Monday, March 27, 2017

Keeping It Hot

Instead of talking about the week four of us ended up with the flu, which also happened to be my birthday week, we'll talk about the week (way back at the beginning of the month) that we took a little time off from school and such.  Yeah, the birthday week was a complete bummer in every way so I'm glad it's a new week.  And almost a new month.  I need a new month.

Anyway.  One day we went to the zoo.  I'm pretty sure we have the place memorized, and we really go only to have a nice place to walk.  But the kids always enjoy it regardless.  The peacocks were out in full force on this particular day.

A lot of strange little birds were wandering around.  (And several monkeys, too.)
I'm quite certain Hannah Kate has taken a picture in this exact same spot every time we've gone to the zoo.
And this spot, too.
And that was pretty much it for the zoo.
A couple of days later, we visited Avery Island, home to the Tabasco Factory and Jungle Gardens.  I'd never been before and always wanted to go.  
This just happened to be a highly interactive, informative and fun little museum and factory tour.  It really was!  All of my kids, even the youngest, enjoyed it.  There was something for everyone, whether you're a visual learner or hands-on or auditory is your thing.  I imagine it took a lot of work to design and plan this thing out, and it's just very well done.

You can no longer enter the salt dome on the Island, but they recreated one for you, and it was really neat.
On the day we were there, the factory was bottling Tabasco products to be sent to Australia!  They write on the sign each day where the bottles are being sent to.  They bottle daily except for Fridays so I'd definitely try to go on one of the bottling days.  
Take a minute to read the Tabasco "labels" on the wall mural.
You can even purchase half or whole BARRELS of Tabasco sauce!  I mean, I have no idea who would want to do that or even why, but I guess there's a market for it.  I meant to go back in the store to (out of curiosity) ask how much they sell for, but I forgot to do that.
This is a great place to visit, and I'd definitely go again.  We spent about two hours touring the Tabasco factory (I totally wasn't expecting that, but the kids were really into it) and then we went to the Jungle Gardens (where we spent another two hours).  They absolutely loved that, too.  It's just lots of spaces and places and trails and gardens good for running and playing and hiding.

If you look very closely above the top of Ellie's head, you can see a little alligator.  Yeah, I was a little afraid it might come after them so we did this pretty quick!  But, I mean, they just roam everywhere, and there aren't any fences or anything.
There were lots of fun hiding and climbing places.
Hannah Kate was fascinated by this little temple replica.  It was a fun place to climb.
And there was lots more climbing . . . (although, on this particular day the gymnast was apparently a ballerina)
 And lots of running . . .
And more running . . .
 And they're STILL running . . .
My two favorite girls . . .
And. more. running.
The beauty of Jungle Gardens was a surprise.  I guess I didn't know what to expect, really.  I think we hit it at a great time though.  Because we had such a warm "winter," the azaleas bloomed early this year.  So they were still blooming when we went the first day or so of March.  Those pops of color made a huge difference.  The weather wasn't too hot.  So, having said that, I'd put this on my list of "must visit" places in Louisiana but with a disclaimer.  I don't think it'd be as enjoyable in June, July, August or September simply because of the heat and humidity.  But, the rest of the year, you should totally go!
Oh, you know, just keeping it hot around here!

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Remember Where Your Wife Is (A Short Story by Hannah Kate)

Hannah Kate has been doing A LOT of writing this year.  She's usually given very specific writing prompts, but last week her assignment was to write her very own short story.  She had to choose a story to be her inspiration and then she had to choose a conflict.  She spent a bit of time story mapping to pull her ideas together and then she wrote her own story. I did not help her at. all.  Not one single bit!  As a matter of fact, she wouldn't even let me read it until she finished her final draft!  She didn't tell me her inspiration, conflict or title.  I was so excited when she finished it and I finally got to read it.

It is the most precious, creative story (I mean, the title alone!).  And I'm going to share it with you.  (She honestly probably wouldn't want me to do that.)  But this is another memory I need to capture and save.

