Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Questions....?

We had a fun discussion last night at our small group. We try not to only talk about our kids, but the Wife and I don't have a whole lot else to talk about at this point in our lives, so at some point the discussion inevitably turns to that topic. We always have a great time sharing some of the crazy things our kids do, and it's good to hear that other people's kids and nieces and nephews are as nuts as ours are. As our discussion went on, though, and we told more and more stories about things our kids have done, it got me to wondering something: Is it possible that there is a connection between the fact that our third child, the Little One, has been the most ornery child in the history of the world and the other fact that she is the only one of our children who has not fallen all the way down the stairs at our house? Perhaps the orneriness of the other two kids got knocked out by their respective falls?...Maybe the two things are not related, but then again, maybe they are...
Could our stairs be the key factor in the Little One's orneriness???

Pretty much every discussion I get into, with anybody, leads me to think up questions. I like to say that I am a very inquisitive person, asking the probing questions about life that few others dare to ask. The Wife just says that I am annoyingly curious. Whatever...I suppose we both might be right. The question I had about orneriness and falling down the stairs is just the tip of the iceberg. Let's examine some other annoying, I mean glaring, questions I have come up with over the years:

  • Why do kids talk as loud as they possibly can at the dinner table when Mommy and Daddy just want some peace and quiet, but when they are in the back seat of the minivan and they want to tell you all about their day at Preschool all they can muster is a whisper?
  • Why am I so incapable of remembering the few things that the Wife asks me to pick up at the grocery store yet I can remember which artist sang every song from the 1980s?
  • Why are whole black olives so much better than sliced black olives?
  • Why are sliced bananas so much better than whole bananas?
  • Why is hard butter so much better than soft butter?
  • Why is it so taboo to eat a stick of butter?
  • Why has nobody ever, in the history of the world, run out of milk at the same time they ran out of cereal? If you claim that that has happened to you, you are a liar.
  • Why don't they make laundry detergent pods in different sizes for different sized loads? (They might actually do this already. I have never purchased laundry detergent pods)
  • How did the idea of cutting the crusts off of bread ever happen? The crust is the best part!
  • Why do some people insist on stopping their car in the street in front of their house, not turning into their driveway until their garage door is all the way up, while I am forced to wait for them to move? 
  • Why do other people always come to a complete stop when turning left, even when it is painfully obvious to anyone with a pulse that NOBODY IS COMING FROM THE OPPOSITE DIRECTION?!?!?!
  • Would it be reckless of me to get a pet Sasquatch for the sole purpose of having someone to blame for all the whiskers I leave laying around the sink?
  • Why does it seem like the softball bases get farther apart every year that I get older?
  • Why does metabolism ever have to slow down? Why can't it get faster as I get older?
  • Why can I go 5+ years without getting a single cardboard cut on my hands, but then when I get one, I get a second and third within a week?
  • What does "Why ask why?" mean?
    I think that's all the probing questions I can think of at the moment. I'm sure I will come up with more in the near future. Look for another "Questions" post here soon, which will probably make you ask yourself "Why does this guy ask so many stupid questions?". Why not?
     

Friday, February 20, 2015

The Hanson Charm

Us Hanson dudes have been stricken with a type of charm that we, unfortunately, can't turn off. Oh, how I have often wished there were some kind of switch on me that, if flipped, would turn me into just another guy, but no. I, and everyone around me, must live with my charm turned up to eleven at all times. It's a burden I wouldn't wish on anyone...

Anyone except the Boy, that is! Yup, the little dude must have inherited some of his old man's swagger, because he just asked to have a play date with a couple of his friends from Preschool, both of whom happen to be girls! I don't know if I could be prouder of him if he had built a rocketship, flown to Mars, and brought back some little alien creature that looked like a green version of our annoyingly grumpy dog, Gromit. Or even if had gone out into the deep woods and brought home a Sasquatch to take the place of our annoyingly grumpy dog, Gromit. Yup, his Daddy is one proud dude right now.

Don't worry, since he got my charm, he probably also knows how to treat a lady. But just in case, I will teach him that he needs to treat these girls the proper way: with respect, courtesy and appreciation, and perhaps a tiny bit of fear. He will let them have the first choice of juice box. He will hold the door of the little play house open for them. He won't throw his wooden trains at them like he does his sisters. He is going to be one charming dude...
The Boy is gonna be one charming kid... Illustration courtesy of the Disney Company

Monday, February 16, 2015

News of the Day

A few weeks back I wrote about how I had lost about 5 pounds, just by not having to carry around the diaper bag that had been a fixture on my shoulder for the past (almost) 6 years. (Read about it HERE). Well, aside from the fact that I have already gained those 5 pounds back by eating too much, all day every day, I have some more news related to the Little One being 95% potty trained. She is now 100% potty trained (except for what I am sure will be the occasional accident which, let's face it, we all have from time to time)!

