Monday, June 11, 2018


Dear Loved Ones,                                                                              

We've enjoyed a great first week of summer with beautiful weather a few rain showers and many trips to the pool. Addie and Ammon both still had school this week, but I actually completely forgot to take Ammon to school two of the days this week. It was just too hard to remember while I was busy having fun with the other kids!!

On Monday morning we jumped out of bed with 20 minutes to make it to Ammon's and Niles' well-child check up at the clinic. After that we picked up James from Sweetwater fly shop because he had gone to stay over at the Vermillion's house in Shields Valley and they brought him home to their shop. We then went to the city pool for a few hours, then came home and grab dinner and headed out to Niles is baseball game at 6 p.m. Tuesday 6/5 was more of the same we had fun at the pool and did some chores around the house. Rich took the boys to do some errands in Bozeman and came home with a cool kids' kayak...just waiting for the river to go down! 

Wednesday the 6th was kind of a rainy cloudy day on and off so we ended up staying home, doing some chores making some art,  jumping on the trampoline. At 6, the girls and I headed over to Seminary graduation at the Stake Center. It was a lovely meeting and Brother Bishop the Institute director shared some great insights about the Book of Mormon. The sunset was so beautiful that night, we snapped a picture of it and grab some Icees to enjoy on the way home. On Thursday 6/7 we were awoken by a thunder and hail storm at about  6 a.m. It was alarming at first, but then kind of cozy to be snuggled up in bed listening to it. We had another morning of chores and an afternoon at the pool and another baseball game at 6 p.m. It started to rain on us that night but it didn't get too bad. 

On Friday 6/8 Adeline had her last final and I picked her up at Jessie Sloan's house where she was checking on the dog while Jessie and her family are out of town. We ran some errands, made some lunch, took the boys to the pool for a little while and then came home and got them packed up for a father and son's camp-out at Mill Creek. After we got the boys on their way, I took the girls out to dinner at The Sport pub and for a walk downtown. With all the construction going on it looks like Syria down there! Main Street is not paved right now and some of the buildings are being renovated and have their facades removed and it just looks like a bombed-out ghost town. But we still had a great time. That night we watched Paddington 2  (so cute! We love watvhing for places we have been in London) and some old "Friends" episodes and just enjoyed the quiet. Saturday morning we woke up late and took Addie over to check on the dog. We ran to the grocery store to get ingredients to make appetizers for Gary Weisgerber's memorial/ celebration of life that evening. When we got home the boys were back from their camp out. We got all the camping stuff put away and cleaned up. Addie and I took the boys to the pool for a little while (Heidi stayed home and Rich was working on the yard a little bit). I came home after the pool cooked some appetizers with Addie and delivered them to the memorial. I dropped Addie at the Joneses to hang out with Clara for the evening and I ran up to the church to practice a song with Davina Ryszka to sing in church today.

Church today was lovely as usual. This month the theme is the Book of Mormon and the restoration so there's a really great spirit in sacrament meeting. Visiting summer wrangler Brother Clapier gave a talk about the pride cycle based on a BYU devotional that I happen to see a few months ago. I had wanted to share it with everyone so I'm glad that he brought it up again cuz I had kind of forgotten about it. I sang the song "For Our Day" from the seminary music back in the 90s. It's such a good song--kind of a love song about the Book of Mormon-- and I often think of the lyrics. Toward the end of sacrament meeting, I looked over at Delana Bloxham and remembered that she had asked me to teach Relief Society but I couldn't remember which week. Luckily when she asked me, I took a look at the talk and had some ideas for what I might want to teach. However, we were both panicked a little when she said  that I was supposed to teach today and had nothing prepared. Thankfully it wasDeiter F. Uchtdorf's April 2018 conference talk, "Behold the Man." The lesson taught itself, of course, because that talk is so eloquent and Spirit-filled. Talking about our Savior and what he's done for us always invites the spirit and people have great stories to share. So a potential catastrophe was turned into an edifying experience thanks to the Holy Ghost. I sure love him, he always saves the day. 

