Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Welcome back to Landshut, Mom & Dad

My parents have been in Italy for the past week and a half visiting Florence, Milan, Rome, Venice and smaller areas where my father served his mission 32 years ago. I don't want to speak on his behalf, but I imagine that it was an emotional experience to return to those cities with my Mother. Based on their pictures and stories, they had a wonderful time.

We decided to spend the day in Landshut to give them a small break from their non-stop travel. Eliza and I took them to Landshut's castle. We walked the beautiful gardens, enjoyed the castle and then made our way into the city where we stopped for lunch.
(Eliza was thrilled when she discovered the courtyard at the castle was full of rocks - JUST FOR HER)

This afternoon, Andrew, Eliza and my Dad biked along the river to the grocery store while my Mom and I had some girl time in the city. We enjoyed a gelato (of course) and did some shopping.
Nancy met with the Elders tonight at our home. It is my hope that we will be able to see each other once more before we leave for the states. She is a dear friend and I am thankful that I had the chance to meet her. Tomorrow we will drive to Koenigsee and to Salzburg (two of our favorite places) for the day. The pictures to come will be beautiful.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Do you have tickets... to see the GUN SHOW?

Would you like to know what BMW has given Andrew as a bonus for working on an assembly line all summer? A HOT pair of blue BMW overalls and some serious muscle.I hardly recognize him with that particular expression on his face... but then again it's easy to overlook it all together when his ARM MUSCLE takes up 90% of the picture. Andrew, I think you're hot. This weekend we had an impromptu bbq with the neighbors. Andrew grilled up American style hamburgers and I made zucchini casserole. This was our third bbq with our Ermlandweg friends and it was fun to compare how much Eliza has grown closer with the neighborhood kids since we first arrived. Please note that in this photo with Lukas, her shirt does not fit down past her tummy. Personally, I am huge fan of her Winnie the Pooh tummy. I think it is very cute. Lukas likes it too.This is her friend, Mara. This little girl is the sweet heart of Ermlandweg. If I am not mistaken, she turned two years old - yesterday! Happy Birthday, Mara!
Bobby cars... oh how Eliza loves the Bobby car.
Saturday night, Andrew and I went to dinner at an Italian cafe. We are doing our research to find the best cafe in Landshut (in case anyone ever asks for a recommendation!). After dinner, we watched a movie with Michael and Johanna.
Sunday, we went to Church. After a quick nap in the afternoon, we had dinner with a family from our branch. We had a simple but memorable weekend. This week will be very exciting. My parents return from Italy this evening. We have plans to site see this weekend, so if you visit this blog for that reason, I won't let you down.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Weekly Hangover

I've never experienced a hangover; but based on how I feel on the mornings after feeding the missionaries, I think that I can empathizes with those who have. Last night the Elders came over for dinner. I sincerely look forward to their weekly dinner appointments and feel that my cooking skills have grown leaps and bounds this summer. It was "chicken curry" night at the Flegal's which meant I had to use a zillion bowls/dishes to accommodate the various "add ins" (the idea behind chicken curry is similar to Hawaiian haystacks).

After the time spent cooking, I wanted nothing to do with the kitchen. Andrew and I went to bed without washing a single dish. When I woke up this morning, I immediately remembered the ugly mess that was patiently waiting for me downstairs. I was filled with remorse and frustration;which leads me to my analogy. The online dictionary defines hangover as
  1. The disagreeable physical aftereffects of drunkenness, such as a headache or stomach disorder, usually felt several hours after cessation of drinking.

  2. —Synonyms 1. queasiness, sickishness, qualm, nausea.

The site of my kitchen brought on an instant head ache. The lingering smell of "all things needing to have been refrigerated," was an open invite to nausea of all forms. Perhaps you think this a poor analogy? Well then, Eliza's face does a great job to adequately describe what I feel when I wake up to a room full of bacteria infested dishes. Eliza immediately volunteered to help by pulling everything out of the cupboards as quickly as possible. I sure love that spirit of service she carries with her. With my mini-ipod in hand, I began the hour and a half process. Thanks to the High School Musical soundtrack, the time passed by quickly.

I finished just as Eliza was waking up from her nap. Now it's time for us to play. I love you baby."I love you too, Mama."

