Sunday, May 31, 2015

8 years ago

While we were in California last week, we took a day to drive to Monterey. We visited Bubba Gumps for lunch, the Monterey Bay Aquarium, and then spent a few hours at the beach--
an exact repeat of a trip Kent and I made nearly 8 years ago, the day after he proposed to me.

The trip looked the same, but our family sure has changed!

Eight years ago, we had so much fun, just the two of us, giddy with excitement about finally being engaged,
but last week? 
Having to change a diaper in the public restrooms? Wrangling the kids at the restaurant? Meltdowns and tired tantrums in the car? BUT, the way Ellie giggled and skipped and sang as we walked everywhere? Her pure delight as we watched the sea otters? Nicholas's joy about running in the waves and digging in the sand? Christian's happy noises from the carrier and his soft head at perfect kissable distance? 

Well I wouldn't have it any other way.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Christian's birth

I've tried to write this three times now.
To put what's in my heart and memory into words--
it's been really hard for me this time. 
Nothing I can say really feels like what is in my heart.

I don't normally put my birth stories here on my blog.
But this is a story that needs to be shared.
Because I feel we too often talk all about how terrible and awful and painful and impossible childbirth might be,
and not often enough talk about how beautiful and divine and sacred 
it is to bring life into this world. 
No matter the birth story--giving life is incredible.

Even before I got pregnant, I began planning for this birth. I knew I could do it without pain medication, because I did it with Ellie, 
and I hoped that if I prepared for it (which I didn't with Ellie's birth), it could be a better, more calm experience.

I didn't know just how perfect it could be. 

Nicholas's birth (with an epidural) made me a mother, was gentle and simple, but I felt like it just happened and I was simply along for the ride.
Ellie's birth was intense, fast, and painful, but it showed me how strong I can be, and how awesome the after-birth hormone high is, convincing me to do it again.

Christian's birth was strong, spiritual, and filled with peace.
It was one of the most sacred moments of my life so far.
To prepare, I spent lots and lots of time praying for and imagining the peaceful experience I wanted. I know it sounds silly, but it really helped! So much of labor is just a mind game.
 I practiced relaxing to quiet music (try Paul Cardall radio on Pandora if you want some good calming music), I talked--to Kent, my friends, my mom, anyone who would listen--about what I wanted, I found scriptures and hymns that gave me encouragement and hope, I studied positive birth stories, and I brought myself closer to my Father in Heaven than I've ever been before. I knew I'd need His help, and that with Him, I could do anything. 

Kent and I hired a team of two doulas, Alie and Heather, to help us, and these two women were invaluable. 
I am a social person. I need friends. I need other women, 
and knowing that these girls were going to be there for me, with me--experienced and confident and solely focused on making me more comfortable--
I honestly looked forward to my labor. I liked these girls so much that I wanted to spend as much time with them as I could, and I hoped that my labor could be kinda like a little party. I was excited for it!

That afternoon, my midwife stripped my membranes to try and jump start my labor because at my appointment I was already dilated to a 6--it worked! Within minutes I was having contractions three minutes apart. We went home and walked around the block with the kids, then kissed them and left them with my mom and drove back to the hospital.

I don't think the nurses in triage believed me when I told them that I was having contractions every three minutes, because I honestly wasn't in any pain. But I was at a 6.5, and sure enough, every three minutes the contraction monitor would spike.  

Once the initial monitoring was done, I was out of that bed! I really didn't lay down at all the rest of the night. I knew that I needed to be up and moving if I wanted to get this baby here that night!

At the beginning, it was lighthearted and fun. Alie kept us laughing with stories about her kids and witty comments. Heather was calming and confident. We talked about our children, pets, life as parents, marriage, church, and our conversations kept me distracted and relaxed. Alie even went to McDonalds to get dinner for us all. (and that mango smoothie has never tasted so good!) 
They supported Kent and I perfectly, intuitively, cheerfully, and I am so grateful that everything fell into place so that they could both be there with us (earlier in the day the timing had seemed a little crazy/impossible, but it worked out just the way I knew it would.)

