Monday, September 03, 2018

FAMILY LETTER 09.02.18

Dear Loved Ones,            

The past two weeks have been a whirlwind for us…and now we are 8! We got a new German daughter, Kristina, on August 23! School has started and everyone has had at least two full days of school. I am mostly just driving around doing what my phone tells me to do—between calendared events, emergencies, schedule changes, and papers needing signing, I’ve been on the run quite a bit this week. We are hoping everyone will settle into their groove this coming week and I (well, all of us) will be a little more productive.

Since I last wrote after stake conference on 8/19, we spent most of that week preparing for Kristina’s arrival, which was easier said than done. We have used the guest room as a sewing and craft storage room since we moved in. The room was tidy enough, but the closet was jam packed with stuff, which needed to be sorted and relocated. So that project took several days and it’s only mostly done now. But the room is clean and the closet is freed up for Kristina. On 8/22 Richard had to head to Great Falls for an insurance conference (I usually go with him, but it didn’t work this year). I took the kids out to the ranch to pick apple sauce apples. We picked for about an hour and I brought TJay and Lexi home with me and James stayed out with Matthew. TJay and Addie headed for practice and Heidi had plans with friends, so I had hired Jeanette Jones to come and play with the little kids while I finished up preparing for K’s arrival. I cleaned the kitchen and started dinner, then made up K’s bed with a new duvet set and washed down the walls and furniture. Then I focused on the laundry room, storing the supplies I moved and donating a bunch of stuff to the thrift store and making sure the room was still functional for food storage, laundry, and sewing. It was tricky but I think we did it. The kids had a great time with Jeanette and as I was taking my last load to the thrift store, her mom came by to pick her up. While I was gone, Jeanette and Robyn fed the kids dinner and cleaned up my kitchen! It was such a nice surprise. Kelli also came by to switch kids and take Summer to soccer practice and all three of us had a nice visit. It was so sweet and edifying, just what I needed to get me through the last push of back to school and Kristina preparations.

On Thursday 8/23, we had a regular day of chores and lunch and we made welcome posters for Kristina. I took Addie to XC practice and grabbed some Subway sandwiches for the kids, then headed over to the airport to meet up with Richard and pick up Kristina. She arrived around 9:15pm after traveling about 18 hours (it was 5am Germany time). We brought her straight home and gave her a brief tour of the upstairs and put her to bed.

On Friday 8/24 we all went to cheer Addie on at her first XC meet where she shaved 3 or 4 minutes off her original time on the course. We are so proud of her for doing hard things and improving every week! It was a beautiful morning and we had a great time out at the track. Afterward we came home and fed the kids lunch and helped get the girls packed up to go to Youth Conference—a camping and rafting trip in Gardiner. Rich took Kristina to get registered at PHS and gave her a little tour of the town. He also took her to Mark’s for a late lunch burger and shake. I sent the girls off around 3pm and came home and made a pan of enchiladas for our late dinner and we watched “Coco” with Kristina and told her she would actually be getting a two-for-one cultural exchange with us because I identify as part Mexican, lol. We all went to bed early so Rich and Kristina could get up at 7am and head out to meet up with the youth for the white water rafting adventure. Kristina was on the raft with Summer and Heidi and it sounds like they had a blast. Sunday 8/26 was a nice Sabbath day, but also very busy with 3 hours of church, a ranch birthday dinner for Simon, and a Back to School Family night and Father’s blessings for all the kids. We also invited my friend/ sister we minister to, Adair and her son Antonio so Antonio could have a blessing, too. We introduced out theme of “Forget Yourself and Go to Work” with the idea that our challenges—even depression—become so much more manageable when we reach out and help others, and when we allow others to help us when we need it. The kids had great blessings from their dad and we all collapsed into bed ready to tackle back to school week.