We topped the day off with a nice afternoon nap under an overcast skies and then a wonderful Korean barbecue dinner with a lemon blueberry birthday cake for our dear Grandma Rosalie Melin's 71st birthday today. We sure love her! I'm so grateful to have such an awesome mother-in-law who is such a cool Grandma to our kids and a good friend to me. We invited the Tyners (who are our neighbors now) to join us for cake and had a really nice visit. The girls have gone out to the ranch to have a sleepover with Grandma, which I think is adorable. They will get to help mow tomorrow and I'll pick them up and at lunch time as Grandma and Grandpa are headed back to the temple. Life is good! Summer is beautiful!  We are looking forward to seeing many of you on our summer adventures. Have a great week! We love you!

Rich and Jamie and Family

6/2--a fun pic of Brianna and Adeline at Nick's party I forgot to post last week

6/3- some high schoolers and college kids playing games at Ellie's grad party on
Sunday. I love living in a place where this is how seniors celebrate graduation.

6/4-- That's a camel for "Hump" day; our friend Brettles hit his
one year mark on his mission this week

6/6-- Sunset after Seminary Graduation in Bozeman

6/7-- Niles' baseball pictures--LOVE THEM!

6/8-- The Ranch on Friday

6/8-- swingin' at the ranch with the Smith kids

6/8- chalk love for the grandparents

6/8- Chalk Love!

6/8--the road out from the ranch. that's the Big Sky.

6/9- James and Ammon at the pool

6/9- Our summer home away from home

6/8- Girls Night Out, Heidi and Addie at The Sport Pub

6/8- GNO, Mom & Heidi

6/10- Grandma's Birthday

Fun Memes

Tis the Season!

Tuesday, June 05, 2018

FAMILY LETTER 06.03.2018

Dear Loved Ones,                                                                                                                                          03 June 2018

We are just home from an amazing broadcast from our prophet and it was stellar. We are all enlisted and happy are we! I told my kids, you don’t realize how exceptional this is—to have a prophet who is so energetic and so able to connect with you, who has made the effort to pay attention to what your world is like so he can help you in very specific ways, who has an equally energetic and intelligent and inspired wife who stands right beside him—literally. I’ve never seen anything like this (since I started paying attention in the early 80s) but I know it’s how things are meant to be. And I know we are entering a very literal phase of the gathering and our children will be called upon to use their gifts in wondrous ways and participate in mighty works as our world winds up. I’m super thrilled to have front row seats.
President Nelson suggested  five ways we can change ourselves so we can change the world:
1. Have a seven-day fast from social media (“take a break from fake”)
2. Make a weekly sacrifice of time to the Lord for three weeks
(my mind instantly thought, 3.3 hours for 3 weeks, 3-fold mission= a perfect Personal Progress 10-hour project!!!)
3. Keep on the covenant path. Do a life assessment with parents or leaders- If you are off the covenant path, repent and get back on it.
4. Pray daily that all of God’s children might receive the blessings of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
5. Stand out. Be different. Be a light. Share the For the Strength of Youth booklet.
Great counsel for disciples of any age! We are on it.

It has been two busy weeks since I last wrote, and I’m sure you can guess why if you’ve ever been a parent in May. All the concerts, projects, exams, field trips, awards ceremonies, retirement parties, graduation parties, etc.  I think we survived, but Addie and Ammon still have a week of school, so we shall see. We already got report cards and know what everybody needs to work on over the summer. Shout out to Heidi especially for going through some serious crap during her 8th grade year and coming out with 4 As and 2 Bs. She’s a warrior. Here’s a quick rundown of the past two weeks.

