Monday, December 6, 2010

Dear Kids,
      Luke’s blessing in Pocatello turned out to be quite the party! It was a nice day, so lots of us from the south drove up there. Dad and I rode with Al and Missy and their kids, and John’s family was a little behind us, and Nora’s family a little behind them. Paul came from Logan, in his own car, using his new GPS. There was fog, but no snow on the road. When we got to Pocatello, half the church was filled up with our family and Trent’s. His four brothers all live in the area (sort of) so they always come to everything. After the meeting, the party moved to Vanessa and Trent’s house. There must have been 50 people there, but their house was up to it! When John was trying to gather up his family to go home, Aubrey said she wanted to stay and live there. She likes the house! It suits her elegant style.
      The next event coming up is the Missiah in Heber next Sunday night (the 12th). Heather won’t be playing the clarinet, like we thought, but Tom will still be singing. It’s at 7:00 pm at John’s church. Coming from the cabin or from Salt Lake, if you turn left off the main road onto 5th North, it’s the first church you come to, not the second one. There will be an after-party at Tom’s house.
      Tuesday night, December 21st, is our Christmas Music open house, the fifth one in a row that Dad and I have hosted. It’s always a blast. It’s from 7 to 9 pm, or even later, if anybody wants to stay that long. It’s the night of the winter solstice, and a full moon besides, so it should be a great evening. The next night (Wednesday the 22nd) is the cousins’ present exchange party at Nora’s house. It was originally scheduled for the 17th, but this will be better for everybody. I’m not sure on the time–sometimes it lasts all afternoon and most of the evening.
      And then there will be our sledding party, the Monday after Christmas (the 27th) at the cabin, if everyone isn’t all partied out. We’ll have our usual chili or sloppy jo’s or some great comfort food, because it’s bound to be cold! It will be even colder because Donna and Bevan and Anna will have moved out by then, but we hope they come back often! The cabin will miss them, and the great fires they always built, and the great food Donna always cooked. But things are right on track for the closing on their house, probably about the 15th.
      Amid all this planning, I’m working on a talk I’m giving in Church this coming Sunday. The topic is “Courageous Parenting,” from a talk in the last conference. Unfortunately it’s not about being courageous with your children, but with teenagers. Thanks, all of you, who have supplied me with stories. Allen said, however, that it didn’t take any courage at all for us to enforce rules. He said I always seemed to be enjoying it. I can’t wait until Carson and Ellie are teenagers.
      Lots of love, Mom

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Dear Kids,
      In my last letter, I mistakenly put Luke’s baby blessing as December 15th. Somehow my finger slipped an extra 1 in there, because it’s on the 5th, and I knew it. So it’s a week from tomorrow. Isaac’s and Buttercup’s (oops, I mean Anna’s) blessings will probably be together, on January 2nd in Nora and James’s ward. I think their new schedule is 11 to 2. More events: the Messiah in Heber, where Tom will sing and Heather will play the clarinet, is Sunday night, the 12th. The big party at Nora’s, where the cousins exchange presents, is Friday night, the 17th. If there are any more events, I’ll try to post them, and get the dates accurate. Oh, make sure you look at the cousins’ exchange list, which is just under this letter on my blog. I put it in as an extra post. I know there’s also a schedule of which of you kids give to each other, but I’m out of the loop on that one.
      So, on to the great events of the week. You’ve all heard about Anna’s exciting arrival into the world, just as the blizzard was pulling out of the area. (There were about 18 other babies born at the Death Star the same night, same reason.) Donna had come to Salt Lake the day before to put money down on their house in Midway, and to help with my piano class. She had also planned to stay the night here, because we all knew the storm was coming in. I don’t think she planned to go into labor. Early in the evening she got pretty uncomfortable, and even Cary Grant movies didn’t distract her much. We were both watching to see how the storm was doing, and commuterlink to see how the roads were. Both were bad, but it stopped snowing about 11 pm, so we headed to the hospital. (IHC in Murray, not Park City, like they had planned.) Bevan was back at the cabin, sleeping comfortably in bed, and Donna didn’t call him until 3 am, when we could see that traffic was going down Parley’s again. He got there in plenty of time for the delivery at 7:25. It was very exciting. I wasn’t expecting Anna to have dark hair!! Of course she’s very pretty. Beverly and Lloyd came right to the hospital after Bevan called them, and they were absolutely delighted with her.
      When I got home from the hospital, I had to quickly pack up our stuff for Thanksgiving at the cabin. Luckily I had done most of my cooking the day before. When Dad and Paul and I got there, a full-scale party was in progress, with just Nora’s and Tom’s families. Vanessa and Trent and their kids arrived the next day, in time for dinner, and they stayed the night. John’s family came on Friday, just as Donna and Bevan were arriving home with the baby. It was all very exciting. We missed everybody who wasn’t there, however. Allen was on call, and they couldn’t go that far from home. I just read in the news about a family in Florida that always has about 45 people for Thanksgiving, and I thought, that’s news??? At Grandma and Grandpa Allen’s, there were always at least 50 people, minimum. Remember those fun times?
      Life is good. I love you all! Mom

Monday, November 22, 2010

Ackerson Cousins Christmas Exchange List

Julie ➝ Ben
Jacob ➝ Meg
Aaron ➝ Emma
Aubrey ➝ Charlie
Addie ➝ Macy
Ben ➝ Ali
Paige ➝ Julie
Stu ➝ Ellie
Isaac ➝ Lucy
Sterling ➝ Abby
Sarah ➝ Jacob
Meg ➝ Buttercup
Macy ➝ Matthew
Luke ➝ Addie
Bentley ➝ Aaron
Emma ➝ Sterling
Ali ➝ Stu
Abby ➝ Luke
Carson ➝ Paige
Ellie ➝ Aubrey
Buttercup ➝ Isaac
Charlie ➝ Sarah
Matthew ➝ Bentley
Lucy ➝ Carson

Friday, November 19, 2010

Dear Kids,
      Dad and I are getting serious about buying a minivan, and I just called Incredible Motors in North Salt Lake. They have the best deals on Toyota Siennas, but those cars don’t sit on their lot. They go directly from the auction to the people who have requested them. For that, you save a couple of thousand dollars. If that doesn’t work for us, we’ll just go the regular dealer route. We’re still doing OK with just the truck. It took us to Jackson and to Pocatello, and it’s made innumerable trips to the cabin. It’s going to need it’s chains before long, though, to get up the hill. That’s when I’ll be really eager for the minivan (with Blizzak tires, of course).
      We’re looking forward to Thanksgiving in just 6 days. If there isn’t much snow, I’ll want to hike the loop after dinner. If there’s more snow, we can go sledding. It will be fun either way!
      You might have heard that Donna and Bevan were very interested in a house in Midway, and after a couple of tries, the bank has accepted their offer! They’re scheduled to close on December 15. Dad and I and Kim and her mom did a walk-through a couple of weeks ago, and I was very impressed. It’s a quality house. (It’s located at 95 South Center, if you want to look it up on Google Earth.) Donna and Buttercup will be doing a lot of work in the yard, of course, and there are some potential inside projects, but that’s the fun of life. I would hate to live in a house that had nothing to work on.
      Vanessa and Trent are planning on blessing Luke on December 15th. They have afternoon church (I think it’s 1:30 to 4:30) which makes it easier to get there on time. Dad and I were joking that even if it were 9:00 am, we could still make it easily. We’d just get up at 4:20 like we do every day anyway. If Dad and I have our minivan by then, we could take passengers.
      My piano class in the Spanish Branch is still going really well. My most advanced student, Judianni, played the opening song in Relief Society last Sunday. It was the easiest song in the easiest hymn book (Hazme andar en la luz) but who cares? It was actually one of them playing and not a gringo from the outside world. My next project is to get a key to the chapel (I already have one to the outside) so we can practice on the organ.
      More piano news: Last night Robyn Noel and I had our joint duet recital, and Addie played “Bingo” with Ian Noel. She did really well! Nora has been teaching her. I’m really proud of them both.
      Lots of love, Mom

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Dear Kids,
      By now you’ve all heard about the arrival of Isaac Mair, born Tuesday afternoon at 3:56 pm. You also know what a tanker he is, at 9 lbs. 1 oz. You may not also have known that, at the same time, James’s mother was hovering between life and death, and Nora just now called to say that she passed away. She had a stroke about a week and a half ago, and then she got pneumonia, and she went downhill pretty fast from there. Last night when we visited Nora and James and the baby at the hospital, James said it wouldn’t be long, and he was right. The funeral will probably be Monday. Nora said it was pretty sad, but if she had a choice, the babies would live, and older people would pass on. I think I can agree. James’s mom lived a really good life.
      Dad and I had a great trip to Pocatello last weekend. Yep, we stayed at Motel 6. The thermostat didn’t work, so the heat was either on or off, and I had to get up a couple of times during the night to turn it one way or the other. Except for that, we had no complaints, especially since it only cost $44.95. We had a lot of fun with Vanessa and Trent and the kids! Baby Luke is really cute. He looks a lot like Sterling, and has the same expressions on his face. We raked pine needles in the yard, ate at Craigos and McDonalds, and partied in general. Dad especially liked their big TV. I liked teasing Kita Cat with catnip. He always remembers me, even if he hasn’t seen me for a year or two, and sticks his long needle nose into my purse, looking for the drugs. So in general, we had a great time.
      Paul has been called as a Gospel Doctrine teacher in his ward. I wish we could attend his lessons! I bet they’re interesting. They’ve got that same Old Testament manual that’s been around for about 20 years, but I bet Paul can make it interesting. He says he only wishes there were a podium he could stand behind, instead of just a table, so he wouldn’t look so tall. I’m guessing that makes him look all the more impressive.
      Thanksgiving is only two weeks away! So far, Nora’s and Vanessa’s families will be having dinner with us. The rest of you, please let me know your plans! The cabin is anxious to host as many people as possible. Donna will probably be off having Buttercup, but that will be fun, too.
      I love you all! Mom

