Jessica's Story: Part 2

If you missed Part 1, click here. If not, keep reading.

Sunday, July 4

Our lives were forever changed this day, and it had nothing to do with fireworks! The day started off like a normal Sunday; we got up and got ready for church which started at 9 am. I was going to teach my Primary class, the 6 and 7 year olds, and Andrew was going to Elder’s Quorum. When I got to Primary, I even volunteered to teach another class because their teachers were out of town. Then, at 9:14, Andrew’s phone started to vibrate. We never used to take his cell phone to church, but the last few weeks, it went everywhere with us, and was usually hidden in his pocket, on vibrate. Once he realized it was his phone vibrating, he looked and saw Melinda’s name and rushed out of class to answer. She said her water had broken and she was heading to the hospital.

He came down to Primary and came behind my row and said, “We need to leave.” I asked, “Really?” and of course he said yes. Would he have really joked about that? I told them we had a family emergency and needed to leave, and left all my stuff there. Andrew grabbed his things out of his class, and we took off. At this point, it was only 9:18, so we were still doing good on time. I called Melinda and she said her water broke around 8:50, and they were on their way to the hospital. Fortunately, she was not yet having contractions, so she was feeling pretty good and ready for this baby girl to get here!

We got home, threw together the last few things we had and got in the car. The two hour drive seemed to go so quickly, although Andrew went the speed limit the whole way. On the way, we called and texted our family members and wondered if this was really happening! I had printed off directions to the hospital weeks earlier, but unfortunately, they weren’t the best instructions. Fortunately, we did have our atlas with us, so we were able to figure out where we were going without too many problems…although it was still a little stressful! We made it there, and got up to her room about 11:45.

Melinda’s contractions started just before we got to the hospital, but she was doing amazing! We were able to visit with her, walk around with her (for a little bit), and enjoy being with her more. She was doing great, and then all of a sudden, things started to change, and the contractions started getting worse. We left the room for a little while, and were actually going to go eat something, and then, they told us to not go anywhere. She was dilated to a 7 and things were moving quickly. She decided to get an epidural, which helped a lot with the pain. It helped me too because it was hard to see her in so much pain. I wish we could have taken that pain away…oh how we love her! Even as I am writing this, more than two months later, I remember the emotions that filled us at the time, and am still overcome by them.

At 3:02 pm, she was dilated to a 10 and they started getting things ready. Andrew and Melinda’s dad and siblings were waiting in the family waiting room. Her mom and I were able to be in the room with her. What a blessing! I am so grateful that she was willing to let me stay with her for this special time; it meant so much to me. Melinda was incredible! She pushed and pushed, and did everything just right…fortunately, things continued to go well and quickly, and the most beautiful girl in the world was born at 3:49 pm. She was perfect, with plenty of dark hair, and she hardly cried at all! She was amazing! Melinda held her for a little bit and we talked about names…she wasn’t Jessica until that point. They measured and weighed her and had to warm her up a little, and then I took a little break to go deliver some news to the others.

After awhile, we all piled back into the room, took some pictures, watched Jessica’s first bath, and then prepared to move rooms. We were so fortunate to be able to stay in the hospital, in a room right next door to Melinda’s. The nurses were amazing; Melinda’s delivery nurse was also LDS and her daughter and son-in-law had recently adopted through LDS Family Services as well. She never works Sundays, but because of the holiday weekend, she was assigned to, and she was great! There really are no coincidences in life…it is amazing how everything works out.

We got to our new room and called our families and our Bishop, ate some dinner, and tried to really understand what was happening. Everything really was a blur for the next few days…but it was wonderful! Melinda wanted Jessica to stay in our room at the hospital, so she could get some rest. We were so worried that first night! Because Jessica was born so quickly, she still had some things in her that she would start to cough up and choke on at times. We were so afraid she was going to choke, that we would get up and check on her with every sound she made! She didn’t want to sleep for a few hours in the night, even though we did, so we got a lot of practice trying to stay awake in the middle of the night. It was a long night!

Monday, July 5

The next morning, we brought Jessica over to Melinda and they hung out for a few hours. She told us to go take a nap, which we did! I felt so much better after that nap! Melinda’s family came that day too, and we told them we were going to explore around town, so we left for most of the day. It was interesting, being out and exploring, when we had a little baby back at the hospital. Most people don’t get a day like that when their child is only a day old, so it was kind of fun for us!

We were able to visit more with everyone later that night…they really need bigger hospital rooms. We never had enough chairs! That night, Jessica stayed with Melinda. We were hoping she would sleep well for her, but she wasn’t quite used to sleeping through the night in those days, so we felt a little bad when we found out she was up for a few hours with her as well.

Tuesday, July 6

Tuesday was placement day and we knew it was going to be a big day. Melinda was going to be discharged and we were going to be able to bring Jessica home. While we were looking forward to it, at the same time, we weren’t. There were a lot of emotions and we knew it would be a hard day. Our caseworker Kelly came and met with Melinda to sign paperwork. He said she was amazing…but we already knew that! Then, he met with us for our paperwork. After that, we all met up in Melinda’s room to visit and take more pictures. Like all of our visits, this one was great, but I felt like I could only talk so much before I started to cry. The spirit and the love that was felt in that room was so great that it isn’t something that can be discussed on a blog or really even described through words. We were filled with love for Melinda, her family, and for Jessica. We were amazed at her strength and love for her beautiful little girl. She is incredible and we are so grateful for her!

