Thursday, December 20, 2007

Additional Anecdotes

December 2007

Last summer, Kate and Connor are out of sight of Ellen and Eric, but we can hear Kate. “I’m tearing off the arms.” “I’m tearing off the head”. Ellen is curious. “Kate, what are you doing?” “I’m just looking at a pile of body parts mother.” Eric is amused. Ellen, not so much. “Whose body parts Kate?” “Jacob’s. He was mean to his little sister.” Subtle. Of course, Connor didn’t get the hint about treating little sisters well so he slept fine that night.

Kate found a small frog and picked it up. Ellen, distracted by a visitor at the time, made several requests of Kate to release the animal before looking over to find the frog lying on its back in Kate’s open hand. Ellen: “Kate, is that frog dead?” Kate: “Not yet, mother.”

Eric was passing by when he heard Kate tell Connor: “Don’t worry Buck, I will get a couple of grown-ups to handle it”. Curious Eric inquired if he and Ellen were the grown-ups she had in mind and Kate confirmed that yes mom and dad were now “a couple of grown-ups”.

Kate asked Ellen what she wanted to be when she grew-up, Ellen told told her that she was a physical therapist. Kate’s take: "They just help people. What else do you want to be?"


Ellen: "What would you like for dinner?"

Kate: "Buck Soup"

Ellen: "You have to cook something to make soup."

Kate: "He's my brother, I can do what I want with him."


Surprising in a different way, was an episode last winter when Kate was still 3. Connor and Eric are playing Connect 4 and are near the end of a long game. Connor is actually a pretty good Connect 4 player. Kate wanders into the room seconds before Connor makes a move. She stops and Eric makes a winning move. Connor is looking at the game when Kate offers: “You lose Buck. Four in a row diagonal. You should have moved here.” Pointing to a play at the last. This was especially surprising because no one had taught Kate how to the play the game and she had never shown any interest in it.




Holiday Letter 2007

December 2007

Friends-

Holiday Greetings from Elmira, New York where the firemen still wear their clothes to work every day. We have grown a year older since we last wrote and hopefully everyone this is being sent to has done the same. Otherwise we have wasted a stamp. It was a year of change here but even as some things change others stay the same. For example, our better-than-natural-green-spray-painted-genuine-pine wreath has entered its ninth year of service on our front door.

We experienced progress this year. Well, maybe not progress, but we did experience change. Change is like progress if you’re billing by the hour. It’s the kind of progress you get when by cleaning a room you start by dumping the contents of every drawer on the floor or when you start the renovation of your house by taking off a bathroom door. And since we don’t see much progress here, we will happily take credit for anything close. What progress that does occur here comes in two flavors, Eric Progress (otherwise called ‘one-step-forward-sit-down-and–rest’ progress) and Ellen Progress (often referred to as ‘one-step-forward-one-step-sideways-spin-in-a-random-direction-and-go-go-go’ progress). Our sub-optimal approaches did, however, net some quantifiable gains. We completed the shed-to-playhouse conversion that, for a bit, looked as though it would eventually land on Connor’s to-do list. It wasn’t easy and required the drastic measure of Eric putting the rest of the family on a plane to Alaska, getting some outside help and then waiting on Ellen to get back to help finish things up. On the downside, power tools for Connor no longer seem the ideal holiday gift. On the upside the whole family enjoyed the Alaska trip. Especially Connor, who caught a shark while fishing in the Pacific, but we digress. The downstairs bathroom/laundry room/pantry renovation started in 2005 is moving along as a pace that should see it completed in 2009. Or 2010. We did get the door back on the bathroom. And then we took it off again.

The leaf battle took a nasty turn this year. Apparently Mother Nature was smarting from the lopsided defeat we handed her last year and dug down deep into her bag of tricks. The leaves, normally off the trees by late October, hung on the trees until early December and coordinated their descent with that of the first significant snowfall of the season. They peek insolently through the snow at us even now. We had been fans of global warming here but now with its apparent affects on when leaves fall we will have to reconsider our opinion.

