Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Dear Kids,
      I’m on my way over to Nora’s in a little while. She went to the doctor yesterday to find out why she had so much pain in her upper legs. It’s varicose veins! And there’s nothing you can do, except to stay down. So I’m going to help out a little every day--fix the kids’ lunch, go to Walmart, do a little laundry or cleaning. I’m glad to help. Any of you who have read my green book, you know how much people helped me during my years of practically being an invalid. I’m glad to pay it back into the big account. Plus it’s fun to play with Addie and Ben. Of course it couldn’t be worse timing for Nora and James’s move, which is in just a couple of weeks, but I’m sure people will help.
      We had study group here on Sunday night, and when Mark Ulrich came, I pointed out to him that it was the last study group, just 4 weeks earlier, when I had mentioned to him that Nora and James might be thinking of moving. And just two weeks later, they had a new house, and a week after that, the old one was sold. Mark just smiled. You can see he loves his work. Actually, it was a miracle that I even talked to him, because Terry Coon had come about 45 minutes early, to play chess. We started a game, and it was just getting interesting when everybody else started coming. I had a good position, but Terry was ahead on material. But I knew there must be a good move for me! It was my turn, so I suggested that we wait and finish the game after the lesson. Terry said that was fine. Besides, I was still in my levis, I hadn’t made my chocolate sauce, and everybody was there, looking nice. I hurried and put on a dress, and made my sauce, all the while thinking about the chess game. During the lesson, I kept glancing at the board. About half way through I saw a move that was so brilliant, it took my breath away. Then, for the rest of the time, I was going over every possible counter-move that Terry could make. Any way I saw it, I could checkmate him in about three moves. So I didn’t hear a word of the lesson. I only pretended to pay attention. When it was over, I hurried and served dessert, and then it was back to the game. I won in three moves. This is only the second time I’ve ever beat Terry, and we’re always sitting over the chess board when we go to Lake Powell or Lake Mead. So it was a very big deal for me. Terry said it was a great game. I couldn’t sleep that night, I had so much adrenalin in my system.
      Monica and Donna are both training for marathons. Monica’s going to do the Salt Lake Marathon on June 3rd, the day after Paul gets home. She wants to be here when he gets off the plane. It will be nice to have Monica here for a visit. We haven’t seen her for months. And Donna’s planning on running the 24th of July marathon, whatever it’s called now. That will be fun, too. Go, you red-headed girls! (Vanessa, of course, is also on the go, always, in spite of being 8-months pregnant. What is it about the red hair? Little Sarah is the same way.)
      I’m looking forward to conference weekend. It will be great to see any of you that come for any of the time. I’m excited for conference. On Sunday, in sacrament meeting, one of our Polynesians got up to give the closing prayer. But he just stood at the pulpit for about two minutes, before he started his prayer. Then, he thanked the Lord for the conference coming up, and asked that we would all be prepared. I was so inspired, I couldn’t wait for it to come.
      I hope you’re all doin’ great and lovin’ it.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Dear Kids,
      Spring is coming! Reggie is doing loop-de-loop in his cage. The cats are sunning themselves on the deck, and just inside the window, I was sunning myself on the floor, next to all my little plants I’m growing. Actually, I was reading, too, putting off all the work I need to do today.
      Conference is a week from this Sunday. We’ll do our usual cabin weekend, for anybody who wants to join us. Dad and I will be there from Friday afternoon to Sunday afternoon, and anybody who wants first dibs on a bedroom for any night, let me know as soon as possible. Also, let me know if you want to eat Sunday dinner with us. I’m sure there will be the usual hikes around the loop, if enough snow has melted. If not, there will probably be sledding on the hill, like we did last year. We’re supposed to have warm weather for the next few days, though, so maybe it will all be mud. Who cares? Conference weekend is always fun.
