Sunday, August 31, 2008

"Boating - Southern Style" - By, Eliza G. Flegal

Hi all,

Eliza Grace, here! I'm ready to report on our family's trip to the lake this weekend.

I spared Mom and Dad the "Are we there yet?" routine on our drive down. The excitement of getting out of the house knocked me right out! I slept for the entire hour and ten minutes it took us to get there. Well, what do you think? Not too shabby, right?

The grown-ups set up "camp" for the day as I delved into a patch of rocks, destined to be launched into the water. My new friend, Talon, was eager to assist me. The scenery was nothing short of spectacular... at least that's what my Mother, you know...thae lady who never stops talking (or typing), said. Speakinig of Talon, or "Tally",( as I lovingly refer to him..) we had fun wading in the water, throwing various objects in the water, tubing in the water and sampling the water; as in... I drank some of it. Mama and Daddy weren't too pleased. I'm not sure why. They were worried about me having a weeks worth of the runs or something like that?Here I am, willing myself to be the object of his affection (or target practice.) I suppose I should mention that Henry has a friend too... his name is Colby. I also suppose that these two babies are ridiculously adorable. First up, we fed the adults. Talon and I were too busy having fun to take part. I made an exception when Mom pulled out the strawberries and the Doritos.

Then it was time to jump on the boat for some tubing. I'd be lying if I told you how calm I was. In Daddy's words,"I wouldn't say she ever really enjoyed herself, but she eventually stopped crying."
Once Talon and I were back up on the boat, Mama and Michelle took a turn on the tubes. It was the first child free conversation they shared. From here on out, I'd urge you to find your sunglasses because their will be some photos displaying some extreme whities...Aaaagh!! My retinas! I'm blind, I'm blind! - who am I to judge? I'm destined to inherit that same "healthy" glow. I am a product of their genes. My over-paranoid Mother used the excuse that Henry was "hungry" to get off the boat. The choppy water intimidated her and let's just say... she's no Million Dollar Baby. A baby, yes. But tough and outrageously brave -- not so much. Back at the beach, Henry shimmied out of his skivvies for some sun bathing. His happy, contented appearance indicates the warmth of the water.

Thanks again to our new friends for a memorable day at the beach, for tolerating my demands and for subjecting your vision to our insanely bright shade of skin.

Thanks Eliza for your play by play of yesterday's events. Before y'all go, check out this video we shot moments after I suggested we take the kids out for a walk.

Thirty seconds after we conclude filming, Andrew realized that our sun roof of our car was WIDE open. Looks like we'll be having ourselves a soggy Labor's Day as we piddle around in our car tomorrow.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

"I Love Your Blog" part 1

I owe my pleasant mood this morning to three things:

First: I woke up before my children did. Feeling rested is a rarity. I must have had my fill, despite waking up to soothe Henry multiple times last night. He has his first stuffy nose; which actually reminds me of a debate Andrew and I had soon after we moved here. Is there a need to use a humidifier in your child's room when you live in the humid South? I won't tell you who thinks what, you probably can figure that out on your own, but I'm still curious what y'all think.

Second: Eliza is making me laugh. She's implementing the word "Sorry" into her vocabulary. However, rather than saying sorry to members of her family, she's apologizing to her toys, furniture and other household items whenever she accidentally trips or bumps into them. A minute ago, she rolled off a ball she was sitting on. Upon her recovery, she looked at it and said, "I'm sorry ball."

Sure enough, she apologized to this "stuck" toy after I removed it.

Third: I received the following comment which resulted in instant inflation of the head.

hi aly, i randomly came across your blog recently and absolutely LOVE your thoughts on motherhood and life, so i've given you an "i love your blog" award/tag, hope you don't mind!! here's the link:

Initially I was under the impression that Celeste hadn't made the connection that we actually know each other. Being the brightly lit bulb that she is, she had in fact figured it out, which slightly embarrassed me because our history began when I was working as the "Ugly Betty" at a downtown graphic design studio; that can be summed up as being: chic, posh and fresh. I'm not completely fashionably inept, but at the time, I was on a tight budget and satisfied with my average looking self. Let's just say the creative juices that flow at that studio are a flavor that I've never experienced. I'm savvy enough to appreciate their gifts but don't have the all "seeing eye" that those designer's posses.