The four of us (Kent, me, and the doulas,) hung out and partied together for a few hours. 

As things progressed, my midwives, Kathryn and Mandy, came into the room, and just sat with us, made themselves comfortable, waited and watched with us.
Our conversation became deeper, and we discussed how I'd prepared for this labor. We talked about beautiful things, like the plan of salvation and the divinity of motherhood. I told them how reading The Gift of Giving Life book had changed my perspective about all of this.

I listened to my body as I worked. I moved and swayed, I knelt, I paced, I rocked back and forth. The contractions were intense and hard work, but they weren't pain in the way that I usually feel pain. 

 I wasn't afraid for even one moment throughout the entire process. I was filled with peace.
Kent and I remarked several times that we couldn't believe that this was really happening, because it felt so easy, so calm.  

Before we went in to the hospital that evening, Kent gave me a very special priesthood blessing,
and we knew that Heavenly Father was there with us, that angels surrounded us, and that Christian knew he was almost here. 

 The hospital room that night was filled with the Spirit,
and when I look back now, I am amazed. 

Never in my life have I felt so safe, so loved, and so filled with peace and joy.
I am confident that I had heavenly help, giving me the strength to stand and be present, alert, and aware. 
I felt simultaneously both in control and yet completely surrendered to what my body was doing.  I knew that Heavenly Father had made me perfectly, and that bringing this child into this life was exactly what I had been designed to do.
That power is a beautiful thing.

After my water was broken, the labor got much more intense. The contractions were painful and powerful, but I was surrounded by supporting hands. My doulas' words and touch kept me relaxed and breathing. I was able to stay on top of each contraction, and I loved feeling my baby come closer and closer to this life. 

As I was pushing, Kent was up by my left shoulder, and his words of encouragement and love are some of the sweetest most perfect things he's ever said to me. 

I did reach the point where I felt like I couldn't do it, it was too much, too strong, too painful for me, but I knew I was going to reach that point, in fact I welcomed it, and Kent and everyone else reassured me that I was doing it, and that Christian was almost here. 

I couldn't do anything but surrender to what my body was doing, and it seemed as if there was a curtain just a couple of inches in front of my face--nothing beyond myself and my baby and our labor existed, but I felt encircled with love; the strong and gentle hands of my husband, my doulas, and my midwives seemed to be added to by the hands of angels.

At that last moment, when I felt I had nothing left to give, I reached beyond the deepest part of my soul and found that, with God, I had just enough,
and then my child was here.

My Christian is a noble soul, and the Heavens aided his crossing into this life. 

Sunday, May 24, 2015


Christian Blain Andersen.
We blessed him at Church last Sunday.

Kent always does an amazing job with blessing our babies. They are some of the sweetest moments of my life as a mother.
Christian was blessed that he will be strong, that his faith will be a lighthouse to others, and that he'll be loyal and true to his faith throughout his life.

We were so happy to have some of our family join us to celebrate our sweet boy.
 Kent's parents, Dan and Teresa
 Mason, Jessica, and sweet little Alene came too--we got to spend a few days with them, so fun!

 My Grandpa and Grandma drove all the way up from Southern Utah.
I love Ellie's darling snuggle with Christian.

 And all the men who joined in the circle for the blessing.
Kent's dad and brother didn't know we were supposed to take more pictures still....

 My sweet boy. For all three kids we've used the white blanket that Kent was brought home from the hospital in when he was born.

 Christian snuggled with my Grandpa while we ate our lunch.

Kent's parents were only here for just that day, because we were heading to their house the next week,
but it meant so much to us that they made the trip for Christian!

Friday, May 15, 2015

the third

We've just about reached that threshold with our new baby,
where you look back and almost can't remember them not being a part of your family,
where it kinda starts to feel like he's been with you forever.

