Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Dear Kids,
      I’ve become a Super Nerd. I just bought a flash drive. It even has a cord so I can wear it around my neck. Who would’ve thought? I haven’t actually hung it around my neck yet, but I might. I’ve loaded it up with my genealogy because I’m going to Grandma’s today, and floppy discs just won’t do it any more. Burning cd’s is too much trouble. So I’ve joined the 21st century.
      Monday night we had surprise company–Vanessa and Trent and their kids. They had come for the auto auction Tuesday morning, one of Tent’s favorite new hobbies. His brother Troy had wrecked their car, and he entrusted Trent to get him another one. I guess it’s a pretty wild affair. You have to know what you’re doing, because it moves fast. Trent also had his eyes open for a Honda Odyssey, because with a growing family, they’re soon going to be using three car seats. He saw just what they wanted, (2003, silver color, leather interior) but the only two problems were: it had a flat tire, and it didn’t start. Oh, well–the fun of the auction. He bought it anyway. There’s a guarantee that if the repairs cost more than $500, you can return the car and get your money back. In fact, Trent just barely got the car because another guy had his hand halfway up when the auctioneer said, “sold!” So we’ll have to watch this drama unfold. I’m betting that the Odyssey will be a fabulous car for them. Trent said they’ll have to drive it until Sarah gets through high school. (After Trent “won” the car, he called Vanessa here to find the address of the closest Wells Fargo bank. I said, “Is he planning to hold it up?”)
      While Trent was slugging it out at the auction, Vanessa and the kids and I were having fun here. We met Nora and her kids at the New Dragon chinese restaurant, but we got “take out” and took it all to Arctic Circle, so the kids could play while we ate. And all the business types having lunch at the New Dragon looked very relieved to see us all troop out, with the kids and food. Later on, after all the fun, we came back here. Vanessa was changing Sarah’s diaper, and Addie was watching. Addie said, “ Sarah needs to set a goal for potty training.”
      Last Saturday afternoon Dad and I had a wonderful date. First we went to the Jordan River Temple and did a session. Then we drove to a Maverick and changed our clothes, and headed up Little Cottonwood Canyon to go snowboarding at Snowbird. Chickadee is free on Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday nights. So we didn’t have to worry about getting our money’s worth. The snow was perfect, and everybody on the hill was having fun. Lots of beginners. (Important note: I didn’t see a single teenager on skis. It was 100% snowboards. The only skiers were parents with little kids.) Dad and I did 10 or 12 runs, and by then we were tired and cold. So we wandered around the lodge, ate chocolate from my bag, and came home. It was the most fun, spending the least money, that we’ve had in a long time.
      Sunday in Church we had a missionary homecoming, LeGrande Tapusoa, who’s the only other missionary from our ward, besides Paul. (His family moved into the ward about a year ago.) Naturally the chapel was filled with Polynesians, and they stood around and talked for quite a while after the meeting was over. I was playing postlude music on the organ, which I usually do until everybody is out, but I finally gave up and quit after about 20 minutes. So, Paul, you’re the only missionary from our ward right now. Who would’ve thought, when you were one of 12 Sunbeams, that someday you’d be the only missionary?
      Hope you’re all doin’ great and lovin’ it!
      Love, Mom

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Dear Kids,
      Nora and I had plans to go snowboarding this Friday, but when I came home yesterday, she had left a pathetic little message that she couldn’t go, and I needed to call her. So I did. I said, “You’re not going snowboarding??!!” In a timid little voice she said, “How can I? I’m 15 weeks pregnant!” She said James won’t let her go. I said, “Congratulations. You finally told us.” Of course I’d had my suspicions, but I figured if she wanted to go out on the mountain and have fun, who was I to stop her? Anyway, congratulations to both Nora and James! The next little Mair is due July 9th.
