A Little of This and That in June

Jul 5, 2020

In some ways, this summer is completely different from past years, and in other ways, we've managed to hold onto many of our favorites activities and traditions, including . . .

Celebrating . . . National Doughnut Day. You'll remember from past years that this is our favorite fake holiday to celebrate. By the time Mike picked up doughnuts from our favorite local shop, they only had chocolate left, but I didn't hear any complaints.

Starting . . . the summer reading program. We kicked off our family summer reading program at the end of May. This is our fifth summer doing it, and my kids look forward to it every year. We've had a wide variety of prizes in the past, but this year, I've stuck to just snacks and treats. This is Clark's first year participating fully in the program, and he's on a roll. He just finished kindergarten, so he only has to read one hour for a prize instead of two, but he's doing all of the reading all on his own and averaging between 8 and 10 hours every week, which seems pretty good to me.

Splashing . . . in the rain. We received three straight days of rain at the beginning of the month. Some of this rain was accompanied by hurricane-like gales and thunder and lightning. But when the storm part of it eased up and it was just the rain, the boys all ran out to play in it. They were completely drenched in about two seconds, but they didn't seem to notice or care. They loved standing in the gutter and letting the water rush past their feet. It was moving so fast, I was a little worried Ian might get swept off his feet and carried down the street. Afterwards, they came inside and huddled around the fire.

Grieving . . . the loss of four months' worth of family photos and videos. And not just any months, but July-October of last year--the very months when Aaron was diagnosed, Max was found to be a perfect match, the bone marrow transplant happened, and Aaron spent a month in the hospital. In other words, they were some pretty important months in the history of our family. And the photos and videos are all, inexplicably, gone--disappeared without a trace. Mike's theory is that my phone was synced up to one of our old phones that the boys use for listening to books, and one of the kids (probably Ian) deleted every single photo and video from those months. When I first noticed they were missing, I immediately went to the recently deleted folder, but they were gone from there as well. So, gone from my phone, the old phone, and iCloud. It just breaks my heart. I want those videos back so badly. I feel like I've been going through all of the stages of grief as I've come to terms with their disappearance. Everyone is always saying, "Make sure you back up your pictures and videos!" And now I'll add my sad tale to the evidence for why this is so important. The good news (and this is actually very good news) is that all of my photos actually were backed up in another program. So even though the loss of videos is still a really big loss, it could have been even worse.

Finishing . . . a summer sweater. A year ago, I bought some yarn at Purl Soho when Mike and I were in New York. I've been searching for the perfect pattern to use it with and finally found a cute summer top I thought would work. I combined two different sizes so that I could get the kind of neckline I wanted. And I made it slightly cropped so that I could wear it with skirts and wide-leg linen pants. The yarn I used has some linen in it along with wool and alpaca. This makes it really lightweight and drapey. The pattern itself is also really open and loose, so it's perfect for spring and summer. I love it so much.

Playing . . . a hymn for church. We are continuing to have home church, and it has brought so many unique opportunities and experiences for our kids, including Aaron playing the opening hymn one Sunday. If you play the piano, then you know it is a major accomplishment when you reach the level of being able to not only play a four-part hymn but do it while people are singing with you. I'm really proud of Aaron.

Making . . . goals. Because of the move, we were a couple of weeks late with planning out our goals for the summer, but the boys have been hard at work on them ever since, and they have accomplished so much. It helps that we are not going to the pool or on any family vacations, so we have loads of time every day (for better or worse). I'll try to get up a post about them, although I don't know if anyone is very interested in them anymore.

Building . . . shelves. Mike has been hard at work installing shelves in pretty much every closet of this new house. It has given us so much more storage space! I am so grateful for his handy skills and that I was finally able to unpack (most of) the rest of the boxes.

Having . . . socially distant playdates. During the month of June, Max had regular play dates with one of his best friends. Each time, they sat on the porch and talked for a couple of hours. Sometimes they played Battleship or House of Fire, but most of the time they just talked. I've never seen anything quite like it. I never worry about them breaking the six-foot barrier because they're really quite content to just sit and chat. Also this month, Clark got to go to a little birthday celebration for one of his friends. His mom set up a craft table and put Clark at one end and Jude at the other, and they had a grand time.

Reading . . . up a storm. Unfortunately, this is not referencing me, but Aaron. He has been averaging a book a day since summer break started, and I seriously cannot keep him in books. Luckily, he's the least picky reader out of all of my kids, and he will read pretty much anything I give him. This increase in reading also means that he is raking in the summer reading prizes and consequently has a snack stash that is constantly being replenished. When I asked him how he is able to get into a new book so quickly, he said that for the first few pages, he just reads for prizes, and that helps him clear the initial hurdle, and then he doesn't need any motivation after that. Sometimes I laugh when I think back to his time in the hospital and remember my worries that he was never going to enjoy reading again.

Heading . . . to the cabin for another brief reprieve. We went on a little hike, and I had fun identifying the many wildflowers along the trail. We also were so glad to have Mike's sister, Sonja, and her kids join us on the second day, especially since it rained most of the time, and the boys would have been so bored without cousins to play with.

