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?


Monday, January 12, 2015

I Feel Lighter Already

I have started to lose weight in the new year, and I haven't changed a single thing about my diet or my (lack of) exercise. I still drink way too much pop (that's Minnesotan for "soda"), I still graze on food all day long, and I still hardly ever get up off my tush, yet every time I leave my house I weigh about 5 pounds lighter than I have for the last 6 years. It's awesome!
This scale shows about what I weighed when I graduated from high school. That was more than 60 pounds ago...

You may be wondering what my secret is. It's easy, all you have to do is have three kids in rapdfire succession, and then one day, when the youngest is somewhere around, oh, 2-and-a-half or 3 years old, much like the Little One is in our family, a miracle will happen: he or she will suddenly be potty trained, and you won't have to carry a five pound diaper bag around with you wherever you go. That is what has happened with us over the past couple of weeks, and it's pretty cool, if I do say so myself.

We haven't left our house without a diaper bag for almost 6 years, ever since the Girl was born, since we have had at least one, sometimes two, thankfully never three, kids in diapers every day since then. By my calculations, that means we have been carrying around a diaper bag for the past 4 billion days. Sometimes I thought it would never end...

But, the miracle has happened, the Little One is about 95% potty trained, only needing to wear a diaper at nighttime, so we can go out any time we want, and there's no need to bring that annoying diaper bag with any more. Other than the fact that I am walking a little lopsided without that extra 5 pounds hanging off my right shoulder, it's pretty sweet. Maybe if we can get rid of the bags of toys I am always lugging around on my left shoulder, I will someday walk upright like a normal human again. Is it preposterous to wish for two miracles in one lifetime...?

Thursday, January 8, 2015

What's the Deal With Suburbanites? Who Are These People?

I have been an avid suburbanite for my entire life. I did live in St. Paul for a couple of years, but St. Paul is really just a suburb of Minneapolis, so that doesn't count. I consider myself to be an expert on all things suburbia, yet there is one strange phenomena that has popped up in suburbs throughout this great land of ours in recent years that I just cannot wrap my head around. It's quite possibly the strangest thing I've ever seen, and I've seen some strange stuff, some of which actually happened. Maybe one of you, my loyal readers, can explain this phenomena to me, because I sure don't get it.

Of course, the phenomena I am talking about is the proliferation of pergolas that are popping up all over the place. What is a pergola, you may be asking if you've spent the last ten years huddled within the cozy confines of a large city or under a rock. Let me explain, as well as I can. A pergola is a large wooden structure that suburbanites erect in their backyard. It looks kind of like the frame of a tall rectangular building that is waiting for some siding, and a roof. Yes, there is no roof on a pergola, which brings to my mind the question, What good is it?
You can make your pergola as fancy as can be, and I still won't get it...

Without a roof, it serves no purpose if it rains, because the rain will still hit you. If it's sunny, I don't see the purpose of a pergola, because it provides no shade, so you might as well just be sitting out in your yard. As far as I can tell, the only reason to build a pergola in your yard is because you really enjoy digging post holes, and I've never met anybody like that in my 40 years of living.

I must be in the minority though, because I see pergolas all over the suburbs. And today I even noticed that they are starting to sell them at Sam's Club, the center of the suburbanite universe. I don't think I will ever understand, but if you have any thoughts on the matter, I would appreciate some help. I will look for your email right after you get done digging that post hole.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

2015, So Far

If you haven't looked at a calendar yet today, I've got news for you - it's 2015. We rang in the new year last night by putting our kids to bed at their normal 8 o'clock schedule, and then heading downstairs to the newly-renovated home theater/kids' playroom/kids' craftroom/spare bedroom/dungeon to watch a classic movie from 1993, The Sandlot. I had never seen it before, despite the fact that dozens, if not hundreds, of people had told me how great it was. I have a weird quirk -some people, like the Wife, would call it an annoying trait- in which the more people rave about a movie, the more I don't want to see it. Usually my intense stubbornness subsides eventually, but it could take years, if not decades for that to happen. In this case it only took about 5 years. I must be getting soft in my old age. Just don't ask me to watch Titanic...

