A Little of This and That in May

Jun 10, 2019

As it so often is, May was a whirlwind, ending with the culmination of the school year and the sweet start of summer. This month found us . . .

Discovering . . . Neff's Canyon. We are so fortunate to live so close to the mountains, and I know we don't take the opportunity to explore them as much as we could. On a recent date night, Mike and I went on a little hike in Neff's Canyon. Mike took the boys sledding there this past winter, but this was the first time I had been in it, and I was completely charmed. It is nestled in the shadow of my beloved Mt. Olympus, and the trails are easy but interesting. I can't believe I didn't know about it until this year. It makes me wonder what other undiscovered things are right outside my front door.

Going . . . to two book clubs in one week. My neighborhood book club meets on the second Tuesday, and my serious book club meets on the third Thursday. This usually puts them more than a week apart. But the way the dates fell this month meant that they both occurred during the same week. Both books were excellent: Salt to the Sea by Ruth Sepetys and The Hired Girl by Laura Amy Schlitz. I highly recommend them both.

Attending . . . lots of end-of-the-year performances. We had Maxwell's and Bradley's dance informances, Aaron's band concert, Bradley's opera, Aaron's class play, and Maxwell's musical concert. I loved each one. I particularly want to mention Bradley's opera and Aaron's play. Every year, Bradley's teacher helps her class create their own opera. They come up with the plot and the characters, compose the melodies and rhythms, write the lyrics, and design the costumes and set. From start to finish, it takes them several months. Because this is the third time we've had this teacher, this is also the third time we've been to one of these operas. Each one has been completely unique and creative. This year, it was about a baby koala who was given a balloon by an emu and then floated away. It was entitled "The Balloon That Caused Chaos." His teacher forwarded the piano music to me, so we have continued to enjoy it in the weeks since. Aaron's class play was equally impressive. Although it was not their own creation, it was completely seamless and polished. It was about the explorers of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries; Aaron was Sir Francis Drake. The kids all sang with enthusiasm.. They knew their lines down pat and delivered them with expression. More importantly, you could hear every word they said. It was a pleasure to be there and see these kids do so well. After it was over, Aaron said, "I'm so sad we'll never get to perform our play again." I think all of the kids felt the same way. His teacher really has such a gift for encouraging each student to do his/her best and enjoy the process.

Wincing . . . at Maxwell's talk. Max was assigned to give the talk in Primary on Mother's Day, and he decided to write the whole thing himself. Although I was proud of him for taking the initiative, the end product was offensive. In short, it was an attempt at humor gone horribly wrong, and there was no way I was going to let him share it at church! Luckily, Mike helped him rewrite it so it was still authentically Max but thankfully no longer sexist.

Spending . . . a quiet Mother's Day as a family. Neither of our moms were around for Mother's Day, so we stayed close to home for most of the day, only venturing out for church in the morning and a little walk in the evening. It was very nice. Mike made the yummiest dinner, and my kids spoiled me with lots of obedience and quiet time (my two favorite things).

Enduring . . . nightly book summaries from Maxwell. Every night, he likes to come into my room and bring me up to speed with the happenings and plot twists from his latest reads. Lately, he has been fully immersed in Warriors, a series about four competing clans of cats. For the life of me, I can't seem to follow what is actually going on, but that doesn't deter Max from reliving every detail. Mike's mom has told me that Mike was exactly the same at nine years old, following her all around the house recapping the books he was reading, so I guess I know where Max gets it. There isn't any end in sight either since there are several parallel series. Max and his friends even created a whole complex recess game based on these books, which I love so much because it just felt so third grade to me.

Winning . . . the first grade fun run. The fun run is supposed to be a casual, entertaining event at school. This year the kids were even allowed to wear costumes. But Bradley would have none of that. The week before the event, he identified his biggest competitors. He even did a final cram session on the treadmill the night before. And when the whistle blew, he kept his eyes ahead of him and his feet racing along the ground. When he crossed the finish line first, he finally cracked a smile. Aaron and Maxwell both had respectable finishes in their grades also, but it definitely wasn't as big of a deal to them.

