Sunday, September 28, 2014

FAMILY LETTER 09.28.14


Dear Loved Ones,                         28 September 2014

Two weeks have passed since our last family letter and it has been mostly sunny, warm, colorful, and busy!
On Monday 9/15 Addie and I joined the community choir and will be singing in a Christmas Concert on December 7th. Mark Mills from our ward is the director and the music is beautiful! So we have choir practice on Monday nights now, and Rich has meetings every other night of the week, so we have to do Family night on Fridays or Sundays. Tuesdays Rich has to go to a scout leader training thing in Belgrade for several weeks in a row, so the kids and I quick did homework, had a pancake dinner, and watched a movie (Hobbit, of course).

Wednesday was such a happy day. My dear friends, Rob & Georgia, welcomed their new daughter into the world. They have been married for 24 years, hoping for children of their own, and finally they were chosen to raise sweet little Moxie through an open adoption. It has been so fun to follow their journey the past 10 days and remember the life-altering experience of having our first child.  Wednesday was also the first night I sent all three of my big kids off to activities together, with Daddy doing scouts: Young Women, Activity Days and Cub Scouts—hooray! The little boys and I snuggled and watched The Roosevelts on PBS Roku.
Thursday 9/18 was a rainy day. We had all the Jones kids over for a playdate—and I had one with their mom, Robyn, too. They are sooo much fun, we had a great time! Aunt Angie came to visit us from Boise. She was in town for a wedding, so she came and had soup and bread with us on the only night that we were all home that week! It was so fun to introduce her to Ammon!

Friday Rich left for Camporee at 4:30 pm and they kids and I had breakfast for dinner and a Lord of the Rings movie marathon over the weekend. Saturday morning we got up and did some chores, and then we went to Helena to visit our Postum cousins and pick up Cousin Cody so he can stay with us and work and save up some money. We had a fun time—we miss Postums a TON! Uncle Matt was working but he came to the park and showed the kids his police truck and uniform. Niles was fascinated. We got home from Helena just after Daddy got home from Camporee. We made a quick dinner, got Cody settled, and got ready for church the next morning.
Sunday morning we left the house at 8:30am. Rich had to give a talk in Gardiner and I had to lead choir practice. So I took all 5 kids to the church and did choir practice, then we went to 3 hours of church, and met Rich back at home for a quick lunch and nap. At 4pm we started making some yummy Korean food—pork stir fry, cucumber kimchi, and regular kimchi—and had the Jones Family over for dinner (we really like Robyn and Lope, plus our girls—Addie and Eden and Clara, and Heidi and Jeanette— kind of had instant girl crushes on each other, so they are always wanting to get together; they also have 3 younger kids who love to play with James and Niles, so it’s fun for all). Brother Jones was just called as the new Young Men’s president and Rich is his 2nd counselor (Jake Tyner as 1st counselor). They’ll do great with the boys! I had a good visit with Cody while we put laundry away and prepared for a new week.

Monday 9/22 was back to the grind; I started to feel really tired and sore throat and achy while cooking dinner, so I dropped everything, chugged and emergenC, and went to bed. I had to skip Community Choir, but Addie went. Rich got the kids to bed and I slept off the beginnings of a cold, all the way until 11am Tuesday.

My sweet friend Robyn brought me green smoothies Tuesday morning while I was asleep. Cody started working with our builder, Mike, who is building a house next to us. It’s not a lot of work, but it’s something. He’s been really helpful at home, too. Rich had to go to Belgrade again, so the kids and I had tacos for dinner and did lots of reading and snuggling. The girls and I made 5 “fangirl”  T-shirts that night, designing them on the computer, printing out iron-ons, the ironing them and peeling them and being super excited (each girl made 2 Sherlock T-Shirts, and Addie made a “Camp Half-Blood” shirt from Percy Jackson to wear on character day at school).