Our house goes as Kate goes and 2007 could have been worse. Kate has evolved from ‘demonic’ to ‘odd’ in a way you simply have to experience. Since you probably weren’t paying close attention over the past year try and imagine an outgoing, well-adjusted and charming four year old girl . . . that will be our jumping off point. Now take away her conscience and throw in an unsettling level of comfort with dead things. You are getting warm. How comfortable is Kate with dead things? One day walking in from the car Ellen, Connor and Kate passed the remains of a small, furry creature that apparently made the acquaintance of one of our cats. Upon entering, Kate quietly took off her shoes, put on her boots and went back outside. Kate came back inside, “Mommy, can you tell me what this black stuff is?” That Ellen already knew that the “black stuff” was what was formerly inside the ex-rodent probably tells you all you need to know. We have a hundred other Kate anecdotes but space limitations here mean you’ll have to visit http://holidayletters.blogspot.com/ to see them.

As Kate goes through phases (or, perhaps, roles) Connor simply becomes a bigger Connor He remains sweet and na├»ve while also getting much, much louder. There are little changes. he didn’t spend this flag football season skipping around the field with a Winnie-the-Pooh-like smile on his face the whole game, but if you knew Connor last year, or the year before, or the year before you’d recognize him now. He remains polite to a fault as you can literally sidetrack an outburst by throwing compliments at him as he will meet every interrupting platitude with a “Thank you”. Connor presents the sort of dogged determination that is not side-tracked by lateral thinking nor found in his paternal ancestry. Not only is he as purposeful as Ellen, he’s also every bit as sweet and gullible as his mother was when she met Eric. When a neighbor sold his house this year and Connor was informed that a girl he knows from school will soon be moving into the house where Dr. Zama lives now, Connor’s response was "Dr. Zama will certainly be surprised." When Connor recently did something very out of character and Eric asked the rhetorical: “Who are you?”. Connor, a little surprised but completely serious, replied: “It’s me, Buck. That was an easy question. You should know that one Daddy.”

Wishing you a happy holiday season and an interesting year,

Eric, Ellen, Connor and Kate

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Holiday Letter 2006

December 2006

Friends-

Holiday Greetings from Elmira, New York where even the cats sleep lightly since our three-year-old, at her birthday party, hugged her mother and uttered these unforgettable words: "I squeeze your neck mama. Like the lion squeezes the zebra's neck.” And now you know why we don’t keep firearms in the house. Also, for those of you who were worried that we had modernized, fear not; our better-than-natural-green-spray-painted-genuine-pine wreath has entered its eighth year of service on our front door.

The past year has seen progress on many fronts. For example, the average daily population of our house dropped to 4.2 from 4.8 in each the two preceding years. Yes, over the preceding two years we were the mythical average family with 2.5 children (if you conveniently ignore that one of those children turned 28 this past year and that average family is collectively dysfunctional while our family is individually. . . different). None of that changes the math that the average population of this house won’t reach the ideal population of 2 for another fifteen years or until Ellen buys into the idea of boarding school for Kate (which becomes an easier sell almost daily).

Another quantifiable advance has been made here in the annual battle between The Hanson Family and The Hanson Family’s Trees. In the not-too-distant past this was a brutal battle easily extracting eighty hours of toil from Eric in weather conditions a computer programmer rarely encounters (we won’t mention Ellen’s involvement in this as she has no complaints about outdoor work in inclimate weather). However, we are not the first family to face these hardships and we quickly decided to learn from the work of others. It became clear, almost immediately, upon researching the history of man versus tree conflict that the technological advantage that man possesses cannot be over-estimated. Once we came to understand this, the tide of the once epic struggle slowly, undeniably and inexorably moved in favor of the side possessing chainsaw technology. Each year a new technological advantage has been added to our arsenal and 2006 was no different with the addition of a zero-turn-triple-bagger-fifty-inch-deck-turbo-vacuum-equipped-leaf-annihilator. What was once an 80 hour undertaking that included the risk of blisters and cold fingers has now become a 20 hour commune with nature. With the leaves vanquished our little empire will now turn its attention to crushing the stubborn resistance of the gnats in 2007.

