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, Mormon.org 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 –

Maeli

Maeli

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.

Danny

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!

Sam

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

Brittny

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

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.

Skiing

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!

Baby Clothes

 - by Brittny

Before we had Sam over 4 years ago my Uncle Paul offered us the hand-me-down clothes from his son Preston (born just under a year before Sam) as a way to get us started on clothing our new bundle of joy.  We’re not especially fancy dressers so we eagerly took him up on this offer.  Little did we know then that the clothes Paul had were the conglomeration of a couple of his sister-in-laws kids clothes and by the time each new kid had received the clothes and added a few more, the collection was enormous.  About a year after Sam was born my sister also had a baby boy and we agreed to share the clothes up until our boys got to similar sizes at which point we decided to just split the clothes for those sizes.

On Friday I decided it was time to put away Sam’s 3T clothes in favor of some 4T clothes.  Below is a picture of the box of 3T shirts that I came up with when I started packing them up. Please note: This is ONLY shirts.  There is not a pair of pants or socks or underwear, or a coat inside that box at all.  Furthermore, they are ONLY 3T shirts, 2T is in another box and 4T are now hanging in Sam’s closet.  Also, I purchased only a handful of these shirts (just a few things for back-to-school, family pictures etc).  And this was AFTER Taylor and I had gone through and donated to DI the things we didn’t really like  and split what was left in half!  Oh, and there are a few more shirts that I just pulled out of the dryer yesterday that still need to be added to that collection.

Unbelievable right?  It’s been such a huge blessing as I’ve had my two boys to hardly have to worry about purchasing clothes, especially as they seem to grow from one size to the next so quickly!  So once again, THANK YOU UNCLE PAUL!

So as we’ve been trying to anticipate whether the newest member of our family was going to be a boy or a girl I’ve been thinking that it would be kind of nice to just be able to pull out all those boxes again and do the same thing.  Despite my boys conviction that the baby is a girl I’d somewhat hoped to avoid having to figure out how to actually keep a baby clothed of my own volition!  So, today we went in for the big ultrasound and…..

It's a Girl!

Image courtesy of MelonHeadz.

It looks like my boys were right after all!  I’ve sort of suspected they might be, I think that kids have an extra connection on those kinds of things.  It was Sam’s very first reaction when he found out that we were having a baby (“It’s going to be my sister!”) and Danny last week, unprompted, told me “Mommy, you have baby in you tummy? It baby girl!”  Also, everyone says their pregnancies with their boys have been very different from with their girls and this pregnancy has been SO much different for me than my other two.  During my last appointment my midwife was having a hard time keeping the baby’s heartbeat on the monitor and said that she always had a harder time with girls hiding than with boys and afterwards kept slipping and referring to the baby as a “she” rather than “it” (let’s face it, it’s awful having to call your baby “it”).  So I think we would have probably been a little surprised to have found out it was a boy :)

We are of course very excited for this new adventure in parenting.  I’m not sure that I’m ready to have to shop for a whole wardrobe, or have to figure out little girl hairstyles and how to do the princesses/bows/frills/dresses thing.  I know I am a girl, but I’m not super girly.  This should definitely be an adventure.

More importantly than finding out the gender was of course finding out the overall health of the baby.  The ultrasound tech told us that everything was looking good development-wise and that her growth is on track for my January 4th due date.  Our little girl was in a great position for the first part of the ultrasound for getting some cute pictures of her profile, but towards the end was more camera-shy and curled up into the fetal position and didn’t want to show us anymore.  Luckily we’d gotten pretty much all the measurements we needed by then so that was just fine.

Anyways, we’re so excited to get to meet this new member of our family in a few more months!  We’ll share with you some of the ultrasound pictures of our cute little lady below :)

Profile

It’s a girl!

She was waving to us!

Little feet! Her ankles are crossed so they might seem backwards

A Sabbatical State

 - by Eric

I’m back-dating this post to fill out some major gaps in our poorly-kept family blog in 2013. While working at Adobe, once every five years, each employee is granted about a month of work off to do whatever they want,  whether it be a personal project, personal development, or extended vacation time with absolutely no expectation of availability from the company during the hiatus. It’s a fantastic idea, one that I fully endorse and support.

