Monday, June 29, 2015

Meal Planning Mondays: baby, it's hot outside.

Happy Monday, Mother Truckers.

If you can't face the reality of your laundry situation, sleep on it another day.

As in literally. Sleep on it. Maybe you'll feel more hopeful come Tuesday. My husband especially appreciates my domesticity-dodge technique. He'll collapse on top of the pile next to me and sigh, then I'll shuffle around, find a pair of my undies somewhere wedged in the load, dangle it near his face and ask if that makes everything all better in my Marilyn Monroe voice. Mister Prrrrresident. This is marital bliss.

{He actually folded and put away every last bit of that laundry for me yesterday. Yessir!}

{and NO. Those are NOT sheets hanging as curtains in my bedroom. 
They cotton art displays.}

Speaking of laundry...Need some tested and approved meal ideas?

{huh? what just happened?}

It's grill season! For Father's Day, we went down to Lowe's and picked out a new grill with Tyler. He kindly perused the aisles and compared features and pointed to the one he preferred. It was all so ho-hummingly cordial that I had no choice but to put two solid hands on my hips and huff:

"Um, helloooOOoo, we are getting you a GRILL for FATHER'S DAY?!?! We are like the quintessential family Father's Day television commercial right now...I've even brought this golf polo and a visor for you to put on for pictures....aren't you PUMPED about this? You seem so...ordinary right now."

"Well, were you exactly THRILLED the last time I bought you a stove for the kitchen?"

Hmm. Touche.

Fine, he's onto me. Cooking duties largely fall on him for the summer. Mr. Grillmaster Haack. HAPPY FATHER'S DAY TO MEEEEEEEE! I'll have even more time to nap on top of my laundry pile!!!!

Happy wife, happy life. Poor man.


Friday, June 26, 2015

An update and a baby shower!

As sisters, we recently had the lovely honor of hosting a baby shower for Mallory and little miss baby T (name still TBA upon arrival of this unBELIEVABLY already-adorable-i-can-just-feel-it little GIRL who I can't wait to nuzzle on). As an extremely estrogen biased parent myself, I couldn't help but squeal with giddy at the prospect of even more little ladies running all over the place. We've got a fully stocked cousin supply ready and waiting. Let the female drama continue!

The shower was lovely and Mallory was an adorable expectant Mama, of course. It has been a tough road. The loss of Mikey is still something that is very fresh and painful. Of course, this really isn't my story to tell so I'm not going to presume to be giving a complete picture of my sister or his family's grief. It is all deeply personal and I could never do justice to the depth and scope of what these past few months have been like for them. However, a frequent question I get from sweet friends and loved ones has to do Mallory and how she is doing, so I'll share a little bit today.

The shower was held four months to the day since Mikey's passing (we didn't intentionally plan that). We knew it was going to be a bittersweet time for Mallory, as the unavoidable reality of many transpiring life events are sure to be. 

I know, speaking only for myself, that there are days that my bones literally feel heavy thinking about her and processing this new reality. Is it even possible for your bones to feel? It comes at random moments. The sadness, the weight, the regret. Wishing I could go back and fix it all. Wishing she didn't feel so sad. Wishing he was here too.

Young people with big dreams and so much love just shouldn't have this happen. Kids! They are kids. Isn't there some cosmic law against this kind of total crap?

All I can do, all I can ever do, is offer up hope and prayers. God, You make good on this. 

PLEASE make good on this. 

{OR ELSE. Or else you don't EVEN KNOW the can of whoopA I'll be bringing with me up there someday. Sista is gonna shut the heavens DOWN. ain't NOBODY gonna put mallory in an existential corner!}

I have about 3 minutes to finish this post before lightning strikes, so I better be quick...moving on...

Despite the obvious angst and sadness, I am tremendously hopeful.

In fact, I must say that Mallory hasn't had much need of her overly protective, sacrilegious, God-threatening big sisters anyways. She is such a fierce little fighter, that one. I know she doesn't always feel that way, but I am consistently amazed at her strength and clarity throughout this process.

