Sunday, August 13, 2017

Mothers Day 2017

My darling kids
Mother's Day 2017

May is a busy month. The end of the school year is packed with programs, school projects, graduations, final field trips, etc. When my children were younger, I could not have imagined or anticipated how crazy the month of May would someday feel. In addition to the aforementioned hustle and bustle, we have two birthdays to celebrate. It is a lot. A few months have passed since May; which makes it easy to say that I look back at these "events" with fondness. They were, for the most part, positive and fun things. 


One positive of having birthdays in May is that they serve as a reminder that it was in this same month, only days apart, that I became a Mother. Eliza's birthday sometimes falls on Mother's Day which I love because she came first and introduced me to this new world and role.

Forrest's birthday is three days before Eliza's. I love to reflect on his arrival as it is the most fresh in my mind. If we were to compare the chaos in May to the chaos in December; I would likewise add that May is the season of celebrating the bond I share with my children and the joy they bring me. I wish I could think of a better way to articulate my feelings. It just feels appropriate that all of this feel good, grateful to be a Mother sentiment, coincides with Spring time. *Insert additional "re-birth/Mother Nature"comparisons here. ;)
Eliza's birthday was the same day as Forrest's, "Mother's Day tea party." She was taking the day-off from school, per her birthday wish, so after she and I went out for a pedicure, she came with me to the tea party.

When Forrest was asked by his teacher, "Please introduce your Mom. What is her name?" His honest, and frightened, response was, "I don't know!" He was the only one in his class who couldn't name his Mom. :) He did his best to participate but when it came time to sing, he was overcome by stage fright and ran over to where I was. I scooped him up and held him in my lap for most of his program. He did serve Eliza and me cookies and punch in a fancy cup and stood by his teacher as she read aloud his responses to the interview she gave him about his Mom. It is such a sweet tradition.




It goes without saying around here that I am a Mama's girl through and through. I am thankful to live minutes from my Mom and Dad. They are such a wonderful support to me and are willing to help me out when I am in a bind. They recently had my kids while Andrew and I were at youth conference together. Tonight at Sunday dinner Lottie asked me how soon until they could sleepover at their house again without us being there. They are crazy about all of their Grandparents. We are so blessed in that regard.


I am grateful to be a Mom. Motherhood brings me great joy. I love these kids so much and hope they forgive me one day for the endless amount of photos I make them pose for.




Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Eliza's Golden Birthday

 

Happy birthday to my beautiful golden girl! Eliza celebrated her golden birthday this year! Decorating our home in all things "gold" seems appropriate because Eliza loves glitz, glam, sparkle and fashion! However, most importantly, her heart is made of gold. 

Her love and empathy for others runs deep. She is sensitive to all people; even fictious characters in a movie or television show. Lately I have noticed that she has a major soft spot for the elderly. It is sweet to watch her interact with those she loves and worries about. 

Eliza is smart. If I had a quarter for every time I wrote that on here I would be rich! Coupled with that intelligence is a healthy side of humility; something her boasting Mother should take a swallow of herself. I can't help it though. It's her birthday post! And geez... it's belated this year so she deserves all the praise I can offer. At parent teacher conference this year, she and I sat with her teachers and listened to the two of them praise her performance in school. At one point they shared that she had the highest test score in her grade. Eliza barely cracked a smile! "Eliza!" I said. "It's just us in here! You can smile!" 

Eliza puts so much pressure on herself to be the best and it takes an emotional toll on her. This year I have tried to emphasize that I will always be proud of her if she has tried her best. This doesn't mean she has to be perfect; please sweet girl, don't put that pressure on yourself. But yes, pay attention, work hard, ask questions and do your best! A couple times she would come to the car after school in tears because of a less than perfect test score. I wonder if her teachers think that her parents are putting this pressure on her. We aren't. Helping her alleviate that pressure is something we are working on. 

