Year in Review 2018

 - by Brittny


This was the year for family trips, it seems. In addition to a beachside camping trip down in Carpinteria followed by a half week in Las Vegas, we also spent an exciting week at Yosemite National Park and Bass Lake and we went to Disneyland for three days in the early fall, as well.

David (14 months) is still growing like crazy. He walks a little here and there, but he much prefers to be held by his Dad. He also speaks much clearer words now, though his vocabulary is limited to Ma-ma, Da-da, and Bye. His favorite things to do are to point at family pictures hanging on the walls of our house, playing dentist with any mouths that are within reach, and dancing to all sorts of music. The funniest thing he’s learned to do recently happens when he’s being held by dad while hugging his mom–he grabs mom by the sleeve and pulls her to Dad over and over so they can kiss. He’s lucky he is so cute, because he is not good at being left alone or sleeping by himself at all.

Maeli turned four and a half in July as she likes to tell everyone. She loved going to visit her Grandma, camping on the beach, and traveling through Yosemite. But by far her absolute favorite trip was to Disneyland back in September. She got to meet the real Anna and Elsa, sit in the VIP section for the Toy Story parade, play Buzz Lightyear’s Astroblasters, and ride the Rocket Ships! Her favorite part of pre-school is snack time, and she loved it when they brought in real-life butterflies to her class. She still attends the same school where her dance class is, and she dances to everything now, especially during the credits of our Friday Family Movie Nights.

Daniel (7) was most excited to see the snow start to fall around home. He loves to play with his neighborhood friends out in the winter and enjoy hot cocoa. It also means he gets to go skiing soon. The bigger boys got their season passes to the humongous Park City resort this season. He’s certainly a speed demon at heart, absolutely loving the time we spent on the wave runner during our Yosemite vacation week. The time spent at Disneyland also scratched that itch, because he got to ride the Space Mountain rollercoaster five times (the other kids gave up their fast passes to accommodate his need for speed)!

Sam’s (9) favorite part of summer was spending the entire day at Bass Lake on a rented pontoon boat. We swam, went tubing, and used the on-board BBQ to cook all our meals. His favorite song that he’s learned on the violin so far is Long, Long Ago. He’s been playing a video game on his 3DS called “Rhythm Thief” that helps him with his technical music skills. He was also really excited to get third place in the Pinewood Derby races this fall. It was unexpected because he waited until the very last minute to put it all together.  

Never one to be left without a project for long, Brittny took the lead on getting the basement finished this fall. She was happy to finally have a dedicated guest room and playroom, and Eric was excited to finally get the home theater and virtual reality room he’d wanted for so long.  Most days she doesn’t know where the time goes as she spends her time in a blur of homeschooling, housework and babycare. However slowly but surely she’s finding routines that help keep everything running, and she loves the opportunity she has to be a stay-at-home mom and has embraced the chaos that comes with it.  In her spare time (if such a thing exists) she participates in a neighborhood book club that she helped to start.

Over the past year Eric has taken the initiative to get a better grasp on his health. Through a combination of intermittent fasting and choosing to eat more ketogenic-friendly lunches, he has lost 30 pounds since last Thanksgiving!  Brittny has been very appreciative that he has been the least annoying dieter ever and doesn’t begrudge other people eating differently from him – he just quietly makes good choices for himself and doesn’t require massive changes for the whole family (which is especially helpful with picky kids at home!). The aging appliances at the house called for fixes to the dishwasher, refrigerator, and water heater this year. Thanks to Google, Eric has been able to make many of those fixes himself and learn a lot along the way. With all of those fixes and working on the basement it was a close call, but Eric was able to finish his classes and just started his last term to complete his MBA by May 2019. A couple months ago someone tried to break-in to the house, and that motivated him to finish his licensing and training for a concealed carry permit, which has been reassuring. At work, he’s hired yet another developer to help offload his increasing workload but still manages to find time to do some freelance work afterhours. Eric’s been called as the Emergency Communications coordinator for the Stake. However, as suspected, he and Brittny are going to remain in their scouting roles (cubmaster & cub scout committee chair) until the end of the program.  

David’s Birth Story

 - by Brittny

Today is David’s 7 month birthday, so I thought maybe it was time I get his birth story posted to the blog.  Guess that’s what happens when you have your 4th child, things are a bit busier than they were when Sam was born 😉  So David’s birth story is going to have to start a little further back though because his pregnancy was much more eventful than our other children’s.  I’ll warn you, as always, this post is REALLY long.  I finished writing it one night and it was 10 pages long, so I put it aside so that I could edit it down the next night and I succeeded in making it only 12 pages (before pictures)!  But I write this all down more for me than for anyone else and I want to remember all 12 pages (or however many pages this happens to be after my next round of editing…)

For starters, we weren’t planning on having David when we did.  Towards the end of 2016 Eric and I had the conversation of whether or not we wanted to have a baby again in the next year.  It was time to lock in our insurance choices for the next year so it was a good time to evaluate those things.  I had vowed after my back problems with Maeli’s pregnancy that I was going to get in shape before getting pregnant again, but it was 3 years later and that hadn’t happened.  Things were kinda busy and hectic and we decided that it wasn’t time yet.  So I scheduled my annual checkup with my midwife so that I could renew my birth control prescription.  However, my checkup was scheduled for a little while after I’d run out of birth control.  I wasn’t too concerned – with our 3 older children it had taken about 3 months after going off birth control to get pregnant so I didn’t think it was really too likely that I’d get pregnant in that short interim – I know, famous last words :P  So I had a couple weeks without my prescription and I decided that I’d wait until the end of that cycle before starting my new batch.  In the back of my head I was also telling the Lord – ok, I’m not really ready to have another baby right now, but if it’s time, here’s your opening.

During that time I started noticing that my back was having some issues again.  I’d started wearing boots that had a little bit of a heel as my daily footwear and I thought it was probably due to those, so I ditched the boots for sneakers and called my mom for some advice on exercises for my back.  A week or so went by and I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror one Saturday night and thought – I look chubbier than usual. Not that I have a nicely toned physique most of the time, but I could just tell, I had more squish than was my normal… and I was about a week late.  I decided that I would take a pregnancy test the next morning, just in case.

I took the pregnancy test into the bathroom the next morning feeling like I was being paranoid.  I had one on hand so it wasn’t like I had to go out and buy one but I just wanted to talk myself out of thinking that’s what was going on.  I can’t even tell you how surprised I was when it came back positive.  Obviously, I knew it was a possibility but I *really* didn’t expect it to be positive. I sat there letting it set in for a couple minutes before hopping back into bed with Eric (we had 1pm church so there was time for sleeping in) and tried to gently wake him up.  I tried to wait until he was reasonably awake before springing the news on him, but I don’t think I succeeded as well as I would have liked – my nerves were a little high at that point :P  I asked him, “So… what would you think if we were to have a baby?”  He looked at me quizzically and I continued, “Because…. We’re going to have a baby.”  If he hadn’t been awake yet, he was then!  Eric was even more surprised than I was because even though I’d told him about my less than stellar adherence to birth control protocol, he hadn’t fully realized how much so.  He asked me how I felt about this news and I told him that I wasn’t expecting it but that of course I was happy about it, and when I turned the question on him his feelings mirrored mine.  We’ve been asked if David was an “accident” or a “mistake” – absolutely not.  David was a surprise to be sure, but just as it wouldn’t be an accident or a mistake to win the lottery it was not an accident or a mistake to have David.  We were not planning on him but we were certainly excited about it, and especially now that he’s here we can’t imagine our family without him.  We’re glad that Heavenly Father had a better plan for our family than we did.  He is an unexpected blessing 😊

Of course, just because David is a blessing didn’t make his pregnancy easy – at all.  In fact going through that pregnancy is probably the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life.  I think partially not having intentionally signed up for pregnancy made it a little harder.  After trying to have babies before, a hard pregnancy was still hard but there’s the feeling at least of, “well, I knew this was what was coming.”  I think more so though it’s a lot harder being pregnant for the 4th time at 31 than it was being pregnant the 1st time at 23 – go figure :P  I had a rough first trimester – the back pain obviously wasn’t caused just by my high heeled boots and I immediately had to limit the amount of walking and bending I did so that I could make it through the day.  The “morning” sickness was also pretty bad this time around.  Of course, my morning sickness isn’t terrible compared to a lot of other women’s, so I can’t complain too much – I think I actually threw up maybe once this pregnancy, but I had a very sensitive gag reflex and generally felt miserable, tired, hungry, not wanting to eat, nauseated pretty much all the time for a few months.  Also my blood pressure drops pretty low in pregnancy which isn’t necessarily dangerous, but it can feel pretty freaky.

We didn’t wait to announce the pregnancy to everyone.  We told our kids and our parents right away and announced it on Facebook the next day.  Yes, I know people feel like that’s sharing way too much of my personal life with everyone, but to be honest, when I’m pregnant it’s kinda miserable and I need people to understand why I’m kinda miserable.  I need to have the people surrounding me able to say – “Hey, I know you posted that you’re having a miserable time with morning sickness right now and I noticed you put on pants today anyways.  High five!”  I hope that by being open about the things that I struggle with people feel like they can be open with me about their struggles and we can both help each other.  I feel that way about accepting help too.  As much as I want to be able to be independent and strong and do things on my own, I try to accept help from other people because 1) it’s really helpful (obviously) and makes me more able to do the things that really matter and 2) I hope that when they need help they think “Hey, I made soup for Brittny that one time and she wasn’t too proud to accept help, I bet she won’t judge me for needing some help too – I’ll call her!” I strongly believe that we all need each other to celebrate with and mourn with and by being open with others it can bless us both.  That’s not to say that I don’t understand people who choose to be more private or that I judge that choice – I just sometimes feel like people look at me and think I post so much of my life to Facebook because I’m seeking attention or don’t understand wanting to be private.  I do get it, but I’ve just decided for me that I’m happier being open with my circles of friends.  My other reason for wanting to post right away is that I hate trying to decide who is important enough to tell in person or first or whatever.  Our parents get first dibs on the news (if you contributed DNA to the child you probably should get some preferential treatment) but after that I don’t want to have to decide who gets to find out when – or risk that someone who feels like they should have heard the news from me finds out through someone else.  I have too many people that I love too much to feel ok with anyone feeling like they weren’t included in something like this – better to let everyone know at once and avoid that drama.

The best news came at my first appointment when the doctor measured David on the ultrasound and told me that he was measuring about 2 weeks ahead of what I’d calculated!  What’s funny is that meant that when I went in to my doctor’s appointment to renew my birth control prescription… I was already pregnant!  That made me feel a little bit better about not starting the prescription right away.  My thought at the time had been that I’d wait until the end of my cycle just in case I was already pregnant so that I wouldn’t hurt the baby.  In retrospect I think that was inspiration and I’m so glad I listened.  I was extra glad because I had felt like I was bigger and having more symptoms than I should have for how far along I was.  I was nervous that I might be expecting twins!  So not only was I glad to be closer to the finish line than I thought but to have the symptoms make sense and not be twins was a huge relief too!

During my second trimester the nausea at least started to wane and I could eat pretty normally again.  My gag reflex never receded entirely but I was able to eat more normally and my energy came back.  Of course, one of the best parts of the 2nd trimester is getting to find out the baby’s gender.  When we went in for the ultrasound we were thinking the baby was a girl.  Partly that just seemed nice and neat – we had two boys, one girl… we were due for another girl, right?  Also I’d been extra sick when I was pregnant with Maeli and I was extra sick again so it seemed reasonable to think this was a girl as well.  When we went in for the ultrasound the first thing the ultrasound technician got was a view between the legs and she didn’t even have to tell us what the gender was – we could see for ourselves!  I think David was a bit perturbed that we’d been thinking he was a girl and he wanted there to be NO doubt in our minds that he was a BOY!

In June it was Eric’s & my 10 year wedding anniversary and we felt that was worthy of a celebration!  We also realized that with the arrival of a new baby we probably wouldn’t be able to get away with just the two of us for about 3 years between finishing off the pregnancy and having a nursing baby.  That lit a fire under us and we booked a cruise to Ensenada that we were able to just sneak in before the 24 week cut off for cruise travel!  Neither of us had been on a cruise before and it seemed like a fun way to get to do a vacation without too much planning – it was :)  I wasn’t able to do a lot of the activities that you’d normally want to do between my back and general pregnancy restrictions, but we enjoyed just having good food, good entertainment and (best of all) good company for a few days 😊

I also gave us the assignment of naming the baby before we got home.  I like naming the baby as soon as we can after finding out the gender.  I like being able to refer to the baby by its name rather than just “the baby” or “it”.  It helps me bond with my babies before they’re born, and I think it helps the older kids to bond with the baby too.  They can look at my belly and we’ll talk about David, and make plans for David, and then when they come to the hospital to see us – there’s David!  The same David we’ve been talking about all this time!  For me it just makes the baby feel like more of a real person once they have a name.  We had a list of names going onto the ship but David wasn’t at the top.  We knew that we wanted to give the baby a middle name of James after Eric’s dad and we were considering the names Aaron, Adam, Caleb, David, Hyrum, Isaac, Jared, Levi, & Micah.  I liked David but the name sounded too close to Daniel and we’d end up calling the two boys each others’ names all the time (I was right – we do).  Also, we like naming our children after scriptural people to give them someone to look up to – and while David (in the Old Testament) starts out pretty awesome… he doesn’t exactly end the same way.  We tested out each name with the middle name and ruled some out.  We tried them out with our other kids names (i.e. “Sam, Danny, Maeli, _____ get in the van for Cub Scouts!”… If the name didn’t fit in that mix that was going to be a problem 😉 ).  We kept coming back to David and I decided that David and Daniel weren’t really too close – we already had Samuel and Daniel after all and those two names were pretty similar.  I also decided that even though David in the Old Testament doesn’t end up so great, that doesn’t de-value the good things he did at the beginning.  Plus his later failings serve as an important cautionary tale that none of us has ever done so great things that we are beyond where we could fall from grace and we must always remain vigilant that our deeds are good.  It was so nice to have a name for our baby and to be able to call him by it when we got off the boat.

As I got closer to the 3rd trimester I got the doctor’s order for my least favorite part of pregnancy – the gestational diabetes test.  I have a pretty serious phobia of needles and that test is the worst, not only do I have to get poked with a needle, but I have to drink a drink that sets off a timer that “you will be poked with a needle in one hour”.  The psychological game there is pretty brutal.  I got the order and then I took it home to figure out when I could schedule it with Eric so that he could come to drive me home afterwards.  Between not wanting to schedule that appointment and waiting to try and coordinate schedules with Eric and the general craziness of summer… it might have been 10 weeks before I got that appointment scheduled.  In fact, I waited so long that my doctor finally called me and said, “uhm, are you ever coming back?”  They didn’t let me wait to figure out a time that would work with Eric’s schedule at that point and just scheduled my next appointment then and I then just had to tell Eric to work with it :P  The test itself went reasonably well – I came *really* close to passing out but managed to stay on this side of consciousness.  But I was glad to have that part of the pregnancy over with.  I did all of the bloodwork for the whole pregnancy at once just to avoid having multiple pokes and so that was a huge hurdle for me to get past.  I didn’t have any history of gestational diabetes or risk factors, and I knew that I’m pretty healthy overall so I wasn’t stressed about the results, I was just glad to be done with that!

