Archive for the ‘Minutiae’ Category

Merry Christmas everyone!

The Ivan and Rachel Andrus family finds itself back in Utah this year, and it’s been an exciting year. About this time last year, after much painful deliberation, Ivan took a job with Adobe. He started just in time to do orientation and then get a week and a half off for Christmas. He has impeccable timing, no? He had been contracting for Adobe from February of 2013, but now he works there “for real.”

The new job necessitated a move (Rachel was not amused), and since we were tired of moving (really not amused…) we decided to do a super fast house hunt. We searched and bought a house in about 6 weeks. It’s a newer house in Saratoga Springs, Utah, which is just west of Lehi. So far we like it. The kids are thrilled to have a yard and basement to play in. And neighborhood kids to play with in the yard and basement.

The former occupants of the house weren’t excited about moving out that quickly so we spent the first two weeks of March in a hotel. The kids loved the hotel and still ask to go back, because they got to watch cable TV all the time. Ivan and Rachel were much less enthused after the two weeks. We moved into our house March 18th, and began the frantic unpacking, arranging, buying of furniture and yard tools, etc., that comes with being first time home owners and going from a 2 bedroom apartment to a real house.

Avery was sad to leave her friends and school in Colorado, but adjusted quickly here. Evelyn had her fourth Birthday not too long after we moved in and (luckily) before Hazel was born. She was very excited because we made cupcake ice cream cones. They weren’t nearly as pretty as the picture online, but she was happy with them, so we’re not complaining.

Backtracking to Hazel… Hazel Ann Andrus was born April 27th. She was a big baby (8 lb. 13 oz), and while her weight is a little more normal range now, she’s still very long and so little arms and ankles are always sticking out of her clothes. She’s been a really happy baby, for which we’re grateful. She smiles all the time, and already crawls and pulls herself up on things. She also likes to try to eat EVERYTHING, so she keeps us pretty busy pulling things out of her mouth. We think she’s pretty great.

This Summer we went down to LA to visit Rachel’s grandpa and sister for the fourth of July. We went to the beach, and Avery was in heaven. She splashed and played in the sand and collected shells. We also got to see some of Rachel’s family that we don’t see too often and meet an aunt that we had never met before. That was a fun experience, and we’re happy to have Mei Linh as part of our family.

Avery started 1st grade this Fall, which put her in school all day again. (In Colorado she had all-day Kindergarten, but here Kindergarten is half-day.) Her class is ocean themed and she loves her teacher. They have a pet hermit crab that the class named Hermy. Avery gets to read sea life books and tells us all sorts of things about sea animals. She loves to play with her friends and is starting to get very good at reading. She’s even beginning to read for fun.

Evelyn started pre-school again this year. It’s a home-based pre-school, but we’re not using the joy school curriculum this year. There are usually 6 kids or so and she looks forward to it every week. She’s pretty good at her letters and numbers and excited to start Kindergarten next year. Evelyn is our little firecracker. She makes up all sorts of pretend games with her toys and is very, very friendly. She gives everyone hugs and her primary teachers tell us that she loves to give answers in class. Apparently most of her class is pretty shy.

This Fall we got to go camping a couple times, which was fun. The kids hadn’t ever been camping before and they loved it. We went to Arches National Park for Fall Break and camped and hiked around a bit. It was a beautiful place, even if the kids didn’t like the hiking.

We spent Thanksgiving with Ivan’s family up in Montana. It was a fun trip and a nice, quiet few days. Ivan’s whole family was there, so it was nice to spend time together. While we were there Ivan finished up a big project. He participated in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) this year and finished the required 50,000 words in the month of November. He is now officially a NaNoWriMo winner and we’re all pretty darn proud of him. It was a lot of work, and he stuck with it all month (despite negative effects on his sleep). His book is called The Implausible Adventures of Jacqueline and Lonnie, and is based on characters in the stories he tells the kids at bedtime. Unfortunately, none of us has read much of it, because he claims he has too much editing to do on it still it’s really bad.

That’s about it for our year. We feel very lucky to have been able to see family so much this year. We wish you all a Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and a blessed 2015.


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I failed, but I’m used to it by now.  I had a bit of a rally near the end and made it to 85% (word equivalent of 42772.7 words).  Since I didn’t count words, but rather lines multiplied by 14.3, if I assume that the average number of words in a sentence is 17 instead of 14.3, then I just barely make the goal.  Since my dissertation contains nearly 13 words per line on average, I think it’s justifiable to bump things up a little.  After all, it’s a dissertation, not a novel, right?  So maybe I won after all.

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The short haired IvanMy hair is shorter than it’s ever been. I don’t like it very much, although I do like the feeling of rubbing my head. As my physical therapist says, it feels like a hedgehog. But it was the price I had to pay. On a whim I asked Rachel if I could get a mohawk. She didn’t think I would get one (considering that I’m quite conservative regarding my appearance) so she said I could have it for one week. As soon as she said that I knew I had to.

The next time I went to the store I bought the strongest hair gel I could find. The next day I went to the barber and tried to explain what I wanted. “Here, you don’t need to cut,” and “Here with the 3 machine,” were my carefully practiced phrases. I knew that I would never be able to remember the Hungarian for mohawk (which is hasonélű táncfordulat according an online dictionary). He asked me a few questions I didn’t understand to which I responded affirmatively or negatively largely at random. In the end he cut a little more off of the top, and left the front a little wider than I would have liked. But really not too bad considering how little Hungarian I still know.

The curly haired mohawkIt turns out the hair gel is very strong. My hair still stood up (though it wasn’t crispy) even after I slept on it all night!  The problem with my hair, which even gel can’t fix, is that it curls. That makes it difficult to have a good looking mohawk. Also, it wasn’t really long enough to get the effect I was going for, and I suppose I should have dyed it as well.

