Sleeping Arrangements

I have been watching my children sleep a little more often in the last week and I have noticed a few personality quirks that follow each of them into dreamland.

Sam appears to have methodically arranged his animals, books, pillows, blankets and body into the optimum sleeping position before succumbing to sleep because he generally looks like he was posed by a movie director as “sleeping kid.” Every once in a while I will find him all tangled up in his blankets but more often than not, he is lying perfectly still with undisturbed blankets, surrounded by books.

This is very typical of Sam’s personality. He needs to have things organized and neat and his two favorite activities are arranging things and reading. He helped me rearrange our snack area yesterday in anticipation of having more kids over after school this year and was so happy to be organizing. I mentioned that I might run to the store today to get a few things to help us get better organized for school and he was very mad that I wouldn’t wait until after school to go. I promised I would wait until he got home to actually complete the organizational system.

Drew looks like he was in the middle of a wrestling match when he suddenly just fell asleep. His arms and legs are all crazy and his gajillion blankets are twisted, turned, and puddled all around him. There might be a shirt or some underwear tucked into a blanket somewhere, probably a book or two scattered around, and most certainly one butt cheek hanging out of his undies. He is my sleepiest child, almost always the first one asleep, but if you looked in on him, you would assume he had literally fought off sleep in a Summer Slam type way.

Again, this is so typical of his awake personality. His body is always falling, flailing and skittering around and if he is going to do something, he is going to do it full speed ahead. He is always twisting himself into strange positions and does not sit still ever. Lately he has been trying to be cool while playing Wii, attempting to sit and hold the remote nonchalantly like Sam does but he is simply incapable. Within minutes, he is on his feet, kicking and wildly flapping his arms. I love it.

Bridget appears to start arranging her blankets and animals before she falls asleep, then gives up and nestles them all in as close to her as possible, then starts throwing them back out to the edges of her bed. I know she wants to snuggle her “babies” and keep her blankets all snug around her but then she falls asleep and her restless legs start windmilling and pretty soon, everything is scattered all over and she can’t find her froggie, and her baby puppy is lost and everything is very traumatic. She is usually sweaty and loves to hide her face under her lovey while sleeping, which is pretty cute.

Once more, so typical of her personality: she wants everything a certain way but has some trouble accomplishing the arrangements. In her perfect world, Sam and Drew would tuck her in, placing each animal, blanket and book as she directs then sit there all night fixing them should she happen to kick something out of place.  She does not enjoy sitting still either and has the attention span of a ….squirrel!

I would love to tell you that I sit and watch them sleep but in reality, I just sneak in and quickly kiss them before tiptoeing out and praying I haven’t woken them up. And in the boys’ room I’m usually plugging my nose because, let me tell you something, little boys stink.



I find myself crying at the oddest times and I don’t cry…ever. I cried in the middle of Walmart today – heaving sobs for a second or two before I could get a deep breath and pull myself together. Bridget kept asking, “Mommy, why is your face crying?” as we wandered a bit aimlessly. I couldn’t explain that the thought of buying a pack of Gatorade bottles made me cry because I assume that a 9-year-old boy loved Gatorade and that I just couldn’t bring myself to take any to his family on the off-chance that he had loved Gatorade and it would make them any sadder.

I can’t explain that my heart is aching as I walk the kids to school because I know there is a 4th grader who is missing his buddy so much and who is going to have a lonelier and less fun walk to and from school every day.

My stomach hurts when I think about the close friends who want to remember the amazing and mundane, hilarious and boring times they shared with their friend but are having trouble forgetting that they had to bear witness to the last minutes of his short life.

My heart literally breaks when I think about his parents, sister and brother who will have to figure out how to be a family with a member in absentia. They will come to grips with the fact that it is Ok to laugh, have a family meal, go on vacation or on a bike ride. I don’t know where they will find the strength but I know that they will.