The next week the test results came back, and they weren’t what I’d expected.  All of the general tests were fine – I didn’t have any of the diseases they were testing for, my iron levels looked fine – all that good stuff.  Unfortunately the diabetes numbers were just a little bit north of what the doctor would like to see for a confirmed non-Gestational Diabetes diagnosis.  NOOOOO!!!  She would have liked to have scheduled the 3 hour test (4 blood draws over the course of 3 hours – my worst nightmare) but she knew that I’d never come back and go have my baby in the woods on my own.  So instead she recommended that I get a blood glucose monitor and observe a diabetic diet.  When she told me to get a glucose monitor in my head I laughed at her and said “oh yeah right”.  I knew there was no way that I was going to be able to do my own blood tests.  I barely made it in to have someone else test my blood – how on earth was I going to test my own blood on a regular basis?

To be honest after my doctor called in the order for the glucose monitor I waited a day before I could wrap my head around actually going to pick the thing up (to be even more honest I really considered if I even *would* go pick it up).  I was trying to take it in baby steps.  It then took me another day before I could even pull it out of the bags.  I finally did and tried reading the instructions.  I got about halfway through before I started crying and hyperventilating just trying to wrap my head around it.  Just reading the words about poking, lancets and squeezing blood were too much for me to handle – especially knowing that these were things I was going to be expected to do to myself!  I know that makes me sound like a crazy person and I’m really not an overly dramatic person on the whole.  But no matter how hard I try I can’t seem be reasonable about needles – and I really do try!

My doctor had asked me to get a blood glucose reading 4 times per day – before eating in the morning and 1 hour after each meal.  I tried to convince myself that I could get those readings myself but I could barely be reasonable enough to let Eric do it for me so that didn’t happen.  I feel really blessed though that Eric was awesome with me.  He wouldn’t push me to do the blood tests even though he would encourage me.  So I would let him know when I finished eating something so that he knew that he had to do the blood draw in an hour – I knew if I just tracked it myself I’d chicken out when the hour was up and convince myself I had something more important to do and never tell Eric.  I had better integrity if I told Eric at the beginning rather than waiting until the end.  We’d have to go upstairs, lock the door to our room (the kids weren’t going to be helpful and don’t need to know how unreasonable mom was), turn on a TV show, then I’d run my hands under hot water (to promote good blood flow) while Eric prepped the glucose monitor.  Once my hands were warmed up I’d come out, pretend like I was just watching the show and give Eric my hand.  He learned pretty quick that he only had about one try to get a usable blood sample as I couldn’t get myself to sit back down for a second attempt – either we got it or we didn’t but I couldn’t do it again if it failed the first time.  Once he got the sample I would quickly jump off the bed and go wash my hands off again – mostly so I could indicate to my brain that we were done and get my stress levels back down.  Then I’d sit and watch a few minutes of the show while I got back to normal and then I could return to whatever I was doing beforehand.  My usual remedy for needle-related anxiety is chocolate… but that was obviously off limits with the whole diabetic thing ☹

To be honest I was really worried that having Eric sticking me with needles was going to create some subconscious trust issues for me.  However, the opposite happened.  Because Eric was so kind with me even when I was unreasonable, and he helped me without just letting me off the hook, I really learned to love him even more than I already did (which is saying something because I already loved him quite a lot).  I feel SO blessed to have him by my side throughout everything in this life, I couldn’t ask for a better husband.

As you might have guessed… I didn’t get all of my glucose readings in.  Not by a long shot.  I had some really high readings and lots of reasonable readings, not really enough to be super conclusive but I was proud of myself to have gotten as much done as I did.  However, I was absolutely religious about the diet.  I didn’t cheat on it, although at first I had a hard time just figuring out what things were ok to eat and what things weren’t, but I never once got to the point where I said, “just this once I’m going to eat x”.  I actually noticed that when I ate the things that were higher carb that my heart would get a little racy like I had associated with my low blood pressure, leading me to wonder if the problem was really gestational diabetes rather than low blood pressure.  Anyways, my doctor never was able to definitively diagnose me with gestational diabetes but I managed to get through the final month of pregnancy on that diet.

The diet was tough, I had been trying for awhile to limit the amount of meat that we were eating and was erring on the side of adding more carbs – so I had to change that to go completely the opposite direction.  I mostly just found things that I could eat myself and planned different meals for Eric and the kids.  It wasn’t terrible but I had the hardest time getting enough calories while staying on that diet.  I was hungry a lot but I didn’t want to get my glucose levels too high.  Plus, eating was scary because I knew that one hour after I’d eaten I was supposed to do a glucose check so I had to *really* want to eat to make it worth going through that again.  I actually started losing weight during that last month of pregnancy, which was a little bit scary.  Not that I didn’t have weight to lose, but I wanted to make sure I was eating enough to sustain my baby – I just couldn’t figure out what to eat!  My doctor wasn’t worried and said it was normal, but it was not the most fun way to end the pregnancy.

About 3 weeks into the gestational diabetes I was walking around one morning and felt… uncomfortable.  Ok, so that sounds ridiculous, I’d been uncomfortable for about 33 weeks at that point, but my digestive tract felt wrong.  At first I thought I was just constipated (I was on a weird diet, it seemed like a possibility).  But as the day went on that didn’t quite seem to explain my discomfort.  So I started googling things and came up with that I probably had appendicitis judging from where the pain was.  I was pretty certain of this until I went to the bathroom and noticed that my urine was totally brown.  A little bit more googling helped me diagnose myself as probably having a kidney stone – awesome.  I went into urgent care that evening and the doctor confirmed that most likely that was the case – although they understandably didn’t want to do any abdominal imaging on a woman who was 37 weeks pregnant, and wouldn’t have been able to see much even if they did because of the baby in the way.  I was given an antibiotic in case it was a kidney infection and told to drink lots of water to help things pass.  I was also told to stop taking Tums for my heartburn as all that extra calcium was a possible culprit for creating the stone in the first place.  Another suspect was the high protein diet from the gestational diabetes.  I was starting to feel like I just couldn’t win.  My mom had a kidney stone when she was pregnant with her 4th child, who was also a boy.  I know I look a lot like my mom, but this was a trait I probably should have let her keep to herself :P

After the kidney stone I decided I was DONE with being pregnant.  With my other babies they had liked to stay put and cook past the 40 week mark so even though I was only 1 day short of 38 weeks I knew I was looking at probably 3 more weeks of pregnancy if I let nature take its course.  Between the kidney stone, back problems, blood pressure issues, and (of course) gestational diabetes – I was ready to throw in the towel.  I went in for my next midwife appointment and scheduled an induction for 10/4, i.e. the day I hit 39 weeks and was eligible for an elective induction.  To be honest, more than the kidney stone I was worried that since I had let the gestational diabetes go unchecked for so long (and I had not been eating healthy during that time) David was going to be too big to be born naturally and I would have to have a c-section.  I knew I was losing weight but the baby was still growing.  I wasn’t sure whether I was worried that I was undernourishing him or overnourishing him – but I didn’t feel great about either one.  I’d been debating scheduling an induction on those grounds, but the kidney stone pushed me over the edge.  I had my mom book a flight to be here to take care of my older kids and started counting down the days.

The day before my induction was the day of the annual Utah STEM Fair.  We had gone the year before and it had been a highlight of the year – they had asked for months afterwards when we would get to go again!  So even though it was more walking than I really felt up to, I decided to go for it!  It seemed like a fun “last hurrah” before becoming a family of 6 – one last time to enjoy just being the 5 of us.  It seems silly but just before having each new child it feels like we’re closing a chapter of our lives and while we’re so excited about the new baby we’re adding to our family, there’s a little tinge of sadness to be leaving the previous chapter behind. I always have felt like there’s something a little bit sad about moving on from each stage of life and having a chance to celebrate the family we have just before it changes always seems appropriate.

That day happened to also be a Tuesday which is when we have all of our commitments outside the home, and we’d need to pick my mom up at the airport that night.  Busy day!  I didn’t tell the kids about the fair until we were actually ready to go so they wouldn’t be disappointed if by the time we completed all of our other commitments I wasn’t up to it.  But we made it through preschool, violin, dance class, a haircut and music class and I was still ready to go!  We got there later than we would have preferred but the kids had a blast checking out all of the exhibits and I waddled around looking for anywhere I could sit for a second, all the while thinking – I’m going to have a baby to . mor . row.  It was a really funny experience just being there with all of these people doing a normal thing while feeling like there was something so huge that was about to happen to me and people didn’t really know.

When the fair closed we had to divide and conquer – Eric had some work that needed to be finished before taking the next couple days off, and I needed to pick my mom up at the airport.  We had both scored Olive Garden pasta passes though and wanted to use them to get dinner that night.  After some deliberation we decided that Eric would take Sam and Maeli to one Olive Garden on his way home and I would take Danny & my mom to a different Olive Garden after picking her up from the airport.  Don’t worry, I still didn’t break my diet – not even for Olive Garden!  I found out that they would substitute steamed broccoli for the pasta and had that and salad for a very satisfying last dinner of pregnancy 😊  It was a late dinner but it added to the celebratory nature of the day – and we could do it without even having to pay for my meal, score!

Of course that night would be the night that people had trouble sleeping.  Maeli started having a nasty croupy sounding cough (just as I’m getting ready to bring home a newborn – awesome) and everyone got to bed much later than planned.  I seriously considered cancelling the induction because it didn’t seem like we would be ready for all that would entail… and truth be told I was still apprehensive about needing an IV – and even though consciously I wouldn’t have pushed it back for that, on a subconscious level I’m sure it made the idea of rescheduling seem more sane than it was.  Plus, I’m not generally a big fan of being induced (even though I’ve basically been induced with 3 of my 4 deliveries).  I still have a basic belief that babies are best left to be born when they’re ready and all done being cooked, but we don’t always get the ideal situations and we work with what we have.

In the end I got up the next morning, got dressed and we headed off to the hospital.  Eric tried to convince me that I wasn’t supposed to eat before the induction (because anesthesia stuff)  but since I hadn’t been given that instruction from the hospital I ate a couple of fried eggs and a vitamin water.  But it made me nervous that I was doing the wrong thing anyways.  The nurses later confirmed that I had made the right choice and I absolutely ought to have eaten beforehand since I had a long day of hard work ahead of me!  Phew!

We got to the hospital late (our scheduled arrival time was earlier than our usual waking up time – even without kids developing nasty coughs in the night) but we were able to get checked in quickly.  I told Eric that I felt funny walking into the hospital with a suitcase – like we were heading into a hotel for a fun getaway :P  Hopefully if I ever go for a spa getaway it’s considerably more comfortable than childbirth 😉

Once I was changed into a lovely hospital gown and had answered all of their questions it was time for the IV – dun dun DUN!  Luckily I had a very understanding nurse who listened to me.  See, even though I’m not good at needles I have at least pretty well established how I can get through them – I need to be hydrated, have reasonably high blood sugar level, warm up my arms, have someone keep talking to me about anything not related to the needles, don’t look at the needles, don’t expect ME to keep talking (I need to just focus on breathing deeply and staying conscious), and don’t try to tell me how not a big deal it is (I know it’s not a big deal, but bringing my attention to the needles makes me face it more head on and I’m more likely to pass out).  It’s also good if the nurse tells me when they’re NOT ready to stick me with the needle (i.e. “I’m just looking at your veins, cleaning things up” etc) however they don’t have to tell me when they ARE going to stick me, and it’s definitely a bad idea to tell me to be ready because that elicits my fear response and all my veins shrink right up, if they say something like “ok, little stick” right as they’re sticking it in that’s fine but don’t give me more time to freak out.  The most important thing is “what thou doest, do quickly” and let me try to pretend that this isn’t happening – the less we talk about the better.  I’ve had nurses try to have me do it their way instead of my own way and while I really appreciate their intentions and experience, I know myself and other techniques make it worse rather than better.

Anyways, the nurse I had was awesome at listening to me and did everything just great.  She made sure to tape the lines down tightly so they wouldn’t wiggle, and she made sure to get all of the blood testing they needed through the IV port rather than making me go for another round of sticks.  When I was induced with Danny it took an hour and several pokes to get the IV set up, so you can imagine how relieved I was to have that part go smoothly.  Once we were set up then it was time to wait.  Since we hadn’t gotten much sleep the night before Eric and I both laid down and tried to sleep.   I think Eric got an actual nap in and I at least closed my eyes and pretended to sleep to get some rest.  I kept having to answer questions and my adrenaline was a little high so actual sleep didn’t really happen, but I at least got to relax.  All of my labors had been pretty quick – 8 hours for Sam, 4 for Danny, 3 for Maeli… I wasn’t expecting for things to take very long and was expecting them to be pretty intense, so some rest at the beginning seemed wise.  We were all set up by 9am and I was sort of expecting that we’d have David shortly after lunch.  While I was resting my nurse was talking to another nurse about how they coded different things and mentioned that Pitocin was a “high risk” drug – which I sort of knew but it was still jarring to hear her say that while we were starting me on it :/  It didn’t give me a lot of confidence in what the rest of the day would hold – especially since I’d already had enough complications with this pregnancy.

Eric woke up from his nap and my contractions were regular but not intense.  He hooked his tablet up to the TV and we watched some shows while we waited, and Eric did some work.  A couple hours later the contractions were uncomfortable but still nothing earth shattering.  I could still carry on conversation through them, even if I preferred to do some deep breathing to manage them.  A little after 1pm I sent Eric out to get himself some lunch – it didn’t seem like anything was going to change dramatically in the next little while and it seemed wise to let Eric get some food while he had the chance.  Luckily the hospital is right in the middle of a ton of different restaurants so Eric didn’t have to go far to get some Café Rio.

While Eric was gone I checked some of the notifications on my phone and found that one of my neighbors had sent me an Instagram message.  She was close to her due date too (there were about 5 ladies in our ward that were due within a couple weeks of me) and was in the hospital that day for some issues she was having.  She wasn’t in labor yet but was going to be induced the next day and was sitting in a little room all alone.  She decided to come over to my room with her IV and visited with me for a little while as we were both alone in the hospital.  I wish we’d thought to get a selfie of the two of us – how often is it that you and a friend get to visit each other while you’re *both* in the hospital?  It was definitely a unique experience!  I was grateful to have a familiar friendly face to be with me while I was waiting alone for a little while.  Even though I really was glad to let Eric go get some lunch, it wasn’t fun being in the hospital room alone and I was glad to have someone there who could call for a nurse if something suddenly went wrong.  I wasn’t expecting anything like that, but it was just comforting to have someone else there.

Eric came back from lunch and we continued watching shows, me being uncomfortable, but mostly just waiting for things to ramp up.  Slowly the contractions were getting a little stronger, but still nothing that I couldn’t manage a conversation through, although perhaps with some wincing.  Around 3pm my midwife came in and checked my progress.  She asked if I wanted to try some other positions to which I responded that I didn’t really – I was pretty happy where I was.  She looked at me like I was being obstinate so I clarified that I wasn’t saying I *wouldn’t* change positions but if we were doing it just based on what I wanted… I didn’t feel any burning desire to move from where I was – at 39 weeks pregnant moving around always seems like a huge chore, so all things being equal I’d just assume stay put.  With that cleared up my midwife told me that David was still up pretty high and it would be good to move around and see if we could get him to come down to start making progress.  Well that was a horse of a different color!  Progress sounded good to me so we started moving me around.  I don’t remember what we tried first but we put me on a birthing ball bouncing around for a little while, and put the bed in an upright position and had me hang over the back, and laid me on my side with a large peanut shaped ball between my legs.

