a little bit easier of a transition for him.

So, how is it going? Well here's the report so far:

Night 1: At 8:30pm we changed Sam into pajamas, read him a story and gave him a final bedtime feeding. At about 9pm I put a pillow on the floor next to the playpen so that I could show Sam how to lay down and talk to him softly, and sing to him, and pat him gently between the times I was allowed to pick him up. Then, into the playpen he went. He wasn't too mad at first when I laid him down and wanted to play. However, when he realized I wouldn't take him out, he slowly worked himself up and got pretty ticked. But I sat there diligently with him while he cried and tried to show him love without caving in.

At 11pm I decided to feed him when I took him out so that he wasn't so hungry that he fell asleep and woke up a few minutes later needing to eat. So we fed and changed him (good thing too! He'd made quite the mess in his diaper, which probably wasn't helping things) and then put him back in the playpen to cry some more. During one of the next intervals when I pulled him out I cuddled him and prayed with him and cried for him (he of course, was happy right then.. mom was holding him and he wasn't in the playpen!).

At 12:15am Eric came home to Sam still screaming away. After another couple rounds of screaming Eric suggested that it might be better if I wasn't in the room so that Sam didn't feel like I was neglecting him, even though I was right there (especially since at this point I was so emotionally exhausted that I was just sitting in the room and saying "shh, i love you" every so often). So I put Sam down for the next interval and came back out with Eric into the front room.

Eric had to stop making his after work snack for a couple minutes to hold me while I cried (thanks love!). I hated having to sit there and listen to this baby that I love so much cry! But he needed to learn to sleep on his own, and in a crib so I wasn't going to give up (especially after already sitting through three and a half hours of crying). So after I had my little cry, I decided to look up some more information to just be sure I was doing things correctly. I found out that I'd had the intervals wrong. Oops! Instead of stopping every 15 minutes like I was supposed to, I'd stayed at 10 minute intervals.

So I went back in once more at 12:45am with a resolve that after I put Sam down I wasn't going back in until 15 minutes were up. I cuddled that baby and calmed him back down. He was so cute once he got calmed down a little bit, and then started smiling with a look on his face that said "hahah! I won! She won't put me back in the crib now!" It was really cute in a sad sort of way, since I knew that he, in fact, had not won and was going back in the crib. So I came back out to the front room ready to endure another 15 minutes of crying before being able to cuddle my baby again. However, before 15 minutes were up... it was quiet. Could it be?! My Sam had actually put himself to sleep?! Yup! And asleep he stayed in that playpen until 4:30am - which may not sound that great, but that was a good five and a half hours without being fed and sleeping on his own in a crib.

Unfortunately, when he woke up at 4:30am I was too tired to deal with the intervals so I just brought Sam into bed with me, fed him, and let him sleep with us until he woke up for reals at 10:30am.

Day 2: So, Sam got up at 10:30am and I wasn't going to push my luck to make him take a nap any sooner than necessary, since I didn't want to sit through hours of crying to get a not tired baby to go to sleep. Finally around 3pm Sam was getting pretty sleepy so I decided I would feed him before putting him to sleep. I was searching the house for my iPod so I could listen to the Ensign while I fed him. While I carried him around he started to drift off, so I gave up and just put him in his crib (he had eaten within the past couple hours so I was feeding him more to top him off than because he needed it). He cried for about 3 minutes... and then he was asleep! I couldn't believe it. I walked around the playpen and just stared at him, expecting him at any minute to wake right back up. Finally, I left the room... and went and did some dishes. I didn't hear another peep out of him until 4:30pm! That may not sound amazing to many moms... but for me, that was heaven. So I got him up, fed him and we went about our day.

Around 8pm he was acting pretty sleepy so we changed him into pajamas, read him a bedtime story, and fed him one more time before bed. He fell asleep while eating and I figured I was in for it when I laid him down when he'd just been nursing (that's usually what happens). Wrong again! He laid down and made one single peep of "hey, what's going on here?" before being fast asleep. That was at about 8:10pm and I didn't hear another sound out of him until 10:30pm. Of course, then he woke up and it took a diaper change and an hour and a half of cuddling at intervals and praying to get him back to sleep by midnight.