On Monday 5/21, James had his final band concert of 6th grade on his French horn. The band honestly sounded amazing. We are proud of their progress. On Tuesday 5/22 Ammon was sick. I spent the day snuggling him. His only symptom of illness was a fever that ran up to 102*in the afternoon, sleepiness, and then he threw up once from the fever and he got better. Weird 12-hour sickness. Wednesday I made up for missing Tuesday by finishing the laundry from Monday and weeding the flower bed and garden in preparation for Memorial Day weekend yard work. That night was early YW and Scouts and everyone was gone by 6:15, doing service and camp stuff. The little boys and I did our bath-then-snuggles thing. Thursday was kind of a marathon day. We packed up dinner (pizza) and we went to Niles’ baseball game. Then we went to Heidi’s last 8th grade choir concert—it was really beautiful. I am glad she will continue to work with Ms. Curtis in high school. She really brings out the best in the kids. Friday 5/25 I had Addie, Ammon, and Niles home with me (Niles pulled a muscle at his baseball game and couldn’t walk for part of the day). We went to the store and Addie got some sidewalk chalk and made art with her brothers all afternoon. It was a perfect sunny spring day. That night Richard and I went on a date—out for a yummy BBQ dinner and to Costco for our big monthly shop. I had just posted a funny meme about going on dates to Costco, but you know what? When you’re with the coolest, rightest person, EVERYTHING is a fun date. Time together, just the two of us, is such a nice break, no matter what we are doing.

On Saturday we had a classic family work day. Those used to be a regular, almost weekly thing with us, but these days with kids running in all directions, they are few and far between. We worked together to clean up in the house first thing in the morning, then we worked outside all day. First we cleaned up the flower bed and potted flower boxes for the front porch railing and back deck railing. We scrubbed down the front porch, then tackled our little garden patch. I had some tomato and jalapeno starts, and James chose some seeds to plant. I haven’t done a bunch of starts for several years because they so rarely survive transplanting. We are hoping planting them directly will work better, and we will just hope for no frosts til the end of September! The great thing about spring yard work, at least for my little boys, is that the hoses are out and that means playing in the sprinkler. Once the garden was in and cleaned up, the boys put the sprinkler under the trampoline and had a blast. Sunday 5/27 we had a lovely church meeting and nap. Then we went to the Johnson’s for Matty Johnson’s graduation dinner. Lots of Naomi’s family from Idaho was there and some ward friends. It was a totally dreamy night. Their house is near the church, high on a hill overlooking town. We ate Hawaiian bbq food (kahlua pork) and visited and thoroughly enjoyed the evening. Matty is such a great kid; his family is like family to us.

