Sunday, December 25, 2016

Dear Kids,
          It’s Christmas morning! It’s snowing! Santa Claus came! The baby Jesus was born! There isn’t a more magical time!
          Thanks to Nora for hosting the Christmas party Friday night! It gets better every year. Thanks to all of you who brought food, and presents, and your own special charm. Dad and I are always proud to see all of you working together, getting along so well, and taking such good care of your children. It’s a magical time of life for us.
            Our hike up Memorial Hill last night was quick and fun. It was nothing like last year, when we trudged through a foot of snow, like the Donner party. There was just a little snowpack on the road, and some mud at the sides. It started raining lightly, so we hurried. I didn’t want anybody getting soaked through. I know lots of families act out the nativity on Christmas eve, and sing Christmas carols, but I always like to hike up to someplace high and look out over the town. I always feel like my life is starting over again, brand new. And if there are kids and kids-in-law and grandkids along with us, it’s that much better.
          We’re looking forward to seeing lots of you at the sledding party at the cabin tomorrow. Allen has been cleaning and fixing things up there. (He said he washed all the sheets on all the beds–it took eight loads.) I’m bringing sloppy jo’s and potato chips for lunch. If you will all bring your leftover Christmas food and goodies, we’ll have plenty to munch on. There will be plenty of snow on the hill!
           Our ward sponsored a community bonfire at the Francis rodeo grounds on Wednesday night, instead of having a ward Christmas dinner. The bonfire was really gigantic, with lots of pallets and logs from Thompson logging, but they had poured on lots of gasoline and diesel, so the air was too toxic for me to stay around. Dad was helping fry scones in the food shack, and they had hot chocolate and wassail, too. The kids were running around and having fun. It was a great idea, and very original, but maybe they’ll hold off on the gasoline and diesel next time. The fire is probably still burning! It was still going a couple of days after the party.
          I hope you’re all having a wonderful Christmas day!
          Love, Mom

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Dear Kids,
          The thermometer says it’s -4 outside. My phone tells me it feels like -15. I hope our cats are snug in the garage. I’ve made special kitty houses for each of them (they won’t share) with heated pads inside. I made Tina’s first, and put it well away from the door, where Xena sleeps on her pad, but then I had to make one for Xena, too. Sometimes they trade.
           This week I’ve mostly been busy wrapping presents. I haven’t had enough boxes, but each day I’ve gotten packages from Amazon, and the new boxes were always the right size for whatever I needed that day. So now I’m nearly done, and the boxes are nearly gone. It’s fun to try and find exactly the right present for each person in our family. Sometimes I goof, but it’s always OK somehow.
          The Christmas party at Nora’s on Friday will start with optional skating at the Bountiful Rec Center. The session is from 12:00 to 2:00. Call Nora for details and the address. After that, there will be sledding and hot chocolate back at Nora’s house. Dinner will be at 6:00 (I assume you all have your food assignments) and presents will be at 7:00. It should be wild and exciting!
          On Christmas Eve, Dad and I will do our traditional hike up Memorial Hill in Midway. If there’s enough interest, I’ll do a soup dinner here at our house beforehand. Afterwards, we’ll probably have hot chocolate somewhere. I’ll call around and see what everybody wants to do.
          On Christmas Day, Dad and I will be in Heber Valley. We’ll be going to John and Heather’s sacrament meeting at 1:00, because I really want to hear the Christmas program Heather has put together. (Our own ward meets at 9, and they’ve planned a really strange program. I’m not going to that one. It would ruin my Christmas. Dad will go and sing in the choir, like a good boy.) After we visit with John’s family, we’ll probably also go to Tom’s and Donna’s. That night, anybody who wants to come can stay over at our house or the cabin, and of course Monday will be the sledding party. More about that in my letter next week.
         What a great Christmas season! Love to all, Mom

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Dear Kids,
          Thanks to Donna for hosting the Messiah after-party last night! She stepped up at the last minute and volunteered her house. Thanks to Tom for bringing his home-made sushi. It was a hit. He kept slicing it and laying it out, and we devoured plate after plate of it.
          The Messiah itself was very nice. The choir was enormous, and I made sure I was surrounded by good altos. I enjoy that music more every year. It’s a sing-along, and this time I knew the songs well enough that I could look up from my music and watch the people in the audience singing. (Of course I was watching the director, too.) There were some great performers in the audience! People in Heber absolutely love the Messiah!
         We’d had a practice that morning, and since it was supposed to rain and snow all day long, Dad and I hung out at John’s house instead of going home and coming back. It was very pleasant. We used the internet and watched John’s family come and go. John spent nearly the whole day cleaning his carpets. What a good worker he still is!
          Here’s a news tidbit: Allen went on a date! The woman is a Davis County prosecutor (in line to become a judge!) and they’d worked on a case together a while back. She’s Hispanic, and obviously very accomplished. He said it might not turn into anything, but they had a good time together. Their date? She helped him do "Shop With a Cop." He told her he needed a woman’s touch. Go, Al!
          Bentley has a great part-time job for Christmas: he’s working on the Polar Express! Actually, it’s called the North Pole Express, but it’s really the Heber Creeper, decked out for Christmas. They travel half way down the canyon to the "North Pole," where Santa gets on the train and goes down each car, talking to the kids. Bentley is dressed like a chef, and he serves hot chocolate, sings along with the piped-in music, and makes the kids laugh. Other workers are "elves," and they hand out cookies. It costs a small fortune for the kids to ride, but it’s always packed. I think practically everybody is from out-of-town. Anyway, it sounds like a terrific job. Go, Bentley!
          Has anybody seen my "Tall Book of Christmas?" It seems to be missing. Thank goodness I copied out "Giant Grummer’s Christmas" a while back, but I sure wish I had the rest of it. 
           Hope you’re all lovin’ the Christmas season! Mom

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Dear Kids,
          I’m hoping for more snow, because it’s so desolate outside. There’s too much frozen dirt showing, and rocks, and magpie tracks. Oh, wait, those are deer tracks, and dog tracks, too. They like to scavenge our yard, because we’re right near the crest of their hill. Well, I’m hoping for snow to cover it all up, and remind me that Christmas is just around the corner.
         Allen has put up a Christmas tree in the cabin, which you might have seen on facebook. He decorated one of the outside trees with lights, too, and he wrote that everybody’s welcome there for the holidays. Thanks, Al, for giving the cabin so much Christmas spirit! We’ll be there!
         I’ve been Christmas shopping online, not that I’ve bought anything yet, but I’ve been roaming around Amazon, checking out toys and games and puzzles and books. I like reading people’s reviews–it’s so much better than just ordering things! I’ve been making my list and checking it twice. (Last year I left off Macie, and I had to scramble with a last-minute order.)
            If you’ve been looking on facebook, you probably saw Nora’s post about the Michelson’s house in Fruit Heights burning down. Yes, it’s the same house Nora’s family lived in, before they moved to the cabin, before they moved to their new house. Evidently there was an electrical problem, and the flames spread to the roof and to the basement. By the time a neighbor saw it, there was barely time for the family living there to get out. They couldn’t even get any of their stuff. The picture Nora posted showed that it was almost totally gutted. Whoa. That reminded me that the trailer we once lived in burned down a while after we sold it. Let’s all keep ahead of the fires, OK?
           I just checked We’re supposed to have snow tomorrow and Monday. Let it come!
           Lots of love, Mom

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Dear Kids,
          We had a wonderful Thanksgiving! We’ve never had better food! (Especially Donna’s raspberry pretzel jello and Stefanie’s sweet potato dish) There was enough snow for sledding, but we could still hike the big loop. Best of all was just the magic of the cabin. It loves a crowd. Thanks to everybody who was there!  And for those of you who weren't there, I hope you had a wonderful day, too.
          And now Christmas is upon us. The cousins’ gift exchange has already been worked out, and Nora has the details. If I remember to get it from her, I’ll post it separately. The big cousins’ get-together will be at Nora’s on Friday, the 23rd. Here’s our complete Christmas schedule, which I first posted a couple of weeks ago: (1) The Messiah in Heber, Saturday and Sunday nights, Dec. 10 and 11, with a possible after-party one of those nights. (2) The cousins’ party and gift exchange on the 23rd. (3) Christmas Eve, when we’ll do our annual hike up Memorial Hill in Midway, with hot chocolate somewhere afterwards. If enough people are interested, I’ll do a soup dinner before. (4) Christmas Day, (on Sunday this year,) Dad and I don’t have definite plans yet. (5) The day-after sledding party at the cabin on Monday, Dec. 26. I might try making elk meat chili again, if I can find a promising recipe on the internet. Our next-door neighbors have offered us all the game we could use. They have a freezer full of elk, venison, and moose (from their hunt in Idaho a few weeks ago, including 300 pounds of moose hamburger). Or, if that doesn’t work out, I’ll make the usual sloppy jo’s, but probably not from mooseburger.
          Now that it’s winter, and I’ve finally quit digging in the yard, I’ve turned to indoor projects. I’m making a gallery of family pictures in the stairwell, but most of my pictures are fuzzy black and white prints of images that I’ve lifted off facebook. What I really need are 8 x 10 color pictures of all your families. You can send me a print, or, which is probably easier, you can email an image to me and I’ll have it printed at the UPS store in Heber. I’m anxious to finish my gallery, so all of you can be on display for our guests to see!
          What a wonderful family! Love to all, Mom

