A Little of This and That in September

Oct 4, 2020

I was going to say that September was divine in terms of weather. Then I remembered the record-breaking windstorm (see below) . . . and the fires . . . and the lack of rain, and I decided that maybe it wasn't so perfect after all. But there were days scattered throughout that felt perfect, so we'll take those! The ups and downs of the month included . . . 

Running . . . from a swarm of angry wasps. One evening, we were picking up all of the fallen apples from our tree. It is a large tree with thousands of mediocre apples, and we're ready for them all to fall so we can be done with them. In an attempt to hurry things along, Mike climbed up in the tree to give the branches a vigorous shake. All of a sudden, I heard him say, "Ow!" and then watched as twigs and branches broke in his quick descent out of the tree. He scrambled to his feet and then yelled to the boys, "Run! RUUUUUUNNNN!" He raced out of the backyard, looking half-crazed and slapping himself. The boys were confused but followed him to the front yard where Aaron and Max also started yelping, "Ow! Ow!" Then Mike charged into the house, and that's when we finally saw some of the culprits fall from their clothes to the floor. Realizing they had just brought them into the house, they ran back outside where they continued to wage battle for a few more minutes. While Mike had been up in the apple tree, he had inadvertently put his foot right into a wasps' nest. The wasps crawled up inside his pants and shirt before he realized what had happened. All told, Mike got about ten stings, Aaron got two, and Maxwell got one. It felt like a scene out of a movie watching them all race from the backyard with the wasps in hot pursuit. When Mike went back to the tree fifteen minutes later with a can of wasp spray, they had posted a sentry and were getting ready to swarm him again. It was an adventure.

Listening . . . to the most amazing music at a David Archuleta concert. I mentioned last month that our family was watching the seventh season of American Idol. It was so much fun, and we all thoroughly enjoyed it. So when Mike and I found out that David Archuleta was doing a drive-in concert in Idaho Falls, we jumped on it. It just seemed like the most fitting culmination to our summer. We looked forward to it for weeks, and I have to admit that I maybe said a few prayers pleading that we would actually get to go and that this would be one thing in 2020 that would not be cancelled. And it was just the most fantastic evening. Yes, all seven of us were crammed into our minivan, and we didn't all have the best view, but it didn't matter--the music streaming in through the open windows was glorious. And really, the thing I was most worried about was that Clark or Ian would get bored or restless and make it miserable for the rest of us. But they pretty much stayed in their seats the entire time. At one point, David A. was talking, and Ian yelled as loudly as he could, "Hey, David Archuleta! START SINGING!!!" It was the first concert David Archuleta had been able to do in 2020, and it was also his first time performing any of the songs from his new album, so it just felt really special to be there. He also shared a lot of really candid, beautiful thoughts about recognizing your own worth as an individual and holding firmly to your own values and ideas, and I thought it was really inspiring.

Getting . . . pulled over. After the David Archuleta concert, we had to drive the three hours back to Salt Lake. At about 11:45pm, a state patrolman turned on his flashing lights and pulled Mike over. It got all of our hearts racing a little bit, especially since it was so late at night . . . and also because I had just read a chapter in Talking to Strangers that was all about how policemen pull drivers over for something small if they suspect there might be something more serious worth finding. It turned out that one of our headlights was out (which we didn't know) and also our license plate light (which we also didn't know). He let us go on our way, but then of course we were worried that we were going to get pulled over again for the same thing. 

Making . . . a midnight visit to the emergency room. I'm still not done talking about the wasps, just fyi. Apparently I could have written an entire post about our wasp escapades. A few weeks after the first encounter, Mike got stung again. One of those stings was right below his right ear. It gradually became more swollen during the course of the day. His ear was so taut, it looked like rubber. This happened to be the same day we went to the David Archuleta concert. After we got home (around 1:00 in the morning), Mike couldn't get to sleep. He could feel the swelling traveling down his neck and into his throat. He didn't think he was having an allergic reaction, but since he'd never had one before, he didn't know for sure. He first tried calling and talking to a doctor, but that proved to be completely useless. So he just took himself to the emergency room instead where they confirmed that it was not an allergic reaction but just a result of the swelling having nowhere else to go. They told him to take some Benadryl when he got home and just wait it out. I was asleep for this entire ordeal and woke up to find a string of texts I had missed in the middle of the night, which Mike had sent just so I wouldn't worry if I woke up to find him gone (but even with the texts, I know I still would have panicked so maybe the deep sleep was a blessing). Can you say, "Good riddance, wasps"?!

