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Here's to you, my husband, on our seventeenth wedding anniversary.  When I said "I do" all those years ago I had no idea what was in store for the two of us.  I don't think I understood what those two words meant.  All the weight that they hold.  Even now.  Yet here we are, seventeen years later. 
Standing at the altar and saying I do means saying yes. 
Yes when you really want to say no.  Shouting yes when a dream is realized.  Yes when it means sacrifice.  Yes when you just want to put your pajamas on and  hide under the covers.  Mumbling yes when you are being lead in a different direction then your own.  Yes to staying  up late and hashing it out.  Yes when you ask to hold my hand.  Yes when adventure is knocking.  Yes to the easy and yes to the in-between.  Yes to trying again.  Yes to forgiveness.  Yes to starting over.  Yes to the unknown.  Yes to trusting.  Yes to dancing.  Yes to bike riding.  Yes to sharing the kitchen.  Yes to laughing.  Yes to crying.  Yes even when...
I can't paint a Monet of the relationship that is our marriage, not even with words will I be able to do this justice.  No poet here.  Know that when I say "I love you", it means yes all over again, every single day. 

Summer Reading

Since I just finished a book I thought it time to share my summer reading list with you.  Please be warned that a majority of the stack are food related.  Whether an actual cookbook or not, most do contain recipes.  Food and words, now we're jamming with my love language.  So here we go with a list of what I've read or am reading as of late:
1."Delicious" by Ruth Reichl
I have only recently discovered the genius of Ms. Reichl but she definitely had me at hello, or "Delicious" in this cases.  Simply remarkable food descriptions.  I could taste and smell and see in intricate detail each and every spice and flavor in this novel.  And with ten years experience at Gourmet magazine it's no wonder.  She tells a story intertwined with food and history and love and love of food.
2. "Delancey" by Molly Wizenberg
Stumbling upon her blog, Orangette, I was immediately enchanted.  Not only with her style of writing but her recipes and passion for food and sharing that food with her people.  "Delancey" is a memoir of the journey the author and her husband took in opening their Seattle based pizza restaurant, Delancey, named after the subway station in New York.  I laughed, I had my sanity questioned, because even after reading this tale I still secretly want to open my own restaurant.  Don't tell.
3. "Notes From a Blue Bike" by Tsh Oxenreider
This might be my least favorite read in the stack.  Oxenreider is the creator of a site that speaks to living life more simply and practical ways in which to do so.  The book is a collection of stories and lessons learned while living abroad with her family.  While I can appreciate the author's experiences and the desire to live simply  and most certainly the living in Turkey it may have just been her writing style that didn't sit well with me.  We read this book for our book club selection and I must say that certain chapters sparked some great conversations.  I do think it was lacking in continuity for me.  All that to say, not every book we choose will be our favorite.
4. "The Extravagant Fool" by Kevin Adams
Disclaimer here, Kevin and his family are personal friends of ours so what you read below may sound biased, it's not, or maybe it is, either way I say BUY this book.  And not just one copy, but two, one for yourself and one to give to someone you love.  This story challenges one to redefine faith. Through personal struggles and God sized miracles Kevin shares his heart for Jesus.  Passages such as this are underlined in my copy and highlighted and re-read often; "Faith isn't about living each day as my last, but about living as if each day belongs to God, and remembering that not one person ever walked away from Jesus, unloved.  Welcome to post-salvation life."  Kevin even provides what he calls, "back-pocket proverbs" for his son, Tyler.  I won't share the story, Kevin tells it so much better.  What I will give you is an invitation to "hear the living, breathing testimony offered by the extravagant fool, a man who staked his welfare-and future-entirely on the goodness of God."

5. "Love Does" by Bob Goff
Husband Jared and I had the privilege of hearing Bob speak at the Storyline Conference we attended back in February and let me just say this man is the real deal.  A genuine soul with more than hugs to share.  He actually printed his personal phone number in the back of the book.  Better yet, he answers the phone anytime it rings, even when he's on stage!  We received a copy of his book at the conference and had already purchased one prior to attending.  I had read portions of it and when we returned home we began reading it as a family.  In short, this book is about loving God and others.  I'm sure you're familiar with the old adage, actions speak louder than words, well in this case love does.  Bob shares stories from his life and how his former way of thinking has been recalibrated. 