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Dear Kids,
          Happy birthday today, to Allen and Drew! It’s the third double-birthday in our family (Dad and Dallin, Josh and me), and maybe there will be more. In Grandma and Grandpa Allen’s family, there were even some triples! That’s all part of the fun in having a really big family.
          And Thanksgiving is only four days away! I think I’ve talked to most of you who are coming about food assignments. I hope we’ll be able to hike the big loop, those of us who want to, although we’re supposed to have two storms between now and then. Whatever happens, we’ll have fun. Vanessa’s kids are so excited, she’s bringing them to the cabin two days early!
            Friday, Dad and I went to the temple with John and Heather in their new Honda Odyssey. It was a great ride. John now has the distinction of owning two mini vans! I thought they’d sell the Sienna, but John said they’re selling the Infinity instead, and Julie will be taking the Sienna off to college (probably Snow).   I wonder what the magpies think about John having two minivans? They still can’t get over the Porsche. Meanwhile, the truck has been doing heavy duty, hauling building supplies for Tom and fence posts and cement for John, and Donna has also borrowed it.  Too bad it’s so far away for the rest of you who own a share in it!
           Tuesday night Dad and I went to see Julie sing and dance in "Thoroughly Modern Millie" at Wasatch High. It was lots of fun. It’s a very peppy musical, although none of the songs are memorable. (Julie says, however, that they’re all memorable to her now.)
          Is our good weather really coming to an end? I had three more days of working in the yard this week. We went on a hike with Allen and his kids last Sunday afternoon, and it was so warm we took off our jackets. (You know the word on Sunday hiking: "If you don’t break a sweat, you haven’t broken the Sabbath.") If winter ever does come, it will have to be a short one. Spring isn’t that far off now. 
           Lots of love, Mom


Sunday, November 13, 2016

Dear Kids,
          We’ve had another week of wonderful warm weather. Is it really the middle of November? I’m still having lots of fun digging in the yard. My dry creek bed on the north side of our house is nearly finished, but I’ve run out of rocks. I know there are thousands more ready to be uncovered as I work my way around the back, so that’s what I’ve started now. We’re supposed to have two or three more warm days, and then winter, maybe.
          Dad and Al got home from Hawaii late Wednesday night, and they were still pumped up from all the fun of it. Dad brought me wonderful presents–chocolate covered macadamia nuts, a small carved wooden cat, and sterling silver earrings that look like Hawaiian flowers. It’s been hard for Dad, getting back to everyday life. He’s often asleep when I’m awake, and vice versa. Tina the cat insists that we all go to bed on time, though. We make a cozy threesome.
          Thanksgiving is just a week and a half away! So far, we’ll be having Nora’s family, Vanessa’s (I think,) maybe Allen and his kids, Donna’s family, and Paul’s family. We’ll eat dinner at 1 pm at the cabin, hike the big loop, and then have pie and other goodies at our house in the evening. It will be Anna’s birthday, so we can celebrate that, too. Early next week I’ll call around about food assignments.
          After Thanksgiving, we’ll be totally into the holiday season. So far, our calendar goes: (1) The Messiah in Heber, Saturday and Sunday nights, Dec. 10 and 11, with possible after parties both nights. (2) The family Christmas party and cousins’ gift exchange, Friday, Dec. 23, probably at Nora’s house. (3) Christmas Eve, we’ll probably do our annual hike up Memorial Hill in Midway, with hot chocolate somewhere afterwards. (4) Christmas Day, (on Sunday this year,) Dad and I don’t have definite plans yet. (5) The day-after sledding party at the cabin on Monday, Dec. 26. If I’ve missed anything, let me know.
           We hope to see as many of you as possible, for as many events as possible.
           Lots of love, Mom

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Dear Kids,
          Dad and Allen seem to be having a great time in Hawaii. On Friday they went to Pearl Harbor, where they saw the battleships Missouri and Arizona. Then they went to the top of Diamond Head. Dad sent me a picture of the view, but it was hard to see much from the tiny image on my phone. I think they did the north island tour yesterday. I’m sure Dad will give me a full report when they get home on Wednesday. Things have been lonely here, but at least the weather has been nice and I’ve been outside a lot. Yesterday I went to Midway, where Donna and I went shopping at "All the Stuff in the Barn." Then I went to Tom’s, where I had him tweak my mini-laptop. I also inspected his basement, which is coming along really well. Then I came home to our quiet house. The only time I REALLY miss Dad is at night. I take Tina to bed with me, but she’s a poor substitute. Around midnight or so, she always pokes her whiskers into my nose to let me know she wants to go out.
            My sister Jane had a terrible time after her gastric bypass surgery on Monday, and she still needs our prayers. I guess you all got my text about how she stopped breathing, and they revived her. After that she was in terrible pain, with violent nausea, and she couldn’t keep anything down for days. Finally, it seems like she’s doing better. Here’s my latest update from Bonnie: "Jane is improving every day. As far as post op, the nausea is gone and her pain is under control. She does have pneumonia (most likely from aspirating vomit during the intubation) and is on oxygen. They are trying to arrange home health care so it is looking like Monday that she will come home. She is taking short walks, sitting in chair, reading a little and talking. She has her phone if you want to text or call her. She looks like Jane again." I’ve been so grateful for Bonnie’s updates, since we can’t all be there at the hospital.
         Thanksgiving will be here in no time! It looks like we’ll have a nice big group at the cabin. I’ll be doing the turkey, dressing, gravy, and pumpkin and chocolate pies. Donna has already volunteered for the raspberry jello dessert. We’ll still need rolls, mashed potatoes, salads, and anything else you can think of, so call me for a food assignment if you’re eating with us.
            Lots of love, Mom

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Dear Kids,
          Carson and Ellie stayed overnight with us because Allen is doing a DUI roadblock down in Centerville. I asked him what was going on that they needed to catch the DUI’s, and he said "Halloween parties." Who would have guessed? I knew New Years and St. Patrick’s Day were big drinking holidays, but Halloween?! Anyway, we always enjoy having Carson and Ellie here. They entertain themselves quietly, reading or doing their homework.
          Dad and Allen are getting really excited about their Hawaii trip. They’re leaving early Thursday morning. I’m not sure how I’ll entertain myself while they’re gone. I think a big shopping trip to Salt Lake is in the works, although it might only be the rounds of the DI’s. I’ll probably do some hiking, too. This good weather is supposed to keep up for another couple of weeks, into the middle of November. I’ve prayed for a long streak of good weather so I can finish my yard projects before winter, but my arms ache from shoveling. And the Jordanelle Perimeter Trail has been calling to me.
          Tonight we’re starting practices for the Messiah in Heber. We’ll be practicing every Sunday night from now on. Our performances will be December 10th and 11th at 7 pm at Tom’s church. I’m sure we’ll have after parties on one or both nights. I’m really looking forward to singing that beautiful music, and for the parties, too.
          With winter coming on, I worried that Tina wouldn’t have a good place to sleep in the garage. She absolutely won’t cuddle up with Xena on the heated pad. So I made her a kitty house out of a storage tote, with a door cut in the front. (How many of those have I made!) and a heating pad inside. The first day she scoffed at her new house, and wouldn’t go in, but Dad suggested sprinkling catnip on the pad inside. That did it. Now she loves it.
          I hope you’re all doin’ great and lovin’ it. Have a great Halloween tomorrow! Mom

