Sunday, September 25, 2011

Fotos, Finally...& My 40th.

Last week on Sept 15th, we went to the open house at Addie's new school. Addie introduced her teacher (the adorable Mrs. Bunkers) to Niles.James & Ava Petry busied themselves around the class room...

Cute little kindergarteners!

Addie showed us all her cool stuff.

The night before we had loaded up at the farmer's market, so we had the most beautiful organic stir fry--YUM!

But we weren't ENTIRELY healthy--for the first time in a LONG time, we made crab rangoon!

Niles & James had fun watching

Addie's our chef!

Niles took a bath with James the other night--James thought that was so fun.

MMMMM, clean snuggly boys!


On Saturday, I celebrated my birthday. The night before, Rich had a scout campout, so we had a girl date with the Petry girls--we went out for Mexican food and came home to have a dance/movie party (and stayed up til 11!!!).

In the morning, the girls gave me a "breakfast dance party"

(note my "shower" of birthday cards hanging there over the window--thanks everybody!)

Rosalie (my MIL) took the girls at 9am and they came home with this cake for me--so cute! Just as they were leaving, Rich & James came home from camping and brought my big birthday surprise: A NEW GUITAR. Now I get to learn to play it!

Me & the kids & the cake

Heidi insisted on letting this balloon go to "remind [my] grandpa in heaven that it's [my] birthday." Pretty cute.

After some Saturday chores, I went and got a hair-do, then we met the Melin clan at The Rib & Chop House for dinner. It was great as usual.

Uncle Jess is here on business from California, so only Mark was missing of the sibs.

Me & my James

Lots of blondies on this end of the table!

After dinner, Mom Melin & I went to the Women's Broadcast at the church, then came home to eat a piece of cake and watch a Nirvana 1991 concert commemorating the 20th anniversary of Nevermind. Yeah, that sealed it. We're old. Also, I like Dave Grol way better now.


Lastly, Niles wore 2/3 of his spanky Sunday outfit from Uncle Sam & Aunt Kristen to church today. The nice corduroy pants are still a little big, but the shirt & vest sure are handsome.

Thanks for a great birthday, loved ones. I hope Auntie M and Abby had a great day, too. xo


Also, the past week I helped Addie & Heidi makeover their blogs so have a look...ADDIE & HEIDI

The University of Netflix

I know it has been a record TWO WEEKS since I posted, but believe me, I have been SUPER busy. In a good way. I will do a regular post with pix and family updates soon, but for now here's what I have been doing BESIDES blogging & Mom stuff.

I've been watching things on Netflix when I do laundry, so this month I have had a couple of themes. First of all was nutrition. I watched Fork Over Knives , Fat Head, and Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead. I learned a lot, and came away with the overall impression (AGAIN) that the Word of Wisdom was right all along. I have made an effort to clean up our diet, which is an wasy thing to do in harevst season--let's see how it goes the rest of the year. We did have 3-4 meatless meals per week this month, and the rest have contained small amounts of chicken or fish. The two "red-meat" meals we have had have been three-bean chili with beef and beef broccoli stir fry, which only uses about 1 serving (6oz) of meat. We have had THE BEST time with the abundant produce we've been getting from the combination of our new Bountiful Baskets program and the $18 worth of WIC checks I can use at the farmer's market (in addition to the $10-15 I can use at the store). My fridge has been BEAUTIFUL and colorful all month and it has been so fun figuring out how to use all the yummy stuff. In my "Real Post", I'll post some recipes and fun pix. Dont' forget, it's apple season at the ranch, too!

My next netflix theme was hillbillies. Holy Twilight Zone! I watched "Winter's Bone" and "The Wild & Wonderful Whites of West Virginia"---both stories were fascinating and terribly sad at the same time. Perscription and meth abuse are epidemic and depressing. And ignorance...well, it's pretty much at the root of every social ill. I liked this quote from the NYTimes about the Whites movie: "It is hard to know just what to think of these people, whose unabashed recklessness might make you envious even as you shake your head in appalled amazement at their disregard for every conceivable societal norm. But one thing is certain, and is in a way the whole point of this fascinating and problematic documentary: The Whites don’t care what you or anyone else thinks of them." Yep.