     One of the fun things was going to be John’s chocolate fountain, but the chocolate chips he always bought are no longer available, it seems. He used FMV brand from Smiths, because they didn’t have any milk solids, butterfat, or any of those milk products. But now Smiths is selling Kroger brand instead, which is not milk-free. John said he can get milk-free chocolate somewhere else, but I’m not so sure. I checked out Western Family brand at Reams, and Sams Choice at Walmart, and some others, and they all seem to have milk products. Help! If any of you live near a Smiths that still has the FMV brand, call John. Otherwise, the chocolate fountain might have something wholesome–maybe vegetable juice? Maybe chicken broth? It won’t be the same!
      As if Nora and James hadn’t had enough excitement, buying a new car and a new house, they sold their current house in just one day! They listed it for $172,000, which was about as high as Mark Ulrich figured they could go, in that neighborhood. Then, on the first day it was on the market, seven people came to see it. Most of them put in bids. That night, Mark was on the phone, charming every buyer, urging them to put in their “very best bid,” meaning that someone else had outbid them. So the house topped out at $180,000. I wondered why Mark didn’t just list it higher to begin with, but I guess a lot of people only look at houses in a certain range, and then, if they get excited, they bid higher. Sort of like e-bay or the car auction. Oh, and I forgot to mention–a seminary teacher won the bid! What could be better? And now, after this whirlwind of buying and selling, Nora and James are packing up to move. They’re planning to start Friday, April 14 (Easter weekend) and hopefully finish on Saturday, before the picnic that we’re having at Allen and Missy’s park. If you can help, let them know.
      Yesterday I went to Orem to visit Grandma and Grandpa. Michael Allen dropped by to see what was in their refrigerator, and we had a lot of fun talking to him. First it was all about snowboarding. Next winter we’re going to have a day at Brighton with him, and he’s going to take us to the next level of skills. Maybe we’ll be sailing off cliffs, who knows. So, anybody who wants to get in on it, don’t injure yourself at the first of the winter, OK? Michael also told us about the new townhouse he’s buying. It’s being built now, in Draper, by the new IKEA. He’s really excited about it. I guess he’s doing OK in his several jobs.
      Hey, Paul, besides the opportunities in Jackson, Tom says there are also jobs in Price. Like the grounds crew at CEU. Or the mines. So you’ll have lots of choices when you come home. But as you can see, you’ll want to enjoy the mission as long as you can. It’s all downhill after that. (Just kidding.)
      I love you all! Mom

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Dear Kids,
      I just got back from Ogden Valley, where I checked out the Wolf Mountain (formerly Nordic Valley) ski resort. (It’s actually not much of a resort, because the lodge is a converted barn.) An all-day pass (with my senior citizen discount) was $17. There are two lifts, and the lifties are a couple of old guys, probably the owners. They’re not much into grooming their runs. But it’s a great place to learn to ski or snowboard, because the bunny hill is long and flat, and even the main run is pretty easy. The snow was kind of slushy though, because the base of the “mountain” is only 5400'. (Compared to Snowbird at 7400, and Brighton at 8400.) It was almost as warm there as at home. But I had a lot of fun. From the top of the mountain you can see Wolf Creek condominiums, where we used to have family reunions. I got tired after 3 hours and came home, but I felt like I got my money’s worth.
      Does anybody want to hear Tom’s latest medical news? As if he didn’t have enough going on, now they’ve discovered he has high cholesterol. So he’s taking 4 medications now, and two of them are combos of two drugs, so he’s on six different meds. He’s a walking pharmacy! His doctor told him the high cholesterol is probably genetic (true!), so all you kids who haven’t had your cholesterol checked since I took you to FHP as kids, it might be a good idea to have it done. It changes when you grow up.
      Saturday night Dad went to Centerville for a “ride-along” with Allen, which was really a “sit-along,” because Al was doing DUI stops. Dad says Allen pulled over 17 people, and didn’t find a single drunk, but it was fun anyway. Dad came home at 2:30 am and was so hyped up he didn’t even go to bed–just turned on the TV to try to unwind. That’s where I found him at 5am, when I got up.
