Sunday, May 31, 2009

About the Yard...

The Snow-on-the-Mountain os taking over, just as the nursery warned us it would. This is along the front of the house--notice that the 15-inch solarlights are being engulfed.

This is our side yard, as you come in the gate from the front yard. Note the fun swings, the playplace under the deck, and the little box of marigolds that Addie grew from seeds in her first grade classroom.

This is our OTHER sideyard as seen from the backyard. It's a vegetable garden and it better grow! Look at our sweet little transplanted seedlings! Those are little yellow onions, a hungarian pepper bush, and space for two tomato plants there at the front (which gets the most sun). The tall middle ones are green beans, yellow squash, carrots, and in the back are buttercrunch lettuce and collard greens (which we will eat as baby greens in salads rather than Carolina style--boiled with bacon grease:)). We have cilantro and dill sprouting in boxes, but I think we will grow a little in here, too, just for fun.

These are my containers--the contain flowers and herbs (greek oregano, sweet basil, mint, lemon basil, lavender, cilantro, and dill).

The twigs we planted four years ago are finally looking like trees, getting their white aspen bark and fuller, rounder leaves that are so pretty fluttering in the famous Livingston Wind! (note the tidy rock bed from which they rise...I placed those rocks over mended weed blocker by hand last weekend!! The next thing I need to do is divide thos tulip bulbs).
That's all. I am working at the hotel tonight, again (so I am going to miss your call, Sam--but yes, we're all well and happy, thanks for asking). We hope the cruisers are home safe from Alaska! Have a great week, everybody!

Friday, May 29, 2009

"On one morning in the month of May...

...when all the birds were singing/ I saw a lovely maiden stray/ Across the fields at break of day/ She softly sung her roundele/The tide flows in and the tide flows out/ twice ev'ryday returning"

I been singin' that song in my head...May has been lovely. I have three posts (at least) floating around in my head and things have slowed down a bit at the hotel (my first night working since September). First, I have been editing some 2007 fotos and I really need to do a post about the beauty of Paradise Valley & my town...we've got some great pix!

Secondly, my little sis called me in tears on Tuesday, crying because--even after emergency gall bladder surgery--she is still have intense abdominal pain. She said she felt stupid for crying because she was crying more out of frustration than pain. I TOTALLY understood what she was saying! I just wanted to write this paragraph to (belatedly) empathize with Jill. Even though I have felt pretty good for almost a whole month (aside from the horrid second-degree sunburn I got in Cali, but that's another story for another day, after I get the after-effects examined), I remember clearly breaking down a few weeks after my surgery. My scar was healing, but I felt total exhaustion and deep muscle pains much like two years earlier before I even had a diagnosis or treatment. I felt furious at the possiblity that the past 2 years had been in vain and I was back where I started. I know I was sitting in the bathroom and the girls had called from the family room asking if we could do some activity together and I had to say, "No, mommy's way too tired. I have to go to bed, but you can come snuggle me" for the millionth time. It hurt to pick up my pajamas, and as I put them on, I just started BAWLING. I think that was the first time I ever let myself COMPREHEND what it means to have a chronic, incureable disease. For a little minute I let myself think, "What if I feel like this forever?" It was a terrible thought. But almost as quickly I remembered how many people live happy lives with so much more affliction than I have known, so my sadness was short-lived. But I get it, Jill, I really do. Of course I am grateful for the health I do have, but I think not feeling well enough to play with my kids is the number one thing that gets to me. I HATE it. I am so grateful for the month of health I have enjoyed...and it's MAY...what beautiful timing! I hope you are better soon, dear sis, and able to enjoy your new crib! You gotta weed that giant garden! Grow me some pumpkins and zucchini!

Another thing is this: I know Heavenly Father loves the children of the Livingston Ward Primary. Wanna know how I know this? Because I see His hand working to make our Primary better for their sakes almost everyday. And when I am thoroughly exhausted (as I have been for 9 consecutive days), I am quickened just enough to accomplish what needs to be done for Primary. And when I am out of good ideas, He enlightens me, sends flashes of insight, and helps our whole presidency be TOTALLY awesome when we may have been only partially awesome. When a Primary child has been absent for a while, they will be on my mind and in my prayers, and WITHOUT FAIL, I will cross paths with that child (or his parents) within days. This has nothing to do with me; it has everything to do with those children being precious to Him. And I love them, too.