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Dear Kids,
         We had Donna and Bevan’s kids from Friday through Saturday, and they were just delightful. They ate well, slept well, and played well. (Donna and Bevan are in Hawaii. I hope they’re also eating well, sleeping well, and playing well.) Dad and I had fun with the kids, and they helped me work on the hill I’m making out on the north side of our house. They dug and raked. There was less of a hill when they finished than when they started, but it kept us all entertained for a while. We watched movies and took naps, too. Now the kids are at Nora’s house. Dad drove them there last night.
           I would have gone too, but I’ve been practicing the piano–hours a day. It’s been a jump-start rehabilitation for my hand. There’s a young opera singer in our ward who isn’t doing opera at the moment because she has 6 kids, but she asked me to accompany her for two songs today–one in Relief Society and one in Kamas 4th Ward’s sacrament meeting. Of course I couldn’t say no. I’ve taken lots of ibuprofin to get rid of the pain, but when I play for very long, my fingers lock up. I discovered, though, that if I keep playing, they unlock again. I’m hoping for the best for us today.
          My sister Katie had a mini stroke on Monday. Here’s what Bonnie wrote: "It took part of the vision in her right eye. The loss is permanent (she said it’s like a little gray cloud) but she is very lucky it didn’t go to her brain. They said her brain will trick her eyes into compensating for that loss and eventually she won’t notice it as much. She’s really upbeat–says she can’t do anything about it, so she’s just trying not to dwell on it. It’s about 1/3 of the vision in her right eye." Of course we’re all praying for Katie. 
          Next Sunday night we’ll start Messiah practices, so tonight will be our last Sunday-night get-together for a while. Of course I have plenty of candy and oreos and chocolate milk and otter pops.
         Lots of love, Mom

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Dear Kids,
          Tom and Kim are having a boy! We’ve had a long string of boys now–there hasn’t been a girl since Anna. The new baby will be grandchild #33 for us, but I haven’t stopped to figure out how many girls and how many boys that will make. If any of you can tell me, that will save me the trouble of figuring it out.
           Early Wednesday morning, Dad and I went flying with Richard and Trish Gerlach in their Grummen Tiger plane. They bought it five years ago, and they’ve said several times they ought to take us flying, and we’ve always said, "OK," and it finally happened! We flew over Heber Valley, Kamas Valley (where we had a good look at our house from the sky) and Park City. All that took about an hour–as long and we’d planned to be up. The morning was cold and clear, and the reds and yellows of the trees were gorgeous. We couldn’t help comparing the Gerlachs’ small plane with John’s glider, especially how noisy it was. We had to wear headphones to hear each other. It wasn’t as smooth, either. But it sure was fun.
           I’m loving the long, warm fall we’re having, because we can still work in the yard. We turned off our sprinkling system about 3 weeks ago, when we had a heavy freeze, so now, about once a week, we’re watering our trees and shrubs by hand. Dad watered yesterday, and he counted every tree and shrub. 106, he said. I was digging on the north side of the house, making a hill for our new deer to sit on. We got some railroad ties to put along the edge of our gravel parking strip, and I’m excavating for those, too. Dad painted the skirting on our deck with oil stain, and it looks really good. So many projects, but I’ll never get tired of working outside.
           My hand is almost healed, and I’ll be playing the organ in church today. I’m looking forward to that.
          Lots of love, Mom

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Dear Kids,
         Andy and Renae came Friday afternoon to stay overnight with us, because Mark and Tamri’s son was being baptized the next morning in the Provo River. Tamri and her brothers and sisters were all baptized there, so it’s a family tradition. I’m sure it turned out just fine. It was even warmer yesterday morning than it was predicted to be. And Dad and I had a lot of fun with Andy and Renae while they were here. We ate at the Gateway Grille. We talked and talked. We went for a walk around our neighborhood. Oh, I forgot to mention: they have a mission call, to the Washington DC South Mission, and their main assignment will be at the Northern Virginia Employment Resource Center in Annandale. They’ll have other assignments, too. They leave for the MTC on January 2, and they’re very excited about it. Andy had thought they might go foreign, since they have plenty of money, good health, and were willing to learn a new language, but they’re really happy about Virginia.
           Dad and Allen are really pumped up for their Hawaii trip. It’s less than a month away now. I bought them each a Hawaiian shirt off Amazon. I hope they’ll at least wear them to the luau. They are diligently planning what to see and do. Andy and Renae had lots of suggestions for Dad, since they’ve been to Oahu.
           My hand is still improving. I can play the piano for up to 20 minutes now, although it’s hard to do an octave. It’s still hard for me to type, and I make lots of mistakes. I still can’t use a needle and thread, or tweezers, or butter a piece of toast. Power tools are still out of the question. Dad and I have been working on the deck skirting around our pergola, so Dad has to do all the cutting and power nailing. We’re trying to finish as much as possible before winter sets in. I’m still digging in the yard, making slow progress. It’s funny that using a shovel and a rake were about the first things I could do after my hand surgery.
          I hope you’re all doin’ great and lovin’ it! Mom

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Dear Kids,
         Our Saturday-night soup dinner and ice cream party last night was a total blast. There was a record crowd–at least 25 people, probably more. We ate record amounts of soup and rolls and bread, and we consumed large quantities of brownies (thanks, Donna,) ice cream, chocolate sauce, etc. I hope the men enjoyed the Priesthood session of conference, which they went to in-between. The rest of us played games and talked and ate still more. We sent the littlest kids out to run in circles on the deck. They played on the playground, too. It was a wonderful evening.
          Our yard-improvements are still moving along, in spite of the brisk fall weather. Yesterday Dad and John put up most of the pergola on our back deck. It’s exactly like the pergola out in the yard, and people must be scratching their heads, wondering why we need two. But we do. I hope it will look really good. Besides that, I’ve started digging on the north side of the house, making a hill for our new deer to sit on, and digging out another dry creek bed. People slow down as they drive by, probably wondering what in the world I’m doing now. They’ll see. I hope I can get most of it done before winter.
         The new family truck is going full speed ahead. We saw it for the first time last Sunday night, when Julie drove it here, with John and Jacob. It’s very big, and very impressive. Dad and I drove it around Kamas Valley. Yesterday Tom borrowed it to take things to the dump, and barely got back in time for John to pick up a pool table for his basement. I’m sure it will get a lot of use. John is hoping people will return it with a little more gas than when they borrowed it. I don’t think he expects you to fill the tank, if you borrow it empty. I’m sure these issues will sort themselves out.
          We’re loving our life here, and we love having so much family around.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Dear Kids,
          John just bought a truck with an 8-foot bed, a v-8 engine, and a tow hitch. It can pull twice the weight of his pop-up trailer. Why is this big news for the rest of you? Because Dad and I paid part of the cost of the truck, so that each of you can have the privilege of borrowing it when you need it. So now there’s a "family truck," which John has been urging for a long time. He owns it and will maintain it, but feel free to borrow it whenever you need to. It will be a great boon to our family.
         Conference weekend is practically upon us! Next Saturday night I'll be hosting the soup dinner at our house at 5:00, and then all the men who want to can go to the Priesthood session with Dad at our church. The ladies and girls can hang out here. Afterwards, we’ll have ice cream here. Anybody who wants to sleep over at our house or at the cabin is welcome. Sunday, at noon, Nora and Kim will be in charge of the CafĂ© Rio dinner at the cabin. I’m sure they’ll appreciate any help you can offer. Everyone who wants to watch conference can do that at the cabin, or here at our house. There are so many of us now, I can’t keep track of everyone’s plans, but there’s plenty of room in both places, and there will be plenty of food.
         Dad and Al have officially planned their Hawaii trip! Al booked it through Columbus travel, and they got a very good deal. They’ll leave Salt Lake the morning of November 3, (a Thursday) and fly to Honolulu. They’ll be staying in a hi-rise hotel, and the tour package includes Pearl Harbor, the Polynesian Cultural Center (with a luau), and a north island tour. They’ll have lots of extra time, too, to tour on their own. They’ll fly home on Wednesday, November 9. They’re both very excited. I ordered Hawaiian shirts for both of them (from Amazon, of course) and they’ve agreed to wear them to the luau and post pictures on facebook. I’m sure they’ll have a wonderful time. If any of you have ideas of what I can do while they’re gone, let me know.
           Life is good! I love you all! Mom

