Thursday, December 27, 2007


Contest Update -- There is still time to enter my first blog contest. The prize is $100. The first 100 dollars of my ad revenue. All you have to do is enter in the comments sections of the Fifth Post of Christmas (You have until midnight on Dec 31, 2007 to enter or amend your entry.) I will go off the last entry before 2008 as your official one. As it stands right now, the dollar amount is $22.93.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

The 12th Post of Christmas

Oh what a wonderful Christmas morning we have had. I am posting now before the whole family arrives for our FIRST OFFICIAL Hanis Family Reunion. They are all coming to our house to spend the night. We are having a Rook tournament, Grandpa is taking the grandkids fishing, lots of food, lots of fun, and probably a little crying (with that many little kids around -- things are bound to happen.)

But here are some of the highlights of our Morning.

  • The Tower of Disney. We told the kids we were all going to Disneyworld. We are leaving early Friday morning. They are ecstatic. The tower had gifts for all of them that "apply" to Disney. (3 sets of matching shirts, matching Pj's, matching Fleece jackets, Princess stickers, and autograph books). The autograph books were the best. I used pictures from our last trip to Disneyland and made a small paperback book for each kid using my favorite software, Picaboo. Check out the book by clicking on this link.

  • My big gifts this year were a new Honda Odyssey and a new stroller (the Joovy ultralight caboose.) They are both going to make this Disney world trek much more enjoyable.
  • Another theme this year was camera's. Santa brought Julianne and Catherine their very own digital cameras. They have been documenting the world ever since and I am sure they are close to starting their own blogs. (Jamie also got a new camera and tripod -- nothing fancy-- a sony cybershot)
  • Madelyn got a new bike.
  • Adam got trains, balls, and cars.
  • Trent got a suit, shirts, and ties (because someone has to work to support us!)
  • He and I both got Nike Plus to help us on our new year resolutions. So expect to see our running logs appear on the blog just as soon as we start running!

We feel extremely blessed. Our kids had such a fun morning. Merry Christmas to all and to all a good blog.

Monday, December 24, 2007

The Eleventh Post of Christmas

Well, I don't know how on earth I will be able to control my kids behavior after tomorrow. Today, all I have to do is say, "Santa is watching. I am sure he wouldn't mind if his sleigh were a little emptier." They pretty much immediately conform. It is a nice little perk for parents this time of year.

We had a big family party last night with another family we all grew up with. It was a lot of fun. I asked everyone to submit their favorite memories from years past. We played charades acting them out. It was pretty funny for all of us (except the married into's). They did not know any of them. Here are a few of the favorites.

1. When playing Balderdash, my brother defined one of the words, "the stuff that comes out of Sister Talbot's nose." (needless to say, nobody picked his definition)

2. My Dad's homemade editing on Top Gun. He personally removed all offensive words and replaced them with his own (shoot, drat, and the favorite . . . CRIMINEY)

3. When Amber flushed down Minnie Mouse at the Talbot's home.

4. When Shad strategically broke a ketchup bottle in such a precise way that it went everywhere (and I do mean everywhere!)

5. When we went to a beach house with both families and started to play Scattergories. Carrie then puked all over the table and game. The game has since then been called ScatterDINNER.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

The tenth post of Christmas

We went to a party last night. Trent and I won the "newlywed game"

Here are our Questions and Answers . . .

Questions asked to jamie

1. What is your favorite family tradition?
(jamie's answer) -- Pizza and a movie (trent's answer) -- "we don't have any traditions!"

2. What is your spouse's favorite Christmas movie?
(jamie's answer) -- Christmas Vacation (trent's answer) -- Christmas vacation

3. What is the most annoying thing about your husbands family at the holidays?
(jamie's answer) -- I love being with his family, but I hate the possessive term his mom uses -- as in "it's MY Christmas this year" (trent's answer) -- when my mom calls it HER christmas

4. What is the worst gift your spouse ever got you?
(jamie's answer) -- nothing (trent's answer)-- Socks

5. True or False "I am better at picking out a gift for my husband than he is picking out a gift for me."
(jamie's answer) -- false (trent's answer) -- false

So for that portion we got 3 right!!!!!

