Sunday, April 19, 2015

FAMILY LETTER 04.19.15


Dear Loved Ones                                     

So another busy week full of crazy spring weather has come and gone.  We’ve had snow, sleet, sunshine and sweat all in 6 days. We had two celebrations of Heidi’s birth, two cancelled baseball practices, and one day Rich and I each drove to the school and back three times.

Monday James’ baseball practice was cancelled due to the horrible windy, cold weather.  We recovered from our trip and watched “The Lincoln Hypothesis” by Tim Ballard for Family Night. We learned a lot about Abraham Lincoln, and the next morning realized it was the anniversary of his assassination. The kids thought we were so on the ball, but it was just a coincidence. Tuesday night we took cupcakes to Elanor Jones for her 8th Birthday. She is a great friend to James and we are excited for her baptism on the 25th.

 Wednesday 4/15 was Heidi’s 11th Birthday, aka International Day of Heidi. The day began with pancakes and lots of bacon and OJ. Then I took cupcakes to her class (which ended up taking two trips).  We had angel hair pasta pomodoro and salad for dinner and Grandpa and Grandma Melin joined us. Grandpa was getting around so great on his new knee, he’s’ working really hard on his recovery. Heidi opened some gifts—finally got her Hogwarts uniform—and we had Graham Slam ice cream cones instead of cake. Then we watched a little Heidi slideshow and everyone scattered for YW and Scouts.

On Thursday, we got to go to an assembly at the middle school to honor Addie as Student of the Quarter. Afterward all the kids rode home with me rather than taking the bus, so they got an extra half hour to enjoy the gorgeous weather. All three little boys played with dump trucks in the garden, it was so cute! James’ coach texted us and held a make-up baseball practice since we’d missed two during the snowy weather. So Rich and James got home late from that and we had a leisurely, late taco dinner, did homework and got the kids to bed late. It’s staying light so late, we are already slipping into summer schedule, I think!

Friday 4/17,  we had homemade pizza night and Rich took the kids on a big bike ride (all 5 of them!) while I went over and crashed a craft night some ladies from our stake were having at a vacation rental nearby. I talked to one sister for a while about our auto-immune issues since she noticed we go to the same rheumatologist. I also got to meet my mission president’s granddaughter, Megan…her dad is President Hickman’s son, and her mom is the daughter of Brother and Sister Hammar in Bozeman (Sister Hammar is the organizer of these crafting retreats). Megan just returned from The Argentina Rosario mission and she’s a cool girl. I had fun getting to know these ladies better and stayed up way too late J

Saturday the whole family worked together to get ready for Heidi’s birthday party that evening. Heidi had planned out all the party details, designed the invitations with me last Sunday night, and said she wanted to cook a pasta dinner friends, which she then delegated to Addie and me (she’s a sly one). It was a pretty fun little fangirl shin dig, some of the girls dressed up as wizards or Hobbits. The party was “Slytherin” themed, and Heidi wore her Hogwart’s costume. Addie made her cupcakes and butterbeer for dessert and the girls all tried eating all the nasty Bertie Bots Jelly Beans (flavors like soap and earthworms and ear wax…ewwww).

Sunday (today) we enjoyed Jordy Yarborough’s homecoming talk in sacrament meeting. She bore testimony of the Atonement of Christ and coming to know him more during the extremities of mission life. Missions certainly are a great introduction to the exquisite joys and sorrows of discipleship and parenthood and the Great Plan of Happiness. So glad she went and so glad she is home! She quoted a life-altering talk given by Elder Bednar a few years ago—if you haven’t read it, you should. In fact follow this link and print it out—you’ll want to keep it with you.

Life is sweet, we love you all! Happy Birthday to Cousins Sariah Melin (10) and Kaylee Hamlin (8!) tomorrow and Uncle Marshall (sweet 16!) and Cousin Jack (11) next weekend! Hope to hear from news from y’all this week, email, facebook, whatevs…

 

Love, Rich and Jamie and Family
 
Ammon helped me make chicken tikka masala on Monday.

(from facebook)- He stirred the cheerios
and reminded me of the first rule of toddlerhood:
ONLY GIVE THE BABY AS MANY ___ AS YOU WANT TO PICK UP.
Usually that number is zero, but today he gets about 20 cheerios

When I moved him from the counter to the floor he had a fit and threw his bowl...time to pick up 20 cheerios!

Here's a great shot of his little chompers (and I think that's a bite of his sponge). His top teeth came in on spring break.

Wed 4/15-Heidi opening family gifts on her birthday.
Slytherin water bottle and wearing her Slytherin robe

Tenth Dr. Who Sonic Screwdriver

New bike helmet and lock just in time for spring rides!

Hogwarts Wizard with a Dr. Who screwdriver

Addie with her Student of the Quarter Certificate
 


My heart was smooshed watching all three of my boys play in the dirt together for the first time. 4/16

Gorgeous Day Thursday after a snowy/windy week

TACOS, Lyndi-Style!

