A Little of This and That in April

May 11, 2019

There's just nothing like April. I think it will always be my favorite month. And it was a good one this time around. You might have found us . . .

Pruning . . . our fruit trees. We have three fruit trees in our backyard (apple, pear, and peach), and in the five years we have lived here, we have never given them a proper pruning. One of my friends offered to teach me how to prune them, and it was an opportunity I couldn't pass up. She showed me what a proper cut looks like and taught me the correct shape for each type of tree (hint: they're different). I learned to look for branches that are crossing or overlapping and pay attention to the direction of the new growth. When we were done, they all had been pruned back quite a bit (especially the peach), and I am SO excited to see what they'll do this year.

Revamping . . . the flower beds. We have been holding off planting anything in our front flower bed for a long time because we couldn't make a decision about what we actually wanted to do with it. But then Mike was at his favorite store (i.e., the NPS store), and they had a bunch of inexpensive plants, and so he just decided to buy them all (not really, but close). It's a hodgepodge of stuff, and we don't really know what we're doing, but for the moment, it looks way better, and at the very least, it's a starting place. Mike bought enough plants to also rip out one of the beds in the backyard and replant the whole thing with lower maintenance bushes. Sometimes I just have to remember Gretchen Rubin's adage: "Done is better than perfect."

Taking . . . notes during General Conference. I felt like we turned a corner this year because for the first time, Aaron and Maxwell took pages (literally pages) of notes during the talks. Yes, they were being bribed with candy, but they've been bribed with candy before and have only done the bare minimum required. This year, they listened attentively and wrote down lots of insights, and I just felt like I was seeing them grow up before my very eyes. (But then, there was also Bradley who told me probably a dozen times how much he hated conference and listening to talks, etc., so it wasn't all golden.)

Wielding . . . a medieval sword. Mike's parents came home for General Conference, and we had the overdue Christmas party that got postponed last October when my mother-in-law had a health scare and they couldn't fly home. Among the gifts, each family received a long broadsword (i.e., a "sword of truth") with the intent that it will be used to open future mission calls (a family tradition). The swords have actually been stored in our basement for the last eight months because Mike's dad had them shipped to us, so I'm glad to see them finally go to their real homes. (Sometime I'll have to share the story about when the first one arrived at our house before we knew my father-in-law was sending them to us. We got a mysterious package in the mail from sharpknives.com, and when I opened it and found a full size, authentic (and yes, sharp!) sword in there, I might have freaked out a little.)

Going . . . on a shopping spree. At least, that's what it felt like. I had just been needing a lot of different things--a couple of pairs of shoes for me, some summer clothes for the boys, some new shirts for Mike--and I had just been letting it all pile up until Mike and I went on a date to the outlets  and just took care of it all. It kind of gives me some anxiety to spend a lot of money all at once, but it's so nice not to have to use up brain space researching running shoes anymore (because that's what I do, and research just paralyzes my decision-making abilities). Also, for the record, Mike is a fantastic person to go shopping with because he has no problem making decisions, he actually likes to give his opinion when I try on clothes, and he always encourages me to buy more than I would otherwise (which may or may not be a good idea . . . ).

Receiving . . . a lot of rain. This spring has been a wet one. Thankfully, most of it has come in the form of rain and not snow. (But I had to laugh when I was volunteering in Aaron's class on the last day of the month right during a little snowstorm; the kids were all very distracted by it until his teacher finally got fed up with it all and said, "Come on, you guys, you live in Utah! It snows in April! It's not anything special.") After the third or fourth day in a row of rain and no sunshine, I was pretty much over it, but I can't deny the results: our grass is maybe the greenest it has ever been.

Drawing . . . a picture of the allegory of the olive tree. Perhaps I better explain. One afternoon during my personal scripture study, I was reading the allegory of the olive tree, which is found in Jacob 5 in The Book of Mormon. It is a long, detailed allegory that involves planting and pruning and grafting and burning, and even though I have read this chapter many times, I was just feeling a little lost. So I decided to start over and attempt to illustrate what I was reading. Now, you have to understand that my artistic abilities are severely limited, but I made my best attempt in forty little pictures over six pages in my notebook. It's not something I would show to anyone else (hence, no photo), but it helped me visualize and understand this allegory like I never have before. It was a good exercise (and I can only imagine what it could have been in the hands of a different artist).

Finishing . . . the softest, coziest sweater. I finally finished another project (I have three others started . . . ), and I'm so glad we still had a couple of cold days in April so I could wear it. It is so warm and comfortable; I could live in it. It will be something to look forward to in the fall.

Seeing . . . the news about Notre Dame. Like probably so many of you, I was shocked to hear that Notre Dame had caught fire and that centuries of history and culture had been lost. It reminded me of when the Provo Tabernacle experienced similar destruction in 2010. It made me realize that even though buildings are not alive, they have the power to touch the lives of millions of people through their beauty and the events that happen inside and around them. I visited Notre Dame in 2016, and it wildly exceeded my expectations. I had seen photos of Notre Dame before, but photos couldn't capture the craftsmanship or scope or magnificence of that edifice. I remember standing right next to it and looking up in awe at its intricately carved walls and wondering about the hundreds of unknown, unrecognized people who worked so tirelessly for a lifetime to make it what it was. After the fire, the internet was flooded with photos--images of families and friends and individuals visiting the cathedral and basking in its beauty. I'm glad that I have my own photos to remind me of it.

