Monday, April 27, 2009

"This is Not the Beach!"

.... And we're back! With my Mom in tow, we set off last Saturday for a little beach vacation.

It was simply delightful.

The End.

Just kidding. Oh, come on. I'm fully justified in the pictorial assault that is about to occur. It was Eliza and Henry's first trip to the ocean. And, as I already mentioned, we were fortunate enough to have my Mom as our special guest. Therefore, this post will be fraught with images of children frolicking in the waves, sandcastles towering high above the competition, skin - whiter than snow - and...

Oh, hey there, Henry! What's the smirk for? (pause) I see. You're still laughing at your sister. Is that right? Yes, yes. I remember. I'm that bad Mom who let her daughter play in the sun for the first 1/2 hour of the trip,

Broadway at the Beach

before bathing her in sunblock. A sunburned face ensued. Her little face swelled like a balloon. Her eyes seemed to shrink. Her face, I'm ashamed to say, became a great source of laughter.

Exhibit A:

Mama & Eliza with their twin swollen faces. Sad news is, Eliza's went away and mine hasn't.

After boycotting a nap on Saturday afternoon, we took the kids out for their first taste of the ocean. Henry couldn't get enough of the beach. Exhausted, he fell asleep while making the rounds on the lazyriver.The night concluded with a return to Broadway at the Beach. We fed ducks, had dinner, window shopped and enjoyed fireworks; with the exception of Eliza. She spent the majority of the show with her head buried in Andrew's chest; plugging her ears and complaining about the noise.

Sunday was somewhat blissful. The weather was the right amount warm combined with the perfect touch of wind. We began the day with plans to make pancakes and scrambled eggs. Enter the problem. I neglected the PAM!

  • Pancake Mix (check!)
  • Eggs (check!)
  • Pam and/or butter - CRAP
"Andrew! Hit the breakfast buffet. See if you can weasel us a few packets of butter. Take Henry. He's cute. They may be more inclined to give it to you."

"Butter? We need butter. I have an idea." This was his idea. Introducing, "Movie Theater Pancakes." We hijacked the butter out of a microwave popcorn package. And you know what? It worked fabulously. As my Mom and I worked the pancake experimentation, Andrew and Henry were successful in their hunt for butter. And, as I predicted, his cuteness scored him a free beach ball from a generous little girl in the elevator. After a morning on the beach/pool, the kids took a serious nap. Following which, we broke the Sabbath as we paid three bucks to walk the Apache pier. That evening, we bid farewell to our beach that night during sunset.

Before hitting the road Monday morning, we made a stop to Ripley's aquarium. It was impressive. A good time was had by all.
As we pulled in the driveway this afternoon, Eliza peered out her window.

"Hey!" she shouted. "This is not the beach!" After four hours in the car, Eliza was shocked when we ended up in our driveway. Thinking she'd be thrilled to be free of her car seat, she clenched her hands and informed us all,


*Cue tantrum.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Count Down, A Baby Shower & My Best Friend Turns 26

I feel eager, excited and impatient. The anticipation is comparable to a young child that makes it their business to count down the minutes to Christmas Day. One guess to what the source of all this excitement stems from:

I know, it looks like I'm stifling a yawn, but this is the best "excited" face I've got.

MY MOM IS COMING THIS FRIDAY! And we're taking her to the beach! We haven't been ourselves , so I think it's about time we pull out the SPF 85 and made our way to Myrtle Beach. The time has quickly passed since booking her airfare with the exception of this past week. As the day to her departure draw near, the ticks of the clock seem to be taking their sweet time.

Thankfully, I've been able to stay occupied with the following events. Rewinding back to last Friday, I hosted a Ladies Night Out in honor of my S.C. BFF, Michelle, and her upcoming arrival. She's expecting her third baby in May! Hoping to impress Queen Craft, I successfully created a diaper cake. Trust me, considering my artistic ability (or lack thereof) you would've been impressed. We transformed the morning room into a nail salon for manicures. My living room hosted the Mary Kay consultant who was busy all evening with demonstrations of her own. There were games and most importantly, an abundance of food. I felt very adult as I played hostess. Trust me, I had (and needed) help from friends and my husband. Thanks to Andrew for taking the kids to the park for the evening.

