A Little of This and That in January

Feb 5, 2023

Is it bad that I often end the month of January by thinking, "Whew, we made it"? This January honestly wasn't too terrible, but it still felt suuuuuuper long. We got a lot of snow, which actually helped it not feel as gloomy as it sometimes does. Anyway, this is what we were up to: 

Receiving . . . a huge dumping of snow on New Year's Day. It snowed and snowed and snowed, and by afternoon, Aaron and Clark decided to bundle up and go out in it. They started to build an igloo, and after awhile, Bradley and Maxwell joined them, too. Their dedication to the project waxed and waned, except for Aaron, who stayed outside the entire time. The sun set, and they kept on working, all four of them putting on the final touches in the dark. 

Working . . . on stem fair projects in the dark. This is what happens when you leave the experiment to the last minute. (In spite of this procrastination, Bradley's project still moved onto district, which maybe didn't teach him the best lesson...)

Enjoying . . . vegetable soup. Knowing about my goal to eat 1000 vegetables this year (that's 1000 servings, not 1000 different varieties), Mike decided to give me a little boost by making a big pot of vegetable soup on my birthday. He divided it into portions of two servings each, and it has been the perfect thing to eat on these cold January days. It's the birthday gift that keeps on giving.

Observing . . . my birthday by going out for brunch with another couple. We tried a new-to-us place, Sunday's Best, and the atmosphere felt a little too hip for our middle-aged selves, but the food was top notch. I actually had thrown out my back a couple of days before, so I spent quite a bit of my birthday flat  on the couch (woohoo, looks like 38 is going to be a party), but I did manage to soak up the rare sunshine on a walk.  Mike spoiled me with breakfast in bed, the aforementioned vegetable soup, pork loin for dinner, and a delectable pumpkin cake for dessert. Birthdays tend to depress me a bit, but I made it through this one mostly unscathed thanks to my nice boys. 

Compiling . . . a winter playlist. It's one of my favorite things to do as the seasons change. I don't always remember to share the playlists, but here is the one for this winter. My kids are also very aware of my love of these seasonal playlists and are always telling me about songs that would be particularly good for a certain season. I'm always keeping a running list of potential songs, so I'm grateful for their suggestions.

Sledding . . . in Neff's Canyon. This is a must every winter. Mike took most of our boys (not Ian or Silas) and met up with Sonja and her kids. The hike up the mountain makes the ride down all the sweeter.

Recognizing . . . the symptoms of strep. It has been like a constantly revolving door of illness at our house this month. I lost track of who had what and when. Every couple of days, it seemed like another person went down with . . . something . . . not sure if it was the same three symptoms as another person had a few days before or if a new symptom was added this time making it an entirely new illness that everyone would now get. Anyway, for the most part I just let this plethora of malaises run their course. However, at one point in this cycle, Mike and I were having dinner with our friends, and they mentioned that a couple of their kids had had strep. Kathy said something like, "I recognized the telltale signs of it: sore throat, headache, nausea." I perked up because at that very moment, Max was in bed with those exact symptoms. I probably should have recognized it myself except that I don't think I've ever had strep myself. When Bradley came down with the same symptoms the next day, Mike took them both to the instacare, and sure enough, that's what it was. So we were able to get them both on antibiotics, and it cleared up much more quickly than it would have on its own. Now can we be done with sickness for awhile?

Receiving . . . the Aaronic Priesthood, being ordained a deacon, and going to the temple for the first time. It was a big month for Bradley with several important milestones and new responsibilities. (Also of note: registering for junior high and touring the school during the open house.)

Playing . . . basketball. Clark had never really played basketball (aside from participating in a basketball clinic last fall, which he strongly disliked), but when the opportunity to play with a bunch of neighborhood and school friends presented itself, he couldn't pass it up. And he ended up loving it. His coaches were great, and he improved quite a bit throughout the season. (Also, they ended up winning the majority of their games, which always helps you like something more.)

Joining . . . choir. The first half of the school year wrapped up, so Aaron decided to add choir to his schedule. So far, he loves it. After the first day, he said, "Even though a lot of my friends are doing it, even if they weren't, I can tell I'd make friends easily with this group." He liked the choir vibe, and I know exactly what he's talking about because it's the reason why I liked choir so much, too. 

