Wednesday, March 14, 2018


Dear Loved Ones                                                                                                                                  

Three weeks have flown by without me recording them but those three evenings were spent doing good things so I have no regrets—just fading memories! I think last time I wrote we were heading to dinner with the Jones family on February 18th. That was a delightful evening. The next Sunday Grandpa and Grandma Melin joined us for dinner and a family night discussion about the Aaronic Priesthood, which we are studying to help James prepare for ordination in September. The next Sunday was March 4th (“March Forth!”) and we had a Youth Fireside at our house. Then this Sunday we had Grandpa and Grandma over again for Mexican dinner and watching “Coco,” which movie we LOVE and have watched about 5 times the past week and bawled out eyes out every time! The hearts of the children are turning!

Anyhoooo, I can hardly remember other details of the past three weeks. I started an online October General Conference Study group on 2/19 and we are still going strong, We are in the middle of priesthood meeting talks this week. Our ‘niece’ (Heidi Buchert Egan’s daughter) Maggie Egan got her mission call on 2/20 to Utah Provo Mission, MTC 4/11. We got to skype in and watch her open her call and that was so fun. The next day was Papa Post’s and nephew Sam Post’s birthday, and nephew Owen on the 23rd—yay them!  On Saturday 2/24 we took the kids to Museum of the Rockies after chores. We watched a star show and explored the machines of ancient Rome, then went to dinner at Whistle Pig Korean-yum! That Sunday I got to chat with Sara, Dana, and Sam, which was really nice. Sam got released from the bishopric and called to the high council and he is happy to be able to sit with his family in church again (Kristen is probably glad about that, too). On 2/27 I got to feed our sister missionaries and go to Relief Society meeting. It was nice to have the sisters over and hear the conversion story of Sister Galloway. On Friday 3/2, we received sad news that our dear friend George Buchert, Papa B, passed away after a long fight with mesothelioma. Our hearts ache for our Buchert family and rejoice in his wonderful life. On Saturday 3/3, the girls and I had a date night. We went to Gil’s for food, then to see “Big River” at the Shane Center. Lots of our friends are in the show, including the entire Petry and Denniston families, and it was a great show. I had a ton of fun with the girls.  On ¾ we had a lovely fast Sunday and a “Sunday Evening Devotional” at our home with the youth. 13 kids came and we watched some of Sister Eubanks’ BYU forum address and Elder Palmer’s April 2017 conference address and talked about discipleship and shepherding, about how it’s not enough to just obey the commandments, but that true disciples “could not bear the thought that any soul should perish” and help the shepherd nourish his flock. That seems to be a huge hole in leadership training—we learn how to check boxes and make calendars and stitch quilts and donate food and have meetings, but do we get our hands dirty and our hearts broken and do the actual hard things Jesus would do if he were here?

Last week was the week of Spring concerts and illness. Everyone has taken a turn being really sick with a gnarly sinus cold that just lingers! Monday night we enjoyed James’ band concert and were amazed at how much the kids have progressed in 18 months of playing their instruments (and for James it has been only 6 months because he moved from trombone to French horn this year). Tuesday was Heidi’s awesome choir concert. It was scheduled at the same time as the Spring sports meeting at the high school, so Rich took the little guys to support Heidi and made videos for me to watch, and I took Addie to get all signed up for track. She has been running 3-4 miles 4 times a week for the past few months and much to our surprise she wants to join the track team, which is super cool. Wednesday was a crazy day, with an emergency meeting at the middle school at the end of the day. I had to scramble to get Niles picked up (thanks, neighbor Rebecca!) and ended up having to buy fast food dinner (ack!) because we had so much going on in the evening and I was feeling so sick. I got the kids all off to YW and scouts and Rich came home early to help me because I just needed to go to bed. He’s such a hero J Thursday I had Niles and Ammon home sick, and I was sick, but they only feel sick at night and go stir crazy during the day so I didn’t get much rest. We all went to bed early though and we are starting to kick this cold. Friday I had parent-teacher conferences for Ammon and they were delightful. He is the sunshine of his class room, hugs everyone, plays with every one, and knows 16 letters and their sounds and his numbers up to 13. I am most proud of his kindness and communication skills. He is such a little lovie, I can’t imagine our family without him. Saturday 3/10 was a chore and rest day for me, but Rich worked on the VW, then took the kids to Bozeman. Addie got fancy new running shoes and Rich made a Costco run. Saturday night my friends Natalie, Naomi, Robyn, Margaret, and Lisa came over to watch “Wonder” and chill by the fire. It was nice to get together. Sunday was a lovely church meeting. The theme for the month is temple work and Sister Cotant shared the near death experience of a three year old boy who was shown the importance of temple work (you can google it—NDE birdies). It was really touching, especially for Mom and Dad Melin who were sitting by us in the meeting. I know they work hard every single day in the temple to “free the birdies from their cages.” As I mentioned,  Mom and Dad came over and ate Mexican food with us, then watched “Coco”—more tears were shed over the beauty of eternal family relationships. I got to tell them about how Dia de los Muertos was celebrated in Tucson, and how it is so much more than a “Mexican Halloween.” We talked about how much the movie was like the book of Helaman in the the Book of Mormon, with themes of “I have given you the names of your fathers so you will remember them” and “Remember, remember.” We love the song “Recuerdame” but my favorite is the closing song that Miguel sings to his family, “Proud Corazon”:
Say that I'm crazy or call me a fool
 But last night it seemed that I dreamed about you
When I opened my mouth what came out was a song
 And you knew every word and we all sang along
To a melody played on the strings of our souls
 And a rhythm that rattled us down to the bone
Our love for each other will live on forever
In every beat of my proud corazón
Ay mi familia, oiga mi gente
Canten a coro, let it be known
 Our love for each other will live on forever
 In every beat of my proud corazón ---[(Video:  ]

We are so amazingly blessed to know what really matters. In a world that is coming apart and searching for the reasons, we know: family is everything. The cure for everything that ails us, including school shootings and mental illness and addiction—whatever, is having a loving family, a place we belong,  and a soft place to fall. And knowing that the family is eternal and the foundation of celestial society gives even more purpose and meaning to all that we do in life. So many people are lacking those things, “wherefore how great the importance to make these things known unto the children of men” and to share the abundance of family peace and love we have with those who have none. It’s the best and only lasting solution to the troubles around us. We love you all and wish you a healthy, happy, productive week! Xoxo

Love, Jamie and Rich and Family

Dinner with Jonesies 2/18

Snow on 2/18

Singing the same hymn as Cousin Dave in Kuwait

Heidi and Mom 2/21

Niles and Ammon at Museum of the Rockies

Addie and Nero at MOR

The Boys at the Star Show at MOR 2/24

Korean Dinner at Whistle Pig after the Museum 2/24

Girls Night Out- Gelato and "Big River"

James Band Concert at SGMS 3/5

Heidi Choir Concert at SGMS 3/6

Maggie's Mission Call 2/21

Sisters Pettijohn and Galloway after dinner 2/27

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                                                                                                                            ...