Starting school has been really staggered, with Heidi and Kristina going to orientation from noon to 3:30pm on Monday, and Ammon having an orientation day at preschool. Tuesday Addie, Heidi, Kristina, and James went to school . Seminary began at 6:20am and Addie had XC from 4-6 and Hunter Safety class with James form 6-9pm, so last week was all 15-hour days for her! Wednesday all the big kids and Ammon went to school, but Niles just had orientation from noon-2pm, so he came to Bozeman with me to grab some last minute school supplies. We were on the go all day getting everyone situated, papers signed, fees paid, picks ups and drop offs, etc.  The youth enjoyed a BBQ that night, but only Heidi and Rich attended because our other big kid were busy.  Thursday was finally a “regular” day where all the kids were in school by 8:20am and I got the house cleaned up and the laundry done and even finished up a sewing project when Rich called and invited me to a celebratory lunch at the chop house, after which we promptly began a round of pick-ups. We had a yummy dinner and night of studying for Friday quizzes while James and Addie had their last night of Hunter Safety. Friday Ammon was home with me and we had a chill day of snuggling and watching shows while I sewed and ironed. Addie went straight from XC practice to a team dinner to the first home football game, which turned out to be a real heartbreaker—we tied Belgrade most of the game, but they beat us in the end.  Erica Mildenhall and her cousin Bekah came to stay with us over the weekend from Utah. The boys went to bed early and Heidi and Kristina watched a movie. Saturday was range day for Hunter Safety, after which I took Addie, Heidi, and Kristina to Bozeman for a Korean lunch and some thrift shopping. We also stopped at Target and World Market, both of which blew Kristina’s mind. She was happy to find a giant teddy bear and German candy! We got home and had grilled brats for dinner. Addie went with Clara to Shakespeare in the Parks’ Othello and we hung out at home again. Today we had a lovely fast Sunday and post-church nap. We are headed out to the ranch for tortillas and cheese and s’mores with the cousins and the Smiths. We are excited for Kristina to try her first s’more!

Life is sweet! This week Sweet Baby James turns 12 (9/5) and will be ordained a deacon on 9/9. It’s pretty major, and my mama heart is all mixed emotions, but super proud of him. We have also thought of Papa Bill today on the 8th anniversary of his passing. We miss him so much and are so grateful for his influence that lives on every day of our lives. We love you all and wish you a great week!

Love, Jamie and Rich and Family

PS: Here are a couple of FB posts-

8/22/18: When you come home and find your dearest & her daughter cleaning your kitchen and your heart melts from being ministered to so sweetly...... “individually rising above any mechanical, function-without-feeling routine, to the heartfelt discipleship articulated by the Savior at the conclusion of His earthly ministry. As He prepared to leave His still-innocent and somewhat-confused little band of followers ...He summarized their task in one fundamental commandment: ‘Love one another; as I have loved you. … By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.’ “-Jeffrey R. Holland, April 2018 #dishesaremylovelanguage #sograteful

9/1/18: Today we learned about Kristina’s stuffy obsession when she bought a 5’ bear at the resale shop! After dinner she and Heidi swapped stories of their favorite stuffies and we took a picture of them with said stuffies. Here are my top 3 Kristinaisms from her first week with us:
1) “This high school is exactly—I mean EXACTLY—like all the high schools in American movies we watch!”
2) *I Bluetooth some 80s playlist from my phone while cooking dinner; Peter Schilling’s “Major Tom” comes on* “What?! Why this song? *laughs* This song is SO CRINGEY in Germany” —well it’s what all the cool moms listen to in America, girlfriend! 😎😂
3) (at Target is Bozeman today)”This is the biggest store I have ever seen. Do you get lost here?” Yes, honey. Yes I do. And so do all my dollars.
****


















Sunday, August 19, 2018

FAMILY LETTER 08.19.18


Dear Loved Ones,                                                                                                                                  

This has been a bit of a hum-drum week, busy but not frantic, and full of interesting and inspiring experiences. The Young Actors’ Workshop continued this week, so James and his cousins (hence forth known as the Jellis for “Jess and Kelli’s kids”) attended from 9am- 4pm every day and  worked hard to prepare to perform “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat” in three shows this weekend. Addie had work and Cross Country practice every day, and she also squeezed in an interview to serve as a Big Sister in BBBS for community service. I’ve been trying to entertain the little boys with trips to the pool and yard work and exploring the river and painting and hiding rocks this week. Rich is working hard as usual.

