January 1998

(Highlights – Christmas, Lewis finished book manuscript for Piloting at Night, Linda stops morning job of cleaning porcelain, finished reading the Old Testament, FAA mess continues, sickness)

Happy New Year everyone.  Christmas time can get so crazy and it’s nice to start a fresh new year.  Unfortunately we’ve started ours by everyone being sick, it’s not quite the way I’d planned to spend my “free time” after Christmas but we’ll get better and this too shall pass…

Christmas day was wonderful.  The kids were so excited we thought this would finally be the year when THEY wake US up on Christmas morning, in fact at 10:30 Christmas eve Joseph came up the stairs saying, “Is it morning yet?” But once they finally fell asleep the sandman hit hard, so once again it was their mother who couldn’t sleep and finally woke the kids around 8 AM.   The cutest things are Melanie and Sarah’s ballerina costumes which they wear and prance around the house in nearly every day.  Joseph got a great race track set and I got sheet music for the piano, yea!  Lewis has to get used to wearing a watch again, he’s been so long without one he even stopped looking at his bare arm to check the time.

Lewis finished and sent in his book manuscript and we got a call from his editor saying everything looked good so we’re pleased to wrap up that project.  I quit my job cleaning porcelain that means a little more sleep and a little less stress for me.  Also Lewis and I finished reading the Old Testament together – it took nearly 3 years and seemed at times that it kept growing and would never end, but now we can say that we’ve read ALL the standard works together and are now back in the Book of Mormon and reading it feels like breathing fresh air again.

The FAA mess is slowly progressing.  We are following the advice of our lawyer Robert Young and have requested a trial to be set.  We have been very disappointed with the way the FAA personnel have handled things – gloating, spreading rumors and occasionally calling Lewis’ supervisor at work to harass him.  It’s hard to have a Christian attitude towards these people.  We do have good news though, remember I mentioned the “get out of jail free card” called the NASA form?  Well we got it back finally so even if they find Lewis “guilty” and it goes on his record he can waive the penalty so we shouldn’t be out of work.  The scary part is that if this FAA inspector continues to haunt Lewis and accuses him of something else that privilege can’t be used again for 7 years so we have to be very careful.  It would be nice to be cleared of the charges and have a clean slate.

February 1998

(Highlights – saw “Joseph … Dreamcoat” with Donny Osmond, dragged Melanie kicking and screaming to “Joseph…” at SLCC, Linda’s story printed in the “Friend” magazine, FAA mess worse)

For our family January will be remembered as the month of “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” because we saw it twice.  Once with the professional cast starring Donny Osmond (wow, both Lewis and I were on a high for days afterward) and a second time performed by the Community College with the older kids.  We were excited for Joseph and Melanie to have their first theater experience and carefully prepped them by reading the story in the scripture reader and listening to the “Joseph…” CD

They were ready, but when the babysitter came over to watch Sarah, Melanie decided that she’d rather stay home and began throwing a beauty of a temper tantrum.  I thought, “Okay is it better to leave her home and waste her ticket or bring her crying which means I will probably be waiting with her out in the hall during the performance?”  Lewis decided we were all going so he chased her around the car several times until he caught her and buckled her screaming into the car.  Fortunately when we got there the storm was over and we all liked it, in fact Melanie still talks about it sings the songs and asks when we can go again.

I was delighted when the February “Friend” magazine arrived and the story I wrote about Lewis was finally in it!  It’s called “Leap of Faith” and our primary used it for sharing time last week, it was really satisfying.  Our family is all healthy, yea!  After being sick for 4 weeks I finally went to the doctor and she put me on antibiotics, I wish I had gone in sooner.  We need these experiences to help us appreciate good health and I also learned that I have gestational diabetes so I have to watch my sugar intake.  I can’t wait until the baby is born.  I’m going to eat a big slice of chocolate cheesecake and anything else I can get my hands on.

Joseph went to the dentist and now has a mouth full of silver and our wallets are noticeable slimmer.  Melanie had no cavities this time, whew!

FAA mess update:  apparently Mr. Higgins, the accusing FAA inspector, didn’t think the truth would bring the violation he so desperately wants to pin (maybe because Lewis didn’t do anything wrong?) so he’s changed his story to make it several times worse, “lost” documents that would validate our version, and also wants to prove that all violations were intentional which nullifies the NASA form (i.e. the punishment WILL stick, no waiver).  The hearing date is set for March 12th.  It is difficult to prove someone is lying but we do have some written evidence that validates our story at least in some aspects so we have hope.