Wednesday was my birthday and I woke up to sweet birthday songs from my littles. They all went off to school and I climbed in bed and snuggled Ammon while I read through lots of sweet birthday wishes on facebook. I asked friends and family to post me a memory or a wish as a gift and they were all so sweet. I really felt loved and was reminded what a blessed life I have lived so far. My visiting teachers came to visit and brought me ice cream. Rich took our family out to dinner at Fiesta en Jalisco to celebrate and gifted me with a kitchen radio/cd/Bluetooth player, which I am over the moon about. I get so much done in there if I can listen to my npr or podcasts or mommy jams! The first thing I did was play a conference talk from my iPad thru the Bluetooth for scripture study Thursday morning. Woo-hoo! Rich and Addie went off to YW/Scouts and I took the other kids home. They were pretty good about getting ready for bed, thank goodness. The day ended with some facetiming with my Brother Sam’s family, which I loved so much—Owen and Gavin were the cherry on top of my very nice day.

Thursday we did the final harvesting of our garden. We thought the nasty freeze would kill all the lettuce but it didn’t! I cut lettuce, probably 60 tomatoes, one sad little yellow squash amongst dozens of black leaves, green beans, chives, about 10 yellow onions, lavender, oregano, thyme, and the little boys dug up about 20 small carrots. James had Kinnick Lowe over after school and they had so much fun together. We had pasta for dinner—shells with alfredo sauce, turkey sausage, and sautéed onions, squash, and green beans from the garden, with a gorgeous green salad full of home grown veggies. Niles was especially excited because he helped me plant those starts way back in May.

Friday was Homecoming for Park High school and the whole town was a-buzz. Heidi and James stayed to march in the homecoming parade from 4-5pm. The parade was led by the first marching band at Park High since 1978, which I think is just AWESOME. Heidi had her friend Sophia over for dinner, then they went to the game with Sophia’s family. We got the littles to bed and Addie and I watched LOTR “Return of the King” since we hadn’t finished it last weekend. It was fun to make Book of Mormon parallels with Addie as we watched; what a wonderful world Tolkein created for us.

Saturday (and the night before) was a very rainy, cold day. It had been 95 degrees on my birthday, but it was only 50 Saturday. Rich finished winterizing the sprinkler system and yard while I finished laundry and chilled with the kids. The girls and I left for Bozeman at 3pm to go to the mall and then to the Women’s Conference/ dinner at the Stake Center. Rich and the boys (including Cody) went to Museum of the Rockies and dinner, then came home and watched “Troll Hunter”. I had such a fun time with my girls. They met up with the Jones girls and the Repscher girls, so we had this long table full of beautiful girls, with mamas on each end listening to the joyful middle school chatter. Then we all sat together, plus Aunt Jenn and her girls,  for the broadcast from Salt Lake City which was sweet. Once again, Deiter F. Uchtdorf hit it out of the park with his remarks. I want to tattoo his words on my girls’ eyelids so they can remember how awesome and divine they really are. It made me so excited for General Conference next week.

So today is Sunday, Fast Sunday, because General Conference is next weekend. I loved how President Uchtdorf referred to the Women's Conference last night as the opening session of general conference. I liked being reminded that the broadcast of General Conference is the grand finale of a week of training and learning and sharing for church members from all around the world. Our testimony meeting was lovely, Rich got to sub in James' class and I got to sub for Primary Chorister. We are now giving the kids a history lesson ala "Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure." All is well!
Much Love to all our family! Happy Birthday and baptism to cousin Matthew Melin, and Happy Birthday to Uncle Sam next Sunday. Have a great week!
Love, Rich and Jamie and Family

Aunt Angie and Ammon are surprised! 9/18

Niles writing a "pretty letter" to Grandma Lyn 9/19

Ammon, James, and Niles kept me company while Rich was away on Camporee

 
Freshly Bathed Ammon

Sweet little teether

I was so surprised to get a calendar from Jane Welch
 in Virginia for my birthday

Ammon looks worried about Niles The Crib Invader

Heidi marching in the homecoming parade (see red arrow) 9/26

The Senior Class Float in the Homecoming Parade--Michaela Claar!

Go, Rangers!

Saturday Morning Snuggles, Niles and Ammon 9/28

Heidi striking a Sherlock pose at Women's Conference

Mallory, Eden, Addie, Clara, and Heidi at
Women's Conference Dinner

Love these girls...even the photo bomber!

