Thursday, January 31, 2019

The Angel

In our church, the temple is a holy place where we can attend and make promises to God.
Unlike our church meetinghouses, we don't have congregational worship services in temples, but we can attend them during the week as we choose.
The temple is a beautiful, sacred, peaceful place, and each time I attend the temple I feel as though I have left the world behind. I am given increased clarity and peace within the walls of the temple.

Sam and I have missed being able to attend the temple regularly--
throughout our marriage we have been able to attend at least monthly,
but the Memphis temple closed for major renovations shortly before we moved here and the next closest temple is in Nashville, so we have only been able to visit the temple a few times in the last year.

We have loved watching the Memphis temple be re-constructed from the beams up!
The gleaming limestone from Portugal and blue stained-glass windows are stunning.
Each week we have been able to see its progress.
It is due to re-open in early May and we are thrilled!
I am looking forward to being able to partake of that peace again more regularly.

In late November the construction crew put the angel Moroni on and a big crowd of people came to watch. It was quite an exciting event!
Talmage and Wesley were at school, but I took the younger three boys and we sat and watched as they raised the statue into the sky and settled it down into the hole at the top of the spire.

Fun fact:
The sculptor of the angel Moroni that is on the Brigham City, Utah temple is Cyrus E. Dallin. Although he is not a member of our faith, he said that working on the project "brought me nearer to God than anything I ever did. It seemed to me that I came to know what it means to commune with angels from heaven."

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Glasses for Lincoln

One of Lincoln's eyes didn't pass his eye exam at his well-child visit in the Fall,
so we were referred to an optometrist.
The whole experience was new for me
(I always wanted glasses when I was young, but I've always had perfect vision!)
and I was totally fascinated by it.

It turns out he has very slight astigmatism and is also very slightly far-sighted.
He didn't really need glasses, but the doctor said it would help a little bit when he went to school.
So we picked out some frames and I just about died from the cuteness!!!
Sadly for me, he doesn't feel the need to wear them often.
But I am tickled pink on the rare occasion that he puts them on.
Doesn't he look just like the emoji with glasses?!?

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

9 Months In, 9 Months Out

Benson is now just over 9 months old!
Time has flown by extra fast and I am missing my cuddly, tiny boy.
He is growing up fast!

-He wants desperately to be able to walk and cruises around the furniture like a pro, pulling himself up to stand on just about anything. He can push his cart around the house while walking, too! I am thinking he'll be walking independently in the next month, but for now he gets around great by crawling on all fours or walking while hanging onto something.

-We were really slow to start him on solids (laziness on my part) but now he loves food--especially dinner foods.

-He was about 20 pounds at his 6 month appointment. I haven't taken him in for his 9 month appointment yet, but a rough estimate on our scale has him at about 22-23 pounds. He is thinning out because he is sooo wiggly! Thankfully he still has those amazingly chunky thighs.

-He is super mellow and continues to love Maxwell despite his rather rough attention at times.

-He typically sleeps well through the night from 8-6 or 6:30.

-He still spits up quite often, which is especially unpleasant now that he is eating lots of solid foods.

-He loves to swing at the park, plays peek-a-boo, loves being outside, and likes to be thrown in the air.

-He is experimenting a lot with talking and forming different sounds. He says "Dada" on demand, but I don't think he associates meaning with it yet.

-He lights up our world with his giant smiles, slobbery kisses, squishy cheeks, and adorable giggles!

Since I dropped off the blogging bandwagon for a while, here is a dump of Benson pictures from the last few months:

He was soo proud when he first learned to stand up! 

He wasn't too sure about cereal/applesauce the first time I fed it to him but he quickly caught on.

He used to clasp his hands like this all the time, which I found utterly darling.

Goodness! Those thighs are irresistable!

And he has the best "smize," don't you think?? (smiling with only your eyes, not your mouth)

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Veterans' Day with Breanne

My sister, Breanne, came for a quick visit over Veterans' Day.
Unfortunately, her trip here had a ridiculous number of frustrations with the airline and she ended up spending the night in North Carolina while en route to Memphis.
Her short trip was made even shorter, but she made it just in time to come to Stake Conference with us Sunday morning!
That afternoon, after a quick trip to the Crystal Shrine Grotto, we took the older three boys to a veterans' cemetery not far from our home to see the flags.
Breanne read "In Flanders Fields" to the boys and we walked around looking at headstones and trying to figure out what each of the symbols on top stood for (there is a symbol at the top of each headstone that indicates the religion of the person buried). We were so excited when Talmage found one with the angel Moroni on top!