Learning . . . the art of climbing. Silas figured out how to climb up on the hearth and Clark's bed, and he was very proud of himself for both accomplishments. Other noteworthy items from the month: a call to poison control after he got into the dishwasher detergent; finally understanding how to go down the stairs (we all rejoiced); shaking his head when he doesn't want to do something.

Finishing . . .  a couple of knitting projects: a cardigan for me and a jacket for Silas. The cardigan was one of those things I longed for all the time before it was finished. Every time I was cold, I would think, "Man, it would be so nice to just be able to slip into that cardigan right now." So I was very happy when I finished sewing on the buttons on my birthday (a birthday gift to myself!). I had been wanting to make a jacket for Silas for a long time, and even though the zipper was a beast to put in, it has made this jacket so easy to put on Silas, which was the goal. 

Tracking . . . the daylight. I've mentioned before that the hardest thing about winter for me is not the cold, but the lack of light. I decided to start recording the sunrise and sunset once every week so that I could look back after a week's time and see how much daylight we gained. It has been oddly thrilling to notice that, for example, the sun set seven minutes later, or the sun rose three minutes earlier, this week than last! It has been an unexpected source for boosting my mood, and I just feel so grateful for every extra minute the sun is up. And I've started to actually notice it in real life too (not just what the weather app is telling me). For example, it used to be dark when I picked up Ian from his music class, and now it isn't!

Saying . . . goodbye to a favorite cousin. Andrew is headed to Côit d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast) on his mission. 

Feasting . . . on yummy Tex-Mex, courtesy of the boys who made dinner using the recipes from the cooking subscription box they got for Christmas. Mike was present to help as needed, but they were pretty much able to do everything on their own. 

Falling . . . back in love with reading. Not that I ever fell out of love with it, exactly. But I definitely wasn't choosing to read as often as I used to. I started doing a few things that really helped me rediscover the joy and fun of reading. First, I decided I always wanted to listen to a half hour of an audiobook before I watched any knitting videos. This was huge for me. Over the last couple of years, I've enjoyed watching knitting YouTube channels where people discuss their projects or teach new skills. I found myself choosing this more and more often because it didn't require my full attention in the same way as a book, but I wanted to change that. By listening to thirty minutes every day, I no longer had to reacquaint myself with the story every time I turned it on. Plus, since I listened at double speed, I actually was getting through an hour of my audiobook each day. (And also, as I knew would happen, once I was into a story, I tended to listen to more anyway just because I wanted to find out what happened.) Second, I charged my kindle back up. As much as I love reading physical books, it just wasn't working with my current life for a variety of reasons. I'm glad I have this as an option. Third, I started reading a few pages along with my daily scripture study in the mornings. This isn't always from a religious text, but I try to choose something that will at least be motivating, thought provoking, or inspiring. And finally, I let myself choose whatever book I wanted, not necessarily what I "should" be reading. This meant that I actually read quite a bit of fluff during the month of January, and it was so much fun, and I loved it so much. These are the books I finished: Faking Christmas by Cindy Steel, Happier Hour by Cassie Holmes, Things You Save in a Fire by Katherine Center, What You Wish For by Katherine Center, I'll Show Myself Out by Jessi Klein, and Talking as Fast as I Can by Lauren Graham. 

Attending . . . play rehearsals. Ian decided to be in the elementary school play, so he has been going to rehearsals before school once or twice a week. I'm excited to see the end result come April!

Celebrating . . . the first birthday of our sweet Silas. I'm in denial that he is actually one, and I have to admit I felt a bit melancholy on the evening of his birthday just because I was so sad with how quickly this year zipped by. However, his birthday truly felt like a celebration because we are all just so happy he is in our family. He makes everything better. We invited a few family members over for dinner and cake. The "cake" ended up being entirely sculpted from ice cream since ice cream was Silas' first favorite food (and has continued to be so). He wore his party hat around all day and loved ripping the wrapping paper off his presents. What a delight. 

Being . . . in the audience at the recent Face-to-Face. Our stake was invited to be at the recording of the youth devotional in the Conference Center with Elder Gong. Most of the youth in our neighborhood went, and it was an inspiring event to be a part of. 

There you go: January in a nutshell. Grateful to be moving onto February.

(*not our snowman)
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