Monday, August 26, 2013

330 Miles

This past week has been a whirlwind for us Hansons. Last Saturday was the start of the craziness, when we and 11 of our most gullible friends joined to help us move out of our old house and into our new house, about 5 suburbs away. Since we had already moved most of the smaller stuff over the past 3 months, pretty much all that was left to move was big heavy stuff, like beds, dressers, and the world's heaviest TV stand. Actually, one of the worst things was my old wooden work bench, which I didn't think was going to be difficult at all. It took 4 of us burly men to get it out of the storage room and to the bottom of the stairs, but then we ran out of room in the stairwell, so it was just me and my poor brother-in-law lugging it up the stairs. We got it up and out to the moving truck, with no damage to the walls or the workbench, and with only minor hernias for us. Thanks Boyd, and be sure to send your doctor bills to my old address...

After we packed our new house to the brim with all of our stuff, we spent the next couple days alternating between cleaning the old house and sobbing uncontrollably at the thought of selling it. Then, on Tuesday morning, the Wife and I went and signed our names approximately a billion times at the closing. The new owners seemed like wonderful people, and I am sure they will take wonderful care of our beloved house. I did cringe a little bit when they told us they were planning on putting hardwood floors in a section of the house, but when we got out to the car and I started to complain, the Wife reminded me that we hated the carpet that they would be replacing. So, I can't really blame them for that, even though I wanted to.

Before our billion signatures were even dry, we packed up the three hooligans and a large portion of our earthly belongings, and headed down to the blisteringly hot Southern United States to partake in our niece's wedding. You may remember that another of our nieces got married earlier this summer. You can tell these two nieces apart by the fact that the most recent niece married a really tall young man, whereas the earlier niece married a really, really tall young man. Both couples seem to be doing splendidly in their relatively new married bliss.

None of our children were a part of this most recent wedding, so our wedding duties were somewhat limited. That allowed us more time for fun things, like sweating and trying not to pass out from heat exhaustion. Did I mention it was blisteringly hot?

The wedding was lovely, and we had a lot of fun hanging out with friends and relatives, but the most amazing part of the weekend occurred on the drive home yesterday. Now, you have to remember that we are the sometimes-proud parents of three small children, one of whom has just recently become potty trained (the Boy), and another of whom is liable to become psychotically unhinged and start screaming at the top of her lungs for no apparent reason (the Baby). We never know when a frantic plea to stop the car might make its way up to us from the backseats. Nothing like that happened yesterday, though. I am being totally honest with you when I say that I am 100% sure that a miracle occurred in our mini-van, because the five of us drove from Liberty, Missouri all the way to Albert Lea, Minnesota, without stopping once! Yes, all three of our children, aged 4 and under, happily sat still, and didn't need a potty break, for 330 miles of driving. If you aren't good with math, that means we drove through the entire state of Iowa, which is known to take weeks off of people's lives, without once stepping foot out of our van. It might be the most amazing miracle ever to occur in the history of man. Or not. Whatever you want to call it, it was pretty cool. It almost makes me look forward to the next time we have to drive through Iowa...nah, I'm just kidding!
I don't know how to create a pretty, sophisticated map using google or other software programs, so I drew this one myself. I think I made Iowa look pretty accurate, don't ya think?

Friday, August 16, 2013

The Secret to a Good Night's Sleep

I felt bad leaving the house yesterday morning, for several reasons. First of all, it was Thursday, and Thursdays always mean that I leave the Wife home alone with all three of our toddler delinquents, which is never a fun thing, in and of itself. But, several things made matters even worse, which is hard to believe, I know. First of all, the Boy got some kind of germ a couple of days earlier, which seems to have turned his entire brain into a giant mass of green goo that is bound and determined to make its way out of his head through his nose. He is constantly asking Mommy or Daddy to wipe his nose, even though his pockets are crammed full of tissues for him to use on himself. I think maybe he thinks that having his brain turn into green goo is a good reason for Mommy & Daddy to show him some sympathy. Like that will ever happen...

