Saturday, November 29, 2014

Utah Living

Bonjour Bloggers! It's Megan.  Happy Holidays to all! As most of you know, I am now living in Utah. I was always that person who swore up and down I would never become "one of those Utah'ns" and yet..... here I am. All in all it hasn't been as bad as I thought!

I am a transfer student to Utah Valley University, a school I had never even heard of until this past April, and let's just say, it has been an answer to my prayers. After EAC, as much as I loved being there, I really needed a new adventure. Something I had never done before. So I picked living in a big city all by myself, in an area that is notoriously snowy and freezing cold.

I am living with three other girls, all fresh out of high school and living on their own for the first time. That has definitely been an experience for me. For the first time, I am the oldest and wisest in my home. They have started calling me Mama Megan, because I am always cleaning or helping them with homework, or all sorts of motherly activities. But I love these girls, and we have a lot of fun together.

At EAC I got my Associates Degree in Elementary Education so when I got to UVU I kept going with that. But about half way through the semester it just wasn't very fun and I wasn't really feeling a passion for it anymore so I switched to Secondary Education with an emphasis in Theater. I am so excited for my new path!!! Being a theater teacher is what I have always wanted to do, but I didn't really have the confidence to pursue it. Now with the support of my loving and wonderful family and friends, I am off! :)

Overall life is grand. Adjusting to not living in Arizona with my family has been hard, but with the beauty of modern day technology we are able to stay in constant communication. And hey, if anyone reading this ever ends up in Utah, let me know! It's always fun to see familiar faces!

Hope everyone stays safe and happy and healthy this season! FĂ©liz Navidad!

Life is Good

This is Cameron.  Freshman year has been grand so far! I am taking choir this year and I really love it. I had the chance to accompany my choir on a song called Dona Nobis. It was really pretty and my first time playing on a big stage like DV's with a full choir.

I am also really diggin' piano. My mom told me that I can sight read really well. I like being able to sit down and play any song. Its fun! I also am self-teaching myself how to fake book. Fake Booking is where you take a simple piece of music and you sort of improvise your way through the song. It's really fun!

Lately, I have been on a photography kick. I have used all my friends as models and even some of my Young Women's leader's kids. I also enjoy bugging my parents and make them model for me too!  For more pictures check out my blog:

Monday, November 17, 2014

Catching up for Fall

We have not posted much this fall, but since this blog kind of serves as our Family Christmas Letter, we wanted to catch everyone up on the latest Gardner happenings.

Mike and Trish headed back to Jamaica this summer.  It was another lovely visit to our favorite place to go. 

In July, we took a family cruise to the Eastern Caribbean.  We stayed one night in Miami and then headed out for St. Maarten, St. Kitts, Puerto Rico and Grand Turk. 

Cameron's 14th birthday was the day we were in St. Maarten.  We went to Maho Beach on the Dutch side where the planes fly very low overhead, and then up to Orient Beach on the French side.

 We took a Catamaran trip in St. Kitts and did some fun snorkeling.  Puerto Rico was beautiful and we explored the city and one of the Forts.  Cameron took some beautiful pictures.  We went scuba diving as a family in Grand Turk and snorkeled with sharks.  All in all a great family trip!

The end of July brought the beginning of Ryan's mission.  We drove him up to the MTC in Provo, UT.  It was very difficult watching him walk away, but his cousin, Calvin, was waiting inside the MTC to greet him, and Ryan hasn't missed us since. 

He arrived in Russia October 1, and is loving every minute.  We put his letters on a mission blog if you want to read them.

Megan left to go up to Utah Valley University in Orem.  She has quite a few friends from EAC and some close cousins in the Provo/Orem area, so she's had people to hang out with in between studying.  We've missed having her be able to come home on weekends like she could while at EAC.   Cameron flew up and stayed with Megan for a long weekend.  Both girls had a blast.   All of us are looking forward to Thanksgiving.  Megan will fly home for a few days to spend the holiday.

