A Little of This and That in April and May

Jun 4, 2021

Ian and cousin, Rosie 

April and May were mostly consumed by hospital stays and appointments, which I've already written about extensively in other posts. These are typically my very favorite months of the year (I am #teamspring all the way), but we just didn't have the time or energy to do the things we normally would have. Our kids have been so understanding and adaptable. Hopefully, these days are making them resilient and not traumatized. But maybe a little of both. 

We did manage to do a few other things over the last two months, which can be summarized as follows:

Celebrating . . . Easter. Snow always makes Christmas feel magical. And you know what makes Easter feel magical? Blues skies, mild temperatures, and the smell of cherry blossoms. And that's what we got this year. We just soaked up every moment. We dyed eggs, did Easter baskets, made empty tomb cookies (a tradition borrowed from my childhood), counted down the days with our Easter tree, and enjoyed Easter dinner as a family. The boys did several egg hunts for each other. They each took a turn hiding and finding eggs, which made it turn into five egg hunts instead of just one and stretched it out to two hours long. I listened to my Easter playlist on repeat, and we read from the Gospels as a family. We were fortunate to be able to spend the whole day together with no unplanned trips to the hospital, and that made the day even more special. 




Watching . . . General Conference. This coincided with Easter this year, which happens every so often, and I love it when it does. It just makes the entire weekend feel spiritual and uplifting. Mike made cinnamon rolls on both Saturday and Sunday. Bradley and I put together a 1000-piece Lego mini-figure puzzle. And Max took copious notes through all four sessions (no surprise, if you know him in real life). One of my favorite talks was by Elder Dale G. Renlund about how life isn't fair but Jesus makes everything right. 

Showing . . . support. Maxwell has an amazing group of friends. When they were in third grade, they dubbed themselves the Chicken-Nugget-Sandwich-Boys (I believe it might have started during a lunch bunch they had with their teacher). When he first told me about their name, I laughed and thought it would surely be a short-lived thing. Not so. Two years later, the CNSB are just as loyal, nerdy, and strange as ever. Before Max's bone marrow harvest, they gave him a big gift basket filled with just the right things to entertain and amuse him (they get his sense of humor far better than I do). A few days after the harvest, they all showed up on our porch in matching T-shirts, which, appropriately, had a chicken nugget hero on them. It will be so interesting to see if the CNSB can survive junior high next year, but they've had a good run regardless. As a mom, I am just so grateful for good friends for my kids. 

Building . . . a robot. Clark and Bradley are both very into crafts and projects. One day they combined forces (Clark's inventing with Bradley's engineering--their description, not mine) and came up with this pretty awesome robot costume out of random things they found around the house. 

Tearing . . . out all of the aspens. Remember last fall when Mike painstakingly drilled holes in all 80+ aspen trees and filled them with poison? Yeah . . . didn't even phase them. This spring, they were covered in buds and all of their branches were still green and pliable. So he moved onto Plan B: dig them all up by hand. Luckily, he found some willing helpers in all of the young men and leaders from our ward. They came over on a weeknight and pulled out every single aspen in under an hour and a half. It was actually kind of awesome to watch. One moment there were more than eighty trees in our front yard, and the next moment they were gone. I was a little concerned about some of the younger boys hacking away at tree trunks with hatchets, but fortunately there were not any injuries. Now we'll see what the aspens have next up their sleeves . . . because I'm sure we're not done with them yet. 

Getting . . . in a quick birthday celebration. Mike's birthday was the day before Aaron's hospital admission, so we spent most of the day preparing for that. But he opened presents in the morning, and we sang to him over brownies and ice cream in the evening, so it still had a birthday feel in spite of our distraction. We had The Pie for dinner, partly for Mike, partly for Aaron (who was about to start his low microbial diet once again . . . ugh). Mike has a big birthday next year (40!), so hopefully life will have calmed down enough to do something really exciting. 

Saying . . . goodbye. Mike's grandma passed away on the same day as his birthday. Although she was almost 93, it was unexpected. She was an amazing woman who had the gift of making everyone feel welcomed and so loved. Her funeral was during Aaron's transplant, but Mike was still able to take the other four boys down to Monticello for it, and I was able to watch it virtually. Clark was especially fascinated by the casket, and he regretted that I wasn't there to see it. It had been a long time since our kids had been around so many cousins at once, so it was actually a weekend that was filled with many happy moments for them, which I think Grandma Great would have liked.  


