Saturday, July 31, 2010

Campin' at Pine Creek

May I preface my introduction by saying that as wonderful as this campout was, I would have gladly missed it if I hadn't been in charge because today we missed my niece, Isabelle's baptism down in Lehi, Utah. Belle, we love you and are so proud of you! We hope your special day is PERFECT! Can't wait to see pictures! XOXOXOX
Let me introduce this little photo essay by telling you that Pine Creek campground is the coolest campground I have ever been to, anywhere in the US of A. It's clean, it's gorgeous, it's got creeks of various sizes and a gorgeous one-mile hike to a fabulous water fall (and you can go 4 more miles up to a breath-taking glacial lake). Richard asked me to marry him at a look out along Pine Creek road (so how could I resist?), and I LOVE the place. So when they made me the activities chairperson for our ward, where else could I plan the Ward Campout? The big activity was Friday night, but we went up Thursday night and had a day to enjoy the area and get ready...James, Heidi, and Addie on the trail in front of our campsite.
Bikin' in the forest is so fun!

This bright pink fungus was growing all around our campsite.
***
Friday morning, I took my kids halfway up to the waterfall on the trail and we played in the creek and built stick boats.

Ahoy, mateys! (leaf sail and all--Addie's idea)

Heidi's ready to set sail!

James liked finding branches and "planting trees" in the sand in the creek.

Heidi moving her boat along

Michaela Claar taught Addie how to whistle with a blade of grass, so Addie did it all weekend!

James "planting trees" in the creek
(I love his toes in this pic)
Addie on the trail

Heidi and James near the creek

Little cuties!

Addie making her boat
***

We hiked back down to camp around 11am...
James pretending to be a bear invading our campsite
***
Later that night our ward gathered at the pavilion for an amazing barbecue
[luckily, I am not hard to miss in my ginormous orange shirt]

The pavilion is a gorgeous place to eat!

That's our bbq master on the left there, Steve McCann (owner of the local DQ and an amazing cook). He worked all day to smoke and grill an amazing selection of ribs, brisket, burgers, and Nathan's hot dogs. I heard several people say he made the best ribs they have ever eaten (I was partial to the brisket with raspberry-chipotle sauce, myself). THANKS, McCANNS!!!!
We played some Norwegian Golf while we hung out
(especially the Jeffrey boys and the Young boys, pictured here)
Brother Jones served up ice cream and dutch oven cobblers for dessert
Libby and Michaela brought flowers from their hike to Jewel Lake

Heidi hung out with Aunt Debbie and tried out all her new naughty words on the Holm family.
Boys of all ages let out their inner pyromaniacs
(Zane, Danny, and Orrin pictured here)

My wonderful sisterfriend, Debbie, planned and executed a fun treasure hunt for the children, which ended with a treasure of candy! (Debbie is passing out the candy in this picture)

YUM!
Debbie is the Pied Piper of Livingston!

At the end of the night, the Young Women sang their camp song for the group and it was lovely. They head up to camp at Hyalite (amazing--google it--gorgeous and cushy!) all next week.
After the girls sang, we listened to some Roy Rogers and Gene Autry campfire songs while we all cleaned up and headed for our own campsites.
As far as I know the ten or eleven families that stayed over had a great time--it was a beautiful night and there were no bear sightings (or attacks ;)). The Elders Quorum cooked pancakes and sausage and hashbrowns and eggs and bacon and cinnamon rolls for breakfast around 8am. We broke camp and got home around noon, but I know some other families stayed to enjoy Pine Creek one more day. I had a blast and would love to spend more time with all the fun people we were with last night.
One last plug for Montana Summers--you really ought to come up and enjoy it. The next few weeks are our only "hot" time and the river gets lower and slower and it's so fun to raft and camp and hike. Fantastic! Just sayin'.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

On Tuesday

On Tuesday, we went to the park and took a picnic. Addie is showing off her new lunch bag, but I didn't take a picture of it--just her big smile!
Heidi had to make a silly face as she ran by me...

and so did James!

Heidi saw her friend, Ryan, from pre-school (he went to kindergarten at the other elementary, so they haven't seen one another for a year or so)

I dont' know that little girl on the swing, but she and James had a ball being swung by Heidi.

She looks pretty annoyed here--James, as usual, is trying to cheer her up. He likes everyone around him to be happy.

Yay! It worked!
***
Later, Richand I took a trip to Billings...
We ate fabulous Mongolian BBQ at HuHot
(my personal favorite recipe contains lots of cilantro but there wasn't any on the bar. I asked for some and they brought me this huge bowl of it. So, yum) I didn't take a picture of my food until it was gone, but it was super good like always. You can't really go wrong with meat, veggies, tasty sauces, and a giant griddle!
Speaking of tasty sauces...
Here I am hittin' the sauce. Rich thinks I drink Mae Ploy.
Maybe I do.

