Category Archives: Family

Shipping them to Grandma’s

It’s May . . .

That means

-Nice Weather

-End of Year Field Trips

-Wired Kids

-Later Nights

-Endless Laundry (I don’t think this has anything to do with May)

It’s the calm before the summer storm, if by calm you mean a schedule that has you driving to Family Fun Night, Girl Scouts,  a field trip at the Children’s Museum, a field trip at the Nature Center, end of year Preschool celebration. On top of orthodontist appointments, work meetings, swim lessons, checkups, and the constant question (because it’s finally nice outside) “Can we go to the park? Not the one by our house, the one CLEAR across town that we haven’t been to in forever because it’s been snowing for the last six months!”

My husband’s latest song keeps playing over and over in my head:

Let’s face it, we’re all exhausted!

So, what do you do when the school year is almost at an end? You plan to send the kids to Grandma and Grandpa’s the day after school is out.

The best part is, they’re really excited! They get all the spoiling: chocolate, no bedtime, one on one attention, candy, and snuggles, what’s not to love?

We get a few days to regroup before starting the summer fun.

I think we’ll all be in a better place for starting our summer apart.

When the kids come home we’ll be ready for popsicles, and trips to the park.  It will be time to go to the beach, have picnics, visit the zoo. There are so many things we want to do this summer, and by starting it apart we will have time to appreciate each other more. The kids can leave the school year behind, and mom and dad can take a breath to regroup and be present for the next few months of “vacation” . . . at least that’s what I’m telling myself!

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National Poetry Month: One more for Sandra

It’s the last day of April, and time to say goodbye to National Poetry Month. April really is my favorite, and to end it, I would like to introduce you to one of my favorite people, my amazing cousin, Sandra.

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As you can see, if anyone is deserving of their very own poem, it is her. She dances in her chair with amazing tutus (in various colors depending on the season), she always has a smile (which is contagious), and her hugs are beyond compare. I love you Sandra, and I am so glad that you are a part of our family.  I wrote this poem just for you. Next time we are together, we will wear star-shine glasses and sing this song to everyone that walks by!

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National Poetry Month Week 3: Finding Inspiration

If you Google the top five questions that authors are asked one would probably be: Where do you find inspiration?

For me it’s a combination of a lot of things. Things that are happening in my life, people I’ve met, places I’ve been, the world around me . . . all of this inspires me. But I’ve also found inspiration in other poets.

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I’ve mentioned Robert Louis Stevenson and Shel Silverstein in previous posts. I will always love these poets, but as I grew older, I found myself drawn to female poets. Emily Dickinson and Maya Angelou being the two most prominent. I even painted a “Hope” mural on my bedroom wall.

 

The picture above is not my artwork, I’m no artist, but the poem inspired some of my best awkward high school/college poetry. I fully intended to open up the old journals and spill my 16 year-old heart out, but alas the notebook cannot be found. I am so sad because there were some doozies. For now, you will have to use your imagination, or maybe break out your own journal to rediscover your own teenage angst.

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I did find this picture of me with two of my amazing grandparents, yet another inspiration, but totally underappreciated in my youth. I’m sure I wrote a poem that went something like:

 

 

Cold day, Easter egg hunt,

Hawaiian shirts, and family fun.

Wish I could feel the sand on my toes.

Had to put sunscreen on my nose.

Instead I’m helping kids hunt eggs.

Running on their little legs.

Next time let’s just hit the beach.

Skip the eggs and have a retreat.

Fast-forward to 2018, and I’m helping my own kids hunt eggs on an equally dismal day. There weren’t any Hawaiian shirts, though. My, how times have changed.

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Today is also Earth Day, so I thought I’d share a poem from my new book, Bumble Bee Sneeze, that was inspired by a nature scene. Thanks again, to my amazing husband, Tevin, for the illustrations. I gave him a challenge this time around. The illustration that follows this one is a “finding/counting things” that are from the poem.

Jump Grasshopper,

Slither Snake,

In the grass down by the lake.

Sunshine warm,

Gentle breeze,

Flowers full of bumble bees.

Fish are splashing,

Birds in trees,

Thankful for this nature scene.

 

Happy Earth Day!

 

Happy Poetry Month

April is national poetry month!

Most of you are probably aware of my career as a mother of two, and might even be aware that I’m the CEO of Handersen Publishing. But I also write children’s poetry.WhenIWasAGrown-up

My first collection of poetry was released in 2015. “When I was a Grown-up and Other Poems” was inspired by my two kids, and what it’s like to grow up. It includes poems about everything from parents who are too busy to play, leftovers that sing karaoke in the fridge at night, and dust bunnies that might carry you away.

