Monday, December 21, 2009

The Annual Christmas Newsletter

So Christmas somehow really snuck up on me this year and caught me off guard – in spite of thinking I was ready, I’m nowhere close.  And now it’s only three days away and I’m fighting a particularly NASTY cold – so I don’t think much more is going to get done.  But having directed everyone to this blog for more news on our family from the past year, I thought it might be best to post the family newsletter here instead!

2009 has been the “Year of Adventure” for our family (how fitting that our favorite movie this year was “UP”).  The year started off with my big trip to St Thomas, US Virgin Islands!! The Little Mermaid A FANTASTIC week reconnecting with old friends without kids or husbands was just what the doctor ordered! 

A week later, we took a nice little family vacation to Phoenix during Spring Break – actually booked a hotel and stayed the night in order to do some of the things that we just don’t have time for in a day trip.  We visited the World Wildlife Zoo and Aquarium out in Avondale (I think – it’s WAAY West Valley…)  which was really fun – and also did a little light shopping and swimming and just relaxed and had a good time.SANY0163

Summer brought two big adventures.  First, Randall decided it was time to upgrade the truck he’d been driving as an owner operator for the prior nine months.  It was a great starter truck, but after factoring in the tremendous amount of maintenance it required, it made more sense to put that money into payments on something newer and more dependable.  Hence our – hopefully – pot of gold at the end of the rainbow!SANY0514

Second was our big trip to finally visit Randall’s Sister Kathy and her family in Lake Oswego, Oregon.  (She’s only been there for like 12 years…)  What a great time we had there – seeing Portland, Eugene, Tillamook, and of course Mt. Hood!  SANY0691 (3) But best of all was getting to spend some time with Kathy and Randy with some visits with Christopher and Heather and getting to meet their significant others, Nicole and Al, as well.  We promise not to let so much time pass before our next visit Kathy!

Dallin started second grade in the fall – and is doing rather well.  He still seems to be a little chatterbox, but is doing much better at getting all of his “seat work” done on time.  He played soccer this fall, and his team did quite well.  They were 6-3 and at the end of the season were awarded the “Sportsmanship Award” for their age division.  Really a fantastic experience for Dallin this season.  I think we may have a sporting gene after all… ha ha!  (This is wearing Naani’s sunglasses at one of his games.)856826-R1-00-1A


October brought Fall Break, and we took our trip with two other Globe Families to the “Holy Land of AZ” – Sedona, Flagstaff and the Grand Canyon.  We packed quite a bit into those three days.  For more details on that trip, see below!SANY1004

Finally, Randall and I decided that this year, rather than spending money on Christmas Gifts that the kids will enjoy for a small time, then get set aside and outgrown (i.e. somewhat wasted…) we’d put the money into something fun instead.  Growing up in San Diego, Randall and his family made many visits to Disneyland, but somehow, Randall had never been there during the holiday season!  SO…

New Pictures 095 That’s where we spent our Christmas money instead!  It was an exhausting, fun filled three days.  Somehow hectic and relaxing at the same time!  And (we hope) one of the Christmas presents that will be remembered for years to come.  (I think we’re already on our way to that.  Just yesterday, Dallin said to me, “That was the BEST Christmas present EVER!!”)

We truly hope that this year has been as exciting and full of love as ours has!  We pray that the coming year brings continued blessings and love to us all!

Merry Christmas with love,

Randall, Amy, Dallin, Emory, and Timmy the cat!

Only Two weeks late…

But here it is:

Happy Birthday Emory!!!

It’s so hard to believe my baby is already 2 years old!  Time flies so fast!!PICT2200  This was then…

and this is now!

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I still say that she’s like the little girl in the old poem – when she was good, she was very very good, but when she was bad… well… you get the idea!  It’s so fun to see her just exploding with new things every day – she’s at that stage where she says something new and cute every time I turn around.  She loves her big brother, “Dawwa”  and lights up when Daddy comes in the room.  She loves her Naani (my mom) and Papa and Baba (Papa is my dad, Baba is Randall’s).  She’s discovered the word, “NO!” and uses it frequently, but also says I love you with “I you” or “you too.”  Her favorite things are Elmo, Mickey or Minnie Mouse and Winnie the Pooh.  We’re so happy to have our “Buggaboo"!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

A “Grand” Adventure!