6. "Tender at the Bone" by Ruth Reichl
I read this memoir of Ruth's after reading "Delicious" and I was craving more of her story telling.  This is described as her memoir and the story is fascinating.  Weaving recipes into memories and people into specific places and meals.  I was left wanting to know more.  More about her, more about the food she makes.  Just more. 

7. "Moment Maker" by Carlos Whittaker
On the wave of storytelling and living life and loving people this book caught my attention with it's title.  Husband Jared and I quite often remind the Things that it's about making memories.  In that same spirit we are responsible to some degree for the moments we do create, both for ourselves and others.  And that is what Carlos shares in his book.  How to live intentionally while paying attention. What stood out the most to me though was the manner in which he speaks of  his wife.  So tender and real. 

8. "Dinner a Love Story" by Jenny Rosenstrach
I can't do this book justice by simply calling it a cookbook, which is what I originally thought it was.  It is so much more.  Jenny gives such insight into a home kitchen's potential.  For nine years she kept a meal journal.  Documenting every meal she ate, prepared, each and every dinner party she hosted.  Down to the finest detail.  Even the amount and type of wine, liquor, beer, etc.  Oh and the result, such as what dish was liked, what worked, where said items were purchased.  You get the picture.  At first I thought this a bit over the top, and then as I read more and understood the impact of this practice I loved the book that much more.  The recipes speak to me and the photographs of her children in the kitchen with her cause me to become nostalgic and remember when the Things would be sitting on the counters helping me mix or chop.  Oh and I already have a few recipes dog eared, ready to put on the menu rotation in this house.

9. "Daring Greatly" by Brene Brown
I have only just begun this book but to say that I am devouring the words of Brene Brown would be an understatement.  So much truth and conviction in every paragraph.  As of page forty five this has been hitting me hard, consistently, "Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy and creativity.  It is the source of hope, empathy, accountability and authenticity.  If we want greater clarity in our purpose or deeper and more meaningful spiritual lives, vulnerability is the path".  Yes and yes.  If you're up for some soul searching and challenging reading I'd say this is right up your alley. 

Alright peeps, that's all for  now.  As you can tell my selections are all over the map.  And just to keep it real, I usually have at least two or three books I'm reading at the same time.  Not to mention the magazines and online reading I do.  Everything from serious, to satirical, newsworthy, mommy blogs, lifestyle, etc.  You name it, I want to read it.  Well usually.  Trying to include some poetry in the mix, any suggestions?  Pass them along.  Up next on the docket some Victor Frankl and Rachel Held Evans.  Husband Jared and I are hoping to read "Atlas Shrugged" by Ayn Rand as well this summer.  What's on your list?  Or on your nightstand? Maybe your coffee table or kitchen counter?  Tell me, please. 

The Fourth in Franklin

It seems as though every post I write lately is a catch up piece on the latest and greatest happenings. I'm determined for this post to be different.  There are no guarantees however. 
First, the youngest Thing was retrieved early from JAM camp in order to make the trek to Chi-town for a football tournament.  Husband Jared and said Thing left early the next morning for said tournament and I had the privilege of cheering on a sweet friend's daughter at the Special Olympics in Stillwater.  I can not even tell you the joy I experienced being witness to the events.  There was an Olympic Village, medal stand and crowds of supporters.  And given that the meet was in close proximity we celebrated the Olympian with none other than Nelson's Ice cream.  An iconic establishment that offers servings larger than my head.  I enjoyed my treat immensely.  As evidenced in the photo below.  Things 1 and 3 arrived a day later and we had quite the girls weekend.  Reality check.  They spent the entire weekend recovering from a week of late nights, studying the Word, swimming and all manner of camp shenanigans.  Thing 4 played well, had a field trip to the ER in Libertyville, thanks to an elbow to the head which left him with a concussion and unable to play in Sunday's matches.  Poor boy.  It was rough for this Mama not to be there.  He was in excellent care with Dad and they returned home the next day, thankfully.  The girl Things and I managed a trip to the food truck fest in Uptown where we sampled the fare and enjoyed some rather interesting people watching. 
Tough kiddo...
Gorgeous July day at the Food Truck Festival
Yes, that is one "small", it's all relative!
As a disclaimer I could not even finish the small cup.
So after that weekend Thing 1 jumped on a plane to LAX, well San Diego in all honesty, for her two week jaunt with the fam bam and the four remaining Hansons jumped in Sven and drove South to Franklin for the Fourth.  Which brings us almost current.  With the exception of the four hundred photos I have to share from Reggae Wednesday at the Shroom, Thing 4's lake excursion with his best buddy and our 4th of July celebration at Pappo and Grammy's house.  Here we go, buckle up or run and hide.  Your choice and don't say you weren't warned. 
Eden Prairie, MN to Summertown, TN.  Somewhere between Pickwick and civilization was the drop off for Thing 4.  We delivered the goods, kissed, gave firm instructions as to our boy's limitations with his recent concussion and high tailed it to Franklin.  There were nieces to see and Reggae Wednesday to experience.  An audible sigh filled the air as we exited the car and breathed the Franklin air in deep. 
Every Wednesday night at one of our favorite pizza joints on Main St. there is a reggae band and niece Gemma is quite the dancer.  Gpa, Mema and Uncle RJ (he was visiting from Cali) joined us as well.  Needless to say we indulged and danced the night away, filling our bellies and our hearts.
Auntie Leanna and Gemma

