Friday, December 21, 2007

Dear Kids,
      I just came in from shoveling snow, about 10 inches of it, off our walk and driveway. I was happy to do it. I’m still delighted with every snowstorm we get. It blew in last night, just before my Christmas music open house, but people came anyway. The kids played their music, and sang (including James and Nora’s kids, who sang a cute song), and then they romped around and played with the cat while the grownups ate cookies and looked outside at the snowstorm. It was so totally Christmas, with the snow falling and the music playing. We’re going to do it every year.
      And who is this cat they were playing with? Simba! The Hawkins’ cat! I think she’s supposed to be Bevan’s cat, but they can’t have her at the cabin, and Lloyd and Beverly have gone away for three weeks, so she’s here. She’s an African cat, and she loves to purr, talk to people, and lick their faces. And she’s obsessed with Lizzette. No kidding–we received a Christmas letter from Lizzette and Theral, with a picture of both of them, and Simba went crazy over the picture. She did starfish paws on Lizzette’s face, and licked it, and sat on the photo. Then she chewed the edges. When I put the picture on the counter, Simba jumped up and got it again. Maybe Lizzette reminds her of Trisha, Bevan’s sister, who brought her home from Africa. Who knows.
      Christmas Eve, Dad and I will be going down to the Seville to visit Grandpa and Grandma, but we’ll be back at our house by about 7:30 pm, maybe sooner, for the hike to Ensign Peak. I know those of you with little kids probably can’t come on the hike, but if you want to hang out at our house anyway, we’ll probably have some Christmas Eve goodies. At least we’ll be having hot chocolate when we got back from the hike. I’m not sure of our plans for Christmas Day, but we’ll definitely be going to the cabin that night. And there will be great sledding on the 26th, with all this snow! Maybe Tom will have an igloo built by then! We’ll probably be eating in the early afternoon, when Dad’s cousins get there. Let me know if you want to bring something. I’m thinking of making sloppy jo’s. Who can believe Christmas is going to be over with so soon? Actually, it feels sort of over with already, with all the present unwrapping that went on Saturday night at Nora’s house. But at least Dad and I got to see the kids unwrap the presents we gave them! I vote we do it that way every year!
      Since it feels like Christmas is practically over with, I’m making new year’s resolutions. This will be the best year yet! One of my resolutions is that I’m going to fix Sunday dinner on a regular schedule, probably the second Sunday of each month, and everybody is invited. I’ve been a slacker this year.
      Dad and I wish you all the merriest of Christmases! Love, Mom

Friday, December 14, 2007

Dear Kids,
      Whoa, even more snow! It has piled up in the ski resorts, and Deer Valley has all its runs open. Not that it’s a benefit to any of us snowboarders, but Paul has a chance of working there with Donna and Bevan during the Christmas break. He’ll probably be joining the “gang at the cabin” (as Grandma calls it), also known as “the squatters” (a term of unknown origin.) At any rate, we hope it all works out for him. He tried to get his job back at Migrant Glass, (oops, I mean Mygrant Glass), but they said they’re never very busy in the winter.
      We’re looking forward to the gingerbread party tomorrow at Nora and James’s house. I’m planning to dole out lots of presents! This is the earliest I’ve ever been ready for Christmas. I’m grateful to all the publishers of toy catalogs and the fine UPS man, who carried those gigantic boxes to our door. It’s all been really fun.
      Last Friday night was Nora and James’s ward Christmas dinner, and they did the “Journey to Bethlehem,” with Nora, James, and Stu as Mary, Joseph, and the baby Jesus. Dad and I were invited to come along and help with the other kids, which we were delighted to do. You know those little bags of play coins they use for the Roman money? I remember that when our ward did it, Gorden Shaw (who was a very scary centurion) handed out the money, and it was those chocolate coins, wrapped in gold foil. Nora’s ward had the fake American money from Oriental Trader, but it was still a hit with the kids. Paige was perfectly delighted to dump the coins from her little bag and then pick them up, one by one, and put them back in. That kept her occupied all while the pageant was going on. Nora and James wandered from one “inn” to the other, looking for a place to stay. James had one line that went, “I seek a room for the night for my wife and I.” Even though it was ungrammatical, he said it just like they wanted him to. Overall, it was great. Nora said while they were sitting in the stable, and she was holding Stuart, she realized what it must have been like for Mary and Joseph. We could feel it, too.
      And meanwhile, outside, we were having this fabulous snowstorm. Huge flakes of cottony snow! The whole evening could have been Christmas eve, it was so perfect.
      Speaking of which, Vanessa says that she was telling Sterling about our Christmases here at home, and how they only got one thing from each grandma, and also one thing from Santa. So Sterling wanted to know, “Why didn’t you just ask Santa to bring you more presents?” Now, how would you answer that one?
      Jana McGettigan is going to have surgery again, just after Christmas, so could you all please remember her in your prayers? She and Kara are in “Christmas Carol” together this year, and we got to watch them last Wednesday night. It was great. I always love the end, where Scrooge says, “I’m not the man I used to be!” It’s Christmas and New Years rolled into one!
      We’re looking forward to the sledding party on the 26th. Dad and I will probably come the night before, and the fun will go on all day. Also, don’t forget our Christmas Music Open House, here, on the 20th, from 7 to 9 pm. Even if you don’t want to perform, make your kids do it! It’ll be lots of fun.
      Love to you all, Mom

Friday, December 7, 2007

Dear Kids,
      Yay! Another storm is on the way. They’re promising more snow. I hope it’s as good as last week. Well, Dad and I didn’t think it was so good last Friday night, when we were stuck on Highway 40, along the Jordanelle Reservoir, in a blizzard. The traffic was crawling along about 5 mph. We were on our way to Midway to watch Julie’s clogging recital. We thought we had plenty of time, but at 5 mph, you only go five miles in an hour, duh. We were still stuck in the traffic when John called from the recital and said Julie’s group had just finished their act. But we got to watch it later on video. We drove to John’s house where they were having a birthday party for Aaron, and Tom’s family was there, too, so you can guess it was pretty lively. When the party was over it was still snowing. Dad and I had planned to drive to the cabin, but I said we were staying the night at John’s, because we still haven’t put the blizzak tires on our car. Tom’s van didn’t have its blizzak tires, either, so they all piled into his little car for the drive back to the cabin, and left their van at John’s. The next morning, it was still snowing. I watched it on weather.com, and as soon as it looked clear, Dad and I set out, with Dad driving Tom’s car. I was driving the van. Of course it started snowing again, and the road was as bad as I’ve ever seen it. At the cabin, we parked both cars at the bottom of the hill, and called Tom to come down and get us. But all that didn’t dampen my excitement about the snow! I couldn’t wait to tromp down the sledding hill! With the sod under the snow, it’s smooth and fast. Everybody can plan on lots of fun sledding now! It’ll be good till spring.
      Speaking of sledding, we’re all still planning on the cabin party the day after Christmas. Dad’s cousins will be there, too, like last year. It should be riotous. We’ll probably have chili or soup bowls, good winter-weather comfort food. And also, speaking of Christmas parties, we’re looking forward to Nora’s gingerbread party on the 15th. She says to be there by 4 pm, and bring a bag of candies for decorating gingerbread houses, plus a potluck item for dinner. (Something that goes with potato soup.) Also, I think, your kids’ cousins presents, if you have them. My Christmas shopping is well underway, and the UPS truck has been bringing me giant boxes of toys. It couldn’t be more fun.
      Jeanne was here last week, and I drove her to the airport Monday morning for her flight back to Canada. But just as I arrived back home, she called and said her flight had been changed to 3:30 in the afternoon. So of course I went and picked her up, and she did errands with me. We went to Walmart and Kohls and the post office, and to the Winder Dairy store. Then we came home and looked through toy catalogs. It was lots of fun to visit with her. She says it’s so cold in Calgary, some days it doesn’t even get above zero. (I gave her a pair of smartwool socks to take home.) She also says that Mike and Moka are having a baby girl, and they’re naming her Bentley.
      At the Macey’s grocery store on 78th South, they put a grand piano in the entry way, and you can sign up to play Christmas music on it. So I did. I played for an hour on Tuesday morning, and I earned $2.00 in tips. Dad said I should donate it to the missionary fund.
      Hope you’re all doin’ great and lovin’ it. We’ll see you all soon!
      Mom

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Dear Kids,
      Yay, it snowed! Well, not very much, but at least there’s white stuff on the ground. Our dead front lawn is covered over! And now that there’s snow, I can get serious about Christmas. I’m makin’ my list and checkin’ it twice. I received at least 15 toy catalogs in the mail this year (they’ve got my number now) so I’ve had lots of fun going through them. And ordering stuff online. Christmas shopping is totally different now.
      Donna and Bevan came by last night after Donna went to traffic school in Murray. Yep, she had a ticket a few weeks ago, and had to work it off. (Not so different from the penalty charts I used to have on the refrigerator.) Donna’s working with Bevan at Deer Valley now, since the landscaping is a little slow right now. Paul is hoping to work at Deer Valley too, during his Christmas break, but it all depends on how many regulars show up from last year. I’m grateful to Paul for playing four chess games with me during Thanksgiving. Sure, he beat me three times, but it prepped me up for playing Terry Coon Sunday night. We were having study group here, and of course Terry wanted to come early and start a game of chess. I beat him the last time we played, so he was all geared up. But I got a little advantage early on, and then I happened to mention that I didn’t want to blow my lead, like those poor Utes. That hit him where it hurt–he’s a big Ute fan. So every time I wanted to rattle him, I mentioned those poor Utes again. Of course it wasn’t fair, but I won. I’ve gotta use all my tricks, when I play Terry.
      I’ve also discovered how to play chess online. It’s endlessly fascinating, moving your pieces, and watching the other pieces move, and it could be anybody in the whole world you’re playing against. But I’m trying to limit myself to one game every night, after my work is done.
      Jeanne and Melissa came into town last night, and Dad picked them up at the airport. In their car, of course. Then they came here and visited for a while, before they drove to Jeanne’s parents house. It was nice to see them again. There’s a big hole in our family, since they moved to Canada. If you want to keep up on their doings, Megan has a blog at polkadots-megan.blogspot.com/. Right now there are some funny pictures of Jack, their dog. He hates the cold Canadian weather, and stays in the house all the time. Matt, in his missionary letters, always says hello to Jack. Can you imagine anybody missing a cat that much?
      We’re looking forward to all the Christmas fun. Nora’s gingerbread party is Saturday afternoon, December 15th. She’ll send us all more information. We’ll have our usual sledding party the day after Christmas. Sharon and her kids are coming January 8th, and I can’t remember if Seth is coming then too, or later. But it will be like Christmas all over again. Monica and Neil, don’t you guys think you could make a Christmas trip to Utah? Is there a time when you’re both free?
      Meanwhile, we’re doin’ great and lovin’ it.
      Mom