I intended to take a cute picture of us at the temple, but it was getting dark and rainy when we got there and we were hurrying. But this is what it looked like:
Billings Temple
***
Now I must get my poop in a group and go set up for our ward campout at Pine Creek. The campout is Friday night, but we Melins are heading up a day early to make sure things go smoothly (and to have an extra day of fun). It's so beautiful up there...yay.
So now I leave you with a transcript of last Friday's voicemail from Heidi. It was recently revealed to me that she has been hiding phones in her room and calling Rich at work and leaving long hilarious voicemails for him. This particular voicemail is one she left calling me from day camp last week:
HEIDI, 07.23.10 at 3pm:
Mommy, uuuhhhhmmmm, I was wondering if I could come home right now.
I'm sorry you couldn't call me. [fumbling noise, as if she's hanging up...]
It was Addie and Heidi who wanted to call, K? Got that? K? Bye. [more fumbling]
Oh, and leave me a message, K?........you're a sweetheart [more fumbling]
and I love you, mommy. [click]

Monday, July 26, 2010

These are the days when you wish your bed was already made

Rich is doin' logs at the ranch and I'm up late. The kids were all asleep by nine, so I caught up on some DVR'ed TV (which is rare in the summer)--a new Intervention and a new Oprah [btw, I almost missed this new Oprah because DVR no longer lists her under "O" for Oprah Winfrey--it's under "T" for The Oprah Winfrey Show. Weird]. This Intervention was a sad one cuz the poor addict's family promised they would go get Betty Ford Family treatment if she went to rehab and they totally let her down. It always makes me mad when the family doesn't do The Work cuz how is the addict supposed to go home to that steaming pot of crazy from whence she came and get better? It's usually the people who think they are well who stir the pot. So sad.

And then I kinda skipped thru a new Oprah with Gavin de Becker talking about The Gift of Fear again, and an interview with Jenny Sanford (ex-wife of the former SC governor who had the Argentine girlfriend--remember that?). I am not sure I believe that Jenny's as well as she says she is, but I admire the stance that she took and I wish that more people would at least TRY to be decent and dignified when their worlds collapse. I especially liked the part where she and Oprah were talking about, "You say to yourself, 'let's be the best people we can be through this'"--you know, rather than rising to the occasion (or sinking in the situation), you rise above it, take the proverbial high road, and keep your peace and dignity for the sake of your children. Novel idea. Like I said, I doubt she has been as 'okay with it' as she has to portray publicly, but you have to know that God [or The Universe, in Oprah-ese] rewards that kind of effort with spiritual guidance and inner peace. If you can at least get out there and talk the talk, I believe He helps you walk the walk, ya know? So good for you, Jenny. Now tell your webmasters to update your website cuz there's still a whole section about your restoration projects and tours at the governor's mansion when your home page says you are living on Shutter Island now. Er, I mean, Sullivan's Island. Awkward.

Earlier, the kids got all surly so I took them to Bozeman to Costco. It was pretty fun, although I was a bit snappish cuz the traffic was slow. We had a good time and came and made a great dinner and had a fun FHE (with yummy apple dumplings for treats--Heidi made them, mostly by herself). Two things that bugged me today--one is gross, one was just annoying: first, I hit some mosquitoes with my windshield on the interstate and let me tell ya--I don't know how those suckers were flying with that much human blood in them, but when they hit my windshield, I almost barfed. You know me and blood--I kid you not, it was bad. I had three different splatters that looked like a quarter teaspoon each. Gag. Then when I got off the interstate, I was on the road that goes toward my neighborhood and the speed limit was 50. But the maroon Pontiac in front of me was going 18 mph. No lie. I was trying to get Rich's lunch to him ASAP and--well, it was frustrating. I did get to read very clearly the bumper sticker that said, "I went to Norsk Hostfest in Minot, North Dakota." Uff-dah!

I had a couple of Heidi-isms to post, but they escape me now. Suffice it to say, she is entertaining us while simultaneously pushing the boundaries AND being the family's moral compass. Yay, her. Addie and James pretty much just duck and cover--gotta stick together!

Well, I am rambling again. I should go to bed. I finished Kacy's blog today, so I better go to the library and find me a book tomorrow. We're driving to Billings to go to the temple, so that's two whole quiet hours (unless we decide to chat rather than catch up on podcasts or read library books. Either way, yay!).

