A Little of This and That in November

Dec 19, 2021

November was surprisingly warm and free of snow. It felt like we really got to enjoy a full-length fall this year instead of two weeks between summer and winter. This month was a good mix of normal days and out-of-the-ordinary activities. We spent our time . . . 

Finishing . . . off another Great British Bakeoff season. As has become the tradition, we watched the finale with our friends and enjoyed trying some of the bakes from the episodes. We are actually an entire season behind due to slowing way down with our watching while Aaron was recovering from his transplant.

Watching . . . the boys in the Primary program. All of them memorized their parts, and I was especially happy when Ian confidently approached the mic and said his part without prompting because that never happened when we tried to practice at home. Max got to be one of the narrators who spoke before each class got up to say their parts. He took this role very seriously and practiced quite a bit of his own volition. Afterwards, he got a lot of comments from people saying he should be a news anchor or on the radio. (He probably owes all of the credit to his fifth grade teacher from last year who was very good about coaching the kids to speak slowly and clearly.) 

Going . . . to the park. We had such a warm November that Ian and I met up with another mom and her son almost every week for a little park date. Ian is sometimes shy around other kids, but this other little boy has become a great friend of his. They just seem to get each other and spend the entire time playing in the sand with trucks or scampering up the slides or pushing each other on the merry go round. (The added benefit to this is that his mom and I get lots of uninterrupted time to chat!) Hopefully we'll have some nice days this winter so we can continue to get outside and play. 

Going . . . on a field trip with Bradley's class. They went to a production of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang at Hale Center Theater. These are the best kinds of field trips to go on because you only have to keep track of your group of kids on the way in and on the way out, and the rest of the time, they're just in their seats enjoying the show (and I thoroughly enjoyed it, too!). 

Holding . . . my annual piano recital. I hadn't done one since our virtual recital in the spring of 2020. It was so nice to be able to have it in-person this time. I have thirteen students right now (that number includes my kids, except Ian), and all of them performed. It is really rewarding to work on and perfect and memorize pieces in order to make them performance ready, and it is also such a pleasant relief when it's all over and you can move onto other things (in this case, Christmas music!). 

Coming . . . this close to being diagnosed with gestational diabetes. At the same time Aaron was being told he no longer had diabetes, I was flirting with my own diagnosis. At 28 weeks, I had the 1-hour glucose test. It came back high (194, for those interested). I was absolutely positive I had gestational diabetes and immediately went on a low-carb diet (this was the weekend of Halloween, so no candy for me). My midwife said to come in a few days later for the 3-hour test, but this seemed like it was merely a formality since I had read online that anything over 190 was an automatic diabetes diagnosis. But I did the three-hour test anyway. As I drove home from it, I started getting a hot flash (very typical for me during this pregnancy). I was also feeling very hungry at this point. By the time I got home, I was feeling pretty sick and breaking out in a cold sweat. I felt like my blood sugar was low, so I did a quick finger poke to check it. It was only 45. At that point, I started eating as quickly as I could. When the official results came back from the test, my fasting glucose was normal (86), the first hour was high (184), the second hour was normal (136), and the third hour was low (46). So they said I didn't have gestational diabetes after all. However, I've been continuing to monitor my glucose, and it seems like I have a hard time coming back down quickly. So I've been trying to move after I eat and also avoid candy (which was way easier in November than it has been in December).

Getting . . . their first (and second) Covid vaccines. Maxwell, Bradley, and Clark were finally eligible for the Covid vaccine, and we didn't waste any time getting the jab. They were mostly excited about it. Max always gets a little nervous about needles, but he was able to talk himself down and hold still for it, and the other two didn't have any problems. I feel extremely grateful for this added protection for our family and only wish Ian was old enough to get it too.

Wishing . . . for chickens or a dog or rabbits or a parakeet or a bearded dragon. My kids beg for a pet all of the time. Every time we visit cousins or friends that have any sort of animal, they talk about getting their own. Sometimes, I wish I could be that kind of mom for them--the type that would welcome the opportunity to add any number of furry (or scaly) animals to the family. But I'm not. It is something of a miracle that I ever even said yes to a cat (and I kind of regret it every day). I always remind them that when they are adults, they can have any pet they choose (and at that point, they might realize how much work having a pet is and decide not to). In the meantime, they'll have to get their animal fill from other sources (and much thanks to everyone who is always so generous with sharing their pets with them!). 

