Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Merry Christmas from the Melins!
It just occured to me that I sent about 100 people to our blog via our Christmas letter and some have not been here before. So if you are visiting via the Christmas letter, WELCOME! There are 3 years worth of family history, stories, rants, and photos here, so feel free to explore. There are links to other family and friends to your right, and the archives are to your right, too--click on any month you want to see. If you are looking for pix of the HOUSE, July and August 2005 are good months to look at, or click here. Wanna see Addie's self-butchered haircuts? Click here . And you can see the girls doing their thing just about anywhere you look here. Here's a fun trip to Disneyland and California, and some photos of our ranch here and here.

There's also a place to leave comments and we would love to hear from you. We know that is is the people--our family and friends-- who make all of these memories matter. It's the time of year we feel so grateful for the eternal nature of relationships and love and for Him who made it all possible. Christ is why we celebrate and His spirit is what brings the light and joy of Christmas. I thank heaven (in my exhaustion) that it comes every year to remind us of all the joy we have now and what we have to look forward to.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Love & Joy Come To You!...

Merry Christmas! We are right in the middle of a wonderful Christmas Day--I love when Christmas is on Sunday! I have tons of pix to post, but here are three of my faves. I'll post more after I enjoy this day with my family! Much love & joy...Last night after reading Luke 2 : Daddy-Joseph, Heidi Angel, Addie-Mary, and Mommy videographer (not pictured: Grandpa- narrator & Grandma -director)
Today after church in our Sunday Best.
This photo captures the whole joy of the holiday for me. I love these two more than anything, and the fact that the Father would send his Son here for us ( and that Mary & Joseph did what they did) means so much more now that I know what it means to be a parent.
Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 22, 2005

What Child IS This?

The girls have their own nativity scene downstairs; it's the Fisher-Price Little People one and they LOVE it, especially Heidi, who wraps the figures in klennex or scarves each day and gives them a nap on the subwoofer next to the entertainment center where they normally reside.

Each night after they go to bed, I clean up downstairs and almost every night I find a new and funny arrangement in the stable. I wish I had been taking notes all month because they crack me up, but here are a few:

(Keep in mind, we have these same type of Little People in other play sets, like a farm, a boat, and a school bus, as well as other small toys that fit in the stable).

--Tonight, Joseph is missing, but the bus driver is standing in his stead.
--Yesterday, Tumnus of Narnia joined the gang in the stable.
--Last week, the donkey, camel, and one wiseman were missing, but there was a Polly Pocket 4-wheeler parked at the manger; way better than that smelly old donkey, I am guessing. Handy for fleeing to Egypt, too.
--A few of the grown up figures were gone, but Baby Jesus, the angel, and the animals were hanging out with Polly Pocket around her plastic campfire the other night.
--One night, Baby Jesus went missing, but Joseph and Mary looked down adoringly on a tiny wnd-up monkey (it does flips!) from a kids meal.
--The goat, the chicken, and the farmer frequently join in the worship, which is as it should be.

PS: Two Willies

Also, tonight we finally watched the new-ish Willy Wonka movie and we quite liked it. It was wacky, as all Roald Dahl stories are, but I can't imagine a wackier combo than Dahl, Tim Burton, Danny Elfman, Johnny Depp, and Helena Bonham-Carter. Kooks. It was fun to see some back story, which I am sure we have all imagined after watching the first Willy Wonka. Johnny Depp played an equally-psycho, yet more approachable and childlike Wonka in his oh-so-talented way (fun thing to do: remind yourself that this is the same guy that plays Pirate Jack Sparrow!) And by the way, if you want to see the original Wonka, it's on ABC Family this weekend.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005


Something weird happened last night while I was working out. At the end of 2 circuits, I go do 5 sets of ten crunches on the rocker thingy, then stretch and go home. But last night I just laid down and started crunching and I did three sets of thirty, almost effortlessly. Well, not effortlessly, because the last set was really hard, but not harder that the 5 sets of 10. And today I am not even sore. Weird. I got possessed by super abs. And I have this rule that you can always do the same or a little more but never less than the day before, so I guess I am on a new plateau as far as crunching goes.

I have that familiar little scratchiness in my throat and a bit of a stuffy nose. I am praying not to be sick on Christmas--exercising, chuggin' Airborne, and eating oranges...ugh!