Speaking of my Andrew, he turned twenty six on Monday!! The kids and I took a field trip up to his office. Again, that was another first. I was totally impressed and surprised by what I saw. The place screamed professionalism. The decor was more 'elegant' (if I dare use that word) than I had imagined. I was surprised by how QUIET it was. It had the feel of an upscale library.

"Now do you understand why I don't like talking on my cell phone while at work?" he kept asking me. Yes, I totally get it. It's a phone call that everyone in the room is in on.

We picked him up for lunch. The choice was his. Keeping his active two (almost three) year old in mind, he chose McDonalds (not his favorite). Ironically, Eliza opted against the play area. The steep steps intimidated her. Nevertheless, it was still a memorable lunch thanks to a spilled cup of ice water that made direct contact with my lap. Considering it was his birthday, it was easy to quickly offer my forgiveness. :)

The evening was low key. After unwrapping the gift to myself that I disguised as being a gift to him, we went to the park and then, after giving Andrew the choice, our family made our way to Lowes. That's right. He wanted to spend his birthday looking at plants, flowers and other gardening tools. So, that's what we did. We came home and put the kids to bed early.

For his birthday, I bought and framed professional stills of Landshut, Germany. Yes, it was somewhat selfish on my end but he does, in fact, love them. He may urge me to delete this upcoming sentence, but it's touching to watch his eyes fill with tears when we speak of our time there.
Last year, in his honor, I wrote 25 reasons why I love him. If I were to mimic that idea today, it would sound very much the same. Instead, I'll add a 26th reason to last year's compilation.

#26. He's a problem solver. He looks at life, wondering how to make something simpler and/or more efficient. As he examined the hanging mechanisms of the frames I purchased, he muttered something about wishing it had come with a hanging wire. Without saying a word, he left the room. Ten seconds later, he returned with a thick piece of blue, electrical tubing. It was filled with wires.

"Where did you get that?" It was 10:00 pm. I had never seen the wire before. Truly, I was perplexed.

"The dumpster." He quickly explained. Of course. He went to the dumpster.

"Did you go outside just now?"

"No." he pauses a moment to dissect the wires. "I took it awhile ago; you know, just in case I ever needed it." Without having to add an, "I told you so" he quietly proved his point that his collection of junk, can in fact, be beneficial. Ten minutes later, the photos were hanging beautifully, thanks to wiring that had been scavenged out of a dumpster.

It's been eight years since I fell in love with Andrew James Flegal. He still fascinates me, challenges me and inspires me to be better. I love him very much. I thank my lucky stars that I took claim on the (excuse the cheese) treasure that he is before someone else discovered him. Thank you for choosing me back and loving me despite my weaknesses.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

I'm Such A Wean-er

(Title courtesy of my Husband)

It's no secret at our house that Mom's been suffering from a common, yet incredibly valid and unfortunately real, syndrome that plagues women on a monthly basis. Levels of "slightly irritable to ultra heinous" vary from woman to woman. Be smart and don't ask your significant other to evaluate your condition because he's totally wrong.

Evidence of my "condition" lies in the fact that I cried during my first viewing of HSM3 this week. Gabriella was headed to Stanford and Troy was going to stay in New Mexico to play basketball. Seriously, for a couple of minutes, I was totally messed. Other indicators:
  • I'm living in a pair of black gaucho pants (or anything with an elastic waist).
  • Simply thinking about chocolate... not tasting... just thinking about it, is making me gain weight.
  • And my temperament, well let's just say it has been less than angelic.
With that being said, I'm in need of an emotional download. Knowing that there will be more than one pair of eyes that find this entry nothing more than a piece of literature worthy of being mocked has crossed my mind. That assumption intimidates me on a regular basis. Lately I've felt extremely limited on sharing personal(ish) stuff for fear I'll find a mock version of what I wrote on Seriously So Blessed. Oh well.

