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.

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