Giving . . . up his binky. We finally did it. After months of (unsuccessfully) trying to slowly wean Ian off of his binky, we went cold turkey a couple of nights before his fourth birthday. I was seriously worried about how it would all go down, but we gave him plenty of warning that it was going to happen. He was down to only two binkies, and they were on the verge of breaking, so he threw them in the trash, and then Mike took him to the toy store to find a couple of stuffies to take the place of the binkies. He found a penguin and a chick, which he promptly named Waddles and Peck. He fondly refers to them as his "little ones." I was expecting a couple of rough nights, but he never asked for his binky once. Maybe we waited so long that we reached an age where he had some sense and understanding. Either way, the binky is gone for good, and that felt like the last remaining vestige of his babyhood, so I'm a little sad (but not really). 

Turning . . . four years old. Ian had a birthday this month, too, and this one came while Aaron was in the hospital, which made it a bit tricky. We had planned to have Mike come home for an hour or so to sing and have cake, but when the time came, Aaron was just not able to be left. So we included Aaron and Mike over FaceTime, putting the candles on a cake that Mike had made two days before (what a dad!). I was worried that Ian would feel slighted, but he didn't at all. His brothers were very generous with him, Mike's mom came over to take him out for the morning, and Mike's sister stole him away in the afternoon to buy him a present. To be honest, he was quite spoiled. (And, at four years old, he seems to love Legos as much as Aaron and can follow the instructions like a pro.) 




Teaching . . . a craft class during recess. Apparently, Bradley took it upon himself to share the art of boondoggle with anyone who wanted to learn. It started with just a couple of friends at recess but morphed into a full-blown class. He purchased extra supplies with his own money and posted photos of all of the color choices on the class discussion board. He had signup slots so that he could give everyone the attention he/she needed. This is Bradley to a T: the organization, the inclusiveness, the willingness to share. He's been doing this since preschool when he gathered all of the other kids around him and read aloud to them. 

Getting . . . doses #1 and #2 of the Covid-19 vaccine. Mike and I are both done, and it feels so good. We spaced apart our shots by a couple of days since we knew one of us would always need to be with Aaron, and also just in case either of us had a reaction. But we both breezed through without any real side effects. I got a headache about 36 hours after my second dose, but I have no idea if that was related to the vaccine or just a normal headache from lack of sleep. I was quite nervous before both of shots because I've had reactions to vaccines in the past (and I even had a good friend and my mother-in-law drive me to and from the clinic just in case anything weird happened), so it was such a relief to feel totally normal and fine after each one. (We both got Pfizer, in case you're curious.) This vaccine feels like a gift to me--so grateful that it is paving the way for a return to normalcy and looking forward to making up for lost time with family and friends.


Doing . . . some "pet therapy." I am not a pet person at all, so I feel like my kids are lucky to have a cat, but they are still always wanting more. Luckily, we have friends and family who are willing to share their pets with them. They held bunnies at their friends' house and chicks at their cousins' house and then wished they could take both of them home. 



Misplacing . . . our mailbox. One morning, we looked out our front window and noticed our mailbox was tipping at a precarious angle. There was an orange traffic cone sitting next to it. When we moved into our house a year ago, I suspected that our mailbox would be a target for punk teenagers. It was just in the perfect location and was made out of the right materials. Mike propped it back up, and we went about our lives. A couple of weeks later, more traffic cones appeared, and our mailbox looked sad and pathetic. We guessed that the cones were being used to try to knock over the mailboxes. Such a fun game, I'm sure. Again, Mike righted the mailbox, although it was getting a little dented. But then a few mornings later, the mailbox disappeared completely, kidnapped in the night. This took place while Aaron was in the hospital, so we were really very annoyed since our mail couldn't be delivered and we had to purchase a new mailbox. It was just a big hassle, and the timing was not great. 

Watching . . . Maxwell''s fifth-grade play. His class had to miss out on a lot of things this year due to Covid, but thankfully, this wasn't one of them. His teacher's historical plays are legend because they are always so well done. She has a special way of being able to draw out the strengths of each child, and it is truly spectacular to watch. Max was Paul Revere and, later in the play, Voter #2, and, in my unbiased opinion, he stole the show. He agonized over this play every day for a week leading up to it--he takes after me and likes to stress about everything--so I was glad that it all went so well. It was something he was very proud of. 

Feeling . . . the love on Mother's Day. It was definitely different than most years since I was at the hospital with Aaron. But Mike still made me dinner, and I ate it outside on a bench. The boys made me cards and gave me presents. Even Aaron had made me something using supplies at the hospital, which I thought was really sweet. I would have rather been with all of my boys together, but I'm still glad they're mine.


