Spontaneous Road Trip And So Much More...My Apologies

I suppose in the true definition of the word our trip wasn't exactly "spontaneous", although for our family of six it certainly was.  Husband Jared and I didn't exactly decide until the Friday before we left that we were actually embarking on said road trip, the Monday before Thanksgiving.  Yes, fourteen hours of driving with four Things left us a bit unsure.  Lest, we put practicality aside and the pedal to the medal.  I must say it was a most memorable sort of trip. 

A few key factors assisted in the memory making of said travels.  First being a speeding ticket inside the lovely state of Iowa.  Who knew there were state troopers EVERYWHERE and hidden cameras watching.  Thankfully we are safe and the Things were none too worried.  When the officer approached the car, all we heard from the back was "Way to go Dad".  Yeah thanks.  We weren't feeling too good about it anyways.  The Things were such great traveling companions.  At each pit stop they never failed to remind me how old I am becoming and how I'm just like Nani because I have to use the facilities every two hours.  Yeah thanks again.  After an extremely long day of crossing several states we arrived in Nashville to the shouts and screams of our passengers.  And maybe this Mama too!  An anxious Mema waited for us at the door and greeted each one of the Things with big hugs like only a grandmother can. 

Our few days in Tennessee were scheduled to the max.  The Things were given one day to make plans with friends and then family time ruled the roost.  We ran them all over Franklin, to the movies, to friends' houses and Thing 4 was even invited to a Predators game by his best buddy, Blake.  Lucky ducks.  Husband Jared and I squeezed some time in with our friends too and then we played babysitter to our sweet niece Autumn.  What a special day.  I don't think Mama was too pleased with us though when we taught her how to say "cookie".  Ooops.  I though that was a privelege of being Uncle and Auntie? 

When Grandpa Ron and Mema left to visit the Strand family in Cali we went to stay with the Horels in Franklin.  That way we had access to the sweet girl above 24-7!  We watched the Lord of the Rings, (after said 18 month old was in bed), played outside with friends, cooked for the Thanksgiving feast and laughed until our bellies hurt! 

Thanksgiving day we all drove to Pappo and Grammy's to spend the night in the bunk house and celebrate.  While the bird was in the oven, as they say, the weather beckoned us outside to enjoy the sunshine.  The family had a rather friendly game of American football first and then moved on to football skills and keep away, complete with defensive instruction from Aunt Natalie.  So fun!

We had a very happy Turkey, potatoes, both kinds, green beans and corn from the garden, jello salad, rolls, all manner of deliciousness.  What a spread.  Grammy and Pappo know how to do it up right.  Thanks for being such gracious hosts for this family of six, we love you both and we all loved staying in the bunk house!

 Does it not belong on a magazine cover?

Uncle Jeff carving the beautiful bird

The family, Grammy's head is there behind Thing 2
and Husband Jared is the photographer

After dinner we did the only thing you can do to escape the dishes, go for a walk!
Everyone, even the dogs.

And then time for pie and homemade whip cream,
thanks to Uncle Jeff and Thing 2.

When we could no longer partake there was time for dancing and juggling and playing for one and all.  Good nights were said to the littlest and the rest of us indulged in Black Friday ads and an obscure movie titled, "Elf".  Oh what a day! 

Our trip did not end there.  The next morning we did what all families do the day after gorging and we repeated the feast with homemade cinnamon rolls, biscuits and gravy and other familar breakfast foods.  I love the South!  I love gravy.  Amen.  I must have been out of practice or just plain overwhelmed by the food because I have no pictures to show for it.  Take my word for it, I was a happy girl.  Then again we ventured to the park to expend some energy and burn a few calories. That is since we were all worried our cholesterol certainly reached unhealthy levels.  It was another sunshine, beautiful day.  The cousins went sliding, ran around, climbed and ran some more.  And me, well I took pictures of course, exccept for maybe one or two!

The good times did not end there, or here for that matter.  Back in Franklin, afer lunch and naps, etc. we strolled through downtown, one of my favorite places.  We took in the sights and smells of all that is familar.  The theatre, Binks, Main Street Toy Store and a new bakery attached to a new burger place.  I was on overload with all the treats!  I reveled in watching my Things be with their cousin and love on her.  She of course was a bit overwhelmed with the whirling dervishes that are the Hanson Six, yet she fared well and laughed right along with us.  Usually. 

