Sunday, December 31, 2017

Dear Kids,
          Dr. Engen took the stitches out of my forehead on Friday morning, and my face is starting to look better. The swelling is nearly gone. The top of my nose looks a little skewed, but I’m hoping that will improve, too. If not, Dr. Engen can fix it for me. He emphasized how much tissue he had to take out! I’m really grateful to have it taken care of. I’ve been hearing horror stories about people who lost noses and cheeks and parts of their necks to basal cell carcinoma. I found a new dermatologist (Dr. Horsley should have retired by now!) and Dad and I both have appointments to get looked over for any other problems.
          I’ve felt so much better that on Thursday and Friday afternoons I went for short walks along the Jordanelle Trail. There’s practically no snow, so it’s great for hiking right now. If any of you want some great winter recreation, come and go hiking with me!
          Last night Dad and I went to my brothers’ and sisters’ annual holiday party, which was at Bonnie’s house. Our white elephant presents were the best ever! I had found a black Christmas tree angel at Walmart, with led lights. Barbara got it, and she was delighted, and plugged it in right there. I also re-donated some sister missionary action figures that I received two years ago. Dad got a set of Richard Simmons cook books, which disgusted him so much, he "forgot" to bring them home. My cousin Colleen was at the party! Remember Colleen? She used to live in Heber and work at the Mavrik–the old one. Her house had llamas in the back yard. She’s back in Heber now, living in a trailer she bought, at the Mountain Valley RV park, out toward Daniels. Her dad, my uncle Johnny, is 96 now. He’s at the Legacy care center on North University in Provo.
          At the party, we were talking about the big Allen summer reunion, which we only have every two years, now. We’ve tentatively scheduled it for July 28, 2018, probably at the same park, Riverwoods.
          Tonight is New Years Eve! I still have a couple of packs of fireworks left, like the ones somebody set off at our family reunion at Bear Lake last summer. If you’re here when it’s dark, I’ll set them off. I won’t even wait till midnight!
          I hope you’ll all have a great new year! Love, Mom

P.S I forgot to mention that Tommy's baby blessing will be two weeks from today, on January 14.  The after-party will be at John's.  I'll have more information next week.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Dear Kids,
          I hope you’re all having a wonderful Christmas Eve Morning! I love that peace you feel right before Christmas, especially on Sunday. I love celebrating the Savior’s birth. The story of Mary and Joseph and the baby Jesus never gets old.
          My surgery on Thursday turned out really well. Since I’d had such terrible nausea the first time, Bonnie told me to be sure to ask for the zofran patch. I didn’t know there was such a thing! They stick it on your neck, and it keeps the nausea at bay. So I woke up after the operation feeling fine, and I even ate a pack of oreos. Dr. Engen came in and said they definitely got out all the cancer, which made me feel even better. I have a big jagged wound running down my face, next to my eye–Dad texted you all the picture, so you can see how great I look. But I don’t care. If anybody asks, I’ll say I got run over by a reindeer, like the song. ("Grandma got run over by a reindeer . . . ") I’ll say his antler ripped my face open.  By the way, thanks for all your phone calls and texts, and especially for your prayers for me. I know that made a big difference.
         I really want to go to Church this morning, so I’m having Dad drive me up to Elk Meadows, the care center in Oakley, where sacrament meeting only lasts 25 minutes. Dad will probably go to the meeting in Francis 2nd ward after that. And otherwise, we’ll be home all day today and tomorrow. Come and see us! I have lots of Christmas goodies, although I forgot to buy hot chocolate mix. We’ll be watching Christmas videos and movies. Sharon sent us "Christmas Eve on Sesame Street," which I especially love.
           And there’s snow on the ground! The sledding party on Tuesday will actually include sledding! I don’t know if I’ll make it over there, but I’ll send Dad with the sloppy jo mix. You can call Allen with any questions. And if anybody still wants to pass off "the Grinch," I still have plenty of $10.00 bills.
          Merry Christmas to all of you! Love, Mom

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Dear Kids,
          What a great party we had at Nora’s last night! And Sharon’s family was there via skype! That means a record number of children were opening presents together. The food was fantastic, thanks to everyone who helped. Congratulations to Tom’s family for passing off "The Grinch." There’s still time for the rest of you–it’s a $10.00 payout to anybody who can do it, and you have until Christmas.
          Dad and I won’t be home tonight, because we’ll be going to Allen’s piano recital in Centerville. It’s at 5 pm, and the address is 1298 North 400 West. It’s a church across from a park. Nora and Al will be playing a duet together, and I’m really looking forward to it. They’ve been practicing together at Nora’s house.
           I’ll be having the surgery on my forehead this Thursday, so Christmas itself will be different for us this year. We won’t be hiking up Memorial Hill on Christmas Eve, because I probably won’t be up for it, and it’s a Sunday, besides. But Dad and I will be home that night, and we’ll have cookies and candy and hot chocolate for anybody who wants to come by. Same for Christmas Day. I want to watch a lot of Christmas movies and really enjoy the real Christmas spirit.
          Normally this time of the year I’m having lots of fun wrapping presents and getting them to all of your families, so this year has been really different. A couple of nights ago I was feeling sort of depressed, thinking "How can it be Christmas, if I’m not wrapping presents?" So I got out "The Tall Book of Christmas" and read it from cover to cover, and I felt a lot better. The Grinch was right when he realized that Christmas doesn’t come from a store, as much fun as all of that is.
          There’s no snow on the ground, and very little in sight, but we’ll still have the sledding party at the cabin the day after Christmas. There’s always plenty of fun to be had at the cabin! I’ll send Dad over with the sloppy jo mix, even if I’m not there myself. Allen will be in charge. Thanks, Al!
          There was a flock of magpies out in the pasture behind our house a few days ago, and a black and white cat cavorting with them. We got out the binoculars and looked closely, but it wasn’t Oreo. He’s probably cavorting with magpies in the sky. It’s been almost three years, but we still miss him. Tina takes up the slack, however. Dad bought a giant lion puppet at the DI, sort of a muppet, with a big mouth you can open and close by putting your hand in from the back. Tina is terrified of the thing. It’s been lots of fun.
          I hope you all have a wonderful week! Love, Mom

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Dear Kids,
          I’m really looking forward to the Messiah tonight! I only wish I could be singing in it myself, but I was never in good enough shape after my surgery to go back to the practices. Tom and Bentley will both be in the choir, though! There’s a pre-party at Tom’s house at 5:30 pm. I’m bringing pumpkin cookies. Be there or be square!
          The family Christmas party is next Saturday afternoon, the 16th, at Nora’s. There’s ice skating from 12:30 to 2:30 (call Nora for the address), and dinner is at 5:00. We’ll start the gift exchange at 6:00. For me, this family party is the real Christmas. It doesn’t get any more exciting than that, with 30 kids squealing and opening presents.
           Next Sunday night, the 17th, Allen will be playing in a Christmas piano recital in Centerville, and there are rumors that Nora will be playing a duet with him. The recital is probably at 5:00, at a church, but I don’t know any more than that. I’ll have more details next week.
           I’m not sure yet of our plans for Christmas. I really would like to do the Christmas Eve hike up Memorial Hill, but my surgery is just three days before that, and I don’t know what kind of shape I’ll be in. Same for Christmas day. But we’ll absolutely have the sledding party at the cabin the day after. (Tuesday, the 26th.) Even if there’s no snow. Plan on bringing your Christmas leftovers, and I’ll make sloppy joes.
          Sharon called to tell me about a test question she had on a biology exam. A woman that’s heterozygous for color vision (one good x chromosome, one bad) (that would be all you girls in our family) is married to a color blind man. Sharon had to diagram the chances for each child, girls and boys, to be color blind. After she answered the question, she put a note to the professor that this was her family, exactly. Also Grandpa and Grandma Allen, which is why I have deficient color vision. (Two bad x chromosomes.) Sharon will be having finals this week, and so will Julie, and even James! Good luck to all you college students!
          I’ve had a terrible pain in my abdomen, sort of on the side, for the last couple of weeks, ever since I went off the painkillers from my surgery. I finally went to Instacare and saw a doctor, and they even sent me for a cat scan. Nothing. But I was still in misery. Then, after I prayed about it, the phrase "bruised rib" came into my mind. I googled it, and it described my symptoms exactly. Then I went on Amazon to see what a rib brace looks like. Then I went to Walmart and bought it. Thanks to my three favorite corporations, Google, Amazon, and Walmart, I’m out of pain now. Thanks to Heavenly Father, too, and all your prayers for me.
          Lots of love, Mom

