Sunday, August 31, 2014


Dear Loved Ones                        31 August 2014


I hope we are getting back to weekly letters now that we are back on school schedule. This week was a blur of school preparations.

Monday we went to Sacajawea Park and read books (Me- Stitches by Anne Lamott, Girls-The Hobbit) while the boys played in the sandbox. It was the most gloriously perfect day after a week of rain. I’m sure it was a bit nippy for some people at 68 degrees, but that’s the only kind of sunny day I like! It reminded me of spring because everything was so cool and so vivid from the rain. That night we went to the Eastside School Open House and met James’ and Heidi’s teachers.  James will be in Mrs. Fink’s class with his friend Curtis from church. Heidi will be in Ms. Gillespie’s 5th grade, which is the class Addie was in. There is potential for a very fun year. After the open house, Daddy took us to Pickle Barrel for dinner. We haven’t been there for a long time and we had the place to ourselves.

Tuesday we just did chores around the house and cleaned and organized the kids’ dressers. That night the missionaries came to dinner. We were excited to try out a new recipe we got for grilled chicken gyros and they were delicious. We ate them with hummus and veggies and had our traditional missionary dessert, s’mores. The Elders left for an appointment and we had Family Night and Father’s blessings. We reviewed last year’s theme (“Try a little harder to be a little better”) and reviewed the goals we had set. Everyone did a pretty good job and we moved on to this year’s theme, “We’re all in this together.” We are going to try to be more unified and willing to help and ask for help when we need it (instead of getting frustrated or fighting).

Wednesday was the big day—Heidi & James went to their first day of school. They were so excited; they were up and dressed when we went downstairs to wake them.  Addie was home that day (middle school had delayed start), so we went to Bozeman to but some last minute supplies and locker organizers. That night the Young Women and Young Men had a combined activity. They went to the water hill and went ice blocking. Addie made some yummy brownies for treats. At home the boys had baths and snuggles and watched Super Why.

Thursday Addie’s first day of 7th grade. She is so excited to have Mr. Petit for biology and choir with Mrs. Curtis. I helped her crimp her hair and sent her off with the other kids and daddy. I continued to work on laundry and dresser organizing—the kids grow so fast, it’s hard to keep their wardrobes up to date! I took some pictures of the little boys playing so cute down in the basement family room while I folded and mended clothes.

Friday morning after the big kids left for school we had a home visit from Niles’ preschool. We met his teachers and set some goals for the year and they spent some time talking to him and getting to know his preferences and personality. He will have the same teacher as Heidi had, so she is well aware of what she is getting in to. We made pizza for dinner and got ready for Daddy’s back packing trip with the big kids.

 Saturday morning Rich and the kids left early to meet up with Uncle Mike in Bozeman and head up in to the mountains on their back packing trip. It was cool and rainy, so it wasn’t the most fun trip, but judging by the photos they had an awesome time together. I stayed home with the little boys. We went to The Museum of the Rockies and it was so fun for Niles to be able to decide how we spent our time. Usually we go as a family and he doesn’t get to do all the things he wants to do. We played the “Build You Own Gecko” computer game and dress-up in the Discovery Room for hours. It was relaxing and fun on a rainy Saturday. We also picked up some stuff at Costco and got dinner (salads) at Wendy’s. I was a little anxious because I had so much to do in the evening (organize my gospel doctrine lesson, finish laundry, make crockpot dinner, etc.) and the boys were NOT falling asleep. I prayed so hard that God would bless me to use my time wisely and do what needed to be done.

My personal grooming suffered (as usual), but I got all the needful things done—James’ baptism invitations, led the choir, taught Sunday School, made stew and bread— and we had a beautiful Sabbath Day. The back packers came home after church and got cleaned up and dry and fed and we all took a nice nap. Tonight we are having a Hobbit Fest. Addie and Heidi read the book this summer and they are obsessed, so we are watching the first and second Hobbit movies tonight and having a “birthday party” (cake) for our house—one year ago today we moved in!

I’m attaching a page of quotes we used today in Sunday school. Our lesson was about Proverbs and Ecclesiastes, so we discussed a few themes in those two books (wisdom, child rearing, trusting god, etc). One major theme was friendship and I found so many good thoughts on the subject. When we think of our family as our closest friends and treat them with charity, and let that love ripple out from home to our church families and communities, we change the world.

We love you and miss you all. We are getting into birthday mode this week preparing for James’ birthday and baptism. Please send us your thoughts/ greetings/ testimonies for him this week. Thanks for the fun letters, Grandpa and Grandma Melin and New Jersey Melins, and for the chats from Sam, Jill, Grandma Lyn, and mom this week.  It’s so good to know how you’re doing. Have a great week! Happy Anniversary tomorrow to Grandpa & Grandma Melin (#48) and to Sara and Rob (#13)!


