Year: 2013

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?

Sam: Our Story Reader

 - by Brittny

Sam “reading” a story to himself at 2 years old

If you ask Sam what he wants to be when he grows up he says he wants to be a “story reader.”  We’ve settled on that being a narrator and I don’t doubt that someday he’ll do it!  Tonight as I was getting Sam ready for bed I told him to run upstairs and grab a story for me to read to him.  He replied, “Oh, how about you just tell me a story.”  Not feeling in a very creative mood I recommended that he just go grab one instead.  He replied, “Oh, I’ll just tell you a story then.”  Luckily I had my keyboard handy and was able to transcribe what he was saying.  Be forewarned, these stories make absolutely no sense, and I left out a lot of the repetition (since he would say the same line 3 or 4 times sometimes) but I thought it was a funny little view into Sam’s mind.  Be warned that he switches between 3rd and 1st person without much warning and I tried to get some of the kid grammar pieces in there without fixing them.  Enjoy :)

Once upon a time there was a little boy named me and I was very old, and very sick. And I couldn’t walk. Then he said “there’s mommy there’s mommy!” because he found Daniel, and pizza! That was too funny. Danny gets hungry then he starts filling his tummy with juice! And he says “More House, more house please?” And too much soda was there the next morning, and that was too silly! Now that Sammy had gone far far away it’s time to say “Go go go sliding turtle!” And Sammy said “jump turtle!” Then there was two teeny tiny wires that he flew an airplane with! Then he saw a parachute and he wanted to try to parachute and the people who had that airplane said “I want to learn how to parachute.” And one day he said “Gootey” in preschool because there were sparkles on his shirt, and that was so funny. Do you know that we wear some kind of headphones in the winter? They’re called “Weereovers” They clean all the snow out. And one day he was supposed to wear some but he didn’t have any. He only wore gloves and a coat and a hood and a chin protector and nothing else, not even a mask! I needed a mask. And that was silly. The end.

I have one more story! It’s from Danny. It’s with great pictures. Danny said, “One time there was a little boy named Danny and Danny said “No no no no no no no no no” and he said “Yes yes yes” and then he said “Around the block around the block, catch up to Sam around the block” And then he came and said “Ry Ry! Ry Ry! Ry Ry!” And then he saw pizza shop, and he said “pizza! pizza! pizza!” because he wanted pizza. And Sam said “Aw, we should have got some pizza for Danny, but we missed it.” And one time there was a little bit of splat in the blanket chest, and one time there was a little bit of crumbs. And then there was a bubble behind the couch! And then it popped, and then it goed around and then it keeped going around. Aw Turty is sick! And soda he drunk more and that made him more sicker. And he drunk more and more and more and more. And then something turned around and it went “tramp tramp tramp tramp” Then, it was all of it went “squish and squish and squish and squish”. And they tried to put it in the vorarator, he was having a hard time putting it in something. Then it went “Beep beep beep” The end.

There’s one more story! From you! It went “Smarties on the desk, smarties on the desk”, because there were smarties, on the desk! I’m really sad! I wanted to see you be a baby. And she ate more and more and more, and she never stopped. Do you know what will happen if you eat smarties? You’ll feel even smarter! And if you eat even more of them, you’ll feel even more smarter – as tall as this cup!  And Danny kicked them out, and Mommy said “Noooo!”  And she said “kick ball” and Danny kept kicking Mommy and she said “ow ow ow ow!”  and that’s why Sam would hug her everywhere that Danny kicked her.  That’s why Sam kept mommy up.  Someone woke her up and she said “Bwom bwom bwom”  and she said “close your mouth, close your mouth, please just close your mouth.  Just wake up”  and it was the Winevwom.  The End.

