A Little of This and That in December

Jan 18, 2020

We enjoyed December very much. Because we were somewhat limited with what we could do and had to say no to some of the things we would normally say yes to, it lost some of the frantic, fast-paced energy of other years. I think I need more Decembers like this one. We filled our time with . . .

Spending . . . seven hours making an igloo. At the beginning of the month, we were buried in snow. It was amazing packing snow, and Aaron spent three days constructing an igloo. I was glad he felt like being out in the cold and sunshine for so long. Also, he was perhaps the only sixth grader playing in the snow on a Monday morning. We have to take advantage of these perks while we can.

Procrastinating . . . STEM projects. Both Clark and Maxwell did STEM projects this year (it was optional for Bradley's class, so he opted out). When Mike was asking Clark if he had any science questions that they could answer through a project, Clark said, "How did Jesus make the earth?" That was a little too big for a weekend project, so he went with  a bubbles experiment instead, and Maxwell did something with electricity. You can probably tell that I was not the one to help them with these projects. My job was nagging them to get started with their research, which they finally did . . . the weekend before they were due.

Getting . . . a surprise Christmas present. One day my mom came up to our house to babysit the boys while I was with Aaron at an appointment. When we got home, Ian and Clark were very excited about a present under the tree. It turned out, the present was actually for me. My mom knows about my love for nativities and had decided to get me an adorable nesting doll nativity . . . just because. She brought it early in the month so we could enjoy it for all of December. It was the most delightful, unexpected surprise, and I actually had the perfect shelf for it, so I guess it was meant to be.

Crafting . . . Christmas ornaments. For years now, ever since Aaron was little, we spend some time each December making new ornaments for our tree. This year, I turned to a beloved old-school craft from my childhood: plastic canvas. I used to make all kinds of things with this stuff--Barbie furniture, a tissue box cover to match my room, wall hangings, etc. I cut out Christmas shapes for the boys, and then they stitched their designs onto them. Aaron designed his own BYU ornament, Max created a Santa, Bradley stitched a gingerbread man, and Clark made a bell. Then they made ornaments for their teachers as well. Bradley is my crafty kid, so he especially loved it, and I think they turned out great.

Speaking . . . at Incanta's Christmas concert. Last year, I participated in a brand new women's choir. It was fun but also extremely stressful. So I let it go this year. However, in November my friend, Brooke (who founded the choir), asked me if I would be willing to be one of the speakers at the Christmas concert. She wondered if I would share the story about Maxwell being a bone marrow match for Aaron. I agreed and turned this blog post into something a bit more Christmasy. It was a privilege to be able to share a part of Aaron's story against the backdrop of breathtakingly gorgeous music, especially because it was followed by three of the sweetest lullabies, and these added tender poignancy to my words.

Finishing . . . two big knitting projects. Because knitting is such a slow craft, there are some months where I knit a lot but don't actually complete anything. But then there are other months (like this one) where I finally get to see the fruits of my labor. It felt so good to bind off on a couple of really big projects: a cabled red sweater (that I had been working on since August) and a lace cowl (that I had been working on since March). Of course, I wasn't knitting exclusively on either of these things (in fact, I took a big break from the lace cowl in the fall because I didn't have the concentration capacity to handle it). Both projects turned out just exactly as I imagined them, and I have been wearing them a ton ever since. (Now I need to choose another big project (or two) to have on my needles. It always feels good to have an ongoing big project.)

Enjoying . . . a low-key holiday season. Because we had to say no to a lot of things, we had one of the most relaxed, stress-free Decembers on record. I kind of loved it. And we still managed to do a few of our favorite traditions: the Christkindlmarkt (just Mike and me), our favorite live Nativity (Aaron stayed home), the Johnson family party (Aaron wore a mask), and Frozen 2 at the movie theater (we wiped down all of our seats and had Aaron sit in the back corner with a mask--we didn't look like paranoid parents at all).

Getting . . . my dream calling. For the last year, I've been helping in the young women organization in my church. It was a challenging calling for many reasons, but after going to camp over the summer, I finally felt like I had found my place. I enjoyed spending time with the girls and love each one of them. I anticipated that I would probably be with them for at least another year, possibly more. But then, completely out of the blue, the bishop called me one day and asked if I would serve as the primary pianist. This has been a job that I have always wanted but have never had. So even though it was disappointing to leave the young women after such a short time, I couldn't possibly say no to the thing I've always wanted to do. I'm still not sure how or why it happened, but I'm so grateful to get to be in primary with my kids and help with the music. It's going to be fun.

