Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Final Rewind

One day you're in the arms of your loved ones.... and the next, you're 1900 miles away and void of all babysitters. And Eclipse has opened!(!!!!) And you contemplate making your kids sit through an afternoon viewing while your husband's at work and not telling anyone about it. But then you remember your kids aren't 13 and would be traumatized by all that hotness - so you take them to Monkey Joes instead.
Father's Day dinner at Nanna Teresa's and Bubbas
with our favorites, Uncle Brent and Aunt Katie
and the dearly loved, Grandma "Popcorn"

It was the interaction between my kids and their grandparents that pleased me most. The photos above offer a glimpse of the laughter Henry would spew forth whenever he was near his Bubba. Teresa spent time playing game after game with Eliza, took the kids to the neighbors to jump on their tramp and visit their puppies.

We spent an evening at Grandma Flegal's (a.k.a. Grandma Popcorn's) house. Her roses were in full bloom and looked oh so lovely. Sitting in her living room I thought back to when we first moved into her basement. Eliza was seven weeks old at the time. Henry "came home" to that special place from the hospital. Four months after his arrival a moving truck came and hauled our belongings to South Carolina. Henry has since passed the age Eliza was when we made our big move.


FLASHBACK!!! Summer 2008

We love our grandparents!! Sure, having a nearby babysitter is great... especially when anticipating the birth of a new child. For the record, I don't have plan A (or B or C) set in place for when I go into labor with our upcoming arrival. Aye, Aye, AYE!!!

More than the convenience of family, it's the way they watch your children as they play. The adoration they hold for our kids is like no other. Thank you for loving, tolerating, missing, spoiling and teaching our kids.

I'd like to conclude my Salt Lake City love fest with a few more collages detailing a few other highlights.Oh my dear friends... how I love these ladies.I felt lucky to participate in the play dates, lunch and dinner's out and phone conversations. Flying home I felt regret for the friend's I missed seeing... Tami, Nauvoo Hogs, Keersten, Emily, Whitney, insert YOUR name here, please forgive me.

Time with the kid's cousins at Tyler's birthday party, the zoo and Nana Marie's are all fun memories.I went to the temple twice. The first was to walk the grounds with my children. The second was to serve in the temple with my brother Matt. Driving there, we talked about his amazing fortune in finding his bride to be and how happy they'll make each other. I went out to lunch with the future Allison Mays (funny we share a name, right?) and left wishing that she and I had an opportunity to do that weekly AND that I had closer access to Barbacoa.

The "big outings" were great. But looking back, it's the little ones that mean the most. Until September, we'll be missing you.

I now return this blog to it's regularly scheduled programming.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

I want to be like her.

Dear Ami,
Thank you for flying out to Utah while we were there. It meant a lot to me.

Thank you, thank you for the maternity clothing. I'm a better looking pregnant person with you and your spot on fashion sense in my life.

Thank you for letting your adorable Sara tag along.

Thank your super star spouse for watching and entertaining your two older girls so you could steal away for the weekend.

Thank you for the hair bows you made and gave Eliza. She and I love them.


Lunch at Red Robin with the extended family

Thank you for the lunch outings, shopping trips and making sure my shoe supply never suffers.

Thank you for talking with me on the phone nearly everyday. Listening to me can be tedious so I thank you for your continued patience, advice and example. I miss you more than I say and wish you lived next door.

Love,
Ali

P.S. Per our conversation, the rolls were fabulous. I wish you'd come for dinner ;)

Friday, June 25, 2010

The Lake Powell Post

Fish, Fish!! She got her wish!For months, Eliza has petitioned the heavens for an opportunity to return to Lake Powell. Earlier this month, her wish came to pass. And you know what? We were joined by some of our favorite people ever!

Great to see you, Taylor Family!Living far away from our Arizona cousins is not easy, but I have to say that you couldn't choose a better location to catch up and bond than Lake Powell. Meeting their newest family member, Tennessee Winson, was sure exciting as well.