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Dear Kids,
          After three weeks on his back in the wheelbarrow, with his feet up in the air, our metal buck has been returned to his place of glory, on the hill next to the doe. (She said "thank you." Those "moving" deer have terrified her, and she needs the protection.) Dad and I did the job yesterday. (I can now get out a little bit. I coached while Dad did the work.) We now have four 16" spikes driven into the ground, one under each foot of the buck. There are metal cables looping through the tops of the spikes, and going up through the buck's feet.  I don’t know what could possibly knock him over again, but we might find out next fall, when the mating season comes around again.
           We’re all really grateful that little Tommy is doing so well! The valve in his heart closed, and he was able to come home. Dad and I dropped by Donna and Bevan’s to see him on Monday morning. He’s so cute! The house was very orderly, but Donna and Bevan are finding out that four kids is one more than three. Donna said she keeps losing track of Drew. He was dragging a blanket, with a binkie in his mouth, looking very pathetic. He was glad to climb into Dad’s lap. It’s tough for a little kid when he’s no longer the baby!
            I’m recovering pretty well from the surgery I had just before Thanksgiving. They've scheduled the next one for December 21. The timing isn’t very good, right before Christmas, but I’ll just be glad to get it over with.  I have a lot of confidence in Dr. Engen, and I'm sure he’ll get out the rest of the cancer. Plus, since he’s a plastic surgeon, he’ll keep my face looking good. Somebody said, "What do you care about your face, as long as they get out the cancer," but I do care.
           The Messiah is next Sunday night, 7pm, at Tom’s church, and the after-party will be at his house. I’m really looking forward to that! And the family Christmas party is on the 16th. There’s no stopping the fun! Dad and I haven’t made any definite plans for Christmas, but hopefully we can get around to see some of you, or maybe we’ll make you come and see us! And then there’s the baby blessing to look forward to, January 14th. I’ll be making pumpkin pie, for everybody who missed it on Thanksgiving.
          The fun goes on! Love to everybody!  Mom

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Dear Kids,
          Of course the top thing on all our minds this morning is little Tommy Hawkins, and how he’s doing up there at Primary Children’s Medical Center. When he was born Wednesday afternoon at the Park City Hospital, everything looked fine, but when they went to release him Thursday night his blood oxygen levels weren’t high enough, and the blood pressure in his lungs was high. They put him on oxygen, and gave him a range of tests. Friday morning he and Donna took a helicopter ride to PCMC, where they gave him more tests. There’s a valve in his heart that was supposed to close at birth, and it didn’t, so the blood that was supposed to circulate to his lungs was just getting pumped back into his body, without the oxygen it needed. He’s scheduled for an echocardiagram this afternoon, but as of last night, they’d had him breathing on his own, without the oxygen tubes, for a couple of hours. I don’t know how it’s gone since then. Donna has put up two posts on "Boring Ackerson Updates" (Please, can’t anybody change the name of that site??!!) that are really helpful. There’s also a really cute picture of Tommy with his oxygen tube. He looks a little dubious about the whole thing. I know all our prayers have helped a great deal!
           Thanksgiving was a wonderful day. Thanks so much to Allen and Tom and Kim for doing the essentials: the turkey and gravy and potatoes and rolls. I enjoyed being a guest at dinner, and not being in charge. It’s a big load off my mind, knowing that Thanksgiving can go ahead with somebody else doing the turkey, and getting everything lined up perfectly. Besides the delicious food, it was a wonderful day, with beautiful warm weather. Vanessa’s family had been at the cabin earlier in the week, and I heard that Vanessa walked (or ran) the big loop four times! Most of the rest of our family was there Thursday night for pie, but since Donna’s family couldn’t make it, and Sharon insists that there’s no pumpkin pie like mine, I’m going to make it again for the baby blessing. What a wonderful thing to look forward to!
          And, of course, there’s Christmas coming up. The Messiah is in two weeks, and I’m hoping there will be an afterparty either Saturday or Sunday night. I’ll let you know in my letter next week. Then there’s the family Christmas party on the 16th. It’s always wild and crazy. And Christmas itself is nearly here, too. I hope lots of you will earn your $10.00 bills reciting the Grinch. You "away" families can send me a video, or skype it.
          I’m finding out tomorrow when my next surgery will be, and I’ll let you know, so you can pray for me. I’ve had a tough recovery from the first one.
         Thanks for all your prayers, for all of us! Love, Mom

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Dear Kids,
         This week it was my turn to have a medical "procedure." It started with me getting the idea I wanted to have my eyebrows microbladed, but I’ve gotten really beetle-browed, so I thought maybe I’d see Dr. Engen about having a brow lift first. That didn’t seem like a big deal. When I met with him, I also asked him about some eczema (I thought) on my eyebrow. He took a good look at it, and said it was most likely a carcinoma. (That’s cancer, said nicely.) (But if you’re going to have skin cancer, it’s the best kind to have.) On Tuesday he did the surgery, but even though they have an on-site pathologist who evaluates the tissue as it’s cut out, Dr. Engen didn’t get it all. So I have to go back, probably the first week in December, and let him get the rest of it. I was worried I’m going to end up looking like Frankenstein, but Tom said that Jacob Patterson lost half his nose, and they put it back so well you can hardly tell. Donna said the same thing about one of her friends. So I have hope. The timing of all this isn’t very good, of course. Donna’s baby is due any day. I’ll probably have to drop out of the Messiah. And then there’s Christmas shopping, which I usually start about now . . .
          It’s funny that I was already thinking it was time for me to just start giving Christmas money to each family. Grandma Allen was way younger than I am when she switched over, and I remember that it was fun having the extra money to shop with. So I’m switching over! My normal allotment is $30 per person, young and old, but if there’s something I really want to give somebody, I might still buy a present or two. Up until now I’ve always enjoyed shopping and wrapping presents, but obviously it’s time to move on.
           And then there’s Thanksgiving coming up on Thursday! I’m so grateful that Allen volunteered to host us orphans. I’ll be making pumpkin pie, and probably chocolate pie, too. I’ve heard rumors of two kinds of turkey: smoked and roasted. Hopefully I’ll be able to eat normal food by then, and keep it down. 
          I’ll keep you posted on any changes in our holiday plans!
          Lots of love, Mom

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Dear Kids,
          Our two metal deer, the buck and the doe, have been standing proudly out on our corner for more than three years now, but yesterday I noticed that the buck had been knocked over on its side. That was no easy feat, since it had been anchored by two 14" stakes driven into the ground, attached to the buck’s legs by metal cables you can only cut with a grinder. One stake was pulled up, while on the other side, the metal cable had been broken. We figured right away it wasn’t human vandalism, especially since there were deep hoof marks around the defeated buck. Our neighbor, who’s a wildlife expert, said our buck was probably taken down by a real buck in a fight over the metal doe. I didn’t know real deer were that strong, but our neighbor said they are. He’s spotted some bucks as large as four points just down the hill from us. Dad and I loaded our downed buck into a wheelbarrow and took him to the garage. I wanted to put him back up right away, but out neighbor said we should wait until the end of the mating season.
          Dad has been recovering from his heart procedure really well. Yesterday we were walking up the sidewalk to the Provo Temple and he had to slow down a little bit, but mostly he’s doing his normal activities. He went to "cardio rehab," where they evaluated him on a treadmill and set his exercise limits: 3mph, at 3 degrees, for 30 minutes. So he’s doing that. He’ll have a cardiologist watching him closely from now on.
          I’m really enjoying the Messiah practices this year. Even though we aren’t home Sunday evenings now, we’re there in the afternoon, from 2:30 until 5:30, when we have to leave for Heber. So come by and drink our chocolate milk and eat our gummi bears!
          Wow, Thanksgiving is only a week and a half away! We’ll see some of you "orphans" at the cabin, thanks to Al’s hospitality! I’m sure you’ll contact him about food assignments. And naturally we’ll be waiting eagerly for word of the birth of new baby Hawkins!
          And remember the "Grinch" memorization challenge for Christmas! Parents can do it, too. You can recite in groups of two or three, if you want to. You can pass it off at the family party, or on Christmas, or any time in between. I’ll have a stack of $10.00 bills ready.
          Love to you all, Mom

