Happiness List

I have been pondering for some time the idea of happiness.  Now don't think I will be getting philosophical on here or anything, I won't.  What I am going to do is create a list of things that make me happy and a list of things that do not make me happy.  Sounds easy enough.  Wrong.  At least not for me.  Happiness is a convoluted concept that means something different to everyone.  What makes me smile and feel warm and fuzzy may not be the same for you.  Or it might be. 

I recently read somewhere that emotions follow actions.  Therefore if I behave in a way that I enjoy will that mean I will be happy?  First it would seem I would need to decide what would make me happy to begin with so that I could go about acting that out.  No?  This is usually when my brain becomes fuzzy and I chuck it all and just tell myself to get on with life.  Please do not misunderstand this post.  I do not think that I was created to be happy.  Not in the least.  I do however think that by knowing myself and what triggers discontent I could be more effective. For His purpose, I would hope. 

Is this making sense?  I think I may have lost myself here.  Alright moving on.  Here is my list.  At least at this very moment what I know about myself to be linked to true happiness.

1. getting lost in a book, I love to read
2. baking, not cooking so much, baking!
3. eating, always happy while I am doing so, not always happy afterward
4. traveling, with Husband Jared, with the Things
5. learning something new
6. receiving compliments
7. a clean space
8. making those I love happy
9. taking pictures
10. playing cards with the Things
11. roasting marshmallows
12. hiking, being in nature
13. Bible Study

Things I know that make my unhappy.
1. messes, they cause much anxiety
2. not knowing
3. disrupted plans, for as flexible as I think I am, I do have a certain expectation
4. whiny children
5. when I don't get something I think I deserve, working on this one, I sound like a spoiled child
6. being told "no"
7. guilt, the feelings after I know I have done something I didn't want to do
8. not understanding something intellectual
9. feelings of inadequacy
10. not measuring up, usually to my own standards

And what about you, what makes you happy?  Do tell.  I'm curious.

January-March: A Quarterly Recap

We wrapped the year of 2016 up and kicked off 2017 with dear friends who joined us at the Hanson B&B.  Shortly after Thing 4's birthday these sweet people arrived and we were nothing less than thrilled to share our home and our favorite Main St. with them.  Little did we know that just a few short months later they would be moving South and calling Franklin home as well.  Our time together included ringing in the New Year, venturing in and around downtown Franklin, the kiddos enjoyed some time together at the movie theatre, rock climbing and hanging out around the house while historic sites were seen.  Games were played, champagne sipped, dances choreographed and documentaries watched.  All in all it was a simply fantastic start to the new year and we are so grateful to have shared it with such special people.  Here are a few photos of our time together:

Mandatory Loveless photo and eats.

Board games galore!

Not the best picture of everyone on NYE but I still love it almost as much as I love all of them!

Rock climbing lesson.

Family snuggles.

From friend visits to permit tests, Thing 4 passed his written exam and was well on his way to driving.  All while Thing 3 prepared and scored a 100% on her driving test.  Marking a new season for the family with three of four kiddos licensed and one with his permit.  I wasn't sure that I would ever rejoice in the fact that my children were driving and on the road by themselves but I will say here, cue the hallelujah chorus.  Having drivers other than Husband Jared and myself has been a sweet gift.  Now of course I miss the windshield time with them, but I do still "force" them into that every so often.  What kind of mother would I be if I didn't?  

One new permitted driver.

One new licensed driver.  

January brought another house guest to the Hanson B&B, my sweet friend Holly.  This visit was filled to the brim with laughter, time around the table and all the coffee we could drink.  Julie, Holly and I played tourist, despite the fact that Holly and Julie both grew up in Franklin.  We visited new coffee shops, strolled 12th South and found our favorite view at Crema while sipping too fancy for us coffee drinks.  Let's see we began our family's journey with Juice Plus as well.  A health focused lifestyle change that has impacted all of our lives.  Thing 3 stepped into a session leader position with Reign Ministries and a majority of her free time was spent at the barn, helping, serving and leading in some capacity or another.  It has been one of the most beautiful things to witness. 

Lifelong friends! 

A special relationship for sure.

Thing 1's birthday was celebrated along with her birthday buddy, Cousin Gemma.  Her day was spent with breakfast at home, present opening, exploring Hillsboro Village and then family dinner and cake at home.  It was quite the day and I pray we continue celebrating each other like this for years to come.  Birthdays are so special, another year of life is such a gift.  

Birthday flowers.