I chose this photo because it was the most free one I could find, but it serves its purpose.
Any way, we watched The Sandlot, which was quite fun, and by 10:30 PM or so we were ready to call it a night. Which we did...and then when we woke up it was 2015. Not a lot going on around here today, except that we received the news that the nominations for the 2015 Bloggie Awards are now open! We were extremely fortunate to win a Bloggie last year, thanks to all our wonderful readers, so we thought we might as well try to win one again this year. If you feel so inclined, head over to 2015.bloggi.es and fill out the nomination form. I think this blog would fit into several of the award categories, so nominate us for whatever you think fits. If you do, I will be grateful forever, unless you somehow wrong me in the future, but we'll talk about that when it happens.

Hey, thanks for being a loyal reader in 2014, I hope you keep reading in 2015! Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

We're Losing It, If We Ever Had It In the First Place...

I think the Wife and I are losing it. We aren't the hep cats we used to be. At least that's what it seems like lately. The fact that I just used the phrase "hep cat" is a sure sign. Losing it, and using old-time slang from well before I was born, is cause for some concern, if you ask me.

We've always known that most people who have children the ages of ours are quite a bit younger than we are. It only made sense. We got married late in life. We started having kids late in life. We get tired and achy from doing strenuous things like walking down the stairs and getting out of bed. We are quickly becoming aged, while we watch all of our friends going out and having fun. It's sad.

It probably doesn't help matters that we try to think of ourselves as younger than we are. We even keep going to things that are labeled for "Young Adults". Sure, age is all just a mindset, but sometimes there are people in these "Young Adult" gatherings that are young enough to be my child. That's a sobering thought!

One of the groups that we belong to is a small group of people from church that meets every other week. We have had a great time hanging out with these people for several years now, despite the fact that the Wife taught several of them in Sunday School when they were kids. One of the things our group has done for a long time is to have our own little "draft party" once a year or so. It's kind of like Fantasy Football, if you replaced all the football players with babies. That seems like a straight-up trade when you think about it... Yes, we go through all the young couples we know and "draft" the ones that we think will be having a baby the soonest. It's just for fun, no money has ever changed hands, and it's always been loads of fun for all of us, since we all apparently like to secretly speculate about the people we know.

What has made it doubly fun for the Wife and I is that often our predisposed propensity to procreate has helped us be the first overall draft pick, or at least somewhere in the first round. I think we even picked ourselves one year, when we had a little inside info that only we and God knew about. We are thankful that God didn't blow our cover before that draft. Thank You God!

Our little annual Fantasy Baby Draft has brought us all lots of smiles for several years. Until this year. Yup, it finally happened. Not only did the Wife and I not get picked with the Number 1 pick; and not only did we not get picked in the first round; we didn't get drafted at all! Not even by us! In one way this made me pretty happy, because I am definitely to the point where I definitely do not want any more babies in the house. Definitely! But it also makes me feel like we've lost it. We're past our prime. We're ready for the old folks home. Looks like I might never be a hep cat again...

It's kind of sad that I may never be a #1 draft pick again...

Saturday, December 27, 2014

A Christmas Letter, Blog-Style

I feel I need to admit something. I am a little weird. I know, I know, you're probably saying to yourself "Self, this can't be true! Scott is quite possibly the most normal person I know! He's not really weird at all, is he?!?!" Well, it's probably about time this news came out into the open. I'm just glad it was me who told you. Just think how devastating it might have been for you if some stranger told you out on the street.

Yes, I am a little weird, at least when it comes to writing Christmas letters. I am one of those rare people who actually enjoy doing it. I know, right? What a weirdo! Nobody enjoys writing Christmas letters, do they? Well, I do. And I've gotta believe there are at least a few other people in the world who are like me. Don'tcha think?

I enjoy everything about making a good Christmas letter. I like to sit down and think about the year that's ending. I like to write it out. I like to go back and re-read it, tweaking things and making it funnier and funnier (at least to me). I like to pick out photos of my kids to spruce it up a little. And I even like to do the layout, making it all look nice in its final arrangement. Signing all the cards that we put the letter into and addressing all the envelopes aren't quite as much fun, but even getting those things finished makes the whole job seem complete and worthwhile.

I got our Christmas cards done and out in the mail a couple of weeks ago, but for those of you who aren't on our mailing list, I thought I would make a blog version right here, you know, because I'm one of those people who assume everyone wants to read even more and more about my family. So, without further ado, here is our 2014 Christmas Letter Blog:

We started out 2014 with possibly the weirdest movie ever conceived of, Being John Malkovich. Read about the exciting way we rang in the New Year in my post, How To Ring In The New Year With a Plethora of Small Children.

