Christmas Letter 2017

Volume 13

Merry Christmas Everyone!

Its that time of year again, we are so excited for the Christmas Season this year as there have been many changes in the Tucker household in 2017.

First we decided to move! Crazy we know, but we found a ranch with LOTS of room for us to grow (160 acres worth). Considering how much room the kids 4-H animals took up this year that is a good thing since they are wanting to increase their projects again! We are very glad to be settled here, it is just east of where we used to live by about 5 miles. We are still loving New Mexico which is a good thing since Nichole never wants to move again!

Derek has been busy with work, lots of Statistics that he can’t speak about and was able to travel back to Tallahassee to give an invited talk at his Alma Mater. He has been busy at church as well, he was released from the Bishopric he was serving in, as the Bishop took a work assignment in D.C. They then scooped him up to be on the High Council for the Stake. This means he helps with the organization and administrative business of the 8 Wards or Units of the Church in our area. He is in charge of the Primary Age Children and Cub Scouts. He just can’t get away from Scouting and is loving it!

Nichole was also released from the Relief Society Presidency as we were moving wards and was then called back into the Relief Society Presidency as the First Councilor. She is looking forward to serving the women of our new ward, Estancia Valley. She is also still subbing at the kids school and has really found working with the kids rewarding. She is still the Secretary for our Back Country Horsemen Chapter and is also doing Box Tops for the School. The UC is still being well controlled despite the stress of selling and buying houses and is really grateful for her health!

Heidi is enjoying 3rd grade and is excelling. She is reading at a 9th grade reading level so we are trying hard to challenge her in that area. She was also baptized a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in July. We were blessed to have lots of family attend and really enjoyed seeing them. We are so proud of her for making this choice.She also enjoyed showing her Lamb and Rabbit at 4-H this year and is looking forward to getting another rabbit and more sheep as she will be a Novice. Which means she will be officially competing.

James is doing great in 1st grade, he loves his teacher and is doing really well in all areas of learning. ( One smart cookie like his Dad of whom he is a mini-me) He also showed his rabbit, which is almost as big as he is, and his Lamb who he got to behave really well for the Judge. He will still be a Cloverbud but is looking forward to trying to show pigs and maybe a steer if he can convince Mom and Dad. He’s been riding in the back country by himself for rides up 10 miles. We are really proud of him.

We are all still very involved with Back Country Horseman and have enjoyed lots of rides and camping trips this summer. We also took a trip camping to Colorado to see the old College crowd and to enjoy Pagosa Springs. It was a great trip even though there was lots of rain.

Our family has been so blessed this year we cannot thank our Heavenly Father enough. We wish many blessings on you and your family this year, and hope that this Christmas Season brings you the joy of our Savior Jesus Christ.


Derek, Nichole Heidi and James

Heidi’s Baptism

Today was a special day in the Tucker household. Heidi chose to be baptized a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. We are so proud of her for making this commitment to follow our Savior. 

She had two beautiful dresses to wear thanks to some wonderful Family friends. 

We had lots of friends and family come for the event and it was wonderful to spend some time with them. 

We may all not be very photogenic but we are all happy to be here. We are grateful for the wonderful person Heidi is turning into and can’t believe that we are so lucky to be able to be her parents. She is really a light in our lives and hope that her baptism will be a stepping stone in her life to help her become a wonderful young lady. 

Wow it’s March Already!

Well,  I can’t believe it’s March already!

We spent Christmas Eve with some friends and had a great Swedish inspired meal. Our family had a great Christmas at home, the kids enjoyed their presents. We had very little snow this winter but we did have some snow and the kids loved playing in it. 


James loved that he got to have a winter break with Heidi and get some time off from school. He is doing really well in Kindergarten and is starting to read all by himself. He is also testing at a 1st-grade level so we are super proud of the progress that he is making.

Heidi is still reading at a 4th-grade level and increasing the number of books she is reading daily. She is really enjoying 2nd grade and we are proud of the progress that she is making. 

The kids are enjoying 4-H and are getting ready to get some Lambs as well and working with the rabbits. They really like all the kids in the group and are excited for more activities in the spring. 