Tuesday 8/14 my mom came over to visit around noon just as I was finishing up a morning of laundry. I had awoken with a severe cramp in my back that was restricting my breathing, so mom came with me to an emergency chiropractic appointment at 12:30. It turned out to be a combination of stiff muscles from too much sun combined with a gallbladder attack. I have gone on a cleansing diet for a few weeks (no pork, very little fat) and I am taking beet/bile, papaya, and vitamin F supplements to get everything clean & hopefully avoid surgery. So that was fun. Afterward mom and I collected river rocks and made lunch and took the boys to the pool. I had to shuttle kids all over creation between 3:40- and 4:15, so mom stayed at the pool with the little boys until 4:30, then we all came home and got ready to go to the airport, and Mom headed back up to Matt’s house in Helena where she has been staying. Heidi made a friend online from one of her art sharing accounts. They have become good friends, so Heidi invited her to come stay with us for a few days. We picked up this friend, June, from the airport Tuesday evening and she spent four days hanging out with Heidi and her friends, mostly watching their favorite anime shows in the basement. She went home early Saturday morning.

Wednesday 8/15 (Happy Birthday, Mom!) we had another busy day of chores and driving people around. The YA Workshop presented a showcase of the skills and skits they have been practicing in addition to “Joseph” rehearsals, so Addie and I took the little boys to enjoy that between 2:30 and 4pm. Then I ran Addie to Cross Country practice, came back to the theater and got James, ran home and made dinner for the little guys, then Rich took James and Addie and some other youth to the Stake Youth BBQ that night. Heidi and her friend spent the day downtown thrifting and lunching, and stayed home for a movie night. Thursday was more of the same—we painted rocks and had a home visit from Ammon’s preschool teachers.  Addie needed to go to Bozeman to buy a backpack she has had her eye on at Eddie Bauer, so after practice we made a little date of it and grabbed some Olive Garden dinner and looked for good running shorts (no Nike products at Target, darn it). We had a really good time.

Friday 8/16 we did morning chores and ate lunch and Naomi Johnson took my boys with her boys to the pool for the afternoon. Addie and I went to see the dress rehearsal for “Joseph” and we were blown away. The song “Any Dream Will Do” just always shoots me in the heart, and the voices of 130 kids surrounding us and singing it was just so moving. I had spontaneous, unexpected tears! And the rest of the show was super entertaining as well. We loved it! Rich took Niles to the evening performance, then Addie, Heidi and Ammon attended the Saturday matinee. I’m so glad James got to have that experience with his cousins.

Saturday 8/18, Rich and I headed over to Bozeman for the Leadership and Adult sessions of Stake Conference with our Area Authority, Elder James Evanson.  The whole day had been peaceful and uplifting, so we were really looking forward to being “fed” at these meetings. We were more edified than I can even find words to say. I can’t put my finger on one talk, but the spirit of the meeting was something special. We did hear the most beautiful, eloquent conversion story I have ever heard from a young college-aged, recently married sister. Her two main points were that God has the power to work in our lives in ways that are incomprehensible to us, and that the scriptures—especially the Book of Mormon—have a power that is also beyond our ability to understand—“even the most faithful among us cannot comprehend the power that flows from scriptures into our lives.” She told about her experience of praying to know the Book of Mormon was true and a voice answering her prayer, “I already told you in its pages,” so she let the book fall open randomly and read Moroni 7:13 (look it up! It’s an amazing answer!). Her testimony really brought The Fire and it stayed the whole meeting. I am grateful for a merciful God who gives us strength and encouragement through His living servants and fills our hearts “pressed down, shaken together, and running over.” Even through all of life’s challenges and drudgery and tragedy, we find joy and light and “compensatory blessings” in and through the gospel of Jesus Christ. We are the luckiest.

Have a great week! –Love Jamie and Rich and Family


Niles 8/15 Yellowstone River

Mighty Niles 8/15
Ammon and Niles on a brother adventure 8/15

They crossed the river all by themselves!
There was a point where I got up to run over and help them,
but I was constrained to let them help each other
climb the rocks on the other bank where they were exploring
 and return to me when it was time to go.
 I had great visions of future adventures for
these two together.


