A Little of This and That in August

Sep 11, 2022

August brought us a series of afternoon and evening thunderstorms, which was just the nicest summer gift. We wrapped up all of our summer activities, kicked off new ones, and got settled in for fall. Some highlights included . . . 

Beginning . . . the month by pushing up onto hands and knees (Silas) and ending the month by crawling all over the house, using a combination of crawling steps and inch-worm scoots. He also learned how to go from crawling to sitting and back to crawling. He developed his pincer grasp so he can pick up even the smallest of crumbs. He tries to eat our faces when we say, "give kisses." And he decided he doesn't like anyone outside of the family, but he adores everyone in it. It was a big month for our Sy Guy.

Holding . . . our annual family book club. This is a summer tradition I started years ago, but to be perfectly honest, it fell a little flat this year. I chose a graphic novel, which has been successful in the past because it appeals to our wide range of ages. But this year, I went with the graphic novel biography of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and it just wasn't a good choice. We all loved learning about RBG, but it felt more like a long picture book than a graphic novel. I can't quite put my finger on it, but it just didn't feel like the graphic novel format worked to tell this story, or it just wasn't executed very well. We all felt it. My kids were all excited about the food, but they couldn't have cared less about discussing the book. So I felt annoyed and irritated, and it was just kind of disappointing. 

Switching . . . bedrooms. Aaron has had his own bedroom for the last two years, but Bradley has always wanted his own. So they decided to switch everything around: Aaron and Clark are now together, as are Maxwell and Ian, and Bradley is by himself. Somehow, even with all that switching, I still have a baby in my room. Hmmm. 

Planning . . . a primary activity. We had a little primary activity that was focused on the Articles of Faith. The kids each got to paint a frame (that held a copy of the Articles of Faith), play some outside games, pass off a few Articles of Faith (so impressed by their awesome memories!), and eat root beer floats. It was a fun night, and I was finally glad to be able to do it since we had to cancel it last month when our family had Covid. 

Deciding . . . to go to Singin' in the Rain at Hale Center Theater. When I saw that this play was part of the lineup for 2022, I really wanted to go because this is one of my all-time favorite musicals. I waffled back and forth though because sometimes it isn't worth it to go to something where I know the entire score and script forward and backward, but I finally bit the bullet and bought tickets. And it was amazing! Seeing it on stage was different enough from watching it on the screen that even hearing all of the well-known lines felt fresh. And the set! During the title song, gallons of water poured down from above. It was quite effective. Such a fun afternoon with Mike.

Finding . . . the one food Silas likes. Although Silas wants to try everything, he has been slow to like anything. That is, until we gave him ice cream. I feel embarrassed to even admit that I gave my six-month-old ice cream, but can I blame my other kids? They totally pressured me into it! One evening, we were all eating ice cream, and Silas was doing his usual reach and grab: "Oh, he wants it, Mom! Please give him some ice cream! Please, just try! Come on, Mom!," they all begged. So I relented. I figured he would do what he did with all other foods: grimace and spit it out. But instead, his eyes lit up and he excitedly leaned over for more. I couldn't get that ice cream into his mouth fast enough. It was as if he finally understood why we all seemed to like food so much, and you could almost hear him chastising all of us, "You've been holding out on me!" When Mike finally took him away from the cone, he cried in protest.

(These photos were actually taken during the second time he ate ice cream, which produced the exact same results.)

Letting . . . Levi go. Max raised another praying mantis this summer. There was far less drama this time around than last year, and Max let Levi (short for Leviathan) go well before he was reaching the end of his life. It was a good run. 