Now that the weather has started to warm up we are getting ready to get back to horseback riding in the mountains. We have already been on a few training rides with our Back Country Horseman group and have been enjoying the warmer weather. 

We are excited for the spring and will keep everyone updated on all the fun stuff going on around here. 

Christmas Letter Vol 12

Hello Everyone!

It’s time again to look back and see how much we have accomplished this year. As a family we’ve done pack trips, trail rides and lots of trail service work with help from our Back Country Horsemen group and our new mule Jesse. He’s been a great addition to the herd. We were also able to take a trip to Jackson, Wyoming to see Derek’s family and ride the horses on some neat trails in the Cache Creek Wilderness. In August we went to Fort Collins, CO to see the brand new LDS temple that was built and to see some old friends that are still there. 

We’ve all individually had some big changes as well!

Derek is still loving all the statistical work he does at Sandia, even though he can’t talk about it. He’s looking forward to getting his HAM license soon and he loves hanging out with all those electronic geeks. He was also called into the Bishopric in our ward at church, which means he is now one of the men responsible for the members of our congregation. This has kept him very busy, but he loves the opportunity it gives him to work with the members and especially the youth. 

Heidi is loving second grade. She is excelling in math and especially reading where she is at a 4th grade level. It’s been hard to keep her in books as she goes through them so fast! She also joined 4-H and is looking forward to showing her rabbit Whiskers and some sheep if she can talk dad into it. 

James started kindergarten and is loving it. He has 12 other boys in his class with a few girls so they keep the teacher on her toes! He also joined 4-H and will be showing his rabbit Copper. We told him he could show sheep but he’s got to wait until he’s a bit bigger to show steers, which he really wanted to do. He has started riding his horse by himself and got promoted to riding Yuma since he was doing so well. 

Nichole has been very well, her UC has been in remission for a year now with no significant flair ups. This is huge news in our family. She is also enjoying the free time she has now that the 2 kids are in school and has been taking trail rides with friends, sewing, and also volunteering in the classrooms. She also became a certified substitute teacher and loves giving the kids a high five between classes, they think its cool now but we’re not sure how long this will last. 

We are so thankful for all the blessings that we have received this year. We are especially grateful for the life of Jesus Christ and the opportunities and blessings that it affords us. We wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a safe and Happy New Year.


Derek, Nichole, Heidi and JW


Summer…Fall… How Time Flies

Well, it has been a long time since we have updated the blog, mostly we have had a busy summer and fall. After we got back from Jackson we went up to Fort Collins, CO for the Fort Collins LDS Temple open house. It was amazing to see something the stake started 7 years ago become a reality. We were able to catch up with old friends and spend time looking around the temple grounds. The temple will be a great blessing to those in the area. 


We spent most of the summer and fall in the mountains on pack trips. We were able to pack in supplies for the NPS in Bandolier National Park, a few trips in the Manzanos for the NFS, and our usual trip into Beatty’s cabin over Labor Day. The trip into Bandolier was a great one as we don’t get to ride in the Park and the kids had the opportunity to look around the park and explore the kivas.




During our trip to Beatty’s cabin, we were able to support Dallas’ Eagle Project. Dallas is one of Derek’s YM at church and our neighbor. His project was to restore the steps on the tack shed at the cabin and the BCHNM provided pack support and food for the project. Since we had to pack in supplies we got to spend an extra day at the cabin and in the wilderness (the kids were excited for that, minus the part about getting soaked on the ride in). The project was a great success and all the scouts really enjoyed being in the backcountry.


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Both kids are in school now as JW started Kindergarten and Heidi is in 2nd grade. They both are enjoying school and Nichole has started a substitute teacher to keep her a little busy during the week. Heidi and JW have also started 4-H this year and are cloverbuds. They both wanted to do rabbits and market lambs so we now have rabbits in the barn and sheep soon as winter is over. They are way excited and the 4-H club we joined is really well run and it helps that the kids have friends in it.


This October I went on my first Elk hunt in New Mexico and was able to draw a muzzleloader Bull tag. I was invited to go with friends from BCHNM and was able to harvest an Elk. It was a great trip into the Cruces Basin Wilderness and hope to take the family back there next summer to explore. It was nice to fill the freezer this year with Elk meat and JW is enthralled with the Jerky.