So. Tomorrow is our big quarterly Primary activity and officially putting in the garden. Somewhere in there, I am going to take a nap, I swear. If I don't, I am going to keel over. So tomorrow or Sunday I will check in, post some old Paradise Valley pix and some new ones of our doin's. What are YOU gonna do to ring out May?

Wednesday, May 27, 2009


I hate painting with a passion, but I love redecorating (see last May?). In an ideal world, I go to the home improvement store to buy the paint, then pick up a painter on my way out of the parking lot! Or I make my little sister do it.

Anyway, when Heidi was sad a few weeks ago because her room was "not pretty" and painted with "boy colors", I sat down with her and a Benjamin Moore book and chose some new colors. Today I forced myself to gitter done...

Welcome to Heidi's Room...

She's our elephant/all things-animal-girl, so any decorating scheme has to include the pachyderms (this one was lovingly stitched by Gramma Becky).

This is Heidi reading on her bed last week. Note the festive elephants, hung to distract her from the drab beige walls.

You can barely see the circus-ish duvet cover, which was our inspiration for the new room.



One of the things I have been meaning to do is make some art for her walls. I bought these canvasses at a Michael's sidewalk sale about 14 months ago, intending to make a jungle triptych.

I finally did it (with Addie's help) last night...




Here they are all together...

We will probably hang them this way.

And we'll put the dear elephants back up, too.




We really miss you. Hope its been a great day!

Monday, May 25, 2009

A Glimpse of Memorial Day

First Thing in the Morning... As I made breakfast this morning, the kids were playing "Elephants." In the course of my cooking, Heidi's largest elephant, Big Rose, gave birth to four babies! Then Addie asked if she could take this elephant family photo--this is around 9am.
About an hour later we were all working on the yard and I took this video of my little daredevil, Heidi, and Addie and James, too, frolicking in our front yard. Good Times!

Memorial Day 2009 from MelinFamily on Vimeo.

Standing on the Shoulders of Giants...

In Flanders fields the poppies blow

Between the crosses, row on row,

That mark our place; and in the sky

The larks, still bravely singing, fly

Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the dead. Short days ago

We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,

Loved, and were loved, and now we lie

In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:

To you from failing hands we throw

The torch; be yours to hold it high.

If ye break faith with us who die

We shall not sleep, though poppies grow

In Flanders fields.

— Lt.-Col. John McCrae (1872 - 1918)
Happy Memorial Day

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Singin' In The Rain...

It's been a pretty busy week. I walked at least 3 miles 4/6 days, worked on the yard every day, created a 15-page pre-school year book from a cd of 500 pictures, gave a lesson in poetry (including a workbook) to 9 Activity Day girls, cooked dinner 5/6 nights, AND kept the kids alive and the house clean...or presentable, anyway. I said lots of prayers for my poor nephew, Gabriel, who broke--yes, BROKE--his ankle last week and had surgery Wednesday. I squeezed in watching (on DVR) GLEE (loved it!) and the Idol finale (best one yet), and today I spoke in sacrament meeting with our high councilor. The topic was broad--Testimony-- and I mostly used this talk by Henry Eyring and this talk by Richard G. Scott. I got unexpectedly emotional when I spoke about preparing our children for the trials they will surely face. I love this quote from Elder Eyring:

"We have the greatest opportunity with the young. The best time to teach is early, while children are still immune to the temptations of their mortal enemy and long before the words of truth may be harder for them to hear in the noise of their personal struggles. ...The question should not be whether we are too tired to prepare to teach doctrine or whether it would be better to draw a child closer by just having fun or whether the child is beginning to think that we preach too much. The question must be, 'With so little time and so few opportunities, what words of doctrine from me will fortify them against the attacks on their faith which are sure to come?' The words you speak today may be the ones they remember. And today will soon be gone."