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Dear Kids,
          Most of you have already heard about Dad’s heart procedure: he had two stents put into his coronary arteries to open up blockages he had. (A stent is a little mesh tunnel that keeps the arteries open.) I wish I had called or texted everybody beforehand, but I didn’t want you all worrying before you needed to. I said plenty of prayers for us all. Dad had the procedure done at the Death Star, on Halloween, but it still went really well. They kept him all night, and he checked out at noon the next day.
            I wasn’t even aware that he had heart trouble, until he said he’d had pains in his chest, when he walked on the treadmill. He made an appointment with a PA, and then she referred him for a stress test, which he had last Monday morning. He flunked it, so they scheduled him for an angiogram (CAT scan with dye, looking at the heart) the next morning. When they saw the two blockages, they put in the stents immediately. They went in through his wrist, feeding them up to his heart. I’m glad they didn’t have to cut him open. His recovery has gone really well, and he hasn’t had any chest pain in the last week. He’s scheduled for cardio-rehab, where they’ll evaluate his heart and see what exercise he can handle. I’m sure he’ll be seeing a cardiologist on a regular basis, too. He’s telling people that without the stents, he would have had a massive heart attack. That’s probably true. So please keep him in your prayers.
          Otherwise, everything’s going fine here. We really enjoyed Abi’s baptism yesterday, and seeing so many of you there! What a fine big wonderful family we have!
          I’m excited about the upcoming events: Thanksgiving, for one. Al is hosting at the cabin for all you orphans: dinner at 1 p.m., and pie later in the afternoon or early evening. The second event (or maybe it will come first) will be the birth of little baby boy Hawkins. We’re really looking forward to that! Donna’s doctor says nothing is happening yet, but we’ve heard that story before!
           The Messiah will be December 9 and 10 at 7 pm at Tom’s church. I’m very excited to be practicing it again! Bentley’s singing with us this time. I hope he’ll come to love it like the rest of us do.
           The family Christmas party is scheduled, tentatively, for Saturday, December 16, at Nora’s house. We’ll have more details as it gets closer.
           What fun! What a family! Love, Mom

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Dear Kids,
           Dad and I had a wonderful afternoon yesterday–we had lunch with Paul and Stefanie and Josh at their house, and then we went to the Hill AFB Museum. Stefanie’s mom and dad went, too. I know I’ve never been a great fan of airplanes, but it was fun to walk around outside in the sunshine among all those gigantic planes, and see Josh’s amazement. Inside the museum itself, I was dumbfounded by all the old military planes on display. I know Hill AFB is a standard field trip destination, but I’ve never been.
           In the evening, we went to Ellie’s latest performance at Centerpoint, a Broadway review. She and her group were great, as always.
           What else is going on? For the next six Sundays, Dad and I will be having Messiah practices in Heber, so we’ll be gone after 5:30 pm. This will be our fifth year! (Tom’s tenth.) The performances will be December 9th and 10th, at Tom’s church. That seems far away, but it isn’t!
          And of course Abi’s baptism is next Saturday morning, Nov. 4, at 10 am at Tom’s stake center (the church just east of Tom’s church). There’s an afterparty, of course, at Tom’s house. You can call Kim for a food assignment, if you want. We’re really looking forward to it. And way down the road, Christmas is coming! Last year, at Tom and Kim’s, Bentley recited "How the Grinch Stole Christmas," while he was opening a present and fiddling with something else, besides. That inspired me to memorize it myself! It’s easy. So I’m making this offer: $10.00 to every grandchild who can recite the entire thing by Christmas! (You faraway kids can skype it.) Below this letter, in a separate post, I’m putting up the version of the "Grinch" that’s is the Seuss book. If you memorize it from the video, that’s fine too. They’re practically identical.
          So much going on! My life here is wonderful! Dad’s, too. Love, Mom

by Dr. Seuss

Every Who down in Who-ville liked Christmas a lot,
But the Grinch, who lived just north of Who-Ville, Did NOT
The Grinch hated Christmas! The whole Christmas season!
Now, please don’t ask why. No one quite knows the reason.
It could be his head wasn’t screwed on just right.
It could be, perhaps, that his shoes were too tight.
But I think that the most likely reason of all
May have been that his heart was two sizes too small

But, whatever the reason, his heart or his shoes,
He stood there on Christmas Eve, hating the Whos,
Staring down from his cave with a sour, Grinchy frown
At the wam lighted windows below in their town.
For he knew every Who down in Who-ville beneath
Was busy now, hanging a mistletoe wreath.
"And they’re hanging their stockings!" he snarled with a sneer.
"Tomorrow is Christmas! It’s practically here!"
Then he growled, with his Grinch fingers nervously drumming,
"I MUST find some way to stop Christmas from coming!"
For, tomorrow, he knew, all the Who girls and boys
Would wake bright and early. They’d rush for their toys!
And then! Oh, the noise! Oh, the Noise! Noise! Noise! Noise!
That’s one thing he hated! The Noise! Noise! Noise! Noise!
Then the Whos, young and old, would sit down to a feast.
And they’d feast! And they’d feast! And they’d FEAST! FEAST! FEAST! FEAST!
They would feast on Who-pudding, and rare Who-roast-beast.
Which was was something the Grinch couldn’t stand in the least

And THEN they’d do something he liked least of all!
Every Who down in Who-ville, the tall and the small,
Would stand close together, with Christmas bells ringing.
They’d stand hand-in-hand. And The Whos would start singing!
They’d sing! And they’d sing! And they’d SING! SING! SING! SING!
And the more the Grinch thought of this Who-Christmas-Sing,
The more the Grinch thought, "I must stop this whole thing!
Why, for fifty three years I’ve put up with it now!
I MUST stop this Christmas from coming! . . . But how?"
Then he got an idea! An awful idea! THE GRINCH GOT A WONDERFUL, AWFUL IDEA

"I know just what to do!" The Grinch laughed in his throat.
And he made a quick Santy Claus hat and a coat.
And he chuckled, and clucked, "What a great Grinchy trick!
With this coat and this hat, I look just like Saint Nick!"
"All I need is a reindeer . . . " The Grinch looked around.
But, since reindeer are scarce, there was none to be found.
Did that stop the old Grinch . . .? No! The Grinch simply said,
"If I can’t find a reindeer, I’ll make one instead!"
So he called his dog, Max. Then he took some red thread
And he tied a big horn on the top of his head.
THEN he loaded some bags and some old empty sacks
On a ramshackle sleigh. And he hitched up old Max.
Then the Grinch said,, "Giddap!" and the sleigh started down
Toward the homes where the Whos lay a-snooze in their town

All their windows were dark. Quiet snow filled the air.
All the Whos were all dreaming sweet dreams without care
When he came to the first little house on the square.
"This is stop number one," the old Grinchy Claus hissed
And he climbed to the roof, empty bags in his fist.
Then he slid down the chimney. A rather tight pinch.
But, if Santa could do it, then so could the Grinch.
He got stuck only once, for a moment or two.
Then he stuck his head out of the fireplace flue
Where the little Who stockings all hung in a row.
"These stockings ," he grinned, "are the first things to go!

Then he slithered and slunk, with a smile most unpleasant,
Around the whole room, and he took every present!
Pop guns! And bicycles! Roller skates! Drums!
Checkerboards! Tricycles! Popcorn! And plums!
And he stuffed them in bags. Then the Grinch, very nimbly,
Stuffed all the bags, one by one, up the chimbley!
Then he slunk to the icebox. He took the Whos’ feast!
He took the Who-pudding! He took the roast beast!
He cleaned out that icebox as quick as a flash.
Why, that Grinch even took their last can of Who-hash!
Then he stuffed all the food up the chimney with glee.
"And NOW!" grinned the Grinch, "I will stuff up the tree!

And the Grinch grabbed the tree, and he started to shove
When he heard a small sound like the coo of a dove.
He turned around fast, and he saw a small Who!
Little Cindy-Lou Who, who ws not more than two.
The Grinch had been caught by this tiny Who daughter
Who’d got out of bed for a cup of cold water.
She stared at the Grinch and said, "Santy Claus, why,
Why are you taking our Christmas tree? Why

But, you know, that old Grinch was so smart and so slick
He thought up a lie, and he thought it up quick!
"Why, my sweet little tot," the fake Santy Claus lied,
"There’s a light on this tree that won’t light on one side.
So I’m taking it home to my workshop, my dear.
I’ll fix it up there. Then I’ll bring it back here."
And his fib fooled the child. Then he patted her head
And he got her a drink and he sent her to bed.
And when Cindy-Lou Who went to bed with her cup,
HE went to the chimney and stuffed the tree up!
Then the last thing he took was the log for their fire!
Then he went up the chimney, himself, the old liar.
On their walls he left nothing but hooks and some wire.
And the one speck of food that he left in the house
Was a crumb that was even too small for a mouse.
Then he did the same thing to the other Whos’ houses
Leaving crumbs much too small for the other Whos’ mouses

It was quarter past dawn . . . All the Whos, still a-bed,
All the Whos, still a-snooze when he packed up his sled,
Packed it up with their presents! The ribbons! The wrappings!
The tags! And the tinsel! The trimmings! The trappings!
Three thousand feed up! Up the side of Mt. Crumpit,
He rode with his load to the tiptop to dump it!
"Pooh-pooh to the Whos!" he was grinch-ish-ly humming.
"They’re finding out now that no Christmas is coming!
"They’re just waking up! I know just what they’ll do!
"Their mouths will hang open a minute or two
"Then the Whos down in Who-ville will all cry BOO-HOO!
"That’s a noise," grinned the Grinch, "That I simply MUST hear!