***Note: After finishing this, I realized that it’s a really long post!  If you don’t want a play by play of the whole trip, just enjoy the pics – but do be sure to read about the time at the Grand Canyon.  It'll be worth your while!***

Globe Schools had their Fall break Oct 12-16, and with funds and time off for Randall being a little tight right now, but still wanting to do something memorable with the kids, Randall and I decided it’s time to make a trip to the Holy Land – Northern AZ!  Just to make it extra memorable and fun, we invited two other families from Globe – the Voelkers and the Hudsons.  Randall joked by saying that we needed a Police Escort!  (Dan is an officer with DPS and Brian is a K9 officer with Globe PD…)  Made sense to me!

We started with Sedona.  (I didn’t think I’d ever been there, but when we came home, my mom informed me that I had… oops…)

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From there, it was on to Oak Creek Canyon and Slide Rock State Park.  Dallin and Randall kept saying, “Are we back in Oregon?”  Talk about beautiful scenery!!  The trees overhang the roads and with the fall colors they were just GORGEOUS!  Slide Rock was FUN!  When we got there, the ranger said that the water was about 55 degrees, so we figured we’d just try it and see.  It was definitely COLD, but the kids handled it better than they did with swimming lessons… How?  I don’t know…  I realized tht most of my pics there were of Voelkers sliding through the creek. We Gordons were a little skittish with the cold, fast water.  Dallin did go once, but after screaming so much that he had to be pulled out by a random stranger, he promptly informed me that he “almost drowned…”  We really enjoyed ourselves too though – a beautiful place!  I can’t recommend it highly enough!


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After that, we met up with the Hudsons in Flagstaff, had a nice dinner (at IHOP – kids ate free from 4-10 – woo hoo!) hung out in the jacuzzi for a bit, then went to bed.  We stared off the next morning with a great breakfast at Kristin’s favorite place, Galaxy Diner – I’d highly recommend it now as well!  Good stuff!  Then on to the Lava Flow Cave – which I’d never even heard of before that.  It was a little too sketchy to be able to take Emory in (lots of rock climbing in the complete dark… flashlights only), so I stayed outside with Cecilie Hudson and Emory while Randall went down with Dallin.  They were the first to come back, followed a little bit later by  Brian and his youngest, Breanne.  Her feet were hurting.  Everyone came back up saying that it was a great time down there.  We all enjoyed seeing another of AZ’s fantastic holes!


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From the cave, we went on to the biggest hole of all -  The Grand Canyon! Parking at the first lookout was scarce, so we drove on to the next one…

And what a View!!


The last time I was at the Grand Canyon was when I was 10 – and at the time I remember thinking, “wow, it’s pretty, but what’s the big deal…” Well, Big Deal indeed!!  Such a different experience as an adult!!  It just goes on and on!


Now, I also have to clarify that I discovered about 3 years ago that I’m somewhat acrophobic – didn’t know I was afraid of heights before then!  The Grand Canyon with 10 children was a little stressful.  We instituted the “Spank Zone” (Dan’s idea – he was as freaked out about it as I was… real honest-to-goodness anxiety…)  That was the canyon side of the path.  Nothing but a 24 inch rock wall, and that’s only in the places that you might actually fall off the path.  Most places didn’t even have that!  (Apparently, people die there every year.  Last year, I remember on the news about a 4 yr old little girl… *shudder*… it was all I could think about while we were there… Emory never left the stroller until we were safely away from the path.)


So we walked the path for a mile or so, enjoying the sights, then decided to go on to the area where all the old lodges and hotels are. 


On the way there, we ran into a big herd of deer with two bucks.  One of them was rather huge!  Really cool!  It was getting close to sunset, so we went up the path to watch the sun go down over the canyon.


The colors that were so pretty before were really VIBRANT in the setting sun – a truly unforgettable experience!