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Andrew's field trip - That I can no longer tell you about

Eliza seems to be a car enthusiast like her father. Due to our current station in life, here she sits in the only vehicle that we can afford. Andrew had a really cool BMW related experience yesterday. Wihout his permission, I shared an entry from his journal detailing the glorious experience on my blog. He returned home from work 5 minutes ago and told me that everything I had blogged about was supposed to be confidential. So... here I am with a really cute picture of Eliza and nothing else to blog about. Thanks for nothing, Andrew! :)

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Daily Surprises

Eliza surprises me every day. Some surprises are heart warming. They are the baby milestones that make you want to "call your mom right away to tell her about it." Recently, Eliza surprised us when she began to fold her arms during meal time/family prayer. However, the majority of Eliza's "surprises" involve her ability to create an instant mess, produce a diaper that can render anyone within a few feet of her unconscious or my favorite, her unexpected 4:00 in the morning chat fests, after weeks of sleeping through the night. Bath time is always a time of excitement and experimentation for Eliza. This weekend as I read, "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows" aloud to Andrew and Eliza in the bathroom, Eliza pulled a first and pooped in the bath tub. "Mama, I'd like to interject on my behalf. The plot had taken a rather frightening turn and I couldn't help but poop. I was scared the Voldemort was about to..."
"But then again... It was TOTALLY funny the way you and Daddy stared at disbelief at what I had done...tee, hee, hee, hee!" Moving on. This morning's "surprise" was random. Frustrated that her sippy cup is spill proof, she decides to fill up her mouth with apple juice
Pull out her shirt and let her juice dribble out of her mouth and down her chest. This process was repeated 5 or 6 times.

This child is my life. I love her dearly and look forward to more surprises.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Without Giving Anything Away

I would simply like to say that the final novel in the Harry Potter series was:
Exhilarating
Surprising
Brilliant

As I begin to read it for a second time, I will read at a slower pace and with a new perspective. If I could say one thing to J.K. Rowling it would be this,

"Thank you. The series is a masterpiece that I will always treasure."
A little over the top? I think not. Please share your thoughts on the book when you finish it.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Substitute Author

Due to the release of the final Harry Potter book early this morning Ali will not be blogging today. Allow me, Andrew, to fill you in on the day. Unfortunately the English release of "The Deathly Hollows" did not merit a special midnight event here in german speaking Landshut. The bookstore opened at 8:00. In order to avoid any unruly crowds we showed up at 9:30. The mobs of English speaking Harry Potter fans must have all made it back home to dive into the book because when we arrived we were the only ones there.

This picture is proof of the lack of Harry Potter fans. Considering the time differene between Germany and most of you loyal readers in Utah we purchased it at a descent hour and did not wait at all. This could be one of the greatest thing that has ever happened to Ali. As previoulsy arranged I would be the full-time father and let her read in peace. Taking only a short break to run with me to the grocery store, she has been reading all day.

The Auras family was nice enough to take me and Eliza to a swimming pond. Eliza loved it. I loved being with her all day. Here is a Picture of her new "Look at how many teeth I have" smile.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Scott Daniel Mays

Introducing my new nephew, Scott Daniel Mays
His parents welcomed him yesterday morning at 7:41 am. He weighed in at 9 lbs 2 oz and was 20 inches in length.

My sister in law Jen (the Mama) was a real champ. After 4 minutes of pushing he arrived!!

Here are Scotty's big sisters, Katelyn
and Brynn
Didn't I tell you they produce beautiful children?
*And to all of my friends and family who love Harry Potter - enjoy the book, savor the remaining moments before the series concludes!! And so you know, the real reason why we moved to Germany is to be in a time zone that receives the 7th book first... Hee hee hee. That seems fair considering I haven't seen the 5th movie. I can't wait!!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Child birth and Liquor

Buckle your seat belts ladies and gentlemen, this may be one of the most exciting posts I've ever written for two reasons:

1. My sister in law Jen is having her third child today!!
2. And, yesterday afternoon, my mother and I had our first taste of something alcoholic (NOT ON PURPOSE) while we were out shopping. More on that later...

I know that Jen doesn't need any coaching or advice from me, but while we're on the subject of childbirth, I would offer these tips to any expectant mother.

1. PUSH HARD... push really hard (obviously this doesn't apply for c-section deliveries).
2. And remember that it is SO okay to "SAY YES TO DRUGS" (meaning the epidural - ah... the heavenly, wonderful, better than ice cream, relief that made child birth a complete joy - I am being totally serious.)