So he paused. And the Grinch put his hand to his ear.
And he did hear a sound rising over the snow.
It started in low. Then it started to grow . . .
But the sound wasn’t sad! Why, this sound sounded merry!
It couldn’t be so! But it WAS merry! VERY!
He stared down at Who-ville! The Grinch popped his eyes!
Then he shook! What he saw was a shocking surprise!
Every Who down in Who-ville, the tall and the small,
Was singing! Without any presents at all!
He HADN’t stopped Christmas from coming! IT CAME!
Somehow or other, it came just the same

And the Grinch, with his grinch-feet ice-cold in the snow,
Stood puzzling and puzzling: "How could it be so?
"It came without ribbons! It came without tags!
"It came without packages, boxes, or bags!"
And he puzzled three hours, till his puzzler was sore.
Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before!
"Maybe Christmas," he thought, "doesn’t come from a store.
"Maybe Christmas . . . perhaps . . . means a little bit more!"

And what happened then . . .? Well, in Who-ville they say
That the Grinch’s small heart grew three sizes that day!
And the minute his heart didn’t feel quite so tight,
He whizzed with his load through the bright morning light
And he brought back the toys! And the food for the feast!
And he . . . HE HIMSELF . . The Grinch carved the roast beast!

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Dear Kids,
          First off, Abi’s baptism will be a week from Saturday, on November 4, at 10:00 am. They’re having it at Tom and Kim’s Stake Center, which is the second church past JR Smith Elementary, if you’re driving east on 500 North. There will be an after-party at Tom and Kim’s house, so you can call Kim if you want to bring something. I’m really looking forward to it! It’s hard to believe Abi’s eight already! (And Bentley’s 16! He’ll be baptizing her.)
          I was so disappointed that my sisters’ retreat fell through last weekend, but we did practically everything this weekend! Nancy and Jane came Friday night, and we watched movies and worked puzzles. And we went to dinner at the Food Town deli. Our dessert was chocolate cookies that Ellie baked for us–she happened to be staying over too. They were flat, but delicious. Saturday morning we went for a long walk around our neighborhood. The air was crisp and cold, and nobody was around–maybe because of the deerhunt, or maybe because it’s always quiet here. At noon Barbara and Bonnie came, and we went to lunch at the Rhode Island Diner, which seemed to take most of the afternoon. We watched the rest of Nacho Libre, and went through bags of clothes Bonnie had brought, and talked and talked. It was wonderful. We missed Katie, but we did the best we could without her. I love my sisters so much, and I’m so grateful we’re able to have these get-togethers!
          I’m still working in the yard, here and there, now and then. It has to be at least 45 degrees, and the sun has to be out, and the wind not too strong. But I’m fighting the oncoming winter. My trees have lost most of their leaves, and the birds have all gone south, except of course for the magpies. It has already snowed at least five times. The National Weather Service is predicting lots of snow for the Rocky Mountains this winter.
          My piano classes are all doing wonderfully well. I have eight ladies in Heber that are making good progress, and the class at the Lighthouse Church has settled down with about 15 good students and six good teachers. We always have fun, which is the main thing, and lots of my people are learning to play really well. Life couldn’t be better!
          Love, Mom

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Dear Kids,
         The retreat I was going to have with my sisters fell through, and I was terribly disappointed. It seemed like almost everybody had a conflict at the last minute. We didn’t even try to reschedule it, because there’s so much going on with all my sisters. And winter’s coming up, which makes it hard for Katie to come from Boise. We’re hoping to go to lunch together next Saturday, those of us who can come. It’s the best we can do for now.
          To make up for my disappointment, I went for a walk on the Jordanelle trail yesterday afternoon. It was a gorgeous afternoon: blue sky, white clouds, and brown hills with yellow leaves. There were lots of fishermen out on the lake in their boats. After my walk I felt lots better about life. Dad and I are so fortunate to live here! We still can’t believe our good luck.
           I have a new plan for birthday presents: money for everybody!! Doesn’t that sound good? Our family is so big now, and it’s so hard to decide on presents, and so many of the grandkids are getting into their teen years, that I realized it will be easier all around if I just send everybody a birthday card with money in it. Even for the little kids. You parents can intercept the card if you want to, and buy a present with the money, or just let your kid spend it. Even little kids like money! If there’s something I really want to give somebody, though, I might still buy a present here and there. And Christmas–if you would rather have money than gifts, let me know by Thanksgiving. That would have to be on a whole-family basis. I’ve enjoyed picking out Christmas presents over the years, and I’m still willing to do it, but if you’d rather have the money, let me know.
           Sharon’s family has been dealing with the fun of head lice. Remember our adventure with lice, so many years ago? I got the shampoo from FHP, and we shampooed all your heads (besides washing all the sheets, etc.) Well now, according to Sharon, the shampoo doesn’t make your eyes sting, and it doesn’t kill the lice, either. That’s probably due to EPA regulations, which have given us weed killers that don’t kill weeds, bug killers that don’t kill bugs, and oven cleaners that don’t clean ovens. For lice, Sharon says you have to go to a special clinic where they do a heat treatment, sort of like an intense blow dryer. Interesting! Anyway, the lice are now dead.
          I hope you’re all doin’ great and lovin’ it! Mom

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Dear Kids,
          Yesterday was probably the last warm day of the year (66 here in Francis) so Dad and I blew out our sprinkler system with John’s gigantic air compressor. We even blew out a new line I just finished, in the back. I’m already excited for next spring, to put in the last sprinkler line and plant grass back there. People ask me when I’m finally going to be finished with our yard, and I proudly answer "Never!" Working outside in the clean air is so much fun, I’ll always find something more to do.
           But winter is creeping in. We’ve already had three snowstorms. And Thanksgiving is coming up! I know it’s the "off" year for some of you, but it’s always "on" for somebody else. And some of us will be having distractions. Donna’s baby is due the day after Thanksgiving, but I’m predicting he’ll already be here by then. I’m having some minor surgery the week before, and I might not be up to much. So Allen has volunteered to be in charge of Thanksgiving at the cabin. You can contact him for a food assignment. We’ll let you know more when it gets closer.
           Speaking of Allen, his girlfriend Jenny’s son Brock shot a magpie from an upper window in the cabin. They were target practicing on some cans, and the magpie just settled down among them. He was dead as soon as he landed. Allen paid out the $5.00 bounty and I reimbursed him. If anybody wants to go for magpies at Thanksgiving, the bounty money is still available.
            Next weekend my sisters and I are having a retreat here at our house, and I’m very excited. We’re meeting Friday afternoon in Heber for lunch, and then we’re going to John’s office to try on designer frames and give each other advice. We might shop at the boutiques in Midway, and then we’re coming here for snacks and movies. Saturday morning will be more of the same. We have so much fun talking, it almost doesn’t matter what we do. Except for where we’re going to eat. That’s always a big deal.
           I hope you’re all having as much fun as we are! Love, Mom

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Dear Kids,
          Dad and I have really been enjoying the conference sessions this time around, but we’ve missed seeing President Monson. John was talking about that last night; he said, "Something missing! Oh, yeah, the prophet!" You would think, with so many wonderful speakers and so much wisdom, you wouldn’t miss one person so much. It’s nice to know the Lord is guiding the Church, though, and it will always be in good hands.
          Our soup dinner last night was wild and crazy. I cooked a record amount of ramen–10 packs, I think. It was fun having so many of you here. Too bad it was so cold and rainy, and we couldn’t have spent more time outside. I wanted to make a fire in the fire pit, and make s’mores, in the dark. I was even hoping to set off some more of my fireworks, left over from the Fourth of July. But we still had lots of fun inside. The howling wolf skeleton I bought at Home Depot was the biggest hit of all. It’s practially life sized, and when you clap your hands or bang dishes, it’s jaws clatter, it’s red eyes flash, and it howls. Different grownups kept shutting it off, and different kids kept turning it back on. I bought it for Halloween night, but I didn’t dream the grandkids could have such a great time with it right now, in our living room. Needless to say, Tina hates it.
           Speaking of Tina, she’s been courting death, taunting the Siberian Husky next door. It’s bad enough when she stays on our side of the fence, and rolls in the dirt in front of him, but a couple of days ago, she went right into his yard (crawling under the gate) and tried to stare him down. Naturally he jumped at her and chased her out. She barely made it back under the gate in time. Her tail was puffed into a giant plume, and her eyes were wild, but I’m not sure she learned her lesson. We can only hope she comes to her senses before it’s too late.
          In spite of our rainy and snowy weather, I’m still out digging in the yard, practically every day. I’ve pulled giant rocks out of the ground, which Dad hauls out to the street, and people pick up. I’ve been digging sprinkler trenches, and gluing pvc pipe. I’ve been spreading more rubber bark in the playground. (You can get it at Home Depot, now!) I plan to have as much fun outside as possible, before winter really hits.
           Life is good here! I love you all! Mom