I think we could have stayed there all day, but eventually, it was time to go. Melinda brought Jessica over to us and placed her in my arms. It was a great moment. We all left the hospital together and visited a little more in the parking lot. Eventually, we all got in our cars and drove away.

We got a little lost, but eventually made it onto the right freeway and headed home. Jessica was sound asleep for the entire drive; even when we stopped to feed her, she feel asleep soon after we started driving again. Andrew and I were talking and we really couldn’t believe we were finally parents! It felt so incredible and so unreal. We felt so blessed! That night, we shared the news with the world. We were so excited and wanted everyone to see our beautiful little girl!

We are so grateful for Melinda! We felt that she was guided to us and that we were guided to her. We are so blessed and grateful that it was the will of the Lord for Jessica to join our family and that her amazing birth mom was strong enough to place her with us. She has made an incredible sacrifice, one that was filled with love for her beautiful daughter. We love her so much! Our lives are blessed every day by her actions! We are so grateful for open adoption and that she will always be a part of our family!


Jessica's Story: Part 1

We wanted to post the story of how Jessica came into our lives but there are a lot of things to tell! We have decided to split it up into two parts because we don't have as much time as we used to to write up all the blog posts we want and it is pretty long.

Saturday, May 1

Andrew and I attended the Colorado and Wyoming Families Supporting Adoption (FSA) Conference in Denver and loved it! The day before, he had just returned from training at Philmont in New Mexico, so he had had a long week, but we were so glad we came. We met some amazing people, one of them was Melinda. She was attending the conference with her parents, and was planning on placing her child for adoption. She and her dad came in and sat down by us during the opening and we talked to them a little between classes. Then, at lunch, we sat down at a table, and we saw them go to another table and sit all by themselves. Andrew turned to me, and said, “We need to go sit by them.” Then, he grabbed his plate and left the table. I figured I better explain to the people at our table what we were doing so they would know we still liked them. He really left mid-conversation…it was funny. Anyway, then, Melinda’s mom came and we met her too, and she stayed the rest of the day. Andrew talked to them at the end of the conference and was dying to give them one of our pass along cards. I was worried about doing it because I didn’t want to pressure her and have all these hopeful adoptive couples handing her cards and trying to become her best friend. I was really worried and wanted her to feel welcome, not pressured to choose us. He did it anyway.

At the end of the day, our caseworker, Kelly, said he needed to talk to us and pulled us out into the hall. He told us that Melinda had looked at our profile on itsaboutlove.org and she liked us! He hadn’t met with her yet, but he would be the next week, and would keep us posted. Holy cow! We were so excited! And we were amazed with everything that happened that day: they just happened to sit by us, we sat by them at lunch, and really, that we were able to meet them at all.

Tuesday, May 4

Kelly called in the evening after he met with Melinda and her parents. She still liked us…and was going to email us soon! Then, he realized he had taken our profile down for a “soft hold” so he said he’d need to put it back up so she could get our email address. We were a little worried, but it worked out fine. Her mom had actually printed out our profile, so they already had it. Kelly also told us we could be 50% excited, but it was a little hard to keep our excitement levels down! The waiting (for the emails) began; we really did check our email at least ten times a day after that.

Thursday, May 6

We got our first email! Actually, the funny thing is, Melinda sent this email at about 10 pm. We were going crazy checking our email so often, so I finally told Andrew we should just shut down the computer and play a game. We did. The next morning, we checked it, and saw that she had sent the email minutes after we shut down our computer! We were so impressed with that first email…she was so honest, open, and thoughtful. She asked us questions and told us to get back to her soon, but to not rush. She wanted us to really think about our answers. Honestly, we couldn’t think about anything else! We worked on them Friday, all day and all night. I probably interrupted Andrew during work a lot that day, but it was hard not to. We emailed her all of our answers on Saturday and waited for a response, which fortunately, we got!

We continued to email every few days over the next few weeks and found out a lot about Melinda. We grew to love her and we were so excited to get her emails. We also found out she was due July 7th, but she was waiting to tell us if she was having a boy or a girl. We even emailed her mom at one point. She asked us if they could come visit us on Memorial Day and we said yes! We couldn’t wait. Even though our caseworker said we should still be 50-60% excited, Andrew made a paper chain counting down the days until her due date!

Monday, May 31

Melinda and some of her family came out to meet us. We talked, played Sorry, looked at pictures, and ate dinner. Then, we talked more, and Andrew asked her why she had ever considered us and wanted to contact us. She and her mom shared their feelings of how they felt guided to our profile. Then, Melinda told us she thought we were wonderful, and that she wanted us to be the parents of her baby! Andrew and I both started crying; I couldn’t say anything, and finally, he said, “thank you,” and we rushed over to her to give her a hug. Actually, she was still sitting down on the couch, and I kind of felt like I was attacking her with a hug, because I didn’t even give her a chance to stand up! Everyone was crying and hugging at this point! Then she told us she was having a baby girl, and said she wanted to give us our first baby gift. She had made a beautiful baby blanket and gave it to us. We looked at some of her baby pictures then, and talked more, and then, they had to leave. We wanted to keep talking, but they were already leaving later than they planned, so we figured we better let them go.