There’s one more story from Daddy!  It’s called Sam & Daniel & Dad Be Friends.  When Sam and Daniel and Dad took pictures of friends skating on ice.  Then there was a bird collector that collected people and putted people into the road.  And then a car comed!  And the bird collector told them to “stay there”  and they saw me died!  And then they would never come alive ever ever ever!  And the friends said we’re never going to stop skating.  And mommy said “I’m tired” so she went to sleep and then someone woke her up – it was the Wyver Cheetah and it was a bad guy!  And she collected people in her bag.  And I got out of the road and told the people to come out of the road and they listened and the bird collector told them to stay in the road but they just kept skating until they got across that snow.  And then some lady saw a mountain and they saw where our house was.  And it was enormously fine!  And it was just a little hill and they took a little shortcut on that hill and it would lead them home!  And they were free!  The end.

There’s one more from my nightlight!  There was Mom, and Sam and Daniel and Daddy went to work.  And mom said “hey someone’s missing!”  It was Dad!  He was missing.  And the cul-de-sac because they were stuck by a big snow bank and that’s why they went around the cul-de-sac out of the car, back into the car and drove back to where their home was.  And she goed down stairs and a Triple Guy Mean got her.  Then Sam went to Friday to ask for a game – he forgot a game!  He was silly.  I was a silly billy.  And Mommy hurt all over her finger, and that’s why she had bandaids.  The end!

A Caution Against Buying Jeans Online

 - by Brittny

I’m sure a lot of you (like my dad) will start to read this and think, man I really just do not care one bit about Brittny’s jeans.  Trust me, the conclusion is worth reading through the rest of this.  I promise.  Money back guaranteed.  If you get to the end and decide it wasn’t worth the time it took you to read this then I’ll come over and clean your house for a couple minutes (or whatever you might have accomplished in the couple minutes it would have taken you to read this :P )

So a few months back my favorite jeans developed holes in the knees so I decided to break down and buy some new ones.  I decided to try a slightly different fit of jean from the ones that had been my favorites for awhile.  So I tried some jeans on in the store and in the fitting room they looked pretty good, but the store didn’t carry short sizes so I went home and ordered them online.  When they came in the mail I really liked them… for a little while.  Then after wearing them around I found that the pant legs rode up when I wore sneakers, and weren’t doing me any favors around the waistline, they rode up when I sat down, they rode down when I walked… in short, they were awful.  But since I’d only just gotten them I couldn’t bring myself to go out and invest in another pair of jeans already.  So for awhile I just wore them anyways and hated how I looked whenever I put them on.

Finally a couple weeks ago I decided it was just time to suck it up and buy myself a new pair of jeans that I didn’t hate (what a novel concept!).  I decided to go with a different style of jeans entirely, but from the same store.  Again the size/style I wanted were only available online so I placed my online order and waited for them to ship.  A few days after placing that order, this happened –

Yup that’s right! I’m 6 weeks pregnant with our third child, and we’re excited!  Normally I wouldn’t officially announce this early but I’d shared with enough people that word was getting around… so I figured I might as well be the one to make it official :)  Plus – while I totally understand why people want to wait to make sure everything is ok before announcing – the first trimester is miserable and it’s when you’re most in need of help and understanding.  I’d rather have people know that I’m pregnant than just wonder why my kids are running around the neighborhood wild and dirty while I just sit on our porch and drink gatorade (or fall asleep inside on our couch).

Sam is over-the-moon excited.  He saw the pregnancy test lying around and asked me what it was, so I decided to let him in on the secret.  He was bouncing up and down SO excited.  The first thing he said was “I’m going to go tell my friends!”  I told him that we weren’t telling everyone just yet, but he ran downstairs, out to our porch where his friend Claire was standing and yelled “MY MOM’S GROWING A BABY IN HER TUMMY!”  While it wasn’t exactly the secret keeping we were hoping for (another reason I figure I might as well be the one to announce it) we couldn’t have asked for a better response.  Sam’s first reaction was “It’s going to be my sister!”, so hopefully it’s a girl because Sam will not be swayed from this baby being his sister.   It’s so sweet, I’m glad that he’s excited.  Daniel doesn’t really get what’s going on, but I think he would be decidedly *less* pleased if he understood that his days of reigning as the baby of our family are numbered.