I am proud of her for the times when she has struggled with a math concept, as an example, and then taking time to work with her teachers until she fully gets it. Earlier this year, she heard that another classmate was doing sixth grade math already so Eliza spent more time at the computer after school so she could finish fifth grade math and move onto sixth! And she did it. (read: she is a little competitive)

She likes to learn for the sake of learning. At the end of the school year she decided to memorize the capitals of all the countries in the world because that sounded like a fun challenge. And now, she knows most of them. It would make her happy if you asked to quiz her on some. 

She is my right hand gal. Eliza often asks to make pancakes or cookies. Baking is a new interest of hers. The part where you clean up and wash the dishes afterward; not so much! Yesterday morning she surprised me with pancakes topped with whipped cream and strawberries in bed. Included in her beautiful display were yellow daisies. How did I get this lucky?!

This summer, because of the heat, the kids have been retreating more to the basement. While the kids play, Eliza will turn on a show to watch/listen to while she sews. She worked on a fairy house and accessorized it by making darling furniture for it earlier this summer and most recently sewed a baby blanket. She is taking the summer off from her sewing lessons but still has spent several hours at her sewing machine.

She loves to paint my nails and often begs for the opportunity to update them with a new design. Often times I receive compliments on how they look and am asked where I have them done! Hearing this makes her so happy. 

Eliza is so many wonderful things. She is a wonderful sister, a pianist, a seamstress, a student, a reader and my personal favorite; she is a wonderful friend. I love you Eliza Grace. Thank you for filling my world with so much light and love. I don't know how I got so lucky eleven years ago. You are such a treasure to me. 

I LOVE YOU!!

As for a quick birthday recap, Eliza decided that we had so much fun shopping on her birthday last year that she asked to do it again this year. 

It was tricky because her birthday was also the day of Forrest's Mother's Day tea at preschool and Henry's third grade program. Not to mention, Henry came home from school with a nasty headache for part of the day. With these other commitments in the mix, we did our best to focus on our special girl. That morning, before we were to be at the Mother's Day tea, Eliza and I went and got pedicures together. 

During her Dad's lunch break that day, he took Eliza on a quick little fishing trip; just the two of them.


And then we shopped! 


(I had to bribe her to wear the sash and crown for the photo;
this was not her thing.)


Beautiful girl; inside and out.
I love you, Eliza.


One last thing: 
Eliza competed in this year's math, science, olympiad. 
It was a first for her and she LOVED it.
I almost didn't drive out to the competition but am so happy I did.
Eliza and her teammate Samantha came in FIRST place!
(The even beat the sixth graders!)

She was BEAMING. 
I can't remember a time where I saw her that happy. 
It was an amazing moment. 





Forrest turns four!

To my precious baby boy; happy fourth birthday! 
Because your birthday festivities were over two months ago, I fear that a few details from that day may have escaped my memory. I suppose this means that I will be focusing more on my feelings of love and gratitude for the four years we've shared together. Darn. I sure hate talking about my feelings. Ha!! Those feelings remain vibrant and clear. Lucky you, Forrest! Today's post will likely be smothered in an extra layer of cheese; courtesy of your sentimentally obsessed, obnoxious,  mother. 
I love you, dear Forrest. Sitting here at the computer, I keep staring at this photo of you. I am trying to find the word(s) to describe who are and what you mean to me but I keep getting distracted by this cute smirk! 
You are my baby! It delights you when you make us laugh. Being the center of attention suits you well at home. However, in public you are fairly shy. In a non-cute way, I confess that you are spoiled. I don't always hold you accountable the way that I should; a weakness in my Mothering. Your older siblings are more than generous in letting you have your way. I see the error in this behavior and, despite popular opinion, am trying to squash it. 