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Dear Kids,
          Conference is coming up next weekend! It’s funny how things have changed over the years–the cabin used to always be our conference refuge, partly because of the beautiful location, and partly because it had our biggest TV screen–32". But now we have a 75" in our basement, where the conference speakers will truly be bigger than life. And we have a 55" screen upstairs. And plenty of seating. So if anybody wants to watch conference here at our house, with us, you’re welcome. If you want to go to the cabin, of course you’ll be welcome there, too. For Saturday night, I’m planning my usual soup and bread dinner here at 5 pm. Any of the guys who want to go to the priesthood session with Dad can do that. Afterwards, we’ll have ice cream and toppings, and if it’s warm enough, we might have a fire out in the fire pit, and make smores. If you want to sleep over here or at the cabin, you can do that. Sunday at noon, between the sessions, we’ll have our usual Sunday dinner at the cabin. I heard a rumor that Tom will be making dutch oven. Be there, or lose out totally!
           Glenn and Jana McGettigan came to visit us yesterday, and we had a lot of fun, talking over our lives, and going to lunch at High Mountain Drug. (Still the best burgers in Utah, in my opinion.) We bought a cheesecake on our way home, and ate it while we played games and watched a movie. They didn’t stay over and go to church with us, like they usually do, because Jana is choir director in their new ward. But we still had plenty of fun. Nora and some of her kids came by, too! I love having people here! When we moved here, I thought we were going to the ends of the earth, and nobody would ever find us. But look at us now!
          Our new little cat, Solar Eclipse, never came back, and we’ll never know what happened to him. John said there was a great horned owl in Heber that was carrying off chickens and small cats, and maybe that happened to Solar. It was just at dusk when he disappeared, prime hunting time. I know he was orange, and might have been deficient when he grew up, but he was so cute, and he purred all the time! It’s hard to get over losing him.
          We’ve had two snow storms, but winter isn’t really coming. We need to have a long, warm fall, like last year. I’m hoping for a reprieve.
           Lots of love, Mom

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Dear Kids,
          I’m sorry to report that our new little cat, Solar Eclipse, has disappeared. It was last Saturday night, while Dad and I were gone to the adult session of stake conference. Solar had been playing in the yard with Tina. (Yes, they had become friends. They raced and chased together.) I should have put him in the garage when we left, but he’d been here for nearly three weeks, and I assumed he’d be OK. When we got home, he was gone. It was a nice evening, and a lot of people were out walking, so maybe he followed somebody. He was so friendly, he would run up to anybody! They might have assumed he was a stray. Or maybe he got homesick and set out for Idaho. The worst would have been if he was run over and somebody disposed of the body and didn’t tell us. We’ll never know. It’s heartbreaking to lose a cat. Tina is very smug now, and happy to have us all to herself.
          We might be having an early winter this year. We had a generous rainstorm on Friday, and it’s 35 degrees this morning. It’s supposed to be down in 20's this coming week. Naturally I’m wishing it will stay warm longer, like last year–I was still raking rocks in the yard in November, while Dad was gone to Hawaii with Allen. I did a whole dry creek bed while they were gone. I wish we could have a long warm fall again this year, but it’s cooling off pretty fast.
          When I say my prayers at night, I always ask the Lord’s help for all our grandchildren in school. I mention Julie especially now, since she’s in college. Then I realized that Sharon is back in school, for a nursing degree, and James too–he’s getting his masters degree from Georgia Tech Online. So I mention them, too. Is anybody else in any special program? I never could have made it through college without the help of the Lord, and I assume everybody else needs it too.
           I’ve bailed out of Francis 2nd ward (again) and I’m back in the Spanish Branch (again.) I love it there. On any given Sunday, you never know what you’re going to do–they ask you when you walk in. Last Sunday I led the music in Sacrament meeting. Today I might be doing something else. I don’t have any official calling yet. But I always look forward to going. You really feel the Spirit there.
           I love you all! Mom

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Dear Kids,
          Thursday night Dad and I met Allen and Carson at the Centerpoint Theater to watch Ellie in "Seussical." She was one of the tigers in the Jungle of Nool. We really enjoyed the production! I always love watching our grandkids in their musicals!
          After the production, we stayed over at Nora’s house. We always sleep on their living room floor, on our camping mats. I know the basement will be finished one of these days, and there will be a guest suite down there, but in the meantime we really like the living room. In the morning, while it’s still dark, you can see the lights of all the cars down on the interstate, and the Frontrunner, going into Salt Lake. Where we live, nobody’s going much of anywhere in the morning. Such a difference!
           Later in the morning, after most of the kids had left for school, and Nora was giving Dad a haircut, McKay and I walked up the switchback trail hunting for "spiders." (They’re actually black beetles.) McKay carried a jar and I had a big spoon to scoop them up with. We got six of them, of all sizes. McKay was fascinated watching them "fight." Nora wasn’t as impressed, and screwed the lid down tight on the jar. She said they had plenty of air to last them all day.
          Our Toyota Sienna has been suffering for almost three years with a dent I put in the front fender (a metal dumpster I misjudged), plus a large rusted spot and some flaking paint on the bumper. We asked around here about body shops, and everybody recommended Mick Clegg in Marion. His shop blends into the scenery–grassy pastureland, lots of cows, pine trees–not your usual West Valley body shop. He did a fabulous job on our car, and he only charged us $600, and it took less than two days. We definitely recommend this guy!
          For the last 32 years I’ve always been in charge of my mission reunion, every October. This year, the guy who said he would host it was out of the country, and another guy I called sounded so tired and used-up that I didn’t want to bother him. I made a list of everybody who has ever hosted our reunions. Two of them have died, two have recently lost their wives, and one has dementia. Of the people who are still OK, most of them are on missions, or serving as mission presidents or temple presidents. Finally I sent out a letter to everybody saying maybe it was time to say "we had a good run" and let it go. I’ve had lots of responses. Everybody wants to keep our reunions going, but nobody volunteered to take over my job. One guy, just leaving on a mission to Latvia, said he would host a big final 50-year reunion when he gets home. So we all have that to look forward to now, but I won’t have the stress and fun of doing it every year.
          Life is good. I love you all. Mom

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Dear Kids,
          I was sorry to miss the farewell party for Sharon that you guys had at Nora’s on Sunday night, but I was completely partied out. Besides our family reunion, and the wonderful trip to Idaho for the eclipse, and having Sharon’s family here, we’d also just had a party with our former Sunday night study group. Mark and Laura Ulrich are back home from Manchester, England, where he was the mission president for three years, so we got together at Spencers’ house for a dinner. All of our old group came, including Herb and Amy Rasemussen. They’re both past 90 now! Mark and Laura had lots to tell us, and of course they were great mission parents! We talked until nearly midnight. We hadn’t seen any of our old study group for more than three years, and we decided we need to have a party together at least once a year now. I volunteered our house for next summer. That means I absolutely have to get the yard finished. I’m glad to have a goal.
          We’ve had a cardboard prototype of a 75" TV on our basement wall for more than a year now, but now we finally have the real thing! John picked it up at Costco last week. We also needed his help installing it, because it weighs 91 pounds. Now it’s up and running. If anybody wants to come and watch Zorro tonight, you can see it on a really big screen. Or you can bring a blu ray disc of a movie you like, if you’ve got one. The TV is ultra HD, 4k, all that technology, so it’s capable of a really great picture. I’m sure we’ll have lots of good movie nights now.
          Last night Dad and I drove to West Valley for Adam Fulton’s wedding reception, and we stopped on the way at O’Reilley auto parts. When we came back out to our car, a man was sitting in it! He had locked himself in. (For just once, we’d left the car unlocked.) There was a good Samaritan on his phone trying to get the police, because the man was disoriented and had been acting crazy. Finally the good Samaritan coaxed the crazy guy out of our car, and led him away. It struck me, what I miss about West Valley–the crazies! Everybody in Kamas Valley is so normal! We went on to the wedding reception and had a great time there. So many old friends! I couldn’t count them all.
        The fun goes on! Lots of love, Mom