Friday, November 23, 2007

Dear Kids,
      We had a great Thanksgiving here at the cabin. But now it’s the day after, and the turkey carcass is out in the field, picked clean by the magpies. I just finished off the dressing, and I’m eating the next to the last piece of pie. Dad is fixing the washing machine (won’t spin) and Paul is doing homework. But the holiday was great while it lasted. Al and Missy and their kids came to the cabin the night before, and hung out with Tom and Kim. The kids are a great matchup–Ellie played with Emma, and Carson played with Bentley, and I didn’t notice any fighting at all. Dad and Paul and I came Thursday morning, with Grandma and Grandpa. They really enjoyed getting out for a day! Grandpa especially likes that ride up Provo Canyon. Some of my family had said they couldn’t go, but all those people were out of town, so Grandma said she could do whatever she wanted. She used a cane to get up the cabin steps, and a walker the rest of the time. Her knee seems to be healing fine, and we hope she’ll have a lot more mobility than before.
      Our great entertainment (besides the turkey dinner) was watching the video of Allen getting tased. If you haven’t seen it, it’s on Missy’s blog. A few weeks ago, when Boyd was visiting us, Allen was talking about the relative advantages of getting shot vs. getting stabbed. He said he’d rather be shot. Maybe that’s why he looked so excited, before they tased him. After the shots hit–well, you can watch it and see for yourself. He said it really hurts.
      After Thanksgiving dinner, some of us went and hiked the loop–Allen, Paul, and myself. Coming down, by the beaver pond, I got all excited about some moose tracks on the road. I said, “Hey, look at the moose tracks!” Allen said, “Hey, look at the moose!” There were three of them, just ahead of us, next to the road, eating the bushes. We talked as loud as we could, so they’d run away. There wasn’t much chance they would stomp us, but we didn’t want to see.
      Last night, Nora and James and their kids came to the cabin, from Ogden. So it was round two of fun. They slept over and went home this morning, so now it’s quiet again, and we’re sort of bored. I laid some more sod on the sledding hill, probably the last for the year. I never thought I’d still be working on that hill! Usually we have snow before Thanksgiving. Who knows when winter will ever come?
      Last Saturday was my duet recital at Riverton Music, and Robyn Noel had her students play, too. Her Dad played Jurassic Park with her, which was really cool. All the Fulton kids and the McGettigan kids were splendid. Jana McGettigan showed up without her wig, and her new hair is very short and very curly. Jana and Robyn and Stacy Menlove and I played the March Militaire quartet. It was so much fun, I wanted to do it all over again. In fact, the whole recital was so much fun, I wished we could do it again.
      Dad and I are having a Christmas Music open house again this year, probably December 18th. So start rehearsing. You can sing, play the piano, eat cookies, play the kazoo, whatever you and your kids want to do. We’ll invite my piano students and some ward members, too. If you have any friends who want to come, they’re also invited.
      I’m really excited about all the other Christmas fun coming up, too. Love to all, Mom

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Dear Kids,
      Allen just called a little while ago, asking for Dad. He wanted to talk to him about a UTA hit-and-run in Centerville. Seems the bus turned around in someone’s driveway, and took out their mailbox. UTA settled for $2,000, to pay for the new mailbox. Hey, they can turn around in our driveway anytime! I think our mailbox is worth even more than that!
      If you look on Nora’s blog, you can read about the Kamas Turkey Trot. She and Kim cleaned up on the prizes! It was Saturday morning, at the fitness center. Kim did a 5k loop around Kamas, and Nora did a 1-mile walk on the track, pushing Stu in his stroller. Nora won second for her age group, and brought home a pumpkin pie. Kim took third, so she didn’t win any official prizes, but she brought home armloads of leftover treats–potato chips, go-gurts, fruit . . . all of it free. It didn’t even cost them anything to enter the race. What a deal! Our tax dollars at work, I guess. Maybe we all oughta join in next year.
      Grandma is doing great with her new knee. She even had the energy to escape from Berkshire, the rehab center. It was like a prison. I should have wondered why they didn’t have phones in the rooms! Her therapist was downright sadistic, not letting her have pain meds before her therapy, or oxygen during the sessions. He wouldn’t let any visitors watch what he was doing. Grandma says he seemed to enjoy hurting people. She asked him what he was so angry about, and he said it was his ex-wife. He was working on another man in the room, and when the man complained, the therapist said he would have to get used to it, because he was stuck there. Then Grandma told him, “Well, I’m not stuck here!” She checked out and got herself moved to Orchard, the place that Justin runs. Her new therapist is very gentle. She’s making good progress, and should be out in a few more days. We’re hoping that she and Grandpa can have Thanksgiving with us at the cabin.
      I spent Tuesday in Orem, taking Grandpa back and forth to Orchard to visit Grandma. My brother Mark showed up there, and we talked for a while. I asked him about his divorce. (Most of you know that he and Heather have been separated for several weeks.) He said it’s a done deal. They did the quick kind, where you don’t divide things up. If you have problems later, you go back to court. But it’s all pretty sad. Heather is going out with her old high school boyfriend. She’s even bringing him to Thanksgiving dinner at her mom’s house. Mark is going to Boise with Katie’s family.
      If you check “Tom’s Photo Gallery” on our home page, you’ll see that he put up a slideshow from October conference. There are some great pictures of kids smashing the pinata. We’ve gotta have the cutest grandkids in the world! Some of the adults are pretty cute, too. Only trouble with Tom’s slideshows is, we don’t see Tom! So that’s what happens when you’re the official photographer.
      I guess we won’t see many of you for Thanksgiving, but Christmas will be great! We’ll put out more details when it gets closer.
      Lots of love, Mom

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Dear Kids,
      We’re having such beautiful weather, I decided to put up our Christmas lights. Xena helped me. She head-butted me while I was sitting on the roof, close to the edge. No matter, I got the lights up. Usually I wait until it’s so cold my fingers can hardly work the plastic clips. This year I’m totally organized. My catalogs are piled up. I’m makin’ a list, and checkin’ it twice. I’m totally psyched about Christmas.
      Speaking of which, Missy sent me the following gift exchange list, to pass on to all you guys. Here it is: ADULTS: John and Heather give to Allen and Missy; Nora and James give to Monica and Neil; Vanessa and Trent give to Donna and Bevan; Tom and Kim give to Sharon and Seth; Allen and Missy give to Paul; Monica and Neil give to John and Heather; Donna and Bevan give to Nora and James; Sharon and Seth give to Vanessa and Trent; Paul gives to Tom and Kim
      KIDS: Julie gives to Meg; Jacob → Stewart; Aaron → Ben; Aubrey → Paige; Addie → Aubrey; Ben → Sterling; Paige → Charlie; Stewart → Bentley; Sterling → Ellie; Sarah → Ali; Meg → Jacob; Bentley → Julie; Emma → Matthew; Ali → Carson; Carson → Emma; Ellie → Addie; Charlie → Sarah; Matthew → Aaron
      Thanks to those of you who have put Halloween pictures of your kids on the blogs. It makes it so easy for me to get the photos for my scrapbooks! I can’t believe how cute all the costumes were! I think everybody had fun, too, especially Tom’s kids. They went to Heber to trick or treat with John’s kids. Then, after they had made their haul, they sat down to trade. Naturally Jacob had to trade away all his chocolate, and Bentley got it. (I’m sure Bentley was glad to trade off his Laffy Taffy and dum dums.) So Bentley ended up with nearly 100% candy bars. I’ll have to go to the cabin and sift through his stuff. See if he still has any Kit Kats or Almond Joys.
      Monica says that it’s starting to cool off in Tucson. She did a “Tin Man” triathalon, (as opposed to the “Iron Man” variety) where you swim less, bike less, and run less. She said it was lots of fun, in spite of the hard core types who were taking it very seriously. She also reports that Ramona is still out of control. Why am I not surprised?
      I had a phone call from Jeanne a couple of days ago, and she’s coming to Utah after Thanksgiving to do various errands. We’re going to pick her up at the airport. Can you believe it’s been more than a year since they moved to Canada? Melissa is moving back to her old neighborhood in South Jordan, so she can live with the next-door neighbors and graduate from Bingham High. Jeanne also reports that Mike and Moka are expecting a baby in March. I still can’t see Richard and Jeanne as grandparents. They’re just kids themselves!
      Grandma seems to be recovering OK from her knee surgery, at least so far. She’s in a rehab place called Berkshire, at 370 West 500 North in Orem. I’m sure she’d appreciate any visits.
      Lots of love to all you wonderful kids and kids-in-law and grandkids! Mom

