Thursday, December 5, 2019

Family in Memphis: Part 1

Some of my family came to visit at the end of October for Wesley's baptism!
My mom, my dad, and my youngest brother, Bronson (who just left on his mission a couple of weeks ago), all drove out from Utah, and we were joined the next day by my sister, Breanne.

Day 1 wasn't too eventful, and for good reason! They had driven with only about an hour of a stop for sleep, all the way from Utah to Memphis--roughly a 24 hour drive in good conditions, but they had a blizzard to contend with for a good portion of the way as well!
They arrived at our house around lunchtime and my dad crashed pretty much right away to get a few hours of sleep under his belt before they could check into their hotel.
I sat around chatting with my mom and Bronson (and getting Maxwell to warm up to them) until they could go to their hotel to shower and change after their marathon drive.
We then met back up at our house for a classic Memphis meal: Gus's Fried Chicken.
It is all the rage here in Memphis, although it's rather spicy for our tastes.
After dinner, we headed over to their hotel to let the boys swim!
I laughed so hard when Maxwell, frantic because he had gotten water in his eyes and they were hurting, ran toward me saying, "Mommy, Mommy!" and then stopped dead in his tracks, turned 90 degrees, and ran over to Sam's slipper and used it to wipe his eyes.
Taking a leaf out of Stephen Covey's book, Sam will sometimes tell our kids, "Use your R and I!" (Resourcefulness and Initiative) I guess Maxwell was doing just that!
It was freezing that day, so Talmage and Wesley zipped themselves together in Sam's hoodie before we headed out the door to go back home for bed.

Bronson loves metal working and even built a forge in their basement! He is quite the blacksmith, so visiting the Metal Museum was a must while they were here. It is very unique--the only museum of its kind in America.
I hadn't been before; it was so fun to see the different creations and watch the professional blacksmith in action. Bronson could have stayed and watched him all day.
Where else in the world can you see giant metal cockroaches?

After the Metal Museum, I picked Sam up from St. Jude and we had lunch together at an interesting little sandwich place called Westy's nearby. I tried fried catfish for the first time and didn't hate it as much as I thought I would! It's something I had wanted to try since, again, it's a Memphis classic, but I was unwilling to pay for something I didn't like. Thankfully, my dad had no such reservations. My veggie grilled cheese was delicious as well. We then went back to St. Jude, where Sam showed my dad and Bronson around his building. (At least, a little bit! They couldn't do much because of the massive amounts of adorable trick-or-treating patients--Halloween is the craziest day of the year at St. Jude with a strong celebrity presence.) We walked around the pavilion a little bit before heading home to get ready for dinner and trick-or-treating!

Because it was so cold, we intended to go to a nearby nursing home, where I had heard they had trick-or-treating available. Win/win--the residents get to see adorable costumes, and the kids get to stay warm! But when we arrived at 7:00, we found out that they had just finished. They gave the kids a few pieces of candy and we headed back to our neighborhood to freeze as we hit a few houses up and down the street. I made hot chocolate when we got back to the house, and that night Breanne arrived!

The next morning we decided to visit the Bass Pro pyramid. Again, I had always wanted to ride the elevator to the top (at 300 feet, it's the tallest free-standing elevator in America!), but had been unwilling to pay the price to do it. Once again, my parents had no such qualms and we got to ride the glass elevator up...up...up to the observation balcony at the top of the pyramid!

It was the funniest thing to watch Benson at the top.
While Maxwell characteristically cautiously and deliberately took each step toward the railing, Benson ran over and began trying to squeeze through the rail. It soon became clear that he thought the side of the pyramid was a giant slide and he wanted to go down!
I mean, why not? Nothing like a slide with a 300 foot vertical drop to give a 1-year-old some excitement.
Just look at him!

It did provide a lovely view of Memphis, and thankfully the weather was greatly improved from the day before!
(looking down at the river)

(looking down the street at St. Jude--all the pink buildings are part of St. Jude)

(looking toward the Memphis skyline)

(Bronson stayed down in the store while we went up.)

