A Little of This and That in June

Jul 11, 2021

June decided to include a major heat wave (multiple days of 100+ degrees). I am summer's most devoted fan, but even I thought that was a little cruel. Nevertheless, we managed to enjoy the outside when it was nice and stay inside when it wasn't. Some of our activities included . . . 

Celebrating . . . the last day of school. We've all said it: It has been the weirdest school year in the history of ever. But somehow, we made it through and actually far better than I expected. (I honestly thought our school would shut down within two weeks of opening in the fall, but there were very few cases in the school and never enough at one time to require a closure. In fact, it was probably the healthiest school year we've ever had.) My kids thrived at school, and if they ever did need to miss, they easily switched to virtual for a day or two and stayed completely caught up. I give all of the credit to my kids' amazing teachers, who really rose to the challenge and made this a happy year to remember. Our only regret is that Aaron was only able to go to the first half of the school year. This, of course, had nothing to do with Covid. He didn't like being home, but I'm proud of him for finishing strong.

Saying . . . goodbye to elementary school. Max is off to junior high in the fall, and he is feeling quite sentimental about his elementary years coming to a close. I can see why. He had a class full of great kids who he moved up through the grades with. He had only amazing teachers. And he really excelled academically. Promotion included many awards, but the one he was most proud of was the gold math pin, which placed him in the top 2% in the country. 

Kicking . . . off our family summer reading program. The boys didn't even wait for the last day of school before they started tracking their reading in order to cash in for prizes. Two hours of reading will get them one prize, which might seem like I'm making them read a lot for just one little prize, but I would go broke if it was any less because these kids can rack up a lot of hours in a week. Last year, Clark only had to read one hour for a prize, but he got bumped up to the two-hour group this year, and he's been doing great with it. Ian just has to complete one reading lesson for a prize. (Here's more about what we do if you're interested.)

Completing . . . a session of swimming lessons. Ian and Clark spent the first two weeks of June in swimming lessons. Because of the pandemic, we completely skipped lessons last year, so they were a little behind. But they both made a lot of progress over just a few days. Ian still needs quite a bit more practice to become an independent swimmer, but he no longer has any reservations about putting his face in the water . . . and he launches himself off the diving board without fear.

Dropping . . . the ball for Father's Day. I didn't try to--the boys filled out their usual questionnaires that I then laminate for keepsakes. And we picked out a few presents we thought Mike would like. But some of the boys felt a little under the weather with colds, and I spent most of the afternoon in bed because I was so tired from getting up early to do Aaron's medication, and all I did to help Mike with dinner was set the table. So yeah, it definitely felt like he didn't get quite the attention he deserves for how much we all love and appreciate him. We also saw my dad for a little bit in the afternoon, which was nice, so the day wasn't a total bomb. 

Experiencing . . . quite a bit of drama with praying mantises. If you know one thing about Max, it is that he loves bugs. For his birthday in March, Mike and I gave him a praying mantis egg case that was supposed to hatch in 3-12 weeks. Max followed all of the instructions for where to put it and how to keep its environment humid, but week after week went by without any mantises. Meanwhile, one of his good friends was lucky enough to find a mantis case in his yard. His family was leaving for a couple of summer trips, so he asked if Max wanted the egg case. Well, two weeks after that, I was walking up the stairs and I glanced into Max's room, and I saw the mantis cage teeming with tiny mantises. I quickly called to Max, and it was a thrilling, exciting moment as we all huddled around the cage and watched probably a hundred mantises moving around. We decided to release most of the mantises in our yard and Max's friend's yard. Bradley helped with the release because it turned out that Max was actually pretty anxious about the whole situation: he wanted to make sure he was doing the right thing in the right way, and so he either walked around saying, "I don't know what to do!" or he did "research" on the computer. We kept eight mantises because we were hoping that at least a couple would survive--one for Max, and one for his friend. We got some fruit flies to feed them, but they honestly seemed a little big for the tiny mantises. We also attempted some aphids that we found on a rose bush. But day after day, those little mantises didn't seem to be catching and eating anything. And one by one, they slowly faded and died. Finally, we were down to only one mantis. It was Felix, the one that Max was most attached to. He passed Felix along to his friend (which was an emotional ordeal in and of itself), but when they realized that Felix was the only mantis that had made it, they passed him back to Max, along with another, slightly bigger mantis they had found in their yard (these are truly the nicest, most selfless friends). Unfortunately, the next day, Felix also bit the dust. But the other mantis, which he named Helix, seemed to be thriving. She always caught and ate the fruit flies Max put into her cage, and she seemed to be growing. But a week after we got her, Max went into his room and found her laying at the bottom of the cage. It was completely unexpected because she seemed to be doing so well, which made it all the more tragic. Max was completely devastated. And me? I was exhausted from the emotional and physical toll that came with trying, and failing, to keep little baby mantises alive. I think we're done with trying to raise our own mantises (or not . . . stay tuned for July).

Swimming . . . on a recreational swim team. Bradley has always wanted to try swim team, and this seemed like the perfect summer for it since we didn't have any major vacations planned that would force him to miss. He enjoyed it immensely, so much so that I signed him up for July as well. It's close enough that he can just scooter over to it on his own, which is a good thing since they're tearing down the high school right next to it so parking is virtually impossible. The construction is intense and completely surrounds the pool, so I feel a little like I'm sending him to an apocalyptic world, but he navigates it like a champ. They had a swim meet at the end of the month. It was his first one, so he didn't do amazing in it, but that's what practice is for, right?

Working . . . on summer goals. As you know, this has always been a big part of our summer, but I have to admit that our enthusiasm this year has been a little halfhearted. Aaron still hasn't even made any goals because he was in the hospital when I did it with the other kids. And although some goals have been eagerly checked off, there are many that haven't even been touched. So I probably won't be sharing them this year like I have in years past. Getting the kids to stay on top of their goals actually requires a lot of time, attention, and effort from me, and I just haven't had the energy for it. 

