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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Happy Thanksgiving!

Hi Everyone!

Happy Thanksgiving! It has been a very busy November for the Tucker Family, we have enjoyed our first snow storm, which produced a 2 hour school delay for the kids. That allowed them to get some sledding in and a few snow angels before it melted away. They were super excited and keep asking when the next one is coming.

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We were also able to have a visit from our friends the Haynie family, who came down for the Colorado State vs. UNM game. It was really fun to have friends come and visit and even better that CSU won the game. Go RAMS!

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Finally for Thanksgiving we decided to head to Yuma to see Pa and Grandma T, Derek’s grandparents. It was the first time we had seen them in a few years and nice to be able to see where they like to spend their winters. The weather was really nice in the upper sixties and we were able to see Derek’s great aunt Suzie and her husband Kirby as well as Derek’s Mom and Dad who decided take the trip. Derek also drove us into California, just over the river from Yuma so Nichole could say she had finally been there.

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On the way back home we went north to  Montazuma Castle one of the Pueblo’s in Northern Arizona where Grammy lived as a little girl when Great  Grandpa worked for the Park Service. We then went to Sedona and were able to have dinner with the Caresia family ( Gene, Marjean, Courtney, Justin, and Morgan)  as they were there visiting Justin and Morgan who are going to Law School in Phoenix. It was fun to see them as well since it had been the last family reunion since we had seen all of them. It was also really neat to see the rock formations in that area.

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The last stop before we left for home was at Petrified Forest to show the kids another National Park where their Great Grandpa had worked back in the 60’s. James really liked the dinosaur bones that we got to see and Heidi liked all the pink in the Painted Desert.

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All in all a really fun trip but it is nice be back home.


Fall is Here

Fall has finally arrived in Northern New Mexico and has been keeping us busy. We started off with a trip to Burley, ID for Derek’s Grandmother’s 80th birthday party and it was great to see family. Heidi and JW loved seeing great-grandpa and great-grandma. It was also a great time to catch-up with Derek’s family as it has been over a few years since we had seen some of them. We also stopped in Salt Lake City to see Nichole’s sister and brother-in law and show the kids Temple Square. It had been a little over 10years since we had been on the very spot, our wedding day, and the Heidi snapped a pretty good photo of us in front of the temple. It has been nice being closer and having the ability to see them more.

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The weather has been great and we are still riding in the backcountry and we probably took our last trip before the weather turns back into the Pecos. We took a trip to Stewart Lake and took along the pack rods and did a little fishing. JW and Derek were unsuccessful at catching a fish, something about time of day and wrong fishing rod, but JW had a great time. He also caught a blue golf frisbee off the bottom of the lake which he was more than thrilled with.

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The month of October brings the Balloon Fiesta to Albuquerque and Derek’s parents came down for the week which it decided to rain at the house all week. It was actually nice down in Albuquerque, however, the night we went to for the Night Glo was a no-go for wind. We still got a good fireworks show and had a good time showing Grammy and Papa around the area and even spent a day in the old town part of Santa Fe.

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Lastly, the pumpkin patches have opened up all over and the kids went down with our friends from Albuquerque and had a blast picking out their pumpkins and doing all the various activities (there is a pretty good selection of pictures in the gallery). Now, they are excited to carve their pumpkins for Family Home Evening this week and Mom is quickly sewing away making costumes. Also, JW and Derek were able to attend the UNM Homecoming game due to the wonderful generosity of a member of our ward and we both had a great time, and according to Derek, JW wanted food every quarter. Hope everyone has a wonderful Halloween!

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Derek, Nichole, Heidi, and JW

Beatty’s Cabin and Family Portraits

We just got back from a great weekend in the Pecos Wilderness in the Santa Fe National Forest. We packed in on the horses and mules to Beatty’s Cabin which is 7 miles in. The cabin and the area have a neat history (see the book). We were able to stay at the cabin as we were doing maintenance on the cabin for the Forest Service. Some of the things we had to do were fixing the spring box, pluming from the spring box, and oiling the cabin. We spent 4 days/3 nights up in the wilderness and the kids had a wonderful time playing around the cabin, helping, and riding the horses. We went up with Pecos Chapter of the Backcountry Horseman of America so we had plenty of pack stock for food and supplies.