(Clark holding a different praying mantis, not Levi)

Running . . . a lemonade stand. Clark had been begging all summer to do a lemonade stand, but that's not really my thing, so I kept putting him off. But then he got together with two of his buddies and planned out the whole thing. When one of the other moms decided to support them in their money-making endeavors, I couldn't say no. They set up on the corner right by our little neighborhood pool where they knew they'd get a lot of traffic. They each made some baked goods to sell in addition to the lemonade. Clark thought of a bunch of ways to earn more money. ("We have to make lemonade from scratch! Anyone can buy Country Time at the grocery store!" "How about I leave off the sprinkles on my sugar cookie bars and then say, 'Add sprinkles for five cents'?" "You guys can't eat any of our cookies. Those are for the customers.") The afternoon they chose to do it on was extremely hot (perfect for thirsty customers, but not so great for three little boys), but they stuck it out for several hours and ended up making over $60 total. Pretty thrilling for eight-year-olds. 

Going . . . to the ward family campout. I knew I wasn't going to stay in a tent with Silas, but I planned to go for the evening. But then a storm was threatening and we were struggling to pull everything together quickly, and I just lost my motivation. So Bradley, Maxwell, Silas, and I all stayed home, and Mike, Aaron, Clark, and Ian went. This ended up being the right decision. Mike had fun with the boys who went with him. And I had fun with the boys who stayed home with me (and I totally schooled them in Five Crowns).

Saying . . . goodbye to summer with one final hurrah. David Archuleta was starring as Joseph in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat at Tuacahn in St. George. Our whole family loves David Archuleta and this musical, so this was a no brainer for us. We had to go. However, we had a bit of a problem: a baby and a five-year-old that we couldn't take to the play with us. So I asked my mom if she wanted to come on a little one-night adventure to St. George. She agreed (and so did my sister, Angela). But our mini-van couldn't hold such a large group. So we decided to rent a sprinter van. (The whole scenario started to feel a little like If You Give a Mouse a Cookie . . .)

And it ended up being the most fun (and maybe most expensive) little two-day trip ever! Really, from start to finish, we just had the best time. The kids loved the sprinter van. It was big and spacious and epic (their words, not mine). 

We rented a condo that had access to several swimming pools, so we all went swimming in the afternoon and then the next morning before we left. We also got to see one of my brothers and his family as we passed through Cedar City on the way home.

And then the play! The play. It was just . . . everything. All the superlatives you can think of. When David Archuleta rose up out of the floor for the first song, Mike and I looked at each other and said, "If it gets rained out right now, it will still be worth it." Hearing David's voice on these songs we all love so much was just the best. I wish I could get the soundtrack with his voice. In true Tuacahn fashion, everything was over the top: the white limo that rolled out with Potiphar in it, the blindingly brilliant coat of many colors, the live animals, the fireworks. And even though we went for David Archuleta, the entire cast was absolutely phenomenal. So much talent. I thought Clark might get tired because it was such a late evening, but he was riveted the entire time (and told me that he would be scared to be one of the child actors but would love to be the guy leading the camel). 

It was just such a fun couple of days and would not have been possible without my mom and sister. What a gift they gave to us!

Missing . . . the first day of school, and not by choice. The backpacks were packed, Mike had given everyone a father's blessing, they had gone to bed early in preparation, and . . . Clark woke up sick (and he was definitely the most excited of the bunch, so it was a real bummer). The rest of the boys went and had a good first day, but then Max and Bradley were sick the next day and stayed home, and Aaron missed a day the following week. So it was a bit of a rough start.

Starting . . . high school and kindergarten. Two big milestones this year. Aaron is in high school, and Ian is in kindergarten. The high school seemed big and scary and daunting (especially because there is a lot of construction going on around it right now), but Aaron just took it one step at a time, and it has been a pretty smooth transition so far (it helped that there was a three-hour orientation the day before that made him feel prepared). So far, he really loves his graphics class and seminary. Ian is going to a different elementary school than the other boys for several reasons, but he is loving everything about it.

Joining . . . the cross country team. Aaron decided to join the high school cross country team. He will be quick to admit that he's close to the slowest one on the team, but overall, it has been a good experience for him. If you've talked to me in real life, you'll know that I'm frustrated because almost all of the meets are on holidays, school breaks, or school days. 