Taking . . . ukulele lessons. One of Bradley's summer goals was to learn how to play the ukulele. I asked my dad if he wanted to head up Bradley's instruction since the ukulele is one of his great loves. When Aaron heard what was going on, he wanted to join in on the fun. He had tinkered around a little on a ukulele at the hospital but never really practiced it in a serious way. So this summer, my dad has been coming to our house every Sunday for a new lesson, and both Bradley and Aaron having been making great progress. They have learned a lot of songs and are getting a lot out of joy out of playing and singing with their grandpa. 

Participating . . . in band camp. Max is planning on taking band in sixth grade this fall. He has never played a band instrument, so my sister-in-law suggested signing him up for an introductory band camp (no prior instrument experience needed). Max wants to play the saxophone, but the band director recommended beginning on clarinet. So we borrowed a clarinet, and Max went every weekday for an hour and a half through the month of June. And I was pretty floored by the progress he made during that timespan. He went from not being able to push enough air through the clarinet to even produce a sound to performing real music with the entire band. One nice thing about the camp was that they had enough teachers that they were able to separate the kids by instrument, so they were able to use the time really productively. I feel like he's so much better prepared for band this fall. He's really fallen in love with it. The camp culminated with a concert which showcased both the beginning band and orchestra and the junior and senior groups. I've been to my fair share of beginning band concerts, and this was by far the least painful one I've been to; I would even call it enjoyable. 

Enjoying . . . the light. Want to know one of my favorite things about summer? The light. I love waking up to sunshine instead of pitch darkness. And I love staying out until 9:30 or 10:00 because of the lingering light (and cooling temps!). This is why I will always love summer: it has the light, and winter does not.

Creating . . . not a lot. I've lost some of my knitting and sewing mojo. Sometimes it seems like it just takes too much effort to get it out (which has never been an issue for me before--at least with knitting). Sometimes I get to the end of the day and I realize that I didn't knit at all (highly unusual). I don't think I'm falling out of love with knitting. I think I just need to start a few new projects. I always do better when I have a variety to choose from, and right now, I basically only have one. In spite of my waning enthusiasm, I did manage to finish a sweater I'd been working on for a couple of months (and I sewed a skirt to pair with it!).  

Discussing . . . conference talks with my parents and siblings. My brother organized a family text thread where we discuss one talk from General Conference every week. He came up with a schedule and assigned a talk to each week. We all read it and then text one thought or quote that we liked from it. It's very low pressure, but it has still helped me study rather than just read, and I love getting insights from everyone else as well. 

Winning . . . two gift cards in a couple of intense rounds of hospital HORSE. During Aaron's most recent hospital stay, the child life specialist challenged him to a couple games of HORSE. The prize? A gift card to Chick-fil-A and a gift card to Cold Stone. They battled it out, and the second game was especially tight, but Aaron came out on top and claimed his prizes. (So grateful for a child life specialist who knows how to relate to teenagers because, spoiler, not all of them do.) 

Rejoicing . . . in the birth of three new babies--who all happened to be born on the same day in June! They belonged to one of my dearest friends (a girl), my brother and his wife (a girl), and Mike's brother and his wife (a boy). Only one of them was actually scheduled to be born on that day, but I guess the other two just knew it would be a good day for a birthday. 

Obsessing . . . over numbers. All of my kids have their own unique interests and strengths. Sometimes they try something new and it turns out to be something they love. But sometimes their talent emerges with absolutely no encouragement, and it is always a little bit thrilling when this happens. Although I have been doing reading lessons with Ian (and he's doing really well), his real love is numbers. He can't get enough of them. He notices them everywhere. He counts for fun ("Dad! It took one hundred and fifty-four from Sonja's house to our house!"). He pages through the hymnal at church, just so he can find his favorite number (222). He alerts us all to the speed limit. He loves paint-by-sticker books--the more numbers, the better. He can identify any number from 0 to 1000. He counts forward and backward in unusual ways (one day he started at 999 and counted down like this: 999, 888, 777, etc.). At first, I barely paid attention to his fascination with numbers, but as he started to do more sophisticated and complicated things, I couldn't help but take notice. It's one of those things that I can take absolutely no credit for, and because of that, I just get to enjoy watching him do the thing he loves. (I had to laugh when I was helping him set his goals for the summer, and I referred back to Clark's goals when he was four: "Identify numbers 1 to 20" and "Learn to count to 30." As you can imagine, I did not set any numbers goals for Ian. He's doing a great job with that on his own.)

Welcoming . . . James home! Our nephew, James, got home at the end of the month. He had been serving a two-year mission for our church. He began his mission in Perth, Australia; then he got sent home due to Covid; and he was eventually reassigned to North Carolina. Big family gatherings have been tricky because of Aaron's health, so we all couldn't be there for his arrival, but I did send Max and Clark because I knew they wouldn't want to miss it. 

And that's all I've got. I'm so glad to be able to spend these lazy summer days with these boys that I love so much. They're truly a joy to be around. 


  1. When my kids were small (oh how the years have gone by) We wold play a game. I kind of think they knew what was coming, but they played along. I would ask them for a number between 1 and 3. Of course the number was 2. Then I asked the for a number between 1 and 100. they give me a number, and I said "the number was 2" Ian might like that, and playing with his brothers.

  2. You are such an amazing mother! and Mike is also amazing! Happy summer and keep cool!

  3. Another great month! We also had a run of 100+ days here in Washington, and we wilted.

    Coins and money are great toys for number-loving kids. I think we found various banks (one sorted coins through a little maze) and they were very popular.


Proudly designed by Mlekoshi playground