Usually these sabbaticals are taken in pursuit of some grand vacation or side project, but mine was a bit different. Instead of focusing on one solitary project, I split the time up into multiple weekly activities.

The first week consisted of dedicated family time with the 4th of July celebrations and everything going on with that. Nothing too exciting, but definitely a relaxing time to be had by all. During this time, I also started work on a fun little side project that I had been wanting to do for some time now. I never have enough time to play with the violin and enjoy music, so I thought I would make a cover music video, complete with a violin descant. A lot of brainstorming and initial work happened during this week, too.

The second week of the month focused on Scout Camp and swim lessons for the boys.  Being able to go to the pool every day and work with them to get comfortable in the water is something that means a lot to me given my storied past with learning to swim. And then of course in my new capacity as the Young Men’s president, I got to go up and have some fun supporting the boys working to get cool merit badges like shotgun shooting, boating, and aeronautics.

I wish I could have gone skeet shooting, too!

The third week was dedicated to recording, filming, and editing my cover video of Backwards by Matthias. I had been following his work for some time on YouTube, and I was really impressed with his skill and desire to create clean, enjoyable content. This video ended up encapsulating many aspects of expression from my life, including my time spent in Taiwan and attempts to broaden my creative horizons with video editing. All in all, I’d say it was quite the cathartic experience. You can watch the end result here:

The fourth week consisted entirely of a family reunion and trip to Disneyland. It was a lot of fun to include Daniel in this trip as well as let Sam enjoy the experience more as a four-year-old. I am sure we will have a whole separate blog post about that experience, so I won’t go into many details here. Suffice it to say, everyone in the family had a lot of fun, and we are so very grateful that Granny and Grandpa Hansen made it all happen for us!

The last week of July and first part of August was spent with more Young Men’s President duties. I spent all day Monday and Tuesday providing Priesthood support at the Young Women’s Camp up at Mutual Dell. I’ve never been so involved in YW Camp before, so I didn’t really know what I was getting myself into. The girls seemed to enjoy how dedicated us adult males were in learning how to make wristbands and painting rocks during craft time, and we all had fun trying to outperform each other with progressively unique tricks on the zipline.

The YW sure know how to do breakfast!

On Wednesday, we loaded up the truck and packed up my car with bikes and boys to head down to Moab, UT for the high adventure. It was an incredible three days of biking, rafting down the Colorado, and hiking up canyons. It also justified the purchase of my new mountain bike in June, so now I have less of an excuse to get out on the awesome trails around our neighborhood.

Troop 1336 hiking up a canyon in Moab, UT

All in all, it was a very hectic month, and while a lot of it was spent in either family activities or volunteering efforts, I feel like it was time well spent.

 

Becoming a Minivan Family

 - by Brittny

*SPOILER ALERT* – This is the van we ended up with :)

With the impending addition of a third baby Eric and I knew that we couldn’t continue for too much longer as a one car family.  At least, not when that one car was a Toyota Corolla and we would have all three of those kids in carseats.  We knew we wouldn’t need it until close to the arrival of the 5th member of our family but I decided to start looking in advance so I could figure out exactly how much we needed to budget out for a van and be prepared for that eventuality.

In June we took a trip down to California to see my family while Eric was at a conference in Los Angeles.  We were planning on purchasing a used van and I thought it might be worthwhile to look at used vans in California.  I figured that we could get a better condition used van there since it wouldn’t have been driven on icy, salty roads like vans in Utah.  So while Eric was at his conference my mom and I started looking around online for vans in the area.  I had thought that I probably wanted an Odyssey or a Sequoia, but as I looked at the different vans more closely I found that those vans were not worth the price difference to get them.  Eventually I honed in on the Dodge Grand Caravan.  Both Eric’s parents and my parents own Grand Caravans and we’d driven them around before and liked them.  The major selling feature was definitely the stow ‘n go seating.  That is a feature that is awesome beyond words in my opinion.  The ability to turn your van into a truck without having to leave the seats behind is SO useful.