Mark & Jen are expecting a baby boy. This is the first grandson for my parents, pictured here: (They have six grand daughters). Not to mention, Mark & Jen produce REALLY beautiful babies. Also, baby boy Mays will be born on my little brother Matthew's birthday. Which reminds me: Happy Birthday Elder Mays (too bad he can't read blogs).
As for my first sinful taste of liquor or some other unidentified alcoholic creation...
Yesterday, my Mom and I went shopping while Andrew and my dad went on a bike ride. We went into a bakery/chocolate shop and each picked out a piece of chocolate to sample on our way back to the bus stop.
I recognized the word raspberry and completely disregarded the second word because I had no idea what it meant (uh...the story of my entire summer here in Germany). The chocolate was shaped like a cherry cordial, if you know what that is.
I was the first to bite into my piece. I was filled with sudden alarm for two reasons.
1. It was filled with liquid that was now dripping down my chin.
2. My mouth burned. "This is totally DISGUSTING!" I exclaimed to my Mother. Isn't there a law somewhere that ALL chocolate - especially foreign chocolate is supposed to be delicious?

My mom's curiosity was peaked. Not knowing what it was, I encouraged her to put the entire thing into her mouth. She decided against that and took a bite into her piece. Her large eyes grew even bigger as she said, "Is this liquor?".... All of the descriptions of alcohol I had read about matched the disturbing sensation that was occurring in my mouth. "Hmm... can I have some of that?" Eliza asks. That's an easy one, NO WAY!

We will be returning to the chocolate store soon to confirm our suspicions with Andrew. Anyway, we laughed the whole way home after throwing the rest of our chocolate in the trash.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

This post is not for the faint of heart (or for those who have vision problems)

Thirty eight hours ago, the dramatic saga of my parent's adventure to Germany began. This past weekend, they were in Connecticut celebrating the wedding of my cousin, Elizabeth. They woke up Monday morning (Eastern Standard time) to discover that my father's name was printed twice on their flight itinerary.

To correct the error, they called Orbitz who told them 3-5 times that there was "nothing to be done"... which led them with two options: miss out on this once in a life time opportunity or fork up $3,000 dollars to buy my mother a new ticket. Are we barfing yet???

After hours of stomach twisting stress, they were connected to a DECENT human being who said that they'd make a "one time exception" (sorry to the rest of the world who make this mistake, they used the Orbitz one time exception on my parents!) and allow them to get my mother's ticket re-printed in her name. Good news, right?

Well - that next obstacle (or hellish hurdle) was the fact that they had to go to LA GUARDIA (in NYC) to have her ticket re-printed and then take a 45 minute (which ended up being 1.5 hours) shuttle bus to JFK airport. They hop on their plane to "begin" (cruelty) their trip!
Wait... their trauma does not end here. They make their flight but when they arrive in London, they miss their connecting flight to due to 30 minutes of circling the airport and then having to stand in another 45 minute security line.

Meanwhile, back in Landshut, Andrew and I have the house clean, Eliza all dolled up (fresh from her nap), her bag packed - our outfits EVEN MATCHED (mine and Eliza's of course). We were 15 minutes behind schedule (intentionally) as Andrew wandered over to Johanna's to ask for the keys to her car for us to pick up my parents.

Side note: Andrew and I do NOT HAVE A PHONE

So, as Andrew approaches her house, her phone rings. Andrew hands it to her and "Lo!" it was my parents, in London, they were stuck waiting for their next flight... UGH! We almost missed that call.

I can't complain about how it changed my day considering their ugly nightmare they were living. I was just SO EXCITED and the prospect of waiting an additional 3 hours to see my parents was like telling a six year old child that Christmas had been postponed for a week. Not to mention, Eliza went swimming in the sand box (in her coordinating outfit) and then dumped a bucket of water on herself.... Alas,

The pick up portion went smooth. They are here (with their luggage) and are STILL AWAKE (going on 39 or 40 hours). They slept maybe 2.5 hours since they left Connecticut on Monday morning. I hope they wake up tomorrow and aren't found dead. That would spoil all my plans, now wouldn't it.
Well, here are the pictures of our reunion. It was magical.
Eliza enjoyed passing airport time at Munich's Kiddy Land. It was located a few steps away from their arrival gate.
This outfit is cute, but the moment would have had that extra pzazz if she was wearing red. "Exactly, what moment?" you ask... This one! Eliza walks to her nana and papa for the first time to say "Guten tag - you look SO TIRED""MY MOMMY IS HERE!"Cherish the moment... brought to you by Hallmark. After all of the stress and hassle of traveling, my dad just needed something to help him unwind. We enjoyed a little BBQ with the neighbors and now, it's 9:40 pm and my dad is outside yakking. Time to put these kiddles to bed. Wish me luck.