That night, we were on the phone for hours, calling our parents and brothers and sisters. We were so excited and so happy that it was hard to sleep!

Over the next month or so, we were able to go visit Melinda and her family a few different times. We loved getting to know all of them better! We found that we have a lot of things in common, and we had so much fun learning more about her. We met with her, her family, and our caseworker to discuss details of her birth plan—what she wanted to happen before, at, and after birth and placement. It was hard to think about some of those times, because we knew it would be so difficult for her, and hard for us to watch her hurting. We feel so grateful that we all wanted to have an open adoption and we are excited to have Melinda in our lives forever!

Dying to know what happens next? Click here to find out!


Introducing Baby Jessica!

Jessica Nicole

the most beautiful girl in the world!

born July 4th

3:49 pm

7 lbs, 8 oz - 20 inches long

We are so grateful for her birth mom and birth family! We love them so much! Our lives have been greatly blessed by adoption!

More details will come later.


Girl's Camp

Where have we been? Well, things have been busy! This is Brianna, and about 5 or 6 weeks ago, I got a new calling...Assistant Stake Girl's Camp Director. The catch? Girl's Camp was only 3 weeks away! It was a crazy few weeks, and the week of camp was even crazier, although it was also a lot of fun!

Girl's Camp was from June 15 to June 19, at Camp Batel in Wyoming. It is pretty high in the mountains, so although some days were warmer, that meant in the upper 70s and maybe 80s. Nights were in the 40s and I was getting cold! I loved it! I wish I could transport some of that weather here right now.

Anyway, camp was busy! The first few days I felt like I was running around a lot to try to get everywhere I needed to be, but then, on Wednesday I went on an overnight hike with the 4th year girls, and got a little bit of a break. The only time I took pictures was on that hike; I kept forgetting to pull out my camera. But the area we hiked in was beautiful! At times it was so green and there were so many trees it reminded me of Washington!

We got back Thursday from the hike, and I actually had to leave the next morning, but everyone else had another day. It was a great adventure, and I loved getting to know the girls from our ward better. They are so fun! But once again, I learned that camping can really wear you out, especially when you don't sleep well. I didn't get much sleep at night probably due to the thin foam pad I was laying on, but I slept great for the next few days at home! I love my bed...and showers!

Below are some of the pictures from the hike. Remember, this was in Wyoming...amazing, huh?

I wish this was my backyard.

That is me...one of the only pictures of me. And no, I am not wearing a sash...I had a red shirt on, and I brought a red sweatshirt. I just really liked red that day.

This is Wyoming??

Where I slept...for one night. The other nights they had huge tents that are always up for the campers. This is Andrew's birthday tent that he let me use. It worked great!


Oh what do you do in the Summertime?

We had a great weekend and whenever we have a great weekend, it is always great to write up a big, long post about it, right? Well, actually, that great weekend also included a little less sleep than normal, so we are tired, and are only going to write a little.

But, we had a great weekend! We got to take a break, spend some time with friends, hear some funny jokes, and talk and talk. We ate some delicious food, went to the temple, and we even got some free samples at Sam's Club. Don't worry, that delicious food we ate wasn't the samples at Sam's Club.

Our next few weeks are going to be a little busy, so it was nice to have a fun, relaxing weekend to start them out...even if we did get to bed late every night!


What happens when 4 people get into a 3 person canoe?

What a weekend! A holiday weekend is always more exciting than a normal weekend, it is really nice getting that extra day off. Actually, we've really been looking forward to this weekend! It started out blazing hot with temperatures close to 100 degrees on Thursday and Friday.

We were invited by some of our friends to go camping at a reservoir just north of town. With all that heat, we were really hoping they would call and decide not to go. We like camping, but it was hot, there are no trees out here, and who wants to roast marshmallows over a campfire on a really hot day? We figured we could walk out the front door with a marshmallow on a stick and it would roast right there on the spot. But, they didn't change their mind, so we toughened up and headed out in the early evening, just as the temperatures started to drop. Actually, when we got there, the wind picked up and it was a lot cooler there than it was at our place.

One other thing that made this trip exciting was that it was the first time we'd be loading the 15 foot canoe on top of our 17 foot car and actually driving with it on top. We were even driving on a highway with speeds around 50 MPH, and the canoe didn't fly off the top or even budge! Whenever you are securing something valuable to the top of your car, you always have nightmares of it flying off and smashing on the road or hitting another car; but we were pleasantly reassured that it was firmly attached to the car!

Andrew here, I got the canoe for Christmas and this was our first time using it since then. I've been talking about loading it up on the car, driving some place and canoeing around for a long time, and it has probably been driving Brianna crazy!  So it felt nice to actually be doing it! Even driving around with the canoe on top was really fun for me. Well we got to the reservoir and got our tent set up, then got to paddle around for awhile and it was sure great to be in a canoe again.  I just love it!  It can be so relaxing to be gliding around on the water in a canoe...