Friday, November 2, 2007

Dear Kids,
      Halloween was a blast. I love how it goes on for days and days. We didn’t get to see Al and Missy’s kids on Halloween, so they came over last night, with their costumes on. We still had trick or treat candy! Our neighborhood has gotten really weird, as far as trick or treating goes. On Halloween night, we had a batch of about 25 Polynesian kids (the grandkids of the older couple across the street,) all in one group, with their pillowcases and plastic pumpkins. And then there were just a few more, here and there. The McGettigans and Fultons always indulge us by stopping by and letting us take their pictures. (Tyler McGettigan was Harry Potter. All he needed was the scar on his forehead added on–the rest was authentic Tyler.) So Halloween night was pretty quiet. Nora brought her kids to our house on Halloween afternoon, and I gave them candy and took their pictures. Tom and Kim were taking their kids to Heber, so I asked Tom to take pictures of his own kids and John’s, and put them up on his blog. For me, it’s all about the pictures. Vanessa, I hope we’ll get some pictures of your kids. Sharon, I’m sure you’ll put some up on your blog.
      Grandma Allen is having knee surgery this morning. She’s really optimistic this time. Naturally we all need to pray for her anyway. Yesterday I spent a few hours with her, taking her to the hospital for her pre-op tests, and then to get her hair done. I’ve never met her hairdresser, Joyce, but I’ve heard about her for years, so it was fun to sit there in the salon and watch her work. She knows everything about my brothers and sisters–all the dirt! More than I even would put in the family letter! Wow.
      It looks like we’ll be having a quiet Thanksgiving. Allen’s family is coming to the cabin for sure, and hopefully Grandma and Grandpa, if Grandma is OK to travel by then. Maybe we’ll have Tom and Kim. Vanessa–we haven’t heard from you, so I assume you guys are staying in Pocatello. Or going to some exotic vacation destination. And Paul . . . we hope you’re not going to some girlfriend’s house instead of coming home. So there won’t be very many of us. But it will still be fun.
      And Christmas is coming up fast, too. We’ll be having our usual day-after-Christmas sledding party at the cabin, on December 26th. (Who could believe Halloween is over and we’re already thinking about Christmas?) Nora and James are going to be Mary and Joseph in their ward’s Christmas Pageant. Little Stu is going to be the baby Jesus. Stu is the only baby in their ward, so he gets lots of attention. I’m sure he’ll be great in the pageant, not crying. (Of course the real baby Jesus never cried. We know that from the songs.)
      I don’t have any other news this week. Nothing fit to print, as the old saying goes.
      Lots of love, Mom

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Dear Kids,
      Can you believe Allen is in the news AGAIN?! He made a traffic stop in Centerville, and it solved at least nine crimes. Here’s the info from the Deseret News (October 20): Patrol officer Allen Ackerson stopped a 1999 Jeep Cherokee after it ran a stop sign Thursday morning. The car had expired dealer plates. Ackerson discovered the vehicle had been reported stolen earlier that day from NorthStar Auto in South Salt Lake. Inside the vehicle were numerous credit applications that had also been taken from the same dealership. The driver was also suspected of being under the influence of methamphetamine and possessed methamphetamine and marijuana. Burglary tools, about 100 car keys, a forged check taken in a burglary and drug scales and other drug paraphernalia were also found in the car. The driver was also driving on a revoked license and had two outstanding warrants for his arrest.”
      So there it is. Supercop Allen solves multiple crimes in one swoop. Way to go, Al!
      We had both Donna and Paul here for the weekend, or at least part of it. Paul came home for a wedding reception, and he went to the BYU game with Donna on Saturday. Donna was a deer-hunter widow for the weekend–that’s why she had the BYU tickets. They got cold and wet at the game, but they still came home cheerful. Meanwhile, Bevan was down in Huntington canyon, camping out with his Dad, waiting for that big buck. Which finally came along on Monday. Go, Bevan! Actually, he said, there were a lot of deer, and very few hunters. Probably because it was snowing and raining. Donna uncovered one of life’s big questions before Bevan left on the hunt, while he was getting ready. She wondered why hunters wear camouflage, supposedly to hide, but they also wear orange vests and hats, to be seen. Bevan had the perfect answer: “That’s just what we do.”
      I just got an e-mail from Bonnie that she wants me to pass on: The Seville has planned a fun Halloween party with food and games this coming Saturday (the 27th) at 3:00. All residents grandchildren (and greatgrandchildren) are invited. Mom and Dad would really love to see the kids in their costumes. Also, on Halloween night mom and dad will be at Lauries house for the evening, so maybe if you can't make the party, you could come say hi to them at Jacobsons. Laurie’s address is: 883 West 1720 North, Orem. Her phone number is: 801 221 2684.
      Grandma is going to have knee surgery on November 2nd. (This is the other knee, not the one she’s had done two times before.) We’re hoping it will give her some relief from the knee pain she’s having now. It hurts so much she can’t walk, so she has to go to the dining room in a wheelchair. Grandpa pushes her. He seems to have lots of energy these days, which we’re really happy to see.
      Grandma and I are finally working in earnest on the ancestor stories. I’m totally lost in the 19th century, with people and stories swirling around in my brain. So if I don’t return your phone calls or answer your e-mail, you can blame it on the ancestors. We’ll have a couple of pretty cool books for you when we get finished, whenever that is.
      Lots of love to you all, Mom

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Dear Kids,
      Wahoo! Another grandbaby on the way! Congratulations to Vanessa and Trent! They’re having a girl, and she’s due on February 18th. Yep, Vanessa is already five months along. You can barely tell, even if you look closely. So, counting back, Vanessa did her triathalon when she was 10 weeks along. What an iron woman! And what about that Ogden Marathon? It was in May. Well, if there’s anybody tougher than Vanessa, I’d like to know.
      Little Stuart’s baby blessing on Sunday was lots of fun. I don't know how the rest of the meeting went, because right after the blessing, I took Paige out into the hall, and then outside, where we walked around. During Sunday School time I went to Nora’s Gospel Essentials class, and then I got Paige again (that child of woe!) We went into the nursey, where we found Vanessa with Meg. So we had fun. (Later that night, I was talking to my sister Bonnie on the phone, and she reminded me how they always divided up our kids. She said she always got Tom and Allen. Funny, it’s all a blur to me now.) The after-party, at Nora and James’s house, was great. Good food. Lots of people. It’s always fun to see the old Teton friends, Dave Mikkelson, and Robyn and Dave Noel. I wish I had Teton friends.
      But I’m not completely friendless. Tuesday I went bike riding along the Jordan River Parkway with Kathy Montoya. We wanted to ride over the new pedestrian bridge at 39th South, but they were working on it, so we crossed in the traffic. But the trail going south from there is really nice! We had perfect weather, too. Say, if anybody wants to ride on that Parkway trail for family home evening sometime, count us in! You can even haul your bikes in our truck. After our ride, Kathy and I went shopping at Savers and tried on clothes. I got a great polyester blouse.
      My sod project at the cabin is really coming along! The sod is creeping up the hill! However, winter is creeping up on us, but hopefully there will be at least a couple more weekends when I can work on it. Getting the sod has been easy, so far. Donna pitched it to her boss as a “reclamation” project, and he’s willing to let us have everything they don’t use. Bentley and Emma help me dig up the dirt and rake it out. Tom and Bevan have helped me haul the sod where we need it. No wonder it’s going so well!
      And, more news about me: I had my first voice lesson this morning, from Angi Evans. She showed me how to breathe, and then she had me sing up and down the keyboard, doing strange things with my mouth. She says I need more volume, but up until now, I’ve always tried to sing as softly as possible, so I won’t annoy anybody. She showed me how to use my diaphragm to project my voice, but I realized I’ve done that all my life, hollering down the stairs to wake kids up in the morning. So I’m halfway there.
      Is anybody making plans for Thanksgiving yet? We get Grandpa and Grandma Allen this year, so that might help you make up your minds. It will be our usual mad brawl at the cabin.
      Lots of Love, Mom

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Dear Kids,
     Congratulations to Donna! She just got her scores from the licensing test she took last month, and of course she passed! She and Bevan are gong to celebrate by having dinner at the Spring Chicken Inn tonight. There's another part of the test that Donna has to take in December, but I'm sure she'll ace that one, too.
      Now here's something surprising: I’m going to take singing lessons! You don’t believe it? Ask Angi Evans. Her display at the Relief Society service auction advertised “Ten Voice Lessons.” When I saw that, I quit thinking about the two Marie Callender pies on the next table, and decided to put all my money on the voice lessons. (I’ve always wanted to do this, but when I was younger, I wouldn’t have dared.) I’m not sure who I was bidding against, but I kept piling on the money, and I won! My first lesson will be next Wednesday night. I’m very excited.
      Dad and I are readjusting to ordinary life, after our trip to Florida. I guess ordinary life is OK. I’m glad we don’t have so many insects here in Utah. I don’t know what bit us in Florida, but the itching goes on for days. After you’ve scratched off the scabs, you’re still itching, so you scratch some more and get new scabs. Other than the insects, we really loved the Keys. I uploaded some pictures onto Ackerson.org, from the link on our main page, under the picture of Dad and me.
      Conference weekend was great! We enjoyed having so many of you at the cabin. I wasn’t sure how Dad felt about the high level of excitement, from so many kids, but on the way home, he said he wouldn’t trade that for anything in the world. By the way, I’ve had fun showing off the Mike Rogers picture of our whole big family. I took it to my mission reunion Sunday night, and passed it around. There were gasps of amazement.
      Wedding news: Michael Allen married his fiancĂ©, Moka (a nickname for Margaret, I think) in California. According to Jeanne, they eloped. Moka has two kids, so that makes Rich and Jeanne . . . . . GRANDPARENTS! Congratulations to everybody!
      More interesting wedding news: Megan Kumar, in our ward, who Paul went on a date with last spring, is getting married. No, she isn’t marrying Paul–she’s traveling to India for an arranged marriage! (Her dad is from India, so you could say it’s part of her heritage.) Isn’t that wild! Evidently her dad set it up. She went to India for the engagement, and met the man, and we hear that he’s young and good looking. Go, Megan!
      Since today is Thursday, I’m leaving in a few minutes to go visit Grandma and Grandpa at the Seville. (What a fun place! I hope Dad and I can afford to live like that when we get old!) Last time I was there, we talked about Thanksgiving. It’s our turn to have Grandma and Grandpa, and they’re planning to come to the cabin. So you all know where to come this year! (It’s OK if it’s your turn at the in-laws, however.)
      We’re also looking forward to Nora and James’s baby blessing this Sunday. I think Nora has contacted all of you, and their sacrament meeting is at 9:00. They’re planning on eating after the block.
      What a great family! I love your blogs and your pictures. I love talking to you on the phone. Nobody ever had it so good! Mom