Chasing tadpoles

Workshop skits on Wednesday 8/15

Add caption

Addie on our date 8/16

Niece Lexi as Angel in "Joseph"

James as Pharaoh's Guard in "Joseph"

Go, go, go Joseph!

Niece Summer as a Brother's Wife

James on the right guarding Joseph

Jacob returning the coat to Joseph


Sunday, August 12, 2018

FAMILY LETTER 08.12.18


Dear Loved Ones,          

This week, our lush Montana paradise dried up like so many raisins in the California sun, with 100-degree temperatures and no moisture.  I’m not complaining because the summer has been mild and we’ve had plenty of rain and we aren’t on fire like much of the west. But the sky is tan and the air feels like a hairdryer and smells like a campfire and the sunsets are apocalyptic. Typical August stuff (this dang month is hard for me). This week has been surreal in other ways as well. It’s our first week of having cousins living nearby and so far, that’s awesome! It was also the first week of theater workshop for James and three of his cousins so they are gone from 8:45-4pm. Fall sports training began this week so football and soccer have 2-a-days the next two weeks, and Addie has cross country training every afternoon. I spent two days this week getting the kids registered for school and fees paid, etc.  We also got called out of the blue two weeks ago and asked if we were still interested in being Youth for Understanding foreign exchange student hosts (this is something we registered for 11 years ago after we had such a nice experience hosting Peter and Zuzi from Slovakia). We thought about it and decided it would be fun, so we had a home visit and interview for the whole family Monday and chose a German girl to come live with us for the school year. They are still trying to get things squared away at the high school for her, but she should be here within the month. So I have to clean out the guest room and make it livable for a 16 year old girl, so all my crafty/sewing things are moving to the basement. As much as I hate getting so busy all of a sudden, it’s nice to be forced into getting back to a school schedule and going to bed at a decent hour.

This Wednesday 8/8, Rich took the Young Men on a river float for their activity. They set out around 5:30 and floated a while, then stopped and roasted hot dogs and had a lesson about the river of filth in Lehi’s dream, then floated to the ranch and came home around 9pm. It sounds like a great time was had by all. A couple of the boys brought friends, and James and his cousin Matthew got to join in the fun since they are the only 11-year-old scouts left (and they’ll be 12 in a few weeks). Saturday 8/11 after morning sports practice, we all had the day free, so we floated the river between 2:30-4:30pm. It was super-hot, but we were blessed with some overcast skies the first half of our float. The other half we just kept rolling off our tubes and dipping ourselves in the cold river water to beat the blazing 101* sun. We didn’t have any crazy mishaps this trip. Our kids took our new kayaks and they did a great job maneuvering the river. After the float, the cousins had to head back in to town for their evening practices and our family headed to Fiesta en Jalisco for dinner—because Mexican weather calls for Mexican food. We got home around 8pm and got our tired river rats to bed pretty early.

This morning 8/12, I realized I had never heard or read Elder Godoy’s conference talk from April, so I watched it and I was so touched by it. He said, “Personal sacrifice…gives sacred things meaning” and “The sacrifices our loved ones make for us refresh us like cool water in the middle of the desert. Such sacrifice brings hope and motivation.” It made me ponder how in our culture of ease and convenience, sacrifice is such a foreign concept. But Hugh Nibley said, in this life we are showing God our preferences everyday by our choices. We have the chance to give up something good for something much better, but do we keep our eye on that prize? Do we sacrifice good for best, or just rest on the good because, hey, at least it’s not BAD? I am keenly aware of the times I am “coasting” and I am grateful for Elder Godoy’s invitation to bring honor to my daily life and make the every-day sacred through sacrifice and consecration. Our Sunday meetings were awesome today. Grandpa and Grandma Melin got to speak to us representing the temple presidency and their talks were moving as usual. Grandma talked about the many sacrifices that have been made by people to get to the temple and reiterated that the blessing offered in the temple are worth every sacrifice. Grandpa had all the Primary children stand up and tell him what CTR means when you’re in Primary. They all said “Choose the Right” enthusiastically. Then he told them when they turn 12, CTR starts to mean something else: “Current Temple Recommend.” He said that kind of CTR is a symbol that we are choosing the right and trying to be like Jesus for the rest of our lives. It was so sweet to hear from them in that setting. We celebrated Cousin TJay’s 16th birthday this afternoon at the ranch with a yummy BBQ rib dinner and cake, then we went to Tiffany Parsons’ missionary fireside. She did an AMAZING job telling us about her mission. She covered the nature and culture, the motto and spirit of the mission, the funny mishaps and challenges, and the most sacred conversion stories. Her testimony blew us away. I am excited to see her future unfold as she heads down to BYU this week.