She's the cutest little pregnant student in her nursing scrubs, immersed in attending school full-time and working part-time. I know it is hard for her. So hard. To keep going. But she does. The days are filled with work and school, and the nights usually bring the most tears. I'm especially comforted to see how she even remains self-aware and responsible enough to maintain regular chats with a beloved therapist in her schedule. She's both heartbroken and determined, struggling and succeeding. She's just a kid, but also like some 100 year-old wise sage. Wow. Never underestimate a short, bubbly blonde girl, is what I'm sayin'. Honestly, could the world get a better future nurse than this girl?! Could a soon-to-be-born daughter ever hope for a better example of strength than this in her mama?!

She is also a fairly private kind of person. Mikey was her supreme confidant, so naturally I think there is this rather devastating, compounded sort of isolation to her sadness. One of the unexpected gifts she has given a few of us is a little window into her heart as she keeps a journal during this journey. She has a private blog that she will record stories and memories and thoughts about her relationship with Mikey. It is a treasure, but it also kinda destroys me every time I read it. All of the pictures, the stories, the details of their world. Reading of their youth-filled romance, I can relate. I can attest to how real and worthwhile it can be, even if you are so very young.

What a sweetheart he was. What a beautiful love they shared, and still share. Being allowed inside of her thoughtful and articulate mind has been enormously helpful to me, because I see so clearly that this girl has got what it takes. She is going to be okay. Better than okay. 

"I never thought I would be setting up the crib by myself....Well to be honest I never thought I would be setting up a crib at all...That was Mikey's job. But I saw the crib and it was so much more than that. It represented all the struggles I have to still face being a "single mom" (really a widow....not single). It was like if I could just set up this crib by myself it was some kind of manifestation that I could do all the other things for the baby by myself too. So it took me longer than it would've taken Mikey but I did it. I built it. and it is beautiful."

I had to peel myself off to the floor after reading that paragraph. But gosh. Mal. I am so, so proud of you. You can do this. 


{Getting ready for the shower...}

For Mallory's birthday in March, she came to visit me for a few days. Meanwhile, Sarah packed up newly born baby Winnie and mister Sawyer, and drove to NV from San Francisco to tirelessly work with Larissa to surprise her with a newly decorated bedroom/baby nursery retreat.  Because obviously, moving back in with your parents just one month after being married, pregnant, and widowed....wasn't exactly the highlight of Mallory's future plans. 

Sarah insisted that the least we could do was create a little piece of tranquility for her in her old bedroom. A space she could retreat to often and feel comfortable. Because when life gives you lemons, head to Home Goods. Isn't that the saying? Sarah and Larissa painted and shopped and busted it out in 3 days.

{fist bump, ladies. nicely done.}


Let's now finish with pictures from the shower, shall we?!!

It was a day that was really about the celebration of life. 

Welcoming New life. New hopes. New joys.

{cake from Isabel's DELICIOUS bakery: THANKS ISABELS!!}

{lovely guests, which included Mikey and Mallory's friends and family}

{This quilt was sewn and gifted to Mallory from our unBUHlievably talented seamstress friend Christi, who had taken one of Mallory's favorite t-shirts which belonged to Mikey and created this masterpiece for Mallory's bed.}

{Pretty details for little Miss T}

{Mallory and Kate, best buds. Honestly, praise Zeus for Kate. Homegirl manages to keep us all laughing no matter what the circumstance. Every person needs a funny Kate in their lives, really.}

It was a fun celebration, and especially nice to see Mama and soon-to-be-baby enjoying time with loved ones. 

So folks, I think that's a wrap!


Love you, Mal. 
{And please, for the love, no more building cribs by yourself.}

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Man Crush Sunday.

Appreciating all of our good fathers in our lives today. 

Especially this guy...

who is,

to quote the divas,


"so so so so so so so so
so so so so so so so so so so so
so so so so so so so so so so so much."

{and even moreso by me}

Happy Father's Day!

Thursday, June 18, 2015

big sky country.

we have returned from our first summer adventure series. a quick trip back to NV just in time for a special baby shower. details to follow:) 

in the meantime, here are photos from a brief barf-stop for london (poor child, gets so carsick), which quite kindly lent itself to the most amazing views. i gotta say, if ya must throw up, do it somewhere out around Bishop California. those vistas sure help make the rather long and cumbersome trek alone with vomiting kids much more enjoyable.