To celebrate poetry month, I want to give you a sneak peek – every week – into my new book, and also share some of my favorite poetry books from my childhood.

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My biggest inspiration growing up was (and still is) Shel Silverstein. “Where the Sidewalk Ends” is the first book that I remember getting as a gift. Although we had lots of books in our house, this book was SO magical that I wrote my name in it…with a multi-colored pen. (You know the pen I’m talking about!)

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Lazy Jane was a stand out, and I remember thinking, “This can be poetry? I want to write poetry like this! I want my poetry to be fun!”

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I still feel this way, and hope that I can bring even a quarter of the whimsy and creativity that Shel Silverstein brought to his work. I want kids (and adults, too) to want to write poetry and know that it doesn’t have to be complicated or pretentious. Poetry can be approachable. It can be relatable. It can meet you where you are.

That is what inspired “Bumble Bee Sneeze,” my upcoming collection of children’s poetry. Once again my very talented husband, Tevin Hansen has done the illustrations. This book will be a little different than the last. Each poem is still about growing up, and many of them still have silly elements, but sometimes growing up isn’t always funny. Some things are a little bit tricky to navigate, and this book has a few of those poems, too.

But today’s poem is all about smiles. This is the title poem, “Bumble Bee Sneeze”. Everything from the short length of the poem, to the cute little guy in the illustration, hints at the fun of the book.

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Thanks for checking in, all! I will be back next week with more great poems from my past, and another sneak peek at the upcoming book!

I also have an awkward high school poem reveal planned, but you’ll have to keep following along to see when that gem makes its appearance!

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Happy April!!!

 

Stranded in an airport . . .

Sometimes you have the best plans, an exact schedule, and you are absolutely certain that things will be perfect. But perfection isn’t easy to come by. Especially when you’re taking your first international flight to London, UK.

The whirlwind of life has swept through our family and our business over the last few months, leaving me exhausted. I had a summer full of broken arms, trips to the zoo, a tonsillectomy, author events, farmer’s markets,  promotion, and learning about running an independent children’s publishing house.

Our fall has started, and nothing has slowed down. School started, more author events, book events, story times, plus four new book releases (so far), a new issue of our magazine, Stinkwaves, and more promotion, more learning, more chaos.

Now, finally, a break. A trip to London! The first for both my husband and me. Ah, I can smell the tea, taste the scones, hear the beautiful accents. Yet, here I am . . . for the second day, in Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota. No Big Ben. No tea. Only a soggy sandwich and luke-warm tea for dinner.

This is our third attempt at catching a flight, and if we don’t make this one, or it is delayed, I may have a bit of a tantrum. There’s been mechanical problems, weather issues, runway construction, along with other small things that have lead to the delay. But I know that once we get there, even though there will still be any number of hiccups, it will be worth the wait.

Just like running our publishing house, with each new release comes a thousand and one bumps in the road. There are quarrels about editing and design, misprinted books, and beta feedback that isn’t what you thought it would be, which bring about rewrites, recoloring, and complete redo’s. Nothing ever goes as expected.

Just like running a family. You can plan all you want, but sometimes you’re going to have a 30-minute meltdown about socks. There will be broken bones and hurt feelings. You may never be “on time,” but you will also have silly dances, amazing new books, and unexpected smiles. The highs outweigh the lows, and we keep moving forward. We keep making plans, only to find that they will change. And eventually we realize that those changes were actually better.

So my husband and I will wait five more hours (on top of the five we’ve already waited) to hopefully catch a flight to London. We will get there and I will be a part of my friend’s wedding. We will see things that we’ve only read about or seen in pictures. We will eat scones and drink tea, and it will be AMAZING. Our time in London will be special because it is an adventure, everything that neither of us planned it to be.

Because sometimes . . .

Because sometimes you wake up with a sore throat, an AWFUL attitude, and something growing on your face that looks like a second chin.

Because sometimes you just want to crawl into a hole for the next 3-5 business days, but there are still lunches to make, boo-boos to kiss, hair to brush…the list never ends.

Because sometimes the Wild Kratts’ Monkey Mayhem game is the hardest thing in the entire world, and Chris and Martin should crawl into a hole.

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Disclaimer: I’m really quite fond of the Wild Kratts. Their TV show and most of their games are wonderful. It’s just that my almost four-year-old isn’t quite ready for this game, and it is the ONLY one that he wants to play.

