Sunday, January 31, 2010

Saturday at The Reef in Billings

We headed out at 11am on our Billings adventure. We had lunch at HuHot, then went to Cabela's and Target, then we went to The Reef waterpark at 4pm. It was WAAAAY more crowded this time than it was last summer, but we still had fun and the slide lines never got too long. We grabbed a quick "dinner" at Burger King on the way home and the kids crashed about 20 miles into the drive. We got home at 10:45pm. We LOOOOVE family Saturdays! Rich & Heidi in the wave pool

Daddy with happy kids (the girls were heading up the stairs for another slide)

James and mommy took this picture of Daddy and the girls up waiting in line to slide
James & Addie

James & Addie on the kiddie slide
Addie and James climbing on the playground
James & Addie on another kiddie slide.
Heidi in the wave pool with mommy
It was so relaxing, mommy almost fell asleep floating!
Addie and James playing with a "geyser" on the playground

James loved the wave pool! Heidi on the slide.
Thanks for another fun family day, Daddy!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

One more flashback...

I was busy from sun up to sundown yesterday and feel blessed to have had the energy to keep up. I am exhausted today, but I am so enjoying James. He's such a good boy. Check out THESE pix of him at 2 months old...LOVE MY BOY!

We're off to rest and watch "Chuggington." Have a good Thursday!

PS: Or check him out HERE...babylicious!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Back in the Day

I just looked in my archives to see what we were doing 5 years ago today...
There was THIS, and THIS. Look HERE at my baby girls 5 years ago! Awwwwww.

Anyway, just checking in after a fun weekend. I've been in the kitchen for 2 hours cleaning and cooking 3 dinners at once. I had no plans to leave the house, but I am missing a couple of ingredients and the pharmacy just called with my monthly scrip, so I guess I'll venture out in the snow and fetch me some stuff.

James is playing with a "paint" game on the other computer, and I am trying not to cry because he seems like such a big boy clicking the mouse and stuff. *Sniffle*

We're taking some cookhouse chili to Aunt Jenn today because she broke her ankle on Friday. POBRECITA! Get well soon, Jenn!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Saturday at Chico

First things first, Happy 79th birthday to my darling Gram! Today we went to Chico with Mike (Rich's brother) and Christina. Rich took this picture from the Poolside Grille and sent it to Jess (his other brother, in Florida) on his phone. Today was one of those days the Melin kids like to go to Chico--cold and snowy and not very crowded. We went for lunch (pizza and walnut salad) around 1pm and swam for an hour and a half.
Rich snapped this foto of the gang--Mike in front, Christina, James, me, Addie and Heidi.

Here we are again with less fog.

Heidi and James got out of the 105-degree pool water to walk around in the 20-degree air...crazy kids!
Addie tried to lay on one of the deck chairs
(Notice Heidi in the background licking the snow)

Here's Heidi licking the snow.
We took showers there and I lotioned up the girls and blew their hair dry so we were all ready for Sunday when we got home. We did a few errands in town, then came home and ate staduim brats and fruit for dinner. Then I made kettle corn at about 5:30pm and we all snuggled down stairs and watched "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince." Everyone is in bed and I'm actually feeling excited about a peaceful Sabbath tomorrow. Yay.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

In the Bleak Midwinter...

I have kinda been in hibernation mode here. I've had a lot of pain and headache this week that I've been battling with Excedrin migraine and Classical Stretch. I am thankful for PBS! I felt terrible on Tuesday morning, but napped with James and got myself together enough to go to temple in Billings that night, and I am glad of that. Also, the kids have been pretty dang good and I am so thankful for them! Here's a little update:

Addie has been baking up a storm with her EZ Bake oven. Correct me if I am wrong, but I really thought this little episode was amazing: While I was taking a nap and visiting teaching on Sunday, she looked up some EZ Bake recipes on the internet and made them! She found a recipe for Barbie's Pink Sparkle Cake and made 4 of them. Then she made the icing from scratch and decorated the cakes with frosting and valentine candy sprinkles. They were seriously adorable (she took one to Uncle Mike) and really tasty. I was just so surprised she could do that by herself! She even took one of my recipe cards and wrote down the recipe--so cute!
Addie & Heidi making angel cookies for Tuesday's afterschool snack.
Dear Heidi Egan (aka "Big Heidi"),
I think I may have given birth to one of your children. Not only is she the only true blonde in our family, but I caught her chugging pickle juice on Tuesday. I know that she would live much better on a farm in a more artistic family, so you can pick her up anytime.
Love, Jamie

PS: I am totally joking about the picking her up because I would die of boredom without my sunshine. Little Heidi, you're not goin' anywhere cuz I love you too much.