I also watched NatGeo's "Inside Mecca" and "My Name is Khan" and "The Stoning of Soraya M," continuing my Central Asian education that began with reading Greg Mortensen's books. Yet another Twilight Zone, but admittedly more beautiful. The Mecca footage was just stunning. It records the rituals of the haj, and I am a sucker for rituals and symbolism, so I really liked it. I also find it totally fascinating to watch that many people doing the same thing, en masse. My Name Is Khan was, in my opinion, the Indian Forrest Gump. It's an Indian film, so it has that clean, heartwarming quality of bollywood, but I learned about the Muslim-Hindi conflict, which I hadn't heard much about before. I think my favorite moment was when his mother taught him about the two kinds of people--people who do good deeds and people who do bad deeds, and those are the only distinctions we ever need to consider. NICELY PUT. The stoning film was horrific, but I am glad I saw it. I had no idea that victims are buried from the waist down and then pelted with stones as they are immobilized. Yikes. The over-arching message for me was "Be afraid of Sharia Law--be very afraid." I think there is a beautiful tradition and history in Islam (and the art--oh, I love it), but like anything, it can be dark and scary in its extreme (as we've all learned the hard way this past decade). And the poor women...ugh.

ANYWAY...after I finished the last little bit of Soraya M, I flipped over to "A Room With A View" (click that--you'll love it) for a more beautiful, lighthearted, HILARIOUS viewing experience. I can still say every line after all these years--it's like riding a bike.

UPDATE (9/27): I totally forgot to mention my Ode to Fashion Week Theme. I am not a fan of the idea/mechanism/culture of fashion, although I like it as an art form. I watched "Bill Cunningham New York" and I was thoroughly delighted with the film and Bill as a person. I'd have to say it's one of my favorite documentaries of late. He's such a character--so unique, so right-thinking, yet totally immersed in fashion. Talk about being in the world but not of the world--Bill is it. I also watched "The September Issue" which actually made me feel a little sorry for Anna Wintour, and of course, "The Devil Wears Prada." Fun.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

My Belated Manifesto

[This post was originally written on October 13, 2010 at 2:43 pm; I am publishing after nearly a year of pondering & prayer.]

I have been contemplating the topic of my personal feelings about homosexuality and my church's doctrines vs. my church's culture about homosexuality for a long time. There are many areas--most, really--in my religion where my testimony and understanding of principles have come almost automatically. I have been able to learn, study, pray, test, and know for myself that certain principles are true, that they will bring me joy, that they will protect and prepare me for life in this world, that they will give me a sense of confidence and self-worth and purpose, and bring me closer to my Heavenly Father. I have a testimony of the doctrines my church teaches about homosexuality and marriage. Sometimes they are hard, but I know they are true. What I have not been able to square my heart and soul with is the way many of my fellow saints and fellow Christians treat our homosexual brothers and sisters. Not only does it "not fit" for me, it breaks my heart. I cry A LOT about the things I hear and see in the world on this subject. I know that it’s not right.

First of all, I have posted often about "threads" in my life, how God teaches me by having a certain tpoic come up repeatedly in a short amount of time from a variety of sources. For a while last spring, I was learning/ thinking/ discussing a lot about civil vs. eternal marriage or civil unions vs. sacramental unions, etc. This topic always leads to issues of gay marriage, and I had a change of heart in that department. I have to first admit that I do not think marriage is a good idea except in the context of my religion--meaning that if I weren't LDS there is no way I would have ever gotten married. I just don't see the point, I don't think my lifestyle is the business of the state, and I just don't understand the desire in this day and age. That said, if the state is going to MAKE lifestyle its business, then state sanctioned "marriage" ("civil marriages") should be equally available to all citizens. Soooo--this blog post, this personal manifesto (of sorts) is two fold--my political/legal view and my spiritual view.

