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!