I made up a new recipe on Tuesday and I wrote it down like my MIL keeps telling me to do. So here you have it, folks...

Breadmaker Chicken Cordon Bleu Bundles

2 Large Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts, fileted into 4 breasts
8 slices deli ham, cut in half to make 16 slices
8 slices swiss cheese (approx. 3” square)
Shredded colby jack cheese (optional—my girls don’t like swiss cheese and I lke them melted together)
1 loaf of breadmaker dough
1 egg for egg wash

1. Start breadmaker on “dough” setting using regular white bread recipe (mine takes 90 minutes, so do this first).
2. Preheat oven to 350
Filet chicken breasts and place on large piece of foil.
Pour ½ c Italian dressing over chicken, wrap and bake for 45 minutes.
Remove from oven, let juices drain, and set aside to cool. Gather all ingredients for bundle assembly.
3. When dough is ready, remove from breadmaker and lightly knead. Divide into 8 balls (like large rolls) and roll out to 6-7 inch circles.
4. Cut chicken filets in half, making 8 pieces—1 for each bundle. Salt & Pepper them to taste.
5. Assemble bundles: sprinkle dough circle with cheese, spread with optional sauce (below), lay down one slice of ham, one piece of chicken, a slice of swiss cheese, and top with anotherr slice of ham. Gather dough around meats and cheese and twist dough into a knot, securing with wet fingers.
6. Place bundles on large baking sheet covered with foil (save yourself the mess of leaky cheese).
7. Whisk one egg in a small bowl and brush egg over bundles to create a crisp, golden brown top (I also sprinkled on some sesame seeds at this point, just because I had them).
8. Bake the bundles for about 45 minutes, until the bread is the desired shade fo golden brown and remove from oven. Cool 5 minutes and serve.

Optional Honey Dijon Sauce
(can be used in the assembly of the bundles or served on the side for dipping)
2TB mayonnaise
1TB dijon mustard
1TB honey
Whisk together in small bowl and set aside til assemby time.


You could totally make these with thawed Rhodes Rolls or (of course) your own regular bread dough. The stuffing is variable, too--you could spread on some cream of chicken and chopped broccoli & spinach (Costco style), or stuff with scrambled eggs, cheese, and sausage, or use salami, pepperoni, mozzarella (calzone style), and use bacon rather than ham. It's just so versatile and yummy!

Monday, January 18, 2010

"early morning
april four
shot rings out
in the memphis sky
free at last
they took your life
they could not take your
in the name of love..."

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Dear Elder Holland,

I don't think it is possible for me to love you more. Thank you for always tailoring your messages to my needs, starting back in 1985. It means a lot.

Love, Me

I am feeling so edified by The Best is Yet to Be. It's not that I have been discouraged or anything--I've been quite excited about the coming year, etc.-- but it was just nice to read something so totally uplifting, ya know? Here are some of my favorite bits:

[of Lot's wife]"In short, her attachment to the past outweighed her confidence in the future...She doubted the Lord’s ability to give her something better than she already had."
(This story made me think hard about being ready to do what Lot's family, and Lehi's family, had to do. I am doing everythign I can to balance making this a wonderful home and life for us, but also to keep perspective enough so that if God asked us to walk away, we would. Without looking back, without hesitation...think about THAT challenge for a minute!
Anybody remember that song, "Called to walk in high places/ far from the ground/ where light and truth and love abound..."????for some reason that chorus came to mind while I was reading this article).

[He cites Paul as the opposite of Lot's Wife]: “ 'This one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus' (Philippians 3:13–14)."