Thank you family and Tennessee for a memorable Thanksgiving week!


The act of giving thanks, always, in every moment and every circumstance.  It sounds a noble cause because it is.  Imagine if there were constant thanks dripping from our lips.  A way to find the mundane something to be thankful for.  Posture of gratitude worn like a golden emblem from our chest.  Wouldn't then our hearts soften?  Soften towards one another, towards ourselves and ultimately outward breathing thanks.  Not only in our breath but action.  Love being spoken through Thanksgiving. 

I choose on this day to be grateful.  Deep, soul gratitude for the ones I love.  Those near and far.  For those friends that pick up right where we left off.  Friends that know the words before they're spoken.  Family that loves despite.  In the even though.  Amidst differences of varying degrees and conflict of the heart.  Choosing love and being authentic.  Seeing the glass half full.  Looking at the rain as a bath for our parched spirits and laughter as a remedy for all.  I choose gratitude today and hopefully in the always. 

“The purpose of life is not to be happy.
It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate,
to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Thankful Thursday #76

* Blast from the past, November 2006, Natchez Trace, TN
(and we thought it was cold then)

703. new snow tires
704. coffee date with a new friend
705. early, early morning work out (P90x)
706. reading with Things before school
707. sunshine on my face while writing
708. Thing 1 compliments
709. music heard throughout the house
710. warm blankets
711. wool socks
712. a dinner liked by everyone

Some Sentences

It still hasn't snowed here and I am not too sure how I feel about that.  The anticipation leading up to the first snowfall is not so great for my nerves.

The Things have winter training inside "domes" for football.  That means we are back to having a "something" scheduled every night of the week.  Not so great for my nerves either. 

We are trying to eat an early dinner, have some family time at the table and then hit the road for training and youth groups and meetings and the such.

Husband Jared and I were invited to a dinner party last weekend.  It was fun.  It was out of our comfort zone.  I had to change out of my sweat pants to attend.  We decided that was a good thing!

Polo loves the wind here.  When he is riding in the car he cranes his neck as far out of the window as he can.  Then on our walks he runs into the wind.  Hysterical!

Our winter layering situation has not been fully tended to.  Meaning, we need cuddle duds and socks other than our sport ankle socks and more mittens and beanies that cover our ears.  Help!  Oh and winter tires on the vehicle before that first snow.  Good idea. 

I am trying to create a "mudroom" for the Things gear.  Not sure how to do that.  Working on it. 

My mums are dying.  They looked so pretty for Halloween and I thought they would make it for Thanksgiving.  Not so much. 

I am reading, "A Million Miles in a Thousand Years" by Donald Miller and I am loving it.  Good read. 

My heart has been aching for Honduras.  Missing the people and the place and all that was there. 

Excited to go help in the childcare area today.  Maybe I will get to love on some babies.  I hope. 

I am ready for an adventure with the Things.  Maybe exploring a new park or trail.  Maybe this weekend.  Although not Friday, Thing 1 is volunteering at Church and Thing 2 has a match.  I am sure before long Thing 3 and Thing 4 will have plans too. 

Last night Thing 1 and I were watching a movie and a young girl was learning how to drive.  She was scared and ran into road blocks and drove way too fast.  Thing 1 said that would be her.  Hope not.  I am still coming to terms with the fact that she will old enough to have her learners permit soon. 

And that my friends is a peek inside my head this morning.  Just thought I'd share. 


A few years back I was asked to share with a women's group on busyness.  That was the topic. Learning how to say no and slow down.  You know for the sake of your family, yourself, yada, yada.  Well let me just tell you I got up there in front of these women and spoke my heart out.  I also felt a bit pompous. At the time we were homeschooling, I was making strides in some areas of darkness that needed addressing and I thought I "had it all together".  Well, I didn't really think that, but I wanted everyone else to.  My intentions were pure.  And yes, there were areas where I was slowing down.  Our family unit was becoming stronger and our priorities were shifting.  Yet, there was still this anxiousness of doing it all. 