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Dear Kids,
      Today I had an appointment with the surgeon who took out my gall bladder, but all he did was look at my incisions and say they would probably hurt for a little longer. I asked him questions about my gallstones, so he handed me the lab report and said I could read it myself. There were “multiple” gallstones up to .7 cm, and some of them were embedded in the “cystic duct.” Naturally I needed the help of Wikipedia to figure it all out at home. No wonder it hurt so much! I’m really grateful to have it behind me.
      I had an appointment with a pulmonary doctor about my breathing, but after waiting for more than an hour in her waiting room, and finding out there were still two people ahead of me, and that she expected to spend an hour on me, besides, I realized I didn’t have time. They said they would call me and reschedule, but they didn’t. Right now I’m breathing a lot better than I was, so maybe I don’t need a lung doctor after all. If it gets bad again, we’ll just move to the cabin.
      Instead of a regular Sunday dinner this month, I’m going to wait until Thanksgiving. It’s only three weeks away! We’ll have our usual fantastic Thanksgiving dinner at the cabin, and we’ll probably eat about 1:00 in the afternoon. Let me know if you’re coming, so I can plan enough food, and give you an assignment.
      Tomorrow Dad and I are heading to Pocatello to see Luke Thomas Sutton for the first time. Oh, yes, and the other Suttons, too. Hopefully we’ll be able to help with some yard work or one of their home-improvement projects. We’re going to stay at the Chubbuck Motel 6, because I still need to get the bad taste of the Arlington Hilton out of my mouth. For sure we won’t have to pay for parking!
      My piano class for the Hispanics is still going great. Marie Searle had to quit helping us teach, but I found somebody new: Donna! (I should say 2 new teachers–Donna and Buttercup.) I’m bribing them with gas money to come and help us every week. The first time worked out great.
      I need to give away all our games, since I need that cupboard to store boxes of toner cartridges and family history stuff. Anyway, Dad and I don’t play games, except chess, and we have every possible game at the cabin. So if you want to take any of the games in the cupboard, help yourself the next time you come by here.
      Life is good! Love, Mom

Friday, October 29, 2010

Dear Kids,
      Dad and I had a great time in Virginia. Our room at the Arlington Hilton had a really comfortable king-sized bed, and since I was still feeling pretty under-the-weather from my surgery, I spent a lot of time there. Dad’s reunion events were at the hotel anyway, so I was able to show up with him, eat the good food, and then slip back to our room. He could party as along as he wanted to. But I’m not impressed with 5-star hotels! Not only did they charge $17.95 for breakfast, which is free at any Motel 6 or Super 8, but they wanted $25.00 for three days of internet, $17.95 for any movie we wanted to watch, and $17.00 a day for parking. (Imagine if they made you pay for parking at the Motel 6 in Laramie!) Our hospitality cart had a bottle of water on it, with a $5.00 price tag. I wouldn’t have been surprised to see price tags on the toilet paper! Naturally we didn’t pay for any of the extras, so we had fewer amenities than we would have had at Motel 6. I would never willingly stay at one of those places again!
      The good thing was the fabulous weather–sort of cool, clear skies, just perfect. We visited Dad’s old neighborhood, where he discovered that his first childhood house (not 1809) had been torn down and they were building a new one on the lot! I walked through it while Dad waited outside. The other house, the one John recently sold, has been fixed up and looks really good. We visited Arlington Cemetery and saw the graves of Grandma and Grandpa Ackerson. We drove to a park called Great Falls, on the Potomac River, where they built a canal in the early 1800's. They had a boat pulled by mules, which went up and down through a lock, so we rode on that. Originally we were going to spend the day hiking there, but after such a recent surgery, I could only hobble around. But it was such a beautiful day, I didn’t care.
      Back here at home, I have to get on with laundry and piano lessons and letting the cats in and out. It’s nice to be home, and I expect to feel better soon. I thought I wouldn’t miss my gall bladder, but it stores bile, which helps you digest fats. I’m having to change my eating habits! No more huge helpings of anything, and very little ice cream. (Yes, I’m dying over that one. I keep thinking I can eat it anyway, and paying the price.) Chocolate chips must have a lot of fat, too, because they bother me a lot. I’m sure I’ll find other things to live on besides ice cream and chocolate chips, but it’s a hard adjustment.
      Hope you’re all doing great. Thanks for your prayers. I know they’ve helped me.
      Love, Mom

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Dear Kids,
      Last week, my only problem was breathing. That was before I ever thought about the fact that I had a gall bladder, or that it might be full of stones. So Saturday morning I was out in the back yard of the cabin, happily digging in the dirt, when a pain hit my stomach. I thought it was maybe the ice cream I had eaten for breakfast, or the chocolate sauce, or the brownie. So I took some antacid and the pain went away. But in a couple of hours it was back, worse than before. I wondered if maybe I had appendicitis, and Dad drove me to the ER at the IHC hospital in Heber. (Many of you know that place thoroughly!) By then the pain had pretty much gone away again, but they tested a few things, and said I probably had gastritis. Then Dad and I drove down to American Fork, so I could stop in at the baby shower that Bev Lloyd was giving for Donna and Buttercup. (Great food! Too bad I ate it!) Later that afternoon, the pain was back again, and it came in waves all night long. So I swallowed my pride and had Dad drive me to the ER at the Death Star, on State Street. By then I couldn’t even stand up. I crouched on the floor while they asked me silly questions. They said it sounded like gall stones, so they did an ultrasound, and sure enough . . . there they were! I didn’t ask how many. We had to wait most of the day for an operating room to be free, but I didn’t care, because they gave me morphine whenever I asked for it. I think it was two or three in the afternoon when they finally took me in. When I woke up later on, I could tell that my friends the gallstones were gone, and I didn’t miss them at all. (Dad said they were so big, the doctor could feel them through my skin.) ‘Nuff gruesome details. I’m getting better now, and I don’t know how my breathing is going. When you’re in pain, you breathe pretty shallow anyway. Maybe I’ll find out that the gallstones were keeping me from breathing, although nobody’s ever heard of that before.
      All along, we didn’t know if we could still go to Dad’s reunion in Virginia, but since we already paid for everything, and since I couldn’t feel any worse at the Hilton in Arlington than I feel here, we’re going! In fact, we’re getting picked up in an hour. We have a nonstop on Southwest to Baltimore. Dad’s reunion committee made arrangements for all of us to get good prices on rooms at the Hilton, where the reunion is being held. (Good prices don’t mean the rates for Motel 6 in Laramie.) You’d think that a five star hotel would give you a free continental breakfast, wouldn’t you? And free internet? Ha ha. The breakfast is $17.95 per person. So we made a trip to the Walmart grocery, and we’re prepared for the best possible breakfasts.
      Enough of my rambling. You’d never guess I’m high on percocet. Please keep praying for me. I love you all.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Dear Kids,
      I’m happy to report that Luke Thomas Sutton was born this afternoon at 1:00 pm in Pocatello. He weighs 8 lbs. 13 oz, and is 21 inches long. I asked Vanessa what he looks like, and she said he just looks like himself. Her midwife told her yesterday that it would probably be another week, but Vanessa woke up this morning knowing it would be today. And they went to the hospital and had him! We’re really happy that everything went well! What a blessing to have wonderful, healthy grandchildren!
      Meanwhile, I’m still trying to breathe. For several days I had pretty good luck riding my bike around, breathing deeply, but when I went out riding today, it only made my chest hurt more. Seth sent me some information about COPD, and after reading it, I hope that’s not what I really have. I have an appointment with a pulmonary doctor on the 26th, and I hope she’ll decide it’s something else.
      Last Friday Dad and I drove to Orem to visit Grandma and Grandpa, and then we drove up to Heber, on our way to the cabin. We intercepted John at the airport, and since he was just ready to go up in a glider (the Grob,) I was happy to go along. The view was spectacular, but I what I really loved was breathing the oxygen from his tank. Even after we landed, I was still puffing on it. The clean air there really helped me, too. Later in the afternoon, Dad and I went on up to the cabin, and I spent Saturday digging in the yard, breathing pretty well. Right now I’m hatching a plan to move there at least part time, before those winter inversions hit the valley. Dad would have to do some commuting, and I would probably come to the valley with him on Wednesdays, to do my classes, and we’d come to church here on Sunday. Right now it’s only an idea, but I like it.
      A week from today Dad and I are leaving for Virginia, to go to Dad’s 45-year high school reunion. He got a big bonus from UTA for his 3-million safe-driver miles, so that’s how we’re spending it. It should be lots of fun.
      Meanwhile, I hope everybody’s doin’ great and lovin’ it. Please keep praying for me! Love, Mom

Friday, October 8, 2010

Dear Kids,
      I just saw, from a link on facebook, that Jimmy Gibbens died on Monday. There’s an obituary in the Trib, and you can express condolences online. I don’t know how he died, and it doesn’t say.
      It was fun seeing so many of you at the cabin Sunday afternoon! Sorry I was so out-of-it. I could hardly breathe, so I hung out upstairs in the glacier bedroom and listened on the radio. Dad and I had to go to my mission reunion after that, because I was partly in charge of it, but afterward we went to instacare. It had just closed, 30 seconds earlier, which was probably better, because I just waited and saw Dr. Newbold on Monday. I was sure I had pneumonia, but he said it’s COPD, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder. Your lungs are full of trapped air and they can’t push it out, so you can’t breathe in. My chest x-ray showed that my lungs are “hyperinflated.” Right now I’m on 2 inhalers, an antibiotic, and prednisone. I thought that the prednisone would get me going really fast, that in a couple of days I’d be like superman, racing around on my bike and taking nice big deep breaths of air, but it doesn’t seem to be helping very much, yet. I read about COPD on Wikipedia, and it doesn’t sound pleasant. It’s “poorly reversible,” and is the fourth leading cause of death in the United States. (So how come I never heard of it before?) Needless to say, I would really appreciate all your prayers on my behalf. This morning Dad and I are going to visit Grandma and Grandpa Allen, so I’m going to have Grandpa and Dad give me a blessing. That’s my best hope right now.
      Dad has been on vacation all week, but we weren’t able to go anywhere exciting, because of my lungs. Instead, Dad cleaned out the rain gutters, fixed the sliding screen door, got the truck safety inspected, cleaned out some of his papers in the hall closet, tried to get Windows 7 printer drivers for our HP laserjet 1012 (anybody want it?) and had a dental appointment.
      I hope you’re all doin’ great and lovin’ it.
      Sincerely, your poor out-of-breath Mom