While my co-workers sampled each other's orders of sushi, I sat in the corner, holding back my desire to vomit as I ate fortune cookies. Their eating habits were even trendy, if that is at all possible. And "yes" I did wear denim, maternity overalls during my pregnancy - which simultaneously dismayed and entertained the Art Director. In all seriousness, I loved that job.

So now, I have the impossible assignment of narrowing down my favorite blog list to seven. The difficulty is, I like blogs for different reasons. Anyway, she's given me something to write about. Thanks to Celeste for her example of 'outing' herself as a reader... something I encourage other people to do but am too often embarrassed to do myself... oh the hypocrisy.

:) Considering the lengthy nature of this post, I'll fulfill the tag within the next day or so.

Nanna Teresa, these ones are for you:
"We love our bath hoodies!"Eliza, being fully cooperative, as usual

Sunday, August 24, 2008

A Home Evening Back Fire

I'm tempted to write about Henry. He causes instant gushing of the mouth - which simply means; I want to share with you all of the cheesy, heartfelt, over the top, make you gag, reasons why I'm so smitten with my second child. But tonight, the focus is on someone else.
Age: two and a little bit
Last Monday, for home evening, we attempted to give a lesson on "Reverence." Eliza has a tendency to act her age. Each week at Church she participates in a hallway game of "How fast do you think I can sprint, Mom?!" The girl takes her sport seriously. Being the out of shape human being that I am, it can be seriously embarrassing chasing her down. For our activity, Andrew and I took turns making complete fools... uh, I mean, we took turns demonstrating the difference between walking "silly" and walking "reverently." Eliza colored a sign that read:

"I can be reverent!" (Because we all know how FUN it is to be reverent.)

Whenever she held the sign in the air, we went from being silly hyper sillies to quiet, boring... I mean, reverent listeners. In a tone that was smothered with approval, I repeated the word "Reverence" off and on during our activity. I used the word "silly" once or twice as a contrast.

I'm pleased to report that her vocabulary has increased this last week. She's speaking in small sentences, that surprisingly make sense, and it would appear that her new favorite word is "silly." Our home evening was successful in encouraging silliness while the concept of being reverent still remains dormant in her soul. I should have known.

Other instances include:

- While shopping on Friday, I heard her use the phrase,
"I love it!" She'd holler, "I love it" over and over as she meticulously pulled clothes off of the racks. Then, she proceeded to hold them up, examine herself in the mirror and then shove them into my arms for safe keeping. SHE'S ACTING LIKE A GIRL!!! YES!!!!

- Having a desire to take credit for something she hasn't done, she'll flush the toilet and proudly declare, "I did it!"

- Following a car test drive last night, Andrew and I were quietly conversing in the front seats. To our total astonishment Eliza blurts out, "I LIKE this car!!" The car salesman beamed when he heard her say that.

Other phrases that mean absolutely nothing to you but make my heart melt include:
Hello baby!
That was fun ice cream.
Come on, Mommy. Come on!
Emee's house! Please!!
Where'd Mommy go?
It may be interesting to note that Andrew is no longer referred to as, "Daddy." When he walks in the door each night she happily shouts... "ANDREW!!!"

**For the sake of a future blurb album, I want to post the remaining photos from our recent trip home.

Finally, I have a lengthy and somewhat disappointing video. I was encouraging Eliza to use the above mentioned phrases but due to her desire to discredit her Mother's exciting claims, she stuck to the word she learned last week in home evening - "Silly!"

P.S. Mom, I survived my first "Sunday Dinner" away from home. It's easy to give into the homesickness on Sunday nights. Although the texture of my chicken resembled rubber, it all tasted great

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Yes, I'm a Mormon!

*Edit note: when I originally posted this entry I made an error. It read "MorNon" instead of "Mormon"... I might as well have written: "Yes, I'm a Moron."

This weekend has easily been the 'best' I've experienced since our move to the South. When Andrew reads that statement, he might be offended due to the fact that he's been absent for it. Is anyone honestly surprised to hear that Andrew's already serving in our Young Men's presidency and at this very moment, he is on a camp out with the Scouts? My suspicions have been confirmed. Scouting is a part of his genetic make-up.

