Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Youth Conference

Youth Conference is something that our Church does once a year with all the youth ages 14-18 in the area. Chris and I used to go together back when we were in high school and this time we were able to go back as group leaders. It usually lasts about three days and is filled with fun activities, dances, food and spiritual messages. It was fun to get to know the youth and be the "cool" leaders there (most of the others were in there 40s or 50s).
race boats made from cardboard and duct tape
tomb of the unknown soldier
DC temple
Friday night we all got on our buses at midnight and prepared for the three hour drive home. Ten minutes later our bus broke down in the middle of highway traffic. After three different buses and a lot of tired teenagers, we finally made it home around 5:30 am. It was exhausting, but totally worth it!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Ay, I'm walkin' here

Remember when I talked about our week with the twins here? Well, because of that we got to stay in New York City at the Hyatt Regency hotel free for three nights. Brandon used his State Farm points to book us a trip. I don't know about you, but I think we got the better end of the deal. And not only that, they also bought us tickets to see Newsies on Broadway because we will be watching the boys again in August. Spoiled. I would watch those boys for free! Thanks to instagram and Fuzel I was able to document our trip.
"these streets will make you feel brand new"
We took a bus to New York City early Thursday morning and got there around 1:30 in the afternoon. There is nothing like stepping off of that bus into the busy city life. It was almost like stepping into a movie, only a lot bigger and louder. All of a sudden you are in the middle of New York, surrounded by endless tall buildings and crowds.

food, glorious food
I probably gained 13.7 pounds on this trip. We ate so much food. And there are food pictures (forgive me) to prove it. So many people gave us recommendations, we had to try everything we possibly could! Shake Shack burgers, fried chicken and skin-smashies, frozen hot chocolate, New York pizza, desserts up the ying yang... We ate it all. In the words of a stoned man in Union Square: "That's a whole lot of effin' chicken."
Our good friends Thomas and Kendall Hutchison live in Connecticut and were able to join us for some city fun Friday and Saturday. Sleepover at the hotel? Duh. We had so many fun adventures and loaded up on good stories and inside jokes that are roll-on-the-floor-hysterical until you try to explain them to someone else. We walked all over Manhattan, rode through Central Park, hit up the Subway stations, and browsed through every free building we could find. Naturally, we stopped at Nintendo World, it wouldn't have been a true trip with Chris and Thomas if we hadn't. (Thomas and Chris became best buds freshman year of college, mostly through basketball and video games. Chris: Thomas and I are the same person, except I am way cooler.) I'm so happy that the Hutchisons decided to join us on this trip, it just wouldn't have been the same without them. But we did miss our other third: Jason and Alex Sandvik. Looking forward to our reunion in the Fall!
"there's nothing you can't do"
There were so many places to go, things to do, sights to see. We shopped, saw Newsies on Broadway, visited memorials and museums, walked in the rain, saw the midnight showing of the Dark Knight Rises in Gotham City, and acted like annoying tourists pretending to be locals.

Monday, July 16, 2012

redneck reunion

There are a lot of pictures in this post. If you have no interest in bennion reunions i would stop now. (But there are some real cuties captured below if you decide to scroll on.)

Chris and I knew that there was going to be a family reunion all year, but it wasn't until two days before that we knew we were going. We had always wanted to go, we just couldn't afford to fly out there when we were already flying to Virginia and back for the summer. All of a sudden out of nowhere my parents decide they wanted us there and were willing to pay for our flights. Whaaa? Awesome. I hadn't been to an official t-shirt reunion in 8 years. I was stoked. My Dad's family is very large, so family reunions are more like ward activities (ward is a mormon term for congregation) the exception being that there is a limited gene pool. And if you know anything about Bennion family history...it is a very limited gene pool.
We flew into the airport just after my parents did. My brothers had no idea we were coming, so it was a pleasant surprise to see how excited they were to see us. We weren't in the city for long, we headed three hours south to the middle of nowhere. (Whitney, if you are reading this, we wish we could have stopped to see you in Kansas City!)
Kansas City
headed to the reunion
we rode in style
We were told that there was going to be a lake day. When we mentioned this to one of our local cousins he laughed and said, 'that's like being told you get to have an ice cream sundae and then being given a jawbreaker.' It turns out that we were really going to a creek to look for crawdads. It actually was a lot of fun. There was a little river right by it that Chris and I took a canoe in for a bit. (We also tipped over Owen and Joe's canoe -- sorry about that.)
'lake day'