My eyes fill with tears when I can’t stop myself from starting to picture my life without one of my children. Perhaps I should let myself imagine it, try to put myself in my friend’s shoes but I simply can’t bear it, I have to remind myself that they are fine and waiting for me to tuck them in.

I hope that prayers and love will give them all strength.




For Bodee

Yet another reminder of how precious life is, how blessed I am to have happy, healthy children, and the fine line we walk every day between being content and crushed.

A friend of ours’ 9 year old son was killed yesterday and I am at a complete loss. I don’t know what to say to his parents, his brother and sister, his close friends, or even my own children.  I don’t know how you keep putting one foot in front of the other in the face of this tragedy but I know that this amazing family will do just that.

When I hear of an accident that severely injures or kills a child, my first reaction is, “My kids are never leaving the house again and will be tied to me at all times.”  I want to keep them safe from every possible danger, heartache, and potential accident. But I know I can’t and shouldn’t strive to. If my children are only granted 9 years on this earth, I want those years to be filled with adventure and laughter. I want them to experience as much as they can each day: from board games to soccer to learning about the birds and the bees (I know the discussion is coming soon and I’m trying to prepare myself).

I want to apply the same joie de vivre to my personal life, I want to remember what it felt like to be impulsive and adventurous, remember what I did before I had kids and was still fun. I want my kids to see me having fun and being silly. I want to live my priorities, not just talk about them. My kids will know that they are the most important things to me. My husband will know that I choose him every day. My friends will know how invaluable they are to me because I will make the time to show them how much I love them. My parents and sisters won’t be last on my list nor will any nieces and nephews. And if you haven’t made the list yet, you might just be left off…

I’m obsessing over this incomprehensible loss of a young life but hope to make it an obsession that enriches my own and others’ lives. I don’t know how to help his family but I hope the answer will come. For now, the best I can do is hug my own family and be thankful for every minute we have together.  I’m learning what it means to pray and I’m not praying for the safety and well-being of my children but for healing for the family and close friends of a young boy who inspired me in life and who is doing so again with his death.

Hug your kids, your parents, your friends even if it makes you uncomfortable. Say what you need to say now, don’t wait. Love and be kind. Make it a good day.

My Super Power

A number of people have told me that they can hear my voice when they read my blog, which is a fantastic compliment. I love writing because it gives me an opportunity to revise what I would normally say out loud, make it sound better, be less insulting or avoid sounding stupid. It allows me to say what I wish I would have said. If I could choose one super power, it would be the power to immediately erase my previous sentence from all listeners’ brains and replace it with a new, better sentence. Think about it, wouldn’t that be amazing?

You could take back the horrible answer you just gave during a job interview. You could stop sounding ignorant when someone mentions a topic about which you know nothing but at first you try to pretend you do, then realize by the looks you are getting that you just sounded like an idiot, and have to backtrack and admit that you have no knowledge of the subject. Instead, you could erase your first blunder and replace it either with an acknowledgement of your ignorance or a better lie.

You could replace the inane or maybe even stutteringly foolish sympathy you uttered to a grieving widow or parent with a perfectly worded phrase that would offer comfort and convey your own grief and understanding. You could avoid banality during a receiving line at a graduation or wedding reception and replace the “Congratulations, you look beautiful!” with something a little more meaningful. Perhaps something like, “Congratulations, your dress is magnificent and the color scheme is amazing.” Or maybe, “I know you will do great things as you head out on your own, be brave and true to yourself.”

Yes I realize that there are more spectacular super powers to choose; I would love to have keep-it-clean-power, the power to transport myself long distances in seconds, and stay-fit-without-changing-my-eating-habits-power but the one that would maybe make me the happiest is this one, the power to always say the right thing at the right time.

Imagine your child asking a super awkward question in the car and you stumble through an answer that doesn’t even make any sense, let alone help your child understand the mysteries of the world. With this magical power, you could erase your nonsensical answer from their little brains and replace it with a well-researched and age-appropriate answer. That would be amazing.

