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.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Dear Kids,
      What a blast we had on Sunday! Thanks to everybody who came to Sunday dinner. I’ve missed it all these months, and I’m glad to be back to my regular life again. All the work and all the fun.
      Last Saturday Dad and I started working on the inside of the bunkh . . . whoops, the agricultural shed at the cabin. We’re nailing up tongue and grove siding on the inside, so the walls will look finished. Next step after that: building the bun . . . . whoops, the storage shelves inside. This is my first real building project since I broke my collarbone, so it’s really exciting.
      I’m still having fun in the Lighthouse Branch Primary, and I’m enjoying the whole block there, but after three hours my head feels like it’s splitting open. No matter–it will get better. People are starting to talk to me in Spanish, instead of English. The man who sat behind me in Sacrament meeting said (in Spanish) that he had thought I didn’t know the language, but since they had called me to be Primary chorister, I must know some. I admitted that it was only some, but I said it was enough for Primary. It probably came out funny, because he laughed.
      Although Dad and I have been looking at replacing the Windstar, and we even test drove a Sienna last week, I don’t really want to change now. A nice shiny Sienna would be out of place among the cars that my Hispanic friends park at the Lighthouse Church. After the block, we all walk out to the parking lot together, and I feel very comfortable climbing into my well-rusted 257K Windstar.
      On Tuesday, January 26th, I’m flying to Michigan to help Sharon with the new baby, although I can probably expect she’ll have a home improvement project lined up for me. I’m happy to do whatever I can. I’ll be coming home on Groundhog Day.
      Bonnie sent out the following message in an e-mail, and she asked me to pass it on to all of you. She wrote:
      I have a favor to ask all of you. I would like to make a book (using shutterfly) like the memory book I made of Mom and Dad's courtship, but with pictures of as many of the afghans mom has knitted over the years. If you can, I would really appreciate if any of you who still have an afghan would have someone take a picture of you holding it (or wrapped up in it, spread out, on your lap, whatever you want to do... be creative) and then email that picture to me, I will put them all into one book so that Mom will have something fun to look at and also just to have a record of what she has done.
      Bonnie’s e-mail is
I just checked my e-mail, and here’s another message from Bonnie: Jamie and Andrea wanted me to pass along this invitation to Adelyn's baby blessing which will be held this Sunday (Jan. 17) at 11:00 a.m. They will be having it at the Amiron Village clubhouse in Orem. It is approximately 1400 north on the East side of State street. Turn onto the road directly south of the Western Community credit union and follow into the club house. If Visitor parking is full you will have to park out on the road by the fence. Call if you have any questions.
      So many fun things going on! Lots of Love, Mom

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Dear Kids,
      I just got home from chess club at the Harman Home, where we had a great time, as usual. I played a Scotsman named Rodger. Several weeks ago he accused me of not having a killer instinct, so I had to prove him wrong. It can get pretty tense in there, but overall, we always have fun.
      Sunday was my first time leading the music in the Spanish branch Primary. What an adventure! I had totally memorized the ten songs we were going to sing, so that wasn’t a problem, but I had no idea what to say in between the songs. I tried different things like “OK, kids, close those song books. You don’t need them.” After which they just stared at me. (Of course, the kids in 5th Ward Primary used to stare at me, too.) So I had to act out everything, like picking up all the song books while we were singing the next song. I figure I can get by with anything right now, and blame it on the language barrier. During the following song I walked around picking up little kids and setting them back in their seats. That felt just like old times in 5th Ward. At the end of singing time, I went off to Relief Society for the first time with Cathy Newton and Pam Aveytua (Joey Anderson’s mom.) The Relief Society president had me introduce myself, and she asked if I was going to be there every week. I was happy to say that I was. Hearing that much Spanish in one morning is like drinking from a fire hydrant, but I assume it will get easier.
      Monday morning Donna and Bevan and Nora and I went snowboarding at Brighton. The snow wasn’t the best, and I had a different board than usual, and I’m in terrible shape, so I didn’t do very well. After just a couple of runs (and a couple of hard falls) I was done for the day. Bevan quit a little early, too, but Donna and Nora kept going and going. I’m looking forward to lots of great trips to Brighton, but I’m waiting for better snow.
      Monica is coming to Utah February 4th for a week of skiing, and Caroline is coming, too. Monica knows there’s always good snow in February, and she’s right.
      I’ll be cooking Sunday dinner this coming Sunday, the 10th. I’m making lasagne, and we’ll be eating at 5:00 pm. Let me know if you’re coming.
      Lots of love, Mom