      Last week I started seeing a funny bright curved line in my peripheral vision, on the left side, but I thought I was just seeing the outside edge of my contact lens. Then I noticed it when my lens was out, so I called John. He said I needed to come to Heber immediately because my retina might be detaching. I wondered if it was because I fell hard last week, and he said maybe, but I had to come right then. So of course I jumped in the car and drove to his office. When I got there he dilated my eye, so he could look at my retina, and he admitted that there was only about one chance in 100 that my retina was detaching. It was probably just a “viscous detachment,” where the fluid in your eye pulls away from the retina, and it happens to everybody when they get to be about my age. But he wanted to make sure it wasn’t something serious. He told me horror stories about people who don’t pay attention to their vision–they wait too long, and lose an eye. Luckily we have John in the family, so none of us will ever wait too long. I couldn’t stick around in Heber, so I didn’t have time to go visit Heather and the kids, but I learned that Julie is learning to crochet, and Jacob has inherited John’s old power tools. They have weak batteries. He can turn them on, but he can’t do any damage with them.
      Monica had her bike stolen a while back, but she handled it in true Monica fashion. First she reported it to the police, and then she set out to build a new one. I’m not kidding. There’s a non-profit place in Tucson called “Build-a-Bike,” where you take parts of old donated bikes and put them together to build your dream bicycle. The bikes come from the police department and other kindly people. You have to pay $20.00, but then you can use whatever you want from the old bikes. Go, Monica. She went on Ladies Day. She got off to a good start, but she has to go back another time to finish her bike.
      All last year Grandma kept telling me we needed to get back to work on the ancestor stories. We first printed them about 10 years ago, but now we want to make hard-bound copies with pictures and indexes. (Like, who was at Nauvoo? Who met Joseph Smith? That sort of thing. We did it, partly, with the book we made about Grandma’s ancestors.) Anyway, all last year I kept telling Grandma that as soon as I finished my book about you kids, we could get back to them. So about two days after Christmas, she reminded me. And we’re back at work again. It’s lots of fun. You kids will be amazed to recognize yourselves in your ancestors. Missy, you’ll be very interested in the antics of Grandpa Allen’s dad. They’ll remind you of a couple of boys you know very well.
      I’m also going through “Ackerson Kids” one more time, correcting mistakes, because John wants to print a copy of it on his new color printer, to show me what it can do. So, if you’ve found any mistakes, please let me know. I already have a few on my list.
      I looked outside. It’s snowing hard. Yay! Tom, I hope the storm makes it down to Price. They were even talking about Price on the news, Dad said, hoping they get some snow there.
      Lots of love, Mom

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Dear Kids,
      I just got back from snowboarding at Brighton by myself. Normally, I like going with other people, but then I don’t pay much attention to what I’m doing, so I thought I could learn a lot if I just went up and down the mountain by myself. Mostly, I just got tired. I think I improved a little bit, though. Nora and I are going next week, and then on the 28th, a Saturday, I’m going back to Brighton with anybody else who wants to go. John? Kim? Al & Missy? (or maybe we’d better save that for a weekday morning). Tom won’t be coming. When he went snowboarding with some friends from Price, during the Christmas break, he fell really hard and probably cracked a rib. He said it’s terribly painful. People have told him it takes up to 9 months to heal. I was talking to different snowboarders today, riding up the lift, and some of them had experiences with cracked and broken ribs. They said you just have to tough it out. So Tom might be out for the rest of the season. Too bad.
      I drove Donna back to Logan Sunday night, to start her new semester, and when we walked into her dumpy old house, it felt like a refrigerator, and nobody was there. It turned out their furnace was broken, and all the roomies were hanging out in an apartment across the street where it was warm. But we all know how rugged Donna is. She said she would just sleep in her sleeping bag until the furnace was fixed, and at least their heating bill wouldn’t be so high this month.
      When I wrote last week, I thought all the parties were over with, but we had a good time at the cabin Friday night and Saturday with John’s family. There was new snow on the sledding hill, so I had John pack it down with the big flat plastic sled, and then Dad and I took Jacob and Julie and Aaron sledding. Julie really whooped it up, going down the hill. She wanted to start out higher up each time. She and Jacob rode the little black sleds, all by themselves. Dad took Aaron on one of the red eurosleds. Mostly I pulled sleds up the hill, while kids struggled up behind me. What’s so fun about that? But it was.
      Monica, I hung one of the portraits of Ramona in the cabin kitchen, and when Aaron saw it, he called out “Kitty!” I got it down and let him look at her up close. He was delighted, and he didn’t want to give the picture back to me. There’s something spellbinding about Ramona.