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Dear Kids,
          Friday morning they took the bandages off my hand and put on a custom splint. So now I’m writing this letter using all 10 fingers, but I’m making a lot of mistakes and having to correct them. Still, it’s miraculous to be using my right hand again. In the meantime, I learned how to do lots of things with my left hand, but none of them very well. Like eating with my left hand. I felt like a toddler, trying to get the food to my mouth. I had to keep a towel at the side of my plate to wipe off the food that didn’t quite make it. What I missed most, and still can’t quite do: writing with a pencil or pen, using scissors and knives, and flossing my teeth. Thanks to Dad for tying my shoes, buttoning my buttons, and curling my bangs.
         Carson and Ellie are here overnight, because Allen is off on a jaunt to Island Park with his police buddies. It’s fun tending young teenagers. Ellie made cream puffs last night, using a recipe in her Betty Crocker cookbook. At the same time, I was making meatballs for dinner today, and at one point we were using all four burners on the stovetop at the same time. It all worked out, and the cream puffs were very good. She’s taking the leftovers to church today to share with her friends in Young Women here.
           My hand is hurting now, so I have to quite typing.
           Love to all, Mom

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Dear Kids,
         I’m typing this letter with my left hand, so it’s going to be short. My right hand is bandaged from the surgery I had on Tuesday. It went very well. It’s called carpal metacarpal arthroplasty, and it should take care of the pain I’ve had at the base of my thumb for more than three years now. Maybe I’ll be able to play ragtime again! Meanwhile, though, I can’t do much at all. Dad has been helping me shower, get dressed, and fix food. I’ve been sleeping nights in his recliner, with a big piece of plastic foam holding up my arm. I haven’t been anywhere except my piano classes, which I absolutely couldn’t miss, in spite of my pain and awkwardness. (In the Lighthouse class, one cute little kid saw my bandages and said, "Did you fall down AGAIN?") It’s funny that within a month I’ve had my worst tooth pain ever, my accident, my worst bronchitis ever, and now this, which has turned out to be way more painful than I expected. Thanks to all of you who have called me, visited me, and prayed for my recovery. I’m looking forward to a brand new life when all this is over with. Meanwhile, you’ve all gotta know how much I love you.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Dear Kids,
         The McGettigans are here visiting, and last night we went to the Frontier Days Rodeo. It’s just down the street from us, in the Francis park. It started with skydivers, and that alone was worth our ticket price. A tiny plane circled high overhead, and when the two men dropped out, it didn’t seem like they could land anywhere near the park, but they circled in closer and closer. One of them had smoke trailing, and another one the American flag, while the pa system blasted out "I’m Proud to be an American." They both landed in the arena, one of them exactly in the center. That was the best! Then there was bareback riding, breakaway, saddle bronc, steer wrestling, all the usual rodeo events. The wind blew hard and it got cold, and I left early and walked home. (There’s a lot to be said for living close enough to the rodeo grounds that you can walk home!) McGettigans are talking about moving here to Francis. That would be my dream! We already have four families of kids living nearby, and the McGettigans too?! I can’t imagine how wonderful life would be.
          Guess who’s going to Hawaii! Not Dad and me, but Dad and Allen! It sounded bizarre when Allen first brought it up, but then we thought it all through, and they could have a great time together, plus do all the things I can’t do: an all-night flight, tour busses (the fumes are deadly for me), evening luas, staying in high-rises, museums, Pearl Harbor (well, I could do that, but it wouldn’t be my first choice of sites); there are so many things they could enjoy doing together. Allen’s going to work out the details when he gets home from the Grand Canyon, where he’s off hiking now.
          We’ve been building our back deck, and it’s going really well, but I’m going to have my hand surgery on Tuesday, so I’ll be grounded from projects for three or four weeks after that. The deck won’t be finished, but it will be something fun to come back to when my hand heals. It won’t even hurt me to use a hammer! Life will be even better than now!
          I love you all! Mom

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Dear Kids,
         Great news! Tom and Kim are going to have another little Ackerson, due in March. That will be grandchild #33 for us, and a wonderful addition to their family. We’re very excited for them.
           Other news? Probably the second most interesting thing is the marathon Bevan ran yesterday morning. Originally, he had signed up for the High Uintas marathon, coming down from Mirror Lake to Kamas, but it was cancelled. Donna scrambled to find something else, since he was all prepped to run, and she came up with the Mid Mountain Marathon, on the same date. They start at Deer Valley, at the top of Deer Crest, and run up and down mountain trails, around the far side of Park City to the Canyons. Who knew that it’s, "like, the hardest marathon out there!" There were world-class runners. Bevan was 40th out of about 300 runners, with a time of 4:22. He only fell down once. Some of the runners had several falls, and crossed the finish line all skinned up. Dad and I waited with Donna and the kids at the finish line. It was a beautiful morning, and we enjoyed the gorgeous scenery. We were so proud of Bevan, finishing, and with such a good time.
          My face almost looks normal now–just a little dark on the left side, where it was bruised. I still have tooth pain and bronchitis. My right hand has been hurting me for a long time, (since we moved in 2013, and I used a tape gun non-stop) and I had a cortisone injection in January that helped for a while. But the joint (below my thumb) is so bad that the doctor can’t even get a needle in there any more. I’ve decided to have the surgery where they fuse the area. Sometimes it leaves you with a short-looking thumb, but I don’t care–I only want to get rid of the pain. Funny thing–the morning I had my appointment with the hand doctor, I woke up with my left thumb feeling the same pain. I didn’t think that could happen, since I’m right-handed, but the doctor said anything can happen. I’m having a hard time doing anything, with both my hands hurting, but things should get better down the road. Or maybe I’ll have to wait for the resurrection to get everything put back together again. Either way, life is very pleasant, especially with the wonderful family we have!
           Lots of love, Mom

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Dear Kids,
          It was fun helping Paul and Stefanie move yesterday. They’ve gotten really good at packing and boxing, and everything was ready when we got to their house in Ogden. There was lots of help, too: James was there, and Donna and Bevan, and Stefanie’s brothers, and help from their ward. Donna and I loaded our vans and took off early for their new place in Woods Cross. I hadn’t even been sure where Woods Cross is! Now I know. They live just off Redwood Road, a couple of miles north of Missy’s house on Longleaf. It’s easy to get to, and closer to Paul’s work. Anyway, the move went really well. Dad drove the big moving van, and everybody else brought their separate cars, loaded with stuff. Later on, Nora fed us all at her house. It was great fun. Paul’s new address is: 1830 West 2280 South, Woods Cross, 84087.
           I’m recovering a little more each day from my accident. Last Sunday I didn’t have substitutes for any of the things I was lined up to do, so I went to Church. I had a little trouble playing the organ, because my left eye was swollen partly shut, and my right eye has a close-up lens. But I did OK. I had to accompany a musical number, but I knew the song really well. In Primary, all the kids wanted to know what had happened to me. One kid asked, "Did you get in a fight?" I couldn’t even start them singing until I had told them the whole story. Then they were fine with it. My face still looks pretty bruised. They say trouble comes in threes. Just before I had the accident, I’d had a root canal, and it wasn’t pleasant. It’s still bothering me. Three days after, I came down with probably the worst bronchitis I’ve ever had. My lungs are still full of snot. But every day is a little better. At least I’ve had my full "3's" of trouble, so things should be pretty good now.
         We were driving through Heber Monday, on our way to John’s office, and I saw the same display of metal animals that has captivated me before. I just wanted to stop and look at the deer. (The ones we put on our corner have become a landmark.) There was a doe lying down, and a fawn that went with her. I couldn’t resist. We’ll put them on the other side of our house. Then, at Home Depot, I saw the exact concrete blocks I want to use for our fire pit, and we had to buy them, while they were still there. Meanwhile, we’re starting on our deck. There’s no end to the projects, or the fun.
           Lots of love, Mom