Swimming . . . there's always swimming to mention in the summer months. The crowds tapered off as the beginning of school approached, and we had many days when we had it mostly to ourselves. I even put on goggles and went swimming one day. It's rare for me to go all the way under the water, and my kids were kind of shocked. Ian got increasingly more brave, but ended the summer without tackling the deep end by himself (although he sometimes jumped off the board if I was there to catch him). Next summer, he'll get it, I bet. 

Hosting . . . book club (aka, the most stressful night of the year for me . . . just kidding . . . sort of). Hosting parties is not one of my strengths, so usually I leave the planning and hosting to Mike. But when it's for book club, I kind of have to do it myself because it's totally my thing. Usually though, I can at least pawn off the kids on him or get him to take out the garbage for me or some other little chore. But this time, he was actually not feeling well on the day I hosted, so he was totally out of commission. Luckily, I had Bradley who stepped in and did those little odds and ends jobs, and I was so grateful! And it all ended up working out. We discussed the essay collection, These Precious Days by Ann Patchett, which I loved, and we ate popsicles and ice cream bars because . . . August.

Saving . . . up for a Lego set. I told Aaron that I was done with buying big Lego sets. We don't have any more room for big sets. Plus, he can put together thousands of pieces in just a few hours, so they're just not worth the money. But that didn't stop him from deciding to save up the money for one himself. A new roller coaster (The Loop) came out earlier this summer, and Aaron fell in love with it. I've never seen him so determined to get something. He earned money by doing yard work for other people, painting our old house, watering while some neighbors were out of town, and saving birthday money. He finally had enough at the end of August and wasted no time in making his purchase. I thought he might want to savor and stretch out the building process, but that's not his style. He built it as quickly as possible and loved every minute of it. 

Losing . . . track of time. Nothing makes me realize how fast time is zipping along more than when I completely misjudge how long ago something was. This happened recently when I was talking to my cousin about jury duty. I was telling her about my jury duty experience from a few years ago. "Let's see, I said, "I know one of my kids was in kindergarten at the time. It must has been Clark." The very next day, I happened to get a jury summons in the mail. "I can't believe it!" I protested, "I just did jury duty! Aren't you supposed to be exempt for a few years?" That's when I finally decided to look back and see when I'd actually served. Um, it was when Max was in kindergarten, seven years ago. 

Boating . . . and sailing. Aaron, Maxwell, and Bradley each had the opportunity to do some water activities with their youth groups at church. Aaron and Max wakeboarded, which they'd never done before. Mike is one of their youth leaders, so he went with them. They all stayed in a cabin overnight and had one-of-a-kind pancakes the next morning for breakfast (or so I've been told). Bradley's youth leader has a sailing membership, so he took the boys out on the water one evening. The wind was just right for a great time. 

Speaking . . . in church. This was another thing that was cancelled during the week we were out with Covid, but it didn't get me off the hook for long. I spoke with the other women in the primary presidency. We each talked about a favorite primary song. I chose My Heavenly Father Loves Me and shared several experiences when I've felt God's love for me through His creations. 

Hanging . . . out with the whole neighborhood at the pool. Some of our friends rented an outdoor pool for the evening and invited everyone in the neighborhood to come swim. It was the perfect set up: a warm summer night, dozens of friends to talk to and play with, Chick-fil-A right across the street, and unlimited turns down the water slide. Hoping this one becomes a summer tradition. 

