Friday, August 29, 2008

It was the best of times, It was the worst of times...

Once again, another marathon long update from the Gunnells. This time I'm covering Lake Powell, my Grandpa McMaster's funeral, Macie starting kindergarten, and a Boys II Men concert (hence the "new" old-school music you're hearing. I know, I know... totally nineties. But I had to link it as a tribute -- a temporary tribute, but a tribute nonetheless -- to my all time favorite group).
P.S. - Our camera is temporarily broken, so we can't download any of the pictures off the memory card. We do have pics on the blog below, however. Don't fret . . . we should get pics up on this entry in about 2 weeks!
August began when my little brother returned home from his mission to Lisbon, Portugal -- after serving for 2 honorable years. I am so proud of him and thrilled to have him back here in Provo to finish his studies at BYU!  So . . . August 8th we drove down to Vegas to celebrate his return and to sing at his two homecoming sacrament meetings. While we were there, we also celebrated the birthdays of my two little sisters (go Katie and Stephanie!) and held a baby shower for Steph (Who is due in October with baby #1. Such a great choice of a birthday month. All the great people are born in October.). Anyhow, it was a jam packed weekend, but it was lots of fun. Thanks to my mom and dad for their hospitality and love.
Bright and early Monday morning we packed in the car and headed to Powell, ready for a week of adventure with the Bairds and the Johnsons. And a week of adventure it was. That first day we had a little "incident" where Danny disappeared on a Jet-Ski while we were looking for a campsite to anchor at. I don't mean he was gone for 20 minutes. I mean, he was gone for 2 1/2 hours! Mike Baird was our one man search party (who knows what we would've done if HE had disappeared too!), but finally, Danny returned. It had all been a little miscommunication. Well, we finally got anchored and got some dinner into our starving kids and started feeling happy to be there. :) The rest of the trip was a blast. The kids tried wakeboarding (apparently Macie did the best, but she only tried it one time and I was sleeping! So I missed her fabulous 50 feet of water, but I did catch about 100 of little Reidy-boy's attempts. His best was about 10-15 feet!), we all went surfing, tubing, tried to improve our wakeboarding skills, and laughed at people crash on the sky-ski. It was some serious fun. Danny also relished his Acquire victories (he ALMOST won every game...except for the final, "champion of the world" game, when I claimed the title), the girls designed a special seashell walkway onto the beach, we killed hundreds of spiders (no exaggeration), enjoyed lots of swimming/sun/books, and had lots of fun talks and discussions. Our neighbor/babysitter Rachel was a real life-saver and we were so grateful to have her there with us! Then, the last night we all stayed out a little too late at Rainbow Bridge, and had to delay our boat ride home so that I could use my cell phone. My Grandpa McMaster had passed away while we were at the lake, and so my family (who had been planning on joining us at Powell for the next week) had a sudden change of plans. It was pitch black as we navigated our way home to the houseboat, and kind-of a scary ride. I'm glad we made it safely! On Saturday we ended up all packing up and heading back to the buoy together. Of course we encountered some more surprises on our return home, but then again, that's kind-of how Powell goes. We hit a HUGE rain/hail storm that kind-of flooded our boat, and we're grateful to Mike, Sherri, and Kimball for helping take care of it so that Danny and I could head down to Cali for the funeral. We're grateful for good friends like the Bairds and the Johnsons, and hope they had as much fun on the trip as we did!
We rested in Vegas for one day, then headed down to Cali for the funeral. It was a lovely service, and probably one of the happiest funerals I've ever been to. Not that anyone was happy to see Grandpa Sandy go. Not at all. But he was such a fun man, and we had so many happy and wonderful memories, that it was truly a celebration of his life. I want my funeral to be that way. 
Once again, I was able to sing a duet with my Dad, and it was a neat experience. I'm grateful for music and thankful to my dad for sharing his love of music with me!
After the funeral, we decided to head to the beach with Katie, Tyler, Sarah, John, Brian, and my cousin Jim. When in Cali, do as the natives do, right? It was salty and sandy, just like I remembered it. :) We had a blast, until it got so cold that Davis and I were done. Here's some pictures of Macie the sand-mermaid and the other fun we had!