Yup, through her broken English (which is another thing we're working on), she told us the other night that she wanted to wear her underwear to bed instead of her diaper. The Wife and I figured that A.The Little One's wanting to be potty trained is 98% of the battle, so if she's ready, let's try it; and B.That we already were going to do laundry that day so what's a few more sheets? So, we let her do it, and are ecstatic to announce that she made it through the night and the only thing that got wet was her pillow from her drool (She is my daughter, after all).

To celebrate the momentous occasion, we shipped both her and her sister, the Girl, over to their grandparents' for a sleepover the next night. I haven't heard if the Little One made it through the night dry over there, and frankly, I don't want to know. I just hope Grandma was already planning on doing laundry today, if you know what I mean...

In other Little One-related news, I have often written on here about how she was the most ornery baby in the history of the world, but then started to slowly get more and more bearable after she turned two, and how most of the time now she is just the sweetest little girl you would ever want to meet. Well, her ornery side showed itself yesterday at church, in the form of screaming at the top of her lungs, crying like a mimmy-jimmy, and thrashing about both in my arms and on the floor. Everyone at church seemed to have forgotten how she used to be, because people came rushing out of classrooms, sanctuaries, and even bathrooms wondering what the ruckus was all about. People seemed flabbergasted that such a sweet little girl could throw such a tantrum. The Wife and I just looked at each other and laughed. It was quite the display, I must say. Took us back to the bad ol' days when tantrums like that were a several-times-a-day kinda thing. Ah, memories!
I don't know who the artist of this rendering is, but they pretty much nailed what the Little One looked like at church yesterday. I even think she was wearing those exact undies. It's uncanny...

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Just Because...

If you've ever tried to teach anything to anyone under the age of 5, you probably know that it is always an exercise in futility. No matter what you are trying to teach them, it can take a long time, and cause a lot of heartache on everyone's part, before they finally learn whatever it is you have been trying to teach them. If you have three or more children under the age of 5 that you are trying to teach simultaneously, take the above-mentioned heartache and multiply it by a billion. But at least at the end of it you will have a lot more gray hair to show off. I consider my gray hairs as thousands of tiny little battle scars, at least when I'm not weeping about them...

Hundreds of my battle scars have shown up from trying to teach my kids that "Because" is not a reason. If I could count that high, I would tell you exactly how many times my kids have answered whatever question I might have asked them with the response "Because..." Here are some examples:

Me: "Boy, why did you dump all of your Legos out on the stairs leading into the basement?"
Boy: "Because..."
Me: "'Because' is not a reason!"

Me: "Little One, why did you take all the toilet paper off the roll and leave it in a pile in the middle of the bathroom floor?"
Little One: "Because..."
Me: "'Because' is not a reason!"

Me: "Girl, why did you slam the bedroom door when you knew both your brother and your sister had their fingers in the way?!?!"
Girl: "Be---"
Me: "AHHHHHH!!!"

As you can see, trying to teach kids can be exasperating. Although, I thought I had made some progress in this particular lesson, since I had heard all three of the kids tell their siblings my "Because is not a reason" mantra in recent weeks, so I thought they were catching on. I don't think the exact meaning of it was totally sinking in, though, at least with the Boy. I think that because of the conversation we had in the van after Preschool yesterday.

The Boy and the Little One were in the backseat, and we were heading over to their Grandma's house where I was going to deposit them for the afternoon and make a quick getaway. The Boy asked the following question:

"Why are we going this way, Daddy?"
"Because we are going to Grandma's house and this is the way", I replied.
"But Daddy, 'Because' is not a reason!"
"But I didn't just say 'Because.' I said 'Because we are going to Grandma's house'."
"But Daddy, 'BECAUSE!' is not a reason!!"
"Yes, I know, but that's not what I said. OK, it is what I said, but it's not the only thing I said."

