Monday, December 20, 2010

Happy Holidays ... Hanson Style!

The wait is over! The 3rd annual Hanson family slideshow is ready for primetime! When you have three minutes of spare time, we invite you to sit back, relax, and laugh. We tried to capture all of the highlights of our year in about 60 pictures. As you have come to expect, this year's montage is also tied to a somewhat quirky ... stick in your head ... rather annoying Christmas song.

2010 has been a pretty eventful year for our family. It was filled with lots of "firsts" and lots of fun.

Early in the year, Amy learned to pee in a toilet. As funny as that is, as a parent, it is a HUGE milestone. No more diapers or pull ups in this house! Matthew lost his first two teeth. He started with the bottom two, but I cannot wait until he loses the top two. There will be many photos of that time period. I don't think there is anything cuter!

Arik and I celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary in May. We left the kids behind, in the loving care of their grandparents, and spent a few glorious days in San Francisco.

In July, I turned the ripe old age of 35, and celebrated with a fun family photo shoot at Minnehaha Falls. I'm not gonna lie ... there are a few shots from this event in the slideshow.

In August, Amy turned 3! She continues to light up our lives with her spunky spirit. Sometimes her smile is so big I think her face is going to explode. She is so funny, and so sweet. We couldn't love her more. Her Daddy turned 38 a few weeks later, and well ...we think he is pretty great too. His business continues to grow, and he never ceases to amaze me with the opportunities he creates for himself.

Matthew started kindergarten in September. It has been quite the learning curve for all of us. What a life transition! Academically, he was so ready for it, but it was definitely an adjustment for all. His teacher is great. She is a recent college graduate. She runs a tight ship, but she has a lot of energy and Matthew adores her. As a parent, I can't ask for more than that. He is reading and writing like a maniac. He celebrated his 6th birthday a couple of weeks ago. He continues to amaze us with his creativity and what appears to be a neverending supply of energy.

Wishing all of you a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! Enjoy the slideshow!


Last weekend we took the kids to the Holidazzle Parade for the first time. We weren't sure what Amy would think of this, as she is often afraid of people in costume ... but it was a hit! They loved it. I think it helped that we got some fancy "dazzle lights" (as Matthew calls them) from a street vendor while we waited. The kids made it all the way to the end! We waved to Santa and headed back through the skyways to our car. Such a fun night!

12.11.2010 Matthew Turns 6!!!

Can you believe it? Matthew is 6 today! I cannot believe how quickly time flies!

We had such a fun day with him. We kicked off the morning with presents over breakfast. This year was the year of the Vikings! Check out Matthew's loot - a new jersey, a new hat, and a keychain with his name on it. He loved it. We also got him some awesome new gloves for playing outside!

After that, it was time to get the kids out of the house so Mommy could get everything ready for our first kid party ever! We weren't sure the party was going to happen, seeing that the weather forecast called for 17 INCHES OF SNOW!! Amazing. We invited 6 little boys from Matthew's class over ... and all 6 made it!

We had a special guest at the party. Liz, the Kitchen Pantry Scientist, came to do some really fun science experiments with the kids. They made two kinds of goo, some magic potion, and did a marshmallow catapult across the basement. I never heard such giggles and squealing in this house. It was a blast! After that, we fed them some lunch, did cupcakes and ice cream, and opened some presents. By the time we were done, some anxious parents were knocking at the door to get their kids home.

The weather was wild. Who knew that Matthew would also get a blizzard (and not the kind you can buy at DQ) for his birthday?

We couldn't be more proud of the energetic and creative bundle we call our son. He challenges us in good ways (most days), and we couldn't love him more. Happy Birthday Matthew!

The Southdale Train

As a parent, there is nothing better than unexpectedly finding something fun for your kids to do. We went to Southdale today to do some shopping. While we were there, we spotted this little training weaving around the main floor. What a riot! It was $3 for the kids to take a ride. Worth every penny! Check out those smiles!

