Monday, December 22, 2008

It's Christmas Time in the... er... city?

Anyone who has ever been to this lovely little spot knows it is a pretty big stretch to call it a city. The fact that I address our utility bills to the "City of" and not some monopolizing power company is proof enough that this is a still a small town. So, it's Christmastime in our small town.

I've been a horrible blogger lately. I get kind of annoyed when people blog about how bad they are at blogging, and yet here I am-- similar to yelling at your kids while you're on the phone with someone, or not returning e-mails, or telling people that you're going to cry/try not to take too long/just read from your paper when you're giving a talk in church-- all things I don't like, yet find myself doing again and again. Anyway, I've kind of been waiting for things to slow down a bit to catch up on everything I've been neglecting, but I suddenly realized that this is my life and it isn't showing any signs of slowing down any time soon. So, I have to prioritize. I do love to read your blogs and e-mails, and I love knowing what is going on in your life. I realize that I need to reciprocate my part in our communication, so I'm really going to try to keep my end of the bargain. I can't promise daily posts at this point, but I can promise that I'll make a regular effort to keep in touch.

Plus, let's be honest here-- I'm just vain enough to enjoy reading my own writing. Hee.

Anyway, back to the update: Chris is still in SLC tonight, working out the details for our van purchase. If only buying a new car was like buying a sweater: you go to the store, pick out the one you like, try it on, go through the checkout, and voila, you've got yourself a new sweater. Unfortunately, it's a much longer and more drawn out process, so hopefully tomorrow will bring home a hubby and a car that seats lots of people.

It's a pretty even mixture of excitement and trepidation that I'm feeling when I think about becoming a mini-van mom. Owning a mini-van breaks yet another promise I made to myself as a teenager (yes, there are more, don't get me going-- I should have just shut my mouth from age 15-18) and makes me officially uncool. But, I'm accepting my uncoolness, as I suspect it has actually been around for quite some time, and I'm working on embracing, rather than unhappily surrendering to my soccer mom status. We did look at SUVs, but the constant request for a friend to come home from school with Thomas and the constant "He's touching me!" in the back seat ruled out a 5 passenger vehicle, and neither Chris nor I could really get excited about having little boy footprints on the middle seat of our car when they jumped to the back of a three-row SUV. Plus, they're quite a bit more expensive to buy, insure and maintain, and we're nothing if not practical. So, there you have it. And hopefully the thing has enough traction and weight that Jen won't have to push me out of a snowbank! :)

Back to Christmastime-- it's in full swing around here! YAY! Thomas is out of school and we've already had some Christmas guests. And of course, I've taken every opportunity to make and eat those goodies that we only make this time of year. Mmm.

Our tree this year is one of my favorites ever. Since adding the piano, our already small living room is especially packed, so we really didn't have much space for a tree. We moved the end tables to a temporary location and moved the love seat into the corner, and just barely had a tiny little space left. Luckily, Chris and my brother, Jake, found this tall, skinny tree that fits just perfectly. It reminds me a lot of the tree we got in Washington when we drove up into the mountains and cut it down ourselves. We may have to do that next year-- it's so fun. Anyway, our tree couldn't be more perfect.

There is nothing more festive than pulling out all of your old ornaments. I love just sitting and looking at them. If you came into my living room and looked at our tree, you would know that we have sons, that there is at least one Utah fan in the house, and that we've been to some fun places. Our ornament this year was purchased in Vancouver, BC-- a real maple leaf set in metal.

At the beginning of the month, Chris and I went to my company Christmas Party. I borrowed a dress from my sister, Caitlan, and got a little bit dressed up. It was fun, and don't we look cute? Aw.

A few days later, I bought a ready-to-make Gingerbread house kit at Michael's. I had thought that the boys would just go crazy with the decorating, and had planned to let each of them tackle half of the house. Instead, they looked together on the box the kit came in, picked out one of the sample designs, and meticulously placed each little candy while I frosted. It was really cute. They didn't even try to eat any of the kit candy-- of course, having a little bowl of M&Ms nearby helps with that!

I have some more to show and tell, but this will have to suffice for now. Only three days 'til Christmas!!

Oh, and I don't think you read this, my friend Anna, but if you do: HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!

Saturday, December 20, 2008


From Chris:
We are a one-car family — for the moment anyway. 

Our Camry sold today — a lot faster than we had expected. I'm off to Salt Lake on Monday to bring back a "big, juicy van." (That's a quote from Seinfeld, for those of you who didn't notice it.) We were really sad to see our Camry go, but a nice young man who needed it got it.

When I said we are a one-car family, what I really meant was we are a half-car family, because that's what a Kia Sportage is - half of a regular car. At least it's paid off.