Volunteering . . . in Aaron's classroom. At the beginning of the school year, my sister-in-law made me an amazing offer. She said she would watch Ian and Clark one afternoon each week so I could help out in Aaron's classroom. Being able to volunteer on a regular basis has been something I've wanted to do since Aaron was in kindergarten, and although I've had many opportunities to be involved over the years, I've never been able to do it with quite this regularity, so this really was a dream come true for me. It was so fun to go in every Tuesday afternoon and grade homework or glue artwork, all while listening in on science lessons, laughing at Aaron's teacher's quick wit, and getting to know the kids' personalities. I loved it so much.

Watching . . . our local high school's production of Newsies. We took Aaron and Maxwell because they love the music and the story. It was shockingly good. I honestly can't believe that teenagers have that much talent. Because we've also seen the movie and another stage production, both boys found lots of things to compare. Surprisingly, the high school production had the highest number of swear words (according to Max, who kept diligent track of every single one). I love doing things with just one or two of my kids at a time, so this was a fun night.

Participating . . . in a knitalong. A few months ago, one of the knitwear designers that I follow announced that she was releasing a pattern that was going to be similar to an online class. The pattern would be divided into four parts with a new part being released every two weeks. The pattern would include video and written tutorials that would help with some of the trickier parts of the pattern. And there would be an online forum where people could show their progress and ask questions. I decided to buy the pattern and join the knitalong, and I learned so much! I'm still not quite done with it (it's a short sleeve lace sweater), but the end is in sight, and I'm pretty pleased with all of the new skills I've picked up along the way.

Learning . . . new tricks. For the last couple of years, Bradley has been asking to sign up for a session of gymnastics, and I finally caught registration before the deadline had passed. He learned so much and can now go into a back bend from a standing position, kick over from a back bend, stand on his head, and do ten perfect cartwheels in a row.

Saying . . . goodbye to the dream team. For the first time in our entire school career, I was genuinely heartbroken to see this school year come to the end. Over the last six years, we've had some ups and downs with teachers, but this year was a perfect match for each one of my boys. Every day I sent them to school knowing they were going to be encouraged and challenged and supported and, most of all, loved. Yes, loved. I haven't a single doubt that each teacher not only loved teaching but loved all of their students. It was evident in the way they spoke to them and interacted with them. Not only that, they were all so fun and made learning an exciting adventure. It is always so hard for me to see my kids' teachers with a new class at the beginning of the next school year. I always feel like they're somehow being disloyal to their old students by loving a new group of kids. It's irrational, I know, but I can't help it, and I must not be alone in this because I found this paragraph in a recent read, and it summed up my thoughts perfectly: "It seems to me that teachers are a little bit heartless. They greet each new wave of pupils and choose which ones they'll like best, and then, when the students grow up and leave school, they forget all about them and turn to the next wave." But then Aaron's teacher expressed a similar sentiment, explaining how difficult it is to see "her" kids with a new teacher. She says she used to walk past the sixth grade classroom and hear the kids laughing and think, "How dare you laugh at her jokes?" That made me feel better. And the good news is, we will have the dream team again in two years, so I'm looking forward to that.

Moving . . . on from elementary school. The end of the school year brought 5th grade promotion for Aaron. His elementary school career is officially over. I've been feeling rather miserable about it for the whole school year, so it didn't help when a friend told me, "Things will never be the same again." Thanks for rubbing it in! He spent the last two weeks of school in basically one long party which culminated on the last day with promotion. It was a very long and drawn out event, but it wasn't quite as boring as we thought it was going to be because Aaron ended up receiving a ton of awards, including a gold pin from Math Olympiads, which placed him in the top two percent of competing students around the world. He really excelled this year, in large part because of the high expectations of his teacher, and it was exciting to watch him come out of his shell and be so successful.

Making . . . summer goals. The boys finished school, and the very next day we had our summer goals posted on the kitchen wall. That's the way we like to do it around here. Bradley was especially excited and hung his up before anyone else. Is he my child or what???