Monday, July 16, 2007

The Parental Units - Reflecting on My Family

In a few short hours, my mom and dad will be on that nauseating, "shoot my foot off, I am so bored" flight over to see our family (*insert applause, cheers, and whoop whoops - here)!!

I am proud to admit that I am a "mama's girl" through and through. I've mentioned before that my mom is a gifted artist. In addition to her Martha Stewart qualities (minus the whole lying under oath and going to jail thing), she is an extraordinarily thoughtful, loving and beautiful person. Behind her gentle, quiet manner lies a quick wit and strong sense of humor. Like her mother, she is a true lady.

I was on my way to becoming a lady once, but then I married my husband. Let's just say that he brings out my not-so-lady-like side (you know, the one who occasionally out-burps her husband to impress him.)

Without giving it to much thought, I would say that I am more like my dad in terms of my personality and abilities. I have his memory - I don't know all the he does, but I have the uncanny ability to remember random information. My dad is a great communicator and teacher. Like him, I have no problem speaking in front of people - unless my two older brothers are in the room.

I admire my brothers. I always have. I look up to them and have always wanted to be "cool" and "funny" like they are. And we all know that when someone tries for those things specifically, they end up making a total fool of themselves. At the age of 23, I am still caught in this cycle of trying to impress them.

I also have a sister. She is eight years older than I am, has her degree in elementary education, is married to a successful CPA, has two beautiful girls, has great taste in clothes, doesn't lose her jewelry like I do, lives in a HOUSE equipped with a dishwasher AND laundry machines (*Oh the pangs of jealousy!) and is 15 pounds skinnier than I am. But!! People often mistake me for her which is a huge compliment (she is a beauty) or they ask if we are twins.

If my siblings gave me permission, I'd totally be posting their pictures to serve as a visual aid.

And finally, there is my baby brother. You know, the one that makes me automatically begin to tear up if I begin to contemplate whether or not I should blog about him. He's the miracle child that's now serving a full time mission. I gained portions of my testimony at a young age simply by observing him and even now, without trying he motivates me to quit slacking off and to live better.

All in all, I have a great family. I wish that they were all on their way over to see us. However, because of child birth appointments (my sister in law, Jen is having her third baby this Thursday - *insert more applause, cheers and whoop whoops), siblings who have a phobia of flying and Primary President responsibilities, they won't be able to make the trip!

I am almost prepared for my parent's arrival. All I have left to do is pluck my eye brows. Let's hope I do a better job then when I plucked them before my wedding day. Yikes.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

"So Many Things to Try" By Eliza G. Flegal

Hello friends & family! It's me again, Eliza Grace Flegal, with a post full of new things to tell you about. It's my job to remind you how exciting life can be as 14 month old. I am a huge fan of trampolines. It's a good thing I mastered the art of walking this past month because my balance was tried and tested as I bounced up and down with my friend Hannah Dengg. Our giggles harmonized beautifully. On a much more serious note, I took up coloring this week. In between throwing the crayons on the floor and sticking them in my mouth, the art work I create is somewhat inspiring... if I may say so myself. The most delicious hobby I've acquired is eating ice cream. I know, report my parents, they allow me to eat sugar. However, I dare you to try and not give into my irresistible pleading. At this stage of my life, I consider myself to be a professional beggar and manipulator. Case in point, observe the joy that only ice cream can bring. After all, I am my mother's daughter.Friends, please don't fret. I easily burn off every sinful calorie with my intense sand box play, daily stair climbing regimen and walking - I walk a lot... with my hands high up in the air. Oh... and let's not forget, I bike everyday. Looking cute while wearing a blue helmet take a lot of effort. I don't think anyone pulls it off as well as I do. But I think my favorite activity is swimming. First of all, I test the waters. This picture may be out of focus, but the smile on my face is full evidence of the joy that I find when swimming.
"More dada! Please throw me in the air one more time" My sign language ability has sky rocketed to a grand total of FOUR words: (more, drink, please, thank you).

Sign language isn't necessary for moments like this. "DON'T TAKE ME OUT OF THE WATER. I AM NOT DONE YET!!!"
They don't always let me have my way... but when they do, I really love them for it.