Overall, we have been busy now preparing for the Christmas season as we just finished Thanksgiving up here in NM. We spent the holiday with friends from Church and had a great relaxing break filled with movies (Moana), games, and sleeping.

Derek, Nichole, Heidi, and JW

11 Years and Family Portraits

It has been a busy summer and Nichole and I just celebrated our 11th wedding anniversary. We had a wonderful weekend in Santa Fe and can’t believe how time flies. I love her more than the first day I met her.


We started off the summer with Heidi celebrating her 6th birthday and having two parties. One in New Mexico with her friends and then another party at Grammy and Papa’s in Wyoming. She shared the party with her Aunty Traci who’s birthday is only two days after Heidi’s. We spent the next 10 days up in Jackson riding the horses and enjoying the Tetons. It was a great trip and great to get away from it all and relax.


While in Jackson we had family portraits done by my brother-in-law Matt and they turned out really good.







While in Jackson the kids had the opportunity to see the Park, go see the Firehouse and Firetrucks that Papa gets to play with, and see the old shootout on the square.

We have spent the rest of summer riding in the mountains and doing the trail work. The kids did their first pack trip in the tent as well. We went to Pecos Baldy lake and stayed the night. They enjoyed the trip and were able to see a yearling elk which to Heidi was the highlight. They are already asking when they can go again. Summer is ending for us as school is starting in a couple of weeks and both kids will be starting school. Heidi will be in 2nd grade and JW will be starting Kindergarten. It is hard to believe we have been in New Mexico for over two years.

Derek, Nichole, Heidi, and JW

JW is 5!!

JW just had his 5th birthday on the 31st. I can’t believe how fast time flies. He starts school this next year and Nichole will have the house to herself during the day. I bet the horses will be in good shape! JW got a ton of Legos for his birthday and I am pretty sure he would not have it any other way.

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We also just got back from a our annual camping trip to Panchuela in the Pecos Wilderness. We spent 4 days over Memorial day weekend camping, relaxing, and enjoying the wilderness. Derek and Nichole also received cross-cut certification from the Forest Service over the weekend so they are now “legal” to use the cross-cut saw on BCHNM outings. Derek also used Jesse and hauled 200lbs of salt into the Game and Fish cabin up near Beatty’s Cabin. Jesse has been a great addition to the herd and is going to be a great pack animal. The kids had a wonderful time camping and were tired at the end of each day. They really enjoy the outdoors and being on the horses.

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Summer has started with multiple camping trips planned with friends and family and multiple rides in the Pecos and other spots around the west!

Derek, Nichole, Heidi, and JW

Spring is here in NM…some days

So we have been very busy this spring. We have enjoyed some nice and warm weather and well some not so nice weather as well. Spring Snow showers seem to bring flowers in New Mexico some days. Derek has also had lots of changes to his church calling as he is now the 2nd councilor in the Bishopric at Church. This has thrown the family into a bit of a loop trying to adjust to having him serve in this calling but we are all so excited for the opportunities we have for growth. He is still working with the Youth and especially the Boy Scouts which he loves and is looking forward to doing some camping and working on Eagle Projects.

Nichole’s health is stable as the issues from the Fall have seemed to be resolved. The doctor’s still aren’t sure what caused the flair up but we were all glad when the steroids and antibiotics calmed things down quickly.

Heidi is loving first grade and is one of the top readers in her class. She was also one of the lead roles in a short play they put on in their reading group called ” Frog and Toad.” We may have some more dramatic endeavors in our future.

James has been busy learning all his letters and constantly telling Mommy he knows it all. I just have to remind him that we all have to learn new things everyday and review all the old stuff so we don’t forget. Not sure if he buys it.

On the nice days we have been able to get out and go for some rides in the lower mountains with our Back Country Group. These pictures are of us in the Four Hills area just out side of Albuquerque.

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We also had a visit from some family. Grammy and Papa came for a few days after they went to the NASCAR race in Pheonix. Derek and Patty were able to go to the Albuquerque Temple for a Baptismal session.

