Sunday, February 23, 2014


Dear Loved Ones:

Well, if last week was a joyful party, this week was the hangover.

  On Monday we said goodbye to Westenskows in the morning, then we cleaned up and went to a special family Presidents Day lunch at Olive Garden. Heidi has been begging for salad and breadsticks for months and she earned them by helping me get ready for guests last weekend. Everyone was astonishingly good, we had a nice time. Later Addie went to Hunter’s Safety and we went out to our anniversary dinner at Rib & Chop House. We were deliriously tired but we had a nice, snowy night out together.

On Tuesday we all were back to the grindstone. I was sad to learn that my dear friend, Beryl Gray (“My Gramma Gray”) passed away on January 18th in Idaho Falls. She and her husband served with me in my first area in Tarboro, North Carolina in Fall of 1992. They were from Wales, but moved to Lincoln, California in 1955 where they raised their 4 daughters. We stayed close, talking on the phone a few times a year until 2010 (Grampa Gray died in 2006), and I’ve been looking for her ever since. I’m sad that I didn’t get to say good bye, but so happy that she is reunited with Grampa Gray and I look forward to seeing them again someday. Thinking of them reminded me of all the good Mom and Dad Melin are doing in Missouri. Your influence on the missionaries around you can last forever!

On Wednesday, Jordyn went to the MTC—we tracked her progress on facebook with her mom. Addie brought Milenna Voyich over afterschool. They studied and played, then went to an Ettiquette Dinner for Young Women that night. They had such a good time. Heidi made bananas and strawberries with Nutella for her Activity Days treat and they made Faith in God binders that will stay at church and keep track of all the things they learn and do this year. I took the boys up to the church to join Rich for Court of Honor. He has a ton of new 11-year-old scouts…I think there are 6, two more coming in the spring, and 5 of the 6 new scouts earned their scout badges at this meeting (I may or may not have been listening to the Uof AZ vs. U of Utah basketball game on my iPad toward the end of that meeting –AZ won!).

Thursday was a quiet evening at home, and Friday, James stayed home sick with a fever and cough. Both the boys just stayed in their jammies and watched Netflix and snuggled on my bed. The morning started off with a text from my best friend, Erin in New Jersey (her husband is Marlena’s bishop). All her tests came back and she has stage three breast cancer—so she can’t avoid chemo and radiation, which I was hoping for. She has her port placed on Wednesday and chemo begins soon. I kept shedding tears on and off through the day, wishing I was in a position to go and help. At the same time, she has amazing kids (16-year-old twins and 14 & 12-year-old daughters…her youngest is 2 weeks younger than Addie) who are spiritually mature and capable, and a great husband, so I know they will handle this as well as is possible. I’ve had really sweet chats with her kids the past few weeks; I am so proud of them and have high hopes for this process. I love her dearly, can’t imagine losing her, so we don’t go there. The bright spot of the day was thinking about Sam Post and Papa Post celebrating their birthdays—Sam turned 8 and will be baptized in Helena next Saturday. We really look forward to that happy day!

Saturday we woke up to tons of snow, pretty much a white out. We decided to go to Bozeman and get a hotel so we wouldn’t miss stake conference. We stayed right next to Costco and that shopping center in Bozo, so we took the kids over to Michaels to choose something creative to do between/during the meetings. We swam and had Costco chicken bakes and smoothies for dinner, then left Addie to babysit the boys and took Heidi with us to the adult session. It was an emotionally and spiritually charged meeting, as you would expect with President Heap being released. He spoke first, then his counselors and the visiting seventies, Elders Dunnigan (area authority) and Walker. Elder Walker was very impressed with the reverence of the meeting and with our Stake in general and said so many times. This must have been sweet for President Heap. The Sunday session was pretty much doing the business of reorganizing the Stake (with the Dabells joining online from South Africa). Our new Presidency is President Jaeson Repscher, first counselor Mike Heatherington, second counselor Mike Kroffs. Then we heard farewell testimonies from the old presidency and their wives, then welcome testimonies from the new presidency and their wives (it’s a weird feeling to be the same age as the stake presidency…makes us feel old! Thank heaven for the Heatheringtons and their experience!). It’s hard to believe it has been nine years to the day since we sat in that same room with Addie and Baby Heidi and offered a vote of thanks for Dad’s service with President Dahl.