Tuesday we hit Disneyland -- during one of the busiest times of the year. We were still ready for it to be the happiest place on earth, though. And this is where the title of this blog really applies. I've never had any lows at Disneyland . . . until this time. It all started at Splash Mountain. Danny and I had a little disagreement about who was going to ride it and who was going to watch the kids. We ended up heading in different directions, with the understanding that Danny would meet the rest of the group at Space Mountain. Macie, Davis and I hit Winnie-the-Pooh (such a thrill!) and headed over to Tomorrowland. Danny wasn't there, but pretty soon Katie and Tyler showed up, then John and Brian. We were all hanging out, looking out for Danny and Reid, and getting pretty hot. So we converged upon that giant water ball outside of Space Mountain. I was watching the kids play, when suddenly this woman crashed into and smashed Davis. It was a very dramatic fall. I know I yelled something to her right before she ran into Davis, but I'm not sure if it was "Watch out!" or "Hey, Lady!" or what exactly. She screamed as well, as she smashed Davis into the ground and hit her right shoulder. Then she lay there, grasping her arm and moaning/crying. Suddenly, we were surrounded by the Disneyland SWAT team. There must have been 20 Disney employees around, asking questions, bringing shade umbrellas, getting the nurse, bringing a stretcher, taking statements, giving stickers to the scared kids, etc. I'd never experienced accident management like that before. It was a pretty WOW response. So, Davis ended up being just fine (a little shaken up, but just fine. Luckily she was a pretty slender, athletic lady -- and not some huge fatty that smashed him), but this woman's arm looked like she'd dislocated her shoulder or broken something. It was pretty tragic. She couldn't stop crying (her arm hurt, and she was worried about Davis), and I couldn't stop crying because I felt so bad that she'd been hurt. I totally felt responsible. Like I had bowled Davis in front of her or something. But the Disney people and Katie and Tyler reassured me that it wasn't my fault. It was Disneyland, after all. It's not like they've got posted signs saying "watch out for children" -- kids are everywhere. And if you don't pay attention, you could trip on a toddler and break your arm. And then your husband and your little niece that is with you will have to leave crying to the hospital for x-rays. Like I said, it was pretty dramatic, and pretty tragic. And Danny missed the whole thing. Because even after they took her away (out a "special" exit) and all the incident management team dispersed, Danny was still not there. And we'd been waiting for over an hour. Finally, we checked the Buzz Lightyear ride again (we'd already sent scouts to check it twice) and found him. Another miscommunication. But, at least at this point, things could only get better. We found snacks to maintain us until dinner and headed to California Adventure, where we had a blast on the Bear River ride. Katie and I REALLY got soaked, and the boys got their fair share of splashing too. The kids enjoyed the carousel while the adults screamed on the roller coaster, and then we headed to "A Bug's Life"-- which ended the night on a serious high note for our kids. The rides were almost empty by this time (9 pm), so we could ride the children's rides over and over again. I'm telling you, that is the way to do it! By the time we finally left the park and headed home towards Las Vegas, Danny and I were wasted. So we stopped in Victorville for the night and made the rest of our journey back to Provo Wednesday. As fun as our vacationing was, BOY, WERE WE GLAD TO BE HOME!
Saturday we enjoyed one of the last lake days of the year with the Hodges family, and Monday morning Danny left to Texas for four days. We really missed him here at home, and we we're thrilled when he made it home early enough Thursday night to hit the Boys II Men concert in Orem. Because I didn't think he'd make it back in time, and because I'd had a very long day and a long week, I was planning on wasting the tickets we'd purchased 3 months ago. But Danny persuaded me to come to the concert, even though it was already 9 pm  by the time he was home. Boy ... am I glad he did! It was one of the most fun concerts I've been to. Man, can those guys sing! They are amazing. And even though their choreography was totally nineties and over-the-top, it was so entertaining and fun. I remember buying their tapes way back in 1991, when they first started. They were seniors in high school then, so they are just a couple of years older than Danny, I guess. Anyway, Danny and I both knew all of their songs and had a blast singing them out with the crowd. And, since we were so late getting to the concert, of course our seats were taken, but one of the ushers let us stay up in the very front with the "VIP" crowd. One of the "Boys" even grabbed my hand during a song. :) Super fabulous. It was pretty funny to be up there with all these screaming girls, actually. Anyway, it was a night to remember.