Seeing . . . a physical therapist. True to my usual pattern in pregnancy, my hips began hurting right around 26 weeks. I decided to make an appointment with a physical therapist to see if there was anything that could be done to lessen the discomfort. This was my first time seeing a physical therapist. The one I chose to go to has a private practice and creates a very meditative environment. After the hour-long session, my hips felt better than they had in weeks. Unfortunately, in spite of my diligent efforts in doing the exercises she recommended every day, the relief hasn't lasted. The pain is worst in the middle of the night after I've been in a stationary position for a long time. 

Cutting . . . off his curls. Aaron's hair came back in super curly. After his first transplant, it was wavy, but this time, it was definitely curly. Unfortunately, he is not really a fan of curly hair and was anxious to cut it in the hopes that it would go back to its normal texture. We'll see. So far, it's still not straight but less curly than it was. 

Gagging . . . at the dentist. Ian loves the dentist. He looks forward to going every six months. He loves watching a show on the ceiling and getting a new toothbrush and using his little tokens at the end to get a couple of prizes. So I didn't feel the slightest trepidation about what was to come on his most recent visit (and neither did he). He'd been counting down the days until his appointment, and he cheerfully hopped up into the chair when it was his turn. The hygienist asked him if he wanted "birthday cake" or "cookie dough" toothpaste, and he chose "birthday cake." He opened up his mouth wide and was already laughing away at an episode of Loony Toones when the hygienist inserted the tool. And then, without warning, it happened. Ian gagged and vomited all over himself. The hygienist and I scrambled but were too late. Ian looked just as surprised as us. I cleaned him up as well as I could, and then the hygienist asked if she should try again. Ian was game (and actually quite cheerful about the whole thing), so he laid back down and opened his mouth again. The hygienist started with his front teeth, but as soon as she moved to the back, it happened again. More vomit, although this time I was at least on high alert. After that, we called it quits. Unfortunately, Aaron was having his teeth cleaned at the same time, so Ian (without a shirt) and I had to hang out in the waiting room until he was done. The happy ending to this story is that we rescheduled for a few days later (I made Mike take him this time), he went with mint toothpaste (in case the birthday cake flavor was the trigger last time), and he didn't have any trouble. 

Swimming . . . at a swim meet. Ever since Bradley's foot healed, he has been very dedicated to swim team. He had a swim meet early in the month and improved all of his times. I love individual sports where they mostly just compete against themselves. It's really motivating to him to see his hard work paying off. 

Creating . . . a baby names bracket. Trying to figure out what this baby's name should be has been hard. Nothing is standing out as the perfect name for him, and our kids are all very opinionated with their own ideas. I actually love that this has become somewhat of a family affair as we hash out ideas and debate the merits or drawbacks of each name. Aaron desperately wants to name the baby after a favorite character from a Brandon Sanderson book (Kalidan). Clark loves it when I add one of his suggestions to The List. After feeling like we were getting nowhere, Mike created a bracket, which each person filled out individually. There were 32 names on the bracket, and I was very discouraged by the end when Mike and I did not have any crossover in names in our final four. A couple of days later, Mike created another bracket. This one only included the top 16 from the previous bracket. This time we discussed and voted on each pair of names before moving on. This was much more helpful as we tried out each name with the middle name (which we've decided on), our last name, and the other boys' names. By the end of that bracket, I felt really good about the eight names that came out on top. So even though we haven't made any actual decisions yet, I think we're getting there.

Having . . . another quiet Thanksgiving at home. For the third year in a row, we chose to keep Thanksgiving small--in terms of people, but not in terms of food. Everyone in the family was involved in the preparation, and the kitchen was a continual busy hive of activity. Because we had so much food but not very many people to consume it all, we decided to break it up into four courses: appetizers, salads, main, and pies. This made it so that we were able to try everything, but we avoided that overstuffed/overfull feeling that often comes with Thanksgiving (except for Max, who wasn't able to show much self-control when the mashed potatoes came around). This also meant that we spent most of the day in the kitchen since it was a lot of cleaning up and preparing for the next course in between eating. My very favorite part of the day might have been between the salads and main course when Ian, Clark, Bradley, and I went over to the school parking lot to ride bikes/scooters and enjoy the gorgeous sunshine. We finished off the day by enjoying our last course (pies) with our good friends who live across the street and watching A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving with them. 

