Monday, October 27, 2014

FAMILY LETTER 10.26.14


Dear Loved Ones                                         26 October 2014


It’s a crazy birthday week –Happy Birthday to Aunt Jill yesterday, Uncle Willy today, Cousin Emily tomorrow, and Uncle Jess and Uncle Michael on Tuesday! Wow. Hope you guys are enjoying a long extended fall like we are here. It has been by far the most beautiful October of my whole life.

 I’m going to diverge from my journal format a bit since I am just home from a lovely trip and haven’t kept good daily tabs on what’s happening around here. My last letter was on October 12th and that next week was mostly spent getting ready for my trip. I tried to stock the pantry, finish all the laundry, pack, have fun with kids on Fall Break, and quell my anxiety about flying cross country with a baby on my lap. Richard was so helpful getting me ready to go and coaching me through my worries about leaving. He even got up at 2:30 am and drove me to Butte to catch a plane!
On the first day of fall break (10/16) Addie made Lembas bread.

I snuggled James to sleep the night before I left.

 I flew to New Jersey on Friday 10/17 with Ammon. We left Butte at 6am and flew to Salt Lake City, then left SLC at 11am and arrived at the Newark airport at 5pm local time. Uncle Mark Melin picked up Ammon and me at 6pm and we battled traffic to arrive at his house at McGuire AFB at 7:30pm. Elena had made some delicious soup and bread for dinner and we had a good visit with the kids before they headed off to bed. Mark then drove me across base to Ft. Dix where my dear friend Erin and her family live (her husband is an Air Force dentist). Heidi Buchert Egan and her daughter Maggie also came down from Seneca Falls for the weekend, so it was a most joyful reunion! We visited for a while then hit the hay.
This is what Ammon thinks about TSA screening.


Ammon asleep at Newark waiting for Uncle Mark
Mark Ammon Melin with Ammon Melin 10/17


Ammon's face in this picture kills me

Ammon taking a ride with Uncle Mark

Erin's 4 Kids with 1 of Heidi's 5: Eliza, Brittany, Brandon, Maggie, and Tarah
 

 Saturday 10/18 was roommate reunion day. We got up and ate a big yummy breakfast with everybody and enjoyed a lazy morning getting ready for the day. Erin arranged for the big kids to babysit Ammon while she took Heidi and me to get pedicures and a delicious local late lunch (what do the Hobbits call a 3pm meal?). We took Brittany to her job at a cute farm that has all the fun harvest stuff.  We stopped in to look around and enjoyed delicious apple cake donuts and I bought a cute-creepy Halloween figurine as a souvenir. Then we were off to get our feet done in Mt. Laurel—ahh, relaxing! After that, we went to John & Molly’s, a very local pub and restaurant. I wish I had been brave and chosen something really local like clams, but I just had a huge, delicious chicken and cranberry salad. Heidi has an amazing French onion soup I had a taste of, but I can’t remember what Erin had. We had such a happy, long visit over this meal, it was so nice. While we were there, James called me to tell me that he and Rich had gone out selling Boy Scout popcorn and he had sold almost $500 worth. I love seeing my little cub scout being gung ho about his goals.
We Three at the Farm

My Toes

Heidi and Erin getting their toes done
 

  We had a quiet evening of talking and passing around the baby at Erin’s that night. We went to sacrament meeting at Erin’s ward where her husband Rhett is the bishop. Elena and the NJ Melin kids were there, too, practicing for their Primary Program this week. After Sacrament meeting, Heidi and Maggie headed home to New York and I went home with Erin to nap with Ammon. It was the beginning of a very restful and edifying week. I mostly just hung out with Erin, and visited the Marlenas again on Wednesday 10/21. Erin is still doing radiation so she feels tired and burned, but she is an amazing, resilient, strong patient. I am so grateful Heavenly Father let us keep her for a while! I learned so much from Heidi and Erin during my visit. They both have wonderful families and haven been through so much since our last visit (a whole house fire for Heidi and stage 3 breast cancer for Erin, among other things) and it’s so good to learn from their testimonies and examples. Heidi mentioned after sacrament meeting that our reunion felt like that of Alma and the sons of Mosiah and I concur!

