Wednesday, January 1, 2014

2013 Christmas/New Year's Letter



As I am always reminded of in this time of year when we reflect back on the past year, I realize that I have been truly blessed with wonderful friends and family.  In fact, I have so many friends and family that I cannot send physical Christmas cards to everyone I would like to anymore.  Luckily, I have this handy, incredibly often-used blog with which to send out our greetings (with photo enhancements!!!).


Hanke Journal-Sentinel - 2013
I decided to turn over a new leaf in this year’s Christmas letter.  No, I don’t intend it to fit onto one side of the page (that’s only, like, 1000 words – are you nuts?).  I’m going to scrap organizing this letter chronologically, since the first full year as a family of three (more on that later) really was defined less by events and more by day-to-day experiences.  It’s OK, though, since I’ve found that parenthood definitely relaxed my engineer’s need for control and organization– like how when you have to pick up James’ crayons 3 times a day, you can no longer organize them by color EVERY time.  Either that or I’m mellowing in my old age; after all, I am a thirty-something now.

James at the beginning of 2013
The biggest joy this year has been watching James grow from a baby boy to a little man.  Looking back it’s hard to believe that at the beginning of 2013, he was still not sleeping through the night (finally started doing that around 1 year old!!!!), not walking (again, around his first birthday – now it’s a challenge to get him to WALK and not run), not talking (he’s a Hanke – is anyone surprised that he’s also a talker?), and not eating much table food (well, some things didn’t really change much!).  James had a wonderful 1st birthday party in March, with all of his
James' 1st birthday.
grandparents and aunts and uncles making the trip, and his ear infection that week didn’t stop him from absolutely destroying his cake.  Soon after, Sarah and I (and Sarah’s mom Vicki, who babysits regularly when Sarah works) found out how exhausting chasing after a child is when you have to literally chase after him.  James is definitely an energetic child – his two favorite games right now are hide-and-seek (though you can’t hide too well, or he’ll just give up) and pushing his toy dump truck all over the house and “kaboom”-ing it into pretty much everything.  The Christmas tree is still standing as I write this, but I’m not certain it will make it until Christmas.  In summer, James loved to go for walks to the park, pick up all the neighbor’s crabapples on the way, and endlessly walk on the wooden board edging by the pond behind our house.  (PS – We are still renting the same house in Ann Arbor from an old NASA colleague).  Once the weather changed, he became obsessed with raking leaves, and got his first taste
James at a local waterpark for Labor Day.


of snow shoveling today.  It’s a good thing that James is a great napper – without the break, I think Mommy and Grandma would be on the 3:10 train to Crazytown by now.
To precisely no one’s surprise, James is also quite the little chatterbox.  Sarah and I sat down one night around his 18-month birthday and wrote down all of the words that we knew he recognized and said.  We gave up around 200 or so, and it seems like the list gets longer every day.  Now, he’ll count to ten (though he sometimes skips four and goes right to five – too much Monty Python and the Holy Grail in the womb?), spell his name, identify pretty much all letters of the alphabet (we love how he usually just says “Double” for W), and pretty much talk about SOMETHING nonstop, often rather loudly.  Just goes to show that not all traits breed true, right?  We’re still working on the finer points of language, such as the fact that you can, in fact, answer a question like “Do you want to go upstairs and change your diaper?” with “Yes.”  All these language skills should really come in handy for James when he grows up and starts working at his dream job – which, at this point, is probably garbage man (kid is OBSESSED!).  All joking aside, and with the full disclaimer that he can oftentimes be exhausting and frustrating like any almost-two-y
James at his first MLB game