Rich, Jamie, and Family
Wednesday Morning-First Day of School for James and Heidi
Heidi lookin' sassy in 5th grade

James saying goodbye to Ammon on the first day of school

Rub-a-dub-dub, Three Men in a Tub! Wednesday Night Baths

Ice Blocking Youth Activity
Addie sliding with Clara Jones and Kurt Mills

"Dream on, Dreamer!"

Addie on her first day of school

Ammon and Niles playing downstairs on Thursday

Growing up too fast!

Cute Brother-Pals

Heidi and Ammon during family prayer time Thursday night

James wearing Ammon on Friday night
These pictures ore from Rich on the Back Packing Trip
Our wild hunter boy

Hyalite Lake
(This is where the girls go to camp)

Hiking in the rain

Addie, Heidi, Uncle Mike, and James at Grotto Falls

Uncle Mike setting up camp

Cookin dinner like a boss

Minestrone and biscuits in the rain!

The girls with Uncle Mike eating soup.

Heidi with our traditional camping jiffy pop!

Playing cards and eating jiffy pop in the tent in the rain

Sunday morning hike-Mike, James, Heidi, and Addie

Sunday Hike

Wild Campers Selfie: Rich, Addie, James, Heidi, and Uncle Mike

Happy Campers :)



Back at the trail head, heading home to get warm and dry Sunday Afternoon
This is a facebook postcard I thought was hilarious.
I posted it with the caption, "On a T-shirt for family gatherings?"

In honor of James' 8th Birthday...James and me
on Mother's Day when he was almost 5.

Four-month old Sweet Baby James

Sunday, August 24, 2014


Dear Loved Ones,                                     24 August 2014

Happy Birthday, Aunt Audrey! We are celebrating tonight with our annual Stake Women’s Meeting. I am so excited Addie got to go with me this year. We’ve got a whole month of stories to catch up on, so here we go with our favorite highlights from a month that FLEW by!
Monday, August 4t,h was an epic family night out at the ranch. Kelli’s brothers and mom were visiting with their families, so we had a massive BBQ and dance party at the pavilion. It was so much fun to see the kids going crazy and sharing cousin dance moves. “Gangnam Style” and “Everything Is Awesome” and “Roar” were three of the kids’ favorite songs that got played several times. As for the grown-ups…we can still rock “The Macarena.”

We finally got some good rain that week, and Livingston hosted the International Fly Fishers’ Convention, opening with a downtown “Hoot” on August 7th, where there was dancing and dining and fun all over Main Street.  John Mayer even showed up to play some songs for the crowd.

On Saturday, August 9th, Rich got up early to take the scouts on a 7 mile hike around the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. They met some fun European tourists on the trail who joined them for their hike. One couple from south western Germany were exploring mushrooms—the husband had written a book on the mushrooms of the Black Forest.  Rich LOVED it, and the scouts learned a lot, too. I told Rich we should make them special little mushroom merit badges. Rich said he called the guy “Mushroom Man” and Mushroom Man called Rich “Wurzburger.” I was at home that day hosting an essential oils class given by Kim Triplett and Linda Larson. Thus far I have avoided the oils craze. I have used certain oils for headaches and stress since I was a teenager, but Kim had a compelling tale so we invited people over to learn more. Kim has basically had two sleepless years with her little kids, then she tried some calming oils on their feet before bed and they finally slept through the night for the first time. I tried a sample after the party and Ammon and Niles slept deeper and longer than usual, so I think they are effective. I’m excited for Kim’s new venture—the class was fun and my house smelled so good!

August 10th was Ammon’s 3 month birthday—he is getting so big, sweeter than ever! I don’t know how much he weighs, but it’s well over 15 pounds. He is such a sunshine! After church that Sunday we took naps then had tostada night with the Jelli Melins, the Missionaries, The Felkins family, and the Triplett family. It was so nice to spend a little more time just hanging out with all of them, and the food was great!

We had planned to spend the week days playing with cousins at the ranch, but Sunday Simon was sick with the barfs, then Monday Summer and TJay were sick, then overnight Tuesday everyone in our family except Rich was sick, so no cousin fun for us! Luckily we were mostly recovered in time for TJay’s 12th Birthday party at the ranch on Wednesday, August 13th. The 11 year old scouts, Uncle Mike and his friend Micki, Ad’s friend Izzi and our two families had a taco dinner then went down to the pavilion for s’mores and another dance party. This time, Kelli had stocked up on a zillion glow sticks, so the dance party was especially magical under a full moon!