 
And now it came to pass that as Alma was journeying from the land of Gideon southward, away to the land of Manti, behold, to his astonishment, he met with the sons of Mosiah journeying towards the land of Zarahemla. Now these sons of Mosiah were with Alma at the time the angel first appeared unto him; therefore Alma did rejoice exceedingly to see his brethren; and what added more to his joy, they were still his brethren in the Lord; yea, and they had waxed strong in the knowledge of the truth; for they were men of a sound understanding and they had searched the scriptures diligently, that they might know the word of God.”

 
Just reading that scripture brings tears to my eyes because I feel so blessed to have these amazing women in my life. We had no idea at the time, but Heavenly Father wrought a marvelous work and a wonder in our lives that year and from there, we took off on the paths that have led us to our happy lives today. I am so grateful to have these sisters from other misters, with whom I can still laugh like I’m 22, with whom I share the craziest memories, and who are my touchstones that show me how far we have come.
Jamie, Erin, and Heidi in Provo 20 years ago
(note the time stamp: 10/24/94)

Jamie, Erin, and Heidi now (10/19/14)




Red, White, and Blue Toes


 Anyhooo…Ammon and I headed home from Newark on Friday night (10/24). Richard and the kids did a great job getting to all their commitments and keeping the house in order. Rich got the water damage on our kitchen floor fixed, cleaned our shower, kept the kids alive and happy, and even did some laundry,  so I felt no regrets about leaving. While I was gone, Addie won another Percy Jackson book at the library, so she has all of them now. Heidi went to Activity Days and decorated a cute pumpkin. They are all very excited about Halloween and have their costumes ready to go. Addie is dressing as Molly Hooper from BBC Sherlock; Heidi is dressing as Dr. Who, James as a ninja, Niles as a monster, and Ammon as a skeleton. We are carving our pumpkins for Family Night, so I am going to get them all cleaned out and roast the seeds during the day Monday…yum!

 I feel like the holidays are coming so fast, I need to get a handle on things around here! Can’t believe next week is NOVEMBER! Cousin Maeby Post will turn 8 next Monday, then we have a zillion Melin/Gray girls’ birthdays in November, plus Thanksgiving and Christmas preparations. I guess I’d better get up from the computer and get on it!  Have a great week loved ones!

 Love, Rich and Jamie and Family

  
Wednesday afternoon 10/21 I went to visit Elena and the kids.
I brought them candy legos left over from James' Birthday party and they loved them!
Here are Jared ad Samantha building away!

My darling niece Sariah with her friend Abby heading out to Activity Days.
I love the clean lines and simplicity of rustic colonial American stuff.
These are some decorations from The Cock & Bull Restaurant/Tavern
 at Peddler's Village, PA








We went to this cute bakery for a chocolate croissant.
I thought my girls would love that owl cake!
SHERLOCK HAT!

I bought a knit winter hat and some earrings at this hat shop
in Peddler's Village. Erin has some hats from here that kept
her head warm during chemo.

Water Wheel at Peddler's Village

There were dozens of scarecrows on display at Peddler's Village.
We liked this one wearing the Helmet of Salvation, the shield of faith,
wielding the Sword of the Spirit, etc.,  vanquishing the devil pumpkin.
To get to Peddler's Village, we had to cross the Delaware River
 from New Jersey to Pennsylvania. We crossed the same place General
Washington did. It's a really lovely river.

The Delaware River
The famous painting of Washington on a tavern there on the banks
of the river.

Mushroom forest on Ft. Dix
Found my name on  bottle of coke FINALLY...
at Newark Airport!

Saw my SIL Amie's Mom Cynthia working at the SLC Airport when I changed planes.
First Officer Hillard is responsible for this, the best photo bomb ever.

Rich made this amazing bench from a
Head and Foot board of a bed for my mom.

Facebook postcard of the week...
love this one!