Sal's Pizza for birthday dinner.

Strawberry birthday cake and Baskin Robbins 
ice-cream for the birthday girls!

February is also my birthday month.  And this year, my last year in my 30's I decided to throw myself a party.  A pajama wearing, champagne sipping, brunch party!  It was quite the day, one that left a mark in the very best way.  Some of my closest friends in TN gathered in my home, wearing pajamas as we laughed the day away.  They gifted me with words of encouragement, a precious gift for my soul and a beautiful launch pad into my 39th year.  We made flower crowns, or rather, I attempted to make a flower crown, others were much more successful.  And when the sun went down we were still sitting at the table.  Sharing, telling stories and laughing together.  Such a sweet day.  Husband Jared and I spent my birthday day together exploring the city.  Coffee stops were made, we lunched at Chihuan Ale House, walked through the Farmers Market and Centennial Park and arrived home to finish the day with a family gathering.  Our people came for dinner, cake and ice-cream and hugs.  I felt so loved and am grateful for the opportunity we've had to fill our home with people we love, people we don't know and everyone in between!  In between the birthdays is another one of my favorite holidays, made up or not, Valentine's day, or LOVE day as we call it in our house.  Our love day was a bit different this year because we were on our last day of the SHRED 10, so we simplified dinner and toasted LOVE day with our Complete shakes while we played The Sheriff of Nottingham board game.  It was a fun night, and then when the SHRED ended we loaded up in the car and indulged at De Sano's pizza with pizza pie and cannolis!  A-men.  e H

The table, featuring Events by Goldman, and the chalk board featuring Thing 3's art work! 

Our brunch group, minus a few that were either on their way out or hadn't yet arrived! 

Me and my flower crown!  

Book Club ladies!

Naked cake with Italian meringue frosting, 
a new favorite created by Thing 3. 

Our Valentine celebration: JP Complete shakes!  

Another part of our JP journey, salad in a jar party!  

And after all this, another house guest graced us with her presence.  Albeit a short visit it was still ever so sweet.  We love Laura with all our hearts, every single one of us and we consider her a member of the family.  She was in town for a wedding and extended her stay for a night so she could hang out with us.  First stop: brunch at Pinewood Social, then home for cookie baking and catching up and coffee drinking.  

Family fav.

All the coffee and all the brunch please.

Cookie baking 101.  

Onto the end of our quarterly recap, Thing 4's high school footie season began and during one of the first tournaments he injured himself and off we went to urgent care.  Thankfully, it was minor and only sprained which meant his time off would be limited to 2-3 weeks.  Still, it meant he had to sit still, use crutches and ice and elevate.  I will say the down time was welcomed by this Mama, but I don't ever like to see my Things hurting.  No fun at all.  As an Auntie I so enjoy any one on one time I can have with my nieces and nephews.  A dear friend's sons were in their high school play, Cinderella and so Thing 3 and I took the Horel girls to see the play and had a slumber party!  We played with candy wands and watched attentively as Cinderella and her fairy godmother danced across the stage.  It was a night to remember!  We finally cashed in on our Christmas present from the year before, a session in our home with a private chef.  The Things did a majority of the work, learning some helpful tips and short cuts and we all enjoyed a delicious dinner.  Even Chef Joanna joined us around the table.  Our weather come March was mostly amazing and we took full advantage of it with walks to downtown.  Polo joined us quite often and he was rewarded with pup cups for his hard work!  That makes for one happy dog.  

Ice and elevate.  
Look disappointed that you're on the couch and not on the pitch.  

Magic wands are a necessity. 

All smiles at the play.

Chocolate chip pancakes for breakfast, Auntie Leanna specialty! 

Pup cup treat!

The finished product! 

Chef Joanna and her students.

Chefs in training.

And while we were having our adventures as a family of five, Thing 2 was off having her own.  She spent New Years in Spain with dear friends of ours, went skiing for the first time and celebrated at the beach.  There were travel weekends and exploring around campus and a Christmas spent serving in Northern Germany.  Her first quarter of the year was filled to the brim as well.  And even though my heart ached with how much I missed her presence I loved watching her soar.  

Additional highlights of these first few months of 2017;  Thing 4 went on a youth group retreat and came home having decided to venture on a mission trip with Royal Servants in the summer.  Thing 1 completed her first semester of college with impeccable grades.  Husband Jared and I spent a night away dreaming and planning for our year.  I was introduced to the enneagram and my book club began reading through the Bible together, cover to cover.  To my best recollection that was January-March in the Hanson household.  As always, I am almost certain something important was left out.  I tried people.  I tried.  Onward and upward.  Or something like that.  