For some reason, it just sends chills down my spine. I try to be inspired rather than discouraged by all the teaching time I have squandered already. And I try to be grateful that I have a husband who is committed to Family Night and teaching our children-- I know a lot of women don't really have that support.

Anyway, I am ready for a little holiday tomorrow. We plan to spend it working on our yard and on the tree house at the ranch...maybe we will fit in a tiny bit of relaxation. Speaking of relaxation, I am excited to hear about my grandparents' Alaskan cruise. They are so brave! They left Thursday for a 10-day adventure with Aunt Marti & Uncle Ralph. I hope they have a marvellous time.

It's raining right now, so I hope it help what we have planted so far, and won't hinder our progress tomorrow. I'll try to take some photos. They won't be spectacular because most everything is a seed or seedling (and I froze three tomato plants and some marigolds on Wednesday night, dang it!).

I am off to visit teach mi amigas Jen & Debbie tonight with my comp, Krista J. It'll be fun. More tomorrow, I hope...

Monday, May 18, 2009

A Case of the Mondays (ack)

I don't have much to say today. I think I am having allergies (except I had chills on saturday night--is that allergies?) I don't know, my bod is nuts, but I'm alright. We are putting in our tiny home veg garden today (as opposed to the huge ranch one where we planted potatoes with Grandma on Saturday). Fun.

My half sis, Rhonda, found me on facebook the other day. I was so happy to hear from her, and surprised that our daughters could be twins. Check this out:

James swears this picture is's cute. I hope I get to see these cute girls sometimes soon.

I'm off to Ace Hardware with James now...CU later.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Just My Ex

At a recent gathering of girlfriends, the topic of ex-boyfriends came up. It was amusing to hear some of the stories (which were mostly new to me), but I also noticed something odd about myself in the convo. I just don't see my "exes" as exes, I guess. Or my definition is off. Or something. Because I really couldn't jump in and bag on anyone I used to date (with a few looming exceptions). For the most part I have been surrounded by good, interesting people all my dating life, I still consider them friends and I am super glad about that (although I am aware the feeling is not always mutual) . Am I happy about every choice he or I made in the course of the relationship? Uh, no. But do I have regrets? Not really.

I read THIS lovely post by Jessica which made me think, "Aha! This is probably why I don't have any hard feelings!" (thanks, Jess) I fully subscribe to The Chemistry Theory and I think that's why I am able to value the experiment and move on. Even the two boys I almost married--EVERYONE, even my family, expects there to be some bad blood there, but there just isn't. I loved them both very much, very truly, but I think it just wasn't the right chemistry for a marriage. In both cases, we had strong, golden friendships outside of the 'romantic' relationships--a chemical reaction good for, say, creative endeavors, roadtrips, emotional support, shelter, late night slurpee runs after dates with other people, etc.--but not for bringing out the very best in each other or building a family life or --heaven help us--constant companionship. But with both of them, the 'romantic' part was only a tiny percentage (like a total of 6 months out of 10 years? Ha!) of the whole relationship.

I don't think this says anything negative about me or the other person involved. I think it says something negative about the hypthesis and the experiment, and thank heaven we didn't see that through to nuclear meltdown stage. And when I think of each boy I ever loved, or even just liked for a while, the positive experiences--or let's just say the lessons learned [the "data collected" in the chemistry model] and the fun had--FAAAAR outweigh the hard times or difficult endings. And in each period of reflection and sorting through the aftermath, I grew and improved and was prepared to recognize the perfect reaction between Richard and me. I believe if I had met him even ONE MONTH earlier, I wouldn't have been ready. Shudder to think...