Hurricane Danny

 - by Brittny

You wouldn’t believe that such a cute face could cause so much destruction.

Today as we were sitting down to dinner I was telling Eric about all the destruction just Daniel has caused today.  As I went through the list *I* couldn’t believe how long it was – and I was there for it!  If you ever come over to my house and wonder why it is such a mess here is a list of most of the mischief Danny has gotten into since he woke up this morning –

  • I woke up to find 5 pieces of bread jammed into our toaster oven (which I had fortunately unplugged the night before)
  • As we were just about ready to head out the door for a visiting teaching appointment, Danny climbed up on the kitchen counter and managed to get himself all wet.  Oh, and also the counter where my cell phone was charging, getting both the cell phone and charger wet (fortunately no damage seems to have been done to either of those electronic devices).
  • While I was making soup for dinner tonight and had walked away to let it simmer, he climbed up on the counter and dumped a whole cutting board full of kale on the floor.
  • He threw the spice jar of paprika to the floor forcefully enough to break it
  • He got into a package of spaghetti noodles and broke quite a few all over the floor
  • Sam pulled out the eggs from the fridge to play “egg-y mess”.  Fortunately I found him before he could start actually playing this game.  However Danny found one of the empty egg shells that was still in the container and proceeded to smash it into a million pieces on the carpet while I put the rest of the eggs back in the fridge.
  • Sam and Daniel got into the upstairs bathroom and filled up the sink with water, soap and a whole roll of toilet paper, which obviously was unusable afterwards.
  • I attempted to make some home made granola bars this afternoon.  They turned out more like granola cereal so we put it in bowls and were eating it that way.  Danny took his bowl and dumped it on my rocking chair.
  • Later while I was making dinner, Danny found crushed red pepper flakes on the counter and dumped the WHOLE jar into that granola
  • In the afternoon Daniel asked for some chocolate milk.  I made him up some.  A little while later I found that he and Sam had taken the container of chocolate powder and dumped a bunch of it on the counter.  I confiscated the container and put it on a high shelf.  Sam then opened the pantry, climbed up and pulled it out and started feeding the chocolate powder to Danny using the lid as a spoon.  Oh, did I mention that Danny didn’t take a nap today?  Anyone want to guess why?
  • Danny found pens multiple times today and used them to draw on the doors of our entertainment center.
  • A picture on our fridge of Eric’s parents fell down during the day.  Danny found it and ripped a corner off.
  • For Easter Danny received some bubbles.  He found one of the three bottles and dumped it all out on the kitchen floor (at least that’s basically soap right?)
  • While the granola bars were cooking this afternoon Danny found the jar of peanuts and dumped quite a few of them out on the floor.
  • Recently Danny has figured out opening doors, and of course his favorite is to go out of our front door.  I had been able to deter him for awhile by engaging the dead bolt since he can’t reach that high.  However he’s found that by using his ride-on Lightning McQueen toy he can pull it up to the door and unlock the front door.  That of course meant that one of our activities this afternoon was repeatedly bringing him out of our front yard, especially since he didn’t have any pants on over his diaper.

There was more, but as you might imagine, I’m exhausted from trying to keep up with him all day.  So I can’t remember the others.  And yes, all of those things happened just today.  We ended the day by him throwing a HUGE fit, hitting me repeatedly and going into time out, and finally just passing out in my arms.  Please bless that he sleeps for a looooooong time tonight.