Update: 8pm--the weirdness is gone and I broke my own rule--I went back to work out tonight and tried to do the mighty 90 crunches but could only do 4 sets of 15 (60). Musta been a fluke.

Monday, December 19, 2005

ON THIS DATE IN HISTORY: My sisters Laura & Lisa were born!

The year was 1974 and the place was Safford, Arizona. Willy & I had gone to stay with Grandpa & Grandma Elrey in Tucson while mom recovered from delivering twins (we were 3 &2 years old). Mom & Dad came from Safford with the new babies on Christmas Eve, so it was liek Santa had brought Willy and me each a baby! I remember I got the Sunshine Family dolls for Christmas and I was so excited, but nothing could beat getting TWO baby sisters for Christmas.

Happy Birthday, Laura & Lisa!
And PS: Last Tuesday was my sister Sara's 23rd birthday--I didn't forget and she knows it cuz I sent her a cool card, but I didn't blog it, so now I'm doing it!
Feliz Cumpleanos, Sara!
Layton/Post/Drews Kids, 2001- Mike, Amy, Laura, Lisa, FakeMatt, Sam, Sara, Jamie, Jill, Dana, & Willy
Here are all my siblings at Sara's wedding September 1, 2001 in California (the two tiny adopted ones are missing from this picture and Matt is actual a cardboard FakeMatt because RealMatt was on his mission in New York City). The birthday girls are labeled and I am hiding behind Sara because I am about 7 months pregnant with Addie.

Birthday Girls

Here are the twins as toddlers, with my dad's parents, The Laytons. Laura is on the left and Lisa is on the right (and that's Jamie, Willy and Kliss across the back, and Max Ross in the middle).
Laura with her son Jared last year.
Lisa & Mom in February 2001.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Cool Thing #37 About Living in a Tiny Town

This is kind of our weekend in review. We got to go to a nice party at our neighbor's house on Friday night, then had a brunch here on Saturday morning, then the Melin Agency Dinner Party at Fiesta en Jalisco Saturday evening and we even went and FINALLY saw Narnia after dinner while Nicole babysat (she's 16 now, so we almost never get her to babysit anymore--SCORE!). We looooved the movie so much! I thought they chose a darling Lucy and an excellent White Witch (she looked perfectly like some Norse villain, but I kept thinking, "Get that woman some moisturizer!"). Narnia was beautiful as was the cinematography (except the cheezy green screen on the water parts), and I loved how the movie started with the Blitzkrieg. I haven't read the books since I was 11, and it made me want to read them again and look for all the gospel themes and symbols. The music was nice, too. YAY! I give it 2 thumbs up and a "9."
I also watched "Pay It Forward" on TBS or something like that on Friday, recommended by my mom. I liked it more than I thought I would. It made me cry at the end because the soundtrack is a song near and dear to my heart: "Calling All Angels" by Jane Siberry. I listened to that song constantly right before my mission and I used to sing it to myself when I felt lonely or daunted as a missionary. It became very personal for me and I don't' think I have heard it since, so it caught me off guard. Then today (Sunday) someone sang it on "Prairie Home Companion"...can you believe that? I haven't heard it in about 13 years, then I hear it twice in one weekend. That's weird, but a pleasant surprise. The movie was a reminder that little things matter and we all have a mission in life.
Okay, so thing #37 that is so cool about living in a small town is that Santa does actually come to your house unannounced:
At about 4:30pm on Saturday evening, Rich was taking the girls to go pick up their babysitter when he saw Santa driving a fire truck down our street. The girls ran down the driveway with him to see what was going on (you should hear Heidi say Santa--it's "TANTA, HO-HO-HO!").
Santa and his helpers brought gift bags for the girls (Addie's giving Heidi one in this picture). Yes, it's as cold as it looks in these photos--it was about 5 degrees, and yes, you see my kids outside with no coats...But they were too excited for coats!
Santa waiting for his "fireman elves" to bring gift bags for Addie & Heidi...
...which they LOVED! They got little books and stuffed animals and candies in the bags, but they were most amazed by Santa himself, just standing there in our yard. Heidi loved that she had something all her own, direct from Father Christmas, so she kept carrying around her new teddy bear saying, "Mine? Mine!" It was really cool of the firemen to do that.
There's me and our brunch spread Saturday Morning.
On Friday, Addie and I finished 6 dozen cookies for the cookie exchange at our neighbor Maria's house. Addie was in charge of sprinkles adn the cookies looked beautiful.
Grandma holds Addie and Addie holds Rosalie at our Christmas Brunch Saturday morning.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

A Day in the Life

Oh, my. It has been a day!

