Starbucks Ponderings

I am sitting in a Starbucks in Nashy on a rainy Tuesday morning.  Cliche, yes I am well aware.  This location is tucked away in an aging strip mall, close proximity to hospitals, specialty medical centers and colleges.  All of which provide the most interesting people watching material for me.  I chose the community table today.  In part because the quiet, secluded tables were occupied and this vantage point is irreplaceable.  From here I'm able to see the coming and going of all.  The buzz around me is tangible.  Work meetings, doctors tapping notes away, women nodding in agreement, men shaking their heads at each other, papers rustling, old friends spotted from afar and Christmas music the background to it all.  

This environment here, all these faces, it makes me wonder.  What are the stories?  What brought all of them here this morning?  Are the smiles real?  Some faces show the hurt and others hide behind it.  In typical fashion a majority of the men have taken notice of the tall, blonde sitting to my right.  Pausing just a moment to take in her beauty.  Still there are some not quite awake and in focused pursuit of the caffeinated beverage that awaits.  Few have entered searching, scanning the room again and again for that familiar face, the scheduled meeting, the one waiting for them.  

Isn't that what we all want?  Someone waiting for us.  Welcoming us in.  Noticing us in a room filled with strangers.  Darlings, there is one that does such a thing.  And He does so willingly and effortlessly, without fail every minute of our lives.  

A Fall Recap...On The First Day of "Winter"

Halloween came and went and with it Thanksgiving and a visit from Nani and as mentioned in the previous post even a move.  None of which have been documented in photos or otherwise here.  There won't be many words, as seems my typical fashion these days.  Nonetheless, this is our family's story, scrapbook, call it what you will, I will post photos until I'm blue in the face in hopes that it will help me remember.  That these pictures will somehow weave our story together in a richer, fuller manner.  Or maybe cause someone to laugh, nod in agreement, or recall their own story and be inspired to share it with someone else.  A continuation of traditions passed down from generations before.  History, the word itself contains "story".  And this place here, it is part of the six Hansons "history".   Here we go.

Natchez Trace Hike.  When we moved to TN the first time in 2006 we took this exact picture of the Things.  At that time all four of them were sitting on the horse post.  

The tree pose on hay rolls in a beautiful field.  I couldn't help myself.  We pulled over on our drive home, ran across the street and tried our best to conquer the hay roll.  Not as easy as I thought it would be.  Not pictured are all the failed attempts and me laying on the grass.

My sweet friend Lori and her daughter Maddie were on a college road trip and made a pit stop in Franklin.  I can not even tell you how much joy this brought me.  Such a treat to see familiar faces from up North and have time to catch up in person.

Things 2 and 4 and myself took Autumn on her first visit to The Frist art museum.  We spent hours in the children's area, creating and learning and watching.  At the end of our day she used her own spending money for a glass marble keepsake.  

We all cheered on the little swimmers at a few of their meets. 

Let's not forget Oktoberfest in German town.  Thing 2 joined us and the Horels for an afternoon of daschund races, German chocolate cupcake and bratwurst eating and polka dancing.  

The gang!

We carved pumpkins at the apartment.  A scary face for Thing 4, an owl for Thing 3 and an upside down bat for Thing 2.  

Thing 3 and I spent an afternoon in downtown Franklin at the Pumpkin Fest with Aunt Natalie, Autumn and Gemma. Or should I say a princess and an owl?

Halloween night was spent at the Horels, eating chili, passing out candy on the porch with these two and watching all the cutie patootie trick or treaters.  

Moving day.  Don't worry Things, there's plenty of room for you too. We had Betsy piled high with all our stuff from the apartment, groceries, suit cases, dishes, medicine and even Polo.  Thankfully Nani had her own seat as my co-pilot.

Thing 3 also got herself a job.  There she goes on her first night at Cool Cafe, a local meat and three.  She works three days a week for three hours.  So far she has peeled potatoes, made all the salads, worked the line and the cash register.  Life skills.

We took a break from unpacking and took Nani for fro yo at Sweet Cece's. It was a full couple of days while she was here, unpacking over one hundred boxes, hanging pictures, arranging furniture and organizing a garage.  Whew, I'm tired typing that.