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Dear Kids,
     Dad and I are having a great time here in the Florida Keys. We started out Friday afternoon from Miami, in a rental car (Dodge Caliber, very sporty) and drove to the John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park. Our camping spot was about 6 feet wide, in between two motor homes, but I think Dad felt safer from Alligators. (more later.) The next morning we went to K-Mart to get all the stuff we forgot, and then we went swimming in the ocean (Atlantic side.) It's weird here in the Keys--there are places where you can swim in the Gulf of Mexico, and then you run across the parking lot and jump into the Atlantic. Not that we've been doing much of that, because there's been lots of wind since Sunday. The snorkel expeditions have been shut down. They say it's the outer edges of a hurricane that's landing in Jacksonville, but we don't have access to any news, so we don't know.
     Saturday afternoon we drove south on the Overseas Highway, which has always been dad's ambition, all the way to Key West. What a weird and fun town! Monica, we can totally picture you there. Neil, too. People ride around on bikes and scooters, since there's practically no place to park in the old part of town. But the area is overrun with chickens! You might be eating in a very nice restaurant, which we were doing Saturday night, and a chicken walks in and starts pecking around your feet. There are lots of stray cats, too, which sit around and glare at the chickens. And lots of T-shirt shops and bars. There's a boardwalk where everybody watches the sunset, with jugglers, fire eaters, and other attractions. And more cats and chickens.
     We stayed Saturday night at Sunday night at the KOA campground on Sugarloaf Key. Hey, if anybody is planning a trip down here, Dad and I are becoming experts on Florida campgrounds. It's definitely the cheapest accommodations in the Keys. They all have electricity and hot showers, and you might be in a nice motel, except that you're bedding down in a tent at night. The tent we borrowed from Donna and Bevan is perfect for the tropics! It's mesh, and the breeze blows through at night, and it feels very good. This is the first camping I've ever done where I never got cold. Sometimes it's even warmer at night than in the daytime. Very weird.
     Sunday we went to church in the Key West Branch, and then we wandered around the Island some more. We took pictures of ourselves and the Buoy that says, "90 miles to Cuba," very famous. We also took pictures of ourselves and Milepost 0 on Highway 1. And we ate Key lime pie. (very gritty.) Monday we headed north from Sugarloaf Key, and we stopped on Big Pine Key, where there's a famous nature preserve. Lots of Key Deer, which are weird little animals with faces like baby calves. We went on a nature hike that took us to a pond where they key deer are supposed to come and drink. We didn't see any deer, but there was an alligator in the pond. He swam over to see if we were going to feed him. Hey, if you thought Dad was afraid of dogs, ask him about alligators! He took a few pictures of this evil-looking guy, and then we were out of there!
     Today, Tuesday, we're headed north again. We crossed a bridge 7 miles long that connects two Keys. We walked miles out onto the old bridge, and watched pelicans. And saw a plaque where a 93-year-old lady evidently jumped to her death, because it said she was "resting with the stingrays." The Keys are nothing if not weird.
     We miss you all! We're learning lots about Florida, so if anybody wants to camp down here, we'll have lots of advice. Meanwhile, we hope you're all "Doin' great and lovin' it."
     Love, Mom

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Dear Kids,
      I’m up late tonight, but I’m too excited to sleep, anyway. Dad and I are leaving early tomorrow morning for Florida. Our home teacher (Eric Fleischel) is picking us up at 4:30 am. Yeah, it’s a crazy hour, but you know about those cheap flights! And we’re just about ready to go! We have Donna and Bevan’s tent, a queen size air mattress, and some bedding, besides our clothes and other stuff. Dave Noel arranged for our car rental in Miami, and I mapped out the closest Walmart to the airport, so we can stock up on travel food before we head south to the Keys. I’ve made reservations at three campgrounds, for the first four nights. I even looked at the campgrounds on Google Earth! I located the LDS church on Key West, and found out their meeting times on Sunday. I have three travel books about Florida from the library, and lots of people have given us advice. So I think we’re ready to go!
      I’m leaving behind lots of fun projects, but they’ll still be here when we get back. Donna got me a pallet of dead sod, which was actually pretty green, for the sledding hill at the cabin. Last Saturday I laid it all. (It only went about a fourth of the way up the hill.) Bentley helped me, with his little rake and shovel (in between sessions with his batting machine, which was in between hitting golf balls.) Since then, Donna got another half pallet, but she says she can put it down. This so-called dead sod is easy to come by, because clients who pay $150,000 to have their yards landscaped only want beautiful green grass. All the better for us!
      Speaking of the cabin, they’ve already had snow there! Check out Tom’s blog! You can see that winter is on the way!
      My brother Richard left a car at our house, for us to sell. It’s a 1999 Mercury Sable. Richard says our neighborhood is the perfect place to sell it. We don’t have the title yet, so Dad has been driving it to work every day, instead of riding his bike. I don’t blame him, since it’s getting pretty cold in the mornings.
      Richard and Diedre Tregaskis had a baby girl, Abigail, on Sept. 26th . She weighed 6 lbs, 9 oz., was 20" long, and looks like Diedre. They are thrilled to finally have a baby.
      We’re hoping to see at least some of you at the cabin on conference weekend! I’ll be fixing Sunday dinner, and we’ll eat about 12:30, after the morning session. Let me know if you plan to be there, so I can make enough food.
      Lots of love, Mom (the Florida Travel Queen.)

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Dear Kids,
      I spent a couple of hours at Nora’s house today, helping her hang pictures and shelves on the walls. They painted just before Stuart was born, and there’s new carpet (like mine, or I guess mine is like theirs. You know, the brown shag from the seventies.) Anyway, we had fun hanging things up, and eating cookie dough. James has a new way of making chocolate chip cookies: you make the dough into balls, but instead of cooking them, you freeze them in a plastic bag. We ate so many that I had to make another batch. I think I’ll make all my cookies this way now.
      Donna was here for a couple of days, taking her licensing test. She said it was really hard. She won’t know if she passed for several weeks, because they have to evaluate the scores and then grade on a curve. I guess they make up a new test every year, (why else would it cost $700?) so they don’t know if the questions were too hard or too easy. Donna says they were too hard. But her boss paid for the test, so she won’t mind taking it again if she needs to.
      Last Sunday afternoon Boyd Ackerson came by! I know, he hasn’t been to our house since 1993, but he’s on a road trip to South Dakota (Little House on the Prairie Country) and it was great to visit with him. He’s an investment accountant and lives in a nice house that he owns in Washington. I asked him if he wanted to come back to Utah in the winter and go snowboarding with us, and he said maybe we could pull his leg and get him to do it. So we set a date: February 2nd. Groundhog Day. We’re going to get Jesse to come, too.
      Ward news: We received a wedding invitation for David Higham. Yep, David, the younger one. Not Daniel, the older one. Who would’ve thought? He’s getting married October 5th in the Salt Lake Temple. Sharon, didn’t you used to babysit those boys?
      Other ward news: Jana McGettigan is starting to have her hair grow back again. She lifted up her wig and showed me a little fringe of curly pixie hair along her forehead. She said she needs to wait until she has more hair on top, so she can do something with it, before she goes out in public without her wig.
      Sunday night, the 23rd, at 6:30, there’s a birthday party for Grandpa Allen at the Tregaskis home. Nancy is serving ice cream and cake. She said any of you kids are welcome to come, if you want to. You probably don’t need to bring Grandpa any presents, since they’ve had to give away so much of their stuff. But I’m sure he would love to see any of you.
      Hope you’re all doin’ great and lovin’ it! Mom

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Dear Kids,
      I’m visiting Grandma and Grandpa at the Seville this morning. We walked Grandma to the beauty shop to have her hair done, and then Grandpa and I went down to the 2nd floor game room to check out the magical ice cream machine. Naturally we both had to put money in, just for the fun of watching it work, and then of course we had to eat the ice cream. There’s a pool table there in the game room, and Grandpa racked up the balls, and we played. He’s really good! I had never played before, but still I managed to get a few balls in the pockets. Grandma and Grandpa seem to be settling in pretty well here. Their house hasn’t sold yet, so they’ve dropped the price to $329,000. It’s being painted right now, and Bonnie says they might have to put in new carpet, but she thinks it will sell pretty soon. Lots of people are interested–they’re probably just waiting for the right price.
      Speaking of buying and selling, the Harvard Classics topped out at $152.50 on e-bay. It was really exciting, watching the price go up in the last few seconds. Dad and I were at the cabin, and I was watching the end of the bid on one of Tom’s laptops. Tom was watching on the other one. We both kept hitting our refresh buttons, and the price kept jumping up. I had no idea anybody wanted those books so badly! When I was little, we used them like bricks to build our playhouse. It’s a miracle they weren’t totally beaten up. Well, now I’m so excited about e-bay, I’ve listed another set of old books that’s been on our shelves for years, “A Picturesque Tale of Progress.” The last full set went for $102.00. And then there’s “My Book House,” which went for $162.00. It sure beats sending them to the D.I.
      Little Stuart James Mair seems to be doing fine. He turned a little yellow, so they’ve been putting him in the sun, on the floor in Ben’s room, for a little while every day. Addie and Ben supervise, to make sure he’s OK. Paige isn’t sure about this whole new development in her little life. She thought the status quo was just fine, when she was the baby. Too bad this little upstart had to arrive.
      Donna’s been studying hard for her landscape architect’s licensing test, which she’ll be taking on Tuesday and Wednesday of next week. She’s been reading books like “Construction Contracting,” about 500 pages of small print that doesn’t have much to do with landscaping, but she says she needs to know it all. I’m sure she’ll do fine. Tom has been knocking his head against a brick wall, trying to pass a computer-networking competency test. His boss says it takes several tries. Tom has a good attitude, though, and he says he’s learning a lot. He’ll surprise himself and pass one of these days.
      I’m in the market for some dead sod. Donna thinks we can get some from Park City nursery, since they usually just throw it away. Only now that I need it, there hasn’t been any for a while. I want to use it at the cabin, on the sledding hill, for erosion control. I know they make erosion batting, but this would be thicker and cheaper. And the deer would like walking on it better.
      Dad and I are leaving for Florida on September 28th and coming back October 4th. So we’ll be here for conference weekend. We hope to see at least some of you then, if not before.
      Lots of love, Mom