Yo Mama . . .

I was picking my daughter up from school today, she was doing her daily round-up of the goings-on in Kindergarten: how many blue tickets she earned (good), who was sent to the “buddy room” (a.k.a. what we DON’T call time-out anymore)…the the usual.

We were dodging bikes, excited kids, and trying not to get smacked in the face by swinging backpacks. Then I overheard something that made me shake my head and laugh out loud.

A group of third graders were having a battle of “Yo Mama” jokes. Things were gettin’ real at the elementary school, people! This yo mama battle was intense. Someone’s mama was so fat, another so stupid, and someone else’s mama was something so bad that it could only be shared in a hushed whisper.

All I could think was: “Seriously? Yo mama jokes? Haven’t we come up with something better than that yet?”

According to gizmodo.com the oldest “yo mama” joke is 3500 years old:

Around 1,500 BCE, a student in ancient Babylon inscribed six riddles on a tablet. 3,500 years later, these proto-jokes lose a lot in the translation, but one thing’s for sure: the Babylonians are saying something about your mother.

I like to think that we, as a species, have evolved over time. We’ve had civil rights and women’s rights, we’ve eradicated deadly diseases, we’ve overthrown corrupt governments, but one thing remains . . . the “yo mama” joke.

Why is it always about the mothers?

Respect the Mamas, people!

Mothers lovingly raise you, they wipe your butt, cook your meals, drive you to football practice, dance class, boy scouts, 4-H! And yet, we take this constant playground punishment! Here’s one for you:

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I am going to skip the book review for this blog because we are currently on a rotation of 15 early reader Rescue Bots books. And I’m pretty sure, if you have a preschool aged boy or girl (my six-year-old daughter is also obsessed), you can guess what they are all about.

Instead, you can watch this video of the amazingly awesome 80’s inspired theme song!

Stepping out of your sister’s shadow

Our eldest is a hurricane. She started talking at six months, walking at ten months. The first thing people ask upon meeting her is, “Does she always talk that much?” My answer is, “Yes.” She wears every emotion on the outside, for the world to see.

When our little guy was born, it became clear that he was a completely different kind of kid. We quickly dubbed him the “normal one”. He is an observer, a thinker. He does not run on impulse, instead he takes his time. He looks at little bugs on the sidewalk, clouds in the sky . . .

Then he turned three . . .

He is still an observer, and he is still my Pokey Little Puppy, but there was an explosion, a burst of language and coordination, and silly fun. Now instead of the “normal one” we ask, “Remember when he was the quiet one?”

The timing could not be better. As our daughter is getting into the swing of Kindergarten, our little guy is becoming his own person. He’s stepping out from behind the hurricane and finding his own way to be, which is something like a monsoon, intense torrential rain with beautiful calm sunshine after.

It’s hard not to compare kids, it’s one of the key building blocks to education, sorting and categorizing. As parents, especially moms, that’s how we relate to other parents, we compare children, experiences, lifestyles. I don’t think comparing is a bad thing, it’s important to embrace our differences, but it’s also important not to judge.

I received one of the best compliments from a friend. She said, “You let your kids be who they are.” I replied, “I try to,” because sometimes it’s really hard. But by embracing their natural tendencies, and encouraging kindness and empathy, they are turning into little humans that are ready to take on the world!

 

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Lauren Child has a way of creating stories that seem to have stepped out of any child’s life. The New Small Person, is the perfect example of this.

In this book a family of three turns into a family of four, and the biggest adjustments must come from the boy who was once an only child. As his new baby brother grows this big brother finally comes to the realization that maybe this new small person isn’t so bad after all.

My favorite part of this book is when he finally calls his little brother by name.

This is a very typical Lauren Child book, with the familiar characters and illustrations that go with it. It is full of texture and color and approachable dialogue that is fun and engaging to read together with your favorite “small person”.

 

 

We are bullies . . . all of us

So maybe, just maybe it’s time for us to stop trying to convince others to follow our point of view by trying to make someone else feel stupid?

Maybe we can actually speak to one another instead of posting mean hurtful things on social media?

Maybe we can be honest with ourselves and call ourselves out for being bullies . . . all of us.

Whether you’re right or wrong, aggressor or victim, justified or opposed, just because someone was cruel to you does not give you the right to be cruel back or be cruel to someone else. It doesn’t prove a point, it’s just mean.