Here we are, further on the journey and we are still busy.  I notice it now especially.  Being back in the states.  There are commitments, sports, school work, meetings, social functions and errands.  Where did these come from?  If I had to be transparent here, it stems from my desire to control, to schedule and to be productive.  I don't suppose one can be considered fruitful if not actively participating at all times.  Wrong.  And here's why I think so.  My insides just don't feel right.  If the six of us are flying in and out of the house without so much as a peck on the cheek, (they always turn their lips away), or a hug, only to return after dark and just in time to do homework and climb into bed then we are too busy.  More like weary and exhausted and trying to constantly catch up on something.  That busyness stems from a lack of relationship and reliance.  Dependency on something and someone not of this world.  Immearsurably more than me and One to be feared.  Fear shouldn't come from stillness or the lacking.

In Turkey we were chill, as the Things would say.  No extenuating commitments.  No pressure to be somewhere or anywhere.  We just were.  If we wanted to go on a field trip midweek, we did.  Should there be an opportunity for a night away we all packed our bags and hit the road.  And of course if the sea was beckoning us to come play in the sand we answered, immediately without question.  The fireplace was ablaze in the winter and board games and books covered our coffee table.  Friends unexpectedly showed up and stayed for dinner.  Why then upon our return here did we feel the need to be "involved"?  The expectation shifted and I was an active participant. 

For the ease of transition for the Things I thought they would appreciate being "signed up" for activities.  Football clubs, extra curriculars, etc.  And they do.  On the whole, having a passion and being engaged in it is exhilerating.  They were looking forward to being back in their "normal" routines.  Sidenote, I just despise that word "normal".  Who defines it anyway?  So for this family we do enjoy cheering one another on from the sidelines, watching riding lessons, listening to music practice and so forth, I guess the choice lies in making that same commitment to down time.  Time to recover.  Rejuvenate.  Just be.  Whether it be together or on our own.  Just be. 

To summarize, I understand more completely now what the objective should have been in my speech on busyness.  Certainly not how I had it all figured out, because I didn't.  More on how I was learning, and still am, to be a Mary and not so much Martha.  To encourage quietness and stillness.  To be.  To listen more and talk less.  To observe.  To know my children.  To capture their hearts.  To be with them.  Whatever that means, on the sidelines, in the car, around the table on the sofa, etc.

Just to bring this point home, literally, our morning devotional a few days back was the story about Mary and Martha.  The Things had never heard this particular story before and weren't familar with the passage.  Husband Jared and I took time to explain the characteristics of each woman and the setting for the story.  Without so much a hesitation Thing 1 looked directly into my eyes and said, "Hey Mama, maybe you should practice being Mary and not so much Martha".  Whoa.  Really?  My initial reaction was defensive if I must be honest and yes I must.  She then continued and reminded me how I ran around like a mad woman cleaning for when Grandpa and Mema arrived.  I once again was on the defense.  Who doesn't want their house to look nice when their in-laws are coming for a visit?  I know, I know.  By mid morning after good byes I knew what had to be done.  I sent a text to Thing 1 apologizing and thanking her for holding the mirror up to my face.  What a gift to have a child who is so bold as to call me out on something I have essentially preached about before.  She did remind me that I always say those things aren't important and being with people is the priority.  Yeah, thanks.  I'm listending now and paying close attention.  Because I know the Things are.

Thankful Thursday #75

Who doesn't love a photo of an old rusty truck?
Today I am thankful for all these and so much more.  What are you thankful for?  Let me know by leaving your gratitude in the comments.
693. reading time with the Things
694. encouraging texts from Thing 1
695. wild, happy news from friends
696. the unexpected
697. opportunity and possibility
698. surprise letter in the mail
699. heart spilling talking
700. half and half swirls in my coffee cup
701. being reminded to speak softer
702. inspiration everywhere


"When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.  When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.  For, I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior; I give Egypt for your ransom, Cush and Seba in your stead." Isaiah 43:1-4

Horses And The Dinner Table

I have been late in posting this photo, especially for the Grandmas in our lives.  My apologies.  Life must have been in the way.  Thing 3 recently began horse riding lessons.  On her first morning I could not resist noticing the beauty of the farm's surroundings.  Fall foilage, sun shining through and Thing 3 so poised on top of the horse.  She exhibits such calmness around them, a confidence that is uncanny and a determination to be better.  What a thrill to watch her enthusiasm grow each week.