Monday, October 13, 2014

FAMILY LETTER 10.12.14


Dear Loved Ones,                                           12 October 2014
 
I wish there were words to express how edifying and uplifting the past two weeks have been. Certainly from Women’s Conference on 9/27, to General Conference last weekend, and a joyful Sabbath today, we have received so much strength and vision. But we’ve also enjoyed happy times with family and friends, beautiful weather, productivity, opportunities to serve, all adding to sense of hope and well-being in spite of the chaos and tragedy happening around the world.
 
Monday 9/29 was back to the grind. I did laundry and made potato salad for dinner with the Elders. We had a summer BBQ dinner with burgers and salads, then they taught our FHE lesson about the power of the Book of Mormon and challenged the whole family to read ad gain or strengthen our testimonies of the book. Addie and I went to Community Choir and then got hot cocoa at McD’s and worked on her math homework. Turns out I am no help when it comes to positive and negative integers and practicing the order of operations (thank heaven for the Khan Academy app!).
 
Tuesday 9/30 was Rich’s last Scout Training day so it was just me and the kiddos at home. Addie had a he project to work on, so I couldn’t attend James’ first Pack meeting, which made me sad. He had a great time and is always working on his scout book. Wednesday was Activity Days, and YM/YW, so I just had James, Niles and Ammon at home. They went to sleep so nicely, I continued some sewing projects. Addie got her Personal Progress all updated—she is doing awesome! Heidi is falling in love with church basketball.
 
That weekend we were so happy to have the Postum cousins with us from Helena. Amie was doing her doula training and certification in Bozeman, so Matt brought the kids over on Friday after lunch. He and Amie brought a yummy dinner of enchiladas, beans and rice. Amie got home from her class at 6pm and we ate and watched old home videos from their wedding and watched the kids play together. It was a perfect family night. Saturday morning we had a smorgasbord of cereals and fruits and watched general conference. The weather was so beautiful; we took lots of walks and trampoline breaks. We had a sandwich bar for lunch and leftovers for dinner. Rich, Matt, and Cody went to priesthood meeting while Amie and I took care of kids and watched “Hook.” Sunday morning, Rich went all out on a big breakfast—YUM! We were nice and full when Music & the Spoken Word came on at 9:30 and we settled in for another day of conference (I collected notes/comments from everyone, which I will put in another document). We had chicken noodle soup and cheddar bay biscuits for dinner and sang Happy Birthday to Uncle Sam via facebook. The Postums packed up and went home after dinner. Cody also had Zecklin here for the weekend, so Matt and Amie took him back to his mom in Helena. It was good cousin fun for everyone.
 
Watching conference during our favorite Elder Klebingat:
Addie, Ammon, Zecklin, Cody, Matt's knee and Rich's knee.

Conference Babies! Ammon & Zeck

Emily and Niles going on a nature walk
between Sunday sessions
 
Niles and Emily collecting wildflowers for their nature bags.
Sunday afternoon lego aftermath
Beautiful chaos!
 
 This past week we enjoyed more amazing weather. This Indian Summer is spoiling us!  I did TONS of laundry Monday and started organizing all the choir stuff for my “church job” as music chair/choir director. The last quarter of the year is my busy season, since the ward history is due at the New Year (I’m the historian, too), and everyone one loves music during the holidays. I found so much great music for the holidays, including an amazing piano/flute/soprano solo that is a medley of “For the Beauty of the Earth” and a Bach piece. I am so excited to start practicing Christmas music when I get home from my trip! Speaking of choir, the girls and I went to Community Choir, but they went to a cool honors choir concert at the high school for the first hour. I love doing music with them!
 
Tuesday was our first night home together as a family in a long time, so we did a project after dinner. We cleaned and organized the play room and donated two trash bags full of toys. The room looked great when we finished and it was nice to work together! Wednesday Heidi joined Addie for a fun beehive activity where they painted these cute wooden black cats for Halloween decorations. Rich and his scouts came up with a wonderful fundraising idea. After taking inventory of all his scout stuff, Rich realized that they really don’t have the camping gear they should have and he has been filling in with his own equipment for years. So he proposed to the bishopric that the troop purchase a small trailer and stock it with camping gear. They composed a really nice fundraising letter for local businesses (many of which are run by troop 524 alumni) and have already received several commitments. I am so excited that Rich has this calling—it has been fun to see inspiration and ideas come to him since he was set apart. I believe he will work wonders for the troop and bless the lives of the deacons in his group.
 
