Sunday, November 02, 2014


Dear Loved Ones,                                              2 November 2014
I am still in awe that it is November and I have flowers in my garden! I get sad sometimes when I think about how much produce we would have grown this year without that one killing frost in September. I even heard people talking about that on the plane last week. The more time I can have sunshine and vitamin D and miss the hassle of bundling up kids and navigating slick roads, the better!

Monday 10/27 was seven loads of laundry and a fun Family Night. We had the Petry’s over for dinner (potato soup, bread, carrots), pumpkin carving, and they brought some amazing pumpkin ice cream. It was so fun. (PS: We did a little experiment with our jack-o-lanterns. I soaked 3 of them in the bath tub with a cup of bleach in the water, and left 3 out on the counter. The bleached ones stayed nice and firm and fresh while the unbleached ones were soft and molding by Halloween night…so give your pumpkins a bleach bath and they will last way longer!)
Izzi Petry carving her pumpkin

Some Halloween decorations...
I don't really like Halloween, but I try to be a sport for the kids' sakes.
I do love fall, pumpkins, and the like, and I love to find decorations that are
a little creepy and very cute. This silly jack-o-lantern figurine fits the bill;
 I bought it at the farm where my Brittany works in New Jersey. My cute girls made
the black cats at a YW activity.

Mike Petry, Rich, and Vicki Petry in the kitchen
carving pumpkins 10/27

Adie, Heidi, Ava, and James working on their jack-o-lanterns

Ava did an awesome job on her pumpkin all by herself!

Tuesday 10/28 I did more organizing, baking, sewing, etc. getting ready for Halloween and other holidays coming up. I made 4 dozen cupcakes, saw my visiting teachers, sewed some gifts and made a fez for Heidi’s Halloween costume. Rich had to go up to the church to supervise the Young Men setting up their spook alley for Wednesday Night’s Trunk-or-Treat, so he took James and Niles with him. Good thing, because that night was also James’ pack meeting and we would have totally missed it otherwise.
Wednesday 10/29 was obviously lots of preparing for the Trunk or Treat. Cody was super helpful and pitched in by making a yummy chili for the pre-Trunking dinner, along with some fabulous cornbread. I got the recipe from Erin last week and they both turned out great.  He has been so helpful around the house, but I know he wishes he were working. Please pray for him to find work soon. Addie was in charge of the Bean bag Toss, so I took her early to set up her room, and Rich got the little boys in their costumes and brought them up to the church for Halloween fun. There were TONS of visitors as well as a great turn out from our ward. The chili was amazing, and Melinda Lowe won the cook-off with her white chicken chili. It was hard to get the kids to bed after all those treats and excitement, but once they got to bed, they slept hard!
Tired Little Ammon /skeleton

Little Bea made the cutest little woodland fairy!

James with his crew: James/Ninja, William/cowboy, Elanor the Fair/ witch,
 Curtis/ Indiana Jones, Niles/Monster int eh background, and Kinnick/ Iron Man.

Izzi and Addie/ Molly Hooper in charge of the Bean Bag Toss
with Ashley Strupp, Nikki Robinson, and Heidi/Dr. Who

Ammon has been so snuggly lately...
Here he is nuzzling his daddy...Good night, sleepy boy!

Thursday 10/30 I sewed in the morning, then my friend Robyn came over for lunch with her 4-year-old twins, Rex and Bea. The twins play so nicely with Niles, they had so much fun. It was a beautiful, warm, sunny day, it felt like August, not the end of October. At 3pm we went and got all our other kids from school and let them hang out for an hour or so. When they left, we had tacos for dinner and enjoyed an evening at home. For some reason that night/next morning, Ammon decided to wake up at 3:20 am and squeal at is hands and whine about his teeth for almost 3 hours. I was SOOOO tired!
Vintage Halloween!

Friday 10/31 was Halloween and the first day of the second quarter of school. James won a Chico Pass for having perfect attendance during the first quarter. He also took cupcakes to school for his class’ Halloween Party, followed by the traditional Eastside School Costume Parade at 2:45pm. I was home napping with little boys, but Rich went and filmed Heidi and James in the parade. After school Addie stayed for the middle school Halloween Dance and I took the kids to Trick or Treat at the bank and Albertsons as well as taking treats to some of my visit-teachees. At 5:30 we met back at home for pizza with dad and Uncle Mike. Daddy took the big kids to Robin Lane, to the Kindalls, and to the Carters to trick or treat first (Colton Carter is expecting his mission call any day now and he wanted to have one last big Halloween celebration at home—he decorated everything so cute and gave out the candy to the kids—we are excited to hear where he is headed!). Then they went around the neighborhood with Uncle Mike. Our neighborhood is getting more popular with Trick or Treaters. The kids saw many of their friends, and ended up hanging out on the porch with the iPod playing Halloween songs and dancing with their friends. It was definitely a fun night, and so great to see Uncle Mikey!
Some of the winning pumpkins at the bank

James & Heidi trick or treating at the bank

James, Niles, and Heidi at the bank

Who's that Ninja boy?!