"Dismiss the destructive, and keep dismissing it until the beauty of the Atonement of Christ has revealed to you your bright future and the bright future of your family, your friends, and your neighbors. God doesn’t care nearly as much about where you have been as He does about where you are and, with His help, where you are willing to go."
I believe the bright future of my family has been revealed to me, and when I focus all my energy of heart on that revelation, I am happiest. My goal for the new year is to keep my eyes on that prize and to ignore/avoid those in my life who lie in wait to see me to fail, who believe I can't succeed as a mother or as a Saint because of who I may have been or where I may have come from. I want to surround myself with those who believe in our bright future, who "cheer on every runner" knowing "that the race is against sin, not against each other "(quote from THIS masterpeice from Holland--see also the very bottom of this page). Not only do I not have to "go there," I've been commanded not to, and I won't.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

"Hell" has officially frozen over...

I swore I would never, ever go skiing in my life after a snowboarding trip in 1989. There was just nothing that could possibly make it fun for me--I hate snow (being IN snow, not looking at it--I LOVE looking at it), I hate exercising in the cold, I hate being cold, I hate spending money on sports equipment, I have zero kinetic intelligence--it's an equation for disaster. HOWEVER--my ever-optimistic husband was determined that we find a winter sport to enjoy as a family (besides sledding with Uncle Davey's snowmobile, which hardly counts as a sport and which I avoid by being the official hot cocoa chef). Hubs began collecting gear for the family this fall at ski swaps, etc. (including these incredibly effective vintage thermoses [?]), and buying the Lexus was the final piece of the puzzle. Today, against all odds and opposition, he took us cross-country skiing!
We drove out to Mill Creek this morning at 10:30 am. Here are Addie and Heidi warming up on their skis at the trailhead.
The sun was even out for a while!

We zipped James in a duffel bag and Rich pulled him on his homemade harness sled (it's called a "ski pulk"). We will probably get him skis in the next year or two.
Me-n-hubs, ready to roll!
(I smiled for the pictures because I was still trying to muster enthusiasm)

Heidi, Addie and Me entering the trail.

Rich pulling James on the trail
(it's a "commercial dog sled trail", so you can probably spot lots of poo in these trail pix)

Heidi, Addie and Me stopping for some cocoa and cup-o-noodles trailside after my big wipe-out.
(my left foot turns out from the hip at a pretty big angle, so holding it straight in the cold got to be incredibly tricky, especially once I got a good stride going. I would inevitably start turning out to my natural stride, and then my skis would cross or I'd twist my ankle and fall--but only three times!)

Me and my punkins in the snow.

James wanted to ride on Heidi's skis...

He kept shouting, "Go, Heidi!"Addie really wanted to pull the sled, so here are me , Ad , and James on the sled. James kept shouting, "Ho-ho-ho! Go, Rudolph!"

Cute little Addie pulling James--she did so great: skiing, getting up, putting her gear on and off--she's a natural (clearly not MY genes).
Heidi took a turn pulling James when she got tired of falling on her skis.
Ahh, back at the car!
Oh, yeah--this is the new car. We haven't named it yet, but we love it.

Here is Mill Creek, which our trail followed.

We had to stop at the ranch on the way home to move our tent trailer out of the boat house, so I hopped out of the car to snap a pic myself and the awesome snowy mountains...I failed.
All in all, a pretty fun trip. We learned a lot, and I will go again on a sunny, 30+-degree day. But it will definitely be more fun when James and Heidi are more self-sufficient (and I am in better shape). THANKS for making us try something new, Hubs! I love you, even more than Arizona!
In closing, here is my pet triceratops helping me make dinner the other day. He loves celery:

Friday, January 08, 2010

WTH?: Dating Edition, chapter one

My delightful old friend and blog pal, Stephanie Ingermanson Lund (yeah, I posted your WHOLE name) posted a hilarious tale of a date-gone-wrong on her blog, so I decided to shamelessly copy her. And if you've got a good story, post it on you blog or in the comments here. Like I told Steph, might as well make use of those 15 years of dating, right?

So my first installment...OMG. Actually, now that I sit down to write the play-by-play, it's a bit sketchy. Erin or Heidi will have to correct me in the comment section. Somehow, somwhere, a few months after my mission (while living with The Young Ones), I met a dude on the UTA commuting from work at a printing press. I can't remember the details, except that he seemed pretty lonely and I talked to him for a while and he asked me for my phone number.