As an addendum to this power, I would like to be able to go back in time and erase all of the ridiculous things I have said over the years. I am the type of person who obsesses over the stupid comments, answers, and statements I have made, even back to my teenage years. If I could go back and change them to something more appropriate and intelligent, would I? Hell yes! I would try not to change significant events but I would definitely try to improve the voice I have put out to the world.

It’s the joy of writing, in truth, the ability to revise and rephrase as often as necessary until you get it right. Does that make me a super hero?

What would your super power be?


P.S. I am avoiding writing about 2 important events that occurred this week until I am ready to write about them a little less emotionally…. let me just say,  I love my nieces and nephews!

Our State Fair

My eldest Hansen niece sang at the State Fair last Friday so of course we made plans to be there to cheer her on. By Tuesday, however, Blair realized he wouldn’t be able to go with us so I begged and pleaded with my parents until they agreed to go with us, thank goodness. I would have gone bat crazy trying to keep track of and have fun with the 3 kids by myself among all of those people. We had a great time with my aunts, my sister and her husband, and a brief visit with my nephew.  The kids got to jump on a trampoline with bungee cords, take the ski lift over the Fair twice (Sam’s favorite), have lots of Grandpa –purchased soda, ride a camel (boys) and a pony (Bridget), but the real highlights of the day were the strangers…..oh the strangers….

You always see lots of cute cowboy boots at the Fair, lots of adorable outfits with shorts or summer dresses and cowboy boots on women of all ages. The problem is that some women don’t have cowboy boots but want to fit in so they attempt to persuade themselves that their regular brown boots are, in fact, cowboy boots. The big heels and zippers, buckles and lack of real leather give them away every time and leave them looking really foolish.

Hopefully the women wearing cowboy boots at the Fair are accustomed to wearing boots for long periods of time because there is obviously a lot of walking involved with attending the Fair.  You should not ever wear high heeled pumps, large platform sandals, or non-cowboy boots with giant heels to a State Fair. Even the politicians we saw were wearing somewhat sensible shoes. The only possible exception for this rule is if you are arriving at the Fair shortly before attending a concert and will not be wandering throughout the Fair and have no chance of stepping in animal manure. My very favorite Fair attendees dress themselves so inappropriately as to be laughable. Now, I am all for balancing cute with comfort but the key is balance. The best inappropriate outfit I witnessed this year was on a beautiful woman who looked so uncomfortable and awkward that I almost stopped and asked if she needed help. She was wearing a tight flowered half shirt, very tight jeans, and super tall platform sandals that exactly matched the fabric of her shirt….maybe they were actually covered in the bottom half of her shirt. She was teetering along, holding on to her boyfriend for dear life while he strutted with a proud and arrogant look on his face, they were fantastic!

A couple more thoughts on footwear at the Fair: do not completely forsake comfort for cute but do not go the complete other way either. I spoke to a very pregnant woman wearing  $1 Old Navy flip flops who looked like she wanted to cry when I mentioned her lack of comfortable shoes. On the other hand, there is no need to wear hiking boots either. Find some comfortable and stylish sandals, go ahead and wear tennis shoes if you are not wearing a little dress, but do not wear plastic flip flops with zero support or giant ugly shoes….remember that you are not invisible at the Fair! One more thing: never black socks. Never black socks. Never black socks.

Beyond attempting to keep your tootsies comfortable, you have to decide how you will carry your money, sunscreen, sunglasses, and any other necessities while maneuvering through the crowds at the Fair. Obviously, fanny packs should be outlawed, handiness be damned, but what are the alternatives? Of course, choosing an outfit with pockets is key but for any bulkier items such as cameras or umbrellas, you will need additional storage. Lots of fairgoers, myself included, used drawstring backpacks that seemed to work pretty well. You should remember, however, that they are called backpacks for a reason; they are not intended to be front packs and should never be worn in that manner. If I see you attempting to seat your bottom on the ski lift with your backpack on your front, I will giggle at you…again.