Eliza wasted no time in reacquainting herself with everyone. The kid's favorite pastimes included: hide and seek, afternoon picnics, coloring, games around the table, boating, marshmallow roasting, sand castle constructing, serving up mud inspired ice cream cones and swimming in the lake.
Circumstances would have been close to perfect if our entire family had been able to come. The voids felt for the Jensen and Green families were genuine. They were in our thoughts and in our conversations. Aside from their absence and a nasty visit from the throw-up monster, our time there was ideally spent.

"THE THROW UP MONSTER?! No!!!! Swim for your life!!!!"

Eliza's fear was justifiable as we watched 3/4 of our company fall victim to the nasty flu. Our bodies were like ticking time bombs. The suspense of "when" and "how bad" it would hit weighed heavily on our minds; or maybe that was just me because I am a slightly over anxious individual.


"Sickness? What sickness?"

It's true. Henry was miraculously spared... Andrew and I did alright too. While some were totally out of commission, Eliza seemed to bounce back quickly. I'll spare you the details of what the illness entailed but I'll just say that I don't think any of us will ever look at a sand pail the same way again.

Onto the highlights!
Tubing, wake boarding and water skiing! Eliza was nothing but reluctant about going into the tube. We forced her. I held her as her tears quickly transformed into peels of laughter. The following day, she rode without the comfort of a parent. It was surreal seeing my "baby" bouncing in the tube while in the company of her older cousins. Time with Uncle Mike was another highlight.

I felt a weight lifted when he arrived. Henry opened up to him quickly. They napped, they played, they bonded. Mike has a knack for teasing Eliza... so does the rest of the world. However, he was able to resist the desire to throw her in the lake because of her polite manner - so he said. What a good sport he (and all her cousins) was in letting her push him repeatedly into the lake.
Henry and his friend Relly...

Henry regressed from last year's relaxed, go with the flow temperament. He was a little overwhelmed and intimidated by the water. I can't blame him. On our first day, he fell off of the ramp into the water which wasn't that deep, but he did go under. I was busy wetting myself as Andrew made the insanely fast rescue. Boating was likewise scary as he would only tolerate it from my lap.

His favorite spot was the bench in the kitchen. He enjoyed looking out the window, playing with Relly, eating the amazing food, driving the boat with Bubba etc.That's not to say that he didn't spend time on the beach and wading in the water because he did. But in comparison to his free spirited, fully blissed out sister... he was emotionally needy. Thanks Syrelle (and cousins) for being his special friend.
Fishing was a daily occurrence. Andrew quickly obliged Eliza's fishing requests. Both of the kids caught catfish on their own and were extremely pleased with their efforts. After reeling in her catch, Eliza threw the pole to Andrew as she darted to a safe viewing distance.

Not expecting Henry to catch anything, it was a lucky thing Andrew was in close proximity when he did. Henry needed the additional support as that catfish could have won their little game of tug-o-war.

Dive board battles and back of the boat swimming are two of my favorite memories... not that I participated in said battles, but it was sure entertaining to watch. When Henry saw the above photos of Cecelia washing her hair, he remarked,

"Look! An Elf!" Cecelia doesn't know how to simply jump off the diving board. She energetically strikes poses when jumping off the board. She sure is talented and entertaining!

Games around the table, talks with Shipley and Sara, star gazing and camp fire singing were likewise memorable. But I have to say there is something magical about waking up to my silently smiling children in a tent and falling asleep under the stars while cuddled up to Mr. Right.I love these kids; including Tennessee. I wanted to take him home with us.
Flegal Family, Lake Powell June 2010

One of my favorite conversations from this trip happened with Shipley and Wickman. Three days into the trip they asked,

"Why are you still white?"

"Skin this white is rare. You have to do your best to preserve it... actually it's just they way I'm genetically wired..." was my response.

"Oh, I just thought the sun didn't shine where you guys live."

