Sunday, November 30, 2008

Introducing the new Roy Munson....

A reference for all you Kingpin fans out there...

Matthew's first bowling experience went surprisingly well Friday. We headed to Southtown Lanes with Rocco and Meg and bowled two games. Matthew's high game was a 72 (legitimate with bumpers). He was actually more enamored with the foot fault light sensor, but whatever. Having only bowled a 110 high score (pathetic), I thought 72 for a four-year-old wasn't too bad.

Friday, November 28, 2008

What am I thankful for?

Take a look. This about sums it up.

Well, actually, Matthew's missing from that larger group family pic below, but I think it goes without saying that I am thankful for him and the many antics and love he brings to our lives every day.

We had a great Thanksgiving day with the Hansons. We ate lefse--some for the first time.

We played the piano--always a favorite at Chez Hanson East.

Grandpa even let Matthew put some lights on the trees out front--something he's been asking to do for about six months.

We even got a little silly toward the tail-end of the day.

All in all, a great day. And really, our first as a family (Amy was only three months old last year--doesn't count). Here's to many more just like this year's...

Monday, November 24, 2008

That flouride treatment cost me how much?

We recently received a bill from Matthew's dentist. We owe $55 for his flouride treatments. But wait, we never received any kind of heads up from the dentist that this wasn't covered. No conversation about the option of forgoing the flouride. No talk about the fact that this would result in an extra charge because our insurance only covers one flouride treatment per year per child.

Would you ever get away with that in any other service industry? 

What if PR firms started charging clients randomly for services they thought they needed, but never officially asked. Isn't that the same thing? What am I missing here? At the very least, the dentist should have just sat us down and said, "now this may or may not be covered by insurance since this is Matthew's second flouride treatment of the year. Are you sure you want to proceed?" Given all the data, we could have made an informed decision. The way it played out, we were basically duped.

Now, the dentist probably isn't out to "get us" but he's definitely in the business of making money. There's a conflict there. And this is just a basic example--there are some other examples on the health care side that are far more frightening. 

Something needs to change. Providers and dentists need to be more open with their patients when it comes to what's covered, how much it will cost and your options. All the burden can't rest with the consumer. It's just too damn complicated. It's like the darn tax code trying to figure out health care insurance costs these days--thank God I married an expert in health care insurance. 

Any ideas on how we can fix this mess?

Sunday, November 23, 2008

The Geek Squad needs a makeover

I've had it with the Geek Squad. I really have. I've tried to give them the benefit of the doubt because I love what the organization stands for and the way they've so strongly branded their company. 

But, my four experiences with the Geek Squad have been anything put fulfilling--in fact, they've been downright hideous. I've waited a minimum of 20 minutes every time I've visited the Geek Squad location in Bloomington. 20 minutes! And I usually have a four-year-old or baby in tow, so I don't have the luxury of being able to wait in line for an extended period of time. What's more, my latest waiting game was merely to pick up a camera. 
What if I could have called ahead and alerted the Geek Squad that all I needed to do was pick this up? A team member could have greeted me, grabbed the item and sent my on my way. I would have been a satisfied customer. Now, I'm an angry customer that plans on steering as many people as he can find away from the Geek Squad.

The other frustrating thing. Each time I've been to this location, there's a pretty deep line. Meanwhile Geek Squad members come and go from behind the desk as if there aren't four people patiently waiting. How about a "I'm sorry you've been waiting, but we're a little behind at the moment, and we'll be with you as soon as we can." Not that hard and would make a difference. Or, what if when you "checked in" you were greeted by a team member and handed a buzzer (similar to what they do at restaurants) and then you were free to shop and roam the store until your number is called. Again, not that hard. For an innovative and forward-thinking organization like the Geek Squad, I guess I would have expected more. 

Work on your customer service and get back to me, GS. Until then, I'm taking my repair--and warranty--business elsewhere. Very disappointed.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

One reason to come to Duluth: Fitger's

One of the reasons I enjoy coming up to the north shore each fall: Fitger's. During our two-day stay at Larsmont, we get our fair share of Fitger's finest brews. Tonight, it was Starfire, the double-hopped IPA, Kolsch and a seasonal wheat beer. Good stuff. Just wish we would have had a little more of the apricot wheat. Oh well--always next year. 

Bedtime convos with uncle Rocco

"Nothing better than readin' books and taking a nap with my uncle Rocco," says Matthew...

Live from the frozen tundra

The third weekend in November means it's time for our annual pilgrimage to the north shore with the Martell family. We head to Larsmont Cottages, just south of Two Harbors, for a Thanksgiving weekend with the family. 

The accomodations are over-the-top nice--spacious cabins, good food and a pool and hot tub to boot. We rolled in yesterday afternoon and have already enjoyed a short session at the pool. The kids love it because they get the chance to play with other kids (namely, Clayton and Lewie) and bedtimes are a little later (Matthew went to bed at 11 pm last night).

The weekend plays out like this: each family is responsible for one meal. Ours was last night providing sloppy joes, chips, cookies and assorted snacks (and when I say "ours" I mean Jane's). There is always a good selection of Fitger's beer on hand as well. 

More to come later today...

P.S--buzz-phrase of the weekend has already been established courtesy of uncle Rocco: "Yanky my blankey"

Thursday, November 20, 2008

My skin looks like cauliflower

Hey, he said it, not me. Matthew, that is. You see Matthew and his classmates have been studying diversity this week and making self portraits to highlight the kids' similarities--and differences. 

