Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Howie Mandel on my Mind

Relax. As charming as he may be, Howie is NOT my Hollywood crush.

If you're lucky, maybe Andrew will someday spill the beans on the name of the Hollywood actor that has starred in my dreams on more than one occasion. I'm certain the revelation would shock and surprise you - with the possibility of making you vomit a little in your mouth. What's that? You're sick and tired of my habitual vagueness?

Well, if you promise to never bring this up in person, especially at Church, I'll tell you. I have a history of kissing (oh man, I'm blushing),

this man.while dreaming.

Andrew's fully aware of my infedility and due to the fact that he thinks it's absolutely hilarious, he harbors no ill feelings toward Mr. Steve Martin.

Forgive me for diverting; back to Howie. Although I was never an avid fan of the show, I have to say that my central nervous system can no longer endure an entire episode of the popular game show, "Deal or No Deal." Grandma Flegal and I used to watch it with each other, usually debating if the likable contestant had nerves of steel or brains of mush. And despite my best efforts to not invest my own emotion into the contestant's risky choices, I'd usually turn off the t.v. completely bugged with the disappointing outcome while quoting some made up scripture that pride and money are the root of all evil.

Despite the void of viewing this particular program, I have to say that as of late, whenever I find myself with a free moment to think, I'm mentally bombarded with the memory of Mr. Mandel's voice. He is pressuring me with the unbroken taunt:

Miss Flegal, Deal or No Deal?

You see, Andrew and I are in the process of locking in an interest rate for our mortgage. For that reason, I've been calling our loan office each day, requesting the rate. This process has been ugly. The rates have been more volatile than a moody female suffering from (well, you know what). So as Andrew and I discuss the possible risks verse the rewards (shout out to YOU, Allen!) we've become a pair of overwhelmed individuals.

"Should we lock in? What if the rates go up tomorrow? AW, SNAP! They jumped an entire percentage.... WE SHOULD HAVE LOCKED IN LAST TUESDAY.... maybe they'll be better tomorrow. The Feds Cut the rate today. Can somebody please dumb this down for me? How does this effect us..."

Cue Howie Mandel... uh, I mean my Loan Officer

Miss Flegal...Deal or No Deal?

It's a good thing I don't gamble. This process has taught me that I really am the "play it safe" type - which translates into, I'm boring. I'm okay with boring, as long as it means predictability and safety - two words that can't be equated to our economy. It's late. I'm trying not to divert.

For the benefit of your own amusement, I will confess that the other day I sincerely prayed for the rates to drop.

(*Insert your laughter here)

Oh gosh. That's not what you ought to be praying for. That's like praying for your team to win the big baseball prize. I'm tired and am really trying to think of what it's...oh yes, the World Series or praying that your favorite Survivor contestant will pull through this weeks immunity challenge and win. I see the foolishness of my attempt.

So, Andrew and I modified our tune. We have been praying to be wise.

We've been praying to come in contact with people who have pure motives and advice to share (second shout out to Allen). We've prayed that as a couple, we'd be on the same page throughout this process and that we'd remain united with each of our decisions. I'm pleased to report that after much turmoil, those blessings have come to pass.

Even with that dilemma solved, I still can't seem to shake Howie. He is my constant companion as I continue to question whether or not I should take our blog private. Do I really think my children are at risk? No. I don't. Can you go back on taking the "going Private" stance? It's truly pathetic how much time and energy I've put into this personal debate I'm having. As my Mom kindly reminded me... each of you have your own lives and that this small alteration won't shatter or impact your world whatsoever.

To all of you stellar individuals who went out of your comfort zone, requesting an invite, I sincerely apologize if I end up staying public. You can send your virtual looks of anger to the same e-mail address as before. Please know, you weren't the only 'stranger' to write in. I'd say half of the invites are from people I don't know directly, but we share mutual friends.

Here's the roadblock.