I justify this with many excuses. "But he is littler than you are!" I will say. Or, "He is just so tired today, you guys." Another internal fall back is a conversation I had with your preschool teacher who praised your behavior at school by saying what a good listener and kind friend you are. Clearly, and I am being sarcastic, this means that the way that we indulge your whims hasn't interfered too much... Moms often console each other by saying, "well, you have to choose your battles!" meaning that sometimes we have to let go of a lesson or postpone the act of discipline due to circumstance outside of our control; but if we are being honest here... you win most of our "battles." 
The battle that I am losing lately is having time away from the house alone. I think it's important for a Mom to have alone time occasionally. Some Mom's need more time out of the house than others, and I think that's totally fine. As Eliza's grown older and started to babysit, I have found myself having, what feels like, ample time to run to the store alone or have one on one time with another sibling. Lately however, you have taken a step back in allowing me this brief freedom. You want to run every errand, attend each music lesson, come to all my church meetings... Before, I could sneak away after we had, at least, ten hugs and kisses "goodbye" but now, you scream and cry and beg to come. 
(My Super Sidekick!)
(During a PTA meeting)

I realize you won't always need/want me so passionately and that makes me sad. So I easily surrendered to your need for me and have mostly relished it. However, yesterday, I was really craving that time alone. And while I could have just taken it and left you at home crying; i didn't want to do that to you or Eliza. Another battle lost; but I find that I feel very lucky to have you at my side in the store. You have my heart. 

I love the way you will take my hand or arm and wrap it around your body just where you want it. If I am not squeezing you tightly enough, you let me know. Without saying words, you physically move me to where you need and want me to be. Without being gross, your Dad operates this way too. If he needs a hug, he won't ask, he just takes it. My heart nearly bursts the way you do this. You could be angry with me about something, and while you are verbalizing those feelings, you are wrapping my arms around you after you have crawled up into my lap. 

You are an active little boy. Being outside in the sandbox with Henry or jumping on the tramp with Lottie are some of your favorite things. This summer you started swimming lessons and have enjoyed it very much. You are very brave in the water and the sooner you learn to swim, the sooner my anxiety about this will disappear. We have gone to the lake several times this year and I think you are equally happy to be playing in the sand on the beach as you are to be riding in the boat. You love to "drive" the boat and look for pirates and Octonauts (your favorite show). When we talk about having family time you will ask, "Can all of the Flegals be there?" Occasionally, we do outings separately; such as Fathers and Sons. However, you have made it clear that you are happiest when we do these things all together. 

Your Dad is obsessed with you. And I think the feeling is mutual. Last Saturday I was so happy as I watched you trail after him all morning. Whenever the two of you would pass through the room, I would see that you were still prattling on and on about who knows what, while your Dad patiently listened. He does a great job to make you feel needed and wanted. You are not an intrusion. He adores you and I think you are the luckiest little boy because of that.  

Hearing you talk about sweetly about Jesus warms my heart. I hope that your desire to be close to Him and to serve Him continues to grow. He LOVES you and needs you to use your talents to help him. You like to sing and your favorite song right now is "Nephi's Courage." The other day Eliza and I heard you singing. We both paused to stare at each other when we heard a beautiful vibrato in your voice. "Did you hear that?" we simultaneously asked each other. I hope you will be brave to develop your musical talent that I know is there. 

I love you so much Forrest. You make my heart sing. Thank you for bringing so much laughter and joy into our home. 
Because of your great love for Mickey Mouse, I used that as my inspiration for your {simple} birthday decor. After having breakfast, you opened your presents. 
One of your favorite gifts was your new fishing pole. That afternoon, your Daddy took you on a special fishing trip. You still talk about it as you boys were most successful that day. 