I think the horse was posing for me

And now the funny stuff.  Just a few laughable moments around the household.  First off, Thing 4 was recently trying to describe a referree from the EPL that we are not so fond of.  He is well aware that we appreciate descriptive vocabulary and won't settle for the common adjective for someone that has over indulged on a few baked goods.  So, in his 9 year old cuteness he said, "You know, he's circular".  Yeah, I practically fell out of my seat. 

On a different night around the dinner table, we were all waiting anxiously to dive in and eat.  No one was stepping up to say blessing.  Out of the quietness, Thing 2 shouts, "I'll bring it home".  Well yes sister, bring it home.  Still laughing about that one.  And it never fails to be repeated when an opportunity arises. 

Hope your Monday is full of laughter.


I am not too sure the direction this post will go but I do know that I have some things I want to share.  Or at least empty from my mind and this just happens to be the avenue in which I can do so. 

Last night Husband Jared and I took the Things to view the independent film, Rise and Shine: The Story of Jay DeMerit.  It was brought to our attention by Thing 2's football coach that there was a screening here, near our city so we looked at the trailer and said yes please.  Jay is a young American who had a dream of playing football in England.  After college he left the states to accomplish said goal.  The documentary is his story, the trials and tribulations, of sorts.  The film ends with the culmination of Jay's ultimate goal, to play at the International level for the US men's team.  He did so in 2010 at the World Cup in South Africa.  For us, being a a football loving family, it was a thrill to see this young lad playing in the Premiership.  A dream of Thing 4's.  Although less than 1% of the boys who actually grow up in the academies in Europe ever have the chance to do so.  It is a dream.  Thus bringing me to my favorite quote from the film, "The poorest man is not without a cent, but without a dream".  (unknown)  If you are so inclined you can check out more of his story here and find out if there is a screening in your area, I highly suggest going if there is an opportunity, Jay DeMerit Story.

Which brings me to my next thought.  In the film they interviewed family members and showed clips of Sunday American football games.  The banter, the tailgating and the fact that Jay was born in Wisconsin and most of the people there are born and raised to be Packers fans.  The DeMerit family was and Jay even played American football growing up, and then in high school decided he wanted to play football.  Anyhow, our family has had this discussion before.  More so now living up here in Viking country.  We are outsiders.  Our passion for football doesn't translate.  None of us, and not by forceful measures, can endure watching an American football game.  We just don't enjoy it.  Hearing some of the clips and outtakes from the film last night was interesting.  The way we don't know what we don't know.  Some of us don't know American football.  Others don't know football.  We just don't know what we don't know.  Or maybe we don't like what we don't understand.  Either way someone will always be an outsider.  How do we embrace that?  It doesn't mean one is better than the other.  Well unless you ask me.  I suppose I might have opened a can of worms here.  The notion intrigued me, it even was mentioned in the film; The Americans' perception of "soccer" and how the English view us because of it.  We have some British friends and have shared many a laughs over this.    Alright, moving on. 

All this football talk has brought me to yet another realization.  I am a sucker for inspirational stories.  I like the underdog.  Yes, I cried during the movie last night.  When I saw Big Ben I cried.  Then the clips from all stadiums in England, from the Emirates to Old Trafford.  Fathers taking their sons and daughters to watch their squad.  A club they supported since youth and their father before them and their grandfather.  A young American lad having a trial and going from the pub league all the way to the Premiership. I cried when he spoke of standing in the tunnel next to the greats of the game.  Tears streamed down my face when his Dad spoke with pride of his family signing up for satellite so they could watch their son play "soccer in England".  And maybe I just cried because I missed England.  Or more accurately I miss the time our family had there, albeit short, the memories are larger than life. I digress.  Back to the underdog.  This man never gave up.  He was told no, told he wasn't good enough and that he was too old.  Never did he stop.  He continued training and persevering.  There is a life lesson for the Things.  They may never play football in England but the sheer determination to never stop dreaming is something I hope they carry with them.  Whatever their dreams may be.