Addie and Clara ready for the broadcast

I posted this cute oldie for Throwback Thursday:
Heidi, Jake, James, Sam, and Addie snuggling in 2009

A sweet reminder

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

For The Beauty of the Earth


This evening I left the house for 25 minutes and experienced so much beauty in that short time, I just had to write it down.

 First, as I drove from my house down 5th street, across the railroad crossing and down the old part of the street where the tall trees make a canopy, leaves began to fall and twirl before my car like snowflakes on the wind. Bright yellow and deep burnt orange leaves swirled with hot red ones in the air. Hundreds of leaves at a time would gust and dance as I drove in amazement. The warm magic of fall never gets old for this Arizona girl.

 
A few minutes later, dark clouds blew across our valley and thunder clapped above me. Rain fell lightly and intensified the colors all around. I crossed a footbridge over Fleshman Creek and watched the fall leaves and raindrops on the water, just in awe of the beauty of my town.

 
 

After my errand, as I arrived at my car, I noticed how quickly the dark clouds were blowing away and the sun was reappearing. I looked up to see a double rainbow arching perfectly over Livingston and Livingston Peak. It was almost ridiculous how vivid and lovely the retreating storm looked as I faced east. I drove home facing west, as the last few straggler clouds floated past a beautiful sunset.

 


I pulled up to my house after less than a half hour away and felt refreshed and renewed by the beauty around me, ready to take on bedtime with almost no grumpiness on my part.
 

“Lord of all, to Thee we raise
This, our hymn of grateful praise.”
 
 
 "Fall has always been my favorite season. The time when everything bursts with its last beauty, as if nature had been saving up all year for the grand finale.”   -Lauren De Stefano
 
I am a fan of fall.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

FAMILY LETTER 09.14.14


Dear Loved Ones                                           14 September 2014

 What a great, wild week we have had! The weather has really been playing with us. Last week was a cool, rainy week that ended with an 80-degree Saturday and Sunday. But it got really windy Tuesday, cold and rainy on Wednesday, then it snowed over night! Thursday was very cold, but the sun came out and the snow melted. The overnight low was 21, but then it was warm again by Friday afternoon (just enough cold to kill our garden at home and out at the ranch) The summer was so cool, we never got squash or cucumbers, and most of our tomatoes were just forming little green balls, though I got some romas from our home garden. SADNESS. Crazy Mother Nature.

 So Tuesday was the day that Rich came home from his business trip. I made a special fancy dinner and ended up missing Relief Society night because he was home late and we thought we might have to harvest the ranch that night (we didn’t—it didn’t freeze until Wed. night).  Wednesday after school I took the kids out to start the harvest. We went out in sunshine, arrived there in wind and overcast, and by the time we got to digging up the carrots (after the radishes and lettuce and tomatoes and beans and herbs) it was raining. Rich took care of things up the hill and we stopped for a quick dinner at Rosa’s pizza and sent Addie off to Young Women and James off to his first night of Cub Scouts with Richard (who is still juggling 11 year olds and Deacons and Stake Preparedness). I brought Heidi, Niles, and Ammon home and scrubbed the mud off them and got them ready for bed. We slept well that night!

Thursday we had Niles’ friend Riley over after preschool and they played “Family” and helped me make a nice beef stew with the carrots, onions, herbs, and beans I got from the garden. We also made rolls. Riley told me that she is going to marry Niles and they are going to move to Idaho and live by her Grandma, but if Grandma isn’t alive when she is a grown up girl, they will just move to Driggs. It’s good to have a plan. That night I folded clothes while watching Sherlock with the girls and daddy went to bed early with the boys.