Moving around did the trick!  My labor started to pick up and David made his way down into the birth canal.  By 4pm I’d gotten to 4cm dilated and David had dropped enough so we broke my water and things really got intense.  It’s so awkward having contractions after having my water broken because every contraction feels like I’m peeing myself.  Not like any part of labor is all that glamorous or not gross feeling – but that is especially gross feeling.  At that point things really started to hurt.  We kept moving my positions between hanging over the back of the bed, the ball, and on my side.  Within an hour the pain from the contractions was so intense that we finally got to the point where we turned the TV shows off as they were only serving to agitate me rather than distract from the pain.  I needed all my focus to be on just trying to relax between contractions.  I am not loud when I’m laboring which has led in the past to nurses not really thinking things are getting close (the doctor barely made it into the room to catch Danny because they didn’t think I’d gotten that far yet).  Luckily my midwife recognized that even though I was quiet it was because I was in the zone, not that I wasn’t progressing, and since she was done with her appointments for the day she stayed in the room from soon after my water was broken until the end.  I was so grateful for that extra attention and coaching.

We kept changing my positions and checking my progress, which continued to be steady.  Probably around 6:30 I started to feel the urge to push.  My midwife checked me and said I was really close.  On the next contraction I couldn’t not push and my midwife could see that and the nurses gathered around for the grand finale.  I was still on my side (which was the position that I made the best progress in while being the most comfortable) so someone held up my leg while I pushed David out from that position.  It was a weird position for giving birth I’m sure but I wasn’t really ready to move at that point.  It took maybe 5-10 contractions for me to push David out. I’d have a contraction and push as hard as I felt like I could without tearing for probably 30 seconds, and then get about 30 seconds to catch a deep breath before another big contraction would come and I’d push again.  Finally his head came through and on the next push I was able to get his shoulders and the rest of his body out.  He was here!  It is the weirdest feeling in the world to go from having a small human being in you to suddenly pushing them out and feeling so empty.  Not a bad empty, sort of a cathartic empty.  The second weirdest feeling is delivering the placenta.  It doesn’t hurt really but it’s this huge squishy organ that comes out all at once.  It’s very infrequent that you pass entire organs out of your body which is probably why it seems so strange.  It felt SO good to be done with being pregnant and to have my body back to myself again.  I told Eric over and over for the next day, “I did it.  I’m done.  I’m not pregnant anymore.  I’m NOT pregnant anymore!”  It had become such a defining part of who I was for the last 9 months that I had to keep saying it to convince myself it was really true – I’d made it!

David was born at 6:46pm and was 6lbs 12oz and 20.5 inches long.  I’d been worried about him being too big but he was actually the smallest of my babies by 13oz!  I’m still so glad that I went ahead with the induction.  It was SO nice to know that my older kids were settled before heading to the hospital.  It was also awesome to know that we could get a good night’s sleep beforehand and that Eric could plan out his day away from the office in advance.  Also just having a defined finish line was so helpful at the end of that long pregnancy – I’m not sure that I mentally could have taken 2 more weeks.  Besides which, as I mentioned before it was awesome to have my midwife there and able to really coach me through the delivery.  All things considered, I would likely choose to be induced again if we have another baby.

As soon as Eric posted to my mom that David was here our older kids were over the moon and started jumping up and down begging to come see him.  I had already arranged with my mom that I was ok with them coming up as soon as David arrived – once things were reasonably cleaned up in the delivery room they were welcome to come see him.  I had a few stitches but they were taken care of quickly – my midwife says it looked like I’d just torn in the same place I had with my previous births (Sam was 8lbs 11oz with a 90th percentile head, so…. yeah, there was some tearing there that has opened up with each subsequent delivery).  To be honest after giving birth I feel like having visitors come right away.  I just did something monumentally hard – I want to show off!  I might not look amazing, but neither do marathon runners, it’s still good to have people you love with you to share in the achievement and the joy of a new baby.  Besides no one is really looking at me when there’s a cute baby to look at 😉  I know everyone is different but I basically want the people I love to come and give me a high five and tell me I did a good job, and ooh and ahh over the cute baby that I’ve managed to produce.  I’m too amped up on adrenaline to rest for quite awhile anyways so people might as well be there to celebrate with me.

My midwife and nurses kept commenting how impressed they were with the control I had during delivery.  I guess that I did an especially good job of not pushing too hard or too fast and causing myself to tear.  I would bet that that’s primarily because I didn’t have an epidural so I could feel everything stretching and could tell what would cause me to tear.  I remember them saying the same thing about when Maeli was born – maybe it’s just something they tell every mom so that we feel good about ourselves 😉  I don’t really know how I would have done things any other way so I’ll just take it for what it is!

The kids arrived with my mom at the same time as Eric’s parents arrived.  They had arrived home from their mission in Washington D.C. just that day and they were leaving to go visit naother one of their kids that weekend so it was perfect timing!  It was so great just to have everyone there – and to finally get to eat some carbohydrates!  The nurses told me to get my order into room service quickly before they closed for the night and I was excited just to have some real food after a full day of very minimal snacks and a really hard workout!  I don’t even remember what I ordered but I was excited for real food.  They also brought me in some snacks – graham crackers, saltines, yogurt, super exciting hospital snacks 😉

While the kids were oogling David and we talked to our parents about the events of the day the nurses kept coming in every few minutes to check on me.  The first few times the nurse seemed moderately concerned that I was bleeding more than she would have liked.  That was highly disconcerting.  Considering how I feel about blood you can imagine that the idea of having a hemorrhaging problem after birth would really scare the dickens out of me.  However there didn’t seem to be anything I could do about it and the nurse wasn’t panicked or anything, so I just relaxed as best as I could and tried to ignore how very nervous that made me.  My mom gave me more wide eyed concerned looks, but I felt like there wasn’t anything that I could do about it so I was trying not to waste my energy on worrying.  I think she was concerned that having the extra people in the room could be a hinderance if something needed to happen, but I figured I wasn’t exerting myself by letting everyone be there, and it made me feel better having them there.  I relaxed as best as I could and assumed that if the doctors needed to do something with me they would shoo my family out and do it.  Luckily after a few rounds of concerned looks things seemed better and the nurse stopped commenting on it so presumably things were fine.

Also during that time a nurse came in to get all of David’s preliminary tests and procedures done.  She took him to the other side of the room from my kids to weigh, measure, poke and prod him.  My mom was unimpressed with how gentle (or not) she was being with David and looked at me like, “hey, why isn’t anyone snuggling that cute baby and making him happy?”  I obviously was in no place to hobble over and help out but I was grateful when my mom went over to hold his hand and try to comfort him a little while that was happening.  They poked him a few times and put the goop in his eyes – but somehow no one managed to actually wash him off.  We actually didn’t get him washed off until he came home and was a few days old :P

When my dinner came all of our visitors cleared out to let us get settled in for the night.  I was a little sad to see them go, but it was getting past the kids’ bedtime and it was time for us to get some rest too.  Of course “rest” in a hospital is relative.  The nurses came in every hour to check my temperature, blood pressure and bleeding until about midnight.  Then they started coming in every 4 hours.  At one point I’d fallen asleep for a little while and then woke up just before I thought they were going to come in again, so rather than going back to sleep I decided I’d just wait for them to come in.  So I waited… and waited… and waited.  It ended up being closer to an hour and a half before they came in again so I probably should have tried harder to go back to sleep, oh well.  I just don’t sleep well in the hospital – the sounds are weird, the bed isn’t mine, people are coming and going, and there’s always a possibility someone might want to stick a needle in me.  It’s not my favorite place to be.

In the morning my nurse came in to remove my IV.  To be honest, I like having the IV removed almost as little as I like having it put in as strange as that sounds.  They needed one more bit of blood work from me – a final glucose level to check that things were back to normal after giving birth.  As I talked to the nurse she thought she could probably get that blood sample when she removed the IV without doing an additional poke – she didn’t want to guarantee it but she said she’d try.  I can’t tell you exactly what happened (I was of course pretending that nothing was happening and just trying to stay conscious), but somehow she made that work and got me out of having an another poke.  She quickly made it onto my list of favorite people 😉  Even better, the level was back to normal and I was freed from having to do glucose tests any more – hallelujah!

Throughout my pregnancy I kept thinking, “I never want to do this ever again.  This is so miserable.  Don’t forget how hard and miserable this is.  Nope, never ever ever ever EVER going to do this again.  This is the last time, absolutely, 100%, never doing this again.  I’m getting too old for this.”  That resolve at least doubled when I was in labor, and doubled again while in the final transition and during the actual birth of David.  That whole day in the hospital I kept thinking, “This is no fun at all, I really really don’t want to have to do this again.  DO NOT forget how hard this is!”  The pregnancy wasn’t just physically hard but it really was mentally exhausting.    After getting through all of that I really couldn’t fathom doing it again.  The day after his birth I was laying in the hospital bed and staring at my precious newborn baby and thought, “Awww, look how cute he is!  This is SO special and wonderful and worth EVERYTHING.  How sad would it be to never get to have a brand new baby like this again?  I could do this again!”  Of course the other part of me was screaming, “WHAT!?!?  Have you not been here for the last 9 months?  Do you not remember what happened YESTERDAY!  It hasn’t even been 24 hours!  You haven’t even left the hospital!  You still have an ice pack stuffed in your underpants!  What do you mean you ‘could do this again’?!?”  Both sides are completely true – having David was so worth everything I went through, we love him to the ends of the earth and back and more.  If you were to send me back to the end of 2016 and give me the choice of going through it all again or not having him I would 100% go through it all again, no question.  But man, contemplating doing it again…. That’s going to take a lot more convincing.  So far our kids have been spaced out like this – Sam to Danny: 2 years, Danny to Maeli: 3 years, Maeli to David: 4 years.  So if you’re wondering if we’re done or not just check the pattern… we can talk in 5 years 😉

The next day contained all the routine post-birth things – the pediatrician came to evaluate David, my midwife came to check on me, billing wanted us to pay our bill up front, we filled out the birth certificate – all the things.  I had asked my midwife beforehand that we be discharged as soon as possible, generally 24 hours after birth, so long as everything looked good.  So as we went through all of our checks we got the oks from the doctors to be discharged at the end of the day.  As we got close to that 24 hour mark I had Eric help me shower and change back into normal clothes and we waited for the nurses to get all of the paperwork approved.  It took about 2 hours longer than we’d expected because they lost some of David’s bloodwork samples or something but finally they cut all the tags off of us and we were free to go home!  As we were leaving the nurses asked me if we didn’t have insurance or something – they were astounded that I would want to go home so quickly.  I guess most moms want to stay as long as possible where they have people to care for them, make the food, take the baby sometimes, all that good stuff.  We have reasonable insurance, but even with that an extra day in the hospital is a pretty pricey affair.  But more importantly, I just would rather be home!  If I didn’t have good care at home my feelings might be different, but I was going home where my mom would be there to help cook meals and tend my children and Eric would be there too.  Plus no one would be coming in to poke and prod me or my baby while we were sleeping, I could have my own bed with my own blankets, I could snuggle with my kids and know that Eric wasn’t stuck sleeping on a couch.  Unlike the nurses I can’t understand why anyone would want to stay in the hospital!  The care is great, but I’m still happier to be back home.  Room service meals is nice, but for the price… I’ll get someone to pick up takeout from a really good restaurant rather than be stuck eating hospital food thanks ;)

My mom was able to stay with us for 2 weeks which was SO wonderful!  My recovery with David was harder than it was with my other kids, not for any particular reason but it was just harder.  I didn’t have any unexpected complications or unmanaged pain, but I wore down faster and had a hard time keeping my energy up or exerting myself much (by exerting myself I mean, walking around a little).  I wasn’t in any more pain than I would have expected, but I was just so easily drained.  My guess is that I really did lose a decent amount of blood during/after the birth and it just took that long for my body to regenerate my blood supply.  Obviously not so much as to need intervention, but more than I had with previous births and enough to cause a difference in recovery.  Luckily by the time my mom left to go back home I was starting to feel normal-ish again and ready to ease back into our routines, and even slowly get back to not just pregnancy normal but pre-pregnancy normal.  It’s been really eye opening to see just how much I let go of during the pregnancy as I’ve been able to pick things back up.  We also decided after this pregnancy that I probably ought to switch from taking a pill for birth control to having an IUD instead (since I clearly wasn’t doing a great job of taking a pill).  Even more surprising than how much better I feel not being pregnant is how much better I feel having changed birth control methods.  I hadn’t realized just how tired my other birth control had made me.  It didn’t help that when Eric and I first got married I had mono which took a long time to recover from, and then I had Sam who was a terrible sleeper, then pregnant with Danny, then another baby and dealing with sleep, then pregnant with Maeli and another baby.  It was difficult to separate exhaustion from mono/being a mom from birth control side effects – it was just my normal!  But now that I’ve switched I feel like I am fully awake for the first time in over 10 years.  I had no idea!  We switched just to give ourselves a more surefire method of birth control, but I might be more excited about getting my energy back than not having to take a pill every day!

David has been a delight to have in our home.  I can’t imagine our family without him and it absolutely blows my mind that we’d actually consciously decided that we were content with our 3 kids and didn’t need any more.  How sad!  It’s so bizarre how perfectly happy we can be not knowing what blessings could be ours if we were to just [fill in the blank].  Anyways, while he’s been a delight David has not been an easy baby.  He struggled with colic for the first few months and pretty much just wanted to be held all the time.  Luckily, Sam had colic too and since he was our first we didn’t know that it was a hard thing we sort of just thought that’s how babies were – until we had Danny and Maeli and realized that it wasn’t always like that :P  But having had the experience with Sam with colic we felt like we knew what to expect.  Honestly just having that expectation already set differently made all the difference.  We knew that we likely wouldn’t be able to put the baby down and we’d just need to take turns holding him, walking with him, bouncing with him etc – and we could work with that.  It wouldn’t last forever and we’d make it through, and just because our baby was upset didn’t mean we were bad parents or doing something wrong, it was just the way it was.  I slept a lot of nights on the recliner with the TV on, Eric and I would try to let each other take naps when we could, and mostly I just let other things go knowing that eventually “this too shall pass” and we’d get back on top of those things then.  Sam is now our best sleeper!  I mean, he’s 9, but still, he figured it out eventually!  David has the most intense stare, he will stare into your eyes for the longest time, and then just smile.  It makes you feel like the most wonderful person in the world – if this baby thinks you’re worthy of this kind of adoration you must be a pretty amazing person!  His siblings are still completely enamored with him, I can’t put him down without one of the kids going and getting up in his space or carrying him off to somewhere else to snuggle with him.  I hope he always recognizes just how lucky he is to have siblings who adore him like his siblings do.  We truly feel so blessed to have him in our home and are grateful every day to have him!

2017 Year in Review

 - by Brittny

There’s snow on the ground outside our house and the kids are ready for ski season to start, but the biggest change in our home these past six months is the new arrival of baby David James. On October 4th, Brittny went on a cleanse and lost 6 lbs. 12 oz. in the space of about 8 hours! And then we had a beautiful baby boy!