Hopefully, Elise's Christmas present will look something like this (without the dopey guy sitting in the driver's seat, of course):

Monday, December 15, 2008

Camry for Sale

Know anyone who wants a wonderful, reliable Camry? Ours is for sale. Check out the ad here.

I am really sad to be selling our Camry-- it has been the best car! We're just a little too squished when we're all riding in it, so we've decided that it's time to expand. Boo.

How stinking cute is that!?

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Ah, Gordon.

No, these aren't block towers. Look closely and you'll see that they're each made exactly the same. He made a whole army of them-- ten, I think.

Here's a hint:

Pretty clever, huh?

Gordon certainly keeps life fun and interesting. Here are just a few funnies from the past couple of weeks:

"Mom, you have a big, huge, gigantic bum. And Neil has a teeny, tiny bum."

(Don't you just love 3-year-old body observations?)

While watching "Scrooge" with Chris, "Is that guy Screwed?"

Neil was fussing in the car on the way home from dropping Thomas off at school. I said, "Oh, Neil, what are we going to do with you?" Gordon said, "How 'bout 'time out'"?

Little Neil

Or not-so-little Neil, depending on who you talk to. While it is true that Neil has mastered the growing thing in his short two months of life, he's still only in the 32nd percentile on the chart, so he's still a little thing. Mmm, and he is a luscious little thing! I just love his squishy little body and his soft baby skin, not to mention that amazing baby smell. Sigh. If he could just stay small!

Neil-Nee-Neil, as Gordon calls him, has been smiling a lot in the last couple of days, though I have yet to capture it on my camera. It's quite heart-warming, and everyone else in the family has made it a regular practice to try to get those smiles to surface. I think you can see hints in these pictures...

He has also discovered his thumb-- how sweet is that? Neither of the older boys were thumb-suckers, so we'll see if Neil keeps this up. I just think it's cute.

We went to the doctor today and received all good news-- Neil is growing well and is developmentally on track. He did have to get some immunizations, which always breaks my heart a bit, but he was a little trooper. Love this boy!

After-Thanksgiving Thanksgiving

Since Chris had to work on T-Day, his parents were generous enough to delay their traditional celebration for Saturday, when we could join them in Salt Lake. Aside from the flood, we had another perfectly wonderful weekend!

While Grammuh was finishing the dinner on Saturday, Grampuh took the boys to Toys R Us and let them pick out some toys to bring home. Gordon chose a sidewalk chalk set, which he and Chris used to make the small sidewalk in Gramm's backyard look quite colorful, and a Thomas the Train DVD. Thomas picked a large drawing pad and a very fancy art set. His set includes several different types of artist tools-- crayons, paints, markers, and even oil pastels. Here he is with his first masterpiece-- in mixed media, of course.

Thanks, Grampuh, for spoiling our boys!!

Speaking of spoiling, Chris was definitely in heaven with three kinds of pie. I think I've mentioned before that I am not a pie person-- I am no good at making it and never do, and I really don't prefer eating it to other desserts like, say, cake. Chris, on the other hand, loves almost every kind of pie (maybe every kind, I can't think of one he doesn't like) and can make a mean pie crust himself. He got his pie-making skills from his mother, and he looks forward to her pies with great anticipation. He also likes the real whipped cream, as you can clearly see...

Gordon prefers a cherry on top, or several.

After a delicious meal and a fun day with the family, we got to help decorate the Christmas tree. Chris's parents collect a new ornament each year (we borrowed that tradition in our own family), so it is always fun to open the ornaments and reminisce. The first one on the tree is their first ornament, an adorable Santa. Tommer had the honor of hanging him this year.

We're so thankful for Chris's parents for hosting us for our delayed holiday! It was so much fun!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Recipes: Peanut Butter Treats!

Elena called for Christmas cookie recipes, so I thought I'd share my favorite peanut butter and chocolate treats. There are few things more delicious (or fattening) than peanut butter and chocolate, so you may as well get your fill before those New Years resolutions start!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars
Why buy Reese's when you can make your own?

Grease a 9X13 pan

1 1/4 cups peanut butter
3/4 cups butter, softened
1 cup powdered sugar

Add and mix by hand:
1 more cup powdered sugar
3 cups crushed graham crackers
1/2 cup chocolate chips

Press mixture into pan

Melt on Low heat:
3/4 cup peanut butter
1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

Spread melted mixture over peanut butter layer. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour or until chocolate layer is firm. Try not to eat the whole pan!

Irresistible Peanut Butter Cookies
The little extras make a huge difference in these tasty cookies!

