A Little of This and That in June

Jul 7, 2019


June was bliss. Pure bliss. I wouldn't have changed a thing about it. Now we're into July, which is crazy busy and packed full of trips and reunions and activities, and I'm just so glad we had June to really soak in what summer is all about. You might have found us . . .

Creating . . . giant bubbles. We've tried giant bubbles before, but this formula was the golden ticket. The boys stuck their sticks and string into the solution, and then held them in the right direction of the breeze, and the bubbles grew and expanded and gently floated away. It was amazing. It entertained us for a good hour, and we didn't stop until we ran out of the solution.


Reading . . . a ton! Our family summer reading program is in full swing, and so far the boys have been raking in the prizes. The first week, Maxwell read 22 hours, and the second week Aaron read 24. Popular prizes this year have been iTunes songs, popsicle coupons for the pool, and extra minutes of screen time. Aaron burned through the Series of Unfortunate Events, and Max is still plugging away on the many Warriors series. Even Clark has been logging away the hours, and consequently, his reading has been rapidly improving.

Eating . . . doughnuts. The first Friday of the month brought National Doughnut Day, and we celebrated with a box of melt-in-your-mouth glazed doughnuts. This is not the only day of the year that we eat doughnuts (are you kidding??), but it's funny how my kids look forward to this day with great anticipation. This year also brought a well-timed lesson for Clark. We picked up enough doughnuts for everyone in the family to have two each. Clark took his first one, and then ran off to the neighbors' to invite his two friends over for a doughnut . . . except that we hadn't bought enough to feed all of the neighborhood kids as well. When they showed up, we told Clark that he would need to split his second doughnut in half to give to them. Well, that wasn't his plan at all, and he went crazy at the realization that he was going to miss his other doughnut. I was actually so glad it happened exactly as it did because it was a perfect real-life lesson. Clark is often very rash and spontaneous and doesn't think through consequences. Of course I want him to be generous, but in this situation, he just expected someone else to give up their doughnut for his friends instead of him. I hope next time he will talk through his plans with us instead of heedlessly making promises he doesn't actually want to keep.


Suffering . . . through a case of swimmer's ear. It's kind of surprising that with all of our swimming, this was our first time dealing with this infamous side effect. And I think Aaron (the unlucky victim) hopes he never has to deal with it again. Even though we took him to the doctor and got him on antibiotics pretty quickly after the initial onset of pain, it still took him a good five days to recover. If anyone has any great tips for guarding against it in the future, we are all ears (wink, wink).

Reaching . . . the terrible twos. We thought we might get past this phase unscathed, but apparently Ian was just a late bloomer. In June, he turned into the most contrary, obstinate, bossy child I ever did see, and it's taking a toll on all of us. But he makes up for it when I put him down for a nap and he says, "I love you soooooo much."


Writing . . . for the Johnson Times. At the beginning of summer break, Aaron and Maxwell decided to start a newspaper. They each created a comic strip (Aaron: Hobo Joe; Maxwell: Monsters) and took turns writing a couple of articles for each issue. They kept up a daily circulation for about a week before it fizzled, but I quite enjoyed it while it lasted.

Going . . . to see Matilda at our favorite local theater. A year ago, we took Aaron, Maxwell, and Bradley to see Newsies there as one of the rewards for making progress on their summer goals, and at that time, the 2019 schedule was already out. They saw that Matilda would be performing this summer, and they were wild to see it. Out of all of the books they've ever read, Matilda is quite possibly their very favorite. They have listened to it probably at least one hundred times. So we decided it could be their first goals reward of the summer. But as our ticket date got closer, I began to feel less enthusiastic about it because my sister-in-law had seen it with her girls and given it a less-than-glowing review. She said it hadn't kept the Roald Dahl feel, and I knew if that was true, it was the one thing I wouldn't be able to look past. But the opening song didn't give that impression at all. And as the play progressed, the more I loved it: the vibrant, whimsical sets, the surprising dissonant notes in the songs, and the highly stylized acting all contributed to bring Matilda to life. But best of all, it exuded that dark and twisty, but in the end triumphant atmosphere I've come to expect (and love) from Roald Dahl. The cast was full of children, and I was so impressed by all of them that when the play was over, I jumped to my feet because I wanted to make sure my standing ovation was for them, too. Maybe my expectations were just low, but it far surpassed them in every way. I love when that happens.


Shaving . . . five seconds off his breast stroke. Aaron had a swim meet and competed in the 100 freestyle, 50 breast stroke, and 50 backstroke. He did well in all three, but he was especially excited to take five seconds off his old 50 breast stroke time.

Chancing . . . a thunderstorm in favor of a hike. We had planned to go on a hike one evening, but as we were getting ready to leave, our valley was surrounded by dark clouds. So we ditched our planned hike and headed for the one bright patch of sky on the horizon, which turned out to be the Mueller Park Trail. We were able to get in a decent hike before the clouds caught up to us, and we reached our car just as the first rain drops began to fall, which meant we timed it just about perfectly.


Gaining . . . new swimming skills. Clark did two weeks of swimming lessons at the beginning of June and learned how to push off from the wall in a back float, move his arms in a big way, and take side breaths.

Celebrating . . . Father's Day. Ever since Aaron and Maxwell were small, we have filled out little questionnaires for Father's Day. I come up with different questions every year and then interview the boys to find out their answers (I do this even after they are perfectly capable of reading and writing on their own). Then we add a photo and drawing on the other side and I laminate the whole thing. My kids love reading back through their answers from years ago, and it's become a fun little keepsake. This year was Ian's first time to participate, and his answers were . . . unique. The evening of Father's Day, we went over to my parents' house for dinner, so I got to celebrate my own dad as well.



