Thankful Thursday #96

* photo taken by Thing 1 at a playground

903. lazy summer mornings
904. to do list checked off
905. study time
906. helping hands of Things
907. family prayer time
908. answered prayers
909. a joyous Sunday
910. belly laughter
911. having Thing 1 drive me around town
912. pool side fun

Missing Two

Two of the four Things are away at camp this week.  Pieces are missing.  Our family is not whole.  It hits me when I am making the bedtime stops.  One room to the next and made beds and no girls waiting to be prayed over.  Two less backs to scratch and two less necks to hug.  I am thrilled that they have the opportunity to learn and serve and have fun this week but I am still a Mama that misses having all her Things around. 

Thankful Thursday #95

Summer 2010

893. honest friends
894. VBS
895. 3 Things serving other kiddos at VBS
896. 1 Thing having the time of his life at VBS
897. books arriving in the mail
898. surprise package from a sweet friend
899. time together
900. impromptu pool dates
901. stocked refrigerator for summer
902. colored face pencils

Birthday Dinners, Football Tournaments and Fathers Day

It was another full weekend for the Hanson six.  We celebrated Husband Jared's birthday with his traditional requests, chicken parm and spaghetti and chocolate, chocolate cake.  He opened presents and we played Fifa, family style.  Yes, there are exactly 37 candles on that itty bitty cake courtesy of our Things.
Husband Jared's birthday typically falls close to Father's day weekend and this year was no exception.  Thing 4 had a football tournament and we thought what better way to spend Father's day than on the pitch.  Sunday we woke early, packed a picnic lunch and hit the road for two matches.

The Things created this card for Husband Jared, filled with all sorts of sweets and then they proceeded to ask which ones he didn't like so they could have them.  Happy Father's day!  Thing 4 and his teammates played extremely well, despite the rain and unpredictable weather. 

That's Thing 4 with the orange penny on, playing goalie.  In between matches we found some shade and enjoyed our picnic lunches while the boys entertained us and these two smiled just alike for a photo.

The team took home the championship and isn't that a great Father's day gift?  Really it was nice to have the girl Things there rooting for their little brother and Husband Jared and I there taking it all in.

Another Year Older

Here we are, your 37th birthday.  Since we have spent the last 15 birthdays together, at least, I must say that you have aged well.  What is your philosophy again, on aging?  Men become distinguished as their age rises and women, well, they just get old.  Thanks for that nugget.  Maybe we should take a look at some past birthday photos...

 Is that hair I see?  And a little Thing 2 and Thing 3?

 The big 3-0!  with Thing 4!

Maybe 5 years ago, still just as silly!

Joking aside, happy birthday Husband Jared.  Hope this day and the year ahead brings uncontainable joy.  Thank you for the gift that you are to our family.  For your broad shoulders, your patient, teacher's heart and the love you give to all of us.  And of course for your wise philosophical tidbits which keep us laughing if nothing else.

Thankful Thursday #94

Thing 2 and Me, enjoying the sunshine

883. birthdays
884. rainy days
885. time with friends
886. sharing a meal
887. bubbling sounds made by Myrtle
888. lazy summer mornings
889. summer wish lists
890. surprise trip with Husband Jared 
891. creating
892. sunsets at 10pm

Summer is Here

Summer is here.  We had ice cream sundaes the last day of school and celebrated finals being over...finally!  We celebrated having a sophomore, a freshman, a 7th grader and a 5th grader.  More importantly we rejoiced that we all survived this last school year, increased our knowledge and have another year of experience to call upon when needed.  We also have a new, temporary, family member.  Take a look.
Myrtle the Turtle

This turtle came from Thing 3's class.  Her teacher needed volunteers to help take care of her for the summer, June is our month.  So far she has been a fairly low maintenance pet.  The Things really enjoy taking her outside to enjoy the sunshine. 

We have also been at the pool, dropped Thing 1 off bright and early this morning for a week away with her church Foundations group.  They will be visiting the Creation Museum, Field Museum and Six Flags!  Fun. 

Thing 4 was invited to a birthday party and did some fishing, catching his first Northern Pike from a canoe.  What an experience. 

Things 2 and 3 had pool parties with their classmates to kick off the summer season and Husband Jared and I have been playing chauffeur for all of the Things social activities.  Life is good.  The car, we are learning, is a great location for parent-child conversations.  No escape routes.  All of us rather enjoy listening to music, rolling the windows down and singing at the top of our lungs.  Or at least I do and the Things seem rather amused by it. 

We Did It!

Last weekend weeks of training culminated in an uphill battle, mentally speaking.  Husband Jared and I pinned our numbers on, drank our tea and headed to the track.  The race track; Actually streets that wound around downtown Minneapolis creating a 13.1 mile loop.  We ran for two hours straight, really I ran for that long, Husband Jared was much speedier. I did shave about 20 minutes off my previous race time though.  I am so very proud of Husband Jared. His dedication and commitment and were inspiring. Even when I was chasing his shoes during training. The entire race morning was exhilarating and exhausting and challenging in ways that I am still processing.  When people would talk about the runner's high I used to shrug my shoulders and pay no mind, now I not only understand the concept I have experienced it for myself.  We are already looking for our next race.  Sweet friends of ours waited for us at the finish line with our Things.  As I rounded the corner and the end was in sight, even above my music, I heard loud and clear the cheers of Thing 2.  I was overwhelmed.  In a great way. 

If you look closely, you can see Husband Jared
in his green shirt about to cross

And here I am, bright yellow shirt, almost there

Our family, cheering squad and runners

Photographs of the finish line and the fam are courtesy of the Brown family.  Such a gift to have supporters waiting for us after the race.  Thanks Browns!  