Autumn and her Daddy

Uncle Jared and Autumn
Uncle Jeff and Aunt Natalie
The following day began our resort style stay in the "Outhouse" at the Horels.  Pappo and Grammy welcomed us all and the pool side fun began. We picked fruit and veg in the garden, which has actually become more farm like each year, there were pool floats to test out and nieces to play with.  A fantastic start to the weekend.  Dining was strictly al fresco and the only rule was to have fun! 
Thing 3 and Gemma trying out the hammock
Husband Jared losing the battle with the swan float

The garden, where most of our meals came from while here!
The festivities continued throughout the next day, which was actually the Fourth of July.  Us adults went on an early morning walk together while the littles and Thing 3 rested up.  Preparations for the days' meals began shortly after breakfast, there were football matches, hello World Cup!, bocce ball tournaments, volleyball in the pool, family and sunning. 
Autumn checking out the bocce ball set up.

Gemma trying to catch butterflies

4th of July family dinner, Natalie's infamous ribs
Horels, Reeves and Hansons, (all related parties not in attendance)

Bocce Ball challenge

Playing in the pool
And then as soon as the sun set firework set up commenced.  Our light show is no joke.  Complete with a saw horse stand, mortars, and more pyrotechnics than I could dream of. It was fabulous until something went awry and all of a sudden there were sparks whizzing past us.  Game over.  Fire doused and all of us went safely inside.  Lights out. 

Gemma was quite mesmerized by the fire

Autumn's first go at sparklers

Crowd Control

Thing 3's first attempt at bottle rockets
Thing 3's fun with sparklers!
Kissing Sisters!
While us adults were looking forward to another pool day, more lounging, and some football viewing before preparing for the drive back up North, Thing 3 and her cousins were surprised with an impromptu painting session by none other than the resident artist, Pappo. Two hours later Thing 3 immersed from the studio with this masterpiece.

To say we were all impressed would be an understatement.  Under the careful instruction Thing 3 painted an incredible beach scene, which is now sitting proudly on our mantle. 
I just can't leave out this photo of Thing 4 and his buddies at the lake.  It does not feel like a stretch to say that he looks as though he was having a great time too!
Jake, Blake and Thing 4, just chillin'!
In the blink of an eye it was over.  Husband Jared and I reluctantly packed up, leaving behind Thing 3 and hitting the road solo.  Thirteen short hours later we were home.  And this was waiting for us.  One very sad dog who was missing his Things.  I feel you Polo, this Mama was missing them too.  Although I'd be lying if I didn't say that I was excited as well to have the house to ourselves for a week. 



