Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Making memories with Mia

This photo of Mia engaged in a squirt gun battle with the boys illustrates why we loved having her here. I often found her sitting at the counter with Eliza picking out nail polish, playing Candyland with Lottie or lifting Forrest up onto her shoulders. She truly bonded with the kids and made it a point to play with them. They adore her; Forrest most of all.

I confess that the timing of her arrival left my mindset in an unusual place. For our family, by mid August, summer should have been winding down. Normally, my focus would have entirely been on our back to school rituals. However, instead of solely gearing up for school, we kept the party going! Mia was here; all the way from Germany! Up until this trip, she had never been on an airplane! And as much as we had going on, I am so glad we played with her as much as we did.

Something she was really looking forward to was to shop! We took her to Station Park one evening and were able to meet up with my sister and her girls. Mia found cute things at Old Navy and American Eagle. After that, we introduced her to Fizz. The weather so lovely; the flowers so fragrant. We sat at a table and visited with Ami and Callie while the younger girls buzzed about. The fountain lights dazzled as the music played. I really enjoyed myself.
We were able to take Mia boating three times while she was here. Our first trip was to Pineview Reservoir. Picking up pizza from Little Ceasars on our way up, we enjoyed dinner on the boat before busting out the tube. This was also a notable trip because I learned to drive the boat that night. Andrew was so happy that he could tube alongside the kids. Captain Mom did pretty well, if I do say so myself.

I really hate when I have something awful to write about. Perhaps "awful" isn't the most appropriate word. Maybe I should say that I have a miracle/tender mercy experience that I need to share. However you view it, I was unfortunately reminded, again, how quickly accidents can happen and am left feeling humbled and thankful that the outcome wasn't worse.

August 17 is our wedding anniversary. This year marked 12 years of marriage! We haven't officially celebrated so I am deciding to save my thoughts on this benchmark for another day. But, yes, we love each other and are committed to the success of our family. Anyway... the day of our anniversary, we went to Salt Lake for a Flegal family reunion. It was a well attended event at Bubba and Nanna Teresa's neighborhood swimming pool. I was kicking myself on the drive down as I realized I had left Forrest's life jacket at home. He has been so brave this summer. Wearing his life jacket, Forrest has tackled diving boards and water slides. My other kids weren't that fearless at his age.

Andrew was heading to the shallow end of the pool with Forrest. He was going to be in the pool to supervise him, Lottie and other small cousins. Lottie was already in the pool. Mia and I were visiting right next to where they were swimming. I stopped watching Forrest because Andrew was on his way with him to the steps. Even so, I was right there where they were. At some point, Forrest tossed a toy into the pool. Assuming he had his life jacket on, he jumped into the pool to retrieve it. Neither Mia or myself noticed him do this. At that same time, someone had asked Andrew to take their towel and put it on a table near where he was standing; so his back was turned to Forrest. He then began visiting with this person. Suddenly we hear Lottie screaming,

"Forrest! Help Forrest! Oh no! No!" Hearing Lottie, Andrew and I both look at the pool to see Forrest struggling to stay above the water. It was horribly frightening. In a flash, Andrew was in the pool, holding him safely in his arms. Like I said, we were all just a few feet away but none of us heard him jump or heard him struggling. They say all the time that drowning is a silent event. I know this to be true. Forrest wasn't able to make any noise. Thankfully Lottie saw his struggle and hollered for him. I tearfully expressed my gratitude to her for saving her brother many times that night; including when we said our family prayer. I prayed and prayed that night to thank Heavenly Father for helping her to notice him. Thinking about that close call, I feel sick to my stomach. We have had too many of these accidents lately and I feel like perhaps I am not doing enough as a Mom to keep my kids safe. I expressed those thoughts in a previously written post. I hope I learn from these moments and implement more safety measures. I feel like I've been told most of my Mothering career that I need to relax more or to be more easy going. I don't want to be uptight but I do want to be more mindful and cautious. Accidents happen so suddenly. I hate that I've been a witness to that but remain very thankful that they haven't ended tragically.
The older kids were shaken up about what happened to Forrest at the pool. I was worried about "secondary/dry drowning" (google it if you aren't familiar with the signs and symptoms) so I kept peeking on Forrest that night as he slept. It melted my heart that I found Henry in bed with him that night. He went to bed cuddling with him. 
As we drove home that night, Henry said to everyone,

"Lottie is my favorite sibling right now." Having caught my attention, I asked him why. "Because she saved Forrest's life tonight."

