Friday, December 27, 2013

Christmas card anxiety & the rest of December

Each year we send out a Christmas card and each year I agonize over our Christmas card. There is a pretty specific list I have in my head of what our Christmas card should include. Usually I'm pretty happy with how they turn out - some years I'm happier than others. This year I'm ecstatic! Back on the last sunny day in October when the leaves were still on the trees we had family portraits taken. It's been about a decade since our last formal family portrait. I make sure we have many family pictures during the year but I don't make the time to schedule a portrait session. Yay for us this year! We had a photographer come to our house and take pictures in our backyard. They turned out great! I decided that since we had a great family picture we needed a great Christmas card - no pressure, right? I worked up 3 different cards and had Brian and the girls vote on which one we'd order. We decided on the card that made me the most anxious because of it's size. I had a hard time sleeping at night while waiting for the box to come in the mail. Anyway I'm pleased with the end result and will now start worrying about next year's card (kidding, I won't start worrying until Thanksgiving).


We've had some fun activities during the rest of December. Once the open house was over I felt much more relaxed and ready to enjoy the month.
Brian loves to grow blue potatoes and the girls love to eat them. They are such a pretty lilac color when baked and mashed. It's a nice colorful addition to any meal.

 I adore freshly fallen snow. So sparkly and beautiful.
My brother-in-law's mother invites our entire family to enjoy their family's Christmas bowling night in Morgan each year. It's super nice of her to do and fun for us to go to.

The Hansen family Christmas party is an event I look forward to each year. I love my family!

 We ran up to Snowbird for a few runs Christmas Eve. The first 15 minutes off the tram was the worst skiing experience I have ever had. In the middle of a supremely windy white out with tons of hard bits of snow stinging and pelting our faces Julia asked, "Why are we doing this?" Had we known it was like that of course we would not have been doing that. Once we got below the ridgeline the wind died down, the pelting snow stopped and the sun came out for a gorgeous rest of the day. We were happy to meet up with our friends for a couple runs and fun.

Brian had to work on Christmas so we spent Christmas Eve with some of his family. Yay!

 Christmas morning before Brian left for work. Happy girls, happy parents.
December is not quite over and luckily for us, there is more fun to be had!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Open House Preview

Today is the day of my studio open house. Yay! It's always so fun for me to have people in my studio. 
Here's a little preview of what you will see.


The open house is from 2:00-4:00pm. If you have a minute to stop by I would love to see you!
501 Naomi Dr. Sandy, Ut - behind the garage

Friday, November 29, 2013

Happy Post Thanksgiving

So I'm going to make this quick. First off please note the record number of posts I've done this month - 4. That is what happens when you set goals, even silly ones like the number of blog posts you will do in a month.
Thanksgiving was great! The Human race went well. The girls were so very excited about our party pants! They were fun to watch run and goof around. 

 All of the Hansen family human racers - what a fabulous group!

Desserts and appetizers went well. As did dinner.
 Pumpkin cheesecake with a gingersnap pecan crust
 Chocolate peanut butter cheesecake
 The pie baker & Sydney the photo bomber

Brian, the girls and I ended the day by watching a movie together. Today we get to go visit Brian's mom. I'm happy happy that so much of our family lives close enough to visit. Wish us well on our drive - Sydney will be driving us. Yikes! 

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

We're in for some fun tomorrow! The days starts off bright and early with the Utah Human Race. We are really in for a treat this year. Thanks to some extreme enthusiasm from the girls, we're racing as the Hyer Party Pants. I'm just going to let you imagine what that means. The rest of my family (Mom, sibs, etc.) that are participating will be super excited to be seen with us.

After our brisk morning run/walk we are going to boil a couple of big pots of potatoes. Not just any potatoes mind you. Home grown & cared for by Brian potatoes. For the sake of pleasant looking potatoes we are not going to include the blue potatoes in the mash. While those boil I'll be finishing up my desserts. I made 2 cheesecakes a little bit ago and they were yummy! One was pumpkin with a gingersnap & pecan crust. The other was chocolate & peanut butter. I couldn't decide which one would be best for Thanksgiving so I made both. We'll be taking some to Brian's mom on Friday so it's okay that I made two. Just as a little side note here - I debated being like other bloggers and taking pictures of my cheesecakes while I was preparing them and then taking more pictures of the finished product but I couldn't do it. That takes way too much time. Trust me, they looked lovely and tasted even better. My cheesecakes for tomorrow aren't going to look quite as lovely because I decided to cook them in 9x13 pans and cut them into small pieces to serve. We are going to have tons of pie and since cheesecake is so rich that eating one whole piece limits the rest of your eating options I wanted to be able to have enough room in my stomach for lots of choices. Maybe I'll take a picture of the whole dessert table at my mom's. Then you can see all the deliciousness.