Cameron is in her Freshman year at Desert Vista High School.  We were very proud to have her accompany her choir on the piano for one number in their fall concert.  She is taking Spanish, and enjoys knowing more espanol than her mom and dad.  She loves to craft, play the piano, take photos and plan parties!

Trish is still teaching in the school library!  It's a great job.  Mike is enjoying another year as a partner in the #1 Lobbying Firm in Arizona. 

We hope this holiday season finds each of you happy, and healthy!  We think of you all frequently.  Social media has made it easier to keep in touch with many of you, and we are grateful. 

All our love,  The Gardners

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Howdy y'all, It's Ryan here. This is going to be my last blog post on this blog for a while (2 years)! This summer I have been running around trying to fit the last bits of vacation in where I can!

For our Young Men High Adventure we went up to Moab, Utah for some off-roading and camping. We towed the jeep behind our Explorer for 500 miles, just me and dad! it was a great bonding experience for us before I get to leave for mother Russia. We went up and camped, went off-roading, mountain biked, did some hiking and repelling, then we went white water rafting, and met some really cute tour guides!

One of the trails available to us was called "Hells Revenge."  It featured a narrow winding path that was not much wider than the jeeps, and the drop off on either side of it is about 50 feet down... Needless to say we did not attempt that one, I still value my life somewhat! The repelling was really cool, I've done it before so I seemed really professional when everyone else was a little scaredy cat.

The best part for me would probably be the white water rafting, because I have never done it but always wanted to! We went through category 3 rapids (I think) on a big 7 person raft. Even though the boat was huge we still got thrown all around and I had a blast! Overall it was a great vacation in a warm climate before I freeze my tail off in Vladivostok. I will miss you all!

Monday, July 21, 2014

EFY // Cameron Edition

Hello! This summer has been absolutely amazing. I started off the first week of it by going to EFY in Provo. We stayed on BYU campus and in the dorms. I went alone, and it was kind of scary the first day because I didn't know anyone in my company. But by the end of the week we were all so close!  I really enjoyed my week. Throughout the week we had classes, and devotionals, family home evening, and my favorite... the DANCES!!

At EFY you do a lot of walking.On the second day we had a dance and I had danced too hard and woke up the next day with a swollen foot. I had to spend my week hobbling across campus. But I guess it wasn't all to bad because the boys carried me most places.  I really enjoyed being able to spend a week in cool weather doing nothing but learning more and coming to love the gospel even more than I already do.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Jeeping and Diving and Bikes, Oh My!

This is Ryan.  During this school year, I have done quite a bit. I was on the dive team, I went offroading a bit and we got a motorcycle! During the dive season, I got a chance to go to many invitationals. Although I never placed, it was a fun time! The highlight of the season for me was learning a reverse 1 1/2. I was at one of the invitationals and they accidently signed me up for doing that dive but I never learned it. Instead of asking the judges to change it, I just learned the dive ten minutes before the meet started! It was kinda scary but I didn't even belly flop; that's always a plus!

On Black Friday, I got to go hang out with my dad and some guys from our church when we went offroading. We  only got stuck once, luckily our buddy had a winch to pull us out. We got some good mud thrown on the sides of the jeep as well as some inside... we forgot to roll up the windows! I drove the whole time, and had a great time! Cant wait to go out again.

A few months ago, my friend let me ride his motorcycle. It was a little Ninja 250 but it was tons of fun! I told my dad that we should get one and he was all for it. We took the Team Arizona riders course and learned all the basics of riding safety. My friend then sold his 250 so that he could upgrade to a Ninja 500 right before we took the course. Sadly for him (but not for me), soon after he bought it he found out that he had to move to Mexico and he couldn't take the bike with him! My dad and I went in together and took it off his hands and now we are the proud owners of a Ninja 500. It is tons of fun to ride! All those hours working as a bag boy at Sprouts are paying off.  :)

Monday, December 23, 2013

Advice From an 8th Grader

Since I am an 8th grader at a Public school, I learn a lot of wisdom from my peers. I want to share  some of this wisdom with you.