Thursday 10/9 sweet little Ammon finally had his 4 month check-up—the day before he turned 5 months. He had three shots and two of them made little injection site reactions on his right leg. He was pretty sad and whiny on Thursday and Friday, so I just took those two days to love on him. He is doing great, super healthy and happy and developing well. He is 17lbs 12 oz and 27” long…average for a 10 month old (no wonder my back hurts!) I sure feel blessed to be his mama!
 
 
 
Saturday 10/11 Terry Carter and I hosted a belated Bridal shower for Stephanie Larson O’Dell (Mom & Dad, so you know Carol O’Dell? She is Steph’s new mother in law and she was the life of the party, I tell ya!). It was a cozy, overcast day and the party was over lunch time. We had a fall theme (“Fall in Love”) with comfort food for lunch, like my chicken noodle soup and mini-dutch apple pies, Terry’s wheat rolls and pumpkin bars, and hot apple cider. I really enjoyed it. Afterward, I took a nap with Ammon while Rich went out to the ranch to check on things and do some wood work. Later, I took the kids out to roast hot dogs, brats, and s’mores with the Jones Family.  There just are no words for the beauty of the fiery trees, the river, the mountains, the beautiful sunset, and 13 gorgeous children at play, having a ball. Of course, we love spending time with Robyn and Lope, so it was an all-around wonderful night. We are doing our best to savor this breathtaking season.
 
Today’s church meeting was absolutely wonderful from start to finish. We got a new Young Women’s presidency: Lynn Moore as president, Robyn Tyner 1st counselor, Bonnie Speas 2nd counselor, and Jenn Claar secretary, with Lynette Kapp as advisor/ Personal Progress leader. The Elders Quorum Presidency gave inspired talks in Sacrament meeting about being Christlike in our family relationships. The talks were a perfect blend of doctrine and personal testimony. I just love Ryan Speas; he will do a great job as Elders Quorum President. Relief Society lesson was so excellent, about Loving all of God’s Children. Such a good discussion and so many great quotes in that lesson! Here’s just one I loved: “…Through the aid of the Holy Ghost, it is possible for us to stand united together seeing eye to eye and overcoming our sins and imperfections. If we will do this, respecting all the commandments of the Lord, we shall be a power in the world for good; we shall overwhelm and overcome all evil, all opposition to the truth, and bring to pass righteousness upon the face of the earth.” I love that thought! Reminds me of the Christina Rossetti Christmas Poem:
 Love came down at Christmas,
Love all lovely, Love Divine,
Love was born at Christmas,
Star and Angels gave the sign.

Worship we the Godhead,
Love Incarnate, Love Divine,
Worship we our Jesus,
But wherewith for sacred sign?

Love shall be our token,
Love be yours and love be mine,
Love to God and all men,
Love for plea and gift and sign.

LOVE shall be our token! By this shall all men know we are HIS disciples.
 
So our love goes out to you! We are so grateful that our sweet niece Sariah is home from the hospital with a diagnosis and effective medication for ventricular tachycardia. Our prayers are with her for a strong heart and inspired doctors. We wish you all a happy week with lots of Indian Summer sun!

 

Love, Rich and Jamie and Family
 
 
PS: From Facebook this week...
 
I watched this CES talk on Wednesday night...loved it!

Throwback Thursday: My little Pumpkins, October 9, 2009

Retirement Plan!

A Favorite Quote from Women's Conference

LOL!
 