Apparently, there is a limit to how many private invitations you can extend. To our surprise, the number of people who have emailed me, combined with those that left comments, has surpassed that limit. My eyes have been opened to the fact that really cool people have a vested interest in our family. Thank you, thank you. (*those of you that I knew were already reading are also cool too... )

So for now, I'll endure the tormenting voice of Howie Mandel until I can think up a solution that will silence the question that plagues my brain continually. Are you going to private-tize your blog? Deal or No Deal?

Monday, October 27, 2008

In The Interim

Thank you to those that have left comments and sent e-mails requesting to remain in the loop when I take our blog private. I've been blown away by your support and friendship. My intent is to remain public for the week and give the individuals (and my FAMILY members!) who check in on a more random basis, an opportunity to request an invite if they desire.

I'd be lying if I didn't acknowledge that my feelings regarding this decision continues to fluctuate between 'absolute certainty that I need to make the switch' to 'complete doubt that these measures are necessary'. It's a constant struggle and it's with embarrassment that I confess how easily my stance changes based on who I'm having the conversation with.

Allow me to transition from a tone of aggravating non-sense to a recap of our weekend.

Friday night, I took part in a 'girls night' at Michelle's house. Laughing feels so good. That craft savvy lady helped me to complete this fine project.
During my outing, my generous husband played the part of Mr. Mom to both children. His capability to manage the two of them in my absence is impressive. Whether it's assaulting Henry's unsuspecting palette to the unforgiving taste of mashed baby peas or keeping them both entertained while I sit on the stand during our Primary program at Church... ...he can do it all.

Saturday, Andrew was able to spend his day at the temple with the youth of our ward. The experiences he shared from that experience uplifted me. It is my hope that next month, it will be my turn to go.

We typically plan to share meals with friends on Sunday. It helps ease the pangs of homesickness that attack the two of us each week. However, we didn't have an arrangement made this week which left us with an empty evening to ourselves. I momentarily gave into the temptation to sulk and began to imagine the dinner conversations I was missing out on with our family back home.

As I started to clean up dinner, Andrew turned on the music of Marshall McDonald. The music touched me. I know this is the sappiest, sap, sap you've heard from me recently, but as I watched the husband I love, play with these two little creatures that we're responsible to love and care for... I realized (again) that I can't waste my time moping. Someday, I will desperately miss this phase of my children's lives. I can't stare at the clock, waiting for our time here to end and miss out on the small moments that make being a Mom the best thing ever. Time passes too quickly. Kids grow too quickly.

Hurry! Somebody... Quick! Anybody... push me off my soapbox before I get hit by a tomato.

So, we dusted off our sadness and focused our energy laughing at this and doing a lot of that.
Eliza was in on this action too! After tucking her in for the night she hollered,

"No, no, no, go, Mommy!" and then as she pointed to the empty spot of pillow next to her head, she ordered,

"Sleep here, Mommy!" I couldn't resist her invitation. For ten minutes, we indulged in laughter as she pointed out the boogers in my nose (relax, you have some too) and discussed her own... and Henry's... and Daddy's and Pop Pops ... and Dora's, etc. I feel so grateful today.

I conclude with a short video. I invite you to enjoy the magical sound of my son's laughter while I simultaneously encourage you to disregard the monster sounding enthusiast who is coaxing my child to the camera at the end of the footage.
video

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Going Private

It's true. The Flegal Family blog is 'Going Private' - are you shocked? I am.

Before you start hurling virtual stones at me and labeling me as a hypocrite for the time I spent advocating public blogging... trust me when I say that my reason for the change is justified. I no longer feel that my blog is a safe place for me to publicly post photos of my family. I'll further my explanation once you and I are settled into private blogging land.

This decision was difficult to make. I understand that logging into a private blog is inconvenient. I've benefited from 're-connecting' with past friends and making new ones. With that being said, Please don't hesitate to send me your e-mail address if you'd like an invite; whether I know you personally or if you are my college roommates friend's Mother's dog walker and you randomly stumbled across my blog and became a regular reader... I'd be happy to include you!

