A Little of This and That in May

Jun 7, 2020

As I look back over the month of May, I am legitimately shocked that all of these things happened within a few weeks of each other. The activities that happened in the first half feel like soooooo long ago. I guess moving will do that to you. It seems like we stepped into a different life. This month found us . . .

Catching . . . snakes. We took another little weekend trip to the cabin. We are so lucky Mike's parents have this little place so we can have a change of scenery. The weather was so lovely this time, and we spent many hours outside enjoying it. There is a little stream that runs past the cabin, and my kids always have so much fun floating things down it or tossing pebbles into it. But this time, it produced an even greater gift: three garter snakes--small, medium, and large (or baby, teenager, and mom, as the boys labeled them). These three snakes provided hours of entertainment. The boys released them into the water or grass and watched them slither around before re-catching them. They let them slide between their fingers and over their hands and arms. They built a makeshift terrarium so they could observe them without fear of them getting away. Basically, it was just the best afternoon for them. When it came time to let them go, Maxwell begged and begged to take one home and acted like it was the greatest injustice of his life when I said no. (And, in case you were wondering, no, I did not hold, or even touch, any of the snakes.)

Holding . . . a virtual piano recital. Several months ago, I planned and scheduled a spring recital for my piano students. It was supposed to be on May 7th. I realized many weeks ago that it would probably not be able to happen as planned, so I decided to switch to a virtual recital instead. My students still prepared and memorized their pieces as they normally would, and then they each recorded themselves in their own homes. They sent the videos to me, and I (actually Mike) compiled them all into one video that could then be watched from start to finish, just as you might attend a normal recital. It actually worked out really well--with the caveat that I think it ended up being rather nerve wracking for some to perform in front of a camera. Even though you had the option of recording your piece as many times as you wanted, I discovered that the pressure mounted with each repetition, and so recording more than once wasn't overly beneficial. It was also a good exercise for me in letting go of control because even though I sent very detailed instructions on how to record, people chose to do their own thing, and I just had to be okay with it.

Feeling . . . so spoiled on Mother's Day. The night before, Mike asked me, "What are your expectations for Mother's Day?" I told him I had absolutely none. In fact, with all of the busyness surrounding buying a house, I'd pretty much forgotten about it entirely (hence, my own mom got her present two weeks late). He said, "That's good," leading me to think he hadn't thought about it much either. So I was quite surprised when I received two necklaces with the boys' names engraved on them, as well as a few other presents, that were definitely not last minute gifts. It was obvious that he was thinking about Mother's Day weeks in advance, and that made everything feel even more special. Clark made me a flower headband out of paper, and the day was peppered with cute notes, yummy food, and lots of hugs. My non-existent expectations were far exceeded.

Receiving . . . the news that a spot in the gifted program opened up for Clark. Last month, I shared that Clark was on the waiting list for the program. I hoped that enough people would decline their invitations that there would be room for him, and that's what ended up happening.

Visiting . . . Alisa's grave. This was such a peaceful, beautiful afternoon in an otherwise crazy month. I have always loved wandering around cemeteries, studying the names and dates of people I've never met and wondering about their lives, and I was surprised by how much my kids enjoyed it, too. It is hard to believe that Alisa has been gone for five years. So much has happened during that time that we would have loved to share with her.

Inspecting . . . our new home. I find home inspections rather depressing, albeit informative. By the end of it, we had a long list of everything that was wrong with the home we wanted to buy. Some of it we already knew (sagging fence, unsafe balcony), but some of it was a surprise (radon in the basement, an old roof). As the inspector tapped through all of his incriminating photos, I saw time and money disappearing in a blink. But here's the thing: if you buy a house that is over fifty years old, it is bound to come with a few problems. If we didn't have these specific issues, then there would be others. And at least we know what we're dealing with upfront so we can budget and prioritize. Even though it sounded like a lot to us, our inspector assured us that the home was average, or even above average, compared to what he sees every day, so that was somewhat comforting.

Closing . . . on our new house! Everything went so smoothly with the purchase of this house. The sellers were accommodating and easy to work with. The financing and loan went quickly so that we were actually able to close ten days sooner than expected. It was a joy to work with the same realtor we had when we bought our first home six years ago. He has been in the realty business for sixty years, and we trust his intuition and expertise so much. He has become a dear friend to us over the years, and we felt so blessed to have him help us through the process.

Learning . . . how to parallel park. It was one of my goals for 2020, so for a romantic Friday date night, Mike and I headed to the church parking lot. He parked his car and spaced a stack of boxes a car's length behind it, and then he guided me through wriggling into the tight spot with our van. I went through the whole process several times and only bumped into the boxes once. However, I think it's going to take more than one lesson before I feel confident enough to do it downtown in real life.

Packing . . . up our entire house. I hope the memory of this week lasts me a long time so that I don't try to move again! I'll admit, we didn't take the most efficient route--we mostly did it ourselves with a pickup truck and our van, and that ended up being a lot of trips. There was one day in particular where I thought I was going to have a breakdown: we were halfway out of our old house and halfway into the new house, and it just felt like there was chaos everywhere I looked. But luckily, as we continued to plug away at it, the old house emptied out, and we stopped making things worse and could instead start making them better. Aaron, Maxwell, and Bradley were all extremely helpful, and Mike and I both agreed that we couldn't have done it without them.

