Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Christmas Letter

2012 has been a year like no other before.We have had many new experiences. Some exciting and wonderful and some not so happy ones. Overall it has been a pretty good year. 

As a family we have made a lot of changes this year. We decided as a family this fall that we could no longer participate in our religion. It was a very personal and emotional long fought decision, but it has really been a good thing for our family. Sometimes you have to make the hard decisions to get to something better. We also had a dog named Sam. He was an English pointer/Dalmatian mix. He was a great dog and we loved him a lot but was simply too big for us and we had to let him go to a different family. 

Probably the biggest thing that we, as a family did this year was choose to be a host family for a foreign exchange program. We were volunteered and suggested as a good family for this and chose to give it a try. Our first experience for just a few weeks in the summer was a young girl from France. This was not a great experience and just about caused us to not continue, but we did and we are so glad because we got Anna. Anna is from Germany and is part of our family until June of 2013. She arrived in August and is here for school. She has been a ray of sunshine for our family.

This year it has really become apparent that our family is growing up and that we may not have many more opportunities to do things altogether. This is a big deal for us, so things have been planned more lately than ever before. We didn't all get to go to everything, but we do our best. 

In July, Dan took Kyler, Aubree, and Jake to Arches. Megan had to work and I can't do the hiking, so we stayed home and had some girl time while they went. They had a good time and there are great pics on this blog on a previous post. I encourage you to take a look. 

Dan was asked what he wanted for his birthday this year and his answer was that he wanted his feet in the Pacific Ocean. This became another opportunity for a family vacation. Also, it was an opportunity to let Anna see more of America. She wanted to see Hollywood and the beach. We somehow made a way for us to go. Over 5 days in October, directly over Dan's birthday, we spent time in Mesquite, played on the beach (Malibu and Santa Monica), saw Hollywood and the observatory,  and spent a day in Las Vegas. It was a great trip and we are so glad we went. You can also see highlights from that trip on a previous post on this blog. 

Dan- continues to work for the State of Utah. He works hard to make sure parents take care of their children. Dan also works a second job for Vivnt, where he works in Account Creation. This is a department where they make sure everything is installed as it is supposed to be as per agreements and to the clients liking. For a second job it is a very good place for him. He continues to learn and improve on his photography skills. The picture above is at the state capitol and was taken in November of this year. He certainly has an artists eye and is very good at what he does. 

On June 11th of this year, Dan had gastric bypass surgery. He has struggled for a very long time to lose weight. Our insurance coverage changed a little over the past couple of years and gave him the opportunity to be part of a pilot program. This meant the insurance covered this surgery. He had to meet certain milestones and things to get there and there was a time that we had all but given up, but it finally happened and currently, 6 months after surgery he has lost around 90 pounds. He looks great and is feeling so much better. It is very nice being able to wrap our arms around him. 

Christy- continues to struggle with health issues. It is thought that she has MS but as of yet there is no diagnosis. They say it sometimes take many years to do this. She has her good and bad days but this is not keeping her down. Through no choice of her own she became a stay at home mom 6 years ago and is learning every day new ways to be a wife and mother to 5 kids. All teenagers (except Jake who is almost 12 and may as well be a teenager) She spends much of her time running kids places and trying to keep the house organized. She will be turning 40 next week and can't believe it. 

Kyler 18 - is learning how to be an adult. We elected to withdraw him from school in March of this year. He simply had too much to do to make it to graduation so he took a GED instead and worked. He passed his GED with a 3.2 GPA and is now enrolled and registered at UVU for the Spring semester and will be starting in January. He is going into Diesel Mechanics Technology. He loves to fix cars in any form and this should be a good area for him to make a living after school. He continues to be a good young man who loves to help people. We are very proud of his accomplishments and the goals he has set for his future. 

Megan 17- is a junior at Timpanogos high school. She recently got her drivers license and has been enjoying taking her sisters and brothers Christmas shopping and running errands. She is again part of the yearbook staff and working to meet deadlines. Megan is a wonderful young woman is striving for greatness. She is a big help to her mother and we are proud of her. 

Anna 16 - is our "German Daughter". Anna has joined our family this year. She also attends Timpanogos high school and works with Megan and others on the yearbook staff. Anna is very interested in photography (makes Dan very happy) and loves to take pictures behind and in front of the camera. Anna is the only child in her family and  is enjoying (we hope) having so many siblings. We have had the privilege of getting to know her parents and grandparents a little throughout this experience.   We are so happy to have her as part of our family for a time and will hopefully be able to continue on with her for years to come after she returns home to Germany. We get to meet her parents in June. We are all very excited. 

