A Little of This and That in November

Dec 8, 2019

I noticed a distinct decrease in the number of photos I took this month. This always happens to me when the light starts to fade with the season. I find that the only really good time to take photos is between the hours of 11:00 and 2:00, and I almost always miss that window. Even so, I still managed to snap a few to go along with all of the things we had going on in November, including . . .

Preferring . . . Mike. Ian is a daddy's boy through and through, and it's been that way for at least the last nine months. He tags along with Mike everywhere--to the store, to do yard work, to make dinner, to take a nap. If Mike is around, Ian basically never chooses me for anything. He wants Mike, and only Mike, to get him dressed, read him a story, change his diaper, get him lunch, or put him down for a nap. Sometimes it drives me crazy because it would be much more convenient for me to get him, say, a drink of water, but even the suggestion causes him to scream for Mike. It's only when Mike goes to work that he finally acknowledges me. It's good I'm at least number two.

Making . . . a Christmas list. Clark has been getting big ideas for what he wants for Christmas. So far his list includes a grappling hook, jet pack, and vending machine. My other kids have always struggled with thinking of things they want. (Bradley almost always asks for something he already has.) But Clark doesn't have any problems coming up with ideas. However, he might be severely disappointed come Christmas morning.

Wishing . . . for a bike path. It's one thing that Salt Lake really needs. I've been wanting to ride my bike more, but sharing the road with cars makes me nervous. We have one path that was put in a few years ago, so Mike and I finally tried it out earlier in the month. But I was disappointed that it hugged the freeway the entire time, and it wasn't very long.

Going . . . to a high school play. My nephew was in the orchestra (on the piano) for his high school's production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat. I took Bradley and Maxwell to see it, and we loved it. In fact, on our way home, we turned on the soundtrack of the Broadway production of it, and we all agreed that we liked the voices of the high school kids better than the professionals. Steven came over and talked to us during intermission, and I can't tell you how grateful I am that my kids have this amazing cousin to look up to.

Exercising . . . consistently. At the beginning of the month, Mike and I decided it was time to begin a consistent exercise routine. We completely let it slip during the last several months, and we were starting to really feel it. We also decided to cut way down on sugar and treats. Since running outside isn't much of an option for me (I hate running in the cold and dark), I've been looking for some workout videos, ideally that can be done in twenty minutes or less. (One of the big deterrents for me with exercise is that it takes up time that I would rather be spending on something else. I want to get my heart rate up, sweat a little, and be done with it.) While doing a search on Amazon, I found a series of videos from Maggie Binkley, and I love them. They are pretty much exactly what I want: short and intense, and I love that she looks like a normal human and isn't trying to show off her body.

Judging . . . Reflections. I was asked to be a judge for the music entries in Reflections (a national school-wide competition celebrating the arts). My kids, who have participated in Reflections for years, were very impressed: "Wait, you're judging Reflections?!" I think it maybe dampened their confidence in the competition if someone as ordinary as their mom could be a judge.

Choosing . . . to be baptized. Due to Aaron being in the hospital, we had to postpone Bradley's baptism by several weeks, but it finally happened. We got permission for Aaron to attend, and he was even able to be one of the witnesses. We had some of our extended family there as well, although many chose to stay home because of colds and other illnesses, which we appreciated. My brother, Gordy, and our nephew, Steven, both gave talks; Mike baptized and confirmed Bradley. It was simple and quiet, and Bradley was radiantly happy.

Learning . . . about the new children and youth program in my church. For the past year, we have known that the Church was planning to discontinue their participation in the scouting program and replace it with a new endeavor for 8-18 year olds. We finally learned more about it this month, and it is fantastic. It's basically exactly the kind of program I would have designed myself. It is goal oriented, dividing up personal development into four categories: spiritual, intellectual, social, and physical. It is the type of program that can be universally applied no matter where you live in the world, what your economic status is, or what your home environment is like. It can be very individualized based on each person's own needs, talents, and desires. I love it. And I'm so looking forward to helping my boys with it and doing it myself. (That said, my heart tugged just a little when we had our final pack meeting this month. I know many boys and men who have been richly blessed by the scouting program . . . including my own sons, dad, and brothers.)