The morning we dropped Nani off at the airport Things 3 and 4 drove to KY with me for a footie tournament in Elizabethtown.  Thing 4 is preparing to strike the ball in the photo above.  It was a fantastic weekend on the pitch for the boy.  

In between matches Thing 3 and I found this beautiful park and went on a little nature walk.  

And we found the cutest local donut shop after the first match on Sunday morning.  Because donuts are our family's love language.  Can I get an Amen?

That brings us to Thanksgiving and lefse making.  Family traditions passed down through the generations. 

We kicked our Thanksgiving celebration off with a family 5k run to benefit Graceworks.  It was a beautiful morning and we all finished with smiles on our faces!  Three cheers for turkey trots!

A "friendly" game of 500 in the backyard while the turkey was cooking.

GOLF on the patio.  House rules applied.

The family around the table, my favorite place to be.

I was not afraid to fill my plate with a sampling of everything.  And yes, I do believe I was a member of the clean plate club.

Pumpkin pie, homemade crust and chocolate chip pecan pie with bourbon sauce.  Delish!

We capped the night with a bon fire and coffee and hot chocolate.  It was a great day.  

The next morning the traditions continued, girls up early for their black Friday shopping with Mema.  First the wish bone must be broken and coffee must be consumed.

We were quite productive, lists were crossed off and we were all still wearing smiles at lunch time.  Thing 1 was missing as she was in Seattle still, not to worry though, she has her very own shopping date planned with Mema. 

There had to be a selfie.  

The weekend after Thanksgiving proved to be the opportune time for Christmas tree hunting.  Our original plan was to venture off into the woods at a far away Christmas tree farm but that just didn't pan out.  We opted for the next best thing.  A family morning at Good Cup to fuel up and then the Christmas tree farm across the way.  

Sorry girls, that tree is a little too Griswold-esque.  In the end we chose a too tall, too wide fuller than full tree and the kind young men working tied her to Sven and away we went.  

I made them pose for this photo.  Husband Jared is most definitely planning his strategy for bringing that behemoth into the house.  Hmmm.

Well here goes.  Thing 3 was a huge help while I gave directions on where to place it.  We had to cut off about 6 inches on the top so that she would fit and we purchased more lights and our garland didn't fit around her robust branches, but at the end of the day we all stood back and thought she was just right for our first Christmas back in Tennessee.  

That my friends brings us to December.  And actually this post was started on the first day of winter and not finished until a few days after Christmas.  I have plenty more thoughts to share with you around our Advent season, a visit from Thing 2's friend, Thing 1's homecoming and all the festivities.  For now though, feel free to sit and stare at this beaut.  I've missed you blog world.  


A Gap

After six weeks of what I will call the "moving process", I feel as though we may be starting to settle in here.  As of today we have officially been in our new house, well new to us, for three weeks.  All these time lines may not hold significance on a grand scale but alas for me they mark the beginning of a new season.  A new season for our family.  Just as each season has been marked by something, a word, an event, a location, etc., this one is no different.

Returning to a place we have lived before has been quite eye opening for me, on so many levels.   This city, quaint and idyllic in many ways has changed.  It's people are different, I'm different, heck it has been five years.  There should have been no preconceived notions here.  Except there were.  There always seems to be with me.  We had visited rather regularly for the four years prior and I viewed this little town as my utopia.  No harsh winters, friendlier population, less expensive.  You name it and I cited it as better and wouldn't hear otherwise.  Catch my drift?  Yes, I'm sure you do.  Given that information I think I may have crafted a script in my head of what our homecoming would look like.  The friends we would  reunite with, the schedules that would be cleared, instantaneous connections made, the ease with which we would all re acclimate and feel at home.  As often happens the transition has not gone down quite that smoothly.  It has been marked, just not in the way in which I had expected.  

