A Little of This and That in April

May 14, 2023

April is usually my very favorite month of the year, but that was not the case this time around. The flowers and buds and leaves and grass were sooooooo slow in coming, and that seemed rather fitting for my mood and general outlook. If that isn't just the most chipper way to begin a monthly recap, haha. It was a hard month for me personally, but it was still filled with many good things, such as . . . 

Watching . . . General Conference. It was a cozy weekend at home. Clark, Ian, and Bradley made nests of blankets and pillows in which to watch. We ate cinnamon rolls. We watched the Saturday evening session with Mike's sister's family. The talks were so good (three of my favorites were "Jesus Christ is the Strength of Parents" by Elder Uchtdorf , "Have I Truly Been Forgiven" by Elder Nattress, and "Peacemakers Needed" by President Nelson).

Getting . . . so much snow. April did not get off to a great start with 18 inches of snow over two days. It was quite depressing, actually. It just kept coming and coming and coming. I played Christmas music to see if that would help. It kind of made it worse. However, by the end of the week, all of that snow had almost completely melted. My favorite thing was walking to school with Ian and seeing the rivulets of melted snow coursing down the gutters. It was a beautiful sight. 

Making . . . Easter special. I appreciated Elder Stevenson's talk in General Conference because it was all about the importance of making our Easter traditions and celebrations as meaningful and memorable as our Christmas ones. This is something I've been trying to do for years. I want to look forward to Easter as much as Christmas. Elder Stevenson said, "During December, we somehow manage to incorporate the fun of 'Jingle Bells,' Christmas stockings, and gifts alongside other, more thoughtful traditions--such as caring for those in need, singing our favorite Christmas carols and hymns, and of course opening the scriptures and reading the Christmas story in Luke 2." This balance is what I'm trying to achieve: fun traditions that lead us to more spiritual ones. This Easter, we attempted to strike this balance by: listening to Easter music, reading scriptures and looking at symbols associated with Easter by opening eggs on our Easter egg tree (I put this together years ago, and we still use it), dying Easter eggs, organizing a neighborhood egg hunt, focusing on what the Savior did each day during the week prior to the Resurrection (and coming up with a fun activity to do each day that related to these events--many of our ideas involved food), filling Easter baskets with fun surprises for our kids, going to my parents' house for Easter dinner, bringing gifts to my parents and siblings (which came as a complete surprise to everyone and made it even more fun), and going to church on Easter Sunday and listening to beautiful music about the Savior. The thing that made this Easter even better was that the weather was absolutely perfect. It felt truly symbolic to have such a gorgeous day after a really long, hard winter. I feel like Jesus' atonement, sacrifice, and resurrection bring the same kind of hope as spring. 

Applying . . . for a job. Aaron got a summer job! He's going to be working at a snow cone shack and making the big bucks, haha. He took the initiative and filled out the application and went to the interview without any pushing from us. It probably helped that his cousin is one of the managers for the snow cone shack this year and encouraged him to apply. He's excited for it to start in May.

Being . . . together in the temple with almost all of Mike's family. Mike's parents scheduled a sealing session, and all of Mike's siblings and spouses were there except for his brother, Jon (who lives in Idaho) and his sister, Alisa (who we will forever be missing but I like to think she was there with us). Mike's dad performed all of the sealings, and it was just such a sweet experience to all be together and look around the room and see all those faces we love. Tiny glimpse of heaven. 

Taking . . . Ian's kindergarten teacher out for breakfast. Ian's kindergarten teacher had a birthday this month, so a few of the moms in the neighborhood (whose kids had her either this year or in the past) took her out for breakfast. It was great fun to get to hear her stories and learn more about her life (she's had some real adventures!). And always, you can't be around her without hearing how much she loves teaching and seeing the ways she cares about her students. They're lucky to have her on their side.

Celebrating . . . Mike turning 41, Ian turning 6, Aaron's bone marrow turning 2, and our marriage turning 18. So many fun reasons to have a party. Mike's birthday included family time at This is the Place, a movie night, and ice cream. Ian had donuts for breakfast, a friend over for video games, a Pokemon cake, and the new Mario movie at the movie theater. Aaron's BMT birthday showed good results on all of his tests and Pretty Bird for dinner. And our anniversary was spent going out for lunch at an upscale Italian restaurant.

Serving . . . on a jury. Mike has always wanted to be selected to serve on a jury, and he finally got the opportunity, although once he heard what the case was about (aggravated sexual abuse of a child), he was less enthused. It was a three-day trial and ended up being quite exhausting mentally. It always kind of amazes me that this is the way our justice system works--that the average Joe from off the street decides the fate of an individual. It seems like you would have to qualify in some way: take a test to demonstrate your intelligence or somehow show your ability to take information and interpret it in a critical and thoughtful way. 

Seeing . . . the baby animals at This is the Place. My parents and Angela came up to Salt Lake on Mike's birthday, and we all went to This is the Place. It was a beautiful day. We rode the train (both the big one and the small one), panned for gold, stamped leather, rode the horses, held baby chicks, ate cornbread, hung out with baby goats, and played on the playground. It was quite a fun afternoon. (Aaron was at a friend's house so didn't come with us.)

Giving . . . Matt and Brittany a food tour. Mike and his brother, Matt, are both foodies, and Mike has been wanting to take Matt to all of his favorite places in Salt Lake. Of course, it would be impossible to cram all of the good food into one evening, but he made a pretty good attempt. We started with wings from Fav Bistro, followed by reubens from Feldman's Deli, then a molcajete from Katrina's, and finally gelato from Granato's. It was a really fun time, mostly because Matt enjoyed and appreciated every bite. 