Baby David's Aunt Taylor crocheted this apparel

Baby David’s Aunt Taylor crocheted this apparel

He was evicted a week before his due date because of Brittny’s gestational diabetes and kidney stone issues, so he ended up being the smallest of our babies.  He has quickly made up for it and was 12lbs 1oz at his 2 month check up! David was quickly assimilated into the tribe of siblings and receives more attention that he would like on a daily basis.  We are frequently asked if he’s a good baby, and the honest answer is “no”, but we like him anyways!  He’s definitely a bit high strung and has dealt with some colic, but since Sam was much the same we at least feel like we know what we’re up against, and most importantly that it will get better!  So we’re just enjoying him as much as we can.  He does seem to be getting happier though as he’s getting bigger.  

Baby David and all his siblings

Baby David and all his siblings

Aside from that we loved seeing everyone at the family reunion and having the kids enjoy cousin time.

Cousin time at the family reunion

Cousin time at the family reunion

Then in August, we made the trek up to see the spectacular total solar eclipse in Rexburg, ID with Dianne and Rob.  Leading up to it we were very concerned about whether we would be able to get in or out of Idaho – however we were able to get in just fine, and by waiting about 9 hours to leave we had a relatively smooth trip home as well.  It was well worth going and seeing.  We weren’t sure if our kids would appreciate it but they thought it was awesome.  Before going Sam read an article and said it used “too many superlatives” to describe the event.  After witnessing it for himself he felt like they hadn’t used enough superlatives!  We’ve already decided that we’re going to travel again for the next full solar eclipse in the US in 2024!



Maeli (3) started going to pre-school twice a week in the fall, and she seems to really enjoy her time there.  She’s especially loved that her preschool is attached to a dance studio and she can attend dance class right after her preschool class.  She’s still working on getting potty trained and tells us frequently that she’s afraid of the toilet (heavy sighs from both parents).  She is definitely the princess of the family and is probably grateful that David was a boy so that she didn’t have to give up youngest child and the only girl status all at once.  



Even though Daniel (6) turned six in April, we didn’t get around to celebrating his birthday until after the family reunion in July, but he didn’t seem to mind. He’s beginning to learn how to play piano in this year of Let’s Play Music and we’re impressed with how far he’s come already.  Brittny is homeschooling him and he’s making slow and steady progress towards being able to read.  We stopped doing kyuki-do over the summer with intentions to go back after Baby David was born, but we’re having a hard time convincing Danny to go back.  His objection, strangely enough, is that he has to change his clothes in order to go to class.  He doesn’t care so much *what* he has to change into, just that he has to change his clothes at all.  Instead over the summer he wanted to do t-ball and for once mom didn’t forget to sign up before the deadline.  Danny convinced both his brother and two of the boys’ friends to sign up for t-ball along with him, but I think Danny was the only one who really enjoyed the whole thing.



Sam (8) only ever wants to read.  We set a goal at the beginning of 2017 for him to read 100 chapter books before the end of the year.  We worried that the goal was too ambitious, but he had completed it before September and hasn’t stopped reading yet!  Sam’s also been enjoying being a full Cub Scout now with his parents and participated in the Raingutter Regatta this Fall.

He continues to progress in his violin lessons, and he recently earned his Twinkle Trophy for mastering all the variations and theme of Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.

Our little big family!

Our little big family!

Obviously, Brittny’s time has been dedicated to taking care of baby David and homeschooling Danny and Sam. She’s wrapping up her startup business venture in favor of putting more time into her blog ( and getting on top of housework.  She was released as a Sunbeam teacher but continues to serve as our ward’s Cub Scout Committee Chair.

Eric is continuing to build his new team at Western Governors University, hiring two full-time analysts and a contract developer in just the past few months. In addition to his regular contract work on the side, he also continues to make slow but steady progress on his MBA.  He’s enjoying serving as our ward’s Cubmaster, especially as he finally has one of his own sons in the program.

We hope this holiday season brings joy to your family.  We love you all and are hoping for opportunities to see you in 2018.

2016 Year in Review

 - by Brittny

Well, we made it to the end of another exciting year with some interesting life changes and great experiences. We really enjoyed going to the Lyon family reunion at the beginning of the summer down near Zion’s National Park. We visited Brittny’s family for a week while she attended a convention near her home, and then at the end of the summer we took our own vacation to Yellowstone national park! Last but not least, after three years of fighting with our HOA, we finally got approval and installed solar panels on our roof. Hooray!

Maeli (2) will be turning three in January, and she lives life as if she were in a pre-school TV show. She often comes up to us and asks, “Can you help me find my tablet? When you see tablet, say tablet!” It’s very cute, and she can also be found following Danny around, doing whatever he is doing. She loves to participate in his music practice for a class he’s taking. Maeli unfortunately still does not like to be left in nursery by herself, and she can get away with being so high maintenance because Eric is wrapped around her little finger. But she is also very sweet, and we love having her bring some balance to the family dynamics.

Daniel (5) is still our most physically active and coordinated child. Just the other week when we had family visiting for Thanksgiving, some of his uncles had him practice hitting a foam baseball (something he had never tried before), and he was a natural. He is enrolled with his big brother in a local Kyuki-do (Korean Martial Arts) club, but he insists on wearing jeans underneath his uniform so he doesn’t have to get dressed again after class. Danny is also starting to get much more excited about learning to read through our daily family scripture study time. He’s participating in home school kindergarten this year, though we sometimes think he might enjoy public school given his extroverted personality. He’s entered the questioning phase of his life, always wanting to know how things work.

Sam (7) is still loving the homeschool life.  It can be hard to get him motivated to get into his school work – but once he’s going it’s hard to get him to stop!  He reads like a maniac, and he is helping our family to read through the Book of Mormon before he gets baptized next year. We often find him with a book in bed long after he is supposed to have gone to sleep. He’s recently taken to chatting with his Dad and family on Google Hangouts to practice his typing and writing skills, and it provides some good breaks from the monotony of lessons. Sam also enjoys learning about any and all science. The family often has Youtube nights where we look at various science experiments and fun things that we can’t (or at least probably shouldn’t) try at home. Sam is also enjoying Kyuki-do, being a good big brother to his younger siblings, and following in his father’s footsteps by starting violin lessons this summer!

Brittny has finally bitten off more than she can chew.  In addition to homeschooling our kids she has two callings (Cub Scout Committee Chair & Sunbeam teacher), and is trying to keep her new business running – in addition to the regular duties of keeping the house in order, laundry done, everyone fed etc.  She’s just hoping to get everyone to start going to bed at a decent hour for enough nights in a row that she can have the time to make some breakthroughs with her application so that the business can start running itself a little more – or at least generate enough income for her to feel good about outsourcing more of her homemaker duties!

Eric’s life has made some significant changes recently. After two years of building a digital analytics program at LDS Church HQ, he found a new opportunity to do something similar at Western Governors University as the new Director of Analytics there. While he loved working on lots of cool projects for the Church, the fluctuation in resources leading to 80+ hour work weeks was not sustainable by any means. The new position offers a lot more opportunities to grow without destroying his work-life balance, and innovative educational models have always been of interest to Eric. WGU uses a competency-based education system that is not restricted by time, and so he’s planning on taking advantage of the included educational discounts and benefits to get his MBA starting next year. In the meantime, he still serves as the local pack’s Cubmaster, and he sings and plays violin as part of Church choir.

2015 Year in Review

 - by Brittny

Lots of growing and fun in the Eric and Brittny Hansen household over the past year. We are still living in Utah on top of the point of the mountain, loving life and being close to family and friends.

Maeli (2 in January) has been developing quite the vocabulary over the year, but most of it has been complete gibberish. It’s hilarious to hear her say so many different things yet still not be able to understand most of it. She loves to pray for her family by name, especially her “boys”, Danny and Sam. Maeli loves her brothers and always expresses distress when being put down for her nap or to bed without them by calling out “But, the my boys! The my boys!” With good reason too! Her brothers take good care of her and include her often in their playing. Maeli loves everything girly. One of her first words was “shoes” and she still gets very excited to wear different shoes or when we put a “pretty” (hair clip) in her hair. She is very aware that she is the only girl and baby in our family and takes full advantage of it! She is the princess and if you do not bow to her ways – look out! We try our best to keep her in check, but she’s unconvinced. Probably the only thing that will cure her is to be ousted from her throne by a new sibling. No plans yet for that younger sibling, but someday her rule of adorable tyranny will have to be put to an end!

Daniel (4) is as spunky and funny as ever.  He was signed up to go to preschool at the local elementary school this year, however at the last minute we ended up pulling him out.  They changed the laws in Utah to state that all children under the age of 5 who ride the bus must have seatbelts, and our district’s school busses don’t have seat belts.  The only thing that Danny was looking forward to about going to school was riding the bus, so with that off the table, and Sam being homeschooled (more on that later) we decided it wasn’t worth the fight and money to try to make him go to preschool.  Especially when he kept telling his mom, “I just want to stay home with my brother.”  So, instead we got him in with a joy school group in our neighborhood and are homeschooling him for preschool.  We haven’t yet decided what we’re going to do next year when he’s old enough for kindergarten.  Danny played soccer this fall – although this time without his mother as the coach (hooray!)  It was so funny to watch the kids at his age play because they were very good about being polite and taking turns… which isn’t really the point of soccer.  We’d watch the kids play and instead of taking the ball they’d wait patiently for the other kid to lose control of the ball and then jump into get it.  We’d try to tell Danny to get the ball when someone else had it and he’d just look at us incredulously like, “do you not see, someone else has it.  Patience guys!”  It was hysterical!  Danny’s favorite thing to do is to find an electronic device and then go hide out behind a couch, in a closet or in a cupboard (which he calls “his office”) and watch Octonauts or play Minecraft.  He’s also very creative with Legos and spends lots of time making different Lego creations.

This year we decided to pull Sam (6) out of the public school and start homeschooling him.  It was a really tough decision for us – we live in the boundaries for an amazing school with wonderful teachers and kids.  Last year we noticed that Sam was coming home from school every day with blank worksheets – we realized that what was happening is that he would spend a lot of the day at school daydreaming quietly.  Since he was still way ahead of his class, and he wasn’t noisy or disruptive he wasn’t getting anything accomplished but no one was doing anything about it.  We decided it made the most sense to bring him home where his teacher’s number one priority was keeping *him* on task.  Homeschooling is definitely a challenge but it’s also been the right decision. It’s still hard to keep Sam on task, but it helps to have content that is on his level and a mom that’s dedicated to him.  Mom has to keep reminding herself that even when we fall a little behind in our lessons – the lessons we’re doing are a year ahead of his age, so we’re still coming out ahead. Sam played soccer in the fall and has made some real improvement from previous seasons. Unfortunately the league he was in had 2nd graders as well as first graders so he was a little intimidated by the bigger boys. But he really seems to be getting the hang of the game. In Sam’s free time he loves to play video games, read books (particularly the MegaMan comic books) and play “the everything game” with his friends. The Everything Game is basically an imaginative game that includes any character from the various shows, games, books etc that Sam and his friends are aware of.

Brittny really scaled up the amount of work she’s doing lately with homeschooling Sam. On top of that, she still manages to support her list of freelance web clients at night after putting the kids to bed. And on top of all that, she serves both as a Primary teacher for Danny’s class and Chair of the Cub Scout Committee. In her spare time she keeps trying to take charge of organizing more things – Danny’s joy school, the neighborhood babysitting co-op, moderating the community Facebook page, getting involved in the pro-life movement, and lobbying for new legislation for homeschoolers in Utah. She would like to spend more time exercising and writing in her blog, but for some strange reason she never seems to find the time.

Eric recently passed his one-year anniversary working for the Church in October, and it has been a bit of a roller coaster in recent months. He reports to his old Mission President, Elder Perkins, who is now in the First Quorum of the Seventy, and he gets to work on a lot of cool projects like the Gospel Library App, website, and the new Family History Discovery Center. The ebb and flow of work combined with some unfortunate bureaucratic policies make for a somewhat frustrating and stressful experience, but it looks like he’s sorted out a lot of the challenges and is starting to make some real progress. He also enjoys being Cubmaster (getting to work alongside Brittny) and playing games with his kids. He hopes this year’s El Niño weather pattern will make for a good ski season and would love to take any of you out on the slopes if you ever have a chance to visit.

Summer 2015 Family Update

 - by Eric

It’s been awhile since our last post. Here’s what our family has been up to the past few months:

Maeli, despite being the only girl is still fully aware that she is a girl and certainly acts like it. Being the youngest as well means she is inevitably spoiled. She loves picking out dresses to wear, putting on shoes, and just being an all-around flirt. She’s walking now but not really talking beyond simple words like “mom”, “dad”, and “please”. Well, that’s not entirely true; she talks incessantly, it just doesn’t make much sense beyond her very limited vocabulary.  She’s pretty sure she’s old enough to roam about the neighborhood independently like her two older brothers.  She’s unfortunately too cute for her own good and gets away with just about anything that she wants.

We took the kids to the Clark County Fair in Nevada

Daniel just finished a year of preschool, and he is our silly little adventurer. When we are at home and around, we’ll often find him wandering out of the neighborhood to go “visit grannie and grandpa” or just getting into mischief; but when we take him to school or primary, he doesn’t want to leave our side. He loves riding his bike, jumping on the trampoline, or doing almost anything outside.

Sam just finished Kindergarten and loved it. He is still very precocious and is already reading well above his grade level. Because of this, we’ve decided to homeschool him this next year and he’s already excited to be working on his coursework for the coming year. Hopefully we can keep him better challenged with a curriculum geared toward his own level. He loves reading and playing computer games as well as spending lots of time outside with the many little boys in our neighborhood.

Sam reading to Danny

Brittny is still serving as our ward’s cub scout committee chair, which is much more enjoyable as Eric received a new calling which complements that nicely. She’s also serving as a primary teacher in Danny’s sunbeam class. Her spare time has been taken up with freelance work, being a room mom and a little league soccer coach.  Being a stay at home mom is always busy, but she wouldn’t trade it for anything.

Eric is no longer young with his new grey hairs on his head. Along with that change came a new opportunity for him. He left Adobe to go work for the LDS Church as the Sr. Product Manager for Digital Analytics. It has been a fantastic opportunity so far. He recently changed callings to Cubmaster, which has been really nice to work with Brittny in her calling.

Family Update – Christmas 2014

 - by Brittny

Merry Christmas from the Hansens!  We hope 2014 has treated you all well and that you’re gearing up for a wonderful 2015 ahead.  This year has been full to the brim with changes and excitement, we’re hoping for a much calmer year to come than the one we’re leaving behind!  Here’s how the family is growing as the year has gone on.

Maeli (11 months) continues to be a very easy going and happy baby.  True to form for our family she has decided that she does not like the idea of sleeping in her crib at night and would much prefer to be snuggled with her parents.  Luckily we’re pretty used to having a baby in our bed by now and she’s a good snuggler so we’re not fighting that battle yet.  Maeli has been army crawling for the last several months and only just recently has started to crawl up on her hands and knees.  She has made many dirty onesies as a result of her Swiffer-ing!  She’s not quite walking yet but is getting close!  She recently started standing on her own and it’s so cute to see her proud little face as she stands there.  It’s really strange though, now that she stands she looks so much smaller than she does crawling around.  She’s later at walking than either of our boys, but at least Brittny still doesn’t feel ready for our baby to be that grown up already!  Time goes by far too quickly.