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We were also able to take a couple of rides back deeper into the Pecos Wilderness Area and had some wonderful views. It was great to spend the weekend with wonderful friends and a lot of the members of the group are like surrogate family for us and the kids. It has been great experience for the kids this summer to get out and camp in the wilderness and Heidi’s riding ability has increased immensely since the beginning of the summer.

We also recently had new family pictures taken again (thanks DeAnn Payne!). We went to small town north of Edgewood called Madrid. It is the place where they filmed the small town scenes from Wild Hogs. The town has a neat mining history and little bit of an eclectic feel with all the artists that live there now. DeAnn did a wonderful job and we had a nice morning walking around the town.

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There are a few more horseback trips before the snow flies in the mountains and the kids are begging for one more camping trip and JW wants to take the fishing poles. Every time we have had them the river has been too high or too low or like last weekend I forgot it at the trailer. Hopefully we will get some fishing in on our trip up to Stewart Lake.

Derek, Nichole, Heidi, and JW

10yrs and Exploring NM

Nichole and I celebrated our 10th anniversary on the 29th of July. It has been a wonderful 10 years and we love each other more than we did 10 years ago. We have had our ups and downs, struggles and trials, and many more joy filled moments. We have a two wonderful kids that are growing up so fast and are loving the outdoors just as much as we do. We are truly blessed!

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It is also monsoon season in New Mexico which can make for some pretty wet afternoons and lately weekends. We had a camping trip planned for the Pecos Wilderness and with the inclement weather decided to try our hands heading south where the forecast was a little more favourable (this probably wasn’t going to happen in the mountains, but oh well). We ended up camping in the Lincoln National Forest and riding in the White Mountain Wilderness Area. The forest is located 12 miles north of Ruidoso, NM. It has been wet down there all year and everything was green and the flowers were out. We has 12 stream crossing each way on the trail and were able to get Yuma trained on water and the kids had an enjoyable trip, even though we did get soaked Friday night. Their highlight was roasting hot dogs over the fire for the first time.

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Derek, Nichole, Heidi, and JW

Summer Fun

We have been busy over the past month with summer activities. We have been in the mountains riding the horses almost every weekend and Heidi has become quite the rider. We also purchased another horse, Yuma MMR, and we are finishing Istu off so JW will have his own horse by the end of the summer and the start of next year. So yes we are now back up to 4 horses with more mouths to feed. Heidi has been enthralled with the wildflowers up in the Pecos Wilderness. The flowers have been spectacular this year as we have had a very wet spring/summer which has brought us out of drought conditions. The mountains and desert are very green this year in New Mexico.

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Derek also just got home from a week up at scout camp. He went to San Isabel Scout Ranch which is near Rye, CO. He had a great week and the boys really enjoyed the camp, especially since it had a lake and a good set of the aquatics merit badges. He couldn’t even convince the boys to go on a hike as they would rather be on the lake in a canoe or kayak.

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The kids have been having a good summer and I can’t believe we have a 6yr old and a 4yr old now. Nichole just finished their portraits and as usual they were goofballs the entire time. They are truly the love of our lives.

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Hope everyone is having a great summer.

Derek, Nichole, Heidi, and JW

Spring Riding and Camping

Hey all!

It has been a busy spring and early summer for the Tucker Family. We have been on several rides here in New Mexico and were able to go into Colorado for a fun camp out.

The first few rides and camping were in the Pecos Wilderness area of New Mexico as we spent a cold Memorial Day camping with our Back Country Horseman’s group. We did some trail maintenance and tread work in Jack’s Creek. As the name implies we were working around a creek, and the horses had a bit of trouble remembering what running water was. So we had to work on that a bit and they are doing much better, thanks to some friends and quite a bit of work.