In March I got some really fun news when I learned that this very blog shocked the entire blogosphere when it won the Bloggie Award for "Best Kept Secret Weblog". Looking back at all these old posts from throughout the year makes me wonder how it ever won. Perhaps all the judges were on crack...oh well, I'm not going to give back the award, even if the judges do have a drug problem. Read about the exciting news in my post titled The Secret is Out

Some of my most critically-acclaimed posts from this year were my wedding food reviews. It seems as though the thing I remember most about weddings is whether the food was good or not, so why not write about that most memorable of things? My first wedding food review was right after the wedding of my friends, Dan & Ashlee. I must not have offended them too much with my post, since I just checked facebook and both Dan & Ashlee are still on my Friends list. Read all about the fun evening, and the delicious food, in my post Wedding Food Review, Volume 1.

I am a lunatic when it comes to fishing, and I was even more lunatical when two of my three kids caught their first fish on the same day this summer. Read all about the lunacy in my post, The Lunker Hunters, from the end of May.

We took a family camping trip to Yellowstone National Park this summer. It was a very successful trip in the fact that none of us fell off any sheer cliffs or got eaten by bears. Or did we...? The only way to find out would be to read my account of the trip in my post Was That a Moose or a Marmot...?

The Wife and I both turned 40 this summer. The day it happened to me, and the day right before and right after, were noteworthy for various unfortunate reasons. I don't really want to relive it all, but if you would like to read about it, check out 40 = The New Blah.

I'm sure there were lots of other fascinating things that happened to us this year, but this blog is already way longer than our actual Christmas letter, so I will end it now, other than to say that you should go back and read all the other posts I wrote throughout the year to get all caught up. Who doesn't want to know every single minute detail about life in our house? Nobody, that's who!

Well, hearing that our actual letter is much shorter than this blog makes me think that many of you will want to get on our mailing list for next year. Feel free to email me your mailing address, and I will make it happen. Merry Christmas! See you next year!


Friday, December 12, 2014

Surly...or Superlatively Smart?

I may have mentioned this a time or two before, but the Little One was not always the cherubic little angel that she is now. No. In fact, for the first two years of her life, she was ornery, antagonistic, unruly, and every other adjective that might possibly be used to describe a baby who was a complete jerk. In fact, I wrote about how she was a jerk right here on this very blog when she was just a few months old. I don't remember exactly what she had done that made me write that, but I write nothing but the truth here, so obviously it was something heinous.

When she turned two, about 9 months ago now, a very small internal switch must have gotten flipped. She slowly started to not be such a jerk, although it occurred at the pace of an arthritic snail with severe gout. Nowadays she is quite pleasant most of the time, and in fact, if I can trust you to keep a secret, some days she's even what I would call my favorite. I know, right?

I guess she's not a jerk, she's just misunderstood!
The whole time she was being a jerk the Wife and I wondered what the reason could have possibly been. We kept her fed. We kept her in clothes. Our house is completely full of toys. We even usually remembered to change her diaper. Why was she so surly?!?! At one point the Wife and I joked that maybe she was so angry because she was actually brilliant, but she had no way of communicating with anyone, so she continually got frustrated with life. Everyone had a good chuckle at that one, but now we've learned that might have been the case all along!

For reasons that I won't go into here, the Little One has been undergoing a litany of tests to test her cognitive and verbal skills. The cognitive tests came first, and on the first day of testing we were all astonished to hear that she was solving problems, comprehending things, and doing all the other cognitive things at the level of a 7-year-old!!! What?!?!  She's only 2-and-a-half, how could that be? Don't get me wrong, I was very excited to hear we have such a bright little girl...I'm just a little worried she's going to surpass her old man's brainpower sooner than I expected. Like next week, maybe!

Oh well, I guess we should all strive to have kids that are smarter than we are. Deep down inside, I hoped that would happen, some day. Like, when she was 35!

Friday, December 5, 2014

Midlife Crisis, Hanson-Style

I haven't written on the ol' blog for a while. I would like to say that it's because I've been out helping the poor and needy and carrying random little old ladies, and their four heaping bags of groceries, across streets all over the Twin Cities, but that's not the case. Instead, I think I've been going through a little mini midlife crisis, not that I think my life is at all crisis-like. On the contrary. My life is pretty much idyllic, when I stop and think about it. I have a super hot wife who puts up with me; I have three kids who don't wail and gnash their teeth more than a few times every day; I have two dogs who...well, let's just leave it at that; I have four walls and a roof over my head; I live in a very peaceful part of the metro area and all of our neighbors seem to be high-quality; and I am surrounded by gracious and loving people who help us out through all of life's ups and downs. What more could a dude ask for?

