Tuesday, April 15, 2014


Dear Family,

April is a big month for birthdays in our family; we have 19.  So there are birthday parties galore.

Of course, one of the big ones is Opa's on April 11th.  We had a celebration with those who were still in town and not off on a spring school break,  Mike, Cheryl and Paul, Suz and Scott, Cathy and Pete came over for the celebration.

As you can see, we brought in Lobsters for the occasion.  I think New England Lobster is a heavenly food and my absolute favorite.  We have always celebrated with this wonderful product of the sea.  We had Harmon's order them in and they were alive and fresh and not too expensive compared to flying them in from Lobster Guy.

Before cooking the lobsters, I always like to chase any kid in the house  trying to get them to have the lobster take a little walk on their backs. They all run faster than I can now.

Here is Timmy in a bit of a shock as he checks out the live lobster.  I have to wear my Mission apron and of course the chef's hat.  Natalie, (now Sister Hickey), remembered I offered to give her a dollar if she would hold a live lobster when we lived in Michigan.

Cheryl and Mom had the salmon and the rest had lobster and there were so many cooing and "immmmm" sounds around the table.  Everyone had such a good time and there was abundant joy on this occasion.

Suz made the best Mexican cake.. can't think of the name but it is Mexican. Not scrap of it left.  I celebrated 13 years since my open heart surgery with aortic valve replacement and coronary artery bypass grafting done on my birthday in 2001.  Birthdays are lucky days and I planned it that way.

 At this time I am grateful for life and the extension of life.  It has been such a blessing to see the grandkids grow up and blossom. I also appreciated the almost 80 "Happy Birthdays" on Facebook. That was a surprise. I feel enormously grateful and blessed.

Love to you all,


Sunday, April 6, 2014


Dear Family,

General Conference has been great.  I always wonder how they knew I needed to hear what was taught.

We went to the General priesthood meeting in our Stake House.  John came up as did Mike and Doug. Here we are before our post Priesthood Meeting barbecue.  Here are Mike, Nate, Spence, Michael, with Joseph, John, Opa and Doug behind. Fewer numbers this time as Jake and Douglas are on their missions.  The kids all take notes during Priesthood Meeting and are quizzed during our dinner.

I smoked three racks of ribs for the occasion and here are Michael, Spence, Doug, and Nate with a pile of ribs.  The boys were anxious to get to the review before they forgot.  They all did well and could summarize all talks.  It is hard to pick out one talk from another but I thought the talk by Elder Oaks was especially note worthy discussing a tricky question.  This talk need to be studied.

The Sunday session was also outstanding and especially uplifting. So wonderful to experience Conference.


Here is a shot of the couple who get the Trachtenmode prize.  Here are Becky (Bequiss Christensen, now Fairbanks) and her husband James.  Becky served in Austria and was one of those super sister missionaries.  James served in the Dominican Republic.  He got the authentic Bavarian Lederhose from a brother.  James sings  in the Tabernacle Choir and we spotted him on TV during conference.  He has his own dental practice in the valley.  Becky is busy as a social worker.

Here is a "Selfie" that the little girl took of herself and her mother, Kristi DeMille Spackman.  We took our missionary picture with my Leica M9 mounted on a tripod with the shutter set on delayed release.  This little girl watched the process, and after the group picture was over, ran to the camera, took a chair and touched off the shutter.  Kristi ran forward to prevent a knock over of the camera but when they saw the blinking red light, dashed in front for this shot.  The focus was set for beyond but this is a pretty good picture.  Lots of fun and good tines at the reunion.

Well, study the talks of conference and see where something might apply.  We have great leaders.

Love to all,

Mom and Dad

Saturday, April 5, 2014


Dear Family,

We had our missionary reunion on the Friday before General Conference.  This year it will be nine hears since we returned from Germany. The numbers of those attending these reunions have been smaller in the last couple of years as many have moved away for work or education.

When we announced the reunion, there were about 40 that indicated they would come.  We ordered food and I thought we should order a little more.  Mom worked hard on the house and yard to get it ready and set a great table with tons of goodies.

A great group arrived and some we have not seen for several years.  They brought their children who had a blast with the stuffed animals and all the toys downstairs.  I was surprised at the number who came and we think there was over 90 in attendance including some little kids. Brett Lameroux was a great help in getting the word out.  The picture above represents only some of those who attended.
I have never wanted to duplicate a church meeting with these reunions but next time we might have a little program,  We sang a couple of German hymns and mostly had a diner and visited constantly. It was so great to see these former missionaries who have moved on in life with education and individual families.  They enjoyed seeing one another again and there was a good spirit in the gathering.

Here are three former sister missionaries, Heidi Hinman-Perez (a certified landscape artist), Julie Hardy (nurse at Intermountain Health), and Shalayne Davis who will get her law degree in Richmond, VA this month.  Very talented group.

When I saw this large group of former missionaries, I remembered  their work and devotion.  The memory of their long hours studying, finding, and teaching  reminds me of the scripture in Mosiah 15, which I believe refers to our missionaries

 16 And again, how beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of those that are still publishing peace!
 17 And again, how beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of those who shall hereafter publish peace, yea, from this time henceforth and forever!
How beautiful upon the mountains are indeed the feet of our fine missionaries.  
Love, Mom and Dad


Dear Family,

We bought a new recliner and it came in a huge box.  Mom wanted to keep the box for the kids, knowing that often the box is better than the toy it held.

