Sunday, September 14, 2014


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


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


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)!


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 :)



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