1. Don't do drugs. Especially in the school bathroom because you will be caught, and suspended, as I have witnessed.
2. Have a wide circle of friends. So when one group turns on you, you have lots of other people to go to.
3.Be confident. Everyone loves someone who is proud of who they are.
4. Be yourself. The grass isn't always green on the other side.
5. Smile. Everyone loves a happy camper.
6. If you're going to get in trouble, make it a big thing.
7. Flirt with boys.
8. A lot.
9. Singing and playing piano is actually cool, so do it!
10. Be creative because life is better with art.
11. Don't let anyone tell you how to live your life. besides your parents. ALWAYS LISTEN TO THEM!
12. Make memories, time flies and you'll never be in 8th grade again. Unless you get held back... but we'll hope for the best.
13. Always listen to your parents. They know everything!
14. Take Pictures because you will have many once in a life time experiences.
15. HAVE FUN!!


You're A Good Man Charlie Brown

Hello! As some of you may know I decided to jump on the band wagon and try musical theatre like my siblings. In the fall I auditioned for "You're a Good Man Charlie Brown". To my surprise I got the part of being Sally's understudy and a member of the Peanuts Gang. I had so much fun learning two different parts and learning Sally's song "My New Philosophy."  Although I didn't get to be Sally, I really enjoyed the parts I did have. This new experience was so much fun and I made lots of new friends and unforgettable memories. I am even thinking about doing another musical soon!

EAC Round 3

If you follow me on Facebook, you are probably sick of all my post's about what I have been doing at college. I like taking pictures of all our shenanigans so that I can go back and reminisce  when I want. The semester started off with a bang when I made the Acapella Choir at school. It was really fun, but really challenging semester being in that choir. On the first day of class, we grabbed our folders, and all they had inside were 13 pieces of sheet music, and a tuning fork. Dr. Bishop started class by saying we wouldn't be using the piano at all. He was telling the truth because we really didn't! We trained ourselves to find our notes from the tuning forks. At first it was really difficult. There were times where I thought, "What the heck am I doing here?". But now it is something that me and my friends will do for fun because we are a bunch of choir nerds. :)

Speaking of my friends... I don't know what I did this semester, but I got super lucky in the group of friends I made.  I started the semester being the only girl in a group of guys. Each of these boys has become like a big brother to me. But as the semester went on our group has expanded more and more. We have a lot of fun and we like to cause all sorts of trouble. For example, one weekend half of our friends went to the valley to see The Lion King. While they were gone, the other half of us were trying to figure out what to do with ourselves. I remembered a video that my Aunt Kathleen sent me a few years ago about a guy who went out of town and while he was gone, his roommates wrapped everything he owned in wrapping paper. I suggested that to my friends and we ran with it. With the help of their roommates, and the bribing the right people, we were let into each of their rooms. It took almost 4 hours and $25 in wrapping paper and tape, but it was so worth it and fun to see their faces when they got home.

One of our last dates before everyone went home for the Christmas break was a girl ask guy event and we decided to make it a Winter themed date. After our classes for the day, the girls piled into a truck, and we told the guys we would have a surprise for them when we got back. We drove up Mt. Graham and filled the back of a truck full of snow. After only getting the truck stuck once we brought the snow back to campus where we surprised the boys with a snowball fight and snowman building contest. After that, there was a talent show at the institute. My date, Eric, kept telling me he had this really cool talent but he wouldn't tell me what it was. He ended up calling me onstage and serenading me in front of the entire institute. Needless to say, we are going to have to dispel some rumors when we get back to school. After the talent show, we went to see the Eclipse concert in Safford. Eclipse is an all acapella men's group from Utah. They were really talented and so fun to watch. The original plan was to then go to the school's Winter Formal dance. But we were all so tired from such a fun day that we decided to have a pajama party at my house with cookie dough and Christmas movies instead of getting all dolled up. I think we made the better choice.