Finally, we did cross one entry off of our to-do list. The sand and gravel piles in the driveway that we previously mentioned in our 2005, 2004, 2003 and 2002 letters are now gone. Don't ask where. Eric hated to see them go as this only reinforces Ellen’s behavior of asking Eric to finish things. In a review of other old news: Eric's 10 day office remodeling project which was in month 6 in December 2000 is now in year 6. The rec room in basement project, at the top of the to-do list in 2001's letter has not yet been started. Nothing remains from our 2003 letter simply because we accomplished nothing in 2002 and so 2003’s letter had no new failures to offer . . . just old failures re-failed. The shed to playhouse conversion started in 2004 is going slowly enough that the kids may be able to finish it themselves at some point.

We still have two children (after last year’s letter we feared it may be too obvious if down-sized right away) and just love to share the pain interesting moments they cause us with others.

Connor had a good year. He learned a lot. Early in the year, while taking down last year’s holiday decorations, Ellen explained to him the reason for Christmas: to celebrate Baby Jesus’ birthday. She should have seen the next question coming from an inquiring mind that hasn't been told it's not polite to ask how old someone is: "How old is Baby Jesus?" Uh-oh, we all know what a quick thinker Ellen is. "Um, he lives up in heaven." Yeah, mom. In the concerned and excited tone that only one of our two children ever speaks in: "Baby Jesus passed away?!" Poor Baby Jesus. Shortly after that he learned where ham came from. “Poor piggies.” In March he turned five. He wanted a sign on the door for the party: "You can't come in unless you are naked". Subtle. Clothing optional birthday parties may someday be part of Connor’s life . . . but not this year. In June we went down to the Outer Banks with too many other people (Eric was tricked into the trip again). Everyone had just come back from the beach and it’s dinner time. Five children are eating at the picnic table, one child is eating under the picnic table as if all the world is right. Afterwards, Ellen: "Connor, why were you eating under the picnic table?" Connor: "Laurel wasn't wearing any underwear. I had a good view." Very subtle. (Note to self: send a different version to Laurel’s mom.) Hopefully Connor will figure-out that honesty is not always the best policy at some point. He learned about fishing one day at Ellen’s mother’s. Ed comes into the cabin with a string of fish. Connor: "Those fish don't look well. Are they passed-away?” Well, yes, Connor. They have seen better days. “I didn't want to hurt the fish. I wanted to keep one in a bowl as a pet." Poor fishies. Kate (in the deadpan, matter-of-fact way that only one of our two children ever speaks in): "I want fish soup." Connor had his first season of (flag) football. Another learning experience (“They are blocking kind of hard.”). He learned about gardening. Ellen has a method for killing slugs that trouble her flowers. Poor sluggies. Connor’s thinking on the matter: “We have enough flowers to share”. Actually, that’s the short version . . . the long version involved Ellen getting a long lecture on the ethical treatment of animals. And, finally, Connor embarked on the ultimate learning experience: kindergarten. Kindergarten isn’t easy. First, there’s the getting out of bed at 7 a.m. (“I love this bed and this bed loves me.”) and waking-up after that ("Even the trees look sleepy."). He’s learned how to tie his shoes and, with a little help, make it out the door to the bus stop on time. We assume he also learns things at school. Very soon we expect he’ll learn about Santa Claus there.