At first I thought it was the election year with all of its negative rhetoric, but then I realized it goes so much deeper than that. It’s been a year of Black Lives Matter, Police Lives Matter, All Lives Matter. It’s been another year of justifying hate with belligerence on all sides. It’s been a year of selfishness, ego, and narrow-minded narcism . . . from everyone. Whether I agree with you or not, whether the majority agrees with you or not, this isn’t a post about my beliefs. It’s a post about treating people, like people, not profile pictures on the internet that don’t have feelings or families.

There are consequences for actions like these, and we will see them in the next generation. Our children are reflections of ourselves. They are like fun-house mirrors, turning our behaviors into over exaggerated  versions of what they see. But if this type of behavior gets any bigger, I worry about what that means for us as a society.

I realize that in posting this, in a way, I’m giving into all of these things, but I’m tired . . .

I am a naturally positive person, so much so that I drive my husband nuts with thinking the best of people. But lately the light in people’s eyes has seemed a little dimmer.

There is hope, though, always hope. I see it in several Facebook feeds that I follow.

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There are more, I know, and I plan on surrounding myself with them, and blocking/turning off the negative flood that has surrounded the people of our country. And I will pray for our country, for our leaders (whomever they may be), for the next generation. I will pray that they can all find compassion for someone other than themselves. That they can become selfless, humble, and generous. I will pray that we can all embrace our differences and grow together instead of tearing each other down.

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There are thousands of books on bullies, but there is one that is close to my heart, and speaks a lot to the point I’m trying to make. Alexia Versus the Birthday Bear by my husband, Tevin Hansen.

In this book Alexia is a very smart girl who finds herself at the school bully’s birthday party. It is up to her to save her not so nice classmates from a party entertainer that is actually a real bear that wants to eat them all for lunch.

The premise is silly, but the story speaks to the enormous problem of bullying. Almost every character in the book is a little mean at some point. Even Alexia is a bully to an extent because she holds her intelligence over her classmates. There is a section at the end of the book that asks the reader to answer a few questions about the characters in the book and examine why each are, in their own way, a bully.

This book is a great conversation starter. And hopefully with a little thoughtful dialogue we can be honest with each other and honest with our selves, and finally put an end to bullying.

This is NOT our normal toilet paper.

It looked like the toilet paper that I normally buy. It was the same brand, same packaging . . . I didn’t even read the label. It had been a long day of errands, and this was my last one. With two kids running around the store like maniacs, it was time to go. I just didn’t realize that when we got home and it was time to go, that we would have a problem on our hands.

Growing up, there was one rule in our house: “Don’t buy cheap toilet paper.” And I was grateful for that rule. Now as a mother, I try to live by it as well. Until, that is, Aldis changed their packaging.

My son put the toilet paper away. It’s his one big responsibility and he LOVES stacking the rolls in the bottom cupboard. So I didn’t realize my mistake until it was too late.

“Bogies, mum…” said my 3-year-old, arms at his sides–we’re trying to teach him not to use his shirt, or his arm as a tissue.

“Okay, hold on,” I said.

As I went to grab some TP, I was not greeted with the soft, two-ply, quilted delight that is usually there. This was worse than the toilet paper you find in mall bathrooms. This was one-ply, rough, falls apart, awful.

I went to the trash and checked the packaging. It was the same brand, but it was NOT our normal toilet paper. And now we had a LOT of it because when it’s only one-ply there is a lot more paper on each roll.

I’m pretty frugal, so I thought, “Hey, we can handle this. It’s just TP, right? Nothing to get upset about.” But it’s been over two months with this horrible and never ending cache of toilet paper. Our family will persevere. We will get through this. And from now on, I will take the time to make sure I get the right TP.

 

In honor of going, my new book review is Even Firefighters Go to the Potty by Wendy Wax and Naomi Wax with illustrations by Stephen Gilpin.

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This book had the kids and I laughing very hard because, let’s face it, what preschooler or toddler isn’t obsessed with bathroom humor? The premise is pretty simple. Adults from different professions are mysteriously missing. As you lift each flap, you see that they are in the potty.

This was a nice sturdy flap book, but it is not for the faint of heart, or the mom who is so tired of hearing the word poop, and jokes about poop, and kids talking about poop nonstop…that she just might scream. This book encourages dialogue about the bathroom, and all that it entails.

My little guy is already potty-trained, so I can’t say for certain that it would help with that. It might make it less scary to think that even people as brave as firefighters, pilots, and astronauts use the potty.

So if you’re ready for lots of giggles, especially about the train engineer’s locomotive themed underwear, then this book is for you.