All in all, I am loving my time in Thatcher. I am really sad that I only have one more semester left. But I know it is going to be an exciting one full of new adventures and good times! Merry Christmas to all!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Christmas Update - 2013

It has been a wonderful Fall at our house.  The kids are all doing well in school, keeping busy, and seeming to be happy.  Megan is in her 2nd year at EAC, in the Acappella Choir, and looking forward to wrapping things up there in the Spring.  She hasn't decided where she will go next to finish her degree.  She just made a quick trip back to Disneyland, so she's gotten her fix for a few months.  We feel blessed that she has an incredible group of friends, family and teachers there who love her and support her as she is out on her own. 

Ryan is enjoying a low-stress Senior Year.  He only needed 2.5 credits to graduate, but went ahead and filled up his schedule.  He is part of Jazz-Mad choir at Desert Vista High School, and had a great season on the diving team.  (Diving Board, not Scuba Diving).  Their choir will be going to New York City in the Spring.   His creativity has expanded in his Ceramics class.  He makes beautiful pottery, and now we have an extensive collection of gorgeous glazed pots.  One of his favorite things to do is take the jeep 4-wheeling, but he's always out doing all kinds of boy stuff with his friends.   We are fortunate that he still likes us, and spends time with us, too.  It will be fun to see him graduate in May. 

Cameron is our ever-stylish 8th grader.  She is getting straight A's, and enjoys school.  She was recently in "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown" and sings in her school Honor Choir.  They are going to Disneyland in March and she's very excited.  Cameron is the energy in our house.  She's always "hatching up" something to do (as Grandpa Woods would say).   She loves to play the piano.  At her Christmas recital, she played a Jon Schmidt version of "Stars Were Gleaming" that was more than difficult.  It was beautiful, and it was fun to watch her tackle that piece for the fun of the challenge.  It's incredible to think she'll be in High School next year. 

In November, we added a new family member.  A lovely girl named Jacque, who is a junior at Desert Vista, was in need of a place to live.  We had an empty bedroom, and we have enjoyed having her stay with us.  As a bonus, she brought her dog with her.  We have never had a dog, but we have fallen in love with Tina, the Rat Terrier. 

Trish is still teaching in the Library at school and still in the Primary Presidency.  Mike is having great success at his Lobbying firm, and serving as High Priest group leader.  Our whole family is getting excited for the opening of the Gilbert Temple.  Ryan and Cameron will get to be in the cultural celebration, and we have invited several friends and coworkers to take the tour in the next few weeks before the dedication. 

We hope that this season of remembering our Savior is filled with happiness and love for all of our friends and family.  May 2014 be a wonderful year for all of you!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Ryan's Summer

Its been a while since I posted, I've been quite busy with work and school and such. Over the summer, I went to EFY in Provo, Utah for the first session. It was such a cool experience, I met lots of awesome people and a bunch of cute girls too. The guys in my group started a competition to see who could get the most girls numbers throughout the course of the week. I got 5 within the first 2 days! Pretty impressive, I know. At the end of the second day I scored a college girls number, after that I stopped trying. I wanted to end on a high note and not risk getting shut down! Overall it was a great experience and I wish I could go back next year.

 After getting back from EFY, our priest quorum went to the Grand Canyon to hike Havasupai. We drove to the trail head and arrived around 9 pm. We slept in the parking lot on our mats under the stars just 30 feet away from the edge of the canyon. Waking up early in the morning, we hiked to
the bottom of the canyon before the heat of the day hit us. As soon as we got to camp, we dropped off our packs, changed into our swimsuits and  headed over to the waterfall. The water was freezing cold, the color was a gorgeous blue and the heat was over 100 degrees! The surrounding landscape was dry as a bone, yet the area right by the waterfall was an oasis of shrubbery and greenery. There were picnic tables set up all around the base of the waterfall, and while some friends slept on the table, I slept on a little walkway that wrapped around the waterfall. It was only about 3 feet wide, had I rolled to the side at all I would be soaked and a bit unhappy. Overall it was a great experience! I cant wait to visit again.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Jamaica me rested and relaxed!

