A Little of This and That in November

Dec 11, 2022

Immediately after a warm and beautiful Halloween, the weather turned and stayed that way for all of November: cold temperatures, cloudy days, and several snowstorms. Usually we get some nice fall weather in November, but not this time. It took Ian a few weeks to get the hang of wearing pants every day, but he finally acknowledged that winter was here to stay. Favorite activities from the month included . . . 

Building . . . a family of snowmen. After the first snowstorm of the month, Bradley and Ian made snowmen (and one snow woman!) to represent each member of our family. They looked so cute, and several of our older neighbors commented about how much they loved them. Sadly, it only took a couple of days before they'd melted away. 

Getting . . . together with friends to celebrate all the 40-year-olds in the neighborhood. It's kind of crazy, but a large percentage of people in our neighborhood were turning 40 either this year or next. So one of my friends reserved a room for us at a local restaurant so we could all celebrate together. It was such a fun way to mark this milestone!

Holding . . . a piano recital. All of my piano students participated in a recital at the beginning of the month. We had a variety of music from jazz to folk songs to classical to Disney tunes. A recital is a culmination of weeks of work and preparation, and it is always so rewarding to hear it all come together. Unfortunately, Maxwell was sick and was unable to be there to play. Otherwise, it was a great afternoon. (The group photo is missing a few of my students. I currently teach nine, plus my own kids.)

Wanting . . . to save every precious and adorable worksheet that Ian brings home from kindergarten. I love his handwriting. I love the way he spells words (example: "lie bare" [library], which is exactly how he pronounces it). I love his drawings and his ideas. He's just the cutest. 

Celebrating . . . Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead). My brother organized this tradition a few years ago to honor and remember our ancestors. My mom set up a display of photos and keepsakes from the past. We ate dinner as a family (this year it was burritos to keep with the Mexican theme), and then we gathered by the makeshift ofrenda, and my parents shared stories. Many of them I'd heard, but there were also some I hadn't. My brother recorded them speaking so that we won't lose these memories. This year was especially tender since my maternal grandpa passed away a few months ago, so many of the stories were focused on him. 

Wearing . . . wool socks. I'm on a public mission to make sure everyone knows that wool socks cure stinky feet. One of our boys has had stinky feet for many years, especially in the fall and winter. We replaced all of his regular polyester/cotton socks with wool socks, and it was like magic. It instantly fixed the problem. I had no idea it would be that easy.

Trying . . . to destroy my plant. With all of Silas' recently acquired skills, he can get into a boatload of trouble very quickly. And somehow he seems to know exactly what he should not be doing but do it anyway. There were a few days when he seemed to have it out for my fiddle leaf plant (the one that almost died before miraculously making a complete comeback). He was fixated on grabbing the dirt or leaves, and no matter how many times I pulled him away from it, he went back over for more. Sometimes he would lurk behind it until he saw me coming for him; then he'd grab a fistful of dirt and scamper away as quickly as he could. I considered moving the plant or somehow trying to fence it in, but then decided to just give him a few day to see if the obsession wore off, and, thankfully, it did.

Organizing . . . the annual primary program. As part of my current church calling, I got to help put together the primary program (songs and short spiritual messages during sacrament meeting from the children in our church). We focused on the things we learned from the Old Testament this year and packed the program with songs. I was so worried about the timing of everything, especially after we did a rehearsal that went long. But it ended up being exactly perfect. I have never heard the kids sing so well. But my favorite moment might have been during the sacrament:all of the children were already sitting up on the stand, and they were completely silent. There must have been some divine intervention because I didn't know it was possible for them to be so quiet!

Becoming . . . an art collector. Okay, not really, but realizing that I'd like to be one if I had a lot of money. Ever since I bought the Mount Olympus oil painting from my friend, Molly, I have been interested in getting more original art for our home. Molly's work was in the 1-3-5 Fine Art Show this month, so I convinced Mike to go to it with me for a date. It was amazing. It was like being in an art museum. Of course I loved Molly's paintings, but there were so many other artists to discover, each with their own unique style and focus. I fell in love with a little painting of Utah's Jordan River by Barbara Brandeburg, and even though I hadn't necessarily intended to buy anything, I couldn't help myself. It came home with me, inspiring me to decorate the mantle for Thanksgiving (although this is your public service announcement that if you think you can find fall decorations two weeks before Thanksgiving, you're wrong; you should have thought of that back in September). 

Playing . . . on a basketball team. Ian has never played basketball before, but a group of his friends from kindergarten were putting together a team, and so I signed him up. He has loved it so much more than I thought he would. Every Saturday, they have a 25-minute clinic where they learn ball handling skills followed by a 25-minute scrimmage. It's the perfect set up for a bunch of 5- and 6-year-olds. 