Thanksgiving 2010

For us, celebrating Thanksgiving is practically a week-long event. We spent all of last weekend up north with my Mom's family. We took our annual trip up to Two Harbors and stayed at our favorite resort - Larsmont! Just about everyone made it up there this year. It was so fun! The kids spent a lot of time in the pool, and we got to spend a lot of time relaxing!

We spent Thanksgiving Day with the Hanson's. Rod and Diane hosted, and cooked an amazing meal. It was a really fun day. The kids circled all of the things they wanted for Christmas in the toy ads. It was so funny :)

Rod took them outside to officially light the outside trees. Matthew was beside himself. He and Amy loved every second of it.

We have so much to be thankful for in our lives. I can't think of a better way to spend a holiday, than reflecting on that, and spending time with the people we love.

Election 2010

Check out that excited little voter! We took the kids with us tonight to vote. Our place is at a church across the street from our house, so it was really close. The kids were really well behaved while we voted - I couldn't believe it. They were so quiet!

As we were leaving, we discovered this awesome kids vote that Minneapolis puts on.

Such a riot! They do it for school-age kids, and they tally the results online the next day. Matthew got to fill out a ballot similar to ours. He got to vote for almost all of the same people. He loved it, and we loved it because it led to many "teachable moments" on the importance of voting, and how you decide who to vote for.

He filled in one of the bubbles that indicated he wanted to write in a candidate. I asked him who he wanted to vote for. He can't write that many names, so you can only imagine who he put in there! It was hilarious! What a memorable evening!

Halloween 2010

What a fun and festive day! We started the morning off with some pumpkin carving. As usual, Mommy was the only one who would touch the "guts" of the pumpkin. Oh well, the kids had a fun time picking out their "features." Check out those diamond eyes on Amy's pumpkin! She was quick to pick out that shape. Should we be worried? I think so too ...

After pumpkin carving, we headed to the Mall of America to get some wiggles out, and show off our costumes. The kids got free hot cocoa at Caribou if they were in costume. Why not, right?

After an afternoon of fun, we headed over to the Studdiford's house for some trick or treating with Zach and Natalie. The Studdiford's live about two blocks from us, and their street is just so much fun. People really get into Halloween over there. The houses are decorated, the people handing out candy are all in costume - the kids love it! This is the third year we have walked around with them. The kids lasted about 3 blocks before their little legs started getting tired.

Such a fun day! Happy Halloween!

Amy's Tooth

Poor little Amers developed this awful cavity on one of her back molars. I can't believe we didn't notice it until now! She is not a big fan of the dentist, and they needed like 45 minutes to fix it, so we opted to do it under general anesthesia at Children's West.

Wow, talk about a place that has their stuff together! They made the whole experience fantastic for all of us.

As many of you know, I am NOT a fan of anesthesia. I find it very scary. She was under for about 40 minutes. The dentist fixed the monster cavity, cleaned her teeth, did a full set of x-rays, and sealed all of her baby molars. She was pretty crazy when she woke up, but I think that is pretty normal. By the time she had a couple of freeze pops and some teddy grahams - she was good to go! No sticky foods for this little one anymore!

Goodbye fruit snacks. Goodbye fruit roll-ups. Goodbye suckers. Goodbye gummy vitamins. You are no longer welcome in our house. We are sticky food free!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Paying it forward

We had a unique experience tonight. I took the kids to the Mall of America tonight to go on some rides (sorry, to clarify, this is Arik writing tonight). We had all intentions of visiting our neighborhood carnival, but it just wasn't doing it for us (read: We felt 99 percent of the rides were unsuitable and unsafe for small children). So, we hiked it over to the Mall.

As we were walking in the door, a woman approached us and gave us 15 "mystery tickets" for rides at the Nickolodeon Universe (Mall of American's theme park).

This is a huge deal because, A) These mystery tickets were good for free rides, 100 free "points" (more in a second) or free points for a year, and B) These points ain't cheap (i.e., they're $1 a point).

