Thursday, August 22, 2019

So Long, Summer Days

Our Summer break has come to a close.
School is in full swing, pumpkins are on display at the store
(despite the fact that the kids haven't even been allowed to go out to recess yet because it has been too hot...the heat index was 113 the other day!)
and I am stuck in that place that always pops up at the beginning of a new school year...
the place where I embrace and love the new schedule,
mourn the loss of the ability to have no set schedule,
and contemplate with a sense of longing whether or not I made the most of the 12 weeks I had with all the boys at home.

Many, many more posts to come
(what a difference having silent nap time again makes!),
but for now I'll just leave you with a few random pictures of the laid-back days of Summer.

Sun-dappled shadows, spontaneous naps, cardboard inventions, and ice cream stands...

(Wesley put Benson's floaty tube on his head and looked like an alien in a flying saucer!)

Thursday, August 8, 2019

We All Scream For Ice Cream

I have been wanting to do an ice cream cone photo shoot for a long time now.
I decided that this Summer I would finally make it happen.
But as it turns out, an ice cream photo shoot is a little interesting from the logistical standpoint.
Transporting ice cream in a hot car without it getting too melted, scooping up 5 ice cream cones quickly enough that the first didn't completely melt and wasn't completely eaten, and then trying to clean up the ensuing sticky mess with baby wipes presented some challenges,
but I was pretty happy with the results in the end!
These pictures sum up these hot, humid Tennessee summers to me.

My favorite thing about the photo shoot happened beforehand--
I asked the boys if it would be okay if we did a photo shoot later that day and explained what I wanted to do. After they agreed, Lincoln said, "It's a symbiotic relationship! WE get ice cream, and YOU get more pictures!" I was laughing so hard!

I love these hot, sweaty, sticky little boys.
And Blue Bell.
Always Blue Bell.

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Friends and Boxes

A couple of weeks ago, I was watching a friend's kids for the day and the rain was coming down.
After an hour or so, things were rather quickly spinning out of control.
Squabbles were breaking out left and right and noise and chaos reigned supreme.
Praying for strength, I had a flash of what could only be called inspiration.
I pulled out the art supplies, grabbed a bunch of old moving boxes from the attic, and told each of the kids to make their own vehicle.
Soon paper scraps, glue, staples, and markers were spread throughout the house and each child was busily working to create. Seeing their minds at work made my heart sing! Each one imagined different elements for their vehicle. We had paper plate wheels on one, a cardboard trunk on another, and a steering joystick on yet another.
At last, the creations were complete. The kids dove into the costumes and pulled out the walkie-talkies and soon a happy, imaginative game had begun.
The kids were occupied and happy for hours.
It was the perfect rainy-day activity.
It is amazing to see what happens when I seek inspiration in the daily frustrations I have as a mother.

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

30th Birthday Celebration

I used to always get the birthday blues on my birthday, no matter how special anyone made it or what we did to celebrate.
Even though my family and Sam have always gone to great lengths to show love, somehow the day was always a bit sad for me.
A few years ago, I decided to take control of the situation and start doing something fun each year of my own accord. It's always been something simple, like taking the kids to get snowcones, but it gives me a way to break out of my birthday blues and better appreciate the things others do to show their love for me.

This summer has been brutal for Sam with his work. He has been given an insane workload and has been staying late at work many nights, or working at home until midnight or beyond.
I knew having to try to do something special for my 30th birthday would just increase his stress and there were a few things I had been wanting to get, so I told him that I would just take care of my own birthday presents this year and that he didn't need to do anything for me.
So the night before my birthday, I went over to a church friend's house, and she gave me a fun new haircut and some color with partial highlights. It was so nice to have a refresher! I had been struggling to fight the frump and it was just the thing to give me a boost.

On my actual birthday, I dropped off the older 4 kids with a couple of friends and ran some errands with just Benson underfoot. It was nice to have some quiet time out of the house.
The boys showered me with nice cards throughout the afternoon and Talmage told me they were giving me the gift of a nap while the older boys would take care of the little ones!!
I ended up taking a rain check on the nap, but I appreciated his kindness so much.
He is starting to really be tuned in to my emotions and strive to help me. The other day Maxwell and Benson were both SCREAMING for quite a while at the top of their lungs as I tried to help them and Talmage exclaimed over the ruckus, "BEING A MOM IS HARD SOMETIMES BUT YOU'RE DOING A GREAT JOB!"

Sam had a late work meeting that night. He offered to order something from a restaurant and have it delivered, but I thought it would be fun to make fondue and have a little family dinner party when he got home. I roasted some veggies, chopped up some french bread, and cooked some meatballs, and we had fun with our fondue.
Then, much to my surprise, he gave me a gift in spite of our agreement!
He gave me a projector!
After we buy a house, we'd like to make a room of the house as a "classroom," of sorts, where we can have a dry erase board, comfortable seating, a projector screen, learning supplies and a journal for each family member, and ways to quickly connect devices in order to enrich our teaching as we have family scripture study, family home evening, or family council. There are so many amazing resources available now to help us teach our children, and we want to take full advantage of them.
We don't have quite the set-up we are envisioning yet, but the projector is a step in the right direction! We got it set up while the boys got their pajamas on and then we watched a little cartoon together on the wall to end the night.