When the potatoes are mashed and the desserts are ready off we'll go to my mom's for the big feast. Appetizers and dessert are first and a few hours later we'll have dinner. This year all my sibs (except for Brad) are at my mom's. It will be nice to hang out with them for the day. Know that when I say sibs I mean my siblings, their spouses, kids, etc. It will be a full house. That is truly what I'm most grateful for on Thanksgiving. I love having a great big crazy family. There is always something going on with them - some of it good, some of it not so good. I really do just love to be with them. I'm always hopeful that the not so good parts will be resolved well and that the good parts will be even better. You never know what tomorrow brings & I'm thankful for the blessings of family.

Sydney, Gretchen and Julia spent a little time with a woman in our ward today and made some pies. They made apple, strawberry and raspberry. Aren't we lucky and didn't they do a great job?

Also, mark your calendars. I'm going to have my annual studio open house Saturday Dec. 14 from 2:00-4:00pm. Currently I have a kiln load of pottery waiting for me to take it out of the kiln, glaze it and fire it again. I'm excited to see how this batch of lovelies turns out!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

The End of Mountain Bike Season

This past weekend was spent in Moab. What an excellent way to end the mountain biking season! Samantha & Sydney were able to compete in their last race & they were able to wear just their jerseys and shorts. No other layers because it was warm enough not to be totally covered in fabrics! That was a quite a treat. We left Friday morning as soon as Sam got home from Physics. She didn't want to miss class, it's hard to keep up if you don't go. Syd had no problem missing her classes. Anyway we were on the road at 10:00 am with 6 mountain bikes, luggage, race gear, bike gear, snacks and entertainment. 

A few years ago we started listening to audiobooks on road trips. We've pretty much stuck with 2 authors. Rick Riordon and Alexander McCall Smith. I think we've listened to 13 books together. We can only listen to a book if all 6 of us are in the car. Someone feels bad if they get left out. Brian used to be a big reader, then he went to medical school and the reading bug left him. I do not see him read a book very often so it's fun that he enjoys these audiobooks too. We've listened to the whole Percy Jackson series, 2 of the Kane Chronicles and 3 of the Heroes of Olympus series. (Julia has tested on her Greece and Egypt mythology tests at school.) We've also loved "The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency" series. This trip we listened to the 4th book, "The Kalahari Typing School for Men". The girls are totally content to play their ds's, draw, make bracelets, do whatever and no one gets out of patience with anyone else on the drive. The narrator on these books is wonderful. My sister Pam tried to get me to listen to these years ago but I couldn't do it. It was too hard for me to pay attention to the book and do anything else (including driving) at the same time. I can do it now. I think I might not be as tired as I was when the girls were younger.

Anyway back to Moab. We arrived at the race course around 2:00 pm and did a pre-ride so Sam & Syd could get a feel for the course. It was awesome! So fun. We had a little trouble with 2 of our bikes but figured we could get that worked out on Saturday with the help of a fantastic bike guy we know. After the ride we checked in to our hotel. We stayed in a very spacious family suite at the Best Western Canyonlands Inn. I booked it online and had no idea that it would be as big as it was. That made it very nice for us.  We met a lot of the team for dinner and bowling that night.

Saturday we were at the race by 8:30 am. Fabulous Ian (Brian's sister's son who runs Sunrise Cyclery in Logan) came down to support the Cache Valley team. He tuned up our 2 troubled bikes in no time and made it possible for us to all go for a ride after the race. Sam & Syd rode the course to warm up and were racing by 10:05 & 10:10. The course was about 7 miles and they had to do 2 laps. They rode as hard as the could and made us proud. We watched the boys race and then it was time for a little family ride. By then it was 3:30-4:00. We didn't ride as far as we thought we would, Sam & Syd were happy about that; they were exhausted. No one took a phone or camera on this ride so we have no group photos in Moab. Just one from our room.

This was a hard spot on the course. A lot of the ride was single track so there was no passing. Sam is at the top of a small hill, turning a corner between 2 rocks over an uneven rock surface.

 Here is Sydney heading for the finish. The riders picked up a lot of speed coming going in to the finish.

All 6 of us in the sitting/kitchen area of our family suite.

After riding Saturday we went to dinner and tried to go to the awards ceremony but it was standing room only and not one of us wanted to stand for another 2 hours so we went back to our room and went to bed early. That really made the super tired girls happy. We got up early (6:00am) Sunday morning so we could leave in time to get to Layton by 1:00 for a nephew's mission farewell.

Our family has never mountain biked in Moab before and now I feel that we have missed out. The trails were so fun and diverse. I hope we're able to get back there again next year!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

October wrap up

I didn't make my goal of 2 posts per month for October so I'll try to make up for it in November. How lame is that, my goal is 2 and I did 1? Well, I'll do my best to not let that discourage me. Only kidding, I'm not discouraged at all. My days are really starting to settle into a routine. I do love a good routine. I never have one week that works just like the other weeks because Brian's schedule throws that off. When he is home my days are a little different than when he is at work. I certainly can't just sit around all day eating bonbons when he is here. He might get the impression that I'm a bit lazy and need some more work to do. Again, only kidding. I think he's glad if I sit around all day because then he can do the same thing and not have me bugging him about it.

