Sunday, March 19, 2017

Dear Kids,
          Monica and Neil and Jackson flew into Salt Lake yesterday, and they came by Donna’s house to pick up camping gear so they could head south. Dad happened to be there helping Donna install a faucet, so he got to see them, and he took a picture of himself with Jackson. The rest of us will see them next Saturday, at the party at John and Heather’s. It starts at 3:00, and if you don’t have a food assignment yet, call Heather. It’s going to be great fun, like always, whenever we get together!
          Dad and I drove to Pocatello Tuesday afternoon so I could go to Vanessa’s book club. They were discussing War and Peace. They’ve been meeting for ten years now, and they only read classics. (How I wish there were a group like that here in Kamas Valley! I put a suggestion on facebook a couple of years ago, and didn’t get a single response!) The discussion was great! I wish I could go every month. Dad and I stayed over, and had a good visit with Vanessa’s family. We were dizzy at their comings and goings, though. Sterling had drivers ed. Sarah had volleyball. Macie had dance. Vanessa had just come back from the temple, and she had an appointment to get her eyebrows waxed, so I went along to watch. It was fascinating. Vanessa said they normally have a lot more on Tuesday evenings, including piano lessons and activity days, but they’d been cancelled. I wonder at her stamina! Anyway, we had a wonderful visit, and she fed us very well.
           Xena, our poor zombie cat, is still dragging herself through each day. She’s 17 now. I think she’s completely deaf, and I wondered if she were blind, too, so I had John examine her eyes. He used a small flashlight to look into them, and he said she has extensive cataracts, so she probably doesn’t see much. I keep wondering when she’ll make her journey to the Heavyside Layer, but she’s still hanging on. Her life must still be worth living.
          My life, meanwhile, is wonderful, especially because of all you kids and your families! I love you all.
          Mom

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Dear Kids,
          I’ve been working in the yard again, these past two days. It’s wonderful. Some places are still muddy or snow-covered, but there are other spots where my beloved rocks and dirt are ready to be dug into. And our playground is free of snow! Yesterday afternoon Donna brought her kids here for a "field trip," and they played on our swings and airplane and slide and sand digger. The playground has definitely been our best outside project so far!
            So, while we’re enjoying spring, it looks like Sharon’s family is finally going to have some winter! They’ve had their snow pants and snow gear all ready, but so far they haven’t had any good snow to play in. Hopefully that will change this week! I have Derwood, MD on my weather.com page, and I can see that they have 100% chance of snow for Tuesday.
            Our plans are set for the get-together for Monica’s family on the 25th. The party starts at 3pm at John and Heather’s house. Dinner will be at 5:00. Heather has your food assignments, and I think she’s contacted everybody by now. If you haven’t heard yet, text her, and she’ll let you know. We’re really looking forward to the party, and especially to seeing Monica, Neil, and Jackson.
          Jamie and Andrea Quinn had a baby boy this week, James Maddox Quinn. You’ve probably seen the pictures on facebook or instagram. The next family baby will be Tom and Kim’s, coming up really soon! Kim’s due date is the 31st, but their babies have a way of coming early, so we’re getting anxious to see this new little guy!
          All my piano classes are going great guns right now. In Heber, I’ve expanded my time slots so I’m busy from 9:30 am to 12. I have ten people, and they all come! It’s really hectic, but really fun. Our classes at the Lighthouse Church are doing really well, too. I teach my seniors from 3 to 4, and then we have our regular class, sometimes with up to 20 students. One of my very first students from the Spanish class has come back, with her oldest son, but she has four more kids now, and they all go into the nursery, so Dad is busier in there than ever. Sometimes he has 9 or 10 kids. I thought he would protest, but he said he’s never had so much fun. Who would’ve thought?
           As you can see, we’re doin’ great and lovin’ it. I hope you are, too.
           Love, Mom

