Derby Cars

This weekend, we built a car. Actually, we built two, although they aren’t finished yet. But when they are done, they are going to be awesome!

For the last three years, we have each built a pinewood derby car. If you don’t know what a pinewood derby car is, you probably never knew any Cub Scouts. If you do know what it is, you are probably thinking of that one family who went crazy every year, regardless of whether their car won or not. The Pinewood Derby can be a very emotional and intense race, bringing out the worst in some people. Despite all of that, it is the greatest Cub Scout activity in the world! You get this kit that is a block of wood, four nails, and four tires. Then, it is up to you to design, cut, and paint that block of wood. After it is done you race it and hope your wheels don’t come off. The wards (church congregation) we have been in for the last three years have had an open class race for the Pinewood Derby, so after the scouts race anyone who makes a car gets to race.

A lot of thought goes into our cars; not necessarily about how fast they will go, but about how good they will look. It is all about appearances for us in this race. The first year we decided to race, we went with a food theme for our cars; Andrew’s car was a block of Swiss cheese, which he called, “The Cheese Whizz.” It was fun to make because I didn’t have to do any major cutting on it; I just got my drill and put a bunch of holes through it.

Brianna’s car was the best looking hot dog all around. It was carved out of one piece of wood, but the hot dog extended past the bun…thanks to Andrew and his amazing wood working skills. These cars did okay at that race, but since then, we have raced them in other races and both have won! Brianna won first place last year. That sounds great, except that I beat this little Cub Scout, and I was cheering and giving Andrew high fives right in front of this kid (I didn’t know he was there, or that he was the person I beat). And then, I had to get my picture taken holding this huge trophy that they put in the newspaper, so I was actually pretty embarrassed. For work, Andrew often gets invited to Cub Scout events and Pinewood Derbies as a guest, and he just went to one last night. They told him to bring a car to race, and he did, and he got second place and also got a trophy.

Last year, Andrew made the “Big Bang,” which was a bundle of dynamite. Brianna made a canoe, but Andrew said it is a little too chunky for a canoe and looks more like a rowboat. Our cars looked great last year, but looks can be deceiving. In our case, it really was, because we had some of the slowest cars that night. But don’t worry, we still had fun, and we were grateful that we didn’t spend over 20 hours trying to make our cars as aerodynamic as possible, like others did. Actually, the fastest car of the night wasn’t a car; it was the Magic School Bus!

This year, Andrew started brainstorming three weeks ago to find the perfect design. His list of ideas consisted of an anvil, piano, dentures, dragon head, toaster, sandal, foot, a blimp (The Spirit of Adventure), the golden plates, and a smore. He is so creative, isn’t he? And then, just the other day, inspiration “struck.” A bolt of lightning! The funny thing about this car is that it is actually shaped like lightning and on top of it he will have a big metal bolt, which is why he is naming it “The Lightning Bolt.” Have you noticed a theme? Andrew likes to name all his cars. Brianna was not quite as creative; since she's never been a Cub Scout, she never made an actual car. So, this year, she is just making a car. But don’t worry; it will be a race car with a lot of cool features that can’t be disclosed yet in case other racers will want to steal my ideas.

Here are some pictures of our car building process. Luckily Andrew knows how to use a band saw or we would still be carving them a week later with a pocket knife.

They are now cut out and sanded, but we have to paint them, add the wheels and weight, and do all of those finishing touches to make our cars the best looking ones at the race.

But remember, looks can be deceiving. We may or may not write a follow-up post after the race next month.


Top 6 at almost 6

We had a good week last week. Here are some of our favorite things that happened this week, in no particular order:

1-A snowstorm out of nowhere dumped a bit of snow on us and made for a cold few days during the week. The snow we get out here is really light and fluffy stuff and just blows all over the place. It is the kind of snow that if you stamp your foot on it on a sidewalk it flies away leaving a large exaggerated footprint.
We know there is not a lot of snow out there, but for this area, this is the most snow that we have had since we moved here in October 2008! It's always fun to see how long some of these icicles can get!

2-We watched the first Harry Potter movie this week, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. We had recently just watched Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, so it was fun to compare the two. Those kids look so little in the first movie!

3- Andrew here...for the last several months we have been planning up a recognition dinner for all of the volunteers that I work with in this area. This last week it seemed like there were a bunch of small things that needed to happen in order to have things ready. Sometimes those small things are the ones that can drive you crazy. One of the best parts of the preparing for this event was that I got to make some of the plaques to give as awards. Anytime I can work in the garage with tools it is a good thing...even if it is cold outside! Anyways, it was a successful event despite the snow storm, slick roads and dropping temperatures. The whole evening went smoothly and everyone had a good time.

