Last Updated 09/21/2009

I met Hanna in September, 1997. We were setup by her roommate for the Homecoming dance -- Flamingo Ball -- because Hanna already had a dress but no date. Looking for a date, I happily agreed to escort her, on the grounds that we meet and approve first.

We first met very briefly at a Luther College Jazz Band concert, being held in the now-defunct Dante's at Luther College. We didn't have time to talk or anything. The next time I saw her was at a tennis meet on campus. At that time, I actually met her parents and talked to them more than I had talked to her. Hanna later confessed that my presence made her extremely nervous. I just remember how beautiful I thought she looked playing tennis in one of those cute tennis skirts.

By May 1998, Hanna had agreed to marry me. I had talked about marriage almost from day one, which scared the dickens out of her. However, after a few months of getting acquainted, she finally gave in to my requests.

In June 1998, I moved to Chicago, where my new job was located. This made wedding planning and visiting somewhat difficult with Hanna being left behind, first in Minnesota student teaching, second back at Luther finishing up her final semester. In Feburary 1999 I moved back to Minnesota, transferring to the Minneapolis office of INS. I left INS in May to join Ernst & Young LLP, also in Minneapolis, where I continue to work today.

This picture is from the 1998 office Christmas party. At the time, I was based out of the Chicago (Schaumburg) office of International Network Services (INS). A good friend, Denise, took the picture for us with her digital camera. It's the first digital picture that I had available for posting online. The party was held at the Museum of Science and Industry on the south side of Chicago.

The wedding came off without any major incidents on July 10th, 1999, in Redwood Falls, MN. I cried like a baby, as did my entire family. The only major goof was when the string quartet jumped the gun at the end of the ceremony, incorrectly believing that the introduction of the couple meant it was time to go (we still had the benediction and kiss to do!). But, it served well to break the tension and I was able to chuckle and stop crying, which was a good thing.

We went to Walt Disney World in Orlando, FL, for the honeymoon, staying at the Disney Coronado Springs Resort. We had a good time, hitting all the parks, Typhoon Lagoon, and Downtown Disney. We've decided that we'd like to go back in a few years and participate in one of the Disney Institute programs. Since I'm talking so much about Disney, I should mention that you can find them online at Go figure. :)

We've come a long way since Minnesota. In the 5+ years since our wedding, Hanna has lived in Minnesota, Montana and Virginia while I've additionally lived in Pennsylvania. In August 2001 Hanna moved to Great Falls, MT, where she began teaching at the Raynesford School, some 30 miles east of Great Falls. I followed a few weeks later, with the assistance of her father, driving an overloaded Uhaul over Labor Day weekend on very little sleep. Never again! Unfortunately, I was not able to salvage my job with Wells Fargo in the process. Management fluxtuated back and forth between approval and denial of my request to work remotely full-time. In restrospect, I could have maintained a temporary address in Minnesota and made it work, but you know what they say -- hindsite is 20/20!

Instead, I resigned my position the week of my departure, leaving me wondering how we would make ends meet. I figured that Montanans must have computers, and that, as a result, I could find a job. In the meantime, Hanna worked as the Supervising Teacher in a K-8 country school where there were only a dozen kids total. The other teacher doubled as cook and janitor for the school. She also only made around $19k/year, so things were very tight.

As all the world knows, September 2001 was not a good month. It certainly made getting a job difficult. By October, I finally had work and Hanna continued with Raynesford. The job only held up for about 6 months, and so it was back on the hunt for me. By Summer, I had a gig with ICSA Labs, but all the way out in Mechanicsburg, PA! Because we had no money, Hanna ended up staying behind in Montana while I moved to Pennsylvania. Talk about a highly challenging time in our marriage!

After another 6 months or so, I was able to return to my original job in Great Falls, allowing me to share the same roof with Hanna. I viewed this move more as an opportunity to reset than anything else. As planned, after 9 months I found a new position that we hoped would last a while. I moved to Billings, MT, while Hanna remained in Great Falls. The intention was for Hanna to join me the following June (2004) and for us to settle down for a while.

Unfortunately, luck was not on our side. Less than 90 days into my new job, my position was terminated, my project approved a couple days later, justifying my efforts while adding insult to injury. This, of course, posed a whole new set of problems. Once again, I was stuck in Montana with a tech background and no tech work!! Hanna, of course, was still with Raynesford School, enjoying almost every minute. The situation, then, posed a bit of a dilemna. Almost certainly, my job prospects were going to take me outside the state again. But what would Hanna do? And could she afford to move with me anyway? And what about Raynesford School? It was the middle of the school year!

As luck would have it, just two weeks prior to my being let go, I had received email from a security geek at AOL. Jill had asked me, out of the blue, if I was looking for work. At the time, I told her I had a job, but also intimated that the project was a hit-or-miss kind of deal and within a couple weeks, I would know whether or not my efforts had been wasted. So, upon hearing of my release, I immediately contacted her and was interviewed by the team manager within hours. Later that week, I phone screened with the entire team, and then a few days after that I flew to Virginia to interview in person.

Back to the original questions of concern, Hanna immediately stated that she was moving with me this time, no matter what. The 6-month period of separation while I worked in Pennsylvania had been a terrible burden on both of us and not something she wanted to repeat. Fortunately, my offer from AOL included a full relocation package. Thus, the only major challenge was for Hanna to break her contract with Raynesford School. In the end, this came off without much of a hitch (as least, no hitches upon which I'll elaborate). Me made the move to Virgina and have been here ever since. The official move was around the first of the year, 2004.

Today, Hanna is a K-1 teacher in the Fairfax County Public Schools. For those people unfamiliar with Fairfax County, imagine the ritzy suburbs outside of the DC where Senators, diplomats, etc., live. The average income is very high, the district very affluent, the kids well-educated. For the most part, a complete 180 from Montana. We've gone from dirt-poor to silver-spoon-rich. Amazing! This is the first time that Hanna has taught her own class of K-1 kiddies and it stands to be very fun and challenging. In addition to teaching, Hanna is also talking about starting grad. school, such as at nearby George Mason University. It sounds like she'd enjoy an advanced degree focusing on Gifted & Talented education. Something to which to look forward!

Below is a picture of Hanna in front of The Lodge at Cloudcroft, NM. This picture was taken August 14th, 2004. Feel free to click on it to see the full-size image. Cloudcroft was our last stop during our August whirlwind vacation throughout New Mexico. Truly a wonderful place to stay. Highly recommended!

12/18/06: It's the holiday season and I have a couple new pictures, so thought I'd add them in here, where nobody ever looks. ;)  We recently attended our third consequetive AOL Holiday Party out at the Smithsonian Udvar-Hazy Air & Space Museum, near Dulles Airport (IAD).  We got a good deal at soon-to-be-closed Janeville on an outfit for Hanna, and I recently picked up a new charcoal pinstripe three-button suit from Joseph A. Banks for about half price (thanks to corporate discounts, online coupons, etc.).

Ben & Hanna

Hanna's new dress

9/21/09: It's hard to believe that I haven't written here for such a long time. Since the last update, above, we've greatly expanded our family. Check out our little boo over on Shutterfly if you have a chance. She's now over 1yo, growing like a weed, and an absolute joy in our lives. There are days when you wonder how you're going to get through the day, and she routinely provides that reason, with a smile, a giggle (or a "ducka ducka ducka"), and reinforced with a hug.