Saturday, September 29, 2007

Fun Pictures from BYU Homecoming

Here are some fun pictures from the last BYU home game:

This is a picture of my sister Amy cheering and my sister-in-law Sherrie thinking, "Why am I at a BYU football game?" Sherrie and Doug met while Doug was in Aggieland in Logan. But they still like to cheer on the Cougars, bless their hearts.

Though it may look differently, this is not a picture of someone soliciting for money to support the Christian Children's Fund. This is my brother-in-law Nathan (married to Amy) holding his son Ty Douglas. Amy and Nate named their two sons after two great BYU quarterbacks: Ty Detmer and Steve Young. We're hoping Ty gets to play for BYU in the future so we can call him "TouchDown" Smedley.

This is the Christenson cousins wearing the blue and pink. From left (hiding) is Austin Christenson, Grace Smedley, MacKenzie Christenson, Lilia Fisher, Sarah Smedley, and Melissa Fisher.

This is the Cougar core of the TT south endzone. From left, Big Fred, Dee, Grandma, and cousin Marjean. Grandma doesn't make it out as much as she used to, so I'm glad I took this picture while I could.

Here's the two parents who started it all: Karen and Norvel Christenson. In their lap is Nohealani Fisher. Since Dad's heart surgery, we pray the Cougars no longer have close games. You especially don't want to be rooting for the other team while sitting near my dad in Cougar stadium. He gets a little ... unruly. He once threw ice and his cup at a bunch of nearby USU fans. Not pretty.

This is Ed and his friend Charlotte. Ed is now a freshman at the Y and dating a lot of the lovely co-eds. I'm not sure if he actually went to the homecoming dance with Charlotte. Ed is my brother, after all. They're not really known for spending a lot of money on dates.

This is my oldest brother Doug and his family, Sherrie (wife), Austin, and MacKenzie. Not pictured are his son Luke and daughter Carly. Doug and family moved to Tremonton in July. Before that, they lived in Gardnerville, NV, for about 12 years. Doug works with ATK helping design rockets, etc. He's an engineer and Sherrie is a hair stylist. I have many fond memories of sitting by Doug at the games. As anyone will tell you, Doug can be the loudest person on earth. We once got tickets in the student section, and Doug refused to sit the whole game. His reasoning: We're in the student section. We should be as loud and obnoxious as possible.

And this is my cutey Nohea and my other cutey buns Kulani. Kulani bought the whole family "Y" shirts. Don't they look similar? Kulani finally got a child that looks like him.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Uncle Fred

Anyone who has been around my family for any period of time knows Uncle Fred (he's the one holding the binoculars in the picture above). He's one of those uncles whose first name really is "uncle." Even my friends called him "Uncle Fred."

Every year since before Steve Young took the field, Uncle Fred bought at least a dozen BYU season football tickets.

Uncle Fred's family is small. His wife died when I was 2, and he has one girl and one boy. He didn't remarry until about two years ago to a lady named Dee, who we also love.

Uncle Fred shared his love of BYU football with those of us who would appreciate it. And boy did we appreciate it. We were invited to at least one home game a year. Occasionally we even got to bring a friend.

Do you know how much Uncle Fred could have sold for his tickets to the 1990 BYU vs. Miami game? Probably enough to pay for the season tickets. But he gave his extras to us, and I was even able to take my good friends Keri and Jana.

I have a ton of great memories going to the games with Uncle Fred in his section (Row 17/18, seats 36 and up, section TT). In the old days, pre-9/11, they let you bring in your own food, and Uncle Fred always had licorice and chocolates.

We like to imitate Uncle Fred in our family, and I think most of my brothers wish they were as cool as him. He's one of those people who just oozes cool. He resembles Tom Selec, because he's had a moustache since long before I was born, and he has deep dimples in his cheeks when he smiles. He's rather tall, around 6 foot 6 inches, slender build, and a full head of brown hair with tannish skin.

When we were kids, he always knew all the songs and music from the 60s and 70s. He took us skiing once, and on the trip up to the mountain, he played the Beatles--the first time I'd heard their stuff. My own parents were a bit squarish in their musical tastes, even for their day. (Their favorite groups were Sons of the Pioneers, The Four Kingsmen, the Beach Boys pre-Pet Sounds.)

When Uncle Fred comes into a room, he kind of struts in and everyone kind of stops to hear what he's going to say, and the first thing out of his mouth is usually, "Hey, what's happenin'." And me writing that just now doesn't sound so cool, but you should here Uncle Fred say it.

And probably the most quoted phrase I've heard many of my brothers and other family members try to emulate is Uncle Fred's grunty expression. I'll try to explain it, but you've got to hear it to understand it.

If someone makes a comment, really about anything, Uncle Fred might make another sly comment in his deep voice, then grunt out some sounds followed by, "You know what I'm sayin'."