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We also had an addition to our heard. Jesse the mule is now the LAST equine to be joining the heard. He is 12 years old and about 1,100 pounds which makes him pretty solid. We are planning on using him to carry all the gear we need for some back country expeditions this year.

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During the short Easter Break from school we took the kids to the Zoo with some friends from church. They enjoyed seeing the animals and playing with their friends.

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Our most recent project that we completed was our back yard fence. We enlarged the yard and took out the funky metal pipe fence posts the previous owners used. We had a fun time working together and the kids even helped out some. The final project looks great .

We are gearing up for our spring service projects with out Back Country Horseman group and plan to start hitting the trails in the next few weeks. Hopefully the snow will be done for the season, but as always above 9,000 feet in New Mexico its a gamble. We are also looking forward to Heidi’s spring break this week where we will try to do some fun things we don’t normally get to do.

Hope all is well!


Christmas and the Blizzard!

Happy 2016!

We hope everyone has a wonderful New Year!

We had a busy Christmas week. The kids had a great Christmas and were excited by what Santa left under the tree, Rescue Bots ( Transformers) and a new Saddle Pad and Unicorn. They also enjoyed a new Tee – Pee from Grammy and Papa that a good friend made. They think it’s the best place to play and read books.

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It wasn’t quite a white Christmas, but we were bombarded the next 2 days with non-stop snow which produced about 20 inches, though with the wind drifting the snow we aren’t quite sure exactly how much we got. The kids have been enjoying going out to play in the snow, sledding and getting pulled around by the Kubota. We helped shovel out a few neighbors when it finally stopped Monday, and ventured to town on Tuesday. The weather has been colder so the snow looks like it will be sticking around for a little while. The horses and dogs are also enjoying the snow in their own ways.

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Since Daddy has been home and we were inside a lot due to the snow, we decided to introduce the kids to Star Wars. Their favorite part was the Ewalks and proceeded to run around the house yelling Ewok attack while brandishing light sabers. It has been pretty funny to watch.

We are looking forwarding to 2016 and all it will bring. Have a safe New Year!

Christmas Letter 2015


Hello Everyone!

We can’t believe it is Christmas time again, this seems to happen faster every year as we keep getting busier and busier!

This year has been pretty amazing as we have gotten familiar with New Mexico and were really able to enjoy riding in the Mountains all summer long.

Derek has been keeping busy at work as he changed positions, he is now in the Statistics Department where he is able to do more research, which he loves, and still work with his old group doing practical applications. He is still working with the Scouts at church and has been able to take them to lots of locations around New Mexico and Colorado to summer camp.

Nichole is still busy with volunteering at the School, working in the Relief Society at Church and being involved with the Back Country Horseman group the family joined in January. She has been able to write several articles highlighting the groups’ work that has been published in the local Horse Around New Mexico Magazine. Her health is steady at the moment after a brief flair up after 7 months of remission. The Humira seems to be helping so the Doctor will let us know how to proceed.

Heidi is enjoying 1st grade and has straight A’s. She has started riding her horse in the mountains by herself and she and Emma make quite the pair. They are the leaders when it comes to water crossings and she seems to enjoy being out in front.

James is our typical boy and likes to keep us on our toes. He is learning his letters and numbers to prepare for Kindergarten next year, which he says he can’t go to until he’s 5. He has started riding Istu by himself, while being ponied by Mom. He seems to like having his own animal to ride, and Mom and Dad enjoy not being elbowed in the ribs the whole way. Due to this development we had to get another horse, so Yuma MMR a 4 year old registered Appaloosa joined the heard as Dad’s horse.

New Mexico has been wonderful and we have been able to go camping and riding with our Back Country group which has been a lot of fun to do as a family. The kids have really taken to it and that makes Derek very happy!

We were also able to make a few trips to see family in Burley, ID Salt Lake City, UT and Yuma, AZ this year and it was good to get the kids to see family they hadn’t seen in a few years.

Our family has been very blessed since our move to New Mexico and we are looking forward to what the future has for us. We are ever grateful for our Savior Jesus Christ and his birth that we get to celebrate at this time of year. We wish you and yours a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!


Derek, Nichole, Heidi and JW


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