So the first trip out in the canoe wasn't with Brianna, it was with our friends who invited us on the outing. They (our friends and their 2 year old daughter) climbed in the front and I was in the back. It was a fully loaded canoe once we all got in. It was funny to see their daughter smashed between the two of them and clinging to her mom's leg. She wasn't the only one who was scared...we had some really close calls out there with it rocking back and forth and it almost began with disaster. Luckily we didn't capsize. Come to find out, as we were paddling away from the shore two nearby fisherman noticing how low the canoe was riding said, "this ought to be interesting!" Brianna was on the shore and heard this remark and was laughing with them. I'll tell you, it can be kind of spooky, once the canoe starts to wobble it seems to start a chain reaction as everyone tries to lean to the other side to balance it. But these good intentions usually result in brief bursts of chaos as everyone reacts at the same time. I really thought we would flip over a couple times!  Fortunately, we made it back without too much trouble.

When they got out Brianna got in and we paddled around for awhile. It was great. Come to think of it, this was the first time that we have canoed together since we were married. Canoeing with Brianna brought back some good memories. One of our first dates was actually canoeing...and Brianna wasn't really my date. So here's the quick version of the story. Me and my roommate both took dates canoeing. My roommate Jordan took Brianna and I took some other girl. Anyways it was on that date that I realized I had the wrong girl in my canoe! Shortly after that, I asked Brianna out and we started dating.

So back to the camping trip- It was fun and we were really glad we went. We also got to use the new (used) tent that I got from Philmont Scout Ranch for $40...what a deal! Anyways it is a good little 1 man 1 woman tent and held up to the wind really well. In fact it was really hot that night so we unzipped the back window and front door (so all we had was the mesh up there) and the wind would just blow through cooling us off. Sounds nice doesn't it...but we really didn't get much sleep. The moon was full and it was really bright. I remember looking out of the tent door in the middle of the night and was shocked to see the shadow of the tent in the light of the moon! It was so weird because it was suppose to be dark at night, but the moon was so bright I could really see shadow of our tent on the ground! Anyways it was still fun...it was a good adventure!

This is Brianna now, and another reason why we couldn't get any sleep was because there were so many insects and animals making noises. At around 3 in the morning I told Andrew that I don't know why anybody buys nature cds; they are not relaxing! Anyway, the insects weren't bad and I don't mind them, but there were birds making a ton of noises talking to each other. I've heard the phrase, "the early bird gets the worm" plenty of times before, but I think 2 am should be way too early for any bird! Maybe they were getting confused because the moon was so bright because once the sun came out later in the morning, they were quiet...probably trying to sleep. Anyway, add lots of noises, flimsy sleeping pads, and a bright moon, and it all equals a very bad night sleep. Oh well, we still love camping, so I guess it is worth a bad night's sleep. Besides, last night, we slept great to make up for it!

Overall, we had a great camping trip and have had a great weekend so far!


Spring Cleaning and a Second Wind

Sometimes it is good to get a change, and lately, we've needed one. We have currently been living in our home for almost 19 months. That may not seem like a long time, but it is the longest we have ever been in one place. When we first moved to Colorado, we were in Greeley, and we lived there for just over two years...but, we lived in two different apartments. When you live in a small place (or maybe any place), one way to make it feel like you are in a new place is to rearrange the furniture. It is kind of fun too.

This past week we have been doing some spring cleaning and clearing out clutter that accumulated all winter. We have noticed that when we try to do this deep cleaning and rearranging, we make a bigger mess than what we ever had before. Saturday night, we had a mess...and then, Andrew got a second wind!

Andrew here, I typically get a second wind at night and I can stay up late and watch a movie, play a game, or just do something. This doesn't work out too well because Brianna usually falls asleep. But this particular night, when my second wind came, I decided to watch the abridged version of a movie (Real quick, every now and again, I feel like watching a movie, one that we've had for awhile. And since we've had it for awhile, I don't feel like watching the whole thing because I know what is gonna happen next and it just isn't as exciting anymore. So, the way I fix this is I watch the movie with the remote in my hand and just skip to the good parts. Sometimes, I can watch a two hour movie in about 30 to 40 minutes.).

The only problem with wanting to watch a movie was that our TV was on the floor because we had moved the shelf it was originally on to another room. The TV was going to go on the dresser, but the dresser was on the wrong side of the room! So, with some last minute inspiration, I realized it was either no movie or rearrange the rest of the room, and put the TV on the dresser so we could watch the movie. We did it...in record time! And the movie was great too!

Actually, we are really liking the new set-up of our room. It feels like it is brand new again! Now, we are that much closer to being completely done with our spring cleaning and de-cluttering.


Who needs Stonehenge...

Who needs Stonehenge when you've got Carhenge? Yep, you read that right...Carhenge. Basically, it is a replica of Stonehenge, made from old painted cars. So, I guess you do need Stonehenge, or there would be no Carhenge, but oh well.

Last week, Andrew had a meeting in Chadron, Nebraska, and on the way to Chadron, you pass a small town called Alliance. Alliance is the home of Carhenge. Once, we passed a billboard that said "Carhenge," but we had no idea how to find it and we didn't want to be late, so we kept driving. We did some research and knew we had to stop and see it. Andrew had gone once before, but he didn't have the camera, so this time, we were prepared.