{phew, glad she remembered to reapply her lipstick.}

the rest of today will be spent doing laundry, cleaning out a musty refrigerator, and making preparations for a visit to the grocery store. it is so nice to have the stringent schedule of a school year lifted. the days can melt into one another without any urgent need to complete tasks on a deadline. the sheer laziness of a hot summer helps me to relax and unwind a bit. something i am in dire need of, i'm afraid.

of course, as the full season nears its end i am more than ready for a hard-pressed schedule again. but for now, the only rule is No Rules

i do have a few things i hope to accomplish this summer. do you have your summer bucket list as well? our to-do's are mostly comprised of trips to the Y for pool-time, evening bike-rides, the completion of a good summer reading list, lighter meals with summer's freshest and best bounty, and night-time ice cream visits downtown. 

you know what i love? i love that my children help me to remember the magic of a summer's eve and a raucous good time in the earth's elements. heat and grass and water and a few trees keep them contented for days. and why shouldn't it? what a magnificent playground, this earth.

i don't want to let these few, preciously minimal, amount of summers with them fly by unnoticed or uncherished. did you realize that you only get like 18 summers with your kids, if you're lucky? and! i really ought to subtract from that number the summers of their impending teen years when they don't even WANT me around! ohmygosh, i'm about to panic here. breathe, rae. bbbbbbbbreathe. 

so. i'm going to slow down and savor. in fact, emerson just walked passed me typing on this computer right now, and she's completely naked. it's 4pm on a 100 degree day, and that girl really knows how to enjoy herself. the best.  

Tuesday, June 9, 2015


it begins!
school's out!

the time has come for little, grand adventures in the sunshine.

be back soon.



Thursday, June 4, 2015

A concluding word on The Statesman.

{Opening Day, swearing in. There's that bald, wrinkly Walter White head we all know and love.}

The 2015 NV Legislative Session was truly the most bizarre affair. I'm not sure you can go back into history to find a bigger example of the Republican party in the middle of such a fabulously ridiculous identity crisis.

The whole session's story begins where all such sessions begin, with the vote of the people. People who overwhelming voted in an entirely Republican majority for the state. Elected Republican officials mandated to do specifically Republican-ish things. 

So naturally, what happens? 

Tax-cuts proposed? Accountability measures implemented? Pro-life bills championed? Big government balls shrinking in the cold tide pools of fiscal conservatism?

Of course not! Because what fun would that headline be?! What good is an identity crisis unless it looks like, well, a crisis. You can't expect candidates to go around making promises on the campaign trail and then actually keeping them, can you? 

Instead, the session closed with the LARGEST tax increase in the HISTORY of Nevada. An unprecedented hike which passed under Republican leadership.

A tax increase which actually could have been stopped, had it not been for three weak-kneed Republicans who sold their votes for future campaign funds from lobbyists and a good liberal media fondling. The real cherry on the top was that all of the increases proposed came directly from our beloved Republican Governor (who had initially made campaign promises of quite an opposite nature). A Governor, who conveniently, doesn't have to worry about re-election. 

Sigh, politics.

Dear Republican sell-outs, 

Can you help everyone else out, for the sake of clarity, and just become Democrats already? It's okay. The Democratic Party is full of good people too.

Actually, come to think of it, I'm not exactly sure the Democrats would want you either. Last time I checked, I'm pretty sure they also champion values like honesty, transparency, and courage. 


So, in all of this madness, how did The Statesman vote?

You know how he voted. 

 2015's session is one that will always live in infamy for me. It was a brutal time. I would never want to relive any of the past 6 months. At one point, it was laughed that Ira Hansen was spouting conspiracy theories when he predicted that there was a 1.1 billion dollar tax increase coming down the channels, a tax increase which explained the real motivation behind the brilliantly orchestrated take-down of him as the voted Speaker of the House. 

Well, he was wrong. It was 1.5 BILLION. He underestimated.

However, regardless of the headaches, it was this session, more than any other, that we saw what Ira Hansen was really made of. As such, even if all of this ends up being the kiss of political death...even if he loses every single campaign donation and never runs for office again (oh that would be so lovely!)... this man should be at peace.

{yeah, he's pretty ticked in this video. lol. imagine what breaking curfew in our house was like!}


All of us kids got talking at the close of the session. We wanted to publicly state for the record our feelings to our Dad. We linked the following message to social media yesterday, and of course, I wanted it posted here as well:

{Pop and Sawyer}

This week marks the end of a historic and very turbulent NV legislative session. Nevadan’s have just witnessed the largest tax increase in the history of our State. As a final wrap up, we want to publicly express our pride in our father, Assemblyman Ira Hansen, for his efforts to fight for the people of NV despite enormous insider political and media pressures. It’s time for some positive press.