March 1998

(Highlights – Valentine’s day, mom/grandma teaching childbirth classes, bought candy machines, truck broke down, first cell phone, Rob and Ang are Joey’s primary teachers, Melanie’s first primary talk, Sarah talks about the baby “stuck in my belly button”)

Linda pre-Sam

Lewis gave me roses and took me to a dance for Valentine’s Day.  He is wonderful.  He tells me I’m beautiful when I’m 9 months pregnant and huge and he really means it.  You gotta love a guy like that.  My mom has been teaching some childbirth classes and I have both been attending her class and it has been really informative.  Mom is getting to be quite a good teacher and she works so hard to make her classes fun and interesting.

Lewis has started a side-line business of some vending machines.  We bought about 7 or so used quarter candy machines and one by one he has been cleaning, filling and finding homes for each one.  So far it has only been a very expensive hobby and a great way to bribe the children who will currently do anything for a quarter as we still have filled machines in our toy room.  Hopefully some day it will actually make a profit.

Our truck broke down several weeks ago and before we could even push it under the carport it was covered by a deep blanket of snow with our strange March weather.  Lewis hasn’t been able to work on it.  We bought a cellular phone by request from Lewis’ work; it’s so strange that what I once viewed as an extravagance has now become a necessity.

Melanie gave her first talk in primary in Feb. and did a terrific job with very little help.  She also is learning to read and is delighted each time she learns a new letter.  She can now read most of the words on the “Reader Rabbit” game and simple stories, she’s amazing.  Sarah is delightful and looking forward to being a big sister to the baby that’s “stuck in my belly button.”

April 1998

(Highlights – FAA hearing, Joseph road show, Lewis sings “Golden Ba Ba,” Linda’s birthday, Samuel born at home)

March 12th was the hearing with the FAA.  It was a kangaroo court.  It went basically like this: “So you were accused of violating a regulation?  Then you’re guilty.  The end.” So we lost.  It is not like being accused of a crime where you have rights and are “innocent until proven guilty.”  Here the rules are different and you are guilty simply because they said so.  However, there are still rules in the system and they violated many of their own rules in an effort to intimidate and harass.  The stress and frustration of injustice are overwhelming.

The whole scenario has been a nightmare.  After years of sacrificing and training so Lewis could finally get hired, we learn that we could lose it all by making a mistake or even because of being wrongfully accused of making a mistake coupled with the accuser’s ego.  The stress of having a house payment and the fear of possible unemployment are awful.

We had hired a lawyer to represent Lewis in court and we owe him an amount that equals more than half our annual salary.  In order to pay him we’re going to have to refinance our house.  We’d like to appeal, but obviously can’t afford to hire a lawyer again so Lewis is appealing the decision to the NTSB board by himself.  It can take anywhere from 3-18 months for the board to get to our case and make a decision and the penalty is suspended until after their decision.  If no changes are made, Lewis’ pilot license will be suspended for 40 days after that time.  With no pilot’s license, he can’t fly, which means he can’t work, but perhaps by then he can get hired in the training department for SkyWest and then it won’t affect his job very much.  We’ll see.

I’ve heard it said that a baby being born is God’s way of saying that life goes on.  This month life went on.  Samuel Ammon was born weighing 8 lb and 21” long.  I chose to have him at home and it was a wonderful experience.  The labor was rather like a party.  My brother Robert and his wife Angela came over, we ate pizza and watched an edited version of Braveheart.  Occasionally we’d pause the movie to have the midwife check my progress, and she said, “You’re close.  Go finish the movie and we’ll have a baby.”  When the movie was over the midwife broke my water and soon Sam was born.  The delivery wasn’t much fun, but the labor seriously was a piece of cake.*

Joseph was in his first “Road Show” this month.  He was a willow tree and he sang and danced and had a great costume.  He did a great job and we were very proud of him.  Melanie and Sarah like to wear pretty dresses and dance around together in the living room to songs from Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.  Also Melanie has become quite a helper.  She can get Sarah dressed and she sings lullabies to Samuel.  Lewis has a fun tradition as he gets Sarah her bedtime bottle; he always sings “Golden ba ba from Mambrino, there can be no ba like thee.  Thou and I now ere I die now will make golden history!” (Modified from Man of La Mancha “Golden Helmet”) Lewis has a great voice by the way, but he’s rather selective of his audiences (in other words really shy about it).

(*Note:  I thought the labor was easy because I was awesome or something, but I learned that this was due to the expertise of my gifted midwife Melodie Pendelton and her assistants [my mom was one of the assistants].  I didn’t realize what a tremendous influence she had until three years later when I delivered my next child.  That didn’t turn out so well… see June 2001).

(**Note:  We purchased our home from my uncle.  He cared for his father, Samuel, during his final days.  Coincidentally my little Samuel was born in the same room where my grandfather passed away many years prior.  My Sam made up a riddle, “I was born in the same room I died in.”  Which actually doesn’t make any sense, but I get it.  He means that a Samuel [my grandfather] died in that room and he [Samuel] was born in that same room).