Thursday 8/14 we packed and cleaned and had a farewell bowling and pizza party with our Jelli cousins…it was so fun to spend 7 weeks with them!  Then on 8/15 (Happy Birthday to Nana!) we drove down to Utah and stayed over at Layton’s house in Tooele. Kristen made us a delicious dinner and Sam took the kids on tractor rides in his backyard. Cousin Owen was super excited to show us his favorite Star Wars movie, and play the theme song on the keyboard (he learned it at piano lessons). We had such a nice visit, then a sleep over and breakfast, then we headed south to Nana’s in Herriman after a quick stop at Ikea. We swam with Nana and Aunt Sara and her kids visiting from Michigan. It was so much fun.  We had dinner at CafĂ© Rio with Laytons then headed over to sleep over with our Peterson cousins at Uncle Drew’s house in Lehi.

In the morning (Sunday, August 17th) we had church, then a big family birthday dinner/ celebration at Nana’s clubhouse. We celebrated Cousin Melanie’s 16th birthday, Cousin Brady’s 10th birthday, plus Nana’s, Papa’s, and Aunt Audrey’s birthdays in August. Great Uncle Matt came down from Logan to join in the fun and we introduced him to pani-popo. I think he ate a dozen rolls! My cousin Brent and his family also came, and I finally got to meet his sweet baby girl, Ruby. In all the regular family-gathering-craziness, it was so very sweet to see the family bonds, the pure joy of being together between three generations of family. Hooray for cousins!

After another night at Petersens, we took the girls school shopping Monday morning, then took the little boys down to Provo in the afternoon (while the big kids stayed and played with cousins). We had a sweet visit with the Bucherts and got all kinds of good news (Ma & Pa Buchert celebrate their 50th anniversary in November; after 24 years of marriage, Rob & Georgia become parents this month!). We also got a good look around our ever-changing old neighborhood. Our first house is now just 5 blocks from the new temple, and the old park has a new playground and splash pad. Progress! We hurried back across the valley to pick up the girls and head out to Herriman to have dinner at Cousin Brent’s new house. We had a delightful, delicious, edifying-in-every-way dinner with Mayberrys, then went to Nana’s house to say good bye. “Uncle” Matt Stoker (Rich’s roommate from BYUH) met us there for a short visit and the kids LOVED HIM (He took them to Maverik and let them blast music in his truck—what’s not to love?!). We had one last sleep over with Petersens, saw them off on their first day of school, then hit the road for home on Tuesday, August 19th.

We got right back in the saddle on Wednesday, August 20th. Rich went to work and I took all 3 kids to get registered for school. We cleaned up and unpacked from our trip, then took a nap and woke up to a big thunder storm! That night we had scouts and Young Women and Activity Days. Addie got yet another recommend for a temple trip this week.
Friday night we had another ward dinner, then Saturday morning, Rich and Addie went with our ward youth to do baptisms at the Billings Temple. There were 20 kids this time and many of them, including Addie, had their own family names. It is so wonderful to see the work actually hastening in our own ward on all fronts! I feel so blessed to be a part of it and so grateful and humbled by what lies ahead for our kids. Addie had so much fun riding home with the two Jones girls in our car, she brought them home to hang out and watch Dr. Who after the temple trip. Turns out they are “Whovians,” too, and they are also into The Hobbit like Addie is, so she is loving having new friends in the ward (they have FIVE daughters and one son, and they match up to our kids pretty perfectly). We also spent time with these girls after the women’s conference tonight and they introduced Addie to their Bozeman friends. It’s so fun to watch her connecting with other people; I am excited to watch this exciting part of her life unfold (I’m tearing up just thinking about it)—Heidi’s , too. Our conference was beautiful—the theme was “Champion: the defender of a person or a cause,” about how Christ is the ultimate champion of women—are we His? Lots of inspiring and encouraging messages.

Rich was sustained as the new Scoutmaster and 2nd counselor in the Young Men’s Presidency today. As I told the bishopric when they asked if I would support him, there is no one I would rather have leading and influencing the boys my girls will be hanging out with. He is so knowledgeable and patient with the boys, I don’t know if he will ever NOT be in scouts. At any rate, I am excited to support him in this—he gets to camp every month and I get to stay home—Win-Win! ;)
We are so dang excited for school to start! Heidi and James start on Wednesday 8/27, Addie starts 8/28, and Niles starts 9/8. We will miss having Grandpa and Grandma over for our Back to School dinner and theme party and having Grandpa assist Daddy in back to school father’s blessings. Next week we will let you know how it went and what we chose for our theme for the year. To all our cousins starting school, we wish you luck and blessings and courage to do and be your best!

Til next week, ALL OUR LOVE…

Rich, Jamie, and Family
PS: Happy Birthday to Papa Drews, Cousin Simon, and Cousin Brady this week!
Happy Birthday today to Elder Eric Holm in Albania!!