The last two weeks of October were spent much like the first two. Julia finished up her soccer season.

 My mom was nice enough to take Julia and Gretchen to her game and then take these cute pictures of them. That morning Brian spent at work, Sam took the ACT and I took Sydney to her mountain bike race at Soldier Hollow.
Sam was bummed to miss a race but that's how is goes. She is focused on college - testing, applying, trying to decide what she wants to do with her life. There will be one more race this month and then mountain biking will be finished for the season. My mountain biking season ended as soon as I could see my breath. I am a fair weather rider for sure.

Our halloween was a little quiet. Brian was at work, Sam went to a party, Syd went to a party, Gretchen & Julia did some treat or treating before going with me to my mom's for a short visit. We were happy to see the headless horseman riding through the neighborhood. Such a treat!

Just a few words about Sydney's outfit. I have a hard time calling it a costume since she is wearing my shirt and Brian's pants & socks. She wanted to dress in 80's clothing so we found some original 80's clothing and she wore that. My high school friends made that shirt for me before I went to college. I slept in that shirt for a long time. It's been washed a lot and the fabric paint is fading but my smile is still bright when I look at it and think about those girls.

One important thing that happened in October. I spent a few days in the studio AND I took a few pictures of me in there! That has never happened before & most likely won't happen again. Using a self timer when your hands are covered in wet clay is not really a great idea if you want your camera to stay in a good condition. So enjoy these one time only shots.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Lots of Love

I'll start this post off with a before picture of Gretchen.
Gretchen decided it was time to cut her hair. She's been growing it for a couple years and has been waiting to get 10-12 inches she could donate to Locks of Love. Monday was the day.

How is that for cute hair on a cute girl? One of the amazing things about her hair is it's thickness. If I could put my hair, Sam's Syd's, and Julia's hair all in the same ponytail it would still not be as thick as Gretchen's. I'm not sure how Brian's compares, it's thick but I didn't know him when it was ponytail length. I'm guessing she got the thick hair gene from him.

Brian and I split up with the girls this morning. He took Samantha and Sydney to their mountain bike race at Snowbasin Ski Resort, while I took Gretchen and Julia to their cross country meet at Eastmont Middle School. It was a pretty exciting morning. Our school district has an intramural cross country meet with 8 middle schools. Each school can send their top 3 boys and top 3 girls from each grade. I'm not sure how far they run, I was told a few different distances so I'll say they run between 1.5 to 1.75 miles. There is a pretty steep hill on the course and lots of room to cheer on the runners. The girls ran first. Gretchen sprinted to be in front at the first of the race and then stayed there the whole time. Julia started at the back of the pack and worked her way up to the middle. Gretchen came in first! I don't know what place Julia came in. I won't find that out until the middle school administration emails me the results sometime next week. I was really impressed with how Gretchen ran. I would love to look like that when I run. She makes it seem effortless and maybe for her it is.
 100 yards in to the race.
 100 yards in.
 Close to the finish. The red shirt is the girl that came in second.
Sprinting to the finish. 
 Finishing strong.

Sam & Syd had a hard ride. Steep hill with lots of rocks. They both gave it their best.
 Lining up for the start. Sam & Syd are in different divisions so they start at different times.
Line up.

The mountain bike team has been loads of fun for the girls. It's been great for Brian too - he rides with them when he can.

I needed to include a picture of Brian since the title of this post is Lots of Love. This one was taken in Goblin Valley in August.

Usually my mom comes to the girls' athletic activities but today she is out of town. She is on a trip to Branson, MO with 2 of her siblings and their spouses. My brother (that lives in Arkansas) and his family drove up to visit with them. They are having a blast. I'm especially glad that Brad is with her today because it's a hard day for her (and the rest of us). It's been 4 years now since I've been able to laugh with and hug my dad. I miss him.
When the girls were little and we would go over to my dad and mom's house, my dad would announce loudly, "The terrorists are here!" He loved having them come over but it was hard for him to have all that childish energy running all over his house. My girls are a little in between their cousins agewise. They have older cousins and younger cousins but none that lived close by their same ages (except for my sister's youngest who is Sam's age). In the 4 years since dad's passing we have added 6 more little ones to the family. They join 2 young ones that were already here. Recently I was talking to some of my siblings wondering what dad would have said about all these little kids running around his house. If my 4 were the terrorists what would all these kids be? One of my brothers quickly responded, "The Taliban." It's good to know that my dad's sense of humor lives on in his sons.