A Little of This and That in November

Dec 6, 2020

My photo taking always seems to take a nosedive in November, and this year was no exception. With very few activities, and most of them indoors, I just didn't think to pull out the camera and record the mundane. Even though we're entering my least favorite season, the pull to cozy up for the winter feels good. My space heater and I have reconnected, my knitted slippers are my favorite thing to wear, and a mug of steaming wassail is the perfect ending to a day. This month found us . . . 

Falling . . . during a run. I was running early one morning when my toe caught the lip of the sidewalk, and I fell hard and fast . . . although it didn't feel fast at the time. You know how people always say they felt like they were falling in slow motion? That's exactly what it felt like for me. Time was suspended as I watched the ground get closer and closer even as I tried to force myself to stay upright. My knees bore the brunt of the fall, and they were torn up bad enough that walking, sitting, bending, straightening, or touching was quite painful for nearly two weeks. That was my first injury related to running, and I must admit, it kind of made me feel like a real runner. 

Going . . . to the zoo. Ian and I took advantage of gorgeous weather and half-price tickets and went to the zoo. We were going to go with some friends, but it ended up not working out, and I think I liked it better that way. I could devote all of my attention to Ian and go at his pace, and it was just a delightful, happy way to spend the morning. We got to the elephants while they were still eating their breakfast (my favorite), the otters were perky and swimming around, and there were monkey, gorilla, and leopard babies. Ian asked to go back the next day, but unfortunately by that point, the weather had turned and a zoo trip didn't sound nearly as appealing.  

Working . . . from home . . . again. With covid cases escalating quickly in November, Mike's company asked for all "non-essential" employees to work from home as much as possible. So Mike has been doing one or two days from home each week, and I don't mind one bit.

Learning . . . to color. Ian had a breakthrough this month and finally recognized the magic of coloring a picture to completion. Up to this point, his attention span was approximately fifteen seconds (not exaggerating) or the equivalent of four small scribbles on a page. But then one day, he found an extra chameleon coloring page of Clark's, and without anyone even realizing what he was doing, he took it up to the art table and meticulously labored over it for close to an hour. And when he was done, we were all amazed to see that he had traversed the whole page with several different colors and stayed in the lines. We sent it off to our favorite missionary, Steven, and coloring has continued to be Ian's new favorite hobby.  

Anticipating . . . each new episode of the Mandalorian. The new season of the Mandalorian helped fill the long, dark evenings this month. Mike always previews the latest episode on Friday, and then all of the boys watch together on Saturday. I've tried to do Star Wars, but I just find it so boring, so I tend to skip. One time Ian told me to "go relax in your room" so that they could start watching.

Sewing . . . a dress. Remember that big pile of fabric from last month? I used one of the cuts of fabric to make myself a dress. In the past, sewing has been a volatile hobby for me, bringing great satisfaction and great frustration. But this time, it was pretty much 100% enjoyable, and I loved every step of the process. I think a number of things contributed to this outlier. First, neither my sewing machine or my serger had any mechanical or tension problems during the project. This is usually the number one cause of my frustration because it is the thing I have the least control over. Second, this is the first big project I've done in my new little sewing room, and it was a game changer. It was so nice to be able to leave my project as it was and come back to it the next day. It meant that I could literally just work for twenty minutes, complete one step, and then stop. I think I sew better in short increments than long stretches. And third, it was just a really enjoyable pattern with very clear and easy-to-follow instructions. The result? A dress that I love. It fits me perfectly and is so comfortable. Also, it is very versatile and can be worn with so many of my hand knits! I love it.

Doing . . . all of his one year tests. Because of covid, Aaron's one year post-transplant tests were a bit delayed, but he finally got scheduled for his pulmonary function test, echocardiogram, and a million labs. Everything looks so good, and it's hard to believe that he's on the other side of all of this.