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Dear Kids,
          I didn’t write a letter last Sunday because we stayed over at McGettigans (who live at Thanksgiving Point now) on Saturday night. They had a party for lots of old friends from the 5th Ward area, so we had a lot of fun talking to the Fultons, Parkers, (Heath is a bishop!) the Newtons (Kenny’s older brother, Brent, and his wife, Cathy) and various other great people we’ve known for years. I didn’t want to drive home late, so we stayed over in their guest room, and came back early Sunday. We drove directly to Elk Meadows, the care center in our stake, where we were scheduled to help out with the music. From there we went right to Church. When we finally got home we’d been on the road for more than 24 hours, (we’d started out Saturday at noon with a trip to the Provo Temple,) so I took a nap instead of writing my letter. I didn’t have any news, anyway.
          But now, I’ve got to mention all the fun things coming up. Monica and Neil and Jackson will be here on Saturday, the 25th, (less than three weeks) and the party will be at John’s house. I’ll let you know the exact time, and what to bring, in my next letter. Conference is the weekend after that, but I’m not sure of our plans, because Nora’s family will be on a cruise, and Tom’s family will probably have a brand new baby. Easter is late this year, the middle of April, and Nora has already volunteered to host the picnic and Easter egg hunt. That will be on Saturday, April 15.
          Besides all the fun things coming up, we just finished a crazy weekend. Thursday night we drove to Centerville to see Paige’s musical, Mulan. (Paige herself was Mulan’s mother, and she wore a black wig. She was really cute.) We slept over at Nora’s that night. (Not in the basement quarters–it’s not that far along yet. James is working on the wiring now.) We drove home Friday morning, in time to help with the music at a funeral in our ward. (The old people have been dropping like flies. It’s been a long, cold, winter.) Friday night Donna’s bunko group had a cabin party, so the displaced people stayed over here: Bevan and the kids, along with Allen and Carson and Ellie. That was lots of fun. Last night was an ice cream party at John’s, and we watched a Jason Hewitt video. The fun goes on and on.
          It’s starting to feel like spring. Yes, there’s a storm coming in today, with 100% chance of snow by tonight, and more storms after that, lined up on weather.com like little soldiers, but you can definitely tell spring is coming. And we’re so ready!
          Love to everybody! Mom

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Dear Kids,
          Dad and I drove down to Nora’s on Friday, so Dad could have a haircut, and so I could see their newly-framed basement. It looks really good! Scott Treu and Dad did a great job! And the floor plan is brilliant. Besides a big family room, there’s a mother-in-law apartment for people who want to stay over! What could be better! The rough plumbing has already been done, by James with a jackhammer, and a professional plumber. The HFAC guy has already been there. I was totally impressed. Meanwhile, Tom is still going full steam on his basement. We haven’t been there in the last couple of weeks, but we’ve seen pictures of his sheetrocking. Donna, too, is deep into projects. She’s working on the doors in their master bedroom. On Thursday, we took her some joint compound. Everybody is into such great projects! And me? I’m moving the last of the boxes out of our garage. But it’s very tedious. They’re all boxes of desperation, and I have to look at every single thing in every box and decide what to do with it. Not fun. I’m missing the excitement we had last winter when we, too, were working on our basement. Too bad we don’t have anything exciting this year. I’m looking forward to spring, whenever it comes. I want to go out and dig in the yard again.
          I’m racking my brain for news. Nothing. Conference weekend and Easter are still too far away to worry about. I got a play mouse for Tina and rubbed it with catnip. She likes to toss it around. She still freaks out over my long skinny balloons.
           Christmas is still 10 months away, but I ought to mention now that I’m going to have a $5.00 bill for each child (or grownup) who can recite "How the Grinch Stole Christmas." You can do it individually or in a group. Those of you who are far away can skype it. I got the idea last Christmas when I heard Bentley recite it all, while he was unwrapping a present and reading the directions. (Go, Bentley!) Abi was mouthing it along with him. So, if anybody is bored with winter and can’t find anything interesting to do, you can start in on the Grinch.
         Life is good. We all ought to be "doin’ great and lovin’ it."
         Love, Mom

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Dear Kids,
          Allen and Carson and Ellie stayed over here Friday night, because Tom and his ward’s scouts were at the cabin. So, what did we do here for excitement? Ellie practiced on the Clavinova, with headphones. Allen practiced on the grand. (I really enjoyed his songs!) Carson went to bed early. So did I. So did Dad. (He was worn out from working on Nora’s basement, helping Scott Treu with the framing.) None of us partied, but it was nice having a full house–well, not like we used to have, but at least one person per bedroom.
           I’ve known for a long time that I’m losing my hearing, so I went to a clinic in Park City to be evaluated. They’d send out a flyer in the mail, with the promise of a gift card to Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory if I came in for an evaluation. So of course I went. They tested me, and found out that I hear pretty well in the lower frequencies, but my hearing loss is "severe" in the higher tones. They fitted me up with hearing aids that are really high tech, which they programmed remotely from their computer. It was strange to hear so much, all at once. I wore them OK on the drive home, and it was strange to hear raindrops pattering on the windshield of the car. When I walked around the house, I could hear my hair swishing on the sensors on the tops of my ears. I figured that might be a problem. But then I tried playing the piano. I heard all kinds of tones! When I played the notes singly, I discovered that the hearing aids were "singing along," with strange buzzing tones, which were not the same tones I was playing. Weird! I put them on Dad, and he heard the same thing. And Allen. I figured three of us hearing the same thing was a pretty good test. So those particular hearing aids aren’t going to work for me. And I’m not sure there’s anything better out there. But it was a free trial, and I still have the gift card to redeem.
          My Senior Citizen piano classes in Heber have really taken off. What’s the magic of Heber Valley? Everybody who doesn’t already play the piano wants to learn! In West Valley, at the Harmon Center, I never had more than four students at a time, with at least two of them deadbeats. Now I have ten, and a waiting list! And nearly all of these seniors are conscientious and dedicated! It’s lots of fun teaching them. I always look forward to Thursday mornings!
          I mentioned that I’ve been using long twisty balloons to keep Tina off my face, when we’re watching TV at night. She got more and more courageous about batting at them with her paws, and finally, she bit one. You could hear the bang all through the house. It sent her under the bed. I look forward to lots more fun with those balloons.
          Lots of love, Mom