Watch out for those weapons!

Blurry action shot of James the Ninja
heading out to trick or treat

Baby skeleton stayed in after the bank and the grocery store.
He was tired and he hated wearing his costume...

But what a cute little Mr. Bones!
Ammon's first Halloween
(I kept thinking back to last year when I was so nauseated,
sitting by the front door eating pumpkin seeds, waiting for trick or treaters,
guzzling ice water, trying not to hurl while the kids were out
 trick or treating with Rich...and now the nausea is a wee skeleton!)

Oh, how I love this cheesy little Niles/Monster!
Niles and his pal Kenny Howell

11th Doctor and Molly, "Sherlocked Forever"

Molly and Monster
going trick or treating

Rich was a bottle of sriracha! Loved t!

 Saturday morning 11/1 I got up and gutted the mudroom while Rich finished building the bench and overhead cubbies for it. At 9:45 am I dropped of James to go to a Cub Scout archery activity in Bozeman while I went to play the piano for Ava Petry’s baptism. It was a nice service, short and sweet. When I came home, Rich was cleaning out the garage and organizing the shed. I helped with that a little, and then did some sewing projects and cleaning. Rich took the James and Niles out to the ranch while I took a nap with Ammon and the girls had a Netflix binge of “Supernatural.” Cody and I made some chicken stir fry for dinner, which was ready exactly when the boys got home. After dinner everybody had their baths and we watched “Captain America” while I got some stuff ready for church ('tis the season for compiling the ward history and the annual dvd slideshow).
...and I gave you the good genes, so I'll take the Snickers, too!
Rub-a-dub-dub, three boys in a tub
Saturday Night Bathtime! 11/1

 Today (Sunday) was a lovely fall day. It was cold and windy, but we are due for that. Testimony meeting was sweet and so were our naps. Poor Ammon is having some sort of teething/intestinal infarction so it took us a while to get to sleep, both last night and at nap time. We sure are grateful for that hour we gained over night! The kids wrote missionary letters this afternoon so I will get those in the mail to Grandma and Grandpa and Sister Jordy this week. Hope you all had a fun Halloween and we wish you a wonderful week.

Maeby + James = Cousin Pals (2011)

Happy 8th Birthday to our cutie niece Maeby tomorrow and to Aunt Angie on Friday! We love you all so much.

Love Rich, Jamie, and Family

Monday, October 27, 2014


Dear Loved Ones                                         26 October 2014

It’s a crazy birthday week –Happy Birthday to Aunt Jill yesterday, Uncle Willy today, Cousin Emily tomorrow, and Uncle Jess and Uncle Michael on Tuesday! Wow. Hope you guys are enjoying a long extended fall like we are here. It has been by far the most beautiful October of my whole life.

 I’m going to diverge from my journal format a bit since I am just home from a lovely trip and haven’t kept good daily tabs on what’s happening around here. My last letter was on October 12th and that next week was mostly spent getting ready for my trip. I tried to stock the pantry, finish all the laundry, pack, have fun with kids on Fall Break, and quell my anxiety about flying cross country with a baby on my lap. Richard was so helpful getting me ready to go and coaching me through my worries about leaving. He even got up at 2:30 am and drove me to Butte to catch a plane!
On the first day of fall break (10/16) Addie made Lembas bread.

I snuggled James to sleep the night before I left.

 I flew to New Jersey on Friday 10/17 with Ammon. We left Butte at 6am and flew to Salt Lake City, then left SLC at 11am and arrived at the Newark airport at 5pm local time. Uncle Mark Melin picked up Ammon and me at 6pm and we battled traffic to arrive at his house at McGuire AFB at 7:30pm. Elena had made some delicious soup and bread for dinner and we had a good visit with the kids before they headed off to bed. Mark then drove me across base to Ft. Dix where my dear friend Erin and her family live (her husband is an Air Force dentist). Heidi Buchert Egan and her daughter Maggie also came down from Seneca Falls for the weekend, so it was a most joyful reunion! We visited for a while then hit the hay.
This is what Ammon thinks about TSA screening.