Friday, September 7, 2007

Dear Kids,
      Great News! Stuart James Mair was born yesterday afternoon at 2:48 pm. He weighed 8 lbs. 6 oz., and is 20½ inches long. You can see his picture on Nora’s Blog: http://mairmania.blogspot.com/. During Nora’s labor, James had his laptop in the room, and uploaded pictures during the day. Now that’s technology!
      Other baby news: Amy Tregaskis Anson had her baby on August 31st. He weighed 7/8, was 20“ long, and they said he looks a lot like Caleb. They’ve named him Jacob David Anson. Katie Rickett Raymond also had her baby (boy) on the 31st, or maybe the 30th. She wanted to have him before the school-year deadline, so she was induced. It was a long labor, and they finally did a C-section, but at least he made it before the deadline. Let’s hope she doesn’t change her mind in five years and hold him back, after all that trouble.
      Andrea Hill came by last Sunday! They’re home from China, settled in St. George, and she’s loving America. Little things like driving a car, sending her kid to public school (it would cost $20,000 a year to send him to an English-speaking school in China), things like that. The only thing she really misses about China is her full-time maid, who only cost $200 a month, and taught her Chinese besides. Andrea came by our house to get some bar stools that she had ordered from Diamond Mattress in Salt Lake, where Renae has an account. I had picked them up for her on Friday, because the place wasn’t open on weekends. Besides getting the bar stools, Andrea wanted to know how all of you were doing, so I showed her ackerson.org. She was delighted. She said every family should have a web site. Rachel said the same thing a couple of weeks ago, when we were in Albuquerque. She said, “I need information!” and I told her there was more than she could every possibly read. She didn’t think so. But, Vanessa, she was disappointed that you don’t have a blog. Andrea was, too. Couldn’t you please get on the bandwagon! Monica and Neil, it’s so easy! I would really like to see pictures of you! John? Paul? It only takes a few minutes to upload that all-important “information” that Rachel was so excited about.
      I’ve had lots of fun on e-bay lately. It’s even more fun than Half.com, because you have the excitement of watching your stuff go up in price. I listed the old set of Harvard Classics that I got from Grandma and Grandpa about 30 years ago. They’re not in very good shape, so my ad said, “If you want to really read the Harvard Classics, and not just put them on a shelf, this is the set for you!” I also included a picture of them, sitting on the white shelves, with beanie babies just above. There have been several bids, and now they’re up to $51.00, plus postage. I’ll be glad to send them to a good home. I also discovered the fun of using CraigsList, where I sold two mountain bikes that dad won at UTA, which were sort of cheaply-made, and too small for us. I listed them as “Two for the price of one–$49.00" The price was probably way too low, because we had dozens of calls. But at least I sold them! It’s not about the money, but just the excitement of making a sale! I probably missed my calling in life!
      I have the pictures from Mike Rogers. They really turned out great! I’ll sort them out and get them to you all.
      Live is good! Lots of love, Mom

Friday, August 31, 2007

Dear Kids,
      I just received a flyer in the mail from Utah Opera, and finally, they’re doing my favorite operas again! “The Flying Dutchman” in October, “Tosca” in January, and “Don Giovanni” in May. It’s enough to win me back! Dad and I will be going to “The Flying Dutchman” on Saturday night, October 13th. If any of you want tickets, let me know.
      Our trip to Albuquerque was a great success! Ben’s new house is beautiful, just west of the Rio Grande River, by the bosque (Spanish for “forest,” but it’s mostly cottonwood trees, mesquite, and tamarisk.) There’s lots of wildlife: roadrunners, bunnies, and Ben’s cat, Captain Jack, who’s a vicious hunter. But I mellowed him out with catnip. Ben and Monica took us on a long walk along the river, and they fed us well. We had lots of fun visiting with Rachel and Chuck DeBuck and their charming little boys, and Monica’s sons, and Steven, who was getting ready to go back to BYU. Grandma and Grandpa stayed in motel across the river, so we drove across the bridge lots of times. Saturday afternoon, we went to the Albuquerque temple. All together, it was a great trip. Coming home on Monday, we stopped in Price to eat at the Chinese Buffett. Dad remarked that we were bound to see someone we knew, and sure enough, Karl Bentley came in, with his friend, Dave Evans. Karl said to say “hi” to everybody.
      Nora got new carpet this week, and since I’d seen her samples, and I knew she’d done all the shopping around, I just called the carpet place and asked if they could put the same thing in our living room, when they finished Nora’s house. (I painted last February, but I got stalled on the carpet.) So these two Mexicans came the same afternoon and started to work. Trouble was, they were using carpet pad left over from lots of different jobs, and they were different thicknesses. I made them rip it out, and in fact, I helped them, practicing Spanish on them. They came back the next day with new pad, and did the whole job in an hour. Naturally I watched every single thing they did. It turned out great. It’s brown shag! Just like 1977, when we moved in! Nora says her house looks really good, too. Now that the carpet’s in, she can have the baby any time.
      Dad and I were riding our bikes around the neighborhood Tuesday night, and we stopped to talk to Paul Barbuto. Their property is overrun with animals, and he let us feed the horse, the burro, and the llama. I asked him about Peep and Scooter, since it’s been two years since we gave them to C.C. Paul said one of them died. He thought it was Peep. But he says the one who is still alive is very friendly, and always chirps at him when he comes into the room. So I’m betting it’s Peep that’s still alive, and Scooter who died. Peep’s 14 years old, and Scooter would have been at least 17. Those love birds live forever!
      Our house is quiet, now that Paul has gone to Logan. Actually, Paul was never that noisy, but we do miss him. And all the rest of you, who we don’t get to see as often as we like.
      Lots of love, Mom

Friday, August 24, 2007

Dear Kids,
      I’m writing this letter from our motel room at the Days Inn in Monticello. We’re on our way to Albuquerque with Grandma and Grandpa Allen, and we got here last night about ten o’clock. So far, everything has gone really well. Grandpa and Grandma are in great shape–not worn out at all from their move to the Seville. In fact, Grandpa is looking better than he has in the last couple of years. Grandma says he’s eating more now than he ever did at home (well, three meals a day in a dining room, with interesting people to talk to) and Grandma is really energized, too. Their lives are so much simpler now, not having to worry about their house and yard and utility bills and appliances breaking down. If they can ever get disconnected from Comcast, (who won’t let them go) their lives will be perfect.
      We’re driving a rental car! Who would’ve thought! Dad wasn’t sure the Windstar, with its 230,000 miles, could make it. (I had no qualms.) Dave Noel (Robyn’s husband, Nora and James’s friend,) works for Enterprise car rental, and he got us a fantastic deal on a Hyundai minivan. It’s lots of fun to drive. It was even more fun picking it up. I rode my bike across town to the Trax station, took Trax to 7200 South, and rode over to State Street to the rental office. They were surprised when I pulled up on my bike, but Dave helped me load it into the car for the trip back home. It was an adventure. And much quicker than taking the bus over there.
      So we’re on our way. We plan to be in Albuquerque by the middle of the afternoon, stay till Sunday afternoon, and then drive back over two days. Grandma and Grandpa are great traveling companions, of course. They rave about the beautiful scenery, pull out travel treats, talk about interesting things, and of course Grandpa is always pulling out his wallet. It couldn’t be better.
      Back home, Paul is packing up to go to Logan. Donna and Bevan are driving him there on Sunday night. He’s had a good summer, earned a lot of money, and is ready for the next part of his life.
      Sharon ran a 10k, and you can read all about it on her blog. She has some cute pictures up. She doesn’t even look tired! Go, Sharon
      Shaylin Parker got married last Friday, and we had a lot of fun at her reception, in our church cultural hall. We milled around and talking to people who’ve moved away, like the Feveryears. We recognized a lot of the young people, too. Scott Dansie told me to say hi to Sharon and Donna. It was a nice reception, but it made me tired to look at all the work they had done. I was glad we weren’t going to have to clean it up.
      I went to the cabin Tuesday, and stayed till Wednesday, which was Emma’s birthday. Kim decorated with balloons and streamers, and there was a pile of presents on the coffee table. Kim made a cute castle cake, but I had to go home before the official party. Too bad. You know how I wrote that all my grass seed and topsoil washed away in the big storm? Well, enough was left behind, because now there’s green grass in the spot I had given up on. Our front yard at home is also starting to look green, because the fescue seed I planted didn’t all get eaten up by the birds. Life is good!
      Lots of love, Mom

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Dear Kids,
      We finished moving Grandma and Grandpa into the Seville today, and I think they’ll be really happy there. They have a great room with a view looking west into the sunset, and a balcony big enough for a couple of resin chairs and a cat. Then, there’s all the amenities: besides three meals a day, they have bus service to Walmart and the temple, movie nights, a library, a beauty shop, church right there, and a game room with a pool table and the coolest ice cream machine ever. You put in a dollar, and there’s a window where you can look inside and see the lid of the freezer chest open up, and a robotic arm picks up your ice cream and drops it down the slot. I bought two different ice cream bars, it was so much fun to watch. That was after I finished putting together their new computer desk, and set up their computer system. But Dad’s still got to tweak it, so we’ll go back Sunday night. I’m sure they’ll love to have you visit them, probably more than ever now. They’re in room 310. And if you want to send them mail, their new address is 325 West Center Street #310, Orem, Utah, 84057. They’ll have the same phone number, but a new e-mail address.
      Meanwhile, their house is up for sale. It’s listed for $359,000, and at least two older couples have already walked through it. One older man was measuring the rooms, last time I went there. So I’m guessing it'll sell pretty quickly. And Bonnie is selling their car. And I’ve sold a few of their books on half.com–the ones nobody chose. But I made Grandpa keep all his Louis L’Amour books. I bought him one of those under-the-bed rolling totes, and packed them up for him.
      Meanwhile, here at home, I planted our front yard with new lawn seed, (a low-moisture, low-maintenance fescue,) and the next day about a thousand birds landed all at once and started pecking at the seeds. I ran outside and chased them away, but the next day, they were back again. (Donna says I need to buy a scarecrow at IFA, but I don’t know if any seed is left to sprout.) Somehow, I haven’t had the greatest luck with planting lawn seed lately.
      Other news: Amy and David Anson are moving to St. Louis, where David is going to be in charge of the temple grounds. He’s been the assistant grounds supervisor at the Timpanogos Temple, and he’s designed a lot of the plantings, so I guess they were impressed with his work. Amy and Dave are pretty excited about the move. Judd and Jackie just barely moved to St. Louis, where Judd is starting medical school. What’s with St. Louis? Remember how Nora spent some time there waiting for her visa to Brazil? Some of our ancestors caught cholera there and died. I have a jacket from the Cosco there. Lots of St. Louis connections.
      My brain is giving me the “low-battery” message, but here’s one more thing: I’ve been collecting pictures off your blogs, to use in my photo albums. But I can’t get the ones you’ve put in slideshows. (Tom says they get changed into a special flash format, so you can’t download them.) So if you have really cool pictures I could use, I would really like it if you just uploaded them on your pages, the higher resolution the better. Thanks.
      I love you all! Mom