Stuck's Resort

Alright, I wasn't really at a resort.  I was somewhere way better; with my brother and his family! 

Memorial Day weekend was spent with the Stuck family.  Soaking in Gianna and some sweet time together.  When J picked me up at the airport with no Gianna in the car I could hardly contain my anxiousness.  I needed to squeeze that little girl and remind her who Auntie LeLe was.  Not just some funny, silly talking face on the computer screen.  And then she woke and when she did we made certain we were only separated for naps and night time sleeps. 

The few days we had were wonderful.  We played and laughed and enjoyed being present with one another.  Watching Gianna discover her walking feet and listening to her squeal and giggle and try and sing Le Le!  That might have been my doing.  J grilled crab legs and lobster for Corynn and I and I am pretty sure my taste buds did a little dance.  There was shopping and lounging at the Stuck resort, which is really their backyard with tiki torches, a table and inflatable pool.  Yeah, that's how it is.  Love that. 

 Bocephus, the family dog, was enjoying the resort life too

This girlie is "sooo big"

Relaxing at the resort, listening to Johnny Cash

Our last day together we reunited with a few of our extended family at the VanDieren household, they have a real pool!  It was a treat to see the cousins, visit and just BE with aunties and uncles and cousins.  Gianna loves the water and floated around.  We ate and caught up on all of life's happenings and relished the time together, albeit short.  Never is long enough though. 

Auntie Robin and me

I must say once again that I so cherish this time.  Being with J, Corynn and Gianna was such a blessing.  Watching my baby brother, yes, the one who is a good 8 inches taller than me, be a Husband and a Daddy is almost more than my heart can take.  Gianna is edging in on her first birthday and she is inquisitive and mellow and fearless.  She explores and observes and you can see in her eyes the love she feels.  I may be partial but she is one special little girl who has a forever place in my heart.  The fact that I am Auntie LeLe might have influenced that a bit.  Regardless I am over the moon about her.  (Her parents too!)

Love, love, love this family of three

Meet Grace, Niece #4

Now I could just stop right here and let y'all coo and gaze longingly at that sweet face, because really?  Is she not just the sweetest thing.  Let me answer that for you, yes, yes she is.  I was smitten at our first meeting.  Of course I must clarify that I have said that about every one of our nieces and of course our one and only nephew too. 

I was privileged enough to fly out to the West coast and meet this bundle of joy and spend some much needed time with her big sister and brother.  Her Mommy needed to finish her last week of school and me?  Well I was able to be fun Auntie and love on these three for a few days.  We visited parks and  played in the back yard and had interesting dinner table discussions. 

Emme, who is now three years old, asked me to read her stories every night.  My heart melted.  We would sit and snuggle and read.  Oh no, that's not what happened.  This girl is imaginative and energetic and fills her house with intellect and bursting joy.  So we didn't quite snuggle, I read and she listened while talking to her toys and doing somersaults on my bed and occasionally coming in close for a squeeze or a moment of stillness.  She is amazing.  On my last day I decided her and I needed a donut date.  There is just something about California donuts that don't compare to any others.  Yes, there may be a slight donut obsession.  I'm blaming that one on my Daddy.  Anyhow, we walked to the donut shop.  Actually I walked with a monkey of a girl on my back.  Giggling and observing and having deep discussions about how you must have chocolate milk with your donuts.  I obliged of course.  Fun Auntie.  That's me.  We ate our donuts and drank our milk and then in the most matter of fact tone Ms.Emme said, "Auntie, can we just sit here and talk?".  Ugh, how old are you?  We did.  We sat and chatted and laughed and in that moment I realized just how special it is that this girl calls me "Auntie". 

Then there is Mr. Colin.  Huggable, content Colin.  A boy who is learning to explore and feeding himself, he follows his sister everywhere and is learning the world around him.  You can almost see the questions being answered in his expressions.  Colin was a bit underweather and so I took him to the pediatrician along with Gracie.  Interesting.  It had been a while since I had an infant carrier and car seat in a vehicle I was driving.  I relished the time together with him.  Reading books, writing on the chalk board and being the recipient of some Colin love. 

Have I mentioned sweet Gracie?  She is just as precious as she looks.  On our last day together we sat and stared and cooed and solved the world's problems, her and I.  She may not remember our first meeting but it will forever be engrained on my heart. 

*when she is sleeping she does this with her hands, had to capture it

Maggie and I decided that the farmers market would be a fun outing for all of us.  So one afternoon we visited downtown Anaheim and walked the streets.  There was fresh fruit and veg, flowers and tasty sweets.  We stopped and sampled and took  home some of the sweetest strawberries that I have had in a very long time.  Remember what I said about the CA donuts?  Well strawberries are right there with them.  Emme chose flowers for Daddy too.  We played on the rocks and danced and imagined. 

To summarize, the days spent with the Strand family were special, joyous, busy and filled with memorable moments.  I was also forced to recall some of our younger years with four kiddos under the age of five.  The flood gates opened and I was inundated with snap shots of the  Things during the toddler years, visiting stores with them, hoping there were no tantrums.  Praying I could check off our grocery before nap time and then just staring lovingly at them while they rested and wondering what on earth I ever did to be blessed with the four of them.  Good times.  I absolutely love these five Strands and am so grateful I was able to live some life with them. 

Thankful Thursday #93

Artichokes at Anaheim Farmer's Market

873. special time with Brother's family
874. laughter with Aunties and cousins and friends
875.  donut dates with niece
876. doctor's visit with only nephew
877. holding new baby Grace
878. late night chats with sister
879. lounging at Stuck's Resort
880. crossing the finish line
881. Things cheering us on 
882. friends who support