Sunday, May 30, 2010

Sea World

Matt leaves for almost the entire month of June for training in Louisiana. We will miss him everyday. Therefore, we decided that this Memorial Day weekend would be a good time to do a little playing before he has to leave. We planned this trip with our good friends, Erik and Joelle Askerlund, and their five-month-old little girl, Brielle.

Originally, this vacation was going to take place for four days in Corpus Christi, a vacationing hot spot on the Gulf of Mexico. But then we found out that Erik had guard duty Sunday, and would not be able to be gone that long. So we canceled everything and cried a little.

But then I took a shower. And I am a genius in the shower. So I came up with an entirely new plan, that would cost very little and be done before Sunday ever arrived.

Hello, SeaWorld!

There are many perks to being in the military. Perk one: free entrance to many Busch Gardens Amusement Parks, one of which is SeaWorld. Perk two: four day weekend for Memorial Day when most every body else gets three (tanslation: short lines). So Friday morning we caravaned to San Antonio and arrived just in time to enter the park as the gates were opening.

It was awesome! We saw Shamoo, played in the water, rode some great roller coasters, and ate ourselves silly on Dippin' Dots and funnel cake. There was something on every body's level, even Bennett's and Brielle's, and we all had a great time.

In fact, we enjoyed it so much, we decided we would go back the next day, too! (Actually, we decided to go back when we found out the water park was closed until the next day. And it's a pretty great water park.) So we spent the night in a hotel close to the park, and then woke up the next day and did it all again...except this time we did it with two exhausted children and about a zillion other people with a zillion other exhausted children. Luckily, we only stayed until noon, and then hit the road for Mary and Wayne's, where we had a delicious lunch and a good chat before heading back home.

It was pretty fast and furious, but we all really had fun and are already planning on making this a Hargrave Family tradition.

Bennett in the parking lot of SeaWorld. Notice how he is already holding his shoes instead of wearing them? I swear, I don't even know why I try. In fact, I stopped trying after awhile, and when we got to the hotel that night there were little black footprints all over our white towels. This kid is 100% boy.

Brielle, Joelle, Me, and Bennett in front of the SeaWorld gates on Day One.

The first thing we did was go to the Shamoo show. And guess what? Shamoo had a baby! It was so fun to watch her swim around and try to do the same tricks her mom was doing. Cute, cute, cute.

Bennett was pretty involved in the show. He doesn't usually sit still for very long, but he was enthralled the entire forty minutes this show lasted. I really think he liked it, except when people would scream because they got splashed. He didn't like that at all. :)

I have to admit, I have seen this show a few times now and it never seemed that great to me. Watching this with Bennett though was a whole new experience (as I expect Christmas mornings will be) and I may have even teared up a bit. It really is cool watching him experience new things for the first time.

Matt and Erik (and an extremely fat man) walking back to the strollers after seeing Shamoo.

After lunch (which we ate at a restaurant inside the park...something I never thought I would do), we took the little guys to cool off in Shamoo's Happy Harbor, which is like a little splash park. As mentioned above, the main water park was not open on this day, so this tiny area was crammed with more people than should ever be allowed in one place.

It was here, in the midst of a tumultuous mob scene, that Bennett decided he no longer required the assistance of an adult to move about. He toddled off with impressive speeds though holes and crowds of people nobody over three-feet tall could ever hope to fit through. Surprisingly, he loved all the people, and would giggle with delight every time a rampid child would catapult around a corner and smash him to the ground. We are only lucky he made it out of there alive.

The water and sun took a lot out of Bennett. The green thing is a fan that squirts water, and it saved our lives on this ridiculously hot and humid day.

Dippin' Dots in a Shamoo bowl. the lady gave me so much, I didn't even finish them all. (Something else I never thought I would do.)

While Bennett slept, Joelle and I ate ice cream (above) and Matt and Erik rode some of the bigger rides. Here they are going up...

And here they are coming down, much to the delight of hundreds of middle school children wanting to get wet at the bottom. Seriously, there must have been at least five different schools here on this day. Can I just say that I am so glad to be out of that awkward stage of life?

When Bennett woke up we went to the arcade and tried our hands at whack-a-mole, the ring toss, and that one game where you hit the scale on the bottom and try to make the weight reach the bell at the top (what do you call that?). Anyway, Bennett inherited several stuffed animals that followed us around the rest of the day and will probably end up in the bottom of his toy box now that we are home.

We love amusement park souvenir's.

After a few rounds of roller coasters for everybody, we called it a day and found our hotel. That night we ate some Chinese food and passed out from exhaustion. It was a good day.

The next day we arrived at the park early and spent a good few hours doing some of the things we hadn't gotten to do the day before.

Matt and Bennett at the park, day two.