Going… Going… and then it was gone.

We were in front of the historic El Tovar Lodge, so we sat on the porch and just relaxed and enjoyed the colors that were left behind by the setting sun.  As fun and exciting and really cool as the rest of the trip was – this was BY FAR the best part of the trip.  Brian asked each of us what our favorite part of the day was, and without hearing each other’s answers, we all said “sitting on the porch of the lodge!”  He just nodded.

So after dinner in Flagstaff, the Voelkers and the Hudsons drove straight home, and the Gordons went back to the hotel for one more night.  The rest of our stay just consisted of brunch, and looking at homes in Flagstaff – one of our favorite pastimes.
But this wasn’t quite the end of our trip.  The next day in church, we found out just why Brian nodded so enigmatically when we answered his question about the best part of the day.  He was speaking in Sacrament Meeting!  And I’ll do my best to paraphrase his talk.
He said that our trip to the Grand Canyon was similar to another journey in the Book of Mormon.  There was a path that was clearly marked that would allow us to safely reach our destination – the lodge.  There were lots of distractions along the way – a herd of deer, bighorn sheep, a chipmunk that the kids tried to chase.  There were also people we saw along the way that chose not to stay on the path.  (One guy was sitting – literally! – on a tiny ledge with a 500 ft drop underneath him, his legs swinging in the breeze!)  Why?  The view from that ledge wasn’t any better than our view from the path!  There were a few “casualties” to the Spank Zone, painful reminders to stay where it was safest.  But at the end of the day, we were surrounded by friends and family in a beautiful place with an incredible view, able to enjoy the fruits of our day’s labor.  What more could we want?  And after all that we go through – isn’t that what we really want out of this life? 
I have to say… Brian made an already incredible trip just that much more memorable to me.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

A Week of Firsts

In spite of being sick this week, both our kids had some big “first”
milestones.  Emory’s hair has been getting really long, but has so many crazy layers, that it really looked more straggly than anything.  So after a few weeks of debating, Randall took Emory in for her first “real” haircut.  (I didn’t count the little bang trim I gave her last June – it was barely a trim…)  She wouldn’t let me get a real “Before” picture, so here’s one from a few weeks ago:


And here’s my baby now:


We went with the “Suri Cruise” bob.  It was the best way to explain what it was we were looking for.  She loves it – and so do I!

As for Dallin – about two weeks ago, he was complaining about his tooth hurting.  It turned out that it was a little loose, so I figured that it must have something to do with that.  Well, two days later, he yawned at breakfast, and I realized why it must be hurting.  The permanent tooth was coming up behind it.  The dentist said it didn’t need to be pulled, and that it was fine if it came out on its own.  So today at Dallin’s soccer game, just as he ran out to play goalie, he comes running back and says, “Here Mommy…” and hands me… yep – his tooth!!


So the Tooth Fairy is FINALLY going to be making a visit to the Gordon Household!!  Yay!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

A Good Day for the Machula Family!

Thursday was a day of lots of blessings for our family!  First, Laurie had her baby – Arianne Mckelle.  She arrived at 1:10 in the morning, and was 7lbs 11oz and 21 inches.  She’s GORGEOUS!!  (I’m not happy to have another niece or anything… tee hee!)



She looks a lot like her brother, Michael – and has her Great Grandma Machula’s nose!

Second – Dad had his follow up appointment for the radiation treatments.  All is well!  The Dr. said that the numbers are going down just as they expected, and that they should continue to do so.  He’ll have another visit in six months to monitor that they are continuing to go down – but for now, this is the news we wanted to hear!!:)

Sunday, September 20, 2009

It’s FAIR time!!!


Several years ago, Randall and I took Dallin to the Gila County Fair (this was before Emory was born), and were shockingly disappointed. There were hardly ANY exhibits – the hall was practically empty – except for basically the school and 4H stuff, there would have hardly been anything to see. We resolved that we’d always try to enter things in the fair from then on – if nothing else than to make sure that there were at least a few things to look at. Apparently lots of people resolved the same thing, because it’s been a great show since then!