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Dear Kids,
          The eclipse was everything I hoped it would be. Dad and I ended up camping at Craig and Rachel’s, a little west of Idaho Falls in a beautiful rural area. We found the house OK, and heard kids yelling in the back yard. Macie was driving a riding lawn mower, pulling a wagon. Craig was barbecuing, and told us to grab a plate. Kids were swimming in a big pool, jumping on two trampolines, and running around. Somebody else was driving a 4 wheeler. There’s a shooting range and a grove of at least 100 tall pines, because the place was once a tree farm, where they never sold the trees. There are chickens and a sheep and a fat mama cat and kittens. (Not hers.) There’s a canal out back. What a place!
          We pitched our tent in a grassy area, with Vanessa’s and Nora’s families, and lots of other friends and relatives. We ate and talked to people, and when it got dark, Dad and I went for a long walk along the canal. It would have been a great party, even without the eclipse. I had worried it would suddenly get cloudy Monday morning, but it was beautiful and clear. We got very excited for the eclipse, which came on slowly. We were all ready with our glasses, and we stared at the sun, as the moon cut its black circle into it. It got darker and colder. At the last minute, I was worried that NASA was wrong, and we were too far south for totality, but suddenly there it was: dark sky, stars, and a beautiful corona around the black sun. We yelled and cheered. I’ve never seen anything like it, and it won’t happen again in my lifetime.
          Our car was already packed for the trip home, and Dad had parked it on the street, headed south. As soon as totality was over, we jumped in and took off. I was glad we did. We got onto the interstate OK, and it was slow and go at each onramp, but in between we sped along. Behind us, the traffic got thicker and thicker, and then slowed almost to a stop. Nora said it took her four hours to go the 45 miles from Idaho Falls to Pocatello.
          And our new cat, Solar Eclipse Ackerson, was traveling with us. He was one of the four kittens at Craig and Rachel’s. (Vanessa has one of the others.) He’s orange, lively, and very sweet. He purrs. He’s growing about an inch a day, and his back legs are probably growing two inches. Tina hates him, and screeches deadly yowls at him, but he doesn’t pay any attention to her.
           Now the parties are over. Sharon’s family packed up yesterday morning and moved their operations to Nora’s house. They’re flying out tomorrow. We’ve had a wonderful time with them. Now it’s back to real life.
          But real life is good. I love you all. Mom

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Dear Kids,
          Dad and I won’t be home tonight. We’ll be somewhere in Idaho, hopefully at Craig and Rachel’s in Idaho Falls, and hopefully not stuck on the interstate in a gigantic traffic jam, like the news media is gleefully predicting. We’re leaving home right after church, and I think that will give us plenty of time. Vanessa’s and Nora’s families will be camping at Craig and Rachel’s too, and probably lots of Suttons. Idaho Falls is in the "path of totality," but not in the center of it. Still, there’s supposed to be more than a minute of "totality." Hopefully there won’t be any clouds blocking the eclipse. The forecast keeps changing from sunny to partly cloudy and then back to sunny again.
            As you can see, I’m plenty excited about the eclipse. I’ve dreamed about it the last two nights. But surprisingly, people I talk to are very nonchalant. They’re not going because of the crowds, or because they don’t have anyone to stay with, or just because. But I figure Idaho is big enough for anybody who wants to be there. The really cool thing is that it will be President Monson’s 90th birthday. Maybe a comet will come by and swoop him off. Maybe it will even be the second coming. What better time, because everybody will already be looking up into the sky!
          Sharon and her kids are here at our house now, it’s one nonstop party. She keeps telling her kids the fun is over now, but people keep planning things. Yesterday it was Donna cooking buffalo burgers at the cabin, with Mandy and Eddie and their kids. Tonight, I think there’s going to be a sleepover at our house while we’re gone. The parties will probably continue nonstop until Sharon’s family flies home, on the 28th, I think. But it’s really fun having them here.
          One person isn’t enjoying Sharon’s family, though. That’s Tina. She’s making herself very scarce. It’s funny, because a couple of days ago she faced down four magpies, and after that, the neighbor’s dog, a Siberian husky. The dog was inside his fence, but she still touched noses with him and hissed. All that–but she doesn’t have the courage to face down four children, because three of them are boys.
           Hoping you’re all doin’ great and lovin’ it! Mom

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Dear Kids,
          The reunion was fabulous! Thanks to all of you for all your preparations, and for your wonderful meals! Thanks especially to John, for planning it so well! I think the highlight was the go-cart track, followed closely by the rope swing at Bloomington Lake. So many of you were so gutsy, swinging out over those rocks and dropping into that ice-cold lake! Where do you all get it from? (Not Dad and me. We enjoyed all our fun from the sidelines.) 
          Bear Lake itself was wonderful too. It's never been higher, when we've been there.  We couldn’t have had better weather at the beach! I hope you all can get the sand out of your kids, eventually!
          And now back to real life. Oh, yeah, the eclipse is a week from tomorrow. Donna and Sharon are taking their kids to Vanessa’s house the night before, I think, and then driving into the zone early Monday morning. Nora and Vanessa’s families will be camping at Craig and Rachel’s house in Idaho Falls. I’m still not sure what Dad and I will be doing. I want to be as close to the center of the zone as possible. John still has a few eclipse glasses, but they’re going fast.
          Our cat Tina had a luxurious time while we were gone. I’d accidentally left the door ajar between the mud room and the garage, so she had the run of the house. One of my fake trees had a couple of branches torn out, and the stuffed black bear on our bed had been savaged. She wasn’t at all glad to see us when we got home. She walked away from me and switched her tail in contempt.
          I can’t think of any news. It all happened already. There isn’t a single thing on our calendar for the coming week! I guess I’ll go back to raking rocks.
          Lots of love, Mom

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Dear Kids,
          Wasn’t that fun yesterday, helping Paul and Stefanie move? What a riotous after-party, celebrating Josh’s second birthday! Thanks, Paul and Stefanie, for the good food and the fun! I think they’ll be really happy with that nice big house, (four bedrooms!) and yard. By the way, Paul said that the amortization schedule for his 30-year mortgage showed that the last payment would be made on August 1, 2047–my 100th birthday! What a party we can have that day!
          And then there’s the excitement for our family reunion this week! You can refer to John’s schedule (posted here on my blog) or contact him if you have any more questions. It will be nonstop fun. Thanks, John, for planning this. Our reunions keep getting better and better.
            Friday night Dad and I went to the Snow Park amphitheater at Deer Valley for the 1812 Overture (played by the Utah Symphony) with real cannons going off at the end. It was spectacular! Thanks to those of you who went in on the tickets for my Mothers Day present! We had reserved seats, a new luxury for us. (A couple of times before, we’ve sat on the grass with the "wine and cheese" crowd.) Actually, there was quite a bit of wine and cheese around us, including the guy next to me who drank a whole bottle during the performance. He evidently wasn’t expecting the cannons to go off at the end, because he leaped up out of his seat when they started to fire. That was the best part of the program! The guys who fire off the cannons used to dress like mountain men, but now they wear George Washington costumes. It’s all great fun!
           We’re gearing up for the eclipse two weeks from tomorrow. Dad and I are definitely going to Idaho, but I’m not sure where. Nobody knows how many people will be up there. I talked to Stefanie’s friend Anne’s husband yesterday, because they live in Rexburg, which is in the absolute center of the eclipse path. He said they have their eclipse glasses and their food storage. (For all anybody knows, there might be a million visitors, and they might buy up all the food in the stores.) I bought a 10-pack of eclipse glasses from Amazon, but John has plenty for sale in his office, for $1.00 each. I was reading a little booklet in Lowes, and it said that only one person in 1,000 has ever seen a total eclipse of the sun. It should be spectacular.
           On with the show!  Love, Mom

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Dear Kids,

          First off, here’s the agenda for the family reunion, courtesy of John.

Tom: Thursday Breakfast

Donna: Thursday Lunch

Nora: Thursday Dinner

Paul & Stephanie: Friday Breakfast

Vanessa: Friday Lunch

John: Friday Dinner

Sharon: Saturday Breakfast

Allen: Saturday Lunch at lake

Mom & Dad: Paper plates, utensils, and firewood

WEDNESDAY EVENING is dinner on your own and set up camp when you arrive after 3:00pm.

Beach all day THURSDAY with boat, kayaks, and jet skis. We have a 20' Ski Boat rented from 10:00-6:00. Lunch at the beach

FRIDAY we have a go cart track rented from 9-10 AM. Friday morning after go carts we will drive from the Go Cart track to Paris! We will explore the Paris ice cave. Lake Trail. Friday Afternoon we will hike to Bloomington lake and play on rope swing into lake.

FRIDAY or SATURDAY morning, early bike ride. At 5:00 AM, the cyclists will leave on their bike ride with crew van.

SATURDAY MORNING, Breakfast and then take down camp. Beach with Kayaks and Jet skis, and lunch at the beach. End of official reunion after lunch. Stay at beach as long as you want.