After I read it, I asked her how she got the idea, and she said she didn't know.  That's her typical answer for pretty much everything.  She did tell me that her story of inspiration was the Wizard of Oz.


Kansas was a land with millions of trees and a bunch of woods.  In Kansas lived a man named Jacob and his wife.  Jacob, who was a great hunter, made and sold clothes to poor people for free.

Everyday he went out in the woods with his bow and arrow to hunt.  One day when Jacob came home from work, he realized he needed money.  He exclaimed, "I will go to California!"  He scampered on the plane and rushed to California.  In California he sold lots of clothes.

But he missed his flight and needed help getting home.  There were three other people that missed their flight, too.  They all worked together to collect lost items and junk.  With all the stuff they collected, they made one big plane.  They jumped on the plane and headed off.  When they got to Kansas they said their goodbyes and headed home.  Jacob couldn't wait to tell his wife about his journey.

But when he got home, his wife had just got done shopping.  He realized he did not need to go to California.  He learned to always remember where his wife is.

By Hannah Kate Bayham (9 years old)

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

All the Way From Spain

When Seth was in the 11th grade, his family hosted an exchange student from Spain.  Quique (pronounced kee-kay) spent the year here and completely immersed himself in the Bayham family and all things south Louisiana and American.  He ate the food, he learned to fluently speak our language, he played on the football and baseball teams, he went to school, he went fishing and hunting and 3-wheeler riding.  He went back to Spain at the end of that year with stories to tell.  Lots and lots of stories.  And, over the years, I've heard the stories, too.

When Seth graduated high school the following year, he went to Spain for two weeks and stayed with Quique and his family.  This picture was taken at the airport in Barcelona on that trip.
They're all "grown up" now with real jobs and families.  Quique's job requires him to travel to the States sometimes.  I met him in 2004 when he came for a visit.  It was his first time back to south Louisiana since that year in 11th grade.  Last fall he was scheduled to travel to Atlanta for his job, and he had planned to then fly out here and stay for a few days.  That trip was postponed indefinitely at the last minute.  Last week he finally made that business trip to Atlanta and then he flew to Louisiana when he was done.

We spent a lot of time talking about our families and catching up on life and where we've been these last 25 years (because it's been 25 years since their 11th grade year!).  They told the same stories over again from his stay here.  The kids and I had lots of questions about his life in Spain and the culture there.  He told Mason stories about hunting in the Mediterranean for octopus (that was in his "younger" years).  Mason was absolutely fascinated with that and kept asking him about it over and over again.  And then somehow the subject of basketball came up, and they were challenged to a little one-on-one.  I asked Quique who won, and he said it was a tie.  Mason later told me that Quique won, and he was really good!

We asked Quique what we wanted to do while he was here.  At one point he talked about how life-changing his experience was as a foreign exchange student.  He said it impacted the rest of his life for the better.  He was mostly interested in spending time with the people he'd grown so close to and visiting some of the old "haunts."  So that's what we did.

We took him back to False River Academy, the high school he and Seth attended.  Seth explained to the office staff who they were, and we were allowed to walk around the campus.  They both said it had changed a lot and, yet, not changed at all.  The buildings are different colors, and there is a cafeteria now.  The gym is still the same.  And would you believe they even saw their old Chemistry teacher?  Yes, she's still there, still teaching.  

After our "tour," we went to eat lunch.  Quique was hoping to get a burger at his favorite little dive restaurant, but it burned down years ago and was never rebuilt.  So we had to improvise a little bit.  I don't even know why, but Seth ordered alligator.  I mean, of all the appetizers on the menu, alligator.  But everyone ate it.  Kind of.  Well, not everyone.
This is the only picture yours truly made it into during Quique's time here.  You see, about six hours after this was taken, I was at urgent care with Ellie girl, and she was diagnosed with the flu.  Yes.  The flu.  So she and I missed out on the rest of the weekend and Quique's visit.  I was so bummed.  (I mean, do you even REMEMBER what my week had been like up until that point?  And let me just tell you.  It didn't even end with Ellie getting the flu.  We landed in the ER with Hannah Kate on Sunday morning!  Yes, indeed.  Fun times.  But that's another story for another day.)
So Ellie and I hunkered down at home the rest of the weekend.  I told Seth to take lots of pictures of their new adventures.  From what I can tell, they went fishing, rode four wheelers and played in the swamp. 