6:32am: Arise with Addie & Heidi
6:40-7:30am: Snuggle, feed, dress girls
7:30-8am: Shower and dress mommy
8:00am: Realize we're out of milk; check WIC checks and realize today is the first day of a new WIC month and we can get a zillion gallons of milk, some cereal, bread, cheese, eggs, and juice, too. We send daddy off to work and get ready to go to the store.
9:30am; Arrive at Albertsons after getting gas and re-buckling seatbelts twice.
9:30am-10am: Endure tantrums and fighting while running into friends with their nice children and while old people stare at my screeching daughters as if to say, "Why dont' you shoot them?"
10:00-10:40am: Head to the consignment store to check for cute new toddler things and drop off tons of toys we don't need-- the charming behavior continues, but not as screechy. I circle the downtown block three times looking for parking I can fit into with the Caravan. Little Buckaroos doesn't have anything for us today, but we donate some old decorations next door at the Senior Center and find a nice pair of sneakers for Heidi for 25 cents. While I look at them, Heidi runs away up the stairs, and 15 seconds later someone is on the intercom (in a building the size of my house) saying, "We have a lost child up here...lost not let your child play on the stairs." That's the last straw. Mortified, I pay my quarter, grab the girls, and head out while Heidi waves and blows kisses to all the grandmas who think she's just darling in her "Bib Overhauls." She looks like an angel and I feel like a devil cuz I want to beat her bum!
11:00am-ish: Arrive home safe in the garage; unbuckle girls and send them in to house while I grab groceries. I have 2 gallons of milk in each hand (=4 gallons of milk) and a 12-pack of CF Diet Coke in my arms and I step in the door and trip over both girls, falling on my face and sending a gallon of milk bouncing down the stairs. I end up with about 1/2 gallon of milk seeping into my carpet in the basement and I am somewhat banged up. The girls aren't hurt, just scared and crying and I am upset, so I send them into Heidi's room so I can clean up the mess.
11:11am: Addie peeps out the door of Heidi's room and says, "Mom, are you happy now? Can we come out yet?" Awww, I let them out and tell them I love them but the y need to come watch a movie because mommy is going to have to shampoo the carpet today. I make arrangements for Addie to spend the afternoon with a friend and put Heidi down for a nap.
12:30-5:30: I wash any and all rugs in the house; I move all furniture and sweep and mop all wood and tile floors, vacuum and shampoo all carpets (except bedrooms); I dust; I cook a taco dinner for our family plus the missionaries; I clean out fridge and do all the dishes; Set the table; roll my hair and put on a skirt and sweater.
5:45-6:30 Dinner with family and Elders; Rich shampoos the stairs, Elders read to girls; I head out to Young Women in Excellence.
6:30-8:30: YW/ visit with friends at church
8:40-10:o0pm: Arrive home; say prayers with girls and tuck them in; Rich goes to work on log beds and shovel a lady's driveway; I bake 4 dozen more cookies for Friday's cookie exchange and tomorrow's playgroup, which is here at 10am. I wash remaining dishes, put cookies in freezer with the other 6 dozen, then wash face, brush teeth, take Tylenol (for aches resulting from earlier fall when I tripped over my children), take vitamins, blog--and then I will watch the Daily Show, read Helaman, and hit the hay.

BUSY ENOUGH FOR YA?...How was your day?