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Dear Kids,
      Before I forget, I need to get your orders for the Mike Rogers pictures. I’ll be calling you all by Friday, or maybe Saturday, if I haven’t heard from you. The prices are in my family letter of July 11th. If you’ll call me first, I won’t catch you at a bad time. Overall, I think the proofs are really great. Our family is so photogenic!
      It was fun seeing so many of you at the family reunion last Saturday! I think that slip-n-slide was a great idea! Who needs to rent a giant waterslide when you can have just as much fun on the cheap? Grandma was happy to see so many of you! She wants to keep having these one-day family reunions, every year, the first Saturday of August, same park. That way we all know what to plan on. That will make it August 2, 2008, just five days after our Ackerson reunion on July 28th. Sharon and Seth are planning to come, and hit both reunions. And maybe Monica and Neil? (Ramona, too? Can’t you just see us tossing her down the slip-n-slide?)
      Paul wants to point out that the August Ensign has a whole section on member missionary work in the Canada Vancouver mission. On page 55 is a picture of Beth Landry, who he confirmed after her baptism, and Erma, her mother. There are other pictures of people he knew, too. He did a lot of reminiscing, looking at the pictures.
      You want to see something funny? Two guys pumping up the tires of a sports car with a bicycle pump. That would be Dad and John, pumping up Johns MR3. We had it for more than a week, while John borrowed our truck. (I think Dad drove it to work every day, instead of riding his bike.) So when John came to trade the truck back, Dad noticed he’d let the tires on the sports car get a little low. So out came the bicycle pump. I should have taken a picture and posted it on our web site: “Successful eye doctor puts air in the tires of his sports car.” Well, it beats paying 50 cents at the gas station.
      Grandpa Allen had prostate surgery last Tuesday, and from what I hear, he’s doing well. According to my brother Ben, who knows everything about surgery, it should help him a lot. I hope it does, because Dad and I are still hoping to take Grandma and Grandpa to Albuquerque at the end of this month. We’ll have to see how it goes.
      Allen has a great new assignment in his job: starting in September, he’ll be the “officer friendly” at Centerville Junior High. Well, they have another name for it, but basically, he’ll be on duty there about 20 hours a week, Monday thru Friday. How cushy is that? The rest of the time, he’ll be out chasing bad guys, as usual. And, as usual, he was chosen over some other cops who have been there longer, and really wanted the job. Go, Al!
      I killed all the grass in our front yard with Roundup, so I could plant some low-moisture dwarf fescue. And now I can’t get the seed! High Country Gardens is out of it, and Granite Seed in Lehi didn’t know what I was talking about, when I called them. So our front yard looks kinda different. Well, not exactly. Half our neighborhood has dead lawn. I think it will always be hot. And my poor broken toes will always hurt. Otherwise, life is good.
      Love, Mom

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Dear Kids,
      Dad and I had a great time at the cabin last week. Dad worked at re-wiring the garage, and he found lots of dead mice in the insulation (which he removed.) My only goal was to get the rest of the front yard planted, so I worked nonstop for 3½ days, chopping up the ground, hauling topsoil, and raking in the seeds. By Thursday afternoon I was finished, and it looked great. All ready to grow. It only needed water. Which came that night in the most violent thunderstorm I’ve ever seen. (Not to be confused with the sort-of-violent storm we’d had Monday night.) Lightning flashed, thunder shook the cabin, and rain came down in sheets. It washed away all my seed and most of the topsoil. So I’m done for the year. I don’t have enough dirt to do all that again, and by the time I go back to the cabin, it’ll be too late in the year to plant. I’m sort of wondering, because I’d been hoping and praying for rain, like everybody else. So, did the Lord answer my prayer? It sure didn’t turn out very well for me.
      Friday evening, as Dad and I were packing up to leave the cabin, Tom showed us the spider bites on his foot. They were swollen and itchy, and he’d covered them with Caladryl. Things went downhill from then, and you can read all about it on his blog, how he started to develop necrosis and had to have it dug out, and his daily IV’s of antibiotics. His blog address is tom-kim-kids.blogspot.com. You can also see a gruesome picture of the hole in his foot. I thought only brown recluse spiders in the south caused that kind of trouble, but Vanessa says that hobo spiders can do the same thing. So watch out.
      Nora (and kids) and I drove to Pocatello Sunday night, and had a fun time staying over at Vanessa and Trent’s house. Monday we went to Lava Hot Springs, where they have a big outside pool with water slides, diving platforms, lots of grass–it’s a total family reunion destination. So naturally we planned a family reunion there for next summer. We’ve wanted to start having an annual Ackerson family reunion anyway, and it’s the perfect place. But weekends it’s totally jammed with people, so we’re going for a Monday, July 28th. Since it’s a whole year away, we hope you can all somehow arrange for that day off. We can try.
      And speaking of family reunions, naturally, we hope to see some of you this Saturday (August 4th) at Riverwoods Park in Provo/Orem. If any of you can’t remember how to get there, call me on my cell. The park is reserved from 8:30 am until 2:00 pm, and we’re supposed to bring our own lunches. (There’s a Subway close by.) I have no idea who all will be there.
      Grandma and Grandpa Allen have decided to move to the Seville instead of to Summerfield. Remember the Seville? We used to visit Grandma Murphy there. They have three meals a day instead of two, and a higher level of care. Also, they can move in next week. No waiting around for a room. They have church there, a hair salon, bus trips to the temple . . . it’ll be good.
      Paul is enjoying his job with Mygrant glass. At least he’s not outside. He drives a Ford F250 and delivers windshields to auto shops around the valley. He’s working on getting his forklift certification, too. Now there’s an important life skill!
      I’ll be calling you soon for your Mike Rogers orders. Or you can call me. We need to get it done! Life has been so busy!
      Lots of love, Mom

Friday, July 27, 2007

Dear Kids,
      Bonnie sent out an e-mail asking me to remind you about the family reunion-picnic on August 4th. She says: We have the Riverwoods park (this is the much improved nicer version of last year's park) across from the Riverwoods shopping area, (just west of University Avenue) for Sat. August 4th from 8:30 a.m.-2:00p.m. This will be very casual, no program, just bring your own lunch and visit. We will set up a slip and slide on the hill for anyone who wants to get wet, also a wading pool for the little ones. Hopefully we will have nice weather. Jane and Brendan will be here and I'm sure they would love to see as many of you as possible. See you in a couple of weeks!
      So that’s the word from Bonnie. I hope at least some of you can come. Dad and I will be there for sure.
      Our July 24th holiday was lots of fun, since we’re at the cabin this week. Bevan took off on his bike and rode around the Jordanelle Reservoir, 36 miles all together. (Donna had to work. Park City likes to snub its nose at the pioneers.) The rest of us went to the parade in Kamas, which lasted about 15 minutes. The floats are sponsored by the various wards, and they all throw candy. Or otter pops. Behind every float, there are kids on bikes, and moms pushing strollers. Bentley rode his bike behind the Francis 2nd ward float, and Kim pushed Emma and carried Ali in a sling. John’s family was there, too, just for the fun of it, and Heather pushed Aubrey in a stroller while Jacob and Aaron rode their bikes. Now that’s my kind of parade! When it reached the end of town, it turned around and came back. And then we were out of there and on our way home, along with all the pickup trucks and horse trailers. When we got back to the cabin, the Salt Lake parade was on TV, still going, and I felt sorry for the poor suckers standing out in the sun watching it, hour after hour. And they weren’t getting candy and popsicles, either.
      Nora and Paige came to the cabin Tuesday afternoon, while James took Addie and Ben to Lagoon for a “bounce back.” I guess Nora didn’t feel much like bouncing. We sat around and talked and ate and had a good time. Paige thinks she’s so smart, walking around. Emma was wondering why Ali can’t walk yet.
      We’ve had some wild weather this week. Monday, a big black cloud came over the hill, and pretty soon the rain and hail blew in sideways. Resin chairs were flying through the air! We were pounded by rain for about 20 minutes, and then it blew over, leaving the yard looking like a lake. The same thing happens almost every afternoon, now, but not quite so violent. It must be a monsoon pattern. It’s lots better than last week, when we were broiling in the heat every day.
      You know how they’re building Victory Ranch down on the Provo River, just south and west of Francis? They’re also working on the golf course, up on top of the bluff. On Tuesday, Dad and I drove over there, and we convinced a man standing guard to let us in. We drove to the top of the bluff, and watched the big earth movers grading the side of the mountain. That’s going to be one beautiful golf course! You can see Mt. Timpanogos, Deer Crest, Kamas Valley, and up into the Uintas, all at once. It’s almost enough to make me want to get rich and learn to play golf.
      Life is good! I love you all! Mom