When I lived with Grandma McEuen in college, Uncle Fred came over everday after his work with the Department of Recovery Services to make sure his mom was okay and to check if she needed anything.

Sometimes we'd talk, and he'd tell me stories about people in the area. I loved it when Uncle Fred stopped by for his visits. It broke up the monotany of the day.

For my senior project in getting my journalism degree, I interviewed Uncle Fred about the Department of Recovery Services. He spent an hour being interviewed by me. My story was pretty lame, but I still appreciated that he would talk with me and allow me to publish his comments.

So to Uncle Fred--you're one in a million. You'll never meet anyone like him.

Personal Essays

As time allows, I'll be devoting sections of this blog to people who have affected this family. My one rule is that it must remain positive in case the person stumbles onto this site and reads about themselves. I don't know about you, but I don't generally like surfing the web and finding derogatory blogs written about me. Maybe I'm projecting my own feelings, but I think most people don't like that. And maybe I'm the only one, but I'm one of those people who would like to hang out around my body after I'm dead just to hear what people are saying about me and stories they remember about me. Well, why wait until death? I think it's time we let some of you know how much we think about you and love you. So let the personal essays begin ...

Sunday, September 16, 2007

The Family Dog

Jessie is our family dog. Currently, he is our only pet. I do not foresee a future family pet, but Kulani keeps hinting at a cat, which I'm not so fond of. People generally reside in two camps of thought: those who like family pets and those who don't. Inside those two camps are two other camps: those who like furry pets indoors and those who like furry pets outdoors. Ours is a family of liking the family pet indoors. In the home I grew up in, the family dog had to stay outside ... on a long chain ... even in the dead of winter. But we have many fond stories of our family dogs in the Christenson household, just like Kulani has good stories about his family cats in the Fisher family. (His mom also did not allow inside pets.)
But back to Jessie. He was almost taken to the sausage factory on a few occasions. We got Jessie when he was 6 months old. For the first six months of his life, he stayed at the breeders home, who taught him how to be a good dog. So, not because of our doing, Jessie is basically the best dog in the whole world. However, he has his misbehaving moments. I used to watch children in my home, and sometimes the kids would open the door and Jessie would bolt out of the house and down the road faster than I could catch him. He got caught by the dog catcher on a few occasions.

So we bought him a shock collar and a periphery fence you bury underground. For some reason, holes existed in the periphery fence, because Jessie was able to escape from the electric fence. So then we invested in the radio fence. It's a little box that emits a circular electrical pulse that Jessie cannot crossover without getting a huge jolt. The safe zone is only in our yard. Ever since then, he has been the perfect dog. He can be both inside and outside the house. As I tell Kulani, Jessie and I have more of a working relationship. He knows I'm not huge into petting him and showing him a lot of love, but I'm the one he comes to when he needs to go outside or needs food and water. He goes to Kulani and the kids for love and affection.

There's a family in our neighborhood that Kulani and I try to emulate. We love this family, and all of their kids seem so well behaved and nice. We had them over for dinner once, and they told us, "We have pets because we're raising kids." We took that as our own philosophy. The value of a family pet is well-worth the effort. Children learn to love animals, which in turn helps them to love other living creatures including humans. You have to teach children how to be kind to animals and pet softly. A pet can be a child's best confidant; pets, especially dogs, are eager to have human touch and companionship. And it also teaches responsibility in feeding the pet.

Before we got the shock fence, Jessie ran away and came back with a badly damaged eye. The vet said it was likely from someone hitting him with a bat or something. That eye is now dead and blue looking, poor guy. But he doesn't act too bothered by it. Our vet, Dr. Coleman (AKA THE BEST VET IN THE WORLD!), said these types of incidents are common with dogs and not to worry too much about it. If it flares up, we visit Dr. Coleman, and he gives us a prescription that helps the swelling and charges us a mere pittance for the visit. If you live anywhere in Utah County, I must advise you take your animals to Dr. Coleman. He's cheap and excellent, and he understands that pets are pets; not children. Because when all is said and done, we'd pay as many thousands of dollars as possible to fix one of our children's eyes. But Jessie? He'll just have to make due with the one.

Luau '07

It has come and gone. If you missed it, my apologies. We had plenty of food to wipe out starvation in three third-world countries, or at least starvation for a whole bunch of people for approximately 4 to 12 hours depending. We fed approximately 150 people in three different groups. From noon to 2 p.m., we fed family. From 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. we fed the neighbors. From 4 p.m. on we fed Kulani's law firm associates and his biking buds. Kulani manned the grill the whole time, and I played sous chef and daycare worker.

