Saturday, December 01, 2012

December 1: The Great Tree Hunt of 2012

I really wanted to be caught up on my blogging before December, but here it is so soon! I think it's a combination of our busy schedule and the unseasonably warm weather, but this month really snuck up on me.

The boys have griped that I don't have a lot of Christmas Spirit (mainly because I refuse to listen to Christmas music before Thanksgiving), so I decided to try to up my holly jolly-ness by doing a "December Daily".  This is a scrapbooking term that some marketing genius dreamed up to help scrapbookers take more pictures and buy more scrapbooking supplies in the month of December. Yikes, did I just say that? See, I am a grinch! Really, though, I do think December Daily is a great idea. I did something similar in the summer of '11, when the boys and I did "something fun" every day and I documented most of it with pictures. Admittedly, I was worn out by the end of the summer, but I've recovered in 18 months and I think reincorporating the daily picture/daily activity idea into our December is a good thing to do. After all, I want our boys (and myself) to remember this December, despite our crazy busy-ness, as a happy month of family togetherness.

Today is December 1st and we kicked off our December with a trip to Island Park to get our tree. I love going into the forest for a Christmas tree. Not only is the outing itself lots of fun, I just love the trees we bring home. There is something so fun about a fresh-from-the-forest tree-- it has personality.

Our weather has been warm, so the boys and I trudged through slushy snow and were intermittently sprinkled and pelted with rain. We didn't have to go far, though, and my dad brought along a very handy chainsaw, so even the thunder and lightening didn't ruin the day. The sloppy snow was great for snowballs (Gordon tried to carry a couple in his pockets), and the boys had a great time running around. We found a lovely tree, now proudly standing in our living room waiting for lights and ornaments.

Earlier this evening, we brainstormed 24 different activities (most free!) and I printed out slips to put in the pockets of our fabric advent calendar. On the docket: movies, gingerbread, lights, and more! Happy December!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Back to Blogging: May & June

The problem with procrastinating blog updates is that the picture pile (file, rather) keeps growing, but time doesn't stand still while you get caught up! So, I'm going to try to take a couple of days to catch up our Summer and Fall, and maybe be a little more consistent from here. It's just easier that way!

So, where were we?

 May is always a crazy month with the end of school and lessons, so I didn't get too many pictures. Our dear Gord did celebrate a birthday-- he turned 7 and celebrated with a yummy cake (topped with Thor), a drum set, and an equally loud birthday party with a dozen of his friends. Lucky kid!

The last day of school was June 1st, and we picked the boys up and headed North for our first camping adventure of the summer. For this campout, we chose Mike Harris Campground, which is just outside Victor, ID. It's a gorgeous spot and we enjoyed being one of the very few campers there. The campground is located just a couple of miles from a family-friendly fishing pond, so Chris and the boys fished for our dinner for the next night. On Saturday, we drove over Teton Pass to Teton National Park, where we rode the boat across Jenny Lake, hiked to Hidden Falls, and went on a buffalo search. It was so beautiful and relaxing-- an absolutely perfect way to start Summer off right!

Also starting in June, my mom watched my sister Ann-Michelle's kids once a week. We decided to get all of the kids together and do some fun activities. Our first outing was to Craters of the Moon. The kids had a great time climbing around the lava rocks and exploring the caves and posing for their future album cover.

Next we went on a short hike at Cress Creek. I love this hike-- it's perfect for kids (only about .5 miles) and there are informational signs along the way. The kids' favorite part is hikikng up and down the little creek that runs across the trail.

Our last outing in June was to the zoo. Idaho Falls actually has a great zoo that is well-maintained and has a lot of interesting animals. The kids loved pulling each other in the rented wagons and playing in the park afterward.

Also in June, my mom and I ran with a great group of six other women in the annual To Bone and Back race. It is such a fun day and we ran really well. The training for that race kicked off our new running habit-- we're now getting together five times a week to run. It's been great exercise and I've accomplished some goals I wouldn't have thought possible. More on that later.

Our Bone & Back team was called "Runnin' Wild" and we had the CUTEST zebra print shirts and car decorations. I'm pretty sure everyone else was jealous!

Finally, in June, Thomas earned his "Arrow of Light" award in Cub Scouts. The Arrow of Light is the highest honor in Cub Scouting, and I think he was pretty proud of his accomplishment.

Okay! May and June are caught up! More to come!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Vacation Recovery-- Part Two

As mentioned, we stayed at Disneyland really late.  We rode every ride on our list (some twice), and did everything we wanted to do, and even though everyone was complaining about tired feet and ankles, we all left happy. The boys were asleep in the car before we even hit the freeway.