Trent's questions
1. What would you be doing if you weren't here at the Richard's lame party? (that is an exact quote of what York said -- for the record - the party was not lame)
(trent's answer) -- watching BYU football (jamie's answer) -- watching BYU football

2. What is your wife's favorite Christmas song?
(trent's answer) -- anything but Jingle bell Rock (jamie's answer) -- NOT Jingle bell Rock

3. What is your favorite Christmas memory?
(trent's answer) -- Disney trips with Grandparents (jamie's answer) -- Disney trips

4. What do you hate the most about the Christmas season?
(trent's answer) -- Shopping, the crowds (jamie's answer) -- wrapping presents

5. True or False. I am more in touch with what my kids' want for Christmas than my wife.
(trent's answer) -- false (jamie's answer) -- false

Then we got 4 right on his section for 7 correct answers total!!! Yeah!!!!

I guess after 11 1/2 years of marriage we know a few things right -- or we at least know what would be the most likely response the other would say so that we could win.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

The ninth post of Christmas

The kids got out of school yesterday (Friday). This morning at 10 a.m. Catherine wailed, "This is going to be soooooooooooooooooo hard, this winter break. I miss school soooooooooooooooo much. What are we going to doooooooooooooo?"

It might be a very very long Christmas break.

Catherine said another funny thing when we went to HEB this morning. It was absolutely packed. There were sherriff's directing traffic in front and hardly a parking spot to be found. As we were leaving in the van we turned up an aisle to head for the exit. The woman in front of us was searching for a parking space. She stopped as a (kind of old and kind of slow and kind of round) woman with a huge cart full of groceries opened the trunk of her car. And there she waited (blocking traffic) for this lady to unload all of her groceries. In the mean time, 6 parking places became available on our aisle. The closest one being only 3 spaces further down. But the car in front of me made no motion towards any of these other spots and continued to wait and wait and wait for the full-cart woman to finish the unloading, close the trunk and get in the car. The moment finally arrived. The car door closed. The brake lights turned on. And last but most important of all the reverse lights came on. BUT, the waiting car had gotten too close to the parked car and the parked car could not get out of her spot. So the car in front of me whips into reverse. I start honking (something I rarely do). Does she not see me??? Is she going to hit me????? I can't go in reverse (as I glance in the rearview and see the line of 4 other cars waiting). I honk again and she is still coming toward me. Each of us in the line are now in reverse and slowly each one is backing up and then finally I can back up and then finally the ordeal is over. We proceed to exit (passing all the newly emptied parking spaces) When Catherine comments, "Mom that was crazy, she waited and waited to be able to park next to that green car when there was the same green car next to a different empty space.

Apparently in Catherine's interpretation of events, she had decided that the woman just had to park next to this green car. Perhaps it was her favorite color??? Perhaps it had the fanciest wheels??? Who knows???? Kids' interpretations of events are always so interesting to me.

As for me, I just hope I am never so lazy that I will wait and wait and wait all for the sake of saving 15 extra steps on the way to the grocery.

Friday, December 21, 2007

The eighth post of Christmas

I made 4 batches of Toffee today with Amy. They are yummy. I have tried many toffee recipes . . . this is the easiest and best.

2 sticks cold (not melted) salted butter

1 1/4 cups sugar

1/4 tsp cream of tartar

good chocolate (either chips or a grated bar -- I use about 1/2 a bag of chips)

Nuts (optional -- about a 1/2 cup -- I like them chopped finely in a blender

  1. In a Heavy Saucepan (I use a cast iron one -- I had mixed results with a lighter weight pan) melt the butter and sugar over high heat, stirring constantly with a wire whisk.
  2. When bubble start to form around the edge add the cream of tartar (keep stirring)
  3. Keep stirring.
  4. Keep stirring.
  5. Just when your arm cannot go on any longer from fatigue and also because things are really starting to get hot the mixture will start to darken in color slightly. When it reaches a tan stage (probably about 5 minutes of good stirring) Pour it out onto lightly buttered foil on top of a heat safe surface.
  6. Pour the chocolate on top and let it sit for a few minutes. The chocolate will melt and then spread it.
  7. Put the nuts on next (if you want them) and then let it cool for a couple of hours. Break into pieces and serve.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

The seventh post of Christmas

Well, I am totally out of technological helps so I will have to return you to the saga of my crazy life.

Running at 5 am sucks. I only do it for a few reasons.
  1. to get the exercise out of the way early in the day
  2. I know that my other crazy running partner will be waiting for me.

I have had many early morning running partners. It is quite a bit of a commitment to agree to get up out of bed and do this. There is a certain amount of trust involved. Right now I have been trying out a new running partner and frankly, it is not working out. My regular running partner's husband travels a fair bit and so when he is out of town we cannot go running. So I met another woman through my kid's school and she expressed an interest in running in the morning so I thought I would give it a try.