We love you all and wish you another great week!
Love, Jamie and Rich and Family

Nephew Simon ready for the River 8/11

Heidi and Rich ready for the River 8/11

Niles and Niece Lexi 8/11

James and Nephew Matthew 8/11

Ammon and his oar 8/11

Proof of last week's deathly heat 8/11/18 5pm
A favorite meme, hahahaha


Sunday, August 05, 2018

FAMILY LETTER 08.05.18


Dear Loved Ones,            

We sure are grateful for Montana weather this weekend--it was way too hot for us in Utah! But we love the people we went to visit and we made some great memories so all the sweating was worth it.

On Monday 7/23, I was in kind of a funk I really couldn’t get going. But I do remember reading missionary letters and emailing a couple of our missionary loved ones and that made me feel better (Maggie Egan’s letter especially crack me up).  I’m so grateful for my friends who share their missionary kids with me—their letters are awesome! Tuesday 7/24 was Pioneer Day!  I got myself together and had scriptures and prayers with the kids, got our chores done, ran some errands, then came home and made a big poster to take to the airport to welcome sister Tiffany Parsons home from the California Roseville mission. After lunch we went shopping in Bozeman got the boys haircuts, then we went to the airport to see Tiffany. It was a tearful homecoming, as they usually are. Her adoptive family was there in matching T-shirts cheering her on even though they are not members of the church; it was a beautiful sight!!  We’re so proud of her we love her! I read some Pioneer Day memes that reminded me of Tiffany’s courage in joining the church on her own as a high school junior and serving a mission. Sister Bonnie D. Parkin said, “Years from now your grandchildren will tell with amazement stories of your choices which changed their lives. You will be called their Pioneers. Have you ever thought that as you step into the unknown, you are showing others the way?”
 And this beauty from Dieter F. Uchtdorf: “I claim the legacies of today’s modern-day Church pioneers who live in every nation and whose own stories of perseverance, faith, and sacrifice add glorious new verses to the great chorus of the latter-day anthem of the kingdom of God.”
 I thought it was a great way to spend pioneer day, welcoming home a modern day pioneer!