Ammon asleep at Newark waiting for Uncle Mark
Mark Ammon Melin with Ammon Melin 10/17

Ammon's face in this picture kills me

Ammon taking a ride with Uncle Mark

Erin's 4 Kids with 1 of Heidi's 5: Eliza, Brittany, Brandon, Maggie, and Tarah

 Saturday 10/18 was roommate reunion day. We got up and ate a big yummy breakfast with everybody and enjoyed a lazy morning getting ready for the day. Erin arranged for the big kids to babysit Ammon while she took Heidi and me to get pedicures and a delicious local late lunch (what do the Hobbits call a 3pm meal?). We took Brittany to her job at a cute farm that has all the fun harvest stuff.  We stopped in to look around and enjoyed delicious apple cake donuts and I bought a cute-creepy Halloween figurine as a souvenir. Then we were off to get our feet done in Mt. Laurel—ahh, relaxing! After that, we went to John & Molly’s, a very local pub and restaurant. I wish I had been brave and chosen something really local like clams, but I just had a huge, delicious chicken and cranberry salad. Heidi has an amazing French onion soup I had a taste of, but I can’t remember what Erin had. We had such a happy, long visit over this meal, it was so nice. While we were there, James called me to tell me that he and Rich had gone out selling Boy Scout popcorn and he had sold almost $500 worth. I love seeing my little cub scout being gung ho about his goals.
We Three at the Farm

My Toes

Heidi and Erin getting their toes done

  We had a quiet evening of talking and passing around the baby at Erin’s that night. We went to sacrament meeting at Erin’s ward where her husband Rhett is the bishop. Elena and the NJ Melin kids were there, too, practicing for their Primary Program this week. After Sacrament meeting, Heidi and Maggie headed home to New York and I went home with Erin to nap with Ammon. It was the beginning of a very restful and edifying week. I mostly just hung out with Erin, and visited the Marlenas again on Wednesday 10/21. Erin is still doing radiation so she feels tired and burned, but she is an amazing, resilient, strong patient. I am so grateful Heavenly Father let us keep her for a while! I learned so much from Heidi and Erin during my visit. They both have wonderful families and haven been through so much since our last visit (a whole house fire for Heidi and stage 3 breast cancer for Erin, among other things) and it’s so good to learn from their testimonies and examples. Heidi mentioned after sacrament meeting that our reunion felt like that of Alma and the sons of Mosiah and I concur!

And now it came to pass that as Alma was journeying from the land of Gideon southward, away to the land of Manti, behold, to his astonishment, he met with the sons of Mosiah journeying towards the land of Zarahemla. Now these sons of Mosiah were with Alma at the time the angel first appeared unto him; therefore Alma did rejoice exceedingly to see his brethren; and what added more to his joy, they were still his brethren in the Lord; yea, and they had waxed strong in the knowledge of the truth; for they were men of a sound understanding and they had searched the scriptures diligently, that they might know the word of God.”

Just reading that scripture brings tears to my eyes because I feel so blessed to have these amazing women in my life. We had no idea at the time, but Heavenly Father wrought a marvelous work and a wonder in our lives that year and from there, we took off on the paths that have led us to our happy lives today. I am so grateful to have these sisters from other misters, with whom I can still laugh like I’m 22, with whom I share the craziest memories, and who are my touchstones that show me how far we have come.
Jamie, Erin, and Heidi in Provo 20 years ago
(note the time stamp: 10/24/94)

Jamie, Erin, and Heidi now (10/19/14)

Red, White, and Blue Toes

 Anyhooo…Ammon and I headed home from Newark on Friday night (10/24). Richard and the kids did a great job getting to all their commitments and keeping the house in order. Rich got the water damage on our kitchen floor fixed, cleaned our shower, kept the kids alive and happy, and even did some laundry,  so I felt no regrets about leaving. While I was gone, Addie won another Percy Jackson book at the library, so she has all of them now. Heidi went to Activity Days and decorated a cute pumpkin. They are all very excited about Halloween and have their costumes ready to go. Addie is dressing as Molly Hooper from BBC Sherlock; Heidi is dressing as Dr. Who, James as a ninja, Niles as a monster, and Ammon as a skeleton. We are carving our pumpkins for Family Night, so I am going to get them all cleaned out and roast the seeds during the day Monday…yum!

 I feel like the holidays are coming so fast, I need to get a handle on things around here! Can’t believe next week is NOVEMBER! Cousin Maeby Post will turn 8 next Monday, then we have a zillion Melin/Gray girls’ birthdays in November, plus Thanksgiving and Christmas preparations. I guess I’d better get up from the computer and get on it!  Have a great week loved ones!