Our house goes as Kate goes and 2006 was better than expected. Kate turned three in March and entered what we like to call her “Happy Period” about that time as well. That seems to be over now and even during the Happy Period Kate could not be mistaken for a normal child. While she can be as sweet as Connor in short bursts her “default disposition” would not-exactly be characterized as that of a “people person”. For example: "Why are you squeezing my body mother?" "It's called a hug, Kate.” Her social skills already rival Eric’s and that had Eric eagerly anticipating Kate’s entrance to Happy House pre-school this year. Eric had visions of teachers spoiled by three years of Connor ending-up in therapy after two months of Kate. So far her schooling has been amazingly uneventful and perhaps it’s the case that she only wants to torture those closest to her. More likely, though, she’s just biding her time. I’m sure no other three year can make the phrase “I’m just waiting for the right opportunity” sound as ominous as Kate can. While raising Kate provides a unique set of challenges there are some (minor) advantages. For example, no movie-induced nightmares. When asked if she likes movies, Kate replied “Yes, especially very scary ones.” Oh, why do you like scary movies Kate? “They just make me feel good inside.” She remains a big fan of “The Wizard of Oz” though for a while she was very unhappy with Dorothy (for bumping-off the Wicked Witch of the East . . . she thinks the movie would have been much better with two naughty witches) leading to the “Don’t Blame Dorothy” campaign here. The whole house-thing was an accident after all. Sometimes Kate, an avid dancer and optimistic vocalist, will put on her own shows. She will dress-up as a princess-ballerina and demand the attention of all. Just this week she gave a show, beginning with the opening announcement: “Ladies and gentleman, prepare to meet your doom.” We mention this hoping that someone can reassure us that she heard the phrase elsewhere. Kate seems to have developed a strange appreciation of dead things, whether it's a dead fish, a dead butterfly (she keeps a collection of dead bugs on her dresser) or parts of dead things the cats leave about. Could an exorcism cause that? When given a piece of putty at Ellen's office Kate described her sculpture to one of Ellen’s co-workers who was probably trying to humor the sweet little girl by asking her what she was making. Kate’s answer: "It's a frog. A dead frog." When asking Eric to hold one of her dolls, "You can have this one daddy. It's not a doll. It's a real baby that passed-away." Eric didn’t ask how she passed-away, but if it was the same doll Ellen reported Kate punching in the kitchen he has a pretty good idea. Ellen tried to intervene on the doll’s behalf but Kate had a firm theoretical grip on the situation: “It’s just a doll, mommy.” Odd that she realizes that then wants to nurture one lovingly for 30 minutes before putting it in the oven. Corporal punishment has its place (Kate disciplines her dolls), but capital punishment, apparently, also has its place. This is probably a sign of something. So, while 2006 was better than 2005, leading indicators are mixed. Eric and Ellen, however, remain cautiously optimistic.

If you read this far you deserve a cookie. Or a beer. You can have either, heck, you can have both. 2007 Gathering will be Saturday, October 6th. Mark your calendars. You are invited.

Wishing you a happy holiday season and an interesting year,

Eric, Ellen, Connor and Kate

Holiday Letter 2005

December 2005

Friends-

Holiday Greetings from Elmira, New York where we are all beginning to appreciate Global Warming. With only a handful of shopping days remaining in the year we have so far been uninterrupted by those interesting events that sometimes seem to make time pass more slowly. That's not say that the only variety we have is of the "what's for dinner?" kind. It's not even to say that the best variety we have is of the "what's for dinner?" kind. It's just that most of the variety we have that can't be placed on a menu is in the form of the loud noises Connor and Kate make when expressing themselves. A year has past since we last wrote, but things are very much the same here. Connor and Kate are growing . . . but still small. Eric's office is progressing . . . but still unfinished. Our sand and gravel piles are shrinking . . . but still there. Ellen's sister went away . . . but came back.

Death and taxes may be unavoidable for the unimaginative, but our constants here are construction and noise. Construction is a constant, at least when the definition of the word is expanded to include a project that has had some work done, needs more work done, but is not currently having work done. We have (almost) completed a bathroom renovation this year and our downstairs has experienced some major . . . changes. The noise here is enough to have almost driven Eric from the house. After six years of isolation in the house, Eric was feeling a little too unisolated and felt it necessary to rent an office in a not-too-distant building. The noise has not yet been bad enough to force Eric to actually go and occupy it. Yes, Eric has been renting an office in downtown Elmira for 6 months. In it is a desk, a chair . . . but no Eric.