I know that 'outing' yourself as a reader can be embarrassing. I've given up a handful of blogs once the author switched over to private. Perhaps, I am overreacting, but after talking to friends and family about the startling revelation, I feel it's the only alternative to ease my freshly formed pool of anxiety. If you're 'dying' to know the reason behind the change and can't wait for the explanation once I'm private, call me. I'm too embarrassed right now to explain it this way.

Here's what I'm asking of those who want an invite.

Please leave me a comment with your e-mail address OR email me your e-mail address:

ali.flegal@gmail.com

Please do this EVEN if you know I have your contact info in my address book, EVEN if we're related, EVEN if we're soul mates. I don't want to sift through my contact list searching for it because I may miss it accidentally. I'm all about copy and pasting. I want this transition to be as smooth as possible.

Oh gosh. I can't believe I'm actually going to publish this post. But Here I go.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Successfully Brainwashing My Daughter

Choosing Henry's costume took a mere five seconds. After laying my eyes on an adorable mass of cuddly puppy fur, I knew that it was destined for my son. Once I dressed him in his costume, Eliza spent the following days randomly shouting,

"Baby Henry, Puppy Gog!!"
Laughing right along with Daddy, Nana and myself, Eliza openly fawned over her younger brother in his Halloween get-up. As for Eliza, I've really struggled with my decision as to what I should dress her up as this year. Early in the month of October, I began internally debating with myself over the issue.

Perhaps it would have helped if Eliza had an opinion regarding her choice of costume. However, for Eliza, the concept of Halloween isn't well understood. Her fascination with Thomas the train has been extensive and long lasting, so an obvious choice would be to dress her up as her favorite train. I'm sure she'd go bananas at the sight of the above pictured costume. She'd eat in it, beg to sleep in it, choo-choo her way into the bathtub in it, go to Church wearing it, etc.

However, since she'll never know what she is missing, maybe I could I allow myself to indulge in the selfish desire of adorning her in something irresistibly foofy and frilly... Oh gosh. I want to make here A PRINCESS.

My personal debate ended when I fell in love with a blue Cinderella costume at Walmart. I'm a sucker for a good marketing scheme. The display was magical. Wanting Eliza to be apart of the process, I held up a pink Sleeping Beauty dress and a blue Cinderella dress. I asked her which of the two she liked best. To my great pleasure, she chose the blue dress.

"I love it Mama" - ah, music to my ears.

I can't help but shriek with giddiness as I see the girly side of Eliza's personality emerge. As I watch her play dolls or 'mother' her dolly, I melt.

Yes, she still does this

Because of my girly childhood, I eagerly look forward to a time where she and I will sit down and play with her future Barbie dolls. Not wanting to force her into that stage, I'm patiently waiting until it's what she wants. That's why I feel semi-conflicted that I'm selfishly dressing her up as Cinderella. In a year or two, that might be something she wants to be anyway.

...BUT... in case that's not what happens, and she opts to 'trick o treat' as a street fighting ninja master next year, I figure that I better go ahead and have my fun while she doesn't care. That was the plan anyway, until her Nana and I unveiled the dress and prepared to put it on her to see if it needed to be hemmed.

Eliza.Threw.A.Princess.Sized.Fit.

"Noooooooooooooooooo!" she wailed...

"No dress. No!!!!!!!" The sight of the dress overwhelmed her.

"Lovely
" I mused to myself, "My daughter is boycotting the beautiful dress." My heart was crushed. As the rebellion continued, I actually threatened my child.

"You'll either wear this dress or I will wrap you in layers of tin foil for Halloween and label you as a 'leftover'!" Completely unphased by my threat to involve aluminum foil, her decision to remain steadfast in her disdain for the magical blue dress held firm. Dusting off my "thinking cap" I prepared myself for a battle between Mommy's wit verses my child's inherited stubborn determination. Game on, Eliza. Game on.