Tasting . . . chocolate ice cream. Just for fun, we did a blind taste test of six different brands of chocolate ice cream and then ranked them. The contestants were Kroger, Cheap, Hรคagen-Dazs, Graeters, Bryers, and Howdy Homemade (a local ice cream shop). The clear winner was Howdy Homemade, but it was surprisingly difficult to differentiate between quality once your palette was saturated by chocolate, and I'm embarrassed to admit that the Kroger was equally delicious to me.


Hiking . . . the "Y." Later in the month, we went down to Provo to hike our beloved Y Mountain. The boys had seen the Y many times, but this was their first time hiking the trail. We chose a day when the temperature had dropped by twenty degrees, which was a good thing since that trail is in full sun the entire time. It is a relatively short hike but very steep, and I wondered if Clark was going to be able to handle it. But he did amazing! In fact, the only child that we had any trouble with at all was Ian (who shouldn't have complained since he was getting a free ride on Mike's back). We hiked to both the bottom of the Y and the top. I think all of my kids were surprised that going back down the trail was actually harder (or at least more painful) than going up. Mike and I both had achy knees by the time we reached the bottom. We're getting old. Afterwards we went to Brick Oven (a popular Provo pizza joint), and we all agreed that ice cold root beer never tasted so good.




Seeing . . . my first manuscript published! Okay, not my manuscript. Do you remember that I read and review manuscripts for a small publishing company? Well one of the first manuscripts I read (which was about 18 months ago) was published this month! It is called Dreams as Revelation, and it was so fun to page through it and see what it grew up to be! Even though I only had a very small part in it, it still gave me a little thrill to hold the hard copy in my hands.

Touring . . . a few homes. My mom had tickets to Parade of Homes this year. I had never been before, so I went to see a few houses with her. We picked the biggest ones, as one does, one of which was over 22,000 square feet and came with an indoor racket ball court, two swimming pools, a huge gym, a theater, and an indoor tennis court. And all of that, but only the tiniest little loft with a few measly bookshelves. I know! Definitely not the house for me.


Taking . . . a knitting class with my sister, Anna. I had been wanting to learn the brioche technique but it seemed really difficult and intimidating. So when I saw that my local yarn shop was offering a class teaching this technique, I jumped on it. And then I convinced my sister to take it with me so that I would have some company. We practiced the technique by making a simple hat (which incorporated both one-color and two-color brioche). True to the rumors, it was a little bit tricky at first (it kind of breaks some of the most basic knitting rules, which requires a bit of a mind shift), but once I got the hang of it, it wasn't difficult at all. And it creates a very bouncy fabric that is a delight to squish! I'm so glad I could take the class with Anna. It was so great to spend time with her, and I loved working on the same project and being able to check in with her. It makes me think we should choose another pattern to work on together.


Switching . . . bedrooms. For the last two and a half years, Maxwell has been sharing a bedroom with Clark, and he was ready for a change. So we did a little bedroom switcheroo, and now Aaron and Maxwell are together, and Bradley and Clark are together. (Ian is still in his own room.) I was a little nervous about how it would all go down, but so far, I think it's been a positive change. I can remember rearranging my room when I was kid, and it always seemed to breathe new life into a tired old space. This had the same effect.

Catching . . . a fish. We don't have the greatest luck with fishing, but the boys are always eager to give it another try. Mike sometimes checks to see if any of the lakes have been recently restocked, so when he saw Silver Lake on the list, we decided to head up there for the evening. It's one of our favorite spots anyway, but it was an added bonus when Bradley caught a lovely rainbow trout. And that led to Maxwell finally fulfilling his dream to gut a fish.


Watching . . . the miraculous metamorphosis process. We bought a cup of five caterpillars and had so much fun watching them transform throughout the month. They started out as the tiniest, itty-bitty caterpillars and got noticeably bigger every day. Then, one by one, they spun silk and hung from the lid in a J-shape. We were fortunate to catch all five of the caterpillars turn into chrysalides, which was kind of unbelievable since it only takes about ninety seconds from start to finish. Two of the chrysalides formed at exactly the same time. It was one of the most amazing things I've ever seen. Then, exactly a week later, all five emerged as pretty painted lady butterflies. We watched them for a few hours, and even kept one of them overnight, and then let all of them fly away into the wide blue sky. We loved watching the whole process so much. I'm sure we'll do it again.


Enduring . . . Ian's antics. Just to give you a sampling of the kind of mischief we're dealing with, one day I went into the bathroom to put in my contacts only to find my contact case already open and my contacts missing, supposedly rinsed down the drain. Another day, Ian was playing in the car, and I was doing things in the house. I heard him come inside, push a chair over to the dryer, grab a set of keys from the basket, go back outside, and by the time I chased him out there, he had inserted the CORRECT key into the ignition. He's up to no good these days.


Reaping . . . a harvest. Our garden has been quite successful so far. The spinach, peas, basil, rhubarb, and raspberries have already been producing, and we've been trying to keep up with everything as well as we can. It looks like we will also have a crop of zucchini, tomatoes, blackberries, green beans, carrots, beets, onions, watermelon, squash,and possibly peppers (they're still looking a little weak). It is so fun to go out to the garden and check up on the progress of everything.

Overcoming . . . his fear of the water. Ian had a rough entry into the pool this year. The big boys were a little overzealous when he wore his floaty for the first time. They yanked him away from the step to try to show him how well he could float and instead he felt super insecure and unsafe. For the next few weeks, whether he had his floaty on or not, he refused to leave the top step of the pool. Sometimes I would take him out with me, but he just screamed the entire time until I put him back on the step. But little by little, I coaxed him out, and he is finally happily bobbing around in the water.


There's more. Of course there's more. But I can't mention everything, and that's a pretty good recap for now.


How's your summer going so far?

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