Sunday, June 14, 2015

FAMILY LETTER 06.15.15


Dear Loved Ones,                                       
 
It has been a busy two weeks at our house, finishing up school and starting summer. Somehow we still seem as busy as ever. Next week’s schedule looks more like summer to me.

The first week of June was super busy with end of school activities. Heidi had to prepare her final social studies project, the Fifth Grade Wax Museum, where she portrayed J.R.R. Tolkien. It was fun helping her prepare—we finally learned that he preferred to pronounce his name “TOL-keen.”  Wednesday 6/3 I helped her finish her backdrop—a quote from The Hobbit—and Friday 6/5, we attended the museum and concert (songs from American History Civil War through World War II). She did a great job! During Heidi’s museum, the middle school had an awards assembly and Addie got a few awards—A Presidential Scholar award for having a cumulative 4.0, plus awards from two teachers for being awesome and maintaining a 4.0 in their classes all year. We are grateful she is so self-motivated!

Thursday June 4th was the craziest day! The little boys and I had been pretty sick on Wednesday, and Niles was still a little woozy on Thursday, but it was his last day of preschool and they had a BBQ at the park. Rich met me there at 11:30 and we had lunch and let the boys play at the park. Then I took the very tired boys home to nap and Rich went to James’ Track meet. At 5 we went to Addie’s final Choir concert at the middle school—it was excellent, they have come so far in a year!  At 6pm we went over to the ball park for James’ last baseball game, which was really fun. All six of his team mates had a really good play and a good hit, so it was a nice way to end the season. Rich had to leave in the middle of the game to head to Bozeman for Scout Roundtable, so the girls helped me bathe the grubby boys and get them to bed. What a busy, fun day!

Monday June 8th we had Grandma and Grandpa Melin over for dinner, Family Night and birthday cake to celebrate Grandma’s 68th birthday 2 days early. We had a nice time with them. They’ve been traveling so much, we missed them!

Wednesday June 10th was the last day of school (and Grandma’s actual birthday). I had a doctor appointment at 8:45am, so grandma came and watched the boys for me that morning. When I got home, we ran to the park to meet the kids for an end-of-school picnic. We had bubbles and baseball and hung out with the Lowe kids and friends from school for an hour or so. I brought the little boys home for naps, but the girls rode bikes with their friends all afternoon. Addie went to the Farmer’s Market with her friends, and then they all went up to Young Women, then to a big party at her Beehive leader’s house afterward. I drove three girls home at 11:45pm and they were just giddy with Summer fever!

 James had Cub Scout Day Camp on Friday and Saturday. It was western-themed and he had such a blast. Rich was able to join him on Saturday, and afterward they went on a father-son date to “Jurassic World.” Meanwhile at home I tried to maintain the boys’ regular schedule while helping the girls get to all their social engagements. We went thrifting for summer clothes on Friday and the pool opened on Saturday, so we had our own fun during day camp. Saturday night just before Rich got home, while the girls were watching movies with their friends, I carried a big load of laundry downstairs and fell and slid down the last five stairs, bruising my right glute and ribs. I caught my breath and got up fine, but after a few hours of sleep I was in serious pain last night. I took some Aleve--I can only rest on my left side, can’t sit (well, it’s 6pm and I’m sitting okay now, but not this morning!). I hope an adjustment and some swimming will help me feel better tomorrow—ain’t nobody got time for that!

 Happy Birthday this week to Uncle Josh Craft, Uncle Ryan Layton, Daddy Rich and Cousin Liana on Thursday, and Cousin Raef on Saturday. Have a great week, everybody. We love you!

 
Love, Rich and Jamie and Family
 
Heidi painting her backdrop 6/3
 
Add caption


Playing at the park during Niles' Preschool BBQ 6/4

Ammon loves crawling through the tunnel at the park.

James throwing a softball at the track meet 6/4

James long jumping 6/4

Addie's Choir Concert 6/4


James' last at-bat 6/4

Heidi as Tolkien at the 5th Grade Wax Museum 6/5


End-of-School Picnic on 6/10:
Ammon, Addie, Amelie, Jeanette, Heidi

Summer Girls, Middle School Pals 6/10

Niles napping 6/10

James and Cubbie friends celebrated the last day of school with
make-your-own pizza and trampoline at our house 6/10:
Kinnick, James, Zane, William, Ammon, and Niles

A cubbie root beer toast to summer! Cheers!