One of the things we did that we hadn't done previously was to watch the Sea Lions get fed. These are remarkably awkward animals that are fascinating, due to the fact that they are so remarkably awkward. Bennett could not keep his eyes off of them, which is why he is not looking in even one of the pictures we took here.

THIS WAS MY FAVORITE PART!!! After the Sea Lions we went to see the dolphins and it just happened to be during feeding time. So we droped two-thirds of Matt's paycheck on dead fish and joined the crowds around the pool. It was SO cool!
Joelle and Brielle feeding the dolphin.

Matt and Bennett feeding the same dolphin. These guys are well fed.

We still had a little time to kill before the water park opened, so we stopped in at this huge aquarium place. Everytime a big fish, or especially sharks, would swim past, Bennett would point and say "OOOooohhh!" or "Woooow." What a funny boy.


The water park of SeaWorld finally opened at 11:00, and we entered with a throng of hot and sweaty tourists while both Bennett and Brielle screamed. And I thought to myself, "Is this fun?" And no, it was not fun for a little while. Bennett was slap-tired and I was exhausted, and the "lazy river" we tried going on as a family was anything but. We were seriously about to just leave, when we stopped by the kiddie pool and suddenly life was back to its normal happy self.

Thank goodness for shallow water! Bennett played and played in this pool and I was happy to watch and help when needed. Matt and Erik did a few of the big slides, and by the time we left we had totally forgotten the sheer horribleness of the first few minutes. Bennett was out before we even got to the car, and he slept like a dead man all the way to his Maimie and Pop's.

We had a great lunch and it was lots of fun getting to see Bekah and Nathan and Mary and Wayne again. By the time we left for home we were fat and happy.

We love this bunch!

Family vacations are the best. :)

Monday, May 24, 2010

Our Who-Magoo Moves!

Oh my, we are in trouble.

I mentioned during my recent torrent of blog updates that Bennett was in the beginning stages of waking. Well, it has been a full week exactly from his first steps, and look where he is at now.

We really are so excited for him, and he is so excited for himself! He tries walking everywhere now, including down the main isles during church, while grocery shopping (a very sloooow process), and towards speeding vehicles driving down the street.

This is going to be exciting!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

The First of Many

You may have noticed that I have not exactly been the queen of blog updating lately. There are several good reasons for this. One reason is that I lost my camera cord a few days ago (Logan and Griffin, please check your bags!) The other reason is, you may recall, that I was sicker than a sailor for a few days and just never got around to blogging after my recovery. So, without further ado, here is what I should have posted for the last several weeks, broken up into different blog postings for your reading convenience. You may even need to click on the "Older Posts" button at the bottom of the page to get to them all.



When I first started feeling sick Bennett and I were in San Antonio. I was there to attend the temple with the Relief Society sisters, and Bennett was there to play with his Aunt Bekah while I was away.

You have heard me talk about these fun people before, but just as a refresher course, Bekah is Matt's cute little sister and Nathan is her wonderful husband.

Even though Bekah was going to BYU-Idaho at the same time I was dating/engaged to Matt, I never really got to know her well until she met and married Nathan and they moved into the apartment a few doors down from us.

They are so cool! I loved getting to hang out with them. Also, because I am from Rexburg, Bekah and Nathan began joining Matt and I whenever we went to my family's for Sunday dinners. My mom and Bekah were in the same Elementary Education field together, and whenever they got together they began speaking a different language full of phonemics and the latest testing standards, none of which have real names only acronyms that are several letters long. It was all very mysterious to the rest of us, but needless to say, they became close friends.

When Matt graduated in 2008, the Army sent us, ironically, to San Antonio, Texas where Matt's family is. So Bekah and I essentially switched places. I was with her family being excellently taken care of in San Antonio, and she was in Rexburg with mine, eating Sunday dinners. It was great!

But no matter how fun college is, nobody wants to be there forever. So this last April Bekah and Nathan walked the stage together and said their good-byes to good ol' BYU-I. And where did they go from there?

Why, to San Antonio, of course! Because they missed us so much!

No, really Nathan is a very talented Communications Marketer, and a company picked him up that just happened to be in San Antonio. But the point is, they are here! And we get to see them whenever we visit, and we couldn't be happier about it!

So anyway, When Bennett and I were down there this last time I got to have a little tour of Bekah and Nathan's new, perfectly adorable apartment. And because my mom loves Bekah probably as much as she loves me, I promised her I would take detailed notes of their new home and post them for her to see. So here you go. Bekah and Nathan's apartment.
This is from the front door. The door to the right goes to the garage, and the stairs lead to the main living area.

Bekah in her spacious new living room. This apartment is so nice! It has crown moulding and beige walls and Bekah, of course, has somehow managed to make it feel like home without even owing furniture yet. She has a gift. It makes me insanely jealous.