Friday I felt completely wiped out. I was afraid I was getting sick, so I laid low most of the day, chugging emergenC and snuggling my boys. Rich took me out to dinner and Addie babysat, and that was refreshing. I felt better Saturday, so we tackled some major projects. Rich took the kids to get firewood in Clyde Park and I spent about 4 hours gutting and organizing Heidi’s bedroom--not for the faint of heart! Rich took Niles and James on a hike with Uncle Mike and I spent the rest of the day on laundry (and Sherlock) until I remembered at 5:53 that I was supposed to give a talk at a baptism at 6:00! OOPS! I went from wearing yoga pants, an old T-Shirt, and a sweaty bandana, to wearing church clothes, decent hair and makeup with a talk and congratulations card in hand in 10 minutes and I made it during the opening prayer—phew! Shawna Maloney , age 25, was baptized by Elder Wolf and it was a sweet service. Addie made a fabulous dinner while I was gone with chicken, vegetables, Udon noodles, and Yoshida’s sauce…we all LOVED it!

Sunday was our first with our new Bishopric. I led the choir singing “How Great Shall Be Your Joy,” and they did such a nice job. Rich took Addie to Stake Standards night even though I wanted to go, too. We figured he’s the Deacons’ leader so he should be there and I should be home with the littles. Niles has a whole stack of books for me to read to him, so I’d best be going. From all reports, Standards Night was awesome and our week is off to a great start. We wish you all the same!

 

All our love,

Rich and Jamie and Family

Niles in the snow on 9/10

Ammon sleeping (milk-drunk) on his 4-month birthday (9/10)

James, Uncle Mike, and Niles hiking to Pine Creek Falls on 9/13

Waterfall Selfie! Niles, James, and Daddy at the falls on 9/13

Blurry but awesome: Niles and James at the falls

Niles and James playing King of the Rock at Pine Creek 9/13

A facebook postcard I posted for Erin & Heidi.
Thursday was Erin's 21st Baptism Anniversary...
Can't wait to see them in New Jersey in 33 days!
 

Monday, September 08, 2014

FAMILY LETTER 09.08.14


Dear Loved Ones                                8 September 2014


This busy week seemed much longer than the past few for some reason—I can’t believe last Monday was Labor Day!

 Speaking of Labor Day, we had a really nice one, just relaxed and puttered around the house after the big back packing trip. Tuesday we were back to the grind with school and work. Tuesday night was our Young Women’s New Beginnings and YW Recognition Night. It was nicely done and very motivating. I noticed Addie studying her Personal Progress experiences this week. She wants to finish early so she can mentor younger girls and get her honor bee. I’m all for that!

Wednesday we had scouts and Activity Days. Rich helped with the 11 year olds AND the deacons, and James went up to have his baptism interview. At home we did laundry and reading rather than watching PBS, and we had a nice evening. Thursday Rich had Stake Meetings in Bozeman (yes, he still has not been released, so it’s like he’s doing 4 callings, lol) so I had the girls help me get ready for James’ birthday by cleaning the craft room and wrapping his gifts. I promised I would watch “Sherlock” with them if they did their chores, so we were all 6 snuggled up watching when daddy came home.

 Friday morning Rich got up early and cooked a big birthday breakfast for James. He opened a couple of presents and cards that had come in the mail. Heidi stayed home with a sore foot. Rich took her to the clinic later that morning. Turned out she had a sprained foot and they gave her a support and sent her back to school. I went up to the church and set up for James’ Baptism/ birthday celebration. He chose cookies and nachos for refreshments and they were yummy—thanks, Costco! We made a photo collage of him from birth- age 8 just like we have done for the girls, so we put that up on the entry table along with the nice Memory book Nana and Papa Drews sent. The service was sparsely attended, but we expected that on a Friday night. James didn’t care, though—he was so excited to be baptized and confirmed and to have his buddy Kinnick there. The whole bishopric came and the missionaries brought several investigators so that was nice. Afterward we just hung out as a family and got ready for James’ Lego party Saturday morning.

Saturday was all about Legos at our house. Rich was so sweet, he woke up early and gave me a back rub and went and cleaned the kitchen. I showered and fed the baby and did party prep. We had total junk food—left over nachos, pizzas, root beer, cake and ice cream and edible legos! James’ friends were such sweet hearts, so polite and funny, it was really fun to have them here. They went home at 1pm and James just played legos the rest of the day (he got 4 new sets and he has built them all more than once this weekend!). The girls had the Jones girls over (Eden and Clara) for a Sherlock/ Doctor Who marathon. They are such good friends already, I am so glad they moved into our ward (they moved over from Bozeman, staying in Clyde Park until their house near Winans School is ready). I snuck in a nap, then visited with the Joneses when they came to get their girls. We had Subway for dinner and watched more Sherlock and snuggled. It was a fun weekend with all my kiddos.