Thing 4's Birthday (15th): Family and Friend Celebrations

Thing 4's 15th birthday began as most all of his other birthdays have, with football.  He was born on Boxing Day and thus a family tradition was introduced, English breakfast and Manchester United on the tele.  He isn't even big fan of the English breakfast, aside from the bacon, but his Mama is so on we go.  Baked beans, Heinz of course, white toast, sausage, bacon, fried eggs and broiled tomatoes, yes please!  Then we watch the footie and cheer on our Reds with family.  (Even if they are not United fans, Uncle Jeff still likes a competitive match)

Thing 4 and Gemma, snuggled up.

From footie to family celebrations, the day was spent celebrating with family time, shopping and eating out and then we had Gpa and Mema over for cake and games, per Thing 4's request.  

Ready to make his wish for the year of 15!  

A game of Clue, one of his favorites.  I don't remember who did it or who guessed correctly but I do know we shared quite a few laughs that night trying to figure it all out! 

With Thing 4's birthday following Christmas and the busyness of everyone's schedules during the  holidays he had his friend party before his actual birthday.  His choice this year: air-soft guns and dinner at De Sano's with his best buddies.  It was a guys only event so sisters and I stayed behind at the house preparing dessert for Thing 4 and friends while Husband Jared chaperoned the games and dinner.  From those smiles I think it's safe to say it was a fun night!  

Hungry guys! 

Ready to go!  

Next birthday is family only but I have no doubt that it will be just as fun.  So here's to fifteen and celebrating it all!  

2017...the year in which the blog ceased to exist

Well, hello 2018 and goodbye to the year past.  Otherwise known as the year where I quit blogging.  At least consistently writing.  Sure birthday and excessive recap posts were published but beyond that not much.  I have no good reason why.  No dramatic life event that kept me from writing, other than I was living life.  When I look back at my photo stream and re-read journal entries from the year I am then reminded of what a whirlwind the year was.  It was kicked off with the very best house guests to ring in the new year (2017) and from there continued in that fashion.  A revolving door at the Hanson B&B, graduations, trips abroad, a homecoming for one Thing, a cross country move for another and an International move for four of our six, including about 6 long months of interviews and conversations and contract discussions, not to mention a few family get aways in between and all the everyday life that happens within a family of six.  I won't say we were busy but our 2017 was certainly full.  There was and still is so much to share, a plethora of photos to post and the perfectionist in me is really struggling with tidying up this space before I begin to share about 2018.  The blog will be undergoing a few changes.  Seems necessary with this move and our our family status.  So with that, I'll complete my 2016 blog posting with Thing 4's birthday celebration and our NYE celebration.  Then I'll pick up 2017, maybe with quarterly installments, just to ensure life has been documented.  My sweet Things started the tradition of publishing this here blog as a book, year by year.  I just love it and I wouldn't want 2017 to be left out of the collection.  The organization may not be what I desire but the memories will be here, in some way or another.  Stick with me, if you're still there at all, and when I launch the new space you'll be the first to know!  Cheers.

The Baby is Sixteen

Yes, my man child is sixteen years old.  He is a licensed driver in the US and he has hairy legs.  It's true.  And he still hugs his Mama, holds the door open for me and will occasionally carry me if necessary.  Thing 4 is one thoughtful teenager.  He is also full of energy, embraces life and all it brings with a vivaciousness that is contagious and somewhat overwhelming for those of us that just need some time to process.  When he walks into a room people notice, quite possibly because he is walking on his hands, attempting to par core the door frame or telling one of his infamous jokes, either way he is a force to be reckoned with.  He bears light wherever he goes and frankly this world could use a bit more of that.  Tenderhearted and inclusive Thing 4 seeks out those younger than him and wraps his arms and his humor around them.  He can diffuse any situation, whether inappropriately or not.  I have a difficult time maintaining my angry eyes when he smiles at me.

