Book Note: The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry
A Pork Roast, a Knife, and Some Glue: The Story of My Sunday Morning

August in Review

This is strange for me, but I confess: I’m not ready for summer to be over. I wish we had another month of lazing around with my kids and not having to worry about schedules, carpool, grades, homework, and complaining about homework.

Maybe the complaining about the homework is the worst.

But alas, August has ended, despite my reluctance for fall. It’s not that I don’t love fall—it’s actually my favorite season. But I don’t want it to start because if it starts, it will end. In fact, today I was at Target, I discovered that they had Halloween Oreos and I had to fight back tears.

Anyway. August.

We did lots of back-to-school shopping, including managing to catch two Dillard’s sales. I bought a pair of sandals for myself, and this awesome t-shirt,

but I got tons of stuff for the boys.

Haley came home to visit twice.
I feel such deep happiness on nights when everyone is sleeping at home! Since it’s been so long since I had a picture of all four kids together (Christmas I think), I made them do a quick photo shoot. (There are better pics on my big camera…but I’m just not going to Photoshop them right now!)


We went to dinner and a movie with some old friends we haven’t hung out with for a long time. We ate at Red Robin but I have completely forgotten what movie we saw. (It must’ve not been very good.)

To celebrate the very last day before school started, we took the boys to Red Robin and then they went to see Guardians of the Galaxy. (They loved it!)

My Gap credit card number got stolen by someone in California who ordered $350+ of sweats, Ts, and ball caps. It has been simply a joy to get this resolved! I might’ve found myself screaming “I just want to talk to an operator” into my phone to the unresponsive menu system. (Actually, it did make me laugh when I got an email from the Gap, asking me to rate my recent purchase. Ummmmm…)

IMG_3223One of the coolest things that happened in August is that my mom, my sisters Becky and Suzette, and I went to see Wicked at the Capitol Theater in Salt Lake. I had read part of the novel (back when I was teaching), but I didn’t love it so I never finished it. I wasn’t dying to see the play (I was more excited about the time with my mom and sisters), so I went into the experience with very little expectation. But I loved it! I love stories that do this—take a book you know and turn it around, so that what you thought you knew turns out to be anything but the truth. I had figured out the twists, but I didn’t expect to be so moved by Elphaba. To most of the world, we only are what we look like, both psychically and by our outward traits and behaviors. So few people know what actually motivates an individual, so it is easy to twist and make something good look like something bad. I am still thinking about it! (We weren't supposed to take pictures in the theater but we didn't know that when we took this selfie. And then Suzette, who hates to have her picture taken, dodged out after the play before we could take the picture I wanted. So, imagine: the four of us standing outside the Capitol Theater, just under the Wicked sign.)

August was a hard month in a way I never anticipated. Jake and I have disagreed about a very specific topic…and oh, my. We have gone around in circles so many times. I have been overwhelmed with promptings that he is making choices that will lead him down a path that will change him forever, but he thinks I’m just not trusting him. And making a big deal out of nothing. (I know I’m being vague, and oh my: the blog posts I have written in my head about this. But I don’t feel like it’s my place to put these details out in public.) I have ached, raged, wept, screamed wordless screams, tossed and turned, worried ceaselessly, prayed without stopping. I also threw a box of Kleenex at him. I love him so much and yet he makes me so angry. Mostly because I think he’s smart and funny and handsome (that smile!) and has so much potential and yet he’s on the very edge of ruining everything.

What has surprised me about all of this drama is the unresolved stuff from my own adolescence that is surfacing in my psyche. I have had several ah-ha moments about myself and other people and the ways I misinterpreted both their decisions and my options for reacting to them. I have remembered experiences I thought I had made peace with but only buried; I have thought about long-ago relationships and how they might still affect me now. And the dreaming! So vivid. I am grateful for these new insights—I just wish I could use them to convince Jake to see things a little bit more rationally. (Which is, I know, expecting far too much for a teenager whose brain is a cauldron and body is a hormone volcano. I just so do not want him to have to learn things the way that I did.)