Aubree 15(on the 15th)- is a freshman at Orem Jr. High. She is part of the Bella Voce choir at school. (Thus the blue dress in the picture above). She has a beautiful signing voice and is enjoying singing in the choir. She is working toward getting her driving permit soon. Aubree is a very tenderhearted young woman. She loves her friends and family fiercely and is trying to find her way. She succeeds at pretty much whatever she puts her mind to and we are very proud of her. 

Jake 11- is in the 6th grade at Aspen Elementary. He eats, drinks, and sleeps football. He again played for the UVFL on the Timpanogos team. He plays the center position and is learning more and more every season. He is a leader on his team and in life. He is also very tenderhearted and would help anyone. Not sure what it is, but he has some sort of special mission in life. He seems to be a peace maker. We are proud of the young man he is becoming. 

We have 2 cats named Tazzy and Speedy. They are joys in our lives. They are always giving love and snuggles and definitely entertainment. Speedy lives up to her name and keeps us laughing a lot. 

We hope that this Christmas find all of you, our family and friends, happy and well. We want you to know how much you all mean to us. We send wishes of a Merry Christmas and a wonderful 2013. 

We are happy to have had the experiences we have over this past year. Even the not so great ones. It has helped us grow as a family. We look forward to 2013 and what it might bring. 

~The Hansens

Friday, December 7, 2012

Woman, I can hardly express...

I read a friend's post on Facebook this morning that made me think about the many women in my life.  I have very few male friends, but many women friends.  I am not sure why that is, but I am very thankful for the women that are part of my earthly experience.   

The first person that I am thankful for is my long suffering spouse and companion.  She turns forty next week and we have been married for twenty-three years.  She has been with me through good times and bad.  She knows and understands me and still sticks with me even though I am usually a pain to be around.  She allows me my relationships with the many other women in my story with trust and understanding.  She struggles through her constant pain to raise her family and is an example of perseverance and strength. 

My daughters amaze me.  They are still becoming women are going through the struggles of learning who they are and their place in the universe, but they are loving and non-judgmental, almost to a fault, and provide me with constant joy.   They are remarkable as they go through the trials of youth and handle themselves so well and are examples to me of their unconditional love.

Our German daughter has been with us for about four months now and I am surprised everyday when I arrive home and she is still there and has not run away kicking and screaming.  She has been a wonderful addition to our family and gives us new perspective on the world and on our family.  She is a teenager and has the issues that every teenager has, and we she has brought happiness into our lives and I will be heavyhearted when she returns to her home. 

My mother has been through a lot in her journey.  She has constantly struggled financially and has had to support her family by working even through the great pain and suffering her failing body dispensed.  She has always been faithful and giving.   

My mother-in-law does not understand me, but loves me anyway.  Not sure why she does, but I accept it for what it is.   

My “work wife” has been through a lot in her life and we talk (or text or IM) just about everyday.  She just listens to my ramblings and I listen to her and we make a good friendship. 

Christy’s sisters have been a major influence since I started dating her.  They are so different, and yet they compliment each other in ways that even they do not understand.  They are both very giving and are both fiercely loyal to their families.  I feel totally comfortable with them.  Christy’s sister-in-law has been my sarcastic sounding board for years.  She is great to have a conversation with and I find myself laughing every time we get together.  Christy’s younger brother is married to a remarkable woman that fits into the family well and works hard pursuing her career and raising a family.

My brother’s wife and I do not see eye-to-eye on many things, mostly political and social issues, but we do know how important family is and we put our differences aside and enjoy each others company when we get together.  She struggles with acceptance from her own family, and we try to make sure that she knows she is accepted and loved by our family despite the fact that she is a conservative.   My sister has probably been the greatest influence on me from my family.  I learned from her that regardless of how or where you were brought up, you can still make the sometimes difficult choice to be yourself.  Others will judge and cut you from their lives, but the ones who really love you will stick with you and love you for who you are.   My sister’s wife is definitely outside my comfort zone.   She is the only lesbian Jew I know (with the exception my sister) and is very blunt and opinionated.  I am so glad I get to stretch my comfort zone and have them in my family.

I have been doing photography as a hobby for a couple of years now and I love to shoot people.  I have several photography groups that I belong to and they meet together often, and I go whenever I can get time available.  I have been able to meet some really remarkable people through these groups and have been able to form some fabulous friendships.  I had a model once tell me that she never felt pretty, but during our photo session, she felt like the most beautiful woman in the world.  What a great compliment.  I have enjoyed shooting many different women of all different looks, ages and backgrounds.  I wish that I had more time and money to hone my skills as a photographer, but for now, I just like to get out and shoot for love.

There are so many more influential women that I just do not have time to mention here.  Both my bosses are women, and most of my co-workers.  I have aunts and cousins, nieces and other friends that have been in my life as far back as I can remember.   I feel greatly blessed to have all of these wonderful women to influence me and to keep me grounded, to show me that love really can rule the world, even if it’s just your own little world.