All that said, I am here in a new country writing a letter to my Thing 4 as he enters the year of sixteen.  As if fifteen wasn't full of changes and growth you are beginning this new year internationally.  Learning to navigate German, Austrian culture and possibly a football club here as well.  Public transport is your means of travel these days, no license here to drive yourself.  Thing 4 this past year you traveled to Costa Rica with Royal Servants and learned many lessons.  Including how to serve in a selfless way, allowing Jesus to fill the space between what is needed and what is available.  Your leadership underwent some refining and you gained a new friend and mentor that has poured into your life in countless ways.  Friendships grew, others fell away and your character withstood some testing.  We had family trips, you had camp outs with your friends, even in the cold of winter.  You hung on rope swings over the river in the summer and skate boarded throughout Franklin.  There was rock climbing up high in the hills of TN with the Horel's, shooting guns at the range, babysitting cousins and even a trip to a football academy in GA.  Countless hours of training and kick arounds and yes, see you laters as we prepared for our move.  You conquered the bowling lanes and even bowled a 222, impressive.  I've seen your writing flourish in the academic world and I dare say that you've discovered the subjects you prefer and a few that you don't necessarily like.  You rode a horse with your sister for the first time, held babies, been a referee on the pitch, had a crush, ate at a proper steak house and won your age division in our family 5K race for Mercy Clinic!  Not to mention you were the defensive player of the year for your HS team. Well done.  You claimed your drivers permit as well as your license in the same year, took a cooking class with the family and we all bid farewell to our beloved pup, Polo.

I pray that through all of it and because of it you have learned to press into Jesus more than anything else.  This world will tempt you, taunt you and deceive you, standing firm on your foundation will never be easy but it will always be worth it.  Trust me on that one.  And if you don't believe me, ask others and question often.  I do think that is the only way to claim your faith for yourself.  Question.  Search and read.  Surround yourself with people different from you.  The journey is part of the process and it will fill your story and expand it in unknown ways.  Please do not listen to the lies, you are never too much or too loud or too anything.  You are uniquely you, created in the image of a perfect Father who doesn't make mistakes.  You have a purpose and calling that only you are able to fulfill.  I pray that is revealed to you clearly, with wisdom and discernment.  I pray that when you are tempted you find a way out.  I pray that your heart remains pure.  I pray for all that you consider important and worth fighting for.  I pray that when no one else stands up that you choose to.  I pray you take the long and narrow road, not looking to the left or right but running your race, no one else can.  And if you've ever wondered, I want you to know that I am so grateful I was chosen to be your Mama.  I know I say it every year here in these letters, but I am.  It is a calling that I do not take lightly, one I've both failed at and had some wins, nonetheless I will continue to give it my everything;  Everyday you and I walk this earth together.  You are a gift.  Happy birthday son, and as we say, here's to the year of 16 and all that awaits you.  Press in, have adventures, celebrate, make space for quiet, love big and learn something everyday.

(Photo by Carissa Rasmdell)

I love you more than words, Machupichu. xo

December-December 26th and Christmas as Five...In Photos Only

How to even choose photos that would encapsulate one of my favorite months of the year?  I don't know, but I'll certainly try.  Then once posted I'll come across approximately 435 other pictures I wish I would have posted for you.  December is for all things cozy, slow and family oriented.  Whether that be lengthy dinners, baking together, movie watching, present shopping and wrapping, serving, worshipping or decorating.  I try to keep our schedule open and free of obligation.  We like to jump in the car in our jammies and drive around to look at Christmas lights, while sipping hot chocolate.  I think we did all these things and then some.  So thank you December for the gift that you are and the most special gift we celebrate at the end of your month.  You're the best.

Downtown Franklin Christmas Tree on the square, magical.

Creating paper snow flakes.  

That NOEL sign, it's my favorite.  

Christmas Concert at PGS with these cuties.

Thing 4 started working at The Crag.  

Thing 3 made macaroons for the very first time.  Scrumptious.  

Even Polo has treats in December.  Pup cup for one.  

And since this Thing wasn't with us for Christmas we sent her a 
super size package, complete with her Christmas jammies.  

Our mantle looks different every year.  This one has been one of my favorites.

Christmas gift outing with Autumn and Gemma.  We went to see 
The Grinch play at The Grand Ol' Opry.

So much fun watching these two take everything in.

While we were at The Grinch these five escaped!  

Tree decorating shenanigans. 

Traditional gingerbread house creating.

Thing 3's turn for the angel placement. 

Toasting the Eve with apple cider.  

Sibling sleep over, every Christmas Eve.

Presies underneath the tree.

The reading of Luke 2, Jesus' birth story.

This guy liked his present!  

Annual ornament photo.  You know, so I don't forget.  

Christmas morning brunch with the family.  

Cousin present time.

Christmas day walk...in shorts!  

And that my friends wraps up this month.  Well, at least through Boxing Day, or Thing 4's birthday.