Working . . . on a number of home projects. We had several things we were planning to do this spring, but when Aaron got sick, we had to put them on pause. We knew from his first transplant that we wouldn't be allowed to do any type of construction for at least the first six months following his transplant since dust or spores could cause bad things to happen in his lungs. So we took the only window we had--the month he was in the hospital--and ran with it. The timing was less than ideal with Mike and me single parenting at home and tag teaming at the hospital, but we hired out most of it and got it done. We had canned lighting installed in both the living room and basement. And our living room fireplace got a total makeover, which was something we'd been wanting to do since we moved in. Besides that, Mike rearranged the family room and built a large console of shelves to accommodate the TV and all of Aaron's Lego sets. And we've been slowly making small improvements to the yard.





Attending . . . Primary for the first time ever! Our ward brought back the second hour of church (i.e., Sunday School, Elder's Quorum, Relief Society, etc.), which meant that my kids finally got to go to Primary again (unlike the other classes, there hasn't been a virtual option for Primary, so it had been over fourteen months since their last time). This meant that for Ian, it was his very first time going to Primary! He was thrilled to be a little Sunbeam, and he has just been soaking up all of the social interactions, singing, and learning. The other day he said, "Do you know what my favorite day of the week is? Sunday. All of the other days are my least favorite days."

Planting . . .  a garden. Maxwell had big ideas for a garden this year--mostly because he was hoping to attract some different insect varieties to our house (it's all about the bugs for him). This is our first time planting a garden at this house, and so we went pretty simple on the plants. I don't have very high hopes since we're only giving it half-hearted attention, but maybe we'll get something out of it. Clark was insistent on planting corn, but then he ended up criticizing me the whole time because I wasn't doing it like our neighbor, Tony, who can do no wrong in Clark's eyes.


Going . . . to a diabetes class. Although we still don't have all of the answers with Aaron and Type 1 diabetes, we are moving forward on this path. Mike and I went to a class about two weeks after Aaron was diagnosed. It was so helpful. This class used to be done as a big group with lots of other diabetes families participating all at one time. But ever since Covid, it has been done with just one set of parents and a nurse educator. The nurse that was assigned to us had worked in the cancer/transplant unit for five years before becoming a diabetes educator. This was such a blessing because she knew exactly the kind of world we're in right now and could speak our language. She was the perfect bridge between bone marrow transplant and diabetes. She also really advocated for Aaron to get a continuous blood glucose monitor sooner rather than later, which has been kind of life changing. I have felt so empowered as I learn and then do and then learn some more. 

Spoiling . . . our favorite Clarky Jo on his seventh birthday. Clark is always very specific with his expectations for his birthday and then very enthusiastic when they are fulfilled. For example, for the last month, he had been adding present suggestions to a list that he made me keep on my nightstand for easy reference. This list included a wide range of options, from very small and inexpensive to big and pricey. One of my favorite moments from the day was right after he woke up. I was still in bed, and I could hear him going through his birthday bucket that was by his bed. He exclaimed as he took out each item: "A bow tie! Wait, another bow tie?! And corn seeds! CORN SEEDS!!!!!" It was so cute. Our neighborhood pool's opening day coincided with his birthday, so of course we had to go. He also had his birthday cake all planned out and had even left a diagram of what it should look like on Mike's nightstand (a Lego minifigure). But then he went to the party store, and they had a set of space-themed candles, which he fell in love with, so he changed gears and went the space direction instead. All in all, I think the day was everything he hoped it would be (but all of the birthday attention was difficult for a certain four-year-old who had multiple tantrums throughout the day).



Pausing . . . my sewing projects.  I don't think I sewed a single stitch in April or most of May. Single-parenting life made it impossible, and that's okay. I was busy, and I didn't miss it very much. I did, however, do a lot of knitting, as you might expect with all of my hours sitting on a hospital couch. I made two baby cardigans to give away as gifts. And I also got really far in a sweater for myself. 

Modifying . . . school performances. The boys' teachers had to get creative with performances this year. Max's teacher was able to pull off the school play in person (see above), but Bradley's and Clark's teachers both did virtual productions instead. Bradley was Jim Henson in his class wax museum. And Clark was a wizard in his class opera. I missed the usual way of doing these things, which has always been a highlight during previous school years. But it was nice to keep the tradition alive and get a little taste of the real thing.

Enjoying . . . Memorial Day. The holiday actually felt pretty normal. We went to my parents' house for the morning where the kids played croquet and badminton. We made a stop at the cemetery to visit Alisa's grave. In the afternoon, the boys had a water fight at home. And then we ended the day with a family movie.


Whew! Combining two months' worth of activities into one post feels like a lot, even when we really aren't doing very much. Hope your summer is off to a great start!

2 comments:

  1. That is a good amount of cake in these months. I highly approve. Beautiful pictures as always, and wow, your boys are growing up so fast!

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  2. Your sons are getting so big (and adorable as ever!) Looks like you're really enjoying your spacious home! BTW I guess they aren't even going to discuss an insulin pump until the bone marrow status is good? Love to you all!

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