We enjoy listening to her starting to talk.  Her favorite “word” to say is dada, but she does say mama on occasion.  What’s really funny though is that whenever Brittny catches her saying mama she’ll start fauning over her, “Oh you said mama!  Did you know that’s my name?  Can you say mama again?”  Every time this happens Maeli will smile really big, look very proud and say, “Dada”.  We’re pretty sure she doesn’t know what she’s doing, but it’s pretty funny that the word she chooses is the exact opposite from what we’re trying to teach her to say.  Maeli loves to bounce along to music and get in on her brothers’ play.

This is just a cute video of Maeli’s reaction to riding a carousel for the first time :)

Danny is 3 and thinks he’s going on 33.  Danny’s favorite thing is going to meetings.  On Sunday mornings when Eric is getting ready for church Danny will quickly race to get dressed so that he can go with his dad to PEC or Ward Council or Young Men’s Presidency Meeting or choir practice – or as he calls it “ABCs”.  Originally Eric brought him along thinking that after seeing how boring these meetings really were he wouldn’t want to come again, but going to meetings is Danny’s favorite thing.  He actually does a pretty good job of sitting there relatively quietly and drawing in his notebook while the meetings go on.  Someday he’ll be called as a bishop and we’ll know that he’s been preparing for it all along!

Danny is very physically adept and spent most of the summer riding his “dirtbike” around the neighborhood.  We took his training wheels off early in the summer and the kid can cruise so fast on that bike!  It’s extra fun because he makes dirtbike noises as he rides it around.  He’s friendly, talkative and hysterical.  Be careful about getting him started talking because he will talk your ear off and has a pretty impressive vocabulary for a three year old.  He is super independent but somehow still struggles with separation anxiety, we haven’t figured that out yet.  He will leave the house without a second thought to go wherever he fancies.  However if we try to leave him with a babysitter, or at nursery, or at preschool this is a capital offense!  The funny thing is his preschool takes place at our next door neighbor’s house – the same neighbor whose house he most frequently escapes to.  You would think that would make going to preschool a pretty easy sell, but if it’s not Danny’s idea it doesn’t matter how good the idea is, he doesn’t want to do it.  Luckily, he does seem to be getting better and is starting to go to preschool and nursery on his own in the past few weeks, but those big brown puppy dog eyes are really hard to resist if you’re trying to leave him somewhere he doesn’t want to be left!

Here’s a little sampling of unfiltered Danny’s personality. We had such a hard time not cracking up the whole time he was talking.

This fall Brittny was talked into coaching little league soccer for Danny’s age group (3-4 year olds).  It was an… adventure :P  We had a team of 7, but we were lucky each week if we got 4 to show up, and then luckier still if at least 2 of those who showed up wanted to play soccer.  The poor kids who did show up would have to play for the entire game with no breaks because we didn’t have anyone to sub in for them!  There was lots of tears shed because the ball got stolen from a player, or the other team made a goal, or we were playing with the wrong ball, but we survived the season.  It helped on the days when one of the kid’s parents would bring a box of nerds and we would bribe the kids with candy just to stay on the field! We’ll have the same team back together in the spring and hopefully the little bit of growing up that happens in the meantime will help us to have a slightly more cohesive team then!

Sam (5) also participated in soccer this year with a team of boys from our neighborhood.  We’d had him in soccer last fall as well and we were amazed at how much of a difference a year has made in his playing ability.  It’s a totally different sport from the 3 year olds to the 5 year olds!  Sam also started kindergarten this year.  We can’t believe he’s already old enough to be going to school, that went by WAY too quickly.  He is very precocious and friendly.  We gave him an online home schooling curriculum to work on over the summer and he completed all of the kindergarten work and made it a decent way through the 1st grade work as well!  He’s already reading well above his grade level and we are constantly looking for different ways to keep him challenged academically outside of his normal school work.  Lots of time has been spent debating how we’re going to help Sam have work that is up to his skill level without putting him in a situation that’s outside his social level.  We haven’t yet decided, but we’re considering a lot of different options.  We started reading chapter books with him at night and he’s been enjoying the Chronicles of Narnia and the Boxcar children series.

Sam is loving that we live in a neighborhood with a bumper crop of kids his age (literally there is a child his age in every house from our house until the house just before the end of the block, two more on the other side of the street, one up the street in the other direction, another kiddy corner from us and two more on the cross street).  He spends lots of time with his friends.  Their favorite activity of late has been Legos, and Danny has gotten very involved in that too.  There are so many lego creations throughout our house.  In fact, the boys recently had their legos confiscated for a week because they had been neglecting their chores.  After scouring the house for legos Brittny finally decided she had found pretty much all of them and sent them into exile.  Over the next week enough legos were found in nooks and crannies throughout the house to build a spaceship!  Sam is very particular about things being in order and suffers from a little bit of anxiety in that regard.  We’ve been working to find ways to help him manage that anxiety and to focus his energy in a positive way.  One thing we’ve found that’s been especially helpful is a set of meditation recordings provided by the BYU Counseling department on their website for free.  The boys both enjoy choosing a meditation each night and we feel like it has helped Sam to manage his anxiety to some degree.

Brittny is always busy but wouldn’t have it any other way.  Toward the end of this summer she participated in a local political campaign, which you can read about here. Brittny’s real passion (besides motherhood) is maintaining her blog.  She doesn’t post as often as she would like, but hopes that someday she’ll be able to post regularly enough and get enough of a following to turn it into some sort of revenue stream for our family.  In addition to soccer coach, blogger and local political activist, Brittny is currently serving as our ward’s cub scout committee chair and signed up to be the room mom for Sam’s class.  Life is certainly never dull around our house!

Eric’s life has gone through some pretty major changes recently. While at the beginning of the year he thought he would stay at Adobe until retirement, since then he has gone through two job changes and left Adobe to go work for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as the Sr. Product Manager for their Analytics; basically he keeps track of how many people visited Church sites, watched their videos, and used their apps.  Yes, he’s very aware that you’re all waiting until the last minute on Saturday night to prepare your lessons! It’s definitely a culture shift (white shirts and ties are the norm) and longer commute (hour by train) for him, but he really enjoys the work he gets to be a part of and finds a lot of fulfillment in his role and responsibilities. Outside of work, Eric is usually working in his calling as Young Men’s President or participating in the Ward Choir. It doesn’t leave a lot of time for his mountain or dirt-biking pursuits, but he’s making time for skiing this season. He’d love to go with you, if you come out to Utah!

We wish you all a most Merry Christmas and a Happy 2015!  We hope you will all take a moment to stop and reflect on the true meaning of the season – the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ.  He lives, He loves us and we are eternally grateful for his sacrifice for us, and the gift of his life.

With Love,
The Hansens

2013 in Review

 - by Brittny

We decided that no one cared too much about what we did in 2013 until we could produce pictures of the most exciting part of 2014 – our new baby! February March April May is totally an acceptable time to do your end of the year update, right?  Forgive our tardiness, it’s been a little crazy around here.

So of course the biggest news is that baby –



Our little Maeli Esther Hansen was born on 09 January 2014 at 6:15am.  She was 7lbs 9oz and 19.5 inches long.  Surprisingly those stats matched Daniel’s stats precisely and I kept thinking I hadn’t remembered what they’d told me her length and weight were, that I was just mixing it up with Danny’s stats instead!  You can read her whole birth story here, although I’ll warn you – it’s super long (would you expect anything less?)  She’s been gaining weight well, at her 2 week check up she’d gained a full pound!  This has caused some problems though.  She’s gotten such awesome fat rolls around her neck that she has gotten milk stuck in the creases and gotten mild skin infections.  We’ve had to be more conscientious about really cleaning inside all of her fat rolls.  We’ve been surprised to see just how different it is having a girl from having a boy, even in just these first few months that we’ve had her.  One thing we’ve noticed is that she has ZERO tolerance for having a wet or dirty diaper in any degree.  This has been a surprising switch since Danny still has to be basically wrestled into having his diaper changed.  Maeli is a very pleasant baby and is happy to be on her own for stretches of time (so long as she is truly on her own and not being attacked by her brothers).  The very best bit of praise we can give her though is that she is an excellent sleeper!  Since we’re still working on sleep training Daniel, this is a VERY welcome change!  Maeli will go to bed in her own crib (just having her in her crib rather than our bed is a complete luxury for us) around midnight and sleep until 7:30am!  Then usually she’ll wake up, I’ll feed her in our bed, and she’ll go back to sleep and let me do the same.  Seriously, heaven is having a baby who will sleep through the night!  Another interesting switch for us is having a baby who likes having a pacifier, even when she’s not hungry.  Our boys both would take a pacifier for their first few months to delay a feeding, but once they were fed they had no desire for a pacifier.  On the other hand Maeli only wants a pacifier when she’s not hungry and just enjoys sucking on it.  It is sweet to see how much our boys love her.  Danny at first had a hard time with losing his spot as the baby.  The first couple weeks that Maeli was home he kept telling me that Maeli should go back into my tummy.  Unfortunately for him, even if it was possible, I was extremely disinclined to do so.  But he’s warmed up to her since then and now will frequently tell me “That’s my girl, don’t hurt my girl, I love my girl.”  It’s pretty sweet to see that transformation.  Sam loves her too but he didn’t have a difficult adjustment since he’d already been ousted as the baby when Daniel arrived.  We’re still working on him giving her some personal space though.  His favorite place is to have his face within inches of Maeli’s.  Overall though we’re just loving having her with us.


I guess we’ll work our way up through the family and tell you next about Daniel.  He is such an expressive boy! He is either on or off, and there does not seem to be much in between. It’s hard to explain just how much personality is wrapped up into that tiny little body.  And he really does have a tiny little body.  Although he just turned three a couple weeks ago he’s only just barely big enough to start wearing 2T clothes.  I think it’s part of what makes him so hysterical is how well he speaks and how big of a personality he has contrasted with this tiny person.  I recently wrote a post on my personal website about a day in my life as the mom of three kids.  More than one person noted that the only thing about that day that made it crazy, wasn’t the three kids – it was the one kid, two-year old Daniel.  I probably could have recognized that from a post I wrote earlier in the year about all the trouble he got into in a single day.  While he’s certainly a handful, for the most part he is incredibly hilarious and adorable to watch.  He loves to dance and is quite a natural when it comes to most physical tasks. If you ever see him riding his balance bike, you’ll see what we mean. He has no fear and complete confidence in his own sense of balance.  He loves riding his bike and does it complete with dirtbike sounds and a pantomime of putting on all of his dirt biking gear, just like his dad does.  He’s such a crack up.

We only made the mistake of leaving Eric’s dirt bike out in the driveway when Danny was out once, and after finding him having climbed up like this himself… we haven’t made that mistake again!

He is fiercely independent and thinks he can do anything that Sam can do.  We frequently find him at our next door neighbor’s house, having let himself in the backdoor and has found something to do over there.  However, he is also just as strongly attached to his parents.  We can’t leave him in nursery on his own without him dissolving into hysterics.  Although, if he doesn’t throw a fit he’s just as likely to just casually leave as if he was old enough to be trusted on his own.  Which is a pretty good summation of him, he thinks he’s an adult just in a little 3 year old body.  He will tell me  several times a day, with the utmost confidence and casualness, “Bye mom, I have to go to work.”  If I try to convince him that no, really, he needs to stay in the house, he will stick out his arm and cock his little head and say, “Well, I have to, I have meetings.”  He is impossible to argue with because he doesn’t really listen and he doesn’t care one bit what I’m telling him, he’s got meetings!  He’s got to go!

Along with his independence has come a very particular sense of style. Danny’s favorite thing to wear is boots.  Luckily we have a ton of different boots that came in the hand-me-downs I got from my uncle.  The best part is, they’re not Danny’s size, they’re Sam’s size.  So Danny clonks around in these HUGE boots all the time.  Mostly it’s the cowboy boots, but he also has a couple pairs of construction boots and some more stylish Ugg type boots that he will throw into the mix.  The only time I can convince him to wear something else is when he gets to wear his Sunday shoes with his suit to church.  I think he’s the only 2 year old boy that I’ve seen get excited about Sunday clothes :P

One of our biggest struggles with Danny is getting him to eat.  He’s not a picky eater, he will actually eat just about anything, in the right circumstances.  When I was growing up my family had what we called “Anderson Rules”, which meant that if you were going to make something to eat, you should definitely plan for at least half of what you were eating to be stolen by other family members in the vicinity. Eric and I have started also calling this “Social Eating Disorder”. Danny has a more extreme version of this Social Eating Disorder. Not only does he want whatever anyone else has… he *only* wants whatever someone else has. I can make him a taco and Sam a taco, and Danny won’t touch his taco, but will eat half of Sam’s. At times I’ve resorted to only fixing food for Sam, but in double quantities, and then splitting it in half. Fortunately, Sam is good at sharing or I think Danny might starve to death.

One last funny story about Danny.  Recently my parents were here and Danny was carrying around a little stuffed dog that he was calling Fluffy.  He’d taken Fluffy into my parents’ car as they were getting ready to leave and my dad told Danny to take Fluffy back so that it didn’t accidentally end up back in California.  Danny thought about this for a second and said “Grandpa, you take Fluffy so I have to come get it.”  Guess that’s one way to convince his parents to take him on a trip!


We cannot believe how fast our Sam is growing up.  He turned 5 in March and we’re still so amazed with how bright he is.  He’s started reading recently and has gotten really good at it.  The strange thing is that we really haven’t done much to “teach” him how to read, he’s just sort of picked it up.  People have asked me what I’ve been doing with him to get him reading so well so early and I really can’t give them a good answer.  We read bedtime stories every night, and he’s watched a lot of Super Why?  The truth is there isn’t much I could have done to stop him in his reading, he loves it and wants to be able to do it.  I want to share one of the funny stories from when he was starting to learn to read.  One day just before Thanksgiving I was driving around town with him and he was in the backseat and I could hear him (as is pretty typical) sounding out something that he’d seen on a sign.  I heard him saying “ffff…k, fffff….k”.  Slightly mortified at what he might have seen I asked him what he was reading.  He said “I saw a sign that had a 5 and a k, ffff…k”  Relieved, I laughed and explained to him that numbers don’t make sounds, that the sign just said 5k :P  I did not teach him what I *thought* he was trying to sound out!

Sam finished a year of preschool with our next door neighbor last spring and loved every minute of it.  It was a great stepping stone for him between joy school and Pre-K.  We enrolled him in the preschool offered by our elementary school this year.  It was a great option for us since it’s relatively inexpensive and he goes 4 days a week for 3 hours and he gets to ride the bus!  It seemed like a great program for him and another excellent stepping stone to starting kindergarten.