Monday, September 12, 2016

Discovering Yellowstone

A few days after Mia's arrival, we went camping at Henry's Lake near Yellowstone. This was the first time our family of six has slept in a tent. I have shot down camping requests in the past because of the logistics (read: nightmare) of sleeping in a tent with a baby. Forrest is a big boy now, so he tells me (SOB!), so we went for it. Despite the cold temperatures, we stayed warm! Our trip was a success. Yellowstone is gorgeous, Mia experienced something completely new and it broke the ice between us all.
 Forrest stole her heart with ease. He often picked her flowers during her stay.

Mia bonded with our kids and at night, after Andrew and I put the kids to bed, the three of us would sit around the campfire and talk and laugh (mostly we laughed). It was then that I realized that we were going to have a lot of fun with Mia. My first impression was that she was quiet and timid. But as we laughed around the campfire, those walls came down. We saw her humor and wit. I felt confident from then on that we were going to have the best time together.

Feeling especially tired one night, I felt inspired to speak German. 
Obviously {not} blessed with the gift of tongues, hilarity ensued.

The first thing we did on our first full day was visit Johnny Sack's cabin in Cascade Springs. Mr. Sack was from Germany, near Bavaria, like Mia. His cabin reflects his German heritage. As neat as the cabin was, the scenery was what really captured our attention.

We made it to the park soon after and headed toward Old Faithful; making stops along the way when we saw wildlife. It was lunchtime when we arrived at our destination. After making sandwiches, we found a bench and waited (and waited) for Old Faithful to erupt. One of the best parts about that wait was watching Eliza and Henry engage a darling Mother/Daughter duo from China in conversation. Later that day, we bumped into them again and they asked if they could get their picture taken with our kids. It was a humours moment as I mistakenly counted to three in German instead of Chinese.

 After visiting Old Faithful, we went and grabbed ice cream/ root beer floats.Forrest ended up with more on his head than in his mouth. We overhead a funny conversation. As a reminder to those of who were there, I will simply say: "E-L-L-I-O-T!!!"

 We went to the Grand Prismatic hot spring area next. After that, we headed back toward West Yellowstone.
That evening we stopped to have dinner at a delicious pizza place. And then, the kids, Mia and I went to the playmill theatre and watched Mary Poppins. We loved it. Andrew went fishing. And I think he loved that too.

Here are a few camp life photos:

The sunset as we left the Playmill theatre
My cozy babies. 
This is one of my favorite pictures from the entire trip.
Waking up to them laughing together was my favorite.
(before it sounds to perfect, they were laughing at each other as the took turns farting.) 

Day two highlights include the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone and Mammoth Hot Springs. It is truly and incredible place. I am looking forward to more camping trips with my family. It's nice to have that experience under our belt.

Wilkomen Mia!

The Auras family has made an appearance on our blog many, many times. They were our neighbors back in 2007 when our blog was born in Landshut, Germany. At that time, Eliza was one year old. I'd come home from our four months there expecting Henry. It was easily one of the happiest and most exciting summers of my life. In 2007, we met 10 year old Mia. I liked her right away. She would go out of her way to spend time with me specifically when we were off on an adventure. She was gentle, happy but could definitely keep up with her five brothers. Remembering her sweet temperament, it was an automatic "Yes!" from Andrew and me when her Dad asked us about the possibility of her staying with us this summer. As we prepared for her visit, my excitement mounted. Our kids had likewise been anticipating her arrival. On August 8th, the children and I met her at the airport!

(Prior to coming to Utah, Mia had never been on an airplane before)

I didn't know how tired she would feel, so we tried our best not to overwhelm her that first day. Sitting here now, writing this post, Mia goes back home in three days. My heart breaks whenever I think about it. We have loved having her with us and I feel confident that she has had a wonderful time in the states. Wish me luck as I try and capture a few details from her visit.

She gifted us with these treats!
Toffifee is my favorite!

Still getting to know our kids,
we took her to Beus Pond the following day. 
Remembering the gorgeous Isar river next to her home,
I am sure it wasn't that impressive. :) 

We made her Lagoon official right away.
She had a fun time that night, so she says, but was still 
suffering from jet lag. 
We bumped into our cute cousins that night!
Eliza and Mia Chamberlain had the same shirt on. 

Really wanting to dazzle her, 
we took her to our local Costco. 
And sure enough, 
Costco delivered that "Wow" factor. 

Misc. photos of Eliza looking cool and mature. 

Two days after she arrived,
We had a ward carnival. 
It was a great night.
Especially for those cute cowboys.