So, If I haven't already ostracized the two males who read this blog, I think this next sentence will. It's time to "wean" Henry. And it has nothing to do with the fact that he's over a year. If a Mom wants to nurse her baby longer than age one, good for her.

Reason #1. I have made plans to fly to Salt Lake in May to attend the wedding of one of my closest friends of all time, Karina Stratton.

If you were at BYU-Idaho when we were, you may in fact poop your pants when you find out who she is marrying. I nearly did.

Completely well suited, Completely smitten

The Lord works in mysterious ways! I've never seen her so happy. They are a great match. I hated the thought of missing her wedding. Karina's like family. Oh wait! She totally and legitimately is family. She and Andrew are first cousins. I will be in Salt Lake for a day and a half while the kids stay behind with their Daddy. Watch me do something totally stupid like forget to take my temple recommend.

Reason #2. Henry seems ready. He's not as interested. He's drinking whole milk. He's (sniff, sniff) growing up.

I should be celebrating the fact that I'm, as other Mother's say, "getting my body back to myself"... but to be honest, I'm not "getting back" anything incredibly fantastic. You loan out anything to your kids and its bound to be returned in worse condition. Your body is no exception after a pregnancy.

I'm totally setting myself up to be made fun of, I get it. Simply put, I love nursing him. I love that time. When he was sick, I loved being able to comfort and nourish him simultaneously. Thoughts like these enable me to put off the initial "end" one more day.

Yes, I went through the same thing with Eliza with the major exception that I was pregnant with Henry during the time I weaned her, so knowing that my body couldn't handle both was motivation enough. Here's an analogy for you.

I feel like an X-man whose about to give up her super power.

Continuing with the theme of "letting go" here's and added dose of ridiculous. Part of the bargain in Andrew's decision to use his vacation time to accommodate my huge desire to attend the wedding is that I have to wean Eliza off of her binkie. I'd rather potty train her all over again than do that. Yes, she is quickly approaching the age of three. She's "too old" - but oh man, is she attached to that thing. I'm about to break her heart, and in doing so, will break mine.

As I digested these (sorry to be so dramatic) painful thoughts in the car today, I made a solid decision. Postpone both operations until my emotional health has returned to full strength. Any tips or suggestions on what to do or how I can help Eliza when the purple binkie is out of her sweet life forever would be appreciated.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

A Piece of His Heaven

As of last night, we officially have a garden.
(pssst... 10 points if you can spot Eliza)

After spending some quality time with the Blaser's tiller, Andrew planted himself a row of peas; beans will follow next. While pushing the tiller back into the garage, I heard him quietly murmur,

"That there is a beautiful plot of dirt."

(Eliza spilled applesauce on her pants 10 minutes before going outside. That's why she is mismatched. As for her hair, I have no excuse.)

Working his suburbia plot of land brings him great joy. I appreciate nature, but he seems to be connected to it. Either I'm right about that or I'm over excited for tonight's episode of Lost. You see, I have been reflecting about John Locke's bond to the "island," wondering what Ben's true motives are and imagining how Jack will reemerge as a leader/hero (because he totally will). If you have no idea what I'm referencing, I recommend you do something to change that.Meanwhile, last night, Eliza engaged in some serious business involving side walk chalk. I was "blown away" by my little girls artistic ability. What Mother hasn't been, right? . Check out this picture. Knowing what you know about Miss Eliza, can you decipher what the blue image is?I was so proud, that I captured her introducing each engine. It must be noted, that if you do hear the sound of gas being passed, you're not making it up. And it was totally courtesy of our Eliza. I'm not making that up either.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

In Need of a Boredom Buster

At the moment, Eliza is alone in the bathroom playing with her reflection in the mirror. Before closing the door, she informed me that I was not allowed to come in. Keeping an ear out for mischief, I let her have her way. I could hear her push the step-stool toward the sink. Climbing onto the stool, she was greeted by her own, warm smile.