I wish we'd thought to take a group picture with the Ipson family before they left. Andrew's cute cousin Natalie and her family joined us for a few days. It was neat getting to know her better as I've been a fan of hers from a distance thanks in part to the blogging world. Her girls are adorable, Natalie and Cory are amazing parents and Eliza was definitely sad when Lilly left.

More to come on how blessed we are to be loved by our Bubba and Nanna, but I want to quickly tell them "thanks again" for all their efforts in providing us with such a neat experience each year. We love you!!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

an ideal welcome... because it involved pizza.

Let's begin with an emotionally infused mathematical equation. It's appropriate because such things exist in my world.

Spending time with family + great food + my parent's backyard on a summer evening =

what I've longed for most since moving away.

Lucky for me, we didn't waste much time in planning such an event. First order of business... round up all available cousins.

Next, make sure that Uncle Matt invites his soon to be fiance, Miss Allison (more on her later!). The actual proposal happened a few days later while we were in Lake Powell. It's okay if you're a little bit jealous that Matthew's hair is similarly matched to Will Shuester's.

I know Sue Sylvester is.
''I thought I smelled cookies wafting from the ovens of the little elves that live in your hair.'' Moving on.

To the delight of the children and those of us with properly functioning taste buds (and a blatant disregard for our caloric intake), pizza was on the menu.
The boys made sure to keep their distance from those crazy girls ;) They may be few in numbers, but their presence is strong.
Uncle Mike quickly won Eliza over as he patiently played baseball with her. Cousin Emilee wowed us all when she took to the plate. She is definitely an athlete.

Dress-ups, a treasure hunt, time on the swing set and a pregnant lady's personal emotional meltdown ensued. I'm not sure what it was, but I suddenly felt weepy as I chose to take a leave of absence from the adults. I nominated myself to stay outside with the kids as I did my best to quit those, "I wish my kids had this all the time" tears. Thank goodness for sunglasses and a Mother who patiently listened.

It was a joy watching our family get to know Eliza and Henry. I should acknowledge that on some level it's disappointing to have to begin a thought with a sentence of that nature; but it's totally true. One of the highlights for me came during those first moments of interaction between my siblings and my children. Being accustomed to Eliza's verbose personality, I enjoyed watching the look of surprise and delight on their faces as she prattled on. *Side note: Eliza sat back and visited with the flight attendants for 15+ minutes following a trip to the bathroom. After using the restroom she said,

"I want to keep talking with those nice ladies." And so she did. She invited them to next year's birthday party, recounted her Lake Powell experience, stated her address, shared her astrological sign (kidding), etc.

Henry was in and out of his "shell" those first few days, but likewise demonstrated throughout the trip that he has grown up. His ability to communicate, throw a fit and be a part of the crowd has definitely increased since our last visit at Christmas.

(Imagining myself doing a commercial voice over:) With Andrew's arrival only days away, it was time to prepare for Lake Powell. That's coming up next.

The Challenge

This morning, we seem to be suffering from a case of the frowns.

(Eliza's expression captures the essence of "the frown" well)

Andrew sent me an e-mail from work this morning. In it, he expressed his hope that I wasn't hurting too much from "mommy withdrawal."


(It's hard not to when you belong to someone like her.)

He knows me well. I'm impressed with the way he classified my condition.

And while it's easy to turn on that sadness, I'm trying my best to focus on the gratitude that accompanied me home yesterday. We were blessed with good health, beautiful weather, happy children and special experiences with the best family on the planet (you're totally allowed to express bias when blogging...annoying, but allowable).

The challenge I find after a vacation is going back to document the memories. I don't enjoy posting travelogues as I usually prefer to write what's presently on my mind...

A quick example:

After examining the contents of our kitchen this morning, I'm concerned about what or if my husband's been eating during the week and three days we were apart. I ought to turn off the computer and hasten my buns to the store to remedy the bleak situation that is our pantry/fridge. Consider it done.