Taking . . . away the binky. Out of my five kids, Ian is the only one who has liked a binky. And he doesn't just like it. One afternoon I asked him why his binky was in his mouth and he said, "Oh, just because I love it." I kept hoping he would just kind of lose interest in it, but at three-and-a-half and still going strong, it didn't look like the end was in sight. Eventually all but one of the binkies had been lost or broken, and I didn't want to go completely cold turkey when that last one finally bit the dust. So I finally had the motivation to only let Ian have it when he was taking a nap or going to bed (I had been attempting to do this for several months but always caved). So the next morning, I took it from him as soon as he woke up and put it in a place that was out of reach. And man, that day was rough. It was obvious that he was addicted and experiencing some type of withdrawal. He raged and tantrumed all morning, but I held firm, and that was the worst of it. 

Auctioning . . . off a couple of knitted items. Last month, my cousin and her husband lost their two-week-old baby boy, who had been born very prematurely. Her sister organized an auction to help alleviate some of the financial stress and support them in their grief. I knitted two things (a toy cat and a set of Christmas tree ornaments) and donated them for the auction. It was kind of exciting to watch people bid on them and then mail them off to the winners. 

Watching . . . The Chosen. If you know me in real life, I've probably been very bossy and told you that you must watch this drama about Jesus. The first season (8 episodes) is currently out, and the second season is in production. This isn't just a show that you should watch because it's about Jesus. It's a show that will pull you in like any other drama and make you want to binge all eight episodes in one weekend. The acting, screenplay, and filming are all phenomenal. It has made Jesus real to me in a way I've never quite felt before. 

Building . . . a snowman. We had a pretty snowy week early in the month with snow falling on and off for several days. There wasn't much accumulation, but it was enough to build a snowman.

Wishing . . . I could be at my brother's wedding. Yep, my little brother, Steve, got married, and I wasn't at his wedding. In fact, no one from my family was able to go, and it just felt strange and so wrong. He was supposed to get married in Philadelphia on December 12th. I had held off buying a plane ticket because of all of the uncertainty with Covid. And it's a good thing I did because, with rumors of Philadelphia going under lockdown, Steve and his fiancé suddenly moved up the date to November 24th. Again, I was making plans to go when they found out that the Philadelphia temple would be closing on November 20th. At this point, Steve was still in Utah, but they decided to see if he could make it out in time for them to get married on November 19th. Luckily, he made it, but sadly, no one else did. All day, I did all of my little daily, menial tasks and kept remembering with a start that my brother was getting married. It still feels a little unreal to me.

Sewing . . . a sweatshirt, cardigan, and table runner. Maybe the dress wasn't such an anomaly after all. After having so much success with it, I couldn't seem to stay out of the sewing room, and I completed three more things before the end of the month. I'm especially proud of the cardigan. I spent a lot of time practicing certain steps and adjusting the fit so it would be just right, and I'm so pleased with the finished product. 

Mailing . . . Christmas cards. I was determined to get my Christmas cards in the mail before Thanksgiving. Since we moved this year, I wanted to make sure people knew our new address before they sent out their Christmas cards. I would be so sad if I missed out on anyone's Christmas cards because it's one of my favorite parts of the holidays. In past years, creating our Christmas card has been a time-consuming ordeal, and Mike tends to dread it. But this year was super slick and quick. We chose the photo, formatted it, and wrote a little update in under an hour. We were kind of impressed with ourselves. The cards arrived in plenty of time for me to meet my goal, but we ran into a slight problem when we realized that we had only been sent 84 cards per pack instead of 100. That seemed so random and strange to me, but Mike called Costco, and they had another pack of 50 at our house by the very next day.

Having . . . a low-key Thanksgiving. A large family gathering was not really practical or safe this year with Covid still running rampant, so we only celebrated with Mike's sister and her family. They seemed like a good choice since we live in the same general area, associate with the same circles, and our kids go to the same schools. Also, we ate at separate tables and wore masks at all other times, so we tried our best to be responsible. We were so glad to be with family. Clark was bouncing around on the driveway for a solid half hour before they arrived because he was just so excited. We decided to eat in courses so that we weren't at all rushed and could fully enjoy all of the food. I loved doing it this way. Sonja and I took a little walk between a couple of the courses, and the kids used all breaks to play games. It just felt like we got to savor the day a little bit more than usual. Also, incidentally, this was our first big dinner in our new house, and Mike commented that all of the challenge of cooking and baking was gone: he had a double oven, two fridges, plenty of workspace, a dishwasher, and room to seat everyone. It felt like such a blessing. We ended the day with pie and a video call from our nephew, Steven, on his mission. It was just perfect in every way. Between last year with just our own family and this year with just one other family, I don't know if I'll ever be able to go back to the big gatherings. I like these smaller ones so much. 