.
ear old, Sarah and I are so blessed to see the exuberant, joyful boy James is starting to become and witness him learning and growing every day.
We got on College Gameday for a hot second in September!
If it weren’t for getting to watch James grow this year, I might consider labeling 2013 as the Year of the Baby.  I mean, seriously – those things were popping up left and right this year!  First, Sarah and I met our new nephew Ethan David Doutsas, born to Sarah’s sister and her husband on Feb. 1st in Iowa.  We both made it out to see Ethan born again into God’s family, and Sarah stayed out a few extra days to bond.  Along with baby Ethan, both of Jeremy’s best friends from college and Sarah’s best friend either met their own little bundles of joy or will soon after the new year, along with several other friends.  Then, of course, there is the little minor detail that Sarah and I found out in July that we would be expanding our little family again, and we’re going to need a completely new wardrobe for this one!  Baby Girl is due April 3, 2014 (though we know from experience that date is more suggestion than anything), and we are SOOO excited!  OK, maybe a little terrified as well – the chaos level in the Hanke house should increase just a bit this spring – but mostly we are dying to meet our little darling, especially after seeing her kick, flip, clap, laugh, and talk (of course!) during our ultrasound last month.
James is gonna be a big brother in 2014!
Gorgeous live oaks lining a street in Aiken, SC.
The dunes at Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore near Traverse City.
We did manage to fit a number of fun trips and mini-vacations into the year as well.  As mentioned, we headed out to Iowa in February for Ethan’s baptism, but also made it to WI to celebrate our niece Elissa’s birthday, two events that would have been much harder to attend before we moved back to MI.  In April, all three of us flew back down to Newport News for a wedding in VA for our first “family vacation.”  It was a great opportunity to see all of our friends and colleagues in VA that we’ve missed dearly since moving, but somewhat bittersweet at times.  A less conflicted trip happened a few short weeks later, when Sarah and I flew to Aiken, SC for another wedding, our first trip without James.  Sarah did really well for her first time away from James (maybe a little TOO well, at times!), and we had a blast dancing the night away then exploring the area and local plantations the next day.  Still, two days was long enough to be apart from James, and coming home to his smiling face was lovely.  We took a longer break to visit friends and family in WI for 4th of July, where James got his first boat ride with Grandpa and we caught a Brewer game as a family (without James since it was a night game – his first baseball game came at a Tigers game later in July).  Sarah and I were able to get away for a romantic weekend at a B&B near Traverse City, MI for our 6th anniversary in September.  We hiked in the gorgeous sand dunes of Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore, visited the Grand Traverse lighthouse, hit a winery and a cider mill along the way, and finished with a wonderful meal at the Bistro Foufou in Traverse City.  Our last family trip of the year was back to WI in October, and James had a blast playing with my parents’ temporarily adopted kitten.  For Thanksgiving, we enjoyed not having to pack a suitcase for the first time since college, as we celebrated with Sarah’s family (all 40 or so that made it!) here in MI.  We will be traveling back to WI for Christmas.
It has been a rewarding year for us professionally and personally as well.  Sarah has continued to work part-time as a cook at Zingerman’s Delicatessen in Ann Arbor, where she periodically supplies us with fantastic bread from their bakery and other goodies.  She really enjoys the work and her co-workers, and they have been fantastically flexible about her hours and schedule, which has been a great help.  I have settled into my position as an Application Engineer at CD-adapco in Northville this year.  The first 6-8 months on the job were quite an adjustment, but as the year went on, I have grown much more comfortable.  The work is challenging, stimulating, and diverse, as I have been involved with simulations as varied as dipping a car frame into corrosion-resistant paint, to flow down a waterslide, to the forces on an airplane wing coming in for landing.  The amount of travel has been just about right, and I have gotten to visit clients in St. Louis, Moline, Indianapolis, Huntsville, Newport News, and Toronto.  In addition to work, we have found a wonderful church home at Trinity Lutheran in Saline, MI, and have enjoyed singing in the talented choir.
So, with that, I will wrap up this year’s letter a little early for once (first time ever that the first draft didn’t come in at over 2 pages!).  We have been so blessed this year with our growing son and soon-to-be-growing family, and we have truly cherished being closer to our families and many old friends over the past year.  It really does feel like we have come “home.”  Our prayer is that the Christmas season finds you and yours also reflecting on a joyous and rewarding year and spending the holiday season enjoying the company of those you love.  Finally, may you be filled with the good news of a Savior this Christmas, for there is no greater love.

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  Romans 5:8


                                              Jeremy, Sarah and James Hanke
Merry Christmas and a happy and healthy New Year from our family to yours!!!
 

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Thursday, February 2, 2012

2011 Christmas Letter

It's over a month after Christmas now, so it's fitting for this blog (is it really a blog with a post every 3 months?) that I FINALLY am getting the annual Hanke Christmas Letter for 2011 up here.  For those unfamilar with the procedure, back in the old days (ie, college) I used to send out Christmas cards with a ridiculously long letter to all my friends and family every year.  When I got married, we realized that doubling the number of cards to send out was not really an option, so we cut the list down to basically just family with one or two good friends.  However, I've tried to find a good electronic outlet for this every year, since I know EVERYONE is just DYING to read my Christmas letter.  Or something like that.

Well, even though I haven't actually used this blog for much, I finally have a perfect forum for putting out the Hanke Christmas letter electronically.  I originally finished the letter about a week before Christmas, but never got around to putting it up here until now.  An added bonus of the electronic version is that I can add some pictures to help tell the story.

So, since the letter is approximately 10,000 words long on it's own, let's just get started.  Merry (belated) Christmas!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Why Ryan Braun is MVP and Other Random Baseball Thoughts

Ryan Braun - Straight-up killer.  And MVP.
So, most of this past week I had been thinking about writing some posts on the end of the baseball season, thinking about what to write, thinking about how to do it, and - as I have been wont to do ever since I started this blog - doing nothing about it.

One of the posts I wanted to do involved making my case why Ryan Braun should win the NL MVP instead of Matt Kemp (as I fear is going to happen).  I was also going to touch on the other major awards from my vantage point, though they are generally not too controversial this year.  I promise that I will get to those ideas briefly near the end of this post.  I also do need to go back and review my preseason predictions as promised (note: that is NOT going to be pretty - thanks a bunch, Twins!). 

However, I would not be a baseball fan with a blog or any outlet of writing words down if I let what transpired on Wednesday, September 28, 2011 go by without saying a little about that most magical of nights for any true fan of the game.  Although all Braves and Red Sox fans would probably use different words to describe it.