I love it,
but it also tugs at my heart a little bit, to realize how fast time passes and how I'll never really be able to remember how it felt to have just two kids.

This time around, though, the transition really hasn't been that rough.
Everyone said that going to three kids was the hardest, so I was bracing for a rough time,
but really, for me,
three kids doesn't feel much different than two kids did.
Life with two kids was already crazy, throwing another one in hasn't really changed anything.

What has changed, though, is me. 
This third child has made me a happier, calmer, less stressed mother.
I appreciate this job more. 
I celebrate the little victories, like the baby taking a simple fifteen-minute nap, more.
I'm just...happy, content, grateful.

Most of my days the only thing I accomplish is keeping three children fed and loved,
and that's enough for now.  I don't get to shower most days, I often forget to feed myself, and I'm dying for a haircut, but I get to snuggle a sweet-smelling chunky baby, read books to my darling girl while I nurse, and get handmade cards that say "I love you, to mom, from Nick" from my lanky tow-headed five-almost-six-year-old.

Even though my house is a mess, I'm more relaxed than I was when I had the time and energy to do the dishes and sweep under the kitchen table.
I think it's kind of a survival thing, but things that used to bother me are suddenly not that important anymore.

Last Thursday morning was Nicholas's Mother's Day program at preschool.  I didn't know about it until we dropped him off (there was a flier about it in his bag, but had I looked in his bag after his class the day before? Nope.)  Thankfully, I was dressed, but Ellie didn't have shoes and she was wearing the clothes she'd worn the day before because she fell asleep in them before dinner and we just stuck her in bed. Her hair was wild, she had a milk mustache, chocolate stains all down the front of her shirt, and a giant hole in the knee of her pants.  Christian looked pretty cute (he's too little to get holes in his knees, or else he'd have one too), but I didn't have a blanket for him, so I had to take the carseat cover off and wrap that around him. I was dressed (thankfully!), but didn't have even a drop of makeup on. I'd left my phone in the car too, so no chance to take pictures.
But, we were there,
I got to watch my sweet boy sing songs to me, I got to see his darling proud smile, his bright happy eyes, and at the end of his songs, he was able to run over and give me a giant hug.

We went outside tonight and Kent and the kids rode their bikes up and down our street while I walked with Christian in the ergo. The air was cool and fresh, the kids were laughing, and Christian made soft little coos right under my chin.
Life with three kids is pretty sweet.

Saturday, May 9, 2015


Having a baby brother has been a bit of an adjustment for our sweet girl.
But hey, at least someone's getting some use out of the swing!

Thursday, May 7, 2015

behind the scenes: going to Grandma and Grandpa's house

We went to my parents' house this weekend.
Getting ready to go takes me the whole day:

7:30 am--this crazy haired girly wakes us up. She's hungry. And she wants to watch a show on my phone. I usually say no because watching tv makes her grumpy.
But this morning, I give in.
I stay in bed and keep nursing Christian. 

8:15--we head downstairs. I spend some time snuggling this little squishy monkey.

8:26 am--Nicholas finds a flag shape in the sunshine on the floor. He sits at the end and pretends to "hold" the flag.
8:29 am--Ellie sees what he's doing and stands on the flag.
8:29 am--Nicholas is mad. Because Ellie's standing on his flag. They proceed to argue about the flag made of sunshine on the floor.
8:33 am--I tell them: "Stop fighting over the sunshine, guys!"
I never expected to hear myself say that.

8:44 am--I get my Bubs dressed again. His diaper soaked through onto his monkey outfit.
8:57 am--the kids already ate once, when Kent brought them down before he left for work. But Nicholas runs outside, finds a dandelion and blows on it, then comes back to tell me:
"Mom! I wished with a clover wisher for more cereal!"
9:15 am--My mom and Sarah stop by. They're on their way to see Alicia's graduation from UVU, but they spend some time here first.