We gladly took the points. I thanked the woman. And, we went on our way. And, we had an absolute blast on the rides (burned through 50 points and probably about 10 rides each in three hours). And, we learned after presenting our tickets at the first ride, that we had one of the 100 free points tickets.

But, I couldn't help but think back to that woman. She could have easily just thrown those tickets away. Put them in her pocket and never looked back. But, she stopped me. And gave us those tickets. Without knowing who I was or what I was about. Without thinking twice.

Why would she do that?

Point is, it doesn't matter. She paid it forward. And, I plan on doing the same tomorrow and this week.

As much as we are constantly reminded how horrible and selfish people can be, it only takes a moment like this to remember how wonderful, giving and gracious people can be.

Think about that for a minute and consider one way YOU can pay it forward this week.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Matthew's first Twins game

It's a huge moment for any father and son: your first Major League baseball game together.

Earlier this month, my brother and I took our Dad to his first outdoor baseball game in 20-some years.

This weekend, I took Matthew to his first baseball game ever.

We had a blast. We ate popcorn and mini-donuts. We walked around Target Field. We even met up with some of Matthew's Hale classmates who were also at the game. And, it was a perfect day (and the Twins won!).

All in all, I couldn't have asked for more for our first game together.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Hanson's hit the Fair!

The annual pilgrimage to Roseville has come and gone. We hit the State Fair on Sunday afternoon and had a blast. I am pretty sure Matthew inhaled an entire bag of mini-donuts in about 3 seconds. He absolutely loved going "by HIMSELF" down the giant slide, and got to try out the Space Needle for the first time.

Overall, a good trip.

This year marked a big milestone for us - first year without a STROLLER! Woo hoo! The kids are growing up so fast, but it was so nice just to carry around a backpack for a change. Well ... I take that back ... one of us had Amy on our back for about a 1/3 of the time ... but she did a pretty good job. That is just a long way for her little legs to walk!

I am sure you all saw Arik's post on the cost of going to the Fair. Who would think that a State Fair would cost that much money for a family of four? Amazing. I would love to know what these events are like in other states. Do other people dream up crazy things to put on a stick too?

We tried a couple of new things this year - a breakfast burrito (not what I expected, tasted too much like a fajita), and some italian fries (total rip off). Outside of that, we stuck to the basics - mini-donuts, Sweet Martha's cookies, roasted corn and pronto pups! YUM!

Enjoy the photos. For those of you that follow me on Facebook, I posted a few more out there too!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Has the State Fair become too expensive for the average family?

You tell me:

* Admission: $30

* Tom Thumb Donuts: $7

* Coffee/water: $4.50

* Breakfast Burrito: $3.75

* Six total rides of the Giant Slide (4 for kids, 2 for adults): $12

* Skyride for two kids and two adults: $11

* Two Pronto Pups: $7.50

* One cup of cookies and one small milk: $6

* One ear of corn: $3

* One chocolate malt and one ice cream cone: $8

* One order of italian fries: $4.75

Grand total: $98.50

Now, keep in mind, we split most of these food items four ways (the cookies, the donuts, the ice cream). This number could have been much, much higher.

However, when you look at it from a different perspective, it doesn't seem so bad. $25 a person for six-plus hours of entertainment. That's cheaper than a lot of other events we attend or activities we do. And, truth be told, we love the fair.

But, I'll ask again: Has the State Fair become too expensive for the average Minnesotan family?

Note: Photo courtesy of Mr. Outdoor Guy via FlickR Creative Commons.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Matthew goes to Kindergarten!!

The day has finally come - Matthew has started school! Today was his first day of kindergarten at Hale Elementary. The school is just a block from our house, so it was really fun to walk him down there as a family.

Overall, I think the parents did pretty well. I had a lump in my throat all morning, and it just kept getting bigger as the moment to leave him at his little table grew closer. He seemed fine with it all. Just waved and said goodbye after a couple of hugs. I got out of there quickly, because the tears were starting to well up.

