Monday, March 30, 2020

The Long-Awaited Appointment

When Wesley was about 4,
he began sniffing constantly.
There were often frustrating nights for him when he his nose was so plugged up he couldn't breathe through it, but having him blow his nose yielded no results.
I honestly didn't think a whole lot of it and told him to breathe through his mouth on those nights,
figuring he was just congested or had a cold.
But these problems continued to escalate, and finally, at a well-child visit with a new pediatrician,
he called me over to take a look at Wesley's nose.
When he shined the light up, I was horrified to see that his nasal tissues were so swollen that he was attempting to breathe through tiny slits! He diagnosed him with chronic rhinitis and seasonal allergies and wrote him a prescription, and poor Wesley could finally get some relief.

Over the past year, though, the problems have really escalated.
Last Fall, Wesley was often sneezing like once per minute on most evenings and was constantly sniffing again, in spite of using his nasal spray diligently.
I called the pediatrician, and he prescribed a couple of more medications, but they didn't seem to help at all.
My next step was to call a pediatric allergist,
and I was dismayed to hear that their earliest opening was about 6 months away!
Wesley endured his challenges all Fall, got some relief through the Winter, and finally the long-awaited day came!
After all that waiting, I was SO grateful we made it in by the skin of our teeth--just a couple days after his appointment, all non-urgent appointments were cancelled due to COVID-19!

Wesley enjoyed doing the puzzles on the fun printed exam paper while we waited.
Some nurses came in and asked us a bunch of questions, and then one performed the infamous back-poke test.
"If he's allergic to any of it, he may start to itch," she told me. "You can fan his back, but don't let him scratch. I'll be back in 15 minutes!"
With that she closed the door, and in about 5 seconds Wesley started hooting like a monkey and squirming all over the table as the itchiness hit him hard. It was a miserable 15 minutes for him, but I let him play some games on my phone and I fanned his back, and finally she came back to measure the spots on his back and wipe off all the gel.


The doctor came in and told us the verdict:
he's allergic to all kinds of grass pollen.
This was confusing for a couple of reasons:
1-Grass pollen is only an issue in the Spring, and his problems are the biggest in the Fall, and
2-She said he shouldn't have much of a problem unless there is a lot of freshly cut grass blowing around his face, but not while just being outside.

So apparently his misery is due, not primarily to allergies, but to some other sinus problem and therefore we should visit an ENT to get further information.
(Although he still has the chronic rhinitis.)
After all those months of waiting it was a little bit of a let-down to not get a solution,
but we're one step closer!

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

2018 Family Highlight Video

We're stuck here at home.
Schools are closed until at least April 24,
Sam is working from home,
all of our community and church events have been cancelled,
the biggest cancer conference in the world has been cancelled,
the soccer season has been postponed indefinitely,
and the mayor has issued an order prohibiting all non-essential activities outside the home
(although walks/runs/bike rides are allowed, provided we stay 6 feet away from others).

Shortly after the mayor issued that order (which would take effect the following day),
I took the boys out for one last hurrah.
The city had a "teddy bear hunt" going where many neighbors put teddy bears in their windows and then we could drive around and find them. We kept going until we found over 100, and then I took the boys to try Sheridan's frozen custard (supposedly the best ice cream in Memphis, although I am still partial to Blue Bell).
We went through the drive-thru, and as the employee took my card he asked,
"Did you hear about that order the mayor issued??"
I replied in the affirmative,
and he said,
"So what does that mean for us? We are considered an essential service, but would you get arrested or something if you drove over here to get ice cream?"
"I dunno..." I said, "Ice cream is always essential, right?"

So since we're pretty much confined to the house, other than the occasional trip out to get groceries,
and of course it's STILL rainy,
I thought I'd make another highlight video, this time for the year 2018.
(The resolution is lots better if you click YouTube and watch it there.)

