Sunday, February 04, 2018


Dear Loved Ones,                                                   

I am happy to report that the winter doldrums are back and we have had a pretty quiet week. Monday we had a nice family night about how we should treat our family members and how the Holy Ghost can help us choose to be kind and can help us find ways to help each other. The kids weren’t quite as wild as they were the previous week, so no photos, hahaha. Ammon got sent home from school because they thought the eczema spots on his mouth might be Hand-Foot-Mouth disease, but he got checked by the doc and she said it was unlikely but maybe I should see what happened on Tuesday. So I kept Ammon home on Tuesday and his little rash had faded away. We had a fun day together. Wednesday morning (Happy Birthday, Tiffany!) we tried to get up and see the super blood blue moon at 6:20am, but it was overcast and we couldn’t see it. I did see it get darker between 5am and 6am, but nothin’ else. Bummer. Ammon was back in school and I got some stuff done and sent Rich and the big kids off to YW and Scouts. The youth had a bishop’s activity and played Battle of the Sexes with gospel questions. It sounded like a good time. Thursday I had to buckle down and have a laundry day. I caught up on devotionals and personal grooming and finished up some writing projects and proposals. Addie came home sad and I wanted to comfort her and help her out, but I had to feed the fam some tortilla soup and head out to parent support group. When I got there (late), the lights went off so I assumed no one else showed up, which was kind of a relief (I talked to the group leader later though, about our plans for community cyber addiction education, which is going to be great).  I came home to help Addie with some school work and that seemed like what needed to happen. She had a hard morning Friday and needed to take a mental health day after seminary, but she got herself together and got to school for third hour. Both girls had kind of a stressful week and the boys were just buck wild little werewolves, so I’m blaming it on the moon and hoping that’s all behind us! Friday night Addie worked concessions at the basketball triple header with her student council people. Heidi had her friend Sophie over for a while. They seemed to be in better spirits, which really makes me happy. I love hearing hysterical laughter from the downstairs after a tough week! Saturday morning we had a big pancake breakfast together, then the girls and I went up to the church to do a little service project tidying up the Primary closet. It was pretty fun. I took the girls home and met my pal Lisa for lunch. Rich worked on the Volkswagen (which he does literally ever day) and then he took the boys to a birthday party in Clyde Park while I took the girls to ukulele lessons. That is always fun and they are learning the cutest songs. Heidi is writing her own songs and coming up with awesome strumming rhythms that impress even her teacher. That girl has the most ridiculous, amazing, fun hidden talents. We are hoping they won’t be hidden for long. I noticed during sacrament meeting how beautifully Addie’s and Heidi’s voices blend—I hope they will learn some songs together. Saturday evening Addie went to celebrate Erin Petersen’s 16th birthday (house party! Bowling! Late night talks! Love those girls) and Heidi hung out at Sophie’s (ramen chefs! Writing songs! Studying Animal Farm!). Rich and I fed the little boys some tacos and put them to bed and watched Groundhog Day (and marveled that Andie McDowell ever got to be in movies because her acting is so painfully awkward #atleastshespretty). When I went to pick up Heidi at 8pm, the temp had dropped from 50 degrees to 13 in like an hour, and it was starting to snow. It was so freaky! Sunday has been fabulous. We had an edifying testimony meeting, strong spirit. I got to hug some people who are grieving (“No one cries alone in my presence!”-Steel Magnolias) and I got roped into helping with Niles’ class (teacher snowed in), and that was pretty fun. Rich had a cough, but he took some meds and was able to stick it out and teach the deacons. We thought he was getting a new deacon today—Curtis Denniston—but Curt’s birthday is tomorrow. It’s so fun watching all of James’ friends receive the priesthood…only 7 more months for him. Uncle Mikey Melin was visiting at the ranch and he came in to town to visit us just as the SuperBowl was starting and our treats were coming out of the oven. The kids were so excited to see him! So we are wrapping up the game by the fire. I need to go snuggle Ammon, so until next week… We love you and and wish you a wonderful week!

Rich and Jamie and Family

Ammy Snuggles on Thursday

Heidi and Ammy--love these happy faces!

Uncle Mike and James 2/4

Ammon loves his Uncle Mike 2/4
This Valentine made me laugh (Thanks, Addie)

A new Maxwell quote I made.
I love this picture of Jesus because
he looks like he is working hard to help
his brothers, just as he hopes we will.