Three Weeks

Three weeks and this little blog has been silent.  My friends all I can say is hello summer and goodbye to May, otherwise known as a busier month than December.  With all the finals, papers, projects, recitals, concerts, end of the year parties and wrap ups, May's calendar looked more like a surgery board in the ER than a family's events.  Alas we have survived and maybe even thrived.  When that last day of school arrived we were all elated.  Seriously.  I could have possibly even done back-flips.  You know, if I wanted to. 
Thankfully the last day of school was also National Donut day and we felt obliged to celebrate.  We learned that this day is commemorated due to the Salvation Army's donut lassies of World War One.  A simple yeast donut was hand delivered to soldiers fighting as a means of providing some comfort in the midst of chaos.  The tradition continued through the Vietnam war and as you well know the Salvation Army is providing services to our veterans in a variety of ways even today.  You can read more about the history of the donut lassies here, Salvation Army North.  Here is our crew at our favorite donut shop, Yo Yo , where we ate our fill of FREE donuts as well as a few special ones.  We were even fortunate enough to snap a photo with a donut lassie dressed in an authentic replica of the donut girls' uniform. 

We had our traditional ice cream sundae party the day before this.  I'm a little out of order here.  The official last day of school was filled to the brim with airport runs, graduation practice and an assortment of other activities preventing us from being together.  So as not to be forgotten here is our annual sundae photo, complete with happy faces since finals were FINISHED.
Husband Jared had a weekend full of celebration as well.  First a birthday and then Father's day.  Since our Things were all busy with work and such we chose to combine the festivities on Sunday night, with a special dinner, dessert and family monopoly, per the guest of honor's choosing.  On his actual birthday we ran a 5K race as a family/team with our sweet friends.  The city of Eden Prairie and our church, Grace, collaborated to put together this event in effort to raise awareness surrounding human trafficking.  I had the privilege of helping and being on the other side of the table was eye opening for me.  I've ran multiple races but never thought too much about the planning and organization that is poured into a single event.  Over $17,000 was raised by 750 registered participants.  I'd say a successful race for it's inaugural year.  The monies will be donated to local shelters and organizations that provide aid and resources to trafficked victims. 
Family selfie...of course

Team photo at the finish line!
Once the race was finished and we dried off, yes there was a torrential down pour as the last of the walkers were crossing the finish line.  We came home for birthday breakfast and to watch World Cup, because of course.  That was the birthday boy's one request for the weekend, a few days of football watching.  Easy enough.  Unfortunately our cable line was cut the day before by the neighborhood landscapers.  Cooler heads prevailed and we purchased an antennae and thanks to my brother we found an adapter for my iPhone, allowing us to view the matches that were televised on ESPN.  Crisis averted.  Although for the England v. Italy match we made a visit to Buffalo Wild Wings with friends.  They all helped in wishing Husband Jared a happier birthday!  There was cake and ice-cream afterward and then Father's day to follow. 
Birthday breakfast after the race...ginormous card, courtesy of four Things

Blowing the candles out, all 39 of them!
Family monopoly for the Father's Day win!
The week following was a bit of a reprieve before Vacation Bible School began.  This is significant because all four of the Things were volunteering in some way.  The older two were in childcare and the  younger two were members of J Crew, which meant they would be dressing in costume and teaching the songs and dance moves to all the attendees!  Sometimes even on stage.  There were rehearsals and late nights and impromptu dance parties happening at all hours.  I was so very proud of them all for their commitment to investing into the lives of those younger than them.  They shined their light bright that week! 
The big performance night...Thing 3 with two of her sweet friends

That's Thing 4 back there- in his element!
That brings us to present day.  Otherwise known as the week where all the Things left us.  Not really.  Thing 2 flew to Cali for her special week with Poppi and Nani and then Things 1, 3 and 4 left for JAM camp for the week, leaving Husband Jared and I on our own.  I am certain they are all enjoying themselves immensely as evidenced by the photos below.
The Things holding their care package- which they had to work for.  Thing 1 is a camp counselor, it is Thing 3's last year at camp as a camper and for Thing 4, the very first camp experience! 

Thing 2 and Nani playing Scrabble while camping in San Clemente
You may be wondering what Husband Jared and I have been doing with no Things in the house.  Well much like Polo, our pup, I sometimes find myself wandering from room to room looking in to see if they  might be there. When they aren't I pick up their blankets and rock back and forth.  NOT.  The house is unbelievably quiet though, and I don't think I've even had to run the dishwasher once since they've been gone.  I haven't been to the market or done laundry or cooked dinner. A rarity for this Mama.  There have been date nights and card playing and late night talking and dreaming and projects completed.  We've had fun, don't worry about us. 
 Date night selfie
With that I think I have updated and caught us all up on the current.  Maybe next time I won't have a three week hiatus from writing.  Or quite possibly I might given the fact that it's summer. And what I'm learning is that when you live in "Minnesnowta" you make the most of each and every day when the temperature is above 65 degrees and the sun is shining.  