* * * * *

          Thanks, John, for planning this! I can’t wait. I’m sure we’ll have good food, great adventures, and lots of good memories.
          Meanwhile, Dad and I have had lots of great adventures. I didn’t write my family letter last Sunday because we were camping at Bryce Canyon with Donna and Bevan and their kids. We saw lots of gorgeous scenery, ate lots of good food (courtesy of Donna) and went on some great hikes. Sunday morning we went to church in Tropic, where there were probably 1,000 people in sacrament meeting. We went to Kodachrome Basin and hiked to Mossy Cave. It was all fabulous.
          We got home Monday in time to get ready for our fire pit party. Thanks to all of you who came! Thanks for encouraging me to set off the aerials. I have more to bring to Bear Lake.
          Tuesday we went to lunch with Bill Steele and his wife, who were also at the party Monday night. (Tom said, "There really IS a Bill Steele!) Dad and Bill talked nonstop about old times, and I learned a lot.
          The rest of our week has been wild and crazy. Charlie and Matthew are here now, but they’re leaving this evening for Upalco. We’ve had a great time with them.
          On with the fun! Lots of love, Mom

P.S. Here’s John’s list of the numbers of people for meals. There are 45 people in all:
Dad & Mom 2     Adults
John 6     3 Adults 3 Kids
Nora 8     2 Adults 4 Kids 1 Little
Vanessa 7      2 Adults 4 Kids 1 Little
Tom 8      2 Adults 3 Kids 2 Little
Allen 3     1 Adults 2 Kids
Donna 5    2 Adults. 1 kid 2 Little
Sharon 6     2 Adults 3 Kids 1 Little
Paul 3    2 Adults  1 Little

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Dear Kids,
          The big news of the week is that Donna had her ultrasound on Monday, and she’s having (roll of drums) . . . a boy. Is anybody surprised? I knew. That will make nine boys in a row. 11 out of 12, if you start counting after Lucy. Of the 34 grandchildren we’ll have, the score will be 14 to 20, in favor of the boys. We love all these wonderful grandsons, but if anybody is ordering new babies, could you please put in for some girls? Actually, though, we’re thrilled to have so many grandchildren, and if they were all boys, I’d still be thrilled.
          Dad and I have had a wonderful and wild week. On Monday we tended Paige, Stuart, Isaac, and Anna. Paige practiced on my accordion, like she always does when she’s here. She’s making good progress. (Nora’s been looking to buy her an accordion, but they’re practically collectors’ items now.) The other kids played on the playground, watched movies, and got out toys. When my piano students came at three, we had eight kids in the house, but they all interacted very nicely with each other.
          Tuesday afternoon we drove to Pocatello, because Vanessa’s book club was reviewing Mutiny on the Bounty that night, and I wanted to be there. (I’ve been obsessed with the Bounty books.) We stayed overnight, even though Vanessa and Trent and Sterling were leaving at 4 the next morning for Trek. (Tom and Bentley and Emma were leaving that same morning, too. And Nora was gone to girls’ camp, and James to scout camp. So many of you were off having fun!)
          Thursday night Dad and I went to "Annie Get Your Gun" in Midway. Thanks to all of you who went in on the tickets, for Dad’s Fathers Day present. It was a wonderful production! (Last year it was Wizard of Oz.) We always love getting tickets for presents. In a couple of weeks we’ll be going to the 1812 Overture, at Snowbird. You kids keep us entertained!
          The family reunion is coming up in less than three weeks. I’m guessing John will be sending out the agenda pretty soon. I’ll ask him about it today.
          Life is good. We’ll never run out of fun.
          Lots of love, Mom

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Dear Kids,
          Our fire pit party for the 4th of July bombed, because practically everybody was going to be someplace else. No matter–we’ve moved it to the 24th, which is a Monday night. If you can come, we’ll have fun. If you can’t, that’s OK too. Actually, our fire pit doesn’t need an official launch. It’s ready any time. I have roasting sticks, and I’m going to start keeping marshmallows on hand (but not the chocolate-spread graham crackers, because we just eat them up), and we can have a flash party on a minute’s notice.
            Meanwhile, our actual 4th of July wasn’t a bomb at all. We went to Nora’s. I took all the fireworks, thinking we could shoot them off, and I’d buy more for the 24th. But just as it was getting dark, the wind started blowing furiously. It even blew out the snakes the kids were trying to light. I figured we couldn’t possibly shoot off our expensive fireworks in that wind. I went around to the back of the house to see if the wind was calmer there, and it was. So we moved the action. And as it got darker, people down in the valley started shooting off their fireworks. There were hundreds of aerials going off at the same time, and some big park displays. You could have called it "Valley of Fire." I’ve never seen anything like it. Remember when we used to sit on Tate’s lawn and watch the few paltry fireworks from the West Fest? This was a thousand times more spectacular. There’s a whole new era of fireworks now, since everybody can afford aerials. The 4th of July will never be the same again. Everybody can put on their own show. And I’ve still got my own packages for the 24th.
          We’re still gearing up for the eclipse on August 21. Dad and I will definitely be going to Idaho. And Sharon pointed out that August 21st is President Monson’s 90th birthday. Maybe he’ll grab onto the tail of a comet and go out in glory. Oh, wait, it won’t be a comet. I was thinking of Mark Twain, who was born at the appearance of Halley’s comet, and left this earth the next time it came around, 90 years later. We’re not anxious for President Monson to depart, but it will be glorious for him. He’s sure been a great example to us all.
           So much fun! What a great summer we’re having!
           Lots of love, Mom

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Dear Kids,
          Our fire pit is finished, and we tried it out last night, burning up a few pieces of wood. It works fine! So we’re ready for the Fourth of July. We bought fireworks at Costco with John–we went in on a deluxe $100 package, with the aerials that go off one after another, when you light the fuse. So Dad and I will be hosting a hotdog and marshmallow roasting party Tuesday night, probably starting about seven, since it doesn’t get dark enough for fireworks until pretty late. Let us know if you plan to come! You can bring your own fireworks if you have them. You can come way earlier, if you like, and your kids can play on the playground. We fastened down the legs of the swingsets lots better than before, so they can’t shift around when the kids swing high. We’re ready for fun!
          What else? Ellie stayed with us from Wednesday night until yesterday, and we had a good time with her. We ate vegetarian, and we liked it. We dragged her along with us to the senior center on Thursday, and to the temple on Friday. She sewed and wrote in her various notebooks and watched "Once Upon a Time." I asked her if it wasn’t pretty boring here, and she said no, it was relaxing.
           I’m still digging up rocks in our back yard. I spray them off with the hose, and then Dad hauls them out to the side of the road, where he piles them up. People still come by to get them. One of them is our stake president, Mark Durham. He likes to chat. I told him that a ton of "Jordan cobble" (the name for our rocks) costs $100 at Staker Parsons. He wondered how many rocks were in a ton, and I told him it was about the size of the pile he was looking at. He’s an investment banker, so he’s interested in things like that. I figure we’ve given away thousands of dollars worth of rocks in the last three years. And I still have thousands more to dig. Good thing I like it so much!
           We hope to see a lot of you here Tuesday night, to try out the fire pit and shoot off fireworks. If anybody has time earlier in the day, do you want to do the "top of the world" hike? The wildflowers should be beautiful up there! Let me know!
          Lots of love, Mom

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Dear Kids,
         The party for Blake’s baby blessing started last night, here at our house, with the arrival of Paul’s family from North Salt Lake, and Vanessa’s family from Pocatello. We had fun out on the playground, while the sun set. Our rubber bark is doing great. There was a furious windstorm three or four days ago, the strongest one we’ve ever had here. (It was like a hurricane--the trees bent almost double in one direction, then about half an hour of calm, and then the wind came from the other direction, just as hard.) Bottom line: our rubber bark didn’t blow away--not a piece of it. Our pergolas were shaking back and forth, and our trees nearly snapped, but the bark stayed put.
          Oh, yes, back to the baby blessing: 9 am, Tom’s church, just east of Smiths and JR Smith elementary, on 5th north. The after party is at noon, at Tom’s house. We’re looking forward to seeing all of you who will be coming, and we’ll miss those of you who can’t be there.
          Here’s some big news: Paul landed a new job, and it’s something he’ll really enjoy–transportation. He’ll be working for Forsgren Engineering, and their office is right in downtown Salt Lake. He starts tomorrow morning. Go, Paul! He actually had two job offers at the same time, and they were both so good that he and Stefanie had to talk over the pros and cons of each one, and lay out all the details. I’m sure they’ve made the best decision!
            Remember the good old days, when smoke detectors went off with a nice beeping that annoyed the heck out of you, but that was all? We didn’t realize we had the new kind until Wednesday night. We were sound asleep when a voice started shrieking "Fire! Fire! Get out! Get out!" The alarm itself was shrieking, too. It was all over our house, since all seven smoke detectors were going off. (They’re interconnected.) We raced around the house looking for a fire, which we didn’t find. The alarms finally stopped, but I called 911 for the fire department anyway, since you hear stories of people who went back to bed and were burned up by a real fire. The nice fire department guys showed up about half an hour later. (Summit County, after all.) They went through the house and checked out everything, even testing for carbon monixide. Nothing. We finally went back to bed, but we didn’t sleep, because adrenalin was racing through us. We never found anything wrong with the smoke detectors, not even low batteries. I hope that never happens to us again.
          Otherwise, everything is great here. I love you all! Mom