 On the evening of 7/25, Rich took all of the kids to the youth activity at Pine Creek. He made Dutch oven cobblers while the youth hiked up to the waterfalls and back. Several of the youth came home to our house after the activity and watched a movie and I took the last of them home at midnight. On Thursday 7/26, we had another lazy summer day of getting up late and doing some chores and watching a movie. That night, Rich took Addie and Heidi to see Imagine Dragons in concert and Bozeman. It was a double daddy daughter date with the Jones girls and their dad, Lope. I stayed home and got the little boys to bed but I really enjoyed the video clips and commentary I got from the concert. It looked amazing and I’m so glad they got to go. On Friday 7/27 we had to really bust a move and clean her house and get some laundry done as well as getting the girls packed for camp. I can’t remember what took so long but it was such a busy day!!!  I got us packed and in bed ready to leave at 8 o’clock in the morning. Saturday 7/28 we took two cars on a trip down to Utah. Rich drove  the boys in his outback, I drove the girls in my van. We took Izzi  Petry with us as a gift for her 16th birthday and it was so fun to have her along for the ride! We also picked up our great-nephew, Zecklin Oslin in Bozeman and took him to meet up with his daddy and Nana in Utah. We all met up for lunch at Chick-fil-A in Ammon, Idaho, and then we all traveled down to Centerville, Utah to stay over with my sister Rhonda and her family. It was a joyful reunion when we arrived. We really missed those kids! They had made a delicious tamale dinner for us and they had a huge yard with lots of things to play on,  so all 14 kids got their wiggles out while we adults visited and enjoyed tamales. Lisa and Cody (Zecklin’s Nana and Dad) could only stay for a little while; they had to get to bed and turn around drive back to Arizona on Sunday to go to work on Monday. But it was good to see them for a few minutes. On Sunday 7/29, we attended church with the Mullins family in Centerville and were treated to a sacrament meeting presented by sisters from the Temple Square mission as well as talks from their president and his wife (the Batemans). It was beautiful to hear how far reaching their work is and to hear their missionary test testimonies. After church we went back to Mullinses’ house and ate leftovers for lunch and had a little nap. Clinton smoked a big pork shoulder overnight and all day for Sunday dinner.  Rhonda hosted a Layton family potluck dinner that night. Sam was able to come over with his family, but Will was in Australia, so we missed his family. It was so great to see everybody. Ryan and Kara have a brand new tiny baby named Cody, and their sons Wyatt and James joined us as well. We also got to Josh and Erin and their three kids (Kennedy, Piper, and Max). After dinner and a dessert of many pies and cookies and treats and a few be stings in the backyard, Uncle Clinton busted out his karaoke machine and the cousins sang karaoke songs til nearly midnight. It was a total blast!! We won’t soon forget the cousins’ perfect rendition of the BadLipReading “Seagulls Stop IT Now” song,  Addie’s and Heidi’s beautiful “Can’t Help Falling in Love,” or little Mairi Layton singing “Shake it Off.”

On Monday morning  7/30 we said goodbye to the sweet Mullins family, picked up Izzi in Farmington,  and headed south to IKEA to find a couch for the playroom. We also stopped to visit Petersens in Lehi and left the boys there to play with cousins. Jill came with me down to Provo to visit the Bucherts. Ellen and Jenny, and Lily Egan came over to Rob and Georgia‘s house and we had a little visit them and their cute daughter Moxie.  We had dropped Addie and Heidi and Izzi at the mall in Provo, so we picked them up and headed out to Tooele for dinner at Sam’s house. We were just late enough to hit the 5 o’clock traffic but we made it by 6:45. We stopped at Brittany Casper’s mission apartment to give her a big hug just a few minutes before she left to go to the mission home to fly home on Tuesday! It was a sweet reunion—I love that girl so much! We headed across the street and around the corner to Sam’s and enjoyed a taco dinner prepared by Kristen and a little family night with Sam’s family and my mom and my sister-in-law Amber and her children (Michael was also out of town). Ally and her boyfriend Tanner also joined us and after dinner, they took Addie and Heidi and Izzi out to Sandy for a sleepover at grandma Petersen‘s house. The air conditioning at Petersen’s house is broken so the girls didn’t want to sleep there. They had fun and ended up back in Lehi in the morning. They wanted to go to the dinosaur museum and so did the boys,  so Richard and I decided that would be our activity on Tuesday. Kristen brought her kids and we all met up for lunch at Thanksgiving Point with Uncle Drew and Petersens and Addie and Heidi and Izzi. After the museum we took Izzi up to Murray to meet up with her grandma to have a sleepover in Bountiful, then headed back out to Tooele and had a nice evening with Sam & Kristen. After dinner and getting the kids settled down for bed, Kristen and I and my mom took Addie and Heidi to the theater to see the second “Mama Mia" movie that just came out. It was just a stupid as the first one, but we sure enjoyed the Abba music and being out together. On Wednesday 8/1 our family headed to Salt Lake City to visit Temple Square. We parked at the conference center and went to the North Visitors Center first then we decided to go to the top of the church office building, then we saw a movie and the Joseph Smith building, then we had lunch at the mall and picked up some things at Deseret book. Izzi met up with us there and the girls shopped a little while we took the younger boys to the Church Museum of History and Art and checked out the new children’s exhibit about the life of Christ. We saw some beautiful art as well. At 3 o’clock we headed back to our car and back to Tooele where we had dinner and Rich took Addie and Heidi and James to the USANA amphitheater to find us a good spot on the lawn to watch The Pixies and Weezer concert, which was the main reason for our trip. I joined him later with Sam and Niles after we got Ammon to bed and left him with Kristen. We were a little late but we got to see most of the Pixies’ set and they were amazing.  I was a little resentful of the new girl, but she rocks just as well as Kim Deal. The show was a lot more fun than I thought it would be. Once the sun went down, the weather was perfect and the kids had a blast. I kept looking around at these familiar, middle aged faces, and thought, I bet a bunch of my college friends are here, but we would never recognize each other after 25 years. The Weezer show was fast paced and funny and over too soon. I thought they would play a lot of songs from Pacific Dream (their latest album), but it was mostly oldies, which was perfect for me and Rich and Sam—all our 1995 dreams came true! As we left the concert, the boys decided to ride together in Sam’s car and I took the girls in the van. They wanted to continue our tradition of going to Denny’s after the rock show, so we stopped in Lake Point at a lame little Denny’s and had some Grand Slams and laughed ourselves silly. This may not have been the wisest choice, knowing that I had to drive like 450 miles on four hours of sleep, but it was worth it for the memories. We got to sleep by 1 AM and woke up at 4:30 AM, loaded up, and left the Layton‘s house about 5:20AM on Thursday, 8/ 2. I was surprised how much traffic there already was, but we got out of the city and up to Idaho pretty quickly. Richard and the boys were right behind us around 7 o’clock but they hit the morning traffic which slowed them down. They got home to Livingston around 5PM.  I drove the girls through Yellowstone Park to their girls camp in Cooke City. The drive up to Yellowstone was perfect and beautiful, but the traffic inside the park was terrible. To give you some perspective, we entered the park at West Yellowstone at 11:45 and we got to Madison Junction at 1 o’clock. That road is 14 miles long! Once we passed the junction, we didn’t have any major traffic jams, just pockets of slowness, so we didn’t get to girls camp till 3:30PM. The girls unloaded and jumped right into the activities. I stayed to visit for a little bit with the leaders and put together some little care packages to stick in the girls’ camp mailboxes, then I headed home at 5 PM. The drive through the Lamar Valley up to Mammoth was so beautiful, I didn’t even mind how tired I was. There was a microburst as I was driving and I thought I might get blown off the road. Several trees were down and the rain fell in hard sheets and then suddenly the storm was gone. The whole thing was about 15 minutes, but it left a beautiful sunset behind. I got home around 8 o’clock, ate some dinner and went to bed with my little guys, all worn out from a really great trip.