Originally I planned to go to church without spiking my hair, but on Sunday morning I realized that if I was going to do it, I better do it right. Some people might be scandalized, but we are in Europe where even church members aren’t as prudish as your average American—or at least that’s the stereotype. In the end several people at church liked it (or at least said they did) and only one person that I know of was truly scandalized. To tell the truth I was a little disappointed, but that’s what I get for not dying it. The worst though was that some of the kids accused me of having a “fauxhawk” because my sides weren’t completely shaved. Kids these days have no respect for their elders.

The bemohawked stroller-pusherI got my hair shaved one day before the prescribed week was over, so I figure I’ve still got another day of mohawk to use sometime in the future, though Rachel disagrees. I guess I’ll have to wait until she’s dead, but if you plan to transition from long hair to short I recommend at least a temporary mohawk.

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I made playdough today. It was really pretty. See?I made a valiant attempt to keep the colors from being irreversibly mixed.

I failed.So Daddy had the brilliant idea of turning it into planets.

I suppose I knew that the colors wouldn’t stay separate forever. I just hoped it would be a little longer than an hour.

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My year of taking a picture every day is done. Overall I think I did alright. I only ended up with 225 pictures instead of 365, but considering I had a baby and moved three times in that year, I’m okay with that. I picked my ten favorites. Since I took a lot of pictures of the kids, they’re divided into two sets: my favorite 5 kid photos, and my favorite 5 other photos. They’re in chronological order. I hope.


End of the Trail Statue


Summer Peach


Budapest Chain Bridge


Winter Activities - Colored Pencil Shavings


Salzburg Christmas Market Ornaments



Avery's Cowboy Hat


We Love The Beach!


Blessing Day




Happy Girls

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Atheist Vuvuzela Band

I recently heard about an athiest vuvuzela band that marched in a Christmas parade and the ensuing controversy. I have no idea where it was or really much about it, but I’ve found it running around in my thoughts the last week or so. This is my small response to this event.

I would just like to say that as a member of the Christian community and as one who is trying to enjoy the spiritual atmosphere of one of the most celebrated seasons of the year, I found the recent march of the Athiest Vuvuzela Band outrageous and offensive. This band trampled with every step the very values that the Christmas season stands for: peace on Earth, human harmony, and brotherly love. My sense of the Christmas season took a serious blow at the image of an athiest vuvuzela band marching next to the fresh young faces of impressionable high school marching bands and drill teams.

What are we to tell our children? Is this spectre of contention and cacauphony to become the role models of our youth? When my child asks am I to tell them that Vuvuzelas are an acceptable Christmas time tradition? At such an event as the World Cup, a secular and raucous event by nature,  they are tolerable at best, but my heart was broken at the rumor of their recent association with my beloved Christmas season.

That said, I like to think of myself as a Christian and understanding person. Therefore, I would like each of the members of this horrendous band to know that I would personally like to campaign for the money to purchase them each a french horn, in hopes that they will see the error of their ways and that their contribution do next year’s parade will be one of harmony instead of discord.

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Quick Update

A few weeks ago we watched the “swashbuckler” ad from the church on Youtube and Avery loved it. It’s been a while and we haven’t really talked about the ad since, but today Avery woke up from a nap and was playing with Ivan and pretended to be asleep again. Ivan said “oh, shhhhhh, the baby’s sleeping.” I responded “The Princess is sleeping!” like in the ad and Avery perked right up. “Yeeahh!” she said. “The princes is sleeping!”

We heard a really funny story on Sunday from a friend in our branch. This friend is from Ukraine, but she’s lived in Budapest for 10 or so years now and she teaches English and Russian here. At one point she had a group of Chinese students all studying together that hired her to teach them English. One of the assignments she gave them was to read a paper about the American Independence holiday and answer some questions about it. The next lesson they all came to class and she asked the first one to explain a little bit about Independence Day.

He said some things about making barbecue and other typical things and at the end he said “and the Americans fry a frog.” Our friend thought this was a little strange, but moved on to the next student who explained Independence day and also mentioned that Americans “fry a frog.” After 7 or 8 of the students mentioned frying frogs for Independence Day she finally asked why the students thought Americans fried frogs for the 4th of July. “It’s in the text” they said. In the text it said Americans have barbecues and fly a flag, which, of course, with a Chinese accent sounds like “fry a frog.”

In other news, I’m way behind in my blogging. This saddens me, but happens when Christmas coincides with the existence of a toddler and an 8 month old. So. Quick update. We went to Munich, Neuschwanstein and Salzburg two weeks ago. It was a ton of fun and we got to see our fabulous friends Mark and Gretchen while we were there. Pictures are coming. I got them up on Facebook, but haven’t gotten them organized enough for a blog post yet. It’s a lot easier to throw captions on them and dump them all on Facebook. We’re going to Istanbul in a little over a week, so I’m hoping to get the pictures from our last trip up before our next trip.

Christmas was simple but fun this year. Hopefully I’ll have pictures up of our Christmas soon too. We (re)discovered beigli this year, and ate way too much of it. I’m slowly falling in love with poppy seeds. I still prefer the other Hungarian obsession, walnut, though.

Evelyn is super close to standing. She spent 10 minutes or so today leaning on my hands and standing up and sitting down and standing up and sitting down. I let go of her the other day and she stood on her own for a couple seconds. I love this stage where they’re learning to move and balance. Everyone says they’re excited for their first child to walk and after that they know better, but I think I’m about as excited for Evelyn to walk as I was for Avery. I love it when they walk. It’s the cutest thing ever. I love how short they seem when they stand and walk on their own. You don’t notice so much when they’re crawling or on their bellies.

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