9:30 am--I lay Christian down for a little nap, but he won't go to sleep, so I nurse him first. Sarah is downstairs playing Go Fish with the kids, and Ellie tells her about the time she swam with dolphins at Bear Lake.
Ellie's oblivious to the meaning of "tell the truth."
My sweet mom does my dishes while I'm upstairs.

9:57 am--my mom and Sarah have to go, Christian wakes up and I feed him again while the kids play outside and in the garage
10:30 am--I'm done feeding Christian. I try to start organizing a few things to pack.
10:32 am--Ellie's hungry. Snack time.
11:08 am--I get Christian to sleep. I never know if he's going to sleep for 20 minutes or 2 hours, so I get to work fast.
11:11 am--first task, clean out the van. No matter how hard I try to keep it clean, it's always full of jackets, toys, and trash
11:12 am--Ellie runs past and throws her empty cheetos bag in the car. I think I've discovered the problem.
11:39 am--I stick the kids in the tub for two reasons. They need to be cleaned and it will keep them occupied and not making a mess while I pack the suitcases.
12:29 pm--Kids are out of the tub and shower. I stop packing and folding laundry to make lunch.
Nick wants a peanut butter sandwich, Ellie wants a grilled cheese.
I heat up leftover green chicken enchiladas for my own lunch.
Ellie says they look "slobbery like a snail. See, Mom, the sauce?"
12:34 pm--I sit down to eat my lunch. To drink I have a sparkling water--I've been loving these lately. They're not sweetened at all, just carbonated water and natural flavors. I like them, and I like that they aren't sweet because that means I don't have to share them with the kids.
12:54 pm--time to clean the fish tank and transfer the fish to the bucket to take with us.
Yes, we take our fish to Grandma's house. So I don't have to find someone to come feed them.
I'm feeling ready for these fish to move on. The black one is often swimming belly-up, but unfortunately, he always recovers.
1:10 pm--packing and cleaning. The kids are everywhere, packing their own backpacks with their own treasures and favorite toys. Their packing methods aren't very tidy.

1:27 pm--turn on our sprinklers

1:30 pm--Christian's awake again, and ready to eat. We sit down to nurse while I watch the big kids finish "packing."

2:02 pm--Kent's home from work. It's time to gather up the last few things
2:14 pm--Nicholas is supposed to be going potty and getting in the car, but he can't leave Christian alone. He's got a serious case of baby-love.
2:15 pm--remember to turn the sprinkler timer to "off." We learned the hard way last summer that if we leave the sprinklers set to go on by themselves, they'll turn on....and then turn on again, and again, and again, until they flood the golf course.  We probably should just get a new timer.
2:20 pm--in the car, on our way!

2:40 pm--Christian falls asleep after surprisingly little fuss.
2:55 pm--Christian's awake again. I feed him a bottle while we drive.
3:16 pm--the kids:
        Ellie's pants.
        She wore a skirt in the car last week and the way it bunched up in her seatbelt drove her crazy, so she took it off while we rode, and so naturally she now insists that she take off any sort of dress, skirt, pants, or shorts on the off chance it might bunch up when we buckle her. 
Three-year-olds are awesome that way.

Christian was surprisingly chill the rest of the drive.
As were the fish.
3:57 pm--Nicholas woke up and insisted he hadn't been sleeping at all. Then he looked out the window at the trees in the canyon and said,
"Wow. Those trees are just really too green, aren't they?"

I told him I thought they were pretty and asked him if they even could be too green.
His response? "Actually, it's pretty nice to be green."


We had an awesome weekend at Grandma and Grandpa's house,
and when we set off for home on Monday morning, my mom sent us off with this tray of cookies fresh out of the oven.
 I asked Nicholas to smile for me, but this is his "I'm super mad because I don't want to go home" face.
 Little brother was happy, at least!
We're planning a trip to California in a couple of weeks...
I think I'm going to have to start packing for it today if I want to get everything ready in time. Whew!