We struggled for the first couple weeks getting him to ride the bus in the mornings, which was kind of funny.  On the first day of school I drove him because he hadn’t yet been given a bus tag for his backpack.  I came back at noon to pick him up but he’d been given his bus tag by then and was all geared up to ride the bus, so I just watched him hop on and then drove home to the bus stop to wait for him to get there too.  A little bit silly, but it did give me some peace of mind that he’d gotten on the bus just fine.  The next morning we went to the bus stop and waited in line with all the kids to get on.  He got on without any problems, which wasn’t what I’d really expected but I was glad to see that he was fine.  As I started to walk away Sam comes tearing off the bus in hysterics.  As I hugged him he cried “This is the wrong bus!  This isn’t the bus I was on yesterday!”  I’m sure none of the other preschoolers would have even noticed but, the bus that they ride in the morning isn’t the same bus that they ride home.  They’re both standard issue yellow school buses, but they are two different buses.  I tried to explain this to him but he was too worked up to give my explanation any heed.  It wasn’t worth it to me to make the situation worse by forcing him to hop on the bus when he was so upset, so we walked home and I drove him to school, (which was no big deal since the school is only about 3 minutes away).  I went back to the school at noon to see if he needed a ride home, but he hopped on the bus again without any problem.  The rest of the week followed the same pattern – he wouldn’t ride in the mornings, but would ride just fine in the afternoons.  For Family Home Evening the next week he asked his dad for a father’s blessing and he was given some guidance and reassurance that he would be able to ride the bus without any problems.  The next day I also asked one of my friends if her daughter Cambria – a kindergartner who had ridden the bus the year before – would mind helping Sam get on the bus.  That did the trick.  Sam found that little girl and clung to her hand tightly while they got on the bus.  He still looked totally terrified, and I think she wasn’t totally thrilled about this little boy holding her hand, but it worked.  I followed the bus to the school so I could make sure that he was ok on the other end, which he was.  For the next month or so he would have to find Cambria and stay close to her while he got on the bus, but eventually he got the confidence to get on all by himself and we haven’t had any problems since.

Sam’s first day of school photo

The content of Sam’s preschool class is a little below his level.  He came home from school recently and Eric asked him what he’d learned that day and he said, “We learned that W says wuh wuh wuh, but I already knew that!”  Eric pressed him for something that he’d learned that was new, but every new piece of material that Sam presented was followed up by the same declaration of, “But I already knew that!”  Finally he came up with that he’d learned about ovals, which he’s been able to identify since before the school year began as well :P  Luckily, the academic side of preschool wasn’t what we enrolled him for.  We were mostly hoping that he would get a good chance to get social experience with other kids, so since he seems to be doing that we’re satisfied.  He had one kid that he would come home and tell me that the other kids weren’t very nice to.  I know the kid  and understand why he might be tough to get along with, but I told Sam that the only thing I cared about was that he could come home each day and tell me he’d been nice to this boy.  It took a few weeks of reminding him that we are nice to everyone, even if the other kids aren’t, but he did eventually start coming home and telling me he’d been nice to that boy during the day.

Sam is living in a five year old’s paradise.  Our neighborhood is teeming with kids his age.  On our side of the street from our house to the cul-de-sac (6 houses in total) there is a child his age in every house.  Plus another little boy his age 1 house over on the opposite side of the street, and another 5 kids whose houses we can see from our front porch!  This has of course meant that we have to deal with the problems of learning things we’d prefer he didn’t learn – normal kid things like fighting, not wanting to share, keeping secrets etc – but we’d prefer having to teach him how to deal with those things appropriately rather than him not having the opportunity to interact with other kids.

He’s a great big brother and very thoughtful towards those around him. We love having him as a good example to his siblings.  He is very loving towards Maeli, although not always the most gentle.  One of his favorite things is just to hold his little sister and it’s very sweet to see the two of them together.  He and Danny play together very well.  Sam likes to make up games and Danny is pretty good natured about going along with whatever Sam comes up with.  We’ve said very frequently that the best thing we ever did for Sam was creating his little brother.  They are such good friends which is very gratifying as parents.  We’re sure they’ll go through times of being less than the very best of friends, but we’re glad to see them getting along so well right now.

In the fall we enrolled Sam in some rec league soccer.  It was hysterical to watch!  The games were played down in Draper so they were close enough for Eric’s parents to come and watch as well.  For the first couple games there were a couple of little girls on his team that would hold hands while they walked around the field, and Sam was very rarely paying close attention to the ball.  We would watch him get right up to the ball… and get distracted by something else, or let the other team have it.  He doesn’t exactly have the killer instinct in him!  But it was a good experience for him and we enjoyed laughing our evenings away watching him.

Also this winter he got to try out skiing with his dad one day. Between this video and the soccer video you might gather that Sam isn’t exactly the most physically dextrous kid. That’s ok though, we enjoy watching him, and he has plenty of other talents to make up for it!

One of the funniest things lately is that he’s gotten very fixated on the BYU vs UofU rivalry.  Those who know us well know that we’re not very avid sports fans.  We enjoy watching some football sometimes, but we don’t really get into it too much.  Maybe we brought this upon ourselves by teaching him the Cougar fight song when he was just 2 years old.

Somehow though, Sam has really built up in his head that we are rabid BYU fans and that we HATE the UofU.  He refuses to wear red, and is biased against people with red cars.  Everything he wears has to be blue and he is very caught up in it.  A couple months ago my parents were in town for Maeli’s baby blessing and Sam ended up at my sister’s house with them.  My parents are Ute alumni and my dad was watching the UofU vs UCLA game.  Sam went up to him and said “Grandpa, you can’t watch this.  My mom and dad told me that BYU is the best team, and the Utes are the bad guys.”  My dad teasingly told him that while his parents were usually right, that in this instance they were wrong, that really the Utes were the better team.  Sam huffed off to a corner for a little while.  A few minutes later my sister heard him trying to leave their apartment.  She went over and asked him what was up and he said, “I counted to five and grandpa wouldn’t turn off the game, so I’m leaving!”  My sister told him that he was not old enough to leave on his own, and since it was her apartment and she’d ok-ed the game  it was fine if grandpa watched the game.  For the rest of the game Sam sat in the corner and sang under his breath,”BYU is the best, and Utah is not very good.  BYU are the good guys, and the Utes are the bad guys.   I like BYU, I don’t like the U.”  etc.  We’re not quite sure where this obsession came from but we’ve been spending a lot of hours trying to talk him into that good people can like different teams and still be good people…. I’m not sure how well that’s been going though :P


The biggest thing for Brittny this past year was of course being pregnant.  This pregnancy was MUCH harder than her previous two with “morning” sickness, back problems and early contractions – but you can read all about that in Maeli’s birth story if you feel so inclined.

This past year was interesting with the contract Brittny took on at Adobe.  The contract started in October of 2012 and was supposed to be a two month contract.  However as time went on the scope of the project increased and evolved.  That two month contract was extended to the end of January, then through April, then August, then October and finally all the way through December!  At the end of the contract she was offered a full-time position should she be inclined to take such work after Maeli was born.  She did consider trying to make things work out so she could maybe do the work from home, or have it be more part time, but in the end she decided that it was best for her to just be home full time with the kids and go back to taking on sporadic freelance projects.  She’s been very happy with that decision and frequently wonders why she even considered doing anything else!

Brittny served for most of the year as our ward’s Primary Secretary (where we had well over 160 kids, most under the age of 8).  It was a really fun calling for her and she enjoyed getting to be with the kids and use her technical capacities to benefit the ward.  She was a little bit dissapointed when she was released as she’d finally put together a lot of great resources to make her job easier, but she knew it was the right time for her to be doing something else.  Brittny’s new calling as Cub Scout Committee Chair has thrown her into a whole world with scouting.  We obviously haven’t had any sons go through scouting yet so it’s been a bit of baptism by fire while she learns the ropes.

With so much going on housekeeping certainly took the back burner over the past year.  However we’re starting to implement some new methodologies to help get everything done.  One thing we’ve been trying recently is putting everything that really needs to get done onto the calendar so that if it doesn’t get completed it has to be placed into a specific time frame on another day.  It makes Brittny feel more accountable for all of her tasks.  However, it also makes it so that her calendar looks like this –

Seeing that often makes her want to cry – especially knowing that nowhere on that calendar are the very real tasks of feeding Maeli, breaking up fights with the boys, or finding out whose house Danny has wandered off to.  But it’s gotten better, and she feels more accomplished and organized so in the end it’s more helpful to have it than to try to get things done without it :)



Eric’s spare time has become very precious lately.  Last March our ward was split which meant a lot of reshuffling for callings.  Eric was taken out as one our ward’s nursery leaders and called in as our ward’s Young Men’s President (although in our ward conference the high councilor accidentally said he was the Young Women’s president, which gave us a good giggle). We’ve discovered that the Young Men’s President is nearly as busy as the bishopric with all the meetings he has to attend!  But the experience has been good for Eric and he enjoys getting to associate with the Young Men.  He loves working with the youth and trying to help them through this important time of their lives. They went on a high adventure to Moab, UT this year, complete with mountain biking and a rafting trip down the Colorado river.

Rafting down the Colorado

His calling has given him a good excuse to get himself some new toys, like a new mountain bike for that high adventure.  He also has used his new calling as an excuse to trade-up his scooter for a new street-legal dirt bike.  It was much needed anyways as his scooter struggled getting up the mountain to our house.  One of the other men in our ward was excited to have a riding buddy and they took their bikes out on some trails just outside of our neighborhood on Eric’s second week having the bike.  His mom was none too pleased to watch the video from  his helmet-cam of him crashing on the very first downhill of the day.  His bike was broken (not badly, but it needed some fixing before it was rideable again) and Eric was pretty banged up.  We’re very grateful that he had some good protective gear – he escaped with some good scrapes and bruises, but nothing more severe than that.

In addition to the outdoor activities with his Young Men Eric took advantage of Adobe’s wellness credit this past year to get himself a ski pass at Snowbird, and a friend’s connections to get himself some new skis.  He’s been able to take advantage of both of those things and had some fun days skiing this past winter.  You can read more about his skiing adventures on his blog.


At the top of Brighton on a beautiful day, Mt. Timpanogos in the background.

On the other end of the activities spectrum, Eric organized and captained an eSports team at Adobe last Spring to play League of Legends.  It might seem like a strange thing to some people, but think of it like your company’s recreational softball team, but for computer games.  They played against teams from other companies like Microsoft, Amazon and Rockstar Games.  The league plays for a prize of $5,000 that goes to the winning team’s charity of choice.  Adobe’s team played for the Huntsman Cancer Institute.  They had a difficult start to the season, but were doing fairly well towards the end and even made it into the playoffs, but were bumped out before making it to the final game.  It was a fun experience and a good excuse for Eric to justify his gaming to Brittny (“But honey, it’s for charity!”).  This year they weren’t able to renew their team as the league decided to be more strict about the games being played on Sunday afternoons rather than being flexible to allow for other times.  For a team based out of Utah and predominantly LDS the Sunday afternoon time frame wasn’t something they could work with, but it was a fun experience!

Eric’s career has been an adventure recently. In July he was able to take a 1 month sabbatical in honor of his completion of 5 years with Adobe.  A pretty neat milestone to have reached for sure!  He spent a lot of the time very busy with the aforementioned youth activities – high adventure, scout camp, & even girl’s camp each claimed a portion of that time.  He also was able to come with us to California for a family reunion, and spent some time on a YouTube music project.  It was awesome to have that time to really recharge his batteries.  During that time Brittny asked him repeatedly if the time away had made him want to reconsider what he was doing or try something else, but his answer was that while he was really enjoying the break, he really loved being in product management and wouldn’t change his career path at the time.

Just after Maeli was born Eric went in for his end of the year check-in and found out that due to budget cuts his position with the company had been eliminated.  It wasn’t too surprising since he knew that the across the board budget cuts were going to be in place, and he knew that he’d had to beg, barter and steal for the resources he’d gotten for his products, but it was still very hard to have his job taken away.  He was given a very generous severance package and the search for a new job began.  At first we were almost excited to have Eric home and being paid without having to work.  But we quickly discovered that searching for a new job is at least as time consuming, and twice as stressful as having a busy job.  He pursued several different opportunities but in the end felt best about accepting a position as a Senior Technical Consultant right back at Adobe!  He started work in his new position before he had actually been terminated as an employee so he was able to retain all of his benefits, 401k vesting, progress towards earning his next sabbatical etc.  Of course, somehow things were overlooked so on the day he was supposed to have been terminated he woke up to find that he had no access, his cell phone had been turned off, and all of his benefits had been cancelled, but that was all quickly remedied.  His new position has him providing Adobe’s services for their clients and helping with implementation.  The work is less challenging for him than product management was, and while he misses being part of the big picture decision making and guidance of a product, we’re enjoying the pay raise, and that he’s home at a more consistent and earlier time each day.  In his first week on the job he gained the distinction of being the first technical consultant to bill hours to clients in that time.  Apparently the onboarding process is usually much longer and because of his previous experience with the company he’s been able to bill full weeks of his time to clients in about half the time that it’s taken other consultants.  With his work being less challenging he’s been seeking out other projects to occupy his time and his mind.  Right now he has a lot of different ideas of what he’s going to do, but hasn’t yet settled on any one in particular.  Hopefully by the next time we write our yearly update we’ll have some new fun project that he’s been working on to announce :)

Maeli’s birth also meant that we had to reshuffle rooms upstairs.  We had to reclaim our guest room as the nursery, and bumped Eric out of his office to put the guest bed in there.  So he was moved downstairs into our front room.  Since that room was open to our entryway it meant we needed to make more changes to close the room off to make it an office.  Brittny’s mom had given us the idea to use pocket doors on that room so the room could retain some multi-functional ability.  We found a contractor in July who was going to help us with the project.  We purchased all of the supplies, but the doors took longer than anticipated to arrive (they had broken on arrival the first time).  In the time that it took for us to receive the materials the contractor’s family had decided to move to Georgia and he was no longer able to help us.  He referred us to a friend who was willing to do the work for the same price… however just after putting us on his schedule he suffered a rotator cuff injury.  Rather than having the project completed in September we’d be looking at doing the work in December.  Since we wanted to get the work done before Maeli’s arrival that seemed like it was cutting it too close.  So we started looking for someone else.

In November my visiting teacher referred us to a recently immigrated contractor who gave us a quote for 1/6th the cost of the original contractor.  That seemed like a deal that was too good to pass up so we scheduled a time for him to come.  However, the day we had scheduled…. he didn’t show up.  In the end we decided that was probably best as the price that he’d given us wouldn’t even cover the materials needed so we’re not sure what he would have really been able to do.  December was so busy with Christmas and preparations for Maeli’s arrival so we pushed the project back until after she had come.  In the meantime we moved Eric’s office into the front room and he just worked in an open concept office for a little while.  Then of course, when Eric lost his job we decided to postpone the project yet again.

Finally right after Eric got his new position we were talking one night about looking for a contractor to do the work again when I received an email out of the blue from my other visiting teacher with a recommendation for a contractor.  We called him up the next day and were able to get on his schedule for the following week.  He was able to get the doors up in just over a week and Eric finally has a closed off office again!  We’re very pleased with how it all turned out, even if it was about 8 months later than planned!

The door project from start to finish

Given the nature of Eric’s work and hobbies, he realized he spends a lot of time sitting at a computer. So to counteract this, Eric has recently taken to a new lifestyle to help keep him active: walking while working. He’s set up a workstation at home and at the office so he can work on his laptop while walking on a treadmill. Where he used to get only 3,000 steps in a day, he now averages over 15,000 steps a day! He’s feeling much healthier and lost 10 lbs. just in his first month of trying it out.  You can read more about his experience with this on his blog.