Taking . . . a million Covid tests. That might be a slight exaggeration, but ever since the start of school, our kids have come down with an array of illnesses (even though their schools actually mask pretty well). This especially applies to Ian who is like a toddler all over again and seems to have a perpetual stuffy nose or cough. Every time they get something new, we take them to get a Covid test since, for Aaron's sake, we really would like to know as soon as possible if we're dealing with Covid. So far, we've managed to avoid it (I really don't know how since it seems like they're catching everything else). Ian has probably had the most tests out of all of the kids, but luckily, he actually seems to like them.

Cutting . . . down a Christmas tree. We tried something new this year. We got a permit and went into the mountains to find our own Christmas tree. Even though we live right by some mountains, there are only certain areas that offer permits for Christmas trees, so we actually had to drive a couple of hours to the designated spot. Mike was careful to read all of the rules ahead of time so he knew the approved places for tree cutting, what size/type of tree we were allowed to take, and what we needed to do to legally take it out of the forest. He also made sure he had the correct tools and gear to successfully chop down a tree. He was the real MVP of the day for sure. There wasn't any snow in the canyon we went to . . . but there also weren't a lot of small pine trees, at least not in close range. These are mountain forests, not flat forests, and all of the good trees tended to be at the tops of ridges (at least in the area we were in). Mike and the older boys scrabbled up to the top a few times, lured by a tantalizing tree, but they always returned empty-handed, mostly because the terrain was tricky enough to navigate without a tree, and they didn't know how to safely manage the descent with a tree in tow. Eventually, we settled on a tree we'd found early on in our search. We'd passed on it at first because it was a bit scraggly, but after all of the other attempts, we decided it was the best one. And we ended up falling in love with all of its imperfections (and affectionately naming it Willoughby after one of our favorite Christmas books, Mr. Willoughby's Christmas Tree).  There is definitely a feeling of pride and accomplishment that comes with searching and finding just the right Christmas tree. I think we're all pretty attached to it. 

Decorating . . . the tree. We only put up about half of our ornaments because our little Willoughby was smaller and less robust than our artificial tree. Many of our ornaments are just filler ornaments anyway, so I didn't mind. Ian was so tired from the Christmas tree excursion earlier in the day that he fell asleep before it was time to decorate, but he got in on the action with some of the other decorations. 

Resuming . . . a favorite tradition. Mike's family goes to a performance of Messiah every year--usually at Abravanel Hall with the Utah Symphony, but not always. We've had to miss the last two years due to Aaron's health and Covid, but it happened again this year. Sadly, it wasn't a sing-in and we definitely missed the energy that comes from uniting our voices with hundreds of other people in this beautiful music, but it still worked its magic on us and made us feel the Christmas spirit. 

Putting . . . up the Christmas lights. Last year, Aaron helped with this task. This year, Bradley did it. My kids will take any excuse to get up on the roof. 

The year is flying by. As much as I'm looking forward to saying goodbye to 2021, it has been filled with a lot of good, and I'm glad to have a record of it here. 


  1. Where do you go to get covid tests/how much does it cost/ is it hard to find a place for littles? The only time I've gotten tested is before my c/s 15 months ago, but a bunch of us have colds and are wondering if/how we should get tested. It seemed like it was easier to get a test before the vaccine came out. Now it's easy to get a vaccine, but where do you get tests?

    1. It’s really easy to get a test! Just go to testutah.com to find a location and register. (We almost always go to the one in Salt Lake on Murray-Holladay Road.) They’re just drive-thru sites, so they just administer the test through your window. If you do the rapid test, you’ll have results in less than an hour. If you do the PCR, it takes 1-3 days. We have never paid for a test. I think they’re receiving government funding at this point. Let me know if you have any questions! We’re pros at this, haha.


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