First, I want my political opinions to be sound and integral. I don’t like double standards or inconsistencies anywhere in my life. For some reason, it is assumed if you identify as conservative that you’re intolerant and that you fall in line with the “Christian” right wing social agenda. I do not. I find that whole philosophy incongruous and (accidentally) hypocritical, but I DO consider myself conservative with libertarian leanings. Because of this, I feel the government has no business in our personal lives. I understand that there are many nuanced and intelligent arguments on both sides of these social issues and I honestly respect them. I understand that many government policies and political issues conflict with my religion, but as long as they don’t infringe on my right to practice my religion and they are constitutional, I can support them. Soooo…since I don’t want the government telling me how much money I should make or how I should spend it , or what to feed or teach my kids, or who I should marry (insert libertarian-leaning rant about our unscrupulous, immoral, irresponsible, spiritually dead government here), I certainly don’t think they should be telling anyone else. This is why I—from a purely legal perspective-support limited and informed legalized abortion and this is why I support gay marriage. I may personally object to these things; I may try to dissuade my loved ones from these things, but should my religious beliefs or personal opinions form public policy? No. Is the gospel still true and am I still free to live it? Yes. Everybody wins. We get to love one another and leave the judging to God. That’s a division of labor I can live with. And if you disagree with me, I still love you.

As far as the church goes, I have been wrestling with things in my heart and mind, and then one day light and peace came to my mind—the things I was wrestling with were not doctrinal, they were (are) cultural. What came into my mind was “The culture is teaching the hurtful things; The gospel is (and was, and always has been) LOVE.” Regardless of church policies, God’s own pronouncements, legal issues, cultural hurdles, it isn’t— and never was -our place to judge. Our one and ultimate injunction is to love one another. Charity never faileth.

My heart broke into a million pieces during Elder Packer’s talk last October conference because I knew that hundreds of our “same-sex-attracted” brothers and sisters were listening, waiting to be fed and encouraged on their life journeys (like all of us), and his words about God not making us “that way” were like an arrow to the heart. They made me so sad because I KNOW that people struggle with those feelings very early in life and I KNOW that it is not their choice. Some of the people I love the most on this earth, who have been instrumental in bringing me closer to Christ, are active, believing members of the church who are also gay. Acting on feelings is a choice; we rarely can choose our feelings. I followed a link to this post from a gay member of the church about Elder Packer's remarks. I found his comments insightful and almost identical to the thoughts I had while watching the talk live and re-watching later to make sure I heard him right. I can save my self a load of time by just directing you to that link if you want to know what I thought of BKP's talk, specifically. I was so relieved when those words were removed from Elder Packer’s printed talk and when the church issued a statement the next week. The words "Balm of Gilead" come to mind when I watch this clip. I hope I and the church as whole--each individual member--can develop the same tenderness and compassion exhibited by Brother Otterson.

One of those dear friends is leading a conference of homosexual members of the LDS Church this weekend in the Kirtland Temple. We have had long talks about his journey, about where he fits in Heavenly Father’s family and in the church. I am so proud of him. I pray the Spirit will bless him and the gathering this week. I hope hearts will be healed and knit together, and that the Spirit of unity will spill over into our home wards and branches throughout the church. Randall, I can’t be there in person, but my heart and hopes are with you this weekend!

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Sweet Sixteen

Niles is 16 weeks old today. He got weighed and measured and he's shot up from the 50th percentile all-around to 70th in height and 87th in weight. That's my boy!He's so happy, especially when he wakes up, and he's been sleeping about 8-8 with one feeding between 4-5am. It's SO NICE.
Here he is chatting with the ceiling fan and chewing his fingers, two of his favorite things. He is so excited in the afternoons when the big kids come home...I get boring by 4pm! We are really enjoying our time with him (even though he is growing up WAY TOO FAST!).

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

I Have a Confession to Make.

I know I'm a litle late to the party, but I am completely obsessed with this song (we don't get radio music here and they didn't play it on any npr shows). I don't just like it. The first time I heard it was like a punch in the stomach and for some reason I felt 14 and totally thrilled like the first time I heard The Jesus and Mary Chain. Then I saw the video and my 14-year-old self freaked out (scruffy surfer boys in So Cal? Yes, please!). So now I sneak a peek at the vid which I DVRed off the VH1 countdown a few wks ago, and I'm uploading the album (SO GOOD) on itunes. I bet it will make me exercise longer! ;) The feeling of this song was JAMChain, but the rest reminds me of Scritti Politti, all dancey and falsetto. Ahhhh, memoreeeez!

Back in the day...

Labor Day Birthday

James turned 5 on Monday the 5th--golden birthday! His day began with opening a gift and eating blueberry pancakes and bacon with the family. Niles joined in the fun by eating his first rice cereal at James' birthday breakfast.YUM!
Niles will be 16 weeks old on Thursday---hard to believe he's grown so fast.

