A Little of This and That in January

Feb 11, 2021

As you already know, the end of January was a real downer. But before that, I would have said January 2021 was one of the best Januarys I'd ever had (and I'm hard to please in January). That's the way life is: there are highs and lows, and this January had both, including . . . 

Donating . . . blood. Ever since Aaron's need for frequent blood and platelet transfusions (both before and currently), I have wanted to donate blood more regularly. I did it once (for my first time) over a year ago and intended to continue with it. But with the onset of covid, I became nervous once again. They ask you a million screening questions before you donate, and I knew that process would only be intensified with the added concern about covid transmission. So I just didn't pursue it. But at the start of the beginning of the year, I decided that it was something I really wanted to do. And then ARUP blood services called, and they can be very persuasive, so I made an appointment. Having someone poke me with a needle and take some of my blood will probably never be my favorite activity, but it really wasn't at all bad this time around, and I think I'll try to do it again in a couple of months.

Knitting . . . with my sister. I gave her a little kit for a beaded bracelet for Christmas, and I happened to find the same kind of kit in my stocking (wink, wink), so we decided to spend an afternoon working on them together. I've never used beads in my knitting before, so it was fun to learn something new.

Feeling . . . so spoiled on my birthday. I thought my birthday was falling on a Wednesday (my least favorite day of the week). But then a few days before, I realized it was actually on a Thursday (my favorite day of the week). That elevated my anticipation of it considerably. It's so nice to have a favorite day of the week (do you have one?), and that got my birthday started off right. (Interesting side note: Mike and I were married on a Thursday, but it was already my favorite day before that.) Mike kept me well-fed throughout the day: he picked up kouign-amann pastries for brunch and sushi for lunch; he made lemon-chicken pasta for dinner along with homemade sourdough bread. And he topped it all off with the most amazing chocolate cake I've ever had in my life. I indulged in my favorite hobbies in the afternoon without any feelings of guilt. And my kids gave me really thoughtful gifts and tried to minimize arguing and fighting. Many people sent me messages and well wishes, which made me feel special and remembered. I wish all of this didn't have to come with adding another year to my age, but I guess that's the way it goes.

Spending . . . a night away from home. Mike continued with the birthday festivities by taking me to the Grand America for a night. My sister came and stayed with the boys, and Mike and I soaked up the time together. Even though we've lived in Salt Lake for a long time, we had never stayed at the Grand America. It is gorgeous and rich in history, and once we were there we said, "This feels like something we should have done a long time ago." We ate yummy food (highly recommend the lemon ricotta pancakes) and did the walking art tour through the hotel and lounged around watching shows (and the new Rebecca that came out last year--so good) and just generally had the most relaxing time. 

Buying . . . a truck. When Mike sold his truck in November 2019, I wrote, "I'd be surprised if he doesn't break down and buy another truck in a few months." I think the only reason he made it more than a year without one was because we bought a house last year, and a truck wasn't in the budget. Well, a new truck still isn't in the budget, but Mike found a 2006 Ford in great condition for a good price, so he snatched it up. I think he feels complete once more, and I'm happy because I always have a long list of projects for him to do, and now he has no excuses.

Ditching . . . the cold and gray for some Arizona (and St. George) warmth and sun. Making plans is a bit of a gamble in this pandemic world we live in, but we decided to take a chance and schedule a winter vacation. And I'm so glad we did (especially since our world kind of fell apart two days after we got back). Arizona holds a kind of magic for me in January. There is something about opening the van door and being embraced by what we think of as early-summer temperatures but in January--it never ceases to fill us all with wonder. Even when we were back in 20-degree Utah, it was nice to remember that there was a warm, sunny place just a day's drive away. And we really couldn't have asked for nicer weather while we were there--mid-70's every day.

Visiting . . . beloved friends. Arizona doesn't just have the sun going for it but is also home to some of our very favorite people on the planet. We spent two-and-a-half absolutely delightful days with all eight of them, and we left wishing yet again that our visits didn't have to be so spaced out. We went on adventures, played games, and ate good food. The adults even sneaked away for a little date night where we could actually talk in normal voices without the din of eleven children in the background. 

Eating . . . cold treats. We indulged in shakes and shaved ice while we were in Arizona and marveled that we were eating something frozen in January and that it not only didn't make us shiver but actually hit the spot.