Selling . . . the house. Technically, we didn't officially close until September 1st, but I'm still putting it in August since that was when the bulk of all the house things occurred. When we originally listed our house in the middle of July, we immediately received several offers. We accepted one of these and started to move forward, only to have the buyers back out a few days later when they couldn't secure financing. So it went back up on the market, but I felt like we'd lost the initial momentum, and that was a bit discouraging. However, within a few days, we received another offer, which we negotiated before accepting. This time, the process went smoothly to the end, and we finally signed all of the papers. It was so bittersweet. It's so nice to not have to think about a second house anymore, but I feel like something is missing. On the day it closed, we went over to the yard one last time. We picked a few pears from the heavily loaded tree. There was only a single peach on the peach tree (it was a bad year for peaches), but it was ripe, and I worked hard to shape and grow that little tree, so I picked it. Ian spent a few minutes swinging and we loaded up our few remaining belongings that were still there. We heard that the new owners are a sweet little family, so that definitely makes us happy. 

And that concludes this month! I'm ready for some fall weather, as long as winter doesn't follow too close behind!

A Little of This and That in July

Aug 21, 2022

July . . . the height of summer! Our schedule eased up a bit (especially when we were forced to slow down--thanks, Covid!), and we enjoyed some truly lazy summer days. Ian finally relented to the summer routine (which just meant he didn't fight it every single day), and I felt like I would have been content for July to just go on and on and on (except for the extreme heat, which was somewhat stifling). Here's a glimpse at all the things, such as . . . 

Diving . . .  from high places. Like last summer, Bradley participated in a six-week diving class. He loved it. He more than loved it. He looked forward to it every week and spent the entire 50 minutes just beaming as he learned and tried new things: tuck dives, pike dives, back flips, inward dives, and he got sooooooo close to getting his one-and-a-half front flip. Although it made me nervous to watch him balance up on the three meter, he found it exhilarating. This seems to be something that he is truly passionate about. I think he'll continue with it in the fall. 

Prepping . . . our house to sell. When we moved two years ago, we kept our other house and rented it to Mike's cousin and his family. They loved that little house as much as we did, and it made us so happy to see them playing in the front yard and swinging on the porch swing just like we always did. But then David finished his medical residency and got a job in Cache Valley, so we had to decide if we were going to rent it again or sell it. Although the market is starting to trend back down after a crazy high peak, it seemed like it was still an advantageous time to sell. So we replaced all the carpet and painted most of the rooms and put it on the market. As of right now, it is still an ongoing saga, but hopefully I'll be able to give a full report in August.

Playing . . . at the old house. We took advantage of having our other house back for the month of July and did all of the things we'd been missing: playing Annie I Over, roller blading on the flat, quiet street, climbing in the cherry tree, swinging on the swings in the backyard and the porch swing, and enjoying the shade of the big maple tree. The boys asked if we could just keep it as our summer home. How exotic . . . a summer home seven blocks away from our current house. 

Celebrating . . . Independence Day. We couldn't fit in everything we wanted to do and ended up skipping our city parade due to lack of time. But festivities of the day included a morning bike ride with my mom, a water fight and lunch at my parents', dinner and a pool party at our brother-in-law's, and watching fireworks from the roof when we got home.

Spending . . . a joyous day celebrating Anna and Macaulay's marriage! They were sealed in the Provo City Center temple. Anna was stunning in her very light and flowy wedding dress (good foresight for the heat!). We loved meeting all of Mac's family (he is one of eleven kids). After the wedding, we made a pit stop at 7-11 for slushees (maybe our best decision of the day!) and then joined all of the wedding guests at Tucano's for lunch. We spent the afternoon relaxing at my brother's house before going to the reception, which was held at Northampton House. My kids were big fans of the soda bar and doughnuts. But their favorite part of the night might have been the dancing, which completely surprised and delighted me. We ended the day by sending off the newlyweds through a tunnel of sparklers. It was such a happy day.

(Photo by my brother, Ben)
(Photo by my brother, Ben)
(Photo by my brother, Ben)

(photo by my brother, Ben)

Taking . . . lots of naps in the hammock. All of the boys have been so helpful with Silas this summer, but it has been Bradley who has really worked to hone all of his baby skills. He quickly volunteers to play with Silas, change his diapers, get him dressed, feed him, or put him down for a nap. The hammock is one of Silas' favorite napping spots, and Bradley (or sometimes one of the others) loves to rock with him until he falls asleep. It is so sweet. 