Breanne was leaving the next afternoon, but we tried to cram a few fun activities in!
We swung by Panera on the way to school to get bagels--the boys were so disappointed that Breanne's flight had been delayed such that our planned dinner at a restaurant was foiled, so this helped ease their sadness.
Then we dropped Lincoln, Maxwell, and Benson off with my friend and Breanne and I headed to St. Jude to take a tour and meet up with Sam for lunch!
They only allow people over the age of 16 to visit the hospital, so I hadn't yet been for a tour.
St. Jude is such a happy place!
They strive to meet the needs so well of all they serve, from having a supply of red wagons to pull the kids around the hospital in to having short check-in desks that kids can easily see over to having a special teenage waiting area with video games, pool tables, etc.

In addition to the fun environment of the hospital (snippets shown in the pictures below), here are a few cool facts:
-ALSAC (St. Jude's fundraising organization) organizes 34,000 fundraisers every year to provide care for 8,500 patients each year. The families of these patients never receive a bill, but the donations are not just handouts--each patient is part of a research study, so the good comes full circle.
-St. Jude costs about 2.4 million dollars a day to run.
-The area of St. Jude that takes care of academic lessons for sick kids ensures that they have the specific curriculum each child would have been studying in their hometown.
-The survival rate for ALL (a common type of leukemia) was 4% when St. Jude began and is now 94%. St. Jude played a huge role in making that progress!
-The hospital chefs are very attentive to making good, nutritious food for the patients, employees, and visitors. St. Jude has a nearby garden and they use many of their own plants in their cooking.
-St. Jude began in the 1950s and the founder, Danny Thomas, insisted that all hotels he was working with serve the families of every patient, regardless of race, despite the fact that it was during a time of segregation in the South.
-Our favorite story was when we heard that a little boy had lost his appetite (a common side effect of cancer treatment) and didn't want any food except his grandma's macaroni and cheese. So the hospital chef called his grandma and got the recipe so he could make it for him! They strive to make everything about a patient's care extremely personalized.

After a delicious lunch with Sam,
we headed back to pick up the kids.
We were planning on going to Phillip Ashley Chocolates to check out their amazing selection of chocolates (each one is a piece of art and they create unique flavors such as BBQ, Maple Bacon Pecan Praline, Sweet Potato Walnut, and Passion Fruit Vanilla Bean). They were served at the Grammy Awards a couple of years ago, and we were looking forward to experiencing it!
Sadly, we discovered that they are closed on Mondays, so we had to save that experience for another time.
We drove a few blocks down the street to a sweets store called "Sweet Noshings," and Breanne went in with Lincoln to get some treats and some tasty hot chocolate while I stayed in the car with the babies.
Maxwell hadn't been feeling well and had been getting more and more sick over the course of the day.

Benson, on the other hand, was happy as could be.

We stopped by the house long enough for the boys to come home from school, and then we loaded everyone up and took Breanne back to the airport.
We were sad her visit was so short but we knew we would see her in Utah just 6 weeks later!

After we dropped Breanne off, we picked up dinner and picked Sam up from work to head over to the Memphis Grizzlies vs. Utah Jazz game! Despite the fact that it was a school night and the game would be very late and it was in Downtown Memphis...we decided to take the boys.
We arrived super early in hopes of avoiding crowds and it worked!
The boys (mostly) had a great time.
Poor Maxwell was running a fever by that point and was really quite sick, so I cradled him in my arms and he slept off and on and I tried to keep him from breathing on anyone else.
The other boys watched the game and munched on overpriced, disgusting nachos.
The game was pretty fun (especially for Sam!) and after we watched the Jazz win, we took some very exhausted boys out to traipse through the cold streets of Downtown Memphis back to our car.

It had been a busy weekend and we were all tuckered out, but it was a weekend full of great memories!
Thanks for the amazing visit, Breanne!

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

A Fall Bonfire

In November, our ward had a bonfire in the backyard of a family in the ward.
They have such a dreamy property with towering trees, a gorgeous pool, and amazing toys and activities for the kids--including a gas-powered train the kids can ride around the property on!
We ate dutch oven cooking, sweet potato pie, s'mores, and lots more yummy food in the chilly darkness.

Fall in Tennessee is lovely,
especially when we're surrounded by such lovely people.

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