4-Backgammon is one of our favorite games and we got to play it a lot this week. It is a fun game, but it doesn't seem very common. Andrew learned how to play it in 2006 and we've been enjoying it ever since.

5-Yesterday we made some Orange Chicken for dinner. It was delicious! We love it, and because it was a Sunday, we were both home and got to make it together.

6-Brianna here...my brother, Shilo, returned home from his mission for the LDS Church! He was serving in the Mendoza, Argentina Mission, and the seasons are reversed, so he just came from summer and is a little cold, but doing well. (Sorry the picture is so small and blurry...I don't have an updated one, so I took it from my sister's pictures).


Our Families

Get ready for a long post! We thought we would share a little about both of our families. Enjoy!

Andrew’s family

Here’s a little bit about my family and what it was like growing up in that family. Being in the middle of seven kids I got to know my older siblings as well as the younger ones and that was nice. Since there were a handful of kids in the house, I was always sharing a room with one of my brothers it seemed. Having younger siblings I also took my many turns watching them while my parents were out on date night or something. I enjoyed telling them stories before they would go to bed. Some of their favorite stories to hear would be haunted pyramid stories that usually involved some explorers that get list in a jungle and then they happen upon this old haunted pyramid. I would usually name the explorers after my teachers at school just for fun. There are some fun memories about growing up.

One of the craziest and neatest things I think my family did while growing up was going to Europe for about 3 weeks. I was in kindergarten and my little brother Jon was in one of those kid carrying backpacks. Our crew consisted of my older brother Grant, my older sisters Diana and Michelle, and my mom and dad. I just remember riding trains and carrying a grey bag around. We have a ton of pictures from that trip and they are all in a big book at home. My dad also lugged around this huge video camera to record our journey we took. We went to Germany, France, Switzerland, England, and Holland…I’d have to look at the pictures to remember more, but I think it was amazing that my parents would do such a big, long, and crazy trip and bring all the kids along too.
(l to r) Robbie, Grant, Diana, my mom (Sandy), my dad (Orrin), me, Jon, Michelle, and Hillary
Here’s a quick run-down of the family, oldest to youngest:

Michelle is the oldest in the family and the shortest. She is married to Shawn and they have three kids. Michelle attended BYU and majored in something like Exercise Science and could beat anybody at racquetball. Now that she is married, she continues to be very fitness oriented and runs half marathons every now and again…just for fun!

Diana is the most adventurous family member by far! She has traveled to many, many different countries while she has worked for Continental Airlines. While she attended BYU-Hawaii, she was captain of the Skydiving Club. She also was going to certify to become a skydiving instructor at one point in time. She is a very generous and thoughtful person; she is always the person to remember a birthday with sending a card or saying thank you with a funny note.

Grant is similar to Diana in that he is adventurous too. He enjoys writing short stories, canoeing, and fishing for various species of fish. Last year, he caught a Tiger Muskie which was about three feet long and had really sharp teeth! This fish looked like a monster! He plays in a band called The Gatsby’s and they do gigs at weddings and other parties.

Andrew-Here I am!

Jonathan-My little brother Jon is finishing up his Bachelor’s degree at BYU and is selecting which law school to attend to complete his education. He and his wife Diana have been married for just over a year. Jonathan is very musically inclined and is a really talented pianist. He is very witty and enjoys using puns with his large vocabulary. He served a mission in the Russia, Yekaterinburg Mission and is now very proficient in Russian.

Hillary is also at BYU and is a sophomore studying Linguistics. Last year she spent a few months in Italy brushing up on her Italian and learning how to make some amazing Italian cuisine. She is really good at volleyball and during her senior year of high school, we were able to watch her team win the State Championship. Hillary also plays the piano and is a very kind person.

Robbie is the youngest in the family and is currently a senior in high school. He is a smart guy and is taking some pretty intense classes at school. He really enjoys games that make you think, whether it be trivia games like Trivial Pursuit, or strategic games that take careful planning to win. He throws the shot-put and discus in track and field. Recently he finished his Eagle Scout project which consisted of trail conservation work and included building a bridge out of railroad ties.
(l to r) Jon, Michelle, Robbie, Hillary, me, Grant, and Diana

Brianna’s family

I was born in a small town called Centralia, Washington and lived there my entire life until I went to school at BYU. My parents still live there, but the rest of my family is spread out throughout parts of Washington, Idaho, Utah, and us in Colorado. We lived on a small farm and since very few of our neighbors were our age, my brothers and sisters played a lot with each other. We used to pretend we were the Boxcar Children and made up all sorts of activities. We would go exploring in the forest behind the house, play kick the can, or just have fun jumping on the trampoline, practicing our Olympic gymnastics routines.