"Oh there you are, Eliza!" she exclaimed. She then, I'm assuming, ducked her head down low.

"Where did Eliza go?" she asked herself. Popping back up into view she giggled,

"There you are!" And so, the game with her self continues.

If that isn't an indication of how bored we are, then I don't know what is. As I try to plan our day, I can confidently say that a trip to the park is out, due to inclement weather. Blogging should have been out, considering I don't have anything newsworthy to report. Last night, the missionaries canceled their dinner appointment for tonight, which surprisingly, was a let down. I need a "to-do" on my list, other than laundry, to get my productivity juices flowing.

Yesterday's grand adventure was letting Eliza play with her beach toys in my bath tub. She deserves better today. Maybe we'll hit the library and "happy hour" at Sonic this afternoon (half priced drinks and slushies). A shower might not be a bad idea either. That's the best I've got for now.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter

Eliza participated in another Easter egg hunt with the neighborhood children on Saturday. In addition to the traditional hunt, she enjoyed playing on the backyard swing sets, attempted to take down a pinata and made a bunny necklace. It gave us an opportunity to get to know our neighbors better.

The Easter bunny showed up during nap time. Below is a lengthy video of Eliza's experience this afternoon. My cinematography is terrible.

And finally, here's a special message for my Dad from Eliza.

Happy Birthday Dad. I miss you so much. I know Mom gets the majority of the online "shout outs" and 98% of all of the phone calls, but you are equally missed and loved. I've been thinking about you all day. I hope it's been a good one.

The Bean

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Exploring Picassa

Pssst: Mom, you can click on the collage to enlarge

Yesterday we met with the Mom's Club for another potluck lunch. The theme this month was: Eggs. We do our best to plan our dish according to the theme. Examples from yesterday include: quiche, potato salad with hard boiled egg, egg salad sandwiches (along with peanut butter and jelly for the kids), etc. And no matter what the theme, baked chicken nuggets are always a staple.

I totally cheated and bought Loft House, Easter-egg shaped cookies. Clearly they weren't homemade. Still, that didn't stop me from transferring them onto a pink paper plate and covering them with saran wrap.

I don't know how other Mom's would feel about me posting pictures of their kids on my blog, so I'm going to refrain until given permission. Which might be never, because I'm slow to confess that I'm a habitual blogger in an area where no one really blogs. With that being said, I wish you could fully appreciate the mass chaos that is our monthly potluck.

Ah, I love everything about it. Especially, the food. This month was special because we each brought a dozen Easter eggs filled with calorie enriched treasures and watched as our little ones "hunted" in the backyard.

You've heard about the importance of "making an entrance," right? It would seem that Eliza misunderstood that rule in her crash course of, "Behaving like a Diva," as it is becoming increasingly apparent that she has a thing for making a MONSTROUS exit. Her heart breaks whenever it's time to leave a play-date or an especially fun activity. She does an awesome job of letting the WORLD know that she isn't ready to leave her friends.

Following her nap yesterday afternoon, I did my best to distract her, with the help of the loot from her Easter basket, and attempted to curl her hair. I tried months - maybe even like a year ago - and the curls deflated within minutes. To my delight, I discovered that's no longer the case. Her hair now has the capacity to hold curl. I was giddy as I watched them bounce the remainder of the evening.

We were invited to watch the Pine Wood derby. Due to the small size of our cub scout troop, Eliza and her friends were given the opportunity to participate using cars from past years. Our small, curly haired, necklace wearing, tomboy came in third place. We can't take credit for her win, but it was fun to see her excitement.

This, unfortunately, wordy explanation of yesterday's happenings is what the above photo collage illustrates. Maybe next time I'll forgo the endless paragraphs and just post the pictures. My husband would most certainly like that considering I force him to read, out loud, each word (*Hi Andrew) of each post.

In an effort to prolong his suffering, I'm going to continue on by sharing the best part of the day; which was when the kids were peacefully slumbering their beds and I was watching a new episode of Lost. This is me as I watch the show:

(Cheering & Applause) "It's starting!"


