Jul 30, 2008


One of the hardest parts of living away from family is missing major life events like sending off a missionary. I'm so happy that we had the means and opportunity to be here for Ryan this week.

I mentioned Ryan's farewell address a few days ago, but the real farewell happened early this morning at Sky Harbor Airport. The entire family congregated in terminal three to see our brother/son/uncle off as he boarded a plane to Salt Lake City. We met at the airport at 6:00 a.m.

No one got too emotional until it was really time to say good-bye. Even though we know Ryan is doing the best thing he could possibly do for the next two years, we will still miss him terribly! I anticipated that my boys, especially, would be traumatized by his departure. Just driving away from Mesa usually incites a major meltdown from the eldest of my sons, so I couldn't imagine Zach's reaction when faced with a two-year Uncle Leave of Absence. Thankfully, prayers were answered and the final farewell wasn't as crushing as anticipated.

I'm so grateful for a brother who is worthy and willing to serve the Lord as a missionary. I smile whenever I think of another Elder Dixon at the MTC.

Good luck, Elder Dixon! We love you!!

Eight months!

Once again, Gavin has hit a monthly milestone in Mesa. Last time we were here, Gavin was so tiny in comparison!

This month brought some new things to Gavin's world:
  • Four fully-formed teeth (boy, was that fun!)
  • Perfected crawling
  • The ability to pull himself up to standing position
  • The ability to cruise around furniture
  • A patented rock/dance to indicate contentment/happiness
  • The clingy phase
  • Interest in all things naughty: cupboards, stairs, cords, and outlets
  • Deteriorating sleeping habits
  • Reduction in nursing (including no night feedings)
  • Introduction to many fresh fruits, vegetables, and grains (favorites are bananas, blueberries, and Saltines)
  • A fourth hair cut
  • Being called The Gerber Baby by virtually everyone he meets
  • Swimming pools
  • His first sunburn
  • Visits to three states (with one to come tomorrow) and Zion National Park
Gavin is such a sweet little soul. We're so glad he is in our family.

Jul 28, 2008

Mesa Memories, Part 1

Oh, how we love our Arizona family! We're having such a fun time.

The boys and I have enjoyed a couple of pool excursions. The first, at Stapley Junior High, didn't allow cameras, so we'll just have to remember the boys' first diving board and water slide experiences and how Gavin was NOT impressed with the whole outing.

On Saturday we loved swimming at the pool in Angie's neighborhood.

Cousin time is one of the best perks of visiting Mesa. After church on Sunday Devlin and Eve borrowed Tyler's and Gavin's clothes to relax in. We were all amused that 2-year-old Eve could wear almost-eight-month-old Gavin's clothing.

Gavin wowed us with his ability to pull himself up to things and cruise around the furniture. He also discovered blueberries -- yum!

Holly delighted in showing off the amusing nature of Celebrity Morph with pictures of our family. She had a captive audience half the afternoon!

As per tradition, Garry and I visited Nielsen's Frozen Custard a couple of times. Gotta love that ice cream -- and the excellent company! My cousins Katie and Dylan were in town from Salt Lake City for a couple of days.

Eric provided excellent entertainment in his sleep.

And Ryan, our main attraction, gave a most excellent talk in sacrament meeting on Sunday. He bore a powerful witness of Joseph Smith, the Savior, and his desire to be a missionary. Ryan's address was known as his "mission farewell" because he reports to the Missionary Training Center on Wednesday to begin his mission to Croatia. We are so proud of Ryan! In the picture below, he is on the back row with the yellow tie.

We look forward to our last few days in Mesa. They are sure to be full of fun and adventures!

An amusing anecdote

Garry flew into Phoenix for the weekend. We enjoyed his presence immensely and it was hard to see him go home last night. I dropped him off at the airport around five. He called me ten minutes later, as I was driving back to my parents' house, to let me know he had checked in, gone through security, and was waiting at the gate. He planned to grab some dinner and settle in to wait for his 6:45 p.m. flight.

At 7:05, Garry called again. Noting the time, I answered his call by saying, "So you're a little delayed, eh?" He replied, "Yeah....something like that. I fell asleep in the boarding area and missed my flight."


Just a few minutes before the boarding process began for his flight, Garry had dozed off in his seat. He slept right through all of the boarding calls and the sounds of a hundred or more passengers filing past him through the door to the plane. No one bothered to tap him on the shoulder and ask if he needed to get on the plane. Apparently sitting five feet from the boarding zone for an hour and a half and having a suitcase sitting next to him didn't tip anyone off that he might want to be on that flight.

Garry woke up at 6:45, the scheduled time of departure. The plane was still parked at the gate, but the walkway from the terminal to the airplane had retracted. Garry hurriedly explained his situation to the attendant at the desk, but she said it was too late to board the plane. That flight was the last one to Colorado Springs that night, so he'd have to take the 8:45 a.m. flight on Monday. And, since his excuse for missing his scheduled flight was "so silly," the airline couldn't put him up for the night in a hotel. That wasn't exactly his biggest concern.

So I picked him up at Phoenix International and brought him home. We all enjoyed another evening together, and then Garry packed up and headed to the airport again this morning. Do you think he was the first person on the plane this time?