Luckily, we didn't have any time constraints for Wednesday, so we all slept in late.  When we were finally ready to take in another day, we headed just across the way from our hotel to a great little place called Stacks Pancake House.  The prices were great and the food was delicious, so we actually ended up going to Stacks again on Friday before heading home.  Yum!

After breakfast, we went to Salt Creek Beach and spent a lovely afternoon playing in the surf and sand. 

The beach made us feel like we needed to eat fish and chips, so we found a great little place at Dana Point Harbor that served them hot and fresh.  Delicious!

While Chris and the boys swam at the hotel pool, Neil and I napped, then we all relaxed and the boys played with their souvenirs.  For dinner, we drove down to San Clemente to a tasty New York style pizza place.  It was a really nice, relaxing day.

On Thursday, we headed South to Carlsbad and LegoLand!  None of us had been to LegoLand before, so this was a completely new adventure.  LegoLand is absolutely perfect for kids 3-11-- younger and they are too small to ride the rides, and older and they probably want something a little bigger.  Luckily, those are the exact ages of my kids, so they had a blast. 

Of course, we were all completely impressed by the Lego everything-- especially the mini Star Wars displays and the MiniLand, USA.  I was surprised that the boys wanted to spend more time checking out all of the Lego buildings than actually riding the rides. 

On Friday, we just had time to eat at Stacks, then head back to LA to catch our flight.  Even though it was a quick vacation, we had an incredible time and made some great family memories!

Vacation Recovery-- Part One

I love vacations!  We've been back from lovely Southern California for nearly a week and I am still missing feeling that California sun on my shoulders, spending quality and quantity time with the boys and Chris, and ignoring my diet.  Ah.  Well, real life is good, too, it's just not a vacation.

We really did have so much fun.  We decided to fly directly from Idaho Falls to LAX on Allegiant for an insanely good deal, which was really exciting for the boys.  Both Thomas and Gordon have flown before, but neither remember it, and Neil had never been on an airplane, so the flight was one of the highlights of the trip.  We did learn on the way there that Thomas, like Chris, gets airsick, and on the way back, we learned that kid's Dramamine is the cure.

We spent our first day flying, getting a car, checking into our hotel in Dana Point, then exploring the local tide pools.  We love the ocean.

Our next day, Tuesday, was spent at the Happiest Place on Earth (TM)-- Disneyland.  We arrived early and stayed late, and had a truly wonderful time.  I've been to Disneyland a few times and I have to say, April is one of the best months to go.  It is after the standard Spring Breaks, so the crowds were really manageable, and the weather was absolutely perfect.  80's and breezy.  You can't beat that.

The food was okay.  I mention this because I had been dreaming of this fabulous blog post I was going to do about the supposed "World's Best Corndogs", available at a little red wagon on Disney's Main Street.  I'm not a corn dog connoisseur or anything, but they were the food I craved when I was pregnant with Neil (Tom=chocolate milk, Gordon=Big and Tasty hamburgers from McDonald's--ew, I know), so I've had a few.  I was REALLY looking forward to trying this particular corn dog and sadly, I was disappointed.  Luckily, the food situation was remedied on Wednesday in Dana Point, but I'll get to that after the pictures.

I think this picture of Gordon trying to pull the sword from the stone is so hilarious. I love the veins in his neck-- he is really trying!

We took this picture with Mickey after getting wet on Splash Mountain, so excuse the hair/clothes/general ugliness.  But at least we're with Mickey!

Coming tomorrow-- our day at the beach, LegoLand, and a wrap up.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

In preparation for this week...

We've been watching this YouTube video over and over. 

California, here we come!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Could this be a weekly thing?

Blogging weekly?  I'm not committing to anything at this point, but at least we're headed in the right direction!

It's been a pretty good week for the Hansens.  We had a nice Easter Saturday where the boys got lots of candy I managed to survive another Primary-sponsored neighborhood egg hunt.  Thank goodness for Wal-Mart and their bulk bags of pre-stuffed eggs! 

On Sunday, we enjoyed a beautiful Easter Sunday with my family.  I was grateful to be able to share some lessons from the life of Christ in Primary and to bear my testimony of the gifts of His life and resurrection. 

Here we are on Easter Sunday...

I feel like I look kind of chubby in this picture, but I'm working on fixing that little problem... I joined a "Biggest Loser" club.  And now it's out there.  I wasn't going to say anything, but I have to celebrate that this week (the club started on Monday) is the first time in my history where I've actually stuck to an eating plan for more than one day!  YAY!  I still have 7 weeks (and a few days) to go, and truthfully, I'm not counting on winning the thing, but I feel really good about my progress so far.  Yay again!