Now, because we are so spread out, it is hard to all be able to get together as often…but it is so much fun when we do! We usually end up eating a lot (my mom is a great cook) and can sit and talk for hours about how our parents used to make us weed the garden for hours or funny things we used to do. There are nine children in my family, and here they are listed in order of age, with a little information about each one:

My family at Amity & Jeremy's wedding in May 2009
(l to r) Miranda, Austin, me, my mom (Barbara), Jeremy, Amity, my dad (Vernon), Jennifer, Vernon Lee, and Elyse (Shilo was in Argentina on his mission)

Jennifer-Jennifer is probably the smartest of all the siblings, she loves to save money by doing rebates, and got us all hooked on them, and she speaks Spanish. She is married to Jose and they have three children and they live in Washington.

Miranda-Miranda is fun, and busy, and growing up, she was the cool one with the most style (at least that is how we saw it; I doubt she would agree). Right now she started her own business with a friend and they design watch bands out of beads and stones. She is married to James and they have four children and they live in Idaho.

Vernon Lee-His name is Vernon and his middle name is Lee, but my dad’s name is also Vernon, so growing up, we always called him Vernon Lee…and it just stuck, although now, with others, he goes by Vernon. Vernon Lee loves animals of all kinds, especially draft horses. Most of us were in 4-H growing up, but he lasted the longest, did the most, and even joined FFA when he was in high school. He is married to Lisa and they live in Washington with their two children.

Austin-Austin is crazy…in a good way. He is just busy, and always seems to be on an adventure. He is married to Meg, and fortunately, she loves adventure as much as him. They always seem to be climbing a mountain, hiking, going canyoneering (hiking through canyons which also involves some extreme conditions of swimming through murky water, rappelling down rocks, and climbing over large boulders), tubing down rivers, or riding their tandem bike. Austin just started student teaching in a high school in Utah. Meg and Austin live in Utah.

Me-I am next in line, and I think there is enough about me already on this blog, so I am done.

Elyse-Elyse is also busy enjoying life in Utah. She loves music and movies. If I ever have a question about a movie or want to know which one I should watch, I go to Elyse. She loves dance parties (especially with all the nieces and nephews) with loud music. She loves holidays (especially Christmas) and she is very patriotic.

Colby-My brother Colby passed away when he was a little over six months old. He died from SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). I was only 3 ½ years old at the time, but I remember him a little, and he has always been a part of my life. I am so grateful for eternal families because I know I will see him again someday!

Amity-Amity is full of energy and is a real people person. She can talk to anyone (which she does) and respects everyone! She also loves those dance parties, likes to have adventures, loves to eat Peeps, and loves trucks…especially semi trucks. She is finishing up school at BYU-Idaho with her husband Jeremy.

Shilo-As I am typing this, Shilo is currently serving a mission for the LDS Church in Argentina…but he is returning home soon (on February 17). He now likes to speak Spanish, share the gospel, and eat, but I think when he returns he will go back to some other previous hobbies as well. He is a hard worker, enjoys playing the guitar, and going canyoneering. Because his three oldest siblings were girls, he put up with a lot of things when he was younger, but I think he has turned out okay.
Top: Jennifer
Middle (l to r): Elyse, Miranda, Amity
Bottom (l to r): Shilo, Austin, me, Vernon Lee


Super Bowl Sunday XLIV

We had a great Super Bowl Sunday...and we didn't even watch the game! Here is what our day consisted of:

-woke up

-went to church

-got some free potatoes (each one was about the size of a football)

-delivered potatoes to some friends

-relaxed, made dinner, and ate it

-read the newspaper, did a word search and some frame games in the USA Weekend

-talked to family on the phone

-ate some treats: wheat thins, veggies, and some delicious Muddy Buddies
-played Phase 10 dice

-called our diehard Colts fan friends (who we also gave potatoes to) and gave them a hard time

-wrote a blog post

What a day!


Large Cowboy for Sale

We have a Papa Murphy's pizza store in town and occasionally they advertise their specials on a bright florescent green board outside their store. You can't miss them. I drove by today and the sign said "Large Cowboy $9.99." Normally a sign like this wouldn't be worthy of a blog post (I’ve never even tried the Cowboy Pizza), but at that particular moment when I was reading the sign and from my exact vantage point in the car, I really saw a large cowboy! There was this guy wearing a big cowboy hat standing in the parking lot! It just made me laugh. It was one of those moments that you wish more people were there so you could all laugh at it, but since is was just me in the car I wanted to pass it along. It is small things like this that can put a smile on your face for the rest of the day.