Monday, December 12, 2005

Love One Another

I just remembered this Charlie Rose interview I watched one night while up late being crafty-- Anne Rice was being interviewed about her new book. It's about Jesus and everybody was all freaking out that this crazy lady who writes about vampires and maybe IS a vampire was writing about Our Lord (I have never read her books or seen her movies so all I know is hearsay so I reserve my opinion until I am better informed). I was so impressed, though, when Charlie Rose asked her, "What is the most important message Jesus taught?" She answered, "Love. Love one another. Love everyone as I love them." She went on to explain that if we really tried to live that commandment, it would take up all of our time and energy (as it should) and we'd have no time for all the pettiness and evil we are prone to. Quite the profound statement coming from the Queen of the Damned. I agree with her wholeheartedly, as do the scriptures, time and again.

So it reminded me of my favorite Christmas song: "Truly he taught us to love one another; His law is love and his gospel is peace; Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother and in His name all oppression shall cease." Ugh. That brings tears to my eyes right now because I just imagine (a) what it would be like if we all accepted and lived the gospel of Jesus Christ--all oppression WOULD cease and it would be beautiful, and (b) how sad it must be sometimes to see what Christ's message had been twisted into. I think, like Anne Rice and the apostle Paul, without charity, we are nothing.

On another note, I have a deep and abiding love for the song, "The Heart of the Matter," by Don Henley. It is so beautiful and when I hear it, I kind of feel like I got punched in the gut a little bit, like maybe I'll cry. Anyway, today they played it on the radio and then the DJ said, "That 's a great song for the season--it's about forgiveness." Hmmm...Interesting thing for the DJ to say about Christmas...truer than he knows. "These times are so uncertain/ There's a yearning undefined/ And people filled with rage/ We all need a little tenderness/ How can love survive in such a graceless age?/ The trust and self-assurance that lead to happiness/ They're the very things - we kill I guess/...I think it's about forgiveness/ forgiveness/ even if/ even if you don't love me anymore." Lovely.
Addie loves the snowman party favor she got at the Breakfast.
Our porch Me (jamie/Mommy), Addie, & Heidi getting ready to go deliver gifts to our neighbors Sunday night.

O Tannenbaum

From outside, the tree looks like this...
Saturday night we decorated the tree and only used about half our ornaments
The girls did pretty well at decorating and so far, are leaving the tree alone.

Fetching the Tree

This year, having a zillion feet of snow and freezing temperatures already, we decided to forego the traditional cutting fo the tree and just buy one from the Boy Scouts. Here is Addie at their lot Saturday about noon, immitating the plastic Santa.
Here are the girls posing with the tree and whining about being cold and hungry.

Church Christmas Breakfast

On Saturday, 12/10, we started off the day with the annual ward Christmas Breakfast. This year, each family made their own gingerbread houses and the Young Women put on a skit of "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" and the Grinch handed out gift bags at the end to all the little kids. Dad & Addie build a candy house that resembles our own...
...complete with "log" porch...
...while mom & Heidi get down to business and eat breakfast.

The New Camera

Daddy's digital Canon Rebel came this week and this is the first picture he took.(There are supposed to be blankets in there, silly girls!)

But I'm not THIS conservative...

..or crazy, or whatever you call it. We moved here aroudn the time of the first anniversary of 9/11 and this truck, however crass and redneck, made me laugh so hard. I kept meaning to take a picture of it but hadn't seen it for a long time. Then lo and behold, at the gas station on our way to get our Christmas Tree, I saw it again. It's a Festivus Miracle! And YOU, dear reader, get the benefit.

(more festivus)

Thursday, December 08, 2005

The Wall of Separation

I am pretty sure I qualify to be a card-carrying member of the "religious right," but truth be told, they scare me. I have been trying to figure out why there exists such a chasm between me and "them." I mean, I go to church AT LEAST twice a week and read scriptures everyday. I love Jesus and I try to follow him, I am a registered Republican, fiscally conservative and mostly socially conservative ( I know they'd have my hide on the sujects of abortion, public education, and stem cell research, to name a few "departures"). I think I should feel more in common with these folks than I do.

But mostly the whole catgory makes me shudder. This year's crusade is to put CHRISTMAS back into the "Holidays." "They" are boycotting stores that advertise "Holiday Sales" instead of Christmas Sales and stuff like that. Thing is, I am all for separation of church and advertising, just as much as church and state. I mean, if it's a Christmas sale, does that mean you can't get the discount for Hannukah, Ramamdan, Kwanzaa, or just cuz you WANT it? Let's just call it holiday. You dont' step on my toes and I won't step on yours.