Sunday was eventful as we got a new bishopric. It was a good meeting, we got to hear from the Stake President, the old bishopric, and the new bishopric (comprised of Trevor Strupp, Aron Kling, and Greg Fawcett). Now Rich is gone to his annual insurance conference in Great Falls and I got Niles off to his first day of pre-school this morning. He was super excited and just got right to work playing when we got there. I love it! This is going to be great for the both of us. So Daddy will be home tomorrow night, just in time for me to go to Relief Society. I feel spoiled—I hate it when he is gone, but I hope he is getting a little rest.

Hope you all had a great week and are enjoying the last of the summer weather. We sure are! Thanks for all your cards and messages encouraging James this week. We love and miss you all!
 

Love, Jamie and Rich and Family

Tuesday was the 4th anniversary of Papa Bill's passing. Seems like forever ago.


Ammon and James...such sweet boys! 9/4
James' Birthday Breakfast 9/5
James' Birthday Pillow
Before James' Baptism
Proud parents, Sweet son

Niles wanted in on the action

James and Daddy- 9/5, 6:30pm
Some of the Legomaniacs at James' Party Saturday 9/6
William, Elanor, Heidi, Kinnick, and James
Ready for cake

Chocolate Zucchini Lego cakes




Sunday, August 31, 2014

FAMILY LETTER 08.31.14


Dear Loved Ones                        31 August 2014

 

I hope we are getting back to weekly letters now that we are back on school schedule. This week was a blur of school preparations.

 
Monday we went to Sacajawea Park and read books (Me- Stitches by Anne Lamott, Girls-The Hobbit) while the boys played in the sandbox. It was the most gloriously perfect day after a week of rain. I’m sure it was a bit nippy for some people at 68 degrees, but that’s the only kind of sunny day I like! It reminded me of spring because everything was so cool and so vivid from the rain. That night we went to the Eastside School Open House and met James’ and Heidi’s teachers.  James will be in Mrs. Fink’s class with his friend Curtis from church. Heidi will be in Ms. Gillespie’s 5th grade, which is the class Addie was in. There is potential for a very fun year. After the open house, Daddy took us to Pickle Barrel for dinner. We haven’t been there for a long time and we had the place to ourselves.
 

Tuesday we just did chores around the house and cleaned and organized the kids’ dressers. That night the missionaries came to dinner. We were excited to try out a new recipe we got for grilled chicken gyros and they were delicious. We ate them with hummus and veggies and had our traditional missionary dessert, s’mores. The Elders left for an appointment and we had Family Night and Father’s blessings. We reviewed last year’s theme (“Try a little harder to be a little better”) and reviewed the goals we had set. Everyone did a pretty good job and we moved on to this year’s theme, “We’re all in this together.” We are going to try to be more unified and willing to help and ask for help when we need it (instead of getting frustrated or fighting).

 
Wednesday was the big day—Heidi & James went to their first day of school. They were so excited; they were up and dressed when we went downstairs to wake them.  Addie was home that day (middle school had delayed start), so we went to Bozeman to but some last minute supplies and locker organizers. That night the Young Women and Young Men had a combined activity. They went to the water hill and went ice blocking. Addie made some yummy brownies for treats. At home the boys had baths and snuggles and watched Super Why.

 
Thursday Addie’s first day of 7th grade. She is so excited to have Mr. Petit for biology and choir with Mrs. Curtis. I helped her crimp her hair and sent her off with the other kids and daddy. I continued to work on laundry and dresser organizing—the kids grow so fast, it’s hard to keep their wardrobes up to date! I took some pictures of the little boys playing so cute down in the basement family room while I folded and mended clothes.