The kitchen (and Bennett's head) looking from the little dining area. The living room we just saw is on the left, and you can kind of see the stair well leading down to the front door. Did I mention they had only lived here like, a week when we came to visit? Look at all the cutsie decorations she already put up! It took me two months to do that at my house.

From the dining area there are stairs leading down, and off to the right of those is this little area. It doesn't look like much now (like I said, they had only lived here a week) but this will be the study and maybe an open nursery if they end up being here long enough.

Across the hall from the study area is the world's tallest bathroom. I'm not even kidding, this room has like, 15 foot high ceilings. It is one of those Jack and Jill type bathrooms, with a door leading from the hall (which I just mentioned) and then one leading to the bedroom down that little space to the right of Bekah.

And this is the Master bedroom (just a corner of it. It was hard to get it all in the frame.) I am standing where the bathroom door is, and to the right of Bekah is the main entrance, coming in from the hallway with the study area seen previously. Is all of this making any sense? The closet is the door you can see behind her.

And what a closet it is! Very big and, of course, organized.

Bekah cracks me up. This is actually inside their closet (to the right of the door pictured above). Bekah made a little jewelry station where she keeps all her girly things. It is an excellent idea really, because when she gets ready she can match accessories to clothing without having to go back and forth. What a thinker!

Anyway, that is Bekah and Nathan's new apartment. I was only there to drop Bennett off and pick him up, but in that short time I cried with happiness at least three times. (Remember, I was sick. I am way overly emotional when I am sick.) But I really am so happy to have these guys close to us again though! We sure love them!

Amazing Matt

Matt called me from work one day to say that we he was coming home to pick up me and Bennett because he had an award ceremony to go to he forgot to tell me about. "OK," I thought, "no big deal."

Wrong. Huge deal.

Apparently Matt was chosen for a pretty routine volunteer award, which was cool, yes. But even more amazing was the ceremony itself. I kid you not, this was the most theatrical show I have ever seen the Army put on, complete with canons firing, a full marching band, horses and wagons, full dress uniforms and swords, and a Calvary charge at the end. Whoa.

Bennett, however, was unimpressed and spent the entire time whining and picking dandelions.

Bennett waiting for it to start.

Matt had his own seat reserved and everything. Very fancy. I had a seat reserved, too. It said, "1LT Matthew Hargrave Guest" :)

Here comes the Calvary

The Wagon and the band. I felt so bad for these guys. It had to be at least 95* out there, and they stood at attention for the entire hour-long ceremony. One guy finally passed out and had to go sit in the shade with a medic. That is dedication, I'll tell you right now.

Matt, receiving his award. I don't know of anybody who deserves this more. I am very proud of him.

While this award was just a little thing, (with an overly-dramatic ceremony) Matt also got a big thing a few days later. Another promotion! Matt is now the new Executive Officer of his company. This means he is directly under the Captain of the company, and acts as the Commander whenever he isn't there himself.

While this promotion doesn't affect our paycheck at all, it looks really good on paper and gets Matt a new office. It also allows him to take better care of his soldiers, which is really important to him.

I could seriously go on all day about how great Matt is, not only at his job, but as a husband and a daddy and a friend and a priesthood holder and as a human being in general...but that would not be very fun for you to read. :) So just know that we are very proud of him, and feel so blessed to have him in our lives.

What a good guy.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

A House FULL of Fun

A few months ago, I was talking to my mom on the phone about how we absolutely love living in Texas, but that the bad part is we never get to see anybody from my side of the family unless we travel to them.

Since that conversation I have been visited by my dad, Courtney, Logan, Rachel, Evelyn, Adalie, Jackson, Griffin, and Ashland, who is pregnant with a little girl due at the end of July.

So I am eating my words all right, but I am doing it with a smile on my face, because it has been so much fun!

Here's the story. Logan is going to Dental school in Ohio, and Griffin is going to Law school in Oklahoma. Because they are both students, they both got summer breaks this last week. Matt however, is not in school (although he has officially signed up to take the GRE for Hospital Administration in July. Cross your fingers!). Anyway, no such break was given to him. But because we all wanted to see each other, Logan and Griffin's families drove several thousands of miles to get to our home for one crazy week.

Everybody arrived Sunday night and got the standard tour of our home and shown their rooms. Griffin and Ashland got the cowboy room (because pregnant ladies always get the good stuff), and Logan and Rachel got an inflatable air mattress on the office floor, surrounded by three pack n' plays gathered up from various friends and neighbors. Logan and Rachel are troopers :)

The rest of the week was full of morning walks, backyard fun, movies, delicious food, playing at the park, visiting Matt at work, a trip to the Austin Children's Museums, Monopoly Deal, BBQ's, shopping, hanging out with cousins, and a photo shoot.