Thankful Thursday #74

fall harvest

I'm just making it in tonight with Thankful Thursday, hope y'all had much to be grateful for today.

683. Mema and Grandpa Ron
684. finished basement bathroom
685. Things' hearts filled with gratitude
686. goodies in Things' trick or treat bags
687. before bed cup of tea
688. laughing so hard my side aches
689. crying so hard my soul aches
690. learning how to make lefse
691. rustling leaves on my morning walks
692. whistling tea kettle

Lefse, A ScandinavianTradition

As an early Christmas present Mema surprised our family with a lefse kit.  A special pan, a rolling pin, potato ricer, flipper stick, (not the technical name), and a pastry board.  The girl Things and I had assisted in the process before but never had we attempted it on our own.  Mema was kind enough to share hers and Nana's family secrets that had been passed down and along the way tweeked a bit to make better.  For those of you that aren't familar with this treat, lefse is a Scandinavian flatbread of sorts that consists of mostly potatoes.  The shape is similar to a tortilla, or at least my Things seem to think so.  There are steps to this recipe and waiting so I won't bore you with all of those, you can look it up if you're that interested.  Or maybe I'll share the coveted recipe sometime.  Maybe.
Just the beginning
 Rolling and transferring
(see Thing 1's pajama pants?)

Ricing the potatoes
I have always loved lefse.  Husband Jared, not so much.  With the exception of Thing 2, all the Things enjoy it.  Usually we share in the potato "tortilla" during the holidays.  This past weekend Mema and I got to work in the kitchen and I am now equipped to share in the tradition of  good eats.  The tools are important as is having an experienced lefse maker on hand.  Insert Mema.  The girl Things and I watched and learned and tried and messed up and tried again.  Of course the best part of cooking like this is the tasting after.  We made two different recipes, Nana's and a new one.  Final result was that we all preferred Nana's.  Looks like we'll stick with the family on this one.

Pumpkin Carving and Trick or Treating

What a full weekend we had here at the homestead.  Grandpa Ron and Mema came in on Thursday night and we were all anxious to hug their necks and have them close.  Thing 1 and Thing 2's basement bathroom is being finished by Grandpa Ron and we are all beyond ecstatic.  We kept busy preparing and shopping for supplies and shopping some more.  I think at last count we were at 6 different home improvement store trips.  Between all the work, we managed to carve our pumpkins, roast the seeds and even get costumes ready for the big night.  Family rule this year, no store bought costumes.

 Mema and I showing off the lettermen jackets
(Thing 3 was thinking of wearing her Daddy's for her costume)

I was most impressed with the independent nature of the pumpkin carving this year.  All four Things chose their own design.  Some more intricate than others.  Regardless they were responsible for the cleaning and carving of their squash.  Each curve, facial feature, moon and grave stone were cut with the utmost care.  It was interesting to watch.  I may or may not have shed a tear at the sight of all four things engaging in this activity without so much as asking this Mama for help.  When did that happen?  I must have blinked.  The finished product was well worth their effort and we proudly displayed their art on the porch for all to see. 

Thing 1's pumpkin

Speaking of tears and growing up, the girl Things all had their own plans for the 31st.  Things 1and 2 had friends join them here for trick or treating, Thing 3 was off to a haunted house and trick or treating with a friend from school and Thing 4 had his buddy over.  Husband Jared had the privelege of taking the boys around the neighborhood.  Such loot was handed out, including full size candy bars.  Excuse me people, excessive much!  Needless to say the Things were most pleased.  Our dentist may be able to take an extended vacation this year thanks to our family.  I still made the traditional chili and corn bread but I must say it just didn't taste the same without the Clairmonte crew and the fire pit.  Sniff, sniff.  Wiping tears now. 

Thing 2 and Thing 4's pumpkins

Moving on.  I managed to snap a photograph of all four Things together, albeit at 9:00 at night.  They all returned home for candy trading and sugar highs.  And of course to pay the parentals the usual charge.  Chocolate, chocolate and maybe some chocolate and peanut butter combinations, please. 

Thing 3's pumpkin
Banana, Gangsta, Blue Troll and Gangsta ( maybe?)