Removing . . . the offending apple tree. After trying for a couple of weeks to exterminate the wasps (including vacuuming up hundreds of them), Mike finally decided to just take down the entire tree (but he wised up and wore a beekeeper's suit while doing it). There was really no reason to keep it: it was partially dead, it housed murderous wasps, it was ugly, and it was loaded with about a bazillion apples that we had absolutely no use for. I recently saw the wife of one of Mike's cousins put up a post on Facebook that said, "You know what's better than owning fruit trees? Having great neighbors who own fruit trees." I tend to agree with her. Unless you are someone who finds a lot of joy in harvesting and preserving fruit in a variety of ways (which I am not), fruit trees tend to just create a huge mess. So we decided we'd rather plant something we loved instead of hanging onto the bane of our existence. 

Looking . . . for salamanders at Cecret Lake. We went on a fun family hike over the Labor Day weekend. We reached the beautiful little lake just as the sun was cresting the mountain, and the light glinting off the clear water was just breathtaking. We found some salamanders swimming around, and Maxwell was delighted to find a dragonfly nymph (seriously, the joy this brought him was almost comical). Aaron accidentally dropped one of his shoes in the water. It floated away too quickly for him to retrieve it with a stick, so he had to go in after it, and let's just say that a lake of melted snow is not the warmest thing, even at the end of summer. Even with that though, it was still such a pleasant day, and I'm always grateful we live so close to the mountains.

Getting . . . two root canals. I went to the dentist for a normal cleaning. They took x-rays--no cavities. They cleaned my teeth. They were about to send me on my way for another six months when I asked what I could do about some discoloration on my eye teeth. I expected them to recommend some bleach strips, which they did at first. But then the doctor and the hygienist consulted with one another and said, "You know, it's actually pretty strange that it's just those two teeth. Maybe we better do a sensitivity test." When the dentist pressed it to my tooth, I felt absolutely nothing--not a twinge or a prick. I knew then that whitening strips weren't going to do anything to fix this problem. The dentist asked me if I had experienced any trauma to my mouth, even many years ago. When I said no, he asked if I'd had braces as a teenager and if any teeth had been pulled next to those two. I confirmed that I had. They then delivered the bad news that the nerves were dead in both of those teeth and I would need a root canal in each one before it turned into a bigger problem. I was so disappointed and kind of wished I had never asked about the whiteness of my teeth in the first place. But I feel better now that it's just been taken care of. And the good news is that they were able to internally bleach the teeth, which means I was able to avoid getting crowns, at least for now. 

Speaking . . . in church. Mike, Aaron, and I had the opportunity to speak in our new ward on our first Sunday back at church. It had been more than six months since we had been to church, and even though we have loved having church at home as a family, it felt so good to be with our new neighbors. It wasn't the same, of course, with all of us wearing masks and no singing and being spaced apart from each other throughout the chapel, but we didn't mind. 

Losing . . . electricity. Northern Utah was hit by a violent windstorm early in the month. It knocked down beautiful, old trees all around the city and left a wide path of destruction in its wake. I woke up around 3:00am on the Tuesday morning when the storm hit. The wind was howling around the house, rattling the windows so hard I was worried they would shatter. I couldn't get back to sleep for a couple of hours. When I woke up for the day a little before 6:00, I realized that the power was off (and probably had been since I first woke up). The boys all went to school, but Aaron's school didn't have power for the whole day, and so they did all of their work in the dark (they cancelled for the rest of the week because I think they realized how ridiculous and impossible that was!). So many people lost power that we did not have high hopes of it being restored quickly. We ended up borrowing a generator from Mike's sister, and it saved us. We could preserve all of the food in our fridge and freezer, wash one load of laundry per day, charge up our phones, and plug in a few lamps at night. We shared it with our neighbors, and Mike transported it back and forth every morning and afternoon in a wheelbarrow. It wasn't convenient but it was definitely manageable. Our power was finally restored Friday evening, 86 hours after it went out. We ran through the house turning on lights and rejoicing. There were other parts of the city that didn't get power for another 72 hours after us, so we were grateful we got it back when we did.

