Sunday, January 25, 2015

Dear Kids,
          Paul is turning 30 today! That’s crazy! That means that Dad and I don’t even have any kids in their 20's any more. I feel like the song in Fiddler on the Roof: "I don’t remember growing older–when did they?" 
           Aubrey is turning 8 tomorrow, and her baptism will be Saturday, February 7, at 11 am, in John’s stake center. He said it’s near the intersection of 1200 South and Hwy. 40 in Heber, but I can’t picture it. John said they will probably send out announcements, but if you need info, call him. I always look forward to baby blessings and baptisms, and with such a wonderful big family as ours, there are always plenty.
          Dad and I are still moving ahead on our basement. We finished all the heat ducts, except for the boots on the end of them, which we special ordered from Home Depot. We haven’t had very good luck with HD’s special ordering lately. We’re still waiting for the trim pieces that they need to finish the installation of our cabinets. It’s been nearly a month. I dread calling them, because nobody knows anything.
          My lungs have been a little worse lately, probably because we make too many trips to Salt Lake, and stay too long. So I was thinking about what I could do to improve things, and the idea came to me that it was time to end my involvement with the Harmen Center. It’s been nearly seven years since I walked in the door, asking if they had a chess club. And it’s been six years since I started my piano class there. I have loved my piano students, and the chess club people are like family, but we’ve had yet another death (4 in five years) and the only other lady besides me can’t come any more, because she’s had to stop driving. So if there’s ever a good time to quit, it would be now. There are fewer people to say goodbye to. Dad and I will still be doing the piano class at the Lighthouse Church, but it’s only an hour, so we won’t have to be in that wretched valley all day. I’m sure it will be a change for the better, but I’m sad to be moving on. As they say in the theater world, though, we’ve had a good run.
          Hope you’re all doin’ great and lovin’ it! Mom

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Dear Kids,
          Surprise! If you haven’t heard, Paul and Stefanie are expecting a little Ackerson around August 12. Paul called and told me in a very roundabout way; he asked me when the family reunion was going to be, and after I double-checked it on the calendar, he said they might not be able to make it because they were expecting a baby right about then. What a punk! I’d had a premonition, so I asked Paul about it just before Christmas, and he flat-out denied it! And then they announced it to her family on Christmas Day, with a little bag of baby things hidden behind the tree, and the video camera showing Lynette looking shocked, all that sort of thing. Paul said they would have told us on their way home, if they had come by the sledding party, etc. etc. Same old thing, the in-laws getting preferential treatment. But it’s the first grandchild for the Riebens, and #31 for us, so I guess it’s OK. Anyway, we’re very excited about their announcement, because every new baby is a wonderful gift from God, whether it’s number one or number thirty one.
          A year ago I joined the Spanish Branch here, and I thought it would be a vacation, that I would be cozily watching everything from behind the organ, maybe learning a little more Spanish here and there. I didn’t think I would be thrown to the wolves. But after my year as Primary president, I’ve now been called to teach Relief Society (I think I mentioned that), and play the organ. Today, I’m giving a talk in Sacrament Meeting, playing the organ, playing the piano in Relief Society, playing for choir practice after church, and then going visiting teaching (in Spanish.) Next week I’ll be teaching my first Relief Society lesson. It’s all good. I don’t have time to regret bailing out on Francis Second Ward. And I’m making a lot of really good friends.
          Our basement is now totally framed, we’ve made more progress on the heat ducts, and Dad has started nailing up electrical boxes. There’s no hurry, except that we’d like to have more room for guests, but it’s a very exciting project nevertheless. I commented to Dad that if we were still on Stillwater Way, with a house full of little kids, some of them would already be sleeping in the basement. Dad said we would already have installed a toilet in the unfinished bathroom. True. We ought to put it in right now, just for old times’ sake.
          Lots of love, Mom

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Dear Kids,
          When you step into our house, you smell freshly-cut wood. That’s because Scott True has been framing our basement. In fact, he’s nearly done. He would have finished on Friday, but he ran out of wood. Which was a good thing. I realized we needed to cut into at least one of the heat trunks and run out a heat duct before he framed around it. So Dad and I got going on that yesterday morning. Like all projects, it grew. The one heat duct was so hard that I realized we’d better do all of them, while we could still get to them. It involved two trips to Home Depot, and many dollars (you know, HD stands for hundreds of dollars, or more likely, thousands) but by nighttime, we had finished all five lines coming out of the main trunk. That doesn’t mean they went all the way out to the end, but they’re out far enough that we can finish them pretty easily. I’m having all the heat vents on the outside walls, down at the floor, instead of how they’re usually done–close in, up on the ceiling. People have tried to convince me that the usual method is the best, but Dad and I slept in a basement bedroom for 25 years, and I know what works. It doesn’t cost that much more, and we’ve done the hard part already.
          Meanwhile, our office cabinets are sitting, waiting for countertops, which can’t be done until our trim pieces arrive. In our big bathroom, the new vanity is sitting, with no sink or faucet. All our office stuff and computer gear is crammed into the play room, and it even covers the door to the toy closet. But I don’t care. What better way to get through January than with big projects?
          What else is going on? Not much. Aubrey’s baptism will be coming up, and I’ll post the details when I get them. Otherwise, there isn’t much to look forward to. Except that, once more, a big snowstorm has been forecasted. It’s supposed to arrive tomorrow. Away with the brown dirt and rocks! Bring it on!
          Hope you’re all doin’ great and lovin’ it! Mom

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Dear Kids,
          Sorry we skipped out on the sledding party on New Year’s Day, but we were anxious to get back to our plumbing. Our office cabinets had been installed on Wednesday, but when the installer tried to put in the new bathroom vanity, he saw that one water line and the sink drain line were behind the drawers. That wasn’t going to work at all. He suggested that we get a plumber in to move the pipes, but thanks to what we learned from John the week before, I was pretty confident we could do it ourselves. The water line was no problem, thanks to the simplicity of pex (you can rent the crimping tool at Ace for just $5.00), but the sink drain was a little more complicated, since we had to run it through a 2x6, and there was an air vent attached to it. But between the two of us, we got it done. Another problem with our installation was that we were missing some trim pieces, which we had to go order from Home Depot, and pay for, and wait for. But in the meantime, we ran into Scott True at John’s house, and he’s ready to frame our basement! So there’s lots of excitement to keep the January doldrums at bay.
          Like most of you, we had incredibly cold weather just before New Year’s. It was -15 here one night, which meant it would have been -20 at the cabin. I knew it was coming, thanks to, and I was worried about our cats, sleeping in the garage. I went online to Amazon and found a cat warming pad that’s pressure-sensitive; it only warms up when it feels the cat sitting on it. (Actually, it’s a 2-cat warmer, since it’s a long rectangle.) I ordered the pad, and for the first time ever, I paid for overnight shipping. It came the next day, and I set it up, but the cats didn’t seem grateful. They always think they ought to be inside the house. Still, they’re always curled up on the pad together now.
           I have new callings in the Spanish branch, because some of our old people are gone, and new ones have been called. (I mean Caucasians–they do most of the heavy lifting.) One of the new ladies is going to take over as Primary president, and I’m going to be teaching Relief Society. I was also released as chorister and sustained as organist. I’m excited about both these callings! I like playing the organ better than leading music, because I’m not the greatest singer. And Primary was fun, but I’m glad to move on from that, too.
          I hope you’re all enjoying the new year as much as we are! Love, Mom