Monday 5/28 was Memorial Day. It started with morning chores, then a picnic at Sacajawea Park, then some play ground and tennis time, then a little hunting for smooth rocks to paint and hide. Rich stayed home all that time and worked on his VW restoration project, which is just an hour or two from completion. We came home and made some sandwiches and salads to take out to the ranch for a picnic with the grandparents. The weather turned rainy, so we had an indoor picnic. Addie brought her friend Jack from track and turns out the grandparents know his whole family. After a short visit and some games, we brought the kids home to bed because it was a school night…argh! Tuesday 5/29 I had to buckle down and clean up from all the weekend partying. Cousin Lacy arrived that afternoon from a family reunion in Mellstone. Her flight home didn’t leave until Thursday out of Billings and her reunion was over Monday, so she came to spend some time with us. Cousin Dave Mayberry is deployed to Kuwait, and Penelope and Lucy were in Texas with Aunt Marti and Uncle Ralph at a Mayberry reunion, so we just had Lacy and Naomi. We had a nice dinner together, then Rich and I took the James to Addie’s final choir concert—which I had totally forgotten about, but I was so glad to have attended (Lacy stayed home with little folks and Heidi packed for her 8th grade graduation camping trip). The choirs sounded great all night, but their acapella rendition of “The Bonnie Banks of Loch Lomond” was absolutely stunning. It squeezed tears from my eyes, uncontrollably. So good. Addie went out for ice cream with Brianna while Rich and I rushed home to  greet Mary and Natalie Levesque who were crashing at our place for like 9 hours as they drove from Seattle to Indiana so Natalie can go to grad school at Notre Dame (I served my mish with Natalie’s dad, Ken; we were buds). We got them tucked in, then got our people settled down. To our horror, our fire alarms started blaring at 4am intermittently. Rich kept checking them, dusting them, unplugging them, changing batteries, but they kept going off about every 15 minutes until 6:30. We got up and got the kids off to school, then I went back to bed with Ammon until about 9:30am. We had breakfast with Lacy and Naomi, then headed out for a little tour of Paradise Valley. We stopped off at the ranch first where Ammon shared his swing and tree house with Naomi. The river is so high and muddy! Next stop was Pine Creek. We checked out the campground, then did about a third of the hiking trail to the first bridge where Naomi and Ammon had a little wade in the glacial water—brrr!—and played a little game of Poohsticks under the little bridge. We headed back to the car, ravenous. We came into town and had a late lunch at Gil’s where we ate and talked for an hour or so. Then it was time to go home and rest and cool off and wait for kids to show up. Niles came home limping, so we decided he should skip his baseball game that night. We still ate ham sandwiches and grapes and pickles and popsicles for dinner though, which is what we would have eaten at the ball game. Rich and James left to go do a youth service project cleaning up a yard, and the little kids had some trampoline time then got ready for bed. I helped Lacy plan a Yellowstone/Beartooth highway adventure for Thursday so she could take the long, scenic, 7-hour way to Billings to catch her plane back to AZ. It was so great to visit with her! I am glad she gets to go see Dave in Kuwait later this summer. They are a power duo.  Thursday night we had a GLORIOUS thunderstorm. It just POURED! Addie was out running her 3 miles and got soaked so I picked her up at the 2.7 mark and took her to Albertson’s and home to get dry.
Friday was the last day of school for Niles and James, but no school for Heidi, and a full day for Ammon and Addie-who are usually home on Fridays. I was so dang confused! I thought everyone got out at 11am, and that Ammon had no school. The entire day was a surprise to me! I ran to Walmart to pick up a few things I needed and hurried home to meet the boys because I had told them all to meet me at the park for a picnic and popsicles, but it was pouring rain! So I picked them all up, took them to Mark’s In and Out for lunch, and home to play some XBOX and celebrate the end of school. James’ friend Charlie Vermillion came over, too. Later I picked up Ammon and Addie. Charlie went home at 5 and Rich came home with pizza at 6, then took Addie and Niles to see Solo. Heidi and James and Ammon and I snuggled up and watched the “Be One” broadcast on my bedroom TV. IT WAS BEAUTIFUL. I cried through the whole thing. I am so grateful for that “Long-Promised Day” 40 years ago and for our family’s connection to Africa.  Great things are going to happen there in the next few decades that will blow our minds, I know it!

Saturday 6/2 we did some chores and had lunch, then I took the boys to the opening day at the city pool so Rich could work on the VW in peace. We came home at 3 to get ready to make the rounds to some fun graduation parties. First we went down the valley for Rilyn Pino’s  BBQ party at the Mushrush compound. It was a lot of fun and Heather and TerriLyn did a great with the food and decorations. After that, we headed in to the Shane Center ballroom for Nick Feldtman’s and Cameron Reichert’s party. Brianna and Mikayla and Jeanette came over afterward to watch “So I Married an Axe Murderer” at Robyn’s suggestion. They weren’t fully prepared for Mike Myers’ weirdness, but they had some good laughs. I forgot how kooky that movie was! Sunday 6/3 we had a lovely fast meeting and good discussion about ministering in Relief Society. Right after church I brought Addie home to change, then I took her to the HS to sing at the graduation ceremony with Chamber Choir. She and her friends walked down to the Girl Scout cabin afterward to attend Ellie Mickelson’s grad party. Every year I forget how horribly hot the gym is! I never bring enough ice water or fans. It’s the worst. I got home from graduation around 4:30 and took a quick rest. Then we all got dressed and went to the 6pm broadcast for the youth from President Nelson. I have already told you how great that was, but did not tell you how frizzy my hair was from all the sweating at graduation. It was quite the sight. I was asked if I got a perm…ha! No, not between church and the broadcast, hahaha.