Oh.  And videos.  Old home videos.  On VHS (if you don't know what that is, google it).  And my mother-in-law is so awesome that she still has an old VCR!  We didn't know if it even still worked, but guess what?!?  It did!

I saw part of one video on Friday afternoon (I missed the rest).  And it was. hilarious.  The kids, y'all, they just died!  I mean, imagine watching old videos of your dad when he was in 11th grade, when he thought he was indeed hot stuff!  But the best part was Barry and Ashley were engaged the Christmas that Quique was here so that was caught on camera, too.  I truly should've taken a picture of Abbie's reaction!  She could hardly watch!  It was priceless.  As I was watching that video, I couldn't help but think that there are some things that haven't changed a bit during these last 25 years.

We also had the opportunity to FaceTime with Quique's wife and children on Friday afternoon.  That was really cool, too!  He has four children, and one of his daughters looks just like Ellie!  Yes!  I am not even kidding!  You just wouldn't even believe it if you saw them together.  They both have blonde hair and all!  (Yes, I just always assumed that everyone in Spain had dark hair!  But that's not the case!)

I wish we would've gotten a picture of all of us together at the beginning of Quique's visit, but we didn't.  Of course, Ellie and I missed out on this one.
Quique brought the children each a mug from Spain.  The girls' mugs have a rendering of the Sagrada Familia on them.  Construction for the cathedral began in 1882 (it's located in Barcelona).  Here we are, 135 years later, and it's only 70% finished!  Yes!  The anticipated completion date is 2026!  Quique was telling us all about it on Thursday.  So while my little patient was laid out on Saturday, I spent my time researching Spain and the Sagrada Familia.  Y'all.  It's an architectural and engineering masterpiece!  The details are so. intricate.  It's breathtaking just reading about it and learning about the symbolism woven all throughout the design.  I can only imagine what it's like to be there in person!  Seriously.  Go read about it here or here.  Anyway, aren't these mugs so cute with the little spoons tucked into the handles?!
So now I have a whole Pinterest board dedicated to Spain and the Sagrada Familia.  I mean, we have to go!  We just have to!

Quique's visit had a profound effect on my children, especially Mason.  He has told me more than once since Sunday that he wishes Quique was still here.

Friday, March 17, 2017

The luck of the Irish is NOT on my side.

So the original title for this post was Finally Friday.  Because it's been a long week.  Not necessarily a bad week.  Just a really long week.  Here's a look back.

Last weekend Mason had the opportunity to go to the LSU baseball game with some friends.  He was so excited!  This was one of the things on his "bucket list" for 2017.  I'd tried to get tickets for all of us to go, but five is obviously too many people to take to an LSU baseball game.  So even though we couldn't be there with him, I was so glad he got to go. 
They played Wichita State and won.  Mason came home with lots of loot, including a ball signed by Cole Freeman, Zach Watson, Nick Coomes, Josh Smith and Coach Mainieri.  He also snagged a home run ball hit during batting practice.  He was pumped!

But then that whole day-light savings thing messed up my whole week.  I don't even know whose idea that is.  I can tell you one thing.  It's not the doing of a mom deep in the trenches of parenting and homeschooling and just trying to keep it all together because an hour of sleep is the LAST thing I want to lose.  (But ask me in October, and it'll be the best weekend ever when I get that hour back!)