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Dear Kids,
      Dad and I just got home from Walmart, where we bought a 32" flat screen HDTV for watching conference at the cabin. Heck, we might install it permanently there, if I can find a way to run the wire from the antenna through the wall. (No cheap-looking cable across the floor and up the wall and out the window for us.) For now, we’ll probably just put the TV on the coffee table. At least we’ll have a signal! Last conference we couldn’t get anything very consistently. So we’re looking forward to Saturday and Sunday. I know several of you are coming for Sunday dinner, and that will be a lot of fun.
      Speaking of fun--we’ve had lots of it! Starting with Sharon and Lucy’s arrival last Friday morning, and Grandpa Allen’s birthday party Friday night, and the shower on Saturday. I might also add the Relief Society broadcast on Saturday night, which turned into a shopping trip for Nora, Sharon, Lucy, and myself, since our Stake Center was somehow cut out of the broadcast signal. We went to the nice dinner at 5:00 pm, and got to visit with a lot of the great ladies in our Stake, before the broadcast was going to start. When they announced that we were supposed to go to the other building on Volta Avenue, I think almost everybody made other plans for the rest of the evening. After all, you can always catch it later on the internet.
      One very cool thing about Grandpa’s birthday party: eight of our nine children were there, even though we were missing some of the spouses. Monica, I wish you could have been there, and Neil, too. It was very casual and very pleasant, with lots of good food. And who knows how many more birthdays Grandpa will have? Carly posted a cute picture of him on facebook, sitting in a chair, wearing a birthday hat.
      After my asthma attack last week, I somehow developed pneumonia. Walking pneumonia, they call it, because you can walk around. You just can’t breathe. I’ve had it a few times before, and you just have to outlast it, because the inhalers don’t do diddly for you. Dad set up a vaporizer in our bedroom, which helps a lot at night. He deserves the double-super-hero award for that. Also, I read on the internet, that cough drops help! They help dissolve the snot in your lungs. Who would’ve thought, but I can tell a difference. I think it’s the menthol in them.
      It still seems like summer, since it’s in the mid-eighties every day. It will always be summer, and hot.
      Lots of love, Mom

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Dear Kids,
      I just got an e-mail reminder from Bonnie about Grandpa’s birthday party this coming Friday night. She reminds us that it’s from 6-8 pm at Riverwoods Park, and we’re supposed to bring fruit or a dessert and our kids. I hope Dad and I can bring nearly all of our kids! Sharon will be here with Lucy, and Vanessa will be coming with at least some of her family. Remember, too, that Saturday morning at 11 is the baby shower for Donna. What a great weekend we have coming up!
      Dad and I visited Paul’s student ward in Logan last Sunday. They had parents’ day, with a linger-longer afterward. I think it’s always fun to visit student wards, and see how the next generation is doing things. It was my first Church meetings in English in a long time, too. I was surprised to notice that I don’t understand everything in English! People mumble! People talk too softly! Now I don’t feel so bad about Spanish. After the meetings, and the linger-longer (sadly, pathetic food), Dad and I toured Paul’s apartment. Maybe some of you are familiar with this, but I didn’t know there were student apartments where each person has his own bedroom and bathroom! So, there are five bedrooms with their own bathrooms in Paul’s apartment. I didn’t know such luxury was possible! I won’t go on about the grody basements I lived in when I was at BYU, four girls in one bedroom with two ancient sets of bunkbeds, one small bathroom, shower full of mold . . . I won’t go on about that. I’m just glad Paul has it so nice. He’s studying really hard, too. We had a really good visit with him. On the way home we stopped in Brigham City to visit Andy and Renae, and that was fun, too.
      When we drove into the Salt Lake Valley, there was a pall of smoke over everything because of the fire in Herriman. I had a terrible asthma attack, and since I don’t have inhalers right now, I shut myself up in the basement, where the smoke hadn’t penetrated. Dad went out in his pickup and bought me an OTC inhaler at Smiths. What a hero he is! I was happy to be able to breathe again. Yesterday I went to see Dr. Newbold and got prescriptions for the regular, safe inhalers, that you can use over the long haul to really get rid of the asthma. I haven’t had it for about 10 years, so I’ve been lucky.
      Sunday dinner for October will be conference weekend at the cabin. We’ll have dinner just after the morning session. Let me know if you’ll be there. Let me know if you have any menu preferences. I can pretty much make anything.
      Lots of love, Mom

Friday, September 10, 2010

Dear Kids,
      We’re having gorgeous fall weather, and it’s COOL! Monday morning Dad and I went for a bike ride along the Jordan River, my first time since June, and it felt fabulous. Of course there weren’t any baby ducks, and the water was way low, but it felt so good to be out on a bike. Now Dad may have felt differently. He’s been riding his bike to work every day since we junked the Windstar, so it wasn’t a novelty for him. But he got his payback when he went for his regular checkup with Dr. Johnson on Tuesday. He’s down 8 pounds since his last visit, and his blood statistics are really good. Go, Dad!
      Monday afternoon we went to the picnic at Copperton Park for Stuart’s birthday. What a great place! The town is really old, but the park was full of young families, so I’m guessing that most of them trekked in like we did. Stuart seems way grown up for just turning three, but he still has a little trouble getting that third finger up when you ask how old he is. I think the brain is always ahead of the fingers, especially in little boys.
      Dad has been on vacation all week, and we haven’t done anything spectacular. It’s hard when he has to choose his weeks more than a year in advance. If we’d known, we could have been going on a cruise with the Study Group in the middle of October. (We were told that we’re the only couple not going.) But in spite of that, it’s been a good week. Later this morning we’re heading to the cabin. We have new bricks for the fire pit, and bark to go around the ag shed. Speaking of which, I had a sleepover there last Friday night with all four of John and Heather’s kids. (John and Heather slept in the cabin, and so did Dad.) I didn’t sleep much all night, because I kept worrying that the kids would fall out of bed, but they were fine. Aaron went in about midnight, but the rest of them stayed all night.
      Dad needed to have some work done on the truck, and he’s lost his confidence in Bill & Randy’s, and Gines, too. On Sunday, in church, I pointed out a branch member who’s a mechanic, and Dad went to talk to him. They worked out that Roberto would come Monday afternoon, look at the truck, and give him an estimate. I mean, he would actually come to our house! And he did! He found some bad spark plugs that should have been good, still. He came back to our house Thursday to do the work, and first Dad paid him in cash for the parts, which he went and bought. Then he came back with the parts and put them in, and Dad paid him for his labor, also in cash. I guess that’s how they do it in Mexico. But the truck runs great now.
      I’m cooking Sunday dinner day after tomorrow. Last chance till October. Let me know if you’re coming. Love, Mom

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Dear Kids,
      Paul got home (to the cabin) last Friday night, after a very long but very short (two day) trip from Alabama. He’s full of stories about his summer adventures. I hope he doesn’t get too indoctrinated by school before we hear them all. His car made it OK, but dare I say it: He got two speeding tickets in the two days he was on the road. Bummer! Still, he said, he’d rather get speeding tickets than have something go wrong with the car, if he had a choice. Paul spent less than a day visiting with the family, and then left for Logan. We hope he has a good school year. Or half year. He’ll be done in December.
      Grandpa Allen’s birthday party on September 24th is shaping up to be a great event. I already mentioned that Sharon and Lucy will be here, and Vanessa noted on facebook that she’ll be here, too. (Gotta love facebook! It keeps us all informed.) Remember, the party is Friday night the 24th, River View Park (where we always have our family reunions,) 6:30 pm, potluck desserts. (Or something healthful, if you want.) I’m looking forward to seeing so many of you, besides the Allen clan, of course.
      My work project these days is renovating the tower. It’s been 11 years since we finished it! There was some water damage in the center of the middle floor, but I fixed that, and now I just have to sand and paint and tighten up anything wobbly. I need to put the trap doors back in, too, so Dad and I can sleep out. With no trap doors, Xena climbs up and plops herself on top of us, and she’s so heavy you can hardly breathe.
      My piano class at the Lighthouse church is still going great. I always look forward to Tuesdays because it’s so much fun. People slacked off a little last week, when school started, but we had a good group this week. We’re up to about 20 people, although not everybody comes every week. Marie Searle is such a good sport about helping me! And Elise Fulton, too. I wish I could teach everybody myself, but it’s good for our students to have variety.
      Remember that I’m cooking Sunday dinner on the 12th, and we’ll eat at 5:00. Let me know if you’re coming!
      Lots of love, Mom

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Dear Kids,
      I hope you’ve all seen the video of Dad on Channel 2 last night. They interviewed him about his 3 million-mile safe-driving award. I thought he was incredibly funny. It’s on facebook. Thanks, Tom, for uploading that. On my home page, there are at least three links, so I’m sure all of you are getting it, too. I liked Dad’s observation about not running out of gas on the moon. There was also a small article in the West Valley Journal, featuring Dad and Lamar Udy, who received the same award. Go, West Valley bus drivers!
      Speaking of driving many miles, Paul is on his way home. When I talked to him this morning, he had just crossed into Mississippi. I imagine he’ll get to Utah early on Saturday. We’ll be hearing his stories for a long time to come. Dad is worried that his car won’t make it, but Paul had an oil change just before he left Alabama, and I’m sure the magical Sable will do just fine. It has gone 186,000+ miles, which is a lot, but compared to the Windstar, it’s just getting warmed up. And even the Windstar doesn’t come close to how far Dad has driven: It only went to the moon once, plus part way back.
      Here’s some good news: Sharon is coming to Utah for Grandpa Allen’s birthday party on September 24! I know a lot of other people are coming, but Sharon’s probably coming the farthest. (Still only a tiny fraction of the distance to the moon, however.) She’s bringing Lucy. She’s only staying for a couple of days, but it will be nice to see them both. The whole family is coming in December, so that will be pretty lively.
      I’ll be cooking my next Sunday dinner on September 12, the second Sunday. So I’ll be back on schedule. We hope to see a lot of you then, if not before.
      Lots of love, Mom