Wow, this is a looong letter again. Kudos if you made it through! Grandma Melin asked for pictures for her fridge—we are working on it. We hardly ever print them anymore, but I will send you some good files you can print the ones you like. We wish everyone and safe and happy week, and look forward to seeing our Postie family next Saturday!

Love, Rich, Jamie, & Family

Niles and James are in the habit of reading together after school.
Here they are with their feet under the couch, leaning on the ottoman, just a-readin' away.

Niles also likes to read in his room

Melin and Westenskow kids (except Niles)
Saying goodbye on Monday 02.17

Two tired mamas! Me & Melissa saying goodbye 02.17

Postcard from Melissa in reference to our visiting til midnight on Sunday night!

Last Friday's Pre-School Valentine Party
Kinsley & Bria Lowe; Autumn Larson, Porter Tyner, Naomi & John Larson, Niles Melin,
Brody Johnson, Gloria Jeffrey with Emma Jeffrey and Colton Johnson in front.

Sunday, February 16, 2014


Dear Loved Ones:

Wow, what an amazing week this has been! Niles and I hung out with Baby Maren all week, the whole family endured the schizophrenic weather, and we celebrated Valentine ’s Day, a reunion, a baptism, and a mission farewell.

On Monday night, we had a fun Family Night making Valentines for grandparents and had yummy brownies made by Addie.

On Tuesday I went to Relief Society where we learned about freezer meals and made SIXTEEN dinners to freeze and deliver to all expectant moms in May. It was a good reminder that I should start doubling up and freezing family faves for when our baby arrives. Problem is we eat so much fresh food now, it’s hard to pass off casseroles and stuff with the kids, but I think I can come up with some good stuff. Addie came to the meeting, too, to babysit in the nursery. We had a good time.

Wednesday Rich had scouts and Addie had a fun multi-ward activity in Bozeman where she had swing dance lessons and learned the jitterbug. Our ward scout leadership changed this week (Aaron Roberts got a new job in Billings but is staying in the ward, so he can’t scout master anymore), but Rich is still the 11-year old leader…Mister Constant, 7 years and counting. Since dad and the girls are usually gone Wednesday night, the boys and I have a tradition: they have baths, then we all snuggle on my bed and watch Nature and Nova. This week was really cool; we learned about animals and the houses the build and then about how they built the dome in Florence, Italy with brand new technology: herringbone-style brick laying.

Thursday we finished up Valentines preparations making sugar cookies and dipping cake pops (cake pops: delicious but disastrous; only half of them made it thru the dipping process cuz we made them a little too big). We also did some serious cleanup in preparation to host the Westenskow family over the weekend. They have been with us since Saturday morning for Jordyn Yarborough’s farewell and we have had a blast.

Friday Rich got up early and made us a full breakfast of heart-shaped waffles with cream and strawberries, eggs, and bacon. Then he handed out Valentines to all of us and we sent the kids off to school with their bags full of goodies for their friends. Niles, Maren, and I went up to the church for a little pre-schoolers/toddlers Valentines party in the gym. The kids had snacks and played and exchanged Valentines til noon. It was a fun outing. The big kids came home from school with tons of fun treats and cute Valentines for us. Rich saved our romantic date for Monday (tomorrow) when we celebrate our 13th anniversary on President’s Day.

Saturday we went to Jordyn Yarborough’s Mission Farewell Open House, then an hour later came back to the church for Curtis Denniston’s baptism. Both events were edifying and fun. We are so excited for Jordyn, me especially, since she is serving in the Arizona Tucson Mission.

 Today’s church meeting was just beautiful. The building was full with all the Denniston’s visitors and Jordyn’s visitors. Jordyn spoke, along with Robyn Tyner and Colton Carter—they all gave great talks. I led the choir in a beautiful number called “Here I Am.” I will include the lyrics since it really captures the missionary spirit we have been feeling lately. I am suffering from a little mission envy, knowing all the great experiences awaiting Jordyn and the Heaps and mom and dad. At the same time, I know I am on my own mission, raising my own little missionaries, sharing the gospel in a different way. It’s wonderful to be a part of it all, and to have the best companion to serve with!

