A Little of This and That in October

Nov 21, 2021

I have felt the rapidity of time quite acutely lately, which is ironic since I'm beginning to feel very uncomfortable pregnancy-wise, and it still feels like I have a looooong way to go. And yet, the weeks still seem to fly by. Hence, it has taken me most of this month to write up some of our activities from October. Some months are like that. Here's a snapshot of the month, with such things as . . .   

Leaving . . . my comfort zone. I was in charge of planning dates for Mike and me in October. The mountains were bursting with fall colors, and I thought it might be fun to do something we've never done before and ride the ski lift to get a bird's eye view of them. I had to hype myself up a little in order to do this because I have a fairly significant fear of heights. I get lightheaded and a little woozy if I feel like I don't have some sort of protection. Also, in spite of living all of my life in either Colorado or Utah, I had never been on a ski lift before (ski lift-esque rides, yes; actual ski lift, no; and there's a definite difference). I did a little research before we went to make sure there was at least a bar that would go down over our laps, but when we actually got there, I discovered that it was basically the most primitive bar ever (not up to amusement park safety standards in the slightest). Some of the chairs didn't even have bars. And whether there was a bar or not, I could quickly see that most people riding chose not to put the bar down. Still, we had our tickets, so I was determined to ride. We waited until a chair came with a bar, we conspicuously put the bar down, and we were off. And despite feeling like I was completely out of my element, I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. The air was crisp and fragrant, and it was so peaceful. As expected, the colors were spectacular. (The one thing that put a damper on the experience was that a family was riding at the same time as us. They had four kids, the youngest being around 2 years old. If there's one thing that makes heights even worse for me, it's seeing little kids at those same heights.) When we got to the top, we went on a short hike to Solitude Lake. Then we got back on the lift and headed back down. We ate ice cream and pizza (in that order) at the resort before going home. Even though it's always a little nerve wracking for me to try something new, I'm almost always glad I did. In this particular case, it was an absolutely lovely fall date with Mike, and I highly recommend it (just don't bring a two-year-old . . . ). 

Saying . . . goodbye to Patience. Maxwell cared for his little praying mantis for a good three months. Every night, he would go out into the front yard to find a moth or fly or box elder bug for her to eat. It was a little ritual for him. She grew and molted and grew and molted, and he truly loved everything about her. But with the onset of fall, we knew her days were probably numbered. Rather than waiting for her to die in her cage, Max decided to let her go. He waited for some nice weather and then released her in the garden. It was bittersweet for him, and for the next few days, he didn't even want anyone to mention her name because he was so sad to have her gone. 

Taking . . . his last dose of tacro! Woo-hoo! Aaron was so glad to reach this milestone again in the transplant process and to get to it three months faster than last time. We realized when he took his last pill that if his doctors had followed the same timeline as last time, he wouldn't have even started the taper yet, but instead, he was completely done.

Visiting . . . our favorite pumpkin patch. We grew pumpkins in our garden this year, but only ended up with a couple (affectionately named Big Bill and Giant Jim), so we were definitely in need of some more.  There were a couple of people in our family who would have preferred a quick trip to the grocery store to grab a few pumpkins, but most of us love the experience that comes with picking a pumpkin directly from the field where it was grown. So we headed to our very favorite family-owned pumpkin patch. We've tried out other places over the years, but this is the one we always return to. No fuss. No frills. Just lots and lots of pumpkins in a giant field. We went on a perfect fall evening--warm enough that we didn't need jackets and early enough that there weren't any crowds. We ended the evening by picking up pizza from The Pie. It was pretty perfect.

Painting . . . and carving and doing all of the usual things you do to pumpkins. I hardly took any photos of these happenings though--not typical of me.

Performing . . . in the first band concert of the school year. Both Aaron and Max played . . . Max on saxophone in the foundations group and Aaron on trombone in the jazz band. (Aaron is also in concert band, but he didn't go back to school full time until after the concert, so at the time, he was only attending jazz band.) It was so fun to hear both of them play. I am continually impressed by the quality of the music at their junior high. I know that I'm biased because my kids are playing, but I would actually pay money to hear the jazz band; they're that good. Aaron, as I'm sure you can guess, was pretty pumped the whole evening. 

Resurrecting . . . my fiddle leaf plant. You probably don't remember my sad fiddle leaf tale back in March. Basically, my fiddle leaf plant was slowly dying, and it was very depressing. I moved it to a different location in the house that received more natural light and started giving it a little boost of plant food every 4-8 weeks, and it is now a thriving monstrosity. Not only is it taller than all of us, it sent off another chute that is also doing really well. At this point, my worry has switched from "How do I keep this thing alive?" to "What do I do when it starts taking over the living room?" I'm interested to see if it continues to thrive during the winter months or if it experiences another setback like it did last year. 

Returning . . . to school. I already wrote about this, but Aaron went back to school at the end of the month after a long hiatus. A happy day for all of us!.

Attending . . . the temple for the first time. What with two bone marrow transplants and a pandemic, it has been nearly two years since Aaron was old enough to go to the temple without being able to actually go. But finally, finally, everything worked out in his favor. Several months ago, my sister-in-law snagged a time slot at the Ogden temple (appointments have been a little hard to come by, especially for baptisms). They were allowed to have up to sixteen people in her group, so she asked if we wanted to come too. It ended up being Sonja and her husband and three of their kids, Mike, Aaron, and me, and Mike's mom. It was a small, intimate group, and it could not have been a more ideal first-experience for Aaron. 