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Dear Kids,
          Put this on your calendars: Saturday, March 25, for a family get-together. Monica, Neil, and Jackson will be here in town! It’s their spring break, and they’ll be camping in southern Utah (best time of the year to be down there!) but on that Saturday, they’ll be here in town. We’re not sure yet where the party will be, probably either at the cabin or at John’s house, but I’ll let you know for sure when it gets closer. We’re all looking forward to seeing them again!
         My best new purchase has been a pack of twisty balloons and a balloon pump. Why? I can use those long skinny balloons to keep Tina off my face while we’re watching TV at night. She hates them! I only have to jab one at her, and she jumps to the foot of our bed. I’ve used them for a couple of weeks now (Paige gave me my first one, a long skinny flower she’d made) and it’s nice not having cat fur in my eyes and nose. Tina’s gotten brave enough to paw at the balloons, though. Wait till she bites into one! She’ll have a big surprise.
          Vanessa and her kids stayed over at our house Friday night, because they were going skiing yesterday at Deer Valley. It was fun having them here! They’re so pleasant and well behaved! (But of course all our grandkids are exceptional!) I admire Vanessa for getting all that gear together: clothes, kids, ski equipment. She said whenever she’s getting ready for something like that, she thinks it’s too much trouble, and it isn’t going to be worth it, but it always is. 
           Four of my sisters, Jane, Nancy, Barbara, and Bonnie, came here to our house yesterday so we could go out to lunch together. Barbara and Bonnie hadn’t ever been to our house before, so I had fun showing them around. Bonnie says we have a "million dollar view." We went to lunch at Hi Mountain Drug, and Barbara said that’s the best hamburger she’s ever eaten. Jane had a salad, and took most of it home in a doggie bag. She’s lost 52 pounds since her surgery, and she’s doing really well now. We heard Scott has lost 80 pounds! Hooray for them both! I’m proud of their courage.
            Since Katie couldn’t be at our lunch yesterday, we’re planning a sisters’ trip to Boise in May, to visit her for a couple of days. I’m so looking forward to that!
          Life is wonderful. I love you all! Mom

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Dear Kids,
         The snow is still piled up, high. It hasn’t been warm enough to melt anything. There are gigantic drifts alongside the roads, where the snowplows have pushed it. The magpies are having a tough time finding enough roadkill to keep them happy, but Friday, coming down Highway 32 into Heber, I saw a couple of deer legs sticking out of a snowdrift, and the magpies were scrambling all over them. There should be more snowshoe rabbits for them pretty soon, too, because they’re turning up here and there, running across the road like idiots. Last year they dug up our lawn, but this year there’s too much snow. Dad has a friend over at the "coffee club" who measures water levels in the mountains, and he said right now there’s 24". That means there’s been about 24 feet of snow.
          What else? We visited Paul and Stefanie yesterday afternoon, for a belated birthday party for Paul, and the Riebens were there, too. We all admired the remarkable Josh. Paul makes him fly like an airplane (or "superbaby,") and he loves it. Earlier in the day, we’d had a sledding party at the cabin with the Barnecks, a young family in our ward with six kids. We took them up the hill in our Sienna, in two batches, since they don’t have snow tires. The first batch was all kids, and when I got them into the cabin, Allen was making waffles. The kids all declared that they were hungry, so Allen fed them. When their parents got there, they were all happily eating waffles. Thanks, Al! By the way, Allen has a Clavinova now, which he bought last week. And he’s started taking piano lessons from a teacher in Centerville!
           John discovered that Costco sells a really dark cocoa powder, twice as dark as Hersheys, and it only costs half as much. He brought me a bag last Sunday night, when we had a lot of people here. I mixed a batch of half cocoa, half brown sugar, and tested all the kids for "true chocolate lovers" by giving each of them a tiny taste. Only two passed--Aubrey and Abi. They both wanted more. Everybody else made a face. But then the three of us, the true chocolate lovers, each got more.  There’s no stopping the fun!
           Love, Mom