We did manage a week long family vacation. A trip to the Outer Banks with some of Ellen's nudist friends. Thirteen hours in the car. Each way. With Kate. This was an experience that could have put the entire family into therapy for years, but with a few little tricks that can't be committed to permanent record we managed to get through the drive with a "It could have been worse" perspective. The stay in the Outer Banks was rather enjoyable, but you may ask how such a thing happened after Eric swore-off traveling with his youngest child. Trickery. Ellen used the time-honored trick of asking Eric many months in advance. Or, Ellen told Eric that he agreed to go on the trip many months prior. One of the two. Eric won't fall for that one again. Of course, Ellen is a special kind of sneaky and will probably trick Eric into another family trip before the children are shipped off to boarding school. We know Ellen is a special kind of sneaky because Kate must get it from somewhere.

The kids are doing well. Connor is, for the most part, a kind, gentle, considerate, polite, affectionate and caring person. At 3 am, when he often comes to visit us, he's always ready with a "could you make room for one more?" or an "I'm very pleased to see you guys". Clearly he gets all of this from his mother. Connor, however, is consistently exhibiting one piece of behavior that indicates he may not be as bright as we once thought . . . he continues to tease his sister. Everyone else seems to recognize this as a bad idea for reasons other than it violating the inviolate rule "Don't tease your sister". The tables are going to turn here. Soon. And while Connor is a kind, gentle, considerate, polite, affectionate and caring person; Kate is not. Recently, when a commercial interrupted "The Wizard of Oz", Kate became upset because she wanted "the naughty witch to come back". Our two year old's idol? The Wicked Witch of the West.

Kate turned two this year. And, for a long time, that's all this note had to offer about Kate. Kate poses a dilemma. On the one hand, we would like to mention our youngest child. On the other hand, we don't want to speak ill of our youngest child. And when we say "speak" we mean "leave any discernable evidence that Kate may later find". Lying was an option, but only one of Eric and Ellen had no reservations about lying to the recipients of this letter (those being our friends and Ellen's family). So let us leave it at this: more than one person has suggested an exorcism. If Kate does not follow in the footsteps of Lex Luther, Professor Moriarty or Dr. Evil we will consider it a major accomplishment. Raising an evil genius can be a challenge for any parent.

Wishing you a happy holiday season and an interesting new year,


Eric, Ellen, Connor & Kate

Holiday Letter 2004

December 2004

Friends-

Holiday Greetings from Elmira, New York, where The Home School Experiment has begun. The fact that Connor is not yet reading is causing some difficulties, but it makes deciding what to teach first pretty easy. With the help of educational TV and videos Eric figures this home schooling thing will take about two hours a day of Eric's time. Ellen is skeptical, but Eric has spent even less time than that so far.

A pleasingly uninteresting year on the home front. No car accidents, no foster children, no new babies. We even skipped our annual summer gathering. We did have Ellen's sister Monica here for a long, long, long time. The extra dishes to wash and the occasional errand Ellen does for her sister have been a boon in helping to fill Ellen's free time.

Ellen seems to be interested in home improvement again, so changes are happening. A second floor bathroom awaits its fate. The shed out back is becoming (in the loosest sense of the word "becoming", but the phrase "awaiting the arrival of a contractor who apparently has better things to do until the weather warms before becoming" seemed awkward as anything other than a parenthetical remark) a playhouse. Eric's office is getting closer to completion. The stained glass windows, completed in 2002 (and started before recorded history), are now installed. For those of you keeping score at home you may note that Eric's office project began in 2001. Our 2002 Holiday greeting noted that piles of sand and gravel cluttered our parking lot and that an old stone barbecue was being . . . improved. Still working on those.