I know, I know.  I have a blog and I haven't been present here for weeks.  Life.  Let me tell you friends it has been full and then some.  So here is a brief, or maybe not, catch up of the life lately around here.  These "catch up" posts are becoming my go to form.  They're concise, to the point and full of photos, my favorite.
There's this holiday celebrated world wide I'm guessing, commonly referred to as Mother's Day.  That's the one. And yes we do all have a mother.  Mine is super.  Unfortunately I was not able to spend the day with her so I spent it with the four that made me a Mama.  It was a wonderful day.  Beginning with breakfast  delivered to the pitch by Thing 1, where Thing 4 had an early morning match, lunch at one of our favorites, movies and snuggles in the afternoon and Husband Jared and the Things in the kitchen making dinner.  All six of us.  Together.  
The next weekend was prom for Thing 1.  We made a day of getting her ready, starting with mani - pedi's in the morning, make up application in the afternoon and hair done by yours truly just before pictures.  This day brought me untold joy.  Watching our young lady have her beauty show from the inside out was memorable to say the least.  She went with a group of friends that met here at our house before their diner dinner at Snuffy's.  They boarded a boat on Lake Minnetonka for the actual event and danced the night away underneath the stars and a gorgeous Minnesota sunset. 
Well the adventure continues and one night a few weeks ago it lead us straight to urgent care.  Only this time not for one of the Things but for me.  I'll spare you the bloody details but when all was said and done the kitchen knife won and I walked away with six stitches in my thumb.  Husband Jared simply could not resist this photo op.  I haven't laid in a hospital bed since Thing 4 was born. 

Next up, a volunteer opportunity coordinated by Things' 1 and 2 Bible study group at school.  Husband Jared and I were the adult chaperones so we made it a family affair and all went to Feed My Starving Children and packed food.  The best part about this night, other than the fact that immediate needs were being met, was watching these young adults in action.  And then hearing Thing 2 pray over the boxes that would be sent out about did me in.  So very powerful, all in the name of Jesus. 
The ERA group
Thing 4 and our buddy Jack!
Onto a fun, family-friend night.  Maybe a bit out of order but nonetheless it happened within the month of May so I deem it ok to be included.  Whether chronological or not.  We hung out with some family friends of ours and since the weather had turned the corner we were outside the entire night.  The kids ran around and played, we ate our first s'mores of summer fireside and even the Coke-Mentos science experiment was completed.  I only wish you could listen to the audio to accompany this photograph.  Squeals of sheer delight from every single babe, regardless of age.  What joy!
For Memorial Day weekend we made a quick jaunt to Tennessee for a visit with Papa, who was on vacay from Phoenix.  Our time it seems is never quite long enough to make the rounds when we are there.  We put our best foot forward and made the most of our hours with Papa.  Whether it was playing cribbage, fishing or boating on the pond.  There were games with our nieces, a trip to the Franklin's Farmer Market, some hot chicken (pictured below), a little bowling, dropping Thing 2 off with her second family for a week at the beach and then relaxing. 
The visit was sweet and memorable. 
Thing 4, first swim of the season

Thing 1 shooting the bb gun
Us Six and Papa

Husband Jared and Thing 3
Ron, Jeanine and Papa

Giddy up Uncle Jared
Hot chicken, because what would a post from me be without at least one food picture!
Polo has been readying himself for summer too with a new haircut.  He was showing off the other day and I couldn't resist.  Check him out. 
Such an old dog.
We christened the beginning of pool season here on Memorial Day, early in the morn after our drive back from TN.  It was the perfect time.  We laid ourselves out and relaxed and let the worries melt away in the sun.  At least Husband Jared and I did.  The Things all went swimming and wore themselves out.  Since that was so much fun I gifted myself with a few alone trips to the pool recently as well.  Me, some magazines, a little paperwork and the hot rays from the sun.  Oh, happy days!
That brings us full circle, the month of May covered in one post.  Only 5 more days until summer officially begins (school is out) and we can celebrate with our annual sundae party.  This Mama can hardly wait.  I'm fairly certain the Things feel the same way.