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Into the Woods

With all this social distancing going on,
Tennesseans are still being encouraged to get outside.
In fact, all the state parks even have free admission right now to help with all this.
Unfortunately, the rain just won't stop!
We've had a couple of non-rainy days over the past several weeks,
but on those days it's so muddy and slimy from all the rain that it really isn't appealing to go outside anyway.
One one such (overcast, but not raining) day, I decided to take the boys to go explore Meeman-Shelby State Park, which is about 40 minutes away from us.
Mud or no mud, I was determined to have an outing!

We recently purchased a new (to us) mini-van,
and the boys were so excited to take it on our road trip to Nauvoo.
I had told them that the DVD Player would only be used on long trips, and they were very disappointed to not be able to test out that and other features on our trip.
So I decided to pretend our little jaunt to Meeman-Shelby was a longer road trip.
I let them watch Liberty's Kids on the DVD Player, I printed sheets of travel Bingo they could play while we drove, and we even picked up Wendy's for a picnic lunch.

The boys enjoyed playing on the playground next to the cabins and the lake and we ate our lunch off and on as they played.

This was the coolest swing! A baby swing on one side, a bigger-kid swing on the other side, so the boys (or I) could have fun swinging while Benson got to swing to his heart's content!

There were tons of little bees buzzing around the wildflowers, and I tried to get a decent picture of one.

And then, right as I was snapping a picture, Benson almost stepped on the bee and it flew away so I ended up with this shot of it taking off! Kinda fun.

We then headed over to the trail for a muddy, mucky, slimy hike.
Although the trees were barely beginning to bud, the forest was teeming with life. All this rain meant that moss and fungus was growing all over the place, and when we stopped walking and were quiet, we could hear 5 different bird calls at once. I was loving seeing all the variety in plant growth.

We loved this spiky plant with curly-cues all over it. Anyone know what it is?

And I thought the bottom of this (very large) fallen tree looked just like a hobbit hole! It just needs a door!

The boys thought these intertwined trees were so fun. Trees in Tennessee have such a vertical feel and are typically very tall, narrow, and twiggy compared to Utah's broad trunks and wide-spread branches.

So many fallen trees with enormous root systems to survey!

On our way back, Talmage wanted to be Benson's helper. It was the sweetest thing to watch him help Benson over all the obstacles, hold his hand over the rough parts, and lift him over mud puddles.

He was also great at "oooh-ing" and "aaah-ing" over whatever Benson showed him.

We were walking through pretty wild terrain! Here Lincoln, Wesley, and Maxwell are standing on the other side of a bridge that is all broken up. There wasn't much water under it, so we hopped across wobbly boards to make it across.

I made the boys drag their feet around in the grass when we got back to the lake to try to scrape some of the copious amounts of mud off their shoes. They enjoyed throwing rocks into the lake.

After we got home, I made a St. Patrick's Day dinner of green pizza bread, kiwi, and green smoothies.
It was a fun break from Corona-prison!

Monday, March 23, 2020

At-Home Church

I snapped this picture a while back after Benson asked Sam to say a prayer with him. The image of them kneeling down together with Benson's little hands clasped together was just about more than I could handle!

Our "at-home church" went pretty well last week,
but this week we were better prepared and our Bishop had authorized us to have the Sacrament in our home,
so the meeting was just beautiful to me.

Benson, as sweet as he is, creates a LOT of chaos during any attempted organized meetings.
When someone is trying to teach, he climbs up on the chair next to them and shouts his own discourse over the top of them, waving his hands and speaking adamantly while throwing in words like, "Testimony!" and repeating random words the other person is trying to say.
If I try to accompany songs on the piano, he quickly climbs up beside me and starts banging on the keys.
When we sing without the piano, he climbs on the table to dance.
Sam and I are kept so busy trying to contain and silence Benson that our teaching is significantly reduced.
So this week we made the brilliant decision to wait until we put him down for his nap to start church.
Sorry, baby boy...