I'm happy that Scouting affords him the opportunity to "commune with nature." In his absence, I've been "communing" with the outlet mall and Chinese food. We all have our special needs :)

I owe the strange sense of normalcy I'm feeling to two things:

1. Andrew left me with the car. The freedom to pack up my kids and run an errand is refreshing - even if it means carrying a screaming two year old who'd rather be running through a busy parking lot unattended. Needless to say, we're still in the process of looking for a second car.

2. I have a solid friend. Her name is Michelle and she's a tender mercy in my life.

It's probably a good thing I haven't confided in her how much I actually blog. Eventually, it will come up that this happens to be a major hobby of mine; eventually she may read this entry; and eventually I will be embarrassed that I'm openly exposing how much her presence is helping me with my adjustment. I can live with embarrassment.

We both have two children. Our two year olds are two weeks apart. Our baby boys are a month apart. How's that for perfect? The best part is, she and I get along really well. As I already mentioned, she and I spent Friday night shopping (more like chasing our kids) at the outlet mall, followed by a play date at the park this morning and then lunch. The two of us (well, it's six when you include our children) stand out when we're in public. If we had been hauling our kids around at the Park City outlet mall, we would have easily blended right in. Let's just say that it's nice having someone to 'stand out' with.

Based on my limited experience, the people here are exceptionally friendly and polite. The expression of "Southern Hospitality" is well practiced here. Strangers don't hesitate to strike up a conversation. When interacting with someone new, it's generally assumed that our family is of the Baptist faith. Frequently we're asked which of the congregations do we belong too. Immediately following that particular question, they learn I'm Mormon.

Again, my impressions are based on a small sampling of experiences so my opinion is bound to shift with time. For now, I think it's fair to say that Baptists are well aware of the Mormon Church. Depending on what their sources are... I don't know if I could be optimistic enough to say that they feel positively about our faith. That's not to say that they extremely dislike or fear us, but I suppose that I feel a stronger attachment to the statement:

"We're a strange and a peculiar people."

For the first time in my life, I live in a region where I'm apart of a religious minority and it is humbling. I feel a stronger sense of duty to be a good example. It is my hope that I can befriend a person and that I will leave them with a positive impression. If I'm the only Mormon they come in contact with, I better have been genuine, helpful, kind and NORMAL. Acting 'normal' may be a stretch for me, but I'll do my best :)

At the end of the day, whether a person has chosen to keep their distance or to accept my friendship, I silently (and randomly) will say to myself, "The Church is true. I know it's true. Nothing else matters." It gives me chills. When I silently bear personal testimony to myself, I feel peace and am given strength.

As the Primary songs states:

Jesus said love everyone,
treat them kindly too.
When your heart is filled with love,
others will love you.

I am here to abide by the words of that song. Before I arrived, I imagined that my religion would influence the interactions I'd have with new people, but I'm surprised that it's a such a regular occurrence. When life leads us back home, I hope I remember to extend myself to those who may feel excluded because they're not apart of a majority - whether it's religious or something else. It's an important lesson, one I'm only beginning to learn.

I'm sure I've exhausted your attention span. Congratulations if you're still reading. But I want to record for myself a small exchange I had at the park this morning that outlines what I've been trying to say.

Upon our arrival to the park this morning, Eliza immediately darted to the swing set. I was in the process of settling in with Henry as a fellow Mom happily offered to push Eliza. I made my way over to thank her when she handed me a M.O.P.S. card.

M.O.P.S. stands for "Moms of Pre-school age" children. It's a nationally based group, sponsored by the Baptist faith (I believe), that meets twice a month. While you convene for a lesson ranging from home decorating to child discipline, your pre-school age child meets with other kids to play, participate in a craft, singing, etc. And then, throughout the month you meet various places for play groups.

Needless to say, I'm interested! Sign me up!! I introduced this Mom to Michelle. I was impressed by her friendliness and found it easy to talk with her. However, when she learned that Michelle and I both hail from the great state of Utah and 'happened' to know each other after living here for a month's time... I saw it click. I heard her mental assumption that we both must be Mormon's. I sensed some nerves as she awkwardly excused herself. Looking back, I am sure that I was polite and upbeat during our conversations and made an effort to talk with her off and on before she left. Again, nothing "life altering" happened, but the change was evident. I'm not upset or offended by it... just curious to what her feelings were at that point.