It was really cold and windy, so we didn't spend much time there, but we did get plenty of pictures for you to enjoy. Commentary on the pictures is courtesy of Andrew.

This is some of the best art to come out of Nebraska!

Did we mention it was windy?

It is strange to think of the ancient druids of Nebraska building this structure...there are some theories of what this structure was for, but for the most part it is a mystery. You wouldn't expect to find a place in Nebraska with a bunch of old cars stacked on top of each other in a farmer's field...it is just kind of odd.

I'm not sure what this is supposed to be...but it is kind of strange.

Now that you have seen the pictures, you are probably dying to come visit...but, we don't recommend it if you are going to have to drive eight or more hours to get there. Alliance is about two hours away from us and it isn't very exciting, except for Carhenge; and that excitement only lasts for five minutes until you are ready to leave! But, if you are driving through, or headed to Chadron, like we were, it is worth the stop. For the rest of you, well, just look at the pictures again and try not to be too jealous that we are so close to some amazing artwork!


Our Weekend was on Fire...Literally!

This is Brianna, and I am here to let you know that although I love cooking, I don't like barbecues. I love eating things cooked on the barbecue: burgers, chicken, corn, kabobs, anything! But, I don't like hooking up the propane and turning it on. I'm always a little worried I will do something wrong and it will blow up. Well, after this weekend, I don't like barbecues even more!

We have a small barbecue which we received for our birthdays five years ago from Andrew's family. It was a great gift and we have gotten a lot of use out of our wonderful little barbecue. It doesn't have a lot of cooking space, but for us it is perfect.

Our well loved barbcue grill...in all its glory!

On Friday, we decided to have hot dogs for dinner. Andrew was a little busy getting things ready for a Bowling for Boy Scouts fundraiser for work which was taking place the next day. Being the wonderful wife that I am, I decided that I should set up the barbecue for him. I did. I pulled the barbecue and propane tank out of the garage. I hooked up the propane tank and turned it on, and I didn't even worry too much that it was going to blow up. I've been getting a lot more practice lately so I have been a lot less worried.

He was still getting things ready, so I even decided to grill the hot dogs. I cooked them to perfection! And then, when they were done, I turned off the grill. Right after I moved my hand away from the knob, it started on fire! There were flames coming up from the barbecue knob! I panicked, left the hot dogs on the barbecue and ran in the house to get Andrew as I repeated, "Get off the phone; the barbecue is on fire!" He came outside, very calmly (too calmly), and was still talking on the phone. (He told me later that he thought it was a grease fire...which we have had before. I don't like them either.)Then, he saw the flames and where they were coming from, and said, "I'll call you back."

At this point, I realized what the problem was: I had forgotten to turn off the propane first. We always turn the propane off and leave the barbecue running so all the gas can come out of the hose and then we turn off the barbecue and unhook the propane. I messed up the order! So, Andrew turned off the propane while I was apologizing to him over and over and praying that the propane tank would not blow up! But, even after he had turned it off, the knob was still burning. The fire wasn't getting bigger...but it wasn't getting any smaller either. Finally, after waiting and watching it for awhile, Andrew blew on it and it went out. But the knob was no longer nice and shiny and it is missing half of the settings.

We think that actually there may have been a leak near or under the knob where the propane somehow leaked out to feed the flame. Even though I messed up the order, Andrew says it wasn't my fault and that the barbecue was just getting old. My mom even said that she turns off the barbecue first almost all the time and hers has never done this.

We were just commenting the other day how great our grill was and how it has lasted such a long time. Fortunately Andrew's birthday is coming up, and although he already bought himself a tent, I think I am going to be buying him a new barbecue. Another little one of course; we still like them. Although I don't plan on setting it up and cooking on it anymore. I am leaving it to him.


Families Supporting Adoption Conference

This last week was a little crazy for us, but on Saturday, there was a Families Supporting Adoption (FSA) Conference planned that we wanted to attend…no matter what. It was a regional one, for Colorado and Wyoming, and it was the first one this area has had. We decided we didn’t want to leave at 6 am on Saturday morning, so we got a hotel Friday night and stayed in Denver. It was a long day, especially for Andrew, because he just got back from Philmont (which was a 7 hour drive)...but the conference was amazing so we were so glad we made it! Everyone we met there was wonderful and we were so grateful to be there and learn more about adoption.

FSA is a group that basically wants to tell everyone how amazing adoption is. It includes birthmothers and their families, families who have adopted or who are hoping to adopt, and anyone else who loves adoption. We are involved with our local FSA (find more about that one here) and we’ve loved our experiences with it! But overall, this conference was the best.

The whole day we had some great speakers, and it started out with Mrs. R. who is a great adoption advocate. If you haven’t read her blog, you are really missing out. After she spoke, there were four different class times, and because we wanted to learn all we could, Andrew and I split up for each of the three break-off times. The other class, we got to attend together, and it was wonderful! It was actually taught by two amazing birthmoms; one who placed her daughter with her family 8 months ago and the other who placed her son almost 3 years ago. Their stories were touching and I loved hearing about their experiences and testimonies of adoption. They truly are amazing women and I hope everyone can understand that!