May 1998

(Highlights – Lewis birthday, Easter, general conference, bought a tiller, “Pitts” wing kit arrives, Linda finishes teaching co-op preschool, Joseph finally gets some teeth, Melanie Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde, Sarah potty training, Sarah tells mom she looks like a ragamuffin and accuses dad of giving her a poisonous apple)

April brought general conference, Easter and Lewis’ birthday with it.  Also Lewis acquired a powerful weapon (tiller) to help fight our battle against the weeds.  He thinks this year we’ll win.  That would be nice.  Our new-to-us tiller also helped prepare a spot for our garden which we finally planted.  Our large yard is a never ending cycle of work, but we love the space and feel it’s worth it.

Lewis was thrilled when a large package containing the wing kit to his Pitts biplane finally arrived.  If I can’t find him, I know he’s in the shop working on his “Pitts parts” with a big smile on his face.  Life is good.

I was delighted to teach my final rotation of preschool.  After the last child was picked up and the house was (relatively) empty and quiet, I did a little celebration dance.  I’m not sure I’ll do another co-op preschool again.  I thought it would be so fun to be part of an organized group and teach little kids shapes, colors, letters, and art projects, but the children (ages 3-4)

were too young for that and it was more like an exercise in frustration and chaos with lots of nose picking.  I think a play group would be better for this age.

Joey is finally growing some new teeth.  He lost his top two front teeth nearly two years ago and lost 3 more in the past few months.  I was afraid I would have to start feeding him apple sauce and baby food, but finally new ones are coming in.  Now let’s hope they’re straight.

Miss Melanie has a real desire to serve and help and is often found wrapping up presents with newspaper and tape and giving them to everyone.  However the tricky part is that if someone spurns her help or her gift then her mood changes instantly and she’s quite likely to punch them.  We’re working on that.

Sarah is beginning the toilet training adventure, yea!  Also she communicates so delightfully well, sometimes I have to laugh.  The other day I went to get a haircut and the hairdresser styled my hair a little different.  My greeting from Sarah was, “You look like a ragamuffin mom,” well no need for the old, “How do you like it,” question.  She put Lewis in his place too, by accusing him of giving her a poisoned apple (it had a mushy spot).

Baby Samuel is getting cuter and more alert every day.

June 1998

(Highlights – Music recital, fixed truck went camping, Linda gets to visit Becky in D.C.)

My sister-in-law Angela and I had a recital together for our music students at Day Murray Music on May 16th.  Angela teaches violin and I’m teaching piano.  Things went well for the most part (one student misunderstood directions and showed up 3 hours late, but oh well) and it was all the better for doing it together.  Joseph is now taking violin lessons from Angela.  She’s a great teacher!

Our truck finally got fixed.  The bill was over $800, wow!  Lewis fixed up our truck shell and made a bunk-bed in the back and we went camping for the first time by ourselves.  Lewis has also been tilling yards as a way to earn a little extra money and I think he enjoys it.  We also finally got a little revenue from our quarter candy machines.

Lewis was kind enough to give his stamp of approval for me to take a little trip to go to Washington D.C. to visit my sister Becky.  I always learn so much when I spend time with my brothers and sisters.  Also Lewis learned a thing or two watching the children during my absence – he said, “I couldn’t get anything done.”  I thought, boy do I know that feeling, but I love my mom job anyway.

July 1998

(Melanie teaches herself to ride a bike, Joseph 7th birthday, Sam is “angel baby,” bill arrives for FAA mess)

Well, after getting pumped up to be a better wife/mother/homemaker from my inspiring trip to Becky’s, I decided to do a better job getting organized and tackled the dreaded toy room.  With Lewis’ help of making shelves in a cupboard with doors, I think I finally won.  You can actually see the floor in there.  It’s great.  Next came putting a bookshelf in the living room so there wouldn’t be piles of books everywhere and a video shelf in the TV room.  I was going great guns but then it got so hot and we have no air conditioner.  I just pooped out.  Two days ago when I just couldn’t stand it anymore we bought a little portable cooler.  It’s an improvement and maybe I can move again.

Melanie taught herself how to ride a bike last week (no training wheels).  After a few successful attempts, she began asking for bike lessons.  At first I said, “But Melanie, you’re doing great, you don’t need bike lessons,” but later I got smart and asked her what bike lessons were.  She said “It’s where you watch me ride my bike and say yea!”