A lot of my member friends who read my blog grew up away from Utah. They're probably rolling their eyes at me for the amazement I feel in shifting from the majority to the minority. Again, I don't expect much reaction from my readership... probably just my Mom made it through this entire post (Hi Mom! I missed you at the outlets last night. But, you know, I miss you all the time. It doesn't really matter where I am), but as always you're welcome to tell me your thoughts. It's an interesting topic.

I know, I know... I'm overdue on pictures. I'll get going on that.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Keeping House

Having blogged about our family's recent nuptials, I have mentally sorted out a few pieces of advice (completely unsolicited, of course) to my favorite newlyweds. Today I offer this:

1. For the first four years of your marriage; deprive yourselves of a dishwasher, counter space for cooking, a disposal, a bathtub and a washer and dryer.

*side note: a bathtub and laundry machines will mean more to you when you have children of your own, so if you could add baby making to your "to-do" list, this will be a more effective exercise!

Oh, I almost forgot! Make sure your vacuum is inefficient. Up until a month ago, the use of our vacuum guaranteed that our noses would fall victim to the stench of vaporized frog pellets (frog food - the smell is foul). The undesirable aroma was the result of an accident, that occurred a year ago, where Eliza knocked a bottle of frog pellets onto our carpet. We made the mistake of vacuuming up the pellets which led to the victimization of our nasal cavities. After emptying and replacing various parts of our vacuum, the gag inducing, fragrance remained.

After enduring your first married years of life without certain modern day conveniences, there will come a day when you wake up (on the other side of the country) with the use of the above mentioned helps.

Lately, I find myself... dare I say...*enjoying* my time in the laundry room, happily using my dishwasher, relishing in the space I have to cut vegetables, bathing my children, etc. As for the vacuum crisis, Andrew surprised me with a housewarming gift when I arrived. You guessed it. I have a new vacuum. I've vacuumed twice this week (and it's only Wednesday), which is probably further evidence of the fact that I.AM.BORED without my Mother. Alas, my house is clean and is ready for a visitor at a moment's notice.

It's a shame I can't whistle...the ability to do so might prolong my enthusiasm for these wifely duties.

What about the you? Do you have any advice for the newlyweds? Ridiculous or serious suggestions are welcome no matter what your current relationship status is... come ON people. Let's do something to stimulate some action in my comments section!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Wedding Festivities

It began with a bridal shower...
The poor bride-to-be was still on the mend from a motorized scooter accident. A couple weeks before the wedding, Katie had been on a routine errand when the scooter caught a lip in the road

("lip in the road"... that's a new one for me...maybe I was told a "dip in the road" and I'm remembering it as being a "lip"... Help a girl out. Am I making up that phrase?) .

Simply put, Katie broke the scooter's fall (always willing to take one for the team). In addition to road rash, she incurred a nasty, blood oozing, gash on the top of her foot, and said "Adios" to the skin on the top of her big toe. Guh, guh, guh - gross! Being the tough cookie that she is, she drove her injured self back home. She was greeted by the concrete of her front porch after passing out. Moments later, her Mother found her lying there, saw that she was as pale as me and bleeding profusely at her wound site. As Teresa rushed to get herself out the door to take Katie to Dr. F's foot clinic, Katie attempted to make her way to the car. Attempted... as in, she fell again; this time dislocating or separating her shoulder (one of the two... something unpleasant happened). Can I get another "ARE WE EVEN KIDDING?"

Long story short (too late), she had an awkward, yet miraculously fast, recovery.

*Side note to reader: Was I successful in making your stomach twinge and toes curl with my written description of her injuries? If I had the capability to post the photo that was sent to us of her foot, I still wouldn't post it. It would make you vomit.

It was tender to see the way Brent looked after her following her day of incredible bad fortune.

The shower was done well. Eliza was reunited with Grandma Flegal that night. She was thrilled to see Grandma. Grandma's eyes welled up with tears at the site of these two.