Friday, July 20, 2007

Dear Kids,
      I’m up to my ears in books, literally. Grandma and Grandpa Allen are getting ready to move to Summerfield, a nice retirement center, and I volunteered to handle their books. Yesterday we went through everything, and they chose out a few to take with them. The rest are on our dining room table now, and I’m sitting at my laptop making a list of them. And they really are stacked up higher than my ears. I’ll be sending the list to all my brothers and sisters so they can tell me what they want. The rest will be up for grabs by others, probably you kids. Some of them are really nice. I listed a few of them on half.com just for fun, and I’ve sold two already.
      Did all of you notice the cool slideshow of Monca’s wedding that Tom uploaded? It reminded me how much fun it all was. And how nice everything looked. Especially the flowers! And how cute Monica and Neil looked! I showed the pictures to Grandma, and she said Monica looks like Lauren Bacall. (Old-time movie star.) Not all of us are in the pictures, of course. Tom got most of us, but not everybody. Nora’s friend Marissa, the official photographer, probably got everybody. I heard she was supposed to upload the proofs to her web site, but I don’t know anything more. Monica, do you?
      Our Relief Society had our annual retreat at the cabin Friday night. Everybody commented on how clean it was, and when I said we had two married families living there, nobody could believe it. (I guess they could have looked in the closets, but they didn’t.) Anyway, we had a lot of fun. They played a lot of games. There are a lot of serious card sharks in our ward, and they really got going, about 11 at night. Dad and I dragged our mattresses out onto the front deck, and went to sleep. We haven’t tried that before. You can really see a lot of stars, because there’s no roof to block your view. We heard later that the laughing and talking went on until 1:30 or 2:00. I heard some good gossip but I can’t pass it on, since I don’t say anything insensitive on my blog anymore. I’ve changed totally and now I only write nice, uplifting things about people, especially people in our ward.
      Saturday night there was a 50th Wedding Anniversary party for Howard and Karen Condie, at the lighthouse church, where they had their original wedding reception 50 years ago. We had lots of fun talking to all the old timers who showed up. Here are the people who told us to say Hi to all of you: Brent & Delores Anderson, Cal & Maradon Anderson, Bob & Louise Pistorius, Roy & Nancy Pistorius, Bruce & Nelda Brooks, and Jack & Gwen Simpson. They all wanted to know how you kids were doing, and of course I bragged up the fact that we’re going on 19 grandchildren, with 16 of them five-and-under. We also gave lots of run downs on where you all are, and what you’re all doing. These old timers really wanted to know! All the grown-up Condie kids were there, with their families, and they all introduced themselves. President Monson (Howard’s cousin) came, and told lots of old stories, some of them quite startling. But of course, I only send out uplifting stories now. Nobody gets a pass on my blog, even general authorities.
      Sharon and Seth went home Tuesday, so we’re all back to normal now. Paul’s enjoying his work at Mygrant Glass. He drives a F250 pickup and delivers windshields to auto body shops. He says that at least he’s not working outside.
      Lots of love to you all! Mom

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Dear Kids,
      Wasn’t Monica’s wedding spectacular? It seemed like everything turned out perfectly–the food, the tents, the games, the weather–how about that cloud cover that came over just in time for the ceremony? And the two mountain bluebirds that flew up behind the arch just as Monica and Neil were saying “I do.” And Matheny’s goats not bleating–they could have been really obnoxious, if they’d had better timing. It was all good. Thanks to all of you who helped, especially with the clean-up. If any of you Ackerson cousins are reading this, thanks for all your help, too. Thanks for goin’ the distance, or coming the distance–it was great to see you.
      Mike Rogers e-mailed our proofs to us, and I think Dad’s forwarding them on to all of you. Also, you can see them on Ackerson.org: there’s a link on the home page, right near the top. I listed them by number. They’re all low-resolution jpegs, so people can’t just download them and print them at Walmart. So if you zoom in on them, you don’t see much detail, but at least you can tell if your kids are crying or not. Let me know asap what pictures you want. Mike hasn’t raised his prices in years. (4 wallets: $6.00, 4x5: $4.00, 5x7: $11.00, 8x10: $16.00, 11x14: $53.00, 16x20: $119.00) We’ll pay the first $25 of everybody’s order, plus the sitting fee, if he charges one. Dad and I didn’t look our best–I think we were really stressed. The rest of you looked really good. I think it’s a miracle the big mob scenes turned out as well as they did. Anyway, let me know what you want.
      A couple of days after the wedding I called Patty Paxman, to explain why we didn’t come to Chris’s wedding, which was the same day. She dropped by later that morning to give me a present for Donna, and we sat and talked about all the things that have happened over the years. She said it was hard having Chris get married in the Catholic Church by a priest, but his wife is from a great family, and they’re rich, too! Patty asked me about all you kids, and she admired the grandchildren’s pictures in our kitchen.
      My broken toe is still giving me a lot of trouble, and it’s been two weeks now. Everyone says it takes much longer than that. I was so mad, because the day I broke it, I’d decided to do everything right, since I needed all the blessings I could get. I studied the scriptures that morning, did my visiting teaching, went to the temple with Dad, and paid my tithing. I was just waiting for those blessings to roll in. And what did I do? I walked down the hall in bare feet, and stumbled into the heavy leg of a bar stool. There’s a lesson there. Do all the good things you’re supposed to do, but don’t be stupid.
      Our apricot tree was loaded this year, and luckily, Jana McGettigan wanted to pick them. She said she was going to dry them, and I imagined some fruit dryer churning away in their kitchen. But since it’s been so blazing hot, she just laid them out on card tables, out on their driveway, next to the hot brick on the side of their house. They dried in record time. Dad and I sampled a few, when we were out on our Sunday night bike ride. I was proud they turned out so well. Maybe someday I’ll try that myself.
      Paul is getting a job a Mygrant Glass, where he worked during Christmas. He might be driving a delivery truck. At least, he says, he won’t be outside. The pay isn’t as good as his drilling job, but at this point, he doesn’t seem to care.
      Well, it was great to see all of you last week. I’m so proud of our big wonderful family! Love, Mom

Friday, June 29, 2007

Dear Kids,
      It’s one big party at the cabin these days. Kim and the kids have moved in full-time, and the fun never stops. Somebody’s always bringing home ice cream. There are trips back and forth to the swimming pool. Nobody ever goes to bed at night. I ought to know, because I’m practically there full-time too, until the wedding. I’m still mixing up cement and mortar, and raking rocks and dirt. My rock wall is almost done, and I’m making a little patio on the west side of the greenhouse. The yard doesn’t have that “finished” look yet, but every day it’s looking a little better. Bentley is my little companion. He follows me around, quoting from Charlotte’s Web. It’s always the same lines: “The rat is desperate! The rat is trapped! The rat needs to stop calling himself ‘the rat.’” Bentley is way more entertaining than my audiobooks.
      Paul gave his 2-week notice at his job. He’s finally had enough. A couple of days ago, a 150-lb. hammer fell from three feet up and barely missed his head. It grazed his shoulder and his leg as it fell. He was lucky. But he had already given his notice before that happened. Yesterday, his “driller,” Dean, heard about it. He was really ticked off. He said, “Paul, Winston Churchill always said, ‘Never give up!’ Think about it, Paul. Never give up!” Fortunately, Paul is wise enough to know when it’s time to give up. He may go back to a glass company he worked at for SOS–at least it would be inside.
      Donna and Bevan are house sitting at her boss’s place this week. He was delighted to find house sitters that wouldn’t be drinking his wine, and he’s given them gift certificate to some nice eating places. Their main responsibility is taking care of the dogs. Donna has lots more phone calls at work, too, since she’s the head honcho while the boss is out of town.
      Last Saturday Andy showed up at the cabin. He had taken Renae to teach a quilting class in Midway, and he was heading up to the Uintas when he remembered we were close by. So he stopped in and talked for a while. He has a new truck that he’s very proud of. It’s a Dodge Dakota with a quad cab, and he demonstrated how the back doors open all the way, and the back seats fold up to make more room for stuff. He says his truck is way more sensible than my brother Ben’s, because it’s not a “monster.” He said it drives like a mini van.
      Dad and I have a new Sunday night habit: riding our bikes around the neighborhood. Now that the new homes are built in Dorothy Grant’s field, you can ride all around our ward without going out onto 40th West. And other people seem to be out on bikes, too. Last Sunday night we were toodling down Sugar Beet Drive when Lonnie and Gail Yeaman went sailing by on their bikes. Lonnie called out his home teaching report to Chuck as he rode by. Hey, they report home teaching by e-mail and phone and fax, and now it’s cool to do it by bike.
      We’re really looking forward to the wedding next weekend. I’m anxious to see everybody, and it’ll be fun to hang out with Neil’s family and friends, too. Till then, we’re “doin’ great and lovin’ it.”
      Love, Mom

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Dear Kids,
      Dad and I had a wonderful time at Lake Powell. Blue sky. White clouds. Red rock. Clear water. Not very hot. In fact, the water was so cool that Dad and I hardly ever jumped in. I like lake water when it’s about 98.6°, and this water was about 25° cooler than that. But we still had lots of fun. We climbed Hole-in-the-Rock, rode up the San Juan River, went to church in Ticaboo, talked a lot to the Ulriches and the Smiths, and ate a lot of good food. There were giant ravens that swooped over our houseboat, and their wings sounded like helicopter blades. We climbed on the rocks and watched several great sunsets. At night, we slept on the top deck under a million stars. My souvenirs are a piece of driftwood, a raven feather, and lots of colored rocks.
      On our way home, we stopped in Price to get gas at the Mavrick. I told Dad that if we stayed in Price longer than 20 minutes, we would see either the Larsens, the Bentleys, or Brad King. Turned out it was Brad King, with his wife, at the Chinese Buffet, where we ate dinner. He said to say Hi to all of you.
      After we got home, we both swayed back and forth when we walked, from the rocking of the houseboat. We had 568 unread e-mails. Sunday night, Dad and Paul were both pumping up their bike tires, to get to work on Monday morning. It seemed pathetic, after the grand vehicles we’d ridden in all week. But we’re glad to be back to our real lives. I’ve already been back at the cabin, raking rocks and mixing cement.
      On Sunday we went to the missionary farewells for David Tregaskis and Austin James. Then we visited both houses afterwards, and I think we saw almost all of my family, in one place or the other. Grandma and Grandpa were at both, with Barbara as their chauffeur. I got to talk to Suzy and Whitney. Max has long blonde hair now, and it’s wavy.
      There was a police shooting in Centerville last Sunday morning, the only one they’ve ever had. It was a drug house, although the neighbors they interviewed on the news said “They were such nice people!” Allen was sitting outside in his cop car, filling out a report, when it happened. He said he didn’t even hear the shots. You can look it up on desnews.com or sltrib.com. It happened on the 10th, but the news stories were on the 11th.
      There’s a phone at the cabin now. If you want to surprise Tom and Kim, you can call them on it. Nobody ever does, except for telemarketers. The number is 435 783 6239.
      You know those Texas muffin tins, that make really big muffins? Some of you have them now. Monica gave me some for Christmas. I finally bought the muffin papers that fit in them, at Orson Gigi, but it was a sleeve of 500. So if any of you need the papers, make sure you get them from me. It’s fun to make the giant muffins, and of course you can make giant cupcakes, too.
      We’re looking forward to seeing everybody at the wedding. It’s coming up fast. In the Deseret News this morning, there was a news story about all the people getting married on 07-07-07, for good luck. It’ll be a great day.
      Lots of love, Mom