The following day, I strategically placed the dress in her room, knowing it would catch her eye. When my assumption that her natural curiosity would draw her to the dress failed, I waited for her to fall into a common 'pleaser' type of mood.

"Oh Eliza! Do you love the blue dress?"

"Yes Mommy, I LOVE it."

"Should we try it on?"

"No Mommy. No." Backing up slowly, she calculated her odds for escape before turning and bolting out of the room. This predicament had me worried. Our first Halloween outing was scheduled; an upcoming play date/potluck with the Mom's club I joined. I readied the tin foil.

As we drove home from the airport last Saturday, inspiration hit. This simple thought led me to Blockbuster where I rented the classic, "Cinderella" (our Disney collection consists of one movie: Bambi. I know, go ahead and call the "Bad Mom Police" for only owning ONE Disney movie). Saturday night, we popped a bag of popcorn and watched the movie as a family (Andrew was transfixed). Let the brainwashing commence!! It held her interest longer than I suspected and it wasn't long until she started requesting "Rella's show" on her own.

And then...the breakthrough. It came Sunday night when she shyly brought me the dress and asked to have me put it on her. Oh man. I was stoked. Fearing that an over reaction from me would reverse her desire, I bit my tongue and quietly nodded in agreement.And now, after all the drama, we'll be making our grand entrance to our first Halloween party as Cinderella and cute little puppy 'gog.'


... An addendum.

After all this work, we showed up to the party today and my children were the ONLY ones dressed up. Am I embarrassed? No. Tired and ready for a nap? Yes! Always!!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Spreading the Love

Setting: A bedtime conversation between Andrew & Eliza

"Do you love your Mommy?" Andrew asks.

"Uh-huh" a sniffly Eliza happily replies.

"Do you love your Daddy?" he questions again.

"Yes" she says, slurping up an excess of saliva. Realizing he isn't going to continue, Eliza proceeds on her own.

"...and baby Henry." she sweetly says. Melting instantly, Andrew gives her a kiss as he confirms,

"You love baby Henry?" Taking her pacifier out of her mouth she replies,

"Yes. And doors."

'Doors?' Andrew laughs to himself. Surely she was referring to her latest craze; the ever popular, adventure-filled friend, Dora the Explorer.

"You mean, you love Dora?" he asks, assuming he's correcting her.

"No Daddy. Doors!" Pointing to the three doors that surrounds her bed, she begins to point to them beginning with the closet door, followed by the bathroom door and finally the door that leads into the hallway.

"I love that door, and that door... and THAT door!"

Friday, October 17, 2008

Thank you Mom

...For the Best Week Ever.



8 more weeks, 8 more weeks...

That's my latest mantra. In '8 more weeks' we'll be on a plane back to SLC to visit you. Until then, I"ll be missing you fiercely.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Proving That It Is Possible To Drive a Piece of Crap

Hi y'all. Muster up your best southern accent in reading today's post.
After drivin' a piece down the high way this mornin', my mama took notice of that there rig (for the full effect, click on it).

"Lookee there Ali!"

"What's that, Mama?"

"That there is somethin' mighty inspirational."

With a little creativity and some southern ingenuity, surely you can get where you need to be gettin too.

Good on them. Wait... is he... flipping us off for takin his picture? Ah shoot. I was fixen to make me a new friend today.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Following the Ankle Incident

Sunday evening, we drove out to a near by lake.
While Eliza played with her daddy, Henry cashed in on some over due snuggles with Nana.Monday morning, we navigated our way to Niven's Apple FarmAfter a ride on the 'short' bus, we took a twenty minute hayride where we saw apple & peach orchards, pumpkin patches and spotted charming fairy tale characters that were hidden in a forest of trees. Eliza enjoyed bouncing on tubes, visiting the petting zoo and walking through a corn maze with NanaThe last item of business... picking out a pumpkin. Having a Charlie Brown type of compassion, Eliza was drawn to a single pumpkin, who had lost his stem.