Counting . . . down to Clark's birthday. Last year, less than a week after his birthday, Clark came into my room and asked, "Mom? How many more days until my birthday?" And I had to break it to him that his birthday was 351 days away. I thought that might discourage him, and he would forget about his birthday for awhile, but he didn't. Night after night for weeks and then months, Clark asked me for the current status of his birthday countdown. We passed into the 200's, and then the 100's, and finally, we were down to less than 20. It was actually kind of magical to watch the final days melt away until his birthday was literally the very next day. As you can imagine, the level of anticipation was out of this world.

Celebrating . . . Clark's 5th birthday! And then, the day was finally here! And Clark was giddy and ecstatic and bouncing off the walls. He woke up, looked at his birthday bucket by his bed, and shrieked, "An electric toothbrush?!?!?! Dad! Dad! I got an electric toothbrush!!!!!" It was that kind of excitement level for the whole day. He was thrilled with doughnuts for breakfast. He thought ramen noodles for lunch was such a treat. And an outing to the park was perfect. He had his cousin Rosie over to spend the night, and Mike made him a Star Wars cake. It was a good day in all respects . . . except that he had a little bit of "birthday entitlement," and some of his siblings couldn't handle him getting so much attention, and he couldn't handle any of them wanting to share in his bounty. To be honest, I was kind of relieved when the day was over and we could go back to just our regular Clarky Jo (who, I'm not kidding, asked me on the following day how many more days there were until his birthday . . . ).

Casting . . . a broken arm. Up until this month, no one in our family had ever broken a bone. But that is no longer the case. One Friday, Ian was bouncing on the trampoline (by himself, I might add) when he started crying uncontrollably. We didn't notice anything obviously wrong, but for the rest of the weekend, he seemed a little off. Then on Monday, he wouldn't let me even touch the side of his left arm without freaking out. I tested it a few times, waiting for him to be happily distracted with something else, and then I would gently rub my finger against it. Each time, he immediately got agitated and started to cry. So Mike took him to the doctor, and sure enough, he had a buckle fracture on his radius. When Mike brought him home with a bright green cast, the older boys acted like he was a celebrity: "What! Ian broke his arm?! Wow! This is the first broken bone in our family!" And then they proceeded to show him off to all of the neighbors. He started out with a short cast that covered his forearm, but the next morning he woke up and called out from his crib, "I took off my bandaid, Daddy!" So I had to take him back in and have the doctor recast it above the elbow. Luckily, he only has to have it for three weeks, so it isn't slowing him down too much (but I'm devastated because it was his left arm, which basically means we forced him to be right-handed, and he was the only chance I still had of having a left-handed child!).

Braving . . . the pool for the first time. We had a cold, rainy start to the summer, but that didn't stop the pool from opening or my kids from jumping into the water. (But it did me! I can't stand being cold!) They have since been to the pool almost every day, and the temperature finally got the hint and decided to join the party.

And that's a wrap on another month! What fun things have been going on in your part of the world?


  1. Oh wow so many exciting, fantastic things happening in your life!!

    1. Our family is at a good place right now, and we're enjoying it!

  2. Another set of amazing pictures documenting your memories!

    My nephew broke his arm at about the same age. He slipped on some wet grass and came over to my house to complain that his mean daddy made him stop watering the lawn (in the rain...). I noticed him using his left hand to do something, so I sneakily offered him a juice box on his right, and he reached across to take it with his left. And I immediately brought him home and made his dad take him to the doctor, because that boy had NEVER willingly used his left hand in his life. I feel you on the wish for a lefty kid, as I was also thwarted. (My second son was prominently left-footed at age three in soccer class, but it was a false hope.) But Ian can still pull it out -- I don't think a three week break can change things.

    1. I mentioned my disappointment to the pediatrician, and he said that if Ian was going to be left-handed, then the broken arm would do little to stop that. He said that it usually takes at least six months to switch left-right dominance. So I'm still holding out hope! As of right now, Ian is at least back to using his left hand as much as before, so maybe!


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