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Dear Kids,
         My motto used to be, "Look up, not down." That was when we first moved into our house here, and I was tired of all the dirt and rocks, so I looked up at the beautiful view. But my motto brought me grief last Wednesday, as most of you have heard. I was walking across the plaza by the West Valley Trax station, looking up and admiring all the great changes they’ve made, (it used to be a ghetto there!) when I tripped on a short curb and fell and hit my head on one of those round cement spheres that keep people from driving onto the Trax lines. I wouldn’t have attracted much notice, but my head was spurting blood, because I had nicked an artery. I was right by the police station, so there was lots of help nearby. They brought an ambulance, but I had Dad drive me to the hospital instead, where they put in a stitch to stop the bleeding and did a cat scan to be sure I didn’t have a fracture. Since then I’ve been hurting all over from the fall, and my face is a mess. (I uploaded a picture to facebook, so I would get lots of sympathy.) I had a ton of blood in my hair, which our new cat Tina was very interested in, when we got home. She sniffed all around my head, and licked in my ears, where the blood had dried. The next morning I washed it all out. Long story short: my new motto is, "Look down, not up."
          Speaking of our new cat, Tina, she’s been banished to the garage now. Dad and I were agonizing over how to do it, because she’s so delicate and aristocratic, but she bit Dad in the hand, deep enough to draw blood, and she was tossed into the garage immediately. She’s doing fine there, getting along OK with Xena, and we let her in sometimes at night, so she can walk on us in bed.
          Last Monday Richard and Jeannne came to visit us. Richard rode his bike, 60 miles, from Michael’s house in Draper, over the south mountain into Alpine, up American Fork canyon to the Alpine Loop, all the way over it to Provo Canyon, and then up through Midway and Highway 32 to our house. After he got cleaned up we all went to High Mountain Drug for lunch. He said it tasted very good! (He recognized the place from when he was a scout, coming home from the Uintahs.) We had a great visit!
           Now I’m sorry all the fun is over, the family reunions and parties and get-togethers. We’ll be helping Paul move next Saturday, so that at least is something to look forward to.
          I hope you’re all doin’ great and lovin’ it, like we are here. Lots of love, Mom

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Dear Kids,
          That was quite a family reunion yesterday! Grandma and Grandpa Allen would have been proud of us, and especially proud of Charley and Bonnie for planning it so well. Thanks to those of you who came and brought your delightful children! We’ve had so many family events lately that you’d think we might be tired of getting together, but the fun just multiplies!
          I had a wonderful birthday last Monday. Dad and I ate at Subway and then we went to Home Depot to get supplies for starting our deck. My present from Dad arrived in the afternoon–a laminator and laminating pouches, to make stuff for Primary. I had fun printing articles of faith posters and then laminating them. And then, I hadn’t expected such a big party at our house on Monday night! Thanks for the wonderful cake and all the presents, especially the snow groomer. Thanks for just being there! It was a wonderful night to play outside! It might have been the best birthday I’ve ever had!
          The only flaw in this great week has been my tooth troubles. I started having pain on the top right side of my mouth about a week ago, but I was able to ignore it for a few days. Finally, I had to call Dr. Condie. He worked me in on Friday morning, and when he started digging around the tooth, he found out the roots were dead and one was infected. He couldn’t do a root canal right then because of the infection, so he scraped out the roots and packed them with tiny cotton wads of antibiotic and painkiller. But later on, when it all thawed out, it was the worst tooth pain I’ve ever had. Luckily he’d prescribed hard drugs for me, and I took plenty, but it didn’t help as much as I hoped. We went to the party at Richard’s cabin that night, and all my brothers and sisters were there, but I walked around in a daze. Yesterday at the park was sort of the same, but finally, this morning, I’m starting to feel normal again. I’m scheduled for the root canal this Wednesday. It shouldn’t be so bad.
           I’m pretty sure Paul and Stefanie are still planning to move on the 20th. Paul will let us know what to do.
          I used to have a play Noah’s ark with some animals that I used for Primary singing time. Did I lend it out to anybody?
          I love you all to pieces! Mom

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Dear Kids,
          Once again, Paul is the top story of the week. Or Paul’s appendix. He had gut pain Wednesday afternoon, and he texted me about any remedies I knew. He had already tried gas relief and tums, but the pain kept coming back. I suggested one more remedy, and then the ER. He drove himself to the hospital, and they checked everything out and said they were taking out his appendix. All that took time, of course, so his surgery wasn’t until 2 am. And he was out of the hospital before noon! He’ll show you the three scars on his abdomen, from the laporoscopy. He’s supposed to start his new job tomorrow, and his new insurance, but they’ve worked that all out. Things always work out for Paul! He and Stefanie are going to be moving to Woods Cross, most likely August 20, and they can use all our help, because it will be too soon for Paul to lift things. Nora will be hosting an after-party barbecue at her house. I love how our family pulls together.
           Josh’s birthday party (and mine!) last night was a lot of fun. It was the same park as we went to after Josh’s baby blessing, which seemed like it barely happened. The food was good and the kids had fun on the playground. Josh seemed to enjoy the attention, along with the other babies there, Drew and Josh’s new cousin, Lydia. We kept passing them around. Thanks to Paul and Stefanie for planning it all!
          Al and Carson finished their trek on the Highline Trail in good time–just six days, (and 15 minutes) for about 84 miles. Dad and I drove Al’s car up to the west trailhead on Monday, so it would be there for them. As long as we were there, we decided to hike out for a mile or so. We passed several people on their last leg home, and they all looked like death warmed over. They all carried gigantic packs, and they even had saddle bags on their dogs. (The dogs didn’t look all that tired.) Anyway, it’s a beautiful area, and I envied Al and Carson for the time they spent up there.
           Here’s one more reminder of the Allen Family reunion, this coming Saturday, August 6, at 9:00 a.m. at the park at 4620 N. 300 West by the Provo River. Bonnie’s message said: We hope you can all come! Charley planned this and he promises it will be fun! Bring your own lunch, desserts to share, sunscreen, and one or two favorite pictures of your family over the years. There will be door prizes (for those who show up on time,) a square dance demonstration, games, and crafts for the little kids (7 and under). 
          So the fun goes on! Lots of love, Mom

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Dear Kids,
          Paul has a job! The company is called Stantec, and they’re located in Salt Lake. They do water systems. He’ll be starting on August 1, Josh’s birthday! He’ll be earning more than before! It couldn’t be better! We’re very happy for him! Like Grandma Allen used to say, "Things always work out for Paul."
          And speaking of Josh, his birthday party is this coming Saturday night, August 30, at 6 pm at the West Stadium Pavilion, 643 Canyon Road, in Ogden. They’re having dinner, plus cake and ice cream. The invitation says to bring an appetizer or side dish, and to RSVP to Paul at 435 764 4569. Be there or be square!
          Our new cat, Tina, is walking on my fingers while I’m trying to type this. At night, we have to close our bedroom door to keep her from annoying us. She likes to stick her whiskers in my nose, or her behind in my face. She’s supposed to become a garage cat, but we haven’t gotten around to that yet. Meanwhile, she gives us endless entertainment.
           Allen and Carson are hiking the Highline Trail in the Uintas this week. Dad drove with them to the trailhead (east of Vernal) on Thursday morning, so he could bring their car back and take it to the west end, up by Mirror Lake. Naturally Dad brought back pictures on his phone, and I was envious when I saw the beautiful scenery. Dad also took a video of Al and Carson setting off on the trail. I sure wish I were up there!
           Tom shot a mouse under their bookshelves. It was around midnight last Friday night, after they came home from Wizard of Oz. Their kids had been chasing the mouse, and Tom had tried swatting it, but it kept getting away, just like in a cartoon. So Tom got a pellet rifle and reached the muzzle under the shelves where the mouse was crouching. He fired at pretty much point blank range, and the mouse dropped over sideways. It was all very exciting.
          Our summer is slipping away fast, but there’s still plenty of fun coming up! We hope to see lots of you at Josh’s party and at the Allen family reunion on August 6.
          Lots of love, Mom

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Dear Kids,
         Sharon and her kids packed up and left for Nora’s yesterday afternoon, and we won’t be seeing them again before they leave for home. But it’s been a month of non-stop fun. Thanks to everybody who made our family reunion such a success, especially Paul and Stefanie. We loved the hiking, the food, the reservoir, and mostly, the fun of being surrounded by family. What a gang! Dad and I are extremely blessed.
           Friday night Dad and went to "The Wizard of Oz" at the field in Midway where they put on such good musicals every summer. The tickets were courtesy of Donna and Bevan (Dad’s birthday present) and we had a great time. The singing and costumes and acting were all great. We ran into Tom and Kim during the intermission. It was long, and we drove home late, but it was a wonderful evening.
         Yesterday Dad and I tended Sharon’s kids while she and Donna hiked Timp. It was Sharon’s first time, and they made it to the top, of course. Here at home, things went OK. We discovered the delights of peanut butter and nutella sandwiches. We watched "Land Before Time." Our only mishap was that while Dad was asleep, lying on his back on the bottom bunk, somebody dumped toys, beanie cats, puzzle pieces, and stuffed animals in a pile on his face. He didn’t even wake up. We never found out who did it, since nobody confessed.
          The Allen family reunion is less than 3 weeks away! Here’s the latest information from Bonnie: We will gather at 9:00 a.m. on Saturday August 6th at the Riverside Park (4620 N. 300 W.) Provo UT. We hope you can all come! Charley planned this and he promises it will be fun! Bring your own lunch, desserts to share, sunscreen, and one or two favorite pictures of your family over the years. There will be door prizes (for those who show up on time,) a square dance demonstration, games, and crafts for the little kids (7 and under).
         So that’s it. Summer won’t have a chance to get dull. 
         Lots of love, Mom