The very first morning we met it was raining. As a general rule, if it is raining in the morning I get right back in bed, my other running friends know this too. We don't call each other, we don't text each other. We just stay at our own houses and get a day off. But as this was a new running friend, we had not laid down all the rules and I was worried she might actually show up in the freezing rain and think I ditched her. So I got dressed and headed out and sure enough she was there and she wanted to run (WHY????) and so I ran, in the freezing cold rain. It was awful. I have now explained to her that if it is raining, I don't run. Since that day we have attempted to meet several more times. She has never been there again. One day, she must have come early, waited a little while and then headed home. We must have just missed each other. She got home and called my cell phone (the time was 5:22 a.m. -- we meet at 5:15 and she lives a half mile from the meeting point). She did not wait very long.

Now the reason I am writing about this is this morning she and I were supposed to meet. I should tell you that last night was a Christmas party for Trent's work. It was at Churrasco's (yummy, yummy). We had a great time and did not get home until midnight. At which point I had to take the babysitter home. The whole time I was wondering why I agreed to run the next morning. But as I knew she would be diligently waiting, I dragged my still full belly out of bed and got dressed and . . .


So I went all the way to her house. I even knocked on the door.

I don't think this running relationship is going to last.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The Sixth Post of Christmas

I have a statcounter on my blog and I thought today I would tell you about it. First let me just say this. . .

It is really amazing the things you can find out. For example it tracks for me how many page loads, unique visitors, and returning visitors I have everyday and I get a cool graph to look at.

I am cheap so I don't pay for it to store more than 500 entries, which means that a lot of the unique visitors are probably returning visitors, but it has been more than 500 page loads since they last visited so I don't have a record of it anymore. (Also, it blocks my ISP address, so that all of my visits don't skew the results.) On my actual blog, I report total visitors with a little counter. But there is so much more to statcounter than just this . . . OH SO MUCH MORE!!!!

For each individual visitor I can see this. . .

AMAZING huh??? I can see their city and state, I know if they are a MAC or PC user. I know how big their screen is. I can follow their navigation route and see exactly what they looked at and how long they looked at it. I can see what page referred them to my site and what page they left from my site. Check out this .. . . it is a map of all my recent visitors.

But my favorite tool of all is the keyword search info. This lets me know how people find my site using search engines and what they search for. Here is my keyword analysis for today . . .

Isn't that cool? 31 people found my site using search engines. Most of them searching for things related to Hannah Montana Cakes. If I were smart I would start selling them. I could probably sell 20 a day. But then I wouldn't have time to blog, so they will just have to make their own.

So, add a statcounter, you'll be glad!

Monday, December 17, 2007

The Fifth post of Christmas & the first CONTEST on my blog

Now some of you may have noticed that I added ads to my blog. I did it for 2 main reasons.

First I love the blog called pioneer woman that I told you about a couple posts ago -- and she has ads and she does contests and gives away great prizes. She commented that it was because she doesn't want to make money from her blog and it is funner to give it away. I started wondering if I could make any money so that I could give away prizes.

Second, I was just curious how they work, how much do you get for doing absolutely nothing at all.

It works like this, you put the ads on, and you get paid. They won't cut you a check until you have made $100. So this is the reason for the first contest. (It is also a shameless bid to generate comments from all 3 of my faithful readers) (Or maybe there are more of you out there????)

To enter the contest, simply predict the month and year in which I will get my first $100 check. To help you in selecting the time frame I will let you know that after 8 weeks of having ads on my blog I have earned a WHOPPING $2.75. (impressive isn't it???) Also I think you get paid about 20 cents per 500 page loads and about 20 cents per click on a link. (and I cannot click on them).

Now here is the fun part . . . the prize (which of course may be years away) will be $100. If no one guesses the month and year correctly then I will get to keep the money for some other contest which I have not thought of yet.

The Rules . . . Only 1 entry per person. All entries must be recieved before 2008.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

The fourth post of Christmas

How to make a "screen shot". On my few most recent posts I have shown my actual computer screen as a picture on the post. It is pretty easy to do this and I will show you how. First you need to get your computer screen to look exactly like you want it to. Then, find the Print screen button on your keyboard. (mine is abbreviated prt sc). Sometimes you may have to hold down a shift key or a fn key as the print screen key may be shared with other keys. Push it. You will notice nothing at all happens.