 Love, Rich and Jamie and Family

Wednesday afternoon 10/21 I went to visit Elena and the kids.
I brought them candy legos left over from James' Birthday party and they loved them!
Here are Jared ad Samantha building away!

My darling niece Sariah with her friend Abby heading out to Activity Days.
I love the clean lines and simplicity of rustic colonial American stuff.
These are some decorations from The Cock & Bull Restaurant/Tavern
 at Peddler's Village, PA

We went to this cute bakery for a chocolate croissant.
I thought my girls would love that owl cake!

I bought a knit winter hat and some earrings at this hat shop
in Peddler's Village. Erin has some hats from here that kept
her head warm during chemo.

Water Wheel at Peddler's Village

There were dozens of scarecrows on display at Peddler's Village.
We liked this one wearing the Helmet of Salvation, the shield of faith,
wielding the Sword of the Spirit, etc.,  vanquishing the devil pumpkin.
To get to Peddler's Village, we had to cross the Delaware River
 from New Jersey to Pennsylvania. We crossed the same place General
Washington did. It's a really lovely river.

The Delaware River
The famous painting of Washington on a tavern there on the banks
of the river.

Mushroom forest on Ft. Dix
Found my name on  bottle of coke FINALLY...
at Newark Airport!

Saw my SIL Amie's Mom Cynthia working at the SLC Airport when I changed planes.
First Officer Hillard is responsible for this, the best photo bomb ever.

Rich made this amazing bench from a
Head and Foot board of a bed for my mom.

Facebook postcard of the week...
love this one!

Monday, October 13, 2014


Dear Loved Ones,                                           12 October 2014
I wish there were words to express how edifying and uplifting the past two weeks have been. Certainly from Women’s Conference on 9/27, to General Conference last weekend, and a joyful Sabbath today, we have received so much strength and vision. But we’ve also enjoyed happy times with family and friends, beautiful weather, productivity, opportunities to serve, all adding to sense of hope and well-being in spite of the chaos and tragedy happening around the world.
Monday 9/29 was back to the grind. I did laundry and made potato salad for dinner with the Elders. We had a summer BBQ dinner with burgers and salads, then they taught our FHE lesson about the power of the Book of Mormon and challenged the whole family to read ad gain or strengthen our testimonies of the book. Addie and I went to Community Choir and then got hot cocoa at McD’s and worked on her math homework. Turns out I am no help when it comes to positive and negative integers and practicing the order of operations (thank heaven for the Khan Academy app!).
Tuesday 9/30 was Rich’s last Scout Training day so it was just me and the kiddos at home. Addie had a he project to work on, so I couldn’t attend James’ first Pack meeting, which made me sad. He had a great time and is always working on his scout book. Wednesday was Activity Days, and YM/YW, so I just had James, Niles and Ammon at home. They went to sleep so nicely, I continued some sewing projects. Addie got her Personal Progress all updated—she is doing awesome! Heidi is falling in love with church basketball.
That weekend we were so happy to have the Postum cousins with us from Helena. Amie was doing her doula training and certification in Bozeman, so Matt brought the kids over on Friday after lunch. He and Amie brought a yummy dinner of enchiladas, beans and rice. Amie got home from her class at 6pm and we ate and watched old home videos from their wedding and watched the kids play together. It was a perfect family night. Saturday morning we had a smorgasbord of cereals and fruits and watched general conference. The weather was so beautiful; we took lots of walks and trampoline breaks. We had a sandwich bar for lunch and leftovers for dinner. Rich, Matt, and Cody went to priesthood meeting while Amie and I took care of kids and watched “Hook.” Sunday morning, Rich went all out on a big breakfast—YUM! We were nice and full when Music & the Spoken Word came on at 9:30 and we settled in for another day of conference (I collected notes/comments from everyone, which I will put in another document). We had chicken noodle soup and cheddar bay biscuits for dinner and sang Happy Birthday to Uncle Sam via facebook. The Postums packed up and went home after dinner. Cody also had Zecklin here for the weekend, so Matt and Amie took him back to his mom in Helena. It was good cousin fun for everyone.
Watching conference during our favorite Elder Klebingat:
Addie, Ammon, Zecklin, Cody, Matt's knee and Rich's knee.