      Speaking of kitties, I never did write, last year, that Vanessa and Trent’s beloved Kita Cat had disappeared. It was just too heartbreaking. It was soon after they moved into their new house, and they figured he must have gotten disoriented and wandered off. I told them they’d never have such a fine cat again. Well, last week they got a call from Trent’s brother Troy, who’s living in their old house down on 11th Avenue, and Kita had come back! He was gone for seven months. They have no idea where he went in the meantime, but he might have been adopted by another family, because he’s such a fine fellow. Too bad he can’t talk! The sad part is, there’s probably another family that’s missing him now. But anyway, he’s back to sleeping on Vanessa’s head at night. She hates it, but she doesn’t want him to feel unwelcome.
      On March 11th, the Utah Opera Company is doing “The Magic Flute.” That calls for an opera party. Grandma said she really wants to come, and we can hope she’ll be doing OK by then. It’s a Saturday night, and if any of you want to come, let me know. I’ll have to get the tickets pretty soon. When I looked on the opera’s web site to check the date, it said they needed two more tenors for Magic Flute. Tom, maybe a new career for you?
      Here’s wishing you’re all “doin’ great and lovin’ it!”
      Love, Mom

Wednesday, January 4, 2006

Dear Kids,
      I didn’t write a letter last week because I talked to everybody on Christmas (and saw most of you, too.) I’m having trouble sitting down and writing today because my life seems so boring and pointless. Christmas is over. Sharon and Seth and Charlie are going back to Michigan tonight. All the fun things are done. Our final party was at Nora and James’s house last night. We ate dinner and played catch phrase and watched the Jazz play the Lakers, and it was a riot, but the fun can’t last forever, I guess.
      Did everybody hear that Richard and Jeanne are moving to Calgary, Canada? Richard has been spending a lot of time there for his work, and it’s a long commute. They’ll probably sell their house in South Jordan. Matt is finishing up his senior year at Bingham High, and he’ll stay here. Michael, too. The girls will probably have a good experience living in another culture. I guess Calgary is a lot more slowed-down, less liberal, than BC, where Paul is, but it will still be a big change for them.
      Another bit of family news which is pretty old by now is that my sister Katie was arrested at Justin & Laurie's gas station, where she works, for selling beer to an under-age undercover. (At least they said she was underage. They never did show Katie any ID, when she asked to see it later.) Katie was booked into the Utah County Jail, had a mug shot taken, and was then released until court date. When she appeared before the judge, he fined her about $500, and she can’t sell beer for a year. Katie was wondering if she ought to use her mug shot on her Christmas cards! She said the whole incident was really depressing.
      Dad was grateful for all the presents you kids gave him, and he was even asking me where I keep the thank-you cards, so he might be sending some. I’m also enjoying all the wonderful presents you gave me. The most unique gift was definitely from Monica, the “Kitty candid” professional portraits of Ramona. I hung up one at the cabin, and the other one is lined up on the kitchen buffet counter with the rest of the grandchildren. I tell people, “She’s just a little bit furry . . . “ Another fun an unique gift was a laser level from Tom, but it’s more like a corner-maker. It shoots out red lines that are exactly 90° from each other, stretching out about 50 feet in each direction. So if anybody needs to lay tile anytime soon, it would be a great way to draw lines to lay the tile along.
      As you can see, I’m having trouble thinking of any news. It was fun seeing everyone who came to the Cabin on Christmas night, and the day after. There’s been more snow since then, but I think the sledding was about as fun as it possibly could have been. The next night was the party with Dad’s cousins, and for those of you who weren’t there, they haven’t changed at all. Still fun. Still having lots of adventures to tell us about. Next year they want to have the party at our cabin.
      I just finished eating a carton of fudge brownie ice cream so it would stop calling to me from the freezer. Tomorrow I’m going to start a whole new life–not so much junk food and chocolate.
      Sharon and Seth and I wasted two hours watching the Japanese animated movie “Spirited Away” this morning. It had 4½ stars on Amazon, so I thought it would be really good. Don’t watch it after you’ve overeaten–that’s all I can say. The creatures are always throwing up.
      Hope you’re all having a happy new year! Lots of Love, Mom