Megan Hickman and Me 4/17

Fangirl Birthday Party for Heidi 4/18

Making a wish over Slytherin Cupcakes

Tossin' back some Butterbeer
 (butterscotch ice cream and cream soda floats)

Opening gifts from generous friends

Sophia gave Heidi and lovely grown up jewelry box

An awesome Harry Potter Horcrux watch From Natalie and Rachel

And a Hogwarts dress from Hot Topic! Thanks, Nat and Rach!

Sweet, thoughtful crafty gifts and art supplies from Sydney and Jeanette

Friends hanging out in Heidi's room as the party died down.

Nasty Bertie Bots Jelly Beans

Rachel trying jelly beans...ewwww!
This one was earthworm

Heidi trying a soap jelly bean...James got a vomit bean.

Laughing about the jelly bean flavors.

Our favorite little wizard in his Harry Potter glasses
 
 

Sunday, April 12, 2015

FAMILY LETTER 04.12.15


Dear Loved Ones,                                        12 April 2015

This week turned into a total surprise with both sad and happy elements. Last Sunday we enjoyed a cozy, snowy Easter and General Conference. Sadly, we learned that my (Jamie’s) 28-year old "cousin" (our moms are best friends) Zach Gray passed away in his sleep Saturday. We began planning to attend his funeral in Utah to end our Spring Break.

Monday was still cold and slushy so we stayed home and did some sewing, reading, and laundry by the fire. For FHE we caught up on Book of Mormon reading since we'd missed that morning. We enjoyed watching a close game between Wisconsin and Duke for the NCAA Basketball championship. Duke won, go Blue Devils.

Tuesday we went to the Museum of the Rockies in Bozeman. That night the missionaries came and had a super yummy Middle Eastern dinner with us. Wednesday we finished laundry and got packed for our trip to Utah. (PS: We watched "Israel: The Royal Tour" on Netflix and learned, among other things, that Bibi Netanyahu was once a foxy soccer star and military hero).

 Thursday we drove to Utah, leaving at about 1pm and arriving at Nana's at 9:30pm. We missed Zach's viewing, but we made it to the funeral the next morning. It was such a beautiful service. Zach has been through a lot in his short life and influenced many people from all walks of life. He beat Hodgkin’s disease (lymphoma) as a teenager, and later an addiction with help from MATR services (rehabilitation) and his faith in Jesus Christ. He was just into his second year of sobriety and was about His father's business sharing his testimony and recovery and helping his friends. It was a great surprise to see my sister at the funeral. She is currently in treatment at MATR where Zach was, and a group of them came to honor him, so she was with us through the services and lunch. The meeting gave me renewed hope for her. I forget sometimes that the Atonement really is infinite, and the God really does forgive us 70 times 7...and Jesus can heal anything, in anyone.

Friday night my kids had a sleepover with their Petersen cousins in Lehi, Rich and I and the little boys slept at Nana's one more night. Saturday we got up early so we could take James to play with Cousin Maeby (Uncle Willy and Aunt Audrey showed him the time of his life—THANKS, guys!), and then picked up the other kids to head up to the Salt Lake Temple for the sealing of little Moxie to our friends Rob and Georgia, who have waited 20 years to become parents. It was such a beautiful experience. It was the most gorgeous spring day! There were dozens of weddings and millions of flowers...we loved it and we're so happy for our friends.
Saturday evening we met up with family and went to stay over with Uncle Sam, Aunt Kristen, Owen, and Gavin in Tooele. As usual, Kristen was the quintessential hostess. She gave us a warm welcome, delicious food, comfy beds, cousin playtime, and good company. My girls were a little bummed about spending their last spring break night away from their BFFs and big cousins, so we decided on a girl date with Aunt Kristen. Rich and Sam got all the boys to bed while we went to see Cinderella and got ice cream treats at The Mav. It was a really sweet, comforting, positive experience to end a rollercoaster week.  Then we stayed up late talking with Kristen and Sam for a couple of hours. I love edifying sibling visits like that. 

We want to Sacrament meeting Sunday morning then headed home to Montana, driving 10:30 am til 7pm. It was a peaceful trip, a sunny spring day, a happy ending to our break.

Heidi's 11th birthday is coming up Wednesday and we are so excited…we’ve got some fun surprises in store for her! Hope you all have a beautiful, spring-like week with no allergies (yeah, right!)

Love, Rich and Jamie and Family

PS: Middle Eastern Dinner Recipes!
Mediterranean Kebabs
1 cup plain whole milk Greek yogurt
1 TB olive oil
2 ts curry powder
2 ts paprika
1 ts onion powder
1/8 ts cinnamon
1/2 ts crushed red pepper
2 TB lemon juice
2 ts salt
1/2 ts freshly ground black pepper
1 ts minced garlic
3 pounds of meat
(I used cubed pork loin; boneless skinless chicken thighs and/or breasts work, too)
Large red onion cut into 1-inch squares
 
