Friday, December 4, 2020

Extra, extra...

Lately I've been wondering if we've been doing a good enough job letting potential birth parents see the things that make us unique and different. So last week I asked our Adoption Army these questions:

"When you think of our family, what stands out the most to you? What makes us different and unique that potential birth parents should know about? What do you think would make them choose our family over all the others they’ve seen?"

I got a lot of answers, because our Adoption Army is amazing!! If you'd like to see the whole post, you can go here. But a few things were repeated several times, so I figured we'd highlight those.

CARDBOARD CREATIONS

Brian has always been super creative. Ever since he was a kid he could take a few cardboard boxes and some masking tape and make something amazing out of it. He has made pinball machines, castles, dragons, a fireplace, bookshelves, caves, and vehicles. He is constantly making things for Daniel, which is so fantastic because Daniel has a giant imagination! Here are a few pictures that I could find of things he has made:

A cardboard castle Brian made for my little brother 18 years ago.

A more intricate castle for my little brother on another visit. 
 
A garbage truck Brian made for Daniel. I love that Daniel added couch pillows for wheels!

Another garbage truck that two could ride in!

This is a fire truck Brian made for Daniel for Halloween to go with his Fire Chief costume - it had a ladder and an ax and flashing lights - the kid was in heaven!

We eventually moved it downstairs where Daniel added more lights and drawings to it.

Brian made an alligator suit for Daniel so he could sneak up on us and scare us.

Daniel really wanted a fire-breathing dragon in our yard for Halloween the year he dressed up as a Maleficent dragon, so Brian obliged. The dragon later turned into Rudolph for Christmas until a neighbor dressed as the Grinch came and tossed Rudolph down the window well - lol!

Brian and Daniel built this one weekend when I was on a girls' trip. Daniel dubbed it "The Castle of Two Dragons".

This was another creation that was made while I was out of town. Daniel called this one "The Cave of the Three Bears" and it stayed around longer than any other creation to date. We even put a little TV in there so Daniel would curl up with snacks and a blanket and watch shows or color or play in it.

This was an ambulance that Brian built for Daniel! You can see there's even a windshield. There was also a steering wheel and pedals. It was pretty epic.

This is Sheriff Daniel's jail cell. It's the most recent cardboard creation and is still standing.

HALLOWEEN YARD DECORATIONS

The neighborhood is always talking about what Brian, and now Brian and Daniel, have done to our front yard for Halloween. Brian has always been a big Halloween fan, and Daniel loves building and decorating as much as Brian does! Here are a few things Brian/Brian and Daniel have done:

MAD SCIENTIST'S LAB



CREEPY CLOWN CARNIVAL



UFO CRASH SITE (yep, the UFO is made out of cardboard!)





GHOST GRAVEYARD





MUTANT SPIDER





PIRATE GRAVEYARD





JURASSIC LABORATORY




SPIDER INFESTATION



CHOCOLATE FACTORY (that's right, cardboard for the win again!)




TRAVEL

Brian has been self-employed for almost our entire married life. I have worked with him for almost all of our married life, although my involvement has been minimal since Daniel came and I became a full-time mom. But before Daniel, Brian and I were together 24/7. Our work took us all over the world. And, when you're self-employed, it's really easy to get time off so we also had the ability to find a good price on a fun getaway and just get up and go! All that time and traveling together helped us build a strong relationship that is unique in many ways. We not only love each other, we really *like* each other, too. There's no one we'd rather hang out with, travel with, and have adventures with than each other.

Here are pictures of some of the trips we took BD (before Daniel).


We went on a cruise for our honeymoon and fell in love with cruising!

Disney World's Animal Kingdom

Hawaiian cruise for our 5th anniversary!

An Alaskan cruise - we love cruising to Alaska!

On a glacier, not all terrified of the giant hole behind us!

Ephesus, Turkey

Rome, Italy

Olympia, Greece

Athens, Greece

Cairo, Egypt

The Sphinx

Riding camels in the Egyptian desert

Mayan ruins in Mexico

Forbidden City, Beijing, China

The Great Wall of China

Rio De Janeiro, Brazil

Christ the Redeemer, Rio De Janiero

Tivoli Gardens, Copenhagen, Denmark

Little Mermaid Statue, Copenhagen, Denmark

Scotland

Ireland, Blarney Castle - to kiss the Blarney Stone

Irish pub in Dublin

Normandy Beach, France

London, England

After Daniel arrived, our traveling slowed down, but it didn't stop! Daniel has flown all over the US and has cruised outside of it several times. We go to SeaWorld San Diego at least once a year, we travel to the East Coast and Midwest to see family at least once a year, and we love to go to DisneyWorld and on cruises all over! We were going to go back to Brazil, Alaska, and Hawaii in 2020, but of course those plans were delayed. We love the beach and are missing it so much this year!  Here are some pictures of the travel we've done with Daniel:





















TRADITIONS

We are pretty big on traditions in our family. Brian and I each have treasured memories of family traditions from the families we grew up in, and we've incorporated a lot of those into our little family, plus made some new ones of our very own. A lot of them surround various holidays or seasons, like Brian makes me a gold ornament that symbolizes the year that has just passed and he started that on our very first Christmas together. But some of them are just ours. Like Juice Cap Day, which is the 24th of each month. That's a day that Brian and I celebrate our marriage/friendship/love - basically a guaranteed date day.