On the road again

On Thursday I began the "flying solo" portion of our journey. The boys and I left St. George at 9:30 a.m. and started driving toward Mesa, Arizona. That day turned out to be one of our best so far!

I opted to enter Arizona by way of Zion National Park. The route required a park entrance fee and a slow journey through the canyon, but both setbacks were totally worth it! My pictures of the canyon turned out really lame (I'm not convinced that the convenience of a tiny camera is worth sacrificing picture quality), but at least we documented our presence. I made the boys jump out of the car several times for photo opportunities, and we all marveled at the beauty of Zion Canyon. Wow. Those cliffs and mountains are just amazing! Zachary commented, "I've never been in this part of the world before!" He was equally impressed.

Just south of Page, Arizona, we had to stop in a construction zone. Traffic was literally at a standstill because one road was reduced to a single lane for both directions of traffic. My parents had warned me about the setback, so I was prepared to wait, and when a construction worker knocked on my window to tell me the wait would be 15-20 minutes, I turned off the car and let the boys run around and take a potty break in the bushes. I decided it was the perfect time to nurse Gavin.

The only problem was that the standstill lasted five minutes instead of 20. I was exactly half-way through nursing Gavin when the semi truck parked behind me blared his horn. A few seconds later, the car in front of me began to move!! Tyler was chasing a lizard and Zach was on the other side of an embankment and I was...not quite decent. Gavin cried in protest as I shoved him back in his seat, yelled for the big boys to come back, and ran around to the driver's seat. The road didn't have any shoulder to speak of, so I had to drive about ten miles before I could pull over and let Gavin finish his meal. That little episode definitely got the blood pumping!

I really enjoyed watching the landscape change from majestic red-rock mountains in Zion to the green forests of Flagstaff. Seeing the pine forests reminded me of Oregon.

A Love and Logic lecture I once listened to offered this advice: don't give away the ice cream. In other words, let your kids understand (and enjoy) a connection between treats and good behavior. Zach and Tyler definitely earned an ice cream reward by the time we got to Flagstaff. They were incredibly well behaved in the car that day. They also earned money towards a movie theater excursion next time a good G-rated flick is playing.

We pulled into my parent's Mesa driveway at 6:15 p.m., so our journey lasted exactly eight hours. We still had plenty of time to see and play with all the cousins and my siblings that night -- what a treat! We love spending time with family in Arizona.

Jul 25, 2008

The St. George Segment

We left Logandale, Nevada on Wednesday morning and spent the day in St. George, Utah (just an hour away). Grandma Bartle rode in the car with us.

Our first stop was a wildlife museum, which was populated with hundreds of taxidermically (yes, I made up that word) preserved animals. They were placed in natural habitats and in realistic poses. The boys loved looking through their binoculars and listening to an audio track that discussed the different animal groups.

Tyler's favorite part of the museum was the children's exploration room. He dressed up like he was on safari and imagined all sorts of adventures for himself. He played in the tree house and concocted recipes with this cooking equipment. He hid in the tent, too. Zach spent this time checking out giant bug specimens in the next room.

We enjoyed lunch at The Golden Corral with Grandma Great, and then Becky took Zachary and Tyler to a brand new recreation center in Washington. They had a fabulous time! The enormous pool with fountains and a water slide kept them entertained for a long time. On the way out, the boys tried climbing the indoor rock wall. Tyler made it all the way to the top of the 30-foot wall. Amazing!

That night I was thrilled to hook up with Krista, a great friend from Beaverton, who was vacationing with her family in St. George. She really rearranged her schedule to make our visit work, and I'm so grateful! We were so excited to see each other and spend the evening chatting that the only picture I took all evening was of Gavin eating a lime at Cafe Rio.

On Thursday morning it was time to go. We posed for a group picture first to commemorate our time together.

Then it was time to say good-bye. That part was kind of hard, especially for the grandma who took such good care of us that week.

Until next time....we love you!

Jul 22, 2008

The Logandale Leg

The boys and I are having a great time on our trip. Saturday, the travel day, was oh-so-long, but we survived. I had to take a nap in Grand Junction and we had a long layover in St. George for gas and groceries, so we finally arrived in Logandale at 11:30 p.m. after 17 1/2 hours on the road. Ugh!!

I did enjoy driving in a quiet, peaceful car. I talked to friends on the phone and listened to music (there wasn't a kid's song in the mix!). The scenery in western Colorado and southern Utah was beautiful.
Gavin was a peach. He was happy and slept a lot. The only exception was the 30 minutes before we reached Cedar City, Utah, when he screamed hysterically and would not be consoled. Every road trip has to have some of that.
Zach and Tyler rode in Grandma's car. I devised a reward system to make the journey more pleasant: the boys earned 50 cents for every half hour they behaved (or didn't get counted to 3, in "123 Magic" terms). They earned every cent possible. I know this was a hefty bribe, but it worked! I was especially amazed since we didn't bring the DVD players in the car.

The trip was, of course, interspersed with emergency roadside stops as seen below. I'm so glad I have boys!!Here are a few pictures from the Logandale portion of our journey:

The trampoline, of course.