As your oldest son I have particularly looked to you for inspiration in terms of leadership. This session you have led, as few around you have been courageous enough to do. In word and deed you have stayed true to yourself and your ideals, despite the fury around you. You have worked with anyone and everyone who is sincerely trying to improve the world around them. You have shown me that true courage and true leadership can be found in a single man defending a just cause, even when that cause is on the losing side. Watching you from afar, I couldn't be more proud. You handled yourself with honesty, integrity, and have stayed true to what you believe is right. No amount of lobbying or campaign funding can compensate for a lack of those qualities. When all is said and done, especially in these stormy political times, know that your son is proud of you and gladly stands beside you.

What a ride this last session has been! I couldn't be more proud of you. Through your example, you once again have given me inspiration to stand tall even if I feel like I'm standing alone. "Do what is right, let the consequence follow" is what you have always taught. The real key to the successful education of our children isn't higher taxes. What children really need for success is to have strong, courageous, principled fathers involved in their lives. Thank you for always walking that walk, Dad. Thank you for helping me sleep better at night knowing at least ONE person is in government willing to fight for the people. Thank you for watching out for your granddaughters and the children of NV. Your brute honesty and passion make for one lousy politician, but a worthy leader.
- Love, Rachel (Rae-pooper)

Mom sent me a photo of you last week. You were in dirty work clothes and a hard hat - doing a plumbing job between legislative sessions. I could not help but feel proud. I hope people look at your hands when they meet you. I hope they notice they are not the hands of a political insider, but the hands of a man who has supported 8 children through manual labor in the small business he started at 19. Then, I ultimately hope they will listen to what you have to say. Because, while your hands are hard and calloused from hard work, your mind is sharp as a razor. I remember watching you reading (for fun) everything from "The Wealth of Nations" to "Shrubs of the Great Basin" (haha). This instilled in me a love for learning. Your work effort, your commitment to faith and integrity, your patriotism and your love for Mom and all of us kids demonstrated through the giving of your time and attention has been inspiring. Watching you now on a bigger stage, giving people a glimpse into the type of man you are, has been enjoyable but also frustrating. I don't think many realize how special you are. You are a rare breed. Still, no matter what titles you may hold, for me you are the dad who was at all my football games, you are the grandpa that loves nothing more than spoiling the grandkids with "Pop's Cocoa", and you are the wise man who never falters in his ideals while still being civil and diplomatic. You are my hero dad, you always have been. I wish people knew you the way we all do. -Jacob

This session you didn’t waver from the person you have been our entire life. You are honorable and brave and these attributes are always evident in your actions as a father, husband, and Assemblyman. You have dedicated your life to making our life and childhood one that every child deserves. You would leave before the sun was up and come home tired from a hard day’s work and still manage to be extremely involved in our extra-curricular activities. You loved watching me keep up with the boys on the basketball court. Much to your dismay, when your little tomboy traded in softballs and basketballs for a short cheer skirt and a boyfriend, you sat proudly in the crowd waving those spirit fingers. While I have retired that cheer uniform for mom jeans, I will continue to proudly cheer on my dad, Ira Hansen. – Sarah

If Theodore Roosevelt and George Washington were mixed into one character it would produce Dad- but with much less hair! From what I have learned about these two leaders in history, it is apparent that in the face of adversity and challenges they remained constant. They strove to do what they thought was best for the people even while trying to balance their personal lives with the crazy public life of politics (and the headaches that come along with public opinion). They stuck to their guns (or Big Stick in Roosevelt's case). The trickle down effect of witnessing your hard work, Dad, is a greater confidence for me that personal belief and true conviction in oneself and work can really open doors I’ve never thought possible. So here's to you, Dad, for your example, hard work, and passion for our home state of Nevada.

Dad, you never cease to amaze. In these last days of the session, once again you have left me in awe with your ability to be true to yourself even when the cards are stacked against you. You have always taught us kids lessons about honor and integrity but more importantly you have lived by these codes and your example has been our greatest lesson. To this day you show us that you will continue to fight for what is right (even if it turns out like the Spartans at Thermopylae), because it is about integrity to your word. Like you have always told 5'6" me, “It's not about the size of the dog in the fight it's about the size of the fight in the dog”, you have more fight than any man I have ever met. I couldn't be more grateful to have you as my father. Keep fighting the good fight!