Introducing Maeli Esther Hansen

 - by Brittny

Our beautiful baby girl :)

Well, since my last post was announcing the gender of our baby, and since she’s now two months old, I guess it’s fitting that this one is to announce the arrival of that baby (see also: I’ve been a terrible blogger and need to repent)!  Our daughter was born on 09 January 2014 at 6:15am.  She weighed in at 7lbs 9oz and measured 19.5 inches long.  We’ve named her Maeli Esther Hansen.  Maeli is Mandarin (pronounced May-lee) and it means beautiful.  We later found out it also means calm, or peaceful in Polynesian.  Esther is Eric’s paternal grandmother’s middle name, as well as obviously the name of the biblical heroine.

Note: This post is extremely long (no surprise there), I wanted to document a lot of the pregnancy and some experiences that lead up to Maeli’s birth for my own sake as much as anything else. If you’d like to skip that and just read the actual birth story you can click here to skip to that part of the post. Or feel free to just scan through for pictures, I won’t be offended :)

We went through a lot of debate on what to name her.  Maeli has been on Eric’s list of girl’s names since we first got married since it’s a Chinese name, but one that doesn’t sound strange to an American ear.  I loved the idea when we first were pregnant with Sam but obviously, he wasn’t a girl so we didn’t use it then.  Since then, I’ve found that I loved having scriptural names for both of our boys so that as we’ve read our scriptures I could point out to them “Hey look, Samuel the Lamanite, just like our Samuel!” or “Hey, we’re talking about Daniel and the lion’s den, we have a Daniel in our family too!”  I really like having good role models for them to look up to in the scriptures.  So I wanted our daughter to have a scriptural name.  I’ve also liked that our boys have middle names that are family names (Samuel Eric obviously after his dad, and Daniel Curtis after my dad).  I wanted to do the same thing for our daughter, but we weren’t planning on giving her a middle name – which meant we had a pretty tall order to fill.  Maeli didn’t fit either of those criterion.  I also feel like physical appearance is too big of a focus for most women and I didn’t want a daughter being raised thinking that physical beauty was what we prized above all else in her.  So there was a lot of back and forth.  Maeli wasn’t sitting right, and neither was Esther or any of the other names on our list.  I just didn’t feel settled.  Finally one day I had the idea of breaking tradition and giving our daughter a middle name.  Suddenly the name just felt right – Maeli Esther.  I really like the way her name all goes together with the meanings too.  Beauty, both in appearance and spirit, was obviously a quality of Queen Esther that factored heavily into her story.  Esther in Persian means star, so Maeli is our beautiful, peaceful star.  I especially liked passing along Eric’s grandmother’s middle name after getting to know more about her during her funeral in December of 2012 – not long before we decided it was time to have another baby.  She was an incredible woman and someone that I’d love for my daughter to emulate.  I’d like to think that Maeli and her Great Grandma Leona spent some time together on the other side as they were coming and going.

Anyways, that’s how Maeli got her name, here’s the story of how she got here.  As those of you who follow me on Facebook probably already know, this was a rough pregnancy for me.  I can’t complain too much because I know there are many women who have much worse. Even still, this pregnancy was a lot tougher than my previous two and I felt pretty beat up overall.  First of all, my “morning” sickness was much worse this time around than with Sam or Danny.  I’ve heard some women say that they have easier pregnancies with girls, and some say they have easier pregnancies with boys.  Apparently I’m the type of woman that was made for bearing sons, not daughters.  With Maeli I was sicker and for longer.  I only actually threw up once (yes, I can hear those of you who’ve had real issues with morning sickness starting an orchestra with the world’s smallest violins) but I felt like garbage for about 4 months.  Food was very unappealing to me and I was near throwing up on a daily basis.  I was only able to keep it under control with a regimen of vitamins and forcing myself to eat the right things at the right times even when I didn’t want to.  My gag reflex was also so much more severe for the whole pregnancy than it usually is, and while it’s better now, I’m starting to think that my normally strong gag reflex might never return.

So, that part wasn’t very fun, but that wasn’t what really made this pregnancy difficult.  The real problem was my back.  I’d had some problems towards the latter end of my pregnancy with Danny, but this time around I started having problems at around 8 weeks.  By the time I was about 14 weeks I had frequent days where I would not be able to walk at the end of the day because my back was in such terrible shape.  I was really worried about what I was going to do.  Dealing with some issues for the last few weeks of a pregnancy is expected, but starting at 8 weeks?!  Not being able to walk for 7 months was not really an option as a mother of two boys.  So, I started to go to a chiropractor.  I’ve always been a little dubious of chiropractic care but, through regular visits she was able to get me back on my feet and I was able to walk again.  I still had to limit what I did so that I didn’t push myself too far.  However, by 25 weeks I stopped having episodes of not being able to walk.  Our house didn’t stay especially clean and I felt exceptionally lazy, but being able to walk up the stairs at the end of the day was worthwhile.

After I got my back under control then my blood pressure started getting low.  Luckily, this had also happened with my pregnancy with Daniel so I knew what to expect and how to keep that under control as well.  Lots of water, don’t freak out when it feels like your heart can’t keep up, lay in specific positions etc.  As scary as the feeling is, knowing what was going on made it much easier to work with.  Then at about 32 weeks I started having lots of contractions.  I’d had some Braxton Hicks with both of my boys so I wasn’t surprised to have the contractions, but I was surprised at the frequency and intensity so early on.  Every time I would get up and try to do just about anything – picking up toys, fixing meals, washing dishes – I would start to have regular contractions that would only be stopped when I sat down.  I was very concerned that I would end up having Maeli prematurely.  My sister had her baby at 35 weeks and so I’ve seen that those babies turn out just fine.  But I’ve also seen how miserable their first few weeks of life are, and I wouldn’t wish that on anyone.  I mentioned these contractions to my midwife and she told me what I expected to hear – my cervix wasn’t changing yet (which is what they would worry about) but don’t push it.  If activity made them come on stronger, then I needed to limit my activity.  Simple instructions but I was again reduced to feeling terribly lazy.

Luckily I continued to not make progress for another 5 weeks.  Once I got to a point where we safely could have her (37 weeks) I started trying to do more of my regular activities, and pushing myself further but of course, if I induced lots of contractions at a time I just felt like garbage by the end of the day.  Over the next three weeks I tried lots of things to help convince Maeli to come a little bit early.  I was hoping that she would arrive before the new year so that we could have all of the medical bills in one year.  Plus, it would certainly have been nice to have gotten the tax break for another dependent for 2013.  Even more so, my parents were able to come to Utah for Christmas and the week or so following and were hoping for Maeli to arrive before they left.  Well, they all came for Christmas and I hadn’t had the baby yet.  The boys all went skiing on Christmas and my dad injured his knee requiring further surgery – no baby.  My brother Cody stayed up here to have sinus surgery and my mom stayed with him for an extra week while he recovered, still no baby.  My mom and Cody finally decided they would stay up until my due date, and then they would have to give up on me and go home.

The day before my due date (03 January) I had an appointment with my midwife.  All this time I’d been having so many contractions, I’d been drinking red raspberry tea, using sage oil, walking stairs, and trying all kinds of things to induce labor.  While all of those measures would get contractions going, even going at a relatively regular pace, none of them got actual labor started.  So when I went in to my midwife I was feeling pretty run down.  I had thought that she’d said that at this appointment they were going to perform a non-stress test on the baby and do an ultrasound to check if it was time to give the baby an eviction notice.  Apparently I’d misheard because that was actually what would happen at the next appointment if I made it that far.  But thinking it was this appointment I brought my mom, the boys and Eric to the appointment since I thought they would all enjoy seeing Maeli in the ultrasound.  I felt like a bit of an idiot when I discovered my error.  At the end of my appointment my midwife told me that whenever I wanted to have the baby she’d be happy to have me come to the hospital and she would break my water.  I’d made enough progress that she could induce me by breaking my water (which would be my preference) rather than using pitocin.  She had another mom laboring that night so she seemed to be hinting that as long as she was there she might as well have two patients.

I was really torn, I was very done being pregnant, my mom was going to leave the next day, it was a Friday afternoon so we’d have the whole weekend for rest and recovery… the timing was very appealing.  However, I have a strong personal belief that it’s best for babies to let them stay put until they’re done, not just when the mom is done.  I just think that Heavenly Father designed the whole process so that the baby can come when it is totally developed and really ready for the world.  I know that babies are just fine when they are induced, but it just seems like they’re better off if they can come on their own timing.  I’d also read a blog post that put forth the idea that maybe babies that are overdue are saying their last goodbyes and getting their last bits of instruction on the other side, and it’s a little rude to take that away from them just because we’re uncomfortable.   Obviously that’s not doctrine, but the idea sat well in my mind.  So, I had a hard time thinking of forcing Maeli out before her time.  Also, it’s rather difficult to think of making yourself go through labor right away.  Even though it would make me much more comfortable in the long run, and I was going to have to go through it eventually anyways, it was still hard to contemplate making myself do it.  I waffled for a lot of the evening, and finally my decision was made for me as much because it had gotten too late as anything else.  In the end I did feel better about that decision (or lack of decision), but I did feel like I was cheating everyone else out of an easy fix just to accommodate my birthing preferences.

A day or so after my mom left Eric made the comment to me that he didn’t really think that I’d ever go into labor on my own and that we’d probably end up inducing me anyways.  While that was sort of how I was feeling too, him saying it out loud sort of broke my spirit.  While I’ve always had these beliefs that the best thing to do is to let babies come when they’re ready, I’d never gone into labor on my own before.  I’d ended up being induced with both of my boys out of medical necessity.  I was desperately hoping to go into labor on my own, but I was starting to believe that despite all the contractions that I’d had, it was just never going to happen.  Maybe my body just didn’t know how to initiate labor.  I was crushed.  I spent the next couple days in a bit of a funk and just feeling depressed that it wasn’t ever going to happen.  I’d sent my mom back home (who I would have liked to have had there for the delivery) and I’d end up being induced anyways.  Eric didn’t know before reading this post that his comment had hurt me so much, and I don’t blame him for how I was feeling at all.  These feelings had been there before but him saying it made me face them.  It was just the thing that pushed me over the edge.  I was in a bit of a dark spot for a few days.

Then on Tuesday, 07 January one of my friends posted a link to this article – God will give you more than you can handle: I guarantee it.  Basically the post says that life is hard, it’s supposed to be hard, and it’s even supposed to be more than we think we can take, but if we turn ourselves over to Christ He can help us through it and we can handle our trials with Him.  (Obviously all that was expressed much better in the author’s blog post than I did in one sentence, but that was my basic takeaway)  I cried as I read through that post.  That was exactly how I’d been feeling.  While the trial I’d been given surely wasn’t to the magnitude of Job, I was about to the end of my rope and didn’t know how much longer I could hold on.  After being sick, having back problems, contractions without end for months, I just was worn out.  I knew I could turn to the Lord for help, but somehow this helped me realize that I needed to, and it was ok.  I wasn’t just being a baby.  This was why Christ suffered for us, so that He could help us in times of need and that I not only could but should turn to Him for help.  I prayed more diligently for help and I really felt a lot better and like I could handle what I was going through.  I was even able to accept that I probably would have to be induced, and that that would be ok.

The Birth

In the evening on Wednesday I was having regular contractions again, but that had happened towards the end of just about every day for the last month so I tried not to get my hopes up.  After the boys were in bed Eric and I spent a little bit of time together and watched a show.  I also drank some more red raspberry tea and used more of the sage oil.  The contractions weren’t really letting up, even when I laid down.  I was getting hungry so I got up and made myself a quesadilla, just in case I did go into labor I didn’t want to be hungry.  The contractions were getting pretty regular but I decided I’d try to get some sleep and figured that if I could sleep through them then they weren’t intense enough for me to go to the hospital.  So I went to bed around 11pm.

Sometime after that Danny climbed into bed with Eric and me.  I wasn’t sleeping really well, but I was at least resting and getting intermittent brief naps.  At about quarter to 2am I woke up with Danny’s head against my head, pushing me out of the bed.  Annoyed, I decided to get up and go to the bathroom rather than attempting to just reposition myself.  While I was going to the bathroom I realized that my contractions were really getting to be rather uncomfortable and that I’d had 3 of them within 10 minutes.  I imed Eric (who hadn’t been able to sleep either but was trying also to rest a little bit) and told him that we should probably get going to the hospital.  He quickly got out of bed, and started gathering the few things that we would need to go to the hospital.  He called his parents and asked them to come stay with the boys.  When we were pretty much all ready to go Eric called one of our neighbors to ask her to come wait with our kids until his parents came.  I felt really bad in retrospect about having her come because as we weren’t 5 minutes from our house when we saw his parents’ van driving down the mountain to our house.  We’d thought it would have taken them longer to get out the door and didn’t want to wait for too long before leaving, but we could have certainly waited 5 more minutes had we realized they were that close.  On the way to the hospital I texted this picture to my family:

Baby mario

Baby Time!

To most people it probably seems exceedingly stupid that I sent my family a picture of Baby Mario from Mario Kart Wii.  It probably is.  But it’s an inside family joke.  When I was pregnant with Sam my family was really into playing Mario Kart.  If you play Mario Kart as Baby Mario his little catchphrase is “Baby time”!  So towards the end of my pregnancy with Sam my family would text me, or call me, or message me and ask if it was “baby time” with Baby Mario’s silly voice.  This was my way of letting them know that it was in fact, baby time :)  Like I said, it really was stupid, but I’d thought of it a few days before and downloaded the picture of Baby Mario to my phone just for the occasion.  My family got a kick out of it and it told them everything they needed to know.  This picture was indeed worth a thousand words!

We arrived at the hospital and were into the room by about 3am.  The nurses called my midwife to see if she would admit me.   I was 3cm dilated and fully effaced (if my memory serves me correctly) and having contractions about every 3-5 minutes, so the nurses were reasonably certain I’d be admitted.  Eve approved my admission and things got started.  I’d thought that Eve and I had made a deal beforehand that I didn’t have to have an IV (if you haven’t been a previous reader of our blog I have a pretty severe phobia of needles).  Apparently the deal I’d actually made was that since they had to do blood work anyways they could set up an IV then.  Boo.  So the nurses tried to get an IV in me between contractions.  The first attempt failed as they hit a valve in my hand.  My hand was bruised for probably 3 weeks afterwards.  Luckily, the other part of my deal with Eve was that we would only make one attempt with the IV and if it failed we’d just do the blood work the easier way and forego the IV.  My contractions were strong enough at that point that I was having to really focus and breathe through them.  I was loath to lose my down time between contractions freaking out about having the blood work done.   Finally we decided to just do the blood work during a contraction and even though it made for a more miserable contraction, we were able to get the blood work done and I didn’t have to give up my brief resting period.  I don’t know exactly how long everything took, but Eric posted to Facebook at 4:30am that we’d successfully completed the blood draw and that contractions were coming 2 minutes apart at that point.  That’s probably about right with all the admissions questions that were asked, getting changed, calling the midwife, two attempts at the bloodwork etc, an hour and a half doesn’t seem unreasonable, but my sense of time is very skewed as you might imagine.

By 5:09am I was dilated to 6cm, but my water still hadn’t broken (yes, I’m relying on the posts Eric did on Facebook to help me with my timeline, they’re the only real markers I have).  I think it was a little while before or just after that check I needed to go to the bathroom so they disconnected my monitors and Eric helped me to the restroom.  I was very uncomfortable at that point and hoped that emptying my bladder would help a little.  While we were in the bathroom I asked Eric to run back to the bed for one of the vomit bags, and then I rid myself of the quesadilla I’d had the night before.  Guess I would have been better off being hungry when I went into labor :P  As intense as labor was getting at that point, I did feel a little better after that.  At least all of the action was concentrated on the main event and not split with my digestive system.