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We did get snowed on a bit while we were up there and it really made us remember what camping during that time of year is like! Heidi and JW had a great time with camping and did really well for it being their first time camping out side of the back yard and for it being so cold.

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We also went down south a bit for some riding in the Manzano mountains and some more trail maintenance there. While there Heidi and JW helped saw the logs that needed to be removed and loved the fact that they could play with the tools.

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The last camping trip we took was to Colorado just outside of Westcliffe. We met up with some old college friends and their kids. The kids out numbered the adults and it was a ton of fun for everyone. Even though it rained a little bit it was a fun time. It was really nice for Derek and Nichole as well as it had been some time since we had seen some of these friends and their kids.

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So far we have been really busy and the horses have been getting  great workouts. Heidi has been enjoying Summer break and we also have been able to have some fun days at home. We are so blessed to be back in the Mountains and be able to share all this fun with the kids.

Hope you all are well.

Nichole, Derek, Heidi and JW


Spring back in the Mountains

Well it has been a while since we have posted. Spring has sprung in the mountains of New Mexico, or some days we still had winter. It has been a little bit of an adjustment to realize that we can’t plant the garden for a few more weeks and snow is still possible over the past few months. Especially as we see the gardens of our friends in Florida and how big and green they are. However, we have loved the weather getting warmer and seeing the kids really enjoy the mountains.

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Over the past couple of months we have taken quite a bit of trips into the surrounding mountains on the horses and Heidi is really becoming a good rider and spending most of the time riding by herself on the trail. The terrain we have been in has been rugged at times and she has handled it well, even the cold wintry weather we had last month. JW is enjoying riding with his Daddy and being outside as much as he can.

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Heidi is doing excellent in school and is getting ready for her progression ceremony out of kindergarten in the next couple of weeks. She continues to excel at Math and stated she wants to be a Veterinarian when she grows up. She loves her animals and being on her horse or playing with the dogs.

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Derek has been extremely busy with work and has started to travel again and is really enjoying the work he is doing. Nichole has been involved with the school and helping Heidi’s class and riding her horses again. Since we have moved to New Mexico we have found some really excellent doctors and have been able to get her UC under control and she has been able to ride for long periods of time and really enjoying it.

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Hope everyone is having a great spring. We are planning on being busy camping with the horses and riding as all the kids want to do this summer is camp.
Derek, Nichole, Heidi, and JW

Winter Riding

Hey ya’ll!

Once again its time for a blog post. We have had a fun few weeks enjoying some snow and some warming temperatures. Heidi had her first snow day and the kids learned how to use a sled. It was so much fun to have the day with them and be able to play in the snow. They have really grown to love the snow and their Daddy could not be prouder.

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We were able to go on a horseback ride on the western side of the Sandia Mountains on Saturday. It was nice to get the horses out and the kids had a fun time as well. It was a nice day and it felt great to be able to ride in the middle of January, and it was fun to be able to explore a new area.

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Derek has been busy with Scouts and work both of which are going very well. The scouts are planning another camp out soon and Derek is looking forward to some more winter camping.

Nichole has been doing well with the new medication and will be off the steroids soon so hopefully the meds will continue to work. She was excited to get back to riding and her leg seems to be doing ok.

We hope you all are doing well!

Winter in New Mexico

I am sitting here watching it snow this morning and realized how much I have missed it and all it brings with it. The kids again are excited every time we have gotten snow regardless of the amount. Though James is now calling it Christmas snow and was upset that it almost all of it was blown away or melted the last time. We will see how long this one lasts as it probably will be melted by Christmas, though we should get more right after Christmas. Things are going well with work and Nichole and the kids are enjoying all the Christmastime has to offer around. I have posted our Christmas letter below for everyones enjoyment. It is a wonderful time of year to share the true gift of Christmas, the birth of Jesus Christ, and that through Him all things are possible.

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Christmas Letter 14

Merry Christmas!

Derek, Nichole, Heidi, and JW