Receiving . . . the new Brandon Sanderson book. My boys have been waiting for months for the newest Brandon Sanderson book, Tress of the Emerald Sea. Copies of it began shipping out quite awhile ago, but we did not get ours until mid-April. The excitement of opening the box and taking out what is truly a gorgeous book was almost greater than on Christmas morning. Aaron and Max were thrilled and began reading it right away. (They say it's a fantasy book that maybe I'd even enjoy. I'm willing to give it a try.)

Hearing . . . some cute little words. Silas has started to say a few words here and there. He is very good at Dad (and variations, DADA and DADDYYYYYYY!). This is by far his favorite word, and he says it a million times a day. But he also says Mama, more, bye, ball, water, dinner, and one time I heard "Bradley," although he refuses to say that one again. He also knows a host of animal sounds for cow, horse, sheep, pig, snake, elephant, lion, monkey, dog, cat, bird, and bunny. He keeps us all so entertained, and we love seeing his personality emerge and his skills develop.

Beginning . . . saxophone lessons. Max is coming up on two years of playing the saxophone, but up to this point, all of his development as a musician has mostly happened at school (aside from a few months last spring/summer where he took lessons from his cousin to help prepare him for his jazz band audition). But it was seeming like he was hitting a bit of a plateau, especially in his technique, so I got him started with a well-respected teacher in the area. So far, he has been loving it, and in just a month's worth of lessons, he has already made significant progress and improvement. And in true Max-form, he set aside a certain time of day to practice, and he sticks with it religiously. That boy loves a routine.  

Attending . . . a BYU Men's Chorus concert. One day, Mike was like, "We should go to a BYU choir concert." He looked at when their upcoming concerts were and found that there was a Men's Chorus concert at the Cathedral of the Madeleine here in Salt Lake. We couldn't believe our good luck. We took Aaron and Max and were a little crunched for time, so by the time we got there, the cathedral was already mostly full. We squeezed onto a bench, but Max felt a little too squished, so he opted to sit in one of the small side pews by himself. The concert was soul-stirring. I especially loved "Not Ashamed" and "Be Thou My Vision."

Nurturing . ..  a stray cat. One afternoon, Clark was playing in the circle by our house, and he saw a vehicle pull up to one of the houses, let out a cat, and then drive away. Everyone was very confused: was the cat literally abandoned on our street? Did the people somehow think the cat lived here? (It did not.) What were we all going to do with an abandoned cat? This was not a difficult question for all the neighborhood kids, who immediately adopted this cat, named her Raina, and took care of her every need. Clark and Ian were especially invested and spent every spare moment thinking about the cat and being with her. She was such a friendly, nice cat. It didn't seem like she had spent her life living on the streets. She hung around for a couple of weeks, even going into a couple of the neighbor's houses and bonding with their other pets. But then one day, she was gone, and we haven't seen her since. 

Finishing . . . a Christmas sweater. Yes, a Christmas sweater. In April. Last Christmas, I kept wishing I had a Christmas sweater to wear during December. After Christmas, I decided not to wait around until next November to make one but to do it now while my enthusiasm was high, and then it would just be ready and waiting. I chose a basic sweater with a very classic motif and knitted it in traditional Christmas colors. It turned out so lovely, and it will bring me so much joy when I can wear it in a few months. 

Reading . . . some really enjoyable books:

The Bodyguard by Katherine Center (Her books have become comfort reads to me this year--the perfect, light pick-me-up.)

Remarkably Bright Creatures by Shelby Van Pelt (Super close to a five-star book for me. Just really sweet and delightful.)

Wayside School is Falling Down by Louis Sachar (I had never read beyond the first book in this series, so it was really fun to read this one to my boys.)

Because of the Christ on Calvary by Brad Wilcox (A nice one to read during the Easter season.)

Persuasion by Jane Austen (So fun to reread this classic. I liked it even better this time.)

Starfish by Lisa Fipps (I've thought about this one more than probably any of the other books this month.)

The Maid by Nita Prose (Flew through this charming mystery.)

Cheering . . . on Ian in his school play. Ian has been attending rehearsals for Pure Imagination since January, and all the hard work finally paid off in a week of performances. It was more of a musical revue than a play with songs from many different plays. This was great because it meant that so many of the kids in the upper grades got to have leading parts because each song had a different set of leads. It was entertaining and cute and so well done. My parents were also able to come on one of the nights, and we loved finding our favorite little smiling face among all of the other cute kids.

Getting . . . .whacked in the face by a bat. Luckily, it was a plastic one. The boys were all playing whiffle ball, and Ian was standing too close to Max as he swung, and he got it right on the cheek. We anticipated a bruise there, but unexpectedly, one of Ian's teeth also started hurting. It caused him great pain (including at the first evening performance of his play when he could hardly concentrate because it was hurting him so much). We could see a little chip or crack in it and took him to the dentist, who advised waiting out the pain rather than pulling the tooth. Sure enough, the pain diminished after only a couple more days, even though Ian tried to milk it a little bit longer than that to get some more video game time. 

Listening . . . to Ian's end-of-the-year Let's Play Music recital. I've mentioned before how much I love this program. Ian just completed the second year, and he learned so much. The second year focuses a lot on the primary chords in both the right and left hands, and Ian learned how to accompany himself on dozens of songs. There was also a big emphasis on rhythm, ear training, musicality, expression, major/minor, and musical themes. For the recital, Ian played one his favorite songs, "I am Robin Hood," as a solo, and he knocked it out of the park. We love his teacher so much and are grateful for this program that is instilling such a love of music in him. 

Needing . . . to be in the middle of everything. Silas is not content to be left out of any fun. He observes whatever is going on and then jumps right in, copying to the best of his ability. It's adorable, and he has the most patient brothers.

And that's a wrap on April. Spring has finally arrived, and it feels so good.

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