      Donna’s out on spring break this week, so she’s mostly working at Deer Valley, where of course she sees a lot of Bevan. She’s been checking out summer jobs, internships with garden shops that don’t pay much, but would be good experience. But Donna explained to me that she doesn’t really need experience, because a Landscaping Architecture degree from Utah State is all the credentials she’ll need to get a good job. So she might wait tables instead, to go for the money.
      Trent and Vanessa and their kids were here yesterday, while Trent made yet another tip to the car auction. This time he was getting a mini van for his brother, Craig, who now has three kids. (That seems to be the magic number–the point where you need a bigger car.)(Gone are the days of stuffing five kids and two parents into a Volkswagon, like Dad and I used to do.) Anyway, Trent had fun at the auction, while Vanessa and the kids and I hung out with Nora and her kids. We got Chinese food from the New Dragon Café, (thanks, Sharon, for telling us about it) and we did a drive-by of James and Nora’s new house.
      Sharon is going to start selling “Storyteller,” those felt picture stories that Kim has gotten for some of you. Sharon says there are only two dealers in Michigan. She has two parties scheduled for this week. Go, Sharon! Seth is in a new lab, but he’s not doing much, because his professor is out of town.
      On Friday I tended John and Heather’s kids while Heather helped train a new girl in John’s office. I had a lot of fun. But when it was time to go pick up Julie from school, Jacob and Aaron had hidden the car keys. Well, maybe they weren’t hidden, but they had carried them off. I asked where they were, and both boys looked very innocent. But when I said we couldn’t go anywhere, Jacob suddenly remembered he knew where they were. It all felt very familiar.
      Hey, Paul, you’re really coming home June 2nd? That will be a great anniversary present for Dad and me! I can’t believe how fast the time is going! You’ll be home before you know it! But don’t get trunky.
      Lots of love to everybody, Mom

Thursday, March 9, 2006

Dear Kids,
      . . . and the award for big spending (this week, at least) goes to Nora and James!! They bought a new car (a Honda Pilot) and a new house! Well, the car is three years old, but it’s really nice–silver with a leather interior. Sort of a cousin to Vanessa and Trent’s Odyssey. And the house isn’t new either–it’s maybe 10 years old. I’m going to look at it with Nora this morning. It’s in West Jordan, about 2 miles south of where they live now. So the preschool kids can transfer without too much trauma. How it all came about was sort of bizarre, so you’ll have to call Nora for the details. Mark Ulrich had a hand in it. He can charm the socks off a cat.
      Speaking of cats, Monica reports that Ramona is doing fine. She goes on walks on a leash (sometimes) and is learning to poop outside, like a dog. She digs very big holes, Monica says. And speaking of Monica, some of you have probably heard that she had a melamona scare, almost identical to Grandpa Allen’s. She had a mole taken off a couple of weeks ago, and it was sent to the lab. It came back positive for melanoma, so the dermatologist took out more tissue in the same area, but was pretty confident that it hadn’t spread. Both she and Grandpa have stitches now. She goes back in 12 days to get the stitches out, and find out the latest lab report. If you want a graphic description of skin layers, fat layers, and all the gruesome details, call Monica. It’s pretty interesting.
      Saturday night we went to Shanna Spencer’s wedding reception, held in a greenhouse in Sandy called Le Jardin. It’s all overgrown inside with trees and vines and exotic flowers, a regular jungle adventure. We saw all the usual old friends and former ward members, like Turcsanskis and Brent and Delores Anderson and Paxmans. It was really fun. Chris Spencer, who has a lot of charm now, talked to me about snowboarding. (Martha has told people about our new hobby.) He asked if I did jumps, but I told him no. He seemed disappointed. We saw Colleen Yorgason’s husband Maté, and their four cute little black kids, but Colleen was working. Ken Paxman had had knee surgery and was using a cane. Talk about making us feel old! Terry Coon came from an Eagle Court of Honor, with all his scouting badges on his jacket, and his silver beaver hung around his neck. He just received an award for 50 years in scouting. He said he’s had 28 Eagles in the ward he’s in now (by Nora’s house), plus 24 more Eagles from the Utah Boys’ Ranch. I told him they ought to have a platinum beaver for guys like him.
