Sunday, March 29, 2015

FAMILY LETTER 03.29.15


Dear Loved Ones:                                  

 What a wild week this has been! We take for granted how relatively peaceful our regular life is and how much we enjoy being home (and conversely, HATE running around in traffic and in stores, etc…I’ve become such a hermit!-J).


On Monday, Rich noticed there were a few Certified Pre-Owned Honda Odysseys at the Bozeman dealer, which seriously NEVER happens (we’ve been watching for 18 months), so he suggested we go check them out on his lunch break because he had to go to Bozeman to pick up the Scout Trailer anyway. So we went and ended up buying one of the vans right then because we knew it would go fast. It was a good deal, $30k miles, basic but luxurious compared to the old Caravan. So that was a pretty amazing surprise.
 
On Tuesday 3/24 I ran errands in Bozeman (picked up a Craigslist car seat for the new van since we don’t have built-in ones anymore, did office errands, etc.). That night we went to James’ first Pinewood Derby and it was a ton of fun! He came in third place over 10 races, and was only 6/100ths of a second behind the second place car…tight races, but the boys didn’t even care. They were just happy to be together and had so much fun racing their cars.


On Wednesday 3/25 we had a bit of a catch up day at home. Rich and Addie are the only ones who had to go up to the church.  Addie had her temple recommend interview then they had a combined activity to watch “Meet The Mormons.” I had some good snuggles with the kids here at home—we watched a Goosebumps movie at James’ request.
 

Thursday 3/26 I cleaned up our flower bed, then after preschool, Niles and I put up Easter decorations. Niles got to meet a big dinosaur at preschool that day and his mind was on dinos the rest of the day! That night was very eventful. Aaron Roberts came to stay with us while he was getting his job and housing in order so his family can move back here from Idaho this summer. They left last summer, but know they belong here, so they are coming back and we are happy about that since our kids were good friends. He joined us and The Joneses and Grandma Melin for dinner at Heidi’s Fifth Grade Restaurant fundraiser. The kids worked with their teachers and local businesses to plan a menu and get food donations for this dinner. Then they sold tickets and worked in the kitchen and as hosts and servers and busboys to earn money for a cultural exchange with native kids from their sister school in Pryor Montana (Crow and Northern Cheyenne).  At the end of the year they will host a dinner for their friends with the money they earned form this dinner. It was delicious and tons of fun. After the dinner we watched the Arizona-Xavier Sweet 16 game…it was close, but AZ pulled it off. Addie got ready for her big field trip to Billings for the State Science Fair.

Friday 3/27 Addie left for the science fair, I did errands in Bozeman AGAIN, and Rich took me on a date to the movies to see “The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (for the elderly and beautiful).” I loved both the first and second movies—highly recommended. I love me some Indian dance numbers!

Saturday morning Kelsey Gray came over to babysit while we (Rich and Jamie) got up early (6:45) and headed to Billings. We picked up Addie from the Science Fair and took her and Lincoln Jeffrey over to the temple and joined the youth to do baptisms for over 200 family names prepared by our ward. It was sweet! We had some CafĂ© Rio lunch and headed home in the APOCALYPSE. There was a 70-80 mph wind with a dust storm and a wildfire on both sides of the interstate with horrible smoke lots of areas of zero visibility, plus a 5-car pileup crash. It was truly a miracle that seven cars full of temple attendees came through that storm safely. We made it home by 3:40, picked up Heidi and Grandma and Jordyn Yarborough, and drove to Bozeman for Women’s Conference (dinner and broadcast starting at 4:30pm). It was so sweet to be there with my girls and be reminded of all we can do as women. I felt so grateful that we were all safe and together.

Sunday 3/29 we were so happy to see Grandpa Melin at sacrament meeting with his new knee! Tomorrow marks two weeks since his surgery and he is doing well. He had some swelling and redness, so they gave him antibiotics and he is healing better. Today was our Fast and Testimony meeting, and it was also Papa Bill’s 90th birthday. I bore my testimony of how losing him helped me to appreciate resurrection more than ever, and that because of Jesus all our darkest “Good Fridays” are followed by joyful Easter Sundays. Sister Jones bore testimony comparing Helaman 5:12 with the miracle that happened yesterday. She bore testimony to the youth that because they had chosen to do the Savior’s work on a Saturday morning—they had built their foundation on His rock—they were literally saved from the storm. I join her in hoping that the kids always remember that day and the symbolism of it: we will be safe from whatever storms come our way when we build on The Rock.