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup peanut butter

then stir in:
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg

Next, add:
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/4 cups flour
(add more flour if your dough is too sticky)

Finally, add
1 cup Reese's peanut butter chips (about 1/2 bag)
6 full sized Reese's peanut butter cups, chopped

Roll into balls and flatten with your hand or with a fork.
Bake at 375 for 7-9 minutes.

Recipe: Dinner Rolls

These are great no-frills rolls. Very simple ingredients, but they turn out great.

2 eggs
3/4 c. sugar
1 tsp salt
1 can of evaporated milk
1/4 cup melted butter
1/4 cup oil
1 cup hot water
1 Tbs quick-rise yeast

Add 5-6 cups of flour, mix thoroughly. Cover and let rise in a warm place for about an hour, or until dough doubles in size.

Form into fist-sized balls and place in greased pan(s). This recipe yields 21 rolls, so I use a 9X13 and an 8X8 pan. Cover and let rise another hour. Bake at 375 for 20-25 minutes.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

I'm not going to ask you again...

Addresses, people!

I'm putting my Christmas cards together tonight and thought that there are some of you who really should get a card from me, but won't if I don't have your address. I love sending Christmas cards-- it's an important part the holidays for me. Every year, the week after Christmas, I buy my cards for the next year. Then, I hide them away for the year, forget all about them, then surprise myself with my selections when I get them out in December. It's so fun and it kind of kicks off the season for me. Those of you who have received my cards in the past also know that I always enclose a newsletter (one that I usually go overboard on, and this year is no exception) and usually enclose a little prize as well. It's all very Christmas-y.

And it's not e-mail-able, so if you want one, send me your address. You know who you are. elisehansen1 at hotmail.

I don't like stragglers, so if I don't have your address by tomorrow, you'll have to wait for next year.

By the way, I have a TON of stuff to blog, but I need to get these cards done first. Sorry. :)

Friday, December 05, 2008

Fun with Photoshop

I know, I know. I'm driving myself crazy with my lack of blogging! It has been a busy week and I've been working on a couple of projects that really needed to get finished. Fortunately, I'm almost caught up-- let's just say that it's kind of amazing how many loads of laundry five people produce, particularly when one of them spits up on everything. Sigh. Anyway, I've just finished a project on Photoshop, and I had to share this little remnant. Fun, huh?

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Come, ye thankful people...

Happy Thanksgiving! Chris had to work (grumble, grumble, grumble), so we had a very non-traditional day. Our big family meal was actually breakfast-- complete with yummy Belgian waffles with strawberries and cream, bacon, sausage, eggs and hot chocolate. We listened to Christmas music while eating, then watched a little bit of the Macy's parade. It was a lovely, relaxing morning.

After Chris went to work, I made a special dinner for the boys and me-- chicken! We're actually headed to my in-laws today for an actual Thanksgiving dinner (thank you to Gary and Marilyn for delaying your feast a couple of days so we could join you!). The boys requested their favorite chicken dish, so I made that and some yummy sides. I did venture out a little bit and made my neighbor's recipe for homemade rolls. They turned out marvelously, which was very exciting because I'm a little inexperienced and nervous when it comes to yeast. I decorated the table with Thanksgiving placemats and candles, and we drank our milk out of the fancy glasses. It was fun to see how careful and polite the boys tried to be for a special dinner. Neiler slept the whole time-- good little boy!

We also made a little paper turkey and wrote on his feathers things we are thankful for. Even though we each only had a few feathers, it was kind of amazing how huge our turkey became! It reminded me again how blessed we are and how important it is to remember to show gratitude in everyday life. We love our families and our friends, and we hope you know how grateful we are for your part in our lives! Thank you!

I should have taken some pictures of our Thanksgiving chicken dinner, but between cooking and setting up, I just didn't. However, there are a few pictures from last weekend I haven't shared yet:

Little Neilio has the cutest grumpy, bed-head face in the world! Aren't those big lips just kissable?

Chris's parents have a fantastic grandparent house. One of the features is a great backyard with a bunch of trees-- perfect shade in the summer, and perfect leaf-producing in the fall. There are few things my kids look forward to more than the prospect of jumping into a big pile of crunchy leaves. This year, Gramm left the leaves out for our boys to enjoy. They had a great time raking the leaves into a big pile, then jumping in, getting buried, and building a tunnel. So fun!

Are these two sweet, or what?

I can't believe that it's finally completely appropriate to listen to Christmas music all the time. Okay, so we started a teeny bit early...

Yesterday, we broke out some of our decorations and I started on the annual newsletter and music mix. It's such a fun time of year!