Sick Chickens

 - by Brittny

A few weeks back my little brother Cody entered the MTC to serve a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  I’m so proud of him and wrote more about that in my personal blog.  While Cody is gone the only contact we will have with him is through letters, weekly emails and bi-annual phone calls (Mother’s Day and Christmas).  While we miss Cody very much there is an awesome side effect to this – I’m writing him letters regularly, which means I’m sitting down at my computer and writing out the things that have been going on.  Consequently I can take those letters, paste them into WordPress, make some changes from letter to blog post and voila!  You might get semi-regular updates from us again!  So, here’s what I wrote to Cody last week.  Probably tomorrow I’ll post what I wrote to him this week.

Cody left for the MTC on Wednesday February 6th.  The night before he entered the MTC my family all got together.  Since Tuesday is a regular office day for me and I already had babysitting lined up for my boys I joined my parents in a quick excursion to the temple.  They had planned to go to the Salt Lake Temple, but then found out it was closed.  So they decided to go to the Draper Temple… only to find out that it was also closed.  Finally they settled on going to the Mt. Timpanogos Temple since it was in fact open.  We were going to go and do a regular endowment session but ended up pressed for time and opted to do initiatories instead.  While my mom and I were sitting in the waiting area to do the work (there was a half hour wait) we sat and talked about some different scriptural things (which, Mom – you need to blog those thoughts, they were good ones) and suddenly mom sees someone walk in who she recognizes – Sister Lehman.  The Lehmans lived in the same ward as our family when we lived in New York almost 20 years ago (that makes me feel old to write that).  When Brother Lehman was the Bishop he called my dad into the bishopric with him and my dad began a long stint in church leadership which is still continuing today.  So it was really fun for my mom to get to sit and catch up with this sweet sister for a little while.  Then we got to go and perform the ordinances we were there for, and as I was coming out my mom is sitting on a bench happily chatting with someone else.  She’d run into Danielle {Shorts} Janzen, the big sister of Cody’s very best friend Zach.  We don’t think it was coincidence that we ended up at Mt. Timpanogos doing intiatories that day, it seems that’s where we were supposed to be!

After the temple we went to Tucanos.  As I was sitting next to Sam he was feeling a bit warm to me.  He was sitting and eating slowly but consistently but just seemed warm and lethargic.  By the time we got home we’d decided he definitely had a fever and put him to bed.  I stayed up helping my parents and Cody pack up his bags.  We realized that Cody had left at home a very critical part of his missionary supplies – his white shirts.  Anyone who’s seen LDS missionaries before knows them by their iconic white shirts and ties, so this was more than a bit ironic that those were the items left behind :P  In the end my mom was kind of happy they’d left the shirts behind because they were really my other brother’s old white shirts that hadn’t gotten much wear, but it just didn’t feel the same sending Cody out with used white shirts.  She was happier to have him with newly purchased white shirts to start off his mission, even if it cost a little more and was a bit of a hassle.  After we finished getting Cody packed up I went up to check on Sam.  He was laying in bed awake and looking miserable.  When I felt his forehead he was burning up!  I went and found a thermometer and found that his temperature was 104.7° F – Yikes!  I quickly went and found him some motrin and sat with him for a little while.  This whole time he’s sitting there telling me (a little bit delerious) “I’m fine.  I’m not sick. I am well.”  Which was nice of him to say, but quite evidently false.  After a little while Sam threw up the Motrin, but his fever went down and stayed down for the rest of the night.  Poor kid.  He proceeded to have a fever that went up and down but lasted until Saturday.