This week has been pretty low key, but next week is going to be super fun-- we're going on vacation!!  We're going to California and I am bringing my camera, so look for a picture-filled post next week.  :)

Friday, April 06, 2012


I haven't blogged in so long that Blogger has changed its format and I almost don't know how to do it anymore!  But don't worry, I said almost.

Here's a quick little rundown of the happenings at the Hansen home, in no particular order:

*  Gordon finished up a stellar basketball season.  Even though he never actually scored a goal in a game, he had a blast and keeps talking about playing again next season.  He did come really close to winning the free-throw competition after the last game, so he definitely ended the season on a high.

*  Tom finished another swimming lessons session.  He is getting pretty good at his strokes and has even made up a couple of new ones.  He really, really loves jumping off of the high dive and spent nearly two hours during a Saturday public swim doing just that.  On that particular day, I learned that an hour wrangling a super wiggly 3-year-old in the shallow section is about all I can handle.

*  Neil spends all day talking, talking, talking and I think it's pretty funny.  He still can't say his "R" or "L" sound, so it's cute when he says things like Hewwo (Hello) and yitto (little).  A week or so ago, I took Neil to the store with me and he picked out a C3-P0 Pez as a treat and has been carrying the dispenser around ever since.  This, of course, led to watching the Star Wars series and a renewed interest in the random Star Wars toys we have collected.  Today, Neil was imitating C3-P0 and said "HeLLo" just perfectly, with the L sound and all.  I said, "hey, you can say your L's!  Can you say NeiL?"  Neil said, "My name's not NeiL, it's Neow."  Right.

* Chris returned last week from a 4-week-long business trip to Dallas, during which we all just about lost our minds.

*  Luckily, during said business trip, I was able to leave the boys with my wonderful and patient in-laws and fly out to Texas for a long weekend.  Chris and I hung out with his cousin, Jake, his wife Maren, and their darling kids, in the Dallas area, then drove down to San Antonio to visit Andy and Amanda and our sweet little nephews and niece.  We ate A LOT, went to the movies for the first time since Avatar (sad!), and had really perfect weather.  It was the perfect little respite from the aforementioned mind-losing.

Here we are at San Antonio's famous River Walk...

*  After returning from the lone star state (Chris still had a week to go), I took the boys to the Air Force Museum at Hill AFB on the way home.  The boys sure love those huge planes.  In fact, Gordon has decided that in addition to the myriad other things he plans to be when he grows up (President, a doctor, a teacher, a fireman, an inventor, a rock star, etc, etc, etc), he is adding "pilot" to the list.

I think that's about it for now.  Happy Friday, and Happy Easter!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Musical Kits Part 1: Festival

Last week, both Thomas and Gordon participated in the IF Music Club's Junior Music Solo Festival for the first time.  They were both given two original pieces of music which they tried to perfect and memorize over the course of several weeks, then perform for a judge.  I remember participating as a child and it's amazing how being in a room and playing for just one person can be so nerve wracking!  Both boys did very well-- Thomas scored a 97 out of 100 and Gordon scored 99.

Chris has been out of town, so I'm posting these videos of their pieces for his benefit as well as yours.

Here's Tom with Celebration at Dunvegan Castle and Bagatelle...

And here is Gordon with The Thing That is Under My Bed and Copy Cat...

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

January Update

Where did this month go?  It hasn't felt like January to me-- probably because it's freakishly warm for Idaho, and because we've been busy enough that the month has flown instead of crawled by.  I have never been a huge fan of this month, but if it goes by like this, sunny and eventful, I could be easily swayed.

My wonderful grandparents and mother-in-law still read this sorely neglected blog, so this post is an update for them. 

Thomas has had a busy month.  He started swimming lessons again and absolutely loves it.  He told me tonight that he might not pass his class (they're learning the butterfly--sheesh!), but I think he wouldn't mind taking it again.  While he swims, I sit up in the loft bleachers and watch him gleefully jump up and down as he waits for his turn to dive.  He is so much more at home in the water than I have ever been and I love that he has found something active that he enjoys so much. 

Chess club started this month as well, and he still has piano and orchestra and scouts.  He keeps plenty busy.  I'm glad that he is busy because it's also been a tough month friend-wise-- Tom's best friend, Nathaniel, moved to Norway mid-month, and he is kind of at a loss.  Unlike Gordon, Tom doesn't have a bunch of neighborhood buddies, and it seems like that awful middle school caste system has slowly started to form in 5th grade.  Tom is friendly to everyone and I know that most of the kids in his class like him,  but he just doesn't gel with anyone else the way he did with Nathaniel.  Right now, I am praying for a good friend for my sweet little guy.