Overall, it was really a wonderful day! Here are some of the things we learned. Actually, this is hardly anything that we learned, but I didn’t want to type up page after page for the blog post. I am typing up more for a friend, so if you want to know more about the classes, email me at andrewbrianna21@gmail.com and I will send it to you. In the meantime…here’s the very short version:

- Having a hard time with life? Serve others. President Gordon B. Hinckley said, “Work will cure your grief. Serve others.”

- When you receive inspiration and revelation in your life, write it down in your journal. During the hard times, that revelation will sustain you.

- “We must be willing to get rid of the life we’ve planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.” –Joseph Campbell

- Maybe you have heard a lot of “bad” things or statistics about adoption. Well, guess what? There are a lot of great things and statistics about it too. The teacher explained it like this: thousands of airplanes leave and land in airports every single day…and everything goes perfectly. You only hear about the accidents and problems, and then, you get a little scared about flying.

- Open adoptions are amazing and bless everyone involved!

P.S. I did get my haircut, but sorry; I haven't had a picture taken of it yet. I only have the before shot...so you will have to wait a little longer!


Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico

This is Andrew here:

So just this last week (Monday to Friday) I got to go to Philmont Scout Ranch in Cimarron, New Mexico for some professional training on management. It is such a pretty place and it was some great training! It had been about six years since I had been there last and it was neat for me to go back and look around. In the summer of 2004 I was a staff Group Leader at the Philmont Training Center and it was a great experience. Each week I would get a different group of youth or kids and take them on day hikes, overnight camping or play group games as their parents attended Scouting training. In fact my first week there they put me in charge of a group of 26 six year olds and that was pretty wild. After that crazy week I requested to be with kids at least eight years old and up…the two dozen plus six year olds about did me in! Kind of an interesting story and probably the craziest thing I have ever done is the tale of how I made it to Philmont.

The day I caught my flight to Albuquerque it was Sunday and I believe even Father’s Day. I was set to get to the airport around 10 AM and then wait there till 7 PM for a bus bound for Raton. Since it was Sunday I packed some granola bars to chomp on while I was waiting, so I wouldn’t have to buy anything on the Sabbath. I figured I could just sit there eating snacks and reading the whole day…well that only lasted for about an hour before I realized that was a terrible plan…it was getting really boring! So I called the local LDS Church and told them I was at the airport and would like to attend Sacrament meeting. They were really nice and said that someone would be by to pick me up. So sure enough someone came and got me and took me to church. After church I noticed that I still had quite a bit of time before the bus was going to come so I decided I would just read at the church rather than sit in a small airport…the church was a much nicer place to be. To make a long story longer, a family invited me to eat dinner with them and I agreed. I then went on a walk with their family after dinner before they dropped me off at the airport so I could catch my bus. What a nice family… I had never even met them before! I had planned on handing out a Book of Mormon while I was on the four hour bus ride, but to my surprise I was just about the only person on the bus that spoke English, so my hope of striking up a great conversation on the way up there was foiled. Anywho, it was a long bus ride. Around midnight the bus made a stop at a gas station in the middle of nowhere. I got off the bus and decided since it was after midnight and officially Monday that I would buy something at the gas station.

As I was waiting in line to pay for my stuff something awful happened…I saw the headlights of the bus flash across the windows as it pulled away from the deserted gas station. I was flabbergasted! I didn’t know what to think or to say… Finally I said to the cashier, “I think the bus just left me here!” She said something like, “oh, that’s too bad.” Really sympathetic! Anyways, I said (out loud to myself), “I’ve got to make it to Raton somehow!” There where three guys behind me in line and one of them who spoke a little English said, “Raton!”

I turned around and repeated, “I need to get to Raton to get to the bus.” The same man pointed to a small pickup truck near the pumps and said, “Come!” Not really thinking I followed them out there and stood next to the truck. Since there were three men, there was not room in the cab of the small truck so one of them tossed me a sleeping bag. As I hopped in the back I told them, “I’ve got to make it to Raton fast!”

With that the truck jerkily sped away from the gas station and onto the dark and desolate highway. The truck quickly picked up speed as I tried to get inside the sleeping bag to take some of the chill off. I quickly found out that the bag was made for a person the size of Bilbo Baggins, so I had to wrap the bag around me instead. As I sat there in the back of the pickup, sleeping bag flapping in the wind listening to the high whining of the motor it hit me…“what the heck am I doing?!?!” My thoughts started going wild. “What if they don’t know where their going?! What if they take me some place and sell me into slavery?! What if they crash or we get pulled over or something?!” It was at this moment of panic that I remembered to pray. I said two prayers; first that I would be safe and that we would find the bus and second that I would be able to feel the calming influence of the Holy Ghost. Well, prayers are answered. I felt a peaceful feeling come over me and I looked up at the beautiful stars and thought of what a beautiful world we have to live in. Then I started singing my favorite church hymns which also helped calm me. Then we passed up the bus with a roar and whirl of wind. We really must have been making some good travel time on the road!