We took a few years off, but we were back on track this year. Randall and Dallin entered some collections (Dallin’s Star Wars toys and Randall’s hot air balloon stuff), I took a few pictures (including the one Laurie’s husband, Matt, took of Dallin holding the rainbow) and baked my spiderweb Halloween cookies. Randall also convinced me at the last minute to enter the Prickly Pear Jelly (see previous post for more about the jelly).

Jeannette Voelker and I went out on Wednesday to volunteer to help for judging day. We were delighted to find out that we were going to be helping in the food entries – especially so, because as it turned out, after the judges taste each item, they allow the volunteers to taste them as well! AND imagine my surprise when the judges awarded Best of Show in the cookies and the jellies to MY entries!! That just made it extra fun! I’m already thinking about what to enter for next year!

Dallin Showing off his and Daddy’s Collections (Randall recieved a 2nd place, Dallin a 3rd):


Dallin with the pic of himself:


My spiderweb cookies before delivering them:


Here’s a better view of the pictures we entered:

Flowers in St. Thomas – Participation


Mt. Hood, Oregon – Third Place:


Matt’s pic of Dallin – First Place


Tuesday, September 15, 2009

A Prickly Adventure


For years, I have looked at the lovely prickly pear fruits that come out on the cactus this time of year and thought, “Someday I need to learn to make jelly out of those…” So a few weeks ago, I decided that I’d just jump in and learn by experience!

I made myself an "expert" by reading about it on the internet. (Why it didn't occur to me to ask people that I knew make it, I'm not sure...) So after I picked up Dallin from school that Friday, we went out and picked a peck of prickly pears. We used heavy gloves and tongs of course – no prickles for us, thanks!




Then we took them home and burned all the prickles off with the gas stove. This took well over an hour, since we went a little crazy with the picking. Later, a friend of mine said that when they would make it, they’d use a weed burner before they picked them to burn off the pokies. Yeah, that would have made it easier…


Next, I put them all into my biggest pots and boiled them for about 15 minutes. Then you mash them like masked potatoes and strain the seeds and pulp and any possible stray prickles through cheesecloth. (Didn’t get any pics of the straining. Sorry…) After which I was left with about 18 cups of lovely prickly pear juice!


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At this point, I had to take a break for about two weeks due to a round of Flu (we think it was probably the dreaded swine flu…) my son so lovingly brought home from school and shared with us…

But then it was time to make the jelly –SANY0783 and that was about the same as you would do to make any other jelly. Boil the juice with sugar and pectin, bottle it, and seal in a water bath. Voila! Lovely homemade prickly pear jelly! I hope this lovely story has inspired you to look in your own yards or areas and try some little crazy ideas yourselves!


Sunday, August 23, 2009

Way to go, Parky!

My Uncle Parky (Orville Baird) is my dad's brother from his mother's first marriage. Her first husband died of heart failure when Parky was quite young. While he was out fishing one day he met a nice man named Herman and invited him home for dinner. Herman became my grandfather. Parky was about 10 when my dad was born. Dad remembers him as always being a "real AZ cowboy." A neat guy - an incredible artist, and a heck of a banjo player to boot. Sadly, with the real "cowboy" roughness came the smoking and drinking. When he'd finish one, he'd start another, and back again. This was his way of life until a year or so ago. Uncle Parky quit smoking - after 55+ years! And then last year, he quit drinking too. So imagine our delight when last Friday...

He recieved his endowments and he and his wife were sealed in the Snowflake Temple!

Don't ever give up on someone!! Dad knew that he always had a testimony. We always hoped and prayed - loving him just as he was all the while. Don't ever let someone tell you, "it's too late for me - you can't teach an old dog..." blah blah!! Uncle Parky will be 72 (!) on Sept 10th. I can assure you, if he can do it - anyone can!!

Parky in '05:

Parky last Friday (next to Dad) with his wife, Sue, Uncle Myron and a Solomon cousin - with his wife:) - on the right

Just for fun - here's a video of Dad and Parky playing Tennessee Waltz in Oct '05 (some wind noise is in the background...)