Combine the yogurt, olive oil, spices, lemon juice, salt, pepper and garlic in a medium mixing bowl.
Place the meat cubes in the bowl and cover with sauce. Let the meat marinade for at least one hour, overnight is ideal.
Thread the meat on to skewers, alternating with the red onions squares.( I used about 6 cubes of meat on 16 wooden skewers). Place the kebabs on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. From this point you can either broil the kebabs on high in your oven, 7-9 minutes, then turn over and broil another 7-9 minutes (til they start to brown)—OR—you can grill them. Just be sure to oil your grill and cook them for about 15 minutes, turning occasionally.
WE SERVED WITH:
·         Spinach Salad with almonds, red onion slivers, and Orange vinaigrette
·         Near East Brand Middle-Eastern Curry Couscous, prepared according to package directions with a half cup of chopped dried fruit and cashews stirred in to steam.
·         A bowl of fresh tangerines
*****
Heidi (Eagle Mask), Niles (binoculars), Addie holding Ammon, and James holding an Eagle at Museum of the Rockies 4/7

James Pitching 4/8

Niles wanted a turn to bat at James' baseball practice 4/8

Roadtrip! 4/9

My sister Jill with Ammon and Me
at Zach's Funeral Lunch 4/10

Niles loves playing at Uncle Drew's House!
"JACK AND BEN!"

After the Bucherts' sealing on Saturday, we met up with our children at the Nauvoo Café on Temple Square.
Addie texted me the entire time we were in the temple panicking because the kids weren't behaving and they couldn't find a place to eat. UGH! We rushed out of the temple to find them and get them fed and missed visiting and photos with our friends...
...but Rich caught this picture of them through the temple gates as we were leaving

And here is the beautiful FOREVER family!
Rob, Moxie, and Georgia Beeee
 
CHURCH SELFIES with Brother Sam in Tooele 4/12
  
Two peas in a pod, these cousins.
Sweetest boys ever.

Saying goodbye after church
Gavin, Owen and James


 

Sunday, April 05, 2015

FAMILY LETTER 04.05.15


Dear Loved Ones:                                                    5 April 2015

 It feels like we’re having spring around here! We’ve had both warm, sunny days and cool, rainy days this week, which is exactly what makes stuff grow, right? However today, EASTER SUNDAY, we’re having a blizzard!

This week we had a Get-to-Know-You BBQ for James’ baseball team on Monday night, so we had a little Easter Family Night on Sunday night. The weather on Monday was a rare perfect sunny day with NO WIND and we had such a good time (except for the allergies afterward…time to start up daily rinsing again). We are excited for James to try baseball this year.

Tuesday was overcast and windy but we didn’t get much rain. I went to the new fancy, expanded Ace Hardware to pick up some gardening supplies.  I’ve never really studied what varieties of vegetables I should plant here and when to start them, so I read a bunch of stuff from MSU in March and planned what we hope will be a better garden this year. Tuesday night we had the Joneses over for some chicken curry and hanging out a bit before they leave for their Spring Break. It was a nice night.
 
Wednesday was supposed to be a reading and sewing day and we worked hard to be sure the house was clean Tuesday night so mommy could chill. HOWEVER, some toast got left in the toaster as the kids left for school and I went back to lay down by Ammon who was miraculously still sleeping. After he woke up and I opened our bedroom door about 45 minutes later, the house was full of smoke. The bread had caught on fire and burned out (Thanks, smoke alarms! You beep at 2am for no reason, but you’re silent during an actual fire. Nice.) So I spent the morning trying to get the smoke smell out of our house. It’s pretty nasty. Everybody went to Scouts/YW/ Activity Days except Mommy, Niles, and Ammon. We had baths and watched Peg Plus Cat (I LOVE that show) and planned our Weekend Menu.

Thursday was the last day of school until April 13th. We had French Dips for dinner and watched a movie and decorated sugar cookies to take to people for Easter (unfortunate people who aren’t traveling on Spring Break like us ;)).

Friday the weather turned cold and rainy and stayed that way all weekend. The kids are on Spring Break until 4/13, and the weather is supposed to be horrible until next Friday. I’m trying to get creative keeping them busy indoors without eating us out of house and home! We had lots of Easter Prep on Friday, and a wonderful general conference over the weekend, so it’s off to a great start. It’s been relatively peaceful and full of good times and good food. We love our family so much and we are so grateful for Jesus’ Atonement!

 Happy, Happy Easter!
 

Love, Rich, Jamie, and Family
Flashback: flying kites at the soccer fields on 3/21
Niles

Addie, Heidi, Niles 3/21

James dodging the dragon kite 3/21

James with his Cub Scout friends at the Pinewood Derby 3/24

Family Night discussion 3/29
Based on THIS talk by Elder Hamula in October Conference
I loved the dual symbols he emphasized in paragraphs 7-9

Addie and Heidi and sisterlove at the park 3/30

Ammon loving the outdoors 3/30

Ammon reaching for birds flying by

Ammon and Mom at thepark 3/30

My Silly Niles Ninja Turtle 3/31

Two silly boys waking me up from a nap on 3/31

Easter Cookies! 4/3

Ammon at the window 4/4

Niles' Easter Chalk

Niles' Easter Chalk People
drawn during a sleet storm on Easter 4/5

Coconut cake with cream filling for Easter dinner...yum!