So here we are facing the first week of summer and Addie’s week of finals. We are excited to wear out our swim pass and to celebrate Grandma Melin’s birthday this week, then youth conference and Father’s day and Rich’s birthday and our Heartland Roadtrip Mommy Adventure 2018 followed by the roundup and Melin cousins and camping and Scout Camp and concerts and workshops and cousins moving into town, and before you know it, we are back in school! Slow down the ride! My head is spinning! Looking forward to all of it, hoping to see many of you on our summer adventures! Remember, we are home all of July (well, not 7/28-8/1, but…) and you are totally welcome here!

All our love,
Jamie and Rich and Family

Monday, May 21, 2018


Dear Loved Ones,

It has been a dreamy week of beautiful Montana spring, warm days mixed with rainy days and thunderstorms, which does my Arizona heart good. I love some good monsoon thunder and lightning!

After I last wrote, the night of Mother’s Day, I could not sleep to save my life! I finally fell asleep after 4:25am, then I was up at 7 to get kids to school. I thought I might have to clear my schedule, but I went ahead with my day, attending Parent Advisory Committee at PHS, taking bison jerky and dried cherries to Heidi’s History class, doing laundry, filling the planters at Rich’s office with flowers, making dinner, and going to bed EARLY with no FHE lesson. Luckily I slept great that night and no FHE gave the 3 big kids time to spend the whole evening on school work as the year is coming to an end.  I have no recollection of Tuesday 5/15, except feeling better and cleaning the kitchen and staying up to help big kids on homework and having family prayers with just them after the little boys crashed. Oh! And James made an amazing dinner (with a little supervision) of grilled chicken, gemelli alfredo, and green salad. YUM! It was nice to have everyone home—that gets more rare as the girls get older and busier every few months. I’m still kind of amazed at what a short time we truly have our kids all to ourselves—the blink of an eye!!!

Wednesday was a gorgeous day and I thought for sure we would have a fun, sunny evening at the ball fields, but I was wrong. After picking up Ammon from preschool, I went by the store and grabbed some fried chicken and strawberries to chill for dinner. I also packed some carrots and celery and almonds and juice/water, excited for a ball park picnic. Well, the skies grew cloudy between 5 and 6, and though we started the game and ate dinner in peace, that wind and rain kicked up by 6:40. Rich had to leave for Scouts and YW right about that time, so he helped me pack up everything. I finished watching the game with Ammon and Grandma and Grandpa Melin, and I brought the little guys home for a bath and a snuggle. They are super into watching Zoboomafoo and Wild Kratts right now, so we watched 2 episodes and they were asleep before 8. Rich and the bigs came home and worked on school work for a while, then hit the hay, too.

Thursday I worked all day making green chili chicken for enchiladas and assembling red chili pork tamales. I was kind of bummed because even though I thought the tamale dough was a little thick, I went ahead and made them, then realized I had forgotten to add 3 cups of broth to the dough. They taste amazing, but they are not fluffy and tender like an abuelita’s and I was bummed. One of these days I’m gonna nail it. Have you guys seen the youtube video ad for the tamale spreader? That abuelita can crank out, like, 40 tamal husks in a minute-- #goals!! Thursday night we grilled burgers and I made the kids do chores to get ready for Hamlins (my Sister Sara’s family) visit and for Camporee. The girls were not happy about having to be home and help (Adie wanted to hang with her track friends because it was the last practice of the season, but since she was leaving at 6am for a 40-hour trip with them,  I said no, come home. This was not her favorite). We finally got everything under control and kids to bed by 10pm.