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Dear Kids,
      The family reunion was so much fun that real life seems pretty boring now. It was hard to come home to this wretched hot valley, although we had a nice rainstorm today. But I keep thinking about the clear crisp air in the Tetons, and those beautiful mountains, and the fresh smell of warm pine needles. Mostly, it was fun having so much of the family together (and we really missed Sharon and her family, and Paul.) It didn’t matter much whether we were sitting around the fire or hiking or sitting by the lake, it was fun talking to everybody and watching those wonderful grandkids have fun. We truly have a wonderful family.
      My sisters are planning a birthday party for Grandpa Allen on his real birthday, September 24th. Here’s the e-mail that Bonnie sent me: "We were thinking that since we didn't have a reunion this summer that maybe we could get together for Dad's (grandpa's) Birthday on Friday September 24th. Jane will be here too, so that will be fun! I have reserved the WEST pavillion at the River View park (where we always have our reunions) for that evening. Usually we have the East pavillion, so it’s the other one. I will put balloons out so you will know. It will be at 6:30 and we will make it potluck desserts. So just bring any dessert that you like, fruit, cookies, cake etc. and we will just visit and relax. If it is cold, we will reschedule. Please invite your children and grandchildren! Dad will really enjoy seeing everyone, so hope you can make it! Thanks"
      So that’s the plan. Consider yourselves invited!! Dad and I will be there for sure.
      While Dad and I were on our way to the Tetons, we stopped by the Harpers’ house in Newdale. Their whole living room wall is covered with family pictures, and Dad asked Chris how she keeps her pictures up-to-date. She said that for Christmas, all she asks for is an updated family picture from each of her kids. I think that’s a fantastic idea. If anybody wants to make me really happy for Christmas, you could give me a 5x7 of your family for the wall by the piano, and a 5x7 of your kids for the buffet. Some of my grandkids’ pictures are drastically out of date (and of course I appreciate the news ones that you’ve given me.) You don’t even have to get professional portraits. Some of our best pictures have come from ordinary snapshots. (And of course there are Tom’s really professional ones!!)
      Paul will soon be heading home from Alabama. We’ll all be glad to see him again.
      Life is good! Lots of love, Mom

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Dear Kids,
      Thanks to everybody, I had a wonderful birthday on Sunday. I’m so grateful to all of you who called me and posted Facebook greetings and sent cards and presents and came to dinner. It was my best birthday ever! On Monday, the whole Relief Society presidency of the Lighthouse Branch showed up at our door, to wish me happy birthday a day late! They gave me a flower in a pot, actually an orchid, that looks like a “Feed me Seymour” type flower–I hope I can keep it alive. And they sang “Happy Birthday” to me in Spanish. I was amazed. When I was in 5th Ward, it was great if even one of my visiting teachers remembered. (And I’m sorry to say I often forgot the birthdays of the sisters I visited.)
      Saturday night Dad and I went to my 45th year high school reunion in Provo, at the Marriott Hotel. There were lots more people than 5 years ago, when we met in the park at South Fork in Provo Canyon. Funny–I liked that one lots better. But the Marriott was OK–just a lot more expensive. The governor came. I sort of remember him–mostly that he played football. And all the talk was about football: who threw the winning pass against what team, which year. So some things never change. But one cool thing about Gary Herbert–in his bio, which he e-mailed in, like the rest of us, he put down that he worked in state government and lived in public housing near the capitol building. Just for that alone, he’ll definitely have my vote the next time around.
      Dad has been riding his bike to work practically every day since we junked the Windstar. That was the deal, so I could have a vehicle at home if I needed to go anywhere. Dad says he’s learned to ride more slowly, and enjoy the trip, rather than pumping hard to get there a few minutes earlier. I think I learned that lesson! Sadly, I’ve hardly ridden my bike at all this summer. I’ve been too busy. Maybe things will calm down in the fall, and I can have some good rides along the Jordan River.
      We’re really getting excited for the family reunion. I think everybody is. I heard that Monica bought camp chairs! I think Dad and I have a couple somewhere–I’ll have to go look. We haven’t really camped in so long, it will be a whole new adventure. (Our trip to Florida didn’t count, since it wasn’t cold, and we never had a campfire, and we never cooked.) We’re really looking forward to seeing so many of you and enjoying those glorious Tetons!
      Life is good! Love, Mom

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Dear Kids,
      Nora has posted all the family reunion information on a link from her blog. Thanks, Nora! It looks like great fun! There’s no place like the Tetons! All the assignments are listed. Dad and I will bring plenty of firewood, paper products, and campfire treats. I’m so glad we have an annual Ackerson reunion now!
      The Tongan funeral across the street has finally ended, after ten days. They had a luau every night, and street was always crammed with cars. Sometimes their food smelled really good and I wanted to go over and express my condolences again.
      My piano class for the Lighthouse Branch is still going great! I requested five more keyboards from the Church Music department, but I didn’t hear anything from them, so I bought three more from the Distribution center, out of my own pocket. So guess what the FedEx man brought me this morning? The five keyboards! Now we’re ready for anything! Dad is on vacation this week, so I had him help me with the class on Tuesday. I don’t think teaching piano is his thing, even though he had lessons as a kid. He had a lot more fun going to Webelos day camp yesterday and today.
      John got his most expensive birthday present ever, Tuesday evening. His new glider arrived. What, you didn’t know he bought another glider? It’s not so expensive this time around, because he’s splitting the cost with another guy. It’s a special glider for fat guys, so the tail is weighted with copper. You have to weigh at least 170 to fly it. (Of course that doesn’t sound fat to most of us. ) Go, John!
      Monica has purchased her own cat shaver to shave Ramona. No more traumatic rides to the groomer in the cat carrier! Monica says that Ramona doesn’t really mind the shaves. I ought to shave Xena and Oreo, since the heat seems to be getting to them. Every evening they stretch themselves out long on the picnic table and droop their heads over the edge.
      Remember I’m cooking dinner this Sunday evening, the 1st. We’ll be eating at five. Let me know if you’re coming! It seems like forever since we’ve seen some of you.
      Lots of love, Mom

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Dear Kids,
      Dad and I went out looking at cars Friday afternoon, and we found out that last January was the best time to buy a Toyota Sienna. December and January are when they go from the rental agencies to the auctions to the dealers, or at least the dealers we’re interested in. Incredible Motors, in North Salt Lake, has the best prices, but they don’t actually have the cars sitting in their lot. You tell them what you want, and they call you when they get one in, and you save a couple of thousand dollars over the other dealers. They said there are hardly any 2008 Siennas coming into the auctions now, and the 2009's won’t start coming until December. It’s funny, because Dad and I were looking last January, but I didn’t want to have to buy new blizzak tires in the middle of the winter. So we waited until we took the blizzaks off the Windstar, which wasn’t until the first of June. Anyway, we didn’t buy a car. Yet.
      Meanwhile, the Windstar is gone. (Cry, cry). Dad was convinced that it would blow its engine any day, and it should only be driven in an emergency. I told him that if it was sitting in the driveway, I was going to drive it anyway. We compromised by taking it to a junkyard on North Redwood Road, and they gave us $200, because it was drivable. If we’d had them come and get it, it would have been a free tow, that’s all. So now we just have the truck. I really miss that beloved Windstar. We had so many great adventures in it.
      My piano class for the Lighthouse Branch is going great guns. Tuesday was the second lesson, and 17 people showed up. (And there are 4 or 5 more people who want to start in the next week or two.) We had to double up on keyboards, which was OK, but people really do better by themselves. I’ve requested more keyboards from the Church Music department, but I don’t know if we’ll get them. And we really could use one more teacher! Does anybody out there want to come help us? It’s Tuesdays at 4:00, until 5 or 5:30, or whenever. What’s really fun is to see everybody laughing and helping each other out. I plan to have some of them playing the organ in Sacrament Meeting as soon as they start into the simplified hymn book.
      The grandpa of the Tongan family across the street died on Monday morning. He was exactly Dad’s age. The circle was filled with police cars, a fire truck, and an ambulance, and they had him on the front lawn, pounding on his chest. I don’t know how long they had been pounding, but it was obviously too long. Finally they took him away in the ambulance. It was heart trouble. I talked to the grandma the next day. (She said, “Thank goodness for the Plan of Salvation.”) All eight of their kids and spouses and 14 grandchildren have been at the house ever since, and their cars fill up the circle and stretch down the street. Every night is like a luau.
      Life is good! I love you all! Mom

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Dear Kids,
      When Dad and I got home from the cabin, Oreo was looking very ragged–pieces of fur pulled out, a wound in his leg, limping, and a soulful, dejected look on his face. We haven’t seen his magpie at all. I’m guessing it was a very violent breakup, maybe with a fatality on the other side. Or maybe she took up with a new mate, and they both attacked him. Whatever, Oreo is very lonely now, but he’s getting back to normal. You know how it is when a chapter in your life closes . . . .
      Our trip to Pocatello on Saturday was lots of fun. Nora and Addie and Paige rode with us, besides Donna and Bevan, so it was a carfull of fun. (I’m proud of the Windstar. 260+ miles, and it’s still taking us places, although we plan to look for a new car this weekend.) Sterling’s baptism was wonderful, of course, and we had a great dinner at Vanessa and Trent’s house afterwards. I can’t believe this house they’ve moved into! I had seen the outside before, but you have to be inside to see how absolutely huge it is. Vanessa noted that there’s plenty of room for the kids to run around, and the kids were definitely doing just that. Vanessa and Trent have lots of plans for painting, carpet, light fixtures, etc., since the house was built in the 70's. Dad was impressed with the solid oak doors.
      My piano class for the Spanish Branch started Tuesday, and lots of people showed up. Some of them brought their own keyboards, and some of them borrowed the ones I brought. It was bedlam. My lesson plan went to pot. Marie and Elise were lots of help, and we circulated around, making sure they could find middle C, and starting them out in the two beginning books I’m using. One thing you don’t realize, if you’ve never played the piano, is how hard it is to put your thumb on a key, along with your other fingers. Most of my new students are very enthusiastic, and I’m hoping to get things more organized and running smoothly.
      Jeanne and Melissa just stopped by, on their way to a bridal shower in their old ward. They had been in traffic all day, and they needed a place to change. It was fun to talk to them. I had forgotten how much fun Melissa is. She knows absolutely everything about everybody, just like Jeanne.
      Remember I’m cooking Sunday dinner on August 1. That seems like a long way off, but summer is absolutely flying by.
      Lots of love, Mom