Revisiting . . . old favorites. There were a few things we had to repeat from our Arizona trip three years ago, namely the Rooster Cogburn Ostrich Ranch (which lived up to our memory of it), Bahama Bucks shaved ice (tastier than we remembered), citrus picking (nothing beats an orange straight off of the tree), and a cold plunge into an unheated pool (I actually have no idea why my kids wanted to do this again). 

Seeing . . . new sights. While in Arizona, we hiked the Butcher Jones trail, played in Saguaro Lake, went to Fountain Hills to see one of the tallest fountains in the world, and walked around the Casa Grande ruins.  These were all activities that were very covid-friendly and that our kids loved. We really preferred being outside as much as possible. 

Walking . . . on an ancient lava flow. Utah never ceases to amaze me. On our return trip from Arizona, we did a few hikes in St. George. One of them was made up of black igneous rocks, which we climbed up and over. The rocks were pockmarked but smooth and cool to the touch. We meant to hike to the lava tubes, but we made a wrong turn, and by the time we realized it, we didn't have enough time left. Some of our kids were disappointed, but we told them it would give us something to look forward to when we go back.

Pretending . . . to be a bird. Ian has always had a very vibrant imagination. While he pretends to be many things (especially when Clark is orchestrating), his default is a little bird. He flies around the house and tells us what he wants for breakfast by saying, "Tweet, tweet." Sometimes he refuses to acknowledge us unless we lead into the conversation with a similar, "Tweet, tweet." Often he acts as interpreter for his alter ego: "Birdy says he wants a coloring page." Many times, he won't go to sleep until he has made himself a soft nest of blankets. 

Wearing . . .  one of my favorite finished objects ever. This month, I finished knitting a long ribbed cardigan with pockets. It fits me perfectly and is everything I wanted it to be. And that's a good thing because I did a ton of pattern research before deciding on this one. I will say that knitting 2x2 rib for the duration of a long cardigan is maybe not as wonderfully mindless as plain stockinette, but it's still knitting, which is pretty much always meditative and relaxing for me. This month I also knit a hat (twice, actually, because I didn't like the way it fit the first time) and a beaded bracelet (the one I mentioned above with my sister). And I sewed a mock turtleneck and a t-shirt. So it was a nice, productive month, creativity-wise.

Spending . . . a small fortune at Costco. It had been at least five months since Mike had been to Costco. I don't know the exact amount of time, but I know we've been buying grocery-sized instead of Costco-sized versions of some of our staples since school started. I had it in my head that we had saved all this money by avoiding Costco for so long, but Mike packed four trips' worth of food and supplies into one. And I made the mistake of going there with him. A normal Costco trip stresses me out, so imagine what this epic one did to me. We packed a regular cart and a flat bed cart as high as they would go. As we were checking out, the cashier looked at the mountains of food and said, "Will this last you a long time?" I simply answered, "We have five boys." "So . . . no," she concluded. My only regret is that I didn't take photographic evidence of our purchases.

Keeping . . . the air clean with lots of little snowstorms. We haven't had a good big snowstorm for the entire winter. However, every few days we get a little dusting of snow, which cleans the smog from the air, outlines the trees in white, and melts by the afternoon. Personally, it's kind of perfect for me. I love not having slushy, dirty snow for weeks on end.

Landing . . . back in the hospital after fifteen months of good health. Things took a scary and unexpected turn for Aaron. We thought he was totally in the clear, but apparently his bone marrow thought otherwise. I wrote more about what's going on here and here

Feeling . . . the love of family and friends. In the midst of this latest health crisis, our loved ones have rallied around us once again, and we're so grateful. In the interim between Aaron's first transplant and now, we moved neighborhoods, but this new one has proven no less kind, generous, or supportive. And our friends in our old neighborhood have not forgotten about us either. And of course both of our families are always ready to jump in with anything we need. I get emotional when I think about how lucky we are to be surrounded by so many good people. 

So that's where we're at right now. We're grateful for the good memories and looking forward to brighter days ahead.


  1. That's a beautiful cardigan! And a very eventual month; I'm glad you got in those wonderful vacations before coming home to scary news. It's fun watching your boys rolling into youth and men.

  2. I love the part about Ian pretending to be a bird. Mai Li does the same type of thing, only as a cat. She does a lot of meowing and pointing at things with her fingers to get her message across when she's being a cat. Oh, I'm going to miss having kids at this fun, carefree, silly age.



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