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Dear Kids,
          I’ve just been reading over the itinerary for the family reunion, and it looks like we’re going to have a lot of fun. Paul and Stefanie seem to have planned it very well. It looks like we’ll have a couple of very good hikes, lots of fun in the water (or on the shore, where Dad and I will probably be,) some crafts, games, skits, s’mores–oh, and of course, some very good food. This will be our ninth family reunion, and each one of them has been great.
           Our new cat Tina has been settling in after her own fashion. I’d been wondering how to introduce her to the outside world, and to Xena, when Tom mentioned that his friend Brakke has a Bengal cat, and he takes it walking on a leash. I googled "cat harness," and nearly all the pictures showed Bengal cats! So Dad and I bought a leash and harness at Petco, put it on Tina, tightened everything, and let her go. She turned around backwards, wiggled a little, and slipped right out. So I googled "escape-proof cat harness." I learned there’s a special kind called the H-harness with a strap around the neck fastened to a short back strap fastened to a belly strap. It comes in all kinds of designer patterns and colors. I ordered a set with a cute apple design. When it came, I put it on her, but I didn’t dare tighten the neck strap very much because I didn’t want her to choke. When she tried to wiggle out, the neck strap caught in her mouth, like a bridle, and she flailed around. When I tried to get it out there was a big bloodbath which I thought came from her, but turned out to be gashes on my hand from her hind claws. No matter. I figured out how tight to make it, and she sort of likes it now. We sit on the porch while she cowers under the bench or by the door. Xena greets her and they hiss, but Tina can’t run away. It will all work out eventually.
          We’re still planning our short hike at Wolf Creek pass tomorrow. It looks like it might just be Donna’s family and ourselves, but if you want to come, and I haven’t talked to you, let me know! We’re still unsure about the time. I’m really enjoying my new calling as Primary chorister. Today we’re going to use my balloon-popping machine. It always creates a ruckus. The Primary president has said she wants singing time to be really fun, and that's been my main focus all along.
          See you all on Thursday! Love, Mom

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Dear Kids,
          What a week of events! It started with Sharon’s birthday party at Nora’s park on Tuesday night. Thanks to Sharon for being born on the longest day of the year! And practically everybody who could come was there! Eight of our nine families! And lots of Sharon’s friends, besides. Thanks to everybody who helped plan it!
          Nora had been telling me about a cat she had seen in the ads, there in Centerville. When she sent me a video, I was captivated. This cat is quick and skinny, with enormous eyes. A tabby, sort of, but if you google "Bengal cat," you’ll see pictures of what she’s like. While the party was going on, I went to get her, and I brought her back to the park in a carrier. Her name is Tina. She’s very high strung, and yowls a lot. She isn’t very street wise, and hisses at our carved bears. She was trying to fight with the plaster calico cat, whacking its face with her paw. What will she do when she meets up with Xena? We’ve been keeping her in the basement storage room, till she calms down, but I plan to move her to the garage today or tomorrow. She’ll have to face real life at last.
            The morning after the party, Sharon’s family came to spend a few days with us. They were the first visitors to stay in our now-finished basement! Everything seemed to go OK, but I can see I have a few more details to work out. The kids played a lot on our playground (mostly in the small amount of sand we still have) and we had a lot of fun. They’ve left now for Oregon, with the Thackers.
          Last night Dad and I watched Adelaide perform in "Into the Woods" at the Spotlight Theater in Centerville. She was one of the wicked stepsisters, and the highlight of the production was when the stepmother cut off her toes so the slipper would fit. Everybody screamed. It was great.
           A week from tomorrow is the 4th of July. Let me know if you want to come on our hike up at Wolf Creek pass. Either morning or afternoon would be OK. I might call each of you to find out. And the family reunion’s coming up a week from Thursday. Paul is sending out details.
           Life is good! Love, Mom

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Dear Kids,
          Happy Fathers Day, all you sons-and-sons in law of mine! I’m proud of what you’re doing. The world needs good Dads.
          Going to church is fun again, because I’m the new Primary chorister! I wasn’t really called . . . I asked to do it. I was so bored, sitting through three hours of meetings, that when I heard the current chorister was moving, I told the Primary president that I would love to take her job. I said I absolutely love Primary music, which is true. And you never get bored in Primary. The kids have to sit still, but you don’t. It’s up and down, in and out, all the time. I’m still the Relief Society pianist, but that’s just across the hall, and I can go back and forth. I also play the organ in sacrament meeting once or twice a month, but that doesn’t conflict, either. So I’m loving church again. 
         There used to be an air compressor at the cabin–does anybody know where it is? We probably loaned it out. Anyway, if you happen to have it, let me know, OK?
         I made friends with the horses who live behind us by buying a 25 lb. bag of carrots at Winco and an orange tote from Dollar Tree. Every morning when I go out to work in the yard, I take my tote of carrots. At first they weren’t very interested in me, but now they come trotting over. They even push each others’ heads aside when I hold out the carrots. 25 pounds seemed like a lot of carrots, but it doesn’t last very long when you have such good friends over the fence.  
          The 4th of July is coming up just before our family reunion, and if anybody wants to do a short hike that day, they can come up to the top of Wolf Creek pass with us. You walk out along a dirt road, and you can see down on both sides. The wildflowers should be at their best about then. Let me know if you want to come!
          Lots of love, Mom

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Dear Kids,
          Dad and I tried to get a cat from the Humane Society in Salt Lake. Their web site said they had 170 cats and kittens up for adoption, so we went and looked over all the felines, and I found one that I sort of liked. We had to fill out "adoption papers," and then be interviewed. We didn’t pass the interview, though, because we didn’t agree to keep the cat totally inside! Huh? They said they want these cats to be part of a "household." I said that our garage cats were always part of our household, but that didn’t fly with them. Imagine keeping a cat totally in, where he can’t hunt or explore or have any fun! We stomped out. I’d still like to find a good cat, or a couple of kittens, to keep Xena company. But it won’t be at the humane society.
          Next Sunday is Father’s Day, and I’m getting Dad a Samsung Galaxy tablet. Does anybody want to go in on it? Let me know. He’s been using his Nook for five years now, but it’s mainly a "reader," not so good for surfing the web in church, or doing Gospel Library or LDS tools. I’ve had a Samsung for more than a year now, and I really like it. So do thousands of people on Amazon. So, let me know if you want to go in on it. 
          Sharon and her family will be arriving in Las Vegas a week from today, and then they’ll drive here to Utah. Tuesday, the 21st, is Sharon’s birthday, (the longest day of the year!) and Nora has planned a party for her in the park across from their house. It’s at 6:00 pm, I think. You can call Nora for more details, and for a food assignment, if you want to help out. 
          Our latest building project has been Dad ripping out our back porch. I needed to excavate underneath, so that part of the foundation can be plastered, along with the rest. (Every project is always connected to an underlying project, always bigger.) So we don’t have a back porch any more, but we’ll rig up planks or something when we have company.
          We’re looking forward to all the excitement coming up!
          Lots of love, Mom

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Dear Kids,
          I’m sorry I didn’t come over to the barbecue at the cabin on Memorial Day–I really meant to. But I finally had a chance to totally finish the playground, and it was the first day in several weeks when the wind wasn’t blowing too hard, and it wasn’t raining. I was making a little fence of logs around the sand digger, to keep the sand separate from the bark. And it was going so well I couldn’t pull myself away. And I actually finished it! Now the sand digger has its own little area of sand, and the rest of the playground is covered in bark, which is a lot more practical. It doesn’t blow away like the sand did. And get tracked into the house. Of course some of the bark will get tossed into the sand by little hands, and vice versa, but overall it will be lots better.
            Sharon’s family will be here two weeks from today. We’re really excited to see them all. Sharon pointed out that they haven’t been here in the summer for a long time–it must have been three years ago, because our house was being built. Now they’ll actually be able to play in our yard! And sleep in our basement!
           Our Ackerson family reunion is coming up soon–July 7-9. (Or maybe it will run into Sunday, the 10th.) I’m sure Paul will be sending out the agenda pretty soon. It will be at Mantua campground. We’ll have our usual good time.
           I’ve been moving things from our garage into the basement, and I’m unpacking boxes that have been stored for more than three years. Naturally, if you’ve totally forgotten that you own something, you don’t need it very much. So I’ve been hauling lots of things to the DI. But maybe I should give you kids dibbs on some of them. Like the leather-working tools; it seems like they would be good for scouts or cubs or webelos. Or my huge set of wedding cake pans–I have every possible shape and size. I know I’ll never make wedding cakes again, but it’s the world’s best collection! Or the tiered cake stand that we used for cupcakes at Monica’s wedding. Other things will come to light, and I’ll post them in my letters as they show up. Anyone outside our family who reads my blog is welcome to them, as well. ]
          Life is great when you have such good stuff to give away. It means you have everything you need.
          Lots of love, Mom