I do need to add in that a big part of my methodology is prayer. Not just the prayer I offered with Sam, but specifically - Kyle prayers. My little brother has been praying for Sam to be able to sleep ever since my family's recent visit to visit us. I know that Sam is getting the sleep he needs because our Heavenly Father is aware of him and mindful of our prayers. It's also through my prayers and the prayers of others that I came up with the methodology that I did. I'm so glad that Eric and I have the Lord to help us parent... His ideas are better than ours :)

Also, I want people to know that I wouldn't change the way we've slept with Sam for anything. Getting to cuddle with him every night was such a blessing, and I know that I'm going to miss it a lot. It was a great way to keep everyone in the house happy and well rested and I don't regret it for a second. But, it was time for Sam to learn to sleep on his own, so that's what we're doing.

I feel like it's been a good start (well miserable, but good progress-wise) but this is over. I'm sure that tomorrow won't be as good as today, but it's a start! I also know better than to endorse my sleep plan as the one way cure-all method, but it definitely seems to be a good Samuel Hansen sleep method! I'll keep you all posted on how it goes from here!

27 August 2009

Gratuitous Samuel Update

Eric's done a good job lately of keeping you updated on our family's situation as it's been changing almost by the second. But I've done a terrible job of keeping you updated on Samuel. Sad day! He's too cute to be keeping all to ourselves! So this post might be a little scattered, but I promise to add in lots of pictures and a couple random videos to make it worth your while if you make it through :) I'll apologize in advance though that most of these pictures and videos were taken with our cell phones so they're not the highest quality.

Sam at Eric's graduation. Isn't he cute in that suit?
So, Sam will be 6 months next Friday. I can't believe how fast the time has gone! He is extremely wide eyed and curious about everything. I think we've decided he can officially crawl, but he still prefers to do more of an army crawl because he can get around the room wicked fast doing so! His favorite thing to play with is anything that has to do with technology (surprise!) He loves grabbing power cords and playing with our cell phones. Lately he gets the biggest kick out of "talking" to people on my phone... which generally means that he's chewing on my cell phone and pushing buttons while I put his Grandma or Uncle Cody on speaker phone.

Sam loves computers!Yup, Sam definitely takes after his parents in his love for technology!
He still sleeps with us in our bed because it's where he's happiest and there's nothing quite like getting to cuddle with a baby. It also makes it easy to take care of him in the middle of the night. However, I think that I can say that he is now "sleeping through the night"... his night just starts later and ends later to sorta sync up with his parents' schedule. We want to work towards putting him in his own crib at night but first we need to dig out his speaker that we use to play his white noise (it's one of the few things that hasn't yet made it out of the boxes from moving). I have started trying to have bedtime routines with him so that he realizes that it's time for bed rather than just a nap. We'll read a story, change into PJs, and feed him to sleep. So far I think it isn't really working, but it makes me feel good so I'm going to keep doing it :)

Rocking out to Uncle Jayson's iPodUncle Jayson's iPod might not qualify as white noise...
One of the fun things with Sam lately is to see how much he wants to be like the men he sees. He is totally a boys' boy. He likes any attention, but you can tell that when he gets attention from his dad, or his uncles he LOVES it. He starts showing off all of his cool tricks that he's learning and wants to be just like them. That goes ten fold for his dad. I think it's adorable to see how much he is still just totally enamored with Eric (not that I blame him :) ).

Oh yeah, Sam's so cool!Oh yeah, so cool!
He also recently got a little doorway jumper that my Uncle Paul and Aunt Stacy are letting us borrow. He has had a blast with it! He loves to jump and stand. He's starting to climb. I discovered this the other day when we were all waking up in bed and Sam was just crawling around and playing with us. Then he saw the clock on Eric's nightstand. But since Sam was on the opposite side of Eric from the nightstand I thought it was ok. Nope! He climbed up, and got over Eric to make his way towards the clock.