Getting . . . a new roof. It was not the most exciting thing to drop a boatload of money on right away on our new house, but it needed to be done. We knew before we bought the house that the roof needed to be replaced because there were two layers of shingles where there should have only been one, and water had sneaked its way under the shingles causing damage to the wood underneath. So we had to replace everything (thumbs down), but now we should be good to go for a long time (thumbs up). We had a little bit of drama while the roof was being replaced. Because the pitch of the roof is so low, everything that was happening was extremely close to the actual ceiling. We noticed some damage to the drywall with all of the thumping and pounding and hammering. I was kind of upset about it, but it was nothing to what happened next: one of the workers slipped while he was laying down a piece of plywood, and his boot came through the bathroom ceiling, leaving drywall, insulation, and a view of the sky in its wake. Luckily everything (even the big hole) was a fairly easy and inexpensive fix.

Meeting . . . more people on a neighborhood walkabout. We've been so fortunate to have two organized neighborhood walks since we moved into our new house. We met a whole new group of people on this walk than we did on the one the month before, and between these two walks and other random introductions, we have met the majority of the people in our new neighborhood.

Throwing . . . a two-and-a-half hour tantrum. Ian has amazing stamina and determination, as evidenced by all of his tantrums over the last three months. I'm sure I'm doing something wrong as a parent because each tantrum really does feel like an intense power struggle. I know one of the big triggers for Ian is screen time, so I cut out shows mid-way through the month. But this epic tantrum came after the elimination of shows and was instead instigated by my request for him to get dressed in the morning. Anyway, the accumulation of these tantrums is a cause of stress and grief and guilt (for both me and Ian), and I'm not sure what to do. I'm worried he has permanently damaged his vocal chords since he has been hoarse for the past two months. After he had totally calmed down following the epic tantrum, he said to me, "I'm sorry I was crying at you, Mom," and it was just the sweetest thing.

Watching . . . the daily Covid-19 counts. This continues to be a depressing activity, but I can't seem to pull myself away from it. I look forward to the day when those numbers trend down instead of up (it will happen eventually, right?!).

Celebrating . . . Father's Day. We visited my dad the day before, and I gave him a present that he already owned, which was a bit disappointing, especially since I'd felt like the most prepared daughter ever when I purchased it several weeks before. My kids filled out their traditional questionnaires for Mike and gave him a couple of new shirts and a new card game. And then Mike planned out and made his own Father's Day dinner and invited his dad (and mom) to come eat it with us. It was our first time getting to use the back patio with guests, and it was just as awesome as we thought it would be.

Failing . . . to raise monarch butterflies. The boys had been asking me to take them over to their elementary school to look for monarch caterpillars. They knew there was a crop of milkweed along the upper field, and they had seen caterpillars there before. So we went one afternoon, and they were overjoyed to find three caterpillars--one medium-sized and two tiny. We took them home, along with a supply of milkweed leaves. Sadly, the two small caterpillars died within 24 hours. But we held out hope on the other one. He chomped down on his leaves like a champ and grew rapidly. We were all thrilled when he crawled up the side of his enclosure, spun his silk, and hung into a J-shape. We thought we'd have a chrysalis by evening. But unfortunately, as the hours passed the caterpillar went limp and started to shrivel up. We did some research and discovered that our caterpillar had been plagued by the Black Death, which is just as gruesome as it sounds. It was quite traumatizing for all of us, but especially for Maxwell who went into the aspens surrounding our house and sobbed and sobbed. I think he somehow felt personally responsible for the caterpillar's death since he considers himself a bug expert. We'll see if we dare attempt to find another caterpillar or if this experience has scarred us for life.

Picking . . . raspberries. We are missing our little raspberry patch at our old house. We'll hopefully get some planted here this fall, but in the meantime, we went to Mike's parents' house to pick raspberries from their patch. Ian was reminding me so much of Sal from Blueberries for Sal. He had a little bag to collect raspberries, but none of them seemed to make it into the bag before going straight into his mouth. But I can't really blame him--there's nothing like a sun-ripened raspberry right off of the plant.

Recording . . . songs for Aunt Angela. My little sister is still on a mission in Maryland. Around the time the pandemic started, we began singing and recording a song for her every Sunday. It was meant to cheer her up a little since she was stuck inside all day every day with almost nothing to do. But even as she has settled into a quarantine groove and found new ways to share the Gospel with others, we've continued to make these weekly recordings just for fun.

Digging . . . for geodes. We got a brief cool spell at the end of June and decided to take full advantage of it by going to the Dugway geode beds--a place that has been on our bucket list for a long time. It was over three hours away and much of that time was on rough dirt roads, with the last two miles being particularly rugged. There were a couple of times when I really thought our little minivan was going to get high centered and we would be stranded in the middle of nowhere, but luckily, we arrived without incident, and once we were there, we had a grand time. The geodes were not difficult to find; many of them, broken and whole, were scattered over the ground. And when the kids dug down into the dirt, they found even more. The geodes came in all shapes and sizes, and it was always a mystery what they were going to look like on the inside: some were sparkly, others showed cool, layered patterns, and some were disappointingly ugly. Aaron was fortunate to score a really big one, and he cracked it open himself. We brought that one home and stuck the two halves in our front flower bed. Mike's sister and kids came too, and it made the day even more pleasant and enjoyable (not to mention that it gave me some peace of mind having another family there since, as I already mentioned, we were in a very isolated corner of Utah). After a couple of hours, one of the boys spotted a lizard, and they basically abandoned the geodes at that point in favor of trying to catch it (they never did). Ian spent the day playing astronauts with his cousins and using a hammer to hit every rock he could find. It was well worth the time and effort it took to get there.

And that's it for June. I'm grateful for each of these moments with my family and loved ones. Life feels like such a gift.

1 comment:

  1. I want to see the goals! And your sweater looks awesome. And poor Max. That butterfly story is the saddest.


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