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Dear Kids,
          First things first: Blake’s baby blessing will be next Sunday morning at Tom’s church, which is just east of J.R. Smith Elementary, which is just past Smiths, on 5th North in Heber. Sacrament meeting is at 9 am. The after-party will be after the block, at noon, at Tom’s house, but if you want to ditch the other meetings, you can go to Tom’s house early. For food assignments, call Kim.
          We’re still having odd weather. It snowed on Monday, but it didn’t stick. Since then, the wind has been blowing furiously. Dad and I have been furiously spreading our very expensive rock over the little bit of bark that is left in our yard. It’s very satisfying to rake it into place, and know it won’t go anywhere. We’re also moving ahead with the fire pit. I put down all the pavers for the patio, and now I’m ready to put the polymer sand into the joints. When you spray it with water, it hardens up and keeps the bricks in place. Hopefully they won’t go anywhere, either. And thirdly, we got some rubber mulch for our playground. It looks like bark, but it’s made of ground up tires, dyed brown. It’s not supposed to blow away, either, but I have my doubts. We had a great adventure, getting that mulch. We were able to save $150 on delivery if we picked it up ourselves in Ogden, so we borrowed the family truck and drove up there. The mulch (50 bags of it) was packed on a giant pallet, designed to be put onto flatbeds. We unpacked it and stacked the bags in the back of the truck, and put the cargo net over it all. It weighed a ton, which is exactly the load limit of the truck. We got it all home OK. Donna’s kids helped us spread it, and Bevan, too. Thanks to all of you!
           On Monday morning, August 21 there will be a "To-tal E-clipse of the Sun" (the song from Little Shop of Horrors is running through my mind), and the center of the blackout strip runs right through Rexburg. (You can google it and find a map of the eclipse path.) Dad and I are going to be there. When else, in your life, are you going to see a total eclipse? We’ll drive up to Pocatello Sunday night and stay over at Vanessa and Trent’s, if they can accommodate us, and then drive to Rexburg Monday morning. Shall we make a big party of it? It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity!
           So much going on! So much fun!
           Love, Mom

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Dear Kids,
          Thanks to Allen and Tom for the churro party last Sunday night at the cabin! It was a blast. Thanks to Tom’s new churro maker for cranking out miles of dough! Thanks to the camp chef for keeping all that oil hot! Thanks to all of you who came. There’s nothing more wonderful than romping around outside the cabin on a pleasant summer evening.
            The wind has blown away practically all the bark I’ve spread around our trees and shrubs (not to mention the 34 tons of playground sand from two years ago) so I started looking for something more permanent–rock! When we stayed over at Nora’s last week, we looked at all the beautiful colors of rock at the Staker Parsons pit in North Salt Lake. It costs a fortune, but it doesn’t blow away. With Donna’s help, we ordered 27 tons of "purple passion." It came in a giant dump truck with a trailer (a pup), which blocked off our road while the rock was dumped. Now Dad and I are spreading it, using two wheelbarrows and every ounce of energy we have. Dad’s fitbit is going crazy. It told him he walked 17,800 feet yesterday, but it couldn’t possibly measure the workout to his arms and shoulders. Should people who are 70 do such crazy things?
          Yes, and more. We’re also working on the fire pit, to have it ready for the Fourth of July. I excavated for the patio around it, 8 inches down, and we mostly filled it with road base, which is a lot cheaper than "purple passion." We rented a compactor from Diamond Rental and Dad ran it around and around, tamping it down. Now we’re ready to put down the sand and pavers for the patio, and then put the fire pit on top. We won’t run out of work any time soon–only energy. Tina supervises us. She doesn’t use any energy at all.
          Allen finally heard from the Summit County Sherrif’s office, and they didn’t offer him job. It was my dream for him to work here! But I know how much the officers in Centerville value their sergeant, and it’s probably better for Allen to stay there. Allen said he’s at peace with it.
           Don’t forget the baby blessing in two weeks! More info next week!
           Love, Mom

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Dear Kids,
          Allen and Carson showed up on our porch last night, with two goats. The four of them were on a cross-country run. The goats hadn’t been invited; they joined up when Al and Carson passed the Bushell’s home, where you turn in to go to the cabin. The goats were bleating and jumping around on our porch, and trying to butt their way into our house. Allen said they all needed water, so he and Carson got drinks inside, and we put out a bowl of water for the goats, which they guzzled. Then the four of them took off again.
          The gouge on my hand (from Tina) is slowly healing. It’s infected, in spite of all I could do. Lana Price, a lady in my piano class, told me how to trim Tina’s back claws. She said you put a pillowcase over the cat’s head, wrap it totally around the cat, and hold it secure. Another person (Dad) pulls out the legs, one at a time, and trims the claws. I’m happy to say it worked–better than we expected. I thought Tina would be mad at us forever, but she’s proud of her well-groomed toes.
           Dad and I went to Allen’s piano recital Tuesday night in Bountiful. He played very well! It was a treat to hear him. The rest of the students were less than stellar, probably because they don’t practice. His teacher seems really competent, and she plays really well, so it isn’t her fault, except for keeping such deadbeats on her roster. We enjoyed the program anyway, and then we stayed overnight at Nora’s. In the morning I hiked up the switchbacks. Thanks, Nora, for your hospitality!
           Dad is really enjoying the fitbit we gave him for his birthday. He’s always consulting it. On Sunday, during church, it sent him a message: get moving!
           Don’t forget Blake’s baby blessing on the 25th! Tom and Kim’s sacrament meeting is at 9 am, and I’ll write more information in a week or two.
           Lots of love, Mom

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Dear Kids,
          What a great party we had for Dad and Dallin yesterday afternoon! May 27th has always been one of my favorite days of the year, because it was Grandma Allen’s birthday. When I met Dad and found out he had the same birthday, I knew we were destined for each other. And then, when Dallin was born on the same day, I knew he had a lot going for him. Back to the party--both of the birthday boys seemed excited about their new toys. Dallin took his new fire engine out to the playground and put it in the baby seat swing and pushed it like a baby. (Donna showed me a photo where his Bruder dump truck was a guest at the tea party he and Anna were hosting.) Dad had fun figuring out his fit bit, with John and Tom helping. He finally took it to Food Town (where there’s high speed internet) to download its software. Thanks to all of you who helped pay for it.
           Our Memorial Day barbecue will be tomorrow at noon at the cabin. Thanks to Allen, in advance, for being in charge! If you want to help with the food, and you don’t have an assignment yet, call him! We’re looking forward to a wonderful time.
          Last Monday, Allen and I went hiking along the beautiful Jordanelle Perimeter Trail. It’s ten miles from Rock Creek out to the point and back–just long enough to be invigorated but not exhausted. We had beautiful weather, and the scenery along that route is always gorgeous: green junipers, blue lake, white clouds–what could be better? It’s my favorite terrain in the whole world. We walked fast and talked faster. And we passed at least four deer carcasses, all of them small ones. It must have been a hard winter for them.
          I got two new front teeth on Wednesday, and they’re lots whiter than my old ones. Dr. Condie thought I should choose a darker color, but who wants to pay thousands of dollars for yellow teeth? Not me. Eventually all my front teeth will be crowns, and I want them white. It was rough getting them in, though, since they had to knock out my temporary ones with a little hammer. Plus I had three fillings. That same day, I pulled a tick off my arm, swollen with my blood, and Tina gouged out a new hole on the back of my hand, with her lethal claws. It wasn’t my favorite day ever.
          But life is good. I love you all! Mom

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Dear Kids,
         I’m excited for the two parties this coming weekend. Saturday, the 27th, is the birthday party for Dad and Dallin, at our house, at 3 pm. We’ll have sloppy jo’s and potato chips and cake and ice cream, and presents, of course. If you want to go in on the present for Dad, contact me. You can pay any amount, and I’ll put your name on the card. It’s something he’ll really like! The party itself can go on into the evening. Our weather is finally beautiful! (We’ve forgotten all about the snow last Wednesday–Tom’s birthday! He’s never had snow on his birthday before.)
           Then, Monday at high noon is the barbecue at the cabin, which Al is in charge of. He’s providing the meat for chicken and burgers. Tom is doing dutch oven potatoes and I’m bringing cookies. If you want to help with the food, contact Al. It should be really fun. Memorial Day is always the birthday of our cabin–remember when you all helped us move in? That was 16 years ago!
         Blake’s baby blessing will be June 25, which is also coming up fast! We’ll have more details when it gets closer.
          Thursday night Dad and I got to see Adelaide perform in "Anything Goes" at Centerpoint Theater. What a production! We could hardly believe the kids were only in junior high. And the music is very catchy--it makes you want to tap dance. Nora’s name was on the program, because she helped paint the scenery. It was a great evening.
          Friday night I had a retreat with my sisters at Bonnie’s house, where we slept over. Saturday morning I walked all the way around the golf course. And we admired the 64 T-bird in Bonnie’s garage. Curt collects cars now! (There was a Mustang in there, too!) Later in the morning we checked out Barbara's new apartment in Lindon, and then we drove to Salt Lake to shop and visit the pioneer village at "This is the Place." And gossip, of course. I can hardly remember all the news tidbits. Our reunion was so much fun, we decided to do it twice a year now.  I'm going to host the next one, in October.
           Life is wonderful with so much family, in both directions.
           Love, Mom