We wandered around the store for a while and picked up a bunch of flavors of fudge, some cinnamon cashews, and some holiday flavored Jelly Belly jellybeans!
We didn't really need anything else for lunch, right?

Then we headed over to the Mississippi River riverwalk park, featuring the to-scale model of the Lower Mississippi. I thought my dad and Bronson would love to see the engineering of it.

Breanne, the kids, and I didn't stay long, because we had to hurry home for me to make a real lunch, do a quick Costco run, meet the older boys as they came home from school, and pick up a babysitter for the night's adventure. I whipped together some chicken cordon bleu paninis and gave Breanne quick instructions regarding the boys getting off the school bus before I did a blitz run through Costco to pick up food for the lunch following Wesley's baptism and came home with the babysitter, just in time to leave again to pick up Sam from work and visit Beale Street for dinner.

Now, I'm not the biggest fan of Beale Street. It is crowded and LOUD and hectic and LOUD and smelly and LOUD and did I mention LOUD? All the flashing lights and bars and screaming music don't really appeal to me, but, as my sister said, visiting Memphis and not seeing Beale Street kind of felt like visiting Washington, D.C. and not seeing the Washington Monument.
I dunno, maybe that's a bad rationale to go, but we eventually found a (very expensive) parking spot and made our way to B.B. King's for typical Southern dining and LOUD live music.
The band was actually quite good, though, and kept things family-friendly, so even though we couldn't hear ourselves think over the music, I thought it was pretty fun.

(Breanne was there too, but she kindly took the pictures!)
We made it back home just before the boys went to bed, and then Breanne and I stayed up until about 1:00 in the morning getting things ready for Wesley's baptism the next morning (I cooked and Breanne showed me funny YouTube videos to keep me awake!).
Baptism details coming up next!

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Halloween 2019

In light of all the craziness of October, I wanted to keep Halloween costumes super simple.
The boys usually want to be something creepy/gory,
and I am not a fan, so I tell them I won't buy them a creepy/gory costume.
It is always a struggle to find something we both agree on.

this year things were looking up when Talmage said he wanted to be a dragon!
It didn't take much convincing at all for the other boys to agree to be dragons, with Benson as the baby knight to slay them all.
I quickly looked up dragon masks and found a cheap one on Amazon that came in lots of colors--perfect!
I told myself I would be able to find shirts and pants at Goodwill in coordinating colors and I would just quickly attach some wings and tails.
Easy, peasy.

Unfortunately, I am the queen of underestimating how much time, effort, and money projects will take.
I definitely bit off more than I could chew with this one,
and I spent far too long drawing scales on clothes and re-making shirts and pants that, although I found in the right color at Goodwill, were definitely not the right size (Maxwell's shirt was actually my size!). I even enlisted my mom's help while they were visiting for Wesley's baptism to draw on scales on Halloween afternoon.
And in the end, I didn't quite finish all the scale-drawing (seriously, I spent so many hours on something I thought would take me a total of about one hour!). And it is silly that I was working so hard on it when it was pitch black on Halloween as they were trick-or-treating!

But the boys were thrilled with their costumes.
Talmage had the idea to pull out some gloves (we just so happened to have gloves in all the right colors) and add masking tape claws to them, which made for a fun addition to them.
I made Benson's hat by adding a little felt to a women's winter hat I found at the Dollar Store, and I could not get enough of his little face poking out while he stomped around, wielding his sword at all his brothers, who would dramatically fall writhing to the ground.