 
Friday morning after the big kids left for school we had a home visit from Niles’ preschool. We met his teachers and set some goals for the year and they spent some time talking to him and getting to know his preferences and personality. He will have the same teacher as Heidi had, so she is well aware of what she is getting in to. We made pizza for dinner and got ready for Daddy’s back packing trip with the big kids.

 Saturday morning Rich and the kids left early to meet up with Uncle Mike in Bozeman and head up in to the mountains on their back packing trip. It was cool and rainy, so it wasn’t the most fun trip, but judging by the photos they had an awesome time together. I stayed home with the little boys. We went to The Museum of the Rockies and it was so fun for Niles to be able to decide how we spent our time. Usually we go as a family and he doesn’t get to do all the things he wants to do. We played the “Build You Own Gecko” computer game and dress-up in the Discovery Room for hours. It was relaxing and fun on a rainy Saturday. We also picked up some stuff at Costco and got dinner (salads) at Wendy’s. I was a little anxious because I had so much to do in the evening (organize my gospel doctrine lesson, finish laundry, make crockpot dinner, etc.) and the boys were NOT falling asleep. I prayed so hard that God would bless me to use my time wisely and do what needed to be done.

 
My personal grooming suffered (as usual), but I got all the needful things done—James’ baptism invitations, led the choir, taught Sunday School, made stew and bread— and we had a beautiful Sabbath Day. The back packers came home after church and got cleaned up and dry and fed and we all took a nice nap. Tonight we are having a Hobbit Fest. Addie and Heidi read the book this summer and they are obsessed, so we are watching the first and second Hobbit movies tonight and having a “birthday party” (cake) for our house—one year ago today we moved in!

 
I’m attaching a page of quotes we used today in Sunday school. Our lesson was about Proverbs and Ecclesiastes, so we discussed a few themes in those two books (wisdom, child rearing, trusting god, etc). One major theme was friendship and I found so many good thoughts on the subject. When we think of our family as our closest friends and treat them with charity, and let that love ripple out from home to our church families and communities, we change the world.
 

We love you and miss you all. We are getting into birthday mode this week preparing for James’ birthday and baptism. Please send us your thoughts/ greetings/ testimonies for him this week. Thanks for the fun letters, Grandpa and Grandma Melin and New Jersey Melins, and for the chats from Sam, Jill, Grandma Lyn, and mom this week.  It’s so good to know how you’re doing. Have a great week! Happy Anniversary tomorrow to Grandpa & Grandma Melin (#48) and to Sara and Rob (#13)!
 

Love,

Rich, Jamie, and Family
 
Wednesday Morning-First Day of School for James and Heidi
Heidi lookin' sassy in 5th grade

James saying goodbye to Ammon on the first day of school

Rub-a-dub-dub, Three Men in a Tub! Wednesday Night Baths

Ice Blocking Youth Activity
Addie sliding with Clara Jones and Kurt Mills

"Dream on, Dreamer!"

Addie on her first day of school

Ammon and Niles playing downstairs on Thursday

Growing up too fast!

Cute Brother-Pals

Heidi and Ammon during family prayer time Thursday night

James wearing Ammon on Friday night
 ***
These pictures ore from Rich on the Back Packing Trip
Our wild hunter boy


Hyalite Lake
(This is where the girls go to camp)


Hiking in the rain

Addie, Heidi, Uncle Mike, and James at Grotto Falls

Uncle Mike setting up camp

Cookin dinner like a boss

Minestrone and biscuits in the rain!

The girls with Uncle Mike eating soup.

Heidi with our traditional camping jiffy pop!

Playing cards and eating jiffy pop in the tent in the rain

Sunday morning hike-Mike, James, Heidi, and Addie

Sunday Hike

Wild Campers Selfie: Rich, Addie, James, Heidi, and Uncle Mike

Happy Campers :)

Heidi

James

Back at the trail head, heading home to get warm and dry Sunday Afternoon
 ***
This is a facebook postcard I thought was hilarious.
I posted it with the caption, "On a T-shirt for family gatherings?"

 
In honor of James' 8th Birthday...James and me
on Mother's Day when he was almost 5.

Four-month old Sweet Baby James