The road has been bumpy.  There were school disappointments and after a longer than anticipated summer break we were all ready for a little structure.  I really can't believe I just typed those words, but yes, it is true.  Living in the unknown can be unnerving and scary and while the Things were champs this Mama knew they were craving some direction.  A little disclaimer here;  Our unknown, the trials we faced throughout this process, they're ours.  I am choosing not to compare them to others' struggles or our first world problems.  The five of us are here, where God has placed us with challenges He is using to refine us, teach us and sanctify us.  The way only He can.  So while they may not have been "big" on the scale of troubles, we claim them and the hugeness we created out of them.  Which some days was more than others.  Wink, wink.  Moving on.  I spent many days, even weeks, agonizing over our schooling choices.  We wavered between home schooling, public school and online classes.  Lengthy conversations were had between counselors and advisers in between tours and research.  Throughout this decision making process I have found myself more grateful than ever that we live in a country where we can choose the education that best suits our children.  In the end, that is after Thing 3 was told her credits would not be accepted and she would have to take up to seven final exams before she would be admitted, Thing 2 chose to home school for her last three credits of high school and Thing 4 was offered an opportunity to intertwine football and his academics, I can confidently say that homeschooling is the path for us.  At least for right now.   

Amidst the schooling decision we were house hunting and finalizing relocation details.  Our temporary housing situation was a gift.  An apartment for the five us plus Polo to reside until a permanent place was found, no hotel or eating out three meals a day for four weeks.  Thank you very much.  It was a respite of sorts and we established a routine while living there.  Every morning and at least once, maybe twice, in the evening I would scour the real estate sites in search of a home.  With our family's size and budget, not to mention, the four legged creature we choose to claim as family, this proved to be another difficult task; One which I wasn't necessarily expecting.  Have you noticed the pattern?  The market here is booming.  Rentals are available one hour and gone the next.  Prices are sky high and corporate property management teams seem to rule.  These were all bumps in the road that we had to learn to navigate.  Husband Jared was assisting with all this and stepping into a new role with a new company.  I think we calculated that within our first few weeks of moving he was only home for about four days.  That took a toll on me that I wasn't expecting as well.  Anyhow, we would Face Time and usually the conversations were dominated with house talk.  We spent one of our first days here, rather unsuccessfully, with a realtor looking at potential rentals.  With our reality check in place our search continued.  Phone calls, emails, loads of driving through neighborhoods and lots of tours in homes that never felt just right.  In the end we found a house.  In the very first neighborhood we lived in back in 2006, go figure it is the exact floor plan of that home too.  And in the way that only God can we found the house when we weren't even looking for it.  That seems to be His way.  As we were nearing the end of our paid for time in the apartment, with only two rentals available and one well over our price point, a house that was on the market for sale becomes available to rent.

Housing and schooling, those were two top concerns of ours entering into this relocation.  Of course moving with three children and one who is currently away at school brings an elevated level of "concern" to the situation.  Never before had we embarked on a journey like this without Thing 1.  The other Things felt it, I couldn't not notice it.  When we stopped for meals I would still ask for a table for six.  I'd look in the back of the car for her face or ask for her coffee order.  Strange.  We made our best attempt to include her in the process.  Face timing is a magical gift from technology. At each of our stops we'd call and share our surroundings, the treat we were indulging in, the hotel we were staying at and yes, she even had a tour of the apartment.  It kept us connected and I am grateful. I think it might have helped Things 2-4 as well.  Your siblings, they say, are the only people in your life who share your story from the beginning.  I'd say that's true.  They are the only ones that know what growing up in your household was like.  Needless to say they are important in weaving together your history, your memories and their influence has the ability to shape you.   I can say with confidence that has been true for my brother and me.  I pray that our four lean on one another, and are bound together by greater bonds as they journey this life together.

Husband Jared and I did not make the decision to relocate lightly.  One of the weighty pieces was the community that each of the Things had created and become a part of.  There were tight friend groups, mentors, teams, Bible study groups and classmates that felt more like family than friend.  Leaving those people behind was tough to say the least.  We encountered attitude, disappointment, sadness, and yes even some bouts of being ignored once the finality of what was happening became reality.  The Things were involved in the discussions and prayer surrounding the potential change and their opinions and feelings were all taken into consideration, however when you are a teenager and your parents inform you that you are possibly going to be plucked from all that you have come to love and trust there will be push back.  This isn't their first rodeo and probably not their last but that doesn't seem to lessen the sting of saying goodbye.  On the heels of "see you later", they all returned to a place where they had grown up for four years, so they knew other kids here.  People change and move on and all that has happened so for them it has been a slow moving dance of finding their community.  Isn't that true for all of us?  The waters rise, the tides change and here we are standing at the edge waiting to be invited in.  We're working through that and no doubt there have been some big life lessons learned.