Now go to your start menu. Click on start, or the window symbol. Choose All programs, then accessories, then paint. Once paint opens. Press ctrl V. And you should see your screen shot that you took above open into paint. You may then crop it to show only what you really want. When you have it done. Save it (make sure to save it as a .jpeg) and then it is a picture you can use on your blog or when showing someone how to do something. It is especially useful if you are ever teaching a class on computer programs or blogging. Some people need to actually see the screen to be able to understand.

Once in paint you can draw arrows, add text, change colors, spray paint graffiti and do whatever else you may want. The possibilities are endless. Check out what I did.

(also -- you can click on the picture to make it bigger)

Friday, December 14, 2007

The third post of Christmas

I must say a lot of you have asked how to make the photo collage that was on our Christmas letter. So here is how. First, you need the photo software PICASA. The good news is that it is free. It is great. It is easy. Click on Picasa and you can download it. Picasa is made by google. It's big strengths are that it searches constantly for new pictures on your computer (in fact it may even find ones you thought were long lost), it is easy to use, and it is super compatible with email (if you have a gmail account) and blogger (if you have a blogger blog). When you open picasa, it will search for all your photos and then look like this.

You then select photos 1 at a time (making sure to edit and crop them how you want it). When selected they appear in the tray (the white space in the lower left of the screen). If you want to continue working with a photo you click on hold.

Now, here is the thing when doing a picture grid collage. They are square, and each photo in them will be square and so you need to crop each photo to be a square (if you don't do it, then the computer will do it for you and you may end up with the important parts cropped out). Don't worry though, one nice thing about picasa is that any edits do not change your original and you can always select "undo all edits" and get back to a standard size.

The other important thing about a square picture grid is that it holds 4 (2x2), 9(3x3), 16 (4x4), and 25 (5x5) photos (I am sure you can do more, but that is the biggest I have done. If you do not have enough photos to make the square complete it will duplicate photos to finish it off.

In this next screen shot, you will see 4 photos selected and then I clicked on collage, chose picture grid, and it made it.

If you like the collage, hit create. If you need to change it, click cancel. Hope that helps! It really is very, very easy to do.

The second post of Christmas

As I was showing you yesterday, most blogs I follow I read as feeds. But there are some blogs that I like to keep up with but don't need to know the minute they post. They are the ones where if I have an extra minute or two I might check in to see what is new but since they are strangers to me I don't feel compelled to know things in real time.

1. The Pioneer Woman and The Pioneer Woman Cooks -- This is the kind of blog I want to have. She posts about all sorts of random things. She likes photography and shares lots of neat little photoshop tricks. She tells about life on a working cattle ranch. She tells about life with 4 kids. I can relate. But the really fun part of her blog is the "sister" site, the pioneer woman cooks. Now, I love to read cooking magazines and cookbooks, but honestly I rarely actually try very many of their recipes. At the pioneer woman cooks I have tried many, many, many of her recipes. I like to think of it as Recipes for dummies. Each recipe is accompanied by not one, not two, but 40 or 50 photos depicting every single step in each recipe. You always feel like you could actually cook them. My very favorites have been Marlboro Man Sandwhiches, Pasta primavera, and spicy shrimp.

2. Because I said so -- This is the blog of a stay at home mother of 6 in chicago. She writes well and reminds me of Erma Bombeck. She is funny. She gained a lot of notoriety by selling a pack of pokemon cards on ebay. Click on it and read the seller's description, you'll see why I like her blog. She has been made famous because of the ebay thing. She has a book contract, has been on Good Morning America, and this week NPR. But her wit and humor in the face of trying to raise 6 good kids is alive and well.


Thursday, December 13, 2007

The first post of Christmas

On the first post of Christmas . . . I am posting about all my blogging friends. I don't have a links list on my blog because I track everyone through feeds. What are feeds you ask???? Well most blogs have the ability to send out new posts as soon as they are posted to anyone interested. If a blog has that ability it has this symbol on it. If you click on it, it will bring up the "feed" version of that blog. This version has all the important stuff, like links, photos, and text, but omits all the graphic elements (backgrounds, music, etc . . . ). It will ask you if you want to subscribe to this feed. If you select Yes then it will appear in your feed list.

Where is my feed list? Well, In internet explorer there is a little yellow star in the upper left hand corner. It looks like this . . .