Secondly, the Baby seems like she might be getting a second tooth in. It's difficult to tell for sure because teething makes most babies sullen, angry and despondent, but that's how she has been since the day we brought her home from the hospital. She seems like she has been a little extra sullen, angry and despondent recently, though. Whatever the reason, she's been waking up and crying, multiple times per night for the last couple nights like she might be in some pain, which is a good way to make everyone else in the house a little more sullen, angry and despondent, too. When I walked out the door yesterday morning, the Baby was letting out an audible shriek that was rattling the cupboards. I would have turned around to see what the problem was, but I was already running late for, you know, whatever...

The third reason I felt bad for leaving the Wife was that she, again, did not get a good night's sleep that night. For whatever reason, she does not get a good night's sleep very often. Oftentimes, I am told that she didn't think she slept at all. I need to be told that because I always sleep right through her not sleeping. More often she sleeps for a little while, but then wakes up after a couple of hours and can't get back to sleep. She seems totally miserable many mornings, and I feel very bad for her. I wish that I could sleep for her, since I am a very good sleeper, oftentimes falling asleep within seconds of hitting my pillow. But, that's not an option, unfortunately.

I may not be able to sleep for her, but I am able to devise a good crackpot theory every once in a while, and I have come up with a doozy this time. See, I think the problem with the Wife's poor sleeping is that she sees too well. She's got really good eyes, never needing glasses or contacts. She sees things clearly, whether she's really sleepy or wide awake. I, on the other hand, am pretty much as blind as a bat when I take my glasses off. Everything is blurry. I can see OK without my glasses, if the thing I am looking at is approximately 1/2 an inch in front of my eyes. Anything farther away than that is completely fuzzy. And that, I believe, is why I have no problem going to sleep at night. My eyes can't see anything anyway, so they just turn themselves off as soon as I put my glasses on my nightstand. If I could see better, like the Wife can, my eyes would probably want to stay on and look at things all night. So, my theory is that if you want to have a good night's sleep, have really bad eyes, like me. I thank my mom and dad for my terrible eyesight every time I hear the Wife hasn't slept well. She had the unfortunate curse of being born with good eyes. Hopefully age will start to rectify her situation.
This is pretty much what the entire world looks like when I take my glasses off. No wonder my eyes have no problem going to sleep at night! Who are those people, any how...?

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Fate

Some of you probably have heard how I met the Wife, but few of you know what an amazing story of fate it really was. A billion seemingly unrelated things had to happen to make it work, and somehow they all did. It boggles my admittedly easily boggled mind to think about it. Let's take a stroll down memory lane, shall we?

First of all, I was not the first person in my family to meet the Wife. No, that would have been my mom. See, my mom was the Head Receptionist at a local assisted living facility. My sister worked there, too, as the Activities Director, but that's another story. Since my mom was the Head Receptionist, part of her duties was hiring the other receptionists, which there were quite a few, since the front desk had to be manned 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. My mom had interviewed the soon-to-be Wife for one of the receptionist jobs, but actually decided to hire somebody else, if you can believe that. Apparently it was quickly obvious to my mom that she had made a mistake in not hiring the soon-to-be Wife, so my mom actually went out and tracked her down at another place she was working. I guess we know where I get my super-creepy stalking skills from now, don't we? Mom must have been fairly persuasive, or maybe the soon-to-be Wife just wanted to get this crazy lady away from her, but she soon agreed to take the job, and she started her receptionist duties in short order. Just, think, if my mom wasn't such a stalker, the Wife and I would never have met!

This was still several months before I did meet her. Although I would occasionally stop out at the assisted living facility to see my mom or sister, it was never when the soon-to-be Wife was working. Eventually I started going there more regularly when my brother-in-law and I set up a couple of aquariums in the lobby for the residents to stare at. We did that for another several months before one fateful Saturday afternoon, when I just happened to be there, cleaning the aquariums, and the soon-to-be Wife came running in the front door, carrying a large bag, which I would later find out was full of products she sold at her other job. She was a few minutes late for her shift to start, so I just watched as this beautiful frenzied woman threw her bag down by the desk and then hurried off to wherever it was that employees had to go to punch the timeclock. I can remember it like it was yesterday. What a frenzied sight she was to behold!