Running . . . out of fabric. I dusted off my sewing machine this month and made myself a dress. In the process of cutting out the pieces for it, I realized I did not have enough fabric for the sleeves. So I went back to the fabric store, only to find out that they no longer had that fabric in stock. So I went to another (much larger) store and miraculously (seriously, it was a miracle) found the same fabric. I finished the dress (I even conquered the invisible zipper) before admitting that I had chosen the wrong fabric (it was very stiff and had absolutely no give). So I don't know that I will ever wear it in real life, but I've already bought more fabric to make it again (and this time, I made sure that I'll have enough).

Winning . . . first AND second place in the pinewood derby! We literally forgot about the pinewood derby until two days before the race whereupon Mike scrambled to help Aaron and Maxwell each make a car. Then on the day of the race, Mike came home from work and realized he had left the cars on his desk (he'd taken them there to make sure the wheels were aligned). Then when Aaron weighed in his car, they realized it was too heavy, so Mike hacked away pieces of it until it passed. So it might have seemed like the stars were not aligned for the boys, but then they ended up winning both first (Aaron) and second (Maxwell). In Aaron's words, "My car didn't look the nicest, but it was the fastest."

Hosting . . . our fourth annual neighborhood Easter egg hunt. I love this tradition so much, and we had a perfect day for it this year.

Observing . . . Easter. We always do Easter baskets and our neighborhood egg hunt on the Saturday before Easter, which keeps the actual day a little more focused on the Resurrection. This year we went to my parents' house for dinner and then had a little family egg hunt after that, and it was simple and perfect.

Studying . . . the scriptures as a family. Ever since our boys were very little, we have tried to read the scriptures daily and share scripture stories with them, but at the beginning of the year, we started doing it with a little more intention than before. That is because our church made a big change in January: the Sunday meeting schedule was cut down from three hours to two hours, and we were encouraged to use that extra hour to study together as a family in a home-centered, church-supported effort. In addition to this, gospel study was correlated throughout the Church with the Come Follow Me curriculum. The New Testament is our course of study, and it is broken down by week with which chapters to read, questions to discuss, and activities to do. The same material is also taught at church, and so we study it at home, and then we're ready to share insights when we meet together at church. It has been wonderful. Our weeknight study is still fairly short, but on Sunday afternoons, we put Ian down for a nap, and then study and learn together. Not only has it been a good experience for us in our home, but it has enriched our time at church as well. Rather than having family scripture study in one book of scripture and church classes in another, now we're all on the same page (literally), and I love it.

Celebrating . . . our two April birthdays--Mike's and Ian's. One of Ian's favorite songs is Happy Birthday, so I knew he would be thrilled when it was actually his turn to open presents and blow out a candle. The evening before, after Ian went to bed, the rest of us all gathered in the living room to wrap presents and get everything ready for the birthday boy. I thought it was the perfect representation of how much we all love and adore little Ian. He loved his presents and his Chicka Chicka Boom Boom cake, and he even blew out the candle all by himself.

Weaning . . . Ian. A few days after Ian's birthday, Mike and I went to New York, and I knew that was going to be the perfect time to finish weaning Ian. But to be perfectly honest, I didn't feel ready for it. He is my baby, and nursing has always been one of my favorite parts of being a mom. I will miss hearing him ask for "Mommy's milk" or "a little bit of milk." (As of right now, he still hasn't stopped asking him for it, but I just keep reminding him that it is all gone.) Luckily, our nighttime cuddles and conversations and songs have not stopped, and I'm grateful I still get to rock him before bed.

Visiting . . . New York for the first time. To celebrate our fourteenth wedding anniversary, we decided to take a trip to the Big Apple. Neither of us had ever been, and we spent the weeks leading up to it gathering recommendations from all of our more sophisticated and well-traveled friends and then editing our itinerary again and again as we tried to squeeze in more things before being realistic and trimming it back down. The trip exceeded all of my expectations. I will write a whole post about it soon, but I'm so glad we got to go, and I can't wait to go back.

Missing . . . the wax museum. While Mike and I were in New York, Maxwell's class put together their own wax museum. Max was Benedict Arnold, and in the days leading up to it, he loved to wear his costume and say his part (in fact, you can see him in it in the birthday prep photo above, ha!). I was so sad to miss the actual event, but luckily my mom was able to go see him, and she said he did great!

Loving . . . every little detail of spring: the forsythia bushes that burst into brilliant light before resuming their incognito status; the sweet star magnolias that I never noticed until this year; the changing hues of green--sharp and new, then darkening into something more mature; the parades of butterflies returning from their migration south; the pungent smell of lilac; and of course, my beloved flowering cherry in all its frothy pink glory. I have loved everything about this spring (except for maybe my allergies, but it's a small price to pay for all of this beauty).

What has this spring looked like for you? Tell me about it!


  1. Looks like you had a beautiful, happy, family month, Amy! Happy Mother's Day! :)

  2. Lovely pictures for a lovely month. And that sweater is gorgeous!


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