      Sunday we had stake conference at the lighthouse church, and because it can get sort of dull, I picked up a headset to listen in Spanish. Kenny Newton’s neices and nephews were in line behind me to get headsets. I remember that they all sang songs in Spanish at Kenny’s homecoming. Kenny’s brother was translating, and he’s very good, but he was sort of whispering. Like the still small voice. All together, it was fun, trying to figure out what he was saying, and it made the time go by fast.
      A blizzard is raging outside. I wanted to go snowboarding today, before winter is totally gone, but it looks like I’ll have a lot of good days, now. Usually I’m eager for spring, but not this year.
      I love you all! Mom

Thursday, March 2, 2006

Dear Kids,
      The big news of the week, if you haven’t heard, is that Nora’s having a girl! Unless there’s some surprise, Addie will have a little sister to lead along the path of life, and the other little girl cousins will have one more little friend. By the way, this will tip our number of grandchildren toward the girls: 8-7. What a change, after the run on boys we were having back in 01-02. Anyway, we’re excited for Nora and James.
      I guess this is the time of year when pinewood derby fever hits hard. I thought it was odd that Donna’s singles stake was into it, but John just raced a car in his elders’ quorum derby. He was very proud that he came in 5th out of 20 cars. Go, John! He said one of the cars, done by an auto body guy, had an authentic auto body finish. Hey, we always knew it was for the grownups, not the kids. John also reports that he has purchased a new toy, which isn’t surprising, because John is always getting new toys, but this time it’s a chocolate fountain! He said it was only $40 at Costco, so he had to buy it. He’s going to bring it to the cabin for Conference weekend (April 1-2). He uses those gluten-free chocolate chips from Smiths, so his kids (but probably not Aaron) can indulge. I’m sure the rest of us will, too. He said it’s great for pineapple and strawberries!
      Tom’s latest health alarm is high blood pressure. Who would’ve thought? He went in for a routine check of his medications, and his doctor noticed that his blood pressure was high, and when she looked back over his chart, it had been high for a long time. (I wondered why they’d never noticed before, but Tom called it “white coat syndrome,” whatever that means.) So all the symptoms Tom was concerned about, (like his pounding heartbeat,) which were pushing him into anxiety attacks, might all be coming from the high blood pressure, and might all be cleared up with just one medication. Meanwhile, he had another EKG, and of course his heart is fine. He said he’s had so many EKG’s, they ought to give him a punch card.
      Tom also reports that he’s gotten into the big time with his photography. There’s a website called imagevortex that allows photographers to upload their pictures, so people can buy them. The only restriction is, the pictures have to be really good. Tom sent them a ton of pictures, and kept getting rejected, but they gave him good suggestions. Finally they accepted three of them. If you click on, and then, on “image search,” enter in the number 935075073, that will take you to a picture of a horse that Tom sent them. If you click on the thumbnail of the horse, it will come up enlarged, and underneath, click on “mycanonshots,” which is Tom’s screen name. Then you’ll see all three pictures that Tom has listed with them. The sunset is a view from the cabin. I think it’s cool. They all are.
      Trent is also into photography big time. You can see his sports pictures on It has city league, high school, and youth basketball scores and stats, along with a lot of cool pictures.
      I’m obsessed with the new Phantom of the Opera movie. I can’t quit watching it. The phantom, of course, is way cuter than the hero. Today when I was practicing the organ at the church, I imagined a Phantom of the Organ, lurking among the pipes, ready to help me play magnificently, if I turn my soul over to my darkest dreams. So I turned off the organ and went home.
      Life is good. I love you all! Mom