Sunday, September 28, 2014

FAMILY LETTER 09.28.14


Dear Loved Ones,                         28 September 2014

Two weeks have passed since our last family letter and it has been mostly sunny, warm, colorful, and busy!
On Monday 9/15 Addie and I joined the community choir and will be singing in a Christmas Concert on December 7th. Mark Mills from our ward is the director and the music is beautiful! So we have choir practice on Monday nights now, and Rich has meetings every other night of the week, so we have to do Family night on Fridays or Sundays. Tuesdays Rich has to go to a scout leader training thing in Belgrade for several weeks in a row, so the kids and I quick did homework, had a pancake dinner, and watched a movie (Hobbit, of course).

Wednesday was such a happy day. My dear friends, Rob & Georgia, welcomed their new daughter into the world. They have been married for 24 years, hoping for children of their own, and finally they were chosen to raise sweet little Moxie through an open adoption. It has been so fun to follow their journey the past 10 days and remember the life-altering experience of having our first child.  Wednesday was also the first night I sent all three of my big kids off to activities together, with Daddy doing scouts: Young Women, Activity Days and Cub Scouts—hooray! The little boys and I snuggled and watched The Roosevelts on PBS Roku.
Thursday 9/18 was a rainy day. We had all the Jones kids over for a playdate—and I had one with their mom, Robyn, too. They are sooo much fun, we had a great time! Aunt Angie came to visit us from Boise. She was in town for a wedding, so she came and had soup and bread with us on the only night that we were all home that week! It was so fun to introduce her to Ammon!

Friday Rich left for Camporee at 4:30 pm and they kids and I had breakfast for dinner and a Lord of the Rings movie marathon over the weekend. Saturday morning we got up and did some chores, and then we went to Helena to visit our Postum cousins and pick up Cousin Cody so he can stay with us and work and save up some money. We had a fun time—we miss Postums a TON! Uncle Matt was working but he came to the park and showed the kids his police truck and uniform. Niles was fascinated. We got home from Helena just after Daddy got home from Camporee. We made a quick dinner, got Cody settled, and got ready for church the next morning.
Sunday morning we left the house at 8:30am. Rich had to give a talk in Gardiner and I had to lead choir practice. So I took all 5 kids to the church and did choir practice, then we went to 3 hours of church, and met Rich back at home for a quick lunch and nap. At 4pm we started making some yummy Korean food—pork stir fry, cucumber kimchi, and regular kimchi—and had the Jones Family over for dinner (we really like Robyn and Lope, plus our girls—Addie and Eden and Clara, and Heidi and Jeanette— kind of had instant girl crushes on each other, so they are always wanting to get together; they also have 3 younger kids who love to play with James and Niles, so it’s fun for all). Brother Jones was just called as the new Young Men’s president and Rich is his 2nd counselor (Jake Tyner as 1st counselor). They’ll do great with the boys! I had a good visit with Cody while we put laundry away and prepared for a new week.

Monday 9/22 was back to the grind; I started to feel really tired and sore throat and achy while cooking dinner, so I dropped everything, chugged and emergenC, and went to bed. I had to skip Community Choir, but Addie went. Rich got the kids to bed and I slept off the beginnings of a cold, all the way until 11am Tuesday.

My sweet friend Robyn brought me green smoothies Tuesday morning while I was asleep. Cody started working with our builder, Mike, who is building a house next to us. It’s not a lot of work, but it’s something. He’s been really helpful at home, too. Rich had to go to Belgrade again, so the kids and I had tacos for dinner and did lots of reading and snuggling. The girls and I made 5 “fangirl”  T-shirts that night, designing them on the computer, printing out iron-ons, the ironing them and peeling them and being super excited (each girl made 2 Sherlock T-Shirts, and Addie made a “Camp Half-Blood” shirt from Percy Jackson to wear on character day at school).

Wednesday was my birthday and I woke up to sweet birthday songs from my littles. They all went off to school and I climbed in bed and snuggled Ammon while I read through lots of sweet birthday wishes on facebook. I asked friends and family to post me a memory or a wish as a gift and they were all so sweet. I really felt loved and was reminded what a blessed life I have lived so far. My visiting teachers came to visit and brought me ice cream. Rich took our family out to dinner at Fiesta en Jalisco to celebrate and gifted me with a kitchen radio/cd/Bluetooth player, which I am over the moon about. I get so much done in there if I can listen to my npr or podcasts or mommy jams! The first thing I did was play a conference talk from my iPad thru the Bluetooth for scripture study Thursday morning. Woo-hoo! Rich and Addie went off to YW/Scouts and I took the other kids home. They were pretty good about getting ready for bed, thank goodness. The day ended with some facetiming with my Brother Sam’s family, which I loved so much—Owen and Gavin were the cherry on top of my very nice day.