Paying . . . someone to clean our old house. The last time we moved six years ago, I vowed to myself that I would never again clean a house I was moving out of. And I stayed true to my word. After we moved out all of our stuff, Veronica came over with her cleaning supplies. I went back to the new house to unpack boxes (and do laundry, which never stops, even when you move). Six hours later, Veronica was done, and our old house was transformed. It was seriously some of the best money I've ever spent.

Combining . . . imaginations for truly epic adventures. I'm so glad Clark and Ian have each other because they are two kids who were cut from the same cloth. Every day, they wake up and become someone new: a couple of superheroes, a dad and his son, a dog and his master, a horse and a cowboy. They dress up and give each other different names and completely immerse themselves in whatever they are playing. It gives me so much joy to watch them together.

Finding . . . renters for our old house. And not just any renters, but Mike's cousin, David, and his sweet family! The thought of renting our home was giving me some real anxiety. I just didn't know how to go about finding trustworthy, conscientious, responsible people. And while renting our home seemed like a good idea in theory, the reality is that with the wrong people there, it could turn into a financially draining nightmare. While all of these worries were going through my head, Mike was doing the dishes one night when he suddenly had the thought, I wonder if David would want to rent our house? Although we knew David and his family had moved to Salt Lake last summer for David to do his residency, we didn't have any reason to suspect that they were looking to move. But Mike called David anyway, and lo and behold, they were looking for a new place! What's more, their lease ended on June 1st, just a couple of weeks after we closed on our new house. The whole thing felt divinely orchestrated to me, and we are so grateful that David and Emilee can now enjoy the home and neighborhood we love so much.

Waving . . . to our teachers in a reverse parade. We made it to the last day of school. The teachers all stood on the sidewalk at the top of the school, and we drove down the street waving to them and telling them to "have a good summer!" and "we'll see you in the fall!" It was the strangest school year ever, but we made it through, mostly because these teachers rose to the challenge and put their hearts into virtual teaching.

Meeting . . . new neighbors. I thought the pandemic was going to make it really difficult to meet people in our new neighborhood, but our neighbors have truly surprised us. They've gone out of their way to pull over and say hello if we're outside, stop to chat if they're on a walk, bring us dinner and treats, text with information about the ward and neighborhood, and wave and smile across the street. We were very fortunate that there was a neighborhood walkabout scheduled on our very first evening in our new home, and that made it possible for us to meet quite a few people all at once. For the most part, everyone has been very respectful of Covid-19 boundaries (with the possible exception of two older couples who walked right into our entryway bearing gifts of food), and it has done my heart good to feel so loved right from the start. I hope I can reciprocate to some neighbors in the future.

Celebrating . . . Clark's sixth birthday. He had been excitedly counting down the days for over six months. It was thrilling when the number was small enough that he no longer had to ask Siri but was able to do the math himself. He had very specific requests for food, presents, cake, activities, etc. That is very typical of Clark. He likes things to be just so. He had been holding covert conferences with Mike for months about what he wanted his birthday cake to look like. He wouldn't let any of the rest of us know what it was. Luckily, Mike was able to bring his vision to life, and we were all surprised when he cut into a cake that looked like the Mandalorian helmet and a bunch of Baby Yodas spilled out of it. Clark was ecstatic. I also organized a little bike ride with a couple of Clark's friends. It was surprisingly stressful because it was harder than I thought it was going to be to keep these friends six feet apart, but what did I expect after two months of not seeing each other?

Building . . . bunkbeds. When we moved, we decided not to bring Ian's crib with us. It had lasted through all five boys, and it was pretty trashed. Plus, at three years old, there was no reason that Ian couldn't move into a bed . . . except that we didn't actually have a bed for him. Mike had long been saying that he wanted to build a new set of bunkbeds. He had already built one set a couple of years ago, and it was actually much sturdier than the manufactured set we already owned. So building a matching set was one of the first things he did after we moved in. The boys all helped paint it, and now Bradley and Ian have a new bed.

Getting . . . wet on hot days. The month of May ended with a heat wave. Our neighborhood pool hasn't opened up yet (and even when it does, we're not sure if we'll feel safe to go), so we made some water fun in the front yard, thanks to a birthday gift from Grandma Jill and Grandpa Paul. I anticipate this getting even more use in the next two months.

That's it for this month. If you were hoping to see a bit more of the inside of our house, you'll have to wait. It has been fairly slow getting rooms put together. Even though our new house is bigger, our stuff isn't fitting into it in the same way, so it is taking some time. But it's giving us plenty to do in June!


  1. Best wishes on your new house! I hope you and the boys (all boys, no babies left!) make many happy memories in that!

    My parallel parking skills wax and wane. I know the theory, but avoid the practice. I do remember when my dad lived nearby and I visited daily to help with his medication and his street had parallel parking. I went to the city and had to park in a tiny space, managed on my first try, and then hopped out to see someone I used to know who was very impressed.

    But then my dad moved and I lost my skill. I was attempting to squeeze into a spot at the library and a complete stranger asked if he wanted me to let him do it. And he jumped into my car and parked it for me.

  2. Amy
    Just love reading your your doings as always!!
    wow a new house!! and I love the yard it looks so inviting for active boys, so interesting. And how wonderful to have family look after your old home.


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