Sam trying out the jumper for the first time

One of the best parts about Sam sleeping with us is seeing him wake up in the morning. When Sam is well rested he wakes up and is very smiley and playful. It is so adorable to see him in the morning. And of course, the first thing he goes for is his dad... even though his dad is usually still fast asleep from working late shifts. It's so fun to see the two of them interact.

Sam playing with bubble wrapEric got some bubble wrap with a package... Sam really liked the bubble wrap!
Another thing Sam has really gotten into lately is blowing raspberries. He gets the biggest kick out of blowing raspberries on people's arms, cheeks, or whatever might be exposed. If I'm feeding him and he's not tired I know that he's done because he will stop eating and start pouncing on me to try and blow raspberries!

Sam sticking his tongue outSticking his tongue out

Sam blowing raspberries on Eric's friend Vance LewisSam blowing raspberries on Eric's mission buddy Vance Lewis
We started feeding him some solids over the past couple of weeks. We started with bananas, which he really liked, and then went back to the rice cereal. However, he hadn't been sleeping real well after introducing the rice cereal, so I've taken him off of solids for the last few days and he's been doing better. Although, he'd also had a slight fever so the two might not be related, but I wanted to get him back to normal before pushing the envelope with the solids. One of the best discoveries with starting solids is actually finding one of his new favorite toys - baby spoons! He can be entertained for a good while just holding one of those rubber spoons, and chewing on it, and banging it on things. Who would have thought?

Another random toy Sam found... the door stopper

I think that pretty much covers him right now. We're taking him in for his 6 month check up in a couple of weeks so we'll be sure to let you know how that goes and what his current stats are once that happens as well!

Sam in his grandpa's hatSam in his Grandpa Anderson's gaucho hat that I bought for him in Argentina
By the way, for anyone who is interested... Samuel's Facebook account got taken away because he's too young :( However, we made a fan page for him if you want to be his fan click here! Also, all of the pictures in this post are in his photo album on his fan page and the pictures are links to the pictures in the album, if you want to comment on any individual picture you can do it there too :)

23 August 2009

Temple Dedication

It was a real blessing for our little family to be able to go attend the Oquirrh Mountain Temple dedicatory services today. While other events have preoccupied our time and efforts over the past few weeks, there have been none so important as the establishment of this house of prayer, healing, and worship to God. In this world of decadence and self-indulgence, I find great joy in the establishment of symbols and opportunities that promote service, love, and kindness to all human beings.

The outside of the temple at night

During the course of the dedication, my mind was drawn to a very simple yet meaningful bit of wisdom. During his talk, President Thomas S. Monson mentioned the times that we try to set aside a place in our busy schedule to do temple work or service, we are often side-tracked by busy distractions that always seem to crop up at the same time. To paraphrase what the prophet said, we have many rooms in our homes in this day and age of comfort. We have bedrooms, TV rooms, offices, and this represent another piece of our lives and attentions. Where do we make room or space for the things that truly matter most? Where do we teach and set an example for our children as to do what is right? How do we show them what things are truly important? We need to make time for the temple, because that is where we find the apex of life's greatest achievements. I know this to be true.

Recent weeks have been a good example of President Monson's lesson. In the course of unpacking during this week, I must have over-exerted myself somewhat and I was sick on Saturday and Sunday morning. Of course as a result, I did not really feel like going to the dedication, but with some more effort and resolve, I made the trip. I found that as I pushed onward toward that goal, I was able to do what needed to be done. It wasn't as difficult as I had originally thought.

This life is a wondrous miracle to me. I am so very grateful for family and friends that help us in so many ways, particularly with our recent move. It is hard for me to believe that so many opportunities would have been lost had I not made good choices prior to this moment, like going on a mission. Learning Chinese has opened many doors of opportunity, and my service helped my timing in finding the spouse that was perfect for me. On a lighter note, I wouldn't even have all this neat artwork to decorate our new home with! :) I am truly blessed.