HERE I AM  by Daniel Schute

I, the Lord of sea and sky, I have heard my people cry.
All who dwell in deepest sin my hand will save
I who made the stars of night I will make their darkness bright!
Who will bear my light to them? Whom shall I send?

CHORUS: Here I am, Lord! Is it I, Lord?
I have heard you calling in the night.
I will go, Lord, if you lead me.
I will hold your people in my heart.

I, the Lord of snow and rain, I have borne my people’s pain.
I have wept for love of them—they turn away.
I will break their hearts of stone; give them hearts for love alone.
I will give My Word to them. Whom shall I send?
[Repeat CHORUS]

I the Lord of wind and flame, I will tend the poor and lame.
I will set a feast for them, my hand will save.
Finest bread I will provide til their hearts be satisfied
I will give my life for them. Whom shall I send?
[Repeat CHORUS]

We hope you all have a great week. New Jersey Melins—good luck with all that snow! We got a foot today, but the sun was out in the late afternoon, so who knows what tomorrow holds? We love you all so much and are so grateful for a loving and faithful family on both sides. We feel so blessed and love these good times spent with family and friends. We look forward to hearing about all of you cousins soon! G and G Melin, you’re in our prayers and we loved our Valentines letters with all the visitors’ center stuff. You are going to have great experiences!

Happy Birthday to Sammy Post, Papa Post, and Owen Layton this week!

Love, Rich, Jamie, and Family

Heidi, Jared W, Lydia W., Hailey W., Jillian W, and Addie
at Jordyn's Open House photo booth.

Niles MUSTACHE you a question...

Making Valentine and eating brownies for FHE.

Sunday, February 09, 2014

Family Letter (a weekly feature, hopefully)

Dear Loved Ones:

We are going to try to follow the good examples of Elena and Mom Melin and write a weekly letter since I’m not the best blogger anymore. Perhaps I can use our facebook posts and photos as references. February is off to a good start for us, mostly.

Like most of the U.S. we have had extremely cold and snowy weather. Our lowest morning temp was on Wednesday the 5th, when we woke up to -29 degrees, which clocked in at -52 with the wind chill. Luckily we didn’t have much to do outside that day and Rich was out and about and able to bring the kids home from the bus stop. We are more grateful than ever for our warm house and our cozy fireplace. And I am more grateful than ever to be a stay-at-home- mom who rarely needs to leave the house.

Last month I started babysitting our friend Maria’s daughter, Maren. She will be one year old in May and is a very easy baby. I watch her from 8:30-3:45 M-F, and it’s working out pretty well. It has also been good practice for us—me for juggling two little ones again, and Niles for sharing Mom’s daytime attention. The only challenge is when the big kids need me after school, like if they’ve missed the bus or something—I have to have Rich’s help or they have to wait a half hour til Maren gets picked up. It will give us a little extra cash to finish some house projects and stock up for a new baby (and pay for his birth), as well as just having this sweet little friend...
Maren at her house

I blogged about last weekend—we had a nice cozy Saturday working around the house and playing in the snow, and even taking in a matinee of “The Book Thief.” Addie babysat for us and it was so nice. We are really starting to enjoy the benefits of having our very own Beehive in the house.  Even though we don’t really watch football, we invited some other lukewarm football fan families from our ward over to watch the Super Bowl, which turned out to be kind of a silly game. The Mexican finger foods potluck, on the other hand, was stellar. I was grateful to have felt good enough to do so many things is one day—church, food, socializing, clean-up—with a nap, of course--almost like a normal person! Rich was also a great help as usual, and had a good time with the other dads.

Most of us had a cold this week. Niles and I felt terrible on Tuesday and Wednesday. I have another sinus infection and can’t take anything but Tylenol and rinse like crazy. It got very painful, but a priesthood blessing Tuesday night helped me get some good sleep and start to heal. Niles got better, but started coughing yesterday, and so did James. As I type, they are wrestling like wild men while hacking like crazy. Silly boys. I have successfully weaned off escitalopram (SSRI for anxiety) –down from 20mg to 10 to 5, and this was my first week with none in 18 months. I have some dizzy spells and I can definitely feel some of my anxieties coming back (having to wash my feet, feeling claustrophobic when people snuggle me, etc), but I didn’t want to be taking it in my 3rd trimester since it has a small chance of causing fetal heart problems. My blood sugar is slowly climbing in spite of my low glycemic diet, so I will probably start insulin at my next appointment (2/19). The good news is I have gained a total of 1 pound so far this pregnancy, and the insulin will probably keep me right around that mark.