The sealing was truly a sacred experience. Katie and Brent were beaming. She looked absolutely beautiful. As we were leaving the sealing room, the sealer (the man who performed the ceremony) asked Andrew how he was related...

Automatically, you'd correctly assume he was asking how Andrew was related or knew the couple. Right? However, because Andrew was in the process of escorting Grandma Flegal from the room, he looked up at him and replied,

"She's my Grandma."

With a confused smile, he said "How nice."... basically, Andrew told the wedding sealer that Katie was his Grandma. I was laughing to hard to make a correction on Andrew's behalf.
Pictures don't do her justice. I was walking past Brent at the reception when I heard someone holler,

"Time for family photos!"

"Family... Family... I need my family," he said to himself. "There's my family!" he exclaimed when he located his wife of 6 hours. Gently taking her arm, he escorted her to have their photo taken.

The reception was at the U of U institute... a perfect location. The ambiance was lovely, the food too good and the send off was the best I've seen. Congratulations to the Jensen family.

With a bridesmaid, Karina

A sister shot: Liz, Katie, Sara & Ali

And now for a shameless plug:
KATIE AND BRENT: I hear myrtle beach is the best place for a second honeymoon; especially when meeting your brother & sister in law with their two kids! Woo, woo!! Seriously, come see us!

Monday, August 18, 2008

A time for cousins

We're home from Utah.

That sentence seems dishonest considering how foreign my current "home" still feels when comparing it to the secure, familiar, happy walls of my parent's home in Utah. Feelings aside, we are back in South Carolina after spending two weeks in Salt Lake where we celebrated a wedding, welcomed home a missionary, ate too many pastries and enjoyed our family.

Eliza and Henry engaged themselves in a game of ping pong late last night. I acted as the ball, bouncing to and from their bedrooms attending to their needs (Henry's justified, Eliza's requests were odd and random). Needless to say, I'm thinking more about my own pillow at the moment than devising a clever format in which I could share our trip back to Utah.

Due to the extremely EMPTY, BLANK, NON-EXISTENT, VOID nature of my week's schedule, I'm going to space out my travelogue.

Today's post will feature photos taken with Eliza & Henry's cousins. It's simultaneously heart breaking & heart warming to watch as Eliza asks for, interacts and plays with them. As we walked through the airport Saturday night, she kept asking to go back to "Emee's house." She associates my Mom's house with her cousin Emilee. For the duration of our trip, she continually informed me that the middle stool at my Mom's island was "Emee's chair."

Cousin Squisharoo recently turned one! Happy Birthday cousin Scott! Eliza and her cousins enjoyed an impromptu sprinkler run one evening. Kaitlyn and Eliza "patiently" (yeah right... Eliza and the word patient don't belong in the same sentence) wait for Uncle Matt at the airport. She was wondering when it was our turn to ride the airplane. As for Sir Henry, he finally met his first New Yorker; his cousin Truman. Tru is four days older. Truman helped break the ice by allowing Henry the use of his fist. These two finger/fist suckers have so much in common already :) Next to Truman is their second cousin, Kreighton. He made his arrival two weeks after Henry. Last but not least, we loved our time with the Taylor tots, noodles, midgets (all nicknames were previously established). First up, is Shipley. Shipley and I met before I started to dating her Uncle Andrew. She was three or four and attending a pre-school at my high school that I taught in. She's beautiful, smart, a gifted swimmer, fun to be around and incredibly helpful. I hope Eliza becomes the big sister that Shipley is to her siblings. Speaking of her siblings, meet her brothers, Wickman & Maxwell!
Wickman is drawn to his Uncle Andrew. They share common interests and have been fishing buddies since Wick was little. As for Maxwell... well, they don't come more charming than he does.

Introducing Henry's #1 fan, Cecelia. She was the first to ask to hold Henry.
And finally, we have Syrelle. These two girls don't have too many memories of each other, but that didn't stop them from holding hands and mimicking one another thirty seconds after their introduction.

That ends today's onslaught of photos. Eliza and I have a box of toys to unpack. After that, I'll find something else to ward off the intense feelings of homesickness I'm experiencing. I'd call someone, but my inability to have a short telephone conversation continues to be a problem... a problem that cost us $245.00 in overages last month. Crikey!