The gift James opened was the 25th Anniversary Edition of Michael Jackson's Thriller album, complete with a fun DVD. The kids LOOOOVED it! They do love to boogie.

James wanted to go to Chico for his birthday, so we went over there around noon. Niles enjoyed floating around in the warm water, although he refused to smile for the camera.

Little Piggies

Perfect sunny day and happy little baby!

After swimming, Grandpa & Grandma Melin met us for pizza at the Poolside Grille, then we headed over to the ranch to play and meet up with cousins and friends for ice cream and cake.

James got two sets of legos and lots of fun cards

And TEN BUCKS from G&G Melin

Earlier in the morning, James helped me make this dinosaur cake. It was delicious!

James wanted to play legos rather than going floating. Here he is with cousin Hannah.


Earlier in the weekend, James had told Rich (holding up all five fingers on one hand), "On Monday I'm gonna be WHOLE HAND BOY!" Happy Birthday to our whole hand boy!

After cake and ice cream, the river was calling, so , although we hadn't planned to, we floated the river from Mill Creek bridge to the ranch. It took us 1 hour and 15 minutes and it was cold but delightful. No pictures of the float, but trust us, it was great! (PS: Thanks to the Petrys and Westenskows for coming to wish James a Happy Birthday :))

Saturday, September 03, 2011

What Needs to Be Done

First, a word about the weather: Yesterday, I was out and about at high noon and realized that the sun had already slanted to the south and was casting more of that gentle autumn light on things, even though autumn is still 20 days away. I LOVE it—the soft light (as Addie said last year, “It seems like afternoon all day” as the sun hangs low), the chill in the air, the golden grass and the sunflowers. These are all the early signs of my favorite season and I find it all so motivating. Soon we will cook and can apples and rakes leaves and sew Halloween costumes and eat soups and breads and hunker down for the holidays and the long winter, and I WILL SAVOR IT ALL!


Yesterday, September 2nd, was the anniversary of my grandfather’s death. While I was sad thinking of the surrounding circumstances and loss of this time last year, mostly my feelings were positive. Mostly I was thinking, “We made it! Look what we’ve done in a year!” I woke up ready to make a memorial offering of my day and I think I did a pretty good job.

First of all, I sent my kids off to school and my husband to work and I played with my baby. I fed him, I snuggled him, I bathed him and lotioned him and sang him into his morning nap. I did a half hour of smooth flow yoga on BYUTV, and then started my business for the day. I filled out papers and made up treats for my kids’ teachers expressing gratitude for their hard work. I cleaned up the kitchen and took the baby to deliver treats and paper work to the schools before lunch began. My Addie was sick, so I brought her home and we shared a salad and Emergen-C drinks, trying to make and keep our bodies healthy. I took a rest with her and Niles. Rich came home early today and we moved the bedrooms around so Grandma Lyn will have a comfy place to stay when she comes to visit us. We cleaned and beautified. Then I made dinner and we invited friends over to share the bounty, then attended a baptism. The closing song was “I Know That My Redeemer Lives,” and as I folded my arms at the end of the song I thought, “This is the perfect ending of a perfect day. It’s the kind of day Grampy would want me to have. And know what? I DO know that my redeemer lives and THAT is why everything is okay.”

Last year on September 3rd, I woke up with a sadness hangover and felt totally justified staying in bed to cry and sleep. As I rolled over, a voice spoke to my heart and said, “Get up and do what needs to be done.” Grampy worked so hard to teach me to stop being self-absorbed, to think about something besides what I wanted to do or how I felt. He taught me to see the bigger picture of being about our Father’s business daily. I felt that the best way to remember him on that day (and every day) was to get up and do what needs to be done.

And I have done a lot. In a somewhat prophetic move on my part, we chose as our family theme last school year ,”I Can Do Hard Things.” I had NO IDEA how hard the year would be, and how exquisitely joyful and beautiful, too. I did a lot of Hard Things. I stayed home with my family when I wanted with all my heart to travel to the funeral , because that’s what needed to be done. I endured another pregnancy and gave birth to a beautiful boy because that’s what needed to be done. I walked a zillion miles and cut out sugar and refined foods and made hundreds of meals and read voraciously and repented and forgave and hugged and snuggled and washed the clothes/dishes and made new friends and taught dozens of lessons and wrote hundreds of blogposts and letters and took the sacrament and meant it because that’s what needed to be done.