Returning to the challenge, I owe it to my blog book (a.k.a myself and family) to revisit in a fast and furious manner our summer vacation to Utah. I'll do my best to keep things interesting (for both our sakes), brief (LOL) and orderly (because I'm anal).

Up first, the pizza party picnic.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Until Next Time


"Peace out Salt Lake City!"
p.s. I love you most Mom.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

In Good Company

Dear Daddy,

Happy Father's Day! Thank you for working hard for our family and for being our greatest friend.

When remembering Father's Day 2010, Mom will remember how excited she was to skype with you this afternoon. We think she even let out an awkward giggle when she heard your voice. Eliza enjoyed watching you open the present she left for you.

"It's a plate!" She kept telling you. In case you couldn't tell. We thought her camp fire drawing and picture of your garden (on said plate) was entirely appropriate! Henry sang "Child of God" for you as he drummed on the mason jar lids and lit up with happiness when you showed him the fish tank.

Church was likewise memorable. Eliza joined a primary choir of children, she'd never met, up on the stand for the musical number. She smiled brightly as she waited for the music to begin. 35 seconds later she dramatically placed a hand on her cheek, raced down the steps and announced (during the musical number) that she didn't remember the words to that song.

And while we miss you dearly, please know that we've been in the best of hands during our time apart.
We were pretty lucky to spend the holiday with our wonderful grandfathers.
Even with all of their love and attention (and trust us, it's sure been abundant), you were on our mind all day.
Love
Eliza, Henry & Baby
P.S. Don't mind Mom's leggings. She has a hard time seeing what's going on past that belly of hers.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Sleep Away Camp

For the past two weeks, my children and I have been adventuring in the West.


It began with an, "I could vomit it's too early," type of flight out of South Carolina. Traveling to the airport, I privately reprimanded myself for breaking my personal promise to quit the practice of scheduling 7:00 a.m. flights. But alas, my resolve failed me when it came time to book our tickets. Rousing children from sleep at 5:00 a.m. feels cruel. Eliza, however, being blessed with a cheery, and somewhat unnatural, disposition no matter when she is awakened bounced out bed. Henry was more human (a.k.a. ticked off) in his response.


Usually, it's cheaper to fly on a weekday. Having celebrated Henry's second birthday in March, we now have the privilege of paying for FOUR round trip airline tickets; which means you do what you can to cut costs. Wanting to utilize his vacation days wisely, Andrew followed us to Utah the weekend following our departure.


I now return to the story of our flight... because you know, sometimes the most memorable moments of a vacation occur en route.


Mustering up a batch of bravery, the children and I made our way through the airport's security without the helpful arms of my dear spouse. I maneuvered our belongings confidently and praised the children for their obedient behavior. The looks of pity and/or worry from strangers no longer phase me. In fact, one travel worn teenager looked up from her IPOD as we approached our connecting gate out of Atlanta.


"You are so brave!" she offered. CLEARLY, judging from the expression on her face, she meant, "Lady, you are insane." Perhaps I'm setting myself up for a disaster of an experience, but I have to say that after successfully completing several (as in 15 +) flights with children, I feel competent in this arena. I may not know how to sew a cute apron and have zero ideas on what color to paint our front entryway; but I do know what to pack when traveling with my children and how to make the experience exciting while ensuring that they feel secure. There, I said it. Now wait and watch as I lose (heaven forbid) someone at an airport or find the lot of us stuck on the tarmac for five hours with non functioning restrooms.


A few bright moments came from Eliza as we prepared for our first flight. It's 6:45 a.m. The estimated flight time to Atlanta is a mere 45 minutes. It's still dark outside as my daughter finds herself seated across the aisle from her Mother and younger sibling.


"Are you going to be okay by yourself?" I worry aloud. Not wanting to frighten her I follow up by saying, "I mean, we can still hold hands, I can pass you your coloring books," etc.