“And now, my sons [and daughters], remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall.” –Helaman 5:12*

We know that it’s true and rejoice in this season to ponder and praise the infinite atonement of Christ. We wish you all a peaceful week, a JOYFUL Easter, and Happy Birthday to Samantha Melin and Aunt Amie Post this week! We love you so much (and we’re sorry your cards might be late since Saturday was Armageddon! J).


Love, Rich, Jamie, and Family


*PS: After studying last conference again this month, I believe that this scripture is the main message God wanted us to have last October. There’s a storm a-comin’, but we have no need to fear when trust and rely on our Savior.

Our new van 03.23

Mom's Taxi 03.24

James with his Derby trophy and Sister Jeffrey

Rich, Ammon, Grandma, Kennedy Lowe, and Addie o3.24

Proud Pinewood Derby Racer 03.24

Niles with a Dino at School 03.26

Gettin' our Easter on 03.26

My Easter Decoration Helper 03.26

Date Night! 03.27

Apocalypse on I-90, Saturday on the way home from the temple

More Apocalyse 03.28

The Fire near Columbus, Montana 03.28

A shot from "Oklahoma" at The Shane Center. The show closes this weekend after a three week run.
In this pic you can see Mike, Petry, Kirk Mills, Scott Denniston, and Mark Mills from our ward.

Ammon at church in Addie's Glasses--BABY NERD!

Mommy and Ammon 03.29
Addie, Ammon, Heidi, Niles, Mom, and James releasing balloons at the soccer field
to celebrate Papa Bill's 90th birthday 03.29.15

Addie, Ammon, Heidi, Niles, Mom, and James-balloon head.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

FAMILY LETTER 03.22.15


Dear Loved Ones,                                                                                                          
 

We had a lovely week, hope you did, too! When we left off last week we were headed to the Joneses’ house for Korean Tacos and it was super fun and delicious. Brother Jones made Korean Beef in the slow cooker and had all kinds of delicious toppings including I-Ho’s kimchi. We loved it! I’m including a recipe for a simpler version that we’ve been making.

 

Monday 3/16 was Grandpa Melin’s knee replacement surgery in Billings and it went well. We had self-sufficiency Family Night where we learned to clean bathrooms and sort laundry. We also locked all of the internet enabled devices in the safe and put parental controls on the desktop since screen time privileges have been abused lately. I’m attaching a great little “Tech Rules” poster we found online. There is a great article that goes with it if you’re interested, at sunshineandhurricanesdotcom.  We also had a lesson on a better way to apologize (can you tell we’ve had some tumultuous times enforcing the rules around here?). A good apology should say, in a nutshell, this: I am sorry for___; It was wrong because ___; In the future I will___; Will you forgive me? (You can find the whole lesson at cuppacocoa.com/a-better-way-to-say-sorry—it is excellent!).  Family Night was actually pretty well received and life has been much more peaceful with the restrictions.

 

Tuesday 3/17 was St. Paddy’s Day and we planned absolutely nothing to celebrate. James and Niles had dental appointments in the afternoon—James had 2 molars extracted and spacers put in, in hopes that his molars will grow in straight with no crowding and no orthodontia. Niles just had a cleaning and fluoride treatment, no cavities or weak spots. That night we went to Heidi’s band concert where she played her snare drum with the 5th grade band. We did have homemade Shamrock shakes to celebrate St. Paddy’s after the concert.

 

Wednesday 3/18 we all headed up to the church. Addie’s Beehive class went to the library and talked about their favorite books. Rich led a Court of Honor for his scouts. I subbed for the Activity Days leader and pitched a tent facing the first presidency. We read about King Benjamin’s people, how they pitched their tents and listened to his words, then changed their behavior. We shared some conference packets/bingo games, then played Apples to Apples in the tent and ate S’mores cookie bars (made with Golden Grahams—Jamie’s childhood favorite). Everyone enjoyed their activities.

 

Thursday 3/19 I finally heard from my doc. On facebook I said, “I finally talked with my PCP today about my Brain MRI/ angiogram results. She said there are no tumors, no signs of stroke, but "abnormalities" spotted by the radiologist she wants a neurologist to follow-up on. My bp was 140/90 today, not coming down but not scary, and I've lost 6 pounds since February 27th. So more waiting. But I'm not dying.” So that was good news. Thursday night Addie had her Science Fair at school.  Her project was chosen for the State Science Fair in Billings next weekend. Also, Arizona won their first MARCH MADNESS GAME against Texas Southern. YAY!