Building . . . a desk. Our latest home project has been the office/music room. We knew we wanted a desk that could be used by the boys for their homework. After looking at many, many options online, we couldn't find what we wanted. We realized it was because we actually wanted a built-in desk--something that would be a focal point of the room and fit the space perfectly. So Mike did what he always does and decided to build it instead. We based the design off of a few inspiration photos I found online and then customized those to fit our needs. Mike found an old bathroom vanity on the classifieds that was the perfect height. He used this as a structural base and then built everything else himself: desktop, drawers, shelves, cupboards, etc. It came together beautifully, and now that it's almost done, I'm just so pleased. We went with a dark navy blue for the color because I wanted the space to feel cozy and studious, and I think it works really well. The room isn't finished yet, but here's a peek at the progress so far. 

Participating . . . in a gratitude challenge. A week before Thanksgiving, President Nelson gave a brief worldwide message. It was simple and beautiful and full of truth. At the end of it, he offered a prayer that was unlike anything I've ever heard. It lifted me up and helped me feel God's love. He also extended an invitation to express gratitude often through prayer and share daily messages of gratitude through social media. I must admit that I was not initially enthusiastic about the second half of this challenge. I really don't like feeling social pressure to do something, and being swept along in a movement often feels fake or disingenuous to me. But I decided since the prophet asked me to do it, I would. And something kind of miraculous happened. As I sincerely thought about my own blessings, they seemed to become more and more abundant. They flooded into my mind, and I had a hard time narrowing it down to one thing each day. (I found myself still trying to push back against the trend though and warned Mike that I would not be doing the Day 2 "I'm grateful for my husband" post, haha.) For months, social media has seemed like a rather toxic place to hang out, and I have tried to be very selective with who I follow. But for the week leading up to Thanksgiving, Instagram and Facebook because a source of joy and inspiration. It was an uplifting place to be. I saw posts from people who hadn't shown their faces in years, and I loved it. I was grateful I had put aside my personal prejudices and feelings and opened my heart to the goodness all around me.

Putting . . . up Christmas lights. Mike threw out his back the day after Thanksgiving while moving the air compressor he was using for the desk build. He had been planning on putting up the Christmas lights over the weekend, but he was no longer able to move. Luckily, Aaron stepped up to the task. He knows I like the lights nice and straight, and he did a careful, meticulous job. Getting to spend an hour on the roof was also not a downside for him. (And thankfully, Mike's back seems to be making a full recovery.)

Spending . . . a little bit of time with cousins. We went to the cemetery with Mike's family to decorate his sister's grave. It was cold, but there was hot chocolate and hot dogs to warm us up. Clark was overjoyed to see his cousins since he hadn't been around them in months. Ian, on the other hand, was overcome with shyness and spent most of the time hiding behind Mike's legs.

And that wraps up another month. I can't believe 2020 is almost over. It's nothing like I expected it to be, but some parts of it are better than I imagined, and I'm grateful for that!


  1. Lovely pictures! I'm amazed to see how much more socializing you guys are doing, but of course your kids are much younger (and so are you, cough cough). Here in Washington I think we were scarred by being the first outbreak. My brother lives on a nearby island and instead of gathering for Thanksgiving we arranged a pie exchange in the parking lot of a library. At first they weren't even going to do that but my SIL makes the best apple pie ever and there were cries of lamentation so she arranged the hand-off.

    I really liked Hogle zoo. Whenever I visited Sandy I would grab all six kids and my SIL would pick whether to come or just enjoy a quiet day at home. One time my youngest and his cousin were featured in the news at a tiger's birthday party! That was a long time ago -- that tiger has had her own cubs now.

    Remember months ago when I said if I saw Aaron on a neighborhood walk I'd be figuring out how to hire him to do my lawn? I bet I'd be asking him for an estimate on putting up my lights about now...


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