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Dear Kids,
      Donna is having a girl! She had her ultrasound last Friday, and it’s most definitely and completely a girl! Donna brought home a whole string of pictures, some better than others. One of them only showed a foot.
      Sterling’s baptism is this Saturday, July 10th, at 4:00 pm in Pocatello. It’s not in the usual church building where we’ve always gone, so call Vanessa for directions if you’re planning to go. Their home phone number isn’t working right now, because of their move, but Vanessa’s cell # is 208 406 1629. Vanessa figured most of us Utahns wouldn’t be able to come, because of the distance, but Dad and I are going for sure, and Donna and Bevan will be riding with us. I’m looking forward to seeing the new 70's house the Suttons’s have moved into. I saw it once before, and it has a great yard! Lots of possibilities inside, too!
      My normal date for cooking Sunday dinner is usually the 2nd Sunday of the month, but Dad and I are way off schedule because of our travels, so I think I’ll wait till the first Sunday in August, which is August 1st. (A great day!) Our family reunion at Colter Bay will be August 12-14 (a Thursday to a Saturday), and Nora has been busy making food assignments. It should be lots of fun. Dad and I are looking forward to camping out in our tent. (Dad, especially.) We have this great tent we’ve hardly ever used!
      Dad and I have been at the cabin practically full time the last couple of weeks. Dad is doing his annual painting job, putting oil stain on the cabin, and I have my usual projects. Naturally there isn’t time to do everything. Then there’s the excitement of shooting magpies. They especially love anything with meat and rice, so we know just how to lure them into the yard. Bevan is definitely the best shot. No matter how many he picks off, they keep coming back for the bait. I think they dare each other to go take a nibble.
      I’ll be starting my piano class for the Spanish branch next Tuesday. I’ve been printing music books and organizing my materials. The Church sent me 10 Casio keyboards to use, so I’ve been unpacking them and trying them out. I sort of feel like the people in River City when the Wells Fargo Wagon arrived and they got their band instruments and uniforms. Harold Hill says, “I always think there’s a band!” Well, I’m definitely going to have a piano class. I’m not sure yet who will be there, but it should be fun. Marie Searle and Elise Fulton are going to be my assistants.
      So much going on! So much fun! Love, Mom

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Dear Kids,
      Nora and Vanessa are both having boys! And both of their due dates have been moved up a week. Meanwhile, Donna is hoping they don’t move up her due date. She’s due the day after the BYU-Utah game, and she wants to have football completely over with when the baby comes. This should be interesting!
      Vanessa and Trent have moved into the new house, but as of Sunday night, they still hadn’t closed on it. Vanessa said, “We’re squatters.” I’m sure it will all work out all right. They’re glad to have a big flat yard where the kids can run around without falling off the cliff, and a level street where they can ride their bikes. Vanessa still doesn’t know when Sterling’s baptism will be. I’m sure they’ll let us all know in plenty of time.
      Oreo is still seeing his magpie, but when he notices me watching, he walks back to the house with lots of dignity. The magpie has no dignity at all, and screeches at him all the time. After all, what’s a mate for?
      The McGettigans advertised the ducks on and gave them away that same night, to a woman who said she had a farm. Who would believe it? I thought it was strange when Seth’s dad sold his herd of cows online.
      Life is busy, and I love you all! Mom

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Dear Kids,
      It seems like I’ve been obsessed with birds lately: baby ducks along the river, sandhill cranes, Reggie (cry, cry), magpies . . . my life is filled with birds. And so it continues. Monday night we were escorting the McGettigans home from a bike ride (they don’t have lights on their bikes, and it had gotten dark) and a lady walked by us with a box full of little brown baby ducks. I thought they were hers, and she was gathering them up, but it turns out she was dumping them! A wild duck had hatched them, and then abandoned her brood. The lady dumped them in Halling’s yard (Jennifer Longhurst and Micah) and she said the neighborhood cats would take care of them. The ducklings started to scatter over the neighborhood, so Kara and Sam and I gathered them up. (One had already been mutilated by a cat, awful sight!) Glen McGettigan, who seems to hate all animals, said they definitely weren’t going to stay at his house, but Jana was all sympathy and found them a box. I suggested that when they got a little bigger we could take them to the Jordan River and let them go. I don’t know if they’re river ducks or not, but who could abandon them to the wicked neighborhood cats? (who were scowling at Dad and me as we rode away on our bikes.)
      I called Vanessa and left her a message because we want to know: (1) Is she having a boy or a girl? (2) Are they living in a house or a motel now? and (3) When is Sterling being baptized? So far, I haven’t heard anything. Vanessa, are you out there? Please communicate with us! We want to know!
      Fathers Day is this coming Sunday, and if you don’t have a present for Dad, and you want to go in on something, I’m collecting money for an air compressor and nail gun to give him. Sure, we already have both of the above at the cabin, but they’re never here at our house when we need them. I know it’s not a very exciting present (unless you’ve discovered how exciting and fun a nail gun can be) but if you want to go in on it, let me know, and I’ll put your name on the card.
      Sunday dinner was a blast. Thanks to all of you who came! The food turned out exactly right (meaning there was enough for everybody, but hardly a crumb left over) and there was no stopping the fun.
      I love you all! Mom

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Dear Kids,
      I knew there would be another chapter to the story of Oreo and the magpie, but I didn’t know it would be so strange. The widowed magpie has selected Oreo as his new mate (because he’s black and white, of course), and as the British would say, they’re “walking out together.” Sometimes Oreo walks ahead, with the magpie following, screeching, and sometimes Oreo follows the magpie, who is always still screeching. Sometimes Oreo stops to roll in the dirt, and the magpie watches him, screeching, of course. It’s a very noisy business. Dad has offered to “take care of” the magpie, but what would Oreo do for fun? What would I do for entertainment? I’m completely fascinated, watching this odd pair.
      At the cabin, however, nobody has any sympathy for the magpies. Bevan has already collected two bounty payments. (It’s still $5.00 per bird, if you can show me the carcass.)
      More excitement at the cabin: the spring flooding has threatened the bridge, and the whole area by the gate is under water. Donna has some great pictures on her blog. Two years ago, when the water was high, there were news trucks from a couple of the television stations there. Now the danger is much worse, but the news people are down in Sandy and Murray, taking pictures of Little Cottonwood Creek. There have been some wild thunderstorms that have added to the water flow, but luckily it was a little cooler yesterday, and the snowmelt has slowed down. I wish I were at the cabin, so I could have the fun of watching the river. But then, of course, I wouldn’t be watching Oreo and the magpie.
      I’ll be cooking Sunday Dinner this coming Sunday, the 13th. We’ll be eating at 5:00 pm. Let me know if you’re going to be there!
      Lots of love, Mom

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Dear Kids,
      38 years ago today, Dad and I were married in the Provo temple. For our anniversary, we’re going to climb Ensign Peak tonight, when I finish teaching my piano lessons. With Dad’s birthday, our anniversary, and Fathers Day all within three weeks of each other, we have lots of celebrating to do.
      Dad’s birthday present, which I mentioned in my last letter, was a great success. The two magpies were getting bolder and bolder, and Oreo was looking more and more ragged. Saturday night, he was running along the top of the fence, with the magpies chasing him and pecking his tail. He hopped down and gazed at us, saying “Can’t you do something?” We did. Sunday morning I put out the cat food and left the patio door wide open. Dad crouched down by the refrigerator with his new birthday present. Those bold magpies hopped down to eat the cat food, turning their big bellies broadside to Dad’s sights. He plugged one of them, and it fell over dead. He tried to get the other one, but he couldn’t reload fast enough. All this time, Oreo was hiding in the basement. But when the gunfire was over, he strode out proud as he could be. I carried the magpie carcass out beyond the tower, with Oreo following me, his ears up and his tail up. We threw it in the dirt, as a warning to other magpies. End of story? Not quite. Later I heard more squawking, and I saw Oreo out in the dirt, tossing around the carcass, batting it with his paws, and rolling in the dirt, while the mate screeched at him from the top of the fence. Now other magpies have come around, and Oreo openly taunts them while they squawk at him. I’m sure there will be another chapter to this story.
      We had a great Memorial Day weekend. When Dad and I got to the cabin Sunday night, every bed was taken, so we had an opportunity to sleep in the agricultural shed. The “shelves” were very comfortable. The next day we had a great barbecue. Thanks to everyone who planned it!
      I’ll be cooking Sunday dinner again on June 13th, and we’ll eat at 5:00 pm. Let me know if you’re coming.
      Lots of Love, Mom