 

Friday 3/20 Jamie worked most of the day on the memorial video for Steve Bierle. You may have heard of him in the news last week when he drowned off the California coast saving his son from the ocean. I cried on and off most of the day; it was hard to see a family lose their dad who was our same age. Rich put a new ice maker in our refrigerator and changed the brakes on the van on his lunch break. Yeah, he’s awesome. That night was homemade pizza night and we watched Night at the Museum 3.

 

Saturday 3/21 Rich and James finished up James’ Pinewood Derby car for the races on 3/24. Jamie finished up the video and delivered it to the funeral home, then did some fruitless thrifting. Rich took some of the kids to Bozeman to check out the newly decaled scout trailer while Jamie made dinner for the missionaries and watched basketball games. Rich also took the kids to fly kites after Bozeman, then we grilled burgers and had a noisy, crazy dinner with the Elders (I blame the wild children on the wild wind). Arizona won their second game against Ohio State, so we’re SWEET 16, yo! Addie and Heidi went to see “Oklahoma” with the Jones girls.

 

Sunday 3/22 was a sweet Sabbath: choir practice, high council speakers, seeing our sweet Jordyn home from her mission to Tucson, wrestling Ammon. Grandma Melin had us over for dinner to cheer up Grandpa. The day was absolutely glorious—sunny and warm! It’s pretty brown out there, but it was fun to see the sweet little newborn Angus calves down the valley—so tiny! And so many deer running around the ranch. (Ammon wore some spring clothes, it was so warm! >>)

 

Today Lexi Melin turns six, and Ellie Mullins and Max Craft have birthdays, too (I mentioned that last week, but they are coming up this Tuesday and Wednesday. And we will let balloons go for Papa Bill’s birthday next Sunday. So many fun times ahead…we love this time of year! We wish you a wonderful week, full of SPRING energy and happy moments.
Love, Rich and Jamie and Family
Rich and Lope enjoying Korean Tacos 03.15
Korean Tacos!
Heidi and her pal Sophia took some selfies last weekend
Niles Selfie!
Heidi and Addie in new spring clothes 03.17
Family Night 03.16
Fifth Grade Band Concert 03.17
Heidi the Percussionist 03.17
Activity Days Campout 03.18
The Bierle Family lost their Dad last weekend in a drowning
 accident off the California coast.His memorial was this weekend.
They're in our prayers.
Ammon sporting some warm-weather clothes in Sunday 03.22...SUNNY DAY!

Sunday, March 15, 2015

FAMILY LETTER PHOTOS 03.15.15


Dear Loved Ones,                                                                                               1 March 2015

It has been a long 3 month hiatus from weekly writing, but it is time for me to get back to it. I’m kind of sad about not recording all the great things that happened over the holidays, and the things we’ve learned and experienced in the New Year.  Happy  11th Birthday to Cousin Jake today and Cousin Spencer tomorrow!

We’ve been sick for most of that 3 months—at least a couple of us at a time fighting something gnarly since Heidi’s Thanksgiving kidney infection. I think part of it is that there have been some especially tenacious strains of illness and flu being passed around this year. I think another part of it is that we have a preschooler and a baby again for the first time in a long time, and they are both being exposed to lots of things for the first time and sharing lots of germs, and staying up all night crying about it. In return, we are old and tired and unable to recover from sleepless nights like 20- or 30- year olds who have babies. Rich has been sick for six weeks and he finally went to the doctor this past week and was diagnosed with bacterial sinusitis. He started antibiotics and his mom and I are trying to convert him to sterile sinus rinsing. I had it the first two weeks of February but kicked it without meds. The kids are mostly well; Heidi has stomach flu this weekend, poor thing. Oh, and Ammon just joined the barf fest. This does not bode well for a peaceful night. *Sigh*.

The kids are all doing so well. Addie had a great choir concert last week. It’s so fun to watch the skill level and artistry of the choir increase each year. I am glad she loves music so much. She and Heidi are always googling their favorite music and movie themes, printing out the sheet music, and trying to teach themselves to play and sing them. It’s pretty fun. Heidi is taking piano lessons again, though getting her to practice is worse than pulling teeth.