Selling . . . his truck. After five years of loving his perfect old truck, Mike decided to sell it. It was having some problems that he didn't feel were worth fixing, and he was kind of tired of driving a gas-guzzling, difficult-to-park truck to work every day. Instead, he bought an equally old Toyota Avalon from his little sister. Although the truck went to a good home (a cowboy boots clad teenager with a brand new license who loves to work on cars), Mike instantly regretted his decision. He has loved having a truck for hauling stuff around, and he's already missing it. I'd be surprised if he doesn't break down and buy another truck in a few months.

Waiting . . . for the leaves to drop. Every year it's the same thing. Our giant maple tree in the backyard just hangs onto its leaves while the weather is nice and then finally drops them all when it's December and no one wants to think about raking leaves anymore.

Playing . . . in the first snow of the season. We got our first real snow (meaning that it stuck to the ground and had to be shoveled) the week of Thanksgiving. It came down in big, fluffy flakes, and Aaron stood at the front window and said, "This is filling me with joy!"

Saying . . . no. If there's one thing that has changed in the last few months, it is that we have become very good at saying no. No to play dates, family parties, activities, favors, and requests. There have been a few things that have sneaked in with a yes, and those have been very intentional. This is just the phase we're in right now. We still appreciate being asked, but chances are, we'll have to say no.

Cooking . . . a Thanksgiving feast all on our own. For the first time ever, we didn't go anywhere for Thanksgiving, and we didn't invite anyone over either. It was just Mike and me and our boys. We decided it was just too stressful (for us and anyone else involved) to go somewhere. I thought it would feel a little lonely or too quiet or overwhelming to be solely responsible for all of the food. But it was heavenly. As we were planning the menu, we asked everyone for their favorite dishes. Then we divided it up, and each one made something (and okay, Mike filled in all of the gaps). Aaron made key lime pie, Maxwell made mashed potatoes, Bradley made a cheese ball, and Clark arranged the relish tray. :-) As we all sat down around the table, Clark asked if we could hold hands for the prayer. We did, and it was such a tender moment for me. We were unified in our desire to support and love Aaron, and we felt joy in sacrificing our regular traditions. I squeezed the hands of Clark and Ian and looked at the faces of everyone else and felt so grateful that they are mine. My one regret of the day was that we didn't have any sweet potatoes because I am the only one who likes them, and I didn't think I could eat an entire dish on my own. But the holiday didn't quite feel complete without them.

Having . . . dinner at Mike's parents' house. This has felt like such a treat for us, especially Aaron. We feel like it's a safe place to take Aaron since it's just Mike's mom and dad, and we know they'll tell us if they're sick. Plus, they live fairly close to us, so it's easy to go and be back home in a couple of hours. It's been so nice to have a change of pace, especially on Sundays, which can feel a little stifling.

Watching . . . the new movie about Mister Rogers. I loved it. If anyone ever finds out something bad about him, please don't tell me about it, okay? I like thinking that there was someone so genuinely good in the world.

Creating . . . a new game. Mike and the boys have been hard at work developing a new game that uses a combination of dice and a board. They tell me it's a little bit like Stratego. Chances are if we know you in real life, you have been roped into playing it as they try out new rules and tweak the game play. Don't worry, Maxwell already has big plans to manufacture and market it.

Making . . . a Christmas playlist. I spent way too much time over the Thanksgiving break gathering up songs for a playlist for this Christmas. But it was worth it because I landed on a great blend of new and old, sacred and fun, and we've been listening to it almost nonstop ever since. 

And I guess that wraps it up for another month!


  1. You basically did design the Children and Youth program yourself! When I learned about it my thought was "this is exactly what Amy has been doing with her boys." Is your Christmas playlist shareable? I'd love to listen. We have Spotify. Loved reading this whole post!

  2. We missed all of you at Thanksgiving, but understand the tender feelings that come when you are just with your spouse and children and loving the peace and unity. Your line "We were unified in our desire to support and love Aaron, and we felt joy in sacrificing our regular traditions" made me weep. You and Mike are great parents and we love all of you.

  3. The part about your Thanksgiving was so tender it made me weepy. I feel certain you will all remember this season of sacrifice with so much fondness.

  4. Loved your comments! God bless you all!

  5. You guys are seriously amazing with all you do and accomplish--and you make it look so good too! I'm inspired. My goal is to someday have a fraction of your drive and vision. I'm so glad Aaron is doing well and that the rest of you are too.

  6. I've never made a cheese ball! I think I want Bradley's recipe. I'm glad you had a happy Thanksgiving, and best wishes for a great December.


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