Exclaiming . . . over favorite presents. We couldn't have asked for a nicer Christmas Day. We spent the day at home--unwrapping gifts, trying out new games, and enjoying the new snow (Salt Lake delivered a last-minute white Christmas again!). Among the many delights, there were a few standouts: a can of Easy Cheese for Clark (turns out it was something he had always wanted, and to have his own can with no restrictions for its use was basically a dream come true for him); a little stuffed dragon for Clark (this was a whim purchase on Christmas Eve, and it ended up being his very favorite gift that he has played with every day since); a big dot-to-dot book for Bradley (he spent most of the late afternoon on Christmas working on one); a cookbook for Max (as well as his own mixing spoon); a Playmobil garbage truck for Ian (the thrill of dumping trash into the back of the truck did not get old for a very long time); a Hygge survival kit for me from my sister, Anna (she wrapped up a giant stack of presents, and it was so fun opening each one and seeing how it fit into the Hygge theme--she knows me well); and finally, a hover board for Aaron (it was the only thing he asked for (besides socks), and it did not disappoint--nothing quite compares to getting exactly what you've been dreaming of for over a month). After all was said and done, Mike and I only forgot to buy one gift (a whittling book for Max to go along with his pocket knife--we searched for it frantically on Christmas Eve but to no avail), and we only had one accidental purchase (a Playmobil school bus that somehow showed up on our porch--we'll save it for Ian's birthday).

Sledding . . . on Christmas Day. We didn't get a ton of snow on Christmas, but the mountains did, so Mike took the boys into the canyon to go sledding. I stayed home with Ian (who was taking a nap) and sat by the front window, knitting my Christmas ornament (see below) and watching a Christmas movie. The afternoon left everyone feeling happy and satisfied.

Continuing . . . with my personal tradition of knitting an ornament on Christmas Day. Mike laughs that I'm calling this a "tradition," since technically, this is only the second year I've done it (although I did knit an ornament in 2017 as well, just not on Christmas Day). But I think I'm safe calling it a tradition because I anticipate it continuing for many years to come. An ornament is a perfect little project to complete in one day, and it feels so festive to work on something that will be hung on the tree when it's done. Plus, each one later reminds me of that specific Christmas, which I love. This year, I made a cute little gnome. It had been a long time since I had made anything with double pointed needles and little parts, and I loved the process.

Baking . . . up a storm. Max has fallen in love with cooking (and baking, specifically). It's an interest that has steadily been growing for the past year. I decided to get Max a cookbook for Christmas, and he has already used it so much. Over the break, he made snickerdoodles, zebra cake, banana bread, and monkey bread. Mike or I were available for questions, but he pretty much made everything by himself. (Now if only I could get him to clean up the aftermath so independently . . . ) I told Mike, "If Maxwell asks to bake something, say yes. It always puts him in such a good mood." And it's true. I can often hear him humming and singing in the kitchen as he mixes up batter or rolls out dough. And then he practically bursts with pride (while feigning total nonchalance) as we all try his creation. It has given him a kind of confidence I haven't seen before.

Reaching . . . Day +100. Aaron did it! He made it to Day +100. The BMT team gave him the all clear to eat all of his favorite foods again, and that very day, we got take out from Jimmy Johns for lunch and pizza from The Pie for dinner. It's like Christmas every day for him as he gets to eat formerly banned foods. I thought he was going to die of happiness recently when he got to put lettuce on his chicken sandwich.

Taking . . . Bradley to Hale Center Theater's production of A Christmas Carol. We have a tradition to take each of our boys to see this play the year that they turn eight. This year, it was Bradley's turn. We went on the 26th, and it was so nice to have something fun to look forward to after Christmas. We had front row seats this time, which meant we could see the actual tears in Marley's eyes but also made the costume makeup look more garish than usual. I loved watching Bradley at the end of the play. He was practically bursting with excitement as Ebeneezer Scrooge began to right all of his wrongs. He loved some of the lines so much that he repeated them to himself, and I had to remind him not to be too loud. This has been such a fun tradition with our kids. It's weird for me to think that the next time we go, it will be with Clark, and that means he'll be eight.

Ringing . . . in 2020! We spent part of New Year's Eve at my parents' house and then came home for the remainder of the night so that Ian could go to bed.

That pretty much sums up our month all the way up to 11:59 pm on New Year's Eve, so there isn't anything left to tell. I hope all of you had a wonderful holiday season as well. 

1 comment:

  1. Nice timing bringing you up to the last minute of 2019! Lovely pictures as usual. I'm so happy to see Aaron hitting these milestones!


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