Okay, so NOW IT’S MARCH 15th and that barf fest that began on the first lasted all week, but Rich and I somehow missed our turn, even after many episodes of being puked on…yay, us! Rich’s cough/sinus thing has finally cleared up and I’m feeling pretty good, so knock on wood, right? That first week of March was all about appointments and getting everyone’s health in order. Ammon had a well-child check and he’s doing great. Niles had a tiny surgery on March 6th to remove his left ear tube and patch it. He did great and hasn’t had an ear infection in almost 2 years. My visits with the rheumatologist turned up a bunch of lupus markers but no organ damage or dysfunction—all good on the inside! He explained that the stuff in my blood probably causes me inflammation, weak immunity, joint pain, etc.-- it’s just kind of a consistent, low-grade lupus, but not the full-blown disease. The rash on my leg is probably vasculitis and they will biopsy it on the next flare up. Mostly he just told me to exercise a little every day and keep eating clean and I should be able to stay ahead of it. He’s communicating with our family doctor here so I should be well-cared for from now on.

Last Friday after Niles’ surgery and my MRI, we had a double date—Rich and Heidi and James and I went to a Hawaiian Family Dance for all the elementary schools. It was really fun. We love when Addie babysits for us! On Saturday 3/7, Rich took his scouts on a cross country ski trip (5 miles!) in Yellowstone. They took a 2.5 miles trail in and out of Tower Falls. The pictures look beautiful. He’s so awesome. I think I told you earlier in the fall about their fundraiser to get a trailer for their gear. It was successful; he got the trailer in January and used it for the Winter Camporee. This week he designed scout logos for it as well as compiling all the logos for the sponsors and sent it off to get all decaled by a vinyl/bodywork guy in our stake. He so great at utilizing resources and getting stuff done, I’m so thankful for all he’s done. It makes the program that much better.

Sunday 3/8,  I got to go with Addie’s Beehive class to the Family History center to prepare names to take to the temple on March 28th. I have to admit it’s my first time going there and using Family Search in decades. It was really fun and we printed out 3 names from Grandpa Tom’s ancestry for Addie to take (Grandma Rosalie had done most of the work, but ti was still educational). That was cool, I’m looking forward to doing more of that and uploading some memories and photos and life sketches to my line.

For family night I’d planned some more life skills lessons for the kids (we are trying to instill some self-sufficiency with using appliances, doing laundry, prepping food, cleaning, mending, etc…endless list) but Uncle Mike was in town so we planned a family dinner with him and the grandparents (they requested the crock pot Alfredo recipe we made last week, so I’ll share that later). We practiced some baseball skills and shared some art after dinner (Mike is taking a cool print making class) and said good bye to Mike. He is here for a few days to help Grandpa finish up some spring jobs on the ranch before Grandpa’s knee replacement on March 16th. Happy 4th Birthday to Cousin Cooper Hamlin!

Tuesday 3/10 (Happy 14th Birthday, Cousin Jared) Mom Melin watched the little boys so I could go to the eye doctor and get new glasses and contacts and check Goodwill for some Hobbit clothes. I found a vest and some brown cords so Heidi could dress up like Bilbo for Literary Character day Thursday. Addie is knee-deep in Science Fair preparation. She did her experiments a few weeks ago and she’s just trying to design her presentation. She’s so detail oriented, it’s sure to take a while but will be lovely when she’s done on Monday. Heidi looked so great as Bilbo on Thursday, 3/12 (Happy Birthday to Aunt Dana and Aunt Kristen!). James thought about dressing up as Flat Stanley or Captain Underpants, but he went to school and plain ol ’James.  We enjoyed the Family Literacy Night at the school Thursday where there was pizza and a book swap.

Friday 3/13 there was no school, so we had breakfast, cleaned up, and headed out to Sacajawea Park to play in the sunshine. We were tricked into not wearing jackets by the recent warm days, which turned out to be a mistake because it had to be in the high 30s with the wicked wind. The wind didn’t stop the ducks and geese from mobbing everyone in the parking lot. Ammon was delighted to watched them waddle around us. We came home for lunch and the kids took naps, watched a movie or played games while I helped Addie with Science Fair. That night Daddy brought home pizza and a movie so we watched Big Hero 6 (which was great).

Saturday 3/14  was SUPER PI DAY. Rich had also bought an apple pie so he served it up to the kids with whipped cream for breakfast (I just had eggs and spinach like every other day, but I was happy to celebrate). Addie was still doing homework and Heidi went to play with friends while Mom Melin and I went to see “Oklahoma” at the Shane Center. It was a really fun performance, and I think I counted 9 people from our ward in the show. They all did great. After the play I had to run and meet Rich and the kids at the church for a Superhero Family Dance. Niles created his own “Super Niles” costume consisting of long johns, fireman boots, and a cape made from a large cowboy print bandana. Addie did a version of Groot. Lots of other families were there and we learned some line dances and had tons of fun.