Dad, you have put up quite the fight this session. I think it is safe to say you did many people proud, but mostly, us kids. You worked long hours not only as a plumber and a legislator, but as our dad. I often wish people could see the real work that you put in and not just the media’s version. Thank you for showing me what a leader looks like. You often like to brag about your kids, so I’m glad I have a chance to brag about you. These past few months have been the most trying in my entire life and what a difference it has made to have you as my dad. To the outside world you might be a loud and controversial legislator. To me, you are the late night conversation when we run into each other looking for snacks in the kitchen. You are the heart-felt Valentine's day card to me after Mikey’s death. You are the dad who coached me from the fence when I attempted to play softball. You are the 'Pop' that serves his grandchildren too much cocoa. You are the dad who held me as I cried in the hospital. You are the quiet voice that whispered to Mikey as you said goodbye. That is my dad. That is Pop. That is Ira Hansen.
I love you!

Recently I visited you at the legislature and you walked me out to my car. As we said goodbye you turned and said, I am so proud of you. Now that I think about it, I should have turned to you and thanked you for your example. You always encourage me to do my best. You are always there for a good pep-talk when life gets tough. High school can be a hard experience and you know how to make me feel protected and loved. Thank you for being a one-of-a-kind person and a one-of-a-kind dad.
-Love, Rissa

Now, it’s time for you to enjoy a more peaceful summer: filled with grandkids, Lake Tahoe, and BBQ’s. Congrats on your 2015 session, Assemblyman Ira Hansen!

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Meal Planning Mondays: Oh, right. It's Wednesday.

Oh boy. It's happened. We have literally scraped the bottom of our refrigerator. I sent the girls off to school with a few wilted celery sticks and some lunch money, much to their protestation. Do you have those weeks too?...when the thought of a grocery store makes you want to crawl into a hole and cry in fetal position for the next seven years? Instead of sucking it up, you just proceed with life and that empty refrigerator, acting as if the daily arrival of dinner-time is a complete shock and abomination. Maybe the next day everyone will forget they need to eat.

I blame Emerson. Shopping with her can do that to me. As each member of our family looks into our entirely empty pantry and turns with distraught looks and hungry groans I redirect: don't you look at me! It's her fault! Don't let those batty eyes and fluffy curls fool you, people. Last time we were in the store she dropped the glass jar of applesauce in the aisle. Or,  Ellie-Jjjjjjjjjjjjane! How about we examine HER. You know what happened when I refused to buy the chocolate cupcakes?... she yelled, " Fine! THEN YOU AREN'T MY MUDDA ANYMORE."

Do you know what that's like? Can you even imagine the horror? The disowned mother, who turns only to face the humorless stares of childless college hipsters splatted in applesauce flecks while shopping in Trader Joes?! Hell! We don't even have the budget to shop for a family of six at Trader Joes! I just wanted to see what it would feel like! I mean, Heck! I meant to say Heck. We don't say the word hell unless we are talking about the actual place, girls.


So, yyyyyyyyeah. We've been on a dry run for a while. It's been too many days now, and I can't handle the thought of more take-out or fried eggs. I've decided to get my act together. I've whipped out my other bible and put together a sound meal plan.

Because let's be real here. When one feeds their family, it is nothing short of a miraculous feat. It takes so much downright dogged determination, planning, and skill to keep a kitchen running. Even with the occasional nightmare of a publicly embarrassing spectacle, I hope I don't forget the honor of this whole process. All of this bounty. All of these beautiful foods we are privileged to prepare and share with loved ones.

We've got it good. 
Happy Feeding your family, folks! Get the kids involved.:)




Here was a previous meal plan line up. I will only share recipes we've used and approved!

1. Lemon Artichoke Chicken (thanks Katy!). Your house will smell amazing. Cook extra chicken in the same pan, it works great as leftovers to use in this recipe:
2. Poppy-Seed Chicken Pitas
3. Pasta Primavera. Delicious hot, and even more delicious next day as a cold pasta salad leftover. I use Trader Joe's Brown Rice Quinoa Fusili pasta in this recipe and feel super healthy about the whole affair.
4. Sausage Pizza with Caramelized Onions.  All weekends deserve a pizza (I use pre-made dough).