August Photos

These photos accompany the stories in our
08.24.14 Family Letter...
Dr. Niles giving Uncle Jess a shot 08.02

Dr. Niles checking Uncle Jess' heartbeat 08.02
August 4th Family Dance!
Niles dancin'

Lexi dancin'
James, Jess, Kelli, TJay and Addie in the background

Addie and Me dancin'

Addie, Me, Lexi, and James

"Everything is AWESOME" when you're dancin' with
your family at the ranch!

Niles break dancin' Gangnam Style

08.03.14: Niles in shades
At the trailhead


Our 11yo Scout Troop plus their new European Tourist Friends

Wurzburger and Mushroom Man
Cousin Fun at the Ranch
Simon and Niles

Simon and Niles with dump trucks full of ice cream

Silly Matthew

08.10.14: Patti Blake sent us this picture of Niles
 and Owen Triplett in nursery at church

08.10.14: AMMON is 3 MONTHS OLD!

Sweet Happy Face

Such a cute cry face!

Niles and Daddy 08.12.14
08.13.14-TJAY's 12th BIRTHDAY at THE RANCH

Gorgeous Rainbow after a nice rain storm

Niles and Simon, always with the dump trucks

James ready to boogie

Summer all a-glow!

Summer, Addie, and TJay at TJay's Glow Dance Party--SO FUN!

Uncle Mike and Niles

Simon and Niles with bowling balls in their shirts

Mamas (Kelli and Me) making pizza in our kitchen

Simon, Heidi, Niles, Summer, Lexi, James, Addie holding Ammon, TJay and Matthew

Farewell, Crazy Cousins!

A Gaggle of Silly Geese

A fine farewell sunset  at our house 08.14.14
More Cousin Fun in UTAH!
08.15.14: Niles playing with Gavin's toys in Layton's backyard

Ammon stretching out after a long day in the carseat

James and Uncle Sam

Niles and Uncle Sam

The Great Salt Lake from Layton's back yard

A panoramic of the sunset over the Great Salt Lake
from the end of Layton's street 08.15.14

08.16.14- Niles and Ammon in Papa Bill's chair

Heidi and Owen photo bomb!

Heidi and Addie found piggies at IKEA

Nana, Cooper and Heidi--SWIMMING at Nana's

Niles and Kaylee

Cooper, Heidi, Nana, Niles, James, Kaylee, and Brady swimming with Nana

Aunt Abby with Ammon

Addie with Ammon t Petersens

Ammy on Sunday morning at Petersens

Niles learning to catch a football 08.17.14
Family Birthday Dinner

Uncle Drew teaching Niles to catch

Go, Niles!

Ally, Niles, and Addie

Heidi, Belle, and Cooper

James and Jack

Isabelle, Addie, Ally, and Liam

BAM! Photobomb by it!

Birthday cake!
Heidi, Nana, Owen, Brady, Spencer, Gavin, Kaylee, Melanie
and all the cousins gather to sing to Brady & Melanie

Ben and Niles, two peas in a pod!

Teenaged Cousin Conference:
Melanie, Marshall, Abby, Belle, Liam, Ally, and Addie

Grandkids with Nana and Papa Drews:
Gavin, Raef, Maeby, Brady, Melanie, Kaylee, Liam, Owen, Nana with Ammon
Belle, Cooper, Addie, Papa with Ben, James, Ally with Niles, Spencer, Jack and Heidi.


Nana & Papa with Kids and Grandkids:
Standing-Audrey, Kristen, Sara, Melanie with Maeby, Liam, Isabelle, Sam, Willy, Addie, Rich, Spencer, Jill, Niles, Drew, Jack, Jamie, and Heidi; sitting-Owen, Raef, Cooper, Brady, Kaylee, Nana with Ammon, Papa with Gavin, Ben, Ally and James.

Heidi, James, Owen, Jack, Kaylee, and Gavin with treat bags from Nana

After-dinner dancing at Nana's

Gavin, Nana, Niles (on the floor), Owen, Kaylee, Papa, and Ben
Monday Night Dinner with Mayberrys
Addie with Ruby, James, Me and Ammon at Mayberry's

Addie and Ruby

Niles and Henry wouldn't stop digging out front

Ruby tackling James

Niles with Henry's ukelele

Heidi with Ruby, Henry, Addie with Ammon, James, Miles, and Niles...
Two cousins turned into a gang of 12!

Autumn, Brent, Me and Rich...Best Cousin Pals Forever!
08.19.14: Home Again, Home Again, Jiggity-Jig!
Uncle Drew gave James this Lego set as an early birthday gift,
and what do you think he did first thing when we got home?

Niles and James with the finished Coast Guard Helicopter
***Some Stuff From Facebook**

Throwback Thursday photo of me with Great Grandma Jayne, 1971

Baby Me, 3 months old, December 1971
I thought it was fun to see a little of myself in my babies, even though they are mostly Melin ;)

Totally feeling this lately...I sure do love my nieces and nephews!


Dear Loved Ones,                                                                                                                         1...