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Dear Kids,
      Most of you have heard about Reggie’s sad death on Friday. He was fifteen years old, after all, and I had been dreading it for a long time. But I hoped he might live forever! Love birds are related to parrots, and they can live a hundred years! So I had high hopes for Reggie. But about noon on Friday, he started tucking his head down in his nesting cup, so I knew he was dying. I brought his cage upstairs to the kitchen so I could watch over him, and pretty soon he got that filmy look over his eyes. Later, in the evening, I took him out of his cage and held him on my chest, while I talked to him. (Yes, I even said, “Go towards the light, Reggie.”) Dad and I watched a couple of movies, and then we had to go to bed, so I put Reggie back in his cage (which I had thoroughly cleaned–I didn’t want him to die in a dirty cage. ) I put the cage down by the side of our bed, because otherwise I would have been getting up all night long to see how he was doing. He climbed up to the top of the cage and sat on the edge of his nesting cup, with his head against his beloved bell. About eleven, when I was half asleep, I heard him fall, but I didn’t look. At one thirty I woke up and shined my flashlight on the cage, and he was splayed out on the bottom, with his eyes open, not moving. I got up and found him a coffin, and I took the empty cage out to the trash–it was totally beat up, anyway.
      Saturday we had a funeral and buried him under the apricot tree. I played “Taps” on the accordion. Since then, we’re getting used to not having a bird. When I walk past the spot where his cage used to be, I reach up to tap on the wires, and there’s nothing there. Dad says we need to get another bird, but I’m not ready for that yet.
      Yesterday I went for a long bike ride along the Jordan River. The weather was beautiful, after out snowstorm the day before. I saw a mother duck with nine babies. It reminded me of when you kids were little.
      Two very aggressive magpies have taken up residence in our cherry tree. They chase our cats and peck them, and they eat the catfood that I put outside. Tomorrow is Dad’s birthday, and I’m getting him a new pellet gun.
      Humm, everything I wrote today is about birds. Looks like I need to move ahead with my life.
      Lots of love, Mom

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Dear Kids,
      In all the worry we’ve had about Jacob and Missy, I never did mention how delighted we are to have three new grandbabies on the way. If you haven’t heard the details: Vanessa the middle of October, Nora the middle of November, and Donna the day after Thanksgiving. I would be more specific about the dates, but I’m embarrassed to say I can’t remember them exactly. Hey, I already need a chart to remember the 41 birthdays in the family. But it’s great to have new grandchildren on the way. When Dad and I were in a young marrieds’ ward at BYU, they sent around a sign-up sheet in Relief Society for new babies, so the Relief Society could plan to help. When I wrote my name on the list, I used to call out, “I think I’ll sign up to have a baby! Anybody else?” So, even though I’m long past that stage, “Anybody else?”
      I spent part of Friday at Al and Missy’s, and Missy seems to be doing a little better. We were happy to see her at Carson’s game Friday evening. She was sitting down the whole time, of course, but she was cheerful. Carson did great, too, by the way. He plays first base, and he made at least two superb catches.
      Jacob is doing better, too. He’s going places with the family now, and is getting on a more normal schedule. We keep praying for both Jacob and Missy.
      Dad and I spent last Friday night and Saturday at the cabin, and it looks as green as Ireland, as Donna said. May and June are always beautiful there! A couple of sandhill cranes have been hanging around, hopefully looking for a nesting place. If you haven’t seen them, they’re gigantic, with an 8-foot wingspan. Even when they’re way overhead, you can hear their “blurrp blurrp” call. We watched them catch an updraft and circle around, higher and higher, like John in a glider. When they got high enough, they sailed over the mountain towards Heber.
      I haven’t called Paul yet this week, but we presume he’s doing OK in Georgia. Paul, how about putting updates on facebook so we’ll all know how you’re doing? Just a line or two would be fine.
      What a family! I love you all! Mom

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Dear Kids,
      I’ve kept putting off writing my weekly letter, hoping for good news about either Missy or Jacob. And now things are looking better for Jacob! As of Thursday, his MRI had come back “clean,” meaning no brain tumor, but what was causing his “episodes?” To keep him conscious, John had bought him a mini-nintendo, and he played it for 12 hours straight on Thursday, while I sat beside him, making sure he didn’t drift off. It worked fine. Friday he had more new games, but it was getting harder for him to stay conscious. A sleep study was scheduled, but it was 2 weeks away, and meanwhile John and Heather were going crazy. If the sleep study didn’t isolate the problem, the next step was trying different drugs, so John persuaded their pediatrician to start directly on the drugs. Adderol was the first try, (related to ritlyn,) and it seems to be doing something, at least. Jacob is still having “episodes,” but he has also had some good times in between. It might just be a matter of finding the right dosage of the right medication. We’re so hoping that it might be resolved soon!
      And Missy? I just checked her blog, and it sounds like she’s still having plenty of trouble with her infection, or whatever it is. I think the hardest thing of all is not knowing exactly what’s wrong. We’ll keep praying for both Jacob and Missy. If anybody else has anything weird going on, let us know, so we can pray for you, too!
      So much else has happened, but it all seems like a long time ago. Like Addie’s baptism a week ago today–it was so wonderful! Addie looked just like Nora did, when she was baptized. It was great seeing so many of you there. Especially Sharon. Oh, yeah, Sharon was here for four days, with Lucy. That was a treat! Tuesday Sharon and I went to Matt Allen’s marriage in the Salt Lake Temple, and it was beautiful, like they always are. We were surprised that Elder Holland performed the marriage, but he gave a fantastic talk. Of course.
      What else? Oh, yeah, Paul left for Georgia (or is it Alabama) on Thursday, after a send-off party at Tom and Kim’s Wednesday night. The drive only took him two days. We’ll probably hear from him tonight or tomorrow.
      Sunday dinner last week was fun, too. Charles and Julie came, with their kids, Sammy and Lillian. We had a great time visiting with them, and the rest of you who were here. The kids even picked up the toys before they went home! (Or was it their parents?)
      What a fine family we have! Lots of love, Mom

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Dear Kids,
      We're still all very worried about Missy, and everybody's asking questions, so luckily she’s been updating her blog fairly often. It’s all there in vivid detail. Of course we’re all praying that she’ll get well soon and be able to come home from the hospital. She says it’s been 20 days now. I’ve been helping out with Carson and Ellie one day a week since she went in, and it’s nice to get to know them better. When all the grandkids are together, they’re just a blur to me. (As in blurred streaks running by.)
      This Saturday is Addie’s baptism, as I’m sure you all know, at 4:00 pm, at Nora and James’s stake center. The address is 8150 South Grizzly Way. If you don’t know where that is, just find it on Google Earth, or use your GPS, or as a last resort, call Nora for driving directions. It isn’t very far from their house. There’s going to be a dinner afterwards, at Nora and James’s. The following day I’ll be cooking Sunday Dinner, and I realize most of you out-of-towners won’t want to make the drive back to the valley, but the Sunday after that is Mothers Day, when Dad and I will be visiting Grandma and Grandpa Allen. So come if you can on the 2nd, but if you can’t come, I won’t be offended.
      We’re looking forward to Sharon’s arrival Saturday afternoon, just before the baptism. She’s bringing Lucy, but not the boys. She got a super deal on an airline ticket, and couldn’t resist.
      Paul will be here too, and we can all say goodbye to him, because the following Thursday he’s heading east to Georgia. At first it was going to be Texas, but it looks like business will be even better in Georgia. (Like that line from Music Man, “Wherever the people are as green as the money... friend.”) I’m sure he’ll have a great summer there!
      Last Saturday morning Dad and I went to the cabin, and the ground was covered with snow. By late afternoon, it looked like springtime again. You’ve gotta love the cabin weather! I finished building the last of the “storage shelves” in the agricultural shed, and they look very sturdy–so sturdy that I took a nap on one of the top shelves. It was very comfy.
      I hope you’re all doin’ great and lovin’ it! Mom

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Dear Kids,
      Lots of you have been asking how Missy is doing, and as of yesterday, she was still in the hospital. Dad and I visited her on our way to Heber. She was sitting up, smiling, talking on the phone, and her mom, who was there, said she was looking really good, compared with how she looked at first. She’s taking a medication that seems to be helping, even though they still haven’t figured out what’s causing her problems. She was hoping to come home today. Eleven days there has been tough. She said she misses her “babies.” While Dad and I were there, a nurse was trying to draw some of her blood. There didn’t seem to be much left in Missy. The nurse said the doctor wanted to test for something “weird.” I don’t doubt it’s weird, whatever it is.
      Dad and I were on our way to Heber to swap out our truck for John’s little yellow car, and to see the famous new piano in John and Heather’s living room. It really is spectacular. It has great tone! It’s the same size and brand as mine (Boston,) but shiny black. Dad and I also had fun just hanging out at John and Heather’s house, and visiting with Tom’s family, who were also there. At one point, all the kids were out in the back yard, and it looked like a preschool.
      Speaking of pianos, I had my annual spring recital on Saturday, here at our house. So many of my students are playing such difficult songs now, it was like a real concert. We’ve never had such a great program. I miss the days when all you kids played in my recitals, but time marches on.
      I had to have an emergency root canal last Wednesday, on a tooth that Dr. Condie worked on last June. He said, way back then, that it would give me further problems. Luckily he was able to do the root canal the day I called, but it’s taking its own sweet time about healing. I was on hard drugs for five or six days, but now I’m down to ibuprofin. Not chewing anything has been the hardest. I’m getting tired of mashed potatoes and ice cream.
      I’ll be cooking Sunday dinner again on May 2nd. Normally I go for the second Sunday of the month, but that will be Mothers Day, so Dad and I will be visiting Grandma and Grandpa Allen that day. So, if you can come on the 2nd, let me know.
      I love you all! Mom