I tried to sleep, but it was impossible. After a while the truck began slowing down and I saw street lights whooshing above my head. The truck slowed down even more and came to a stop at a dark and vacant gas station. I jumped out of the back of the truck and looked around. Nothing! There were no lights on and it was all quiet. The driver got out and I said, “where are we?” Pointing to the ground we stood on he said, “Raton, Raton!” I looked around then said, “where’s the bus?” Motioning for me to get back in the truck he then looked at me and said, “Come!” I hopped into the back and the truck sped off in another direction. I leaned my head over the edge of the truck and saw another gas station in the near distance and a glorious sight…the bus!!! The little truck whipped up next to the bus and I hopped out. I was so happy to see the bus! I tried to offer the three guys money, but they refused! What a selfless act of kindness they performed! I was able to get my bags off the bus and then catch my final ride to Philmont Scout Ranch! What a crazy, but memorable trip. I will never forget it and I will never do it again! That has to be one of the craziest things I have ever done.

Here is a slideshow of Philmont Scout Ranch. The house in the pictures is called The Villa Philmonte and was built in 1926 by Waite Phillips, who later donated the home and over 100,000 acres of his property to the Boy Scouts.


While Andrew is Gone

Andrew left at 5:30 this morning to go to Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico. He will be gone until Friday enjoying views like this...

I get to stay here and try to come up with things to do so I don't get too bored. It is amazing how long the nights seem to be when he is gone. I feel like I have all the time in the world to clean, watch movies, read, whatever...but sometimes, I get a little sick of all that time. So this week, here is a plan of a few things I am going to try to do to keep myself busy.

1-Visit the library. Our library isn't big compared to what we are used to...but, they have movies and of course, plenty of books. Fortunately, we live very close, so I can go visit whenever I want. I don't sleep well when Andrew is gone, so I usually watch a movie at night hoping that it will make me tired. Actually, I just got back from the library and I have a book and a movie, so I'm set for awhile.

2-Write in my journal. This wasn't really on my list of things to do, but when I was discussing this blog post with Andrew last night, and asking him for ideas of what to do this week, this is the one he offered. I don't know that I will get to it, but I do need to write an update.

3-Start a quilt. I've always wanted to make a quilt, but I am not a great seamstress. When I was a teenager, I made a skirt...and I was always a little nervous that the sewing machine was sewing too fast and I was going to sew my finger or something. I still don't like to sew that fast. Anyway, last year, for my birthday, my mom bought me a quilting book. It is supposedly an easy quilt, the Irish Chain, and according to the book's title, you can make it in a day. You can but I'm not even going to attempt it. But, I would like to start it...at least my practice one. I need to buy some fabric before I do the real thing.

4-Make at least two meals. This probably sounds weird because I love to bake and cook, right? But when Andrew is gone, it always seems like more of a hassle. Do I really want to make something just for me? And wash all those dishes? It is a lot easier to eat eggs, or sandwiches, or leftovers, but you know what? A week is a long time, and we don't have that many leftovers.

5-Get my hair cut. Really. I am actually a little worried about this one, but I already have the appointment scheduled, so I guess I can't back out, right? I need a haircut and haven't had one for almost a year, but I never know how to get it cut. Let's just hope it looks good because Andrew says usually I don't like it for about a month afterwards, because there is always something wrong with it. And usually, there is something wrong, but it is just my hair...it likes to flip out on one side, and flip in on the other. But last time, it wasn't my hair I was complaining about...it was the person who cut it; she didn't do so well. Don't worry; I am not going there again!

That is about it. There are plenty of other things I will be doing to keep myself busy, but I don't want to go overboard and make everyone think I am an overachiever; especially if I don't end up getting some of them done. But it should be a good week...although I already can't wait until Friday when Andrew comes home!


Five Great Years!

Five years ago today, this was happening:

Happy anniversary to us! We are so glad we get to be together forever!



Some of the time we feel like we live in the middle of nowhere. We don’t really…but we do seem to drive a lot. And, when you drive a lot, we sometimes get sick of searching for good radio stations, or just any radio station that will play something besides country. Then, we started listening to books on cd; go to the library to see what they have. Most libraries also have an online selection where you can download books for free. That is a great way to go! Now if we are ever going to have a lot of driving or we are taking a trip somewhere, we find some books to read and we are set.

So, do you have a trip coming up? Here are some options that we liked, at least a little bit:

-Harry Potter (all 7), by J.K. Rowling

This is Brianna, and I love the Harry Potter books! When the first movie came out, a friend and I wanted to see it, but we decided we should read the book first, so over the Christmas break, we both planned on reading Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. I couldn’t stop and I read the first four (that was all that was written at the time). I was home from BYU, and my family was kind of annoyed with me for reading the whole time, but I couldn’t help it. They were so good!

Anyway, fast forward a few years to 2005, and Andrew and I were taking a trip to Nevada, and we decided to get a book from the library on cd. This was the first time we had ever done it, and what a success! Andrew had never read any of the Harry Potter books (and hadn’t until we listened to them, although I did give him lots of details when I was reading and re-reading them), so we started with the first one. It was great and really made the trip a lot more exciting. But then we stopped. And we didn’t actually start listening to the rest of them until more recently. We finally finished the whole series together in the fall of 2009.