18 August 2009

Two Cheers for Tier II!

Just a short update for this week before I go to bed, but we have two pieces of very exciting news.

First and foremost, I am officially graduated now! It feels like a long time coming, but in all reality--especially when you consider the time I took out for my mission--I was still able to graduate with a degree in 4.5 years instead of the usual four! Not bad when you consider I changed majors from Computer Science to Information Systems about halfway through my education. Learning Chinese amongst all the wonderful experiences I had in Taiwan gave me a far greater education, in my opinion. And to top it off, it was also really nice to see the family come up and give us support.

Our family just outside the Marriott Center

The second great piece of news is that I got the promotion at work! It is nice to finally be going in a more substantial direction that my education and experience qualifies me for. It's not that I didn't like my old jobs at the Network Operations Center or in Technical Support, but I feel like there is so much more I can offer. These jobs were important but very limited in the scope of my possible contributions. Here's to the first step on our path toward the future!

02 August 2009

The Verdict Is In

I promised you all that I would let you know what our family's plans were, and I am happy to say that we have an answer now to what lies in our long-term future. After much deliberation (which you can read about in detail in Brittny's entry in her family's blog) we have decided to plan on moving to China. However, that doesn't mean we currently have a specific plan or an official job offer to get us there. We just know it's where we need to end up in the imminent future.

So that meant we canceled the pending offer on the really nice house that we were about to commit to buying. Now we have about a week to find an apartment that rents out for short-term leases or month-to-month contracts. So this hectic stage of our life is not over quite yet.

Sometimes I think God tests our resolve to do His will at the more inconvenient points in our lives. That way it is a true test of our actual character. It was particularly intriguing to me that we tried by every means possible prior to the point-of-no-return deadline on our house contract to gather data and find out at least a little more about our options so that we could make an informed decision. All of these avenues we pursued were dead ends, and I believe it was to let us make a decision by faith. It is good to know that we are headed in the right direction.

26 July 2009

Two Transitions Too Soon

So, as you can tell by my writing this entry, I have survived through the past week. After taking my History 202 final last Monday afternoon, I began my History 201 class later that night. From that point onward, I did little else but study and work on this class. I worked through the night to complete the lessons and quizzes for the first half of the classes. On Tuesday afternoon, I went into the testing center and took a three-hour long essay written midterm. That night, the studying continued as I finished the remaining lessons and quizzes for the class, 14 in all. It took me until Wednesday evening before I started on the class project, a 2,000-word research term paper, complete with bibliographical references. Last, but not least, I had to take another three-hour long essay written final on Thursday before going in to work. It was a crazy three and a half days, but I am finally done and graduation is now around the corner!

During all this mess, I took solace in the thought that soon my family and I would be moving into a house and settling in to a nice life, or so it seemed. For those of you who don't know, I recently applied and was interviewed for an internal promotion to an Technical Services Engineer. I felt I did rather well during the interview process, and that is why we decided we ought to buy a house. This past Tuesday night, however, I discovered another potential job opportunity that might take me to China. So now we have until this Friday to decide which offer we will pursue and consequently decide where we will be living for the next few years, at least. We'll be sure to post an update as soon as we have this next big mess is figured out.

22 July 2009

Sam's Preoccupation with Dying Monkeys

This is a video of our baby Sam, who apparently finds the death of monkeys to be absolutely hilarious.

19 July 2009

One of the Hardest Weeks of My Life

This post will be a short one, and then I doubt you all will hear much from me until next week. You see, this week I will attempt the impossible: complete an Independent Study course from start to finish in four days. That includes all reading and writing assignments as well as two major exams.

I may end up taking time off of work to make sure I can get the coursework done, but I really really want to be done with my under-graduate education. So wish me luck, and hopefully I'll see you all on the other side :)

13 July 2009

Hanging out and Haircuts

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.


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