Six adults and four kids, all under the age of two and a half--five kids, if you count Jace, who was here three mornings of the week...six if you count Griffin and Ashland's baby :)--made for a pretty noisy time, but I would not have traded it for anything. It was cool to be with my brothers and their families as the "grown ups" and to watch our kids play as "the cousins." I guess this was really the first time we have ever done anything like this independently from my mom and dad, so it was new and exciting. And, did I mention? Very fun. Here are some pictures from the week, with very few captions underneath because I have learned from sad experience that putting captions under every picture when there are more than 50 pictures is just insane. Sorry.

Along with the pack n' plays I borrowed a few booster chairs to accommodate all the little bodies. This is a look into our morning feeding time, which began directly after all children in the house were awake...usually by 6:00 am. No sleeping in around here!

The adults ate pretty well, too. Logan is a "breakfast guy" and created fabulous dishes for us each morning, including bacon egg sandwiches on chibbata bread, and Eggs Benedict, a new favorite of mine. He is an excellent cook, and an excellent presenter. Each dish was plated beautify. :)

Most mornings we would walk around the neighborhood, but one time we went to the park and just played until the kids were ready to go home. It was here I realized how much Bennett loves the slide. What a funny boy.

One day, Evelyn found Ashland's mascara. I found Evelyn. Rachel found the makeup remover.

Matt was extremely busy this week, since it was his first week as the new Executive Officer and his unit is getting ready to do month long training in Louisiana and then deploy to Iraq. He didn't get home until after 6:30 most nights, and one night not until almost 9:00. Matt is a hard workin' man!

He called one afternoon to say that he had a break in his schedule, though, and asked if we could come see him for a little bit. So we all loaded up the cars and went to check out his new office and go out to lunch. Poor Matt, working so hard when we were all having fun without him. What a good guy I married!

Bennett and Evelyn were such good cousins on this visit. They played together pretty well, even though a lot of their play was only next to each other and not really with each other. When they did acknowledge the others' presence though, it was very cute.

One popular bonding activity Bennett and Evelyn did do together was playing in the mud in our backyard. This was a load of fun for the whole family.

Notice the trail of tiny footprints from the back door to the kitchen...

Griffin and Ashland had to be back in Oklahoma by Thursday, so we had a hot dog and s'more roast the night before to send them off.

Thursday morning, Logan and Rachel's family went with me and Bennett to the Austin Children's Museum. It was so cool! I have never really been to a place like this, and Logan and Rachel (long-time veterans of museums) said it was small, but good, so I guess it was worth it. Bennett had a blast because he could touch, climb on, jump off, chew on, anything he wanted and not get into trouble. I had fun because Bennett is my excuse to get to play with super cool toys.

It was a great day, and by the time we got home I think every body was ready for a nap.

Friday was a shopping day, and we started it off with a visit to my favorite store, Goodwill. I LOVE this store! While there, I got the cutest little toddler bed and lawn chair for Bennett. Bargain hunting is so much fun, especially when you find the bargains.

Our parade of shopping carts

The bed I found for Bennett is sitting in our garage in pieces, but this is a picture of what it looks like (minus a few nicks and scratches we will have to clean up later.) I am so excited about this!

The lawn chair. Bennett thinks he is so cool in this, even though it's purple.

At the very beginning of the week, my mom sent a package for the grandchildren of matching denim outfits, which was a pretty strong indication we needed to take pictures while we were all together. We decided to take it one step further and all match in denim and red shirts. Surprisingly, I had enough red shirts in the house to outfit my entire family, including a red maternity top for Ashland. I never realized how popular this color was at our house.

Me and my brothers.

Logan and Rachel

Logan and Rachel's adorable little family. Evelyn is two. Jack and Addie are eight months. I was the photographer for all of these pictures, and I have to say I did a pretty good job getting all of these little ones to look in my direction and somewhat smile all at the same time. I don't mean to brag, but when you're good, you're good.

Griffin, Ashland, and baby girl. These two are hard to get a decent picture of, because they are both so goofy! (Not goofy looking, just goofy in general. I felt the need to clarify here.)

I did manage a few good ones. :)

Unfortunately, Matt was at work when we took these, so he is not pictured here. It was kind of fun to have a little shoot with just me and Bennett though (although I look like a psychotic crazy woman. Bennett totally carries us in these).

Evelyn Kate

Bennett Wayne

Adalie Jane (I LOVE her sumo wrestler stance!)

Jackson Kelly

The Twiners

Haha! This picture cracks me up! We were trying to get them all to look in the same direction and smile (we had very unrealistic hopes for these pictures) so we used a Tickle-Me Elmo to try to accomplish this. This is their reaction to that.

The cousins, May 2010