I went on to try to explain that "because" is a word, and when it's part of a sentence that goes on to explain why something has happened, it's perfectly fine to use it. He would hear nothing of it, and continued to argue with me the whole way to Grandma's house, which, thankfully, is just a few minutes from his Preschool. I quickly shooed both him and his sister out and screeched away. Arguing with my 4-year-old has given me more battle scars than anything. You'd think I would have learned by now not to argue with him, but apparently teaching me anything is an exercise in futility...

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Daddy-Daughter Dance, 2015 Version

I just got home from taking our two girls, the Girl and the Little One, to the annual Daddy-Daughter Dance at my sister's church. I believe this was the fourth time that the Girl and I went, but it was the first time for the Little One. In previous years she has been too ornery to merit an invite. This was the first year that she seemed ready, and it was also the first year that I seemed ready to handle both girls at once. We had a wonderful time, without a single meltdown, brouhaha or tantrum, by any of us, which might be the first time that's happened since before we had kids... Let's take a look at some of the fun, shall we?

The above photo was the three of us hanging out before the festivities began, in front of the giant fake waterfall that had been constructed on the premises. The theme for the dance was "Tropical Paradise", or something like that. I must not have been paying attention too well because I don't remember for sure. I know that they were selling leis, but I was adamant that I wasn't going to shell out my hard earned money on cheap plastic flowers.

As you can see from this photo, the Girl has her lei wrapped around her head. She did that herself, and I thought it looked pretty cute. The Little One had given her lei to me at this point, since it was much too big for her 2-year-old body. The other child in this photo is the Cousin.

The next bunch of photos were from when my kids went out on the dance floor before the actual dancing portion of the evening had started. That's why there aren't many other daddies or daughters around. I stayed back at our table and finished stuffing my face with the delicious dinner they fed us, but my kids' dance moves were so awesome I thought I better snap a few pics. For some reason they are all very blurry, but I think it adds to the craziness of the moves...
I am very proud of their dance moves, which they obviously learned from watching their Daddy dance around the house. Even the one where the Little One is lifting her dress up over her head looks a lot like what Daddy has been known to do, but I won't go into that here.

We all had way more fun at the dance than we were expecting, probably because of the no meltdowns, brouhahas and tantrums. We are already talking about going back next year. I better start teaching them some more dance moves!


Murder in the Snow

I used to spend a lot of money going to a barber shop every three or four weeks to get my hair cut. I had a great relationship with my barber, and we still send him a Christmas card every year, but eventually we, as a family, decided our money would be better used being put toward other things, like diapers and food. So, I went out and got an electric hair trimmer and the Wife graciously accepted the job as my new barber. She doesn't charge me any money for the haircuts, but she does make me watch our kids every once in a while, so I'm not sure I am actually getting a better deal...

The Wife must not mind cutting hair, because she has also cut the Boy's hair ever since he was one of the hairiest babies in the history of the world. He didn't come out of the womb hairy like his older sister, the Girl, did, but once his scalp hit daylight his hair follicles erupted. I believe, if my memory is correct, and according to me it always is, he had 8 haircuts by the time he was a year-and-a half old. That is one hairy baby! At first he didn't like getting his hair cut, but the Wife and the Sister-In-Law figured out that if they kept him occupied by shoving fistfuls of peanuts in his mouth, he would be quiet long enough for them to get the job done. Now, he handles his haircuts much better, but he still insists on snacking on peanuts while it's going on. The whole thing seems somewhat Pavlovian to me. Whatever that means!

Our kids come by their hairiness honestly - they are my kids, after all. I have been likened to a Sasquatch more times than I care to count. I am constantly trimming beard hairs, ear hairs and nose hairs, whether you wanted to know that information or not. And, yes, if I let the gravity-defying hair on my head grow for more than about 3 weeks, it gets tall enough that it looks like I am wearing a soft, fluffy bike helmet everywhere I go. When that happens, I beg the Wife to fit a haircut for me into her busy schedule. Within a week or twelve we can usually can find a 10 minute window that hasn't been grabbed up by one of the kids and their activities.

We probably should have invested in a Flowbee or a Suck-and-Cut at some point, but instead we use one of the old-fashioned trimmers you can buy anywhere. We also probably should have invested in a cape to put around my neck, but instead we just let most of my loosey-goosey hairs fall on to my clothes and the floor. When the haircut is done, I put down my bowl of peanuts and ever-so-slowly get up and walk out of the front door of our house, where I stand on the front steps and shake myself and my shirt as violently as I can, in order to get all the hairs off. This time of year, which happens to be in the middle of the 9 months of winter we have in Minnesota every year, all the cut-off hair I shake free ends up on a snowbank, where it looks as though a small furry animal, like a rabbit or a giant sloth, has been eaten by a ferocious predator, with just a small pile of fur left as evidence. I am tempted to squeeze some ketchup around the pile of hair and then tell my kids that one of the dogs got eaten by a pterodactyl. Knowing them, they would probably look at me for a second and then go right back to punching each other. My humor is lost on toddlers...