Gaining . . . more gratitude at a patriotic fireside. Our neighborhood holds a patriotic program every year. This was the first time we've been able to attend, and we loved it so much. It was held in the gorgeous backyard of one of our neighbors. There was music provided by a variety of talented people (including the children in the neighborhood). There was a guest speaker who recently immigrated with his family to the U.S. to further his education. Hearing him express his perspective and love for this country really deepened my own appreciation for it. The night ended in a perfect way with homemade ice cream.

Swimming . . . at night. At least once every summer, the boys love to go swimming after the sun goes down. It's such a nice time to go--usually not as crowded, and you don't have to wear sunscreen!

Finishing . . . a summer top. I knitted a light, lacy short-sleeved sweater for summer, and I'm obsessed with it. This is not a color I normally gravitate toward, but I chose it in case I couldn't find anything else to wear for my sister's wedding. I have been wearing it every chance I get, and even though it is made out of wool, it is surprisingly not too hot.

. . . to the temple for the first time. Mike took Maxwell and Aaron to the temple to perform baptisms. It was Max's first time, and he was quite excited.

Feeding . . . Silas. I am not one to rush to give my kids real food. It is such a pain, hassle, and mess. But my opinion was not shared by the masses. The other boys noticed the way Silas always reached for anything they were eating, and they sometimes held their food out to him in a tantalizing way before snatching it out of reach. They begged and begged and begged for me to give Silas food, and, truth be told, they wore me down. I have long been a subscriber to the baby-led weaning method, so we started out with sticks of cucumber, apple, and celery, rather than rice cereal. I have spoon-fed him a few things like applesauce and butternut squash and sweet potatoes, but so far, he is highly unimpressed with most things. His expressions of disgust provide endless sources of entertainment for the rest of us though!

Cancelling . . . everything for Covid. Six months after we all got covid, we got it again. This time it traveled through our family much more quickly, and most had extremely mild symptoms (we're talking runny nose and a weak, short-lived cough). It was annoying more than anything else. We had to cancel a week's worth of activities, and some things (like Ian's little music class) could not be rescheduled to a later time. I spent the first couple of days just moping around, feeling angry about the whole quarantine situation. In the end, I was the only one who never had symptoms, and Silas had the worst case out of everyone (probably because he hadn't had it before or been vaccinated). Hopefully we'll be good now for at least another six months.

Enjoying . . . an outdoor summer concert. If I could choose one way to spend a summer evening, it would be going to an outdoor summer concert. We used to go to the free concerts downtown, but that became less and less convenient as we moved slightly farther away and had more kids. But then we found out that our little community hosts outdoor concerts throughout the summer. So Mike and I went to a performance by a local jazz band (N8+). It was a hot evening, but the concert began late enough that everything was soon in shade. It was so pleasant, and I loved it.

Attending . . . an extended family reunion. It has felt like ages since we've been able to go to a big family reunion, so it was a real treat to attend the Washburn reunion (Mike's mom's side of the family). It was a one day affair in Provo Canyon where we ate, talked, played games, splashed in the river, and tried to avoid rattlesnakes (yikes). Sure love these aunts, uncles, and cousins that I inherited when I married Mike!

Catching . . . snippets of Ramona and Henry Huggins. All of my kids listen to audiobooks when they go to sleep. They generally turn to old favorites so that the familiarity of the stories will help them wind down. For the last few months, Beverly Cleary's books have been the choice for Clark and Ian. Before I go to bed each night, I check on each of my kids. As I straighten their blankets and pillows, I listen to just a minute or two of their audiobook, always in a different place than it was the night before. And time after time, I am impressed with Beverly Cleary's genius. Even though I've read all of the books in both the Ramona and Henry Huggins series, I am smitten all over again by just these tiny snippets. She just understood kids in a way that few authors ever have: listening to Ramona's antics make me think of my own childhood and remind me of things my kids have done or said. And you really only have to listen to one random minute to recognize that.