A moment later, she changed her mind (again and again) and decided on this one. The weather was perfect, my ankle endured well (it's still very swollen and a nice shade of bruising has developed) and we didn't get lost trying to find the farm! We were all tuckered out. It was time to come home and relax.
Eliza excels in this department.

Meanwhile, Henry's two week illness progressed into high danger fever land. After talking with his doctor's nurse, we were advised to take him into an evening Pediatric dungeon... ugh, I mean clinic.
I apologize for the critical analysis, but the cinder block, window-less walls inspired the question, "Am I'm being admitted into prison?"

The creep-fest of the facility continued when we walked back into the examination room and the wall decor consisted solely of thisIt's certainly not your typical "Ponies Playfully Prancing in a Pasture" scene, is it? Traditionally, individuals visit the doctor's office in hopes of curing nasty maladies. Considering the ironically true fact that we ate spaghetti for dinner an hour earlier, you can understand that I left the room feeling somewhat nauseated.

My photo doesn't due the size of this framed piece of ugliness justice.

The good news of our adventure, Henry was prescribed an antibiotic for an ear infection, throat problems, etc and after three days of having a fever, woke up this morning without one. Yay. More to come.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Fishing for Sympathy

In keeping with my recent post's themes of irony and skillfully fulfilling my daily quota of all things awkward ... it would seem that my latest mishap, or should I say 'misstep', (pun intended) will tie in beautifully.

As promised, my Mother safely arrived late Friday night. She was greeted by a tearful daughter, impatiently waiting, at the bottom of a crowded escalator. I held her hand as we walked to the baggage claim, ready to burst into song for the weary passengers as a display of my great joy. Alas, out of respect for my Mother, I refrained.

All week, I've been planning and plotting activities that would entertain Eliza; as well as scheduling time where she and I could leave the kids with Andrew for some one on one time. Some of the simple ideas included:

walking through the zoo
walking up at the outlet malls
walking through a pumpkin patch
walking through the Dollar store
walking through our soon to be completed home (a month from today we are scheduled to close)

*Key word: walking

etc...

So, this afternoon, we decided to impress my Mom with the best the South has to offer. No... we didn't go to Myrtle Beach. (*insert a healthy dose of sarcasm here). But close.

We took her to the Piedmont Interstate Fair. I would NOT use the following adjectives to describe the environment: classy, impressive, clean, awe-inspiring, well worth your money. Despite the aesthetics it lacked, the weather was nice and we witnessed Eliza's joy as she rode the merry-go-round,slid down a giant pink slide and rode a choo-choo train.

The tickets we bought evaporated fast. At the end of our mini excursion, we had three tickets left. I was certain I could sweet talk our way onto one last ride so we headed to the bounce house (we needed three more tickets and didn't want to fork out the money to buy another book of ten).

The carny denied Eliza passage into the bounce house because she didn't think Eliza would make it over an inflatable rock wall on her own. Due to my height, I wasn't permitted to accompany her. It was my duty to break Eliza's heart and drag her screaming little self away from her oh-so desired destination.

With my vision obstructed by my flailing two year old daughter's body, I didn't notice the uneven, sloped piece of ground that I was destined to trip down. Landing on my face would have been the least painful of outcomes, however, in an attempt to protect my daughter, I kept my arms securely wrapped around her as I fell twice; first on my left ankle, followed by my right knee.

Bear with me as I toot my own horn as I proudly give myself credit for being a good Mother.

TOOT TOOT

Despite the immediate pain swelling in my damaged ankle, the words that escaped my lips were, "How's Eliza? Is she hurt? Is she okay?" Grateful that my instinct to protect her prevailed over self preservation, I learned that the cause of her wails was a result of fear and lingering anger over the fact she hadn't been admitted into the bounce house.