This is an undoctored photo of one of the piles of hair I shook off after my latest haircut. Pretty eerie, huh?

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Calling Everyone in the Community!

I have opened up a new chapter in my life. I have spread my wings and I've flown into a brand new world that is fraught with peril and fresh possibilities. I have...OK, I can't think of any other flowery metaphors at the moment. This new chapter really isn't all that amazing, any way. In fact, it's really not all that new at all, but I had to get you to keep reading, so I thought I would gussy this first paragraph up a little bit. I am such a fraud, aren't I?

I made the leap into the world of teaching Community Ed classes. Yes, I am now one of those people who claim to know a lot about a subject, and want you to pay to learn a little bit of what I know. I do know a lot about the topics I am teaching, that is true, but whether anyone wants to learn it from me is another thing all together.

I have started teaching fly tying classes in my community as well as several surrounding communities. So far it's gone pretty well. In the first session of classes I had five students, none of whom became expert fly tyers under my tutelage, but they also didn't impale themselves with any of the hooks we were using either...very many times. At least none of them had to go to the hospital, as far as I know. I am in the middle of the second session, in which I have three students, and they are all doing wonderfully. I think my teaching abilities have already gotten a lot better, so I am sure that all three of them will be quitting their jobs right after the last night of class to become professional fly tyers. I should probably warn them that they will probably have to move to Malaysia or Sri Lanka, since almost all of the commercially-tied flies that are sold in fly shops come from those two places...Hopefully we will stay in contact after they move, because they seem like good people...

I will be teaching these courses in three more communities this winter/spring, and I am planning on teaching some fly casting/fly fishing classes this summer, if I can find the time. Teaching and tying all these flies lately has made me want to get out and catch some fish, something I already don't have a lot of time to do, what with three small children in the house and all. So, maybe I will wait on the fishing classes. I guess you'll just have to check in your local Community Ed catalog to find out. If my class isn't listed that means I'm out on a local river teasing some trouts. Or staying home to do Daddy things. Or it might mean that you don't live in any of the communities the class will be offered in. If that's the case, I would strongly encourage you to move.
This is a fly I tied when I was a professional fly tyer, and I didn't even have to move to Sri Lanka to tie it.

Monday, February 2, 2015

...Like Candy

Is there something that kids like more than candy? I ask because every morning I think about the saying "They ate it like candy", even though our kids really don't eat all that much candy. Most of the time...

What they do eat a lot of is Kellogg's Special K with Red Berries cereal. I can't believe how much of this cereal they eat. My three children typically eat cereal five days a week, and during those five days we usually go through at least three or four boxes of Special K with Red Berries. That's almost a box per day. These are not teenagers I am talking about. They are still only 2, 4, and 5 years old. How can they eat so much cereal? My mind is boggled just thinking about it.
At least I don't let my kids eat a bowl of these for breakfast!

The Girl, alone, often eats three bowls of the stuff in a single morning, which might be an indication of why she comes home from Kindergarten most days without having eaten 95% of her lunch that her poor mother, the Wife, slaved over the night before, and why on most nights it takes her approximately three hours to finish dinner. I am not sure what to do about this situation, though. Personally, I love breakfast, and have been known to eat copious amounts of it several times a day. I also east copious amounts of lunch and dinner and several strategically-timed snacks throughout each day, as well, though. How can someone like me tell my sweet, impressionable daughter that she can't eat as much breakfast as she wants while I scarf down as many delicious over-medium eggs as I can get my grubby hands on?

It's a conundrum, I tell you what. I think the only solution might be to stop buying Kellogg's Special K with Red Berries and instead only buy cereal that is a little less "candy-like", like Corn Flakes or Wheaties or Grape Nuts, which are neither grapes nor nuts. Or maybe I can get them all to start eating eggs like their old man. After all, a little high cholesterol never hurt anyone, am I right?

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Throwback Sunday

Let me state this for the record: I love my church. I love our mission, I love the people, I love almost everything about it. The people there, though, are not afraid to tell you that you need to step it up on those times when you might start letting yourself slip into the dark abyss. And let's face it, we all let ourselves slip every once in a while. Some of us more than others...