Jamaica in July has become somewhat a tradition for Mike and Trish.  We really like it there.  We enjoy the all-inclusive resorts and the wonderfully friendly people we meet.  For the past many years we have been going to resorts in the SuperClubs family.  However, they keep selling them and we have had to move around a bit.  This year we tried a Couples resort.  We spent a week at Couples Sans Souci in Ocho Rios and had one of our best trips yet. 

Couples Sans Souci is built on a steep incline, so the views are gorgeous.  The resort is very keen on customer service (something that we have been missing in recent years), the food was wonderful and we were spoiled and pampered all week.  One of the biggest draws for us each year is the scuba diving which is included in the price of the trip.  The diving in Jamaica isn’t the best we’ve experienced, but it’s not bad.  There are always surprises and you never know what you might see.   The dive crew here was excellent!  For the last few years, the crew has had each diver carry out and bring back their own equipment to the boat, including the women.  Not a problem.  But these guys said “Not the ladies!” and they took Trish's equipment out and back for her.  She just grabbed extra fins and weight belts so she wasn’t empty handed.  They were fun and showed us a good time. 

We always seem to meet interesting people on these trips.  We made some great friends from Scotland on this trip.  They are about our age.  She was in the cast of “Lord of the Dance” and now runs a school for Irish Dancing and also judges competitions.  He dove with us, and we swear is James Bond in disguise!  They come to Couples Sans Souci every year for a month at a time.  This was their 13th trip.  That speaks pretty well for this place. 

We don’t know what next summer will bring, but are hoping to return soon!  They are starting to refer to us as “JAmericans.”  That’s OK by us. 




Monday, August 12, 2013

Disneyland 2013

For those of you who think that I go to Disneyland every other week, most of you will be surprised to know that I just got back from my first trip in 2013. It's been 8 months since  I was last there, and it was a much needed trip!

A year ago, right before we all left for our first year of college me and some friends from high school decided we needed a trip to Disneyland to say our goodbyes and celebrate our completion of Senior year. This year we used the excuse that it was a celebration of finishing our first year away. Even though we are all legal "adults", we're all children at heart. Every year we each pick a character, and emulate them in some way. Last year we used "Disney Bound" as our inspiration. Disney Bound is a fairly popular blog that a lady has created. She takes everyday clothes, and styles them to a character. I was Tinker Bell. :) This year, thanks to Pinterest, we had the idea to make tulle tutu's that represented our character. I chose to be Minnie Mouse. I had a red tulle tutu, with black accents.

This trip was definitely in the top 3 greatest Disney trips ever. For example, we were in the park for less than a minute, when we see Mickey Mouse running to greet us. He didn't have a handler or anything! I think he saw our tutu's and thought "Oh those poor girls...." haha. But we all got our Mickey hugs and kisses, and he took a picture with us too. :) That just set the tone for the rest of the day.

The crowds were small, the weather was perfect, and somehow, the longest line we waited in was only 30 minutes long. At the end of the day, we decided we really wanted to see World of Color. I had never seen it, and my friends were appalled at me. So we got our tickets, and decided to ride Indiana Jones one more time before we booked it to California Adventure for the show. After we got off the ride, we were climbing up the stairs trying to beat the crowds, when I tripped and fell UP the stair case..... I'm talented I know. I didn't notice anything at the time, and just kept going, because we wanted front row seats. But as soon as we got to our spots (Front and center!) I noticed my foot was hurting a lot. I couldn't put any pressure on it, without wanting to cry. I thought my feet were just tired from the long day. But my friends insisted on going to the Disney nurses, just to be sure. She couldn't really do anything for me, except give me Tylenol, an ice pack, and a Minnie Mouse sticker.

It was a perfect Disney day. I wouldn't have changed a thing about it. It sounds silly, but no matter how old I get, I will always love Disneyland and all its magic. Like Walt Disney always said, "Growing old is mandatory, growing up is optional."
Mickey loves us! :)

Pre- Injury

Oh my tulle.... (Minnie Mouse, Cruella DeVille, Merida, Aurora)