When we went back to the bed I don’t think my monitors got hooked up correctly and they stopped registering my contractions, and we didn’t have those monitors working for the rest of the time.  I know a lot of women don’t like the monitors but they were really helpful for me because Eric could see when I was having  a contraction and would help talk me through them.  However, luckily Eric is awesome and quickly learned to take me squeezing his hand as a signal that a contraction was starting and would help count off the rise and fall of them without the assistance of the monitor from that point on.  One of the nurses even commented afterwards that she wanted to have Eric come in and train all the dads on how to support their wives during labor.  I don’t think she was just being nice either, Eric really has been an incredible support to me in all three of my labors.  I don’t know what I would have done without him.

A sneak peak to after the birth – Eric and Maeli’s first picture together :)

A little before 6am I asked Eric if he could give me a blessing between my contractions.  However, after the next contraction I told him that I was having a hard time not pushing against the contractions.  He called the nurse and asked her to check me.  They didn’t really think that there was going to be much progress made because I’d been laboring pretty quietly.  They thought they’d be coming in and telling me I’d made minimal progress if any.  However when the nurse checked me she was surprised to find that I was almost fully dilated.  They quickly called Eve and told her it was time to come in and deliver this baby (she was still at home in bed at this point)!  The next 10 minutes while we waited for Eve to get there were some of the longest of my life.  Any woman who has had the urge to push and tried to hold back against it knows that it is one of the hardest things you could ever have to do.  There really isn’t a comparison, but imagine the urgency of an EXTREMELY full bladder, like you’ve drunk 2 gallons of water all at once type full, and now you’re locked in a room watching videos of waterfalls and are not permitted to pee.  It’s not a perfect analogy, but that’s an idea of what the feeling is like.

After the nurse checked me and had left the room Eric gave me the requested blessing.  It wasn’t a long blessing (there was only about 60 seconds between my contractions at this point), but it gave me a lot of comfort.  Basically I was told that I was so close to the end and that I wasn’t alone and that everything would be ok.  I was once again so very grateful to have my wonderful Eric there with me.

Finally Eve came.  After a contraction she checked me and said there was just a tiny bit of cervix left before I should start to push.  After one more contraction that was gone.  She broke my water and then I was ready to push on the next contraction.  On the first contraction afterwards they could see Maeli’s head.  The nurses and Eve told me afterwards they were impressed with the control I had to push her out slowly which saved me from much tearing.  On the next contraction I was able to push her out completely.  They cut the cord and we had our sweet Maeli here.  I thought they’d already delivered the placenta but I still felt weird, like there was still something inside of me that wasn’t really part of me.  A few minutes later they delivered the placenta and I finally felt like I was normal again.  I don’t know how else to describe the feeling of relief and peace from being done with the whole ordeal.  I certainly wasn’t normal again, I’d just gone through childbirth, a process that certainly deserves some recovery.  But after the whole ordeal of pregnancy, with back pains, nausea, tons of contractions… it felt so good to be done.  I feel like I really understand why they call it being “delivered” of the baby.  I did feel like I’d been delivered from a very difficult ordeal and it was finally – after 9 long months – over.

Brittny and Maeli after the birth

One of the awesome things about the hospital we delivered at (Lone Peak Hospital) is that they have rooms that are LDRP – meaning that you stay in the same room for labor, delivery, recovery and post-partum.  With Sam and Danny I’d had to move rooms after a brief recovery period (like one hour) to another unit.  It was so wonderful to not have to move!  They had Eric help wash Maeli in the sink right there in the room and everything that was done was done right there in the room.  The only time they had to take Maeli out the entire time we were there was for a brief hearing test.  It was wonderful.

As soon as the nurses had pretty much cleared out (probably by 8am or so?) Eric called his parents to see when they could bring the boys to come meet their new sister.  They decided to come around 10am.  Eric changed into some pajamas and almost immediately passed out on the couch.  When the boys came in they tried snuggling with him and talking to him, but he was out cold.  He did sort of say hi to the boys and give them hugs, but he didn’t even remember doing that much later.  Luckily the boys were just happy to see Maeli and their mom and didn’t mind too much that their dad was unresponsive.

Our three beautiful children, aren’t they great?

Eric was rightfully extremely tired from the whole ordeal.  Although, he did say it was better that he hadn’t gotten to sleep the night before because if he’d only gotten a few hours of sleep and then been woken up he probably wouldn’t have been nearly as helpful as he was during the birth.  It wouldn’t have been so good to have mostly asleep, non-responsive bear Eric during labor :)  I on the other hand tried to sleep but I was too amped up from the whole experience and couldn’t really sleep.  I rested and tried to even do so with my eyes closed, but I finally accepted that it was just as good to rest with my phone in my hand and playing on Facebook as I was pretending that I was going to get any sleep.  When Eric woke up we watched some TV together and just enjoyed a day of resting, being together, and having our new baby there.

My sister Taylor came with her husband Ryan and son Skylar in the evening, along with our boys and Eric actually got to see them that time.  I hadn’t realized it because we’d had the blinds drawn in our room, but that day we’d had a pretty significant snow storm.  We were really lucky that Maeli came when she did because we were able to drive to the hospital in a lull between the storm.  It had been snowing really well in the morning on Wednesday and I’d expected terrible road conditions but we were pleasantly surprised.  When we drove down the mountain in the middle of the night the roads were actually totally clear and we’d had perfect visibility the whole way.  When my sister was driving back to my house on Thursday night the roads were pretty bad again.  I think angels were definitely watching over us and making sure we didn’t get stuck in that storm!

We sent Maeli to the nursery for the night so that I could actually get some sleep.  The next morning we were ready to go home.  We got the ok from all the doctors and by noon we were discharged and heading home to our sweet boys.  They’d had a pretty rough time with us gone and it was good to have us all home and get to start our new chapter of life together as a family of five :)

California Thanksgiving

 - by Brittny

Thanksgiving this year found us down in Southern California.  I can’t say it would have been my first choice to make the long trip while 34 weeks pregnant.  In fact, shortly after I found out I was pregnant I informed my mom not to expect us to come down for Thanksgiving… and definitely not for Christmas.  However, about a month before Thanksgiving, my little brother Jayson announced that he was getting sealed that weekend.  I was NOT going to miss that just because I was pregnant!  So we decided we’d suck it up and make the trek.

Since we had recently bought a new van we had enough room to accommodate our family as well as my sister’s family so that they could come as well.  It was also to my benefit at that stage in the pregnancy to have the more space that our van would afford over our Corolla.  My sister arranged to get off work on Monday at 3pm so that we could get on the road before too late.  That morning I was trying to get us all packed up and cleaned up but between a bad back and some pretty regular preterm contractions that I’d been having I was disinclined to push myself too far.  Eric of course had to get work finished before we could leave so he was in the office and wasn’t able to help me get things in order.  So I puttered around the house and got as much done as I could without either aggravating my back or inducing contractions.  Luckily Eric was able to come home early and help get things finished off. We ended up leaving a little later than we’d intended, but (if we’re honest) probably not much later than we expected.

We knew that even with the extra space in the van it would be a tight squeeze in a 7 passenger minivan with 4 adults and 3 kids.  I’d hoped that we could fit all three full sized carseats in the backseat, but we had no such luck.  We ended up putting Danny and Skylar (our 3 year old nephew) on the sides of the backseat in regular carseats and squished poor Sam in the middle of them with his booster seat.  Unfortunately we’d used the anchor system for the bigger carseats but there was only one anchor in the middle of the backseat so the bigger carseats sorta leaned in too.  Luckily Sam was a really good sport about it but I still felt bad for him, he definitely got the bum end of that deal.

The majority of the trip was relatively uneventful.  Each of the boys sat in the back with headphones and a tablet and the adults rotated between listening to different programs together, or separately as couples or on our own with headphones.  That is until we were about 2 hours out from our destination, when our nephew Skylar puked all over himself.  So we pulled off to the side of the road and tried to clean things up as best we could without any supplies at 1am.  Then we drove a little further, negotiated for a Subway plastic sack for him to throw up in and inched our way back to Thousand Oaks.  It was a pretty miserable way to finish off the drive.  I was less tolerant of the situation than I would normally be as my gag reflex during the pregnancy was far below what it is normally.  In the end we did make it back to my parents’ house alright and were glad to be there.

Skylar was sick for the next day but then seemed to get better.  We spent the next couple days lounging around at my parents’ house (a kid’s paradise), going to the beach and making Thanksgiving preparations.  Thursday was (of course) Thanksgiving, and the day was well spent preparing and eating food and counting our blessings.  I don’t think there’s anything in this world that can make me feel as grateful as just being with family.  I feel truly blessed to have the most wonderful family on all sides – older generations, younger generations, through blood and through marriage.  I can’t think of anything in this world I could want more than to get to be around them.

On Friday we were very busy making all of the wedding preparations.  My brother and his wife had eloped and we didn’t get to celebrate their marriage at the time so my parents planned a reception for them following the sealing ceremony on Saturday.  Jayson has always been a bit of a picky eater so coming up with something fun to eat at the reception that still bore his seal of approval was a bit of a trick.  They settled on Chinese food, which was pretty fun.  My mom tried to make most of it herself to save on the cost, so Friday found us cooking up lots of rice and chicken and going to several stores for different ingredients.

Saturday morning came and we got everyone ready to go down to the temple without too much incident, except that Kyle was sick and couldn’t come with us to the temple.  Luckily, he’s not old enough to attend the sealing anyways, but we were all a little bummed that he couldn’t be there.  He’s been fighting with some pretty intense health problems recently  so we all assumed that his pre-existing problems were acting up again and didn’t think much of it.

On the drive to the temple Danny was a bit of a pickle.  We were almost to the temple when we heard him dump out an entire bag of dried apples in the backseat.  Not just a little sandwich baggie, but a big gallon sized bag of apples that Taylor had dehydrated herself.  Luckily we’d already eaten the better part of the apples, but we were still rather upset with Danny for dumping them out.  So we demanded an apology from Danny.  After refusing a few times he said, “Well, I not am sorry.  I not will say sorry.” in a tone that was so matter-of-fact that we had a hard time not busting a gut laughing.  What a punk!  We threatened all kinds of different things, but his response was the same, “I not am sorry.  I not will say sorry.”  That kid is hysterical, and he’s going to be the death of me :P

The sealing itself was just beautiful.  I don’t remember all the things that the sealer told Jayson & Ashley, but I remember the feeling that was there.  There was a certain feeling of elation at finally getting to be there and having this ceremony performed for them.  I think everyone in the room felt like they had been a part of that journey in some sense or another and we all felt like we – not just they – had made it to the finish line.  Of course this wasn’t at all the end, it’s the mark of a beginning, but I think we were all grateful to have been a part of the journey that got them to this point.

After the sealing we went outside to wait for Jayson and Ashley to come out.  Just ahead of them was a couple who had also scheduled their sealing for that day.  However, they’d gotten the wrong license from the state and weren’t able to be married that day!  Their family had all come in from Mexico and around the country for their wedding, only to find out they had the wrong paper work and couldn’t be married that day at all.  Isn’t that about the saddest thing you’ve ever heard of?!  Apparently there are a few different kinds of marriage licenses that the State of California will issue, and one is more of a license to co-habitate, but not to be married (I don’t understand it either), and that was the license that they had gotten.  So they took all their pictures, and were going to go have their reception that night… but they wouldn’t be able to be married until Monday when the county offices opened up again and they could get the right paperwork.  They still all looked so happy and I think they were having a good attitude about the whole thing, but my heart broke for them.  Luckily the temple president said that they would open up the temple especially for this couple on Monday so they could be sealed (temples are closed on Mondays).  I still can’t get over that situation.  Can you imagine showing up for your wedding and being told you couldn’t get married that day because of a clerical error?!!  I would have been devastated.

Anyways, after Jayson and Ashley came out we did some pictures.  The photographers had a hay day following around Sam, Skylar and Danny.  They looked so cute in their little suits walking around like little men.

Picture credit: Erik Hokom Photography

There’s something about Danny’s stance in this next picture that I find just hilarious. It reminds me so much of Eric’s dad, I’m not exactly sure why, but it *really* does.

Just in case you looked at that last picture and thought, “Oh Brittny, you big baby, you weren’t really all that pregnant, quit whining.” Uhm, no really, here I am sideways. I really was THAT pregnant :P

After pictures we had to race back home so that we could get all of the food ready.  My parents had to stop Diddy Riese for the cookies and ice cream for the reception (they opted to make ice cream sandwiches with legit cookies and ice cream rather than having cake) but Eric and I went back to the house to start making LOTS of fried rice.  When my dad got home he immediately went up to his room and laid down dead.  He was starting to feel sick just like Kyle had been that morning.  My mom wasn’t feeling too great either but had to press on to get all the preparations done.  I was sent out to a Chinese restaurant in Newbury Park for some of the food and lost my phone on the way, making me late.  But in the end we all made it to the church with all the food and the reception was lovely.

Towards the end of the reception Cody made a quick exit and made it as far as mostly through the Relief Society room before he lost his cookies.  We sent him home to get changed and go to bed and the reception wound up pretty quickly shortly thereafter.  That night my mom, dad, Kyle, Cody, Ryan, Taylor and Ashley all came down with the stomach bug.  We think it’s the same bug that Skylar had at the beginning of the week.  Not exactly the perfect ending to the perfect day :P

We had planned to leave for Utah the next morning, but with Taylor and Ryan so sick we went back and forth on leaving.  Plus, with the rest of the family so sick, we were sure that our little family wasn’t going to be immune to it for long.  The *last* thing we wanted was to get 3 hours down the road and all fall ill and be too far to turn back but still with the prospect of 7 more hours in a car.  We hemmed and hawed for awhile – at one point we decided we’d stay until Wednesday – and finally we decided to just bite the bullet and go.  We left Taylor and Skylar behind as Taylor was too sick to travel and could come back to Utah with my dad later in the week, but we took Ryan with us as he was on the tail end of the bug and needed to be back in Utah the next day for classes.

The first couple hours of that drive were agony.  We felt certain that we were at any minute going to be sick.  I had an especially scary time of it since there’s a lot of movement near your digestive tract while being pregnant.  Every time Maeli would kick me I would think, “uh oh, this is it, I’m coming down with the plague.”  We made it all the way to Baker when Danny threw up ALL over.  We were able to pull over and clean everything up but it was pretty nasty.  With my weakened stomach from pregnancy, and Ryan’s weakened stomach from the bug we were in bad shape.  We cleaned up as best as we could, bought an air freshener and a pack of dryer sheets and soldiered on.

Surprisingly, we made it all the way back home without anyone else getting sick.  And I think poor Danny might have just been a little bit carsick and was very upset that we deprived him of food for the rest of our journey (but can you blame us?).  We’ve chalked our good fortune up to our family’s daily regimen of Emergen-C, we’ve hardly been sick this winter (knock on wood) while we spent almost the entirety of last winter being sick.  It might just be the placebo effect, but even if it is, we’ll happily take placebo effect over being sick!

So, that was our exciting Thanksgiving adventure.   We were definitely thankful to be a part of the whole experience, and especially thankful to have escaped the stomach bug!