Our favorite Christmas tradition!

We had a lot of fun this Christmas season. We took a mini vacation to Salt Lake to go have fun at the zoo and look at the lights at Temple Square. And then, actually, the next week we went back to Salt Lake because we got tickets to the Mormon Tabernacle Christmas Concert with Sesame Street! It was so fun...and a crazy adventure getting there involving a long, long, slow drive, cold corn dogs from a gas station, and a late, late bedtime. And then, the next morning, we had a Christmas breakfast for our Ward that Andrew was in charge of!

Andrew had some family come into town, so we spent a lot of time enjoying them. But, we were having a hard time fitting in one of our favorite traditions...decorating gingerbread houses. We do it every year and we love it. We've only actually made the gingerbread once, now we just use graham crackers (and this year Andrew even used some cardboard). Last year was Jessica's first year working on her own, so this year she had it down. 

We didn't get to our houses until Christmas Eve morning, but it was a fun two hour project and we are glad we didn't miss it! There is nothing quite like building a house full of sugar!

Here we are during the making of the amazing houses...

And here are the finished products...

Jessica's cool castle

Andrew's amazing A-frame

Brianna's colorful cottage

Merry Christmas! Make a gingerbread house next year...you just might want to start a new tradition!



Rocket Powered Pinewood Derby Race

We've written about our love of pinewood derbies before. Well, our love of making cars anyway. But this time, Andrew took things to a new extreme. 

I decided to do a rocket powered pinewood derby race for our Elders Quorum at church. And the race was a great success! But it all started with designing this speedy little car. I wanted it to kind of look like a rocket and have wooden fins carved from the original block of wood. I used my bandsaw, Dremel, and belt sander to shape my car. 

I also wanted the rocket engine to slide into the car and have the engine exposed a bit. This would serve two purposes. Having it open like this made it so my car wouldn't explode when the reverse charge went off. Also I thought it would look pretty neat. (Just so you know we used Estes C6-5 rocket engines. These rocket engines have a reverse charge at the end that blows the nose cone off of your model rocket to deploy the parachute.) This is important to know because if the engine is jammed inside your car and there is no vent or anything for the reverse charge your car will explode!

Well here was my finished car with a fresh coat of paint. I couldn't wait to see how it would race!

This was the line up of the rocket cars!

This is my car after two races. I love the way it looks with the burn marks on it! On my last (third) time across the parking lot I lost my front wheel and the race was over... It was a ton of fun. The track consisted of two long thin cables stretched tight about 100 feet long. The cars have little eyelets on the bottom that you clip onto the cable to keep your cars from flying into the neighbors yard. At the end the cars ran into an old ratty sleeping bag strapped to a board that was smoldering by the time the race was ending. 

Here is a link to a movie of the race. There are a couple of neat things to watch for in this clip. Watch for the orange car on one of its races...mid way down the track it starts spinning around and the rocket engine flies out of it and shoots over the fence! Also on the last run the orange car had its engine glued in so it wouldn't come out. When it reaches the end of the track and the reverse charge goes off the car explodes and you see a chunk of orange wood spiraling out from a ball of fire. We have it all in slow motion and it is great! Here is the link: 

Doughnut Sunday

This is Brianna here, and first off, my mom is an amazing cook. She can bake bread, make delicious desserts, and well, anyway, she is great. When I was in high school, she started making doughnuts, and usually it was on Sunday nights, so we would call it doughnut Sunday. We would invite some people over and have a party eating delicious doughnuts and way too much sugar. 

Five years ago, Andrew and I were in charge of a Family Home Evening group with college age adults and we decided to make them some doughnuts. But we did a small batch. So, a few weeks ago, we decided to take it to the extreme. We invited our whole ward over (our church congregation) and we decided to double the batch. We ended up with 148 doughnuts and doughnut holes and man, that was a lot of doughnuts! It was a bit of work, but a lot of fun! Thankfully, my sister Miranda was here visiting, and she and Andrew glazed the doughnuts and covered them in cinnamon sugar so I could just do the frying. It was great, but it may be another five years before I want to make that many doughnuts again!

This is a really bad quality picture because it came from my phone, but we didn't have anything else to document the night. This was after most of the doughnuts had been eaten and people were finally full!


On the road again...

Last week, we got back from a week long vacation to the great state of Colorado! Andrew and I moved to Colorado right as he finished college in 2006. We lived in Greeley and then Sterling and moved to Nebraska in 2010. During that time, we adopted Jessica and her birth family doesn't have the crazy opportunity to move as often as us, so they still live there. We planned up a trip to go visit them and some other people and places and it was so fun! Basically our trip could be divided into four categories: visiting friends, driving, camping, and swimming.