The evening of your birthday, we had the Martins and Barrett's come over for cake and ice cream. You were thrilled that your friends came to help us celebrate you!
Here are a few snaps from the end of preschool this year.
There were only three girls in his class last year.
And he was friends with ALL of them. 
#ladiesman

For this photo collage, I am going to copy what I wrote on instagram
for the sake of sparing myself some mental energy. 
(top row photos) Throwback to 2011 when  Henry was three and swallowed a dime. He was taken to Primary Children's for an x-ray to make sure it was passing through his system safely.
(bottom row photos) Last Tuesday morning (last week of April 2017), after he had been acting
super weird the night before, Forrest comes to my room first thing and says,
"I need to go to the doctors. I swallowed a coin." Long story short, (too late), it was determined
that Forrest had NOT swallowed a coin. It had never occurred to me that he might have
been telling a tale. "So did you swallow a coin Forrest?" I asked one last time. "Yes." he replied seriously.
"But then I spit it out."


Forrest no longer sleeps with a binki.
He was four years old when his Dad finally took it from him.
(I couldn't take it away... another admitted weakness).
For any new parents out there,
for what it's worth,
I have zero regrets about allowing my kids to have a binki
beyond the age of three.
Their teeth are growing in surprisingly straight.
They are smart kids, not delayed, and it saved us on countless road trips,
allowed me to stay in sacrament meeting at church, etc...
I will advocate binki usage until I am old and gray. 
Henry is so sweet with you.
Nana Marie gave you this awesome wheelbarrow for your birthday!
And because of where your birthday and Eliza's fall,
your two have many shared cakes to look forward too!!


Monday, June 19, 2017

Easter Time 2017

Presenting my {current} favorite photo of my children.
Sweet little bunnies.

Forrest graduated from the "kid table" and has become
a  full fledged easter egg coloring participant this year!
It's fun to find an activity that all four are equally jazzed about!
The Saturday before Easter, the Mays cousins came over for our annual Easter Egg hunt. 
And when I say "annual Easter Egg hunt," I need to clarify a little. 
For me, this activity involves me tidying up my house;
while my mom fills all the eggs and brings all the treats 
(read: she does all the work).
I should not receive credit for this happy memory. 
Thank you, Mom!

Easter Sunday we went to Nanna Teresa and Bubba's house.
It was a wonderful weekend filled with family...
...and really cute newborn babies!

Wedged between these beautiful temple photos,
I want to take a quick minute to express gratitude for my Savior, Jesus Christ.
I believe that as I have tried to follow Him, I have been led to my life's greatest blessings.
My family, imperfect as we are, is the center of my happiness.
Because of their great love for us,
Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ desire for us to be together forever.
By trying to keep His commandments and by making sacred covenants,
 we walk a path back to our Heavenly home.

I make a lot of mistakes.
A lot.
In fact, while watching Moana recently, one of my dear children
likened me to the upset lava monster who had her heart stolen.
She was a hot, mean, grumpy mess!
That was humbling to hear!
So clearly, I have some refining and cooling off to do.

Through Heavenly Father's plan, I can start over.
Each week, I can apologize when I fall short and promise to do better.
His grace lends me that new beginning and forgiveness.
When the path grows dark and lonely,
I can ask Him to walk beside me.
He offered to carry the heavy load for me.
But I have to ask for His help and have faith in His plan while waiting for that light to return.

I am not trying to be preachy or "too Mormon."
My life isn't as idyllic as my writing may portray.
It's hard.
Some of our struggles are visible for others to see
but most are born privately.

When I sit down to write,
I hope to entertain. Yes. I love making people laugh and smile.
But my primary motive, at least today,
is what I would want my kids to know when I am gone.

Please know that I love our Savior.
I don't know what difficult paths we will be asked to walk.
But, I know He will always walk with us if we ask.
And when that sad day of separation comes;
hopefully many, many years from now...
It is because of Easter and His marvelous resurrection
that I will get to hold you again
and smother your faces in kisses.

That is the miracle of Easter!


Shifting gears entirely,
Here's a sampling a photos from April 2017.

new hair for Mom

Stumbling upon scenes like this make my heart explode.

These two had fun competing in their respective 
pinewood derby races.
Neither of them won, but they had a lot of fun.

Eliza came to Lottie's dance studio with me
and entertained us by pulling different faces.



Videos!