Monday, February 27, 2006

My Two Boys

I had a very exciting father and sons moment this weekend which both surprised me and showed me just how wonderfully my two boys are growing up.

Jacob’s been doing Conductive Education again, and this time around has had some good accomplishments. The most notable is his ability to sit up on the floor, supporting himself with only his hands on the floor. He’s been able to do that for a much longer time than ever before, sometimes as much as ten, fifteen or even more minutes.

So, we were over at a friend’s house last night for dinner, and as everyone divided up into conversations, I found myself as the lone grownup, on the floor with my two boys. Brendon wanted to play me a game of chess. So, he pulled out the board and started setting up the pieces. I didn’t really know if he even new how to play. He’d said that our friend, Mitchell, had shown him how all the pieces moved. OK, well, let’s give it a shot, right?

I scooted Jacob up to be near us, and sat him up, cross-legged by the board, then I, on my tummy, and my head near Jake, started setting up the pieces with Brendon.

Brendon and I started the game, and he played pretty well. I was really surprised. I would stop and talk about the moves a lot, and I offered to let him change his moves from time to time, but I was shocked at how well he understood the game!

And all this while, Jacob was playing with me. For a while, he was leaning his head down and bonking it into mine, then giggling and saying, “Bonk!” The cool thing about that was that he was doing it and maintaining his balance at the same time. At one point he lifted his arms up and said, “Look! No hands!” Then he put his hands back into their position for holding himself up.

The first part of this year has been very difficult for us, and it was a real struggle to bring Conductive Ed in this time. But when I see Jacob doing things like that, it’s all worth it. And It’s a joy to see Brendon tackling things that I think should be too hard for him, and doing well at them. I’m very lucky to be their dad!

Mark Hansen

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

As a man who’s wife is an avid scrapbooker, and as one who (I admit) has dabbled a little myself (digitally), I find it interesting when I hear ladies say they wish their men were more involved in it with them. Frankly, what comes to mind first is the phrase, “Be careful what you ask for, you just might get it…”

But nonetheless, there’s been some talk lately about men and scrapbooking. Some I’ve talked with have wanted to make more “masculine” layouts for your husbands’ and sons’ pictures, others wonder how to involve their men more in their hobby. I feel like I’m in a very unique position to offer some real insights. So, I was asked to comment. So, with that in mind, I offer...

Some Thoughts on Men and Scrapbooking

How to Involve Your Men

...Don’t! Or at least beware...

First of all, you have to realize that scrapbooking is terrifying to most men. It’s YOUR world, not his. Look around your scrapping space in your house, especially if you’re into traditional, not just digital scrapbooking. If you’re anything like my wife, it will be filled with ribbons, bows, flowers, vivid colors, and all things “cute”, “darling”, and “special”. Look at your binders of finished pages. Are they covered in padded fabric, lined with lace, and closed with ribbon ties? You might have patterns and punches of teddy bears and hearts.

Trust me, you couldn’t scare him away more if you hung up crosses and wore garlic around your neck.

Now I’m not saying you should change that. That’s YOUR space, after all. He has his space, cluttered and murky as it might be, and you have yours. That’s fine. Just realize why he keeps his distance.

If you want him to be more interested, to involve him, here’s some ways to make it “safer” for him to approach.

One: Scrap his life

We men are very egotistical. We try to be selfless, but down inside, we are driven to feel important. I know I’m generalizing, but most layouts I’ve seen women do seem to focus on their children. That’s not surprising, and it’s certainly not wrong, but if you want to catch your husband’s interest, get some pictures of him doing what he loves to do and scrap that. Focus on him, and he’ll be interested.

And when you do that, scrap with care. Think, “Dignified”, not “darling”; “Cool”, not “cute”. Do simple layouts that focus on the pictures and the story. Few embellishments, if any. NO BOWS, BUTTONS, OR TAGS! NONE! Resist the urge. Flowers are also forbidden!

Let me tell you an embarrassing story, if you promise not to laugh too loud. Last year, my wife’s friends did us some real favors for our disabled child. They helped raise some big money for a special physical therapy program. They put in a lot of work. Wonderful people. In return, my wife wanted to do something very nice for them. She decided she wanted to give them all pedicures (my wife is also a cosmetologist). Since I have some artistic skill with a brush, she asked me to paint things on their toenails. After much begging and pleading, I finally agreed (wives can do that to their husbands).

Well, we did it, and they loved it and all was good and right in the world until months later, I saw one of the lady’s scrapbooks. She had enjoyed it so much that she had scrapped her pictures of the event. And there I was, permanently enshrined in her memory book, painting toenails, my manly image surrounded by dozens of pink and orange flowers and stripes!


I couldn’t have felt more emasculated than if she’d come at me with a rusty knife! I’m gonna be in therapy for years! Let that be a warning to you!

So, scrap him doing his things, in ways that he might even appreciate, and he will naturally be more interested.

Two: Get him to help with the journaling.

He might not have any clue as to what papers to choose, or how to arrange things on the page, but he can tell you the stories that will get you good journaling.

Sometimes, however, with us guys, it can be difficult to get it out of us. Imagine: A dad and his son come back from a fishing trip with some buddies. You ask: “How was the trip.” Father and son smile at each other, grunt out a chuckle, and say, “Great”, and “Yeah, it was fun.” Then they go and start cleaning up or gutting the fish.

Not much to go on, right?

So, when you get the pictures out of the cameras, and you’re looking at them together, ask better questions. “How did you catch that one?”, looking at your son holding up a huge trout. He might say, “That was a tough one to bring in! We had to…” bla bla bla… And suddenly, you have a story. “That was the one where Joe capsized his boat! Man he was soaked!” You get the idea. Ask him questions that can’t be answered by “yes”, “no”, or “grunt”.

If you’re really adventurous, and he’s been warmed up to it over the months, you could even show him an almost finished layout and ask him to help you write the journaling.

Three: Some things NOT to do

Don’t show him two color schemes and ask him which is better. Most men can’t even pick a tie that matches. I’m doing well if my socks come from the same side of the color wheel.

If, by some miracle, he does get involved, be careful how you show it off. Telling your friends is one thing. Showing the layouts to his friends while they’re watching a football game is another.

Don’t pressure him to sit down and do it with you. You might never get that far. And realize that if you do, you might have to go fishing or actually be interested in the football game with him. Turnabout is fair play, after all…

Mark Hansen

Wednesday, February 01, 2006


So, is Georgie still Republican? I caught the last half of the State of the Union pep talk – er… I mean… Address, and was really surprised.

I missed all the stuff about the war and Iran, and Hamas, and all. So I can’t really comment on that.

But I found it very interesting that he’s suddenly drifting so centrist as to propose bold new initiatives that sound remarkably like things the Democrats have been pushing for years. Affordable healthcare, programs for the needy, good education budgets, and even the old oil-man himself said that America needs to develop alternative fuels and be free of our dependence on middle-eastern oil.

Well, talk is talk, and we’ll see what he actually does. Feel-good speeches without specific plans can be little more than empty air.

But it also comes at a time when our Republican-ruled state legislature, with about a one billion dollar SURPLUS is considering a budget that would actually CUT funding to programs serving the disabled, like DSPD and Early Intervention. Let me say that again: With a budget SURPLUS, they’re CUTTING funding.

Maybe the Reps should take a clue from their supreme leader…

Mark Hansen


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