IMPORTANT: If you moved in the last year, or if you didn't receive a Christmas card from us last year but would like to this year, I NEED YOUR ADDRESS. Please send it to me at elisehansen1 at hotmail ASAP. Grazi.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

A Perfect Day

It doesn't get much better than this for my cute husband: VIP tickets with his dad, rubbing shoulders with notable Utes, a buffet before the game, and a 48-24 win over BYU to bring the season to a perfect 12-0 record. Chris is a most loyal fan, and Saturday's game was the perfect reward! Look out, BCS, here come the Utes!

More from me tomorrow!!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

What are you wearing?

On Sunday, the boys wore sweaters.

Little Neil is wearing his hair long these days!

I'm wearing Neil! (Thanks Kimber and her awesome company!!!)

And "Batman" is wearing some kick-A boots.

Friday, November 14, 2008


I remember a conversation with a coworker long ago where we discussed the fact that I say the word "seriously" way too much. I try not to sound like an idiot, but like a lot of people, I have a couple of words that I just can't seem to cut out of my conversational vocabulary. At least I'm not too bad with "like" and "ya know." My bad habit has rubbed off on the boys, because every other sentence from both Thomas and Gordon has a "seriously" in it. In the last two minutes, I heard this:

Thomas: "Mom, I can't find my other glove! SERIOUSLY!"

Gordon: "I want another snack! Seer-less-lee. I'm really seer-less. Seer-lesslee."

Seriously, this has got to stop.

Here are some non-serious, random pictures from this week...

Chris and the boys having a "candy trading session" with the Halloween leftovers. Fortunately, those once-full buckets are almost empty.

My mom brought Neil this adorable little red romper, just perfect for indoctrinating him into the Utah Ute way of life. As you can see, his dad is quite pleased with his progress.

Finally, here's our little poser. Gordon is such a fun and rambunctious kid, and I've been busy reading a book called "How to Behave, So Your Preschooler Will Too!" We've been having a great time with our discipline challenges this week-- even my mom, who raised six children of her own, said, "I'm not sure what to tell you!"

I did have a funny Gord experience today that helped my perspective a bit. Gordon and I went to the store this morning and he brought along his Luigi hat from Halloween, Lightening McQueen sunglasses, his blanket tied around his shoulders, and a green plastic light saber adorned with two of my hair clips. I nagged him in the car on the way to the store-- "You have to leave your blanket and the light saber in the car"-- but he refused to leave any part of his outfit behind. Tired of arguing, I finally agreed to let him come in as is. He marched through the store, light saber in ready position and a serious glare on his face, and didn't pass a single person who wasn't smiling at his costume. In fact, his appearance also caused a toddler to stop crying and stare, and a grumpy-looking old man to chuckle. I realized how petty and nagging I tend to get with Gordon, and how I focus too much negative attention on things that don't really matter. In truth, it didn't hurt anyone to let him go to the store dressed as "batman", but actually probably put smiles on faces that wouldn't have had them otherwise. And it certainly doesn't hurt to let Gordon use his vibrant imagination! So, the moral of the story: I need to relax and just let Gord be Gord.

Thursday, November 13, 2008


Inches, that is. Actually, if you count the very ends, it's closer to FIFTEEN inches of thick, red braid that Locks of Love will be receiving sometime in the next couple of days.

After more than three years of "growing it out", I was very ready for a change and decided to cut my hair. I had a full day of pampering-- in addition to my trip to the salon, I also had an hour long facial, courtesy of my cute friends, Christy and Holly. It was so relaxing and refreshing! My mom was visiting for a couple of days, so she had the joy of watching the little dudes while I had my girl's day out. Thanks, Mom!

So, here are the before and after pictures...

I am LOVING my new 'do-- less shampoo, less blow-drying time, less weight on my head... it's a good thing. Or, as our President Elect would say, "Change we need"!

Saturday, November 08, 2008

This week...

Gordon decided that he really isn't too old to take naps. Just don't tell him that.

We voted and wore our stickers to prove it.

Then we stayed up really, really late (Chris out of employment obligation and me out of curiosity) to find out the results. I have to admit that I got a little teary listening to both McCain's and Obama's speeches. I thought that McCain conceded with grace and that Obama offered a very moving rally cry to our country. It will be interesting to see what happens now.

I took about 500 pictures of the three boys together. And got one good one.

I went to Soda Springs, ID for the first time to visit my dear friend, Becca, in person for the first time in... well, years and years. It was so much fun, so we definitely plan to visit Soda Springs again!

We ate yummy Japanese food with Grammuh Marilyn! The boys and I ♥ Kyoto!

Neil continued to work on his communication skills. Sadly, his baby acne has surfaced this week, earning him a new nickname: "AcNeil". Despite his skin problems, he's still a cute little turnip!

Quote of the week: "I screamed and hugged a man I didn't know." Spoken by Chris after Utah's game-winning touchdown in the last minute in Thursday's game against TCU.