Auditioning . . . for jazz band. Aaron has been playing the trombone since he was in fourth grade, but his level of commitment has been pretty casual.  But this year, in addition to being in cadet band, he decided he wanted to try out for jazz band. When he expressed this interest, I was supportive, but I didn't take over. I realized this was something I didn't have to become personally invested in; it didn't matter to me whether he did jazz band or not, so I could give him full responsibility for it. There was something so freeing about this. I didn't have to stress if he didn't adequately prepare for the audition or sign up for a time. If he wanted it enough, he would put forth the effort, and if he didn't, he would miss the chance. I listened from a distance as he struggled through the audition piece. He asked for my help a couple of times, which I was more than happy to give, and after a few days, the song was actually recognizable. He signed up for a time and went to the audition by himself. The next week, he came home absolutely beaming because the results had been posted, and he had made it in. So far, he loves it. I don't think I've ever seen him so happy about any activity. He cheerfully gets up forty-five minutes earlier in order to be out the door on time, and he practices every afternoon when he comes home. I realize this enthusiasm might not last forever, but I'm so glad he has found something he loves that I don't have to nag him about. It's a good development for both of us.

Celebrating . . . one year post transplant! I cannot believe it has been one whole year since Maxwell donated his life-giving bone marrow to Aaron. Some of the days were agonizingly long, but now that we're on the other side of it, it seems like the time flew by. It has been a year of miraculous healing, and we celebrated as best we could for it being a busy Wednesday in the middle of the week. It actually felt rather symbolic to have it come on a day that was so packed with all kinds of normal activities. We wouldn't have had a day like that a year ago, and we feel so blessed to have our lives come so full circle in such a short time. I plan to write up some introspective thoughts after Aaron does all of his baseline tests again next month. 

Worshipping . . . in the temple. All of the Utah temples are still closed except for live ordinances. This means you can only go if you know someone who is going through the temple for themselves. We were used to going to the temple on a regular basis before the pandemic, so it has been hard to not be able to go for so long. But then, we caught a lucky break. Our nephew, Steven, began his missionary service in July and was finally able to secure a temple appointment for this month. He was allowed sixteen guests, and Mike and I were among the privileged few who got to go. It felt wonderful to be back in the temple, especially since we got to be there with Steven and a few other family members. 

Meeting . . . virtually with the boys' teachers. SEP conferences were different this year because we couldn't meet with the boys' teachers in-person. But you know what? I kind of liked it. It was super convenient, and Mike could even just join in from work. The one thing I kind of dropped the ball with was Aaron. Now that he's in junior high, he has seven teachers instead of just one. I wasn't sure I wanted to meet with all seven, and by the time I decided it would be a good idea, all but two were already full. I'll do better next time. We sure are grateful for each and every one of these teachers!

Showering . . . the birthday boy with lots of attention, well wishes, presents, many happy returns of the day, treats, pie, and all that jazz. Bradley turned nine years old. His birthday came right in the middle of the week. I thought he might not like that because it was a busy day with school and work, but he actually loved it. He said it was the best birthday he ever had. Bless this child who is so easy to please! I think he liked going to school because all of his friends wished him a happy birthday, and he is all about recognition. He received a subscription to Kiwi Crate, which he was thrilled about because he loves projects. In the evening, we sang to him over key lime pie and then played his new card game--basically all of his favorite things.

Spending . . . a day at the cabin. Because of SEPs, the boys had Friday off of school, so we went up to the cabin for the afternoon and evening with Mike's sister's family. It was just the most gorgeous day: the temperature was perfect, the canyon was bursting with color, and the sky was crystal clear. The kids found two snakes (which were promptly christened "Pretzel" and "Curly Fry"), a praying mantis ("Johnny John John"), and some slime berries (i.e., buckeyes). When it was time to go, no one wanted to leave. It's hard to say goodbye to a perfect day.

Reading . . . a book with my cousin. Ever since the pandemic started, my cousin, Erin, and I have been Marco Poloing on a regular basis. It's been so fun. We've swapped book and show recommendations, and she's given me lots of tips for doing my hair curly (which is currently not going very well, by the way). One day, she mentioned a book she'd checked out from the library, and it was one that I'd been wanting to read as well, so we decided to both read it and then discuss. It was an enjoyable read all on its own, but that enjoyment was elevated because I had someone to talk to about it. 