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Dear Kids,
          We have carpet in our basement! It’s a miracle. We’d been put off for so long, I was afraid it would be a fight to get our money back, and then we’d have to go looking somewhere else, and wait, and wait. But I had a message on my phone Monday morning that the carpet was "in," and it would be installed the next day. And the installers actually showed up (although they were 3 hours late) and they did a good job. Now our house has that nice "new carpet" smell, and I’m having fun moving our stuff from the garage to the basement. It’s almost like having a new house. 
          The birthday party for Dad and Dallin on Friday night was a wild blast. 32 people were here. It was fun having so many of you come! Thank goodness the weather was nice and we could spread outside! Thanks to Donna for providing the cake, and to everyone else who showed up on such a busy night. Thanks for being such a big, wonderful family. I thank the Lord every day for all of you.
          One of our big adventures this week was getting a mattress set for the new queen bed in our basement. We borrowed John’s Costco card and drove to Orem in the truck. Dad was worried that it wasn’t our card, but we had no problem buying the mattress and foundation. They whisked us through. And we loaded the pieces on the truck, but we didn’t tie them down, because I thought such a heavy mattress couldn’t go anywhere. It didn’t–until we were driving around Deer Creek Reservoir, and a crosswind sent both pieces sailing. Luckily, it was a construction area, and they landed in the dirt on the side of the road, not in the reservoir, and not in the windshield of an oncoming car. We pulled over, backed up to where they’d landed, and loaded them back on, with the help of a Good Samaritan couple who stopped behind us. And we secured them with the cargo net. When we got home we discovered that two corners of the foundation were smashed, but we repaired them. We were just grateful it hadn’t been worse. 
          So much fun! There’s a new adventure every day. Lots of love, Mom

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Dear Kids,
         First off, let me remind you all of the birthday party for Dad and Dallin this coming Friday night. It’ll be at our house at 6:30 pm, cake and ice cream, and presents. If you want to go in on Dad’s present, let me know, so I can put your name on the card. I hope the weather will be good enough for the kids to run around outside. The long-range forecast shows only a 50% chance of rain that day. All this rain has made everything beautifully green, but the Provo River is raging, and the flood plain down by the Jordanelle is definitely flooded.
           Most of you have probably heard that Paul is out job-hunting again. He was laid off last week. It hadn’t been a perfect fit, Paul and his boss, so whatever he finds will probably be a step up, but I’m sure he and Stefanie could use your prayers at this stressful time. Dad and I visited them (and Josh!) last Sunday for dinner, and Stefanie’s parents were there too, so we had a great time talking and eating. We didn’t know it, but there was a fatal rollover on Harrison Blvd, just a couple of blocks away, while we were having dinner. We didn’t hear any sirens. (Maybe they don’t use sirens in Ogden, where there’s always a lot going on anyway.) But when Dad and I were driving out, Harrison was blocked off with police cars and yellow tape. There was a car smashed into a tree on the other side of the road, and on our side, the sidewalk was blocked off with a sheet hung up. I guess that’s where the body was. It was very sobering.
           Some of you probably went to Maddie James’s wedding reception Friday night. By then Dad and I were back home. (My lungs don’t like us to stay in that valley very long.) But we really enjoyed the sealing in the new Provo Temple. Maddie didn’t have any grandmothers there, so Bonnie had Katie sit in the grandma’s place, next to her. It was very nice. Afterward there was a luncheon at the golf clubhouse by Bonnie’s house, and we had a good time talking with my brothers and sisters that were there. Of course Maddie looked beautiful! And Jantzen is very handsome. And everyone in both families is good-looking too. A photographer’s dream!
         The horses are back in their pasture behind our house! They were very excited to come home, kicking their heels and running around. I’m happy too.
          Lots of love, Mom

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Dear Kids,
          Dad and I have been busy with yard projects all week. Dad has been mowing and trimming. (Did you know a weed whacker could shoot a pebble through a basement window?) We planted four new trees, and Dad made cages for them. I’ve been digging out rocks in the strip along Hilltop Road, and raking out the dirt. I’m spreading bark over the sand in the playground, which has been a disaster anyway, since it blows away, and gets tracked into the house. (I’m making a wall around the sand digger, and leaving the sand in there, since you can’t dig bark very well.) I’ll be running out of bark pretty soon, but it’s easy to get more from Thompson Logging. They’re just down the hill. 
          Dad’s birthday (and Dallin’s) is a week from Friday. We’re planning a combined birthday party that evening at either Donna’s house or ours–I’m not sure yet. It’ll be at 6:30 pm, probably just cake and ice cream, and presents. If you want to go in on the 2-terabyte hard drive for Dad, just let me know. I’ll have more details next week.
          It’s less than five weeks until Sharon’s family comes, and our basement should be totally finished by then, even the bathroom, except that we might not have carpet. What’s with this area? In our old house, I just ordered carpet, and it came, and they installed it. Since we’ve moved here, it’s been nothing but trouble. Now our "carpet man" is putting us off, telling us each week that it’s finally being made, and he’ll have it on Monday, and it will be installed Friday. He has told us the same thing four weeks in a row. I think he’s running his business in the red, waiting for some new customer to make a deposit, so he can buy ours. I hope we won’t be out our $2,000 deposit. I hope there won’t be a big fight to get it back. What I really hope is that the carpet will be installed. He’s a nice guy, in Tom’s ward–just probably not a good businessman.
          We used to have DVD’s of the Merlin series. Did we lend them to one of you? I only liked season one, because it got violent after that, but I’d like to watch the first few episodes again.
           Love to all, Mom

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Dear Kids,
         I hope all you daughters of mine, and daughters-in-law, are having a great mother’s day! I sure miss my mom this time of the year. She loved May! It was mother’s day, and her birthday, and the world looked beautiful, too. 
          We still don’t have carpet in our basement, but we have a toilet! John and Dad installed it yesterday. I was surprised to see that it doesn’t have a handle, just a two-sided button on top, where you can choose either one flush or two. I hope the grandchildren won’t be too confused. I hope I won’t be too confused. We still need to put in the sink and the shower head, but those shouldn’t be confusing.
          We’ve enjoyed having Allen’s family visit our ward for the last couple of months, but now his schedule has changed again, and they won’t be coming now. But it was nice while it lasted. They fit into our ward very nicely. Allen was playing the piano in priesthood meeting. Carson passed the sacrament to us last week. Ellie bore her testimony. They always came to our house for lunch after the block. We’ll miss them. But of course we still see Allen a lot. I wish he could settle here permanently.
          Does anybody want to go in on a birthday present for Dad? It’s a 2 terabyte external hard drive for his computer. Do you know how big 2 terabyte is? It’s two million gig. That’s two billion meg. Two trillion bytes. When we got our first computer 25 years ago, it had a 40 mg hard drive, and that was a big deal. We paid an extra $100 to have 2 mg of memory instead of just 1. Now we don’t even worry about memory, and the hard drives are enormous. Anyway, if you want to go in on the present for Dad, let me know.
           The horses that lived behind us haven’t come back, but the owner has been repairing the fence and fertilizing and irrigating, so he probably hasn’t sold the property. Two sandhill cranes were out there yesterday, picking around in the grass. I tried to scare them into taking off, because they look so beautiful when they take to the air, but they just ignored me. I guess they’re used to humans now. They used to be pretty wild.
          Love to all, Mom

