Sunday, October 16, 2016

Dear Kids,
          Tom and Kim are having a boy! We’ve had a long string of boys now–there hasn’t been a girl since Anna. The new baby will be grandchild #33 for us, but I haven’t stopped to figure out how many girls and how many boys that will make. If any of you can tell me, that will save me the trouble of figuring it out.
           Early Wednesday morning, Dad and I went flying with Richard and Trish Gerlach in their Grummen Tiger plane. They bought it five years ago, and they’ve said several times they ought to take us flying, and we’ve always said, "OK," and it finally happened! We flew over Heber Valley, Kamas Valley (where we had a good look at our house from the sky) and Park City. All that took about an hour–as long and we’d planned to be up. The morning was cold and clear, and the reds and yellows of the trees were gorgeous. We couldn’t help comparing the Gerlachs’ small plane with John’s glider, especially how noisy it was. We had to wear headphones to hear each other. It wasn’t as smooth, either. But it sure was fun.
           I’m loving the long, warm fall we’re having, because we can still work in the yard. We turned off our sprinkling system about 3 weeks ago, when we had a heavy freeze, so now, about once a week, we’re watering our trees and shrubs by hand. Dad watered yesterday, and he counted every tree and shrub. 106, he said. I was digging on the north side of the house, making a hill for our new deer to sit on. We got some railroad ties to put along the edge of our gravel parking strip, and I’m excavating for those, too. Dad painted the skirting on our deck with oil stain, and it looks really good. So many projects, but I’ll never get tired of working outside.
           My hand is almost healed, and I’ll be playing the organ in church today. I’m looking forward to that.
          Lots of love, Mom

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Dear Kids,
         Andy and Renae came Friday afternoon to stay overnight with us, because Mark and Tamri’s son was being baptized the next morning in the Provo River. Tamri and her brothers and sisters were all baptized there, so it’s a family tradition. I’m sure it turned out just fine. It was even warmer yesterday morning than it was predicted to be. And Dad and I had a lot of fun with Andy and Renae while they were here. We ate at the Gateway Grille. We talked and talked. We went for a walk around our neighborhood. Oh, I forgot to mention: they have a mission call, to the Washington DC South Mission, and their main assignment will be at the Northern Virginia Employment Resource Center in Annandale. They’ll have other assignments, too. They leave for the MTC on January 2, and they’re very excited about it. Andy had thought they might go foreign, since they have plenty of money, good health, and were willing to learn a new language, but they’re really happy about Virginia.
           Dad and Allen are really pumped up for their Hawaii trip. It’s less than a month away now. I bought them each a Hawaiian shirt off Amazon. I hope they’ll at least wear them to the luau. They are diligently planning what to see and do. Andy and Renae had lots of suggestions for Dad, since they’ve been to Oahu.
           My hand is still improving. I can play the piano for up to 20 minutes now, although it’s hard to do an octave. It’s still hard for me to type, and I make lots of mistakes. I still can’t use a needle and thread, or tweezers, or butter a piece of toast. Power tools are still out of the question. Dad and I have been working on the deck skirting around our pergola, so Dad has to do all the cutting and power nailing. We’re trying to finish as much as possible before winter sets in. I’m still digging in the yard, making slow progress. It’s funny that using a shovel and a rake were about the first things I could do after my hand surgery.
          I hope you’re all doin’ great and lovin’ it! Mom

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Dear Kids,
         Our Saturday-night soup dinner and ice cream party last night was a total blast. There was a record crowd–at least 25 people, probably more. We ate record amounts of soup and rolls and bread, and we consumed large quantities of brownies (thanks, Donna,) ice cream, chocolate sauce, etc. I hope the men enjoyed the Priesthood session of conference, which they went to in-between. The rest of us played games and talked and ate still more. We sent the littlest kids out to run in circles on the deck. They played on the playground, too. It was a wonderful evening.
          Our yard-improvements are still moving along, in spite of the brisk fall weather. Yesterday Dad and John put up most of the pergola on our back deck. It’s exactly like the pergola out in the yard, and people must be scratching their heads, wondering why we need two. But we do. I hope it will look really good. Besides that, I’ve started digging on the north side of the house, making a hill for our new deer to sit on, and digging out another dry creek bed. People slow down as they drive by, probably wondering what in the world I’m doing now. They’ll see. I hope I can get most of it done before winter.
         The new family truck is going full speed ahead. We saw it for the first time last Sunday night, when Julie drove it here, with John and Jacob. It’s very big, and very impressive. Dad and I drove it around Kamas Valley. Yesterday Tom borrowed it to take things to the dump, and barely got back in time for John to pick up a pool table for his basement. I’m sure it will get a lot of use. John is hoping people will return it with a little more gas than when they borrowed it. I don’t think he expects you to fill the tank, if you borrow it empty. I’m sure these issues will sort themselves out.
          We’re loving our life here, and we love having so much family around.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Dear Kids,
          John just bought a truck with an 8-foot bed, a v-8 engine, and a tow hitch. It can pull twice the weight of his pop-up trailer. Why is this big news for the rest of you? Because Dad and I paid part of the cost of the truck, so that each of you can have the privilege of borrowing it when you need it. So now there’s a "family truck," which John has been urging for a long time. He owns it and will maintain it, but feel free to borrow it whenever you need to. It will be a great boon to our family.
         Conference weekend is practically upon us! Next Saturday night I'll be hosting the soup dinner at our house at 5:00, and then all the men who want to can go to the Priesthood session with Dad at our church. The ladies and girls can hang out here. Afterwards, we’ll have ice cream here. Anybody who wants to sleep over at our house or at the cabin is welcome. Sunday, at noon, Nora and Kim will be in charge of the CafĂ© Rio dinner at the cabin. I’m sure they’ll appreciate any help you can offer. Everyone who wants to watch conference can do that at the cabin, or here at our house. There are so many of us now, I can’t keep track of everyone’s plans, but there’s plenty of room in both places, and there will be plenty of food.
         Dad and Al have officially planned their Hawaii trip! Al booked it through Columbus travel, and they got a very good deal. They’ll leave Salt Lake the morning of November 3, (a Thursday) and fly to Honolulu. They’ll be staying in a hi-rise hotel, and the tour package includes Pearl Harbor, the Polynesian Cultural Center (with a luau), and a north island tour. They’ll have lots of extra time, too, to tour on their own. They’ll fly home on Wednesday, November 9. They’re both very excited. I ordered Hawaiian shirts for both of them (from Amazon, of course) and they’ve agreed to wear them to the luau and post pictures on facebook. I’m sure they’ll have a wonderful time. If any of you have ideas of what I can do while they’re gone, let me know.
           Life is good! I love you all! Mom