Monday, April 12, 2010

Dear Kids,
      I put off writing my letter all last week, waiting to see how Missy was doing, so I could report on her condition. As most of you know, they finally discovered she had a bacterial infection in her stomach (sounded like “difficult clostridium colitis”) and now that they’re treating it, she’s doing a lot better! Thank goodness! So I was finally sitting down this afternoon to write my letter, when John called and said Jacob was on the way to Primary Children’s Medical Center. Seems like he keeps passing out. It had been “only” once a day or so, but then this morning he passed out about five times, and two more times in the car, as Heather got ready to take him to Salt Lake. So she took him to the Heber hospital instead, and they transported him by ambulance. Here in Salt Lake, they tested absolutely everything, and couldn’t find anything wrong. His heart is plenty healthy. So he has an appointment with a neurologist. As of this evening, John was on his way to Salt Lake to pick up Heather and Jacob and bring them home. At least at home Jacob has a little watchdog–Aaron–who follows him around and reports to Heather when he passes out. I hope somebody can get to the root of his problem. It really helps to know that! (Ask Allen and Missy!)
      Does anybody want a couple of useless cats, who won’t even go after a live mouse a couple of feet away? The other morning, Dad was getting dressed to go to work, and when he picked up his pants, a mouse fell out of the leg. It ran into our closet and sat by the dresser, looking scared. I went into the kitty room and got Oreo, and then set him down right next to the mouse. He looked at it and walked away. So I went and got Xena, and showed her the mouse, and she did the same thing–looked disinterested and walked away. Finally I had to catch the mouse myself and take it outside (I didn’t have the heart to kill it.) What use are cats, if they won’t go for a mouse? But this morning there was a dead mouse on the back deck, belly ripped open, and guts spread all over. Very messy. I left it there, and after I got home from my bike ride, it had disappeared. Maybe our magpies ate it. Maybe they got tired of the cat food they steal from the cat dish.
      It seems like Easter and Conference were such a long time ago! It was fun to see so many of you at the cabin. They Easter Bunny didn’t forget us there, either–in spite of six inches of new snow, he delivered some chocolate rabbits and eggs in the living room. We saw his tracks–or maybe it was that nice orange cat that hangs around there now. Whatever.
      I hope you’re all doin’ great and lovin’ it. How about everybody cuttin’ back on those trips to the hospital?
      Lots of love, Mom

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Dear Kids,
      I just stopped by Nora’s house to pick up some metallic gold fabric. She’s been painting her kitchen cupboards for more than a week now, and she’s almost ready to do the last coat and hang the cupboard doors back up. I know how exciting that is, when you’re nearly done with a project, and you want to see how it’s going to look. Last Saturday I built the first two bunks in the agricultural shed at the cabin, and of course I had to bring out a mattress and try them out. After all these years of carrying the plans around in my head, it was fun to see real bunks. Same with Nora’s cabinets, only she just recently decided to paint them white. She’s in that mood where you absolutely have to change something in your house!
      I was borrowing metallic fabric because I need to make Golden Plates bean bags for Primary. We’re going to be throwing them into a Hill Cumorah that I’m making out of plywood (left over from the bunks.) I’m going to paint it green and decorate it with moss and leaves and twigs. Then the kids will get to take turns tossing the plates into the hill. Yeah, maybe it sounds irreverent, but I do what I can to keep things lively. And to get them singing. They tend to stare at me while I sing, like nursery kids. But I finally know enough of their names, and I’m not so terrified, that I can do something about it. Last Sunday I had a silky treasure bag filled with seashells, and each one had the name of a song taped to it. They knew they would get to keep whatever they pulled out, so when I got out the bag, all their hands went up. But I had been paying attention during the opening songs, and I said, “Only four kids were singing: José, Miguel, David, and Anita. They’re going to get to choose!” You can bet they all started singing after that. If they didn’t know the words, they pretended. (I’ve done that too!) By the end of singing time, they were singing better than ever before. When I ran out of seashells, one kid said he wanted the necklace I was wearing. So it was lively. My goal. Every week is fun.
      Dad and I are looking forward to conference this weekend. It might be very quiet at the cabin! So far, no rooms have been reserved at all! But Dad and I don’t mind a quiet weekend. Allen’s family and Nora’s family have RSVP’d for Sunday dinner, however. I’m making tortilla soup, the kind with chicken and peppers and picante sauce, where you dump in tortilla chips and cheese and sour cream. I haven’t made it for a long time, and it sounded good. Let me know if any of the rest of you are coming for dinner, so I’ll make enough. There’s still snow on the sledding hill, and the sleds are still out, so that could be a lot of fun, too.
      Hope you’re all doin’ great and lovin’ it! Mom

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Dear Kids,
      There’s not enough new snow in the mountains to tempt me to go snowboarding today, and it’s too cold for a bike ride. Might as well write my family letter! Things are quiet here, as usual. Paul came by on his way home from New Mexico (unfortunately he failed the test he went to take–but no matter, they went to Arches!) and now he’s back in Logan. Vanessa’s family was here Friday night on their way to California. They had planned to stay over at Nora’s, but she’s painting her kitchen cabinets, so everybody came here (Nora’s family, included.) It was lots of fun. Nora called it a late-nighter. She said it’s better than a sleepover, because everybody goes home to bed.
      I did my first long bike ride last Wednesday. It was cold, but fun. I rode along the Jordan River parkway, of course. It’s way too early for baby ducklings, but there were lots of duck pairs doing a lot of quacking. Geese, too, and swans. It’ll be a great summer.
      On Saturday, Dad and I did some more good work on the ag shed, and we painted the inside with polyurethane. Next up–the very large shelves I’m going to build, exactly the right size to hold camping mattresses. I’m hoping to do at least a couple of them this weekend. It’s very exciting. I’ve been thinking about this project for more than ten years, from the time Grandma and Grandpa had the cabin at Timberlakes. I wanted to build a bunkhouse back then, but they sold the cabin. I kept the plans in my head, though. So it’s fun to have it this far along. One bad thing, though–I was helping Dad paint on the polyurethane, and I did a little too much with my right arm, which I thought was all rehabilitated. It let me know I was wrong. So now my shoulder hurts again. Dang.
      However, life is still good. Let me know about your plans for Conference/Easter weekend. Only Allen has RSVP’d so far.
      Lots of love, Mom

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Dear Kids,
      We had a lot of fun at Sunday dinner last week, but we didn’t realize it was an important day: Reggie’s birthday! He was 15, and we didn’t even celebrate. I realized it later that night. Speaking of which (dinner, not Reggie), I’ll be cooking Sunday dinner again on April 4th, at the cabin. It’s conference Sunday, and also Easter. Everybody is invited. If you want to stay over Friday or Saturday night, you can reserve a room by calling Donna or me. Dad and I are going to be sleeping in the bunk . . . oops, the agricultural shed. I don’t know if any bunks (oops, shelves) will be built by then, but the inside walls and ceiling are finished. It looks really good.
      My sugar and chocolate boycott only lasted eleven days. I got over the physical addiction after about a week, but I couldn’t handle the mental. It was terrible waking up in the morning and knowing I wasn’t going to have any chocolate all day long. I could have kept going, but I couldn’t figure out a good reason to keep torturing myself. So I quit. That first bite of chocolate tasted really good. (The dove dark that Vanessa gave me, closely followed by a Lindt truffle.)
      John was on a diet to lose 25 pounds, not because he looked fat, but because he was too heavy to fly his glider, if he took oxygen tanks. And without the tanks, he can’t go higher than 12,000 feet or so. In the meantime, he was advertising the glider for sale. You guessed it. After he lost 20 pounds, he sold the glider. He came to the cabin yesterday to give me my new glasses, and I showed him that Donna’s birthday cake was still out on the counter, and there was a big pail of ice cream in the freezer. (Don’t ask me why there was still cake and ice cream, five days after her birthday. In our house, it would have been long gone.) Well, you guessed the rest. We all tanked up on the cake and ice cream, and I think John enjoyed it the most of all.
      Paul just blew in. He’s on spring break, and on Wednesday he’s going to Farmington, New Mexico, to be fire-alarm certified for Texas. By the way, he’s going to Lubbock now, not San Antonio. At least it isn’t El Paso, he says.
      We had fast Sunday in the Lighthouse branch today, since last week was stake conference, and I got up my nerve to bear my testimony in Spanish. They have the custom of everybody going up to the stand at the start of testimonies, so you have to commit yourself at the beginning of the meeting. So I sat there on the stand, terrified, for the first 15 or 20 minutes. When it was my turn, and I started speaking, I was so scared my words all ran together. But then I looked around and saw all the different people I know, and realized they all wanted to hear what I was saying. So I relaxed and had a really good time. I’m sure I slaughtered their language, but they were all very nice afterwards.
      Life is good. I love you all! Mom

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Dear Kids,
      I’ve been NINE DAYS without sugar and chocolate. It isn’t getting much easier, like I thought it would. I think I’m just battling the bad habit now, not the physical addiction. For most of my adult life, I’ve reached for the chocolate when the going got tough. And without it, everything is tough. If I didn’t have the goal of reporting back on Facebook, I wouldn’t have made it this far.
      This Sunday, the 7th, I’m cooking dinner, so let me know if you can come. I think I’ll make spaghetti. Does anybody want to bring a dessert? I don’t think I can make cupcakes without tasting the batter and the icing, so let me know if you want to bring dessert, or anything else. We’ll be eating at 5:00.
      I went snowboarding with Donna and Bevan on Monday. It was a little bit icy, but lots of fun. We all had a few good falls. I wish we’d get some more good storms, but they always seem to break up or go north when they get here. Like today. A huge storm showed up on the radar, coming this way, but then it just fizzled. Oh, well, I can soon start bike riding again. I’m anxious to get back to the Jordan River Parkway, which I haven’t been on since Sept. 25th, that fateful day. My bike is anxious, too.
      Paul is licensed to install security systems here in Utah, and he actually got a call for an installation in Logan. It was for Michael Ballam’s mother-in-law. I guess it was just a couple of components, not the whole gravy train, but I’m sure Paul did a good job. If Paul goes back to work for Apex this summer, he’ll be in San Antonio, Texas. At least he’s having plenty of good adventures!
      Life is good! Lots of love, Mom