Yet, something has been missing. And I have been filling it with stuff. Not the normal stuff that is associated with midlife crises, though. There is not a shiny new sports car out in our driveway, and there's no chance I will ever try to trade in my current hot wife for a different hot wife. That would be crazy. Instead of lusting after all the "normal" midlife crisis stuff, I have been lusting over something even worse: fly rods. I know, I am sick. Tell me something I don't know.

What's weird is that I haven't even been lusting after shiny new fly rods, you know the super high-tech graphite ones that can cost well over $700. And I have no interest in the meticulously hand-crafted bamboo rods that can cost several thousands. No, instead, I have been spending hour after hour scrounging through the rod listings on ebay searching for 30-, 40-, and even 50-year-old fiberglass fly rods that probably cost less than $15 when they were new, and now range from $10-$50, depending on the shape they are in. I don't think I'm hooked up right...

A beautiful scene. Photo by Nathan Chapman
Yeah, I've been in a fiberglass fly rod frenzy lately, which is weird. The good thing is, despite the low prices, I haven't bought many. I mean, I don't have any time to fish, any way, so why am I lusting after all these old rods? I guess I just like to look, which, when I write it out like that, makes my problem seem even creepier than I realized.

At least I can admit that I have a problem. Now I can start the process of ending this midlife crisis and getting better, by asking for help. Or by asking for $25 so I can get that sweet little L.L. Bean rod I've had my eyes on...Hey, it's not like it's a new Corvette or anything!

Friday, November 21, 2014

Kids Say the Darnedest Things!

I think I may have come up with an idea for a killer TV show, if I do say so myself. Picture, if you can, a friendly older celebrity of some sort, wearing a warm and colorful sweater, a sweater which exudes comfort, contentment, happiness and humor. This celebrity might be a little cantankerous some of the time, somewhat curmudgeonly at other times, but for the most part he would have a heart of gold, and that would show through in each episode, as he sits down and has heart-to-heart conversations with a bunch of angelic-looking young children. He would ask the children questions that would seem quite straightforward to all of the adult viewers at home, but the children, being as naive as they are cherubic, would answer in a way that only small children can: oftentimes silly, sometimes poignant, but always heartfelt, and in a way that will tug at the heartstrings of viewers of all ages. I think I have a hit on my hands with this idea, what do you think? And the best part is that cherubic-looking kids are a dime a dozen. They're everywhere! Now I just have to figure out which grandfatherly celebrity I should have ask the questions...I wonder if Ozzy Osbourne is doing anything these days...
Ozzy looks right at home in this comfy sweater, don'tcha think? Photo illustration by Scott Hanson

I got the idea for this awesome show because our three wunderkinds, the Girl, the Boy, and the Little One, have been saying a lot of silly things lately. I really should start carrying around a video camera all of the time so I have visual proof of all the silly things they say. I could have a TV show right there! Instead, I am forced to use my memory, one of the least dependable things on the planet, to remember all of the silliness. Here are a couple that somehow remained in my gray matter:

The Little One is now 2-and-a-half or so, so this is really her first winter that she can remember. She was over at her Grandma & Grandpa W.'s house the other day, and just happened to look out the window towards the lake they live on, which is already iced over and covered with snow, even though we haven't celebrated Thanksgiving yet. Don't get me started on the misery that is a Minnesota winter...Any ways, the Little One looked out the window and got a flabbergasted look on her face. "The lake is gone!!" she exclaimed with horror. Thankfully Grandma was able to get her settled down quickly. Living in a frozen wasteland like this can be very traumatic to a toddler!

The Girl was the perpetrator of the other silly saying. She was getting one of her regular piggy-back rides from yours truly. Everything was going smoothly, and we were having a lot of fun. Until she glanced down the back of my shirt, that is. "Daddy, you are hairy all the way down to your feet!" she blurted out. Looking back at the situation, I don't remember asking her for her opinion on the matter. Oh well. I have been called a Sasquatch countless times by one of my so-called friends, so I guess I should embrace the truth. The worst part was that I didn't even know how to respond when the Girl said that. I bet Ozzy would have said something witty if he was there...