One of the YW helpers posted this photo of the Beehives at YW 6/10
Addie, Amelie, Izzi, and Jeanette
(Addie tells me they were making "one eyed-one-horned-flying purple people eater hats for girls camp)

Paleo dinner with our missionaries, Elders Brock and McMahon
Lemon-Garlic grilled veggies and chicken with mushroom couscous.

Shopping at Target with my heroes 6/12

SpiderNiles

CUB SCOUT DAY CAMP! 6/12-13

Mustaches!

Jeopardy!

BB Target Shooting

Lassoing!
 
 

Sunday, May 31, 2015

FAMILY LETTER 05.31.15


Dear Loved Ones,                                                        

The last day of May already!  It was finally warm today, a glimpse of good things to come. We have had a very rainy couple of weeks!

This week has been a fun one and starting out with a Monday holiday made it really fly by. We spent Monday out at the ranch and we are so glad we did! It was sunny and beautiful until late afternoon. The kids went fishing early in the morning, then we played pirates and went swinging, walking, and even took a little nap on a blanket in the sunshine. The Jones family stopped by for an hour or two on their way to a Pine Creek hike. We had lunch at the pavilion and roasted some marshmallows for s’mores dessert. I walked with Robyn down to the beach where the kids played in the sand and we talked about how fun this summer is going to be.  We headed home in time to do laundry and take a good nap and get ready for school the next day. It was a very nice family day.

Tuesday I did my mom jobs during the day and packed some awesome brown bag dinners for my family that night so we could all drive down to Gardiner for James’ baseball game. It was a pretty drive—we saw elk, antelope, bison, Angus cattle, sheep, horses, and gophers a-plenty. The baseball field in Gardiner is right along the old railroad line from Livingston into Yellowstone Park, and the Roosevelt Arch (Yellowstone’s North gate) is right by the field.  James played well, though his team had 5 players and the other team had 12 ;) We didn’t get home until after 8pm, and we missed helping the Roberts family move back into our ward from Idaho, but it was another good time together as a family.

That night after the game, James woke up sick and came to sleep in our room. He ended up throwing up and I was afraid a bug was passing through the family but everyone was fine by Wednesday afternoon, so we let James play in his second to last baseball game that night. Addie went to Bozeman for a Girls’ Camp meeting, Heidi stayed home to do homework, and Rich and I took the little boys and met Grandpa and Grandma Melin at the baseball game. Bless their hearts, the grandparents had just arrived home from New Jersey at 3pm and they still came to cheer for James.

Thursday we were so relieved to have a stay-at-home night, though we had signed up to feed the missionaries dinner. We planned breakfast-for-dinner (pancakes, bacon, and smoothies) but the Elders were in Big Timber that night. So we ate the food ourselves and did homework. Rich and I watched a show called “I Hate Christian Laettner,” which did actually make me like him much less. Rich and I have a fundamental disagreement about Duke University—I have warm fuzzies about Duke because I served as a missionary there on campus in 1994 and I think Coach K is an awesome person, though I am much more a Tarheels fan; Rich hates Duke and he hates Coach K. I was indifferent about Laettner, but my eyes have been opened…lol.

Friday Rich took us to Noodles & Co. for dinner in Bozeman, which was a fun surprise (he needed to get stuff at Home Depot). We also stopped at Costco, Staples, and World Market. While we wer out, I got a text from Jordyn Yarborough with a cute photo of here and her man at Temple Square with a ring on her finger! She and Jake Ontiveros plan to be married in August. We are so happy for her!

Saturday we planned to sand and paint our deck and put in our garden because it was supposed to not rain over the weekend. HA! It poured over night, but the morning was sunny. So Rich could not paint the deck or patch the roof around the chimney (there is a drip in the chimney). We did get our garden planted; the transplants seemed a little shocked, I hope they recover! Instead of the deck, Rich refinished our Adirondack chairs and they look great. Saturday afternoon it got rainy, so I napped with the little boys, the girls had the Jones girls and Izzi over, and we grilled burgers in the evening with the Roberts Family. We are so grateful to have them back in our ward family!