The school had coffee and donuts for the kindergarten parents in the cafeteria. That was fun! We took Amy down there, and had a little "snack" before we walked back to our house. We got to meet a couple of other parents - one of which had a child in Matthew's class. We are really looking forward to all of the people we are going to meet in the area with the start of this new adventure!

There are a lot of kids in the neighborhood, but not a lot of kids on our street. This is going to be great!

We got to tour the after school program, called Minneapolis Kids, yesterday afternoon. From what we saw - Matthew is going to love it! We wanted him to go today for at least a little while. His school day is from 7:30 to 2:00. He starts so early, so we were worried that he would just be exhausted. We decided to get him at 4:00.

When Arik and I got to the room where they were playing, Matthew looked up and said, "I don't want to go home yet!"

That's a good sign - right?

We are so proud of him, and so glad that he had a great first day! Good job Matthew!


Those of you who keep up on the blog know that Matthew is a HUGE fan of costumes. Well, on Monday, my Mom got him a new Transformers costume from Target. He was having a fun day with both grandparents ... and yes ... you guessed it ... they both spoiled him rotten!

Now that he has two costumes, he thought it would be fun to rope Amy into his obsession. Check out our little mini-Transformer!

It was way too big for her, so I rolled up the legs and sleeves. She didn't like that very much. She preferred them long and loose.

Never a dull moment with these two!

Monday, August 30, 2010

3-D Fun at the IMAX!

Last Saturday, Arik got four free tickets to the new IMAX movie about the ocean. It was awesome. Our kids don't have much of an attention span, so we weren't sure how they would react to this new experience. They had never been to a movie like this before, and they had never worn 3-D glasses.

We contemplated sitting by the aisle so we could make a quick escape if we needed to ... but we didn't. We sat in the middle. Our seats were awesome. The movie was only about 45 minutes long, and the kids TOTALLY LOVED IT! You spend a lot of time underwater in this movie. I thought Amy might be a little scared. She thought it was great! At one point she even yelled out, "Mommy ... that dolphin is looking at me!" It was super funny. Thank goodness the movie was really loud.

After the movie, we strolled around the zoo for a few minutes, and then we headed off to Cecils for lunch with Papa and Tessa. The whole weekend was really fun!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Pre-School Graduation 2010

Today was Matthew's graduation from pre-school. Such a bittersweet transition for all of us. Tomorrow is officially his last day, but the little ceremony was today.

His teacher, Miss Andrea, led the kids through some of their daily activities so the parents could see how they spend their time. It was fun to see the kids fill in the calendar, say all of their "star words" and sing some of their favorite songs.

There were a lot of kids that had been part of Matthew's class for years that left the center earlier this summer. The daycare was kind enough to invite them back for the big day today. That was fun. It was nice to see some of those kids again. And I say "some" of them for a reason. There were a couple of boys that brought out the worst in each other when they were in the same class ... and it didn't take more than two minutes together to bring that behavior back today. Wow. Matthew turns into a different kid around these guys. I don't get it at all.

I was thinking that today would be really emotional, but it wasn't. I am sure the bad behavior had something to do with it. Overall, the whole thing was fun, but just so interesting to see the change in behavior in the presence of these boys. It has been so nice not to have them together this summer. We noticed the change in his behavior - both at daycare and at home - almost immediately.

In the pictures above, you will see Matthew's class, his teacher Miss Andrea and Mr. Jay. Jay is the director at the center, and has pretty much been like another parent to Matthew over the years. Mr. Jay is great, and he has always had a special place in his heart for Matthew. He told me the other day that the only things that have remained constant since the center opened four years ago are him, the cook, two of the infant teachers and Matthew. Awww ...

He is the last of the original crew. Amazing. Time is just moving too fast! We can't believe kindergarten is starting next week. Get ready for a major blog post with LOTS of pictures for that! We are so proud of you Matthew!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Happy Birthday Arik!

Today, Arik is officially 38 years young! It is tough to have a proper birthday celebration when your birthday falls on a Tuesday ... but I gave it my best shot.