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Dear Kids,
      I’m finishing Day #2 of 40 days without sugar and chocolate, and I’m hoping it gets better than this. People have been asking me why I’m doing it. They thought Hell would freeze over first. Well, I just want to see if I can. I’m planning to report on Facebook at the end of the 40 days, saying whether I made it or not. (People are always announcing that they’re going off diet coke or mountain dew, or whatever, but you never hear back from them.)
      Tuesday I went snowboarding at Brighton, because their snow report said they had six new inches, but that was only in their dreams. On the ground, it was maybe an inch. I rode the lift with one of the employees, and he said it was definitely a “groomer” day. I didn’t stay long. It’s that season pass I bought–I keep hoping I can get my money’s worth. There was a new storm today, and they say they got 11 inches, so how much is that, really? Maybe two? But I’m gullible. I might get Donna and Bevan to go back with me on Monday, and we’ll see if it’s any better. It’s a strange winter when there’s more snowfall at the cabin than at Brighton!
      I visited Grandma and Grandpa today, and they seem to be doing fine. Meals on Wheels came while I was there, and Grandma was disappointed that it was spaghetti and meatballs. She said even their cat won’t eat those meatballs. Since their meals from the day before were still in the refrigerator (meatloaf, which they don’t like,) I persuaded them to bail out of Meals on Wheels. Too much of it gets wasted, and it spoils their day when it’s something they don’t like. Grandma and I went to Smiths and bought up a whole pile of Lean Cuisine-type meals that were on sale. At least they’ll know what they’re getting! Grandma was excited about everything we bought.
      Thanks to all of you who sent in your afghan pictures to Bonnie. If you haven’t seen the book yet, I have a copy. It’s really fun! There are 30 years worth of pictures, starting in the 70's, with Grandma in her big glasses knitting in the living room of the alligator-pit house. All the pictures of you kids turned out really well! So thanks.
      I’ll be fixing Sunday Dinner on March 7th. I know it’s the first Sunday, not the second, but we’re having stake conference that day so it will work out well for us. We’re planning to eat at five. Let me know if you can come!
      Lots of love, Mom

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Dear Kids,
      My brother Charley sent out an e-mail announcing the birth of Bekah and Dave’s new daughter, Amelia Grace, born on Valentines day. It’s only remarkable because she’s #200 in Grandma and Grandpa Allen’s family. (I think there are almost 100 great-grandchildren, too.) It would have been nice to have #200 come from our family, but Sharon wouldn’t have wanted to wait three more weeks to have Lucy, not matter what the honor.
      Last Thursday I tended Meg and Macie while Vanessa went skiing with her friends (plus Tom and Donna and Bevan.) The girls were really cute. Since I’m now into jewelry making (thanks to Donna and Sharon,) I took orders from Meg and together we made her a bracelet, necklace, and earrings. The earrings were my first, and they turned out great. Meg wore them all day, along with the necklace and bracelet. That girl is devoted to glamor!! Macie climbs on everything, and she usually falls off. The poor thing had several new bruises by the end of the day. It reminded me of the poem I used to recite about Vanessa, when she was a toddler: “She climbed before she walked, and she sang before she talked.” I haven’t heard Macie sing, but Vanessa says she loves music. Sarah and Sterling stayed home in Idaho because of school.
      I’m still having fun leading the Primary music in the Lighthouse Branch. I keep trying new gimmicks. I’ve used the primary lamp and the house puzzle, and we’ve done fishing (with real water in a fish bowl,) bowling, and the treasure bag with polished rocks. I’m going do a rhythm band next week, with borrowed instruments from Nora’s preschool. Anything for variety! I’m starting to know some of the kids by name now, and they don’t all look alike any more. I’m enjoying Relief Society, too, and it looks like I’m the chorister in there, too. They call on me every week. I’m “the tall lady with the unpronounceable name,” since they can’t say “Ackerson.” I found out I’m not supposed to have any callings at all, since my records aren’t there, so I’ve been trying to get my records transferred. You’d think I was trying to rob Fort Knox! I finally had to talk to President Bassett about it. He said they want couples to go to church together. I said, “So, if we get divorced, there’s no problem? You’ll transfer my records?” He said this is one of the strangest cases he’s ever handled.
      Dad and I are in the middle of printing more Murphy-Ure ancestor books. There are the usual problems with toner and drum cartridges and recalcitrant printers. We’re moving ahead, though. Life is good!
      Lots of love, Mom

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Dear Kids,
      I can’t believe I’ve been home from Michigan for a whole week. I miss all the Thackers, especially the little ones, especially the very littlest one. But life here is good. I’m back to teaching piano and playing chess at the Harmon Home and visiting Grandma and Grandpa and working at the cabin. I nailed up some more wood on the inside of the ag shed, and it’s looking really good. If you plug in a heater it stays pretty warm inside, because it’s so well insulated. I think Dad and I are going to have a winter campout in there, as soon as I take down the scaffolding.
      Sunday dinner was really fun, especially because Monica was here. Allen and Missy came by to say Hi, before their Superbowl party, and then we had quite a gang for dinner, with John’s family and Nora’s family and Donna and Bevan, and Monica. And all the kids. They took Reggie out of his cage and gave him a good workout, flying around. He was especially excited to have ten kids racing after him. In fact, had more excitement in one day than he usually gets in several months. Can you believe he’ll be fifteen years old next month? I think he spent about five years with John and Heather, five years at Nora’s house, and five years here, off and on.
     More of our family keep signing up for Facebook, with Bevan as the latest one. He already has 19 friends! I probably spend way too much time surfing around Facebook, and Dad is even worse. Last night he was laughing over a video of one of his bus driver friends doing yo-yo tricks. Then he was fascinated by another video of the same friend’s toddler twins banging on the piano. I said, “This is crazy. We’ve sunk really low.” He didn’t agree. At least we ended up turning off of our computers to watch Perry Mason. We can always agree on Perry and Della.
     Life is good! I love you all! Mom

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Dear Kids,
     It's dang cold here in Michigan! This afternoon I made a trip to Sams Club, Target, and JoAnns, and the wind cut through me like a knife. Later I found out that with the wind chill it was -1.
     But here inside Sharon and Seth's house it's cozy and warm. Matthew is bowling with two balls and some spray cans and light sabers for bowling pins. Charlie just came home from a Batman birthday party. Sharon was gone too, for a couple of hours, and Lucy Jane let me know she wasn't pleased. It didn't matter that Sharon had just fed her, minutes before leaving. She sucked furiously on the pacifier that you put your finger into, and the tip of my finger went numb. No matter. At night, I'm on the Lucy shift from midnight until 2:00. We walk back and forth and practice Primary songs in Spanish. Lucy doesn't like the Spanish, or the songs, either. She only wants Sharon, so about 2:00 am, we wake up Sharon, and I go back to bed. It all works. This morning I slept in until 7:30 am, and was surprised to open my eyes and see that it was light outside. I thought it was just a porch light.
     Monday morning, before I came to Michigan, I went snowboarding with Donna and Bevan. Nora had planned to come, too, but Addie was sick, so she couldn't get away. We had a great time. Here's a first: once when I crashed and went down, another snowboarder used me for a jump. I didn't even know until I saw him flying over me. Down at the lift, I confronted him about it. He said he could have gotten around me, but it was more fun to jump over me, instead. Is that why snowboarders have such wild reputations? Tuesday, on the plane from Salt Lake to Chicago, I sat by a cute young couple from Alabama. They were on their way home after a long weekend of snowboarding. I said, "Hey, I'm a snowboarder too! I was up at Brighton yesterday!" They were absolutely dumbfounded. The young man kept saying, "I just can't picture you snowboarding at Brighton. I just can't picture it." I don't know if he thought I was too old or too well-mannered or what. I'm not sure I ever really convinced them.
     I'll be home again Tuesday afternoon, Groundhog Day. On the 7th, I'll be cooking Sunday dinner, and we'll be eating at 5:00. Hope to see most of you then!
     Love, Mom

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Dear Kids,
      I was thinking Sharon’s baby would be the next great-grandchild in my family, but who knew there would be three others born in the last four days? Charles and Julie had Lillian Rachel Allen, born on the 17th. Yesterday, Michelle was induced, and gave birth to Elijah David Findlay. A few hours later, Russell and Kristyn Allen had Steven Andrew Allen, born in Sacramento. I won’t give all the details of times and birth weights and sizes. You can see there’s an avalanche. Andy said his grandson is probably #198 in the family. There is supposed to be a big prize for #200. Too bad if Sharon and Seth were upstaged by all these other births, and still come out as #199, and don’t win the prize. Of course, when you’re ready to have a baby, you just want to get it done. Heck on the prize.
      Dad and I had a great weekend trip to Idaho. We received a phone call from the Harpers late Thursday night saying that Connie would be married Saturday afternoon in the Rexburg temple. She and her fiancee, Paolo, have been trying to arrange it for a long time. He’s an Italian, in the Italian army, in special forces, most recently deployed to Afghanistan. He got a couple of weeks’ leave, but he had trouble getting into the country because he wore an Afghan headdress and fatigues, had a beard, looked like a terrorist, and joked around with the airport security people in Boston. I think he was detained for a whole day. He finally arrived in Rexburg on Thursday, and that’s when the Harpers made their phone calls. Of course we wouldn’t have missed it for anything. We left Friday afternoon and stayed overnight with Vanessa and Trent, which was really fun. Saturday we drove on up to Rexburg, and met all the Harpers at the temple. Afterwards, we had dinner with Chris and Bruce and some of Bruce’s brothers. And we found out more about Paolo. He’s been shot several times, but they keep patching him up and sending him back out. (No purple hearts and early discharges, like here.) His father was in special forces, and was killed five years ago. Connie’s going to live in Italy, so they can be together when he’s on leave. The whole thing is so un-Connie, un-Rexburg, it’s absolutely fascinating.
      I’m leaving for Michigan Tuesday afternoon, and I’m looking forward to a wonderful week there. It will be fun to play with Charlie and Matthew, and well as seeing our new little granddaughter. Of course she’ll look exactly like Sharon!
      I’ll be fixing Sunday dinner on February 7th. Be there or be square!
      Lots of love, Mom
P.S. I just received the following by e-mail from Andy:
1) From the time Mom & Dad got married (Dec 1943) to the time of their last child, or #13 in the family, (Mark born June 1966) was 22.5 years.
2) From #13 to #25 (Renae married Andy in Feb 1976) the family size doubled in 9 years and 8 months.
3) From #25 to #50 (Jeannie married Richard in Aug 1983) the family size doubled in 7 years and 6 months.
4) From #50 to #100 (Amanda married Dan in May 2001) the family size doubled in 7 years and 9 months.
5) From #100 to #200 (Bekah's baby in Feb 2010) the family size doubled in 8 years and 9 months.
I have fit a least-squares regression exponential curve fit to the numbers. See enclosed EXCEL file. The model predicts about 350 family members by the year 2020.