I’m embarrassed how sore and tired four hours of yard work made me. The aging plus the arthritis and chronic fatigue make me feel 90 sometimes. Somehow we made it to church Sunday morning and got to sit with Grandpa and Grandma this week! We had good talks about self-reliance and then I taught Niles’ Primary class. It was such a nice day, I told them we could have the second half of our lesson outside, but then one of them ran away and another one gave chase, so I sent Heidi after them. It was kind of funny, but we all made it to sharing time safely. I miss Primary, they are so cute. We napped today, then Rich had a priesthood meeting in Bozeman and left at 5pm. I helped Heidi with some research, then cracked the whip and had the kids clean up and get in their jammies, and we went on a Sunday drive. The river is high and beautiful, we saw ducks bobbing on the rapids at Mayor’s Landing and the kids called it “duck surfing.” When Daddy got home, everyone was in bed reading or asleep, which was a nice surprise for him. I had a good chat with my brother Sam, then sat down to write this letter. It has been a most peaceful Sabbath day.
Some of you are out of school already—HAPPY SUMMER! We still have school until June 10th. This is the first year that summer break hasn’t filled me with anxiety (“what will I feed them? How will I keep them busy?”). It’s going to be AWESOME (yes, you should come visit us and join in the fun…2 bedrooms and four couches and beautiful Montana/ Yellowstone all around!).  We wish you all a happy week!

Love, Rich and Jamie and Family
Ammon swinging on Memorial Day at the Ranch
Niles and Addie fishing at the ranch on Memorial Day

Jeanette, Clara, Addie, and Eden at Pine Creek, Memorial Day
(photo: Robyn Jones)

River Drive in Livingston, Memorial Day
(photo: D. Perryman)


Tuesday Baseball in Gardiner near the arch
Walkin' Man walks on (5/26)

Friday news! Jordy & Jake!

Our garden and the cool birdhouse James built in Cub Scouts.

One of many flower boxes we potted last week
 

Sunday, May 24, 2015

FAMILY LETTER 05.24.15


Dear Loved Ones,                         
 
Happy Birthday to Aunt Elena and Happy Baptism Day to Cousin Jared! What a special day for their family!

We wish we could have joined Grandpa and Grandma Melin in New Jersey this weekend for the celebration.

We’ve had another week full of regular family stuff.  One exception was I got to have an echocardiogram on Monday. It was really cool to see my heart. It’s healthy, with no holes, murmurs, or blockages. So far I’ve had my brain, carotids, aorta, inferior vena cava, and iliac veins checked and everything is clear. I guess I should back up and tell you that after meeting with the neurologist on the 6th they suspect my February “episode” was a TIA and they just wanted to be sure there are no blood clots wandering around my body. We will get this all settled down, perhaps take a daily aspirin, and get approved to start exercising again and get off all the weight I have gained. I am sure 90% of my problems will at least be alleviated with that plan!

 So after the medical adventures Monday we went to James’ baseball game for FHE with Grandpa and Grandma Melin and FROZE to death…it was so cold! James did great and had fun. Tuesday was a crazy busy day.  It was Niles’ 4th birthday AND James’ last field trip. I volunteered to chaperone because I haven’t done anything with him all year. So Grandma came over at 7:30 and watched Ammon for us. We had birthday breakfast and rushed off to school. James and I and his classmates worked most of the day at Rocky Creek Farm, planting trees, strawberries, pumpkins, sunflowers, picking up prunings, and feeding baby goats. On the way home we stopped to visit grizzly bears. I was exhausted! I caught a quick nap, then made Niles’ dinner and cupcakes. We ate then went bowling because Niles has been begging to go there. We got home and ate cupcakes and opened gifts. One gift was a pirate costume, which Niles insisted on sleeping in. He also got a Pete The Cat book collection, so we got to read stories and snuggle our cute little pirate to sleep on his birthday-night.

Wednesday I caught up on laundry and rested—working on the farm really did me in! Rich got to nap with me on his lunch, which is always kinda fun. That night we had our church activities and I stayed home with the little boys and went to bed early. Thursday Niles had a follow up x-ray for his fractured arm. It isn’t healed all the way, but enough so he can have his sling off. That night James had another game. It was raining hard when we got there, but the rain let up and a rainbow came out during the game. Uncle Mike got to join us, so that was fun. He came home and joined us for homemade biscuits and chicken noodle soup and the kids showed him the silly Goat Simulator game they bought last week. It was a lot of fun.