Sarah caught the excitement and has been working on riding her little bike with training wheels.  Joseph turned 7 in June and got a little tent and a hammock.  He’s a strong little guy and can do real pull ups.  After watching him effortlessly lift his toned body a few times I thought I’d try… not even close.  How depressing.  Samuel is 3 months old, weighs 15 lbs., and can roll over from back to front.  He’s so good we call him “angel baby” and sing to him “Angel baby give a little smile for me, oh please.” (To the tune of “Santa Baby”)

Life is good… but not perfect.  We got our finalized bill from our lawyer over this FAA mess –  $15,108.38.   We cleaned out our savings, sold our SkyWest stocks, refinanced our home, and borrowed some from mom and dad.  We are broke, but the bill is paid and our loans are such that we can handle them.  I have been blessed with a general feeling of peace throughout this (except for the days when we got new bad news, then Lewis and I both walked around like zombies for a day until we could snap out of it) at first I thought these feelings of peace meant things would work out according to our desires, but life has a way of reminding us that God’s ways are not ours.  Life is like running a marathon, our savior Jesus Christ will cheer us on, prepare us with good shoes, give us a drink if we’re thirsty, let us lean on him if we’re weary, and encourage us if we’re discouraged, but he still expects us to run the race so we can meet him at the finish line.  No one is exempt from the challenge or they won’t get the reward.  He knows what we’re going through and he’ll help us be up to the task.

August, September, October 1998

(Highlights – Joseph can jump off the diving board and reads well, Melanie self hair cut mentioned, Melanie 5th and Sarah’s 3rd birthdays, Sarah caught a fish, Sam crawling, Sam grabs the Crisco from the counter, Lewis gets contract to edit “Modern Airmanship” and Linda gets to help, Lewis hired as instructor for Skywest, bought a camper, truck overheats, camping experience, Joseph falls off bed, Sarah – “My owie fell off,” homeschool dinner parties, Linda tries to take a nap…”You open the door and I’ll cry to get her attention”)

Wow so much has happened this summer, I will try to be brief.

Joseph learned to swim well and now loves to jump off the diving board.  He also read the Great Illustrated Classic version of “Peter Pan” (239 pages) by himself in a month.  Lewis took him (and Melanie) to see Godzilla to celebrate.

Melanie did such an efficient job on her first self-given haircut that even three months later it still hasn’t grown all the way out yet.  We celebrated her 5th birthday with a “friends” party complete with a pink Barbie cake.

Sarah naturally needed a purple Barbie cake for her birthday and loves carrying her Barbies around by the hair everywhere she goes.  Earlier this summer I took the children fishing (our first try on a real river, not the fish pond) and Sarah caught a 10 inch catfish!  I was rather stunned.

Samuel (Sam-Bam) is crawling at 6 months, he’s not real graceful about it yet, but he can go anywhere, which is proof that I’m not actually holding him all 24 hours of each day although it sure seems that way sometimes.  One day as I held him in my left arm and busily fixed dinner with my right, he seemed even heavier than usual, I didn’t realize he had swiped the full container of shortening off the cupboard and was carrying it around until he finally dropped it, maybe we should have named him Samson?  He’s so beautiful and perfect with his twinkling brown eyes, fuzzy blond hair and winning smile.  I remain his devoted servant.

Lewis has been busy working, remodeling (mostly destroying) parts of our house, and editing a 1200 page book called “Modern Airmanship” for McGraw-Hill.  This project is particularly exciting to me because we’re working on it together and my name will go on the book as well.  Lewis interviewed (and was accepted) with his work to get a new job as a ground instructor.  They haven’t told him when he will be able to start but we’re really excited.  He’ll still fly once a week as captain on a Brasilia and teach their new pilots, it will also mean a regular schedule and a raise.  I can hardly wait.

We bought an old camper and had an adventure up Little Cottonwood Canyon.  Our truck overheated on the way, but we finally made it.  We hiked up to Secret Lake then after dinner the children couldn’t wait to try out their “new” beds.  Lewis and I thought, “This is great!” However, the night was not peaceful.  Samuel woke up a dozen times.  Joseph slept on a retractable bunk bed near the ceiling and his slippery sleeping bag slid off him (he was resting under it) followed later by himself as he fell off in the early hours of the morning.  Shorty afterwards Sarah crawled sobbing into our bed that she had an “owey,” after some Tylenol and prolonged comforting she exclaimed, “Hey, my owey fell off.”  All in all I’d say it was a great experience and we’ll do it again soon.

I’ve been busy teaching homeschool, we’re having a great time studying different countries and finish each unit with a fun meal/party with foods from that country.  We’ve invited family members to join with us.  For Israel we had a Passover feast, then for France we had a French dinner and watched “The 3 Musketeers.”  After the party for France my mom excitedly asked, “What country is next?”  We’re having a ball.

It seems every spare moment is taken up with some project and we’re always busy.  One day I just needed a rest and threatened everyone that I was napping and was not to be disturbed.  Melanie hurt herself and as I lay listening to the commotion outside the walls of my room, I heard her and Joseph discussing how to get my help without getting in trouble for disturbing me.  Melanie said, “You open the door and I’ll cry to get her attention.”  Oh children.  Obviously there was no nap.