Finishing . . . some projects. Some months, I don't finish anything, and other months (like this one), I finish a lot! I completed a sweater, shawl, slippers, and Silas' stocking. The sweater has big, graphic stripes that made it a little challenging to make sure I ended up with a sweater that was the right length. I've been wearing it a lot since finishing it. It is comfortable and cozy. The shawl was one of the most enjoyable things I've ever made. It was fairly simple and mindless, but the yarn just felt so nice on the needles (and the little lace border at the very end added just the right touch). (Also, side note: I purchased an inexpensive remote so I could take photos of myself, and I wish I'd done it a long time ago.) The slippers were a fun challenge. I really wanted to learn how to purl colorwork, and the heel requires both knitting and purling, so it was a great small project for that. Max was obsessed with them, so I'm making him a pair for Christmas (I'll share a photo of both next month). And finally, Silas needed a green stocking to match everyone else's. That is the end of my green corduroy fabric though, so we can't have any more boys!

Forming . . . opinions about food. Silas loves bananas, grapes, and blueberries. Also, cheese and toast. And ice cream. Always ice cream. 

Being . . . a KSL news anchor for a day. Bradley's class went to JA Biztown (a national program designed to help kids learn about the real world in a simulated environment). Prior to going to Biztown, each person in his class was given a career. They were each allowed to submit their top three choices, and their teacher took that into consideration when making assignments. At first, Bradley wanted to be the town DJ (and even campaigned for it), but then decided he'd rather be on the KSL news team, and that's what he got to do! Mike volunteered at Biztown, so he got to see Bradley in action. One of the main tasks of KSL was to help promote the other businesses, but when Bradley didn't have any ads to read, he was happy to ad lib (and, according to his teacher, he was quite witty and entertaining). He got to be on the news crew with some of his best friends, and he had an awesome day feeling like an adult.

Finding . . . out that Aaron's blood counts are holding steady and looking the best they ever have. As we gave thanks for all our blessings this month, this was one we definitely didn't take for granted.

Feeling . . . peace in the temple. I took advantage of Mike being home for several days during Thanksgiving break and went to the temple one morning. My mind has been filled with questions lately, and everything settled into place as I sat unhurried and peaceful in the celestial room after the session.

Spending . . . Thanksgiving with my family. For the last three years, we have done Thanksgiving on our own, but we were ready for a change this year. We went to my parents' along with four of my brothers and one of my sisters. My brother, Gordy, smoked the turkey, and everyone else contributed the traditional things, and it was quite a feast. In the evening, we went to our neighbors' house for more pie and A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving. It was so fun to be with family for the holiday, but we also really missed just doing the meal by ourselves. We didn't really have many leftovers (one of the best parts of Thanksgiving!), so Mike ended up making a second Thanksgiving dinner on the Sunday after. 

Purchasing . . . a new van. This was kind of huge for us. Mike had been on the hunt for a different van for months. Our 2007 Honda Odyssey crossed over 200,000 miles in the summer, and it was starting to show its age. The problem was, we have always bought old vehicles, and that is how Mike wanted to continue. I, on the other hand, was ready for something that was newer than ten years old when we bought it. I didn't need something brand new, but I wanted it to have fewer than 100,000 miles. So we negotiated back and forth. It was not a great time to buy a used vehicle since they were almost as expensive as brand new. In fact, Mike was so fed up with the high used car prices that he decided to buy a brand new van . . . but found out that it would be an eight-month wait. In the end, he found us a 2018 black Honda Odyssey with only 41,000 miles. It was more than we wanted to spend, but it is exactly what we wanted, and we have all been loving all of its fancy and convenient features. (My favorite? The heated seats!)

Earning . . . the title of "Chief Resident Mischief Maker." Ever since Silas learned to walk, he cannot be stopped. He is into everything (not just the plant mentioned above). All day, every day, he opens cupboards, drawers, the garbage can, baskets, and bins. He takes stuff out and then relocates it. So we might find a cooking whisk on the stairs or a marker in the kitchen or a toothbrush in the bedroom. He also loves cords, the toilet plunger, and the removable grate under the refrigerator. Anything we don't want him to have, he wants with a passion. You know how it goes. It's an exhausting time of life (for him and for us), but we also love it so so much. He loves to dance to music, run away when being chased, look at books, and be snuggled. 

