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.

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