That was the situation I found myself in this past Sunday. Usually I know when I start to slip towards the abyss, but this time I was clueless, or if I was aware that I was starting to slip I hadn't let myself admit it yet. But my church was not afraid to tell me, ever so subtly. Perhaps nobody at church even realizes what they said to me, it was so subtle. Yet, it was powerful enough that it has made me think about maybe possibly trying to change and head away from the abyss that I didn't even know I was headed towards. Here's what happened:

Every so often our church does something to celebrate our heritage, and it's called "Throwback Sunday". Our wonderful pastor wears a suit and tie and preaches from behind a pulpit, two things he usually does not do. And the rest of us are encouraged to dress up like church-goers of yesterday, as well. Us men are supposed to wear suits, and the ladies of the church are encouraged to wear dresses so we all look the part. We even sing hymns instead of our normal more-modern choruses. Most everyone gets in the spirit and we have a grand old time.

Except this time it wasn't all that much fun for me. The morning of, I walked over to the closet in the Boy's room, which is where all of my six suits hang. One by one, I tried on suit after suit after suit, and none of them fit. Sure, I got a couple of the pants buttoned after much sucking in, but couldn't breathe once I did. Not breathing is not a fun way to go to church, or any other place for that matter. I think my suits were in cahoots with my church and trying to tell me something, but I didn't want to listen.

I did end up listening to my dress shirts, though. I had quickly scrapped the idea of wearing a suit, but figured a shirt and tie would still look somewhat "throwback". I picked out a dress shirt that I have only worn a handful of times, a bright raspberry red number with white stripes. I thought that I would look dapper in it, but it was so tight around my neck that my head turned the same raspberry red as the shirt. At least I was color-coordinated, I guess.

I took this all to mean that the people behind the seemingly harmless "Throwback Sunday" were telling me that I have been sliding towards the dark abyss known as gluttony. Perhaps I should cut back on the seven-egg breakfasts or the six-taco dinners every once in a while. Either that or get rid of all my dress-up clothes and go out and buy a whole new wardrobe...Anybody need six suits?

This is an artist's rendering of what happened when I buttoned the top collar on my dress shirt this past Sunday. The only problem is that in reality I couldn't actually get my suit coat on, but apparently the artist forgot that fact. You can't trust artists these days. They're the worst! Rendering by Scott Hanson.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Friend or Pho?

The first time I tried to make soup wasn't exactly a disaster, but the end result was not really all that soup-like either. It was before the Wife and I were married, and it might have been before we even knew each other, so that would make it at least 10 years ago now, and I remember it like it was yesterday...

For some unknown reason I thought that I could make some delicious chicken and dumpling soup, even though I never had made any before, and I had never even really watched anyone make any kind of soup before, other than the kind that came from a can. I think I had recently been to Cracker Barrel several times, where I always order the Chicken & Dumplings with two side orders of dumplings, so I had dumplings on my brain. I didn't really know what I was doing, or how to make dumplings, or what other ingredients go into chicken and dumpling soup, but all in all it turned out to be not all that bad, except for the fact that the dumplings were more like enormous globs of dough, I put way too many of them into the soup, and they pretty much just clumped together, filling the top of the pot with one giant dumpling mass. Looking back at it, it turned out to be more like a stock pot sized chicken pot pie, but the filling was more liquidy than in real pot pies. It was pretty much the worst. But it was food, so I ate it.
This photo really has nothing to do with this blog post, but I thought it was hilarious, so here it is.
For some other unknown reason, I decided to try my luck at soup again last night. Only this time I wasn't foolish enough to try my hand at chicken and dumplings again. Oh no. This time I decided to attempt to make some Pho, a Vietnamese noodle soup that not only had I never eaten before, but I hadn't seen up close in almost 15 years, and I had no idea what was in it. How could it possibly go wrong?

Well, aside from the fact that I have no idea what Pho is supposed to taste like, this experiment didn't turn out too bad! I pretty much followed the recipe I had found online, so that was a plus. And it didn't look like a pot pie or anything else other than soup, so that was another plus. And, none of our kids liked it, which puts it in the same category as 99% of food, so I would consider that yet another plus. What put it over the top was that I ate three bowls of it, and I didn't experience any more gastrointestinal unease than I usually do after I eat way more than I should have, which happens at least twice every day. And the Wife said she liked it too! I would consider my Pho experiment a rousing success! Will wonders never cease?