Speaking of scouts, last week our cub scouts had their annual Pinewood Derby.  Can I just say that I am not a fan of the derby?  Tom hasn't really cared about it either, which means that all three years, we've kind of just thrown together a car at the last minute.  This year, Tom made the "Nintendo World Tour" bus-- a silver bus with pictures of Nintendo characters on the side.  We all thought it looked pretty cool, but it didn't go very fast and Tom was momentarily disappointed that he lost every race.  That is a bummer.  Luckily, Reed's Dairy ice cream cures many a Pinewood Derby disappointment.

Earlier this month, a friend of ours took Chris, Tom and Gord up in a little airplane for a short flight around the Snake River Valley.  The boys had such a fun time (minus the few minutes of turbulence near Palisades), and it was a really fun memory for them.  They started in Idaho Falls and flew North over Rexburg and Ashton and around near the Tetons, then ended up right over our neighborhood on their way home.  What a fun adventure!

Gordon has been really busy this month as well.  In December, he started practicing with his team for the basketball season and this month they had their first game.  Unlike the other sports he has played, Gordon hasn't had quite as easy of a time getting into the game.  I think it's a lot harder handling the ball, dribbling, shooting, and passing, and having to struggle a little bit has been really frustrating for him.  Luckily, he's getting into it more and Chris has taken him to the church to practice indoors a couple of times.  The season lasts through the end of the month, so we'll see how it goes.

Gordon is such a funny thing.  I've mentioned before that he and I have our challenges, and it's something I think we'll both have to work on for a long time.  Right now we're trying something new-- we're both trying to have "good days" where he practices being obedient and helpful, and I practice not yelling.  We agreed that we both have to help each other.  It is a lot easier for me to keep my voice calm and positive when Gordon responds to what I am saying the first time, and it is a lot easier for Gordon to be cheerful and helpful when I am in a good mood.  Every day we have a good day, Gordon gets a sticker.  After 10 stickers, we do something fun together.  We started this on January 1st and today, the 31st, we got to do our first something fun.  It's a work in progress.

Gord couldn't wait until after our other activities and dinner were finished, so while Tom was at swimming lessons, we went to Wal-Mart, bought a little Lego set and a Valentine candy, and called it good.  I would have liked to do something a little more one-on-one fun, but Gordon really could not wait and I could see that a fight was brewing, so Wal-Mart it was.  Luckily, Gordon was super excited about his Legos and is already talking about what we're going to do in ten more days. 

Neil just loves to play and play.  His recent obsession is with the movies "Cars" and "Cars 2", and he loves to play with his little diecast figures from the movies.  He takes his Lightening McQueen(s) and his Finn McMissile(s) with him everywhere-- they even sit on the bathroom counter while he uses the facilities.  
I gave the two car toys the extra "s" because of this:  Neil has two of each.  Since he takes them everywhere he goes-- in the van, in Dad's car, in his bedroom, upstairs, downstairs, etc, etc, etc, he also loses them constantly.  And the first thing he says when he wakes up in the morning is "Where's McQueen?  Where's Finn McMissile?"  So, when he lost the originals, we picked up a couple more.  Then we found the originals (in the van and under my bed, respectively) and now he has two.  Can anyone say "spoiled"?

Neil graduated from Nursery (the 18-month - 3 year old class in church) to Sunbeams (the class will all turn 4 this year), and after the third week, his teachers informed me that he is a bit of a bully.  Apparently he has thrown crayons, hit and threatened to hit, and stepped on childrens' coloring pages.  Neil isn't around kids his age very much, so it's always a shock to me when I hear that he isn't a perfect little angel.  Okay, not a total shock, but still.

The last thing I want is for one of my kids to be that child, so every day last week, Chris and I talked about how important it is to be nice, how we shouldn't hit or throw crayons, etc.  I think it sunk in-- after church this Sunday, I asked his teachers how he was and they both said that he did great.  YAY!  The one did mention that he touched her leg, which was bare beneath her slightly over-the-knee skirt, and said, "it's poky."  Grimace.  

At least we're making progress.

That's it for this update-- it's 10:40 and we have another busy day ahead of us!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012


I finally finished posting my reviews on my 25 Books in 2011!! 

Now it's time to start on my 25 in 2012.  Today one of the worst things happened at the library:  I went to pick up my books on hold and I have three, all of which are 14-day new releases and all of which have super long waiting lists.  It's so hard to choose which one to start first, but I had to go with Alice Hoffman.  You can't go wrong with Alice Hoffman.  :)

Sunday, January 01, 2012

2011 Storyboard

Here's a resolution:  blog more!  More on that later, though.  Tonight I want to wrap up our year with a little (kind of messy) photo collage.  Lots of smiles, lots of fun.  So long 2011!