Luau By the Numbers:
  • 120 pounds of chicken (chicken quarters marinated in Kulani's "Hauli Killer" sauce and finished on the grill)
  • 50 pounds of sirloin (sliced thinly, marinated, and grilled to make Kalbi)
  • 120 pounds of pork (cooked slowly in ovens overnight, shredded, then add in juices and salt)
  • 20 pounds of potatoes and some carrots for Argentine potato salad (a throwback to the mission)
  • 30 cups of rice
  • Two big salmon fillets from Costco for lomi-lomi salmon (with fresh tomatoes from Angela's garden)
  • Six Costco packages of mild Italian sausages (to grill Argentine style, with chimichurri sauce)

And special thanks to family who helped provide more authentic Hawaiian cuisine: Angela brought her chicken long rice. She makes delicious chicken long rice. Kuhia provided the ever popular Haupia (coconut pudding). This year he brought just the right amount, as there was none left over. Kehaulani brought awesome guava cake. Jonelle brought poke and poi. Mighty tasty. And friends brought desserts and salads. Thanks to all.

A very special thanks goes to my sweet neighbor girl Kyra O'Brien for watching Nohea for me so I could have two hands to work. And to Alika for being so helpful with whatever we asked him to do. And to Ben who helped man the grill all Saturday.

This year we tried entertaining the little kids a bit more by having a treasure hunt. That only lasted all of 10 minutes. So next year we'll need to work even harder on the games. Not to be Grandpa Simpson here, but in my day, all we needed were two things to represent flags or a ball, and we would go to the park to play some type of ball game or capture the flag. Kids these days need entertainment. Grumble, grumble, grumble.

The question I get asked the most when we do our annual luau is why? Why go to all this work for no particular reason? For us, it's two fold. We are continuing the traditions of Kulani's Hawaiian ancestry by remembering how to cook the native foods, and in keeping with Hawaiian traditions, you do NOT exclude anyone from a luau. You must have enough food for anyone to drop in and have some. And secondly, to be together with people and enjoy their company and talk with each other. With the invention of blogs, Internet, text messaging, the ability to communicate in person with people may be on the same path as the dinosaur. We're doing our part to keep the lines of communication open. If you missed it this year, there's always next year. Mahalo.

Pictures: Kyra holding Nohea at the luau.

I bought two gazebo tents at Big Lots for 75% off for $25 a piece. They served us well for the luau then broke apart after the event. Good thing I paid the 75% off price and not the full pop. The following is a picture of people eating underneath the tent. We also set out blankets and pillows, so in true Hawaiian style, people could take a nap between feeding one and feeding two (or second lunch, as some hobbits call it).

Monday, September 3, 2007

Go, Mighty Cougars!

For nearly every important home game over the past 10 years, Kulani and I have had seats in Cougar Stadium. Last Saturday, we again took our seats in Cougar Stadium to watch them retire number 14--Gifford Nielsen's and Ty Detmer's number. Ty is my favorite BYU quarterback of all time. Me and my friends Jana Baily and Keri Anderson were in attendance when BYU beat Miami in 1990. They passed out paper ties that said "Tysman for Heisman." Later that season Ty won the Heisman trophy. And now we are continuing the tradition (or brainwashing if you're with the other teams) of watching Cougar football with our daughters, as we are now a family of season ticket holders. Kulani helps teach a class at the law school, so we qualify for faculty tickets. Our tickets aren't too far away from my sister Amy's family or from Uncle Fred's tickets. Uncle Fred is the one who instigated our love for Cougar football. He's been getting at least a dozen season tickets for BYU football since the early 80s. His family is small, so he gives the other tickets away each game, and occassionally he sells some. Growing up, we were able to go to at least one game a year thanks to Uncle Fred.
The team looked great on Saturday when they beat Arizona. Kulani didn't get to sit with us because he had the difficult task of sitting in the Legacy seats and eating the prime rib lunch, chocolate-fountain-dipped fruit, BYU ice cream, and other goodies. A friend of his gave him the ticket. So we took my nephew Hekili to the game in Kulani's spot. Hekili is 11 years old and loves playing football. He hadn't been to a game since he was five. It was a complete joy to take him. Not only did he help me with the girls, but he was just entertaining to watch. Some of the things Hekili said:
"I can't miss the haka. Yes, that is so cool!"

"Oh, I want to play here someday so bad!"
"Can I keep this souvenir cup? Thanks!"
"I'm going to have this fight song memorized by the end of this game."

Hekili even printed out the lyrics of the fight song so he could sing it after every touchdown. He didn't know they flashed the words up on the scoreboard for people to sing along. It's easy to treat young kids to those kinds of activities when they're so appreciative. Here's a picture of Hekili at the game.

Here's a picture of Lissy having a meltdown at the game. It was quite hot.

Here's a picture of Nohea being sweet at the game:

And here's a picture of Hekili and Lilia on the Cougar.

Can't wait for the next game!