Obviously, like any red-blooded human male would have done, I decided that I needed to make sure that I only went to work on the aquariums when this lovely lass was going to be working. Most of those days I spent more time bothering the soon-to-be Wife than I did cleaning the aquariums, a fact that my brother-in-law could surely attest to. Sorry Boyd!

Well, my bothering must not have been too annoying, as the soon-to-be Wife asked me if I wanted to play on her softball team that summer. I thought, "Whoa, this spicy vixen must really like me, if she wants me to play on her softball team!" A guy will tell himself anything, if it makes him think a hot girl likes him. Well, we did play softball together, but it was another several months before she agreed to go out on a date with me. Actually, we had several pseudo-dates before that, but she will claim that they weren't dates at all, we were just two friends hanging out together. It's the only thing she's ever been wrong about.
This moment might never have happened...

So, I kept bothering her at work and on the softball fields, and finally I wore her defenses down and she agreed to marry me. It's one of the most amazing miracles in the history of mankind! But, it very easily might not have happened. What if my mom wasn't such a stalker? What if my brother-in-law and I had never decided to set up the aquariums? What if I hadn't gone in to clean them on that fateful Saturday? What if the soon-to-be Wife had met me when I was a geeky teenager instead of a suave and debonair almost-30 year old? I don't even want to think about those options...

Monday, August 12, 2013

How to Deceive a 3-Year-Old

The Boy is three. That means that at any moment in time he might be cute, cuddly, funny, hyper, silly, adorable, sullen, cantankerous, ferocious, or diabolical, or anything in between. It's often difficult to know what side of him is about to show itself. Actually, it's always impossible to know which side of him is about to show itself. He can be goofy and giggling one minute, and some kind of weird switch can get flipped somewhere deep in his cerebral cortex, making the giggles turn into sobs, and the goofiness turn into crabbiness, without anyone knowing what just happened. I don't think he even knows what happened most of the time.

Often, when the Boy is in one of his moods, he just becomes really stubborn. Overall, I would say that the Wife and I are doing a pretty good job at teaching our kids how to help out around the house, but some times, they all can be a little stubborn about it. At this stage, the Boy is the worst of the bunch. They all probably get their stubbornness from one of their parents, but I won't say which one of us it is because I'd much rather blame somebody else.

He was in one of his stubborn moods this morning, but in the past 4 years I have acquired some mad parenting skills, as the kids say, and was able to get him to do what I wanted, without him even knowing. It was pretty impressive, if I do say so myself.

It happened like this: Today was his day to go to Grandma D's house, and I was to play the role of his chauffeur. We were getting ready to leave the house, but I needed to load up a pile of boxes and bags that I was going to bring in to work. The boxes, while not huge, were too heavy for a 3-year-old to carry. But the bags were just some normal-sized plastic bags like you would get on a shopping trip to Target or Cub Foods, filled with a few random pieces of toddler-sized clothing. Nothing too heavy. Easily carried by a strapping, young 3-year-old boy. So, I asked him to carry out one of the bags. This was a very reasonable thing to ask, I thought, since I was going to be nice enough to drive the Boy to his Grandma's house. You would think the least he could do was carry a couple of small bags of clothing out to the car for me. Right?

Wrong! You would have thought I had asked him to load up all the tea in China, to paraphrase my Grandpa. He picked up one of the bags, and then stood there, yelling "No Daddy, it's too HEAVY!!!!!" over and over. The thing is, he didn't drop the bag, he kept holding it, and with only one hand. So it was obvious to a trained observer that it, in fact, was not too heavy. He, apparently, just didn't want to carry it out to the car for me. He was being a stinker, and I wasn't happy about it. Nor was I going to let him get away with it.

I coaxed him out of the house with the bag, even though he kept yelling "It's too HEAVY!!!!" I was carrying two of the boxes, so I used that to my advantage. I told him, "I can't take your bag right now, Bubs, my arms are full. I'll take it when I put these boxes down." I knew that if I kept interacting with him, he probably would slowly follow me out to the car. He did, even though he kept complaining about how heavy the bag was. Finally, while standing next to the car, I said, "OK, I'll take your bag now." So, he walked over to the car and gave it to me. The yelling ended. I got him to do what I wanted. And he giddily climbed up into the car so I could drive him to his Grandma's house. I don't think he ever figured out what happened. I gotta admit it feels kind of good to outsmart my 3-year-old. I don't think I'll be able to for much longer...