John came over with his boys and soon we had two others.  Here is the
"Little Gang of 4-5 Year Olds" There is Johnny in front, Grant, Garret and Timmy. It is impossible to take a serious picture of these guys.

John cut windows in the box and they were in there for a long time.  So great to see this all

Love, Dad

Thursday, March 27, 2014


Dear Family,

Becca and Paul were up here recently and got together with Suz and her family.  Here is Becca holding the last two grandchildren, little Elizabeth # 79 and little Analise #80 on the left.  These are real cute little girls.

Becca went down to Suz's ward on Sunday and moved to their row.  When these two little girls saw each other, they went nuts for several minutes, smiling, laughing and flapping their arms.  People sitting behind them were distracted from the talks and it was such a spontaneous scene. It was as if they were saying, "Hey hi, you made it!  I'm so glad to see you"

I have often wondered about our families.  Maybe things are not so random.  The little babies and kids seem to stare at me constantly as if to wonder, "Where do I know you   and haven't I seen you somewhere before?"  Their eyes follow me around the room.  Rob's boy little Luke did that all the time and it is a phenomena that seems to last until they are a little older.  Little Elizabeth is constantly staring at me all the time and I wish I could read that little mind.  You wonder sometimes whether families were somehow organized up above.  Not true certainly in all cases but one feels a familiarity with these little tykes as they come into the world.

So proud of our family and these new little additions.

Love you all,  Dad


Dear Family,

Madeline came home from her mission in Scotland and Ireland.  She was felt to be under the weather there.  She has had exhaustive tests and medical evaluations and luckily, absolutely nothing was found on her evaluation here.  She has a clean bill of health for which we are all grateful.  After adjusting to the release, she is well, happy and looking forward to the next phase of her life.

She gave a homecoming talk in her church on Sunday and much of the family came up to hear her.  She did a marvelous job and spoke so warmly of her mission and the lives she had influenced for good.  She gave a vibrant testimony of the Gospel and her mission.

She had quite a bit of success in the time she served in both Scotland and Ireland.  Those she taught are in constant contact with Cheryl and Paul and so appreciative of Maddie. She is going back to school.  Here she is before the Stake President released her from her mission.

Maddie is great and all love her very much.  Here she is with some of her cousins from our side of the family,

Here is Hannah, Catherine, Rebecca, Sarah, Madeline B., Rachel and Maddie, the star of the day.  in front is Caroline, Emma and sister Annabelle.

Cheryl and Paul had a great open house after the church meeting and did a great job of entertaining all who came.  We all chatted and stayed a little long.  We all love Maddie.

Here is Johnny with a hat that Maddie brought him from Scotland.

During the week, Paul Jr. received his mission call. We went over for the opening and so did Paul's parents.
.Paul Jr.  was called to the Taiwan, Taipei  Mission and will go into the mission training Center in Provo in July.  we were all excited and happy for him and this new challenge,  John served there and got quite proficient in the language.

Well it was quite a week for Cheryl and Paul with the homecoming and the new mission call. We saw them again at the birthday party for Karen Huntsman.

We are proud of Maddie and happy for Paul.

We love you all,

Mom and Dad

Tuesday, March 18, 2014


Dear Family,

It is time for another update.  We have had family over quite a bit recently and it has been great!  Here are some of the grandchildren from several families who came over with their parents.

Since Rebecca and Paul were here from St, George, we invited all who could come over for Sunday dinner.,  Doug and kids came, Suz, Scott and kids were there, Paul and Rebecca were there also with their children, Cheryl came over with several daughters and little Johnny. They all ate rapidly and took off for all parts of the house.  When the kids get together it is really something!

Oma always tries to have a spiritual thought at such get togethers and especially on Sunday.  She had written a short play and wanted the kids to act out the parts.  It would have taken less than 5 minutes but it was murder trying to get them all to come up and stop playing for a Family Night. We would get a bunch together only to have them disappear as we searched for the others, "Like herding cats?"

Finally Oma went around and promised all a special prize if they came to family night and participated in the play. Some of the teenyboppers stayed in the basement, some went home.  Little Johnny pleaded that he could stay since Oma promised a prize without knowing what the prize was.  We had the little skit about showing mercy to others who may be a little different, made some comments, had a song and a prayer.

Then Oma said, "I have a special prize this time. For all who came and participated get the prize.  The others do  not" Then she brought out a huge bowel, filled with coins that she had been saving around the house.  There were a ton of coins!

"Everyone can come up here and grab one handful of coins as their prize". It was like feeding a bunch of hungry fish. They all ran up and grabbed their handful.  Johnny put his is a plastic bag and slept beside it.  They all scored, JuJu got $19.00 worth of coins, "The quarters were on the bottom" .  Never did take a total but they all scored. Here is a picture of what was left over.

At first I was a little disturbed by this, "What are we teaching? You get paid for coming to Family Night?"  But for several days after they were still talking and smiling about Oma's prize.  They would never forget that one!  Those that did not participate were left out and glum.

I suppose that is how it works.  Our Father in Heaven invites us to do certain things and there are unspecified rewards for those who follow these invitations and those who do not would not be quite as rewarded.

Keep having Family Nights,

Love, Dad