We sat in traffic a lot this week.  It's not the morning rush hour or the drive home.  It's just normal, middle of the day traffic that comes to a standstill for no reason.  On Tuesday I left 45 minutes early so I could stop by the grocery store before picking Mason up at Sequitur.  Instead I spent that 45 minutes in traffic.  But at least I wasn't late in picking him up.  And then this was our drive back home.  I try not to complain.  I really do.  But it's frustrating.  I try to remind myself that sitting in traffic just gives me extra time in the truck for more conversation with the kids.  On this particular day, Mason came up with the brilliant idea of buying an RV.  He said then we would have everything we needed - a potty and a bed - and we wouldn't have to worry about going anywhere because we could live in a parking lot somewhere.  That sure would beat the parking lot on I-10 everyday.
But we had a little fun when we finally made it home on Tuesday.  It was March 14, otherwise known as Pi Day.  The big kids and I were talking about it, and Ellie contributed to the conversation by saying it was the perfect day to play Pie Face.  She's a smart one, she is!  So that's what we did.
Hannah Kate was absolutely cracking me up with the faces she was making.
Every single time she turned that knob, her face constricted and contorted all kinds of ways.
Ellie decided to try Mason's strategy of opening her mouth wide in hopes the whipped cream would land there.
It was off just a bit.  But it made its way to where she wanted it to be.
And then it was Hannah Kate's turn again.  She's beginning to catch on.
She actually won the game.  She was just dying to get a pie in her face.  She finally just sat there and kept on turning the knob until it hit her.
And, again, a little to the top and left.
While the kids were playing, I made a pecan pie.
In the midst of all this, I was talking on the phone to my bestie.  She was telling me about cleaning the underside of the stove hood in the rental property she's about to flip.  That got me to thinking.  I took a look underneath my cooktop hood and couldn't stand it.  So I immediately got to work.  I unscrewed the panel that holds the filters and took everything apart.  While I had all of that soaking, I crawled underneath the hood and was scrubbing away.  Until something dripped down right onto the middle of my eye.  MY EYE.  I had my contacts in so I took it out.  I wasn't able to get it clean so I had to throw it away and get a new one for that eye.  But at least nothing actually got in my eye.  When I was driving the next day, I noticed I really couldn't see all that well.  It didn't take long for me to figure out what was wrong.  There's a big difference in my prescription for each eye.  I put the wrong contact in.  So in less than 24 hours, I essentially wasted two lenses.

And then came Wednesday.  That would be the day that one of my children (who shall remain name-less) locked my key in my truck.  And it's the only key I have!  So we had to drive around in big red.  In the meantime, I texted Seth.  I don't even know why.  I had no idea what we were going to do.  I guess I just needed to get it off my chest.  So he asked if we still had the On Star subscription.  First of all, I never even thought of that.  He's so smart!  I mean, On Star is so stinking smart!  But second of all, the subscription expired on March 12.  Three. days. ago.  Imagine that.  He called anyway, and they were able to unlock the truck for me.  Again.  How smart is that?  (No, I still didn't renew the subscription.)

Finally.  We make it to Thursday.  I can see.  And my children are not allowed to touch my keys.  We're still sitting in traffic.  But this girl was chosen as a dancer of the month at our dance studio!  (And to think she's ready to trade those dancing shoes in for a balance beam and uneven bars!)
Mrs. Jillian is her teacher this year.  Mrs. Jillian was the student assistant in Hannah Kate's class during her very first year in dance.  
I sure am proud of this girl!  I'm proud of both of my dancers!
And that brings us to Friday.  Finally.

After a really great day that I'll tell you about later, I ended up in urgent care tonight with this little one.  She's been struggling with a cough for a couple of days, but things went downhill fast this afternoon.  I knew it was either strep or the flu, and I needed to know what I was dealing with.  It's the flu.  Yes.  The flu.  And to be totally honest with you, I'm thinking Hannah Kate is the next one down.  So this just changed things dramatically for my weekend. 
Today is March 17.  St. Patrick's Day.  Otherwise known to me (and always will be known to me) as the day Ellie broke her arm, and we had to spend the night in the hospital and wait on surgery the following morning.  So this was us on March 17, 2014.
I'm not Irish.  And it's safe to say the luck of the Irish is NOT on my side!  And, apparently not on my Ellie's side either!