While my mom and I were shopping around we decided to look also at what a new van would cost, just for comparison’s sake.  We found some in the area that were listed at $19,500, which was only just a little above what I was expecting to pay for a used van.  Since that seemed worthwhile to look into my mom called the dealer to see if that price was really for real and make sure there weren’t any special qualifications that were assumed to get that price.  The dealer assured her that $19,500 was the price, no catches.  So we made a field trip with the kids down to the dealership.  We found the vans and they looked great, took a test drive and it seemed like a pretty good option.  Then as we talked to the dealer he said that to get that price we’d have to meet some qualifications – like being in the military.  We were pretty disgusted to have been told one thing to get us down there, and another once we were actually there.  Needless to say, we left and did not come back.

So we did a little more searching and found another dealership that was offering the same van for $17,500.  That was absolutely insane!  We did a lot more vetting of the van and the price before going down, but after several emails back and forth with the salesman we determined that it was completely legitimate.  When Eric came home I showed him the van and what we’d found out.  The van had no fancy bells and whistles, but we weren’t planning on getting any of those anyways.  The price was so incredible, especially for a new van.  So we decided to go down and investigate.

Unfortunately, we left just before 5pm on a Friday afternoon, and we had to drive all the way through Los Angeles down to Huntington Beach Dodge.  That drive takes about an hour and a half in good conditions – rush hour on a Friday is not exactly good conditions.  It ended up taking us 3 hours to get down there.  On the way down my phone was acting really weird.  It had been having some problems before but as we were driving down it was really struggling.  I tried a few different tricks to try and get it to work, but by the time we reached the dealership it had given up the ghost completely.  I couldn’t even get it to turn on, despite having a charged battery.  Eric played with it too but he had no more luck than I did, which means it was *really* dead.

Since it had taken us so long to drive down we decided we should probably hurry over to the dealership despite not having had dinner yet.  We met with a different salesman from the one I’d been emailing with but after some searching he was able to find us the van from the online listing.  It was, as promised, not super fancy, but new.  We drove it around and everything looked great.  We decided that we would buy it.  How could we pass up the deal of having a van that was such an awesome price and still brand new?

As we were going through the paperwork we discovered that the reason the van was such an awesome price was that it wasn’t truly *brand* new.  It had been purchased but the financing hadn’t gone through (or something similar) and so the van had been returned within a few days.  So the van did have almost a thousand miles on it, but that’s pretty darn close to brand new, and for the price we’d gotten I wasn’t about to complain.  Still, I felt a little bit swindled to not have found out about this until we were in the process of signing the purchase paperwork.  I feel like their classification of it as a “new” van was misleading.    Aside from the price that we got I have to say that I was not at all impressed with the way Huntington Beach Dodge did business with us.

We continued on through the paperwork until we got to the financing part of the deal.  We had a decent chunk of the money we needed for the van saved up, but since we hadn’t been planning on purchasing a van for another 6 months we knew we’d have to finance some it at least in the short term.  One of the deals they had listed online was that they were offering 0% financing on their loans for some period of time.  I had figured that looked like the best deal we’d ever find for a loan so I hadn’t done any research on what else was available.  When we got to the financing we found out that the deal was only available if we didn’t take some other promotion that they were having which was saving us a thousand dollars or so on the price of the van.  Clearly it wasn’t worth getting 0% financing at the cost of $1000.  So we filled out the forms to have them run our credit and find out what sort of deal they could make for us.  While they were running their numbers we quickly used Eric’s phone to secure a loan through our bank.  They were running a promotion that would get us our financing at an introductory rate of 0.79%.  We looked through how to use the loan and it was so easy, they would immediately wire money to the dealership and we’d be all set to go.  When the dealership came back with their financing it couldn’t hold a candle to what we’d obtained so we obviously wanted to go with the loan we’d obtained through our bank.  The dealership’s financing guy (who we’d already felt was just kinda greasy, the stereotypical used car salesman type) then started telling us that they wouldn’t accept that loan, that we had to have a cashier’s check, they couldn’t do wire transfers etc.  We talked to our bank later about what happened and they told us that the dealership was just screwing with us.  This is how they do all of their auto loans and it is never a problem.  The only reason the dealership would’t take our money was that they wanted us to use their financing so they were being intentionally difficult to put us in a hard spot.  I think he just came up with whatever answer would make it so that we’d have to use their financing.  He knew it was past banking hours so we couldn’t go to a bank, and that we’d driven a long way and weren’t likely to do it twice, and we were unlikely to walk away from such a great deal.  We were extremely frustrated and felt like they were being totally unreasonable, but we also knew we were getting a killer deal on the van so we decided to just take their financing and re-finance when we got home.  But we were pretty ticked.