Finding your place, your people, a community of acceptance and grace and love is a challenge.  God is working through it all, teaching us things we thought we had already mastered; You know, with all the moving and change we've experienced before.  And what comes before every fall, pride.  That nasty five letter word that gets the upper hand on my every time.  I thought we had this one in the bag.  A familiar location, family, friends, all that jazz and then we got in that car and drove away from Eden Prairie and all that we knew and loved for the past four years.  Then it was just surreal.  We walked into a city that was home and that we referred to as "our home", even while living up North.  Now it was home and it became our assignment to create an environment for ourselves and the Things that felt as such.  I carried a bag of expectations with me and never once did it look the way I thought it would.  In some ways I was surprised with the ease and in others I shook my fists and asked why.  Then I'd receive a text or message from a friend near and far and the expectations would be shattered and turned into God kisses.  I'd be discouraged over the inconveniences and speed bumps and the timeline in my mind that wasn't coinciding.  Sometimes I was aware of my propensity to complain and harden my heart, the lack of effort I put forth and the distance I created between myself and God.  Other times not so much.  I would watch the Things be flexible and forgiving and so filled with grace that His presence was undeniable.  When I withdrew Husband Jared would meet me half way and hold my hand until I was ready.  Or at least while I was venting.  Maybe he was afraid I would break something.  There is no pretty way to wrap this up, there are always two sides to every story, the beautiful and the ugly.  Or as an author I admire, Glennon Doyle Melton says this life is "brutiful".  Brutal and hard and at the same time beautiful and awe inspiring.  And we are all walking in and through that daily.  So this season has a marking too, just like all the others.  An understanding of expectations, how they can lead to unnecessary disappointment and how I get in the way of myself most often.  As if that makes any sense.  A season of remembering that gratitude and thanksgiving can be transformative.   He is so good even when I think He isn't.    For now I will put all that in my bag, hold it close and try not to forget.  At least until the next time I do.  Such is the way of life.  Always learning, being filled with more and more grace and continuing on.  We will do that here where He has us until we're not.  Then we'll take what we've been given here and move on and share it in the next.  

Snippets From Summer

Just a small collection of photos from our jam packed summer that may have been left out or included in other posts.  Who knows.  I wanted to reminisce a bit about our last summer in Minnesnowta.  It was a good one.  There were so many memories.  Meals shared around the table, homemade slip n slides, impromptu ice cream runs, bike rides, walks around the lake, trips  near and far, day adventures and all the fun and then some!  Consider these outtakes from the summer of 2015.  

Standing at the Mississippi Headwaters.

Crossing the Mississippi, Thing 2 and Thing 4 crossed with me.  

Hanson Fab Four and the North's Terrifc Three around the table.  

A visit to see Cousin Eden, we started out the morning with a hearty breakfast and then sat playing cards for a couple hours in a coffee shop.  

Caribou treats.

Bean Boozled Family night, you have to watch the video.  I think we all went to bed with sore stomach muscles from laughing so hard.  

You're welcome.

Polo's gift from Israel.

So many days spent at the neighborhood pool.

Farmer's Market with two of my three girlies.

Summer bomb shenanigans with the Martin kids. 

Family boat day for Husband Jared's birthday and Father's Day.  

Thing 3's new hair cut after her return from Costa Rica.  I think she aged at least five years. 

Thing 2's senior photo shoot, taken by none other than Thing 1 herself.  At this moment a man ran by us and said, "I think you have a little kangaroo in ya!".  Yes, yes she does?

Thing 1 spent a weekend in Cali with these two lovelies and then moved on to spend a week with the Strand family. 

My dear friend took our family photos to mark our season here in the Twin Cities.  And then she snapped a few of this girlie, since she has decided to grow up and graduate high school.  It happened in the blink of an eye people.  

Thing 4 had some time with friends on the lake and saucer surfing, a first for him!

And then summer came to an end rather abruptly as this was our view as Thing 1 prepared for her year in Seattle.  I'd like to say I was helpful but mostly I just laid on the bed with Thing 2 and we made jokes and laughed and Thing 3 rolled and packed and organized Thing 1.  Hey, we all have our gifts.  For the record, packing is not one of mine.