If you click on the star, it opens a drop down menu with three headings, favorites, feeds, and history. Favorites is all the sites you have bookmarked. Feeds is all the sites you have subscribed to their feed and history shows you all the sites your computer has visited. (This is how you can spy see where other users have been on the internet -- like to make sure your teen or spouse or child is visiting only acceptable things.) If you click on feeds it will show you your list . . . mine looks something like this. . .

When on this drop down list, you can right click on any of your feeds and select "refresh all" The feed burner will then go by everyone of your subscription feeds and see if anyone has updated them. If they have been updated they turn bold. That way you can see in 2 seconds who has or hasn't updated their blog and then you can click on them and read the updated portion. This saves a PHENOMENAL amount of time. You don't have to keep clicking on people to see if they have made any updates. You don't get sucked into the blogstalking time drain where you just keep clicking and reading and clicking and reading and before you know it you have wasted an entire hour (or several hours, or day).
Anyway it works well for me. I can keep up with everyone I want in a very very very short amount of time.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Christmas Greetings

I sent out my Christmas cards today. Yes, I know it is only December 11. I am impressed too. But, I cheated. I emailed them. Yes, it is lame. Yes, I know many, many of you will be sad not to have a "real" one to post on your wall/fridge. But I gotta tell ya. . .

It totally rocks to do it this way.

  1. The ease of mailing. You click send.
  2. The affordability. It is free.
  3. You can send it to everyone (translation -- you don't have to be one of my closest and most personal friends to warrant a card -- I just have to know your email)
  4. The response. Many many of you hit reply and let me know what you are up to. I get a personal note in return.
  5. The fact that I can include 25 photos since I am incapable of narrowing it down to 1.

I am telling you. . . You gotta try it. . . You will never be the same.

And for those of you whose email I don't have, leave a comment and I will send a "personal" one to you. Or you can click on this link and see it for yourself.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

My little brother is famous!

He has been in the paper and on the news. His 5th grade class held a big press conference to let the world know the results from their survey on what toys would be the big hit this year for Christmas!

From the Houston Chronicle -- If you watch the video it is 23 seconds of my brother (Tyler Hanis)

At Channel 39
Video (Tyler is the first speaker -- they misspelled his last name Harris)

He was on all the other channels as well, but these 2 show him the most.

Christmas Memories

In getting ready for our annual Christmas Card/Newsletter/webpage/email hybrid. I got a little nostalgic and found all of our previous year's ones and posted them. (all that is except for 2003, which is MIA). Have a look . . . or not. . .

Sunday, December 2, 2007

No, Really, You open the door.

We were headed to the garage to put the freshly cleaned carseats (4 of them) into the new van. As I walked out the back door, Trent was holding 3 of the carseats and leaning against the fence. He said, "Here, why don't you get the door . . ."

He had nearly touched the tree frog and was just waiting to see if I would notice.

Thank goodness we could get in through the big garage door with the keypad, because we were just gonna let this guy take his own time!
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Snow, Sandals, and Santa

Our neighborhood has the cutest tradition. The Winter Festival. They bring in snow; hot chocolate, cookies, chips, lemonade, and water; and crafts (beads and pipe cleaners). They have Santa arrive on a fire truck with sirens blaring.

But best of all . . . it was 75 degrees outside and we were all in sandals and shorts. The kids kept saying, "The snow is cold."

Uh, yeah . . . it's SNOW.
They were all so cute.

Can you spot Julianne and Catherine?

Telling Santa all their wish lists. Madelyn asked for "lots of toys". I did not hear what Julianne and Catherine asked for, and as for me and Trent. . . well Santa came a little early with a new Honda odyssey for us.


It was too quiet. The too quiet that Moms know means trouble. I finally found him. I laughed (I knew they were washable markers and it was just the tile floor.) I took a few photos. I told my Mom. She said, "Don't laugh, the kids will think it is funny." Ha Ha Mom . . . whatever.

I told Trent. He said, "Did you throw all the markers away?" I said, "No, I just put them on the counter out of Adam's reach." He said, "Throw them away." I laughed and thought, "He is so over-reacting!" He said, "One of these days, it's gonna be permanent marker on the carpet or something. " Yeah, Yeah, . . . whatever.

20 Minutes Later. . . Catherine screams "Moooooooooooooooom! Get in here. Madelyn had given Adam the marker pail (again) but this time he repeated this little incident on my beautiful white berber carpet in my family room.




Listen to your mother. Don't laugh when your kids do something wrong, they will try to be "funny" again. And when your husband tells you to throw away 100 perfectly good markers. DO IT!!!!!!
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