SWOON! (Always Sawyer's fault - too bad he wasn't featured last night).

"Andrew, why aren't you sitting by me? I'm all nervous and stuff. Get over here!"

GASP! Again.

*Smacking Andrew in the Arm*
"Andrew! Don't do that!!" (After he barks into my ear during a particularly intense moment, scaring me more.)

And yet another, GASP!

"Admit it. You Love this show as much as I do!" He totally does.

I look at the clock. I feel sad. Only seven minutes until this episode is over.

Wednesday is currently my favorite day of the week. If you're a fan of Lost, there's a good chance it's your favorite day as well.

As for the least favorite part of my day?

(*insert the sound of you shouting, "WE DON'T CARE!)

Eliza waking me up at 1:00 a.m. to use the potty.

"Ali!!" she screamed. "I NEED ALI!"

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Conference Weekend Recap

Our weekend was eventful.
  • It involved a little interaction with the magical world of Disney,
  • yard work,
  • the fire department extinguishing flames off of the sides of a neighbor's home,
  • a BBQ with newly made friends,
  • listening/watching General Conference and oh yeah....
  • dumpster diving. One guess on who did that.
Don't let that innocent and incredibly attractive face fool you. He's in the business of concocting mischief. More on that later. Let's begin with Miss Eliza Grace,
The two of us indulged in a "Disney Live!" stage show. We were accompanied by her boy toy, Talon & his Mommy, Michelle. Eliza was in awe as she watched "her friends," the Little Einsteins perform on stage - along with: Darby, Tigger, Pooh Bear, Handy Manny and Mickey & company.

Such a rebel, flash photography was totally not permitted

My hunger to visit Disney World has since intensified. Eliza was beyond devastated when the show ended. She was in hysterics as I forced her flailing body out of the building and back into the car.

"I want to stay here with my friends!" She wailed. Up until she lost composure, observing her awe-filled expression was comparable to how it felt to watch her on Christmas morning.

The weather has been sublime. A good portion of our weekend was spent outside.

We replaced the pine needles in our flower beds with black mulch. "Y'all" would be so proud. I raked and collected the pine needles all by my adult self. I worked my land. I have blisters to prove it. I made way for Andrew to shovel in the mulch. Next up; finding flowers that don't need much sun exposure.

A while back I mentioned that Andrew and I had plans to go out with the couple we bought our Forrest Gumpish lawn mower from. The first "date" went well. It went so well, in fact, that they invited us over for a BBQ on Sunday. Between conference sessions, we headed over to enjoy delicious food & great company.

Melissa, and her St. Patty's Day baby Lena soak in some Vitamin D
Tamara & Melissa compete in the game that I'm having a challenging time trying to describe

We played a game that involved throwing - oh gosh - I don't know how to describe the game properly. As I participated in the game, I was reminded that I have zero athletic talent.

For my friends who aren't aware, General Conference is the opportunity given to members of our faith to hear from the leaders of our Church. This happens twice a year. Conference is divided into four general sessions and a fifth for the Priesthood members. I'll post a link to the talk that rocked me to the core (in a good way) once it's available. Any follower of Christ, whether your a member of the LDS church or not, would be uplifted and strengthened by these messages. The one I'm referring to in particular was given by Elder Holland.

During the final session of conference, we heard sirens. The sounds didn't dissipate the way you usually expect. Long story short, a hot coal made it's way out of a neighbor's BBQ grill and onto their lawn, which ignited in seconds The siding on the house soon caught. But the interior, thankfully, was untouched. As for smoke damage, I don't know how bad it was.

Henry participated in the landscaping portion of this weekends festivities. His small bum also graduated to "size three" in diapers. Congratulations young sir. Returning to Andrew and his accomplishments this weekend; not only did he do a stellar job in beautifying our yard, but he also participated in some late night dumpster diving. A home is being built on the lot next to ours. A red dumpster sits near the front of the property line.