Today (Sunday) Rich had to speak in the Ennis Branch so he left the house before 8am. I had to do choir practice at 9am, so I got all the kids ready without their full cooperation. Mom Melin stopped by to help me and everyone was there by 10am…phew! It was a nice sacrament meeting about parables. The rest of the block was a wrestling match with Ammon and/or Niles, but we survived! And Rich got home just after we did and we had lunch and all is right in the world!

We are off to have Korean Tacos for dinner with the Jones family. We haven’t gotten together for a while, so this should be fun. Here’s to an awesome week! Happy St. Patrick’s Day and Happy Birthday to Uncle Mark and our cousins Lexi Melin, Ellie Mullins, and Max Craft this coming week!

Love, Rich and Jamie and Family
 

Ammon playing Baby Chef at the dentist on 03.02

Setting Goals on March 4th to MARCH FORTH!


Crazy action shots from the Family Dance 03.06.15

James was my date


Heidi was Rich's date

Mom and James snuggling after the Family Dance 03.06
Heidi dressed up as a flapper for "Jazz Age" day (U.S. History) at school
03.06.15.

At 5:45 Friday morning 03.06, we headed over to sped the morning at
Bozeman Deaconess Hospital. Niles had a little ear patch procedure.

He came out of anesthesia pretty happy this time.
He loved his "blinky band aid."

A little popsicle, listening to a little Curious George...
and we were outta there by 9:15! Off to Mommy's MRI!
Niles and Dad went to Museum of the Rockies to play  while I was having my MRI.
Niles loves to dress up like a fire fighter in the Yellowstone Discovery Room.
Before the family Dance, Addie took this picture of
Heidi across the street from our house.


On March 7th, Rich took his Scouts on a cross country ski trip to Tower Falls in Yellowstone.
Check out the frozen falls!

This is a pic from Facebook taken in
Sahuaro National Park in Tucson...
I love an El Nino year in the desert!

Some More Facebook postcards from this week


Ammon turned 10 months old on March 10th...cutie pie!

Heidi looked awesome as Samwise Gamgee the Hobbit on 03.12.15

Daddy served up pie for SUPER PI DAY on Saturday

Happy SUPER PI DAY! 03.14.15 9:26:53 am

Sunday, March 01, 2015

Way Back in February


We actually watched the Super Bowl this year and it was fun to have actual fans over.
Here are the Jones kids in their Seahawks Glory.

I started spring cleaning. There are a lot of nooks and crannies in this house
 that need it. Like the linen closet, for starters.

This baby loves electrical cords!

On 2/9 we went to the park for a while.
 Ammon loved seeing the geese fly away.

Niles showed me how he can swing himself
with his feet if he's on his belly because he's a big boy now.


Addie, Eden, and Clara left these selfies on my iPad after our Valentines party on 2/7

 
All my boys in the living room on a Sunday evening

Ammon and James watching TV on my bed with Dad.

Road Trip to Utah, just me and Rich, to celebrate my cousin's wedding,
Valentines Day, and our 14th anniversary.

My Boy Elrey Cousins at Jospeh's Wedding in Manti, Utah.
Aaron, Bill, Jeff, and Joseph.

Joseph and Annalisa coming out of the temple on 02.13.15

Baby cousins dancing at the reception that night
(Rebecca, Owen, and Presley)

My cute nephews Gavin and Owen at the reception.

And again with the cuteness.

Wedding Selfies!

On Valentine's Day we did a little shopping, took a huge nap, and met
Stokers and friends for some Tepanyaki.
***
Brother Baths!

James is loving Cub Scouts. His first Blue and Gold Banquet was so nice, and so much fun.
Clever decorations with a Lego theme, a talk from Grandpa and Grandma Melin,
and great food from the Denniston Family.
 The theme was "everything is awesome when you work as a team" and we did
a little activity where James had a little vial of chemicals and I had a dropper
and when we mixed them, they glowed...yay, teamwork!
(02.24.15)

This is my little kitchen elf. He likes to pull down all the dish towels
and pull the pans out of the cabinet and climb into the dishwasher.

On February 25th, the youth had an activity called cupcake wars. Addie came in second place
 in the decorating contest and her team won first place in baking the yummiest cupcakes.
(Jeanette Jones came in first place and Clara came in third for decorating)