We decided to do more of a celebration two days later, on Saturday.
We had planned on doing a 30-mile bike ride, but at the last minute I ended up needing to go to a funeral, so we postponed our bike ride for a week. When I got home from the funeral, Sam had mopped the floor until it glistened! It was desperately needed and greatly appreciated. That afternoon we all went to the Pink Palace to watch an IMAX movie. Since our first date was to the IMAX, the day after my 19th birthday, we usually try to go see one around my birthday. We watched Apollo 11 and it was so cool to see how they made the entire movie from original video footage from the 1960s!
It was fun for me to observe the clothing and basic lifestyle that was an undertone to the space mission.

When we got home, I went outside on the porch swing and watched the boys play ball while I started reading an economics book my sister had sent me for my birthday. Sam made spaghetti alla carbonara and brownies and after dinner, he surprised me by setting up the projector with a big game of "Mommy Jeopardy" for the boys! They had fun answering trivia questions about me. They know me pretty well!


The next Saturday we got up early and I picked up a babysitter.
I had used MapMyRide to create a 30-mile bike route, using the Greenline (21 miles round trip) with a 9 mile detour down through Shelby Farms Park and the Wolf River Greenway.
We had soo much fun together doing this ride!
I'm not really sure why I thought it would be a piece of cake to ride 30 miles. I really enjoy biking, but I don't think I've ever ridden more than about 10 miles at once. And I had done virtually nothing to get ready for this ride. In fact, I even failed to eat breakfast in our rush to get everything ready and out the door.
About 15 miles into our ride, I started to get kind of shaky.
I told Sam I needed to stop for a minute and eat a Clif bar since I hadn't had breakfast, so we sat and took a quick break. After about 5 minutes I felt like I had pretty well recovered, so I stood up to walk back over to my bike, and my legs buckled under me and I nearly collapsed! I was so shocked that I could feel almost normal and yet have my muscles turn against me like that. It only lasted a moment and then my legs kicked back into gear. We hopped back on our bikes and continued on our way.
Miles 17-20 were kind of rough for me. It was getting SO HOT and that portion of the ride was on a bike path just over the fence from a highway, so the constant sound of the cars and feel of the city was wearing on me.
But once we reached mile 20 at the end of the Greenline and turned around to complete the last 10 miles back to our car, I got my second wind and felt pretty good up through the end!
The last few miles were the hardest for Sam. The path was less shaded and he was really overheating.
But we had such a sense of accomplishment when we finished and we went to get smoothies to celebrate.
We loved seeing the wildlife around us as we rode...cardinals, dozens of turtles, a great blue heron, chipmunks, gorgeous butterflies, and the most playful bluebird that flitted around alongside us for a bit, seeming like it stepped right out of Sleeping Beauty.
The ride felt a bit like a microcosm for 30 years of life...ups and downs, hard patches, a little rain, hot sun, occasional crowds of people to navigate around, the need to consult the map, the need to adjust our plans (like when we ran into a triathlon), tests of endurance, and beauty surrounding us constantly if we would but open our eyes to notice it.

Monday, July 22, 2019

Berry Picking 2019

A few weeks ago, I planned a blackberry picking excursion with the boys.
A couple of days before we had planned to go, my friend texted and said she was going to pick blueberries at the blueberry plantation just a few miles away from the blackberry farm, and she wondered if we wanted to come...and she was making plans for the same day!
So we decided to double our fun and make a day of it.
We headed out bright and early to the Nesbit Blueberry Plantation, unloaded the kids, and started picking berries, catching bugs, shoving dirty blueberries into mouths (Benson), and sweating buckets as we tried to fill our buckets.


Talmage caught a tiny grasshopper and handed it to Benson. It cracked me up to see his little fist clenched around such a tiny little live bug!

We finally got a gallon of blueberries and potty needs arose, so we headed over to the bathroom.
On our way, Talmage noticed tiny little frogs all over behind a building! They were ADORABLE.
He quickly caught a few and the boys had fun playing with them.
Maxwell was furious that we couldn't bring them in the car.

It was ridiculously hot, but nonetheless we piled into our minivan with broken A/C and headed over to Cedar Hill to pick blackberries. The playground there is just too good to pass up!
On the way we stopped at The Dip, a small town ice cream and burger stand (opened in 1947) with an unreal number of possibilities. In addition to their homemade, smoooooth, crazy rich ice cream, they have 250 mix-in options and a burger menu a mile long! The ice cream was so rich that even with the small sizes we ordered, the boys had trouble finishing their scoops. I got the monkey bread ice cream and it was unbelievable. It was the perfect refresher before we piled back into our stuffy car and hit the blackberries.

The older boys were pretty burnt out and didn't last long picking berries.
They ran down to the pirate ship and started playing with our friends, who decided to come with us after picking blueberries.

But I still had the little ones to keep me company picking berries!

Then we headed up to the front to hit the big playground. This is probably my favorite place to visit in the entire Memphis area! I love the tire swings, ziplines, enormous pipe slides, beautiful flowers, giant shade trees, and horses!

The 45 minute drive is worth it for the playground alone. And it's a good thing, too, because it was so insanely hot that by the time we got home, our blackberries had gone completely rancid! They smelled like vinegar and tasted disgusting. The blackberry pie I had been planning to make with them became only a fantasy, but we still had loads of fresh blueberries and lots of great memories that I'd take over blackberry pie any day.
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