Friday Ammon had a playdate with Raef Johnson while I finished up prep cooking—enchiladas and birthday cake. That afternoon was rainy and Rich had to load up the scout trailer and head to Spring Camporee with James. This year they camped in a nearby quarry and learned about geology. They had a National Guard climbing wall, orienteering, biking, shooting—James was in 7th heaven, and I think Rich was happy to finally be scouting with his own son. Meanwhile at home, Addie was gone to Glendive (6 hours east of here) for track divisionals, and Heidi was home with me and the little boys.  We celebrated Niles’ birthday eve with Happy Meals (and chicken strips with greens for us girls) and early bed times. So Saturday, Niles’ head popped off daddy’s pillow at 6:20am, screm-whispering, “Maaaaahhhm! I’m seven! Maaaaaahhhhm!” Argh. My seven year old wanted his birthday breakfast, so we got up and ate sausage and eggs and blueberry muffins while Ammon and Heidi slept in. Once Heidi was up, I ran to the store for some last minute birthday dinner items since Sara had texted that she was just leaving Great Falls at 9. Turns out she was actually arriving in Livingston, and I ran to the store just as she was coming to my house. Ooopsie! I came home and Sara helped me finish cleaning up, wrapping gifts, making and entire loaf of bread’s worth of sandwiches with apples, carrots, and chips for 7 kids. It was still rainy and kind of cold, so aside froma few forays out to the trampoline, the cousins had to make their own fun inside on the xbox, board games, making art, etc. Rich and James came home at 4pm and unpacked. Then they helped me get our Mexican Fiesta ready to celebrate Niles. The Jones family joined us for dinner. Just as we finished, Grandpa and Grandma Melin brought over some special guests—Mom and Dad Hite from Colorado Springs! It was such a fun reunion! We had cake and presents, then the kids whacked a guitar piƱata out back. The Joneses and the grandparents left around 8pm, and all the cousins piled on the couch downstairs to watch “Coco” again (which they had watched with us in the theater on Thanksgiving).  Addie texted at 11pm asking me to pick her up at the HS from the track bus. It was nice to have her home. She was happy with her personal best throwing at divisionals and we are proud of her for trying something new and getting in such good shape.

Sunday 5/20 was Seminary Sacrament Meeting. Sara and her kids joined us, and the grandparents and the Hites were right behind us. Addie was the chorister, plus she spoke (along with the other 12 seminary students) about what she learned from the Book of Mormon. She spoke about Abinadi and how we can stand as witnesses, boldly, no matter the consequences, and we never can tell when a seed has been planted, even in just one heart like Alma’s. Every seed counts! All the kids shared good thoughts and testimonies. They also sang “Peace in Christ” again together. During the Sunday School hour, Rich and I took photos of the Hamlin kids before Sara took them home. It was so great to see them, and such a beautiful day for photos. The rest of Sunday consisted of lunch, naps, then taking the girls plus Robyn Jones, Naomi Johnson, and Margaret Baker over to the stake center in Bozeman for our stake women’s conference.  It was a sweet meeting, and the best thing I got out of it was inspiration for the music in Sacrament Meeting the next few months ;) It was a gorgeous night for a drive, and we got to watch the sun set as we dropped all our friends off. The girls and I ate some scrambled eggs and sausage for dinner and got to bed before 10 (the little guys were asleep when we got home). I love spending time with my girls; I will be so sad as they leave the nest, but our get-togethers thereafter are going to be EPIC cuz they are awesome.

We are so grateful for the beautiful weather and this gorgeous place we call home, for family and friends, and especially for Niles coming to our family seven years ago. Even though he was a huge surprise, I can’t imagine life without that amazing boy! We love and miss you all and wish you a wonderful week!

Love, Jamie and Rich and Family

Our town is a sea of trees!

Celebrating 7 Years with Niles!


Dear Loved Ones ,                                                                                We've enjoyed a great first week o...