So after Benson was settled and lunch was cleaned up, I had the boys gather in the living room and instructed them each to grab a Friend or Ensign magazine while I played some hymn arrangements on the piano to provide some prelude music. They all sat quietly on the couches while they listened to the music and read their magazines as Sam prepared the Sacrament.
We pulled the coffee table to the side of the room and covered it with a white cloth and he prepared bread and water.
We started our meeting by singing "He is Risen," and the boys all enthusiastically sang the song with such conviction I was nearly brought to tears. We had an opening prayer, after which we sang "As Now we Take the Sacrament," and Sam blessed and passed the Sacrament to us.
Then each of the boys gave their talks. Sam had assigned them topics and given them a basic template to follow. He helped Lincoln a lot, but Wesley and Talmage did their own thing entirely and shared some poignant thoughts. Even Maxwell wanted to give a talk, so Talmage helped him share his testimony.
Sam then wrapped up the meeting with a talk of his own,
and we finished by singing "Come, Follow Me" and had a closing prayer.

I took charge of the second half of our meeting, and we started with Singing Time and played singing Jenga. We then a had a Primary lesson about the allegory of the olive tree and talked about the different symbols and watched a short film about the care of olive trees. We discussed our role in the Savior's plan to gather Israel, did some coloring sheets, and closed with a final prayer.

I was so happy with how the meeting went and, although I would change the circumstances if I could, I am so grateful for this chance to be even more involved and intentional as we teach our children the Gospel and bring these sacred experiences into our home.

Also--my sister told me about these books, and they are incredible! Mine just arrived in the mail a couple of days ago, and I am so excited to do lots of activities related to olive trees this week!

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Hanging in There

Like much of the country,
Memphis has essentially shut down.
Last week when drastic measures started being put in place,
and we realized we would not be going on our planned Spring Break vacation (*sob*),
I started to feel pretty overwhelmed.

At least two weeks shut up in our house while it rains every day outside?
I understand the whole need to "flatten the curve" and all,
but it all feels very surreal when there have been a grand total of 3 cases found in Memphis...
two that had traveled together to New Orleans, and another person from out of the country that was passing through Memphis when he/she decided to go to the hospital.
So really, there are no signs of any community spread.
I keep hearing jokes about how "even the coronavirus doesn't want to come to Memphis," or "the coronavirus came to Memphis and 2 minutes later got shot."

We had planned on leaving on our vacation on Saturday,
so instead I went to the store and bought snacks each of the boys requested,
we watched "Togo," a cute movie (based on a true story) about a heroic sled dog who brought medicine to dying children in Alaska,
we ate the yummy food I had purchased for our vacation,
and we made s'mores over the stove instead of in the firepit in the gorgeous backyard of the Airbnb we had rented. :(
Thankfully the boys recovered from their sadness pretty quickly and we enjoyed the day together.

On Sunday we had church at home, 
I taught the boys to play Dominoes with a new set I had recently picked up (totally nostalgic for me as I remember playing so many games on Sunday evenings with my grandparents when I was young), 
I finished compiling our 3-month food storage menu plan and took inventory, 
Sam took fussy, fussy Benson on a long walk, 
we had our typical Come, Follow Me lesson,
and we finished the evening with Saints and Snacks.

On Monday we went to the library (which was also gearing up to close) and we now have about 70 library books (literally) in our house.
These pictures were taken at storytime last week,
before our lives turned upside down.
 We tried out a new library and their storytime was so cute!

Yesterday we went on an adventure that will get a post of its own.
I'm letting the boys have a low-key week since it would have been Spring Break, anyway,
and then we will crack down and start our own little version of homeschool until the kids go back.
Now if the rain could just stop...

Wednesday, March 11, 2020


The rains have descended upon Memphis again this week.

Today we tried to remedy that by:
-making a house out of a big cardboard box
(Talmage of course walked in the door from school and, upon seeing the house, decided to build a couple more of his own so we have our own cardboard city)
-baking and enjoying brownie cookies
-eating tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches for dinner
-having an indoor snowball fight (Sam+boys)
-cuddling lots under a down-filled blanket

I know the summers here are brutal, but I am looking forward to not having goosebumps 90% of the time.

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