Rich, Addie, and Heidi have all been healthy and active. The heat at the office was finally up and running by the first of the month—FINALLY! Rich also got all of our storage units (including Kiwanis) clean and empty. We could have had another yard sale, lol! But we did find some treasures and get lots of art and photos hung on our new walls—FINALLY!

The girls are doing so great at school and at church. Addie made the honor roll in the newspaper, and Heidi just missed it (because she keeps not dressing out for PE and got a C). They both have great teachers. Addie was just made for the Young Women’s Program. She is loving having activities every week, being a counselor in her class presidency, learning the process of planning activities and setting goals and shepherding. She had her first BYC meeting last month and insisted on earning money to get a fancy planner to keep track of her increasingly busy life. She accepted a New Year’s challenge to read the Book of Mormon before conference and last I heard she was cruising toward Mosiah after being frustrated with Nephi’s Isaiah chapters (I told her she’s in good company ;)). Heidi’s Activity Days group has new leaders and girls in it and they have set some goals and she has refocused on her Faith in God goals. They are learning a lot about journals, record keeping, scriptures, and family history over the next few months. I get to talk to them about personal, family, Ward, and Stake histories next month as the Ward Historian. I look forward to it—they are such cute, fun girls. Heidi got to go to the Bozeman Symphony on Friday and came home excited about hearing movie themes from the symphony—Indiana Jones, Jurassic Park, Star Wars, etc. (are those all John Williams?)—and wanting to make music herself.

I am rambling, but it won’t be like this every week. This is a catch-up letter! In closing, here are our highlights from facebook this week:

MON FEB 5: Enough Said

WED 5 FEB: : My busy little chef and I cooked up some love yesterday! I am sick today so he went away to play while I rest (bless u, Naomi!) and I miss him!
FRI FEB 7: " Please don't take my sunshine away"
I think one of the worst times in life is the time between a cancer diagnosis and the staging/treatment plan. Loathsome.


[my best friend, Erin, was diagnosed with “probably stage 2” breast cancer on Thursday…heartbreaking!]

SUN FEB 9: Pobrecito has a fever and cough, but keeps saying, "Mama, I'm not sick!" He was sad to miss nursery today!

Life is good, the gospel is true and we love and miss you all! Have a great week!
Love, Jamie, Rich & Family

Sunday, February 02, 2014

Snow & SuperBowl

Well, February is off to a stellar start. Rich stayed home on Saturday and helped me get some house stuff done. We finally got our closet cleaned out and turned into a little nursery. The kids did their chores and frolicked in the fresh snow, and we went to a matinee of "The Book Thief", a movie I've been waiting to see since November (it was great, but of course the book is even better).
Peat and Repeat getting ready to play out in the snow Saturday afternoon.


James, Niles & Heidi in the back yard


My funny boys!

Snow Angel!
On Sunday evening, we had some friends over to watch the Super Bowl even though we are not real football fans. We had some delicious food (especially yummy on Fast Sunday!) and good visits, and the kids had a blast together. Most of our guests were rooting for the Seahawks whom we believed to be the underdogs...
The most popular game of the night was sliding down the stairs on bean bag chairs and/or jumping down the stairs on to bean bag chairs. (here are Brody and James sliding down toward Gavin).

Niles liked spinning in the office chair while Dad and our friend Mike watched the game.

Jessie, Carter, Baby Colton, Aaron, Naomi, and Matt with Kai in the
foreground watching the saddest football game ever.

In the playroom we had a special screening of "Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2."
Here is Ava holding up Matty with a Nerf gun.

Izzi and Addie took some quiet time in Ad's room to play "Would You Rather."
(PS: Izzi is going to play Young Eponine in the Shane Center's Les Miserables in March!)

I am grateful to be feeling better and to have time and space to catch up with good friends. We are so very blessed in so many ways, and tonight I felt that deeply. We also felt deep sympathy for all the Broncos fans out there. Dang.


Dear Loved Ones,                                                                                                                         1...