Riding the lawnmower (Tyler's very first request).

Becky revisiting the scene of my infamous lawnmower-in-a-ditch accident.
Visiting the Conger family..........and their new kittens.
Doing an impromptu grandson photo shoot.And finally -- swimming at the Reese's house.
We all spent hours in the refreshingly cool water. Gavin loved this little floatation device, which allowed him to walk around in the shallow water on the step. He had a blast!Zachary is totally independent in the water. He and Tyler had fun with all the cousins (the children of Garry's cousins, actually).Tyler surprised me with his swimming skills -- he was independent, too! He had such a great time swimming around in the deep end with the big boys and, of course, jumping in whenever he could!
I have enjoyed a couple of naps, some solo exercise, and just hanging out with Becky and the boys. Tomorrow we are off to St. George for the day, and then we'll trek on to Arizona! It's hot, hot, hot, but we're having fun.

Jul 18, 2008

We're going on a trip... our favorite rocket ship, zooming through the sky...

Don't I wish.

You mommies out there will probably recognize the Little Einsteins jingle I just quoted. You mommies will also be able to commiserate with me when I tell you that I am hitting the road at six a.m. with three little boys in a minivan rather than a rocket.

Our minivan is heading to Logandale, Nevada tomorrow. Then to St. George, Utah. Then to Mesa, Arizona. Then to Albuquerque, New Mexico. Then back to Colorado Springs, Colorado. If you're counting miles, that's a little over 2,000.

Why, you ask, am I traveling by myself with three crazy boys in the middle of the summer to the Hottest Places on Earth?

Because I love my family. And I can't wait to spend time with them.

The boys haven't been to Logandale for 16 months and I know they'll love it there (if we don't melt). For Gavin, this trip will be a first. I'll get to see a dear Oregon friend in the middle of our journey, and then wish my brother well before he starts his two-year mission for our church. I'll get to see nieces and nephews, hug my sisters, rub a pregnant belly (if Rachel lets me), and see my newly skinny brother.

So, bring on the 115-degree heat, nine a.m. popsicles, and public pools. We're all about Grandma's trampoline and Granny's play room.

There's no place like home except Grandma's.

Our first hand-me-down

This is our new couch. We got it for free from a lady who lives in our ward. She needed to get rid of it and we needed something to sit on upstairs, so the arrangement was perfect! I think it's funny that after ten years of marriage, three apartments, and two houses, we have just acquired our first hand-me-down piece of furniture. I'm sure glad to have it! anybody dying to get rid of a rug (or some curtains, or an end table, or a lamp....)?

What can the matter be?

Dearest Gavin,

You are usually such a sweet, happy, adorable little boy. I have been so grateful for your calm and content nature. You have been an absolute gem the last two months, which is more than I could ever ask for.

So what is going on now? You won't sleep. You won't eat. You are sad so very often and inconsolable at times. The doctor checked your ears, your throat, your mouth, your tummy, and even your urine and came up with nothing! Your visiting grandparents want to love you and play with you, but you are only happy in my arms.

It's so hard to see you out of sorts like this! I think we're both ready for a good night's sleep, too. Hopefully we can figure out something today, since tomorrow starts our Very Long Drive and it would be awfully tough to have you crying in the car for 800 miles.

Let me know what I can do for you, baby!



Jul 16, 2008

From Zachary's Perspective

Granny, Gramps, Holly, and Ryan had a working vacation while they were here this weekend. Gramps was nice enough to say he was "earning his keep," but in reality all four of them worked their guts out in the yard, with the kids, and in our house. What an amazing family! Thanks for all of your hard work!

Before we dove in to projects Monday morning, this was the status:

By 3:00 p.m., this was the new-and-improved status:

Yes, we moved 15.7 TONS of pea gravel that day. Gramps and Garry added the swing arm and rock wall portions of the play structure, as well.

Granny purchased and planted these lovely flowers! I absolutely LOVE having some color in the planter. The flowers make me happy every time I see them.

Yard renovations and play set construction are tiresome and tedious for the adults, but these chores aren't necessarily fun for the kids, either. Zach and Ty are getting a little impatient with all the waiting around they have to do while the grown-ups work. On Monday Zachary got a hold of my camera and snapped some pictures of the action, so I thought it would be fun to post his perspective of the job. I'll add my own captions to describe what's going on...

Holly & Granny trying to figure out how to level the pea gravel.

One of a million zillion wheelbarrows being dumped.

A fabulous self-portrait.

Uncle Ryan hard at work.

Tyler pretending to be a frog.

Monday's hot, hot sun.

Ryan dumping some gravel out of his shoe.

My parents, Ryan, and I relaxing in the glorious shade.

Workhorse Ryan pausing for a photo op. Zach kept asking why Ryan had water dripping off his nose.

I'm a few days behind on posting updates. There's definitely more to come! Garry's parents and grandma arrived Monday night, and my family left Tuesday morning. (As a side note, it's so fun to have a house big enough to sleep so many people!) Garry's family has been hard at work, as well, so we might have a finished product on our hands one of these days.

pass it on!

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