Anyways, the rest of the deal went fine, and we were finally out of there by 10pm with our brand new van!  But we were STARVING.  Especially since I was 11 weeks pregnant at the time and still very much so in the throes of “morning” sickness – not eating for that long was not going over so well with me.  So Eric and I were all ready to go out to eat and celebrate our new purchase… but of course most everything was closed at that point.  So we settled on a romantic evening at McDonald’s – wahoo.  After our dinner we decided that Eric would drive the van back to my parents’ and I would drive our Corolla.  Of course, my phone was totally out of commission so I didn’t have the luxury of my GPS to get me back (not good for a directionally challenged person like myself).  We quickly wrote down the directions that we got from Eric’s phone and just agreed to stick close to one another on the drive back.  Luckily Eric had a spare iPhone in his backpack that I could use to listen to my book on the way back.  I know, that sounds totally crazy to anyone who knows us that Eric would have anything made by Apple on his person, but he had it from work to help him test different features on some projects he was working on.  The phone didn’t have cell service, but I was grateful to at least have something to keep my attention on the boring drive back.

So we hopped in our vehicles and headed back to the freeway.  We didn’t get very far before everything STOPPED.  Apparently the 405 freeway was closed and the backup was insane.  As we tried to navigate onto the freeway I quickly lost Eric in the zillion cars that were all stopped at the same point as us.  So much for sticking close together.  I missed the first place that I could have turned off for a detour since I didn’t realize what was ahead of me.  The detour took 2 hours just to get back to the freeway.  It was brutal!  It was all the worse for not being able to call Eric and let him know where I was.  I was certain that he had made the first detour, or had used his GPS to get him better directions to get out of that mess and was probably well ahead of me.  I was also convinced that with how long it was taking me, by the time I got home my family would assume I was dead or extremely lost.  Being lost would be totally par for the course, my family used to joke that if they’d let me drive up to BYU from California on my own I’d likely call from the Mexican border saying “I don’t remember having to go through Mexico to get to Utah…”  While that would have been a slight exaggeration… my directional abilities really are that bad.  It’s incredible how debilitated I felt without my smartphone that night.  The next day found us at the Verizon store to purchase me a Galaxy S4 so we wouldn’t have these problems anymore.

It again took 3 hours to get home and I didn’t get back to my parents’ house until about 1:30am.  Eric had beat me but not by as much as I had expected.  He too had missed the first detour so we’d been stuck pretty close to one another most of the way back.  I was glad that they hadn’t yet called the police to try and find me.  Eric and I sorta collapsed into each other, not totally believing the insane ordeal we’d gone through.  We were very glad that we’d gotten such a great deal on our van, but man, what an experience!

Sam’s Last Day of Preschool!

 - by Brittny

To mirror our first day of school shot :)

Today Sam finished his first year of real preschool.  Our next door neighbor teaches preschool out of her home so he was able to just cross our yard twice a week and go over to their place for preschool.  It was the perfect thing for him!  He learned so much, and was so excited to come home every day and show us what he’d learned :)  Probably his favorite thing all year was the name tags that they would write each month.   Every month he’d bring one home and wanted me to tape it to his door, so he now has quite the collection.  I wish I had kept them in order so you could really see how he progressed in tracing his name.

Sam’s nametag collection

They had a little program to show off some of the cool things they learned this year.  And I do mean little, the whole program is less than 4 minutes, so don’t be intimidated about watching it, it doesn’t take very long.

In the fall Sam will be going to preschool at our local elementary school for their tuition preschool program.  I wish I knew earlier on that Anna would be offering a different curriculum next year, I probably would have had Sam stay for both years if I’d known.  But by the time I knew that I’d already gotten Sam too pumped to go to the elementary school and ride the bus.  I think it will be a great experience for him and a good transition to kindergarten but this year was such  a great experience (and so convenient!) I would definitely do it again.  Thanks Miss Anna for a wonderful year!  We can’t wait until Danny is old enough to come and do preschool too :)

Sam & Miss Anna

Yup, that’s how Sam smiles when you ask him to smile. Awesome huh?