Friday, August 30, 2019

Water Lilies at the Nature Center

I just love the nature center in Memphis.
It's always so quiet when I go--not tons of visitors, but so much to do!
I feel like it is an underappreciated gem in the middle of the city, with acres and acres of beautiful lakes, ponds, marshlands, gardens, visitor centers, and trails weaving through it all.

We started our visit with fish feeding. For just a dollar you can purchase a good-sized bag of fish pellets and walk over to a bridge to feed the fish, ducks, geese, and turtles.
We were pleasantly surprised and amazed when we saw that the water lilies were blooming! As we wandered through the trails, we saw that they formed a massive forest all over the water throughout the nature center.
My fuzzy phone pictures just do not do them justice!

The nature center has tried to preserve the natural wildlife of the Mid-South as much as they can, for being situated smack in the middle of an urban area, so it is fascinating to see what this area was like before it was settled. They have boardwalks through the marshes and up high in a forested area (so you can study the forest from near the treetops instead of the ground).

They also have a couple of different visitor centers, including one with lots of live, native animals. My boys love the section where there is are several giant glass windows that extend through the depths of a pond. There is a huge alligator snapping turtle that lives in that pond, so the windows allow us to see him at the bottom with his mouth wide open to catch a fish.
They also have a number of fun activities, like boxes into which you can stick your hand to try to figure out what you are feeling, books, and cute little nature-themed wooden toys.

I told the boys to strike a pose on our way out and this is what we got!

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Three-Year-Old Maxwell

A few things about Maxwell at age 3:

-He still seems to be very analytical and logical. He loves sorting things and I will often walk into a room and see a collection of toys sorted by size and color. He also has a great memory.

-He loves bike rides, playing at the park, playing with Xander (his little buddy), reading books, listening to Scripture Scouts, playing with cars, and building with Legos. Sometime I will post some pictures of his Lego creations, because he carefully fills platforms with flat pieces in a tetris-like configuration until the entire platform is perfectly filled. It is yet another demonstration of his analytical mind and spatial reasoning and it always makes me happy to see his Lego platforms!

-He loves order. He is quick to clean up messes and gets stressed when things are out of place or a typical routine is disturbed. He likes to sit back and watch new things for a while and then amazes us when he abruptly jumps in fearlessly without restraint, confident and able after learning through watching.

-He likes to sleep with 2 baby blankets, a bigger blanket, a dog named Patches, a tiger named Stripes, and a little fish named Sammy-Fish.

-He is SUCH a good big brother to Benson! He loves to make him laugh and does so regularly. He is always looking out for him and will lift him down from places he has climbed to, take away "chokeen hazards," and alert me to anything he deems to be "dang'rous" for Benson.

-He adores animals! The zoo membership we got last year for his second birthday was probably the most loved gift we've gotten a kid! When I see his response to animals my heart melts.

-He is always saying cute things like "RT2Bot" instead of "R2D2," and adding a double 's' to plural words like "pantses" or "shoeses."

-He is super sweet and cooperative, but he has THE BEST grumpy face. I'm pretty sure those eyebrows could not be more expressive!

-He is quiet and serious on the surface, jovial and hilarious when you dig a little deeper, smart and loving and thoughtful and fun and we're so, so glad he's part of our family.

Love you to the moon and back, Maxwell!!!

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Maxwell's Third Birthday

Our sweet Maxwell had his golden birthday and turned 3 on the 3rd of August!
A few days before his birthday I started asking him what he wanted to do for his birthday, and I proposed several options I thought he might enjoy.
But he was adamant.
"NO! I want to have cake and open presents!"
So that's what we did. We stayed home and he had cake and opened presents.

 I should have measured the trolley I got him before I made the cake. When I went to put it on, I realized it barely fit and a larger cake would have been better suited to it! He obviously didn't mind, though, and after his birthday dinner of Dino-Buddies chicken nuggets, "bunny pasta" (Annie's shells & white cheddar), and watermelon, he was so excited to blow the candles out, dig into the cake and ice cream and, best of all, play with his new trolley! Daniel Tiger is a hit with 3-year-olds around our house!

This is what present opening usually looks like at our house...barely room for the birthday boy to breathe and ten hands clamoring to grab the newly opened gift.

Have you heard of "Peaceable Kingdom" games? My friend told me about them, and I have been really impressed with this one! I plan to collect more for the older kids as well. The games are set up so the players work together cooperatively and play against a part of the game. (In this game, there is a hand that advances toward the tower you are working together to build and if it reaches it, it will knock it down.) This game also has several different adaptations available to make it suitable for kids as young as 2 years old while still allowing older players to play more to their skill level. And I've been really happy with the quality as well! If anyone is in the market for games for kids, I highly recommend Peaceable Kingdom games. They can be found on Amazon.

He was also really excited about his new hydration pack. When we go out on longer bike rides, we all share mine and the water disappears way too quickly! Maxwell felt so big to have one of his own.

And this is what happened when his brothers brought his new plasma car down the stairs! 

It was such a lovely, calm, happy birthday for our Maxwell boy.
Thanks to his grandparents for their kind gifts, as well!
Our boys are blessed to have so many who love them.

Monday, August 26, 2019

Moon Day Party

After visiting the US Space and Rocket Center in May for Sam's birthday,
and watching Apollo 11 at the IMAX in conjunction with my birthday,
it only seemed fitting that we do something to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the moon landing.

But there I was, on the evening of the 19th of July, folding laundry, with nothing at all planned for the following day to commemorate that giant leap for mankind.
And honestly, I wasn't feeling the energy required to come up with a celebration.
But then
Talmage came wandering down the stairs, unable to sleep and requesting a snack.
I have been reading Stephen Covey's Seven Habits of Highly Effective People this year,
and one thing he writes about is the power of delegation--in the business world and in families.
So as I chatted with him, folding the laundry while he ate his snack,
I mentioned the Moon Day party and asked if he wanted to plan it, with me to offer assistance as needed.
He was, of course, totally enthused by the idea,
and the next morning he immediately started busily working on decorations and presented me with an outline of the day and a request for me to make "moon rocks" (Muddy Buddies)!

I gave him a little bit of additional help,
and that afternoon we had our Moon Day party!
The first item of business, of course, was to dig in to the "moon rocks."
Then the boys did a "moon walk," where I played music while they walked around a circle of numbers. When I stopped the music, I would draw out a number, and whoever was standing on that number would win a prize from my list! They included things like a piece of candy from their "pot of gold" or a day off from a chore.
Then the kids played "pin the astronaut on the moon." Talmage had drawn a moon scene and we printed out little astronauts for them to try to put next to the flag. Then they drew moon pictures with white crayons and painted with watercolors over the top to reveal their pictures. We all had fun with that one!
After we finished our pictures, the boys took turns playing a cute little moon game Talmage programmed using Scratch, a beginning online programming language that he had been working to learn throughout the Summer. He had them trying to make the cat character dodge basketballs on the moon.
Then they sat in the hammock and watched a Magic School Bus episode in outer space while I made moon shaped calzones for us to enjoy for dinner.
All in all, it was a great party and a fun addition to our low-key Summer!
Thanks to Talmage, Stephen Covey, and the power of delegation.

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