On Friday 8/3 we got up and worked hard on chores thinking we would spend the afternoon at the pool… it’s been a long time since we went swimming. But a big storm blew in in the afternoon so we watched movies and finish laundry. To break up the day,  I took the boys to the car wash to wash all the mud off the car and vacuum it out even though it was about to rain. On Saturday 8/4 we all loaded up and went to Bozeman to shop for some school supplies and some new curtains in the living room. Heidi got home from camp around 2:30 just as we were driving home from Bozeman. She had a great experience but she was very tired.  We came home and did some chores and our Melin cousins came over to visit while Gram & Gramp went to pick up their parents from a rental car place after they had returned their moving van in Logan, Utah (long story—Penske doesn’t operate in MT). Our California Melin Cousins finally live in Montana! We are so happy!  We are so happy to have them here and the kids had a blast together Saturday afternoon. We roasted brats for dinner and Jess & Kelli picked up the kids around 6 o’clock. We got stuff ready for Sunday, watched a movie, and went to bed early. Addie stayed an extra day in Cooke City to hang out with the Denniston girls. They’ll be back in town Sunday night to start the theater workshop on Monday. The only one of my kids doing the theater workshop this year is James, but Cousins Summer and Matthew will be joining him and they’ll be performing Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat two weekends from now. I’m really looking forward to that.

We had a nice fast and testimony meeting today and I had a great lesson with my CTR class about preparing for baptism. They’re such fun kids. We just had naps and we’re getting ready to make tortillas and cheese have dinner. We had a lot of cousin time this summer and I feel like there’s no better way to spend the summer.  I’m grateful my kids have such a large extended family that loves them and supports them so much. We are grateful for everyone who made an effort to visit us or host us this week and I apologize to everybody we missed. We love you all and we wish you another happy week!