Bolting . . . the Christmas tree into the floor. I've been rather anxious about having a Christmas tree with Silas around (see: "Chief Resident Mischief Maker" above). I was just sure he'd pull the whole thing over on top of himself. As we were decorating the house, Mike excitedly told me, "I came up with a genius idea! [maybe he didn't say "genius" but it was implied] I bolted the tree stand into the floor!" "You what?" I asked. "You mean you put a screw through the carpet?!" "Yes, that's exactly what I did! We don't have to worry about the tree tipping over!" "But . . . what about the carpet? It will have holes in it now!" "No, it won't. The carpet will just fill the space back in after I take out the screws." Hmmmm, not convinced, but I have to admit that I haven't worried once about Silas pulling over the tree!

Introducing . . . a favorite tradition. Mike's family attends Utah Symphony's production of Handel's Messiah every year. It is one of my favorite holiday traditions, but this year, I decided to stay home with the littles and Mike took Aaron and Maxwell instead. They had never been before, and they loved it. Max said it got a little tiring standing up for the chorus numbers and sitting back down for the solos, but Aaron said, "There wasn't any part of that I didn't love," and that just made me so happy. 

Making . . . a pretty cool diorama of a coconut crab. Clark had to study an animal (of his choosing) and then write a report about it and make a diorama. He made the crab out of clay, and it ended up being a really accurate representation of it.

Going . . . on a magical snowy walk. I walk with a few friends on Tuesday mornings. At the end of the month, it was snowing when we woke up, but we decided to go anyway, and it was one of my favorite walks ever. It was still dark, but the snow made everything bright and light. No one else was out, and every sound was muffled because of the snow. The trees, houses, and roads were all covered in white, and it felt like an absolute privilege to be out in such a wonderland.

And that's a wrap on November. Life is good.

A Trip to Washington D.C. with Aaron (and Silas) // Part 1

Nov 26, 2022

(As I was adding the photos to this post, I realized it was getting way too long for anyone to read. Rather than cutting it down, I decided to just split it into two parts.) 

One thing I've always wanted to do was take each of the boys on a solo trip. Originally, my plan was for Mike and me to take each one somewhere the year they turned twelve. But with covid and a second bone marrow transplant, a trip wasn't even a possibility for Aaron when he was twelve. So it got pushed back to thirteen . . . and then to fourteen.

But finally a few months ago, we began planning in earnest. We wanted Aaron to choose where he wanted to go, but he actually hates making most decisions (even fun ones like this). We made a list of a bunch of different cities in the US and tossed around a couple of them for awhile before eventually nudging him towards Washington DC. He readily agreed, and we began to come up with an itinerary. 

We knew we'd have to bring Silas with us, so we took that into account as we looked at flights (non-stop was a must) and lodging (no hotels). We eventually decided to take a red eye on Wednesday night with a return flight on Monday morning. That would give us four solid days in the city to explore as much as we could. Mike bought tickets for a few places (Ford's Theater, Spy Museum, Air and Space Museum, Mount Vernon), but then we left the rest of the time open to give us some flexibility. We planned to rent a car but also use the metro to get around the city.

In the days leading up to the trip, we were all filled with so much anticipation. This was a trip we had been thinking about for so long, and it was exciting to have it about to actually happen. (It also triggered some anxiety for me as I worried that something would happen that would make it impossible for us to go. This is very typical of me before any major events.)

In the end, we only had two minor mishaps. The first happened just hours before departure when Mike got a call from our Airbnb saying that they were canceling our stay. He scrambled to find another place in the same general vicinity, and we ended up loving it, so it was a mishap in our favor. 

The second one happened after we had exited our plane and retrieved our bags. Aaron realized he had left his hat on the plane. All the signs warn you that you are leaving a secure area and won't be able to go back, but we found out that's not entirely true. You can go back, but it's a huge pain. You have to reprint your boarding pass and go through security again to return to your gate. But Mike did it for Aaron, and you'll notice the hat being worn in many of the photos below.

Other than those two things, the trip was perfect. Before this trip, I sort of wondered if all of the time and effort and money would be worth it, and the answer was a resounding yes. Going on a trip with just one child (and a baby) is a completely different experience than traveling as a family. We could focus on what Aaron wanted to do, and everything felt easier and more relaxed. A 14-year-old (especially this one) is so patient and chill and easy going and helpful, and Mike and I both really like him.

With other trip posts, I've shared the highlights in no particular order. But this time, I think I'll go through the trip chronologically and share what we did and saw and ate on each particular day. 

Wednesday-Thursday, October 12th-13th

Our flight left at 11:05pm on Wednesday night. Silas slept almost the entire flight. Aaron slept for about half of it. I slept for maybe 30-45 minutes. And Mike drifted off for a couple minutes here and there. Needless to say, we were pretty beat by the time we landed, located the lost hat, and picked up our rental car. We had booked a hotel close to the airport for Thursday morning, so got there at about 7:00am and crashed for a few hours. This was such a good choice because it meant we were fairly well rested and energized for the remainder of the day.