The kids are doing well. After an extremely needy first six months, Kate has become very independent. Scarily independent. We are still waiting on Connor to become independent. Kate is out of the closet in the maid's quarters (the house has a maid's suite - the house does not have a maid), which served Connor well before her, and into her own room. Not much to say about Kate as you really have to be near her to appreciate her. Actually, you need to be near her when she's in a good mood to appreciate her; otherwise the best you can do is appreciate Ellen a little bit more. There will be no family roadtrips in 2005 as Eric and Kate don't travel well together. Since we won't be traveling and Kate is best appreciated in person, everyone who reads this should come and visit. Anytime works for us.

As Kate continues to test Ellen's sense of humor, Connor continues to demonstrate his. We have dozens of amusing Connor anecdotes, but here are two little ones. Sometime early in 2004, before Connor turned three, Kate was crawling on the floor in the kitchen after Oliver the cat. Eric said "Connor, don't chase Oliver" to Kate. Connor looked-up, puzzled and Eric, realizing his mistake, said "I called Kate 'Connor'; but, don't worry, I can tell you two apart." Connor, without missing a beat, replied: "Why did you call Kate 'Connor', Connor? Ha, ha Daddy. I called you 'Connor'". Over the summer, Monica's friend Tracey came to visit for a couple of days. She laid down on Connor's bed and made the claim, "This is my bed now". Connor, after determining that Tracey wasn't moving soon and assessing his prospects for physically moving her, quickly turned it into a battle of wits and said: "I wouldn't touch that pillow with my head Miss Tracey. I get chunks out of my nose and wipe them on the pillow." As Tracey jumps out of the bed Connor hops in with a "Ha, ha. Just kidding Miss Tracey."

Wishing you a happy holiday season and an interesting new year,

Eric, Ellen, Connor & Kate

Holiday Letter 2003

December 2003

Friends-

Holiday Greetings from Elmira, New York, home of the Mark Twain Country Club, Mark Twain Inn, Mark Twain Museum and Mark Twain grave site. It's also the home of Kate Holland Hanson. Kate, born on March 11th, is happy, healthy, bright and has the largest wardrobe ever amassed by an infant. Kate now has more clothes than Eric has had in his entire life. She also has a head of comic proportions. And we mean that in the nicest way possible.

For this year I can simply cut and paste an entire paragraph from last year's letter:

Home ownership continues to take a toll on us. Our parking lot has a large pile of sand and a large pile of gravel - remnants of a stone walkway project started in May. The adventure was put on hold when our stone-walkway-builder took off for Hollywood. Roughly 30 feet of the 160 proposed feet of walkways have been completed. Trenches criss-cross our back yard making night-time volleyball dangerous and croquet impossible. Also, the stone barbeque in the back yard is half demolished as part of what also promises to be a long-term . . . something. The proper word eludes us at the moment. We had hoped to report that Eric's office remodeling project had been completed, 2 years and 8 months after it was started, but it is still not quite there. It is close enough to completion that Eric has been relocated back up to the attic, doubling the distance of his morning commute (not to mention his distance from the kitchen). The contractors will have to work around him the rest of the way. Next on Eric's list is converting the entire basement into a rec room. A bar, pool table, race track, foosball, pinball, home theatre - the works. Ellen's list may vary slightly. For those of you scoring at home you may have noticed that these two sentences also appeared in last year's Holiday note. Eric’s list is not the one we are working off of.

Aside from Kate we didn't actually accomplish much on the home front this year.

Finally, for those of you trying to keep up with Connor's exploits it's best to visit the website (www.logicaloperator.com/hanson/ - the www.newyorklogic.com/hanson/ site should be back up eventually) frequently. As an added attraction, Eric is working on a page for the website listing all of the great reasons to come to New York's Southern Tier and, perhaps, stop by our place. In his second year Connor has now learned his colors (at least the ten he needs if he does not pursue a career as an interior designer), added a couple of trips to Philadelphia and one to Nantucket to his growing list of adventures, figured out the counting thing up to six ("None, two, tree, four, five, six, many." Seven seems a ways off now, but I'm sure it will be here before we know it), memorized a few books, awarded Ellen three separate nicknames and been photographed an additional 1017 times by Ellen. He still doesn't have a girlfriend, has demonstrated some odd compulsive behavior and has shown no desire to get a job and move out of the house. We may be stuck with him forever.