Physically, she was fine. Relief.

I was greeted by the paramedics in a matter of minutes. In true country fried fashion, the EMT was nursing a wad of tobacco behind his bottom lip.

"Careful Miss " (*insert loud slurp of spit) "This here is gonna sting" he warned as he applied the antiseptic.

My Mom, always having my blog's interest at heart, whipped out her camera to capture a piece of the pandemonium. In between my examinations, I'm still hollering at the different workers, trying to figure out a way to use our tickets to calm Eliza down.Pretty sure, all it takes is one nasty fall to change the heart of an uncooperative fair employee. The above mentioned carny, did in fact change her tune, as she offered to allow our traumatized daughter into the BLASTED bounce house.

"I'm 5 feet tall" she explained, "I'm allowed into the bounce house and will help your daughter if she gets stuck."

Hmm, I silently wondered...considering that I weigh less than you, does that mean that you could have admitted the two of us IN THE FIRST PLACE!? I wasn't about to make her feel guilty, despite the temptation inspired by my pain. It was apparent she felt awful. My fall motivated them to move a bench over to the slope where I'd taken my spill.

After denying their services to take me to a hospital for an x-ray, we left the fair. I was fully depressed that my Mom, who is visiting from the other side of the country, was suddenly sentenced to wait on my children's needs as my HUGE ankle tries to heal. However, I have to say, as much as I love my husband, there is nothing like a Mother's touch or a Mother's concern. Watching her face crinkle up in sympathy as she predicts future bruising or as she watches me grimace makes me so grateful to be her daughter.I love you Mom. Here's to a "twisted" (again pun intended, do you get it? twisted ankle? -) week.
Update on ankle: It's doing better. It's not fractured, broken, etc... I'm hobbling around like a confused little duck, but feel optimistic that we'll have a great week. As for the rest of you...I'd like to make a toast...

In honor of all our Mom's everywhere... Here! Here!!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

I can't wait, I can't wait!!

Dear Henry,

Are you feeling any better today sweet little puppy?Even though the two of us slept really well last night, I woke up with a tummy full of butterflies this morning! They're not the kind of butterflies that accompany nausea, frayed nerves or fear; but rather, they're the kind that fill your tummy on Christmas morning with excitement and sweet anticipation or when thinking about stepping into that movie theater to watch Twilight the Movie.

What's that? You feel the same way when eating carrots? Oh, I'm so glad to hear that.

Last night, I broke into a larger than usual smile as a a new flood of butterflies consumed my innards. Your daddy immediately guessed that I was thrilled about the progress of this...Saturday, the construction crew completed the siding, the roof AND the sheet rock. They continue to stun me with the acceleration of our home's progress. Granted, I've never built a home before, but still. That seemed fast to me.

While many of our friends spend their weekends at sporting events, concerts or other exciting venues, we took a seat on the pavement and watched this (in between conference sessions). It's a shame that you can't sample the flavor of the music these fellas were drilling out to. Let's just say, it was a sound that I've never experienced (and hopefully never will again) before.

But really, who cares what they listen to? It sure inspired productivity!
in this photo, your standing in the family room... the morning room is off to the right, the window to the left of the morning room is where the kitchen sink will be

and Eliza did a little bit of this Alas, your Daddy was wrong. The cause for my excitement stems from the impending arrival of the woman I love most.
Your Nana Marie is coming for a week long visit on Friday!! I'm jumping out of my skin with happiness (sorry for the awkward visual). I can't wait, I can't wait. It's a good thing taking care of you and your dear sister wears me out to the point where I could fall asleep standing up by the time 8:00 pm rolls around. Without your help, I would be like a seven year old on Christmas Eve - totally unable to sleep.I can't wait to see you Mom! Travel safe, we'll see you soon (yet not soon enough).

Your job, sweet Henry, is to sleep away your cold and get better. As for me, I'll take care of sprucing up this place.

Love,
Mama