The veil is too thick yet, at least for me, to obey out of pure love for my Father. I wish this weren’t so, but it is. I am often selfish and natural, and I forget Him too often. But somehow it’s easier to try to follow Grampy’s counsel. With him, the veil seems thin, my memories of him are strong, and his example is fresh in my mind. I like to think- -I hope--that Grampy is kind of a bridge, and that someday my relationship with God will grow and mature to be like my relationship with my grandfather and my life will reflect it consistently.
Meanwhile, it’s time for me to get up and do what needs to be done this sunny Saturday. I’m thinking of my extended family today, especially my Gram. I hope yesterday was as peaceful for you! Thanks all of you for your examples and for carrying on so gracefully.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Back to School

My Big Three are all in school this's hard to believe my Sweet Baby James is in full-day kindergarten because, really, until recently, he was a baby. My baby. But he's reading and socializing and educating the general public (anyone who'll listen) about dinosaurs, so I had to let him go (sniffle). Good thing I've got this new boy to keep me company (lol). are the pictures we took as we dropped the kids off for their first day. My camera batteries died after the first picture, so I had to do some serious photoshopping and still ended up with bad pictures. Here they are...Winans School is now a K-2 Primary school rather than an elementary, so Heidi is there in 2nd grade and James is there in Kindergarten.
Heidi at her locker, right outside Mrs. Meador's room.

Heidi was so excited to have her very own desk this year!

James at his locker

Rich took these pix of James with his cell phone while I took Addie over to the intermediate school (Eastside grades 3-5). Here is James running to line up when he heard the bell.

James lining up with 97 kindergarteners!

Happy Boy!

Meanwhile, over at Eastside...

Here's Addie taking her seat in her new 4th grade classroom (Ms. Bunkers).

Happy First Day, curly-locks!

Addie's teacher, Ms. Bunkers

Addie's best bud, Izzi, is in her class & they are super excited!


Good luck to all you students, teachers, and staff!

Our Busy Week

Niles doesn't quite know what to make of the bubble bath

That sober face just cracks me up. "Being a baby is serious business."

Last Thursday we went to play at the ranch for one last hurrah. I failed to take pictures of most of the fun, but I did get Addie and Izzi playing on the beach.

...a big windy storm blew in and pooped our party, so we went out for pizza rather than having a bbq. It was FUN.


On Saturday, 8/27, Rich and Mike Petry took the kids floating down the Yellowstone River while Niles and I stayed home and did chores. Here are the pix:

Heidi & Mike

James & Ava


James & Ava again

...and again

(how cute are these two, serisously...? LOVE IT!)

Rich-eye view

Ava, Mike & James rounding the last bend before the ranch


Izzi & Addie


Later that afternoon, we had our Primary Summer Activity.

We explained the plan to the kids out on the grass at the park...

We practiced a few "opening songs" then divided up into teams for the Book of Mormon Olympics

A Team- Izzi, Addie, Lydia, & William

Another Team- James, Ava, Heidi, and Hailey

Jessi Tyner helps the kids translate a message from the Book of Mormon.

I helped the kids do a Liahona Treasure Hunt

Families gathered for the BBQ

After dinner, the kids got to throw waterballoons at the current & former Primary Presidents (the kids earned a balloon for each article of faith they memorized or sometimes for bringing their scriptures to church).

Ashley menacing Sister Weisgerber

Lydia takes a shot

Heidi is ready to let loose, too!


We had a super fun time at the activity, then we had a double date with the Petrys. Their daughter Hannah babysat for us and we all went out to play games and chill at the ranch house. We'd originally planned to see The Red Elvises at Pine Creek, but didn't want to pay a cover charge for a band we'd already seen for free. It was really fun and something we need to do regularly! Needless to say, that was a very busy Saturday and we were so dang tired on Sunday, we won't be out late on a Saturday again any time soon. I did sharing time, then came home and crashed. It was a great last weekend of summer for the kids.


Dear Loved Ones,                                                                                                                         1...