Love, Jamie and Rich and Family


"Reverent" Family Home Evening 7/23

"Nobody can touch my Cheese Nipples!" FHE 7/23

Family Home Evening Stories 7/23

Welcome Home, Sister Parsons! 7/24

Tiffany's whole fan club 7/24

Sweet boys at Dinner 7/26

Daddy-Daughter Date to Imagine Dragons 7/26

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Driving to Utah on 7/28

Lisa and Me 7/28 at Rhonda's House

Zecklin and Ammon 7/28

James and Max 7/29

Max and Kate 7/29

Kate, Carter and Addie 7/29

Ammon and Reese 7/29

Reese 7/29

Aubrey and Ellie 7/29

Nathan and Lexi 7/29

Kristen and Sam Layton 7/29

Clinton and Rhonda Mullins 7/29

Ryan's James Layton 7/29

Sam's Mairi Layton, crying cuz she can't reach the pedals!

Sam's Gavin Layton 7/29

Ryan and Kara Layton 7/29

Josh and Erin Craft 7/29

Erin's Piper Craft 7/29

Rhonda's Carter Mullins 7/29

Our Teenagers : Heidi, Kennedy (Erin), Addie, and Aubrey (Rhonda)

Rhonda's Lexi Mullins

Rhonda's Ellie and Kate 7/29

Our Wild Boys: Owen (Sam), Big James, Little James (Ryan),
Max Craft (Erin), Nathan (Rhonda), and Wyatt (Ryan).

Story time with Addie: Ellie, Max Mullins, Reese, and Addie 7/29

Kara, Baby Cody, and Rhonda 7/29

Cousin Karaoke: Niles singing "Pour Some Sugar on Me"

Cousin Karaoke: Aubrey, Kate, and Addie
 singing "We Are Never Getting Back Together"

Cousin Karaoke: Mairi singing "Shake it Off"
with some help from her mom.

Watch out, Taylor!

Cute Mullins Goodbye Squad 7/30
Lexi, Kate, Max with Carter, and Ellie.

We went back for a bag we forgot 5 minutes later and saw this
second Goodbye Squad: Kenedy, Reese, Ellie, Kate, Lexi, and Max

Moxie Bucjert giving Jill a snake treatment 7/30

Mighty Mox! 7/30

Hugs for Sister Casper on her last night in the mission 7/30

Izzi and Addie at lunch 7/31

Izzi Petersen 7/31

Kristen and Mairi 7/31

Gavin 7/31

Bat-Gavin and Niles 7/31

How Rich and I felt in the Utah Heat
(I'm a goofy goober, yeah....)

The Fam at Temple Square 8/1

Forever Family at Temple Square 8/1

James in the JSMB Legacy Theater

Niles in the Children's room at the History Museum


Heidi making art at the museum


Jorje Coco Santangelo's "Sacrocubism" Painting of Sermon on the Mount.

Heidi looking at a breathtaking Carthage painting 8/1

James in front of a gorgeous Nauvoo winter scene 8/1


James' First Concert-- The Pixies! 8/1
Heidi and Addie waiting for Weezer 8/1

Weezer had three sets; this is the second, The Garage.
The first was Al's from Happy Days for their Buddy Holly opener, and the
third was lights a cubes with pyrotechnics like an 80s hairband.
Rivers even donned a muscle shirt (ouch).

Heidi, Izzi, Addie, and James rockin

SO EXCITED!

After the show with Rachel and Adam Crump. Good time had by all!

Addie at Denny's

Heidi at Denny's

Delirious at Denny's

Cute Izzi at Denny's

Dropped the girls at camp in Cooke City 8/2

Yellowstone Microburst 8/2

Bison thinkin' about headbutting my door

Lots of downed trees and power outtages on the way home 8/2

Our new couch back at home 8/3



FAMILY LETTER 09.02.18

Dear Loved Ones,               The past two weeks have been a whirlwind for us…and now we are 8! We got a new German daughter, Kristin...