Friday, July 23, 2010

A Blurb

I've had this excruciating head/backache for 2 days that makes sitting down pert-near impossible, so no blogging. Also I forgot to take my camera to some fun things (activity days girls' stake party at river rock pond!), so no pictures.

But I have done a ton of laundry and cleaning and made some fab dinners. I have been enjoying hangin' with my kids each night while Rich is at the ranch, and LOVED getting monsoon-like rain storms the past two evenings.

I got bored with my library book so I picked a blog to read from start to finish instead (Kacy's)--I'd buy it in book form any day (I've already got bits of it in magazine form since she's had a couple of posts published in Parents magazine). This quote from her job history post made me laugh today: "Even though I say I 'don't work,' I assume that most of the people I talk to understand that I stay busy taking care of kids [and blogging] and, quite frankly, I prefer any misconceptions of me living in leisure to the reality of me in knit pants and the shirt I wore yesterday darting around to and fro swiping at various surfaces with a sour, stinking rag. Which brings me right up to today--thus concluding my job history. " Heh, heh. Me, too.

Also, I failed to mention over the weekend that I had a fun time with Richard at his 20-Year HS Reunion. Good Times. I'll post those pix when my head stops hurting. K, bye.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

With Helmet in Place, With Sword in Hand, With the Shield of Faith We are Worthy to Stand...

I am still fighting off the melancholy that has been chasing me something fierce for the past month. I am beginning to think that what I believe is Seasonal Affective Disorder is really a six-month mood cycle with peaks in spring and fall because mid winter and summer are just perennially bleak for me, no matter how much sunshine you pour over it!

One touchy subject for me at all times now is my Grandparents. You remember the heart-wrenching moments I posted about back in early spring? Well, they are still happening, too many to count, as my grandfather struggles through one ailment after another, his poor body slowly wearing down after such a Wonderful Life. He and Grandma are brave little soldiers (sorry--I just watched Shirley Temple's A Little Princess with the girls), but weary...the (nearly) unbearable heaviness of the situation is evident and undeniable, no matter how cheerful and brave they try to be. Any moment of the day I can be asked about them and my brain has to do a quick maneuver to dam up my emotions and live in The Now and not let the heartaches Out There seep into daily life In Here. And I am in nearly the same spot with my sister who is struggling with addiction and my mother (with whom she is now living), both of whom are physically and emotionally ill. It exhausts me to even think of all they have to work through and what they have to endure each day.

HOWEVER, as has always been the case in my life, this melancholy has an overall effect of spurring me forward and strengthening my resolve. My resolutions include living life from moment to moment so that when it is I who am laid low, I am surrounded with care and love and prayers and peace like grandpa.

I also told Erin (Thank heaven for my right-thinking, straight-talking bff!) as we were hanging out last week that the lessons of the past 3 or 4 years (watching sin and dishonesty shred my loved ones) have caused this vision in my mind over and over again of me standing with my full strength pushing against the front door of my home, shouting, "Not in my house!" For me it has embodied the true war we wage to raise a family in the gospel (and anyone who doesn't think it's a war is dellusional). I think of the armor of God analogy, of us dressing for each day with a helmet, breastplate, shield, sword, and with our preparation shoes on. As they say on SNL's Scared Straight skit, THIS IS FOR REAL, Y'ALL. There is no way I am exposing myself or my family to the world without this armor, everyday. It's the Seven Simple Things. I think of morning scripture and prayer and hugs and part of that armor. I think of Five-Minute Lay-By's at night when we talk to the kids and we repent to each other, making amends for hurt feelings. Family Night every week , no matter what.

Remember early in the War or Terror when the country was rallied (and then it became a really funny joke) by saying, "When we do [x--whatever], the terrorist win!" ? Well, I have been rallying myself by saying, "When you miss prayers, Satan wins." You can replace miss prayers with any other regular devotional activity-- Temple worship, sacrament meeting, service opportunities--and you can also say the reverse: "When you raise your voice, Satan wins." At the same time, though, I refuse to let even the attitude of war and hate to seep in, knowing that if we are not obeying and serving out of pure love, everything else we do is for naught. THE GOOD NEWS, however, is that nightly repentance takes away all Satan's tiny victories, wiped away by Greatest Victory, "the victory Jesus won." We know how it all pans out, right? We want to be on the victorious side when all is said and done, hopefully with our families in tact.