Thursday we did the final harvesting of our garden. We thought the nasty freeze would kill all the lettuce but it didn’t! I cut lettuce, probably 60 tomatoes, one sad little yellow squash amongst dozens of black leaves, green beans, chives, about 10 yellow onions, lavender, oregano, thyme, and the little boys dug up about 20 small carrots. James had Kinnick Lowe over after school and they had so much fun together. We had pasta for dinner—shells with alfredo sauce, turkey sausage, and sautéed onions, squash, and green beans from the garden, with a gorgeous green salad full of home grown veggies. Niles was especially excited because he helped me plant those starts way back in May.

Friday was Homecoming for Park High school and the whole town was a-buzz. Heidi and James stayed to march in the homecoming parade from 4-5pm. The parade was led by the first marching band at Park High since 1978, which I think is just AWESOME. Heidi had her friend Sophia over for dinner, then they went to the game with Sophia’s family. We got the littles to bed and Addie and I watched LOTR “Return of the King” since we hadn’t finished it last weekend. It was fun to make Book of Mormon parallels with Addie as we watched; what a wonderful world Tolkein created for us.

Saturday (and the night before) was a very rainy, cold day. It had been 95 degrees on my birthday, but it was only 50 Saturday. Rich finished winterizing the sprinkler system and yard while I finished laundry and chilled with the kids. The girls and I left for Bozeman at 3pm to go to the mall and then to the Women’s Conference/ dinner at the Stake Center. Rich and the boys (including Cody) went to Museum of the Rockies and dinner, then came home and watched “Troll Hunter”. I had such a fun time with my girls. They met up with the Jones girls and the Repscher girls, so we had this long table full of beautiful girls, with mamas on each end listening to the joyful middle school chatter. Then we all sat together, plus Aunt Jenn and her girls,  for the broadcast from Salt Lake City which was sweet. Once again, Deiter F. Uchtdorf hit it out of the park with his remarks. I want to tattoo his words on my girls’ eyelids so they can remember how awesome and divine they really are. It made me so excited for General Conference next week.

So today is Sunday, Fast Sunday, because General Conference is next weekend. I loved how President Uchtdorf referred to the Women's Conference last night as the opening session of general conference. I liked being reminded that the broadcast of General Conference is the grand finale of a week of training and learning and sharing for church members from all around the world. Our testimony meeting was lovely, Rich got to sub in James' class and I got to sub for Primary Chorister. We are now giving the kids a history lesson ala "Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure." All is well!
Much Love to all our family! Happy Birthday and baptism to cousin Matthew Melin, and Happy Birthday to Uncle Sam next Sunday. Have a great week!
Love, Rich and Jamie and Family

Aunt Angie and Ammon are surprised! 9/18

Niles writing a "pretty letter" to Grandma Lyn 9/19

Ammon, James, and Niles kept me company while Rich was away on Camporee

 
Freshly Bathed Ammon

Sweet little teether

I was so surprised to get a calendar from Jane Welch
 in Virginia for my birthday

Ammon looks worried about Niles The Crib Invader

Heidi marching in the homecoming parade (see red arrow) 9/26

The Senior Class Float in the Homecoming Parade--Michaela Claar!

Go, Rangers!

Saturday Morning Snuggles, Niles and Ammon 9/28

Heidi striking a Sherlock pose at Women's Conference

Mallory, Eden, Addie, Clara, and Heidi at
Women's Conference Dinner

Love these girls...even the photo bomber!

Addie and Clara ready for the broadcast

I posted this cute oldie for Throwback Thursday:
Heidi, Jake, James, Sam, and Addie snuggling in 2009

A sweet reminder