Relenting . . . to a pool table. Mike has wanted a pool table ever since we moved into this house. I kept finding excuses (too big, too expensive, no space for it, etc.), but when a friend of his offered to give him one for free . . . well, it was just too good to pass up. Everyone has been having a lot of fun with it. Part of the problem for me was that we couldn't have both a pool table and an entertainment center in the basement, but I've been doing some rearranging in my head so that the living room can accommodate the TV instead. So who knows . . . maybe we will just completely embrace the idea of teenage hangout in the basement and give up the family room completely.

Resuming . . . Harry Potter. The arrival of fall means Harry Potter for us. Aaron, Maxwell, and I are on the sixth one this year, which feels a little crazy to me. I'm not ready to think about this series being over. Reading one book each fall has been one of our favorite traditions, and I'm not sure we'll be able to give it up when we finish the last one next year. We are actually flying through this one (well, as fast as one can fly through a 600+ page book . . . ). Mike is reading the third book to the younger boys.

Welcoming . . . Angela home! My sister is back from her eighteen-month church mission, and we are all thrilled about it. I checked the boys out of school for about an hour so that they could say hi when she stopped at our house briefly on her way home from the airport. We've seen her several more times since then, and the boys are just so happy to have their favorite aunt back. 

Finishing . . . a few knitting projects, namely a cardigan, a cowl, and a little stuffed Mary. The cardigan had the most unusual construction; it was basically knit as a geometric shape (composed of a vertical rectangle, a horizontal rectangle, and another vertical rectangle) and then seamed up to create the most beautiful back and sleeves. I'm quite smitten with it actually, and it was so exciting to watch it come together. The cowl was one of the most enjoyable objects I've ever knitted. I started it back in April but forced myself to put it aside a few times so that I could stretch out the process. The yarn was scrumptious and the colorwork was addictive, and it is just the perfect size to wear around my neck. The stuffed Mary is part of a little nativity I'm making for Christmas.

Cutting . . . my hair. Between Aaron's illness and the pandemic, I hadn't prioritized a haircut in a very long time. I finally made an appointment (and ironically, it was the week that covid cases spiked higher than they ever have). I was just going to get a trim, but then I decided I'd rather get my money's worth and chop off a bunch. Plus, I needed a change. I'm not totally in love with it, but hair always grows back, right?

Teaching . . . my friend, Kathy, how to knit. It was Kathy's birthday in September, and I gave her the gift of knitting! She came over on a Saturday morning, and I taught her how to do the basic stitches. Then on the following Saturday, she came back, and I helped her get started on a hat. Kathy is very creative and crafty, and she took to it easily and improved quickly. I think she might be hooked, and nothing makes me happier. I love passing on this skill to other people. 

Flying . . . a kite. My parents gave Bradley a kite for his birthday, and he loves it. Before this, he'd only ever had kites from the dollar store or of his own making. I think it was something of a shock to him to have the kite lift off of the ground and stay airborne, climbing higher and higher in the sky. We've been having some gorgeous weather lately, so hopefully he gets to fly it a bunch this fall.

Kicking . . . off the newest season of The Great British Baking Show. Oh man, it feels so good to have this show back. It's just what 2020 needed.

There's always more to tell, but I guess I'll cut things off there. Hope you all are staying safe and healthy as we continue to soldier on! 


  1. Another great month! Your family seems so happy with each other. I know so many people who barely talk to their siblings, so I feel lucky that I'm still close to mine and I hope our kids also share that connection into the future.

    Have fun with the pool table! I remember about ten years ago when my brother in Sandy also lucked into a pool table right before Christmas, so everyone pitched in when the kids were asleep to haul the dining room table downstairs and install the pool table in the dining room, where it stayed for the next five years to the delight of all. It was fun to surprise the kids on Christmas morning. Pool tables are heavy!

  2. I can't believe it's been a year already!!!
    Truly you will be so grateful you got the pool table. Ours is often in constant use, not only amongst siblings and play offs but with their friends, such a great thing to have with teen and young adults


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