Friday we had a sunny morning so I cleaned  up outside and inside and cleaned the car while it was sunny. By naptime it was overcast and it rained all evening. We had homemade pizza and movies —The Avengers and Paddington. Saturday was another rainy day, so we did chores in the morning and made some soup and bread and invited the Jones family over to watch Paddington with us in the afternoon. It was a nice “staycation” day. That night Heidi went over to a friends’ house, the boys watched Jurassic Park, and Addie and I watched “Three Coins in a Fountain” on PBS. We also played with our new app, Dubsmash, making silly videos. Addie and Heidi really crack me up sometimes!

Church was nice today, it was high council Sunday and we learned a lot about our new high councilor. He gave a good, heartfelt talk about opening our mouths and hastening the work.  Niles gave the prayer in Primary, and Heidi gave a nice talk about how the 4th article of faith is our path home to Heavenly Father. We had naps and grilled brats for dinner, even though it is cold and rainy. Now the kids want to join Uncle Mike at the ranch and make s’mores, so I think that’ where we are headed.

We hope your coming week is good and that you feel our love and have all the guidance and blessing you need. We got some nice letters from Aunt Jill and had a long talk with Uncle Matty last week and our thoughts and prayers are especially with them this week. On Wednesday Uncle Matt Post AND Kara Layton (Ryan’s wife) both turn 34 (I think)—so HAPPY BIRTHDAY to them!! We love you.

 

Love, Rich and Jamie and Family

PS: Just thought we’d share some of our favorite gospel quotes this Sabbath day…these are so encouraging!

 “Brothers and sisters, I testify that no one of us is less treasured or cherished of God than another. I testify that He loves each of us—insecurities, anxieties, self-image, and all. He doesn’t measure our talents or our looks; He doesn’t measure our professions or our possessions. He cheers on every runner, calling out that the race is against sin, not against each other. I know that if we will be faithful, there is a perfectly tailored robe of righteousness ready and waiting for everyone, ‘robes … made … white in the blood of the Lamb.’  May we encourage each other in our effort to win that prize is my earnest prayer, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.”

 -Jeffrey R. Holland, The Other Prodigal, Ensign May 2002.
 

Who is righteous? Anyone who is repenting. No matter how bad he has been, if he is repenting he is a righteous man. There is hope for him. And no matter how good he has been all his life, if he is not repenting, he is a wicked man. The difference is which way you are facing. The man on the top of the stairs facing down if much worse off than the man on the bottom step who is facing up. The direction we are facing, that is repentance; and that is what determines whether we are good or bad.”

-Hugh Nibley, Approaching Zion, pg. 301-302


“I do not know who in this vast audience today may need to hear the message of forgiveness inherent in this parable, but however late you think you are, however many chances you think you have missed, however many mistakes you feel you have made or talents you think you don’t have, or however far from home and family and God you feel you have traveled, I testify that you have not traveled beyond the reach of divine love. It is not possible for you to sink lower than the infinite light of Christ’s Atonement shines.”

-Jeffrey R. Holland, Laborers in the Vineyard, Ensign, May 2012
 
Flashback to 5/10...Ammon's Birthday Cake

Rub-a-dub-dub, three men in a tub!


Blurry action shot of the birthday boy bowling

Heidi and James bowling 5/19

Cupcakes and presents after bowling 5/19

Dread Pirate Niles! 5/19

Heidi with the huge new pan Rich scored at the thrift store for $2

Ammon 5/20
James and me on the bus to the field trip 5/19

Feeding goats 5/10


My group of kids on the farm field trip, planting strawberries

Heidi's Activity Days group made "modest" duck tape dresses at their activity 5/20
 
The rainbow at James' game Thursday night 5/21
 


Sunday, May 17, 2015

FAMILY LETTER 05.17.15


Dear Loved Ones,                                          

Another cold, rainy May Sunday evening…I really love this weather and we need the rain so much after our dry winter. It’s making for a pretty crazy baseball season, though.