Anyway, I was thinking of all these things I've learned and tried to pinpoint my lessons/ memories with each S.O., starting in junior high, all the way up to my 29th birthday. Here goes, off the top of my head:

B1- I learned a ton about what boys like, and how careful I must be when entrusted with a heart.
B2- I learned that when he gives you green mnm's, a boy likes you. It's good to have older friends to drive you around. Do not break up at Christmas time. I also learned how to really stay friends when the lovey stuff doesn't work out, because I think we're still friends (right, B?). Also, I think that was the first time I experienced The Trauma Diet, where I tend to lose10-20lbs with even the slightest emotional distress. This side effect turned out to be great for rebounding with gorgeous-but-not-so-smart skaters.
A1-I learned about deep smit and karma. I learned what it feels like to be cherished, to be showered with tiny gifts from the heart (setting a hard-to-beat standard for later boyfriends). I learned about letting music define moments, and therefore Dire Straits, New Order, Suzanne Vega, The Alarm, and Talking Heads can all bring back the tiniest details of A1 to this day, like the smell of his breath, the soap he used before the stake dance, the feel of sand on my back in the tunnel, etc. Darn that music.
R- I caught a glimpse of how nuts I could be ("contain the crazy"), how much my religion was part of me and what it meant to me, and also to act on a crush if the opportunity arises because you might just be pleasantly surprised that the boy you and your friends drooled over all last year kind of likes you back and is WAY too shy to ever do anything about it on his own. I also learned from R to avoid the Greyhound Bus and that U2 can be as romantic as anything (especially live at Sun Devil Stadium on The Joshua Tree Tour).
K (aka Tex)- Oh, my dear Tex, may he rest in peace. I feel I can write more openly here because he is gone, but wow, what I learned from him. I learned that love cannot heal everything. I learned what I was going to need from a life-long love. With Tex, I came to fully realize my weakness for what I termed "the troubled genius" ("So just ignore my weakness for boys in noisy bands/ They always have too much to say, they always need a hand"-voice of the beehive). He was brilliant and so sweet, but so troubled. God only knows what happened to that boy's brain chemistry. I loved him like a brother more than a girlfriend, and I hated to see the world so hard on him. I have blogged before how the lyrics to Don Maclean's "Vincent" remind me of him, and they still do: "And when no hope was left in sight/ On that starry, starry night/ You took your life as lovers often do/ But I could have told you, Vincent/ This world was never meant for one as beautiful as you." Even when we were done, I planned for him to always be a part of my life--to enjoy his art and music, his sense of humor. I am genuinely sad that Richard and my children don't know him.
A2- Carpe Diem (who cares if one of you is leaving for college in a month? LIVE DEEP!). If you truly love your friend, you can ignore his faults, forgive his mistakes and adore all his goodness. He may not truly love you back. Don't burn your bridges because a person can become a recurring theme in your life. Let the music sink in; don't fight the soundtrack of your life ["In Your Eyes" wafted through a window in Durham, NC while I was working as a missionary, and the memory of A2 came back so strong I had to sit down. Sit Down, people. Now THAT is having your world rocked]. Be a a sign-seeker and pattern-finder. You can totally genuinely love someone while knowing you should never be married. When you know you should never be married, don't try to get married.

I know that I wrote a piece like this for my first blog on bluechair ("To All The Boys I've Loved Before"), but the feelings are deeper and yet more mellow now, and I know so much better now how meticulously I was prepared and refined for the life I have today. So for everyone who went through the refining process with me, thank you. And I am sorry for any pain I cause in my ignorance. I really do hope everyone is as happy as I am. It has been, and continues to be, a wonderful life.


I went to see both of my docs in the past 2 days and it's ALL GOOD NEWS. On Thursday morning, Dr. Reid went over all my labs with me then scheduled me for another check up in 3 months (mostly for TSH and blood sugar, just to be sure we have really achieved balance--and actually it will be nearly 4 months because dear Dr. Reid is going to PAKISTAN for the month of August! I hope she makes it home!). On Friday morning, Richard and I drove to Billings to see Dr. Sorli, my endocrinologist. He basically went over my recovery, the numbers, and how to maintain my health (especially about building muscle, getting about an hour or so of slow, steady exercise everyday to maintain healthy insulin levels and hormonal balance). To celebrate, Richad and I made a Date of the trip. First we had lunch at HuHot Mongolian Grill (so healthy AND delish), then did a temple session (and when we came out, the spring rain clouds had disappeared and the spring sun was blazing brilliantly--so awesome), then bought a gardening hat at Big K, then saw "Angels and Demons." On the road to and fro we listened to David Sedaris on ipod audiobook and got a good laugh. Another great day!