Shopping . . . for groceries. Aaron and Max both made a goal this summer to plan out a few dinner menus, go shopping for the necessary ingredients, and then make dinner. Aaron decided to make sausage and kale soup one night and pepperoni pasta another night. Maxwell's choices were Navajo tacos and lasagna. They made their own shopping lists, and then Mike turned them loose in the store while he did his own shopping. This was really the first time they have had to find things on their own in the grocery store, and it was a good experience for them. Mike oversaw the cooking, but really only stepped in one night when Max's scones were taking a bit longer than planned. (I think they gained a new appreciation for Mike and how quickly he is able to get dinner on the table most nights.) Overall, it was a successful goal, and we all enjoyed their efforts. 

Watching . . . (and enjoying) the new Netflix Persuasion. I realize I could be inviting a lot of shock and criticism with this confession, but I actually thought the new Persuasion was fun and entertaining. Yes, I'm a Jane Austen fan, and yes, I acknowledge that they didn't accurately capture Anne Elliott's true personality or demeanor. But here's the thing: it has been years since I've read the book, so I was able to separate the two completely and just enjoy it for what it was. However, I get that some of you might have very strong (and angry) feelings about it, and I won't dismiss them. I have that type of hatred for the Anne with an E Netflix adaptation, and I will die on that hill. 

Swimming . . . with Bamboo, Anna, and Blaine. My mom (who my kids call Bamboo) came up for the morning to go swimming with us. My brother and sister came, too. I hoped if we went right when it opened that we'd have the pool to ourselves. But alas, we chose a busy day. We still had fun though. 

Learning . . . all about farm animals. Clark spent a week at Wheeler Farm camp with his best buddy, Jude. They milked a cow, rode a horse, watched a blacksmith, gathered eggs, and many more things. Sadly, I don't have any photos. I was planning to take one of Clark with his wooden badge where he was collecting all of his beads, but he lost it on the last day. But photos or not, he had a marvelous time. 

Dressing . . . up as a pirate. Having Clark for an older brother means you sometimes get roped into putting on a pirate costume on a random Thursday in July, just because.

Splashing . . . in the pool for the first time. It took us half of the summer, but we finally timed Silas' naps just right so that he could go to the pool and actually get in the water. His initial impression was very unfavorable, but after a few minutes, he warmed up to it and was quite happy to splash around. 

Working . . . on summer classes. Maxwell and Aaron both took a class over the summer to free up a credit for another elective during the school year. Aaron did Health and Max did Digital Literacy. It was a grind for sure, but they both had strong finishes, and I know they'll be grateful they did it come fall. 

Welcoming . . . our nephew, Steven, back home after serving a church mission in Texas and Lithuania. He opened his mission call in March 2020. It is the last big event our family went to before the world shut down due to the covid pandemic. Steven served during an uncertain, volatile time in the world, but he did it with his characteristic optimism and enthusiasm. We are so glad to have him back!

Backpacking . . . in the Uintas. Mike and Max went on a short backpacking trip with the other 12- and 13-year-old boys in our neighborhood. They went to Wall Lake, which was just a short hike in. Max loved packing in all of their food, cooking, and sleeping supplies. I think it made him feel like a real wilderness man, haha.

Celebrating . . . Aaron's 14th birthday! We all went to the cabin for his birthday, along with Mike's sister and her family and two other nephews. It was basically exactly how Aaron wanted to celebrate: cousins, good food, and lots of games. We gave him a guitar for his birthday, which he has wanted for quite awhile but was completely surprised to receive nonetheless.  

If there's anything else to report from July, I've forgotten what it was! I think that's plenty anyway.

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