Another highlight of the week (actually, an even BIGGER highlight than Boys II Men) was Macie's first day of Kindergarten, on Wednesday. She started at Watsatch Elementary School, also known as "the best school in the land."  And we believe it! She loves school so far, and I hope she always feels that way. Here she is with her backpack, and posing next to the school mascot, "Satch." I did shed a tear or two after dropping my baby girl off, but I waited until I was in the car and out of sight first. I love her so much.
So, two cute kid stories to close out our email. The first one happened as we were driving home to Provo on Wednesday. We decided to stop at the outlet mall at the Cali-Nevada state line and do some shopping to stretch out our legs. As we were getting out of the car, Macie said, "Mom, make sure we don't get any bikinis!" (we've been talking about modesty a lot lately, if you can't tell from that comment.) Anyway, Reid shouts out, "But Mom, I LIKE zucchinis! We have zucchinis in our garden!" Zucchini. Bikini. Kind-of sounds similar. Anyway, I had to laugh. We explained that zucchinis are OK. Bikinis are not. Easy lesson.
Next cute story. We were driving home on Saturday, after going to the Lake with the Hodges family. Macie asks, "Mom, what are we going to do now?" 
I reply, "Well, we're going to go home and take baths and eat dinner." 
"Then what?" she asks. 
"Then we are going to sit around and pick our noses." I say. (I hope you realize that I was kidding here. She did not.)
"But Mom, I don't want to pick my nose." She says.
"You DON'T WANT TO PICK YOUR NOSE?!" I ask, feigning incredulity. "I think it sounds like fun. Doesn't anyone else want to sit around and pick their nose?"
"Yeah!" Davis yells out.
"I want to pick my nose!" Reid shouts. (I bust out laughing. Danny is laughing too. Reid starts picking his nose already.)
"Well, I don't!" Macie says. And she folds her arms over her chest. Reid is still picking his nose. I don't think Davis really knows what he has just shouted "Yeah!" about. And Danny and I are loving how much fun our kids are.
And that's it for the Gunnell family update. I'll have to spend tomorrow night reading all of our friend and family blogs. And blog about the BYU game, of course. Danny can hardly sleep, for excitement. He's like a little boy at Christmas-time. It's cute. A little crazy, but cute. We love you all and hope all is well!

Seriously...So Blessed

I wrote this blog before we hit Lake Powell. Now it is old news, but I'm still going to post it anyway before I blog our latest Lake Powell and Disneyland pictures!
Life is good for the Gunnells. The title of this blog entry comes from a funny tongue-and-cheek blog that pokes fun of our LDS Utah culture, but in this case it really applies. So, I'll use the cliche . . . we are seriously so blessed! :) I really have become a Utard.
This past month has been full of fun and blessings. July fourth was a great holiday in Provo, as always. I ran the 10 K and the kids all cheered for the parade. We loved hanging out with the Halladay family at their great home along the route. And, of course, we were pumped for the highlight of the evening, -- the Miley Cyrus (a.k.a. Hannah Montana) concert. Macie had been talking about it for weeks. Well, as soon as Miley opened her mouth and started singing, Macie said, "Mom and Dad, can we go home now? I don't like this." Fabulous. Well, we made her stay until the fireworks at the end. Here is our "happy" little family at the show and the parade -- well, at least the boys weren't crabby about it!

The next weekend I was able to spend some "girl time" with my good friends from book club. Here we all are at dinner together . . . it was a lot of fun to get away and just relax for a couple of days. Thanks to my friend Misha for letting us invade her home! I love you guys!

Monday, the 14th, was a momentous day for us. We faced our neighborhood thug in court, and were blessed to have the judge (who was a grumpy Judge Judy type) re-sign our stalking injunction against this troubled young man. We felt so supported by our good neighbors and friends who wrote letters of evidence. Special thanks to Steph, for staying up late talking to Danny and giving us her legal opinion for free. We are so happy to have a happy, quiet, safe cul-du-sac again. If he comes anywhere remotely near us, he's going to the BIG HOUSE. I honestly wouldn't be sad to see this guy in the slammer, in fact, I think it would be a service to society. We'll see if he decides to disturb our peace again...
Danny took off with a potential investor when I came home, flying on a private jet to a huge ranch in Colorado (next to the Disney family and Ralph Lauren's ranches). He joked about wanting a similar ranch someday. If we ever do, you're all invited to come and visit. :) Anyway, he had to hurry home to join the priests in Nevada for the stake high adventure camp. I'm pretty sure that he really enjoyed it -- they found trilobites, explored awesome caves, hiked to and swam in freezing glacial lakes, and did other boy stuff. I'm proud of him for being such a great YM President.
The next week we celebrated Macie's 5th birthday on Pioneer Day . . . can you believe that she is 5 years old?! That means kindergarten and all sorts of big kid stuff. She was a real cutie-pie and enjoyed her "Enchanted" party the night before her big day. On the 24th we had our family celebration, with Daddy at Seven Peaks. Do you remember my blog in May about Davis's cake falling apart? Well, this time it was just fine (seeing as we didn't have any punk guys threatening us and no cops were over at our house!). Yeah!

Here's some pics of the kids and their latest hobbies. Reid loves making huge rows with all of his cars and balls (can you see the pride on his face) and Macie loves dressing up with her friend Abagail. Macie also auditioned for her dance studio's "mini" company, and made the team! Here she is, posing at home before her audition. Good times. (until I have to clean up those cars and balls, that is!)

We've been busy the past few weeks with boating and getting ready for some serious surfing and wakeboarding at Lake Powell. We can't wait to hit the water with the Bairds and the Johnsons, and then later with the Davis family.
We hope that you are all doing well, wherever you are. We've been slackers at blogging and checking the blogs of our loved ones, but we promise to try and do better once our vacationing is over. We love you all and hope that you've been having fun too!