They are great books, and the narrator does a different voice for every character, so it is like you are watching an extended version of the movie blindfolded. But don't blindfold yourself because you will be driving, anyway, the narrator is great! But, these books are also longer than most; they are around 24 hours, so you better hope you have a lot of driving to do, or else you will want to start listening to them as soon as you get off work, when you are eating dinner, doing dishes, and so on. We speak from experience.

-Around the World in Eighty Days, by Jules Verne

We read this book last year and we thought it was pretty good. There were a few slow parts, but most of it was pretty enjoyable. We have seen one of the older movies of this and we found that there were some parts that were left out, obviously. But anyway, one was actually pretty funny to us because on his trip around the world, he was going by train through the state of Utah, and it even talked about the Mormons. It was entertaining to us, but that is because we are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and well, we were surprised to even hear about the Church in the book, regardless of what was said.

-Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley

We just read this one on the way to Utah earlier this month and it wasn’t at all like we thought it would be. It was good, but different, and sometimes the narrator got a little dull. We think this version must have been copied over from a tape, because occasionally they would repeat a line and sometimes the narrator’s voice would change and get a little slower or faster.

But actually, those things have nothing to do with the book, so we still recommend it. Just know that there are parts where it goes a little slow and you wish they would move on with things. Then again, did you ever know that Frankenstein is not the name of the monster, but actually the last name of the scientist who created him? Yeah, weird, huh? Also, the monster has read Paradise Lost and various other classics, he speaks French, is more agile than an Olympic gymnast, and he is not green at all.

-The Chronicles of Narnia, by C.S. Lewis

I read some of theses books growing up, but I didn’t remember much at all. They were actually pretty good, although there were a few that were a little slow. We wish we would have read those first, but we started reading them in the order they were written, not the chronological order. Next time, we would do the chronological order, because some at the end (like The Silver Chair) were really good.

Oh, and just in case you’ve seen the movie Prince Caspian know that the book is very different, and better. We prefer the book because there is a lot of drama in the movie that never existed in the book. Also, after reading the books, you notice minute details in the movie that are part of the book as well, but we never would have known or noticed them if we hadn't read the book, like the bears sucking their paws during Peter's fight with Miraz.

-Journey to the Center of the Earth, by Jules Verne

On our way back from Utah, we started reading this book, and it was much more exciting than Frankenstein to us. It was amazing that it was written in 1864, because, although there are a few different things, it really seemed like a book that could have been written last year. It was very entertaining and interesting.

Oh, and isn’t it kind of amazing that Iceland just had a volcano erupt right after we read this book about going to the center of the earth through the extinct volcano Sneffles, which also existed in Iceland? Actually, when we were talking about the volcano eruption Andrew told me it was the same volcano…and I believed him for a second. I said, “I thought that volcano was fake,” and then he informed me that it was and just laughed. But actually, I just found out thanks to Wikipedia, that it is a real volcano in Iceland; actually there are three of them with the same name, spelled Snæfell. The one that just erupted is Eyafjallajökull. Try saying that three times fast…or even at all!
Out of all these books, here is our recommendation from most exciting (I don't want to get out of the car) to least exciting (when is the next rest stop?):
1-Harry Potter
2-Chronicles of Narnia (even though some are a little slow, some are really good, so they make up for it)
3-Journey to the Center of the Earth
4-Around the World in Eighty Days


Have you ever had cobbler in a dutch oven?

Today was a beautiful day so we decided to break out the dutch oven! It has been awhile since we last used it, but now that we have it out, we don’t want to put it away! Have you ever used a dutch oven before? Do you know what one is? Basically it is a heavy cast iron pot with a lid and little legs it stands on. Anything that you can cook inside an oven or on the stove you can make inside a dutch oven.

We didn’t want to just make anything, like some chili; we wanted something that tastes really good…cobbler.

But, before you can eat something tasty, you have to do some work. The way a dutch oven cooks is by lighting some charcoal briquettes and getting them nice and hot. Then, you put a few underneath the dutch oven, and about twice as many on top of the lid. Actually, there is a little formula that explains how many briquettes you need to use, but we aren’t going to go into that. All you need to know is that you put briquettes under it and on top…and that is what heats it up and cooks your food.

So we got the briquettes going and made the peach cobbler, and started the cooking process. Then we realized we were going to have a lot of cobbler on our hands, so we called some friends to see if they would take some, because we didn’t want to eat all of it we knew we shouldn’t eat all of it, since it was probably enough for 10 people.

Lifting the lid and peering in at the cobbler is always fun because it smells delicious. In fact, our neighbor’s dog could even smell it because soon after we would open the lid, he would pause, sit up straight, and looked like he smelled some of our delicious cobbler. He even came over and stood right by the edge of the fence. Unfortunately for him, our friends wanted some, so he didn’t get any. It was really good, even if the picture doesn’t look like it.

P.S. The little stand that the dutch oven is on was part of Andrew’s Saturday project. He got the barrel from a guy’s ranch around here; the barrel used to have a cow’s vitamin lick inside of it (Andrew said the vitamin lick didn’t taste very good…just kidding), but now it is empty and makes a perfect portable fire pit. He put some legs on the side of it that can be flipped around to make it a fire pit raised off the ground or a dutch oven table. When cooking with a dutch oven it is nice having a raised working surface.