Monday I went visit teaching in the morning then took Niles and his friends to the park since the sun was out and it was an absolutely perfect spring day. I let Ammon crawl and toddle all over the park and he was so exuberant and joyful. He would stop periodically and just raise his arms and squeal and clap for joy. It was really something. That night we practiced batting for Family Night and daddy took us to Pickle Barrel for ice cream.


Tuesday was a crazy day.  Addie and Rich needed to go to a broadcast for the youth at church and I needed to take the boys and Heidi to James’ baseball game in Gardiner (50 miles away). So I loaded up the kids at 4:15 and headed out—we had to grab dinner to go. I was surprise they hadn’t called the game yet because it was raining in Livingston and the Gardiner forecast said 70% chance of rain. So we headed out and just after we left town I got a text cancelling the game. We stopped at the ranch to give Grandma her Mother’s Day gifts since she had been in Idaho on Mother’s Day. We came home and built a fire and finished folding laundry while we streamed the same broadcast that Rich and Addie were at. It was a discussion with Elder Bednar and his wife and they gave great counsel. My favorite part was when Elder Bednar told the youth that they didn’t need somebody to tell them if certain actions were right or wrong because they have the gift of the Holy Ghost—if you aren’t feeling good about it, then it’s probably not good. Trust the Spirit. Good advice.
 

Wednesday I was supposed to have an EMG on my left shoulder and elbow but I got the time wrong and was too late, so they did a couple of other tests and went over some labs and rescheduled for later. I ran home to meet up with the family for James’ baseball game. We ate pizza dinner at the game and Rich had to leave early for scouts. James hit the first pitch on his first three at-bats and he caught a pop fly at the pitcher’s mound. It’s so fun to watch him play and I’m glad his league is so easy-going (we are definitely not competitive in this family).
 

Thursday I got to go to “Muffins for Mommy” with Niles. I took Ammon with me and we all enjoyed some muffins, fruit and yogurt with Niles’ preschool class. They were adorable. I came back home and finished up some laundry and mending and prepared for our first night home together all week. It sure was nice (I’m such a hermit). Friday Rich took his scouts to the Spring Camporee in the freezing rain. They camped in a quarry and learned climbing, rappelling and bouldering skills. I stayed home and learned chauffeuring skills. At 5pm, Addie went to a “Selection” Tea Party at the library celebrating the release of the newest book in the “Selection” series. She looked so pretty and had a great time. I went home and fed the other kids, then took Heidi and James to meet up with friends to see “The Avengers.”  Then I took Niles out for a milkshake because he felt left out. By then it was 7 and time to pick up Addie. She helped me get the boys to bed, and then it was time to pick up Heidi and James at 9:15. I got them all to bed and settled into bed myself at 11. Then Ammon started screaming for no reason and Niles woke up crying with an ear ache and for an hour I was having stereo screaming. Soon everyone was medicated and comforted and we slept from 12:30am-5:30am. 
 

It was pouring rain on Saturday morning, so we did chores and played games and watched movies and tried (not very successfully) to nap. Daddy got home from his scout trip at 6pm and we met him up at the church so we could clean the building for Sunday. We were done at 7:40pm and so exhausted!
 
The little boys seem to have a bit of a cold and I caught it. I stayed home with Ammon today while the rest of the family went to church. We slept most of the morning. Ammon seems better, had two long naps today. We need our strength for a busy week. Tomorrow I have electrocardiography with saline IV, whatever that means (they are still trying to see if I show signs of a TIA back in Feb-March). Then Tuesday is Niles’ 4th Birthday. He is so excited! We’re also excited for Cousin Jared Melin’s baptism next Sunday, on his mom’s (Aunt Elena’s) Birthday.

 

Love, Rich and Jamie and Family
 

Ammon crawling around the park on Monday

Four four-year olds playing on Monday at the park

Monday night after family batting practice

Ammon's making a run for it...

Silly Daddy!

James playing legos on Tuesday at Grandma's

The valley on Tuesday night

Spring scenery on my drive home from Bozeman Deaconess on Wednesday


Ammon and Daddy being silly at James' game Wednesday night.


Suh-WING, Batter!

Niles, Mommy, and Ammon at Muffins for Mommy on Thursday


Ammon's hair is so curly when it's wet...
after baths on Friday night

Rich's scouts at Spring Camporee

Scouts bouldering

Scouts rapelling