Monday, August 5, 2013

"I Will Make You A Fisher of Toddlers"

I have had good intentions all summer, but have not followed through with them in a timely fashion. My intentions came about when my in-laws moved into their new house, and we moved into their old house, a mile and a half away from them. See, their new house is situated right on the shores of a lovely, medium-sized, picturesque, metro-area lake. And, although this lake doesn't have much of a reputation as being filled with fish, my intent was to spend many a night there this summer with my two oldest hooligans, the Girl and the Boy, teaching them the ins and outs of fishing.We could stroll over to Grandma & Grandpa's house after dinner, spend an hour or so hauling in bucketloads of fish (I'm a really good teacher) and the aforementioned hooligans would be back home in time to wash all the fish slime off and slide into bed.

That was my intention, at least. In reality, I spent most of the summer letting my mind and time wander towards other things, like selling our house, playing softball, and who-knows-what-else. We could have gone over and fished as soon as we moved into our new house, way back in, um, hmmmm, when did we move again? The whole year is kind of a blur...Or we could have gone over and fished back in late June/early July, when all the water in front of the in-laws' shoreline was filled with sunfish that were hovering around, protecting their nests in the shallow water. It would have been easy pickings, and the kids would have had a hoot. But, we never got over there. Daddy was too busy, or at least he thought he was.

Finally, this past Saturday night, which, if you aren't familiar with our calendar here in the Central Time Zone, was August 2nd, we made it down to the lake and fished for about a half hour or so. It was a delightful time, even though there didn't seem to be a single fish swimming in the thick weeds that now seemed to inhabit the entire lake. Nobody seemed to care. In fact, the Girl seemed downright giddy at the prospect of reeling in and seeing the long weeds stuck to her hook. "Can I reel in and see if I got any weeds, Daddy?!", she asked several times. Maybe my intentions didn't go as awry as I thought. And, I guess learning that you don't always catch fish is one of the most important things you can learn about fishing. I don't plan on teaching them that lesson ever again.
I know it's hard to tell, but this is actually a photo of the in-laws' lake. Now that's a lot of weeds!

Friday, August 2, 2013

Mr. Poopypants, I Presume?

I need to be honest with you, right off the bat. The Wife and I really have no idea how to potty train our kids. To us, potty training seems like a crazy mystical bunch of hoodoo, and we don't have any idea how it works, or what we can do to make it work. With the Girl, she just magically decided to be potty trained one day, and to this day, we don't know if we actually had anything to do with that or not.

A couple of weeks ago we thought that the Boy had magically decided to be potty trained, too, but after a week the magic quickly turned sour as he stopped being potty trained. It probably is more accurate to say that he is still half potty trained, since he does one of his businesses in the potty, but not the other business. I will let you figure out which one he does and which one he doesn't.

I used this photo in an earlier blog post, but it works pretty well here, too. I just wish the Boy was as good at going on the potty as this bear is...
What really gets our goat is that he does do that second (there's a hint there) business in the potty every once in a while. So we get all excited and let him wear his underwear, but then he will go and do that business in his pants again. It's causing a large bit of consternation amongst his parents. We just want the mystical hoodoo to happen once and for all. Anybody got any ideas?

Speaking of not being potty trained, here is the transcript of an actual conversation I had with my two oldest children, the Girl and the Boy, while driving around town recently. I thought it was quite apropos:

The Girl (to the Boy): What is your name?

The Boy: My name is Ferdinand Reginald Hanson (he said his actual name, but I changed it here on the blog, you know, to protect the innocent).

Girl: Well then why do we call you Bubba?

Boy: Because that's my name!! (His name is not really Bubba, but everybody calls him that.)

Girl: I think your name is really Ferdinand Reginald Poopy!

Daddy: What?!?!

Boy: No, it's Ferdinand Reginald Poopypants!

With that, the entire car exploded in laughter, because, obviously, any use of the word poopy is hilarious, both to small children and daddies. It was a fun time. No wonder he's having such a hard time getting potty trained...