We were so glad that he was finally doing better and that Danny had seemed to have dodged that bullet.  We started making plans for our traditional Chinese New Year dinner the next day.  Not one hour after we’d sent out emails to invite everyone… Danny had a fever.  We quickly sent out a redaction email for the party and hunkered down to take care of our baby.  He was sick for almost the whole next week!  Neither of the boys were too miserable, but they slept A LOT and obviously fevers are cause for not leaving the house.  Danny finally got better.  The following Saturday I woke up in the morning and could hear Sam downstairs.  I went down and he said “I threw up”, and sure enough, there was throw up all over his PJs, in his hair, on his bed upstairs… yuck.  He didn’t show any other signs of being sick and ate fine on Saturday and Sunday so I thought maybe it was just a fluke thing.  Maybe all the congestion had built up in his stomach from the sickness he’d had, or he’d eaten something that didn’t agree with him or something like that.  So, on Monday morning we decided that we’d go to Grannie’s house for a President’s Day party with the cousins.  Eric dropped me off and headed out skiing with our nephew Dallin.  I’d made Sam a cheese and pepperoni sandwich for breakfast (by request) and he slowly ate a bite of it at a time.  In three hours he only made it through about 1/3 of the sandwich!  Finally I just finished it off for him and decided he’d just have enough at lunchtime and we’d call it good.  It wasn’t too atypical for Sam to eat that slowly so I didn’t think too much of it.  He went to the bathroom and had some pretty bad diarrhea, and had made a mess in his underpants.  Grannie threw his pants and underpants into the washer and Grandpa made a quick run to Wal-mart for some clean clothes (thanks again!).  As we were starting lunch Sam was wandering around, then as he was walking into the front room he started coughing and Katrina said he sounded like he might throw up.  Sure enough, he threw up a little in the front room.  I quickly ushered him into the bathroom and he proceeded to puke ALL over the bathroom floor and had diarrhea at the same time.  It was a huge mess and so disgusting.  We threw him in the bathtub and let him soak while Grannie and I cleaned up the bathroom.  He looked so miserable and pale.  Poor thing.  We offered him some 7-Up and he drank half a sip before he said it made his stomach hurt – that’s really sick when even 7-Up can upset your stomach!  In the afternoon he suddenly fell asleep on the couch and took a 3-hour long nap.  In the evening when Eric came back Grannie and Grandpa had offered that we could stay for dinner, so I helped prepare the meal.  Sam woke up just after we’d started eating and said he was REALLY hungry.  I was very wary of him eating after his reaction to the 7-Up but we decided he could eat a little bit of plain rice.  He ate probably 7 small bowls of rice – which is saying something considering how slow of an eater he usually is!  After that, he was fine, no further reactions to food, no puking, nothing, he was right back to normal.  We had a reprieve on Tuesday with no upset stomachs and we’d thought that maybe Sam had just eaten something bad.

Nope!  (Chuck Testa)  Tuesday night I woke up to Daniel having puked all over his bed as well.  Eric and I cleaned him up and then Danny came to bed with me.  I think we woke up every 30 minutes all night long to either Danny puking, feeling miserable, wanting something to drink etc.  He couldn’t even hold down the apple cider that I had in his sippy cup!  So sad and miserable.  He wasn’t much interested in eating that day and had a bit of a fever – but by the next day, he was back to normal.  *knock on wood*  I’m ready for our family to just get well and stay well for a good long time now.

Another adventure we had last week.  We came home from church on Sunday and found a big puddle of water next to the fridge under the water dispenser.  We gave Sam a mild lecture about not using the water dispenser on his own (carefully because we weren’t entirely sure it wasn’t Daniel who’d caused the puddle), and made ourselves some lunch.  As we continued making our lunch I came back to find that the puddle had regenerated, and I knew that Sam hadn’t been a part of its creation this time.  Some further investigation showed us that the water was coming from our ice maker, and that our freezer was not all that cold.  The water was coming from the ice melting in the ice maker and dripping out through the water dispenser – awesome.  We came to find out that our freezer has some buttons on the outside that you can push to adjust the temperature of the fridge and freezer.  If you adjust either side to be set to 0 then the fridge or freezer is shut off.  Who wants that kind of access to that functionality?!  So one of our boys had apparently played with those buttons in the morning and had turned off *both* our fridge and freezer.  Great.  Luckily the only thing that really spoiled in that time was our ice cream, but there wasn’t very much of that anyways, but it still wasn’t a very welcome surprise.

That’s it for this installment of letters to Cody.  Tune in tomorrow when I get us caught back up to this week!