For the record, I believe that public things should be ethical and religiously neuutral, and private things should be deeply spiritual, religious, commited, and meaningful--to each his own. And pleeeeease crazy religious right people, stop speaking for Christians as if we all agree onthis stuff.

End of rant. Your thoughts?

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Decking the Halls

Yesterday we decorated little trees for the side windows. The girls hung most of the ornaments themselves and I tried to just be the creative director. We will get our big tree for the Living room this weekend. Also in this room, we put up the cute Rudolph Village that my mom sent because there was no other high, flat space in the house...we love it! Heidi's Teddy Bear Tree (these pix were taken at 8am--it's so dark out!)
Bed-Head Addie and her Nutcracker Tree
Addie's tree close up...merry, merry!
The Rudolph Village from Nana
The guest room/ Christmas staging room

The Tree Tops Glisten's local page says it's MINUS 14 and feels like MINUS 36. What can I say? Nothing. I can say nothing except "Brrrrr." Although I just got out of the hot tub and I am sweating a little bit and drinking an ice water. Heh, heh.

I guess mother nature was easing me into Montana winters the past three years. My fourth winter (which technically hasn't even begun yet) is cookin' up to be a doozie. [Aside--you'll forgive my whining about the weather--it comes with the territory when you're reading a blog written by an AZ girl transplanted to MT--I do it every winter and will probably double it up this year!]

My poor house bound kids! I let them jump on my bed today cuz they had to let of some steam. We decorated mini-trees today--Addie's is ballerinas and nutcrackers and Heidi's is teddy bears. They are in the guest room windows, and when I am not afraid that the weather will break the camera, I will take a picture. It's really quite magical.

Well, much love to all--I wish you down comforters, hot cocoas and sweet dreams!

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Belated Post

Last week we had a really nice (and really cold) flag ceremony in our neighborhood to celebrate the completion of our building project (the flags really are SO nice and big!). I was interviewed by the Bozeman Chronicle, but they only used a few of the wacky things I said in this article .

It's weird to reflect on the building process. Again, like childbirth, the brain mercifully blocks it out. But unlike childbirth, the memory hasn't faded enough to make me want to build again. Never, no, never will we build again. Customize or remodel, MAYBE. Ugh...I'm getting nauseated just thinking about it!

Anyway, enjoy the article. I'm enjoying the fact that my house is 68 degress while outside, though sunny and bright and magically white, it's "0 degrees, feels like -19." --Oy veh.

PS: That guy they quote in the article, Josh Keller (first they call him Josh Ryan)---well, we always called him Ross Gellar because he's very Ross-ish. I think he's our same age, too.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Shiver in my bones just thinking about the weather

snuggle bugs...14 months ago!

I'll give you a dime if you can tell me where the title of this post comes from...seriously, you should stop lurking around my blog and start commenting, folks.

But back to the shiver in my bones. Let me quote right this minute: 6 degreesF, feels like -9 (that's MINUS!), with light snow, winds from ENE at 12 mph (which is like NO wind here in Livingston where it averages 40mph any given day), and the humidity is 85%.

All I can say is I am glad to be IN the house, not BUILDING it this winter! The ranchers say it's gonna be a hard one.

While we were all pent up today, I did 2 loads of laundry, made crock pot beef stew and wheat bread for dinner, and a delicious Aroz con Leche (rice pudding). It's one of my favorite recipes and I love you so much, I'm going to share it with you.

Arroz con Leche
From Dora the Explorer
7c milk
1 ½ c sugar
1T cinnamon
1t nutmeg
1c converted rice
1 egg
2 egg yolks
1T vanilla
½ t salt
½ c raisins (optional—or mixed dried fruit)

§ Boil milk over high heat; stir in sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg. Reduce heat and stir to dissolve sugar. Add rice and salt, cover pot, and simmer 45 min.
§ In a mixing bowl, whisk egg, yolks, and vanilla. Remove rice from heat and add egg mixture slowly; return to heat and stir for 3 minutes.
§ Remove from heat; add raisins or fruit; pour into bowl (s) and cool in the refrigerator.

...a cheap, yummy, comfort food to share with a loved one while you snuggle out the storm.


Dear Loved Ones,                                                                                                                         1...