Today, they read a book, "The Colors of Us", which talked about skin color, race, and other differences we have. After reading the book, Matthew's teacher asked each child to think of something their skin, eyes and hair looks like. Here were Matthew's answers:

My skin is like the color of: cauliflower
My eyes are the color of: blueberries
My hair is short and white.

Everytime with the "white" hair. That slays me for some reason. Love the cauliflower reference, too. I mean, I know the kids is pasty, but cauliflower? 

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Amy Hanson...Dancing Queen

Oh boy...we have a dancer on our hands.  Check out the video of Amy at the daycare center birthday party.  Bob the Beachcomber was singing ... and she quickly found her rhythm.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Bedtime rituals

Ordinarily, bedtime rituals consist of reading books, drinking a glass or milk and kissing your son or daughter on the head. While we do practice a couple of those items, we also have a unique set of bedtime rituals in our house courtesy of Mr. Matthew Aaron Hanson. Grandma Jane, Grandma and Grandpa Hanson and uncle Aaron know a couple of these rituals all too well. Most notably "talking about my day." Not sure when it started but Matthew insists on you talking about his day every day. We could be on the road in a hotel, at Grandma and Grandpa's house or camping--we always have to talk about our day. What does that mean? What, isn't it self explanatory?

It's actually not so much about you talking about YOUR day as it is you talking about MATTHEW'S day. Now, we have help from daycare, which sends all parents in Matthew's room an update on his daily activities during naptime. But basically, we follow the same, standard approach--" got up and had breakfast, you went to daycare, you played marbles/computer/sensory table, you had lunch, you took a nap, you came home and had dinner, read books and went to bed. Really, it's not complicated. However, if you don't follow this exact formula, or something VERY similar, he will correct you. "That's not how you talk about my day," he'll say. You think I'm kidding? Ask the grandparents. It's a fun ritual and actually something I look forward to each evening.

We also typically end up reading a lot of books at bedtime. But we also watch a lot of videos, too. Now, videos--yeah, you probably think I mean the Wiggles or Sesame Street or Elmo, right? Yeah, not so much. Try Hootie and the Blowfish or U2 videos. Or, the popular Will it Blend videos. This edition where Tom blends a Nike shoe is his new favorite (yes, he has "favorite" Will it Blend videos--there's about 50 of them...).

Or, recently, the montage from the end of Karate Kid. Seriously, he asks to watch these videos.

I'm constantly on the lookout for the next bedtime video--any ideas, send em my way.

Can't wait to see what Amy's rituals are--a whole new world awaits...

Sunday, November 2, 2008


The time has come to post another conversation between Matthew and Mommy. This one took place while we were eating lunch on Saturday. Enjoy:

Matthew: "Mommy, do you remember when you used to go upstairs and pump?"
Me: "Yes, I remember that."
Matthew: "What did you do that for?"
Me: "So I could give Amy some special milk."
Matthew: "What were those things that you put on?"
Me: "Just part of the pump ..."
Matthew: "Did you know that if you squeeze a cow's butt that milk comes out?"
Me: "Actually, milk doesn't come out of their butt ... it comes out of their udders."
Matthew: "Gutters?"
Me: "No, udders. The things you squeeze to get milk out are called udders."
Matthew: "Mommy, you know those things on the side of the bowling alley ... those are called gutters."
Me: "Yes, they are."

How we went from eating grilled cheese ... to pumping milk ... to bowling ... in about 30 seconds was truly amazing. I don't know that I will ever master his thought process. He definitely keeps us on our toes!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Halloween 2009: Spiderman vs. Puppo

Our first real official Halloween came to a close last night with a trick-or-treat excursion down a nearby street and a pit stop at our friends, the Studdifords, who live two blocks away. The Studs have two children of similar age to ours--Natalie and Zach.

We probably hit about 15 homes total down about a block-and-a-half. It was Matthew's first experience on his own approaching homes and saying "trick or treat." He did pretty well--in fact, he liked it so much, he started sprinting ahead 1-2 houses ahead of the rest of us. Hmm...that sounds familiar (for those of you who knew me when I was younger, apparently I ALWAYS had to be first and/or ahead of everyone else).

Amy did great, too. The big hit of the night for her? As you might guess, a face-to-face with a dog. It was Puppy v Puppy--and the only thing separating the two was a thin pane of glass. I'm guessing Amy could have taken him...

There was one house on the block that really got into the spirit with ghosts and ghouls flying through the air using a semi-advanced pulley system. They even had a witch out front with a talking skull in her crystal ball--a big hit with Matthew and Zach. I think mezmorized is the word.

After the kids were worn out, we headed back to the Studdiford's abode to let the kids play and consume some candy while the adults enjoyed a few drinks.

But there was more to the day than just the evening festivities--Matthew and Angela participated in a Halloween parade at Blue Cross Blue Shield. The kids always trek up to the corporate headquarters and walk around and show off their "crazy hair." I went last year--it's always a lot of fun for the kids (and I think the BCBS employees actually enjoy it more).

Angela also made a Shepherd's pie (with ghosts) that was quite tasty. Unfortunately, we didn't get to carve our pumpkins before Halloween, but we're hoping to do that in the next few days. After all, the kids won't know the difference. We like to do things kind of backwards in the Hanson house.

We're already looking forward to Halloween 2009!