As for headgear, just use some common sense. If you are comfortable in a cowboy hat, by all means wear one. If you have never worn a cowboy hat and are very obviously not a cowboy type person, please refrain. Baseball caps are a great way to keep the sun off of your face but please be smart enough to avoid a black leather baseball cap while walking and standing in the sun all day. Yep, I’m talking to you Ms. Politician Handler. If you must wear a bucket hat…well…I’ll just leave it at that…..

Many people get temporary tattoos at the Fair, a great way to demonstrate your support for dairy farmers, colleges, or butterflies and pigs. You should not, however, wait in a long-ish line for a Hawkeye tattoo, get to the front, then inform the very nice lady applying them that you don’t like the Hawks and don’t want a tattoo, Sam and Drew.

Most people at the Fair are considerate and friendly but of course you will run across some very rude people….or practically be run over by very rude people. When someone sees you trying to catch up with your child and doesn’t let you through, you should be excused for punching them in the gut. Additionally, if an exceptionally cute little girl in a flowing ribbon tiara is wildly pushing a stroller down the center of a street and runs the stroller right in to the back of your leg, the proper response is to compliment her on her tiara, mention the fact that she is adorable and fast, and offer her a track scholarship to the school of her choice. You should not glare at her and her huffing parent or grandparent as they try to keep up with the careening child and stroller.

If you see a tiny girl dragging a very tall man to the ultra tall slide and do not smile, even a little bit, you are a terrible person without a heart. If you can watch said girl and tall man sit on a sack with their hands in the air, giant grins on their faces, and scoot down the slide without laughing, you are a person who chooses to live without joy.

You might also be a terrible person if you thoroughly enjoy watching your sister get almost physically sick while waiting for her husband, niece, and nephews to emerge from the snake house. I, however, am not a terrible person because I was only laughing at her discomfort to help me forget about my own terror at the thought of a giant snake eating my children.

All in all, the State Fair is a fantastic way to spend a day as long as you are willing to push your way through crowds, wait in long lines, and eat delicious food on a stick.

What are your favorite State Fair memories or attractions?

Things I Truly Hate

I hope you all aren’t too tired of lists because I appear to have them on the brain.

Children who feel entitled. So many children today feel entitled to good grades, special treatment on sports teams, and any material object they desire. The best recent example of this occurred in, of all places, Vacation Bible school. One particular child was mainly concerned with what was in it for him: he wanted extra stickers at craft time that he would put in this pocket for later; he wanted 2 more cookies before he had finished the snacks he was given; and cheated at literally every single outdoors game.  To say that he irritated me would be a gross understatement. This child felt entitled to more than every other child and was just plain insolent when scolded for not obeying the rules.  I tried to have a loving, Christian heart but I will freely admit that I failed miserably. It was the look on his face that did me in; if he had been asking for extra food because he wasn’t getting enough at home or sneaking extra stickers because he really loved them I might have been able to understand but this kid wanted more for the sheer sake of having more than the other children. Annoying.  If my children ever acted like that I would have to consider beating them.

People who consistently put their own desires over those of the children in their lives.  Don’t get me wrong, I am certainly not saying that I am completely selfless. In fact, Sam called me out the other day because I told him we were out of Co-jack cheese as I put two slices on my cheeseburger…oops.  I think that every parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle, and any person who is special in a child’s life has the right to put themselves first sometimes and might even have an obligation to teach children that it is healthy to take care of yourself. I get annoyed when the child’s needs are never first or when the adult is actually harming the child in order to pursue their own desires. For instance, every adult that a child encounters becomes an example of how to treat people so when a parent treats a spouse, parent, or even a restaurant employee disrespectfully, the child learns that it is ok to treat people that way.  It all goes back to entitlement, I guess.