Conference Babies! Ammon & Zeck

Emily and Niles going on a nature walk
between Sunday sessions
Niles and Emily collecting wildflowers for their nature bags.
Sunday afternoon lego aftermath
Beautiful chaos!
 This past week we enjoyed more amazing weather. This Indian Summer is spoiling us!  I did TONS of laundry Monday and started organizing all the choir stuff for my “church job” as music chair/choir director. The last quarter of the year is my busy season, since the ward history is due at the New Year (I’m the historian, too), and everyone one loves music during the holidays. I found so much great music for the holidays, including an amazing piano/flute/soprano solo that is a medley of “For the Beauty of the Earth” and a Bach piece. I am so excited to start practicing Christmas music when I get home from my trip! Speaking of choir, the girls and I went to Community Choir, but they went to a cool honors choir concert at the high school for the first hour. I love doing music with them!
Tuesday was our first night home together as a family in a long time, so we did a project after dinner. We cleaned and organized the play room and donated two trash bags full of toys. The room looked great when we finished and it was nice to work together! Wednesday Heidi joined Addie for a fun beehive activity where they painted these cute wooden black cats for Halloween decorations. Rich and his scouts came up with a wonderful fundraising idea. After taking inventory of all his scout stuff, Rich realized that they really don’t have the camping gear they should have and he has been filling in with his own equipment for years. So he proposed to the bishopric that the troop purchase a small trailer and stock it with camping gear. They composed a really nice fundraising letter for local businesses (many of which are run by troop 524 alumni) and have already received several commitments. I am so excited that Rich has this calling—it has been fun to see inspiration and ideas come to him since he was set apart. I believe he will work wonders for the troop and bless the lives of the deacons in his group.
Thursday 10/9 sweet little Ammon finally had his 4 month check-up—the day before he turned 5 months. He had three shots and two of them made little injection site reactions on his right leg. He was pretty sad and whiny on Thursday and Friday, so I just took those two days to love on him. He is doing great, super healthy and happy and developing well. He is 17lbs 12 oz and 27” long…average for a 10 month old (no wonder my back hurts!) I sure feel blessed to be his mama!
Saturday 10/11 Terry Carter and I hosted a belated Bridal shower for Stephanie Larson O’Dell (Mom & Dad, so you know Carol O’Dell? She is Steph’s new mother in law and she was the life of the party, I tell ya!). It was a cozy, overcast day and the party was over lunch time. We had a fall theme (“Fall in Love”) with comfort food for lunch, like my chicken noodle soup and mini-dutch apple pies, Terry’s wheat rolls and pumpkin bars, and hot apple cider. I really enjoyed it. Afterward, I took a nap with Ammon while Rich went out to the ranch to check on things and do some wood work. Later, I took the kids out to roast hot dogs, brats, and s’mores with the Jones Family.  There just are no words for the beauty of the fiery trees, the river, the mountains, the beautiful sunset, and 13 gorgeous children at play, having a ball. Of course, we love spending time with Robyn and Lope, so it was an all-around wonderful night. We are doing our best to savor this breathtaking season.
Today’s church meeting was absolutely wonderful from start to finish. We got a new Young Women’s presidency: Lynn Moore as president, Robyn Tyner 1st counselor, Bonnie Speas 2nd counselor, and Jenn Claar secretary, with Lynette Kapp as advisor/ Personal Progress leader. The Elders Quorum Presidency gave inspired talks in Sacrament meeting about being Christlike in our family relationships. The talks were a perfect blend of doctrine and personal testimony. I just love Ryan Speas; he will do a great job as Elders Quorum President. Relief Society lesson was so excellent, about Loving all of God’s Children. Such a good discussion and so many great quotes in that lesson! Here’s just one I loved: “…Through the aid of the Holy Ghost, it is possible for us to stand united together seeing eye to eye and overcoming our sins and imperfections. If we will do this, respecting all the commandments of the Lord, we shall be a power in the world for good; we shall overwhelm and overcome all evil, all opposition to the truth, and bring to pass righteousness upon the face of the earth.” I love that thought! Reminds me of the Christina Rossetti Christmas Poem:
 Love came down at Christmas,
Love all lovely, Love Divine,
Love was born at Christmas,
Star and Angels gave the sign.

Worship we the Godhead,
Love Incarnate, Love Divine,
Worship we our Jesus,
But wherewith for sacred sign?

Love shall be our token,
Love be yours and love be mine,
Love to God and all men,
Love for plea and gift and sign.

LOVE shall be our token! By this shall all men know we are HIS disciples.
So our love goes out to you! We are so grateful that our sweet niece Sariah is home from the hospital with a diagnosis and effective medication for ventricular tachycardia. Our prayers are with her for a strong heart and inspired doctors. We wish you all a happy week with lots of Indian Summer sun!


Love, Rich and Jamie and Family
PS: From Facebook this week...
I watched this CES talk on Wednesday night...loved it!

Throwback Thursday: My little Pumpkins, October 9, 2009

Retirement Plan!

A Favorite Quote from Women's Conference



Dear Loved Ones                                                                                                                            ...