The boys made up names and abilities for their dragons:
Talmage (Black)-Scythewing; Deadly Poisonous Horns and Breathes Black Fire
Wesley (Blue)-Speartooth; Breathes Gasite (poison mixed with darts, arrows, and gasses)
Lincoln (Red)-Redclaw; Breathes Comets
Maxwell (Green)-Poisonwing; Breathes Green Poison

**Today's Tidbit: I saved a lovely 9 foot Christmas tree from my neighbor's garbage pile yesterday! It looked like it was in great shape, but it was pre-lit, and none of the lights worked. I decided to take all the lights off the tree, since I don't mind stringing my own lights each year. FYI, if you want to take the lights off a pre-lit better settle in for the long haul. It looked like they had started to remove the lights and got about a third of the way done before giving it up. I can see why! My hands are all scratched up and it took several hours, but I got it done and it is set up in our living room! It fits our space a lot better than our old one and it's a bit nicer looking. But, confession...I decided to set up our other one as well, in our other living area (in the South they call it a "hearth room"). The more, the merrier, right? I don't normally put up Christmas decorations before Thanksgiving, but I didn't want to haul our "new" tree up to our attic, so it will be a Christmas-y Thanksgiving at our house!

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Benson at 18 Months

Our Benson-boy is 18 months!
Here are a few bits of his life at this age:

-He is a crazy climber and climbs on things ALL day long. I had to put our barstools in the attic, because I was constantly finding him up on the kitchen counters. He regularly pushes chairs, buckets, benches, etc. to be able to reach what he wants, but at least putting the barstools in the attic has saved my sanity for the time being.

-He is talking up a storm! He is starting to string words together and sometimes form basic sentences. He is always asking, "What's that?" and "Where are we going?" The other day when he got frustrated he yelled, "s'NOT WORKING!" He also frequently says, "Please stop!" (I wonder why?) I love how he says his own name, as well as his brothers'. I regularly say, "He's just...such a person!" because he seems older than he is based on his thought processes and the way he expresses himself.

-He LOVES animals and will almost immediately try to hug them. The other day we were on Facetime with my sister, who is in Costa Rica, and she showed us a dog. Benson immediately gave the phone a big hug! (He also said, "Hola!" and "Dios!" to a Costa Rican woman my sister was with.)

-He is pretty fearless. He is also undeterred by injuries and will generally hop right back up and try again as soon as he's mostly recovered. He loves the thrill rides Sam gives him and laughs hysterically.

-Nursery at Church was a pretty seamless transition. He is in there regularly with me as I teach the signing time, and Maxwell is already in there, so he was already used to it.

-He loves to be with his brothers, swing at the park, read stories, build block towers, drive transportation vehicles and make their sound effects, go on bike rides and walks, and just be outside in general. He is CRAZY about music and can't seem to stop himself from dancing anytime there he hears a rhythm--he will even dance to the sound of the kitchen mixer! He has the best dance moves and also just loves to be a spaz in general and do weird poses and movements, like waddling with his arms outstretched behind him and a weird expression on his face, just to make us laugh.

This is such a classic Benson face, probably asking, "What's that?"

Love you so much, Bensy-boy!

**Today's Tidbit: I just love hearing my kids talk. This morning Maxwell did a cool trick and told Lincoln, "That was ecip!" (He meant "epic.") On the way to school, Talmage told Wesley to "stop fretting." Yesterday I turned around and drove back to the house after leaving because I thought I left my straightener on and as we drove up Lincoln said, "I don't see any tendrils of smoke!"
I'm sure they get it from the books they read, but there is definitely a healthy dose of DNA in the mix, as well. Sam's use of language never ceases to delight me. Just a while back, I commented that we needed to come up with a word to describe our behavior when we make a feeble protest against something while actually hoping the other will do it. You know, like:
Sam: "I'm going to take out the trash."
Kaitlyn: "No, no, let me do it." (actually hoping he will insist)
This happens pretty regularly in the evening...I am cold and tired and want to stay wrapped in a blanket and then Sam says he will go check on the boys or something, so I protest insincerely. When I proposed making up a word to describe what I was doing, Sam had one almost instantly: "fauxtest." 
Get it? It's a regular part of my vocabulary now.
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