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Dear Kids,
          Friday morning they took the bandages off my hand and put on a custom splint. So now I’m writing this letter using all 10 fingers, but I’m making a lot of mistakes and having to correct them. Still, it’s miraculous to be using my right hand again. In the meantime, I learned how to do lots of things with my left hand, but none of them very well. Like eating with my left hand. I felt like a toddler, trying to get the food to my mouth. I had to keep a towel at the side of my plate to wipe off the food that didn’t quite make it. What I missed most, and still can’t quite do: writing with a pencil or pen, using scissors and knives, and flossing my teeth. Thanks to Dad for tying my shoes, buttoning my buttons, and curling my bangs.
         Carson and Ellie are here overnight, because Allen is off on a jaunt to Island Park with his police buddies. It’s fun tending young teenagers. Ellie made cream puffs last night, using a recipe in her Betty Crocker cookbook. At the same time, I was making meatballs for dinner today, and at one point we were using all four burners on the stovetop at the same time. It all worked out, and the cream puffs were very good. She’s taking the leftovers to church today to share with her friends in Young Women here.
           My hand is hurting now, so I have to quite typing.
           Love to all, Mom

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Dear Kids,
         I’m typing this letter with my left hand, so it’s going to be short. My right hand is bandaged from the surgery I had on Tuesday. It went very well. It’s called carpal metacarpal arthroplasty, and it should take care of the pain I’ve had at the base of my thumb for more than three years now. Maybe I’ll be able to play ragtime again! Meanwhile, though, I can’t do much at all. Dad has been helping me shower, get dressed, and fix food. I’ve been sleeping nights in his recliner, with a big piece of plastic foam holding up my arm. I haven’t been anywhere except my piano classes, which I absolutely couldn’t miss, in spite of my pain and awkwardness. (In the Lighthouse class, one cute little kid saw my bandages and said, "Did you fall down AGAIN?") It’s funny that within a month I’ve had my worst tooth pain ever, my accident, my worst bronchitis ever, and now this, which has turned out to be way more painful than I expected. Thanks to all of you who have called me, visited me, and prayed for my recovery. I’m looking forward to a brand new life when all this is over with. Meanwhile, you’ve all gotta know how much I love you.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Dear Kids,
         The McGettigans are here visiting, and last night we went to the Frontier Days Rodeo. It’s just down the street from us, in the Francis park. It started with skydivers, and that alone was worth our ticket price. A tiny plane circled high overhead, and when the two men dropped out, it didn’t seem like they could land anywhere near the park, but they circled in closer and closer. One of them had smoke trailing, and another one the American flag, while the pa system blasted out "I’m Proud to be an American." They both landed in the arena, one of them exactly in the center. That was the best! Then there was bareback riding, breakaway, saddle bronc, steer wrestling, all the usual rodeo events. The wind blew hard and it got cold, and I left early and walked home. (There’s a lot to be said for living close enough to the rodeo grounds that you can walk home!) McGettigans are talking about moving here to Francis. That would be my dream! We already have four families of kids living nearby, and the McGettigans too?! I can’t imagine how wonderful life would be.
          Guess who’s going to Hawaii! Not Dad and me, but Dad and Allen! It sounded bizarre when Allen first brought it up, but then we thought it all through, and they could have a great time together, plus do all the things I can’t do: an all-night flight, tour busses (the fumes are deadly for me), evening luas, staying in high-rises, museums, Pearl Harbor (well, I could do that, but it wouldn’t be my first choice of sites); there are so many things they could enjoy doing together. Allen’s going to work out the details when he gets home from the Grand Canyon, where he’s off hiking now.
          We’ve been building our back deck, and it’s going really well, but I’m going to have my hand surgery on Tuesday, so I’ll be grounded from projects for three or four weeks after that. The deck won’t be finished, but it will be something fun to come back to when my hand heals. It won’t even hurt me to use a hammer! Life will be even better than now!
          I love you all! Mom