Here are the numbers for the record [with the ideal/maximum in brackets]:
blood pressure: 124/74 [120/80]
blood sugar: 85 [100] A1c 5.9 [6.0]
total cholesterol: 148 [220]
trig: 163 [200]
hdl: 34 [40] [I need to raise this with Omega 3 supplements]
ldl: 81 [<120]>
thyroid-TSH: 1.31 [.3-3.0], FT4: 1.0 [.7-2.0]
YAY! Our active lifestyle resumes tomorrow as we head down the valley to clean up the Shorthill Cemetery and work at the ranch. Have a great weekend!

Monday, May 11, 2009

So Anyway...

My sunburn has officially gone from Grody Gooey Blister mode to Crusty Peeling mode, which is itchy and slightly less gross. Everso slightly.

I walked about 3 miles today with the bike stroller...went up and down the hill to tenth street and back, thentook Heidi to school, visited Addie at her school, then met Daddy at the office and went to lunch. Good day, but I am tired.

I am having a newsfast, I just realized. I go through these cycles where I am totally into all kinds of news and debates and stuff, and then I hibernate. I am in hibernation mode, mostly because I am kinda sick-n-tired of the marriage debate, celebrities being mouthy/ lame/ irresponsible/ condescending, etc., I don't get Comedy Central, Glenn Beck has been a bit clownish, I don't have much to talk about on that front.

All is well here. We just had a quick FHE (a game of Book of Mormon cards, where Korihor is the Old Maid) and french bread pizza (no clean up). I may let the creative juices flow and scrapbook some little albums for the kids to remember our Cali trip last week. Or I may fall asleep in 20 minutes. Who knows...I'm wild-n-crazy like that. I updated the blog archives for the benefit of long-lost facebook friends just now joining the story already in progress. Click on the right for my new Blog FAQ links. Fun.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

My Piece of Foreign Sky

Well, this was the Mothers' Day to end all Mothers' Days! I told Rich I only need a weekend like this every decade or so and I'll be able to keep on truckin'. It all started with these beautiful flowers Rich brought home from his meeting in Bozeman Thursday night.
They are really stunning and I can smell the lilies everywhere!
Then yesterday Rich "let" me indulge in some geraniums and alyssums at Pamida... I spent a beautiful morning potting with my girls, listening to "Says You" on NPR. Later, Rich took the kids outside and banned me from the garage where they worked on my Mothers' Day surprise while I took a long bath to soak my sunburn blisters and read my new "Real Simple" magazine...
This is houw our yard looks now in the dusk...tons of yellow tulips, grape hyacinths, and red geraniums!
Heidi presented me with this darling flower box SHE MADE HERSELF when she went to a class at the hardware store with Daddy on Saturday. The little pots are from Addie's school, and the yellow vase is from Addie, too...what sweeties!
On Sunday morning, I was led upstairs in my robe to the front porch to find...
Come sit a spell!
new adirondack chairs I have been dreaming of! They even face the sunset (which won't be coming til about 10pm soon, but how fun is that!?) and have fold-out attached ottomans!!! Rich just rocks!
While I was sitting in said chairs, Sweet Baby James came outside with a tiny velvet box, and inside there was...
I know, I couldn't get a decent photo, but isn't it sweet? I just love it! Addie (my topaz) said, "I'm the sun, James is the blue sky, and Heidi is the ocean!" Awww...I just love my kids! (and their awesome daddy!)

There are just no words to express the gratitude I feel for the privilege of being "mother to these three." I resort to lyrics, poems, scriptures, songs when I try to say how glad I am to have these brilliant souls in my care, and to have the best partner with whom to share the work and the joy. They've made all my dreams come true.