Neighbors who obsess over their lawn, although I will exclude one particular neighbor from hatred. I was mowing my prairie land grasses today when I noticed my elderly neighbor in his backyard with a rake. He was meticulously raking some nonexistent grass cuttings and who knows what else for almost 45 minutes. He is currently mowing, which means he will be out raking again later and probably again tomorrow. I guarantee you that he will mow again this weekend, whether or not we get more rain. It is craziness and it makes me simultaneously feel bad about myself for not being a more conscientious homeowner and proud that I have better things to do.

People who know everything and can do everything and have been everywhere and are generally better than everyone else.  Not that I know any people who are like this…because I don’t….

Funerals. Blair is a pall bearer in a funeral this week and I am dreading going to the visitation and the funeral. I never know what to say and typically end up inserting my entire foot into my mouth or end up avoiding the bereft like a reverse stalker. I keep them in my line of sight and casually walk away as they approach. It is not adult behavior but I am so darn uncomfortable!  I should also not engage in general conversation with people who have recently lost a loved one because I always make the situation worse. Even when I practice and practice before seeing them, I always say the very worst possible thing.

I realize I sound like a big, self-righteous whiner but please believe me that I know I’m not perfect. I do, however, always try to follow my Grandma Shirley’s advice, “There is never a reason for rudeness.” If everyone followed this principle, I would have very few things to truly hate and could stop telling my poor husband how much I hate people.

What do you hate?

This Is My Wish

I wish that when you cleaned something, it stayed clean. This whole wiping down counters and tables, mopping the floor, and cleaning up pee around the toilet business has gotten old.

I wish that my children could both learn to be responsible at a young age and still want to snuggle with me until they are in college.

I wish for my nieces and nephews to always think I’m sorta cool and choose to hang out with me.

I wish I could forget all of the negative things that peoples say and only remember the positive. As it is probably too late to change my own mindset, I wish this power for my children.

I wish that I could record every hilarious thing that comes hurtling out of children’s mouths. Every preschool and kindergarten teacher in the world should have a best-selling book of quotes.

I wish I had a money tree.

I wish I knew what I wanted to be when I grow up.

I wish that cell phones hadn’t become a necessity…and that my 3-year-old hadn’t started carrying her pink one around in her pocket.

I wish I received more hand-written letters, I miss them.

I wish I had a little genie that sat on my shoulder and reminded me to call that coach, buy the birthday present, send the card, and move the clothes from the washing machine to the dryer.

I wish that school was year-round.

I also wish that I could home school my children….and my nieces and nephews….most days.

I wish we could take the kids on a family vacation and that my husband could come along with us.

I wish people weren’t stupid or rude.

I wish the war was over and that no one I love would be deployed.

I wish that the young people in Great Britain weren’t giving their generation a bad name. Sidenote, I also wish I had a British accent.

I wish you all could hear my husband’s Irish accent, which coincidentally is also his British, Australian, German, Norwegian, Spanish, and Deep South accent.

I wish I would make a better effort to get together with my friends, those close to me and farther away.

I wish I could push a button that would activate a bubble around my house that would shield us from dust and dirt, food crumbs, hay droppings, and pee on the floor…oh, also tornadoes, lightening, kidnappers, and thieves.

I wish that the people who are in charge of activities for children could use common sense when organizing events or schedules and also remember that the whole thing is supposed to be fun. There is no reason to hand out more than 1 piece of paper to a parent of a first grader who wants to play soccer. You need to see a copy of a birth certificate, huh? How many kids do you know who would choose to play with “little kids” just so they could dominate a recreational soccer game?

I wish March Madness happened in March and October and that the NFL season was 9 months long. I also wish for the Cowboys to be good this year.

I wish that the genie who is going to start keeping my house clean would also finish our incomplete, or not-quite-started-yet, projects around the house. Some of these projects were started 9 years ago….we are awesome.

I wish that cheese didn’t make me fat.

I wish all children were respectful of adults and did not feel entitled (this is a future blog post ruminating in my head).

I wish that summer, winter, and spring each lasted about 6 weeks and the rest of the year was perennial autumn.

What do you wish for?