1-Visiting Friends

We first stopped in Sterling to visit some friends there and go stop by the church to see people. It was so fun seeing the town, our old place, and also noticing that nothing has changed there. Well, actually, we noticed two new stores, but that is it. Sterling is still Sterling. The next day we visited the scouts at scout camp nearby and Jessica had a great time playing in the sand and charcoal near the reservoir. She was a mess...but she had fun! We stopped by Andrew's old work in Greeley for a quick visit and then headed to Denver to see Jessica's birth parents that night. We hadn't seen them for 2 1/2 years so it was so good to see them again! Later, we were able to spend more time with them and lots of others from Jessica's birth family on both sides. We loved meeting everyone and putting faces with the names.


We tried to break up the trip in manageable chunks, so our longest drive was a 6 1/2 hour drive. But, we also hit a lot of road construction, so one drive which should have taken just over 1 1/2 hours took twice that long...which wasn't fun. We drove just over 1,500 miles round trip and drove through four states. But, we made it through with lots of junk food and snacks, and fortunately Jessica is a great traveler.

This was the view of the back window of our car often. We had to dry those swimming suits somehow!


We only went camping one night, but it was a great night and fortunately, the weather forecast was wrong, and we only got a few sprinkles of rain. We stayed in Rocky Mountain National Park near Estes Park, Colorado. We used to go often when we lived in Greeley and it is beautiful! We saw lots of chipmunks, squirrels, deer, and some elk. We had pretty much the worst night's sleep of our trip, but hey, it was fun!


We went swimming EVERY day except Sunday. Some days we went swimming twice in one day. It was a lot of swimming in cold hotel pools, but Jessica loved every second of it! Really, this is what made it a vacation to her. We had fun too. The best pool (and the only one photographed) was at Little America in Granger, Wyoming. (The place that posts billboard signs all over Wyoming about their ice cream cones, playground, on site mechanic, and marble showers.) It was the best pool because it was warm...80 degrees! It was outside, so once you get out of the pool and walk back to your hotel room three buildings down in the Wyoming wind, you are cold, but that pool was nice!

It was a great trip! But as with most vacations, it is nice to come home to your own bed, real food, and a schedule. So, while it means Andrew has to go back to work and I had to wash what felt like ten loads of laundry, it also means Jessica goes to bed at 8 and falls asleep on her own instead of staying awake until 10 every night! Now, a few weeks later, we are ready for another vacation, but this time, we want to go to the beach.


Why wait for Halloween to dress up?

Over Memorial Day, Andrew's extended family had a huge family reunion. It was a lot of fun, food, and family all in one weekend! We went to a big lodge in Heber City, Utah with a pond to go fishing and boating, a pool, and a lot of space to play and run around. One night, we had a talent show, and Andrew's family did a fun rendition of "The Lion Sleeps Tonight." A few people had some giraffe pants, and other jungle animal pants, so they said to wear them if you wanted. 

Well, Jessica has some zebra pants, but we are a little extreme I guess, so we couldn't stop there. We figured we should be all be zebras. We bought some shirts, spray paint, used a lot of tape, and we became the zebra family!

Nice looking shirts, right? Well, after posting this I realized we love dressing up whenever we get a chance! I decided to find a few pictures from some past occasions. I wish I had some pictures from my high school homecoming week days (this is Brianna). I wasn't one of the students with the most high school spirit, but I loved to dress up, so I did. The best ones were when I dressed up as Cupid, and as the batmobile (which was awesome and difficult at the same time...I carried around a cardboard car all day long), and when I wore my little brother's pajamas and horse slippers for pajama day. I don't know how those pajamas fit.

Anyway, the other dress ups are here. Enjoy!

This one was more recent, from our Cub Scout Pack Meeting, and the theme had something to do with Wild West, so we threw some stuff together last minute. Nice belt buckles, huh? And Jessica's awesome Jessie costume? Construction paper and packaging tape!

Andrew's parents have a closet full of dress ups...which is always fun for Sunday dinner or holiday entertainment!

Okay, so this was from Halloween, but still...it was impressive, because we actually had our first adoption meeting with our new caseworker in Utah on this day, and we all went to the meeting wearing our costumes. And then afterwards, we went to get our fingerprints done in costume. And in case you can't tell, Andrew and I are Gus and Jaq, Cinderella's mice friends. 

This one is fun because Jessica started it and put the mustache on by herself and then brought Andrew the other one. And well, it is so cute!

And this one is the classic. The extreme of the extreme Halloween costume. I went as a Lego, but Andrew wanted to be an old man, and he shaved his head to do it! That isn't a wig, we shaved it to look bald and then sprayed it white. Then, after HalloweenI shaved it all off so he didn't look too weird! 

Hello and welcome to our blog. We are Andrew, Brianna, and Jessica and our family is hoping to adopt again! Want to get to know more about us? Great...just keep reading! The sidebar to the left has plenty of great options to start you off. If you want to contact us, feel free (all contact info is to the right as well). We would love to hear from you!