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Dear Kids,
          Our basement is ready for carpet, but we’re not sure when that’s going to happen. Dan Sluga, of Wasatch Back Carpet, (who’s in Tom’s ward and stands next to him in choir) is supposed to have it ready to go, but he’s known to drag his heels, which seems to be happening now. No matter–I still have a few odds and ends to finish. Our only deadline is to have everything done by the time Sharon’s family comes in June. While we’re waiting for the carpet, we’ll invite John over for a plumbing party. He’s the king of toilet installations.
            It’s been snowing nearly every day, but it always melts in a couple of hours. We had a break yesterday, so Dad mowed the lawn and I sprayed a section of weeds out in back. For once, the horses were not watching me over the fence. They’ve been moved to another pasture in our neighborhood, and I’m worried that the property has been sold. The fence is broken down in a couple of places, so maybe the owner is just waiting to have it fixed, but my worst nightmare would be to have houses built there. I love looking out at that pasture!
          Tom always brings his portable internet hotspot when his family visits on Sunday nights, and I download library books and surf the net while it’s here. He forgot and left it behind last Sunday night, so we had lightening-fast internet until we took it back on Thursday. I’m sorry to say how many hours I wasted online. People laugh at us for not having high-speed internet, but I do a lot more useful things without it. Our basement wouldn’t be done, that’s for sure. 
          I’m racking my brains for any news, but I can’t think of any. I hope you all have your calendars marked for our Ackerson family reunion July 7-9, and for the Allen family reunion on August 6. Summer’s coming fast, although it’s still winter here. Spring? We had that last year.   
          Lots of love, Mom

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Dear Kids,
          I’ve been looking at pictures of kittens on and the humane society and animal shelter web pages, but I haven’t seen anything promising yet. There are plenty of haggard older cats that need homes, but we’ve had those long enough. Xena’s sixteen now, and quite the old lady. She yowls at us every time we come into the garage. Maybe she’s saying she needs friends, or maybe she’s only complaining about her age. We can’t tell.
          On Monday I hiked on the Jordanelle perimeter trail with Allen, and we went all the way to the point, (11 miles round trip), which was a big deal for me, but not for Al, because he’d gone 20 miles the week before. He’s getting in shape for the long summer hikes he’s planning. He’s going to do the Highline Trail in the Uintas with Carson, and the Grand Canyon in the fall. He’s got a lot of great gear now, some of which gets delivered to our house, if the UPS and FedEx guys are too lazy to take it up to the cabin. I’m envious of the gear, and of his adventure plans.
          Yesterday afternoon Dad and I went to another Saturday afternoon musical: we watched Ellie in "Aristocats." It’s really a great show! Ellie played the part of "Madame," the owner of Duchess and her kittens. There was a lot of singing and dancing, and some very cute costumes. Remember, if any of your kids are in any theater productions, invite us! I love them all!
          I’ve been taking the medications for my esophagus, and I think it’s getting a little better. At least I’ve stopped losing weight. I’m hoping to eat more normally sometime in the future. If I could eat ice cream again, I think my life would be perfect. 
          We were really enjoying spring, but then winter came back. It was snowing yesterday afternoon. I’d like to be out working in the yard, but there’s still plenty to do in the basement. Life is full of fun projects!
          Love to all! Mom

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Dear Kids,
          I’m still plugging away in the basement, finishing the moldings. They’re taking me forever. Dad has been installing the doorknobs, which is a tricky business, besides pulling off the pieces of molding that I’ve done wrong, and pulling out the nails, so I can try again. Good thing I’m using paintable molding. I’ve had to patch lots of holes. 
          The highlight of my week was meeting with my brothers and sisters at Bonnie’s house to plan the big Allen family reunion. Basically it’s going to be like the others, probably at the same park, but with more planned activities, especially games. Charley’s in charge, but he gave us all assignments. It will be on August 6th. (And don’t forget our own Ackerson reunion at Mantua campground on July 7-9.) While we were at Bonnie’s house, Morgan opened his mission call, with all his friends there. He’s going to the Texas Houston South mission, leaving July 27. It’s amazing that such young kids are going on missions! Charley’s two grandsons, Sam and Scott, have their calls. I think Sam is going to Ecuador, and Scott is going to my old mission, Germany Frankfurt. Whoa. 
          Katie’s been here from Boise for a few days, for the planning meeting, and for the bridal shower for Maddie. She and Jane and I went to lunch on Thursday, at the Wasatch Back Grill in Heber, by John’s office. Then we came here to our house, and watched the horses. It was snowing, and the horses ran around a little bit, which delighted Katie. By the way, Those horses have gotten really lazy! Last Sunday, while Allen and his kids were here, Ellie and I took some pieces of apples out to them. They wouldn’t even come! They have feed buckets over by their barn, which are probably full of treats. 
           Allen and his kids have been coming to our ward for the last few weeks, which has been really fun. Ellie went to Young Women for the first time last week, since she had just barely turned 12. She said people are really welcoming here, but she misses her friends in her home ward. Allen’s schedule will be changing the first of May, so they won’t be here on Sundays any more, and we’ll really miss them.
          I hope you’re all doing well and enjoying life! Love, Mom

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Dear Kids,
          The highlight of my week was a hike along the Jordanelle perimeter trail with Allen on Monday. I know I wasn’t up to speed, but he patiently walked at my pace. It was cool and pleasant. We went about four and a half miles before we turned back. We didn’t see much wildlife, except for deer carcasses and rabbit remains. Mostly the feet. Allen said that’s why a rabbit’s foot is lucky–it’s the only part that doesn’t get eaten.
          The rest of my week has been totally working in the basement. I’m madly trying to finish because our carpet should be here in a couple of days, and also so I can get outside and work in the yard. Now that the weather is nicer, I’m dying to rake rocks and spread more bark and plant more grass. And get more trees. I won’t let myself look at anything yet in the tree section of Home Depot. It would be too hard to walk away from them.
          Our big old Knabe piano took another trip this week–from Dave Michelson’s rental house on Longleaf Drive, (which he sold), to Donna’s house in Midway. I’m sure it won’t be there permanently, because Donna’s thinking of something different for her permanent piano, but it can stay there until either Sharon or Allen claims it. This is its fifth home since I bought it in 1983. Meanwhile, the bigger Clavinova came from Donna’s house back here. It has moved even more times. And the little Clavinova, which is also here, has lived in innumerable apartments and dorm rooms, besides taking a trip to Ohio while John and Heather lived there. Even my big piano is now at its third residence. Who knew pianos could travel so much?
         Thursday night, my brother Charley is having a siblings get-together to have us help him plan the summer reunion. (It’s scheduled for August 6th). I’m looking forward to seeing lots of my brothers and sisters, and especially Katie, who will be here. She’s coming to our house after that for a day or two, to visit. We'll probably spend  most of our time watching the horses. 
         I hope you’re all doing great! Dad and I are, too. Love, Mom

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Dear Kids,
          We had a great time with those of you who came to our soup dinner last night, and we sent off the guys to the priesthood session thinking we’d be alone for a couple of hours. But they were home again in record time! Shortest priesthood session ever! They said President Monson barely started his talk, and then he was done. But they said it was really good. Anyway, we all dove into the ice cream and made quick work of it. We’re looking forward to the conference sessions today and having dinner with lots of you at the cabin. And welcoming Nora’s family home from their trip. It seems like they've been gone forever.
          After weeks of moseying along in our basement, I’ve finally speeded up, because now we have a deadline. Dan Sluga, the carpet guy, who’s known for dragging his heels and not showing up, has already come to our house, measured, collected a deposit, and ordered our carpet. It’s supposed to be here in a week. So I’m working every spare minute on tile, grout, and molding. The doors were a nightmare, but they’re done. Dad has totally finished the lights, switches, and outlets, so he’s done. Will it really be finished? It’s hard to imagine, since we’ve been working on it so long. 
          I had an appointment with my GI doctor on Thursday morning, and I was hoping he could identify what’s wrong with me. He did. What a surprise. He said all the tests show I have eosinophilic esophagitis (impossible to pronounce) which means that there are white blood cells in the lining of your esophagus that get inflamed. There are also I washboard-like ridges, and a place where the muscles don’t work very well (a dysmotility.) I looked all this up on the internet, and the treatments are all experimental, but my doctor said he’s had good success with oral steroids. You spray Flovent on the roof of your mouth and wash it down with a tiny bit of water, and it’s supposed to land in your esophagus and heal it. I hope it works. At least it’s a big relief knowing what’s wrong. The condition is often associated with food allergies, and the doctor mentioned testing, but I said I didn’t want to go there. I’ll just take the treatment.
          Spring is here and life is good. I love you all! Mom