"Sure, Mom" she chirps. However, as the minutes pass, she begins to look concerned. The seat next to her was vacant. This would not do.


"Excuse me," she hollers to the boarding passengers, "Who would like to sit by me?" Singling out one person in particular she points at them and continues,


"How about you? You can sit by me." Smiling at her, they continue on to a different seat. Finally, her suspense breaks as a middle aged man approaches her row. I make some lame comment about his luck in having additional leg room. Eliza, thankfully, interrupts my lameness with a short introduction and brief biography on her four years of life.


Noticing the smell of the man's coffee, she takes a break from their one sided conversation to inform me,


"Mom, I do not like the way this man smells." Certain the man heard the insult, I reassure him that she isn't used to the smell of coffee and that I was positive the he smelled absolutely fine - which made my total of awkward remarks jump from one to TWO. Awesome. We weren't even off the ground yet.


Speaking of that particular moment, as the engine began to hum, Eliza began her countdown... Little Einstein style.


"5...4...3...2...1..." she whispered. And then, as the plane began to take flight she SCREAMED. I mean like, totally bellowed,


"BLAST OFF!!!!" And the sleepy plane erupted in laughter.


My favorite Henry comment occurred as we waited for our stroller after arriving in Atlanta.


"Mom, I'm ready to go home now." He was totally serious.


The rest of the morning passed without incident; other than being surprised when a member of our ward boarded our same plane to Salt Lake from Atlanta. Since our arrival, the children and I have been playing musical beds as we've hopped from my Mom's guest room, to a houseboat in Lake Powell, to my in-laws home and back again to my Mom's. And while they haven't been perfect, I'm certainly pleased with my traveling companions and the flexibility in their behavior.


I've attempted to recap the first of our 14 days away from the South. I ought to conclude for now and wait to detail the rest with the aid of pictures. And while our flight here was smooth, that certainly wasn't the most memorable of moments that have passed. With my husband back in the South, I'll continue to relish being in Utah with Eliza and Henry.


Each day, I find myself soaking in the view of my parent's backyard. It serves as a reminder of the happy memories that are made each summer with our family. My mother in law's beautiful rose garden symbolizes on the cheesiest of levels, the beauty that has been our welcome this year. And finally, for one last view...We were lucky enough to enjoy this scene during the first week of our stay. When I told a friend in South Carolina that we'd be spending time on a houseboat while in Utah, they replied with a naive,

"I didn't know Utah had lakes" type of comment. So, dear friend, consider that photo your first piece of evidence.

The countdown is on until we board the plane and rejoin my other half. In the meantime, we'll keep squeezing in as many visits as we can while Andrew paints and touches up our walls to his heart's content (HINT, HINT Andrew!).

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Outnumbered

Wish them luck!
Come October, they'll be receiving an extra dose of all things girl!!

The first photo of Mom with with her girls!!

The best news of the day is that she looks healthy and well! We are super thrilled!

The tears of gratitude came as I drove away from the doctor's office. I was overcome as I tasted of the love Heavenly Father has for the child that's preparing to meet our family. I apologize for the constant display of sentimentality but as I said to my Mom on the phone, who can blame me for the high emotion when I have an extra batch of girl-ness roaring through me?

Eliza's reaction to the news: "I'm so excited! I've never had a sister before!"

Henry's thoughts, although they weren't verbalized, "I told you so."

Andrew, as we sat in the waiting room asked, "What reaction are you looking for exactly?"

"Happiness!" was my response. In all seriousness, he is happy.

"If it is a boy," I cautioned, "please do not use the f-word while we're in there. It might spoil the moment just a little." Looking a little shocked as I watched him assume the wrong definition, I followed up with,

"Forrest. Just wait a day before mentioning the name Forrest."

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Tomorrow's the Day!!

Team Pink?or Team Blue?And while I can imagine the excitement of waiting until the actual birth to find out, Andrew and I are set on finding out the gender tomorrow. Here's hoping the baby won't be shy.