I have been realizing just how much I have held on to the blame, guilt, and shame from experiences that happened (literally) decades ago. In fact, my struggles with Jake’s experiences have felt like a sort of karma to me. Who am I to expect that raising my teenagers would be, if not easy, then at least not this hard? I deserve far, far worse than I have had so far because really, I was a horrible teenager. I made my parents suffer in awful ways. And it doesn’t exactly make me feel like mother of the year, this feeling that my bad choices will continue to haunt my kids. I am starting to see, though, how much they haunt me. I haven’t ever totally moved away from feeling like, at my very deepest and truest self, I am so ridiculously wrong that I didn’t ever deserve to feel happiness. My mind knows there must be a statute of limitations for feeling guilty over the stuff you did as a teenager—but my spirit has not reached it yet.

Maybe that will be one good thing out of this kerfuffle with Jake, that I am finally able to see (for real, not just write the words like I am now) that what I was, at my deepest and truest, wasn’t wrong but just damaged, and that the things I did were all about that damage. (Mostly, I think, about making it worse. That hurts; I’ll deal with it by making it hurt more. How strange is that?)

Now that I think about it, maybe I really am glad that August is over. It was an exhausting month.

But not everything was difficult. There were a few last trips to the water park and the city pool. Quite a few lingering outside breakfasts. Plenty of trampoline jumping; Nathan and Kaleb can both also now do back flips on the grass. (It scares me every time, which makes me wonder how my parents dealt with all of our gymnastics meets.)

It was a rainy, wet August. Twice thunder woke me up in the middle of the night, and then I just stayed awake listening to the storm.

I did a ton of yard work, although I’m not sure I’m any farther ahead on my eradicate-the-ivy process. I might, dear friends, have to resort to Round Up.

I ran 56.16 miles. As my goal was 50 miles, I was happy with my progress!

My friend Wendy and I went hiking, one of the highlights of my August. It was so nice to talk for so long without any interruptions! We went on the Squaw Peak trail. 2014-08-29 10.40.21
We didn’t make it all the way, but I got to show her one of my favorite parts of the trail. For a good long while of the Squaw Peak trail, you hike along a ravine on the back (east) side of the mountain. It’s a long, steep trail that goes through trees, and you can't really see where you're going except for just ahead. But then, just before the trail turns to go up to the saddle, you leave the trees and come out into a meadow. In the spring it’s full of wildflowers. They were crispy and brown now, of course, but the meadow still has a unique spirit. I think it is that at last, you can see sky again, and the lower peaks of Cascade Mountain which you can’t see from the valley. It’s like a deep, refreshing breath of air. It is one of my favorite places I’ve hiked to, and I was happy to show it to a friend.

(It's also a hike I'll remember for the bug bites I got. I don't know what was chewing on me, but they got me even through my running pants. Admittedly, spandex isn't super bug-bite-resistent...but holy cow. My legs were covered in bites, about 9 or 10 each. They got the size of a child's bouncy ball, right under my skin. They each developed a purple bruise around the perimeter of the swelling. So once the swelling went down, I had enormous Os all over my legs. They itched. And scabbed. And are still healing in some places!)

I made 8 scrapbook layouts. I'm trying to focus on spending less time scrapbooking (because I want to spend more time writing and submitting!), so I feel like my style needs to change. Quicker layouts=less time on the least-important thing, which is embellishments. Here's a layout about Kaleb that might show what I mean:

08 Aug no5 Kaleb Y hike

You can see more of my layouts here, here, here, and here.

I managed to find some new carpooling friends. (The family I was carpooling with had a drastic schedule change that wouldn't work for carpooling anymore.) I only have to drive three times a week, which is lovely. Plus all of their kids are little, so it's been fun to listen to the chatter of six-year-olds again. I'd forgotten how funny they are. Everyone started school, with only a few problems. Namely, schedules. Jake realized he didn't have an English class, but he got it fixed the second day of class. Nathan's schedule was more complicated (they had him in ballroom dance and that was not going to happen for him), and I am still not happy with the crappy "solution" his councilor came up with...but as we are stuck going to the country's worst junior high, we sort of have no choice. 

So yeah...August. Like with Nathan's schedule, not much choice. It's over, and September is here. It's time to start savoring fall!

How was your August?




My August was fantastic! I love that picture of us--that was one of my favorite days. I'll be able to make it all the way next time. :)

My whole summer was lovely--I had a wonderfully fun time with my son, husband, extended family, and friends. 7 Peaks every week, numerous hikes with friends and family, lazy days under the neighbor's shade tree, a perfect campout at Payson Lakes . . . so much good summer fun.

Love your post! Love you!


I was most excited for the time with you guys as well! But I really enjoyed Wicked. We should do that more often.

I hope things get better for Jake. Big hugs!!

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