“Most of you are mothers, and very many of you are grandmothers and even great-grandmothers. You have walked the sometimes painful, sometimes joyous path of parenthood. You have walked hand in hand with God in the great process of bringing children into the world that they might experience this estate along the road of immortality and eternal life. It has not been easy rearing a family. Most of you have had to sacrifice and skimp and labor night and day. As I think of you and your circumstances, I think of the words of Anne Campbell, who wrote as she looked upon her children:

You are the trip I did not take;
You are the pearls I cannot buy;
You are my blue Italian lake;
You are my piece of foreign sky.
(“To My Child,” quoted in Charles L. Wallis, ed., The Treasure Chest [1965], 54)

You [mothers] are the real builders of the nation wherever you live, for you have created homes of strength and peace and security. These become the very sinew of any nation.”
Gordon B. Hinckley
Ensign, Nov 1996

Thursday, May 07, 2009

What A Week

So I was gonna blog everyday of trip and then I remembered we were going to an amusement park for two straight days and I would lose brain function every night and be unable to blog. But I am back in Montana where it's 50 degrees & sleeting and I can think much clearer (after my 5 hour nap). For now I am going to be lazy and post a slideshow. Tomorrow I will tell stories--it was a great trip adn our kids are so much fun. I am so grateful to have a family I love to be with!

TO MAKE THE SLIDE SHOW BIGGER: CLICK on the screen, then click the "SLIDESHOW" button on the upper left of the Picasa screen. You can adjust the speed of the slides below the pictures.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Taken By Surprise

My reaction to hearing the following song today kind of shocked me. I forgot what an integral part of my early-twenties mantra it was 18 years ago...punch in the gut!

"I'm nobody's wife and I'm nobody's baby
I like it that way
but then again...maybe.
And I'm nobody's valentine and I'm nobody's pearl,
When you get it right down to it
I always seem to find
Just some girl, singing

There are monsters there are angels,
There's a peacefulness and a rage inside us all
There is sugar and there is salt
There is ice and there is fire
in every single heart
There are monsters, there are angels.

I'm nobody's promise and I'm nobody's chore
And I ain't got nobody that I feel I gotta live for
Nobody to live for
I'm nobody's work and I'm nobody's company
And every time I turn around
I always seem to find
Just me....singing..."

I am so glad I grew up.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Early Bird Gets the Worm...

[but who wants a worm?]
I am up early thanks to my children and to all the voicemail on my phone. I was bummed when the kids were up at 6-on-the-dot, but even more annoyed when the messages on my voicemail got my adrenaline pumpin'. Luckily, just before I exploded a la The Incredible Hulk, my husband used his God-given calming powers to talk me into the shower and get on with my day since there is nothing I can do at this crazy hour. So here I am, waiting for my heart to soften.

And my friend Stephanie provides the heart-softener in the form of this post on Beauty. Go read it, it's great. Especially coming from a woman who survived a deadly plane crash that burned over 80% of her body. She is lovely in every way and she makes me feel grateful for a loving and longsuffering Heavenly Father.

Needless to say, I am more grateful than ever that my cutie hubs wanted to use his tax return to sweep us away to So Cal this weekend! He is awesome. Know what else he did? He refinanced our house at 4.6-something per cent, rolled in the car payment, and took out cash to pay off our outstanding medical bills/ repleninsh savings and our payment STILL went down! We closed on Tuesday and dont' have a mortgage payment til June. Yeah, I love him. We had such a fun date going to the temple last night, listening to back podcasts of Glenn Beck and This American Life, being SO excited to surprise our kids and be together for five whole days...YAY!

8:20 update: it's all good. crisis averted. :)
Also: Souter's retiring? Crud. Get ready for more bloody rounds of confirmation hearings. And pray Ginsberg hangs in there, cuz it's only gonna get more "progressive" from here! YIKES!

It's so beautiful outside today! Mother Nature got the memo...hooray! Here's a song to celebrate (and HERE is the real way I first learned it :))


Dear Loved Ones,               The past two weeks have been a whirlwind for us…and now we are 8! We got a new German daughter, Kristin...