ever wondered where you can find Lucky Charms with only
marshmallows? Stark City, Missouri
We had 'Redneck Olympics.' I don't have any pictures of the teenagers because Chris and I were playing along with them. But I was able to snap these treasures of the kiddos during their last activity (putting cheese puffs on their heads with shaving cream).
james, toshi, lily & gwenny, shin
renata and hunter attack
haydn and jeddie were having fun with the cheese puffs
ain't a redneck reunion w/o someone passed out on the
For one of the games the kids swung sling shots at pictures of the three bennion uncles that were at the reunion: howard, sam, and johnny. Below is a picture of their sons, proud of the holes that they made. (I wanted to get a photo of Shin in front of Sam's picture, but I couldn't find him!)
james and haydn
When Bennions get together you know that there will be a lot of kids. I don't know an exact count, but it had to be close to 50. (Can you imagine if every family was there??) Naturally, I didn't get shots of every baby, but I did get some of these three cuties. Aren't they luscious?

gavin, isla, and houston
porter (5) vs hunter (10) -- hunter couldn't get down
Lots and lots of games were played. Card games, soccer games, olympic games, life-size jenga...
Grandma and the aunties even played a little werewolf/mafia with the tweens (see bottom left picture)
we snuck owen and george away after the reunion
to go swimming at the city pool
One of the benefits of staying an extra day was all of the treats that Aunt Lucy made: fried green tomatoes, homemade peach pies, and homemade ice cream. We were in heaven.
aunt lucy's fried green tomatoes
uncle johnny taught the young ones how to shoot a gun
hunter was a natural
By the time we were headed back to the airport we were worn out.  Especially Haydn, who had been running around catching bugs and makin mud holes all day. He arrived as hyper as can be and left snoring like an old man.
haydn: arrival & departure
I'm really glad I got to see so much family and that Chris got to meet them. I'm sad that a lot of the older cousins couldn't make it, but it was great to catch up with the ones that did. It was nice to see my sweet Grandma Lenore and all of my Dad's sisters: Kathie, Annie, Jeannie, Mary, Eileen, Lillian, and Lucy. It had been awhile. It's always fun to see his goofy brothers: Sam and Johnny, but we sure missed Joe and Glynn! (I told you it was a big family.)

Until next time,
The (not so) Redneck Redferns


The great thing about living on the East Coast is that we are so close to so much history. We live half an hour away from Colonial Williamsburg and Jamestown, and just a few hours from Washington DC.
Last year we visited DC with my parents and a few friends. We did a segway tour and everything.
This time we didn't have other peoples shedules to adhere to or the pressure to go to as many places as physically possible. We just took our time and went to some of our favorite monuments and memorials.  We had a lot of time to just sit and enjoy the city around us.
white house
segways...the guy on the left biffed it right before this
We spent a lot of time on the grass next to the Washington Monument. The weather was perfect and the company was alright, too. ;)

chris finally smiles

sitting at Abe's feet

Martin Luther King Jr.
sunset at the Jefferson Memorial

We stayed late and just walked around under the street lights. The city was gorgeous--definitely worth the trip.

Sunday, July 8, 2012


Lately I have been thinking about how lucky I am to have so many sisters. Some people don't have any, but I grew up with three.
Me, Heidi, and Haley at the Zoo.  The only old pictures I have are before Heather's time.  There are plenty of pictures of the four of us back home--out of my reach. This will have to do. It's a shame, Heather was a darn cute baby.

Haley - 20
(far right with the guitar)
Haley is one of the most honest people I know. She has never been afraid to just be herself.  She knows who she is and she knows what she likes. She would never change any of that to please others or to "fit in." She also isn't afraid to tell you how she feels. I think she gets that from Grandma Jane ;).

Heidi - 19
(The one making the weird face)
What I love most about Heidi is her ability to have fun and enjoy life. She's kind of hilarious. And she always knows how to have a good time. She may seem quiet and shy at first, but really she is a total goofball.

Heather - 15.999
(the cutie in the white hoodie)
I don't think there are very many people who are sweeter than Heather. She is one of those people who will scratch your back or rub your feet and not expect you to do it in return. She is so kind and compassionate toward others, I am proud to call her my little sister.

Stay tuned for Sisters Part TWO

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

the sea

"The cure for anything is salt water - sweat, tears, or the sea."
-Isak Dinesen