I got up when the alarm went off this morning (small miracle) and drove over to Mel-O-Glaze to get some hot tasty donuts. On my way home, I also stopped at Caribou to get Arik a cup of his favorite coffee. Then it was back to the house to enjoy these tasty treats with the whole family. Both kids were up by the time I got back. I had decorated the dining room the night before, so it was only fitting that we sit in there and eat our donuts on "Toy Story 3" plates (Amy's choice, of course). The kids loved it! Each of them helped Arik open one present.

He got some new ear buds that he wanted for his iPod, and some awesome smelling cologne from Banana Republic!

Just when you thought the birthday fun was coming to an end ... there was more! I stopped at this great place in Edina called Queen of Cakes on my way back from a meeting this afternoon. They do a lot of custom cakes (think Ace of Cakes from the Food Network), but they also have these 6 inch cakes in a cooler that you can just purchase. I got a devils food cake with Baileys mousse frosting (and no ... I am not kidding).

It was fantastic!

I kept it in the fridge at work all day, and even kept the car running with the air conditioning on when I went to pick up the kids from daycare so it wouldn't melt! It was SO GOOD! I will definitely go back there again. What a gem of a place!

Enjoy the photos!

Happy Birthday Arik!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

T-Ball 2010

Well, the t-ball season is officially over for 2010. Check out our photos from the last night! We have a great picture of the cheering squad, one of Matthew and his team (well ... most of them), and a final shot of Matthew with his medal.

Thank you Southdale YMCA for six weeks of fun!

Matthew really improved on his batting skills this year. He hits the ball hard, and almost always gets it on the first swing. It was easy to see that he was getting into the game more this year. His field work could use some extra practice ... but that is what backyards are for!

Great job Matthew! We are so proud of you!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Happy 3rd Birthday Amy!

Arik and I are wishing Amy the happiest of 3rd birthdays today!

We aren't sure where the time went. Weren't we just looking down at her sweet little face in the hospital?

Wow! What a difference a few years makes! For those of you who don't have the pleasure of knowing Amy - she is quite the character. I often joke that her body isn't big enough to contain her personality - but it is so true! She has this zest for life that is really contagious. She can't be serious to save her soul, and she smiles so hard sometimes that it looks like her face is going to break!

She is funny, and smart, and expressive and willing to do just about ANYTHING.

We just love her so much, and couldn't be more proud to be her parents. Happy Birthday Noodles!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Amy's 3rd Birthday Party

The official birthday is tomorrow, but we went ahead and celebrated the princess turning three today! What a whirlwind of fun. We woke up this morning to new scooters waiting by the fireplace. That was a huge hit. We had a couple of other little gifts wrapped up for her, but nothing compared to the new wheels!

After we got the "scooting" out of our systems, we headed to the Shoreview YMCA for some outdoor pool fun. They have a great kiddie pool with fountains spraying everywhere, as well as a huge lap pool for us to play in. It was really hot and humid out today, so a dip in the pool is just what the doctor ordered!

After some lunch, both kids settled into their room for a little rest. While they did - it became birthday palooza in the living room! Arik blew up balloons, and got the table all situated. I started prepping the food, and got the cupcakes in the oven. You can't have a birthday without cupcakes, right?

I tried this awesome new frosting recipe, and it turned out really well. Check out the cupcake picture above. Who needs fancy decorating kits when a ziploc bag with the corner trimmed off does the same trick? Not me! Plop on a piece of edible fun, and you have a masterpiece waiting to be eaten!

We were joined by Rod and Diane, Aaron and my Mom for the festivities. As you can see from the photos, Amy made out like a bandit. She got some new clothes, a puzzle, a swimming pool, some Toy Story 3 action figures and a new baby. Uncle Aaron made her day with the "peek-a-boo" baby from Target! What a hit!

We are so lucky to have so much family living close to us. It really makes celebrations like this special when you can share it with the people you love.

Stay tuned for an official birthday post tomorrow! Happy almost birthday Amy!!