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Dear Kids,
      I’ve just been online, checking the 10-day forecast for Lake Powell. Middle eighties, that’s all. But it’s lots better than here. I think it maybe got up to 50 today. Maybe not. The snowline on the mountain is down to about 5,000 feet. But then, it’s springtime in the Rockies. Of course I drove home from the cabin in a snowstorm yesterday, at least over Parleys, where it was a combination of snow, sleet, hail, and wind. Lovely.
      But Dad and I are leaving for Lake Powell Saturday morning, for a week of relaxing and water skiing and just loafing. It isn’t our whole study group any more, just Ulriches, Smiths, us, and maybe Laura’s sister. But we’ll have fun. How could we not have fun? And Paul will take care of the cats and the bird and the mail here at home.
      Speaking of Paul, he’s about had enough of his job as an assistant driller. It isn’t the hard work, but the driller that’s getting on his nerves. This guy sounds really nice to me, but he says things like, “Now Paul, you don’t have your hard hat on. What would happen if something fell on you right now?” So Paul has considered not working there any more. He'd like to transfer to a different part of the company, or else he’ll find a new job. Sounds OK to me.
      LeAnn Parker came by to deliver my Avon order yesterday, and I asked how their wedding plans are coming along. (Shaylynn is getting married in August.) She spends most of her time in the back yard raking rocks and hauling dirt. Humm–sounds like me! She wants to get their back yard finished before the wedding, and build a deck, too. I wish I had time to help her, but I’m busy raking rocks and hauling dirt at the cabin. Let’s hope we both finish in time!
      Speaking of the cabin, I checked on the baby robins in their nest up in the roof of the playhouse. They already have feathers! They just sit with their beaks upward, staring. Tom took a picture, and I hope he’ll upload it into his latest photo gallery. I thought the wind Tuesday night might blow them down, but it didn’t. I guess robins know where to build.
      I’m still excited about everybody’s blogs. I discovered I can pick and choose from your pictures, and save them in high resolution. They print up really nicely! I’m going to use them in my photo albums, because when our family gets together, I get too distracted to even pick up the camera. Tom’s galleries are a great resource, too!
      I visited Grandma and Grandpa today, and they’re doing fine. Grandpa was having lots of trouble with his asthma, because of the cold weather, and he has to use his “breathalizier” every four hours or so. It pumps steam into his lungs, and helps clear them out. Grandma and I went to Walmart, and she bought yarn for new afghans. She needs to make at least three more (for Melissa, Rylee, and Katie Brooke) before she retires from knitting.
      I won’t be uploading a letter next week, because I doubt we’ll have wireless internet on the houseboat. But I’ll be thinking of you all! Love, Mom

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Dear Kids,
      The newest blog on ackerson.org is Tom’s! He just started it last week. You can see a picture of his dream home in Heber (just kidding–it’s a dump, listed for $285). He also has pictures of the new barbecue rack, and the view from the top of the water tank. Of course all the blogs have great pictures. Missy’s blog shows them putting sod in their back yard, and Donna has some great pictures of their trip south. I check all the blogs every day, and I love reading everybody’s news.
      The birthday party barbecue Sunday night was lots of fun. We were so glad Grandma and Grandpa Allen could make it! Some highlights of the party and Memorial Day weekend were: (1) Grilling on the new barbecue rack! Thanks to Jerry Thacker! It worked great. I’m sure it will get lots of use now. (2) Observing DaveMatheny’s new goats next door. We’ve all been wondering what the weird “temple” was for, (aka the Rameumpton.) He told me it was a goat house, but I didn’t get it. Until I saw his new goats climbing to the top of it. You can see it on the new slide show in “Tom’s Photo Gallery.” The picture shows them halfway up, but they climb to the very top and stand there. (3) Bentley and Bevan fishing in the beaver pond. They caught two fish! One of the fish died because the hook went too deep, so they brought it home, and Bentley said he was going to eat it. (4) The flag raising on Memorial Day, and singing “God Bless America,” with Nora playing the guitar. Let’s make it a tradition! (5) The robin’s nest in the playhouse. Luckily the mother bird doesn’t scare easily. She came and went while different grandkids climbed up to look at her babies. So far, the baby birds are doing OK. (6) Dad and I mixing cement for my curbing. Ok, I know, that’s not new or memorable. I’ve been working on it forever. (7) There was lots more-- lots of food and fun and Yerf Dog rides and 4-Wheeler rides. Thanks to everybody who came and brought food and presents. I hope Dad sends out thank-you notes for all his loot. He really made a haul.
      Some of you are starting to ask about our family picture appointment at Mike Rogers’ house. So far, we’re still scheduled for 8:30 am on Saturday, July 7th, the day of Monica and Neil’s wedding. I know it’s early, but it’s the best I could do. Maybe the first ones of you to get there could have your individual family pictures taken, and then he can do us all together at the end. He has to leave at 10:00 am to do a wedding that was already scheduled, but of course, weddings always have priority with him. So the bottom line is, we’ll have to move fast, but you kids have always been quick for photographers. I remember standing in line for an hour at Kiddy Kandids with all nine of you kids, and just one baby ahead of us. When it was finally our turn, it took maybe 10 minutes for the lot of you. It’ll work.
      Missionary farewells are coming up. On June 17th, David Tregaskis and Austin James are both speaking in their own meetings, at 9:00 and 11:00 am. There are luncheons at both houses, afterwards. Since it’s also Fathers Day, Dad and I will be going to visit Grandpa Allen, too. That means we won’t be home all day, but it’s OK–Dad got plenty of attention on his birthday. But I’m sure he’ll enjoy taking calls on his cell phone.
      What a great family we have! I love you all!       Mom

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Dear Kids,
      For once, we found something interesting and exciting in the mail–Monica and Neil’s wedding announcement! They look wonderful in the picture! I think they should both be models. The announcement itself turned out really nice, too. I was glad to see that the map of the cabin turned out so well. That energized me even more about finishing my projects there. I still have big rocks strewn all over the ground, trying to fit them into my rock wall. I’ve been mixing and pouring cement for my concrete edging, and making patio blocks. I’ve been digging holes for shrubs, too, and I’ve dug so many new rocks out of the ground, I have to enlarge my rock graveyard. But it’s all good. It’s all coming together. And of course, by the wedding day, there will be horseshoes and badminton set up, and tables, and luscious food, and bluegrass music . . . it’s going to be memorable.
      In the short term, we’re also looking forward to the barbecue this Sunday night for Dad’s and Grandma Allen’s birthday. We’ll have our new barbecue rack by then, which Jerry Thacker is welding together for us, and we’re going to lay it over the fire pit to grill our meat. (I’ve been eager to try this for a long time.) We’ll start cooking about 5 pm, but most of us will be there earlier. The next day, Memorial Day, will be a total work day for me, but if any of you stay over, I’m sure you can have lots of fun.
      Al had some excitement on the job this week. There was a guy who’d gotten away from them a couple of days earlier, and Al spotted his car and started after him. The guy jumped from his car and ran off on foot. So Al pulled out his taser gun and tazed the guy in the back. The guy fell face first onto the concrete, stiff as a stone. Yay, Allen! Good use of “un-deadly” force! Remember when John wanted to get tazed? Maybe he could look up this fellow and ask him about it.
      Last Saturday morning Vanessa ran the Ogden Marathon. Dad and I were at the finish line when she came in, and I have to say, she looked better than practically anybody else in the race. You know that near-death look they always have? (Except for Kim in the “Top of Utah,” and Monica and Brynne in the Salt Lake Marathon). Well, Vanessa looked like she’d maybe been having a mild workout. She and her friend Amy made it in 4:42, I think. Afterward, we hung out with Vanessa and Trent and the kids in the park at the finish line, and sampled the bananas and creamies. Then we drove to Nora and James’s house for a birthday lunch for Tom, Sarah, and Meg. (Now that our family is getting big, we’ll probably have more and more birthday cakes with multiple names on them.) Later that afternoon, Trent’s team was playing in Logan, so he took off, while the rest of us dozed in Nora’s living room. That night Addie had a dance recital, but Dad and I were too tired to go. (Something about watching all those marathon runners come in, it just wore us out.) But later Dad and I drove Vanessa and the kids up to the Riverside exit, north of Tremonton, to meet up with Trent. A cop stopped to see what we were doing, but when he saw we were only switching around car seats, and moving sleepy kids, he could see it was all OK. It was late and crazy, but it was fun to visit with Vanessa. We don’t get that chance often enough.
      Well, I have to finish this letter and upload it. Not mail it out. It’s the end of an era, as far as the “Mom Letter” goes. I’ve had lots of fun sending them out in envelopes, with expensive stamps on them, but now that postage has gone up yet again, and you all have internet access, I figure everybody can read my news online. And everybody else’s, while they’re at it. The blog links are all there!
      Lots of love, Mom