Monday, September 12, 2011

I Will Not Forget

The internet certainly does not need another account of the events that happened 10 years ago today on September the 11th, 2001.  I did not know anyone who was killed or had a loved one killed or injured in the attacks, I have never lived in New York City, and had not yet lived in Virginia in 2001.  I had not seen the Pentagon since I was a little boy in 2001.  In short, I have no more personal connection to the events of 9/11 than the vast majority of Americans, and my story is not one of extraordinary courage or hardship or hope.

And yet, as I find myself ten long years and half a country away from where I was that fateful day, I find a need to talk (or blog in this case) about my feelings about those events.  One of the pastors at our church (Resurrection Evangelical Lutheran Church in Chesapeake, VA - go to www.builtonjesus.org to find out more) preached a sermon this morning that touched on 9/11 in the context of the Biblical texts concerning teaching the Word of God to children.  One of his points was that you tell your children Bible stories and stories about important events that occurred during your lifetime because they did not live through those events.  It is important to remember the past, because in recounting the past, they learn about what God has done for his people in the past and may glean lessons that help them to deal with their future

While I do not hold any conceits that my story will lead to any important lessons or meaning, I do know that an 18-year old boy away from home for the first time in his life made a promise ten years ago to never forget the events that happened that day.  It is 3652 days later (give or take), and I have not forgotten.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Return of the Blog

In the words of Capt. Malcolm Reynolds from Firefly in the episode "Trash":

Yup.  That went well...

Clearly my commitment to regular blogging was not quite up to snuff back in spring when I last posted something up here.  I would apologize to any loyal readers if, of course, I had written enough posts to HAVE loyal readers.

However, since I didn't really set out with any real purpose for this blog other than a desire to write something every now and then, it's not really an issue that I decided to take a 6 month break.  I do intend to actually start posting regularly up here, and have some ideas on how to actually make that happen.  We'll see how it goes!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Randomness on Campus or Why I Love Working at a College

While on my afternoon run through campus today, I saw something that gave me a subject for my first post-an unexplained, random sighting of weirdness that is so common to college campuses. I'll get to what exactly it was in a minute, but first, a little background. At my undergrad alma mater, the University of Michigan, there was plenty of random weirdness on campus. Possibly the best known example is Bra Guy. His normal attire was a pair of men's jeans, no shirt, colorful bra (red seemed to be a favorite) and a pack of cigarettes conveniently stuck under the bra strap. His apparent occupation was to strut his stuff around campus, giving people something to talk about. My sister and I once saw him riding a bike in a neglige (also red). Then there was the Diag Screamer. I assume this guy was a student, since I saw him frequently and he was wearing a backpack, but his claim to fame was listening to music with his headphones and then screaming the lyrics at an incredible volume, causing everyone around him to give him plenty of space. Whenever I spotted him, he was on the Diag, hence the moniker. Also frequently on the Diag were a variety of Diag Preachers who shouted such encouraging thoughts to passersby as "You're going to hell!" Hardly the most effective method for saving souls. This usually ended in a screaming match between the Diag Preacher and a bunch of angry students. Another good example of campus weirdness is Hash Bash. Hash Bash is basically an excuse for all the pot smokers on campus and in Ann Arbor to congregate on the Diag and surrounding areas under an illegal haze and somehow still manage to not get arrested. I could go on some more about random weirdness at U of M, like the 6 foot tall vagina constructed on the Diag to advertise the play The Vagina Monologues (people were encouraged to walk through it) or the guy who plays the harmonica and the washboard by the UgLi (undergraduate library) who looks homeless but is really a professor, but let's move on to the recent random weirdness I've seen on the campus of my graduate alma mater and current place of employment, the College of William & Mary.

Here's the random weirdness tally in the past few weeks for W&M:

1. About a month ago, I was chased by bees while running. Not weird nor entirely random, you say? Well, these "bees" were actually 20 or so female students with paper wings on their backs, running in a pack and making buzzing sounds. Okay. Well at first, we were running towards each other and after I registered what was coming towards me, I looked for a way around them. They had other plans, however. As I approached, they split ranks and I passed through the middle of the buzzing crowd. I looked back because, really you don't see this every day, and I saw them change direction. Then they chased me. Buzzing. And I, being fleet of foot (ahem) picked up speed until they got tired and went to freak out someone else. I still have no idea what they were doing.

2. Last week, while walking to a meeting, I passed a girl carrying a large, clear plastic container with two baby pigs inside. My head whipped around and I'll admit it, I stared. Yup, confirmed, she was carrying two live baby pigs. Weird, I thought, but I had to make it to my meeting so I didn't have time to satisfy my curiousity. On my way back to my office from the meeting, I passed another student, this time leading a llama. Apparently there was an impromptu (as impromptu as it can be while still managing to acquire farm animals) petting zoo on campus. Sweet! Again, no idea what they were doing.

3. Today while running, I saw the random weirdness that caused me to write this, my inaugural post: three students, standing on the corner of Jamestown and Richmond Roads, dressed head to toe in bright yellow banana suits. 'Nuff said.


This post is dedicated to those crazy kids in banana suits. I love working on a college campus! And no, I have no idea what they were doing.