Here are a few examples I have pictures for:

HALLOWEEN

The black cat comes with donuts on its tail and we have pumpkin shaped pizza and brain jello for lunch and a big pot of chili for dinner!








 


THE FIRST SNOW

On the day that we get the first snowfall of the season, Daniel and I make "snowball" cookies.





THANKSGIVING

The main tradition for Thanksgiving is that we never do the same thing twice. We have been to Golden Corral alone and with family, we've had Thanksgiving with friends, we've traveled to be with family, one time we had Thanksgiving in the middle of Medditeranean Sea, and last year we celebrated Thanksgiving at Sea World! But the main thing is that we're always together - and we always make these candy turkeys.




CHRISTMAS - TREE DECORATING PARTY

We always have a party when we decorate our tree! And we always have mint brownies, Chex mix, punch, a cheese ball, mint M&M's, Seliger dip, eggnog, and popcorn. Then we put on Christmas music and put the ornaments on the tree. After all the ornaments are on, we put our angel at the top - her name is Angie and she has her own song. Then we throw snow on the tree, turn out the lights, and admire our handiwork.







SUGAR COOKIES AND THE SANTA CLAUS

We always bake and decorate sugar cookies when we are close to Christmas Eve. Then we watch the Santa Claus and eat a couple of our cookies with hot chocolate. But we always save our best cookies for Santa.





EASTER

We're pretty traditional about Easter. But Brian and I both made baskets for each other every year before Daniel came along. Dying eggs and making baskets got a lot more fun once we had a little guy to help us! We also make empty tomb rolls for Easter morning breakfast and the Easter Bunny always brings Rice Krispy treat eggs and a pop-up book for Brian.







THE 4th OF JULY

We always make homemade ice cream, BBQ burgers, and set off fireworks with friends - then we sit back and watch the amazing firework show our neighborhood puts on!!








CHRISTMAS - ORNAMENTS

Brian started making me a gold ornament for our tree the first Christmas we were married. One year he even made me two. That year deserved two. Here are pictures of all the ornaments he's made me over the years. My favorites are the dog bone, the alphabet block, and the Thing 1 & Thing 2.













BYU FOOTBALL

Brian and I met at BYU when we were both freshmen. We love BYU and we love BYU football! We try to go to every home game and at least one away game each season. Every game day, we get our BYU flag out and sing the fight song while Daniel runs with the flag then we fly it high! 





JUICE CAP DAY

On November 24, 1998, Brian and I were both on campus at BYU. It was the last day of class before Thanksgiving break. We had just met on a double-blind date the week before. I was leaving that day to go to Arizona to be with my family for Thanksgiving, but I had one last test I needed to take, so off I went to the testing center. As I was walking there, I passed Brian, walking in the other direction. I hadn't seen him since the date the week before, and I was happy to see him, so I waved and said, "Hi, Brian!" He did a finger-gun point at me and a little wink, but no words. "Well," I thought, "I guess that's that - he didn't even remember my name!"

When I came back from break, he tracked me down and apologized for not saying anything. His excuse? He said he had just finished drinking an orange juice and he had thrown away the bottle but had put the cap in his mouth and didn't want to spit it out. Hence the finger-point wink encounter. I didn't believe him at first, but he managed to convince me and we set up a time to get together and hang out. He later told me that if it weren't for that juice cap in his mouth, he probably wouldn't have sought me out so urgently. So we give thanks for juice caps and meet cutes and happily-ever-afters. And it just so happens that many significant events in our life together have happened on the 24th day of the month. We had our first kiss on February 24th, we were married on April 24th, and we started (and later sold!) our first company on June 24th. And that's why we celebrate Juice Cap day on the 24th of every month!













A few random things:
  • We have a pretty solid bedtime routine for Daniel and an affirmation we say to him nightly - "You are good and kind and smart and strong and brave and patient and creative and truthful and loved. You are a child of God. You are important and special. And I love you to eternity and back!"
  • Brian and I always celebrate the Christmas Eve Juice Cap Day with Martinelli's sparkling cider because on our very first Christmas together we got stuck in a giant snowstorm on our way to my family's. We ended up at a Courtyard by Marriot and they were so kind to us and so generous. They fed us dinner (they had just had their holiday party), they upgraded our room, they sent us a bottle of Martinelli's and some plastic champagne glasses, and they gave us a card with a free night's stay at any Marriot hotel. What could have been such a sad event turned into an amazing memory that we still honor to this day.
  • We have a wall that has a bunch of black and white pictures of us on our various travels hanging on it. Whenever we get to go to one of those places with Daniel, we trade out the black and white picture of the two of us for a color picture of us with Daniel there.
  • I always sing "Angel Lullaby" to Daniel at bedtime. I'll usually add a few more, but Angel Lullaby is always the first.
  • We don't celebrate Valentine's day because we celebrate our first kiss Juice Cap day instead. But to mark the day, we always go to the store and pick out a card for each other, then take a picture of it and put it back. The day after, I always like to check out the half-price chocolate!
  • On St. Patrick's Day I make green pancakes for breakfast and we always eat corned beef and cabbage and potatoes. 
  • We have a pass to our local pool and every summer, at least once a week, all three of us go to the pool together. We pack a bunch of snacks and stay for hours. Then we pick up a light-sauced pineapple pizza and crazy bread (Daniel's favorite) and head home to watch a movie while we eat.