So rather than curling up crying when I realize how horrible things are Out There (or sometimes after a quick cry), my knee jerk reaction has become, "Not in my house! Not on my watch!" I am not saying that there won't be heartache and poor choices in my nuclear family, for there surely will be--this is life and experience is how we learn to pass the test. But I am certainly not going to be guilty of giving myself excuses or defending my own poor choices or justifying bad feelings toward another person--ANY other person-- when Christ has shown us the way and promised to eradicate these spiritual cancers. There is a simple recipe (I said simple, as in not complex; easy to understand, not necessarily easy to DO, but definitely do-able with sincere effort) for a happy and safe home and it's guaranteed. When I or Richard fall short of following the recipe, then we are certainly at least partially responsible for the poor choices and bad feelings that result in our family. We cannot heal or progress as good parents and a godly couple if we do not accept this accountability. On the flip side, if we DO follow the recipe, even in the face of great heartache we can enjoy the peace of knowing we've done our best. I can't do everything right everyday, but I can repent and ask that my day and my doings be made perfect in Christ. I can live like I know it is by grace we are saved after all we can do (remembering the "ALL" part!). I know deep in my heart that I am going to need this peace--I have been warned and forewarned--and I want to be able to say to my children with confidence, You have been instructed sufficiently to choose; We haven't asked you to do anything we have not done ourselves--it can be done and joy can be had; and most importantly: You know where to look for a remission of your sins when you are ready to let them go.

OKAY. This has gotten way too rambling--it is mostly for myself and my kids. I wanted to put the inner-rallying cry into words. And I just wanted you to know that those painful things are lingering, but at the same time, I can feel Heavenly Father teaching me and making me stronger and helping me make resolutions draw boundaries so I and my family can still feel peace and safety and joy. I believe that learning from the trials of others is a great gift. I give thanks for it; I pray for those who are suffering, that we may learn and move on as swiftly as possible. Of course there is always "Thy will be done"-- always, even with white knuckles, right? ;) I am so thankful for my husband and his patience, for his efforts to avoid even the semblance of evil, for his efforts to be the best husband and father he can be, for being my partner in this battle and always having on his armor. All is well with us and we do not take that for granted. Thank you for thinking of us and praying for us.
***
PS: I have yet to blog about my visit with Erin last week, but this email to Cousin Brent sums it up pretty well--
I just got home from a little vacay to Utah wherein I did nothing but hang out with Erin Casper and:
eat good food
watch good movies
have fabulous/hilarious/edifying convos
sleep deeply
IT WAS GREAT! (she was visiting Utah from endodontics residency in Mississippi)...

As we prayed together before I left, my heart swelled with the reminder that I have been so blessed and lucky! Every need I could ever have has been filled through the relationships with which I have been blessed. And I think no two friends ever needed one another like Erin and I did. It goes a little something like this:

"For worthy friends whose lives proclaim
Devotion to the Savior's name
And bless our days with peace and love
We praise Thy goodness, Lord above!"


Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Friday Night Cook Out in Old Chico

Friday night we planned one last hurrah for the Melin Kids, sans Marlena, and went 4-wheelin' up in he mountains behind Old Chico.Old Shack iin Old Chico
The road, the Lexus window, and the topographical GPS map

Addie, Summer, TJay, and Heidi at the creeknear our campfire stop Just say no to crack!

Kelli and Lexi tailgatin' at the Lexus
Creek lovin' Cousins

James Ole in his cool chair from Aunt Laura


Matthew & Heidi
Aunt Kelli & Uncle Jess
Uncke Mike helping Heidi by the fire
Lovin' the pretzels & the campfire!
TJay, Addie, Summer, Heidi, Matthew, & James


Roasting Hot Dogs
Jess & Lexi
Mike & Jess Help Addie & Summer

James and Matthew--28 days apart (almost 4)


Summer & Addie
TJay--next to be baptized!
Heidi

Sumer & Addie are pals
(although Heidi is only 19 days older than Summer--just tuned 6)
Jess, Kelli & Lexi-Loooo

Me-n-Richard=TLA

Kelli made foil dinners and they were so delicious!!!

James looks like he's on an important business call
but he's really playing walkie-talkies with Matthew!


Jess & dinner


No,Lexi is not havin' a smoke--
she's eating pretzel sticks and pretending to hike

Daddy let the kids hang out the window down the trail.
They caught bachelor buttons, leaves, and even yellow roses.

WONDERFUL NIGHT!
****
At 4:40 the following morning, James and I headed south the visit with Auntie Erin Casper in Utah. The only picture I havetaken on the trip so far is this one of y traveing buddy:
awwwww.
We head home tomorrow.
Life is sweet.

FAMILY LETTER 01.14.18

Dear Loved Ones,                                                      This has been a very typical January week. We are well into the w...