Monday, January 29, 2018


Dear Loved Ones,   

Well, this busy week pulled us right out of our winter doldrums!  Last Monday night we had a crazy FHE. Everyone was being so weird, I even took photos. It wasn’t the most edifying night, but I sure love my little weirdos. Tuesday was a cleaning and errands day for me. It was Grandma Lyn’s  87th birthday and I thought about her all day.  I got to touch base with two of my girlfriends, Jessi and Naomi, which is always a good thing. They remind me that I am not alone in my mama battles. Wednesday was a laundry day, and in the evening I helped Rich get ready for the awesome “Very Merry Unbirthday” party he and the deacons planned for the combined youth activity Wednesday night. He and Addie went to set up at around 6:15. I went to pick up Heidi from rehearsal at 6:45, and then dropped her and James off at the church. I had promised the little boys ice cream cones, but by the time we dropped off the big kids, they were asleep in their carseats! I came home and put them to bed and had some time to just read and relax before bed. The party seemed to be a big hit. Thursday after school Heidi had rehearsal and Addie had Running Club, but Rich met me and the little boys at Niles’ school for “Math Night.” We went to his classroom and he showed us how to play some fun math and reasoning games. Afterward, Daddy treated everybody to dinner at our brand new Taco Bell restaurant. I went to the Parent Support group for our community suicide impact group, which is always kind of harrowing but also edifying. If nothing else, it is a reminder to me of the silent suffering happening all around us, and that these are the places where the Lord’s work is truly being done. Friday Rich and James got all packed up and headed out with the scouts to the Winter Camporee. That night the girls and me and the little boys got Chinese food and watched the Fantastic Mr. Fox. It was so nice to have a quiet night at home. Saturday, though—wow. I got up at 7:30am and fed the boys. Heidi and I went to Bozeman to go shopping at 8:30am. Addie watched the boys while we got some new clothes and necessities for Heidi at Target and groceries at Costco. We hurried home so she could be at the Shane Center at 12:30 for her 2pm and 5pm performances of “The Wizard of Oz.” I went home and picked up the little boys and took them to the Johnson’s to play while I did Addie’s hair and she and I went to the 2pm show. After the show, Addie hurried home and got ready for the Winter Formal while I cleaned out the van and put most of the groceries away. Rich got home from Camporee around 4:15pm, and I left to start picking up kids to go to the dance at 4:30pm. Rich and James hopped in the shower and met Grandpa and Grandma Melin at the 5pm show of “The Wizard of Oz.” Rich said everyone loved the show and Grandpa Melin laughed all the way through it. Our ward friend Sidney Denniston starred as Dorothy and did a great job!  Heidi played a sassy crow who picked on the scare crow, then a poppy who put the main characters to sleep, then a jitterbug who danced Dorothy to sleep. She has great comedic timing and stage presence. I wish we had more options for her to do workshops and auditions, but it’s nice that we at least have these two little theaters in town. Rich brought Heidi and the boys home after the show. They ate camping leftovers and watched the classic movie, “The Wizard of Oz.” Meanwhile, I drove a vanload of kids over to the stake dinner/dance. Last week it sounded like only 4 kids were coming, but we ended up with 14! I am grateful for all the work that goes into providing these fun activities—they all had a ball.

When I was watching the Wizard of Oz and noticing all the allegories, I was thinking about this talk I listened to last week, given by Neal A. Maxwell in 1971. In it he said, “We need to understand in a more special way than we already do the weight that God puts on EXPERIENCE while we are in mortality …Our father is a loving father who wants us to have the happiness that results not from mere innocence, but from proven righteousness.” God does not, and probably cannot, just magically give us the gifts we seek. When we pray for patience or faith or charity, he doesn’t wave his Godly wand and grant us these qualities. Instead, He gives us experiences—trials, challenges, tests—that will, if we approach them with the right attitude, help us develop the gifts we seek. Likewise, the Wizard does not, cannot, bestow gifts upon Dorothy and her companions. Rather, he recognizes they have developed those gifts on their own through their experiences. And Dorothy had the power within herself to grant her own wish, all along. THAT reminded me of Jacob 4:6: “…and having all these witnesses we obtain a hope, and our faith becometh unshaken, insomuch that WE TRULY CAN command in the name of Jesus and the very trees obey us, or the mountains, or the waves of the sea.” It is kind of beautiful to have lived a few years (ahem! ;)) and to see the pattern of experience, repentance, and forgiveness working daily in our lives to make us who we are meant to be, working together for our good. It really does strengthen my faith to see the Lord taking things that once seemed like insurmountable roadblocks to me and turning them into my greatest life lessons and refining experiences. Obstacles just aren’t so intimidating once you see what the Lord can do with them.

We love you all! We are getting excited for “Love Day” and hope you feel an abundance of it this week.

Love, Jamie and Rich and Family



Dear Loved Ones,                                                    I am happy to report that the winter doldrums are back and we have...