"Climb in." It whispers to him. "I'm filled with unwanted treasure... treasure that you might use someday. Or not." 11:30 pm, Sunday night, he gives in. Using stealth, he heads out to stake his claim on some left over pieces of crown molding. He's designing a corner TV stand for our living room and makes plans to utilize them for that purpose.

...note to Olya: Mark the builder granted him permission... dumpster scraps are unfortunately up for grabs!

Our friend Gabe was out at that exact time power walking the neighborhood loop. He noticed Andrew's legs in the air and quickly acted on his impulse to scare him horribly. Wanting to be a participant in the game, Andrew led Gabe to our back door, giving him permission to scare his victim of a wife (that would be me) who, at the time, was engrossed in a romance novel.

"Do you have any sugar" the deep voice demanded. Instantly, I knew that the voice and the shape lurking in my dark kitchen didn't belong to my spouse. I sunk into the couch, horrified beyond measure. Sure, it took approximately two seconds to realize who it was... but those two seconds... man I was completely caught off guard. I may, or may not, have wet myself a little. Gabe's going down!

(from left to right: Andrew, James, Gabe & Shanon)

Ideas on how I can return the favor are welcome!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Not an April Fools Day Joke

"It won't fit in the van. I'm going to borrow Gabe's truck." He said.

Looking back, I realize that statement was a red flag.

Andrew's a project oriented person. I respect that about him. He has an idea and will work incredibly hard until that idea has been brought to fruition. Back in the day, the majority of his "projects" revolved around a 1983 4-runner. The time he spent working on the 4-runner was necessary to keep the ancient beast running. Sadly, we sold our beloved vehicle when we left Zion, I mean Salt Lake, last summer.

The aquarium was a beginning of the year project that I made public. Up until now, I've kept my mouth quiet about the fact that HE SOLD THE AQUARIUM two weeks ago. Is anyone else in the mood for a survey? Good.

Why do you think Andrew sold the aquarium?

A) His wife nagged him to death. He couldn't stand it anymore.
B) To his surprise, he didn't spend time looking at it. "I'm not enjoying it the way I thought I would."
C) His fragile frugal nature was somewhat unnerved, knowing that the aquarium was raising our monthly energy bill.
D) He wanted to replenish his "personal" spending fund for an up and coming project.

If you chose "A" - you don't know my husband very well.

Absolutely I nagged him (at first), but he firmly withstood my complaints. My attitude changed. I grew to appreciate, on a small scale, the fish (bu-dum-CHING!). I told our miniature schools of fish that they scored the fish kingdom lottery.

The fact is, and Andrew would back me up on this statement, I tried to talk him out of selling the aquarium. It grew on me. The kids and their friends loved it. Inspired by my friend Angela's idea, I had plans "decorate" the room with a fish theme. Most of all, I was concerned that Andrew would miss it. I thought I had convinced him to keep it. The next day, while he was at work, I asked him on the phone,

"So, have you thought much about our conversation about the aquarium?"

"Not at all actually. I guess that means I should go ahead with the sale."And now the room is empty and sad. The other reasons I provided were indeed factors in his decision to sell it.

Andrew spends time on Craigslist, looking for who knows what. That question was answered last night as he made is way to a Burger King parking lot to pick up his next project.

You want to see it?

He plans to use it to gather & store rain water. Then, he'll transplant it to water our garden. Smart cookie right? It's just massive. "Vines will cover it" - mmmmkay. He keeps surprising me, that's for certain. It keeps a marriage interesting.

As I look out the window and see this (this location is temporary - it's final resting place will be outside the kitchen window),

330 GALLONS - the fish aquarium was 55

I smother the urge to feel annoyed by remembering all of the reasons why I love him.
The weather... it's been raining, but on Monday, I was able to sit on the patio. Our screen door was open so I could listen for the kids on the monitor as they napped. After resurrecting a tank top, I sat outside and *gasp* got some sun. I actually have a line. That's not an April Fools Day joke either.