Now, this was in the days before the luxury of caller ID, people, and also before I had any idea that I could/should give out a fake number in this situation (Really, this was always a huge problem for me---first, having a terribly soft spot in my heart for the Eyores and Underdogs of the world, and secondly, being a horribly inept/naieve liar). Also, he clearly had some socializing issues, what might be diagnosed as mild asbergers or something nowadays. So there ya go.

A few days later, Heidi gives me a message from him (I forget his name), and I look puzzled and then say, "Bus Boy!" Ack! And I am acking in my head because I know I will go on a date with him, because that's what I do. I promised myself that unless I have a true prompting NOT to go (sense of danger), I should have the courtesy to say yes if someone has the courage to ask. Yeah, I know. That's a standard I prolly won't pass on to my girls, but I must add here that it's prolly what led me to my hubs cuz I kinda didn't really want to go out with him at first, either. Nothing against him, I just wasn't INTO the dating at the time. So I must say this policy resulted in the treasure of my life. Anyway, back to Bus Boy.

So he wants to take me to a movie and The Remains of the Day is playing at the Wilkinson Center so we decide to see that (which, mmmmkay--if you have seen that movie, you know the pace and subtlety of the story line, and I am going with a borderline asbergers patient; bus boy+subtlety=match made in hell). Bus Boy clearly has no car (common in Provo) so we are walking across campus--from 500 N to the Wilk-- at night, so I insist that one of my roommates joins us, cuz, you know, they don't call it "rape hill" for nothing. Just in case.

So we go to the movie and have a totally awkward time. Bus Boy is totally lost with the story line. I am totally uncomfortable, but he wants to walk us home. Um, okay. We walk and make clumsy conversation. He asks me if , appropos of absolutely nothing, he can hold my hand. Um, okay. We walk past the old testing center (where we went to church) and head down the hill, when he asks me about another date.

In my head I am screaming, "REALLY? Nooooo!" but I tell him I really like someone else and it wouldn't be fair, but thanks for inviting me tonigh--and I am interrupted by an almost-yell, as he exclaims, "Dang it! Why doesn't anyone LIKE me? Why can't I have a girlfriend?" I stand there everso uncomfortably watching my date launch into a tirade/meltdown. I feel really bad, but I know that sharing my sympathy is going to give this guy the wrong signals. I just know--I have learned from sad experience. So I mumble my condolences and maybe I grab HEIDI's* arm and say, "You don't have to walk us the rest of the way. I can see that you're upset. I didn't mean to hurt your feelings." And we practically run home, glad he doesn't know exactly where we live because--just a hunch--Bus Boy may be a little unstable, and you never know when you could be someone's last straw.

* see Heidi's comment was fun for her, too. And Heidi, we wanted to beat up that blasted Hoodwink! Rememebr when he stopped by to see you after The Breakup and you weren't home. He asked Erin and I when you'd be home and we both said, "NEVER!"

Thursday, January 07, 2010

This Emotional Life

FIRST: Check out our belated New Years Eve Time Capsule--I still might add more stuff to it.
SECOND: I am really enjoying the PBS series, This Emotional Life (even though the title's similarity to my very favorite radio show, This American Life, kinda bugs me). The first night was about anger, fear, depression and anxiety. Tonight was about relationships--family, community, friendship, love--and how love shapes our brain development.

They interviewed a family who has been doing cutting-edge therapy with their adopted son who has reactive attachment disorder (that's a whole other post). The dad said something so profound, and he said it so emotionally, I think it applies to all parents at some point. The host asked him how the disorder has affected them as parents, and the dad said, "This is not the dad I wanted to be. And that is the hard part--that I have to be somebody else. I have to be the dad who is best FOR HIM. That's a hard thing to give up--(long pause). But maybe that's what being a dad is." Isn't that beautiful? To be the best parents we can requires an insane amount of selflessness. But I have a sneaking suspicion that THAT is the whole idea. That is why it's part of the plan: if we do it right (setting aside who we wanted to be for who our children need us to be), it transforms us. It takes us up another level, that much closer to being Christlike and godly.