We checked out of the hotel around noon and drove into the heart of DC. We parked close to the Jefferson Memorial. It had rained all morning while we were sleeping at the hotel but had stopped by the time we were ready to see the sights. We decided to walk the five-mile loop all the way around the National Mall. This was the perfect thing to do on our first day when we had all of the adrenaline and excitement that comes with being at the beginning of a trip.

Funny/embarrassing story about the National Mall: Before our trip, people kept asking me if we were going to the National Mall, and I kept responding with something like, "Maybe . . . if we have time" while thinking to myself, "I really don't care anything about shopping, even if it is a famous mall!" Since I had never been to DC before, I had no idea that the National Mall wasn't an actual mall but a gorgeous park that housed all of the memorials and monuments. I thought it was like the Mall of America. As we were walking to each new monument, I kept seeing signs that mentioned the National Mall, and finally I said, "So where is the National Mall?" and Mike got an amused look on his face and said, "This is it. We're walking it right now." In retrospect, I should have been aware of this much sooner in my life since many historical moments have happened at the mall, but never having been before, I just didn't understand. So this trip wasn't educational for only Aaron, haha.

But speaking of the National Mall, we all agreed that it was definitely at the top of our highlights from this trip. Each monument was so unique and different from the others. The layout was spacious and open, and I loved the way you could see the Washington Monument no matter where you were in the downtown area. It was really special to see these places in real life that I'd seen in so many photos over the years.

My favorite monuments though were the ones I wasn't familiar with beforehand. I particularly loved the Roosevelt and World War II memorials. 

We had the path mostly to ourselves and really only encountered what could be called a crowd at the Lincoln Memorial. Everywhere else was quiet and serene. With the overcast sky and wet pavement and leaves, it was just really pleasant. 

We were pretty hungry when we made it back to our car. We decided to go to dinner at Farmers Fishers Bakers. We ate outside and enjoyed the eclectic atmosphere. The big, thick onion rings that we ordered for an appetizer were the best things we ate there, although Mike's crab cakes were memorable as well.

From there, we finally checked in at our Airbnb, which was located in Bethesda. It happened to be within walking distance of Levain Bakery, so as soon as we brought up all our bags, we rushed over there before it closed to grab some cookies and other baked goods. It was just as good as we remembered from New York City. Such a treat.

When we got back to our apartment, we put Silas to bed and then watched part of Hamilton before turning in early ourselves. We needed to catch up on missed sleep from the night before. 

Friday, October 14th

Although we had planned to take the metro (Mike had purposely chosen an Airbnb that was close to a metro station), we decided to take our chances and try driving into the city. Turns out, parking wasn't bad at all, so we opted to drive all the days we were there. Almost every time we got in the car, both Silas and Aaron would fall asleep, so it ended up being a good choice for us all around. 

Our first activity of the day was a tour of Ford's Theater. In preparation, I had purchased the book, Chasing Lincoln's Killer by James L. Swanson, and Aaron and I had both read the first few chapters. This made the tour so interesting. The tour included a lecture in the theater that went over the timeline of events, so reading ahead of time wasn't necessary, but there was something about knowing all of the details beforehand that made everything more memorable. 

After Ford's Theater, we were very hungry. We went to Potbelly's for lunch (a chain sandwich shop). I think both Mike and Aaron would say this was their favorite meal of the trip. We took our sandwiches to a bench near the World War I Memorial and ate them while Silas took a little snooze in the stroller. 

We had a little time to kill after lunch, so we walked past the White House and looked around the Smithsonian castle.

We had tickets for the Air and Space Museum at 2:00pm. The museum had been closed for a few months, and Friday happened to be the day it reopened. There was so much to see (the Wright brothers' plane! Neil Armstrong's space suit!), but having a baby definitely made us quicken our pace a bit (Silas' favorite part was the fountain outside). 

Afterwards, we found some shady grass so that Silas could walk and crawl around. We did a brief walk through the National Gallery of Art. We were actually searching for gelato, and after a couple of failed attempts we found some at Dolcezza. 

We drove back to our Airbnb and walked to Tikka Masala for dinner. One thing that was so fun about this trip was that Aaron was game to try any food, and we took full advantage of it. (Also, besides having yummy food, this restaurant had the nicest staff of any other place we went in DC.) When we got back to our apartment, we put Silas to bed and then watched National Treasure to set the stage for our third day.

Click here for Part 2!

Proudly designed by Mlekoshi playground