When ya gotta go . . .

Annie started singing her favorite Christmas song ("When Christmas Comes to Town" from the Polar Express), but it was sped up due to natural causes. She also added some suspicious choreography.


the decision

Yeah, I never planned on giving him money because, quite frankly, even if I really wanted to we couldn't. We just don't have it right now. I had considered trying to find a donor who would sponsor him though.

But I never got a response from the school, which I took as a bad sign. So I wrote him an email with some links I found to Kenyan student loans that are available. I also explained that here in the US we have to get loans to pay for school, and that I'm in fact still paying off loans I got when I was a student.

Deep down, I don't think it's a scam, mostly because the information he sent was from the school and he wanted the money deposited into his school account, not a bank. But given the risk associated with this type of thing, and the fact I don't have that kind of cash-ola. I opted to direct him elsewhere.

I guess the moral of the story is that if you're looking to scam someone, don't pick somebody who has a 1987 ford ranger parked in front of their house.


Hamisi Bakari Mwachizungu

Okay, brace yourself for a long story. When I was about twelve, two of my aunts who are nurses went to Kenya to offer medical assistance there for a few weeks. They took some boxes of toothbrushes and stuff from our beehives class. We included letters with the toothbrushes. Years later (about three years ago). I got a letter from the boy who got mine. I wrote him back, and he wrote me again.

Hamisi is about my age (23), and the oldest in his family of eight children. His dad died when he was a teenager, and he's been the primary provider for his family since. He lives just outside of Mombasa. He sent this picture a few letters ago, well actually it was just a negative that I developed.
I received a letter from him a few days ago, and he got accepted and started classes at the University of Nairobi through their Distance Learning program. He is looking for a sponsor to help him out with his fees that are due soon. He needs 52,000 KSH which amounts to about $700. He sent all the school paperwork, pamphlets, account numbers, etc.

What do I do? I don't even know if I can believe his story, and it's not like we have $700 just lying around. So I've just been trying to put it out of my mind, but then I see the letter and paperwork sitting on the table and I feel so guilty! I find myself thinking, "We don't have tons of money. We can't help him." but then I remember all the things we have like hot water and carpet, and I feel guilty again. Then I worry that if I help him I'll just create a monster, and he'll want money again and again. I just don't know. I'm typically kind of a scrooge, but this has really been haunting me, and I feel like I should do something.

I wrote an email to the school just so I can check his information out, and hopefully I will hear back from them soon. He also included his email address this time, but I can't bring myself to email him until I know what I'm going to do.

Advice please! What would you do in this situation?


Kongju (princess)

We figured since Annie fit into Tom's Korean hanbok, we should get some use out of it, and hey, free costume! So she pranced around town as a Korean princess. I managed to snap a few shots before she was off in a candy frenzy.

I stayed home with Max to pass out candy this year, so Tom did his best to represent both of us.

Gramma surprised Annie when we got to her house. She had her hanbok on too! Annie hides her hands under the top in true Korean style. That little flap is there to keep their hands out of the sun.


Double Take

I get deja-vu sometimes when looking at Max. See for yourself.


Apple Cizerd

We were lucky enough to get invited to make cider (Annie calls it cizerd) with some friends from the ward (thanks Myers)! There were thousands of apples. We didn't even make a dent in the number. It was a cool still evening, and the perfect fall activity. The juice was addictingly delicious, but now I want a cider press. I've already written Santa.

The kids were great apple pickers (for at least 3 minutes).

Riding in the cart was way more fun.

The apples got a bath, then we sliced them.

Next we poured them into the press. It was nice to have some male arm strength around to crank the handle.

Max's wasn't brawny enough for the job yet. So instead he gave everyone dirty looks to show his disdain for the cold air.

There were plenty of leaves for all.

Thomas really cranked out a lot of cider! 28 gallons to be exact.

We warmed up our fingers by the fire,

and warmed up our bellies with hot dogs and apple crisp. Then we came home and made hot spiced cider. We've made ourselves sick drinking the stuff.


Max is feeling blessed

And so are we! There was a lot of family here to see the little guy, and Thomas did a fantastic job. What a sweet baby boy we've got.

He fit into his dad's itty bitty shoes from yester-year.



Life is magnificent lately. When kneeling to pray, I feel selfish to even ask for anything. This summer has been one of the best, and I fully attribute that to our prized collection of friends and family. And now for a summer photo finale:

Maddy came over for a spin on the radio flyer. These girls are best buddies and get along smashingly.

The fair of course! We love watching the people almost as much as eating the food.

Words cannot express Annie's love for the ferris wheel.

We had the most beautiful float on the river with Gramma and Bampa.

With a standout picnic of course . . .

On our way to the hospital (first we grabbed a few groceries and tied up some loose ends around the house).

Annie was busy at Gramma's making a special blanket for her new brother. She picked out the fabric and everything, explaining, "The monkeys on it will make him laugh!"

We're still waiting for the laughter.

What a sweet boy. Life is so good with our new little one at home. So long sweet summer.

Yes, I know, enough pictures already.


We think his hair-do is second to none.

Max described his first encounter with Annie as "tolerable".


He's here!

He arrived at 10:43 pm and weighed 7 lbs 2 oz . He was pretty mad at first but he warmed up to us fast.


This baby ticker just gave me a braxton hicks. Yikes. I think I'll go dig out the old car seat.


I have uncles aunts and cousins . . .

This year's Gunderson-fest was as fun filled as ever! Some of the highlights included:

Spelunking (or trying to find the cave until Annie lost her lunch)
Fishing at Cliff Lake
Gramp Camp
Gramma Pajama Night
Kai's baptism
Treasure hunt
Rocks in West
Dan's beans and rice
Swamping La Pizzeria
Amy's brownies
The 200 cumulative lbs. we gained . . .

I think Annie is yelling girls rule boys drool, but I can't be certain (she, Katie, and Milli were vastly outnumbered).

My lovely "full figure" and Tom's toned buns (if he hadn't been holding Annie, I think this opportunity would have been more than I could resist).

Annie wasn't sure about Bret's driving skills, but Dallin would have happily stayed there all week.

Gramma Pajama night! While all those boys camped, us girls held down the fort at the cabin. Magic wands, dolls, and new jammies were just part of the excitement. Annie was heartbroken when the spell was broken at 9:00 for bed.

A good ear cleaning at Gramma and Bampa's.



We haven't posted much this summer, and I'm hoping that a few photos will substitute nicely enough.

Good old splash park and free lunch

Rainy day puppet

Hijacking the mini-bike

Bad photo of the drive-in

Making brownies


Ace is the place

This morning I asked Annie where I got such a smart little girl. She replied, "At Ace . . . in the girls."

Hopefully they still have some selection left in the boys department.


Disney Daze

One of Annie's favorite rides.

Bummer! She didn't get to go on the biggest rides, but she was legal for a lot, even the Matterhorn.

The highlight of the trip. Meeting her beloved Cinderelly.

She thought this little roller coaster in Toon-town was the best.

Over-stimulation anyone?

We got lucky. The firework show wasn't scheduled until peak season (two weeks away), but they did a trial show one night we were there. Annie had been telling us about the fireworks at Disneyland for months, so we were super happy to see them. It was an impressive display set to music with confetti at the end.

Annie was a trooper. She was pleasant even without a lot of sleep, and we drug her all over orange county without much complaining. She even navigated the airport on her own.