THIRD: another story I wanted to share. While we were in Utah (test-driving our new car, actually), I got a call from my Sisterfriend Debbie to let me know she and her family didn't go to Arizona as planned. I thought something terrible had happened, but it turned out to be a simple act of faith. You can read about it here on Jessica's (Deb's daughter) blog. This story will forever be an example to me to listen and obey, no matter who I may disappoint. If Heavenly Father loves me enough to warn me of impending danger--physical or emotional or totally unknown--I should love Him enough to listen. And if you're reading this and you don't believe God speaks to us thru the Holy Ghost, call it your gut or your intuition or whatever--but listen to it!

PS: On a total tangent, I just love me some Jessica. I want Addie & Heidi to take daughter lessons from her. Jess and her sister, Haylee, made the cutest headbands for my girls for Christmas (in addition to having fun little playdates with them during Christmas break--thanks for making my kids feel special, Jess--James is in love with you now). So please go have a look at Jessica's crafty little blog where she is selling her headbands and jewelry (Jess, post some of your bead work and rosette necklaces!). Even if you don't buy anything, let her know she's super talented and spread the word!

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Happy 2010

I'm finally back. I lost my blogging mojo for a bit, but I have been posting daily facebook updates. So yes, we made it home safe to Montana on New Year's Day, after driving thru a blizzard in Idaho. Worst part was that I had to drive ( I was so dang tired) because we did indeed buy that Lexus/Land Cruiser. I am in love with that car and I need 4WD so bad! Next year or two, Mama's gettin' a 4WD Acadia (if Jesus doesn't come before then--;)).

Anyway, longest trip home EVER. We had two full-on meal stops, two potty/snack stops, and two stop-at-the-next-rest-area-and-let-me-power-nap-or-mama's-gonna-drive-into-a-ditch stops (just closed my eyes for 10 minutes and kept on truckin'). We left Draper at noon and got home at 8:45! Saturday I planned to sleep like the dead, but the kids wanted to sled with their cousins up at Uncle Mike's cabin and we had promised they could see "Princess & the Frog" on Christmas break, so I showered at the crack of noon and met them at Mike's to go to the movie in Bozeman. We had a nice quiet Sunday (with scones and beef stew and new xmas board games) and got back to the grind on Monday. Yay us.

I got all Christmas stuff packed and to the garage Monday, made Stir Fry dinner with Gram & Gramp Melin, set some goals and played the Ladybug game for FHE. Next month, Addie is doing the lesson as one of her Faith in God achievements (can I say how cute it is to see her studying her scriptures? She is still a little girl in so many ways, but it's fun to see her maturing in good ways!!!). I tried to be ambitious today, but shower/laundry/dishes/dinner is as good as it got. I even napped with James from noon-1pm...that was AWESOME!

I'm now going to check the camera card and see if there are any good pix to post from our trip or of the new car or my new glasses...if so, I'll post them ASAP. Adios...

oh, ps: there's new stuff at Framanisco if you're subscribed.

On New Year's morning, Heidi & I drove over to say good bye to Erin while Rich loaded the car and the other kids slept. We wore our party hats from the night before and took her a Pepsi :)Heidi & Auntie Erin

I guess we didn't take any pix at mom's house or at Jill's, which is sad, cuz the kids had a ball with their cousins and looked so cute in their party hats. We also had fun playing games and ringing in the New Year with Grays and Stotts and the Mayberry newlyweds! You'll just have to take my word for it!


Retro: On Dec 18th, Addie's class did a play of Jan Bretts' book, "The Mitten." Addie played the mouse Jasper (in the vest) is the same kid who dressed up like Jack Layton (SR71 pilot) for Halloween.

On MOnday, 12/21, we went to the high school to watch the elementary school production of "A Beary Happy Holiday" (see previous post):

The 4th graders in back are polar bears, the thrd graders in shades are grizzlies, and the 2nd graders are pandas.
All the Pandas singing, "Bring A Torch, Jeanette, Isabella"
Addie doing her "Panda-monium" number
(she was dressed just like Audrey Hepburn--adorable)
Cousin Danny was a dancing cowboy bear with the first graders (he's in the hat).
On the 22nd, we caroled and took candy trains to friends and neighbors. It was WINDY, but so fun!
I think we're all caught up on photos now.


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...