Wishing you a happy holiday season and an interesting year,

Eric, Ellen, Connor & Kate

Holiday Letter 2002

December 2002

Friends-

Holiday Greetings from Elmira, New York, home of the country’s oldest natural pine wreath (please see last year’s note). We have grown a year wiser here, assuming, of course, that wisdom can be measured in years. Most of Eric's new found wisdom comes in the parenting department. Things that Ellen seemed to be aware of going in have come a little slower to Eric. This will surprise very few of you.

Little nuggets of wisdom recently acquired include:

  • A toddler should not be given a bat in the kitchen. Or a broom.
  • A little boy --this may apply to little girls as well-- with a bowl of oatmeal should never be left unattended - not even in a highchair. The highchair, in fact, only increases his range.
  • Children will cry. Try and enjoy the sound. Temper tantrums can be amusing if you just get in the right frame of mind.
  • All over-the-counter sedatives say "Do not to give to children under age 2". Eric still thinks it was worth checking.
  • Nothing teaches "safety-first" like a good fall.
  • Socks can be kept on with duct tape. Who would have thought?

Home ownership continues to take a toll on us. Our parking lot has a large pile of sand and a large pile of gravel - remnants of a stone walkway project started in May. The adventure was put on hold when our stone-walkway-builder took off for Hollywood. Roughly 30 feet of the 160 proposed feet of walkways have been completed. Trenches criss-cross our back yard making night-time volleyball dangerous and croquet impossible. Also, the stone barbeque in the back yard is half demolished as part of what also promises to be a long-term . . . something. The proper word eludes us at the moment. We had hoped to report that Eric's office remodeling project had been completed, 2 years and 8 months after it was started, but it is still not quite there. It is close enough to completion that Eric has been relocated back up to the attic, doubling the distance of his morning commute (not to mention his distance from the kitchen). The contractors will have to work around him the rest of the way. Next on Eric's list is converting the entire basement into a rec room. A bar, pool table, race track, foosball, pinball, home theatre - the works. Ellen's list may vary slightly. For those of you scoring at home you may have noticed that these two sentences also appeared in last year's Holiday note. Eric’s list is not the one we are working off of.

Before we forget - Ellen is six months pregnant with what appears to be a girl (at least to those people familiar with looking at sonograms of what vaguely resembles a small person curled into a ball) and we are having a bit of trouble agreeing on a name so we would appreciate everyone weighing in on these choices:

  • Sophia Holland Hanson, "Sophie"
  • Molly Kate Hanson, "Molly" or "Kate"
  • Katherine Claire Hanson, "Kate"
  • Claire Holland Hanson, "Claire"
  • Alix Shea Hanson, "Ali" or "Alix"
  • Madeline Claire Hanson, “Maddie” (After our neighbor’s dog.)
  • Molly Catherine Hanson, “Molly” or “Cate”

Finally, for those of you trying to keep up with Connor's exploits it's best to visit the website (www.newyorklogic.com/hanson/) frequently. As an added attraction, Eric is working on a page for the website listing all of the great reasons to come to New York's Southern Tier and, perhaps, stop by our place. In his second year Connor has now learned his colors (at least the ten he needs if he does not pursue a career as an interior designer), added a couple of trips to Philadelphia and one to Nantucket to his growing list of adventures, figured out the counting thing up to six ("None, two, tree, four, five, six, many." Seven seems a ways off now, but I'm sure it will be here before we know it), memorized a few books, awarded Ellen three separate nicknames and been photographed an additional 1017 times by Ellen. He still doesn't have a girlfriend, has demonstrated some odd compulsive behavior and has shown no desire to get a job and move out of the house. We may be stuck with him forever.

Wishing you a happy holiday season and an interesting year,

Eric, Ellen & Connor