Sharing . . . clothes (accidentally). One morning, I went to grab my jacket before walking to the bus stop with Bradley and Clark. I couldn't find mine, but I found Maxwell's (both are dark gray). I realized that he must have accidentally worn mine to school instead of his own. For some reason, this cracked me up. Not only did mine have a rose gold zipper, but it was also a maternity jacket with gathers at the sides to accommodate a belly. When he got home, he said he realized pretty quickly that he'd taken the wrong jacket, but luckily, it was a warm day and he didn't need it after the walk to school. 

Getting . . . our first snow, which amounted to just enough to scrape together a little snowball on the walk to school. Mostly, we just got a lot of rain in October, which I loved.

Visiting . . . Hill Air Force Base. On a quick weekend trip to Logan, we made a stop at Hill Air Force Base to look at all of the airplanes. We had been to the museum once before, but Clark and Ian were too young at the time to remember it. We could have spent hours there (maybe even days) if we'd taken the time to read all of the info. But going with a four-year-old meant that we did the fast tour and walked past all of the planes in about an hour. As we were leaving, one of the guides said, "Are you already leaving? Did you go all the way to the back? Did you see everything?" I don't think he was impressed by our efficiency. 

Spending . . . time at the cabin. We went to the cabin for a couple of days during fall break. Mike's sister and her family were there too, which meant my kids were in heaven because there was a constant stream of games. The fall colors were beautiful, but there were many fallen branches and trees (the snow storm that brought so little snow to Salt Lake dumped many inches in Logan Canyon). We always enjoy the reprieve that comes from spending time in the mountains.

Finishing . . . a cardigan. I finally finished one of my big knitting projects that I started at the end of summer. Cardigans are definitely one of my favorite things to wear because they're so easy to layer with other things. (And right now, I've been getting all sorts of hot flashes so it's nice to have something that's easy to take off at a moment's notice.) I have a few light-colored cardigans, so I wanted a dark one I could wear with anything. I love the color, the style, the fit, and that cozy shawl collar (which alone took an entire week to knit). I've been wearing it a lot this fall.

Deciding . . . on a Halloween theme. Ever since Aaron was a baby, we have done a family costume. Usually, the boys have decided on a theme months in advance, but this year, nothing was sticking. We talked about it at dinner over and over again, and the best they could come up with was "super mega BYU fans". . . whatever that means. I finally decided we better just go with it, and even though it didn't sound very exciting, it at least seemed like it would be easy. But then, three weeks before Halloween, I was chatting with my friend, and I mentioned something about wishing I could have thought of a movie or book or group that had a good pregnant character (since, even though this is my sixth time being pregnant, it's really the only one where the timing has worked out to look pregnant on Halloween). My friend suddenly said, "I know exactly who you should be!" She reminded me that the mom, Chicha, in The Emperor's New Groove is very pregnant. As soon as she suggested it, I knew it was the perfect idea. I also knew I'd have no trouble convincing my family change ideas: The Emperor's New Groove is a Johnson family classic. My kids can quote almost the entire movie. Once they start with the quotes, they just pour out of them. And sure enough, by that evening, we had settled on all of our characters with very little fuss: Mike--Pacha, me--Chicha, Aaron--Kronk, Maxwell--Kuzco, Bradley--Theme Song Guy, Clark--Kuzco (the llama), and Ian--the little old man who gets thrown off the balcony. Was this more work than the BYU costumes would have been? No question. It was a joint effort between Mike and me with many trips to the fabric store and trading back and forth on the sewing machine. Only one of us (me) had a full-on meltdown one day, but other than that, we methodically checked off all of the pieces of each costume, and by the end, we made a pretty convincing cast (minus Yzma, whose absence was acutely felt). The family costume lived to see another year, and it might have been our favorite one yet. 

Walking . . . the neighborhood on Halloween. Actually, our neighborhood celebrated the day before Halloween (on Saturday). This was so nice. I would love to permanently move Halloween to the last Saturday of October. It's just so great not to have to worry about going to school the next day. We had absolutely perfect weather for it--sunny and warm. First we went to our old neighborhood for their Halloween parade--a tradition I highly recommend. They do it in the late afternoon before it gets dark and cold and all of the neighbors set up trick-or-treating stations on their porches or at the ends of their driveways. It's easy to see everyone and stop for a couple of minutes for a quick chat. People were easily able to recognize our family theme (unlike some of the more obscure years in the past). After we got back, Max went trick-or-treating with his friends, Mike took Bradley and Clark around the neighborhood, and Ian and I stayed home and passed out candy. Aaron also went out with one of his friends, and they got called out for being too old for trick-or-treating, which was probably fair (they are 13, after all), but at the same time, I thought they could cut them some slack since they were both dressed up in legitimate costumes, not grabbing handfuls of candy, and were nice and polite. I, for one, was actually so glad they weren't ready to give up on their childhood quite yet. 

I'm sure there were other things I meant to tell you about, but October was so long ago they've slipped my mind! Until next time . . . 


  1. Such happy news all month! You guys are making amazing memories and recording them well!

  2. Another great month!

    The traditional way in my old neighborhood to get a few extra years of trick-or-treating is to volunteer to take the younger siblings around. But I give candy to everyone in costume.

    I went to the Hill Air Museum on my last trip to Utah (Pre-pandemic). I went with a history teacher and an fighter plane enthusiast, so we did not get any efficiency awards, but did get some approving nods from the docents when they asked very good questions.

    Congratulations on all the milestones, from school concerts to cardigans to temple!

    1. Yes, I thought about having him go around with Ian, but Ian didn't have the stamina to do any more trick-or-treating after the neighborhood parade. We'll see what happens next year--around here, it seems like teenagers all choose to hang out with friends while eating treats and playing games/watching a movie.

      I bet the docents LOVED you guys at HAF.


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